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Posts Tagged ‘opinion’

Must Read Classics – Atlas Shrugged

Posted by Sowmya on March 9, 2013

So I have spent the last month with Ayn Rand i.e. I read The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged back to back and to the utter shock of the husband, finished both within a month. I was hooked from the first page and just could not put it down. It was like my teenage years when I used to read in the kitchen behind the cylinder because I was not allowed to switch on the lights elsewhere and I could just not sleep without finishing the book. Good times!

So this are just some lines which struck me and stayed with me after I shut the book too. These lines make a lot more impact in context but most of them are good as stand-alone lines and some are those I would love to tell the so called professionals and experts in today’s world.

There were loads of stuff I liked about it. Some are ‘briefly’ described here. If you have not read the book and don’t want any info that could be ‘spoilers’ then don’t read this now. I can’t think of any ‘spoiler’ but you never know –

My favorite character is neither John Galt nor Dagny Taggart but Henry (Hank) Rearden. Here is a completely logical character arc and one I could identify with. I loved his quiet confidence, his pride in his work, his ability to accept his errors and learn, his dilemmas and how he comes out of it all shining. This was a character I never thought would take the decision to give it all up but things change one by one and when he finally does take ‘the decision’ it felt right and flowed smoothly and did not kill the character for me. He had some of the best lines like –

When he finally makes his Metal after ten years of work –

  • He never felt loneliness except when he was happy
  • The feeling was a sum, and he did not have to count again the parts that had gone to make it
  • He remembered nothing distinct of the years between them; the years were blurred like a streak of speed. Whatever it was, he thought, whatever the strain and the agony, they were worth it, because they had made him reach this day

His thoughts about his family (could seem hard hearted for some) –

  • He despised causeless affection, just like he despised unearned wealth. They professed to love him for some unknown reason and they ignored all the things for which he could wish to be loved
  • She wanted to force upon him the suffering of dishonor -but his own sense of honor was her only weapon of enforcement

His convictions and opinions

  • To me, there is only one form of human depravity – the man without a purpose
  • He had never known fear because, against any disaster, he had held the omnipotent cure of being able to act. No, he thought, not an assurance of victory -who can ever have that? -only the chance to act, which is all one needs
  • The worst things about people is not the insults they hand out, but the compliments
  • What sort of code permitted the concept of a punishment that required the victim’s own virtue as the fuel to make it work?
  • I want to let the nature of this procedure appear exactly for what it is. If you need my help to disguise it -I will not help you
  • I can say to you that I have done more good for my fellow men than you can ever hope to accomplish -but I will not say it, because I do not seek the good of others as a sanction for my right to work

I also loved Francis d’Anconia. He seemed too perfect most of the time considering he was very rich and intelligent and kind of had it all. Despite that he seemed a nice guy who you would want to root for. And what was the cherry on the cake for me was the lovely detailing of the relationship between Francis and Rearden. Two men who respected and complemented each other beautifully –it worked very well for the story especially since it took away some of the spotlight from Dagny Taggart (which was a relief for me)

Some of Francis’ lines to Dagny –

  • He and she had never spoken of the things that happened to them, but only of what they thought and of what they would do…She looked at him silently, as if a voice within her were saying ; Not the things that are, but the things we’ll make….We are not to be stopped, you and I….
  • What’s the most depraved type of human being? The man without a purpose
  • There is nothing of any importance in life -except how well you do your work
  • The courage to say, not ‘It seems to me’, but ‘It is’ -and to stake one’ life on one’s judgment

Some stellar lines from his speech on money

  • Only the man who does not need it, is fit to inherit wealth -the man who would make his own fortune no matter where he started.
  • It’s the person who would sell his soul for a nickel, who is loudest in proclaiming his hatred of money -and he has good reason to hate it. The lovers of money are willing to work for it
  • Money is the barometer of a society’s virtue….Money is so noble a medium that it does not compete with guns and it does not make terms with brutality. It will not permit a country to survive as half-property, half-loot
  • No other language or nation had ever used these words (to make money) before; men had always thought of wealth as a static quantity -to be seized, begged, inherited, shared, looted or obtained as a favor.

Lines between Francisco and Rearden

  • If one’s actions are honest, one does not need the predated confidence of others, only their rational perception. The person who craves a moral blank check of that kind, has dishonest intentions, whether he admits it to himself or not
  • There are no evil thoughts, except one -the refusal to think
  • The worst guilt is to accept an undeserved guilt
  • A viler evil than to murder a man, is to sell him suicide as an act of virtue. A viler evil than to throw a man into a sacrificial furnace, it to demand that he leap in, of his own will, and that he build the furnace, besides.
  • He has equated virtue with pain and he will feel that vice is the only realm of pleasure

Don’t you love them already????

Somehow I did not like Dagny Taggart so much. I know it is fiction but her character seemed too good to be true. I could not accept the fact that every man she met fell in love with her, be it Eddie or Hank or Francisco or John. And then they all understand how it won’t work out and peacefully move out to make place for the other guy. Too utopian for a book set in a dystopian universe. I did read Rand’s logic behind it and could accept it to an extent. Maybe she could have stopped it with just one example. Every guy was kind of a stretch. Dagny could have been good friends / soul mates with them. I liked her relationship with Wyatt and Francisco (in the later part of the book). Maybe they could have been that way from the beginning. Also Dagny is so adamant about her railroad that her zeal began to grate on my nerves at some point. It was more like she knew she was making a mistake but refusing to accept it.

I also did not fall for John Galt, the ‘hero’ of this story, if you will. His story comes out in bits and pieces and there never seemed to be enough information to form an opinion about him. Maybe his character was so advanced on the ‘maturity’ or ‘reason’ scale that attributing mere human emotions to him seemed impossible. I would have liked some more meat on how he got to be where he got to be. I saw that in Rearden and to an extent in Francisco and so those characters were more identifiable and relatable. John Galt was like the superhero who jumps from space when there is trouble and saves the world. I could not relate to that.

I loved the entire book but somehow the ending did not live up to my expectations. I am unable to think of an alternative ending to it but somehow this end seemed too Bollywood-ish to me. I know she wrote the book before this became a Bollywood staple diet but maybe something else was possible as an ending.

Since the setting is dystopian, the situations and characters are bit of an extreme. So when you read the book, you need to keep that in mind. It may not sound plausible in our world today but after reading I somehow get the feeling we may be approaching such a scenario. I know that is very pessimistic of me and I know this won’t happen in my lifetime but it does seem a possibility considering the path the world is on to.

What I loved most about the book and about Ayn Rand is her way with words. She can put the perfect words for things we know and understand but may not be able to express. I also like the words and sentence construct she uses for conveying the most simple lines in a manner that stays with you long after. Sample these –

  • He didn’t want to make money, only to get it
  • I’ve hired you to do a job, not to do your best -whatever that is
  • But what came from it was only a desire to desire her, a wish to feel, not a feeling (my favorite line, more effective in context)
  • Nobody can accuse me of running a profit-making business (Profit is a dirty word, isn’t it? ;))
  • A future where so great a field of activity lay waiting that no time could be wasted on the comfort of its start (another favorite of mine –when she described Francisco’s house in the Valley)
  • If you don’t know, the thing to do is not get scared, but to learn (aptly put)
  • He has the power to choose but no power to escape the necessity of choice (Whoa!)
  • His body is given to him, it sustenance is not. His mind is given to him, its content is not.
  • Existence is Identity, Consciousness is Identification
  • Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think that you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.
  • To arrive at a  contradiction is to confess an error in one’s thinking; to maintain a contradiction is to abdicate one’s mind and to evict oneself from the realm of reality
  • To live, man must hold three things as the supreme and ruling values of his life: Reason -Purpose -Self-esteem
  • Independence is the recognition of the fact that yours is the responsibility of judgment and nothing can help you escape it -that no substitute can do your thinking, as no pinch-hitter can live your life -that the vilest form of self-abasement and self-destruction is the subordination of your mind to the mind of another, the acceptance of an authority over your brain, the acceptance of his assertions as facts, his say-so as truth, his edicts as middle-man between your consciousness and your existence
  • To hold, as man’s sin, a fact not open to his choice is a mockery of morality
  • The removal of a threat is not payment, the negation of a negative is not a reward, the withdrawal of your armed hoodlums is not an incentive, the offer not to murder me is not a value.

Strangely I could identify with a lot of possibly ‘controversial’ thoughts in this book. There were stuff I was always accused of or berated for. I liked the concept of the ‘virtue of selfishness’. That has been my belief for a long time and she gave voice to those thoughts.

I never could identify the halo around people who ‘sacrifice’ and have bugged many people with my ‘cold hearted’ opinions on the same. Check this line from John Galt’s speech as how sacrifice is viewed today Sacrifice is the surrender of that which you value in favour of that which you don’t. And how he goes on to denounce it is a class act!

I absolutely loved the ‘dignity of labor’ concept and the way she elucidated it; never in as many words but that was always there as an underlying theme running throughout the book – pride of your work. I loved this line – ‘There’s no such thing as a lousy job -only lousy men who don’t care to do it’.

Another virtue I could identify with was the concept of ‘love being respect’ and not as pity or lust or friendship. Not that those relationships are bad but that is not love. See how she puts it –

  • As there can be no causeless wealth, so there can be no causeless love or any sort of causeless emotion. An emotion is a response to a fact of reality, an estimate dictated by your standards. To love is to value

Another concept that stayed with me was how guiltless her joy is. It reminded me of the countless times I was warned -‘Don’t be too happy now, something awful will happen to you’ or ‘Don’t express your happiness to everyone, nazar lag jayegi!’

Another recurring theme was the confidence of people with ability and their absolute disregard to the rest of the world. It was again guiltless and they did not see the need to be ‘sensitive’ to others’ feelings. Check these –

  • Her feeling for the railroad was the same: worship of the skill that had gone to make it, of the ingenuity of someone’s clean, reasoning mind, worship with a secret smile that said she would know how to make it better some day
  • Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values
  • Whenever anyone accuses some person of being ‘unfeeling’, he means that that person is just
  • Nothing can make it moral to destroy the best. One can’t be punished for being good. One can’t be penalized for ability
  • He was a man who had never accepted the creed that others had the right to stop him (when she talks about Natheneil Taggart)
  • You know, I think that only if one feels immensely important can one feel truly light

Though I am as anti smoking as one can be, Ayn Rand’s definition of smoking left me amazed –

  • I like to think of fire held in a man’s hand. Fire, a dangerous force, tamed at his fingertips

I guess it is a well-known fact that Ayn Rand was an atheist and that is reflected throughout in this book. There were parts I could not fully agree with but her arguments are well put and tough to beat. This is an aspect that needs more thought from my end –regarding my belief in a Supreme Power and balancing that with every man is responsible for his destiny.


I do hope you read it and if you have, please drop in a line to say what you liked / disliked in it.

Posted in I BELIEVE, INSIGHTFUL?, NOW THAT'S ME | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Imagine this……..

Posted by Sowmya on August 13, 2010

So I was watching this total masala movie ….you know the typical one wheren the hero beats up 25 people at a time and then sings awesome songs and finds time to do social work as also kill the villians to save the world / country / city as the case maybe and play pranks on his friends and eat gaajar ka halwa made by his mom.

Okay, I knew what I was getting into and did not expect a very cerebral 3 hour ride. I was bored out of my skull and just needed to pass time. But some things are so beyond imagination….I could not believe what I saw. I am fully aware that the run of the mill movies are regressive especially with regard to gender equality but this one just takes the cake……

Scene Hero (a police inspector) goes to arrest one of the villains for killing his own daughter.

Inspector – I am arresting you because you murdered you own daughter. I have an arrest warrant. yada yada…….

Villain –How dare you arrest me? Do you know who I am? What crime have i committed? ………..

Inspector –I am an inspector, an honest one at that. I will definitely arrest you…..

Villain gets ballistic! I think he is totally bugged with the hero and his idealism. So he vents his frustration on his TV. He picks it up and throws it to the floor, then he does the same to his table, chairs, etc. Then comes this gem of a line………

Villain -My TV, I broke it. My table, I broke it. My chair, I  broke it.  My daughter, I killed her.  Just as you cannot arrest me for breaking my own stuff you cannot arrest my for killing my own daughter. She is mine to do whatever I want.

Genius!!!!! I was shell shocked! I have seen many movies where the male characters have such profound logic with regard to their wives i.e. she is mine to whatever I want to. Though no one explained it so graphically as this movie. But when something like this was talked about with respect to the daughter, I was heart broken. Daughters are not always first class citizens throughout the country but somehow such a blatant show disgusted me.

After this, I waited for the  hero to launch a spleen on women being ‘devi’, goddess, etc and how she is to be revered and not insulted in this fashion. But I was in for a shock…….a shock of epic proportions.

On seeing the logic of the villain’s words, the inspector hero is miffed. He vents his anger on some chairs, the showcase and other consumer durables around. The villain is infuriated and immediately catches the inspector hero’s collar.

Villain -What the hell do you think you are doing? How dare you break my stuff? I am going to report you to the Commissioner of Police!

Inspector *smug smile* – Well well! You just said you could do anything with your stuff. But the minute I broke you stuff you got angry and wanted to report me. In the same way, I am arresting you because you murdered another man’s girlfriend, the love of his life.

I was disgusted, shocked, infuriated…you name it.  So the logic being that a woman can be murdered by her father / brother till the murder rights are transferred on her marriage to her husband.

I am fine when the society’s evil are reflected through the villain’s point of view and then rectified by the hero who promotes truth, love and justice. But if a hero is shown to have such a commoditized view of a woman who is to justify it? Are we so seeped into such regressiveness that these are not censored or objected to?  Are only sex and gore to be censored? Not this absolutely horrific and pathetic attempt of regressiveness? I agree that cinema is mostly for entertainment despite many movie makers’ claim of it being a mirror of society. We do live with innumerable leaps of logic and stretching of imaginations. But when such notions are so subtly promoted, there should be a protest, an opposition of some sort. I can only imagine the cat calls from the audience when the hero would have spoken of the murdered girl being someone’s love. People would clap and enjoy the movie and go home not realizing that the notion of gender inequality has taken a stronger hold on them albeit subconsciously! That a woman’s murder will be seen as either an incident or a crime depending on her relationship with the killer! Abhorring absolutely!

Are we simply not taking two steps backward for every step forward? When will we have a truly emancipated woman in reel and real?

Posted in INSIGHTFUL? | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Hitchhiker’s Guide to Arranged Marriages -Part 2

Posted by Sowmya on July 16, 2009

Hope all you guys could digest Part 1 well and I am stretching imagination to the limits when I say all of you are more than eagerly waiting for part deux.

Me thinks that before I reach the ‘boy meets girl’ stage I should elucidate the types of guys you usually meet (rather I met). This obviously can’t be an exhaustive list but covers the usual suspects –

Maun vrat Muni -The true believers of ‘Silence is golden’. It took all my energy, effort and patience to get a 2 sentence worth from them. Any question was met with a single word answer followed by “u?” Something like –

Me: So what do you do? (lame question, but what else does one say?)

He: I work in blah company as blah. U?

Me: I am an investment banker working in blah company. I did my schooling and college in Mumbai as also my CA.


Me: So what is your work profile

He: Blah. U?

Me: Blah blah blah blah blah blah(pause for breath) blah blah…….


Such encounters ended with me trying to tear my hair out

Motor Mouth -Talk of opposites!! These guys, a rare breed i agree, ask a question and answer it themselves. And you are enriched with knowledge about them, their families, neighbours, friends, colleagues, state of this country, next rainfall, sensex movements, bollywood gossip,….in effect everything. Something like –

He: So what do you do? I work in XYZ company as ABC. During weekends I watch movies, catch up on some reading and meet my friends. Last week we saw this movie -it was so bad. I have decided never to watch movies with that actor ever again. Btw did you know he is going around with this actress. They have a flat in Andheri. Must have made lot of money to buy flats in Andheri. The real estate prices are shooting up like crazy. My cousin bought a house in Chembur for $$$ last year. This year my neighbour bought it for the same amount in Vashi. They shifted yesterday and we are having new neighbours tomorrow. Actually they were supposed to shift today but had to postpone because of the rains. That reminds me, what was your 26/7 experience? You know what happened with me?…………… 

Me: (Thank God! I chose the seat facing the TV)

Floodgate -When I started this post I swore I will not reveal any regional biases that I strongly possess. So I shall keep that word and continue. The rest is upto your imagination and understanding 😉 Quite a few of the guys I met were totally smitten. NO! Not by me. Not at all that. But by the general female population. Any lady and they would drool. It was quite embarrassing to handle that. If you like a guy drooling over you all the time, go ahead. But I could not. I ran like….like I have never run before. (And I have never run before)

Ice Ice Baby -Talking of opposites, I also found quite a few who thought they were the Almighty’s gift to womankind….like they are doing me a big favour by sitting at the same table. Well, well. Keep those thoughts and go home dude! Something like –

He: Actually I am not in much favour of this whole arranged marriage stuff, you know. Its like…like….crazy man. I mean how do people do that kind of thing.

Me: (Grrr… go home and stuff yourself dude) hmm followed by plastered smile

Medieval Man – Actually most guys are medieval….even those who think they are ‘modern’. But as far as they make an effort….I forgive them. I am quite benevolent that way 🙂 But some take the cake. Sample this –

He: I will let you do whatever you want.

Me: (And please introduce yourself Mr. God Almighty)  Oh !

He: As far as you take care of my parents and do everything for them, you can do anything you want.

Me: (Ah! What untold freedom. I am speechless) Hmmm

Yeah! I tell you they were fun.

Ideal Man -Most welcome to my humble abode to meet him 😀

I’ll conclude in Part 3. Keep watching this space!!!

Posted in I WENT TO, INSIGHTFUL?, MUMBAI MERI JAAN, NOW THAT'S ME, ZILLION YEARS AGO | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

This week in Idiot Land

Posted by Sowmya on July 28, 2008

Am getting set in my new space….it needs some tweeking and turning here and there……Hopefully My Idiot Land will be complete in the next few days to come –
Till then I have to tell you about 2 programs that totally got on my nerves over the weekend. I think its high time the idiot boxes (TV & FM) get better and leave stereotypes behind –
1. Read about this new reality show to be produced by Balaji Telefilms -‘Kaun Jeetega Bollywood ka Ticket’. I am not bugged about such a wierdo name (I am, but that is not the subject of this post). Its some kind of contest with each pair has one celeb and one non-celeb for the 4 zones of the country -East, West, North and …………CENTRAL…well oh well. I am looking up my contact list for my school teacher who taught me about the four directions being east, west, north and SOUTH. Have the guys at TV Land heard of this?? The south….4 lovely states…..with 4 different languages. Breaking news -“Not everyone is a madrasi”. But no! Why was I expecting this? The hindi entertainment industry has constantly ignored the south. I fail to understand why. Before I am accussed of regional politics let me assure you I am a proud, extremely proud Mumbaite….born and brought up there and lived all my life. And have often wondered if geography was taught differently to different parts of India. I remember another program sometime back -Antakshari, me thinks, on Zee. 4 zones -with Central being the fourth. Wierd! Extremely!
The South does have amazing TV options in the regional languages -Mr.Kalanidi Maran’s Sun Network has done amazingly well! But I am just wondering- which is the chicken and which one the egg?? Have these regional channels started due to neglect of the South in mainstream hindi channels. Or is it because these channels have exclusive viewership of the South Indian audience that the Hindi channels ignore them?
Till then I’ll debate over N-E-W-S  v/s  N-E-W-C. Nice to know that this has also crossed the mind of one of India’s leading journalists –Rajdeep Sardesai.
Now for Number 2 -Heard this on a Tamil radio station yesterday morning…….why is the half-sari worn less? (Half-sari, for the uninitiated, is something akin to a ghagra-choli; a cross between a full length skirt and a saree.) Traditionally this was usually worn by teenage girls who were too young for a saree and too old for a pavadai (full length skirt). Thus the name –half-sari.
This was the discussion topic for the day -Why are fewer women wearing the half-sari. Are girls becomin more modern and abandonin it to shift to a salwar kameez? They went on to include geographical divisions between Chennai and the rest of TN. Or a urban-rural divide….blah blah blah. I remember seeing the same topic being discussed on a leading Tamil Channel some 10 years ago…..They actually had video footage of all colleges in Chennai and proved that more girls are wearing salwar kameez and fewer opt for the traditional half-sari. They even interviewed few guys who waxed eloquently on how tradition should be upheld and why they prefer their wives to be one who moved from pavadai to half sari to the sari and not someone who wears salwar kameez or jeans pant (thts the Chennai word for it, guys). All this while neither the reporter (a guy obviously! Which guy would miss an opportunity to stand outside girls’ colleges and just watch!!!) nor the tradition teaching youth gave a damn to the fact that one was in jeans pant and the other in shorts!!!!!! I remember ranting and raving at home as to how such hypocritical programs are aired in a channel that is beamed across countries. And today, ten years later, we have the same topic, the same arguements and the same logic. Have we moved at all in a decade? Being thoroughly disgusted, I did not listen to the entire program. Maybe some wise ol’ soul did put forth views similar to mine. But the question remains -why take up such a topic for discussion in the first place??
I am not against following traditions or wearing a sari for that matter. But why is only the sari a mark of tradition? Why not the dhoti, the kurta ? Why does a girl keep having to prove her beliefs in traditon by wearing a sari? When will the ‘ideal wife’ be brought upto date by all the eligible bachelors? When will an ideal wife change from -‘sari wearing, flowers on hair, bindi sticking, cooking knowing girl’ to ‘smart, independant, self-made, multi-tasking girl who shares her husband’s responsibilities?
A small percentage of guys have attained ‘nirvana’ in this regard but the majority still stand by the sari. The equation remains –
Sari = Good girl; Jeans pant = Easy girl
Pity 😦

Posted in RANDOM STUFF I KNOW NOT WHERE ELSE TO CLASSIFY | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »