Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Children of Heaven

I watched 'Children of Heaven' (1997) last night on Star Movies, and was truely blown away by its true simplicity, its very 'real' look at the society and its somewhat ironical ways. Its a simple movie, about simple people in simple surroundings without anything extraordinary happening. Throughout the 90 mins i kept expecting some drama - but there was none, and i guess That is the Beauty of this film. The film is based in Iran, directed and scripted by Majid Majidi. This film even won a nomination in the Oscars in 1998 in the category of "Best Foreign Film", only to lose to a stiff competition put up by "Life is Beautiful".

Children of Heaven is a beautiful tale which describes the relationship between an impoverished brother and sister, Ali and Zahra, and their loving relationship which at times appears very mature, with their hard-working, yet very loving parents. They are thrust into a difficult circumstance when Ali mistakingly looses her sister, Zahra's pink sandals, which he had taken to the cobbler to get fixed. They choose to solve their problem themselves, without telling their parents. Ali has a solution. She goes to school in the morning; he attends in the afternoon. They can share a pair of sneakers. Once her day is done, she can rush home and give the sneakers to him. But that is impossible since time is very little for the exchange. At school, Ali discovers a possible solution to the shoe dilemma. Third place in a foot race is a pair of new sneakers (first and second prize are more lucrative, but Ali has no interest in them). All Ali has to do is beat out several hundred children and lose to only two, and his sister will be happy. The last half hour of the movie is truely moving, where Ali tries very hard to stay 3rd but ends up coming 1st, by mistake and feels pathetic, since all he wanted was the new sneakers.

This film is a far cry from the typical 'children's film' made by Hollywood, depicting children in very out-of-the-world, unreal scenerios - to keep the imagination running wild. Children of Heaven is a tender, moving tale of compassion, determination and deep family love - all seen through the eyes of children. Another thing that i liked about the film is that the children - all of age 9 and 7 are so mature when it comes to family and its conditions. They have certain calmness yet some innocence about their actions. Another contrast depiction in the film is when Ali and his father go to Tehran city to look for a day gardner job to earn extra money for the family. They take this ride on a cycle. You can see the sheer ironical connection between the actors and the surroundings - the cycle with its passengers dripping with sweat and yet having that strenght to continue to look for a job, and on the other hand, the large palatial bunglows with security, rude owners and dogs mocking the child and his father. Yet when one family with a lonely kid calls them in coz the kid wants to play with Ali, there is a certian understanding that you can see between the father and son. There are no loud dialogues or music to convey that Ali should play with the child while the father does the work and Ali knows his limits of not wanting the expensive toys of the kid. I could almost feel myself choking up. It was courageous, innocent, powerful and at the same time very sincere.

The movie not only pulls a certain string in your heart, but it also depicts a very powerful contrast between sections of the society, that exists across borders. There is nothing 'epic' about the movie or its narratives, but sometimes an inconsequential and intimate story can provide a satisfying emotional payoff. Yet, at some level i feel -- is it so 'real' that the children are loosing their childhood in today's world of 'wants and desires' and ending up shouldering responsibilities and achieving that mindset at such a young age?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Heavenly Chikmagalur - Part II

(....Cont. from Part I of Chikmagalur weekend....)
So..Where were we? aaaah..the blissful, almost perfect night of bonfire and food...aaaaha! alright..so after a beautiful and blissful evening, we woke up the next morning to clouds at our doorsteps and drizzling rain. It still felt PERFECT and we looked forward to getting drenched and seeing the surrounding areas of Chikmagalur. But not before we had a hearty breakfast. First we had 2 cups each of piping hot Coffee, which, of course, was made from freshly roasted and grounded coffee beans from the plantation in the Homestay. I must admit, it was a taste that i have never tasted before. Pure Nirvana...
Even though putting that cuppa of coffee away was a difficult choice, we made it and got ready to have a mouth-watering breakfast, which we could smell 500 mtrs away! yummm...We had a palate of varieties - Upma (so different from the way we eat in Bangalore), Omlette, Sweet Bread, Boiled Eggs, More Coffee and Juice. Having filled up our stomachs, we were on our way out. We had planned (as mentioned in part I- the print-outs of information taken by S...) to drive to Kemmanagundi and Kalahatti Falls and if time permits - Hebbe Falls. All of this was about 25 kms away.
It was still drizzling very lightly and there was a nip in the air when we bundled up in our car and left. The road was winding and beautiful and the clouds gave us company throughout the way. It was quite mystical, if i may say so. It was supposed to take us 2 hours to reach there, keeping in mind the road conditions. But the views and the little exciting stops on the way made it a 3 hours drive...yet it was all worth it. I am gonna let the next 4 pics speak for themselves, when i say that what we experienced on our way to Kemmanagundi was 'The Real' beauty, the sight that i have not seen before in any of my travels....it was an 'experience par excellence'.

After such fantabulous sights, we reached Kemmanagundi, which is called a 'hill station' in itself. The guard takes 5 bucks a person and lets us in. We parked our car much before we reached the entrance coz we saw a number of other vehicles parked there. Kemmanagundi, in itself is a mixed bag of tourist places and attractions - Rose Garden, Rock Garden, a cafeteria, a waterfall and the most wonderful sight -- the Z point, which is reached after trekking 20 minutes and you can see the entire valley from up there. We were charged and ready to walk the first 3 kms (which can be covered by car) and then the next 2 kms which is the climb to the Z point. Not interested in seeing the various gardens and parks, we focussed on reaching the Z point.

It had stopped drizzling and things were clearing up. After covering about 2.5 kms of the stretch, filled with un-jumpable red-faced potholes and uneven terrain, we came to a spot from where we could see the sky, the valley, the Z point and the near-by Shanthi Falls. It was breathtakingly gorgeous. The sun was peeping out of the stubborn clouds and it created a mist which we coudn't take our eyes off.

And then we heard a 'shriek' -- aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa..... we turned around and saw R - white-faced, staring at her shoes and her dark pair of tight fitted jeans. We knew what was coming!!! Errrr....did i warn you..? i dont think so..

Well, lets rewind, a day before we left for Chikmagalur, i went to my office colleague who had been there a week back and asked him for tips etc. The first thing he said was, "Tanu, there are millions of Leeches in that area, be very very careful, carry Salt, Deo and wear very tight clothes so they dont crawl in..." and so we were ready with Salt and Deo." Coming back to our present scenerio, hearing R scream, we ran to her. We had just crossed a very difficult puddle, which had turned my olive green sport shoes to RED! :S. R was standing at the edge of the waters and pointing to her shoes, which had about 5 leeches crawling up. We calmly took out Salt and sprinkled over her shoes and the bloody Leechs fell off.. phew!...oh no, wait, we didnt check our shoes and jeans....panic struck us and we frantically looked all around our clothings. We found a dozen more leeches on us and thanked R for announcing this, or else we would have reached the Z point with leeches stuck to our skins! yuck!...

Unfortunately, the Leeches spoilt our party and downed our spirits...ad we turned around and left,with our shoes looking white with Salt. S was very upset, since he was most enthu about going to that place. We made promises that we will come in a gypsy the next time and go all the way to the Z point. Coming back, we changed in the car. A couple of guides standing around told us that its raining crazy at Kalahatti and Hebbe and the roads are inaccessible. We cursed the weather, which we were loving sometime back and made our way back to the plains...and home....

We reached Bangalore by 8:30 pm and sat in the candle light with chinese food (thanks to the bangalore #$#% power cuts), recollecting our thoughts about the gorgeous, most memorable and extremely breathtaking weekend we just had!..despite the leeches spoiling our fun towards the end, the weekend was all worth it, coz as i read on 'Discovery Travel & Living' once..."its not the destination but the journey that makes it all worthwhile" ....sigh!so true... wish we have many more such 'breaks' to follow...it was truely a 'Heavenly Weekend Getaway'..... :)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

If there is place on Earth that I can call Heaven - It Is Here...Right Here....in Chikmagalur!!

I have travelled quite a bit, so much so that I like to call myself a Travel Buff. And i have seen beautiful, raw places across India. But I was still awed by the pure 'Natural n Raw' surroundings of Chikmagalur. Friday morning - thought to self ".....i need to get outta here..." Friday day, i dont think i worked much but ended up making plans to leave for Chikmagalur the next morning. We were ready with a place to stay, a car to drive and most importantly - Good Company. So it was sort of a family trip - Soubhagya, my SIL(R), her BF(S) and yours truely. Since R works night shifts, we packed up and left home in our very own Alto at 5 AM and picked her up straight from work --- off to the beautiful world of mountains and nature. We had it all planned, complete with print-outs of the route, place to stay, places to see etc etc., in folders (courtesy S). I was mighty impressed. We were outta Bangalore in an hour and on our way to Chikmagalur. The route, very roughly is Tumkur Road-NH-48-Hassan-Chikmagalur.(http://www.indiacar.com/infobank/drivingdest/drv_july04/page2.htm... for a detailed route break-up) The highway ride was quite scenic due to the rains and made our drive pleasurable. We reached chikmagalur by 12 noon, eagerly wanting to reach our homestay and eat home-made yummmm food. The place we booked was APTLY named - NATURE NIRVANA. It is about 1.5 hours away from Chikmagalur town. Now, the issue was, we did not preempt the 'extremely non-drivable rocky red road' that lay ahead of us. The first 1 and 1/2 hours were pretty ok, with the tar road broken in several places, making it quite bumpy for the passengers at the back. Then started a stretch of the last 7 kms - which, hold your breaths - took 2 hours to cover!!! It actually increased our appetite, due to immense 'movin n shakin'. I recall Soubhagya cribbing all the way about how "his Baby" was getting hurt. Sigh! this was a reference to the Car!!

But when we reached Nature Nirvana, it was a sight...a place...a destination beyond imagination. Opens up suddenly through mountains and trees, this small valley with a house, a stream, a waterfall, a lake and miles of coffee plantations. We had booked a 12-bedded dorm for the 4 of us, and realized it was sooo much better than the tiny cottages which were more like rooms in a house. Quickly dumping luggage in the room, we almost jogged to the lunch area and devoured the delicious mutton curry, chicken, sambhar, rasam, rice and curd rice. It was a hearty meal and having stuffed ourselves, we felt guilty enough to start playing ALL the outdoor games available -- basketball, cricket, badminton, volleyball and cycling. The guilt of the calories, riding high earlier, slowly slowed down and nearly died. :)

Having overcome the afternoon laziness by playing our hearts out, we packed a backpack and put on our sport shoes and left to explore the property on our own. what we encountered was not only 'Heavenly', but also 'Fantastically Serene' and away from the world's prying eyes. There was a gushing, almost gurgling mountain stream which suddenly burst out into a Cascading Waterfall. It was so picturesque that one wanted to just sit and listen to the sound of water and wilderness! After several unsuccessful attempts by the 'brave' men to cross the gushing stream using slippery stepping stones, we moved to the waterfalls and the coffee plantations. Since we were on our own, we made up our own explanations for everything and continued. :)

By the time we returned, we were tired, yet decided to play some more basketball. R turned out to be the 'Basketball Queen' and kicked almost everyone's ass!

It was night time, and it started drizzling due to the passing clouds. It was perfect timing for 'bhajia' and chai..which we sort of finished in 10 mins. After the rain kinda stopped, we asked the caretaker to put a bonfire and barbeque for us. (we really didnt care what the other guest wanted... hehe) we had the cottage to ourselves. The caretaker (who was amazingly courteous)..got us Tandoori Chicken, Barbequed Chicken, More Bhajia..and of course....BEER!!!! :D.. we started playing Uno and Cards and spent our time by the fire with the barbequed meat and beer...it was ALMOST PERFECT!
(to be contd., with Day 2 events....of the Getaway)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lesson to Self - Dont listen to Machines..EVER!

:D:D....this is one well learnt lesson..never to listen to machines..! and i sort of like it this way...thanks Bubbasamuel!

Damn the Calories...Damn the Kgs....

grrrr....so i am seething with anger..and could probably knock someone down...i mean what do 'they*' want? How much more will 'they*' make a woman suffer?When can i be happy?What is the definition of IDEAL? phew...tanu to self [calm urself down]..so, let me ask you - what is the ideal weight? what is the so called 'ideal' BMI? what is the 'ideal' fat body index..blah blah blah!....where do we stop? where do we say..."yeah this is great..i feel i am HOT!"... its like a never ending battle and women are mostly caught in the bang middle of it...i dont see men bothered - most of them - about their growing waist size or increasing "hip to waist ratio" blah blah blah.....?? why..god...why us???? phew..again.. I am just a victim..after loosing, almost battling, with 10 extra kgs...i get myself to something "lookable"...and now the "BMI Report" tells me to loose another 10 kgs for the "ideal" weight! aaaarrrrggghh......again..where do they stop? damn the calories..damn the kgs..i wish there was a 'saw' close by...

*they = referred to nobody in particular

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My first steps....

Hiya... so i have taken the plunge...finally! after 2.5 years of telling myself, "tanu create a blog..create a blog..", i have finally done so! and to be honest, i feel good about it. The main reason for me to do this was -- to channelize my energy from 'talking endlessly' about things to 'writing' things down. err..not really...i just like to write and talk at the same time! :) So you will see this very personal yet extremely open space as the discussion board for - movies, music, books, life, work, bitching, reviews.... and so on..basically, as i said in my opening statements.. "nothing preachy or serious"..just somethings that affect me positively or otherwise.This is just the first post so i dont want to start rambling rite now, so keep a look out for something interesting coming rite up in a day...that is my office doesnt decide to pile me up with work.. :)
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