Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Book Review: The Last Letter from Your Lover, by Jojo Moyes


Remember, waiting for the postman to deliver that one letter that sets your heart racing like a galloping horse? Remember, reading the words and savoring the words, knowing they were written only for you? 

Bring back the memories of love
When you pick up Jojo Moyes' novel, The Last Letter from Your Lover, you open yourself to a lot of memories in your life. Sometimes, a handful of words can bring back treasured moments of words back to your heart's nest. At other times, words can hurt. We know that when some one's words hurt us but we don't always realize that our words hurt others too. This book isn't preachy but it makes us wish that we could begin writing those letters all over again. Make our hearts rhyme and be young again.

The best part of the book is that the beginning of each chapter is headed by a real life message/update/sms that one lover sent the other while breaking up. It's touching at times, funny and mean at other times and then, overall, am wonderstruck that people can actually say things like this to each other while breaking up!

A Story of Forbidden Love
The story begins with Ellie, a dissatisfied young journalist, who becomes drawn into an old letter that she stumbles onto while searching for a feature story in the archives section. She finds a bunch of these letters written by a beautiful married woman called Jennifer Stirling, wife of a wealthy industrialist, and addressed to Anthony, a playboy reporter who covers foreign affairs.  

Their letters captivate Ellie, whose affair with a married man, is bringing her nothing but unhappiness and misery. Through these letters, Ellie realizes that the problems faced by those in love hadn't changed with time, they still recurred in new avatars, one way or the other but the treatment had changed. Once upon a time, it was these letters, poignant with poetry and pure romance, that lent a sanctity and irrepressible beauty to the concept of love. But now, people break up through curt smses or Facebook updates instead. Without meaning to, Ellie goes in search of these two people and unites them despite the odds.

Love Letters  of Yesteryears
From one of the letters given in the book:

"I am not as strong as you. When I first met you, I thought you were a fragile little thing, some one I had to protect. Now I realize I had us all wrong. You are the strong one, the one who can endure living with the possibility of a love like this and the fact that we'd never be alowed it..."

"I need to be somewhere where sheer necessity forces you from my thoughts minute by minute, hour by hour. That cannot happen here...I am going to take that job..."


Masterly in its narrative, Jojo Moyes' novel, The Last Letter from Your Lover,  urges us to write to those whom we love and reminds us that the power of the written word is tremendous because once written, it lives forever. Make the written words count for you and speak to the world about who you really are. It's time to write and love again. 

Again, from the book:

"Your words, your emotions have induced a greed in me.  Can we ask for so much? Do i dare see you again? The fates have been so unforgiving, some part of me believes we cannot meet...."

When Ellie finds and unites the not-so-young lovers, I particularly loved this line by Jojo Moyes, "The best journalists know when to bow out of a story."

This book is a must-read, unputdownable book for any person who gives heart and soul into nurturing relationships truly. You've got to read it.

Would love to know your thoughts, dear friends.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Movie Review: Dancing at Lughnasa & Meryl Streep is its Star


 
I enjoyed watching this movie, that is based on Brian Friel's play, Dancing at Lughnasa. Of course, the fact that I love Meryl Streep and her performances is the real reason I picked up the DVD of this movie to watch.



SIBLINGS: THEIR CONFLICTS & IDEALS
It's hard not to feel warmly towards the five lonely unmarried Mundy sisters, with Meryl Streep in the role of the strict school teacher named Kate, Catherine McCormack playing the role of Christina, Kathy Burke playing Maggie, Sophie Thompson acting as Rose and Brid Brennan playing her role as Agnes. Their moments of conflict, nostalgia and love are beautifully portrayed through this movie despite its lack luster script and dialogues. Each sister has a definite sense of what's right and that's so natural in a family where siblings are likely to feel that way. However, even when such conflicts are not resolved, they learn to love and accept each other's shortcomings.

STORY OF THE MUNDY SISTERS
The sisters live in a bleak and remote Irish village, where the festival of Lughnasa is a pagan celebration of love and letting go. A bitter sweet note is added to their existence by the presence of Christina's 8-year-old "love child," whose name is Michael. Meanwhile, their brother returns from Uganda after25 years and he is a priest named Father Jack. Their shock and bewilderment gives way to acceptance when they realize that Father Jack is living in a world of his own that is inhabited by pagan religion and faith than Christianity for such has the impact of Africa been on his mind. 

EACH SISTER TOLD TO HAVE A LOVE CHILD AS IN AFRICA
There are so many memorable moments in this movie. Here's one that I liked: Kate (Meryl Streep) is the strict, domineering sister, almost like the matriarchal figure who keeps a close and watchful eye on the behavior of her sisters. She is scandalized when her priest-brother says to the sisters that he would be happy to see them all have a love child, a popular practice in Africa.

LOVE IN THE LIFE OF THE SISTERS
Among the sisters, Kate is the beauty and her love for the man of her life leaves her with a love child. She doesn't mind but she pines for the man of her dreams, who returns and brings with him more love and passion that lasts in her life.

Rose is one of the simple minded sisters in the story whose passion is to go out with Danny Bradley in the boat that he's promised to take her on. She is too simple, trusting and easily fooled, due to which her sisters are very protective about her and caution her against getting involved with a married man and a flirt like Danny. Her heart tells her otherwise and she goes ahead with what she believes is the right way.
 
BEAUTIFUL CINEMATOGRAPHY
Though I am not an expert on the subject, I loved the look and feel of Kenneth MacMillan's cinematography. The Irish countryside scenes are breathtakingly beautiful.

Dancing at Lughnasa is a very different kind of a movie. It is sombre, slow, romantic and beautifully shot. It has its fine moments too that leave a feeling of homesickness and nostalgia in your mind, particularly if you have siblings. Meryl Streep's controlled performance is awesome but I'd have liked to see some real happiness in her characterization. If you think it's interesting, do go and watch it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Back to Petals!

Yesterday, I decided to stop blogging. It was a decision that was not taken in haste. But I found myself totally miserable and upset with myself after deciding so. This place, Petals!, is my home, where my dreams, aspirations and thoughts fly around like kites in the sky. I couldn't simply walk off. No. 

This morning, I was still unsure. I felt that maybe I should simply let go and then deep within, I knew that I couldn't.


A tweet that I saw from a dear friend on Twitter, You-know-whu, inspired me deeply and  made me make up my mind, his tweet goes like this "There comes a point in your life when you realize who really matters, who never did and who always will."

I know that Petals! is one of the things that matters a lot to my happiness of being in this world and I decided that I'd come back and be here no matter what.

It's my home and this is where I belong. And yes, I deleted my previous post because I don't ever want to be reminded of it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

How to Eat our Food by knowing the ingredients

I never thought seriously about this - how to eat and savour food till I read "Guess what we are eating..." by Vasundhara Chauhan (published in The Hindu, Sunday Supplement, "Gourmet Files", June 12, 2011.)

The writer confesses that she loves to probe into the food she eats because it makes it so much more interesting. She cites boredom and ego as a reason for contemporary styles of cooking such as making garlic payasam instead of the conventional rice kheer. Today's hostesses need to prove to their guests that they are creative and not boring enough to plate up what's been known and tasted many times before.

That got me thinking. I enjoy making food that tastes new. The ordinary cheese sandwich tastes yummier with an additional layer - dash of salad cream, mustard, olives and jalapenos. I am the one who's having it and it's not really about my ego but I just want to eat something other than the ordinary sandwich. Same goes with pasta. I love to add new things to perk up pasta. Sometimes, I add pan-fried garlic aubergines cooked in butter to pasta and to me, it is so heavenly. But that doesn't mean I eat only this version of it, you know.


You can do so much with different food textures and not necessarily drain your savings. You can also follow only the time old recipes, which are good for occasions that you can mark them for. 

But I agree with the main point of the author - it's really interesting to find out the ingredients that go into the food we eat. How to eat is not as important as being aware of what it is one's tasting in the form of the food that sustains us. There's so much to know, isn't there?
 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Some Art & Craft & Yummy Kulfi!

Here are some pics that I clicked when I went to see an Indian cultural festival called JayaUtsav in New Delhi that showcased Indian art, craft, dance, story telling and music from different states. 

Artisans from different states showcased their work.


 


                                                  
Here, you can find artists at work.

                                                       I wish they smiled though.

This lady in the green saree was an amazing performer and entertainer. Narrating Harikatha, she made it so lively and interesting, bursting into song, tears and laughter as she got into the mood of the story. The elite audience were mesmerized by her performance and her theatrical style of performing with such confidence. 


And here, you can see my little prince enjoying the kulfi - while I am left with the camera to click this happy, delectable & mouth-watering kulfi shot! Some one, fetch me a kulfi please!!!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Love You God & All

“A little grain of sand has mass. A very small mass but mass nonetheless, and because this grain of sand has mass, it therefore exerts gravity. Again, too small to feel, but there…a thought too is an actual thing, a measurable entity with a measurable mass…If a thought has mass, then it can exert gravity and pull things towards it. If enough people begin thinking the same thing, then the gravitational force of that thought becomes tangible and it exerts actual force. And it can have a measurable effect in our physical world.” -  Dan Brown (The Lost Symbol)

MY BELOVED
Pranams at your lotus feet. Thank you, Swami, for everything.


I seek the blessings of my beloved uncle, Shri Shiva Dathan Menon and my mother’s mother, Meenakshi Amma. I believe they are always watching over me and protecting me from another world.

MY FAMILY
Our happiness is enclosed in a glass case, so fragile that it seems it can shatter at a touch of the fears that surround it. – Shashi Deshpande (Small Remedies)

My dad and mom, my husband & son – for their unconditional love and support, their trust and confidence in me and the gift of togetherness that made me who I am today.  

Achan  –  for his strong support, guidance and love.
Amma –   for being my best friend,  for loving and pampering & for trusting me.
Mridhul & Nandini – for the fun filled, good times we enjoy together as a family.
Neel  – for being Adi’s older brother & great friend.

My sister – Sangeetha & Vihaan, both are dearest to my heart and Rajit, who’s a part of our happiness. My brothers – Manoj Menon & Praveen Menon – you are a blessing for my parents. Rakesh S.Babu – whom I grew up with & considering all the troubles he’s put me through when we were kids!  

Vinitha & Vivek Prasannan – for being my siblings at a time when I had no one, for looking out for me & supporting my family with total trust, love & confidence.

MY FRIENDS
Among friends, there are so many wonderful people I’d like to give credit to because they have inspired me in various phases of my life. Sorry, I can’t mention every one coz that could take pages and pages. I thank all my cousins, school and college friends, and colleagues for their support and love. Everyone at Veda Informatics – a big thank you!

Many thanks to my dearest friends from Twitter, Facebook and Blogger – I value each and every one of them even when we have differences of opinion. These friends console me when I’ve had a bad day, call me up personally if I am feeling upset about something. They are my support system and they expect nothing in return. I couldn’t have imagined any one would care so deeply.

If in my words, blogs, tweets or updates or in anyway, I have hurt your feelings, believe me, it is and has never been intentional. So then, this is my straight-from-the-heart request - please forgive me & let's start again.
And most importantly, thank you, each and every one of you for the overwhelming love you've brought into my life.

Love you God & all.

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