The Wedding: Day -9

Uncategorized

Growing up, I could never really imagine myself getting married. Going for weddings was always fun. I have two big sisters, who got married while I was still a teenager – fun times!

Fast forward to 2016 when I’m getting married. And I can say with no shred of doubt – it is a drag. From the clothing trials to the shopping to the invitations to the invitation cards to the faaaaack. Of course, I could’ve had a small function with a few friends and nothing too fancy but I was sucked into this black hole through the vice called shopping. I think I have sworn off shopping for a lifetime, now. Yeah, weddings can do that to you.

I’m off for a make up trial now where they try to make me look nothing like I am. My nephews are turning the house upside down and one of them has been bugging me to play Monopoly with him for a week. But I’m too busy to even do that. What a cool aunt.

Ciao.

Guess Who Dances in The Changing Room Now?

Randomn, Uncategorized

They’re broke and they’re window-shopping. He tries these T-shirts on, they pretend to not like them. “Naaaaah.”

He asks, “Do you dance when you try on new clothes?”

She laughs. Says, “No, I don’t think so.”

#RandomAccidentalMemory.

8 Books that Helped Me Get Over Reader’s Block in 2015

Books, Review

You were a ‘voracious reader’ (ugh, such a cliche) during school and even college. But as adulthood butted in, and entertainment was easier, even cheaper, to ingest in the form of Faceook posts, videos, and tweets, you’ve lost the ability to do the one thing you always loved: Reading real books.

It’s not that you hate reading suddenly, of course you read. There are plenty of good articles online, you read them, you share them, even write about them. But good, thick books with the book-smell that you love so much? They somehow keep getting stacked on the shelf.

Nothing holds your fancy for longer than a half hour. You want to read, you wonder how you read so much in school, “Thank God Harry Potter didn’t get published now or I would’ve missed it, too.” The internet has successfully reduced your attention span into less than half of what it was. You open a book but you’re also Whatsapping, then you’re checking your Twitter feed and by that time it’s time for sleep. And as an adult, you can never fight the bedtime coz you’re dead tired.

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Grocery shopping is the bane of my life.

Well, this was me. In 2015, thanks to Popsugar, I finally got my shit together and got the right set of books that helped me get over my Reader’s Block. I had only one rule: If a book doesn’t capture your attention, burn it and move on to the next one. (Ok, not burn but you get my point)

These are my 2015 favourites – some of them are movies, too. You could try out the movies first and then check the books out, if you’re into that sorta thing.

1. Gone Girl

Time taken: 11hrs, 54 mins over 10 sessions

One word: Twisted

A few minutes before entering the theatre to watch Gone Girl, my beloved Nexus fell out of a moving bus and broke its screen, and thus my heart. I walked into the theatre almost crying, contemplating the brokedom I’d be going through that month. But 10 minutes into this movie, I forgot all about it and somehow felt better – at least I was better off than Nick Dunne.

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This movie, adapted from the book of the same name, is the story of a fairytale marriage gone wrong. And boy, is it twisted. The wife, Amy, is not a character that you can just shrug off. To put it in the simplest of words, Amy is a crazy psychopath, and her husband Nick is a complex, yet naive (?) man. I have read a few books, and seen a few more movies than books, but never ran into a duo with such bizarre chemistry (I don’t even know what word works here)

After going through the Gone Girl experience (the book and the movie), you sit and ponder whether Amy Dunne’s portrayal was feminist or misogynistic. I have come to understand that it’s feminist, especially because she’s the most complex female character to come out of Hollywood.

My favourite part in the book is where Amy talks about the running ‘Cool Girl’ phenomenon: When the girl always does guy things (like drink beer, watch games, belch) and she’s Cool Girl. But in patriarchy, Cool Girl does not have a guy version.

“I waited – patiently – for the pendulum to swing the other way, for men to start reading Jane Austen, learn how to knit, pretend to love Cosmos, organise scrapbook parties, and make out with each other while we leer. And then we’d say, Yeah he’s a Cool Guy”

2. The Fault in Our Stars

Time Taken: 3hrs, 32 mins over 12 sessions

One word: Sad.
To think that this really happens every other day in this world. The love story was nice, eventhough I found it too young-lovey for my taste. Maybe the characters were a little too pretentious for teenagers, too. But the book wasn’t half bad.

the fault in our stars_I cry when people die. And even more when their loved ones mourn them. So I cried reading this book, too. Maybe there is a capital S-something, Gus. I just don’t know it yet.
Part of me thought that the book would end abruptly mid-sentence, but thank goodness, it didnt.

“And then there are books like An Imperial Affliction, which you can’t tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like a betrayal”

Thanks, IR, for lending the book.

3. Clumsy

Time taken: 52 mins over 3 sessions

One word: Honest.

If you still cannot bring yourself to read a book, perhaps you must try graphic novels. This book is an autobiographical novel about the author’s relationship. And it is written/drawn with such honesty,  that you almost cringe at the daily-life awkwardness.

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Thanks A, for the recommendation.

4. How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big

Time taken: 5hrs, 14 mins over 26 sessions

Two words: Funny and inspirational.
If you haven’t been living under a rock, you might have come across the Dilbert comics at some point in your life.

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Scott Adams is the creator of Dilbert, and he makes so much sense.
I had given up on self-help books a long time back – I’ve felt that too much inspiration is a bad thing and you only need to read one of those in a lifetime.

This year, I borrowed this book from my office library. I found him so funny and practical that I’m definitely buying a copy of this for myself to make notes, highlighting and re-re-read. Scott Adams’ take on success starts with a chapter with a humongous list of all his failures. He goes on to give advice on almost everything in life – even fitness tips! He seems to understand human (at least mine) psychology rather well, and not just because I identify with corporate mice.

“The most important form of selfishness involves spending time on your fitness, eating right, pursuing your career, and still spending quality time with your family and friends.”

5. The Girl on the Train

Time taken: 5hrs, 1 min over 14 sessions

One word: Unputdownable.

This book is so engrossing that I finished it in less than a day.
the-girl-on-the-trainIt is written from the point of view of Rachel, a woman who struggles to put her life together as she battles alcoholism, a failed marriage and every other problem that side-effects this combination. She walks into a missing persons investigation and realises that she knows something, but can’t remember what.

In pop-culture, this book has been compared to Gone Girl for its twistedness, and I think the same way, too. The genius of this book is that there are only a handful of characters whose lives are interlinked. And the author still manages to keep the suspense throughout.

I think I’m so unexposed that I automatically like books more when they have female protagonists. Insights, anyone?

“I have never understood how people can blithely disregard the damage they do by following their hearts. Who was it who said that following your heart is a good thing? It is pure egotism, a selfishness to conquer all.”

Thanks NPM, for letting me read your copy even before you did.

6. Persepolis

Time taken: 2hrs, 10mins over 3 sessions

One word: Heart warming.

This book is another autobiographical graphic novel, and it was adapted into a movie by the same name in 2007. It was nominated for the Best Animated Feature, and is my favourite movie of all time. The story follows Marjane Satrapi (the author) as a little girl against the backdrop of the rising Islamic fundamentalism in Iran the 70s.

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The story is a soul-stirring take on her metamorphosis as she moves from Iran to France, and eventually back to Iran. Here’s my favourite part – some advice that Marjane’s grandmother gives her:

Listen. I don’t like to preach, but here’s some advice. You’ll meet a lot of jerks in life. If they hurt you, remember it’s because they’re stupid. Don’t react to their cruelty. There’s nothing worse than bitterness and revenge. Keep your dignity and be true to yourself.

7. The Illicit Happiness of Other People

Time taken: 5 hrs, 15 mins over 15 sessions

One word: Heart-breaking.

Manu Joseph writes in extreme detail, weaving dark humour into a gigantic loom of sadness. The story follows Ousep Chacko on his quest to find out why his son, Unni Chacko ‘did what he did’. His wife, Mariyamma often talks to inanimate objects and their younger son, Thoma, tries hard to cope with his dysfunctional family.

the illicit happinessThe family lives in Madras in the 80’s, in a colony of families that are constantly judging each other and gossiping to have some respite from their otherwise miserable lives. Their main topic of gossip has now become Ousep Chacko and his family after Unni ‘does what he does’.

I might have a crush on Unni Chacko, I feel sorry for his family, I want to protect Thoma from the sadness, and I’m definitely reading this book again. More than the suspense about Unni Chacko, it is the tiny pieces of wisdom that makes me want to frame some of Manu Joseph’s quotes.

 

It is a misfortune to be in the presence of a writer, even a failed writer, to be seen by him, be his passing study and remain in his corrupt memory. It is like the insult of a corpse on the road by a war photographer.

Thank you M, for picking out a dirt cheap hardbound copy of this book for me.

8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Time taken: 3 hrs, 41 mins over 20 sessions

One word: Beautiful.

The story is told by Charlie, a 15-year old freshman, in a series of letters to his ‘friend’. Charlie is not a popular kid, he is a wallflower – he observes things from a distance. He also suffers from social anxiety at times, which made it quite unreal for me to read the story from his point of view. He is quite the odd one out in school but manages to make friends with two seniors – Sam and Patrick.

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As Charlie makes new friends, he struggles to understand people and relationships. He doesn’t understand why his sister seems to have developed a new-found respect for her boyfriend, whom she always picked on for the smallest things, after he hit her. “I guess he stood up to his bully. And I guess that makes sense,” Charlie says.

The weird part was that I remember watching this movie and feeling happy and hopeful – it even inspired me to write a piece about graduating from college. But the book, on the other hand, was disturbing and it haunted me long after I was done – and not in a happy way. A happy movie and a sad book. Strange, isn’t it? Maybe the movie didn’t do justice to the book. Maybe I saw it wrong – maybe I was a sponge and not a filter.

I couldn’t identify with Charlie, but I wanted to be his friend. I think I identified with Sam, because of how she treated Charlie and also with Mary Elizabeth, because of how she wanted to expose Charlie to great things and kept talking about them (which Charlie found annoying).

“I look at the field, and I think about the boy who just made the touchdown. I think that these are the glory days for that boy, and this moment will just be another story someday because all the people who make touchdowns and home runs will become somebody’s dad. And when his children look at his yearbook photograph, they will think that their dad was rugged and handsome and looked a lot happier than they are. I just hope I remember to tell my kids that they are as happy as I look in my old photographs. And I hope that they believe me.”

It’s 2016, and this year, I’m a little closer to being the ‘voracious’ reader that I always claimed to be. If any of you lovelies think that they have read better books than the ones mentioned here, comment and let me know. I’ll borrow a copy from someone.

PS: Don’t fall for the Book Exchange Scam that’s been doing the rounds on Facebook lately. Round up two or three of your friends and do it among yourselves.

PPS: If you’re wondering how I tracked my reading time and sessions, (as they always say) there’s an app for that. It’s called ReadTracker. (Thanks, MJ). It’s dope, and can easily replace a bookmark. (But don’t throw away your cute Flipkart bookmarks)

Watch this Video to Know How Much you Don’t Know about the Internet

Review

Youtube released its Rewind 2015 two days back, and it is all sorts of AMAZING.

For those of you who don’t know what it is, Rewind is Youtube’s annual tribute to the most successful videos of 2015 – more or less a recap. You know those annoying songs and videos that keep popping up on your social feed and no matter how much you try to avoid them you end up exposed to them? (I’m looking at you, PSY). This video has all of those, and some more. But it’s not a mashup – it is a CRAZY, CRAZY portrayal of all those videos, featuring Youtubers and (a handful of) TV celebrities.

And by ‘CRAZY, CRAZY’ I really do mean ‘CRAZY, CRAZY’. It is so fast and detailed and downright weird that by the time you stop hyperventilating about, say, ‘OMG wasn’t that Superwoman who opened the video?!,” you have something else to be confused about.

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Full disclosure: If this year’s Youtube Rewind has made me realise anything, it is that I know shit about this weird world called Youtube. Because for the most part, I was like “Is this person Youtube-famous? Why don’t I know about her?”. I also realised that I was more familiar with Youtube a few years back, than I am now. #ShameOnMe

So, in this post, without researching on the videos/people featured in Rewind, I will list out only the ones that I managed to recognise. Maybe some of you non-existent readers could help me out with the rest – NO CHEATING!

1. The Music

The background score is a mashup of all popular songs of this year, and I could catch just these:

Justin Bieber – What do you Mean
Major Lazer & DJ Snake – Lean on
Omi – Cheerleader

I happened to chance on these songs and add them to my playlist, I don’t know how – I swear. #ViralBlackMagic

2. Lilly Singh, aka IIsuperwomanII.

It took me a whole 24 hours to stop hyperventilating about the fact that this video opens, and closes, with my hustle queen – Lilly Singh (most Youtuber ever). For a great part of my life, I’ve either never had a person that I gained inspiration from, or they were fictional (At 14, it was Neville Longbottom).

But since I started watching her videos on Youtube and followed her from making videos in her basement to going on a world tour, I can easily point to her and say “This woman is my inspiration.” It is not just her sense of humour or talent that impacts me, she has this amazing work-ethic that blows my mind every time I see her videos – especially her vlogs.

If you haven’t seen any of her videos, I suggest you start watching the same video that made me take a double-take and check her out. Maybe not hilarious in the present-day where we are not used to home-made videos without a soundtrack, but give it a try.

3. Miranda Sings

I find her plain weird – in the most interesting way. Miranda is a fictional character, played by Colleen Evans. She is a satirical representation of all the talentless people on the internet who are also narcissistic and extremely arrogant. She has an (incorrect) opinion on everything, looks down on others and gives stupid advice.

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Her quirkiness has taken her to share the stage with big names such as Ariana Grande, Jerry Seinfeld, and she has even been discussed on David Letterman. If you haven’t watched her perform, you must. You’ll either find her brilliant/hilarious or stupid/unfunny – no middle ground. And then read about how successful she is – it’s unreal.

4. Just Do It

Rewind 2015 also has Youtubers performing this video, originally performed by Shia Lebeouf. Most of us know him through the success of the Transfomers movies. But some of us remember him as cute little Louis Stevens from the Disney show, Even Stevens. And like many Disney kids he turned out to be, well, complicated.

He’s been getting a lot of attention not only for various arrests and criminal charges, but also for his unconventional projects in performance art.
The latest was called #ALLMYMOVIES when he live-streamed himself watching all his movies and TV shows in reverse chronological order. Basically, we could see him sitting in a theatre with a few other people, with little or no emotion on his face, for three whole days. All meta-lovers, hail this man!

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He’s also now opened a dedicated phone line for people to call him and ask him whatever they want.
This motivational video was one such thing. If there’s one word that I would use to describe this, it would be : Bizarre.

5. TVF Qtiyapa

One of the best Indian YouTube channels, albeit they do not get as much attention (read: virality) as AIB, despite having a hell lot of smart, meta content. (Am I right or am I right). It’s probably the downside of having a presence on YouTube alone, while AIB has a lot more presence through stand up comedy, podcasts, and award shows.

Besides normal sketches and parodies, they have a few mini-series within their channels, portraying/parodying everyday stuff. In Chai Sutta Chronicles,they speak about stuff like ‘The Middle Berth Aversion’ (How we hate them middle berths in trains, because they screw with our independence) and ‘Digital Suicide,’ while Tech Conversations with Dad is a set of poignant and painfully hilarious conversations that millenials have with their parents while familiarising them with technology.

Recently, they’ve set a golden standard for themselves with the release of their original web series ‘Permanent Roommates’ and ‘TVF Pitchers’.

They pop up in the video for around half a second, enacting Shia LeBeouf’s “Just Do It” in Hindi. And yes, they are the only Indian channel in the video.

6. John Oliver

More popular among Human Beings as Professor Ian Duncan in Community, this man is a British comedian and full-time host of his HBO show ‘Last Week Tonight with John Oliver’. His show is essentially the ‘For Dummies’ version of news and politics. He calls out major corporations and politicians on their bullshit, and he has so much of an influence that after his episode on Net Neutrality, so many people flocked to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) website that it overloaded and crashed 🙂

See what he had to say about Modi visiting New York:

7. Elastic Heart

This is the music video of Sia’s song in which Shia LeBeouf (his name is now synonymous with ‘thought-provoking’) and Maddie Ziegler dance rather crazily, leaving us bewildered and wondering what they’re really trying to portray. A man fighting his inner demons? A couple who fight too much but can’t bring themselves to get out of the relationship? I don’t know.

Rewind 2015 doesn’t refer to the music video itself, but in one sequence, people are seen dancing in what seems to be the cage from Elastic Heart.

Rewind Further

For me the whole thing went nuts when the video started to rewind *even further*. Something never before done with Rewind videos – it took us back to a few viral videos from before 2015. SayWhaaaaaaaaat?

8. The Ice Bucket Challenge

Need I say any further? This challenge took social media by a storm in 2014. Millions of people, including Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey dumped ice water on their heads to raise awareness (and money) about Lou Gehrig’s disease. And raise money they did – over $220 million, which enabled further research on the ailment that currently has no known cure.

My favourite ice bucket challenge video is this:

9. MKBHD

Marques Brownlee, my go-to guy for all tech info and info (Result: A tech wish list of things I would buy if it didn’t have to be shipped all the way from U.S. to India). Also, his videos are a pleasure to watch.

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He appears in the video for a few slow-mo moments during the ice bucket challenge part.

10. The Van Damme Split

This epic video in which Jean-Claude Van Damme performs a split between two reversing Volvo trucks. The video aimed to ‘demonstrate the stability and precision of Volvo Dynamic Steering’.

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Fun fact: The feat wasn’t nearly as dangerous as it looked. Van Damme had safety lines hooked to his body, and his feet actually rested on two small platforms on the side mirrors.

11. Felix Baumgartner’s Jump

On 14 October, 2012, this Austrian daredevil jumped from the stratosphere, at an incredible altitude of 39 km, which set the record for fastest free fall and made him the first human to break the sound barrier outside a vehicle. This mission, sponsored by Red Bull, was brilliantly marketed on social media, and more than 7 million people tuned into Youtube to watch it live.

YouTuber Jenna Marbles plays Felix in the Rewind.

12. Rebecca Black’s Friday

Ahhhhh. How do I explain what this 2011 song means to me? This was probably my first experience with a it’s-so-bad-it’s-good viral video. Sometimes, when a viral video has horrible content, you can’t understand why it is as popular as it is. And this song was widely titled ‘Worst song ever.’ This leads you to accept how strange an entity Youtube really is. You can’t help what catches your eye, sticks in your brain and plays itself on loop.

The lyrics of this song go pretty much like this: I wake up, I eat, I go to the bus stop, I see my friends, WHICH SEAT DO I TAKE?, it’s Friday, Friday gotta get down on Friday! (It’s really catchy, we should sing this together)

Today, this song gives me as much nostalgia as the Vinnaithandi Varuvaaya album. Even now, I catch myself singing this song on some Fridays. The sad part: Like all YouTubers with unpopular videos, Rebecca Black was terribly bullied. She was 13, and received horrendous hate comments, and even death threats from haters.

But guess what she did? She did NOT take the video down, attended all interviews with a smile, and in 5 months starred with Katy Perry in her music video titled Last Friday Night (See what they did there?). Rebecca Black’s reaction to this shitstorm is #goals. Oh, and she was also the host of Rewind 2015. Take that, haters.

13. The Double Rainbow Guy

In 2010, a guy saw a double rainbow and recorded a video. But highlight is not the double rainbow. It’s the the guy in the background, filming it. He seems to be, well, awestruck. I’ll have whatever he’s having.

14. I’m on a Boat – The Lonely Island

The Lonely Island has the most random, bizzare and hilarious fake-rap songs on the internet. This music video, which went viral in 2009, is the band’s account of them ‘being on a boat’. That’s it and nothing else.

This band are the main creators of Saturday Night Live’s Digital Shorts, until one member quit the show. Their channel has a series of fun songs that you can’t stop rapping with. Check them out to tickle your funny bone (Oh, and strong language warning. Don’t go there if sticks and stones don’t break your bones, but words always hurt you).

15. The JK Wedding Entrance Dance

The year was 2009, and weddings were still run-of-the-mill events, Ravi Pillai had just started wedding planning for his daughter, and people didn’t professionally choreograph/videograph wedding entrances just yet.

And there came this video that made me want to have a wedding RIGHT THEN (and I’d just joined college). So in the video, just when the wedding is about to start, Chris Brown’s Forever starts playing.

The groomsmen and bridesmaids play-dance-walk down the aisle, with the surprised relatives clapping along. Finally the groom, and then the bride come, both grooving to the music. Since then, we’ve been through so many wedding dances and surprises that today this video might seem like a very poorly filmed and choreographed number.

Get this: The Office parodied them in one of their episodes.

16. Charlie bit my finger

This is a supremely adorable 2007 video of two baby brothers. Charlie, the younger one bites his brother’s finger. Noticing this, he puts his finger in Charlie’s mouth again and gets “really hurt.”

This happens to be one of the most viewed videos on Youtube, ever. The parents are still active on YouTube and occasionally post video updates of the kids.

17. Evolution of Dance

Boy, we’ve rewound till 2006. This is a live performance by Judson Laipply, who demonstrates, in 6 minutes, the various types of dances from the 50s through the early 2000s.

Btw this video was also covered by The Office!

That is a Wrap

I wish I could catch a few more references, but I really can’t. Maybe next year.

Thank you, Youtube, for respecting your audience’s pop-culture intellect and not dumbing it down to a list of videos in order of choronology or number of views, but by detailing and performing it in the most meticulous manner possible. You definitely gave me goosebumps when I first watched it. Looking forward to Rewind 2016 – can’t wait!

Sickness and Health.

Uncategorized

Find something you love and let it sicken you.

Like a restaurant? Go there until you never wanna go there.

Like a song? Listen to it until the lyrics become gibberish.

Like a person? Hang out with them so much, SO MUCH, that every adorable thing about them turns plain-water-normal.

Love this food? Make it, buy it, eat it until it turns chor-and-curd-normal.

No feeling guilty. No saving it for later. No telling yourself ‘But I went to the beach last week. It won’t be fun today. I wanna try something new and then go back to the beach.’ Why miss the chance? Let the beauty of pristine love engulf you.

Overkill. That’s the way to go..

Right now, I plan to get sick of godhamb dosa and Mandy by Barry Manilow. I don’t know when it’s gonna happen. But it will. That’s the idea – find something that you WANT to get sick of. Then maybe you’ll find something that just doesn’t conform. Something that you just cannot get sick of. Should be worth it.