Lesson from a Lecture

My Twentieth Century Evening
and Other Small Breakthroughs
Kazuo Ishiguro

I was reading Kazuo Ishiguro’s Nobel Lecture delivered in Stockholm on 7th December 2017.

And I came across this following passage which caught my attention…

“The reason why so many vivid, undeniably convincing characters in novels, films and plays so often failed to touch me was because these characters didn’t connect to any of the other characters in an interesting human relationship. And immediately, this next thought came regarding my own work: What if I stopped worrying about my characters and worried instead about my relationship?”

There’s a great observation and lesson for all of us writers, filmmakers, storytellers…
As I write my script, I often think about in terms of character biography or character development. But I never thought in terms of character relationship…

As Ishiguro explains…
“… I could look at, say, this mentor-pupil relationship. Does it say something insightful and fresh? Or now that I was staring at it, does it become obvious it’s a tired stereotype, identical to those found in hundreds of mediocre stories? Or this relationships between two competitive friends: Is it dynamic? Does it have emotional resonance? Does it evolve? Does it surprise convincingly? Is it three-dimensional?…
… The thought came to me… that all good stories, never mind how radical or traditional their mode of telling, had to contain relationships that are important to us; that move us, amuse us, surprise us…”

How true and profound!

This 36 pages nobel lecture/book is a gem. He talks about how these seemingly small but powerful insights and breakthroughs emerges and we get a glimpse of his brilliant mind.
From now on I’ll try to apply these lessons in my work.
Thank you, Kazuo Ishiguro.

A Quiet Place

A Quiet Place
Seicho Matsumoto

I just finished reading “A Quiet Place” by Seicho Matsumoto (1909 –1992).
He is one of the most famous literary figures in Japan. According to wikipedia “Matsumoto’s works created a new tradition of Japanese crime fiction by incorporating elements of human psychology and ordinary life”.

The book was first published in Japan in 1975. And translated by Louise Heal Kawai and published in UK in 2016.

Synopsis from the back cover:

“While on a business trip to Kobe, Tsuneo Asai receives the news that his wife Eiko has died of a heart attack. Eiko had a heart condition, so the news of her death wasn’t totally unexpected. But the circumstances of her demise leave Tsuneo, a softly spoken government bureaucrat, perplexed. How did it come about that his wife – who was shy and withdrawn, and only left her house twice a week to go to haiku meetings – ended up dead in a small shop in a quiet, residential Tokyo neighbourhood?
When Tsuneo goes to apologize to boutique owner for the trouble caused by his wife’s death he discovers the hotel Tachibana nearby, a shady establishment known as a rendezvous for secret lovers. As he digs deeper into his wife’s recent past, he must eventually conclude that she led a double life…”

When is the last time I enjoyed a crime fiction so much?
If I say that this book is a page turner and unputdownable… that will be only half the truth. It’s also something else.
It’s not very complicated mystery novel, yet it’s ingenious.
Halfway through the book and you suddenly realize that this is not only about the man Tsuneo Asai… it’s also about you. You are tricked by the author into this unique situation… and you are forced to examine your own motivation, your own psyche. Here, you come face to face with your subconscious that governs your life. It’s an investigation into your life. It’s a call for a look deep into your soul and confront whatever you find there.

I want to go through the book again… now slowly… very slowly… and savoure the taste page by page…

The Girl with Striped Top

Artiste (Marcella), 1910
by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

Recently I was reading on “Expressionism” in art as preparation for my class. And I came across this painting “Artiste (Marcella), 1910 by German painter Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
It’s difficult to pinpoint why I like this painting so much!
Is it the simplicity of form! Is it the dominance of colour green! Is it the white cat sleeping blisfully in the corner! Is it her relaxed posture! Is it her striped green top! Is it the composition… the fact that she is so close to us and yet we can’t see her face! Is it her face… which has an innocence and yet her face is mysterious! Is it the top angle of the frame!
It’s painted in 1910… 110 years back… and yet it feels so contemporary… It has a feel of capturing a spontaneous, fleeting moment… I find it extremely sensual too… and yet serene…
Thank you, Kirchner…

The Notebook: Issue 24

Welcome to the year 2020…

This is a list of books, movies, blog posts, interviews, video clips and other stuff I find interesting and worth sharing. I hope you’ll like some of the stuff I am sharing.

If you have any feedback, please drop me a line.

Here it goes…

A Book Worth Sharing:

Number9Dream” by David Mitchell

This is my second David Mitchell book. First one was “The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet”. Now I have become a fan. Planning to read all his books.

 A Movie Worth Sharing:

Happy Together” by Wong Kar-wai

Wong Kar-wai reached Argentina with crew of 30 people to shoot this film. And he didn’t have a script (he works without a script) or synopsis (he had one page synopsis which he discarded) or story. He improvised the whole thing while shooting.

The film won the best director award at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival.

One of my favorite Wong Kar-wai films…

(You can read my blog post “Wong Kar-wai on Literature” here…)

An Idea Worth Sharing:

Time is personal. Your year changes when your life changes” by Derek Sivers

“A new day begins when I wake up, not at midnight. Midnight means nothing to me. It’s not a turning point. Nothing changes at that moment.

A new year begins when there’s a memorable change in my life. Not January 1st. Nothing changes on January 1st.

I can understand using moments like midnight and January 1st as coordinators, so cultures and computers can agree on how to reference time. But shouldn’t our personal markers and celebrations happen at personally meaningful times?

Your year really begins when you move to a new home, start school, quit a job, have a big breakup, have a baby, quit a bad habit, start a new project, or whatever else. Those are the real memorable turning points — where one day is very different than the day before. Those are the meaningful markers of time. Those are your real new years.

This isn’t just selfish. You know your friends and family well enough to acknowledge these special days for them, too. The day that I most want to celebrate someone’s life has nothing to do with the calendar day that they were born.

The fourth Thursday in November is not when I feel most thankful. The 14th of February is not when I celebrate my romantic relationship. To force these celebrations on universal dates disconnects them from the meaning they’re supposed to celebrate. It’s thoughtless.

Celebrate personally meaningful markers. Ignore arbitrary calendar dates.”

(Source: Derek Sivers)

A Quote Worth Sharing:

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive. Because what the world needs most is more people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

Random Stuff: 

Karma – The Sculpture Stretches to Infinity” by Korean artist Do Ho Suh

(Source: Tim Ferriss)

Thanks for reading…



The Notebook: Issue 23

Welcome to the 2019 November issue of ‘The Notebook’.

This is a list of books, movies, blog posts, interviews, video clips and other stuff I found interesting and feel worth sharing. I hope you’ll like some of the stuff I am sharing.

If you have any feedback, please drop me a line…

Here it goes…


A Book Worth Sharing:

The Art of Creative Thinking” by Rod Judkins

Do you know Jørn Utzon’s iconic design for the Sydney Opera House was inspired by a cut-up orange he had for lunch? And Japan’s Shinkansen bullet train is modelled on the kingfisher’s aerodynamic beak?

This little book is a gem. And I am rereading it.


A Movie Worth Sharing:

Gerry” by Gus Van Sant

Have you ever watched a film where two people just walk, walk and walk? Well, here it is…

“A movie like this doesn’t come along every day. I am glad I saw it. I saw it at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival, where a fair number of people walked out. I would say half. I was reminded of advice once given me by the veteran Chicago movie exhibitor Oscar Brotman: “Roger, if nothing has happened by the end of the first reel, nothing is going to happen.” If I were to advise you to see “Gerry,” you might have a good case on your hands for a class-action suit.

And yet, and yet–the movie is so gloriously bloody-minded, so perverse in its obstinacy, that it rises to a kind of mad purity. The longer the movie ran, the less I liked it and the more I admired it.”

Read Roger Ebert’s complete review here


An Idea Worth Sharing:

Am I Fooling Myself?” by Peter Attia“This story serves to remind me that we are not wired to think scientifically. Full stop. It is the quintessential human flaw. But scientific thinking is a skill to be practised and improved upon.”


A Quote Worth Sharing:

You have to spend the time to sort through the junk to find the treasure. There is no shortcut…. I like to try to apply this spirit of crate-digging to everyday life. The only way to find the good stuff, the special stuff, the genuine moments and the true inspiration, is to first engage with the everyday, the mundane, the seemingly useless, the things nobody else seems to care about. So engage. There is no shortcut; there is no algorithm. If all you do is track what’s trending, then all you’ll ever know is exactly what everyone else already knew. To discover, you have to dig.

(Source: Digging and Scratching – Austin Kleon)


Random Stuff: 

Plastic Hazard From Teabags

A team of Canadian researchers has warned that tea drinkers are swallowing microplastics shed from the new teabags and cautioned that the health effects of these plastics on humans isn’t yet known. To look into the amount of plastic released from the new teabags, the team removed the tea leaves from four different commercially available teas and washed the plastic bags. They then heated the teabags in water to simulate brewing conditions. Using electron microscopy, the researchers found that a single plastic teabag heated this way released about 11.6 billion microplastic and 3.1 billion nanoplastic particles into the water, amounts they reported are thousands of times higher than those found earlier in other foods. They also tested the teabags in water containing water fleas and found that while the animals survived, they exhibited anatomical and behavioral abnormalities. The investigators called for more research to help determine if the plastics emitted from teabags could have deleterious effects on human health.

 Thanks for reading.

The Notebook: Issue 22


Welcome to the 2019 October issue of ‘The Notebook’.

This is a list of books, movies, blog posts, 

interviews, video clips and other stuff

I found interesting and feel worth sharing.

I hope you’ll like some of the stuff I am sharing.

If you have any feedback, please drop me a line…

Here it goes…

A Book Worth Sharing:

Newcomer” by Keigo Higashino

I love Keigo Higashino. And this one is an absolute delight. I would say this is his best book I have read and much better than his most popular book “The Devotion of Suspect X”.

A Movie Worth Sharing:

Nainsukh” by Amit Dutta

“Nainsukh” is made in 2010 and I watched it recently.

It’s mind-blowingly beautiful and an exquisite work of art.

A few review quotes as appeared in the trailer…

“… creates a hypnotic fusion of imagery and sound that conjures up a lost age” – Museum of Modern Art, New York

“Amit Dutta is one of those exceptional filmmakers for whom every shot is an event” – Jonathan Rosenbaum

“In Dutta’s films, we literally breathe the air of the shot” – Cinema Du Reel – Centre Pompidou, Paris

“Its beauty can often take the viewer’s breath away” – Huffington Post, US

Don’t miss the masterpiece.

An Idea Worth Sharing:

“Over 107 billion people have lived throughout history. (There are roughly 7.7 billion people alive right now.)

Over the centuries, these billions of people have tried things, failed, learned, and tried differently. Sometimes, they found new solutions. And when you are born, you get to inherit the insights they learned by trial and error.

The cumulative lessons of those 107 billion people have been passed down to you. It is the greatest gift you will ever receive. We are smart not because of our individual genius, but because of our collective knowledge.

As the historian Niall Ferguson noted, “The dead outnumber the living fourteen to one, and we ignore the accumulated experience of such a huge majority of mankind at our peril.” – Via James Clear

A Quote Worth Sharing:

“Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.” – Albert Einstein

Random Stuff: 

Venkatachalam Saravanan by Amit Dutta

An international chess master and a filmmaker play a match while discussing the art of the game and its history in India.

Thank you, Amit Dutta.


Thanks for reading.

Take care and have a nice month… 


Wong Kar Wai on Literature

I am reading “Wong Kar Wai Interviews” edited by Silver Wai Ming Lee and Micky Lee.

There is this interview by Lin Yao-teh. First published in United Literature no 120 of Taiwan in 1994.

There is this fascinating discussion on literature.

I found it worth writing down because I am interested in knowing what influences Wong Kar Wai and, as I love reading.

The following books and authors influenced him…

Albert Camus.  According to him Camus’ ‘The Stranger” resonates with him immensely. In fact in real life he feels like living through many scenes in the book (I have not read Camus).

Honore de Balzac influenced him a lot (I have not read anything by him).

His favorite America Novelist John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway (I have not read either Steinbeck or Hemingway. I have not read Hemingway!!! It’s shameful).

His favorite Japanese writer is Yasunari Kawabata. Especially “Snow Country” and “The House of Sleeping Beauties”(I want to read Kawabata).

He is a big fan of Osamu Dazai and Riichi Yokomitsu (I have not read them too).

Kawabata, Dazai and Yokomitsu from Japan.

And Marquez from South America.

But it was another South American author… who influenced Wong Kar Wai in a very profound way… especially in his film-making style (His narrative divided into a series of fragments and shunned chronology).

Manuel Puig.

Two books…  “Kiss of the Spider woman” and “Heartbreak Tango”

I read somewhere that WKW has taken elements from Puig’s book in “Happy Together”.

(Well, I have not read him too)

Among Chinese writers, his favorites are, Lu Xun, Zhou Zuoren and especially Mu Shiying. He wants to adapt Mu Shiying’s novel.

And Wuxia novelist, Louis Cha and Gu Long.

(I have not even heard these names)

And we all know that initial story idea and some dialogues in “In the Mood for Love” came from Liu Yichang’s novels “Intersection” and “ The Alcoholic”.

So, Wong Kar Wai is a voracious reader of world literature.

And now I feel like a complete illiterate.

The Notebook: Issue 21


Welcome to the 2019 August issue of ‘The Notebook’.

This is a list of books, movies, blog posts, 

interviews, video clips and other stuff

I found interesting and feel worth sharing.

I hope you’ll like some of the stuff I am sharing.

If you’d prefer not to hear from me any more,

you can unsubscribe completely using the link

at the bottom.

If you have any feedback, please drop me a line…

Here it goes…

A Book Worth Sharing:

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind” by Shunryu Suzuki

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few” 

I got to know of this book from a very unusual source – Michael Kahn.

A longtime editor of Steven Spielberg’s films talks about  this book in an interview. 

Michael Kahn reads this book, again and again, every time he starts editing a new film. 

A Movie Worth Sharing:

“Before” Trilogy by Richard Linklater

Well, this time I am sharing three films instead of one. Three of my most favourite romantic films of all time.

An Idea Worth Sharing:

“Get Drunk!” 

One should always be drunk. That’s all that matters;

That’s our one imperative need. So as not to feel Time’s

Horrible burden that breaks your shoulders and bows

You own, you must get drunk without ceasing.

But what with? With wine, with poetry, or with

Virtue, as you choose. But get drunk.

And if, at some time, on the steps of a palace, in the

Green grass of a ditch, in the bleak solitude of your

Room, you are waking up when the drunkenness has already

Abated, ask the wind, the wave, a star, the clock, all that

Which flees, all that which groans, all that which rolls,

All that which sings, all that which speaks, ask them

What time it is; and the wind the wave, the star, the

Bird, the clock will reply: ‘It is time to get drunk! So that

You may not be the martyred slaves of Time, get drunk;

Get drunk and never pause for rest! With wine, with

Poetry, or with virtue, as you choose!

A Quote Worth Sharing:

“I used to think that the brain was the most wonderful organ in my body. Then I realized who was telling me this.” – Emo Philips

Random Stuff: 

The Effects of Caffeine

In the 1980s, NASA scientists exposed spiders to different drugs and observe the webs they constructed. 

The drugs included LSD, speed, marijuana, and caffeine. 

Researchers noted how strikingly incapable the spiders were in constructing anything resembling a normal or logical web that would be of functional use when given caffeine, even relative to the other potent drugs tested. 

Source: Why We Sleep


Thanks for reading.

Take care and have a nice month… 

The Notebook: Issue 20


Welcome to the 2019 July issue of ‘The Notebook’.

This is a list of books, movies, blog posts, 

interviews, video clips and other stuff

I found interesting and feel worth sharing.

I hope you’ll like some of the stuff I am sharing.

If you have any feedback, please drop me a line…

Here it goes…

A Book Worth Sharing:

Absolutely on Music” by Haruki Murakami

This book comprised of six conversations between the acclaimed conductor Seiji Ozawa and the novelist Haruki Murakami 

I don’t listen to western classical music. Yet I was completely captivated by the book. 

As one “The Guardian” review wrote…

“Absolutely on Music is an unprecedented treasure, valuable if for no other reason than that these conversations mark the first time that Ozawa has reflected at length on his 50-plus years of conducting. “Come to think of it,” he says, “I’ve never really talked about music like this before, in such a focused, organised way.” Talking about music is like dancing about architecture, it’s often said, but what joy to watch these two friends dance.” 

Read the complete review here

A Movie Worth Sharing:

Burning” by Lee Chang-dong

I love Haruki Murakami. And I love Lee Chang-dong.

When these two geniuses come together, magic happens.

Read Lee Chang-dong’s interview here

An Idea Worth Sharing:

My favorite fable: Derek Sivers:

A farmer had only one horse. One day, his horse ran away.

His neighbors said, “I’m so sorry. This is such bad news. You must be so upset.”

The man just said, “We’ll see.”

A few days later, his horse came back with twenty wild horses following. The man and his son corralled all twenty-one horses.

His neighbors said, “Congratulations! This is such good news. You must be so happy!”

The man just said, “We’ll see.”

One of the wild horses kicked the man’s only son, breaking both his legs.

His neighbors said, “I’m so sorry. This is such bad news. You must be so upset.”

The man just said, “We’ll see.”

The country went to war, and every able-bodied young man was drafted to fight. The war was terrible and killed every young man, but the farmer’s son was spared, since his broken legs prevented him from being drafted.

His neighbors said, “Congratulations! This is such good news. You must be so happy!”

The man just said, “We’ll see.”

A Quote Worth Sharing:

“I’m quite convinced that cooking is the only alternative to film making. Maybe there’s also another alternative — that’s walking on foot.” – Werner Herzog ( via Ridgeline )

Random Stuff: 

Photographer Jun Yamamoto Captures The Magic Of Japan Streets At Night ( Via Tim Ferriss Newsletter )

Thanks for reading.

Take care and have a nice month… 


Welcome to the 2019 May issue of ‘The Notebook’.
This is a list of books, movies, blog posts, interviews, video clips and other stuffI found interesting and feel worth sharing.I hope you’ll like some of the stuff I am sharing.

If you have any feedback, please drop me a line…Here it goes…

A Book Worth Sharing:

21 Lessons for the 21st Century  by  Yuval Noah Harari

“An obscure Israeli academic writes a Hebrew-language history of humanity. Translated into English in 2014, the book sells more than a million copies. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg includes it in his book club in 2015. Ridley Scott wants to turn it into a TV series. Barack Obama says it gave him perspective on “the core things that have allowed us to build this extraordinary civilization that we take for granted”. It’s sales spike when it is mentioned on Love Island. That book was Sapiens, which is bold, breezy and engaging, romping its way from the discovery of fire to the creation of cyborgs in less than 500 pages. The future-gazing follow-up, Homo Deus, was also a global bestseller, and now Harari has turned his attention to the present with 21 Lessons for the 21st Century.” – Helen Lewis I am a fan of Harari. And I’ll definitely reread the book a second and third time… Read Bill Gates’ review of the book here

A Movie Worth Sharing:

One of the most beautiful films I have seen in my life…

Paterson by Jim Jarmusch

“Great poets are masters of words, but their most finely tuned skill is often simple attentiveness: to the matches on the kitchen counter, the water slipping over the boulders in the falls, the beer softly frothing in the half-drunk mug.”Read the complete review here

An Idea Worth Sharing:

Phones smash, notebooks bend

“People sometimes ask me why I don’t use a phone to take notes when I’m ‘out’ in the field. The answer is that phones smash, while notebooks bend. I also like the way that notebooks record where they’ve been not just in terms of what’s written in them, but also in terms of the wear they bear as objects.” – Robert Macfarlane
A Quote Worth Sharing:
“If we can forgive what’s been done to us… If we can forgive what we’ve done to others… If we can leave our stories behind. Our being victims and villains. Only then can we maybe rescue the world.”—Chuck Palahniuk ( Via Tim Ferris 5-Bullet Friday )

Random Stuff:

Ominous Views Of Japan’s New Concrete Seawalls


Thanks for reading.

Take care and have a nice month…