Archive for July, 2009

Passenger

Posted: July 29, 2009 in movie
Tags: , ,

It was most unexpected for both me and Vij. When we reached Manoranjan theatre at 9 pm to watch Passenger, there were no people. When Vij asked at what time does the show starts, the person at the ticket counter coolly said: “We will start the film when people come!” We had gone all the way from MG Road to Mekhri Circle to watch that Malayalam movie.

We went for a small stroll along the road and went back after 10 minutes. We had lost hopes of watching the film and then came a Santro car with a couple and a small kid. The answer they got at the counter might have amused even those couples and the kid. The kid kept on eagerly looking at the gate to see if anyone else came to watch the film. Then came another car with four people. The kid was happy to see four more people and asked his mother: “Give me a five. People are coming!”

We stood wondering at the situation. If we had got seat, we would have just watched Hangover, but bad luck, it was housefull.

At last, the person gave the ticket. It was a small theatre which could hardly accomodate around 100-150 people. The person asked all of us to sit in the last row (supposedly balcony according to him). The rest of the seats were plastic chairs.

Three more people joined a bit later and totally, there were only 12 people in the theatre.

Sathyanath ( Sreenivasan), who works in a private company, has some strange habits. He travels from his native town to Kochi, where he works, by train. The moment the train crosses a bridge he dozes off. And he wakes up at a particular point. One day, after an over time duty, he wakes up and gets acquainted with Nandan Menon (Dileep).

Nandan Menon, who is an advocate, always stands for truth and justice. He respects the law and always thinks of the welfare of the people around him. Nandan Menon’s wife, Anuradha (Mamta Mohandas), is a television journalist. Nandan meets while heading towards a hotel room where he will be alone for the night, as his wife s away on an assignment, covering up a news story of a politician (Jagathy Sreekumar) that has been rocking the state. Anuradha comes to know the other face of the politician and escapes from the hotel with her laptop, which has the evidence. The politician kills the guy who helped Anuradha to get the evidence and put the blame on her and her husband.

Police are hand-in-gloves with the politician and look out for Anuradha. Menon is assaukted and kidnapped in front of Sathyanath in Guruvayur. Sathyanath rushes to help the lawyer whom he met in the train a few hours ago.

At last, he succeeds in getting the video taken by Anuraha published in television channel and help Nandan from the clutches of rowdies.

The movie is different from the usual “thrillers” in which an inevitably invincible hero fights against all odds and conquers evil. The story gives a refreshingly different perspective, that of a common man used to an uneventful life, who does not hesitate to jump into the strangest adventure in his life, out of compassion for another human being.

Advertisements

Many times I and my hubby have watched ‘The Moment of Truth’, an American reality show on TV. The truth sometimes startled us and sometimes we wondered what if it enters Indian television. And so did it happen. Star Plus channel began to air ‘Sach Ka Saamna’ (Face the Truth).

The questions asked by the anchor in the programme were startling. They ranged from simple to complex, simple because they are about our won life, complex because they are about infidelity, incest and other taboo subjects. We feel that those questions are not suitable for unrestricted public exhibition, especially keeping in view Indian culture and ethos. The answers can ruin relationships, ruin the lives of participants in future.

A polygraphic test indicates whether the answers are true or false. A false answer means an exit from the show.
Though as audience, we feel it is the world’s simplest show, one has to realise that it is still the most difficult game show as one has to speak nothing but the truth to survive through each level. Each passing level questions get tougher, more personal and increasingly edgy, putting the contestants and the family and friends in trouble.
On the very first day, host Rajeev Khandelwal grilled Smita Matai and extracted all truth from her. At the end, when she was asked if she wanted to have affair with another man without her husband’s knowledge, she said NO. But the Polygraph machine termed his answer FALSE, much to the shock and surprise of Smita and his family members including her husband. Her husband looked dejected, while Smita kept claiming that it was not true.

It’s sure that participants can win a sum of Rs 10 million, but at what cost? Revealing personal information in public! How can money won in such shows bring about a positive change and help the contestants shed their baggage and lead a better life?

Many suspicious men and women among audience would be thinking sending their partners to the show to know the truth. But will they be able to tolerate the truth coming out in front of all? Will the relationship survive? Will a man or a woman accept that their partners had cheated or will cheat them in future? How many men will accept their wives if they come to know that they have had an affair (physical) with another man? I and my hubby had a long debate over the issue and he keeps telling me that past doesn’t matter if the woman is faithful in the present as well as in the future. Bury the past and look into the future. But far is it possible? I remember Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles here. Tess tries to confess about her past to Angel Claire before the wedding, but in vain. But after the wedding the first thing she wants to do is reveal everything about her past. But before she could confess, Angel confesses to her that he once had a brief affair with an older woman in London. When she hears the story, Tess feels that Angel will forgive her own indiscretion, and finally tells him about her relationship with Alec and about her baby Sorrow, who died within few days. Angel, however, is appalled by Tess’s confession and spends the wedding night sleeping on a sofa. Tess, although devastated, accepts the sudden estrangement as something she deserves. After a few awkward, awful days, she suggests that they separate, telling her husband that she will return to her parents. Angel gives her some money and promises to try to reconcile himself to her past, but warns her not to try to join him until he sends for her. After a quick visit to his parents, Angel takes ship for Brazil to start a new life. Before he leaves, he encounters Izz Huett on the road and impulsively asks her to come to Brazil with him, as his mistress. She accepts, but when he asks her how much she loves him, she admits: “Nobody could love ’ee more than Tess did! She would have laid down her life for ’ee. I could do no more!” Hearing this, he abandons the whim.
Not just in novels, many such incidents do happen in our life also. When men confess about their extra marital affairs or their past affairs women, accept them open-heartedly, but there are very few instances where men have accepted women unconditionally. A man wants his wife to be solely his. He will not be ready to share his love. He wants to be the first and the last man in the life of his wife.

Under such circumstances, how can a man tolerate if his wife tells the truth that she had an affair or wants to have an affair, or is living with her husband only because of the children and not because of love?!

How many people can move on with their life and still maintain a cordial terms with ex-girlfriends/boyfriends? The sweet/bitter moments haunt us and we rarely get people who are on a good friendship like that. Today, I saw a report wherein, I learnt that ‘American Idol’ judge Simon Cowell had not only 17 girlfriends earlier, but also is on good terms with all of them.

What surprised me even more was that he will confront all his 17 ex-girlfriends at a special bash organised ahead of his birthday.

Cowell will be turning 50 in October, but the bash is being organised this weekend. Hosted by his ex and close pal, model Jackie St Claire, the star has been told to “expect the unexpected” at the white-themed party in West London.

Some of the guests include Terri Seymour, singer Dannii Minogue, Cheryl Cole, ‘American Idol’ judges Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson.

“For most men this would be an utter nightmare, but luckily Simon has the gift of the gab. If anyone can pull it off, he can. And, if truth be told, he’s actually on exceptionally good terms with nearly all of them so there shouldn’t be any waterworks or embarrassing tantrums — either from the girls, or Simon,” said a source.

Australia (2008)

Posted: July 19, 2009 in movie

I wanted to see Australia not because it was a great movie, but because Hugh Jackman was in it. I saw and liked him when I saw X-men years ago. I became a fan of that guy and today, I saw the movie sitting for over 3 hours just to watch Jackman.

Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman) travels from England to northern Australia to force her husband to sell his faltering cattle station, Faraway Downs. Her husband sends an independent cattle drover (Hugh Jackman), called Drover, to Darwin to fetch her. Lady Sarah’s husband, who was trying to sell 1,500 cattle to the military, is murdered before she arrives. Meanwhile, manager Neil Fletcher (David Wenham) is trying to gain control of Faraway Downs so that Lesley ‘King’ Carney (Bryan Brown) can have a monopoly in the Northern Territory, which will give him leverage with the Australian army. Fletcher claims that the murderer of her husband is an aboriginal elder with magical powers, ‘King George’ (David Gulpilil).

Childless Lady Sarah is captivated by young boy Nullah (Brandon Walters), who was born to an aboriginal mother. Nullah tells her that he has seen her cattle being driven onto Carney’s land. Nullah proves to Lady Sarah that Fletcher is a liar by showing her that the windmill, which Fletcher had deemed broken, is fully functional. Fletcher loses control and attacks Nullah, his mother and another aboriginal woman, forcing Lady Sarah to fire him.

Sergeant Callaghan arrives to try to take Nullah away, so Nullah and his mother hide from him in a water tank. One of the officers accompanying the sergeant tries out the water windmill, and Nullah’s mother drowns while saving him. Afterwards, Lady Sarah comforts Nullah by singing “Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz. Nullah tells her that King George is his grandfather and like King George he too is a ‘magic man’.

Lady Sarah persuades Drover to take the cattle to Darwin for sale so that Faraway Downs can be saved. Drover, a white man, is friendly with the aborigines. He had married an aborigin, but she died after being refused medical treatment in a hospital because of her race.

Drover leads a team of six riders, including Lady Sarah, Drover’s aboriginal brother-in-law Magarri (David Ngoombujarra), Nullah, and accountant Kipling Flynn (Jack Thompson), to drive the 1,500 cattle to Darwin.
Carney’s men set fire to make the cattle stampede, and Flynn is killed. At the last minute, Nullah stops the cattle from stampeding over a cliff by using the magic learned from his grandfather.

Lady Sarah and Drover start loving each other. Carney’s men poison all the water sources along the cattle-drive route and still the group risks driving the cattle through the dangerous Never Never desert with the help of King George.

Nicole and Hugh

Nicole and Hugh

Delivering the cattle in Darwin, the group races them onto the ship before Carney’s cattle are loaded. That night, Lady Sarah and Drover attend a ball for the Children’s Island Mission, where she unsuccessfully attempts to make the upper class whites realize that half-aboriginal children belong to their mothers and not to the government.
Two years later, Lady Sarah, Nullah and Drover live together at Faraway Downs. Fletcher kills Carney, frames it as an tragic accident and marries his daughter Catherine Carney.

It is determined that Fletcher killed Lady Sarah’s husband and Fletcher is the father of Nullah. Nullah is drawn to perform a ceremonial coming-of-age walkabout with his grandfather, but is instead captured by the authorities and sent to live on Mission Island with the rest of the half-aboriginal children. His grandfather is thrown into jail, accused of murdering Lord Ashley.

Lady Sarah vows to find Nullah again, and begins working as a radio operator in Darwin during the escalation of World War II. Lady Sarah prepares to sell Faraway Downs to Fletcher, believing that it will aid her in gaining Nullah back. The sale is interrupted by the Japanese bombing of Darwin and Mission Island. Lady Sarah fears that Nullah has been killed.

Drover, who had quarrelled with Lady Sarah and gone droving never to return, hears that she has been killed in the bombing. In fact, the dead woman thought to be Sarah is Catherine Fletcher, who volunteered to take Sarah’s shift at army radio headquarters so that Sarah could go to Nullah.

Drover finds out about Nullah’s abduction and sets out with Magarri, Ivan, the hotelier, and the only member of the Children’s Island Mission to volunteer himself to help, Brother Frank, to rescue the children from the island.
When Japanese soldiers arrive, Magarri sacrifices himself to save others.

Lady Sarah and the inhabitants of Darwin prepare to evacuate on the last convoy out of the city. When Drover and the children sail back into Darwin, Nullah plays his harmonica with the tune of “Over the Rainbow”. Lady Sarah hears the music and reunites with the three.

Fletcher knows that Nullah is the one link that can relate him to a past that would ultimately ruin him. He also doubts that the boy must have cursed him. So he attempts to shoot Nullah. King George sees Fletcher from the top of a tanker just as Fletcher is about to fire and spears Fletcher through the chest just as he pulls the trigger. As Fletcher is dying, King George reprimands him for trying to kill his own son, and his magical grandson.

Lady Sarah watches as Nullah falls to the ground and Drover rushes to him. As Drover holds him in his arms, Nullah opens his eyes and smiles, revealing that the bullet was a blank.

Lady Sarah, Drover, and Nullah return to the safety of remote Faraway Downs. On the way back to Faraway Downs, King George calls for Nullah to go walkabout. Lady Sarah embraces Nullah and lets him go to his grandfather, who tells her that they will return to his land, and then looking at Lady Sarah, says “Our Land”.

Thomas Hardy has been one of my favourite writers and I loved almost all his novels since my degree. One among them was Far from the Madding Crowd.

Today, I saw the movie based on his novel.

Bathsheba Everdene (Paloma Baeza) is a beautiful young woman without a fortune. She meets Gabriel Oak (Nathaniel Parker), a young farmer, and saves his life one evening. He asks her to marry him, but she refuses because she does not love him. Upon inheriting her uncle’s prosperous farm she moves away to the town of Weatherbury.

A disaster befalls Gabriel’s farm and he loses his sheep; he is forced to give up farming. He goes looking for work, and in his travels finds himself in Weatherbury. After rescuing a local farm from fire he asks the mistress if she needs a shepherd. It is Bathsheba, and she hires him. As Bathsheba learns to manage her farm she becomes acquainted with her neighbour Mr Boldwood (Nigel Terry). On a whim, she sends him a valentine with the words “Marry me.” Boldwood becomes obsessed with her and becomes her second suitor. Rich and handsome, he has been sought after by many women. Bathsheba refuses him because she does not love him, but she then agrees to reconsider her decision.

That very night, Bathsheba meets a handsome soldier Sergeant Troy (Jonathan Firth). Unknown to Bathsheba, he has recently impregnated a local girl Fanny Robin (Natasha Little) and almost married her. Troy falls in love with Bathsheba, enraging Mr Boldwood. Bathsheba travels to Bath to warn Troy of Mr Boldwood’s anger and while she is there, Troy convinces her to marry him. Gabriel has remained her friend throughout and does not approve of the marriage. A few weeks after his marriage to Bathsheba, Troy sees Fanny, poor and sick; she later dies giving birth to her child. Bathsheba discovers that Troy is the father. Grief-stricken at Fanny’s death and riddled with shame, Troy runs away and is thought to have drowned.

With Troy supposedly dead, Mr Boldwood becomes more and more emphatic about Bathsheba marrying him. Troy sees Bathsheba at a fair and decides to return to her. Boldwood holds a Christmas to which he invites Bathsheba and again proposes marriage. Just after she has agreed, Troy arrives to claim her. Bathsheba screams, and Mr Boldwood shoots Troy dead. He is sentenced to life in prison. A few months later, Bathsheba marries Gabriel, now a prosperous bailiff.

Thomas Hardy’s immortal tale of love — Tess of the D’Urbervilles — abandoned and virtue lost has been captivating readers for over a century.

And I was more than happy to watch the unforgettable intensity and tenderness of the treasured classic in a lavish adaptation. It was in my degree I first read the novel and later in my post graduation.

Her luminous beauty blazing against the bleak background of rural Victorian England, Tess remains one of literature’s best-loved and most memorable heroines.
Violated by one man and forsaken by another, she refuses to remain a victim. But her struggle to endure despite the abandonment of her true love and her desperate attempt to attain happiness propel Tess toward a tragic end.

Tess (Justine Waddell) is a girl of the working class and learns that her father is the descendant of the noble family, the d’Urbervilles. Her family sends Tess to a rich relative in nearby Tantridge to get money or marry well so that her parents will be taken care of. Her meeting with Alec d’Urberville (Jason Flemyng), one of the relatives, seals her dreadful fate. He is attracted to Tess and seduces her and she returns home ruined. Alec promises to take care of her if she ever needs anything, but she dislikes him so much that she’d rather suffer than have any contact with him.

Soon Tess bears a child she names, Sorrow, and the child dies only days after it is born. Tess leaves home to try at independence again knowing now to be wary of men. She goes to Talbothay’s dairy and falls in love with Angel Clare (Oliver Milburn), the son of a pastor who is learning about farming at the dairy. Although she thinks herself unworthy of such a sweet man because of what happened to her, Tess and Angel fall in love and decide to get married. She refused his proposals for quite a while trying to find a way to tell him about her past with Alec d’Urberville, but she couldn’t do it. Shortly before they are supposed to be married, she writes him a letter and slips it under the door of his room. He never gets the letter because it is stuck under the edge of the carpet. Tess realizes this mistake on the morning of their marriage, and she is not given an opportunity to tell him before they are married.

That night he confesses that he’s had one sexual encounter and she forgives him, knowing that he’ll forgive her what happened with Alec. But when she tells Angel about it, the way he feels about her changes completely. He feels betrayed and tricked, so they agree to separate.

He goes to Brazil to try his hand at farming there, and Tess works at hard job after hard job rather than asking his family for money as he’d instructed her when he left. While she’s working herself to the bone, she encounters Alec d’Urberville again and he begins visiting her, relentlessly trying to convince her to marry him. She finally gives in when her family is evicted from their home after her father’s death and they have nowhere to go. Alec provides them a home, and Tess agrees to be his wife.

Angel returns from Brazil and comes to find her, knowing that he has treated her unfairly. When he finds her, she is distraught that the only man she ever loved has come back, and once again, Alec d’Urberville is standing in her way. She stabs Alec with a knife, and she and Angel spend a week together hiding out and being as they were before they were married. Then Tess is captured and executed. (Later Angel marries her younger sister, Liza Lu, which the movie didn’t show.)

I had read this romantic novel by Charlotte Bronte in my degree and today got an opportunity to watch it. Though it was made in 1970, the film was close to to the book.

The movie Jane Eyre begins with Jane entering Lowood School. The novel begins with 01-year-old orphan Jane Eyre who lives unhappily with her wealthy relatives, the Reed family, at Gateshead. Resentful of the late Mr Reed’s preference for her, Jane’s aunt and cousins take every opportunity to neglect and abuse her as a reminder of her inferior station. Jane’s only salvation from her daily humiliations is Bessie, the kindly servant who tells her stories and sings her songs. One day, Jane confronts her bullying cousin, John, and Mrs Reed punishes her by imprisoning her in the “red-room,” the room in which her uncle died. Convinced that she sees her uncle’s ghost, Jane faints. When she awakes, Jane is being cared for the apothecary, Mr Lloyd, who suggests that she be sent off to school. Mrs Reed is happy to be rid of her troublesome charge and immediately sends Jane to the Lowood School, an institution 50 miles from Gateshead.

Jane soon discovers that life at the Lowood School is bleak, particularly because of the influence of the hypocritical headmaster, Mr Brocklehurst (Jack Hawkins), whose cruelty and evangelical self-righteousness results in poor conditions, inedible meals, and frequent punishments for the students. But superintendent Miss Temple believes in Jane’s innocence and encourages her to devote herself to her studies.

While at Lowood, Jane befriends Helen Burns, who upholds a doctrine of Christian forgiveness and tolerance. During the spring, an outbreak of typhus fever ravages the school, and Helen dies of consumption in Jane’s arms. After Mr Brocklehurst’s removal, Jane’s time at Lowood is spent more happily and she excels as a student for six years and as a teacher for two.

Jane (Susannah York) accepts a position as governess at Thornfield Manor and is responsible for teaching a vivacious French girl named Adèle. In addition to Adèle, Jane spends much of her time at Thornfield with Mrs Fairfax (Rachel Kempson), the elderly housekeeper who runs the estate during the master’s absence. Jane also begins to notice some mysterious happenings around Thornfield, including the master’s constant absence from home and the demonic laugh that Jane hears emanating from the third-story attic.

After much waiting, Jane finally meets her employer Edward Rochester (George C. Scott), a brooding, detached man who seems to have a dark past. One night, Jane saves Mr Rochester from a fire in his bedroom, which he blames on Grace Poole, a seamstress with a propensity for gin.

As the months go by, Jane finds herself falling more and more in love with Mr Rochester, even after he tells her of his lustful liaison with Adèle’s mother. However, Jane becomes convinced that Mr Rochester would never return her affection when he brings the beautiful Blanche Ingram to visit at Thornfield. Though Rochester flirts with the idea of marrying Miss Ingram, he is aware of her financial ambitions for marriage. During Miss Ingram’s visit, an old acquaintance of Rochester’s, Richard Mason, also visits Thornfield and is severely injured from an attack — apparently by Grace — in the middle of the night in the attic. Jane, baffled by the circumstances, tends to him, and Rochester confesses to her that he made an error in the past that he hopes to overturn by marrying Miss Ingram. He says that he has another governess position for Jane lined up elsewhere.

(This part was not in the movie: Jane returns to Gateshead for a few weeks to see the dying Mrs Reed. Mrs. Reed still resents Jane and refuses to apologize for mistreating her as a child; she also admits that she lied to Jane’s uncle, John Eyre, and told him that she had died during the typhus outbreak at Lowood.)

Mr Rochester tells Jane that he knows Miss Ingram’s true motivations for marriage, and he asks Jane to marry him. Jane accepts, but a month later, Mason interrupt the wedding ceremony by revealing that Rochester already has a wife: Mason’s sister, Bertha, who is kept in the attic in Thornfield under the care of Grace Poole. Rochester confesses his past misdeeds to Jane. In his youth he needed to marry the wealthy Bertha for money, but was unaware of her family’s history of madness. Despite his best efforts to help her, Bertha eventually descended into a state of complete madness that only her imprisonment could control. Jane still loves Mr Rochester, but she cannot allow herself to become his mistress: she leaves Thornfield.

Penniless and devastated by Mr Rochester’s revelations, Jane is reduced to begging for food and sleeping outdoors. Fortunately, the Rivers siblings, St. John, Diana, and Mary, take her into their home at Moor House and help her to regain her strength. Jane becomes close friends with the family, and quickly develops a great affection for the ladies. Although the stoically religious St. John is difficult to approach, he finds Jane a position working as a teacher at a school in Morton.

(This part is also not in the movie: One day, Jane learns that she has inherited a vast fortune of 20,000 pounds from her uncle, John Eyre. Even more surprising, Jane discovers that the Rivers siblings are actually her cousins. Jane immediately decides to share her newfound wealth with her relatives.)

St. John is going to go on missionary work in India and repeatedly asks Jane to accompany him as his wife. She refuses, since it would mean compromising her capacity for passion in a loveless marriage. Instead, she is drawn to thoughts of Mr Rochester and, one day, after experiencing a mystical connection with him, seeks him out at Thornfield. She discovers that the estate has been burnt down by Bertha, who died in the fire, and that Mr Rochester, who lost his eyesight and one of his hands in the fire, lives at the nearby estate of Ferndean. He is overjoyed when she locates him, and relates his side of the mystical connection that Jane had.

(This is also not in the movie: He and Jane soon marry. At the end of the novel, Jane informs the readers that she and Mr Rochester have been married for 10 years, and Mr Rochester regained sight in one of his eyes in time to see the birth of his first son.)

Return of the Revolutionaries by Walter Semkiw

My story begins in 1984, when I was in my medical residency and living in Chicago. A friend suggested that I have a session with a medium who was working out of a local metaphysical bookstore. Being a skeptic by nature, I never had even considered going to a psychic before. It had been a dreary winter, though, with little to do but study, and I reasoned that a session with a medium might break the monotony.

During the session, the medium went into a meditative state or trance and in doing so, allowed spiritual guides to talk through him. These guides told me about family issues with surprising accuracy. The guides then told me about two past lives, one of which was during the American Revolution. They gave me the name of who I was supposed to have been and told me that if I researched this person, I would see myself. In 1984, I dismissed the session. It would not be until 1996 that I would revisit the past-life information provided to me. At that time I did research on the person who was identified as my prior incarnation. That person was the second President of the United States, John Adams, and I was quite shocked to realize that I did see myself in him. I was even more surprised to recognize his entire family and closest friends reincarnated among members of my own family and friends.

In seeking information on reincarnation, I encountered a number of other people with similar stories, though there were variations in how people learned about specific past lives. Though the means by which past-life identities were derived varied, the independently researched cases showed common features with cases that I had studied and delineated. As a result of these independent cases, I have divided my book into two sections. In the first, cases that were discovered and documented by other people are reviewed. The second section involves a series of past-life cases that I have researched stemming from the American Revolution. What is exciting is that these cases from both sections reinforce each other. Cases derived by various means and studied by a variety of different people lead to the same conclusions regarding the manner in which reincarnation occurs. These principles of reincarnation are summarized as follows:

1. Physical Appearance
Facial architecture, the shape and proportions of the face, appears to be consistent from lifetime to lifetime. Physical habits, such as postures, hand gestures and the type of jewelry worn, can also be consistent from lifetime to lifetime. Even poses struck in portraits and photographs are often uncannily similar from one lifetime to another.
Of note, my reincarnation research shows that in approximately 10 to 20 percent of cases, a soul changes gender. Even in these cases, facial architecture still remains consistent. Overall, most people (80 to 90%) maintain the same gender from one lifetime to another, and it seems that our essence has an innate masculine or feminine quality. Those who are innately masculine tend to reincarnate as males. Those who are innately feminine prefer to return in a female body.

2. Personality
Personality traits appear to persist from lifetime to lifetime. Some of our personality traits are positive and we carry them with us to our benefit. Other personality traits can be detrimental and can cause suffering from one lifetime to another.
Though personality traits remain consistent, I have observed that physical and mental illnesses do not persist from one lifetime to another. Individuals who are chemically dependent or have a psychiatric illness in a previous lifetime do not appear to carry these disorders over to subsequent ones.
Spiritually and intellectually, we seem to pick up where we have left off. Our hard earned achievements in spiritual and intellectual pursuits are retained – they are a part of us.
Religious affiliation and ethnic background change from lifetime to lifetime. A soul can be Christian in one lifetime and Jewish or Islamic in the next. This casts new insight regarding conflicts based on religious or ethnic differences.

3. Writing Style
Just as personality traits remain consistent from lifetime to lifetime, a person’s manner of expression seems to be similar from one lifetime to another. Some variation in writing style, of course, will be observed due to differing customs of various eras. Still, consistencies in modes of expression and in content are observed. Just as portraits allow us to see how one’s appearance is the same from lifetime to lifetime, historical documents, diaries and other available documentation allow us to study writing style across incarnations.

4. Karmic Soul Groups
People appear to come into life in groups, based on shared karma and emotional attachments. Couples often come back together and entire family units can recur. When an individual reincarnates, other members of that person’s karmic group will be present. Identifying members of the person’s karmic group is another important criterion in establishing a past-life match.
In analyzing past-life cases, I have observed that we all have a predetermined destiny or life itinerary which brings us to the people we are supposed to spend time with. We meet up with different karmic groups at different points in life. New venues bring us to karmic groups we need to be with. My belief is that though we all have a predetermined itinerary that we are committed to honor, we have free will in what we do along the way. Indeed, growth and human evolution could not occur without free will. Some people may have a more structured itinerary that limits diversionary treks, while others may have a less structured game plan. Either way, we have free will along our destined paths.

5. Past-Life Symbols, Synchronistic Events, and Anniversary Phenomena
A common feature in past-life research is that symbols from a prior lifetime are found in the person’s contemporary incarnation. For eleven years I worked for Unocal 76, also known as Union 76, an oil company whose slogan is ‘The Spirit of 1776.’ The company name and slogan reflect my participation in the American Revolution as John Adams. In William Barnes’ book, Thomas Andrews, A Voyage into History, Mr Barnes relates how he came to uncover his past-life as Thomas Andrews, the designer of the Titanic, who died on the ship. Appropriately, William Barnes was born on the anniversary date of the Titanics’ sinking, 41 years after the tragedy occurred.

6. Attraction to Specific Geographic Locations
Individuals are often attracted to geographic settings of past lives. In many cases, people are observed to gravitate to places where they have lived before. Individuals may reside in these areas or visit old haunts on vacation. In some cases, it appears that the soul is simply nostalgic for familiar settings. In other cases, the soul may direct the individual to a specific place to trigger a remembrance of the past lifetime or to facilitate a spiritual awakening.

7. Memories
Memories of past lives can have a profound effect on the individual who has experienced them. Memories can occur spontaneously or through past-life regressions. In a regression, a therapist guides a person into a state of deep relaxation. The subject is coached to go back in time until former lives are experienced or remembered. Memories, whether spontaneous or experienced through regression, are subjective. Alone, these memories provide only weak evidence of reincarnation to those who have not experienced them. Memories, though, when supported by objective facts obtained through historical research and corroboration, provide compelling evidence of reincarnation.

Today, while searching about some facts on Maneka Gandhi I found an interesting report that Annie Besant has been reborn as Maneka Gandhi! Interesting indeed. I went through the report and was amused that not only she, even Mahatma Gandhi has been reincarnated. The world’s leading past life researcher and best-selling author from the US Walter Semkiw even claims that he knows the past lives of even Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan and even APJ Abdul Kalam! And here’s the report:

Did you know that Mahatma Gandhi has been reincarnated as Van Jones, the celebrated American civil rights and environmental activist who was named Time magazine’s “environmental hero” in the US in 2008?

“Objective evidence that forms the basis of past life studies prove that Jones is the reincarnation of Gandhi,” world’s leading past life researcher and best-selling author from the US Walter Semkiw said in an interview.

Jones’ facial bone structure and features are the same as that of Gandhi’s, Semkiw said.

“His manners and body language are also similar to that of the Indian freedom fighter and he does the same things Gandhi did in Africa during the 1930s – campaign for civil rights. Like Gandhi, who was named Time magazine man of the year in 1930, Jones figured in Time’s list of most influential men in 2008 and in several other magazines,” the researcher said.

Semkiw, the San Francisco-based author, reincarnation specialist and medical practitioner, who stormed the best-sellers’ list in India with his book Born Again in 2006 that shed light on the past lives of Indian celebrities like Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and former president APJ Abdul Kalam is back with his second book, Origin of the Soul: And the Purpose of Reincarnation.

“It takes a deeper look into the theory of reincarnation and answers some long-standing questions like where do you come from? Why are we living this physical existence? And where are we going? It’s about the evidence of our past lives in our brains,” Semkiw said.

The writer, who practises medicine in San Francisco, graduated in medicine from the University of Illinois in Chicago and trained in psychiatry at the University of Colorado in Denver.

He has been researching the topic of past lives since 1996.

“I pursue past lives as a scientist based on objective evidence like common personality traits between reincarnations, memories, similarities in facial features, events, patterns in life and writing styles that most people carry over lifetimes. They rarely change down the births,” Semkiw said.

Most of Semkiw’s findings are based on independent research involving extensive library work and interviews with celebrities whose pasts Semkiw likes to probe. Semkiw says he also has sessions with a famous spirit medium, Kevin Ryerson who guides him to a master spirit called Athun Re, an Egyptian high priest, who, according to the doctor, has not been “reincarnated for the past 3,000 years”.

The “master priest” usually makes the “past lives matches instructing Semkiw where to look for possible reincarnations””.

The sessions are followed by research and the matching of physical evidence, the doctor said.

“Some of my famous case studies include those of the prodigy and holocaust victim Anne Frank (of the Diary of Anne Frank fame), who has been reincarnated as Barbro Karlen, a Swedish Christian, US President Barack Husain Obama, who was Lyman Trumbull, a Senator in Abraham Lincoln’s government,” Semkiw said.

Semkiw has interesting revelations about Indian celebrities as well.

Amitabh Bachchan, revealed the doctor, is the reincarnation of famous American actor Edward Booth and “displays all his characteristics”, while former president APJ Abdul Kalam is the present-day avatar of Tipu Sultan, the first Indian ruler to have used rockets in battles.

“Shah Rukh Khan is the reincarnation of yester year Hindu actress-singer and dancer Sadhana Bose. Social worker Annie Besant has been born as Maneka Gandhi….”

“My interest in investigating past life is academic,” said the researcher.

The writer, who claims to be the reincarnation of American president John Adams, started researching past life as a “spirit told him when he was studying medicine that he had a past life”.

“Initially, I did not believe it. But after 12 years, I started researching,” Semkiw said.

After reading the above report, I wanted to know little more about the writer and found this:

Semkiw

Semkiw

“I am a Board Certified Occupational Medicine physician and serve as the Assistant Chief of Occupational Medicine at a major medical center in San Francisco. Before that, I was a Medical Director for Unocal 76, a Fortune 500 oil company.

My undergraduate years were spent at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, where I majored in biology and graduated Phi Beta Kappa and with University Honors. After obtaining my medical degree at the University of Illinois, Chicago, I trained in psychiatry at the University of Colorado, Denver. I later entered an Occupational Medicine residency at the University of Illinois, Chicago, where I earned a Masters of Public Health (MPH) degree. In this program, I studied epidemiology and biostatistics, disciplines concerned with establishing scientific proofs. On my Occupational Medicine board examination,
I scored in the 99th percentile.

I share my educational background because I know that the information I am forwarding on reincarnation may be hard for some to believe. I want to reassure you that I am grounded in science.

My parents, Luba and Zenobius Semkiw, were immigrants from Ukraine, who were displaced during the Second World War. They came to the United States with nothing, yet found opportunity. My mother worked and supported my father while he went to medical school. Later on, my mother became a laboratory technician. Continuing the medical tradition, my brother George became a pharmacist and Leo an orthopedic surgeon.

My father was a gifted pianist and he would play Chopin late into the night. I remember well these childhood nocturnal serenades. I wanted to play piano also, but I didn’t have the talent. I am athletic, though, and I found that I could dance, which became a way to express music. I eventually married a beautiful and intelligent woman named Oksana. Though in time we parted, our early years were the happiest in my life. Many times, couples and other family members come back to life together from one incarnation to another, and indeed, I believe that Oksana was a close relative of mine in a lifetime past. Our story is described my book.

Though I like science, I have always been attracted to the metaphysical world. Though I knew that going into medicine was the right thing for me to do, I also felt that I had another purpose in life that had to do with the spiritual. It was only in 1996 that I started to realize what that task was. I unexpectedly found myself on a path which led me to investigate objective evidence of reincarnation, as well as a past lifetime of my own. In 2001, I presented my reincarnation research to the International Association of Regression Research and Therapies (IARRT). Approximately a year later, I was elected to the Board of Directors for IARRT.

It is my assertion that the objective evidence of reincarnation that is now emerging, from multiple independent research sources, has the potential to change the world in a fundamental way. This evidence demonstrates that we retain similar facial features, personality traits and even writing style, from lifetime to lifetime. We come back into life with people we have known before, and it appears that we all have a predetermined destiny or life path, which ensures that we rendezvous with souls that we are meant to reunite with, once again.”

I always felt that Michael Jackson might have hated his colour, being a Black, being an African, which might have made him to always yearn for a fair skin, go for plastic surgery and date fair women. I have never heard about his affairs with any Black women. In a country like United States, one can understand a person’s feeling of being a black.

I read Tony Morrison’s The Blue Eyes in my postgraduation and was deeply moved by the plight of Blacks in America. Whenever I heard about Jackson, I imagined his situation and plight in the background of that novel. Many works on the plight of Blacks have come out on the theme and Jackson’s transformation from Black to a White is just a living example the world witnessed. Their situation and condition was no different from Dalits in our country. In fact, I had presented a paper in a seminar on their plight comparing with Dalits in our country. Though Blacks form a race and Dalits a community, I still find similarities in the oppression and sufferings. They like our oppressed communities dream of coming to the mainstream society. They imagine themselves to befriend other sections of the society and they find no other way, but to upgrade themselves either by marrying people from upper class or rebel against the system.

I think Jacko found himself a new way to find place among the Whites. He didn’t rebel against the system, he transformed himself, he gave up his colour, the very identity to become one among the larger section of society, a White, whom the whole world adored and admired.

While thinking about all these, I found an interesting interview in Details, an interview by the hit-making producer, Quincy Jones, who was behind the King of Pop’s rise discussing Jackson’s life, death, and love of chemical peels. Jones, who first worked with Jackson on 1979’s Off the Wall, told Details they’d talk “all the time” about how Jackson was changing.

Jacko and Quincy

Jacko and Quincy

Did you believe him about the disease?
I don’t believe in any of that bullshit, no. No. Never. I’ve been around junkies and stuff all my life. I’ve heard every excuse. It’s like smokers — “I only smoke when I drink” and all that stuff. But it’s bullshit. You’re justifying something that’s destructive to your existence. It’s crazy. I mean, I came up with Ray Charles, man. You know, nobody gonna pull no wool over my eyes. He did heroin 20 years! Come on. And black coffee and gin for 40 years. But when he called me to come over to see him when he was in the hospital on his way out, man, he had emphysema, hepatitis C, cirrhosis of the liver, and five malignant tumors. Please, man! I’ve been around this all my life. So it’s hard for somebody to pull the wool over my eyes. But when somebody’s hell-bent on it, you can’t stop ’em.

But it must’ve been so disturbing to see Michael’s face turn into what it turned into.
It’s ridiculous, man! Chemical peels and all of it. And I don’t understand it. But he obviously didn’t want to be black.

Is that what it was?
Well, what do you think? You see his kids?

Did you ever discuss it? Did you ever ask, “Michael, don’t you want to be a black man?”
No, no, no, please. That’s not the way you do it.

But he was beautiful before?
Man, he was the most gorgeous guy.

But he seemed to have some deep-seated issue with how he looked?
Well, that comes about a certain way. I’m not sure how it happens. I’m just a musician and a record producer. I’m not a psychiatrist. I don’t understand all that stuff. We all got problems. But there’s a great book out called Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart. Did you see that? That book says the statute of limitations has expired on all childhood traumas. Get your stuff together and get on with your life, man. Stop whinin’ about what’s wrong, because everybody’s had a rough time, in one way or another.

I’ve heard you say that you wanted Michael to sing “She’s Out of My Life,” the great pop ballad from Off the Wall, in part because you felt like he had to deal with reality.
I just wanted to hear him deal with a romantic relationship with a human being rather than a rat. I’m saying that facetiously, but it’s true. I saw him at the Oscars very emotional about “Ben.” I wanted to hear him get in touch with a real human relationship. “She’s Out of My Life” was written by Tommy Bahler from a very bad ending to a marriage. So it was very real. I was saving it for Sinatra. But I gave it to Michael. And Michael cried during every take, and I left the tears in.

It’s interesting you mention this, because I was just watching a clip on YouTube where you’re sitting on a couch with Michael and he’s petting a snake the whole time.
Oh, I remember that. Yeah, that was Muscles.

Muscles?
Muscles. That’s a big boa constrictor he had. Muscles used to wrap around my leg in a record session and crawl across the console. I was never comfortable with that. It was a choice between that and Bubbles — you know, the chimp.

Did you ever meet Bubbles?
Are you kidding me? He bit a hole in my daughter’s hand! Rashida’s hand. Rashida Jones — did you see I Love You, Man? That’s my daughter. She was a little girl. And Bubbles bit her hand. Michael used to bring Muscles and Bubbles by the house all the time, you know.

What did you think of that? Wasn’t that a little weird?
I don’t know, man. Everybody does his own thing. I’ve met every freak in the business. Everybody has their idiosyncrasies. I try not to judge it, you know. I know all women are junkies for little dogs and bags and purses. Ha ha ha ha!

At root, what do you think killed Michael Jackson?
I don’t know, man. I’m a musician. I’m not a psychiatrist. I would think that the pressure of the concerts and the debt and everything else… look, I’ve been in the hands of Nobel doctors for the last five years, in Stockholm, at the Karolinska hospital, which you can’t even pay to get in. I’ve learned so much about the human mind and the body, and the doctors talk all the time about how you become your thoughts. It’s true. With one thought it starts, you know, and if you sit there and just stay hung up on one negative thought, you will become that thought. I know that Lisa Marie Presley said that she always thought he was going to die like Elvis. You sit and think about that stuff, it’ll happen to you. If you start thinking about darkness instead of light, or fear instead of love, you’ll get in trouble. I really believe that.

With so many people asking you about Michael Jackson, is it hard to find the private space in which to mourn his death?
Yes, it is. It’s surrealistic. I don’t know how to process it at all. Because everybody’s reacting to it, and making up their own answers.

You’ve said that you don’t attend funerals anymore because you’ve lost so many friends. Do you plan to attend Michael Jackson’s funeral?
No, not at all, not at all. Because it’s going to be, like, 9 million people there, and it’s not what I want to see.

You’re not going to be there?
No. I can’t be there, anyway. I’m going to Wales the day after tomorrow, I go to Montreux, I go to Marbella, I go to the south of France. My condolences and love I’ve already sent to the family. But being there with 10 million people is not my idea of a tribute to somebody you were so close to — who’s got a part of your soul. Our souls were joined, you know. And a piece of it goes with him.