Book Review | A Perfect New York Christmas

Title: A Perfect New York Christmas
Author: Sudesna Ghosh
Pages: 50
Price: INR 99

51lx9shli8lA Perfect New York Christmas by Sudesna Ghosh is a warm, fuzzy Christmas read on friendship, love and New York City. Aditi visits New York, a city she had left a decade ago, for a Christmas sojourn to meet her best friend and perhaps an old love. But more importantly, she craves the perfect New York Christmas. And this is a trifecta she cannot resist.

New York City is the hero of the tale. Times Square, Central Park, the cafes, Ghosh paints them all beautifully, and with a tinge of nostalgia. Not regret.

A Perfect New York Christmas is also a beautiful portrayal of friendships among women. A theme I also noticed in her previous book, My Singapore Fling.

However, the book left me wanting. There is excitement, anticipation and passion but I felt that everything happens just too smoothly and easily. No conflict, no self-doubt, no anxiety. I admire Aditi’s boldness but she felt a little too perfect and unreal. Perhaps, a little too sure of herself and what she seeks. It is partially refreshing because there is little drama and theatrics but it also reads a little bland in a few instances.

A Perfect New York Christmas is slightly different from Ghosh’s previous books but it showcases what she is most passionate about: pets, writing, make up accessories, friendships and lastly, New York.

It is the type of feel-good read that you want to curl up with on a cold afternoon under a quilt, while sipping some hot chocolate and munching on cookies.

Ghosh’s previous titles include:

Find A Perfect New York Christmas on Amazon.

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Book Review | My Singapore Fling

My Singapore FlingTitle: My Singapore Fling
Author: Sudesna Ghosh
Pages: 84
Price: INR 99

My Singapore Fling by Sudesna Ghosh is a contemporary, fast-paced and engaging read on modern dating in India and its woes. You will meet Dipa, a 30-something Bengali, Kolkata-based writer. She’s had her share of heartbreaks and now seeks a fun, meaningless, no-strings attached fling. And so she travels to the island city of Singapore in search of an accent. Yes, an accent. Because she is crazy about men with British and Australian accents!

What struck me about My Singapore Fling the most that it is very Indian in its setting and context. And is devoid of any guilt or judgement. Dipa seeks a fling, and she is extremely honest about it to herself and gal pals. No covering up of the intentions or motives. Ghosh’s writing also lays bare the many insecurities that women must come to terms with in a changing India today. Do not also miss the strong emphasis on the importance of your gal pals. Across countries and time zones.

The word hedonism often came to mind while flipping the pages, and I was left with a silent smile. Because Ghosh often articulates a women’s oft ignored dreams and desires. Dipa is very clear about she wants, and her honesty is refreshing. With My Singapore Fling, I was often reminded of Bridget Jones and Sophie Kinsella.

I also had a hidden agenda. I’ve read two of Ghosh’s previous titles: News Now – Being A TV Journalist and What Would I Tell Her @ 13 and was curious to trace her evolution as a writer. And My Singapore Fling made me feel all warm and fuzzy within.

I’d say the book is best enjoyed with a dessert and beverage of your choice. And I know what I’m gifting my gal pals next!

Find My Singapore Fling on Amazon.

Book Review | 50 Cups of Coffee: The Woes and Throes of Finding Mr Right

Title: 50 Cups of Coffee: The Woes and Throes of Finding Mr Right
Author: Khushnuma Daruwala
Pages: 196
Price: Rs 250

50-cups-of-coffee-original-imaesy785jxdzbhv50 Cups of Coffee: The Woes and Throes of Finding Mr Right by Khushnuma Daruwala sounded intriguing. I was looking forward to it. The first chapter was a breeze, it set the context and premise for the book. It was light, tongue-in-cheek writing, akin to a conversation across the table with an old friend.

The book is a narration of Dia’s (Daruwala’s friend) fifty dates, all described in Dia’s voice. I particularly love the disclaimer that Daruwala inserted in the lines:

“While this book will do absolutely nothing to allay her fears regarding the paucity of good men, it hopes to lift her spirits and offer a kinship to all women who have suffered similarly disastrous dates.”

And kinship it offers with the many hopeless conversations and incidents that Dia shares with us in the subsequent pages.

Daruwala warns you of the non-linear flow, making it easier to jump in at any chapter. The book also answers why coffee shops are preferred for most first and early dates: “They are casual, allow for quick exits and more importantly, the unlimited flow of caffeine and sugary treats help soothe frayed nerves.”

The chapters are short reads with snappy titles, almost like a compilation of blog posts. Daruwala covers a range of issues: from men with mommy issues to stalkers.

The book held promise. But I ploughed through most of it. It was funny and humorous, but it told me nothing that I didn’t already know. The writing is cheeky and clever but there’s a lot of drama and hyperbole within the pages. A tinge of despair, too. And after a while, it got frustrating to read Dia’s stance. From being a sympathiser in the first few pages, I got almost exasperated in a few instances towards the end. Some chapters just didn’t make any sense and seemed like a forced insertion to touch the number 50.

But 50 Cups of Coffee left me with one insight: Why do the good bits outshout the bad? The answer lies in the theory that negative memories (unlike the positive) “get fragmented into different parts—the feeling, the visual, the sound the sensations, etc. are all saved as different ‘files’ in different parts of the brain. Which is why when you try to retrieve a negative memory, you merely retrieve one part of it and not the whole memory. Which in turn makes it feel weaker and less intense.”

That’s my takeaway from the book. I was hoping for a nice warm, fuzzy read. What I got were a bunch of exaggerated reflections, which led me to wonder why Dia was still out there in search of Mr Right, when she could have just gone on with life unscathed.

Tiny leaps of faith

It read like a regular engagement invite. Time, venue, directions, et al. And I had vaguely heard about their relationship. They had been introduced to each other on Twitter by a well-meaning friend. And it had been a long-distance relationship for the last few months. She and I bonded over words. He and I were acquaintances at best.

The sun and the clouds played hide and seek that afternoon. Alternating between powerful bouts of sunshine and a gentle soothing breeze. It was a small, intimate gathering (later I remarked to the husband that I was overwhelmed that they counted us among their closest set of friends). But both sets of parents were conspicuous by their absence. A fact that nagged me the entire time.

When the couple took centre stage, after a flurry of photographs, both candid and posed, it was refreshing to see just the two of them. Standing next to each other. Alone, but together. Just like their days to come would be. One for the other. There were some awkward pauses with the microphone in hand. But they led each other by instinct. Conviction. And hope.

They exchanged rings with wide smiles on their faces. They showed off the rings like they had been rehearsing for that very moment all their lives. And they let the emotions flow. She spoke of how “normal” her fiancé is, perhaps his most endearing trait. And he acknowledged her planning skills. They sang for each other, full-throated. Oblivious that they had an audience. And both reiterated that the simplicity, intimacy and informality was a conscious decision.

It was a brave, bold thing to do. I had dreamt of an engagement ceremony just like this. But I had lacked the conviction and strength to push for it. And that Saturday afternoon showed me what I had missed. It was a subtle reminder of what I should have stood up for.

I left the venue feeling bittersweet. In awe of their courage. And a little disappointed by the lack of my own. But I knew that change was on its way. In the tiny leaps of faith, I saw that afternoon.