“Get To Know Me Better” Tag – #ThisOrThat

First thing that comes to mind about “Get To Know Me Better” Tag is how irrelevant I am. Yes, that’s where my self worth dangles at. But self worth is a whole another blog topic for another day. Today, we are knowing me better. The thought that someone would be interested in “knowing me better” is so bizarre, I mean, isn’t it? What’s the point in that? Having said that, if I can be honest, I have done pointless things all my life.

So, here I am.

I was tagged by the charming and ultra talented Pavithra, one of the most delightful bloggers I have met here. Check Pavithra’s blog at introvertbags. She covers music, kpop and books, but I like everything that she does over that virtual corner. The point is, Pavithra is great and you all must check her corner, NOW. Before starting, I want to thank Pavithra for the tag.


  • Thank the person who nominated/tagged you.
  • Answer all the 50 ThisOrThat questions in your post. You can do less if you want.
  • Link back to the creator @Poorwa’s blog
  • Nominate at least 7 people or more for this tag.
  • Use #ThisOrThat for easy accessibility.
  • Have fun!

So let’s get started…


1. Friends or Internet? – Internet, it’s definitely more accommodating.
2. Pop or Rock? – None, I am more into classical music.
3. Phone Call or Text? – Text, my brain needs time to process and respond.
4. Morning or Evening? – Evening, it feels almost like I survived.
5. Apartment or House? – House in dreams, apartment in reality.
6. Instagram or Twitter? – Twitter, Insta seems aesthetically out of reach.
7. Day or Night? – Night, I like my darkness.
8. Mobile Games or Console Games? – None, I have never gravitated to these.
9. While doing something: Music or Podcasts? – None, I can’t multitask.
10. Book or Movie? – Both, it’s criminal to make me choose.
11. Rain or Snow? – Rain, it has a rhythm.
12. Cake or Pie? – Cake, simpler life is all I need.
13. Swimming or Sunbathing? – Can’t swim, not too tolerant to direct sunlight.
14. Comedy or Horror? – Comedy, how’s that even a choice?
15. Aquarium or Zoo? – Aquarium, I think I understand their language.
16. Big Party or Small Gathering? – None, would never socialize, if allowed.
17. New Clothes or New Phone? – New Clothes, if I genuinely need them.
18. Rich Friend or Loyal Friend? – Rich friends, loyal I have, I need some rich ones.
19. Flowers or Trees? – Trees, they keep me alive.
20. Work Hard or Play Hard? – Work Hard, there’s no alternative for people like me.
21. Nice Car or Nice Home Interior? – None, nice holiday.
22. Phone or Computer? – Computer, a much significant gadget.
23. Jogging or Hiking? – Hiking, exploring is fun.
24. Milk or Juice? – Juice, milk is just not it after an age.
25. Blue or Grey? – Grey, for some reason.
26. Straight or Curly Hair? – Curly, since mine are straight and have hated them all my life.
27. Fruits or Vegetables? – Vegetable, maybe because they can be cooked.
28. Roses or Daisies? – Daisies, but I’m not into flowers per se.
29. Money or Fame? – Money, fame is too scary.
30. Receive: Email or Letter? – Letter, haven’t received one in so long.
31. Passenger or Driver? – Driver, it’s liberating.
32. Watch or Play? – Play, better to participate.
33. Someone Intelligent or Funny? – Funny, you can’t be funny if you aren’t intelligent.
34. Mountains or Beaches? – Beaches, mountains seem angry, beaches are peaceful.
35. Cinderella or Elsa? – Elsa, just because Cinderella is delusional.
36. Money or Free Time? – Money, trust me, it can buy happiness.
37. Iron Man or Captain America? – None, no superheroes for me, please.
38. Video games or Board games? – Board games, they are more fun in my opinion.
39. Singing or Dancing? – Dancing, I am trained one.
40. Long hair or Short hair? – Short hair, it’s always better even though I’m trying to grow mine.
41. Cats or Dogs? – Cats, they are comedians.
42. Cleaning or Cooking? – Cleaning, keep me away from fire.
43. Winter or Summer? – Winter, it’s the season of smarter clothing.
45. Ninjas or Pirates? – Ninjas, who doesn’t want that agility.
46. Sweater or Hoodie? – Hoodie, they feel safer.
47. Working alone or Working in a team? – Working, alone or team doesn’t matter as long as good work is being done.
48. Save or Spend? – Save, I’m not a spender.
49. Meat or Vegetables? – Meat, that’s just how I am.
50. Honesty or Other’s feelings? – Other’s feelings, honesty is overrated and quite impossible to achieve in absolute sense.

Phew……that wasn’t so hard, in fact, I think I get the flow. Frankly, I don’t mind answering another 50 of these. (What’s wrong with me, seriously?)


For my nomination, I nominate anyone who’s reading this. If you want to give this a try, please feel free to consider yourself tagged.

This was such fun. I want to thank the creator – Poorwa and here’s the way to her beautiful blog.

“So as to choose” – Thought of the day

Today, all I’m thinking about is this excerpt from The Portrait Of A Lady.

“I always want to know the things one shouldn’t do.”
“So as to do them?” asked her aunt.
“So as to choose,” said Isabel”

“So as to choose” – this is everything what life is about. Choices.. that’s all we have, or not. But that’s all that is defining what we are and what we are going to be. And although we are making choices every passing minute, it is evident none of us are great at it. Every choice you made yesterday, whether it turned to be good or bad today, is a matter of chance. Even then, here we are trying to make the right choice, not knowing how. 

As for The Portrait Of A Lady, safe to say Isabel Archer is one of my favorite fictional leading ladies of all times. Truly, the more flawed she turned out to be, the more inspiring her whole arc somehow became. She is no classic heroine and it isn’t easy to fall for her, but I still did.    

My The Portrait Of A Lady book review 

Oh, my feminist soul!

So, these two incidents happened. Not making it up at all. These are true stories. Judge them all you want; I am not sorry. Men had this long time coming. 


Cut to –

Scene One

Male Colleague (politely) : Hey, do you need help with that?
Me (clearly struggling, confused about the task) – NO… no, no.. I’m fine. I’m good. Thanks.
Me (internal monologue) – Here we go….Dude, like seriously….huh! Read the room man; do I even know you? This is scary; why is he trying to be friendly for no reason? Errrrrr..

Scene Two

Female Colleague (emotionless) – Let me help you with that. That’s not how it’s done.
Me (on the verge of finishing the task comfortably) – Oh… really? Yeah… yeah, sure, please I was having doubts about the way I am doing it anyway. Here.. thanks for your help. 
Me (internal monologue) *big smile* – She is so sweet.

🙂 🙂 🙂

The Portrait Of A Lady – Book Review

Note – Republishing this review as the last one got deleted and my technologically inept self couldn’t retrieve the deleted blog post. 😦


Book Title – The Portrait of A Lady
Author – Henry James
Publisher – Penguin Classics (1986)
Page Count – 637 (Including introduction by Geoffrey Moore)
Genre – Classic

SynopsisThe Portrait of a Lady is a novel by Henry James, first published as a serial in 1880–81 and later as a full novel in 1881. One of James’s most popular long novels, it is often regarded as one of his finest works. The story centres on a spirited young American woman and confrontations with her destiny, which turns into an overwhelming tale.

No Ratings for Classics


A classic of this stature doesn’t need words because everything that you can think of saying has already been said.

Nonetheless, who stops a reader from talking the book they just finished?

The edition I read was edited with an introduction by Geoffrey Moore, who jotted some extremely riveting aspects about the way James approached the story and Isabel (protagonist) per se. Anyone interested in understanding what encouraged James towards the story should get their hands on this introduction. James had few personal inclinations which played an instrumental role in the production of this novel.

Back to the book and more importantly the most interesting part of the book – the characters.

Isabel Archer is probably one of the first American feminist women in literary fiction who ultimately failed to achieve perfection. She is free-spirited and wants to make her own decision but she isn’t always wise. She makes mistakes and she makes bad choices, but she learns how to live with them. I loved everything about her. Truly, she surprised me, confused me, impressed me, and more than anything she captured me. Some may find the story unappealing, which I feel is exactly what James intended because more than any story, Isabel was the story.

While reading The Portrait of a Lady, from the start, Isabel comes off as a hard nut to crack. James interestingly wrote the entire novel in such a way that to understand the story you had to try and understand Isabel. In his notes at the beginning James mentios – “The weakness of the whole story is that it is too exclusively psychological – that it depends too little on the incident.”

Apart from Isabel, we have Ralph, Warburton, Goodwood, Madame Merle, Henrietta, and off course Mr. Osmund – each one had a fixed role to play in our lady’s life. You may hate some or like some, nonetheless they are all important. Ralph, I thought, had great potential as a character but I can understand why James narrated his story the way he did, given the time and place.

Dialogues and general intelligence of the characters, even the minute ones, is such a refreshing change. The pace could be an issue for some readers but like I said it doesn’t appears to be intended to counter the reader with incidents. Most of the action is cerebral, which is something I can always have extreme fun with.

Classics are classics for a reason and The Portrait of a Lady proves that.


Life is marathon, not a sprint.

So… today, it is okay to stop and breathe.
To take your time,
To drink some water.
So what if the one running next you has already crossed two milestones successfully.
In life, they aren’t getting a trophy for reaching the finishing line first.
So what if you missed your chance at the run-up.
You maybe not be running as fast as you initially thought, you can always gain momentum later.
So what if your competitor looks like they are winning.
Even if they beat you, they will end up in the same space, probably waiting for you.


So… today, it’s okay to sit back and reflect.
Or to sit back and do nothing.


Distraction or Life As It Is

Someone, few days ago, tried their best to convince me that modern world distractions are bad for the human mind. That the way we spend so much time reading books or on the internet doing something or the other is causing more damage than we can even begin to comprehend. That our dependence on all these activities is a carefully constructed distraction and probably the reason we are largely a dissatisfied generation. That we have forgotten how to live or weren’t taught at the first place. That we ignore nature and people, a fact at the root of everything that is wrong with us.

And it offended me at first and then it got me thinking. Like really thinking!

Imagine living a life without these so-called distractions. Nothing to consume your attention; nothing to waste your time on; basically, leaving your whole self for yourself. Imagine always being available because you don’t have anything to take your mind off.

This potentially means – No reading, No TV, No mobile, No internet, No world news, No social media, No blogging, No doom scrolling, No reading long uninformed biased takes on Twitter, No YouTube, No watching cat videos (NO WATCHING CAT VIDEOS), and for individuals like me, No purposelessly staring at a blank screen.

Whoa! Wait for a second, my brain screamed at the thought. What do you mean by distractions? THAT IS my WHOLE ducking LIFE.

(At least, it has been since the pandemic started.)

No, but I am being serious. These distractions are the sole reason I survive the these countless days that may not have any meaning for the bigger picture. Days that we might as well just forget or erase and it wouldn’t matter. And I know that it may sound inappropriate to the traditional beliefs about the ideal way of “living life,” but it has already gone beyond my control. Even if I want to throw this life and run off to some natural paradise – which isn’t impossible, but the fact that it is, impossible – I can’t.

Somehow, what appears to be a mere distraction has now become my life. And I’m not complaining. “Distractions”, that some people are hell-bent on proving to be this absurdity of modern living, aren’t bad. Distractions too serve their purpose, knowingly or unknowingly.

To be honest, most of my imagination is channelled and fostered through these distractions; I owe my knowledge to these distractions. They expose me to the world that otherwise would forever be attainable, they make me realise how voices even the most delicate ones are important, they provide an outlet for my thoughts, they improve my mood and make living through hard times a little bit easier, and more than anything else, these distractions provide solutions to my problems.

So yes, I may not be stopping often enough to smell the roses and it could be a superficial way to live, the truth is, my indulgence in distractions is my escape. And most of the time it is the safest option I have.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara – Book Review


Book title – A Little Life
Author – Hanya Yanagihara
Publisher – Picador
Page count – 720
Genre – Literary Fiction, Bildungsroman
Accolade – Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2015

Content warnings Child abuse, sexual abuse, toxic relationship, self-mutilation, suicide, rape, drug addiction & violence

My Rating – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Review and Thoughts

I finally finished reading what many call the saddest and most miserable literary fiction of current times. I finally finished reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.

When suffering becomes a leitmotif and pain hits you at every turn of page, it doesn’t feel like you gained anything by the end of it. You feel numb and entirely spent. Yet, you do not want to forget a moment of it; you do not wish to trade a second of it for anything frivolous. You want to spend just another moment beneath that burden. And that’s probably the best I can express what I felt reading this masterwork.

But I’m going to try and say more, only because I have so much on mind.

The Story

If I say I loved reading A Little Life, I have a strong feeling that it’s a lie. If I say I hated reading this book, it feels even a bigger lie. It’s as if this story and Yanagihara’s words are sitting in my stomach. It’s not like a knot though. It’s more like a delicate flower that somehow entered my body and now I’m scared to move or even blink thinking it might vanish after all. Do I like this feeling? No. Can I stop thinking about this book anytime soon? I doubt it. Would I recommend this book to people? I doubt that too. Will I read anything else by Hanya Yahagihara? Absolutely Yes!

What I absolutely loved about this book is how character driven the entire 700 plus pages were. There’s no plot, so to speak. It’s just people and their lives, their struggles. And Yahagihara does a great job in presenting a vivid touching character sketch of every primary character. We get to meet, understand and feel everyone.


Hanya Yanagihara as a Writer

Released in 2015 and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize of the same year, I remember reading about this book at that time and I remember it being one of the most polarizing literary fictions of that season. Readers to this day are torn in their opinions and largely divided when it comes to Yanagihara’s attempt at creating a profound novel and her intentions behind it.

I have read reviewers calling her “manipulative in her writing choices” and I have read reviewers label her as “the major new voice in fiction.”

Frankly speaking, when you can get the whole world talking, even in disagreement, you are already a winner. Hanya Yahagihara with her work in this novel is a winner.

There are no two thoughts in mind when I say that Hanya Yanagihara is one of the most profound writers of today. Her prose is captivating, intelligent, and sensitive. There are passages and moments in this book that lingered on my mind for days after finishing the book; there were paragraphs that I kept going back to only to feel that particular moment one more time. And it’s important to note, this story and the book itself aren’t really “entertaining”. It’s painful all throughout and Yanagihara, as a writer, had the power that she made me want to go back and experience the pain again. It says a lot about her command over the language and the direction she was taking. Her writing was painful almost like a bleeding painting that you simply can’t look away from.

Is A Little Life “too distressing”?

The book can be shocking and traumatizing. And I won’t argue with anyone who says they didn’t like it because I can clearly see why one wouldn’t. I also believe this is what Yanagihara was trying to achieve. She deliberately made the book as devastating as it can be to convey how people and their response to pain can be different. How some of us are just not ready to bear what other endure without making a sound.

Trauma is complicated and we all have different understanding of the word. I believe a lot of people focuses on the shocking aspects of this story and turns it all into the biggest criticism of the book, but I do not agree with those complaints.

People live horrifying realities and I for one, never felt that the shocking aspects were merely added for “shock value” (a common criticism of the book). I also, 100%, would never call this “torture porn”, which is how I’ve seen many young reviewers label this as. The trauma and suffering may seem unbearable after a point, but who can measure pain as too little or too much. It’s different for different people and many are living life that has baggage that no one knows about, just like the main character (Jude) in A Little Life.

Truth is after all stranger than fiction, no matter how much horrifying fiction appears to be, truth surpasses. Trauma, once it hits you, can often be your constant. It’s one episode after another. It’s the devastating truth of existence.

What about the triggering content?

Diving into this 700 plus pages long novel, I was well aware of what I was getting into. I knew how much triggering the book can be and how dark twisted fate this story carries. As a reader, I don’t mind dark triggering subject matters as long as they are well written.

A Little Life should come with every trigger warning one can imagine. Some of the graphic descriptions of certain traumatic events are extremely raw as well as new to fiction. Authors usually tend to go a more obscure route when dealing with delicate subjects matters, the language is often metaphoric or theoretical, which wasn’t what Yanagihara did. She, in fact, decided to go for a bolder and straightforward approach, which as a reader I connected with more. It made her narrative more impactful and almost hard to let go off.

Having said all that I have in this book’s admiration, I do believe it isn’t for everyone. For anyone struggling, this can be utterly triggering experience. Therefore, I would certainly suggest to make sure as a reader you familiarize yourself with the material and it’s complexities before diving into this one.

Final Thoughts

I loved A Little Life more than I should have. The rational part of my mind was constantly reminding me that this is too bleak and why are you doing this to yourself, but rationality doesn’t make sense in art. This isn’t an easy read; it’s long and it does not promise entertainment. But, credit to Yanagihara’s thoughtful and well structured writing, I couldn’t put this down. In fact, it is one of those books that I will keep in my pile of “to-read-again.” If you can handle an experience so heavy that you will be compelled to stop reading to be able to breathe again, only then I can recommend this. Nonetheless, it is a masterwork.

Netflix’s Shadow and Bone – Review and Thoughts


Well… good publicity and well coordinated exposure sometimes spares no one, not even the most determined of minds. Just like Netflix’s Shadow and Bone didn’t spare me. Peer pressure you all…. peer pressure!

Thanks to the craftily created social media buzz, last week I found myself streaming the entire show in one night. Now let’s be honest, only eight episodes of 45 minutes each, I had nothing to lose even when young adult fantasy has never been my genre.

Anyhow, to cut it short, this is an honest Shadow and Bone review by someone who hasn’t read the books and had no idea about the world of Leigh Bardugo, popular young adult and fantasy author.

This is going to be a spoiler-free review for reasons I better not mention. (Reason – there’s nothing too spoilery in this saga/magicverse, insert yawn emoji here.)

At first glance, Shadow and Bone seems like a superfluous cross between a kid’s version of Game of Thrones and an adult’s version of Harry Potter. The costumes, the language, the premise and the Hogwarts style magic training sessions; everything hints at some fantasy show that you may have watched at some point. However, credit to an intriguing start and natural curiosity linked to world-building, the initial reference points do fade away once you allow yourself to get into it.


Yet, I have complaints.

This adaption from Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse series is generating widespread hype around social media, especially amongst the shippers. Fandom shipping, for those who don’t know (in a fictional show or movie), has nothing to do with actual large size boats and everything to do with a section of the audience that tirelessly root for two characters to get together romantically. Most of online fandoms are driven by this side of the audiences and Shadow and Bone is thriving on this front. Let me clarify, I have no problem with shipping, whatever floats your boat I guess. But… the problem arises when shipping (as in the romantic possibilities between two categories) becomes the only talking point of the show and everything else fails to matter. In the online community, what is portrayed as larger than life saga basically turned out to be a half baked attempt at television, in my opinion. And it is nothing less than disappointing even when I didn’t  have much expectation.

The show also mixes characters from another Bardugo’s duology series Six of Crows. And I thank the show creator for making this choice. Frankly speaking, this mixture cleverly jumbles the episodes with different plotlines from different worlds, making the show somewhat interesting (or rather I should say somewhat bearable). The thing is, if not for the Crows, this would have been a disaster.

Not everything was that bad, let me point out the good and bad then:

The Good

Impressive World Building

If you are writing fantasy, world-building is one aspect where you cannot fail. It has to be interesting, memorable, captivating, distinct and believable. A lot goes into this and getting it right is half battle won. Shadow and Bone is well built.

Bardugo’s book series is set in a Russia inspired world named Ravka and the story is built around the Grisha universe, also popularly known as Grishaverse. Grishas are the humans born with supernatural uncommon abilities that almost seem magical but in fact, are not. These humans are naturally gifted and can brush up on their uncommon abilities with practice. Everything in this world is intriguing from the first go, which piques your interest in the story.


The Crows

Even though the story we are told is from Grisha Trilogy, it is the plot and characters from Six of Crow duology thrown into the mix that appears to be more interesting. It is the Six of Crows that I wanted to watch more and it is the Six of Crows character that made me pull through the series. Frankly speaking, the creators choice of mixing the two storylines is quite understandable. The truth is, without the Crows, the story otherwise has zero to minimum charm to hold on to and might have been a complete snooze fest on its own.


The number of shows trying hard to rank well in the inclusivity column these days is absurdly huge. Almost every show wants to be known for its diversity making colourblind casting somehow appreciable. Honestly, I have mixed feelings about this trend of casting actors regardless of ethnicity or race. I don’t think it is always socially helpful or even inclusive and I certainly don’t think it is always done with the right intentions.

If you are casting an Indian actor only to attract an Indian audience making the character and their lineage irrelevant, it makes the story and your quest of diversifying the industry extremely superficial.

Not many shows manage to go beyond this surface-level inclusion. Shadow and Bone does well here. The characters and their ethnicity are not incidental and in fact, play an instrumental role in the story. The main character Alina Starkov’s ethnic background majorly influences her life and shape the story from the beginning. This is however not something that is the book series, where the character is white. This change in the adaptation was a deliberate choice to ensure inclusivity and is done well. Alina isn’t the only diverse character in the show, where the show creators did a great job in creating representative storylines.

The Bad

Lack of Compelling Protagonist

No story, no matter how original and gripping the plot is, can work without a compelling protagonist. It’s the first thing that needs to work in fiction to make the story you are writing work. I care about what’s happening because I care for the people living through it. Forget about the protagonist, Shadow and Bone lacks that one compelling character that makes it all worth a watch.


Alina Starkov, the female lead, is an orphan former assistant cartographer in the First Army whose later discovered to be the Sun Summoner (someone who can summon the light), is the most flavourless and lethargic leading lady I have seen in recent times. I don’t if her character is written purposely like this or if it is just a lack of fleshing out, but her presence is negligible to the point that several side characters seem not just more interesting but more watchable than her.

Throughout the show, I was waiting for her to improve her screen presence and show some life, but to my disappointment, the show ended before any of that could happen.

An Underwhelming Attempt at Television

Romantic clichés that are thrown on screen out of nowhere, underwhelming emotions that failed to make me feel anything, half-baked characterisation making not a single character worth rooting for, recycled plots and unoriginal “twists”, Shadow and Bone is another over-hyped and under-developed attempt at creating great television. To put it more bluntly, I was bored.

Even though the start was impressive, halfway through the show was almost unbearable with vaguely crafted love stories entered the story for a reason I still can’t comprehend. Everyone is falling in love with everyone, don’t ask how or why.

Mediocre Performances

An actor can elevate even a mediocre script to something extraordinary. Sadly, that didn’t happen in Shadow and Bone. What’s missing is a powerful performance. Jessie Mei Li as Alina Starkov is extremely mediocre in not only her performance but also her screen presence. Now whether the writing is to blame is a different question, but with so many good actors performing so well in mediocre shows, you can’t blame me for questioning an actor’s ability.

Now, I’m going to share an unpopular opinion on Ben Barnes. I know how much people love him and to be frank, his presence is the biggest selling point for many watching the show. Having said that, I must admit Ben Barnes as General Kirigan aka The Darkling was too jaded. I found Darkling’s gravitas particularly depthless. Everything cinematically done to make him look powerful falls short because of how weak the writing of this character is.

The other performances are decent but hardly captivating enough. Kit Young as Jesper Fahey, a member of The Crows and a skilled sharpshooter, and his goat Milo are the only two performances worth applauding.

It’s interesting how being a mini-series is both a good and bad thing for this story. On one hand, so much was packed in so little screen time that everything lacked depth and failed to come together at the end, which made me wonder what if the story and characters were fleshed out a little. On the other hand, it is because of being a relatively short series that I know I could finish watching it.

Anyhow, one thing is clear to me – anything that is being overhyped by social media should always be noted with a pinch of salt. It is not a complete disappointment yet it is not the epic television everyone is gushing about. Falling somewhere in between, I say watch it if you are bored.

Some words for the way…

I am not a quote person per se. As in I don’t open internet to read what dead people said about life, no matter how helpful and true some of the things said are. But when the going gets tougher day by day, no one can deny the impact some wise words can leave on you.

Been really struggling for the past few weeks. Life, as it seems, is moving too fast yet too little. Anxiety is peaking, everything around isn’t helping either, and hope was never my strongest pursuit anyway. Basically, a recipe for trouble.

No matter how much you think you have your thoughts and feelings under control, it doesn’t take long for life to remind you that your strings are basically in someone else’s hands. It frustrating. This feeling of anxiousness. And this is the worst time to try to stay calm, when everything around you is a trigger. 

But you have to keep going, through whatever hell hole it is. Facing it and moving forward by pushing the log to the side is the only way. And to do that, some wise words always work. Even when they sound pretentious, they do work subconsciously. So…. in light of the need, leaving some words here, for lord knows we all need them.

Some words for the way…