What’s on my mind?

It has been ages since I last posted anything. Things seem to change randomly and suddenly, which baffles someone like me because I am used to planning things, creating backup plans and getting what I want. However, since the past few months, it feels as if I am a mere spectator of my life, and someone else is living it using my body as a vehicle. I am so passive sometimes and so indifferent that I do not quite know what to make of myself.

From this identity crisis arose the question: What do I post on this blog? Do I share stories of my idols so that they may inspire others? Do I share music I like? Or book reviews? Or share information on the places I have been to?

Such was the force of all these thoughts that I went into paralysis by analysis (which is a huge problem with me). But then, I realised, I should probably just go with the flow(as light torture for my Type A personality). Write down whatever is on my mind at that very moment because I could plan all I want, but things somehow find a way to go haywire anyway! Plus, those who adore me (the count is about 5 people I suppose haha) would anyway read whatever blah stuff I choose to discuss. So I decided to follow Frida Kahlo’s lead:

“I am my own muse. I am the subject I know best. The subject I want to know better.”

My cousin and I have been speaking a lot lately, and he is just awesome! It is a bizarre delight to know that there is someone else in the family who is almost equally saturnine as I am. Someone who not only enjoys the same movies, books and TV series but is also as sceptical and cynical about things as I am! We ended up discussing so many topics, but the ones that dominated the conversation were:-

1. Nihilism, Existentialism, Absurdism…Philosophy in general

There is a common trait in both of us, of discussing the futility of things. Extremely negative, pessimistic quotes by Seneca (“Why weep at parts of life, the whole of it calls for tears”),  Sophocles (“Call no man happy until he is dead”)  amongst other philosophers (Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard)  were exchanged. I am pretty sure we could have brought down the joie de vivre of the most optimistic person. Then, we proceeded to discuss our mutual love for Albert Camus and how one should embrace the absurd. Finally, we concluded that we should live life anyway, because ‘One must imagine Sisyphus happy’ and continued to dabble in our dilettante pursuits. So basically, by some weird paradox, our mutual nihilistic tendencies help us lead a fuller, cheerful existence. Go figure.

2. The greatness that is Christoph Waltz

I remember the first time I saw Inglorious Basterds. The man who played Hans Landa was something else. The poise, the subtle gestures and the veneer of politeness while actually having all the power, the way the character seamlessly switched languages…everything…absolutely everything was brilliant! Even someone like me, who has zero notion of what constitutes good acting could understand what I had witnessed. Since I obsess over things I like, I ended up watching/reading all his interviews, because it just seemed like he is a man who won’t say much, but whatever he will, would be measured and sensible, which is a rarity in our times. In particular, I am rather fond of his interview with Stephen Colbert, where he discusses the Viennese fondness for thinking about death (a fact which makes me adore him more). He is a shining example of an actor who might have achieved global success later on in life, but once a star like him is born, there is no dimming its shine.

3. Roger Ebert’s contribution to the movies

My first introduction to Roger Ebert was through this beautiful comic by Zen Pencils. It is one of my greatest regrets that I go to know of him only after he passed away. Reading his blog and movie reviews convinced me that as long as they are well-made, one can consume a romantic comedy and a Fellini film with equal delight. In the end, they are all stories on screen. It is one of my aims to watch all the movies he listed as ‘Greatest movies of all time’.

 

So, that pretty much wraps it up for now. I realised this is my little space on the Internet and it is for me to do as I please. I need not treat it as another compulsion.Finally, after internally moping for quite a while, I have ‘opened myself to the gentle indifference to the world’ (L’Etranger, Albert Camus). It is rather liberating and I highly recommend it.

 

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Movie of the week: Khuda Kay Liye (In the name of God)

Religion is such a complex matter. However, it is sad that something so personal has now become a tool for political manipulation instead of being a path towards love and peace. While I identify as an agnostic, I won’t deny that I often struggle with my religious identity. Plus, the more I read, the more confused I am! (For example, Hindu philosophy had a sect called the Lokayata, which rejected the very idea of Vedic rituals and the supernatural. So am I still Hindu if I am a skeptic? It baffles me!!)

So, I was extremely curious when I came across this Pakistani movie from the year 2007, which tries to explore the question of Muslim identity, faith and its place in the modern world. So, here is what I thought about it!

kkl

 

Storyline: The story follows the lives of three young Muslims: Mansoor, Sarmad, and Mariam/Mary.

Mansoor (Shaan) and Sarmad (Fawad Khan) are two bothers from a liberal Muslim household in Lahore. Moreover, they are successful musicians who perform at local events. Sarmad steadily falls prey to the teachings of the local Maulavi, who convinces him that music is against Islam. Convinced, he decides to stop and starts following a radical form of religion.

The story then shifts to England, where Mariam’s (Iman Ali) father is unhappy that his daughter has decided to marry Dave, a white Christian boy, as women are forbidden from marrying into another religion. He dupes her into thinking that she has his blessings, and tells her that they can get married once they come back from Pakistan, where they must go to meet his family. There, Mary is forced into marrying her cousin Sarmad.

At the same time, Mansoor shifts to Chicago to pursue his passion for music, where he falls in love with an American girl whom he proceeds to marry. All seems blissful until the events of 9/11 occur and he is detained by the CIA at Guantanamo Bay.

What happens to Mary? Does she escape her forced marriage?

Will Sarmad see the error of his ways?

Is Mansoor freed from his wrongful imprisonment?

For this, watch the movie. While the story is available online, I have tried to keep this post spoiler-free. ( It is available on Youtube and despite my many attempts, I could not find a legitimate copy.)

Why should you watch this movie?

1- Portrayal of religious zealots.

When you think of it, it seems absurd that an educated person could ever fall prey to propaganda, religious or otherwise! But, the movie attempts to show how zealots like Moulana Tahiri can use scriptures and sweet-talk to manipulate people into following their teachings.

2- Naseeruddin Shah’s role as Maulana Wali

Towards the end of the movie, he gives a stirring speech on how religion has been misinterpreted to lower the status of women, and how it is shameful that externalities like clothing and behaviour have become more important than what is within the soul.

3- Relevance

While the director has focused on his religion and country, the story could be true anywhere, and for any religion. The world we currently live in is so bizarre, and this movie made so much sense to understand the different points of view people have.

Why should you not watch this movie?

1- Shoddy screenplay and acting

The director and cast try their best, but the acting could have been better and the screenplay could have been crisper. Plus, the dialogues in the English version are not as good as the Urdu/Hindi one.

2- Violence

If you are someone who is unable to tolerate even a minutely violent scene, this movie is not for you. There are many scenes depicting torture and other forms of violence. Refrain from watching this movie on a day when you are already in a bad mood.

3- Ending

If you are someone who likes their movies to have a happily-ever-after, then this movie is not for you. The ending can be described as bittersweet at best. However, this seems to be intentional, to show that the damage caused by bigotry and hatred is often irreversible.

 

Verdict: Despite its flaws, I found it to be a soulful movie and a brave one too. It is not easy to handle such topics, and the director and writers have done their best to handle every aspect sensitively. Thus, I would say that while it is not a must-watch or a classic, it is still a unique film and puts forth a new perspective

If you watch it, let me know what you thought of it!

Note: I understand that the topic I have posted about is a sensitive one, personally and politically. However, I would appreciate it if hateful/attacking comments are kept out of the discussion. The world-both real and virtual is filled with enough strife and hate, and I want this blog to be a positive space (even if its writer is not exactly a positive person :D)

 

Romance etc.

It is that time of the year again. Female horses are being tortured by noisy crackers and female humans (mostly) are being tortured by nosy aunties.  It is the Indian Wedding Season.

Since nobody believes in minding their own business and all ancient scriptures tell us that letting people live in peace is a sin, a lot of people demand answers regarding my personal life (or lack thereof). But then again, they aren’t alone, are they? I am sure a lot of assumptions have been made about me over the years. Since I am a student of science, it is my duty, nay, an obligation to list every possibility. So, off the top of my mind:-

  1. I am a shy, conservative small-town girl.

Yes, my Sherlock! How did you figure it out? Yep, modernity (to use in a very constricted sense here) is limited to Tier I cities. Where I grew up,  us girls snort kumkum and vibhuti in the morning, after which we drink the only cocktail we know about: Gangajal with a dash of Patanjali Lauki juice. Also, we never interact with the opposite sex. If unavoidable, we tie our message to a pigeon’s leg, who then delivers it to the boy. It is known.

2.  I am a lesbian

Because we all know that posting and sharing content on women’s rights= man-hating lesbian feminazi. (Yes things are changing now. But trust me, a lot of people still think like this.)

Oh well, how I wish this were true! Because a) In the field of life sciences, there seem to be more women than men. and b) Every time I look at my Facebook ‘Other’ folder, I lose faith in the male population. (Yes, okay. I’ll say it before you go there. #NotAllMen.) But sadly…nope. Team XY all the way!

The truth is that yours truly is*cue drumrolls*

dead inside

As the popular poem goes:-

‘Roses are red,

Romance is dead,

Every day I suffer from existential dread’.

If you’re still reading (how jobless are you?), then permit me to illustrate with an example, involving the rather delectable Karanvir Sharma.

Jeevansathi.com Ad

Godrej No. 1 ad

So on comparing ads 1 and 2, we can conclude the following:-

Before

  • dresses well
  • picks up books from the floor
  • goes to cafes, libraries, social events
  • begs future soulmate to register on the said website

Maybe there is a reason why he was cast in the Godrej soap ad, because

After

  • wears dull shirts
  • Gives a shallow compliment, but still won’t actually help out with any chores (umm..what if that glow is, in fact, sweat because you refuse to lend a hand, you imbecile twat)
  • Stays at home
  • Lastly, steals wife’s soap, thereby stealing her unique glow.

Cue: But how can you make such a statement based on advertisements? There are so many exceptions. Love does exist etc. To placate them, I say: Okay fine #NotAllCouples.

But supporting my statement is a dead Chinese philosopher. And as the Internet has taught us, Chinese philosophers are full of wisdom and right about everything.

“Can there be a love which does not make demands on its object?” – Confucius

So, the bottom line is that while I am open to all possibilities, I would prefer to live my entire life with a house full of cats and have them devour my corpse, rather than hitch my wagon to just about any loser out of fear of loneliness.

Ciao! (You’re regretting your decision to read this post fully, aren’t you?)