Sunday, March 29, 2009

Kate Winslet - and Two Movies

The Guy and I both admire Kate Winslet, and we were keen on catching The Reader and Revolutionary Road. We watched The Reader a week ago, and while it definitely was interesting, it seemed to fall short in parts. The best part of the movie was, of course, Winslet herself.

Then we watched Revolutionary Road on Friday. It was mind-blowing. I didn't have very high expectations from the movie - I was afraid it would be superficial. But the writing was incisive, the characters were well fleshed out, and the performances were exquisite. April Wheeler is the one woman I've ever seen on screen whom I could most relate to. Leonardo DiCaprio is good as the "average nice guy", but Ms Winslet steals the show. 

It's also a feminist movie, with the stifling bonds of marriage, homemaking and maternity dealt with starkly. (Warning: don't watch it if you're not a feminist.) As I said to the Guy, it's not the kind of movie most people would like - but it seemed to be made for us. I felt the ending was a bit of a letdown, by being melodramatic in contrast to the subtlety of the rest of it, but I still like it more than any other movie I've ever seen. Everything else seems trite in comparison. (Oh, the Guy wants me to put it on record that he loved it too.)

And it's directed by Kate Winslet's husband. Really, it seems unfair that a couple should have so much talent between them. 

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Lame Sexist Marketing Email

India Today Book Club sent me an email today, that had "Congratulations Unmana" (that's right, no punctuation) in ugly large red font. And what was I being congratulated for? For being able to buy a dining set for about 1/5th of the original price. Oh wait, there's more:

"An ideal gift for all the Special Women in your life - Mother, Wife and Daughter.
A perfect blend of luxury & lifestyle that will mark them to be the perfect host."

Look at the amazing layers of thought they managed to convey:
  1. Women don't read books. (This was from the "Book Club", remember? I vaguely remember registering to buy books sometime - which I probably didn't buy after all. But going by this, not only do we not read, we don't even buy books.)
  2. Or at least, the ones that do don't want dining sets.
  3. The special women in your life can only be "Mother, Wife and Daughter"(sic). Girlfriends, sisters, mothers-in-law, friends and any other women you know can of course, never be special.
  4. A dining set is the ideal gift for a woman.
  5. A dining set is only for women.
  6. The ideal gift for a woman is one that enables her to be a perfect host.
  7. Men don't want to be perfect hosts. (Or maybe they can get there without the help of the extra-special dining set?)
Did I miss any?

Edited on 27 April: The good news is that I just got that same piece of trash in my inbox again a few minutes ago. Doesn't seem to be working very well for them, does it? I bet they're wondering why. 

Guess What I Got Today!

I ordered Falstaff's new book on Landmark, and it came today - accompanied by a Landmark newsletter that praises him to the skies! 

"Remember this name... and remember that you heard it first from us."(I didn't, but whatever.) "We cannot recommend √Čtudes highly enough." 

I know I have to read it before I tell you how it was, but I'm so excited I am putting off opening the book in order to savour it longer. I have long been a fan of Falstaff's writing, and it's so awesome to have his! book! in my hands!

Will be back soon, to tell you what I thought of it. 

Saturday, March 21, 2009

On Providing and Nurturing in Relationships

I was thinking about the common idea that we have to look after each other in relationships. 
 
On one hand, that seems to be one of the fundamental functions of relationships. When I am sick, the Guy wraps me up and cooks me food and makes sure I'm comfortable. He is so good to me that I often enjoy being sick (especially as it often seems the only break I get from work!) When I am depressed, he wraps his arms around me. 

But it doesn't make the sickness or the pain go away. 
 
Even in this respect, as in all others, the sexism ingrained in all of us often shows up. Men are supposed to take care of partners and daughters and mothers by providing for them and ensuring an adequate and continuous stream of earnings. (Sisters, not so much, because their husbands and sons are supposed to be providing for them.) Women are supposed to be taking care of husbands and fathers or in-laws by cooking and cleaning and nurturing. (If she also has a job, well, that's great in 'broad-minded' households, but that shouldn't take precedence over her family.)
 
I go so far sometimes as envying women my age whom I see staying at home while their husbands work. (I'm not even considering mothers here. Parenting - especially of young children - often seems like a full-time job. There's of course the question of why it's almost always the mother who quits her job to be a full-time parent, but that's a separate issue.) Sometimes, especially after a stressful day at work, I wish I could sit at home and cook and clean and read instead of worrying about getting that document completed on time. 
 
But those are moments of weakness. If I were alone, I would provide for myself. Why should I be weaker or less capable if I have a partner? 
 
Not to say I would never consider taking a break from a full-time job. But I wouldn't embark on that with the thought that after all, it's the Guy's duty to provide for us and what I do is just an 'extra'. My work is as important to me as the Guy's is to his. I am immensely grateful to have a partner who understands that, who finds it easier to understand and like me because my priorities are similar to his. 
 
But even leaving the sexism aside, why should we expect anyone - a partner, a friend, a relative - to take care of us? To help out in tough times, yes. Everyone needs a helping hand once in a while. But once we are adults, shouldn't we take charge of our own lives?
 
We move out and stop depending financially on our parents. We start cooking and doing our own laundry (well, many of us do). Why then expect to start depending on another person again, because we're in love with them or have married them?
 
I know I depend on the Guy maybe much more than is healthy for me. I hate going out alone, running errands alone. I am happy doing the laundry at home, though. So we both often end up doing tasks we are comfortable with. It might be comfortable, but I admit it's probably not the best way. 
 
I hated it when the Guy went away last year. I had a tough time. I hated being alone. I had a couple of bad experiences and ended up being scared and angry. 
 
But I also felt a kind of peace I hadn't felt in years. I remembered why I had loved living alone, I remembered how much I enjoyed the solitude and the silence. 
 
And I remembered how liberating it feels to do everything for yourself, even though I hated dragging myself to the doctor when I hardly felt well enough to walk. 
 
But as I'd said to myself what seems many years ago, when I was a teenager, I want my love to make me stronger, not weaker. 
 
The Guy and I derive so much joy and comfort from being with each other. But comfort can weaken by making you secure and lazy. We want to drive each other to be the best we can be. We slip sometimes, but that is what the goal we strive towards. 

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Work

It's been four years that I have been working full-time. On one hand - yay, I survived four years in the 'corporate world'! On the other - ONLY four years? How many more do I have to do this?

Work is such an important part of my life, of who I am and how I feel about myself. I am sure this is true for most of us.  

I have written about how I always longed for financial independence. I didn’t feel like a complete person, much less an adult, without it. 

And in my first full-time job, at once I found fulfillment and financial independence. I found I was good at my work, that my colleagues and superiors appreciated me, that I enjoyed what I did. I seemed to earn just enough to make ends meet – but hey, I lived alone, I earned for myself! It was like I had finally entered the grown-up world, and was thoroughly enjoying it.

At the same time, my personal life wasn’t that great. I seemed to have made a mess of my life and wasn’t sure if I could extricate myself from it. But when I went to work, I left all that behind and became a competent professional. My job was my refuge.

It helped of course, that I had some great colleagues. My first boss, who is the person I’ve admired most professionally, and who I’m still friends with. Another young woman who’d joined a year before me and from whom I learned a lot. Another guy who I worked with (rather, who was my project manager), and who I’m also still friends with. All extremely competent and professional people, whom I learnt so much from.

So - unlike many other people - I loved working. I was scornful of people who complained about having to work, who looked back yearningly at college days. “I am much happier now,” I used to say. “I don’t work as hard as I did in b-school and I actually get paid for it.”

Since then, I have had some difficult times at work. On the other hand, I have the Guy, and my personal life has been stable and very happy for the last three years. I am in my third job now, and most of the time, I love what I do. I love that I can use my love of writing in my work. It was something I had hoped for, but hadn't thought I would achieve. 

There is a long way to go yet, a lot to do. The way ahead seems misty often and I am not sure which way to turn. But it's always been like that, and that is part of the adventure. 

What does work mean to you? I tag Chandni,  AachalBanno,  Praveen, and the Guy to answer this. 

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Does That Make Me Gay?

Amit Varma points us to this quiz that will - hold your breath - tell you whether you are straight or gay!

Now I took the quiz and it declared I am straight, but then I took the quiz meant for men.

Does that make me gay?

Thursday, March 05, 2009

A Day Is Successful If It Has Any of:

  • a little joy
  • some peace
  • some rest
  • a lesson learned
  • an achievement
So tell me, what did your day have?

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Obsession

You haunt every breath, every moment. When I sleep, I can see you, smell you. Yet I cannot touch you, just as I cannot when I am awake. You flitter away when I reach out, yet you do not go far. You tantalize me, staying out of reach but making it impossible for me to forget you, even for a moment. Whether I am awake or asleep, you haunt me.

And you call me the stalker.

I wonder what would happen if we died, together, at the same moment. Would your breath and mine mingle, unite, and rise up together? Wouldn’t we then, be together, inseparably, irrevocably?

But how can that happen if I can’t go near you?

Maybe tomorrow you will go to that little deserted temple across the park again. You haven’t been for two weeks, but then you haven’t seen me in that time either. I know you love going there. I can wait there, in my hiding place on the tree, and wait for you tomorrow, the next day… till you come. You might bring your sister like you did a few times. But I can wait till you come alone. Or maybe – it won’t matter if she’s there. I am strong – and by the time she fetches help, it will be too late.

I don’t have a gun, but I don’t want one. Guns are so efficient, so unemotional. I will take a long, sharp knife and plunge it straight to your heart so that it doesn’t hurt much. You will look at me, perhaps, with surprise. But I won’t have time to lose and will use the knife again. Blood will flow straight from your heart, red with passion, and blend with mine. We will fall to the earth; our breaths will mingle and rise up to the heavens in an erotic dance…