For the past month or so, I have been quite busy. I wanted to write about a lot of things but ended up missing them. So, here I am trying to pen them down, in no particular order.
The Madras I had ignored: August is the month of Madras. If there is an ideal month to visit this southern coastal city, it is August. The city turned 377. There were several events lined up. I happened to attend a session called Houses of Mylapore based on L’s suggestion. We had met at a spoken word poetry event. She had invited me to be a part of this unique program where a group of architecture students from the city would explore the architecture of the houses in Mylapore. We often convince ourselves that we pretend to know the city we live in for a considerably long time until we venture to discover things we have failed to notice. There were about forty of us on an early Sunday morning. We started with an individual house constructed somewhere in the 1930s. The house with a curved motif and a hexagonal balcony seemed heavily influenced by Portuguese architecture. I wish I could delve on this longer for I would have to speak about the Burma teakwood or the Mangalore brick tiles or the Art Decko font style but for now, they shall stay in my diary. But there were a few things to take away from that event. I came to understand how the Indian architecture was more influenced by being open-faced and welcoming than European architecture, which was more self-centered and closed. Unlike what others presume, Mylapore isn’t a Filter kaapi preferring – The Hindu reading – TamBrahm community either. Muslims and Jains have lived peacefully over centuries. On the other hand, I also realized how architecture is essential in preserving the cultural history of a city. In a few months or a few years from now, most of these ‘old’ houses would be gone. Unfortunately, not many seem to care about it. How can a city cut ties with its past? Where would the memories of a city be preserved? Photographs are merely a way of escapism. Shouldn’t we look beyond religious places of worship to keep the ‘old’ Madras intact?For raising awareness and provoking questions we have failed to ask, I loved the session.
Taking control of my Phone: I happened to meet my online friends in Bangalore back in July. We have known each other for more than a year now but never had the chance to meet. We had fun (the kind of fun that ought to be better preserved in the treasure chest of memories). But S, a dear friend of mine, mentioned that I spent a lot of time checking my phone. And so, I have had it at the back of my mind to restrict my phone usage. There were other reasons too. Most notably when I noticed a disturbing pattern that has always been existent but one which I consciously admitted to myself just recently, as kind of misleading. During the 2016 Rio Olympics, there was a news item doing the rounds that when P V Sindhu won the silver, Indians were googling for her caste. I understand that my country is caste-sensitive and no matter how hard filmmakers like Nagraj Manjule and Pa. Ranjith try to fight the caste oppression through their films, the problem is not going to run away soon. Later, my friend M pointed out to me a blog which said that the news item was false. Now, why does the media think it can ‘handle’ the truth? Why does it have to take sides and create divisions? To top it all, the conversations on social media clearly polarized Indians. On the other hand, the Facebook and Twitter feeds are such that a sensitive issue being reported in the media is followed by a meme targeting a section of the society.
One fine day in August, I found this wonderful photo on the Internet and decided to pull the plug. We have been tuned to focus on the unimportant and inessential things in life that we seemed to have misplaced our priorities. I am reminded of a dialogue from Richard Linklater’s 2014 Oscar nominated coming-of-age drama Boyhood. Mason Evans Jr. is driving with his girlfriend, who is frequently checking the phone. He gets annoyed after a few minutes and they have an argument where he tells, ‘I finally figured it out. It’s like when they realized it was gonna be too expensive to actually build cyborgs and robots. I mean, the costs of that were impossible. They decided to just let humans turn themselves into robots. That’s what’s going on right now. I mean, why not? They’re billions of us just laying around, not really doing anything. We don’t cost anything. We’re even pretty good at self-maintenance and reproducing constantly. And as it turns out, we’re already biologically programmed for our little cyborg upgrades. I read this thing the other day about how When you hear that ding on your inbox, you get like a dopamine rush in your brain. It’s like we’re being chemically rewarded for allowing ourselves to be brainwashed. How evil is that? We’re fucked.’ Come to think of it! Social networks have been operating like sugar companies. Now, Facebook has come up with a Live Video feature on its mobile app. Mark Zuckerberg wants you to share more intimate details from your life. He wants you to be more open. Seriously Mark? Therefore, I wiped my mobile clean of all the social media apps. I still use Social Media but would rather control my use rather than have it dictating terms.
Some new hobbies: It has been a long time since I played Chess and so, I actually bought a Chess board. I only watch TV for Wimbledon and Cricket. Occasionally, I give company for my parents when they watch comedy scenes during our family time. Now, I pulled my dad into playing Chess with me instead. We are trying to play it every night and schedule it into our daily routine. I have also taken a liking to Podcasts. I realized that I will never get to read all the interesting books out there. So if you are unable to read books, listen to interesting people discuss ideas instead. I downloaded this wonderful app called Pocket Casts which is all of just 99 Rupees. And once you download, you get to listen to any Podcast of your choice. My favourite ones so far being:-
Design Matters with Debbie Millman — It is a wonderful podcast where she talks to writers, artists, educators and change agents on their work and ideas. I happened to love her podcast with philosopher Alain de Botton on his books on Love and his philosophy.
The Frame — This podcast is hosted by longtime LA film writer John Horn who talks to the people from the Hollywood Universe, art, and music. The reason why I have come to like his podcasts are because they are more centred towards the profession/arts.
Scriptnotes — Screenwriters John August and Craig Mazin discuss screenwriting and related topics in the film and television industry, right from the writing to topics like copyrights. If you are a screenwriter or even a writer, this is a podcast you must definitely listen to!
The Portfolio Life with Jeff Goins — I have been following Jeff Goins on Medium and read his articles on writing regularly. I have tried to put into practice his words of advice for writers. In this podcast, he helps you in trying to make a difference with your art. He engages in conversation with interesting people from different walks of life. While this may sound like a boring self-help talk, Jeff Goins at least doesn’t take a boring approach to it and makes us feel inspired. here are many more interesting ones to listen to
I find that listening to podcasts as a liberating and enriching experience. I generally listen to it right after I wake up or after work. It makes me feel inspired as there is always a thing or two inspiring to take away from. A 16-minute podcast of John Horn with Amy Adams at the Telluride Film Festival where she was awarded for her body of work taught me how theater played an important role in making her self-dependent and how she goes methodically preparing for her role. There are many more interesting ones to listen to and I am trying to unearth some really good finds. Will post about that in my next post.
But for now, I shall have to make time for my Podcast Hour and solitude! 🙂