Saturday, 31 December 2016

Goodbye, 2016. Hello, 2017!

It's been a while since my last post. I feel like I've said that too many times this year.
2016 has gone by in a blur. A surreal, sadistic blur. There are tons of memes on Facebook about how much 2016 sucks, and I've got to say I agree. It's been a bad year for me, too, for reasons that I can't admit on the internet, reasons that only three or four people in my life know.

Yes, 2016 was good for me, too, as I'll discuss later on in the post. But at this point, I'm going to have to rack my brains to remember, because all I can see is the grey cloud that still looms over me.

Alas, the past is the past, and there's nothing we can do about how shitty 2016 was. But it's the last day of the year! A fresh start is upon us! What could be better?

So here goes: the good and the ugly of 2016. Let's go.

The Good Memories

1) New House + Same Roommate

Last year I told you about my wonderful roommate and my beautiful room. Well, that hasn't changed, except now I have a room of my own in a new house, and a lot more privacy. My roommate's still the same, which I'm very thankful for, because she is the absolute best friend I could have ever asked for.
As for my new room... plenty of posters, glow-in-the-dark stars, yellow curtains PLUS sea green curtains, a tiny bed, a couch, and a study room... you get the picture. Lovely.

2) Fresh Diagnosis
I finally got the proper diagnosis and the treatment that I deserve, and I'm happy to say that my life is... normal now. With the right medication and the right therapy, I'll never have to worry about my mental health again. :)

3) Book Five?!

I spent all of 2015 working on Not That Kind of Girl, and I'm plenty proud of it, but I'm prouder about the fact that 2016 brought to me Always You, Love Thy Neighbour and my current work-in-progress, The Year I Fell in Love. This has been a wonderful year for writing - and maybe that's why I've been neglecting you, dear readers. Hopefully that'll change in the new year.

4) My Business
I've talked about my editing business previously, so I won't go into too much detail, but Feb 2016 is when the magic happened and the epiphany struck: if you're good at something, never do it for free. And that's how I started critiquing and editing books for a living. Wonderful, innit?

See, all this stuff is great, but I can't think of anything else. Let's just move on to the bad.

The Bad Memories

1) My Grades...

I got a disappointing GPA of 2.7 in my fourth semester, bringing my CGPA down from 3.67 to 3.4, and even though it's now settled at 3.35, I can't help but wonder how the girl who came second in first year with 3.71 is now just... above average.
But hey, it was a trade-off. Mental health or marks? I picked mental health, and that was the right decision to make. So yeah. That's my silver lining.

I promise you there's a lot more serious stuff - legitimate stuff - that I can only talk about in therapy or with my best friends - so I can assure you that this year has not been rainbows and sunshine for me, either. I remember 2015 me thinking, well, it can't get any worse, can it? Well, 2016 sure beat you to it, 2015.

But I know for a fact 2017 is going to be better. I have so much to look forward to! Graduation, my sister's wedding, moving back to Bangalore (hopefully, at least), setting up my business, maybe getting some response from publishers... there's a lot to look forward to, and I hope that this time next year, these will be the things that form part of my "good memories".

Tomorrow, I go back to Mumbai, ready for a fresh start. A clean slate. With the knowledge that yes, this time, and I can say this for sure, it can't possibly get worse. I hope...?

Well, Happy New Year to you, Geeks! I'll try being more active in 2017 - maybe that can be my resolution, to give more time to the things that matter instead of sleeping all day - though I can't make any promises, but I shall see you when I do.


Wednesday, 2 November 2016

How to be a Happier Person

noun: happiness; plural noun: happinesses
the state of being happy.
"she struggled to find happiness in her life"

Funny how the example above is so true for most of us. Happiness isn't quite an emotion anymore, it's a goal. An almost unconquerable goal, at that. It's something we all strive for. Something we all chase. Something that may or may not be within us, but something we need to choose all the same.

I'm going to be honest here. It's not always easy being happy.

But it's worth a shot, isn't it?

I've struggled with happiness myself. Mostly because I'm not quite as emotionally stable as I'd like to be, so I tend to go back and forth, but I do like to think of myself as a positive, optimistic person. And so today, I'm going to tell you - and myself - six ways to start your journey as a happier person. Let's get started.

1) Create an Intention
First things first: decide to be happy. Okay, I know what you're thinking: "Swati, why on earth would I decide to be unhappy?" But think about it. It's so much easier - and somehow more satisfying to the sadist within - to be miserable and complaining and grumpy all the time, isn't it? Isn't that why most of us share those memes on Facebook about being unhappy or thinking about death as a way of comedic relief (something I never do, just so you know - I don't have a twisted sense of humour)?
So yes. I'm telling you to choose happiness over sadness. One way you can do this is to create an intention every morning. Wake up, look at yourself in the mirror as you're brushing your teeth, and say, "I choose to be happy." It may sound silly. But do it just the same. This is going to set the tone for the rest of your day, and give you a jumpstart into being a happier, more positive person. If you don't intend to be happy, none of these tips will work for you. I can guarantee that.

2) Don't Criticise

Oh, this is a tough one to fix. Criticism seems to be hard-wired into our brains. A defence mechanism, perhaps? I don't know. Anyway, we have a tendency to criticise each and every thing that we come across, no matter how amazing or perfect it may seem. Old aunties do this ("oh, that bride may be pretty, but she's too skinny - how will she bear children?), our parents do this ("why can't you be more like Sharmaji's son?") and we ourselves do it ("I hate that professor. Why is she always on her phone in class?"). I'm not saying those things aren't justified. Maybe they are; how would I know? But criticising changes nothing. Constructive criticism does, sure, but not the one we partake in.
So how can you become a less critical person? For that, head over to step 3.

3) On the Bright Side...
Do this exercise every time a negative thought or criticism enters your head: "On the bright side..." Want an example or two? "She's too skinny a bride, but on the bright side, she loves the groom so very much." "You may not be as smart as Sharmaji's son, but on the bright side, you're such a good photographer!" "That professor is always on her phone in class, but on the bright side, she doesn't mind us using ours!"
See how you turned that negative thought into a positive one? There's always a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. There's always a silver lining to a cloud. You just have to search for it. It's easier to criticise, sure, and it may feel satisfying at first... but in the long run, being resentful will get you nowhere.

4) Affirm It
There's this great blog post by Jeff Goins I read a few years ago about how he always said he wanted to be a writer... until his friend pulled him aside and said, "You are a writer. Just start writing."
Such a big shift in your mindset, isn't it? And it makes all the difference. If you want to be a happy person, stop just wanting it and start affirming it. Think of yourself as a happy, positive, magnetic person, and start attracting those vibes and that aura towards you. If you think, "Oh, I want to be happy, but I'm so negative," then you're going to stay negative. Remember, creating the intention is one thing. Affirming it is another.
You are a happy person. Just start being happy.

5) Be Grateful, Baby
If you've been following me on Instagram, you'd know that I'm big on gratitude. I recently completed the 28-day gratitude challenge from the book The Magic, and I can't say how much it's helped to shift my attitude to one of gratitude.
If you want to become a happier person tomorrow, you need to start being grateful for the things you already have today. Gratitude makes you happy - it's been scientifically proven. Positive psychology for the win!
So if you aren't already being grateful, start. Download apps like Attitudes of Gratitude or Bliss on your phone, both of which I've used and loved. Grab a diary and jot down ten things to be grateful for every day. Whether it's that first cup of coffee in the morning or a special person in your life or even the air you breathe, it doesn't matter as long as you're genuinely feeling grateful for it. Trust me, this will change the way you see things. It will make you happier. And I know it's tough. Some days, it's hard for me to get all ten items on the list. That's okay. List down as many as you can. It will make a difference. I promise.

6) Be Around Happy People
Now, I'm not saying you should ditch your friends in their time of need. No. Absolutely not. But there's a difference between a bad situation and a bad personality. Some people are highly negative, draining and exhausting to be around. They're a bad influence on you, period. On the other hand, some people - the ones who have already been following these tips - are full of joie de vivre and are so much fun to be around. Be around those people. Try to emulate their habits. Ask them what's their secret.
And if you can't let go of those negative people - maybe they're family, or your best friend, or your soulmate - then challenge them to do the gratitude practices with you. Maybe together, you can both become happier people. That's killing two birds with one stone, isn't it?

If you've enjoyed this blog post, go ahead and share it with your friends, especially the ones who you think can benefit from being happier. What are some of your tips for becoming a more positive person? What's the one random piece of gratitude from your list today? Mine is gratitude for "honey and almond cornflakes. I never realised how delicious they are!"

I'll see you soon, Geeks. Bye!

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Philosophical Ramblings #5: What is Love?

Love. Pyaar. L'amour. Die Liebe. Different words, same meaning. Love. 

Love has been romanticized by books and movies so much that most of us don't even know what it means anymore, myself included. Besides, I romanticize love myself, through my writing. But what is love, really?

I've been wondering this for a while now. Well, I'm twenty years old, and I'm not sure if I've ever been in love or not. I'd thought I had a few times, but as time went by, I'd realise that whatever I felt was either infatuation or puppy love or simply obsession - none of which classifies as real, pure love. 

So let's take a look at what media tells us love is. Here's a speech by one of my favourite fictional characters, Ted Mosby, on love:

This is one of those speeches that convinces you that love means never giving up or never losing hope or even never moving on, no matter what. 

Well, I disagree. That's bordering on obsession, isn't it? But this seems to be a common theme when it comes to sitcoms and rom coms. Never giving up. Take a look at another speech, this time, by Chuck from Gossip Girl:

"You don't give up... even if the object of affection is begging you to." That, my friends, is obsession, not love. When it's love, you don't give up... unless your love is hurting the other person. Love is about knowing when to step down. Knowing when to move on. Knowing that maybe that other person should be able to choose who they want to be with. 

But I do agree that forgiveness and second chances are what make up a good relationship. A good friendship. A good parentship (is that a word?). Because mistakes are part of daily life. Big ones or small ones, it doesn't matter. Forgiveness is essential. But you have to know where to draw the line, and that's something a lot of fictional characters don't get, like in movies or TV shows where characters fall in love with their rapists or kidnappers

Then there's this speech. Again, along the same lines of never giving up... but it's spoken of in a healthier, purer way. And I'll admit this is one of my favourite movies, so there's a little bit of a bias here, but I do believe in soulmates. I believe in lobsters. I believe in the One. 

I guess I believe, because I don't want to not believe in it. Because screw logic. Screw the truth. Deep down, a part of me knows there are many Ones. Many people I could be happy with for the rest of my life. 

But I also know that probability-wise, I'm only ever going to meet one of them. And that, my friends, will be the One. That will be love. 

In short, I don't know what love is. Because I'm a clueless twenty-something just like many of you Geeks. But I'd like to believe it's a give-and-take. A symbiotic thing. Something built on respect and trust and kindness. That, I think, is love. Whether it's romantic love or family love or even love for your pet - that is what I think love is.

What are your views on this topic, Geeks? What do you think love is? Let me know in the comments below. 

PS: I've recently started my own editing business, called Geek Editing. Go like the Facebook page now, and (if you live in Mumbai) apply for the internship here!


Sunday, 25 September 2016

Why I've Been M.I.A. // Just a Random Update #11

I just realised that I haven't blogged in a very long time. Three months, to be exact. I think that's the longest hiatus I've ever taken. But it's a hiatus I had to take, because a lot has happened in these three months, both good and bad.

Let's talk the good first, because, well, it's good stuff. My freelance editing business is doing spectacularly well, and although the income isn't regular each month - for obvious reasons, it's freelancing - it's enough for me to be able to afford my rent, and then some. No more relying on my folks, people. Although my Dad does still pay most of my bills... but hey, I'm only twenty.

I've also FINALLY decided what to do with my life after I graduate from college. And maybe doing BBA wasn't the wrong decision after all, because I'm going to turn my freelancing career into a full-fledged business. Say hello to Geek Editing, Geeks! It's going to be an epic business that caters to all your editing and beta reading needs - and someday, even your publishing needs. My plan is to buy a domain name and set up a website, get more clients, make more money, hire some interns, and expand my business. I've already got my roommate into the beta reading biz as well, and hopefully she'll agree to join Geek Editing in due time.

In other news, I've made new friends in college. I now have people to eat lunch with and people to talk to when the professor isn't looking in my direction. And if you Geeks know me at all, you'd know that this is a very, very big deal for me.

My new apartment is great. I have a room all to myself, with a bed, a couch, a study area AND a bathroom. There are glow-in-the-dark stars, yellow curtains, tons of posters, my vision board and a bookshelf that will is already book-ended with books. What more could I want from a house, after all?

I'm also working on my fourth novel, Love Thy Neighbour, which revolves around love, friendship, YouTube and mental illness. It's still a work-in-progress, and I'm going to take at least another three or four months to finish it, but... stay tuned?

So those are all the positive reasons why I've been too busy to blog. Work is incredible. Super exhausting, but incredible. I'm so proud to call myself a workaholic. My idea of a good weekend? Working on multiple projects at once in the comfort of my beautiful home while texting my closest friends - and owning that shit, yo.

Now moving on to the one not-so-surprising negative change in my life.

I've spoken to you previously about my bipolar depression - a concept relatively unheard of, because most people either have depression or bipolar disorder, not some crazy combination of the two. But I did have rapid cycling depression, and my psychologist and psychiatrist were just as stumped as I was. But it was getting worse and worse no matter what cocktail of meds I was on. I went from being on anti-depressants and anti-psychotics to more anti-depressants to mood stabilisers and anti-depressants and anti-psychotics. And that was one too many, Geeks.

The prolonged use of anti-depressants finally brought on a manic episode that would have been impossible to control had my doctors not put me on mood stabilisers 'just in case'.

So to cut a long story short, I have officially been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Whether it's BP I or II is still a matter of discussion, because my latter episodes have all been hypomanic, but I don't know if that's because I stopped my Cipralex immediately following the mania or because I really do just have BP II disorder, and the mania was a one-off incident.

The mood stabiliser dosage I was on wasn't enough, though, because my rapid cycling depression turned into rapid cycling hypomania, with a new episode every week, and they were only getting worse. So my dosage was upped further, and now I'm happy to say that I'm finally, finally stable. I haven't had any episodes in over two months save for a one-off incident that happened because of some personal reasons, and my therapist even said that I could be off meds in about three years if I keep this up.

I'm still doing everything I can to fight bipolar disorder on my own: working out, colouring, keeping myself busy, working on my self-esteem and confidence... everything. But I would be lying if I said that I'm completely okay. I'm not. I still curse myself for having this mental illness in the first place. Even though I'm on the relatively mild end of the bipolar spectrum, I still wish, with all my heart, that I wasn't on said spectrum in the first place. But what's done is done, and there's nothing I can do about it except keep hoping that I'll overcome this sooner or later.

I'm also finding it pretty difficult to focus in college and complete my assignments on time. I don't know if it's because I've just given up on being a nerd-slash-perfectionist or because of some weird meds side effect (it's probably the former), but I don't even care. Bare minimum is all I'm aiming for. My mental health matters more than my marks. I've finally understood that.

Wow, this has been a pretty long blog post. Guess this makes up for all the long months that I was missing in action.

I think I'll be posting some more about bipolar disorder and mental health, because at least where I come from, people have absolutely NO IDEA what it's all about. I've seen people using the terms 'depressed', 'OCD' and 'bipolar' so loosely that it makes me want to rip their heads off. And no, I'm not exaggerating. I'm very passionate about psychology and mental illness, and you bet I'm going to spread more awareness about this topic.

I'm very open about my bipolar disorder in college. Most people in my class know, although they don't quite know what it's all about. I'm hoping that'll change soon. One of my professors found out recently, and I was surprised to know that she was actually quite knowledgeable on the subject. She was the first - okay, second - person I've met in my entire life, not counting my doctors, who actually knew what mania and depression truly mean without my having to explain it to them.

Anyway, I've been rambling for far too long. If you've stuck with me until the end, you get a slice of pizza.
I hope to see you soon, Geeks, whenever my schedule permits it. Maybe once a week? Maybe once a month? I don't know, but I can guarantee that I'll be back. Au revoir!

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

My Almost-Orthorexia Story

This may be a pretty controversial topic... and let me admit straight-up that I know almost nothing about orthorexia. I may be completely wrong here when I say all these things. But that's okay, because at least I'm saying something about it.

Oh, and before you judgemental non-Geeks start spouting bullshit about how of course I'm "anorexic" because I'm skinny and underweight, look again. I'm talking about orthorexia, not anorexia.

Orthorexia nervosa is defined as an unhealthy obsession with 'healthy' foods and an almost exaggerated fear of eating or being around junk food, often causing physical symptoms. Now I'm all for eating a healthy diet and giving your body the nutrition it deserves, but I must say that orthorexia has pretty much butchered my lifestyle, and I'm still dealing with the consequences. 

I started on my 'eat clean' journey sometime last year, perhaps in July 2015. I was obsessed with the idea of gaining weight on a high-protein, high-calorie diet, and while that may or may not have been the right approach - I'm no fitness expert, I have no idea - the way I was going about it was extremely wrong. I started restricting myself to certain food items only, not because I wanted to be healthier, but because I genuinely believed that those foods would cause me physical and mental harm. I tried to give up eating cheese, butter and milk, and the more I avoided those foods, the more my body would start to reject them. I'd get gassy or get nauseated or even throw up. I'd feel queasy every time I had a French fry. I would shame myself and pat my bloated stomach in regret after having a burger or a slice of pizza. I would sometimes even cry as I ate a chocolate waffle and then immediately throw the remaining half of it in the dustbin because I was so, so upset about how much I was 'damaging' my body.

You guys might know of the concept of 'cheat meals' or 'YOLO meals'. Well, I tried hard to give myself that break. But even eating a YOLO meal on Sunday would make me feel like a fitness failure, and that would only lead to me binge-eating junk food and shaming myself even further, then going weeks and weeks without eating anything remotely unhealthy. I didn't care about the taste or the culinary delight anymore. All I cared about was eating food that would give me a flat tummy and chiselled muscles. 

Obviously, with that attitude, that didn't happen. I don't have a flat stomach. I've been working out for years and I don't have perfect muscles. Heck, except for a tiny bicep on my right arm and some stellar calves, I don't have anything to show for myself.

Well, unless you count how much stronger and more flexible and happier I've become because of working out. And hey, doesn't that matter more than what exercise and my diet has done or not done for my appearance?

So I've started to let myself eat what I want to, whenever I want to, as long as I'm eating healthy and nutritious food at the same time. Cheese and butter are okay. So are vegetables and fruits and bread and pizza and rice noodles and regular noodles and chocolate and peanut butter and jam and eggs and even French fries dipped in hot sauce.

Everything is okay in moderation. Everything. And that applies to not just food, but other things, too. It's going to take me some time before I completely accept my body for what it is without having to give up food that makes my soul happy. But that's okay. Because I'm going to be patient.

What kinds of food have you always feared, Geeks? And are your fears rational or just a figment of your imagination, fuelled by those fitness and diet articles and videos that are rampant everywhere on social media? What do you wish you could change about your mental perception? Let me know in the comments below. 

I'll see you soon, Geeks. Bye!

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Road to Recovery + What I Did This Summer // Just a Random Update #10

Wow, I haven't blogged in close to a month. Then again, I've been busy recovering from my mental illness and doing some great things in my spare time this summer.

I'm sure you all remember my post last year when I'd said I'd do all these fantastic things over the summer... and then came the follow-up post where I revealed that I'd got absolutely nothing done. Tsk, tsk.

But that all changes this summer, Geeks. Because 2016 is the year of Swati.

1) Exercise? More Like Geeksercise!
So I've started doing one, one and a half hours of exercise a day. Therapist's orders, no excuses. And it's been fun. I do a combination of yoga, POP Pilates and dance cardio every day. Yes, I've actually lost weight instead of gaining it like I usually do when I work out, but maybe that's all for the best. I've gone down from 45 kgs to a mere 41, but hey, I'm much stronger and more flexible than I was in April. That's what matters, right?

2) Moneh, Moneh, Moneh
As you may know, I started my own editing and beta reading business in February, and what can I say? Business is booming. It's barely been four or five months and I've made - well - a lot of money (not sure if I should disclose that amount online). I might have to start paying taxes this year, Geeks. Yu-huh. That's a LOT of moneh.
Plus, it's not just for the big bucks. I love doing what I do. Editing and making those little corrections in red is crazy fun. And beta reading is awesome, too. Getting paid to read and critique books? I used to do that for free on a daily basis!
So yeah. My career is on a rollercoaster that only goes up, my friend.

3) Say Goodbye to Depression (Okay, Maybe Just TTYL)
So while my rapid cycling bipolar depression has reduced in both intensity and time period, it's... still there, every month, like clockwork. This may be something I have to live with. I'll almost certainly have to take medication for a long time. But hey, that's okay. I've learned to manage it quite well. And I have a lot of support from friends and family, and that's something not a lot of patients have. So yeah, I'm grateful for everything that's happened to me... including my diagnosis.

4) Always Writing 'Always You'
Don't you love days when you're just super productive and super energized and happy about anything and everything? Well, that's how I was for almost half this summer when I was on a crazy writing spree. I finished writing my third YA romance, Always You (which you can read right here!) in just a matter of a few weeks. Crazy, am I right? I'm so, so proud of this one, especially since it's based on one of my favourite books: Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, and I hope you'll love it too.

5) F.R.I.E.N.D.S.
Okay, this is mostly just about me binge-watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S. all through breakfast, lunch and dinner, but is also about how I have found three out of five of my own perfect Central Perk pals. My friends and I are closer than ever (if you're reading this: 'sup, Angel, K-Dog and Kandy?), and although I've barely been in touch with my roommate or my college friends over the summer, my best friend from school and I talk every day. So things are going well in the friendship department - and you know that's a department I've struggled with my entire life.

Well, Geeks. My road to recovery began in December. It's been a long and difficult road... thank God I finally got here! This summer has been incredible. Not counting the summer we went to London (London, baby!), this has been the best summer of my life.

I leave for Mumbai - and college - in about a week. I'm anxious, nervous and very, very reluctant to leave home. But I don't have a choice, so I might as well be positive about this, right? So. Here we go. Rest of 2016, the year of Swati.

How was your summer, Geeks? Or if you're not from India, and your summer's only just starting, then what plans do you have for the sunny months? Let me know in the comments below.

I hope to see you again very soon! Bye! :)

Saturday, 28 May 2016

'My Last Love Story' by Falguni Kothari: A Book Review

I, Simeen Desai, am tired of making lemonade with the lemons life has handed me.
Love is meant to heal wounds.
Love was meant to make my world sparkle and spin.
Love has ripped my life apart and shattered my soul.
I love my husband, and he loves me.
But Nirvaan is dying.
I love my husband. I want to make him happy.
But he is asking for the impossible.
I don’t want a baby.
I don’t want to make nice with Zayaan.
I don’t want another chance at another love story. 

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

'Away' by Swati Hegde // Geek Poetry

Okay, first things first: I am not a poet. I've rarely ever tried poetry, and when I have, I've pretty much sucked at it.
But this is an attempt, and I don't think it's complete crap, so.. here goes!


I want to go
Where I’ve never been
But only dreamt of

I want to go
To places, full of
Sandy beaches and salty shores
Floating clouds and mountain air
In the middle of nowhere
And yet, everywhere

I want to go
Someplace I can be away
From the noise of daily life
And the silence of a lonely heart

I want to go
Where I’ve never been
So I can become
Who I truly am


Do you hate it? Do you like it? Do you love it? Let me know in the comments below. And hey, if you're a poet, why not share your work with me and my readers? Link your poetry down below. 

I'll see you soon! :)

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Happy Hunger Games (ft. Invaluable)

I remember the first time I held a copy of The Hunger Games in my hands. I'd thought then that it was just another book, something to read to while the time away.

A couple of days later, after I finished reading Mockingjay, I realised that this series is so much more than your average YA dystopian series. The Hunger Games is about politics, rebellion, revolution, and human nature. It's a series that's second only to Harry Potter. It's a series I will always cherish.

And when the movies followed, I was even more overjoyed. Yes, the first Hunger Games movie left out a lot of important things, but Catching Fire and Mockingjay Parts 1 and 2 were flawless. I remember dressing up as Katniss Everdeen to go watch the movies, and my only regret was that I didn't have the exact same costume as her.

And if you had that same thought, then I have some good news for you! Invaluable and Profiles in History are bringing to you The World of The Hunger Games Auction, an event that gives you the chance to lay your hands on iconic memorabilia from the movie series.

Still not convinced? Check out some of the amazing props and costumes on sale:

Friday, 13 May 2016

What's On My Playlist (May 2016)

Okay, okay, I went AWOL again on the blog. Sorry about that. Anyway, I'm back today with this month's playlist. Music has really been inspiring me to write my novel, Always You (read it on Wattpad here!), so all these songs are really important to me. Each one of them fits a scene of my book perfectly!

Without further ado, I present to you... the May 2016 playlist!

1) Summertime Sadness | Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey is just gorgeous, isn't she? I do feel like a lot of her songs are repetitive - and are meant to be listened to when you're high - but I love this song anyway. It's so hauntingly beautiful.

Favourite lyric:

// Oh, my God, I feel it in the air
Telephone wires above are sizzling like a snare
Honey, I'm on fire, I feel it everywhere
Nothing scares me anymore //

2) Born to Die | Lana Del Rey

Yes, another Lana Del Rey song. I like this one especially because of the lyrics and background music. This one would be such a good fit for the murder mystery I'm planning to write in a couple of years - plus, I'm thinking of naming it 'Born to Die'. It's a good name for a thriller, isn't it?

Favourite lyric:

// Come and take a walk on the wild side
Let me kiss you hard in the pouring rain
You like your girls insane
Choose your last words,
This is the last time
'Cause you and I
We were born to die //

3) Dangerous Woman | Ariana Grande

I'm not a huge fan of Ariana Grande (this is the only song of hers that I like), but this song is really cool. It makes me feel like a dangerous, daring girl even though I'm definitely not one!

Favourite lyric:

// Nothing to prove and
I'm bulletproof and
Know what I'm doing
The way we're movin' like introducing
Us to a new thing //

4) Haunted | Beyonce

This song is a little too risqué, I agree, but it's just so... sexy. And haunting. I only judge people who like Fifty Shades of Grey, but if you don't like this song, I'll probably judge you too.

Favourite lyric:

// My haunted lungs
Ghost in the sheets
I know if I'm haunting you
You must be haunting me //

5) I Really Like You | Carly Rae Jepson

I don't understand this video, and I know the lyrics are very repetitive, but this song is just so catchy! I first heard it when I was doing Blogilates' song challenge, and I've loved it ever since. It also makes me want to work out, which is great!

Favourite lyric:

// Who gave you eyes like that?
Said you could keep them?
I don't know how to act
Or if I should be leaving
I'm running out of time
Going out of my mind
I need to tell you something
Yeah, I need to tell you something //

6) Bad Romance | Lady Gaga

This is a really old song, isn't it? I don't even know if Lady G is making music anymore. Either way, this song is perfect for an upcoming scene from Always You. That's why I love it so.

Favourite lyric:

// I want your drama
The touch of your hand
I want your leather studded kiss in the sand
I want your love //

7) Just Dance | Lady Gaga

I first heard this song on an episode of Pretty Little Liars (I've stopped watching that show, in case you were wondering), and I liked it quite a bit. It was only recently that I was browsing music videos and came across this one. Makes for a good party song, doesn't it?

Favourite lyric:

// Control your poison, babe
"Roses have thorns," they say
And we're all gettin' hosed tonight //

8) Cheap Thrills ft. Sean Paul | Sia

I adore Sia. Her songs are always, always, always on point. I've heard both versions of Cheap Thrills, but this Sean Paul remix is easily my favourite. Another great song to groove to when I'm in the shower.

Favourite lyric:

// Til I hit the dance floor
Hit the dance floor
I got all I need
No I ain't got cash
I ain't got cash
But I got you baby (jus u an me) //

9) The Heart Wants What it Wants | Selena Gomez

Is this song about Justin Bieber? Are they still even together? Eh, who cares. This song kinda reminds me of all the bad decisions I've made in my life, and how, even though I regret them, my life wouldn't be the same if they hadn't happened. Deep, I know. Then again, I'm a deep girl.

Favourite lyric:

// This is a modern fairytale
No happy endings
No wind in our sails
But I can't imagine a life without
Breathless moments
Breaking me down, down, down, down //


So, these are the top nine songs I'm loving lately (yes, I wanted to make it an even ten, but couldn't pick anything else). What about you? Have you heard these songs? Do you have any song recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments below.

I'll be back next week with another post, hopefully. Still trying to cure my writer's block. See you then!

Sunday, 1 May 2016

My Favourite YouTubers // 2016

Hey, Geeks!
Sorry for having been MIA this entire month. I had finals, and my state of mind wasn't calm enough to return to writing.

Anyway, I've recently fallen in love with so many YouTubers. Each one of them has something different - and special - to offer to me. Keep reading to find out which ones made the cut this year!

Sunday, 13 March 2016

'When the Time Comes to Light a Fire (Gem City #3)' by Nicole Campbell: A Book Review

There comes a time in every girl’s life when she is forced to pose a troubling question:
What have I done?
Sixteen-year old Vanessa Roberts is quickly learning how to deal with her annoying pretty-boy lab partner, her incredibly ADD best friend, and the seemingly widening gap between her and her mother. Zack Roads should have been everything she deserved. He is more than just a nice distraction; he is also the cause for every envious glance shot Vanessa’s way as she enters her sophomore year at Gem City High. What happens when she finds herself amidst a storm of hope, regret, and the danger of losing herself along the way? 

Note: I received an advance copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thanks so much, Nicole!

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

How I Cope With My Depression!

A few weeks ago, I got up-close and personal with you Geeks about my mental illness. Well, there have been several interesting developments on that front, one of which is that I'm probably halfway on the road to recovery! My therapist says around six months ought to do it, so I'm really grateful I decided to get treatment. 

We'd initially thought that my depression was a result of bipolar disorder, but since I've been recovering without the aid of mood stabilisers, my diagnosis has changed back to regular depression. I'm still not sure why it's episodic in nature, though, just like bipolar disorder. 

So I've been undergoing verbal therapy at the moment along with a small dose of anti-depressants, and today I'm going to tell you everything that I do in a day to fight depression. Let's get started.

5:30 am
This is when I wake up. Of course, I used to be a solid 5 am morning person, but  lately it's been hard to even get out of bed. But I have college in two hours, so wake up I must.
As soon as I get up, I remind myself that I am happy, and then I think of one positive quality that I have: I'm smart, pretty, kind, resilient, hardworking... depends on the day. Sometimes I try to attach it to a situation that happened recently, just so it's really set into my head. This is to combat my self-esteem issues.

7 am
It's starting to get humid and hot in Mumbai, so I might have to switch my walking to the evenings, but for now I like to walk to college with my earphones plugged in and my mood as stable as possible. Music really helps to calm me down and add some pep to my step at the same time. College is about twenty minutes away from home, so walking is a great way for me to get started with my daily workout routine. 

3 pm
It's time for my daily workout. Currently, I'm following Cassey Ho's POP Pilates March workout calendar. You can check out her YouTube channel here.
I like how positive and energetic Cassey and her videos are. Plus, following a workout calendar keeps me in check and helps me stick to my schedule. I feel like that's really important for me at this stage, because when I'm not busy, or when I have nothing to do, I find myself starting to go downhill again.

Whenever I'm Depressed
Throughout the day, whenever I hit a low mood, or just a bump in the road, I close my eyes, take ten deep breaths, and remind myself that what I'm experiencing is not real. My emotional instability will not continue forever, and my trauma will soon end. This is a cognitive behavioural technique to put an end to my cyclical negative thoughts and put in positive thoughts, because positive thoughts lead to positive behaviour.

5 pm
It's time for me to take my medicine and have a snack! If any fellow mental health warriors are wondering, I'm currently on Amisulpride 200mg and Abilify 10mg, but my dosage usually changes every week depending on my progress (or lack thereof).

6 pm
I like listening to music and singing along in the shower. I find that music really helps turn an otherwise boring ten minutes into something that could be the highlight of my day on the bad days.

8 pm
After dinner, I like to take out my colouring book and do some old-fashioned colour pencil colouring! Colours brighten my mood and stop me from overthinking things. It's also a nice way to unleash my creative potential without having to use my brain too much. It's very, very therapeutic, and I often find myself looking forward to the end of the day so I can sit down and colour.
A photo posted by Swati Hegde (@geekiechicblog) on

10 pm
It's bedtime! Before going to bed, I think of one good thing that happened the entire day, write it down on a piece of paper, and put it into my jar of Coping Resources, which I've labelled Reasons to Live. When I'm feeling particularly depressed or suicidal, I like to take out a couple of notes from this jar to remind myself that there are enough things in my life to keep me afloat.

So there are the things that I do to keep stable. There are other things, too, like studying Psychology, freelance editing, writing, reading and watching superhero shows that keep me happy and healthy, but I'd do them irrespective of my mental stability.

What are the things you do to keep yourself happy and healthy?  If you have a mental illness and you're comfortable talking about it, do let me know about your road to recovery. Remember that I'm always here to talk if you need me, Geeks.

I'll see you next time. Bye! :)

Sunday, 21 February 2016

'In Real Life' by Jessica Love: A Book Review

Hannah Cho and Nick Cooper have been best friends since 8th grade. They talk for hours on the phone, regularly shower each other with presents, and know everything there is to know about one another.
There's just one problem: Hannah and Nick have never actually met.
Hannah has spent her entire life doing what she's supposed to, but when her senior year spring break plans get ruined by a rule-breaker, she decides to break a rule or two herself. She impulsively decides to road trip to Vegas, her older sister and BFF in tow, to surprise Nick and finally declare her more-than-friend feelings for him.
Hannah's romantic gesture backfires when she gets to Vegas and meets Nick's girlfriend, whom he failed to mention. And it turns out his relationship status isn't the only thing he's been lying to her about. Hannah knows the real Nick can't be that different from the online Nick she knows and loves, but now she only has one night in Sin City to figure out what her feelings for Nick really are, all while discovering how life can change when you break the rules every now and then.  

Thursday, 18 February 2016

'Famous in Love (Famous in Love #1)' by Rebecca Serle: A Book Review

She fell in love with him in the books - now she has the chance to star opposite him in the film...
Paige doesn't think she's particularly special, but after getting the starring role in a massive film adaptation of the bestselling Locked trilogy, the rest of the world would disagree. Now she's thrown into the spotlight, and into a world of gossip, rumour and deceit. The only people who know what she's going through are her two male co-stars, and they can't stand the sight of each other. Paige knows it's a mistake to fall in love on the set of a movie, but days of on-screen romance and intensity start to change her mind. The question is, can she keep what happens behind the scenes a secret when the world is watching her every move?

Okay. This book. Wow.

Ordinarily, I wouldn't be this affected by a clichéd young adult romance about the glitz and the glamour of Hollywood actors' lives. Ordinarily, I wouldn't be consumed by this need to read the book end-to-end and turn the pages (figuratively, I read on a Kindle) with so much fervour.

But I suppose this is no ordinary book.

Famous in Love is a literal title. Paige Townsen, a small-town girl, gets picked to star in the movie adaptation of a bestselling novel. That's when she meets her perfect Hollywood hero, Rainer Devon, a blonde, blue-eyed star who can turn you into a puddle of goo with just one smile. And things seem to be going great. She's into him, he's fallen for her, and her acting skills, while on edge, aren't abysmal. 

And then enters the real hero of the story. Ladies and gentlemen, your characteristic bad boy filmstar, Jordan Wilder, comes into the picture to steal her heart and all her senses and make her the best actress she's even been. 
When we touch, I feel it again. Like the final puzzle piece snapped down into place. But it doesn't matter now. It's like an umbrella in the middle of a rainstorm after you're already wet. It's exactly what you need, what you want, but it's come too late. 

Love triangles are a guilty pleasure of mine. Insta-love is not. But even though Paige's relationship with both boys - but especially Jordan - borders on insta-love, I found myself desperately in love with the way romance is written in this novel. Rebecca has some talent. This book is both age-appropriate and sexy at the same time, something I haven't seen in a lot of good young adult romance. 

Of course, I'm Team Jordan, if anyone's asking, and I'm already sure he's the one she picks (the girl always picks the second guy. Always. Um, except in Twilight.), because Jordan Wilder is bruised, damaged, guarded and utterly swoonworthy. What more does a girl want?

I didn't care much for Paige's friends back home - they just seemed like background noise, to be very honest - although I did enjoy reading about her family and the trinkets store she works at. I'm also guilty of loving Bollywood and Hollywood gossip in the past, and of wondering about the lifestyle famous people might lead (and yes, fantasising about being famous myself one day, though being in the spotlight terrifies me, which may be why I have a blog and not a YouTube channel), so this book was definitely of interest to me. 

Rebecca Serle seems to use a lot of metaphors, but she picked just the right amount to avoid falling into John Green territory. I loved the clever wordplay, the way she sparked chemistry between Jordan and Paige (I don't care about Rainer. Yawn.), and just the way she wrote the thoughts running through the protagonist's head.

People always say that there are a million ways to solve a problem, that no question has a black-and-white answer. It's not true. There are, at any moment, only two courses of action. The one that leads you toward something - stardom, love, disaster - or the one that leads you away from it. And at any moment, in any instant, you have to do your best to know which is which.

There wasn't a lot of plot, so to speak, since the story only follows the timeline of the first movie's shooting, but there wasn't a moment where I felt bored. I was sucked into the word of Famous in Love (I even dreamt about it last night, and that very rarely happens to me with books) and I didn't want to come out. 

I'm going to go with 4 stars out of 5 for this one. 
Famous in Love is clichéd and occasionally cringe-y, yes, but it is also power-packed with mighty chemistry, surprising plot twists and the kind of gossip you can only find in tabloids. A must-read for anyone who loves the odd combination of romance and celebrity magazines. 

I'm off to search for the next book in the series, Geeks! I doubt I'll have time to read it this week, since I'm busy with some beta reading and ARC reviewing, but a girl can hope, right? 
If you've read Famous in Love, tell me in the comments below what you thought of it. Which guy do you think she'll settle for in the end? And are you excited about the TV show that's apparently starring Bella Thorne? 

See you soon. Bye! :)

Monday, 15 February 2016

'My Dream Man' by Aditi Bose: A Book Review

Ajopa Ganguly is a girl in her twenties who lives with her parents in Delhi. Her life is fine except for one tiny problem. All publishers have rejected the manuscript that she has very painstakingly written. She believes it's more because she is not a known celebrity rather than because the plot is not appealing enough. She is so disturbed by this that she has been baking cupcakes and embroidering handkerchiefs instead these days. This is when Aniket Verma re-enters her life. He is a professor of economics who is well known in his circle. He's twelve years older to Ajopa. They had been good friends till a misunderstanding happened five years back.
What happens when they meet again is what the story is all about. 

Note: I received a copy of this book from b00k r3vi3w Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

You Are Enough.

Ambition is a dangerous thing. I've been taught my whole life by my teachers, my peers, my family, even society, that the only thing worse than moving backwards is staying still. Stillness is the enemy. We must always keep marching on. We must always work harder. Think smarter. Live better. Do anything and everything in our power to be more than who we are.

Well, that's just bullshit.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

'She: Ekla Cholo Re' by Santosh Avvannavar: A Book Review

Set in the backdrop of 1990 Calcutta, She is a story about finding one’s own identity in spite of all odds. The story spins around the life of Kusum, a brave heart whose identity is often untitled and blurred; it does not belong anywhere, definitely not under the ‘he’ or ‘she’ bracket, thanks to our social conditioning. Will she be successful in her mission? Find out in She, an utterly absorbing read that derives inspiration from Tagore’s “Ekla Cholo Re” song, which urges everyone to move on despite the fear of abandonment from others. 

Note: I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thanks, Santosh!

Thursday, 4 February 2016

What's On My Playlist (January 2016)

It's been a while since I've done one of these, huh? Probably because October and November were months of great discovery, and I carry the songs I found in those months to my daily playlist even today.
But I have discovered even more brilliant symphonies in the last few days of January, so here I am with my top ten playlist. This time, it features Sia, Cristin Milioti, 2AM Club and Coldplay!

Saturday, 30 January 2016

'The Divine Command (Comeback Warrior Trilogy #1) by Saranya Umakanthan: A Book Review

The divine command was from Lord Shiva. So Shaktipurians would do anything to safeguard the 'Taal-Patras' -- the ultimate secrets compiled onto palm-leaves by the yogis that contained everything! Yes, all the do's and don'ts from making of the elixir to reviving the dead!
This task was headed by their beloved warrior Indrajith. But destiny brutally destroyed their plans! Their toughest braveheart was to perish in a bloody dual. This ill-fated episode prompted the rise of the nefarious king of Narakdesh -- Asurshasak!
Desperate, Shaktipurians recited the revival slokas on the dead grave of their only hope…
Would Indrajith emerge and come back stronger than before? And if he comes back, who is waiting for him now with a pole arm in her hands and protruding teeth?
With black-magic obstacles barring his way, the comeback warrior -- Suraj Sena is shaken when the conspirator rips off the mask! But traitors never go unpunished!

Note: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thanks, Saranya!

Sunday, 24 January 2016

My Mental Health is a Mess // Just a Random Update #9

Here's a little cautionary note: this is a very personal and sensitive issue, so if you're someone who doesn't believe in mental illness, thinks depression just means being sad, and considers people who get therapy to be crazy, then get the hell out of my blog and don't come back. Ever.

Now that the narrow-minded idiots are gone, welcome back to my blog, Geeks! As some of you may know, just last week, I decided to go on hiatus from blogging. Right now, I'm not sure why I decided to do it. It was an impulsive, heat-of-the-depressed-moment decision that I'm finding hard to stick with, since I'm, well, writing a blog post right now.

And I've taken a liking to doing these random, personal updates every now and then, and though I may very well regret posting something like this on the internet for everyone to see, I felt it had to be done. If not for me, then for the mental health community.

Monday, 18 January 2016

'The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend' by Katarina Bivald: A Book Review

Once you let a book into your life, the most unexpected things can happen...
Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara, who traveled all the way from Sweden just to meet her pen pal, Amy. When she arrives, however, she finds that Amy's funeral has just ended. Luckily, the townspeople are happy to look after their bewildered tourist—even if they don't understand her peculiar need for books. Marooned in a farm town that's almost beyond repair, Sara starts a bookstore in honor of her friend's memory. All she wants is to share the books she loves with the citizens of Broken Wheel and to convince them that reading is one of the great joys of life. But she makes some unconventional choices that could force a lot of secrets into the open and change things for everyone in town. Reminiscent of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, this is a warm, witty book about friendship, stories, and love.

Note: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I've never had a pen pal, or even a legit friend whom I didn't know in real life (not including the time I was a major Winx Club fangirl on the internet). But I can imagine the excitement of opening up a letter from my hypothetical bookworm friend who lives a thousand miles away, and the anticipation of a hundred more such letters. And then, finally, opening up the fated letter inviting me to stay with that friend for a few months so we can discuss Elizabeth and Darcy and Snape vs. James and the ethicality of the Hunger Games in person with perhaps a nice cup of tea!

I can also imagine the horror when I go on said visit to find my bookworm friend dead.

That's exactly what happens to Sara, a Swedish book lover whose life in her hometown is a dreary, dull nightmare. But how can she spend her vacation in Broken Wheel, Iowa, when the friend she was coming to visit is now dead?

Then again, there are other things of interest in Broken Wheel, like the hundreds of books Amy has left behind in her wake. The hustle and bustle of small town life, a life that Sara has never experienced. The new friends she's about to make, friends varying in age and gender and even sexuality. And, of course, the strong but silent Tom whom Sara can't quite figure out.

This book had a pretty slow start. It's a lengthy book for chick lit (around 400 pages on Kindle), and it's not until the first quarter that Sara finally decides to open a bookstore in Amy's memory. That's when the story picks up some pace and actually becomes interesting.

I loved the diverse characters portrayed in this book: you have the morally strict Christian, the tough-girl-who-can-bake-really-well diner owner, the sweet recovering alcoholic, the hardworking hero, the funny gay couple... and, of course, the adorkable bookworm.

In books, people were charming and friendly, and life followed certain set patterns. If a person dreamed of doing something, then you could be almost certain that, by the end of the book, they would almost certainly be doing that very thing. And they would find someone to do it with. In the real world, you could be almost certain that person would end up doing absolutely anything other than what they had dreamed of. 

I hadn't expected this to turn into a romance, honestly speaking, and that's because it isn't really a romance. There's humour, family drama and lessons of friendship, and only a few mentions of romantic entanglements here and there. That's good, because that makes this book a well-rounded candidate. Not to mention a hilarious, well-rounded candidate. There were so many laugh-out-loud moments in this book, and I think some of the credit ought to go to the translator of this edition, because bringing humour from one language to another can get very tricky.
She wondered whether she should offer him coffee. What exactly were the rules of hospitality when you were a nonpaying guest in a dead woman's house?

I've always loved books about books, Fangirl being a good example. For me, it's important to be able to relate to some aspect of the book, if not the main character, and Readers of Broken Wheel does it for me. This is the perfect book to read if you're someone who appreciates all kinds of books, because that's the kind of reader Sara is. And she knows, better than anyone else, that books of all genres can be equally good. None is better than the other.
Why would anyone prefer banknotes to books? A little bit of paper with a pathetic quote about God and a picture of a politican over reams of paper with fantastic stories printed on them?
"Can you smell it? The scent of new books. Unread adventures. Friends you haven't met yet, hours of magical escapism awaiting you."
There are a few shortcomings to this book: the slow pace, the many scenes and dialogues which could have been edited, the plot twist at the end of the book, the ending of the book itself, which was a little too syrupy-sweet for me... but overall, I'd say this book won my heart. I turned the last page (metaphorically - I have a Kindle, remember?) with a cross between a sob and a giggle, both happy and sad that the book had ended.

I'm going to go with 4 stars out of 5 for this one.
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is a must-have for all readers who claim to be serious bookaholics. Plus, look at that gorgeous blue cover!

This book released on January 1st, 2016, so you can find it at your local bookstore or ebook library. Do pick it up and let me know what you think. Were you also shipping Tom and Sara as much as I was?

Bye! :)