1917

I had heard a little bit about 1917. It was a war movie and on the technical side created to appear like one continuous shot. That was the thing I was most curious about. We don’t watch too many movies at the theater but this sounded like something best experienced on the large screen. Going in I had two questions on my mind. Could the movie pull of this technical feat and if it did manage to pull it off would it end up being a case of all style and no substance?

They did pull it off, and how? It is truly an outstanding achievement. Because I knew this about the movie going in I was scrutinizing every frame of the movie, waiting for the illusion to break. It didn’t. Not just that, everything else about the movie works just as well. The rousing score, the spectacular set pieces, the cast and direction. To tell this story they did not necessarily need do the one shot take. The very fact that they set this direction from the beginning and were ready to commit to making this audacious objective come true, blew my mind.

Not everyone who goes to the movies pays attention to elements like cinematography. The wizard behind the camera here is Roger Deakins of Blade Runner 2049 fame. The amount of advance preparation that would have gone into some of it’s sequences is difficult to comprehend. It reminded me so much of what I felt after watching Mad Max: Fury Road. A true artistic achievement the likes of which may never be attempted again.

A Plague Tale: Innocence

One of the things I wanted to do in the new year was write a little bit about every game that I manage to complete this year. I bought a bunch of games at the end of last year in the Steam summer sale. A Plague Tale: Innocence was the first one I completed this year. I had a very brief notion of what the game was about but seeing it nominated for the Outstanding Story Rich Steam award was what piqued my interest.

Before I began playing I was expecting something along the lines of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. Narrative driven with an equal dose of combat. This game is equal parts stealth with a dose of simplified combat. Crafting is integral to the game. It’s simple to perform and core to the gameplay. The game has you moving along the predetermined story thread while solving a few puzzles along the way. Combat is via a sling and a rock. A bunch powers get added to that as you progress through the game. What I loved about the combat was that it managed to do so much with just a simple mechanic. Over the course of my 13 hr play through I felt a real sense of progression in the combat. There were enough set piece and tense moments that were all built around the sling mechanic. I wasn’t sure how they would do a boss battle but the grand finale was pretty amazing in it’s execution both from a mechanical and its sheer beauty.

The beauty in this game comes from the environmental details and other aspects. A ruined yet beautiful countryside. Fires amidst the darkness. But the most striking aspect of its visuals is its rendering of rat hordes. Reading about the custom engine that the game uses I learnt that they designed to be able render 5000 rats on screen at the same time. This is crucial to the game experience and they have done an incredible job of it. The aforementioned boss battle is a sight to behold thanks to what I can only describe as rat rendering technology.

On the story front the voice actors have done a credible job. However the actual plot itself didn’t make the greatest impact on me. Sometimes the gameplay aspect of a narrative game like this is what elevates the experience and for me that was what actually took me through to the end.

Post Office Blues

I had stopped at signal at a place I don’t usually pass through. Maybe it was a slow Sunday or I was just in a frame of mind to actually notice something, but in all these years I never realized a post office existed here, dated 1923. Considering everything adjacent to it, it stood out like a relic from another time thanks to it’s sloping roofs, ledged wooden windows, the aged stone façade and that intricately designed central motif.

When I came back home I got me thinking about the last time I actually went to the post office. My memory failed me. I could say for sure that it was the time before internet and email had proliferated our lives. I remember sending a letter to the USA meant going to the post office getting it weighed and affixing it with the right postage before sending it off. The stamps were just as interesting as the whole process.

These days I never send mail and the only letters filling the letter box are credit card statements and utility bills. So I was truly delighted twice in the last few months to have received 2 items that were not any of the above.

One was a thank you letter from my cousin in New York thanking me and my family for attending her wedding that happened all the way in the Mexico. It was an amazing experience to sit and read through it. When I told my cousin about it she was surprised about how long it actually took to get to us. Turns out that it was posted more than a month ago. It was certainly worth the wait. It made me miss the written letter so much. What’s worse it made me realise that I don’t even write personal emails. They took the effort to write and mail a personal letter to all their guests.

The other surprise was when I had signed up for a very cool concept by author Jenna Matecki. She is a nomadic writer who lives in different cities for a few months at a time.  She ties up with local artists to send an illustrated postcard to anyone who signs up for it. It’s free and you can sign up no matter where in the world you are from. I had signed up and totally forgotten about it. So it was a nice surprise to find a postcard from Mexico in my mailbox. It was beautifully illustrated and such a pleasure to read. When I messaged the author about it she said that postcards have arrived in India even before they arrived in the US. It’s a real mystery how the global postal network actually works.

Escaping The City

I’m returning from a weekend trip out of the city. The air has begun to lose it’s freshness. I begin to wonder. When we think of heading out of the city, what we are looking to do is escape the limits of the city. As the years have gone on however, I realize that we need to travel farther and farther to escape the city. As even more years pass us by I wonder if the limits of city will ever end. Will we ever be able to escape it’s confines.

What is the reason for this? Am I the only one who feels this way?

Is our burgeoning population finding it harder to secure a place to live within the city. Is there truly no place left in our city? The vast number of homes lying vacant in the city would indicate otherwise. Is the average family being priced out of the city?

Or is it the desire to have a house to call your own, no matter how much it burdens us for the rest of our lives. Is this collective fever dream actually turning the city into a nightmare?

Swiss Food

Having Switzerland be the first destination outside the country that I went to was a scary proposition. It was the year 2008. I was less than 2 years out of college and I was travelling alone. I had only heard about how expensive Switzerland was in general. So when I first landed there for a short work stint, I was handed my spending money upfront. I had to ration that out over the 15 days. My stay was covered separately, so I didn’t have to worry about that.

My hotel stay had breakfast included. I was initially regaled by the wide array of breads and cheeses on offer.

I spent the next five days saving money on food by buying bread and cheese at the local supermarkets. Sixth day onwards I started feeling nausea whenever I thought about food and the bread and cheese I was going to have to eat. One day it got so bad that I decided I would go out and just eat whatever I wanted (that wasn’t insanely expensive). I discovered a local resto that served some decent margarita pizzas. The first time I ordered it I had a hard time even trying to understand what were my options as a vegetarian thanks to my non-existent German language skills. But it was good inexpensive food and I had the same thing several times thereafter. There may have been other vegetarian options but procuring that information was too arduous an exercise so I just settled for the Margarita.

On another day that I went exploring I came across a McDonalds. Again just one vegetarian burger. This again tasted blissfully good. I decided from then on that the few days I had remaining I would have McDonald’s every day if I needed to. It was also when I stopped converting every price in Swiss Francs to Indian Rupees.

Over my stay there I came across several eateries that looked very interesting, that I stupidly refused to try thanks to my fear of running out of my allotment of Swiss Francs. A lifelong regret.

Doors

It was a strange world she was in. A world imbued with the strangest hues and flora of the strangest design. Yet there was a strange sense of familiarity about it. The tree under which she sat and pondered about this world’s intricacies was short and stout. It had the most slender of branches, branches that could almost be passed off as leaves. Set upon these branches were scores of thick pointed leaves the weight of which caused the branches to bend towards the ground and even touch the ground at places. Like the braided hair of a woman she thought they were. The entire sky was suffused with a dull yellow color that gave the illusion of warmth but in this world the color of the sky did not affect things the way they did in her world. A perpetual fog permeated the world around her. None of the objects in this world cast any shadows. Besides the sound of her measured breathing not a single sound could she hear from anywhere in this world. There was no wind. Nothing moved unless she touched it. The framed door through which she had entered this world stood before her. She only had to proceed through it to escape this dream world and grasp reality. But it was also the door through which she had chosen to escape reality and enter a world that challenged every notion of reality she had built up over the years.

It was cold, she was alone yet she felt calm and unafraid. It was a fantastical realm yet everything had parallels with reality. She walked on through the haze the sound of her footsteps and the sound of the grass crushing under her feet magnified by the silence of everything else. The braided branch trees she saw every where. No bird nested among its branches no fruits hung of them. Where had all the birds flown away to she wondered. The sun gave life to every living thing she had been told. Yet there was no light that gave life here only the light that kept away the darkness. She walked on for a while. The grass beneath her feet grew sparser and the trees she could see became fewer. It began to brighten and the ground began to grow translucent.  A few more steps and there was nothing more on the ground. It was like standing on glass floor. She was enveloped by a brilliant yellow light. That was when she realized that the light had always been coming from below the ground. That was why nothing cast shadows like she expected. After her eyes had adjusted to the brightness she began to perceive shapes and movement beneath the surface. She lay face down on the ground pressing her face as close as possible to the ground. She saw what appeared to be the same trees she had seen before moving gently this way and that their slender branches waving like tentacles of a jellyfish. One of the creatures was moving upwards heading to where she was lying down. It’s movements were so graceful she wished she could reach through the ground and touch it. The creature was now so close that only the ground separated her from it. The tree like structure formed only the upper part of its body. Below that it had a heart shaped head with hundred’s of blinking eyes set upon it. They all blinked at the same time when it looked her. The creature began to come even closer. It began to pass through the ground and came so close that the top of it brushed against her face. She tried to push her hand through the ground to touch it but the ground remained solid. The creature shrank away at this gesture and floated downwards gracefully until she could see it no more.

There was nothing more she could discover here. The door to reality called to her. She headed back through the door. She looked back one last time at this world and thought of the world that lied beneath it. A world she could only see but not touch.

The Office

The Office was one of those shows that I heard a lot of my colleagues talking about over the years, but one that I never got around to watching for one reason or the other. Starting a show that has 9 seasons is a monumental task. It caught my attention again in recent months when I read an article, about how The Office and Friends are still some of Netflix’s most-watched shows. For those in India, The Office airs on Amazon Prime. 3 months and 200 episodes later I’m finally done with the series.

One thing I felt right off the bat is that the first 7 seasons with Steve Carell and the final 2 without him feel like different shows to me. That is not to say that the last 2 seasons are bad. It all comes down to how much of a show-stealer his character was. His absence in the last 2 allowed the others to shine a bit more. When I think about the show this is what felt like the essence of the show was to me.

  • Michael Scott and his general buffoonery and cringe worthy behaviour, countered by his a strong emotional side. Steve Carell plays both these aspects extraordinarily well.
  • His linguistic gaffes. I will never forget the  “Our balls are now in your court” one.
  • The unexpectedly affecting relationship between Pam and Michael. The fact that she really cared for him throughout the series even though he once made a pass at her. So, it was great to see the silent interaction between them in their final scene together.
  • Michael and Holly’s relationship. As far as TV series proposals his proposal to Holly was one of the strangest and sweetest ones, I have ever seen. But they made it work in the way only those two could possibly pull off.
  • Jim’s legendary pranks. It started with the simple stapler in Jello one but as time went on they just upped the ante. The one where Dwight was made to believe he was giving an actual TV interview in the final season is bonkers. The way it escalated from a TV interview to a hostage situation that they made Dwight believe he resolved is a masterpiece of TV writing.
  • The relationships that they have with each other all start of casually. But we see all of them go through some very real and painful challenges over the course of the series. For the mockumentary style that they were going for they managed to go much deeper than I expected when it came to be exploring the relationships.
  • While Andy initially seemed like he was going to be a one note character when he was introduced, he was the one who evolved the most right through to his sad end. A special mention to the song that he plays before he leaves the office.
  • Dwight. The life and the soul of the show and a perfect complement to Jim as his victim, Michael as his obsessive mentor and the only romantic interest that would actually ever work with Angela . The only way to describe his talent is the way he made weirdness seem so entertaining.
  • For someone who has never watched a show that is built around a good number of cringe worthy moments Jim’s reactions to these moments were what I felt were his greatest skills. The pranks were amazing too, but I would attribute those more to the writers than him. And he went on to direct a little masterpiece called “The Quiet Place”

Did I miss out on what can be considered a legitimate cultural phenomenon all these years. Oh Yeah

“That’s what she said” 😉

For all those of you who are getting nostalgic about the series there is a new podcast airing by the actresses who played Pam and Angela called The Office Ladies. Check it out. It’s a great fix if you have been missing the show

Baroda Museum and Picture Gallery

When I visit a city for the first time, I always make sure to visit at least one museum. It was the last day of a short 4 day trip to Baroda and I took a solo trip to the Sayaji garden that houses both a zoo and the Baroda Museum and Picture gallery.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect on the inside but the building housing the museum with its brick facade was an inviting sight. Its size on the outside seemed normal but actually browsing through entire collection can take quite a while. It is housed on both the ground and first floors with an unexpected surprise in the basement.

For the minuscule sum of Rs 10, I wasn’t really expecting much but at the end of my 2-hour visit I was genuinely impressed by what the museum had to offer. The collection of artefacts, paintings, geological and biological specimens was vast and spanned several different cultures and time periods.

The only unfortunate aspect of it was the poor lighting that was maintained throughout the museum. It prevented me from seeing its most exquisite artefacts and paintings in detail. I found myself squinting often when I stood in front of so many of its displays. Whether this was intentional to prevent damage to the elements or a budgetary issue remains unknown to me. It was a shame nonetheless because they had some truly outstanding items on display.

This includes not just genuine items that have been acquired over the years, but reproductions based on original items as well. In the reproductions, a special mention must go the European section which had a reproduction of statues by the great Italian masters.

The most incredible sight for me though was in the Egyptian section which houses a real mummy. It was extremely well preserved and fascinating to study up close. When I looked up on it later, I learnt that Sayajirao Gaekwad III, the ruler of the city of Gujarat, bought this mummy from a museum in New York in 1895.

There was one more surprise waiting for me just before the exit. A small set of stairs leads you to a dimly lit basement area that houses a 72 feet long skeleton of a blue whale. A slow walk around it gave me genuine chills. The bones have been mounted next to those of a giraffe as well just to give you a better sense of scale. It was a perfect way to end my museum visit and it changed my perception of how good a museum in India can be.

If you are a fan of museums this one is a must-visit. Excusing the poor upkeep, its collection is one of the best I have seen even compared to museums outside of the country

Photography is not permitted inside the museum

Seadregor Mageblood

Seadregor Mageblood. The name drew puzzled expressions from strangers everywhere he travelled. Yet his face remained impassive never betraying any emotions. The cold calculating stare he perpetually maintained caused even the most inquisitive to swallow any words they might have directed towards him. A cold winter morning found Seadregor walking on the cool sand, the scent of the sea overcoming him at every step. He felt invigorated and purposeful and it also brought forth a memory from his past.

A hundred years before this day when he was only an elf of five years, he was hobbling along the path from the spring to his dwelling in the trees, carrying with him a water-filled urn. It was time to water his Cedar sapling and his pheasant who accompanied him everywhere sat calmly on his shoulder. His forest homeland of Mirkwood was a lonely place and he had little companionship to speak off in his younger years. For as long as he had known it was only him, his birth parents and the wilderness. He had been outside the forest occasionally and seen creatures of different races. They meant nothing to him. The wildlife and the forest they inhabited were all that he cared for.

The seed of the cedar was a gift to him from his parents. He nurtured it like a child making sure to caress and water it over time. On this particular day, he was alone as his parents were away on one of their frequent excursions beyond the borders of Mirkwood. A butterfly fluttered away as he began pouring the water gently over the cedar. He heard a few parakeets shrieking in the distance. A few moments later they emerged through the foliage, the resulting cacophony causing his ears to perk up. Something had disturbed the calm of the forest. Wild horses running through the forest sometimes caused this. He listened intently and made out presently the sound of several sets of hooves racing through the forest. Something was different though. Their distinctive sound told him that these were domesticated horses with shoes fitted onto them which meant humans were riding them.

The horses were getting closer but he heard a different sound now, that of branches cracking along with a rhythmic thudding sound that seemed to be heading straight towards him. A few moments later through the fog, a troll emerged. Seadregor heart began racing but he remained rooted to his spot looking up at the creature with a mixture of awe and trepidation as it continued moving in his direction. A few moments later as he continued watching it the troll simply passed over him leaving a trail of dust and a fetid odour in its wake. The horses he could tell now were only a few paces behind. He snapped out of his reverie and moved instinctively to the front of the sapling. He would never let anything happen to his cedar.

As he waited with bated breath, a dozen or so humans came riding through with spears and javelins clearly intent on taking down the troll. The presence of Seadregor distracted them but they showed no signs of slowing down. He closed his eyes and braced himself. Just when he thought his world was about to end he felt pulled sideways violently, through a short distance before he landed hard on the ground. Everything went dark. He awoke to feel water on his face and the sight of a wizened wizard looking down on him. He stood himself up trying to get his bearings. Dust hovered in the air around him. He ran back towards his sapling only to find its trampled remains. His pheasant lay on the ground feet upwards struggling to turn upright. He picked her up and caressed her gently until she let out her last breath. He felt the wizards bony hands gently grasp his shoulder as tears streamed down his face.

In a few fleeting moments of inter-racial conflict, Seadregor had lost the things that were dearest to him. For Seadregor the age of innocence had ended. For Mirkwood, it was the beginning of the end. Humans had discovered this virgin paradise and there would be no place for him in it anymore. The wizard had led him away and cared for him in his younger years. Till the end of his days, he trained Seadregor in both the skills of weaponry and the arcane. He adopted the second name of Mageblood in honour of the wizard who had saved his life. Seadregor never saw his parents again and was not to return to Mirkwood for many years. This incident from his childhood had only led him to follow one purpose in life. With the divine Melora as his witness and guide, he vowed to silently and swiftly eliminate anything that tried to harm the elements of nature again.

Darkness Before Light

A boy with a parrot on his shoulder was walking along the railway tracks. Before he found himself in this strange place he had begun his day like any other waking up to the sound of his parrot squawking in his ear. After completing the usual getting out of bed formalities he set off with the singular objective of reaching the Grand Central Aerostation before 7 a.m. He stepped outside to see the overhead Skydome appear clear and bright. A few minutes of brisk walking brought him to the station just in time to hear the pleasant female voice announce that the next Skyship to Chennaiki was about to depart. Several hundred people were milling about in the cavernous main hall of the station. He went to the familiar North – East corner where his food shop was located. Several thousand years after the cavemen had arrived the one constant that defined humanity was its insatiable appetite. He looked into the security panel that scanned his iris to disable the physical barrier that secured his tiny shop. He thought to himself that when he could afford it he would upgrade his security to the DNA enhanced one. He activated the automated cleaner and sat down to do business. Ruski his parrot flapped her wings and flew out of his shop as she was want to on a slow day. The day dragged on until it was time for lunch. Even though he sold food he always ate home-cooked food as a custom. It was also time for Ruski to feed on her corn. It had been an unusually long while since she had flown away. He flicked on his electronic display to ascertain where Ruski was with the help of her radio tracker. It indicated that she was just outside the entrance to the station. He would have to go fetch her. He set the shop to Away mode. It faded from view with the message “WILL BE RIGHT BACK” projected into the air in front of it. He made his way through the densely populated station towards its entrance. He could see Ruski perched on a branch of the ancient oak that he always imagined being a solemn & sombre guardian of the station. He called out her name hoping to avoid stepping through the giant security frame which he had never grown comfortable with. However, she seemed oblivious to any sound whatsoever and remained focused on pecking at something too small for him to perceive from where he stood. He took out his World Identity card which he would have to swipe at the entrance on reentering the station. He walked out of the station, hunger signals plaguing his brain at every step.

He heard a sparking sound followed by a distant boom. He looked up towards Ruski again and the Skydome began fading to black extinguishing all light with it. The world around him was plunged into darkness. All worldly sounds stopped. He could only hear himself breathe. He closed his eyes unable to process this abrupt change. Was it real? It would surely go away when he opened his eyes. He heard someone calling out his name. He opened his eyes to brilliant sunlight filtering through the oak tree. It took a few moments to adjust to the light and to subsequently realize that it was Ruski who had been calling out his name. For the better part of a decade, he had been trying to make her talk and yet only at this inexplicable moment of his life, she chose to speak. He called out her name. She responded by saying “How are you doing, ‘Omar’?” and proceeding to settle on his shoulder. He looked around him. He saw two horses tied to a strange contraption with wheels arriving towards him. He had seen one of these animals as a child in the animatronic centre several years ago. They seemed like noble and majestic creatures then. Now they just seemed aggressive and unruly and he moved away from their path. He turned around to see the entrance to the station. It looked as it usually did with the exception of the giant security frame that usually adorned its entrance. He stepped into the station unhindered by human being or machine. People in strange attire strolled about leisurely. It was strange to see so few people at this hour at Grand Central and moving at such a slow pace too. Didn’t they realize how much they would have to struggle to avoid standing in the Skyships? He headed towards the North-East corner of the main hall hoping that getting back to his shop would put everything back in perspective. When he reached there, however, he saw that where his shop should have been there was nothing but a stranger sitting with a sizable quantity of footwear spread on a piece of cloth. He appeared to be beckoning prospective customers as they passed by bellowing loudly the price of a pair. To Omar, it seemed he was insulting them and yet almost none took any heed of him. He went up to him and asked: “Where did my food shop go?” .The man looked at him with a quizzical expression before simply saying “Where in the world do they dress as you do? I would love to sell that stuff here”. Omar looked at himself. He was wearing a regular all-weather one-piece suit. It was the most popular attire among the commoners. Omar shrugged and walked away comforted by the fact that the people here spoke the same language.

He heard a female voice announce “The train to Chenna will arrive on platform No 8 in 15 minutes”. Fifteen Minutes he thought. Skyships arriving at the station were only announced a few seconds before their arrival. The people here seemed to have a lot of time on their hands. He tried to spot this machine that was called a train by walking further into the station. He noticed that there were several sets of strange metallic lines that ran along the ground. They stretched on endlessly as far as the eye could see. He made up his mind to follow these lines hoping that they would lead to some familiar place. He set off at a steady pace trying to remain oblivious to all the out of the ordinary objects that were spread throughout this world. He didn’t realize that Ruski had flown off his shoulder. His train of thought was suddenly interrupted by a loud continuous whistling sound. It seemed to get closer to him with every step he took. Unmindful of it however he pressed on. A few moments later he could no longer ignore it and started to turn around. Before he could he found himself bodily pushed sideways with considerable force. He lost his footing and fell face-first onto the adjacent set of metallic lines just as a giant metal machine rolled by with considerable speed on the same set of lines he had been walking along. The wind generated by the machine as it passed by caused his neatly coiffed hair to lose structure instantly. He lay on the ground paralyzed as he just watched the worm-like machine for the few seconds it took to completely pass him by. It took him a few moments to regain his bearings and sit up. It was only then that he noticed a girl his age standing next to him. Unlike the other people at the station, she looked at him with a sense of familiarity. Ruski hovered into view and perched on her shoulder saying “Careless Omar! Careless Omar!” Ruski failing to learn to talk until now was probably a good thing he thought. She offered him a hand but he stood himself up with some effort. She moved sideways off the lines and onto some regular ground. He found himself following her on his still unsteady legs. He decided that he had to talk to her. The metallic lines were getting him nowhere & she seemed familiar though he couldn’t quite place her. Before he could ask her anything she said: “So were you going to take the Skybus to Chennaiki before you came here?” He was taken aback. A normal question in an unfamiliar place. The answer was simple yet he replied after a considerable pause. “No, I own the fast-food stall at the corner of Grand Central”. “Oh that shop which always seems to be on Away mode”. He felt indignation welling up inside. But he stymied his words. She was the only one who would probably be able to explain his current predicament. How did you end up here she asked. To this, he had no answer. He explained vaguely the events of the morning. She nodded her head when he spoke and at the conclusion of his tale let out a sigh. This reaction disappointed him immensely. He finally burst out. “Tell me, tell me everything you know and tell me how I can get back. Lunch hour is the best time for business”. She looked at him with a bleak expression. “Why are you so eager to get back? Aren’t you curious about this place?”

He said “Sure I am. My first few minutes here and I almost get run over by a metallic worm. I’d love to come back some other time. But right now my livelihood is at stake”. “OK, Follow me,” she said. “Wait, what’s your name?” he asked. “It’s Romana, and I know a little something about you too. Your parrot told me.” He followed her as she led him across a nearby field until she stopped in front of a little door. Romana had abundant hair that bounced off her shoulders as she ran. When she stopped he noticed that a part of her hair was moving by itself. He stood staring at the back of her head with a vacant expression until he saw a little chameleon pop it’s tiny head out. He was about to warn Romana when her hand reached out behind her head and the chameleon jumped onto it. “Don’t be alarmed. That’s my pet, Hector”. He heard a tiny squeaking voice say “where’d you find this one?” It wasn’t Ruski, it wasn’t the girl. “Your chameleon can talk?” “Sure here every animal can talk,” she said. “Oh, so Ruski is still a failure”. “Hey, I heard that!!” Ruski squawked. The door before them seemed to lead into a room that was below the ground. She opened the door. “It’s dark in here. I don’t wanna take another tumble here again” he said. “The darkness is important. Hold my hand if you are afraid” she said as she closed the door behind them. She led him down deeper until the darkness was absolute.

“Now close your eyes, tell your parrot where you want to go and count to three”. He heard her also say “Grand Central Aerostation”. He opened his eyes to the familiar sight of the oak tree and the sound of Ruski’s squawking. He was still holding Romana’s hand. He let go and raced forward into the station. It was still lunchtime. The station seemed more chaotic than usual. He heard someone say “They are saying electrical problems caused the Skydome to go down for an entire minute”. Romana had caught up with him. He turned to her and asked “Now tell me where we just came from. Did we go into the past or something?”  Romana smiled and said “I don’t know for sure if it’s the past or another world that runs parallel to ours. The only thing I do know is that it only reveals itself when our world is in darkness and only an animal you are connected to can lead you there”