Saturday, August 22, 2009

What Happened...

... to my previous post? It has disappeared!!!

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Big Move

Despite having a month filled to the brim with things I could write about, I have not had the chance to make a post about said things. Over the past month, I have pulled out every single thing, hidden or otherwise, and decided if it would make the journey with me to Minneapolis. I donated or discarded several things – mostly clothes and furniture, and lovingly packed several other things – mostly mementos and other stuff that I don’t really need, but am too soppy to let go of.

“Arranging long-locked drawers and shelves
Of cabinets, shut up for years,
What a strange task we’ve set ourselves!
How still the lonely room appears!
How strange this mass of ancient treasures,
Mementos of past pains and pleasures;
These volumes, clasped with costly stone,
With print all faded, gilding gone;
These fans of leaves from Indian trees--
These crimson shells, from Indian seas--
These tiny portraits, set in rings--
Once, doubtless, deemed such precious things…”


While I was busy packing the evidence of my entire existence into the contents of one large cupboard, I also wrapped up other business in town and got ready to move into a quaint little studio flat that I found almost a month and a half ago. I had gone to Minneapolis to look for apartments, and stayed with my friends A & A. Almost as eager to find me a new place as I myself was, they joined me in scouting the internet for ads, and touring a few places with me. Thankfully, they also managed to keep cool heads about it unlike me, and rescued me from rashly engaging apartments that I liked on the spot. Anyhow, on my third day there, I walked into the apartment that was “the one”. I bunged in an application and the necessary holding fee the next day; and the month following this has been one of impatient and eager anticipation.

And when the day of moving (yesterday) finally came, I teamed with a friend A on this end and friends A & A on that end (I seem to have lots of friends whose names begin with A), to complete the move. While leaving a place I called home for the last five years was a bit upsetting, it was coupled with the excitement about being in a new, and well-loved city. Sadly, as I had to return the rental moving truck the very next day, the most I could enjoy of my new place was the view of a spanking clean room with old and familiar stuff dumped all over the floor. I return in three days time to piece my space back together again. Updates re: the new place shall hopefully not be as tardy as this one.

P.S. Poetry courtesy Charlotte Bronte (published as Currer Bell)

Friday, July 3, 2009

Thirty Years

I turned thirty today. I ought to be depressed – that is what thirty-year-olds are supposed to feel. But, I feel no different than I did on my twenty-nine-year-old yesterday. I expected to feel numb, but if anything I feel a sense of elation. All creation makes itself agreeable to me – the weather in Kansas City is dark, overcast, windy and wet. Some call it depressing, but it is the perfect mix of the elements in my opinion. I ushered my thirtieth year in by singing Happy Birthday to myself in unison with my sister who gave me a chocolate cake and several quaint gifts. Friends and family called and wished me, and I went to bed as happy and contented as I did the first night I came into the world.

As I reflect on my thirty years, I notice just the same mix of the beautiful and the beastly as everyone else. I have had my share of the laughter, adventure, disappointment and heartbreak that is due me. I have met and been influenced for better or for worse by the most interesting kinds of people. Sadly not one amongst them was a perfect saint, and thankfully none of them was an Iago. I am right now at a point in my life which I could scarcely have imagined ten years ago. And yet, I revel in my achievements and am satisfied and happy. And if the next thirty years of my life could leave me as contented as these past thirty have, then I shall count myself blessed.

"Here at my feet what wonders pass,
What endless, active life is here!
What blowing daisies, fragrant grass!
An air-stirr'd forest, fresh and clear."
~ Matthew Arnold

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Stupid Indian Soaps

Each evening after the day’s labors, I used to get back home and indulge in my daily dose of crap reality shows where absolutely idiotic men and women get drunk and go about competing for money, the love of dubious B-grade celebrities and so on. I was thoroughly embarrassed by my guilty hour of mindless entertainment, but since coming to India and watching Indian TV for five days, I have developed a strange sense of pride in my enjoyment of American reality TV. Indian television, which I used to love for the quality of its televised serials, has lost all its erstwhile glory. Most shows on Indian TV these days appear to be soap operas or melodrama-filled game shows.

The soap operas are so insufferably stupid, that I feel sick. In addition to having absolutely no plot whatsoever, they are infuriatingly sexist and unashamedly promote ridiculously conventional ideals. Ironically most of the characters are women, but each one of them is either diabolically evil and malicious, or unbearably conventional and good. All of them wear several kilograms of bangles that sheath their hands from wrist to elbow in a sickeningly gaudy display. Every other part of their bodies that can possibly be, is adorned with other similarly outlandish jewelry. And the ‘good’ women are defined entirely in terms of the men in their lives – as daughters, wives, sisters and mothers – not a single independent personality amongst the lot of them. None of them have an occupation – none of the wives anyway. The sisters might be something completely gender-biased such as a fashion-designer or a school teacher. The men on the other hand are mostly businesspersons and keep out of the way of the women’s machinations – is it any wonder that many Indian men think that women are not to be trusted and are underhand and devious? Furthermore, all these ‘good’ women are painstakingly devout – every second sentence that they speak is either a prayer or an affirmation of faith. At least one segment of each half-hour episode is devoted to a melodramatic prayer with the woman beseeching her deity that her mentally challenged husband (a fact she did not know when she was tricked into marrying him, but now she believes that taking care of him and lovingly feeding him his food and so on is her supreme duty) be spared the pain of losing a cricket match to his brother who is married to the wicked and scheming sister-in-law. I bet Indian television would never dare to portray an atheist spinster scientist as a good woman, or a man subscribing to feminist principles as an ideal man. I am so angry I want to punch a hole through the television screen. At least in the idiotic reality television, women are afforded the choice to be able to make utter fools of themselves. I am told that these soap operas are highly celebrated television serials. To each his own, and those that watch them are welcome to them. As for me, I would much rather watch drunken degradation than have conventionality stuffed down my throat.

P.S. Disillusioned with television, I have turned to my ever faithful entertainers – books. When mummy and daddy are off at work, knowing nothing of this strange new city, I find that I have nothing else to do but read. I’m polishing them off at the wonderful rate of one book every couple of days. I’m done with two Agatha Christie-s (one of which – “Passenger to Frankfurt” – surprisingly reads less like Christie and more like John le Carre), have finally finished “The Thin Man” (which despite Sinclair Lewis’ assertion that it is a book you cannot possibly put down once begun, I have been inching through for almost a whole year now), and am almost done with the “Vicar of Wakefield” which I am finding enormously entertaining. I hope to be done with at least five more before I return to the US.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dr. Me

This afternoon, I got all dressed up and dolled up, went to school, and shut myself up in a room with six professors for two hours. At the end of that time, I emerged alone and paced around in the hallway while the posse of profs debated about what I had said in there. Ten minutes later, my advisor popped out smiling a big smile. She then threw her arms around me in a warm hug and said:

"CONGRATULATIONS DR. ASHA STEPHEN"

Yes, after months of crazy preperation, I successfully defended my dissertation this afternoon. I can't stop grinning, want to pat little children on their heads, blow kisses to strangers in the street, and am generally in love with everything and everybody. Coming at the end of the most productive year of my life (getting my second masters, passing the Ph.D. qualifiers, proposing my dissertation, and applying and matching to an excellent internship), this is the pinnacle of my educational career. I've done it - I've got my Ph.D!!! (Actually, I technically won't until I finish my internship. But without today's victory, I would not get the degree).

I called my sister, my parents and a few friends. Then I had a quiet celebratory dinner with three of my closest friends in Ames. I shall never again have to spend sleepless nights at school, and can now enjoy my weekends without feeling guilty about not having completed research or assignments. I feel rejuvenated. Once again: Amat victoria curam!

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Auto-complete List

Ha Ha Ha!!! I feel so stupid and yet so gleeful saying this: I am now on the autocomplete function on google. This is hilarious. When I googled myself and saw my name on the auto-complete list, I was astonished. At first I thought that it must be because there are lots of people with my name. But it turns out that the majority of hits (those that do not have a comma between my first and last names) are indeed related to me. Presumably, this is either because there is a lot of information about me out on the internet, or there have been a lot of people looking me up - I am not sure which of these google uses as a auto-complete list criteria. And I am not convinced that either of these is a very good thing, but am nevertheless flattered.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What Has Happened To Me?

I don't know the answer to the above question. My life has suddenly become more banal than ever. I go from home to school and back home again in a sort of daze, and nothing seems important enough to report. Although that sounds very much like a bout of depression, I can safely say that I am actually quite happy. I have a dissertation defense date set for the 15th of May, and I am looking forward to the summer holiday. I am also beginning to wrap up things in Ames in anticipation of my big move in August. Things are looking cheery, hopeful and very busy. But nothing seems important enough to post on here. I do wish something exciting would happen to me!!!

However, having come to the terrible, but inevitable conclusion that nothing exciting or new is going to happen to me unless I make it happen, I make the following resolutions for the coming month (and hopefully will follow through on them):

ONE:
Will buy a nice variety of alcohol and mix myself a fancy cocktail every other night. (This one is inspired by an envious admiration of my friends A & A's choice collection of booze bottles).

TWO:
Will watch ABSOLUTELY NO cable television - especially crap reality shows (news shall be excepted); and go for an hour-long walk each night instead in order to enjoy the wonderful weather that Iowa is getting these days. This will also be time to muse and think up things I want to post on here.

THREE:
Will call one of my friends each night. Maybe the reason for the dried up imagination is the unwitting isolation I've let myself into during this busy month.

FOUR:
Will eat at one (or two) restaurant(s) each week which I have not been to during my stay in Ames. For Lent, I gave up eating out when I was not travelling. While this did vastly improve my home-cooking and bank balance, it did rather take a lot of fun out of the eating. Now, I intend to savor every single non-chain restaurant in Ames between now and August.

Let's hope that makes life more interesting and gives me more to write about. Stay tuned...

I've Been Busy - In Verse

I have been busy all month, and these lines from Anne Bronte's "The Student's Serenade" capture what the past few weeks have been like.

"I have slept upon my couch,
But my spirit did not rest,
For the labours of the day
Yet my weary soul opprest;
And, before my dreaming eyes
Still the learned volumes lay,
And I could not close their leaves,
And I could not turn away."
~ Anne Bronte (published as Acton Bell)

I'm writing an update that I'll post in a little bit...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Fourth State

Today, Vermont has become the fourth U.S. state to legalize gay marriage — and the first to do so with a legislature's vote. This happy news comes at the heels of the April 3rd legalization of same-sex unions in Iowa, the state I live in. On Friday, the Iowa Supreme Court legalized gay marriage by a unanimous decision. And today, Vermont did so by the legislature's vote. Of course, there is widespread uproar and unrest at these decisions. Already, opponents of the same-sex marriages are seeking constitutional amendments that will reverse these controversial laws.

I simply do not understand people who oppose same-sex marriage. I get that many people, for primarily religious reasons do not think that same-sex relations are right. And I am okay with religious institutions not accepting such unions. But why some people think that the non-religious state should discriminate against gay individuals (or indeed side with a religion on any issue) is beyond me! Homosexual individuals and their allies have yet to go a far way in their struggle. Congratulations to them on their second victory in the same week!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Beaded Lace

Those of you who know me, know that no matter how liberal I might be in terms of my attitudes and beliefs, I tend to be pretty old-fashioned when it comes to my tastes in design, décor, architecture, and lifestyle. My furniture is well-worn and cozy, I rarely hang abstract pictures on my walls, my surroundings in general tend to veer away from minimalism or cold straight lines, and anything that is old or antique finds a warm reception in my environment. Of course, this makes me less fashionable. But I don’t care too much about that sort of thing.

In my quest to obtain quaint little knick-knacks for my home, I comb thrift stores, garage sales, antique malls, and so on. However, I rarely make anything old-world myself. Since it would seem that most of my creativity in writing seems to have dried up over the past few months, I decided to craft something. I was looking for inspiration, when I found it in the old britcoms that I watch. First in “Jeeves and Wooster”, and in quick succession later that night in “Rumpole of the Bailey”, I chanced to see two very delightful beaded lace jug covers. I was captivated and wanted one.

Following some preliminary research, I found that lace covers used to be used in pre-refrigerator days to keep the flies out of drinks. The lace was usually weighed down with beads so it stayed in place and did now blow away easily. I briefly considered making my own lace, but discarded the thought quickly – I can’t tat very well, and I wanted this jug cover quick! So, off it was to Hobby Lobby where I purchased several glass beads, and a lace doily. Then, I beaded round and drop beads together and sewed the loop to the ends of the doily. The result is magnificent – not quite as authentic as a real lace jug cover, but close enough. I’ve been using it all the time ever since. Mostly to cover a jug of lemonade, but I also have started using a creamer for my tea – which I have never done before – just so that I may be able to use the lace. This fascination won’t last of course, but it’s fun while it does.

P.S. I could not help clicking lots of pictures… enjoy!

Beaded lace on the lemonade jug…



…on a glass of lemonade…



…on the creamer that I usually don’t use…

Monday, February 23, 2009

Match Day News...

I just heard about my internship for next year... I got matched to the University of Minnesota - Minneapolis! Yahoo!

Laissez les bon temps rouler!!!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Green Fountain Pen

As Valentine’s day came and passed, I began thinking about all the different loves of my life. I am not talking about the various things I am passionate about, and these are numerous. No, I am talking about the men I have been infatuated with. These have been numerous too. By now, you all know that it takes me absolutely no time to build up a fantasy land, replete with fantasy situations and fantasy romances. Throughout my life, I have built fantasies around many things – places, objects, music, animals… the list is endless. Individuals of the opposite sex occupy no small part on this list. Talking about all of them is going to take too long. Maybe I’ll start a series on them. But today is devoted to the charming W. who gave me a beautiful green fountain pen.

On the street that we lived on when I was growing up, there were no other children my age. Everyone who was not an adult was either an infant, or belonged to that delightful section of teenage where one firmly believes that one is an adult, and is always shocked to see that one’s parents don’t think so. In any case, once I returned home from school, other than my sister I had no one else to play with. The infants were boring and played ridiculously childish games that I thought were shockingly stupid and completely beneath my level of maturity. And those in their late adolescence treated me with a sort of benign pity, as if to sympathize with how young I was while also thanking the heavens that they were not that young and they never again had to be. Interestingly enough, all of these arrogant youngsters happened to be boys. The girls of such an age seemed to be secreted in the inner chambers of their houses. Hyderabad in those days used to be a much more conservative city than it is today. We lived close to the Old City, and it was not at all unusual to see burqa-clad women walk the streets, and for less-than opulent houses to have inner chambers that functioned as the women’s quarters. In any case, this was where the young women were – shielded from the eyes of the young men. But this is beside the point – it is the boys, or rather a boy that is of interest to this story.

Two doors down from my house, was the home of a large family. There was a grandfather, and a grandmother, and numerous uncles and aunts, and an absolute army of children – whose ages ranged from the early twenties to a few months, though still none in my age group. I always wondered as a child how they all fit into that one small house. As I grew older, I noticed that the presence or absence of the members of this clan seemed to rotate with the seasons. January and February belonged to Uncle X and his family, May and June to Auntie Y, and so on. It turns out that only the grandparents actually lived in the house, their numerous offspring - most of whom lived abroad - turned up about once a year to visit them.

One summer holiday, when I was about 12 years old, a new kid whom I had never noticed before surfaced within this clan. I call him a kid, but in reality he was about 7 years older than I was. He was cheerful and charming, but ever so intrusive. I was used to regarding this family (and indeed the inhabitants of my entire street), as interesting subjects from an anthropological viewpoint, and observed everybody closely. For the most part, they never noticed, and if they did, they all ignored me. That is, all except one. The new kid started back – as though I provided him with as much amusement as he did me. He would even go a bit further – he’d follow me around and stare at me. It’s not quite creepy as it sounds because I think he did it as a way of putting me in my place. And like all the other young men his age, he regarded me with a sort of benevolent pity. And he always had a smile playing at the corners of his mouth – an open and ready smile. He seemed to find my embarrassment, and my discomfort enormously entertaining. I hated him. At times I had an advantage over him – the vantage point from which I did most of my ‘anthropological observing’ was a section of my house which had a sort of screen one could look through without being seen. From this vantage point, set higher up than the single-story house he lived in, I observed him go about his day. It was sheer delight to be able to watch him – he had the other children devotedly following him about, and he seemed to be a favorite amongst those older than him. He was charming and delightful. I never could hear what he was saying, but he had everyone in bits and pieces. And watching him made me smile. Two months later, he disappeared.

Two years later, he miraculously appeared again. This time, I was older and wiser, and did not spend too much time perched behind the screen wall on my roof. I had my tenth class board examinations to study for – they were a year away, but my mother made sure I was at my books each day in preparation. Every once in a while, I’d see him in the street and he’d smile at me with the same kind of benevolent sympathy that he had done two years before. But this time, it infuriated me. What was his problem, I’d mutter to myself, fuming! I was fourteen, and practically and adult! What did he mean by smiling at me in such a pathetic fashion? How dare he? Did he not see that I no longer had time for this? He might be here to enjoy his summer holidays, but I had no time to waste. I would seethe with anger at him. But anyone who has been fourteen, and has professed hatred for someone who once fascinated them, knows that beneath the burning passion of fourteen year-old hatred, beats the heart of a much more tender feeling – fully blown infatuation. I was smitten by him. The more he treated me like a child, the more I wanted him to feel I was his equal. The more benevolently he smiled at me, the harder I fought back the tears. The more good-natured he was, the more violently I sobbed at night. He haunted my thoughts day and night. I experienced a rare and beautiful heartache, all summer long.

Two weeks before he left Hyderabad, one balmy summer evening found us both on our terraces. I was reading an old and battered book. He was playing with one of the numerous infants who inhabited his house. I would look coyly at him, and he would smile. It took me all my courage to stay put and not disappear indoors. Surprisingly, it seemed that he was finding it difficult to say something to me. This was not lost on me, and it made my heart ache even harder for him. Finally he spoke, and I heard his voice for the first time. There was nothing spectacular in his voice or what he asked me, but it was sweet relief to hear it. He asked me what I was reading. I told him, he asked me if he could see the book, and he scaled the terrace that separated our homes. As I passed the book to him, he smiled, and I saw that he was shy too. It was the closest I had ever been to him, and I was weak at the knees. He flipped through the pages of the book and then asked to borrow it. I nodded assent – I would give anything to talk with him again. He asked me my name. At the time, I had been reading another book in which the child-heroine was called “Susanna”. I told him that was my name. I knew instantly that he did not believe it – he knew my name already. But he said nothing, and told me it was a beautiful name. In that moment, knowing that he went along with my little falsehood to humor me, I loved him more than ever. His name, he said, was W.

All week long, I repeated his name to myself countless times. I built beautiful fantasies of a shared life together. It was the most delightful week of my fourteenth year. A week later, he returned my book to me. On one of the pages, he had written his name and his address in a faraway land. He also seemed to have scented the page – because it smelt wonderfully like him. He wanted me to write to him, he said. And he gave me a slim box wrapped in festive foil. He bade me open it, and I did. In the box was a green Parker fountain pen. It was beautiful. I promised to write. A week later when he left, I sobbed myself to sleep for a fortnight. We exchanged two letters. In the letters, he called me Susanna. But the intensity of my feelings for him was lost in them, and I looked forward to his return two years later.

When he did, we were both older. He tried to talk to me once, but out of fear of something unknown, I was unkind to him. He left again, only to return a year later. This time around, we got an invitation to his wedding. I felt empty when I saw the invitation, and although I knew that I did not love him, I was jealous of his new bride. At the end of that summer, I left to go to college in Kerala. The next time I saw him was four years later. I was twenty-one, and he was twenty-eight. He had always been handsome, but now he was radiantly so. He had lost none of the charming and impish smile, but it was tempered with an easy and mature air that became him well. One evening, as I was walking along a different street of the colony, a motorbike pulled up beside me. I looked around sharply, and there he was. He had a small child on the bike with him, whom he introduced to me as his son. The child had his father’s good looks, and good nature. ‘Can we not be friends?’ W. asked, and I said that we could. This exchange was neither bursting with supressed passion like our first had been, nor bitter like our later meeting had been. It was easy, and light. It was also our last. I have not seen him since. As long as my sister lived in India, each summer I’d ask her if he had come home for the holidays. I don’t love him anymore, maybe I never actually did love him. But I dearly cherish my childish infatuation.

The green Parker fountain-pen was stolen from me at my college-hostel. It was well-loved and well-used, and I never wrote in my diary with any other pen until it disappeared one day from my desk. I still have the diary in which I wrote of my childish fantasies about W. And on my bookshelf in Ames, sits a book whose inner pages hold a long-faded scent, and a slightly smudgy name and address that remind me each time I read them of balmy summer evenings, and beautiful heartache.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Two Years

It's my blog's second anniversary! Two years and counting...
Also, HAPPY VALENTINE's DAY to all my readers!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Paulina

On Sunday afternoon, I was feeling bored. It was beautiful outside, and I decided to walk to the grocery store instead of driving. Right next to my local Hy-Vee is a Goodwill store, and I often stop in here to see if I can spot a good item at a bargain price. I usually don’t. But this Sunday, between the framed pictures, and the furniture, I found a gem! It was a black wrought iron clock – beautifully built. It was also a Howard Miller clock. I don’t know very much about clocks, but I knew enough to know that this was a clock of a rather good make. I grabbed it up and looked for any tell-tale signs about why it might have been given away to Goodwill. None presented itself. It was in perfect condition - not a scratch or dent. So, I walked to the sorting room and asked an attendant if he had a couple of batteries so I could see if the thing worked. It did. I was still skeptical – maybe it did not keep very good time. It was marked at $3.99, so I thought I’d give it a shot. I could always re-donate it later if I found it faulty.

So, holding it in my hand and went to browse the second-hand books. As I was looking at the books, a voice behind me said, “That’s missing a piece.” I turned around. An elderly gentleman was smiling at me and pointing at my clock. I was surprised. It looked okay to me. He must have sensed the confusion in my face. “The pendulum”, he said. “That clock used to have a pendulum.” I turned the clock over and looked at it. The man pointed at the spot for the second battery. “It only takes one battery to run the clock. The second one is for the pendulum. Maybe you could buy one and replace it.” I smiled and thanked him, and asked if he was the one who donated the clock – how did he know all this? “I used to be a clock-maker”, he said. It sounded sad. I thought clocks were dished out my automated machines. “That was long ago” he added, “We went out of business years ago. I am retired now.” Where could I get a pendulum, I asked. He told me I could find one at a clock-store, or online. “That is a good clock. A great bargain.” I thanked him, and bought the clock.

Then, I did some research online. I was looking for a pendulum, and it is surprising how few clock parts are available online. Anyway, I typed in “wrought iron pendulum” into Google Images, and there it was – my clock, plus pendulum. It turns out, this Howard Miller clock is called “Paulina”, and retails at $61 on sale. I called Howard Miller today, and it turns out each Howard Miller clock has a serial number. I gave them mine, and asked for a pendulum. And they are sending me one – no charge, and no shipping fee. I was astonished. What an amazing chain of events! My Paulina has to be the best Goodwill bargain I have ever got. She also keeps perfect time. :-)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Villette

Happy New Year everyone! Over the first two weeks of January, I have been very busy – I’ve been doing bunches of interviews and then took a long road trip to visit a few places I am interviewing at. In the complete absence of a computer and a TV, I finished two books – I listened to a book on CD in the car, and read a Rumpole book while I wasn’t driving. Considering that this is in less than two weeks, I am quite impressed with myself. Not too bad, eh?

The first book I finished was Villette, considered to be Charlotte Brontë’s best work. Although Brontë’s Jane Eyre has always been one of my favorites, Villette has surpassed Jane Eyre in my opinion and has risen up to my top three books of all time next to The Way of All Flesh and Brideshead Revisited. It is a BEAUTIFUL book – it gives one an intimate view of the thoughts and psychology of the narrator. It is amazingly expressive, sensitive, and touching. Towards the end of the book, I could not bear how heart-wrenchingly sad the plot was getting and was streaming tears as I was driving (this was the book I read on CD). On the last CD, I had to pull over and sob uncontrollably because of the transparent beauty of what I was hearing. Villette is a semi-autobiographical book which draws heavily on Charlotte Brontë’s time in Brussels at the pensionnat of M. and Mme. Heger. Brontë’s love for M. Heger was unrequited, and the depth of her sadness is reflected in Villette. The intensity of her love and pain is described beautifully. It smote my heart to think that love like that had in real life been spurned. I alternated between so many emotions as I listened to the book – love, anger, joy, hatred, despair… It is a rare writer who can draw out emotions like Brontë did from me through Villette. God bless her!!!

Roundup of the books I read last year – I surpassed my goal of twenty-four books by three.

Lord Emsworth and Others - Wodehouse
Poirot Investigates - Christie
The Miracle at Speedy Motors - Smith
Murder in Three Acts - Christie
The Golden Ball and Other Stories - Christie
The Penge Bungalow Murders - Mortimer
Mr. Parker Pyne, Detective - Christie
Funny Boy - Selvadurai
The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories - Christie
Dolores Claiborne - King
Espresso Tales - Smith
A Season of Betrayals - Hyder
44, Scotland Street - Smith
Murder at Hazelmoor - Christie
Morality for Beautiful Girls - Smith
Persian Girls - Rachlin
At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances - Smith
The Good Husband of Zebra Drive - Smith
No Country for Old Men - McCarthy
Blue Shoes and Happiness - Smith
The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs - Smith
Portuguese Irregular Verbs - Smith
The Kalahari Typing School for Men - Smith
Tears of the Giraffe - Smith
Kamasutra - Vatsyayana
The Full Cupboard of Life - Smith
Forgive Us Our Press Passes – Skidmore