Monday, June 12, 2017

Books - A place where we lose ourselves and find ourselves






It was a hot summer afternoon and my ever energetic toddler wanted me to engage him in some activity. We painted for a while, played with his toys, learnt driving his scooter, his new fixation but still got bored.
Finally, we decided to visit the library for the first time which I have been meaning to take him for a while.
He is two and half now and we already try to read atleast one book a day at home.The first proper book I introduced to my toddler was 'Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo' by Kevin Lewis and Daniel Kirk when he was a year old. He loved the flow of the words and was fascinated by the illustrations. He almost started reading with me after a while and it was his favorite book for a very long time.

Image result for chugga chugga choo choo

So before the first visit to the library,  I warmed him up him to the idea that it is a place where he can find lots of books and he can choose any book he wants and sit and read till the time he wants to read.
He is always an outdoorsy person and hence he was so excited to go to this new place.

The moment we stepped into the library he was so amused by the amount of books they had. He wondered "Amma,who owns all these books and have they read it all?" and gave a loud shriek in excitement.
All heads turned towards us thankfully smiling. Then I told him that he has to maintain silence there as it would disturb others who are already reading. He tried so hard to keep his voice down but it was too hard for him.

He chose three books to read :

1) Spot what, a book he was engrossed in for almost half an hour spotting hidden animals, things, fishes, vehicles and everything he loved. He learnt a lot of new things when he was trying to spot something familiar. I was amazed at how he was able to connect the pair of oars in the book to the movie 'Moana'. He immediatly recogonised it and asked if it was the same thing Moana used to row the boat.

Image result for spot what

2) A book about a giraffe who has low self esteem issues and how he feels important after he is able to help few of his friends with his long neck which he realises is an asset and not something to be ashamed of.

3) A barbie book where the barbie and a friend go visit their friend's place where they get to bake a cake with her aunt. I try to be gender neutral with kids and I was very glad when he chose the Barbie book. We bought two books from Tulika publications which we are yet to read.

Related image
Looking at him relishing his new experience brought back my own memories of reading in my childhood which am sure most of the new moms can relate to. My first book was the supplements we get with the newspapers that adults buy at home which had comics, weekly series and mythology. Then there were amar chitra katha and Tinkle during summer holidays bought by doting grandfathers and grandmothers. The distinct smell of old bound books made out of torn pages from the weekly magazines, that my grandfather was proud to have a collection of, was as sweet as the smell of the first rain. These are my early memories of books. Then my reading choices completely changed when one of my cousins introduced me to the world of Nancy Drew and Hardy boys in  my teens. I visited a proper library only in my high school that too in search of material for the quiz competition I got selected for. The memory of the first day I stepped foot in the library is still etched in my mind. I devoured the books like crazy though it was not a noticeable collection. I remember reading out of snack papers that the street vendors sell and hovering the second hand book shops for some readable material. Then in college I got along with voracious readers and the gate to the heavens of good books opened up. We exchanged books and our local subscription library started taking recommended book names from us. It was a big deal those days because there were no goodreads and wikipedia where you can instantly judge a book before reading. We had to read good ones and the bad ones. The feeling you get when you read a good book after a bad book is priceless. The lessons you learn from reading a book is only a little less than what you get from travelling.

But the reading scene these days are totally different. Children have wide variety of books to choose  from even from the  age of 6 months. Lets reduce the screen time  and let our kids live in their magnificently imagined world for as long as they can and as often as they can.
Also am hoping to share our experiences of new books we read each week with you. 

Note: First published in ekdali.com

Monday, April 10, 2017

Katru Veliyidai - A Tale of abusive love

This is not a review of the movie. This is just my interpretation of the movie.


Kaatru Veliyidai had huge expectations from the Mani Ratnam fans. He is a genius who knows cinema like the back of his hand. He is always ahead of his times. He is a romantic. He is a positive thinker. But he also has the ability to call a spade a spade. 

There are so many views, reviews and heartbreaks of people who cannot understand the movie. Also there a few who said this is intense love, a different kind of love, a girls point of view, complicated love. As usual Maniratnam left things to viewer's interpretation. But beneath all the layers he added to the movie is the truth, his genius. 

This is a relationship between the malignant narcissist and an empath. 

This takes to my own experience of watching his movies like 'Alaipayuthe' and 'Dil Se'. In my teens my interpretation of the movies was that of ideal romance. But as you grow up and you watch the movies again you start realizing the character flaws and understand why the character did what they did or you resent what they did and you see the movie in a totally different light. That is exactly what he does. He just writes stories without justifying anything or anyone. He shows different perspectives of the relationship and lets you make your own interpretations. It's more like recording the facts in the best possible way he can.
Now coming to his latest release to understand what he tries to portray in 'Kaatru veliyidai' we need to first understand who  a narcissist is and who an empath is. It is the most confusing and toxic relationship that can exist. 

To start with ManiRatnam usually says the story of the movie in his first scene, generally when the characters meet for the first time. Here it is an  accident. 

She is a doctor who cares - An empath. He is broken psychologically - a narcissist. She tries to fix him and heal his wounds (ends up doing it all through her life) 

A narcissist

You can read in depth about the characteristics of a narcissist(women too can be a narcissist) and their relationship patterns here and here

I will just give a overview here.

They usually have a abused childhood environment(but all abused children need not grow up to be a narcissist). If it stems from the father abusing the mother, they become over protective about the mother. (Which you can see in the conversation they have in the hospital in the movie)

Main characteristic of a narcissist is the sense of entitlement where they start believing that the person they are in the relationship with is the extension of them. They overstep the boundaries.  In the movie, his entitlement is shown in two scenes where he flashes her off to his friends and the place where he says he will love her even if she does not love him back.

Stages of relationship:

1) Lovebombing:

 They can do things that will make you fall flat on your face for them. In the movie he takes her on a private plane ride, Tangos with her, woos her with video of him singing with his friends, involves her friends(Nidhi played by Rukmani), sends her flowers, recites poems with such passion.

2) Mirroring:

The next stage is mirroring. The love bombing stage makes you believe them and open up to them. They let you talk about your desires, needs and the innermost fears. You believe they get you, understand you. They even say they wanted an exact partner like you. They mirror all the feelings. Only that it is not true and they ll see your opening up as a weakness and start hitting right where it hurts later in the relationship. In the movie, she shares about how her brother wrote about him to her and that she has a crush on him since her school days. How he sees it is that she is naive enough to do that and that she can easily be hooked in the relationship.

3) Projecting:

The next stage is projecting their feelings into the other person because they cannot handle their feelings. If they feel insecure they say you are insecure. If they forget something they say you are forgetful. In the movie, the scene where he says you don't want to talk to me and run away from the problem is actually that where he is the one who wants to run away but blames her instead.

4) Gaslighting:

Gaslighting is when they create their own reality and downright deny yours. Saying things like 'you are imagining things','You are paranoid' etc is ways of gaslighting. The person getting gaslighted gets very confused as to if they really are imagining things when it would have already happened. Here when she confronts him about how he is walking all over her he vehemently denies it.

5) Drama:

Narcissist thrive on drama. Even when there is no problem they love creating problems. In the movie, he gets very intense wherever possible creating drama. He is the one who suggest marriage and he is the one who stands her up.

6) Victim blaming:

They constantly blame you for everything that goes wrong or doesnt go wrong in the relationship. So when she walks off he says you are the one walking away without talking. When confronting her parents he starts blaming them for all the accusations he THINKS they accused him of not giving them a chance to speak.

7) Manipulation and lying:

Their actions will be very different from their words. He wants to marry her immediately but instead ends up standing her up. In the very first plane ride and the date they have instead of telling her how good he feels, he says it's not going to be a good relationship and that he is scared that he is falling for her leaving her even more confused. She panics and doesn't want to let him go and that is why she goes to meet him at his camp. Even when he shouts at her or abuses her, the next day he comes and sings at her doorsteps instead of apologizing for his behavior deflecting the whole issue. When she asks if he wants to keep the baby or not he talks about himself and his feelings and totally ignores her feelings and her wants. Even when he says a girl is different from a guy it is his manipulation to thwart her self esteem.

Bottom-line - they always keep their victims in a confused state so they can never make a clear decision.Read about it here 

Now coming to the empath.

One thing we overlook when we look at the abuse victim is they don't want to believe they are in a abusive relationship until they get really deep in a relationship. They go through the five stages of grief. They have to get to the acceptance stage and get out and objectively see the relationship to make sense of it, even strong and independent woman. You will know why once you watch this video. It's a TED talk of a abuse victim from an Ivy League University.

Study says on an average women go back to their abusive partners atleast 5 times before they get out of the relationship. By the time the damage is already done. They are affected mentally and physically. They are shrouded in self doubt and low self esteem. They need professional help to get out of it. Especially the narcissistic abuse.

 An empath wants to fix things. Anybody  would think if they can explain a point of view or take a stand the other person will understand or will at least say that they don't get the point of view. 

In the movie, the first time he tries to dominate her in the snowstorm, she talks to him saying she doesn't like guys who dominate girls and there is a better way of saying it. He says he is sorry and he understands(mirroring) but he doesn't. She believes him and he keeps doing it in the relationship like a loop. 

This brings us to the climax of the movie. I have to admit even I was let down when walking out of the theater. The director got the narcissistic personality to the dot but he tried to romanticize it and simplify it and justify it. But when I thought deeper I could see why he did what he did. He did not try to justify anything. He is just calling a spade a spade. The character would have done that. She still did not come to terms with the fact that he cannot change and the empath in her believes he would and wants to fix him badly. She still did not come to her acceptance stage. If you look carefully, she actually did not leave him. It was the situation that separated them. She says she is leaving him but he asks for another chance which she might have given if he had returned from that flight.

There is also a cycle of abuse. Read more about it here

Abusers usually come pleading that they changed saying all the right things again(Inba in 'Ayudha Ezhuthu') but goes right back to where it started. The period immediately after getting them back is called honeymoon phase. Even in the movie there is NO confrontation of their real issues just his so called change of heart. If there is one thing we can trust in a narcissist is that they cannot be trusted.

But the movie would have been perfect if the director had left it at the place where the hero says all he wants is just to catch a glimpse of her. Because girls in abusive relationship needs to understand that abuse is NOT love. 

But the real success of the director is making people talk about her bad decision to go back, by actually making her go back. If we put ourselves in that situation in real life am sure almost ninety percent of us will advise the girl to go back to the relationship and put the past behind her as he is a changed man  not even thinking for a second what actually happened between them and what the real issue is. If the ending was any different we would have seen thousand articles by now as to how girls these days are selfish and unforgiving even when guy "steps down" and comes back for her. Not sure if it is intentional or unintentional reverse psychology worked.

He made us think. He made us debate. He made us come to the right conclusion.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

PG – Paradise Gained!

I recently shifted to a house (my long kept wish) from a PG (Paying Guest- A place where you pay a huge sum for a bed and some peanuts and will definitely not be treated as anywhere close to a guest but like a pest)! PG life is something everyone should go through. That was a very good experience for me especially because I was a day scholar in college and I missed out all the fun of hostel life. I was really lucky to get into a PG which was just like a college hostel. Having stayed there for around a year I know the nuances to adjust with total strangers.

All PGs have an unsaid rule. It will have at least two or three girls who comes back late at night (late I mean people is one or two at night), two or three girls who takes at least an hour to shower and more than an hour if they have to wash their hair:-O ( It’s still a mystery what they do inside the bathroom, for girls like me who can’t take more than fifteen minutes how much ever we try.. trust me I do take a proper satisfactory bath… Now perverts stop thinking and move on) and two or three girls who wash their hair daily :-(

But in spite of all the difference we had, it was great to be with the four sharing roosters and the five sharing hoppers (forgot how we ended up naming ourselves like that) Gone are the days where we had to manage the gossips about the girl-next-bed, the long lasting talks till midnight, the marathon of card games ( I still remember when P cut her boyfriend’s call pretending that there is no signal just to beat us in the next round of an ACE game ) , the spooky stories about the unoccupied haunted bungalow next street, the college experiences, boy friend problems, Indian politics and cricket. (Trust me guys.. we do hit such intelligent conversations in the midst of gossips) Oh and how can I forget aliens and the cosmic space behind… Aliens are living among us and it is totally super human to become an achiever like an Elvis Presley or an A R Rahman or as a matter of fact a Steve Jobs or a Bill Gates ;-) and yeah even the technologies we have like wireless and sensors are alien’s contribution to earth, who are living among us, tacitly convincing ourselves that we are not achievers coz we are just human beings.

But in the heart of hearts I wanted to move alone into a house free of all troubles and commotions. Now I am in a place where I wanted to live and the way I wanted to live… But I miss you my roosters and hoppers…

HUM – TUM REVISITED

I was sitting in my office after a three day bash in Chennai, one of the most memorable weekend I ‘ve ever had (Am shelving it for the nonce, as I don’t want to chase people, with my personal experiences, who are already here) . Going to office after this weekend was one of the toughest compromises I had to do. I hardly got up at eight and pulled myself to the shower. I was still hoping something would happen and all the companies will be shut down for a day (at that point I couldn’t care about the compensatory working day) All I wanted was to stick on for another lazy day and ponder over the weekend and relive it again in my dreams (well yeah you got it right! I wanted to catch some sleep very badly…)… But in vain.. I had a quick breakfast (read banana) and rushed to office just to find my inbox pouring with irrelevant issues and tasks for the day. Memories took a back seat and I was back to work. What a blessed day it was! My lead was on leave and I had some time to spare, in contrast to the hectic schedule I had brought over myself in past few days. I started going through the mails I had once received and the ones that I had forwarded when I was a fresher. A time when I was hell-bent and full of enthusiasm to learn new things, to grow up in the career ladder, to make an impression, to readily take up responsibilities and all that you can think of that a very sincere and chirpy person would probably do. Well only one appraisal was needed for the scales to fall off from my eyes, to see the corporate world as it was… Anyways coming to the point I started reading the good ol’ mails and this particular mail which I had hardly skimmed through got my attention…

I just loved it…

Here's a prime example of "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" offered by an English professor from the University
of Phoenix
:

The professor told his class one day: "Today we will experiment with a new form called the tandem story. The process is simple. Each person will pair off with the person sitting to his or her immediate right. As homework tonight, one of you will write the first paragraph of a short
story. You will e-mail your partner that paragraph and send another copy to me. The partner will read the first paragraph and then add another paragraph to the story and send it back, also sending another copy to me. The first person will then add a third paragraph, and so on back-and-forth. Remember to re-read what has been written each time in order to keep the story coherent.
There is to be absolutely NO talking outside of the e-mails and anything you wish to say must be written in the e-mail. The story is over when both agree a conclusion has been reached."
The following was actually turned in by two of his English students:

Rebecca and Gary.


THE STORY


(first paragraph by Rebecca)
At first, Laurie couldn't decide which kind of tea she wanted. The chamomile, which used to be her favorite for lazy evenings at home, now reminded her too much of Carl, who once said, in happier times, that he liked chamomile. But she felt she must now, at all costs, keep her mind off Carl. His possessiveness was suffocating, and if she thought about him too much her asthma started acting up again. So chamomile was out of the question.

(Second paragraph by Gary)


Meanwhile, Advance Sergeant Carl Harris, leader of the attack squadron now in orbit over Skylon 4, had more important things to think about than the neuroses of an air-headed asthmatic bimbo named Laurie with whom he had spent one sweaty night over a year ago. " A.S. Harris to Geostation 17," he said into his transgalactic communicator. "Polar orbit established. No sign of resistance so far..." But before he could sign off a bluish particle beam flashed out of nowhere and blasted a hole through his ship's cargo bay. The jolt from the direct hit sent him flying out of his seat and across the cockpit.

(Rebecca)
He bumped his head and died almost immediately, but not before he felt one last pang of regret for psychically brutalizing the one woman who had ever had feelings for him. Soon afterwards, Earth stopped its pointless hostilities towards the peaceful farmers of Skylon 4. "Congress Passes Law Permanently Abolishing War and Space Travel," Laurie read in her newspaper one morning. The news simultaneously excited her and bored her. She stared out the window, dreaming of her youth, when the days had passed unhurriedly and carefree, with no newspaper to read, no television to distract her from her sense of innocent wonder at all the beautiful things around her. "Why must one lose one's innocence to become a woman?" she pondered wistfully.

(Gary)

Little did she know, but she had less than 10 seconds to live. Thousands of miles above the city, the Anu'udrian mothership launched the first of its lithium fusion missiles. The dim-witted wimpy peaceniks who pushed the Unilateral Aerospace disarmament Treaty through the congress had left Earth a defenseless target for the hostile alien empires who were determined to destroy the human race.Within two hours after the passage of the treaty the Anu'udrian ships were on course for Earth, carrying enough firepower to pulverize the entire planet. With no one to stop them, they swiftly initiated their diabolical plan. The lithium fusion missile entered the atmosphere unimpeded. The President, in his top-secret mobile submarine headquarters on the ocean floor off the coast of Guam, felt the inconceivably massive explosion, which vaporized poor, stupid Laurie.

(Rebecca)

This is absurd. I refuse to continue this mockery of literature. My
writing partner is a violent, chauvinistic
semi-literate adolescent.

(Gary)


Yeah? Well, my writing partner is a self-centered tedious neurotic whose attempts at writing are the literary equivalent of Valium. "Oh,shall
I have chamomile tea? Or shall I have some other sort of F—KING TEA??? Oh no, what am I to do? I'm such an air headed bimbo who reads too many Danielle Steele novels!"

(Rebecca)

A hole.

(Gary)

B_t_h

(Rebecca)

F__K U - YOU NEANDERTHAL!

(Gary)

Go drink some tea wh_r_.


(TEACHER)


*A+ - I really liked this one.*

Lolz.. Whatever said I can’t tolerate emotional men… I go Ewwww…. When I see them.. But not insensitive ones too.. But men who can be practical and witty are definitely my catch ;-)


P.S. Pardon some inappropriate words in the mail. I decided to keep it uncensored to preserve the originality and the feel.

HELLO Bloggies!!!

Bang… Finally I reached the realms of blog-o-sphere! What held me back so long? It should be one of these things. Lack of interest, lack of resources, lack of matter, writer’s block! phew… well whatever! I really think this could be an outlet for my views (like anyone cares ;-)) and thoughts and may be a stress buster too. So welcome all!! Feel free to express yourself in the comments section, whatever it may be…

Books - A place where we lose ourselves and find ourselves

It was a hot summer afternoon and my ever energetic toddler wanted me to engage him in some activity. We painted for a while, played ...