Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Blame storming: Why conversations go wrong and how to fix them - Rob Kendall

A simple and effective way of studying communication in conversations.

I have to admit, after reading thriller and fiction genre for a while, reviewing a non fiction felt a bit like a challenge. However, I was glad to discover that I enjoyed reading it. There is something easygoing and pleasant about the book. I found it to be a great experience and ahem, picked up some tips as well.


We humans are a talkative race, our relationships are based on two way communication, be it verbal or non verbal. Communication occurs at various levels, in society. Language and communication therefore are crucial to any and every part of society.

However, more often than not, instead of using this important tool to our advantage, we end up abusing or worse, misusing it. We say something when we mean quite the other, a classic recipe for arguments, accusations and what not.

What works:
  • It is very easy to read. There are no heavy jargons or technicalities to put you off. The book speaks to you in a easy, friendly way. 
  • The examples are all simulated situations between characters. A handy tool to explain a point instead of long meandering paragraphs.
  • The topics are short and effective and the points are relevant. I found myself relating to many of the mistakes I tend to make. Obviously the author knows his stuff.
  • The book highlights clearly and cleverly the several pitfalls of letting emotions dictate sentences.
What doesn't :
  • Hard to say. I found myself dipping into it occasionally, often going back to remind myself of something. However, I am not sure how it will be if you read in one go. Perhaps, it can be a bit tedious. 

In a nutshell, it is a great read. For those of us, who feel we are great communicators but wonder what we said wrong, this book can come handy. It offers insight and tips to avoid pitfalls and improve verbal skills. An excellent aid for communication workshops or for readers with an interest in language and communication.


Thursday, 2 October 2014

Slipping Through My Fingers

It was a big day for us. Our firstborn was taking her first steps towards her academic journey; it was her first day at school.

It was something both Cheeky and I, were looking forward to; Cheeky, because of all the hype about “moving in to the big school". For me, it meant having her off my hands while I attended to my toddler son, without her endless questioning plaguing my actions.

Ever since we told her the school was starting in September, she would ask each day, least a few times. "What month is it?", "Is it September yet?"

photo courtesy:
Despite misgivings among friends about the school readiness of young 4 year olds, P and I were happy to see Cheeky off. As compared to the regimental style education we received as kids, we prefer this system, that coaxes young minds through play rather than a pedantic engagement with academics.

However, a school is an unfamiliar environment and I was worried she would be exposed to words, behaviour and information from various sources. A point of nagging concern, an unfounded fear.

Despite the fact that the school has children mostly from educated families, there was a sense of trepidation. Will she be singled out by the older kids? Will they be nice to her?

On the day, as the sun played hide and seek behind the clouds, Cheeky woke up bright and early, eager to get through the morning routine and get to school. She was excited and an early breakfast meant, she struggled to get it all down. Within minutes, she was posing for pictures to send her grandparents and be off.

At the gate, she rushed in to join the others, blending into the vibrant atmosphere. She was eager to show off her shoe box we decorated over the holidays, packed with craft projects and holiday pics.


 As she neared the threshold, she let go of my hand and joined the line, without being told to.  I saw a slow transformation taking place. She was excited but composed as she queued up and asked for her bag and the box. She was already looking ahead, her head full of what lay in store. 

As I stood beside her, it hit me then. My little baby was grown up already. It was time to let her go, to have her own experiences without my watchful eye over her. It was teary, a-lump-in-the-throat moment.

Somewhere, there was a sound.
She said “Oh, that’s the bell, I need to go, bye, mum.”

She walked right in, leaving me forsaken, without as much as a backward glance. It was a moment filled with pride and fear. 
Pride at having such a confident child, laced with a fear for the unknown.

As I walked back, I was gushing with pride; my eyes were flooding with tears and the song from Mamma Mia kept playing in my head-

Slipping through my fingers all the time
I try to capture every minute
The feeling in it…..

It felt great to be a mother. 

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

September- Rosamunde Pilcher

An atmospheric novel set in the Scottish highlands.

This is my first Rosamunde Pilcher book and I am glad I got to read it. I had watched some of the films based on the books and they had a nice feel to it.

Pilcher's stories are quite straightforward. However, what sets them apart is her characters and her descriptions of the place, the setting that dominates the story.

The plot is set among the gentry where the focal point is a dance party that brings people of different ages yet connected to each other, one way or another. The dance party is set in September and as a run up to that big event, there tiny domestic situations in the lives of the characters that takes the story forward and builds the pace to it.

What works:
  • The details of the characters are good. The reader gets to know them quite well, although the style is a lot different to contemporary writing.
  • The story winds its way from the streets of london, up the scottish highlands, setting the scene for confrontation, confidences and explanation. It runs very well.
  • The insight and the objective gaze as projected by the Violet the central character is sharp and perceptive. Pilcher scores on her insight and the way she presents the tiny details in the character's persona.
  • Although, it is old fashioned, the characters keep you entertained and there is also a twist in the end, which makes it worth your while. 

What doesn't:
  • The story starts off slowly and builds up gradually. It takes a while before the action starts and that can be a bit trying for the restless reader.
  • There is something quite old fashioned about the story, maybe because there are no grey shades and you get a feeling that though the characters are steering away from societal norms, they do end up towing the line and all is resolved easily. A bit too convienient for my taste.
A good old fashioned read. If you are looking for something for a change that is not complex yet highly readable, then September may fit the bill.