Thursday, September 18, 2008

Morning Musings

Have you ever woken up early in the morning; real early – as early as the newspaper vendor or as early as the time when the main vegetable Mandi is abuzz with activities?

I have enjoyed such mornings in my life; during different phases of my life! I was preparing for CAT then. I used to get up at around quarter to 4 o’clock in the morning, tip-toe to the main door and go out, so as not to disturb others at home. Even the paperwallah used to come after that. I was an avid follower of The Hindu and Economic Times then, so I used to wait for the newspaper eagerly. It was exciting to be up so early when the rest of the people were in deep slumber. The sunrise would look so personal, as if it is only between the sun and me.

Since it used to be dark when I used to get up, I would just sit for sometime at my door itself – mugging Oxford dictionary, to prepare for the Verbal Ability Test in CAT. It was my brother’s idea. Everyone used to follow some flash card or the other, and there I was devouring words, section by section. Of course you would not be able to remember everything. But it did introduce me to several words, many of which have stayed with me. It really helped.

But anyways coming back to the original topic of sunrise; I would go to the terrace as soon as I saw even a hint of sunlight. From the top I would see women in almost all the surrounding households, up and about very early and getting into the grind of their daily lives. Watching them clean and spray water outside, and make beautiful alpana, had become as much part of my daily routine, as it were for them.

I also reminisce about the mornings during my MBA days. I would get up around 6 am, and go for morning walks. The early morning walks would generally be filled with a million thoughts. Being alone has never bothered me, actually I quite like it. It gives me an opportunity to ponder about several things, though not intentionally, but it does end up in some quality thought process.

I have always attracted to early mornings. It is truly special. When I was a kid, our home was on an elevated road and right before our house was a stretch of land. Early mornings used to be breath-taking during all seasons. During rains, we would wake up to the lush green fields. The beautiful interplay of sunlight and clouds will present before us a magnificent spectacle.

Our township was in back of beyond place, hidden amid a cluster of villages. There was never any hum-drum of honking cars or busy roads; it was quiet and serene. In fact, at that point of time, it felt too quiet to be almost boring. But today I appreciate the beauty of such life. Not only were the early mornings heavenly; the star-studded nights would be as breath-taking. I used to spend a substantial amount of time just gazing at the stars. I have marveled many a times at those sights, when nature never failed to amaze me each time.

I remember a particular sunrise quite vividly – there were like millions of little clouds spread across the horizon. The sunlight was falling on the clouds in such a way that the entire upper portion was highlighted by a bright blue, while the total lower parts of the clouds were illuminated by a beautiful pink. It was a sight which I never could forget.

I still strive to get up real early, but the late night movies and the hectic days have spoiled me way too much! But I am trying, and I hope I will be there soon; to get seduced by the breath-taking beauty of early mornings with a cuppa of tea. I think that is what you call Heaven!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Where the Mind is with Fear

The more and more I observe myself, I see a lot of Monica (of FRIENDS) in me. No matter how much I plan that I will not do any cleaning work on a holiday, I end up cleaning something or the other for the entire day. I don’t know how I manage to come up something or the other on every single holiday! Even my brother is completely convinced that I am Monica personified.

This Sunday was no different. I planned not to do any cleaning stuff and just read some good books, but can you trust me for that!

I did manage to go out for a while but that too at the wrong time. Yesterday was Ganapati Visarjan and wherever we went we found patches of crowd. Strangely, we did not find any traffic jams though. All the signals were made “free”, which was a really good thing. But I could not help thinking about the bomb blasts which hit Delhi the previous day.

I remember when we were kids, bomb blasts used to be the last thing on our minds. We did not know about any such thing, at least as something which could affect our daily lives. But since last couple of years, especially after moving to Mumbai, three years back, it has come to become something which happens in close quarters. Every festival or celebration is marred by the fear of any untoward incident. There is tremendous anxiety in stepping out of our homes on festivals or holidays. You tend to avoid going out to places which are most crowded, like Malls, Crowded markets or Cinema Halls. What has become of our world? Festivals were supposed to be occasions when you forgot everything and engage in celebrations with pure abandon. Not any more!

I hate to admit but yes, I was afraid to roam around the streets yesterday, when places were supposed to be crowded due to Visarjan. I did go inside a mall but I literally forced my husband out of it in a couple of minutes. I was not at ease.

I do love my life in cities and unlike several people I don’t intend or dream of going back to the small place where I spent my childhood. I like it much better here – with much more convenience and better opportunities. But I cannot help reminiscing about the carefree childhood days. The holidays were all about going out and having fun with friends. We would have been aghast at any suggestion of not going out on such days. But today, we do have to think about a lot of things.

We are living in strange and difficult times. Really!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Movie Review: Monalisa Smile

Yesterday I had the good fortune of Monalisa Smile. Post that I tried reading reviews of the movie on internet but I found everyone embroiled too much into what was factually incorrect about the college, or how the extra students were short listed on the basis of how much tanned they look, how many black students were there, how the story was too naïve or amateurish and blah…blah…blah. To each, their own.

Personally, I was deeply moved by the movie. It moved me much more than even “Rock On” did. When I saw the promos of the movie on Zee Studio, only one Dialogue made me decide I just have to watch this movie – Do you think I'll wake up one morning and regret not being a lawyer? Isn’t it what makes us all do what we want to do? See the similarity with ‘Rock On’. In that movie they say do what you want to do because you will not get a second chance! Ditto here.

To give you a brief outline of the story, there is this teacher who comes to an apparently conservative college to teach ancient art history. On her first day, the girls unnerve her by knowing every thing that she could teach from the syllabus, but that does not bogs her down. She is flattered by the intelligence of her class but slowly she realizes that these very smart women are actually “just biding time until SOMEBODY proposes!” There’s no ambition, no purpose in their own lives. Marriage is the eventual and the future, everyone looks forward to or waits for. What a waste!

She tries to open the minds of the girls to identify, understand and do what they want in life. It is their life as well. They cannot just waste their lives being just somebody’s wife! She encourages them to break out of stereotypes created by the society; they really do not necessarily need to do what others’ expect them to do. They are smart women with their own minds.

Obviously in the conservative college and society where the story is set, she comes across several hurdles, even from the girls themselves, for they had never thought of anything beyond what they were ‘supposed’ to do.

There are several wonderful ‘moments’ in the film. Check out some interesting quotes here.

My personal favourites are as under:

The first one is the conversation between the teacher, Katherine Watson (Julia Roberts), and one of her students, Joan Brandwyn (Julia Stiles). Katherine had encouraged Joan to think of what would she love doing if she was not getting married, she said – she would be going to Yale to study Law. Katherine gets her to fill up the application forms and Joan also gets selected but then chooses to get married and stay back.

Joan Brandwyn: Do you think I'll wake up one morning and regret not being a lawyer?
Katherine Watson: Yes, I'm afraid that you will.
Joan Brandwyn: Not as much as I regret not having a family, not being there to raise them. I know exactly what I'm doing and it doesn't make me any less smart

(I liked it because Joan knew the choices she had in life – to be a lawyer or be somebody’s wife. She knew she would be a good lawyer, but may be she wanted a family much more than she wanted to be celebrated lawyer. The point is her’s was a conscious decision, and that is what matters. A person who decides to take care of the family is also doing as much as somebody doing another job!)

Another one was towards the end when Katherine feels totally let down by her class of women who were smart and intelligent but not thinking beyond the domesticity and marriage.

Katherine Watson: I didn't realize that by demanding excellence I would be challenging... what did it say?
[walks over to student's desk and picks up newspaper]
what did it say? um... the roles you were born to fill!

For me, a movie is not about right camera angles or effortless expressions. Of course, that definitely adds up to a good movie eventually; but what matters most is what thoughts the movie arouses in you, and whether it arouses anything at all. What matters most is what remains, long after the credits have rolled.

This movie stayed with me even though I saw two other movies after that. They did not instigate any feelings in me. This one did create an urgency to find a direction, not wait for things to happen at the usual pace, otherwise I would end of regreeting not doing certain things at the right time!