Thursday, November 20, 2008

Shopping and Ethics

Backlogs scare me, especially as they are second nature to me when it comes to things which I'm passionate about and yet have managed to neglect completing. I keep on coming up with all these silly defences, like one needs distance to gain perspective, in the spirit of Wordsworth's 'emotions recollected in tranquility'. Unfortunately, too much of tranquility doesn't seem to leave me with any emotion at all. LOL.

We watched 'Quantum of Solace' last Saturday and I must admit, it was definitely more than a mere quantum of solace on a very rainy Saturday, when the only other consolations were a lunch consisting of paneer paratha (yippee) and my latest creation, a chicken korma (well, it was described as a 'mild chicken korma' in the net recipe, but I don't think that sounds very gastronomically tantalising, so I'd leave the mildness out) besides a round of shopping at Walmart, seeking a gift for a not-even-a-month old baby (Siddhant, of course).

Shopping first, I think. Apart from bread and desserts (which I'm perpetually mystified as to how we manage to consume so much so fast), there were two important things on our mind this time, trackpants for K (thanks to our extreme show of torpor which explains the monthly visit to the laundry) and a befitting present for baby Sid, my latest preoccupation (I so need a child of my own). The first was hard enough to locate since we wanted low prices and tasteful designs (in a trackpant?...I know, I's so me) and flannel, so it took quite a bit of time. Turns out that buying gifts for children is a challenge. I mean, you have to know exactly what you want, otherwise there's too much variety out there for the not-so-ingenious (and the not-so-patient, by which I defintely mean K) to get anything at all at the end of the I don't recall so many options when we were children ourselves. Well ok, that was some twenty odd years back but children still are children aren't they? How much change could they possibly have undergone in just two decades.

A hell of a lot, it seems. My jaws dropped at the sight of the huge space and several aisles that were devoted to children at the W. Toys, games, board games, books, cards, dolls, rides, gadgets, musical K seemed literally dumbfounded (not that it's hard to say that about him on most occasions) and was all in favour of coming back another day, especially since Moumita called to say they were running late and to ask whether it would be possible for us to get the movie tickets. I voiced a vehement no.I don't think I could have taken the trouble of patiently exploring each and every single one of all those aisles and after that, lived to face an empty-handed me. Well, you may naturally ask, since there were so many options, what was the problem. Aha. That was the problem. Too many choices and two clueless adults. There seemed to be so much for children but not much for babies (obviously it had to be that way, since that was what we were looking for in particular). And certainly not for babies less than 6 months old. Hello? What are they supposed to be, non-human? I suppose the manufacturers think that the only things that would suit them are clothes and adult-chosen toys. Don't even ask what we ultimately bought. (It's a surprise in any case for the Baby, so hold your breath till post-Thanksgiving,will you ?) Just a hint. Something that K seems to want to be allowed to play with, too. I know I would so love the expressions on your faces if I could see them !

Now for 'James Bond'. I know that that's not really the name of the movie, but several people at the Reading Cinemas ticket counter seemed happy to think of it that way. Fortunately, the tickets were not very expensive. That would have triggered on dollops of guilt in me, I being the half of the Mukherjees that was extra-hyper about watching the film on the big screen. Well, it was definitely worth the hype (and the 400 odd rupees spent respectively). I am totally converted to Craigomania and over Brosnan (who looked a tad too flirtatious, I always thought). Olga whatever was a great performer too. I loved the action sequences especially the airborne one and the initial chase. The opening song was slightly misleading, I thought. It looked like Bond was going to be The Man in a film where all the heroes, villains etc consisted of solely women and the action sequences were all likely to take place in bed. And the principal issue, the question of the ethics of revenge, made me very happy. It called back memories of all the ecstatic hours I'd spent in JUDE days, contemplating Hamlet. For the forgetful many, I reproduce the classic soliloquy :

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action. - Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd.

(Act III, Scene 1)

Of course, it always seems to be easier to preach than to practise. But with time and determination, I have learned not to hold malice.I am not saying I forget, I only forgive. And the most important thing here is to remember that revenge destroys you as much as it would the potential victim. It's not important who started it all. It's so much more meaningful to be the magnanimous one who learns a lesson from the past and simply moves on. And lets go. You must exorcise your own demons at the end of the day. For as Hamlet saw it, murdering the murderer would be akin to stooping to the murderer's own level. Therefore, he simply could not initiate action until Laertes had dealt him the death blow. Being attacked, he could retaliate, knowing that Laertes and he forgave each other even as they died. But Claudius' death does remain controversial as the question of ethics still hold. A modern day Hamlet, Bond works at the Freudian cure, reliving his past and thus overcoming it. I'm glad I did watch the film. I'd been going through a traumatic experience myself and it kind of purged me of my hurt. I'm no longer in rewind mode.

K says I think too much. On this occasion, I think he would be glad I did since the results are so positive in nature. As for the person who tried to hurt me, his/her dwelling on the past while I live in the present is ample punishment. What say you?

Btw, here you will find a simple and sensible essay on the theme of revenge in Hamlet, for those interested.

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