Monthly Archives: September 2010

My Current Reading List


I have a pretty small attention span. In fact, I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that I’m actually ADD. But I’ve never been tested, so who knows? Due to my attention span (or lack thereof), I used to loathe reading. I just couldn’t make it through an entire book without getting bored halfway through, no matter how good/interesting the book was! But then I realized that I could create a reading cycle of sorts for myself. Why painfully wade through just one book when you can painlessly meander through several at the same time? It might make for a slower reading pace, but who’s to say that I have to read quickly anyway?

So now I simultaneously read at least three books (usually in different genres). Perhaps it’s also some weird, psychological issue–like I feel guilty for not reading more when I was younger or something? But whatever the case, I’ve finally developed a love for reading. So much so, that I even earned a degree in English. And as far as the issue of boredom goes? Boredom cured! Even if it takes me a long time to get through a book, reading more than one book at a time helps me actually reach the end (as opposed to giving up by, say, Chapter 6 or so). Here, then, is my current reading list. And yes, I’m really reading all four of these at the same time…and I will finish all of them! =)

A People’s History of the United States – Howard Zinn

I haven’t taken a U.S. History class since high school, but when I was still a student, one of my biggest complaints against every history textbook I ever encountered was the fact that these books were swayed to promote America as this amazing, practically flawless nation with truly Christian roots. Then a teacher of mine took a very different approach to teaching U.S. History and actually shared information with us that—gasp!—wasn’t in our very Christian, very nationalistic textbooks. To that teacher (Ms. P), I would like to say: THANK YOU!  

A People’s History of the United States reminds me a lot of my 10th grade History class; it tells you the story of this country—flaws, controversies, and failures included. I’ll admit, I sometimes disagree with the late Howard Zinn (he was very much a leftist, and, while I have my share of liberal tendencies, he and I aren’t always on the same page). But he is incredibly open and honest about his “slant.” If I were a history teacher, I probably wouldn’t use A People’s History as the main textbook; the slant, in my opinion, is a little too much, but I still genuinely respect and admire the point(s) that Zinn makes here. His thoughts are truly a breath of fresh air, and his book tells you stories that many other history books refuse, for whatever reason, to tell. I for one have insane amounts of respect for people who do their homework, and Zinn clearly has! Thus, I am loving this book and recommend it to anyone who’s interested in reading a slightly different approach to the history of this great nation.

The White Book – Ken Mansfield

A few years ago, Ken Mansfield, former employee of Capitol Records (and the former manager of The Beatles!) spoke for a chapel at NU. He mentioned his book, but it took me this long to finally get my hands on a copy. The man has an incredible story himself, but he also knows the story of The Beatles in a way that most others probably don’t. The White Book is a compilation of very personal stories and experiences—memoirs, really—and is therefore much more than a measly biography of a band. Like Zinn does in A People’s History, Mansfield uses The White Book to give you glimpses into the music industry during the 60s in a way that is totally different than any other 60s/Beatles book (that I’ve ever read, at least). An excellent read (so far)!

Find Your Strongest Life – Marcus Buckingham

I kinda, sorta hate self-help books. But I’m currently at a place in my life where I—well…need help. A former teacher and current friend recommended this one, so I finally went out and purchased a copy. I can’t say too much about it just yet, as I’ve only read a couple of chapters, but so far I’m enjoying Buckingham’s writing style and overall approach to helping people find success and meaning in their lives. He’s very practical and honest and tackles important questions like: What’s my purpose? In which direction should my life go? Am I happy? (Not that happiness is the ultimate goal, but it’s still an important issue). And these are certainly questions that, as of late, have frequented my mind.

Have No Career Fear – Ben Cohen-Leadholm, Ari Gerzon-Kessler, Rachel Skerritt

Another self-help book, but this one really hits close to home, as it is written by and for college students who are (were…in the case of the authors) bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and scared out of their wits when it comes to entering the “real world.” The book provides tips on everything a new grad needs to know: résumé writing, networking, the application and interview process, even budgeting tips and tips on how to turn down an unwanted job offer–all while being relevant, practical, humorous, and a lot less dry and cliché than other “how to find a job” books that I’ve encountered. Again, I’m not done reading it, but I’m certainly enjoying it thus far.

Blog – take 2: mad hatter style.


So, I’m apparently quite slow. It took me over a year to discover that my blog, Beautifully Broken, had the same name as an Ashlee Simpson song…oy. Believe it or not, that was completely coincidental. I actually got my inspiration from Psalm 51:17, which says: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” I really like the concept of our brokenness being a beautiful sacrifice to the Lord, and my hope was that, by sharing my brokenness through my words and posts, my readers would see beauty. But now I’m wondering if ya’ll were just thinking of the A.S. song, haha. Maybe you were, or maybe you weren’t (and if you weren’t, then yay!); either way, I’ve decided to change the name (and look) of my blog, and I’m far more satisfied with the updated version.

I was reading a friend’s blog the other day, and she mentioned this idea of learning to celebrate yourself, despite your quirks. I don’t know about you, but I often have a really difficult time accepting my “weirdness.” I generally look at my quirks and write them off as weaknesses. Not that I’m some crazy eccentric, but what if I were? Would it be okay? I’m slowly realizing that in God’s eyes, those quirks aren’t weaknesses but the very traits He wants to use to further His Kingdom.

God loves you and me for…well, being you and me. No matter what. And that’s a promise! There aren’t any conditional attachments involved. Regardless of how “unorthodox” I might be, God loves me. Furthermore, He loves every single one of my quirky tendencies. And it’s about time I began to love them, too. =) So I’m renaming my blog to Hued Unorthodoxy: A Celebration of Quirkiness, and I hope that you’ll join me as I continue to discover my oddities under this new light.

orphan (says the heart)


You need to write a blog.

Those words have been echoing in my mind for weeks. But every day procrastination overtakes me. I am naturally a procrastinator. Most people know that. But this time is different. This time I’ve been procrastinating on my writing because of the subject matter at hand:

the death of a parent.

On Friday, August 27, 2010 I lost my Nani, who was very much a parent to me—even more avidly than my actual parents. Cancer and several other health issues are to blame.

Grief is a strange (and, in my case, very foreign) concept. I’m practically an expert when it comes to other emotional phenomena: anger, bitterness, excitement, even depression. But grief is unfamiliar and therefore scary.

In all honestly, I half-expected Nani’s death to send me back into depression; I know I’m in a completely different place (both spiritually and emotionally) than I was in 2007, but I guess I thought that the shock of losing someone I loved so dearly would drive me back into that deep, dark hole again. Fortunately, though, it didn’t.

I’m not depressed, just confused and…well, lots of other emotions I haven’t really processed yet. I’m often quite scared to be alone with my thoughts, because whenever I am, I find myself missing Nani so much that it literally, physically hurts. I finally understand what that phrase means: “I miss you so much it hurts.” But I wish I was still ignorant to it, ‘cause I’m telling you: it sucks. Am I in denial when it comes to my feelings? Perhaps. Will time eventually break/heal me? That’s for God to know.

And how is my relationship with the Lord? That’s a touchy subject. Let’s just say that grief has a way of coloring your faith in hues you didn’t even know existed.

I still love Jesus, but—to put it lightly—I’m frustrated with Him. However, I promised myself that no matter what, I’d stay with Him and tell Him how I really felt. After all, what’s more meaningful in a relationship than total transparency and honesty with your companion? I could’ve cut myself off from Him like I did a few years ago, but I refuse to wander down that path again. Besides, He’s a big God; He can handle my brutal honesty.

At this point my main focus is to survive each day, despite my grief. Not an easy task, by any means. But thank God for coping strategies! What is my current “coping” strategy, you ask? Old Hindi films. Haaaa!

When you really think about it, though, it makes perfect sense: Nani was a daily—and very vivid—reminder of my Indian roots, something I otherwise ignored (sometimes unintentionally, but other times purposefully). For example, I always called her “Nani”—the Hindi word for your mother’s mother. If I really wanted to, I’m sure I could’ve called her “Grandma”; after all, I call my mother “Mom” and my father “Dad.” But “Grandma” just never seemed to fit her. Nor did it fit the relationship I had with her (a relationship that was definitely driven by some cultural undertones). So she was and will always be my “Nani.”

Also, these movies bring back memories of a better time; I remember being five or six years old and watching them with my mom and Nani…and then running around the house, singing all the songs and reciting the dialogue! While everyone else was watching The Little Mermaid, Star Wars, and The Princess Bride, I was watching Amar Akbar Anthony and Hum. (Ok, fine, I watched the aforementioned English movies, too, but they still pale in comparison to the aforementioned Hindi titles. Am I biased? Maybe a tad bit!) Even now, though, I can hear Nani’s amused laughter in my head when the oh-so-amazing Amitabh Bachchan does something ridiculous on screen…oh, what I would give to [literally] hear her laugh again!

And finally, the most shallow reason for making this coping strategy my personal method of choice: Amitabh Bachchan is effin’ hilarious. Seriously, Hollywood’s finest comedians–past and present–have nothing on this guy. I’ve been watching several of his flicks from the 70s and 80s, and all I gotta say is: Eat your hearts out, Steve Martin and Betty White! And thank you, Mr. Bachchan, for making me laugh so genuinely, despite the current heaviness of my heart…also, thanks for reviving my interest in the Hindi language and for giving me a newfound love for Hindi music! =)

I miss Nani terribly. I know she’s in a much better place, but that doesn’t eliminate my constant longings to have her physically back in my life. I hate going downstairs, seeing her things and her living space, and knowing that she’ll never inhabit that space again. Of course, then I find myself thinking about the amount of pain she was in during her last days, and I feel like smacking myself; why would I or anyone in their right mind ever want her to suffer like that again? ‘Cause at least now she’s free of that pain.  And, so, the cruel cycle repeats itself. (Oh, and did I mention that my insomnia’s back? Yeah…stronger than ever, too. Uggggh!)

But regardless of the current cloudiness of my mind and emotions, there are two things I know for sure:

First, that my grandmother was a beautiful soul and a true saint. She set the bar higher than anyone else I know, and I can only hope that I’ll one day leave behind a legacy that’s as rich as hers: a legacy of unconditional love, complete perseverance through any and all circumstances, and childlike faith that never wavered.

Thank you, Nani. You don’t even know how much you’ve impacted my life and faith. You are the ultimate example of godliness. Who needs the Proverb 31 woman when they have you to look up to?

The second thing—and I’ll close my entry with this: Amitabh Bachchan kicks ass!

Sainted Faith: a poem of remembrance


[Wrote this for my grandmother, Subhabya Devi Mudaliar, who passed away on August 27, 2010. R.I.P., Nani. Love you and miss you terribly.]


Subhag; Amma; Nani—

How can we express in words (a failed medium) our gratitude?

For your life, your love, and most of all, your faith—

Your faith in us, your faith in others, and most of all, your faith in Christ.

Time strangles and limits all that needs to be said, but we want you to know

That we’ll never forget you—

Your life, your love, and most of all, your faith—

Your faith in us, your faith in others, and most of all, your faith in Christ.

We’ll never forget the times when you suffered,

How you quietly took the abuse

Of a husband who was supposed to love and protect you.

We’ll never forget the times when you got up early, body battered and bruised

Yet you cooked, cleaned, and took care of your family.

We will never forget.

We’ll never forget the time when you left everything behind

And moved to a new country—

How you answered the cry of your hurting daughter & grandchild.

We’ll never forget your love, or your selflessness,

Or your unwavering loyalty to others.

We will never forget.

We’ll never forget the day when you forsook the idolatry of your forefathers,

When you gave your heart to Jesus;

How you prayed and how He answered.

We will never forget.

We’ll never forget the times when you cradled little children,

How you fed them, changed them, wiped their tears,

And shared with them the incredible love of Jesus.

Yes, this, we will never forget.

And we’ll certainly never forget all those times

When you held us in your arms and in your heart,

How you laughed with us, how you encouraged us,

How you cried for us

And how you prayed for us.

And most of all, how you always pointed us toward the One

Who will always hold your heart and ours.

Thank you, Amma, and thank you, Nani,

For all the times and in all the ways that you lived and loved

And displayed your faith in Jesus.

We will never forget you.

Never will we forget your life, your love, and most of all,

Your faith in Jesus.

We will always remember.