Midnight Mass: Is Fear The Only True Emotion?

I was very young when I was watching an interview of a director who made horror movies.

‘Fear is the only true emotion.’

He said. I was too young to even understand this quote, forget about dissecting it. All I knew was there were so many other emotions – love, anger, sadness. This guy probably did not know anything…

I also remember again from my childhood, a person describing someone as a ‘very good person’, followed by ‘God fearing’.  I did not know what God fearing meant.  I was explained.

“Why is that a good thing,” I asked. “How can fear be a good thing? And why should one fear God of all the people! I mean God is not even people, and He is supposed to be good, so why fear Him?” 

“Because if you fear God, you live by moral values.”

This I understood.  Moral values. I knew what that meant. I went to an all girls convent school.  We had a moral science lesson every single day.

What is the connection between fear and horror and moral values and why am I blabbering about all of this?

I binged watched Midnight Mass this weekend.  I had been waiting for this show ever since it was announced. I am not a binge watch person so this means a lot to me.  For the benefit of those who don’t know, Midnight Mass was the latest work of Mike Flanagan, a filmmaker who is best known for his work in the horror genre.  A lot of his previous films and series are on Netflix including Haunting of the Hill House, Haunting of the Bly Manor, Gerald’s Game, Hush, Ouija, Doctor Sleep. A lot of his work is adaptations of Stephen King and Shirley Jackson’s novels.

I have always been a fan of the horror genre.  I don’t like gory, visual horror but more of psychological thrillers. Mike Flanagan’s movies / series are appealing because they have a lot of story and emotion in them.

Midnight mass is new and I do not want to give any spoilers. All I can say is that it is about religion.  It is about miracles. It is about loss.  It is about faith.

But most of all, it is about fear and blind faith and the things one would do to as a result of it.

A sleepy, almost dead town starts to face mysteries and miracles.  Are the people of this town worthy of miracles? Do miracles come at a cost? Some people get to make a choice. For others it is not even a choice.

And yet, the good ones don’t change no matter what happens to them…

For me, Haunting of Hill House was the best. It was also very sad, but it was scary. I can never forget the ‘Bent neck lady’. Haunting of Bly Manor was too slow and painful. Midnight Mass is not for every one.  I surely liked it. It is unsettling. It is painful.  The visuals are breathtaking. Kate Siegel, Mike Flanagan’s wife who acts in most of his movies is stunning.  Her face is both calm and wild at the same time. The acting of the entire cast is superb.  For me, living in that boring town is the real horror, even before anything else happens!! To me, a lady character in that movie looks like a demon more than the actual demon! Wouldn’t name her… I am not trying to be mean, but it just speaks volumes of her acting.  Zack Gilford as Riley is crush worthy. I loved Hamish Linklater’s acting as Father Paul. He is charismatic! His wardrobe was interesting too! Rahul Kohli’s character’s religious plot was unnecessary, forced and propaganda, something Netflix seems to be doing a lot lately. I am surprised there has not been more religious outrage against this show yet because its portrayal of the Church, the constant reference to the Bible and its interpretations may have been offensive to many. It is not your jump and scare horror, which is not Mike Flanagan’s thing anyway. But is deep, layered and can be viewed as a metaphor on so many levels. I do not have any great quotes from Midnight Masss yet, but I would like to share my favourites from the Haunting series:

All things fade. All things. Flesh, stone, even the stars themselves. Time takes all things. It is the way of the world

A ghost story is nothing but a love story

A ghost can be a lot of things, but often times it is just a wish

To truly love another person is to accept the work of loving them is worth the pain of losing them

So, is fear the only true emotion? I think all our choices in life are driven by fear.  We make call it something else.  But in one way or another,  it is just a fear of something else.

Take marriage for example. Why do we get married? We can call it companionship, love and building a family but what is it really?

Fear of ending up alone…

Why do people not get married?

Fear of losing your freedom…

Why do people leave bad marriages?

Fear of being unhappy for every single day for the rest of your life

Fear of failing is the reason why people give up on their dreams even before they start pursuing it.  Fear of unknown and change is what makes qualified people stick to horrible jobs.  Fear of losing your loves ones and your own  life is what made you and me sit at home during the past year at the cost of our sanity.

I had written a blog about ‘Haunting of the Hill House’  earlier but I had never published it.  I did not want to give spoilers.  I still don’t.  This is what happens in the series:

Someone puts a thought in the mother’s mind that her children will suffer when they grow up and that she needs to protect them from that. The mother ended up acting upon her fear.  

The fear turned into reality!!

Was it always meant to happen that way?  Or did it happen because she feared it so much. Is it true that if you fear something it actually happens? Or maybe what you fear has already happened. It has happened in the past. You just never made your peace with it. And you are still living that fear, every day of your life. 

Fear keeps us safe. Fear keeps us checked. Fear keeps us aligned to our core values. Keep fear for the good things.  Keep fear as long as it keeps you good. But if it comes in the way of you being strong, then remember this:

You have nothing to fear, but fear itself.

 

 

Six Reasons Why Women Block (Some) Men Sometimes

I have received a message from a male friend asking why women suddenly block men.   According to him, he had not done anything vulgar or indecent to deserve this treatment from a woman.  The woman was someone he has interacted with before, and met a few times. He is not someone she ‘met online’ so he is all the more upset.  His ego is very hurt.

I am not sure what happened in his case, and I would never know. Therefore, I have decided to write a general article.   I have also blocked men so I can share what I know with the hope that this gentleman can learn something. There is a possibility that it may not be the outcome, and I may get trolled. But it’s fine. Let me say it. I think a lot of people need to hear the following.

These are my top reasons for blocking (not all) men:

  • Messages late at night.

If you are not very close to a woman, please refrain from striking up a conversation at night.   If she doesn’t respond or responds in monosyllables please take the hint and stop.  If your excuse for texting at night is that it is the only time you are ‘free’ after office then it is very lame reason.

  • Hi… Good morning.. Goodnight.. Dear.. Had dinner?

These messages are totally unnecessary. There is no need to send a Goodnight message to someone who doesn’t even talk to you!  Also, the only people ‘dear’ to me are my family. Isn’t this one obvious?

  • Nice DP! Looking gorgeous!

Be careful of your choice of words and the frequency of such messages. Are you friends with this girl? Do you talk to her regularly? If not, then refrain from commenting on her looks, even if it is a compliment.

  • Don’t contact through all mediums

We live in tech savvy world. You know if someone has read your message. If there is still no response, there is a chance that they have missed it. There is also a possibility that they are busy.  Your worst fear may also be true – She is not interested in responding.  Let it go.  Please do not try to reach her on other platforms. You have nothing important to say anyway, so why get so needy! Special mention for texting ‘??’. There is no need to send ‘??’ if you are not getting a response.  It is very annoying!

  • No response? Let it go!!

You will know if a girl wants to talk to you or not through the magic of response!! If she is not responding, let it go. It happens to me sometimes, that I message someone and they don’t respond. It is okay.  Don’t send messages like ‘Why are you not replying,’ ‘What did I do wrong?’ .   You are not texting someone for work, and nobody owes you a response.   If you are confronting someone and forcing them to respond, then be prepared for a strong reaction from them (including blocking).

  • Double meaning jokes, memes,

This should be self-explanatory.

Finally, here is what it is.   Since society places the responsibility on women for ‘inviting’ and ‘encouraging’  men,  sometimes we block ahead of caution.  You may not have crossed the line yet or you may be on the borderline. Yet, we use better judgment. That is when we feel that blocking is better as we are scared about what may come up next. We want to save ourselves the embarrassment. There is no warning unfortunately. We are not going to give prior notice, ‘Hey I am planning to block you, but before that, let me give you some time to reverse the creepiness and discomfort you have put me through!’

It doesn’t work that way. We decide not to engage further as it would only make things worse.

Not fair? Don’t blame us.   Blame other men who have talked / sent rubbish to us because of whom we prefer to be careful. 

And lastly, if you have had a relationship or rapport with a woman in the past, then that is what it is. The past.  It does not give you a lifetime license of texting, joking, flirting and demanding replies.

Hope this answers my friend’s question! Please feel free to add to the list in the comments!

 

Lockdown Post 4: How Is The Eye Brows, Hair and Housework Growing Oops Going!

When I was 18-19, I used to be very conscious about my looks.   I would get my eyebrows threaded every 15 days. ‘Only extras’, I used to instruct the beautician.  I would add, ‘Patla nahi karna!!‘  My eyebrows were never thick or even dark to begin with, so this was a doomed request.   Every time the beautician would say, ‘Do-teen maheene tak  bilkul chhod dijiye, tab hi full growth hoga!”

And I used to wonder, ‘Where will I hide myself for three months!!’

As I got into late 20s, the frequency of getting threading changed to once in a couple of months.  In between there were home beauticians.  But in the past two years everybody rejected me saying ‘Minimum 500 or 1,000’.  Hence, back to salons! It was irritating because the choice of parlour unfortunately depended on the availability of parking, and not on the service.  The actual threading would take 10 minutes, but the waiting time would be longer. I was never a parlour person.  Eye brows was the only thing I got done. And every beautician who looks at my eye brows always gasps in horror, ‘Kharab ho gaye hain. Last time kahan se karaya tha.’  And my answer invariably is Aapke yaha se hi karaya tha!’

To get rid of this pain, I bought a trimmer last year and stopped going to the parlour completely. It was a big relief. I have not even bothered to use the groomer for the past four and a half months!!  I am sure this is beyond the ‘full growth’ any beautician would dream of!

My hair also has to be compulsorily smoothened ever year. Otherwise, it gets wavy and curly from the roots, and straight from the bottom!  I would tell the stylist, ‘I want my curls to come back’ and she would say, ‘Then you have to leave it for a year or so!’

And I would think, ‘How can I go to office looking so untidy and messy for one year!’

The curls are 60 -70 percent back! I think by the end of 2020 it will all be back! The contact lens which I abruptly stopped using in March turned into a stone! I have not ordered a new pair since then!

I guess it is somewhat liberating to not have to worry about looks!!

And even though I hate doing all the housework and cooking by myself, there is a certain amount of peace in not having to depend on anyone. The calling, the waiting, the not showing up without any communication, I don’t’ think I miss it!

So my question is are we getting comfortable with this new normal?

P.S.

Actually, I should call it, ‘Unlock Post’ since there is no lockdown currently in my city. But you know what I mean….

 

Lockdown Post 3: How is One Day Different From Another

I love dressing up. Even at work, I always participated in ethnic days, where  I could get an opportunity to wear a sari.

When I was much younger and an intern, I used to wear Kurta and churidar one day, then formal skirt and shirt another day, and then formal pants and shirts.  In other words,  forget about repeating the same clothes I did not even like to repeat the same TYPE of outfit and used to alternate between Indian and western.

Somebody had asked me why, and I had said I want all days to be different. I want to distinguish the Tuesday from the Thursday. Otherwise every day looks the same. It becomes a big blur.

It will be three months now, since I have alternated between night pajama and day pajama! Today, I was so bored that I decided not to exercise. Just to do something different and break the daily routine!!

I asked for recommendations for movies, series, and thanks to all of you who gave me so many suggestions. My mind has been so restless. I have not watched anything since Homeland.   In fact,  when my husband and I try to watch something, I do not  even pay attention. I keep disturbing him, asking him what’s going on. He pauses to explain then I just leave it in the middle to do something (wash dishes) or sometimes to do nothing. He later tells me the movie was nice, and I would have liked it.

My grandmother used to say, ‘Cinema mein man hi nahi lagta hai’. I am turning into her…

A dear friend of mine asked me how did two books happen despite office work and housework with no maids and cooks.

I guess I just wanted the months to look different, if not the days.

I lived different lives through my characters, since the ‘normal’ life known to me, had become unrecognizable.

Do share with me what is making your days different from one another.

P.S. Family online parties on Zoom and Hangout have been a blessing. Do try it.

 

There Was A Time..

There was a time…

She would wait for dad to come back from office. He would get cream rolls.. She would jump and cling to him like a monkey. She would snatch the cream rolls from him and giggle. She would finish it all too soon, white cream on her teeth and her mouth.  He made her day.. What more could she ask for..

There was a time..

She had a dog… She loved to play ‘Fetch’ with him. She would throw the ball. He would run to get it. Sometimes she would run. Without the ball. He would just run behind her.  She had no idea why she was running. He had no idea why he was running. She would suddenly stop. He would stop too. He would pant, his tongue sticking out, hoping something would happen now. But there was nothing more. This was the game.  The dog did not mind.  He was just happy. She was also just happy.. What more could she ask for…

There was a time..

It was her birthday. The day before she would have gone to the store to buy toffies. Her classmates would get two toffees. Some not so important would get only one. Eclairs or Melody?   She would call so many friends home for the party.  They would play in the whole house.  Parents would spend the whole day decorating the house with balloons. And write ‘Happy Birthday’ with crepe paper.  The excitement would not be over just because the guests were leaving. It would continue. She would open the presents. The pink, blue, green, golden wrapping paper.. The puzzles. The dolls. The games.  What more could she ask for.

There was a time…

There was a family wedding. Mummy had dressed her up in a lehenga. She was even allowed to wear a lipstick. And a bindi. And bangles. And a matching hair clip. People said she looked so cute. There was no school the next day. She and her cousins were running around the whole hotel. Chuppa Chuppi it was. She would hide behind the big huge flower pot in the middle of reception.  Her cousin would also hide there. They would find each other. So easily. But still laugh. Such a hearty laugh… There were two flavours of ice-cream – vanilla and chocolate.  She had both. Elders were busy.  Nobody was monitoring them.  What more could she ask for…

There was a time…

She had gone on vacation with her family. The hotel room had a bath tub. She hated taking a bath but this was so cool. There was hot water coming from the tap. Unlike her house where they heated water with and immersion rod and she had to use a bucket and mug. Mummy had to ask her to get out of the bathroom.  But why should she? The foam in the water. The little bubbles… The cozy room of the hotel.  The sight seeing outside where she would wear a half pant. Eating in restaurants.  What more could she ask for.

There was a time..

There was so much less. But it was so much more. There were no regrets. There were no disappointments. There were no conflicts. Everything was just the way it was. Just the way it was meant to be…

Is that time over… Was that it.. Where is the joy…Will it ever come back..

She is scared to find the answer….

Image source

There Was A Time

There was a time…

She would wait for dad to come back from office. He would get cream rolls.. She would jump and cling to him like a monkey. She would snatch the cream rolls from him and giggle. She would finish it all too soon, white cream on her teeth and her mouth.  He made her day.. What more could she ask for..

There was a time..

She had a dog… She loved to play ‘Fetch’ with him. She would throw the ball. He would run to get it. Sometimes she would run. Without the ball. He would just run behind her.  She had no idea why she was running. He had no idea why he was running. She would suddenly stop. He would stop too. He would pant, his tongue sticking out, hoping something would happen now. But there was nothing more. This was the game.  The dog did not mind.  He was just happy. She was also just happy.. What more could she ask for…

There was a time..

It was her birthday. The day before she would have gone to the store to buy toffies. Her classmates would get two toffees. Some not so important would get only one. Eclairs or Melody?   She would call so many friends home for the party.  They would play in the whole house.  Parents would spend the whole day decorating the house with balloons. And write ‘Happy Birthday’ with crepe paper.  The excitement would not be over just because the guests were leaving. It would continue. She would open the presents. The pink, blue, green, golden wrapping paper.. The puzzles. The dolls. The games.  What more could she ask for.

There was a time…

There was a family wedding. Mummy had dressed her up in a lehenga. She was even allowed to wear a lipstick. And a bindi. And bangles. And a matching hair clip. People said she looked so cute. There was no school the next day. She and her cousins were running around the whole hotel. Chuppa Chuppi it was. She would hide behind the big huge flower pot in the middle of reception.  Her cousin would also hide there. They would find each other. So easily. But still laugh. Such a hearty laugh… There were two flavours of ice-cream – vanilla and chocolate.  She had both. Elders were busy.  Nobody was monitoring them.  What more could she ask for…

There was a time…

She had gone on vacation with her family. The hotel room had a bath tub. She hated taking a bath but this was so cool. There was hot water coming from the tap. Unlike her house where they heated water with and immersion rod and she had to use a bucket and mug. Mummy had to ask her to get out of the bathroom.  But why should she? The foam in the water. The little bubbles… The cozy room of the hotel.  The sight seeing outside where she would wear a half pant. Eating in restaurants.  What more could she ask for.

There was a time..

There was so much less. But it was so much more. There were no regrets. There were no disappointments. There were no conflicts. Everything was just the way it was. Just the way it was meant to be…

Is that time over… Was that it.. Where is the joy…Will it ever come back..

She is scared to find the answer….

What made you sad today?

Thursdays it was. Library period is what they called it.  They would remove their shoes outside.  The library was as small as a regular classroom. Yet, for her it was a fortune. Which book should she pick? She had all the options in the world! Aisle after aisle. Shelf after shelf. The smell of old books. Some bookmarks left as it is. Some pages torn.  Some drawings made.  The library card where she would put her name. And read the names of everyone else who checked it our before her. The Enid Blyton Books..

Then there would be the book sale, announced well in advance.  She was not supposed to carry any money to school. But for the book fair she would be allowed. She loved reading those abridged classics. The beautiful pictures on the covers. The blurb on the back.  The smell of new books.  It did not matter whether the book was old or new. Whether she borrowed from the library or bought from the fair.  The books unleashed a different world.  A world of dreams. A world of knowledge.

Today, it makes her sad that she will never smell those books again.

The rainy season would start. Monsoon as they would call it.  Her mother would pick her up from school. Sometimes, they would not find an auto or rickshaw. So they would have to walk home.   In the rain. And keechad.  Cars would pass by.  There would be a splash.  Mostly on the red skirt. But sometimes on the crisp, ironed white shirt too. The dirt on the road. The smell of the rain. She would love to make a puddle.   She would jump at each step as her mother would try to drag her to walk properly. Dogs, cows, people, cars, cycles all moved in the rain. 

Today, It makes her sad that she will never make that puddle again.

Summer vacation would start. Her cousins would arrive.  Her father had purchased a video game for her. It had two games. Shoot the duck with a gun. And Mario. They would take turns to play. How cool it was, that she was the only girl in the neighborhood who had the game. Would her Mario survive the dragons at the end of the fourth level?  Thank you Mario but our princess is in another castle – The screen would read.  Would her Mario find his princess at the end of the eighth world? Would she and her brother be able to play simultaneously as Mario and Luigi?

Today, It makes her sad that her Mario will never meet the Princess again.

Little joys were so simple to achieve then..  She thought when she grew up there would be something so much bigger. Better. Bigger happiness! Little did she know….

It was not until she became an adult that she realized:

Happiness comes at a very heavy price!

जीने के लिए सोचा ही नहीं
दर्द संभालने होंगे
मुस्कुराये तो मुस्कुराने के
क़र्ज़ उतारने होंगे

 

 

When I Realised That The Festivities I Cribbed About Were About Celebration & Family

When I Realised That The Festivities I Cribbed About Were About Celebration & Family

When I was a kid I waited eagerly for festivals. More people in the house, pichkari, pathaka, new clothes, cousins, sweets, fun, laughter. What was not to like about it?

But as I grew up, I started hearing things which made me cringe..

Leave Everything And Vanish?

When I was about 14, I had watched a television series on Sony called Hubahu starring Sandhya Mridul. She played the role of identical twin sisters. One sister, Aditi lived in India. She was a homemaker married to a college professor with a son. She lived a boring, stable life. The other sister, Ananya was very glamourous. She lived in some foreign country. Wikipedia says Bangkok although I do not remember.. This sister is single, rich, has a luxurious lifestyle  and a wannabe boyfriend. The sister in India lives a stable live with her husband and kid. One day they both decide to switch places for a week. (They are identical).  Due to some unavoidable circumstances, they end up continuing in their switched lives for some more time. At the end, they realize they like their new life better. They end up continuing like that.

When I had watched this show at that age I had thought how could the woman with a family just leave everything. She had a husband! A kid! I had also found nothing with her life that was so bad that she just gave it up.  I was so judgmental…

Aditi used to wake up every morning with a jump as her alarm rang. She would rush to get her kid ready. The rest of the day would be lost in household work…Cribbing. Stressing. And cribbing some more. And stressing some more..

When I was studying in the U.S.,  in eighth grade or ninth grade, in one of the class discussions the teacher had asked what are some of the reasons for depression. One girl had raised her hand and said ‘monotony’.  No it was not those last few residual answers where all obvious answers such as loss of a loved one, loss of job, divorce, break-up was consumed. It was one of the first few answers.

“That’s right”, The teacher had replied. “Getting up every day, same time, same routine with nothing interesting to look forward to in life can be depressing for some people.”

I had found this very odd.  To me, it was not a valid cause. What else is everybody supposed to do every single day anyway, I had thought.  I guess I was too dumb…

I guess I wake up the same way as Aditi does.  Every morning with panic.  Thinking I have missed the alarm. I will be late to work.. I will get scolded…  The maid would have knocked on the door and left… I will have to do the work…I will be even more late to work…  And there is a deadline…Not only will I go to work late but leave from work late too… House work. And office work…

Maybe it is everybody’s fantasy to just leave our current life… Leave everything and vanish… Aditi just got the opportunity…

Image source

 

 

 

 

Movies, Music and Nostalgia…

I watched Gold yesterday. I wish I could review the movie….

I usually do not watch a night show during the week days because I have to get up early thanks to work. But yesterday, I ended up watching the night show as there was only one show in the nearby theater and the whole family had planned to go. With the trailers and the non-smoking advertisements, these night shows easily start by 10 pm.

At home, 10 pm is the time when I mercilessly switch off television, irrespective of how engaging our current Netflix show is, and tell my husband it is time to “shut down”.

This is followed by scrubbing the kitchen slabs and gas stove…

Anyway, coming back to yesterday, here I was at 10 pm daring to watch a night show along with my family.  During the first half of the movie, I tried unsuccessfully to keep my eyes open. From whatever little I managed to watch, Amit Sadh looked good, and I found Mouni Roy’s character annoying.

After interval, I was completely asleep. I even had a dream which involved the movie.  Now, I am even more confused as to what was part of the movie, and what was part of my dream. Hubby tried his best to keep me awake by pulling my leg every time Mouni appeared on screen – “This angry wife is just like you.” But in vain. I was too sleepy to even react to him. However, in between, I would wake up and ask him,

Who is in the semi final?”

“Did the final match start yet?” 

I sounded a lot like my grandmother who does not pay any attention to TV serials but keeps disturbing everybody else who is watching intently by asking what is going on.

By the end of the movie, blissfully asleep I had forgotten where I was.  When people started getting up for the national anthem, I tried to reach my tummy to remove my seat belt, thinking I am in a flight.  Then I woke up, realizing that I am in a theater.  This awareness that I was not in an aircraft  gave me a strange sense of satisfaction because I thought at least I don’t have to travel…

This incident reminded me of the first time I had fallen asleep in the theater as a kid. I am sure I would have fallen asleep as a baby many times but this is the first time that I could remember. It was a charity show of the movie, Maachis. My parents and sister had loved the movie and the “crowd”. Those were the days of single screen theatres and not multiplexes. Families took balcony seats. There would be whistling, screaming, dancing, clapping and what not going on in the front. But being a charity show, the tickets were very expensive. Being a small town, half of the town was present and my parents and sister had spent the time before the start of the movie in socializing with acquaintances / friends they were bumping into.

I don’t think I ever watched Maachis properly after growing up.  Whenever, somebody mentions Maachis, I have a very faint memory of lots of people waiting outside the cinema hall for the movie to start. But it is a good, uplifting feeling (contrary to the serious subject of the movie).

In a recent road trip to a hill station I kept playing songs from the 90’s like Latka dikha diya tumne, Muqabla, Taal se Taal mila etc. My niece was also traveling with me and in an attempt to match up to her I had downloaded some English songs too. Since I am not up to date with anything other than Bollywood, my list started with Shape of You, and ended with Cheap Thrills. Thankfully, she had requested me to download song new songs (which I had no idea about).

I realized that our generation still knows songs from the 60’s 70’s etc but the next generation does not know any songs from the 80’s,90’s.

But why did these songs make me so happy? 

Probably because of the way they make me feel…

It is the association with songs / movies that make us like them years later.

Associations. Memories. And the games our mind plays with them…

That was then. Gold for me will always be the first movie I watched after my wedding, in which I fell asleep!