The fear behind…

fear-girl-in-bottle

“It’s not what we don’t know that gets us in trouble; it’s what we know for sure that’s just not true.” –Mark Twain

Voldemort was a great wizard. He did terrible things but great, like Ollivanders once said. Then why hunt down a mere baby? Why give him so much importance? His fear of death.

Many epics, tales and history is based on this tyrannical beast – FEAR. Trace Hitler’s motives, Aurangazeb’s actions. Behind the greatest war in the history of mankind of which the longest poem was written – the Mahabharata, lies the fear of a coward who unfortunately also wanted a lot of attention – Duryodhana.

Scratch that surface of power, greed and tyranny and you’ll find the actual mastermind behind these terrible actions – fear.a

Fear is a terrible catalyst. Mixed with great ability and a dash of greed it has created history in the form of war and rampage. But fear is not the property of the powerful alone. It permeates everywhere.

In the minds of mediocrity it creates the basis for many lives – excuses. Look carefully. Behind the veil of anger and busy talk and the ‘I don’t care’ lies a deep seated fear. Fear of failure, fear of responsibility, fear of uncertainty, fear of change, fear of making mistakes and even fear of success itself.

Fear is a creation of the ego. If you examine any one of your fears, you will see that it refers to a future possibility, not a current reality. Fear is almost always tied to a negative idea about something in the future that has not happened and probably will not happen. It is the emotion that is generated by thinking about some dreaded possibility in the future.

Fear traps and locks us away within our comfort zone. Yet fear often develops as a result of a lack of understanding, information, resources, experience or perspective. If you lack all these things, you will naturally lack confidence, and as a result you will fail to take the action necessary to achieve your goals and objectives. Consequently you will tend to make excuses about your life and circumstances in order to help boost your self-esteem. However, all you’re doing is creating the illusion of security. You’re simply masking the pain by taking a pain killer. The pain is still there, and will continue to persist until you finally overcome your fears.

We must become tone deaf to egos whispers of fear and its unreasonable demands of power, control and safety. Fears have great power when they’re inside your head. They grow and mutate into giant trolls. But by being aware of them, you can bring them outside where they no longer have control over you.

Movies – Healthy escapement or perverted pleasure?

It was one of those evenings last weekend when I was actually free and burning to enjoy a few hours watching a movie. I had even imagined the cheese popcorn and cola slush that I’d order. So there I was dragging my husband along to a multiplex for options. I had to choose between two movies I had no plan of watching. One was a social drama involving girl-trafficking and another was about a tornado.

We decided on the tornado and my popcorn. It was much later after the movie ended that I kept thinking about the choice I had made.

As humans we talk of being good, kind, and yet the movies we watch are horror with murder, rape, vampires and even dystopian sleaze both from this planet and the outer galaxy. More importantly, my nagging discontent on my choice of movie was, why I chose to watch one form of death to the other. What makes us watch horror, adventure and sci fi?

Maybe we feel sitting in that cozy seat we are safe from the happenings of the story. We seek the thrill like a roller coaster ride because we are confident that the seatbelt is safe and the ride will end shortly with the hero whom our subconscious mind has identified with, wins ultimately.

So I wonder, are movies a healthy escapement from stress? Is it our own perverted way of unleashing the badass in us? Seeking a thrill that in real life is frightening but in a theatre is safe?

And still my original question of why a killing by tornado was preferable to killing by man? Maybe because to me tornado is a fantasy, living in a place where it’s occurrence is unheard of. On the other hand the evils of human trafficking are real and the fear may lurk long after the movie ends.  In a movie where the tornado is the villain, the human race becomes the hero and we feel good about ourselves, but in a social drama the villains are part of our society and it becomes difficult to accept the hard truth of our species in graphic detail. So maybe it was escapement after all.

 

Coming Home

Chennai Rains

The dousing squall greeted me with soft sweet drops on my face and a churning sludge around me feet, spoiling my slippers. I quickly hurried to the car park. Rain, sludge or bog, this was home. The smell of the city is always the first thing I notice stepping out of the Chennai airport. I revel in my olfactory trail trying to separate individual scents – the various trees, shrubs and flowers, the humid air, exhaust fumes and a unique scent of civilization; of having lived on this part of the Earth for more than 2000 yrs. A taxi was waiting for me. After dumping my belongings, two massive suitcases and folding myself into its frayed seat, smelling of diesel we set off. “Shall I turn on the AC?” the cabby asked “No. I like the city air” said I. We sped on towards dawn, through my city that was still asleep. The soft rain created a gauzy curtain and blurred out the details but I saw through my mind’s eye, memories of this busy city that would spring to life in a few hours. A rush to work, school, and college mixed with the shouts of vendors, kirana stores and little temples at every street corner. As we came towards my street corner, I knew my mother would be waiting, filter kaapi freshly brewed, smiling from the balcony. An act so simple yet so profound in its permanence. Do I love my city for the journey it is or for the destination – my mother’s smile?

Changing shades of heroes and villains in Disneyworld

Heroes are all the same. Tall, handsome, brave and in love with the lead lady. In a Disney movie, it is even more so. To me they have always been the most boring characters in a story. They are all cast from the same mold and sickeningly nice.

The villains, now they are the meat of the movie. From Cinderella’s stepmom, Captain Hook, Voldemort, the wicked witch of sleeping beauty the variety, breath and range that a villain can have is truly amazing. So expecting to see some serious badass, I eagerly got the tickets to Angelina Jolie starrer Disney’s most iconic villain – Maleficent.

NOTE: SPOILERS AHEAD

The trailer and the hoardings were scary enough. But I was in for a surprise and how! Maleficent was just a name. She was so benign in the movie. The movie, adapted from sleeping beauty tells the tale from the wicked witch’s point of view this time around. I guess it would be logical to expect arrogance, attitude and some scheming plots resulting in gruesome climax with the Prince slaying of the protagonist. The movie confused my simple concepts of hero and villain.

The Prince was not the true love, Maleficent was not really cruel and happily ever after did not lead to marriage.

But wait! This is not the first time Disney has changed the logic this way. The last three movies of the Prince-Princess genre has this different ending.

The change may have begun with the orange haired impulsive Merida who defies the necessity of a Prince for her to lead a happy life in the movie Brave. It was a movie on girl empowerment and a tribute to mother daughter relationship though with some distaff twists.

Later came the magnificent Frozen – a movie where again the stereotyped Prince did not thaw the ice but the sister’s true love.

Now we have maleficent – a witch who cursed in rage and slowly over years becomes attached to the baby, whom she incidentally calls beasty. And finally it’s her maternal tears and kiss that brings sleeping beauty out of the spell.

I am not sure what upsets me more. Maleficent not having a good villain or the Disney has stopped believing in regular true love stories.

I think this opinion is in continuation with my previous post on changing faces of the female protagonists in YA fiction. This maybe yet another facet. Women do not need the love, affection and approval of a man, not even if he’s a Prince and not even in a Disney movie.

As a lover of all things fiction, I have ambiguous feelings – my hero and villain are greyer now than black or white but as a marketing enthusiast I wonder what will companies like De Beers do now? Will we now have diamonds for sisters and mothers as the only way to say we love them?

My favorite ladies

I was 19 when I first fell in love with the dramatic Scarlett O Hara. Later that year I was inspired and awed by Dagny Taggart, who has tried her best to turn at least few of my nerves to steel. But they were not the first.

The complex and often prim characters of Elizebeth Bennet, Jane Eyre and Emma have grown up with me replacing my childhood friends, George (Famous Five) and Nancy Drew. Of course for a period of eight months I completely lived in Malory Towers every daydreaming moment.

And then I met an insufferable know-all who later blossomed into a steadfast and brilliant character that held the friendship and the story of Harry Potter – Hermione Granger. Compared to the trying to be individualistic females, Hermione was a breath of new air. She brought about a change in the way not just me but the world looked at a female fiction character that Eowyn, even after killing the witch king of Angmar could not.

Kick ass female protagonists were in!

Recently, Katniss Everdeen, withstanding her emotion related (or lack of) waffling still stole my heart. Anyone who could shoot like her should be given King Arthur’s sword as a prize.

Today every book I read has a female hero. Tris Prior was truly dauntless. Though ruthless, the girl with the dragon tattoo – Lisbeth Salander was brave.

I miss Tinker and Cinderella and Barbie, but I am more worried on what will happen when Katniss grows up?

Female protagonists in YA novels have become heroes while their counterparts in the adult fiction are still fighting for a bit of space with men. The role of women in trying to reconcile is the most often cast story. I wish we had female Shelock Holmes, Micheal Morreti, captain Jack West Jr.

Will batwoman come to the rescue please?

Wednesday is the new Monday

There is a certain magic in the New Year. How much ever I try to rationalise, it’s just another day, the tingle and excitement of the new doesn’t leave me.

I love everything new. Of course being a woman that’s my birthright. New pens, books, diary,… even now when most of my planning happens either in the haphazard last minute let’s get this done mental kick or on the Google calendar, I still love those stacks of diaries and organisers waiting patiently to make someone’s year a little bit more productive.

But I admit, the planning itself is a nightmare. In my present life form, I’m a writer, teacher, mom, wife, menu planner, laundry manager, a memory chip to remember all family details like what happened to the swimming goggles that my son dropped ‘somewhere’ after his last dip in the pool.

If that were not enough, I was also taught to believe that planning is all about doing things in a stress free manner. By Sunday evening my week is already full with work and my planning only consists of finding time for all the tasks that my various roles deem that I complete with aplomb. By Thursday I am too tired and waiting for the weekend to just sweep me to a corner of my bed for a well deserved snooze.

That was when I decided to begin my week on a Wednesday. It’s the middle of a normal work week you say? Exactly.

By starting my week on a Wednesday, I’ m not blindly answering to the demands of the already begun week, nor am I tired and waiting for the weekend.

I get time to reflect and plan. Look into the things that really matter to me like writing, working on a new idea or maybe just having some ME time. By slotting in what I wanna do this weekend, say prepare for that new topic that I want to take a class in, my family knows mom will be busy from 10 – 12 on Saturday.

I also feel I am able to manage Monday morning better for after all in my planner that is towards the end of the week. Now I am a lot more stress free and am also able to get a lot of things done.

And what’s best, 2014 begins on a Wednesday. Happy New Year!

Collect them all this New Year!

Winter’s set in and even Google is knitting warm gloves….hot coffee, warm food and lovely movies releasing every week. As the year ends, don’t let the red and white make you forget the warm green and fiery orange of the past months.

Now may be the perfect time to reminiscence on all the achievements of this past year, month by lovely month. It can be a promotion, a new job; maybe you built a new house or travelled to a new place. Celebrated your 10th anniversary perhaps? Every enduring relationship, fruitful plan and success is an achievement.

While you are on the month by month mental journey, pause to count the blessings that came your way…. A baby in the family, new friends, even testing times that made you stronger. Of course don’t forget those everyday moments of joy that is really God’s blessing on our lives.

If the room around you has not become warm yet after those fond memories, pick up that phone or mail to say thank you to all those who touched your life this year in the best of ways. Got a not so warm relation with someone? What better time than the new year to wish  and make up?

I can already feel the temperature isn’t so cold anymore. For that I’d like to thank each and every one of you for making this year an amazing one where I learnt a lot, laughed like a child and lived in hope and happiness every day.

Thank you and Have a Very Happy New Year!

May 2014 be your best year yet!