Finding Ramona Flowers

Here’s the thing about Scott Pilgrim. There really are no ideals in the book. Every person has a flaw. Nobody is too good to be true. And the girl of Scott Pilgrim’s dreams (literally) is more damaged than my brother’s ten-year old Transformer after I was through with `fixing’ it….when I was nine, I believe. Of all the weird, out of the box fiction I read, this may be the most normal. Fine, the moon has two holes in it and whatnot, but honest.

More than The Alchemist, this might be the true story about following your dreams. For one thing, it strives to tell you that the world does not conspire to make your dreams come true; you have to earn them. There is much more to the books than indie culture, rock and video games. And I am not taking anything away from these classy bits of pop culture in it.

But, as Gregory David Roberts put it, Scott Pilgrim starts with a woman, a city (Really? Toronto?), and more than a bit of luck. And here it is so vastly different from that other great Murty recommendation, (500) Days of Summer, that I am surprised that he ever watched both of them without doing that thing that all littas worth their salt do- spot the differences.

The part I like about the book is that there is no ideal person, and definitely no ideal couple. Ramona Flowers is as fickle as people can get, and has more than her share of well-deserved guilt. The reader goes “Finally, a girl who is as messed up as I am! Yaay!”. No, you perv, not that way. She is a cartoon. Get over it.

But think about it. If you leave aside children, how many female lead characters have actually been portrayed as humans rather than angels? Scarlett O’Hara comes to mind. Anna Karenina was`unfortunate’, not `bad with decisions’. Paulo Coelho’s ladies are always cleverer than all the Nobel prize winners combined. Jane Austen’s heroines are near perfect and are `complemented’ by their significant other. Our beautiful ladies of pulp fiction have a pretty one-dimensional character, though I can’t say the same of their characteristics. And Shakespeare himself created Juliet, Cordelia, Portia and Ophelia. Female perfection has been so beaten to death that the main reason male literary  critics remain bachelors can be attributed to their single-minded pursuit of the ideal, `el uno’, `the one’.

So, fie to you, Shakespeare! In the pursuit of uncovering the dark male psyche, so much has been glossed over when it comes to the female psyche. And though my favourite philosophers are those whose works I have never read, this may be the true reason behind why people wonder `ladki kyun ladkon si nahi hoti?’.  That, and too much wine. But more on that from our senior correspondents.

Scott Pilgrim was about how the titular character comes to terms with growing up and finding love, and that was pretty straightforward. But it was also about how every person, male or female, is intrinsically flawed. It is about how to put up with these flaws, to make things work despite them. And it is about how beautiful girls may have an ugly side. So much has been said about looking past looks to truly connect with a person that it has been forgotten that what lies beneath may be what you want to avoid, and why you must not. It is a book about redemption, and forgiveness, for all those small mistakes we make. About how love is not something that is taken, but given, and how nerds like the people reading this are not very far off from the average person.

So, dear reader, off you go to buy the first volume from the nearest book store. And if you find all this gyaan tiresome, as no doubt many will, you can always take away the beautiful little Mario references from your thousand odd bucks well spent.


The Technological Singularity

Now,  it is a vending machine pocketing your change. Tomorrow, Skynet would have put all that money into creating a Summer Glau look alike who can take you out while you are still gasping.

Be warned.

That odd person who gets me….or at least my taste in food

“….like many vegetarians, I like my food spicy. This is mysterious to many people, the same ones who also assume that vegetarians must be pacifists and partial to clothes made out of hemp. As a result, I have suffered more tasteless meals than the sins of my previous lives merit.”

– Suketu Mehta

The caveat, of course, being that I am generally a worse cook than the ‘vegetarians’  here.

P.S. Pineapples in chhole, anyone?

P.P.S. My latest clashes with the lecturer (who, incidentally, is my advisor’s wife): After I rebuffed her claim that ’30 Rock’ remains one of the best shows on TV, she appalls me by subscribing to tofu. Yes, she’d be a vegetarian. Oh, the horror.

On demand

Now Lefty’s done it. Blogger’s menopause, eh? I suppose it hardly occurred to you that between sem breaks is about the only time I get to talk to people on a regular basis. Don’t worry. I plan to keep you occupied for the next week. Or not. Sem begins Tuesday. Sigh. ‘And when thou shalt finally get thy research to go somewhere, the course load shalt descend and hit thee like a ton of bricks.’  Add to that apping, grapping, and visapping.

The sun keeps getting up drowsier in the morning as the year wears on, and I am an obliging companion in lethargy. The wave of bright new faces brings an air of nausea, and the familiarity of a lab all to myself shall be missed. There is a sprightliness to people’s steps that I find hard to believe PTV shall ever share. In any case, I hope with all my heart that, a year on from today, I can meet him somewhere in the middle of the Grand Canyon, brandishing a lightsaber (apologies to Banga, but you might still find this amusing) and confront him with Vader’s first lines to Kenobi in the original movie. To borrow from Banga’s archives, High Hopes? Or Comfortably Dumb?

But back to Lefty’s whines. I know we have had our (time) differences, but we can work it out. For your entertainment. Before you leave for the land of chocolates and Tintin. You monster.


The Bombay theme from the film by the same name (going by wiki convention), is probably only piece of instrumental music that renders me unable to do anything else but listen to it. The piece is a roughly broken into 3 parts, using a flute as a prelude, proceeding to the much deeper, stringent strain of a full orchestra, with heavy bass.

Much has been written about this piece of music, and before Jai Ho and a dozen others ruined it for the rest of the world, it was A.R.Rahman’s signature, his magnum opus. It became so ubiquitous that there is actually a basis now for a Zidane-Rahman number. Its theme has been classified as sad, morose, helpless, hopeful, serene, marking a beginning, and more. Who am I to judge the great critics who took it upon themselves to analyze an almost abstract piece of art?

And what about me? To a person who believes art exists for art’s own sake, there are no meanings to the piece. There is simply a feeling, a touch or hint of what you should create in your mind after listening to it. To my surprise (a long time ago), there was nothing evoked by the piece. There it was. Nothingness. Tejo would call it black, but it was more white, a white board rather than a slate. There were no irregularities in the surface, a smoothness matched by that thin film of water over flat marble, extending as far as the mind could see. There is was, the hidden message so many searched for. It is ours to begin, and ours to destroy. And what happens when you feel all is lost and find the frame corrupted by the machinations of your own mind? Why, you listen to the music again, of course.

P.S. 42. Need I say more?