Monthly Archives: February 2009

Say a little prayer

Did I say I couldn’t wait for Lent? I take it back.

No, I don’t.

Last year, for the first time in twelve years, I forgot about Lent. With all the upheaval over packing up my Buffalo apartment and shipping it home, packing and getting everything in order to move to Boston, I literally forgot about Lent until more than a week later. That was how unprepared I was — in body, mind and soul — for the forty days (really forty-six because Sundays during this period don’t count) of strict fasting, abstinence and prayer (or as strict as it could get where I’m concerned).

So this year, I will try to be more diligent in my observance of Lent in order to focus on rebuilding and strengthening my relationship with God, which is still in a state of disrepair, despite my efforts in attending Mass.

I may not always be able to follow the one-meal-a-day-except-on-Sundays rule (entirely my own fault, which I’m still trying to rectify), but I can and will abstain from __________________ for the next forty days. Make no mistake, it’s going to be one hell of a tough journey, but I’m determined to ride this one out somehow.

So as of tomorrow, it’ll be fish and greens and water for me.

Happy Fat Tuesday!

Nothing lasts forever

But while we still have it, we’d damn well better hang on to it

benjamin-button1

That’s the one thing I was reminded of by The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, the story of the man who was born with all the physical and physiological traits of a man well into his eighties and then proceeds to live his life backwards,  growing younger and younger, and eventually passing away as an infant.

We get so caught up with chasing our dreams and doing exactly as we like with our lives that we forget the other people around us, forget that we are not alone, that there are others who still love us, regardless of how flawed we think we are.

Sometimes we take for granted the things and the people we love, forgetting — or rather, choosing to ignore the fact — that time, circumstances, and maybe the consequences of our actions, will take them away. We see the light at the end of the tunnel, but for as long as we know — or think — it’s still there, we turn our backs on it, and in the end, when we decide that it’s time to start going to that end of the tunnel, we realize the light is gone.

So in the spirit of ‘living well’ and ‘not wasting time’, we fail to realize that  by skating over that complicated, consuming, destructive, but extraordinary part of life they call love, we have wasted something more — much more — than just time itself.

“For what it’s worth, it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit… start whenever you want… you can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that stop you. I hope you feel things that you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life that you’re proud of and if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”Benjamin Button, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button

From rags to Rajah

– Slumdog Millionaire

slumdog-millionaire

Last night I braved my aversion to 1-Utama to watch Slumdog Millionaire, the movie that, for those who don’t already know, has been sweeping the top awards at the Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and BAFTA Awards, and is currently up for a Best Picture Academy Award. I first heard about it a couple of months ago when my mother’s friend Janetty (really Jeanette) said that it was all the rage in India and was even making its mark in the U.S. And after watching it last night, I could see why.

What I love about this movie is that it shows the world what Bollywood, and certainly most politicians, are so careful to conceal: that beneath the glamorous veneer, and the extravagant and ostentatious displays of wealth, there are millions of people who live hand-to-mouth in crushing, unimaginable poverty on the outskirts of the major urban areas of India, who have come to think nothing of washing themselves and their clothes in polluted water, and scrounging for food in garbage dumps. Even sadder is the cruel business the crime lords run of herding orphaned, abandoned children and training them to beg, blinding and crippling them to increase their income if necessary. If people haven’t already learnt to realize that there is more to life than money, the heartbreaking reality of this movie would have done it for them.

On the flipside, the movie also shows the kind of hope these people have: hope that one day, they will find a way out of their meager lives and build new ones. Whether or not they really resort to fighting for a chance to participate in Kaun Banega Crorepati, the fact that a simple, but deceptively wizened young chai-wala from the slums of Dharavi can get as far as winning two crores (twenty million) gives the people hope, that even if they win only one hazaar (thousand) or one lakh (hundred thousand), they at least took that step.

Props to the directors and producers for not casting any of the big Bollywood stars, who were deemed ‘too refined’ and ‘too good-looking’, in the lead roles, as that would have gone against the whole show-the-real-India angle. And even though Dev Patel did a good job portraying the deadpan Jamal Malik, I think the biggest credit should go to the child actors who played the younger versions of the lead characters. They were what made the harshness of life in the slums more real and more present than ever.

Hope. It eludes us all, choosing not to show itself until we least expect it. And contrary to what some might think, it should not be any other way.