Thursday, January 31, 2008

The journey home

We made it halfway across the world in one piece, just about. By the end of the long flight I was ready to drill a hole in the plane and just jump out. 15 hours is too long to have a toddler on your lap in a closed space, on a small seat with strangers' elbows digging in from both sides. But its over and Anika did remarkably well under the circumstances. God bless Emirates for having Jungle Book as one of the movies, and also my travel agent for scoring the front row where I had enough room to put her down on a mat on the floor to stand or sit when I needed a break. She had only two meltdowns that were not that bad, mine were worse.

We arrived at Mumbai airport at about 2:45am after 21 hours of travel time. As we made the long walk to immigration/baggage Anika was dancing in the carrier in the front. I got our passports stamped and started towards baggage, I got help with my bags and sailed out. There they were in the darkness, Ma, Pa, Pri, Frooki and the kids! At 3 am..squealing with excitement at the first sighting of the princess. Anika was a little overwhelmed when they all surrounded us, but was happy to out in the open finally.

On the way home there was much excitement when Anika casually said her first word on Indian shores, 'bha-bhow' when she saw some stray dogs on the street. After the reaction she got she said it several more times=)

When we got home I was made to wait while Ma ran up. When we reached the door, Ma was standing there with a thali in her hand with a diya, tika and prasad to do aarti of the little Laxmi entering her home for the first time. It was beautiful, Anika was very intrigued. In the house she avoided everyone except for Raunaq, her 11 year old cousin and me. They were all dying to just grab her and squeeze her instead they watched lovingly from a distance hanging on her every word. We had tea and then all went to bed at 6am. I was happy and exhausted after the long journey. The journey has to be that long for your mind to accept the change, the whole new world. Its a crazy, surreal trip. EVERYTHING is different. Even though I grew up here, the transition is so huge everytime I can only imagine how stressful it must have been for sensitive little girl.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Last minute post

Can I sleep on the flight like this?

I could travel in the bag too..

So this is the place you'll grew up?

I'll miss you Papa..

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Homeward bound

Finally its time to go home. Its been three years since I roamed the streets of Bombay last. This time it will be as a mother, with a baby on my hip, not the carefree crazy Bombay girl I usually am. Though I have some trepidation about going alone without Dh I also have a slow thump of excitement growing in my heart...Bombay meri jaan here I come, with the love of my life!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Taare Zameen Par

Its been nearly a week since we saw this gem and there are still images from it in my head - that is a testament to the quality of the latest offering from Aamir Khan Productions, Taare Zameen Par literally 'Stars on Earth' or figuratively heavenly beings among us. I saw it twice in a row, the first time I was alone while Dh entertained Anika at the Park and the second time when it was my turn to be with her, I decided to stay while Dh watched! I am SO bad, I know...It worked out perfectly I was able to keep Anika entertained in the dark with food and whispering till Ishaan was separated from his family. It was during that tearful 'Ma' song that she wanted out NOW! Thankfully I was able to re-watch the delightful antics of Ishaan in the first half and be spared a second bout of crying. After that it was roaming the halls of the cinema and sneaking into other darkened halls to catch snatches of dialogue from other movies while Anika practised her stair climbing skills in the dark!

Now the Review:

One of the highlights of the film was the natural and unselfconscious performance of Darsheel Safary the child who played the role of Ishaan Awasthi, an 8 year old boy who is misunderstood and ostracised because he has undiagnosed dyslexia. His general childish antics in the first half had me laughing out loud. The scene where he entertained himself by burping, imitating animals, digging his nose and doing the moonwalk when he was thrown out of class had me in splits. The way he burst out laughing when his father nearly strikes his mother when he his lunging at him was adorable. In the second half he conveyed his abandonment and isolation so convincingly I cried pretty much the entire time. Ishaan could have been played by a typical 'child star' a cute looking Bournvita kid that is a champion at TTBC(trying to be cute) instead he was an everyday kid who was endearing because of his spirit and humour. Kudos to Aamir Khan for directing the boy perfectly.

I liked the sensitive portrayal of a common problem in a non-preachy way. Aamir Khan was able to say something socially relevant in a commercial setup. I also liked the comments on insensitive parenting in a competitive world. The unrealisitc goals set for children, pressured to excel in areas that they may not have any aptitude just because they have to 'succeed in the world'. Without much thought given to the innate abilities of children parents tend to set unattainable standards that crush the child's individuality. It made me think about my own parenting choices, am I trying to make Anika what I think is good or am I creating an environment that nurtures her innate abilities. Its important to think about it.

I also loved the pace of the film, it was unrushed. Aamir took the time to develop Ishaan's character, to make us love him before his travails began, I think that's why the second half or the 'conflict' was so unbearable because Ishaan was so lovable by then. I really enjoyed the little things like his day out on the town watching the big city awestruck or the dog sleeping so peacefully in his godi, the gola wala and the construction worker father and son. The painter climbing up the scaffolding with bare feet..just stuff kids would notice, I remember feeling so scared for those guys when I was a kid..I loved all the documentary shots of the city..And the beautiful motif of the fish. The film starts with little Ishaan collecting fish from a gutter that is almost choking with garbage, yet he sees the little fish and brings them home to a clean bowl on his refrigerator. In the end when his teacher has been able to rescue his fading spirit with individual attention and care, he sees goldfish in the pond at the Hostel. I read online that goldfish are a symbol of life in Iranian culture, maybe they symbolise his rebirth in the beautiful painting of the finale? The use f goldfish and the story of a young boy reminded me of the Iranian film Children of Heaven. I wonder if Aamir has seen it? I'm sure he would love it, the sensibilities are similar.

I guess the only disappointment for me was the treatement of Ishaan's mother. She who loved him and noticed his hurts when the bully's mother came complaining, who cried when she was separated from him...just didn't resist the unreasonable father enough. i was irritated that she was weak. I guess its possible, but I wish there was a scene of her taking on the father and arguing on Ishaan's behalf....Oh well can't be perfect.

I also loved the end of the film, the resolution as well as the running, happy child in the conclusion. I loved the music, Shankar Ehsan and loy are perfect and the end credits, what a great little touch.

Some movies touch the surface and disappear in a few minutes and others like this one have a deeper impact. They make waves in your consciousness that dredge up childhood memories, they stay and provide fodder for the soul long after the screen goes black. I think Dh said it best, this is movie I wish Ma had been alive to watch with me, she was like this, always bringing out the best in us with love and patience.