May 21, 2008

Becoming Jane.

Image copied from

Only skillful storytellers can capture chemistry on paper or on the screen, and after a long time, I saw a movie that had moments that defined what chemistry was all about. By chemistry I mean hidden messages, silent consents, deep glances and sparks that fill the space between a man and a woman. And if I had to pick a moment that said it all, it was when Jane Austen searches for Tom Lefroy at the their last ball - anxious moments when her eyes skip from one person to another, registering and still not registering their greetings and a disappointing acceptance of his absence when she starts dancing - beautifully captured. And the moment the music begins and she begins to dance, he appears as if by magic, in step with her movements, a mischievous smile lighting his mouth, as if to say, "I saw you searching for me!"

And then on it's a game played with glances, blushes and question marks. They stare at each other even as they mechanically move through the steps with their partners, until it is obvious to all what they might be silently communicating with each other.

Even the scene after the dance when Tom compliments her dance, "You dance with passion", a whisper towards her as he stands behind her leaves an impact; it's as if she can feel his presence inches behind her and yet cannot bring herself to look at him...

And there is the whole element of romance associated with writing itself. And what can speak of it better than the life of a writer in love? Perhaps she derived the inspiration for her masterpieces from her life...

Sigh. It's for moments like these that I watch movies. For bringing to life the magic in beautiful words and powerful silences.

Becoming Jane
is a movie for romantics.

May 12, 2008


Pretty ribbons, colorful packaging, glitter and above all the element of surprise! Who doesn't like receiving gifts?! But over the years, this simple act has gotten more complicated. Enter registries and American-style celebrations and the whole picture gets fuzzy.

It took me quite sometime to get used to the concept of gift registries and gift cards, I mean isn't that the same as giving cash? You spent an extra five minutes reading through a list and adding to cart, other than that I didn't initially see the point of registries. But I guess, one might take satisfaction in the fact that he/she picked out a nice little gift that the host is sure to appreciate, after all they selected it for their registry! So, I made peace with registries and religiously picked out gifts and added them to cart on several occasions.

But, over the years, this whole process has become more of a mechanical task than a loving investment of time to create a gift for a dear one. There was a time when I would spend hours together to put together a gift for friends waiting for the moment when their faces would suffuse with expressions of delight! Over time, I stopped doing that for various reasons including the fact that the gifts I received didn't reflect what I felt when I made gifts for people. I didn't expect friends to spend hours together (Crazy! Who does that nowadays, right?) putting together a gift for me, but emails with variations of "Many many happy...", "Heyyyy, happy birthday! Enjoy" got tiring after a while. Once I stopped doing the creative-gift-thingie, things got a bit boring for me. I became one of those people who would drop in on a birthday party with a greeting card or just send ecards or spend five minutes wishing them over the phone. The fun part was gone. I began to group all these occasions as "get-togethers" rather than his birthday, her anniversary and so on...

Then there are those events that don't seem likely ever to happen to me :p Like, leaving Lex. While leaving behind a home is no fun, getting gifts makes that process lighter and more memorable. I have no problem with that but I think it's about time we have a gift-giving day for people who don't leave, you know what I mean? "Gee, you are nice and always there for us in the same town, so here's something cute for you!" - that sorta gift.

So, it's not like I have a constructive suggestion for "how to bring the fun back into gift giving" except the "for-staying-back" gift idea. Until then, it's registries and gift cards and the occasional no-efforts-spared WHOA gift - I still do that for k, which reminds me his b'day is coming up and I have not a thing planned! So much for the big talk!

May 05, 2008

Palace of Illusions.

Like many of Chitra Divakaruni's books, this book also treats us to a rich variety of stories, riddles, hints, colorful characters and mysterious happenings! And how can it not be all of this and more, considering that it's the tale of Mahabharatha narrated by a different voice - the strong-willed, adamant, beautiful and unpredictable Draupadi herself?!

I finished the book in a day and as always it filled me with questions and curiosity; parts of the book surprised if not shocked me. I had to adjust to Krishna being portrayed as a simple, at times mysterious, friend and confidant, that conversations between him and Draupadi were like any that we would have in our lives, not necessarily full of God-talk, for lack of a better word :) The events and emotions that tie together Draupadi and Karna are heart-wrenching, powerful and unexpected (and imagined, I would guess), almost making me wish their destinies had turned out differently, at times, I wished the story had turned out differently, yearning to see a happy resolution for their confusions...but then such is the charm of Divakaruni's writing, her ability to make the reader identify with the characters, look inside their hearts and hurt, laugh, cry with them.

And she has kept up her word regarding the portrayal of women in this book. This is definitely a tale of strong women that changed the course of history, not necessarily hovering in the shadow, but walking proudly in the forefront, hand-in-hand with their men...a tale of Gods and saints, pride and vanity, smiles and tears.

May 02, 2008


Today is glorious! I decided to work from home and nothing beats working in pjs with sunlight streaming into the room! Allergies notwithstanding, I opened the door wide open and let all the nice Spring-time pollen-laden air stream in! Today is the kind of day that makes you want to write a blog post full of small nothings!


Ok, now I really have nothing to say.

Ok, thought of something, I recently discovered that a good selection of Tamil movies is available on Netflix, not very recent ones but I can't complain since our local desi store does not carry any Tamil DVDs at all. Can't blame him since most folks here just download err...I mean find other ways to catch the latest Tamil movies. The next movie on my list is "Oru naal oru kanavu". Yes, I know I have a lot of catching up to do but in Lex, this is the best I can do. I really want to watch "Santhosh Subramaniam" and that Prakash Raj turned God movie and a bunch of others.

We also recently ordered a lot of ...stuff from Amazon. You know, am not really an amazon-netflix kind of person, meaning I like to visit the store (by store I mean a brick and mortar store), browse through selections (even if limited) and pick something by hand and pay for it. I swore I wouldn't let go of Blockbuster, our neighbourhood video store that we can walk to, until they charged me $4.50 for an old English movie, that sadly ended our relationship and marked the beginning of my affair with Netflix.

Still I haven't given up hope. I drive, sometimes walk to my local library and browse, yes browse through bookshelves and pick books out by hand, I still buy my groceries from a local coop store and I hope those experiences are here to stay. I can't imagine reading ebooks exclusively and ordering "fresh" vegetables from an online store! Remember how we shopped for vegetables in India? My mom would actually try breaking the ends of bright green ladies fingers, or turn the rich purple kathrikai (brinjal) round and round to make sure it had no marks on it, the aroma of fresh cilantro would tickle our noses until we naturally gravitated towards the store even if we had vegetables back home. Maybe, I don't break the ends of the okra here but I still relish the visual feast the arrangement of different colored vegetables provide! No sir, I claim, I will not be adding my good old vegetables to a cart anytime soon!

Your touchy-feely writer has spoken her bit!
© Ramya Sethuraman, All Rights Reserved.