Tuesday, 28 February 2017

La La Crap

Am very shocked and surprised at how a film going by the name of "La La Land" picked up so many awards at various film festivals and award ceremonies. I saw a glimpse of a trailer sometime last year and, was not intrigued or curious about it in the slightest sense and was quite confused at how a seemingly bland, pop-candy style song and dance routine made it so far. And, sure enough, as the awards seasons wore on, the film kept picking up awards and accolades. And injury on insult, it got nominated for almost every important category at the Academy Awards. See the clips for the Best Actor and Best Actress categories: the performance glimpses are nothing out of the ordinary. They are neither thrilling nor dramatic, neither mind blowing or difficult. And lo and behold, Emma Stone picked up the Best Actress Award. Her bland, sugary, highly superficial performance in a so-called white-ensemble homage to Golden Hollywood was rated at the same level by maestros like Meryl Streep and Isabelle Huppert. Which Hollywood era was being dug up in nostalgia? One with a completely white cast? Emma Stone couldn't string a sentence together for her acceptance speech. Her speech was devoid of eloquence and emotional gravitas. What was this pimple-faced "junior artiste" doing on stage? Why was she being lauded for this performance over other more senior actors or, more solid performances by Ruth Negga or Natalie Portman? And, why was Viola Davis' performance dumped in the Supporting category? "La La Land" really belongs in the Trump era of mediocrity and harking and barking back to a paradise past which history tells us was not so golden or perfect after all. "La La Land" - without even watching it - is bland, unimaginative fluff; it's airy and pretentious; it's sawdust; it's last year's trend; it's feel good cheesy cheese; it's mediocre; it's cheap instant coffee; it's completely embarrassing. The Academy Awards once again shock and awe film lovers. On one hand they honour and immortalise films but on the other, completely dismiss truly deserving performances and works of art. And it's outrageous they stole "Moonlight's" moment of glory by goofing it up.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Good evening 🌜

Here's another pictorial record of another Monday evening from Monrovia. The three of us walked up to Snapper Hill and, later went for a scrumptious meal at Mama Susu's. 

There are more photographs of folks running up the hill and exercising against the background of the Masonic Lodge, a building I have photographed dozens and dozens of times. The building is almost always present in all my favourite photographs. 

No matter how shabby and small Monrovia can feel, it's a colourful and photogenic town. 

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Where was once a giving tree

I am finally back in my routine since I took on the new day job at International Alert. I came home in time for Kavita and I to go for our evening walk. Haresh was still working so he couldn't join us. Kavita and I set off on our familiar route. 

We stumbled on a lot of trash and I think I'm going to start taking lots more pictures of trash and garbage where ever I go. See some earlier posts of trash: Evening walk on a trashed Mamba Point beach and Beautiful Islamabad

After this, I passed by half of a tree trunk lying on the pavement and, realised the tree had been mowed down. I felt enraged and felt like I was looking at a corpse. 

It used to grace UN Drive with its shade and vines. It was as Shel Silverstein wrote, "a giving tree." And, guess what it made way for? A Voter Registration Centre, a technical and almost soulless process in modern democracies (rich and poor) which have been reduced to electoral theatre of vote buying, propaganda and lies.

We carried on and stopped at the top of Benson Street Hill to snack on our sugar canes and bananas we had bought along the way. 

I was not in a mood to stretch or do some exercises, but Kavita did some crunches and jumps, excited by all the other folks on the hill. 

It got dark and we walked down the Hill. I stopped at Saksouk to buy yoghurt and a Snicker bar for Kavita. I've stopped so many times at Saksouk at the end of my evening walk to buy yoghurt and then to cross the street to buy vegetables like aloo or bhindi to cook for dinner, for those days when I don't feel like making murghi or gosht

I need to correct myself and say that the Snicker bar was for me and, Kavita chose Skittles. 

You can see her above with a packet of Skittles by the sabzi wali ladies. It's ironic that one will never see women selling sabzi in Islamabad but in Monrovia, it's mainly women who are marketeers. 

At home, Kavita kept trying to make me eat her Skittles and, I convinced her to stop by telling her a story. I told her that when I and my family lived in Bucharest, my Uncle visited us from the United States and brought us a truck load of Skittles. I ate them for breakfast, for lunch and even for dinner. I shared them with my friends and teachers. I ate so many that I got sick of them and haven't eaten any since 1993. She intently listened to my story (as she does with all my stories of childhood escapades). 

Monday, 13 February 2017

Kavita's first day of school πŸŽ’ 🏫 πŸ“š

So, Kavita finally starts school despite my resistance. All around and everywhere I was resisting the idea of sending my little child to the rat race for conformity, to private spaces where education is commodified, expensive and, its seemingly friendly and harmless space far out of the reach of ordinary children.  I didn't quite understand what the rush was to put Kavita in such a structured format and routine. Couldn't all this be delayed for now? What are they teaching these little kids? Rocket science? Shakespeare? But all my protests came to an end since I started a new day job at International Alert. Kavita's new school, Kid's Nest, is a few minutes away from my office. It just made sense for her to start school. And, guess what? She loves it.