Tuesday, March 31, 2009

James : The Singer

The pain, the angst, the fervour, the ardour, the poetry, the music, the symbolism, the sensuality, the fever, the passion, the beauty of it all....it's ironic that I had to listen to 'Bheegi bheegi' (Gangster), 'Alvida' (Metro) and 'Rishtey' (Metro) to assess his range and worth as a singer . I owe you a big thank you, K, for re-introducing me to James !

God forbid though, that I'd ever have to experience what this felt like, in reality.

K means the world to me. I'm incomplete without him.

City Centre

City Centre, Salt Lake, has its own website , I just discovered...I'm a happy girl now :))))

Monday, March 30, 2009

Thundershowers et al

Well, we had quite an experience last Sunday evening. K and I had almost covered 4/5th of our walk route when we suddenly recalled that we were out of green chilli sauce, muri, chanachur, paneer and garlic paste ; we decided to take the road past Desi Bazaar so that we could purchase the necessary items on our way home (how easily we manage to use the word 'home' now to describe a rented apartment in a totally different country, though we're just here for a year or so now never fails to amaze me). Well, we'd just finished buying the things and were preparing to leave the store when we opened the door with dismay to find that the anticipated weekend thundershowers had actually (high time, since there had only been the intimidating inky black/slate grey cloudy skies and dense suffocation for the past two nights) begun and we had no umbrellas, raincoats or the car with us to bail us out. Unpleasant state of affairs, of course, particularly when you have two reasonably heavy polythene carry bags in both hands, including one containing incense).


After considerable chaotic thoughts and discussion, we decided to call up Abhishek Shinde, our neighbour and friend at Brookside, to come with his car and help us go home, particularly since it being a Sunday, the store in which we seemed to be stranded would itself shortly be closing (around 8 pm) and it was already a quarter past 7. K's call led to the latter's voicemail however. It was my turn. Despite K being awkward about all this asking for aid business, I decided to call up Mansi, Abhishek's wife and explain our situation. I'm glad I overlooked K's hesitation and called. Mansi was very prompt. She explained that Abhishek had been attending a call and had therefore not been able to answer K's call. But she'd pass on the message and see to it that we were 'rescued' pronto. Relieved, we strolled around the shop, trying to look sincerely interested in all it had to offer (not very convincing though, considering we'd been there many times and had by now almost memorised the contents of its whitewashed shelves) .

Luckily, Abhishek Bhaiyya turned up very soon, in dripping jacket with equally dripping umbrella (obviously the latter was rendered practically useless by the merciless onslaught of the thundershowers). We went to the car in pairs, K coming back to retrieve me, both at the shop and at our complex front parking area. He was keen on going home but the Shindes insisted that we stayed on for tea and an adda session and so we surrendered. K was baffled by my not being concerned so much about catching a cold in the pouring rain without mufflers etc to ward off any potential infection as not having my camera on me at that point in order to capture the beautifully vivid surreal looking clouds in the overcast sky. He thinks I'm becoming batty, what with all this 'I just have to get a photo now' phases of mine taking place too frequently nowadays for comfort. LOL.

Well, it was nice though, the long chat session. The guys had beer (I relented for a change) and we had tea. We started with thunder, hopped on to the smoke from Apt #1 in our complex early that morning and then went on to horror films and somehow finally ended up with Varun Gandhi's histrionic skills. The last would have left a bitter taste in the mouth, had we not ended with K's jeera rice and chicken keema that night. With walnut maple icecream for dessert. Yummy !

Sunday, March 29, 2009


K and I just finished watching Mulholland Drive...never been more stumped in our respective lives...seems like someone's unconscious came to faithful life in creating (?!) this David Lynch film. Man...are we frustrated !

P.S : Well, at least there was the much-hyped erotica. If that's any consolation at all.

And yes, I'm not going to give away anything for those to whom the film's still unfamilar territory. So there. Looking up the links isn't much fun if you have no idea about whatever happened in there. You have to watch it to really make sense of what I've just been saying !

Saturday, March 28, 2009


You can feel it all around.

In my state of mind (euphoric) ; in K's state of mind (serene), in the energy and enthusiasm Mansi and I /K and I are beginning to invest in our habitual walks each afternoon/evening (considerable). In the amount of people you get to see oudoors early in the morning or late in the evening (lots !). In the call of the wild (birds chirping frantically and dogs too awed to start their barking-at-strangers routine). In the smiles you are bestowed on by utter strangers when outdoors (the Carnegie magic). In the maniacal sweeping and cleaning that seems to be going on all around (indoors and out). In the distinct difference in the nature of fruits and vegetables that are now available at the local greengrocers (better nectarines and strawberries and even mangoes, it seems !). In the budding leaves on every single tree, bush and shrub (dense clumps and tight clusters of white/green/red). In the gradually increasing amount of daylight (sunset after 7 pm). In the unwillingness of the boys to stay cooped up at office for prolonged durations , now that they want to be home while the sunlight lasts and venture outdoors for a walk or a game. In the huge clearance sales at most shopping malls, where skirts, capris, walking shorts, dresses and sandals are replacing the stale stock of trousers, jackets, coats, mufflers and boots. In the Walmart ads of early spring flowers already being on sale. In our looking forward to the next long weekend, which happens to be Easter. In the rising hopes and swelling hearts everywhere.

Crocus flowers : Heralding a new seasonal cycle

Yup, there's no doubt about it. Spring's well on its way. And it's just the harbinger of better things.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Mixed veg recipe

I've been trying to experiment with a simple mixed veggies preparation for quite some time now and this one's come up trumps each time, so I thought I'd share it with all you guys. Here's the recipe :



Serves 4


Butter/Margarine – 3 tbsp
Flour – a pinch
Milk – half a cup
Table Cream/Sour Cream/Plain yoghurt – 1 tbsp
Onion -1 medium, finely chopped
Potato -2 large, cubed
Salt – adjust to taste
Sugar – adjust to taste
Crushed Black Pepper Flakes – 1 tsp

A big serving bowl of mixed vegetables:

Tomato – finely diced
Capsicum –finely diced/cut into thin strips
Beans – finely sliced
Carrots –finely sliced
Mushroom – finely sliced


Boil potatoes for about 10 min. Keep aside.
Heat butter on low flame till frothy. Add a pinch of flour and stir immediately to prevent lumps from forming.
Add onions and increase the heat to medium. Stir often.
Add boiled potatoes. Stir well and often till mixture is fragrant.
Add milk and stir well and often.
Season with salt, pepper and sugar.
Add tomato and capsicum. Keep stirring till well mixed and you can smell the cooked capsicum.
Add the rest of the vegetables. Decrease heat.
Cook alternately on high and low flame till the mixture emits water.
Add the cream/yoghurt and stir thoroughly.
Remove when you have enough gravy and all the vegetables are tender.


To dilute the preparation or re-heat, add a little milk.
To concentrate gravy, add a pinch of flour and/or cream.
To add depth and flavour to the preparation, add paanch-phoron (Indian 5 spices) to heated butter.

Have fun !

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Fwd : Love's Labour's Found

During a seminar, a woman asked," How do I know if I am with the right person?" the author then noticed that there was a large man sitting next to her so he said, "It depends. Is that your partner?" In all seriousness, she answered "How do you know?" Let me answer this question because the chancesare good that it's weighing on your mind replied the author. Here's the answer.

Every relationship has a cycle...in the beginning ; you fall in love withyour partner. You anticipate their calls, want their touch, and like their idiosyncrasies. Falling in love wasn't hard. In fact, it was a completely natural and spontaneous experience. You didn't have to DO anything. That's why it's called "falling" in love.

People in love sometimes say, "I was swept off my feet." Picture the expression. It implies that you were just standing there; doing nothing,and then something happened TO YOU. Falling in love is a passive and spontaneous experience. But after a few months or years of being together, the euphoria of love fades. It's a natural cycle of EVERY relationship. Slowly but surely, phone calls become a bother (if they come at all), touchis not always welcome (when it happens), and your spouse's idiosyncrasies, instead of being cute, drive you nuts. The symptoms of this stage vary with every relationship; you will notice a dramatic difference between the initial stage when you were in love and a much duller or even angry subsequent stage. At this point, you and/or your partner might start asking, "Am I with the right person?" And as you reflect on the euphoria of the love you once had, you may begin to desire that experience with someone else. This is when relationships breakdown.

The key to succeeding in a relationship is not finding the right person; it's learning to love the person you found.

People blame their partners for their unhappiness and look outside for fulfilment. Extramarital fulfilment comes in all shapes and sizes. Infidelity is the most common. But sometimes people turn to work, a hobby,a friendship, excessive TV, or abusive substances. But the answer to this dilemma does NOT lie outside your relationship. It lies within it. I'm not saying that you couldn't fall in love with someone else. You could. And TEMPORARILY you'd feel better. But you'd be in the same situation a fewyears later. Because (listen carefully to this):
The key to succeeding in arelationship is not finding the right person; it's learning to love theperson you found.

SUSTAINING love is not a passive or spontaneous experience. You have to work on it day in and day out. It takes time, effort, and energy. And most importantly, it demands WISDOM. You have to know WHAT TO DO to make it work. Make no mistake about it. Love is NOT a mystery. There are specific things you can do (with or without your partner). Just as there are physical laws of the universe (such as gravity), there are also laws for relationships. If you know and apply these laws, the results are predictable. Love is therefore a "decision". Not just a feeling.

Remember this always: God determines who walks into your life. It is up to you to decide who you let walk away, who you let stay, and who you refuse to let GO!!

Thank you for this e-forward, Priyanka...I owe you one.

Re : Shades of Sunset

I was aroused from my nap yesterday afternoon by a sudden change of weather, attested to by the wind quite literally howling and growling in my ears, especially since the surprisingly warm sunny weather had enticed me to leave the window up and the blinds undrawn. I got up, groggy-eyed, to close the window and put the blinds to, but the spectacular shades of sunset in the sky at that moment (almost exactly 5.15 pm) wouldn't allow me to remain in bed any longer.I practically ran to find my camera and capture the vivid flourishes of gold, pink, violet and blue that swept across the sky and left me trembling with an inexplicable ecstasy. K says that the colours are so bright and plentiful here because of the relatively nominal pollution. That makes me wish we could convince everyone back home to each do their daily bit to keep the environment clean and clear, if only for the sake of being blessed with such divine views. Here are a couple of photos. Please click on them to view enlarged versions.

Aren't they simple gorgeous ?

P.S. Here are the latest captures :

K had to re-route the car and stop abruptly for the latter, we're both glad we did (he, because it now seems totally worth it and me, because he looked pretty grim at that moment !)...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Yesterday evening, both K and I were feeling singularly low. There was no palpable sadness or boredom or wistfulness, just the burden of indifference and extreme detachment. I took hardly any interest in our shopping sortie at 'Stop N Shop' yesterday, which was a particular cause of concern for K, since I do usually display quite a lot of enthisiasm via exploration and experimentation every time we embark on a stuffing-the-fridge-to-death trip. K thinks we shouldn't have watched 'Oliver Twist' on a Sunday afternoon, we were evidently suffering from a hangover. But I couldn't be sure ; it might also be the betrayal of spring. Officially the first day of spring here, 20th March, was marred by flurries in the morning and extreme wind chill. The unusually warm weather for the past fortnight or so seemed to have given way with a vengeance to the last of the winter blasts. K had to pull out his thermals morosely yestoday morning and we slept with two comforters last night. Soundly, true, but a tad dejected. It might also have been the weekend hangover, you know...Monday blues and what not. For K, of course, he has to return to his office on Mon morning.

But what occasions this post is the recollection of my dismissal of the Twist hangover being met by K's extraordinary explanation for our bleak state of mind : the prospect of eating vegetables on Monday night (esp because I had made a cabbage curry, which he is rather bored of now; the cabbage I mean, not my cooking, silly !) after a shamelessly decadent non-veg (tandoori chicken kebabs + lamb rogan josh) weekend. He is, in fact, astonished at how he manages to make it through the usually veggies 4-day (Mon-Thu) week; since we usually reserve all our fancy non-veg preparations for the weekend.

Well, I've heard of umpteen reasons to feel down till date, but this one sure took the cake !

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Please click to enlarge :

Of all orkut related forwards, this one just has to be the hands-down winner !

Forward : Brain Train !

Try it...it's fun !

"1. What do you put in a toaster?

Answer: 'bread..' If you said 'toast,' give up now and do something else.
Try not to hurt yourself.
If you said, bread, go to Question 2.

2. Say ' silk' five times. Now spell 'silk.' What do cows drink?

Answer: Cows drink water. If you said 'milk,' don't attempt the next question.
Your brain is over-stressed and may even overheat.
Content yourself with reading a more appropriate literature such as Auto World.
However, if you said 'water', proceed to question 3.

3. If a red house is made from red bricks and a blue house is made from blue bricks and a pink house is made from pink bricks and a black house is made from black bricks, what is a green house made from?

Answer: Greenhouses are made from glass. If you said 'green bricks,' why are you still reading these ??? If you said 'glass,' go on to Question 4.

4. It's twenty years ago, and a plane is flying at 20,000 feet over Germany (If you will recall, Germany at the time was politically divided into West Germany and East Germany.)
Anyway, during the flight, two engines fail. The pilot, realizing that the last remaining engine is also failing, decides on a crash landing procedure.
Unfortunately the engine fails before he can do so and the plane fatally crashes smack in the middle of 'no man's land' between East Germany and West Germany.
Where would you bury the survivors? East Germany, West Germany, or no man's land'?

Answer: You don't bury survivors. If you said ANYTHING else, you're a dunce and you must stop.
If you said, 'You don't bury survivors', proceed to the next question.

5. Without using a calculator.
You are driving a bus from London to Milford Haven in Wales.
In London, 17 people get on the bus.
In Reading, six people get off the bus and nine people
get on.
In Swindon, two people get off and four g et on.
In Cardiff, 11 people get off and 16 people get on.
In Swansea, three people get off and five people get
on ..
In Carmarthen, six people get off and three get on. You
then arrive at Milford Haven.
What was the name of the bus driver?

Answer: Oh, for crying out loud!
Don't you remember your own name? It was YOU!!

Now pass this along to all your friends and pray they
do better than you.

PS: 95% of people fail most of the questions!!"

Go Green !

Officially our Brookside Gardens monthly brochure says Tue, 17th March is St Patrick's Day , but we'd forgotten all about the parade to take place here, on Main Street, on 15th March since it's a Sunday and everybody would actually be able to participate. I was a bit taken aback by the merrymaking over Durga Puja here, which seemed to be taking place over a period of several weekends rather than on the panjika-designated 5 auspicious days, which we'd been accustomed to, since childhood. Convenience seems to be the keyword here rather than custom. I wonder how NRIs of Indian origin explain pujo to their children, the occasion losing so much of its authenticity of appeal or mythical mysticism by taking place consecutively at one weekend at Plainsfield, another at Edison and so on. In any case, it's not so much of a manifestation of divinity as a regulation reunion of sorts. One of the few occasions you get to wear a saree, deck up in your marriage jewellery and stand patiently in a queue to partake of bhog. And then go back to routine jeans-tee life the next day.

Anyway, I diverge. K and I were out for a walk on Sunday, trying desperately to lose our carefully cultivated winter fat, and providing updates on our respective mobiles to Sushmit and Ma of our not-so-eventful life. We were on our way home when we noticed a lot of people, entire families in fact, decked up in green ormamentation of quite a noticeable variety and all apparently headed for the Main Street, cameras, tents and water bottles in tow, despite the highly overcast sky. We rushed home, changed into green (I wore a green-black horizontally striped tee while K donned a green sweater), grabbed my camera and a water bottle and walked rapidly to the aforementioned centre of attraction. The entire town seemed to have descended on the scene. People had shown up in anything green they possessed, which ranged from green jackets or shirts or jeans or cardigans to green necklaces, green shades, green hats, green shoes, green streaked hair, green shamrock brooches, green wristlets. We even spotted numerous small dogs of all varieties possible decked up in green dresses (or whatever you'd prefer to call those items of apparel). There were even streetside vendors with green hued popcorn (bleh), green-tinted hot dogs (meh) and huge carts of green accessories, balloons and hats and dolls and streamers and fake furs and trumpets and what not.

My camera battery gave way much before the event actually started, which is why I don't have too many photos of the parade itself to show you. Basically, all the schools and clubs and committees and communities and squads and groups turned up in full force and more memorably, in uniform, to make the event a real spectacle. Young boys and girls from the local martial arts club strod past, very prim and proper. Middle aged men and women in cream and green cable-knit sweaters from the local dance school simpered and twirled along the grey road. Schoolbus loads of gaily waving champions of the Immaculata School basketball and wrestling competitions, tapdancing teenagers in black tanktops and lyotards creating a panorama of dancing flags in various shades of green and brown, schoolgirls dressed in fuschia dresses and tights performing a flag dance with bright green and yellow festoons, tiny tots who were simply small and sweet passed by in teeny weeny carriages past the madly cheering spectators. War veterans marched along with badges and brooches pinned on their spick and span uniforms, the local police musicians trumpeted by to the American national anthem while early Irish settlers of Somerville played their hornpipes, all very colourful in kilts and socks. Even the local fire brigades, rescue squad and paramedics' vans all slowly drove past, all freshly painted and adorned with balloons, streamers and ribbons. Certain parts of the procession involved throwing fistfuls of candy at the younger spectators, which met with immediate appreciation in the form of toddlers and teenagers gleefully running to and fro to snatch up the trophies and rush back to the safety of their guardians' sides, big grins plastered on their faces. But the highlight of the day was a trained and highly disciplined group of gigantic Irish greyhounds who walked past with their justly proud owners, a study in serenity. I was really upset at my dysfunctional camera at that moment. It was a moment worth capturing on film.

The main street bore a festive but uncluttered look as residents stood/sat patiently on either pavement, eager and enthusiastic onlookers who cheered when they spotted an acquaintance in the procession or identified a known officer among the numerous administrative personnel who allowed a glimpse of their most informal sides that day. Dogs or children, men or women, they all stood patient and expectant without any of the rude jostling that so characterises Kolkata crowds at Pujo pandals or mass revelries. It was an interesting experience that left a sweet green taste in the mouth.

P.S. Please click on each photo to view its enlarged version.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

At Last !

We were almost dying of anticipation but this just revived us...what fun !

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Suppppper !

Hey you guys, just have a look at this ...

It's awesome. I cried too (as usual).
And do check out the numerous video comments on YouTube itself, it made me so glad to discover how, for a change, music instead of religion or politics or overhyped patriotism, could provoke such unity of spirit...hurrah !

P.S. This one was forwarded by Barnali and it's as moving as the other, if a trifle more cosmopolitan...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Paradise Lost

I was just wondering how we react to changing circumstances and whether that really makes us master of our own fortunes to the extent we'd like to be. A friend put up photos of her sister's newborn baby yesterday and that was the trigger for these reflections. I just can't get over the wonder of the process of growth of a newborn into a full fledged adult and then actually leaving the nest to discover life. The sheer contrast between the helplessness of the infant and the ruthlessness of the adult astounds me. I was watching 'To Kill a Mocking Bird' yesterday and the experience of innocence transforming into experience was a marvel indeed. It's been going on for ages, this metamorphosis, and yet one wonders. At the cycle of life that fuses good with evil and makes us embrace both to attain wisdom. No use grieving over the once trailing clouds of glory and the angelic (if limited) existence that we were cocooned in. Much as they might have wanted to, parents have never been able to shield their children from the darker, baser side of life. It will happen. One way or the other. And they all (even the victims, at times) remain unhappy onlookers (and even participants) of that momentous occasion.

Ma slipped and fell down the stairs of our home on 17th Feb, 2009. Her nightdress and chappals caught on the rails of the collapsible gate that looms midway between our ground and first floor and dragged her down several stairs, taking her by such shock that it was all over before she realised that something had happened, and further, not being able to get up indicated at some unpleasant development. Mitu called me up frantically here and I ransacked my address book to locate the phone numbers of a couple of neighbours and relatives who might be able to reach the spot fast before the situation took a turn for the worse. Both Mitu and K tried Baba's cellphone but it went on ringing without any vocal response. It was 11.45 here at night and we had just been about to turn in for the night. Finally, we managed to communicate with Dr Sur, our neighbour (a very old gentleman) and Pranab Kaku. They promised immediate aid. A couple of hours later, K woke up a headache-treated-with-crocin-groggy me to offer the information that Baba had arrived and they had reached Baba's hospital to get an X-ray done. Ma had torn 60 of the 1000 ligaments of her ankle, the condition being serious enough to be bracketed as a simple fracture and impair normal movement for more than 21 days. Three whole weeks has now been extended to a month, Mitu tells me. The whole world has gone topsy turvy at the small Mandal microcosm and I'm just sitting here and drowning my helplessness and pain in words. I now realise what most women in patriarchial society lose with marriage : the solace of happily executing their own small but well-demarcated duties to parents and siblings in an oh-so-familiar world. My own situation is not the general one perhaps. Not everyone is living in a different land after marriage. But you can't but concede that yes, it has the potential of developing into the permanent and general situation some day in this era of mass migration and globalisation. The trauma of being a hapless (n)on-looker of the trials & tribulations of one's immediate family and too far away to be of much practical aid is an agony I don't possess the audacity to express in words.

This is the same parent that carried me in her womb for 9 months and nurtured me for God knows how many sleepless nights and days. Maybe she continues to do it even now. And here I am. A sphinx of solipsistic splendour.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Dishwasher's Day Out

We brought a small bottle of 225 ml Vim Dishwash Liquid, costing just Rs 25, from Gariahat More to USA and guess what, we managed to use only 95% of it in a total of 5 and a 1/2 months ! Can you beat that? No, I'm not stingy by nature, certainly not so when it comes to dishwashing. Neither am I exaggerating. The bottle is designed to deliver exactly one drop per push and that one drop, I once noted, could clean no less than 4 extremely greasy, typical-Indian-oil-and-turmeric-cooking tainted dishes. I still have 5% of it stowed safely away (you can see it in the photo), for cleaning my gas range top. In mid-Dec, I bought this huge bottle of Palmolive Dishwash Liquid (25 oz/739 ml) from 'Stop N Shop' and 2 and a half months down, there's only about 2/5th of it left. It's fortified with the extracts of aloe and supposedly 'softens your hands while you do the dishes'. That's nice, no doubt, but I wish it would live upto its promise of being 'Tough on Grease, Soft on Hands' in a more practical manner. There's a whole lot of foam and suds generated when it comes in contact with water to be sure, but I have to use quite a generous dollop of it to get my dishes spanking clean. Dawn and Palmolive being the most widely used brands over here and available in quite a few variants (not to speak of colours, where they might match upto VIBGYOR effortlessly), I certainly harboured a lot of expectations from them. And now that I consider, I think I'd rather stick to my moisturiser for a handcare routine rather than a dishwash liquid. If it's so hell bent on skincare, why don't they store it in the cosmetics aisle instead ?

And when it comes to cleaning my spotlessly white (well, initially, I mean) gas range, that's what I've actually reserved the rest of my Vim Dishwash Liquid for. The lemon in the Vim just brushes away the dirt like magic. I once tried using the Palmolive one, but it just turned the black marks into light brown and then gave up. May it rest in peace.

Oh, and I mustn't forget to sing paeans to Scotchbrite. I got two teeny weeny bits of them from Spencer's, Kalikapur, prior to our arrival. Over 8 months down the line, they're still alive and kicking, though a trifle discoloured and denuded of their initial evenness and flawlessness. No, I'm not about to compare Scotchbrite bought in USA to those bought in India. I'm just lost in wonder at the versatility and durability of the article concerned. Its abrasive surface is rough enough to remove all the cooking generated scum and grease and yet soft enough to scrub the bathtub surface with it. And no, I don't (shudder) use it for the two simultaneously; I do actually have two. One observation I just need to make is that the two pieces I brought over from India are almost 1/6th the size of those available here. That makes me infer that we in India could perhaps afford to be much more economical in our lifestyle (though I shouldn't generalise, keeping in mind the mysteriously open taps on streetside corners, irrespective of human presence/absence). Well, the small sized Scotchbrites should at least inspire us to make the most of limited resources. Less Scotchbrite obviously would need less water to moisten it and therefore lower water consumption etc. That makes sense to me for sure.

Following this chain of association led me to discover some interesting ads in YouTube on saving water. I give you the best of the lot below:

Funny Fish Cartoon:

A child's cry:

Simple, stark contrast :

This was just plain brilliant :

Although I do consciously try to minimise the wastage of water in my everyday chores, I think I've probably still got a long way to go in terms of my water management skills. What about you ?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Of Slums & Slum-Dogs

Life even after 'Slumdog Millionaire' (from an email forward):

Do we still feel like celebrating ?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Sense & Sensibility : The Film (1995)

I read the novel way back in school simply for the sake of the story and then in JUDE, during my B.A., more perceptively, savouring the irony and gentle humour, the variety and quirks of character, the complex consequences of emotional and social pressures. And now, as I watch the film, I'm glad that I've been able to grasp a yet better understanding of the sense and sensibility that run like a leit motif throughout the film and endow the source with enough life to enjoy the essential timelessness of an Austen novel without subtracting anything from its substance and subtlety. For a change, the film lives upto the standards set by the novel it sought to realise, and yet, succeeds in establishing its own niche in the cinematic repertory.

After marriage, which helped to catalyse maturity in my own humble self, it is easier to empathise with the finer nuances of a well rounded temperament that Austen sought to unify in the dichotomies embodied by Elinor and Marianne. The conflicting but necessary qualities of restraint and spontaneity, reserve and romanticism, prudence and passion, are reconciled by their being nurtured in equal amounts in one's self so that one knows how/when to choose to exercise the most appropriate emotion. It may seem or sound artificial, as if one should react to life rather than fashioning one's own fate for oneself. But on much reflection, I consider that circumstances in life, particularly the character and intentions of other people being far beyond the abilies of our mostly well meaning selves to manoeuvre, it does make sense to be at least in control of what we ourselves can or may make of them. Willoughby's expectations from life or Edward's past are areas that lie beyond the veil of the narrative environs, but Marianne's poignant attempts to translate Shakespearean idealism into reality or Elinor's efforts at altruism are plausibly controllable, despite narcissistic extremisms mirrored in the respectively mean, mercenary or mundane orientations of Fanny Dashwood, Lucy Steele or Charlotte Palmer. Life can still be started anew, fortified by a Blakean experience embodied in Colonel Brandon or comforted by the commitment evidenced in Edward's actions or nurtured by the cheering knowledge of possessing meaningful friends and neighbours like Mrs Jennings or Mr Palmer. Elinor and Marianne recognise what they respectively lack just in time to retrieve their respective selves from anguish and disillusionment and revise their lessons of life with greater wisdom and worth. Theirs is a realistic reassessment of life, reinforcing not the negative quality of resignation but rather the positive one of reconciliation.

As for histrionic skills, the film boasts a quality cast, of which the finest and most heartwarming would easily be Emma Thompson as Elinor Dashwood. Understated and subtle, she delivers an outstanding performance. If her unforgettable "Don't leave me alone..." at Marianne's impending death stirs the very soul with the intangible fear and horror of imminent self confrontation, her emotional outbursts before Marianne after Edward's past becomes public property, and finally towards the end, when Edward shocks the Dashwoods with the assertion of his self-imposed bachelorhood, are too subtle to arrest in words. They must be watched and felt for oneself to gauge the totality of their impact. Winslet is brilliant as the vivacious and effervescent Marianne, impulsive and irrational, coy and coquettish, rash and remorseful, beautifully in sync with the demands of the changing storyline. Hugh Grant brings the somewhat colourless Edward to remarkable life with his own brand of beatification, the very personification of shyness and simplicity, confusion and charm, chivalry and courtesy. Alan Rickman, essaying the role of Colonel Brandon, stirs and shakes with his portrayal of the reserved and refined man who stands as stolidly as a lighthouse by the women he loves, come snow or shine. Hugh Laurie renders a memorable cameo as the astringent yet sensitive Mr Palmer while Harriet Walter arouses just the right amount of revulsion in the audience with her manipulative moves and calculated courtesies. Greg Wise manages to do justice to the pivotal role of Willoughby, the sincere lover with an insencere temperament. Imogen Stubbs does a wonderful job of realising the mercenary minded Lucy Steele while Elizabeth Spriggs gives the right finishing touches to the benign matriarch Mrs Jennings. Emilie Francois is a mini sensation, adding truth and tangibility to the fragile Victorian microcosm with her abrupt allusions to geographic entities and the destructive dimensions of gossip mongering that loom large beyond the sheltering horizons of home and family. Her abrupt reference to the characteristics of the weather renders just enough comic distraction to relieve the evidently strained atmosphere within Barton Cottage precipitated by Edward's unexpected arrival and herald a season of hope and harmony.

Be it Shakespeare's sonnets or Marianne's mellifluous piano recitals, the characteristically fickle British rainfall or the sudden shift of scene midway to London, each play their respective parts to perfection in helping the story to progress and drawing out the attributes of the highly individualised characters. The film is an iridescent collage of sorts that cleverly complements and highlights one of the best samples of Austen's craftmanship.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Anniversary gifts

A Nikon CoolPix S550 :

For those interested, technical details are available at

Card & Chocolates :

Am so in a state of bliss :-)

And this is my gift to K, not as expensive, but with a whole lot of energy and enthusiasm underlying it all, not to forget the effort !

Muffler :

Well ?


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