Monday, January 30, 2017

172

This year, it's all about accomplishing goals. The way forward, I think, is to not look at it as an all or nothing issue. Break it down into smaller 'goallettes', fix what you will do every single day, and then it all comes together. 

This year, I think, I will meditate every single day. I've given myself 5 minutes to start with. It doesn't matter how long. I will just do it every day.

Today, I had a meeting and plans to have a friend over for some hot chocolate today. Somewhere in between or after all that, more work will need to get done. This year, I'm going to write a lot. That means just staying really focused and not let anything get in the way. Meditation has therefore reached a critical importance now.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

176, 175, 174, 173: First Impressions: The Bronte Project by Jennifer Vandever

The book revolves around a PhD student of literature. Her specialty is Charlotte Bronte and as part of her study, she is trying to get hold of the letters that the author wrote to her lifelong friend, Ellen Nussey and Professor Heger, the object of her affections. [It was a case of unrequited love and resulted in many soulful epistles and the novel, 'The Professor' or 'Villette'. It also seemed to fuel other people. These letters were considered to be incendiary by the author (she compares them to 'lucifer matches') and her husband, Nicholls, insisted on either destroying them or censoring them. Heger was married and would tear up Charlotte Bronte's letters.]His wife would tape them back together and keep them. When she died, she entrusted these letters to her daughter.]

Paul is Sara's boyfriend and he is also a literature student studying George Orwell.

Paul and Sara break up on account of a Claire Virgee who is studying the late Lady Diana as a social phenomenon.

The story is set in New York.

This tale of a broken heart plays out against a pastiche of subtext - the similarity between Lady Diana and Charlotee Brontee, the comparison between Orwell and Brontee, and the Brontee childhood that gave a pastor (their father) an experience of dining with three kids who'd written, amongst them, Jane Eyre, Agnes Grey, and Wuthering Heights. The book also tells us of the humanity we lost when we stopped writing and reading letters. It has a segment where Sara traipses to some place in Italy to spend a night in a dream room in a castle. Legend has it that a woman died in a room pining for her lover. That woman's dream and pain melded into the air and consciousness and whoever sleeps in that same room, has a dream that continues from the pain that the dead left behind. There are other characters who alternate between annoying and vapid. There's a couple that only dresses in 17th century costumes and a Frenchman who spares no opportunity to tell Americans that they are prudish.

So, this book is about a lot of stuff. All interesting stuff. But it's an uneven read with a problem of plenty. There's a very strong piece that I liked about how both Diana and Charlotte Bronte obliquely entered the male world of publicity using female devices of depression and telepathy. (There's an interesting explanation in the book.)

Oh...and there's a plot. Sara needs to live on in New York to help write a movie about Charlotte Bronte. The production house finds Brontee too drab. This lays out the field of some social commentary about the sign of our times when quiet heroism does not stand a chance to be depicted in cinema.

While reading the book, I was not allowed to forget for even one minute that all the principal characters have literary backgrounds. You had to pay your dues by plodding through some juicy, if heavy-handed, metaphors and factoids. It brought back the experience of running into one of your kohl-lined literature friends in college (when you hadn't opted for the subject.) They went on and on about something with an enduring sense of plaintiveness about God Knows What!

I avoided my friends then. This time, I finished the book.

It's not very bad but it did get me into a state of panic when I thought that the book was just growing endless numbers of pages. But all said and done- it is Charlotte Brontee after all. Not the sister I would pick but still. Reading a Brontee was like peeking at the sun. So, any book inspired from her story would still gleam. I found this bit really moving:

"Anyway, Charlotte's very upset - her life is dull, her father is ill, her brother is an alcoholic - so she pours all her sadness into these letters and they're never answered. Then she suddenly shifts her attention to fiction, transforming her experience into art, which you might say can be read as one long, unanswered love letter."

So for that alone, the book has my affection.




Monday, January 23, 2017

177

There is someone who has passed away and I am not handling this person's demise too well. In case any one can suggest a book that will help me get through that, it will really help. The book can be about anything. I want to get distracted.

178

Finished reading 'The Bronte Project' by Jennifer Vandever.

Will start reading 'The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared' by Jonas Jonasson.

This wasn't part of my reading list that I had put up earlier but I had bought this book and forgotten about it. So will read it now. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

179: First Impressions: An Unsuitable Boy by Karan Johar

I read this one really quickly. Actually bought this for mum and started flipping through it. Liked what I read, continued, and before I knew it, the book was over.

What struck me was that the most coherent, moving pieces of the book is when Johar is talking about his work. In fact, I think, wherever he has used his work as the prism and explained his world, he is really solid. Where he is simply talking about a person or a certain episode - like the tension with Shah Rukh or the rift with Kajol - it tends to get boring. (Okay, so you had a great friend and she let you down and now you're not friends with her. Or your very best friend got upset because you made new pals and didn't have time for him but you're back stronger now. It's not all that devastating or dramatic, really.) What is fascinating is Johar's description of the Bombay of the 80s and the cinemascape of when he became a director. 

I particularly liked the portions where he first finds his groove as the star of elocution competitions after giving his mother panic attacks. Or when he describes how close he was to his father. But the portions where he talks about how he found his calling, how Dilwale got made, and how he took over Dharma - that is really fine writing. He is straightfoward and articulate. You will always be closer to people who will set up your first work experience for you. Whether it was Adi who told him to stay back (Karan was about to leave for Paris at the time) and assist in his debut film or Shah Rukh who gave him a deadline to complete his first script and start shooting - one can imagine why the fondness is stronger there. I mean, yes, we all seek and perhaps get emotional support from our pals - but those friends who can show you what you are capable of - you just see them differently. 

I grew up in Bandra and have seen lives of film people, if not very closely, then in rather close quarters. At the time, what those people did, who they hung out with, what skills they had - you never really knew. But I knew men and women who would struggle to explain that what they did was also work - and hard work, at that. 

I think, in some ways, this book is a nod to that. That films, as an industry, has seen shifts that have caused the collapse of several mighty players. Not because the business itself is capricious and some hotbed of debauchery, etc. It got the patronage of the underworld at one point, it's facing competition from stronger international arenas - and in all that, people wake up and go to work. For me, the book scored the highest there.

He does talk about his mother's ill health, his worry of growing old alone, his dream of adopting a child, etc. Regular things. But you get the sense that he'll be okay because he's figured out what to do with his life. And that simple thing is a special blessing.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

180

A book, tiny cup of water, some sunshine and a glimpse of the day.

181

1. I am reading Karan Johar's 'An Unsuitable Boy' and really liking it.

2. Am going to take a couple of days off in the first week of February and think about my career and work.

3. Meditation becomes a part of my life from tomorrow for sure.

Friday, January 20, 2017

182

Some night there is waterfall. I behaved badly today. I spoke very rudely to someone today and shunned the food she brought me. Then I worked. Anyway, I will watch a couple of videos and sleep. Will tackle things tomorrow.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

185, 184

Death. Bad dreams. Waking up crying. Going to Mom and hugging her. She making it all okay. 

But Death.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

187, 186

Today I went out with someone.

It was sweet and tender. We walked along Worli seaface and he made me laugh. He knew that I loved the Haji Ali fruit and cream dish. So he took me there and shared a bowl of strawberries and cream. On the way, he stopped by another of his favorite dessert places and got me doodhi halwa. He dropped me off at the bus stop, stayed back to see if I got a seat, peered in to check if I was okay, and then left.

It was so innocent. And it felt good.

There were lots of things that happened yesterday but I choose to write about this because there are so many instances of so much violence against women. It affects me so deeply that sometimes, I can't even talk to a man on the phone without thinking how he might get violent with a lady if he had the chance. It is very odd but there it is. But that attitude is not serving me. So I thought I would catalog, at least, all the times I have been with a kind man late into the night and I was safe and happy.




Sunday, January 15, 2017

188: First Impressions: The Alienist by Caleb Carr

Finished reading 'The Alienist' by Caleb Carr. Disturbing, wholesome, solid. After a L-O-O-N-G time, noticed that I was holding my breath every few chapters. Noteworthy are a few things: the description of New York in the 1890s before it became Greater New York and Theodore Roosevelt as the mayor of the city before he became President, the rise of fine dining with Delmonicos, the ghettos, the impact of the man with the money who bailed out an entire nation - JP Morgan. Then, a killer who, against all of this setting, seemed like a normal guy. And a doctor who, against all of this setting, was anything but.

If you're looking for a thriller, this, really, is it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

189

I am thoroughly enjoying 'The Alienist' by Caleb Carr. New York City in the 1870s is so spectacularly described that just the description of what some areas will become later fills you with a sense of foreboding. It's an exciting read and I wish I could park all of my work for a couple of days and simply gobble that book.

A friend, N, is here and it was really nice to meet her near her place. We had coffee at McDonald's and chatted and it was a nice finish to the day.

My cook has stitched up a bunch of stuff at home, by hand. Last night, I'd worn one of those 'creations', so to speak. It was a strappy number in a brown paisley print fabric (which we cut off a palazzo that had ripped) and wore it on top of a black turtleneck. I liked it. :-)

Anyway, I will sign off now and head back to reading the book. Will do some work after that.




Sunday, January 08, 2017

Some sketching also happened

Rendition of The Little Mermaid and a contemporary twist on the same picture if I had to do it. (The second one is inspired from Sophie Kinsella's 'The Twenties Girl'.)

194, 193, 192, 191, 190

In no particular order, stuff that has happened over the last few days:

1. Made two trips to Urban Foundry over the last couple of days. Had excellent conversations. One with an ex-colleague who was into Fine Arts earlier and is now in the UX/ UI domain. The other with a dear pal of mine I used to go for walks with. Had cosmopolitans there and I would recommend it. It is served so prettily! There's that famous pink-orange-red swirl of the cocktail in a martini-glass but the glass doesn't have a stem. That vessel is placed inside a glass bowl filled with some funky swirly white smoke - the kind you get from dry ice. It comes to your table and everyone's eyes are on you! That's part of the fun. Today, I had the soya chaap there - a favorite of mine from visits to Delhi. Succulent and flavorful.

2. We made rose water at home. It's bottled and stays pretty on a nightstand. Now I don't know what to do with it.

3. A friend from Bombay had come over and stayed. Chatted through the night, of course. It was fun.

4. Liked a particular doodle session.

5. Got a teensy bit frustrated over the format of an invoice I had shared earlier. So troublesome. Anyway, nothing much to do but get it sorted out.  

6. My cook turns out to be pretty nifty with stitching. So, I gave her some old dupattas and some fabric I was gifted. She made me a cute bustier-type tie-up blouse with a black and gold border. Then, a beautiful chilli-red fabric from Assam is a loose-ish kurta.

Will work hard from tomorrow. Tonight some coffee and reading.

Sunday, January 01, 2017