November 26, 2007

Shopped till we dropped, then shopped some more

What a fantastic holiday this was. Last year, I was here for Thanksgiving, but I found the whole idea of getting up at an ungodly hour in the morning and running for deals a bit foolish. I remember we went to Kohls at 1pm and by that time the Black Friday deals were over.

I don't know what brought about the transition, but I was quite excited to do major shopping this year. For all those who don't know, Thanksgiving is the biggest and craziest holiday in the US. We get 4 days holiday! The limelight of this holiday is the Black Friday Sales. Major shops all over US offer items at cheap, discounted prices. Most of the shops open at 6am Friday morning. However, people who want to buy costly items such as laptops, stand in the line from Thursday night. Crazy na? But I think it's understandable. I mean, if I am getting a 800$ laptop for 500$ bucks, even I would stand in the line. The details of these deals are released on certain websites such as this and this. Your local newspaper sold on the previous day also contains details about all the deals.

We purchased the newspaper Thursday eve weighing around 3kgs. I even took a snap of the width of the paper. We sorted out all needed deals and jotted down what we wanted to buy from where. While browsing on the bestbuy website, I came across a cool deal for a Sony camcorder. We immediately bought it. At 12am, we went out for a drive to Circuit City and Best Buy to see the line outside these shops. People had actually put up tents outside these shops! We came home by 1am and had no desire to sleep. However, we wanted to conserve our energy for the next day so slept from 2-4am. Got up at 4 and was out of the house by 5. Walmart had a good deal for portable DVD players. Unfortunately, we reached there at 5.10 and all the players were gone by then:(. So much so for getting up early. We were thoroughly disappointed by this first fiasco. Luckily, the next stop at Radio Shack got us a good PDVD at a good price.

Next on the list was Circuit City. We picked up a MP3 player, couple of flash drives, camera memory card, and a camcorder bag. After standing in the Circuit City checkout line for close to half hour, we went and picked up our camcorder from Best Buy. Next we reached Oxmoor centre containing a dozen different shops including Macy's, Sears, Disney, Bath and Body works. I found a cute teddy in Disney and stood in the line for 45 minutes to buy him. I picked up some good creams from Bath and Body works, they had a great sale going on and I had a 10$ off coupon. I bought some nice jewelry from Macy's. In Kohls, P bought some T-shirts and miscellaneous items. I was eagerly eyeing the Fabberware 14pc non-stick cookware set sold for 50$, when P reminded that we possibly couldn't carry all the items to India whenever we went. I was really sad to let such a fabulous deal slip out.

It was very, very cold that day and it was impossible to find parking. We visited 7 shops in all and shopped for 7 hours. If this was not enough, the next day we went to Edinburgh Premium Outlet and shopped more clothes, perfumes, and shoes. I also bought beautiful beads from Bead Palace. We both were very happy with all the shopping and most importantly we didn't buy unnecessary stuff. Over all a great shopping experience that I will never forget. It's a different matter that my legs ached for 2 days after the shopping:)

November 1, 2007

The Namesake

There are some books which are so good that you don't feel like putting them down till you have completed them. These are called page turners. And then there are some books which are so good that you don't feel like putting them down, and yet to want to read them slowly, savoring each word and each emotion expressed in them. 'The Namesake' by Jhumpa Lahiri is one book that falls in the second category.

I watched the movie before I read the book so I knew what was going to happen when. I loved both. While Tabu and Irfan Khan have done an excellent job through their acting, Jhumpa has vividly described each character through words. When she wrote about Ashima, I imagined Tabu performing that action.

She writes in a simple yet powerful language. Her words flow flawlessly as she weaves a wonderful story through words, sentences, and paragraphs. You can imagine each character through her words and situations. She has not described characters by providing their height and weight; she has brought forward each one of them through lovely situations. I loved the scene when Ashima finds the brown shoes intriguing and tries them on. But most of all I loved the scene when Gogol and his father forget the camera and go to the farthest point near the beach. The father tells Gogol to remember this day and Gogol enquires for how long he should remember it. His father replies on the lines "Remember this day forever, Gogol, when you and I made this journey to the point where there was nowhere left to go."

Each character has some flaws, yet you love all of them. Jhumpa shifts attention from one character to the other. The book is primarily based on Gogol's life - his childhood, teenage years, his studies, love life, behavioral patterns, and actions. It's based on his struggle to accept his name and know the story behind it.

I don't think that I can say the book was only about Gogol's life. It's about a young bride who leaves everything behind and comes into a new country. It is about the young couple who slowly get accustomed to life in US, yet find it impossible to adjust to its culture. It is about one night that alters the path of a young man's life. It is about children who find it more important to spend time with their friends rather than go home for some pooja. It is about generation gap. It is also about Indian culture and cultural differences.

Nothing in the book sounds false or stretched. I found myself nodding my head a lot of times. Jhumpa describes a scene when Gogol thinks about Indian and American woman. Indian woman get hyper when they call guests for dinner, they cook for 1-2 days. They will rarely accompany their guests while eating, and even if they do, one eye is fixed on the guests' plate. Isn't this so true? I too do the same:))

There were a lot of times I had tears in my eyes while reading this book. I always get irritated when I read books that have hanging ends, but this book was an exception. It went in the list of my favorite books. My favorite character in it is Ashima. I am definitely going to buy it.