11 Days Later: Resolutions

Verdict: Not too bad!

I bought this pretty-ish journal to fill in with the shenanigans of this year, and so far I have been fairly regular about sticking to forming good habits. I still have a few more I’d like to add to the overall mix, but thus far the progress has been satisfactory.

On the weight-loss front: Sadly, I had to drop my MMA classes. Budgetary constraints being the sole reason. I loved these classes, even though I was not progressing at the speed of the entire class, and I still had to get my boxing gloves and wraps. But the class itself awoke a desire and verve to be fitter and healthier, and shed some serious fat while enjoying myself. I also managed to reset my body clock, and have started waking naturally much earlier than before. I have now opted to go for a walk in the building area every morning, and follow up with some basic cardio from Sworkit at home. Two days in, and loving it.

On the bookworm habit: Didn’t read a book last week, so already 1 behind on my reading challenge of the year. However, I have drilled through another book already, and am more than three-quarters done with it. I do have some books I started last year to finish as well, and will increase my challenge count accordingly when I finish them. No cheating!

365 blogs this year: Mostly on track with this one too, considering I am currently writing my 10th post of the year. I am slightly behind, but that’s because I don’t sometimes have time to get to it. I anticipate travelling will also eat into time I set aside for blogging, but will give me plenty of fodder! So overall, win.

Things I still have to find time for:
– Practising French
– Keeping up with the sketching tutorials I started last year
– Filling my comic diary with some stories
– Baking/cooking more – I currently stick to easy stuff like noodles and eggs and rotis
Learning the fundamentals of photography – very necessary for upcoming work
– Picking up some key related skills to content strategy – UX, elements of web design, colour theory, and so on.

Well, that’s it really. I’m not displeased overall, and by the looks of things, I am unlikely to lapse from the set course. I’ve reached the point where exercise is less about goals, and more about needing to do it for my body to feel good. So I’m pleased about that. I only hope I don’t lose complete touch with boxing and Muay Thai, because I did love that so.

Here’s to more improvement in the days to come!

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Nakedness and Profanity

I saw an art experiment video a few weeks ago [I think on Bored Panda. Yes!], where two women body-paint a model, and take her through the local mall. The woman isn’t completely naked, as she has a thong on, a couple of nipple pasties, a hat, pair of boots, and a scarf. The painted outfit comprised a long-sleeved, patterned black t-shirt and a pair of distressed jeans. It was all very realistic, even though it appeared to be extremely “tight” clothing.

The reactions were mostly amazement, but a few people didn’t even realise that she was unclothed. Those who did – at least some of the men – started surreptitiously filming her too.

At the time, I read the article, watched the video, and shook my head in amazement at people’s ability to come up with radical ideas for art, and then have the gumption to carry it out. But it wasn’t till I was describing the video to someone else that the “cover up” angle struck me.

The clothes painted on the model are actually fairly conservative, skin exposure-wise. They are “figure-hugging” obviously, but overall it isn’t a skimpy outfit. Thus, in the true sense of the word, she is all covered up. That is, her SKIN is covered up. So does that make the colour of skin objectionable in some way? Or since no one reacted poorly (or at least on the video) to the skin-tight “clothes”, wouldn’t the SHAPE of the body be more inappropriate, so to speak?

All right, so I have no answers to those questions, because I have this vague sense of appropriate and inappropriate that is culturally dinned into my head. If I examine it too carefully, the premise falls apart. At least, it is devoid of logic in my mind that the human body (generally the female one) should be covered up to suit the propriety of other people. The word ‘respect’ is bandied about frequently in conjunction with religious places, where “proper” attire is expected. In that case, this girl’s “outfit” is conservative, yet she is wearing next to nothing – a fact one would only realise on very careful observation, to be honest.

In a less extreme scenario, this has happened with me. I tend to spend much of my life outside home clad in jeans and a t-shirt. Granted, the t-shirts vary in style, cut, colour, transparency, and other factors, but they serve to mostly cover my torso.

During my trip to an ashram in Kerala, the same one where my father passed away, I was prevailed upon to drape a shawl on my person in public. [I wouldn’t say I was forced, because I opted to yield in an effort to avoid confrontation. But I wouldn’t have done it unless I was exhorted to do it. It was unwillingly done, is what I am trying to say.]

In those environs, my dress code – for the lack of a better description – was inappropriate. Most of the women wore sarees with sleeved blouses, both long and short. It was unusual to see a woman wearing a salwar kameez, the other ubiquitous Indian outfit, so me in my jeans [and my mother in her capris] caused quite the sensation.

One of the resident ladies there, Dr. B, who assisted with the setup of a primary health care centre as she was a doctor, was an unpleasant, abrasive woman with strong opinions, which she repeatedly forced down people’s throats. There are several stories about her antics, but I choose not to corrupt my blog with reiterating that negativity apart from this small sample.

Dr. B came up to us one afternoon, to tell us about a prayer meeting that was scheduled later in the day. She looked me over, and exclaimed, rather impertinently: “Don’t you wear salwar kameezes at all?!” implying that this was some major character flaw with her tone and incredulity. Not that I needed to justify it to her, but I do actually don an ethnic outfit occasionally; the important factor in these sartorial decisions being my own desire to wear them at all.

In the time that has since passed, I have thought of innumerable ways I’d rather have responded to that insolent remark. Of course, the moment is lost and shall forevermore remain so, but it does sometimes give me a certain amount of vicious pleasure to think of taking that odious woman down a couple of notches. How uncharitable of me. I’m working on it. 😦

All these thoughts jostled in my mind and became almost connected to each other. And then I had an epiphany which resounded in my mind with almost bell-like clarity: the profanity of someone’s attire doesn’t lie with the person, but in the eyes and mind of the beholder.

[I know other people say this too, but to have the connections snap together in one fluid motion is quite the experience.]

Therefore, if I have a problem with someone’s outfit, the problem lies solely with me. Vice versa too. I am actually rather comfortable with that thought.

Movie Review: The Age of Adaline

Blake Lively is the only reason I watched this movie. To be honest, I always thought she was stunning, but after her marriage to Ryan Reynolds, I realised that she is a hilarious being in her own right. I even sat through 6 seasons of Gossip Girl because of it, although that was also partially due to the unbelievable clothes too.

The Age of Adaline has been on my radar for a while, so when it appeared on Netflix, I decided to jump in right away.

Story: Adaline was born a normal baby, grew to be a normal little lady, and reached her 29th year of existence in relative normalcy. She got married to a man, had a baby girl, and their lives proceeded along their natural courses for a few years. Then she loses her husband in an accident, and shortly thereafter she meets with a fatal car crash herself. She is plunged into freezing water, and her heart stops. A bolt of lightning strikes her car, and thus her, in about 2 minutes and her heart is reanimated. She is 29 years old at the time, and the year is 1937.

In present day 2015, Adaline is still 29 years old. She has changed her identity multiple times, and moves from place to place every 10 years, to avoid detection and possibly imprisonment. She is set to move once again, until Ellis Jones enters her life.

Review: The movie’s pace was too slow for my taste. There is very little mystery surrounding Adaline’s fantastical condition, and thus my interest waned after the first half an hour. Essentially the movie is a dramatic love story with a twist of one element; it otherwise retains its immense predicability.

Story: I thought the overall premise of Adaline and her ability not to age (or curse, depending how you choose to look at it) was a fabulous one, and could have been explored in a multitude of ways. There are interesting touches to the narrative: the fact that she continues to dress modestly, well into the 21st century, is one that was immediately apparent. She is anachronistic for this age, and in spite of seeing several decades go by, her core nature remains unchanged. Her mien is laced with a certain unexpressed fatigue, although she doesn’t come across as jaded.

I would have personally liked to see a broader depiction of the story, where her daughter ageing before her is explored in more detail. There is also minimum conflict between any of the characters, and those that do appear are resolved almost instantly.

Characters: Except for Adaline, the other characters are rather like living props. They exist solely to support this central character, and the only one that somewhat exists outside that boundary is Harrison Ford’s William Jones. The others could have been replaced with cardboard cutouts.

Acting: Exactly what I said about the characters, in the paragraph above, replacing Adaline with Blake Lively.

What I liked: The premise was interesting. The elements were also there to make for an excellent story, but were spread somewhat thinly across the movie. Also, I think is worth noting that Blake Lively is a masterful actress, whose approach to this role was betrays incredible intelligence.

What I disliked: Ultimately, it got boring. And predictable.

Rating: ✩✩

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Overwhelmed

I am constantly astounded by my ability to experience vastly different emotions from morning to evening. Till early afternoon, I was feeling rather buoyant overall. I put that squarely at the door of finding someone attractive, and dare I say them finding you attractive in return. Early stages yet, obviously, but this interaction definitely holds a lot of promise.

Heading off for a nap, to reflect on the ridiculous butterflies that had erupted in my midsection, I was fine. And then I woke up.

In all my castle-building, I had temporarily shelved the problem of work. More specifically, where are the next lot of projects going to come from? Basically the ogre of finances reared its ugly head. Being an entrepreneur requires a marketing mindset, and I appear to lack that vital aspect.

My parents, both exceptionally talented in their respective domains, always said that I had to knock on doors. Yes, but how exactly does one knock on virtual doors in this country? To get the simplest acknowledgement is such a monumental ask in the first place that I suspect cold callers get the cold shoulder with depressing regularity.

Last night, and a portion of this morning, was fairly bleak, as I considered options. I am glad that one of my projects is coming to close, to be honest, because while they’ve been decent, they’ve also expected me to jump through a lot of hoops. The second big project has been born off this one, where one of the directors asked me to consult for his wife’s company too. That is going great now, albeit it had its fits and starts in the beginning.

I got an earful from the mother about not giving the accessories enough attention, and it forced me to confront my fears about them: the marketing thing again; the funds that I need to pump into the enterprise; and much more besides.

After a bit of girding of the loins and general cleaning of mental cobwebs, the mental funk has passed. None of the situational circumstances have changed, but at the will to continue is back.

That’s something.

Being The Other Woman: The Scumbag Edition

JP. [Aside: I have lots of stories about the maniac that is JP, but in the archives of the old blog. I have to extract and post them here at some point. Too salacious to miss.] JP. The very pinnacle of scumminess all bundled up into one human being. Liar, cheater, addict, dealer, and so much more. None of which I knew when he walked into my office building one evening.

I was a new, wet-behind-the-ears editor at a local newspaper, and I was working late one evening. I didn’t know all the staff writers, nor did I know the freelance writers who regularly dropped into the office. So when JP walked past my office that fateful evening, did a double take, and walked IN to my office, I was under the highly mistaken impression that he was a writer.

I asked him as much, and he outright lied and said he was. I took it at face value, and spoke to him for a while. I was very friendly, because new job and wanted to make a good impression on fellow colleagues. A week or so later, I get a message on Facebook. He had found me, and proceeded to chat with me there. He was witty [and stole his lines from the Internet to maintain that facade] and quite confident. But something was off.

I met him for coffee one afternoon, and we sort of clicked. He made me laugh, but he frightened me a little with his crazy eyes. He also told a lot of stories about being part of the underworld, and rubbish like that. I was properly off put. However, I went home and told my mum about this, and she said I should give him a chance. So I did.

Big mistake. He wanted only one thing from me, but he wanted to possess me otherwise too. I became the repository of all his needs, wants, desires, frustrations, and much more. I held out for a long time, because I wasn’t comfortable with him yet.

One fine day, he tells me about his ward cum sister cum daughter from Pune. Originally from Fiji, this waif apparently needed rescuing, and she was living with him in Goa. Mmhmm.

Long story short, it was his wife. He tried to pass off his WIFE as his ward. There are so many facets to this story that are contained in the other posts, which I will post later on.

Before I found out about this though, I did end up spending time with him. I don’t know what it was about damaged people that I wanted to heal with kindness and love. Ridiculous, in retrospect, because I was brainless twerp and these people needed counselling. In JP’s case, he needed incarceration.

Fashion Police

One evening, last week, I was trying to work quietly, while the midget was checking out the photographs of the media-crazed coverage of Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma’s reception in Mumbai.

I made a concerted effort to concentrate on reading about strategic financial management for a client website, but I was finally laughing too hard to concentrate.

In an effort to document my glee, I started documenting these earnest asides from my mother. I was not disappointed.

1. Rekha: She looked so nice in the linen sari she wore last time, now she’s gone back to looking like a Christmas tree.
2. Priyanka Chopra: She dresses so well normally! Couldn’t her stylist iron her sari?!
3. Amitabh Bachchan: Needs a stylist desperately. He looks like an upholstery cover.
4. Shahrukh Khan: He had dressed like a human being for once! [I have no idea what this is supposed to mean!]
5. Sidharth Malhotra: His sleeve is embroidered in one place, like an accent. Cushion cover in the making. Combined with Amitabh, they make a fantastic sofa set.
6. Varun Dhawan: Trying too hard.
7. Nita Ambani: She drips money. It’s not a bad look; it just LOOKS expensive.
8. Katrina Kaif: Look at this mermaid. [I lost it at this one.]
9. Ibrahim Ali Khan: There’s a turtle on his jacket. Why?
10. Siddharth Roy Kapur [next to Aditya]: Ooh these brothers look good! For once he doesn’t look like a pumpkin in a churidaar-kurta.
11. Shashank Khaitan [Had to Google this.]: His dhoti, I think it is a dhoti, is straight from the laundry basket. And who wear turquoise socks with brown suede shoes? I’m lost for words. [Clearly.]

[Peppered amongst comments about how beautiful most of them look.]

Book Review: Lincoln in the Bardo

The cover, with curling green vines and a sepia photo of a child, is what first attracted my attention to this book. The fact that I didn’t know what a ‘bardo’ was, was the second riveting factor. The third was that it was a Man Booker prize winner, but the clincher was that it was magic realism. I was hooked.

Author: George Saunders

Story: President Lincoln and his wife Martha lose their young son Willie. He is temporarily interred into the crypt of another family, and thereafter the grief-stricken father comes to visit his son’s body a few more times. The story unfolds over the course of one day, and mostly takes place in the graveyard, where departed souls are stuck in a limbo between life and death.

Many of the characters are these departed souls, and their adamant refusal to either move on, or accept that they are dead, forms a large part of the narrative. Many have hideous deformities specific to their thoughts and desires, but all are united in the belief that they are alive; just very sick.

The limbo is bardo, a Tibetan term. The main story is relatively straightforward, but the bulk of the narrative switches between characters, their lives before death, and their decision to remain tethered to life.

Writing: The language was slightly tricky, because I have recently opted to stick to modern fiction, and the styles of Lincoln’s time are vastly different. That being said, the trick was not to get bogged down in the structure of the novel, which is rather strange. It reads a bit like a play, rather than a novel, and for a time I was terribly confused.

I would have thought that the story was peculiar enough without having to structure the writing in the form of dialogues and source/reference quotations. And yet, there it was.

I also found some of the actions of the characters, clearly meant to be deep symbolism, incredibly baffling. I guess I should put that down to becoming more literal in my old age.

Pace: At the end of the book, I thought it could have been massively condensed without losing too much of the main arc. There were so many secondary characters, I lost the ability to keep track of them, never mind their stories. It was fortunate that I was on holiday when reading this, because I didn’t have any distractions to use as excuses to put away a book that was no doubt extremely interesting, but difficult to actually read.

Conclusion: My review may sound quite negative, but I did enjoy the book immensely. Once I got over my discomfort of the unfamiliar structure and the old-timey language, I was quite happy to see the events unfold in front of me. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes new approaches to literature; although I cannot say with any certainty that it is indeed new. Definitely worth a read.

Rating: ✩✩✩✩

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