THE UPSTAIRS WIFE

The Upstairs Wife Book Cover The Upstairs Wife
Rafia Zakaria
Beacon Press
2016-01
264

The Upstairs Wife entwines two emotional stories and unfolds them in a brilliant manner. The main story revolves around Amina and her husband Sohail but in their shadows is the history of Pakistan itself. Later the history of Pakistan, the conflicts, the revolts, takes over the book and the story of Amina goes in the hiding.

Written by Rafia Zakaria, an attorney and political philosopher and a regular columnist to Al Jazeera and Dawn News, this is one book you don’t want to put down.

The book begins with Rafia’s family eagerly waiting to hear the news of her Aunt Amina’s husband but a bigger news breaks. The death of Pakistani Political leader Benazir Bhutto . What follows are riots and turbulence in the country.

The book goes back to Amina coming back to her father’s, as her husband, Sohail has decided to take another wife. Bear it in mind that at that time polygamy was not that common. Rafia at that age thought that a man could not have two wife. Amina is broken and the family, humiliated.

The book then goes further  back to the creation of Pakistan infact waay before the time of partition. A great deal of information is provided on the events which lead to the partition and its aftermath.

The story of Amina and Pakistan go on in a non-linear manner. She eventually is sent back to live with her husband. There is a partition in the house and both the wives live on separate floors. The life of Amina is woven with stories of Pakistan.

This book provided information which I didn’t know about. For example, one of the main reasons for Pakistan-Bangladesh split was the Bhola Cyclone.  Also I didn’t know a lot about PNS Ghazi and the mystery which surrounds it.

What sets this book apart from other history books, is in the intimate details. The focus is not on the ruthless or oppressive policies but its effects on the people. Once a land full of hopes and dreams is now dwindling.

The only flaw in the book is that it does not go in a linear manner and the personal and political events have nothing in common. But overall I think it is a brilliant book which delves into migration, coups, riots, political traumas. The sad part is that women no matter how powerful are  powerless in the face of laws and policies. Sad that such dreadful things happen in this day and age.

The Upstairs Wife: An Intimate History of Pakistan is beautifully told and is highly recommended.

Till then,

Keep Reading 🙂

 

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END OF YEAR GIFT IDEAS FOR TEACHERS

Last week was my younger son’s graduation. His teachers worked so hard, year around that I really wanted to give them something special as a token of thanks. And so began my internet search for gifts ideas.

The most important thing when planning farewell/ graduation/ appreciation gifts, is to have a budget or else you might end up over spending. Also adding a little note or a hand drawn card by your kid works like magic dust and makes things unforgettable.

The internet is loaded with ideas. Some are pretty simple while others tend to be too elaborate. Here are a few ideas. Click on the pictures and it will take you directly to the concerned website.

 

SUCCULENTS/POTTED PLANTS WITH OR WITHOUT GIFT CARDS:

This is something which I personally did. It is simple yet adds  kind of a pleasant personal touch.  You can add a gift card or just add a sweet personal note for the teacher.

 

 

 

 

 

This is what our gift looked like. Succulents in a beautiful pot with a gift card and a hand written note from my son.

 

TEA/COFFEE GIFT CARD WITH A CUTE MUG:

When in doubt, choose tea or coffee. Get a cute mug or tumbler. Add a gift card or some teabags/coffee sachets and wrap it all up with a personalized note. Voila! You have a perfect gift.

 

 

 

 

HAND SOAP/LOTION/BODYWASH/SPA CARD WITH CUTE TAGS:

Who doesn’t get mesmerized by the indulgent hand lotions, body wash smells. Dress them up, add a handmade card and you have a clean gift 🙂

 

 

 

SCARFS/ JEWLLERY:

Scarfs and small trinkets are always welcomed by the teachers as you can never have many scarfs. Discreetly ask the teacher her favorite color or jewelry item and surprise her all  boxed up in a beautiful wrap.

 

 

 

COLLECTIVE GIFT FROM THE CLASS:

Instead of giving individual gifts, all parents can pool in money and give one big gift card bouquet from the entire class. We did this last year and it was a biiiig hit.

 

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HASAN MINHAJ: HOMECOMING KING

homecoming king hasan minhaj

Hasan Minhaj is a writer, comedian, actor but is mainly known for his political satire.

He is a senior correspondent on  “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” and recently hosted the White House Correspondent’s Dinner (WHCD) for which he got much applause since it was a hard gig to pull off without the presence of the President himself.

Homecoming King is his first stand-up special aired on Netflix,  in which he mainly talks about what it is like to be an immigrant in America. The show is the story of his life, lit with photos and seasoned with Urdu/Hindi phrases which makes it more entertaining.

From pressures of immigrant parents to being bullied at school, to the aftermath of 9/11 and so on and so forth, this is one comedy which is totally relatable to anyone belonging to the South Asian Belt. I totally understand that it might not seem funny to people who don’t share the same cultural background but it will be interesting and educational for them.

The main reason why I really enjoyed the show was that it wasn’t full of the typical desi style humor or simply talking in a different accent. Hasan covers harsh topics like racism, bullying, effects of 9/11 on immigrants in a light tone.

The stories are simple and to be honest not something unheard of, but what sets him aside is the impeccable timing, dialogue delivery and the way he keeps the audience smiling by either squeezing in a joke here and there or by showing photos which make it personal. Yes, there are times when the show falls flat but overall as a first time comedy special, Hasan has done a good job.

Head over to Netflix to watch the special.

 

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A CHILD OF BOOKS

a child of books

A Child of Books is the story about a girl with no name, who sails her raft on a sea of words and arrives at the house of a boy who is lonely. Since he doesn’t like to read, he feels forgotten and bored. She then invites him to join her on an adventure.

A CHILD OF BOOKS

Together, they go on an adventure climbing mountains of Peter Pan typography, playing hide and seek in the forests where the tree trunks are books and the branches are made up of classic fairy tales, escape monsters and much much more.

A CHILD OF BOOKS

In the beginning of the book there are bland colors depicting lack of imagination but as their creativity grows we start seeing a pop of color here and there until there is a Big-Bang-Bloom of colors.

A CHILD OF BOOKS

In the end the boy returns to a much colorful home, happy with a book tugged under his arms and an army of words trailing behind him.

Throughout the book, the images are made up of words. The water is words, the path is words, the clouds are words, even the shout is words. The best part is that these are not just any random words but each image depicts a classic fairytale.

The true message of the book is that you are never alone if you get in the habit of reading. As you open a book, you enter a new realm and since imagination and fantasy has no bound you will never be bored.

I love that there is a key on the last page with a tag reading “FOR IMAGINATION IS FREE”…… .

So true! All you have to do its open the lock of your mind and flow with the flow.

a child of books

To buy the book vis Amazon click the link  A Child of Books.

The prose style poetry and the illustrations by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston are charming and enchanting.  The kids will enjoy this book due to the illustrations but the adults will love it for the message it brings.

Perfect bedtime book for both adults and kids, one which you will want to look/read over and over again.

Till then,

Happy Reading 🙂

 

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Book Review: THE LAND OF STORIES

If you or your kids love fairytales, action and fantasy then Land of Stories is just for you.

Written by the Glee actor, Chris Colfer, this is one series which will keep you coming back for more.

LAnd of stories chris colfer

This modern day fairy tale follows the adventures of twins Alex and Conner Bailey.

When the twins find out that the fairy tale book given to them as a birthday gift by their Grandmother is actually a portal between the real and fantasy world they jump right in. What follows is an action packed adventure and a series of encounters with Evil Witches, Trolls, Goblins, Wolves and much much more.

All the fairytale characters like Red Riding Hood, Prince Charming, Mother Goose, the Snow Queen are presented in an astounding way and there are some evil villains to fight too as the series develops over the course of 5 books:

The Wishing Spell (The Land of Stories)

The Land of Stories: An Author’s Odyssey

The Land of Stories: A Grimm Warning

The Land of Stories: Beyond the Kingdoms

The Land of Stories: An Author’s Odyssey

The Land of Stories: Worlds Collide (Pre-Order, Releasing in July 2017)

 

Colfer also introduces some new fairytale characters which adds more pizzaz to the story. To make it more interesting there are maps and timelines in each book which give the reader an idea of how the story will progress.

 

Map “The Wishing Spell”

 

I enjoyed the books and so did my 10 year old, so I can safely say that this series is a fun read for both boys and girls of all ages. My web search revealed the age range for this series is from 9 years to 49 years 🙂

As an adult I will say that I found the writing to be a wee bit childish and it seemed that the editing wasn’t that good either but for my 10 year old it was “Just Perfect”.

 

Story Timeline in Grimm Warning

 

Get your kid the first book and if they like it, order the rest of the series. To order the whole set off Amazon click the link below:

The Land of Stories Hardcover Gift Set

 Embark on a thrilling fairytale journey where every adventure is more exciting than the previous one…trust me you won’t be disappointed 🙂

 

 

 

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WEB VOYAGE?

sand

Before you start googling what the hell web voyage is, let me tell you right now….

It’s the web surfing or I should rather say jumping from one website to another, either trying to pass time when stuck in a boring situation or when you can’t sleep or when the TV is on but you need something more or when you are waiting in the carpool lane or in the bathroom…..get the idea?

It is during these online journey’s of mine, that I usually find gold. Not in the literal sense but metaphorically or else I would have been a millionaire by now…:)

Sometimes my digital escapades include must see places around the globe while other times it’s a satirical article. Sometimes a biography while other times the breath-taking interiors of homes and so on….

So once a while, let me take you with me on my Web Voyage and lets cry…. laugh….get scared…..hold our breath….be amused…..be awed together and have fun 🙂

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LET THEM EAT DIRT

Let Them Eat Dirt Book Cover Let Them Eat Dirt
B. Brett Finlay, Marie-Claire Arrieta,
Family & Relationships
Algonquin Books
September 20, 2016
304

LET THEM EAT DIRT: Saving Your Child from an Over sanitized World

 

As far as I can remember, most of my childhood was spent playing with dirt. Afterschool me and my siblings would go out in the backyard and play with dirt. We would mix it with water and make figurines out of the mud. It was the best time of the day. By the time we would be called in for snacks, we were mostly covered in mud ….. on the clothes, hands, arms, hair, feet…..

Were my parents worried?….Nopes

Were we told NOT to play in mud?….Absolutely

Did we listen?…..Nopes

Did we get a bath later?…..Scrubbed to the last finger nail

Most importantly…..Did we get sick???

No!

I was really attracted to the title of the book and wanted to find out how the author defends that playing or more importantly eating dirt does not make you sick.

This is a perfect book for parents, teachers or anyone who plans to have a baby in the future and wants to educate themselves with what is Human Microbiota.

 With the various antibiotics, vaccines, hand sanitizers and other techniques there has been a decrease in the spread of diseases and surely human life span has increased but on the other hand we are seeing surge in allergies, asthma, autoimmune disorders, autism. The author tries to relate the increase in these diseases to over sanitization and a loss of good bacteria.

There is a deep focus on pregnancy, delivery and breast-feeding and even if you are past that stage this book helps to understand why are kids so prone to allergies now days.

At the end of each chapter are important do’s and don’ts  which make the takeaway from each chapter really easy.

There are a lot of reputations in the book which at times becomes boring. Also if you have already read a bit about microbiome, then there is nothing new in this book. You will find it like a refresher course.

Overall I think the authors did a fantastic job in explaining the problem, I really wished that they would have provided some practical steps which one could readily upon completion of the book. Anyways, I still think it is a good informative read and a nice collection to your health library.

 

 

 

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SEVEN BRIEF LESSONS ON PHYSICS

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics Book Cover Seven Brief Lessons on Physics
Carlo Rovelli
Riverhead Books (Hardcover)
March 1, 2016
96

SEVEN BRIEF LESSONS ON PHYSICS

First of all let me start off by saying "Gorgeous, gorgeous cover art". It was one of the many reasons I picked up this book.

Now onto the book itself.

There are 7 brief lessons on different topics in physics like Quanta, Particles, Probability,  Black Holes and so on. The author Carlo Rovelli, founder of Loop Quantum Gravity Theory has tried to simplify the lessons as much as possible but they are still complex and intricate.

Don't get be wrong, my curiosity was raised and I really wanted to dig deeper and get a good grip of the topics being discussed. Despite having a background in Science I found this book to be heavy and I am sure that  a layman will have a really hard time understanding the lessons.

This book can be treated like a sample menu where you get to try bite size pieces of everything and then you decide which one you like the best. Each lesson is deeper than the previous one and trust me there will be at least one, which you will want to know more about.

The subject is powerful in itself but the words do complete justice and are equally resonating. Some lessons were more interesting than the others. I really wished that there were some newer findings covered too as this book only covers theories through ages.

Overall it is a decent book. Definitely not the best one out there. If you want a brief , brief,  walk through different theories Physics has to offer over the ages then do read this book. Under 100 pages, it wont take you long to read but will leave you yearning for more.

 

 

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ELON MUSK- Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

Elon Musk Book Cover Elon Musk
Ashlee Vance
Biography & Autobiography
Ecco
May 19, 2015
400

Simply "WOW" . What a visionary.

The author Ashlee Vance has done a remarkable job in bringing out the real Elon Musk and shown it to the world. There are both larger than life and nasty, ugly shades to his personality.

The book is a detailed journey of Elon Musk's personal and professional life. It starts off with a detailed account of his parents, how they met, their relationship, Elon's childhood and the apartheid.

He has two other siblings, a brother and a sister. As a kid he was not social and was distant.  He was a genius from a very young age and way advanced in academics than most of the kids around him. He was often pick upon for being different.

The book moves on to explain how he left for Canada, the harsh conditions and how he worked really hard to find a way to America and  into earning enough money to work towards his dreams.

When people make a fortune they usually retire or spend a luxurious life from the money they make. Elon Musk on the other hand invested his fortune from PayPal into other projects so technically he wasn't a millionaire.  He loved taking risks.

In 2003 he bought into Tesla which at that time was a struggling company. He faced a lot of challenge from the big car companies all over America and a lot of times he was almost bankrupt. But he didn't give up. It was interesting to read that he did not have a smooth sailing to Tesla's success. Whatever you could imagine could go wrong, did actually go wrong. But he worked hard and where Tesla is now, we all know.

Tesla wasn't his sole interest. There were parallel projects like Solar City and rocket project Space X.

Solar City was the brain child of his enterprising cousins. Today it is the largest solar utilities in America. Not only is he using it to charge Tesla but now Solar City is charging homes and factories all over America,

But the biggest and the most awesome project is Space X.  Developing a rocket which could not only make its way back into Earth and but also be re-used. Can you imagine, the company has already achieved this goal. Now it's launching a capsule to not only carry cargo but humans onto Mars. But it doesn't end there, he wants to build a permanent human colony on Mars.

Imagine!

There are other major projects in pipeline which the book just touches but we hear about them on the news like the tube train "HyperLoop" which will connect major cities via tubes and the travel time will be reduced by more than 3 times.

The book also delves into his personal life. His marriages, children, ugly divorces, extravagant lifestyle but that fades out in comparison to what he has and is offering to the humanity.

He has a big ego but imagine a larger than life guy, a computer wiz, an entrepreneur, a visionary someone on whom Tony Stark A.K.A Iron Man's character is based...how can you imagine such a guy to be typical. What he promises to the world, he delivers. Isn't that huge?

If you are a dreamer, a future entrepreneur, an engineer or someone who simply likes to believe, than this book is for you. You will close it on a positive note with lots of energy and a desire to do something good for the environment.

 

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THE FOOD LAB

The Food Lab Book Cover The Food Lab
J. Kenji Lopez-Alt
Cooking
W. W. Norton
September 21, 2015
938

A few years ago I stumbled on an amazing YouTube channel called “SERIOUS EATS“. As the name suggests, it’s a channel about food. Last year they started a new series called “THE FOOD LAB” hosted by J. Kenji López-Alt. It is a series which discusses the science of cooking food. What happens from the moment the steak hits the grill and how can use the scientific knowledge for a perfect end result, every time.  With so much food knowledge and culinary experience, a cookbook by Kenji had to happen.

THE FOOD LAB: Better Home Cooking Through Science, is a compilation of more than 250 savory American Cuisine dishes by J. Kenji López-Alt. It is a think, hard bound book which calls for undivided attention and a cup of tea to enjoy.

The book is full of useful charts, substitutions and step-by-step photographs. The photographs are very informative and beautiful and like me you will spend a long time just looking at them. It not only has recipes , but covers all the essentials of a fully stocked kitchen.

You will learn the necessary pots and pans needed for a kitchen along with the essential kitchen tools. This book helped me find out which kind of knife was I missing and its purpose.

The step-by-step photos are extremely helpful when following a recipe as the visual aspect makes it more understandable.

If you are a serious cook and want to add a savory kitchen recipes treasure to your collection, this cookbook is just for you. Just remember that it only has savory recipes. With relatable stories from the author and scientific detailed to back up each recipe, this is one cookbook you will end up learning a lot from.

Mac & Cheese Recipe from the book
Mac & Cheese Recipe from the book

 

 

Knife Skills as mentioned in the book
Knife Skills to carve chicken as mentioned in the book

 

 

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