Friday, 30 December, 2011

Don ko pakadna mushkil hi nahin, namumkin hai! Don 2 reviewed

It has become fashionable to dislike shahrukh khan. The man who could get a billion hearts (yes, the men's too) racing is now so often slammed. Aamir is the greater actor. Salman does his own thing on screen. And SRK is undoubtedly the biggest superstar whose initial is not B. Which is the thing about him that is so awesome. That he knows what he has become. And is arrogantly unapologetic about it.

You gotta love arrogance. Especially in the role of the greatest criminal there ever was, Don! SRK almost single handedly carries the 2.5 hours on his shoulders with fabulous actors like Boman Irani and Priyanka Chopra failing to shine through. Don is cocky, don is arrogant and don is himself..not just a shadow of the man played by Bacchhan.

The film is slick, well edited and directed well like is now expected out of Farhan. The action sequences are real, even the ones where Priyanka fights don't look awkward.



The actors as mentioned above fail to shine through though. Save for 2. Kunal Kapoor gives a great performance and Lara Dutta looks almost delectable in the theme song.

Don't expect a national award film here. Expect a full entertainer and you shall not come back disappointed.

Rating: 3.5 on 5
Paisa wasool dialogue: Roma meri ek buri aadat ban chuki hai, chooth ti hi nahin!

posted from Bloggeroid

Sunday, 25 December, 2011

Jingle bells all the way!

Merry Christmas you beautiful people! There is something so contagious about this festival. Most of us have no idea of its significance yet we love to celebrate it.

Sipping hot tea in 3°C, Christmas brings a smile to my face. For the years that have gone by. Thanks Santa for always keeping my stockings full..even when i refused to grow up.



My fav Christmas memory is in college. In a city as un-Christmasy as it gets, Ahmedabad, me and my enthu friends decide to spread some joy. So we get our red outfits out, buy tons of sweets and start giving them out to random kids on CG road. What was surprising is that we actually had to convince most to take them from us..people just couldn't understand what came over us :)

I love the fact that I can now create this magic in my doll, my chotu, my sonu's life. I can spark her dreams and wonderment.

Ho ho ho you all. Merry Christmas. Tell those you love that you love them. What use is love if it not be told?

posted from Bloggeroid

Sunday, 18 December, 2011

Shooting star

Don't chase a shooting star,
An illusion it be
The blazing trail
Fools all but me

Neither warmth it doth give
Nor lasting light
But the hope it awakens
In your heart
Just keeps you awake at night

I saw I saw a shooting star
It was so very near
My closed eyes that made a wish
Opened and it disappeared

My heart felt it would return
It would light my path
But the nights drew long and cold
After it doth depart

I only trust the rising Sun
As hot as it may be
Atleast it warms my heart
And be there for all to see

Don't chase a shooting star,
An illusion it be
The blazing trail
Fools all but me

posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, 15 December, 2011

Hilton buffet in Mayur Vihar- a pleasant surprise

The world of online coupons and discount deals allow poor writers like me to experience the luxuries of dining in the best places! A similar coupon and an occasion to celebrate took us to Infinity- The coffee shop at the new Hilton in mayur vihar, located literally behind my house!



The buffet spread though not as extensive as the one at Park Plaza, my favourite, was not frugal either. Each dish in the spread was well thought through and distinct. What was even more exciting was that there was a great representation of all meats.

The salad section had ten odd options both in Veg and non Veg. Of note were the sea food salad with prawns and calamari tossed in a creamy mustard dressing and the fabulous smoked salmon. Also interesting was that vessel for tossing the Caesar salad was actually a huge slab of brie cheese. Such an innovative concept!



The chicken in red wine jus and grilled fish were ok, but the prize went to the prawns in butter garlic sauce. No matter how many times i have this dish, i just can't tire of it. Another surprise was the tenderloin in rosemary jus. The meat was soft, succulent and juicy- just like it should be. I did not even bother with the Indian fare after this, though the palak gosht and chicken do pyaza would not have disappointed.

What did disappoint though were the selection of deserts. An anti climax if there ever was one! Terribly limited choice and none to write home about. Save your appetite for the main course!

All in all, a great evening of dining and no whining. A must do at the discounted rate!

Meal for 2- Rack rate Rs.1050 per person.
Rating- 7 on 10

posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, 8 December, 2011

Wisdom heard in the most unlikely places

Heard on Oprah Winfrey:

"Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different".


Jerry springer show:

"You fight to defend a lover, not to win one. If you do, it ain't love"!


Patch Adams

"I love you without knowing how, why, or even from where…" 


Wonder Years

"All our young lives we search for someone to love, someone who makes us complete. We chose partners and change partners. 

We dance to a song of heartbreak and hope all the while wondering if somewhere and somehow there is someone searching for us." 

posted from Bloggeroid

Sunday, 4 December, 2011

Muskuraeeye- aap Lucknow mein hain!

You can get to know the heartbeat of a place in an instant by eating the local food. And the perfect way to find out a great place to eat is to ask your auto wala for the city's best. Which is what we did yesterday in Lucknow. And he brought us to awadh biryani near dainik jagran. I believe i shall be truly grateful to him forever.

From outside it may seem like a hole in the wall but the aromas will pull you in. We practically ate everything on the menu and its practically impossible to pick a favourite.

The kaleji was tossed with masalas and green chilies and was cooked just perfectly. Boti kabab was in a little gravy unlike the Delhi version of it but packed the same punch. The korma was even better than karim if i do say so myself. And the paranthas accompanying them were soft and flaky.

And the icing on the cake was the chicken biryani with rice so well seasoned that each bite was an explosion of flavors. Everything was devoured within a few seconds of hitting the table! And we practically had to be airlifted out of there after eating so much. But just the memory of it makes me hungry again!

The damage? Rs.800 for 9 people. I say if you don't have any weekend plans, book your flight tickets now! So worth it!

posted from Bloggeroid

Monday, 28 November, 2011

Just a number

We are so fond of valuing things by their numerical value. Turning a teenager is such a milestone..birthdays such an event. Silver, gold, paper anniversary. 5 years in a company that earns gratuity..

Someone once said- its not the number of years in my life that are important, its the life in those years. Couldn't have said it better myself.

It doesn't matter if you are 20years old or 30 as long as you wake up each morning looking forward to the day. A decade long relationship is worth holding close only if both of you still pine for each other and can't imagine a life without, else its just a habit. Friendships may be 20years old or just a few days, if they warm your heart, they're worth investing in.

Don't live your life by numbers. Take each day as a new one. And try to fill your years with life and your life with love. Not because you're expected to or have to or must. But because you want to.

Wednesday, 16 November, 2011

Restaurant Review - Gung Ho about Korean food!!!

It says quite a lot when I have an article published on Friday and I couldn't find the time till 5 days later to put it here on my blog!

A restaurant review of an interesting Korean place I and a friend discovered in Green Park called Gung - the Palace.

Read the review here.


The server grilling the Pork belly on our table itself!


Wednesday, 9 November, 2011

Raison d’etre

You find strength in the strangest places. Sometimes you find it in a friend, sometimes in a love and often within yourself. But today when I was down and out, I found it in the least unlikely place. In the touch of a little person who can not even speak yet.

I woke up missing the twinkle in my eye. Without the strength to look for it, I would have just let it go. But then you woke up. And looked at me with twinkles in yours. Telling me, that you had spares for when I lost mine! Your smile at my mere presence, an unexpected kiss, a warm cuddle. All gave me renewed meaning.

My Munchkin, my Sonu, thanks for giving me back my reason to be.

Sunday, 6 November, 2011

Don’t kill the messenger

 It’s funny, the higher you climb the ladder of economic prosperity, the more you are scared of falling flat. We teach our children that you can not clean your room by throwing all the clothes in a closet and sweeping the dust under the carpet. Someone (namely mommy) is going to open the doors to check and when the stuff comes tumbling down, all hell will break loose.

Then how come people as evolved and mature (!?!) as elected leaders in a government forget this basic value? In their race to gain political mileage, they sweep all their dirty work under the carpet and hope that it will never be found.

And then came along Assange, the big mommy!! His little operation called Wiki Leaks went and checked under all carpets, opened all the closets and even checked behind their ears. And governments far and wide shivered where they sat. The big bully Uncle Sam went to the extent of shouting foul and allegedly planting a CIA agent in Sweden to have sex with Assange without a condom. Unfortunately for Assange, the country in question qualifies that with rape, even if it was a mutually agreeable act. Even more unfortunate (and clever on Uncle Sam’s part) is that the country has no system of bail and has no time limit for detention.

Yes, go ahead, extradite him. Harass him in this mindless court case. But you’re missing the point. He is one man. And he made you squirm. He exposed secrets that you were trying to hide. If Rajiv Gandhi has an enormous corpus in the Swiss banks, as a citizen of the country where that money was taken from, I have a right to know. Similarly, if I were American, I would be very interested in knowing the true dealings of my government behind the facade.

But as I said, he is one man. It is not the person Assange you need to worry about but the concept Assange. This was apparent the day he went fleeing and America tried to block Wiki Leak urls. People from all over the world kept shifting the site to keep the spirit alive. And alive it shall remain. Sometimes it takes an Anna Hazare, sometimes a Julian Assange and sometimes just you and me. But someone’s got to keep questioning, else we run the risk of becoming mere puppets.

I don’t know you as a person Assange. But I salute your spirit and motivation.

Tuesday, 1 November, 2011

Are you listening??


To the following commercial institutions, if you were wondering where you are going wrong, here are some tips:

1) Beauty Parlours: If I have come for a hair cut or blow dry, please do NOT tell me what else is wrong with my hair/ skin/ scalp and what (expensive) products I should buy from you to sort it out!

2)  Clubs and Discs: If your DJ must insist on playing only house music that just goes dhik chik dhik chik and your dance floor is empty, take a cue and put songs that may have some LYRICS in them!!! I say, go the whole hog, play chammak challo and see how fast your floor fills up. If your DJ is too cool to play these, I say sack him and play a CD!!

3) Hospitals: If I have come to your doors, it means I am already hassled and worried. Please do NOT make me sign 100 forms, buy your loyalty card, make a file and only then allow me to see a doctor. 

4) Coffee Shops: I know you need to upsell, but I believe your margins are large enough. I really don’t want added flavours/ ice cream/ hazelnut shots in my coffee. I want a plain cup of coffee.

5) Shops: You may be over staffed, but please don’t follow me like a shadow. I will ask for help when I need it and I really won’t shop lift!! 

Phew!!

Tuesday, 25 October, 2011

Life goes on

When you wear your heart on your sleeve, it runs the risk of falling off and being run over. You should hide it, keep it under wraps and not let anyone peek through the facade.

I do not make friends very often or open myself up to someone easily. But when I do, there is no holding back. I love, respect and cherish my friendships. But when the spider called time spins layers and layers of webs over our day to day lives, we often lose sight of people who stand by us.

Life is a choice. Every decision we make is a conscious choice of what we choose and at the cost of what. There are people who have over time retained my place in their heart and to them I am grateful and I try my best to hold dear. And there are people who became so wrapped up in their lives that they did not notice when the door to our friendship quietly shut. I don’t hold anything against them either. It is a choice they are entitled to, and made. It may seem to me at this point of time that I have wasted my love for them over a decade of my life, but that was a choice I made too.

And now I choose to forget. To shut doors and turn towards the open ones. To open new doors and cherish those to whom I mean something. Whose lives would be incomplete without me, like mine would be without them!  

Friday, 21 October, 2011

Travelogue - Roadtrip through Spain & Portugal

Roadtrip through Spain and Portugal with a 5 month old infant! It takes 7 pieces of luggage and a huge leap of faith. We figured early on in our parenthood that a baby adjusts to the kind of lifestyle you expose her to. Thus, my lil Sonu came with me on shopping trips to the mall when she was merely 6 weeks old and loved accompanying us to restaurants since she was just a month!

Rediff consolidated 2 articles of mine, the first a travelogue on Spain and Portugal and the second Handy tips on how to travel with infants. The second, I believe is very useful for new parents. It is now the last 2 slides of this article.

Please read the article here.

Wednesday, 19 October, 2011

Tanha

Javed Akhtar touches the soul....the title track of a Pakistani show I used to watch when I was a kid - "Tanha". Lyrics below.


dekhiye to lagta hai,
zindagi ki raahon mein,
ek bheed chalti hai.
sochiye to lagta hai,
bheed mein hain sab tanha.

jitne bhi yeh rishte hain,
kaanch ke khilone hain,
pal mein toot sakte hain..
ek pal mein ho jaaye,
koi jaane kab tanha.

dekhiye to lagta hai,
jaise yeh jo duniya hai,
kitni rangeen mehfil hai,
sochiye to lagta hai,
kitna gam hai duniya mein,
kitna zakhmi har dil hai..

woh jo muskuraate the,
jo kisi ko khwaabon mein,
apne pass paate the..
unki neend tooti hai..
aur hain woh ab tanha.

dekhiye toh lagta hai
zindagi ki raahon mein
ek bheed chalti hai
sochiye toh lagta hai
bheed mein hain sab tanha

Monday, 17 October, 2011

Mamma

 

Mummaaa….two lil syllables. But when they left your little lips, they could have been a song straight from heaven. When you looked at me and babbled mumma…you tore my heart up! It gave reason to the endless struggle, served as a memory modification charm as I forget the long days and endless nights I work so hard to keep you safe, happy and content.

When you rub your upturned nose on mine and smile like I am the most precious thing on earth, you give me purpose. When I feel down and out, all I need to do is look at you and know that to you, I am the world! I will spend my entire life making sure that your eyes always twinkle with mischief…and that I am always there when you stumble.

When I was working and I was asked the famous question – what is your goal in life or where do you see yourself 10 years from now, I often disappointed them with non-corporate answers about how I would be living in the hills, writing for a living and loving my children to death! The truth is that if someone asked me that now, my answer would probably be the same minus the hills (though I wish that part were true too)! I love the fact that I write professionally now…and my appraisals are not annual but daily when you wake up in the morning and smile at me telling me that you still love me! I pass with flying colours! My annual bonus may not hit the bank but the first time you crawled, when you ate your first food, your first smile and your the first time you called me mumma 2 days back….make me feel that I am the luckiest person in the whole world!

I love you. Thank you for bringing technocolour into my life! 

Monday, 10 October, 2011

A Tribute to Jagjit Singh


A very sad day. The man who's ghazals would personify one's tears or smiles...himself passes away today. My all time favourite ghazal, sung by Jagjit and Chitra...


"Jab aankh se hi na tapka to phir lahoo kya hai....."

Saturday, 8 October, 2011

An obituary for a great man–Steve Jobs. Live Before You Die.

The world has lost a genius this week. A couple of years back, I wrote an obituary for another genius, Michael Jackson. As shocking his demise was, the sudden passing away of Steve Jobs has affected the world in a similar manner.

The man was known to be a design genius and responsible for bringing to the world (ok, elite world) beauty and humour in technology. The iMac is truly a gorgeous piece of art, the iPod revolutionized how one listens to music and the iPhone brought beauty to phones in a world where ugly Nokias were winning(before everyone started making gorgeous touch screens)! Pixar studios made kids out of adults by giving us some of the most vivid animated films we have ever seen!

The contrarian view in my life suggests that the man could perhaps be overrated and a case of fabulous branding. The technological leaps he introduced were obviously the product of toil of very able teams who never came into the limelight. Thus, would it be fair to put him in the same league as  Einstein?

As a great (and very hot) man once said “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn”. I am not an apple fan and though I respect the phenomenal brand positioning of its products, I prefer my android phone, windows 8 and fail to see the purpose of owning an iPad as it can’t replace my phone or my laptop! Having said that, I hold the man in very very high regard. For his philosophy in life and his thought processes…and the clarity in them. Only a person who has passed through great times of adversity reaches such clarity (unless ofcourse you’re born with it like me)!!

I made my career choices to make sense of my education for 5 years. I was trying to connect the dots going forward. If only I had gathered my courage earlier and been inspired sooner, my decisions may have been made earlier than they were. Having left my rewarding marketing career 1.5 years back, I have no regrets. Because I now see everything in retrospect. My writing this blog since 5 years, my writing for Rediff on Food and Travel, the draft of my book…it all fits in now. I can see the dots connecting as I look back. Steve in his ever popular speech suggested…do what you love to do, if you haven’t found it yet, keep looking…don’t settle. And find a way of making money off it. The money I earn now may be peanuts in comparison to before, but it gives me far more satisfaction than the extra 0 in my monthly bank statement did!

And thus, a month after I read this, I quit my job to focus my energies on what I truly wanted to do. Write. My fav part of his speech – “Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

R.I.P. Steve. You inspired millions and you helped me find the courage to follow my heart. My thoughts are with your family who shall miss you the most.

 

If you haven’t read the gazillion forwards with his speech, you can read it here.

Tuesday, 4 October, 2011

In retrospect!

I wish I were a baby. I could sleep when I wanted and play when I rather be awake. If I were hungry, all I had to do was let out a wail and food would be presented to me. Dont like the taste, no worries, let me refuse this and wait for something new to be prepared! Everyone would look at me as if I were the most beautiful thing on earth and clap their hands in delight if I did as much as bother to look them in the eye and smile!

Before a tear would drop from my eyes, there would be hands to brush it away and hold me close. If I felt lonely even in the middle of the night, someone would wake from the deepest slumber and cuddle me till I was alright. I could hit out at with my tiny fists  towards whomever I wanted, look away when spoken to and not be reprimanded.

When someone would come after a long day, all I had to do was look at the person and they would indulge me for hours, cooing their stresses away. Every taste I tried would be new, every experience fresh! I could sit on my seat and I would be wheeled around happily by everyone for hours.

I would be protected from the evils of the world. Even before I fell, hands would reach out to cushion me. I wouldn't have to try to please people, somehow my presence would be enough to do that! I would not be alone or lonely even for a moment!

I wish I were a baby.  

Tuesday, 27 September, 2011

Recipes for you to feast on this Navratri


The mention of Navratri for me brings back memories of college days in Ahmedabad. Dressing up in traditional finery, all friends piling into one car and going to Garbha nights to dance the night away! Though the dancing is most fun in Gujarat, you can have your bit of fun this Navratri by throwing a party and serving up delicious fare. The best part about the festival is that the fast doesn’t mean that you need to starve. Just use different ingredients and it is literally time to feast!!


My latest article on Rediff suggests quick and easy recipes for Navratri. Read the article here.  

Friday, 23 September, 2011

Second Careers


In today's crazy corporate life, it is inevitable that one's career will end way sooner than you imagined. It is only a few smart people who realise this and take proactive steps to ensure a second career in the area of their interest.

My latest article on Rediff talks about second careers and how to make that switch. Read it here

Monday, 19 September, 2011

The Mediterranean Food Trail


In a continent known for its range of delicious cuisines and countries known for their mediterranean influences, my foodie expectation from Spain and Portugal ran high. 15 days of tasting local fare and noting the subtle differences between the tastes as you move farther south was an experience in itself.

Madrid, being the capital, served fabulous food. Cosmopolitan and more suited to touristy tastes, Madrid had something for everyone. The Paella here (the famous local rice dish usually made with seafood) failed to impress. A little too dry and the sea food staring at us (literally) in the face was a bit much. We also tried the Gaellic Octopus stew (full marks for courage) at Maceiras and though we washed it down with Sangria, it is safe to say that it is a taste I don't miss. As we were staying at the Westin near Huertas, we did venture into the Writer's District and had some fabulous Pasta. But our best meal in Madrid (besides the multicourse meal in Westin) was at a local restaurant called El Rincon de Jaen 2 near the Bullfighting ring. R's Spanish friend took us there and finally we experienced the spanish experience of getting free food for every 2 drinks we ordered. A word of caution - if you order the platter of fried sea food, it may have some creatures that you just dont want to see in their complete form let alone bite their heads. Another great experience was drinks and tapas near the Plaza Manor in a popular Tapas bar called Casa Labra where the fried fish was absolutely divine!! And ofcourse ending our food with the very tasty Churros (fried flour sticks dipped in molten chocolate) at the 19th Century Chocolateria San Gines.  

Clockwise from top right - Paella, Chorizzo & Mushrooms in Butter Garic; Casa Labra; Tapas at Casa Labra; Churros

Paella in Granada with strange creatures


Our second stop Granada is more famed for Alhambra rather than its food. We tried the Paella here and disliked it as much as we did in Madrid but we also discovered that the Spanish do a great plate of Croquettes, breaded and fried rolls of minced meat. With an apartment of our own in Granada, we managed to have most of our meals at home and frankly, the packaged Haldiram Dal Makhani with Tortillas was like a breath of air to a drowining man!!

 


Seville thankfully changed our minds about Spanish Food. By far the most superior city of the 3 in terms of food, the Sangria here reigned supreme as well. We discovered that we liked the lime flavoured Sangria a tad more than the one made with Apples. Walking around the tiny cobbled lanes of Seville had a charm of its own. We would often sit at a cafe on the sidewalk to sip something or just have a Gelato. Thankfully, our apartment was quite close to the Cathedral and Bullring so we walked most of the time.

But our best culinary experience (probably in the entire trip) was at a famous Tapas bar called Bodegas Castaneda. With only standing room available, they changed our mind about Paella with the sumptuous Chicken Paella and won our hearts with endless plates of free food and very animated bartenders.

The food in Portugal was more about grilled meats with crispy skin soaked in jus. The suckling pig was fabulous and the grilled prawns succulent. But the accompanying Piri Piri sauce was just a very very spicy olive oil - nothing like the fabulous Piri Piri we get at Big Chill. And yes, dont even bother trying the white sangria. Its like liquid crocin.

Crispy chicken with piri piri

All in all, its good to be back home! To kick up my tired feet and rest and to satisfy my palate craving mattar paneer, daal and chicken curry. Europe lives up to its reputation of being beautifully made and preserved. The people are elegant and the food interesting. An experience to hold dear in memories.

Thursday, 15 September, 2011

The sand, the surf and a book in my hand

If you love beaches (and even if you dont), there are few things more beautiful than waking up to french windows looking out into the ocean. There is something so calming about the sound of waves. The windows open into the swimming pools downstairs. Beyond them are cliffs that rise above the beach like warriors protecting their turf. And the beach elevator takes you down to the beach. Miles and miles of sand. Pristine waters that stretch as far as the eye can see. And beyond.

The view from our room

Portugal may seem like a poor cousin of Spain but don't be fooled. The country has a rich history and if you take the time to notice, the 2 countries are as different as Punjab and Kerala. The locals speak much more english than the Spanish. The food is more about grilled meats with crispy skin. My favourite piri piri sauce in Big Chill still reigns supreme as the original one here is just a very very spicy olive oil.

The beach

The waters of the Atlantic are cold and the beach grainy. Leisurely afternoons can easily be spent lounging around on the sunbeds on the beach, not unlike Goa. But the magic of Lakshadweep's sands and waters it has not. They remain for me (as of now) the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen.

Gorgeous Atlantic Sunset from our balcony

The Sheraton property is lovely and sprawled over cliffs. A 9 hole golf range and several tennis courts and swimming pools do their bit to keep one busy. Albufeira was a much required break in our crazy roadtrip stuffed with sightseeing and running around. It seems like we just pressed the pause button for 2 days. Refreshed, we are off today to see the Fairytale castles of Sintra and then onward to Lisbon.

Adios Amigos.

Sangria and Tapas anyone?

Wednesday, 14 September, 2011

Bullfighting in Seville


I want to write this down lest I forget how I felt and with what intensity. I am the kind of person who can barely watch Spartacus and did not watch 300 as I thought it to be too gory. So when we decided Seville to be part of our roadtrip route, I was in two minds whether I wanted to see a bullfight or not. But reasoning to myself that this was something I would only experience once in my lifetime, I decided to go for it. The bullring in Seville seats 14000 people and is the oldest in Spain. The fight that day was with a set of younger bulls and thus was cheaper at 35 euros per person (in the sombre tickets meaning shade versus the sunny seats) than the fight with the older ones.

The begining parade

Dot on time, the matadors marched out onto the arena in their grand finery and saluted smartly at the mayor asking his permission to begin. When he did allow, all but one left and he went and sat right in front of the gate where the bull was to charge out of, already having been wounded already to make it mad. I really do not want to give a play by play of the event, it not being for the faint hearted. But the gist of it is that 10 odd matadors repeatedly wounded the bull for 15 minutes till it was so weak that it could barely stand and then the main matador drove a sword through its heart.

The main matador shows his skill by barely moving his feet while the bull charges near him

Yes, we had the same reaction as you. It was gross. There were supposed to be 6 bulls that entered the arena, one after the other died, but after 2 we decided we just couldn't watch any more and walked out despite our ferociously expensive tickets.

That takes guts

I respect the traditions of every culture, but this sport needs to be banned. There is pure cruelty in pitting 10 people with weapons against one animal. Lets see a single matador take on a bull barehanded and then I may enjoy the spectacle. No doubt the matadors needed a lot of guts to stand in the face of death and still perform with such theatrics. And there is definitely a lot of skill involved. But for all practical purposes, this was as barbaric as people cheering in the Gladiator arena in Roman times (and yes, everytime the bull got injured, people cheered as if it were a baseball game. No, we couldnt get ourselves to).

I returned not regretting my decision as I had to experience it once to know how I felt about it. But I returned sad. At the bravado of human ego.

Sunday, 11 September, 2011

Granada - Poetry in stone


Spain may not be one of the top choices for a European vacation but it doesn't fail to charm. When you talk about Spanish tourism, besides the night life in Madrid and Barcelona, the first things that come to mind is Sangria, Paella, Bullfighting and for the more well read - Alhambra.

Olive Farms enroute to Granda

After Madrid, our second stop in Spain is Granada. A comfortable 4.5 hours drive from Madrid, Granada is located at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada range. The drive was uneventful in the begining but eventually the dry and barren landscape gave way to 200kms of olive farms. One can only stare in awe at the undulating hills with their neatly lined trees (as short as shrubs) which stretch for as far as the eye can see. Granada is home to the popular world heritage site - the Alhambra, the fort and the palaces of the Moorish Dynasty. Spain has a bloody history....the Islamic Moors who ruled the southern provinces and built beautiful cities were literally massacred and driven out by the Christian rulers.

Fairytale land of Alhambra

Alhambra is a gorgeous city built during these times. The 800 year old fort has palaces built by the Nasrid Dynasty. One may buy the cheaper Generalife tickets or splurge and get the all inclusive tickets. Your ticket will have a specific time and date for entering the Nasrid Palace and you must make sure you are at the venue atleast half an hour before that else you will not be allowed inside. Alhambra is sprawling and you will need the better part of your day if you want to explore it at leisure. We took the first tickets of the day at 8:30am (prebooked online) and were done only by 3pm. The palace itself is beautiful and built with tender loving care. The thing that struck me most having seen plenty of Mughal and Rajput palaces is the intricacy of carving all over the walls. The work is precise and beautiful. Another thing that struck me as different were the ceilings of the palaces which were made with wood vis-a-vis the marble or ornate ceilings we normally come across. The only christian palace in the complex, that of Charles was almost an eyesore in comparison but an interesting architectural plan with an outer square structure and almost a colosseum like round courtyard in the centre.


But what I shall most remember of this stunning city are the gardens (GeneralLife). Acres and acres of flowers, gardens and waterways that flow into each other, this is one place that has so many nooks and corners that you can lose yourself in. Flowers of every colour, fountains with cascading waters and a hush in the air, here is where the crowds fade away and it is just you and the Alhambra having a conversation in whispers.

Wooden ceilings in Alhambra
Absolutely exhausted after the Alhambra, we decided to take the day easy. The next day, we went out to explore the Catherdral in the city, popular for its renaissance and neo gothic structure. This is an absolutely must do in Granada. The Cathedral is built over a former mosque and the outdoor structure doesn't give a hint of the opulence that the interiors have in store. The Cathedral is absolutely breathtaking!! There is no other way to describe it. A humungous building with ceilings so high that that my neck is still aching with looking up so high, it has ornate gold artwork and paintings all over. We spent an hour just sitting in the pews and taking in the entire aura of the place. I doubt that a church more beautiful than this exists anywhere else.  

As our time in Granada comes to a close and we are off to Seville tomorrow, I shall look back at this tiny town with a smile. I will certainly not miss the cobbled stones which are a pain for taking baby strollers on but I can say for sure that Granda has the best Paella I have had till now (thankfully chicken and not seafood with octopus legs sticking out) and lip smacking Sangria. And yes, finally we discovered an amazing Tapas bar where we got a free plate of food for every 2 drinks we ordered. Considering that we ate our fill, it is safe to say that we walked out of the bar at 4pm with more than a swing in our step!!   

Wednesday, 7 September, 2011

5 days of experiencing Madrid

Languid days spent walking around the narrow streets opening up into gorgeous 17th century fountain plazas. The sun refusing to set before 9pm, evenings ideally centered around lounging in the sidewalk bars sipping on Sangria and munching Tapas. The past 4 days in Madrid could very well be summarised thus.

Our hotel, Westin Palace

Besides the protests against the government on the streets, there is not much evidence of Spain's dire economic situation. People bustle around to and fro from work and spend their evenings thronging bars till the wee hours of the morning. The windows of our gorgeGous suite at the Westin Palace overlook the Plaza Neptuno and the sweeping eye can see the parliament, the Ritz hotel and Prado museum, all across the road from the hotel. The upgrades in the hotel helped us get this amazing suite, 2 bottles of wine and a stupendously amazing lunch for 4 at the Rotunda, the stunning dome restaurant at the hotel. If you ever happen to visit the restaurant, please do order the Tenderloin with Fois Gras which literally melts in one's mouth. Thanks D for pulling this one!

Rotunda Restaurant in the hotel where we had our 3 course meal

Here are the top things we did and highly recommend you do in Madrid:

1)  Spend a day walking around exploring the Royal Palace. A beautiful 18th century structure with opulent rooms like the Throne Room and the Dining Room, the palace is the official residence of the royal family but they do not live here anymore. The ticket line gets quite long so make sure you go early. We reached there at 10am when it had just opened and did not have to wait long. The entire palace took 2 hours to take but once you enter, you need to finish the palace to get out of the building or you need to go all the way back (the rooms lead into each other).


2) Evening spent around the Plaza de la Sol, the center of town. Calle Carmen is a great walk for shopping and eventually leads into Gran Via. After you're done shopping, have dinner at any of the numerous cafes or restaurants around. And finish off your evening with Churros (a deep fried flour stick dipped in molten dark chocolate).


3) Appreciate the work of masters like Van Gogh, Monet and more at the 3 galleries in town. Prado is the most famous (free everyday from 6-8pm) but I almost died when I saw Van Goghs for real at the museo thyssen-bornemisza (entry 8euros). The Naval Museum in the same neighborhood is a great place to see how the mighty Spanish navy ruled the oceans for hundreds of years. Replicas of age old ships and real artifacts makes this a must see. It is supposed to be free but the involuntary 'donation' of 3 euros per person is the entrance fee of sorts.


4) Stroll around the HUGE El Retiro Park. With lakes and the Crystal palace inside, it can take the good part of your evening to explore it. Locals come here after work with their children to see the ducks or just for a jog!


5) Go bar hopping having a small glass of Sangria or beer at each and hopefully some free olives or tapas thrown in by them.



6) Use the metro for travelling around town. It is highly convenient and each journey costs 1.5euros. But if you take a ticket for 10 journeys, you only need to pay 9.30

7) See the historic bull fighting arena at the Metro stop Ventas called Plaza de Toros, the oldest and largest bull ring in the world.


8) Dress VERY fashionably! The spanish like to look good. The women have make up on even early in the morning and I looked like a total tourist in my shorts amongst the elegant women in slim dresses and high heels.

9) Look for bargains at the crazy El Rastro Flea Market on Sunday mornings. Reach there before 10:30am and be done by 2:30 when the 3500 stalls start shutting. I bought a gorgeous dress and some accessories from there.


As we bid adieu to Madrid tomorrow enroute to our onward journey to Granada, the city shall be remembered for its high fashion, great art and architecture and a general buzz of excitement!

Coming up in the next post - Top things to eat in Madrid and where! Watch this space for more!

Later Senor & Senoras!!

Wednesday, 31 August, 2011

Love's Secret - William Blake


Never seek to tell thy love,
Love that never told can be;
For the gentle wind does move
Silently, invisibly.

I told my love, I told my love,
I told her all my heart;
Trembling, cold, in ghastly fears,
Ah! she did depart!

Soon as she was gone from me,
A traveler came by,
Silently, invisibly
He took her with a sigh.

Tuesday, 30 August, 2011

All my bags are packed…I’m ready to go…


I’m almost standing outside the door! Finally our annual trip to foreign shores approaches. What with the recession and a pregnancy to break our routine, last year the farthest we could manage was Lakshadweep. Thankfully this time we gathered our courage (and you need tons of that to travel with an infant), packed up the little bundle and we’re off to Europe in 2 days. Spain and Portugal beckon.

Hope to catch a bull fight in Seville

This trip should be a first for many things. A first in Europe,  a continent I wish to explore at leisure. A road trip across two countries. Nyda’s first air travel and that too long distance. Lets see how she fares. And our first long vacation with her. It should be a new experience suiting your schedules to the ever changing whims of a 5 month old. We both are used to travelling light and walking around the town all day to soak in the place. Well, one thing’s for sure, we can’t travel light this time !! Her luggage is more than both of ours combined.

Moorish wonders at Alhambra

But with the angel that she is and how she’s used to strolling around in her pram while mom shops or does other stuff, I think this should be a breeze.

Fairytale castles at Sintra, Portugal

Fingers crossed. Currency purchased. Visas in order. Bassinette booked. Hola Madrid…..here we come!!!! 

Wednesday, 24 August, 2011

An open letter to the Common Man

You, the nation seem to be up in arms. And theoretically, the cause is great. Corruption is what can gnaw a society from within and make it hollow. Bit by bit, it can tear away at the moral fibre of our culture. Yet, would you, just for a moment hit the pause button and step back? Do you know what you are supporting? Is Anna a symbol of relief from the general frustration that you have from the system? And more importantly, is your frustration more to do with the ‘developing’ part of our nation than the Jan Lokpal Bill (how many of you have read it??).

As a citizen, I want to protest too.

  • I want to protest against long queues at public offices like the Passport department (which I realised is free of corruption but lacking in processes and discipline).
  • I want to protest against the thousands of SMSs and calls I get from marketers having already put my name on the Do Not Call list. But that again is a process flaw and lack of checking mechanisms.
  • I want to protest against the feeling of dread I feel when I enter a police station. Not because I have to pay them money (though corruption is rampant here and directly affecting you and me and I wish the Lokpal would take up this dept instead of the politicians) but because I feel unsafe. Which is ironical.
  • I want to protest against general hygiene standards in my country (or the lack of them). Why do you, my fellow common man seek a dustbin on your trips abroad and feel free to spit on my car in India? It is not because someone is paying you to do that, but rather because no one will fine you if you do.
  • I want to protest against bustling crowds in public transport and men staring at me like I am a public exhibit. But these are mere effects of having a population as large as ours and lack of support from you, my fellow common man who doesn’t stop the guy next to you from staring at me. 

The sentiment in your hearts is pure. But is the cause all encompassing? Political corruption is of very very little relevance to me in light of all the above. It is important, no doubt. But far less important than getting some order in the chaos of a country I love very much. Do not think for a moment that corruption does not exist in western countries. It does and at a much higher level than these penny foolish ones. Here is an interesting read about Corruption in the USA and how it affects the common man.

What I need is a couple of strong administrators who can ensure that public systems work well and efficiently. And I do not think changing the government is the answer to any given problem (do you really think the others are better administrators or lesser corrupt)? Empowering able statesmen to lead us is what our democratic system does. Let them lead us. Do a course correction for them if you feel they have strayed, but do not think that you sitting in your house can run the country better than the economists and highly capable people that you have elected.

Marching and fasting are both good for your health. Do carry on if you please. But on the side, next time you board a train with an unreserved ticket, do not try to bribe the TT to get his berth. When you jump a traffic signal, kindly do not wave a Rs.100 note at the policeman. Don’t use your ‘jugaad’ to get free tickets to the Formula 1 races coming to India and for the love of god, please do not slip a note to someone the next time you want to cut a queue. The next time you want to stop corruption, stop yourself first.

Saturday, 13 August, 2011

Ladies - smile, chill, rejoice....don't take everyone's burdens on yourself!


A very interesting article by Chetan Bhagat. Agree wholeheartedly:

“Alright, this is not cool at all. A recent survey by Nielsen has revealed that Indian women are the most stressed out in the world: 87% of our women feel stressed out most of the time. This statistic alone has caused me to stress out. Even in workaholic America, only 53% women feel stressed.

What are we doing to our women? I'm biased, but Indian women are the most beautiful in the world. As mothers, sisters, daughters, colleagues, wives and girlfriends - we love them. Can you imagine life without the ladies?


For now, i want to give Indian women five suggestions to reduce their stress levels.


One, don't ever think you are without power. Don't take brickbats from your mother-in-law. Be who you are, not someone she wished you would be. She doesn't like you? That's her problem.

Two, if you are doing a good job at work and your boss doesn't value you - tell him that, or quit. Talented, hard-working people are much in demand.


Three, educate yourself, learn skills, network - figure out ways to be economically independent. So next time your husband tells you that you are not a good enough wife, mother or daughter-in-law, you can tell him to take a hike. Or if not economically independent then let him value what you contribute to his life. Leave his house and the kids for him to take care of for a day, that should be the end of the argument!

Four, do not ever feel stressed about having a dual responsibility of family and work. It is difficult, but not impossible. The trick is not to expect an A+ in every aspect of your life. You are not taking an exam, and you frankly can't score cent per cent (unless you are in SRCC, of course). It is okay if you don't make four dishes for lunch, one can fill their stomach with one. It is okay if you don't work until midnight and don't get a promotion. Nobody remembers their job designation on their dying day.

Five, most important, don't get competitive with other women. Someone will make a better scrapbook for her school project than you. Another will lose more weight with a better diet. Your neighbour may make a six-dabba tiffin for her husband, you don't - big deal. Do your best, but don't keep looking out for the report card, and definitely don't expect to top the class. There is no ideal woman in this world, and if you strive to become one, there will be only one thing you will achieve for certain - stress.

So breathe, chill, relax. Tell yourself you are beautiful, do your best and deserve a peaceful life. Anybody trying to take that away from you is making a mistake, not you. Your purpose of coming to this earth is not to please everyone. Your purpose is to offer what you have to the world, and have a good life in return. The next time this survey comes, i don't want to see Indian women on top of the list. I want them to be the happiest women in the world. Now smile, before your mother-in-law shouts at you for wasting your time reading the newspaper."

Thursday, 11 August, 2011

And thats the way the cookie crumbles....

A fresh perspective on world economics. Below are the nations with the highest debt in the world (absolute as well as % terms with respect to GDP), posing a threat to the global economy. Even though rising demand in countries like India and China can help cushion the spiralling effect of this, it is in everyone's best interest that the economies stabilize soon.

  1. USA - Debt as in percentage of GDP: 94% 
  2. UK
  3. Germany
  4. France
  5. Netherlands
  6. Japan
  7. Ireland
  8. Norway
  9. Italy
  10. Spain
  11. Luxembourg
  12. Belgium
  13. Switzerland
  14. Australia
  15. Canada
  16. Sweden 
  17. Austria
  18. Denmark
  19. Greece
  20. Portugal

Wednesday, 10 August, 2011

Friends–The balm of life


Friends are an important part of our lives. And for some of us, an important part of who we are. I have been blessed with friends who I can trust blindly and who would stand by me no matter what.

My latest article on Rediff talks about the little things one can do to make a friendship live forever. With best friends who’ve been with me for 24 years, we must have done something right!! Smile

Read the article here.

Thursday, 4 August, 2011

Chocolate Fudge Brownie - The goodness of life!!

I was surfing today and chanced upon some snaps of absolutely delicious Hazelnut Chocolate Cakes! The Pavlovian Dog in me started drooling and I couldn't hold myself back from rushing to the kitchen to bake some chocolate brownies which I instantly devoured with Vanilla Ice Cream. Here's my quick recipe for Chocolate Fudge, a gooey chocolate desert best topped with ice cream.


Ingredients:
7tbsp Cocoa
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup Pwd sugar
1 cup maida
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup milk
2tsp Vanilla essence
2tsp baking pwd
1 cup boiling water

Method:
1) In a baking dish, mix maida, 3tbsp cocoa, half the granulated sugar and baking pwd.
2) To this, add the milk and oil and stir to make a batter.
3) In another dish, mix the pwd sugar, rest of the granulated sugar and cocoa.
4) Sprinkle this mixture above the batter.
5) On top of this pour the boiling water.
6) Bake in a preheated oven for 35 minutes and let it stand for 10 minutes after that.
7) Devour hot!!

If you want more fudge and less brownie, make this in a flatter and bigger dish. Else, a deeper and smaller dish will give you more brownie and lesser goo.

Wednesday, 27 July, 2011

Memory modification charm that is Time

 

A strange thing time is. A memory modifier so as to speak. It does for us muggles what ‘obliviate’ would do for wizards. Feelings, experiences, emotions which seem so extreme and profound at their time, seem to get hazy in the mist of time.

1-clock-in-sand-x

Pregnancy is a tough time for some. Though it is arguably one of the most beautiful feelings in the world to feel a life kick inside you, it has its set of challenges. When I went through 3 month of sickness losing  5kgs and not being able to eat (and keep in) more than two slices in a day, I closed my eyes and was convinced that it is the end of time. Morning, noon and night, I would be sick. I would try to sleep for 20 hours in the day, sort of go into hibernation so that time would pass quicker and I would still be alive in the morning.

My last 3 months of pregnancy brought with them another rare symptom whose sole purpose was to not allow me to lie down from 1am till 7am. Thus, it is safe to say that for 3 months I didn’t sleep for more than 3 hours in a day. 

And don’t even get me started on childbirth. Anyone who knows me, knows that my biggest fear in life has always been childbirth. To willingly opt for normal delivery took courage worth a medal for me. For the sake of all those who still want to have kids, I’ll skip the details. But I survived to tell the tale.

And any mother will tell you how tough the 1st month is with a newborn. Sleep deprivation, healing stitches, being cooped up are just some things of a long list.

Yet, when I look back now, one year from when it all started, it all seems kind of hazy. The nights don’t seem as long in retrospect and was I really too ill to eat for months? I remember every moment of being in labour and delivering my baby yet I can’t reconstruct the agony and the pain. Science says that a hormone is released in our bodies during childbirth that makes us forget the pain later. Yet that wouldn’t account for forgetting the months that preceded it. Only the charm of time could do that. Have you never felt this way? Glorifying things in our memories….roses that were rosier than blush… relationships that seemed perfect…that amazing dish you once ate that blew your mind (even though it couldn’t live upto its memory when you returned years later). Are things really what we remember them to be or is it the memory charm at work?? Obliviate!!!

Friday, 22 July, 2011

Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows - A film that should have been called HP & the Horcruxes

Oops I did it again!!

When I was watching the latest  Harry Potter film - The Deathly Hallows part 2, I loved it! In the first half, I was literally sitting on the edge of my seat in excitement and I loved the special effects in the second half. So I decided that to do justice to the review, I'll go back to the book and read it again and get an idea of where the film stands. Alas, BIG big blunder. 4 pages into the chapter, I realised that I shouldn't have bothered. The mighty pen wins again.



Like all Potter films, this review shall be given from both the viewpoint of muggles (Ms) who haven't read the book and pure-bloods (PBs) who have. One of the most awaited films of our times, this last film is the closing chapter in the Harry Potter series. When the book came out two years back, I was absolutely blown apart as to how each loose string that Rowling had left in earlier books was tugged at and expertly tied up at the end. Unfortunately, in doing so, the books which earlier used to be just 200 pages or so started becoming thick encyclopedias of four times that many pages. But the length of the film remained constant. Thus, the directors were faced with the mammoth task of fitting it all in and allowing the viewer to make sense of it.

The last 2 films have been racing ahead of the viewer in order to cover it all, often leaving muggles confused and disoriented. PBs on the other hand, know the intricacies of the plot and are wondering why it has been simplified so. Though the films, like the books, have been maturing over the series, with the earlier ones being childish and becoming more sinister as they grow up. Yet, the magic of this world that one experiences in the earliest parts is somehow lost.

The special effects ofcourse are fabulous. The war scenes could rival any gladiator film and I particularly like the shot where HP walks out in front of the entire school and faces Snape. Snape is given his due, with the flashback done brilliantly. Also of note are the scenes in Gringotts, the roller coaster ride almost a 3D effect even in 2D.



The problem is in its diversion from the book. As I lamented before, when you have such a fabulous script to follow, why oh why would you stray? Harry's turmoil of whether to chase Horcruxes or Hallows is not even mentioned. Complete scenes are edited out and some randomly inserted like Neville standing in front of thousands of death eaters and confronting them. Neville for some reason has been given too much screen space in the film, even more than Ron and Hermoine. Fred and George haven't been given their due in any film and thus when we see one of the twins finally slain, not one eye in the theatre is wet. Bellatrix dies too easily and the final duel is far less exciting than the one where Dumbledore had duelled Voldermort in the ministry of magic. I could go on and on but its of no use. For PBs who enjoyed the film but feel something is still missing, go read the book again. Let the last bite leave the last impression.

A very enjoyable and racy film. Should be watched in a theatre. But alas, not quite what it should have been.

Long live Rowling.

Rating: 3.5 on 5
Paisa Wasool Moment: When McGonagall orders the knights to guard the fort and then grins in glee saying "I always wanted to use that spell" :)

Thursday, 21 July, 2011

10 Things we miss most about B-School

Long gone days spent during college and particularly campus days in B-School are always looked back upon with nostalgia. Whether it is the fierce competitveness, relationships that were made and those that were lost, or even projects that were completed in the wee hours of the morning over a plate of steaming hot Maggi, they shall always remind us of ourselves when we were carefree.

My latest article on Rediff talks about "What we miss most about B-School". Read it here.

Tuesday, 19 July, 2011

Growing up Bin Laden–Book Review

A normal human reaction is that the people surrounding evil must have traces of evil in them too. Thus, if Draco Malfoy was evil, his entire family must also be so. In the muggle world context, if Osama was a terrorist, his family must have stood by his side and don’t deserve our sympathy. But the truth of the matter is that one can not blame others for the choices one makes. Draco’s mother made a choice of saving Harry albeit so that the attacks stop and she can save her own son.

Osama Bin Laden or Ossama as his son insists it is spelt was the world’s most wanted and hunted terrorist. Countries have been destroyed in the guise of looking for him. He married 5 times (having divorced one of them) and is succeeded by 19 children. In the eyes of the world, the entire family of Ossama are not given much thought and are condemned in the same way that he is. I did too. Until I read “Growing up Bin Laden”. Written by his first wife Najwa and fourth son Omar along with Jean Sasson, the book is the first true glimpse into the inner world of Ossama. It gives the reader an understanding of the kind of man Ossama was, how his growing up years had been and what his priorities were.

Growing-Up-bin-Laden

The book does not glorify Ossama the man. Instead, it is a brutally honest narration of how he grew up in the periphery of the Bin Laden family, his mother Aliya having divorced his father very early and remarried. Nonetheless, the very rich Bin Laden family allowed him to be a part of the businesses and reap the benefits of the name. His only love marriage was to his first wife and cousin, Najwa. Thereafter, he asked Najwa’s permission to remarry with the sole objective of siring more children for his cause. An extremely conservative man, his family never left the compounds of the house, were not even allowed to smile showing more than 3 teeth and were disallowed the use of any modern appliance like refrigerators.

After being unceremoniously thrown out of Saudi Arabia by the king and later from Sudan due to his growing fanatical activities, Ossama became more and more frustrated and convinced himself that America and Israel were the reasons behind his personal struggles and Islam’s problems at large. He started dreaming of a pure Islamic world and preached hatred against America even though his reason for it started only because the king of Saudi asked for the American army’s help to defend the country rather than his group of bandits even though he had fought the Russians and ousted them out of Iraq.

The book traces how his family moved from a life of luxury in Jeddah towards austerity and in the end, they were made to live in cave like dwellings on a mountain in Tora Bora (Afghanistan) without electricity or running water. Even though he made all the effort in the world to convince them and train them for Jihad, it speaks volumes of the family that only one child of Ossama out of his 19 agreed to join his cause and the elder most escaped from Afghanistan and his madness before 9/11 happened. 

BinLadenJrES_468x490

I do not feel hatred towards his family anymore. They were just a bunch of people dealt with a cruel hand. They were mere pawns to the man and when they were old enough to make the decision, they chose to support peace and love instead of hatred. They will forever bear the weight of their Father/ Husband’s deed thanks to their surname. The family that had evil like Bellatrix, also had Sirius. Evil is not contagious, everyone has the opportunity to be evil or good. It is which part of us that we decide to follow that defines us.

Wednesday, 13 July, 2011

My favourite time to travel - the rains!!!

My latest article on Rediff on Monsoon Vacations...some options like Punjab may be off the beaten track but the monsoon is the perfect time to visit this fertile state.

Read the article here.

For more options, you can read my last year's Monsoon Getaway article here.

Friday, 8 July, 2011

The Art of Sleeping

And why not? If there can be an Art of Living...why not an art of sleeping then? There was a time only months ago when I could sleep anywhere, any number of times, at the drop of a hat. Literally. My eyes would shut and I would be off to dreamland even before my head hit the pillow. Cut to 3 months of a very painful pregnancy symptom that doesn't let you sleep at night (an hour a night tops) and the next 3 months raising an infant trying to fix her bodyclock which was severly jet lagged!

So, now that my nymph has finally started sleeping for 4-5 hours at a stretch, why do I complain, you ask? Just that I seem to have forgotten the art of sleeping! I spend hours in bed tossing and turning, trying to will myself to sleep. I sing songs in my head, design my latest outfits...hell, I even wrote out this post in my head last night!

So as the night approaches once more, I am filled with dread. Will it bring sweet slumber? Or will I yet again struggle with the night demons and get a good night's rest. Before I completely forget what that feels like!!!

Tuesday, 5 July, 2011

Holy money!!!

Should the great wealth being unearthed in Indian temples be brought out and made government property?

As a wise (and very hot) man said "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn".

The recent riches found in a temple in the south amounting to billions of rupees has been collecting for centuries. Kings have left their treasures here as has the common man for as long as one can remember. The question is, do we have the right to take that money out now and decide what to do with it?

Before answering that question, there is another pertinent question. Who are we (as in the govt) to decide that this is the correct time to take out the money and how can one ensure that it is put to correct use? I am not a very religious person and my answers do not have anything to do with the sacredness (taking liberty with the language) of the money. The point is that the government is suddenly playing big daddy. This money has reached here after paying the requisite taxes from the individuals that earned it. Thus, the government's right on the money is void. Does the average citizen have right on the money? Not really. What has the citizen done to earn it?

So who does? The trusts of these temples are chosen with care who keep an account of this money with reverence as they believe that they are serving the lord. The trust also chooses causes to use this money which are often more effective than government schemes that end up putting the money in the wrong pockets. Perhaps what can be done is that the government can ask for a certain percentage of the money to be used for social causes (not religious ones). The rest of the kitty can be left to grow for the future generations. This way, the money will serve not just us but many generations to come.

My concern is that the government's intentions may be right but like many truckloads of treasures disappeared during a certain lady prime minister's time, this huge amass of wealth may get lost into the bottomless greed of a few. Let it serve the nation instead, and in the mean time, let it lie in peace.
   

Tuesday, 28 June, 2011

The whispers of beauty


Art tells a story. Any kind of art.

In paintings, I like the work of impressionists. Van Gogh's art talks to you...screams out loud. Pleads with tears in its eyes. Each stroke tells of pain and yearning. Of wanting to reach for something that isn't there. Its not dandy and pretty, like most art is. Its not dark and sinister either. Its just real.


Or you may prefer sculptures and carvings. The Italian kinds perhaps, with every fountain on their roads a museum in itself. Or the exotic carvings in Indian temples. Or even the age old carvings from long gone civilizations like Harappa and Indus Valley.


 
But the most talkative form of art I believe is body art. The body is a precious thing. It is the one thing that is yours to own, to keep forever. If you express yourself through body art, it MUST mean something to you. Something that will remain for the rest of your life. Coz the art will! If you do it for someone, it is the ultimate proposal, the supreme expression of devotion. It screams - I care enough for you to do this. That I will love you till the day I die! That's a lot of love to digest!

Every art tells a story. What's yours?

Friday, 24 June, 2011

3 candles on the cake!!


3 months old and more beautiful everyday! My precious turns a quarter of an year today Smile !! I read in a book that it is no wonder that just when the parents have had it up till here with taking care of the baby and are all tired out, the lil one decides to look them in the eye and give her first smile. Because that’s the most rewarding gift I have gotten. Since a few weeks, Nyda has taken to talking back when I chat with her and giving me huge toothless smiles, often giggling at the silly faces I make. I’m sure she must congratulating herself on finally making mom into a clown but its so worth it.

She is the biggest surprise of my life. In every way. She surprises me everyday with some new antic. And just when I feel I have her figured out, she goes and surprises me right back! Take my word for it, you just can’t predict a 3 month old! My old life seems unrecognisable now. I barely have time to pen down 2 words and the summer is slipping by without us going swimming even once. OK that’s a stretch, rather weeks slip by where I haven’t even left the confines of my house. But as my sister in law told me, it gets easier. The more time passes with her, she doesn’t get easier to handle but it is definitely more gratifying!

Nyda also had her first vacation this month. We gathered our courage and drove down to Landsdowne, a lovely little hill station that is cloudy all day. I’m glad to report that she approved of her parents' travelling lifestyle, was a doll in the ride there and absolutely loved the nip in the air! She even surprised me by sleeping 8 hours every night when we were there. Ofcourse reverting back to her 3-4 hour sleep routine the second we came back home! Perhaps it is time to move to the hills!!!

Wishing you all the happiness in the world my love. I wish I could remove the thorns from your path, and I will till I can, but more importantly I hope to give you the courage to see the roses beyond them! Happy Birthday…will have your piece of the cake :P