Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Alfonso Cuaron’s—

 A Review

Unlike any other movie I watched, watching Gravity followed a thorough perusal of anything and everything available as reviews. I came across many wonderful movie reviews, but found none, in fact, that can stand true to what I saw and how I felt during my watching of Gravity. It seems, not many of the reviewers caught a good glimpse of what the movie is all about and what stays hidden, behind the lines, for the connoisseur to observe and savor.

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The two actors, the only living human beings that appear during the 90 plus minutes, are chosen wisely. They have, to use a worn out phrase, done their jobs well. Writing department has imparted the best work, giving Hollywood an appealing show to cherish. Gravity is a survival story directed by Alfonso Cuaron, and is typical in its structural alignment, the beginning-- ambitious space project, middle—the catastrophic accident, and end—an epic struggle for survival, like many other survival movies in Hollywood.  

Image Courtesy: Alfonso Cuaron
Gravity is rich with symbolism, with amazing graphics, and that helps it rise above the mundane Hollywood numbers. Ryan Stone’s (Sandra Bullock) fetal position, the sunrise over the earth, seen from outer space, and the shower of space debris seen up in the sky when Ryan Stone looks up from the ground, just after the narrow escape into gravity—form the tripod of fascinating moments in this movie. Alfonso Cuaron’s Golden Globe is a doubtless side effect of this remarkable achievement.

Although only through his voice from Houston, Ed Harris was impressive too. This movie is a classic from our time.

Although the first hype to the movie is borrowed from a George Clooney-Sandra Bullock chemistry, those who watch it from start to finish can realize that Mr. Clooney has a very short length of screen space for himself. As Tina Fey observed during the Golden Globes 2014, “It’s the story about how George Clooney would rather float away into space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his own age.” However, this very nature of Clooney’s role makes it the classical centre of audience sympathy. The character played by Mr. Clooney, Lieutenant Matt Kowalski, although attempts to help the medical engineer and Mission Specialist Ryan Stone, is overpowered by the perils of the vast and mysterious Space. Nevertheless, Matt Kowalski is sure to satisfy Clooney fans.

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Although Clooney’s character seemed to be a typical flat one, Sandra Bullock’s Ryan was dynamic. Psychologically, Ryan Stone moves from point A to point B, learning through her experiences. Ms. Bullock had enough screen space to exhibit her acting skills too. A definitive attraction is Ms. Bullock’s long and toned legs when Ryan Stone floats inside the zero gravity Space station.

The central precipice of the story is the loss and discovery of meaning to life. This is narrated through Ryan Stone’s character and how she identifies the necessity to stay alive, which in turn makes the character ‘round’—a changing and dynamic one. The events through which the story resolves suggest that even in the dizzying vastness of space, if one holds on to the essence of life, a cause that can lead one forward, survival is guaranteed.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

When the Snow Melts

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I am excited to share a glad news with you; my latest short story, “The Encounter on the Seashore” is published in Whisperings Magazine, Winter Edition. It’s a story about asking help, intimidating fear that prevents us from connecting with the Divine and the Other.

Whisperings Magazine is a great looking magazine with amazing works of literature and art, including photographs. I am almost addicted to the cover they gave for this Winter Edition, mountains with melting snow.

I pray the sun comes out in those lives where the blinding snow of prejudice and hatred has frozen cold. May you find the openness and courage to ask for help, when in need.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Dome of...

The young men and women sitting in front of me, anticipating brighter futures and a present intoxicated with the verve of youth, might not be the same once they realize who they actually are. Realization of the higher self within one’s physiological bounds is indeed difficult due to the powerful influences from the external world. Every moment we are bombarded with statements such as “we, the ordinary people…”

From politicians to mass media, this one chant becomes the preferred propaganda over and over again, until the individual starts to trust this external voice rather than listening to and living in accordance with his or her inner voice.

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The magnificence of human “being”, the vastness of human understanding, and the synergy--the inter connected and combined energy of all humans--stands proof to the extraordinariness of humankind. However, this also means a generalization. In addition, generalizations like these often lead people to misconceptions and into creating binaries such as man vs. nature. Man symbolizes power and nature, subjugation. Thus begins the whole game of politicizing the irrelevant.

Although it is extremely relevant to know the real strengths of human beings, political assessments of those strengths in order to produce another war of ideologies and sacrifice of more time, wealth, and lives upon it are all irrelevant.

Humanity is greatly powerful. However, how do we make the individual understand his or her capabilities? How do we invoke their inner selves, their higher consciousness? These questions often rise in my mind when I stand before my students in a class.

Recently, I came across a book that announced in its introduction itself that it stands for the idea of ‘mastering the art of manifesting’. The book was Wishes Fulfilled by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer. A review of Wishes Fulfilled: Mastering the Art of Manifesting will be here soon. Watch out for my next posts.
Image Courtesy: Dr. Dyer
“There is a level of awareness available to you that you are probably unfamiliar with.” (25) Dr. Dyer suggests the existence of a higher self that every human being can tap into. He believes that from this realm of awareness, one can easily receive bountifully all the wishes fulfilled. Whether textbook science backs up this case or not is another issue--much irrelevant, as one of those cases of politicizing I mentioned earlier.

The human Being--as Dr. Dyer himself addresses the whole of humanity, in one of his earlier books, titled You’ll See it When you Believe It--has already manifested its capabilities and potential of a supernatural level. Through various fields of learning and Learning, seeing and Seeing*, sciences and art, revelations and holy scriptures, manifestations of abilities of largely an unearthly kind has been available to us now, for investigation. One should investigate and rightly so, deeper into these achievements by us, by the human Being, in order to figure out the space for oneself.

Imagine this; if out of all the holy books, books that introduce the Divine to humans, at least a 10 billionth part of it were true, what would be the status of us, human beings? How would we define ourselves, with the relative reality of the Otherworld, existing with the full weight of evidence?

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” Genesis 1:26. King James Bible

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The magnificent man continues his quest for true greatness amidst the clamor of ‘ordinariness’, without knowing, without seeing within himself that which is always praised and worshipped, his own higher consciousness--the God element.   

*Note: The italicized and capitalised words stands for higher purposes, acts of a deeply spiritual nature, Learning, Seeing, etc.

Note 2: The use of “his” the male pronoun at occasions refers to general ideas and do not entail a gender bias or any kind from the author.

If you’d like to read Wishes Fulfilled: Mastering the Art of Manifesting, by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, You can compare the prices here. Do let me know if you purchase a copy or take one from your library. More on Wishes Fulfilled will be in my coming posts.

The book review is sponsored by     

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Three Extremely Rewarding...

New Year Resolutions
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1. Alter your waking up time

When do you wake up each day? Change your time and make it fifteen to thirty minutes earlier. This will allow you to have a few gratifying early morning moments to live. Time early in the morning is ideal for Yoga, reading and jogging. This way you are raising your living standard a step higher each day.

2. Buy one book a month

Books are our doorway to the world of wisdom. Buying books are one of the best habits one can cultivate. This year, make it a point to keep a share of your earnings each month for buying books. Buy books, but not just the books by established authors. There are wonderful indie authors out there, who have created some fabulous stuff for readers around the world. They reach your hand through online shopping sites like Amazon. My book Wall of Colours and Other Stories is available through throughout the world. We are living at the best time for writers and readers.

3. Spend at least thirty minutes a day with your beloved ones.

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You are not alone in this world. The pessimistic notion that everyone comes alone does not hold because we come along with a mind, a body, its cells, molecules and thoughts. (Yes, thoughts, which we cannot recognise and remember, as clearly as an older child can, as infants) Your family is the first space you ‘owned’. Perhaps, at some point they had started owning you, but you still can give them the credit of being your family. You are special. And so is your beloved one. Spend some time with that person, who you call family, or the group of people, who belong to you, or with whom you belong.

How to Unwind on New Year’s Day?

It seems everyone wants the New Year’s day to be perfect. It is as if ordinariness is accursed and undesirable. Whatever one does to make the New Year’s first day special, ordinariness creeps in, like an occasional uninvited guest. The bus we take to workplace, or college or school, the taxi driver we meet on the road, the parents who constantly nag about the failures we had the previous year until the very moment you read this article, and the crows that shit on our day while waiting for a bus in the evening, all make something horribly ordinary set its foot in our auspicious New Year’s day.

These are potential threats we all foresee and know exists somewhere round the corner. We pray and hope that from the bus driver to your parents or beloved ones behave properly, and respect us. You may feel for the lonely crow on the dry branch of the mahogany tree in the bus stop, and hope its bowels do not act out while you are underneath the branch in your best clothing. Even after hoping and expecting the best, we all know internally that something will not happen as expected. But we have measures to alleviate our pain and disappointments.

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Some of us have this strategy to consider the first event on the New Year’s day as crucial and everything else happening during the rest of the day as unimportant, normal and ordinary. This almost goes hand in hand with the common perception that whatever happens during New Year’s day will repeat throughout the rest of the year. But if you cannot control what happens in your life throughout the whole of 1 Jan, then to take the latter stand seems better--taking the first event as the best sign. This too might turn into a gamble at some point, especially if you are in the Southern part of India, where “power cuts” are as common as coconut trees. A power cut early in the morning could very well ruin our whole day, for that matter.

When I was in the bus stop, early this morning, going to college, I asked myself; ‘what is the best thing happened to me today?’

I was trying to explain to myself before the bus comes, about the rises and falls that await me on this day, in terms of “the first event is best” theory. I was not sure at all of how many bad experiences I would have to endure, from the moment I board on the bus, till I reach my college. So it was decided that I should dwell on the one great occasion or moment I had for the first time today, 1 Jan. I considered that possibility for a while, without much success, because there is always something wrong with everything.

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I was on the verge of disappointment. Needless to say, this eager preoccupation with ‘perfect days’ is part of the today’s cultural ethos. My day, much like many of them all over the world, was far from being perfect.

Meek, quiet and patience have been extremely rewarding qualities in literatures, epics and holy scriptures around the world. Trusting this wisdom of the Tradition, I considered the possibility of being soft towards myself and avoid pushing myself very hard. Then I considered every one of my actions since my waking up at the morning. My actions, including waking up, brushing teeth and taking shower are events too that I should consider well again.

When the alarm struck 5.45 this morning, I opened my eyes, saw myself in the reflection, nearby, on the floor. This is the best event that happened on New Year’s day! When I heard the alarm, I could wake up into a new and bright morning. I am alive. With almost all of us, this must have been the case. Think about the situation that runs into the opposite direction, how horrible it might be!

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If you are someone looking for a perfect memory you can take with you into the future about New Year’s day, this one event might be there in your life too. You heard the morning alarm, took the sun’s bright and golden rays onto your face, and woke up, expecting hoping and dreaming. This event might not be an attention grabber, like winning a lottery or meeting the love of one’s life or making a dream come true. These mornings are, on the other hand, ethereal moments of life that together make us win lotteries in the form of love of our life, a dream, and prosperity.

Wish you and your beloved ones, a very Happy and fulfilling New Year.