Book Review: Sita’s Curse – The Language of Desire by Sreemoyee Piu Kundu

From the back cover: Trapped for 15 years in the stranglehold of a dead marriage and soulless household domesticity, the beautiful, full-bodied and passionate Meera Patel depends on her memories and her flights of fantasy to soothe the aches that wrack her body…until one cataclysmic day in Mumbai, when she finally breaks free. Bold, brazen and defiant, Sita’s Curse looks at the hypocrisy of Indian society and tells the compelling story of a middle class Indian housewife’s urgent need for love, respect, acceptance – and sexual fulfillment.

What I expected: Simply put: feminist erotica. This is the first book whose book trailer I actually watched. And I had high expectations from it. I thought it would be bold and brazen; daring and defiant; eschewing the stereotype of an Indian “bahu” (wife) and looking, instead, at the woman – at her dreams and hopes; her fight for respect and acceptance in her new household; her flight from the cage that traps her.

What it is: C-grade thrash. Honestly, 50 Shades of Gray was literary manna compared to this.

We have Meera, an innocent village girl, who starts her sexscapade as a child with her twin Kartik, moves on to underage sex with her dance teacher, girl-on-girl sex with the daughter of her father’s associate, and then has sex with a stranger on a riverbank before she’s pushed into a loveless marriage with Mohan.

Now Mohan, despite trying really hard, just cannot get it up. So in between pleasuring herself, Meera has sex with their guruji, indulges in voyeuristic behavior by spying on her brother-in-law having sex with his wife, bangs the dance teacher in her colony, and then discovers the joys of internet porn. And on that “cataclysmic day in Mumbai”, she calls her chat room lover to a seedy hotel in Colaba where she discovers that maybe she is in love with the gigolo.

And if you’re wondering where Sita fits in all of this – you’re not alone. I have the same question. Apart from the fact that Meera played the role of Sita every year on Dusserha, Sita has nothing much to do in the book. Except to cringe at this gross misuse of her name.

By now I am sure you can surmise that you will have to hunt for the plot with a magnifying glass. The sex will not titillate you – it will disgust you. And feminists everywhere are most probably seething at having this book labelled “feminist erotica”.

Final verdict: Give this one a miss

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

{Z} Zen and the art of blogging

Finally, it’s the penultimate post of the A to Z challenge! I never thought it would get this difficult, and I never thought I would manage to persevere, what with the crazy schedule at work and the craziness of writing a blog post each and every day. But this month of daily blogging, of stretching myself to the max, has thought me a lot – about blogging and about life.

  1. It pays to plan: Before April rolled around, I had already drawn up a list of blog post ideas with almost all the letters and had also scheduled 2 weeks’ worth of posts. This made the start of the challenge easy, and I was able to use a couple of weekends in April to write and schedule more posts and go visit fellow participants. That early momentum powered me through the rest of the month, when the going got tougher and tougher. I wasn’t always able to spread the blog love, but I wrote a post a day, which is the main reason why I joined up for the challenge.

    Zenitude: When you have a why, you can achieve anything!

  2. Do what you humanly can: Part of the challenge involved blog hopping and commenting. I kept up with the commenting for as long as I could, but on the days when it was too overwhelming (which was essentially mid-April onwards), I just did what I could. I’ll go catch up on posts slowly now, when I have the time to actually read and leave intelligent comments. Giving myself some slack here meant that I didn’t totally burn out, and was able to juggle the various things that came up this month.

    Zenitude: Work within your limitations, without beating yourself up, and you’ll accomplish more than you thought was possible.

  3. But don’t give up: I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to give up! But I didn’t. I wrote entire posts and designed graphics to go with it on my phone, I wrote a post outline before going to sleep and fleshed it out when I woke up, but I didn’t give up. The high I am feeling now, on completing the challenge, is immense. To top it all, this month of blogging every day on a huge variety of topics helped me break out of the blogging inertia that had set in, which is a plus!

    Zenitude: Stretch yourself in new ways, challenge the status quo, and you’ll be surprised at the font of creative gold you will find.

What lessons have you learnt from this challenge or any other challenge that you’ve participated in?

{Y} The Kindness Revolution: Don’t say no when you want to say yes

Erm, but, I don’t know how to say no, you might be thinking. And, wait a minute, why would I say no to something I want to say yes to?

Maybe, because you’ve said yes to things you didn’t know how to say no to.

Are you confused? Let me explain.

How often do you feel overwhelmed, feel like 24 hours is too less? How much time are you able to devote to the things that matter to you? How often have you said yes to something because you didn’t know how to say no, or you thought it would be rude or mean to say no?

If you’re giving away handfuls of your time to other people and things, is it any wonder that you have no time to focus on the things that really matter to you? Be they personal goals – like focusing on your health, your hobbies, your dreams; having some time to simply unwind; or wanting the best for your family – and this isn’t about monetary things, but about having time to enjoy life together.

Well, guess what? To be able to say yes to the things you want, you have to say no to the things that don’t matter that much to YOU.

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Sometimes this is easier said than done. But, at the end of the day, every thing and every choice has a price tag. When you’re sacrificing one thing for another thing, you should be sacrificing a good thing for a better thing. If you aren’t doing that, you aren’t really sacrificing, you’re compromising. And that isn’t a good feeling in the long run.

So take the time to figure out what matters most to YOU, or you’ll find yourself saying no to the things you want to say yes to more often than not.

Are you ready to say yes to the things that matter to you? ill you join me in the kindness revolution?

Leave any tips, strategies, or burning questions in the comments; I promise to get back to you soon!

{X} Xenodocheinology: For the love of hotels

Have you ever experienced Xenodocheinology?

Part of the travel experience, for me, is choosing the hotel. Our travel philosophy is to utilize the maximum resources on sightseeing and shopping, and keeping a very limited budget for our hotel stay.

If you thought limited budget = seedy little hotel/backpacker’s hostels/soulless hotels, think again. A little research is all it takes to find charming places to lay your head down at the end of a day of hard sightseeing.

A few of my absolute favorites are

The courtyard @ Inn Seventh Heaven

The courtyard @ Inn Seventh Heaven

Inn Seventh Heaven, Pushkar – Comfortable rooms, beautiful color schemes, friendly staff, a quiet, green courtyard and a lovely roof terrace make this our go-to place at Pushkar. We’ve driven down here for a holiday on numerous occasions, only to stay at Inn Seventh Heaven again.

Infinity pool, Samode Palace

Samode Palace, Samode – Known as one of the best Palace Hotels in Rajasthan, Samode is a place you must visit at least once. To be sure, it does not fall into the budget category by any stretch of the imagination, but considering that you will be doing nothing much except staying at the palace and driving down to the quaint village at the bottom of the palace, this is one extravagance that is totally worth it!

The library @ Arya Niwas

The library @ Arya Niwas

Arya Niwas, Jaipur – Although it’s been called a soulless hotel for a busy executive, for some reason, I love this place. It’s where we stay every time we visit Jaipur, and we visit Jaipur quite frequently. The green lawns, where you can sit sipping a cold coffee in the evening, the restaurant, which serves some yummy food, and the bonzais in the corridor will make you fall in love with this place.

So, have you ever experienced xenodocheinology?

{W} The Kindness Revolution: Why worry?

“People get so in the habit of worry that if you save them from drowning and put them on a bank to dry in the sun with hot chocolate and muffins they wonder whether they are catching cold.” ~ John Jay Chapman
OK, fess up! How often do you find yourself, brows furrowed, chewing your bottom lip, running through some crazy, made-up scenarios in your head? Or obsessing over something someone said to you, something that you forgot to do, or second-guessing a decision you took? At that moment, it seems like your life as you know it is over!

I’m also willing to bet that most of us have, at some time or the other, had this continuous loop playing in our head:

Oh My God Oh My God Oh My God Oh My God Oh My God Oh My God what am I going to do how am I going to do it Oh My God my life is over!

This, generally, is the loop that plays in my head when I’ve left something for the last minute (and I do it often…and then I hyperventilate…) or when I can’t find my car keys and I’m already late for work…you get the drift, right?

I cannot count the number of times I have looked back at those moments of intense worry and laughed at myself for hyperventilating the way I did. And this brought me to an important realization:

If there is a solution that can be found to my problem, or if I can fix a particular situation I find myself in, it’s pointless to hyperventilate. All that worrying only increases stress levels and the time it takes to fix a problem. And if I come up against something that I can’t fix, what is the point of worrying? It won’t help me in any way!

on-worry-dalai-lama

So here’s a revolutionary act of kindness for you to adopt: Try to look forward a year or so and ask yourself: will this situation, problem, decision, really matter a year or two years from now? Will I even remember this situation that is causing me so much worry?

When you view things from this perspective, you realize that so many things that you focus your worry or your attention on…so many things that you think are vitally important…are really not…they’re just distractions. If you stop worrying about them, you free up time that you can use to focus on the things that really matter to you…that will make a difference to your life a year…two years…three or more years from now.

Are you ready to banish worry to the wayside? Will you join me in the kindness revolution?

Got any tips and strategies to share? Or maybe you have some questions, thoughts, or different opinions? Whatever the case – I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!