Destination: Impossible

My list of places to travel in this life has been a very long one. I have often thought about buying a new shelf to keep that list. The cities like Rome, Barcelona, Milan, Vienna, Florence, Lisbon, Venice and many others have been part of that list, along with a good number of Latin American nations. There have also been nations on the Eastern side of Asia and the South of Africa which have been in my list. But there is something about Eastern Europe and one nation in particular, which I wished to visit right from my childhood, even before I knew more about the nations, their geographical locations, capitals and the distance to be traveled from here.

I know my friends who wish to travel and settle down in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, along with those who are already there. I am the first one to make this wish here, and I made it when I was in school, and nobody knew the name of even one Eastern European nation other than Russia. I wanted to travel to Romania. Some friends thought that I wanted to travel to Rome with its Colosseum and Vatican, but that was not my priority. I wanted to see the legend, the hero and the prince of darkness, or at least what remained of the myth and history.

I have loved almost everything I have known about Romania, the most recent love related to Simona Halep, the World No.2 in Women Singles Tennis; that even lead to our cat being named after her. Coming back to the love for Dracula, the first non-Malayalam horror novel which I have ever read, Carpathians had become a grand part of my perpetual endearment towards the unexplored side, something which was to be kept away – the kid who read horror is never the lovable kid, right? It was the time when I had to read the children’s books, and there I was, reading the horror novels.

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“That kid who read horror novels” – not that much of a popular tag to have at the Municipal Library of a town; it was a fair title though. Then there were people who had the shocked expression seeing me with the horror novels. I was often called Dracula in the class and I loved it so much; as I soon asked to be called that name, my classmates realized that they couldn’t make fun of me by calling me Dracula and they decided to stop addressing me so. The horror always existed with me, and the genre grew, with horror movies and then reaching my final MA English and Literature project about Vampire as a Cultural Construct.

The Carpathian Mountains should be my place to begin. I should be there alone and be the Jonathon Harker of the time, and it is something which I owe that kid who read horror novels. The Bran Castle should be the big destination as the Dracula Castle, along with Poenari Castle and Hunyad Castle making sure that the legend is truthfully followed. I have always loved the castles even outside the horror stories, and with the myth connected here, you know which is the castle which I wish to visit long before any other. The Dracula Castle is like a holy site of myths for us!

Bucharest, the capital and largest city of Romania also needs to be visited. I have found a number of interesting buildings on the pages, most significant ones being Saint Spyridon the New Church, and the architectural beauty in right there with modernity as well as those with antiquity. Another city on the list is Iasi for the Metropolitan Cathedral there. Constanța, the port city where Simona Halep is from, also makes it to my list. The other cities include Timisoara, Ploiesti, Sibiu, Craiova, Brasov, Galați and Cluj-Napoca – you search for details about a city, and you end up wishing to visit them!

Well, it is clear that I have no job as I have been learning the names of cities. I wish that my MA thesis would come to its real end during a trip to Romania, or may be I could do a Ph.D thesis there on the same topic; the journey is a wish that is never to come true, and Romania is a dream destination which is never to be added to the “visited” list. This is one destination which seems necessary for my salvation, but it is also something which I have put on another list of many impossible things. Do I need to say those six impossible things before tea? May be I do.

***The image used in this blog post was taken by me on Samsung Galaxy A5.

TeNy

Sharpen Your Fangs

Most of the vampires have enjoyed some good time at the box-office with those movies with fangs driving hard into the necks of those currency notes. Some of the most mindless vampire franchises have done so well, that one has already gotten $3.345 billion world-wide. The most shocking thing is that the last two movies of that franchise which were the worst, actually managed to earn more than the the rest. It is a strange world, and a change of human perception about the vampires has made sure that this strange, meaningless vampire romance was going to take over to satisfy some audience.

But the question remained if such movies had to be made, and also if such books were to be written with not caring for the vampire essence? Interview with the Vampire maintained the basic vampire essence, and so did Vampire Journals; none of them needed to go into the strange teenage romance. Let Me In had recreated the same so much, and didn’t go down to a childish fantasy. There is a movie which knows how to make a rather beautiful and thought-provoking vampire stuff; something that Twilight had completely missed out, and with its complicated protagonists and complete artistic beauty, that movie is Byzantium.

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Byzantium is a less recognized beauty. It is not known that much among even the most regular movie viewers. The reason might be that it never really got a wide release. It comes from Neil Jordan who brought us Interview with the Vampire, and this movie maintains the feelings of that one including alienation, solitude, hopelessness and eternal doubt. The movie begins with these lines “My story can never be told. I write it over and over, wherever we find shelter. I write of what I cannot speak: the truth. I write all I know of it, then I throw the pages to the wind. Maybe the birds can read it”.

In a word which completely takes you into its eerie feeling, Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan) and Clara (Gemma Arterton), the mysterious daughter and mother pair is on a never-ending run and finally seems to have somehow settled at the Hotel Byzantium. They have been chased by a group of vampires for around two hundred years. The flashback story goes back to the time of the Napoleonic Wars during which Clara is born. But at Byzantium, it is not just the past that will come to trouble the mother and daughter, as the present will catch up to them to force them in order to make decisions.

We have been forced into the CGI beauty which has often overtaken the beauty of the world and its people, and Byzantium takes you back to it. Saoirse Ronan plays a wandering beauty who carries a burden of melancholy with amazing skills. Four years after City of Ember, she once again brings the audience to a standstill with her performance as the lone vampire youth who never ages. Kirsten Dunst played such a character as a child vampire in Interview with the Vampire, but Eleanor’s troubles go deeper. She has the feelings of not just Claudia from that movie, but also that of Louis de Pointe du Lac.

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The one thing we can tell Saoirse Ronan’s character is to stop being so sad, as it basically depresses the viewers and makes them wonder how an immortal beauty can be portrayed with such powerful and abiding sadness. In such a world of no happiness, Gemma Arterton is Clara Webb, charming, seductive and deadly. Traversing between the darkness and the light, or rather dark grey and light grey, she is a character who saves the day in more than one way, and that depiction is rather of a domination that rises above the expectation. As she says “I had eyes that cut through lies, I had lungs that breathed eternity. Felt I’d lived my whole wretched life just to prepare me for that moment“.

Byzantium is a movie which replenished my vampire essence which was taken away by three movies, the completely worthless and shameless one called The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, the hopeless one called Twilight and the clueless one called Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters. Byzantium is unbelievably artistic in its presentation, stylish with its environment and brutal with its emotions. It is like a form of art which does justice to the vampire mythology and never boasting about. As it hasn’t been promoted enough, I provide this post for celebrating this rather #UnknownMasterpiece.

***The images used in this blog post are from the Facebook Page of Byzantium.

TeNy

My City for the Undead

It was something that they wanted to do for a long time, to build a city for the basic undead thanking their services to the New Vampire World. Without the help of the zombie minions, the New Vampire World could have never been constructed, and Dracula realized how important it would be to keep the support of the zombies as the influence of the Werewolves, Eldars and the Lich Queen were rising in the area taking advantage of the common heritage of the tomb which was shared by them all.

The Shattered Dreams refer to the four islands which lie between the New Vampire World and the Isles of Blood and comes directly under the influence of the Vampire Throne. It was on the second largest of those islands that the new city was planned to be built. There was a smaller island between that isle and the mainland which was to be connected to both lands by two bridges which were proposed to be built under the direct supervision of Dracula himself.

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Dracula wanted to change from the usual architectural model of the Gothic and shift to the Aztec style after his recent visit to a certain unknown area in the human world. There is to be a city centre built like a ziggurat headed by two vampires and three zombies. Even though the vampires believed that the human model usually had only zombies as leaders, they preferred a change there. Attached to the city centre, there are to be two shopping centres on both sides, and two training centres on the other sides, one for civilians and the other for the keepers of the law.

There were to be more roads than buildings making sure that there were no traffic problems. The trees were to be planted on both sides of the roads as well as on the median which would also have stone paved footpaths and benches just like the sides. The Great Undead Centres are planned exactly five kilometres from the city centre on four sides of the island to make sure that the balance of control is maintained, and they were close to the sea to make sure that the immigration was also well handled.

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The graves which were home to the undead were built hidden between the trees on the side of the road. Small parks are to be all around. They were to lead underground into a crypt which was to be divided into five sections, with stone coffins in each. All the buildings arre to follow the same pattern, except for the house of the leaders made as a mausoleum to serve as the home for them all. The parking facilities are provided more underground, with a further layered structure designed with special walls to ensure better protection from sounds.

A facility for rainwater collection wil be also maintained on the trees. As the undead are naturally farmers despite the never-ending desire for brain biriyani, they will like the best use of rainwater without them directly affecting the crops. The farmlands are to be created in open areas between The Great Undead Centres and the city centre exactly a kilometre from the latter. The former will have the study centres one kilometre from it. The chicken farms will be attached to the regular farmlands too.

Windmills, solar panels and wells are to provide energy and water for the city so that the undead population won’t have depend on external sources. The activities would depend on the solar power, and as the zombies have evolved enough to stand the sunlight, this will only work in their favour. The main tourist destination will be the Death Ride featuring the main undead heroes who are part of the legends, like the Headless Knight, the Brain Devourer and the Resident Zombie. There is also the provision for free wi-fi with instructions as I proclaim my dream city for the undead.

***The images used in this blog post are from the game, Age of Empires III which I used to play.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

TeNy

Shadows of the Light

It has been almost an year after the Vampire Bat was teleported into one of those strange planets as part of the superhuman vampiric abilities test conducted under the supervision of Doctor Frankenstein. A semi-utopia was created on that world under the supervision of the Vampire Bat, but on his return to the planet Vampiris after a long break, he and Vampire Owl found out that it was the season of the “Shadows of the Light” which meant a full month of darkness, and this darkness generated invincibility of the shadows which is caused by the gyration of the dark matter, would unleash the centuries old spirits that lie beneath the planet, dead and buried, but not passed on to the other world. In simple words, it was the season of death and destruction.

[At the Vampiris Grand Palace of the Elite].

Vampire Owl: So, he is like the minister whom you have appointed here?

Vampire Bat: Much more than that to the people. Yes, continue with the story.

There is no lack of grandeur within the cities, but the soul remains simple

Sirius: The darkness is too powerful, master vampires. We cannot fight it. The shadows have always existed on this planet, and are the rightful heirs to this realm. You might have changed our system, but you can’t change the end. There are no happy endings for us, but brutal continuity which leads to the need for another beginning.

Vampire Bat: How long has this been happening?

Sirius: Since the last known part of the past, my lord. From the day our civilization began, we have been looking for hope. You have provided us with something special, but it shall not ensure our existence beyond the shadows of the light.

Vampire Owl: But I had heard that you were nyctophilic?

Sirius: Yes, we still are. But we are just the lovers of the night. They are darkness of this planet, and they are lead by the Dark Lord. He stays in his cave of million mirrors in which he store his dark magic as it serves as the passage to the other world. He leads the spirits to the cities during the shadows of the light.

Vampire Owl: We should talk to this dude then. He sounds so not so cool.

Vampire Bat: Yes, I guess we should. He is an immortal too. A very unpopular one though – may be he will still manage to understand.

[At the Dark Lord’s Cave].

Vampire Owl: There is a certain shortage of mirrors here considering the fact that he said a million. Your minister exaggerates too much.

Dark Lord: What do you want?

Vampire Bat: We want you to retire. The Vampire Team will arrange your pension directly from the Castle Dracula.

Dark Lord: I am the Dark Lord here. Dark lords don’t retire. Ask any of our kind in your realm. Who do you think you are? You can’t threaten me in my mansion.

Vampire Owl: This is actually a cave.

Dark Lord: Yes, cave mansion. You should know that already. I have already written that on the entrance. And I repeat – do not threaten me. What can you threaten me with?

There are always difficulties in creating new worlds, but nothing like the inherent evil

Vampire Owl: We threaten to switch on the lights.

Dark Lord: There are no lights in this cave, which is why this is a dark cave mansion owned by the Dark Lord, who is standing in front of you.

Vampire Bat: He means that we threaten to bring the light into this cave.

Dark Lord: What? No, it is impossible. This is my dark mansion, and the rules are all mine.

Vampire Owl: We can do anything. We have Uncle Dracula. We even got the cool vampire army.

Vampire Bat: You have bothered the people here for too long. For your kind, we have another name in our planet. What you do here directly, they do there in an indirect way. They make people fight each other in the name of religion, caste, race, language and a long list of many other things. They are called politicians. At least you are direct, and not a liar. We will give you a truce. You can come to our world and teach a few people some valuable lessons. Come to our world, use our darkness and make it a better place by unleashing your spirits. Unleash the shadows of the light, and switch on the light of change.

Vampire Owl: I still don’t get why he has to use shadows of the light. Doesn’t shadows of the night sound better?

Dark Lord: It actually sounds even more stylish in our language. Well, I accept that offer. I always wanted to unleash the shadows on some aliens.

Vampire Bat: It is a deal then.

Vampire Owl: Let’s call for a Vampire Fangs Party!

Dark Lord: As long as it is dark enough, I shall try to attend the strange vampire function which you are talking about.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

***The images used in this blog post are from the Official Facebook Page of one of my all-time favourite computer games, Mass Effect.

TeNy

Addition to the Supernatural

***This is going to be quite a strange post about my thoughts on expanding the vampire universe which has been part of my writing for quite some time – lead by Uncle Dracula, Vampire Bat, Vampire Owl and Vampire Crocodile along with the other vampire team having guest appearances from werewolves, zombies, mutants and many others. I do feel that these characters and incidents could actually have a working base. So, if you feel weird already, you can skip this post.

I have been using the vampire world for the stories of this blog for quite a long time. I have been thinking about the same and realized that I had thought about a good number of creatures and lands, some of which I have already mentioned in the previous posts. This made me wonder if I could actually make a world out of those which I have already talked about in the previous posts.

So, I decided to divide the creatures into territories on a world map which I had tampered with, and gave each of them land according to what I have been thinking about. For the same, I thought about what I wanted, and realized that it was more of a balance of power. I checked which all creatures could ally with which kind, and made the territory division on that basis, making sure that there could be some alliance which can make the balance back to the continent.

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I have filled the map with creatures which could rather be neutral or evil, rather than be on the good side as far as alignment is concerned. I have added three kinds of elves to make sure that each could take the side of their own race or according to how dark their alignment is. The witches, immortals and spirits of nature were added to make things more twisted with further scope for unholy alliances.

The zombie territories are divided too, as they are certified mindless and mostly remains without an alliance even though Lich Queen has a specific amount of control over them, more than the Vampire Lords have. Anything related to the ghosts is also a possibility of another empire even though the control of the Lich Queen as well as Dracula will always be there. The Goblins and the Orcs can work together if needed.

The Newborns, Highlanders and Nomads are added to bring another level of opportunity to the whole thing, as they are more neutral than anybody else in their approach. The Other World and the Shadow Grounds have the portals to the other dimensions. The former is a direct entry to the world of the demons which has been closed, and the latter passes one though the shadow realm which is an intermediate world which goes to many places. Then there is also the details about the vampire division in particular.

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To add to it, you have the Eldars, an ancient but advanced race, Necrons who are the most advanced of the undead, the Mutants, the Sirens and the Cyclops to add enough fury here. Draconian Reptile Order and Dark Warlords will keep thing interesting with their desire for war. Satyrs and Centaurs will also play a big role in a possible war or peace, whichever comes to the continent. There is also a lighter side to this whole continent which is not shown, and there, the races would include a team lead by the Halflings. But right now, the focus is on this world, that of darkness which has the vampire team on one end. The biggest inspiration for the same came from two computer games, Age of Wonders and Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War with their sequels.

TeNy

Movies Saving the Day

There are so many occasions when movies did save my day, and so you know there is another reason for falling in love with them. Movies are also a source of knowledge, and you don’t know when you can use them, especially when studying something like Literature or History for graduation and post-graduation. Movies are like superheroes – when they are not saving somebody else by moving away from your memories, you can always trust them to save you from different types of villainy; may the movies keep having their superpowers forever and ever 😀 Here are the list of those movies which saved my day:

Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994): I would consider this movie as something that changed my movie watching world, but other than that, this also served as the primary text for my thesis during my post graduation in English Language and Literature; the study called “Vampire as a Cultural Construct”. People have so many doubts about what to take for their MA thesis, and I knew I had to choose this – even as I had taken the book, the influence on the movie was more in my ideas and how I went on with the project. It is expected when a movie has cast like Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Antonio Banderas, Christian Slater and Kirsten Dunst.

Claudia: the most haunting image of Interview with the Vampire

Claudia the child vampire: the most haunting image of Interview with the Vampire

Joy Ride 2: Dead Ahead (2008): The first ever quiz competition’s first round can keep one nervous, and even as I have continued to be nervous throughout, this horror slasher movie helped me to get past the preliminary stage. We all know the story of three bears, but I had not known the name of the girl in the fairy tale. In the movie, the serial killer phones and calls the potential victim who came into his abandoned house as Goldilocks because she is blonde. But to make her feel that he is not watching her, he tells her that the name was given as a comparison to the story Goldilocks and the three bears as she and her friends came into his house like that and rests there. Yes, slasher horror saves and Nicki Aycox is a beauty.

Ghost Rider (2007): Johny Blaze a.k.a. Ghost Rider is my Doctor Faustus, and yes, those things which I had felt while watching this movie could be used with my study of The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe. That’s right, my ideas about Faustus has derived from my earlier watching of this movie, which has helped me a lot in working something for those seminars and assignments, rightly combining this with that world and making the necessary changes. Well, a movie with the same Mephistopheles, and a gorgeous Eva Mendes as extra with soul being sold in a contract – you can’t stop yourself from drawing a parallel here, no matter it is of Renaissance Era or the Modern Age.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002): This is my favourite Harry Potter movie, and that is not where my appreciation for this movie ends. There was a question in one of those exams about who Mrs Norris is, in Harry Potter. Yes, she is the lovely pet cat of Argus Filch, the caretaker of Hogwarts, and I seemed to be the only person knowing it. Every question paper has the last few questions, which are not directly from the text books. But this was completely unrelated to anything that we had studied, and I could gladly answer this and pray for more out of syllabus questions – a prayer which is sure to make me enemies among the usual students. This was Harry Potter saving the day in Kerala.

The English Patient: One of the best movie adaptations ever

The English Patient: One of the best movie adaptations ever, and proven by the Oscars

The English Patient (1996): Well, this is a secret, as I had told everyone that I was going to read this one, but I never really tried until I was an MA graduate. Yes, I read books which are in the syllabus after I complete the course – then it will not feel like a text book. Then how did I answer those questions for exams? The credit for the same goes to this movie with Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche and Kristin Scott Thomas. This was one awesome movie, and my addiction to it made me watch it again and again, getting me prepared for the exams rather than the book or the guide. I had those things I had found out about the movie and used them effectively for the exams, which I am sure, should have worked very nicely.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992): This is the first Dracula movie that I have ever watched and the second vampire movie after John Carpenter’s Vampires. Yes, it is a fact that is recorded in golden letters in my vampire admiration history, approved by my fellow vampire lovers. Even as I have known Dracula and his minions since childhood, this one surely made the difference, and every time some Gothic stuff needs clarification, this is the memory that flashes into my mind. Yes, this one has saved my world on multiple occasions, even as I have now watched too many Dracula and vampire movies and so many of such books to need this one for reference.

*Keep calm and let movies save the day 😀 All the images used in this blog post are from the Official Facebook Pages of these movies.

TeNy