Thursday, July 31, 2008

Insurance Policy

I am travelling to Nepal in September to volunteer at Papa's House. I will be staying at the rescue home and will be writing about their quotidian routine and struggles. My family is obviously concerned about my safety, considering the instability of the newly founded Maoist government in Nepal. Their doubts are somewhat rested by this form that the Canadian government advises its citizens to fill out, when travelling abroad. In the form, I am required to provide the Canadian International Affairs about my address in Nepal, so in case of an emergency they can pull me out and bring me home safely.

Even though, I am very grateful of this protection and security I would be provided by my government, I am also left wondering about those who are not blessed with this luxury. In the time of crisis why is our fate determined by our passport? Is that why so many people move to the Western countries so they can have the coveted passport? Is the expensive immigration fee in some ways an insurance policy?

In the time of need, is it selfish to leave using the privileged passport, leaving other locals behind just because they couldn't afford to procure the same "insurance policy" as us?

I know my ideas are naïve. I am very aware of the fact that we live in a world where people are divided by boundaries, ethnicity, creed, and our birth does dictate our fate. But determining who gets to survive based on their nationality is a bit absurd and painful. I know if the need be I would also be one to flash my passport and demand to return to my loved ones at home.

In the movie Babel, a helicopter is sent for an American, so she can be airlifted to a hospital. Whereas, the locals are left to die, and are not provided the same treatment.

I know we have aid-workers and other volunteers in the troubled regions, but will the wishes of so many beauty queens pertaining to world peace ever come true?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Why we go to movies?

My Dark Knight hangover still hasn't worn off. As, I mentioned in the previous post about the movie, that each viewer probably came out of the movie theater feeling something unique and special. Some were probably awestruck by the Joker's social commentary and understanding of our social dynamics, others by the righteousness of Batman, reaffirming our faith in humanity.

I know, I shouldn't be taking a superhero movie this seriously, but I think it is a very rare occurrence where a movie has both the so-called popcorn entertainment and a social message.

Here is a Freudian quote which explains the relationship between the cinegoers and films, and perhaps my own reaction to this particular movie.

The spectator is a person who experiences too little, who feels that he is a ‘poor wretch to whom nothing of importance can happen,’ who has long been obliged to damp down, or rather displace, his ambition to stand in his own person at the hub of world affairs. He longs to feel and to act and to arrange things according to his desires — in short, to be a hero. And the playwright and actor enable him to do this by allowing him to identify himself with a hero. They spare him something, too. For the spectator knows quite well that actual heroic conduct such as this would be impossible for him without pains and sufferings and acute fears, which would almost cancel out the enjoyment.

Not so green after all

Here is a list of 10 things that contrary to popular belief are actually not bad for us.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Jhumpa Lahiri: Unaccustomed Earth

Soon, likewise, my old native town will loom upon me through the haze of memory, a mist brooding over and around it; as if it were no portion of the real earth, but an overgrown village in cloud-land, …. Henceforth, it ceases to be a reality, of my life. I am a citizen of somewhere else. - Nathaniel Hawthorne

Jhumpa Lahiri is known for her excellent prose, attention to details, and realism. As readers of this book will find that these short stories, just like life, have no final resolution, they continue to live in the reader's imagination. The book consists of two parts. The first part has five stories, and the second has three stories about the same two protagonists, Hema and Kaushik.

My favourite from this collection is the last three stories about Hema and Kaushik's families, friendships, relationships, and love. These stories provide the perfect culmination of the themes Lahiri discusses in this book. The first story from the trilogy, shows the development of friendship between Hema and Kaushik's parents. In spite of the lack of shared interests, their parents become friends for the sake of their shared Bengali culture. The friendship between the parents show that in the foreign land, away from their blood relatives, people of the same ethnicity act as substitute families.

Kaushik who moved a lot in his childhood sees himself as a man without a country, and chooses a profession that supports his nomadic nature. Just like their parents who bonded over their shared Bengali culture, it is familiarity that reunites Hema and Kaushik. Kaushik realizes that Hema is the only girl, he has ever been with, who has met and known his mother. The last few pages of the trilogy were very hard to read for me, as I knew where the story was headed.

The book, like Lahiri's previous work, left me more sensitive of my surroundings, and in a very introspective state.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Dark Knight

I have been building up this movie for almost everyone I know, so it only makes sense to blog about it. I went to see the movie twice and the both times the tickets were sold out and the theater was full. This movie has everything one can ask for - action and social allusions. The movie is not preachy and there is something for everyone. Other than seeing Christian Bale in the suit, and Heath Ledger's amazing performance as the Joker I really loved the script and found it very thought provoking.
The writer and director Christopher Nolan using the example of the Gotham City showed the problems faced by the Western metropolises, in the post 9/11 era. He posed the question, what freedoms are we willing to surrender to protect the lives of millions? Also the Joker's use of Al-Qaeda like hostage videos made the urgency of terror and fear more real. At the reception held by Bruce Wayne, in honour of Harvey Dent, both Batman and Joker are shown emptying out their glasses, and not drinking booze, I thought that was an interesting parallelism between the two arch enemies.
Like its predecessors, other superhero movies, this one also raised the question of disguises and aliases. In the movie, mere mortals were seen copying the disguises of Batman and the Joker. But their disguises do not have the same effect of liberation and adulation as it did for their idols. The movie took the discussion of appearances and disguises a step further, and alluded to racial profiling. The innocent citizens were targetted by the police just because they looked like the Joker. This scene showed me that how often we are quick to judge minorities, especially Muslims, just because they share the same skin colour and similar names as the terrorists.
After watching the movie I am left with this one question. Would this movie, and the Iron Man, have had the same impression on me had it not been for the current state of terror and chaos of our world?

NYT stamp of approval

This NYT article surely made me feel good about my Internet activity. Turns out reading blogs and grammatically incorrect content on fanfiction flourish young minds. The graphic content of Internet is credited for attracting not only young adults but also individuals with dyslexia toward reading. This source of information should be a relief to those who are concerned about the plummeting number of young readers, and those of us who spend countless hours sitting infront of the computer :-).

Not your average Joe

Douchebag Phone Message

Hmm...I wonder why she didn't call back.

So it begins...

I have been toying with the idea to start up my own blog for a while now. But the fear of not having anything interesting to talk about always stopped me from taking the plunge. I am very nerdy so a lot of the stuff here will be about social causes, current news, and lets not forget the all important personal rants :-).