Posts Tagged Family

WRITING CHRONICLE #18: A note on Contest Submission & other accomplishments

Via: Daily Prompt – Unmoored

 

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So Friday I finally submitted my story for the Amazon UK Kindle Storytelling contest, as I had mentioned in last month’s blog. My planned 20K-word novelette turned into a 34,480-word project. You must be thinking, ooh… an editing crisis, right? Not so much, I hope. I kept everything that was relevant to get the story to the finish. I stuck to the plot outline, scripted only the scenes necessary to develop my characters, and did not embellish on the descriptive narratives. I stayed 100% flourish-free. At least, I tried.

This is how I can break down my work on this submission:  Read the rest of this entry »

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WEDNESDAY REFLECTION #17: English Vinglish starring Sridevi

Via: Daily Prompt – Pursue

english_vinglish_ver2Title     English Vinglish

Starring     Sridevi, Adil Hussein, and Mehdi Nebbou

Director     Gauri Shinde

Writer(s)    Gauri Shinde

Genre     Comedy Drama Family

Release Date     October 05, 2012

Filming Location     NY, NY, USA; Pune, Maharashtra, India

Parental Guidance     PG

IMDB Rating     7.9

Synopsis: Shashi (Sridevi) is a dedicated wife, loving mother, dutiful daughter-in-law, and an efficient homemaker. She is also a small time entrepreneur, filling orders for celebration sweets from her home kitchen, and her laddoos are to die for. But her talents and individuality are overshadowed by the responsibilities she fulfills for her family; her gracious and unassuming personality has only enabled them to take her for granted. She is often ridiculed by her preteen daughter Sapna (Navika Kotia) and corporate husband Satish (Adil Hussein) for her inability to converse in English and very traditional manners, with only her mother-in-law (Subha Deshpande) to sympathize and younger son Sagaar (Shivansh Kotia) as a source of solace. And while she accepts the indignities with a pinch of salt, she is observant and is fully aware of what is lacking in her life. She believes if she learns English, she will belong better. When her elder sister Manu (Sujatha Kumar) invites her to the USA for her niece’s wedding, Shashi finds herself navigating a new world and discovering independence despite her language barriers. She finds a friend in Manu’s younger college-bound daughter Radha (Priya Anand) who encourages her to explore her potentials and give in to her desires. A chance observation at a bus stop takes her to a four-week English course, where Shashi finds a host of new friends and one potential romantic diversion Laurent (Mehdi Nebbou) whose admiration of her is apparent to all.

Experience (some spoilers to tempt you): This is one of those movies that capture the everyday life and the characteristics of the human soul with acute awareness. Nothing world shattering transpires other than the transformation of a woman through her ability to recognize the void in her life and mustering the courage to fill it. With superb acting by the legendary Sridevi in her returning role and excellent effort by the rest of the cast, the movie captures the complexity of Shashi’s dilemmas with the simplicity of her personality.

Gauri Shinde, film’s director and screenwriter, does not waste time in exposing the conflict in this movie. We straightaway see the efficiency with which Shashi manages her household as well as her business and how her achievements are overlooked. We see that Shashi is a keen observer of her surroundings, she is conscious of the injustice in her life, and that a lack of confidence stops her from righting the wrongs committed against her. The abuse is cruel though not always intentional, but it is abuse all the same because it is slowly crippling her very existence.

Alternatively, we see her happiest when she is out delivering sweets to her clients, where her talent is celebrated. We see her attempting to share her joy with her husband but he is too busy to appreciate the value of her accomplishments. Then we see her walk off the resulting disappointment by dancing like Michael Jackson with her young son, who is still too young to be busy for his mom. Shashi’s fears and desires are exposed without any delay, making the story an effortless journey.

Intelligently titled English Vinglish, Shinde uses the traditional take of Hindi speakers to add rhyming suffixes any word to portray English as an active agent in class stratification. Her daughter openly treats her with contempt for her lack of English proficiency unlike her friends’ mothers even though her friends love Shashi’s cooking. We see her worry that her husband may one day tire of her and run off with a more modern woman. We watch her practice correct pronunciations in isolation. We know she needs an English course. It piques the audience sympathy for every step of the way.

Language barrier is a tangible tool in Shinde’s exploration of lifestyle and status quo in both India and the USA. At the same time, we also get to see that if two persons truly desired to communicate with one another, they may understand each other’s needs without even speaking the same language. There are some notable exchanges and moments in the movie that demonstrate its value:

SHASHI TO SHATISH: “Important discussions only happen in English?”

AMERICAN VISA OFFICER TO SHASHI: “How will you manage in our country if you don’t know English?”

INDIAN VISA ASSISTANT WITH TIMELY PRESENCE: “Same way you manage in our country without knowing Hindi.”

Or watching the first time Shashi successfully navigates the subways and streets of NYC and Manhattan to locate the NY Language Center. Or the way she can speak in Hindi to Laurent while he speaks in French to her but they are able to perfectly communicate their individual needs and troubles.

Yet, while language barrier is used as the central tool to explore Shashi’s struggles, the story exposes a more prevalent predicament faced by housewives – that of allowing one’s herself to become lost in the roles. This is not only a lifestyle perpetuated by housewives in India but the world over. We see an underappreciated and often disrespected supermom and cheer for her as she reclaims her individuality. We are pointed out how loved ones can hold her back from reaching her full potential when they fail to appreciate her contributions and talents. How the family for which she sacrifices everything can fail to make her feel like she belongs.

LAURENT: “But your food…” (gestures A-Ok)

SHASHI: “No, no. Your cooking… hotel… expert. I’m… in-house cooking… Very small.”

LAURENT: “Not small, not small. Food is… food is art.”

SHASHI (REFLECTING ON HER HOME LIFE): “Man cooking – art. Woman cooking – duty.”

LAURENT: “Food is love. You cooking with love. Good food. You make people happy. You artist. Not small.”

SHASHI SMILES TO HERSELF WITH SELF-APPRECIATION.

SHASHI TO RADHA: “I don’t need love, I need just a little bit of respect.”

SHASHI’S WEDDING TOAST: “This marriage is a beautiful thing. It is the most special friendship. Friendship of two people who are equal. Meera, sometimes you will feel less. Kevin, sometimes you will also feel less than Meera. Try to help each other feel equal…”

The movie aims to encourage homemakers to take me time for herself and not become a martyr to her family’s needs and demands.

And all through this, Shashi is also presented with temptation in the form of a handsome Frenchman who is a professional chef (sharing her talent) and belongs to her language class (facing her struggle) who can’t keep his eyes off her because he finds beauty in all her actions. We wonder if she will give in, we would even understand if she does. Will she pursue a new life as well as she has pursued a new skill? Her family is her weakness in more ways than one and we wonder if she will seek escape. Nebbou’s personification of kindness is just what Sridevi’s demonstrations of self-awakenings deserve. It increases the tension in a perversely hopeful way.

Recommendation: Well, language barrier to Hindi might put off some audience but this movie can be watched for that very reason – to appreciate cultural differences (I have seen this movie in my hotel room in Bangkok once in Thai). Moreover, stories this valuable if missed is a great miss. I can tell you that it is not the first I have watched it nor will it be the last.

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Andy’s Dad

Via: Daily Prompt – Minimal

“Hi, Dad.” Andy stared into a pair of eyes identical to hers in more ways than just the shade of larkspur and hooded lids. They matched her discomfort too. “Can I come in?”

He shrugged and walked away from the open door to his condo. Andy walked into his Florida home for the first time, closing the door behind her as she tried to rein in her curiosity. Driving up to the complex, walking through the grounds and lobby, riding up the designer scented elevator, she had been amazed by the glamor and upkeep of the property. The inside of her father’s apartment, however, suited more with his lifelong philosophy.

There was something called minimalism and then there was how Allen Tybalt lived.

Growing up with an austere man such as Allen had been challenging every step of the way. His job had their family moving a lot. Even though he was always away for on-site projects, Andy and her mother had to keep accompanying him to new cities every couple of years because Allen insisted that they live as a unit.

Allen had been a power plant engineer, the best in his field apparently. He earned a sack full of salary every month but never allowed Andy’s mother to decorate their myriad of residence as she wanted. Whenever her mother proposed the idea to buy something for their home, Allen would insist the venture unnecessary since they would have to move again anyway. That a family subjected to as many location transfers as theirs be unencumbered by possessions was perfectly logical so her mother never argued. Besides, few people won an argument with Allen.

It was just as well because Andy’s mother died in a road accident when Andy was just twelve years old so she doubted her mother would have gotten much time to enjoy a fully decorated home.

“You have a nice setup here, Dad,” Andy now said, looking around. “Suits you.” Actually, upon closer look, the furniture did appear to be very vogue even if sparse. “I’m not sure how easy it will be to pack the Zeng Fanzhi painting if you decide to move,” she added, staring at the article in question hanging over the long blue crushed velvet couch.

“I hide the money behind that. Besides, I won’t be needing it where I’m going next,” Allen grumbled.  Read the rest of this entry »

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That Old Dude

Via: Daily Prompt – Murmuration & Record

Over the past five years, more and more salt strands have been peeking out of my peppery tresses. I make a point not to hide my premature grays for two reasons: One, I truly do believe they are my wisdom highlights, and B, they help to ward off my archaic relatives’ not-so-subtle-hints on the long overdue marital status. I literally put in efforts toward getting too long in the tooth to become an on-the-shelf spinster. And just when I put my feet up and blow out that sigh of relief, believing that the years of danger have passed, someone ducks their head into our house and asks when am I going to settle down with a nice man. It’s like the record player is broken and plays the same tune over and over again regardless of which album is in the tray. Grr…

Enter That Old Dude. I have never met him before but, apparently, he is a distant cousin of Dad’s who was a big support during his college dorm days. This guy pays a visit yesterday evening (totally out of the blue), tells Mom he’s been hankering for some home cooked fish dish I never heard of (which Mom graciously obliges to prepare), and then presumes to give me a talk on how in his old age it’s a sincere wish to see grandchildren. Seriously, I never met the guy but he is of the mind that my kids (if I ever have any) will be his grandchildren.

I looked at Dad and he sort of shrunk away from my gaze. So I decided to take pity on the general male species for the day. I smiled and asked if the Old Dude did not have children of his own to place this request to. All politeness and murmurs, if you please. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Escape Artist

Via: Daily Prompt – Jiggle

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Image: Zaireen Lupa

Mickey’s spirit was contagious. When he was alive, he would keep our entire household occupied with his antics. Throughout the day, our emotions ran the gamut with admiration, contentment, joy, surprise, vigilance, apprehension, exasperation, submission – all according to how Mickey was behaving at the moment. One thing we never became was bored. Even when he was resting, he would engage our attention by continuously swishing his tail. He had us enthralled.

But oh, boy! did he get into capers! One of the most common scenes in our home was him getting out the balcony or window, his body shimmying through the bars, his bottom jiggling with effort, while we rushed from all sides to grab him before he escaped. “Quick! He’s getting away!” was something every one of us said numerous times a week. He got away every time despite the practice he gave us. He loved the outdoors, our Mickey. And it wasn’t that we wanted to keep him locked in; Mickey just kept getting into scrapes with the neighborhood cats and returning hurt. Mickey was very trusting of others.

The most gullible yet empathetic feline I have ever had the privilege of making acquaintance.

 

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Boo-boo! (01 min read)

Via: Daily Prompt – Baby

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Is there any other baby who warms our hearts as universally as this child? Baby’s Day Out is the stuff classic cinemas are made of. From story to casts to settings, it is one of those synergic movies that never gets boring. Baby Bink and The Villainous Trio take us on a journey where not a moment is spent without entertainment. Is it any wonder that cable TV has been broadcasting it since it came out in the mid-90s?

So I wonder why the heck it has a 5.9 rating on IMDB. I just rated it 10. If you love this movie as much as I obviously do, do stop by and rate it 10 also and let’s see if we can boost it up as it deserves. The link is on the movie title above.

Also… Hello! The kid made the term “boo-boo”, as in pain, into “boo-boo!”, as in a book. Even if it wasn’t for his guileless antics, I was sold. Imma gonna watch it now. Sigh…

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Welcome to the Jungle (02 min read)

Via: Daily Prompt – Squat

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Image: Zaireen Lupa

That moment when you hear the front door open and then the clamorous laughter of that nosy aunt who’s always trying to get you married off to someone from her endless list of prized bachelors drifts your way. You crouch low with ears trained, wondering if your mother will reveal that you’re home – wondering if jumping off the balcony would be too drastic a measure of escape.

Oh no! Your mother has indeed disclosed your whereabout. As you hear the enemy approach, you realize that there’s no second route from your room to the nearest exit of the house. So you run to your brother’s empty room and wait. Hopefully, they won’t think to look for you here…  Read the rest of this entry »

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A Proposal Not In Earnest (03 min read)

Via: Daily Prompt – Aware

“So… there have been talks at home.”

“Talks?”

Sigh. “Yeah. Pressured talks, actually.”

“What’s wrong now?”

“I think we may have to get married.”

Startled laugh. “What? Married?”

Nod. Earnest look. “Yup. This year. Santa’s coming to town.”

“And this is his idea of a gift?”  Read the rest of this entry »

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Pet People

Via: Daily Prompt – Filter

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We were never pet people. Ours was a family compassionate to animals when the situation dictated but never imagined that one day we would have a set among our ranks. However, in the spring of 2009, three little surprise visitors forever changed the scheme of our household as they crept into our hearts and buried their claws deep.

It all started in the month of May when a giant ginger tom kept sneaking into our guest room. Mom had been insisting there was a cat living under the guest bed but, having searched the premises and finding no four-legged critter, we dismissed it as a random incident. But the cat sightings continued and with increasing frequency.  Read the rest of this entry »

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