If you can…

… find this book, buy it, read it, look for his fb and twitter and youtube, stalk him online and get inspired by him. And then recommend it and later him, to just about anyone you know.

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Everyone was once a child

I went back in time last Monday when I bought a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, which was a literature text for O-levels during my era. Although I didn’t do the text for my exams, it was a book in which the characters grew with many of us in that generation. There was a Jem, Scout and Dill in many of the people I knew, myself included. I like Atticus. I like the way he is a teacher to his children and I like his approach towards education and knowledge seeking and the manner he distinguishes between those two.

New babe on the block

I bought my first copy of Aquila Asia and I must say I love it to bits. These Indonesians never fail to ‘wow’ me. They are forever upbeat and dynamic just about every other thing, it is hard to imagine them coming from a country so full of disasters, natural or otherwise.

They know exactly when to sieze the moment and make it great..

It’s not something orthodox Muslims would approve though. But I like it nevertheless. It has a soul, I feel.

Of dragons and fires

I had missed out on all of the film festivals this year, even the Iranian Nauruz festival, which I never missed annually whether here or back home in Singapore. I also missed watching some really good musicals like Natrah and Mahathir  and some others at KLPac  which I really wished I had gone to. All these were either due to work deadlines, husband’s work schedule-hence no transport-at-night-for-me-and-he-doesn’t-want-me-to-take-Malaysian-cabs-at-night, aikido trainings, out of town to SG/JKT and whatever else.

So in their place, I bought two dvds of two films which were screened at the some international film festivals somewhere, ‘Street Dance 3D’ – a UK production and The Girl With Dragon Tattoo, based on the book by Stieg Larsson of the same name.

I wrote here once that I have a fetish for a lot of Swedish things and hence, Larsson came into my warm embrace almost naturally. The first book, The Girl With Dragon Tattoo was thrilling and I finished it off in less than a week, considering the translation deadlines, an unexpected trip back to Singapore to see my ill grandmother, my student’s exams and all those other factors. I read it in the toilet, the cabs, while having my meals, while waiting in Qs and while frying tempe for dinner.

The book was engaging and mentally stimulating, so much so I found myself  taking part in the mystery solving of Harriet Vanger’s disappearance. I got hold of the dvd when I was at the last chapter of the book and I inserted the dvd while reading the last concluding line.

The film was no Hollywood film. It was in Swedish and unfortunately, the copy I got had already been dubbed into English. And may I add, bad subtitling.

Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Sander, The Girl With Dragon Tattoo

I like everything about the film, except for the casting of the Blomkvist character. The character in the book depicted him as a charismatic journalist, good-looking lady’s man, suave and all those magnetic factors a protagonist, albeit a boy-next-door one can have. But in the film, they casted Michael Nyqvist, middle aged, heavy on the belly and not even close to being a suave charismatic lady’s hunk, which actually was one of the factors which carried the plot. At the risk of sounding like a bimbo, I was undoubtedly disappointed with this one weak link to otherwise a fantastic film. It was stiff, typical of any European production and it was straight to the point. Colder than German films and not as melodramatic as the French and Spanish films. Swedish film, this being my first time watching one, is as it is. Practical and straight to the point. Something new but refreshing for me.

Now I am onto the sequel, The Girl Who Played With Fire and at the point of writing this down, I am halfway through it. Honestly, I find this one draggy. It’s like having the perfect full course meal in The Girl With Dragon tattoo, only to be served a blah dessert with so many layers of different flavors. The kind where you don’t like it, but you need to finish it so that you know at least what’s in store in the final layer.

I just hope I have enough drive to want to even reach the final layer. Again, at the risk of sounding absurd, while reading the sequel, my mind cannot stop putting in the pot-bellied Michael Nyqvist into the Blomkvist character and that, I find somehow affected the thrill of my current reading.

About Godot…

A couple of days ago, Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Beckett was playing at KLPac. It was said to be one with an interesting twist. I really wished I had caught it but for some reasons, I didn’t.

I studied Waiting for Godot the same year I studied Jane Eyre. I found it to be really absurd…Basically, it’s about 2 characters, Vladimir and Estragon, waiting for someone name Godot, who never appeared nor were they sure of who Godot is. In fact, Godot has been the subject of many interpretations. Some said he is a metaphor, some said he is a real person. Some said that the whole play is a political satire.

The play itself, has been debated on numerous accounts through the decades, with no conclusion on what the play is actually all about. While waiting for Godot, Vladimir and Estragon engaged themselves in a conversation that caused so many misunderstandings between themselves. They quarreled, they laughed, they agreed and disagreed on different subject matters. Basically, both of them were off tangent to each other during the conversation in which they were talking to each other. That’s how absurd I found this play to be.

However, this point now,  I came to realise that there were many Vladimirs and Estragons around and someone like myself is either one of them. To the extend, I am beginning to think that the play is not as complex or absurd as how I used to find them.

Everyone at some point or the other is ‘waiting for Godot’. We don’t know who or what Godot is, but we are waiting for it/him/her to fulfill something in our lives, or to give ourselves reasons to move on or to live. Some Vladimirs/Estragons within us just don’t move on, but continue to ‘wait for Godot’ while as the same time engaging in ‘parallel conversations/relationships’ with those around us, which sometimes don’t make sense at all. We may not be on the same page as them, but because we too, are waiting for our Godot and they are waiting for their Godot, we wait together and coexist side by side, without realizing how absurd the situation, if seen from the outside is.

The Godot in Beckett’s never did turn up for Vladimir and Estragon. But unlike Beckett’s Godot, sometimes mine does. And when it does, I would suddenly snap awake and realise  how absurd my coexistence with ‘Vladimir’ is if I am ‘Estragon’ at that point. Or vice versa…

Plain Jane

It is certainly very different reading Jane Eyre as a college student of 17, dissecting the book for the exams, in oppose to reading it as a 30-something in leisure. But the most stark difference is that, at 17, with the social circle being predominantly just peers around the same age or just slightly older, the feeling of reading this very poignant classic is really the absence of its connection element. Jane , Rochester, St John and all the other characters in it are just, but fictional characters, in which our judgement, dissection, arguments for and upon them would ensure us getting the required grades we would need to pass the exams.

Image taken from here.

But as a 30 something and having had gone through some parts of life, career, travel, marriage etc, reading this awesome classic brought the reading experience to a different dimension altogether. At some parts, I connect with Jane and the feelings she had or situations she had to go through. On other parts, I recognised the Jane in some of the people I’ve met through life. And Rochester! Oh that Rochester… who have not met a man in life quite like Rochester? Self-absorbed, egoistic and yet, with self-esteem issues within him. And that bimbotic Miss Ingram, who was only in for the wealth and the stone cold but good looking St.John, I know one personally in my lifetime.

Earlier today I picked up a Vogue magazine, the US edition which featured Sarah Jessica Parker and all about her life. I read up the whole article, all the 6 pages of it and all her glamorous clothes and shoes and basically, her larger than life lifestyle. Strangely, when I read the article, I felt as though I was reading Jane Eyre when I was 17 and merely studying a fictional character. There was nothing in there about SJP which I could relate to and although she is as real as it she is in flesh, viewing her from my world makes her appear very fictional, unlike Jane.

There is a Jane in everyone that I know. She’s that plain, I reckon.

Losing the plot

I was at the Cine/leisure the other day buying tickets to watch The Last Airbender, which was really crappy and B- grade– when I chanced upon a brochure on which was printed “Ramadan Specials! Two Popcorn Combos for the price of 1” and other Ramadan offers which of course included discounted prices on tickets for watching movies and tempting food discounts.

I find it strange. Firstly, in a country whose constitution states that Islam is the official religion of the majority and that in Ramadan, Muslims are caught and put in jail for eating in public, there are ‘Ramadan specials’ such as these and the numerous ‘Ramadan buffet’ adverts on display — merrily too, as though Ramadan is the month to be merry with eat-all-you-can and what you want’, instead of its true meaning of abstinence, prudence, remembrance and cleansing. That Ramadan is made into an advertising tool to promote the otherwise and allowed openly too, doesn’t it make this country appear paradoxical to outsiders?

Secondly, in the last few Ramadans I have spent here, I have yet to see a general campaign done as aggressively as the ‘Ramadan Buffet/Ramadan Specials’ adverts which promotes the beauty of Ramadan in a ‘non-preachy’ manner e.g talking about the health benefits of fasting and the beauty of giving tithe and what it can do to a society etc, (which we have back home) to explain to the general public on the essence of Ramadan and why it is one of the pillars of the Islamic faith. Why not here?

But then again, there are many other things which I find strange here as well. Like the recent bill to allow teenage school kids to marry, as a measure to ‘solve’ the problem of having babies thrown into the dustbins. Would marrying them off while they are still in school solve the problem of horny teenagers? Would it stop them from copulating at a young age? Will a nation of ‘married Junos’ be raised a decade down the road? Would these school going mums get maternity leave of absence from school for 60 days?

Losing the plot, I reckon.

But anyway, still on the topic of strangeness, I find it strange that I am currently intrigued by the mafia world right now. It all began with the coming of The Girl With Dragon Tattoo into my life, which opens up a whole new world of Swedish Mafia to me, hence adding on to my already consistent Swedish fetish. It’s really very engaging!

Image taken from here.

From Swedish to Japanese mafia, both the husband and I are now currently very, very hooked onto GOKUSEN, this Japanese serial about a high school teacher who is also the 4th generation Yakuza (Japanese Mafia) lord.

Image taken from here.

It’s hilarious, touching, deep, inspirational and laced with many eye candies as well. I have a couple more days to wean myself off all these mafias before Ramadan comes. It would be a tad too unholy to let them distract me, ain’t it?