Book Review: Feathertide carried me only so far

4/5 stars
Feathertide is a story with mature themes of love, loss, and growth. Marea grows up cherished but hidden from the world due to the feathers her body sprouts, and the nature of the small town she grows up in. As a young adult, she sets on a journey of self-exploration to an exotic and mysterious land, where her parents had met many years ago.

Marea’s story is one of discovery, of herself and the world beyond her narrow experience as a child.

I enjoyed this novel, but I felt it did not delve deeply into its themes, and left a lot of the story to the readers’ imagination. Picturing the world described by Beth Cartwright was a little difficult, the world-building felt tenuous. Chime in with your thoughts once you’ve read it! I do recommend reading it as an immersive, but not taxing fantasy read.

The novel functions on many lovely metaphors which I thought worked well. It’s filled with moments which provoked self-reflection, but not much in the way of an actual series of events. I expected more, and perhaps that’s on me. I did enjoy the world, just wish there was more detail on the City of Murmurs, Sybel’s story, and Elver, etc.

I’m thankful to Penguin Books for providing me with an Advance Reading Copy of this book, via Net Galley.


IMG_20200607_023643-Feathertide 1

A feather inspired from Beth Cartwright’s ‘Feathertide’


Last question on this book, that I’d love to leave you with. Might be a spoiler for some:
I was curious why Marea’s name doesn’t appear until halfway through the book, is it a sign of her isolation? Share your thoughts!

Book Review of ‘Honeymoon Alone’: A silly person goes on a fun adventure

The story of a woman on a quest to find herself, and be a little spontaneous. Lucy Gray takes a break from her regular life filled with family and eight-year olds (she’s a third grade school teacher) for a poorly planned, last-minute trip to London. Her enjoyment of the city and all the things she has to discover are marred by a set of lies she gets caught up in, all the while, falling in love with this new part of her, as well as the new person in her life.

Honeymoon Alone by Nicole Macaulay is a sweet but ridiculous novel.

I AM grateful to 4b Pub for providing me the chance to review this book, through an online copy. In spite of the silly bits toward the end, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.

Coming to the parts I did not enjoy, mostly because some things were very cliched, and silly, I will have to delve into spoiler territory, so you’ve been warned.

Spoilers ahead!
Honeymoon Alone upload
I mean, what kind of idiot throws their phone away, to begin with? There’s such a thing as turning it off!!
For someone who is supposed to be steady and constant to also be so stupid was really frustrating.
The whole, “I’m disconnecting and so much better for it” thing is sooo cliched.

She could also have not been stupid enough to say to a pair of murderers, “Oh, it’s you!”

I mean, come on! Are you brain dead?

She quite possibly has no self-preserving instincts, which drives me insane. Half of her wandering around made me anxious that something bad would happen! I know it wasn’t that kind of book, but it was quite vexing.

Though I felt it was a massive over-reaction for her brother Charles to fly to London at the last minute, perhaps it is because he anticipated her silly behaviour? I guess he had ‘2020’ vision.

FYI, I’m reviewing this book in 2020, and we’re fast running out of time to make 2020 vision jokes. Sorry, not sorry.

Have a good one!


Book review: ‘The Love Square’ is the sweet read you need right now

The Love Square-Laura Jane Williams-My edit

4.5/5 stars for this new novel by Laura Jane Williams!

It’s about a chef, Penny Bridge, who’s had a bit of a tough life, but is still optimistic and trying to find love. Enter amazing guy. His name is Francesco Cipolla, and he’s got it bad for Penny. What happens next in their budding relationship, and will they end up together in the face of all the difficulties they come up against? Find out for yourself, it will definitely be worth it!

I enjoyed this unique story a lot, and definitely recommend it for anyone who’s feeling the need for a lovely, fun, and emotional read about love of all kinds, and the choices we make in life. Penny refocuses on the things she wants in life, and her journey to getting them are truly enjoyable, and made me feel a little more understood than I have in a while. Thank you Laura Jane Williams, this story is lovely as the note you sent out to readers at the end of the book.

‘The Love Square’ is the sweet read you need to fall asleep thinking of, and I hope it inspires people to examine what they want as well! Now is a time for thinking and trying out those things we’ve been putting off for ages!

I’m very thankful to Avon Books UK for sharing an advance reading copy with me, in exchange for an honest review.


A ‘City of Girls’ Book Review


DSC_0052City of Girls captures the spirit of coming into one’s own over the years. Our protagonist, Vivian Morris, is continuously growing and learning, without the story becoming preachy or dull at any point! We celebrate every step of her life with her, from her first experience to being in a big city, to the moments she describes her friendships with other women.

While the book is fresh in my mind (I read the second half of it in one intense night of reading), I want to say how much I adored this book. It is nuanced, historical, and lovely. A celebration of various kinds of friends and the family we cobble together for ourselves.

It is obviously an engaging and fun read, but has so many heartfelt lessons to share. I don’t think it’s easy to write such a touching book with so many characters we can love and respect while also identifying and being fully aware of their deep flaws.

Ranging from light to thoughtful moments, this book has such a compelling set of stories to share. I really couldn’t stop reading it once I was into the heart of it.

The words are still echoing in my mind, as I think of the relationships I’ve had and will have in my life. The ones I’ve tried to build but were lost to time, those that were happy but momentary embraces and others I still miss.

Reading about her grandmother made me miss the kind and silent moments I spent with mine. The love we lose through time, is it really lost? Or is the memory enough?

Youth, middle-age, there is something interesting in the way she tells each, and I just kept wishing for more. Magnificent, arching story from Elizabeth Gilbert, I would recommend this to any mature reader!


What to do when you have nothing to do!

How to stay sane, occupied, and socially connected while physically distant

A lockdown offers many people a completely new experience, a situation where our physical contact with the world is suspended. For those of us who are privileged enough to be at home with seemingly nothing new to do, the question of what to do with our time arises. Time we would otherwise dedicate to commuting to work, cultural experiences, eating out, and most of all, being with friends and family, is all unoccupied.  In our current situation,  when many people are feeling disconnected from their social support systems, or want to build new ones, what are some of the best options to stay connected and physically distant? A hug is out of the question if you live alone, but a virtual hug from a community might be the next best thing!

Entertainment and cultural experiences:

Live online sessions have become the norm across social media and organisational websites. There’s something for everyone! The Kalakshetra Foundation has been organising classical Indian music sessions on their Youtube channel since 6th April. The HCL Concerts-Baithak have been organised for a period of 60 days, with 25 artists performing Indian classical music live on Facebook (every Monday, Wednesday and Friday). Some of these live sessions are raising funds for COVID-19 related efforts, while others are focusing on fundraising for artists who have lost their livelihood. These organisations and independent artists regularly conduct live Q&A sessions, challenges, and more to try and promote cultural experiences and experiments at this time!

From live online comedy (Stay Home for India), Instagram live musical concerts (Rolling Stone India, Together at  HomeWHO and Global Citizen partnership), to Andrea Bocelli’s concert, to the Bolshoi Theatre’s broadcasts of several performances in the past month, it appears that there is more to experience online from various cultures than we could ever have in person! The Royal Opera House also shares wonderful videos. There are so many different kinds of performances to discover now. Find more classical music options here!                                                                                     

There are numerous world-famous museums which have opened virtual gallery tours now, apart from the diverse collections which were already on display on Google Arts and Culture! Check them out while on a call with your friends and experience the rooms while trading your thoughts.

Social media:

 As a result of being homebound, an astounding number of creative challenges have happened to emerge across social media, from cooking, dancing, to drawing, and music. Apart from watching and interacting with everyone else, challenges have sprung up with ways to occupy time for anyone who is concerned their days are too monotonous!

Everyone is engaging more with the global community, and imaginations are brimming. Various creative endeavours have appeared on social media for practically everything. Recipe-sharing with limited items and tips for motivating yourself to stay at peace with meditation, yoga, or even rousing games of online charades or Antakshari are frequently in progress. 

Online games:

Games where friends can play in private rooms while also talking on a call have become even more popular. Since playing with friends is off the table, there are games instead which encourage strangers to play a round of Pictionary, Scrabble or Ludo! “, Sketchit, and Codenames seem to be pretty well-known,” says Purvil Jani, whose board game group has shifted online. Fortnite, Minecraft, RuneScape, and many more have experienced an inflow of players. There are plenty of options for every kind of platform, but try to join those with an emphasis on the cooperative aspect of the game!

Video calls:

Adopting and adapting video calling on various apps and channels has become routine for many people in the world now, and inventive uses of video calling are at the forefront. Zoom has a feature to share your screen and draw,  some are adapting this for online Pictionary, while others are using the platform to learn, to celebrate birthdays, and even for online dates. Many platforms for conference calls are being used extensively to support work and recreation in a way that has not taken place on a global scale before. This does suggest we could continue with these accessible options as a way to promote the inclusion of those who might not be able to show up in person to various meetings, classes, or even celebratory events!

Pen pals around the world:

For those who are avid explorers of other cultures, or who want to practise their foreign language skills, the option of a pen pal has been resurrected from the dead! Virtual pen pals are increasingly easier to find, with many platforms allowing international communication to thrive. From extensively using social media, people are talking to those they might never have otherwise met in their daily lives! After using the Tinder Passport option for free during April 2020, Rohit Singla said, “It was very interesting, this was my first experience talking to someone completely unknown, from a very different culture. And it also made me realise, they are not so different.” At this time in our history, recognising our shared experiences is more important than ever. 

Pick whatever excites you, and try it out now! The option to go on a virtual live safari with your friends is open too! Maybe there is more time in the day for something new. If not, add in a live music concert to your exercise time, or practise cooking while on a video call with friends! Be inventive, or stick to the things you already love, whatever makes you feel most able to cope with this pandemic! To get more ideas, specifically for things you can do by yourself, check out this list!

This piece appears on, check it out for all your science-based COVID-19 information! 





Society and pandemics

With the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across the world, there have been innumerable new measures to keep people engaged. I feel pretty wrecked that there so many people who are facing a lot more hardship in already difficult lives. And by hardship, I am NOT talking about how you have to wash your own dishes, etc.  because your cook or cleaner is at their own home now.

I am referring to the most hard-hit, the homeless, the daily-wage workers, those who are migrant labourers, the people who go out every day and pick waste, the roadside vendors, and anyone else who lacks the luxury to complain about boredom. The afterthought of our populations are now being villainised for not following physical distancing, and it’s the most shameful thing I’ve seen in a while. To blame certain people for the spread of this virus, when they have no option, and are as desperate to get home as all the Indians who wanted to be airlifted back is incredibly cruel and idiotic.

I’m not saying anything new, but I am saying it in a space where I can voice my thoughts coherently. The instinct to add, “But, what about…” is the hallmark of someone who cannot understand that two things can be true at the same time. Yes, the people at home who are feeling their freedom curbed are vulnerable to challenges to their mental well-being. But, those who have physical threats to their safety need to be taken care of as a priority. I’m going to bring in a bit of psychology, and a hierarchy of needs if you will bear with me. A person who is starving or without a basic form of shelter is facing incredible motivation to get out of this condition.

Can you blame people for trying to get home when the government is not providing for them sufficiently, and there’s a lack of clarity on the why, the when, the how of their entire existence? Even if you provide people with food and some shelter, would they not want to be home like everyone else? If the railways open bookings, will people not book trains for a particular day they see as their only chance to get home? Where is the planning? Where is the assurance that they will be provided with food and shelter during this time, AND in the months after when they don’t have money to support themselves or their families?

And this uncertainty applies to children who are being abused at home, because domestic violence rates are astoundingly high right now. Helplines are overwhelmed. Women and children are facing their abusers for so much more of the day now. What is their recourse? They can’t even venture to hospitals that are also overwhelmed.

So let’s not complain about having too free a day? Let’s focus on the things we can do? We can talk to our friends and families, we have the internet’s entire contents to go through, or more reasonably, we have the ability to try something new offline. Write, doodle, sing, play with a rubber band, who cares! If you’re reading this, I’m going to assume you have those options. You’re not the victims of this pandemic that we need to worry about, as long as you stay home and practise physical distancing.

I get it, your routine has been interrupted. But you’re unlikely to be facing the harsh battle with mortality that too many people are faced with now. And most worryingly, the section of the population that’s most underprivileged is likely to face the most significant mortality rates. Meanwhile, the couples doing relatively well are bound to have what we are joking about as corona-caused babies  (born 9 months after lockdowns around the world). This is a real possibility, but the birth trends following epidemics and natural disasters vary. Is this virus just another way the privileged find to blame those whom they depend on for deliveries, for construction of their homes, for help with maintaining them, infrastructural construction, and more? Probably.

End rant.

Begin suggestions: try to be thankful for what you have, if it takes a listing exercise, write it down! Engage with people from different backgrounds on social media, and I don’t mean be a troll. Help others, it’ll make you feel better: call up your friends who might be struggling with things at the moment, talk to your domestic helpers too, check in on them. And perhaps most importantly, look at news as more than the source of outrage against the people who are not like you (in whatever way- religion, income, lifestyle).

Remember, this is not the flu or a simple cold. And we need to treat it differently, so remain calm at home, and kind.



Redundant. Redundant.

I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about creativity. The definition of creativity is essentially a combination of originality and appropriateness. When I write, it always feels terribly unoriginal, and the utility, purpose, or suitability of the words I type remains open to debate.

And yet, here I am. Writing something I’m sure innumerable people before me have expressed before, perhaps more eloquently (or not). How redundant is this post? Who cares? If we were constantly worrying about the originality of our ideas, we’d never get a word out. There’s this thing called historical creativity, it’s what we consider real innovation. When some remarkable individual proposes a wholly new concept to society, something unheard of, that’s historical creativity. The rest is just personal creativity, when a novel bit of information occurs to a person, and they get all excited.

So let’s focus on personal creativity. Maybe it’ll get us to historical creativity. Or it won’t. But that’s perfectly alright. I’m trying to remind myself, you just happen to be privy to this little monologue. With every little idea that springs from me into written form, the screaming on the inside quiets. Isn’t that worth it?




Write drunk, edit sober?

The idea of writing drunk and then editing ruthlessly while sober has always struck me as incredibly peculiar. Being drunk lends itself to a lot of things, one being brutal honesty. If you later edit the things you wrote while drunk, will the honesty be lost? What happens to the crazy flow of thought that comes with slowing down the brain? I’m not sure who’s noticed, but being drunk is excellent for slowing down that maelstrom of sub-par ideas which hits ever writer while they’re in full control of their faculties.

Having your brain a little off-kilter might help slow down the words bursting out of you. And you can make all sorts of unexpected connections which would have otherwise been drowned out. Writing is hard, it’s important to try out whatever makes you feel like you have more control and gets you to that sweet spot where what you’re writing doesn’t feel like nonsense.

That’s the general takeaway I have from my own writing experiences. Writing drunk is a bit like writing angry, it makes you write more passionately than you would when you’re over-thinking every sentence. So write when you’re over-whelmed in some way. Who knows where it might lead. (Don’t develop an addiction for the sake of your writing, that’s a terrible idea. As bad as lazy writing in a movie-script is. Deadpool, baby-I’m referencing you.)

But what do I know? I might or might not be currently inebriated.

Throwback Earth Day Special

A version of this article first appeared  two years ago here, on Citizen Matters. But this is the more fun version I had written. Inclusive of fun Google quiz throwback.

Earth Day is a reminder to see how the environment is coping, but it is also about seeing yourself as part of the environment. Try the Google quiz to see what animal you are and then catch up on Earth Day if you don’t have friends who’ve told you all about it yet.

Earth Day started off around 1970, with the UN, and separately as a grassroots effort in the United States to bring environmental concerns into the limelight. The initial work of John McConnell and Senator Gaylord Nelson has reached a very active international level with growing eco-consciousness around the globe.

Earth Day comes once a year, but is one day to be conscious of our impact on our planet enough? Here are some small ways to reduce the negative impact we have, with our household tasks, our carbon footprint and the like. These are things each of us can do in all spheres of our lives to help nature chill out.


  • Turn off your vehicle at traffic signals
  • Take the bus, train, a shared car or metro twice a week, not your car or an auto.
  • Carpool with friends and colleagues in the area.
  • Ensure your vehicle’s emission is below the legal limit
  • If you don’t have to go very far, ditch your vehicle and walk or cycle
  • Refuel at cooler times of the day-morning or night  

At work:

  • Box it, no foil: try to pack your meal without excess wrapping and disposables.
  • Ask the management to upgrade to water fixtures which are more efficient.
  • Instead of hitting print, use emails or pendrives to share documents.
  • If waste is segregated, recycling becomes easy for all the waste paper!
  • Ensure lights and appliances are turned off when everyone leaves for the night.
  • Plan work events carefully to prevent wastage of food.
  • Help institute a system of purchasing recycled/ recyclable furniture and other materials.
  • Get eco-friendly cleaning materials for the office.


  • Eat less meat. There are a lot of debates around this, and here’s one.
  • The amount of energy and resources going into the food you eat should be a consideration when you buy a food product, so try to keep tabs on your regular purchases.  
  • Don’t waste food, so order carefully at restaurants, and heat-up leftovers to save food


  • Try out vermicomposting or regular composting if it is feasible in your building. It can be done on a balcony or garden!
  • Start segregating your waste, it can help you keep track of your consumption and make collection easier.
  • Apart from not littering yourself,  remind other people to put trash in dustbins.
  • Reuse/Repurpose: Give away old clothes to someone who needs them, or get creative and reuse them as rags for cleaning and dusting, as bags, or whatever else you can think of.
  • Make sure to take e-waste to recycling centres .
  • Reduce the number of things you buy and refuse to buy items that are overly packaged or for single use.
  • Unsubscribe from magazines you don’t read, and collect pamphlets, etc. for recycling rather than the dust-bin option


  • Use a ceiling fan, or even a table fan rather than air conditioning.
  • Unplug all appliances when they are not in use, some still consume power if they are off, but left plugged into the socket.
  • If it’s a hot day, forget the water heater for your shower/ bath.
  • When you leave the house, make sure everything is turned off, except the refrigerator. If you are going on vacation, defrost the fridge and turn that off too!


  • Bring your own bag! Either get a good cloth grocery bag, or reuse plastic packets.
  • If you pay by card, and ditch the slips after, ask the cashier to not give you a slip at all.
  • Eat local and seasonal food, try not to buy for imported products or fruits.
  • Try to stop buying bottled water, carry your own bottle with filtered water, and take your own tumbler  to work, avoiding paper cups.
  • Read labels to avoid buying products with harmful chemicals.


  • Don’t let a tap drip, fix it ASAP, or for a temporary measure,  collect the water and use it later.
  • Turn the tap off while brushing your teeth, it is wasteful to leave it running.
  • Create a system, either while building your home, or with a bucket/ bowl for your used kitchen water (grey water) to be used to water your plants.
  • If you love showers, but feel guilty about the water use, get yourself a low flow shower head with high pressure to keep the waterfall feel without using as much water.

It’s been a while

Over the past few months, I haven’t been writing the way I want to. All I’ve been writing are research papers, exam papers, and articles here and there. I think I wrote a couple of short stories and a poem or something.

What I can remember are the moments I took to update my WhatsApp status. They aren’t particularly eloquent, but they capture the moments I typed them out in. They feel like writing. Not the painstaking writing that captivates readers. Only a brief hint of a life. They reveal a little something about me. That is why I am using them to craft a story. Mostly my story, but I think it’ll mirror what some people feel in the last few months of school, college, and other things we feel we need to get away from.


nerd smiling emoticon

She smiled as she wrote. The words appeared on the screen nearly as quickly as she thought of them. The feeling she got after the last word was typed was one of accomplishment. She had finished. She had made it through her final research paper after three years of typing and retyping and editing and proof-reading. It was one of the last things to do on her way to freedom.

A lot of lasts

She knew it was true. Others seemed to be getting more nostalgic by the minute. She couldn’t wait to be done with it all. She was quite literally counting down the days. But there were moments when she thought, “I’m going to miss this.” or, “I wonder when I’ll see them again.”

Back to the same old

As excited as she was for the end, there were a few more hurdles to clear before she could go on to the next stage of her life. And it was the same old thing, another set of tests to measure something undefinable. She was back to waiting, waiting for it to be over.


The classes were over. Just weeks remained of what had begun to feel more and more like a life sentence. Every other minute, she was tumbling from joyous heights to depressed awareness of what remained to be overcome.

The frequency with which she felt compelled to share her state grew.

Just a few hours more.

2 weeks and a bunch of hours

                                                 angry face

Words seemed to be failing her at times. The exams had never felt so awful. She knew it barely mattered. But she felt awful on the days when she had to drag herself to that place. Sometimes she felt unable to deal with it on top of the other worries weighing on her.

flat mouth face

It felt like the days she hated lasted too long. She stared at nothing and everything. She sent messages to her friends. She was able to relax when she focused on something totally unrelated. Those moments were precious.

Counting down the hours

She could see the end of a three year journey which had been interesting. She was more than ready to leave interesting behind.


She was there. Where she wanted to be. Needed to be. The other worries had more room to float about her head. She was looking toward the future. And that was partially dependent on the exams. The results took their own sweet time.