Sunday, March 13, 2016

Movie Review - Girlhood/ Bande de filles (original title)

I went to watch this movie at The Lost Plot. It is quite a beautiful setting to watch a movie on the rooftop of a beautiful hotel and order delicious munchies and cold beers :) I will save the review about the experience itself in a separate post. I hoped to spend a beautiful evening with myself in the company of an offbeat movie. Girlhood, it turned out, is all that and more.

Girlhood is the story about a 15-16 year old girl from Paris's suburbs, who lives with her multiple siblings including an abusive brother and a mother. The mother, though present is absolutely non existent in the context of her upbringing. Now this is almost unlike India where parents play a part in their children's lives, sometimes even into their adulthood. How that works for anyone is a personal story but I was certainly thankful about it after watching the movie. We might not agree with most choices this girl makes. She drops out of vocational training to join a group of rebellious girls because she thinks it is cool and mostly because she's looking for the freedom those happy girls seem to have. But pretty soon she realizes that they are still where they were and the path definitely doesn't lead to freedom of any kind.

But what this journey through her eyes shows us is girls are the same everywhere. We all have crushes, we love spending time with our girlfriends and above all, we are all looking to fit in, belong, somewhere. She grows stronger through every experience, changes herself to fit in, twice, hoping she will belong and that it's the path to her flight. If you're hoping this is a comfortable story with neat incidents and a happy conclusive ending, you're mistaken. Sciamma makes no attempt at tying in her loose ends and has no interest in giving us happy butterflies in our stomach. She gives us the reality, however uncomfortable and gives us the courage and strength in Marieme's eyes to just make us float through. Though still feeling confident that the girl will find her answers not soon, but eventually, like most of us.

The most poignant scenes of the film are the ones where Marieme changes. I mean she literally changes, her styling, clothes, her hair. It gives us a window into the experience that comes next. The styling itself is brilliant and as one of the hostesses at the screening pointed out, is used as a tool to take us through this girl's journey. The scene where we find out that Marieme is trying to hide her breasts under bandages and has her hair short to appear like a boy is heartbreaking. It throws the reality in our face, how all the more difficult it is for a teenage girl to survive the evils of a neighborhood. When she is assaulted by her boss and has no other choice but to leave, she goes straight to her boyfriend her confidante who offers lovingly to marry her so that they can live together and she would no longer be a "slut" and hence be accepted back in her family and neighborhood. Her struggle is real, but when she declines his offer of a safe marriage and kids we realize how much Marieme has discovered herself and how confident she is of what she wants. She doesn't want that life she says and all I can whisper is "You go girl!"

Watch this movie with your band of girls or alone, because this film is a must-watch for the brilliance of the story, direction and the lead actress. And did I mention it's almost entirely an African-French cast and most of them women? Yes! That perspective makes it all the more unique.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

I ran a mini marathon

So, I ran a mini marathon. I just discovered that a marathon is 42 Km and 21 Km is a half - marathon hence I am calling a 10 Km race as a mini marathon. And I discovered it was a stupid decision. I will tell you why. I am at least 65 Kg in weight. I say at least because I haven't checked in a while for the fear of fainting at the number. I have zero experience in running, never even ran a race in school. When I mean zero, I mean I have never ever run more than a couple metres at a time. And add to that I have no regular exercise routine. So why did I commit to doing a thing I was sure of failing at? It offered a challenge, which I love. And I had been told by a well meaning close friend that I looked like a mother to two children when I drape a saree. I would like to point out why this was offending, I am 28 years old and have never been pregnant. So about that, I really want to write another post. But suffice it to say that that comment was a pretty big motivator to me. Simply to prove to myself that I am not as lazy as I pretend to be. Prove this to just me mind you, nobody else.
I know you are wondering if I completed it. I did! I walked most of the way and when I ran, I really really wanted to quit but I kept going. Even when my face burned and I couldn't feel my legs and even when I simply just wanted to stop, I kept going. And then something amazing happened. My body gave me a tight slap back. It told me to go f**k myself for even expecting to complete such a feat with zero time spent on preparation. Thankfully I am young enough that I didn't come home with major injuries, the possibility of which was fairly real. The ordeal for the next 24 hours after the race turned out to be far greater than the race itself.
What this whole experience really taught me was to listen to my body. To not expect it to go on without working on it. Talking about body image issues is a big deal. It is difficult, it is potentially the most difficult thing I have talked about. But I decided it was time to acknowledge what my body was telling me and to not hate it. Where you are with fitness is a result of all the conscious and unconscious choices you have made though years.
As a side effect, I have come back with love for running. I have come back with an aim to 'run' next year. Man that sense of accomplishment is addictive. And why am I putting this on a public forum for everyone to judge, so that I am forced to keep this promise.


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A Due Too Long Update

So, I have been in a dry spell. I have not been blogging for sure, but I have been up to something or other in real life. A sore throat and a runny nose have been my companions for a couple days now. We had a little trip to London on a rainy day and a trip to Birmingham I have still to write about. But I will maybe catch up on them in some time.

Currently I have been trying my hand at watercolor painting/illustrating. I must say I have improved since I took a few online classes. But of course it takes a lot of practice and patience (on the part of the husband!). But I think it has the potential to become a new permanent hobby.

Also, I completed a crochet jumper. Isn't that wonderful? I think it is. I am not entirely satisfied with the fit of it, but it will do for under the coat jackets for now. I have been brainstorming what to do with the leftover yarn, its much to small so a purse or socks is out of question. Fingerless mittens or baby booties are an option but all my friends with babies are back in India and I wouldn't have the satisfaction of putting it to use right away. Haha. I created this board for inspiration for leftover yarn problems.

Now before I leave, I will leave a few pictures from my sketchbook these days, so if I do get better with time, I will have something to get back to. Ciao!

In progress


You can tell I need better quality paper and paints, but for now I am satisfied. I need to learn a lot, but can you tell? I am incredibly proud of the lady in a saree!Inspired by this photo. The last girl is inspired by this girl.

Monday, October 20, 2014

About Daydreaming and British Radishes

Sometimes you need so little effort to move forward and sometimes it takes a sea. And it is easy to decide if a certain effort or lack of it has been productive in some way. But productive to what end? Everyone knows that each one's success looks a little different. My success or idea of it is different than what success means for you. But where does it end? When I write my first novel, or when I am published or when I get a Booker.
I have realized with time that all that we do and not do is worthwhile. It is not for the culmination of any goal necessarily. Its for becoming who you are becoming and becoming doesn't stop at some point. Am I concerned about being 27 and not knowing where I am going? I am. But so is everyone. I am concerned about daydreaming too much, losing a lot in life's trivialities, cooking, cleaning, being presentable. But we forget that all this, adds to my becoming in some way.
There is this article I read that affirms my belief that daydreaming is important. There is no set framework for success. Being professionally successful is not the only success there is. So to add to your Monday:

Non- Career Advice and why daydreaming is important. I am going to follow this series through.

Chopping Onions and Garlic

What does the world eat for Breakfast. Just spotting the dosa made my day.

There is a hotel for bunnies. Get ready to melt at the pictures.

And just for fun, what not to say to a woman on her period.

You have a good week ahead.

Top photo from my daily ventures into British vegetables. The photo is edited in Pixlr Express on my Android.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Painting roses and other stories

So, the weekend came and went and we had a wonderful outing at Birmingham on Saturday and went out Indian grocery shopping on a foggy and chilly Sunday. I went a little cold with all the cold and shivering obviously. I will share more on the trip later this week and about a funny little incident.

Today though I wanted to share about an obsession I've gotten into, watercolour painting. Mainly fashion illustrations. It happened that I signed up for a free online class on Skillshare (It's wonderful, the videos are high quality and the artists genuine and to top it off, they are all free). You will need to upgrade with some fee if want to watch the videos full screen, but I found it was alright with the small ones too (unless you are taking a miniature things making class or something :)

I have had this obsession come and go, but it came to the fore with this class again and I jumped at my Pinterest board.
Here are some looks I found super inspiring, which would be lovely to practice for this class.

                             First Image: Vanessa Jackman                                      Second Image: Found via Google image search

And this beautiful Dior skirt is a dream.

                              Image source: Via this blog

Or this Sonam Kapoor in Dolce and Gabanna look for Cannes:

So I am gonna give it a try and keep you posted on the progress I make. As it usually happens I go down a rabbit hole to a slew of videos on watercolor painting. Here is a particularly adorable one painting loose flowers. I was pretty scared at the beginning thinking this going to turn out awful, but miraculously the artist turns it into something worth to look at. And the narration is adorable.

Enjoy and have a great Monday!
Top Image from here.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The One with all the Swans (And no rowing) - A day out at Startford Upon Avon

I could not come up with any Shakespeare related innuendo here coz 1. I am not THAT into innuendos. 2. I haven't read any Shakespeare. My only introduction to this supposedly super cool author is via beat up Bollywood movies claiming to be inspired by his work or via a high school teacher who turned the Merchant of Venice into the story I will remember through my adult life.

But I digress. It's hardly about Shakespeare here. You love that guy or not, you will surely love Stratford. It's that town from old English movies with pretty houses, winding river canal with swans and plenty of Instagramming opportunities.
Getting to Stratford is pretty simple. We booked a National Express Coach beforehand. Ignoring the part where I had to walk all the way to the Station {No biggie, we do that all the time here}. Whatever way suits you, there is a way to reach Startford. The coach ride was in itself beautiful. Little village houses, meandering meadows and slanting sunlight. My raining window doesn't allow me to believe we lucked out on such beautiful weather. You can easily find the way to the main piazza where you can find live musicians performing, lawns where you can have a little snack while looking at frolicking children or feed the swans at the canal. AND real cool bubble blower dudes:

They give you free refills of the soapy stuff throughout the day if you choose to buy that magic stick, just a heads up.

A small mishap happened with our camera right at the famous statue, before anything began; we forgot the camera batteries. So pardon the blurry, not so great camera photos.

Start your trip with a little walk into town. Get a hang of all that is on offer. Vintage Flea Markets, free art galleries/ museums, the Royal Shakespeare Company. There's so much, you can get lost and end up doing nothing worthwhile. Instead of telling you what all is on offer (Which you can easily find out here), I will tell you what we did to spend the day.

We started with walking along the canal and the Bancroft Gardens. It starts with the Shakespeare statue. The history behind the statue itself is interesting. If that's your thing, read it out and go around clicking pictures.

Really cool Canal traffic posts :)

The walk was super. we looked at really old houses. Though we expected a Shakespeare house, but we found out it was destroyed by some maniac, burned it down in the 19th century (Ouch!). But there was this cool Nash House besides the spot where Shakespeare's house existed.

There was a really pretty vintage stuff market, which was perfectly beautiful. You could buy crockery, that cake stand, pretty kaftans or ponchos. Or you can take all the loveliness in and drink some hot chocolate.

It's mostly a trip about going around, taking the sights in, shopping and well, rowing! If you know how to row that is. I tried, I failed terribly, the boat did not move an inch. I was devastated knowing I couldn't row. But Sameer could and that pacified me a bit. We complete each other haha!

All the museums and buildings are worth seeing and if you are ready to spend (19 pounds!) they will take you to a nice guided tour of the Nash House and Anne Hathaway's cottage and all that. But believe me, it was wonderful just going about, without the tour. So my advice, catch a sunny day and have a picnic on the grass.

Don't miss the butterfly gardens. Even if you aren't much interested in the butterflies, the garden makes for a great place to click photographs. And if you are lucky, you will get to watch (pulled by your husband and make you watch for an hour) a cricket match in full swing.

Thanks for visiting. Anything to add? Leave a comment.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

That is funny!

I am probably very very late on this bandwagon, but have you read The Oatmeal? Have a go, you are not going to regret. I don't regret afternoons spent laughing in front of the screen :)

Here's a sample:

You loved that? I am thinking to get this too.
Happy Tuesday!