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Five days into the Other City, including three days of office, I don’t yet have an ID card but I have an official email address. I’ve updated my Facebook work info, been congratulated by people and asked the usual questions, so that’s all said and done.

I haven’t read a single word in a book ever since I landed up here. (The last book I was reading of my own free will was The Fountainhead on the train. It was a nice and luxurious journey, with plenty of time to read. I haven’t gone back to the book. This has nothing to do with my opinion of it.) This is in greater part because, instead, I’ve had to finely comb through about 20,000 words of a manuscript at work in the last three days. This is just as I had feared would happen.

I hope I can start reading again by the next week. I’m trying to pass off this turning-away as a temporary effect of the change in surroundings and routine. In the meantime, I have managed to watch one episode of Avatar: The Legend of Korra (the latest) and three episodes of Game of Thrones (not the latest). I wonder how long it will take me to get back to writing as well.

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Day 17: Your Favourite Book Turned Into A Movie

Admittedly, I am a poor appreciator of cinema. I haven’t always made it a point to watch the film adaptations of the books I’ve loved, and I’ve almost never read up the original novels of some of the films I liked. Of the latter, the best example would be:

A Clockwork Orange by Stanley Kubrick

I love the film with a fervour. I just cannot drag myself through the book, even though I know it’s a masterpiece in its own right. Then again, a ‘book’ doesn’t necessarily mean novel, and there will always be these favourite play adaptations like A Streetcar Named Desire. Of play adaptations, again, Shakespeare adaptations demand a story of their own. (The Shakespeare obsession is, I suspect, an inevitable effect of a training in English literature. When I started college, I was Shakespeare-neutral. Four years down the line, however, I cannot help making a concession for Shakespeare.) Anyway,  if I had to choose one film from the multitude of Shakespeare adaptations, I will (perhaps a little oddly) go with Omkara, which is one of the rare recent Hindi films that I’ve watched and enjoyed a lot.

Omkara by Vishal Bharadwaj

I am very ‘taensh’, but I love Vishal Bharadwaj’s cinema. I love his vision and style and choice of locations and the vitality of his characters, I love his soundtracks, and I’m reminded of Tim Supple’s comment about Shakespeare’s work being ‘messy and wonderful’, which is exactly how this film is.

Finally, at the risk of repeating myself, I cannot possibly conclude a post on my favourite-book-turned-into-a-movie without a mention of this:

The English Patient by Anthony Minghella

The book moved me so much that I can never judge the film objectively, but this is such an utterly beautiful adaptation. I love Ralph Fiennes. I love him a little less for playing Voldemort in the Harry Potter films, but going back to Wuthering Heights and The English Patient always makes me forgive him that crime.

97

Holidays absolutely scramble my brains. I think I’m one of those people who only function well on deadlines. All my creative output also springs from deadlines — bits of poetry, fiction, drawings just when I’m aware that I shouldn’t. Last evening I finally reached the end of Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, two days after I should’ve finished reading it for the exam, but I try to believe exams are not the only reason to read books (unless they are unpleasant books, of course). I’m not sure if ‘like’ is the word I should associate with Murakami’s writing — Norwegian Wood had given me a strong and lasting depression, it’s one of the books I’m afraid to re-read — but maybe it won’t be incorrect to say I like his vision and his impact. I didn’t start reading Hard-Boiled Wonderland till the end of the first two exams but it took me in quick, its premise was interesting although I think the effect dissolves towards the end. You could tell how it was a pre-Norwegian Wood novel. Even After Dark (the only other Murakami I’ve read) is more precise and sure-footed about its pressure points, despite its much smaller scale.

I need to learn how to sharpen my kitchen knives because all of them are blunt. Just now I had to slice a lemon with the meat cleaver; the small vegetable knife would just not sink through the rind.

Of the things I’m looking forward to this year, these are at the top of the list:

  • River of Smoke, which I find a greatly unmemorable name compared to Sea of Poppies, but I can’t wait for the book. Even though I do agree with the point P made on her blog about the second book of trilogies usually being a drag. This was also the first book I pre-ordered in my life (which, of course, has more to do with the huge discount they’re offering at Flipkart).
  • The final Harry Potter movie.
  • Snuff.
  • The Tintin movie.

That is a vaguely chronological list although about these things, who can tell. That’s also only a list of upcoming things; there are existing things  that I want to catch up on like novels by Kundera and Umberto Eco and all the Woody Allen films I have not seen. I want someone to give me a collection of Pixar shorts. I want to sit at the rooftop at B&B with a chilled beer and watch a diffused gray sunset over this stupid city that does not let me go away. I am very excited about this book called Insects Are Just Like You and Me Except Some of Them Have Wings which arrived a couple of days ago (Flipkart again, thank god for Flipkart), but I will leave this for another post because I have such a lot to say about it. Also, just thought I’d mention that I do not at all feel impressed by the song called ‘Bhaag D. K. Bose’ that seems all the rage these days. Edgy lyrics alright but the tune just refuses to catch. I wonder if this will change.

I want to make pasta and chicken and a chocolate cake with walnuts in it but god, it’s so hot. The kitchen feels like a slice of hell all the time since the sun is up. I can’t bear to swallow my morning tea after 8 AM so on days I wake up late, there is no tea and I feel sluggish and can muster up enthusiasm for nothing except stay in bed and read. Or watch music videos on Youtube when the internet connection feels benevolent enough.

It’s a Sunday morning and my mother is wandering around the house talking incessantly on the phone. Chhoto Pishi, Mejo Jetthu, Chhoto Mami, so on and so forth. I’m listening to the constant chatter over the whirring of the washing machine and the splurts and hisses from the kitchen and vaguely wondering how she has so much to say, because I can find nothing to say to most of my relatives, even the ones closer to my age like Cousin A and Cousin L, who keep up this one-sided effort to stay in touch. Cousin R is getting divorced and I should maybe phone him but I always forget. I’m listening but I’m not really tuning in; later Ma will tell me snatches of these conversations and I will absentmindedly nod, repeating all the time in my head, whoa really. (Whoa really nothing. Just whoa, really.)

It took me about three hours to write this blog post because I keep getting distracted and going away. I have a few more things to say but at the moment I can’t compose them into coherent lines. There’s so much else to do. Which one is your main task and which one’s the distraction? You wonder, you forget, this flotsam-like nowhereness is your life. Perhaps.