Don’t know where I’m going, I just keep on rowing…

Posted on 01 Sep 2014 under Journal/Life Updates

Hey, you there!

Stop struggling. Stop rowing for a minute. Let the river take you where it will.

Why don’t you pull your oars up, son, rest for a while? Stop wondering whether you’ve got your bearings right, stop thinking about the direction you’re headed in. Everything ultimately ends up at the same place.

At the waterfall, we will all meet, in a current of chaos and noise and fright in the end. We will fall together in a deafening rush, crash down, splash around, and ultimately come to rest in calm waters…

Hat tip: Aerials, by System of a Down

 

The Passenger

Posted on 21 Jun 2014 under Random

The passenger found an empty seat and sat down.

The train left the station and soon picked up speed. The passenger felt a tiny bit of anxiety; he wasn’t sure where the train was headed. He looked out the window. They passed the sprawling country and entered tunnels that took the train underground and through the base of mountains. They entered enormous, rich cities and the train passed through smoke and grit, sometimes on tracks on the ground, and sometimes on elevated tracks that snaked their way between sky-scrapers and billboards.

Time passed quickly. Every once in a while, the train stopped at a station. There were no signs at any of these stations, no directions. People walked in and walked out. Some appeared sure of where they were going, some just followed the crowd; others looked around quickly and nervously as they entered, as if they’d made a mistake. He looked around at his fellow passengers. Many faces appeared familiar; some smiled at him, or nodded a friendly greeting that he was compelled to return.

At the next station, a man walked in with a sandwich in one hand and a newspaper in the other. He sat next to the passenger, greeted him politely and began to unwrap his sandwich. Ham and cheese with lettuce and mustard, sliced diagonally, no crust. He offered half to the passenger, who declined politely. The man shrugged and began to eat. After a while, he ordered a cup of coffee for himself and for the passenger. This time, the passenger thanked him graciously.

They spoke a bit, about the weather and the state of the world. They spoke about melting ice-caps and spilled oil on the ocean surface. They argued over football and agreed about the quality of movies  that were successful these days.

Finally, as yet another station approached, the man started to pack his things together and got up to leave.

“How do you know you’re supposed to get off here?” the passenger asked, shaking his hand.

The man smiled and replied, “I don’t.” Then he stepped out.

The passenger watched as the man looked around, as if trying to get his bearings. With another small shrug, he walked towards another waiting train and got in. Both trains left, traveled parallel to each other for a while and then diverged. The passenger wondered where the other train was headed.

As the next station approached, he decided to change trains. He stepped out and looked at his options. None of the trains had any destination mentioned, nor any indication as to which route they’d take. On a whim, he choose a bright red one and stepped into the open doors.

“Hello, sir,” an exceptionally cheerful man in uniform greeted him, “Welcome to the Locomotive In Freedom Experience.”

The passenger found an empty seat and sat down.

 

((forgot to title this))

Posted on 14 May 2014 under Random

So here I am again, a voice without a box, thoughts without a soul, morality without a soul. In this moment, I exist, complete and sufficient, like a mathematical proof, like all I’ll need is this knowledge of being. Tomorrow, it will all change. But that’s ok, because here in the much vaunted ‘here and now’, I exist, fruitfully and for a purpose that is pure and noble. And that is all that matters.

Find Yourself

Posted on 28 Apr 2014 under Random

How many times have you heard or read about people who take time off from their busy lives to “find themselves”?

Kids taking time off between graduation and first job. Adults taking sabbatical from work. People retiring early, from professional life and sometimes from social life as well, in order to be one with their souls … or whatever romantic notion you might have.

I think it’s a little overrated; I think it’s a little fanciful; I think it’s rather simple, really, to find yourself.

Just like you would when you’re searching for your misplaced keys or sunglasses or wallet, you begin by retracing your steps. Where did you last keep them, when did you last use them?

In a similar vein, finding yourself begins by recognizing the fact that you’ve lost yourself somewhere, somehow. Once you admit and accept, it becomes simple enough to retrace your steps. Ask yourself:

  • When did I begin to compromise?
  • When did I give up?
  • When did I diverge from what made me happy to reach what makes someone else happy?
  • When was the last time I did something that made me happy, something I did because I wanted to and not because I had to?

Sometimes, it’s as simple as that. And you’ll find yourself there, waiting, where you left yourself behind.

 

Arseholes

Posted on 20 Apr 2014 under Journal/Life Updates

I read somewhere that opinions are like arseholes — everyone has one.

Some of my friends have strong opinions. On everything. Most of the times, I think such people don’t just have arseholes, but they are arseholes. I myself am rather moderate. I live and let live. I have my strong opinions, which I keep mostly to myself except for a few occasions when I’m provoked to be aggressive or take a stand. I think I have it all figured out. I can’t understand why people are strongly opinionated about everything. Why can’t we accept others for what they love? I respect people who like the music I don’t. I get why some people like Britney Spears or … some other shitty kind of music that I don’t like. I mean, in my opinion, if it makes you feel good, if it’s something that adds value to your life, well, God bless you. Enjoy it.

But today, I got thinking. Some of my friends who are strongly opinionated on things … they’re not bad people, really. If they were, they wouldn’t be my friends (because I’m awesome and I’d cut them out of my life … duh!). But it makes me wonder.

Are they more passionate about the things they love than I am about the things I love? Do they fight more for what they consider more important in their life than I do for what I consider to be important in mine? Is their passion for these things a lot more than mine is for the things I’m passionate about?

Are they more absorbed, more into it, extracting more from the things they love than I am?

Maybe.

Should I be jealous? Should I be an opinionated arsehole?

Nah…

The End

Posted on 18 Apr 2014 under Random

Quite a long time back, I read an article that claimed that the weight of a person’s body immediately before and after death reduces by about 10 grams. The romantics claim that this is the weight of a human soul.

10 grams.

That means that essentially, we are nothing more than a bag of skin and bones and flesh, decaying slowly.  You feel hot, you turn on the air-conditioning, it cools you down, and yet you wake up in the morning, hair moist with sweat. Or maybe that’s just me.

Bag of skin and bones and flesh, decaying slowly, heading to the only inevitable conclusion.

And there’s a certain comfort in that, I suppose. In knowing that one day, it all ends, as everything must.

 

Always Stand Out.

Posted on 12 Apr 2014 under Random

At night, before I sleep, I realise I’m one amongst a billion, a solitary thread that contributes to the fabric of life. It gives me warmth and comfort to know that I contribute somehow, however insignificant it may be. And that gives me a reason to be me. That because of my uniqueness, I add something to the larger picture, a detail lost in the vastness of existence, but a detail that contributes to the complexities of life, to its finer beauty, something that can only be appreciated by an artistic minority.

In the morning I wake up, and I realise that this solitary thread is stark and stands out, and it makes people take notice and make decisions. How much easier, how much prettier would the fabric of existence be if everyone was homogeneous, if everything was the same colour, the colour it’s meant to be. And I realise that no matter how much I complement the rest of the cloth, I will always stand out, in a good way or bad. Always stand out.

 

Note to self: Written at 2:30 am. Kindly ignore.

 

Music vs. TV

Posted on 06 Apr 2014 under Random

This should come as no surprise, really, to anyone who knows me – I love music … SURPRISE!

Anyway, the reason I’m writing this is because I was just watching the India – SL T20 World Cup Final (the tournament now occurs every 2 years so as to maximise revenue), and noticed how disgustingly commercialised the experience of watching cricket on TV has become. This is not a revelation, of course. Plenty has been written or discussed about how the format of T20 promotes commercialisation. But I find the small things annoying. For example, in the good old days, when a wicket fell, we weren’t immediately taken to a bloody commercial. The producers kept the action on the field for a few seconds, allowing us to view players’ reactions and more than one single action replay.

Most of the ads on TV are ridiculous too. What’s with the new Coca Cola ad and the crazy Sardar, for example? And those silly quikr ads with the concept of “Maximum Selling Price” – firstly, such a thing cannot exist. The maximum selling price is whatever someone is willing to pay you for whatever you’re selling. Secondly, they are not the first classifieds website to offer a guiding estimate of what your product might be worth. Anyway, most advertisements on TV nowadays are unintelligent, dumbed-down nonsensical pieces of crap looking to hook you in with some kind of annoying yet catchy jingle or some weird-ass phrase that has recollection value..

None of the shows/series on TV are particularly exciting at the moment, and besides, even if one of them is, most of us watch them on the laptop rather than on TV. In fact, the only time I really want to watch TV is when the football is on, and now Star Sports has 3 channels dedicated to Cricket – two of which show the same sodding match but with commentary in different languages. Bloody hell!

And this is why, perhaps, I so, so, so much more prefer turning on music and going on with whatever else I need to do, like read a book or write a pointless blog post.

 

Film Review: Ankhon Dekhi

Posted on 30 Mar 2014 under Essays

I’ve just watched Rajat Kapoor’s “Ankhon Dekhi”. Let me start by confessing that I know very little about Indian films to use statements like “typical Rajat Kapoor”, but I nevertheless have the feeling that that statement may not be very much off the mark.

Where to begin with Ankhon Dekhi? Shall we begin with praising Sanjay Mishra’s outstanding acting or shall we begin by praising the ethos, the setting and the surreal, yet believable storytelling of Rajat Kapoor? Let’s begin, perhaps, by introducing the unfamiliar to what Ankhon Dekhi is.

In a nutshell, it’s a pretty good experience. It’s far from the masala-pop that gets churned out so regularly, but you already knew that. Is it an artsy film? Not quite. It’s more of a tale of the heart of India, of a middle-class family and how life is in the tiny, cramped flats of New Delhi (I think it’s New Delhi). There’s a bit of everything in the movie, a love-story in which the lovers win, a family crisis that gets resolved ultimately. But the main story is that of Sanjay Mishra’s character, Bauji. And it’s difficult to decide whether this a coming-of-age tale of an old man, or the tale of a late mid-life crisis. I’d like to think it’s the former, there’s a little more romance to the story that way.

Ankhon Dekhi Poster

Ankhon Dekhi Poster

The setting is spectacular. The lives of the protagonists are unlike the lives you and I have led (well, most of us, anyway). The sense of community of the lower middle-class life is present in almost every scene, in every sub-plot. The characters on the screen offer more than comic relief, they are there for more than just helping the plot move along. When you watch these people on screen and the way they interact, you can only feel that this is an actual, living, thriving little community somewhere. And they share their lives with each other freely, openly and warmly, much as they share their money to pay a doctor. Nothing in the movie feels far-fetched, there are no truly good or truly evil characters. Everyone has shades of grey, and while they seem to be entrenched in each other’s lives, they do also place their own entertainment and opinions above others’, occasionally.

I will not give away plot details, because really, the plot isn’t what sets this movie apart. I’m sure you can read the summary on the Wikipedia article or on other reviews. In a nutshell, the plot is merely there to move the story along, slowly and surely, but it’s interesting enough not to keep you awake keep you invested.

The real star here is the cast and the acting. Every single performance, in my opinion, is perfect, led brilliantly by the believable and perfectly done portrayal of Bauji by Sanjay Mishra. The portrayal of this endearing, yet eccentric, man needs to balance finely between being magical and being realistic. And Sanjay Mishra does that perfectly.  Seema Pahwa, whose only other role in Indian films was in Ferrari ki Sawaari, is outstanding as Amma, the loud, difficult to handle wife of Bauji. As most of the other characters are soft-spoken or sombre, it’s left to her to bring energy and vivacity to the film, and this she does perfectly. She bosses the screen in the scenes that she needs to, overshadowing everyone else in the shot. The rest of the supporting cast do their share, too, and I can’t think of a shortcoming in any of the performances, however short their presence in the movie might have been.

All that’s left to comment on, then, is the ending, which comes as a bolt from the blue; enough to be mentioned in a separate paragraph, but such a twist that saying anything more about it gives the plot away. Actually, no, it doesn’t. Because the ending doesn’t seem like it was tied to the plot at all. Somehow, the director gradually lulls you into a place of comfort, leaving you feeling safe that all’s well that ends well, and everything in this little family will end well. But it doesn’t. I’ve been thinking about why this ending, and I haven’t been able to come up with a satisfactory answer. Suffice to say that Rajat Kapoor has done what he wanted to do, without changing anything in the movie for anyone. This seems very much to be a writer/director’s whimsical ending, and heck, perhaps that’s how it should be for a movie about the whims of its protagonist, eh?

A friend of mine read my recent review of Khaled Hosseini’s And The Mountains Echoed, and said that she couldn’t figure out if I liked it or not. Well, not to leave anyone in any doubt, I liked this movie. I like that it’s an interesting tale, I like that the setting seems believable and realistic. I like that the story does not pander to the masses, while still retaining a charm that might pull them in anyway. I like the lack of compromise, and more than anything, I love the acting.

 

Short Book Review: And the Mountains Echoed – Khaled Hosseini

Posted on 27 Mar 2014 under Essays

The Mira Nair movie “Monsoon Wedding”, was all about a big, fat, Indian wedding. And yet, the ending was all about a barely planned, almost serendipitous love story and a simple, unassuming little wedding ceremony that’s meant to steal your heart.

Khaled Hosseini’s “And the Mountains Echoed” is a bit like that. Unlike “A Thousand Splendid Suns” (or even “The Kite Runner”, perhaps … I must admit to not having read all of it), this is not a tale of protagonists that bind the chapters together. This is a collection of stories of various lives, some of which have nothing at all to do with each other, and yet are linked somehow by some precarious thread, the way nature seems to link all of us to each other, and to everything we see and touch.

Covert art of Khaled Hosseini's "And the Mountains Echoed"

Covert art of Khaled Hosseini’s “And the Mountains Echoed”

While the summary at the back of the book may say that this is the story of Abdullah and Pari, two siblings who lose each other in their youth, only to find each other again in old age, there is more to And The Mountains Echoed. My favourite story, for example, is one of almost secret love and devotion. I won’t mention much more about it because I don’t want to give any of the plot away.

Actually, there’s very little plot. At least not in the conventional sense. Like I said earlier, what ties all the chapters together is a vague thread that barely seems to link everything to everything else. Not that it matters. Each of the individual stories within this collection of tales is beautiful in itself. Each could be a novel of its own, and it captures life and how time plays its devastating hand.

The writing is typical Hosseini, although there is less darkness and brutality here than in A Thousand Splendid Suns. This is more a book about love than anything else, and all its various manifestations.

I guess I’m getting really bad at reviewing things, because I don’t have anything else to say. But let’s summarise, as one generally does during reviews:

This is a book about multiple tales, which attempts to do a decent job of tying everything up in the final chapter. The language is beautiful and heart-felt. Should you read this book? Yes, it’s beautiful. Read it because it deserves to be read. Or if not that, read it because I want to know which story you thought was the best.