Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Irtiqa off until Dec 31st. But here are some things to keep you busy...

by Salman Hameed
Irtiqa and Billy the Kit are on the same page on this one...

For much needed self-rebooting, Irtiqa will be off until Dec 31st. In the mean time, here are couple of things to keep you busy: A book about Karachi, a hilarious Christmas song, a book about searching for God, and a film autopsy of the new Almodovar's film.

A NYT review of Eric Weiner's book, My Flirtations with the Divine:
Eric Weiner’s “Man Seeks God: My Flirtations With the Divine” nimbly and often hilariously straddles the fence between the two genres. A former war correspondent for National Public Radio, Weiner is also the author of “The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World.” In that best-selling romp, he ditched the hellhole beat for a year and wandered the globe, from Bhutan to Iceland to Switzerland, looking for countries with a high “happiness index.” His new ramble begins after doctors mistake a nasty bout of intestinal gas for something far more dire. Weiner gets the scare of his life, and after a nurse confronts him in his hospital room (“Have you found your God yet?”) this self-described “Confusionist” sets off on a journey through five countries and eight religions to figure out which faith fits him best. 
As Weiner explains in his introduction, he was born into a family of “gastronomical Jews” whose sense of a divine presence began and ended in the kitchen: “If we could eat it then it was Jewish and, by extension, had something to do with God. As far as I was concerned, God resided not in Heaven or the Great Void but in the Frigidaire, somewhere between the cream cheese and the salad dressing. We believed in an edible deity, and that was about the extent of our spiritual life.” 
But that period of apathy ends with Weiner’s fear-of-death experience. Each subsequent chapter begins with a ­Craigslist-style personal ad, a plea from a “CWM” (Confusionist White Male) looking for divine inspiration.
Here is an article about Karachi and the new book by Steve Inskeep, Instant City:
Rome dominated the ancient world. Paris starred as the cultural diva of the 1800s. And New York soared as the steel-and-glass incarnation of the American Century.
So what metropolis best defines our restless, rickety present age — Shanghai; Mumbai, India; São Paulo, Brazil? 
In his first book, "Instant City," Steve Inskeep, co-host of NPR's "Morning Edition," constructs a compelling case for bestowing the title on Karachi, Pakistan, a destination that usually rates higher among battle-hardened news correspondents than pleasure-hunting tourists. 
With an estimated population of 15 million, and a litany of urban ills including dodgy infrastructure and periodic outbreaks of ethno-religious mayhem, Karachi is among the planet's most chaotic mega-urban areas. In an odd way, Inskeep believes, it's also one of the most representative.
Yet, despite Pakistan's pivotal role in current geo-politics, Inkseep's book isn't really about the country's relations with the U.S. or its problematic assignment in the so-called war on terror. Rather, "Instant City" posits Karachi as a metaphor for the developing world, teetering between modernity and tradition, democracy and authoritarianism, East and West.
Karachi, the country's former capital until Islamabad was built practically from scratch in the 1960s, sits at the crossroads of those tensions. It is a place where no amount of U.S. military cajoling and political arm-twisting has been able to impose the American way of thinking, although some affluent neighborhoods wouldn't look out of place in Southern California. 
It's a place where the best-laid plans of urban designers and social engineers tend to be overwhelmed by the city's anarchic vitality, including those of Constantino Doxiadis, the Robert Moses of Karachi, a Greek architect who was hired to oversee Karachi's modern face-lift after World War II. If the book has a secondary theme, its author suggests, it's the unforeseen consequences of those repeated attempts to refashion Kariachi into something it's not. 
"I've chosen a deeply troubled place," Inskeep said. "But I think it's symptomatic, it's normal, in more ways than we realize."
For your entertainment purposes, here is perhaps one of the best (and hilarious) Christmas songs ever: Tim Minchin's Woody Allen Jesus [it was cut from the show as it was considered to be too controversial. Oh c'mon. This is really funny!]

And here is our film autopsy of Almodovar's The Skin I Live in:

And if interested, you can also watch the autopsy of the new Jason Reitman film, Young Adult.


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