Is There a Difference? (…No)

This Wednesday after school, I decided to try a different bus, as the one I usually took was unusually packed the day before. Little did I know that the new one was even more crowded, and a lot of squeezing and pushing was involved when all of us students tried to enter it all at once. It reminded me of a scene that I had seen the week before, in a documentary on India. The camera was following a dabbawala, which is a person that delivers lunches, as he tried to mount a door-less train. The shot followed him as he aggressively pushed himself into the train, while carrying about 60 kg worth of lunch bags. Watching countless Indians shove each other around in such a dusty, stiffed environment gave me an uncomfortable feeling. It left me the impression of an uncivilized society behaving in a similar manner.

But why did I not feel the same way towards my own bus experience? Yes, I hated the feeling of being nudged by a dozen forceful limbs, yet that I was as far as my disdain went. I did not think of the students that were pushing me as uncivilized, and I was not left with an uneasy afterthought. Continue reading

Classical Piece of the Week: Tzigane

Classical Piece of the Week

Missed the last one? Here’s a link to Élégie in E Flat Minor, Op. 3, No.1.

 

Tzigane by Maurice Ravel is daring, smart, and innovative. Written for violin and piano, it is a piece that demands a high level of virtuosity. “Tzigane” is the French word for “gypsy”, as this piece was inspired by Ravel’s interest in gypsies and the Hungarian culture.

It begins with the violin, unaccompanied. It is a demanding and unforgiving melody, healthily coated by sheer musicality. Every bow stroke produces an incredibly powerful, rounded sound, and its resonance is subtly hinted in the subsequent notes. As the violin starts playing double stop trills, the piano rolls in, gently like the waves, densely like the storm. Both instruments work together to reach a climatic point, marking the beginning of a lighter, more jovial gypsy theme.  Continue reading

Merciless But Beautiful, Our World.

“The world is a cruel place,” once said Mikasa Ackerman, badass fighter from the mange/anime Attack on Titan. While her character is completely fictious, her simple quote rings with absolute truth. Uttered in a ragged whisper, a resilient tone, she struck a chord in me that resonated among my thoughts.

The world is a cruel place. Although Mikasa’s world is partly populated by human- eating giants called titans, we both say it for the same reason: from the beginning of our lives, the essence of our being is determined by a force we cannot control. The world gives poverty and bombs and disease to some, and provides others with hot, steaming food and a hot, steaming shower. Yes, we all have some amount of power to try and change the situation we are in, but part of your faith is marked in stone before you even take your first breath.

Every evening, my family and I watch the CBS Evening News. We gather around our kitchen table, pieces of meat and vegetables flowing rhythmically into our mouths, as a brave reporter on the grounds of a warzone talks amidst the crowds of people caught in a frenzy of terror. Then, images and clips of injured civilians shower the screen; little kids are wailing through the gauzes and bandages that cover their body, accompanied by the merciful screams of the war-beaten adults. Continue reading

Rose Under Fire, a book review

Rose Under Fireby Elizabeth Wein
published in 2013 
a determined 4/5 stars
Goodreads Amazon Wein’s Website

Hope- you think of hope as a bright thing, a strong thing, sustaining. But it’s not. It’s the opposite. It’s simply this: lumps of stale bread stuck down your shirt. Stale gray bread eked out with ground fish bones, which you won’t eat because you’re going to give it away, and maybe you’ll get a message through to your friend.

 

I’m a sucker for fancy proses. You know, the ones that are really abstract and poetic? So I figured a book about a woman detained in a Nazi concentration camp was the perfect fit for that style of writing, but in the case of Rose Under Fire, I was wrong. The prose was so simple and straightforward that it completely took me off guard in the beginning, but ultimately it was the unfailing clarity of Rose’s voice that won me over.

It’s 1944. Rose Justice is an American ATA pilot, and devoted poet. She ferries Allie fighter pilots all around Europe, and despite the harsh hours, her job brings her a validating fulfillment. One day when ferrying a plane from Paris to England, she ends up in restricted territory and is captured by the Nazis. Sent to Ravensbrück, a woman’s concentration camp, Rose’s sheer resilience is tested over the limits. There she meets an array of women from numerous countries and different steps of life. Together they form a powerful bond that only strengthens through all the pain and torture they must endure. Ravensbrück brings out Rose’s most lethal weaknesses, but it also tests her vast capabilities for survival, and the results will shape her as a person. Continue reading

Classical Piece of the Week: Élégie in E Flat Minor, Op. 3, No.1

Classical Piece of the Week

Missed the last one? Here’s a link to Fugue from Sonata No.1 in G Minor.

 

Élégie in E Flat Minor, Op. 3, No. 1 by Sergei Rachmaninoff is the brewing of the storm, the storm itself, and the breath after the storm. It is a piece that controls its tension with masterful precision, and permits every single note to mark its place in the music. Continue reading

On Friends

When I was about three, my parents and I moved to Montreal. In the six years we stayed there, my brother was born, I switched schools once, and made many great friends, especially during my last year in that city, in Grade 3. I kept in contact with my two best friends, but as for the rest of my schoolmates, it was kind of a final goodbye. At that age, I still hadn’t discovered the magic of social media.

Flash forward to the beginning of this week. I’m on my laptop, staring, indecisive, at my screen. An eight letter word painted in white stands out from the smooth blue background. Underneath, a convincing piece of advice: “Sign Up. It’s free and always will be”. I contemplate, but really, I’ve already made my decision, whether I agree with it or not. And though I’m several years late, I quickly type in my name, email, password, and birthday. I check on the “Female” button, and click “Sign Up”. There, I’ve finally made myself a Facebook account. Continue reading

Video Games, Revisited.

A while ago, I had the pleasure to be an honourable member of my school’s band as a violinist during their end-of-year concert. (A.k.a. I attended a couple of their rehearsals and despite my lack of practice, I still went and risked the overall tone quality of the band for my personal enjoyement). Our complete repertoire consisted of video game music, and although there were some shaky parts, it was all in all an inspiring performance. Because not only was the music really, really good, this concert also compelled me to completely revisit the generalized idea I had made of video games.

I’ve played my fair share of video games during my “gaming” years. When I first received a DS the Christmas of when I was in Grade 3, I was introduced to a game named Horsez. Back then, I wasn’t such a grammar freak, so thankfully I wasn’t turned off by the shortage of proper spelling. It was basically a game where you took care of a horse, but there were some instructions I never really understood so I never got past the first level. Soon though, my two best friends introduced me to the wonderful world of Pokémon. I was blessed with Pokémon Diamond for my birthday in March, and the game, as well as the TV show, quickly became part of my daily routine. Now, Pokémon Diamond was definitely a one-up from Horsez, as it was a well-structured journey where the characters (so basically the Pokémons) developed as you played further on into the game. But, my video game days never went past Pokémon, and at the end of Grade 4 I bid farewell to my very abrupt one and a half years of gaming. Continue reading

Classical Piece of the Week: Fugue from Sonata No.1 in G Minor

Classical Piece of the Week

Bach’s solo violin work is like your favourite book. You just can’t put your mind on how one single object can produce something so powerful.He takes a humble violin, bearer of four simple strings, and allows it to create a sound so rich, so deep that it absolutely exceeds the clearest of reasoning.

Today’s feature piece is Fugue from Sonata No.1 in G Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach. It is a work for, as you can guess, solo violin, lasting around seven and a half minutes long. Is is seven and a half minutes of sheer transcendence. Continue reading

And the Journey Continues Here.

Hi! If you’re an old subscriber, or you were directed from my old blog, you already know that I’m continuing my blogging adventures here. For new comers, I’d first like to say welcome! The Humble Watermelon was started during the summer of 2012, on Blogger. I have now decided to switch to WordPress because the customization tool of my old blog hasn’t been working for a long time, which was extremely frustrating. Also, I think a fresh start wouldn’t hurt, since I haven’t been posting regularly in a long time, so hopefully turning the page will bring back some of my mojo, aha. If you want to visit my old blog, click here.

I’m already working on my next post, so I’ll see you guys soon! :)