Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A2Z Challenge

A short post to say that I've signed up for the A2Z Challenge. I have to post 26 times in the month of April - one post per letter of the alphabet. The challenge starts off on April first, and I get Sundays off. 

The objective is to ensure that I do actually finish my February Resolution of posting a hundred times this year. I'm woefully behind on that front, so I'm hoping this will help. I have some travel plans for April, so I'm not sure I'll be able to completely stick to the resolution, but maybe some advance writing will help.

The worst part of the challenge will be, I think, coming up with topics to blog about. I have some ideas for the first few alphabets, but the later ones are still problematic. If you have something you would like me to blog about, let me know in the comments.

If you're an on-again off-again blogger (like me!) looking for some inspiration to kick-start an inactive blog again, I guess you could do worse than sign up for this challenge. They're trying to get to 1500 bloggers before the deadline. 
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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Of Books and Their Movies

Like many other book-minded people, I've always had the book-versus-movie conundrum. There are two parts to the conundrum:
  1. Should I watch the movie adaptations of my favourite books? Suppose it ruins the images I've carefully constructed in my head of my favourite characters? Suppose - God forbid - the next time I read Pride and Prejudice, I can only picture Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet? (Don't worry, it's just an example - Pride and Prejudice isn't one of my favourite books.)
  2. And on the other hand, if I know that the movie I'm planning to watch next week is adapted from a book, should I read the book first? Since I'm a book person, surely I'm morally obliged to read the book before watching the movie?

Many bookworms do refuse to watch the movie adaptations of their favourite books. Personally speaking though, I have no such qualms. I eagerly look forward to movie adaptations, to see if the images I've constructed in my head match those conjured up by others. Funnily enough, I generally leave the hall happy even if the movie is terrible. (The first two Harry Potter movies come to mind, though Prisoner of Azkaban is both my favourite Harry Potter book and movie.)

The second question is more of a problem. I do generally feel that I should read the book before watching the movie. (That's one of the reasons I didn't watch Midnight's Children - I've tried a few times to read the book, and never gotten beyond Saleem Sinai's nose.) 

But once I go through the trouble of reading the book, the movie usually seems quite superfluous. I get impatient, knowing what's to come next. If the movie is especially faithful to the text, I even know what the character is going to say next, which makes it quite boring.

But good news! I discovered the answer to this question today. The answer is two-fold.

If you haven't read the book yet, don't read it at all. Or at least, wait until the movie is completely erased from your memory. 

If you HAVE read the book however, make sure that a few months elapse before you watch the movie. This way, you don't miss allowing your own imagination to construct the book's world for you. But at the same time, the details remain hazy enough that you don't feel impatient while watching the movie. 

I had this revelation while attempting to watch the first episode of the Game of Thrones series. The show is so faithful to the book that I kept judging the actors. (Why is it that they have adults playing the kids anyway? Is it because of all the nudity and the sex?)

And yet, I don't know how much sense the story would make to people who haven't read the book. So many characters and history. How can they grasp all the complexity without being able to flip back a few pages and refer when needed?

The best way is to have the basic plot-line in your head, so that the recesses of your memory light up one by one as the show progresses. At the same time, you're unable to anticipate what's about to happen. Think of it as walking through a long series of rooms with closed doors. Each door only opens up once you reach it, rather than having all the doors open, with you being able to see all the way to the last room at the beginning.

And hence the above method.


I know I'm behind the entire world and its grandma in reading/watching the Game of Thrones series. In fact, believe it or not, I resisted reading the books for a long time as well. That's quite strange considering that fantasy is my favourite genre. 

The reason for my resistance was the fact that my brother kept pushing the book at me, saying it was better than Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. That statement is pretty much guaranteed to put my back up; I love that series, despite its many flaws. 

So it was only in February that I read the first book. And then, of course, it's so addictive that the second book just had to follow. I've given myself a bit of a break at the moment, though.

So is the series better than the Wheel of Time? Well, if you force me to be strictly objective about it, I would have to say yes. It's about a hundred times better written to start with. George R R Martin does have the tendency to  go on and on and on, just like Robert Jordan. But at least the plot moves forward. And secondly, the characters. Oh my God, the characters. There are so many many layers to each character that you don't  quite know whom to support. For example, Tyrion Lannister waddled his way straight into my heart in the second book. And he's supposed to be a 'negative' character. 

But I don't know if I'm going to really continue reading the series. First of all, at the rate the books are currently being written, it will take George R R Martin another twenty years to finish the series. And I would much rather wait till the entire series is completed before reading them. Which is what I finally did with the Wheel of Time series. 

And secondly, the book is just so - violent. And I don't mean the beheadings and the random killing of innocent villagers. (In fact, one of my favourite things about the series is that Martin has no qualms about killing off important characters.) No, I mean the rapes and the way women are generally treated. Yes, I do know that the condition of women was quite bad during the Middle Ages, but still. The first few paragraphs of this post explain what I mean. (By the way, please do read the entire post. It's slightly haphazard and much too long, but it does make you think. And then there's the title, of course.)
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Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Travels in 2013

The year 2013 has been quite exceptional for me so far in terms of travel. We're barely into the third month, and I've already had four memorable trips. In fact, the Travel Gods have been good to me not only in  quantity, but quality as well - all the trips were so different from each other!

The first trip was in the second weekend of January. It was a three-day weekend because of Pongal, so Nikhil and I went off on the Chalukyan trial - the cave temples of Badami; Aihole - often called the cradle of temple architecture; Pattadakkal - a museum of temples.

After a bare day's gap, off I went to Goa. Fantabulous food, shiny beaches, and - God - the sheer magic of Goa. I think I finally understood what it is to be a man in India - to not have judgemental eyes on you all the time, to not care about what you're wearing, to walk on a beach in the middle of the night with no worries.

The next trip was home. It was almost unplanned, to be honest. We were supposed to just enjoy the Kochi Biennale for two days and come back to Bangalore. But we got tired of the biennale on the very first day (it was SO HOT and HUMID - Bangalore seems to have spoilt us weather-wise), and scooted off to Kollam and the grandmother's awesome food. From there, we went on home to Trivandrum. And then ended up staying for a week because of the two-day all-India bandh.

And then last weekend, we went off to Delhi. The trip was ostensibly to collect my award for winning this competition. But my friends in Delhi have been wanting to meet Nikhil for a long time, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. So I had three wonderful days soaked in nostalgia - meeting old friends from school and college, visiting Dilli Haat, street shopping in Sarojini Nagar, travelling on the wonderful Delhi Metro.

So history, beaches, home, nostalgia. A pretty good set of trips, don't you think? I'm planning a bunch of posts on these travels. In fact, a couple of them are half-way done. Let's hope I actually finish them this time around!
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