Monday, September 27, 2021

September, End of.

Warning: Filler post begins. Well, when one is writing a post per month, one does not have the liberty to tag a post as a filler willy-nilly. But that should not stop one from getting disappointed as the end of this month approaches and only a quarter of the current year remains. Also the time left for Nokia to update (my) Nokia 9 PureView phone to Android 11! So whether or not this post qualifies as a filler, we will talk about a lot of stuff in this post, like Anime, Shers, Movies, TV shows, etc. Wait a minute, that amounts to just two things, once everything is said and read…

Anyway, to the first topic of Shers (I recently learnt that ‘Ashaar’ (अशार) is the plural of ‘Sher’ (शेर) but old habits die hard as old dogs say!). The following two are from poet Mukesh Aalam:

अब तो सारा आलम ही इन रंगों से शर्मिंदा है
मज़हब वालों ने कुछ ऐसे फर्क बताए रंगों के

Ab to saara aalam hi in rangon se sharminda hai
Mazahab waalon ne kuch aise fark bataae rangon ke

Even the whole world is now ashamed of these colours
The sectarians told such differences among the colours

मुझे दुनिया के तानों पर कभी गुस्सा नहीं आता
नदी की तह में जाके सारे पत्थर बैठ जाते हैं

Mujhe duniya ke taanon par kabhi gussa nahin aata
Nadi ki tah mein jaake saare patthar baith jaate hain

I do not ever get angry over the world’s taunts
All the stones sink to lie down on the riverbed

–मुकेश आलम (Mukesh Aalam)

The first sher is a Maqta (of course) where the word ‘aalam’ (आलम) is the poet’s (pen)name but also means the world, as required by the Sher to make sense. The second sher got chosen not just because it was easy to translate but also because it tries to weave an allegory in the two sentences. It also involves the world but with another word ‘duniya’ (दुनिया). I struggle to come up with synonyms for ‘world’ in English. Words like ‘cosmos’, ‘universe’ sound too grand whereas ‘Earth’ sounds too flat (no pun intended; in fact, there is none). The full video, where the above snippets of Ghazals can be heard (in the poet’s own voice), follows:

That leads us smoothly to the second topic of Audio-Visual stimulations. I finished watching an anime series on Netflix a few weeks ago. I had started it sometime last year, no idea why. It was/is titled “The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.”. It is a ‘slice of life’ anime about a psychic high-school boy who is an all-powerful being able to use psychokinesis, teleportation, and whatever the author needs him to be able to do to get out of situations where his powers are in the danger of being discovered by people around him. Only his parents (Spoiler alert: and his elder brother {more Spoilers: and a couple of his classmates [Spoilers keep coming: and later his grandparents too!]}) know about his powers. The whole series is then about him trying to hide his powers from the whole ‘world’ and seem as an average high-school guy (literally average, as in class rank, athletic abilities, etc.) but he keeps getting into situations from which he ‘always’ escapes unscathed. Enough with the summary of the series, let me tell you about what it feels like watching Saiki K. It is fast-paced with incessant gags/jokes after jokes/gags, full of parody of other manga/anime, parody of its own source manga, consistent breaking of the fourth wall, hilarious and ridiculous pandemonium. The only other manga/anime (among the ones I know) that surpasses such chaotic pandemonium is ‘Nichijou’ and I’m not even going to try to describe it (because I didn’t dare to describe it here either). But both are highly recommended viewing/reading for this year, or any other time for that matter.

Moving on to the touchy topic of Movies and Movie theaters. The latter are starting to open up again after a long break (who knows why?) and we are starting to cautiously venture out in search of ‘good’ movies to watch and eat bucket loads of popcorn. (The latter is just my superpartner but since the bucket gets loaded, I also dig in more often than I’d like to admit.) The first movie we watched (since the re-opening this year) was “The Green Knight” because we went to watch “Reminiscence”. The second movie we watched was, of course, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” because why not! The third movie we watched was “Free Guy” because we haven’t watched “Deadpool”. The fourth movie we will watch will be “No Time to Die” because it features Nokia phones… WOW! The fifth movie we will watch will be “Eternals” because I haven’t read any Marvel comics. The sixth movie we will watch will be “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” because I have no idea what this movie is about but the name sounds familiar! The seventh movie we will watch will be “Spiderman: No Way Home” because it has Spiderman and Dr. Strange. The eighth movie we will watch will be obviously “The Matrix Resurrections” because what’s the point of life, otherwise!

Showing some restraint, I now move on to the funny topic of (British) TV Shows. The new seasons of “QI”, “The Russell Howard Hour”, etc. have started this year. A new show “The Complaints Department” is also funny enough to be watched weekly. Another ‘new’ show “Late Night Mash” is also watch-worthy. The hardest quiz show “Only Connect” is also running along. VCM is particularly funny this series. But DM has yet to feature, maybe he will in some of the upcoming episodes. “HIGNFY”, “Question Team” and the year-end specials are (of course) the things to look forward to in these stressful times. Especially, Charlie Brooker’s take on 2021. What the hell is he doing these days, anyway? I get that he’s now a father of a few kids but then one 2 hours show at the end of each year along with Barry Shitpeas and Philomena Cunk isn’t asking too much, is it? Sadly, one person who is being/will be missed in the panel shows is Sean Lock. He died recently (16 August) of lung cancer and “tears can’t be written down, Jimmy”.

August was the month when the world lost two great (particle) physicists: T. Maskawa and S. Weinberg. Not to be outdone, September turned itself to be the month which took away two more physicists: Antony Hewish, an astronomer and Thanu Padmanabhan, a cosmologist. To be frank, I did not know about Prof. Hewish due to massive ignorance on my part. He had discovered pulsars and was awarded a Nobel Prize for that. Prof. Padmanabhan’s research contributions include cosmological structure formation, dark energy, and quantum gravity. I have a slightly more close connection with him (though, I never met him personally) as I started learning about path integrals from one of his many books when I was an undergrad at IITKGP. It is a bit strange that my initial exposure to General Relativity was from a particle physicist and to Quantum Field Theory from a cosmologist!

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