Showing posts from May, 2014

Credit Card Tricks

I received a free credit card in the mail last month.It’s not from a bank, but one of the chain stores that offer credit for clothing and jewellery.

It’s a good thing that Ma is out there with my ancestors because she would be incensed.Buying something on credit?Live within your means my child.Save for that new dress.Save for a rainy day.
When I first came to North America, I was appalled when sales clerks asked me if I owed any shop or institution money.Silly me!I didn’t know that credit makes the world go round.
I do appreciate the benevolence of getting a credit card from strangers but I did not activate it.I’m older and wiser now. I don’t know where these people got my details from, but that is fodder for another post.
They also massaged my ego a little bit because they said I was ‘pre-selected’ for the credit card, making me feel sorry for those folks that did not make the selection.You must be kidding me! I cannot be a candidate for any credit, plastic money or otherwise.
I’m so brok…

Film Mother India

The 1957 film Mother India directed by Mehboob raised issues like illiteracy that are still here with us.

Mother India is about land.Jillo Maa wanted to give Shamu (Raj Kumar), her only son a wonderful wedding.She didn’t have money so she went to Sukhilala the moneylender, played by Kanhaiyalal.He gave her 500 rupees, using 20 acres of her land as collateral.Sukhilala took three parts of the crop as interest for the loan.She remained with one part.
It turns out that they had agreed on three parts for her and one part for the money lender.She lost the case, because Sukhilala showed the Village Council the document with her thumb.She couldn’t read and write.
“I believe in the spoken word not what is written,” she said.“Didn’t I say one part of the crop will be yours and three ours?”She died leaving her son Shamu and his wife Radha (Nargis) and their sons to service the loan.
Nature made things worse.It was either prolonged drought or vicious floods.Shamu lost his arms working a rocky piece…

I Don't Have a Dime

Canada is penniless.The Royal Canadian Mint stopped making pennies on the 4th of February 2013.There are many implications for someone who is in a constant state of being penniless.I must get used to saying I don’t have a dime.

Dimes should not laugh at the penny.Every dog has its day.Penny today, dime tomorrow! Is Canada the only country that stopped making pennies?I must do some research.

The problem we have now is the English language.We must sweep under the carpet and find all those pennies and get rid of them.No, we should substitute ‘penny’ for dime.

Penny blues
·penny wise pound foolish
·penny for your thoughts
·cannot two rub two pennies together
·penny’s worth
·pretty penny
·penny dreadful – cheap, sensational fiction, a book or a magazine (chicklit???)
·penny whistle Why do I get the impression that I’m still penniless after all this exercise?Oops! Dime-less!

Maya Angelou Death Poem

Maya Angelou loved herself, her body, her race, her past and present.That is how I missed her poems about death.

Mourning Grace
If today, I follow death
Go down its trackless wastes,
Salt in my tongue on hardened tears
For my precious dear times waste
Along that promised cave in a headlong
Will you
Have the grace
To mourn for me?
By:Maya Angelou

Book:Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie
Publisher: Random House New York

Internet Cafe is Dead


Privileged!That is what I am, privileged to have a computer and an internet account that enables me to hook up with the world.This hit me when I thought of the preposterous idea that we don’t need the internet café anymore.
It all started when I visited an upscale building one Sunday to look at a three bed-roomed apartment that was on sale, with a price tag I cannot afford.The advertisement in the paper said the building has a gym, regular café and an internet café.
Yes, but the internet café was empty because when it was built, it never occurred to the developer that we would have the internet at our fingertips, courtesy of Android phones.
Technology never sleeps.It is always scheming to make our current toys redundant in two months.The internet café was empty because residents in that building are privileged like me.
I was tempted to come to the conclusion that the internet café is going to be extinct very soon like the sugar bowl (blame the diet craze), butter dish (blame cholest…

Sholay Jaya Bhaduri

In most cultures, men do not wear a certain colour to show that they have lost their wives.

South Africa widows
Films such as Sholay, Mohabbatein, Choker Bhali and Maidan-e-Jung remind me of growing up in Durban, where we would spot a widow by her black weeds. As time went on, women stopped wearing full black and had a black collar on top of the blouse or dress for the bereavement period. This was later abandoned for just a piece of cloth pinned on the jacket or sleeve to indicate a death in the family.

Mourning usually takes a year. A cleansing ceremony is held after that and the widow starts wearing colourful clothes again and can also get married. It is now very rare to see a woman who has lost a husband dressed in black from head to toe.

Colour of Mourning
As a student of Indian cinema, I think it will be correct to say that widows in India wear white, but I don’t know for how long. Sholay, Ramesh Sippy’s film is popular for many reasons. My favourite character is Radha the…

Family Memoirs

Dreams From My Father, Barack Obama‘s memoir first published by Times Book in 1995 is proof that publishing family history is not a bad idea.

The current president of the United States wrote it when Bill and Hilary Clinton were tenants of the White House.

No publisher will touch your book I‘m afraid. You will have to publish your family history yourself because you are not Justin Trudeau, a member of Canada‘s semi-royal family.
Forget about approaching family members for a $200 contribution.That is definitely a kill-joy.You don’t want to lose your brother or cousins over something trifling like money.
Self-publishing comes in different shapes and forms.Nothing ostentatious you understand.A typed manuscript, old photographs and a visit to print shop at the mall.The boys and girls there will advise you about binding the pages into a book form. Alternatively go online and see if there are print houses that can bind the book for you.Remember though, they have a print limit.They can‘t start the…

Lupita Nyong’o Awesome

Lupita Nyong’o and her cart full of statuettes and other hardware for her contribution to 12 Years a Slave, resurrects the negative effects of the camera on the definition of beauty.

It also puts her parents, Peter Anyang and Dorothy Nyong’o in a quandary.They don’t understand the nitpicking about her colour, a feeling shared by millions of black parents from Georgetown Guyana, Khartoum Sudan to Atlanta Georgia. The camera lies because it seldom sees little black girls as adorable.But they are, always have been.If they are made in the image of God, they have to be.Fortunately, their parents love them and sometimes spoil them silly.

Enter the camera.It decides that they are not beautiful because they don’t have colour assigned to hair, eyes and other colour coded features. Black girls are just beautiful, as in Jill Scott, Tasha Smith, Nigerian actresses Liz Benson, Ini Edo, Mercy Johnson, Chioma Chukwuka, your daughter and your niece.…

Veterans in Boxes

Forest Whitaker’s role in Lee Daniel’s The Butler was circle perfect.It reminded me of his performance in Jason’s Lyric where he played Maddog, a Vietnam veteran who abuses his wife.It was not a marquee role, but important none the less.

He interpreted it so well, I ended up hating him.I never thought about the plight of veterans in that dark movie theatre.They are flown or bussed to theatres of war to defend their countries’ ideals: borders, democracy, communism, capitalism or religion. Some come back with all their limbs intact.Others are maimed physically and psychologically like Maddog.Worse still, others come back in boxes covered with the American flag, like Randy Barrington, the young soldier in the film The Painting.

Only veterans know what they went through.It is only them who know whether the wars they fought were just or not, but what must be nerve-wrecking is being in a box. Society puts them in the veterans’ box.Families caution each other about family members that survived …

Bank Card Declined

Cashiers are broke like the rest of us.

So please, don’t give me attitude when my card is declined.It also happens to cashiers when they are shopping somewhere outside their comfort zones.They are cashiers here, but customers with bad credit somewhere else.

My card is declined for a variety of reasons.Let’s say the item is $22.27 including tax.I might have $22 in my bank account.This means the cashier is mad at me for being 27 cents short, only 27!I know she’s angry because she says, ‘I’m sorry, your card is declined.’

Sorry my foot!She’s fuming.She’s looking at the line that is swelling behind me, swelling with rage that this woman cannot manage her finances.Me!I’m a pro at cutting and pasting, move a few dollars from this account and paste in another, to keep cell phone and cable people off my back.

Did I say I was a genius?Maybe not, because my card is declined at the grocery checkout when cut and paste fails, due to let’s say ‘insufficient …

Living Together Agreement


1.Keep your apartment I’ll keep mine.
2.Find a place big enough for both of us.
3.I’ll go back to my place when my parents are in town.
4.Go to yours when your kids are here for the summer.
5.We leave pets in our respective apartments.
6.Don’t blow up my phone with ‘where are u’?
7.I don’t like curfews.I won’t come home before you.
8.You’ll find your clothes on the floor where you left them.
9.I don’t do singing in the rain without umbrellas. ‘sure I trust you.’
10.I don’t do laundry and grocery shopping.
11.I don’t baby-sit the fridge or do dishes.
12.I don’t do bathroom maintenance, buying toilet paper, soap etc.
13.I don’t do dinner.
14.I don’t do money lending.Banks will get jealous.

Rain in Indian Cinema (Part 2)

The more I watch Hindi movies, I more I realise that the rain is not an afterthought.It is in the script, as a character that should be taken into consideration when getting lights and reflectors for scenes, deciding where grips are going to stand and where the director is going to call action.
Take the soccer scene in Aankhen for example.  I wonder where the director Vipul Amrutlal Shah placed the lights and cameras.  Vishwas (Akshay Kumar), Ilyas (Paresh Rawal) and Arjun (Arjun Rampal) are blind men who are being trained by Neha, (Sushmita Sen) to rob a bank. 
The person pulling the strings is Vijay Singh (Amitabh Bachchan) who is holding Neha’s brother as hostage for his evil scheme to destroy the bank that fired him.
It is raining heavily and the men are playing soccer, stomping in the mud.  Vijay is sitting under a white umbrella.  He is wearing a black jacket and a black baseball cap.  His face is well lit and I’m wondering how the Director of Photography did that. 
Was it the eff…

Rain in Indian Cinema (Part 1)

Film types go to the Cannes Film Festival for different agendas.Others attend because they have a chance of sitting in one room with foreign film directors, and hear about how, when and why made their films.

The disadvantage of not living in countries where films are shot is that we miss out on interviews with directors about production logistics.  Sure, you can get it on line but nothing beats being there.

That is where platforms such as the Berlin Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Montreal and many others come in handy, because that is where foreigners like me hear directors and producers speak.

I’m interested in what goes on in pre-production.Do Indian directors have weather men and women?I don’t mean those on television who say it will partly cloudy in Goa, and sunny in Agra but people in the crew who must find out when it will be raining so that the director can get the shot he wants.

I always wonder about how Indian directors shoot nature, the rain in particular.So…

Spelling Bees

Akeela and the Bee, starring Laurence Fishbourne and directed by Doug Atchison must be Miss Khumalo’s favourite film, if she is a student of cinema like me.

She was my English teacher and subjected me to a lot of torture during what she called spelling and dictation.Try spelling hippopotamus at the tender age of eleven. I could not tell Ma that she hit my hand with a stick because she would have taken her own stick without knowing the merits of the case.”She didn’t punish you enough.” One teacher wanted the class to write a sentence with the word fastidious.This is what one student wrote.“My father knows the meaning of the word fastidious!”

It is no laughing matter.Cell phones and text message have fractured the English language.I’m sure the French and the Spanish are also in tears. Akeela and the Bee, starring Laurence Fishbourne, Angela Bassett and Keke Palmer, is about words, small words, big words and how you use them in sentences.Spelling bee contests are very common in the United Sta…

Facebook Hostage

Mad at me?Don’t pass the buck.You said I should try Facebook.

I did. That is why I have not done a commentary in months.You see, I’m a Facebook hostage.I cannot keep my eyes off the ball because I’ll end up with a profile I cannot recognise myself.Who are all these people?What are they doing in Nonqaba’s room?Does she really live here?

That’s Facebook for you.I think it should be re-named Friend of a Friend (FOF).Just imagine if I am one of your 1,000 friends?That’s a lot of sharing of video, family photographs, music clips, New Year’s Eve invitations and what not.

I’m not complaining.FOF has its advantages.I found long-lost friends and inherited wonderful new ones.It has also pushed traffic to this website.What is disappointing though is that there is no original content.Nobody seems to use the ‘what’s on your mind’ box. Maybe it should go.It seems to me that Facebook is one big relay race of second hand information I can get on the web.That is what makes me a hostage.I must constantly t…

Black Classic Movies

Cannes Film Festival 2014 is having some classic movies thing going on.I have my own classic movies from remarkable men such as Oscar Micheaux, the African American director who made black and white movies at great odds, no, make that zero odds.

Fast forward to Chris Rock director and star of Head of State. His character is running for the highest office in the land, the President of the United States of America, with his brother (Bernie Mac), a bondsman as his running mate. He doesn’t have money and blows all his chances for donations because he questions businessmen who make alcohol for babies. I thought Head of State, which Rock co-wrote with Ali LeRoi was just that, a comedy about the impossibility of having a black man in the White House.Guess who is laughing now?Head of State is therefore a classic in my book. Barack Obama took the oath of office on January 20, 2009 as the forty fourth president of the United States, which makes him the first African American in the Oval Office. I c…

Plagiarism Re-Visited

Commentary on plagiarism is difficult, especially in the absence of minutes taken at a global conference where thieves of the written word confess their crime. All we have at this point is the definition of the act, courtesy of Wikipedia.

“Plagiarism is defined in dictionaries as the “wrongful appropriation,” “close imitation” or “purloining and publication” of another author’s “language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions,” and the representation of them as one’s own original work.” On second thought, the word thief is restrictive and even kind despite the fact that a thief and a plagiarist have something in common.Both work on the assumption that they won’t get caught.Both actions are of a permanent nature i.e. they have no intention of returning the stolen property because that would be borrowing.

However, the wrongful appropriation mentioned in the definition is where they part ways.A thief steals a cellphone to use or sell it.The intention is not to defraud manufacturers like Motorola…