Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Middles.

You're searching
For things that don't exist, I mean beginnings.
Ends and beginnings - there are no such things.
There are only middles.

-Frost.



Monday, May 30, 2011

The man who mistook his wife for a hat - Oliver Sacks

Interesting read. For one thing, the area of neurology is something I find completely fascinating, and this book covers a lot of ground in terms of case studies covering various diseases/ syndromes which actually give a tantalising glimpse into what could be the miracle called the brain.

What gives us individuality? What makes me uniquely me ? How are my memories stored ? How do I process them? What gives me my 'perspective' ?

Some of these questions had come up in 'phantoms in the brain' which I'd read some time back.  In terms of writing, I found this one rather harder to read, what with its constant forays into religiousity and abstract humanity et al. However the way that he has captured the essense of each of the cases is just awe inspiring.

What if your body is functioning fine, but your brain little connector breaks off - what if you can't recognise your hand anymore? What if you can't form new memories any more ( yes rather better known thanks to 50 first dates, memento etc). What if you couldn't recognise tones / inflexions, if the words were all you recognised?

As the realisation of the possibility of these deficits builds up, the next section covers excesses. Rather than an ability being lost, what if you gained an excess of one? What if your sense of smell suddenly became as acute as a dogs?( an actual case) What if you could remember each day of your life, every moment, in complete clarity? ( another case).

Its the sort of thing, that leaves you pondering for quite a while. What exactly goes on in that little brain of ours??

 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Kung Fu Panda - 2

Cute, but I think I'm beginning to get out of the animation movies fan club.

Not that I didn't like the movie, yes its visuals are awesome, it has its funny moments, and the panda and party are cute(sy), but there was something missing.

anyway, maybe i'll watch a few more of them before i sign out of the animation movie fan club !

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Thought for the day.

बेनाम सा यह दर्द ठहर क्यों नहीं जाता
जो बीत गया है वोह गुज़र क्यों नहीं जाता

- निदा फाजली

The newspaper today, unexpectedly with an article on poetry, gave pause to think. Loosely translated

This nameless pain, why doesn't it pause
that which is past, why doesn't it pass ..

Friday, May 27, 2011

Serious Men - Manu Joseph

Quite loved this one. 

Its a story of someone working in a science institute, set in Bombay. Only the person is not a scientist, but a pa. So what does an intelligent, lower caste, uneducated man living in Bombay do with his life? What does he do, as he sees, and thanks to his intelligence, understands, the circumstances of his life? Of the child and wife rusting away in one of the numerous nameless chawals? As he sees the meritocracy of the higher castes, in full bloom at the institute? What does he do indeed? Not many earth shattering things, but its the little things he does, which makes the tale unputdownable. 

Its a wittyly, thoughtfully written story, covering a broad canvas, and yet not biting away more than it can chew.

Must read.


Connect the dots - Rashmi Bansal

decent read.

Its a collection of interviews with young entrepreneurs in India, most of whom are people who started ventures they might not have even 'planned' for as such. At least not the sort of calculated sort of opening a company that some of us are more familiar with. All of these people are ones without an MBA degree, sometimes without any degree as such, but they've often chalked new unexpected and often inspiring courses.

In terms of writing, I'd say its average, no exceptional insights or turns of phrase. However just bringing together these stories, in the sort of easy to read , accessible format is pretty good. And needless to say - inspiring !

Monday, May 23, 2011

Thought for the day.

Its a day to ponder over the remains of the weekend. And of gone with the wind, which I read when I was in 8th , but some lines from Rhett still leap up clearly.

Death by a thousand blows

How much pressure can a person stand? Specially when you add a divine injunction to your pressure?

It was a sad morning today, when I realised that the opressive islamic right, had finally gotten through to someone. So another one bites the dust in the godforsaken burka debate. You keep hacking away, hacking away, and finally one day, bring out all the stops, until finally you win. And then you claim free will, and ( the final coup the grace), actually convince her that its free will as well.

There are few things as hateful as the idea of covering up a woman, to keep her 'safe'. And my flesh crawls at the thought, that we live in a world, where some of us, would actually be put into a mental state, where we'd wear a burka, and actually think that it makes us pious and safe.

Its a sad sad day.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Discovery of india - Jawaharlal Nehru

Quite a fascinating and interesting read.

It covers the 'history' of india over the millenia, and the pages are effused with Nehru's own insight and a conversational style of writing. It covers a lot of ground, going over not just the political powers, but also over the nature of society, its various influences, religious, artistics, cultural.

Although the beginning tends to be a drag, it still a pretty rewarding book, if you stick with it.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Kings speech

Good well crafted movie.

A prince has a stammer. What could be a minor irritant, for his position, becomes a major hurdle. And then, his public speaking becomes even more important, after he becomes king. But he also finds someone along the way who seems to be able to help.

Highly recommended, just as an example of what the art of movie making, can do for what seems essentially a straightforward piece.

Thought for the day

दिल की गिरह खोल दो चुप न बैठो कोई गीत गाओ
महफ़िल में अब कौन है अजनबी तुम मेरे पास आओ..

मिलने दो अब दिल से दिल को , मिटने दो मजबूरियों को
शीशे में अपने डुबो दो, सब फासलों दूरियों को
आँखों में मैं मुस्कुराओं तुम्हारी, जो तुम मुस्कुराओ..

महफ़िल में अब कौन है अजनबी..

हम तुम न हम तुम रहे अब, कुछ और ही हो गए अब
सपनों के झिलमिल नगर में, जाने कहाँ खो गए अब,
हमराह पूछे किसी से न तुम अपनी मंजिल बताओ..

महफ़िल में अब कौन है अजनबी..

कल हमसे पूछे न कोई, क्या हो गया था तुम्हे कल,
मुड़ कर नहीं देखते हम, दिल ने कहा है चला चल,
जो दूर पूछे कहीं रह गए अब उन्हें मत बुलाओ..

महफ़िल में अब कौन है अजनबी..

it just transports me right back to those days in school, those heartbreaks and make ups. Just seems like yesterday that we were dissecting the dynamics of possible relationships, over endless class breaks, between weekly tests, between moments sneaked from play rehearsals, in bunked classes hiding near the rooftop.

Seems just like yesterday, maybe it was. Because the more things change, the more they remain the same. And now, there are no more strangers, not in my mirror, not in hers.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Known Turf - Annie Zaidi

Mixed bag overall.

I've loved her style of writing ever since I stumbled on the blog many years ago, and that lyrical style is visible throughout.  but in this particular book, I'd say the content was a bit of a mish mash and disappointment. To some extent that happens when essays are woven together into a book, and even more so, when some of the
topics really seemed to drag.

Two pieces that I loved, were the ones on tea, and the one on women.

Can't say I recommend the book, somehow the blog seems better.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Shor in the city - Raj Nidimoru and Krishna D.K.

Quite enjoyed this one.

Began on a slightly slowish note, but picked up and got quite engrossing.

It has a few parallel stories going on, a group of 3 friends, small time crooks. And there's the side angle - one of the crooks is newly married. An NRI who's returned to india, and is trying to start a business here, and what that can entail. (aside - Sendhil - drool drool. sigh. ). An aspiring cricketer, but he's also got a girlfriend. And thats another tale. With so many things going, the movie still manages to keep an even pace, and doesn't lose itself.

So why did I like the movie? The humour for one. And those subtle scenes, specially between the husband and wife. The pace and the story. And also the ending, as it teeters between the facile to the dramatic, but finally just ends, quite nicely.

Overall, rather rewarding.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Unbound : Indian Women @ Work - Gita Aravamudan

A rather disappointing read.

It goes over the stories and issues of the working women of india, but fails to present either the stories in an interesting light, or provide a thought provoking insight/analysis of the issues at hand.

If it wasn't for the fact that I see a little of myself in many of them, I'd never have been able to read it through to the end.

Plus perhaps I've grown rather despondent about the whole issue. Yes things have changed, many for the better, but still chance remarks by people, most of whom I consider close friends ( men and women), still make me cry hot tears of rage and disappointment when I realise that there's not going to be no equality. None at all. Forget in actions, not even in thoughts.

But then, this is the world we live in. And there's no god. Deal with it.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Rashomon - Akira Kurosawa

Good movie, as movies go, and a fascinating topic by itself. 

A passerby takes shelter at a ruin during a heavy thunderstorm, and there he finds a priest and a woodcutter discussing a very strange murder case at which they just gave testimony. A samurai has been murdered, a bandit caught for it. Apart from these two, the Samurai's wife and the woodcutter who found the body, form the set of four people whose widely varying accounts of the incident, make the case quite puzzling to say the least. 

Was there indeed a final truth ? In a way thats irrelevant. Whats far more interesting , are the interpretations that come up from the people. Sometimes people could be lying outright, for various motives, and there's plenty of that in the the movie. At other times, and this makes it even more fascinating, is the nature of memory itself. Its not a factual , set in stone thing, its colored , and hugely altered by so many things: perception, motivation, setting. And every time one accesses a memory, it doesn't necessarily remain the same. ( Classic example, the increasing confidence of the eye witnesses, as they are coached by police lawyers etc This is all scientifically proven stuff, not some wishy washy armchair theory)  Even more fascinating were the experiments about planting fake memories, nicely shown in Waltz with Bashir. The whole thing was brought even more starkly in perspective, as an incident at work, showed at least one classic case of 2 people giving widely varying accounts of an incident, with perhaps both of them convinced of the veracity of their version. 

Anyway, overall a good watch, even if parts of it are a bit slow, by modern fast and furious viewing standards.





Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Misery - Stephen King

Like the previous Stephen King, it was polished off rapidly ( in a day to be precise)

Decent read. Although the setting is rather gruesome to say the least, his command over story - telling is tremendous.

An author wakes up to find himself badly injured and being nursed by his 'number one fan'. But is she really nursing him? You realise pretty soon, that he's almost her prisoner, and she doesn't seem very well balanced. So how does one spin out the whole story out of just 2 characters, stuck in one house? Thats King for you.

Readable if you're not queasy.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Of this and that..

Been a while since I've posted, as books and movies have come and gone, and I've just been lazing around. Life's reached a sort of auto pilot mode, where hardly anything seems to really matter any more, the laughter seems the usual, and so do the tears, and both seem almost facile. Anyway, the blog being about second chances, I'll attempt to pick up the pieces again.

The question for today, that I'm pondering over - Does brilliance at your job excuse you from the norms of civil behaviour? How about legal behaviour? If you are a music maestro, is it ok spit paan in public? When an average person looks at the stain, do they look at them through rose tinted glasses - ah but what lovely music he plays, lets overlook this, lets not antagonise him. And what when its not a paan stain, but someone's emotional life you play with, do you still get a bigger leeway?

I remember those arguments in rape cases, which said it doesn't matter if the victim was promiscuous, and it doesn't matter if the perpetrator was a respectable member of society ( probably good at doing whatever he did and thus making money). Justice has to be blind. You look at the facts, and you decide.

Thats good for movies, and thats good for aspiration, but in real life, we don't work that way, do we? We make excuses, both ways - heavily. Even when we aren't really going to benefit, one way or the other, from the brilliant fellow, who's obviously doing something thats not on par. Still, there's that inherent fascination with brilliance, perhaps somewhere we fill, it'll do more good to society as a whole. The poor person at the receiving end, they don't really matter.

Yes, there's the ethical / philosophical debate, on how we still need to strive towards being impartial. But I realised today, what an uphill task it really is.