Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Birthday Alarm

A friend’s daughter sent a text and asked me to make a short clip for her mother’s 50th birthday so she could compile a video montage with well wishes from friends as a surprise gift for her mother on her birthday. It was a very sweet idea that I could not refuse when invited to participate. One of my colleagues had  shopped on line and purchased  a monopod that  happened to be delivered to the office. The gadget could not have arrived in better time. I dread close ups shots so the monopod was definitely the rescue remedy. My colleague lent me the monopod and after fiddling with my iPhone that was clipped to the monopod for more than half hour, I came up with about a dozen  or more selfies that lasted less than 10 secs. I discarded most of them while I kept some. I sent a couple of videos to my elder daughter to see what she thought since she belongs to the generation that selfies is a norm. My daughter commented that I looked rehearsed and serious in both of them. Finally I decided on a different clip where I looked less rehearsed and perhaps more natural.

The last baby boomers turn 50 this year. I think boomers are not that different from the Xers or Y generations in that when we were young, we all must have had a sense of entitlement. You feel entitled until finally you realize that it is time to take stock. You will reach a point where you have done all the experimentation and however you try to reinvent yourself, you have to accept who you truly are. As you approach middle age, your metamorphosis must have been complete and you have to live with the consequences of whatever choices you made when life was beginning to take its shape. No matter how we say about age is just a number and we cannot be defined by our age and we should be proud of the years and embrace our age blah blah blah, we cannot help not thinking about what we could have done over the past years before we hit another birthday.

N-W written by Zadie Smith is  a story about the characters who grew up in the North West of London. Leah Hanwell and Natalie Blake are the two main characters who are best friends growing up in Caldwell Housing Project. Leah Hanwell’s mother, Pauline came from Dublin and Natalie Blake’s family hailed from the Caribbeans. Leah married Michel, a handsome hairdresser of French African descent while Keisha Blake  changed her name to Natalie and married Frank De Angelis, a handsome banker whose mother is Italian and father, a Trinidadian. Leah passes the old estate everyday on her walk to the corner shop while Nat tries to live far enough to avoid it. Leah studied philosophy and works at a shabby nonprofit. Natalie who has become a successful barrister  seems to be bent on reinventing herself and is on her way up to forget everything that came before. Leah remains childless as Natalie has to juggle between her smartphone and her two kids. When Leah and Michel are  invited to  De Angelis to dine with their friends who are lawyers and bankers, they feel like they have been invited  to provide something like local colour. These friends are children of immigrants who hailed from Jamaica, Ireland, India and China. ‘Everyone comes together for a moment to complain about the evils of technology, what a disaster, especially for teenagers, yet most people have their phones laid next to their dinner plates.’ To Leah, these guests say the same things in the same way, their conversations revolve around inter alia giving birth, arguing over the unborn and wanting to give a child the greatest possibility of success, what they know about Islam, Christmas abroad, security systems, private cinemas and a restaurant with only five tables in it .

Both Leah and Nat live with the consequences of the choices they have made amidst their inconsistencies. N-W is a portrait about urban London and I find that it is not an easy book to read due to its edgy writing style.

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