Friday, October 26, 2007

Once “Not A Review”

You would think that if you saw a movie that so thrilled and captivated you, its music, characters, story touched you so deeply (even when you have a bit of a tin ear for music like I do) and you thought that it was easily the best film of the year that you had seen so far, you would talk about it right?

But not me, for some reason that I could not fathom and seems just out of reach, I did not write about it. I have gone back to this movie often in my thoughts marveling at it and hearing the songs in my head, and before the fog of time completely obscures my recall of this gem of a movie, I better talk about it. I caught this movie at the Newark film festival almost 2 months ago and it has stayed with me for a while.

Once is a delightful Irish movie and won the world cinema dramatic audience award at Sundance this year and rightly so. The movie is brilliantly directed by John Carney and is a clear testament that a really good movie even one that is a musical does not need the slick, expensive production numbers like say “Dreamgirls”. Shot mostly on the street and indoors with a few scenes of the glorious Irish coast, the power of this movie comes from the two principal characters in the movie whose names are never mentioned. The “guy” is played by Glen Hansard, lead singer of the Irish group “The Frames” and the “girl” by Marketa Irglova a Czech musician he has worked with in the past.

The “guy” is a street singer performing songs for spare change, in fact when we first hear him sing he seems ordinary yet earnest as he strums his guitar singing a brand of pop that is full of songs of heartbreak and stylistically more like folk. He has recently broken up with his girlfriend a fact that is elicited out of him by the “girl” who happens to chance upon him on the street. She is a recent Czech immigrant, a mom and is living with her mother in a cramped apartment and she sells flowers and cleans homes for a living. She speaks English with an accent that I found adorable especially the way she added “yeah” at the end of some of her lines that seemed like part question, part looking for affirmation, her direct nature and inquisitiveness a charming contrast to his reticent openness.

His day job is helping out in his dad’s vacuum shop and he helps her fix her vacuum and makes a half hearted pass which is rejected very bluntly, and so begins the formation of a bond between two people.

On the way to the repair shop he tells her his story and sings about being "a broken-hearted Hoover fixer sucker guy." A sucker because his girlfriend was cheating on him with another guy.

The girl is a musician too (she plays the piano) and the only chance she ever gets to play the piano is on a demo model at a music showroom. The guy comes to hear her, his guitar in tow and so enthralled with her playing that he asks her to team up with him on one of his songs. It was at this point that the movie completely captivated me. Watching them piece together the beautiful, heart tugging “Falling Slowly” is sheer magic and is a movie moment that you won’t forget.

(Here is a youtube video of the song from the movie courtesy of FoxSearchLight pictures). More videos at the movie web site too.

The camera does a great job of setting up the stage and letting the two principals work their magic thru their music and chemistry and uses the peripheral characters brilliantly (like the way the store owner notices the pair playing). There is an intimacy that is born of small, simple moments and I fell in love with these two characters at the same moment they fell in love with each other.

What makes this movie all the more impressive is that neither of the two are professional actors, which brings a welcome freshness and prevents it from being overtly sentimental. There is no big message in this movie, the high point is making of a demo tape, but it is about approaching the challenges of life with good humor, determination and desire.

The movie has great music (that is unpretentious) and songs, combined with the great cast, this is one film I will add to my permanent collection and will watch it more than once.

Yes, this is a love story but one which will end happily but not like you expect it to, and as the New York Times film critic A.O. Scott put it so eloquently in his review “Some Love Stories Have a Better Ending Than the Altar”. I just loved everything about this movie!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Cool Ads.. Have A Good Laugh..

Fancy Some Canned Silkworms?
Via Wired



Eclipstore: Double opaque shutters
Via adsoftheworld.com


Build Strong Teeth
Via adsoftheworld.com



Oh Those Innovative Japanese..
(link)
Japanese Manufacturer Introduces New Portable Toilet for Vehicles
A company in Japan called Kaneko Sangyo, who is a manufacturer of plastic vehicle accessories, has introduced their newest addition, which is a portable toilet for your vehicle. Just in case you were wondering, this toilet comes with a plastic bag to gather all of your waste.

And if you are a modest person there is no reason to fear, because this toilet comes with a curtain that is large enough to completely conceal the toilet user. One of the company’s officials told reporters, “The commode will come in handy during major disasters such as earthquakes or when you are caught in a traffic jam.”

Another benefit to this new portable toilet is that it is small enough to fit inside of a person’s suitcase. However, all of you anxious customers will have to wait until the product is available for purchase, which will be on November 15. I don’t know if I can wait that long!



Bill Maher - Pope On Fire - Vatican Declares Holy Bonfire


This is pretty funny, especially towards the end. Clip is less than 2 minutes long.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fotografias (2007).. A documentary

Theater N in Wilmington held the Latin Beat Film Festival 2007 this past week. While I have no idea what kind of an audience most of the films on the slate got, I have to say I was one of the five audience members who got to see an interesting Argentine documentary Fotografias” (Photographs), made by Andrés Di Tella. On good days you may get a decent audience for independent cinema in a small city like Wilmington but documentaries have it much harder. Not a lot of people want to see documentaries, and making good documentaries is truly an art.

This fact was brought home to me as I watched Fotografias. It took a while for the documentary to catch on with me. It is however a noble effort and has its moments. It appealed to me since it deals with issues of identity, what makes you who you are and it is not an easy question to answer if at all there is an answer.

The documentary tracks the story of Andrés Di Tella son of an Argentine father and sociologist Torcuato Di Tella , and an Indian mother (Kamala Aparao) who is from a princely family in Southern India, a rather unusual union. Andrés claims that he was not really that much in to the Indian part of his identity, not till his mother passed away although he was aware of it. I wondered how much of that had to with his experiences with racism while at school in England, in addition to the fact that his mother shielded him from that part of his identity.

It is this part of this identity that he starts to explore in an attempt to understand how and why so little of it his mother has left behind. And he does not have a lot to go on, just a few letters, pictures and film that his mother has shot. In addition to that he has memories of his visit to India when he was 11. And so begins his quest on which he takes his wife and son Rocco along, which begins with trying to track down someone who is not related to his family but happens to be Indian (a Ramachandra Gowda, the adopted son of the wife of an Argentine spiritual guru who had his awakening in India). This was the part of the documentary that I thought just dragged, I thought Andrés was profiling this part as he really had no other connections to build on and in a sense it almost felt like he was grasping at straws, but at the same time it perhaps was borne of a more serious question of one's identity, especially when it is fractured the way Andre’s seems to be. There is also some footage of Andre’s son Rocco playing with dinosaurs. I understand the need to introduce him as he becomes a part of the film maker’s search to resolve, integrate and comprehend his dual cultural identity, but I thought we could have done without this part.

Given the dearth of material Andrés has to carry out his research using the few artifacts he has from his mother’s life, talk to his father and her many relatives back in India. It was here that the film got the most interesting for me as bits and pieces about his mother start coming together through interviews, pictures and fascinating anecdotes from her life as narrated by her relatives and friends and visits to homes including her ancestral land and palace.

The mixing of Argentine and Indian culture coupled with the gaps left by Andre’s mother will make you empathize with Andre’s journey and his need to resolve questions of his fractured identity, multiculturalism and self in relation to the world around.

So what exactly are the gaps left by Andre’s mother Kamala? Born in a conservative royal family, where women were expected to conform with little personality of their own, she became something of a rebel and identified with the socialist cause. Perhaps the die was cast then and further grew stronger with her relationship and marriage to Andre’s father and her move to Argentina. How do you hold on to your cultural identity when you have no sense of it in your surroundings? How do hold on to it, what is your identity when you don’t have strong roots to begin with (as is Kamala’s case). There are really no answers here and things don’t get tied up neatly.

Andrés recalls a memory of himself and his mother when he was a child of being in a car when they were almost out of gas, and they were going downhill and his mother was not worried. “She felt so carefree.. free of the bonds/issues of race, religion, ethnicity, nationality and culture” (not verbatim). And perhaps that is what she was trying to be in her life.. free, while some of us celebrate this aspect of ourselves and take a lot of pride in our culture and heritage, not everyone feels this pull as strongly. I can certainly identify with that.

While I will not call this an excellent documentary it certainly was interesting to watch, and I know at least one other audience member did not share that sentiment. As she walked out behind me I heard her mention to one of the theater volunteers "What was all that about?" .



Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday Word "Fear"

As per Mona, the Friday word is "Fear". I present two takes on it.

Fear

Her words sharper than a rapier

Piercing skin and sinew

To the very depth of his soul

He felt himself ebbing in to

A bottomless chasm.. welcoming him

With arms wide open to oblivion


A chill shot up his spine..

A cold sweat on his brow

An absinthian bile bubbled up

Into his veins seeping thru his insides

Turning flesh and blood

And his world to black


His heart beat beneath

In vain awaiting an echo from hers

A primal fear rising

Of abandonment

Of being left alone and heart broken

Of just being… boring


Of perishing in his own personal hell

Lit by the fire of her eyes

Licking at every inch of his being

Just as she had…

Once in love and carnal lust

That she promised would never dim


Fear of being a broken marionette

Tossed out when a new one came along

Ragged and crumpled.. limbs askew

A macabre dance of

The one damned to be a

Love of yesterday.



Fear… (On a brighter note) :-)


A sweet longing, an unending hunger coursed thru her…

How she missed..


The touch of his hand..

The little things and sweet nothings

Their tangled embrace of soft kisses

That set her nerve endings on fire

Of the way he lost himself in her eyes

In the scented silken forest of her hair

And how he slept like a baby

In the glen between her breasts


The goose bumps as he said her name

Along the delicate arch of her collarbone

The feel of his breath

As it cut a swath across her being

The touch of his fingers

As he closed his eyes to sense her contours

And the soft swell of her rising breasts

And the whorls of her navel


The sensuous dance of his fingers

Along the ridges of her spine

Weaving a troubadour of amour

The feel of his tongue as he painted her

In the iridescent colors of his love

His breath as it wafted across

Her aching yoni lips

His lips whispering a paean to her feminine divine


A sweet delirium an unusual fear

Of being alive in strange new places

Of opening doors to a celestial ecstasy and love

She ached to breathe with his breath

To inhabit this world of waking dreams

And a love so complete

She held her arms out to him

Welcoming him to her heart


Silently whispering to herself

“I won’t fear this love”.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Decline of the American Empire (Not a movie review)


I was drawn to “
The decline of the American empire” after I first watched Denys Arcand’s “The Barbarian Invasions” a few years ago. In the “Barbarian Invasions” a dying Remy Girard and his brethren gather at a lakeside cottage in Quebec. They reminisce about their past loves, escapades and their lives watched over by Remy’s estranged son Sebastien who is visiting his father after years. This movie is also about looking back, taking stock about their lives and introspection especially at a point when the blush of youth is pretty much gone and their metamorphoses both physical and within them are so very obvious. This movie was in a lot of ways a celebration of life, love, family and friendships.

Observing these self absorbed, but witty and very human characters made me curious about “The decline of the American empire” which preceded this movie. I finally managed to watch it a few days back. When made originally in 1986 it was celebrated as an excellent example of film making. While some movies that may examine the zeitgeist of their times age remarkably well, holding their relevance over time, the same cannot be said about “The decline of the American empire”. And I am not talking about the “oh so” obviously visible signs of the 80s such as the fashions and the hairstyles.

This movie happens over a fall evening as four academics, Remy (Remy Girard) married and a professor of history, Claude (Yves Jacques) who is gay, Pierre (Pierre Curzi) who is divorced and living with a student Danielle (who he meets at a massage parlor), and Alain (Daniel Briere) who is single talk about sex, women their loves and their affairs as they cook dinner for the four women.

Their women guests are Louis (Remy’s wife played by Dorothee Berryman, has no idea of his dalliances), Dominique (Dominique Michel) a writer and a colleague of the guys, Diane (Louise Portal) has left her husband and begun a sadomasochistic affair with Mario (Gabriel Arcand), a rough, leather-jacket clad drug dealer, and Danielle (Genevieve Rioux) are working out at a health gym. They also discuss sex, the female body and of course men!

Although I watched the English version (dubbed), I have to say I would rather have preferred hearing the French dialog( although I don’t understand the language, I love the sound of it).

Having said that, I could not shake the feeling that I was watching something dated. I just thought that while at that point (1980s) this movie might have captured the mood of the times perfectly, it was hard to believe that the fall of Western civilization/ America was going to be laid at the doorstep of a few oversexed academic intellectuals. I mean come on look at what seems to be doing us in today?

But back on to the movie. There really is not much of a plot here, but the dialog is witty, sharp and funny and the characters are quite compelling and well fleshed out in all their foibles, phobias and compulsions. The movie is not all talky and wordy, there are flashbacks that help the viewer get a good sense of the characters. As the evening proceeds, there is turmoil as Dominique, reveals that she has slept with both Remy and Pierre, but her current lover (for the night) is the young student Alain who is besotted with her sophistication.

But perhaps the best line in the movie belongs to, Mario, Diane’s boyfriend who waits around while the men are cooking and at dinner states "They talked about sex all afternoon as if they were getting ready for an orgy. Instead, the big deal is a fish pie!"

The movie does ask some interesting questions and explores the nature of sex and its relationship to middle age, marriage and cultural mores. But I don’t think the decline of Western civilization can be laid at the doorstep of over sexed intellectuals no?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Poem.. Cool Ad..

His Id...

His feet pounded the black space beneath his feet
Speckled with dry, wizened brown leaves

Falling silent sighs lost to the wind

Of dreams deferred

A canopy of the dying and withered
Welcomed in to its dark embrace

Memories crunching.. pulverized

From his consciousness

Tossed into a bottomless chasm

Of distant loved ones

Receding figures in his rear view mirror

Fast fading, sepia tinged memories
..

And he kept running in to the arms of his id.

Cool Ad

via Ads of the world

Friday, October 12, 2007

Feeling Bookish...

Some of you may have noticed I have this little thing on the right sidebar where I have a link and the cover of the book I am currently reading. I normally try and write a "Not A Review" once I am done reading. But there are times that a book will just completely grab you from the very first page and won't let go, just because the story is so very real and compelling. The book I am reading is "Where War Lives" by the Pulitzer prize winning photojournalist Paul Watson. From the book's description...
Paul Watson was born a rebel with one hand, who grew up thinking it took two to fire an assault rifle, or play jazz piano. So he became a journalist. At first, he loved war. He fed his lust for the bang-bang, by spending vacations with guerilla fighters in Angola, Eritrea, Sudan, and Somalia, and writing about conflicts on the frontlines of the Cold War. Soon he graduated to assignments covering some of the world’s most important conflicts, including South Africa, Rwanda, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

Watson reported on Osama bin Laden’s first battlefield victory in Somalia. Unwittingly, Watson’s Pulitzer Prize—winning photo of Staff Sgt. David Cleveland — whose Black Hawk was shot down over the streets of Mogadishu — helped hand bin Laden one of his earliest propaganda coups, one that proved barbarity is a powerful weapon in a modern media war. Public outrage over the pictures of Cleveland’s corpse forced President Clinton to order the world’s most powerful military into retreat. With each new beheading announced on the news, Watson wonders whether he helped teach the terrorists one of their most valuable lessons.
Much more than a journalist’s memoir, Where War Lives connects the dots of the historic continuum from Mogadishu through Rwanda to Afghanistan and Iraq.
In the prologue Paul Watson quotes from Camus...
He wrote in his notebook that he had solved the mystery of where war lives. It lives in all of us. He described the internal conflict that consumes us, whether it's in the heart of soldiers on the battlefield, or those of folks safe back home, wondering, and regretting "That they can't share the way the others are going to die."

"It's there, that's where it really is, and we were looking got it in the blue sky and the world's indifference. It is in this terrible loneliness both of the combatants and of the noncombatants, in this humiliated despair that we all feel, in the baseness that we feel growing in our faces as the days go by. The reign of the beasts has begun."
I am almost halfway through the book now and it is a gripping read about war and the effect it has, not just on those in the midst of it but also on those that document it. It is about anger and guilt and also about decisions made in the blink of an eye and their ability to alter history.
It is also very relevant, dear leader is said to have read Camus, but I seriously doubt he gets it.


Cool Book Ads...
Saw these nice ads here. Click on the image if it is hard to see the ads.

Gandhi... The influence of a book.

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Country : India


Turn the page on poverty
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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Random Stuff
You should really talk to your daughter...
before the beauty industry does. An interesting PSA from Dove's Campaign For Real Beauty Youtube link.

Neat eh? I would probably applaud it too, except that Dove is owned by Unilever.
Now what might be the problem with that you say? Unilever also owns the Axe brand of deodorant/body spray/shower gels.
Have you seen some of their ads? What is the image of women that they seek to portray here? Here is a sample below. Many more here (may not be all work safe).



No larger message here, just makes you wonder doesn't it at the incongruity of it?

Chili Club Restaurant: Woman on fire / Man on fire
via Ads of the World

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

So You Wanna Go Noonhatting?
Image from Andrew Saeger / Seattle P-I

So what is Noonhatting? It is the name of a website that lets you enter your e-mail address, what day you want to have lunch and what general area you want to have a lunch in and then a computer program matches you up with up to three other random strangers who want to do lunch in the same geographical area. That’s it… there is no matching for gender and/or age and this is not a dating site and there are no background checks or registration. The potential for discomfort of just two strangers doing lunch on their first (and possibly last) meet is sought to be alleviated by having a group of no larger than four.

Noonhat is the brainchild of Brian Dorsey a software developer in the Seattle area. Link


At first, Dorsey, a software developer at Vulcan, had doubts. When he told
people about the Web site, he said, "I got a lot of blank stares.’What? Huh? Why
would anyone do that?' "
Turns out people do want to break bread with total
strangers. Since Noonhat was launched in June, more than 400 lunches have been
scheduled (although Dorsey doesn't know how many have actually happened).

"I was just kind of thinking that I wanted to have lunch with new people all
the time," said Dorsey, who is 33. "Just from a selfish standpoint, I wanted to
have lunch with a really wide variety of people."
Noonhat offers its service
all over North America, but most of the users so far are in the Seattle metro
area. Dorsey also thinks the site is a good way for out-of-town visitors to meet
up with locals.

There is more at the article from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the reporter Kristin Dizon writes about her own experience “Noonhatting” if anyone is interested in reading.

Personally, I think it is a neat idea although I am not sure I would want to have lunch with complete strangers.

But perhaps there is something to be said for just taking a chance, who knows? But as a fairly private person I would rather rely on my own instincts and means to decide if I want to converse with a stranger on the train, over lunch or at any public spot.

What do you folks think?

And while I was writing this post up it reminded me of another program I heard on
NPR a while back.

Couple Finds Good Will in Taste Tests
All Things Considered, June 29, 2007 · A food-loving couple from San Diego has launched a quirky social experiment: They go to restaurants and ask if they can taste other people's food. Surprisingly, most people happily comply — even offering
their own forks!


While I am all for sharing what I eat with other folks if asked (even strangers), the whole offering their own forks to sample what they were having does sound very icky!
Are social networks and networking websites a hot thing?

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Sometimes Bill Maher Says It A Lot Better

link


"Diet and exercise don’t fail, a fact brought home last week by a new Duke University study that showed diet and exercise is just an effective a cure for depression as Paxil and Zoloft. So ask your doctor if getting off your --- is right for you."

Monday, October 01, 2007

The Bastard Of Istanbul (Not A Review)


  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult (January 18, 2007)
  • Language: English

Life is coincidence, though sometimes it takes a djinni to fathom that.

The word “jinn” literally means anything which has the connotation of concealment, invisibility, seclusion, and remoteness. In pre-Islamic Arabian mythology and in Islamic Culture, a jinni (also “djinni” or “djini”) is a member of the jinn (or “djinn”), generally thought to be a race of supernatural creatures.

In that simple sounding line is captured the essence of the complex web that humans weave that makes up their life. Their history, culture, religion all form an amalgam that make up one’s identity. Their actions can often have a lasting impact on lives, both on those that have faded in to the realms of the past and on lives that have barely lived. These form the basis of Elif Shafak’s novel “The Bastard of Istanbul” a lively and a multihued tale of two families one Turkish the Kazancis and the other the Armenian-American Tchakhmakchians linked together by their pasts. A past that includes the Armenian genocide that a lot of the Turkish nation and people barely acknowledge and even ignore and is something that the Armenian people consider an important part of their history and a grave injustice committed against them.

We get to meet the strong willed, iconoclastic, sassy and independent, Zeliha clad in miniskirts and high heels and runs a tattoo parlor. She is a mother to Asya a 19 year old who is like her mother in a lot of ways yet far removed from her. She refers to Zeliha not as mom but as aunt. Asya is a fan of Johnny Cash and dabbles in existentialism, sneaking off to the Café Kundera (a gathering place for Turkish “intellectuals”) and for trysts with one of the members of her circle at the café while she is supposedly taking ballet lessons. Asya is a bastard, a name that she is first called to by Grandma Gulsum and then by a kid at school, which is when the meaning of the word dawns on her. Asya is complex, multifaceted personality with a family full of women and bereft of men. Asya sees her physical self as a manifestation of the Quranic creature Dabbet-ul Arz, an ogre who takes each of his organs from different animals in nature, she visualizes herself as a disembodied construct of parts inherited from the females of her family.

Asya has three aunts the observant, religious Banu who is now a clairvoyant and also can “speak” to two djinni a good and a bad one. Then there is Cevriye a national history teacher at a private school who is widowed and Feride a hypochondriac whose mind constantly dwells on one imagined impending disaster to the next. There is also their mother Gulsum and grandmother Petite-Ma. As Asya describes it, this is a nuthouse, but one full of rich, strong yet nuanced and memorable female characters. There is no man in this household (they never seem to survive past their 40th birthday). There is the absent son Mustafa living in Arizona who has disconcerting feelings and memories at the sight of miniskirts and is seemingly happily married to an American woman Rose but yet has trouble relating to the female sex.

Rose has a daughter Armanoush from her previous marriage to Barsam Tchakhmakchian who lives in San Francisco along with his mother Shushan and three sisters. Armanoush spends her time between the two places. She decides to eventually go to Istanbul to find out more about her grandmother Shushan’s time there and to also understand her roots and reconcile her fragmented childhood spent between the two cultures and the Janissary’s paradox. She ends up visiting the Kazancis, the family of her stepfather Mustafa. And those begins a friendship between Asya and Armanoush children born into families that cannot dust off the vestiges of their unspoken past.

The that link these two households share threaten to come to the fore as events transpire that will bring Mustafa (and Rose) to Istanbul.

Will aunt Banu’s clairvoyant abilities to peek in to the past with the help of her djinni be a Faustian pact with the darker elements of the supernatural? What she learns will change lives and reveal truths. But will this make it any easier for those who live with the consequences of their and someone else’s actions? Can one’s past truly be completely shed or walked away from?

I loved the way Shafak captures the spirit of Istanbul a city I would so love to visit. I could smell, see and feel the place thru her rich, vibrant words that brought the city and its people, its chaos, its modernity and its antiquity to life. The characters she penned so well completely captivated me and I loved that they could not be pigeon holed in to comforting categories.

The part of the book that I did question – Zeliha goes to the doctor’s office to get an abortion and it as she is going under for this procedure that she hears the call of nearby mosques to prayer. An agnostic/atheist she screams, does she have a vision or a message or was it just the rambling of a mind unlocking itself under the fog of sedation? She decides to have the baby instead and leaves the doctor’s office feeling less dispirited. But as one finds out who the father of the baby is, and the circumstances that led to it, I found her decision to carry her baby mystifying, but I guess it ties back to life being all about coincidences and the choices we make at any given time?

Don’t expect neat answers to all your questions at the end of the book but perhaps that is the point of it too. This book is a fascinating look at cultural, gender and national identities and the forces and events that shape them and a look at religious and political currents that continue to shape Turkey.

Some of you may already be aware of this, the author Elif Shafak was charged under Article 301 the Turkish criminal code (also used in the prosecution of Orhan Pamuk earlier this year). The charges were reportedly based on remarks made by a character of Armenian ancestry in her novel, The Bastard of Istanbul - the character describes the death of Armenians during the first world war as a genocide. link. These charges were subsequently dropped for lack of evidence.

Elif Shafak currently is an Assistant Professor in the Near Eastern Studies Department at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona. For more on her bio, go here. As someone who straddles two cultures I loved her interview to the Haagsche Courant newspaper and if you are an immigrant and/or someone who lives amongst more than one culture what she has to say will likely resonate with you. link

To quote her from an essay for Time Asia..

East and West are often used as if they were mutually exclusive categories—static and eternal. There is, however, one city where you quickly learn to mistrust the two concepts. In Istanbul, you understand, perhaps not intellectually but intuitively, that East and West are ultimately imaginary ideas, ones that can be de-imagined and re-imagined.

I can’t wait to read her latest The saint of incipient insanities”.