Fifty Shades of Bewilderment!

For those of you who think this is a detailed book review….well, as much as my hands are itching to write that, I won’t spend time doing it. But for the ‘parched for feedback’ audience, here’s some thirst quencher to saviour before I get to the main point of this blog. And mind you, I haven’t even muddled it with mint or ginger or added lemon wedges. So, have fun!

The fifty shades series: The most unbearable set of books in terms of language, grammar and the choice of words. But, having said that, is it entertaining? Yes. Is it hot? Totally and a big “Yes”. Is it worth reading? Well, thats a bit debatable, if you ask me. Let’s just say that if you can get past all of the awful writing, it’s very enjoyable, for once. I admit that I read it cover to cover. Do not, however, mistake an enjoyable read for something ‘well written’, because this is NOT. It’s like “literary weed”. You know it’s bad for you, but you can’t stop. And though they say, don’t judge a book by its cover, but this set looks incredibly artistic and groovy on your home book rack! But that’s not the only reason why I bought them. And I am grinning now…

From past few years, I have been creating a ‘list’. This is a list of things that I would like to do, when I have all time in the world. Reading the three books of this series was one of them. And just when you thought I am about to give out the saucy details of my experience of reading the book and the impact that it had on me, I will try to very gently halt your train of thought. This is really about something even more interesting than reading these books.

Have you read the fifty shades series? Well, the right question is in fact not this. Have you tried to buy the fifty shades books from a book store? Again, no. Not an online one but a traditional brick and mortar one? If you have already done that, then you know exactly what I am going to talk about in this blog. And god forbid if you haven’t, then you can take a call, shortly after reading about my experience.

So what happens when you pick a copy of fifty shades in a bookstore? Here’s a sneak peek!

It was a fine winter afternoon when I entered a bookstore. I was experiencing a dry spell. Well, I meant in terms of reading. I had not picked up a book for the longest time that I could imagine, five months to be precise. So here I was in the smallest bookstore known to mankind, trying to find myself some kickass stuff to read. After browsing through a few books, I happened to pick ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ (the first part). “It’s a really nice book. You must read it” I heard a voice. I turned back to find a girl, somewhat in her early twenties, seated on a puffy near one of the hidden book racks, long open tresses, black cat eye glasses on her eyes. “Sorry?” I asked, making sure that she was talking to me and not to the oblivious shopkeeper. “Yes, this one. Real good. Oh I read it twice, you know.” Now thats why I don’t like dry spells. Come on guys, think straight for once! As a result of this, I ended up buying the book. Later on, when I read it, quite irritatingly, I kept imagining that girl (from the bookstore) to be the protagonist of the book.

So, to save myself from any more hallucinations, I bought the ‘Fifty Shades Darker’ (the second part) online. They had a deal on buying the second and third one together but I escaped the offer, thinking I might not really buy the next one. The reasons for buying the second one was….well, just to read. I guess. After reading the massive shit that this book had to offer, I vowed to never buy the third one, ever….not knowing that I was going to break this promise made to myself, very soon…just like I breach my diet every now and then.

One fine Sunday morning, I was out with family to satisfy the shopaholic in me and leverage all possible discounts on season closure. After some time, I entered a book store with my four year old kid and started to browse the shelves of activity books for children. Despite occasional howls and banter over fidget spinners by my son, I managed to pick three books for him. As I made my way to the billing counter….I saw it…

There it was, almost calling out to me. This time with reduced price by almost 60% and a hardbound cover to die for. In all its glory, this was ‘Fifty Shades Fred’ (the final one). To buy or not to buy, thy was the question. Before I could even reason it out with myself, I just picked up the mighty black swan and stacked it over the kids books that I had picked earlier. A lady in her mid sixties (I guess) watched me do that. “Oh you are reading this? Buying it for yourself, eh?” There was huge emphasis on “you” and yourself”, by the way. I gulped in a spit and answered “Yes”. She looked at my son, and then looked back at me. As if the awkwardness wasn’t enough, she asked me “so you read the others as well?”. Now, though it is an interesting perspective as to why a person will buy the last book of trilogy before reading the previous ones, I was again intrigued, not so much by the question but by the intent of the question. Call me crazy if you will but I said “Yes, I did”. I made it to the billing line closely followed by the lady.

Lo behold, the stares did not stop. By this time I was in two minds, contemplating whether to wait for the billing to be done or to just pick the book, hide my face and run out of the store. But then I remembered, I had my son with me. So I waited in the queue. Just then came the next question, “That’s your kid? Nice. So you enjoyed the first two of the books?”. Now, the juxtaposition of the two questions was pretty interesting, but I still didn’t take the hint. And I blurted “Yes. Thats my son. Yes, the books are fine. You planning to buy them too?” She seemed visually upset at my question. I continued “If you are, then there is a very good deal going on.” By that time, I made it to the billing counter.

She looked at the man at the counter and said “Did you hear that? She is asking me if I want to buy these books.”  This time the emphasis was on “I” and “these”. I was awestruck. For a few milliseconds, I did not even get the context. Frankly, I still don’t. The man at the counter mechanically replied “madam, we accept all credit cards and even paytm transfers, so in case you too wish to buy this set, it is available on an offer….” The lady bypassed me and kept the stack of her books on the billing table with a thud. She sternly looked up to the man and said “please bill these” and adjusted her glasses. All I could say at the moment was, “ma’m you were after me in the queue. But never mind.”

Television, my new best friend!

Television may not be an idiot box, after all. Although, some of the content in it may be. I won’t argue on that. Ever since I have been on a sabbatical, which is about a few weeks now, I have very constructively spent my time watching some “good television”. Oh yeah, to everyone’s surprise, I find this extremely “constructive”. For once, you could travel to different parts of the world, see the lives of varied kind of people and how they choose to live it and much more……all sitting in the comforts of your home.

Having mentioned “good television, I am not really taking about turning unfathomable bahus into “naagins”. Or still better, propagating child marriages and dancing around minors like shit head poppers. I think the ultimate one is really when the most vulnerable family member takes baffling avatars and turns into a possessed being who can only be cured by black clothed, unshaven, rudraksha decorated, trishul laden babajee; the guy who never bats an eyelid. The “babajee”, I must confess, looks way scarier than the possessed being, in almost all of them. No, not that stuff, for heaven’s sake! Spare your souls and stay away from it, I’d say.

So I picked up some recommended content from Netflix and amazon. Well, frankly, not everything I saw was fantastic. But yes, I did manage to come across few masterpieces. To my delight, they were bizarre, life changing, thought provoking and some of them even tasted better than my coffee! Now, you must know there are very little things that taste better than my coffee…and as much as you may want to read about it, I am not naming any of them here.

In this blog, I intend to share some of the “must watch” flicks. And don’t worry, I will come back to you with more ones, before you can extinguish these. Well, don’t watch them too quickly. Not one after the other. Each one of them needs a breathing space, just like many of us do. And that must be given. It’s just like smelling different perfumes. You need to take a break before you smell the next one, to really understand the notes. Or you may just smell some coffee in between. And there, I start about coffee once again….

Coming back to the point, so here are my top three recommendations:

  1. The Crown (TV Series): a historical drama television series, written by Peter Morgan and produced by Left Bank Pictures and Sony Pictures Television for Netflix, has grown on to become one of my favourite television series. The show is a biographical story about the reign of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. What I probably like the best about the show is that it an unapologetic depiction of the greyness in each of its characters. The unabashed portrayal of the so very apparent dichotomy between what prevails and what is showcased, is clearly very fascinating. Two of the seasons are already out. I am done with watching them both, can’t wait for the next one!
  2. Revolutionary Road: a 2008 British-American romantic drama film directed by Sam Mendes. This is the second on-screen collaboration among Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet and Kathy Bates, who previously co-starred in Titanic. Besides the fact that it stars my favourite lead pair and that it has already earned various accolades, what really sets this movie apart is the “depth” of the story. A seemingly casual livelihood turns into a complex situation fuelled by invigorating desire to shake out of one’s routine. The intensity of the story may leave the viewers almost numb by the end of it, just as it did to me. This is a movie that one should watch alone. Everyone may have their own version of righteousness. Choose yours wisely 🙂
  3. Gone with the wind: Well, need I say more? a 1939 American epic historical romance film, adapted from Margaret Mitchell‘s 1936 novel of the same name. I really don’t want to talk about this epic. Its almost like trying to summarise a Mahabharata or a Ramayana in a couple of lines….not sure if I can do any justice to that. So, go ahead and watch it. I strongly recommend. The movie is lengthy but crazily addictive. It is one of the rarest beauties which is even better than the book that it is based on!

Happy tele-visioning, friends 😛