Wednesday, 27 July, 2011

Memory modification charm that is Time

 

A strange thing time is. A memory modifier so as to speak. It does for us muggles what ‘obliviate’ would do for wizards. Feelings, experiences, emotions which seem so extreme and profound at their time, seem to get hazy in the mist of time.

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Pregnancy is a tough time for some. Though it is arguably one of the most beautiful feelings in the world to feel a life kick inside you, it has its set of challenges. When I went through 3 month of sickness losing  5kgs and not being able to eat (and keep in) more than two slices in a day, I closed my eyes and was convinced that it is the end of time. Morning, noon and night, I would be sick. I would try to sleep for 20 hours in the day, sort of go into hibernation so that time would pass quicker and I would still be alive in the morning.

My last 3 months of pregnancy brought with them another rare symptom whose sole purpose was to not allow me to lie down from 1am till 7am. Thus, it is safe to say that for 3 months I didn’t sleep for more than 3 hours in a day. 

And don’t even get me started on childbirth. Anyone who knows me, knows that my biggest fear in life has always been childbirth. To willingly opt for normal delivery took courage worth a medal for me. For the sake of all those who still want to have kids, I’ll skip the details. But I survived to tell the tale.

And any mother will tell you how tough the 1st month is with a newborn. Sleep deprivation, healing stitches, being cooped up are just some things of a long list.

Yet, when I look back now, one year from when it all started, it all seems kind of hazy. The nights don’t seem as long in retrospect and was I really too ill to eat for months? I remember every moment of being in labour and delivering my baby yet I can’t reconstruct the agony and the pain. Science says that a hormone is released in our bodies during childbirth that makes us forget the pain later. Yet that wouldn’t account for forgetting the months that preceded it. Only the charm of time could do that. Have you never felt this way? Glorifying things in our memories….roses that were rosier than blush… relationships that seemed perfect…that amazing dish you once ate that blew your mind (even though it couldn’t live upto its memory when you returned years later). Are things really what we remember them to be or is it the memory charm at work?? Obliviate!!!

Friday, 22 July, 2011

Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows - A film that should have been called HP & the Horcruxes

Oops I did it again!!

When I was watching the latest  Harry Potter film - The Deathly Hallows part 2, I loved it! In the first half, I was literally sitting on the edge of my seat in excitement and I loved the special effects in the second half. So I decided that to do justice to the review, I'll go back to the book and read it again and get an idea of where the film stands. Alas, BIG big blunder. 4 pages into the chapter, I realised that I shouldn't have bothered. The mighty pen wins again.



Like all Potter films, this review shall be given from both the viewpoint of muggles (Ms) who haven't read the book and pure-bloods (PBs) who have. One of the most awaited films of our times, this last film is the closing chapter in the Harry Potter series. When the book came out two years back, I was absolutely blown apart as to how each loose string that Rowling had left in earlier books was tugged at and expertly tied up at the end. Unfortunately, in doing so, the books which earlier used to be just 200 pages or so started becoming thick encyclopedias of four times that many pages. But the length of the film remained constant. Thus, the directors were faced with the mammoth task of fitting it all in and allowing the viewer to make sense of it.

The last 2 films have been racing ahead of the viewer in order to cover it all, often leaving muggles confused and disoriented. PBs on the other hand, know the intricacies of the plot and are wondering why it has been simplified so. Though the films, like the books, have been maturing over the series, with the earlier ones being childish and becoming more sinister as they grow up. Yet, the magic of this world that one experiences in the earliest parts is somehow lost.

The special effects ofcourse are fabulous. The war scenes could rival any gladiator film and I particularly like the shot where HP walks out in front of the entire school and faces Snape. Snape is given his due, with the flashback done brilliantly. Also of note are the scenes in Gringotts, the roller coaster ride almost a 3D effect even in 2D.



The problem is in its diversion from the book. As I lamented before, when you have such a fabulous script to follow, why oh why would you stray? Harry's turmoil of whether to chase Horcruxes or Hallows is not even mentioned. Complete scenes are edited out and some randomly inserted like Neville standing in front of thousands of death eaters and confronting them. Neville for some reason has been given too much screen space in the film, even more than Ron and Hermoine. Fred and George haven't been given their due in any film and thus when we see one of the twins finally slain, not one eye in the theatre is wet. Bellatrix dies too easily and the final duel is far less exciting than the one where Dumbledore had duelled Voldermort in the ministry of magic. I could go on and on but its of no use. For PBs who enjoyed the film but feel something is still missing, go read the book again. Let the last bite leave the last impression.

A very enjoyable and racy film. Should be watched in a theatre. But alas, not quite what it should have been.

Long live Rowling.

Rating: 3.5 on 5
Paisa Wasool Moment: When McGonagall orders the knights to guard the fort and then grins in glee saying "I always wanted to use that spell" :)

Thursday, 21 July, 2011

10 Things we miss most about B-School

Long gone days spent during college and particularly campus days in B-School are always looked back upon with nostalgia. Whether it is the fierce competitveness, relationships that were made and those that were lost, or even projects that were completed in the wee hours of the morning over a plate of steaming hot Maggi, they shall always remind us of ourselves when we were carefree.

My latest article on Rediff talks about "What we miss most about B-School". Read it here.

Tuesday, 19 July, 2011

Growing up Bin Laden–Book Review

A normal human reaction is that the people surrounding evil must have traces of evil in them too. Thus, if Draco Malfoy was evil, his entire family must also be so. In the muggle world context, if Osama was a terrorist, his family must have stood by his side and don’t deserve our sympathy. But the truth of the matter is that one can not blame others for the choices one makes. Draco’s mother made a choice of saving Harry albeit so that the attacks stop and she can save her own son.

Osama Bin Laden or Ossama as his son insists it is spelt was the world’s most wanted and hunted terrorist. Countries have been destroyed in the guise of looking for him. He married 5 times (having divorced one of them) and is succeeded by 19 children. In the eyes of the world, the entire family of Ossama are not given much thought and are condemned in the same way that he is. I did too. Until I read “Growing up Bin Laden”. Written by his first wife Najwa and fourth son Omar along with Jean Sasson, the book is the first true glimpse into the inner world of Ossama. It gives the reader an understanding of the kind of man Ossama was, how his growing up years had been and what his priorities were.

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The book does not glorify Ossama the man. Instead, it is a brutally honest narration of how he grew up in the periphery of the Bin Laden family, his mother Aliya having divorced his father very early and remarried. Nonetheless, the very rich Bin Laden family allowed him to be a part of the businesses and reap the benefits of the name. His only love marriage was to his first wife and cousin, Najwa. Thereafter, he asked Najwa’s permission to remarry with the sole objective of siring more children for his cause. An extremely conservative man, his family never left the compounds of the house, were not even allowed to smile showing more than 3 teeth and were disallowed the use of any modern appliance like refrigerators.

After being unceremoniously thrown out of Saudi Arabia by the king and later from Sudan due to his growing fanatical activities, Ossama became more and more frustrated and convinced himself that America and Israel were the reasons behind his personal struggles and Islam’s problems at large. He started dreaming of a pure Islamic world and preached hatred against America even though his reason for it started only because the king of Saudi asked for the American army’s help to defend the country rather than his group of bandits even though he had fought the Russians and ousted them out of Iraq.

The book traces how his family moved from a life of luxury in Jeddah towards austerity and in the end, they were made to live in cave like dwellings on a mountain in Tora Bora (Afghanistan) without electricity or running water. Even though he made all the effort in the world to convince them and train them for Jihad, it speaks volumes of the family that only one child of Ossama out of his 19 agreed to join his cause and the elder most escaped from Afghanistan and his madness before 9/11 happened. 

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I do not feel hatred towards his family anymore. They were just a bunch of people dealt with a cruel hand. They were mere pawns to the man and when they were old enough to make the decision, they chose to support peace and love instead of hatred. They will forever bear the weight of their Father/ Husband’s deed thanks to their surname. The family that had evil like Bellatrix, also had Sirius. Evil is not contagious, everyone has the opportunity to be evil or good. It is which part of us that we decide to follow that defines us.

Wednesday, 13 July, 2011

My favourite time to travel - the rains!!!

My latest article on Rediff on Monsoon Vacations...some options like Punjab may be off the beaten track but the monsoon is the perfect time to visit this fertile state.

Read the article here.

For more options, you can read my last year's Monsoon Getaway article here.

Friday, 8 July, 2011

The Art of Sleeping

And why not? If there can be an Art of Living...why not an art of sleeping then? There was a time only months ago when I could sleep anywhere, any number of times, at the drop of a hat. Literally. My eyes would shut and I would be off to dreamland even before my head hit the pillow. Cut to 3 months of a very painful pregnancy symptom that doesn't let you sleep at night (an hour a night tops) and the next 3 months raising an infant trying to fix her bodyclock which was severly jet lagged!

So, now that my nymph has finally started sleeping for 4-5 hours at a stretch, why do I complain, you ask? Just that I seem to have forgotten the art of sleeping! I spend hours in bed tossing and turning, trying to will myself to sleep. I sing songs in my head, design my latest outfits...hell, I even wrote out this post in my head last night!

So as the night approaches once more, I am filled with dread. Will it bring sweet slumber? Or will I yet again struggle with the night demons and get a good night's rest. Before I completely forget what that feels like!!!

Tuesday, 5 July, 2011

Holy money!!!

Should the great wealth being unearthed in Indian temples be brought out and made government property?

As a wise (and very hot) man said "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn".

The recent riches found in a temple in the south amounting to billions of rupees has been collecting for centuries. Kings have left their treasures here as has the common man for as long as one can remember. The question is, do we have the right to take that money out now and decide what to do with it?

Before answering that question, there is another pertinent question. Who are we (as in the govt) to decide that this is the correct time to take out the money and how can one ensure that it is put to correct use? I am not a very religious person and my answers do not have anything to do with the sacredness (taking liberty with the language) of the money. The point is that the government is suddenly playing big daddy. This money has reached here after paying the requisite taxes from the individuals that earned it. Thus, the government's right on the money is void. Does the average citizen have right on the money? Not really. What has the citizen done to earn it?

So who does? The trusts of these temples are chosen with care who keep an account of this money with reverence as they believe that they are serving the lord. The trust also chooses causes to use this money which are often more effective than government schemes that end up putting the money in the wrong pockets. Perhaps what can be done is that the government can ask for a certain percentage of the money to be used for social causes (not religious ones). The rest of the kitty can be left to grow for the future generations. This way, the money will serve not just us but many generations to come.

My concern is that the government's intentions may be right but like many truckloads of treasures disappeared during a certain lady prime minister's time, this huge amass of wealth may get lost into the bottomless greed of a few. Let it serve the nation instead, and in the mean time, let it lie in peace.