Friday, 25 December 2009


Four months and two weeks. Time since i got employed.

Almost an year. Time since my last post.

Can't remember. Time since the same ole template!

I suggest a make over for the blog. As you might have already noticed, I've started off with a little edit of the template. Pour in your comments, suggestions, ideas, Hello, Hi or whatever comes to your mind folks.

Wishing everyone Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Back in the midst of books again

My blog has not been updated for quite some time, except for the three links and the copied poem that comprise my last four posts. There is a lot to write about, a lot of things happening, light being shed on new things, and most important of all, I have actually started reading books again.

A colleague at work, with whom I regularly have intellectual discussions, suggested that I read Samuel P. Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. The title of the book should suggest the kind of topics we discuss, if it does not, I will - it's mainly politics and sociology. And he even let me borrow his copy of the book. So I started reading it about two weeks ago, and I have not made much progress. It is certainly not the book and its contents that's keeping me away, it is something else, I will describe soon what.

Two months ago, while blog-trotting, I happened to read As'ad Abukhalil's blog - Angry Arab News Service. As I read more and more about him, I came to teh conclusion that, this was one person who truly believed in what he said. He is a socialist, and like me firmly believes that one day, the land of Palestine will return to its rightful people.
Browsing through the list of books by the Angry Arab, I happened to see the title "The Battle for Saudi Arabia - Royalty, Fundamentalism, and Global Power" and some more digging revealed that it dealt with Wahabbism and its hold on the Saudi regime. My interest in West Asian politics apart, I felt this was a book I want to read. Wahabbism has always been a philosophy that frightens me in a way. As a member of the Muslim community in Malabar, growing up in the 1990's, I have seen and experienced the kind of extreme expression of religion that Wahabbism leads its followers to. Think of a brand of Islam, that labels all the beliefs and traditions as blasphemy/heresy and says the one and only true religion is this crazy ideology that sprouted in Najd in the 1800's and grew up in the shade of Saudi petro-dollars. I have seen communities divided and heard about Masjid's being put under Administration because the over-zealous followers of the imported Wahabbism felt that they needed to take over the community in true styles of their original heroes. Wahabbism for me, is a shade of Islam that is so differerent from the Islam that I have been taught, that I grew up surrounded by, I saw people practice and I myself have tried to practice. The aspect of Islam that is distorted the most by Wahabbism is probably its stress on co-existence and tolerance. I knew I had to read this book.

I went to Landmark at The Forum in Bangalore and placed my order. They didn't have a copy in stock, so they told me I will have to wait. They promised to give me a call when the book arrived. Five weeks later, I hadn't yet received the call and I had to call them twice to get the book. Meanwhile my friend had given me Huntington's book and I had started reading it. But I decided to put it away once I had the Angry Arab's book.

So far, it has been a very good experience. As I turn each page, it reinstates in me the belief that I have always held about Wahabbism - that it is a complete contradiction to what Islam teaches and it is plainly wrong. The information that As'ad has put into his book about the nexus between the Wahabbi theology and the House of Saud is huge. I have not yet finished it, but hope to finish it in two days.

Then I plan to read Huntington's book. After that, it will be  "Mappila Muslims of Kerala, Society and Anti ColonialStruggles" by Dr. Hussain Randathani. It is published by Other Books, Calicut and although I tried, I could not get a copy in Bangalore. I am still in the hunt for the book, I hope to get a copy when I go home for vacation at the end of this month.

Happened to meet one more socialist. The number of socialists I come across at work amazes me. Maybe, socialism is not all dead and buried, after all.

PS: I also read Chetan Bhagath's 2 States. It was the first Chethan Bhagath book that I was reading, and contrary to my perception, the book turned out to be good.

Friday, 18 December 2009

IFFK - '09

Once every year during the hot wintry month of December in Kerala comes the visual treat of movie splendor - IFFK. I chanced upon being part of the fest only twice, but both times it gave me immense pleasure to see the world through the movies.

Being back in hometown only for a brief period and spending the first few days in cinema halls, it almost became a fashion asking me the question- have you come home to watch movies. But if those asking the question had gone for the fest, they would've known why. The film fest took my breath away the first time and didn't disappoint this time too. I got to see just 10 movies this time around, due to various reasons. So I'm not in a position to make any authoritative appreciation/criticism about the fest. But who cares I'm blogging. Now START CAMERA ACTION...

The movies I liked the most were My Secret Sky, Broken Embraces and Rithu. My Secret Sky talks about the life of two children in the farms of Africa after their mother dies. How they come to town to fulfill their mother's dream of entering a hand-crafted mat in a competition. The movie had all the elements - a serious theme, moments of joy, beautiful shots etc.. The spanish master Almodovar is back this year with Broken Embraces. The movie has complicated relationships akin to the directors style. And the whole mesh of relations unravel amongst awesome camera-work. Watching the movie in first row of the theatre, the areal scene in which the camera zooms in onto a car driving in a deserted highway - unforgettable.

Rithu is the latest offering by renowned malayalam film director - Shyamaprasad. The movie tells the story about 3 friends in the current generation mallu youth. Although the movie might not have garnered as much critical acclaim as the directors previous movies, I hold it close to my heart cuz I'm part of that group and could connect with the movie so easily. Some readers might've noticed that I borrowed the title of previous blog from tag line of Rithu. Another movie which I felt is very good is About Elly. The movie captured the tension of characters during a catastrophic incident very realistically.

One thing different from the previous IFFK was that this time we went for desi films too, instead of the all phorein policy. That was a revelation in itself. Watching Thaniyavarthanam and Dev D felt as good as watching movies from abroad. But somehow we failed to catch the French New Wave. The two movies in that category that we saw - Cleo from 5 to 7 and Pierrot goes wild felt pretty ordinary. Cleo had it's good moments, but the comedy in Pierrot was completely beyond us. Looking for Eric is an ok movie, the best parts being replay of goals being scored by Cantona. I'm still confused about the ending of Divine. If someone watches it, please explain.

Overall, the film festival was a very satisfying event. Last time the mix of movies were better cuz we got to see more movies which were purely entertaining. Maybe we got our selection of films to watch a li'l wrong. But that doesn't take anything away from how much we liked it. And would love to watch many more films... next December. CUT!