Much Awaited…

I have been waiting to read this book since 2013. That is like 5 whole years!

A combination of self made-excuses, lack of budget and my own procrastination kept me away. Every time I picked up this big book, I would crave to read it with all my heart, but then I would put it back on the shelves of the bookstore. The bookshop had a lovely name, Crossword. I really loved the store. But the books were always out of my budget.

Fate and prayers bought me here, to a land that has offered me a free pass at my book heaven, the public Library.

So here I am, completely transported to a whole new level of reading. “INFERNO” by Dan Brown.

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This thick 600 something paged book captured the reality, a horrific yet real picture of the world.

A little review; Robert Langdon, an Arts Professor at an American University is being chased along with a young intellectual doctor in a hunt for a bio hazard that a mad scientist has created to destroy the world. A real thriller that puts the reader in for a ride wondering who is on the right path and if the world famous Langdon has really done a major theft. The book runs intricately through world Art history, majorly focusing on the commendable works of Dante Alighieri.

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Dante Alighieri

What hit me from the book:

It took me a whole week to completely read the book. This wasn’t a book to skim. I checked out each mentioned historic site and its importance on the web. Exquisitely described, the city of Florence and Turkey has landed on my places to visit list. Someday.

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City of Florence
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City of Venice

The levels of hell as expressed by Dante sparked my interest to a great deal. Being a Muslim, I have read about the horrors of hell. But nothing prepared me for the horrendous visual trip as is the painting by Botticelli for the Divine Comedy, a description of the levels of hell mapped by Dante. The concept of passing through the levels of punishment, meeting Satan himself, walking out reverse to the purgatory and finally to paradise. It was a real treat to the eyes. It also made me wonder, how deep must have the two geniuses thought on the topic, read scriptures and books and conjured up the most horrific depiction of Hell I have ever seen. Langdon finds this map of hell in a projection canister he takes along with him, trying to unravel the mystery.

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Map of Hell by Botticelli
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La Mappa Dell’Inferno

Hunting for clues, Dan Brown has painted a visual tour of the city of Venice, Florence and Istanbul as Langdon races to unravel the mystery.

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Hagia Sophia (Istanbul, Turkey)
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Hagia Sophia (Interior)

Standing from a distance, the book revolves around the core issue of the world, the rising population and the consequences of it. A threatening reference to the Black Plague that terrified the world centuries ago, Bertrand Zobrist creates a mystifying virus that threatens the population. All the top officials along with a powerful shady organisation join hands to close in on the virus, only to find out that it has been released into the atmosphere and has embedded itself into the genes of the world population. Zobrist’s assistant who is the only one who knows everything about the secret, herself hides her identity so well, that I did not have the slightest clue. When her cover blew, I was like Whoaaaa!!! Dr Sienna Brooks, eventually realises the gravity of the issue, tells in the whole story and brings out the truth. The virus was meant to cause planet-wide selective infertility that would narrow down the population without any harm as in the Plague.

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The Four Bronze Horses of St. Mark

This raised the question of how wrong is wrong. How immoral is being immoral. Who decides that. According to Zobrist, he did a service to humanity by creating the virus that would narrow down the population and allow the living ones to a better life of technological advancement and comforts of life. According to the WHO and every other scientist and humanitarian thinker, a human does not have the right to control the fertility and choice of reproduction on behalf of another human, let alone the planet. That is morally and ethically wrong to meddle with the genes of others no matter what the justifications. Zobrist however argued with his logic that over population would lead to the collective death of people.

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Death Mask of Dante
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Plague Doctor Mask

This is a very intriguing and debatable topic. I believe that none should meddle with the way of nature. The end is definite. Till then, maybe we should focus on making the most of our lives and the ones we love. Maybe we should stop being judgmental. Maybe we should focus more on forgiving than in breaking apart. Maybe we should spread more love and think less of reasons to hate. Maybe we should be happy with what we have than to let the deadly sins overtake us for want of more.

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The Cistern where the Bio Hazard Virus was immersed.

Why this book fit my interest? I lust after intelligence. Reading a book filled with an insightful viewpoint, etched in enlightening knowledge, painting history better than school books, throwing a fresh limelight on writers, painters and philosophers, completely blow me away.

For me, an intelligent book is like the eagle that flies higher than the rumbling clouds. A clear sighted map that guides the reader, makes a difference, leaves a mark.

Inferno did that to me. I am a person of depth. I like to think about different things. About concepts, about solutions to problems.

I am here 2:00 am in my room, unable to sleep, unable to shoo away my laptop for the night. I have a fire in me. The fire that is making me type away with fury. There is more to this world than just eating and running chores. No, there is more to it.

There was a fresh breeze that flew through me each time I turned the pages of Inferno. When I finished reading the book, the world looked different. Every human looked different. It made me powerful. It made me think that a little person like me could make a huge impact in the lives around me. I could change a lot in the world if I wanted to. It takes a good and right education, self power and confidence, an enlightened mind to drive a person to make a change.

Maybe…someday..I might write out my thoughts to the world….

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My most favourite lines from the book.
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The Woman in Cabin 10

I picked this book off the shelf of the library instantly. The cover art and the title drew me to it.

After an informative and educative read of Inferno by Dan Brown, this was an easy to read book.

I took it with me to the park with the kids to read.

It took me around 2 days to complete it.

The words lead easily from one page to another. A somewhat simple beginning to a heart throbbing discovery at the end.

Brilliant book.

The plot begins with a slightly alcoholic Lo Blacklock who is a journalist. She gets a break to cover a press trip on the maiden voyage of the ship Auriela Boriealis. The ship being named after the Northern Lights.

Prior to the trip, there is a break-in at Lo’s house that leaves her shaken and disturbed. As such she is a victim of depression and is on medication.

She somehow gathers courage and with encouragement and a little rife with her beau she heads on to the journey.

The ship is a rather small cruise ship with 10 cabins each named after Scandinavian Nobel Prize winners.

Being on number 9 cabin, Lo borrows a mascara from her neighbour cabin-mate for the first dinner night.

When they retire for the night, insomnia, seasickness, anxiety attacks and her spinning head wake Lo in the middle of the night. When she hears a huge splash.

As she rushes to see from her veranda, she sees a body of a woman falling into the water, then she sees a smear of blood across the window pane of Cabin 10. She fears for the woman and instantly raises panic.

But strangely, the head of the ship staff confirms to her that it is her imagination as there is actually no blood smear and also nobody was staying in cabin 10 at all.

Lo doesn’t give up easily and she keeps trying to find the truth. She also raises a lot of alarm. She has her ex-beau on the cruise too. He tries to help her but inadvertenty appears to be the killer of the missing girl according to Lo.

The story goes on smoothly, beautifully worded that gives the real feel of claustrobhia. There are some shocking disclaimer emails in the middle that her beau raises on the shoreside that Lo hasn’t contacted anybody after she boarded the ship. It is almost like she is missing. Then the Norwegian authorities receive the body of a woman.

Suddenly all evidences that the woman existed in cabin 10 are erased or destroyed. The whole thing makes Lo look like she has been hallicinating. And then she gets kidnapped. All hell in the story then breaks loose.

Apparently the owner of the ship, Richard Bullmer has a wife afflicted with cancer. She being of aristocratic wealth and he just a common man who struck lucky marrying right. Until she turned out to be a snob who did not like him and kept herself home.

So Richard becomes lucky again finding a woman who looks almost similar to his wife, Anne. And so the game between them began.

The real Anne would stay in her Norway home out of public view. So Richard would walk around his important meetings and visit with his look-alike Anne. With the right touch ups of makeup no one could tell.

Until Lo gets kidnapped.

Then the girl turns up and after a long session of negotiation spills out the horrendous accidental death of the real Anne, and she was ordered by Richard to throw her across the ship on that fateful night. The incident was scarring for the girl and she ended up trusting Lo and saving her, setting her free. Lo runs out while missing danger by inches at her heel. She finally reaches her home in London. Shockingly there is a fight on board the ship in the end in which Richard is shot dead and overthrown the ship.

A lovely smooth book. Perfect words and immaculate description of feelings and surroundings. I enjoyed this one too!

Nibah…My take on the series…

So why am I choosing to do another post on the Tv series Nibah. The previous post was the review or storyline. This is dedicated to what I found the most amazing about it.

I was taken by the acting of Amina Sheikh. A beautiful, resilient woman. The whole world hurtled boulders across her life. Yet she stood like a wall. Broken from the inside, yet strength in her words. Her head held high because she KNEW she was right. She knew that being RIGHT mattered only when it came to her Self Respect and the question of reputation and character. She knew rightly when to bend to mend the relationships. She knew to be silent, leaving fate / karma to act on her behalf.

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Nothing could break her righteousness. She forgave easily and embraced happiness like no other character in the story. She let the whole world crumble at her feet watching everything in silence, yet knowing that the last winner is the one who is always right and not the devious.

Her character brought a lot of calm to me. It made want to be like her. Strong and resilient among the storms of life. Nobody should be troubled the way she was. She questioned her fate, spoke of her troubles to the skies, and trusted in God with all her might.

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The most well played out scene in the entire series which easily shattered my heart to billion pieces was just a scene of a few minutes. No words. Just the eyes connecting. Everything said in those emotions in the eyes of Shaheer and Sofia.

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Just this one scene. Here Sofia has gone home with her father after being thoroughly disconnected with Shaheer due to his accusations. She has gone back to school. After feeling humiliated by the school Principal and her colleagues, she stood outside trying to catch a cab home. Shaheer comes by in his luxury suv to pick his kids from school. For a good minute he looks and connects with Sofia’s eyes. Just this look between them was shattering.

This look of love, of regret, of doubts, of betrayal….Shaheer displays sadness to see his still-wife in such simple clothes deprived of the luxury he could afford for her. He feels sadness to see her so far away from him. Then he overcomes with anger of betrayal and drives away in indifference. Meanwhile Sofia looks at him with an expression that spells out that of all the people in the world, she wanted only Him to know that she hadn’t betrayed him. That she loved him.

Sometimes the eyes know and the heart feels, its the brain that fuzzes up everything destroying a lot in the middle. True love connects. It definitely does connect and sees beyond beauty, beyond wealth, beyond age, beyond anything. It just recognizes the soul that needs to be around. It needs the aura to emanate and radiate to thrive. It needs to be needed. That’s love…the true one….

Nibah… a closure…

Its raining outside gently….a romantic song in the backdrop….perfect setting for a new blog post…

As I had mentioned earlier, there is a tiny little hobby I developed. Binge-watching Pakistani dramas. Not all of them. Some of them.

The one that caught my whole attention and I couldn’t wait every Friday for the new episode to be telecast-ed.

The show named being Nibah.

Beautiful story, elegantly enacted, outstanding performance of all of the characters, eloquently worded with the right amount poetic verses. Most of all, the exemplary ability to raise emotions of anger, happiness and sadness for the characters in the story.

It annoyed me to be disturbed while watching the episodes.

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Although this TV series has nothing in common with my life, it is something amazing.

The story begins with a lovely family of five. A middle-aged couple with two teenage children and a little girl. Their lavish happy lifestyle is struck down with an unfortunate attack of cancer to the centre of the family- the mother Saiqa (Played by Savera Nadeem).

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Absolutely elegant character of a mother who showed the importance of bonding the family together.

Upon her death her devastated husband, Shaheer ( Played by Asif Raza Mir) is advised by his dear friend to find a way to open up for a new woman in his life for himself and his children who badly need a mother.

On the other side, Sofia ( Played by Amina Sheikh) is a soft spoken, practical, humble person with an ocean of patience.

As the story goes, she is engaged to her cousin Majid ( played by Amir Qureshi), who only got engaged (Written Nikah) to her so that his mother lets him settle in Dubai. Three years down the lane, there is no interest shown by him to marry Sofia. This disturbs her greatly. Her mother and sister are blinded by her fears and the something-is-not-right feeling that is engulfing her. Suddenly the mother-in-law announces a marriage date. On the day of the Mehendi/Mayo (pre-bridal shower), the mother-in-law turns up this time with a brown envelope containing the awful news of separation as he has already married someone he loves in Dubai.

This breaks apart the world for Sofia, a teacher in a middle class family. She wipes her tears and gets back to work the next day itself, only to be barraged with the constant gossip, insult and condescending words of her colleague and the Principal herself. A top class teacher in the Defense School, she pales to her compatriots due to the events in her private life.

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Sofia’s sister was to be married the son of her aunt. They are utterly dismayed at the event of Sofia’s divorce. So much so that, the aunt buys a Rishta (proposal) for Sofia so that as soon as Sofia is married, she can bring in her daughter-in-law.

The proposal is of Shaheer. A widower, with three children. A heartless mother, just to save her reputation and to hurry away with her responsibilities of marrying the daughters, overrides her husband’s decision, her daughter’s refusal and forces Sofia to marry Shaheer.

A somewhat rude beginning to their life, Shaheer feeling shy and confused on how to deal with this new event in his life, Sofia beginning to adjust to the utter rudeness of the elder kids as well as basking in the love of the little daughter Fenny. The two older children Mubashir and Saira, hate the fact that their father is coming closer towards their new mother. Although they realise she isn’t wicked it hurt them to see someone in their mother’s place. Although Sofia makes it very clear from the beginning that she hasn’t come to take anyone’s place or snatch anything from anyone. She just wants to join a broken family and try to make it whole again.

The one person who cannot stand all of this is Mubashir. This is because, Ms Sofia, as he calls her, is also his Class teacher. As he is into smoking and slowly slips into drugs intake along with his evil friend Fahad, his enemity soars too high. He becomes the character that brings the entire twist to the story.

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Apparently Majid (Sofia’s ex) is destroyed as his wife in Dubai leaves him, taking away everything he owns. He comes back to Pakistan hoping to patch up with Sofia. This advantage is taken by Mubashir who throw Majid into the middle of Sofia and Shaheers’ newly emerging love. The new marriage gets rocked by doubts of infidelity propounding by Mubashir blaming Sofia for everything in the house infront of their dad. Majid also picks up speed convincing Sofia’s mother to break Sofia’s marriage so he could patch up with her.

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The story then stalled a few episodes just gaining doubts on Sofia and her resilience and silence over the accusations against her. Her aunt who married her son to Sofia’s sister takes money from Majid’s mother to patch the two up for a marriage. In a fit of anger after seeing complete betrayal shown to her by her husband, sister, mother, Majid, and eventually her much loved father, she signs up for divorce with her husband Shaheer. It is then when Shaheer realises that he loves Sofia but is finding it hard to trust her after finding her with Majid in cafes and stores. He believes what meets his eyes, and he trusts his children more than Sofia. Between these lines, Saira, the daughter realises what they have done, regrets her decision to support her brother in spoiling the reputation of Sofia, after she is save by her during an assault by Fahad.

 

After a series of conversations with Shaheer, who requests her to apologise, she decides its time to go home. In the end, the spoilt brat Fahad is faced with mouth cancer due to drugs. Upon seeing that, teenage Mubashir freaks out and confesses everything to his father of the innocence of Sofia. Shaheer too himself retrospects what a sorry husband he has been to Sofia who asked nothing of him but trust and companionship.

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Much to the chagrin of Majid and Sofia’s mother, the family unites on a happy note.

 

 

 

Danielle Steel- Rushing Waters. Book review

I am here in the library today. Again.

I happened to have borrowed a couple of kids books the last time and a couple of mine. Among which, I picked “Rushing Waters” by Danielle Steel.

This must be the first book in my life, that I have returned without completely reading it. Nothing against the concept of the book but in my hurry to get home last time, I did not check the genre. Just that the name rang few bells from my friends borrowing these in school days.

Really? No. I subconsciously picked it up because it had a beautiful cover page of water on it.

The story revolves around various characters, who among finding new love and divorcing their marriage partners, face a hurricane Ophelia in the city of New York. The book also exaggerated the common topic of discussion about the differences of the British and the Americans.

It bore me out. There was no exact real plot. Nothing in it rose my emotions. Although the whole book is a very emotional affair. It could have been very heart touching. But somehow it did nothing to me. I felt compelled to return it today. And I went beyond my principles and returned the book eventually without finishing it.

Or just maybe…my emotions are dead. Maybe it is going to take more harsher disasters to break my heart…maybe my tears have eventually dried? Or just maybe I picked the wrong genre.

As I sit here typing away at the Library computer, I really wish so bad that I could find a job. Where I could watch my kid have fun reading and I could work. I want a job. Real bad. I want to break out of this monotony. There are many brave decisions I can make even now, but each time I look at my son’s face, I do not want to lose his childhood.

I know kids grow up. I know that once they do they aren’t mine anymore. They belong to themselves. As much as I am prepared for that, I do not want to lose out on the little of childhood that I spend with them.

I need to do a lot of things. I am just waiting for the right time…..Da

Eid 2018

So today is Eid. A lovely festival of happiness joy and so much excitement.

And here is what I made today.

The first picture is of SheerKhorma. A sweet dish made of milk, dried fruits, dates and vermicilli.

The second picture is of the ethnic Hyderabadi Meat Biryani accompanied by curd chutney.

It took years for me to master the biryani. Crisp criticism from my inlaws perfected the flavours and texture.

The sheerkhorma was my first trial today. Turned out yummy except that I fried the dried fruits a little browner than I should.

It was an amazing day today altogether. Spending time with my husband and kids elates me to the core. It wipes away everything and I start fresh.

I did some henne/mehendi on my hand too.

Oops. Looks like I deleted the pictures. I shall take better pictures of my henna as it darkens.