Monday, December 20, 2010

Lights will guide you home.

It was never my intention to leave this blog ignored and neglected for so long. I don't even remember taking a conscious sabbatical from writing. Before I knew it though, I was going through a dry spell, one of the worst I have faced in a long, long time.

It's funny, this whole writer's block thing. For someone who believed that writer's block was just another excuse to not write, to hide comfortably under the pretense of an established condition most writers go through, grappling with it was strange.
Contrary to popular belief, it does not set in whenever there's a dearth of passion. It just does. It creeps up on you, when you least expect it to. You ignore it at first, you pretend you're immune to it. You burst your bubble soon enough. And it just becomes easier to sway, to sway to a tune you don't set, a tune you have no knowledge of. Six months pass and you feel like you are never writing again. You lose the right to call yourself a writer anymore, hence rendering the very term pointless.

But, you want to write. More than anything else. More than you admit. To yourself. By now, you've reached far beyond the point where you could blame it on 'writer's block' and shrug it off. So you wait. You wait for when you think you'll be ready. In truth though, you're only fooling yourself, pretending some more. That mythical, magical day you wait for will never come till I beckon it.

This is home. This is my space. I have come to reclaim it. I created this space for a reason. It was meant as much for catharsis as an almost introspective glance. Without it, I felt like a part of me was just barely hanging in there. Suspended. Perhaps it was an over-dependence. Perhaps it just meant I wasn't committed enough, or that I felt a little like Alice. Either way, it's real. It's happening. I'm reclaiming.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Regina Spektor, you are a beautiful creepy genius.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

"She came back to the table and sat down, and after a moment Shukumar joined her. They wept together, for the things they now knew." - Extracted from Jhumpa Lahiri's short story, 'A Temporary Matter'.

This story is without doubt, one of the finest short stories I have read. Certainly nothing dramatic, or even life-altering. Except that it is. The varied range of emotions Jhumpa inspires in you, by simply painting an ordinary (even mundane) event in the daily course of life, is bound to leave you wistful. Each sentence is quotable, each sentence applies to you in a twisted, inexplicable manner.
What constitutes a person? Why is it that our lives are thought to be part of a rigmarole? Isn't it a wonder just to be alive, just to experience? Most importantly, who needs fantasy when you have real people with their awe-inspiring tales?

I don't know the answer to those questions, I do not know if they hold relevance. But each time I read any of Jhumpa Lahiri's works, I find myself asking these same questions, over and over again. Perhaps therein lies the beauty if her work, not in incidents but in the course of incidents. Not through powerful emotion, but with a perpetually nagging feeling.
If you haven't read the story yet, please do, here: A Temporary Matter.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

There are not enough words that can sum up Amrita Sher-Gil's legacy. She wasn't just an artiste par extraordinaire, she wasn't just a beautiful, free-spirited and intelligent woman. She was all that, and much much more.

To say I am enamoured by her would be say too less.

And to even think I can begin to rationalise her work would be scandalous.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Of Atticus Finch.

"They're certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions, but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience."

So true, Harper Lee, so true.

Friday, June 25, 2010

"This is what happens when you haven't written for years: every moment takes on a startling clarity; small things become the world in microcosm." - Extracted from The Hungry Tide.
Exactly, Amitav Ghosh. Each day that has passed right by me has witnessed my almost physical longing for pen and paper. And yet, when you start to write, it is not words that evolve. It is a concoction of feelings, of experiences, of observations you make while trawling through the mundane.

But then again, isn't that characteristic of, and even exclusive to, people?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

(Virginia Woolf - A work by Roger Fry)

"I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse, perhaps, to be locked in. "
- Virginia Woolf.

Friday, May 14, 2010

             Because sometimes, you don't need to explain your presence.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

And then, there were none.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Great Gatsby.

"It is invariably saddening to look through new eyes at things upon which you have expended your own powers of adjustment." - Nick Carraway.
The thing I absolutely love about the book is the way I find perfect solidarity in Nick's cynicism.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Open Letter.

Dear Terrorist Organisation/Militant Groups/Religious 'revivalists',

We get it. We do. Your modus operandi is to scare people, in order to change the world. Change it according to how you think it should be changed.
For years now, our entire society is trying to rationalise why and how we are subjected to such mass destruction. When we did finally arrive at a conclusion, it was not all that complex. Dare I say, it was an overly simplified notion. Your activities, riots, bombings, assassinations and the like were an indication of a combined desire to instill, and simultaneously maintain fear in what is a large collectivity.
In keeping with that, it almost seems rational that we bear witness to not only sporadic, but directed, terrorist attacks on a very continuous basis. Every day becomes a testimony to having lived. Every day tells you it wasn't you. Every day is proof that they haven't gotten us. Yet.

If it wasn't enough that the 13th and the 26th of each month were when we felt most anxious about not coming back home (thanks to repeated consecutive attacks on the same dates), we are now being given official and International warnings from the US State Government and Australia to not leave home. New Delhi, after all is a high-target area. Hence, traffic routes are clogged, police forces are installed at the entrances (and entrance only) of various shopping centres and heritage sites and regular information in the form of warning messages are being sent out by the media and it's new media avenues. Nobody knows whether there will be a blast or not. It's better to be safe, right?

So, let's strike a compromise. Give us our life back. We have proven ourselves incompetent at not being afraid of these barbaric acts. Really now, are we to be blamed? It is such a potent and viable threat that you chose to shove into our throats, after all!
What we propose is, since you have been proven right, perhaps it is time to back out from the realm of the business where you scare huge, heterogeneous masses all at once. In return to this, we promise to be scared of such methods, to acknowledge your pertinent presence and to not bracket you under 'terrorist nihilisms'.

This culture of fear that we are forced to live in is all-encompassing in it's omni-presence. Maybe we do have a choice here. Maybe we can refuse to subscribe to this culture. Then again, we are no longer our own masters, are we now?

Thank you,

The Undersigned.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


The Red Fort, New Delhi. Loving India just became easier.

Friday, April 23, 2010

La Nausée.

It is almost as if the child can experience and feel Antoine. I don't know if that is a good thing, twisted as it may sound.

Jean-Paul Sartre would have been proud.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sita Sings the Blues.

Written, edited, directed, designed, animated and produced by Nina Paley, 'Sita Sings the Blues' will remain an absolute delight. It is the greatest, most exalted story ever told, the Ramayana. But no, it doesn't stop at being a mere retelling of the ancient epic.
The plot works in more or less four sub-plots, one dealing with scenes from an 18th century depiction of the Ramayana, one being the musical ('20s Blues) version of episodes from the Ramayana, one being a discoursive discussion of the salient points in the epic and lastly, the contemporary parallel. Even so, the film doesn't attempt to be a 'Modern Ramayana', thankfully.
The juxtaposition of all these four tracks together culminates into one of the most sharply edited and beautifully animated film in recent times. What an absolutely brilliant film, and what splendid animation!
What lies at the crux of the films's brilliance is the contextualisation of how the story moves right from the explosive (literally) starting credits to the noisy intermission to the happy rendition accompanying the end credits. You would think that the presence of a four plot structure would make the film end up being clumsily executed and confusing, but you'd think wrong. The film moves absolutely seamlessly, leaving you in awe of the filmmaker and her screenplay. Stunning, on all counts. Also, at all points, I was stuck by the dexterity of how the Blues (an amazing choice of genre) music corresponds, synchronises and adds to the age-old story.
The film raises pertinent questions about the legacy of Sita, Sita in Ayodhya B.C and the Sita that lives through the ages into contemporary life. The Sita whose entire lexicon corresponds with references to immense sacrifices that a woman "has to make". Nina Paley's groundbreaking film raises questions to the very identity of Sita. Why does Sita opt to sacrifice herself, to show she was a symbol of utmost chaste purity by being thrown into the fire by Ram? Why does Sita feel the need to glorify and worship the man who banished her to the forests simply because he wanted the support of all his allays? Is it merely coincidental that Sita finds maximum emancipation and freedom only after she makes the ultimate sacrifice, that of life, to prove yet again that she remained untarnished, untouched by worldly pleasure?
The contemporary parallel story is an example of how Sita and her estate transcended beyond cultures, beyond boundaries and through times. Nina and Dave, the American couple form part of this sub-plot. Dave leaves for India, and gradually distances himself from his distraught wife. She, like Sita, hangs on to the hope he will take her back. She sacrifices her dignity and her pride to get back with Dave, Dave who doesn't care. Unlike Sita though, Nina doesn't have to die to be happy, to be free.
Sita lives on through us. Who she really was, whether she did exist or not, we shall never know. But through Valmiki's Ramayana, Sita's story is one that has been told and re-told. 'Sita Sings the Blues' just attempts to analyse, to question and to glean that Sita does exist in the woman of today. The real question is, however, whether Sita was right in everything she did? Did she not come with her own issues? Is her constant praise of Rama and the willingness to prove herself to be moral result from unconditional love or is it merely an illusion of love?
It is important to remember why Sita is still worshipped and idolised. Is it an attempt to create male hegemony through constant repitition of Sita's unquestioning, dolice self as being the 'Good Woman'? Or is Sita widely misunderstood? Maybe she did choose death over Rama (evident from her appeal to Mother Earth to take her right in if she has never committed perjury) to ascertain herself, her rights and her sadness.
'Sita Sings the Blues' makes you look inside of you, think, and scrutinise the context in which 'Sita' lived and died and still somehow manages to live. A must-watch satire on mythology, on relatinships and, on Sita.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


What an absolutely brilliant film. The genius that Alfred Hitchcock was, he was never an actor's director, a predicament that was heightened in the later years of his career. However, 'Notorious' easily proves that Hitchcock could be anyone, anywhere and at any time.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

With a frenzy.

If you, dear reader, are the sort of person who objects wholly to any form of personal rants or discourses, I implore you to please stop reading. However, if you are the kind who enjoys revelling in the misery of another, this is the place to be!
The concern that has me up in arms imploring people and ranting is just that. You got that right. I am distraught because I feel this blog has turned into a journal of sorts. Not a diary perhaps (small mercies), but a personal, intimate journal nevertheless.
"Why is this such a bad thing?", you may feel the need to ask when the Internet has close to 80 million blogs which deal with the personal, with the private. That, dear reader, is precisely the point.
In saying that I have sincerely tried to not make this blog sound too blog-gy, I am not wrong. But perhaps it is time to admit that my plans didn't go exactly as they were planned.
A narcississtic journey to the past always gives you the big picture. So that is exactly what I sought refuge in. After reading through a couple of my archive posts, I was stunned, to say the least. Hence, I was spamming the blog world with copyrighted pictures for the past week.
It is not that I have aspersions about my talent or utter lack thereof, it is just that this was one thing I had to avoid. To me, blogging was an extension of myself, but not of me. With that in mind, I proceded to write, but not to record. I procede to opine, but not to judge. Or so I thought.
Even I am getting tired of my obsessive drawl.

What really should be the focus of this entire crusade is how much we have changed as a society. In my last lengthy post, I talked about voyeurism pervading into each section of the society. But voyeurism is not a one-way process. If people get pleasure from being Peepers into others' personal lives, the "others" too want to give a peep into their life. This process basically stems from an inherent need to gain acceptance, to expand yourself and your horizon, and finally, to brag about how much smarter/prettier/taller you are than the average Joe.
The kind of society I live in has influenced me so much that even in my directed and concentrated efforts to not divulge any of those intimate details, I have fallen prey to the same. My only defence remains the unconscious. Sure, blaming the unconscious was a solution, but only for about a nanosecond. After all, the unconscious too is influenced by subversive details.
When McLuhan talked about medium being the message, I feel safe to assume he didn't see blogs as a tangible platform. But he did see what was to be the outcome of this technological revolution. People are no longer private. People are selling themselves, marketing themselves to an anonymous, judgemental world out there. Obviously, given that context, it seems fair to post pictures of yourself in beautiful clothes, to talk about your take on existential reality (please forgive me, I am obsessed) and to post a discourse on structuralist influences in contemporary society. It all seems perfect.
In my entire discussion, I seem to target the very crux of Internet usage and its purposes. Of course, we are marketing ourselves, let us.
It is startling how an entire society, a collective so huge, keeps falling prey to the new. To the experimental. And to the personal. I am one to talk though.
Perhaps that really is the message. Medium has to be the message, and thereby, it is.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Love, Sex aur Dhokha: Directed by Dibakar Bannerjee.

I have a confession to make. I knew I would love LSD way before it was even released. Part of the reason to this was my complete, and absolute, adulation of Dibakar Bannerjee. Having fallen in love with him Post-Khosla ka Ghosla and Oye Lucky Lucky Oye, it would be pretty difficult for me to feel let down by his work. And of course, it would be almost implausible for him to make disappointing art.
There is a lot you have heard about LSD, and most of it is not true. If you watch the film with that assumption, life just gets easier. There is virtually no sex, thus rendering the very title of the film useless and ironical. The film is not a documentary, a myth that hasn't failed to amuse me since I first heard it. And of course, the film is based on real life incidents. Just not these.
LSD is basically divided into three storylines: Love, Sex and Dhokha. Each plot is resonant of something you have read about, something you have heard, or worse still, something that has happened to you. In this world of voyeurism and new technology, how do we live without being exploited? Do we come to know when we are being exploited?

Apart from the masterful direction and editing (how I love a taut film!), perhaps what worked for me most was the singular aspect of not being too preachy or all-too-moralistic. To me, the film was more about the culture we are in the process of acquiring rather than the culture that we have given up. That treatment awarded was the defining moment for me. A film is no doubt about the filmmaker and his perception, but when his opinion stays throughout without him having to proclaim and take a moral stand is when I have officially lost my heart.
To me, LSD remains an angry film. Not just in the violence and voyeurism, but even in acts of love, acts of selfless help and in acts of revenge. It comes through very clearly that Dibakar was angry at the sudden influx and influence of voyeurism in contemporary society and was as much amazed by the phenomenon as he was perplexed. In an interview promoting the film, Dibakar says he was surprised that all of a sudden, there are rules that govern social life, relationships, sex life, family life and the vogue. Suddenly, there is this huge internet revolution, and you have to do everything you can to avoid being labelled a 'frigid' or in other, more swanky terms, 'behenji'. The assumption that the film is only about sex and sexuality in deeply rooted in the Great Indian Diaspora. Enough said.
Also, LSD is more than just about making a statement of how this psycho-sociological disorder can wreck our lives. It is physically creepy. There is a part of me which is still reeling from an over-bearing terror. What if I were cut into 30 pieces for doing what I wanted to? What if I were to land up falling in love with a sado-masochist misogynist? And what if I were to be part of a deception so huge words fail to describe it?
This crushing realisation of failure and fear governs our life today. There is no way we can escape hidden cameras. No way we can ask that creepy man at the petrol pump to not click a picture. With technology, easy access to aforementioned technology, there also comes vulnerability. It hurts just admitting that I am in fact, very vulnerable to such violence and abuse.
And as I sat there, watching a too-short film pertaining to issues we hardly talk about (but experience, nonetheless), I felt a sense of shame. Shame for the society I am living in, shame for myself for daring to live in such a society and finally, a gnawing sense of apprehension.
Before I forget, Sneha Khanwalkar deserves more than a mere mention for doing such a brilliant job with the music. Also, the screenplay is done in a way I could only expect out of filmmakers like Dibakar.
Would I suggest LSD to anyone? Oh yes. Watch it for being explicit (and for not treating everything as clandestine), watch it for shrugging off the pretentious. Most importantly, watch it for yourself.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Remembering Benjamin.

It suprises me, every day, how much of a genius George Orwell really was. Proof lies in his beautiful, and strangely poignant works, 1984, A Clergyman's Daughter and Animal Farm. Each work is so distinct and so skillfully written I cannot pick and choose a favourite.
Perhaps what strikes me most wonderfully about any of his work, whether a short story or a full fledged 'novel', is the sheer dystopia. Enough of the utopian world, I say. Let's face it, the world we live in is bleak, and there is no limit to how cynical we are forced to get. Then why the reluctance to admit the same?
But this is not about letting my derisive self take over. I write to reminiscence.
The first time I read Animal Farm was when I was a naive 13 year old, and fell so hard for Boxer that I cried when he died. It is only with a little embarrassment that I admit that I cry each time Boxer is taken away. It is so sad, he was just a poor old horse. Now though, my absolute favourite is Benjamin, the aged donkey.
Touted as grumpy and grouchy, Benjamin promised me he was sane, and had some sense in him. In an analogous comparison with the history of Communism, Benjamin is part of the Mensheviks and represents any faction that has not been swayed by the enchating false promises of Communists. Socialism/Communism starts off as a euphemism to all things fair, all things just and simultaneously, all things which you wanted.
And yet.
For those of you who are not familiar with the plot, I shall not divulge anything (If you do not mind me being impudent though, please rent a copy and read it). Benjamin, though he may appear to be misanthropic at first, is virtually unaffected by any effects of propaganda directed at the poor, unsuspecting animals, whether it comes via Napoleon (the pig) or via Squealer. All he ever says, at being asked why he doesn't support the Revolution, is: "Donkeys live a long time. None of you has ever seen a dead donkey." This one sentence that he oft repeats is actually deeply seated in symbolism. He is definitely more experienced, and by way of the cynicism, is trying to convey to the other animals that Communism/Capitalism/even Liberalism are all a farce. All that you have left is a hope for a better day, and all you get to pick is between the aforementioned sham.
And it is not that Benjamin isn't intelligent. He is as smart as, if not more, than the bourgeoisie pigs.He can read perfectly well, and yet chooses not to advise the animals when they are being sucked into the vortex of their own ignorance. Is that selfish? Or can that be construed as a benevolent gesture, making the animals learn on their own, freeing them from another imposed opinion? It gives me great joy to think that Orwell himself was not too sure.
Lest it be assumed that Benjamin was a heartless, anti-social (hah!) creature, I feel the restless need to intervene your line of thought. Benjamin is sensitive, and loves Boxer (which makes him even better, in my eyes!) and the matriarch, Clover. His reaction to Boxer being taken away has been seen by many critics as delayed, and removed. I could not disagree more. We know Benjamin is not impetous, or impulsive. We know by now that spontaneity doesn't govern him the way it did other animals (hence the ultimate tragedy they get into). When Benjamin paused, he was composing himself, for he knew Boxer was not coming back. It was actually simple logic. Boxer was the working class, the proletariat. And the bourgeoisie wanted a crate of beer in exchange for his tired limbs.
Yes, I am fawning over a donkey. But when he is so intelligent, is it really all that wrong of me to?

Monday, March 15, 2010


If you haven't noticed yet, I am a confirmed, obsessive retrophile.
And I think it is too late to change.

Ah, Dior. I love you, John Galliano. Only, I loved Mr.Dior more.

What I would not give to own this car. In this exact same setting.

To think this was Vogue. What happened? And yes, I am Dior obsessed. Look at how stunning this is. How could I not?

I absolutely had to end with a burst of colour.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Precious: Based on the novel 'Push' by Sapphire.

There has already been enough written and spoken coverage of the movie, 'Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire' that I feel horribly late, and worse still, naive.
In my defence though, I was dreading watching this film out of sheer apprehension. Not someone to physically weep because of a movie, it is obvious why I didn't wish to blemish that one characteristic of mine.
But when I did get over my anxiety, I realised I had to see it. In one sitting.
Portrayed beautifully by Gabourey Sidibe, Claireece Precious Jones is overweight, illiterate, and abused sexually and physically at home. She ceases to exist, and becomes an object to which things are done. Her rapist, incestuous father, who impregnated her twice, and began the assault when she was only three. Her abusive, unemployed and disgruntled mother, ironically named Mary (played by Monique), who is angry with her for stealing a man. For being obese. For simply existing.

It is in this context that Precious(as she is fondly called) is introduced to the anxious viewer. Through a horrifying glimpse into the incest, we first see her father raping her, while her mother watches in the background. It is also here that we come to know of her latent desires, of being famous, of being beautiful, and of being loved for the right reasons.
Her escapes into this world are heart-wrenching, to say the least. To see how sad one child could be gnaws at you, and then keeps you at your toes.
Precious is expelled from school, for being pregnant again, at the nubile age of sixteen. There on, she joins an alternative school where she meets her beautiful teacher, Miss Blu Rain, and confides in her. She begins to learn, to find solace in the English alphabet. And she writes. Writes about what she feels. All this while, her mother hits her with airborne objects, slaps her, makes her hog. And then Mary calls Precious names, while simultaneously blaming her for taking away her 'man'. As much as I am tempted to, I will refrain from ruining the plot for you.
Precious' story is not extraordinary, it is her circumstances that make it so. Her mother refuses to acknowledge rape, she herself is so confused and so violated she doesn't know what to do, what to say, how to react. She doesn't speak in class, and on the occassion that she does, she finds it difficult to look anyone in the eye. Yes, she is a destroyed child, but she is more than that. She is beautiful and intelligent. What makes the movie for me is the fact that Lee Daniels let Precious be beautiful, intelligent, smart and a caring mother while still showing how much she has been affected by the perils of family life.
The portrayal of the intensely complex mother-daughter relationship was taut and resisted the impulse to be overly melodramatic. No, Mary doesn't hate Precious. She is jealous of her, she is jealous of her own grandchildren. Mary, too, is a woman who has been hardened by life. You almost don't hate her for treating her child like a beast. But then, each time she gets into a physical fight, you want her to keel over.
I admit, I weeped like a little girl. A child (that is what she is!) is sucked into a vortex of hatred for herself and family, without ever realising that there are people who love her. There are people who want her to live. She looks into a mirror and wants to see a skinny white blond 'bitch' staring right back at her. She herself wants to be skinny, thanks to the innumerable comments and criticisms she has received for her weight.
At some point during the movie though, it stops being about her weight. I couldn't care less if she weighed 62 pounds(yes, there is a model who weighs that much). What I did want, and care about was hugging the poor child. Hugging her to let her know someone will be there.
Honestly, I cannot imagine how I would react if I were Claireece. Would I be the same? I think not. I am too small a person to even begin to comprehend being in her shoes.
The one segment/shot that made me smile and cry, together, was when Precious escapes with her son, is walking along the subway platform and chants the alphabet. She seems to be in a trance, and latches on to the hope of being an educated and intelligent mother to her children.
It was then that her short future was laid out for the mute audience.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Vivien Leigh

Vivien Leigh has to be the most stunning woman I have ever seen.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Your Size, My Size?

If there is one pressure most women agree they feel through the majority of their lives, it is the need to be thin. What thin is, or what thin enough is, we do not know. Perhaps everyone I know has been through a phase where they were on a diet that involved shutting off food, or have pounded that treadmill for hours on end. I, myself, have been part of that large, large collective. In my defence, though, I was young, and consequently, naive.

Thinking back now, I have to say, this apprehension regarding our bodies is probably inherent. Society, that vile concoction, has told us time and again. We need to be thin, or atleast, 'average' sized. Once again, the ramifications of those terms escape me. To think this process of angst toward your own body is a by-product of something your parents and your immediate family instigates in you is chilling, to say the least.
As you grow up, and become more foolish by the day, all those contrived mediums of propagating hatred strive to make sure you hate yourself, your guts for biting into an apple. Our hatred fuels their profit. It is actually cold, clear logic. The more you despise yourself, the more some corporate gains out of you spending on pills, lotions, exercise machines, and even clothes that are maybe too small.
But, while I do enjoy corporate-bashing, I must not digress.
The only question I am raising here, to myself, is the one question which is of absolute significance. Whatever happened to individuality? Why can't a woman be the size she wants to be and be happy with it? For the life of me, I do not understand the notion that you have to be reed thin to fit into the socially acceptable definition of beautiful, attractive or plain pretty. As far as my confused existence is concerned, there really are no rules which say that a woman has to slog herself to death to gain acceptance from strangers. Why is it then that people who have some flesh on their scrawny bones have to murmur something about being big-boned so as to avoid being judged? Why is it then that a Christina Hendricks is seen as an anomaly in that utterly perplexing world of beauty? And why is it that every time you Google Gabourey Sidibe, 6,40,000 results regarding her weight show up?
Perhaps we are just raring to judge and to cast aspersions on people who are comfortable with how they look, what they weigh. The fairness, and the politics to that, we will never know. We are not supposed to.
Before I am criticised for trying to justify and encourage obesity, I would like to clarify my stance. No, I am not doing anything of the sort. Obesity is unhealthy and rampant. But so is anorexia. And bulimia. And BDD. It is sad to note how many, many young people are falling prey to mistaken perceptions about themselves. And yet, the onus is not on being fit, or even being healthy. Oh, that dreaded word! Laziness, or remaining inactive, is not my proposed alternative to this madness inducing regime people are adopting. Hardly.
But is it correct, or even fair, to burden someone with the realisation of constantly having to lose weight when they take a walk, or when they are swimming? Where is the fun in that? And where, pray, is the fun in homogeneity?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Persepolis: The story of a Childhood

Marjane Satrapi is perhaps best known for being the protagonist in the movie, Persepolis, based on her own life. Persepolis, literally meaning a town in Iran (ancient Persia), near Shiraz, is originally an autobiography of Marjane. The form is that of a graphic novel (black and white cartoon strips if you will), a growingly popular style in literature.

Like the name suggests, the book traces Marjane’s life through the years and the difficult times during the Iranian Revolution (1979). She is born to revolutionary agnostic parents, who protest against the tyrannical government and do their best to inculcate in Marjane the same values. Marjane lives in a close-knit family comprising her parents and grandmother, and is perhaps closest to her grandmother. The recurring theme in Persepolis is the precocious curiosity that Marjane has towards life. She is not someone who sits by and accepts the imposition of the veil, or can live with the restrictions that the new regime had bought about. She, like every other child, wanted her freedom, wanted to be curious, and most of all, wanted answers to what is happening around her. To control the Communist revolutionaries’ protests, the government resorted to bombing entire streets. It was due to having a close shave with the bombings and the fact that all French schools were shut down that Marjane was sent to school in Austria by her parents to escape the hegemonic regime prevalent in Iran by acquiring a sound education. Her story moves on from there, a story of misguided love, a story of mistaken identity and pangs of guilt.

What is perhaps most striking about the book are the illustrations. The simplicity and lucidity attacks you, and leaves you wounded. Her story is a common one, it invokes reactions from all of us who have had to choose between passions, have had to face confines in life or have used escapism as a means to protect ourselves. And yet, there is something so non-contrived about Persepolis that it will move you, make you cry and laugh, all at the same time!

The issues that Marjane raises are omnipresent, yet very difficult to resolve. The issue of female liberation, for instance, is a gnawing one, especially in Asian countries. She stands up against all of the ridiculous measures imposed by the then government and strives to become a free-thinker. There is also a question of returning to where you belong, not forgetting your roots. It is difficult and painful for Marjane to leave her homeland, and yet she wants to leave her tumultuous past behind and move with her life, while taking on a French identity.

Persepolis is a hauntingly beautiful novel that stays with you for days after you read it. It makes you question, and introspect on the little things that make up life as we know it. A coming of age novel that would leave an impression on you, that’s Persepolis.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

"How many years must some people exist before they're allowed to be free?"                                                       - Bob Dylan (in Blowing in the Wind)

It's scary how true this sentence is. Even in these times that we live in, times of great advances in technology, in science, in human rights, in international relations, there exists a basic lack of reverence for human freedom. Before going into any details, it is imperative to define what 'freedom' means. To be very honest, I haven't yet found one single, acceptable and usable definition of freedom. Everything comes with a catch. "The condition of being free; the power to act or speak or think without externally imposed restraints" claims one of the official sources. Sure, I accept it. It could even be usable, as far as I am concerned. It takes in the concept of freedom of speech and expression, the concept of freedom from aggression and the freedom to think and act, and even, if you combine everything, freedom of communication. Seems fair.

But wait. Aren't we missing something here? What about the 'freedom' to be free? What about the freedom to live peacefully? And what about the freedom to feel secure about your life?
Let's face it. We are living in a culture of fear. An environ where we all, as a collective, are scared and anxious of losing our own lives, going into war, losing people we love. Of course, it seems perfectly okay to rebutt that argument by saying it is a completely human emotion. Fear and anxiety are normal. You love them, and you are scared of losing them. Why bring "freedom" into this rather simple equation? Blaming the government, blaming the authority, is all seen as a sign of weakness. Worse still, you are labelled a conspiracy theorist. The assumptions that come with that phrase!
There's terrorism. There's racial strife. There's international aggression. And then there come the casualties. Which, almost always involves the aforementioned collective. There is always something, something that binds you. This fear that has been successfully instilled in us through ensuing propaganda is taking over our lives, whether we are aware of it or not. You leave home, and there is this nagging doubt at the back of your head. Am I going to return home tonight? Or am I going to be found in rubble, arms and legs amputated? When I return home tonight, am I going to meet all of my family or is bad news awaiting me? If my country does go into war tomorrow, will I have to be part of the troops? Is the war going to be against me? What if tomorrow, a mob decides to revenge against my community and then rapes and murders my entire family?
No, these are not abstract doubts, fears of one individual. There are too many people at stake here, too many people who cannot help but wonder about the hundreds of gory possibilities that await them.

If I ask you, is that being free, how would you react?

Seriously, when are we ever going to be allowed the freedom to be free from this slavery to fear?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Yes, Seema Goswami, you are right. I do so hope you were not, but as is the case with my rather uninteresting life, that would be wishful thinking!

For those who don't know and don't understand this rant, congratulations. You will, officially, live to be a hundred. In a world of disease, despair, conflicting hatred and the like.
Seema Goswami, columnist for Brunch, in her piece talked about how the only emotion we feel most is guilt. Could that be any truer?
Think about it. If I don't switch off that tube-light, I feel this nagging guilt, tugging at me, not letting me face myself. If I don't share that tiny little piece of chocolate, I feel like a glutton. Even if I were sleeping, I have to magically reply to texts and those very intrusive calls. No, God forbid that I not. If I don't ask the auto driver to drop me off somewhere convenient for 'him', I feel guilty, no matter how late I may be! If I ask my parent(s) for a favour, I feel terribly guilty. And if I don't get up to make that cup of tea, you guessed it, the guilt vanquishes me.
And that's really not all. Not even a fraction.
Honestly, when is it going to end? How long before I crumble before this stupid, very unnecessary emotion takes over my life and completely judges what I may or may not do?
I think it has already started to. Just the other day, I was smiling about how well guilt works as a driving force. I get up groggy, in the midst of the night, to turn a tap off. I try to finish my work before my deadlines. And I also try to squeeze in reading, in all that drama.
But you know what? That's not how I want it! I want my driving force to be, well, me. Not an emotion. Not something that is defined as " a cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person realises or believes—accurately or not—that they have violated a moral standard, and bear sole responsibility for that violation". And especially not when it is treated as a severe lifestyle "disorder".

So, can I have my life back?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Enough has been said on DGP Rathore. Most people get frustrated on the mere mention of his name. No, not because he abetted suicide of a young girl he molested. Not even because he tortured her eleven year old kid brother, or drove the family away from their own home. But because Rathore has gotten enough hype as it is. From him being on national TV news channels acting cocky to threatening the media to getting bail on the very paltry amount of time he was sentenced for. Yes, all of us condemn what he did, maybe even hate him.
But Utsav Sharma did more than just that. In the news today for stabbing Rathore in the face(thrice!) with a pen knife, I have nothing but respect for the 29 year old.
Yes, it sounds like our entire generation is disillusioned. But how long can you sit still? How can you sit by and tolerate a lecherous 'killer' on the loose? How long before you let off your steam?
Did Utsav do anything wrong? Yes. Were his methods probably contrived and impetuous? Of course. So why the respect? Because Utsav is proof that our youth isn't just a by-product of capitalism, feeding on what the government tells us. He is also not insane, or at least, not if you don't ask the police. A journalism student, currently studying in NID, Utsav probably knew what he was going to do.
Honestly, I am not someone who believes in taking justice into your own hands. But then again, can you blame someone for reacting like that if all that Rathore got for inflicting 20 years of torture on a family is 6 months?
Also, this fear, this sort of anger, is not about Rathore. Somewhere, it transcends and seeps into the entire judiciary of ours. Are we heading toward a 'one man for himself' sort of regime? Because if we are, someone should warn me. Screw democracy, screw justice, I am registering for a gun.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Writer's Block?

It occurred to me sometime back. I hadn't updated my 'blog' in over two months. It is weird, surely, for someone who loves writing as much as I do to not post anything for that long a time?
I sat down, thinking maybe I should write on issues that are really pertinent, something that I care about. Or even something which makes a blog a 'blog'. Short, crisp posts about my life. But I was(and still am) certain that nobody wants to know that bit. So then I thought of writing about fashion. And cars. And bikes. And cellphones(Oooh, cellphones). And books! Basically, I wanted to write. Something. Anything. Or maybe not.
So why didn't I? Of course, I had to take examinations during this time. But then again, I was free for an entire month after. Why not then? Was it writer's block, that mysterious element that authors/poets use to justify their lack in churning out fabulous writer? Even as I type this, it sounds ludicrous to my own ears. Author/Poet/Writer and me? Hah! Wishful thinking.
Maybe I was afraid of being judged. People seeing what I write, scoffing, and then very blatantly lying to me, "Oh, you do write well. I love your piece." Is that what I fear secretly? Of being judged? But I thought I was below all this! That I was too unimportant to matter. Am I secretly a narcissist? Oh God, that's it. I am a dark, brooding narcissist. Look at me go on and on about myself.
Or, maybe, just maybe, I am simply lazy. Yeah, that's instantly better! I am lazy, not a snob. Talk about lesser of the two evils.