Death of a character

TV shows and books provide a brief respite in our sometimes tedious lives. Considering the number of shows and the number of seasons they run for, getting attached to the show is inevitable. Because these characters come into our living room once a week for 6-8 months (or everyday for hours if you are Netflix addicted like me) you sometimes forget that they are just fictitious characters. If there is a bigger disappointment than your favorite show getting cancelled, it’s your favorite character getting killed off. While you eventually do realize that it’s just a character and you will see your favorite actor in other shows, for those brief moments it really hurts!

Here is my list of some of my favorite characters which have been killed off over the years, and which have cost me couple liters of tears!
1) Will Gardner: Anyone who regularly watches “The Good Wife” know this by now that Will Gardner dies in the crossfire in a courtroom shooting. Saying that it was a shocking twist is a major understatement. Even though Will Gardner was a fictitious character he was one of my favorite people on TGW. Josh Charles did a marvelous job as Will Gardner, by being a tough and shrewd lawyer and as vulnerable guy who is in love with a woman he can’t have. The amazing chemistry between Will and Alicia made the show fun to watch for me, whether they were lovers or fighting in the court. The only thing good about the Sunday night’s episode was that he and Alicia were able to smile and be civil in their last meeting together. It will take me a while to get over this death!
2) Lexie Grey: Chyler Leigh did a great job of portraying Lexie Grey which made her one of the most likable characters in Grey’s Anatomy. She added a funny and sweet element to the highly charged emotional drama. And what a way to kill her…! Jeez…dying in a plane crash.
3) Mark Sloan: Mark Sloan in Grey’s Anatomy was truly one of the good male characters for me and not just because he’s an amazing eye candy. A playboy who falls hard for a girl much younger than him and changes himself for the better for her….Sigh! His character as a playboy and as Derek’s and Callie’s best friend was done quite well. His last couple of episodes in Grey’s were quite heart-breaking, with him being in and out of coma. Obviously I am over his death now, but Grey’s Anatomy isn’t quite the same after him and Lexie.

Grey’s Anatomy is well known for killing off characters, including George O’Malley in a horrible bus accident. But killing Lexie and Mark was the last straw for me, and that was the end of Grey’s for me. I couldn’t handle any more of that nonsensical drama! Downton Abbey is another show which has been killing people off every season with Matthew Crowley and Lady Sybill. It seems that killing of good characters is a great way to increase the ratings for those couple of episodes or season finales.

TV shows are not the only ones who kill off favorite characters; authors do the same thing in the books. At least with TV there’s always the excuse of the actor moving on to the next project, with books it just feels more heart-breaking because it seems so senseless J. K Rowling (author of Harry Potter) is the print equivalent of Shonda Rhimes (creator of Grey’s drama). We have lost a lot of good characters in Harry Potter – who made me shed tears every single time- Dumbledore, Sirius Black, Snape, Fred Weasely and my favorite Dobby, to name a few.

Every time I tell myself not to get caught up in these characters because they will break my heart…but I don’t learn the lesson. But how do you enjoy a book or a show if you aren’t vested in the character’s well being?? Oh well…farewell my characters until you are replaced with new favorites!

Cooking my heart out

Like most teenagers I didn’t like the idea of going into the kitchen to cook-only to eat. My mom used to try to interest me into helping her in the kitchen, but I didn’t want anything to do with it. I used to think, I am never going to cook, I will have others cook for me. In my naivety I didn’t understand that not cooking is not liberating. 

My mom tried to teach me some basics before I came to US, since she didn’t want me to starve or spend too much money eating out. My first couple of months I struggled with cooking and change in food. I didn’t even realize I was struggling until I had a breakdown one morning when after working through the night on an on-campus job, I burnt trying to cook the only food I had at home, I also didn’t have any time to buy dinner as I had to run back to work. While I wouldn’t say that was my defining moment, I did realize then, that I had to improve or go back home.

I slowly started improving, and got much better when I moved in with a friend. My best friend with whom I live has always loved my cooking, which I think is one of the main reasons I started liking to cook so much. When someone appreciates what you do, it motivates you to do it better. I know many women who think that cooking is regressive and take great pride in claiming inability to cook! The other excuse I hear a lot is, “I know how to cook, I just don’t like to cook!” I know it’s an excuse because it’s what I used to tell my mom when she would try to teach me. Anyone who thinks cooking is regressive for women, clearly don’t know what they are talking about. Cooking is a liberating, stress relieving therapy. Anyone-man or woman-by the time they are living by themselves should know how to cook. That’s one skill which will make you truly independent! Besides not relying on restaurants cooking at home is healthier too, you control the amount of oil, sugar and salt you add to your food-the main culprits for unhealthy food.

Whatever I know of traditional Indian Gujarati cooking, I have learnt it from my mom, and my sister and I am so thankful to them for it. Cooking is such a great way to pass on your tradition and culture to the future generations. I know of a family friend who teaches her 15-year old son to cook so that he isn’t dependent on his mom or his future wife for meals all the time. I think that’s pretty cool, starting them young-nobody has said cooking has to be just a woman’s job! Just that it’s therapeutic, gives you some time for yourself, saves money and makes you healthier. Now with all those benefits who wouldn’t want to cook for themselves!

The True Children of a Lesser God

Attenti al Lupo

Child in Syria

We are not talking about it. It’s a shadow. Just far and away. We are not talking about it.

We are not talking about the children of Syria.

In February a report was presented to the U.N. Security Council that verifies the terror suffered by Syria’s children during three years of an insane conflict. But they don’t care. No action.

Children have been sexually abused. Raped. Executed. Children have been used as human shield. Their relatives have been tortured before them.

More than 10,000 have been killed. We are silent. They don’t exist. The children of Syria are far and away. Shadows and ashes that we ignore.

They are the true children of a lesser God.

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Dreams

“Dream as if you’ll live forever, and live as if you’ll die today”. I remember reading this beautiful line years ago when I had no idea about the meaning of dreams and when dreams and life meant the same thing. Today, years older this line takes on new significance, when dreams want to take me on a different path than life does. But somewhere in between I think we (destiny and dreams) try and achieve a balance to make everyone happy. At the expense of sounding pompous, I feel as if I always wanted to do things differently than others. Though my aspirations were less grand when I was in India, being independent does something to you. I am one of those people who want to live life on my own terms. Until I find someone who is willing to take me with all my baggage or someone who makes me want to bend my rules, I am going to go about fulfilling my aspirations. Of course, I need a 9am-5pm job to fund my dreams, but after 5, I want to live in my world!

So here’s my short to-do/aspirations list. Read it if you have patience for it, maybe you can get some ideas of your own and share if you want to.

1)      Have my parents by my side when I see the pyramids in Egypt, volcanoes in Hawaii and Northern Lights in Alaska.

2)      Have a big library/study room of my own with bookshelves full of books. Then maybe one day I could say I have read them all.

3)      Get over my fear of speeds, so that I can drive and then travel more

4)      Learn an Indian classical dance

5)      Write more blogs and maybe write a book someday- I can imagine my parents beaming with pride when they read my book!!

6)      Have my own business, to sustain my expensive habits like writing, reading and eating in good restaurants

7)      Adopt a baby girl

8)      Adopt a dog

9)      Help educate/teach young kids

10)   Visit some beautiful libraries like the ones at Oxford

11)   Learn to swim so that I can see more of the world.

12)   Biggest and the most difficult aspiration, live my life without regrets and own up to my decisions.

I think the list is good enough for now. I can increase the list on the fly; as life teaches me new lessons and gives me more experiences on the way.

The Tyrant’s Daughter

The Tyrant’s Daughter is an intense book of a royal family torn apart by the civil war in their country. As the title suggests the book is written in 15-year old Laila’s voice. Her family flees their home country in middle-east after the assassination of the “king”- her father. While living in exile in the US, Laila struggles with the differences between this land of plenty and her own oppressed home country. As she is trying to separate her new life from her old one, her past and present continue to collide in school and at home.

The author has a done a wonderful job with Laila’s character. A 15-year old coming to grips with her father’s deeds, struggling with an American lifestyle and trying to find a balance between the two colliding worlds; is expressed beautifully by J C Carleton. The side characters of Bastein, Emmy, Ian and Amir are also expressed quite well.  As an immigrant to US myself, I could identify with many aspects of societal behavior which are confusing to Laila.

Though I wish we could have known about Laila’s mother, there’s almost nothing to character except that she’s cunning, manipulative but loves her children and wants to be on the top. I did like the way it leaves Laila’s future life to the imagination of the readers. But I wish the author wouldn’t have ended all their problems so abruptly. All in all, I would recommend this book to someone who wants to read about the collateral damages of any war. It’s not the dead who suffer, it’s the living who continue to suffer during and after any kind of civil war. 

All Soul’s Trilogy

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Deborah Harkness is an academician and a historian, the fact which is apparent in her books. Discovery of Witches has the magic and thrill of the forbidden love and Shadow of Night takes us further beyond that romance and into the realities of loving your enemy. Both the books are amazingly well-written, with fleshed out characters and enough thrill to keep you turning those pages well into the night.

A Discovery of Witches: A Discovery of Witches starts with a young, inexperienced Diana Bishop accidently unearthing a long lost alchemical manuscript at the Bodelian Library in Oxford. This discovery soon puts vampires, daemons and other witches hot on Diana’s trail, including a biochemist and ancient vampire-Matthew Clairmont. With every creature desperate to discover the secrets of the alchemical manuscript, the book follows Matthew and Diana as they journey from Oxford, to France to Madison, New York to find the secrets buried since ancient times.

 It starts with Diana-a reluctant witch-accidently discovering the lost manuscript, which the creatures-witches, vampires, and daemons- are desperately searching for centuries. While the book has a little slow start, it grips you right from the first page. Diana Bishop is portrayed as a reluctant witch who is trying to break out of her witch heritage. She’s smart, strong, and strong-willed. Matthew Clairmont is a biochemist looking for reasons the creatures are dying out. Since time immemorial forbidden love has caught our fantasies and this tale of suspense and love between a witch and a vampire is no different. On one side is the congregation of creatures who will stop at nothing to get back the lost manuscript and avoid the union of a powerful witch and a vampire and on the good side are the creatures ready to kill and die so that others can live free. The book will have you fall in love with not just Matthew Clairmont, but the other characters including Hamish, Marcus, Sarah and Emily.

Shadow of Night: Shadow of Night begins exactly where The Discovery of Witches left off. With Diana trying to fit in the 16th century England and Matthew trying to keep her safe from the witch trials, the couple is having a tough enough time, without adding the congregation and Elizabethan politics. The second book of the trilogy, focuses on Matthew and Diana looking for a powerful witch to train Diana on her witchcraft along with the lost alchemical manuscript.

This is the book where Deborah Harkness’s background as a historian shines through. While reading the Shadow of Night, you don’t just read Diana and Matthew’s story, you are also educated about the England of middle ages, the important characters and a short course on Elizabethan politics. Her writing is crisp and detailed enough that you can picture the 1590’s London in your mind, but not so detailed that you are bogged down with descriptions. Again like in the first book, this one has well rounded characters, and story moves forward from London to France to Prague and back.

While many people have compared this series to Twilight, this wouldn’t be further from truth. The richness of Deborah’s writing will immerse you in the book and leave you wanting for more. It will leave you caring and loving the characters as if they were alive, and that is a mark of a good book in my opinion. The last book in the series comes out in July and I am excited, yet sad to see the end of All Soul’s Trilogy. Hopefully Deborah Harknesss has more in store for us. Don’t miss this amazing series.