From my bookshelf – November’18. The story of a “supposed” spy.

From my bookshelf – November’18. The story of a “supposed” spy.

 

Mata Hari, by Paulo Coelho, is the story of a woman way ahead of her times. She was convicted for spying during the 1st World War, but, from the story she wrote about herself when in custody, she comes across as someone who was falsely labelled a SPY for the sole reason that she did not conform to the rules of the society she lived in.

Frankly, I did not know her story would grab me by my shoulders and take me away to a world back in the 1800s and leave me feeling awestruck!

In her own words, she was a woman born in the wrong times and wished the world to remember her as a woman who lived with courage and paid the price for doing so.

Raped by her school principal when she was sixteen, abused by her husband whom she married to leave her world and move to Indonesia to live a better life, she learnt how sex and love were not related to each other, at all. Had it not been for a dance performance she saw one evening, her life would have continued to be the nightmare that it was ever since she married.

It was in France, where she moved after separating from her husband, that she found an audience for her exotic dances which were bold and seductive. She claimed it was her own dance style that she had actually witnessed on one of her tours around Indonesia.

Wanting to earn money to live a good life as her husband had stopped sending her any, she became a courtesan and then the exotic dancer who left the audience awestruck. Her dances were crude versions of the original Java dances. She wore a flesh coloured body stocking which gave an impression that she danced in the nude. Her provocative style of dancing brought her much acclaim wherever she performed.

During World War 1, she met and fell in love with a Russian pilot. When he was wounded in a fight with the Germans, she wished to meet him in the hospital where he was staying. But, the French agents made a deal, that she would meet her lover only if she spied on Germany.

They also later offered her an impressive amount of money if she continued spying–an amount that she felt would help her lead a lavish lifestyle that she had grown used to. Sadly, she did not receive any money, but was arrested while travelling from Spain.

She was executed by a firing squad for playing the role of a spy, but, according to her, it was because she lived her life on her own terms, refused to bow down before the norms of her society, that she met with such an end.

I really liked reading the book and finished it in two days. A page-turner, it gave me a glimpse of the times from all those years ago– not very different from what we see today–with rules laid down by men to be followed by women who are expected to stay “within limits” and get labelled “immoral” if they dare to live life on their own terms!

Have you read ‘The Spy’? If you have, how did you like it?

Do share with me what you felt about the story of Mata Hari–the woman…

Love,

SHILPA…

Was she really a spy?

From my bookshelf — A book by Louise Hay.

From my bookshelf — A book by Louise Hay.

I read about Louise Hay around last year while reading an article. It was about how her books had inspired people who, with sheer willpower and perseverance, had managed to turn their lives around.

So, when on my last trip to the bookshop I came across her book, ‘You can heal your life‘, I knew I had to read it and share it here, on my blog, which is all about making a change.

‘You can heal your life’, by Louise Hay

 

The author of the International bestseller, Louise Hay was an inspirational teacher who helped people discover their true potential. Her books inspire you to make changes within yourself–the kind you are unwilling to make–and realise how beautiful life really is! How you can, indeed, achieve that which you felt impossible.

We all know how difficult it is to change. Habits that have been inculcated in us by ourselves can be so tough to let go of.

But, if we really need to improve our life, we need to shed those old clothes, let go of those old habits that hold us back and take bold steps towards our goals. There is really nothing that ever stops us, except our old habits, our fears and our reluctance to take the risks.

Our resistance to change, our eagerness to hold on to old beliefs as if our life depended upon them, are the real culprits.

“For every habit we have, for every experience we go through, for every pattern we repeat, there is a NEED WITHIN US FOR IT.”

How true, isn’t it? This line actually made me think of some of my habits that make me do the things I do and how I waste precious time repeating those things day in day out. Waste time and energy. So, with the help of this book, I intend to make certain changes in myself and see where it takes me.

We hold some really horrid kinds of emotions within us, which manifest through ailments we suffer from on a regular basis. Our anger over being wronged by someone, our resentment at facing certain losses in life and our jealousy about those who have succeeded in life and “moved ahead”, are all the emotions that prove to be our undoing.

Seldom do we realise these facts, but these thoughts that simmer within us for years together cause havoc on our system, our mind and our Life. It isn’t easy letting them go, but it isn’t difficult either.

It is all a matter of how hard we try, how we shower ourselves with the love and the respect that we deserve and how we heal our life, eventually.

Louise Hay suggests that we read this book once and then read it again, slowly, working on the exercises she has given in the chapters.

I am yet to read it the second time, which I will be doing soon. But, it is for certain, that her words have left their mark on my psyche. And, although I haven’t read the book in detail, the way it is supposed to, I felt that writing this post would give me a clarity about what I need to work on, which habits I need to change.

Have you read Louise Hay’s books? Did they help you? Did you work on yourself and find any changes in your Life?

Do share with me in the comments, I would love to know.

Love,

SHILPA…

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Inspirational books by Louise Hay
You can heal your life
Books and I – A Book Lover’s Tag.

Books and I – A Book Lover’s Tag.

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I am a bookworm by nature. Right since childhood, my books have been my favourite companions and have played a huge role in my love for writing. No, you won’t find me with my nose in a book 24X7 (although, I wish I could do that) what with blogging,writing and art taking up a lot of my time.

But, whenever I find a good book, I find it humanly impossible to leave the book aside and complete my chores or my posts. At such times, I just wish the world came to a stand still so that I could use that peace and quiet for my reading.

Books can be a man’s best friend…after dogs! A true-blue dog lover I am, so dogs come first and books come next. People come at the end. People can be complicated.

Ahem! Just kidding!

So, my dear blogger friend, Esha  Mukherjee-Dutta tagged me in her post on books. I enjoyed reading her answers. They told me some more about this really sweet person I know online, Now, I am answering those fun questions that will tell you something more about me, in short, reveal some more of my eccentricities.

So, read on…

1.  Do you have a specific place for reading?

Earlier, I was a librocubicultarist (one who reads in bed!), but then my doctor pointed out to other more back-friendly places to sit and read, so now I prefer sitting in a chair with my legs stretched out on another chair. Actually, I can read anywhere. When you have a good book, the ‘place’  doesn’t matter, does it?

2. Bookmark or some random piece of paper?

My father gave me some bookmarks that have paintings by  artists who paint with their foot and mouth. And, my friend, Kala gifted me some really beautiful  bookmarks, too. So, I use those now. Earlier, I would use any random piece of paper.

3. Do you eat or drink while reading?

I eat or drink while reading the newspaper (a habit I picked up from hubby). But, while reading a book,  NEVER. I can not imagine spilling stuff on books. That’s sacrilege! But, if I do read while eating, then the book is placed at a safe distance, out of harm’s reach!

4. Music or TV whilst reading?

Neither. I like my peace and quiet when I have a book in my hand, so I can concentrate on the story that unfolds before my eyes!

5. One book at a time or several?

I am a one-book-woman! Hehehe! I like to ponder over the lives I read about and wonder about them, just like I do about people I know.

6.  Do you prefer to read at home or elsewhere?

I can read anywhere. It’s just that I forget to carry a book to places I visit, like the mall. Next time, though, I am going to carry my book along. I hate window shopping, and hubby loves it. I will just open my book and find some peace in those pages.

7. Read out loud or silently?

Silently, of course! And, that too, I read the dialogues as if I were the character! I need to feel the emotions!

8. Do you read ahead or skip pages?

I admit, I have skipped pages of many a book. When the description gets a bit too much to bear, or there is too much of romance going on (give me a break!) I skip pages.

9. Break the spine or keep it like new?

WHAT? You break the spine of your book? REALLY? Now, that’s sacrilege number 2! You will keep the book as good as new, is my order to anyone who borrows my book! God, I can’t imagine how one could  do such a horrid thing!!

10. Do you write in books?

You mean you write in books, too? And, you ruin their beauty? Sacrilege number 3!

11. What books are you reading now?

RIght now, I am reading ‘Classic Ruskin Bond, Volume 1′. it’s a collection of six novels  by the young  Ruskin Bond.

12. What is your childhood favourite book?

Oh, there are aplenty! The first is, ‘Adventurous stories for young girls’, which was a gift from my uncle when I was in school, and which awakened the bookworm in me. The others are, ‘Famous FIve’, ‘Secret Seven’, ‘Nancy Drew’, ‘Hardy Boys’…ah,  I could drown myself in all the nostalgia!

13. What is your all time favourite book?

Now, that’s a toughie. I love books. Period. But, ‘The Book Thief’ and ‘The diary of Anne Frank’ made me cry. I wept thinking about the lives that were wiped out because of the craziness of one man! No offence meant there, but, that’s how much I was affected.

Oh, and let me add something more – . If ever, you are to borrow a book from me, do remember to return it.  I won’t be able to get over my lost book if you don’t!

So, that’s all from me.

Do join me in sharing your eccentricities if you are a book lover, too!

Enjoy your weekend!

Love,

SHILPA…

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Lone Fox Dancing – An autobiography. Ruskin Bond.

 

I made the acquaintance of Mr. Ruskin Bond a few months ago… through his books, of course!  Although, I so wish I could make an acquaintance with the man himself – ah, wishful thinking! Coming back to his works, I first read the book, ‘Love Stories’, that is edited by him, and also includes a short story by him.  I then stumbled upon his  weekly columns that appear in The Times Of India (which, sadly, aren’t a regular feature) and, to cut a long story short, I was hooked. So, when I happened to come across his autobiography, I simply grabbed it!

Learning about a person whose work you have grown to admire, whose words act like a balm on troubled souls, can tell you a lot about the person, their journey and their life. And, that’s just what one gets to draw from this book, ‘Lone Fox Dancing’. 

Right from the first page, to the last one, Mr. Bond keeps you engaged with the story of his life. The happiness of being with his beloved father during his early childhood, the difficulties of adjusting to  a life without him after his untimely death, stories of his dear friends, his family and his struggle to make it as a writer despite the obstacles that lay in his path, Mr. Bond,  through his  words,  has opened  up his soul for the reader to get a  glimpse into his life. There are amusing anecdotes that make you chuckle, and tales of sadness that bring a lump to your throat. Often I wished I could reach over and give him a hug for all the times life was an arduous journey for the young Ruskin.

I loved his language – so simple and down-to-earth – it sounds like the soft tinkle of the temple bells to the desperate soul in  search of some tranquility. My words may sound very “inspired”, but then, that’s the magic of Mr. Bond and his writing, isn’t it? His ability to extract from the ordinary and present it to the world in an exquisite package – it’s a feat he has achieved, receiving applause from the young and the old alike!

There’s so much to learn from him, not just about his writing style, but also his living, and facing every failure that he did during the beginning of his journey as a writer. There’s a lesson to be learnt for us budding writers! The path we have chosen for ourselves  is not going to be easy. The praise that we desire for our words,  will be hard to find, the applause we pine for, won’t be heard for years together. Yet, we ought to keep going, striving to do our best without worrying  about the results. And, most importantly, enjoying what we do. That’s just what Mr. Bond did.  No, I am not going to give you any more details;  I want you to read it yourself. Lose yourself in the pages of this magnificent book.

The book also has 30 pages of photographs from Mr. Bond’s album. From his childhood to his present.  Pictures of the cherubic baby growing up into a young lad, a teenager, and a young adult. Pictures of his family,  his friends, his pet cat, his present family. The picture album is a delight for his fans! You wish you were a part of this story, a part of his journey!

It’s a pleasure reading the entire book;  you will wonder what to do with yourself once you reach the end! I was lost and sad that the book had to come to an end so soon!

I wouldn’t call this a review of the autobiography. I would call it sharing with you all a journey I enjoyed; a journey I wished had gone on for some more time. I will end my post here with Mr. Bond’s quote that he ended his book with:

     “I am like a shopkeeper hoarding bags full of grain, only, I hoard words. There are still people who buy words, and I hope I can keep bringing a little sunshine  and pleasure into their lives till the end of my days.”

 

Thank you, Mr. Bond, for the sunshine, and the happiness!

We love you!