czwartek, 28 lutego 2013

Jama Masjid, Delhi

                While sightseeing in Delhi I decided to go and see the largest and the most famous mosque in India: the Jama Masjid (जामा मस्जिद). It is situated in the old and very busy part of the city. The mosque is big and easily seen once you get near it, however, getting into it requires some determination :)

The mosque was constructed in the middle of the 17th century. As I mentioned before it is the biggest mosque in India and around 2500 worshippers can pray in the main square at the same time. It was build by emparor Shah Jahan - the same person who is responsible for erecting the Red Fort in Delhi and the Taj Mahal in Agra. You can enter it through either of three gates. There are two very tall minarets, one of which you can climb and admire the city view from above (quite an extraordinary view).

Before you enter the mosque you have to make sure you are dressed properly. No short sleeves and no shorts. It's best to take something to cover yourself with when you plan the visit. You will also be asked to remove your shoes. Because the main square is unprotected from the sun the stones get very hot and you can easily burn your feet. That's why there are long, fabric-like carpets stretched accross the square and you can comfortably walk on them. I also reccomend the blissful shade.

Despite the big number of people who visited the mosque I was able to sit down and enjoy some peace and quiet and rest from the sun. There are many ornaments and carvings on the floor and walls, which make the surrounding interesting to see. And of course the people immersed in prayers. One can easily imagine sitting here, why people come to visit this place and pray. There is always a certain tranquility in the mosques, which despite their modesty are somehow very beautiful in their shape and decoration.

The entrance

The steps leading to Jama Masjid

The beautiful main facade

The inside

The square seen from one of the towers

Delhi from above

Delhi from above

Pictures by me :)

czwartek, 21 lutego 2013

The Hunger Games ... And may the odds be ever in your favor :)

              I first heard about the book after seeing the movie.

A few words about the latter first. The "Hunger Games" film didn't make me sing or wanna see it again though, but I decided to check the book out anyway. After reading it I understood why some parts of the movie were done the way they were (and why the ending was sort of dragging) and I started to like the motion a bit more. Some scenes were done perfectly (like the one Katniss volunteers to be a tribute or where the tributes begin the games), some, I guess, less so. But it's definately a movie to see.

First, I was very happy to see Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy - the victor from district 12. I think he was casted perfectly for that role although the script didn't let him "spread his wings" so to speak. If only allowed, I believe Harrelson would be an Oscar winner :) Oh well, maybe for the next film.

Second, Jennifer Lawrence, who is becoming an overnight sensation as we speak, as Katniss Everdeen. I was curious to see her in a big production after watching a few of her more "quiet" movies. She is talented, no doubt about that, and she doesn't fail here (again I think the script might have been better). On some point I will dedicate a whole post just to her :)

It was nice to see Lenny Kravitz as Cinna. Such unexpected choice for that role, but so beautifully done by Kravitz. He was so gentle, calm and encouraging in the film. Great casting here I think.

The rest of the actors were more or less unknown to me, but I think that such movies as "The Hunger games" can make young actors stars and open the door for them :)

I'm waiting for the second movie because it's my favorite book. There are some surprises to anticipate and of course the widely discussed cast additions - like Finnick!!! ;)

Main characters


Coming back to the book written by Suzanne Collins. As I mentioned in the previous post the story strongly reminded me of Battle Royale. I know that Collins was on some point accused of copying the idea, but there certainly are a lot of differences (as the author of Battle Royale book pointed out).

I really like Suzanne Collins' style. She was able to describe extreme hunger, cold, exhaustion in such a way that sometimes I had the impression that I was able to feel it. The whole idea of a world where everything depends on what part of the country you are born, or the world where you have to fight for survival every single second was difficult to process at times. Even though I know that I live in such a world.

I like Katniss because she is a strong and independent girl who fights to the last moment. For herself and for those she loves. She is able to make difficult decisions and big sacrifices. She is a fighter like Gale and that's why they are good friends. Although the cause for their fight is different. Reading about Gale made me think about people, who are always ready for action. He made me wonder about those who instead of saving their lives - fight regardlessly on their own. He always stands on the front line. Peeta is a great counterbalance for those two. He is brave and strong as well, but on the other hand he is calm and not so hot-tempered - like Katniss for example.

What I enjoyed most was the ending of the whole trylogy. Although sad for Katniss the story makes a circle and comes back to the starting point making us question the whole reason for the struggle.

For me, however, the point is quite clear. We live in a cruel world (I think that the same message Collins tries to convey in her other books from "The Underland Chronicles" series), but it doesn't mean that we should give up. Fight is necessary regardless of the sacrifice.

Books covers

czwartek, 14 lutego 2013

Magic at Hogwarts with Harry Potter

        I have mentioned in the previous post that one of my favorite audiobooks is Harry Potter read by fenomenal Stephen Fry.

I totally missed Harry Potter mania, because I started listening to the books maybe two years ago. I remember, however, seeing the news showing people queuing in front of bookshops when the new part was comming out. I was amazed to see kids, young adults and adults who would wait many hours to buy the next part depicting the most famous wizard of our times. It made be somehow hopeful that reading didn't die out, that there are still people who want to read, and what's more there are kids who want to give up TV or computer games to sit and read an ordinary book :)

I love the series for many reasons.

There are a lot of new ideas in the book but also a lot of old things. We have trolls, ghosts, vampires and werewolves neatly mixed with Parseltongues, the Sorting Hat and Horcruxes. Although, some accuse Rowling of not being very inventive, I think that she combined "the new and the old" very neatly, creating  a new quality.

The book is written very nicely and the language and style are very good considering that Harry is Rowling's first creation. It is plain to me that she simply had no choice but to write this story. And that she had this book in her for a very long time.

I admire the story line. It looks like very carefully planned with all the details and events coming out at a precise moment. Every character has its "five minutes", every detail counts and is very often explored later in the story. It creates a sense of connection and a flow in the book. Like in real life where all we do have a reason and consequences.

The characters are fantastic. We have those to dislike - like Pansy Parkinson and those to like - for example Hermione Granger. There are characters we cannot make our minds about - like Draco Malfoy and characters we have to change opinions about - Severus Snape. In between we have funny characters (George and Fred), sad characters (Moaning Myrtle) and annoying characters (Argus FilchPeeves), and many, many more. Everyone can find someone to relate to :)

Finally, the story is about the fight of good and evil. We can understand it in a big picture, but I like to see it as an internal struggle. Each character in the book, and each one of us in real life, sooner or later have to make a decision "easy way or difficult". We, like Harry, face problems and have to fight against them. We, as Harry, have doubts, moments of weakness, but also moments of happiness. And when the time comes we as well have to make a decision to be a positive or a negative hero :)

All aboard :)

czwartek, 7 lutego 2013


           My favorite type of movies are "one actor movies" as I call them. In such kind of films we have an excellent actor who performs superbly and you simply cannot look away. You are mesmerized by the character on the screen and the beautiful acting. It doesn't matter if the dialogs sound unnatural, or the plot seems ridiculous or even that the movie sucks. This single performance carries you through the movie and makes you wanna watch it.

I have seen only a few such movies in my life and they make my top - lets say - 5 list, with "Closer" as number #1. Only here instead of one great actor - we have four; instead of stupid - the dialogues are perfect, meaningful and intense; and the plot is truly superb.

Every character in this movie has a flaw. Larry is a caveman, who thinks only of sex. Dan is a romantic hero, who searches for true love. Anna is a depressive, who takes blame for everything. And Alice - Alice is a sweet, lost girl with "an edge", who wants to be noticed, who always pretends to be someone else. What will happen when such different people meet? Can they actually exist in close proximity? Can they understand each other? Can they love and make happy relationships? At the beggining of the movie it seems so ... but there is a catch.

For me, the most interesting were the male roles. I championed Dan through the movie, for he appears to be the good guy who deserves something positive happen to him (although he has a dark side as well). But, in the end, as a romantic hero he has to loose the battle with the real life - Larry. Larry the repulsive guy, who cheats on his wife and treats her like a "whore" (but maybe loves her in his own way). That's what they symbolise for me: romance vs. reality. There is no place for "hearts and flowers" on daily bases. It doesn't matter what you want because true life will get you in the end.

Every scene, every word, every look is - in my humble opinion - a masterpiece in itself. There is this electric charge between the actors and thus - the characters. The cast did a spectacular job on creating a unique atmosphere. Plus (because I love English language) it was great to hear beautiful american and british accents in one movie.

I come back to this story from time to time (or certain scenes) just to feel that energy again :)