The Streets Of Desire – Old Delhi’s subversive love-letter manuals


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The old world charm of love letters.

The blurb on its rear cover read: “Mann mein meethi meethi gudgudiyan uthati hain, panne par panne fatte jate hain par prem patra nahin likha jata” (Our mind is tickled by sweet desires, and pages and pages keep getting torn, and yet no love letter gets written). Inside were sample letters for a wide range of possible amorous situations, along with practical advice on how to write letters to potential lovers. I found other similar books too, with their contents categorised by various romantic situations in which one might find oneself, with sample letters for each. In one book, the table of contents listed “Tanu’s letter to Shailesh after his lover goes astray,” “A flirt writes to her ex-lover,” “A middle-aged man’s love letter to a nurse,” “Steno-typist’s love letter,” and more along these lines. The titles alone were poignant, full of yearning, and frequently ridiculous.

The complete article

Kanupriya Dhingra — The Caravan

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J.R.R. Tolkien’s Love Story


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Found a needull on the love story of another great writer – J.R.R. Tolkein. While we remember Tolkein’s books for the magical world he creates there, there are some slivers of romance in his writings too.

As Christopher Tolkien writes in his preface, these two lovers were very close to his father’s heart. He wrote their tale after returning from World War I, in 1917. Beren falls in love with the beautiful Lúthien after seeing her dance in a glade filled with hemlocks, just as Tolkien’s wife Edith had danced for him. “In a letter to me on the subject of my mother,” Christopher Tolkien writes, “written in the year after her death, which was also the year before his own, he wrote of his overwhelming sense of bereavement, and of his wish to have Lúthien inscribed beneath her name on the grave.” Tolkien and Edith now rest under gravestones with the names of each lover engraved beneath their own, side by side.

The complete article

Josephine Livingstone — New Republic

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The Love Story Behind Erich Segal’s ‘Love Story’


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Today’s needull looks at the real love story that inspired Erich Segal’s very popular “Love Story’.

In 1969, Janet’s entire young family was sound asleep when the phone rang at 3 a.m. It was Erich Segal. “He was soused,” Janet recalled. “He told me that he’d just written his final love letter to me and that it was over a hundred pages long.” That last, very long letter was Love Story. A shortish novel, it became the best-selling book of 1970 and made Erich an instant millionaire. When the film exploded the following year, Erich invited Janet to accompany him to the Plaza Hotel in New York City, where she dined with him and the film’s stars, Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw, as well as the producer, Robert Evans. Janet recalled: “Gideon said I could go—however, he stipulated that I couldn’t be identified to the press as ‘Jenny’.” She attended the fête as the “mystery woman.”

The complete article

Paula Young Lee — Tablet

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Love Is Never a Given


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A needull for your weekend. What does it take to make your relationship last? “The secret to creating happy and lasting relationships, Miller concludes, is simple: just love your partner or leave.”

Would it be fair to say that you’re applying the thinking behind arranged marriages — such as Sanjay’s parents’ relationship — to love marriages?

Yes. In the Western world, too many relationships have become disposable. As soon as a romantic relationship becomes difficult — and it always does — too many people want to leave or blame the other person, rather than work through the problems. The US divorce rate of nearly 45 percent bears this out. In arranged marriages, escape isn’t typically an option, and we know that many of them actually develop more love than non-arranged marriages, based on fascinating research conducted by Harvard Professor Dr. Robert Epstein. Most of them figure out how to make it work. They work hard at it. They learn to love each other. They learn to create love.

The complete interview

Skye C. Cleary interviews Andrea Miller

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Failure is Neither Fatal, Nor Final


This is another interesting ‘Rare Needull’ I came across in a monthly column at Hazlitt. In this interesting piece, the author examines her varied instances of failures, including her experience with a failed marriage, and how these experiences have affected her outlook on life and her ongoing recovery. The reason why you should read it is simple because her story is your story – after all, haven’t we all failed before!!

Marriage is presumed to be forever. After we married, my husband and I drove to Malibu and sealed our vows inside a bottle, and tossed them out to sea. In our minds, they were promises made like offerings to the universe. Our marriage was a sacred bond between us, so pure, the purest form of love we’d ever felt. We thought it would last for eternity.

Full Article Here

Hazlitt – Sarah Gerard

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When Breath Becomes Air


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Paul Kalanithi died at the age of 37 but not before penning down his book – When Breath Becomes Air. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (Vintage) is shortlisted for the 2017 Wellcome Book Prize. The book talks about life in the face of near imminent death and has been a huge success.

But, today’s needull talks about his wife, Lucy Kalanithi and how has she been dealing with Paul’s loss.

Paul’s memoir ends with a particularly poignant message to Cady that is now framed in her bedroom at home: “When you come to one of the many moments in life where you must give an account of yourself, provide a ledger of what you have been, and done, and meant to the world, do not, I pray, discount that you filled a dying man’s days with a sated joy, a joy unknown to me in all my prior years, a joy that does not hunger for more and more but rests, satisfied. In this time, right now, that is an enormous thing.”

The complete article

Radhika Sanghani — The Telegraph

The New York Times book review of When Breath Becomes Air

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Meryl and Her First Love


From Sophie’s Choice to The Iron Lady, Meryl Streep has enthralled us for almost 40 years in many roles. For nearly all that time Meryl, who is 65 on June 22, has been happily married to just one man – a rarity for the film world.

But her husband was not her ‘first love’.

Today’s Needull is an insightful account of her tragic love affair with the equally talented John Cazale (best known as Fredo Corleone in the Godfather movies, and one who exemplified the 70’s French notion of jolie laide, or “ugly-beautiful”). At the end of it,  I’m sure, your respect for this amazing actress and human being will go up a few notches further.

For all her later accomplishments — 19 Academy Award nominations, the most of any actress in history, and three wins — her friends and fellow actors most admire Streep for her devotion to Cazale, for the strength of character such a young woman showed.

Full Article Here

NY Post – Maureen Callahan

Bonus Read – Edited extract from the book Her Again: Becoming Meryl Streep, by Michael Schulman

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