Pride & Prejudice – The Play

I love my books and I like good adaptations of them as movies, plays, musicals, television series, etc. So, when my Deutschlehrerin casually told me that she was going to watch Pride & Prejudice I went, literally, berserk. How could I have not known about it?!

The Lifeline Theatre, Chicago

A little theater company called the Lifeline Theatre was putting up a two month production of Pride & Prejudice – the third in its history. Naturally, I didn’t care where it was (just a half-hour ride on the CTA Red Line, so that was good) or how much the tickets cost (a reasonably priced ticket actually), I looked for a weekend when I would be able to attend, not even bothering to consult the guests I was supposed to be hosting last evening, and got my tickets.

 I was excited, but a bit subdued. No use getting my hopes up only to be disappointed, I told myself. This is, after all, my most beloved book ever. Nothing else that I have read in the thirteen years since has compared to Miss Austen’s writing. North & South comes a close second in the genre, but over all, P & P has never been ousted from it’s position of ‘No. 1 Favorite of All Time‘. Thankfully, it wasn’t to be so.

It was a small stage, very well setup, with a cast of ten – some playing multiple roles. It begins as it should –

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a large fortune must be in want of a wife.”

And for two and a half hours – with a break after the first act, which ends with the Bingley quitting Netherfield – one is treated to the very story that has given rise to many a fantasy, for women, to find their own Mr. Darcy. There are several scenes from the book that are cut out, and characters remain unused, but it isn’t noticeable in the flow of the adaptation. The essence of satire and drama, the very ones that Miss Austen intended bring out in her works, are retained admirably. The actors were good – each of them taking on their characters easily. You could believe that they are the ones from the book. Of course I wished it were Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, because he is my favorite Mr. Darcy, but this performance didn’t leave me wanting for more. The script stayed honest to the lines from the book – I caught myself reciting with the actors many a time – and some added jibes which had a very Austen-esque feel to it.

The Staging Area for Pride & Prejudice

An aspect that very few plays take into consideration is the audience participation – mainly because the actors shouldn’t be distracted – but this one did it well. Elizabeth Bennett speaks to the audience, not necessarily expecting a response, just as Austen speaks to the readers occasionally.

I had the added advantage of sitting in a corner of the very first row and could see every actor and every part of the stage with great clarity. It was like being a part of the whole story once more. I could imagine the grounds of Pemberley, the Netherfield ballroom and the assembly rooms at Meryton with ease, just using the characters as puppets in my imagination. That’s what you’re supposed to do, right? 😉

Fact remains that the book is always better, no argument there from any quarter, and it isn’t exactly easy to adapt anyway. At least, into a stage performance. For that the adaptor and director have my congratulations. They’ve done it justice – and it isn’t very easy to satisfy die-hard Austen fans.

A short talk with the director and a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, which was also attended by the principal cast members – Mr. Darcy, Eliza Bennett and Mr. Bingley, was a good way to end an enjoyable evening.

I have now discovered another gem within the city and I know I will return for more.

10 Reasons I Love Libraries

I have loved libraries for as long as I can remember. I have loved books even longer than that. There’s just something about the way a library is structured – architecturally and internally – that draws me to them, the sights and smell. Ah! The smell of a thousand books waiting to be read…

I’ve been to my fair share of new cities, and the first place I seek out is the local library (or, God forbid, if there isn’t one close enough, the closest bookstore). I’ve carried a library card far more often than I have an ID card!

  1. It’s FREE – You join for free and you get to take books out for free! You pay nothing – well, perhaps you do, by way of tax, but that’s different. You have access to a multitude of books and they exist solely for your pleasure! They are just sitting on shelves, waiting to be picked up!! All they want is some indulgence from you, and your time to enjoy what they have to offer 🙂
  2. The collection – Where else would you find a physical collection of the written or spoken word? Yes, of course the internet, but that’s not physical. I mean a collection of books, magazines, music and movies that you can actually touch and feel. You have literature, anthologies, biographies, newspapers, magazines, CD’s, DVD’s, from all walks of life in a variety of languages, in different colors, shapes and sizes. It’s heaven. The knowledge that awaits you is incredible and it never ceases to amaze me that all of it is so readily available for the taking. I have Milton, Chaucer, Dostoevsky at arm’s length, I may study evolution with Darwin, look into the vast unknown of space through Galileo’s eyes, indulge in 19th century feminism, read of the politics of the Romans, take over countries and establish empires, find my roots, learn history… yes, and get carried away 🙂
  3. Architecture – If you’ve noticed, most of the largest libraries are housed in grand buildings that provide an architectural landmark to the place they are situated in. Modern libraries and those that have survived time, all are proof of this notion. I have not been to many ‘modern’ libraries, I shall admit, but am convinced that they are fantastic, just because they are libraries. But the older ones, the large stone structures with the gargoyles and marble staircases, immediately put me at ease. I could just stare at the facade of a library and be content, knowing that when they were constructed it was done with religious precision. The sole purpose of having these buildings, apart from temples, was serve as a depository of knowledge that could be accessed by those who seek it. If you look closely enough, these buildings speak of that commitment.
  4. Information – I’ll admit it isn’t as easy as clicking on a link online, but it’s all there. You’ll almost never arrive at a ‘red link’ that gives you an HTTP 404 error 😉 If you don’t find it, it means you didn’t look enough. There is something quite satiating in knowing that you did all of the researching work, instead of having Google tell you which page you need to go look at first! Besides, if there’s something you can’t find, you can actually interact with librarians, who are experts at finding things. They’ll lead you in the right direction. There’s human interaction! Besides, if you think you’d rather trust a computer and or or the internet, that’s available too!
  5. It’s Quiet – When I want my peace of mind, I read. Or I walk by, or just stare at, the lake. While I prefer the comfort of my most comfy chair, I wouldn’t really mind sitting at a library surrounded by books. People respect silence here. You’d here the odd scrape of a chair or the copying machine or the scanner, muffled footsteps, some tapping of the keyboard, a soft giggle, that swish of a crispy sound when books slide against each other when being put back onto or being pulled from a shelf. You may relax. (This may not work for me because I’m fidgety and wouldn’t be able to hold my concentration that long, but a lot of people have told me it works).
  6. Social – You meet people. Most people that go to a library are readers. They appreciate stories and writing, that’s why they’re there. No book is uninteresting, except maybe the 150-page romance novels, which, in their defense, provide someone an excuse for reading, even if it does not contribute to the mind’s natural thirst for knowledge. I’d wager that at some point, each person that has been in a library, has had a conversation about books with a stranger they just met. Be it a book he’s holding that you’ve read, or vice-versa, or a book you both are reaching for. You’re socializing. It may be a moment of interaction, but it serves for conversation and provides food for thought. You make and receive recommendations. You may or may not take it seriously, but you do consider it. That’s social interaction for you, in a library. (I once had a very entertaining conversation about gardening with a lady, who had an acre large garden, while waiting in the check-out line at the library.) There are also book clubs that you can sign up for at your library!
  7. Literary events – Remember going to reading sessions and story-time at a book store when you were a kid? That’s an event. An author stopping by to talk about his or her work, literary and cultural events… libraries. I’ve met 3 authors at library events. I found out about one of these events on an elevator ride down four floors, from fiction to check-out. I’ve been to book signing events at libraries. I’ve spoken with fellows readers, and been connected to others. Then there are the several writing contests that are hosted. According to season, or some special event. I submitted a bunch as a kid, and few as an adult. Who knows, you may meet your favorite author there, or you might end up becoming one!
  8. Book sales – I love old books. They have this wonderful musty, “I’ve been read and I’m old” smell. I like new books too, the fresh crisp pages waiting to be turned. And so I love book sales! They’re definitely used books so don’t necessarily fit into my vision of filling my library with leather bound copies of my favorite writing, but they add to my collection. You’ll find games (a friend bought “It Was a Dark & Stormy Night” at one such sale at a library), magazines, books, CDs and DVDs. If you’re lucky, you’ll find that one book of a certain edition that you always wanted!
  9. e-Libraries – I’m a bit old fashioned when it comes to books in that I’d rather hold a book in my hand than read it from a device. BUT that does not keep me from purchasing or downloading eBooks, or borrowing books from the library through an app (read Kindle App). I don’t really feel as much of a connection to the story if I read from a screen instead of paper, but that’s just me. I’m tech savvy, but I’ll stick with books. For those of you that would prefer an eReader, then libraries still cater to your reading needs.
  10. Free Wifi – When coffee shops and grocery stores offer customers free wi-fi, why shouldn’t a library?! Step in and you’re connected. Use it for whatever you will whenever you want.

So there you are. 10 of my reasons why libraries are some of the coolest places on Earth. I’m sure there are many others, but I love words (and consequently books) and I shall advocate libraries.

If it so interests you, check out this post of the 20 of the World’s Most Beautiful Libraries. Below is the library I frequent – complete with the gargoyles, dusty shelves and the wondrous smell of books waiting to be read.

Harold Washington Library Center, Chicago, IL

2012 Reading Challenge

In March 2011, I signed up for a reading challenge and aimed to complete 100 books by the end of the year. But, given that I began nearly three months late, I had to give up any realistic hope of completing a 100 books. Instead, I aimed at about 60, and managed to finish up well ahead of time!! My final count, as of 20th Dec 2012, is 61 – I may or may not add another book to the toll.

I do imagine, however, that if I begin early enough for 2012, I will be able to hit a 100 (or more!!). Hence, the challenge again!! 😀

I aim at 50 classics, ones that I’ve read before and newer ones that have been on my ‘to-read’ list for a long time; and 50 other books. I’m going to be keeping track of the books on my page ‘2012 Reading Challenge‘ and on Goodreads.

Here’s looking forward to a fruitful New Year!! 😀

Musically Fit – In the Austen Way

Can you imagine a Jane Austen musical? I mean, a real Jane Austen drama as a musical? Lady Catherine singing about her pride, Darcy of his love, Marianne of her heartache, Colonel Brandon of his battles, Edmund Bertram of his family and Miss Crawford of hers, and Emma of her matchmaking, perhaps? Does it make some sense? Maybe not. But if you think about it, it’s very possible, because I just returned from a rather nice musical adaptation of my second most favorite Jane Austen novel, Persuasion. Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot, and every other character, relating the story to you in song.

I saw it only because I’m subscribed to the Chicago Tribune – yes, I still have my newspaper delivered to me. I rushed to the Athenaeum Theater to buy the tickets the very next day. I was spiffed about it! I didn’t care if I had company or not, I was going to watch it. And I did. Just a few hours back. I must admit, I was very apprehensive about the whole event. I gave it a lot of thought and honestly, I was duly impressed.

It began with a half hour presentation that provided a background of the Royal Navy at the time the novel is set and then to the theater we went. The show was fun and well thought out. It seemed to mix the elements of the movie versions and the actual book quite well. It was divided into two acts, split at the point when Louisa Musgrove hurts herself at Lyme, which I thought was an interesting point to stop the first act, but was a good choice. The music was spectacular from start to finish, I appreciated the intensity and playfulness of the score from the very first note. The songs were good and came in at the right moments. The lyrics were simple, obviously, with the perfect amount of humor in them, that everyone almost joined in with some songs – like the sailor song, to which three boys even tap danced! The script was worthy of an Austen novel, though there were slight deviations in the actual words said – like the one part when Captain Wentworth almost confesses his love for Anne much earlier than Miss Austen had him do – but it settled fine with the script, so no complaints there. My only issue, I think, would have to be the acting and the accent.

Now, I realize that it is an American stage production, so naturally the actors would be American, with American accents. Perfectly fine. As actors, stage actors especially, they would naturally attempt to be as original as possible. Which almost all of them managed. All except the female lead. Anne Elliot. She just threw me off from her very first line. The actress that played Anne Elliot was the one who did the adaptation, so I guess I expected her to be perfect. Or at least near it. Her acting was good, her singing very good, but just the accent… ah… She was either trying too hard – which I think is true because ‘roar’ sounded like ‘wroawr’, and parents sounded like ‘payents’ – or I’ve been watching too much British television. Either way, that was the only disappointing aspect of the whole musical. I didn’t expect an Amanda Root or Sally Hawkins presentation, but one would expect Anne Elliot, being the protagonist, to be the one who is best fitted in the role. Captain Wentworth did a good job, he didn’t get to sing as much, but he played the part quite well. Other mentionable performances would have to be the Miss Musgroves, both of whom sang brilliantly, Sir Walter Elliot, who added a good deal of comedy into the character, Captains Harville and Benwick, Admiral Croft – the deep baritone voice was perfect – and Lady Russell. William Elliot, the scheming cousin, was good in his role, though I think the 2007 film version had the best actor for this part, but this isn’t film, and I did like his singing. The supporting cast, all the sailors and general townspeople had amazing voices too! I loved the choruses they sang together! The set design was lovely. I didn’t expect to see so much on the stage, and I think they managed it quite well.

Overall, I honestly think it was a good experience. One every Austen fan must be subjected to just to appreciate Miss Austen even more. This adaptation is told through the eyes of Jane Austen – she relates the story to her niece and nephew. I loved the fact that the essence in her characters and books gave life to a musical, something Jane Austen would’ve NOT imagined her work being made into. I might have enjoyed the acting a little bit more had I not gone in with the expectation of a Ciarán Hinds like Wentworth (Rupert Penry-Jones did a fantastic job with it too, and I think I like him more for obvious reasons 😉 ). There was just too much visual content already in my head where the acting was concerned, but, I still managed to enjoy myself on a Sunday evening. Loved it. Might not go again only because of the accent of the lead, but would recommend that others go watch it while diligently ignoring it.

It’s Actually Goodbye

It’s been the talk of a decade, the books (1997-2007) and the movies (2001-2011) and it came to an end a few days back… depending on what one’s definition of ‘end’ is. The names of Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling have been in our midst, our homes and minds, for so long that when you realize you no longer have anything new to look forward to, it slowly dawns upon you how important all of it was! Did that make sense? Or was it just too long of a sentence? Doesn’t matter. My point is, my generation grew up with the Potter kids, literally, so it’s more than just putting down the last book of a series, or walking out of the theater after the last movie. It’s actually goodbye.

I stumbled upon Harry Potter almost by mistake. I happened to be looking for a book in the Hardy Boys series (yeah, I read those), and saw a lone copy of the Philosopher’s Stone on a high shelf next to the book I wanted. Naturally, curiosity got the better of me and I pulled the book down, read the back cover, found it interesting, and bought it. This was in early 1998, when J.K. Rowling was just another new children’s author, and Harry Potter was a name unheard of in my country, but that’s where it began for me. When the subsequent books came out, my sisters and I bought them and read them. Few others paid attention. It wasn’t until the Goblet of Fire that it actually did become a big deal back home. We didn’t do the waiting in line at midnight back then, but we read the first four books with growing interest, forming an attachment with the characters and the contemplating story angles. By the time the Potter fever picked up, I was already neck deep in the story and to me it was silly that people treated it as a new thing, because I’d already known the characters for five years by then! I digress.

Anyway. It was around that time that the movies began to be released, and the story picked up pace. There was frantic excitement about it all. I was one of those that read the book within a day of it being released. I had to. I wanted to know the rest of the story. Somewhere along the line, however, I got bored. I mean if you think about it, 10 years is a long time to find out the end of a story! It didn’t make it any less exciting for me, but I sort of stopped rereading the books, though I waited with bated breath for the next. I suppose I flirted with Lord of the Rings half way through this series, and fell in love, so HP didn’t really stand a chance. BUT I was still a fan, make no mistake of that.

Then the books ended. I declared that I had expected more of an ending or at least a more profound reason for the Dark Lord wanting to kill HP (the prophecy I thought was a little silly) than the one given, but in retrospect, I think that was just my disgruntled response to J.K. Rowling announcing that she had no intention to continue the series. The movies remained. I think we were on the Order of the Phoenix then. And now that has ended as well! And I realize how much I’ve loved every moment of it!

I’m admittedly a larger LOTR fan, much more than I can ever muster myself to be for HP, but I never had to wait for the end there. Tolkien was done with it. The story was there. The movies were coming out soon enough and it was exciting. But HP. That’s something else! There are so many books and series that I’ve left behind as I went through the ages, but HP, among others, stuck. It was like an itch. Irritable at times because I wanted to know so many things, but so much fun. I remember even making ‘H’ badges back in school, for our little HP Club!! At some point I think we even reenacted some of the scenes from the book!!

So, yes. The books were a part of me all through, and still are. I know I’ll probably go back and read them – maybe not with the diligence that I read Austen or Tolkien, but I will read them with a feeling of nostalgia. And it will bring back memories, all of them good ones. The movies… I’ll watch them too. Probably the last two more often than the others. Maybe Prisoner of Azkaban too (for Gary Oldman, and Sirius). I’ll watch the movies for Alan Rickman and Ralph Fiennes. And I’ll read the books for spells, Fred and George, Sirius, Quidditch, Snape, Ron’s and Hermione’s arguments, Malfoy’s malice, and most other things that make this series what it is. It no longer matters that I don’t care as much for it as I used to, because I cannot forget it and that is enough to allow me to carry it through. That I’m paying tribute to this marvelous literary creation is proof enough that I admire and respect Ms. Rowling and her writing.

So here’s to the boy wizard, and everyone who believes that magic and reality could, and probably should, go together!

Mysteries and Museums

I finally visited the famed Museum of Science and Industry! I’ve been literally ‘avoiding’ going there for a year and a half, and last weekend I decided that it was high time I faced it. After having been extra productive on Saturday (completing two reports on Game Theory and a fun Prezi presentation), I needed to treat myself. So on Sunday, a friend and I rode the Yellow Line (supposed to be one of the things you MUST DO in Chicago) up to Skokie, spent some time at a mall there, indulged in some heavenly Godiva chocolate, shopped and returned tired and satisfied.

Owing to my surge of productivity, I had the whole of Monday to myself, and what better way to spend it than visit the MSI? Five hours I spent there and I loved it! Tesla coils, body works, the U-505, tornadoes, light experiments, evolution, storms, trains, mines, genetics, net world, technology, space, ships, planes, whispering gallery, the Earth, the circus, 1900’s… I just walked and walked, and talked a little bit, but just walked. It was amazing! Housed in a (more than) hundred year old building (formerly the Palace of Fine Arts for the World’s Fair in 1893), it is one of those places that caters to everybody’s interests! I, especially, loved the science exhibits – electricity, fire, water, air – the physics and chemistry behind it all – and the U-505 on board tour. The best part of this place are the hands on experiments/demonstrations that go on in every corner! I felt like a little child rediscovering everything as I explored the museum at my own pace. Since I’d already been to the Body exhibit at Dialog in the Dark (Atlanta, GA) I didn’t really pay much attention to it here, but it was still fascinating.

It made up for the eerie train and bus ride to Hyde Park and back. I had never been this south of the city of Chicago and it is damning. I love this city and for all it stands but riding beyond the South Loop gave me one of the worst frights I’ve ever had. The people were nice, really. But the places were so shady I couldn’t believe they were part of Chicago! And then I remembered my history – Chicago’s history. Either way, it still freaked me out. So much so that I will not go back unless it is absolutely necessary to!

Another reason for my growing love of the city is the fact that I have now met two of my favorite authors!! Brad Meltzer was here in January, and this week I met Donna Leon!! I was ecstatic! To hear Commissario Brunetti’s words from the creator’s mouth was such a treat!! I’ve read almost all the books in the Brunetti series – all so beautifully Italian, and funny, and enticing and mysterious (see my review blog for more).

I’ve been reading quite a lot now; you can find me reading at the bus stop, train station, walking along the campus, in the hallway, on the bus/train, on my desk, in my bed. I almost always have a book in my hand and it is the most wonderful feeling! So I leave you for now to head, once again, to my reading. I cannot stop. And apparently I can’t stop writing either!

 

My 2011 Reading Challenge

Of late I’ve been getting myself involved in a bunch of literary activities, mainly because I now have the time to devote to it, and I want to get back to my old literary (reading and writing) habits before I finish college and start working.

It’s a personal thing, really. I recently signed up for a book club in Chicago, launched a review blog – Reviewing the Situation – so that I may combine my love for reading and writing, volunteered as a proofreader and an audio book contributor, went on a book buying and library visiting spree and even took a shot at making a list of all the books I’ve read in the past 10 years or so (I got as far as 200 books that I could recall from memory, awaiting my home library inventory to complete the list now). But what I now intend to do is actually keep track of every book I read in the year 2011 – either as a list or as a review. To ensure that I do this as systematically as I possible can I signed up for the Read 100 Books in 2011 challenge, hosted by Book Chick City.

I had, a few years back, taken up a similar challenge with a group of friends. They bet against me – that I would not be able to read 50 books in a semester of school. I did. They lost. Of the six of us that had accepted this challenge 2 of us completed it, 2 got very close, 1 got almost half way through, and the other dropped out within a week. It was that drive to meet a goal that I battled school work and kept pace with my reading. I loved the feeling of picking out a new book every few days! Of course, I didn’t always derive the same pleasure from each book I read, but I figured that since I read almost everything I might as well go about it as a challenge! So here’s my reading challenge for the year 2011. With all the other things going on I do hope I can keep up.

I’m almost three months late in taking this up, and probably slower than I would’ve liked to be (I’ve probably read six books in three months – not good enough if I want to hit 100 by December 31st!), but it’s more about the reading than anything else. If I hit 100, hurrah! If not, well, I’m still going to read! 🙂 So here I go!

UPDATE: It’s been a long time since I read ‘Interview with a Vampire‘ by Anne Rice, and of the 10 books in the Vampire Chronicles I think I’ve read just two! SO as part of my reading challenge I thought it would be fun to just add in another challenge – The 2011 Vampire Chronicles Challenge (also hosted by Book Chick City) – as part of my existing 100 Books challenge as well!

A Family Winter

Written on 4th January, 2010

🙂 A month since my last post, a month since I completed one semester of my graduate studies, a month since I arrived in Atlanta, and a month since I’ve found time to sit and write a post.

It would possible be easier for me to relate it in some form other than large paragraphs, so, here we go.

  • I got to have homemade food – my grandma’s an awesome cook and it was absolutely delightful to savor the taste of home.
  • I’ve been reading – Sepulchre by Kate Mosse, Sleeping with the Enemy by Nancy Price, and re-reading – Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Macbeth, Harper Lee‘s To Kill A Mockingbird.
  • Completed a thousand piece puzzle of a dolphin with my sister and brother.
  • Played Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare on my own and with my brother \m/
  • Watched a whole bunch of movies – Avatar (because my brother wanted to watch it; I adored the CGI but the story could have been better or shorter), Sherlock Holmes (because it’s Sherlock Holmes, loved Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr., wonderful movie), 3 Idiots (because of reviews from trusted sources, and I didn’t know it was based on the book ‘5 Point Someone‘, which I’ve never read and have no intention to),  The Proposal (again, because it’s kind of cute), Monsters Inc. (because I’ve never watched it before), Madagascar – Return 2 Africa (because I haven’t watched it), Cinderella – A Twist In Time (because the little girl in me is still around)
  • Stuck with We Don’t Need Another Hero‘ by Northern Kings, a cover of Tina Turner’s song.
  • Actually helped around the house – vacuuming, folding laundry, setting up the table, cutting vegetables… *yes, it’s new for me, doing these things*
  • Got wonderful Christmas presents 🙂 – loved the tree and the lights at home.
  • Took great delight in telling everyone that “Chicago has snow, you don’t“, “The south shuts down for an inch of snow” etc.
  • Made plans to create our family calendar and eventually forgot about it.
  • Rang in the New Year with a homemade feast (cocktail shrimp *ew – I dont’ like sea food*, double chocolate brownies, sparkling grape juice – on which my brother pretend to get high, tortilla with dip, strawberry shortcake with whipped cream, loads of icecream with sauce and favorite toppings, egg nog – because we forgot it over Christmas), fireworks and watching the peach drop.

13th January 2010

… eh… now that I think about it, I spent most of my days (and nights) out of the house, either downtown, at malls or just driving around town. And yet I seemed to have spent an equal amount of time at home… I still had a great time. I didn’t feel like leaving on Sunday. I would’ve stayed there forever… but duty called. The difficult part was saying goodbye to my grandparents – because the only possibility of me seeing them next is if I go home for summer, or they come here… or it’s going to be another year before I see them, which is sad… 😦 I’ll be back in Atlanta for the Spring break in March. Can’t wait for that 🙂 But in the mean time I’ve to work through my rather crazy schedule and work load for this semester (and this I’m saying on the second day of school!!).

Feels nice to be back in Chicago. There’s at least eight inches of pure white covering the landscape, which is a sight to absolutely admire. To look at the partly frozen river weaving through the city, and the icy lake on one side is another added bonus because of the sheer beauty of it. It’s cold *was 0 F when I landed, but felt like -6 F*, and dry and the sidewalks are kind of slushy and dirty, but it’s still beautiful. Don’t think I mentioned it before but I went ice skating – my first time – here before leaving for the break and I didn’t fall flat on my butt or on my face as I had feared. In fact, I didn’t fall at all !! I was a natural !! I skated around the rink for over an hour without ever losing my balance !! It’s made me very proud of my sense of balance – which is quite unstable when on my two feet and in sneaker, hence the feeling of accomplishment tends to be a little boastful. 😛

I’ve begun to work…I must start applying for my transfer *just an option to be closer home* and summer internships. I must also read, shop, and unpack – two suitcases of 50 lbs each beckon me.

*The philosophical part of my brain has been speaking to me a little bit… will be tending to that in a while…*

Persuasion

I’ve been smitten by the classical bug…AGAIN. After the bout of goth, that is. But it’s all about books. I require no persuasion. Get it?? HEHE.

Spent the night with Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot. Again. Aah. Jane Austen is simply genius. Her characters ooze reality and are etched with every trait that makes a man/woman. Perfection itself. I couldn’t help myself so ended up watching the BBC adaptation of Persuasion. Again. Rupert Penry-Jones. Captain Fredrick WentworthHe is sooooo perfect!! I love those little looks he gives her – the whole ‘I will be indifferent to the only woman I’ve truly ever loved but I still cannot help loving her!’ Gives me the goosbumps all the time !! <That’s just me getting all lovey dovey> He’s a really good actor. I LOVE HIM!! I’m a very very happy camper. Honestly I couldn’t ask for anything more. A whole set of my favourite classics and twilight, and rest assured I will keep to my room, speak nothing and be very content with life.

I’m now A1 certified in German!! Managed an 86% after missing a week of the most important grammar classes, and not studying at all. So I suppose it’s all good. Did badly in the orals during the 2nd test and model paper (8.5 on 10 and 12.5 on 15) but landed a 15 (on 15) in the finals!! This happened when the frech (=naughty) gang of our class happened to be put in the same group for the orals!! Ooh, and my writing skills haven’t failed me in this European language either!! A 14 on 15!! I’m quite delighted by the prospect of now being certified in a foreign language, and that too German!! Supposed to be harsh, and I can fully understand why given the guttural sounds of the language, but it’s a very nice language. I’ve taken to deciphering German comic strips now. Planning to take up the A2 course as well as soon as I can.

I’m leaving next Wednesday…on my transfer. Arrangements have been made for an apartment, furniture and other necessities. All that remains is that I go there.

I’ve gone and screwed up my TOEFL iBT account and now I cannot log in at all!! I still need to send the scores to three universities, 2 of whose deadlines are 15th January, and now I’m getting desperate. Sadly I cannot do anything till Monday since this is the Christmas weekend!!

Oh…MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY !! 😀 😀 Got a bunch of presents, sensible and useful. Dad’s birthday too. Christmas is fun time!! Going to a little party tonight as a follow up to complete what we started last night!! The carolling and stuff. 😀

Here’s the bit from Persuasion that always leaves me smiling and breathless !!

“I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own, than when you almost broke it eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone I think and plan.–Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes?–I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice, when they would be lost on others.–Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in

F. W.

I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father’s house this evening, or never.”

Waves

I seem to be doing a lot of re-reading these days. I’m not complaining, just trying to get across that I take immense pleasure in throwing open my bookshelf and tenderly jostling out a book I’ve already read, plop onto my bed and read. The Great Gatsby is the latest one I’ve finished. Again. And now, I realize that I’m actually done with all the classics and close-to-contemporary novels I own. Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina – leather bound copies <every book lover’s dream to have leather bound copies, I know…and thanks to my Grandpa’s interests there’re quite a lot of those around> – I’ve thought of diving into again, but somehow am depressed by the thought of reading the whole book <well, books…it’s in 2 books…the 8 parts> just to know that she is going to throw herself at a train is not really something I want to get into right now. Brilliant piece of work, but maybe I’ll save it for later. Say a week or so.

Things have been rolling, revolving, grounding, smashing, and spanking their way around. Ended up spending an afternoon in the ladies’ room at work composing myself lest my colleagues found out that I was upset. Over a matter so simple that it should have been foreseen. Hmpf. Kind of just made my resolve of obtaining a master’s degree more of a ‘written into stone = my head, nothing will change it’ scenario. Has nothing to do with marriage, by the way…and thankfully.

Bonding with the work place and people more now than before. My team and I spend at least twenty minutes every afternoon just talking. It involves teasing someone, complaining about the work load in a very jovial manner <it is actually possible to do that, I’ve realized>, getting to know them and become closer…We’re the largest team in my department – eh…sub-department and we do this talking bit. Quite true that we spend every morning discussing our tasks, and being assigned unbelievably large amounts of work with nail-biting deadlines <hourly deadlines>, takes forty-five minutes of our daily working hours, and I’ve to attend German class, and make up for the three and a half hours I miss due to ‘learning a new language’…wind up home after 9 these days and I actually enjoy it. Forget the tiredness, and the amount of pending work I would have – serious documentation work for the universities, on-going. I still look forward to going back to work…It’s rather fun asking the two hundred questions when told to write a small, simple fifteen line method to validate some parameters to the application. I took eight hours to complete the first method by which time my mentor seemed to get rather irked with me, but when I completed the next one in a matter of three hours, she was quite pleased. 😀 YAY!! I’m getting the hang of it. It’s rather immense which is why it took me three months to even realize what my project is fully about – after my manager took pity on us <=the babies of the team> and explained the architecture of the tool. WOW!! It seems so simple. And then they throw Active Directories at us. Everyone of us needs to be well-versed in it. Situation – AD is the major requirement for our next release in another ten weeks. Synchronization an administrative tool like the one we’re working on is no small deal. Each of us is dealing with some tiny aspect of it right now. And even with all the tests and checks we put it through, our very eager testers manage to find some bug…and then we’ve to think of the solution, which is not easy because it, most of the time, involves changing the entire approach to the requirement AND requires our customer’s approval, and he just so happens to be a man who knows absolutely all of Microsoft’s technologies. Everything. He’s been at it for over twenty years now and still going strong.

Anyway, taking the family to work tomorrow – Open House – maybe go out for a light supper on our way back. Gotta revise Lektion Eins zu Drei for the test on Tuesday <yes, tests at work. But this is a language test. I think I’ll enjoy it very much. Classes are so much fun now. Everybody talks and walks German…rather entertaining 😀 Everyone gets extremely depressed if class gets cancelled>. Sch önes Wochenende !!