July 04, 2006

Some Loves

In the past couple of months, ever since the 'no-laptop-at-home-on-weekdays' policy came into being, my interest in reading has somewhat picked up a bit again. One of the major casualties of being able to access constantly updated information online and on-screen is that these days I can seldom bring myself to make time for things like books and movies. Both require patience and a degree of comfort (or discomfort) that grows with each passing frame and page, which is hard to acquire and maintain, just the same way relationships work out. Sometimes it is beautiful, sometimes it is just not meant to be, no matter how hard you try.

In that time period, I have finally managed to finish off Cat and Mouse by Gunter Grass, over a year after it was gifted to me, Pankaj Mishra's Butter chicken in Ludhiana and now I am spending some quality time with Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway. Reading Grass is a bit like dating someone who is from a foreign country with the help of an interpreter. The translation is never THAT perfect and the idiosyncrasies of Grass' writing only serve to make things even difficult. This, incidentally, was not the first time I had given Grass a try. All previous attempts always ended with the second or third reference to Mhalke's bobbing adam's apple, which is constantly obsessed over in the book. All said and done, it was a relationship that promised a lot, with large dollops of childhood innocence added in, but it also fails to deliver at the same time.

After Grass, Pankaj Mishra and his travels all over India would have to rate as a classic rebound scenario. Reading him again, after my last shot with him in The Romantics, only serves to bring forth a mental grimace that only the constant presence of the most depressive of lovers can bring forth. The gusto which with he travels all over the country, in an excruciating attempt to find faults and snigger at everything, would make even Julian Barnes bitching about having a bad hair day in England look like Mother Teresa at her gentlest best. But at Rs 35, even if it was a copy phased out from the DPS R K Puram library, it was one of the better books stacked up at PVR Saket. After all, it did cost much lesser than a packet of Classic Milds cigarettes. Though, in retrospect, I have to say the cancer sticks would have been a better waste of money.

Woolf is the archetypical difficult relationship that you love to be in. You can't really figure out whether it is prose or poetry, since it looks like a bit of both and delving deep into her and her words is a process that takes dedicated time and effort. She does not give in easily, sending you off on tangential wild goose chases and an awkward writing style, which structures sentences in a manner that would make what's written inaccessible or incomprehensible for a fairly large percentage of the population. Which begs the question, why would anyone write something that difficult? Is it like a first line of defence or is the author being knowingly obstinate? Regardless, the book has a really delicious opening line "Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself..." that got me to ignore the obstinacy and solider on. I might fall in love with it, but I won't count on it.

In its opening 20 minutes, Sideways makes you feel as if you are watching a low budget, badly scripted, badly shot and badly acted movie. In other words, a relationship that is way too wrong and way too common to have any chances of survival. Then it gradually grows, like the theme of wine that runs throughout the movie, on you. Though I will clarify that I am not a winehead to make any claims of 'knowing' my wine. I will also admit that the lead character, Miles, with his failed writing attempts, marriage and negativity reminded me quite a bit about myself and don't get me started on Virginia Madsen. I could have loved the movie for her alone.

So, the big day has drawn quite close and, rather predictably, I have nether done any of the shopping nor have I figured out for sure what I am going to do there for seven days, other than fending off the "son, it's time" comments from the world+dog there. That said, I am getting a day of extensive pampering, with a full body massage and whatnot for myself there. I should not be online most of the time, though I would try and blog it extensively when I get the time. Hopefully, I should have some pictures too up. Even if nothing happens, I would just love to curl up for days on end and watch the rain fall through the windows and do nothing else but eat good food, write and relax, just like the old days. But it won't quite be the same. Some loves are just like that. They happen only once to you.