Not on display!

Exciting times indeed. I could play Nostradamus and take a shot at predicting the near future. I see pain and satisfied smiles. Possibly a tinge of disappointment, however, the mood would be still the one of joy and smiles.

Almost an accurate prediction, if there could be one. With the bags almost packed, there was an imminent catch up that I wouldn’t even dream of missing. A quick hop on a train later, I’d be in the land of the Liver bird again. A city that I’ve come to love and that’s mostly because of the crazy bloke who resides there. Funny enough, all the memories of the city are tied to deep conversations, million laughs and a Tattoo. It’s almost time to add a little plural to that word. Tattoos, or at least that seems to be the plan.

For starters, I do not publically display my tattoo. I’ve got one that sits happy on my right shoulder. I could flaunt it, but I usually don’t. I’ve had a few questions being asked about the incognito status of that tattoo. It exists and to the world it doesn’t. That’s almost like I view things around. The world’s acknowledgement doesn’t deny an existence. There is a charm to that obliviousness.

What’s the point of sticking needles, shedding a little blood and enduring a prickly pain?

It’s a statement. To me, it’s a statement that I address to my self. My first tattoo was a semi-circle that contained a kanji that represented fire. I did weave a huge tale around it. The simplest explanation, it looked cool. The most complicated explanation, that’s the way I see life. The second one that’s cruising along my expectations is one of a harvest moon. A big ball of orange-red, decked with imperfections, riddled with lines of distortion. If the artist works a miracle, it has the potential to look beautiful.

What does it represent? It’s a bit too early in the day to stack thoughts to something that doesn’t exist today. Through the needles, I’ll figure something out.

Now that I’m pondering on the subject, the status of incognito, a display that’s denied, how does it affect us? In the cycle of all things considered, recognition plays a very vital role in ensuring satisfaction. We start off on our quest to get recognized and the subsequent desire is to get rewarded for that excellence. With recognition and rewards piling up, we saturate from it and move on to bigger things. We aim for actualisation. A state in which we contribute and still stay numb to the games of recognition and rewards. We are no longer burdened by who takes the credit, the insecurities that keep us on the top of our paranoia fuelled toes. We do, because we can. We help , because we can. We contribute because we can. It’s a fantastic state worth aspiring.

A lot of my personal passions are inclined towards the actualisation. Not necessarily in the purist sense. I do miss the recognition. I’m yet to get rewarded. I endure , I learn and I derive pleasure from the sheer act of contribution. When I don’t have sights on acknowledgement of my skills, there is no pressure. I can deliver at any pace that I see fit. The quality gates are strictly personal. I do set rather high , near impossible , quality standards. It’s fun to strive hard and fail miserably against self imposed yardsticks.

Similarly, a tattoo to me is a representation of a thought. It exists. It’s does not represent a contest that I have to contest in. It does not represent an output which is waiting to get judged and appreciated. It exists.

While getting inked is not everybody’s cup of tea with a fancy cake, I think what it stands to represent is a lesson that caters to most interests. It answers the question, ‘Why do we do the things that we do?’

I am reminded of this movie, Indiana Jones and the last crusade. Indie is on a boat, fighting for survival. The bloke asks him the purpose of his quest. ‘Are you doing this for his glory(God) or for yours?’ It’s such a profound quote that gets tossed around in a swashbuckling flick.

And so the anticipation game begins. It’s going to be a long week of hopes and dreams. The crescendo , in the third act, would probably be played in tears and blood. It’s probably going to be worth it. Or, in the humble words of Homer Simpson- the wise, ‘DOH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!’

Karthik

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Twenty years of magic nostalgia

The day was normal. The usual peak hour London rush. Holborn station was a mad rush this morning. The tube was more crowded than the usual. I had a book to keep me company. Lord of the files. Time flew, my eyes kept getting heavy from the drowsiness. With Ralph and Jack picking on poor little piggy, SNORE and a YAWN! The plot is yet to thicken.

A slow crawl towards the station’s exit and it was then I noticed the familiar bird of red. The phoenix. THE Phoenix, if you know what I mean. Doodled were the lines, Celebrating 20 years of wizardry! It took me a while to soak in the information. Has it really been twenty years? There are so many folks out there who aren’t even 20 yet. I let the information slip into my things to remember and wonder about repository and went about the actions for the day.

I checked. And yes, it’s been 20 already. That’s two decades and I saw the last 20 years of my life flash back. Since we are talking Potter, I’ll tie the memories around them.

I’ve never really enjoyed the Potter mania. I hated the world even before I had bothered reading any of the works. It was a simple choice. Everybody seemed to enjoy Harry Potter and it was easy to not like it. Stand out in the crowd, be a misfit and frankly, I wasn’t reading much anyways , back then. And just like that, I became a Potter hater. I wouldn’t read , exactly the same treatment that I gave to rest of the authors of the world. In time, in pursuit of staying in that character, I found ample reasons to justify the disgust. A lot later, I didn’t matter and my opinions didn’t matter. The world was doing quite well , all by itself. It didn’t need my profound judgement.

My first tryst with Harry potter came in the year 2000 something. I was in love. She was in love, with potter. The chamber of secrets had been opened, and the usual theatre , Sathyam, had a show going in. With the birthday around the corner, I had managed to save a bit of money and book the tickets. When you are a student and jobless, money is scarce. Not really. I wont play that card. I asked dad and only had to lie about the ‘Friends’ with whom I was going to watch the movie. Good times indeed. No guilt, not then and wont ever be now 🙂

I remember my ignorance and my status as an outsider when everybody in the movie exactly knew how that story was going to play itself out. It was a complete surprise to me. Back then, I didn’t care much a about the movie. It was a good birthday present. The smiles meant a lot more than wizards and wands. That was it.

In retrospect, I think the chamber of secrets is one of the better made Potter movies ever. Rest of them are hopelessly boring.

As the relationship turned south, so did my bond and ties with Potter. FREEDOM at last from the boy who lived. He didn’t have to live in my world from then on. Potter and I remained distinctly divorced for a while. Until the one about the order of the phoenix that is. That’s around , give or take, four years? That was an ample time to heal and brace myself for a fresh new impact and shatter something taped together, all over again. Ah the fun fortitude that is life.

New love, new love for Potter and that meant I had to play along. And play along I did. I remember reading the Order. Not that I enjoyed it. I didn’t dislike it though. And for a while , Potter and I managed to coexist peacefully. I’d still bicker and whine about him. Potter would whine quite well, all by himself on the big screen. Together, we whined into a hate-tolerate friendship.

Order changed things. This time around, the lady had branded me a villager and an illiterate for shunning books. I had to impress and hence embarked on a journey of words. I didn’t reach out to Potter. I reached out to John Grisham instead. There was a point in time, maybe it’s relevant today as well, where folks would walk up to me and proudly proclaim themselves to be voracious readers. ‘I’ve read alllllllllllllllllllllllllll the Harry Potter books’, they’d gleefully explain. ‘Sweet’, has always been my condescending , sarcastic response. Truth was, I never thought Potter was literature. Now that I’m pretending to be an adult these days, It doesn’t really matter. Literature or otherwise, there is a story waiting to be conveyed and Potter took about eight books to getting a move on his lifelong relationship woes with Voldy.

And so Order changed things. Love, lack of love, I continued to read the books. I didn’t bother advertising it, but I did manage to read the tale through. When news broke of Dumbledore’s preferences, my interest claimed that she always knew. She also claimed that she always knew how to pronounce Hermione. For me, Hermione was always meant to be called out as HER, ME, ONIEEEEEEEEE. I had a good spell laughing at the alleged truth of cognizance of Dumbledore and how the names were meant to be called. I wasn’t in a position to judge. The first time I read the word SUBTLE, I thought it was pronounced SUBLE. This happened when I was in my mid twenties. So , yeah. I’ve been a bit of a villager for most part of my life.

Looking back at the twenty fantastic years that Mr Potter has existed in our world, his impact as a cultural pop icon can not be denied. The boy who lives, continues to inspire hope and faith in many others. Potter and his buddies do represent the charm and value of a strong friendship. As I write about potter, I remember the adverts for the Deathly hallows. The scene was around Harry and Her ME Onieee smooching and my dad walked in and I felt a little embarrassed and spontaneously blushed. My dad casually said, ‘And so they have grown up now’. We had a good laugh.

Potter to me is beyond all the magic and warm fuzziness that Potter is usually to the rest of the world. Potter to me is the twenty years of my life that I’ve had. I’ve smiled through it, I’ve broken down. I’ve shown courage and I’ve cowered under the weight of the world. I’ve enjoyed the movie Chamber of secrets and have sat through reruns of Deathly Hallows part 1. I’ve also loved reading the half blood prince. Snape was the MAN.

Potter is, and Potter will be remembered for a few more years to come. So whats your muggle fascination towards Potter? What does the world of Harry Potter remind you of ? What do you associate the memories to?

Karthik

Eyes out : A rear window story

Rear window is a brilliant movie. It’s a fantastic tale of a broken leg, binoculars, rear window, deceit , murder. It’s a movie that screams of the advantage of an voyeuristic outlook to life. The movie made in 1954 did not have the foresight to imagine how it’s theme would go on to shape the world in the decades to come.

Lets take a deep breath and acknowledge the fact that we are an voyeurism obsessed society. With most notifications that I get , which usually are spying on the lives of others, I view them as an irritant rather than a fodder to my curious eyes. Linked and face book have always been excited in keeping me informed on whom my friends connect with. Goodreads does that and also keeps me posted on what my friends are reading and what their friends are reading as well.

As the wings of this social voyeurism spreads, the social media also wages a battle of privacy to bridge that gap. It is a cycle of sorts that results in stagnation. The social media thrives on reducing the degrees of separation between people. The relaxed privacy norms facilitates that random connection across people. This relaxed nature also leaves us exposed to insidious minds and sinister intents. A quick tweak of privacy to keep ourselves protected also results in a bottleneck of people that we find ourselves connected to. The net result is a mind numbing number of avenues where we get to connect with the same set of people that we are surrounded by.

While that stagnation doesn’t really matter to us much, after all we enjoy the company of our friends and why would we worry about having a lot more of them a lot more of the time all the time? Narrow vision , for starters. There is a reason why we connect with people. Either they think the same as us, or they are equally crazy. When there is a hive of like minded people, the existing biases get fortified. When we connect with crazy minds, there is too much crazy with little ventilation. That leads to saturation. So the obvious conclusion is that we are stuck with the same set of predictable opinions and thoughts, which get fed to us every single day.

How does this feed back into the voyeurism ?

Oh that’s rather simple.. We share and share unceremoniously. The hive does rob us of the simpler ability to realize the dependence or the risks of opening our minds to a world that is far away from being moderated. This leaves us with a weak outlook towards fencing our mind. With minds exposed, exposed to the same old same old every day, it feeds back into the stagnation that I spoke about. The closed claustrophobic circle , the daily feeds of tiny details of life , they all feed our hunger for voyeurism. We get exposed to the lives of others, we expose our lives.

Does such a lifestyle come with a price?

One word. Hollow. The lifestyle does leave us hollow. We are already leading a life as an advert to events that unfold around us. We advertise our lives for likes and amusement of our world. We crave the attention and there are times when that attention span means the most to us. Substitute this addiction to any other substance abuse and we’d probably be tagged as a junkie.

I’m in no way immune to the charm of such an hollow advertised life. In fact, I am all the more guilty of the charges levied on me. It’s fun to reflect the addiction and acknowledge the things that are at stake. What got me into such a thought process was a discussion on perspectives.

‘Dude, that’s the image you are portraying’ an observation was made.

I didn’t see a point in a rebuttal. The moment we are on display, we also lose control over what the world makes of us. The simple pleasures of a vicious cycle 😉

So what’s the verdict ? Does it make sense or does this leave me as the guy who cried wolf? I’ve stayed clear of depriviation that’s caused by a digital avatar of the self.

Karthik

Under the same sun

French, German, English, Indian( throw in a few languages there), African, European… the list goes longer and I’m limited by my ability to spot the subtle differences in ethnicity of the world. London , to me, is a wonderful city of sights , sounds, people and life. Commuting in the city is a big part of the life here. It is through such mundane , sober daily toils of a journey, where I’ve come to realize the simplicity of context of my existence. We are, more or less, same under the same sun.

The day started early. I had to find my way to a place where I’ve not travelled before. A friend had called in a favour and I felt obliged to help. This commute took me places. A walk, a bus ride, an over ground rail , an underground tube, a bright sun in the sky, a Friday to appreciate the little things of life, a cup of coffee in hand, a soul that felt rejuvenated from the experience.

I do like to view myself as an observer. I enjoy the state of feeling insignificant in a world filled with people. People who mind their own business, carry out their set of chores , connected and yet disconnected from the world around. This morning was special indeed. A little girl, probably around 4-5 years of age. Could be younger than that. She was a little talkative lady. Innocence had a voice. Beauty had a form. Angels had a face. It was all evident in the little one. She spoke her magic words, she smiled her lovely smile, her mother tried to wash her hands using a mild alcohol rub and the little one played along by not bothering to put up any resistance.

It was a warm fuzzy experience , watching her rub her hands and talk to her mum in a language of her own making. Words spoken. Words that conveyed sincere meanings. Words that needed no translation to transcend the human made boundaries of comprehension or bias. I found myself lost in the moment of sheer bliss. I stood watching the mother and daughter go about their business.

The mother spoke in cuddly cooish French. Ca – Va was all I could comprehend. Ca va , the child acknowledged.

I couldn’t help but reminisce over the nieces and nephews that I’ve had the pleasure of building conversations with. The words have always been similar, the enthusiasm has always been similar, the arguments have always been cute and pointless. There was a sense of familiarity to the whole episode. The angel in that one kid was the ever present angel that I got to see in all the kids that I’ve ever seen.

My undivided attention was soon divided. German this time around. Another mum, another infant. This one was a lot younger than the French little lady. Talkative too. I was surrounded by innocence. I felt relaxed in such a company. The writer in me, the deluded voice in my head , found this to be sigh from the universe that would stand to remind me to embrace the truth. We had the capacity to remain innocent. We all do have the capacity to resist that erosion of moral fibre. We have it in us to remain brave, grounded in principles, surrounded by goodness. Yeah, the writer in me wanted that, Desperately.

The months where I’ve lived in this wonderful city, I’ve seen many cultures. I’ve observed many good people who earn an honest day’s living. The kind of goodness that defies the world plagued by fear. The kind of goodness that reminds all of us the meaning of being human. Mind your business, help those who are in need to be helped, spread the joy through smiles. Face life as it comes. I’d very much like to believe in that version of life.

I’ve also seen violence. Interestingly, in stark comparison to events, it’s not the abundance of violence that overwhelms me. It’s the abundance of love, care and staying human that overshadows the sceptical world of my making. For every act of impolite rudeness, there are ten more that bestow kindness. For every act of deception, there are ten more that remind me the value of honesty. For every sin against the fabric of human, I see a hundred more that sing the gospel of how wonderful it is to be a human.

We are divided by borders, we are divided by beliefs and belief system. There are gods, there are big data data centres, there are folks who believe in either options as the one that would take us to sublime salvation. There is hate and there is love. These two are not engaged in an eternal conflict. Ironically, they both exist. They both are in place and they do leave us with the choice to rest our faith in either of them.

As far as the day is concerned, I feel happy knowing that we are born innocent, we are nurtured to the way we are. Which also implies that common sense dictates that , we as a species, are quite capable of staying human. Kids are a wonderful example of how one stays immune to the pollution that corrupts the fabric of staying a human. It would be childish to say that we can learn a lot from the kids. It would be unwise to discount the simpler truth that kids do lead a simpler , easier life. Not because they have nothing else to do, or strings that don’t mandate their motives. It’s because they have a simpler understanding of the world around. They do what they have to, they learn, adapt and are yet to see the world through filters of bias , fears, insecurities and prejudice.

I think it’s not a stretch to assume that there would come a day, where we’d feel saturated by pointlessness to ideologies of faith, text, cultures that don’t hold water given the context of life. I’d be more than happy should that happen in my lifetime. But it’s coming . It’s inevitable. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when.

The innocence is proof enough that the future is safe. After all, aren’t we all the same under the same sun!

Karthik

La Belle Annabelle

What should have been a fun movie review outlining how good the movie is, how the scares and the scare tactics work, how the movie’s subtle plot points connect well with the Conjuring universe, Unfortunately, it was not the kind of horror that I thought I’d be watching.

The day started off nice and easy. The I-Day. It felt nice to celebrate the day in a way that I could. Spur of the moment decision and I opted to watch a movie, Annabelle : Creation , later in the evening. A quick hop to Leicester Square later, I knew I had arrived an hour before the show could start .It was going to be a good evening after all. I loitered the streets, shot a few pictures, the smiling faces of Londoners was as pleasant as they have always been. With a little time to go, I made it to the movie hall. A large bag of salted popcorn later, the show was all set to begin.

This was a first of many kinds. I’ve been a purist when it comes to picking movie halls. BFI – IMAX. Period. Unfortunately, BFI was still showing Dunkirk, a movie that I seem to be avoiding for no warranted reason, I made that choice to try Super Screen in Cineword Leicester Sq. Italian leather seats, Oh I picked the balcony, which made it even more flamboyant. The balcony was smallish and cozy. I knew I’d enjoy the show. I had picked a nice strategic seat. Bang on Centre to the screen. The horror was all that I needed. Like a junkie after a fix, I was excited about the show that was to begin.

The funny thing that added to the sense of horror in that balcony was the simple fact that when people walked in, the entire room would feed shock waves. Two false jumps later, I had gotten used to the movement and the aftershocks. The ads had started. There were a dozen people sharing the balcony with me. Small crowd. That enhanced the eeriness to the movie watching experience. Perfect.

The floor rattled once again. I had grown wiser to it’s rumble. I ignored it. It rattled and rattled some more. The rattling persisted and I realized that something was going on a few seats away. I slowly turned away from the screen towards the side to see what was going on. Two blokes had kick started a fist fight. They were about 10 seats away from me, a row above.

My initial thought was that they were just a bunch of kids, teasing each other and landing soft punches to kill time. With the clock ticking, the punches didn’t sound soft any more. Yes, I could hear each thud landing. I could hear each fist getting in contact with a body.

Lets just say things escalated really quick. I’ll skip through the gory details. Watch American history X instead. I saw the same thing. Thank god, it wasn’t an execution.

I sat frozen in fear. I didn’t want to be on the path of the two idiots hell bent on killing each other. I made a split decision to run down the stairs and notify the manager , or flag it to the cops who were there on the streets. The message now conveyed, the cops now engaged, as I walked back to the hall to collect my bag, the victim walked past me. The horror still remains in my head and his blood remained splattered across my shirt. I didn’t realize it when he walked past me.

Testimony and witness account narrated to the cops, the movie resumed. With the movie now watched, only when I walked under the lights of the street did I notice streaks of red plotting fashionable tangent across my white shirt. I grew sicker and sicker on the train ride back home. I knew I was hallucinating the smell of blood. It wasn’t there. It wasn’t real. It felt all too real to me. The sanctity of my sanity had been breached.

It was the moment when the horror had finally caught on.

What drives us to deliver horror in real life? For what it’s worth, the movie was good and it’s horror was pale in comparison to the one which I didn’t volunteer to witness.