War 

I’m so amazed by these stories.  It makes me wonder how we are still willing to go to war.  The horror suffered by these young men , some still barely out of their teens, is tragic. I know it’s fiction but it’s based upon actual experiences . If you hear someone talk about war in any glorious romanticized way , bash them over the head with these books. 

I can still feel the claustrophobic atmosphere of those trenches. The gas. The water they had to stand in for hours on end. And knowing they all could be blown up in that hole! 

It took me forever to finish them but I’m glad I did. In fact I had started and stopped reading both books previously and always gave up. It’s not an easy read.

All Quiet on the western front starts out very slowly, so that you’re drawn into these young men’s lives. If you’ve read war books before you’ll recognize all the characters right away. The idealist, the romantic, the one who outwits and finds food, clothes etc,the tragic one and so forth. You know that they can’t possibly have lives after it’s over .The lives they were meant to live is played out in this tragic war. 

Pat Barker ‘s  Regeneration shows you exactly what happens when these men try to go back to civic life. Again the story is tragically the same even though this is from the English side. It deals with the aftermath of life in the trenches. At the time when men were labelled “coward” for suffering PTSD , poet and anti-war protester Siegfried Sassoon and army psychologist W.H.R Rivers bring to life the hellish life in the trenches. 

Both books are vivid retelling of the war. So many millions doomed. So much life wasted. 

Herman  

This delightful gem of a book by Lars Saabye Christensen got me out of my reading funk. I’m a ferocious reader. Just one book after another . But recently I could not read.I picked up this book after trying to read anything for about a month and immediately went to that place that you go to when you open a book and lose yourself in that world.

Herman is an eleven year old boy who starts losing his hair. He’s  just at the cusp of puberty ; when he starts noticing girls , and he’s trying to fit in and he’s starting to see his parents as the real hapless humans that they are. He navigates this with a lancotic sense of humour

Whether it’s his dying grandfather or his horrible teachers at school or the local drunk or the aging beautiful lady or his precious redheaded Ruby. He learns about life , love and pain. He learns he must accept what is happening to him in order for him to grow up.

It’s a beautifully crafted coming of age story with a difference. I promise you won’t forget this boy. And, that’s final. 

this is me…

Spending money…

Relaxing

When somebody imposes their values on me

Feeling that karma

Having that existential crisis again

Morning mantra

My idea of intellectual humour

When somebody recommends fifty shades of grey to me

That man Einstein taught me something I understand

And finally my eulogy

 thirty five 

I turned 35 this week. I was merely going to post about my 35 best books but I thought this is big milestone. So I’m going to reflect on life’s lessons so far.

As l look back I realize that even though my life has not been eventful, I have had opportunities to learn a few truths . I don’t know where I’ll be in ten years but I know that if I’m still alive I’ll still believe in what I’ve written here.

 
Never give up:

There will be times when it all seems like it can’t get any worse, it does.You will become depressed. You will be suicidal. You will become pitiful. You will be ashamed.You won’t be able to look at yourself in the mirror. You will throw yourself a pity party so epic you  won’t want to leave .But you will realize that you’re still  here . You’re ALIVE . Buckle up , dust yourself off and get on with it.Even when it seems that life is too long, life is always too short for you to live in misery .

 

Be  Kind:

“People never remember what you said but they will always remember how you made them feel”-Maya Angelo

I’m always astounded by how people treat each other so terribly . It doesn’t take a lot out of you to be nice . Just be nice.

 

Family:

If you’re lucky enough to have your family around and get along with them , treasure them. You will always need them more than you will ever know

Be Honest:

Especially with yourself. I feel that it’s the best option in the long run . How foolish it feels when you eventually find out the truth  . So do yourself a favour and don’t walk around wearing the emperor’s new clothes and don’t let your friends  walk around wearing them either.

Forgive:

It’s important to let things go. Again life is simply too short . Besides , you are acknowledging your own short comings.

 
Stay in school 

 

Never stop learning. I would hate to think that this is all I will ever know about life. I’m always curious. I’m always learning  .

Keep an open mind:

You’re opinion does not have to be set in stone. You’re allowed to change it, hopefully, for the better

Stay true to yourself :

There will never be another you. Your quirks are yours alone. Nobody can take that from you . Guard them with your whole being. If someone wants you to change , tell them to fuck off . You will  never be enough for them.

Do unto others … 

You know the drill

Love yourself:

Nobody needs love, caring, kindness and understanding more than you do

Friends:

Are most important after family

Sex can be sex: 

One of life’s greatest pleasures can just be that: a pleasure. Just make sure you still respect yourself in the morning.

 
Men lie and you will believe their lies:

And you will believe them so hard. You will know he’s lying sometimes but you will believe him because you love him . You are being very foolish right now, but, you will check yourself and show him the door.

Not everyone will like you :

Just as much as some people can rub you the wrong way, you must know that you too possess this ability . Move on ,they don’t know what they ate missing anyway.

Listen to your elders:

If someone older than you tells you that you don’t have to go through that ,that don’t have to know that ,believe them.Some things are not worth the life lesson.

.

 Forgive me, I’m human 

Learning to forgive is one of life’s greatest lessons. There’s something so wonderfully freeing about letting go of the resentment and anger that had allowed you to hold onto whatever  betrayal was done to you.

 

“I do not have to forgive any of my enemies, I’ve had them all shot”- Ramon Maria Narvaez

 
Forgiving means letting go of the past,knowing that you can never go back. You can’t go back to the BEFORE. Whatever feelings that may have held you there have now been irrevocably changed .

BEFORE : you  could laugh with that person until it hurt . You shared with them everything with wild abandon and thought nothing of it because it was inconceivable that they might betray you.

 

That person has now taught you a bitter lesson about themselves. You can never trust them ever again. You feel foolish and abandoned. The Four Horsemen of the Appocolypse of Betrayal : anger,bitterness, resentment and humiliation have bivouacked in your heart. But worst of all is that there is now a hardening of your soul. You have been robbed . Robbed ! Bamboozled! That cunt had the audacity to call themselves your friend. You seeth with self righteous anger and contempt . You bellow to anyone who will listen that you were their friend! How.Could. They?!! And most of all : WHY?!!

 

 

“We were never meant to be perfect, we were meant to be whole” -Jane Fonda

 
In a perfect world ,one would never have to learn to mistrust a friend, a relative , a teacher ,a parent or lover. But you must remember that you learn the greatest lessons from those around you . Those you allow into your heart will always teach you something . Unfortunately one of those lessons is that they are pretty fucked up.

When you forgive someone you acknowledge that you too are capable of betrayal.When you recognise this ,you acknowledge their humanity. And yours .Nobody is perfect . When someone asks for forgiveness , they are not asking you to forget but ask for your compassion and humility .

Remember you are pretty fucked up too. You might need someone to show you a little compassion too. That should always keep you humble.

A-Draft: Drowning in a sea of drafts

A couple of weeks ago when Emma Watson made her “stirring”, “game changing” , “nope- not really-a-feminist speech” speech at the UN to launch her #HEforSHE campaign, I was inspired! I was feverish with desire to post a piece about Feminism. And I wanted to do it right. I took out my notepad , wrote down what I wanted to say , researched ( re Wikipedia-ed) the shit out of it. I was brimming with ambition and righteousness. After months of being blocked and without having anything worth writing about – I finally had found something ! This was a subject close to my heart and one I whole heartily believed in.

But then…

I just lost the desire to finish it. It just petered out. I felt it leave my body like a cushion slowly running out of air. Fffzzzzttt. Gone. And I was left blinking like a deer caught in the headlights.
I mean I went as far as actually writing it down as a draft and that’s where it has remained now for two weeks.

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit on the typewriter and bleed”

-Ernest Hemmingway

Aaahh… The Draft box.

How I loathe thee.

Skeleton Coast of my dead inspiration and unrealised ambition! How many times have I thought and felt something stirring within and sat down to write and then left it there. Unfinished. Sentences and interrupted thoughts, just waiting to be finished. Mocking me . Doubt , doubt , doubt is all that remains and I quietly close you Draft Box and weep with frustration.

I’ve gone through my Draft box trying to figure out and decifer the mystery of why I cannot finish any of my essays or pieces.

I have come up with the following :
* wanting to write something after I’ve read a piece or article I found profound or moving and trying to write whilst still inspired by it
* doubting my prose or the structure of my piece
*trying to copy somebody else

This I’ve found is the greatest obstacle. It just zaps my creativity. It stops me from thinking clearly and challenging myself and I end up with whatever regurgitated drivel I’ve tried to copy. It’s probably guilt too. I know how hard it is to try and put something out. And I deserve to be blocked when I’m trying to copy somebody else. And those drafts deserve to linger right where they are.

I want to write. Of that there’s no doubt. Its finding my voice that’s the hardest part for me.
I’m probably going to have thousands of drafts and hopefully they will get less and less and I’ll end up with great stuff.

Inspiration where art thou?

Because I really need to write that piece on Feminism.

Lust,Caution

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PLOT : This beautiful film by Ang Lee is set in Japan-occupied China during World War II. It tells the story of shy Wong Chai Chi who joins a drama group at university devoted to patriotic plays. And she is soon swept in a political plot to assassinate the mysterious Japanese collaborator Mr Yee by the charismatic troupe leader Kuang Yu Min. Wong is given the task of seducing Mr Yee. She does this by pretending to be Mrs Mak whose husband is in the import / export business and slowly gaining the trust of Mr Yee’s wife. The plan goes accordingly at first but they are soon forced to commit a horrible crime and are forced to disband and abandon their plan. Wong moves back to Hong Kong and is drifting along when she meets up with Kuang again who tells her it’s not over yet. So Wong goes back to being Mrs Mak and as she is swept along the deadly plot she must hold on to her own identity and pull of her greatest performance and choose between love and loyalty to the cause.

What’s right with it :

* The chemistry between the leads Tang Wei (Wong) and Tony Leung (Mr Yee) is scintillating and they make a great and compelling couple.

*It’s beautifully shot

*Wong’s outfits are to die for.

*The sex/love/lust scenes are very beautiful and erotic and as explicit as they are ; you never feel uncomfortable

What’s wrong with it :

*It’s a bit long , almost 3 hours long. So patience.

*If you don’t like subtitles this is not for you. *Not enough lust

* Er..Please don’t try these sex positions at home. Cosmo -sutra this ain’t

Final thought : I love this movie. Its billed as a thriller/ espionage film but for me it’s a love story. A coming of age of sorts for both of them. They both fall in love and lust for the first time and let themselves be carried away by their feelings even to the final and tragic conclusion. The language is beautiful and lyrical too. I found myself listening to what was said even though I don’t speak or understand a word of Mandarin. Watch it 🙂

Final Final Thought: Should you watch this film with your Mum?

Answer : No