Tuesday, July 26, 2011

More impressions

Am I homesick? I don't know. Too soon to tell, surely.

I miss the chaos of Delhi. The noise. The constant honking on the roads of Gurgaon. Even the traffic jams.

I miss the loud and colourful Pepsi and Coca Cola hoardings on shops in the local market.

I miss the father's voice. The princess' entreating eyes. The mother's quibbling over my room.

I looked out of the car window while coming home tonight and I could see hundreds of stars. That's how clear the sky is. But I couldn't see Orion's belt, which is usually what I see if I look straight up standing at the gate back home.

I look for familiarity everywhere. So the early morning cool air and the green trees remind me of Kasauli. The drive around a residential area in downtown tonight reminded me of military cantonment areas back home. And the restaurant we went to felt like The Big Chill for a while.

So am I homesick? Maybe a little. And to think it's only been a week. And school hasn't even started.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

First impressions

I'm 26 years old, and I've never lived away from the parents. College, grad school, three years of work - it all happened from the comforts of home, where the biggest decision I had to make was what to wear the next day.

I stood in Walmart's yesterday and spent five minutes trying to figure out which type of milk I should go for. I finally chose Organic and Fat-free; it sounded healthy yet more appealing than soymilk. It took me ten minutes to figure out which mop stick to buy; mainly because the cheapest one didn't have refill mops available, and the ones which did were too expensive. Buying an iron was easy - the cheapest option was also the only brand I'd heard of.

My Japanese flat mate and I invited people over for dinner tonight; I, all the Indians I know, and she, her friends from the language pre-classes she's been attending. I was chatting with a Colombian girl, who's moved here with her boyfriend. Both of them will be going to school with me, and as it turns out, both lived with their respective parents before they moved here. So they spent 15 minutes today trying to figure which type of soap they should buy for the dishwasher. As I told her, it felt SO good knowing I'm not the only one in this state.

In other news, people keep asking me if I'm homesick. Now that I've given in and bought a BlackBerry, with everyone just a text/BBM away, not so much. The only time I sniffled a little bit was when the mother showed the princess on Skype this morning. She can't get a smartphone. Maybe the mother's idea of inventing a cell phone for dogs has some merit.

May I also say, that for all the talk about Indians behaving very differently when they go away from their country, at a dinner party of people coming from the Far East, South America, and Europe, the Indians were the only ones walking in two hours late. Indian Stretched Time is a constant everywhere we go, it seems.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

It all ends here

I have three half-written blog posts waiting to be finished and published before I leave tomorrow night, but the one that gets priority must be my thoughts on one of the two movies I saw on Friday - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.


The move begins right where Part 2 ended, with Voldemort taking the Elder wand from Dumbledore's grave and Harry sitting besides Dobby's grave. David Yates assumes, quite fairly, that his audience will not have anyone who didn't see Part 1, and so spends no time on unnecessary recaps. And while Part 1 was necessarily slow, just like the first half of the book it covered, with a large part of it having little to no action, Part 2 moves rapidly, with no time to breathe as the scenes move from Shell Cottage to Gringotts to finally Hogwarts.

The performances were amazing in this movie. Every single actor stepped up, and how. McGonagall is brilliant when she takes on Snape (although I did wish her voice had been a tad bit stronger when she sets up the protections for the castle), Alan Rickman blows your mind away as Snape, and Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort gave me goosebumps. The threesome truly come of age in this movie. Rupert Grint's facial expressions and ability to deliver one-liners were always a delight, and his face when he's running in the Room of Requirement is hilarious. Emma Watson, after a very long time, did not annoy me, and Daniel Radcliffe brings Harry to life in this movie. Truly. Neville Longbottom, given a fair amount of screen time in this final installment, does a brilliant job as well.

And to a very large extent, the movie stays faithful to the book. The planning in Shell Cottage, the visit to Gringotts, the meeting with Aberforth and finally the arrival in Hogwarts are all dealt with quite fairly, with only the occasional straying. I had predicted right after the first part that Dumbledore's story would be left out - if Voldemort's history wasn't considered important enough for the movies, why would Dumbledore's family or friendship with Grindelwald be included? When the truth about Snape is revealed, you will have a lump in your throat. I was never as affected by his story in the book as I was when I saw him climb the stairs in the house Godric's Hollow on Halloween all those years ago. A bit of creative liberty on the scriptwriter's part, sure, but oh, it worked. The one moment in the movie where I had tears in my eyes was the same as the book - when Fred, Lupin and Tonks are last seen.

And my absolute favourite scene in the movie? When Harry comes back out of the Pensieve in the Headmaster's office, walks down three steps and sits down heavily on the steps. The background music (which was quite wonderful, by the way) stops, and there's about thirty seconds of silence, with the camera simply focused on Harry, as he realises what he must do next. That's when you realise he really has grown up, and is ready to meet his fate, if you will.

Where the movie falters is in the last half hour - the final battle, in the castle itself. Which is a great pity, because in book that was unnecessarily long and rambling in places, that scene was perhaps the most tightly written and impactful scenes. But the movie takes it all over the place, quite literally. Nagini's end, the battle between Bellatix Lestrange and Molly Weasley, and the final showdown between Harry and Voldemort are all drawn out to such an extent that when the end finally happens, you don't even realise it - that's now little impact it makes.

But the best part of a Friday morning screening of a Harry Potter movie, the day it releases? You get a fabulous fellow-audience, full of hardcore Potter fans. The father and I were surrounded by college kids, who would have grown up reading the books, and who like us, had come to say farewell. So the guy sitting next to me, who had clearly come alone, was muttering just as exasperatedly as me during the final battle. When the intermission was announced at the worst possible moment (well played, you idiots at DT), at least four girls sitting behind me exclaimed in chorus "NOW? Seriously?!?" When Molly Weasley points her wand at Bellatrix Lestrange and shouts, "not my daughter, you bitch", the entire audience was clapping and hooting. And the epilogue ends, and the credits began to roll, all of us burst out into applause.

And so endeth an eleven year long relationship for me, one I'll cherish for a very, very long time.

Finite Incantatem.

Friday, July 08, 2011

The world of G+

I'm feeling left out of the entire Google Plus conversation, so here's my two paisa worth on the new social networking must-have.
  • The way I see it, G+ seems to be the opposite of Twitter. You follow people who want to hear from on twitter; on G+, you add people you want to share with to your circles. Isn't that sorta in-your-face?
  • Facebook is where I keep in touch with people I know IRL, and those online folks who I've connected with beyond twitter and blogs. G+ hasn't caught on with a wider audience yet, so at the moment, most of the people suggested to me are online folks. Doesn't help, because I haven't connected with those many! So my circles are fairly empty at the moment.
  • A lot of it so far seems to be sharing of articles and posts that people are finding interesting. Why do I need another site to do that? I have twitter, GReader, and occasionally, even Facebook. Anything I want to share with the world is adequately shared through these three sites. I don't need another.
  • And my biggest pet peeve: the big USP of G+ was supposed to be the idea of sharing specific things to specific circles. I just shared my first article on G+, and it asked me which circles I wanted to share it with. Here's why that doesn't make sense to me. I may have a circle called College friends, but from the 30-odd people I went to college with, today I'm close to less than people. So I may not want to share with all the 30, no? On Facebook, I have lists similar to circles anyway - School, College, Work, and now B-school. I also have three lists called Severely Restricted, Limited Profile, and Kinda Limited. One gets to see my wall, but nothing of what I post. One gets to see some links that I post, but rarely my status updates, and none of my photos. And the third gets to see most of my status updates and links, but very few of my photos. (I'm a little paranoid, yes.) It doesn't matter where I know you from, it's how well I know that defines what I share with you. So yes, while I could make a Circle saying "People I like and want to share my whole life with" on G+, it's easier to keep people out than bring them in.
Does that make sense?

I do realise that for people who are very active in the whole Social Media, Social Collaboration, and that kind of stuff, will get excited by G+. Google Wave was also made for such people, and was actually a very cool thing - just way ahead of its time, which failed, in my opinion, because the wider audience had no use for it.

I'm part of the wider audience, I think, because any talk of optimizing social media just bores me to death. I'm on the sites I am for interesting stuff to read, and some nice conversations. And I'm very happy with my twitter conversations, thank you. The anonymity I pretend to cling to there comforts me. I don't need a second site for these conversations, especially one where I have to tell the whole world who I am.

Monday, July 04, 2011

What, man?

The mother and her younger brother have an age difference of about 7 years between them. One afternoon, when she was in college, the two of them were at the bus stop, waiting for a bus to take them home and away from the rain. A guy, standing nearby, kept staring at my mother. My uncle, at age 11 or 12, took offense and walked up to the guy and said, "What, man? Can't you see it's raining?"

Decades later, I was in my early teens when the brother and I were making our monthly visit to B.C. Roy's Children's Library in the car. I was sitting in front, giving a last read to the book I was about to return, and didn't really notice when we stopped at a traffic light. When the car started again, my 8-year-old brother piped up from the back seat, "Why were those men in the bus staring at you, Didi?" I shrugged and said I didn't know. "Well, I glared at them and then they stopped."

Protectiveness clearly runs in this family.

I can never say or hear the words "what, man" without bursting into giggles.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Zinda ho tum?

Have you heard this one?
Dilon mein tum apni betaabiyan leke chal rahe ho, toh zinda ho tum
Nazar mein khwaabon ki bijliyan leke chal rahe ho, toh zinda ho tum
Hawa ke jhokon ke jaise aazad rehna seekho
Tum ek dariya ke jaise lehron mein behna seekho
Har ek lamhe se tum milo khole apni baahein
Har ek pal ek naya samaa dekhe yeh nigaahein
Jo apni aankhon mein hayraniyan leke chal rahe ho, toh zinda ho tum
Dilon mein tum apni betaabiyan leke chal rahe ho, toh zinda ho tum
I'm going to be doing the blogging equivalent of thinking aloud in this post, so bear with me a bit, yeah?

I've been listening to the songs of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara on loop for the past few weeks, and something's been bothering me while I listen to them. At least three of the songs talk about "learning to live again". I'm trying to understand why people need to learn to do this.

We're all living, aren't we? We work, we come home, we meet friends, we spend time with family, we spend some time doing things we enjoy. Isn't that living?

Sure, I haven't seen the movie, so maybe there's something that I'm missing. Yes, there are workaholics, people stuck in jobs they hate, people who have no one, and so on - but all of that is also living, isn't it?

I spent three years in a job that I loved. I was a workaholic. I hated a lot of things about it, but I enjoyed the work, and I admired my bosses, and that was enough. And when I was at work, it didn't matter what stresses there were at home - those would recede to the back of my mind for that period. And when I would come home - which, granted, would often be a lot later than it should have been - I was home. I was with my family, or with my friend, or with you guys, on twitter.

That's living for me. I've never had much of a social life, and that's okay for me. I'm not much of a people or a party person. So I've never had the desire to go out and "live", whatever that means.

But there are all these movies, and songs, and posters on tumblr, that keep telling me I should remember to live my life. So I want to know, what does that mean exactly?

I started this post a week back. Since then, I've read this delightful post by @localteaparty, and this morning, read this in my GReader shared items, which in turn reminded me of this one that I'd come across nearly a year ago. All of which are trying to explain the same thing to me I think, but I still want to know: what does go live your life mean exactly?Link
Tell me?