The Wish

This year for my new year wish I ask,

A little more luck and a little something from the past.

I want that girl who sat at my side when I drove,

I want the girl whose laugh made my day whole.

 

Every one of those exchanged smiles from across the room,

I want those moments back that got our friendship to bloom.

Its still just as effortless to remember those days,

Brings the widest smile to my face your peculiar ways.

 

I’m always going to be here cheering you on,

I promise to be by your side from dusk till dawn.

I’m always going to be in your corner for every fight,

Remind you of your Herculean might.

 

So here I am asking you to grant me this wish,

Turn this friendship into a uniquely assembled dish.

For I loved those fifteen days and I hope to live them again,

For you’re the one I miss each time it starts to rain.

Full Body Workout At Home – No Equipment

Amidst the outbreak of Corona Virus and the immediate shut down of public facilities including gyms, offices, etc. we’re moving to a very dormant, ‘work-from-home’ lifestyle. Nobody knows how long it’ll last. Hence, it is important to make sure you get your daily workout fix at home and stay in shape.

The best part is, anyone can do this workout at any time during the day and without any equipments. Here’s how the workout looks like :

The Workout

This workout is broken down into 4 parts – The Warm Up, Main Workout, Finisher, Cool Down.

Warm-up:

Do each move for 30 seconds. Do this warm-up twice.

  • Spot Jogging
  • Jumping jacks
  • Inchworm walk to shoulder tap
  • Squats

Circuit:

Do each move for 30 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds in between each move. Do the entire circuit twice.

  • Push-ups
  • Alternate Leg Forward Lunges
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Sprawls
  • Panther Shoulder Tap
  • Planks

Note – For additional intensity, one can increase the number of rounds to 3 or 4 or shift to a 45 second move – 15 second rest routine.

Finisher :

Do 1 rep of each, then 2 reps of each, then 3 reps, etc., and go as high as you can get in 3 minutes. 

  • Beast Load and Unload
  • Burpees

Cool-down:

Do each move for 30 seconds or longer if it feels good and you have time.

  • Forward Bend and Toe Touch
  • Standing Quad Stretch
  • Cat and Camel Pose
  • Child’s Pose

Note : Just spend 10-30 seconds more to limber up and stretch.

Here’s how to do each move:

1. Spot Jogging

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  • Stand upright in your regular stance and jog on the spot.
  • Make sure you’re jogging on your toes and not heels or the centre of your feet.

Continue for 30/45 seconds.

jumping-jacks-20-min

  • Stand with your feet together, core engaged, and hands at sides.
  • Jump your feet wider than hip-width apart, and bring arms up to clap hands overhead.
  • Jump your feet back together and bring your arms to your sides to return to starting position.

Continue for 30/45 seconds and try to get as fast as possible.

3. Inchworm Walk To Shoulder Tap

Inchworms

  • Stand with your feet together, core engaged, and hands at sides. Bend forward at your hips to place your hands on the floor in front of you.
  • You can bend your knees a little if you need to.
  • Walk your hands forward until you’re in a high plank, with your palms flat on the floor, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly above your wrists, legs extended, and core engaged.
  • Tap your right hand to your left shoulder while engaging your core and glutes to keep your hips as still as possible. Try not to rock at the hips. Do the same thing with your left hand to right shoulder.
  • Walk your hands back toward your feet and stand up to return to the starting position.

Continue for 30/45 seconds.

4. Squats

Squats

  • Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, toes slightly turned out.
  • Bend your knees and push your hips back as you lower down into a squat. Keep your core engaged, chest lifted, and back flat.Push through your heels to stand back up to the starting position.
  • Squeeze your butt at the top.

Continue for 30/45 seconds.

5. Push-ups/Modified Pushups

  • Start in a high plank position with your palms flat on the floor, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly above your wrists, legs extended behind you, and your core and glutes engaged.
  • Bend your elbows and bring your chest toward the ground to do a push-up. As you bend your elbows and lower toward the ground.
  • Push back up to high plank, maintaining a strong core and flat back. This is 1 rep.
  • If this is too challenging, feel free to modify by dropping to your knees when you push your butt back toward your heels.

Continue for 30/45 seconds.

Lunges

  • Stand with your feet together, arms down by your sides.
  • Step forward (about 2 feet) with your right foot, landing on the ball of your right foot and keeping your heel on the ground.
  • Keep your chest lifted, back flat, and your glutes and core engaged.
  • Push through the heel of your left foot to return to standing, and without pausing, step forward repeating the movement with your left leg.

Continue for 30/45 seconds.

7. Mountain Climbers

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  • Start in a high plank position with your palms flat on the floor, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly above your wrists, legs extended behind you, and your core and glutes engaged.
  • Bring your right knee under your torso to your right elbow. Return to starting position.
  • Repeat on the other side, bringing your left leg to your left elbow. Return to starting position. This is 1 rep.
  • Start slowly, and start to speed up the move when you feel comfortable, for even more of a cardio challenge.

Continue for 30/45 seconds.

8. Sprawls

Sprawl Squats

  • Start in a high plank position with your palms flat on the floor, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly above your wrists, legs extended behind you, and your core and glutes engaged.
  • Lower into a forearm plank, starting with your left arm, followed by your right.
  • Then, come up in the reverse order—starting with your right arm and following with the left.
  • Now that you’re back in the high plank, perform one frogger by jumping your feet outside your hands, keeping your weight in the center of your feet. Drop your butt down.
  • Then, jump your feet back out to a high plank and repeat the plank-up starting with the right arm this time.
  • If this is too challenging, scale down by doing the plank-up from your knees and walk your feet in for the frogger instead of jumping.

Continue for 30/45 seconds.

9. Panther Shoulder Taps

panther-shoulder-taps-20-min

  • Place your hands and knees on the floor.
  • Engage your core and while keeping your back flat and your butt down (like you’re in a plank), lift your knees off the floor about 1 to 3 inches. Gaze at the floor a few inches in front of your hands to keep your neck in a comfortable position.
  • Tap your right hand to your left shoulder, and then your left hand to your right shoulder, while using your core strength to keep your hips as still as you can. (“Imagine there’s a drink balancing on your back!” Sims says.) That’s 1 rep.

Continue for 30/45 seconds.

10. Elbow Plank

Elbow-Plank

Planks are great for working the abs, and the elbow plank is harder on the abs than the traditional plank in push-up position.

  • Start face down on the floor resting on your forearms and knees.
  • Push off the floor, raising up off your knees onto your toes and resting mainly on your elbows.
  • Contract your abdominals to keep yourself up and prevent your booty from sticking up.
  • Keep your back flat — don’t let it droop or you’ll be defeating the purpose. Picture your body as a long straight board, or planks.

Continue for 30/45 seconds.

11. Burpees

burpee-20-min

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, core and glutes engaged.
  • Bend your knees and reach forward to place your hands on the floor, shoulder-width apart.
  • Kick your legs straight out behind you and immediately lower your entire body down to the ground, bending at the elbows, so that your chest touches the floor.
  • Use your arms to quickly push your body back up while hopping your legs back under your body.
  • Explode up, jumping vertically with arms stretched overhead. Land lightly on the balls of your feet with your knees slightly bent, and immediately repeat.

12. Beast Load and Unload

Loading-and-Unloading-Beast

  • It is similar to a blast off push-up, but without the push-up.
  • “Load the beast” by assuming a modified child’s pose, kneeling on the ground with heels underneath hips, knees slightly flared open, and arms extended in front of you with elbows straight. Let your head fall between your arms, and lift your knees an inch off the ground.
  • Next, “unload the beast.” Keeping your elbows completely straight and your knees an inch from the ground, begin to shift your hips forward. Continue to push forward until your shoulders are in front of your wrists. Return to the start to complete one rep.

13. Forward Bend and Toe Touch

Toe touch

  • From Downward Facing Dog, slowly step forward to the top of your mat. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Straighten your legs out as much as you can and let your torso hang down.
  • Tuck your chin in toward your chest, relax your shoulders, and extend the crown of your head toward the floor to create a long spine.
  • Hold for 10 to 30 seconds.

14. Standing Quad Stretch

  • Stand with your feet together.
  • Use your left hand to pull your left foot toward your butt.
  • If you need to, put one hand on a wall for balance.
  • Squeeze your glutes to increase the stretch in the front of your legs.
  • Hold for 10 to 20 seconds.
  • Repeat on the other leg.

15. Cat and Camel Pose

Cat and camel

  • Kneel down on all fours with your hands directly underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. Round your upper back while pressing your shoulders forward while looking down. This is your starting or cat position.
  • Pause, then slightly arch your back while looking up towards the ceiling. Return to starting position.
  • Continue for 30 seconds.

Child Pose

  • Kneel on your mat with your knees hip width apart and your feet together behind you. Take a deep breath in, and as you exhale, lay your torso over your thighs.
  • Try to lengthen your neck and spine by drawing your ribs away from your tailbone and the crown of your head away from your shoulders.
  • Rest your forehead on the ground, with your arms extended out in front of you.
  • Hold for 10 to 30 seconds.

You Vs. Who?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com
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I was Cycling this morning and I noticed another cyclist about half a kilometer ahead. I could guess he was Cycling a little slower than me and that made me feel good, since I was faster.

I said to myself, “If I ride a little faster, I will catch up with him in no time”.

So I started cycling faster and faster. With every pedal, I was gaining on him a little bit. After just a few minutes I was only about 100 feet behind him, so I really picked up the pace and pushed myself. In that moment, all I could think about was getting past him and I was determined to do just that.

Finally, I did it! I caught up and passed him. It was a small moment of rush and joy where I told myself, “I beat him”. Of course, he didn’t even know we were racing. It was only after I passed him, that I realized I had been so focused on competing against him that I had missed the turn to my house!!!

In this entire unnecessary charade going on in my head, I totally missed out on enjoying the moment. I missed out on enjoying the activity that brought me peace, I missed out on seeing the beautiful greenery around, I missed out on paying attention to my thoughts and in the needless hurry my feet slipped from the pedal a couple of times and I could have have hit the sidewalk and broken a limb.

Like a lot of my other thoughts that I’ve penned on this page before, it then dawned on me, that this is exactly what happens in life when we focus on competing with people around us ; co-workers, neighbours, friends, family ; trying to outdo them or being busy trying to prove (to ourselves and people around us) that we are more successful or more important and in the process, missing out on our happiness within our own surroundings.

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We spend so much time and energy running after them that we miss out on our own paths to our given destinations. The problem, I realised, with unhealthy competition is that it’s a never ending cycle. There will always be somebody ahead of you, someone with a better job, a nicer car, more money in the bank, more education, a prettier wife, a more handsome husband, better behaved children, better circumstances and conditions, etc.

But one important realisation is that

‘You can be the best that you can be, when you are not competing with anyone.’

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Some people are insecure because they pay too much attention to what others are, where others are going, wearing and driving, what others are talking. Take whatever you have, the height, the weight and the personality. Accept it and realize, that you are blessed (Ofcourse, there’s always scope for growth and one should never stop working hard to be where they want to be). But accept it, be grateful for it and stay focused and live a healthy life.

There is no competition in Destiny. Each has his own.

Comparison AND Competition are the thief of JOY.

It kills the Joy of Living your Own Life. Run your own Race, one which leads to a peaceful, happy and steady life. Seek adventure if it suits you, seek competition if it brings out the best in you, but don’t let it pull you down or rob you of your joy or self-love.

I hope you find this helpful or atleast it provokes your thinking engines. Until next time!

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Eternity & Beyond

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I wish I could have you here with me,

Hold your hand as and when I please,

Hug you tight when I feel incomplete,

A life without complications is all I plead,

Things would be so easy indeed.

 

To love and care for you is all I seek,

Be your go-to person at any time during the week,

Hold your hand and hold you tight,

Never ever let you out of my sight.

 

I feel I’m perfect for you and no one else is close,

I’d love you with all I have and this nobody can oppose,

I think what stops you is the fact that I’m not your type,

But has any other guy before been worth the hype?

 

What I think you need is someone who makes you feel loved,

Someone who makes you realize what you’re worth,

Someone who puts an effort in you and your wellbeing,

Someone who makes you realize you’re worth cherishing,

Someone who will never get tired of all your cribbing,

Someone who adores you and your fussy eating.

 

I adore you so much it makes me insecure,

Cause I know it’s not going to be long before someone figures out your allure,

People don’t see it now cause you’re in a carbon state,

Put through some tests and it’ll reveal your diamond ways.

 

Sometimes I feel the dark and repeal the light,

No vision in my deemed eyes,

Lost in thought so scared inside,

Wishing you were here to hug me and say it’s alright.

The Run

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Take a thousand steps and maybe a thousand more,

And ever so often you’ll want to take a thousand more.

In the mornings, evenings or late at night,

A therapeutic activity to test your fight.


Every step taken is a step closer to your goal,

A step towards making your achievement whole.

And when your muscles ache and your face is red,

Remember your determination that got you out of bed.


Push through your limits and dig into your grit,

Recognize your potential and find new targets to hit.

Inspire the people around you including your peers,

Encourage them to fight and face their fears.


Run like a hare or as steady as a tortoise,

Ignore all the noise and listen to your voice.

Remember all the hard work and all the times you bled,

Once a runner, always a runner they said.


-The Travellothoner

A Story

What if I start reciting to you a story,

Starting with ‘once upon a time’,

Revolving around a captivating human,

And their actions since their very existence.

 

You hear my words with great interest,

And resonate with every sentence I say.

Slowly it dawns upon you,

That I am simply describing your way.

 

Would your interest slowly change to wonder,

As I brush across each word.

Would you be surprised by the strength I hold,

About every truth that I know about your world.

 

Would your view of life be different,

Would it shock your insides,

The things that you thought defined you,

Can all be summed up in 2 lines.

 

Would you be proud of your actions,

Would your head lower down in shame,

Are these the actions you’d own,

Or deny them in regret.

 

As I go through the pages of this story,

And all the places it’ll lead,

Would you wonder about the pages left,

And vow to change how the story further read.

-The Travellothoner

Becoming By Michelle Obama

I was really looking forward to reading this book because I thought I’d get an insight of what it was like living in the White House and what it was like to be the First Lady. But this book is so much more than that.

Celebrity memoirs are often like fondant-covered cakes, laboured to blemish-free visual perfection, but dry and claggy on the inside. In Becoming, ‘Michelle Obama’ can sometimes be accused of the same, but where she is ‘Michelle Robinson’, the young black girl growing up in the rough and tumble of Southside Chicago, she serves up an account so honest and raw, that the book can only be compared to a Christmas pudding — rich, deep and authentic. While the latter part of her life is fairly well known, the first third of the book honestly explains who she is, anchoring her to the role she will eventually play.

This book is Michelle Obama talking about her life right from when she was born in the South Side, Chicago all the way upto the end of President Obama’s second term. To begin with, this book talks heavily about how family, friends, her job, etc. have had an influence on the kind of values the author possesses. It is easy to notice how having loving, respectful and open minded parents contributed into her being the woman that she is.

She talks extensively about being a black woman being born in a black community and locality, the cultural changes she faced as she changed schools or jobs, her experience with racism, etc.

A woman who was driven by her thirst for knowledge and excellence and who wanted nothing from her folks except a hot meal and money to travel to school. Her grounded upbringing and responsible attitude are further highlighted when she sails through her career or takes up projects as the First Lady.

Further, the book talks about her first meeting with Barack Obama, her first impressions of him and how he was a human being. She talks (almost boasts) about his extraordinary wit, how he is as a partner and lawyer, and how he handled his way through political campaigns and presidency.

This book is nothing but an example of what happens when hard work, grit, determination and talent are channeled in the right direction. I personally cannot help but feel inspired and learn from the author, of how every big or small incident in her life encouraged her to learn and grow.

-The Travellothoner

An Open Letter

Insecurities – Overthinking – Validation – Self Respect – Mental Peace – Love – Happiness.

Some very big words these, big enough to literally control huge chapters in our lives and yet, so easily and critically connected to each other like a series of dominos. Take care of one of these aspects in your life and everything else will slowly fall into place. If not, you still have one very solid pillar to lean on and keep working on others simultaneously.

Take it from the guy who excels at being insecure, overthinks and spirals all the time and drives himself crazy with hundreds of ‘what if?’ questions everyday. Who on a good day thinks all he needs is small joys and a grateful attitude to be happy and feels abandoned or is harmfully critical of himself on bad days.

The truth is, I have always been very insecure about myself. Insecure about the way I look, about the number on the weighing scale, about my grades and career, about the people in my life, etc. Some of those things are internal where nobody could’ve helped me and I worked hard and made a lot of progress over the years around it.

But a crucial part of my insecurity stems from the people I have or want to have in my life. Something I have no control over. An aspect I fail in miserably. To be honest, ‘miserably’ also seems like an understatement.

All I have ever wanted was to have just one person who’d have made me a priority over everyone else in their life. The kind of person who’d know when something was wrong without me having to say it out loud or who’d cancel their plans to be besides me on a bad day. Someone who’d have my back under all circumstances or tell me when I was wrong and help me take the right path at the same time. A person so close, that not seeing them for a week would seem like an eternity. Maybe like a childhood best friend (never had one of those).

It’s not just about having such a person, but also being that person in someone else’s life. I don’t know about other people, but it makes me, personally, very happy to know that I add some value to someone’s life or am their go-to guy. That they can trust me with everything. Basically, I just want to be wanted and liked.

I realise it’s too much to expect these things off someone and I’d never put that weight on someone. But it’s okay to want something and be a little selfish, right? The worst part is not being able to control these insecurities and throwing your mind into an overdrive over the tiniest, silliest things. It’s almost pathetic how I once saw this one person I really like meet her other friends and post about it on social media and that sent me on a spiral for 2 days.

And that’s where the chase for validation comes into play. You just want someone’s validation or attention of your existence and your actions. Get enough validation and it’ll keep your insecurities at bay. For me, this is where all my troubles actually begun.

I used to think being really nice and friendly to people, doing things without expectations or being there for someone without being asked to would be the traits of a decent human being. But the hard truth is, these are only things that look good as morals off a Panchatantra story or Aesop’s Fables.

I thought it was nice to be sensitive too. It helped me empathise with my people, help them, support them, be there for them emotionally, etc. It never occurred to me that this would come at a cost. A cost that was way too high for me to personally pay. Having a sensitive response to every kind of stimulus not only adds some extra weight on your shoulders each time, but it also irks some people because it dogs them with “How can one be so nice?”, “He’s definitely got his own agenda” or “something’s not right about this guy”, kinda questions.

Insecurities led me to chase validation, which further led me to take some unethical or wrongful ways and I hurt a lot of people in the process, which in turn hurt me more cause I always wanted to do the opposite of hurt the people around me. What I failed to realise was I was also invading someone else’s personal space which wasn’t the same as mine.

I pushed my boundaries and tried to be too familiar to people and although with the best intentions, I failed to realise they never wanted or ever asked for my help. All in all, this is just a recipe to push people away. When that happened, I felt all the more abandoned and thus creep in the insecurities and the circle keeps growing, but only getting bugger with each round. The bigger the insecurities, the harder the chase for validation and the more pushing people away.

What hurts the most is that I may have successfully managed to push this girl that I really really like away. Someone that I care so deeply for and want to have around for a long long time. The kind of person I’d dream of being together with. Someone who has a lot of space to grow into this wonderful human being but is already phenomenal.

That’s my story. It’s not over yet, but as much as being hopeful helps, it hurts too!

-The Travellothoner

Raavan : Enemy Of Aryavarta By Amish Tripathi

The third instalment in the Ram Chandra series, Raavan: Enemy of Aryavarta, follows Raavan’s life, set in 3400 BC. A fierce warrior, brilliant scholar, ruthless businessman, powerful king, artist, musician and statesman all rolled into one, Raavan is known in mythology as the villain who kidnapped Sita, wife of mythical god Ram, in the epic Ramayana.

Instead of a unidimensional villain as in Ramayana, Raavan is human  flawed, a genius and a strong personality capable of extreme devotion on one hand and horrifying cruelty on the other.

The series based on the 3 most important participants of the Ramayana,’Ram’, Sita’ and ‘Ravan’ run in parallel. It talks about their story from birth upto a certain event where they’re lined together. The fourth books takes the series forward. However, each is an independent story and does not necessarily require reading the previous books first.

It does seem like a daunting task, especially since the author has to make sure the 3 stories are factually aligned and don’t deviate from one another. Another aspect that I really like is that every books enriches the story of the previous books by providing a different perspective of the same plot.

Secondly, I don’t know if this is the author’s brilliance or lack thereof, but the book is written in a very nice, simple and straightforward way. There isn’t a use of heavy literature, and personally, that made the book more enjoyable for me to read.

One thing that is a little unsettling is the lack of explanation of a few terms. For anyone who has read the writer’s first Trilogy, “The Shiva Trilogy”, some of these terms are nothing but a part of vocabulary because of their lengthy explanation and repeated use. However, it is not the same case with this series. It seems as if the author expects the reader to know these terms, and proceeds with a one line explanation.

For example, “Somras” is an elixir that prolongs life, which is explained in detail in the first trilogy and not in the current one. Another example is “Nagas”, which also originates and is lengthily explained in the first trilogy. Personally, I am someone who tries to visualise and imagine Fiction, and hence reading the first trilogy beforehand helped me with this book. Having said that, it is still satisfactorily explanatory and not something the reader wouldn’t understand.

But at its heart, Raavan: The Enemy of Aryavarta is a love story. It’s moving in its simplicity and there are parts that are overwhelmingly grief-stricken, albeit the narrative isn’t nuanced nor layered and the emotional thread that runs through the book is straightforward, touching on cliches of love and loss. But it is in this plainness that readers will probably find the greatest resonance.

It is also about choices; the ones we make on a moment-­by-moment basis, which weave together the tangible and intangible webs of our lives, practical and spiritual. At every step, Raavan is presented with two options, and his choices determine the course of his life and shape the man he becomes – ruthless and a pawn in the hands of the gods.

All in all, I enjoy reading fiction every once in a while after reading a few biographies or some self-help book or philosophy. And this book was every bit as entertaining and fun.

-The Travellothoner

Gone Girl

To begin with, I made it a point to read the book first before I saw the movie, cause I personally prefer all the very minute details and emotions a book can cover, that a movie never could. It is impossible to cover a 400 page book into a 2 hour movie and not skip details. However, a picture does speak a thousand words and that makes me wonder if the movie does justice to the book.

I know what you’re thinking. It was a brilliant movie, critically acclaimed and surely did the book justice. And I wouldn’t question it if someone came up to me and said the exact same words. But what makes the difference for me is the effort that a writer takes. To use nothing but words, to paint a word picture of the characters, the scenes, the surroundings, the emotions is so much more difficult to do. Especially when it stems from nothing but the writers imagination.

Do that successfully and you’re a bestseller, fail at it or simply getting close to doing that and its a bust. Having said that, here is an opinion on how I find the book to be (bear in mind, that I haven’t seen the movie yet):

Published in 2012, the book takes you to the lead characters Amy and Nick’s college days of how they meet at a party, have an instant connection but cannot initiate a romantic affair for a long time, thanks to some unfortunate circumstances. And like in any story, it’s simply all sunshine and rainbows, with instant spark between the two, when they do end up together, until it all slowly goes downhill.

I am going to refrain from saying anything further, so as to avoid any spoilers (although most people have an idea of it by now) and because I am not sure where to draw the line.

The first half of the book is pretty slow (and at times boring), and I really feel like skipping a chapter or two to get to the good part. The first 200 pages are all about character development, setting up the plot, the relationship amongst the characters and about the events that eventually lead to the crux of the book, making it the thriller that its supposed to be. Honestly, had I not known about the critical acclaim for the book (and al the hype), I would’ve lost all interest, and read it simply to satisfy my OCD.

And believe me, I would’ve missed out on an amazing story (in parts). Manage to get through the first half of the book, and the second half will literally have all your attention. The once boring characters and plot will manage to grip on to you, in a way you’ll be so dissatisfied if you don’t finish it. All it takes is one tiny 10 page chapter for the book to shift gears from slow to overdrive.

And what a lovely way its written!

What I love the most about this book, is the role reversal from the supposed hero who becomes the villain and vice versa. And I have always had a thing for when I find myself rooting for the bad guy (Like Leonardo Dicaprio in “Catch Me If You Can” or “The Wolf Of Wall Street”).

I am living the entire book again as I write this, wanting to share my excitement with you, thanks to the way everything unfolds (although it’s only a small part of the second half of the book). It almost surprised me at how easily the author managed to get me on the edge of my seat, and I often found myself chewing my nails in nervous disbelief as I read one page after another. But I don’t know. For some reason, I am not the happiest guy when it comes to the ending. Call me a cliche, but I would’ve preferred it to end differently. This book doesn’t have an ending, but just an end.

Although an ardent reader, I always have a tough time getting hooked to a book for the first 50 pages or so. There have rarely been books that manage to get my undivided attention from the first page. And although this book takes significantly longer to get my attention, I march on like a gritty soldier and seem to understand the hype later on.

Would I recommend this book?

Yes. It is good writing and definitely better than a lot of books I’ve read.

Will it blow your mind?

Probably not. Especially if you’re a Sydney Sheldon or Agatha Christie fan and know your way around a thriller.

Tell me how you find this review, and please do share your views in the comments below. Thank you.

-The Travellothoner.

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

The story revolves around a guy (our lead) who goes by a few names ranging from Lindsay/Lin who later gets his Indian name ‘Shantaram’ while on one of his adventures in a village in India.

Shantaram is about a man who in one life was a robber/thief and who escapes a maximum security prison in Australia, somehow finds his way to New Zealand, forges his passport and flies to Bombay (now Mumbai), India. Leaving his past life behind, he starts afresh and somehow immediately falls in love with everything the city and its people have to offer.

As a man who is keen to start a new life and thanks to his unique sense of belongingness in the city and due to his limitations on travelling further, he starts living in the city more like a local than a foreigner. He finds a bestfriend/little brother in Prabakar who shows him the way through the city.

From entering the city as a fugitive to spending months in a village with Prabakar, moving from a cheap hotel to the slums due to financial constraints, falling in love with a woman who’s conflicted about it within herself, getting beaten to near death in jail to finding his way into the mafia, learning about their trades, making paternal and brotherly ties with people and finding himself in Afghanistan to keep his word, this man will do everything you ask him to.

One of the things that makes this book very different for me from others, is the number of characters it has and their presence. Normally, a book may have 2-3 lead characters and the rest supporting characters that occupy not more than a chapter at max barring a few. Shantaram differentiates itself from the rest in this aspect, thanks to the occurrence and reoccurrence of a varied number of characters with a strong presence and with their own stories.

Gregory David Roberts does an excellent job of pacing this book all through its 1000 pages. The book becomes extremely interesting and fast in a few chapters, whereas takes a turn when the characters talk about life and philosophy which makes a reader think and ponder about their own life and living. But this isn’t even what makes the book so interesting.

It isn’t about the journey of Lin’s life, neither about the philosophy that it discusses nor about love or family or any one particular aspect. The entire writing in itself is so simple and yet so extraordinary that it just manages to catch you. There is just something so special about the author using simple words to touch your heart. The way the book manages to take you on its journey and create a word picture is extraordinary.

Shantaram is for everyone. Whether you like fiction or non-fiction, whether you prefer a thriller or a mystery, whether you like self-learning books or whether you like books that make you think; Shantaram has it all. Amongst the 100 books I’ve read, I haven’t come across something like this and I am here to tell you, this is the best book I’ve read in 23 years of my existence, and a book I cannot recommend enough.

-The Travellothoner

A Reality Check

I was looking forward to seeing you all week,

Your presence was all my heart would seek.

And as soon as I saw you my heart skipped a beat,

“This girl is so special” I just wanted to tweet.

 

I sat across you and we got talking,

Your pleasant presence always so warming.

And slowly with time everyone else came along,

And you felt as distant to me as Hong Kong.

 

And with time only my insecurity grew,

When your attention was dividend amongst a select few.

In that moment I lost all my hope and belief,

And slowly I started sinking in my own grief.

 

It was too much for me and I wanted to leave,

The second I saw you touch his hand like you once did with me.

I know I’m overthinking and there was never anything between us,

But I simply cannot let it go without making a fuss.

 

Its pathetic to think this way and I know I am wrong,

And I know to me you don’t belong.

A part of me wished I hadn’t come all along,

Save myself the torture and try to be strong.

 

But who am I kidding its you we’re talking about,

A smile from you can simply wipe me out.

I don’t know what to do of all the things I am capable,

But I want to make sure I don’t make you uncomfortable.

 

This feeling is temporary and I know it won’t stay for long,

When I wake up tomorrow only you I’ll want.

I’ll keep fighting and I’ll always hope for a miracle,

But you probably won’t ever see my struggle.

 

The fight is going to be more within me,

Make sure this insecurity doesn’t get the better of me.

My impulses are raging and I want to act out,

Got to keep them in check to avoid a lashing out.

 

Writing about this I feel so stupid,

As stupid as when I got you those gifts.

So many questions I have inside me,

And someday I hope they just help make a “we”.

 

-The Travellothoner