Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Call Me By Your Name: A Review

I'm a fan of André Asimov's 2007 novel Call Me by Your Name which came out in 2007. Hence, I was quite interested when I found out that the inspiring Italian director, Luca Guadagnino, undertook the difficult assignment of adapting it for the big screen.

I wrote about his stupendous film I Am Love in here as well. You may see that review here

Quick note: if you drive a lot and like to use that time by catching up on books, might I recommend you get Audible in case you haven't done so already? Get the first book on them, and let it be a reading of Call Me by Your Name by Armie Hammer. Hammer plays the character of Oliver in the film.

If anyone can do justice to a layerd literary text, it would be Guadagnino. Much like a veritable renaissance man, he has the ability to understand so much and, more importantly, manage to break complexity down in a seemingly facile and natural way. 

And Oh My!!! Is this a beautiful film!

From the opening credits to the final credits as the main character, Elio starts to process his heartbreak to the sound of Sufjan Stephens' song "Visions of Gideon," this film is a tour de force.

You know how sometimes you're in the presence of the kind of art that moves you so much you find yourself incapable of processing anything else? Even the weight of a little leaf would be enough to overwhelm you. Well, that's precisely what watching this film will be like. At times, we need to allow ourselves to be exposed to such things. They will force introspection upon us especially when we may have gone at a faster pace through life and haven't quite taken advantage of the little but precious moments that punctuate our very humanity. 

This is not just a film about a love story. It's bigger and so much more nuanced than that. This is a story about art, love of art, and how the arts can serve as a vehicle for understanding of self. From the visitations of Dante's Inferno, Canto V, to Paul Celan's haunting "zwischen immer und nie", Heraclitus, the sculptures of old Greece, the music of Bach, Stendhal's Armance etc., this film is a love story to the ingenuity of the human mind, soul, and heart. It has something for everyone and one is bound to react to it. 

Few directors know how to translate sensuality in a manner than feels genuine, natural, and full or resonance. Guadagnino is one such a director. Granted, Guadagnino would not have been able to translate the book as expertly as he did, had he not cast the right performers.

Timothée Chalamet's rendering of Elio is something we see in a screen once in a generation. Having seen thousands of films, having studied film, especially the likes of Fellini and Bertolucci, this particular picture is, truly, inimitable. And much of this has to do with the at-times-unbearably beautiful performance of Chalamet. 

I could say much about this film. Instead, I'll strongly urge you to watch it and let the beauty of art, music, love, the scenery, and the sensual words lavish you with the kind of attention that few things in life will manage to do justice to. 
It is that good!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Art of Re-Reading: Enter Faust

Reading is one of the great pleasures of life. A book opens up a new window of understanding and that’s what makes reading such a compelling experience and one of the truest pleasures of the human experience.
Something else that ought to get more attention and a stronger proverbial “tipping of the cap” is re-reading.
At the moment, I’m re-reading Goethe’s Faust along with one of my favourite playwrights of all time, Botho Strauss. Strauss' Die Fremdenfuehrerin is a the one and only play I've read more than 3 times. Most quality reading is layered and doesn't fall under the one and done category. For instance, Goethe's Faust, or anything by Goethe for that matter, always awakens new and better perspectives on life.
One Faust quote for you today:
“A man sees in the world what he carries in his heart.”
Part I.

Happy re-reading!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Why Learning a New Language is Exhilariting

Those who know me IRL tend to associate my name with one thing first: languages, a bunch of them. Frankly, I always tend to take this ability and I'm told that maybe I shouldn't? Maybe.
I've been fortunate to have been given opportunties to study up to 14 languages at this point.

However, as a trained linguist, I immediately offer people an odd disclaimer that says something akin to: do not get too impressed by the fact that I'm now in the double digits, I mean, it's what you do if you study linguistics. Well, not quite. But that's another topic.

If you study, and fully study a language, the next natural step is to acquire all the other languages in the same family. After years of Latin, mastering the Latin-based languages wasn't necessarily a real uphill climb. The same applies to the Germanic family. But, I did it and this is how the languages kept adding to the tally.

Anyway, currently I'm revisiting Hebrew, a language I used to speak fluently over a decade ago but one that I have not had a chance to use much. Thus, getting to revisit it has been a real treat. And I am here to vouch that, yes, if you knew it once, you'll always know it!

But, what's truly exciting about the current linguistic pursuits is that I'm learning two new languages: Mandarin and Hungarian. I'd never want to visit a country without speaking its language first.

So, next time I'm in China and Hungary I intend to interact with the locals in their own language. If nothing else, it's the kinder and better thing to do. Namaste! Ok, its neither Mandarin nor Hungarian but I'm also deep into Moksha yoga so, you know, there's some overlapping. We all only have 24 hours after all and, at times, a bit of overlapping is ok. In the meantime, let's all keep exploring and try harder to get better.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Why Movement Matters

The ideas that get revisited the most in one’s life over a long stretch of time are those that help define one’s existence.
The notion of ‘I move therefore I am” has long been a constant in my life. The basic decision to move is an immediate mood lifter. This is one of the reasons why I love exercise and exploring new sports.
For a while now I’ve been pursuing ocean sports and winter sports - one needs to have all the seasons covered - and yet, the one activity that I always find the easiest to go back to is running.

I have now trained for and completed a number of races and the feeling of running with thousands of other people at the same time and on the same route is truly empowering and utterly liberating.
Similarly, running by myself is one of the things I most look forward to as it gives me a chance to disconnect from a busy, fast-paced, and highly verbal life.
The basic act of putting my shoes on, getting the podcasts ready for the long run, does the heart good: both concretely and metaphorically.
One recommendation I easily make to everyone who asks about energy levels or overall positivity is: move, put some running shoes on and move.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Yoga, Yoga, Yoga

I first discovered moksha yoga and the sequence of flows while on a long summer vacation back in 2009. After going to 10+ classes, I was hooked. I had trouble with the heat the first time around and I blogged back then that I almost fainted in class. Luckily, I didn't. I simply was unaware of how much more hydrated I had to be before, during and after the class.

I'm now on the third year of daily yoga practice and I have never felt stronger. I feel like I get a better workout than even doing my other favorite activities: running and windsurfing.

Yoga is a commitment, however. If your schedule says you're going to a 9p class even though you've had a very busy day and you don't feel like it, you need to simply go. Discipline is an indispensable component of daily life and the more I live, the truer this notion becomes. In a matter of minutes I feel as good as I could possibly feel and I'm always amazed at how quickly yoga boosts the mood.

I also believe in tracking my yoga practice as well much like I track my running (favorite app for that is MapMyRun). For instance, when my yoga studio does challenges, I make sure to end up at the top of the leaderboard. Right, because yoga is meant to appeal to your competitive instincts. Well, I didn't say I was aiming for perfection. For now, I'll settle for more flexibility and stronger muscles.

The average number of yoga classes I go to per year is 230 and I can unequivocally say I'm a much stronger thinker, worker, and all around individual thanks to the time I spent on the mat.

So, this Fall season as we're embarking on another cold winter season, try to balance it all out with some yoga. This is just a quick ode to the sequence of moksha which I can now clearly attest is, by far, the most effective workout I've done as an adult. Namaste!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Practice & Repetition

Practice and repetition are two things that pop up in my head every time I'm out in the ocean surfing.
I am deeply in love with windsurfing. Still. Actually, more than I was when I first picked it up.

As my favorite surfing instructor once told me: "you'll know in your gut when you get it." He was right. 100%. The moment you feel like you've struck a good, functioning relationship with the wind, the sail, and the board, you feel invincible.

But the only way to manage a sport like this is by giving in to practice and repetition. Much like everything else in life, practice makes perfect. In this kind of activity though, there's little to no tedium to constant repetition.

Pick something difficult, get to the point where it makes sense in you gut, and sail on! The music I set this clip to is to Xavier Rudd's Spirit Bird. My yoga teacher made me aware of him. Much of my media listening centers around podcasts now and I've put one of my other loves, music, in the back seat for a while. Time to bring it back to the front seat where it needs to be. Give Rudd's music a listen. Worth it.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Things I'm Liking a Lot This Week - Hamilton, The Americans, and Taste by Tom Vanderbilt

1. As a big fan of Hamilton and Lin-Manual Miranda's work, I love James Cordon's most recent Carpool Karaoke featuring Lin-Manual Miranda.
If you're lucky to have been in Broadway and actually seen the impossible-to-get-to Hamilton, this will be a good treat. He's such a talent and Hamilton is incredibly gripping. This is coming from someone who's staunchly in support of opera and not necessarily a vociferous fan of musicals. Hamilton is in a niche of its own, though. So very good!

2. Ok, how amazing is FX's The Americans!
I have been a fan since the very first season and I couldn't be happier that this astutely written show is getting so much traction and they've been reviewed for Seasons 5 and 6. If you have not seen it, make it a point to do so. Brilliant writing and acting! Keri Russell has never been better.

By the way, if you're interested in geeking out over this great series, check out The Slate's podcast as well. It's riveting!

3. Books:

Tom Vanderbilt's Taste in an Age of Endless Choice. The book explores why we like what we like and what informs our taste. A great summer read and if you're looking for a great birthday present, this is definitely a good choice. http://www.amazon.com/You-May-Also-Like-Endless/dp/0307958248?ie=UTF8&psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=od_aui_detailpages00

Friday, May 27, 2016

A Good Road Trip Always Makes Life Better

I don't mind driving long distances. I actually like the experience of a long drive.
It allows me to think in peace, even with passengers in the car. There's something about the motion, I suppose. All of my best ideas have come to me while moving. And my whole life I've been a believer in the agito ergo sum adage i.e.: I move therefore I am.

The most recent trip however really opened my eyes to something. And that something is the ability to let things come to us. This way of thinking is foreign to someone who is wired for action and is generally a Type A. But I suppose, you live and you learn.

I got to spend time with someone that used to mean a lot to me a decade ago. The fast pace of life had sort of put a distance between us, both concretely and metaphorically. And when we decided to meet up for dinner, we were both sort of blown away by how naturally we came back to where we last left off. We even managed to reconstruct the last conversation we had in person, almost verbatim it felt like.

Time, I suppose, is indeed a human construct.

So, what I'm saying is, if you have people in your life that have truly left a mark on you, really get you, and from whom you learn a lot, make it a point to let yourself be impacted and guided by them.

Quality influences are not in high quantity in life. And when we're fortunate to get them in the first place, we need to make it a point to allow ourselves to let them come back to us.

I'm demonstrably better as a result of making time to connect with my special friend. We're both better as a result, I'm told. And life is too short to be deprived of the needed influence of quality people.

So, here's to fun, long road trips, the opportunity to think and reflect for a while, and the delectable dinner shared between special friends who share a great history. After all, and when dealing with true friendship, time never dilutes it. If anything, it makes it better!

So, cheers!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Why Exercise Matters and the Key to Fitness - Add Yoga to your Day!

I am a big fan of Mapmyrun. Huge!

It tracks all of my physical activity and it reminds me daily how my best running buddy is doing and how I compare to him.

Yes, I am competitive. Hugely! We both are. One needs to own how one is wired so that one can best understand how the body works and which work-out is best suited for one. Self-knowledge matters. Even when it comes to working out.

My buddy has made me better. He says I do the same for him. And I'm glad. There needs to be reciprocity in exercise too, after all.

I have had a really busy and eventful few months. And, holy cow!, have I loved it!

I've dedicated a lot of time, energy and resources to finding the right physical balance.

The thing is, what I've found in life so far, is that health, for the most part, is a direct byproduct of how much work you're willing to put into your body.

The thing is, this is not something you can buy over the counter or hire someone to do it for you. You just have to do it.

As of today and in 2016 alone, I've already run 799km. I'm 6 months ahead of my projection to hit 1000k in 2016.

And currently, I'm in the top 2% of all runners that are tracking their activity on Mapmyrun. More specifically, I'm #5246 out of 260,894 competitors worldwide in the You vs The Year Challenge that Under Armor is sponsoring for Mapmyrun.

By June 16th, I will have hit 1000km for 2016!

Mapmyrun is meticulously tracking and storing my workout data and I am confident my running game is "on fleek" after a few years of practice, marathons and triathlons under my belt.

Many of my family members and close friends wonder why I try so hard to track everything I do and try new physical pursuits. The answer I give to all of them is unequivocally the same every day: "it's the only way I know how to improve. I compete against myself. And I can't imagine life without competition in it."

And I do believe that working towards personal improvement is our individual moral imperative as people. Competition is at the heart of progress, after all.

I never believed in participation trophies.
I always believed in hard work, sacrifice, and the need to self-ameliorate daily.
And that's what fuels the motor.
That's what makes me work hard to move the needle every day.
And that is why I make it a point to learn from and compete with like-minded folks.

So, with close to 5 months under my belt, I believe I have found a combination of physical activity that gives me optimal health. It's taken a lot of work and a lot of resources as well as research. But I was committed to the pursuit.

Other than running every day - and I cannot imagine not running every day, or at least 6 days a week - I took up a daily practice of yoga as well. Turns out, that's exactly the secret ingredient my workout needed!

Daily activity generally consists of the following:

Option 1:

Power Yoga - Hot yoga (60 or 75 minute class)
10k on cement. 2km of the 10km are progressively uphill.
800m swimming. Laps. 600m Freestyle. 200m breast stroke

Option 2:

Power Yoga
10km on cement and gravel.
15km biking.

The following days alternate between Day 1 and Day 2.

Now, is this time-consuming?
It takes 4 hours of my time. Now, I recommend that one wake up early and take yoga at 6am so that the day can be freed up for work and family time. The rest of the activities can happen as time and schedules allow.

As I am about to turn a year older, I am happy to report that I have never felt healthier. Or better.

If I could bottle how it feels after I'm done with my workouts, I'd have the secret to happiness!

Man, does it ever feel great!

Exercise helps curb stress, gain physical strength, and added overall clarity. So, why isn't everyone doing it?

Well, in addition to it being labor-intensive, it requires a lot of additional planning and added time management. And this is why I decided to make physical activity as important as anything else in life. Once I did that, everything else fell into place.

And, as I write this today, I can vouch that if you keep investing in your health and commit to your physical exercise the way you commit to your work, family and loved ones, you will live a qualitative and happy life.

Time to sign off and get the right amount of rest. Rest, after all, has to go hand in hand with physical effort.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Surfing Season is Over but Snowboarding Is Just around the Corner...

The Fall is here.
The air is crisp.
The trees outside the house have changed color already.
And, surfing season is over.
That saddens me as the weekends were the most special time of the week for me. A time to take the board out, get in the zone, focus my mind on the water and the wind and surf, and surf, and surf...
What a great feeling that is!

But, there are always more things to do between now and April. There's always paddleboarding which in Vancouver I get to do basically the whole year, and obviously the biggest win of the season is snowboarding!

Have board, will travel!

Here are some photos from the end of the season. What a great year!