This is a quick note since I do not have time to write a blog for sometime, I do not want to lose this thread of thought and would leave it to hear your comments.
I normally prefer the movies showcased in the Cannes to the ones at the Oscar. Oscar movies are an interesting pick to watch in mainstream films when I just want something light - yet, for deeper sense of satisfaction, I look more for a Cannes label (sometimes Venice, Berlin and so on) rather than an Oscar label. It is not that I ignore Oscar ones, but somehow other festivals seems to be better at judging which films pull the audience into the mood of the film and right into the feelings of the character making me merge deep into the characters. Incidentally I hated Revolutionary Road - but more because it pulled me a bit too much into the mood of the character and left me unsettled about how often women or people settle into their routine life. I do not remember seeing this in the nominations though.
I watched Slumdog Millionaire yesterday just before the awards were given out and saw the results this morning.
I suddenly found myself with 10 extra days of vacation this year. Things that passed through my mind:
Invite my sister over - she needs a break - take her around - let her sleep in - introduce her to different people.
Eat the the Mosquite Coast - well... the name intrigues me - I am not fond of mosquitoes. Yet, they do bring back pleasant memories of the evening after the farewell party at WCC after our graduation. WCC is situated on the banks of the Cooum at Chennai. Legend has it that Tipu Sultan's sons were imprisoned in the main building of the college and were brought over the Cooum by the British. The hostel of WCC is close to the wall separating the building from the Cooum. We sat on the terrace that evening and late night fighting the mosquitoes who came in hoardes into our mouth every often we opened our mouth to speak.
Set out from my home with no destination in mind and just take turns as it comes - at each turn make a decision which way to go (isn't there something deterministic about this plan - just the fact that I want it to be indeterministic has already made it deterministic - for the fear of coming back home within 5 minutes, will I not chose to go in the opposite direction?) and explore some places for 10 days. I wonder which places I will see and who I will meet.
Do the above for Brussels during a weekend on foot when the sun is out (chances of me being in Belgium when the sun is out is quite rare)
Buy a bike and go biking around Belgium.
Decide what to do with my Bongo Box gifted by my boss. (Link it to 1??? - my sister loves to eat good food in an ambient place)
I was at Witcher Plein the other evening coming back. The luxury of the place gets to me - I love luxurious environment. The Conrad hotel and the luxurious bath shops and art shops elevated me to an exultant feeling. Shyness stopped me from standing on my toes and doing a twirl. On thinking about it I could have very well done it - there was no one around. I am enjoying this feeling of being alone and enjoying this time being with myself. As I was telling Parmanu this morning - I am beginning to enjoy Brussels, myself and my work a bit more and it is a luxurious feeling.
At the same time about 5 people asked me over 2 weeks about my plans to have children. It is a co-incidence that suddenly everyone else is thinking about me having children. Many were of the opinion that I would make a good mother (and curiously when going through my IMD year book I found the same comment "you were the mother of the class"). Adopting children has been in my mind since I was a teenager when I used to see the advertisements in Reader's Digest and Illustrated Weekly - when I got married to Parmanu it was something I always told him I would love to do. Perhaps it is time now to start thinking about it seriously. "What about your own?" - a question that came up from 2 people - If it happens it happens - else I am not heart broken. Aren't there enough children around this world who do not have mothers and who crave for a mother who cares for them?
Now - off to Waterstones, Dance Practise for 7 hours and then dinner with a friend. She and I have to share stories of our first week in our respective new positions at work and I have to pep her up since she had a work life balance issue and she has a baby.
Why do I feel like a Saroj Khan in the making - a fat choreographer with a bunch of thin and slim and graceful dancers? (the difference is in the type of skill to choreograph).
In over 8 hours this weekend we managed to choreograph 2 minutes of our medley song. It does not help that I, the choreographer, keeps forgetting what step she just made and changes her mind so often. Yesterday one of my friends kept me on track and today she could not make it to the sessions. So we focussed on the easier songs. We need to see how it goes on Wednesday. We then need to see about the costumes (is that a choreographer task too?)
In anycase I converted my colleague to a Hritik Roshan song. I swoon over his dance in Dhoom 2
January 25-th: Attack on women in Mangalore in a pub where they had gone to drink and dance.
"They chased the girls into the street, slapping them, pulling their hair and pushing at least two to the ground. The incident was recorded on CCTV.
Their reason? “We are the custodians of Indian culture,” said Pramod Mutalik, the founder of SRS, who claimed responsibility for the assault. "
In response "Pink Chaddi Campaign" was started. Now there are many counter campaigns which have come up in India against the Pink Chaddi Campaign.
When I joined the group "Pub-going, Loose and Forward Women" on facebook it was just with the intention of celebrating the freedom I have to choose - I choose whether I want to go to a pub or not, I choose my definition of what is loose and what is not and I define what is forward.
Yet, sections of Indian Society - with all its struggle with women coming out of the closet, has chosen to blindly believe in a few who believe that as per Hindu tradition, freedom to choose lies solely with the men. Some women are collecting pink sarees and sindhoor (vermillon married women apply on their forehead) and bindis (the small round tikka applied on the forehead) to send to all the women involved in the "Pink Chaddi" campaign.
I do not think choosing how to live will spoil the Indian culture - many of these women are religious and fulfill many cultural aspects than many who do not drink. I go to the pub, I dance, I choose what to do at each point I have a conflict about whether it fits with my cultural education - yet, I pray daily, I follow some festivals, I light the lamp many days, I will not choose to do anything that destroys the happiness and well being of my family. I will be independent because that is how I believe my culture has taught me to be. Perhaps I do not follow everything that has been drummed into me but then that is what education and experience does and how cultures evolve - and then you know you have to be prepared. We are not still following Sati - why? Is that against the culture now?
Yet, I wonder whether anyone has stopped to think for a minute - the protest began against the violent methods used - I cannot believe that people can openly state that they are custodians of Indian culture (whatever that might be... - certainly violence cannot be part of it) and so they went and beat up women. While many times domestic violence might have been a practise behind close doors and eve-teasing was common and abhorred, it has never been so openly touted and has never gone unpunished as it has now. (It reminds me of an incident early 1990's when an Ethiraj College student was killed when she tried to avoid some eve teasing boys outside the college - the furore at that time was against the perpetuators and not against the protesters).
My question to the Pink Condom and Pink Sarees campaigners who have brought out campaigns against the Pink Chaddi: What if this happens to one of your family when they are out in the streets one dark evening on a street and they get beaten up? Freedom is one of our fundamental rights as a part of our constituition. I think all are entitled to that freedom - it is not just men who have the choice. Women have it too. It is time to grow up and out of the shadows of fanatics.
[I wrote this blog in office as I was packing. So I have attached the latest picture - taken at 8:45 p.m just as I left office]
Transitions are not always an easy time. A few pictures to show how I feel as I leave my office of two years to the other location. Though I used to spend more time in the location I will be based at, it is still strange to leave this home base, people I am used to seeing quite often and some whom I will hardly get to see again unless we make an effort to keep in touch. Strangely, my neighbour also shifted to her new position today and so it is completely empty here.
As I packed my things, I found back files and papers which depicted my first interactions with people and found back some documents which triggered some fond memories. So I carry these fond memories in two bags back home. Like about 100 files from IMD who are all there for fond memories and still need to be sorted out, I add a couple of more bags from 2 years.
It is also funny to see your space which you had given your own stamp (mine was cluttered and dirty and had papers spread all over), suddenly taking an anonymous look. I kept the Calimero there for very very long - almost as if I did not want to take it away from here.
My frequent Friday call came just as I was feeling down and arranging papers. He put the things in perspective - "When you were in this job you hated everything about this place in the last few months and the people were tough and now that you are leaving this place, you say you are going to miss the people and are sad". I think this is just an indication of how things changed in the last few weeks compared to 2008.
We also talked about how it took me time to get over leaving IMD and Lausanne - talking to him reminded me of the number of times I visited Lausanne back in 2007 and it made me think about the speed with which I used to book the tickets back then and wondered why I still have not done it though we have been talking about it for a couple of weeks now.
The Calimero is one that is going travelling. So I packed all alone in the whole building, as is fitting since I used to stay long after some people at times of the year. When I left Lausanne I had a few friends to share the sorrow with. Here, as I packed alone, doubts about the new job and my ability to handle the new job stood as I slowly packed away my secure base - forlorn, anxious and alone.
So here I say GoodBye to a seat that I doubt I will see ever again - yet, friendships will remain and relationships will remain. These are things that are forged forever - whatever transitions might have taken place over the last 2 years even in these relationships, I think the fundamental feeling and foundation that were forged will remain and perhaps develop into something that even stands the test of times and challenges.
At times I do go crazy... I have talked myself into choreographing and coaching on the dances for the next Bollywood Party in Brussels on Feb 26-th held by the expats. The team came back with their choices - here are two. Heavens help me! I have to now choreograph the dance songs and possibly coach the westerners to dance as in the following dances. This weekend is going to be fun.
I have no idea what they are saying in this song (which language I wonder - Telugu?). I am sure there are some really sidey lyrics after watching this video - I had put it on the blog but decided to take it off. I wonder how they dug up these videos...
The latest Economist has a beautiful picture. It shows the really red hot spicy chillies spread out for drying and an Indian woman in saree and a basket walking checking the chillies. It showed the heat of the moment - the title of the article "Global Warming". ---------------------------------------------------- Similarities between blogs and sending sms to some people: You are just throwing out thoughts - you do not know whether it has struck or not. Sometimes you get feedback, sometimes not. The difference: you do not know whether the sms has reached the person or not. ------------------------------------------------------ The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
I visited the Cinema with Heidi to watch the Curious Case of Benjamin Button. We grabbed dinner at the Brussels grill after picking up the ticket. We agonized over whether to have salad and dessert or main course skipping the dessert. We finally settled for the main course. We then ran into the theatre just in time to see the last advertisement comes on. Brussels has a speciality. Just after the commercials there is a small break when all the lights come on for a minute or so. The movie then starts.
Something else I love about Brussels is the variety of people who are there. In the theatre we sat next to a very young couple who spoke a very different language (I am sure I have heard it before but I could not remember which one it is).
The movie was in a way about the circle of life. You start in diapers and you end in diapers whichever you start from and end it. The movie itself moved like art on the screen - many times it felt like I was watching paintings flowing through. The grace at many instances caught me by surprise.
Kate Blanchett and the attitude/grace and pride she showed through the movie stood out - the way she managed her attraction and rejection, the disappointments and the commitment. The dance aspect was a surprise though and added to the artistic charm of the movie.
Brad Pitt - the make up was good, the way the young boy in the body of an old man still stood out and was portrayed was interesting. The lisp as a young boy - yet, was there an emotive problem due to all that make up in the initial parts? The effect he had on the audience when he was shown for the first time getting younger (himself again) - there was a gasp through the audience as the wrinkles fell out and nervous giggles amongst the ladies. Not having been a great fan of his looks at any point of time, I must say that I can imagine some people are very much taken up the the kind of effect.
The clock - Quite an interesting looking one - I would be curious to see a clock that ran backwards though I wonder what purpose it really served to the people coming to the Station where the story was set.
The way the clock turns around in different lives - the rewind effect was very touching. Many times I had found myself wondering same things - it was a surprise to see it portrayed the same way. Sometimes when I sit in a meeting room (I was just there last week), I find myself wondering - what if I had not stayed back that evening in that meeting room, what if I had not got the call that evening, what if ... would 2008 have turned out this way at all? Similarly I have wondered, what if certain events of 2007 had not happened - would 2008 have turned out like this at all? Which one of the events really caused the turning point which changed my life completely? Similarly, if Parmanu's parents had not come in July 2004, if I had not had to cancel my appointment to meet a certain Dr. Thomas something to do check up for Laproscopy, would all those things in 2008 have happened? I will not write more about this as it happens in the movie so I do not spoil the moment for you - yet, the way this was captured - it certainly was a poignant portrayal of events.
The direction was the most important part of the movie but the screenplay also took the cake. The kind of episodes the director has picked to show the difference between the body and actual age very quite common place and yet telling. Things that others discussed with him which he could not have experienced, yet, I felt there was an innocence missing at times - an innocence that comes out of not knowing. However, as my boss remarked the other day to me "nobody can be perfect".
I did feel cheated towards the end though as the movie took an easy route out to end the tale. Again, I will not reveal what it was but it was certainly an easy way to explain away the whole story and an easy way to end it. However, the strong impression did not change much since most of the movie was captured in a leisurely detailed manner at times making me feel impatient at the pace and yet leaving me to savour each moment just as one would look at the details in a piece of art.
I was angry today. Really really really angry and it is a long long time since I became really so angry (I have not been even angry with Parmanu this much ever in my life). The issue is that I did not know why I got so angry.
I tried to reach an application in my area today and I could not reach it.
I heard this morning than an expected upgrade was actually supposed to take place today. I was surprised - Oh! Is it already today? - it was a topic that I handed over or thought I did. I checked to see whether the upgrade was completed and if not by when it would by completed. If it took time, there would need to be a message (that should have been put up but ok... somethings are missed out). Then I get the news that upgrade is completed but the application cannot be reached. I called to check whether any step had to be done to complete the process and I am told that no one is co-ordinating that activity. One says the other said everything was ok and the other says everything is ok and communicated - except the people who really need to do things do not know anything about it.
I think I was angry with myself for not having (micro???)-managed this. I thought I had handed it over but in transition times I feel now that you need to follow up even more closely to make sure activities are tied up. I was also angry because this could have been something completely smooth if correct people were kept informed correctly and in transition time I should have given that guidance. This is what happens when a control freak gives up control completely. She also interferes when there is no need to. However, I also have a fear of micro managing and so sometimes I end up not managing at all. Fear fear fear - how I hate that word.
This makes me wonder - really how much independence can you give to the people who you assign to handle the projects? Should you go through every detail and brainstorm all? We just discussed last week all the stakeholders for this project. Apparently this needs to be documented as well. I do not think I got all this documentation but then I lived - now I have to spend sometime making all such documents. Making documents is not my favourite activity.
On the other hand, my residence permit is back in order. I will have to go once again to get a new electronic card. This also gave me sometime to get back home earlier today. Using this opportunity, I called Belgacom. After listening to music for about 20 minutes for each call, I made about 6 calls before I repaired my TV connection and my wireless with information from the helpdesk. Each call was first routed to a Dutch operator who connected me to the English one and I got to listen to the "Hold" dialogue and music each time. Finally I am able to sit at my table, work, blog in between, check google for all Pharma related terminology and ways of the industry. So now I have my music system, my table, my wireless, my kettle to make tea (need to buy some camomille tea), my telephone...
This morning I had a discussion with my future boss:
"You will need to get the budget"
"Shall I use BPS?" (BPS is a software where budgets are stored).
"No. We do not use BPS - we just ask the controllers". - Oh! Does that not sound good? I no longer need to run to any system but to people. We smiled at each other - he knowing that he will have to remind me not to be system oriented, me because I will not be responsible for the problems in the system.
At the end of it all I call my mother as I am used to every evening. I could not reach her and I called my sister. She says "Did you hear the news?".
"No... tell me quickly" - waiting for the next latest emotional sensations of relatives saga.
"You did not hear?" - she says with her penchance for increasing the suspense.
"Of course not... I could not reach Amma". (I call my mother Amma as do other Indians in different Indian languages).
"Well... she broke her hand and shoulders" - talk about breaking bad news gradually.
Now I am agonising over whether to go over for a week or so to help - at this transition time can I take the time off to do so? I called my mother and she seems to be cheerful - but I know her well - she will be so to keep me calm. She calmly tells me that she might need a surgery but everyone has surgery after a fall you know... "I spoke to ***** - she had a surgery when she broke her ankle the other day. I spoke to &&&&& and she also broke her shoulder - it was a minor surgery - now she is running around. I think about you with your hand in cast and no one to help". - well, I did not have 3 people I had to look after either.
So what is an upgrade in comparison to the health and well being of everyone around?
I will end with the question from my nephew to my mother - locking the front door after my mother so that she does not have stretch "Will you be all right in time for my birthday?".