Men Watch Women. Women Watch Themselves Being Looked at.

I saw this documentary by John Berger, Way of Seeing, a few years ago;
and I keep remembering what he said about the vanity of women. He said, “Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. ” Which is true sometimes. Some women like being adored or admired more than being loved. Sure it is an awesome feeling being admired but as I was just thinking the other night, it is really nothing compared to the feeling of being loved.

Here is the whole qoute by John Berger from the docu and the book, Way of Seeing:

“To be born a woman has to be born, within an allotted and confined space, into the keeping of men. The social presence of women is developed as a result of their ingenuity in living under such tutelage within such a limited space. But this has been at the cost of a woman’s self being split into two. A woman must continually watch herself. She is almost continually accompanied by her own image of herself. Whilst she is walking across a room or whilst she is weeping at the death of her father, she can scarcely avoid envisaging herself walking or weeping. From earliest childhood she has been taught and persuaded to survey herself continually. And so she comes to consider the surveyor and the surveyed within her as the two constituent yet always distinct elements of her identity as a woman. She has to survey everything she is and everything she does because how she appears to men, is of crucial importance for what is normally thought of as the success of her life. Her own sense of being in herself is supplanted by a sense of being appreciated as herself by another….One might simplify this by saying: men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyor of woman in herself is male: the surveyed female. Thus she turns herself into an object — and most particularly an object of vision: a sight.”

My Collection Of Beautifully Illustrated Children’s Book

When I was a young girl I was not particularly fond of reading children’s books. I could not wait to read books without pictures. But recently, since I’ve started illustrating children’s stories, illustrated children’s books caught my interest. I started with a couple of books by Oliver Jeffers. BeforeI knew it, I was hooked. I just got to have a copy of all of these beautifully illustrated children’s books from all over the world. Now, I am in love and fascinated with my rapidly expanding collection.

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My most favorite book in my collection is, The House In The Night , written by Susan Marie Swanson and illustrated by Beth Krommes.

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This lovely book is very special, poignant and sweet. I love, love the illustrations. They are gorgeous.

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Today, Flotsam by David Weisner arrived in the mail. ( Thank you Amazon.com for your exceptional service here in India.)

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The book has no words or text but the story is beautifully told through a series of illustrations like a short silent film. I am enthralled.

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Oliver Jeffer’s books are also so charming . I have two, Stuck and The Incredible Book Eating Boy. I love how metaphorically fun his stories are.

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I have also found two amazing books by Indian Authors, The Honey Hunter and Following My Paint Brush. The Honey Hunter is a retelling of a popular Indian folk tale. Following My Paint Brush is an illustrated biography of a domestic helper and a fisherman’s daughter who became an artist. Both charming and lovely books.

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What Pete Ate From A-Z by Maira Kalman is also a fun filled book with beautiful illustrations. Pete is so naughty and cute. I love how each illustrations look like paintings.

I also have Animalia and Waterhole by Graeme Base.marian kalman

Kay Nielsen and Harry Clarke are my all time favorite illustrators. I was able to get a copy of Kay Nielsen’s illustrations collection but Harry Clarke’s books are far too expensive. I begged my husband to search for a less expensive copy of any Harry Clarke illustrated books on his trip to Europe. I am crossing my fingers.

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I have ordered a few more books for my collection, The Arrival by Shaun Tan, The Garden Of Abdul Gasazi by Chris Van Allsburg, The Three Pigs by David Weisner and two more books by Graeme Base. I can’t wait to read these books!

I am also checking books by Sophie Blackall and Adrienne Adams.

If you would like to recommend a book to add to my collection, please leave a suggestion in the comment box below. I would be grateful to hear about a beautifully illustrated book I don’t know about.

Thank you!

 

That Sunday Afternoon When I Was Speechless In front of Arundhati Roy

The ray of the midday sun was blistering as my husband and I went out of the restaurant but we were not minding it at all. We were having an enjoyable Sunday . Also, we just had a delicious Italian lunch and a delectable cheesecake platter for dessert amidst jokes and banter. Hand in hand we strolled along the shops of a popular South Delhi shopping complex. We were about to enter a bookshop when I felt my husband tugging my hand urgently.

” Honey!” He exclaimed. Half of his body was still outside the glass door of the shop.

I turned to look back and saw him greet a woman who was walking past the shop with a tall man.

I was about to greet them also, thinking they were some artist friends of his but when the woman turned her head towards me, I felt a jolt of recognition.

” Oh, it’s Arundhati Roy! ” I exclaimed excitedly. I felt so embarrassed afterwards but still could not believe that I saw one of my favorite authors. You know what a book nut I am. I feel like a groupie of a rockstar band. Arundhati Roy wrote The God of Small Things and Listening To The Grasshoppers. She won Booker Man Prize for the God of Small Things but she gave away the prize money and royalties from the book to a group, protesting about the construction of a dam that will destroy their village. She was also a staunch defender of the Maoist rebels’ human rights which almost placed her life and liberty in danger. As my husband said, ” That woman has balls.” Continue reading

Time And Being

“Tomorrow I will die in battle,” said Captain Crow.

Montaigne wrote that death itself is nothing. It is only the fear of death that makes death seem

important. Am I afraid? Certainly, and yet . . .

“Que sais-je?” Montaigne asked. The answer is nothing. In reality, I know nothing.

And yet, at night I lie on my bed, counting my beads, one for every thing on earth I love, on and on,

in a circle without end.

– Tale For The Time Being, Ruth Ozeki

A Tale For The Time Being By Ruth Ozeki

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For the time being, standing on the tallest mountaintop,
For the time being, moving on the deepest ocean floor,
For the time being, a demon with three heads and eight arms,
For the time being, the golden sixteen-foot body of a buddha,
For the time being, a monk’s staff or a master’s fly-swatter,
For the time being, a pillar or a lantern,
For the time being, any Dick or Jane,
For the time being, the entire earth and the boundless sky
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—Dōgen Zenji, “For the Time Being”

Iam currently reading A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki and like Italo Calvino’s If On A Winter Night A Traveler, the book opens with a thought of it being read, speculating on what the reader was doing or thinking while reading the book.

if you’re reading this, then maybe by now you’re wondering about me, too.
You wonder about me.
I wonder about you.
Who are you and what are you doing?
Are you in a New York subway car hanging from a strap, or soaking in your hot tub in Sunnyvale?
Are you sunbathing on a sandy beach in Phuket, or having your toenails buffed in Brighton?
Are you a male or a female or somewhere in between?
Is your girlfriend cooking you a yummy dinner, or are you eating cold Chinese noodles from a box?
Are you curled up with your back turned coldly toward your snoring wife, or are you eagerly waiting for your beautiful lover to finish his bath so you can make passionate love to him?
Do you have a cat and is she sitting on your lap? Does her forehead smell like cedar trees and fresh sweet air?
Actually, it doesn’t matter very much, because by the time you read this, everything will be different, and you will be nowhere in particular, flipping idly through the pages of this book, which happens to be the diary of my last days on earth, wondering if you should keep on reading.
And if you decide not to read any more, hey, no problem, because you’re not the one I was waiting for anyway. But if you do decide to read on, then guess what? You’re my kind of time being and together we’ll make magic!

Sounds interesting no? It seems this and the following pages are taken from a diary of a teenage girl. Let me read more and I will tell you all about it later on.

If the average person were to describe John Beecham in light of his murders

, he’d say he was a social outcast, but nothing could be more superficial, or more untrue. Beecham could never have turned his back on human society, nor society on him, and why? Because he was—perversely, perhaps, but utterly—tied to that society. He was its offspring, its sick conscience—a living reminder of all the hidden crimes we commit when we close ranks to live among each other. He craved human society, craved the chance to show people what their ‘society’ had done to him. And the odd thing is, society craved him, too.”

“Craved him?” I said, as we passed along the quiet perimeter of Washington Square Park. “How do you mean? They’d have shot him through with electricity if they’d had the chance.”

“Yes, but not before holding him up to the world,” Kreizler answered. “We revel in men like Beecham, Moore—they are the easy repositories of all that is dark in our very social world. But the things that helped make Beecham what he was? Those, we tolerate. Those, we even enjoy…”

—Caleb Carr, The Alienist

Heal This Broken World Please

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I thought I understand this world, but, it turns out I genuinely don’t. After a series of life-changing experiences, I secretly prided myself that I get it. I know what this life is all about. That the meaning of life depends on what it means to you. That the question of life is unique to each individual. That your life is how you project yourself into your reality. That everything takes place in your brain. That each decision in choosing the path you take is the result of how you process your life experiences in your mind. That you have a choice of how your future will shape up.

I have been living in a bubble of bliss ever since I met the love of my life. Our life together remained harmonious and happy for more than six years. Life is beautiful. Full of sunshine and laughter, inside our home. But the longer I live in this kind of misty existence, the longer I cannot ignore the chaos outside; the violence and hatred that filled the streets; greed and selfishness that lurk in every corner. Unhappiness exists. Evil exists. And they weigh heavily upon whatever it is that is beautiful in this world. Continue reading

The Golden Notebook, Not My Cup Of Tea On A Rainy Afternoon

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The heavens suffered from diuresis after a full day of intense heat and humidity. The asphalt road sizzled as the unceasing rain poured into it. I was brewing tea when all of a sudden all the water from the sky came down with a vengeance. Babar, my dog, and I rushed towards the front door. The amount of downpour washing away the dust in the air of this arid city is a beautiful sight. Babar wagged his tail excitedly and I was smiling ear to ear. We both love the rain. My plants on the front yard lifted their heads and arms to welcome the long awaited shower. I can almost see them smiling too. I looked gratefully at the sky and sent my thanks to the heavens for this blessing. The terrible heatwave that cursed the land for more than a month is now over. Relief for all has come. Of course, I am trying not to think of the flooding that will inevitably follow this. I wanted to enjoy the cool, wet weather for now.

So with a warm cup of darjeeling tea and my dog dozing cozily near my feet I settled on my cushiony sofa and I opened the book, The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing, with anticipation. The one I picked from my bookshelf to snuggle with in this special occasion. Finding this book was quite a tale in itself. Continue reading

Temporary Insanity: Justine’s Love Affair With Literature

When you think of yourself as character in a film or in a book how do you cast yourself in the story of your life? Are you the hero? The side kick or the villain? As long as I could remember I have always carried on an aura of a tragic anti hero bent on sabotaging herself until she drinks herself to death or something. Liam provided a climax for my story. Her mother putting the tip of a knife in her throat became the final straw to my then disintegrating life. Spiraling me down to that bottomless abyss where I plunged endlessly into the darkness.

Is the tendency to lean towards a melancholic existence part of my genetic inheritance or is it the kind of books I read which influenced my maudlin moods and disposition? My mother was a reticent woman but not pessimistic. She was a pragmatic woman who cared more about how to survive this life with dignity than indulge in romantic musings about life. I didn’t know my father so I have no way of knowing what the other half of my DNA might be like.

So I blame books. The tales of suffering and tragedies found in those wonderful novels filled my young mind with a skewed perception of life too early. My mother was an English literature teacher and it was her book of poems and short stories which lured me into the seductive and bittersweet world of literature. It started on that fateful day when I had grown tall enough able to reach the high shelf where those precious books were kept.

I opened a page and my life was never the same again. Neglected were my picture books. My Hardy Boys paper backs, even my Nancy Drews. As soon I had read these following verses there was no turning back.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach,

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height and my soul can reach! My God. I thought. To be so passionately in love! This was how I wanted to feel and nothing less. And I didn’t stop there. Being deeply in love was not enough it had to unrequited too. Nothing less than what Cathy and Heathcliff suffered in Wuthering Heights. I also fantasized of being magnanimous on my time of death and this would be the poem I would have send my lover as a farewell:

When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget.

I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
Sing on, as if in pain:
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
And haply may forget.

So you see early on I was set to screw my life.

Copyright 2013 JMKhapra

Poem 1 by Elizabeth Browning
How Do I Love Thee

Poem 2 by Christina Georgina Rossetti
When I am Dead, My Dearest