The Art of Wallowing

Everyone has bad days. After all life is all about the peaks and valleys, the highs and the lows. What I find acceptable completely necessary is to wallow in it (high five to those that got the Gilmore Girls reference). I’ve found the best way to do this is to read a good book, get a good laugh, and indulge in a guilty pleasure.

A Good Book

I absolutely love starting a new book. Even more, a good book is synonymous with comfort and escape, two perfect things when you are not having the greatest of days. My current read, The Paris Wife by Paula Mclain, is exactly that. The Paris Wife, set in the 1920s, tells the story of the writer Ernest Hemingway’s first marriage to wife Hadley Richardson. Perhaps it is my last post, my love of historical fiction or literature that drove to me download this book. It is a great look back at what life was like the 20s and particularly in Paris: plenty of jazz and many decadent parties. Not a bad way to escape, right?

A Good Laugh

Modern Family is one of the best shows on television and they have the awards to prove it. I became hooked when it first came out and proceeded to get everyone I know hooked on it as well. It consistently makes me laugh week after week. Whether new or old episodes, I can always rely on the show to give me a really good laugh to snap me out of my funk.

A Guilty Pleasure

I discovered Pocky on a whim while at an Asian grocery store a few years back and since then I’ve been hooked. The chocolate with almonds are my favorite, but I’m not picky. Another of my guilty pleasures is the television show Revenge. I’m obsessed with the show and the pretty scenes and people serve as a wonderful distraction.

What are some of your tried and true methods to getting over a bad day?

The Vegetarian Diaries

I think it is possible to be a vegetarian and a lover of food at the same time. I may not eat meat or fish, but that doesn’t stop me from trying different cuisines and restaurants. Perhaps I have been lucky enough to live in an area where there are plenty of choices for vegetarians.

Regardless, I thought it would be fun to share what I eat when I go out to a restaurant. And no, it’s not a salad or soup. I’m talking real food.

This week I went to a local Mexican restaurant. I LOVE it. Whenever we would return from month long visits to India, my first meal of choice would be Mexican food. Honestly, how can you not like a cuisine in which guacamole is one of the main ingredients?

I ordered the nachos (can you believe these were in the appetizer section?). I opted for black beans because I love them, but also because they are vegetarian.

In case anyone is interested, I added the book Eating Animals to my GoodReads list. Just as he is about to become a father, the author Jonathan Safran Foer, takes a look into the food that we eat, why we eat it, along with a few trips to factory farms in the middle of the night. I am looking forward to reading it!

GoodReads

I enjoy keeping up to date on all the trends and latest happenings in social media. Last year I blogged about Pinterest. My most recent obsession is GoodReads.

What is GoodReads exactly? It is a social network for bookworms, like myself. On GoodReads, you can share what books you’ve read, your reviews, and what you are currently reading. Have you ever been in one of those instances where you’re at a bookstore and you can’t remember the name of the books you’ve wanted to read? (I’ve been there. Many times.) GoodReads has that covered with a handy “to read” list.

And best of all, this is a social network so you can add your friends and their lists! Think the book that your friend is reading is interesting? Add it to your list!

There is also an app for the iPhone and Android. So if you’re at a party discussing books (what? that doesn’t happen to you? ) you can quickly jot down the names.

Check out my GoodReads shelf here!

Are you on GoodReads?

Movie Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

My thoughts on books turned to movies are quite clear – but once in a while, a movie comes out that lives up to the book’s hype.

I saw The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo over the holidays. I had no real expectations of the movie; my sister-in-law and I wanted to see it because we both read the books. But once I began looking for showtimes and came across the ratings (4 stars average) I began to get excited. Maybe this movie won’t be awful!

We were not disappointed. A few scenes were quite graphic and disturbing (I could barely read those paragraphs in the book, so you can imagine my state in the theater). The movie itself was a bit long (2 hours and 40 minutes), as they tried their hardest to fit all the details of the book. Of course this meant a few things were changed in the movie, but that is to be expected.

The real star of the movie was the girl with the dragon tattoo- Rooney Mara. She played the role of Lisabeth Salander so incredibly well. From the make-up to the acting, she was the shining star. I think she is well on her way to becoming one of the best actresses in Hollywood.

Did you see the movie? What did you think?

Book Review: The Hunger Games

I finally finished the Hunger Games trilogy and it was amazing.

It’s hard to describe what the books are exactly about without giving away the story. The genre is dystopian literature. It reminded me of a mix of The Handmaid’s Tale and Harry Potter. The former because of the dystopian elements and the latter because of the story and the world created by the author, Suzanne Collins.

While the main character, Katniss, did get on my nerves at times it was nice to have a strong, capable female heroine unlike Bella Swan.

A fair warning: the trilogy is highly addictive. Immediately after finishing one book, I just had to buy the next and so on.

The movie based on the first book is releasing next year. I cannot wait, but I hope it doesn’t have the same fate as most books turned into movies do.

Here is the trailer:

Have you read The Hunger Games? What did you think?

May the odds be ever in your favor. 

My love for fusion

I absolutely love anything that is a fusion of Indian and American styles. I can’t really explain why, other than that it is so quintessentially me.

I have just as many garba/bhangra/Hindi film tracks on my iPhone as I do Britney, Maroon 5, and Nicki Minaj. I enjoy chaat just as much as I love In-N-Out. My Netflix queue consists of Hindi movies and Gossip Girl. Fusion is just who I am.

Here are my favorite fusions in dance, music, and food.

Dance

I discovered this video a few months ago via Facebook and have yet to tire from it. The classical song selection remixed and paired with hip hop is brilliant. It doesn’t hurt that the dancers are amazing. My favorite part is in the first song when the beat kicks in. So, so good!

Music

This mash up of Nicki Minhaj’s Super Bass and Mission Kashmir’s Bumbro is my current jam. I first heard this song featured on the Curry Smugglers (who are awesome! Check them out.) and I was instantly hooked.

Food

Okay, I love food so after much debating I’ve decided that my favorite Indian-American fusion food is tandoori pizza. Pizza is amazing by itself, but tandoori pizza adds such a kick that it takes pizza up a few notches. Besides don’t pizzas called paneer tikka or mango chaat make your mouth water?

Some of my other fusion favorites:

I found this cake on Pinterest and immediately repinned it with the caption “My future wedding cake”. Jokes aside, I love the mehendi-like designs on these cakes. They look almost too pretty to eat.

There is no better Indian-American fusion book than The Namesake. This is the book that started the Desi lit genre. It’s one of my all-time favorite books and it’s what cemented Jhumpa Lahiri as one of my favorite authors.

Do you like fusion? Why or why not? What are some of your favorite things in fusion? (It doesn’t have to be only Indian American fusion.) I’d love to hear your thoughts!

PS – I thought it interesting to note that I was inspired to write this blog post during this morning’s work out. Don’t you love it when inspiration strikes at the unlikeliest of times? I sure do. 🙂

Historical Fiction

I’m currently reading Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) which is a mix of her memoir and a compilation of essays about her life. I’m not really into non-fiction books, but Kaling is one of the few South Asian women on television these days, and she’s hilariously brilliant so I had to support.

However, in recent years my favorite genre has been historical fiction (with a particular focus on South Asian history). I love history and I love stories, so it’s the best mix of both worlds. Two of my favorite books are Beneath the Marble Sky and Veil of Roses. 

Beneath the Marble Sky, by John Shors, takes place during the Mughal Empire and the building of the Taj Mahal. I enjoyed reading about the richness of the Indian culture at that time. The fiction aspect deals with Emperor Shah Jahan’s daughter, who falls in love with the architect of the Taj Mahal.

Veil of Roses, by Laura Fitzgerald, tells the story of a young Iranian woman who comes to America with the hope of starting a new life. It was so interesting to read about life in Iran is so restricted and what the Ayatollah is like.

Another good read is The Twentieth Wife, by Indu Sundaresan.

Next I plan to read Partitions, a novel written by my friend’s husband about the India-Pakistan partition.

Do you have a favorite historical fiction book? What genre do you enjoy reading?

Book Review: The Lovely Bones

I picked up The Lovely Bones at a Borders going out of business sale for $3 about a month ago. I was always a little hesitant to buy the book because I thought the subject matter was too depressing. For those that don’t know, The Lovely Bones is told from the point of view of a 13 year old girl who was brutally murdered. She looks down on her family and friends on Earth as they attempt to grieve and also find her killer.

I started it the night I got it and I’ve yet to finish. Normally, I am a fast reader and usually have to pace myself to not finish the book in a matter of days. I’ve never not finished a book, even if I really disliked it.

The plot of the book is definitely bold and innovative. I think the main reason I don’t like The Lovely Bones is because of the author, Alice Sebold’s writing style. Something about it doesn’t mesh well with me. There are so many characters; the book jumps from one to the other so abruptly I have a hard time keeping track.

I am really disappointed as I’ve heard great things about this book. There was even a movie based off of it.

I will give it my best try to finish reading it, but I can’t give any guarantees.

I also picked up Passages: 24 Modern Indian Stories at the Borders sale. It contains work by Jhumpa Lahiri (my favorite author), Vikram Seth, Salman Rushdie, and so on..I am always interested in reading works by Indian authors, so I can’t wait to start it.

Has there ever been a book that you just couldn’t finish? What book was it and why?

Road trip Essentials

Having traveled from the Bay Area to LA numerous times, I like to consider myself a pro at it. I can pack in a mere few hours, we have set rest stops that we hit along the way, and the six hour drive breezes by.

Here are my road trip tips:

  • Wear comfy clothes. In the summer I stick to capris or shorts because Central California is HOT.
  • Bring a pillow and a blanket to help you catch some zzz’s (when you’re not driving of course).
  • Pack your iPod and headphones for solo music time and burn CDs for when you are driving (The rule is that the driver gets to hear their preference of music.)
  • Reward yourself with some good road trip food.

  • Books and magazines help pass the time.
  • Once you arrive to your destination, treat yourself to some frozen yogurt. You deserve it!
What are your road trip musts? I’d love to hear them!

E-Books vs Real Books

It’s no secret that I love to read. Ever since I was little, I’ve spent at least 20 to 30 minutes reading before bed. It started with Berenstain Bears and Clifford to Sweet Valley High and the Baby Sitter’s Club. Now it’s grown into books like Half the Sky, Last Night at Chateau Marmont (both which are reviewed, respectively, here and here) and the most recent Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants novel, Sisterhood Everlasting.

So as you can see, I’ve grown up loving the smell and feel of an actual book. But last December, I ordered an Amazon Kindle. And you know what? I don’t regret my decision.

Here are just some of the reasons why:

My heaven.

  • I loathe buying hardcover books, so it was always a test to my patience to wait for the paperback. (Except for Harry Potter
     books, those are all in hardcover.)  Now with the kindle, I never have to wait.
  • Books are heavy! Growing up I’ve spent entire summers in India, the Middle East, and Singapore. My parents were never too pleased to have to lug mine and my brother’s books across the county. With the Kindle, I no longer have a carry on bag that causes me (or my dad) ridiculous back pain at the end of the journey.
  • It’s so sleek and pretty! Yes, I know this is superficial, but it’s true. I also found a very cute, hot pink case for it.
  • Once you get over the initial cost of buying the e-book device, the books are actually cheaper. You can even get some of the classics for free! Also, there is a way to loan books between Kindle users (I’m not sure about any other e-book devices).
  • I can’t believe this is so low on my list, but e-books are environmentally friendly.
That being said, I am very sad to hear about all these bookstores like Borders and Barnes and Nobles closing. Some of my best memories are sitting in the cafe, eating a warm chocolate chip cookie, and reading a book from cover to cover.
So which do you prefer? A real book or an e-book? Why or why not?