Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Madcap Road Trip...

Just got back from a madcap road trip across five countries in Europe and I am still reeling from the effects of the past two weeks. There were about seventy of us on this pilgrimage trip (thirty from my parish) and I was wondering how it would be... We landed in Madrid and traversed through Spain, to reach Fatima in Portugal, then went on to Lourdes and Paris in France, stopped in the mountains in Switzerland for a day, then on to Turin, Padua, Venice, Assisi, Rome and Milan in Italy. Stayed in eleven hotels and received wake up calls at insane hours like 4:30 am... the wake up call from our hotel in Rome was quite amusing. I answered the phone to hear Michael Bublé crooning to  'I want to go home...', those people at the hotel have a nice sense of humour.

So we arrived in Madrid, roamed around for a bit, then reached the hotel and I started updating the family on whatsapp about our day. They asked for my room number to call on the hotel line, so anyway I'm still checking messages when I hear a knock on the door. Thinking it to be somebody from the group I open the door to find my brother, Vinod, standing there, I blinked and then almost screamed, 'MOM, look who is here!' She was as shocked as me to see him, he wanted to surprise us and boy did it work! It was pretty cool and things only got better as the days went by, we got to know the rest of the group and made many friends along the way. A bunch of us were always up for exploring different cities by night and it was bliss hanging out with them, eating ice cream at midnight and just walking along those well worn cobbled streets... I think I loved the night explorations more than the day visits. During the day it was more or less like being back in school, we were herded from one spot to another and the tour organiser would glare at us if we happened to be a little late or if we walked into any shop. I sometimes felt like Jason Bourne, darting in and out of places surreptitiously trying to avoid being seen... but truth be said, the organiser had a large crowd to handle and he had to hold the reins or people would disappear and that would spell mayhem. 

All in all it was a definitely memorable trip, insanely hectic yet immensely enjoyable. For the bunch of us who used to roam around at nights, we barely had four or five hours of sleep each day, but it was so worth it... we were grateful to be in some of the most historically monumental, extremely vibrant, quaintly charming and stunningly beautiful places and given a chance, I think we'd do it all over again.  
Check out this highlight reel, a new feature on the Moto x that allows you to make a video from a bunch of images... pretty cool feature.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Colour of Paradise

The Colour of Paradise or Rang-e Khodā (which literally means ‘The Colour of God’) is an Iranian movie set in a beautiful little mountain village near Tehran. The film is visually appealing, in fact the landscapes and its accompanying sounds form an important character. They help to establish the world of the blind protagonist, a tender hearted young boy named Mohammed who is a student in a special school in Tehran. The school is quite amazing in the way they train and care for the visually impaired children. Mohammed’s father, a widower, doesn’t seem extremely fond of his blind son whom he considers a burden. When the school closes for summer vacation, he reluctantly takes the boy back to the strikingly beautiful village where Mohammed’s doting grandmother and sisters reside. The outpouring of love that Mohammed experiences from his grandmother and sisters is poignantly portrayed. So much love and warmth abounds in these frames, it’s almost like the beauty of nature is reflective in these female characters who are crucial to Mohammed’s happiness and well-being. When Mohammed accompanies his sisters to the little village school, he surprises everyone with his knowledge and abilities. In the midst of this idyllic summer, the dad has other plans for Mohammed, and takes him to be apprenticed to a blind carpenter in another village.  Mohammed, sad at being taken so far from home and thinking that nobody loves him, evocatively tells the sympathetic blind carpenter:
Our teacher says that God loves the blind more because they can’t see… but I told him if it was so, He would not make us blind so that we can’t see Him. He answered, ‘God is not visible. He is everywhere. You can feel Him. You see Him through your fingertips.’ Now I reach out everywhere for God till the day my hands touch Him and tell Him everything, even all the secrets in my heart.
This powerful scene is quite heart-rending; it shows the innocence and yearning of the blind boy who wants to be like others. The director has given this movie an open ended conclusion; it is up to the viewers to decide what really happens. With an ending open to interpretation the main character becomes more captivating as one ponders over what really happened. Does Mohammed finally feel God with his radiant fingers or is the woodpecker giving him clues about God?
This film essentially belongs to the little boy Mohammed, played poignantly by Mohsen Ramezani, a kid who is blind in real life. After watching this movie, I had to know more about this enchanting little boy, so I contacted the most famous oracle I know - google, and surprisingly there is very little information about him in the virtual world. Majid Majidi, the director has created a masterpiece that will leave you spellbound. It teaches us that even though darkness may surround us (darkness is literally the only thing the Mohammed sees), our spirit should keep seeking God and feeling Him, this is the simple beauty of being alive.