To read or not to read .....

Ever since I can remember, my fifth appendage has been a book. I'm one of those kids who learned to speak/read before they could walk. And chances are if you have been travelling at the same time as me, and seen this Indian girl with her nose well into a book, notwithstanding turbulences, delayed trains, lousy weather, in short any and everything, this would be me. So, here's the confession. It's been 6 months, since I last picked up a book to read except for the latest HP. It's impossible to really put down in words how this has affected me, it's a void I try to fill with other hobbies, movies etc and I cant help feeling extremely sad and scared at this turn of events.

And it doesnt help that the memories of books I've read before have suddenly changed. I noticed sometime ago that I had been exclusively reading women authors. This wasnt a conscious decision on my part, it's just that any time I picked up a book which seemed interesting, it had been written by a woman. A quick bookshelf survey turned up a couple of books by male authors, but none for immediate reading - there's Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, which I havnt been able to get past the first couple of pages each time I've picked it up, there's Garcia Marquez's 100 years of Solitude which I'm not in the mood for at the moment, Che Guevera, which again needed major mood filtering and Ken Follett - the Pillars of the Earth.

So I read Pillars way back when, I was around 14/15 and I thought it was the greatest book ever, a grand epic story blah blah etc. I was so excited about it, I even picked up a copy to give to my gf T, on her bday. Of course, T read it and was not very impressed, I'm sure she thought it was a crapola gift, while I couldnt understnad how anybody couldnt like this book. She's generally rightabout things, so I wonder why I didnt reevaluate at that time itself. Anyway, this book has been collecting dust on my bookshelf for years now. Recently, I took it out for a re-read ..... and I cannot progresss beyond the mediocre writing, and humdrum plot. I can understand outgrowing someone like Archer, but Follett ?? Or else, in the intervening years, I've visited the Salisbury cathedral and didnt find anything inspiring about it. Maybe, the reality doesnt match upto my imagination. Maybe I have ADD. :( But, now I'm left wondering if every book I ever loved as a child is going to turn out to be a major disappointment :( Or worse yet, what if I've gone off reading completely?

The Scent Of a Man .......

This post started off as an exercise in weaving together a review of a perfume and a short story (?? haha) together. Read on ....

That smell again! Shruti closed her eyes for a minute, allowed herself a deep breath and just as the sensual base notes worked thier way insinuatingly along her nasal passages, she jumped up in her cubicle. Row after row of similar looking cubicles met her frantically searching eyes, distinctly devoid of a new presence to indicate the sudden chemical shift in the air.

Groan, not again! It's owner had mysteriously vanished into the office ether, from whence he seemed to emerge intermittently, to torture her. Just to be sure, she stepped into the adjoining cubes of Ramesh and Rajesh, the RR twins she called them, and sniffed cautiously. Ramesh ignored her, Rajesh cast her a harassed glance and went back to his phone conversation.

No doubt, they thought she'd lost it completely, as had most of the team members in the days leading up to the deadline. As she last lingering hints of the frangrance dissipated, Shruti pondered her particular sensitivity to this smell. Amber, definitely, one of her favorite components in a perfume, the main selling points were that it smelled fresh, not overpowering and defintely sensual ..... or maybe it was just a state of hypertension induced as a side-effect of looming deadlines and caffeinating herself with the nasty, saccharine-sweet vending machine coffee. She frowned down at her desk, had it really been 5 cups ... and it was only 12 pm. She trashed the vile viscous-brown-sludge-filled cup and turned with a sigh back to the cursor blinking demandingly on her laptop ...
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... big, hairy, well-shaped hands", ended Renuka on a triumphant note, as she dipped the fluffy, soft idly into the steaming sambhar on her lunch plate, and raised the spoon daintily to her lips. "They've got to be well-manicured, though! And now to wipe that smirk from your silly faces, let's hear from you. Ms. Shruti, what turns you on ??"

Neela grinning smugly at the temporary reprieve, raised a questioning brow at Shruti."You know, I have been thinking lately of the power of smell ...".

"Who figured you for a closet gym-bag-sniffer", chortled Renu. "Dont be disgusting", interrupted Neela, excitedly, "I know just what she means. Smell is not high up there for me, but the raw scent of musk intermingled with sweat after a game of tennis ... mmmm ... masculine..."

"Ugh, musk!! I've been smelling this perfume the last couple of days, it's mild, yet intense, modern and fresh, just what I imagine the perfect man would smell like. The topnote combination of ginger pepper cocktail, raindrop accord and chilled sudachi exudes the promise of elegance, of a man who can be ultra-passionate, then, when the heart notes of black basil, cedar leaf and hydroponic sage take over, the hint of freshness indicates an exuberance for life a sense that at the right moments in life he can be humorous, organised or romantic and by the time the base notes of creamy suede, addictive patchouli, brazilian redwood and solid amber invade your senses, you realise euphorically you can be intensely attracted to this man."

"So, did you list this perfect man to Vishal, before or after you got engaged?", asked Renu, dryly.
"Of course, not", cried Shruti, "I'd probably hate it if he turned out to be this perfect human being, but dont you just love it when a man smells so wonderful, like he belongs and is in control of his surroundings. It's easy to close your eyes, let your olfactory senses be pleasurably tingled by the perfect combination of spiciness and tanginess on skin ...."

"... and whose skin would that be?? I didnt hear Vishal's name anywhere did I??", spluttered Neela.

Shruti eyed her guffawing companions with extreme disfavour. "Allrrrr-ight!!! Neela it's your turn now, musky, sweaty men is it??? ..."
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".... and in conclusion I would like to thank everyone whose hard work and dedication has made this project a huge success. Now, it's time to let down your hair and have fun. All drinks are on me tonight!"

Shruti, looked around at her laughing teammates as the applause after the CEO's speech died down. They had all been so busy lately working round the clock, it was time to return to the normal 8-hour a day shift though her sense of heightened unreality still persisted. It would probably take her a few days to return back to normal. The rest of the team, seemed intent on settling down to some serious partying. An RR twin, appeared at her elbow, "Hey Shruts, am off to the bar, kya peeyogi?" "A lime martini, no wait", she cried, "I see Neela at the bar, I need to talk to her, I'll get it myself ... thanks!"

As she walked towards the bar, idly wondering when Vishal would arrive, she suddenly caught a whiff of the elusive citrusy smell she had been obsessing about for days. Whirling around in excitement, she finally spotted him. He had his back to her, all she could see were a well-shaped head and a medium-sized frame clothed in a slate-gray pinstriped business suit.Her heart thumping a tad erratically, she headed in his direction. He nodded to her pleasantly and made way for her at the bar.

"Hi, I'm Shruti", she said. "Nikhil, I've just joined the HR division here. Actually, it's really nice to meet you, you've been pointed out to me as the petite powerhouse of the banking division", he continued, smiling "I've just been getting to know people the whole of the last week, I didnt want to come over to your side of the office and disturb anyone there, you all looked so busy".

"Nikhil, before you continue, could I ask you something personal", stammered Shruti. She noticed a wary look creep into the eyes of the man in front of her. He was probably conjuring up an imaginary girlfriend this very minute. Oh well, nothing lost, nothing gained. She took a deep breath and continued, "Could you .... please ..... tell me which perfume you use?"
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Rating:
Euphoria Men, the new fragrance from Calvin Klein, an addictive oriental with an intruiguing freshness and modern sensuality.

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