Passive, yet passionate!

When’s the last you tried something for the sheer love of it and by the time you were done, realized that you’d have been better off not attempting it? A passion that took the shade of an ordeal eventually? Obliged your younger friends anytime for a game of cricket for old times sake, and because you were mad about Tendulkar and Dravid during college, when the overriding fact was that you were holding the bat for the first time in many decades? I wouldn’t be way off the mark in guessing you would’ve had not a very easy time holding on to the crease.  Or when fielding, you probably wished hard to see the end of innings at the earliest?

Welcome to the world of forgettable comebacks. If the last time you’d felt great about your crooning was in the school choir, and you had a go at singing recently only to realize that your rendition sounded like anything but the number you had intended to belt, don’t worry much as you are in the company of countless. Oh yeah, we will salute your spirit and read a quick citation to honor your valiant attempt. But the fact remains that, without practice, your first time in ages reminded you of your humble self. Your focus, if I’m not wrong, was on getting through the end of the song, and in bringing some semblance to the original, and not to bask in the thought that you were pursuing your passion. So, though it was a start, it was a terrible one. Why on earth did you have to do it then, if you went unprepared? Probably it was an opportunity you didn’t want to let go, you probably wanted a change from the monotony of the dreary 9-6 weeks, you probably just tried your luck, or it’s also likely that you just wanted to update your Facebook status letting the world know that you sang for an audience! Let’s have you update your status now, stating that you didn’t even get ranked due to the organizers’ inability to accommodate so many hundreds of participants in the list. Maybe you still would, to get some comments, a few empathetic and a few sympathetic, many unobtrusive ‘like’s and an occasional comment of envy.

Very recently, I was in a situation not too different. And no, I’m not going to talk at length about it, as these words will find their way into my blog, which is of course a very important social medium. I have always believed to have quizzing in my blood, inexplicably so. Self anointed quizzer, so to say. OK, let me be fair to myself and tell you that I have won a handful of quizzes, a couple in high -school and a couple in college. Not exactly a handful, you would argue. Countable in no time. Let’s not get into the specifics, please! So yeah, I had that bit of curiosity which got me somewhere then. But as years passed, reading took a backseat and it was only the headlines of the day that I preferred being hit by. Unearthly working hours and hectic schedules, partying and family, and all of that jazz, killed my quizzing instincts slowly but surely.

The Landmark quiz held every year on the First of November is an event true to its name, on the landscape of Bangalore. Suffice to say that I and my mate fit the bill of what one of the teams had brilliantly but inappropriately named themselves as – Insignificant Others. And to think that I compelled my friend to head out with me on a lazy holiday! On hindsight, I figured that I was probably at my meanest best, to have inflicted that suffering on him. Well, so much for the love of quizzing!

So, where does it all leave us? Square one?  Certainly.  Intellectually enriched? Maybe. Inspired. I have my reply. What’s yours?






Up there!

Up in the Air, directed by Jason Reitman, is one of the very few movies of our time that takes an impersonal look at how a job is done by an individual. Reitman is the one who gave us the brilliant “Thank you for Smoking” in 2005, which talked about the efforts of a lobbyist for a multinational tobacco company.

In this movie, Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) has a job that requires him to travel to employees’ offices across the country and fire them. He calls himself a ‘Termination Facilitator’. His organization has to lay off people but would want to avoid the mess of doing it all themselves, and that’s where Ryan comes in the picture. So, does he like what he’s doing? Yes he does, because the job fits his personal profile. He doesn’t want a home, doesn’t want a family. In fact he gives self-help lectures in which he advises people to try and stay free of as much baggage as possible in their life. And his realistic and immediate goal is to earn as many frequent flier miles as possible, by the virtue of his being air borne more than 250 days a year.

This supposedly cool life he’s enjoying appears threatened by the arrival of a bright and ambitious new graduate Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick) who comes up with a revolutionary idea of firing through video chat. This could save the company so many more dollars on travel and living. After considerable debate, it is agreed that both of them hit the road on a few assignments, where he teaches her the ropes.

There’s another woman in Ryan’s life. Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga). She’s also a road warrior, and is in a convenient relationship with Ryan. They meet at available opportunities in hotel suites, have meals together, and act the happy couple without commitment. While it all works for both of them, Ryan’s investment in emotions is yet to come, and he has more revelations lined up for him.

Up in the Air is an extremely well made movie that shows us the way things are, without any sugar coating. Like Pulitzer winning film critic Roger Ebert mentions, the movie ‘takes the trust people once had in their jobs and pulls out the rug’. It is a film almost apt for the time it hit the screens. The great recession of 2008. It’s no surprise that it went on to receive 6 Oscar nominations in the year of its release.