Thursday, May 19, 2011

A personal tragedy struck us on Sunday. We got a phone call from Dubai that we had lost a friend. To a mental-illness which we knew of, but never suspected it to be life-threatening in this fashion.

Seeing the tragedy of untimely death so closely has made our whole world questionable. The thought of people being transient - especially the ones we love so dearly - is excrutiating. Time starts to feel oddly powerful, a mercenary. The things that we keep ourselves busy seeking turn pointless, silly. Priorities re-stack. I know the grief will probably pass. But the feelings of futility & powerlessness? Maybe even guilt? Do they ever pass?

We are leaving for Dubai tonight to attend the funeral & I can't lose the big pit of emptiness I feel in my stomach at the thought of seeing his surviving family. The wife- my dear strong friend, the son, the mother. How do I empathise with them when I can't even bear the thought of being in their shoes? It haunts me.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

"Shame" By Salman Rushdie

The book has been on my bookshelf for a long time, but hadn't been picked up. It's an old book as well; written a while ago. When I did finally read it though, I absolutely loved it & I am glad I read it when I did. If I had read it 30 years ago (roughly when it was written), it may have seemed excessively pessimistic. But reading it in retrospect, in light of where Pakistan is today, it reads like a crystal ball of a book. A country (and a world) which chose to ignore every warning that the book hoped to give it.

As far as Rushdie & political novels go, I'm not sure I liked it as much as 'Midnight's Children' simply because I'm not sure whether he's got the essence & texture of Pakistan right (I know very little of the Pakistani society), but it is every bit as powerful, hard-hitting, frank and possibly more opionated than 'Midnights Children' was. Rushdie makes an appearance in the book many times as the narrator with his sometimes-strong, sometimes-equivocal views on politics, religion & religious zealots, women, rootlessness, freedom of speech, and the partition, among others. It's such a multi-layered book where the story of two families seeks to explain the story of Pakistan & the story of Pakistan seeks to explain the story of two families.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Shakespeare in the park

Shakespeare in the park was back this year with Macbeth and we had almost-front row seats (some enthusiastic queuing up that was!) in Fort Canning Park. It was my first time watching a Shakespearean play since college (was my second time watching Macbeth actually); and the first time ever watching a play in a park. We had our picnic mats & picnic baskets & beer cans - we had fun.

Adrian Pang as the lead character was outstanding & I am a fan. Having gone in with limited expectations from a Singaporean tv actor; we were completely blown away by this performance. The girl who played Lady Macbeth was not the best of actors; neither did she look the part of the sexy/ devious/ conflicted woman. She probably did her best work in the sleep-walking scene. (Was that harsh? Well, all stage actors - anyone who remembers all those lines & says them on stage without shaking in front of thousands of people - deserves some applause; so I hate being critical of them)

It was a stuffy humid evening & the breeze was being rather coy; so we were not envious of the costumed & leather-jacketed cast members, but they maintained their energy levels inspite of it all. Thank you for a great evening.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Terrible Two's!

We didn't see it coming. We were the smug delusional parents who were in denial. Our cute & calm little K would never be a victim of Tantrumitis; we said. But it came. And it got him.

A plate full of food was thrown on the floor yesterday in a fit of rage. Followed by a refusal to say 'sorry' (and he used to love saying sorry & thank you only a few months ago!).

The power of stamping feet, thumping angry fists in the air & crying Bollywood-style has been fully understood by that tiny brain & there's no turning back now.

Is it time to play the disciplinarians? Man, I hate that part! I suck at giving punishments & sticking to them. My mama-heart gets gooey & melty all too quickly. He has those puppy eyes; so it's not entirely my fault.

It's the first non-fun thing I'm going to have to do as a parent & I'm dreading it!

Road trip to Kuantan

We drove to Kuantan on the eastern coast of Malaysia over the Easter weekend. Malaysia is very diverse and none of the places we've visited so far have been like the other (Kuala Lumpur was the quintessential busy Asian city, Cameron Highlands had the hilly tea plantations & forest areas, Port Dickson had the small 'kampong' appeal & Melaka had a side-serving of history & heritage).Kuantan has the good old blue-beach-white-sand combination which never goes out of style. What surprised us about Kuantan is that its much more urban than we expected & has its share of high rises; highways; western coffee shops & malls (I learnt later its one of the big cities in Malaysia). It's famous for a turtle sanctuary which we never made to because K refused to get off the beach (why poke a monster when he is content) & the spa was more enticing :)

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

It was disturbing

Bin Laden is dead. It should've been a tale of 'good wins over evil' but was not quite. I think it was the image of Americans cheering on the streets that made it ugly. They looked a lot like the jihadis cheering over revenge; thirsting for blood. They were carrying posters of "Osama 0; Obhama 1". There's something savage about a street party when a man gets shot & dies - even when the man is a mass-murderer. Perhaps they were people who lost near & dear ones in 9-11. That would make it more disturbing though.