Pondering, as usual.

Sometimes I wonder whether my destiny is written or am I just randomly and aimlessly walking through a maze of tasks and situations that life has to offer me. There has to be a pattern, right? Or else why would we just exist, doing the things we do, meeting the people we meet, share meals or even just breathe? It’s all connected, to be honest. Thinking that is precisely what keeps me going, day after day (and night after night).

Would you agree/disagree with me and share your insights on the same?

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‘Take me to church’ is haunting.

I find the lyrics to this song by the Irish singer Hozier haunting and compelling. It is supposed to talk of homosexuality and the struggles that such relationships face in the modern day and age, but well, the way the words have been strung together by the writer of the song, is quite remarkable and struck a chord with me. “Offer me that deathless death” is a phrase that somehow sticks in my mind and makes me ponder over the meaning of things. Even the music video, rendered in black and white and featuring large number of outdoor and field sequences impressed me visually and was a perfect accompaniment to the actual tune. I find myself humming the words every so often and this just proves the impact that good music can have on the mind and soul.

I just happened to read an article about the same and the deeper meaning that the song tries to convey. Beautiful, is all that I have got to say.

A Review of the new Netflix series ‘Alias Grace’

I happened to chance upon a preview of this particular new show when I opened my Netflix homepage last evening. I was hoping to watch something fresh and appealing to me having previously watched some serious movies over the course of last week. That is when the preview of Alias Grace beheld me and I made my way through it.

I found that it is an adaptation of the book of the same name written by Margaret Atwood, whom I had earlier found out about through Google as being a prominent writer of literary fiction in modern times. I had seen a sample of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ written by her on my Kindle reader and now I found a copy of ‘Alias Grace’ as well.

Well, coming to the storyline, the show consists of six episodes which tracks the early teenage to late adult life of a woman called Grace Marks, an ordinary maid working in a 19th century set-up in upper Canada. She was a poor Irish immigrant who was stationed at the Kingston Penetentiary at Kingston, Ontario for 15 years having spent her early childhood years in Ireland. The central idea of the story is her imprisonment for the convicted murder of her employer Thomas Kinnear whom she used to work for after the death of her dear friend of early teenage Mary Whitney when she was serving in the Kingston Penetentiary. Mary had died of uncontrolled bleeding after her to-be husband refused to take her in, knowing that she was expecting and needed care and support. He refused to marry her and so she went to a doctor who cut her up and told her that everything would be fine, but later that night she bled to death. The next morning, while clearing the room, Grace forgets to open the window to ‘let Mary’s soul out’. This has repurcussions later on because at the end of the tale, the spirit of Mary possesses Grace when she is hypnotized before the Committee who had charged her of murder.

The most amount of screen time is given to the conversations between Dr. Simon Jordan, the therapist who is hired to determine whether Grace is actually responsible for the murder of her employer or whether she is just a hysteric and not a criminal. Grace tells the doctor the entire story of her life including her alliance with James McDermott with whom she was accused of killing Kinnear and his mistress Nancy Montgomery. The doctor is even somewhat smitten by her beauty and gentle manners but he cannot reveal this to her. Finally, at the end of the entire series of events, Grace is hypnotized and ‘put to sleep’ by Dr. DuPont, a neuro-hypnotist who is actually previously known to her as a peddler during her young years. She sits before a committee of people who were involved in her trial, including Dr. Jordan, who wishes to see what she speaks of while in a trance. This is when she starts to speak in a different tone of voice and everyone realizes that she is possessed by a spirit. The spirit actually turns out to be that of Mary because Grace had forgotten to free her soul after her death that fateful night. Mary explains that she had possessed Grace on the day of the murder and driven McDermott to kill the landlord and his wife, while Grace did not remember anything. Dr.Jordan concludes that Grace had a double personality with two people residing within her but refuses to present a report before the Committee about it.

Eventually, Grace does gets pardoned and is freed from captivity in the asylum. She changes her name and is taken to the United States where she re-unites with an old admirer of hers during her working days, Jamie Walsh who wishes to marry her. She lives the rest of her days living in the farm taking care of the animals and sewing quilts.

I found the show quite engaging and thought-provoking and was a change from present-day TV series which focus on superheroes and their powers as opposed to this one which is set completely in the Victorian era of the 19th century and employs old English and Scottish accents. The storyline was actually full of elements of mystery and suspense. I am sure that the book must be as engaging as it’s adaptation on screen and am planning to read it when time permits.

What is the deal, really?

So, my thoughts for the week rest upon some basic facts. We go about our daily tasks, see things, know things, learn things.. but do we ponder upon whether our actions are justifiably so? Why do we do what we do?

From where does the speech come from…what we say, act upon and react upon. What makes us say all those things and why do we think so differently from one another..these may seem like trivial things but actually are what constitute our day to day experiences.

I often think about whether everything is fated to be in a certain manner or it is just a collection of random instances. If you fail at something then is it only because even though you put in a great amount of effort, you didn’t do enough..or is it just not meant to be..? Sometimes you really can’t make things work for you in the way that you wish, no matter how much you try for it. If it’s not supposed to happen, it won’t.

Me trying my level best to achieve something will all go to waste if at the end I see that it’s not working out. That is when one feels the most disappointed.

Then there are those heavy things that you really need to accept in life…bitter and unpleasant conditions and situations that you just can’t ignore, because they exist. They ARE your reality.

The catch is to move on, be positive and accept it all, because that is how God wills it to be.

Books- Our unfaltering companions

This writeup is a validation of my respect and admiration for books in general…all kinds, be it fiction, non-fiction, reference, self-help, biographies, guides and even comics.

Here I don’t refer to the e-books or e-copies of novels, but the actual hardcover/ paperback versions of stories and other writings published by ordinary people who just want to tell a tale to the outside world. The more I read, the more I realize that each individual has so much to say, talk about and convey to the person at the opposite end who is giving some of his time to ‘hearing’ about what he/she has to say. Umpteen opinions and viewpoints flow through each piece of writing and it tends to gather an equally diverse amount of reaction from the audience who may either love it, like it or utterly dislike it.

Whether we think that reading a certain book has enriched and informed us, or whether we think that it was a waste of time, it actually matters that we get to know about the thought process of another person. I feel so because after all we as a community of human beings need to understand each other, the way we think and how our experiences affect us. A real society is based on effective understanding of the people who are its elements, and what better way than to put words to paper?

Speaking has its limitations. Obviously, using your vocal power to share your thoughts with other people directly will inform them the message at that point in time, but would it really stay for long, and more importantly, can one go back to listening to the same words again to get a better understanding, unless it is a recorded piece of talk?

With books, articles and journals, you can go back again and again at your leisure to assimilate what the author has put down and further discuss, debate and analyze what you read. You can carry a book around with you anywhere, open it anytime and start reading it without any hesitation or opposition. It is totally up to you to form an opinion about what you read, something which is unique for every person. No two people will have the exact same reaction to the piece of writing.

Talking about genres, I feel that after a certain age it is important to read all kinds of books and not just stories to develop a holistic thought process. As a child, my main objective of reading a ‘story-book’ was to develop my vocabulary and to a certain extent learn about the lives of kids in other parts of the world. Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl and C.S Lewis let me into the world of adventure-seeking children and the never-a-dull-moment lives they led.

But of course, later on I realized that there is much more to reading than just that. Fantasy fiction is just one kind of writing. There are biographies and accounts which tell the tales of hardship, poignant accounts of growing up amid difficult situations and the actual experiences of the author that can inform you what reality is like in ways that you don’t know about because you have not led a life like that. These writings just serve to expand your thinking and horizons beyond your four-walled room, as does fantasy fiction, but in a more real way. Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’, Helen Keller’s ‘Story of my Life’ and Gandhi’s ‘Experiments with Truth’ do just the same.

And then, I cannot forget to mention self-help and guide books that help us make our way through the challenges that we face in life, teach ourselves about things we don’t know but are ready and willing to learn about and for which we don’t have to bother others and take up their time! ‘The Secret’, ‘7 habits of highly-effective People’ and ‘I’m ok, You’re ok’ are three titles that fall into the category.

Last but not the least, comics are a whole different and amazing genre of reading that can help one pass time in an engaging and immersive way, specially because they are totally pictorial, allowing us to see the situation in the actual way the author imagines it. There are both children’s comics and adult comics offering a variety of themes and titles to choose from, with no end to new content which brings with it fan-theories and interpretations. Who doesn’t know about ‘Tintin’, ‘Tinkle’, ‘Asterix’, DC and Marvel collections and even the now widely popular Game of Thrones’ official comic book?

What I am basically trying to convey, is that reading is an activity which is as old as time and should remain forever with us. We should not stop the habit and replace it by merely spending unnecessary time on social media, games and other gadgets. The joy of reading a good book and leafing through its pages again and again to feel its worth is precious. However, I am a bit worried that this will come to an end in the near future with new tech-based hobbies coming up every single day that are a much less enriching alternative. 

To the West coast and back

I’d say I had the good fortune to stay in the ‘city of stars’/ ‘city of dreams’ or whatever you would like to call Bombay/ Mumbai for a month and a half, having been told to pursue an internship in the field of my choice.  Initially, about two months before I had been totally unsure about where I was going to go for summer training, a necessary requirement as a part of our curriculum at university. Fortunately, with the help of a personal contact of my family, I was accepted to work at an ad film production house in Bombay for the aforementioned duration. I was thrilled to have gotten the opportunity and to visit a new city, although I had been there in the early years of my life as a visitor to my close relatives’ place in Powai. Now, I could go there again and be part of the hustle and bustle of the second most important metropolitan city, the financial capital of India and what not. And being older and an adult, I had the liberty to explore the city with my friends next to me, who were working there too!

My experience was enriching and refreshing to say the least. I found it to be a nice change from Kolkata, where I currently reside, and many things that came my way were new such as a living in a paying guest accommodation and having to do everything on your own, from thinking about the next meal to washing clothes and buying groceries. And that was just the beginning. I commuted to office taking an auto from my place and being stuck in the traffic jam at an Andheri signal for twenty minutes or so was an everyday affair.  Further, working in an office was very new for me.  The fact that everything about the office environment was so different from that of college or university really struck me. My seniors were patient with me, explaining me the work and then pointing out my mistakes as they happened.  Most importantly, I got a good idea of how a production company functions and was able to observe and experience many a new things hitherto unknown to me.

Then of course came the part where we went around the city and had a good time. It involved eating out, dancing, drinking and sightseeing. Many of the things were unique to the city and many experiences made us realize what we were missing all this time. It all began with visiting the Imagica water park where we had the best time splashing around in the artificial pools and rivers. Shopping at Linking Road in Bandra, Phoenix Marketcity, sitting at Marine drive and eating at the delicious pizza joint opposite it, looking at Gateway of India and the Colaba Causeway spree were the highlights of my outings with friends. Other than that, I got to visit the prestigious TIFR and take a tour around it’s campus, took a drive across the Bandra-Worli sea link and got a good glance of Amitabh Bachchan at his Juhu residence! 😉 Chilling at Fun Republic Social will also be missed. I took both the overhead metro and the local trains on different occasions and was impressed by the precise timing followed by them.

Now that I’m back home and it’s been a week, flashes of the city keep coming back and remind me of all the little things that happened over two months and all the people I met there. Yes, I’m probably getting the “Bombay Blues”..

 

Fans, Fiction, and Representation: A New Hope

Interesting..

Longreads

There’s something about Star Wars: The Force Awakens that feels both delightful and urgent, as if it were both a joy to create and a story that must be told at this particular moment in history. People who lined up to see the film when it released last December—and then immediately bought tickets to see it again—are now buying the DVD or Blu-Ray or streaming version so they can watch The Force Awakens for the fifth (or tenth) time at home. They’re also creating fanart, writing their own narratives, and celebrating the idea that the Hero’s Journey has been opened up to a new group of heroes.

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Daily Prompt: Capable

via Daily Prompt: Capable

“Capability”  defines our worth, how much and what we are able to achieve in life. To be capable of doing something simply means the ability to perform and complete a task successfully. How much one is capable of doing something depends mainly on skill and expertise, but also things such as age, in some cases gender and of course, circumstances. One may be otherwise capable of doing something, but due to the prevailing circumstances he/she is not able to. In that case, we would consider that person to be capable but unlucky.

Obviously, being capable is a good thing. The more capable one is, the better for his/her overall personal development and standing in society. However, this does not mean that a person incapable of performing something is completely worthless. Not everybody is perfectly able to complete every task bestowed upon them and one should be given appropriate time to learn and grow.

To be capable, we all need to be patient and keep honing our skills and be open to acquiring the ever-increasing pool of knowledge that the world has to offer. 🙂

Kayaking at Eco Park

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to witness a slightly windy, but perfectly sunny day to go out for an outing with friends. Having nothing to do after the semester exams ended last week, I suggested that we pay a visit to Ecological, otherwise known as ‘Eco’ park situated in Rajarhat on the outskirts of Kolkata. It is hardly a  40 minutes distance from my home and moreover my friend has his own car so it would be no big deal for him to pick me up. With Sumit and me joined another school friend of his, Akash who studies in Chennai but visits Kolkata, his hometown every new year.

So, at around 2 in the afternoon I was picked up from my place and then with Akash in the backseat we drove straight to Eco Park for an enlightening afternoon.

It is quite a picturesque location, with green grass and long sidewalks all along and was pretty decently occupied with holiday-makers and even a large group of schoolchildren. However, after paying 20 rupee fee we walked in and started making our way to where the rides and activities were going on.

There is a large water-body to be found at one side of Eco Park on which you will most likely find large floating Zorb-balls, transparent balloons into which one could fit oneself and jump around in the water as a form of recreation and excercise. 017020

We, the three of us, initially decided to try out Archery, a non-water sport but one which requires great skill nonetheless. Each of us could target the board a total of 5 times each and so after buying the ticket worth 50 bucks, we took turns to shoot at the aim.

Although none of us shot successfully at the bull’s eye, I got pretty close to one of the centre rings at my third shot.

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After those 5 rounds, Sumit suggested that we go Kayaking! I was surprised to find it as one of the sports available in that place, it being one of the not-so-regular activities found in India. Akash didn’t wish to take part, so it was just Sumit and me who ended up sitting in a 2-seater narrow and long kayak made of wood most likely. We “set sail” and went all around the water body for a duration of 30 minutes. It was probably the most funhat day with us rocking against the waves yet making our way through with the paddles. We did get the hang of it by the end!

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After this particular experience, we did not stay for much longer because it was nearing sun-down. So instead we went bowling at City Centre 2, which is also closeby to Eco Park.

On the whole, I had an awesome day with some new friends I made recently 🙂