Sunday, July 25, 2010

Where else would I want to be at this moment?

I used to tell people, when they asked me what my goal in life was, that I wanted to travel. I would say that the money I would make at work would be used to fund my travels.

I went on a trip across Western Europe last month with a friend who was by the end of the trip my elder brother. We had a ritualistic fist bump that was initiated by him saying 'Love ya, man' and then completed by us saying 'platonic' in unison. We walked around the most beautiful cities in the world, frequently stopping to take pictures, to drink coffee in streetside cafes, to listen to street musicians and to remind ourselves that we were in f***ing Europe. Lying down under the shade of a tree, looking up at the Eiffel Tower, I wondered 'where else would I want to be at this moment?'

I stood under the Staubacch falls (in Lauterbrunnen) and I mean literally under the Staubacch falls. I had to jump a fence and walk up a slippery slope of grass and rock, but I walked up to the bottom of the Staubacch falls, a natural beauty that a mesmerized Goethe wrote about. I looked up to see the source of the falls and at that moment I felt a joy that I've never felt before and I doubt I ever will. It was me, nature and soon my ipod. Aaromale has never sounded better, nor has it ever inspired me more. It was the best shower of my life.

Walking through the dark and narrow alleys of Barcelona, I was stopped in my tracks by a blue football rolling towards me. Soon a kid showed up, a kid who clearly had no time for romanticism. He wanted his blue ball back and I passed it to him. He kicked the ball towards his mates who cheered loudly, looked me at me with a big smile and then ran back to re-join the game.

We were trying to avoid the rain as we were walking through Venice's main square. We took shelter next to a restaurant which had hired a band to entertain its paying guests and by design its non-paying spectators that were increasing in number due to the rain. A group of university students walking by knew the song the band was playing and they started to sing along as they were walking past the restaurant. Soon a man from the crowd pulled out a woman from the group and swung her around to the tune of the music and swung her back into the crowd as the group and the band concluded the song with a wave of energy that brought out smiles, laughter and a burst of applause.

What is my goal in life? I've revised my answer. Actually no, I'm revising the question. What is one of my goals in life? One of them is to travel - to walk around the streets of foreign cities with my camera in hand and absolutely zero expectations in my mind. The rest of my goals, well, I haven't figured them out yet. Maybe it'll come to me when I'm sitting at the edge of Trolltunga in Norway. Maybe it won't.
It won't matter though when I've made it to the top there, listening to Aaromale.

Photo Courtesy

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thoughts on Madrasapattinam

I wasn’t the only person in the theater who felt that this movie was a cross between Titanic and Lagaan. As my friend commented, Arya looked like a Tamilian Bhuvan. At close to 3 hours long, this movie overstayed its welcome by a good hour. At least Lagaan had Cricket. The movie switches between the present and the 1940s with the present being a big drag mostly due to the wooden acting of the grandmom and her granddaughter.

One aspect that stood out for me right from the opening scene was the director having the courage to not dumb down the movie for his audience. I say this in reference to the free usage of English by the British characters in the movie (there are subtitles in Tamil for the portions with English dialogues). The Tamil that the Britishers speak at times is so realistic that it’s hard to understand what they are even saying.

I find it incredible that the lead actress Amy Jackson, a 19 year old beauty pageant winner from Liverpool, was able to infuse so much confidence into her role. Incredible because it’s her first movie and it’s set in a city, language and time period so alien to her. GV Prakash’s music and the way it’s presented on screen (for the most part) is probably the movie’s biggest strength. Vaama Duraiyamma felt like GV’s and lyricist N. Muthukumar’s 1940s take of the awesome ARR and Vairamuthu collaboration Madrasa Suthi Paaka Poraen.

Director Vijay’s visualization of the Chennai of 60 years ago is why I would recommend this film to any Chennai resident. As a guy sitting behind me announced at the end of the movie, “Dei Chennai appove nalla irundhidu da!”