13 July 2011

Star gazing

There are many other worse things that I could do. But not too many.

I have been guilty of using most of my blog writing, Fb viewing and other pursuits’ time for watching Hindi serials on Star Plus.

Yes, I admit it. Publicly. Can this be the same person who used to scorn daily serials and rage at reality shows? This is still me. But how have I changed so much?

I don’t know. But it might have something to do with the fact that the shows nowadays are a far cry from the pathetic offerings that were being dished out a few years ago on DD, before I left India, ie, 1990s.

The ones nowadays are almost always well-written and extremely well-presented. They are the movies of the small screen – they have the grandeur and maturity that was so far associated only with full-length feature films. Exotic locales, great costumes and sets, authentic (although only Hindi) accents, lovely large families that celebrate all the Hindu festivals, good strong characters played by talented actors and even dishum-dishum.

So, it’s not surprising that I am trying to assuage my pangs of homesickness or movie-sickness with Star Plus.

Of course, not all the serials or shows are great. The reality shows, although very well presented, will still be reality shows, ie, totally fake. And there will always be serials where the only focus is the maamiyar-marumagal (or to give it the Hindi equivalent of saas-bahu) relationship and both the storyline and characters are more negative and stereotyped than required.

But I give these a wide berth.

And then, there are also the serials that change tack mid-way. From perfect watchable ones, they suddenly become completely unbearable. The characters become flawed, weakened and unbelievable. I switch off.

Earlier, not knowing Hindi could have been a possible drawback (not for me, though). But now, there are sub-titles for all the shows, full of horrible translations, grammatical errors and wrongly spelt names (eg, ‘Sudha bhabhi’ becomes ‘sister-in-law Sudha’ , Akshara is Aksha, etc*shudder*) . Even so, good enough to let you know what is happening.

My only grouse is that Star gazing takes up too much precious time and leaves me with next to no time for my other activities, as I’ve already said.

So what do I do? Of course, being a woman, I multitask (*sigh of relief* at least I have that choice). Fb + StarPlus or housework + Star Plus or Skype + Star Plus and sometimes even reading + Star Plus.

There aren’t possibly many other worse things that I could do to while away my non-existent free time. But at least, I am relaxed doing this.

I almost shed tears of joy when Akshara’s saas praises her. I hold back my tears when Khushi shivers in the cold, while doing her arrogant boss’s bidding. But since I know that they are going to fall in love with each other, I forgive him. I pity Devyani, who has to hide the secret that her son is gay, from her philandering husband. etc etc.

Aaaah, show me an Indian who doesn’t love a spicy sentimental story, and I will show you a freak!

27 April 2011

A literary irony

One of life’s little ironies. My life’s little ironies.
I was born and brought up in Tamil Nadu, in a Tamil speaking family. But strangely, possibly due to a combination of circumstances, while growing up I had minimal exposure to Tamil history, classics etc.
While my family did their bit to fill their gaps, I grew up to be a very slow reader and writer of the language, as I did hardly 5 years of study in it. What I missed almost completely was Tamil Literature.
While cousins who were into it tried often to tempt me into reading some novel that had impressed them, I baulked, mostly because the speed at which I read Tamil would have meant that it would take me AGES (and that’s no exaggeration – I used to take about 15 minutes to read one page of printed Tamil) to finish any of those bulky tomes that they favoured.
I remember making only one exception: it was a book called Nainda Ullam by Anuthama. Although completing it was a laborious process, I did it for two reasons: it was recommended by a favourite sister and once I started reading it, I liked it, so wanted to read more.
Either way, after that (sometime when I was in school), I read hardly anything in Tamil apart from the barest minimum.
After my graduation and journalism course, work in an English newspaper surprisingly, brought Tamil back into my life. Translating press releases from the state government (ie, crap) into English had one benefit. It re-familiarised me with reading Tamil again. And since then, I’ve somehow or the other managed to keep myself fairly upto speed with Tamil. After moving to NZ, I’ve made a conscious effort to do this.
Now, getting to the purpose of this whole rambling post: one of the novels which I kept hearing people talking about but had never read was a novel of epic proportions, called ‘Ponniyin Selvan’. I don’t know why, but the name has always fascinated me. When I was younger, I didn’t know that Ponni was another name for the Kaveri or that Ponniyin Selvan was how people referred to Raja Raja Cholan (shocking I know, but I am telling it like it is). But there was something almost mystical about the title of the book.
To cut a long ramble short, I seldom had the opportunity to read this epic and on the rare occasions that I did, the sheer size put me off (2400 pages, divvied up into 5 volumes). Up until now.
But after all that, I am finally reading this novel now. In NZ (oh, another irony for sure). I’ve finished four chapters. The wealth of history in the novel is staggering. The characters it describes are inspiring.
And while I am sure I don’t know how long it will take me to finish all five volumes, I know that this time, I will. All good things take time.

13 April 2011

Aaaargh, I may as well be dead for all the writing I've been doing lately on my blog. Fb is one culprit, but not the only one...