Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A game waiting to be played!

As one embarks on the professional career path, a lot of things happen at the same time. In many cases, there is the uprooting of an individual be it from his home or hostel and he/she is forced to adjust to the rigors of a new life in a new city. Along with that come certain riders and inevitably certain priorities.

Suddenly, there are a lot of new things to confront. Time, that elusive figment of our lives, which almost always eludes any firm grip, runs its own course come what may. A good realization of this fact coupled with shrewd expectation management is needed to acclimatize and later establish control over one’s new surroundings.

First of all, any narration of events to a fellow human being however close he/she may be is fraught with perceptions and no matter how detailed a person is, in his narrative, it remains a narrative. Facts are never conveyed during communication. They are seen or experienced, never heard. Hence, it is futile to imagine that a person at the other end of a telephone line can visualize and experience every event that we hope we are narrating. It depends to a great deal on the person at the other end and his/her relationship with our friend.

Secondly, one can’t expect to carry on as before and most of us realize it soon enough. Here comes the whole field of expectation Management. Our friends in college may experience a different work culture and their demands may not be the same from their work. At work too, it is important to strike the right chord. One’s immediate supervisor and manager ought to be seen for what they are. Their expectations from us as individuals are driven purely from the spectrum of work. It comes before everything else. Sharing one’s idea of girlfriend or boyfriend might seem ok, but certainly not the idea of how working is so boring or exhilarating relative to your friend’s experiences!

After a period of adjustment, one gets bored. The new city and the surroundings don’t remain new anymore. The mind is always in search of new and fresh experiences. It is subject to a lot of pulls and pressures from numerous quarters. Routine would appear drab and in many cases, there’d be an urge to rebel and seek “different” experiences. It is important to understand the workings of the mind and be aware of the need to canalize one’s energy.

One can’t remain happy without being surrounded by good people who care for you. It is here that investing time into cultivating good relationships and building a good network plays a good part. Since the individual is on his/her own, there is immense freedom of choice. Engaging in activities that utilize one’s passion, forming new friends and remembering that any friendship cannot be built overnight, not expecting too much from people, given that they are subject to the same whims, fancies and vagaries as one is, reciprocating friendly gestures, taking small initiatives at the cost of being laughed at and ridiculed, learning the art of communicating banal niceties, cultivating the knack of seeing through self-serving tendencies, this phase in one’s life is a game that is waiting to be played with a little caution and a lot of freedom!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

On Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee

When the emotions and feelings are complex, words do a bad job at describing them, for they can more often than not, convey only so much. Communication of deep hurt, intense passion, terrible ache and nagging doubts is difficult and somehow once communicated leave a sense of misrepresentation and falsity. When race is involved, the combination is fearsome and troublesome to the extreme. The reader's sympathy, the sense of right or wrong and the whole consequent question of moral triumph gets mixed up.

Disgrace with its rare prose treads a fine balance and leaves many pertinent questions unanswered.

Words are juxtaposed to convey maximum impact:

"Her temperament is in fact rather quiet, quiet and docile."

"A ready learner, compliant, pliant."

"He recognizes a statement of independence, considered, purposeful."

Such construction heightens the understanding and enables splendid characterization.

David Lurie, a middle-aged twice divorced teacher of Romantic poetry in the technical University of Cape Town, feels that "A woman's beauty does not belong to her alone. It is part of the bounty she brings to the World. She has a duty to share it". In his own words, on "an ungovernable impulse" he has an affair with a student, and is asked to resign.

Finding himself in the country, to which he discovers that he is ill-suited, he is forced to move in with his daughter, Lucy, who lives in a farm assisted by Petrus ("tall and weathered" is David's first impression) who, as father and daughter discover later, is a villain.

David understands slowly that his daughter is determined and quite happy in her own way. Out of the blue, three men ruthlessly attack them - try to burn David and rape Lucy. When he tries to reason with his daughter by suggesting that her continuing to stay there will be an invitation for them to return, her reply is shocking:

"What if that is the price one has to pay for staying on? Perhaps that is how they look at it; perhaps that is how I should look at it too. They see me as owing something. They see themselves as debt collectors,tax collectors. Why should I be allowed to live here without paying? Perhaps that is what they tell themselves." After reading this bit, I was stunned for a few minutes. If so much can be conveyed in so frugal a prose, then...

David's gradual reconciliation to his "disgrace" is a continuing theme thereafter. He assists his daughter's woman friend in animal welfare and even starts to transport the bodies of dead dogs till the incinerator and feels "betrayed" if he isn't able to do it .

There are some sentences that are short, but leave an impression so profound that I think I'll remember them for life.

Sample this:

David tries to work on a book about Byron. In a letter, Byron says "I have always looked to thirty as the barrier to any real or fierce delight in the passions". David remembering that feels "How brief the summer, before the autumn and then the winter!"

Byron does not provide any relief and again he goes back to nursing dogs and cats near his daughter . Towards the end of the novel, David is powerless to influence his daughter to change her mind. That is best captured in:

"He seems to be spending a lot of time sighing. Regret: a regrettable note on which to go out."

"One gets used to things getting harder; one ceases to be surprised that what used to be as hard as hard can be grows harder yet".

The political scene is painted almost in a quiet manner with poignancy, the only weapon showing the reader, the shift in the balance of power. A very disturbing, unputdownable, absorbing read that I'd rate as one of the best I have come across in terms of the subject and its handling. The Booker here is little prize for writing of such fine quality and spellbinding effect.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Of stifled feelings and liberation

I sense the first signs of depression,
A feeling of immense boredom threatens
to overwhelm, to eat away any resistance.
There is a tiredness, a weakness in the knees,
thoughts overtake each other hardly allowing
a pause. The being searches for an anchor, a
shoulder to clutch and lean on...

I dial a friend, the call isn't picked,
now there is fear, a fear to return
and face the claustrophobic air. Of
their own incomprehensible will, the limbs
slow down. There are questioning glances and
disapproving stares. The loss and agony
is private; it doesn't transmit itself...

I spill the glass of juice and this time am
rewarded with curses. The phone doesn't ring;
it almost always doesn't, in times of dire
desperation. There is an urge to indulge and to
immerse oneself. I walk the streets,
in search of the unknown, in search of a soothing balm...

The noise and the din disturb the nerves and
gets them on edge. To a bookshop, I take flight
and suddenly there is a hint of impending calm, of
a return to a recognizable refuge. In books, I
immerse myself and forget the walls around...

I travel to Alaska, scale peaks hitherto
unclimbed, partake in complex emotions,
breathe in untarnished purity, get stirred
by painful travails and overjoyed by minor
accomplishments. Imagination takes control;
it is like a drug transporting the helpless
reader to faraway lands...

It is a journey of remarkable escape from
the immediate present, from the demons
of the mind and the confines of the four walls.
In a sweeping journey of self-discovery
the conscious is barely aware, yet the
registrations are precise, sharp and as there
would be cognizance later spot-on...

The pages run fast now, the heart begins
to beat faster as the slumbering demons show
signs of stirring and wakefulness. This time
though, I am better prepared.
Reality is indeed, harsh!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Rock on – A movie that stands apart

Of late, Bollywood is churning out one different movie followed by the next; each one choosing consciously not to tread the beaten path of commercial cinema and at the same time having enough meat to get noticed by critics and masses alike receiving rave reviews and getting the deserved attention. It is a good time to be following Bollywood.

Looking back, Taare Zameen Par started the trend. Aamir, Sarkar Raj, Shaurya, Mumbai Meri Jaan, A Wednesday and Rock on – all of these movies are linked by the fact their heart is in the right place. Not ingratiating, not looking to impress, having a good story, backed by impressive direction, staying out of stereotyped song and dance sequences, they have went on to show that Hindi cinema can indeed rise above the ordinary flock and speak on issues that are contemporary and have resonating relevance world over.

Rock on – It had huge expectations and it has manged to live up to it. Its audience is the predominantly the youth who dreams big, has reasonably achievable aspirations, but gets lost somewhere. Lack of right support, ego altercations, a little hesitancy, failure to compromise at the right moment, other things assuming a more grave priority – the movie links all these beads and weaves together a beautiful thread.

Supported ably by Shankar, Ehsan and Loy, the lyrics are simple, innovative and speak to the young audience like never before. Javed Akhtar has surpassed himself. Just sample these:

Yeh Tumhari Meri Baathein, Hamesha Yuhin Chalti Rahe
Yeh Hamari Mulakate, Hamesha Yuhin Chalti Rahe
Beete Yuhin Apne Saare Din Raat
Baaton Se Nikalti Rahe Nayi Baat

Tum Ho To Raahen Bhi Hai, 
Tum Nahin To Rasthey Kahan
Tum Ho To Yahan Sab Hi Hai, 
Tum Nahin To Kaun Yahan
Tum Ho To Hai Har Ek Pal Meharbaan Yeh Jahaan
Jo Tum Ho To Hawa Mein Bhi Mohabbat Ka Rang Hai
Jo Tum Na Ho To Phir Koi Na Josh Na Umang Hai 
Tum Mile To Mili Yeh Zindagi

Meri Laundry Ka Ek Bill, Ek Aadhi Padi Novel… Ta Ra Ta Ta Ta ….Ta Ra Ta Ta Ta…
Ek Ladki Ka Phone Number, Mere Kaam Ka Ek Paper… Ta Ra Ta Ta Ta ….Ta Ra Ta Ta Ta…
Mere Taash Se Heart Ka King, Mera Ek Chandi Ka Ring
Pichhle Saat Dino Mein Maine Khoya
Kabhi Khud Pe Hansa Main Aur Kabhi Khud Pe Roya

Dil Karta Hai Sadkon Par Zor Se Gaoon
Sab Apne Apne Ghar Ki Khidki Kholen
Phir Main Aise Josheelay Geet Sunaoon
Mere Geeton Ko Sunke Sab Ye Bolen
Rock On… Hai Ye Waqt Ka Ishaara 
Rock On… Har Lamha Pukaara
Rock On….Yuhin Dekhta Hai Kya Tu
Rock On….Zindagi Millegi Na Dobaara…

Aasma Hai Neela Kyun, Paani Geela Geela Kyun
Gol Kyun Hai Zameen, Silk Mein Hai Narmi Kyun
Aag Mein Hai Garmi Kyun, Do Aur Do Paanch Kyun Nahi
Pedd Ho Gaye Kum Kyun, Teen Hain Ye Mausam Kyun
Chaand Do Kyun Nahi, Duniya Mein Hai Jung Kyun
Behta Laal Rang Kyun, Sarhaden Hain Kyun Har Kahin
Socha Hai... Yeh Tumne Kya Kabhi
Socha Hai... Ki Hain Yeh Kya Sabhi
Socha Nahi To Socho Abhi…..

If these don’t strike a chord with the youth, nothing ever can.

Caught in the middle of careers struggling to take off, a reunion gives an opportunity for four friends to come together again, bury their egos, give their lost aspirations another chance at redemption and proclaim to the world that the spark they nourished as youth is alive and kicking.

The movie ends on a note of practical optimism and inspiration. It is an effort that deserves the highest praise.