Hunger Games: the Modern Day Gladiator Games

Disclaimer: Once again, this is something I have been sitting on for some time now, but just couldn’t find time to complete the draft. However, unfortunately in this long wait, I have managed to lose all the references I had used. Thus please keep in mind that most of what is presented here is not unique or original.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins is definitely a series that has captured the imagination of many around the world. I finally got around to reading it last year, and absolutely refused to watch the movies (I didn’t hear glowing reviews and did not want to spoil the mental imagery I had). Since then I have thought a lot about the universe Suzanne Collins set up and realised the very obvious connection the hunger games had with Rome and the Gladiator Games.

The gladiator games were formulated basically as a means of sacrificing prisoners of war through a “burial of a warrior”. The first recorded gladiator fight in Rome is reported to have been held in 264 BC in the honour of the deceased Junius Brutus. As part of that fight, three pairs of slaves had fought each other. These slaves were called “Bustuarii” which is derived from the latin expression “Bustum” which means ‘tomb’ or ‘funeral pyre’. It is reported that these Bustuarii were armed with a rectangular shield, a short sword, a helmet and greaves. The popularity of these games eventually led them to becoming a secular sport.

Some connections between the hunger games and roman gladiator games are pretty obvious, such as the use of names from Ancient Rome including Cato, Portia, Octavia, Flavia and of course, Cinna. Cinna is the name of two guys who are reported to have had connections to Julius Caesar. One was a politician involved in the assassination plot against Caesar and the other was a poet who was murdered following the assassination, after having been mistaken for the other one. Suzanne Collins is also reported to have said that Panem was supposed to be like ancient Rome, and those who have seen the movies can’t miss the similarity of the arena with the Colosseum.

Apart from this, the hunger games also resembled the gladiator games in the sense that they were games involving ‘slaves’. While yes, the hunger games did not include actual acknowledged ‘slaves’, they were picked from the 12 districts, for the purpose of entertain of the residents of the Capitol. The ones whose names were picked as part of the reaping had no right to decline, they had no rights. The games also ended only when one contestant was left standing, thus it required the ‘sacrifice’ of the other contestants, while the viewers bayed and rejoiced at their deaths. The contestants were also dressed in exotic costumes. The difference here was that while in the gladiator games, the slaves were usually dressed as barbarians, in the hunger games, it was about the absurd fashion of that universe.

The gladiator games initially originated as a means of sacrificing prisoners of war at the burial of a warrior, and to make the sacrifice less cruel, the prisoners were given a ‘chance’ of surviving by fighting. The hunger games were invented as a means of reminding the districts of their servitude and the districts ‘sacrificing’ one of their young ones. To make it seem less cruel than plain murder, it was turned into a ‘sport’ which was telecast and viewed by all. The ones who survived became celebrities, but remained enslaved to the capitol for their entire lives.

Thus it is safe to say, that while Suzanne Collins, surely painted an impressive and captivating picture, it was mostly a re-invention of the historical gladiator games!

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: A Review

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Over the last week, the internet has been flooded with people posing with the new Harry Potter book and posting reviews on it. Well, a seasoned HP fan myself, I couldn’t resist. Like a  lot of people, I had pre-ordered my copy of the cursed child back in May with Amazon. However, I had to spend four agonizing days waiting for the book to be delivered after it was released! I finally got the book yesterday, and now that I am done with a book, I just have to say one thing- thank you J K Rowling! thank you for keeping the universe alive! Thank you for giving us more Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny! Thank you for giving us another visit to Hogwarts!….. Just thank you !!!! Ok now that the fan girl has been put aside, fair warning, Spoilers ahead! so if you don’t want to know what happens, then stop right here.

While there were parts I loved about the story, there were parts which I wish had been done differently. First off, I knew that this book was to be in a play script format, so I didn’t go in blind. However, while I usually like a good play, I just wish this was written in the traditional novel form as were the other HP books. The reason for that is that this book introduced and centred around new characters. While the dynamic trio were back, they were not the focus of the story. I don’t know Albus or Severus, and found it very difficult to associate with their thought processes and had to make some significant leaps in understanding for it.

Also, as a play, it was at times disjointed, and jumping across timelines and spaces, which I accept, was the whole plot in itself. But unless you were paying a lot of attention, it was easy to get lost. Another thing I felt, and I may be mistaken, is that at times, the characters which we are familiar with, such as Snape, Dumbledore, Harry and Ginny read differently. They did stuff I wouldn’t usually expect for them. Whether that be Snape’s advice to Scorpius, or Dumbledore’s portrait crying or Harry and Ginny’s conversation. At times it felt that a lot of things happened or were said not because that’s what the character would do, but that was what was required for progressing the plot.

Another quip I had, Rowling seems to have spend some time getting acquainted with the fan theories and fan fictions out there, Bellatrix and Voldemort’s child, really!!! I find that hard to swallow for a couple of reasons,

a. Voldemort does not seem like the character who would want the burdens of an heir- he wanted immortality, that somehow negates the whole need for a heir;

b. I had assumed that all the dark magic and being resurrected would have severely affected his ability to impregnate anyone. Though I can believe that he may have purely used Bellatrix for “release”. Though again, in keeping with his view on ‘weaknesses’ would he really have given in to such cravings?;

c. If Voldemort had chosen to have a child, I would have thought he would use magic to create one- perfect mastery over death (through immortality) and life (by creating life) itself.

d. in the deathly hallows, we see Bellatrix very close to the end, when Harry, Ron and Hermione are taken to the Malfoy Manor and are led to believe she was out and about (when Hermione impersonated her to take break into Gringotts), so when was this baby born and where in the world and how was she hidden!

Though yes, it makes sense that if he did choose to have a child and went about the conventional way to do it, then Bellatrix was a good choice, a pure blood devoted and powerful witch.

Unfortunately I wasn’t sold on the whole Augurey idea either, simply because it was just not given enough time for me to imbibe it. I had to Google it eventually to understand why that would be important. Another thing I was not sold on, the interaction between Delphii and Harry/Voldemort, the dialogue was just not Voldemort, he is the dark lord for crying out loud.

Also, some things never got explained, such as:

a. why did Harry start transforming back on his own?;

b. why did Albus not have flying skills considering both his parents were amazing flyers?;

c. How was Harry’s scar and related to Delphii, was it enough for her to be Voldemort’s blood to trigger it?

d. What about all that movement Hermione is referring to? the Dark side gaining strength?

e. out of curiosity, do Dementors still exist?

f. where was the blanket for so long!

g. Why did Rose react the way she did?, I find it difficult to believe that Hermione and Ron raised her that prejudiced, and that too against her first cousin or even a Malfoy for that matter.

h. Why didn’t Ginny allow her kids sweets?

Lastly, I missed some of the old characters, Neville, the other weasleys, Hagrid, the other kids, but that’s just the fan in me.

I also think this book was purely for the existing Potter lovers, for those familiar with the universe, its rules and history. I am sure the ones who just wanted to read this book without the background would be very confused.

However, not to sound as a hater, let me clarify, I did love it overall. My favourite parts were definitely the interactions between Hermione and Ron. That’s exactly how I would picture a couple who know each other so well to behave. I especially loved Hermione threatening to Skewer Ron with a quill if he asked for a break. There was no doubt, no hesitation, not even for a second did she entertain the idea that that could be a risk, or at least a risk she couldn’t threaten away. I overall loved the third and fourth act, they definitely made up for the initial  two average acts.

To sum it up, yes its not perfect, no where near that – a 7 on 10. But it is still Harry Potter, and that itself is worth more than a lot of the books out there. Its probably the last book with the fandom’s favourite trio. So if you like Harry Potter, do read it! If you have never read Harry Potter (which rock were you under?) read the rest first and then read this. Also, for those who can go, do watch the play live, I am sure if  performed well ( which I am assuming it will be) it will be amazing and heart melting.

 

Grey by E. L. James

In June 2015, E. L. James released ‘Grey’, providing the much awaited Fifty Shades of Grey rendition from the PoV of Christian Grey. I personally had access to the book for a couple of months but only got around to reading it last week, and that to just out of curiosity of how the story was narrated.

When I had read the original Trilogy, I was far from impressed, and found it an average story not worth the hype. Apparently the hype followed this latest book as well. However, if I am being completely honest, I have to say, I fortunately/ unfortunately prefer this PoV to Anna’s!

Don’t get me wrong, the story obviously hasn’t changed, its just the understanding that this book has allowed into Grey’s character is much appreciated. I read some of the reviews of the book, and most of them were pretty scathing. If I remember correctly the book was criticized as being a narration of a sexual offender and James was criticized for giving Grey is a single minded focus, all he apparently can think of is sex.

I agree with these assessments, but what I am failing to understand is why this came as a shock to people. From the original trilogy its obvious that that is what Grey is !!!! someone who was abused sexually in his younger years and someone who has been conditioned to thing in a single minded manner. He doesn’t understand emotion and hasn’t been given an opportunity to develop the maturity of an adult to handle them! In this regard he is a child and the only way he knows how to engage in a relationship (barring his family) is in a sexual manner- ” This is the only way I know how”. All of this was already established in the original books, so why is it a problem now.

Grey’s introduction to adolescences and puberty was in the hands of Elena, and I agree with Anna’s assessment, she was a pedophile. Through her conditioning, Grey learned to harness his energy, focus, take out his frustrations in a particular manner. She didn’t teach him how to deal with emotions, she taught him how to control them, how to harness them, and when he couldn’t, how to let them out in a controlled manner, punish those who didn’t do as he wanted and sexually reward those who did, and in a situation where no-one could go running to the cops. She conditioned him to associate sexual satisfaction with the BDSM lifestyle and the BDSM lifestyle only. She conditioned him to associate relationship’s with sex, and not ‘more’.  If you look at it from one way, Grey remained her submissive, living the life she wanted him to, on numerous occasions having relationships with women she chose, until Ana. I also understand his need for control- its the only way  he knows how to ensure that the neither he or his loved ones get hurt and given his past, I will give him that. That’s how he shows affection. Those he doesn’t care about, he doesn’t bother with.

In keeping with this, I think James did a fantastic job of narrating the story from Grey’s perspective. She stayed true to the character she build. In the first book, that was his only mind-set! he worked, he flew, soared and fucked. His relation with women was only that- of a submissive, that’s all he cared about.

So  yes, I don’t agree with the assessment that James failed to write an accurate perception or a complex character. I will reserve that judgement for the next book, where the evolution of Grey actually happens. I think the problem lies more in the readership today, where we are stuck in the fanciful notions of a dark knight changing his ways for the princess (though it is arguable that that’s what happens in these books). Our romanticism for a seemingly dark character who is actually a gem of a person underneath it all. Girls falling for the bad guy, whether that be Edward Cullen of Christian Grey. I agree with the perception that if Grey wasn’t filthy rich this story wouldn’t be that romantic. That is true, because I don’t see it as a romance at all. No matter how you see it, fact remains, that Grey takes pleasure in the pain of others, he hits women who look like his mother, he is a controlling, stalking and intrusive man who doesn’t understand personal boundaries, he is someone who has not yet matured emotionally, doesn’t know how to handle his emotions without a whip in his hand. and this book remains faithful to that character.

So overall I will say this, the book is a good narration of the character, the story still remains weak, but that can’t be helped now and the problem lies not with the writer but in the present day perception of romance and the bad guys being actually good.

We Need a Revolution by Sachin Garg

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We need a revolution by Sachin Garg, is a book that I believe was released in February 2016, however since the book doesn’t have a publishing date I am not so sure. I came across this book while window shopping at a crossword store in the Bangalore airport in India. Let me be honest, I have not heard of this author or book before, but the title got me intrigued. Also, what interested me was that it was apparently a book on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which form one of the most secluded and southern tip of India. I have always been fascinated by the Islands as I like to call them and have them on my bucket list of places to visit in the country. I don’t know much about the islands, but have friends who have worked there as part of their doctorates and so I have heard a lot of stories. Of course, the islands also have a place in our colonial history, when they were primarily used as a place to exile anyone who caused too much trouble, what was called ‘Kaali Paani’.

To give a quick summary of the book, it is based in the Andaman Islands and charts the story of a young couple who come to Islands for a visit and leave with a different world view and empathy for the plight of the aboriginals residing in the Islands. Samar and Navya, are on their last leg of the journey when Samar gets arrested for disorderly conduct. That is where he meets the intriguing and mysterious Shubhrodeep Shyam Chaudhary  and gets exposed to a different world view and gets involved with a British activist, a Muslim lawyer (read the book to understand why his religion is important) and Shubhro himself, in their fight to protect the Jarawa tribes (one of the last, quickly dying, aboriginal tribes in the Islands, now number around 300-400 individuals in total). I won’t go into the details of the book or their struggle as that would spoil it for everyone who wants to read it. The book, in short is about how a revolution is needed for the Jarawas, as was said by a freedom fighter, Bhagat Singh, “you need an explosion to make the deaf hear you” (loosely translated from Hindi). The book attempts to highlight the plight of a section of citizens of the country, a section that most “mainstream population” don’t even know about, forget give equal rights to. Citizens, who are no more than tourist attractions or worse, hurdles in the land grab race.

I discussed this book with a friend who works in the Islands, and she rightly pointed out that the book does not do justice to the Islands or the people. If you want to develop an understanding of the Jarawas or the Islands, this book is not the way to go. I completely agree. While this book is set in the Islands and is focused on the Jarawas, it is definitely an outsider’s perspective. The Islands are this amazing  place, characterised by a unique ecology and way of life. However, the book sadly, fails to capture that. However, in the defence of the writer, I don’t think that the intent of the book was to provide such an insight, and if it was, then he failed splendidly.

The book serves better as a lesson in humanity, in the apathy that has set amongst all of us, especially us ‘civilized’ people and the need to end it now! It’s a story not about the Jarawas, but about five people who decided to do something about the injustice they were witness to. Each came with their own motivations, some because they had lost the purpose to live, some because it was their job, some because they saw a similarity in a past injustice done to them and some simply because they had to be with the one they loved. Each person’s motivation was different, but what kept them together was the simple desire to do something! In that sense, it’s definitely a thought-provoking book, a book that makes you reflect.

However, having said that, I have one major issue with this book, and I seem to have this with most of the works I read, it doesn’t sell the characters to me. The story is interesting and thought-provoking but not gripping! it doesn’t keep me at the edge of my seat. I am known to be an emotional person, and can cry at anything really, and if you manage to invoke my empathy; then beware of the waterworks. However, this book, I didn’t feel anything, not enough anger, not enough outrage, not enough joy, not enough pain and not enough triumph. I had no stake in the characters, I had no personal interest in them and most of the relationships didn’t make sense, simply because the author did not make an attempt to make them! Shubhro is an incredibly interesting character and had my interest peaked in his introduction, but that is where it ended. The book is narrated through another character, and thus does not provide enough insight into any of the other characters.

Overall, I felt one major problem with the story telling and that was that it was not very good story telling! It was more a loose narration of events, devoid of human emotions. Like I said before, this is something I feel is a problem with a lot of the writers today, the books don’t emote enough! Human connect and emotion is what gets people going, and some of the best writers are those who are able to tap into that, J. K. Rowling, J. R.R Tolkien, G. R. R Martin to name a few. Unfortunately this book doesn’t do that.

In my opinion, this book isn’t bad by any means, but it isn’t mind-blowing either, so overall a B!

You’re never weird on the internet (almost) – thank you Felicia Day

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I have sort of been MIA for the last few weeks, but that was part laziness and partly because my other system was down and my mother needed to use this one. However, I have finally gotten around to writing my opinion piece on one of those rear books I fell in love with. Felicia Day, gamer, actor, businesswoman, writer, director, producer and I don’t even know what all, is a person I have admired for a few years now because of her role on the show Supernatural. Admittedly, I knew nothing about her apart from that. So, when she came to write her memoir, I hoped and hoped she would talk about the show. Despite all the reviews saying otherwise, I went ahead and bought the book, and boy am I glad I did.

To keep it short and simple, I LOVED THE BOOK! basically go out there and buy it. I am not someone who enjoys biographies and memoirs, but like I said, this one was an exception. The book honestly felt like you were sitting with Felicia having a cup of coffee and talking about her life. The conversational tone belied what many would have made into a ‘awwww poor girl’ story. Felicia tells it like it is, while keeping drama and self-pity at the very minimum. The book was like a burst of fresh air, after reading thrillers for some time. It made me smile, tear up, jump up and down with glee, burst out laughing, shaking my head in fondness, basically everything you want a good book to do for you.

In the beginning Felicia promises to give you a bunch of life quotes through the book, and she did not disappoint. I here have summed up SOME of my favourite quotes from the book.

“the world opened up for me once I decided to embrace who I am – unapologetically”

“we are bringing an empty bookshelf, life is what we fill it with”

“with responsibility comes great admiration”

“Growing up without being judged by other kids allowed me to be okay with liking things no-one else liked”

” Knowing yourself is life’s eternal homework”

“How wonderful it is to connect with like-minded people. No matter how lonely and isolated and starved for connection you area, there’s always the possibility in the online world that you can find a place to be accepted, or discover a friendship that started with the smallest of interests but could last a lifetime. ”

“it’s harder to perform in front of five of your friends than five hundred strangers.”

“Don’t chase perfection for perfection’s sake or for anyone else’s sake at all. If you strive for something, make sure it’s for the right reasons. And if you fail, that will be a better lesson for you than any success you’ll ever have. Because you learn a lot from screwing up… and make sure if you’re working hard at something its in a subject you actually want to remember something about ten years later.”

“I wanted to find a dream that I couldn’t live without pursuing”

“Never let the truth stop you from getting what you want”

“when the system you want to be a part of so badly turns into someone you’re unhappy with and lose sight of yourself, is it worth it? Er.. probably not”

“I’ve always felt like a failure inside if I’m not already a success”

“No problem is insurmountable if you’re willing to be creative and bat your eyelashes a little”

“You’re never weird when you’re surrounded by people who are weird like you”

“I love the idea of breaking the system. And the beauty of the internet is that it gives everyone, especially unrepresented voices, the opportunity to do a little breaking”

So in the end, I will sum it up simply to say, go ahead and read it, whether you are an actor or not, a gamer or not, a recluse or not, I am pretty sure you will enjoy it.

The things Harry Potter taught me

Harry Potter, I am pretty sure that the proportion of people who have been teens in the late 1990s- early 2000s and haven’t read these amazing seven books; is a very small proportion. Personally they are one of my absolute favourites. Perhaps because they were the first books I owned apart from Enid Blyton. Recently I came across a post saying James Sirius Potter, Harry’s first born (and yes I refer to them as real people, deal with it) starts Hogwarts this year, as a Gryffindor! I cheered out loud at that and decided to re-read some of the books again. That of course made me want to write this blog.

I know I am not the first one to write such a post, but really wanted to share why Harry Potter is important to me, so please bear with me. Of course, if any one wants to share their own favourites from this series, or any book for that matter, please drop a comment, would love to hear it.

1.it takes courage to stand up to your friends

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2. Sometimes you have to break the rules to do what is right

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3. There are More Important things than textbook knowledge, such as loyalty and bravery

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4.it is the choices we make that define us

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5. you are truly gone from this world when nobody is loyal to you

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6. The simplest of acts can go a long way

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7. Our reasons for our actions are only known to us

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8. there is no magic more powerful than love

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9. Even in the darkest of times sometimes all you need is a good laugh

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10. The dead we love never truly leave us. We recall them more clearly than ever in times of great trouble

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Top 50 Timeless Quotations

Whether that be people we admire, books we love or movies and shows we enjoyed, there are always moments and quotations that stay with us. In this post, I have listed my favourite quotes. These quotes, from books, shows, movies and people are quotes that have stayed with me and have inspired me at various moments in my life.

While initially I had simply put up these quotes in word form, I needed to do some thing apart from work, so I did this.

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Picture17

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http://www.killadj.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Mark_Twain.jpg

Picture23

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https://33.media.tumblr.com/bed46a205dae56ba3c70bb30890f1936/tumblr_nidj99JYBr1si2ypro1_500.gif

Hopefully these will inspire and encourage anyone who reads them! Happy reading and watching