Friday, November 21, 2014

A History of our Neighbourhood - Part II

Still devouring through the archives reading about the history of our neighbourhood...

Plaza Singapura, now a glitzy mall on Orchard Road looked like this when originally built in 1974. Today, even the car park of Plaza Singapura is bigger than this!

And the concrete jungle of condo blocks adjoining Peace Centre was once the site of billionaire Eu Tong Sen's mansion.  It was built in 1915 at a cost of S$1M on the site of Adis Lodge which Eu had purchase from Nissim Nissim Adis, the owner of the Grand Hotel de L'Europe in 1912. I'm sure all those people who bought those tiny apartment blocks for a much higher price than $1M are feeling sick in their gut reading this!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A History of our Neighbourhood - Part I

We've been living in the neighborhood we live in for over 3 years now, but it took a happen chance at the public library this week to find out the amazing amount of history in this neighborhood.

Everyone who knows me knows that my favourite part about our neighbourhood is the gorgeously green and peaceful Emily Park. I've been spending almost every evening at the park since little K was born, and there have been times when the kids dig in the park to find water underground. What I didn't know was that it's actually the site of Singapore's oldest reservoir in the 1880s and Singapore's first public swimming pool back in the 1930s. Found this swimming pool timetable from the 30s online!

It was operated by the Japanese during the Japanese Occupation (1942-1945) and returned to the British military after the war ended. In 1946, the charge of the pool was again given over to the Municipal Commissioners, who closed the pool for maintenance and repairs. It was reopened on 1 December 1949, to a long queue of bathers eager for a dip. In 1982, the pool was closed and converted into the park we know today, but some old Singaporeans still remember it as a weekend destination for kids & bathers.

I don't know why I'm so pleased to find the history of Emily Park, but I really am!

Friday, November 14, 2014


So we finally watched the movie 'Haider' and I'm more a fan of Tabu's tragic eyes now than I was after watching 'The Namesake', and as much a fan of Vishal Bharadwaj as I was after watching 'Omkara'. The movie didn't let me down, loved the adaptation, the setting, the story-telling & loved the digs at the Salman Khan brand of entertainment.

Saturday, November 01, 2014


Halloween this year was fun because it wasn't me dressing up little K, but he very much leading the discussion on what he would like to dress up as (there was a toss up between Ninja Turtle & Transformer, finally he decided being a ninja was more important to him than having cool weapons...what a relief!)
He still doesn't give a damn about collecting candy, and that's another blessing I should thank God for!

Friday, October 31, 2014


"Mama...Zhi-Yu says her grandpa is the real Santa Claus. Do you think she is telling the truth?"

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


So we recently discovered a cosy little restaurant in the Jalan Besar area which does French-Japanese-fusion cuisine. Some very interesting items on the menu, we'll definitely go back to try some more. Foie Gras Donuri is next on my list...

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Israel, Palestine, why won't you learn from your past?

It's time to re-post an article I had blogged about back in 2011:

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

5 things little K has taught me

1. Nothing is worth rushing. And I mean nothing. Always take your time & the journey is as exciting as the destination. It's the screamers & worriers who eventually suffer the stress.

2. Holding on to resentment is pathetic. It's always possible to go from "I never want to play with you EVER" to "let's play together" in 10 minutes.

3. Everything is up for negotiation. The more you demand, the more you get away with! 

4. It's your curiosity which makes even ordinary things (like others' vomit or a dog's poop) seem marvelous. Sense of wonder is in the eyes of the beholder.

5. Don't waste your energy being politically correct. It's ok to say "did you seriously come here without a gift for me?!" if the underlying message is important to you. People appreciate the frankness & learn from it!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Malaysian Airlines & the worst kind of luck

When the first plane disappeared, I remember feeling scared and skeptical - doubting the whole system in which a huge airplane can go missing despite all those radars, gadgets, black boxes, the works.
This time though, I'm feeling depressed. The whole incident is a telling sign of what our world has come to. The utter lack of humanity is staggering. Loss of lives used for political one-upmanship & media circus depressing I can't write anymore!  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

And they do the glossy feminism again….

Those in India may have seen this Femina magazine with the beautiful Indian actress Huma Qureshi on the cover making a feminist statement. Now how many times have we said that the media needs to stop the stereotypical portrayal of beauty…we should cheer for this cover then, shouldn't we?

I would've applauded this effort if it wasn't for the hint of hypocrisy and lack of credibility i felt. Maybe it's the fact that a glossy mag is choosing to take a stand against the glossiness and superficiality of the perception of beauty today. They've air-brushed Huma's already heavily makeup-laden face and arms and then tagged it as 'I don't owe you perfection'. If only they had photographed her in natural light, in a natural setting or even her natural body/ face, this would've been more credible.

I thought of this old post (way back from 2007) about how loosely feminist tag lines are thrown around for commercial reasons these days, but are they really a step forward for us?  

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

And another adventure....

Everyone needs a hobby & this is the hobby that has chosen me: writing children’s books. I have started a series of illustrated travel books for children & I’m super excited to announce that the first book of this series “The Adventures of Pugs in Japan” is now published. Please support me in this new adventure of mine by buying my book, by writing reviews for it on & by reading it to your kids!

For all my friends in the US, its available on Amazon as well as Barnes & Noble. For those in India, its available on Flipkart & Amazon India. For those in Singapore & in other places, I have a copy for you, just drop me a note! Hope you all enjoy reading it!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Brazil vs Chile

Being that penalty kick striker must be the world's most thankless & dreadful job! The next day, nobody remembers the perfect kick, but even years later, the fans will still remember that miss which caused their team to be thrown out of a World Cup they could've potentially won. Can't begin to imagine the nerves those men must need to control!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Double decker

While in Mumbai, we went to a restaurant at Bandra Kurla Complex's Maker Maxity where I noticed this art installation by artist Sudarshan Shetty. Perhaps it was nostalgia, perhaps it was pride in my city....that made me really like this homage to the good old B.E.S.T. double decker. Surely it's going to be a thing of the past pretty soon, but I have great memories of having travelled on the front row on the top deck with the wind blowing in my face (yes, now it does seem kind of reckless of the authorities that kids were allowed to sit there with their heads sticking out of the front window).

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Hue, Vietnam

Continuing from my previous post....
While Hoi An was unabashedly touristic, Hue surprisingly was very local & small-town Vietnam. And still had incredible anount of history & culture in it. Sadly, we didn't get enough time in Hue on this trip...we need to visit this place one more time.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Danang, Vietnam

We went to Danang in central Vietnam for a bankers club event last week. It's a gorgeous, sunny place which is being promoted by the Vietnam government as the "next Phuket" and in the spirit of tourist promotion they played excellent & lavish hosts to us. 

We also spent a day in the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Hoi An. What a lovely place. I loved it and cringed at it at the same time. The 15th century town, then a vibrant port developed by the expat Chinese & Japanese merchant communities in Vietnam, has some stunningly old architecture & the derelict state of those buildings lends it an old world quaintness. It has sadly become such a tourist ghetto now...there are these beautiful antique shophouses but they sell Prada hand-bag knock offs and mass produced Vietnamese art knock offs. I wish there was some deliberation on what establishments are aligned in a tasteful manner to a town so rich in heritage. It's a must-see town nevertheless. Add that to your travel list please!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Adventure of a Venture

Ladies & gentleman, put your hands together for (*dim the lights, drumrolls*) my new adventure & venture:

It's a social enterprise to help showcase not-already-famous artists from Asia to the worldwide audience. 

Please please please like us on Facebook:

Friday, May 16, 2014

The 2014 India elections

Phew, what an outcome. I admit I wouldn't have voted for Modi even if I were able to vote, and yet I'm feeling inspired today by the decisiveness of the country. We have chosen irrespective of caste and regional differences for the very first time; and that is definitely a turning point in history. 

P.s. Still disappointed that AAP couldn't give us a real third front, but let's put that down to good learning for the first timers.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

All The Sad Young Men by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Well it's F. Scott Fitzgerald, so what can you say. Every one of these short stories is a peek into a world of outwardly ordinary people, either found in extraordinary circumstances or wrapped up in extraordinary feelings. Every other line is quotable, and every word is delectable. Loved it!

Happy Mother's Day!

So my Mother's Day card threw me off with respect to my son's perception of me. Threw me off by miles. I've always aspired to be a good female role model for him (always reprimanding him for saying things like "girls can't play fire-fighters, they can pretend to be princesses"; or reiterating to him that the girls in his taekwando class are good a him). Of course, in return, I was hoping that he sees me as a strong and smart woman. That he sees me as someone who "dresses up prettily" came as a shock :)

We are very conscious of not speaking of others' appearances/ clothes  or even our own, in K's presence. Where in gods name has he then ended up with this perception of "pretty dresser" being such a positive??!

Fathers have an unfair advantage in being perceived as "strong". I probably do as much heavy lifting around the house (and look fitter) but K holds on to the perception that his dad is this tower of power & strength!! Hmmph!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Walk in the woods

We walked the nature trail along the Henderson Waves ending at the Hort Park last evening, and while it was a humid day, it was an enjoyable walk thanks to the lovely breeze, treetop views and the quiet beauty of nature tucked away in a city. 

More info here:

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The New Life

So it's been a couple of weeks since I let go finally of my job at the bank. It was a decision that took over a year to culminate, there was a fair bit of contemplation, back-and-forth and a tug-off war between the left and right side of my brain. But now that it's done, I can look back and say that it has been for the best :)

Of course there are things I miss. My personal bank balance not going up by a pre-determined amount on a pre-determined date every month, is not a great thing to look forward to. I miss my coffee machine social life at office too. But the one thing I miss the most, is probably the feeling of being important. Don't scoff, it sounds superficial, but a lot  of what we call "ambition" is about making oneself feel important, isn't it? I admit to missing the ego-boost that senior management brings with it.

Here's what I'm not missing though: maybe it's too soon to say this, but I'm enjoying having unstructured days. I enjoy starting the morning with an agenda for the day which I've chosen for myself. I enjoy the fact that while I'm now less liberal with the use of my credit card, I'm happier with what I'm using it for.  And I enjoy watching the various things I'm choosing to do with my time and bandwidth; some of them are surprises even to me! Some of the boundaries we make for ourselves are completely illogical and shaking things up just allows us to see that from another perspective. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Where The Heart Is by Billie Letts

What a great story-teller! I loved this unpredictable roller coaster journey of a formidable Oklahoma  teenager who finds herself pregnant, penniless & homeless at 17. A great social commentary on the lower-income life in America-between-the-two-glamorous-coasts; on feminism in the modern world; on home & on family in all unconventional ways.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Its that time of the year in Singapore...

And with that beautiful image of the scattered flowers at Robertson Quay, I'm reminded of something cool I learnt in Japan.

A Japanese iroha is a form of poetry which (as Wikipedia says) is famous because it is a perfect pangram and at the same time an isogram, containing each character of the Japanese syllables exactly once. Here's one translated into English (which, let's face it, is only half as cool; and yet pretty lyrical).

Although its scent still lingers on
the form of a flower has scattered away
For whom will the glory of this world remain unchanged?
Arriving today at the yonder side of the deep mountains of evanescent existence
We shall never allow ourselves to drift away intoxicated,
in the world of shallow dreams.

Monday, April 07, 2014

The fickle cricket fan

An ode to Yuvraj Singh's epic fall from celebrity last night after the 2014 T20 World Cup finals :(

Not so long ago, he was a conqueror
Victorious, carried on their shoulders,
His name chanted with fervour;
Mexican waves rose in his honour.
And in a blip (21 balls really)
Came the sudden fall from that dizzying height,
Allegiances change frequently, he must know that.
Falls must hurt nonetheless. Sorely.
No love is lost though.
For the fickle cricket worshippers,
Sulking over this last heartbreak today,
Are sure to be as capricious tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Happy birthday K

5 years old, dude. Growing up, becoming independent, getting more assertive, and more logical. It's making me happy & sad to see you enter the next phase of your life. You're closer to being my best friend, but farther from being my baby.

Not yet an adult but not a fascinated-by-everything baby/toddler either. A phase where you believe you're equal to an adult but the adults around you don't share that belief. Your life is going to be tough for the next few years. A lot of your arguments have already started sounding like "...but you do this, so why can't I?", and a lot of my responses already go like "...because you're still a child and I say so". Now hand over the iPad please.

The Lunch Box

Non-mainstream Indian movies like "The Lunchbox" don't usually make it to Singapore. I'm glad though that this one did as part of a festival. What a great movie! Set in the suburban struggling class of Mumbai (the old-fashioned folks who travel by local trains & BEST buses, work in government offices for 35 years, have conversations with next door neighbors across the windows), this is a love story between odd & improbable lead characters. Arguably an old-fashioned take on life in Mumbai but the movie is better for it. Loved it!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Japan: The Food

I couldn't possibly not write about the AMAZING food we had in Japan. And not just the Japanese food...every kind of cuisine we ate there was phenomenal. If I had to pick a few favorites though, they would be:
The sashimi-tacos at Nobu were so innovative & tasty; the Kobe steak at New York grill (Ueno) was simply the best meat ever; the mayo-garlic sushi at Sushi Inawa (Tsukiji Market) was the most creative sushi we tasted; Gonpachi at Shibuya had amazing Japanese tapas (who knew there was such a thing as Japanese tapas!); and Coco Curry House wins as the best fast food restaurant in my opinion: a menu full of katsu curries & rice make for great dinner after a tiring cold day. P.s: I may have put on a bit of weight after this trip :(

The mom-son trip to Japan

K & I went on a 10-days trip to Japan. He is almost 5-years old now & at an interesting age - he enjoys travel, but hates sightseeing; we share great conversations, but he has to pick the topic; he is great at experimenting with food, but decides whether or not he wants to try something new based on how it looks. It was a special trip that I'm going to cherish forever (he will probably forget all about it in a years time).

My top 5 favourite K moments of the trip:

1) We walked along the sakura-embellished 'Philosophers Path' from the beautiful Ginkakuji temple in Kyoto, when K asked me what philosophy meant. After having digested my loose definition of philosophy, he posed his own philosophical question. "Mama, who do you think is a boat's best friend? The waves or the sailor?"

2) I forgot my expensive Nikon camera in a taxi in Kyoto & was almost in tears when I realized it's lost. Sensitive to my mood, K put his hands around my legs & comforted me with a "It's ok mama, it was a mistake. Just say sorry to me & you'll feel better."

3) While at the ancient Samurai home in Nijo Castle, we experienced our first snowfall. It was a light snowfall & we didn't get to witness any snowy landscapes, but it was something to remember. For the both of us.

4) K was keenly looking forward to travelling in the Japanese Shinkansen (his love for trains and all things high speed is unequivocal). Having stepped into one though, he was quite disappointed. "This feels like a normal slow train. Why are we not moving like a bullet?"

5) The day we spent at Nara Park was his favourite day of the trip. The town is full of wild deer - they're everywhere! Not unused to humans walking amongst them, the deer can be quite brave sometimes snatching food from your hands. K had a great time feeding, petting and shooing away the deer.

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Burmese Days by George Orwell

This is a book set in 1934's colonial Burma (then part of greater India) and is really ahead of its time because it tackles issues like racism & the injustice of the social hierarchy of colonial India, at a time when these things sadly, were simply acceptable. It's not a book of misery & torture though, its a rather engaging read. It pre-dates "The Animal Farm" and its said that this book is partly autobiographical (because Orwell did live in Burma for a few years as a gora-sahib); so it lends a window into how Orwell was shaped in his initial years into the socialist thinker he eventually became famous as. A good read.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Trip to Borobudur, Central Java

Its amazing how indulgent people in power are & have been through out history! There's this absolutely stellar Buddhist temple built by an ancient king of the Saliendra dynasty in Borobudur; and then as a Hindu response to the Buddhist Borobudur, there's another stellar Hindu temple built by another extravagent king concurrently in next-door Prambanan. And between these two neighbouring temples, what an artisitic feast this place offers!

The temple of Borobudur is astonishingly ancient... "300 years before Cambodia’s Angkor Wat was constructed, 400 years before work began on the great European cathedrals", say the brochures. Its majestic at first glance and then the more closely you look at this temple, and the more you hear about its philosophical & architectural roots & multi-layered complexity, the more you fall in love with it. I feel sad for that competitive Hindu bloke from ancient Java, because our man from the Saliendra dynasty has nailed it. What a sight!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The volcano that spoiled our trip

So Mt. Kelud decided to erupt the same week when we had planned our trip to Borobudur (non-refundable flights too!). What are the chances! I have been wanting to visit Borobudur for so long that I'm quite grumpy about the situation (apologies to the thousands of families who lost their homes due to the eruption, I don't mean to be disrespectful to you!). All hope is not lost though - the eurption was in East Java and although Borobudur (in Central Java) is not affected in any serious way, the ash deposits on the Borobudur sites have rendered them closed to visitors while the site is manually cleaned by sweepers. Fingers crossed, we get to see those beautiful Buddhas!

Saturday, February 01, 2014

The Selfie

With a sparkly red pout & a victory sign she posed,
Clicked; brightness adjusted; a few filters tried,
Chosen was the one that made her lips pop, of course.
Off went the upload,
#bestdayever, #newlipgloss, she labelled it.
She was 15 & pleased at how much she glowed in the glossy tint.
She aspired for gloss. It surrounded her: on the streets, on her phone, even at her school.
When did it first start it's seductive lure?
She couldn't vaguely tell how glossiness had crept into her life; then taken it over.
She flipped absent-mindedly through her Instagram.
There was no hashtag strong, or smart over there.
There just wasn't.
Why is that so awful? she looked up from her phone, puzzled, defiant. Why is it not enough to look fabulous?
She had never heard a good reason why not.
She just hadn't.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Rahul on Arnab's show

Oh dear. Watched the Rahul Gandhi interview on YouTube. Clearly, not a wordsmith.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

All things Japan on my mind

Samurai. The Giant Robot. Volcano maki. Astro boy. Vending machine. Hello Kitty. High end toilet. Geisha. Lost in Translation. Earthquake, radiation. Whisky. Capsule hotels. Palaces. Moshi moshi. Ramen. Cherry blossoms. Shinkansen. Gaming arcades. Harajuku girls. Kamakazi. Mt Fuji. Katsu curry. Issey Miyake. Shogun.

Can't wait for this trip...March, come sooner please!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Angkor Wat made of Lego

Isn't this cool?
At Legoland, Malaysia, last weekend.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Dedh Ishqiya

I'm a big fan of Vishal Bharadwaj & although this isn't a movie directed by him, it sure has borrowed his style. It's an entertainer, its funny, witty, layered & insane.

Set in the nawabi mileui of UP, the language is difficult to grasp - both the shayari & the profanities - so thank god for the subtitles! What a brilliant job though writing those lines & verses - they range from crass (in characterstic style of what you would imagine from UP conmen) to sublime (in high-brow urdu). The jabs at Italian DNA ensuring royalty & puppeteering the fake-nawab; the jokes on the 6 stages of love - all pretty hilarious. The lyrics of those songs are gorgeous. And Madhuri Dixit - as a fading beauty, broke royal, a glorious dancer, a frail begum - is amazing. 

I love the actor who plays the baddie (I remember him as  Dubeyji from Monsoon Wedding, although I've made many attempts to remember his real name, his Dubeyji character sticks). He is a guy who owns his wierdness- he stands out in any role he does. I wonder if he can play a man on the street as convincingly as he plays the quirky outlandish characters he usually does.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Unplanned playtime

It's true that no mother likes being advised on how to raise her kids. But it's also true that every mother can't help but advise.

In the same vein, here's my advice to Singaporean moms including myself - do not underestimate the importance of unstructured play! Avoid the urge to always plan activities for your kids or teach them how to play a game while on the playground - well not all the time. Surely there's value in your child getting bored & having to invent games for himself out of sheer boredom.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

2013 in retrospect

The year flew by in a jiffy. 

It was an incredibly overwhelming year at work. I am used to stress at work, but this year I was dealing with new people, a new environment, a new culture & I have to admit I let the stress of the change get to me. Change is a constant though & life is too short to worry, isn't it?

At home, we had tons of drama. A housekeeper who we discovered was stealing from us was a shocker. But among brighter topics - K discovered a love for taekwando this year; I got a bicycle & H devoted more time to golf this year than any previous year since K was born. And we had a record number of guests at home this year - which was great because we caught up with so many friends, family & loved ones in 2013! New things I tried in 2013: Kobe steak, printed trousers, blue shoes, a yacht & sleep training for K. Loved all except for the last. 

Among other news- I hate being associated with this years Bollywood chart buster "Radha on the dance floor".  I do not like that song. Also, I don't get why cupcakes & permed hair have made such a big comeback in Singapore this year. 

2014 is going to be fantastic! I don't need to make resolutions this time...they are already in motion & it's exciting/ nail biting/ exhilarating all at once :)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Forest Cloud Conservatory

We went to the two conservatories of Gardens by the Bay for the first time this week. The conservatories are very modernistic in design- something very space-age about them.

One can always depend on Singapore to make everything slick & glam....even something as untouristy as a botanical conservatory!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Kids of the new world

One gets to hear a wide range of accents in Singapore. Unlike in the US for example, where everyone gets one homogenous accent after a while (immigrants eventually acquire the Yankee accent), in Singapore immigrants rarely ever acquire the Chinese accent. Being such a multi-cultural, cosmopolitan  country now, it's awesome that the various accents - the Aussie twang, the Tagalog English, the Indian, Malay, Korean, Jap - all get to be breathe freely in this city, without making anyone feel uncomfortable or alienated because of their foreign accent. Kids of course never have a problem with  accents. K switches comfortably between accents within seconds (he speaks with an Indian accent around Indians; with a Singaporean accent - and grammar- around Singaporeans; and with a Filipino accent around his nanny). He can make himself understood & has enough EQ to judge which accent to use when. It's incredible :)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A haiku from my kitchen

A sizzling wok of vegetables.
Tossed, turned, seasoned.
A home cooked meal for two.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

- Mark Twain

Margaret River

We went to visit our friends S & A last week in Perth & drove together through the gorgeous coasts of Western Australia along the Margaret River region. The weather was not as warm as we had imagined but the days were bright & sunny. The sunsets were breathtaking with the sun sinking into the Indian Ocean painting the sky in different hues of orange & purple everyday. 
The Aussies are an outdoorsy lot & we hardly saw idle sunbathers on the beach. Surfing & water sports are a big thing & the ocean itself is a stunning shade of blue.

But the highlight of the trip for us was the food! There are numerous local farms in the region, each uses its fresh produce to serve delicious meals in their restaurants & caf├ęs, often in the middle of vineyards or on seaside cliffs. 

P.S. Our first sighting of wild kangaroos is worth a mention!

Friday, September 27, 2013


We have been annual pass holders at the Universal Studios Singapore for around 9 months now & we go there really often. And yet, I've never been on this giant roller coaster. Someday soon, I tell myself every time.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A non believer

Oh the number of people who tie ribbons & throw coins into fountains hoping for a miracle (or at the least believing that its worth a shot)!!! Have you ever done it?

Sunday, September 08, 2013

The Butterfly Farm in Penang

A farm full of butterflies - these dignified angelic beings that flutter around prettily without affectation from flower to flower delivering life forms to distant lands. What a lovely place (umm, maybe slightly creepy that these butterflies here are not scared of humans at all - they sit & stare at you while you make vigorous motions of shoo! Apart from that though, it's beautiful :))

Georgetown, Penang

Remember the foiled trip to Georgetown during the haze? Well we finally made good on the hotel reservation & enjoyed a great holiday there.

The UNESCO World Heritage site within Georgetown is gorgeous. Not in a glamorous way - it's old, vintage, even cracking & crumbling occasionally. But it tells the story of a glorious past when enterprising young Chinese men came to a booming Malay port, built these opulent  mansions full of busy gold inlay work & imports from Europe & China, married 7 or 8 young brides, loaded them with tons of gold & jewels & left a legacy of rooms full of antiques that are beautifully preserved. It's this dated portrait of the monied Peranakan businessmen packaged in the dilapidation of a town which has since lost it's business importance, that makes for Penang's charm.

We stayed at the "Seven Terraces" which is a restored mansion in the heart of the heritage site itself. What a gorgeous property & so tastefully decorated with vintage decor from that era! 
The Blue Mansion was one of our favourite memories from Georgetown

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Kaifi & I

We watched Shabana Azmi & Javed Akhtar's play yesterday where they read out of Shaukat Azmi's memoirs "Kaifi & I". Shabana recounted her fathers life in the voice of her mother who was obviously a very doting wife in awe of her husband, his philosophy & his work. Their love story set in the backdrop of the 'Azad Hindustan' revolution, the communist movement in Mumbai mills, the Bollywood film industry & later progressive work in a North Indian village; all made for very interesting listening.

Shaukat fondly remembers a mushaira she attended where Kaifi recited his poem (Aurat) which first resulted in her conviction that Kaifi, the man who wrote that verse, was the man for her. Javed Akhtar read out the verse in a fierce voice  & although I couldn't catch all the Urdu on-the-go, I had to come back home & google it for translation. 
Aurat (Woman)
uth merii jaan mere saath hii chalnaa hai tujhe
qalb-e-mahoul mein larzaan sharar-e-jang hain aaj
hausley waqt ke aur ziist ke yakrang hain aaj
aabgiinon mein tapaan walwale-e- sang hain aaj
husn aur ishq ham aawaaz-o-humaahang hain aaj
jis mein jaltaa huun usi aag mein jalnaa hai tujhe
uth merii jaan mere saath hii chalnaa hai tujhe
Arise, my love, for now you must march with me
Flames of war are ablaze in our world today
Time and fate have the same aspirations today
Our tears will flow like hot lava today
Beauty and love have one life and one soul today
You must burn in the fire of freedom with me
Arise, my love, for now you must march with me
zindagii jehad mein hai sabr ke qaabuu mein nahiin
nabz-e-hastii kaa lahuu kaamptii aansuu mein nahii
urne khulne mein hai nakhat kham-e-gesu mein nahiin
jannat aik aur hai jo mard ke pahluu mein nahiin
uskii aazaad ravish par bhii machalnaa hai tujhe
uth merii jaan mere saath hii chalnaa hai tujhe
Patience will not help you struggle through life
Blood, not tears, sustains the pulse of life
You will fly when you’re free and not ensnared by love
Heaven is not just in the arms of the man you love
Walk unfettered on the path of freedom with me
Arise, my love, for now you must march with me
goshey goshey mein sulagtii hai chitaa tere liye
farz kaa bhes badaltii hai qazaa tere liye
qahar hai terii har narm adaa tere liye
zahar hii zahar hai duniyaa kii havaa tere liye
rut badal daal agar phuulnaa phalnaa hai tujhe
uth merii jaan mere saath hii chalnaa hai tujhe
Wherever you go sacrifice awaits you
To surrender is a way of life for you
All your charms condemn you
The ways of the world are poison for you
Change the seasons to flourish and be free
Arise, my love, for now you must march with me.
qadr ab tak terii tarriikh ne jaanii hii nahiin
tujh mein shole bhii hain bas ashkfishaanii hii nahiin
tu haqiiqat bhii hai dilchasp kahaanii hii nahiin
terii hastii bhii hai ik chiiz javaanii hii nahiin
apnii tarrikh kaa unvaan badalnaa hai tujhe
uth merii jaan mere saath hii chalnaa hai tujhe
History has not known your worth thus far
You have burning embers too, not merely tears
You’re reality too, not a mere amusing anecdote
Your personality is something too, not just your youth
You’ve to change the title of your history
Arise, my love, for now you must march with me.
tod kar rasm ke but bare qadamat se nikal
zof-e-ishrat se nikal, vaham-e-nazaakat se nikal
nafs ke khiinche hue halq-e-azmal se nikal
yeh bhii ek qaid hii hai, qaid-e-muhabbat se nikal
raah kaa khaar hii kyaa gul bhii kuchalnaa hai tujhe
uth merii jaan mere saath hii chalnaa hai tujhe
Emerge out of ancient bondage, break the idols of tradition,
the weakness of pleasure, this mirage of fragility
these self-drawn boundaries of imagined greatness
the bondage of love, for this too is a bondage
Not merely the thorns on the path, you have to trample on flowers too
Arise, my love, for now you must march with me.
tod yeh azm-shikan dagdag-e-pand bhii tor
terii khaatir hai jo zanjiir vah saugandh bhii tor
tauq yeh bhii zammruud kaa gulband bhii tor
tod paimana-e-mardaan-e-khirdmand bhii tor
banke tuufaan chhalaknaa hai ubalnaa hai tujhe
uth merii jaan mere saath hii chalnaa hai tujhe
Shatter these resolve breaking suspicions of sermons
these vows that have become shackles
this too, this necklace of emeralds
these standards set by the wise men
You have to turn into a tempest, bubble and boil over
Arise, my love, for now you must march with me.
tuu falaatuno-arastuu haii tuu zohraa parviin
tere qabze mein hai garduun, terii thokar mein zamiin
haan, uthaa, jald uthaa paae-muqqadar se jabiin
main bhii rukne kaa nahii waqt bhii rukne kaa nahiin
larkharaayegii kahaan tak ki sambhalnaa hai tujhe
uth merii jaan mere saath hii chalnaa hai tujhe
You are Aristotle’s philosophy, Venus, Pleiades
You control the sky, the earth at your feet
Yes, raise, fast, raise your forehead from the feet of fate
I too am not going to pause, nor will the time
How long would you falter, you have to be firm
Arise, my love, for now you must march with me.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Salt Grill & Sky Bar

It's Aussie fine dining; the food was great; so was the wine & the view was spectacular; we had the right company & the steak was perfect. Enough said :)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Fire-Frying Pan Situation

We were in Pune last week for a family reunion & our visit coincided with Modi's big rally at Pune's BJ Medical college. The media was full of coverage of the Modi rally & while everyone knows which newspaper/ news channel is aligned to which wing, the public debates made for some interesting reading/ viewing. 

I'm not a Modi fan. He's too right-winged to be a leader of my choice. But I'm not a  Congress fan either & I have no doubt that the country would run into economic catastrophe under the Gandhi leadership; that the money earmarked under the Food Security Bill will never make it to the poor & there is a multi-crore corruption case around every corner. And this is precisely the reason why Modi has caught the fancy of the nation's urban young. He may not be aligned to the spirit that is the building block of the country, but is there really anyone else, anyone at all, who's likely to change the economic reality of urban India? It's hard to say what really is the biggest crisis in India today - the economic or the social. And its therefore difficult to say whether its more pressing to depose someone from power who is unscrupulous in one area rather than the other.

Most young Indians I know are clearly convinced by one over the other. I don't understand how.