Category: Dubai

Needle and Thread

I met Mrs.Prakash when I was in fourth grade. Mrs.Prakash was a diminutive woman, barely five feet tall, with a stern wrinkled face and a tongue that could make your ears burn after a lashing from her. She taught us needlework, an art which was fast losing its relevance in a rapidly changing world. She not only managed to teach the girls basic embroidery stitches but by the thwacks of her wooden ruler, she made sure that they stuck to their projects and had finished pieces by the end of the academic year. My project was a fish-shaped pouch with chain-stitch embroidery and I think, my mom still has it somewhere.

It has now been more than thirty years since I first started that pouch, and since that time, never have I ever not had an embroidery project in the works. I have made cushion covers, table covers, napkins, bedsheets etc. I would use any scrap of cloth and start embroidering. It might be that I was genetically pre-disposed (my mother and both my grandmothers were amazing embroiderers ) or it may be the fact that I finally found something artistic at which I was more than passably good. Whatever be the reason, I had fallen in love with embroidery from the first time I pulled the needle through the cloth in Mrs.Prakash’s class.

I always remember Mrs.Prakash when I start a new project. Despite her palm thwacking personality, she not only taught me the basics of embroidery, but she also instilled in me a respect for the project, (she used to make us wash hands before we touched our cloths to protect it from grubby hands). She taught me to create something beautiful with my hands, something which had my efforts and my thoughts in it. She taught me the value of hard work when someone complimented me on the finished product.

I have been told I have too much free time on my hands if I can spend time embroidering bedsheets. Since I am professionally qualified, I was expected to be gainfully employed and earn money, not just sit and do embroidery (which in most opinions was a waste of time).  I was told with less time and effort I could purchase machine-made embroidery available in the market. It has also been pointed out that hand embroidery is a dying art and me doing embroidery is an anachronism. All the criticism though fades when someone compliments me on my work. My heart swells with pride when I create a piece cherished by someone. And thus, I refuse to give up embroidery.

Needlework satisfies the creative corner of my heart. There is something therapeutic about doing needlework. The needle pulling the thread making intricate patterns and designs on the cloth mesmerises you. Once a pattern is picked and threads organised, you settle in for the long haul. You know you will spend hours bent over your work, pulling the needle, you might get pinpricks on your index finger, the threads might get entangled making you start all over again. But you won’t give up, you know at the end of all the time and effort there will a product that you will cherish for a long time. A piece of hand-embroidered cloth becomes the visual representations of your feelings and thoughts.

Idiosyncrasies Of A Bookworm

There are two types of people, there are people who like to read and then there are bookworms. Bookworms are full of quirks and idiosyncrasies; We follow authors on social media; We are on cloud nine if an author interacts with us; We love discussing books, usually to the exclusion of any other conversation topic; Most of our life is spent thinking/talking/reading books. Bookworm is a tag we are proud to wear.

Our lives revolve around books and it is difficult for us to come out of our bookish worlds. A few of our idiosyncrasies are:

  • Our biggest nightmare is running out of books to read. I have about fifteen unread books along with a Kindle,  and yet, at the start of the COVID-19 lockdown, my first thought was run to the bookstore to “Stock-up”! (My hands are still  itching to order some books online).
  • We usually despise movie/TV adaptations of books, especially those which take cinematic liberties and diverge from the book. We can also be very annoying viewing companions as we will keep pointing out the differences and muttering “the book was better” under our breath in a threatening tone.
  • We land up buying/borrowing books which we have already read. This usually happens to me with fiction books. I forget I have read a book until I pick it up again to read and realise my folly. Even worse is when you land up buying a duplicate copy on Kindle when you can’t “find” your hard copy.
  • We are extremely annoying conservationists. We prefer talking about books, about authors, about different issues read in books. If by any chance someone does start a non-book topic we are quite capable of single-handedly turning the conversation back to books. Basically, according to us, all topics have to have a bookish view-point.
  • Travelling and carrying books for vacations is another issue we have to face. How do we carry only one book for vacation? What if we don’t like it or finish it before the vacation gets over or we are in the mood for a different genre? Most people also fail to understand why we need to carry books for family excursions. Hello!! we never know when we can get a moment free and would want to read!
  • Bookstores are our favourite places to hang out, we can spend hours surrounded by their magic. It is, of course, annoying to our companions as even while travelling we would want to check out the local bookstores.
  • Social Media is our boon and bane. We love joining online book clubs which help us in getting many recommendations for books. We discover new genres and new authors widening our reading world. However, it can also lead to a corresponding increase in our TBR pile leading to reading anxiety!
  • We lack time-management skills. We promise ourselves that we will read only one chapter and then manage to read the full book through the night. Even while doing regular chores (and resenting them), our mind will be counting the minutes till we can sit down with the book. We are also, quite capable of reading through the night.

Do you share any of the above quirks/idiosyncrasies? Do let me know!

Book Review: Wideacre (Philippa Gregory)

Philippa Gregory is a master storyteller, a trendsetter in historical fiction with her pen she brings to life history, making it feel as if events are unfolding in front of you. Wideacre was her debut novel, setting her on the path for literary greatness.

Wideacre is set in the latter part of eighteenth-century on a country estate of the same name. Beatrice Lacey is the daughter of the house. Deeply attached to her father, the Squire and the Lacey estate, she is shattered when she realises that as a daughter she has no rights and the estate will be inherited by her brother, who doesn’t understand and love the land or the people on it the way Beatrice does. The book traces Beatrice’s journey to own control over the land which she thinks rightfully belongs to her.

Like all Philippa Gregory novels, Wideacre is a window looking into the eighteenth century. She brings alive Wideacre Hall, the land, the people. Since the book, like all Philippa Gregory novels, is written in the first person, Beatrice becomes a breathing, tangible character. You can feel her love for the land, her desire for power, her anger against towards the unfairness of entail and the superiority of the male heir. She rails against her pre-written destiny of marriage and kids and wants to get what is due to her. The author triumphs as she has created a character who is not moral, some of the things Beatrice does can shake you, and yet, you cannot but understand why she behaves the way she does. You actually sympathise with her.

Late eighteenth-century Britain was a society in turmoil. The book offers insights into the prevailing class distinctions, the absolute power of the landed gentry over the tenants and the land, the narrow world of the women of high society, the unfairness of the male entail, the enclosures of public spaces and the corn riots. History is suddenly alive in the pages of the book.

The characters of the book are not very likeable, but they are human and in some cases, you can understand their viewpoint. The book can get a very disturbing read in certain instances, yet at no time do you lose your fascination for the book or stop reading. The book has topics which might make quite a few people uncomfortable, the author doesn’t sugarcoat the evil within humans. Do not pick up this book if you want a sanitised account, this is disturbing, yet thought-provoking read.

My Favourite Indian Women Authors

On this Women’s Day, I wanted to celebrate women authors who have given me innumerable hours of reading pleasure. While Enid Blyton was a staple while growing, my first classic, “Pride and Prejudice” was written by the incomparable Jane Austen. To list all the women authors that I have read and loved would be a huge list and thus I decided to have a cut-off of five authors. I decided to make my life a little easier and decided to stick to Indian authors, thus narrowing down the field a little more. However, whitling down to five Indian women authors was also not an easy task. Indian authors from the days of Ismat Chugtai and Amrita Shergill have been prolific, identifiable and trailblazers due to their strong writing. They have rebelled against the norm and created characters which resonate with the reader.

And yet, I  persevered and here’s my list of five favourite Indian Women Authors.

  • Manreet Sodhi Someshwar: An IIM alumnus turned writer, Manreet Sodhi’s books are as enchanting as her smile. While the Taj Conspiracy is still on my TBR list, her “Long Walk Home” and “The Radiance Of a Thousand Splendid Suns”, were page-turners with a strong feminist core. “The Radiance of A Thousand Splendid Suns” is not only one of my favourite books, but it has strong characters like Jyot and Nooran who teach us so much about living life with dignity and on our own terms.
  • Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni: An author par excellence her books are always on my favourite list. Whether it be “Arranged Marriage”, “Sister of my Heart”, “Palace Of Illusions” or her most recent “The Forest of Enchantments”, the core of her books is a strong woman. My favourite book written by her is the first one of her’s which I read, “Mistress Of Spices”.
  • Anuja Chauhan: The master of Indian chick-lit, author Anuja Chauhan’s books are an easy-breezy read. Sexy, intelligent and sassy are the boxes ticked by her feminine characters. Zoya, Jinni, Dabbu, Bonu Or Tehmina, all were women who knew their mind. They didn’t mince words or hold back their opinion. These characters were like your friends, the ones who made their own path on their own terms.
  • Andaleeb Wajid: Prolific is an understatement for this author. With more than fourteen novels published, author Andaleeb is a master storyteller. What sets her apart from most of the other novelists is the fact that her protagonists are forward-thinking Muslim characters. She is single-handedly breaking the stereotypes about Muslim culture and identity, creating characters who are Muslim, female and independent. “My Brother’s Wedding” is one of my favourite books written by her.
  • Sudha Murthy: Engineer, philanthropist and a prolific writer in Kannada and English, Sudha Murthy needs no introduction. Her books, like herself, are simple, down-to-earth and yet they make a deep impact. Her books are profound, teaching us about life and how to live life gracefully and humbly. The books never get preachy, and yet they fill you with such positivity, that you feel wonderful after reading a Sudha Murthy book.

Have you read any of the above authors? I would love to hear your opinions as well any recommendation that you might have about authors for me to read!

Happy Reading!


The Silk Roads, A New History Of The World ~ Peter Frankopan

The Silk Road was the ancient trade route that connected China to the rest of the world. It was an intricate network of trade routes linking the East with the West, both on land and sea. It connected the huge continent of Asia from Siberia through Central Asia to Mesopotamia until the Levant.  The Silk Road was instrumental in the movement of people, goods, ideas and was closely associated with the rise and fall of many cities and civilizations.

Peter Frankopan’s “The Silk Roads: A New History Of The World”, is an exhaustive history of this fabled route from ancient times until the modern age. It maps the timeline from the ancient ages through the two world wars all the way until the US invasion of Iraq and the recent rise of the central Asian nations like Ukraine, Uzbekistan etc. This book gives an insightful detailed account of a region of the world which has always been vital for human history. The author delves deep into the cultural and the socio-political effect of this region on the world. It shows how faiths/religions, people and goods were exchanged on this route, leading to interesting interminglings of ideas and customs. It talks about the spread of religions like Buddhism and Islam along its paths; The influences of the Silk route on faraway countries like the Netherlands and Britain in the olden ages; The rise of cities like Samarkand due to the riches brought in by the Silk Road. The book also discusses in detail the games played by the British to obtain the oil fields of Middle East after the discovery of oil, followed by the diplomatic tactics used by the US and Soviet Union to control the same fields in the modern times. It lays bare the machinations of the Western World to control their oil interests in this region. It shows how the US and Britain propped up autocratic governments and put rulers favourable to them, ignoring blatant corruption and human right violations, just to safeguard their interests, leading to the current mess in the middle east.

The last chapter of the book talks about the rise of the Central Asian countries like Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan etc after the end of the Soviet Union and the plethora of resources at their disposal, leading to another rise of the Silk Route. It touches upon ( albeit briefly) the influence China is having on these nations.

Running at more than 500 pages, the book can get a bit tedious after some time, and thus it is not for the faint-hearted. Though to be fair to the author, the scope of the book is so vast that to wrap it up in 500 pages is an achievement in itself. The book stays dedicated to the region, though there is a distinct western perspective in the narrative.  There is a detailed description of the rise of sea-power of the European countries and the discovery of the Americas in the middle ages leading to change in the fortunes of the countries along the Silk route. The author also seems to be having a westerner’s fascination for Mughals and Mughal architecture, since they are the only Indians alluded to in the book.

This book is for those who want to know more about the history of the world as a whole. Rather than concentrating on a particular country or a region, the author has given a detailed account of a route, ostensibly used for trade, but which had a far-reaching impact on the world. Written in a pragmatic style, the book is a very good way to get an overview of the history of the world through the lens of the Silk Road. It is also an insightful read for those who want to know more about the political scenario in the middle-east.

The Struggle Book Series (Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020)

The Struggle Book Series is written by Patrice Smith, Donna Smith, Shannon Smith, Charity Smith and Faith Smith. Published by Real Food is Good, these books were sent to me by the author Patrice Smith to review for the Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020.  A set of three, these books follow the journey of four young girls Diamond, Sheila, Crystal and Felicity. The books give a wholesome view of a young black Christian family living in Southern US.


Book1: Mom and The Summer Time Blues

BOOK1 COVER_MomAndTheSummertimeBluesFront

Four sisters, a mother who is Vegetarian/Vegan and summer, that is the gist of this book. On surface seems simple enough, four sisters, Diamond, Sheila, Crystal and Felicity are typical teenager/tweens wanting to have a fun summer. Unfortunately for them, their mother is a vegetarian/vegan who would like them to follow a healthier diet/lifestyle and considering the prevalence of lifestyle diseases, the mother is not wrong. The girls, however, feel that the mother is spoiling their summer vacation by: a). giving them healthy food, not giving them junk food and making them exercise; b).making them do extra school work in the vacation, including writing the book. Considering the age of the sisters you can agree why they called the book Summer Time Blues. Each of the four girls have individual, rather strong personalities and each of the girls gets her own chapter where she talks about what she likes or what she finds infuriating, making each of the girls’ someone whom you may know.

Reading about the four sisters and their grievances against their mother reminded me of my childhood days, being one of three sisters I could relate to them, especially middle child Sheila ( I too am a middle child). The final chapter of the book is written by their Mom and being a mother myself, I can empathize with her. In fact, I think her chapter was my favourite! All we want is for our kids to be happy, to have good values and good habits, unfortunately, that wish seems to put us in opposition with our children.




Book2:4 Girls and 1 Bathroom

BOOK2 COVER_4GirlsAnd1BathroomFront

The stories of the Smith girls continue in this book. They are in a new grade with Diamond being a freshman, Sheila going into seventh grade, Crystal into grade5 and Felicity into grade4. The title of the book mentions the bathroom and you can understand the struggle of four girls sharing one. All four are different, with different sensibilities and attitudes, for them to share and get along while sharing the bathroom is understandably difficult. The book starts off with them describing their new grades and how they feel about it and how they cope in a new grade. Their description of the bathroom and how they share it speaks volumes about them individually. The book though, doesn’t stay on the topic of the bathroom only, the four girls also describe their trip to Chicago. The girl’s description of the trip was relateable for any middle-class family. It actually brought back memories of our family trips, with each one having their own agenda and own schedules but having to follow what “Mom and Dad said”. Each of them had their own perspective and reactions to the trip, which is what makes it a family.

Felicity’s description of the return flight had me in splits, her annoyance at a late-night flight with small children was very real. There have been many a time when I have sworn to myself not to travel with kids and many a time when I have been that mom whose child would create a ruckus in the flight (So have been on both sides of the fence for that one). As always the chapter written by mom is my favourite, it is almost if she is reading my mind and writing the chapter. Guess moms all around the world think the same!



Book3: The Struggle is Wheel

BOOK3 Cover_TheStruggleIsWheelFRONT

The last and final book of the struggle series, this book follows the four girls in two grades, until Diamond is about to step into the college.  The elder two girls, Diamond and Sheila learn driving and get their licenses, while the younger two, suffer through their driving practice. You can sense the girls getting more mature and more aware of themselves and the world around them. They are still a unit though. There is a part where Diamond and Sheila compare as to how Diamond is the parenting guinea pig as compared to the younger three sisters. How, when the parenting hacks by their mother and father didn’t work on Diamond they changed their techniques for the other three. This is something which I think all of us parents will be able to relate to. You can feel Diamond wanting to be an adult and yet having the uncertainty if she can handle all the responsibility. My favourite bit in this book is, however, Felicity’s take on loopholes and on group projects. I am quite sure if I made my teenager read it, he would also nod in agreement with her views. This book also has a very helpful list of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and also tips for ACT and SATs.

All three books are written in an engaging narrative style. You, the reader somehow, becomes their confidante and the girls, a treasured part of your family. It is almost as if the girls are complaining to you about the injustices wrought on them or trying to explain their feelings to you. There are illustrations (by Patrice and Faith Smith) interspersed with the narrative making it more entertaining.  To make the books more “Teachable” (to quote the girls), there are a lot of instances in the book which happens in regular lives which might be mundane but still are precious enough to make them a life lesson.

Each book has a list of questions which can be asked to the children after reading the book. There is also a vocabulary list at the end of each book, I am guessing in the hope that the children might pick up a dictionary to look up the meanings. The most precious, however, are the photos of the family at the end of each book.


*********************************************************************MultiCulturalChildrensBookDay 2020 poster

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 (1/31/20) is in its 7th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.

Seven years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues.

MCBD 2020  is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board

 Super Platinum

Make A Way Media/ Deirdre “DeeDee” Cummings,


Language Lizard, Pack-N-Go Girls,


Audrey Press, Lerner Publishing Group, KidLit TV, ABDO BOOKS : A Family of Educational Publishers, PragmaticMom & Sumo Jo, Candlewick Press,


Author Charlotte Riggle, Capstone Publishing, Guba Publishing, Melissa Munro Boyd & B is for Breathe,


Author Carole P. Roman, Snowflake Stories/Jill Barletti, Vivian Kirkfield & Making Their Voices Heard. Barnes Brothers Books,  TimTimTom, Wisdom Tales Press, Lee & Low Books,  Charlesbridge Publishing, Barefoot Books Talegari Tales

Author Sponsor Link Cloud

Jerry Craft, A.R. Bey and Adventures in Boogieland, Eugina Chu & Brandon goes to Beijing, Kenneth Braswell & Fathers Incorporated, Maritza M. Mejia & Luz del mes_Mejia, Kathleen Burkinshaw & The Last Cherry Blossom, SISSY GOES TINY by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. Norrgard, Josh Funk and HOW TO CODE A ROLLERCOASTER, Maya/Neel Adventures with Culture GrooveLauren Ranalli, The Little Green Monster: Cancer Magic! By Dr. Sharon Chappell, Phe Lang and Me On The Page, Afsaneh Moradian and Jamie is Jamie, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, TUMBLE CREEK PRESS, Nancy Tupper Ling, Author Gwen Jackson, Angeliki Pedersen & The Secrets Hidden Beneath the Palm Tree, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 by Mia Wenjen, Susan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher (Founders of Inner Flower Child Books), Ann Morris & Do It Again!/¡Otra Vez!, Janet Balletta and Mermaids on a Mission to Save the Ocean, Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo & Bruna Bailando por el Mundo\ Dancing Around the World, Shoumi Sen & From The Toddler Diaries, Sarah Jamila Stevenson, Tonya Duncan and the Sophie Washington Book Series, Teresa Robeson  & The Queen of Physics, Nadishka Aloysius and Roo The Little Red TukTuk, Girlfriends Book Club Baltimore & Stories by the Girlfriends Book Club, Finding My Way Books, Diana Huang & Intrepids, Five Enchanted Mermaids, Elizabeth Godley and Ribbon’s Traveling Castle, Anna Olswanger and Greenhorn, Danielle Wallace & My Big Brother Troy, Jocelyn Francisco and Little Yellow Jeepney, Mariana Llanos & Kutu, the Tiny Inca Princess/La Ñusta Diminuta, Sara Arnold & The Big Buna Bash, Roddie Simmons & Race 2 Rio, DuEwa Frazier & Alice’s Musical Debut, Veronica Appleton & the Journey to Appleville book series  Green Kids Club, Inc.

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts

A Crafty Arab, Afsaneh Moradian, Agatha Rodi Books, All Done Monkey, Barefoot Mommy, Bethany Edward & Biracial Bookworms, Michelle Goetzl & Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms Share, Colours of Us, Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Educators Spin on it, Shauna Hibbitts-creator of eNannylink, Growing Book by Book, Here Wee Read, Joel Leonidas & Descendant of Poseidon Reads {Philippines}, Imagination Soup, Kid World Citizen, Kristi’s Book Nook, The Logonauts, Mama Smiles, Miss Panda Chinese, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Serge Smagarinsky {Australia}, Shoumi Sen, Jennifer Brunk & Spanish Playground, Katie Meadows and Youth Lit Reviews

FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day

TWITTER PARTY! Register here!


Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.