Saturday, October 30, 2010

BUDRUS - Movie Review

Behind the political rhetoric and media distortion, is a story about a people, their right to use their land to survive and their intrinsic connection to this land. Budrus tells this story while steering away from directly conveying the political narrative.The movie is gripping in a way that appeals to fundamental human emotions of compassion, empathy and justice.

Directed by the award winning filmmaker Julia Bacha,the documentary follows Ayyed Morrar in his attempt to lead a non-violent resistance against the construction of the separation barrier through his Palestinian village of Budrus. Bacha says that a decision was taken to focus on the villagers and their story, avoiding the broader political context. This is perhaps where the authenticity of the story lies. Through interviews with villagers and footage of their protracted resistance towards the construction of the wall, a personal connection with the audience is formed. The civilian statistics become real and the actual impact of the construction of the wall is contextualised.

A focal point is 'The Olive Tree' - the Palestinian people's connection to it, the life-source that it represents and the impunity with which the Israeli Defence Force uproots these. I recalled scenes from Avatar, where the Na'vi people feel like they have lost a family member when their precious trees are uprooted. The tragedy in the Palestinian scenario, though, is that it is real, not fiction and that it is ongoing. After the olive trees have been uprooted to make way for the wall, a farmer with innocent disbelief and morbid concern tries to explain to an Israeli soldier that he does not know what to do as his trees will now die. Never before was the simple yet intense relationship between the Palestinian people and their land been conveyed to me as powerfully.

While Budrus does not promise to tell 'both sides of the story', it gives a voice to Yasmine Levy, the IDF squad commander in the border police sent to Budrus.
A spokesperson for the Israeli army Doron Spielman gives the Israeli justification for constructing the wall.The interaction between the military and civilians is poignant when viewed through live footage.

The issue of non-violent resistance was a deliberate choice by Bacha (who is also a historian). She says that her studies have shown that violent resistance movements in history had always transformed into dictatorships.

The movie had been well received by international audiences, winning numerous awards at a various film festivals. Budrus is scheduled for screening around the United states and The United Kingdom over the next few months.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Spare (the) change - a penny for my thoughts

At my high school reunion a couple of weeks ago, an old classmate asked me what I planned to do. I mentioned that I wasn't sure as we were moving to Doha. "You're immigrating?"he asked.
I stopped... thought... and realised : well, I guess I am.

My boss gave a farewell pseudo-speech sometime last week. It was slightly strange hearing those words because I never felt that I was ever really a part of that space. Was it a deliberate disinvestment on my part, knowing that my future was on 'screensaver' moode and would be chnaging soon? Perhaps. I was there for nine months - it's crazy how a month turns into four turns into nine.

These farewell things are a bit of a formality. I realise that as much as I bemoan formalities, I'm suckered into creating and maintaining them out of politeness. Bah - politeness - my achilles heel. I'll take passion or courage any day, but what d I get stuck with? sterile politeness.

Then the visa comes and I need to book a ticket.

Staying in Cape Town for some months last year, I came to realise that the grass on the other side is not always as green as it seems. Change is change is change and contexts may enhance or detract from the overall experience, but the true constant and decisive factor is 'the self'. And grudgingly I admit that , yes... the universe does lie within.

It's always 'the people' and relationships that tear me apart. I know that the world is small and ever-shrinking but the thought of leaving behind rock-solid support-structures leaves me hollow. I often feel that I hold relationships in too much esteem. That perhaps my strong feelings of love aren't always reciprocated - but it doesn't really bother me much.
Don't be a baby I tell myself. Man-up ...
But 'myslef' really knows that's it's for a good reason that I'm being so clingy, so nostalgic and so sentimental - I've met and fallen in love with so many real people ofver the past years. Selfless people, spiritual people, ambitious people, intelligent people. People who have been strength when all that I could do was collapse. God knows that I have reason to feel nostalgic...

Thursday, September 16, 2010


A made-for-hollywood type of movie- generous mix of sci-fi, some action scenes with a dose of mind-bending.It was a winning Hollywood formula - and I fell for it.

I think that it tried a little too hard to be an 'important movie'.

Fascinating aspects included concepts raised in the plot. Time lapse during dreams is intruiging. Relating the concept of this life appearing to be 'only but a day' when seen in context of the Hereafter seems conceivable - time is a relative construct.
As with 'The Matrix trilogy', we come to question the nature of which reality is the 'true reality'. It was a mind trip for sure. However, I agree with Ned's comment that it lacked clever dialogue.

The magic element was missing - but overall, it was a piece of an afternoon well(ish) spent.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


One chance at it - this thing called life

living on the brink...

Ever feel like you are on the brink of thinking something important, like you have the need to get something out of your mind but you're not sure what it is? Do you find companionship in the solitude of your thoughts articulated - to yourself?

Ever feel like you're on the brink of living the life that you think that you're supposed to be living. Like a few more steps... you're almost there.

Do you ever feel content yet driven ... to somewhere else

On the brink - of now...

Thursday, August 5, 2010


when you share your heart-ache with me, my heart aches.
I think that I will be weaker but I am alright,
my heart beats in sync with the pain that you've shared
but only for moments
while you carry your pain until Mercy cares to
lift it

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Quarter Life Crisis

A few jovial chats with friends (and confidants) over the past year has left us with the term 'quarter-life-crisis'(Nedism). It's sort of a joke - mostly.
Recent intense chats with friends makes me realise that this is a very real phenomonen.
We are experiencing that plateau that is often the stimulis for intense dissatisfaction with the status-quo ... of our own lives.
What our parents previously experienced at a later age, we find ourselves experiencing sometime in the late twenties(Laherism). This is defined as 'desolation of the late twenties' (Nedism).
Seriously though. We (middle-class professionals) generally have our immediate physical needs (as Maslow defines them) taken care of at an earlier age. We enter careers at a higher salary than previous generations, leaving us with more disposable income and disposable time. More time to self-actualise ... to a point of realisation and dissatisfaction.

I wiki-pedia-ed (as this is not an academic article)'mid-life crisis' and some interesting points came up:
Theoretical basis:
"Although midlife crisis has lately received more attention in popular culture than serious research, there are some theoretical constructs supporting the notion. Jungian theory holds that midlife is key to individuation, a process of self-actualization and self-awareness that contains many potential paradoxes. Although Carl Jung did not describe midlife crisis per se, the midlife integration of thinking, sensation, feeling, and intuition that he describes could, it seems, lead to confusion about one's life to date and one's goals. Later, Erik Erikson held that in life's seventh stage, middle adulthood, people struggle to find new meaning and purpose to their lives; their questioning, he believed, could lead to what we now call a midlife crisis."

"Individuals experiencing a midlife crisis have some of these feelings:
search of an undefined dream or goal
a deep sense of remorse for goals not accomplished
desire to achieve a feeling of youthfulness
need to spend more time alone or with certain peers"

'A search of an undefined dream or goal' was a point that stood out. Many people that I speak to articulate this sense.

A one-one-one with a good friend this evening hilighted the concept of a discrepency.
We theorised that while we consider ourselves spiritually aware beings who have an apparent 'balance', perhaps we are too grounded in a materialistic existence. Our souls and mind realise a higher purpose or another way, but we are 'stuck' and our souls 'want out'.Perhaps... it's a theory.

So then onto the next level - does the 'intensely spiritual path' hold the answer. Do the roads to all existential crises lead to Sufism ? progress...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

a visit to the the Graveyard

Do you visit the qabaristaan often?
It was strange that there was a type of serenity that permeated the place. I was humbled to see so many young people visiting. I also marvelled at the anonymous souls who take the effort to keep the graves in order. The guys that maintain mosques, upkeep the JK's, organise the ghusal's and tend the graves - small kindnesses, yet ample consciousness.

after the visit, somehow the theme of
'settling accounts' came to mind
zakaah, missed salaah, outstanding fasts...
rights of others that I have not fulfilled.
But memory is a fickle foe

Sunday, July 11, 2010

on greatness

I think that we've come to associate greatness with recognition because so many of the people that we know are achieving that : tangible accolades in the form of public recognition or positions of influence.

To decide to resign oneself to mediocrity, to assume that you will be comfortable with day-to-day -drudgery-for-the-sake-of, is a means of writing your own obituary, if you have an inquiring spirit - that is. The process of deciding to settle for (deliberate use of the word) the very ordinary means that you have dissected out the converse and found it to be unappealing.

This one guy was mentioning to me some time back about how he felt cheated because he was told that

he/we would do something important and meaningful , and that with a sense of disillusion, he realised that this might never happen. So who do you take your frustrations out on : yourself? The guys who sold you the dream in the first place ? god forbid – your Creator?

So what is greatness then?

In the context of life, purpose and other such philosophical luxuries, I think that it's the process of ensuring that you are at every step, inching closer towards realising your potential. YOUR potential.

A very specific, exceptionally individualised definition.

To realise YOUR potential takes a measure of honesty. To understand your capacity without limiting your ability to move beyond perceived boundaries, is challenging. Ideally, with this honesty would come a measure of settled-ness, an ease and self-confidence.

Perhaps greatness is not as much a destination as it is a process.

To settle for mediocrity would imply a refutation of striving – unless of course it's mediocrity that you are striving for. Striving and beating your personal best is in keeping with Islamic philosophy -this is Ihsan. This is greatness. It may not be as perceptible the broader context, but greatness (especially of spirit) has this way of being difficult to contain – pouring on out from the microcosm onto the macrocosm.

That other type of greatness, while often thrust upon deserving men, tends to be this hollow structure. Not that the recipient is undeserving, but because society is often fickle.

honest suffering

Shall I tell you what is worst than honest suffering?
It is one man's overlordship
over another

What is worst than grinding hard work?
Slogging for the excesses of the other

What can be worst than a death
in clear conscience
A life of lies and crossed fingers
behind dagger-handled backs

Who stands taller-
an honorable discomfort
or a malicious ease?


Many a time that I have greatly faltered
I was looking towards others for validation

some for my best successes came
when I was looking towards attaining
something more noble than success

Some of my emptiest words were
forged by pretense
some of my sweetest sayings
sprang from sincerity

life, what is life ? (inspired a bit by MZH and Marshall Mathers)

What is the present?
Could it be an the junction between past challenges/success
and future ambitions?
The moment wherein all resources (human,material and intellectual)
must exert itself towards purpose
in the interpretation that one senses most apt.
Is it that fleeting interlude that changes the future into the past?

What is worth defining oneself by?
Material possessions are tangible enough
for the smart man not to covert.
What about relationships – temprorary,
in a non-fatilistic way.
What about ones mind -
beware of the challenge that might
take thought and rationality away.
What reigns eternal are the
deeds that are stored
from the present in a realm
futuristic beyond conception.

What is life?
A purposeful mystery
synonymous with the secrets
of death

What's in a picture?

in a picture is the brutality
of time's progression

the realisation of the dynamism
and arrogant stampede
of progress

in a picture are two strangers
four years ago,
now partners

in a picture is dad's
caretaking presence
so tangible

in a picture is an uncle's

in a picture is the gap
of births to come

oh, to take a mental snapshot of the present
that can be reminisced upon four years later

Oh, to cherish the moment that is now


The notion of travel, like the flawed love of escapism,wraps around my mind like an object-less romance. To roam, for no purpose other than the indulgence of experience and the need to evade permanence. To shrug off dependency and dependents and to live as a vagabond to the mercy of life's simple pleasures - could I be so brave?
or... so cowardly ?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

waiting for revelation

so you've done most of what you think you've needed to do
and what you haven't done, you've read about or watched in the movies
And you're waiting for some great like ... revelation
some redemption in embossed lettering

Hoping that as you walk through the streets something
may just catch your eye, instead of everything seeming like pirated re-runs.

As you roam the bookshelf you hope to find that masterpiece that will just inspire
But all you find are rehashed ideas and stunted ideals.

And you're waiting for the great reformer or charismatic revolutionary,
the noble saint promising deliverance ... from yourself.

Everything has been overused,
music overplayed, innovation overdone,
technology overworked, labourers underpaid.

Moments are grey
Movements cliched
Quick highs
Eternal lows

Saturday, April 10, 2010

fact is stranger than fiction

Perhaps some classics have made it to the fiction shelves because had the philosophies of social structure been purported as factual projections and analysis, the authors might have been proclaimed heretics.

Two works 'Brave New World' (Alduos Huxley) and '1984' (George Orwell) are largely seen as prophetic, but the timelessness of their theories centers around an accurate analysis of human nature.

Orwell outlines a sense that human nature is constant and that there is a longing to return to an original form or state of consciousness. Huxley focuses more on conditioning. Each of his central characters, even though momentarily restless with the status quo, longs for that environment of comfort that comes from their respective conditioning.

The theme which was of most interest to me was the concept of 'mass control' and the instruments used to achieve this. Dumbing down of a 'higher consciousness' is achieved through controlled dissemination and promotion of base indulgence.

Both works had a strong emphasis on the sexual nature of man. An overindulgence in base desires is seen in both works as a distraction from self actualisation and the realisation of intellectual potential.
Pornography is seen as a tool of subversion.

Interestingly, music is seen in both works as a means of mindless preoccupation – the type of music being churned out in those respective societies. Meaningless rhyming sentences, repeated often enough entrenching meaningless phrases into the psyche. I wondered about the foresight of these authors and whether Orwell did in fact have a time machine that stole glimpses onto the present Billboard hits.

The mood in '1984' was a darker, more suspicious form of control – this is more honest, I believe than the superficial 'joy' described in 'Brave New World' which was a measure of entrapment too.
An analysis of present day would reveal a combination of both forms of control – the structured 'state apparatus' and the subversive indulgence in smaller distractions so as to avoid applying the mind to a higher purpose.

Are there obvious 'architects of control'? Conspiracy theories ( arrivals) would have us believe this. Or is it that when man functions outside of a paradigm of absolute values, he tends to head down a familiar pattern of destruction.

There is a sense that both authors are unraveling their personal theories and end off in a somewhat sermon-style conclusion – these are fascinating conclusions though.

Orwell's novel, true to its realistic but morbid temperament ends with the independent, thinking voice being silenced and suppressed. Although Huxley's voice of reason (in the form of the Savage) comes to a chilling end, there is some honour in this as he has tried to remain true to his ideals.

Sometimes facts are so strange that they can only be safely passed off as fiction.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

guess who just rediscovered her blog?


Dead man walking

you know it's there
just a-stalking every person
who's a-walking
but we'll just pretend alright?
hush ...

Friday, March 12, 2010


A disjointed post to re-activate my blog brain and to stop my mind from going down a path of pure empiricism. What does writing do for me? It pushes thoughts out in a format that isn't lazy. Seeing thoughts in concrete lettering makes me scoff at the gaping holes in them.Now poetry (or my version of it) is easy. It's not meant to have structure. It can be as fleeting and tangential as I sometimes feel. Prose, prose... the nemesis ...

Current philosophical dilemma:
The elusive nature of time and life has been firmly established.Where is the balance between maximising the present and being prudent about 'securing' for the future. In a time when the present life is seen as the end in itself, securing security at every point seems to be the overwhelming pressurising thrust. This tends to make one insecure (oh great irony) and selfish in a way. Gathering enough so that you may always have enough. But is enough ever enough? Planning , building, securing ... for a later that may never come.

While 'peer pressure' was once written off as a challenge of teenagers, I wonder about the pressure to 'succeed'- to have tangible accolades as a medallion for efforts put in.
I realised that you can't run away from 'pressures', they will follow you or you will return to them. The solution, i know (with my mind, not heart) lies in creating a space around yourself. An impenetrable fortress of determination (the magnitude of that statement is enough to put me off striving for this).

If these thoughts seem staccato,then it's a perfect manifestation of me right now. I know that cohesion is a process. Patience,patience... the nemesis.