Thursday, September 18, 2008

Carnival of Rust

“Everyone is not as strong as you are, Anu.”

My best friend said this to me two years ago when I was at a very low point in life. At the time, it had felt like a slap in the face from the tone he had assumed. It had felt as if he were trying to imply that being strong was bad. Two years later, I realize it is.

It is not the weak ones that people hurt. They think a million times before doing unfavourable things to these people because they are not sure how it will be received and in the heart of hearts none of us wants to be responsible for anyone else’s misery. So the softies, the whiners, the cry-babies always have it easier.

It is the strong ones that bear the brunt. Primarily because I think they have the ability to bear the pain. Have you ever seen a donkey being used to haul tree trunks? That kind of work is always reserved for the elephants…because only they can handle it. It is a fair distribution of load based on who can take how much.

So all the eccentrics and the eccentricities of life fall in the share of the strong ones. Because only they can handle it. They have the ability to make a sacrifice and live with it. They also have the ability to speak for themselves at the risk of appearing arrogant & bull-headed and live with that too. They have the ability to go through a great deal of pain before it starts to break their spirit and hence they get all the dirt life can throw. It is almost a punishment for being strong.

“I have known you as very strong, lady”.

When these words were uttered to me, the hope was that my regression to life as I had known it earlier will be handled well. After all, I was strong. So, because one is strong, people will say the nastiest things and know that you will just buy band-aid for your heart and carry on, they will make living hell out of your life and hope that you will stick around because your strength of material is high, or they will just walk out on you and not even look back because they are certain that you will survive even that. You are, after all, strong.

Sometimes we call such people the iron men, the iron women. The ones whose spirits are unbreakable. The ones who believe in the eternal goodness of life and people even after meeting embodiments of exceptions. The ones whose will is so strong that life has to engage in a duel to see who breaks first. It is not that life does not pull them down. But they never stay there. They resurface with vengeance. And the combat continues…

I perceive only one problem with being made of iron. The short time when life does overwhelm you and you are down in the dumps is the time when tears flow freely. They cleanse the soul…but they they are not very good for the iron spirit…you see water and iron have never had a good relationship. And that is when the spirit starts to rust. At the edges, around the corners, sometimes at the core…it starts to eat in and make you weak. So that when life makes the next assault you are less capable of bearing it.

Even so, I refuse to let life take me down. I know one day it will be ashes to ashes, dust to dust…rust to rust. But before that happens, I will take this iron spirit, the foremost element of fabrication used to build from weapons to the wheels that keep this world turning, and fabricate what it takes to make a carnival out of my life.

I will make a merry-go-round and spin my dreams on it. I will make a giant wheel for my life…going up and down. I will make a roller coaster for what life has been so far and get dizzy riding the memories…

And even when they are rusting, I will ensure I have the ride of a lifetime everytime I climb any one of those. Even if I die fighting life for getting what I rightfully deserve, I will die having fun. In fact, after one of my favourite song from my favourite band, I think I will call my life...the Carnival of Rust.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Triple Treat

Prologue: We had to work on one of the weekends last month for a production run and were entitled to two days of compensatory off for the same. I decided to take this compensatory off yesterday and today.

I saw three movies back to back yesterday and had one of the most fun days of my life! I have never enjoyed going to the movies better…

The three chosen ones were Kung-Fu Panda, A Wednesday and Rock On. And here are my thoughts…

Kung-Fu Panda: ****

This is an animation film that I saw a tad late. It had been recommended by quite a few friends and yesterday I decided to honour those recommendations. And I wasn’t disappointed at all.

The film is set in China and revolves around the search for a Dragon Warrior. Po, the Panda is chosen by a wise old Kung Fu master by the name of Uguay but Po is everything a Kung-Fu warrior is not – fat, clumsy, sloppy and gluttonous. But he eventually manages to get trained in Kung-Fu and set out to fulfill his destiny as a dragon warrior. The key message of the movie is delivered through a Dragon Scroll – to be read only by the Dragon Warrior, but which turns out to be blank…there is no secret ingredient that makes any of us special except for the belief that we are special. I loved the way that was delivered.

The animation in the movie is good (as is the case with most animated movies from the West) and the parts involving the super-fast Kung-Fu moves have been done especially well. I just think that the protagonist Po could have been much cuter…he wasn’t Panda-level cute. I liked Uguay the turtle much better…old, wise and toothless J . He is who you need to listen to for all the gyaan that the film has to offer.

All in all, a fun movie with a nice story and a good message delivered effectively. Definitely recommended (for the late-lateefs like me).

A Wednesday: *****

I am not going to give out any parts of the movie save for the following facts:
  1. The movie is just 1 and ½ hours long.
  2. It is a must-watch for the stalwarts Naseeruddin Shah and Anupama Kher, both delivering delightful performances as always.
  3. Jimmy Shergill’s performance in this movie is much better than most of his others. Definitely worth watching out for.
  4. There will hardly be any point during the movie when you’ll not be at the edge of your seat in anticipation. Fast-paced…does not waste your time.
There are certain parts that dampen the overall movie a little like VJ Gaurav’s (over)acting and the oh-I-wish-I-could level technology that the Mumbai Police has been shown to use (I just refuse to believe that they will ever learn to operate the kind of equipment shown in the movie), but try and overlook that. It does not come in the way at all.

In a nutshell, go watch it. You will not regret it.

Rock On: *****

Yesterday was the second time I saw Rock On and loved it all over again! A movie about dreams, passions and living life to the fullest. A movie about music (and hence very close to my heart…I was ogling at the snazzy guitars and the funky rockstar gear half the time…this one totally pampers the rockstar in you). A movie about pursuing what you start and seeing it to the finish…about the consequences of having regrets. But on a higher level and from an angle I discovered yesterday, a movie about interpersonal relationships, the dynamics involved and about handling them gracefully. This movie is going right up there on the list of my favourites!

What I also enjoyed was the styling, the wardrobe. I appreciate good clothes, good styling and good grooming and this was part of why I liked the movie so much. My favourite character in this aspect was Aditya Shroff with his perfect power dressing. The character looks equally good when playing the rockstar but does not beat the investment banker in any way!

The debutants Farhan Akhtar and Prachi Desai are both going to do really well in my opinion. Farhan is now a complete package – a good director, a good actor and a decent singer. He is not drop-dead handsome but he acts very well. Every expression has been brought out so well by him vis-à-vis the scene when he meets his band-members again and goes to freshen up – the trembling hand and the furrowed forehead were perfect, the scene where his wife is made to sing a song – the indiscernible approval in his eyes which is soon replaced by love and adoration…very well done. If Indian cinema has reached a point where it can appreciate performance over looks, then Farhan definitely has it in him to give the likes of SRK (whoever made him a superstar…ugh!) some good competition.

Prachi for her part essays her role very well. She looks glam and has loads of grace. Her acting skills are unquestionable – no melodrama in the emotional scenes even though she comes from the K brigade…and thankfully no dubbing required. She is definitely here to stay. I just hope she keeps choosing the right kind of banners and stays up there.

The music is enjoyable too. If one keeps the lyrics aside, the concerts are so much fun to watch. And the guys have done their homework very well. Very realistic performances that leave you wanting for more.

The cinematography is another thing to watch out for with the people invited from the West to work on this one. The concert in the end is a delight in this respect.

Needless to say, my recommendation is strong for this one. A complete entertainer!

That was the Triple Treat Sundae of movies that I relished yesterday. The cherry on top came in with a visit to the Annual Landmark Sale! I was so excited I could have lost my mind (well whatever little of it is left) …some gems were up for grabs for the price of pebbles! And I picked up quite a few to add to my trasure trove.

Could think of only one song while riding back home…U2’s It’s A Beautiful Day!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

When God Closes One Door...

This morning, like on any other weekday, I swiped my identity card at the basement door and entered the elevator lobby of the office. Now, this place has six elevators, three on one side and once you press the common button to call one of them, you can never be sure which one will come first. It is a good game if you have some time to kill - guessing which one you'll be taking.

But if you are in a hurry, the same game can become frustrating. More often than not, the group of people waiting will make an intelligent guess based on whic elevator is closest to your floor and start hustling towards that one hoping to get in quicker. And more often than not, a silent player in the game, another elevator that has been constantly descending from another floor will reach your floor behind your back and the light by the button you had pressed will go off. You are still staring at the elevator stuck one floor above and before you know it you are hurriedly checking the other 5 elevators out to see which one has arrived. Sometimes even as you walk towards that one, you stare back at the one you had hoped would come down and nod your head in exasperation. You seldom win…

I had an epiphany around this situation a few days ago and I have started seeing the elevator lobby as some kind of Bodhi tree after that (or at least a place where one existed and was cut off to make space for this boon to mankind called a Software Company). I have also started seeing life a little differently…

We have all heard the cliched proverb - "When God closes one door He opens another". I once read an eye-opening extension of that one - "When God closes one door He opens another; but we stare at the closed door for so long that we miss seeing the open door"! The elevator situation and life in general reminds me of that...

We all have this vision of our lives and more often than not that vision is of a 'happily ever after'. This vision encompasses certain things and people that we think we want to own or be with and will make us happy. And we spend a considerable part of our time pursuing these things and people - admission into that college, a job with xyz portfolio, a paycheck with 6 digits, that too-good-to-be-true-person you dated in the second year and never got over etc.

But as the road ahead unfolds, life doesn't go as we had envisioned it for ourselves. We don't get the things we wanted. The people we loved start walking away from us. And a shadow of doubt is cast over our 'happily ever after'.

So we kick and crib. We cry. We ask, "Why?" (worse, "Why Me?"). We refuse to face the facts and keep hoping that things will magically turn around one day for our 'happily ever after'. We never come out of what has been.

In the process, we miss seeing the things that have been sent our way to make our lives better though they aren't exactly what we wanted. We do not acknowledge the people whom we didn't love but who are waiting for a chance to make us happier than ever in their own special ways. We look at the ones walking away for so long that we miss seeing the one who has been walking along all the while. We miss the chance to hold their hand and walk together forever just because we are busy wallowing in self-pity about how we never got what we wanted.

Maybe what we wanted was not the best for us. Maybe we deserved much more than what we wanted. Maybe we should learn to let go.

Because when God closes one door, He opens another. Maybe we should not close our eyes in prayer for so long and learn to keep them open to look at that door...

Amen.