Living with the shadows of the past

The word Shadow brings up so many feelings a number of which I cannot easily recognize. But it does make me think of the past – of my childhood, of home, of my mother and the long days spent doing nothing but watching the play of shadows with the changing light of day.

I cannot say if it makes me uneasy or sad to think of the past but it does seem to fill me with a certain heaviness of heart. I can’t say why but my eyes seem to overflow. There was no particular tragedy that I witnessed as a child  but I suppose growing up with a woman too preoccupied to be a mother meant my brother and I grew up in a state of relative neglect. It might even be called benign neglect but when I think of growing up I think of aloneness and emptiness.

Howsoever uneventful one’s childhood might seem it leaves imprints that last a long time and can at times be hard to remove. I am 31 years of age and I admit that it is only now that I am making sense of much of my little existence. It is usually quiet winter afternoons that fill me with a certain dread. Maybe it is the dread of living and dying alone, awakened by the lack of noise that suggests human contact.

I do not recall (m)any long leisurely conversations with my mother. I do not recall many joyful moments spent in her company. I recall only quiet afternoons with an undercurrent of untold sadness, misery and suppressed anger. Her not being able to deal with her emotions ended up transferring the same to her children. At this point I clarify we are not her biological children, so there is no hereditary transfer of habits.

My struggle is to break out of these shadows of the past and become my own person – a strong and happy individual. I wish the same for my sweet little brother.

 

 

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L’Eclisse – the stylish and hauntingly lonely Italian drama!

L’Eclisse – Finally getting around to writing about this lovely film that I managed to watch on the big screen more than a month ago. I loved it completely!

I had watched it once before at a friend’s place about 7-8 years ago. But I remember not enjoying it at all then! I am sure a lot has changed since then, though not sure specifically what that made me enjoy it so much this time.

Still strangely enough when I saw that it was going to be shown at my local film theatre it made me want to watch it again and risk not enjoying it again.

This time I absolutely loved the stylish black and white shots, the sensuousness of the lead female (Monica Vitti), the charm of the lead male (Alain Delon), the sense of being alone but liberated in the scenes involving walking slowly on almost deserted streets and pathways (there were many!) and the frenzy of the stock exchange. How I wish I had an apartment in Rome by a street dotted with trees that I could walk along at night!

Yet the film is more than that. It also captures the strange melancholy and emptiness of modern lives where it is easier to connect to things than to people as shown by Delon’s character’s attachment to his car exceeding that to his romantic interest, Vitti’s mother’s concern for her financial loss overshadowing the presence of her daughter, the neighbour’s pride in her African life and belongings well surpassing her opinion of native people.

Also, I am sure anyone who has ever written about the film has written about the final few minutes. They were simply beautiful. A series of shots from different perspective – for example running water, setting sun, change of scene at bus stop etc, just highlighting time and life passing by very quickly or very slowly, depending on how you look at it.

I think I have said enough – if you have not seen the film then please do if you get the opportunity. However, I do think it is best enjoyed on the big screen as too many details get lost on the small screen.

Also it has now got me thinking about watching other Michelangelo Antonioni’s films 🙂

 

“Gemma Bovery”

Watched “Gemma Bovery” with some friends on a Friday evening couple of weeks ago. I have not read the actual book on which the movie is supposedly based but absolutely loved the original inspiration – Gustave Flaubert’s French classic “Madame Bovary” when I first read it almost 12 years ago.

While the original novel can be quite dark and depressing at times, the film had a nice summery feel to it. The small french town looked beautiful and the patisserie/bakery was quite charming.

Even though the film did not explore the cause of Emma’a misery and desperation in any detail, it was still an interesting watch. It also made me want to spend time in rural France. Some day, I hope!!

What I did like about the film particularly was the end where the men in her life seemed to have a physical role in her death. It was a good way of staying true to the spirit of the original where though Emma is shown to commit suicide, it is the men in her life who drive her to despair, limiting her ability to lead the life she craved, using and abusing her for their own gain and in the end causing her to take her own life.

The leading French actor in the film who played the narrator/baker did a fantastic job. With very little dialogue he conveyed so much through his face and eyes. It was his superb acting that added moments of light relief to the film.

I suppose the main difference is that in today’s liberal and tolerant society one cannot feel sorry for Gemma the way one felt sorry for Emma who had little hope or avenues for escape.

I never thought I would say this for a cheesier modern version of a superb old classic but the movie has now made me want to read the book! If for no other reason then to compare and contrast the two.

Now only need to see if my local library thinks it worthwhile to hold a copy of “Gemma Bovery” in stock 🙂

A silent observer with lots to say….

A lot of people I know think I am very quiet. Some think I am quite talkative.

Like in a lot of cases, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

A lot often remains unsaid and it is amazing how much you accumulate (“thought”) just going through life everyday.

This will be attempt to offload some of that weight and be a lighter and brighter me!

I may or may not make friends on this journey (I haven’t decided yet!) but I am writing publicly probably to sound out my own thoughts and ideas.

I am also looking forward to reading some interesting writing and developing my own line of thought.

I must say I have deliberately not included any demographic information. What does it matter what age, sex or colour I am if I can make the tiniest bit of sense with what I write.

Zola – The Ladies’ Paradise. It Stings still

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “That Stings!.”

Just finished reading “The Ladies’ Paradise” and as often with Zola what stood out was the description of pain, fear and everyday indignation, that defined the existence of the poor working masses in 19th century France.

In some ways it made me think how bad things were and how far we have come. For example, pensions, social security like unemployment benefits, national health service, medical and maternity benefits, relative job security, some sort of gender equality and the ability to live with a great degree of dignity. Hard to imagine life without these basic necessities which we take for granted and how it took humanity such a long time to get here. True, not all parts of the world are there yet. So we can’t claim this victory just yet.

What is also fascinating is that even in the 21st century, conditions in many parts of the world are still very similar to the world described in the book, even though the two maybe thousands of miles and two hundred years apart from each other.

There are still many parts of the world with no benefits or social safety net for its citizens, where men (and women) still expect women to bow to their wishes, where regular access to food and shelter for a lot of people is a luxury, where life for many is good if it is not on the street and is lived in a constant fear of ending up on the street, where the value of a person is determined by their income, where this perceived value determines how the person gets treated by others, where the most familiar emotion is probably fear or despair, where having morals or virtues is a luxury of the rich or the folly of the thick.

How much longer will it take before we get to a point where everyone can expect to live in peace and dignity no matter their birth or place in society.

There is so much more I wish to write about it that I would have to say,

To be continued………

Talking about work

I was thinking what I could and should write about when I realized I spend a lot of time thinking and talking about work, the workplace, the different people and personalities at work, the effect it has on me as a person and how I struggle to deal with it.

So much of our lives and our mental and emotional energy is spent at work that it is impossible to live without talking about it even if just a little bit.

For me work has been both deeply satisfying and deeply frustrating over the years – depending on which team and more importantly which boss I worked under.

I have had the privilege of working with some amazing individuals who have inspired awe and respect in me. They have shown me how much fun work can be and that it can be something you look forward to.

I have also had the misfortune to have worked with individuals so low a sample of human beings that the thought of them makes me shiver in revulsion. Working with me taught me how much my physical and mental health can be affected by being around such people and how I urgently I need to learn to look after me.

So I am going to take sometime to document some of my adventures and misadventures in the big bad world of work. And I would love to hear other thoughts on experiences at work (good, bad, neutral) and the best ways of dealing with them.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and insights. I will be keen to hear.

Procrastination

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Breakdown.”

I am sure I am not the only one to suffer from the dreadful habit, or more appropriately – dreadful disease, of procrastination.

I spend ages thinking about the fact that I need to make the time for doing a small thing because I think it will require concentration and I need to get it just right.

What happens, as you can probably guess, is that I struggle to make time being too busy piling things on my to-do list for the day when I will have the time and space to “concentrate” on them.

What I should be doing is just rattling through things as best and as quick I can without worrying about getting them right or perfect. No matter how long I take, hardly anything is ever perfect and even if it is, it turns out the perfection did not really matter all that much anyway. All that was needed was to get the job done as quickly as possible and to an acceptable standard.

It is beginning to sound more and more like maybe the habit I need to break is seeking perfection, more than procrastination.

The up side of it is that it does allow me to time to think, reflect and modify my approach. To be honest, working closely with a more experienced colleague for last couple of years made me realize the value of that time to think and reflect.

My experienced colleague L can certainly never be accused of procrastination, being a very obvious “doer”. The down side of that as I found out is, things tend to get done the same way they always have been, allowing very little room for thinking or trying any new creative solutions/approaches to a problem.

Whilst she was a fantastic colleague in many ways, I have to say I did not find her approach of work very satisfying as it stifled creativity, by ranking action higher than idea.

Hmmm so come to think of it there maybe some benefits to my procrastination afterall. I just need to find a better balance.

Should have told my boss that his blue eyed boy has been taking credit for my work!!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Break the Silence.”

I have to say the occasion was not recent. It has been roughly 2 years but I am writing about it as it keeps coming back to me and I still despair over the fact that I did not say what I should have said and the way I should have said.

What I did say to my boss when a colleague (aka blue eyed bastard!) I had agreed to handover a project to on a certain date quickly threw me out of the picture (despite what was agreed) in time to take credit for the fantastic idea I had implemented on the project.

Instead of simply saying – “I felt a bit strange and I am not sure why he got the project transferred to his name and informed everyone when we had agreed on a date towards the end of the month.” To which my boss gave the casual reply – “Oh I am sure it is just a matter of a quick conversation with the person concerned”.

I should have said – “Andrew broke the agreement of the project handover date and sidelined me from the project. He took credit for my idea and the work I was doing which was just coming to fruition. This is unfair and needs to be dealt with to avoid a repeat of similar behaviour in the future.”

In my mind I also want to add a few choice words, like the backstabbing bastard, but probably best to leave them out.

Not every silence is meant to be broken.