31 January 2010

Fair and lovely

One of my friends had once commented on my posts that I do not take a clear stand about the issue. I only discuss the issue from all possible points of view. Here's a warning that this post could seem the same. The only comment I wish to make in my defense- if it seems so, it is because I have not yet formed a clear affinity with any of the opining parties on the subject under discussion.

I belong to the category that was not blessed with a fair complexion by birth. My grandma says that my mom was so fair when she was born that perfect strangers used to stop and ask if she was really her daughter! Same is the case with my sis-in-law(SIL). She is what they call wheat-complexioned, but her hubby, or rather his parents, are very fair. Their daughter takes after that side of the family and looks much fairer than my SIL. So much so that when she used to wheel her toddler's pram to the park, people used to think her the 'aaya' of the baby! My grandmother used to tell me in my childhood that I should apply multani mitti or turmeric and saffron cream to my face to make my skin glow. According to her, I would not get a decent groom otherwise. I can well understand her anxiety - having had to marry off five daughters all by herself (my grandpa passed away even before the eldest was married), she was habituated to hand out such advice.

So, since my childhood, I've hankered after the elusive gori chamdi. I am sure all the folks, especially girls, who are not so well-endowed in the skin color department will empathize with me:) Believe me, 'dusky' maybe in, but even those divas secretly envy the fair damsels. Some smart businessman decided to productize grandma's fairness formula and market it to such desperate souls. And that's where the saga of fairness creams, gels, facials etc. began. It has now taken over the population to such an extent that even TV commercials advocate their use for sparkling at job interviews and brightening prospects in the marriage market. Well-known celebrities unabashedly endorse this.

Despite movies being made on racism, and gyaan being imparted on how the color of skin does not matter - the fact remains that everyone wants to be fair-skinned. Would-be moms partake of milk-with-saffron during their pregnancy so that their babies would be born fair. Drinking coconut water too is advised for the same. When a daughter-in-law is seen by her in-laws, their first comment usually is "ladki gori hai" or "ladki kaali hai". Infact, I loved the dialogue in the film "Lajja" where Anil Kapoor tells Mahima Chaudhary - "Ladka chaahe kaala bhoot kyon na ho, usey biwi gori hi chahiye!"

Many have jumped onto the fairness bandwagon willy-nilly. Some due to family or society pressures, some due to their own insecurities. But after a certain age, they all realize that this obsession about complexion isn't really worth it. Or is it? Well, the jury is still out on that. Despite my grandma's concerns, and my own, for that matter, I did enjoy my share of attention in college. And I am now married to a very fair hubby. Now, now, don't be quick to judge...

30 January 2010

Sherlock Holmes

I've always loved Sherlock Holmes books. His keen observation and sharp analytical skills made him a true legend. I also love Agatha Christie books; she apparently was not much impressed with Sherlock Holmes though. So she created a total antithesis of him in looks as well as style - Hercule Poirot. Someone who is a dandy as opposed to Holmes' total neglect of hygiene and apparel and who abhors typical detective tools and habits such as going down on his knees to look for foot and finger prints.

But, this post is about Holmes. His various idiosyncrasies, his restless intellect, scary mood swings, penchant for experimenting with drugs on himself as well as his dog, his peculiar friendship with Dr. Watson and his restrained obsession with his female adversary - Irene Adler. The script-writer has stuck to the basics loyally but has let his imagination run riot to make Holmes into a modern-day Bond-like figure. He has taken some liberties in both the picturization as well as characterization of Holmes and all the other characters. Director Guy Ritchie lends full support to bring alive this imagination. The pace of the movie is fast and gripping. Holmes and Watson are much more physically active and adventurous. Revolvers and pistols are seen, and used, often throughout the movie. Also, both Holmes and Watson are much more vulnerable to emotions of friendship and love. Even Holmes' home - 221B Baker street is quite aesthetic. It must've been a treat to watch this movie on a big screen.

The story itself is not from any of the usual cases of Sherlock Holmes. It is about black magic and threatens to disappoint by dueling between magic and science. Holmes' preoccupation with Adler takes away from his larger-than-life and eccentric personality. But, Ritchie does not digress from the original character traits; though his treatment is vastly different and quite refreshing. Makes you think what if Arthur Conan Doyle had portrayed his hero in such a light? What if Holmes had a romantic soul alongwith his keenly analytical mind?

Tight direction, interesting story and some great action makes this a must-watch thriller.

25 January 2010

Ignorance of ability is the disability

Ever come across beggars when you stop at a traffic signal? What are the emotions that run through your mind? Pity? Disgust? Anger? Or just plain apathy?

I came across this beautiful video clip today. It is true that a picture is worth a thousand words. And this picture will convey all that I want to say-


video

09 January 2010

Avatar: Movie review

We've seen a lot of Hindi movies with English names, viz. Black, New York etc. But for the first time, an English movie with a Hindi name! And what a movie!

It has multiple themes - sci-fi, futuristic, war action, fantasy, romance & message for humanity. Its a brilliantly made movie - not only because of the technology used, and shown, in the movie; but also because all these different themes are sensitively inter-woven to make an extremely entertaining and paisa-vasool film.

James Cameroon switches gears from the past(Titanic) to the future(year 2154). By then, people of earth have frittered away all their natural resources, there is not a tree to be found anywhere and they are seeking minerals from other planets to survive. They target one such moon, belonging to another planet - Pandora. The vividness with which a parallel world has been brought alive along with its verdant greenery, earth-like creatures and tribal customs is mind blowing;. Yet it also gives a feeling that our own Earth was perhaps like this at the beginning of civilization. The movie has a bizarre amalgamation of an ultra-modern world complete with robots & state-of-the-art war ammunition and the rustic & spiritual world of the local Na'vi people. The movie flits between the two worlds in the form of the protagonist's 'Avatar'. The shrewd Earth folks have mastered the technology of creating 'Avatars' of human beings, who can breathe and look as the local Na'vi people. The strategy is to use this 'spy' to infiltrate the locals, gain their trust and thereby convince them to leave their paradise so that humans can steal the minerals below their soil. Somewhere along the line though, the sleeping 'humanity' creeps up on the protagonist and he helps the aliens to wage a war against his own race.

A beautiful movie - not only because of the breath-takingly lovely forest land and its inmates, but also in its message of anti-war and of protecting our Mother Earth. The dialog is quite potent in some places and the performances are excellent too. A must-watch movie, especially in a cinema hall - make sure to eat before going or carry your food in, as you will be glued to the seat once the movie begins!

06 January 2010

Photography

I've always been shy of being photographed. I belong to the category of people who think that their photos never come out well. A fact proved true in my case as at least a couple of people have commented that photography does not do justice to my fair features(Blush!). Ever since childhood I've hated looking at photo albums - especially those of other people. One of my pet peeves is when someone offers to show me their photo album, then points to a photograph full of school children and asks me to guess where he/she is! I remember one of my ex-managers had done this and all my colleagues had taken it up as a challenge. There was endless discussion over tea and lunch breaks and even I was forced to use my wits in order to identify him. My guess worked - I don't take any credit for that; it was just a fluke :)

At least in the earlier days, one could get away with murmuring a few appropriate words on seeing photos. But nowadays, a lot of people have started taking an avid interest in photography as an hobby. A lot of my friends know about the technical aspects of photography, the makes of latest cameras and even have accounts with online photo album sites. So, if you show them a photo, instead of commenting on the subject, they comment on the (shabby) quality of the photography! I had recently come from a trip abroad and was all agog with excitement to share photos with a friend. His first comment was - you guys have used too much flash; you need to experiment more with your camera! Suffice it to say that anyone who cared to photograph me in that instance would have landed a Kodak moment. And heaven forbid if, when you are presented with someone's photo, you do not ask which camera or what angle was used to take it. Whether you ask or not, you are subjected to a detailed lecture on the same.

I sincerely fail to understand why everyone is so hell-bent on showing off their photography skills. Its a creative art, I agree, but then so is computer programming. Imagine, if a programmer of a software game were to launch into technical jargon about the technology and design patterns used to write the game! Would a consumer of the game be interested in that? To me, a photo is just a way of capturing a moment for future reference. I believe that was what it was invented for originally. But nowadays, especially with the advent of digital cameras, people click away with gay abandon without a concern for the 'capturability' of the moment. They literally watch the scene through the camera lens rather than through their naked eye. It completely beats me what all this hullabaloo is all about.

Thanks to my husband though, I've started taking some interest in the art and craft of photography. I've learned that photos need to have a 'theme'. Photos can tell a lot about the subject as well as the photographer's train of thought. It is an intelligent art. I am now actually able to discern between the good and bad photos. And yes, I've come to realize that the quality of the photo does not necessarily depend on the subject; it rests more with the photographer. It all boils down to the comfort level between the photographer and his subject. And so I've begun to like my photos, especially those taken by my hubby:)

Would like to mention regarding a book that first exposed me to the significance of photography - The Bridges of Madison County. Its a sad, romantic tale of a married woman and a photographer who works for the National Geographic. The descriptions of the photos taken by him, which eventually lead her children to find him are very vivid and soulful. A must read.

05 January 2010

The neurons that shaped civilization

Ever wondered how you can 'empathize' with another human being? For the uninitiated, 'empathy' means to feel the pain felt by another without actually experiencing it. This has been attributed to something called mirror neurons.

The discovery of mirror neurons is fairly recent. I came across this video and wanted to share it. Neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran outlines the fascinating functions of mirror neurons in this video and calls them the connection between brain and humanity. A must watch.

What is love?

So much has been written about that king of emotions called "Love". Whether it is romantic love or love for one's children......