Category Archives: Books

On Being Cultured

A counter culture comes out of people who don’t identify with the mainstream culture. 

I have spent a lot of time at boarding school. Due to which I feel like I don’t know much, and i haven’t seen much of the world. Like when  i got out of there, it was so overwhelming for me, i am still recovering. But what came as a culture shock for me was that the people I idolized, they were so much more advanced than I was. They read Goethe, Freud, and blah blah. I on the other hand read  just the mainstream young adult novel series and had read so little books. I wanted to write, but they were so much better writers than me. I knew nothing about the references they made. I felt left out. I felt timid and unpopular. I felt like I could never fit in.

I watched Disney, I watched chick flicks, I listened to Ke$ha and my room was covered in pop culture celebrities’ posters and pin ups, I had spent thousands of rupees on collecting music cds and DVD’s that were looked down upon as trash. I was like that naive young character in the movies who speaks in a paindoo southern accent and steps out into the big city and people make fun of him. Like that receptionist guy from 30 Rock. I was a misfit in the world of people i wanted to be a part of. And i knew not how to navigate it.

I have always had this complex where I’m not supposed to have the things others have, or i need to be the first one to have it; i need to have something when others don’t have it. It has not got to be mainstream, it has to be hidden, but at the same time it’s supposed to be cool and “me.” I will not go for different things for the sake of being different, it has to connect with me. It has to make me feel unique and lost and at the same time, more refined and left out. While it worked at boarding school where I was bullied on my choices, I realized that in the real world, nobody re reads their Princess Diaries novels daily (I would literally have read the series about a 500 times) and imagines they’re in a music video and sing the songs out loud (yes, i think my life is a music video and my iPod is the soundtrack supervisor).

But this approach didn’t work. I was left lonely and confused about where I stood. I was then thrust into med school ( I use thrust because it’s not something I wanted at that time). That didn’t get me time to actually go through all the things that “those” people loved and who made them who they were. But I didn’t stop doing what I liked. I didn’t stop liking what I liked. Mainly because I didn’t have time to refine myself due to the workload, but I kept being myself. That was my mantra, be myself.

I felt the dire need to be cultured. To refine my taste according to the people who were cool. I would go to those hipster hot spots in Islamabad and feel rejected. I didn’t like Bob Marley or Dylan, nor did I like Nirvana, sorry. I’m sorry I haven’t watched Casablanca or Gone With The Wind (nor read it). I make my own vanilla latte at home, and I cook my own lasagna and I dream, dream to be included and accepted somewhere. I didn’t study at a liberal college, nor had I done A levels. I didn’t like going to art galleries (back then) and i didn’t quote Sylvia Plath or some famous cultural icon. I didn’t listen to vinyl records. I didn’t have an iPhone or a mac book (I still don’t). I wasn’t sophisticated. And I was not OK with it.

Then I started to grow up. I felt emotions I had never felt before, and I needed something to relate to. That is when I started reading books that made sense, discovered artists that I could earlier not connect to and be able to sit through two hour long indie films that would earlier put me to sleep. I started thinking more. I started exploring life more. I felt like growing up, I totally changed and along with that, so did my choices. I now proudly tell people that I liked Lorde when she had barely seven thousand likes on her Facebook page, which now boasts three million plus likes. I predict which indie band will make it big and i watch films before they get famous. I watch unusual tv shows that people haven’t even heard of, and the films, don’t even get me started on the kinds of films I watch, it’s boring and influencial. Over time, I have refined my taste, a lot.

I read books that you can find at the back corners of book stores that you find on amazing discounts, I write poetry that never follows the ways that people love, I wear clothes that define me and not what i should follow. I offend my elders because I speak the truth and I offend my peers because i don’t conform to their labels. But I like it. I have found what I like. I can finally find things I can relate to. I feel like I am a culture myself.

But I also now feel people can relate to me too.

I could never have forced myself to like something because somebody else I liked liked it.

I could never have been me.

Growing up helped me find myself, I didn’t get stuck in one place and God forbid if i do. I like this growth. I like this phase where I don’t really have an opinion on anything. I like being simple. I like not going deep. I like not finding meaning. I like liking for the sake of liking. I like not conforming to the rules of cool. I love Katy Perry, but at the same time I like Brandyn Burnette and Shura, who are indie artists I’m sure you’ve not heard of.

It’s very important to give yourself time to find where you stand and what you like. And it’s also important to realize that you’re only cultured if you think you are. You cannot let the fact that you don’t read a certain genre of books like most literary refined people do, get to you and bring you down. Explore. Find treasures only your heart can cherish. You can either read Tao Lin, or you can read Stephanie Meyer, it’s your choice.

Your Choice is your culture.

And know, that you are cultured.

emma watson quote

My Escapades Over The Last Month: Books I Read

I used to read a lot of books back in high school. I’d just pick up a book without looking at the author name or the book name, and if the description at the back catches my attention, I’ll read it. I have read so many books even I can’t recall how many. So I know I never posted about it on my blog, well that was because I started it by the end of my high school and since then, college has taken up my time. College prep and then college. If you think getting into a med school in Pakistan is tough, wait till you enter it. Your life dies. And you’re left in a corner in the darkness where your only ray of hope is text books. The only way you can escape this world properly is by finishing off your course books. But halfway there, I just gave up. So when I failed a subject, i started reading novels again. Too much of text books were costing me myself. So here’s a list of books and their short reviews, that I read over the past month. On Friday nights. Yes, i am THAT boring.

And I admit, I should be studying for my Pharmacology exam right now, but I can’t. Ok? Now don’t try and get on my nerves. Whatever!

Tender Hooks – By Moni Mohsin

5/5 stars

This tell it all book about the socialite scene in Lahore is a must read. For all those people who complain there are no “desi” authors doing chick flicks, well, here’s one for you. The book chronicles the life of this socialite butterfly as she lives through the horrors of news in newspapers and her kitty party peers. Meanwhile she has to look for a suitable girl for her cousin, tricked into doing it by her aunt Pussy. It’s a hilarious plunge into the mind of an innocent woman who only wants the best for her family, not knowing when to shut up!

The book is the sequel to the Diary of a Social Butterfly. The book is funny, honest and depicts the minds of not just the rich aunties from kitty parties, but every woman of Pakistan. Because I could not help but relate my mum to her!

Elixir – by Hilary Duff

2.5/5 stars

This book was a highly anticipated book for me. I am a HUGE hilary duff fan, and when I found out years ago she was writing a YA novel, I could not help but want it. And I finally got my hands on a copy of it.

It is a story about a girl, whose dad goes missing. And soon she starts finding a mysterious shadow in the pictures she takes. As she digs deep to find answers as to who that is, she finds that it relates the her dad getting lost.

The book a Meg Cabot meets Dan Brown in a very disappointing way. I thought it was a good plot, only not well executed. I will have to read the rest of the books in the series, but I don’t want to now.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Grene

4/5 stars

Cancer seems to be the only thing on people’s minds. And when I found that out a few pages into the book, I couldn’t help but hate it then. But it turned out otherwise. I ended up getting hooked to it. And couldn’t wait to read it when I’d come bak home from classes. The book is about a cancer girl falling in love with a boy. As they become boyfriend and girfriend, the girl finds out that the boy has cancer too. But he had cancer. And he survived. So he helps her find the author of he favorite book and they travel and fall in love and all that.

But the ending was just too abrupt and not very well plotted. That was the only drawback of it. The book executes teen emotions too well and the plot is just too good to hate, but the ending was just….eekh!

 

Anna and the French Kiss – by Stephanie Perkins 

5/5 stars

The book is all a person could ask to read about a teenager’s emotions. It’s about a girl whose father sends her to boarding school in Paris (hence the title) and she hates it. Until she befriends a couple of people who live by groups and she falls in love with her best friend. Who is a guy. A guy with a girlfriend. So that’s complicated. Yes. Very. And I love how the book deals with friendship and love. It’s almost like a movie! I loved it! Partly because of the boarding-school-hate part, and partly cuz it depicts life in a Parisian boarding school to be so much fun, i wish it were me studying there!

They pace through Paris, watching movies and hang out. And little do they know that this friendship might be something more than that, and they both are holding back. Let’s see who makes the first move.

Princess in Training: Princess Diaries Book 6 – by Meg Cabot

2/5 stars

I had expected more from Meg Cabot in this book. Having read book 5 way back in 2006, I was hoping more from this book. Sure, Mia whines a lot. But she does it in her thoughts. Which were not shown very well in this book. We read about Mia being elected to campaign for the President in her school, and how her life is affected because she’s a princess and her green and nature loving ways may pose a threat to her country being kicked out of the European Union, and her getting a first ever non-A grade in English. It’s just a hosh posh of things that can be done better. I didn’t like the book at all. Even though I’m a huge Meg Cabot fan.

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Anyways, After this burst of reading YA novels, I couldn’t help but feel there’s a dearth of YA books from boys point of view. And that is what I’ll do next. When I get free from exams, I’ll hunt down good books boys can relate to!