Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Movie Time
Had two full free days. Exams finished on Monday and classes do not start till thursday. This I guess is the first time I had so much free time on my hand after coming to IIML . So saw a few movies "Full Metal Jacket" - The first half was quite good, especially a foul-mouthed marine instructor. The second half drags a bit, it is the same old Vietnam quagmire.
Another movie was Ijazaat. a brilliant Gulzar movie. Most of the screenplay takes place in a spartan railway waiting room in a God-forsaken station. It is about the meeting of a divorced couple Naseer and Rekha and about the complications of married life. Amazing songs like "katra katra" and "mera kuch samaan" and superb acting from the protagonists. Cameo appearances by the Kapoor brothers.
Another movie was the Dreamworks cartoon Madagascar, average stuff. But entertaining. It is about four New York zoo animals, who get marooned in Madagascar. The voice overs given by Ben Stiller(Lion) and David Schwimmer(Giraffe). The plus points are the native animals the Lemurs and their king Julian the 13th with an hilarious Indian accent, there is one ludicrous Mtv grind style rollicking dance scene, with catchy music. There are some puns on other movies like the Bo Derek bikini scene, with the hippo coming out in a bikini made up of crabs.and the deadly penguin gang who hijack the ship and take it to antartica to have cold sushi for breakfast, a spalding football from the tom hanks movie castaway.
The name Madagascar is appealing it surely has an exotic touch to it. It is one of the
least explored places in the world. Would like to see some documentary on it on Nat Geo or Discovery.
Have a few more movies lined up in the next two days.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Conquest Of Happiness

I had read a book on happiness called "Conquest Of Happiness" by Bertrand Russell. One of my few forays into philosophy. Russell was truly a polymath (term I got courtesy Word-A-Day list), he possessed such a wide range of knowledge it is unbelievable, also one of the rare literary people who were great in maths and science. Russell wrote a definitive mathematical treatise called Principia Mathematica somewhat inspired from Newton's seminal work Naturalis Principia Mathematica.

In this book on happiness which would be among his lesser known works he first delves into the causes of unhappiness, he calls it Byronic unhappiness after the poet Byron, due to the melancholia of his works and his basic premise that life is not a pleasant experience and is a burden to be endured, essentially the Victorian repression mentality . Some of the causes Russell listed down which lead to unhappiness are competition, alternation of boredom and excitement, fatigue, envy, sense of sin, persecution mania, fear of public opinion.

Then he gives the factors that lead to happiness: Zest, affection, family, work, impersonal interests(hobbies) ,effort and a sense of resignation like a fakir.Though I feel factors like family and work can also be cause of great unhappiness. He also elaborates on both sides of the coin. But he says these factors if worked upon can give satisfaction and happiness.

Some other interesting points he makes with which I agree are that; monotony is good for children, too much change makes one insecure as an adult, Children shouldn't undergo frequent flux,for a child one day exactly like another is quite satisfying, unlike for adults. I am sure most of us can easily relate to this.
As a child I liked doing a fixed set of things, and enjoyed doing them, and looked forward to it. Didn't make a difference if I did it day-in and day-out. Like playing with my Lego set, unassembling a structure I made and remake the same numerous times, play with my tennis racket hitting the wall, going out to the garden with my toy-gun and pretending I was a commando, climb trees. Take out my cycle and race against imaginary opponents, chase butterflies, catch fish from the nearby storm drain. I liked to be alone in my own world. Liked eating the same type of food, didn't like too much variety in my grub, didn't like meeting new people or going off to new places. (Hey, I am beginning to sound like I was a weirdo as a child, or a lot like Jack Nicholson in As Good As it Gets) . But currently I find all the above things so alien with my personality, I have undergone a transformation I guess , but there are circumstantial factors underlying all these. Will try to do some more soul-searching later.

Coming back to Russell, another thing he says is that, too much passive entertainment becomes
addictive like a drug, more and more will be required. How true it is if we see the current generation hooked on television and video-games (though some may call gaming as active, but what I feel is that still it is an artificial stimulation, and obviously addictive).
He gives an example of Sherlock Holmes and talks about how intense his interests and passions were. But I would like to disagree, Holmes had an unique life, he had a zest about his work but he always came across as brooding and contemplative. Joie-de-vivre was lacking in him. Infact Watson seemed to be the more happy chap.
Also Russell says that one should have an interest in people and try to have a variety of experiences in life to find happiness.
Finally he ends with a quote. "Happiness lies in a personality 'neither divided against itself nor pitted against the world' and the ability to swim with the stream of life".

I am Back
Been quite long since I posted something. Not unusual for me. A combination of laziness and work and other priorities. I must have thought numerous times, mostly while sitting in the class and feeling distracted; that I should write on so-and-so topic, but by the time I am in front of the computer later that inspiration is gone, and there are dozens of other things on my mind. (Infact I wrote this post also over a week!).
The fourth term is at full swing out here. The summer internship in Bangalore was a breeze compared to this. Really miss the weather of Bangalore but am glad to be relieved of the traffic. Lucknow was a steaming cauldron when I came here. Went for a purchase of a desert cooler pronto. But unfortunately after a couple of days the skies opened up. So the money for the cooler went down the drain along with the rain. It was an accelerated depreciation. Now I use it occasionally only as a fan. The weather here is much better than last year, nice overcast mornings, pleasant evenings but sometimes it gets all muggy and sweaty. That is the time I decide to lug my books and make a sojourn to the library and study in comfort of the AC.
My mid-term exams going on currently. How ironic that I wrote this post in the middle of my exams and didn't find time earlier. But I guess this is the paradox of life . (Oops too strong and irrelevant words, the rustiness of not writing is showing).
Exams went off relatively well, had two exams per day for two days (whew!) . Preparation was adequate, best part was I didn't get nervous or psyched out even once; which happened sometimes in the first year. This is a positive sign and I am proud that I was confident. My marks may not be top of the class but would not be in the bottom half also.