Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A good start

Usually each year starts with the hangover of guilt from the previous year. As December bids adieu and January sweeps in, remnants of thoughts that question your progress in life thus far start to fade slightly and are replaced by slightly more optimistic ones; those that tell you that you have 11 more months to make yourself feel better. January is also the "Monday" of months as Garfield the cat might like to point out. No, I don't mean to say that pies would comically strike you in the face or large pans of lasagna would drop on you from the sky, but I mean to say that akin to the way the week gets worse after a bad Monday, so does the rest of the year following a bad January.

Last year, I had enough worries to lose sleep over. Everything seemed to be in disarray: I had mailed transcripts ages ago and they never seemed to have reached their destination; several of my applications to doctoral programs were 'incomplete' due to missing supplemental materials and there were last minute hiccups with the recommendation letters. I had no friends in Chennai to speak of and believe you me, it is no fun going to the movies by yourself and being at the receiving end of the ticket salesman's condescension who wants to verify that you're purchasing a single ticket. Not to mention that the film would be butchered by the Censor Board who are kind enough to decide what's wholesome and good family viewing for innocent, sexually naive Indian populace. I have no doubt in my mind that Quentin's Django Unchained would be a neutered piece of work. But I digress.

Luckily, 2013 has gotten off on the right foot. After receiving no replies to my emails, I decided to place a quick call to the universities where my applications were facing troubles. All were complete! The system hadn't been updated or it was a glitch in their process. What a relief!
I also discovered a lot of great music and movies this month. A good friend told me about Mouse on the Keys and Younger Brother. I was also pleasantly surprised to discover that there were people on the Internet and on Youtube who shared my contempt of mainstream pop and rap music. An honest query though: Why do most rap songs start with the artist mentioning his own name or that of his record company?When did rap- the genre highlighting the struggles of the African-American- mutate into a cliched stereotype of bad rhymes about bitches, hoes (or is that hos?), fast cars and a culture that is epitomized by throwing one dollar bills at female strippers at clubs? To say nothing about Coldplay that has shamelessly jumped the bandwagon and gone fully commercial, peddling out electronica that has insert-crowd-chant-here elements aplenty. But I digress.

There was a wonderful Japanese film festival in T.Nagar hosted by the Madras Film Society. The festival featured the works of acclaimed director Keisuke Kinoshita, who is famous at home but not very well known outside their shores. A sentiment that was shared by Mr. Masanori Nakano, the Consul-General of Japan at Chennai in his opening address: "You would know the works of Akira Kurosawa like Seven Samurai." The festival showcased works including 24 Eyes, an endearing tale of a grade school teacher and her relationship with her twelve students through the turbulent years of war; Snow Flurry (1959), the story of a bastard child who suffers for the transgressions of his parents; Army, a grim observation of Japanese traditions and rigid convictions and unwavering loyalty to the Emperor that resulted in many mothers parting with their sons and finally the Academy Award nominated Immortal Love (1961) that illustrated the suffering a raped woman bears when society condemns her to marry her rapist. Her sons despise her for the grudge she bears against their father and she is trapped in a loveless marriage with a husband who treats women as mere objects of sexual gratification. It is a painful movie to watch, but there were elements of a Quentin Tarantino Kill Bill unmistakably present: the arrangement of 'chapters', lively flamenco music that narrated the story of revenge and hatred.

Then on Republic Day, I headed off to Thinkfest 2013, a symposium on freethought and science. We were treated to a brilliant dressing down of the caste system and the way it empowers the existing patriarchal system in the repression of women. S.Anand, the author of Bhimayana took questions later and it was apparent that the audience wanted to interact with him despite time having run out! The next speaker was Dr. Thangaraj of CCMB, Hyderabad fame who delivered a lecture describing the route humanity took from the depths of Africa and about how unique the genetic make up of Indians are.

It was a good month all in all. To top it all off, a good friend of mine is getting engaged at the end of the month and I'm personally invited to attend. If every month were like this, 2013 is going to be a year to be remember.

1 comment:

prateek mathur said...

All's well that starts well :)