Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Holiday Cheer with a dash of Grit

No human being is born perfect.It is inevitable even for those bearing a slant towards anarchy to rejoyce when the season of resolutions draws near.In my attempt to revel in holiday cheer,I've decided to add structure and rigidity to my life by drawing out a list of resolutions that are either too stifling or too unbecoming of a diva.Here are the ones that are relevant to the blog.

- To expand my reading list to include subject matter that goes beyond classic literature.To explore work that is more contemporary.Not exactly stifling but nevertheless verging on anti-diva blasphemy.

- To brush up my skills in three different languages (Bengali,Kannada and French).It is said that heaven helps those who help themselves.Are agnostics even allowed to believe in heaven? (In the divine sense at least?)

- To come up with the first draft of either a novel,a collection of short stories or an anthology of poems.I would have prayed for the mental well being of publishers had I not been so fiercely agnostic.

- The readers of this blog may heave a sigh of relief as I do not have any new intentions for this blog.However,readers are urged to bear in mind that new resolutions may be appended to the list any time during the course of the year.

I wish all of you a wonderful holiday season and sincerely hope that the next year is full of promise and hope(no pun intended).Please continue to read my blog, I love to watch the numbers on the blog ticker spiraling out of control.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Limits of Dissection

What are the limits of cinematic dissection? Perhaps we can ask David Lynch or the ghost of Stanley Kubirck to answer.I know a lot of people(self confessed film buffs included)who insist that the purpose of film is to offer relaxation and a sense of escapism to the viewer.'Why read a book when you can watch the movie?',is what I often get to hear in the form of well meaning advice.

It is a commonly held belief that a film saves you the laborious hours of interpretation you would have spent on the book.It is often overlooked that film does for the director what a book does for the writer.Film represents the conglomeration of art,poetry and literature.If art,poetry and literature have the right to shove the human mind down the throes of discomfiture;why shouldn't film have the same privilege?

Film is as open to interpretation as any other form of artistic expression.It is wondrous to some and loathsome to the rest.An avant garde film maker once said that all films should have a beginning,middle and end but not necessarily in that order.The dissection of film as as simple as predicting the mood swings of the film maker.The limits of dissection are defined by the limits we, as interpreters,impose on our own ennui.

Yet again,what are the parameters that define whether a film needs to be taken at face value or not? I still don't know whether I should consider 'Eyes Wide Shut' as literally as I consider the next blockbuster, or whether I should subject it to the microscopic evaluation of every David Lynch inspired paroxysm.Perhaps the dichotomy grants the viewer the liberty to play the devil's advocate and say,'We only interpret something if the need for interpretation is made obvious'.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Selling Your Soul

Bangalore is a city that feeds the most quaint need of every other quaint bibliophile.One can find bookshops in the most unsuspecting corners(apart from the scores of pirated material available on street corners).I like to regard each bookshop as a separate individual,complete with quirks and a territorial sense of defense for its niche.

'Blossoms' is one such place in Bangalore.It is aptly called 'the house of used books'.There are two floors stacked with books on every subject and of every possible vintage.One can find brand new bestsellers, with crisp white pages reeking with the odor of the printing press,and the most unkempt manuscripts of the classics yellowing with age.'Blossoms' allows customers to bring in old books and buy new books at a discount.The question of 'to sell or not to sell?' arises quite inevitably.

The next question that follows is 'what to sell?'.Books that are either subject to unconditional love or irrational loathing are impossible to sell.The two digit discount percentage bundled with a new book may seem like the ultimate catch;but once a book slips out of your clutches it is gone,along with the portion of your soul that it possessed while you read it.Selling a book is like selling a portion of your soul.The new book may or may not fill the void, but that portion caressed and fulfilled by the old one is dead.Perhaps it is the reason fashionistas fail to part with their shoes.No wonder libraries in Divaland often overflow on to the streets.

I will never know what a double digit discount on a book feels like.

Friday, December 05, 2008

A Dying Breed

I once had an argument with a male friend over the degree of masculinity or femininity of a job in the software industry.He was of the opinion that software was to a greater degree the forte of the human male and that women in software(with a few exceptions) were just 'tailoring'.I spent a great deal of time telling him that he was being 'sexist' and he spent a great deal of time telling me that he was being factual.I found this article in 'The New York Times', that seems to support the claim made by my friend.

Apparently the number of women entering computer science is on the decline.The article doesn't count women who enter related fields like web design.It is alleged that women prefer not to enter the field due to certain 'artificial constraints' and because there is a sense that 'true girls don't play with computers'.As a woman working in the software industry,as a computer programmer,I find it a little offensive that we need to attach gender to a profession that has its foundations firmly rooted in the intangible.It is equally bizarre that the number of women entering the field is on a progressive decline since the early nineties.

A year and a half in the IT industry has taught me that the statistics quoted in the article are believable.In my undergraduate days,I was in a class that had 77 boys and 11 girls.The boy-girl ratio at my workplace is also a deplorable 'one girl for every four boys'.However,if one considers the Indian IT industry in isolation,the influx of the feminine kind has gone up considerably since the early nineties.More girls have started enrolling for courses in Computer Science.I could have dismissed the phenomenon as being 'purely American' if women still weren't a minority in the IT industry in India.

Factors influencing these numbers in India can be quite diverse.The enrollment rate is never equal to the employment rate as a lot of women graduates prefer to get become homemakers as soon as they finish college.Fewer women make it to the top owing to the pressures of juggling a family and a career in IT at the same time.The barriers we're talking about here are neither 'artificial' nor are they driven by the 'masculinity' of the software profession.Perhaps people to the west of the Atlantic, who speculate along the lines of mapping gender to profession,would like to look to the east before they dismiss something as 'not fit for the feminine mind'.

'So what does all this say about me?', I asked my friend after sending him a link to the article.He simply said something witty about me being behind my time.