Six different women narrate their life experiences. They hail from different backgrounds but the one common thread that ties all of them is the influence of men in their lives. And it is this thread that becomes a point of discussion in a ladies compartment of a train journey.
The lead character, 45 year old Akhila takes up the responsibility of supporting her family after her father's death. A strict routine, day after day pushes her to a stage that her family considers her just as an earning member and not as a normal woman who could have feelings and would love to have a family of her own. She remains to be a spinster, searching for the answer if she could stay alone for the rest of her life.
In search of her quest, she boards a train to Kanyakumari where she happens to meet five different women. Janaki, the old lady whose son disrespects her but she believes that a woman can never live alone and that she is bound to be with a man; Margaret, the chemistry teacher whose husband illtreats her and tries to put her down in every possible situation through his harsh words; Sheela, a teenager who expresses what she truly believes but only to be shunt by her father for crossing the boundaries setforth in front of women in traditional India; Prabha Devi who comes out of her cocoon by being a rebel as per her own terms and finds her purpose in being afloat; Marikolanthu who is subject to unexpected twists and turns and her life goes beyond her control.
Each story has its share of sadness and I couldn't interpret if Akhila ever got an answer to her quest. I especially liked the character Margaret who is so typical and can be recognized anywhere in India - a working woman but never treated on par because of the ego clashes and the superior portrayal of her fault finding husband.
The author Anitha Nair has done her homework very well as the different characters are very familiar and can easily be reckoned with. The metaphors sprinkled throughout the novel are pretty intriguing. For instance, Akhila's strict and unchanged routine being related to her starched cotton sarees, Margaret's way of attaching the name of chemicals to different people she encounter, with her husband being the oil of vitriol - sulphuric acid, Marikolanthu's name which means being second to the real thing and how her life unfolds to match her name. A very detailed narration has made this novel a little dragging at places. But nevertheless, it was an interesting read.
That's how the drive to Madikeri was last weekend (Update: a couple of weekends ago). A fresh experience! As on Friday, I was in two minds whether to go for the trip or not. In the end, it turned out to be a memorable trip.
Only an outdoor event can force me to wake up at 4 AM. We got ready quickly and all our bags were packed. The city hasn't yet started its gear and it was a perfect time to start our Indica's gear. We picked up our other friends on the way and hit the Mysore Road before sunrise. The weather was cool and the day began with a cloudy sky. After a quick breakfast at Kamat, we were back on the road ,occasionally stopping on our way to capture the beautiful scenic spots in our camera. It started drizzling and the downpour became heavy by the time we reached Bylakuppe, a Tibetan settlement area. The monastery was an awesome sight and was neatly maintained. The drive was enjoyable, more so to the drivers who had fun overtaking the Accents and Santros and also being overtaken by the Altos and 800s and hitting 80 and 100 kmph. The road was superb for the most part except for a few kms between Bylakuppe and Kushalnagar.
We stopped for lunch at Kushalnagar and then decided to go to Nisargadhama,a serene island. Rain played spoilsport and we couldn't spend much time in this beautiful island formed by the river Cauvery. Madikeri welcomed us with cool breeze, mild drizzle and spectacular viewpoints. After a bit of tussle identifying the location of our homestay, we reached the place before sunset. Although food not being part of the homestay was a disappointment, we were able to arrange for dinner. After spending the rest of the evening playing cards and dumbsharads, we had a good night sleep.
Waking up late on a Sunday morning doesn't change whether the place is Bangalore or Madikeri, I suppose. After a nice Coorgi breakfast and a refreshing coffee prepared by aunty at the home stay, her son took us on a trip towards their coffee plantations. This is the first time I happened to see coffee plants and touch-me-not plants. The sky was clear and the sunlight lifted our spirits. After an hour at the Raja's seat, we hit the roads again and with no rains, we crossed the bad roads in no time. It was a smooth journey towards Bangalore with pitstops at Kushalnagar for lunch and Cafe Coffee day.
The whole experience has been amazing and I can happily put a tick mark against Madikeri in my to-visit list :-)
As part of the prescribed readings of our "Operations Management" course, I came across this interesting and insightful book "The goal" by Eliyahu Goldratt and Jeff Fox. It's definitely an eye opener in terms of breaking some of the traditional mindsets in manufacturing processes.
The story revolves around Alex Rogo, a plant manager who is facing the challenge of improving the performance of his loss-making plant in 90 days. If he fails, his plant will be shut down and many workers will lose their jobs. There has been huge delays in delivering the orders. There are issues with throughput and inventory. Priorities keep changing and expeditors are always on their toes. Overtimes or robots don't help either. Although Alex has been putting long hours at work trying to fix issues, there is no improvement whatsoever. On the other hand, his personal life is affected and so is his marriage.
An accidental meeting with one of his professors Jonah opens up a new window of thinking and Alex starts to analyze the processes in his plant from scratch. Jonah's pointers on throughput, operational expense and inventory helps Alex to unravel more pitfalls in the current operations of his plant. He gets to learn more on bottlenecks when he goes on a hiking trip with his son. Many revelations that he experiences in this journey of three months are common sensical in nature. Yet in the name of so-called common practices, we tend to not think beyond and question the many principles that we follow blindly.
There are many valuable insights throughout this book in terms of productivity and utilization aspects, dependent events and statistical fluctuations. The author also hits at some of the common accounting practices that can prove to be detrimental in the effective operations of a firm. Towards the end, the concept of "theory of constraints" fits so beautifully with the learnings that Alex experiences in his journey.
I found this book to be very interesting. I plan to read "Goal II" during my weekend vacations in May :-)
1. LAST MOVIE YOU SAW IN A THEATER: Jodha Akbar - loved the costumes, grandeur and ofcourse, Hrithik!
2. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING? "Ladies coupe" by Anitha Nair. Just started with it. Hoping to complete in a week.
3. FAVORITE BOARD GAME? "Snake and ladder". It was fun to play on the day of Vaikunda Ekadesi with my grandma....the more the number of snakes that eat you, the more the number of sins you have committed...that was her logic!
4. FAVORITE MAGAZINE? I'm not really a "magazine" person but I used to read Sportstar regularly during my school and college days. "read" means admiring the pictures of Sachin, Mcgrath, Steve Waugh, Pollock etc :-)
5. FAVORITE SMELLS? Smell of Jaathi malli (a different type of jasmine) Smell of a Pooja room in a traditional Indian house....it's divine, thanks to the flowers, incense sticks and tulsi leaves. Smell of fresh filter coffee
6. FAVORITE SOUND? Of MUSIC? Any form of flute Sound from a cuckoo bird near my window early morning.
7. WORST FEELING IN THE WORLD? loss of a loved one....have experienced it once before and don't even want to think about it.
8. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU THINK OF WHEN YOU WAKE Why is this alarm clock so punctual? Let me snooze for 10 more minutes!
9. FAVORITE FAST FOOD PLACE? Paani puri in Shiv Sagar, Bhel Puri in Ananda Bhavan
10. FUTURE CHILD'S NAME? Will a nick name do? :-) haven't thought of the official name yet....
11. FINISH THIS STATEMENT. "IF I HAD A LOT OF MONEY I'D...? buy a big farm house in Kumarakom, with lots of kittens, a tree house, a huge garden and my own canoe.
12. DO YOU DRIVE FAST? yes, really fast!....my cycle can overtake a roadside buffalo and a lazing dog.
13. DO YOU SLEEP WITH A STUFFED ANIMAL? I won't call it as a stuffed animal.....but I love tiny stuffed toys and they all have names. One of them is very very special!
14. STORMS-COOL OR SCARY? Scary when I'm outside......but cool when I'm inside my home. can't think of a better time to sip hot tea and munch some snacks.
15. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST CAR? Indica might be the real name but I've named her "Reby". Hoping to take her for a drive one day!
16. FAVORITE DRINK? Tea, anytime!.....Coffee is also there in the list but right below tea :-)
17. FINISH THIS STATEMENT, "IF I HAD THE TIME I WOULD..... write all the stories that cross my mind and publish them into novels. become a better cook. read a lot of children fiction (Nancy Drew, Enid Blyton, Hardy boys all of which I didn't read during my childhood) travel around the world and attempt to capture the beauty in my camera and in my words.
18. DO YOU EAT THE STEMS ON BROCCOLI? Are those the pieces that sit in a corner of my emptied salad plate?
19. IF YOU COULD DYE YOUR HAIR ANY COLOR, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR CHOICE? Non-Harry Potter fans can pass on to the next question. "Can I get a Weasley color please, to match my hero Ron?"
20. NAME ALL THE DIFFERENT CITIES/TOWNS YOU HAVE LIVED IN. Chennai, Bangalore
21. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? Cricket, Formula-1
22. ONE NICE THING ABOUT THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU. Preethi is a very sweet and friendly person, a great cook. She always has lots to chat about. A very interesting personality, so does her blog.
23. WHAT'S UNDER YOUR BED? A couple of my MBA textbooks, novels from library, all fighting for my attention!
24. WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE BORN AS YOURSELF AGAIN? Definitely yes.....If I were reborn as myself, I would love to bunk classes and enjoy my college days more than what I did....Everything else remains the same!
25. MORNING PERSON, OR NIGHT OWL? Night owl....I'm very lazy to get up early, my alarm clock bears the brunt.
26. OVER EASY, OR SUNNY SIDE UP? too complicated a question for a tuby like me!
27. FAVORITE PLACE TO RELAX? my bed on a weekend, enjoying my afternoon siesta
28. FAVORITE PIE? Is brownie a pie?
29. FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR? Black currant and strawberry
30. OF ALL THE PEOPLE YOU TAGGED THIS TO, WHO'S MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND FIRST? I would want my hubby to respond....this tag might pull him back to blogging! Anyone else who finds this tag interesting.