Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Matrubhoomi - some thoughts

Watched Matrubhoomi a couple of months back. Needless to say, it still haunts me. A movie that starts with a father anxiously waiting the arrival of its child and then drowning that same child in a huge pot of milk, and ends with another child being born, completes a vicious cycle. Both children are girls. One's fate, we are made aware of and the other's is left unknown. We can hope for a good future but do we dare to?
This study has been in the news for a while and is being refuted by the concerned authorities. I guess the authorities can go blue in their collective faces but with reports of men from bihar and haryana paying huge amounts of dowry in order to get married provides its own support to the study.
What matrubhoomi did for me , was hit one fact home , real hard. Women are still considered things. Things to be sold, to be bought. to be used , to be abused and then to be discarded. And till that fact changes, studies like this will be around. Because women will be treated bad , if not killed outright at birth. Makes me wonder if that's the kindest cut of all. It saves them from the later misery.
Won't say more about the movie. It has to be watched.

Monday, January 16, 2006

A midsummer night's dream

Japan is a beautiful country. It's a place that can awe you, intrigue you, and make you go wide-eyed in wonder and yell in frustration. Like any fraternity, it has its own rites of initiation and till you make it in, you can peep in. See, observe, but not understand and therefore remain the quintessential outsider.
And then sometimes, you happen to pass by something, watch, appreciate and before you know you are a part of it. No initiation, or maybe the same rules don't apply. Or the basic human connection is stronger than the artificial barriers of language and race. There are occasions, when my being a gaikokujin (outsider) is not such a bad thing.
Let me tell you about one such occasion, when this outsider, was invited in even if it was for a little while, It felt good to belong.
Mid September last year, I was still at Azabu Juban. When I get off at the subway and start walking home, midway I come across a courtyard kind of thing. I could perhaps describe it better had I been an architect or a better wordsmith. It's a triangular area at the intersection of three roads and it is used as a common meeting ground. Fetes are held here and flea markets are organized here every wkend. Little kids play here in the midafternoon when the sun is out and I've sat here sometimes talking to a friend when both of us have had our drinks and dinner but are yet to be all talked out.So this midsummer evening, I was coming back home and came across this tableau that can only be described as a dream. String of paper lanterns aglow, some elderly men sitting in a tent like structure and talking and outside, elderly ladies dressed in their summer kimonos dancing. A simple rhythm that can easily lull you into a feeling of calm. I had to cross over to the courtyard and watch.
I do have my camera on me when I go out on wkends and I had it with me on this particular day too. When I felt that taking pictures wouldn’t be too intrusive or rude, I started clicking. This lady noticed and paused mid step for a short while so that I could get a better picture. I do need better practise at being a shutter bug

Anyways, sometimes it’s not the quality of the picture but the quality of the experience. And this was a sight that only the lucky like chance upon. So slow simple steps and these ladies going around in a circle. Mesmerizing to watch and I was doing it spell bound till an elderly gentleman said to me, “ You should join. “ That is the stuff my nightmares are made off. I believe I was born with two left feet and all toes. So I just smiled and tried to wriggle out of that one. The gentleman insisted though, “c’mon. It’s easy. “
Time to smile some more, a little in his direction, a little in the direction of the ladies and I was off. This time, really towards home, before I could be hauled off forcibly to dance with these ladies. I’d have done their ego some good!

I still don't know what they were celebrating. Why they were there. What else do they do to celebrate it? That cultural insight is missing. The only consolation is, or so I like to think is that knowledge or lack there off may not necessarily take away from the enjoyment of something beautiful.