We both enjoyed it enormously and I commend it to you all. But it has left me in a rather reflective mood, which I’m struggling to fathom.
The cynic in me says the film is a fantasy; a charming fantasy, admittedly, but a fantasy nevertheless. It deals with many issues in that rather twee, idealistic fashion that we British are so fond of.
The film’s principal characters each experience an epiphany. On subjects as wide ranging as marital fidelity, caste, xenophobia, diversity, ageing, arranged marriage, bereavement, loneliness, sex and shame, we witness enlightenment and a happy endings all round. If only life could be like that!
In August last year, I launched this blog to challenge accepted wisdom, fixed ideas, the status quo. Inevitably, I have acquired a readership of open minds and liberal ideals. Or, to put it another way, I’m preaching to the converted. And so it will be with this film, I believe: no racist is ever going to see it.
India holds a special magic for me. But I have never been. I know you’re thinking that this is patently nonsense. And part of me must agree with you: my attitude to India is untenable. Another part of me feels that I belong there.
The worth of any work of art may be measured in its ability to make one think differently. By this measure, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was, for me, a great work of art.
Faith: allegiance to duty or a person: belief and trust in and loyalty to God: belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion: firm belief in something for which there is no proof: complete trust: something that is believed especially with strong conviction: a system of religious beliefs.
Knowledge: familiarity with someone or something, which can include facts, information, descriptions, or skills acquired through experience or education. It can refer to the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. It can be implicit (as with practical skill or expertise) or explicit (as with the theoretical understanding of a subject); and it can be more or less formal or systematic.
Charlatan: a person who makes elaborate, fraudulent, and often voluble claims to skill or knowledge; a quack or fraud.
Status quo: a commonly used form of the original Latin “statu quo” – literally “the state in which” – is a Latin term meaning the current or existing state of affairs. To maintain the status quo is to keep the things the way they presently are. The related phrase status quo ante, literally “the state in which before”, means “the state of affairs that existed previously”.
Hedge one’s bets: to reduce the risk of making a mistake, by keeping one’s options open.
Most people have a natural curiosity about where things come from and how they work. It has been so since prehistory. The ancients did not have our methods or tools of enquiry. When they ran out of explanation, it was easy and convenient to attribute to god.
We still don’t understand everything: not even nearly. There’s an argument that says we never will. But the frontiers of understanding grow at a greater rate with every passing day.
A caveman may be forgiven for marvelling at the sunrise and, in the absence of a better explanation, thanking a god. Isaac Newton explained plantary motion three hundred years ago but was unavailable for the caveman.
“Act of god” is enshrined in English law. Even the law doesn’t allow for the intervention of a supernatural being. It’s just a soubriquet for something that we accept as chance and don’t have an adequate explanation for.
Next time you hear “miracle of life”, think about what it really means.
A new year: is it a good time to ask for a new approach?
If history teaches anything, it’s that fighting rarely solves anything. When the fight is over, we have to talk to the folk we were fighting with. Isn’t it better to quit the fight now and launch a dialogue?
How we love to maintain and justify our entrenched positions! It is madness to suppose that repeating the actions of the past will have a different outcome in the future. The only people who benefit are the arms manufacturers.
Remember: the folk we are killing think they are right. They may or may not be, but killing them won’t change their minds. More likely, we produce yet another generation of fighters and haters, more entrenched positions, more legacy to unravel, more violence to be visited upon the next generation. What kind of a world would you like to donate to your children?
Christians do a fair bit of moaning about what Christmas has become in the modern world: the commercialisation, the boozing, &c. I take their point but I think it is worth remembering that Christmas was originally a pagan mid-winter festival that the Christians hijacked and perverted to their own ends. The same is true of Easter. At least with Christmas they had the good grace to change the festival’s name.
No-one in their right mind believes that Caesar decreed all his subjects should go to the town of their birth to be registered in the middle of Winter, when the travel would have been so problematic.