How a fairy called Marie Kondo left me some KonMari pixie dust and it changed my life

Earlier this year, a few weeks before my birthday, I was at my friend Jo’s house in Dehradun, en route to Mussoorie for a holiday with my son. The home was lovely, and bookshelves in every corner beckoned. Until a tiny unassuming book called out to me and I was lost for the rest of the day. It was Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art Of Decluttering And Organizing.

I had, at the time, not heard of the book, let alone the fact that it had sold over two million copies in its English edition (the original was in Japanese) and that the author was so big that KonMari (derived from the author’s name Marie Kondo) was now a verb. For someone who started as a tidying consultant, that is huge. I must add here that there is a minimum six-month waiting list for her services in Japan. Of course, her popularity in the US has also led to a backlash. So while The New York Times did an article on celebrating clutter, others poked holes in her methods. It might be disconcerting to some that in a country like the US, where minimalism is not a matter of pride, KonMari has had a pandemic effect over the last year or so.

In this book, she describes her step-by-step tidying method (now trademarked as KonMari): a simple but time-consuming process of going through every single thing we possess and keeping those that spark joy.

She had me at joy.

It’s such a simple filter really. Something we can apply to a lot of things, beyond clothes and books. We know it when we feel it; it’s strong and palpable, devoid of rationality, almost like a thrill. Plus it can be a great lens through which to view other life choices too.

I was riveted.

As I flipped through the 200-odd pages of Kondo’s book, I found myself nodding and sighing, being shocked and relieved in equal measure by some of the revelations. And yet it was all so commonsensical. She draws attention to the common mistakes we make while tidying (or decluttering, as we call it). Sort by category, not by room, she urges. Bring everything that belongs in one particular category, say, books, to one place (her preference is the floor) and do not put them back until you have gone through each and every item in that category and chosen what to keep.

The criterion for keeping something was simple: Does it spark joy?

I could already visualize all my books lurking in different places—the kitchen, the living room, the hallway, the bedrooms, the bathrooms, even the drying area. Clearly, there was a lot of work to do. I was soon making notes, promising myself that I would be practising what I read as soon as I got back to Mumbai in a week. Yes, I had been KonMari-ed, hook, line and sinker.

Like most people, I struggle with clutter in my life. Although I don’t buy clothes or books often and retail therapy doesn’t do for me what it did in my 20s, I find myself overwhelmed by stuff every two years or earlier. I rationalize that it is the frequent moving (I, like most city people of no permanent address, have moved more than I would have liked to—about 14 times in the last 24 years, since I left my parents’ home). I have done more than my fair share of donating clothes, books, electronics, furniture and utensils to NGOs and orphanages. I have had garage sales and barter meets in my home. I have gone off shopping completely for long periods (two years being the last stretch). Whenever I decluttered, which was often, I followed some blanket rules: Throw away anything you haven’t used in two years (or one year, or six months, depending on how irritated you are). At times I found smart storage solutions. For a year, I also spent 10 minutes every day getting rid of things you don’t need in the house. But within a few days, there would be a clutter relapse and I would feel the same as before.

It appeared like I had no control over the way stuff was multiplying in my home.

Yes, I was tidying up (to use Kondo’s quaint word for decluttering). Except, I was approaching it the wrong way. I was focusing more on the negative (“I really have to get rid of these things”) than the positive aspect (“This is what gives me joy”) of tidying up.

And that is why Marie Kondo’s book has created a tidying revolution of sorts: Choosing what you want to keep is far harder than deciding what you want to give away. It brings to the fore the anxiety of human decision making at its worst. It’s tedious and time-consuming and requires commitment. But once done, it’s a great feeling.

In a country like India, bred on Gandhian philosophies of minimalism, where Feng Shui is a recent religion of sorts, it is shocking how much stuff we accumulate. Some of it is inherited from our parents, some is a byproduct of marriage—that big merger of stuff (also, having children reinvents clutter in ways you never imagined). Some of it is nonsensical gifting by people we otherwise love, but most of it is things we buy and hoard mindlessly. Indians also have this knack of building storage systems—overhead swivel cupboards, beds with box storage, enclosed attics, kitchen units that extend up to the ceiling, dining tables that fold into storage units—if we have too much stuff, we find ways to put it out of sight. What you don’t see cannot harm you, is the philosophy most of us live by.

For the past year or so, I have been feeling ambushed by my own clutter. It was also the time when I was going through major life changes—my separation, moving houses (again), and having my mother move in with me. The upside was: I finally had all my stuff in one place. Trouble was, I still couldn’t find things, because I didn’t remember where I had put them. And I felt I had too much.

I returned home a few days before my birthday, ready to begin the rest of my life with Marie Kondo. I followed her instructions meticulously. She recommends clothes first, then books, then papers, komono(miscellaneous), sentimental items, mementos, and lastly—photos.

Clothes and books were far smoother than I had imagined. I found myself caressing each item of clothing, asking if it sparked joy (some were a straight yes or no, a few were ambiguous but not as hard as I had imagined). The yes was always definite. The no was sometimes overridden by guilt (“I paid so much for it, I should have worn it more”). But letting go was easier than I thought.

According to Kondo’s philosophy, there should be a designated place for everything that belongs in your home. Folding is a very important aspect of the KonMari method and I realized why my closet was so noisy earlier. I just wasn’t folding right. The book doesn’t have photos or illustrations, but there are several videos on folding ties, socks, underwear, shirts, T-shirts the KonMari way on YouTube (yes!). I folded all my clothes into neat little rectangle envelopes (it was somewhat challenging for typically Indian items like salwarssarisanarkalis, etc, but I worked around those). I trained my son to fold his and he said it felt like origami. It is, actually.

KonMari way of folding The idea is not to stack up but to arrange clothes vertically so you can see the edges of all your clothes (it took me some time to understand this). In the Indian scenario of cupboards/shelves versus drawers, this can be challenging, but it is still worth a shot.

A KonMari drawerNext was books. I can finally see the coloured back panels of my bookshelves and a month later, I still don’t regret giving away any book—a thing that would happen quite often earlier, causing me to go out and buy another copy of the book I was missing.

For me, papers were the most intimidating part, as one is always holding on to them for a “what if” scenario. Since there is no way they can ‘spark joy’ to most of us, KonMari recommends brutal discarding: How many bank statements, passport photocopies, bills, credit card statements, warranty cards, user manuals and car papers can you hold on to? I pared it down to a single box of papers, stacked vertically in simple files.

After two very productive weeks of sorting, discarding, folding and organizing, I was stuck. It was komono.

Komono, which Kondo defines simply as miscellaneous, is actually the biggest roadblock in the KonMari method. It is stuff that doesn’t belong anywhere and yet is all over the place. It is the rest of your crap and it is a lot of crap that includes, but is not limited to: CDs, DVDs, make-up/toiletries/cosmetics, accessories, valuables (what was she thinking?), passports (this terrified me!), electric equipment and appliances, mysterious cords, wires, household equipment (stationery, writing material), household supplies (detergents, medicines, tissues, etc), kitchen goods (spatulas, pots, blenders, etc). But I guess everyone’s komono is different. As Indians, we have way more komono than the Japanese, I am sure.

komono

I figured food was low priority for Marie Kondo, because in India there is no way kitchen could be komono. I also kept thinking, “She definitely doesn’t have kids.” Because she doesn’t factor in school things, toys, board games, portfolios, masks, art and craft supplies. Apparently she does have a child now, and I can’t wait to read her post-child KonMari.

I guess all the gaps in Kondo’s book can be books in themselves: KonMari of marriage, KonMari of children, KonMari at work, Digital KonMari, KonMari of relationships, friendships and more. It’s the kind of thing that can be extrapolated and applied to every aspect of your life, each time yielding the same results: Once you are clear about the noise of things that clutter your life and home, you can focus on enjoying the things that really matter. I don’t know what first-date conversations are like now, but it would be worthwhile to try and suss out a potential partner’s KonMari quotient.

If you want to start the KonMari method of tidying up, here are a few tips:

  1. Sort by category (for example, clothes, books, papers, etc.) and not by location (living room, bedroom, bathroom, etc.). 
  2. Tidy up in one go and do it alone, preferably.
  3. Gather all the items in a category on the floor, so you can see every single thing. Pick up each item and decide if it gives you joy. If it doesn’t, let it go.
  4. The focus is not what you must get rid of, but whether the things you want to hold on to make you happy. 
  5. Follow the right order: clothes, books, papers, “komono” (miscellaneous), sentimental items, mementos, photos.
  6. Have a designated spot for everything in your home (for example, bag, shoes, wallet, phone, etc.) and return it to that spot every day. 
  7. Store everything vertically, even clothes (you can, if you fold them right)
  8. Visualise your destination: How do you want your room, your closet, your bookshelf to look? Then work towards it. 
  9. After discarding, designate a place for every item and stick to that place, to avoid a clutter relapse.
  10. Empty your handbag every day. It’s where clutter starts.

I don’t know if the book has changed my life; I still have to tide over my komono, and my mother is still holding on to hers. But I am able to get more done in a day and I look forward to the next. I also feel I have KonMari-ed my life, in a manner of speaking—holding on to work, memories, people and things that truly spark joy. This little book about tidying ended up being about much more than tidying. There is a certain calmness in my cupboard and drawers and bookshelves, and perhaps some of it has passed on to me.

(This post first appeared in Mint Lounge on 3rd September, 2016.  http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/2Ox6Si3QDJnpF11nM8H0JL/Why-KonMari-is-the-new-detox.html )

Of kulith soup and kissing the clouds: a weekend at Saj by the lake

Re and I love being on the road and it doesn’t take much to galvanise us to get going. Just the magic words, “Want to go?” are enough to get us packing our bags and walking shoes. If there is rain and waterbodies involved, even better. If there is good food, nothing like it.

So when a few weeks back, we were invited to spend a weekend at the new Saj by the lake, a new boutique resort at Malshej ghat (which, incidentally was a an integral part of my childhood monsoon getaways with Appa, who couldn’t resist soaking under every waterfall enroute, much to our annoyance). Re and I preferred to soak in the gorgeous views along the NH 222 instead, pretending the mountains and the clouds were characters in a sky play.

Anyway, three hours later, we found ourselves here:

Saj by the lake

Saj by the lakeWe were told, wait, there is a whole lake behind, and we couldn’t wait to meet it

The Pimpalgaon Jodha dam created lake on the Pushpavati river

The Pimpalgaon Joga dam created lake on the Pushpavati river

There were many other things that caught our fancy. Like this entrance to our room:

Suite at Saj by the lake

And these lantern clouds at the Maati Bani restaurant, where we ate many soulful meals

Saj by the lake And this brick backdrop which called for a photo

Saj by the lake

And these funky cows

pop artAnd this lovely thencha which was more my thing

And this Kandyavarche Andey (eggs on onions) which we had for breakfast

And lots of other food which we loved so much that I forgot to take pictures of: like nachni and kulith soup, thalipeeth, mushroom masala, dudhi in green gravy, pit cooked biryani, nachni kheer, methi and paneer tikki, a lovely bengali style cold bharta with mashed potatoes .. and all this with rice, jowar and nachni bhakris.

We were told they have camping facilities so we can’t wait to come back to do some star-gazing. That night, of course, the clouds decided to hide all the stars, but we both got some down time, doing our own thing, blending in.

And many together things, long walks and lots of bird watching , cloud watching, waterfall watching and green watching. And plotting to come again, this time to star gaze.

 

Who said parenting means entertaining your children?

I have often heard this (even among very aware parents): I don’t know how to entertain my child. Or heard them whining when the more active partner is away that they they don’t know how to keep them busy.

I don’t get this.

Why is entertaining your child even a thing?

I got into this trap for a brief while when Re was still in his crib and had a limited geography within which to entertain himself (although my cats helped hugely).

It was boring as shit: Singing. Making faces. Speaking in funny voices. Peekaboo. The hand puppet thing. Yes, Re loved it. But then I realized I am not his playmate. Why should I pretend to be? As soon as he started crawling and then walking, he was on his own. And he found plenty to amuse himself with, mostly in the kitchen. I still have a video of him trying to sort a bunch of cherry tomatoes and talking to himself. And one of him trying to roll a chapati with a rolling pin and board and proceeding to wear the chapati as a mask.

Every time the other parental unit came home laden with games/toys, I arched my eyebrow. It was excessive and unnecessary. Collaborative games which assume the parent who’s around more often is stuck with playing them with the kid get me worried.

On the few travel dates that I had with fellow parents, I always noticed that they come armed with suitcases full of toys, gadgets, books, games. I found myself saying: but it’s just two nights. Why do you need so much? And they replied: Oh, if we keep them entertained, we can get more time for ourselves.

It never made sense.

Traveling alone with Re was much more satisfying. It still is.

Why is constantly being entertained a way of living? Why is it a norm? It is as though one is teaching children that this is how life is – a series of fun-filled, action packed time capsules on loop, where there is no time for recovery, stillness or nothingness.

If you are doing this, you are in a dangerous place. It’s a slippery slope from there.

Yes, we all want our children to have a happy childhood with a variety of experiences. We just have to stop curating it for them. I have seen friends plan reading lists for their kids, populate their schedules with every activity that looks good on paper and that they can tick off an imaginary list. It’s like every hour of their waking life has to be accounted for.

I feel like telling them: It’s your life, it’s not a pinterest board.

Yes it’s important to engage in fun with them occasionally, listen to them, keep conversations going, but by not allowing their imagination and creativity to come up with something on their own, you are actually hampering play.

We have to provide for our kids, nurture them, look after their basic needs – clothing, food shelter. I signed up for these when I became a parent, not for being his entertainer. And if I do play with my kid, it will be when I am having fun doing that. Not because of some boringass article that said, “Imaginative play with your child helps nurture their soul”. And who started this anyway? I am sure they didn’t think it through. It’s not sustainable for sure. Besides life is all about a lot of mundane things on loop and our kids need to know that and be a part of that too.

For a year now, Re has been assigned the task of arranging the utensils daily after they have dried in their rack, folding and arranging his own clothes in his shelves, feeding the cats in the evening and refilling their water bowls, making his bed, and helping us put the house in order before going to bed every night.

When I was 10, my mother handed me the keys to our house. Until then, we went to school together and returned together (I studied in the school she taught in). I now had a three hour lag from the time she left. In these three hours, I had to help Appa finish the cooking, pack his lunch dabba, pack snack dabbas for me and my twin siblings, wake them up, get them ready (this involved detangling and tying my sister’s unruly hair into two tight plaits, which took the longest time), send them to school (which was an hour earlier to mine), help Appa staple his shirt sometimes, when a button was off and he had to rush for work, and finally, get ready (which involved tying own long, unruly hair into two tight plaits) and go to school myself.

We were poor, we never had help, we all had chores to do, but we never needed to be entertained.  We also didn’t have money to afford toys. Books and play were all we had. We came home from school, ate a snack, did our homework and went out to play (I usually did my homework in school so I had more time to play). Sometimes we played physical games that involved running, jumping, getting dirty in the mud. Sometimes we played “school” and “office” and “restaurant” and “home”. Our parents never asked us what we played. They never played with us. Except Appa teaching us bridge. And Amma who taught us some fun board games from when she was a child, like pallankuzhi.

I was the queen of imaginative play and Enid Blyton with her scones and ginger ale and meringue descriptions hugely helped my childhood. I always imagined myself as an only child who had a secret room in which she hosted midnight feasts. Each time one of us announced we were bored, another chore was handed to us. I learnt to cook at age 10 because I was bored on Thursdays (our convent school day off) and since I was already souz chef to Appa, I started trying things on my own, and one day, I put a meal together and surprised Amma. Vacations were full of jam, pickle, karuvadam and sun-dried fruit projects. And then we traveled.

When I remember my childhood, I remember the cooking, I remember the baking and knitting and crosstitch and embroidery that I did as my mother’s apprentice. I remember making papercuttings of things my mom learned in her sewing class and making them to scale for my only doll, Neetu (who was named after Neetu Singh)

Most afternoons, Re is engaged in active theatre with his dolls: giving them makeovers, tattoos, braiding them, making houses for them with blocks or Lego, sometimes turning them into mermaids, having car rallies with mermaids driving cars, cooking, baking in his play kitchen, making paper clothes for them (now that he can use scissors, he often asks me for fabric swatches), and more such. Or he is sketching or painting. Hours pass by.

I may not be the ‘engaged parent’ but I know when my kid is having fun.

I often get this from people when I visit them with Re or when they come over: He is really good at entertaining himself. My response to that is: well, shouldn’t we all be?

Once in a while if Re does come up to me and say he is bored, I tell him: be bored. It’s good. Boredom is fertile.

What is fertile?

It’s a place where new things can grow.

You mean things can grow in my head? he asks.

Yes, they can. Of course they can.

The Boy Who Swallowed A Nail & Other Stories by Lalita Iyer.

So my book made it all the way to Chicago and this happened!

giddymum

My shelfie this week.

I love reading Lalita’s blogs (www.mommygolightly.com) so, was very eager to read her new book. Because I knew, just like her posts every story in this book would make me smile too.
And it surely did.

In ‘Everyone Goes To Nainital’ I loved Amma who is wondering where to hang a clothesline in a hotel room.

In ‘Appa And His Weird Friends’ there’s John, the carpenter who stitches up the sofa but leaves a noisy mouse inside.

This charming collection of the adventures of Lalita’s family takes you into a quirky little world where you forget playing an adult for sometime and enjoy some innocent storytelling.

I also read a few stories to little I and she couldn’t stop giggling when I told her about Appa who once wanted to bring home a buffalo. And her biggest concern was, ‘how will the buffalo enter through the…

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Talking to kids: Why do adults suck at conversation starters?

It happens almost every single day. You meet someone you know and your child is with you. They make small talk while the child has slipped his hand in yours and is gently pulling you away. Suddenly they realize they have to ask the child something. And they unleash:

So what’s your name?

No name? You are shy? 

Why are you shy? Don’t want to talk to me?

They should have got the hint by now, but they don’t:

So are you being a good boy?

And this:

I know all about you. 

I have never understood this.

Of all the stupid questions adults ask, their conversation starters with kids are truly idiotic. Honestly would you walk up to someone in a bar and say “So what’s your name?” Then why would you do it to a kid?. Ditto for how old are you? Do you really care? Are you trying to test their Math? And what use is this information anyway?

Imagine if someone asked you, while you were drinking a cup of coffee. Ah, you are drinking coffee I see. You like coffee?

Same thing. Why would you ask a child eating an icecream: Ah, you are eating icecream?

Kids do not like small talk. They prefer being ignored than be asked : what’s your name, which school, which standard, how old are you?

How about asking kids what they like to do in their free time, what is their favorite color and why, do they like being indoors or outdoors, do they believe in magic, when was the last time they made a paper boat, do they like boats or ships, rivers or seas….

I asked some friends of this blog what were the most annoying questions their kids get asked and and here’s some of what they came up with (the list was huge, so I have only picked a few). Mind you, some of these questions have been asked post the stroking or pulling of child’s cheek, or worse, lifting them up bodily, or even worse – hoisting them in the air (as size may allow)

What if I take this TOY away..?

Look.. your Mommy is gone.. what will you do now?

Is that my toy?

What do you want to be when you grow up? 

Let’s see if you can give me a hi-five!

Why don’t you sing me a song?

Smile! Let’s take a selfie!

 Who is more naughty you or your brother?

Who does mummy love more you or your brother?

 Oh.. You’re only 8? But you’re SO BIG!

Will you please give me a kissie no. Please. Please. 

Who do YOU love more? Mum or dad?

 Want to come to my house, I have toys and chocolates

I feel like saying: GET OVER IT!

It’s a child. It’s not an alien just landed from a space ship.

It’s a smaller (and perhaps less stupid) version of you.

You are supposed to know this. You have a vocabulary. Years of experience in making conversation. You went to college. You have a job. Surely you can come up with something better.

And the worst questions are usually asked by people who already have kids, so there can be no excuses technically of not knowing what to say. And why bother saying anything at all? I am sure my child won’t mind and I will be spared writing such posts.

Some day, I will make a list of questions to ask a child or make Re carry them as flash cards. I will. I wish I didn’t have to do this, but it’s been year seven for Re, and I have hardly come across people who can initiate good conversations with him. He in the meanwhile has mastered the art of ignoring stupid questions or just shrugging his shoulders and refusing to answer them or sometimes telling the said person exactly what he thought of the question.

My approach to kids (even before I had one) has always been simple. I approach them as I would an animal. In that I try and make myself as unobtrusive, yet watch what they are doing, make eye contact when I have a chance and then wait for the child (or animal) to make their move.

They always do.

For everything else, there’s always peekaboo.

 

 

Manwatch: Looking at men through book-tinted glasses

BY YASHASVI VACHHANI

“Men are more interesting in books than they are in real life” – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

As a single 27-year-old who has looked at the world through book-tinted glasses, this line jumped out from the prose and spoke to me. I went from reading to love stories, and sweet valley to falling in love with Jane Austen in my teens. You can imagine why I was single for a long time – where on earth is Mr. Darcy with his mansion, clipped British accent and brooding eyes?

When I was about 12, I interacted with a fun, bindass ‘modern’ aunty in my building. She was everything my mother was not. She didn’t cook and waxed eloquent about the beauty of rugged men with scars. Her husband was a navy man and he was away on ship when they moved to our building. For months we heard about a good looking, rugged man, (this clearly was an important feature), with a silver ponytail. She spoke of him like he was a character from one of her beloved Mills & Boon novels. From the same library where I picked up teenage love stories, she sent me to pick up Mills and Boon by Penny Jordan and some other favourites. I was to pick only those and none others, the modern ones didn’t appeal to her romantic side as much as these oldies. Most of the books were tattered and really old titles, but when she had five of them at her bedside, she was happiest. And so began my tryst with romance. My childhood reading was not all sanitized, I was a big fan of a series called Love Stories (cliché much) and still have a few lurking among my books for the sake of nostalgia.

My friends and I were frequent visitors of Rajesh Library, where we paid Rs.10 for each book we borrowed and later exchanged notes on the boy that made us swoon most. Sweet Valley was a big hit as well, though I was never impressed by those people. Some twins lurking around some school, I don’t remember too much of that, but I do know they had a profound impact on group dynamics in school. There were also days when aunty sent her good-looking son (I was crushing hard on him and two other boys from school at the time, wondering who would be the right one for me. Which one of these fine boys I would hold hands with) to the library with me and we would comb through the titles looking for the ones she wanted, while I stared at him and his perfect hair and looked for him in the hero of my next book. Well before you think he was Mr. Right, didn’t you notice in the beginning of this essay, I said I’m single? So well, that was that.

Much influenced by her, I later sampled a few M&Bs and promptly rejected them. They were too slow, the heroes were not to my liking, I did not like any of it, although I did read the sex bits in the modern ones. I think my parents figured what was in those books and put an end to it. You can deal with discovering a boy with porn, but what do you do when you discover a girl with something like porn? You ban the books and never address the topic again.

I eventually discovered Jane Austen, who sustained my romantic dreams through my teenage years and gave me enough fodder for all my dreams and fantasies. The only problem was I was not in love with one of her books or one of the characters from her books, I was in love with many and I wanted all the good qualities from all the good men all rolled up into one fine specimen of a man. If I dig up my diary, I think I’ll find the exact description of ‘the right one’ drop dead gorgeous, respectful, a gentleman, funny, quirky, intelligent, intellectual, conversationalist, friendly, caring, loving, non-smoker, intense, brooding, shy, tenacious, affectionate, distant and passionate. I’m sure I had more adjectives, but this guy already sounds like he suffers from a bipolar disorder.

{This is the time you shake your head and think ‘no wonder this girl is single’}

How in the world I thought this person existed, I do not know. But, I was on the lookout for him – my dream man, a customised mish-mash of magical characters.  If this dude is out there in the world, I don’t want to meet him anymore.

There were many whose little qualities made it to the list. But the most important one was that the hero always had a heart of gold. That is one quality that still kind of appeals to me. A man with a good heart – that is all that really matters, I suppose. But I could do with a healthy dose of humour, intelligence, quirk, intellect………………….

Okay, before you think I am stark raving mad, there are some bits added for humour, alright?

Anyway so, I grew up a bit more, went through heartbreak, and a string of ‘could-bes’, but for the most part I was single, pining away for that perfect someone to come along and then, something happened. I revisited Pride and Prejudice. As I was reading the book, I realized I didn’t fancy Mr.Darcy anymore, his broodiness did not have me swooning or conjuring images of myself next to Colin Firth’s version of him in a hat and wild hair (of course I’m Elizabeth!), but I  found myself drawn to Mr.Bingley. There is not much about him in the books or in the film, but he is a good-natured, decent man who likes to have fun and wants to marry a nice girl. He seems light and happy, there is no hidden heart of gold or passion. There is a just a nice man who will have a perfectly normal life and so he is destined to the fate of not the starring in many teenage fantasies while his buddy Darcy takes up all the mind waves.

But as I grew older, I realized, that is really all I want: a good-natured, nice man who is fun and knows how to be happy. It is such a relief to know I am not looking for a unicorn anymore. This is the kind of person who exists in the real world and I have a shot at a happy ending after all.

PS: “There is a chance that a man can be as interesting in real life as he is in a book, only remember to look for the sidekick, not the hero” – Yashasvi Vachhani

 

About the author: Yashasvi is a writer, reader, watcher, talker, part-time gypsy, living and laughing in Bombay.

Books to pack in your child’s suitcase this summer vacation

BOOK REVIEW: The Beebop series

Published by: Harper Kids (A Harper Collins imprint)

Ages: 4-7

Price: Rs 75 each

So things happen when you write your first children’s book. Other children’s books start appearing magically in your mail. So when the Beebop series (a Harper Kids imprint) of four charming little story books accompanied with four equally charming activity books showed up, I handed them all over to him, declaring it as his first official review.

The books are about Beebop, the friendly Bee, who takes four friends, Sarah, Jay, Zoya and Zubin on many exciting adventures.

The Beebop series And although I am no book reviewer and I am at that stage in life where I find it tiring to have an opinion on everything, I do have a point of view on what kids should be doing in their holidays and I think reading should form a major chunk of it. Or doing nothing. Or allowing the fertility of boredom.

And now that Re has started to read, it is such a joy to watch him staring letters into words and words into sentences. His first pick was Zoya and the Bee, and it’s a lovely little story of a little girl who chases a bee and “a lot of useful things happen while she is chasing the bee,” as Re put it.

It’s about the magic of friendship, he declared, since he is still heady from Rainbow Rocks. And family, he added.

Although I am not a great one for “activity books”, I would particularly recommend this set  (each book is priced at Rs 75) to carry along on your summer vacation, because the stories are simple in plot and their telling, and the books are a perfect, compact size to slide into your suitcase. Each of the set of activities accompanying every book – including little puzzles, drawing and coloring projects, word scrambles, spot the differences and other brain teasers – has been very thoughtfully put together, and makes you look at the story in a new light, enhancing the reading experience.