Thursday, January 06, 2011

Soft spot

A few years ago, when Titanic made all the hoopla after it's release, my then fiance called me up and told me how moved he was with the movie. I vowed to watch it with him, and thus, didn't really care to watch it till a couple of years later when we became a couple. Zack and Rose became these larger than life icons of true love and I did sit up and notice Leonardo DiCaprio and of course, Kate Winslett, the porcelain skinned, wholesome beauty. By wholesome, I don't mean chubby. I just mean that she is the perfect balance of a woman who didn't look particularly emaciated or perfectly beautiful. She was this tender, believable and lovable young lady with whom a free spirited boy like Zack would have fallen in love.
I noticed them, and then, like my usual self that cannot be in awe with a single thing for long enough - moved ahead with my life. I have a problem when people ask me what my favorite movie, actor, color, dish, restaurant or book would be. I don't pick favorites I say - or I just say that my favorites depend on a lot of things. For instance, if you ask me what my favorite color is, I'd say - My favorite color on the walls of my living room would be a minty, saga green and on my finger nails would be a nude, pinkish beige and on a sari it would vary from a delicate, organic off white to a deep, enigmatic navy blue. So - you get the idea! I cannot understand when people say their favorite actor is Shahrukh Khan or Paul Newman. I always like to keep my favorites unlocked so to speak. I like a lot of things and why I like them depends on a lot of things, so, I should give Leonardo DiCaprio the credit of holding my attention for a decade into noticing him all because of his one portrayal - and probably his debut - as a mentally challenged brother to a painfully young Johnny Depp. "What's eating Gilbert Grape" is a story that unfolds so realistically on the celluloid, and the raw talent of Leonardo only adds to the depth of the soul of the movie. If I am ever asked what acting means to me, I'd refer to that outstanding performance by Leonardo.
Like I said, I am very non-committal about favorites, but the DiCaprio lad haunts me from time to time. On one such haunting episodes, I googled him recently to find out that he is older to me. So - I can officially declare Leonardo as an actor who is my semi favorite. You might wonder why his being older to me would entitle him to that honor in my books - it is because I look at every one younger to me with an almost motherly attitude - probably because I was only the second oldest in a gang of a couple of dozen cousins and I grew up with these little siblings and cousins around me. So for me to be in awe with someone, that someone has to be older - so luckily for Leo, he still holds that 'soft spot' owing to his year of birth! LOL. My superiority complex would not allow me to look at anyone younger to me with a 'admiration' quotient. I only look at younger people with an older sisterly or motherly quotient.

I named my Nook e-book reader Leo. I'll probably own a sexy car one day and call 'him' Leo. If I get a chance, I'll name a baby boy (other than mine) Leo. Like I said, I don't believe in fanaticism...I just semi believe in it!

Sunday, January 02, 2011


We all seem to have it for certain things and lack it for others. Like I did for color. I had this huge aptitude for color. Actually color and words - and lacked it for spelling. Actually, spelling and numbers ( more for numbers). Right from my first grade, I knew my problem area. I seldom attended the Math class - mentally that is - and the few times I attended it, I didn't make heads or tails out of it. I hard wired my brain to refuse all data involving numbers so it was the biggest academic ordeal to by heart the multiplication tables and even till date, I take the aid of a calculator to do simple arithmetic. I spent the better part of my life hating numbers and proudly proclaiming to be a math atheist but when I look back now, I feel that it was just a mental trick I played on myself due to lack of understanding for the subject. There came a time in my academics when I couldn't afford to not like numbers and it is then that I kind of developed an aptitude for them only to shun them for ever after a deviation in my undergrad to language and literature.
Now I see a "mini me" in the making. My little daughter. She can sit and color and paint and write the alphabet and sing and dance for ever - but when asked to write the numbers, she doesn't refuse to learn but never really learns them the way they are supposed to be learned. "But I want to be an artist" she'd announce and whine and sulk till I let her get away without writing the numbers for me. Determined to make her develop an aptitude for numbers, I employed the logical half of the marriage to teach the kiddo some numbers - it resulted into a "Indian parliament in session" kind of scenario in the household for the past so many days. I see an otherwise cool dad rising his voice and an otherwise peace-loving child getting into wild argument and name calling. Helplessly, I intertwine and give the little lady and ultimatum that if she doesn't learn it form me, I'll look for places that she'd learn it from (read boarding schools)
I still am not successful to make her love numbers as yet, but it is a public promise that I shall - very soon! So all this drama gets me to think - Is there really something called aptitude, or is it just a pretty mask to disguise the laziness to learn things that need more than a quick scanning?? The answer is pretty simple if one ponders about it - just like we blame our mood on things we don't want to do/not do - we do take the pretext of aptitude as well. I once told a very intelligent friend of mine (who happens to be an Ivy league grad and Fellow in technology - that I am technically challenged and I don't really care for it) all this, during an internet chat! He was quick to bite back - "how can you use a medium so fondly and not like it?" he asked! "Liking something is all about making an attempt to know it for what it is" - I hold on to these words like a talisman, and the more I thought about what he said, the more similarities I found in prose, poetry, technology and numbers. writing a computer program is like writing a classic piece of poetry and solving a math problem is like creating characters in a novel - all these acts require brains and creativity. Come to think of it in a "knowing something before loving it perspective - how could I have loved the person I married if I had not made an attempt to know him in the first place? Right?? - Right! - so does aptitude really exist? May be it does - and so does determination, concentration, grit and conviction. I might never enjoy numbers as much as I do words, but that need not be a reason for being ignorant about numbers - so I'd say, inclination should rule over aptitude. It is said that we use only a minuscule part of our brain - may be we can increase the usage a wee bit more and we might not really have anything that we'd not enjoy. And the' girl things' and 'boy things' we divide tasks into is also a hopeless stigma - that is probably the reason why I love women who can repair a computer and men who can make yummy food.
I look back and regret why I didn't love numbers, and why I didn't pay heed to my intensely mathematical sister when she chased me around to teach me exponents. I'd have had a beautiful relationship with them and solving number problems would have probably taught me a thing or two about life itself - as a compensation I promise myself - I'll not let my daughter be a slave of aptitude. She'll know all and do what she loves the most - even if it means that I need to pop in a Tylenol for that stress induced headache to argue with a logic-less toddler over logical numbers. It's all in the game of parenting, living, making mistakes and learning!