Monday, June 22, 2009

The Secret Life of Bees

Okay, I have to admit -- it has been a very long time since I absolutely relished a book like this. I lingered over this book enjoying the author's writing style and the beautiful, vivid imagery she conjured up! A story about one girl's longing for her mother, it is about the strength of sisterhood, the ability to heal and move on in life.

Some of my favorite quotes --

“You know, Lily, people can start out one way, and by the time life gets through with them they end up completely different.”
This one made me laugh. I remember, when we were kids, people used to ask my brother and I this question all the time. I came up with cluelessly staid answers ("Doctor", "Engineer" etc..) while my brother would say something startling like "Motorbike" or "Race car".

You think you want to know something, and then once you do, all you can think about is erasing it from your mind. From now on when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I planned to say Amnesiac.”
This one resonated with me.
“There is nothing perfect,” August said from the doorway. “There is only life.”
“For starters, everything was blue. Bedspread, curtains, rug, chair cushion, lamps. Don’t get the idea it was boring, though. She had ten different shades of it. Sky blue, lake blue, sailor blue, aqua blue -- you name a blue. I had the feeling of scuba diving through the ocean.”
“A breeze moved through the room from the open window. I walked to it and stared out at the dark fringe of trees by the edge of the woods, a half moon wedged like a gold coin into a slot, about to drop through the sky with a clink”
This one is so true that I found myself nodding in assent.
“People, in general, would rather die than forgive. It’s that hard. If God said in plain language, “I’m giving you a choice, forgive or die,”, a lot of people would go ahead and order their coffin.”
“The month of August had turned into a griddle where the days just lay there and sizzled.”

“There will be a few hundred bees doing laps around the hive boxes, just warming up, but mostly taking their bathroom break, as bees are so clean they will not soil the inside of their hives. From a distance it will look like a big painting you might see in a museum, but museums can’t capture the sound. Fifty feet away you will hear it, a humming that sounds like it came from another planet. At thirty feet your skin will start to vibrate. The hair will lift on your neck. Your head will say, Don’t go any farther, but your heart will send you straight into the hum, where you will be swallowed by it. You will stand there and think, I am in the center of the universe, where everything is sung to life.”

Sunday, June 07, 2009

I like to play with babies. They are pretty irresistible, charming little things with tremendous social skills (which they lose as they grow into a "functional" adult). I never had a second thought about reaching out for a smiling child that had its arms outstretched from his mother's lap. During college days, the bus home was always crowded. Sometimes, standing moms would hand over their children to the person sitting close to them. My friends and I would amuse the baby (and ourselves) by making funny faces to get a laugh out of them. In trains, buses, temples, super-markets, there was no barriers to playing with babies with the parents close by to watch.

All that has changed since I came to the US. The meaning of "touch" has taken on an almost exclusively sexual connotation. And mothers in the US are more fiercely protective of their kids' personal space. I got frowned upon once when I made eye contact with a baby at the mall and smiled at her. The mother almost was about to report me as a sexual predator! The other day, at the supermarket, I saw this really pretty, bouncy baby. I said out loud to the mom, "She is so cute!" and that the mother glared me down! I was so shocked that I just walked away.

I guess everyone is trying to just watch out for their child's well-being and in today's world, with all its perversities, I can relate to that. However, there is something as taking it too far. Interpreting every touch/glance with a baby that happens in full view of the parents as a "sexual" one is terrible, in my opinion. It feels like we are imposing adult-ish notions on a very innocent relationship. These days, if I see a baby, I just give a curt smile or look away for fear of being reported to the police.

Thursday, June 04, 2009


I cried when I saw Maniratnam's 'Nayagan' way back in the early 90s. After that, in 2009, I had tears in my eyes in the initial 20 minutes of Pixar's 'Up'. I expected nothing more than a mindless, fun movie in the true style of animated movies. However, it turned out to be a little more than that offering a peek into human love, dreams and failings. Touching, humorous and fantastic at the same time, I had a great time watching this movie.

Maybe I was feeling hormonal when I watched 'Up' and that is why I am raving about it.. :-) Hormonal or not, go see 'Up' if you get a chance!