Saturday, January 30, 2010

Destruction like never before

Humanity, like humans, changes its color under various lights. Set against an apocalyptic background what does it mean? Who would be the benefactor and who would be the victim of your humanity? I am not sure if we could be represented by just a single voice and single theory saying " Open the gates, save everyone".Like it happened in the movie 2012 I saw a while ago.

I've never seen anyone, either in movies or real life, have so many near misses as the main protagonist and his family in 2012. The introduction scene of the chemistry between the heroine and her second husband in a supermarket is worth a laugh. They are shopping for macaroni in a super market and this guy suddenly says "Let's make our own baby". And right when they start discussing what keeps them apart there is a fissure running right between them. Obviously, the universe got angry. CNN reports zero casualties later. That's another story anyway.

Let's focus. I see this is a much harder statement to make in the times of apocalypse, but I am mistaken. The hero and the family are so focused that they escape all the moving fronts of lava, oil tanks exploding, buildings falling over and guess what, they even knock off the head of the empire state building and feel good about it. Finally they have been offered a chance to be naughty with this whole apocalypse thing. As an Aerospace Engineer, I haven't seen a better propeller airplane in air-travel history. The flight is less turbulent than it would be in normal, non-apocalyptic times when the same obstacles are placed. The second husband, a doctor who has a few hours of flying experience with his wax wings completes this operation successfully. I was already amazed and felt safe for the protagonists. I realized they are never going to die.

The US president, a black man ( for Barack Obama) likes to stay back in the White House instead of boarding Air Force one and then onto a ship protecting everyone. A Nobel gesture. Except him, all the heads of the states of US-EU combine are there in the main ship. The other nine ships are filled with Indian and Chinese. All the European leaders rally behind the German Chancellor and she speaks for Europe in her grand English. Queen Elizabeth is seen hurrying towards the ship with two of her poodles.

Lot of rich and powerful get into the ship which is supposed to save the best in species and try to re-populate the Earth if required. There are animals too on this Noah's Ark but not enough room for other humans who clamor to open the gates. The protagonist and his extended family get into the ship. They had to. However, a tragedy strikes them when the door tries to close.The second husband tries some heroism ( which he shouldn't beyond the initial scenes) and gets stuck between the gears and dies. I knew, the stage is getting ready for the grand finish.

The finish is equally jaw dropping and let me put it straight, the gates open and the sky is clear. A new world map is drawn. Himalayas sink to zero and there is a mountain range near Cape of Good Hope and the captain of the ship informs "That is why, it is called Cape of Good Hope, sir". Supposedly, a deep statement. Anyway, the movie closes with the protagonists kissing and me walking away contemplating how fate can leave a bruise with a kiss in the form of 2012.

Tsunami in Telugu film songs

The Tsunami that hit Asian Coastlines in 2004 left a tragic mark on many lives. How a great tragedy affects us is truly a difficult thing to assess.The physical loss of property is minuscule compared to the effect on the minds and hearts of people. Nevertheless, Time, the great healer helps us in moving on. The memories of the loss remind us of how deep a tragedy it was. These are scars that time leaves on our body. Each scar is a story in itself.

One of the many after-effects of this tragedy is the absorption of the word "Tsunami" into various languages. It is being used to refer to something big and of the scale of a Juggernaut. This seems to be unstoppable. Telugu film industry, which is located much interior from the coastline has been an indirect victim of the great tragedy. The dialogue writers wait opportunely to increase their vocabulary and leave ugly stretch marks on the scenes. The song writers are not behind. They have their own thing going on using the T-word liberally in the item songs and other inanities.

Who writes these things?Do they break their nibs after finishing such a song? They certainly have broken the neck of the standards.

(Please excuse me for not quoting any evidence, but trust me I have heard this in lot of songs written down during the last five years. Do look out for such patterns in the movies/songs you watch/listen)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Songs of life

William Blake, the 19th century poet from England collected his poetry under two titles - Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. Both these had poems on similar subjects but with different take and thoughts. I am not sure if these were separated by time. Innocence when he was young and Experience at a later stage. The reason for my uncertainty is Blake's enormous amount of intuition even in his youth. He was gifted with a strong sense of imagery that he even had visions before he wrote.

Talking about imagery, Wordsworth left on me a lasting impression. In "Daffodils", his timeless piece there is an eternal reserve of nectar for me. There may be many great appreciations written for this poem but the fact that it stood the test of time is a measure of its travel. Generally, when I write something out of the box, i.e., my brain, I tend to go back to it with almost a phobic diligence and see where, I mean exactly where that magic happened. Then I ponder how it happened and the question why it happened is for my Freudian friends. But what did wordsworth do after he wrote this? Did he take that casual walk in the park after a great accomplishment? I don't know. But he must have felt so much joy that he could kill himself. A sense of fulfillment that, "Yes, exactly, this is it. I was here for this and now it's done". However, he stayed on till today.

Another poet who has a two-line intrusion into my life is Keats. When I was in high school there was not a single piece of his. Agreeably,I found out later, he was too romantic for that age. Love for us was only talking to girls and that too plain-speak. Poetry was beyond the curriculum. Anyway, moving on. The two lines are

"A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness;"

This is the start of a long, long poem called Endymion which today people would not be interested to read unless there are good grades at the end of the tunnel. And the length was often the reason why I never ventured into anything beyond three hundred lines. I don't remember any of it now except the two lines. My father, who has this occasional jog into the English poetry boulevard, introduced me to some of the beautiful English poetry during my high school when I pretended that I could read poetry. Nevertheless he explained to me what it was, at least what his idea about the piece was. He would often with joy share an anecdote about how as Economics students they had boring classes and they used to stand near the window of the literature class to hear the Professor go on and on about Endymion. And arguably, he spent two weeks appreciating "A thing of beauty..". Not the whole thing, just the two lines.

Once upon a time, summers in Hyderabad were enjoyable. Especially the nights which used to be a lot cooler were perfect pretense for a digression into English Poetry. I would bring some of the old books which weren't sold and weren't eaten away by worms and start reading.My mother would bring me some snacks to eat and sit next to me to admire my parrot-like reading of those big English words. She always likes to see me speak in English and which I don't do often at home, even now. Reclining in his easy chair (which he still uses) my father would correct my pronunciation and explain the meaning of a phrase and occasionally recount an anecdote from his college days. How he used go onto the hills around his village herding the cows with a Shakespeare's book in hand and then read, whatever he read in that solitude. And now I get, why the intensities of experience are different between our two readings.Back to the summer night in Hyderabad now: We always read the same set of poems. At some point I had all those poems by heart and could quote from them. We didn't need books after that. We would just sit on the shores of a still pond of Poetry and admire the reflection of timeless imagery.