Sunday, December 30, 2007

Taare Zameen Par - A Review

I saw the movie Taare Zameen Par yesterday. It was a choice of either that or Kite Runner. And frankly, I am glad I chose Taare Zameen Par.

Without giving the story away, it's about a kid who has a problem and his teacher, Aamir Khan, who deals with it and teaches the rest of us a thing or two.

This year saw two movies (Chak De and Taare Zameen Par) that were both away from the run-of-the-mill romances, minus heroines and starring the leading man in equal footage with the rest of the cast - and yet both look to be big hits. It is proof that there is space in Bollywood for non-formulaic movies - as a long as its well made.

Taare Zameen Par has a solid script, excellent acting and does not drag on or insert unnecessary drama when there is no need to. It is a simple story, told well. You can take your whole family to the movie and enjoy a great Eid and New Year's treat. Two songs from the movie, Maa and Bum Bole are very good and well picturized.

If you have not seen this movie yet, you should.

Rating: 5 stars.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Eid Can Be Fun, No... Really!

I was watching Little Mosque on the Prairie. I admit - I had given up on the show in the first season - only to fall in love with it in its second season. It's a perfect blend of comedy, satire, poignancy and awareness, all packaged in appropriate sized doses of humour. And the last episode was about Eid and Christmas.

Admit it, Christmas looks great. Decorating the Christmas tree, shopping for gifts, hiding presents, caroling, cookies, family gathering, decorating the house and lighting the streets - it all looks fun. And what do we have for Eid?

I used to remember Eids of my childhood in the Middle East and it was mostly fun. We would have similar activities - waking up early for the morning prayers, chanting "Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Walillahil Hamd!", going around the houses, eating gulab jamun and roshogolla and shaan papri and parathas, wearing the new clothes (I remember as a kid loving the new Eid clothes so much I slept with the shoes next to me), opening the new gifts (the gun that let out smoke was great!) and then on top - Eidi! I mean - free money AND gifts - Eid beats Christmas, or so I thought.

Well, nowadays Eid in the West sucks. I am going to come and say it plainly what Muslims want to shy away from - Eid here sucks. And the fault is mostly of the Muslims.

First of all, not everyone celebrates Eid on the same day. Admit it or not, and don't chalk it up to "diversity of Muslims" - Eid needs to be celebrated on the same day by Muslims in the city. The fault is entirely on (parts of) the community, who want to celebrate Eid in union with their relatives back home. On the other hand you have our some others (hello Babar) who still wants to sight the moon with the naked eye and says no to calculations. So... I just wish we would ALL PICK ONE SYSTEM and stick with it. Whatever it is.

It's no fun calling up someone to say "Eid Mubarak" and they go "Ya? Well good for you I am still fasting!". Immediately you lose half the community there.

Second, it seems Muslims go out of their way to have other stuff on Eid. When this wonderful country gives you a perfect excuse to defer exams, get personal days or other reasons to avoid work and studies, citing "religious reasons", there is NO VALID EXCUSE to have exams on Eid day, or not take off even 2 hours off work for Eid prayers, or have other commitments not Eid related on Eid day.

"Where's Montu?"

"Oh he's at school - he had exams today."

"Montu, why didn't you defer the exams? It's Eid!"

"Oh, I just wanted to get it over with. Besides, Eid sucks anyways."

Third, do you plan on how to make Eid fun?

If you are a kid growing up in the West, how will that kid appreciate Islam when supposedly the most fun thing associated with Islam - Eid - sucks? Anything that has to be fun has to be planned. And Eid has stuff associated with it that is, believe it or not, fun.

If you are a young girl, did you plan a henna party? Call up other girls and arrange to have everyone come over to someone's house and have a henna party. Get some music, get some dance beats, and get it on. No, music is not haraam and it's all girls anyways.

If you are a parent, did you buy new clothes for all your kids? It IS a Eid tradition and yes, it is almost fard. Save some money, and don't say you don't have as it should be part of the budget, but GET SOME NEW CLOTHES for Eid. If you can buy new clothes on Boxing Day you can buy them for Eid day.

If you are a guy what are you doing? If the weather permits you should plan a family or friends day thing. BBQ, games, outing, movies, whatever! Make it a tradition. We had a tradition of a huge cricket game on Eid when we lived in the Middle East (Petrol Pump East versus Electra Road). Ever since we came to Canada it has changed to going bowling with the neighbors in the evening. Traditions change but having fun should not.

Right now our community here always has a Eid dinner on the weekend after Eid - and it's full of cultural programs (Bengali dances, music, songs and of course FOOD), but bottom line - the practises, the cooking (women complain about it but they secretly love it - truthful about most things related to women) - etc. but bottom line, it is fun.

Eid should not just be going to prayers in the morning in a badly organized mosque and then coming home, calling some few relatives and then going to the mall by yourself. Eid should be fun and it's on you to make it so.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Please Give Liya Your Support

My friend Liya's uncle is fighting a discrimination case today. Please head over there and give her your support.

This shit really pisses me off, especially after the Vancouver airport taser event.

And what pisses me off even more is the attitude of some people who then go "oh our police can do no wrong the guy must have deserved it, they get a lot of shit for doing their job".

Sunday, December 09, 2007

"I am not on Facebook"

A conversation with a good friend of mine.

Him: Give me the link to your album of your Bangladesh trip.

Me: It's on Facebook.

Him: I disabled my Facebook account.

Me: So you are not returning to Facebook?

Him: Yes, I am not going back to Facebook. I am making a point. It takes too much of my time and people are very immature on Facebook. I would rather not see that side of them.

Me: But the only online album I have is on Facebook.

Him: Go to the album and copy the public link URL and give that to me so I can see your albums without going on Facebook.

Me: But you will be seeing my albums which are on Facebook.

Him: But I won't be going into Facebook. Oh yeah, and send me those other albums as well, plus ... blah blah...

Me: So you will be seeing my Facebook albums, as well as those others, all of which are on Facebook, but you will not be going into Facebook, and thus still be making your point about how Facebook is encroaching into our lives and how you reject such encroachment?

Him: Exactly.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

News Around The World As I See It

So Bill Clinton thinks the media should focus better on his wife's "record". He also said "I would pick her and be here if we weren't married.".

For the, er, record, Bill Clinton DID pick someone else while he was married, and the only record I can think of Hillary is that she is Bill's wife (and she must not have done a very good job there too).

I don't know what bugs me most about Hillary. To me she is someone who sniffs the polls and decides her position of the day. I remember she kissed Arafat's wife once and the Jews in New York made a big deal out of it - then she became vehemently pro-Israel to appease them.

Then there's Barack Obama. The guy is all nice guy and then he wants to bomb Pakistan (hey, gotta show them I am tough, eh). Then people say he's not really like that just pretending to be tough to appeal to those who won't vote for him any way. Uh, sure. Whatever.

We also have Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (if you can't pronounce that think A-Mad-Dinner-Jacket) who wants to build a "World Islamic Court".
"Some international organizations, specially the Security Council, have not been formed based on justice. The way this council is governed is a symbol of injustice with global effects," the Iranian president said.
Er, sure. Justice, right? Given Iran's fantastic justice system, where women are put into jail for not wearing the proper scarf or be beaten to death for photographing a building, I am sure other countries are begging to sign up.

In Dubai they have smashed a major vice ring.
Dubai is considered to be the most liberal of the seven-emirate group, with a booming sex industry.Anti-trafficking campaigners say Dubai authorities often turn a blind eye to prostitution for economic reasons.
I mean, when you hire lots of poor South Asian men, pay them 4 Dhs a day, forbid them from going home except once every 2 years, and that too for mere 2 weeks, you'd think sex would be the last thing on their minds, right? Then again, earning 4 Dhs a day, and prostitution reportedly a "booming" business, the customers must be getting a bargain. No wonder Dubai is called the Shopper's Paradise.

Meanwhile, you know those Sardar jokes you are forwarding to me? Very bad news if you are in India.

Toronto is now the most multi-cultural city in the world. Someone now wants to build a 'black only' school here. What a stupid idea. I mean, next, what if Asians now want a whole chunk of Toronto to themselves (besides Scarborough, that is)?

And that's the News Around The World, as I see it, this week.