Featured blogger: Suzan Khoja

Suzan is a young blogger who lives in India. She is a confirmed book lover who also tackles serious subjects on her blog, like body-shaming.

https://magicalbooklush.blog/

Anyone who has ever visited her blog or has been lucky enough to have her as a follower will be aware that she is fully-engaged, lively, friendly, and very entertaining. Her book reviews range from childhood favourites like comics, to serious classic novels such as Orwell’s ‘1984’. There is definitely something for everyone on her blog.

This is what she has to say about herself.

Be Free!!
These days all I hear is people don’t have time to read or don’t know what to read. People feel shy reading in public because they get labelled as ‘Nerds’ and are often insulted. Athletes and social butterflies who love reading hide to avoid embarrassment. I am here rebelling against those human shaming people that force readers to hide their love. They actually forget that they read everything including text messages to time on their watch. It’s a rebellion against the racism created by the cool people for the love of BOOKS, for ourselves. Join me in this rebellion, help me spread my word, help me encourage readers, help me bring out their best and loveable side. Books are the imaginary world we all need. It solves half of our problems. Click on that tiny button and join me for not only book reviews but many more things like reviews on apps, fashion, technology and the situations that usually occur in our lives. Join me for a nice chat with a cup of coffee and all your problems on the table.

She has some regular features, like ‘Bookish Friday’.

BOOKISH FRIDAY || IT’S READING TIME!!! {10}.

And ‘Literary Monday’.

BOOKWORM IS BACK!!! || LITERARY MONDAY.

There are author interviews too.

LAILA BHAIDANI’S INTERVIEW || AUTHORS’ INTERVIEWS.

More about her.


Hey guys, if you are reading this, thank you for your precious time. I love books, they have been my life since childhood. As I am the only child, I don’t have anyone to share my views, opinions and discuss what I like and dislike. This blog is like my mirror image. I post all my opinions about books, society and everything that comes to my heart. So if you like my blog please share it with me. Discuss your opinions on my blog and tell me your suggestions, I would love to hear you all. Thank you once again for reading.

Suzan also posts about Indian culture and celebrations, as well as family life, and the day to day routine. During the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, she has also written about the impact of the virus on India, and her own city.

Please take a moment to read more of her blog, and get to know her better.

Two weddings and a funeral

I am reblogging this post from Peggy in my new series of ‘A Reblog Offer’

Where to next?

Indian bride

Indian groomHello, called out a male voice.

I looked up from hanging out laundry on the roof of our hostel in Bharatpur. There he was on the next-door roof only a metre away.

Hello, I replied. He motioned me to approach. I waved, smiled, helloed again and hung up one of Poor John’s shirts. Hello, he called, come, come, he insisted.

Turns out he wants to invite us to his sister’s wedding that night. But we are six people and these are the best clothes we have, I said, pointing to my camping pants and merino top. This news didn’t faze him in the slightest.

Fortunately, Anand appeared on the roof and chatted with the fellow in Hindi. Soon it was all settled—we were going to a wedding.

As the day progressed, the neighbour on the other side of the hostel invited us to his daughter’s…

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Guest Post: Rupa Jambholkar

Today I am featuring Indian blogger, Rupa. I am presenting a post from her own blog, a touching poem about her love for her husband.
Here is her own short bio.

“I am an engineer by degree. A home maker by choice and an artist by soul.

I live in Mumbai, India with my husband and two kids.”



Love needs no fancy flowers!

I pulled out the chair for you,
but forgot
you weren’t there.
I made your favourite chicken curry, spicy and hot, just the way you want.

I envisage, the way you relish it,
licking your fingers,
and asking for more.
You know and I know,
it’s too hot for you but you still love it.
And I wonder why?
I see the way you look at me ,
with your loving eyes.
Even though I look like a pallid soul.
And at that moment , I try to steal my glance away from you, but your eyes stay fixated on me.

And then you hum,
an old romantic song to compliment me,
but I pretend that I don’t blush nowadays
and I somehow manage to smile,
to hide the fact that, I still feel so shy.

I cannot elucidate to myself, how can you see beauty in me, especially now, when I fail to see it anymore.

AND HOW CAN YOU, AFTER SO MANY YEARS NOT BE BORED, OF AN INSIPID ME?

Yes I did hear the doorbell, my eyes have lit up, I know it’s you.
And you know that, I was thinking about you, waiting for you, so stop smiling and give me a hug.

The curry is still warm,
so is my heart and so are your arms,
And now I see what I saw, the same love to begin with.

You can read more of Rupa’s work on her own blog, Pans & Proses.
https://pansandproses.wordpress.com/

Please try to find some time to welcome Rupa into our wonderful blogging community.

Guest Post: Vaidehi

I am very pleased to bring you a guest post from Indian blogger, Vaidehi. She writes about travel and wildlife in India, and also posts short story fiction.
https://vvaidehi.wordpress.com/

Here is a short bio.

Brief introduction about myself

I am V Vaidehi(with Vaidehi as the first name), from New Delhi, India. Till two years back, I was working, at the middle management level, for the Indian Railways.

I love all aspects of travelling – the planning, the experience and the reminiscing. The last part led me to start my blog a few years back. Since hiking in the Himalayas occupies a special place in my heart, I started with a few posts, recounting my personal experiences on the Himalayan trails.

I write about other types of travel too and have just taken baby steps into the world of fiction writing.

And this is the unedited guest post, accompanied by some photos.

GAZE AT EVEREST INSTEAD OF CLIMBING IT

In May 2019, a picture of a traffic jam caused by climbers queuing up to summit the peak of Mount Everest had gone viral on the internet. I was aghast! Is it an easy stroll that so many were clamouring to summit, all at the same time? Not to mention the damage to the fragile ecology of the Himalayas and loss of so many lives.

It took me back to that evening when I had a ringside view of Everest and three other formidable peaks of the Himalayas from the comfort of the balcony of the lodge where we were staying.

Now, I am not a mountaineer by any reckoning. I am not an adventure freak either, though I have crossed Passes at 14000 feet, mouth dry, heart pounding and wondering why I got myself into such a situation. Also, I am not young nor do I enjoy excellent levels of fitness.

But I love hiking in the Himalayas, however contradictory this may sound. I am partial to the innumerable trails at the lower altitudes, below 10000 feet where the tree line ends, that take you through meadows, forests, streams and villages. The hike on which I am now going to take you along with me does not have many of these features, and has certain negative features instead. But then, what a glorious view it offers when you reach the ridge on the top!

It was a cold but clear December evening and we were at Sandakphu, a ridge in the Eastern Himalayas, at an altitude of 3600 metres. We stood there, mesmerized at the sight of Kanchenjunga – the third highest peak in the world at 8586 meters – come aglow with the rays of the setting sun. The vision of Kanchenjunga as seen from Sandakphu justifies the sobriquet it enjoys – “the sleeping Buddha”.

Much as the horizon at Sandakphu is dominated by Kanchenjunga, which is bang across – in your face, so to speak – our eyes kept darting to the awesome threesome far away at the extreme left – Makalu, Lhotse and Everest. It is only on a clear day that these can be seen and of the three, Everest seems to be the shortest as it is farther off and is distinguishable by its midriff and above perpetually swathed in clouds.

The trek to Sandakphu, which is at the crest of the Singalila ridge near Darjeeling in India, is one of the popular hikes in the Himalayas, as it is the only easily accessible place in India from where four of the five highest peaks in the world can all be seen together! Four out of five is a grand score indeed and that too, for people who are not into serious mountaineering. Singalila surely merits the title of “a ridge with a view”.

This trek can be attempted by first timers but is no less enjoyable for the seasoned trekker. It is a typical tea-house trek, with good lodgings available en route. So, no need to pitch tents or carry sleeping bags! Just hire a guide from Manebhanjan and hit the trail!

It is a short five day trek starting from Dhotrey, which can be reached from Darjeeling by road in an hour, via Manebhanjan. You climb for the first three days, halting at Tumling and Kalipokhri, to reach the ridge top at Sandakphu. The trail then descends on the other side of the ridge to Gurdum and finally reaches the road again at Rimbik. The distances to be covered each day range from 6km to 13 km but certain stretches are steep, like the final ascent to Sandakphu and the descent to Gurdum.

Let me get over the negative aspects right in the beginning. The trails on which you walk on the second and third day are not really hiking trails. The trails are paved with small sized boulders, some of them with sharp edges, to facilitate the movement of the British Land Rovers of vintage 1948 , which still run right up to Sandakphu. These ancient beasts (of beauty, some might say) look like they will fall apart any moment and the ride, I am told, is nerve-racking and rattles everything else too. Avoid it and labour on, on foot.

“Why could they not make at least a narrow mud trail alongside, for the hikers?”, was our perpetual lament during those two days. I believe a part of the trail is now paved with concrete, which again cannot be called a hiking trail but easier on the feet, I am sure. Also, those who choose the Land Rovers, have to return by the same route and will miss the beautiful forests on the other side of the ridge.

A fascinating aspect of this trek is that you go in and out of Nepal for the first two days as the border is quite porous in these areas. When we reached Tumling after the first day’s trek, we were amused to learn that the road belongs to India and the village on the side of the road is in Nepal!

At Tumling, we made sure to be up at the crack of dawn to catch the first rays of the sun on the peaks of Kanchenjunga. It was a magnificent moment for us and we were to experience it again at Sandakphu, at a much closer range.

Kalipokhri, where we halted after the second day’s trek, is also on the Nepal side of the border but being positioned below the ridge, offers no views of Kanchenjunga. After walking on that stony trail for five hours, we gave our weary feet some rest and had a great time playing with the kids of the Nepali owner of the lodge at Kalipokhri.

The trek also passes through Singalila National Park, which is a natural habitat for the red panda and himalayan bear. Both are elusive and cannot be sighted easily. The forests on the upward trail to the ridge top are somewhat sparsely wooded unlike those on the other side of the ridge. The trek from Kalipokri to Sandakphu is short but steep and suddenly, we were there on the ridge, with an unhindered and magnificent view of Kanchenjunga.

November and early December are the best times to go to Sandakphu for clear views of not only Everest, Makalu and Lhotse but even Kanchenjunga. April is also considered a fairly good time with rhododendron blooms all around but clouds and mist could act as the spoil sport. On a misty day, you could be standing at Sandakphu and not even have an inkling that the mighty Kanchenjunga is right across, let alone have any view of the Everest group.

We woke up to a very clear morning the next day and feasted our eyes on the changing colours of Kanchanjunga – a glowing orange at dawn to a blinding white by the time we left Sandakphu. And again, we were treated to a clear view of Everest, Makalu and Lhotse.

The trek for this day was downhill all the way and passed through lovely forests on the way to Gurdum, a picturesque hamlet. The trail on the last day of the trek is fairly level and passes through Srikhola, where we had lunch in a quaint lodge by the side of a mountain stream. At Srikhola, we left the wilderness behind and walked on to the road head Rimbik, where the jeeps were waiting to take us back to Darjeeling. One can also skip going up again to Darjeeling and instead, come down to Siliguri to take a train to any part of India.

If you are reasonably fit and yearn to walk in the Himalayas, a trek to Sandakphu to gaze at Everest and its cousins and be awed by the grandeur of Kanchenjunga, should certainly find a place in your list of things to do!

Thanks to Vaidehi for a great post. Please take time to visit her blog, and enjoy what else you find there.

Indian Bloggers.

A recent perusal of my blog stats has told me that my Indian readers are now the third most numerous, after the USA and Britain. This is undoubtedly helped by the fact that so many people in India speak English, and write their own blogs in English too.

As well as that, they represent a significant percentage of my blog followers, and many of them are fully-engaged bloggers who regularly comment on my posts. This pleases me a great deal, as we have hundreds of thousands of people from an Indian background living in the UK. When I lived in London, I met and worked with many, and was always interested in their culture. This not least because my dad spent a long time in India, serving there in WW2 from 1941-1946. He showed me numerous photos of his travels there, and regaled me with tales of that exotic land in my youth.

Sadly, I never got around to visiting any part of that country, and fear it may be too late for me to do that now. But through the wonder of blogging, I can see and hear the lives of people there, and appreciate the differences, good and bad.

I have featured some Indian bloggers and authors on this blog before, but I would like to do more.

So if you are one, and follow my blog, please think about sending me a guest post, telling me and all my readers about where you live, what you do, and what life is like for you in that vast country, with its huge population. If you are interested in doing that, then send me an email to petejohnson50@yahoo.com and I will let you know what is required.

Best wishes to you all, Pete.

The Quintessential Possession-my saree box

A wonderfully evocative post from Indian blogger Ritu Ramdev, about the importance of the Saree in her culture, and her own treasured Saree box.

MusingAmusing

A must have in every Indian woman’s wardrobe…saree.It not only symbolises femininity but also the great Indian traditions. The versatility stored in its weave and draping reflects the region from where it belongs. Though over the years it is losing its significance to the hassle free western dresses but still it occupies an indisputable place in each household. Every woman likes to boast of her heterogeneous collection from different parts of the country- Baluchari, Taant, Painthni,Chanderi, Kanjeevaram and the list is endless. An army wife for sure feels highly jubilant when she flaunts her collection by virtue of having been posted to such places where she gets an opportunity to pick an exclusive piece from the maiden source. Over the years, it definitely adds to her self glorification…but other than just being reflective of one’s indulgence there are innumerable stories associated with each and every saree in the box.

The…

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INDIA ON COVID-19 || COVID-19 UPDATE.

Another view of the effects of Covid-19, this time from Suzan, in India. Fascinating to hear about how the virus is affecting life in different countries around the world.

Magical BookLush

Good morning people. How are you all?? How’s corona?? Is it still traumatizing you?? Well, India has learnt how to fight it…actually India has learnt how to overlook it. I haven’t been writing or commenting on any Covid-19 posts basically trying to avoid anything related to it because I got my news reporting mom. To be honest she should be a journalist. Too much reporting of news. Well, I had thought of informing you all the state of India so here I am with today’s special post about Coronavirus. So without any further ado let me step by step take you to all the things going on in India. Let’s go, shall we??

So as we all know Coronavirus is spreading all around the world and killing many people. It’s hard to avoid the news when the only news you get is ‘coronavirus killed these many people in these many…

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The Daughter

I came across this short yet powerful post on the subject of arranged marriages in India. No doubt many of us in the west will appreciate not having to live in this very different culture.

InkBlots by Abhipsa

images

Hey guys, wish you a very happy Sunday!

This week, I thought of sharing this old write-up. This reflects the situation of many girls in India, who are expected to obey their parents and do not possess the freedom to choose their own partners. This also talks of how life changes after marriage. Written as a open letter, I’m sure this will be relatable to situations you have experienced or read.
Here it goes:

Dear Parents,

I’m glad that you didn’t kill me straightaway like many people do nowadays. You raised me and even educated me well. Now I’m married in a well-to-do family that you chose for me. Everything is going fine, but I still have a few complaints.

First of all, why didn’t you warn me that once I’m married, you were absolutely free to wash your hands off all my responsibilities? And I could no longer seek…

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New Book Feature: Adithi Rao

I am pleased to be able to feature a new book of short stories. ‘Left From The Nameless Shop’ is a collection by Indian author, Adithi Rao, a fellow contributor to Longshot Island Magazine.

This is what Adithi tells us about herself.

After a BA in Theater from Smith College, MA, USA, I returned to India to work as an assistant director on the award-winning Hindi cult film Satya. Shakuntala and Other Timeless Tales of Ancient India and Growing Up in Pandupur (co-authored with my sister, Chatura) are my books for children. My stories have been published across anthology collections by various publishing houses, and in English school text books across India.

The rights to my film script Baraf were bought by Aamir Khan Productions Ltd. My short fiction for adults appear in the American literary journal Longshot Island. ‘Left from the Nameless Shop’ (HarperCollins 2018) is my first collection for adults.

And here is one review of the new book.

“In a world overdosing on speed and size, Adithi draws us into the endearing lives of simple folk with human-sized goals in a community-sized world. A heart-warming and reassuring celebration of the small and relevant which is the need of the hour.”

– Mansoor Khan (Filmmaker, Author)

Here is an Amazon link featuring Adithi’s books, including the latest one.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=adithi+rao

And this link will take you to her website.
Home

Please visit, share the links, and give this lovely lady some support. You may even decide to buy one of her books, or give them as gifts.

Regional accents

In Britain, we have many regional accents. There are also the Irish, Welsh, and Scottish accents, as well as those from Australia and Africa, and the accents of people originating from India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. In the UK, especially in the larger cities, we come into contact with all these accents on a daily basis, to the extent that they become normal, and unnoticed, to a large degree.

No doubt other countries have their accents to deal with. Even as a Londoner, I can tell the difference between an American from the deep south, say New Orleans, and a New Yorker. However, we cannot really differentiate between a Canadian, and an American, and I am not sure if they can either, though I suspect that they are able to. To our ears, every African accent is just African. We cannot really say if someone is from Sierra Leone, Nigeria, or Chad. Similarly, with accents from India. We cannot put hand on heart, and say someone is Indian, Sri Lankan, or Pakistani. Names help of course, as Nigerian names are often a giveaway, and nobody from Bangladesh has a non-Muslim name.

In the UK, there are distinctive accents from different regions, though again, we cannot, as Londoners, be more specific to location, on most occasions. There is an accent in the North-East of the country, centred on the Newcastle area, known as ‘Geordie’. Not only is this a pleasant sound, a sing-song accent easy on the ear, it also has unique words and phrases. All women and girls are generally called ‘pet’, and good things are known as ‘canny’. Nonetheless, the North-East is very large, and people outside of Newcastle bitterly resent being accused of having a Geordie accent. Unfortunately, for us southerners, Sunderland, Middlesborough, and Durham, are all too close geographically, and the accents too similar, for us to possibly comprehend the differences. Then there is Wales. Best considered to be another country, very different to the rest of the UK, and still clinging on to its own unique language. The place names are so unusual, they can only be pronounced by the Welsh. Despite a clear demarcation between the North and South of Wales, they all sound much the same to us.

The Scots. An accent so impenetrable, that TV often uses subtitles when a Scottish person is being interviewed. In the working-class districts of the major towns and cities, Glasgow for example, only a Scot would have a clue what was being said. The country areas of the UK; Norfolk, Somerset, Devon, and those predominantly in the South-West, just all sound the same to a Londoner. Farming, outdoor life, and a slow, relaxed attitude, have left the populations of those areas with a country drawl, which just screams ‘Farmer’ to a city person, without need for further clarification. Londoners call all these people ‘Carrot crunchers’, denoting a country lifestyle of working the land, and vegetables. This may sound insulting. It is not meant to be, it is merely identification.

Ireland has two main accents, to an outsider anyway. We are very familiar with them, as there are almost as many Irish living in mainland Britain, as there are in the whole of Ireland. There is the accent of the North; harsh, aggressive, bitter, and unyielding. Then the accent of the South, the Republic, tinged with humour, musical, and easy going. Hundreds of years of ‘The Troubles’ have made us all very familiar with both of these accents. They are so common in London, that you could almost call them an ‘honorary’ London Accent.

The Midlands, Birmingham, Coventry, and the large urban connurbations in those regions, have a strange, nasal accent, delivered with a whine. It is , I am sorry to say, unpleasant, and my least favourite accent, from anywhere. They also have some unique sayings, calling younger siblings ‘our kid’, for example. They are not pleasant sayings, and because of the nasal delivery, are not popular, and have not caught on anywhere else. Sorry Midlands, but you must know that it is true. The North-West also has two dominant accents, those of Liverpool, and the Manchester area. To a southerner, both are better unheard. The Liverpool accent  (popularised by The Beatles) is exceptionally whiny, with an aggressive tone, and use of regional phrases. It is very localised, and does not extend too far from the city limits, which for me, is a blessing. The Manchester accent is a mumble, delivered with aggression, and in a fast monotone fashion. It is such that a very young person might sound old, and the most pleasant person may appear to be extremely angry. There are other Northern accents, in Yorkshire, Cumbria, and Nottinghamshire, for example; but they all sound much the same, to anyone who is not from those parts.

Then there is London, and the South-East. For someone born there, the definitions are easy. I can even usually tell if someone is from East, or South London. Essex is easily detected, Kent less so, as it still sounds London. People in Surrey and Sussex tend to be better off, and speak better English, in the BBC style, as a consequence of their education, and job choices. Hampshire and Oxfordshire have their quota of ‘Farming’ accents, as well as the more cultured tones of the commuters, and middle-classes. Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire now have so many Londoners, fleeing North of the Capital to escape house prices there, that they are more-or-less Londoners too. There are many places, and other counties, that I have not bothered to mention. Just lump them in with the nearest big city, or regional town, and you can pretty much guess their accent too.

The truth is, that I have a London accent. I am proud of that fact, I embrace it, and would want no other. When Americans visit London, they used to often ask if I am Australian. To say that I find this insulting, would be a huge understatement. Even though I have a weakness for the aforementioned Geordie accent, the reality is that I find all other UK regional accents, except London, outdated, and difficult to listen to. Country people sound less intelligent than they might be, and Northerners just sound aggressive. The Scots, Irish, and and Welsh? They are just foreigners, no different than listening to someone from France, or Russia.

So, what is a British accent? Is it best portrayed by David Beckham, Robbie Williams, or Sean Connery? For my money, listen to Michael Caine. He’s got it just right…