A PASSAGE TO INDIA Forever and Ever

Chapter 9.  Dr. Aziz recites a poem for the delectation of the Englishwomen.  This man is crazy!  Crrrraaaazy with a capital C!  But without meaning to, he is seducing poor Adela Quested, by appearing to embody the True India!  Not the colonial India of Adela’s English fiancée, but the great cultural force that sweeps all Western notions of decorum aside!

He has many grandiose notions.  For instance, “Aziz liked to hear his religion praised.”

Here’s what happens after Aziz recites his poem:

Of the company, only Hamidullah had any comprehension of poetry.  The minds of the others were inferior and rough.  Yet they listened with pleasure, because literature had not been divorced from their civilization.  The Police Inspector, for instance, did not feel that Aziz had degraded himself by reciting, nor break the cheery guffaw with which an Englishman averts the infection of beauty . . .  The poem had done no “good” to anyone, but it was a passing reminder, a breath from the divine lips of beauty, a nightingale between two worlds of dust.  Less explicit than the call to Krishna, it voiced our loneliness nevertheless, our isolation, our need for the Friend who never comes yet is not entirely disproved.

A Passage to India was Forster’s fifth novel.  It is surpassingly great.

Just now she realized that Forster slips into the collective first person when he mentions “our” loneliness, “our” isolation.  How breathtaking.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Charlson Ong’s “How My Cousin Manuel Brought Home a Wife” in THE BEST PHILIPPINE SHORT STORIES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

The narrator’s cousin stayed away from his family for 20 years.  Suddenly, he re-surfaced, a Brazilian wife in tow.  The narrator was given the task of picking them up from the airport.  Upon arriving home with the romantic pair, mayhem ensued (P.S. The narrator’s and his family are Filipino Chinese):

Mother threw something at me, missing by an inch while Mei Lu wailed.  “You call that a daughter-in-law?”

“Yes.”

“Ah Jiyet, just shut up.”  Mother was all set to explode.  You could tell she was loading up whenever she took to call me by my Chinese name.  “Why did you bring them here, you idiot?”

Mother’s query clawed away my last skin of good humor.  “What?” I nearly choked.  “Where was I supposed to bring them?”

“To a hotel . . . anywhere . . . “

“This is just great,” I blurted.  “So now it’s all my fault.”

“When will you ever grow up?” Mother countered my exasperation with what seemed like genuine disgust.

“I think you’re both crazy,” I nearly screamed and Mother was about to hurl another projectile my way when Mei Lu wailed:  “O ke kiam tua kno waah . . .

“Big and black . . .  big and black,” the woman moaned like some professional mourner weeping over a mutilated corpse.  “She’s bigger than the Great Wall and blacker than the pit of my kettle.”

“She’ll bear big children,” I blurted and Mother had more or less given up on trying to control the whole scene.  “Big and black . . . ” Mei Lu kept on.  “Big and black children.  Oh . . .  Ah Di ah . . . what have you done?  Why didn’t you look after your only son?  Are you too busy laying women in the netherworld of burning in hell that you should allow this tragedy?  What will your ancestors say?  They will tear me to pieces in the afterlife and curse me till eternity’s end . . . “

“You know how much they make these days in the NBA?” I rambled on, but Mother was beyond railing.  “Carlos, please.  This may all seem very funny to you, but it isn’t.  It really isn’t.”

“She’s a healer,” I said.

Mother scowled:  “What?”

“She’s a psychic healer.  You know, voodoo stuff . . . zombie specials . . . “

Mother attacked me with the folded 20-page ads of the Sunday Bulletin, forcing me out of the room.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Oh Poor Selena

Self just happened to turn on the TV (for background noise while composing a story, of course) and landed on something hilarious featuring Anna Faris in full-on blonde bimbo mode (Emma Stone and an amazingly thin Kat Dennings are in it as well).  OMG, she thinks this is “The House Bunny,” a show self wouldn’t be caught dead watching in a movie theater.  So what, no one’s home.  Har, har, har!

She’s also finally getting through the Wall Street Journal of almost two weeks ago.  The regular movie critic, Joe Morgenstern, who she loves because he introduced her to the glory of “The Hurt Locker,” is on va-cay, so the reviews in this issue were written by John Andersen.  Andersen really liked “Closed Circuit” with Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall (Self caught the very tense, atmospheric preview) and he has a funny mixed review of “Afternoon Delight.”  If one is going to give a mixed review, one might as well be funny, right?  Right?

And then on to his review of “Getaway,” starring the very pretty Selena Gomez and an older man named Ethan Hawke.

Ethan Hawke??!!  With Selena Gomez??!!  Was he not just in theaters a few weeks ago with the wonderfully acerbic and touching Julie Delpy?

On to the Andersen review of “Getaway.”

Why is everyone in “Getaway” in Bulgaria, Andersen wonders.  Self wonders, too, since she doesn’t know what would be wrong with the country of Bulgaria.  But Andersen goes on to reveal that “filmmaking there is cheap” (Self madly scribbles this on a notepad, for future reference.  If she should ever be in the mood to make a movie, that is.)

This is the first movie to feature Selena Gomez in action mode.  She plays The Kid, a character who appears pointing “an enormous automatic pistol” at the Ethan Hawke character.  This is what Andersen has to say about that pivotal moment:  “. . .  in her hoodie, and wielding that cannon, Ms. Gomez looks like a delinquent chipmunk.”

At this point, self nearly stopped reading.  And here she was thanking her household gods that Selena did not choose to go the Miley Cyrus route of impersonating a sex goddess.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Andersen has to follow the “delinquent chipmunk” reference with a really low blow:  “It’s all you can do not to laugh.  Oh, go ahead.”

All the fun is not reserved for Ms. Gomez, however.  Here’s what Andersen has to say about Hawke:  “None of us really knows how we would act if a spouse were abducted by gangsters . . . ” (On the contrary, Mr. Andersen!  Self does know!  She knows very well!  She would go manic ape-shit crazy and run around in circles shouting curses and she would go to the nearest ATM machine and check her bank balances and then write a HUGE check — or she could maybe don a wig and board the next plane for Istanbul).  To make a long story short, Andersen is dissatisfied with Ethan Hawke’s performance because he “can’t quite maintain the level of panic necessary to convince us his wife is really being held hostage.”  (Perhaps the Uma Thurman experience soured him on marriage forever and that’s why he can’t quite pretend not to be a cynic about personal relationships?)

Anyhoo, kudos to Hawke, though, for having “a nicely ravaged look these days.”

Andersen is not yet done with Selena, though.  He has to stick the knife in and turn it:  Ms. Gomez, he says in parting, has the “facial contours” of “a petulant infant.”

OK, OK, we get it!  Not everyone can age as gracefully as Miley Cyrus!  Sometimes it takes AAAGES to lose the baby fat!

But once it is gone, the next thing on the menu is — drooping eyelids!

Selena, be happy about your current “delinquent chipmunk” look, and don’t fret.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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