The Soulmate Debate

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“A soulmate is …the mate of your soul!” I once childishly proclaimed to the world at large, sometime during my third year of undergrad. At the time we all laughed about the silliness of the statement and even included it in our ‘stupid shit people say’ board, a sacred, never-to-be-erased public document displayed ever so proudly in the living room of our crappy Hamilton student house. Back then, with term papers, bachelors’ degrees, and grad school applications hanging over our heads, we couldn’t care less about defining such an outdated and loaded term. Our late twenties and early thirties were eons away, and this soulmate business with its very obvious association with marriage was the last thing on our commitment-phobic minds.

I don’t know about the rest of the twenty-somethings out there but I personally struggle with this term today. It doesn’t mean the same things it used to, and that confuses me. Younger Prutha fiercely believed in the chic-flick definition of soulmate, complete with the ‘one destined person for everyone’ detail. Slightly older Prutha believed in it too, but grudgingly, freshly reeling from the sting of recent heartbreak. Slightly older still Prutha laughed at it, because COME ON. How could you keep thinking every new relationship is with a soul mate? The whole concept seemed silly. Also, slightly older still Prutha kind of hated men, so I guess we can exclude her opinion on those grounds anyway. Today’s Prutha decided it would be smarter to ask other twenty-somethings, assuming they’d figured it out way quicker than her. These were some of their responses to ‘What is a Soulmate?’:

“Someone you can sit beside, not exchange any words..just simply hold hands and gaze at nothing..yet walk away thinking you had the most amazing time.”

“Someone who can put up with you for a looooong time.”

“Someone who will stand by your side no matter what.”

“Your soul’s recognition of its counterpoint in another.” (stolen from Wedding Crashers, I realize, but still a GREAT definition)

“Someone you’re connected to beyond logic or reason, have been with in past lives and took care of each other, and someone who is able to get to your core and change you for the better – either through painful or pleasant methods. The bond is eternal and can’t be broken and can be felt even when you aren’t with the person. A bond that stays lifetime after lifetime. Sometimes you’re together and other times you aren’t, but in the end you always help each other through some way or another. Also, they have the capacity to emotionally hurt you more than almost anyone else and help you more than almost anyone else because you implicitly know each other without speaking.”

“People who connect quickly and effortlessly who maintain that connection and understand one another ideally in other lives.”

“If both people are committed and love each other as a couple more than they love themselves individually, then you can turn your mate into a soulmate. I don’t think they’re destined, they’re made by people who work at it.”  

Honestly? These are brilliant responses. And I’m proud to be part of a generation that seems to truly understand the simple logic behind the term. I am a little tired of Hollywood and marketing campaigns (jewelry stores!) making the term interchangeable with spouse or romantic partner. Yes it would be WONDERFUL if the person you end up marrying also happens to be a soul mate, but I truly believe that does not always have to be the case. In fact, many relationships are successful and very happy because the couple has fantastic chemistry and work hard on their relationship, keeping it a happy and healthy one.

I can think of at least five people who I am confident are my ‘soul mates’. I.e. I connect with them without really trying, can go months without talking to them and still pick up where I left off with them, can depend on them to understand my troubles without really saying much to them to explain it… you get the idea. I believe my soul knows theirs from a previous life and that they’re in my life now to help me through obstacles that I may be struggling through. They may be anyone – a brother, a friend, a teacher, a temporary boss, a romantic partner. They may not even be in my life for too long – just long enough to help in some way and teach me something about myself.

I don’t know if I will be lucky enough to you know, ‘end up’ with a dude who’s a soul mate, but I’m not planning to sit around waiting for someone like that to fall into my lap. It’s just not practical. Like I said, I’m sure he (and possibly several more like him) exists, but he may already be with someone else who he has amazing chemistry with and who makes him happy. Why mess with that?

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La Tomatina 2013: A Battle of Epic Proportions

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As thousands of young tourists crowded at the entrance to the festival area in the little town of Bunol near Valencia, Spain, armed with goggles, scuba masks, bee-keeper outfits, silver latex bodysuits, disposable waterproof cameras, and ziplock bags containing tickets and passports, I had only one coherent thought in those wee hours of the morning: I am about to make some wicked memories here. We’d gotten to the venue at 6AM, as had most other tomatiners, based on recommendations on numerous travel websites. The festival was to begin at 11AM, so we had some to kill. Which of course we filled with lots of delicious sangria and a random on-the-go breakfast from a food cart that had conveniently set itself up nearby.

I took a moment to observe my surroundings. Most of these people were tourists. Young tourists, in fact. There were a lot of Australians and Japanese tourists, which gave you an idea of how well-known and vastly bucket-listed this festival is globally. Groups were dressed in themed t-shirts with cool logos such as Heinz Tomato Ketchup substituted for La Tomatina 2013, for example. There were men (definitely American) dressed in pink lingerie, guys with their heads completely shaved except for a tiny piece in the middle cut like the top of a tomato, girls wearing swim caps and goggles, and us.. all white with red bandanas. The plan was to look alike so we’d be able to find each other, but no one considered the fact that we’d ALL look the same once this was over.

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Our tickets bought and our passports safely in our pockets (bad idea!), pinned to our bras (bad idea!), or pinned to the inside of our shorts (me – bad idea!), we headed with the crowed to the festival area. As we walked over, a very smart person in our group (who i can’t remember now) pointed out a vet hospital with a huge sign that could be a meeting spot if we were to get seperated. Safety protocols in place, we headed over to the festival area, ready for war.

Before the fight starts, it is tradition for a greased ham pole to be setup in the midst of the crowd, at which point brave souls try to monkey-climb up and get to the piece of meat. It’s a ridiculously daunting task as it was soon discovered by many that tried their luck to no avail. While this ritual continues, the crowd below jostles and shoves while cheering on the climbers. Meanwhile the entire town watches from their balconies and terraces, enjoying the chaos from afar and hosing down any climber that gets too close to the ham.

Honestly, the entire experience was exhilarating. You became a part of this herd mentality of shove or be shoved, push or be pushed, keep moving or be trampled. Unfortunately, my small frame and short height was a disadvantage, and although our group of 9 was firmly locked together for protection, somehow, I was separated and pulled into the crowd. I could still see them though, so it wasn’t an issue until I started to be shoved into people’s armpits and felt my ribs being squeezed from all sides. At that point it was just more important to get the hell out of that situation because it was getting really difficult to breathe. I don’t remember ever having pushed that hard without any kind of give. It was so crowded and the people so jammed together that I wasn’t able to push my way out! At that point it was all I could do not to panic. Ducking under arms and rudely pushing faces out of my way, I sluggishly made my way to the nearest wall (bad idea!). When I got there I realized I had just made things worse, as the wall obviously would have NO give, and I could really be crushed there. So I turned to the guy beside me, PRAYING he spoke English (many didn’t in Spain, it was crazy), and asked him to help me because I couldn’t breathe and needed to get out. His incredulous response of “Are you serious?!” was sweet American/Canadian music to my ears, and his painfully hard push against my back was the greatest feeling ever because it got me through the crowd and out onto the sidelines of the madness. I ran to the nearest pavement and sat down, holding my head between my hands and focusing on my breathing. I’d probably become semi claustrophobic in there (although I’m not claustrophobic normally), which had made my breathing shallow. I felt better right away but remained sitting just to be sure. Just when I thought I was ready to get back into the chaos, it started to pour.

Normally I wouldn’t have minded but the rain was cold, so I sought shelter under an awning in a parallel street, where all the emergency vehicles and cops were stationed . The rain continued for quite a while, which gave me time to get friendly with several Spanish cops (yes they were gorgeous!) that were sharing the awning with me. No one understood anyone, of course, but I like to think the conversation was meaningful? I told them I’d lost ‘my amigos’ (you can’t say I didn’t learn any Spanish in Spain!) and they seemed to understand, but couldn’t do much for me. I tried to tell them my ‘amigos’ were pretty close to the ham pole but I didn’t know how to say ham so I ended up miming a pole and saying ‘pollo’ which means chicken. I don’t even want to know what they thought I was saying – I mean a girl miming a pole? Come on. No wonder they looked confused. And very amused.

As I stood there watching the rain and fretting over finding my friends, a cannonball-like shot was fired somewhere in the distance, immediately followed by a huge uproar from the crowd. As I craned my neck to see what was going on, the policeman nearest to me yelled ‘La Tomatina!’, pointing in the direction of the closest side street. I looked up. The rain was still coming down heavily but it was now or never. I had come all the way to Spain pretty much for this festival, and there was no way I was missing out just because I was alone. Waving to the cops, I raced up the side street, slipping and sliding in my waterproof flats, my excitement building as I ran. I was not even a little bit prepared for the scene that awaited me.

The main street was utterly and completely red. The walls, the concrete, the pavement, the people, the trees, the buildings, the trucks…the trucks?! I suddenly became aware of the humungous trucks that were slowly making their way down the main street, forcing the crowd to part. These trucks were full of people armed to the teeth with squished tomatoes. And they were merciless. It suddenly dawned on me that the trucks were the source of the tomatoes, and every time one passed the side street I was holed up in, 20 people would pelt us with tomatoes. As more trucks passed us we got creative with our attack methods. Two Asians in beekeeper outfits (I swear I’m not making this up) acted as our frontline defense. Larger, football-player like guys crouched behind them, using their expert aim to hit targets square in the face. I hid behind these guys, protecting myself for all I was worth. Using these human shields for protection, I managed to get several sneak attacks in myself before deciding I wanted to venture out into the madness to find my friends.

 

Since the tomato-throwing began, the crowd had gotten a little less tight, and I was able to weave my way through it without feeling suffocated. With tomato juice stinging my eyes, dodging crazy Koreans swimming in the pulp, and avoiding beefy drunk guys smacking everyone with wet tomato-soaked t-shirts, I waded through the mess, hoping to come across my friends at some point. But then someone decided it would be fun to start kicking tomato smush in all directions, which of course led to a crowd frenzy once again. Abandoning any attempts to find my friends now, I swam/waded/ran towards the nearest wall, where I’d seen a girl standing high up on a ledge. It would be the safest place for me. As I approached the wall at a flat out sprint, preparing to do an Olympic-style high jump (which would have failed miserably for sure), like four pairs of hands hoisted me up on the ledge, while the girl standing up there grabbed my hands and helped me up. They didn’t know me and I didn’t know them but at that moment, in the middle of that tomato war, we were allies. She was Korean I think, and spoke very little English. Not that it mattered. We couldn’t hear each other over the war cries anyway.

Of course climbing up on that ledge made me a sitting duck and an easy target. Seeing a new ‘duck’ on the ledge, people took aim and showed no mercy. It was like a dance of danger, balancing on that narrow ledge and constantly dodging tomatoes. One guy actually threw a tomato-soaked t-shirt at me! Once again my Korean ally came to my rescue. Picking up the ‘Specials’ board of the bar whose ledge we were apparently standing on, she used it as a shield against the the tirade, allowing us to not only be protected, but to attack right back as well. I was in complete Xena warrior princess mode at this point. It just brings it out in you, this madness.

When the cannon sounded to signal the end of the greatest food fight on earth, we trudged back through the streets of Bunol, exhausted from the battle. But the fun was just beginning. Residents all across the town had set up food carts on the streets, water hosing stations outside their garages, and music and alcohol flowed freely everywhere. Illegal vendors ran around, dodging cops and selling flip flops and clothes (they were selling goggles before the fight – so resourceful haha!).

I met up with my friends at the vet hospital – again – the smartest idea we came up with that day. We exchanged stories and it sounded like theirs was a tale of epic proportions as well, with lost and found passports, crazy hair pulling and group protection strategies to make it through the battle.

La Tomatina has now officially been checked off my bucket list. It was nothing like I’d imagined, it was infinitely more stressful, fantastic, exhilarating, amazing, scary, and fulfilling. The feeling of accomplishment is indescribable. HIGHLY recommended, but not for the weak of heart!

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Is it Racism When it’s Against Your Own Race?

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I promised myself I would stay out of this until I read the article from TIME magazine. Now I just need to say something. And the only way I know to properly express my disgust and anger is through writing, so here goes. Disclaimer though: all of this is my opinion and my opinion alone. When reading the post below, please keep in mind that everyone is entitled to their opinion, I am not trying to stir things up, and I am not out to target any particular group of people. I’m just angry and I need my trusty written word as an outlet. So here goes.

I woke up this morning and the first thing I happened to read was this article from TIME magazine. Here’s the link: http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/09/19/miss-america-is-too-dark-to-be-miss-india/

I am an Indian Canadian who was born in India and moved to Canada at a very young age. Not so young though, that I don’t remember the culture and the traditions. I still retain those roots because I am proud of them, and I love a lot of things about the Indian culture. However, I have struggled to understand the Indian concept of ‘beauty’ my entire life. I mean the article pretty much says it all, but in a nutshell, you are more likely to be accepted into a family through marriage if you are fair-skinned. I mean a lot of families actually indicate that they want a fair-skinned individual for their son/daughter to marry (regardless of the color of their son/daughter’s skin by the way). For this reason, many darker-skinned Indians (particularly females) struggle against this discrimination all their lives.

It’s honestly the most uneducated, stupid and backward thing I’ve ever heard. Are you really telling me that marrying your kid off to a fairer individual will ensure a happier, more successful, problem-free marriage? Will your offspring’s spouse be less likely to cheat, or engage in physical abuse, or be a bad parent if he/she was fair in complexion?Did you know that fairer skinned people are at a higher risk for skin cancer? Have you noticed how many dark-skinned individuals have beautiful features and really good skin?

And as usual, people go further with this and start rejecting girls who ‘aren’t fair enough’ as well. There is apparently a made-up ‘scale’ out there in people’s heads which determines just how fair you need to be in order to be acceptable. I mean I’ve definitely been rejected for not being fair enough, which just makes me laugh. If you’ve seen me, you’d probably say I have a fair to wheatish complexion, depending on the season (I get really pale in the winter haha), so that’s just stupid. It just goes to show that there’s really no pleasing these people for the most part, and you shouldn’t want to either.

All I’m saying is that there is no BASIS for this kind of opinion. The worst part is that these people, with these ridiculous opinions, are supposedly ‘modern’ and forward-thinking in several other ways. It boggles my mind how someone can be all pro-same-sex marriage in America/Canada and celebrating Black History Month in full swing but is so discriminatory against their own race!

I think it is amazing that the Indian race has so many different skin tones within its own people. Instead of functioning as one race though, we are turning against each other and being ridiculous. I’m glad someone like Nina Davluri was chosen as Miss America – she’s definitely not what one would call a ‘traditional’ pick for the Miss India pageant – yet she won in a country that is way more powerful than India. Just a thought.

Having said that, I love my Indian roots. The traditions, customs and values are not what I am criticizing here. I’m expressing my frustration with the skin color thing, the caste system thing, the body type thing – all of these old world prejudices which need to be left behind with our ancestors who didn’t know any better.

This goes for everyone, not just Indians. I don’t even want to get started with all the Miss America hater comments that flooded Twitter and Facebook when she won. Those can’t even be taken seriously because of the sheer ignorance just dripping off those comments. Indians are Arabs? What? Did you ever look at an atlas in your entire life? Indians = Al Qaeda? Good God. Please tell me this bunch of uneducated ignoramus’s do not represent a large percentage of the global population. Because then we’d be in SO much trouble if we were ever attacked by aliens.

 

In Anticipation of Espana

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Barcelona, Spain

I am going on vacation to Spain in exactly one week. Being a travel junkie (who has yet to actually travel), you can imagine my incredible urge to start bouncing off every wall I can find and keep bouncing until I first plant my feet on Spanish soil. I mean oh my God. It is going to be absolutely epic. If you know me, you know how much I’ve dreamt of seeing everything from the legendary Taj Mahal (yes, I am in fact of Indian origin and have yet to see this thing – for shame!) to the breathtaking Amazonian Rainforest. This will be my very first legitimate vacation to another country for the purposes of sight-seeing, relaxing, partying, and essentially, leaving all my American/Canadian troubles behind. I say legitimate because of the following reasons:

1. India trips don’t count as ‘legit’. Going to India means visiting relatives, attending weddings, eating, and shopping. I haven’t been outside of Mumbai or Pune, and being constantly asked when I’m planning to get married is definitely not my idea of partying, relaxing or leaving any of my troubles behind.

2. The Germany trip had potential but it was for a graduate school course for 12 days, all of which consisted of us waking up at the crack of dawn and visiting various public health-related sites in Cologne. So no, not a legit vacay either.

3. Stopovers on the way to India? Also not considered a vacation. Even if the layover was in Italy. Unfortunately the only Italian I experienced there was the overpriced super-brands like D&G which I momentarily glimpsed through my peripheral vision as I raced through the airport to catch my flight to Mumbai.

So you can imagine my elation.

The plan is to hit up Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Brunol, Ibiza and Seville. I won’t go into the details – I want to save that for my posts after I return – but let’s just say I’m going in with high expectations and a pretty low budget. Best way to travel right?!

Also, interestingly, I happened to come across this awesome outfitter company (which I’m sure all of you already know about because I swear, sometimes I really live under a rock) called ‘gadventures’. For those of you who are clueless like me, it’s this cool adventure/vacation travel company that organizes trips of all kinds for groups from all over the world. You’ve got everything from adventure expeditions to relaxing vacations to anything in between. All their trips are graded so you can match your own activity level to theirs and ensure you choose something appropriate. I’d heard of things like this from Lonely Planet and National Geographic, but this is the first one I’ve found that seems affordable. And who doesn’t love a good deal? So yea, that’s my two cent description which probably didn’t explain too much so just go visit the website:  http://www.gadventures.com/

My point is, this upcoming Spain trip will officially pop my travel cherry, after which I am SO doing one of these vacations starting next year! If I like it, I’ll continue. If not, hey, at least I won’t be left wondering. My lifelong dream of visiting Peru and the surrounding Amazon can FINALLY come true! And after that who knows what could follow? African safari? Pyramids of Egypt? Great Barrier Reef? Eiffel Tower? The possibilities just got ENDLESS my loves.

 

This Too Shall Pass

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This Too Shall Pass (Rainy Days Playlist)

I woke up this morning with this much-quoted proverb in my head. This is normal by the way – I often wake up with a song, a memory, a random saying, an insane urge to do laundry or clean, etc. – on most days. “This too shall pass” is one of those sayings you’ve definitely seen on Facebook statuses, tattoos, and in bathroom stalls, and my first feeling when I see it is always of hope. I am suddenly glad I decided to pee in that particular bathroom stall in that particular movie theater because apparently ‘this is a sign’ that whatever crazy drama I am currently going through in my life will also apparently, pass. But there are two sides to that coin.

[Before I proceed to make my point, I want to go off on a slight tangent and insert a memory here]

Lucy: He’s had a REALLY BIG crush on you forever, don’t you like him even a little?
12-yr old me: No.
Lucy: Are you sure? I won’t tell anyone, I can keep a secret, pinky promise!
12-yr old me (after thinking for a moment): I think he’s nice, but I don’t like him in ‘that’ way.
Lucy: But you think he’s nice?
12-yr old me: Yea I guess.
Lucy: So you like him as a friend?
12-yr old me: Yea I guess you could say that. Yup.
Lucy: Okay, your secret’s safe with me!

Suffice to say, the next day the entire school was talking about how I had a crush on this boy who’d had a crush on me forever and my life basically came crashing down all around my awkward pre-teen self. I remember trying to fake a tummy ache to get out of school but it didn’t work. As I walked down the hall past all the pointing and the whispers (yes, I was basically Emma Stone from Easy A), I just wanted to melt into the ground and disappear. At that moment this was the BIGGEST problem in my world, and I couldn’t fathom an existence without that problem. I think that would have been a good time for someone to let me know that ‘this too shall pass’. But I don’t think it was really a trending quote in 2000. :/ The lesson here is that whatever ‘big’ problem you currently have going on in your life right now will probably fade away with time and be replaced by another ‘big’ problem in your never-ending drama of a life. Just saying. Perspective, people.

[Okay, crazy tangent flashback ranting complete]

So as I was saying. The funny thing is, I don’t know if we realize that there are actually two sides to this coin. I didn’t either, until I Wikipedia’d the quote and discovered it’s a proverb created by Persian Sufi poets, that forces us to accept that all things, positive or negative, are temporary. Bad things will pass, but so will good things. So don’t fret too much over the bad stuff because it is bound to pass sooner or later, but don’t be an idiot either and broadcast to the world that you just got the best job ever, or a promotion, or won the lottery or whatever. Because it’s all Leprechaun’s gold in the end. New jobs get old real quick, promotions are taken for granted once you get used to the daily grind, and lottery money WILL be used up at some point. That’s basically the message.

In the end it’s kind of up to you how you choose the view it. The eternal optimist dreamer in me refuses to accept that it applies to anything other than bad situations which in time will leave. Others of you are stone cold realists who probably don’t bother celebrating tiny victories because you keep expecting them to go away. I propose using it the way it was originally intended to be used: to make a sad man happy and a happy man sad. (If you’re interested in knowing more about the origins…Wikipedia it!)

Gross National Happiness

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I recently watched a BBC news report on Bhutan, one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world with a GDP of a whopping $110 USD a month. Yet, the country is ranked #1 in ‘happiness’ in all of Asia, and #8 in the world. It is also the only country in the world that measures its people’s well-being by looking at Gross National Happiness (GNH) instead of GDP. Interesting. So you’re telling me I don’t need lots of money to be happy?

Plastic bags are banned, tobacco is pretty much illegal, it is mandatory to wear the national dress during working hours, employers are required to hire an equal proportion of men and women in their workplaces, education and healthcare are free, and the country runs a 100% on renewable energy and is considering going 100% organic as well. Oh, and my personal favorite: the calmest, road-rage-crazies-free ‘rush hour traffic’ you’ve ever seen!

Imagine if even a third of these practices were adopted by the western world. A smoke-free existence (and a reduction in associated diseases)? Gender equality in the workplace? Free healthcare (in the U.S.) and no student loans bogging us down? I don’t know about you, but even this much of change sounds phenomenal to me. I mean, the country has something called the Palace of Great Bliss, for heaven’s sake!

I’m not saying we should live like hermits, cut off from the outside world and culture. I do think that part of the Bhutanese culture, like wearing the national dress to work everyday, would drive me a little bit mental. But we can surely take steps to make simple changes such as banning plastic bags and tobacco, right? Maybe work harder towards free healthcare and education for future generations? Because honestly? It looks to me like this extremely underdeveloped, poor, isolated, ‘backward’ country is leaps and bounds ahead of us when it comes to living happily with oneself and one’s environment. Here we are, crying about lung cancer and depleting fossil fuels and deforestation and a lack of sufficient health insurance coverage and pollution and all these other issues, but we look down on the very countries that got it right a very long time ago and are living blissfully. Countries that are still heavily forested because their government regulates the amount and types of industries allowed and in doing so, limits the pollution people have to live with.

They may not have Google, NASA or Hollywood, but they sure as hell have that key to happiness we’ve spent our lives searching for.

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Soulful eyes

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I am watching my neighbor’s pitbull mix ‘Cordelia’ for a couple of hours this morning. She looks menacing but is the sweetest dog I’ve met. She has the most gentle demeanor and she has these eyes. Oh those eyes. Her owner likes to say that she has ‘eyes that look into your soul’. You have to see it to believe it, but she really does. I’ll have staring contests with her and feel like I’m falling into an abyss of boundless, unconditional love.
Cordelia was a rescue. She had all sorts of behavioral issues, including seperation anxiety (apparently my neighbor had to leave the door open when he showered so she wouldn’t flip out – he would then open his shower curtain and get a mini heart attack because she’d be standing there, creepily staring at him with those soulful eyes).
It is my personal theory that these rescue dogs, especially the ones that have been previously mistreated, tend to possess this ardent wisdom that other dogs do not. They are not like humans in that they lose that unconditional love only a dog can give you, but they have a deep, dark place in their hearts where they keep those horrifying memories from the past. Unfortunately, certain life triggers will still bring up these memories – Cordelia is still petrified of long sticks – but then the moment passes and they ooze affection again.
But man, this pup is something else. She has random human personality traits that just blow my mind. If she loves you, she’ll kiss both your eyes, your forehead, and then lay her head on your shoulder (imagine this when you’re sitting down on a couch). She will also give you her paw (randomly, not on command), because she wants to ‘hold hands’ with you. I just spent an hour ‘holding her hand’ and spooning in bed with her. No exaggeration! If she wants to go out to do her business, she won’t bark or run around the house or whimper, she’ll put her head on your lap and just stare at you until you get up and take her out. And if you ever make the mistake of getting into a staring contest with her, you’ll lose. She’ll just sit there, staring into your soul, searching the deep dark places in your heart, giving you this look that says “It’s okay, tell Mama everything. Tell Mama, and she will make it all go away.”

Sholay: My Two Cents

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Last weekend, I finally got around to watching ‘Sholay‘ the cult classic and one of Hindi cinema‘s most famous movies ever. (Apparently it ran in theaters for five consecutive years upon release?) Watching the movie not only renewed my respect for the industry’s older films (which in my opinion were SO much better than the masala stuff we see these days), but it also allowed me to finally make the connection between several random Hindi expressions that I have always heard but never been able to understand or figure out where they came from.

For example, “Arey oh Samba!” was something I heard lots during my childhood but I thought people were actually saying “Arey oh Sambar!” which just made me think of south Indian food. :/

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Itna sanaata kyun hai bhai?” – this one I learned from my Tampa friends. It is also when I learned what ‘sannaata’ means.

Kutte kaminey, mein tera khoon pee jaoonga!” – I guess in Hollywood, this line would make Dharmendra a vampire?

The “kitne aadmi thay?” scene was a little anti-climatic for me because I was expecting it to be much longer with more of an emphasis on one of the most famous dialogues in Hindi cinema history.

Veeru (Dharmendra)’s scene on top of the water tower was my absolute FAVORITE. I completely understand why this particular scene has been quoted so much in the industry. Dharmendra is HILARIOUS. I laughed till my sides hurt! Hands down, my favorite part is when he goes “…chakki peesing and peesing and peesing…”

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Gabbar Singh was less scary than I had anticipated. I felt that his villianousness (yes I know that’s not a word) was not particularly disturbing. His deeds definitely were, and he was a good actor, but somehow I’m more afraid of Kancha from Agneepath. There were times when I actually got a little bit of a feminine vibe from him.

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Basanti (Hema Malini) was a magnificent character, and a fantastic addition to the whole  plot. She was hilarious, cute, and beautiful. Her acting was phenomenal. You rarely see acting like this anymore. Yes we have the Vidya Balan movies like ‘Kahaani’ or Rani Mukherjee movies like ‘Black’, where you do get to see some quality performances, but if you look at the comedies of our day and age and compare it to those from the past, there really is no contest. It just feels like the writers spent a substantial amount of time writing good, witty scripts, and actresses worked hard to perfect their acting back in the day, whereas today, we get recycled dialogues with mindless humor and actresses that just flaunt their assets but can’t act (or dance) worth a dime.

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Jai (Amitabh Bachachan) was a treat to watch. Not only because his acting was flawless,  but also because I got to watch him during his prime. He is still a wonderful actor today, but I thoroughly enjoyed seeing him act youthful and naive in this much younger role. I didn’t care too much for his death at the end to be honest – it should have at least been Gabbar Singh that shot him point blank instead of a stray bullet resulting in his death – but I guess I can make my peace with it.

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Jaya Bachachan’s character was also very pivotal and interesting in the plot. Yes, she is shown as the widow of Thakur’s son which is sad in itself, but she is also Jai’s love interest, an aspect that makes you sympathize with her even more, especially when she ends up losing Jai too.

About Thakur, I won’t say much. Just that he acted admirably and that his big angry eyes were really creepy. I also found it a little hard to believe that he had no arms under there because you could almost see them in a bunch of scenes, but I won’t be too picky about that. It was, after all, a pretty old movie. Good acting though. Great, in fact.

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Overall, an awesome movie, and completely deserving of cult status. Now I can finally understand all of the references made to Sholay and actually be in the loop! For example, the scene in Jhoom Barabar Jhoom where Abhishek Bachchan and Bobby Deol are sitting in Booby’s scooter with Bobby driving and Abhishek in the sidecar – that alludes to the “Yeh Dosti Hum Nahi Chodenge” song from Sholay! And the whole dialogue between Abhishek and John in Dostana about whether or not Gabbar was gay? And that scene in Hum Aapke Hain Kaun where Anupam Kher stands on top of a chair with a bottle of water and re-enacts Veeru’s ‘drunk water tower scene’? So awesome!

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I know I’m probably the last person on earth to watch/review this movie, but I’m glad I finally got around to doing it. Three hours well spent.

Ten Lessons Learnt from Bollywood Movies

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I believe I can safely make the assumption that if you happen to be born to Indian parents, you have at least HEARD of Bollywood. Anyone who knows anything about me knows I love Bollywood (or Hindi cinema, for those of you thinking I meant to type Hollywood and lost my mind for a second). Drama (more like melodrama), colorful costumes, endless dance numbers, awesome soundtracks (at times), the fact that several of the movies do not even require you to bring your brain with you to the theater….My absolute favorite part though? Their uncanny ability to teach us important life lessons which really encourage us to reflect internally. For instance..

1. Andaaz Apna Apna

AndaazApnaApna Being a bum, living off our parents’ hard-earned money, and striving to achieve your life-long dream of marrying rich by conning a billionaire’s daughter is the key to living happily ever after.

2. Yes Boss

yesboss_630 Always respect your boss and do exactly as he says, even if it means pretending to be married to the girl you love so that he can fool his wife into thinking there is nothing going on between him and…the girl you love.

3. Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge

ddlj1 In the event that you miss your train on a month-long trip across Europe, it is completely safe to proceed to complete the rest of the journey with a strange Indian man who insists on calling you ‘Señorita’, gets you drunk, and pretends you slept with him as a joke.

Also, if the girl of your dreams is getting married to someone else, it is only natural that you follow her to Punjab, save her fiancé’s life so he becomes best friends with you and invites you to be on the ‘groom’s side’, win everyone over with your charming ways while you have a secret affair with the aforementioned girl of your dreams, and then make a sad puppy face when everyone finds out and gets mad at you for ruining the wedding. Then, to prove your love, there HAS to be a fight in which you repeatedly get your butt kicked by a gang of angry Punjabi men (I mean, there’s really no getting out of this one alive) UNTIL someone punches your father! At this point all bets are off and you become the Hulk, throwing everyone off you and punching and kicking butt like a boss UNTIL you almost punch the girl of your dreams’ scary father! All bets are off again, and you make a huge show of barely controlling your rage, redeeming yourself in the eyes of the scary father and convincing him to let his little girl run free (after counting to a thousand Mississippi’s first so that she has to sprint behind the departing train in her 50 pound lehenga) and be with the man of her dreams.

4. Kuch Kuch Hota Hai 

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It is in fact quite easy to dribble, do layups, and shoot perfect 3-pointers in a saree but God forbid if the wind happens to whip your “pallu” off your shoulder, it is time to call it a day.

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Also, always be prepared with a stellar backup song and dance number complete with synchronized backup dancers, balloons and confetti in the event that your college dance team flakes on you at the last minute. Be sure to add the college principal and everyone’s favorite teacher to the mix to cinch first place.

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5. Dil To Pagal Hai

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If your best friend tells you he loves you and asks that you only wait at the gate if you love him back and you don’t in fact, love him back, it is only logical that you stand frozen at the gate contemplating your next move so that when he does turn, you’ve pretty much signed your certificate of marriage. It is also advisable to then proceed to fall in love with someone else (who is kind of doing the same thing to his best friend), you know, just to make things more interesting for everyone.

6. Devdas

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Smacking a pearl necklace against your girlfriend’s head, hanging out with courtesans, and then drinking yourself to death is really the only way one should deal with heartbreak. All those other things like saying you’re sorry and standing up to your family for her aren’t as effective.

7. Sholay

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A highly effective way to get your girlfriend’s un-consenting folks to agree to her marriage to your hoodlum, jobless, criminal self is to get super wasted, climb to the top of the highest tower in the village, and drunkenly threaten to commit suicide while yelling out your love story for all the world to hear.

8. Dil Hain Ke Manta Nahi

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If your rich daddy won’t give you what you want, your next course of action should be to run away from home (with no money), dance around with fisherfolk in an attempt to lose your father’s henchmen in the crowd, board a bus by yourself to a far away destination, get idiotically robbed on the way, take the help of a complete stranger, which includes spending a night with him in a random hotel room, and then calling daddy to come take you home when the going gets tough.

9. 3 Idiots

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No matter how much the college principal hates you for your past transgressions (including hitting on his daughter, mocking him, and getting into loads of other trouble), everything is forgotten and forgiven if you deliver his other daughter’s baby. Oh, also, an engineering degree and a sturdy ping pong table is all you need to deliver a baby.

10. Hum Aapke Hain Kaun

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Always get the dog to do your dirty work. Need to steal some shoes? Umpire the family cricket game in favor of your team? Tell your recently widowed brother-in-law whom you now have to marry that you really love his brother? Use the pooch. His cuteness will overshadow the severity of the situation at hand and then everybody wins!

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Five Reasons Why Prince George Alexander Louis is One Lucky Baby

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1. He was already world famous by the time he took his first breath.

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2. He had his first nappy changed by a real live prince.

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3. HE is a real live prince, and probably a future king of a powerful first world nation.

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3. He will never have a shortage of baby pictures (or any other age pictures for that matter).

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4. He is already responsible for setting several fashion trends and jump-starting the British economy.

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5. He is probably the youngest human to have a worldwide fan following. 

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There’s no doubt about it: this is one lucky kid. Fame, fortune, the promise of being king … all of this just for being born a royal. That’s a pretty sweet deal right? Right?! I can almost see you shaking your head at that statement. Yea, the poor child will have to learn to field the paparazzi pretty quickly, always act appropriately in case a camera is spying, keep his personal affairs strictly under wraps, stay away from Prince Harry-like naked hotel room stunts, eat right, smile right, poop right, wave right, and basically live for his people. It will be interesting to see this little prince handle the media in his own way. Will he be a natural, like his mother? Or will he be a victim, like his late paternal grandmother? I guess only time will tell.