Sitting here this evening, at the window overlooking the garden, reminds me of Mangalore at twilight. The sun has set, yet there’s still enough light to see by. It’s quiet. You can hear the occasional bird in one of the trees, a chirp here and there as they prepare to roost for the night. The sound of the traffic fades away in the background as the silence of the trees and the woods fills you up. Silence at twilight is my favorite sound. Just like in Mangalore, where the forest surrounding the house overwhelms you with its presence. There used to be eagles there once, hovering over the tallest trees where they built their nests. There used to be porcupines, their quills left as souvenirs for us. It’s been decades since I found a quill. And the eagles have found other trees.
I smile, thinking of my grandmother there, walking around with a broken arm these days, forced to slow down her hyper-active pace, even though she’s in her 80’s. In Mangalore at twilight, one would be gathering hay to feed the cows for the last time that day, or heating the bath-water before dinner. In Mumbai, we would be trying to hop onto a local train to get home from work, one arm balancing an umbrella on a rainy June evening. In England, it’s summer and twilight is at 10 pm. Dinner’s long over and we wait for darkness to fall so our eyes can start drooping and we can tell ourselves that it’s time to get some sleep. Today though, on the Summer Solstice, one can afford to stay awake a while longer and celebrate the changing of the seasons. On this, the longest day of the year, I can spend some time looking out of windows and marvelling at this planet that gives us Mangalore, Mumbai and this corner of England – this planet with its strange and motley climates, cultures and people. Right now is a good time to forget the lives not lived and the dreams not chased. Right now is a good time to feel blessed to have lived here.
Les Choristes (The Choristers) is my favourite kind of film – one where most characters have a happy ending by the time the credits roll up. It’s what my family teasingly used to call my ‘Hallmark’ kind of movie – referring to the ‘feel good’ dramas and stories that are shown on the channel. I like ‘feel good’ movies. And I like movies with happy endings. Les Choristes is a French film that is just that – a tale about a ‘failed’ musician who takes up a job as a supervisor at a school for delinquent boys. The script is predictable – that’s the best part. One knows that the teacher will employ music to ‘tame’ the unruly boys and how forming a choir will transform each of their lives. There are so many movies like this – I especially enjoy movies where unruly kids are transformed at the end! Mr. Holland’s Opus, Sister Act, and a Hallmark movie the name of which I keep forgetting (yes, another ‘school’ story) are some of my can-see-anytime films. Other than Sholay, of course. But that doesn’t have a happy ending, because although Dha ram and Hema ride on the train into the sunset, Amitabh dies lonely. Well, there are always exceptions. And Sholay makes me happy, inspite of the ending.
If Les Choristes is at a cinema near you, make time to see this fabulous Oscar nominated film. Read a review and see some snapshots here.