Just Out of The Coma

*treads lightly*

*trying to find my footing*

*stumbles, gets up*

*starts over again*

Clearly, I’m feeling a little lost. Like I’m trying to relearn something that was familiar but feels so strange now. Which isn’t far from the truth, of course. Anyway, here goes.

Sometime when I was in high school, I read about Alex Garland’s The Coma in a magazine.  And, immediately added it to my mental to-read list. The basic plot goes something like this: it starts with the protagonist being attacked by a group of men, one night, following which he falls into a coma. The rest of the book is just him and his consciousness talking, trying to make sense of reality and dreams. I’m sure the magazine must have put it in a much more interesting way, but, well, you get the idea.

It took almost ten years for me to get hold of that book but I finally read it a few days ago. And absolutely loved it, by the way. But then, I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. I can’t seem to take up another book because I’m still sort of stuck in The Coma. And I felt compelled to write about it, atleast as a way of closure if nothing else (I love books that do that to me!).

When I started off with the book, I remember wondering why it wasn’t made into a movie, considering it deals with a gripping subject. You know, with all the talk about conscious and subconscious, it could neatly fit into the same category as Stay, for instance. However, as I read on, I realized why it couldn’t (and shouldn’t) be a movie.

From the start till the end, all you know about the character is his name (Carl). You don’t know where he is from, what his profession is, what he looks like or even what the other people in the book look like! Much like in a dream, the places and situations just keep shifting constantly, leaving you feeling disoriented. And intrigued. This vague, hazy plot definitely couldn’t be a movie. And, even if it were made into one, it would make absolutely no sense (I’m still trying to understand the ending, in fact).

And. yet, I loved the book. Why? I really don’t know. The first thing that struck me as interesting was that the pages weren’t numbered. It may not seem like a big deal but then, it takes off the sense of order that page numbers could give (and that works perfectly for the dream-like sequences), adding to the confusion. Maybe I loved it because it’s so unconventional. Or, perhaps, because it makes sense and yet doesn’t. Because there’s no right or wrong by which you can judge what Carl goes through. And, because, in a lot of ways, it made me question my own perceptions of reality, consciousness and life. So much so that, at a certain point, I looked up from the book, glanced around and wondered if the place and situation I was in were real or a dream (not kidding!).

If I had to pick out a favourite part (like I always do at the end of a book-rant), it would be this one, where Carl sums up how we’re all basically consciousnesses in a void:

“..if I were to lose an arm in an accident, I’d still be me. They wouldn’t say, he used to be Carl, then he lost an arm, now he’s John.

And, if, in another accident, I lost the other arm, the same would be true. Likewise with my legs, my sight, my hearing, my speech, my sense of touch. You could keep going, keep stripping me down, until I was only a consciousness, suspended in a void.

But, take away the consciousness, and suddenly I’m gone. Carl is no more. And take away the consciousness but leave the body, leave the full complement of arms and legs, and I’m still gone.”

PS: I found this interestingly similar review online – Consciousness in the void – Business Standard

Happy. Thank you. More Please!

I’m home (read: RAK) for two weeks! I have been reading, talking to my bratty sister, devouring mom’s awesome food and, well, having a good time! In short, I am happy. It sounds almost surreal to say that. But I actually am happy. For now, atleast. Anyway, so, I have also been watching quite a lot of movies. Last day, I happened to watch one that I really, badly wanted to blog about. So, here I am. Sometimes, amidst the flurry of superhero, horror, thriller, comedy, drama and romance movies, you come across something refreshing. Predictable yet different. Happythankyoumoreplease (2010) was one such movie for me. It’s a romance-comedy-drama film that I stumbled upon while checking out some other flick in IMDB. The synopsis seemed interesting and I added it to my to-watch list. For the past 3-4 months, it had been gathering virtual dust in my laptop, until I decided to watch it yesterday. And I’m glad I did! There are three parallel stories in the film, told seamlessly, delving into the lives, relationships and problems of a handful of characters. Sam (Josh Radnor, who is also the director-writer) is a struggling writer who develops a complicated friendship with a lost child. His best friend, Annie (Malin Akerman), an Alopecia patient, tries to fix her messed up self-image and, in turn, her love life. Sam’s cousin, Mary Catherine (Zoe Kazan) and her boyfriend face certain problems in their relationship. Also in the picture is Mississippi (Kate Mara) – a charming, young waitress with issues of her own – who Sam falls for. OK, so, I know it sounds completely cliché. I agree, it is. And yet, I absolutely loved it. It felt like a breath of fresh air to me with its simple premise and extremely likeable, not to mention relatable, characters. I really don’t know why I found it so good. Maybe it just happened at the right time, like, I probably needed something light after the bout of “heavy” movies I had been watching. Perhaps, it’s because I found a genuinely feel-good movie after a long time. Or, maybe, it’s truly as awesome as I think it is! Whatever be the reason, it doesn’t really matter. Because the bottom line is: I loved the movie! It’s refreshing, light, happy, warm and…(the best part) even uplifting, in some ways. I think I could see bits and pieces of myself in the characters and their difficulties. The dialogues are another aspect I really liked. Sample this: “I realized the problem. You write short stories… and I think you like living short stories, but I’m kinda ready for the novel.” I was also quite taken by the music; some of the songs had really interesting lyrics. By the time the end credits were rolling, I was feeling quite happy in a way I can’t seem to explain. Probably because  it’s not usual for me to feel that way after a movie. This one, inspite of being predictable, had a lot more sense and warmth than many other rom-com-dramas. It’s not even about that, to be honest. You don’t always come across a light-hearted movie which actually lifts your mood, even makes you feel…inspired-happy, for lack of a better word. That’s the effect Happythankyoumoreplease had on me. And I can’t remember the last time a movie made me feel so good! So there! I think I’m done with the gushing. Your turn! Oh, that reminds me. I hate the “like” option WordPress has enabled for comments. Maybe I am overreacting, but I suppose I can still have my say. Earlier, the only way to respond to a comment was by, well, replying to it. The plain old reply in words thing. Now, you have the option of merely “liking” the comment, offering the gesture as a possible response. I hate that! It cuts off conversation! I suppose it might be Facebook-inspired. But then, it’s fine in FB, because you can conveniently end an unnecessary comment thread by just clicking the ‘like’ button (I do that all the time!). I don’t think it is required on a platform like WordPress where bloggers actually intend to communicate. And, that marks the end of my rant. For now!

Have you seen the movie? Let me know what you think. And, while you’re at it, I’d love to know what you think about the “like” option for comments, as well.🙂

5 Things I Love about Bengaluru

Having been in the city for over a year now, I’ve come to understand that the IT industry is not the only thing Bengaluru (still Bangalore for many) is popular for. For those who might not be aware of it, Bengaluru was once known as the Garden City. Probably because it used to be all beautiful, clean and everything else you’d expect a garden to be. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about that phase of the city. The Bengaluru I’ve seen since last year is one that’s infamous for being overcrowded and highly polluted with traffic jams congesting its pothole-ridden roads.

I constantly hear many of my friends complaining about these aspects. Even though I always lend a patient ear to them all, I am quite defensive about Bengaluru. Inspite of the fact that I’m an outsider here, I feel a sense of belonging. I fell in love with it right from the first day! Of course, I do get irritated with the seemingly endless traffic blocks, the teeming buses and the garbage-strewn corners. But at the end of the day, I love the city, just the same.

Just as you would love a best friend with all his/her quirks, I love Bengaluru with all its flaws. I think I’ve grown used to the crowd that I have to wade through in busy market areas…and the hours of travel it takes to go from one place to another, sometimes barely few kilometers apart! I have begun to refer to my PG (Paying Guest accommodation) as ‘home’, which itself reveals how attached I already am!

So, I thought I’d put together a list of five things I love about Bengaluru. I suppose this is one way of celebrating my first year here and showing my love for this awesome city! Well, here goes!

Disclaimer: The opinions below are based on my experience in Bengaluru and not a generalized view. 

1) The crowd – Yes, that’s right. I actually love the crowd here. It’s (mostly) young, multicultural and varied beyond words. You get to meet people from all walks of life, holding different perceptions, pursuing different interests. I’ve often felt this place is very much a melting pot of cultures, ideas and aspirations. While there maybe quite a few who are from Bengaluru or other parts of Karnataka, a major chunk of the crowd would be from other states/countries. Perhaps, this is why the city has a very special vibe. Or, maybe, it’s just me and my fascination with this place!

2) Welcoming newbies – I know this is purely based on my personal experience. I don’t know how it has been for others but I felt very warmly welcomed right from my first day here. The locals are quite accommodating; I never felt alienated. From my one-year-old perspective, I found them friendly and ready to help. Most people are able to communicate in Hindi or basic English, so, it’s not mandatory to know Kannada, the local language.

3)  The restaurants/cafes – I love (read: love love love) the myriad restaurants and cafes that dot the city! From quaint coffee shops to elaborate restaurants, there’s every kind and cuisine to choose from. Being someone who enjoys restaurant-hopping, I take pleasure in the fact that I could stay here for years and still not run out of options!

4) The climate – I know this is a commonly quoted positive aspect about Bengaluru. But then, this list really wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention about the pleasant and favourable climate the city enjoys throughout the year. Yes, it can get hot in the summer but not as much as in some of the neighbouring states. Guess what? This summer has been pretty much a mixture of rainy, cool days and bearable, hot days! I don’t always enjoy rain (unless I’m in..uhh..a mood for it). Cloudy, dull days and messy, dirty streets just aren’t my thing. On the contrary, I completely love the rain in Bengaluru. The sky clears up almost instantly after a downpour,  even the cloudy instances are kinda nice. Although the rain can be a nuisance sometimes, I can’t help feeling a sort of liking for it.

5) Kannada – This might sound slightly weird. But I’ve grown to love the language. And, trust me, that’s not usual. I’m actually very eager, not to mention determined, to learn Kannada. I love the way it sounds. I have noticed that the locals have a sense of pride when it comes to their language and customs. But then, it’s a not a pride that imposes itself on or looks down upon others. They love their land, language and traditions but are open enough to let others follow their own. Which is really mature and broad-minded, I feel.

So, that’s just a few things I love about Bengaluru. To be honest, I could really ramble on. But I’m sure I’ve said enough for one super-long post!

If you’re at Bengaluru, do let me know what you think! Or you could just tell me what you love about your current city.🙂

Vendetta of a different shade

Banter alert! My thoughts are all jumbled up because so much has happened. I think I’m trying to give it some comprehensible order by writing it out here.

I had an amazing experience of what it would be like to do what I love doing. I interned at the tabloid of a newspaper for two weeks, as part of my course. And, I loved it! Their stories weren’t exactly my kind but that didn’t really matter since I was just too glad about the experience. I wrote a few stories and got them printed as well! The joy of seeing my name in the byline for the first time was something so exhilarating; I still can’t stop myself from smiling wide when I think of it.

Things weren’t all hunky-dory, though. There was a lot of shit happening on all possible levels (personal, emotional, blah blah) and I tried my best to hold myself together. While it wasn’t easy or pleasant, I have to admit, I did learn a couple of necessary lessons.

There were so many thoughts and incidents which made me think, “I should blog about this” but once the moment passed, they seemed irrelevant. Or I forgot about them. Which is downright ridiculous and irresponsible, I know. I suppose trying to recollect atleast some of them would be one way to redeem myself.

As of now, one of the most predominant thoughts on my mind would be about the Hindi movie Badlapur. I watched it last night. I can’t decide if I liked it or not. I had read this review on Firstpost right after the release of the movie. I was intrigued enough to decide to watch it. So, I did. As I progressed through the movie, I understood what the writer had meant in the review about many aspects.

Badlapur started off with a tension-filled, fast-paced scene but gradually lost the tempo. While Varun Dhawan has certainly managed to break the mould, he does lack the nuances needed to portray a character of such depth and intensity. But Nawazuddin Siddiqui definitely makes up for it and then some, although his role does seem a tad repetitive, as mentioned in the review. I loved Huma Qureishi as Jhimli, perfectly depicting the subtle shades of the character. I’m no expert to talk about technical brilliancy, so I’ll leave that part to those who know better.

A screenshot of the scene

A screenshot of the scene

One of the most touching scenes, for me, was the one in which Raghu (Varun Dhawan) comes back to an empty house, after the death of his wife and son. The commonplace clutter of a home, framed pictures and photos, leftovers of a dish…all of it seem to accentuate the pain of loss that has just begun to set in.

What struck me as most interesting was the concept of revenge that director Sriram Raghavan has laid out. The protagonist and antagonist don’t engage in climactic stunts or bloody battles. Their encounters are few and far between, and the physically violent ones almost rare. A moviegoer accustomed to stereotypes would associate revenge with something more severe, like I did. It took me a while to realize that this was going to be different. Yes, there are a couple of brutal murders but Raghu’s vengeance is of the silent and brooding kind. Which is, definitely, a refreshing change and my favourite aspect in Badlapur! The climax, apart from being sort of subdued, seems to bring into question the relevance of his need to avenge and what he ultimately gained from it.

There are flaws, of course. But I felt Badlapur stands out from the spate of commercial Bollywood films for its singular depiction of the age-old emotion of revenge.

Dear Library…

Come Sunday, I’ll be in a place I call ‘home’ in every sense of the word! The mere thought makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. I badly need the change of scene.

Last night, while on the verge of falling asleep, I remembered something that I had wanted to write about. I read something a couple of months ago and made a mental note to blog about it whenever I found time. But then, I got busy (like always) and the ‘note’ was pushed off to some corner of my mind. Only to resurface as a half-conscious thought, last night.

I came across this article in The Guardian about libraries – how they were ‘in danger’ and about a campaign that invited readers across the globe to write “love letters to their favourite libraries”. The idea had an instant connect with me and I knew that I wanted to write one, too.

My love-letter is to a very special library, one that does not exist anymore. Sometime in 2004, when I was in 8th standard, our school campus was relocated. While the library was, technically, shifted to another place, it wasn’t the same as the one we had in the old school. That library will always be a part of my fondest and most cherished school memories, for reasons more than one.

So..here goes!

Dear Library, 

You might not remember me but I could never forget you. They say you always hold your first love as a dear memory. I think that applies for libraries as well. Atleast for a bookworm like me. 

You were my very first library (and love)! I remember getting a glimpse of your interior sometime when I was in 1st or 2nd grade. Since then, I couldn’t wait to get inside and check out all those books. Finally, when I did enter the room, a year or so later, I was on cloud nine! It was love at first sight!

Dimly lit, with a mysterious air that hinted at all the treasure troves (read: books) waiting to be discovered, you had an old world charm about you. I loved spending time there, amidst shelves and shelves of books. We used to have a Library hour once every week and I remember waiting for it so eagerly. Waiting to meet you, to explore all that you had to offer me. Crossing your threshold was like entering into an entire new world, a space where everything else ceased to exist. It was just me, you and books. Even the air smelt of books, old and slightly tattered, adding to the magic. 

You introduced me to Enid Blyton. I couldn’t get enough of Famous Five and the Five Find-Outers. I kept yearning to see more of you, and read more. You helped me take the first step into ‘Bookwormland’ and guided me along the journey, delighting me with the beautiful classics you held. I remember those years as a blur of Jules Verne, Charles Dickens, Louisa May Alcott, E. Nesbit (to name a few) and gems like Anne of Green Gables, Pollyanna and Jane Eyre. 

I could never thank you enough for all that you have done for me. In so many ways, you made me what I am today. Hell, you might very well be the reason I write! Even though we had to part ways, I’ll never forget the time I spent with you, the happiness you gifted me. I know I never told you, but I love you; I always will. I believe you knew it all along. Every time I see the present library, or any library for that matter , I think of you and miss you. This is my way of trying to give back atleast a tiny bit of what you’ve given to me. 


An ardent reader/admirer

Missing Bloggers

You put in so much of your time and effort into something that means nothing but boring work to you, and instead of a word of appreciation, all you get is rebuke! Sounds familiar? Well, I’m going through a similar situation at college and it’s frustrating. It has been going on for so long that I feel sick just thinking of the whole episode. This entire month has been depressing to the extreme. Big-time-BAD start to 2015, I say! I hope things get better soon! *Fingers crossed*

Anyway, my Facebook page tells me I haven’t posted in 11 days. I thought it was time I did something about that. And, here I am!

Sometime last month, I read a post by my blogger-friend, Manu Kurup, saying he intended to stop blogging. He said it would be his last post. And, sure enough, it was. He has deleted his site. He might have had his own reasons, although I don’t know what they were. Nevertheless, his post came as nothing less than a shock to me.

I don’t remember how I stumbled onto his blog but, well, someday, I did. I wasn’t a regular reader but I made it a point to catch up on his posts whenever possible. His writing style and thoughts were what I loved the most. We might have been strangers, on a personal level. But there is something very intimate and special about a person’s writing, reading what someone else has written. It’s kind of like getting a glimpse of their mind, a reflection of their perceptions. Perhaps, that is why I feel/felt a sense of belonging with all my fellow bloggers, including Manu.

When I read his final post, I was gripped by an emotion that I can only describe as “loss”. Something akin to what I’d feel if I were meeting a friend for the last time. While I do miss his blogposts, the experience opened my eyes to a fact I had never bothered to look at. Just like we take people for granted in life, I’ve been stupid enough to think that my readers and fellow bloggers will always remain the same. I never considered the possibility that they could also leave or fade off. Now that I’ve (almost) resumed regular blogging, I notice the absence of many blogger-friends who used to comment and support me. And I miss them all!

Anyhow, for those who have still hung around, this is a confession-plus-apology of sorts, to let you know I’ll try not to repeat the mistake! Keep hanging around!🙂

Transcending Trivialities

I miss holidays!

While back to college has caused a spike in my frustration levels, I must say things haven’t been as hectic as it was during last semester. I suppose the real action is yet to start. I don’t think I’m looking forward to it, though.

Well…there is a thought that has been stuck in my mind for the past few months. I felt it’s time I let it out. And, with yesterday’s Charlie Hebdo terror attack serving as background, I think this would be a good time.

[ Before reading on, please note that I’m talking specifically with reference to the situation in India, as I know it ] 

Once, sometime in November, during class, one of our teachers somehow came upon the topic of Muslims. I don’t remember what exactly we were discussing. Initially, she said she wouldn’t say anything but, when some of the students (my classmates) ventured to comment (negatively), she added to it, expressing her dislike for Muslims. A few of my classmates agreed with her, reacting very vehemently, much to my shock. They almost ganged upon another classmate who questioned their bias. I kept quiet, listening to their argument. From the way they spoke, it seemed like they held Muslims responsible for every shit that happens in the world. I was dumbstruck.

For a bunch of individuals who are going to be media professionals sometime soon, this kind of strong prejudice could be lethal. The most shocking part, for me, was that the teacher supported their thoughts instead of pointing out how wrong it was. It might already be obvious that I have very high regard for teachers. Nevertheless, I don’t believe in giving respect to people who don’t deserve it. This particular lecturer’s comments had an instant effect on me – I began to dislike her from that very second! In another class, she gave some more absurd views about family planning. That was the final nail in the coffin!

But that’s not the topic of this post.

Just a cursory glance through the major events of last few months would show you how Muslims have been collectively victimized for most of them, if not all. Of course, there are terrorist organizations wreaking havoc in ways more than one. And they seem to be blinded by their religious fanaticism. But is that reason enough to hate Muslims as a whole? Because that’s what seems to be happening right now. I’m not justifying the ones who caused death and destruction; don’t go on and call me a traitor. I’m raising the question of why we seem to blame ALL Muslims for whatever is happening. If you were to commit a mistake, would your entire family, including distant relatives and friends, be persecuted for it?

What is the sense in alienating persons of a whole community/religion just because some fanatics acted in the name of that religion? Haven’t other faiths also had such people who killed and ravaged? Did we also treat every individual of those religions with equal hatred? I doubt it.

I don’t support terrorists or their activities. Neither do I support denigrating anyone based on their beliefs. Like a close friend once mentioned, however well-educated a person might be, every bit of sense goes out the window if the topic of religion comes up. For a race which is considered highly intelligent and superior, I find it really contemptible that we fight over religion and borders. Especially considering the fact that both were created by man!

As of now, all I can do is hope that people (my classmates and lecturer included) start thinking and acting more sensibly. Maybe, someday soon, we’ll see a world with men who look beyond details like one’s faith and nationality.