Does Ira Levin promote Misandry?

June 11, 2016 at 7:24 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I would argue that he does – and the blame falls fully on the excellent, thought-provoking book, “The Stepford Wives”.

The book is written from Joanna’s perspective – Joanna moves into Stepford with her husband and two children. The town is seemingly perfect – beautiful homes, nice families, good schools and so on. And like everything seemingly perfect, the malevolence is lurking right below the surface. Levin has done a terrific job of creating the suspense in the books – you cannot put your finger on how he does it, but the tension is created and maintained by Levin. The best writing is the one that makes you feel the characters, to forget that you are reading fiction – and Stepford Wives wins, hands-down at this.

We have many, many instances in the recent past, where Herd Mentality has successfully suppressed a smaller or less powerful group – Stepford Wives presents to you the ultimate herd- that of all men. A herd of men brainwashing each other into idealizing the perfect woman, and going to great lengths to get it. The systematic way the man approach this ideal is nothing short of chilling. Suddenly, your position in the order of things does not seem as secure as you once thought it.

Days after reading the book, I keep getting flashes of Joanna, what she must have felt the day she finally figures out what’s happening. Powerful, powerful writing. And an excellent read.

 

Moscow

April 17, 2016 at 5:28 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Have always wanted to visit Moscow, so there’s little that could make me unhappy about the place. We could have seen more places, but hey, something.

Reserve a day or so for the Red Square. The Red Square is bordered by the Kremlin and Lenin’s mausoleum on one side, St Basil’s on the second, a Mall and a cathedral on the third. You can obviously skip the cathedral outside the kremlin. No great shakes. The Mall was okay, but again, no big deal.

  1. Kremlin.
    Awesome. Reserve atleast half a day. Includes two or so cathedrals – very historic – where most of the tsars are buried
  2. St Basil’s
    Iconic. We did not get to enter – wasnt part of our tour package :(. I wouldnt have minded paying but the time wasnt factored in either
  3. Lenin’s Mausoleum
    Its closed one day of the week – naturally had to be the day we visited.

Others:

  1. The Russian Circus
    The most boring hour or so of my entire life. Please skip. Right outside, however, is a really lovely park. We sneaked out and spent some time over there
  2. Arbat Street
    I liked it. Its lined with these shops selling overpriced souvenirs, but still, interesting.
  3. Moskva River cruise – No big deal. You might get to see this giant size statue of Peter the Great, but thats it.
  4. Tree of locks on the Moskva River – typical, like those in other places, I think (no personal experience of other places, so speculating). I liked it – kinda cute. We found a couple of locks so obviously indian – one with Saraswati, etc
  5. The Metro – you will obviously be moving around in the Metro, so dont know why I need to mention this, but anyway. The stations really are beautiful.

Thats it, I think we vistited one other cathedral whose name I cant remember. Really sorry about this shoddy, rushed job, but suddenly realized most of my photos have been wiped out. Cant for the life of me imagine how. Will check suresh’s phone and see if I can find other photos.

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St. Petersburg

April 17, 2016 at 5:13 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lovely, lovely city. Awesome to simply walk around.

We visited:

  1. Peterhof
    https://goo.gl/photos/rXe5MtsuEmJ5XYoi7
    Loved peterhof. The fountains and gardens were brilliant.
    But if you are tired of palaces, am not sure you will find it so exciting. Plus both Peterhof and Catherine’s Palace are a good hour – hour and a half away from SPB.
  2. Tsarskoye Selo – Catherine the Great’s Palace. Nice place, but the highlight is supposedly the Amber Room, which is covered with amber inlays. Skip it if you are tired of palaces.
  3. The following places near the Neva River:
    a. Hermitage – its got amazing work, incl one small sculpture by Michaelangelo and a couple of paintings by Leonardo da Vinci and the other Italian masters. Gets crowded, though. Entry can be time consuming
    b.  Peter and Paul’s Cathedral. This is obviously of interest to most people – this is where The last of the Romanovs are buried.
    c. St Isaac’s cathedral – the jokers did not take us here – soooo annoying. But Amma loved it.
    d. The Neva Itself – its got a nice park along side, a good place to generally walk around

We visited a mall, and thats about all we did in SPB. I used to walk around in the city while the others were having their lunches and their dinners. Hey, and Dostoevsky is from SPB and his house is a museum. You can visit it if you want.

 

The Namesake

January 24, 2016 at 4:28 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I have read Lahiri’s The Interpreter of Maladies earlier – about 5-6 years ago. But somehow, never got my hands on The Namesake. Strange, because  I had always heard more about The Namesake than about Lahiri’s Pulitzer winning opus. In fact, while reading Maladies, I barely even registered the fact that this was one of the most celebrated books in this (fairly narrow) genre. Not that I did not like it – I did, very much. But like is not really a word I would associate with Maladies (or even The Namesake, for that matter). The undercurrent of darkness, sorrow and flux in her characters rings too true and too close to home for me to like.

This ringing close to home is probably what makes her writing so powerful. Lahiri excels at evoking emotion. We feel for the characters, we feel with the characters.

This was how I experienced The Namesake. Not that I was always sympathetic to the characters. Every time Gogol’s extreme dissatisfaction with his name, one feels like giving him a smack on the head. Oh come on, get a life! So much of the existential angst seems so unnecessary! But one still feels for Gogol, which is quite brilliant! I do not need to sympathize with Gogol to be able to empathize with him!

No character is purely white or black, and Lahiri has the gift of making us appreciate  each character. I might not like Moushumi, but I really get her!  And once I understand her, its pretty much impossible to hate her. The need to conform, the need for familial approval constantly at war with the need to rebel, to gel with friends in an adopted culture is a constant theme, and one with Lahiri manages very very deftly.

A lovely read!

Missing my 20-s

November 30, 2015 at 7:59 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I got married when I was 23. Gosh, Just a kid, I think now. Though it did not seem all that young, back then – when does it ever? Arranged by my parents. I had my issues, but finally shut and walked through it.

I remember once returning home, a couple of months after the wedding, and feeling happy about going to someone. You were not adrift anymore, right? A sense of not been cut out. A sense of having a home, actually. A good part of that was relief – the process of meeting some one, trying to figure out if they were good for you, ugh!

Now, 12 years later, the regrets creep in. Slowly. I miss having the world open for me. When we get married we trade something to get that sense of belonging. Well, sometimes I miss that something. At 35, I feel like I am a staid old 70. Sheesh. This feels like existence. I want to live. 

 

 

Soundbites from Guj 2012

December 20, 2012 at 6:39 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

P Chidambaram – “I consider this a victory for the congress” – wait… 60 odd seats out of 182!! Chidambaram’s mathematical genius continues after his treatise on zero. For more information, please refer the unreal times . 

Ravi Shankar Prasad, when asked about BJP’s next Prime Ministeria Candidate by Arnab Goswami – “Who will be the Congress’ leader? Rahul Gandhi, Chidambaram or Arnab Goswami?”

P Chidambaram (again!) – “Modi has been contained”. Er… to only 115 out of 182… for the THIRD time??

The Emperor’s new clothes – The Congress (I) Redux

March 6, 2012 at 10:42 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

So the tailors promised a new set of clothes for the emperor. The emperor strutted his stuff on counting day. And gasp! Some kids masquerading as news channel reporters actually had the temerity to point out that the emperor was not wearing any clothes, new or otherwise.s

In the fairy tales, of course, as we all know, the emperor wised up. He became smarter and less gullible, and governed  his subjects with common sense.

This being the Congress version, the story doesn’t quite pan out that way.

People kept pointing out that there were no clothes. But the emperor and his coterie insisted that the clothes were there, they were actually better. Akin to chinese water torture. If you keep insisting on something for long enough, however ridiculous it may be, people will start believing it. I mean, if big brother could make Winston believe that four equals five…

Remake killed the original…

June 30, 2010 at 9:18 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Again.
This time, the culprit – High Society. And the victim – the much beloved Philadelphia Story. I mean, who ever thought Grace Kelly could match the peerless Katharine Hepburn? Philadelphia Story is one of my favorites from my TCM obsessed days. Crisp, Witty, Smart and really, really watchable. I saw philadelphia story over ten years ago, and still remember most of it – which made my High Society experience all the more unpalatable. Grace Kelly – Frank Sinatra – Bing Crosby Vs Hepburn – James Stewart – Cary Grant? No prizes for guessing who won. Hands down. The NYTimes calls High Society ““flimsy as a gossip-columnist’s word”. Amen.

The Good Woman

June 14, 2010 at 9:06 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

If ever there could be a movie rendered unwatchable on account of dirt poort casting, this would be it

Recipe for Disaster – Take one piece, a beloved play (try Lady Windermere’s Fan), one piece lousy scriptwriter (one who can convert the wit, the satire and the tang of Oscar Wilde, mangle that into part serious, part tosh, complete drivel). Take a generous dollop of “adapting to the times”. Mix these top em up with super secret ingredients – An American director and, the piece de resistance, Scarlett Johansson.

Oh come on, how could anyone, any f***** moron have Scarlett Johanssen play Lady Windermere? How could you even think of her in the same breath?? It beggars logic, it really does.
Lady WIndermere’s Fan has multiple characters, some straight forward (Lord & Lady Windermere), some complex (Mrs Erlynne). The overarching characteristic of Lady Windermere is her innocence. She is the Original sweet english rose, so to speak. She kisses the portrait of her mother evey night – the mother she thought had died more than 16 years back! Wikipedia uses the word “demure” to describe her, for God’s sake! She loves her husband, and when she suspects him of adultery, she confronts him. There is no “intelligently handling the situation” tosh for her. What you see is what you get. How does Scarlett Johanssen fit the bill here?
And Helen Hunt as Mrs. Erlynne? Goodness gracious me! The only commonality is probably on the name – Mrs. Erlynne is the eternal Helen of Troy. The ageless beauty. The phoenix who constantly reinvents herself. She is a survivor. Helen Hunt? The strength of character that is intrinsic to Mrs. Erlynne seems to have been completely forgotten

The movie has succeeded in hacking thoroughly and completely, the wonderful memories I had of Lady Windermere… in particular, and Oscar Wide in specific. Wilde would have turned over in his grave at the utter disgrace of the spectacle. A brilliant, sharp, social satire reduced to an insipid, uninspiring floss. The superb characters, all so finely etched by Wilde have been reduced to mere shadows of their glittering selves.

Murder, she said!

Weight Troubles

June 3, 2010 at 6:28 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pretty much every other person in office has now asked me when I am due. Can’t get offended, coz I know I look like I should be calling the hospital anytime now. I look pretty much like how I looked when I delivered sanj (yes, at NINE months THEN). This girl at office (she’s at 5mos and DOESNT SHOW A THING! – How I hate her!) asked me – “How many months are you on, Aish?”. “Only six”, I said, “and only one”.
“huh?”
“Only six months, and only one baby – no twins, triplets, quadruplets or otherwise”.

Sanj – “Why is your tummy so big, Amma?”.
I had an answer, ofcourse I did – “Because there is a baby in there” (Hah, blame it on the baby, not on the fact that you ate like a pig the last month).
Sanj – “How big is the baby”
What is this, the Spanish inquisition?
“Baby is small” and I disappear before the next (and very obvious and embarrassing) question comes along.

And Suresh this morning! “You look like one of those Seth ladies”. Seth, of course, is the generic name applied to N. Indians in Chennai, specifically to Marwaris. Suresh hasn’t ever seen a slim Marwari lady, every.
I was genuinely horrified. Okay, I am fat. But comparing me to a lady who sits and cooks and watches Soaps on Zee Cinema, doesnt speak any language other than hindi… Jeez, thats just too bad! “No, no”, he rushes to paper his cracks, “Don’t worry, another 6 or so months and then you can start gymming, walking etc etc and will be back to your old self in no time!”
Okay, the “Old self” I think of weighed 56 Kilos and was 27 years old. From here, that seems continents away. And gymming to get to there is like taking a quick walk to Timbuktu. Three months to go, only three months, I keep telling myself

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