10 Bookish Challenges Only Bookworms Have To Deal With

10 Bookish Challenges Only Bookworms Have To Deal With

Book lovers seem to have it all sorted out, don't they? They never seem to have any boredom problem. They never mind waiting in long queues. Many of them, in fact, actually LIKE lengthy commutes. They never seem to stress over weekend-plans. They don't care if the Cable TV is not working. Or even the internet. Wherever they are, they simply pull a book out of their bag or the bookshelf, and time seems to just fly for them.

Totally zen, right?


Book lovers also have challenges. A very UNIQUE set of challenges, as a matter of fact. Listed below are 10 bookish challenges that only a bookworm would know and understand, for these are 10 challenges that only a book lover ever has to face and deal with.

10 Bookish Challenges Only Book Lovers Can Relate To

  1. Budget management

    They keep releasing new books (that you want to read) faster than your salary.

    Every month, you tell yourself - "I won't buy any new books next month." But come next month's paycheck, and once again, you end up buying more books than your budget would allow!

    You go to the store to pick up "only five" books from your wish-list, and you end up bagging 15 more that just "caught your eye".

    You don't have any savings, but you HAVE a house full of books. Ain't that the story of your life now?

  2. Space management

    At first you run out of shelf space for your books. So you buy more cabinets.

    Eventually, you run out of cabinet space too. And before you know it, you need a bigger house, just to accommodate your insanely expanding home library.

    But you can't afford a bigger house, 'coz of point number 1 above.

    That's when you grudgingly decide you need to start using Kindle! 😜

  3. Time management

    (My personal nightmare.) You have your entire day's "to-do list" in front of you, but you just want to finish this "one last chapter".

    Oh but the plot is hanging on such a major suspense point.

    So you try to sneak in one more chapter, on the sly. And then one more. And... oops!

    No work done in the house. Nothing to eat. Sleep has become an elusive lover. And you're constantly eyeing your TBR pile. And wishing you had 4 extra days PER DAY just to read.

  4. Fantasy and escapism

    (Another personal nightmare.) You get so involved in the book's story-line that you are unable to separate fiction and reality.

    Are you here? Or are you there?

    You are like a zombie. The characters of the book seem more real to you than the people you live and work with. You seem to get trapped in THEIR world, THEIR adventure, THEIR life's drama.

    And your own family members?

    What family members? Oh you mean these strangers? I wonder why they are always nagging me! [shakes head in incomprehension and goes back to book]

  5. Emotion management

    Managing your emotions can be a serious bookish challenge if, like me, you are a sensitive and imaginative reader who tends to get completely absorbed in the fictitious world of the plot. There are -

    • Embarrassing "public-giggling attacks"... in local trains, buses, office cabs, cafeterias... you name it!

    • Angry outbursts... when you realize that the book you just finished has a sequel that's not yet been published, so you'll have to WAIT... to find out how the story ends.

    • Week-long depressions... when you finish a long series, like Lord Of The Rings... because you just weren't ready to say "Goodbye" to your new friends yet.

    Oh, and Heaven help you if one of your favorite characters dies in a book! (I went into shock when Dumbledore died in the Harry Potter series.)

  6. Book hangovers(?)

    Ok be honest now.

    After reading Harry Potter, how many times did you try to use the "Accio" charm to summon random objects to you, because you felt too lazy to get up from your bed?

    Or tried to research the history of ancient Egypt on Wikipedia, after reading Wilbur Smith's Egyptian Series?

    Or tried to be Mark Watney (of The Martian) and grow potatoes in your own sh*t? 🤣🤣🤣

    Ummm no, I don't think any of you would have done that! 😜😜😜

    Or did you? 😁😁😁

  7. No social life

    Because you're a social snob.

    You judge people on whether they read or not. You even judge them on their choice of books.

    On top of it, you're ALSO a social recluse.

    You'd rather curl up on the sofa with a good book than attend some long-lost cousin's wedding, or get drunk at the local pub with a bunch of noisy friends, or watch some sweaty, over-aggressive players chase a ball over a field (or kick one, it's all one and the same anyway)...!

    Bottom-line: You'd rather be with a book than with a real person. Period.

  8. Relationship management

    First of all, you don't HAVE that many relationships, 'coz that would require you to pull your nose out of your books once in a while.

    But the few who're just mandatorily there... i.e. your immediate family and close friends... you can never figure out how to NOT get irritated at them for interrupting you in the middle of EVERY SINGLE BOOK you read!

    And if a friend borrows a book from you and loses/damages it?

    What friend? Whose friend? Who needs any friends? Huhh! [jerks head in anger and goes back to book]

  9. Dealing with crappy movie adaptations

    Because you have read the original masterpiece.

    You KNOW what happens in the plot. You know EXACTLY what each character says and does. You even know exactly what s/he THINKS and FEELS!

    So you find it very irritating when they omit half of the book from the movie, 'coz then every time you see the movie, you have to read the book again to fill in the blanks, no?

    And you hate it when they change a character so much that you can't even recognize him/her from the book. (Like they did to Frodo in Lord Of The Rings.)

  10. Bookish choices

    You spend an hour at the bookstore, shortlisting books you want to buy... and then ANOTHER half hour, deciding which ones to leave this time, 'coz you only have so much money that day.

    You stand in front of your bookcase like a statue, wondering which book you ought to start on next -- one from your TBR pile, or one of your old favorites again.

    And if someone asks you to talk about your favorite book?

    Whaaattt? ONE favorite book? ONLY ONE? [opens mouth to speak, closes it without saying anything, repeats... repeats again, and again... scratches head in disbelief and goes back to book]

Now you see? The life of a bookworm is not so easy after all. It is full of weird bookish challenges that only book lovers would be able to understand and relate with.

So, are you a bookworm too?
How many of these bookish challenges have you had to deal with?
Which one of these is your biggest personal nightmare?
Have you faced any other bookish challenges, apart from the ones listed above?

Here's more in MySunnyVibes...

Mother... and No Mother!

Mother... and No Mother!

She's your source
of all inspiration.
She encourages you
to surpass your limitation.

She's the cool soft moonlight
wherein dreams are born.
She's the smile
that sets right all wrong.

Her belief in you
makes you believe yourself.
Her pride in you
makes you proud of yourself.

She celebrates
every tiny step you take.
And when you stumble and fall,
she helps you up and calls for a "retake".

Against the harsh criticism of the world,
she's an impenetrable armour.
Through her eyes, you're able to see
the perfection that you truly are.

She protects you from the
scorching sun and stormy waters of life.
She is the cord that connects you
to planet 'home', through all the strife.

. . . . .

But then one day...
she's gone.
Just like that.
No goodbyes.
No parting hugs.
No final words of wisdom.
Not even the gentle reassurance, that
"Don't be afraid, I'll watch over you."

You feel betrayed,
You want to scream,
smash everything that is breakable.
You want to complain to Dad,
about her leaving you like that.
You want to cry...
cry soooo much.

But, you are told by "well wishers",
to check those tears
and "be strong".
You keep waiting to hear the words,
"Your mother is gone, but...
we're still here; we'll look after you."

Instead, all you get to hear is,
"Now YOU have to look after your Dad and sister."

. . . . .

More than 14 years later,
you're still left wondering "Why?"
Why are you the only one
who doesn't need "looking after"?

And then you wonder
if you're made of some different stuff?
Stuff like old Arnie was made of, perhaps,
in Terminator II?

You wonder why you're unable to
see yourself the way others apparently do?
Like a robot. Or the Superman.
Or maybe the Mount Everest?

you just come to the conclusion...
that maybe those "others"
need to start wearing glasses!

. . . . .

I originally published this post on my old blog, 12 years ago, in February 2011. Decided to share it today on my new blog as well, because today is my mom's birthday. (Or at least, it would have been if she'd still been around. As things turned out though, she never even made it to her 41st birthday!)

Mother's Smile Sets Everything Right

As a matter of fact, I was randomly browsing through my old blog today, going through all the posts that were related to my mom and her sister - my mausi. (Mausi also passed away a few years ago, and, for me, they both carried such similar energetic signatures that it felt like losing mom all over again!)

And as I was reading those posts again today, I realized that some of them will never make it into THIS blog. They are part of a different version of me -- a version that is already healed now. They don't quite belong here now. Still, it felt good going through them again today and noticing, from a detached kind of point of view, the different "shades" of grief that one might go through...

For instance, this post shared above today...

It is so clearly demarcated in THREE very distinct parts:

  1. With mother - All rhyme and rhythm, positive words and emotions, tenderness, deep-rooted sense of security... in your own being and in your connection with the world.

  2. Sudden (and, in my case, unexpected too) loss of mother - Completely devoid of rhyme or reason, so much pain and anguish... WANTING to express itself, but bottled up, a sense of disbelief and incognizance.

  3. 14-years later - Still unable to make sense, still no rhythm, the anger and hurt replaced by confusion, so many questions, and finally... the beginning of accepting your vulnerability...

Interestingly, ALL THREE parts were written as one single post, AT ONE GO, 14 years after my mom's death. Yet, all three of them are so different in their style and mood.

Isn't it amazing how, just by accessing and RE-LIVING different past moments, we can bring out noticeable differences in our writing?

This is, in fact, just the reverse of what I did in the other post I shared here about my mom - That Last Night - in which I DISTANCED myself from the experience, to be able to better write about it. (You can click on that link to check out that post if you haven't already read it.)

Both these techniques (of re-living and distancing) are actually covered in Neuro Linguistic Programming (of which I am now a certified Trainer), and they have many more applications, other than in writing.

So let's play a quick game in the comments...

Can you think of where else they can be useful? What other fields? What kind of situations?

Here's more in MyShowcase...

Reflections 2022: The Year That Was

Reflections 2022: The Year That Was

So, another adventurous year comes to pass. 2022. I say “adventurous” because that’s what it was for me. Not much of what I had planned for the year ACTUALLY happened. Yet, all that DID happen was so much better, AND MORE IMPORTANT, than what I had originally planned.

Don’t want to go into the details, but the one MAIN thing that I DO want to record here—which was the highlight of the year for me—was that I finally started focusing on myself too. That, you could say, was the central theme of the year for me. If I were to describe MY 2022 in one word, that would be it – SELF.

2022 In A Nutshell for Me

Up until very recently, I had always been more of an “Others’ Oriented” person. I would make decisions based on what would be right for others, instead of me. I would think about others’ happiness and completely overlook mine. I never even bothered to think about what I liked, enjoyed doing, or wanted in life.

Remember Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride (1999), who had no clue about what kind of eggs she liked? Yupp. You get the picture.

But this last year was a major shift for me in this aspect of my personality. Let me sum up the key points below. These are more for my own future reference, so just jotting them down quickly in points…


I seemed to have acquired a lot of nonsensical beliefs about my identity, my capabilities, my so-called responsibilities (“shoulds” and “shouldn’ts”, “musts” and “mustn’ts”). Did a major mental “Diwali ki safai” (“Spring cleaning”, for the non-Indians reading this post!), in terms of my…

  • Self-identity – who I am, my values, my goals and aspirations, my competencies…
  • Self-talk – whether it is critical or appreciative, who all are controlling my mental narratives…
  • Self-awareness – of MY needs, thoughts and feelings at any given point of time…
  • Self-acceptance – of my dreams and desires, my feelings, my uniqueness, my strengths and even my weaknesses, without being judgemental…


Previously, I was allowing people to do anything or say anything to me, simply because they were “close” to me. But “love and connection” is no longer more important to me than “respect”, and this shift has enabled me to develop, AND enforce, strong healthy boundaries in my relationships (even if at the cost of some of those relationships), in the way of…

  • Self-preservation – I now CHOOSE what I let into my mind, especially the criticism directed at me, and the "belittlement" masked as "joke"…
  • Self-conservation – my time is precious, so are my dreams and needs, hence ‘NO’ to others' drama!
  • Self-appreciation – no more self-deprecating humor guised as my ‘super powers’, now I genuinely know what is good about me!
  • Self-motivation – knowledge of what I want, what is important to me, and what are my abilities… now leaves no space for any kind of self-sabotage.


Earlier, I had allowed other people’s narratives about me to shape my self-esteem. Because I used to “buy into” whatever they said. Because I gave THEM more importance than myself. But now I have started SEEING myself too, as an equal, and have finally started getting a true measure of my own value, which is reflected in my…

  • Self-confidence – having made these two DETAILED lists of my past achievements and my skills helped majorly!
  • Self-development – even at this age, I’m constantly challenging myself, stretching my wings, learning SO FAST…
  • Self-expression – asserting myself, instead of bottling up my thoughts and ideas and feelings, even if the other person is hell bent on hammering his/her own narrative into me.
  • Self-worth – a lot of what I previously believed I DON’T deserve, no longer makes any sense…


Being able to look at myself with the same joy and wonder that I see others with, being able to go all out to nurture myself, ALL aspects of myself, the way I have always stood strong for my loved ones… this is the part that is, at the time of writing this post, very much in “conscious competence” for me, but at least I have started making progress in it, including…

  • Self-forgiveness – showing myself the same compassion and kindness when I make mistakes…
  • Self-trust – having unconditional faith in my dreams, abilities, feelings, and my inner knowing…
  • Self-care – pampering myself, making time for quality sleep, exercise, food, and my hobbies, wearing clothes I like, having fun…
  • Self-gratitude – celebrating myself each day, deliberate mindful indulgence in things I enjoy…

While all this was not a conscious part of my plans for 2022, now, when I look back, I realize that these internal resources would be vital for me STICKING to the plans that I DID make, and would also propel me to move towards them with full confidence and conviction in myself.

2022 has been an “unexpected” year, in a good way.

I got to meet ME.

I wish the same for you too, for this new year…

Happy New Year 2023

Here's more in MySunnyVibes...

Book Review: The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

Book Review: The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes, is an intricately penned story of one man coming to terms with the mutable past. It is a story about the subjectivity of memory, and how it creates unreliable histories, because...

“what you end up remembering isn't always the same as what you have witnessed.”

Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2011, this 160-page novella is truly a literary masterpiece loaded with dexterity and insight.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. If you make a purchase through those links, I will receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. (Many thanks, if you choose to support me this way.)

The Sense of an Ending

Author: Julian Barnes
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Literature, Literary Fiction
First Published: 2011
Format: Paperback, 160 pages

Book Blurb:

Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they would navigate the girl-less sixth form together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumour and wit. Maybe Adrian was a little more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they all swore to stay friends for life. Now Tony is retired. He’s had a career and a single marriage, a calm divorce. He’s certainly never tried to hurt anybody. Memory, though, is imperfect. It can always throw up surprises, as a lawyer’s letter is about to prove.

The central theme of The Sense of an Ending :

“How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life. Told to others, but—mainly—to ourselves.”

How often indeed? We choose to remember only that which we want to remember. We modify our own memories, even implant false memories at times, just to write our life stories the way we want to believe it all happened.

For example, a doting wife would conveniently ignore the flaws in her husband, even if they were visible to the entire world, just because she's cast him in the role of "her knight in shining armour"! And a man might convince himself to believe that his love interest is married to someone else, even when there is not a shred of evidence towards this, just because he happens to relate with the Indian 'devdaas' character!

As Julian Barnes has so aptly highlighted in his book, The Sense of an Ending, human memory is indeed subjective and quite unreliable.

The main characters of The Sense of an Ending :

  1. Tony Webster is the narrator of this story - an average, self-centered guy, who, like most of us, has...
    "settled for the realities of life, and submitted to its necessities".
    His youthful ambitions and inspirations have given way to "maturity" and "practicality", and he just allows himself to be swept with the tide, rather than try making any waves.

    As he narrates his version of the story, he is very much aware of this "subjectivity" of his memory, and constantly points this out, portraying himself as an unreliable narrator. And while his life...
    "didn't turn out to be like Literature"...
    he's more-or-less content with it, with...
    "Some achievements and some disappointments."
    Until he's bequeathed an unexpected legacy of 500 pounds, which makes him re-visit his past and question his memories. But does he find the answers he's looking for? Is he able to make peace with his past eventually?

  2. Adrian Finn is Tony's old school friend, who analyses life and relationships in mathematical equations, adds a philosophical angle to everything, and is very much concerned with apportioning responsibility and blame for every little event in history.

    He seems to know clearly what he wants from life. His teachers and peers think of him as nothing short of a genius.

    Until his sudden suicide, with a note for the coroner, saying...
    "life is a gift bestowed without anyone asking for it; that the thinking person has a philosophical duty to examine both the nature of life and the conditions it comes with; and that if this person decides to renounce the gift no one asks for, it is the moral and human duty to act on the consequences of that decision."
    But was his suicide really the answer to a philosophical question? Was it really any different from their sixth-form classmate Robson's suicide, who got a girl pregnant in his youth, couldn't face the consequences, so ended his life? And was he really justified in holding Tony responsible for the events of his life?

  3. Veronica Ford was Tony's university girlfriend, who, according to Tony's perspective, dumped him and started dating Adrian, Tony's smarter friend, only to spite Tony!

    But was she really the "bitch" Tony believed her to be? Or was she "damaged goods" as her mom made her out to be? Does the book lead to a romantic reunion between her and Tony?

I was instantly hooked to the writing style of The Sense of an Ending, because it almost seemed like Tony Webster's personal blog--his experiences, his memories, his feelings, his perspectives. Very much like my own MugOfMuse, you know, complete with its humble "disclaimer" that the observations are "restricted to the extent of my perception" and "may not necessarily hold any truth/validity"!

In fact, just like MugOfMuse, it even tends to ramble on a bit at times - not serving any purpose in the advancement of the plot, yet playing a vital role in describing the character of the narrator.

And Barnes' insights about life and people are just so astute! For instance...

“How time first grounds us and then confounds us. We thought we were being mature when we were only being safe. We imagined we were being responsible but we were only being cowardly. What we called realism turned out to be a way of avoiding things rather than facing them. Time... give us enough time and our best-supported decisions will seem wobbly, our certainties whimsical.”

And another deep one about time...

“The time-deniers say: forty’s nothing, at fifty you’re in your prime, sixty’s the new forty, and so on. I know this much: that there is objective time, but also subjective time, the kind you wear on the inside of your wrist, next to where the pulse lies. And this personal time, which is the true time, is measured in your relationship to memory. So when this strange thing happened – when these new memories suddenly came upon me – it was as if, for that moment, time had been placed in reverse.”

Here's one on the complexity of relationships...

“What if you can prove you weren't the bad guy she took you for, and she is willing to accept your proof?”

“You're doing it for yourself, of course. You're wanting to leave that final memory, and make it a pleasant one. You want to be well thought of...”

My top personal favorites though are...

“History isn't the lies of the victors, as I once glibly assured Old Joe Hunt; I know that now. It's more the memories of the survivors, most of whom are neither victorious or defeated.”


“I certainly believe we all suffer damage, one way or another. How could we not, except in a world of perfect parents, siblings, neighbours, companions? And then there is the question, on which so much depends, of how we react to the damage: whether we admit it or repress it, and how this affects our dealings with others. Some admit the damage, and try to mitigate it; some spend their lives trying to help others who are damaged; and then there are those whose main concern is to avoid further damage to themselves, at whatever cost. And those are the ones who are ruthless, and the ones to be careful of.”

Despite being such a short book, The Sense of an Ending weaves a complex web of real-life characters. People who aren't just simple "black-and-white". People you can relate to. People whose personalities are revealed to you layer after layer, just like in real life.

The suspense keeps you turning the pages, and yet, the depth of the philosophical insights in the book makes you stop reading every now and then, and reflect on your own life instead. The book sucks you right into the plot and keeps you there for a long time, even after you've finished reading it!

My rating: 5 out of 5. The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes, is a disturbing, yet, an elegantly composed, thought-provoking tale about time and aging, memory and remorse, mistakes and disappointments, responsibility and blame. HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT.

Buy this book from: Amazon.in | Amazon.com
Check out other books by Julian Barnes on: Amazon.in | Amazon.com
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Book Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

Book Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian, by Andy Weir, is, in short "Apollo 13 meets Cast Away" or "Robinson Crusoe in space". It is a story about an astronaut who gets stranded on Mars, after a freak accident that should have actually killed him, but didn't. It is a gripping narrative of surviving against all odds, of resourcefulness and ingenuity in the face of adversity.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. If you make a purchase through those links, I will receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. (Many thanks, if you choose to support me this way.)

The Martian

Author: Andy Weir
Genre: Science Fiction, Contemporary, Action & Adventure, Space, Survival
First Published: 2015
Format: Paperback, 384 pages

Book Blurb:

I’m stranded on Mars. I have no way to communicate with Hermes or Earth. Everyone thinks I’m dead. I’m in a Hab designed to last 31 days.

If the Oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death.

So yeah. I’m fucked.

I saw the movie adaptation of The Martian before I read the book. I didn't even know then that it was based on a novel. I was actually searching for a different movie (My Favorite Martian), but I found this instead, and Matt Damon on the cover image caught my interest. I simply LOVED the movie!

Weeks later, I was raving about it on someone else's post on Facebook, and a common friend happened to mention "the book has a lot more details". That's when I found out there was a book behind the movie. Naturally, I had to order it immediately! Guess what! I loved the book so much that I read it THRICE within a month of ordering it!

The Martian, by Andy Weir, is the story of Mark Watney, an astronaut who is a part of the crew of the third manned mission to Mars. He gets accidentally left behind on Mars when his crew mates are forced to abort mission due to a severe sand storm, during which, he gets impaled by a communications antenna and is presumed to be dead. He survives that one accident by sheer luck, but luck alone is not going to help him last FOUR years on that barren planet, with the limited supplies he has on hand, until he can be rescued by the next manned mission to Mars.

As Watney says in the book -

"In the face of overwhelming odds, I'm left with only one option, I'm gonna have to science the shit out of this."

Luckily for him, he happens to be the botanist and the "Mr. Fix-It" for that mission, and his knowledge of botany and mechanical engineering is what's going to save him.

Another thing working in his favor is his attitude - his natural disposition towards making light of stressful situations with humor. He knows there is a high possibility of his dying there, but he doesn't spend too much time feeding that thought in his mind. Instead, he is all business-like, focusing all his attention on solving one problem after the other. Weir has portrayed him as an intelligent, funny, witty and a mentally strong and extremely outcome-oriented person, not easily swayed by fear and despair.

This is how he handles the ROUTINE FEAR that comes with his unique circumstances (of being stranded on Mars)...

“I’ll be playing with high-voltage power tomorrow. Can’t imagine anything going wrong with that!”
“From this, I concluded the following:
    1. I’ve been in a dust storm for several sols.
    2. Shit.”
“Just once I’d like something to go as planned, ya know?”

And this is him at the EXTREME depth of despair...


You know what!? Fuck this! Fuck this airlock, fuck that Hab, and fuck this whole planet!
Seriously, this is it! I've had it! I've got a few minutes before I run out of air and I'll be damned if I spend them playing Mars's little game. I'm so god damned sick of it I could puke!
All I have to do is sit here. The air will leak out and I'll die.
I'll be done. No more getting my hopes up, no more self-delusion, and no more problem-solving. I've fucking had it!


Sigh...okay. I've had my tantrum and now I have to figure out how to stay alive.”

Mostly though, he's just making fun of everything - of his situation, of scientists, of NASA, and of course, of himself. Here are some samples of "Watneyism"...

“I started the day with some nothin’ tea. Nothin’ tea is easy to make. First, get some hot water, then add nothin’.”
“Maybe I’ll post a consumer review. 'Brought product to surface of Mars. It stopped working. 0/10.'”
“I tested the brackets by hitting them with rocks. This kind of sophistication is what we interplanetary scientists are known for.”
“One thing I have in abundance here are bags. They’re not much different from kitchen trash bags, though I’m sure they cost $50,000 because of NASA.”
“I started with a large rigid sample container (or “plastic box” to people who don’t work at NASA).”
“Also, I have duct tape. Ordinary duct tape, like you buy at a hardware store. Turns out even NASA can’t improve on duct tape.”
“I got bounced around a lot, but I’m a well-honed machine in times of crisis. As soon as the rover toppled, I curled into a ball and cowered. That’s the kind of action hero I am.”

(You know what! Maybe I'll do an entire post later on my favorite quotes from Mark Watney!)

As for the rest of the characters in the book - well, they have very short roles (naturally), but I liked them. Venkat Kapoor, the JPL guys, Mark's crew mates on Hermes, and Mindy! I specially liked Mindy Park in SatCon. She started off as a typical shy nerd, but eventually went on to become so cheeky! In fact, quite a few of the other characters also showed a marked sense of humor, which, I think now, probably ACTUALLY reflects on the author's own mental attitude, in terms of stress management and coping skills.

The Martian, by Andy Weir, has been written predominantly in the form of "logbook-style entries" by Mark Watney, interspersed with third-person accounts of what's going on back at NASA and with the rest of his crew mates. I loved that style of writing for the scenario presented in the story. What didn't work for me was the sudden non-linear approach at certain places in the book. Those random "flashbacks-in-pieces", despite being very few, disrupted the natural flow of the book and seemed unnecessary.

But the amount of research Weir has put in the book is clearly visible and makes the story completely plausible and realistic. This is hardcore science fiction, and parts of it can seem really complicated to those not interested in so much science. But I liked it. All those problems related to mass, weight, speed and time etc. took me back to my Physics classes in school. The plot moved along at a brisk pace. One problem after another, combined with Watney's own brand of humor.

I loved the book more than the movie, even though Ridley Scott and the entire movie-adaptation team did a pretty decent job on it, but they left out a major portion of the book from the movie, which has many more problems for Watney to solve, and kind of demonstrates the FULL depth of his perseverance and grit. The movie doesn't quite seem to do enough justice to Watney's character, AFTER you've read the book. So, every time I watch the movie again now, I just have to re-read the book too!

My rating: 4.5 out of 5. The Martian, by Andy Weir, is probably the best science fiction I read in a very long time! Highly recommended for all sci-fi lovers. It will suck you into the world of Mark Watney and will leave you in a "hangover" that could last for weeks YEARS!

P.S. - I first published this review over 6 years ago, on my old blog, and even today, I still think of Mark Watney every time I cook potatoes!

P.S. 2 - You won't understand the reference to "potatoes" if you have neither read the book, nor seen the movie! (Does such a person even exist anymore on the internet?)

P.S. 3 - (If the answer to the above question is in "affirmative", then...) Yes! I DELIBERATELY mentioned the "potatoes" because I WANT you to read the book AND watch the movie! :D

Buy this book from: Amazon.in | Amazon.com
Check out other books by Andy Weir on: Amazon.in | Amazon.com
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10 Lessons I Learnt From Starting My Own Business

10 Lessons I Learnt From Starting My Own Business

Entrepreneurship comes with a HUUUGE set of learnings... a very DIVERSE set of learnings. It is nothing like a job or a profession, where you keep gaining expertise in one specific domain or skill... rather it is more like an ALL-ROUNDER training, where you get to learn how to handle many different things at the same time. Especially if it is a DIY kind of micro business, wherein...

  • YOU are the policymaker sitting at the very top, charting the course of your business - what products/services you will offer, what consumer segments you will cater to, when you will diversify, what areas will you consolidate away from...
  • You are ALSO the frontline executive, the "face of your business" - doing the same routine tasks day-in and day-out, handling the customers/clients, answering their queries, making the sales, providing the support, maintaining the customer relations...
  • AND you are EVERYTHING in between - the "middle management", translating the business goals and policies into ground-level actionables, handling "situations" when they "blow up" or "show up", doing damage control when required, maintaining a balance between the needs of the "business" and the "business person/s".

Yupp. You get to put on a whole lot of different hats, play many different roles, as an entrepreneur. I shared my FIRST 10 lessons in entrepreneurship, soon after starting my own retail business, and then I updated the list and republished it 3 years later (on 28th February, 2017). Sharing it below on this new blog as well...

. . .

This is what I posted three years ago (in March 2014), when I'd just started my store... 10 lessons I learnt from starting my own business. Three years later, as I go through this list again, I realize that most of these points still hold true, while for some, let's just say "I've become wiser with age". So re-blogging this post with the changes highlighted in green.

Over the course of my very new and still-very-brief 3-year-long entrepreneurial journey, I've learnt some important lessons. While most of these apply to entrepreneurship in general, a few are specific to small-scale retail business only. Journaling them here, as I'm sure I will enjoy going through them some day in the future.

Lessons Learnt Along My Retail Entrepreneurship Journey

10 Life Lessons I Learnt From Retail Entrepreneurship

  1. Every single morning, especially in winters, there WILL be a few minutes when you will ask yourself - "Why did I have to start this business when I could comfortably work from my home?" But after you spend your first summer at your store, in the sticky heat, with all the mosquitoes and various other kinds of bugs, you'll realize that winters were a piece of cake!

  2. You will soon realize that doing all the domestic chores (viz. cleaning the house, the dishes, the laundry etc.) on your own is much faster than waiting indefinitely for the maid to show up! But if you DO get a maid who comes on time and doesn't take unscheduled leaves, then there is nothing like it!

  3. Fast food, take-aways and eat-outs will no longer tempt you. On the contrary, you will crave solid home-cooked food. Especially if your body is still recuperating from serious illness. Even the tea-time biscuits will gradually lose their charm.

  4. Those meal-time movie sessions with your Dad will soon become a thing of the past! (Those good ol' days! Siggghhhhh!) But, if you keep your laptop stocked-up with some movies, you might get to watch them at the shop, when business is slow. (Which is definitely bound to happen whenever holidays fall close to weekends! Do all retail business owners hate holidays as much as I do?)

  5. You will become "brutal" at prioritizing! Where to spend money first, what expenses to postpone. Even at home, your "to-do-list" will be numbered! (Preparing the day's meals is STILL my current "number one" priority! You really can't do much through the day if you haven't taken care of the meals first and got them out of your way.)

  6. You will realize that the retail business comes with a serious social obligation. Once you open a shop, you simply CANNOT take an unscheduled off any time you please. It can COMPLETELY disrupt the entire day's schedule of your customer! However, you CAN change your schedule completely, if you allow for a brief transition period to inform your customers, and put up prominent notices about the change. Oh, and if you don't keep making changes repeatedly!

  7. Your work hours in the evening will stretch further and further, until you start returning home so late that all you have time left to do is to make the chapatis for dinner, eat, and sleep! In fact, very soon you will find yourself watching "excerpts" of your favorite TV show - Dance India Dance - in "news updates", during lunch break! (LOL! I'm exaggerating that bit! There are no D.I.D. updates in the news these days... it's all just politics mostly.) But, after a few months of this late-night schedule, the stress will start showing in your body and in your productivity, and you'll be forced to cut-back to a healthier work routine, even if it comes at a loss of good business.

  8. Socializing will soon be restricted to phone conversations, WhatsApp interactions, and Facebook chats, and even those will be interspersed with loads of "customer-breaks"! And personal emails that were once-upon-a-time replied to within 24 hours, will now sit in your inbox for days! And even after three years, you cannot find a way to change this. Bottomline: Small-scale retail business leaves you with no social life.

  9. You will still not be able to differentiate between weekdays and weekends, as previously, each day was like a holiday, and now each day is working! Only till you realize that you are NOT a machine, and that you NEED at least one weekly off, even if it makes some of your customers very unhappy.

  10. Every single day, there will be AT LEAST one customer whose smile and heart-felt thanks will make you feel glad that you opened this shop! Despite the less-than-ideal working conditions. Despite the shoplifters (very rare, but very real nonetheless). Despite those handful of uncivilized people who believe it is their right to be rude to shop-owners. (No really! A shop is a great place to observe human psychology at work.)

Dad always said that small-scale retail business is a tough job, and I can see why now. There's just not enough mental stimulation. You sure get adept at crisis-handling, but other than that, once you've put all the "systems" in place, there is really nothing new to learn after a certain point.

But I think I STILL quite enjoy it... at least MOST of the time. Perhaps that's because I'm not just selling products, I'm also doing creative stuff here. I have plenty of working space, good lighting, well-organized storage space, all the craft material and other resources I might need. AND... MOST IMPORTANTLY... I get to step out of my house and interact with some humans every day! Especially kids!

Another reason could be That's probably the main reason for me sticking with my shop for so long... the fact that most of my customers are children, and it's usually a delight interacting with kids. (Read this if you haven't already: When Kids go Shopping... Alone!) Their simple innocence gives you an entirely different perspective on life, doesn't it? You realize that life is not as complex as adults make it out to be.

. . .

Hmmmm. ALL absolutely valid entrepreneurship lessons that STILL hold true. There is just one point that I don't quite COMPLETELY agree with now. I mentioned that there is NOTHING new to learn after a certain point. I change my stand on that. The "domain" knowledge, just like in any other job or profession, keeps getting refreshed... evolving market trends, government policies, new products, new competitors even! So, you need to keep yourself up-to-date at all times.

More importantly, YOU are the decision-maker, and hence, YOU get to decide what NEW learning experiences you seek, and how you can integrate them into your existing business model. As they say, entrepreneurship is a JOURNEY. There is NO FIXED DESTINATION, just MILESTONES along the way...

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When Kids go Shopping... Alone!

When Kids go Shopping... Alone!

The best part of my retail experience has, no doubt, been my interactions with all the kids in the neighborhood. Kids of all sizes. They used to treat my shop like their home sometimes. They'd share about their school teachers, about the latest jokes they'd heard, about their favorite Marvel super-heroes, about how they'd scraped their knee or the elbow, their skating escapades or first-time-bicycle-riding adventures. They would discuss ideas for their art and craft projects, and even writing assignments! They would stand there grinning like they'd won an award, if I scolded them for something, AND they would happily scold me too if I was even a minute late in opening the store after lunch break! 😄

Gosh! I've got so many stories about my shop kids. I shared some in September 2016, on my old blog. Republishing it below...

. . .

Having a neighborhood stationery store means that more than 50% of your customers will be kids. School-going kids. Sometimes even just 4-year-olds. Shopping alone. Without any adults. The arrangement comes with its own peculiar nuances and moments that tickle your funny bone.

For instance, the time when this 7-year-old kid unclenched his fist and produced a thousand rupee note... I was like - "Woah! How DO parents give a thousand rupee note to a less-than-three-feet-tall creature, who isn't even able to calculate the amount of change due to him?" And after he was done shopping, he started walking out of my shop with his purchases in one hand and the change (worth over 900 bucks, including coins) in the other. Such a lot of change in such a tiny hand! Ufff! Scary! I had to stop him and make him shove all the money into his pockets first. 😓

Then there was this 3-year-old. He's been a visitor to my shop since I opened it, i.e. when he was still a thumb-sucking baby. He usually comes with his elder sister and they are accompanied by either their mom or their grandfather. While his sister does the shopping, he simply asks my Dad for a balloon (by pointing his chubby finger at the jar that contains balloons), and then busies himself with blowing it. The other day, he walked in by himself, while his grandpa was buying something from another shop in the market. He is so short, I didn't even see him enter the shop. Nearly jumped out of my skin when he suddenly "appeared" beside my table and said "balloon lena hai"! He then proudly placed a 5-rupee-coin on the counter, took one balloon, and started running out with a big grin on his face. Five rupees for one small balloon! So I called him back and tried to explain to him that he'll get 4 more balloons for that money. I don't think he understood that though, he was already too busy blowing the first one! Eventually, I just stuffed 4 more balloons inside his pockets... and he ran out with an even bigger grin! 😁

There are also those kids who spend almost all of their pocket-money on stationery. (They're my favorites... NATURALLY! 😝) Sometimes they come with 100 rupees, sometimes with 500, and they have to spend it ALL. No taking back any change. And naturally, their shopping cart always exceeds the amount of cash they have. Then I'm supposed to do the math for them... help them prioritise their shopping list and remove items they can't afford that day, in a way that they don't have to carry any change back! (THAT is totally non-negotiable, as I said.)

Then there are all the "puzzles" that we've had to solve in the last 2.5 years.

For example, a "rule" is not a "ruler" here, but a "pencil". And "drawing" can mean any of the following:

  1. drawing notebook
  2. drawing sheets
  3. coloring book
  4. colors
  5. drawing box (pencil box)
  6. and once it even meant the photocopy of a drawing from one of the coloring books in my shop! 😳


One time, there was this kid who wanted pins for "the machine used for covering notebooks". Dad and I were stumped. They'd invented a machine for covering notebooks! 😮 Wow! In our days, we had to do it all by hand! Turned out that he just wanted a box of stapler pins after all. And please don't ask me how we figured that one out finally!

Pins are, anyway, quite puzzling. There are staples of course, and then there are also drawing pins, safety pins, gem clips and three different varieties of push pins. Kids usually just ask for "pins". After that, we play "20 questions". 😏

We play "20 questions" a lot actually.

And what happens when even that doesn't work?

Well, these kids are smart. They know what they want, and they know how to get it...

For instance, the one who came in the morning today. He's probably 5 years old. Doesn't speak very clearly. Today, he asked for what sounded like "two apple waali copies". Dad asked him - "English copy?" He said no. I asked him - "four-line copy". He again said no. I asked him to come closer and repeat what he wanted. It still sounded like "apple waali copies". Eventually, he just walked around the counter, to the shelf with the school notebooks, and found it himself. Four-line English notebooks. ("A for apple". Get it?)

I know! And people think running a shop is easy!

. . .

LOL! Definitely NOT easy... nope, your 9 to 5 job would be better suited for that... or even one with rotating shifts, AND involving the "graveyard shift" too! (And I can say that for a fact, because I've had a taste of both!)

No, running a neighborhood retail store is a whole different ball-game altogether, but it does give you a steep learning curve. I shared some of the lessons I learnt, soon after I started this business, and then I revisited the list three years later, and updated it. You can check out that post here - 10 Lessons I Learnt From Starting My Own Business.

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You remember, a while back, I shared the list of my 10 most favorite English TV shows from the 1900s? Doogie Howser M.D. was one of them - the show about the 16-year-old medical genius, Douglas Howser, and his best friend, Vincent Delpino.

I kind of ended up liking Vinnie more than Doogie. Despite all his obvious "flaws" and "shortcomings" (that actually make him all the more relatable, in fact!), his insights and perspectives about most things in the Universe are just so astute.

For example, the following quote...


"One of the great mysteries of life... you gotta have a license to be a bus driver, but any lunatic can become a parent!"

- Vinnie Delpino
(Doogie Howser Season 2)

There are a lot of things I'd like to say on the topic of parenting, but, not today, for today is a day for sharing my digital artwork.

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Funny Indian Trucks!

Funny Indian Trucks!

Do you ever bother to read those slogans on the rear-end of trucks on the roads? I do. I read everything. At least everything I can get my eyes on. And reading truck slogans is one of my favorite time-pass activity if I'm sitting on the front-passenger seat in a car.

One time, at a traffic signal here in Jaipur, I read such an exceptionally funny and witty slogan on the back of the truck in front of us, that I just couldn't resist taking a picture of it through the windshield!

Here check it out... and DO pay special attention to the text highlighted by the two arrows on the sides, okay...


If you're not a Hindi-reading person, let me know in the comments, and I will share the English translation, which will probably not be as punchy as the original statement, but still...

But if you DID get it, well... good capture na? [wink!] Hahaha!

So, tell me quickly now... did YOU fall in love? Hahahahahaha!
Tell fast... in the comments below... DID YOU? 🤣😂😜

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People Profiling

People Profiling

We interact with so many different people over the course of our life, don't we? Some tend to remain brief casual acquaintances, like tiny specs of dust on the windshield of our life, which would, sooner or later, get blown away by the winds of time, while some end up becoming permanent fixtures, like those windshield-wipers, to go hand-in-hand with us, throughout our life journey. And then there are those who remain somewhere in between the two ends of that spectrum...

Regardless of our level and depth of acquaintance with them, we automatically tend to categorize, or profile, them -- even if at a very broad level -- because that's how we make sense of the world around us, that's how we understand stuff -- by generalizing and categorizing.

So, here's some random "people profiling" I happened to do, back in November 2012, to make sense of the people I had come across in my life till then. As I was going through this write-up on my old blog, I realized that I would STILL categorize the people I've met so far, in more-or-less the same way.

Random Profiling of The People I've Come Across In Life

  1. There are people who seem to remain at peace with the Universe, no matter what the Universe throws at them. They are quick to smile at the slightest reason, laugh openly and whole-heartedly, and usually manage to say/do something nice to/for you.

  2. And there are people who naturally jump to the assumption that the people in the category mentioned above have everything. "If you aren't complaining about your life, then it MUST be perfect!"

  3. Then there are people who just DON'T KNOW how to be happy. They can never appreciate the beautiful gifts the Universe has given them, and they keep blaming everything/everyone around them for their unhappiness.

  4. Then again, there are people who PRETEND their life is a fantastic roller-coaster ride... while in reality their relationships might be stretched to the point of breaking, their finances may be hitting the very rock bottoms, and the combined effect of the two taking a serious toll on their health!

  5. AND, there are people who start acting really weird if they PERCEIVE that you have what they lack... popularity, success, respect, admiration, me-time, witty disposition... you name it! In fact, interactions with them could actually leave you feeling GUILTY, for having whatever they think they don't have! (I know... that's why I said "weird"!) And if you happen to be in the first category, you might also be left wondering what hit you! You could even start HIDING the good parts of your personality and your life!

  6. And finally, there are people who believe that nobody's life is perfect, that nobody has everything, and that everybody is just putting on masks for the world most of the time... DIFFERENT masks, for different 'segments' of the world, at different times.


So, these were the different profile categories, at a very broad level, that I sorted the people I'd come across in life, into. Naturally, YOUR profiling could be different from this, based on how YOU make sense of your world. Also, by no means is this an "either-or" kind of list, 'coz that would be making it just TOO simplistic. I've met people who fell into more than one of these categories at the same time. In fact, I would classify MYSELF in more than one of these categories, at least at the time of publishing this post.

How about you?
Which of these categories would you profile yourself in?
What other different categories would you like to add to this list?

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