Palo Alto: I’ve Been Here 2 Weeks Now

The move happened. Finally. It’s been a crazy month (maybe a crazy month and a half), but I’m a resident of Palo Alto now, as opposed to Bangalore. Here are my first impressions. Maybe it’s not totally accurate to say ‘first impressions’, but I’ll get into that later in this post.

First thing you need to know about Palo Alto is that the population is ridiculously smart. I’m serious. Apparently it’s one of the most educated cities in the world. Whaddya Know?
Part of it is Stanford (I’ve seen the campus- it’s gorgeous. Plus, it’s right across the road). Stanford is the most selective university in the US (yep, it beat Harvard and MIT out). And is arguably, better than Ivy League.
So we have thousands of insanely intelligent students doing their bachelors, masters and doctorates. And then we have the Professors who teach them. Woah, right?
The other part of it is that this is ,very simply, where the Silicon Valley began. First there was HP and AOL (I think Yahoo was here too, at one point). Then there was Apple and Facebook. San Francisco, Cupertino, Sunnyvale- they all became techie hubs much later. So, of course, we have a bunch of super-smart (smart, not just intelligent) coders and software architects here.

And it’s not just enough for the people here to be intellectually brilliant. Nope. Palo Alto is pretty much a biking city. Or a jogging city. Or a flat out, how-are-you-running-that-fast-that-long-without-sounding-like-you’ve-lost-a-lung? city. So, we have a bunch of healthy and fit people here too. As if that’s not enough, they’re nice too.
It’s all very intimidating…If I’m not careful, I’ll get an inferiority complex.

But honestly, I sort of love being here. I’ve gotten used to the weather (which while technically not cold, felt freezing to me after coming from hot summer Bangalore). I’ve gotten used to people smiling at me as they pass by on the streets. I’ve gotten used to all the greenery around (even in the middle of a draught, Palo Alto is gorgeous). I’ve gotten used to heated swimming pools.

I used to live in the area about 6 years ago (not in Palo Alto), so it’s not all completely new to me.
Confession: I used to use ‘hella’ all the time.
And some things are different- not bad, just different. But, I think I’m excited about living here.

By the way, a lot of World After and End of Days (from the Angelfall series) takes part in Palo Alto. And yes, I’m majorly stoked that I’m living in a place where one of my favorite books was set.

Advertisements

“There were three of them, all with rapiers, and she had only a dagger. It would have been a wretchedly uneven fight, if she were human.
It was still a wretchedly uneven fight; it was just uneven in her favor.”

Book: Crimson Bound
Author: Rosamund Hodge

Crimson Bound

Blurb:

When Rachelle was fifteen she was good—apprenticed to her aunt and in training to protect her village from dark magic. But she was also reckless— straying from the forest path in search of a way to free her world from the threat of eternal darkness. After an illicit meeting goes dreadfully wrong, Rachelle is forced to make a terrible choice that binds her to the very evil she had hoped to defeat.

Three years later, Rachelle has given her life to serving the realm, fighting deadly creatures in an effort to atone. When the king orders her to guard his son Armand—the man she hates most—Rachelle forces Armand to help her find the legendary sword that might save their world. As the two become unexpected allies, they uncover far-reaching conspiracies, hidden magic, and a love that may be their undoing. In a palace built on unbelievable wealth and dangerous secrets, can Rachelle discover the truth and stop the fall of endless night?

Inspired by the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, Crimson Bound is an exhilarating tale of darkness, love, and redemption.

My thoughts:

I really don’t know where to start with this book. I mean, I thought Cruel Beauty was good but when I was done with this book I think I just sat stupefied, my mind a blank vacuum. And I mean that in the best way possible. This book is a mashup of Red Riding Hood and The Girl With No Hands (off the top of my head, I can’t figure out which fairytale that was-but don’t worry, the story had some elements which gave me an eerie sense of deja-vu). Normally, I have no patience at all for Little Red. I don’t mean to sound callous, but if you’re a little girl and a wolf tries talking to you on your way to Gramma’s house, then you start screaming and run to the closest crowded place. Jeeze, isn’t that the whole point of Stranger Danger? But Rosamund Hodge did something miraculous in Crimson Bound- she made Red Riding Hood relatable. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a hero? And which teenager hasn’t felt that ridiculous bit of hubris that we could save the world- or if not that, at least change it for the better? I have to admit, my answer to both questions is a ‘not me’. But I’ve learnt that sometimes, our harmless attempts to save the world end up hurting ourselves. And sometimes, talking to a creepy stranger in an attempt to figure out how to defeat his master ends with a pervert taking away what makes you human and dooms you to the life (or maybe, just an existence) of becoming a creep like him. And the result of this situation is one badass but relatable heroine who’s into self-flagellation (I’m weird because I’m majorly into figuratively self-flagellating protagonists. What can I say?  Their internal monologues are always interesting.)

Like always, Rosamund Hodge keeps the romance interesting, a little crazy and profound. Okay, make that a lot crazy and a very slow, sweet romance (I know, who would’ve thought?).There’s a confused sort of love-triangle, but even if you don’t like love triangles,  don’t immediately strike this book off your  list; the romance is so twisted and the characters are so confused about each other, you’ll end up liking it. And the writing is impeccably deep. Some lines or paragraphs will just strike  somewhere deep in your heart.

Be warned: Here lie intrigue and betrayal. Let me just say, I  saw those betrayals coming about as well as Rachelle did- which is to say, not at all. And those betrayals… they gutted me absolutely. If you like the kind of  books which will turn you inside out with their devastating plot twists (that you would have totally seen coming, if only you hadn’t been so absorbed in the story), then you will love this books to bits. You will love it even as the tears are running down your face. That’s a promise.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Quotables:

“This is the human way, she thought. On the edge of destruction, at the end of all things, we still dance. And hope.”

“Mademoiselle, you are very kind,” he said to Soleil. “But I did not lose my hands for the purpose of making you feel special.”

Other books to Read: Cruel Beauty, Juliet Immortal

A Court of Thorns and Roses: A Book Review

Title: A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1)
Author: Sarah J Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)

Blurb:

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

My thoughts:

I absolute adore the Throne of Glass series. So as soon as I knew that S J Maas was writing another book, it went on my TBR list-no questions asked. It’s another retelling of the fairytale Beauty and the Beast along with a good, old-fashioned dose of village folklore and it’s…beautiful.

I really didn’t like Feyre at the beginning of the book. She just seemed so Mary-Sueish as soon as I found out she was single-handedly taking care of her family and they didn’t even appreciate her. What was even more irritating was the fact that she had taught herself how to hunt and how to patch herself up once she got hurt. Not to mention her over the top distrust and cynicism. Cliche, anyone?

But I forgave Feyre quickly enough once she got over herself. The worldbuilding in this book was absolutely fantastic and so was the writing. Here are a few examples:

“I threw myself into that fire, threw myself into it, into him, and let myself burn.”

“I was as unburdened as a piece of dandelion fluff, and he was the wind that stirred me about the world.”

“You look . . . better than before.”
Was that a compliment? I could have sworn Lucien gave Tamlin an encouraging nod.
“And you hair is . . . clean.”

Elegant and beautiful, isn’t it?

The love interest’s in this book were a hundred times hotter than the ones in the Throne of Glass series. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Tamlin was sweet and considerate at some times, totally feral and dangerous at other. And he was amazing, but really I’m all-like TEAM RHYSAND. If I read things correctly, we’re going to have a love triangle (normally I don’t like those but I’ll make an exception for this series) on our hands in the next book. Join me on Team Rhysand because Rhysand is dark, mysterious, has scarier powers- Oh! And he gets the best dialogues.

So if you liked Throne of Glass, you’re going to love this book. If not, you may like it but definitely not to the same extent. And I feel the need to warn you: this book is targeted to the older side of the YA audience. While you might enjoy it as a 16 year old, I wouldn’t recommend letting your little brother or sister read this book.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

If you like this book, you should read: Cruel Beauty, Throne of Glass


Pearls of Wisdom from the Book:

“Because all the monsters have been let out of their cages tonight, no matter what court they belong to. So I may roam wherever I wish until the dawn.”

A life for a life–but what if the life offered as payment meant losing three others?”

What I Like (and Don’t) About Bangalore

Let’s play the numbers game.
1 me.
Moving back 2 the Bay Area.
With 3 other members of my family.
Making 4, the number of cities I have lived.
I’m moving in 5 days.
I’ve spent  6 years here

No matter what numbers you take, Bangalore has been a pretty significant part of my life. I’ve lived here since I was 10 and have spent a significant part of my childhood here.
A lot of different people on separate occasions have asked me what I liked most about Bangalore and what I hated most about it. Here’s the list:

What I Liked About Bangalore:

  1. The People:
    Usually when people say something along these lines, I’m inclined to believe they’re sucking up. But since I’m leaving, I really have no insidious motives behind this claim. I mean this with the utmost honesty: the people in Bangalore are brilliant. The people in Bangalore are so naturally friendly and ready to help, its amazing. You could meet a total stranger and they’d go out of their way to help you-literally. Whether you need directions, recommendations or help understanding someone else’s language, bystanders will gather around to provide help (sometimes more than you need).
  2. The Food:
    One thing I’m really going to miss about Bangalore is the food. Contrary to some North Indian’s expectations, Bangalore is not a land of idly-dosa-vada. I mean it is, but there is so much more too. Being India’s silicon valley and home to so many friendly, open-minded people- Bangalore is a haven for expats and their cusine. Lebanese,Arabic, Chinese, Italian, Mexican, South Indian, Mongolian, North Indian, French- all of these cusines are available within a radius of 2-3 miles around my house. The prices are cheap and the food is plentiful (compared to American prices and standards). Also, you can choose to have anything (and I literally mean anything) delivered to your house.
  3. The Attitude:
    Maybe this goes with the people part, but it’s more than just the people- it’s the atmosphere. It might just be the weather (which is perfect by anybody’s standards) but everyone is easy-go-lucky and willing to take their own time. Despite the relaxed, comfortable, non-judgemental attitude (or maybe because of it), people take serious pride in their work. It’s inspiring.
  4. The Languages:
    It’s not something I’m proud of but I never learnt much Kannada (the state language). I just never needed to. If you went to any other city, in any other country- you would find it impossible to survive without speaking the native language, or at least you’ll be confined to the foreigner parts. Not in Bangalore. I think on the whole, Bangaloreans have really have a knack for languages.I once met an auto driver (an auto’s like a taxi but smaller and open-air) who could speak 11 different languages. The fact that I only know two- Hindi and English- makes me feel ignorant and inadequate, but I never had difficulty communicating with anyone (when you added hand gestures and numbers to the mix).

What I Disliked About Bangalore:

My least favorite part of Bangalore is getting around.
Buses are too crowded. Those pictures you see of people hanging out of bus doors and windows? I’m reluctant to say this- but during rush hour it’s totally true. I’ve ridden in buses like that a couple of times and I did it only because it was absolutely necessary. The air-conditioned buses (we call them red buses unofficially) are a bit more comfortable- provided you can find one and get a seat in them.
Namma Metro (Our Metro) is a work in progress- very, very slow progress. Though it’s clean, fast and uncrowded, at the moment, the metro doesn’t really connect anything. When it finally connects all of Bangalore (in another hundred years or so) it will definitely be convenient. But right now, it’s mostly just a hassle.
Same goes for the auto’s and taxi’s. You have to haggle a lot with the auto-wallahs and the taxi companies often forget to send cars. When you add this to the crowded roads, slow speed-limit and aggressive drivers, getting around by taxi or auto is not really an attractive proposition.
The lack of footpaths and the open gutters nix the idea of walking too.
Oh! And make sure you ask more than one person for directions. Bangaloreans, on a whole, are unwilling to admit that they don’t know the area very well (even if they are just as new to the area as you are). If you’re not careful, and you ask people who are unfamiliar with the area and don’t pause to double check the directions, you’ll end up with a list of bogus instructions which will confuse you to no end. At the same time, Google is equally confused about Bangalore Roads; It’s accurate only about 60-70% of the time.
All in all, getting around Bangalore is not easy or fun.