Workout Buddies, Warm Ice Bath, Petrichor

Hello, the non-existent readers of this blog. If you exist, make yourselves known (by leaving a comment).

For some time now, BO has been wanting to get back into the swing of regular workouts. You might remember she had also joined her neighbourhood Zumba classes. That didn’t work out too well because those were in the evening, and evening workouts might have led to some acidity issues. Any way, since then she has done a few morning workouts here and there. But you know how it is? You do something one day, and then that’s about it.

Hopefully, not any more! Beloved TCG (formerly TC (sidenote: we have grown up so much, but internal world still feels the same)), messaged saying she plans to join a gym. BO jumped at the opportunity and proposed being “Exercise Accountability Buddies“. Meaning, the two girls, fine, LADIES, will do their respective workouts and let each other know. They will encourage and prod each other on in the hopes of accomplishing their fitness goals.

BO casually mentioned this EAB plan to Y, who then proceeded to laugh at said plans, and ALSO MESSAGED TCG a scathing review of BO’s former performance as Y’s EAB (when basically neither of them went to the gym, and each convinced the other to promptly go back to sleep instead of the other way round).

With such lack of faith in display, BO got extra pumped to prove Y wrong. As a result, BO and TCG have managed 2 days of back to back morning workouts. Today was a break (unintentional).

Dear reader, also be reminded that this is the Peak of Summer, and as such, the heat is rather painful. Cold water (or NOT HOT water) is impossible to get (except from the refrigerator), and “room temperature” is a HOT 45 degrees celcius. BO found post-workout bathing particularly torturous. What kind of a place is Delhi where you get scalding hot water at 8 am in the summers??? Enter, giant block of ice. B (BO & Y’s domestic help) has been freezing giant blocks of ice in the fridge for cooling things quickly when needed for cooking purposes (mainly for setting dahi). Yesterday morning, BO remembered said ice, and dunked it in the bucket of 8am-hot-as-hell water. Tada! No longer hot water, but acceptable temperature (still not COOL or COLD, but we’ll take it).

As BO writes this post, heavens choose to contradict her and have showered Delhi with a lovely little rainshower. BO happened to be dreaming about petrichor yesterday and how she longs to smell it, and now, here it is!

As for the actual workouts being followed, TCG has been doing zumba until she joins a gym. Turns out, in a classic case of Google Maps Treachery, the gym she had her eyes on is 850m away from her place, and not the Maps version of 250m. Speaking of GMT, it is apt to remind self of the time delightful Google Maps led BO and Y into an actual forest in the middle of Delhi (Rajokri Forest, Google it).

BO, the video exercise enthusiast (she’s been exercising to videos since 2005 and has done it ALL) has recently signed up for Deanne Berry’s new online workout platform – Deanne Berry Bodies. She is one of the thousands who did and loved the original Pump It Up DVD (and erm, also lost a good amount of weight with it). Considering Deanne Berry Bodies Online is a super new platform, there is a good amount of variety already. There are full on dance workouts, aerobics, kickboxing, strength training, stretch. The only slightly strange thing is that the glammed up costumes in the videos is not really necessary. Sure, on the Pump It Up video, the marketing was all flowing from the original Call On Me video’s success, but well, on DBB Online it’s not really needed. BO surely does not want any one walking in while she’s doing these workout, not because of her own super embarrassing moves, but because of what’s on the screen!! BUT the workouts themselves work up quite the sweat, are not super high impact but high intensity, and should be effective if stuck to. BO hopes to update with success story.

And with this, it is now legitimate to create a “Fitness and Workoutlabel and congratulate self on said achievement.

Vilamendhoo Maldives Review & Trip Report

BO (BlogOwner, for the uninitiated) saved writing this blog post for after having returned to what she fondly refers to as the “jwaalamukhi” of Delhi. Part of the reason for doing this was to mentally revisit the loveliness of the past week once again, which was spent in utter bliss surrounded by the peaceful sights and sounds of the SEA.

Why Vilamendhoo in the Maldives?

Before we get to the actual holiday, lets first pay tribute to the AGONY of deciding which resort to pick in the Maldives. You see, there are hundreds of similar looking and sounding resorts there, most with 4.5 and above ratings on Tripadvisor. And most costing a bomb. Well, with some very thorough research, going back and forth, BO and Y decided on Vilamendhoo based on these criteria: of course has to be very highly rated on TA, with wonderful clean, crystal clear water with shallow pools & lagoons, highly rated FOOD, full board package (i.e. all meals included), infinity pool, and new-ish / recently renovated property.

Many properties belonging to Crown & Champa Resorts ticked these boxes. Vilamendhoo, Meeru and Kuredu were closely considered. Vilamendhoo picked finally because it’s the smallest of the lot, was (rightly) said to have a personal, private, and relaxed vibe, and also the newest/ most recently renovated. Veligandu is also similar to Vilamendhoo, but it did not have availability on the same dates.

How to get to Vilamendhoo, Visa for Indians, Seaplane transfer!

There’s a very convenient Air India flight from Delhi to Maldives, via Trivandrum. From Male airport, you get a stamp on your passport (for free) permitting you to stay in Maldives for up to 90 days – this was the fastest and easiest immigration process ever. You then proceed to take a seaplane to reach Vilamendhoo!

Now, every resort does not have a seaplane connection. The islands close to Male will offer a speedboat connect. The seaplane experience was expensive, but also very exciting. BO was super excited before the plane actually took off. After which she proceeded to shut her eyes and only peeped at the sea below, dotted with little specks of turquoise lagoons and centres of golden sands. It was quite terrifying to be flying in a tiny little cabin that low (below major clouds, flying through misty expanses), but also that high! (!!!!). Y on the other hand (and most others in the cabin) had a splendid time looking into the ocean and enjoying the views.

Picking a room in Vilamendhoo – North Side or South Side?

Picking the right room is pretty important at Vilamendhoo. This is because each room comes with a set of sun loungers with your own bit of private beach right in front of your room! So you want to make sure you like the area you’re in.

BO and Y had booked a Jacuzzi Beach Villa which is located on the adults only side of the island (the west end) with the infinity pool. A north facing room was requested as TripAdvisor reviewers mentioned that side being more breezy.

However, room 213, a detached villa on the south west end (right next to the infinity pool) was the allocated room. BO and Y took it with a view to examine that side and the other side, and switch later if needed. Well, BO is happy to report that 213 is the best possible location you can get on the island!! It’s super close to the water (which is true of most South side rooms), the sun beds are under the perfect little canopy of leaves, and you also get healthy doze of western facing sea breeze here. Best of everything!! The north side villas are a bit too far from the water, with a large stretch of sand between them. It’s a matter of personal preference, but BO and Y preferred the shorter walk to the water, and also the lovely calm lagoon in the south western part! If you get Room 213, keep it!

5 days in utter bliss!

BO is a planner. She keeps a proper paper planner with tasks & appointments for the week well scheduled and planned out. The planner in BO made sure that she had a nifty sheet of paper with a list of “Vacation Activities” like what to read, what to draw, topics to think about (related to work) (YES) (in all fairness, many matters require much thinking and planning, and the idle excitement of a vacation is often conducive to do much strategising and planning), photography plan for stock shoots and generally, online classes to follow along and brush up on, and many other such pointers to make sure that BO was never out of productive, but relaxing things to do on vacation.

2 hours into arrival at Vilamendhoo, and with the soothing balm of the salty air on her frayed nerves, BO was so RELAXED that she found ample ways to stay idly occupied for the next 5 days without having to refer to that list.

Days were spent reading by the sea. Read 2 books (both by Lucy Maud Montgomery). Spent a lot of time in the pool, gazing at the sunset and the purples and oranges in the sky.

BO and Y took lovely walks around the island. Early morning is the best time to do this. Watched the local black tip reef sharks and the aggressive parrot fish feed on schools of fish every morning.

Listened to the waves crashing, the winds blowing.

Splashed about (a LOT) in the shallow lagoon. BO had carried along an inflatable donut ring to float in – best decision ever. Floating about is the most fun & soothing activity. Make sure to carry water shoes. There are quite a few broken bits of corals lying about. It also rained, and BO and Y did not leave behind the opportunity to get drenched in the rain like little children.

Star gazing at night. The sky comes alive at night. BO is a worshipper of starlit skies, and it was wonderful to be able to just get lost in the stars and constellations at night.


BO and Y chose the Full Board plan which included all 3 meals at Ahima Restaurant. The food was of good quality, and with enough variety so as to not get repetitive. There were enough options for vegetarians and non-vegetarians who eat only some meats (like BO). Every meal also had rice and curry options, along with many, MANY other options. Vilamendhoo will manage to please or at least pacify picky eaters.

BO came back with a halthy gain of 0.5 kg.

The All Inclusive Plus Package also included evening snacks (which are actually available all day long), and free drinks. BO & Y did cost benefit analysis and didn’t opt for this. Y ordered a few drinks separately, and BO carried munchies from home (erhm, Haldirams Khatta Meetha and Hide & Seek are the best evening snacks, ok?).

Snorkelling & the House Reef

One of the selling points of Vilamendhoo is its excellent house reef. BO is unable to personally comment on it due to (a) complete lack of interest in reefs, and (b) she did not go snorkelling.

BO and Y had planned to take the guided house reef snorkelling session arranged by the resort. When it was finally time to go, the instructor/ guide told BO that the session was not suitable for non-swimmers as they go to the edge of the reef and into the deep end; so, BO didn’t do the tour and was she super relieved!!! BO is not at all into under water things, so no harm, no foul. Y went went snorkelling and enjoyed it heaps. They saw lots of colorful fish and also a turtle. Although, he did come back with a bit of sunburn, so make sure to take a rasher vest or just wear a t-shirt while snorkelling.

Vilamendhoo also organises diving and snorkelling tours to see dolphins, whale sharks, manta rays, turtles and what not.

Free Photoshoot!!!

These two photos were taken by the lovely in house photographer at Vilamendhoo.

This was the CHERRY on the pie! BO was THRILLED to find that their booking included a free 30 minute photoshoot with one print included (you have an option of purchasing any number of photos you like from your session). This was scheduled at the east end of the island and we ended up with a couple of lovely photos. Y was not pleased about having to participate in a photoshoot, but when providence gives you an unexpected FREE photoshoot, you just have to go along with it.

Vilamendhoo also has a little gift shop with some very pricy items, and a lovely lady at the checkout counter. On ascertaining our being from India, she told us that she’d been to Nainital for her honeymoon and she felt Nainital is the prettiest place on the planet (Maldives included). How cute!

Other activities & entertainment

Vilamendhoo has lots of other activities like kayaking, windsurfing, paddle boarding, sports, cruises, diving & snorkelling excursions. They give you a sheet with a schedule and list of activities at check in. Very handy. BO and Y were mostly busy doing nothing, so they didn’t participate in too many of these. There is more than enough stuff to keep you from getting bored.

Internet & TV – Connectivity

BO & Y had picked up Dhiraagu local sims from the airport which gave them fast 4G internet access all throughout. The hotel does has wifi but it was patchy at best. The room had a flat screen TV with satellite channels – Cricket World Cup updates were not missed!!

Go to Vilamendhoo!!

BO & Y highly recommend Vilamendhoo! Private, peaceful, tranquil. Had everything that one could possibly want from a chilled out, relaxing break. You can just be by yourself and nobody will disturb you.


It’s 11th June, and the temps have hit 48 degree celcius here in Delhi. You can certainly start a teppanyaki operation on your terrace tiles.

Felt quite windy (and dust-stormy) this morning, and the sun was not visibly ablaze (i.e. said blaze was obscured by passing clouds).

BO is going down to Mother Dairy to pick up some milk. It isn’t raining while she is leaving. It isn’t even drizzling. But she did here a thunder or two in the past few minutes. As she’s making her way out the main door, she decides to turn back and pack an umbrella in her bag.

Goes down. Does milk shopping. Takes umbrella out of bag to fit in milk packets. Quickly hides umbrella before co-shoppers or Mother Dairy guy judge her for her naive optimism in carrying one this morning. Back upstairs.

By this time the sun is out and bright and shining hard.

Poor umbrella (and BO) will have to wait for another day.

Blogging about Plogging

BO has been rather pleased to learn that the idea of voluntarily picking up random trash from places has a word now. It’s called Plogging.

I came across this term while on one of my Instagram suction spirals, and read about the Ploggers of India, Ploggers of Delhi, etc. who are basically groups of runners who voluntarily pick up trash on their running paths – most of this trash being plastic waste.

I remember doing exactly this on my school compound many, many years ago when I’d newly moved to Bhubaneswar and just entered 9th Standard. I didn’t have friends until a few weeks into school, so in those early days when I didn’t have any one to “hang out with”, I’d spend some time going around the campus by myself (getting to know it), and picking up bits of plastic waste like empty wrappers and plastic bags, collecting them and depositing them in the main waste bin. I don’t know if anyone saw me doing this back then (and found it strange), but I don’t think the thought that someone else might find it weird ever stopped me. Though I must confess that once I’d made friends, I stopped doing this… my plogging wasn’t done with any major noble motive, just a little pastime at snack break.

Back then I did only think of it as random trash picking, and it felt rather therapeutic. Now there’s a nice little word (and hashtags galore!!!) for it!

More power to all the ploggers out there – specially to the ones who don’t know that there’s a special word for the good work they’re doing!

May Round Up – RBC, Summer Drinks, Promotion, Furniture, Fani, Vacation Planning & more

Again, a mixed bag post:

  1. Ramiz Baba Challenge 5 (IPL 2019) (“RBC“) concluded on 12th May, with a much anticipated Motabhai (Mumbai Indians) victory over Dhoni’s team (Chennai Super Kings). We watched it with friends, and even after having gone Mumbai 90% as my prediction for the night, I ended up rooting for CSK as I thought a CSK win might still benefit me (on account of the predictions those around me on Leaderboard, who had even higher %% than 90%). Ultimately, despite an MI win, I pretty much stayed where I was due to MATHS. I ended up earning as many points with a 90 as others did with 95 or even 100 as I’d played fewer games (taken more leaves), and that meant more movement with a smaller match score (it’s complicated, but not that much) (those who have played this will understand).
  2. RBC took up a lot of my mindspace from end of March to early May. It not only provided tons of entertainment, but I also ended up learning a thing or two about T20 cricket, the various IPL teams, local players, international players, etc. I can’t say I would’ve learnt any of this had it not been for my involvement in RBC (and TRUST ME, RBC sucks you in). It was actually really nice to have something specific planned for every single evening (i.e. watching and obsessing over the match). It filled up a lot of time that I didn’t realise earlier needed filling. Being a part of RBC also made me feel like a part of a friendly & engaged community. It was SUCH a fun experience and I was REALLY sad when it ended. Luckily, we have the ICC Cricket World Cup coming up end of this month so here’s to RBC Season 6!!
  3. Almost forgot to mention, but I ended up Rank 9 out of 67 total players (not all played actively) (but that’s not to say that they did not play WELL; in fact many players who did not play actively at all but only played their defaults ended up well above many who did in fact play very enthusiastically and made active choices for each match). I was overall happy with finishing 9th (as a first time who did not know anything much about cricket or IPL or current players), but it’s of course a lie to say that I didn’t care about the rank 😛
  4. I was perhaps most happy about finishing above the husband (“Y“) (who finished at 10). Hoping this will shut him up about sports&maths and my lack of knowledge about the same for a bit (hasn’t happened so far, the shutting up ie :D)
  5. Yes, much of the last few weeks was all about the RBC, and seriously, even 5 long posts about it will not cover the happy influence it has had on me.
  6. Summer is well and truly here, and I have discovered my favourite summer drinks to be: home made aam panna, jal jeera (Catch jaljeera powder works just fine), fresh chaas from home made dahi, mango milk share made with just alphonso mangoes and milk (sheer bliss).
  7. Y has received a much anticipated promotion at work, which has led to many celebratory outings and meals!
  8. We have FINALLY replaced our sink-y sofas with new, firm sofas! One is a lovely L shaped sofa which is basically a three seater and a chaise lounge (my new spot) put together. The other is a chesterfield-esque arm chair from Gulmohar Lane, which honestly was such a HUGE disappointment. They basically sent a defective piece, and then made it impossible for me to return it (I might write in detail about this later, as I was really excited about this piece, but sadly, it was a major disappointment). Suffice to say I will never be ordering from Gulmohar Lane again, and I don’t recommend it as they do not understand their customer’s basic needs at all. It’s a pity really, because they do have some lovely designs.
  9. A huge cyclone hit my home state and particularly my hometown of Bhubaneswar early in May – Cyclone Fani. It was much worse than anticipated by the people, but was properly accounted for by the government. I couldn’t get in touch with my family for about 2 whole days after the cyclone made landfall because of the extensive damage done to the electricity & telecom infrastructure. It was rather nerve wrecking. I did manage to piece together vital information from my friend T who kept me posted as soon as she got network, Instagram posts from people there (some who had small moments of access managed to post online), and other people I know from there who happened to have a bit of network now and then.  It’s been about two weeks now, and they have regular electricity back (came back only after about 8-10 days!!!) (but they managed in the interim as their apartment complex had a diesel generator which operated every other hour or so), but network is still patchy and unreliable at best. We have still not been able to video chat, although regular phone calls are working alright and whatsapp is also working fine.
  10. Y and I have FINALLY booked our summer vacation (a short 5 day trip to the Maldives in June). Yeayyyyy!!! A week is all that Y could manage in leave at this point, and I’m not grumpy about it at all. This is a pretty last minute trip, and planning any thing longer than 5-6 days this close is NOT my scene (I love planning every little detail months in advance, yes). After an all-consuming three days of endless research, obsessive review reading, photo to photo comparison across TripAdvisor Instagram Facebook (user generated content is the most authentic!), we have finally decided on Vilamendhoo Island Resort & Spa. I will keep you posted on how it fares.
  11. I also realised I BADLY need out of town breaks (preferably nature breaks) every couple of months or at least once in three months. It’s a must to refill the tank, and refuel creative energies. When one is constant creating all kinds of work, and content-y things (for work), it can be quite draining, and a break is quite necessary to sustain momentum. By the time we go for this Maldives vacation, it will have been 7 full months since my last break).
  12. May 2019 was also the month of the last few Game of Thrones episodes. Like most other people who have read, watched and loved the series, I too was disappointed by the gaping holes in the writing this season. I could finally like the second half of the last episode (after hating on an entire season), because I could accept those endings as things GRRM must have come up with and communicated with the writers. BUT the writers used those ends, but did not link from where the source material left off with the endings in a proper way AT ALL. The only good thing about this terrible writing is that I did not really feel sad about GOT ending. I was quite indifferent today when I watched the last last episode!
  13. I have ordered a new Katie Daisy Planner for 2019-2020 from It was supposed to have shipped on May 15th, but it hasn’t still shipped and now I’m in a conundrum about whether to cancel it, and order on (and pay higher shipping), or just wait for BD to get its act together.
  14. I also ordered some lovely stationery from a chinese shop on Etsy, but that also hasn’t yet arrived (some not so great luck with international stationery shipping of late).
  15. But, on the bright side, I have snagged a few second hand books from Amazon which arrived in great condition: Emma Block’s book on watercolors looks lovely on my shelves (and it does not feel like a second hand copy at all in that it is in perfect/ unused condition),  Edith Holden’s The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady (which is just such a delight, please look it up), Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Chronicles of Avonlea. I’m still deciding which book(s) to carry with me for the holiday, and I’m really drawn towards LMM because of all the endless nature scenes in her work which I find most refreshing. Also, I’m making a conscious choice of turning into a hoarder rather than ordering kindle books (where possible), because I find it most cumbersome to “flip through” a kindle book while re-reading. I might donate some of my not-favourites later for space reasons, but until then I will keep adding. I also love the tactile feel of holding a real paperback (can’t say I love the feeling of holding a big, heavy hardback), and writing my name on the first page (I ALWAYS write my name, and the month I read/ started reading it in), dog-earing the pages as my own bookmark, marking and underlining non-fiction and other such simple pleasures which only a paperback affords.
  16. Potential new neighbours might take a long time to move in, because they are getting extensive renovation work done (pretty much gutted the whole house). Let’s see.

Random Questions & Observations

  1. Since when are orange lick lollies for Rs. 10 instead of Rs.5?
  2. Should I go back to the old school technique of freezing Fanta in kulfi moulds?
  3. Has any one tried making Jal Jeera ice lollies in the aforementioned method?
  4. Blood sample collection via needle prick hurts way less than threading.
  5. Muscle injections hurt a bit more than threading.
  6. I do not look my age according to most people I’ve met recently.
  7. Number 6 is a good thing.
  8. Things that didn’t seem so good when one is a teenager suddenly feel very good when one is no longer one (basically once one crosses the mid-twenties zone).
  9. Ageing is a privilege.
  10. The “power chill” setting on Daikin split ACs is a farce. Do not use it. It does not live up to its name, and has quite the opposite effect. Stick to the regular cooling mode.
  11. We are capable of keeping a dining table cloth tidy (as proved by 4+ weeks of spill free table cloth).
  12. IPL and Ramiz Baba Challenge (I’ll explain later) have brought much joy & entertainment to my life.
  13. Indian e-commerce people should attempt to pack with less (WAY LESS) carton and bubble wrap.
  14. Blacky Junior is nowhere in sight these days (wonder which block s/he is guarding these days).
  15. Friends is the best show ever.
  16. Rewatching Friends never gets tiresome (currently on the 3rd or 4th rewatch).
  17. Game of Thrones final season is on!
  18. We might (MIGHT) have new neighbours soon!!!

Highland Fling by Nancy Mitford – Review type thing

Highland Fling by Nancy Mitford - Review 2

BlogOwner (“BO“) is making her way through Nancy Mitford’s 8 novels, first of which is Highland Fling, which BO has just finished reading.

Published in 1931, Highland Fling is her (Nancy Mitford’s) debut novel, and unfortunately it does somewhat feel that way – a first “attempt” of sorts. Normally she (BO) abandons a book if it doesn’t engage her within the first 100 pages (her 100 Page Rule) (because, sorry, but decisions on sunk cost are not being made here). However, this book turned out to be educational in some ways, so she carried along.

Highland Fling by Nancy Mitford - Review 1Highland Fling by Nancy Mitford - Review 3

BO had been reading up about the Mitford sisters for a while, and wanted to dig into some of Nancy Mitford’s beloved works like The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate. However, it was quite hard to find well priced paperbacks in the Indian market. Nancy is not one of those ubiquitous English authors here, so well, one had to look. Finally, she stumbled into an omnibus publication!!! All 8 Nancy Mitford novels, published in one paperback volume, for under Rs. 1000? Yes, please.

As expected, of course, the volume is quite unwieldy, and does not make for a good travel companion (which is a shame, because these books are perfect for entertaining, holiday reading). Also, the type is pretty small, with very tight line spacing. One can safely assume 1 page of the omnibus would translate into 1.8 – 2 pages of a modern paperback. However, all of this was expected from a volume which comes with eight, EIGHT novels in one value-for-money volume.

Having laid her paws on this little (only metaphorically) volume, BO decided to read them in order of publication.

First up, was Highland Fling. Most of the humour felt a little forced, and too cutting – you will understand when you read it. The story doesn’t quite go anywhere (which is usually not a problem for BO when the narrative is strong). You keep waiting for something to happen, but nothing much really does.

The characters are strong and well developed, and it gives a little glimpse into the world of the aristocratic society of pre-Second-World-War Britain. There are interesting observations to be made, and BO found it rather educational (as she is not a British lady from that era, or any era). Fans of Downton Abbey will appreciate it, although of course, that was set in the Edwardian era, it is interesting to note the difference in sentiments between generations.

There were some “darker” themes explored with regard to war, particularly the views of the two generations in the book towards it. BO has been reading some other books set in that time frame (Rilla of Ingleside by Lucy Maud Montgomery – which had to do with the First World War), so it was particularly engaging for her. It’s also quite fascinating in context of the events of the past couple of months here in India – where much discussion about war has taken place.

Coming back to Highland Fling, BO wouldn’t really recommend it to others, EXCEPT if they exhibit a particular interest in that period in Britain, or they are a completist.

Here’s hoping Christmas Pudding (the next in line) is better 🙂

p.s.: The cover of this omnibus is lovely.

Love, Nina: Despatches from Family Life by Nina Stibbe – Review type thing

Love Nina by Nina Stibbe Book Review Despatches from Family Life

Happy to report that Blogowner (“BO“) finished this little gem a couple of weeks back – Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe – and can’t wait to get into more of Nina’s writing. It’s a collection of letters that Nina wrote to her sister back in the 1980s when she was nannying for Mary Kay Wilmers of London Review of Books fame.

It’s interesting to note how she came about to publish these letters. Turns out she read out one of these at a party to honour Mary Kay, and MK being the literary type, there were many publisher types present. One of them reached out to Nina about the possibility of publishing the letters, to which MK said no the first time around. After a couple of years, she (Nina) was asked again, and this time MK agreed. So. Thank you MK!!

BO loves reading things about the mundane things in people’s lives, nuances in relationships, things that one often only reports to confidantes they speak to on a daily basis – particularly (read: only) when they are narrated with a sense of humour. Nina’s letters to her sister are very much of this nature. Nothing much really happens, except all the little things that pepper their daily lives with much humour every now and then.

The main topics that Nina talks about are – the family that she lives with, relationships with her neighbours and things they do together, some cooking adventures, her reading, lots of observations on people who visit the family, and so on. Basically daily life type things. Note that many of her neighbours are famous British literary & film types (such as Alan Bennett). Nothing earth shattering. Nothing shocking. Just pure entertainment.

BO is quite inspired by Nina’s healthy social life with her neighbours, seeing that BO has been making attempts to get to know her own neighbours (in a totally non-creepy way).

While midway through this book, BO went ahead and ordered Nina’s first work of fiction (Man at The Helm), although it’s supposed to be quite autobiographical. She also discovered several other authors while spiralling in this British-funny-writing rabbit hole. Turns out, she really loves the British, except the colonisation bit.

Love, Nina is supposed to be all non-fiction, with very little tweaking, but these letters have so many hilarious bits that BO was quite envious of Nina leading such a life full of funny episodes.

In one of her letters she says:

“There’s always a lot of autobiography in fiction and fiction in autobiography. It has to be that way otherwise they’d be unreadable (except by the author).” (page 238)

BO quite agrees with this assessment. Also something that should be taken note of while reading this Blog (autobiographical).

This book is a little treasure trove of funny anecdotes, and stories – with lots of interesting (very real) characters. She (BO) didn’t want these letters to stop.

Does Nina Stibbe write a blog?

p.s..: Please leave behind recommendations for books written by authors with a sense of humour. Much obliged.

p.p.s.: Apparently there is a BBC Miniseries based on Love, Nina. (note to self: Get hold of it.)


Unsolicited Protection by The Friendly Neighbourhood Dog

Friends, BO has a little protector. One whom she did not ask to be so.

Their friendly neighbourhood dog, Blacky Junior (son/ daughter of Blacky, who has been in the neighbourhood for years) is a young doggo, and has lots of energy.

S/he (Blacky Junior) has been found galloping around, wagging her/his tail (presumably wanting the humans around to play with her/him). This behaviour, quite honestly, scares BO a bunch as she is not what you would call a “dog person”. Quite the opposite. No, not cat person either. BO is generally not an animal person. Sure, she obsessively watches cute cat videos, and loves looking at pictures of little puppies (especially labs and golden retrievers), but that’s about it. Pets? Not interested.

Blacky (senior) used to grace the stairs of BO’s building for quite a while. S/he is quite active and agile, and would politely move over when any human needed to pass by (narrow stairwell). BO is quite comfortable around Blacky, and is confident that s/he would move whenever required.

Blacky Junior, not so polite. Would rather play with the humans who, quite frankly are just minding their own business (eg. BO). Blacky Junior has also now turned into a kind of a body guard and rests right outside BO’s house. Now, Blacky Junior is actually quite young and playful (BO sort of knows this (unconfirmed) because she has seen Blacky Junior play with others, and also hasn’t seen Blacky Junior for too long (hence young)), but to people who don’t live here, Blacky Junior appears to be a nice, big, well built doggo.

Today (like every other day), BO had a delivery from Amazon. Amazon Guy rings up BO.

AG: Ma’am, you have a delivery.

BO: Yes. Sure.

AG: It’s on the top floor right?

BO: Yes.

AG: I’m at the gate. Please come pick.

BO: Please come to the top floor.

AG: I am almost on your landing, but there is a doggie. Could you please come collect?

Thereafter commenced a game which reminded BO of Dog and the Bone from school. BO standing at her gate, Blacky Junior right next to her main gate (outside), AG at the bottom of the stairs. AG wants BO to go to him and pick up the parcel. BO wants AG to come over. Blacky Junior in the middle. Both humans afraid of Blacky Junior’s potential moves. Although, it should be clarified that at this stage Blacky Junior appeared to be taking her/his mid morning nap after a nice little meal (sleepy and cosy).

Ultimately, AG and BO came to an impasse. BO suggested meeting at middle ground (which literally was the edge of the landing). AG carefully placed the package at the edge of the landing and gave it a nice push on the floor. It slid across, BO lept, quickly picked it up and went back inside. Blacky Junior had not moved.


I have (sort of) left Facebook – Bye Bye Newsfeed!

I first started using Facebook back in 2006 or 2007. It was the “cooler version” of Orkut (remember this?! and also the way we used to bug each other to write “testimonials” *shudders*). I remember convincing my friends to join Facebook, being an early adopter and what not.

Back then there was no Newsfeed. There was no like button.

Remember back when we used to write on each other’s wall and wait for the other person to write back on ours? (sidenotewhy didn’t we just continue emailing? perhaps the public angle of it was thrilling in some way (eww)). There was still some element of connection present.

Soon enough, it turned mostly into a place where one had to dodge being tagged in dodgy photos, and the era of the restricted profile. Also, at around this point, the Like button made its debut.

Initially, we “liked” only the stuff that we truly liked. Quite quickly, there became a bit of a social expectation to like & comment on your friends’ posts. As a matter of duty. And I’m not even complaining about this. It’s quite nice to see that your friends are seeing your posts and are talking to you online. All rosy.

Soon enough there were enough non-personal items making it to Facebook – like news items, political views, and comments on said items. You couldn’t log in to Facebook and not see some kind of comment war happening on your Newsfeed. Very impersonal. Though, I’m not denouncing it. I have been part of many such comment feuds, and I don’t grudge people who like to engage – sure, it could be entertaining for some.

However, soon enough my personal Newsfeed was basically a mish mash of articles from news portals, comment wars between some “friends” and other people, and life gloats. And that was it. Seriously.

The only personal posts that I ever saw / see are those of either major milestone moments or random brags by people that I haven’t spoken to in years, YEARS (like 5+ years), attention seeking status messages, political appeals.

Now, let me be clear. I have done all of these things on Facebook.

One thing that I feel I sincerely got back from my Facebook postings were that people in my network were generally clued into my work (especially when I shared a ton of photography and was working as a photographer), and my travel posts also led to some fun heart to heart conversations with people who were planning trips to places I had already been to and wanted some advice or inputs.

Apart from that, scrolling through my Newsfeed really felt like a massive drain of energy, but one that is highly addictive for no logical reason. It’s not like I particularly engaged with people’s content. At best, I would leave behind a polite like/love or a small comment. That’s about it. The engagement seemed very, VERY superficial.

I even went back to my older Facebook posts, and re-read them. They were more like full fledged conversations. Not polite little comments. I suppose once Whatsapp and other forms of instant messaging came up, people stopped posting such things on each other’s walls and instead just IM – that is obviously a very natural and sensible thing to do.

But that leaves the question – what is Facebook useful for me in my life today?

I certainly feel like laughing when I see that I have 534984293 friends on Facebook. The illusion of a false sense of friendship has certainly been broken. However, it’s of course not untrue that your Facebook “friends” are indicative of a good network.

Today I mainly use Facebook to keep up with a coupe of Groups that I’m a part of. I do Physique57 online, and we have a lovely supportive group of fellow Physiquers from all over the world. I login every once in a while to check out what’s happening out there. I also use it to keep tabs on local events. It seems here in India people would much rather post events on Facebook than on other sites like Eventbrite, Meetup etc. So that is another useful feature. Since Facebook is no longer a part of my work social media marketing, I luckily don’t have to manage any Page there (quite a relief).

I felt that leaving Facebook completely is not a sane choice for me right now. BUT, scrolling through the Newsfeed is also not sane. Especially when the Newsfeed really doesn’t have much personal content any more (and that’s what I loved about Facebook in the early days).

Hence, I installed a nifty little plugin as a Chrome Extension, which basically switches off my Newsfeed. So I can peacefully login, check my groups, check specific profiles if I’m interested, and LOG OUT. Logging out is so important, considering Facebook tracks all your web activity if you do them while still logged in.

Do I wish people birthday on Facebook? Nope. Nah.

Something really hilarious, but sad happened a few years back. My mum was on the verge of robotically wishing someone happy birthday on being urged by Facebook (like we ALL do / have done), but right before she hit post, she noticed that some other person who had, with every good intention, wished a happy birthday, had been informed that the birthday person is dead. Oops. Talk about a faux pax.

Since then I resolved to not robotically wish anybody. I’ve gone rather old school – jotting down birthdays in my planner and wishing people by calling them up or at least texting them. And of course, it’s limited only to the closest of close people who also remember to wish me on my birthday (duh).

Needless to mention (but I will still mention) I have deleted my own birthday on Facebook, so I no longer receive robotic (or ANY!!!) wishes on Facebook – it was quite the reality check, and I got to see who really bothered to remember my birthday (spoiler alert: just family and friends I talk to very often, which is not that many). It’s October 11th, just saying 🙂

Any way, ever since I’ve done this Newsfeed eradication, my Facebook life has been much more simple. Sure, I do login once in a while with the plugin switched off, and chuckle at some witty memes, but thats really it.

I don’t miss the Newsfeed at all. And I quite enjoy a little weekly or fortnightly stroll of the Newsfeed without getting sucked into it. I highly recommend it.