Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Borders and other lines

I was at my cousin's place a few nights ago and we decided to watch a movie - a challenging task since all of us rarely agree to a single film. In the end, most of us decided to re-watch The Namesake, based on the novel by Jhumpa Lahiri of the same name. I think I had last watched The Namesake some 5 years ago, and while I had loved it back then as well, it just resonated much more to me this time.

One of the reasons why we all thought watching this particular film would be nice was because it talks about immigrants from India settling down in the USA and the struggles they go through, as well as the nice bonds they create in this foreign land. It's a nice movie, and if you haven't already, do watch it. For me, personally, there were different parts where the characters of Irfan Khan, Tabu and Kal Penn, all reminded me of me at some point in life.

It's easy to see how Kal Penn's character might have been like me. We have all (well, most of us) gone through phases of teenage rebellion where our parents are our worst enemies, we hate the name given to us by our parents (either it's too common or too unique) and we just know we are right, without anything but our own gut feeling to support that. Then the age of the early 20s, where you're an adult and you earn but you couldn't be bothered by your family and your large social life is everything. Then comes that stage in your life when you want to rush back home and eat homemade food and question what (all) has gone wrong in life.

Tabu's character was easy to relate to as well. We see her struggle of adjusting in a foreign land, her extreme homesickness, her love for her home city/country, her culture, her food, her home's clothes etc. In the last one year I have been through it all. It is so difficult now what with whatsapp and FaceTime; I can't even imagine how lonely it must feel to migrate this far away from home in the 1970s. And she's an English major. Now I may not remember Daffodils by heart (yes, I know, judge me later) but still, English lit wins my heart.

But the character I related to the most was that of Ashoke Ganguly, played by Irfan Khan. I too, for the longest time in my life, never saw any reason to move abroad for a great length of time, believing that books really were the best way to travel and what not (especially it being more economical). Then I too, made the very difficult decision of leaving everything I know and love behind me because I wanted more. I am not sure more what exactly - I guess more excitement, but definitely more than what I had everything. In that process, alienating myself with everything familiar. It is a very, very difficult decision to make, something I hadn't expected it to be.

Apart from the whole immigrant angle, what really stuck with me was Ashoke and Ashima's love story. Their marriage was as arranged as it could be back in the '70s, they never once did any form of PDA, they never even told each other that they loved each other! But it is still such a sweet love story. In contrast was Gogol's failed love life. His first girlfriend and he broke up because he felt she was too different than her culturally (and personally, I found her shockingly insensitive when she suggests going with him to India to scatter his dad's ashes in the Ganga; I mean it's not a vacation, woman), shown very beautifully in Ashoke's funeral scene where everyone is dressed in white, and she is standing out in black. His second girlfriend and wife is a Bengali, daughter of a family friend and is a result of modern-day matchmaking/arranged marriage approach. And that goes down the drain too. My cousin and I pondered over why he picked two wrong women. I said maybe he was just unlucky in love. I don't know. But it made me think why so many people think it's okay to cheat on their partners at the drop of a hat.

Anyway I'll stop my rambling now. I should really, really go to bed soon. Until next time. 

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