Category Archives: thoughts

Thoughts on rereading The Sense of an Ending and waiting for the movie

Before reading

This year I am going back to The Sense of an Ending. I have never read it after I read it the first time because I didn’t own the book then. Years later, when I do own it, I still haven’t read it yet. A lovely paperback, I kept putting it off  and saying to myself that the timing wasn’t right. What was stopping me? Is it fear of failing the book or thinking it might not stand up to the first delirious experience or spoiling something untouched by revisiting it?

Anyway I’m rushing to finish it before I see the movie, that is, if it does release in the small town where I live.  The release date being pushed off multiple times isn’t a good sign. On the plus side (if it can be called that) there will be a gap between my rereading the book and watching the adaptation. (Update – After postponing the release date week after week, it finally didn’t release here.)

A little bit of history.

Circa 2012. We were at Oxford bookstore together one evening doing the usual – hunting books, catching up, not exactly carefree students because adulthood was rearing its ugly head, but we were less attuned to the ways of the world, and more dreamy, assured that like in books, things will work out for us. When we spotted the hauntingly beautiful book cover and read the title, we were sold. Also, The Sense of an Ending was thinner than most prize winners hence, much less likely to bore us to death. The hardback was a thing of beauty and my friend bought it. She immediately read it and passed it on to me. I read it even though final exams were knocking at my door. Needless to say, it was a great read.

Now you know why I have been putting it off. What if my expectations won’t do it any justice the second time around? It’s crunch time. Time to dive in. Five years later we will see where we stand and how good is my understanding of the book. And what new I can take from it.

After reading

Five years later it is both new and familiar at the same time, though at different places. There is more philosophy than I remember but the prose is sparkling. I might be biased here because I am a fan of his work and will probably read everything he writes. Each word packs a punch. The Sense of an Ending has to be read very slowly, and has to be read many times to understand everything. Even then something would remain beyond reach because Veronica’s character remains an enigma from start to finish. She keeps  mum instead of expressing what bothers her at any given point in time.

The Sense of an Ending teaches you to live with grey. It is something I have trouble coming to terms with, even today. All the characters are unlikable. This time around I observed that the tone of the book is unforgiving, to the point of being acerbic.

Continue reading Thoughts on rereading The Sense of an Ending and waiting for the movie

Thoughts on Nandhika Nambi’s Unbroken

 When I was asked to review Nandhika Nambi’s Unbroken, I jumped at the chance of reading a book from the perspective of a teenager who is in a wheelchair. I had seen how the lives of paraplegics are in the movie Guzaarish and the book Me Before You, but they weren’t narrating their own stories like Akriti does in Unbroken (and I have a soft spot for YA). The first person point of view has its limitations but here it is an advantage; we go straight into the heart of the matter.

Let me clear it from the outset. If you are expecting a story where everything works out in the end and Akriti miraculously recovers, then this is not the book for you. Her disability is permanent and she has to find a way to live with it.

Akriti is in 11th standard. She is sarcastic and spews out hate on the world unable to come to terms with her condition. She is mean and cruel, especially to people, who are sympathetic to her. She could have been a normal grumpy teenager but the inability to do the simplest of things for herself, and having to depend on others, makes her angry.

I hated taking people’s help.
 Akriti’s life is now divided into a before and after the accident where she lost the use of her legs. Life as she knew it was over. The sooner she accepts the reality and stops dwelling on the past, and focuses on getting the help she needs in the present, the better she will deal with the reality. Unbroken shows that to completely heal, you have to go inward and face your deepest fears.

Continue reading Thoughts on Nandhika Nambi’s Unbroken

Stillness

In life there are few moments when you experience a kind of stillness which changes something in you, a perceptible shift occurs. Without being aware of it the conscious has changed. I hadn’t recorded my experience in any form then. It was days later I thought about that dusk inching closer to an inky night, in the wee hours of the morning in another kind of stillness, of dawn breaking and banishing darkness. I can’t quite put my finger on what it was but feeling centered and belonging to the moment as it unfolded was a big part of it.

The winding village road was bereft of street lights. The stars looked so bright without light pollution that I wondered why we were crammed in the city. The path through green meadows where a lighthouse like light moved on both sides made it all the more surreal. I remember there was a waning moon and it looked ethereal. Was it my imagination or the quality of light was different than the one in the city?

I wonder what would travelling alone on a bike, moving with the wind and experiencing it with every fibre of my being feel like. I guess that is why people travel. To live out their unlived lives.

The moment was fleeting (aren’t moments like these always fleeting yet so much is contained in that moment) and even though I was surrounded by people it was as if no one existed. In the silence my mind was completely still. In these rare moments of stillness I feel something I can’t quite explain. Is it what feeling one with the universe and acutely being in the present moment feels like? I intend to find out.

Have you experienced such moments of stillness?

Reflections on reading The Wife’s Letter

Coming home to Tagore is always a revelation. I have probably owned this fine collection of short stories for over a decade now. My aunt had funded it when she saw me lurking in the aisle of the book corridor in Big Bazaar back when it still sold books, along with stationery. How little I must have understood of women’s plight and their predicaments, when I was a teenager if not a child, is dawning on me now. A great story is that which reveals itself anew whenever you pick it up to read. In short something which has repeat value. Tagore is a genius; every sentence has its place and importance in the narrative.

I never pick up Tagore lightly because I can never shrug off his words casually and carry on with my life pretending to be unaltered when the soul has registered change. Reading Tagore needs complete involvement of the brain and the heart, and I need to be on stable ground otherwise it would be tough to balance the emotions when I’m on uneven terrain. The emotions generated on reading the text will overwhelm me and teetering on the edge of a precipice isn’t good for my health.

Reading The Wife’s Letter I had to stop at a few sentences to completely understand them (I am not sure if it is brain fog or ageing in action) and compare it to the real world experience I have had in the last decade. My first hand experience might be very limited but observed or heard second hand experience is so much more. Women talk. Women share. Stories of friends, acquaintances, neighbours, stories from the media. A woman has empathy for all the women of the world (barring duplicitous mother-in-laws and conniving frenemies).

There is no doubt about that Tagore understood the female psyche and portrayed it in his writings better than any man could. I am really looking forward to reading another translation of Chokher Bali soon. Continue reading Reflections on reading The Wife’s Letter

When watching a movie alone isn’t what you bargained for

In the darkness of the movie theatre all my worries fade, the world falls back and fades to black. It’s just me and the story. Or is it?

Of late I have come into my own watching movies alone in the theatre, so I was surprised when I didn’t want to see Fitoor alone. I had asked a friend but she was busy, so here I was. I was embarrassed that I would look like some loser (we might be  losers but we surely don’t want to look like one) because it would be the Valentine’s weekend. The worst time on the planet to be alone, bombarded by mush from all sides (you can only escape it on the moon) and the marketing gimmicks are scaled up to such levels that sometimes I doubt it’s a conspiracy against singletons (Thank you Bridget Jones!). If there was ever a time to declare to the world that I am happy watching movies (romantic or otherwise) alone, then the time is now.

My friend cautioned me not to go see Fitoor on Friday as I am not too fond of crowds. It was a Friday and a holiday so a crowd was expected. On Saraswati Puja, instead of paying obeisance at the feet of the goddess of learning, how was I to know that people will rush to the theatres and bow down at the altar of entertainment.

1146 a.m. A burgeoning crowd outside and the door is yet to open. And here we were irritated because the lift opened at every floor (nobody got in seeing how many people were already crammed inside). I could almost hear the collective sigh of frustration.

1150 a.m. I am in my seat. None of my seat mates (I don’t know what else to call them) have arrived and I wished no one would but it was the first day and the last four rows are always in demand.

I’m not the only one who came alone to watch a romantic movie before the  V-day weekend and this fact fills me with glee. There’s a guy in the row in front of me, who’s sitting alone, nearly in the middle of the row. He will be squished by unknown people on both sides. An uncomfortable proposition. I always take the aisle seat so that one side is always empty. A guy came and sat in the seat next to me and he’s flying solo too. Continue reading When watching a movie alone isn’t what you bargained for

I am Alive

People forget and forget so easily. Faces. Names. Feelings. Memories. Everything. Where did it all go? You wonder if it ever really happened in the first place. Where are the keepsakes and the letters? Why don’t people think in what might have beens? Why don’t they hold on till their last breath? Why wasn’t there a last phone call? Why let it go all so easily as if it didn’t matter in the first place at all?  Is getting over things so damn easy?

The face in the picture fades. The once loved name ceases to matter. The name which you once worshipped becomes just another word that you know but will never use. The song brings back memories of the days gone by and nostalgia is now tinged with sadness.

Feelings are the worse part,they say. But if you can’t remember that heady feeling, the crest like highs and the bottomless lows, then yours is a heart or a machine, I ask?

Fond memories, warped memories, twisted memories and downright bad memories are all better than having no recollection whatsoever.

What’s the use if everything is so ephemeral, the rational mind harps? You think you have a second chance at everything but you never do. Life is harsh dear girl, get used to it. Shut up, I say.  I will listen to you when the time is right (read after I’m dead).

I know everyone is waiting with  bated breath for your dreams to shatter, they can enjoy the noise and think, yes we are better off with the practical approach to life. All the pain will be worth it. Now she, the naive whimsical idealistic dreamer will know real pain. Oh victory at last !

O capricious fate you will never win. Not over me. The last laugh may not be mine but it certainly won’t be yours, get it? I live, love , get hurt and go through a gamut of emotions but that doesn’t stop me from delving back in with full force, with all my optimism and enthusiasm. With all I have.  Jaded? Me? Never for long. Nothing lasts forever. My yo-yo like nature allows me to spring back from both walk-on-the-cloud-nine happiness and drown-yourself-in-the-drug-of-your-choice sadness. It can happen in an instant and can even take years but happen it will. I am the same old soul, nothing tarnishes me forever.

Who will know the value of dreams if they aren’t shattered? Like the rose tinted glasses I keep handy, it’s okay if they are lost. I will find myself a new one or may be go off without it and see what the fuss is all about.

Bon voyage.

Chokher Bali is much more than a grain of sand !

A Grain Of Sand by Rabindranath Tagore
 What can I say about the book? I’m speechless, spell bound and God knows what else. Also my mouth was wide open in surprise many times during the book, which is pretty much equivalent to my jaw dropping to the floor. How do I feel? Oh that is difficult to answer because what I feel can’t be expressed in words (cliched yes but the truth nonetheless). I was mesmerized by the prose, reeling from the doings of the characters in it and overall just stuck in the gap between old and new worlds. Did I just write that? I suppose I did. This is why I don’t write book, movie or music reviews because I don’t really review it in the true sense of the word rather put up my jumbled thoughts on the matter (which is never even clear to me then how can it be clear to anyone else). Also, I end up gushing or hating (depends) and not saying anything important about it. Anyways there are people far more qualified than me to review so let’s leave it to them.

The book has given me loads of food for thought. I think I will be ruminating on it for ages. It made me  think- are we really modern ? After seeing the treatment and the dissection of  the psyche of women by Tagore during that time I’m not too certain of anything now. I already knew that he had a fine understanding about how a woman thinks and feels, I had gathered that from reading his lovely short stories. As everyone knows he was far far ahead of his time (my goodness, I really can’t get over it). He can give every modern author a run for his money.

This novel has lies, deception and so called illicit relationships that borders on scandalous but somehow it all feels natural. It was a page turner and totally unpredictable. Riveting. The emotional turmoil and the ministrations of all characters was so deftly expressed.It was nothing like I have read before. I had read many short stories and a poem( Upagupta)which I loved but this was the first novel I read by Tagore and I want more. I wonder how will it  feel to read it in Bengali, lovely I suppose more lyrical and more meaningful and the context more understandable. Sheer genius! I am looking forward to the movie version. I hope they don’t ruin it.

Two words-read it.

Where’s the moon

 
Whenever I see the moon, especially the full moon I’m reminded of the poem Silver by Sir Walter de la Mare.  It was one of the early poems I remember reciting and loving. Mrs. Irene Kapoor( I. Kapoor miss to us), our English teacher had interpreted it so nicely.

I felt the poet in me stirring and  came up with this. I have decided I will post my poems however idiotic they might be. After all I have got only  this life to live, so I might as well live without any inhibitions. Better to be embarrassed and laughed at  than to live out my days as a coward. I might as well get on with it. Cheers !
 
The moon is full and bright,
I look at it wistfully
with dreams in my eyes.
 
I wish I could stare into the eyes of a loved one,
and see the moon light reflected in its shadowy depths.
 
The yellow moon with grey scars on its face,
vibrating and pulsating like a living thing,
reminding me of my heart pumping along for dear life.
 
Overflowing with feelings,
with joys and sorrows,
radiating and shining forth,
showing others silvery light,
itself burning bright.
 
Ah the moon’s bright tonight,
so bright it hurts my eyes.
Tears spring forth free and fast,
it’s so heartbreakingly beautiful,
 that I cry.

Stupid is as stupid does – Forrest Gump

OK so here I am. Back after ages ! It feels that way even though it hasn’t been quite that long (Theory of relativity anyone?). Either way does it really matter? It’s just enough that I’m back. So the question is what I have been doing with my time? I have two lovely excuses- one, I was ill. Two, I was depressed because of it, which, literally made me unfit of even thinking coherently. Though that’s stretching it a bit (I am not known as a drama queen without reason but that’s also where I get my sensitivity from and also microanalysing stuff!) it’s the honest truth. I can hear my friends scream psychosomatic disorder because of the things going on in the department which I admit was a blow to my self esteem and ego. It doesn’t help one bit when one feels useless on top being close to being an invalid(that’s an exaggeration). There’s no use talking about dignity, not now at least. One thing I do have is a clear conscience. Ergo, sleeping isn’t a problem , which is a relief.

I have been ill for quite a while now. Should I say I am on the path to recovery? Hell no, I don’t want to jinx myself. Oh laugh all you can. I never believed that either but the words have a strange way of getting right back at you, so in this fragile state I am not going to risk it. Although I’m no stranger to chronic illnesses one never does get quite used to it, the tragedy and the monotony of it.  I really wish I could put “it” at the back of my mind (like it’s nothing but a walk in the park with some lovely shoes on to protect my feet) and live unchanged, unscathed by battle scars so timidly fought. I so wish I had been gallant but don’t expect knightly behaviour from me, not when I am at my lowest ebb (really lousy explanation I know). Every little thing changes you and shapes you into being who you are and the process is never-ending and compelling and directional. You learn, you live and you grow and that’s that.

 Illness compels me to think more deeply than usual and I tend to get philosophical (more than the usual craziness). All the big questions start haunting(or is it hunting) me (since I can’t employ my usual devices and run away) and I almost suffocate with the need to answer them. This time it’s time, the final time to GROW UP. There won’t be another call. Either I’m on it fully or dangling off the edges, holding on for dear life or the plane leaves without me. Childhood has long passed and so have the teenage years. And I’m about to be done with university and step into the REAL WORLD (as people keep reminding me every single day). Gee am I that dumb and naïve? Seems that is what most people think( I wish I could care a flying fig about what they thought about me). Yes I’m stupid (at least the blog title is justified now).

What are the questions ,you ask? Nothing, just basic stuff.How far have I come? What have I achieved? What is my contribution to the world? Am I good at something?  What is the meaning of my life? What is my role? What does it all mean? Where does it all lead ,if it leads anywhere in the first place?  What is the connecting link? Is this supposed to make sense in the end, all the strings tied up neatly and knots removed?
I did try to write but who the hell wants to read all this, a mass of jumbled intangible thoughts? Hence, no post for months and add to that I have taken to meandering more than is usual (read acceptable). I start somewhere and end up completely different and in between touch some points which become the fodder of many other independent posts (or so I would like to believe so please humour me). So in the end there’s a lot of mish- mash and I end up not that satisfied with “the treatment of the matter and the way it is presented” and so it stays ( read languishes )in the drafts folder and pending till I decide it should be worked upon so that it sees the light of the day, which it seldom does.
Doesn’t make any sense, does it?
P.S. The drafts folder is overflowing so I have taken up the gargantuan and arduous task of emptying it in this life time. Alas, readers bear with me.
P.P.S.- If you don’t already know, the quote “stupid is as stupid does” is from Forrest Gump.

Mind Nebula

I am a wanderer
without moving an inch.
An arm chair adventurer
my mind the best mode of transport,
transporting me into fantasy lands or into different realms altogether.
Ceaseless thoughts,
the mind a nebula.
Thoughts born anew,many zillion a minute.
Flitting past each other never going beyond the mind’s narrow gate.
Breaking free towards a new path
a new vision envisioned.
New light shed on the black path
things born anew.
Moving towards a transcendental experience
beyond mind’s narrow thoughts.
Soaring into the world and being one with it.
Everything in tandem shutting out the chaos.
Peace and Orderliness restored.



This was posted around a year back in the writing  section of Goodreads,in fact my first poem which people have read.Why did I post it here?Nothing really justifiable,I just wanted to start April on a good note.Of late I have been feeling really hopeless and nothing good is coming out of my pen.So I’m going back into flashback mode hoping to be inspired.