Jan 1, 2008

The Greatest Journeys Are The Ones That Bring You Home

This was one movie I watched during our International Students' Countdown night. Thoughtful, sentimental and straightforward, it captured my heart instantly. The story spans 3 generations - from a well-to-do Bengali family in Calcutta in the 70's to the modern day Indian-American in New York. Ashoke Ganguli came back from New York to Calcutta in search for a wife. After pronouncing that living in freezing winters halfway across the globe is all right, Mrs. Ganguli starts life afresh in The Land of Opportunities. Holding tightly to her tradition and values 12,000 miles away from home, she gave birth to Gogol Ganguli, named by his Dad after the intelligent but insane Russian writer Nikolas Gogol, and Ashima.
Gogol grew up to be a typical American teenager - marijuana, girls, and 'hey guys' which highly displeases his mother. They spend a summer in India, in which Gogol (now Nick for Nikhil) finds the Taj Mahal fascinating and inspires to be an architect. Life goes on and the second generation Ganguli's live in dire ignorance of their culture. The sudden passing of his father forces Gogol to confront his fear about culture identity, and he went through several ups and downs with love in the process. Mrs. Ganguli finally decides to embrace her freedom, coming along with widowhood, as Gogol makes peace with his culture and circumstance.
2008 marks a new and revolutionary year - many of us 2005 graduates will leave Malaysia for the first time in pursue of higher education. Time flies, and I was swimming in pages of philosophy report when Zi Yi banged in on MSN. It was then that I recalled, he was already in Michigan, a place farther away from home than mine. And I started to recall how it seem like yesterday when we sat together on Mdm. Mok's car weaving though the 1.30 traffic to get home. Time flies, and all of us are taking off.
While we are blessed by every relative and friend with our departure, we do know that our future in a foreign land will not be a bed of roses - there will be slip-ups, and you'll have to overcome it alone; culture shock, and you'll have to adapt and swallow it, alone. The important thing to take note is not to lose our identity and our core values in a foreign land. We are what we are truly inside, and whether you like it or not, it will be embedded on your bodily features for your entire life, so make peace with it and know who you really are and what you really want.
The movie discussed family traditions which I find close to heart, and hence the motivation to recommend this novel-adapted movie here today. The values it aspires are what we so often propagate all these while - to be true to yourself. Only those who won't be swept away by tides of cultural change will truly find peace and happiness in a totally different environment.
'The Namesake' is just like any other movie so gallantly made of late - someone went abroad for a long long time and came back, and found himself not the original him anymore. The only reason I liked it was the mysterious Indian elements as well as how the film makes time look weightless, and time IS weightless.
A few months more Soon Khen will also be somewhere far away from home. And I will start spending less time at home. I dedicate now, the 21st minute on the 2nd day of 2008 to bless everyone - no matter where you are, be true to yourself. Home is where we come from.


peng said...

this is a meaningful movie o...
not bad haha...

Anirbit said...

Great to know that you liked the movie. I too liked it. But having read the original novel "Namesake" by Jhumpa Lahiri before the movie seemed to miss out at parts and had some authenticity errors about Indian traditions whereas the novel was accurate to the every detail.

I think Jumpa Lahiri is a brilliant writer. Her "Interpreter of Maladies" was also great.