It’s been some time since I cared to make my ominous presence felt. Sorry, the cold makes my teeth clatter and I begin to ramble incoherently when that happens. But the time has been spent introspecting as well as retrospecting, costing me some disturbed sleep intertwined with moments of peaceful, deep contemplation. It is in these fleeting moments, when the mind stops whirring like an air conditioner, that perspective pays you a long overdue visit.
To know more about Ronnie, visit http://thehipporules.blogspot.in/2012/08/meet-ronnie.html
Many of our lives are spent chasing elusive rainbows and scaling the wrong peaks. We seem to find joy in having surmounted a peak, only to realize we are standing atop an active volcano. It’s as if we are ensconced in a train on a dark stormy night, fast asleep, only to be occasionally awakened by a stroke of lighting.
Occasionally, we pause to think what the heck we’re doing. We can even hear voices that say stuff like ‘taking care of your health?’ or ‘enjoying work’? We can count the number of times we gave an honest answer to a question like ‘how was your day’? Here’s our typical response – ‘that’s an important question but let me just finish retweeting, then checking out this album on facebook and meeting this deadline. Then I’ll get down to it, you have my word on that.’
Of late, I’ve been paying attention to the obituary section in the papers and am haunted by the faces of young people, who have no business to be in that section. One day, we’ll all fill in the obituary section, no matter how our lives turn out.
A blog I chanced upon recently put a lot of things into perspective. Linds Redding, an advertising professional, was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and started a blog to recount his experiences with the disease. His frank, wry manner of entailing his struggle is the hallmark of his writing. In one of his posts, he questions if all his sacrifices were worth it and with the frankness that only impending death can bring, he says – ‘So was it worth it? Well of course not. It turns out it was just advertising. There was no higher calling.’
Makes me wonder if one needs inoperable cancer and the numbing effects of chemotherapy and radiation to see clearly. Musician Warren Zevon simplified it for us. When no given a few months to live after being diagnosed with cancer, he was asked by David Letterman what the diagnosis had taught him. He simply said – ‘enjoy every sandwich.’
Here's my two-and-a-half cents on perspective: Perspective is like a credit card bill, it eventually catches up with you, one way or the other. Even if you don't find it, it will find you. Even if you run away from it, get plastic surgery and change your name, perspective will outsmart all your maneuvers and nail you down. But this topic us too big to elaborate on for a simple skull like me. To help you come to your own conclusion, I've chosen my pick of writings and videos that speak on this topic. Read on. And I wish you a lot of perspective in the coming year.
A Life’s Lesson – Peggy Noonan
A Life’s Lesson – Peggy Noonan
An obituary written on the death of legendary television journalist Tim Russert, Peggy Noonan espouses what society defines as success in this beautifully written piece.
‘In a way, the world is a great liar. It shows you it worships and admires money, but at the end of the day it doesn't. It says it adores fame and celebrity, but it doesn't, not really. The world admires, and wants to hold on to, and not lose, goodness. It admires virtue. At the end it gives its greatest tributes to generosity, honesty, courage, mercy, talents well used, talents that, brought into the world, make it better. That's what it really admires. That's what we talk about in eulogies, because that's what's important. We don't say, "The thing about Joe was he was rich." We say, if we can, "The thing about Joe was he took care of people."
Read the full piece here http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121390975307189781.html
A Short lesson in perspective – Linds Redding
The one that resonated the most. Diagnosed with cancer, Linds looks at his condition in a self-depreciating, humorous manner, without negating the gravity of his condition.
‘But what I didn’t do, with the benefit of perspective, is anything of any lasting importance. At least creatively speaking. Economically I probably helped shift some merchandise. Enhanced a few companies bottom lines. Helped make one or two wealthy men a bit wealthier than they already were.’
Read more here //www.lindsredding.com/2012/03/11/a-overdue-lesson-in-perspective/
The Opposite of Loneliness – Marina Keegan
22 year old Marina Keegan wrote this essay just before passing out of Yale. On the face of it, it seems like a well written piece by an aspiring writer. Until you realize that she died a week later in a car accident.
“But let us get one thing straight: the best years of our lives are not behind us. They’re part of us and they are set for repetition as we grow up and move to New York and away from New York and wish we did or didn’t live in New York. I plan on having parties when I’m 30. I plan on having fun when I’m old. Any notion of THE BEST years comes from clichéd “should haves…” “if I’d…” “wish I’d…”
Read the essay here http://yaledailynews.com/crosscampus/2012/05/27/keegan-the-opposite-of-loneliness/
Dialogue with Death
Author: Eknath Easwaran
Based on Nachiketa’s exchange with Lord Yama which forms the basis for the Katha Upanishad, spiritual author Eknath Easwaran draws from all his learnings on how to find more meaning from our lives. Surprisingly, it makes for easy and valuable reading, even for a rationalist.
'If we could live for a thousand years, there would be no urgency in this lesson. We could devote a good seventy years to making money, and when this failed to bring us happiness, we would still have plenty of time. But the tragedy is we have very little time to make this discovery.'
Author: Eugene ‘O Kelly
Chief Executive of KPMG, Eugene O' Kelly led a busier life than most. Until he was told he had 3 months to live. With a no-nonsense approach, he entails his life post his diagnosis in a very matter of fact manner. One very telling passage in the book is when he asks his daughter, who was wearing a very pretty dress, why she didn’t wear the dress more often. She reserved it for special occasions she said. To which he replied she should create more special occasions in her life to wear the dress.
"His eyes told me I would die soon. It was late spring. I had seen my last autumn in New York."
1. Neil Parischa - The 3 A's of Awesome
2. Ric Elias: 3 things I learned when my plane crashed
3. Randy Pausch: How to really achieve your childhood dreams
And to the less serious part – I know what Ronnie did - a roundup of what Ronnie was up to in the past few months
Cutting for Stone
Author: Abraham Verghese
Cutting for Stone traces the journey of twins – Marion and Shiva who are born out of an unlikely unison between a nun and a doctor. When the mother dies after giving birth and their father abandons them, they are bought up by adopted parents. The book traces their journey to adulthood and the covers entire gamut of any family’s travails – anger, redemption, forgiveness, jealousy and hope. Gripping for most part, at some point it starts to read like a Bollywood script. This is a danger most Indian writer’s have to always guard against. In all, readable, but best borrowed and returned.
Ronnie’s rating: 3/5
Mornings in Jenin
Author: Susan Abulhawa
Mornings in Jenin is set in the background of the Israel- Palestine conflict. The Abulheja family leads a simple life in the village of Ein Hod. Their lives are torn apart torn apart by a Zionist invasion of their village. Forced to take shelter in a refugee camp in Jenin, their lives are irrevocably altered. The book is stark testimony to the horrors of war, the never ending Israel Palestine conflict, identity in the time of conflict and rebuilding life when everything seems lost.
In the same vein, please do read both of Khaled Hossini’s books – The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid suns. Be warned, all 3 book will give your otherwise dormant tear glands a real test.
Mornings in Jenin: 4/5
The Kite runner: 4/5
A Thousand Splendid Suns: 4.5/5
One flew over the cuckoo’s nest
Author: Ken Keysey
There are books. And there are masterpieces. It took much willpower to refrain from watching the movie before ploughing through the book. One flew over the cuckoo's nest is told through the eyes of Chief Bromden, a patient in who fakes being deaf and mute but is aware of all the goings on in the sanitorium. Along comes Randle Mcmurphy (Jack Nicholson won an Oscar for this role in the movie), who is hell bent on driving everyone up the wall with his antics and refusal to comply with the system. The acutes (people with the hope of recovery) and the chronics (the ones with no hope of recovery) form an interesting support cast. Dark, comical and ultimately gutting, this is book to buy and never lend to anyone.
Ronnie’s rating: 4.5/5
Have been watching a a lot of sport documentaries. Here’s a pick of the best:
There is no aspect of Ayrton Senna’s life that has not been scrutinized. But this documentary is not like one of those one hour specials we have seen on channels. Directed by Asif Kapadia, the documentary shows the different facets of Senna – ruthless competitor, doting uncle, philanthropist and a driver who cared deeply about the sport itself. In the weeks preceding his death, Ayrton Senna was fiercely advocating for enhanced safety regulations in Formula one. Unfortunately, it was his untimely and shocking death in Imola that was the ultimate wake up call for the F1 body. It is interesting to note that F1 has not seen a fatality since Senna's untimely demise.
Ronnie rating: 4.5/5
Fire in Babylon
The West Indies showed a glimpse of their past in the 2012 t20 world cup. But long before they lost the plot and lost their way, they were the reigning kings of cricket. The late 70s, the 80s and the early 90s was all about the West Indian team establishing their supremacy led by the great Clive Lloyd. Andy Roberts, Michael Holding and Colin Croft made for one of the most fearsome bowling lineups of all time and the West Indies team did not lose a single test series from 1980 to 1995. Watch to see cricket in its purest form being played by some of the game’s best exponents.
Ronnie’s rating: 4/5
Beyond the mat
Remember those WWF dudes who went by the most ludicrous names like Undertaker, Macho man, Bret the hitman heart, Jake the Snake Roberts, Triple h and so on and so forth? Beyond the Mat goes behind the scenes of the wrestling ring and gives you a different view of the World Wrestling Federation. The WWF maybe make believe, but the lives and struggles of its stars aren't.
Ronnie’s rating: 3.5/5
Engaeyum Eppodhum (tamil)
With an underlying message of road safety, two parallel love stories form the crux of this movie. Amudha falls in love with Gautam, a stranger who acts as a guide when her designated guide fails to show up. Kathiresan, a mechanic is secretly in love with Manimegalai, his neighbor. As their romance blooms, Gautam and Amudha realize they love each other and decide to find each other. The explosive climax changes everything.
Ronnie’s rating: 3.5/5
Kannathil Mutthamital (tamil)
One of Mani Ratnam's best movies, Kannathil Mutthamital is set in the backdrop of the LTTE struggle. The protagonist, Amudha, is a feisty young girl who has the love and affection of a doting family. Unknown to her, she was born to LTTE sympathizers and was given up for adoption by her mother. She is told of her identity on her 9th birthday and this throws the entire family’s life off course as she struggles to reconcile with her identity. Madhavan and Simran play their roles to perfection as the parents. Nandita Das plays the role of the biological mother of the child. P.S. Keerthana plays Amudha and won a national award for her performance.
Ronnie’s rating: 5/5
Vanity Bag (kannada)
Director: N Mangala
The play showcases the different aspects and facets of a woman’s life. Alternating between humor and poignancy, this is a very different theatrical experience.
Ronnie’s rating: 4/5
The Afterlife of Birds
Director: Abhishek Majumdar
Two unconnected tales with the undercurrent of war set the stage for the afterlife of birds. Niromi , presumed to be an LTTE comrade, is set to be released from prison 17 years after she attempted to blow herself in a Republic Day parade. And there is Rashid, a flautist in the Republic Day parade band, whose son wants to blow himself up in Rajpath on Republic Day. Fittingly, the entire play is set on January 25th.
Ronnie's rating: 3.5/5
Earworms (new section)
A selection of songs that have been playing on loop
Nenjukulle - Kadal
Elay Keecha - Kadal
A meeting by the river - Ry Cooder and Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt
Stan - Eminem
Katyaayani - Bombay Jayasree and Ustad Rashid Khan (coke studio India)
David Gray - You’re the world to me
Pyaasi - Swarathma and Shubha Mudgal
Dreamgirl - Dave Matthews Band
Mark Knopfler- Sailing to Philadelphia
Zoe Viccaji and Asif Hussain Samraat - Senraan Ra Baariya
Vatapi Ganapthim - Yesudas
Till next time, keep the perspective