We remember things but forget the minutiae, and sometimes even the most traumatic of experiences. Humans are adept in the art of self preservation hence we have colonized the earth (or so we think until a virus comes along and makes us question everything we knew). We move on with our lives for better or worse but try not to forget the things that really matter. Making sense of things is more important than moving on. Honestly, I have never really understood what moving on meant and with life passing me by and time galloping away, I’m not even going to try.
I lost a friend recently. Many people lost their loved ones this year, (it’s the season of loss) and we have our own ways of coping. But what do you do in case of an online friend? I talked to other online friends who knew her but I still felt bereft. This person was someone whose strength and innate goodness I had admired, so it hit me particularly hard even though we had never met in person. I haven’t seen her handwriting or heard her voice but I knew her. In unguarded moments we shared the story of our lives as it really was, in all its ugliness. We had a connection, and battled some of the same issues. Now I’m here and she’s not. Life isn’t fair. I know that by now, but it still doesn’t feel any less painful or make its acceptance easy.
We wander around life thinking we have forever but our days are numbered and the countdown begins the moment we are born. But how many of us how truly understand the nature of time? Now a person is there, now gone. Some things we understand only in hindsight; when we can’t do anything about it but lament. The things we don’t do for others keeps on playing into the regrets of our life stories. Whenever someone dies I am filled with regrets about the things I could have done but didn’t do. But I have realised to live and feel deeply, is to live with regrets.
This year has been hard for so many of us for a multitude of reasons. It made me realize you can’t just hope to exist and live this life coasting by doing the bare minimum, not if you want to live. Survive. Live. Thrive. One step at a time. Survival is something one has to want, and give one’s whole self to (heart and brain working in tandem), and that means dwelling in the past is out of question. We know that bringing our A game is something we need to do but it doesn’t mean we always do. Gentle reminder to self going forth into the new year to look at things differently, in a solution oriented manner, and focusing on the positive however bleak the circumstances might be. Broken I might be in places, but I’m still alive.
I loved Newton so much I hoped it would be a series. I forced myself to go see it because I was unwell. I chose well because I came home invigorated albeit with a headache thanks to the blinding September sun. What times those were, solo movie outings in half empty theatres.
The writing is brilliant. We see the ground reality but the narrative is peppered with laughs drawing out maximum humour, mining it from unlikely places due to astute observations, proper research, and of course the incredible cast. It’s a treat to watch excellent actors play off each other. Watching Pankaj Tripathi’s interview today where he got asked about a scene from Newton I realized I hadn’t done what I had promised myself once I saw the film, I’d tell everyone to see it on a streaming platform. So here I am three years later!
Pankaj Tripathi is a class act injecting life into his part, and I will be watching this movie again for him alone. He was one of the best things for me in Bareilly ki Barfi apart from Seema Pahwa of course. Rajkumar Rao is spellbinding as Newton. We see the world through Newton’s eyes but the film is balanced with varied viewpoints which is a rare thing. One is the local Malko played by Anjali Patil (who was spectacular in Afsos) who has grown up seeing these “elections” so it doesn’t surprise her. And the other by Tripathi whose posting in Naxal infested areas have hardened him or perhaps made him more practical. He isn’t going to be taught about rules nor is he going to run a fool’s errand. Newton allows us to make up our minds, and doesn’t try to tell us what’s right or wrong.
I have come to believe that stellar actors can make any role their own. If this is not star power I don’t know what is, getting under the skin of the characters, making them believable, and not caricatures which Malko could so easily have been. And it doesn’t laugh at Newton. It shows us Newton as he is but doesn’t tell us why he’s the way he is. This is the rare film which doesn’t spoon-feed the audience or try to do their thinking for them. Continue reading “Newton by Amit Masurkar”→
What are the odds of me peeling an orange at the exact time as Simon Baker is peeling one in The Mentalist? It’s a pity I have never broken off an orange or for that matter an apple from a branch and eaten it (another one for my bucket list). You can call it a coincidence but looking at it as a matter of chance takes the magic out of life and makes the words serendipity or happenstance (if you prefer) redundant. I understand that sometimes you have to let go of fanciful notions and think practically. What. I didn’t get to be three decades old without knowing something about how the world functions.
It wouldn’t do to complicate life by overthinking I have realized. (Turtles All The Way Down was a great help in this regard, thank you John Green). As a bookish reflective sort I have a tendency to brood and try to figure things out (read stew in it) when it should be left to life to sort out the mess.
And here I see Patrick enjoying an orange plucked straight from the tree after knowing something terrible. Don’t dismiss it by saying it’s fiction. There are people who feel deeply but don’t shed tears. I knew such a person. They internalize their grief and hide their disappointments from the world. They deal with it on their own.
There’s always a reason to smile and many reasons to live for, that is if you look at life the glass half full way (sometimes it pays to be an optimist) and not in the pessimistic glass half empty manner. I need to keep reminding myself of that.
Miss me? Not really is the short answer. For the long answer read below.
I do but I don’t want to deal with all the things that follow in your wake. It’s a chore and like blizzards always intense. Why is it never sunny? It was a deadly winter and I need to survive.
Why so many lies or omissions of truth, in your words? Why promises that you won’t keep and had never intended to keep in the first place, made only for the sake of making yourself look good?
I catch myself thinking you would like Inspector Montalbano or tell you that I found peace in volunteering. I wanted to tell you the person who loved me most in the world was dying and ask you what the right thing to do was. But I could never get past how formal and cold we had become. And you had never shown any interest before in spite of knowing the circumstances. So I absolve myself from all guilt.
It doesn’t matter now because I have seen through you. Perhaps there is a price you pay for being naive stupid. Believing you was my Achilles heel. The amazing thing is the disbelief because I am not usually the kind of person who gets caught up in this kind of drama. You proved me wrong yet again and my only consolation is for everything in life there is a first time (and hopefully a last time).
Why is there never a straight answer but only roundabout clues? It’s a maze I am tired of navigating and red herrings I am tired of dodging. You probably think people have a lot of time on their hands to brood over things. Let me correct you. They don’t. Survival takes precedence. Wading through your mess without complaining, I laugh to myself thinking about it now. Didn’t anyone tell you I don’t even like getting my feet wet and here I am drowning. I don’t even know how I got here. Oh wait you knew I disliked it yet continued to pour water saying it will quench my thirst.
What’s the use of saying pretty please, listen to me? What will I do with it, you selfish pig? Once someone tells you truth, instead of acknowledging it, you wave it aside and walk away only to come back to stomp on their hearts later. I wish you would vanish into the unknown never to be seen. Wait, that’s not completely true. In this age of social media I check if you are alive by stalking you online like normal people.
Writing letters was quite common during my grandparents time when telephones weren’t ubiquitous and very few households had it. They wrote letters to each other to apprise each other of the happenings in their lives. They speak very fondly of those days, of waiting for a letter. They didn’t see each other for months and it was letters that connected them to each other, bridging the distance effortlessly. Look at us with our smartphones, connected on multiple platforms but still there’s something missing. In saying too much too often we are perhaps missing the point.
We are surrounded by words, we use words to connect with others on social media and on the phone. How many people write letters (=epistles) or for that matter long emails in the age of WhatsApps, which is the opposite of instant and needs some time to be responded to. Letters are the epitome of personal. There’s something about the act of writing letters that makes me feel like I’m not a part of this dog-eat-dog world or that I belong to a different time than the one I am living in (my sister says it’s a way of keeping illusions intact and delaying it being shattered by the real world).
Somehow a letter seems less intrusive but more revealing (if you know what I mean you have penpals) than a conversation when you only know the person online. It gives us the liberty to shape and build a narrative we want to present (quite like the image we create on social media) while being true to the self. Online or offline we are always telling our life stories. Also, there is the romance of it, how a letter feels in your hand. It is far more real than an email could ever be. Internet offers us many chances of finding like-minded people and connecting with them but texts can never be as personal as a letter.
The people I write to and who write to me, we have formed a unique bond that surprisingly goes beyond words. Even if communication happens via other channels the letters remain special.
Seeing the handwriting of someone you have never met is very personal but nobody thinks about it because of the way things have always been. Handwriting is a practical tool to write answers and get marks.
Writing to someone you have never met in real life teaches you to have faith beyond what you see. Pen pals or email pals allow us to escape the tedium of reality without completely endangering ourselves. We think the person on the other side of the table can’t really hurt us. Apparently this is both naïve and idiotic. It can be foolhardy and dangerous if the person on the other side isn’t honest about who he or she is. And finding out later is nothing short of betrayal. Count yourself lucky if it doesn’t result in heartbreak.
Do people write letters in this day and age? They are dying tribe but they do exist. A lot of trust, patience and faith in the universe is required to sustain this habit. In life we get hurt. Our trust is destroyed by people who call themselves our friends (or acquaintances). So how do we sustain such a connection with so many unknowable variables? Is it by believing in the persona created by words but nothing to corroborate the fact in real life? Or something else? It works because we want to make it work and believe what the person on the other side says is true. Other than that, getting letters in the post is a feeling which cannot be described in words.
Did you have a pen pal? What has been your experience like?
Unexpected intrusions of beauty. That is what life is. – Saul Bellow
There are no words to express the way you feel when you hold the hand of an eleven year old, let her take charge and be your guide. For a few moments I felt like the schoolgirl I had once been, carefree, innocent and oblivious to what the world looked like to grownups. I thought I had left that self far behind but it was hiding in the open underneath the veneer of adulthood. I desperately hope (in spite of knowing that it will) growing up doesn’t rob her of her curiosity.
This child was knowledgeable about the technicalities of photography and that impressed me, I am still an amateur photographer years after professing interest in photography as a hobby. There lies the difference. It is more than a hobby for her. She is passionate about it.
I took to her immediately. Our vibes matched. It would appear strange when I say that because I am a world weary adult (even though I cringe while saying it) and she’s a bright kid. My inner child connected with her and perhaps in her I could see a glimpse of the happy-go-lucky child I used to be.
I have always connected well with children. At the same time, I have been told by my older friends that I am far too mature for my age. I am an old soul with a young heart. And only with a Gemini it won’t be a conundrum.
She was cheerful, restless and bubbling with enthusiasm like children are. It was something I could not have asked for but got in spades interacting with her that day. I was not supposed to meet her but she had come with my friend and how funny it was her that made my day.
The same night I found a book I had been looking for ages, Oliver Jeffers’ The Heart and the Bottle. I don’t have to tell you that the illustrations are beautiful because it’s a book by Oliver Jeffers. Spoilers ahead. It talks about a girl shutting herself away from the world because something bad happened to her. To live and to just exist are two different things. She allowed grief to overwhelm her and forgot to live until a little girl shows her what she was missing, just by being herself, full of life and not being afraid of the future (the great unknown for most of us unless you are a seer). I was that little girl but I don’t want to be that adult. Finding the way to yourself, and discovering who you are, isn’t that the purpose of life?
Life mirrors art. Art mirrors life. And we continue to live on trying to find meaning in the things we do.
Yesterday I read an insightful interview about Oliver Jeffers’ new book Here We Are which comes out today. The cover looks stunning and I cannot wait to read it.
Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares is an epistolary novel co-authored by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. Their earlier collaborations include Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Naomi and Eli’s No Kiss List, which caters to teens, just like this one. The cover was appealing but a bit too cutesy for its own good. Heart shaped snowflakes really? But don’t let it deceive you. It is not just a Christmas romance though it is set during Christmas in Manhattan, when there is snow in the air and good cheer.
It is alternatively narrated by Lily (written by Rachel Cohn) and Dash (written by David Levithan). Dash and Lily write dares and thoughts in a red Moleskine notebook which Dash finds next to Lily’s favourite author (which also happens to be his) while perusing through the books in Strand Book Store (yes the one and only). The idea was devised by Langston (named after Langston Hughes), Lily’s older brother so that she finds someone to share her Christmas excitement with (she loves Christmas like only children can and she is not a child so that does make it a little odd) as he will be busy with his boyfriend and their parents will be out of town.
Lily is a shy teenager, good at football and overprotected by her family. She does not fit in and has no friends at school though her lovable extended family more than make up for it. Her cousin Mark and Great Aunt Ida make for great secondary characters and play a significant role in safeguarding the notebook.
Lily’s notebook is picked up by Dash who hates the idea of Christmas. He is an introvert and comfortable in his own company. A child of divorce, he’s used to taking care of himself and guards his solitude fiercely. Dash’s best friend Boomer, is overexcited and overeager (for his age) not unlike a toddler on a sugar rush providing us with many funny moments. I thought theirs would be an unlikely friendship but they complement each other well. Yin and Yang.
Through impossible dares Dash and Lily accept, designed to push themselves out of their comfort zones, they see new sides to themselves. They grow together and confide their innermost longings to each other in a notebook. Sharing a common ground with an anonymous if not nameless but faceless stranger can be a powerful connection. Would it have been better (read more acceptable) if they had done it face to face or had it been a conversation on the phone? It isn’t the mode of communication that matters but the connection. Or is it just plain idiocy trusting someone’s words, someone whom you have never seen or met, in this age of dishonesty? It’s Kali Yuga after all.
Here the the barriers in real everyday life appear to dissolve and the playing field is vast. I mean anyone could have picked up that notebook. It goes on to show how we box ourselves and allow others to pigeonhole us, put labels, when we can go beyond it and be so much more alive.
Lily and Dash are book nerds hence the usage of words isn’t what would constitute normal teenage banter. Nevertheless the writing is contemporary although you might feel out of your element (read bored) if you don’t share their love for words. Take a look at these lines:
“I particularly loved the adjective bookish, which I found other people used about as often as ramrod or chum or teetotaler.”
“I was horribly bookish, to the point of coming right out and saying it, which I knew was not socially acceptable.”
“We all just took the bookstore at its word, because if you couldn’t trust a bookstore, what could you trust?
Uh umm I know it’s not very apt or polite. I dare say me even giving this a second thought, it’s her influence!!!! Otherwise who cares to be grammatically correct and use just the correct word for every little situation, duh not me! Anyway what else should I address you guys as??? And should it even be plural?
And who is this you ask? Pssst. It’s me her super cool sister 😀 She has mentioned me quite a few times, so y’all should be familiar with me, I suppose (looks around expectantly for applause). Let’s get on with it, shall we…
An obvious observation-I dare say nobody reads her precious blog, why else would it wear such a desolate look, eh? But the background is blue and its sparse and without frills. It’s her alright.
Now to the topic. I can’t believe its Tuesday already. I can break out into a song and dance routine right now(totally spontaneous and unrehearsed but fab all the same =)). But I’d better not lest the fat cat wake up and raise hell!! Lately I have taken to calling her troll and it irritates the shit out of her. Nowadays she’s being called MANTAL Boy (Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara anyone?). Evil laugh!!!
Three more days till Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part-2 releases in cinemas. I can barely contain myself. No point in asking me if I’m a die hard HP fan cos there’s no doubt about that I.AM.NOT.A FAN. But I don’t hate the books, they were good but nothing life changing. Maybe it might have been different for me if I had read it the way my sister did and not in the span of a couple of weeks. I just read it because all the guys in my class had read it (peer pressure I tell you, makes you do the strangest things) and the books were already there, courtesy my sister.