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

Inspired

“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

Chicken

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. 

The Garlic Ballads by Mo Yan

After Mo Yan won the Nobel prize, his books started getting displayed prominently in bookstores in Singapore & I almost picked up a copy. But then my friend S had one too & I borrowed it from her roughly 3 months ago. And I finally finished it last night. 

It's meant to be a hard-hitting, covered-in-reality-poverty-&-brutality sorta depiction of China in the 80s. Having said that how many pages can one read of poor peasants getting tortured by authorities or a young girl in love getting hammered by her family? There was a complete lack of humor or respite from the constant pitiful reality & I can't say the book made me feel much other than disgust beyond a point. I come from India & I get the psyche of honor killings. I also get the day to day callousness towards human life for those who live in abject poverty. I also understand the author's need to strip naked the ugly face of the Chinese political & social truth. But for me, it didn't make for a good read. The story needed some shreds of happiness or normalcy in the lives of its characters for the reader to feel something for them.  

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

4 going on 14

After watching all the news about the new royal baby, 4-year old K asked me today, "Why does England have a king instead of a government?"!!!
Seriously, how fast do kids grow up these days? 

Cardbot

Saw this robot sculpture made out of recycled cardboard at the National Library last evening. Pretty cool isn't it!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

An evening at an unknown island

I had never swum in the ocean before. I have always had a fear of the ocean waters & the farthest I would go was until my feet still touched the ocean bed. That changed last weekend though.
A new fear conquered :)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Georgetown Art Festival

We were all set to go for the Georgetown art festival today & so excited too! But we watched the PSI levels in Penang quite closely till yesterday & finally decided not to make the trip. As luck would have it, this morning the winds have changed course & the haze has cleared almost completely from Penang!!! Aargh!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Haze in Singapore

This whole week has been a trying time for mothers in Singapore as we watched the pollution index in Singapore go well above the "hazardous" levels and were not sure what to do while our little ones coughed and wheezed. While we stopped short of doing the rain-dance (because its traditionally performed outdoors & weren't sure whether the rain gods have x-ray vision to witness a dance performed indoors), it was a whole week of kids being trapped indoors. It sounded terrible (kids are genetically predisposed to be whiney when kept indoors for extended periods of time) but then when the universe hands out lemons to you, you gotto make some lemonade right? We did more jigsaw puzzles, reading, art work and pretend-play this week than we would in a whole month :) 

Of course my Curious George wanted to go out and "check what the haze smells like" every now & then! 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Bintan Weekend

It's been very stressful & draining few weeks at work. And sometimes all it takes to unwind & put things in perspective is a little weekend with H, little K & a few friends. I have never found a massage to be so valuable before. Much. Needed. 

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

The Visa Queue

The brown & yellow queue snaked long & far;
Letters, bank statements, testimonials (in duplicates of course) firmly clutched;
A job. A scholarship. A holiday perhaps?
Waited at the end of that never ending snake.

Impatience & light perspiration, gosh!
They filled the part of the room where the wall clock ticked behind the rude clerk.
On the other side though in that same room, there was only beautiful promise & anxious hope;
Of an escape to that first world country where dreams came true.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

The Storm Story

Little K loves listening to stories & I love making up stories for him. But today I prodded him to write one of his own. He did a pretty good job for a first time author & even provided illustrations :) These are his own thoughts & vocabulary (and religious beliefs about resurrection!); I only jotted them down. He starts off with a warning that this is going to be a very scary story!

Once upon a time there was an old village. There were big mountains in the village. Suddenly a volcano erupted from a mountain & lava fell. Then it started raining & there was loud thunder. A storm started & all the water from the storm fell in the river. Even the crocodiles in the river got scared.
People in the house were scared because there were cracks in the house & it was breaking. There was more rain & thunder. The hot lava got extinguished by the water. But the storm broke the house & all the people were dead.

Then God came alive. He took the people from under the soil & called an ambulance. Suddenly the storm stopped & the sun came out.
An ambulance came & took people to the hospital. The doctor checked them & helped them & they got better. They sat in a taxi & went to the village to build their home again. It was still drizzling in the village.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ramen

My favourite Japanese Ramen restaurant has closed down leading to some acute ramen cravings this week. A few random google searches later I have this recipe which I intend to try out. The best part is that there's no seaweed in the ingredients - that's my least favourite taste in a ramen soup!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Importance of being Earnest

We watched a local Singaporean production of this Oscar Wilde play & quite enjoyed it. The production had a twist - it worked with an all male cast, and quite cleverly made a point about the gay rights issue which doesn't get discussed as much as it should in Singapore. The lines are incredibly witty & hilarious, and the plot in all its silliness pokes fun at the pretensions society forces upon us. The performances were outstanding. We quite enjoyed this play & look forward to some more productions from Wild Rice!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Reality

The Italian film festival came to Singapore & we found ourselves at a movie named 'Reality' which apparently got some great reviews at the Cannes.

It was an interesting movie about a not-so-rich neither-too-poor fish seller in Naples who happens to audition for the "reality" show Big Brother. I've never watched Big Brother but I have seen enough reality tv to be able to imagine what it must be like. Our protagonist soon starts losing his grip over what's real & what's not. The movie makes you wonder whether selflessness could ever be a natural human trait, how would we behave as humans if we weren't so acutely aware of those watching & observing us, whether we do stage our lives (to varying degrees) based on who we think is watching us, and whether the real me is the person I am in my private thoughts or the one I am in things I say aloud or do. We do all put ourselves in the Big Brother house; seeing ourselves from other people's points of view, don't we.

The movie layers within itself a lot of the movie makers thoughts on religion, the seduction of instant fame & celebritydom, and a social commentary on working class Italy. A great watch.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Melancholy

We picked up this piece of art in Pune around 2 years ago. The art collector we got this from showed us a number of pieces made by the same person (a Calcutta based artist named Dilip Kundu who struggled to make ends meet most of his adult life, wasn't very well appreciated, and one ominous day, while still a young man, he simply left home never to return. To this day, Kundu is still reported missing & presumed dead by some, perhaps also by the family he left behind...but today 3 of his works of art are displayed at the National Museum of Modern Art in Delhi. As the unfortunate cliche goes, his art & genius were appreciated after he was gone.) The story of the artist says a lot. Its evident he was a depressed soul. And while most of his work is beautifully imaginative in the most curious way, it reflects a brooding unhappiness of the artists soul. We fell in love with all his works the moment we saw them - most of them were very intricate; in varying shades of black; quirky & outlandish; and they were invariably melancholy & disturbing. That made us apprehensive about putting one on the walls of our home. But we eventually had to get this one. It's relatively less - um, how do I say this - its relatively less 'disturbing' than some of the others, but this portrait of a man weighed down by all the stuff he has been carrying on his shoulders resonates with everyone who has ever carried any baggage. I love the simplicity of this monochromatic man, he makes me shed a tear, he makes me want to reach out & share some of the weight he carries with him. He has my pity because he seems to have lost hope & he makes me wonder how he could've created art without hope...because surely, this must be a self portrait.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Cooking NANTA

Here's one thing I haven't written about yet from our Korea trip, but I really should: the NANTA show. Its a high energy dance/ martial arts/ juggling/ drums/ comedy show based on a story of a bunch of cooks preparing for a wedding party. It's very Korean in its comedy & it's style. There's no talking, so no language issues, but theres music made out of kimchi pots & onions being diced in mid air. Gotta love the originality & creativity of the concept. And it was pretty hilarious :)

K's Fireman Birthday

On his 4th birthday, K lived his lifelong dream of being a fireman :)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

K's Taekwando lessons

It started off just like the movie 'The Karate Kid'. K used to press his nose against the glass window of the Taekwondo studio & watch with wonderstruck eyes the kids inside practicing their martial arts. He learnt a few moves on his own, by just observing them practice. Before long, he was pestering us to sign him up & we finally did. And just like the movie, he's pretty awful at it & hopefully will improve until he turns into a little Bruce Lee by the end of the movie :) For now, he's nowhere close to catching flies with chopsticks!

Which reminds me - have you watched this video on YouTube on the most intesnse taekwondo fight? :)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Where we stayed

I don't think I've written about a hotel before on my blog; but that's because I don't get easily wowed by hotels. They're usually just places you stay at when you travel. Today though, I'm going to blog about one in Seoul. 12 6 Mansion is a small B&B in the most beautiful & artsy part of Seoul. Its run by 3 sisters - one is an artist, another an aspiring screenplay writer for korean movies - both very interesting girls we quickly made friends with. They live with their mother, who makes delicious Korean breakfast & a cute dog named Shiru. There was something very personal about the experience of staying here. Hyun Chung was our friend, guide, translator & introducer-to-great-Korean-wine; and Su caught little K's fascination*. The place is designed with a lot of Su's own artwork & some great kitch design. We loved it!

*Btw, K was considered very exotic in Korea - people came up to us all the time to click pictures (sometimes without our consent) of K - and while most often we had no clue what they were saying, their gestures suggested that they were taken in by K's eyes or eyelashes. Maybe he has a future in K-Pop!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Jeju Island

We knew Jeju was going to be pretty. That was a given. But there were a few surprises about Jeju. Firstly, it wasn't the cosy tiny island we'd imagined it would be - its almost 3 times the size of Singapore (but less than half the population as Singapore). Secondly, the weather forecasts in Jeju were deceptive. They said Jeju would be warmer than Seoul - and it was - but the wind straight from the South China sea - that wind was underestimated by us! We now know what all those woolen neck warmers & ear warmers are for :)

Jeju is a volcanic island created by an eruption some 25000 years ago & has some interesting looking seaside landscape (including pillar shaped rocks, rocks that come out of nowhere in the middle of the sea, and of course the very Asian rocks-with-folk-legend-stories-attached-to-them). We did little hiking trails (as much as we could do with our lazy 3 yr old). The most famous trail in Jeju is the climb atop the massive volcanic crater; we managed to go only half way up there. But the highlight for us was our first glimpse of the cherry blossoms :)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Seoul

Seoul was unexpectedly romantic & charming - and though this sounds corny I'll go ahead & say it- soulful. We came here expecting a bustling Asian city - the likes of HK or Bangkok; but Seoul turned out to have a quaint charm about it steeped in culture, with a great art scene & the friendliest unpretentious people. It probably had to do with the fact that we stayed in the old part of the city away from the shopping & residential areas. We stayed between the two gorgeous palaces in Seoul & spent our days walking aimlessly past the little cafes & hanoks; the antiques & artifacts market in Insa-dong; the heritage homes of Bukchon & the tiniest of coffee shops which surprised us with design & aesthetic charm beyond their street-side norm. The food was amazing & the calories consumed far outweighed the calories burnt by walking.

We are in Jeju now & will write more about our days here (cherry blossoms!!!)


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Argo

Finally watched the movie & enjoyed it heaps....but what the hell is an 'exfiltration expert'? Could that really be someone's real job?

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Soul set on Seoul

We are going to Korea in 2 weeks time & its been fun planning this holiday! Our first stop is going to be in Seoul & we've been checking online for places to stay. That's how we came across the traditional hanok inns of Korea- I haven't seen one yet, but just from the photos I'm in love with their earthy, minimalistic & oriental look & feel. H isn't much of a fan of the idea of sleeping on the floor though. So maybe we'll book ourselves in one just for a night or two. Also, thought the traditional ondol floor was an interesting concept!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Life through the eyes of the unfortunate

Some of these pieces of art on display at the National Library are interesting & almost all of them send a chill down your spine. They tell stories of atrocities in or by the developed world.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Lego exhibit by Nathan Sawaya

I was awestruck by the patience; the sheer patience of this artist. I usually give up after the first 10 blocks!