Friday 30 August 2013

Demystifying relationships

I was trying to think of the 'perfect' relationship the other night and I just couldn't think of one. It's true, everyone seems to be fighting their own battles. But as much as we struggle to float and find a state of contentment, we forget one very simple thing.

Social psychology has a concept which is so simple that it roughly translates into the English phrase - Do unto others as you want others to do unto you. We mirror our expectations. Unknowingly, we behave with people like we wish them to behave with us. If we want someone to go out of their way and plan surprises for us, we plan surprises for them. If we like to be cuddled, we cuddle. If we like our space, we give space.

And herein lies the fundamental problem of human relationships. We need to do to a person what that person likes instead of what we like. And in return, communicate clearly what we want them to do for us. Subtle suggestions through behaviour don't work often. If you like to be told that you are loved often, merely saying I love you to the person won't help. Instead, just communicate that you would like to hear it once in a while. Likewise, if you think a candlelight dinner is romantic, do not plan that for his birthday or your anniversary. Think of what he likes, whether it is clubbing or being with a larger group of family or friends, and plan something around that.

Relationships would be much simpler if we asked simply and gave selflessly. This only works in rational relationships where the partners care about each other and are compassionate. But if achieved, it can save many a hearts from ache.   

Sunday 11 August 2013

True words

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness. 

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. 

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things. 

We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less. 

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete. 

Remember to spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side. 

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.

Remember, to say, 'I love you' to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you. 

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.

Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

And always remember, life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by those moments that take our breath away.

-  George Carlin

Tuesday 6 August 2013

Yeh hai Bombay meri jaan

I love Bombay in the rains. I do. I know I'm a sucker for rains anywhere but there is something magical in the air when the rain gods smile. And I was fortunate enough to be able to visit the monsoon city last week in all it's glory. It was a short trip but the highlights were meeting old friends, spending time with the relentlessly crashing waves and staying in a wonderful property! Well, I'm not in the mood for a long post and as you know, I have recently lost my inspiration to write, along with my appetite. So in the mean time, let the pictures say a thousand words. My trip to Bombay in technicolor.

Where I spent most of my time - sea breeze at Bandstand
Amuse Bouche at Botticino @ The Trident

Delicious Pasta with Prawns

Smoked Betki

Lipsmacking Tiramisu with a refreshing Raspberry Sorbet

Lovely personalised service

Chinese at China Garden in Khar

My gorgeous room


Watching the sun set and waves crash



Monday 5 August 2013

The Black Dog Easy Evening - An Experience to Remember!!

As a marketing professional, I have always been intrigued by Surrogate Advertising. I find it very challenging to think up of marketing techniques to employ in order to push brands where ATL Advertising is not legally allowed like in the case of Alcohol and Tobacco products. So much so that my thesis in MBA was also focused on Surrogate Advertising.

Thus, it was almost too good to be true when I got an invite for a Black Dog Easy Evenings Experience. An evening that combined gourmet food, alcohol and music, the stuff that dreams are made of (they had me at food anyways!). The menu had been designed and executed by the Italian Masterchef winner 2011, Spyros Theodoridis. In true Masterchef style, Spyros had created 5 courses, each paired with a different year of whiskey from the Black Dog repertoire. Dressed in my long forgotten black and white strapless dress and even more long forgotten black heels, I set out to have the time of my life. 

And have the time of my life I did. The venue was the Westin Hotel in Gurgaon, a classy property. What was interesting to me was the fact that the promotional material was co-branded with Westin which probably meant that they were partners in the event rather than just being a venue (and thus rationalising the cost further - brilliant). Surrounded by a mix of air-kissing socialites and corporate big-wigs, we got our drinks and had a canape or 2 to get our taste buds rolling. Being a 'Black Dog' event, the bartender was not too impressed by my question on what he had besides whiskey and wine, for I truly despise both. But he was sporting enough to mix me a Mojito (or 2 :)) which I flaunted to envious eyes wondering why I was the only one in the event with a cocktail!


The crowd then moved on towards the banquet hall which was laid out for a formal sit down dinner. Each table was set for 6 people and as we took our places at one, we were joined by 4 very interesting dining companions. I felt like something out of Pretty Woman when I saw the cutlery laid out in front of me- 4 forks, no less besides a couple of knives and a spoon. Then in a moment of inspiration, I remembered (again from a movie) that one is supposed to start with the outermost cutlery and work your way in. As the first course, the Summer Salad was served, the emcee of the evening started introducing us to the brand and what lay ahead. I daresay she seemed like she was high already, the amount of faux pas she made. The salad itself was light and refreshing with citrus flavors and a melee of textures from the nuttiness of the cashew to the mushy carrots and the crunch of the fresh greens.


But we were a forgiving crowd and the emcee was all but forgotten as the Master Blender for Black Dog, Richard Paterson who in his kilt personified Scotland in a way no AV could have, took centerstage. And that is when the evening started! Richard is a showman. He walked and he talked, he poured and he drank. He even threw a few glasses around! All the while, keeping the audience entertained and glued to every word. He shared the history behind whiskey and also taught us how to appreciate every sip instead of drowning it in ice and soda.

As he spoke, we were served the second course, Tagliolini with Tomato Pesto and Anchovies. I am a great fan of Pesto, albeit the basil version but I must admit that the tomato based one was equally pleasing to the taste buds. This came paired with the  Black Dog 12 Years and as I swirled a sip around in my mouth, I felt each taste center come alive as Richard had promised.


While we ate, a very talented musician performed for us in French, Italian and English. There never was a dull moment. Which can also be said of our table. Though we were strangers, we got along fabulously and before long we were laughing and kidding around like old friends. Spyros took to the stage now and explained how he had created the menu and how each dish was a blend of Italian tastes and Indian sensibilities. The 3rd Course, a creamy Risotto with Prawns was served thereafter, paired with the Black Dog 18 Year Whiskey. The Risotto was an interesting blend of flavors, much like the whiskey itself. With a hint of mint, small chunks of peach and flavored with licorice powder, it played a fine line between savory and sweet. But the real winners were the prawns. Succulent and cooked just right, the juicy prawns brought out the flavors of the dish even more.


As the evening progressed, I also realised the difference between each whiskey. As we moved from the 12 years to the 18 years and 21 years, the whiskey got smoother and I could even detect slight variance in flavors.

The 4th Course was perhaps our favourite course of the evening. Lamb Chops served over Creamy Potatoes drizzled with a sauce of Roasted Vegetables served with Crispy Beet. In all my years of loving and appreciating food, I have never had lamb chops so succulent. So moist in the inside and giving just the right resistance to my knife, I couldn't believe that this wasn't beef I was eating but lamb. The chops were truly incredible and the only course I polished off, even though it came in fourth and my tiny tummy was already stuffed.

Unfortunately I couldn't stay for the last course, as much as I would have loved to see how a soup made with whiskey could be served as desert. But a tiny tot waiting to go home and sleep and a hour's drive back took precedence and we bid adieu to our new friends and dining companions. An Easy Evening for sure, for the guests. But I could see the immaculate conceptualization and hard work that went into the backend to execute one so flawlessly. An Experience to remember, for sure.