Sunday, 23 November 2014

You Know You're an Introvert When...

Random, fun list time!!

Howdy, the internet! I thought I'd write about something close to my heart today. Actually, introversion resides deep within the core of my heart. It's a pity that a lot of people don't understand what introversion actually is. It's not being shy or being anti-social. It's just... a way of living.

Hey, I love hanging out with my homies as much as the next person. But after a long day of being around people, I like to charge my battery of awesomeness by being alone. Not because I hate people (well, to be honest, I do, but most introverts don't), but because being alone rejuvenates me.

Without further ado, let's get to the main topic of today's blog post. So, fellow Geek, you know you're an introvert when...

1) According to you, one of the worst sounds in the world is the phone ringing:

Imagine this scenario. You're cuddled up in bed, or on the couch, eating your favourite snack, watching your favourite show or reading your favourite book. And then, suddenly, in the midst of all that silence, in the midst of all that serenity, you hear a noise. Your body tenses. Your hands tremble as they hit 'pause' or shut the book. And then... you reach for you phone to see who's calling you.

Ugh! I don't know why, but the sound of my ringtone fills me up with dread. I usually keep my phone on silent for that very reason, but even the thought of my screen lighting up with someone's name and the call icon upsets me to no end.

I like being social. I really do. But do I have to do it on the phone, where you can't see me, where I have zero emoticons to express myself with, where I'll be subjecting people to silence because I don't know what to say?

Here's a message for everyone who knows me personally and is reading this: unless you're my sister, my mother or my father, please do not call me. (That goes for you too, best friend. Sorry, Man. You know I love you!) Even if I do pick up, you'll only get a half-hearted attempt at a conversation from my side.
Instead, why not drop a message on Facebook, or WhatsApp, or email? I find it so much easier to express myself in writing, and you'll probably enjoy my presence much more on the internet.

2) Music and books are your best friends:

It's the weekend. It's exam time. Your friends are too busy doing some last-minute cramming to hang out, but you've already finished revising... three times. Looks like it's going to be one boring weekend.... NOT!
An introvert is never bored as long as he or she has two things: earphones and access to a variety of books. Oh, and a music library. Three things.

My ideal weekend would be curled up in bed on a winter's night, drinking green tea, listening to soft music and reading a good book. I wouldn't mind having someone there with me - maybe a trusted friend, my dearest sister, or a handsome, fictionesque man who loves to listen to me read - but being alone doesn't make me uncomfortable at all.

I've gone to watch a movie alone. I've had breakfasts and lunches and dinners alone, multiple times. I've hung out in college an hour before college, alone.
But I've never really been lonely because I'm not actually alone. I have many different fictional worlds that I can delve into (with background music!), where I can spend minutes and hours and days and years thinking about things that have nothing to do with my own life. That's the dream!!!

3) You're just not a hugger:

There are always these people in every school or college or workplace who are obsessed with hugs. And I mean obsessed. They feel the need to hug you every time they see you. A simple 'hi' or a 'what's up' or even a fist bump isn't enough. Nope, they have to touch their body with yours just to greet you.
(Wow, that sounded weird.)

We introverts like our personal space. We have a little imaginary bubble around us that you just can't cross unless you're authorised to. The only people allowed to cross my bubble are my sister and my parents. (Once again, sorry, dear best friend.)

Hugs can be very comforting when I'm upset or when I've just had a horrible day. But all the time? No. Just... no.

4) You like talking, just not with random people about random things:

You're waiting in line for the lift, headphones in place and a nice train of thought forming in your head about that science fiction movie you saw yesterday. And then suddenly, the person in front of you turns around, and hey! It's your classmate whom you only know on a semi-first name basis!
And the lift is still five floors away, the classmate is opening her mouth to talk, so you have to take off your earphones and talk politely about things like homework or the weather or tell her why you left so early from that rad party last night.

Ugh! Is there anything worse than talking to mere acquaintances about things that are zero percent mentally stimulating?
I'm a talker once you get to know me. I can talk your ears off. I'm doing that right now, aren't I? Look how many words I've said so far on this very page!
But that's because this topic interests me. And because I know that a lot of my favourite people will be reading this blog.
If you're not my best friend or my family or one of my closest friends, do not talk to me about pointless things. Talk to me about the life lessons learnt from your favourite book, about new innovations in science, about the many problems with our justice system (do you know how many people are wrongfully convicted for crimes they did not commit? Do you?!). That's how you make friends with an introvert.

5) You're secretly happy when plans get cancelled:

So you finally agreed to go to your friend's friend's friend's birthday party. You agreed to go to that concert with the really cool DJ that you've never heard of. You said you'd love to go to that fancy dinner place with the really expensive food that you can't pronounce.
But then... the birthday party gets postponed. The DJ changes his mind about coming to your city. The fancy dinner place turns out to be fully booked.

And all you can think is... HURRAY! Now you can stay in your pajamas, hang out with a friend or two, have some tasty food, have a Sherlock marathon... and you won't even have to feel guilty about cancelling.
That's the dream, people. That's the dream.

These are the top five things that really define who I am as an introvert. Do you have any other awesome quirks that only we introverts exhibit? Do you have any cool quirks that you, as an extrovert, exhibit? Tell me in the comments below!

So... are you an introvert or not, fellow Geek? If you agree with some but can't relate to the rest, check out this personality test to find out a lot more about yourself. It'll also tell you how much of an introvert or an extrovert you are.

I hope you enjoyed reading this semi-personal post. Next time will probably be a random update, because my semester ends in just a few more days and I absolutely cannot wait! And after that.... the review for Mockingjay Part 1 will be out on November 28th, after I finish watching it, first day, first show.

See you then, Geeks. Bye! :)

Sunday, 16 November 2014

'Boyhood' Movie Review

Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, Boyhood is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason, who literally grows up on screen before our eyes. Boyhood charts the rocky terrain of childhood like no other film has before. Snapshots of adolescence from road trips and family dinners to birthdays and graduations and all the moments in between become transcendent, set to a soundtrack spanning the years from Coldplay's Yellow to Arcade Fire's Deep Blue. Boyhood is both a nostalgic time capsule of the recent past and an ode to growing up and parenting. 

An anonymous reader asked me to review this movie a few days ago, and this was my first review request, so of course I had to go and watch this film!

You don't get too many films like this one. This one doesn't really have a story, per se. There's no shocker in the middle of the film, there's no climax towards the end. This film is very general, but it's not generic.

It starts off very well, with some amazing music by Coldplay, and the first half will completely suck you in as you relive your own childhood, full of sibling rivalry and fandom moments and moving to new cities and schools (at least in my case). The first half is also very funny, but at the same time, it isn't light-hearted. There are a few moments which are very tragic and, unfortunately, a tad too dramatic.

The dialogues are very witty and the music is simply lovely. Watching all the actors age in front of your eyes is also really enjoyable.

However, as much as I related to the first half, I couldn't relate to the 'teenage' moments at all, although I'm sure many of my fellow classmates could. I was never a rebellious kid and I never really succumbed to peer pressure the way many people did and still do.
I guess in a way, the second half was sort of a let-down. Mason, as a child, is very likeable, but as a teenager... he becomes so clichéd! So does his sister, as a matter of fact. 

And a few moments do seem to drag... it doesn't help that the movie, within around 165 minutes, tells a story spanning 12 years. 

But at the end of the day, you don't get too many movies like this, whether English or Hindi. And with so many mind-numbing and brainless Bollywood movies releasing every week, it's good that we still have some sensible cinema to look forward to. 

I'm going to go for 3.5 stars out of 5 for this one. 
Great acting, dialogues and music, but if you don't have any patience, skip this one. Or, you know, if you're under 18, don't watch this. Because it's rated R for language.
Otherwise, keep an open mind and enjoy this movie. Be sure to check out the trailer below.

Thanks to the anonymous reader who requested this review. You rock, stranger! 

And the rest of you lovely readers - feel free to request any sort of blog post that you'd like me to write. Seriously, you have no idea how happy I feel when I realise that people actually like reading the stuff that I post online.

I've got exams just around the corner, but I've got a ton of ideas for some more blog posts this week. Stay tuned, Geeks. Bye. :)

Saturday, 1 November 2014

'Gone Girl' by Gillian Flynn: A Book/Movie Review

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favours with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

Wow. Just... wow.

I'd read this book about a month ago and I'm not sure why I didn't review it... probably because I didn't know how to.
But now that I've seen the movie (which, to be honest, is one of the best book-to-movie adaptations I've seen till date), I just had to do a blog post about it. 

Let me be honest with you - this book and this movie may scar you. You might spend some time thinking that people can't be that crazy in real life... can they? You might even wonder what you'd do if any of it happened to you.
But you probably won't be able to stop thinking about it for quite a while.

Nick Dunne isn't the kind of character you can root for. He's the protagonist of this novel, and who likes a protagonist that can't be trusted? Nobody. But that's the beauty of this story. We may not like villains, but we absolutely adore stories about them. And that's really where Gone Girl hits the mark. 

This story has more negative characters that you can count. There's creepy and crazy oozing from every main character on paper or on screen. There will be a hundred thoughts running through your head as you follow the story. This book or this movie has a lot of sucker-punch moments, especially a really big shocker around the middle of the story. And it only gets better and better with every passing minute of the second half. 

Gillian Flynn is quite the writer. She has a way with words, although that way is rather... twisted.
Here are some great quotes from the book:

“My mother had always told her kids: if you're about to do something, and you want to know if it's a bad idea, imagine seeing it printed in the paper for all the world to see.” 

“I often don't say things out loud, even when I should. I contain and compartmentalize to a disturbing degree: In my belly-basement are hundreds of bottles of rage, despair, fear, but you'd never guess from looking at me.”  

“Because you can't be as in love as we were and not have it invade your bone marrow. Our kind of love can go into remission, but it's always waiting to return. Like the world's sweetest cancer.” 

“We weren’t ourselves when we fell in love, and when we became ourselves – surprise! – we were poison. We complete each other in the nastiest, ugliest possible way.” 

David Fincher's direction is also exceptional. He truly has brought the book to life. But the credit goes not just to him, but to the actors as well.

I'll admit that when I saw the trailer, I wasn't too psyched about it. Ben Affleck as Nick was still understandable, but Rosamund Pike was not the Amy I had imagined.

However, she did a really good job portraying Amy. And trust me, Amy is one of the most complex characters to portray on screen.
Neil Patrick Harris, as Amy's ex-lover Desi Collings, was just the perfect mix of creepy and cool. Carrie Coon, who plays Nick's sister Margo, and Tyler Perry, who plays Nick's lawyer, are both commendable as well.

I'm going to go with 4 stars out of 5 for Gone Girl: the book and the movie.
It's the perfect book to read just before bedtime, in the dark, and the perfect movie to watch if you're looking for something that's equal parts suspense and humour. I'd recommend it for all mature audiences and readers.

A fair warning, though, that this story is a psychological thriller. (It's rated R. Tread with caution.) It will mess with your brain. There are a lot of gruesome moments that will leave you cringing and averting your gaze. There are also moments that will leave you wide-eyed.
If you have a weak stomach, the movie especially is not for you.

Otherwise, go for it. Read the book, watch the movie. Make the most of this weekend. You won't regret it.
Here's the trailer, for the curious:

If you've read the book or seen the movie, let me know what you thought about the story. What did you think of that ending? How had you expected it to end?

Until the next post, Geeks! Bye! :)

PS: Make sure to like my Facebook page! I post regular updates about my geekie life.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Just a Random Update #2

Hello, dear Geeks!

Happy Diwali to all those who celebrate this lovely festival. My family actually doesn't, unless you count eating sweets as celebrating Diwali, in which case we do.
So I'm home right now, in Hyderabad, and I'm actually rather bored. I guess I kind of miss my life in Mumbai, because at least there I know what I'm supposed to do. My days aren't this... empty.

Life has been very hectic. I've got so many group projects to do - and you all know how much I hate working with other people! Not to mention the fact that our finals are coming up next month and I haven't started studying, and that I've completely lost touch with my French, German and Kannada.... so I've decided to drop a few of my online courses and focus on only two courses at a time: one on Coursera and one in college. Otherwise, I'm just going to explode.

Since my first random update post in July, things have changed. I've made a couple of friends. There's my fandom friend (Harry Potter, THG, Pokemon, Spidey, Divergent - boo yeah!), my first-bench friend, my girl-talk friend, my 'what's up' friend, my annoying friend... I'm not strictly part of a group of friends yet, but this is more than enough. :)

I have lost touch with my school friends, though. Not counting my two best friends, I don't really talk to anyone from home. And the funny thing is, I don't miss them as much as I thought I would. I guess some friendships aren't meant to last forever.

I've decided to give more time to my writing. I finished my first novel in the summer, as you may have heard on my Facebook page, and I'm actually done with about a hundred pages of another one! I think writing and blogging should help me deal with the stress of college and studies.

In other news, I recently did this:

Yes, I cut off my hair. I guess I needed a fresh start in terms of my appearance. I've had long hair for too many years, after all. I can't make any fancy braids anymore, though, so about one-third of my Youtube subscriptions are going to go to waste.

I've been taking great care of my body lately. I gained 4 kgs in the three months since college started thanks to my workouts. I'm hoping to gain a few more kilos and then maintain that weight. And I've been eating healthier (not counting Sunday, which is Junk Food Day. Because only pizza can make me forget about the upcoming Monday morning blues.)

(This reminds me: if any of you are from Mumbai, check out Joey's Pizza. A hundred times better than Domino's or Pizza Hut, and affordable, too!)

Oh, and Mockingjay Part 1 comes out in just a month!!!! I'm almost finished with my fourth or fifth re-read of the Potter books, so I'm going to re-read The Hunger Games next, just in time for the movie. If you haven't already, check out the trailer here:

Think I'll do a book review or a grammar post soon.... until then, bye-bye! Have a safe Diwali, gang!

Don't do that. XD

Sunday, 12 October 2014

'In Your Dreams' by Kristan Higgins: A Book Review

Everyone loves Jack Holland, but Emmaline Neal needs him.
Her ex-fiancé is getting married in Malibu and, obviously, she can't go to the wedding alone. In Manningsport, New York, tall, blond and gorgeous Jack Holland is practically a cottage industry when it comes to rescuing desperate women. He knows the drill, Em figures, so he won't get the wrong idea. 
What Jack needs is an excuse to leave town. Ever since rescuing four teenagers from a car wreck, he's been hailed as a hero and the attention is making him itchy, especially since his too-pretty ex-wife is back, angling for a reunion. He's always liked Emmaline. She needs a weekend date? No problem. 
So when they wind up in bed together, Em chalks it up to red wine and chocolate cake, just one impulsive night not to be repeated. But Jack's pushing for more, and if she lets down her guard, either she'll get her heart crushed again, or discover that Jack's worth more than just dreaming about.

I previously reviewed The Perfect Match, the second novel in the Blue Heron series by Kristan Higgins. This one, In Your Dreams, is actually the fourth one. Although I liked Waiting on You (Blue Heron #3), I didn't review it because of reasons I can't quite remember.

Anyway, In Your Dreams talks about the love story of Jack Holland, the town's knight in shining armour, and Emmaline Vance, the local cop who doesn't need saving from anyone - except maybe when it comes to her ex-fiancé's wedding with the woman who ruined their relationship.

The first half of the novel is all about Emmaline and Jack's past, the wedding of the aforementioned fiancé, and the chemistry that slowly starts to develop between our two heroes. The second half is all about the what-ifs of their relationship.

As I've mentioned in the review for The Perfect Match, Kristan Higgins has a flair for writing flashback chapters. The chapters about Emmaline and Kevin's friendship-turned-relationship-turned-breakup and John and Hadley's failed marriage are simply so well-written, emotionally powerful and captivating that I still want to reread them.

The big lead-up to Emmaline and Jack's first night together is, in true Higgins fashion, incredible.

But I felt like the novel went slightly downhill from there.

I enjoy reading about the supporting characters. A novel shouldn't have just one storyline, after all - there need to be a few secondary plots as well. But maybe In Your Dreams exceeded the limit by just a little bit. From the teenagers' accident to the local school's at-risk students to Jack's ex-wife to Emmaline's sister to the Holland family's personal subplot... the book started to seem less like a romance and more like a family drama.

The few scenes between Jack and Emmaline just weren't enough. As a reader, I couldn't really enjoy the pace of their relationship. I'd like it if the supporting plots were cut down and some more Jack-and-Emmaline moments were added.

The book is hilarious, and there were a few moments, especially at the beginning, where I had to control my laughter so my roommates wouldn't think I was mental.

Some romantic moments are definitely crackling with electricity, and I enjoyed the fact that this novel has no real 'villains'.

But to be honest, I'm getting a little tired of The Blue Heron's characters. It seems like now, in every book, we're being reminded of Faith-and-Levi, Honor-and-Tom, Colleen-and-Lucas, and all their mini-storylines. I get that this is for the newcomers to the series, but... reading about some other characters would be interesting.

I think the next book in this series is coming out next year - it's the story of Colleen's brother, Connor (and I'm not too sure of his love interest) - but I'm hoping that it's the last one. As much as I love the idea of Manningsport, New York, I also love the idea of new towns and cities as the setting for the next Higgins novel.

I'm going to go with 3 stars out of 5 for this one. 

A very promising start, but a middle and end that somewhat plateaued. Still, I've got my hopes high for the next Higgins book that comes my way. Until then, I'm going to read one of her other novels and dream about true love and eternal happiness.

See you next week, Geeks! :)