In Custody – Book Review

One of the advantages of being married to a librarian is that every now and then he brings home books that the library no longer wants and we might not have otherwise picked up to read. This is how we came into possession of In Custody by Anita Desai.

The simple take away from the book, for me, was that when you have a boring, predictable life- be careful what you wish for. You may soon be wishing for that simple life back.

The book follows the life of Deven, who is a professor of Hindi while his true love is Urdu, specifically Urdu poetry. He has the opportunity to interview, who he thinks is the greatest living Urdu poet, Nur, and the journey that this initial opportunity leads him on is nothing that he expected it would be. His idolization of Nur is called to question when he sees the reality of Nur, the human being. Despite many signs that he should abandon the project, Deven forges ahead and risks his marriage, savings and reputation. He is so desperate to have the life of glory and renowned that he once thought inevitable for himself that he is blind to the impossibility of the task before him.  In the end, it seems all is lost but Deven still rationalizes his choices and feels, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, that he has come out ahead.

I struggled through parts of the book that I thought were slow and it was frustrating to watch Deven make bad choice after bad choice, not seeming to be aware of his own agency in his misery. Despite its weaknesses, the book successfully captures universal themes of aspiration, disappointment and myth-making. It can offer great perspective to the careful reader.

Cranium, Cards Against Humanity and Celebrity

This weekend consisted of a lot of game playing. On Friday night, we headed over to my brother-in-laws where we cooked up salmon, potatoes and spinach. After eating dinner and putting the baby to sleep, we started a non-commital game of Cranium.

I had wanted to own Cranium for a long time but was hesitant to drop $30+ for a game that might just end up in a pile of unused stuff. Last weekend we stopped by Goodwill to drop some stuff off and I convinced Feraz to let me poke around inside. Feraz tends to want to avoid this because the whole point of going to Goodwill is supposed to be to get rid of stuff. It was a good thing we went in. From across the store I glimpsed the Cranium box amidst other dirty, unloved toys. I waited a bit for a family who was closely examining a Fisher-Price push lawnmower before I finally nuzzled past and reached up for the game. I tried to be as casual as possible so they wouldn’t try to intercept but soon realized they were clearly not interested as they moved on to examining a very loved teddy bear. It was pretty gross touching the box. It was covered with a very thick layer of dust. The kind of dust that has been there so long that it has solidified. I looked around to make sure Feraz wasn’t looking and started to wipe off as much of the grime as I could with the sleeve of my sweater. Some might question the logic of ruining a $50 sweater to get a $30 game on the cheap but SHHHH, I WAS THIS CLOSE TO GETTING A DEAL!

After I got the box sufficiently clean, I opened it up to examine how much of the game was still there. To my surprise, the inside was in pristine condition. Someone else had been the victim of buying the game and leaving it unused in a corner somewhere. I showed Feraz the $3.75 price tag and after he examined the contents, he reluctantly agreed that we should take it home. Score.

When I got home, I took off the lid and gave it a wash with water, dish soap and an old rag. In thirty seconds, it looked brand new and acceptable to take to the in-laws house. Now back to our regularly scheduled story. We started playing the game thinking we would do a few turns and call it a night but once we started, we had to finish it. Before we knew it, it was close to midnight. The girls won. Duh. It was a lot of fun and definitely worth the $3.75. (Truth be told, we may have had $30 of fun.)

The next night we headed over to my friend Sanwaree’s house for another game night. We ate some Bulgarian food and played Cards Against Humanity. I had never heard of this game before but it is like an adult version of Apples to Apples. It is not for the faint of heart but for our group that likes to push the offensiveness boundaries- it was perfect. I would recount some of the funniest sayings of the night but some things shouldn’t be memorialized on a blog.

After that we played Celebrity. It’s a great game because you don’t need anything except a few pieces of paper, pens and a group of people with creative ideas. Since the group writes the clues, the game never gets old and can include a lot of funny personal jokes and digs. Most of the group hadn’t played it before and picked up really fast. The girls won this time too. But the scorekeeper (can’t remember who it was…) may not have been completely reliable.

Finally we rounded up with a game of limericks. Each person in the group got a piece of paper. We each wrote the first line and passed it to the person to the left. Once the poems were all complete, we read them out loud. Although we might not have been the best group of poets, we did get a lot of laughs. And revealed some psychological abnormalities amongst us.

We didn’t end up getting home until two in the morning. It was the latest we have been out together (other than cousin’s sleepovers of course) in a long time but it was fun to just relax and enjoy hanging out instead of having to worry about ending the night because it was getting late.

The rest of the weekend was filled with some Safa time, watching Catching Fire (snoozefest), getting a speeding ticket (not me for once!) and having lunch over at our friends. Now its time to get into full Thanksgiving prep mode! Four days until Turkmageddon in our house!

Friendsgiving

We hosted Friendsgiving at our place on Sunday. Sadly, I didn’t get many pictures but trust me, it was amazing.
Some of the food goodness. 

We played a lame game that ended up being a lot of fun (to me at least). We had everyone write something they were thankful for and put it in a bowl. We told everyone not to make it something too obvious. We then read each thing and we had to guess who wrote it. Cheesy, I know. But it led to a lot of laughs. I recommend doing it! We then put the leaves on our “Gratitude Tree”. I just came up with that name believe it or not. Feraz is begging me to take down the tree because he thinks its ugly. A for effort I say!

The leaves we have so far.

a return to love

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously
give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.
 
a return to love – marianne williamson