Friday, July 31, 2009

On the world's favourite boy-wizard

Its 31st July, also known as Harry Potter day to most of us nerdy HP fans and I've never done a Harry Potter related post in all the years I've had this blog, so I thought I might as well. Even though I don't talk about it much at all, Harry Potter has always been a big part of my life ever since I can remember. Its something that I have pretty much stopped being embarrassed about (hey, at least its not Twilight, ok?) because once you become twenty-one, all the things that used to embarrass you so much when you were a teenager don't really seem that important any more. Also, when I started reading HP, none of my friends even knew what it was, and so I never bothered bringing it up. Even when I was a kid, I used to have this irrational fear about talking to people about things that were important to me because I used to be terrified that they were going to use them against me or ruin them for me by dismissing them. I, unfortunately have this ridiculous fear even now, which pretty much stops me from having meaningful relationships with people.

But as usual, I digress, I stared reading Harry Potter when I was about twelve. A few years later the first film came out, and suddenly everyone was a fan. The other day it just struck me that there are going to be a whole load of children in the future who are going to grow up reading all the seven books back to back and miss out on a painful, yet exhilarating anticipation of waiting for each book to come out. I must admit that as I grew older the wait did start getting less painful although I did spend a week of having HP related nightmares/dreams before Half Blood Prince came out because of sheer nerves.

I must absolutely point out that even though I used to be and still am, to a certain extent, quite over-invested in the series, there is a slight difference between being a decent fan and being creepy and I'd like to categorize myself in the former case because creepy!HP fans are just really creepy. So no, I haven't attended fan conventions and written porn about underage fictional people (reading it totally doesn't overstep into that creepy frontier, by the way). I don't have some hidden HP related tattoos up my sleeve, haven't stalked the actors from the HP films and I don't listen to wizard rock (which is a genre of music bigger than you would expect it to be!). I don't even listen to the podcasts from fan websites or post/read deep, meaningful discussions and editorials on forums. So, from HP standards I'm a really terrible fan actually.

All that said, I'm still a pretty big nerd when it comes to HP related trivia; or at least I used to be until a couple of years ago. I may not know how many sickles there are in a gallon but I do know all about Ali Bashir and his magic carpet, and who the hell Euan Abercrombie is. Harry Potter has been an important part of my adolescent life and I have come to accept it without any shame at this point of my life. Even though I never got tortured by my friends, my parents have always given me so much hell for liking Harry Potter as much as I do. Who needs crappy friends when you have parents at home to tease you about your nerdy obsessions?

It was a good phase, as far as phases go and it was awesome growing up right in the heart of it. I literally grew up with the books, reading the first one when I was twelve and the last one when I was nineteen. Also, I do have awesome HP related stories to tell people now, like that time in Barcelona where we basically spent three days searching for a theatre that showed Order of the Phoenix in english (which we eventually did manage to find) and stumbled onto the best beach of the city (with the least number of tourists) or the summer that I was in New York when the 6th book came out and entire America went psychotic about 'Snape killed Dumbledore' or the night spent in a youth hostel in Lisbon reading the last book (which we bought at midnight after queuing up behind 10 year olds) when we had a whole day of sightseeing early next morning. Incidentally, I also dragged/tricked my mother to watch Half Blood Prince, after a fifteen hour flight the night I landed in Hong Kong two weeks ago.

As far as teenage fads go, I'd like to think that mine was not that bad after all. I always thought that I would have been really upset once it was all over, but I think what I had when I finished the last book was more of a sense of relief that it was all finally over. There was no nagging sense of I want more, and I was quite ready to grow out of it slowly and steadily. I'm not going to count the films because I am quite indifferent to them, but still religiously watch every one of them during their opening week, if not on the opening day itself because that is what a good fan is supposed to do. I would also like to think that I'm forcibly going make my kids read one book a year, but I know what I'd do if my parents ever told me not to read something until I was older.

Another week gets over, and its finally Friday night. No work for two whole days, YAY!

PS: I watched The Big Sleep last night with Humphrey 'I'm so cool, I don't need an umbrella, I have a raincoat!' Bogart and Lauren 'why are we wasting our time talking when we could be in bed right now?' Bacall. There is absolutely nothing better than a black and white thriller on a rainy night in and I have always been such a sucker for old Hollywood.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

10 things I have learnt this week

  1. Chinese people move around with their umbrellas open everywhere they go. They use an umbrella when its sunny and also when it rains. It really disconcerting to go out on a bright, hot day and see like a sea full of open umbrellas everywhere. No one wears sunglasses. You are more likely to be stared at if you wear sunglasses rather than if you have an umbrella open in the hot sun.
  2. People in my office take power naps after lunch. They put their head down on the desk and actually SLEEP. Its really, really weird to come back from lunch and find half the office dosing on their desks. Some of them even have little cushions to be more comfortable while napping and the 10-year-old in me wants to make my mobile phone ring and wake everyone up one day just to annoy them all.
  3. Lunch is officially for an hour, but unofficially its for an hour an a half which always ends up extending to mostly two hours. I love our lunch breaks; they are awesomely long. People eat for an hour and then nap for 30 minutes or so.
  4. Most of the people don’t actually know what they are eating half the time when they eat out. So, if you order a dish and you ask someone (even the waiters) what is in it they have this blank expression. Also, everyone eats out, the concept of cooking food for yourself doesn’t seem to exist.
  5. Everyone has an obsession with visiting cards. Everyone has a visiting card. Even the bartender in Starbucks has a visiting card! Hell, even I have a visiting card (which is totally the best thing that has happened to me here, by the way! I actually have my name printed on a card, OMG!)
  6. Chinese people have Chinese names for everything including Coke, Sprite and McDonalds, which are not mispronounced words for the original names, but different words altogether Kekoukele, Xue Bi and Mai Dang Lau respectively.
  7. The Starbucks here puts coffee jelly in their frappuccinos (which I am kind a slave for, by the way). I know it sounds really awful, but it tastes so much better than it sounds and I might even venture to admit that it actually tastes good with coffee jelly. However, ever since I was a kid, I have never been rational around jelly, so my judgement is pretty biased.
  8. When you go to restaurants, they ask you whether you want ice water or hot water. There is no in-between; you are not allowed to have your water at room temperature in this country. Its either frozen and makes your throat numb or is tepid and tastes of pee (don’t ask how I know this!)
  9. I am one of the few people in this world that think that the Chinese accent is great. However, after spending a week here, I find myself talking in it at times and that has started bothering me.
  10. A lot of restaurants shut down at 10 at night and the underground stops at 11. I’m assuming Chinese people like to go to bed early. This will teach me to complain about the Milanese metro that shuts at midnight.
  11. And this is a bonus one: Cigarette packets warnings have the sign ‘smoking may cause impotence’ instead of death because impotence is so much worse than the fear of death.

PS: I'm really sore right now all over because I was forced to go out and play gaelic football for two hours straight on thursday. I'm really awful at it and yet I ended having such a lot of fun but my muscles are dead.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

WTAF China?

How stupid do you think people are? No, like seriously? Do you think blocking YouTube, Blogger and Facebook in your country going to stop people from getting around this in any case? I'm not going to say any more because I don't want the government tracking my blog or anything, even though the idea of the Chinese government secretly monitoring my blog to see if I'm divulging state secrets is quite funny considering I haven't seen anything worthwhile in the 12 exact hours that I have spent in this country.

I am currently in city of Guangzhou (look it up and be ashamed if haven't ever heard of it!) sitting in the bed of my expensive-but-really-crap-quality-room (I shouldn't complain, at least I have a working air conditioner and satellite television which has exactly 100 channels in Chinese, and none in any other language!). Growing up with an OCD mother has given me extremely high hygiene standards, which makes every other place that is not my home not good enough for me. But I am determined to survive for the next two months and yes, there will be a lot of whining from Pan but she will surely but steadily make it through.

Work starts tomorrow, and I'm kind of looking forward for that becasue I am possibly the only human being in the world who looks forward to work (since it is still a novelty to me!). For the first time in my life I was throughly checked through by Chinese custom officials who opened my suitcase because they couldn't imagine why anyone would need five pairs of shoes for two months and the conversation went something like this:

Official: You have shoes, yes?
Me: ummmm...yes
Official: How many?
Me: I dont know, maybe about four, five pairs.
Official: You sell shoes?
Me: they are all mine.
Official: You have five shoes for two months?
Me: But they are my shoes. I need them!
Official: Why you need five shoes? Can we see your shoes?
(which is when I had to open my suitcase and prove that the shoes were indeed mine! And mind you this was when I had removed like two pairs last night because the bag was getting too heavy. That will teach me to carry so many shoes around the world)

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Updating Updates

We finally bought a table and some chairs for the balcony, which is awesome but pointless because we are leaving for the summer in less than two weeks. This leads me to the next thing I am going to say, I just have ONE more exam left for the year; its one of the harder ones and I seem to be having no inclination to study for it. All I want to do it lounge about in the balcony drinking iced tea and read. Why is this not possible?

Before this post disintegrates into one of those Pan's-life-is-so-hard-and-she-is-going-to-whine-about-it-for-the-next-five-paragraphs posts, let me stop myself. Its not really that hard, to be quite honest. I'm still enjoying the summer, sitting under the fan, listening to Michael Jackson and drinking iced tea as I type this out, so I promise no whining around on this post. I wish I could travel around for the holidays but I am no longer the free teenager that I used to be and if I want to have some sort of a future, I need to use my summers to do internships and build up my near-empty resume.

I'm going to be working this summer for the next two months in China. I'm a bit nervous about it but I'm sure its going to end up being a great experience, so I am kind of looking forward to that. Plus, no more studying for the next two months, so I'm hoping to catch up with all the books, movies and tv-shows (English and Korean!) that have been accumulating for a while now. I haven't seen a decent Bollywood film in a year and I think its about time to come out of the rock that I've been living under.

I was in the gym this morning and there was a Michael Jackson video marathon on MTV. I had kind of forgotten how amazing and emotional his videos used to be. I was literally running on the treadmill watching Man in the Mirror almost in tears and had to switch off the television for Earth Song because I would have started crying in that scene when the elephant dies (and I don't even like Earth Song!). I know, I know its probably a CGI elephant, but I am but a victim of my unstable emotions and just can't help myself around Michael Jackson videos :(

Friday, July 03, 2009

Somewhere over the rainbow

After having given exams for more than than a decade of my short lifespan, you would think that it would become easier to go through them, right? But I think it just seems to be getting harder each time for me. The lack of sleep, the gripping pit of fear in your stomach, the dark circles and not to mention the after tea/coffee breaks. Ugh!

I was pleasantly surprised to read about this a couple of days ago. It was pleasant because well, its about time that the law was changed and surprised because I really would never have thought that this would be possible in India, at least in my lifetime, but there are a few occasions where I love being wrong and this is one of them.

I also never thought there would come a day where I would be internally celebrating and being grateful over a ruling that gives people civil rights. These are rights that people are inherently be born with and should not have to struggle for. However, things like this give me hope for the future and even though I'm not naive enough to believe that this is actually going to end discrimination or hate crimes, I would like to think that it is a step forward in the right direction.

I would also like to add that anyone who thinks that this law should still be upheld is not only an idiot but also one of the most lowly forms of human beings to exist on this planet. I understand and even respect, to a certain extent, people's religious or personal beliefs about the matter, but if you think a whole subset of the human population deserve to be treated lesser than other humans based on their sexual orientation or race that is something that goes against everything human beings have struggled to achieved since we started existing.

PS: I've had the soundtrack of Hairspray on repeat all day on itunes and its made me ridiculously cheerful all. Have I ever mentioned my love for musicals before?