Sunday, 10 November 2019

Titanic & Me - a lasting love

While reading my old diaries, I came across the thoughts I had penned after watching Titanic for the second time on April 5, 1998. It sounds pretentious, but the thoughts of my younger self do manage to surprise me pretty often. So, here's what I found written on the now-yellowed pages of a thin, old journal:

Poster Titanic Movie Kate Winslet Leonardo DiCaprio
Titanic (Image taken from here)

Saw 'Titanic' for the second time today. And maybe because it was the second time I could look beyond the indescribably good looks of Leonardo DiCaprio (Jack), the flawless beauty of Kate Winslet (Rose), the elegance of the first-class passengers, the comparison between the 1st class and 3rd class passengers, the beautiful sets and costumes, the reality check of seeing the engines and the workers operating them - all in all, the whole grandeur along with a certain shallow realisation of 'there's more than meets the eye'. Now, I was not preoccupied with the story of Jack and Rose... I knew that already. The fact remained that it would have been a happy, hopeful and romantic ending, had they both lived... and lived happily ever after.

Today was the second time. The first impression, as I usually feel it always is, was shallow and ephemeral. (Is the first impression ever the last impression? I have never ever experienced it to be.)
After the second watch, the significance struck home - Jack died, Rose lived... Life for Rose went on. Many people aboard Titanic died, many lived... For the ones who lived, life went on. One may stop and look back from time to time... Rose must have... But one can't die for the dead. The beauty of it is that Rose didn't just survive, she lived a good, happy life.

The first time I watched the movie, I had felt shattered when Jack had died. Yes, 1500 people had died in the movie and in real life and Jack was the only one who mattered. Some realisations take time to sink in.

Even the 101-year-old Rose didn't let go. Towards the end of the film, when she climbed on the deck of the ship, my thought was that she would commit suicide for Jack... but she doesn't. Today I realised she wouldn't. That would have been out of character for the strong, happy Rose, who loved life. That isn't how life works.

Life works on dreams and fantasies, on hopes and wishes, on memories (Rose had Jack's) and promises (she made one to him - 'never to let go') and on being open to making new memories and promises.
Above all, life goes on, because you have that strength and courage to face it and live it... and because you have it in you not to let the sorrows drown you, but let the memories of it keep you afloat, as you live each moment, making more beautiful memories... but never forgetting the old ones.

My favourite - 'He saved me in every possible way a person can be saved'.

I was surprised that I understood all of this back then. But I also realised that what we get from a great piece of art continues to evolve. It keeps giving.

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Soan Papri's difficult journey

Once upon a time, when I used to eat sweets without counting calories, I remember eating Soan Papri (also spelled as 'Soan Papdi) with relish. It was nowhere near the top of my preferred sugar-laden snacks, but then I have never been one to have favourites.

I do remember preferring the fresher, more structured, less thready, big brother of its, Pateesa. Especially one brought from Saharanpur.
Pateesa didn't demand to be put in a bowl before being eaten. No spoon was needed.

Soan Papri, on the other hand, would disintegrate on the first bite. Some in hand, some on shirt front, a little on the lap, but most on the floor.
Mom's lecture would follow.
She would conjure a katori and chamach (bowl and spoon) for me and another spoon for scooping out the Soan Papri.
You see, much as you can identify the clear cut cuboids while the now-notorious sweet would lie packed in the box, the moment you try to pick one piece, all the pieces seem to merge ...(?) into the other.

Each spoonful would melt in the mouth leaving its sticky remnants in the mouth to be enjoyed.

It's been ages, it seems, since I ate Soan Papri, or even gave it much thought. And here I am - at 10 in the morning on a working day - typing a blog on it.

The reason is that suddenly it is everywhere. I watched a video yesterday where a colourfully dressed guy playing the role of Soan Papri is gifted by one family to another, and the second one to the third, and so on, as a Diwali gift.

A few minutes ago, I glanced at my phone to take a quick look at headlines, and Soan Papri is there too.
'Soan Papri is like Karma'... I think this is the first time I am writing this on my blog, but LOL.

Will history remember this phase at the time of Soan Papri's fall from grace? Would it discourage people from buying it now? I don't think so.

See, you have to understand. The reason Soan Papri is the chosen one (as a gift to be bought, and as a gift to be passed on) is that it has a long shelf like. I did a quick google search and found out that it has a best before of 120 days.
The only other Indian sweet I can think of is Dhoda, but it can in no way compete with the life expectancy of Soan Papri.

And now Soan Papri is on my Insta too...

Btw, Kaju Katli should be consumed within 2-7 days depending on its dairy content.

Someone somewhere does buy the long-lasting, taken-for-granted, densely-packed dabba, and finally, someone somewhere does enjoy the crumbling sweetness of it. If it takes a long, wavering path from the former to the latter, it has the strength to take it.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Introvert or Ambivert?

I remember teaching the words 'introvert' and 'extrovert' in a class, discussing these two, and before asking everyone to label themselves, teaching another word - 'ambivert'. I told the class that I had felt relieved when I first learnt this third word. Thanks to it, I didn't have to label myself an introvert.

After all, I had my 'not introvert' moments. They are becoming far and few between though. I think time makes you realise that certain things are just too much work and not worth the effort.

Teaching that class made me express my thoughts on these words. Thoughts I had hardly every consciously thought, let alone shared aloud with anyone.

Then I read about World Introvert Day on Write Tribe. Read about the 21 signs of being an introvert. And started questioning my ambivert theory.

So, I obviously asked google how I should label myself. Took a quiz. And the result says...

Now, I am confused. Am I the I-word or the A-word?
Introvert: 84%. Ambivert: 83%

So, what do I do? I google a quote I vaguely remember and end with it -

Labels are for cans, not people

Monday, 25 June 2018

Look for a reason to smile #CountYourBlessings

"In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and - snap! - the job's a game!" - Mary Poppins

When Tom Sawyer got other boys to paint the fence for him, and made money out of it too, the secret was making the job fun. So, Mary Poppins certainly had that fact right.

From drinking milk to finishing the food, from cleaning the room to getting reading on time, from studying to helping in chores, I have many memories from my childhood, and then from my parenting days that corroborate Mary Poppins' shrewd words.

Do these words hold as true for the jobs that the grown-ups hold, is a point of contention now?
The important words to be noticed are 'must be done'. So, the message for each of us here is, if there is something in which you don't have a choice, look for the element of fun in it. There is bound to be something - the work itself, the ones you share it with, the reason that you are doing it - that would make you smile through it.

The bottom line - Smile.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Choose to live life #WriteBravely #LiveBravely

"The past can hurt. 
But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or learn from it" 
- Rafiki's wise words to Simba in The Lion King

You can either run from the past or learn from it.
Or maybe just accept it, and move on.

There are things one has no control over.

In the afternoon today, while driving for lunch with my family, I had stopped my car just before the pedestrian crossing at the traffic light.
Within a few seconds, other vehicles had passed mine to stop on the pedestrian crossing, or even farther up. 
Nothing new there. I experience it all the time.

And then a banner with faces of politicians - one big, multiple small - printed on it fell on my car.

Things fall on cars - I read about a crane falling and killing the driver of a car waiting at the traffic light.
One of the first things I heard this morning was about a midnight sprawl the night before that ended in the death of a 22-year-old.

That is what I thought of at that time. The uncertainty, that experience teaches us, is scary.

Learn from the past, yes.
Accept the fact that you have to choose not to be scared, even when you don't have control.

The past hurts. And it teaches.
Embrace it, with all its smiles and frowns.
And choose to live life.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Who watches Bigg Boss?

Who watches Big Boss?

I ask this question because it seems like hardly anyone I know says that they watch this show that made it to the Top 10 list of the most-watched Hindi Entertainment shows. So, no one I know, besides a couple of close relatives, who don't hide this fact (and me), watched Bigg Boss 11.

An acquaintance of mine recently told me about a male friend of hers who is on a quest to find a girl to tie the matrimonial knot with. She went on to passionately rant about how exasperated he is. One of the reasons for his not liking a female is if she watches Bigg Boss.
Now that this season is over, I was imagining this guy getting married in the next couple of months, and getting the shock of his life when, a few months later, his wife would be watching Bigg Boss every single night.

This rant continued to haunt me. The looking down on anyone who watches a Hindi TV serial, or God forbid, Bigg Boss seems extremely snobbish.
The English TV shows are great, I agree (at least, the few that I have watched). But does your choice of entertainment make you superior?

And who is watching it anyway, as I first asked? How many closet 'Bigg Boss watchers' am I surrounded by?

By the way, kids don't seem to have any issues in admitting that they watch it. My son (17) and daughter (12) tell me that it is one of the hot topics of discussion in the School Bus. They feel the need to be at least familiar with the contestants and the going-ons in the notorious house, so as not to feel left out.
Wrong, I know. The show is not for kids. But this is the reality that I face about this reality show.

Can we paint every single person who watches a particular TV show with the same brush, is really the question I am asking.

Friday, 20 October 2017

The right and wrong of choices #LifeLessons

"You can choose courage or you can choose comfort. You cannot have both" - Brene Brown

And it is ok to choose comfort. 

This is my first instinct when I read this quote. Not because I don't feel that choosing courage is the wrong choice, but because it is implied that one should choose courage.

Ideally, we would all choose courage and lead perfect lives. 

"Life is unfair" - such a clichè and so very true.
As true as the facts that the world is imperfect, destiny is not in our control, and that life is uncertain.
"You get what anybody gets - you get a lifetime" - Neil Gaiman

I think my instinctive reaction of 'it is ok to choose comfort' comes from my being a mother. I have spent years counseling my kids that at times, you choose what is right for you. 

Many a time I feel happier waiting rather than taking any immediate action.
And waiting takes a lot of courage.

So, yes make the choice between courage and comfort. Choose courage even. 
But decide for yourself what is courageous.
Do not let the world decide for you.

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference."

Choosing serenity over courage is not always a courageous choice. At times, it is the wise choice. 
And being wise comes from not having choices.

One of the quotes about courage that Brene Brown mentions as her own favorite is by Oprah Winfrey:
"You get in this life what you have the courage to ask for"

Choose for yourself. Do not judge others. 
What you perceive as ‘comfort’ may have been a courageous choice for them.

©Nimi Arora