Sunday, October 27, 2013

Real men don't buy girls.

"Traffickers will stop
when men stop buying women."
Sometimes you feel a personal connection to a book and that just makes it the more authentic to you, not to mention more of an arrow straight through the heart. In my case this was on the double with this book. Not only is India basically my second home but I also quite narrowly left Thailand about a week before the tsunami hit. After long consideration, my friend and I decided not to stretch our stay there across Christmas and New Year's, after all. We weren't too pleased with it at first but by the end of the year we were happy we ran out of money and simply had to go home.
My eternal search for good fiction taking place in India pushed me to the doorstep (or should I say cover?) of this exquisite story. Corban Addison was a name I had never heard of before and I was surprised how a first time author could receive such amazing reviews given the complexity of the topic that he had chosen. So I simply had to read it. A Walk Across the Sun is a story that transcends good fiction. Because it could be true and it most likely is a reality for (too) many young girls and women. It shines light on a very monumental problem that we as a global society are facing: human trafficking. The worst part of this problem is that there is not enough awareness. Human trafficking is happening in every town, even in yours. Believe it or not. No matter how small or big your country or town are and no matter how respectable they are, there is an underground horror story that is happening away from everyone, except those who seek it for their horrifying pleasure.

"Yet her father had taught her that failing to act
in the face of human suffering is inhuman."

The story speaks of two sisters, 17-year-old Ahalya Ghai and her 15-year-old sister Sita. When a tsunami rages through their coastal town in India they are left orphaned and homeless. With almost everyone they know suddenly erased from the face of the earth, the girls set out for the convent where they attend school. They are abducted almost immediately and sold to a Mumbai brothel owner, beginning a hellish descent into the bowels of the sex trade. On the other side of the world in Washington, D.C., attorney Thomas Clarke faces his own personal and professional crisis. He makes the fateful decision to pursue a pro bono sabbatical working in India where his wife is from. He chooses to work for an NGO that prosecutes the subcontinent's human traffickers. There, his conscience awakens as he sees firsthand the horrors of the trade in human flesh, and the corrupt judicial system that fosters it. Learning of the fate of Ahalya and Sita, Clarke makes it his personal mission to rescue them, setting the stage for a riveting showdown with an international network of ruthless criminals. In the true thriller fashion he will chase them around the globe as their fate keeps turning quicker than the tide.

The film which Corban Addison watched with his wife. It changed his life.

It's not only that Mr. Addison's work is compelling and thrilling, grips you and won't let you go, but it is also important as it no doubt has already opened many eyes and more importantly debates (and will continue to do so). This is probably one of the reasons fiction writing exists. To not only address important questions but to raise awareness, to bring this problem which is not talked about enough, to brighter light. As Thomas Clarke tries to find personal redemption through helping two innocent girls he realizes the heartbreaking fact that he cannot help all of them, no matter how hard he tries. And that is where we can step in.
I find it absolutely disgusting and revolting that such evil exists. Taking advantage of a horrible situation (such as wars, natural disasters, personal tragedies, poverty, etc.) makes it even more repulsive. It enrages me that greed is the only thing that drives these actions. Just as The Whistleblower quite openly blew the whistle on human trafficking in light of war (and the way those who were supposed to help and protect were actually the perpetrators), A Walk Across the Sun does it in its own way. I have cousins and nieces that remind me of those two girls and it pained me to read on and see what was unfolding through those pages in front of my eyes. In my Indian part of family there are girls just like Ahalya and Sita, who speak and act just like they did, they are their age, bright, funny, sweet, beautiful and innocent young girls and if anyone would try to hurt them, I cannot imagine what I would do. The description of the city was amazingly accurate and the book left me wanting to help. I'm sure that was the writer's intention for every reader and I am certain he succeeded with every person who picked up the book.
A few months ago we contacted Mr. Addison and asked him to answer a few questions. He kindly agreed but the amount of questions we gathered wasn't small and he has since had a new book released, The Garden of Burning Sand and has also been promoting it so we ask you for patience, we are sure he will find the time to give you more insight and more information. Until then, here is an interview of his that everyone should watch.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Be afraid. Be *very* afraid.

"There's a lady in a dirty nightgown that I see in my dreams. She's standing in front of my mom's bed."

There are a few movies which are scary and at the same time touch you emotionally in a particular way. There is a fear of the devil and then an emotion of the fight against it to protect the loved ones. The Conjuring (2013) is a horror movie based on a true story of two American paranormal investigators, Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) and Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) and their experience with the Perron family while dealing with a haunting.
"There is something horrible happening in my house."
Carolyn (Lili Taylor) and Roger (Ron Livingston), along with their daughters move to a farmhouse in Harrisville, Rhode Island in 1971. As obvious as it could get, they were mainly drawn to it because of the relatively low price. They seem to settle down peacefully on day one, however their dog Sadie refuses to enter the house, perhaps she had already sensed that there is something happening in there. Her sense was real but it came with a price as the family finds her dead the next morning. Unexplained things start to happen over the next few days until the family is convinced that there is something evil residing in their house which wants to harm them. The family is hurt mentally and physically and they approach the Warrens to seek help against the supernatural occurrences. 

"God brought us together for a reason."
This movie has a brilliant build-up as it effortlessly manages to create an eerie atmosphere, a considerable amount of credit must be given to excellent camera work. Director James Wan makes sure that the tension remains consistent as he keeps adding fear in regular doses to his recipe of horror. The fact that it has the 70's set up also contributes to the sinister ambiance. It is admirable that there is not much graphic when it comes to showing the face of evil as the biggest fear is that of the unknown. The Warrens conduct a study of the house and come to a conclusion that it needs exorcism for which they need permission from the church authorities at the Vatican. The evil activity gets so frequent that there is no time to wait and the family is forced to move out of the house. Once happy to find a new home with beautiful surroundings they become increasingly desperate to get rid of it but unfortunately it's too late as one of them gets trapped by the devil. This fight to save the possessed and its target, who is again a member of the family is a mix of horror and emotion as everyone involved struggles right till the end. It's the memory of loving and being loved which eventually conquers evil and that's where the emotionally touching part comes from. 

"The devil exists. God exists. And for us, as people, our very destiny hinges on which we decide to follow."
The Conjuring doesn't fail to scare, it's wonderfully directed to make sure that the viewer shivers. The characters are great and so is the direction. Although I was not that impressed by the ending which to some extent fails to match the magnificent build-up of fear throughout the movie. Besides that, this movie is one of the best horror ones till date.

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