Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Run Lola Run

So what if one cant rewind and control time like Lola? What if time rewinds by itself? Week after week, he goes through roughly the same things - he meets the same people, goes to the same classes, sits at roughly the same places. The things taught, the places they cross paths or the clothes he wears may change, but the emotional setting remains.

Will he do something about it? Or will he wait till time stops rewinding itself so that he can then wish for time to rewind? He wants to talk to her.

The director ponders what his character should do when time rewinds itself once more for the 14th time.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Unreal realism

He just realized that reality checks suck the fun out of life. They do not stimulate his creativity. They make an already boring life much more boring. He now needs to decide whether to live a creative but unreal life, or a boring but real life. His mind screams for an unreal life but somehow it doesnt feel right. He's stuck at the crossroad....

... thinking. But there's no real hurry though - he shall take his time.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The First

I'm on the verge of doing something about it. And if I really do something about it, I need to thank Jeanne Pierre Jeunet and Amélie and a handful of others.

I remember writing in "Jeunet: To love or to hate?" (Oct 09) the following:

"I've been thinking about one of the things that I wrote:

Perhaps Jeunet hopes for the introvert among us to realize the need to ‘go and get him, for Pete’s sake’ and not wait for things to happen. Through Dufayel, Jeunet screams to the cowards among us: ‘You can take life’s knock. If you let this chance go by, eventually your heart will become …dry and brittle’.

Will the introvert among us ever make things happen? Or will they let chances after chances go by? I ask myself this questions because despite having written and read what I wrote countless times, I let yet another chance go by a couple of hours before class. I saw her as I walked down the stairs toward the computer terminals."

I remember writing in "The Girl"(Jun 09) the following:

"Some do leave you with a pretty sweet impression. Many did. Many could still do.

But should one ever decide if the impression left is the sweetest? Or should one simply wait for the next sweet impression.... and then the one after that... and ..."

While walking back home yesterday evening, I was thinking. And I realized that no matter how much my feelings may be for her, the feeling may most probably not be mutual. While the idealistic-and-romantic-fairy-tale-ending-loving me would like to believe the 1% chance that it might be mutual, the logical-analytical-probability-and-statistics-hating me have accepted the 99% probability of it NOT being mutual.

But while the old me would have not bothered doing anything about it based on the probability, the me that i knew was in me somewhere will.

I guess the answers to my questions were in me all along.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Tempest

The lecture on The Tempest by William Shakespeare was certainly the most boring. I was tempted to give it a miss - like the other half of the class - but decided to sit through anyways. If there's a time to know more about Shakespeare, this was it. Interesting how The Tempest was believed to be the final play written by Shakespeare and that Prospero could be seen Shakespeare himself. Never would I have seen Caliban as a representation of a victim of colonialism.

If there's one thing that I'll remember, it'll be how Shakespeare retired from writing at the age of 47. Writing didnt seem like a regular job where one can simply submit a letter of resignation or retire. Ive always thought that one writes because of one's passion.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

When the going gets tough....

For some reason, despite my attempts to be positive and composed, I wrote on my Facebook wall that school suddenly feels like one big sick impossible game - and I'm hoping this feeling is temporal.

Tonight, I see my younger brothers decide what to wear for their job interview tomorrow despite their exams in the coming week. I see my sister buy me a fan to replace the noisy dying one in my room without me asking her for it. Tonight, I realize that we're all growing up and supporting one another in our own little ways. One of the things that Dad said before his leaving was how he knew we'd make our mother happy. I guess he knew before we even knew - and we're doing our best to prove him right, insyaallah.

Things like these, knowing that Mama will always be behind us as well as the little sweet distraction at the back of my mind are enough to make me want to continue playing the one big sick impossible game called school.

“O Allah, I hope for Your mercy, so give me not over to my self even for as little as a wink of an eye, and set right all my affairs, there is no god but You.”
Source: Abu Daw’ud

“O Allah, I seek refuge in Thee from incapacity, from sloth, from cowardice, from miserliness, decrepitude and from torment of the grave. O Allah, grant to my soul the sense of righteousness and purify it, for Thou art the Best Purifier thereof. Thou art the Protecting friend thereof, and Guardian thereof. O Allah, I seek refuge in Thee from the knowledge which does not benefit, from the heart that does not entertain the fear (of Allah), from the soul that does not feel contented and the supplication that is not responded.”
Source: Sahih Muslim, hadith 1260

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Happy thoughts

Tonight's one of those nights where I let my mind run free and think about things.

How I wish I.....

Thinking about things that make me wonder what the future holds for me.....

Wondering what it feels like to.....

Seeing all the smiles, I just can't help but smile and wonder.

It's been a while since I wrote about family and dreams and stuffs that are serious and boring. Perhaps it's the sweet distractions. Perhaps I'm becoming less serious and boring. I think its her. I think Ive found myself a distraction that shall be my motivation.

Tonight, I really can't help but smile and wonder.(:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Female Writers: To love or to hate?

After spending 4 hours on the remaining 200 pages this afternoon, my first reaction was anger and frustration. Firstly, I didnt understand why Tita cheated on the nice Dr Brown. Secondly, I was led to believe that Tita married Dr Brown in the end but as it turns out, despite the nice Dr Brown being such an understanding character, Tita chose her first love Pedro. Serves her right that he died in the end which led to Tita taking her own life in a very dramatic manner.

From a conservative point of view, perhaps Tita should not have gone against tradition - as the youngest daughter, she should have remained unmarried and looked after her mother.

However, considering the point mentioned about how romance novels are forms of discourse often written by women and for a female public, perhaps I can try to see from Laura Esquivel's point of view. Perhaps being a female, she wasnt sure whether to choose Dr Brown or her first love Pedro and ended up deciding using her heart and not her brain - despite knowing that it's the wrong choice (Esquivel kills off Pedro and Tita in the end).

Perhaps too, Esquivel simply wanted to frustrate male readers like me by deliberately choosing Pedro over Dr Brown to emphasize the point that females have the right to choose and do as they please. I must admit that it's a valid point: Tita never let inhuman tradition and her tyranical mother prevent her from being with her first love. She was brave. She did what she wanted to and not what was deemed the right choice based on societal conservative expectations and norms. I can only envy her courage.

In Like Water for Chocolate, I can only find parallels in Dr Brown - the nice guy who ended up with nothing. Perhaps that's why I didnt quite like this book.

However, things weren't all that bad. At the end of class, a question was asked:

Are gender roles determined by nature or by culture?

I knew my answer was nature. I scribbled in my pink notebook that physically and emotionally, guys are more suited to work. Hence naturally, the next best thing for women would be cooking, cleaning and looking after children.

I didnt raise my hands to speak my mind - not after someone told me that I'd be booed if I said what I wanted to say. However, someone else did and I noted in my pink notebook how funny, but nice, it was for a lady herself to raise her hand and choose nature over culture. I missed what she said and i wished i didnt. Nevertheless, it was a nice new detail to my fairy tale.

I'll also add that while nature could have played a significant role in determining gender roles in the beginning of time, culture takes most of the blame later on. Perhaps back then, us guys were made stronger than women. However, I'm of the view that if a lady thinks she's capable of moving mountains, why not? Why should one foolishly follow silly traditions and practices? Why restrict her to the kitchen?

I should have raised my hand.

Monday, October 12, 2009


"Be patient (in adversity); for, verily, God will not let the reward of the righteous be wasted."

— The Holy Quran, Chapter 11, Verse 115

"[W]hoever abstains from asking others, Allah will make him contented, and whoever tries to make himself self-sufficient, Allah will make him self-sufficient. And whoever remains patient, Allah will make him patient. Nobody can be given a blessing better and greater than patience."

— Prophet Muhammad (s) as reported by Abu Said Al Khudri in Sahih Bukhari, vol 2 hadith 548

I can feel a wave of panic and surrender coming. Negative Facebook statuses and comments like how one's tired of everything, tired of school, tired of life are beginning to affect me. My mind was not at ease despite the countless entries on sweet distractions. How could I not have noticed that the frequent entries about my sweet distractions are signs to myself that I'm being distracted from school. The harder school gets, the more I try to distract myself. It seems to me that such entries are my way of escaping the harsh reality of school. I seem to be calmer and "more in control" due to my ability to shift negative stresses to something that I like - things like writing. But is it good?

Nevertheless, I know that no matter how hard I try to be in control, I'll crack the moment I say that I've got things under control. Hence why I'll try to never again say that I'm in control of my situation. Coz I'm not. He is. And time and time again, I forget that He's in control. And I forget to be thankful and grateful.

As Muslims, we are in direct communication with the Almighty. He is the only One Who not only hears and knows all, but Who can change our situation and give us the patience to deal with our difficulties.

"Remember Me, and I shall remember you; be grateful to Me, and deny Me not"
(Quran 2:152)

39 more days to the finals. Stay positive. Keep working. Keep trying. And doa. Insyaallah, all will be fine.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Truth About Cats and Dogs

"Will looks ultimately be the deciding factor for a guy when it comes to deciding if she's the one?" This was a question asked by a friend yesterday.

I was watching The Truth About Cats and Dogs this afternoon and found out that the answer is NO. Brian fell in love with Abby not because of how she looks, but for the things she says while she's on air, their telephone conversations, listening to her playing the violin every morning over the phone, him reading a book to her over the phone every night.......

.... not her beauty.

However, Janeane Garofalo -the actress that played Abby - wasn't too bad herself. So really, will looks be a deciding factor?

I told her that it wont. The other guys had their own views. My recent entries are labelled "sweet distractions". The group discussion started from my telling the tale of "The guy who has not said hi to a couple of someone in class despite the passing of 8 weeks" to one person. His name is Abby. He is self-conscious. He might not beautifully attractive but he knows he is simply attractive.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The man of few words

Mama Elena sent Tita to the kitchen to get something for the guests. Pedro 'happened' to be walking by at that moment and he offered his help. Tita rushed off to the kitchen without a word. His presence made her extremely uncomfortable. He followed her in, and she quickly sent him off with one of the trays of delicious snacks that had been waiting on the kitchen table.

She would never forget the moment their hands accidentally touched as they both slowly bent down to pick up the same tray.

That was when Pedro confessed his love.

'Señorita Tita, I would like to take advantage of this opportunity to be alone with you to tell you that I am deeply in love with you. I know this declaration is presumptuous, and that it's quite sudden, but it's so hard to get near you that I decided to tell you tonight. All I ask is that you tell me whether I can hope to win your love.'

'I don't know what to say .... give me time to think.'

'No, no, I can't! I need an answer now; you don't have to think about love; you either feel it or you don't. I am a man of few words, but my word is my pledge. I swear that my love for you will last for ever. What about you? Do you feel the same way about me?'


Yes, a thousand times.

.....Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Esquivel's first 19 pages was torture. Unlike the clarity and flow in Kafka's The Metamorphosis and Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Of Love and Other Demons, Esquivel's style loses out by a far mile. I was tempted to give up after around 10 pages. I'm glad I didnt.

Perhaps what I felt was lacking in terms of structure, organisation and clarity, she makes up for it with emotions and more emotions. I've learnt not to generalize but sometimes, just sometimes, I cant help but feel that women tend to let their emotions do the talking. But then again, I'm pretty sure that for every fault I find in a woman, women will find 5 more in a man. And perhaps, it's safe to say that it's a battle that us men should try to avoid at all cost.

However, Esquivel "spoke" to me through the quote above. I loved it the first time I read it. I think I'm starting to learn to set aside the "flaws" and overflowing emotions of female writers, and appreciate the true meaning behind the veil of words.

Just a thought though: Would the quote above work? What do you think?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Jeunet: To love or to hate?

I guess it's not over until the paper is finally on the teacher's desk.

A couple of hours before class, I decided to read my essay a few more times at the library and ended up writing the following:

Despite its appeals, the film is not devoid of critics. ‘[One critic] left the film enraged, declaring his disgust with this … retro postcard version of France, undeniably cleansed of all cultural diversity’(Bonnaud). At the train station, we see Amelie walking away hurriedly from three inner-city youths. At first sight, we might associate them with criminal intent but when we see them walking away moments later in a different direction, we realize that we are wrong. I believe Jeunet deliberately wants to evoke our stereotypical mindsets and subsequently makes us reflect upon ourselves the reason for thinking such a negative thought. Perhaps then, he hopes that such a reflection will eventually lead to the eradication of such stereotypical mindsets.

Paper's submitted. It's finally over. Thank god.

I've been thinking about one of the things that I wrote:

Perhaps Jeunet hopes for the introvert among us to realize the need to ‘go and get him, for Pete’s sake’ and not wait for things to happen. Through Dufayel, Jeunet screams to the cowards among us: ‘You can take life’s knock. If you let this chance go by, eventually your heart will become …dry and brittle’.

Will the introvert among us ever make things happen? Or will they let chances after chances go by? I ask myself this questions because despite having written and read what I wrote countless times, I let yet another chance go by a couple of hours before class. I saw her as I walked down the stairs toward the computer terminals.

I pictured myself walking towards where she was and if we made eye contact, I'd smile and if she smiled back, I'd ask if she's the girl that's taking the same elective as me. The one whose path Ive been crossing time and time again. The one whom Ive been meaning to talk to but never could find the strength to. Ok, maybe just the first one will do - even though I know it's her. And if she's friendly, I'd use the computer beside her and we'd talk about the essay and stuffs. But if she's not, then I think I'd kill myself for smiling at her in the first place.

As I neared her, I realized that I'm not willing to risk "losing" her and kill myself for it. I sat a row of computers before her. She was so close yet so far. As I placed my bag on the chair beside me, I realize I'll never change. I was resigned to the fact that she'll just be a sweet impression that I'll write about under the label "sweet distractions"...

Jeunet's an idiot for challenging us introverts and making us feel like idiots.


If there's one thing I'm obsessed about, it's writing. And I do not even know why.

I went to the library once school ended to print my essay for submission later today. A harmless browse through the 4 pages brought out a pencil and throughout my train ride back home, I was scribbling and cancelling and desperately trying to insert new points and ideas that I felt was fresh and original. I even tweaked the title from "Love at First Sight" to "An Introvert's Love at First Sight". A nice personal touch to the endless hours spent into it.

If you stumbled upon this entry searching for nostalgia in Amelie, do remember to include me in MLA format under "Work Cited".

Retroinspection: Thoughts and Reflections. Marzuki, 7 Oct. 2009. Web. 7 Oct. 2009. .

Wednesday, 330am.

It's finally over.

An Introvert’s Love at First Sight

In Amélie (2001), Jean-Pierre Jeunet uses nostalgia as the foundation for his “feel good” film. The film evokes both a physical and spiritual longing for something from the past through recollections of distant fading memories. This paper will provide a critical analysis of Jeunet’s film by exploring the ways in which he expresses the sense of nostalgia and the significance of these portrayals. The paper will also discuss Jeunet’s particular vision of the world, possible reasons for such a portrayal and some of the broader implications of the film’s “retro” tendencies.

The film is nostalgic on many levels. Firstly, Amelie’s childhood reflects our own. Through young Amelie, we remember finding pleasures from the ordinary – playing with papers, making funny faces on glass panels, arranging dominos just to watch them fall, watching a coin spin on its edge and peeling off dried glue from our little fingers. Also, the death of Amelie’s mother evokes bitter nostalgia from our experience of dealing with the loss of our loved ones. The sight of Amelie’s beloved teddy bear in the garden soon after her mother’s death shows us Amelie’s strength despite her young age – she had realized the need to let go of her beloved mother. This vision of Amelie’s childhood shows us that children are maybe much stronger than we give them credit to be.

Amelie’s experience with nostalgia within the film makes us feel part of the film – with nostalgia acting as a common ground. When she met a blind man playing a black vinyl record, she was reminded of the time she made her own vinyl record using black paint. Nino Quincampoix’s troubled past as a bullied child was disturbing nostalgia, yet significant as it reminds us that who we are today is a product of both good and bad experiences. This helps to reemphasize the realism aspect of the film.

The film also evokes memories of our retro school days. When Collignon told Amelie to look for his ‘elephant mom’, we asked ourselves whether an elephant has a good memory. When we were told how Bretodeau ‘loves picking the hot carcass with his fingers starting with the oysters’, we quietly thought about the link between chicken and oysters. When Felix Lerbier ‘learns there were more links in his brains than the atoms in the universe’, we wondered if this was the case.

Love is perhaps the most crucial touch of nostalgia in the film. Amelie seems to represent the person we were, are or hope to be when it comes to getting our love at first sight. Through her love story, perhaps Jeunet hopes for the introvert among us to realize the need to ‘go and get him, for Pete’s sake’ and not wait for things to happen. Through Dufayel, Jeunet screams to the cowards among us: ‘You can take life’s knock. If you let this chance go by, eventually your heart will become …dry and brittle’. Jeunet’s use of nostalgia manages to strike a chord deep within us and therefore, making us more receptive to his messages in the film. By evoking bitter sweet yet memorable memories of our past, the film leaves us with a feeling, and hence a film, that we never want to forget. Nostalgia has played a highly significant role in the film.

‘In such a dead world, Amelie prefers to dream she’ll earn enough to leave home.’ Jeunet presented the current world as dead and immediately after, introduced us to “Amelie’s world”. Amelie manages to live her dream left home to work in Montmartre at the Two Windmills. We were then introduced to a host of characters: Suzanne the café owner, Hipolito the failed writer, Georgette the tobacconist, and Philomene the air hostess. We were given a brief background of these characters including their likes and dislikes – despite the fact that their superficial stories seems to have no direct consequence on the film.

However, I suggest that they do. Perhaps, Jeunet presented us this particular vision as he wanted us to start caring about the people around us. Having made us “follow” Amelie in her journey through life right from the journey of ‘the sperm …belonging to Raphael Poulain’, Jeunet did not want us to make the mistake of focusing solely on Amelie. It could be his way of reminding us that those around us have stories of their own that are just as interesting as the ones around Amelie. Jeunet might have noticed that we tend to get too caught up with our busy lives that we forget about things like helping people in need– like the blind man whom Amelie helped crossed the road. At the same time, Jeunet portrayal of the world through the eyes of an introvert illustrates to us that the world is dead only if we want it to be. Through Amelie, Jeunet has shown how ‘a dead world’ can be simple, beautiful and meaningful at the same time. All we need to do is to change our view on life and the world will immediately come to life.

The film retro tendencies – successfully achieved primarily through nostalgia with the support of the sepia effects, the soft yellow light, the classical background music, the black and white motion pictures – exude a dreamy and nostalgic feeling that gave us the illusion that Amelie’s world is different from our world and led us into thinking that whatever we see during the film belongs to the past. However, the fact that the film managed to touch our hearts showed that its beauty, simplicity and selfless traits remain valid even in today’s context.

The strength of Jeunet’s Amélie lies in its ability to alter our perception and to entice us to go deep within ourselves with the techniques used and emotions which it evoked. Through nostalgia, the power of imagination and the universal language of love, the film managed to demolish the wall that separates the past and present, the possible and the impossible and, the real and the fantastic. Finally, the film’s retro tendencies brought together Jeunet’s messages in the film as he demonstrated how beautiful life can be if we simply stop for a moment and let our minds roam free.

Works cited

Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain. Dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Perf. Audrey Tautou and Mathieu Kassovitz. DVD. Miramax, 2001.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Worth the time?

Monday, 1255pm.

A beautiful intro. An equally beautiful conclusion. Nicely developed ideas.

Or at least that's how I feel about it. Do you think it's worth the time to put in so much effort into something that others may, or may not, like? Is the thrill and satisfaction from the pain and stress of writing really worth it?

I took this module to challenge myself to write something other than blog entries. And challenge myself was what I did. I'm of the view that knowing that I've given my all my thoughts into this essay, the final grade at the end of this semester do not matter. I will not look back regretting the way I approached this elective module of mine.

A great way to start the second phase of the first semester of school. An estimated 7 more weeks to my first paper - beginning with this elective: Introduction to Magical Realism.

The thrill of writing

Sunday, 335 am.

I finally finished writing my 1000 words essay on Amelie. The introduction and conclusion were not satisfactory. The organisation of my main argument was weak.

Monday, 430 am.

A clear mind. Enlightenment. Finally. The thrill of having a breakthrough in ideas made me spend another 5 hours rewriting my initial 1000 words. I don't think I have a conclusion.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Awesome 22

"I turn twenty and i wish that i can find someone i can share my stories with."

"Peaceful and quiet 21st. I like it subtle."

And now I'm 22. It's still as peaceful and quiet - and yes I'm still wishing that I can find someone I can share my stories with. Nothing awesome, yet. Writing on my birthday never fails to give me a rough indication of how much Ive changed since then. So tonight, I shall write to the 23 year old me who'll most probably be reading this in a year's time.

Dear me,
Turning 22 feels like the day we turned 21. And 20. Birthdays are still like any other ordinary days. This time around though, when I read wishes after wishes of Happy Birthday, I just cant help but be happy about it. A year older would probably mean a step closer to her. But for some reason, Ive this weird feeling that you'll be typing the exact same thing on 2 October 2010. We shall see how long you'll stay the shy quiet extremely optimistic idealistic dreamer guy that you are now.
Hope things go well from now till then. If it doesnt, there's always next year and the year after. (: