Friday, November 28, 2008

What are they doing to my city?

I've spent the last hour going through pictures, and I just can't seem to understand what is happening to the city I know and love so much. I have never seen Bombay like this, and its been really hard for me to see it in this state.

My uncle and aunt live on this street and I spent three months here this summer, its unbelievable seeing it this way.

While I am unable to handle what is happening, people around me are happily ignorant. Yesterday, not a single person at uni asked me how I felt about the fact that terrorists had taken over my city. Its not like my friends don't care; all of them are happily living in their own little bubble, with their own lives and problems. People just do not care about what is happening in the world, and I hate this indifference more than anything else.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Just less than two months ago, I was sitting in the Oberoi lobby for more than an hour, getting bored out of my mind, while waiting for my work delegation to arrive. I saw a video last night, where the entire lobby that overlooks the sea is blasted apart, and I just keep thinking about how I was sitting in that exact place such a short while ago.

We used to go to Leopolds' so often while I was there. In fact, on my last day at work, we went there for dinner, and I know how crowded it is in the evenings. My mind is unable to even imagine how this can happen in a restaurant that I've been so many times to.

I watched The Dark Knight in the Metro cinema, and complained about the quality of their popcorn. This is where three high profile police officers were killed in cold blood, I used to pass this place every day while going to work.

My grandma took a train from CST a couple of hours before the shootings occurred. She didn't realize what was happening until she got home and saw the news.

The Taj Mahal hotel is one of my favourite buildings in the city. Its so beautiful, archaic, built in the wrong direction and sticks out like a sore thumb in its surroundings; I just can't imagine Bombay without it.

My aunt and her family could hear gun shots all night long. They live less than 500 meters from all these places. They also live right next to the Colaba Fire Brigade, and can still hear the trucks and sirens passing by.

The point is that this is not something happening in a random city somewhere in the world. Its happening in my home, around the area where I was living less than two months ago, in the places that I used to walk past every day. I keep seeing footage showing the streets around where I was living, and I'm in a state of disbelief. Those streets are so familiar to me, and I can't seem to accept all what is happening. Bombay is just such an amazing city, the people there work very hard to live and survive, and the last thing we need is something like this.

I have an important homework due in this afternoon, and I am unable to concentrate. Last night, I was watching the news and trying to solve finance equations at the same time. It seems so shallow to be doing homework when something like this is happening, but what can I do?

Friday, November 21, 2008

5 Centimeters Per Second

I'm not much of an anime fan. I know that if I tried, I'd probably really love it and be one of those crazy, otakus. However, anime is such a big, big genre that I'd be so lost if I tried getting into it, and twenty one is really too old an old age to start obsessing about cartoons, isn't it? There are some things in this world that are just too vast and scary for me to venture into, even though I know that if I probably tried I'd love them like manga, graphic novels, Discworld, anime and the list is quite long.

That said, the only anime films I have seen are by Hayao Miyazaki, who also happens to be my favourite Japanese man in the word, and no, not even Kimura Takuya's adorable smile can take my love for Hayao away. I have seen almost all of Miyazaki's films; Princess Mononoke, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, Kiki's Delivary Service, Laputa: Castle in the Sky, Porco Rosso, and My Neighbour Totoro. In fact, the only non Miyazaki anime film that I ever watched is the one that I'm going to write about below. I don't even know how I stumbled across it and ended up watching the trailer. I think it was the music and the amazing animation that made me want to watch the film.

The trailer doesn't do much justice to the animation, but if you watch it in higher definition, the artwork just fabulous. I have never seen such beautiful animation before, and it just pulls you into the movie. The movie itself, I have to say that I would have probably loved it if I was fifteen and sentimental, but watching it now just made me feel a little sad. The film is divided into three subsections of 22 minute each and is relatively short.

The first section starts when the narrator, Takaki is a child in middle school, where he befriends the new girl in school, Akari and they become very close. I'd have liked to say that they fall in love, but I know how silly that sounds because they are twelve. The whole section is narrated in a series of letters between the two children, and we find out that Akari has now moved to another city with her family. We also find out that the Takaki's family is also soon going to be moving far away to a small town in the country. However, before he has to leave, he decides to go and meet Akari once more.

There is this lovely sequence detailing his journey about how terrified and anxious he is, how the train is very late, and every moment passing is only increasing is anxiety about the fact that she is not going to come to meet him. When he finally reaches his destination, the station is deserted, but she is there waiting for him. They spend the night sitting up and talking in a barn and he leaves the next morning. Before he leaves they share an innocent kiss, but what could be an potential 'awww' worthy moment is really a sad one because it is at that time Takaki realizes that their relationship is never going to work out. Instead of being happy, the only thing Takaki can feel is sadness and grief because he knows that nothing in his future is ever going to measure up to the happiness felt when he was with Akari that night.

We then move on to the second section of the film, which can actually be seen as independent from the first and third part. Most people thought that it wasn't very relevant to the film, but I think I disagree. This is told from the point of view of Kanae, a girl in Takaki's new school. Several years have passed by, and Takaki is now a popular teenager in high school. Kanae has been in love with Takaki for a very long time, and everyone else apart from Takaki knows this.

However hard Kanae tries to get Takaki to notice her, he just doesn't seem to pay any attention to her or anyone else around him because he is so involved in his own thoughts. There is this poignant scene where Kanae finally realizes that no matter what she does Takaki is never going to notice her because he is searching for something that she will never be able to give him. Takaki lives in a world that she is never going to be a part of, and she has to learn to move on with her life.

This is when we go on to the third and final section. This section has almost no dialogue, but we find out that Takaki is now an adult working as computer programmer. He is still unable to open up emotionally to anyone, even his girlfriend, who breaks up with him. He inadvertently seems to be searching for Akari whenever he sees crowds. We also see Akari who is now engaged to another man. It is clear that over the years, Takaki and Akari have lost contact with one another. Yet, we see that they are both thinking and pining for that moment of happiness they shared as children. However, the only difference is that Akari seems to have accepted this and has moved on with her life, when Takaki is clearly unable to.

Takaki finally realizes that his youth is almost over, and that he has to let go of his longing and nostalgia for his childhood days with Akari, but whether he is able to do this or not, we never know because the film ends. The music used in the last section is amazing, and I love the song that plays in the final scene of the movie.

As I said, if I was fifteen, I would have probably loved the film because there is nothing I understand better than teen angst. I would have probably written long posts about how Takaki and Akari were soul mates and meant to be together, but seeing it now just made me want to slap some sense into Takaki. A part of me can understand his feelings for Akari, but there is a bigger part in me wanting to bang his head against something hard and make him realize all the things he has lost or never even noticed, like Kanae, because of how self involved he is. The only reason why Takaki is unhappy is because he has made himself unhappy and not because of the fact that Akari is not in his life.

NB: Ok, this post has become way longer than what it should be because I have a tendency to ramble, but today is Friday, my week-from-hell is almost over and I'm cheerful enough to talk about things of no consequence.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The joys of being a student

After three years at university, I've become quite used to being burdened with work, so its not that much of a big deal. But I don't think I have ever had so many things to do in such a short period of time. I have so much to do that when I start thinking about it, I end up feeling a bit ill in my stomach. As most of you already know how fond I am lists, I thought that I might as well make one in order to make myself feel worse than I already do for wasting so much time.

The things that need to be urgently done are:
  1. A homework in corporate finance which is due on this Friday (yes, I am well aware that this happens to be in less than 48 hours). This is supposed to be time consuming and involves me reading and understanding three chapters worth of something that I have no clue about.
  2. A super important, twenty page, group report that is due next Friday. Currently this is consuming 50% of my time because of my anal group. I mean, its pretty hard to find people that are more anal than I am in this world, and I had to end up in the same group as ALL of them!
  3. Another super important, time consuming, group project in corporate finance that is also due in on next Friday, based on those three chapters that I have yet to read and/or understand. This was given to us yesterday and one of the guys my group has already contacted me telling me that he's dropping out and another girl has written me an email telling me that she has no time to come for our project meeting on Friday and will do whatever she can to help us on it from home.
  4. A detailed project plan which is due on the exact same Friday as point number 2 and 3 for another course that I'm studying. We have no idea what we are going to do our project on and have no time to think about it, so we're going to leave this until the last moment until we freak out about it and work under pressure.
  5. A midterm on a course that I have yet to open my text book for on the 20th of November, which is a date much nearer than I would like it to be.
  6. Catching up with my French homework and the more than dozen French lectures that I have missed while doing other things (namely having group meetings for our project where we spent time arguing on whether our project should be in British English or American English)
  7. If all this was not enough, we are moving house sometime in December, so I have to start sorting my seven years worth of accumulated stuff as soon as possible. I foresee a lot of arguments with my mother in the near future.
  8. I also have to go to a birthday party of a person I couldn't care less about on Friday. This means that I have to find time somewhere in the next 48 hours to go buy a present.
  9. My mother is coming home on Sunday after being away from the house for almost a month. So, I have to do some crazy house-cleaning on Saturday because right now, everything is a mess and my mum would probably have a heart attack if she saw the house in its current condition.
  10. The fridge currently has one squishy tomato and three carrots. I have to go to the supermarket as urgently as possible, but I've been going to university at 8 in the morning and coming back home well after 7 at night for the last three days. I'm so glad my mother is coming back!
I am seriously not sure how I am going to survive this month. If all this wasn't bad enough, the weather has been terrible lately. I have forgotten what the sun looks like because we haven't actually seen the sun from this city for the past month. All I want to do is read my book in bed and marathon The West Wing, which is my new favourite TV show. Ok, now that I'm done whining and feeling sorry for myself, I feel a little better. I should do angy ranting more often, shouldn't I?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Yes We Can!

I admit it, I sniveled a bit when I heard him talk. It was one of the most touching speeches that I have ever listened to. After staying up for most of the night nervously watching BBC, I actually thought I was hallucinating when they finally announced the results.

And as a side note, I have to say that BBC has come to be my favourite news channel. The night had some truly memorable moments.

Monday, November 03, 2008

To Autumn

I know I'm no Keats, and so my poetry writing skills might fall short while describing my love for this season. However, I absolutely love autumn, and it is definitely my favourite season. Growing up in Bombay didn't give me much of an opportunity to experience the phenomenon of seasons (unless you count four months of torrential rainfall as a season), which is why I think I enjoy them more than most people.

The other day when I was going to lectures in the morning, it was a beautiful sunny day, the temperature was about 15°C and the sky was bright blue with not a single cloud in the vicinity. I love it when the weather is like this. I would happily be able to live in this climate all year around. Its warm enough to wear a short or a long sleeved tshirt when you're indoors, but you need a jacket and a scarf to go outside; its too cold for sandals, but you can wear open shoes/pumps without any problems; its too cold to feel sweaty and stuffy, but not too cold for ice cream.

Autumn in Milan is beautiful, especially when the day is sunny. The trees are all red and orange, there are leaves everywhere, vendors have started selling roasted chestnuts, you can see the old trams moving busily along their tracks, people seem to be going about doing their work, the shops are changing window decorations to autumn clothes, schools and universities have just started, and people are out on the street in the evening catching up with their friends after having been away for the summer. All the summer heat and irritation seem to have faded away, and the weather is pleasant enough for you to enjoy without freezing to death.

Spring is lovely, but you always seem to expect more from it. Each day in spring brings you closer to summer, closer to freedom, closer to holidays, and happiness. Its not a season that you can sit back and enjoy, but a season where you are busy with exams and deadlines. I barely even notice spring passing by. Winter; lets face it, winter sucks! I wouldn't mind the cold because I like cold weather, but its the darkness that just depresses me. I can never get used to the fact that the sun in winter sets at 4 in the afternoon. By the time I get out of my lectures at 6, its pitch dark and the town seems empty and quiet. Summer, what can I say about summer? It is never long enough! It passes by too quickly for you to even remember where the days have gone, and before you know it, its autumn already.

NB: I wrote this post a couple of days ago, and its been raining continuously ever since; the sky is cloudy and dark, and there is no sign of any sunlight. It has also become much colder. I think my post has totally jinxed the weather. I've been listening to Edith Piaf all day in my dark house; all I need is some coffee and cigarettes, and I could pretend to be an artsy brooder contemplating the deeper meaning of life and relationships.