Thursday, June 24, 2021
Thursday, April 29, 2021
There are not many Harry Potter terms with Z. I had to google for the Potter Index. ( I have begun to observe that to google is a universally accepted verb nowadays).
In the very first few pages of Book 1 we see him going to the zoo and realizing that a snake could understand him. In other words he speaks "Parseltongue". There is this scene with the sand boa that escapes after talking to him.
My son is a big animal aficionado and hence we have done innumerable trips to the zoo so much so that I declare sometimes " if I am left blindfolded at the entrance I will know how to get out"
I somehow do not like the idea of animals being deprived of their freedom and being confined to cages. If the enclosures are big enough and they have enough space to move about its better.
One thing I learnt from my son during one of our expeditions is that tigers do not hunt zebras . The latter belongs to Africa and there are no tigers there. But if tigers were released in a place with zebras would they consider them as food or friends I wonder ! Not in a wicked sense but wondering how animal brains are wired !
One of the animals here at the Singapore zoo which was a revelation to me when I encountered it for the first time is the "Tapir".
|Image source: Wikipedia|
It is a black and white creature that looks like a pig with an elephant's trunk. Baby tapirs apparently look like a watermelon with similar stripes. A zoo visit can fill us with awe at the wonderful designs and patterns of natural flora and fauna! Have you seen a Tapir before ?
|Image credit: Noah Buscher on Unsplash.com|
Wednesday, April 28, 2021
The first time I came across the word ball may have been when my father got me the quintessential striped plastic ball with blue, red and yellow colours. Then came along Cinderella and I knew there is a ball which is an event which people attend dressed fabulously and dance. I am still trying to fathom how on earth one can dance wearing glass slippers. Super Durable Glass I must say and they would have been quite heavy wouldn't they ?
The Yule ball is an event that happens during the Triwizarding tournament in the Goblet of Fire book of Harry Potter series. The participants are supposed to bring partners and there are some happenings around who dances with who and who ends up sabotaging all hopes of a good time.I thought Emma Watson looked ravishing in that scene in the movie.
Dancing in pairs like this is a concept we Indians came to know from the West. During the days of the British Raj it was common for the English residing in India to have events where the English gentlemen waltzed with their ladies. But the Indians mostly did not have access nor were culturally inclined towards it. It is not a common practise in India to have Prom nights or other similar events in high school. I came to know of them mainly from Hollywood movies and TV series. In college though, we had a dance workshop where I learnt ones like Tango, Waltz and Jive for fun and put up a show just for fun.
We do have our own share of community dancing.Visit an Indian wedding and you would know. If you have watched Indian movies you would be accustomed to the fact that music and dance play important roles.Music direction and Choreography are significant departments in movie making. This sort of dancing has a huge influence on the masses especially kids and the youth. We have dance festivals, dance competitions, TV shows based on dancing and simple just-enjoy party dancing. During my teens , a Philips tape recorder was my constant companion and I loved dancing in my room ignoring my mother's pleas to reduce the volume ( oh yes I was a rebel!)
We have hundreds of traditional classical dance forms in India that takes years of practise to master with their own rules and methods and practises. They need to be learnt from trained teachers and is done with piety and reverence. A few examples are the Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak and Kathakali.
Below is a link to a youtube video giving a glimpse into one such dance form the Bharatnatyam.
What is your favourite dance form ?
Tuesday, April 27, 2021
It was so hard finding a word starting with X and that too from the Potter series! I was wavering between Horcrux and Bellatrix and finalized the latter.
Bellatrix Lestrange! One of the most evil characters in the whole of the Potter series! She is sort of a sadistic maniac who literally worships Lord Voldemort and rejoices inflicting pain and suffering. The point where she kills Sirius Black was an absolute shock.
That is one character or aspect rather wherein I felt that the movies did a better job than the books! Helena Bonham Carter had sort of magically breathed in so much life into her portrayal. You cannot help feeling absolute loathe and disgust at Bellatrix. Her menacing cackle , the way she whimpers with a mix of fear and excitement when Lord Voldemort addresses her and how she kind of creepily speaks to someone almost crawling behind their backs...the actress nailed it !
Another role by Carter that was pretty amusing was the one of the Queen of Hearts in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. Her "Off With the Head" at the drop of a hat was so amusing. That was the first movie we took our son to at the cinemas.
One role which she handled with absolute dignity and elegance was her award winning portrayal of Queen Elizabeth(King George VI s wife) in "The Kings Speech". That one was a movie I really enjoyed and I am a Colin Firth fan.
Recently I saw Oceans Eight and she plays this not so confident dress designer and that was pretty impressive as well.
Have you watched the Harry Potter movies ? Which actor or actress did you like the best ?
Monday, April 26, 2021
One object that makes an appearance in almost every page of the Potter Series and has a significant role to play in the climax is the humble wand. "The wand chooses its owner" as Rowling puts it.
If only I could repair a broken pair of spectacles or for that matter broken bones with a stick! Wands have a unique constituent at their core like a phoenix feather or a dragon heart string or a unicorn tail hair as in Harry's case.
I think the first time I heard about a wand was in the Cinderella story as a little girl. The whole concept of getting a carriage and a pretty dress and glass slippers at the swish of a wand!!! Its a Oooh! How magical! feeling and quite a girly thing I believe .
A couple of years ago for Halloween(its catching up here as well) my little girl was a garden fairy. She wore a green dress and it was easy to make a wand with cardboard and glittery paper. Five year old girls atleast in this part of the world love tiara s and wands!
I think holding an object like this in ones hand gives a sense of power or authority. Perhaps that is the reason monarchs and kings carried a sceptre in the good old days.( I hope I spelt that one right, the English language and its Cs after the S do confound me). I seriously wonder what exactly is the use of a sceptre other than looking majestic in pictures ( considering the fact that there was no photography at that time)
These poor guys already had clothes that were overflowing and super heavy. Combine the heavy jewellery and crown and on top of that something to hold aloft! Life was not easy for a king!
Another hand held stick I can think of is the mace carried by the leader of the military band. During the band formation, there are some maneuvers done using that including throwing it up in the air. It's apparently called a mace (Had to google that one) . It kind of adds a finishing touch to the band though it plays no part in the music getting played. Does it help in conducting the show similar to what a conductor does for an orchestra? Oh yes he carries a stick too and that is called a baton, I believe.
The mace I knew was the English translation of the Gadha a huge solid iron weapon depicted in Indian mythology stories as a a kind of iron ball with a long handle. The warriors in our stories had their own speciality in weaponry. Some were skilled archers as Arjuna and there were those like Bhima or Hanuman who yielded the Gadha. And most of our deities are represented with a Gadha symbolizing protection.
Perhaps a judge is given a gavel for the same reasons. Why not a bell ? A stick in hand portrays authority!
What are your thoughts?
Imagine a tonic, drinking which you are forced to speak out the truth and only the truth and nothing but the truth ! Forget about all the holy books upon which one has to swear in some courts of the world ! Such a tonic exists in the Harry Potter world and it is called Veritaserum.
Usually the term coined by Rowling has some roots that add a lot of sense to the explanation. Veritas is supposed to be the Roman goddess of truth.
It is kind of the lie detector or the truth forcer of the wizarding world.
I am reminded of Jim Carrey s Liar Liar movie. He also has a kind of truth spell affecting him. I recall a scene where he holds a red pen aloft and tries to declare " this pen is blue" but his mouth fails to cooperate and declares the truth!
Honesty is a virtue or character trait that is instilled from a very young age. But hush-hush circumstances and scenarios are universal, I believe.
Imagine if we all were like Pinocchio. For every simple lie we utter ( oh yes we all do I am sure) our noses would react. It would have been impossible to wear masks, I reckon !
My dad was manager of a company and his work was predominantly in sales and he was pretty passionate about his work. Every time a salesman selling a vacuum cleaner or a hand blender would ring our bell for door to door sales he would give them coffee and some paternal advise . He would say " in this profession you must first learn to lie a bit. "
There is a Tamil movie song called Azhagu. It means beautiful. A little girl sings that falling leaves are as beautiful as the flowers and the scorching sun is as beautiful as the rain .
In the long there are lines
Punnagai Veesidum paarvaigal Azhagu
Parvaigal theerndhadhum mounangal azhagu
Nanmaikku sollidum poygalum azhagu
Beautiful are the looks that smile
Beautiful are the silences that follow these looks
Beautiful are the lies told for the good (reasons)