Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

How we underestimate the value of sleep. Or I did. All these years I attached value to a good nights sleep only for the sole purpose of making the brain function as expected and at its best at work. Went easy on it in the last year when I have been at home and not working. But it almost feels like I am an entirely different person the day I wake up at a reasonable hour and have had a great night’s sleep. I am happier. Sleep induces  a calm state of mind in your system and triggers all the positive switches in your head to come on. Suddenly, you feel like there is so much potential in the world. That there is so much you can deliver. That every backward step life sometimes forces you to take actually is not the end of the world or for that matter end of anything. There are multiple ways in which you can get ahead. Sleep lets in a freshness in your entire body and mind. Fresh energy enters your system and you watch yourself do all the things you thought but did not do just yesterday. Procrastination appears to be the first thing that sleep fights. It almost feels like life would just be so simple and you will be so driven daily if only you slept well every night. Is it really that simple? Am I giving a little too much credit to sleep?

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Atonement by Ian McEwan

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A book hooks me or fails to hook me in the first ten pages. Atonement failed me miserably here. I attempted to read the book thrice in a span of 3 years and its only the third time that I managed to go past the first few chapters, allow myself to take in the book patiently and complete it.
 
The book does not stir your emotions untill almost 40% is completed. Way too many words and reader’s (atleast readers with my taste) time is wasted in the first 40% of the book excessively narrating the landscape and other sundry matters. Words spent on workings of Briony Talli’s mind also may appear to be wasteful when you are still in this first 40% portion of the book. However, as the subsequent events unfold you realise the importance of gaining an insight into this character’s mind. Infact the subsequent chapters do not pointedly explain the young Briony’s thought process and subsequent wailings. With the help of the seemingly extended narrative in the first chapters, the reader automatically understands the deepest corners of this character’s mind. You are left undecided on whether she remains a victim of her youth throughout the period discussed in the book or if you expect her maturity to have surfaced at some critical point to undo the damages of her acts performed in veiled innocence and under good intentions.
 
The remaining 60% of the book is emotionally gripping. It forces you to look at the eposide that can alternate as being the protagonist of the novel from three perspectives.
 
Briony Tallis – At what point of time do we expect a child to be mature and understand the wrongful implications of an act committed with no bad intention? Is it fair to expect a child to recognise the need to and gather courage, intelligence and strength to turn back on legally provided statements in order to relieve a childhood friend of legal punishment and social embarassment that lasts a lifetime? Is her true and abundant love for her sister a justifiable shield for her act that alienates someone she genuinely believed to be a wrong doer?
 
Robbie Turner – In the first 40% of the story, he is never shown to be the quintessential romantic novel hero whom a teenage reader falls in love with and holds as a benchmark in all her romantic indulgences in her life. He is never dealt with in such a manner till the end of the book. However, when the book focusses on him in the second part (the book is divided into three parts), you develop a strong emotion towards him. I dont use the word “liking” because there is nothing in that part which makes you distinctly “like” him. You sympathise with him – his wasted youth for no fault of his, his distance from the woman he loves and uncertainity surrounding his reunion with his lover in the backdrop of the war. You do tend to admire the strength of his mind through the journey from war torn France to England. You may expect someone who has had a bad run with luck to be dejected and hopeless. But you identify the source of his strength – he has a woman to go back home to. This is where you begin to recognise the “romance” in the novel. Many of us may recognise the strength the faraway love brings to his existence. Sometimes just a thought, however uncertain it maybe, works as a miracle drug. Sometimes the hopes and dreams for a future life with your lover, however distant, is just the rejuvenating therapy one needs. We have all experienced it. The second part of the book reiterates it beautifully. What I found to be most profound in McEwan’s writing is that he is never explicit about the emotions in his characters that he wants to convey. His narrative is so strong that a reader “understands” all that and more.
 
Cecilia Turner – For most part of the book, she is angry, let down and generally down cast. Circumstances force her to alienate herself from the family. Circumstances here imply love. Newly “realised” love. When it hits her, she realises that the emotions have had their foundation in her heart through early association with Robbie. Feelings never came to the surface of her heart, her life. Secretly built emotions in the deepest corners of her heart. When it surfaced, it hit her hard, it swept her away like a long lost friend. It made her turn her back against her family. All in a matter of a day of coming face to face with her new love. All this makes one see the power of love. No one can define it, no one can set its boundaries. Immensely strong girl. Once again, love and hopes that come with it is her source of strength.

Tattered Book Cover…Love affair with a book store

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I went into the Tattered Book Cover, a lovely book store in Downtown Denver. I have been here before but did not spend too much time in there during the first visit. Today i did what I love to do in a book store.

Keep the mind open. Empty the mind of any expectations or thoughts. Let the books around you call out to me. The book calls out to me. Sometimes few books call out to me. Then dutybound, I spend sometime reading few pages (randomly picked) from each of these books. I close the books and I know (my mind tells me) which book to pick. Its always the right choice. Another book buying habit of mine is that I never buy more than one book at a time. It somehow beats my loyalty to a book if I buy more than one. Having a single book to shower my attention on lets me drown myself in it more deeply. 

The classics section lured me today. I had two russian novels set in 1800s and Romeo and Juliet with me. See when books call out to you, they usually also carry the same undertone. Today’s was classics. 

Tattered Book Cover is a delight for any book reader. More so for a lover of book shopping like me. I enjoy the process of picking a book as much as reading a great book. Its an indulgent experience for me and always been very fulfilling. Tattered Book Cover is a huge book store (two floors) with a vintage feel to it. Its a massive space which gives ample privacy and space for each section of books. Each section is almost like a small enclosure cordoned off from the rest. Many inviting old world seating is made available throughout the book store. Most common are those huge leather chairs which you associate with old rich English households. There is also a huge spread out table with chairs around it. Here you can meet other people and chat while you browse through your selections. There is a lovely cafe inside the books store as well. My favourite sight from today’s visit was that of this old man sitting by himself in a small balcony sort of extension built inside the store (refer the first picture, above the stairs). He picked the cozy spot with a drink in his hands and was seen reading his newspapers. Speaks peace.

Such book stores make you want to read all day long. It makes you want to believe that the only reality in the world are the stories it tells through its books. It stimulates your mind. Today, I read passages from heavy duty emotional fiction to a Tibetan book on death to few translated poems by two chinese authors which has great pose, love for the nature and a hidden message about life, to Romeo and Juliet. Your mind wanders for few minutes into the many worlds that the books lure you into. Then you make the choice. You cannot explain the choice, you just pick. 

I picked Nokolai Gogol’s Dead Souls.

Ishaqzaade

Yes, I watched the movie a year after its release. Initial marketing of the movie never appealed to me. Somehow felt the sudden urge to sit and down and watch the movie today. Its a must watch for anyone who understand slove in its craziest, most mindless, raw form. Human behaviour as depicted in the movie may beat logic for the rational mind. Leave out the rational mind I say. Because love does not (for most parts) accomodate logic nor was it created to follow the path of logic and reasoning.

The movie follows the tried and tested (many times over) Hindu-Muslim love story. More movie cliches ensue in the story – initial enemity between the lead pair transforming into love, vulnerability of the heroines’s emotions, an extremely strong willed male melting and withering for his mother, bubbly heroine who is the pet of her household and so on and so forth. But the combined effect of the stellar performances by the lead pair (especially Parineeti Chopra), crisp direction and the music gives a very fresh potrayal of the age old love story.

One cannot help but feel the emotional ride that Zoya (the name of the heroine in the movie) goes on in the movie. You understand when she is so youthful and exuberant. You understand when her family support system gives her confidence and fearlessness. You fall in love when she falls for Parma – the man she knows she better stay away from for familial reasons. But cupid always has different plans. Dont we all know that? You definitely cry when her false sense of power with her family breaks down when she needs it the most. You also completely emphathise and agree with her decision in the climax (not giving it away).

The Director, Habib Faisal, has depicted love in its best form. One may even call it the crude form of love. But thats when you feel the deepest level of emotion, desire and courage that love is capable of triggering in us. Habib appears to have understood that as long as there are emotions in the world, one will never get tired of watching a love story and that love can take such different shapes, forms and colours. He chose a very touching variation of love to give the audience.

At the end, I say its a beautiful presentation of an age old love story.

What I thought of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

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Before I begin on the story, script, performances, etc, I would like to express my disappointment at the portrayal of India by Western film makers. Such a cliche. Always the dirty roads, the irritatingly inquisitive people, broken english and what not. Ofcourse just to be nice to India, they always throw in a bit of some good Indian philosophy and touch upon the famous hospitality of Indians in general. In this extremely well connected era, its hard to blame this on ignorance. When I express this opinion, it is not to deny the existence of all such matters in India. They do. BUT there are also various other aspects of India which can be used to portray a developing nation in any given storyline. For example, in the movie Eat Pray Love (please note that I thoroughly enjoyed the book and the movie), do they HAVE to show a dirty ashram? I am not big on ashram culture but I do know that there are numerous “clean” and “mosquito free” ashrams in this country.

Well coming back to the movie, it was a pleasant watch. Stereotypical plot of putting together in the same place, a couple of people going through one crisis or the other in their lives. They meet and come together to be the light in their dark lives. Some tragedies. Some realisations. Some dreams come true. Some lost confidence is won back. Same old but still a nice watch.

However I was not impressed with Dev Patel’s acting in the movie. An Indian actor who naturally had the Indian accent may have been a wiser choice. Dev Patel puts in way too much effort to deliver what is demanded of the character and the effort stands out in his performance, but stands away from the character. You see more of the actor in Dev Patel than the character itself. I also did not find the sub plot of his character, his relationships and the hotel he runs to blend too well into the larger intent of the movie. It almost felt like a parallel story running to distract the viewers (for what? I dont know) and to extend the length of the movie (2 hrs in total).

Otherwise, the main characters (the elderly hotel guests) with their respective histories, relationships and confidence issues are a delight to watch. Emotionally and financially frustrated wife who realises that at retirement her husband cannot exactly give her the life she wants. Her excessively supportive husband whose sweetness and good manners keeps the marriage going upto a point. A newly widowed wife who realises the importance of sharing in a marriage post her husband’s death. A heart patient who is looking to reunite, even if for one meeting, with an old lover whose life he believed was scarred due to the unpleasant turn their relationship had taken decades ago. A single man and a single woman looking to hook up, even at their age. An old prejudiced maid who is in India to undertake a hip replacement surgery which she could not afford in UK. Predictably her prejudices dissolve slowly as the movie advances.

The script does justice to the unfolding of multiple events affecting all their lives. Through the blog that Judi Bench’s characted maintains in the movie, some profound messages are conveyed via the stories. The movie also has some well scripted humurous moments. Controlled acting by the main characters (other than Dev Patel) does good service to the script.

A feel good movie.

Diamond Necklace – My views

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Diamond Necklace – A movie by Lal Jose
Story of any boy you may know or know of. Believable characterisation. Realistic unfolding of events. Sharp story telling skills.
As summarised above, the story line of the movie is ordinary and conforms to the ways of today’s youth. No surprises there. However, what makes the movie a good creation is the story telling method of the Director and the performances. One man, three women and 2-3 influential acquaintances in his life. Interplay of the three relationships of the protagonist has been woven beautifully into the narrative. Each actress playing the three pivotal roles have made their marks. The Director’s expertise lies in the characterisation of these three women. One is strong and naive at once without drama, one is ruled by emotions but strong and sensible and the third is tainted with innocence that hardly sees the light of intelligence but rooted in values that ultimately acts as a balm. The three women with their individual personalities collectively overshadow the actor.  The actor is a happy go lucky, educated but not very smart (atleast in my opinion) victim of his own follies. He simply goes with the flow that his life takes him in – both when committing mistakes and in correcting them. Its refreshing to see such weaknesses in the protagonist. Most movies tend to potray the main lead to be an exceptional and virtuous human being.
The drawback of the movie maybe the lack of explanation by the Director for certain acts of the protagonist. Personally I did not mind this as I enjoy forming critical view points of the characters in a movie I watch. Infact in some movies its more desirable that the Director lets us believe the emotional run upto certain actions and events in the movie.
Contrary to my expectations arising from the title of the movie, it is not a thriller. But its a simple narrative of an hard hitting lesson learnt by a young man.