Thursday, November 11, 2010

Smoke and Mirrors

This funny video, 'How to gift wrap a cat' brings home to me how all of life is smoke and mirrors.
With different background music and normal film speed, we could have, very easily, been led to believe that the cat thinks he is being dressed for coronation.

But a life built on illusions may not be as bad as it sounds--we live it everyday, at different levels, and for the most part, with good intentions. Sometimes we are not even aware of the illusions we have accepted as part of our life. Even in this video, both man and cat may well be deceiving each other, but both are symbiotically happy. And perhaps, that's all that matters in the end.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

In memoriam: Amutha "Ammu" Subramaniam

I am posting this poem in memory of Amutha Subramaniam (1992 - 2010)

TO BLOSSOMS by Robert Herrick
Fair pledges of a fruitful tree,
Why do ye fall so fast?
Your date is not so past,
But you may stay yet here a-while,
To blush and gently smile;
And go at last.

What, were ye born to be
An hour or half's delight;
And so to bid good-night?
'Twas pity Nature brought ye forth,
Merely to show your worth,
And lose you quite.

But you are lovely leaves, where we
May read how soon things have
Their end, though ne'er so brave:
And after they have shown their pride,
Like you, a-while;--they glide
Into the grave.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Martel is in the news again

Canadian author Yann Martel has a new book out. Having won hearts and prizes through the effective portrayal of animal characters in his second book 'Life of Pi', he is now out with 'Beatrice and Virgil', a novel about a donkey and a howler monkey and the journey they take with a writer named Henry.

Martel has been in the news a lot lately in Canada. 'Life of Pi' is being made into a movie. Old news, you say? OK, here is something newer: In 2007, he started a project, 'What is Stephen Harper reading?' He sends one book every two weeks to Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada, to help expand Harper's "stillness". Even a loyal Martel fan such as I can find this act somewhat presumptuous--don't even the best known books move people selectively and at a personal level?--yet I do so love his gumption! Go Martel! Never mind that Martel's patient concern for Harper's 'expansion' is being met with silence. Especially since the praise and the reward are coming from none less than The Big O. No, not Oprah! Obama! Apparently, Malia and dad loved 'Life of Pi' so much that Martel in small-city Saskatoon received a hand-written appreciation note from the most powerful man in the world. The contrast between the reactions of the two leaders has not gone unnoticed. It is a boon to our media and our liberals. And understandably, to Martel himself. Too bad for Harper that he neither sent fan-mail nor a thank-you letter in time. (If you received a book as a gift by mail, every two weeks, wouldn't you, at a minimum, send a polite thank you note to the sender?) Now whatever Harper does, he will reap no positive publicity. If he writes a thank you note politely at this late hour, he is going to end up playing second fiddle to Obama. If he does not write and continues to ignore Martel, he will always come across as colder and more aloof than Obama. Tough spot.

Moral of the story for us ordinary citizens? Whether you like somebody's gift or not, write that thank-you note promptly.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

'Radica' by Kenneth Salick

I am moved by 'Radica', a Soca-style song (great music; greater lyrics) by Kenneth Salick from Trinidad. Salick is a village handyman, not a trendy, smooth pop or hip hop singer with music industry backing. An MP3 of 'Radica' can be downloaded from for 99 cents. I think if he changes the name from 'Radica' to Radhika' the Indian market in the subcontinent will open up.

Radica by Kenneth Salick - Click here for more home videos

And if you liked the Kenneth Salick original but found its sadness in love too haunting, try the video created by two Indo-Caribbean youth (clearly living in Canada). They've decided to highlight the tragicomedy of love.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Life's Turning Points

Author's Note in Yann Martel's 'The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios' begins like this:

When I was in my second year of university, aged nineteen, my studies ground to a halt. Just as the curtain was lifting on my adult life, with promises of untold freedom, what I might do with that freedom began to trouble me. I had always expected academic degrees--a bachelor's, a master's, a Ph.D. -- to be the banister that would steady me up the steps of my successful life. But that year I stared at paragraphs of Immanuel Kant in a state of dumb incomprehension, I failed two courses and the banister fell away. The view gave me vertigo.

And I am wondering why is it that despite having a somewhat similar existential crisis throughout my 14 long and miserable months at the College of Engineering, Guindy, I did not know about or consider the possibility of a writing life.

The only thing I knew for sure was that I needed to walk away, even if I didn't know what I was walking toward...

In retrospect, it has been a good, long walk, maybe even a demanding hike, but with plenty of inspiring scenery.