Book Review: The Temp by Michelle Frances

temp 1Looking for suspenseful stories with strong female characters who are not breathing down each other’s neck all the time, Michelle Frances’ The Temp is for you.

For me, the main attraction of this book is its cover (a lady working on her laptop at a workplace) and the title. Not only that, I also like the synopsis. (Side note: I always go through the synopsis to get a little insight about the story before purchasing a book.)

Apparently, it appears a thriller with undertones of domestic drama where talented young woman is looking to replace a successful older woman. The narrative is told from the perspectives of two women: Carrie and Emma who have different views of each other but there is one constant in their life, Adrian, of course for different reasons.

Carrie, in her 40s, has a successful career as a producer of television programmes. She comes across a very strong, confident and smart lady in her domain. Her husband Adrian is also an award winning screenwriter in the television industry. They are content in their professional and personal lives but life takes an unusual turn which completely jolts them.

As a couple, Carrie and Adrian decide not to have children; primarily because they both want to focus on their career. However, fate has something else stored for them; Carrie gets pregnant and the problem arises when she chooses to keep the baby, and this puts her relationship with her husband off balance.

Moreover, they are prepared to start a new show which needs time and with this pregnancy, Adrian and her friend as well as managing director of Hawks Pictures Liz suggest to hire a replacement for few months. This is where Emma enters as a temp who is intelligent; and despite coming from a well off family, she has always struggled to be the daughter on whom her parents can be proud of. What is interesting is that Carrie never wants Emma to be employed as her replacement.

the tempBeing pregnant, Carrie cannot stay in the office for long duration due to pain and dizziness. Insanity and jealousy run rampage on Carrie’s part especially when Adrian, Liz and everyone in the office are all praise about Emma’s work.  The last nail in the coffin for Carrie is the birth of her newborn baby boy Rory. Her baby keeps her busy all the time and since she has no support from Adrian, she begins to drift away from her husband and her colleagues. As a consequence, she feels isolated and subconsciously put all the blame on Emma. Carrie does not realise that this is all work of her creative mind (pun intended).

British-based author Frances has established herself as a mature, knowing and new voice in the genre of psychological thriller with her bestseller The Girlfriend. Her debut novel took on the issues of unforgiveable lies and twisted relationships. Her second book deals with the relationships caught in the crossfire of all scheming and manipulation.

I do understand that the author has shown some sort of conflict between two female protagonists. Also, the book cover gives an impression to the reader of Emma being conniving who wants to usurp Carrie’s life, which is why both women will compete over Carrie’s husband Adrian. Clearly, this is not all! The book offers much more to the reader’s delight.

If you want to read full review, the link is https://www.dawn.com/news/1471385

 

 

 

Mental Health: Dealing With Depression

 

mental health 1On November 26, 2018, I read about the suicide news of Rushaan Farrukh. It’s disheartening to know that a young girl, who was studying visual arts at BNU in Lahore, took away her life. Her last Instagram posts proved that she was suffering from depression.

I wonder what might be going through Rushaan’s mind when she was standing on the building’s roof. Giving up your life is not an easy decision rather it takes guts and a lot of negativities for Rushaan to jump off from that roof.

These days, youngsters and children are suffering from depression and the reasons are heartbreaks, failure at studies and bullying.

Depression is not a fluff; it’s real and valid issue. I do know what it’s like to be in this state because I had also gone through this phase. A couple of years ago, I had zero motivation for life and I totally gave up. It’s not because of bullying but yes I was heartbroken and this affected my studies. Despite being an A-Grade student I failed miserably at my fifth semester. And on top of that, my mother started looking for my rishtas because I turned 21, luckily I faced rejections many times (pun intended). Consequently, I felt bad and all of this just broke my spirit and I fell into depression.

At that time, I don’t know how and what happened but I only remembered that my parents, sister and most importantly my connection to Almighty Allah restored my strength.

Mental health is a big predicament and it should not be taken lightly. There are several mental health problems a person faces which include anxiety, insomnia and depression. Unfortunately, people suffering from these mental problems are mocked and derided by their surroundings and society.

mental health 2

Feeling anxious or low is normal but if this persists for longer period of time, then this is alarming. Depression is chronic, it can kill people. Depressed people tend to let their lives slide away from their hands. They feel safe in their own cocoon and don’t want to come out. Usually we think that people who are unsuccessful are depressed which is wrong. Several successful celebrities have also been reported to be in severe depression. Hollywood bigwigs such as Robin Williams and Chester Bennington (Linkin Park) took away their lives. In Bollywood, Deepika Padukone was the first female protagonist who came forward and acknowledged that she is suffering from high functioning depression. Now, Padukone helps create countrywide awareness about mental health.

So the question arises how to deal people with clinical depression? As society, it’s important to show concern and listen to the people who are depressed. Don’t shut them up by saying that you should be thankful for your life. The person is in pain and only he/she wants you to listen and not to be judgmental.

As parents, it’s important to build a relation with their children. During Zara Hat Kay Show, one of the psychologists, Aniqa, suggests to parents that they should teach gratitude and patience to the youngsters. These two traits are lacking in today’s generation and they want immediate results and if any mishap happens which is against their plan, they become impatient.

As far as my viewpoint is concerned, I don’t want to say anything to society because it won’t make much of a difference. I will directly say to the person, who is going through depression, try to revive your connection with your Creator. As Muslims, we believe that Allah calls you five times a day. The call to prayer is a reminder that the Creator is there for you. HE won’t abandon you in your misery. Talk to Allah because HE will listen to you. Pray to Allah because HE is the one who can boost your inner strength. Try to create a strong bond with Allah, who never judge you by your physical appearance and do not see your status; instead your Creator only sees your beautiful heart. Seek help from your Creator.

Remember you are above all these materialistic objects and do not let anyone belittle you because no matter how much we talk about humanity, or showing concern to people, nothing will change. There will be people who will demean you, who will say rubbish about you so DO NOT LET ANYONE COME IN YOUR WAY.

Nobody is perfect in this world, not me, you or not even your bully. This time will pass. And you just need to stay firm. And keep moving, you will eventually find a far better place.

Quiet By Day, Bustling By Night

On May 3, 2018, my review of Block 7, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Karachi Pakistan was published in Dawn Newspaper. Below is the article which was printed and also I am adding link of the article as well as the snapshot (if you want to see how this place looks)IMG_20180504_175729

A decade ago, Block 7, Gulshan-e-Iqbal was a quiet neighbourhood characterised by large houses, tree-lined roads and a handful of grocery stores. Over the years, things have changed; plenty of apartment complexes have been established there, in addition to restaurants and commercial pockets.

A serene neighbourhood… If you drive through Block 7, you will see plenty of well-maintained houses built along quiet lanes. Several educational institutions, such as schools and training institutes dot the neighbourhood, as do commercial pockets where grocery stores and banks have a presence. Recreational avenues are limited to a few parks; these include Shaheed Inquilab Family Park, which has walking and jogging tracks, as well as a football pitch. The lesser known Jamshed Ansari Family and Al-Huda Parks are equally popular.

An emerging food street… In addition to apartment buildings, several supermarkets, retail stores and dining avenues have been established along Allama Shabbir Ahmed Usmani Road recently. Al Jannat Zaiqa and Jan Shinwari Restaurant are the go-to places for desi food such as chicken tikkas, malai boti and karahi. Other popular restaurants include Sizzlers Café & Grill, which is especially well-known for its steaks, burgers and sandwiches, and ChopSoy, which specialises in Chinese food. Several fast-food joints have a presence, including Bovi Chic, KFC and Pizza Hut. Their presence ensures that Allama Shabbir Ahmed Usmani Road is bustling with activity in the evenings and at night.

The real estate take… Block 7 is completely built-up; vacant plots are not available. Residential property options include apartments and houses. Houses on the main roads are increasingly being repurposed to serve as commercial enterprises such as schools, salons and fitness centres. Commercial property options include standalone shops and retail space in low-rise buildings. Property is in high demand; prices increase by 15 to 18% every year while rentals go up by eight to 10%.

 In a nutshell… Despite increasing commercialisation, Block 7, for the most part, remains a tranquil neighbourhood, mainly because most of the recently established stores and restaurants there are located along the major thoroughfares it is surrounded by.

Link: https://epaper.dawn.com/Advt.php?StoryImage=06_05_2018_808_003

https://epaper.dawn.com/?page=06_05_2018_808