Sunday, May 24, 2015

Whiplash

We were pretty late in watching this movie. Way after all it's Oscar buzz. So glad though that we watched it! It's a movie that stays with you in your subconscious long after you've seen it and brings back flashbacks from your own childhood & adolescenthood, of all teachers good & terrible, of all the tribulations & humiliations of your early days, and puts in perspective what your ambitions really do to you. Most of us make pay-offs not as big as the young drummer, but we do make smaller pay-offs every day to achieve our own version of ambition, unhinging our minds every day looking for that rare approval from someone else. And after all that, we don't even aspire for greatness...'above average' stokes our self esteem just fine.  

I've always wondered how life would've been if I wasn't directionless as a youngster; if I had known clearly what my passion is and what I wanted to do with my life; if I was confident in my individuality & not directed by the herd mentality; if I had ever pushed my ambition to reach for greatness...I wouldn't be me today. On some days that feels like a good thing; on some days it doesn't.

Spotted these 3 beauties


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Luge Rides, Sentosa

So here's a fun activity to do in Singapore...mom-son luge racing...amazing fun for both!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Our little charity event

We organised a little neighbourhood fair to raise money for the victims of the Nepal Earthquake. It was a great experience for little K to see his father run a face-painting stall, me doing a photo-booth and K himself helped out at the football booth. He has been full of questions about earthquakes and fault-lines and Mount Everest since. 

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Avengers

Can't help feeling bad for Hawk Eye... clearly he has the saddest superpower in the bunch.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Supernova

We watched a Nat Geo documentary celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Hubble Telescope in orbit. It's such an inspiring human feat. And of course I love this picture of "The Pillars of Creation". (Read this if you don't already know about it: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pillars_of_Creation). 
The cosmic brilliance of this picture makes one wonder:

How can we not marvel at the enormity of the empire He orchestrates,
An explosion here with molecules playing havoc giving birth to entire galaxies,
And thousands of light years away, at the same time,
A little child's silent prayer to make the rain stop so he can play. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Bangkok Weekend

K & I went to Bangkok this weekend to see our cousins. A lot of good food, a lot of reminiscing about childhood, a lot of water activities for the kids (first time surfing for little K)...a wholesome family weekend :)

Saturday, April 04, 2015

The Star Wars Party

Little K's 6th was more fun for me than him! Loved making the Princess Leia cupcakes, the Luke-Darth Vader cake and well, um, the very deformed Yoda parathas.
I don't mean that...he definitely had more fun than me :)

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Dubai Calling

Dreamt of a manakeesh last night. Fresh out of an oven. With zaatar topping. Must go back and visit Dubai soon. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

RIP LKY

"I'm not saying that everything I did was right, but everything I did was for an honorable purpose" - Lee Kuan Yew

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Raising a NRI child

It's a delicate balance raising a child in a foreign land. On one hand, you want him to feel part of the society he is growing up in...you don't want him to be that outsider looking in. On the other hand, you want him to know his roots enough to know what his native culture is about...you don't want him to feel embarrassed or burdened by his roots. There are so many little incidents where I'm not sure how I should react to little K on these issues. 

My niece, who is older than K & growing up in the US, got challenged (& felt ridiculed) by her friends at school about how she belongs to a religion that worships cows, and she wasn't equipped to handle those challenges. Her dad then got himself a "Hinduism for Dummies" & read up on their religion while telling her she was free to believe (or not to) in what she was reading. I love this story because my niece then went back to school & made a presentation on what she understood the Hindu religious beliefs were & busted a whole lot of stereotypes. 

For kids, being "cool" is increasingly being defined for them by media. And I suppose to teach them that theres a coolness factor in being proudly different from the herd, is a challenge...not just for NRI parents.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

50 Shades

Watching "50 shades of grey" made me realize how old I am...I belong to a generation for which "Basic Instinct" was a racy film because Sharon Stone opened her legs wide. I'm not being a prude...just saying I feel old.

Why H's birthday was life changing for me

We celebrated H's birthday by taking a family trip to Tioman this year. The island is famous as a snorkeling & diving destination. 

Now I know that I'm late to the party, but remember I can't swim, so my exposure to the ocean bed had been very very limited. In Tioman, we met a lovely diving instructor named Stormy who decided to make it her mission to introduce me to the beauty of nature underwater. So despite my petrified whines, she literally pulled me into the deep(ish) waters holding both my hands and calmed my nerves. And what I saw & felt has changed my life. The sights were breathtaking! The coral shaped like purple cabbages and green lily-pads, and schools of zebra striped and rainbow colored neon fish emerging from that coral...the sheer number of colours and variety of species was simply unbelievable! And the Sharks! Who knew they were shy creatures!

We look at the world with blinders on most days & it's days like these which open our eyes to how large & diverse our world really is. The freedom of spirit I felt being in the underwater wild is indescribable. Definitely going back for more....I'm hooked.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Banned Baja Bewakoof

A lot has been said & written about the "India's Daughter" documentary. I couldn't get myself to watch it. I read the excerpts & it made my stomach churn. I don't see any value in watching a madman's rants (and that's a very personal opinion), but what an idiot of a minister thought of banning the film! Seriously, you thought that would be the best response to public anger?

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Discrimination

Abercrombie & Fitch refused a woman a job as a sales person in their store because she insisted on wearing a headscarf and that didn't gel with their "look policy". She sued them for discrimination on religious grounds & the court seems to be on her side.  

Wonder if a woman could sue a store for having a "look policy" in the first place? Is it equal opportunities if a job applicant gets or doesn't get a job based on her attractiveness? Be it a flight attendant or a waitress at Hooters?

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Bruno Pandey

I love this song and it makes me dance or at least bob my head, everytime I hear it. But am I the only one who thinks that Bruno is channelling his inner Chunkey Pandey in this video?

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Little K & Star Wars

K has now watched the Star Wars Trilogy and I had a rather lengthy discussion with him on world affairs and it went something like this....

K: If the Rebels are fighting against the evil emporer for freedom, why doesn't the emperor simply make Luke Skywalker the king? Whats so special about being the emperor anyway?

Me: Well, for some people it's important to have power.

K: Like the guy in Syria?

Me: Um, yes, like the President of Syria.

K: Are the people who are fighting against him like the Star Wars Rebels?

Me: Not quiet. They are terrorists, they aren't good guys either.

K: So who's side should we be on? 

Me: Neither, I guess.

K: I support the rebels

Me: You don't have to take sides unless you agree with what they're doing.

K: What's the difference between Rebels and terrorists?

Argh, he is 5 years old & am I feeding him western media propaganda already?

Sunday, March 01, 2015

American Sniper

I've been a Clint Eastwood fan, especially of his war movies, since Letters from Iwo Jima. But this movie felt a great deal like déjà vu of The Hurt Locker. It's probably more hard-hitting because we know it's a true story, but I didn't quite like it as much as The Hurt Locker. I still remember that scene of a disoriented soldier when he's back in an American supermarket alley choosing a box of cereal. In American Sniper I never quite understood the husband-wife relationship between Bradley Cooper & Sienna Miller. 

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

The Imitation Game

Benedict Cumberbach, you're as magical and twistedly delicious an actor as your name is! A good movie, but a great character completely owned by the actor playing it. 

Ps: If you think this is going to be a stereotypical version of an 'unlovable-genius-lacking-social-skills' you're partly right, partly wrong. Alan Turing was a mathematical genius & war hero who turned the tide of World War II by finding a way of decoding Nazi messages, but met his end in harrowing misery as his secret life as a homosexual became public. He is seemingly a cold heartless man who can make rational decisions even when people are dying due to them,  but he does have a heart underneath which carries deep scars, sorrows, love & the dark shameful secret of his homosexuality. That's how real Benedict Cumberbach makes that heart look.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The December Weddings

We spent a good part of December taking part in two wedding celebrations in India...one in Delhi & another in Goa. I don't know if it's something about weddings in general, or just Indian weddings in their larger-than-life scope of things, that make you feel optimistic about life. Weddings make me believe in lasting family bonds, in love & friendship, in connections across countries and continents that get bridged over a Punjabi dance number or a groom covered in haldi from head to toe.  

Too sappy? I need to stop writing. 

Thursday, January 08, 2015

2014 in Retrospect

It was a strange year, wasn't it? While Christopher Nolan made a movie about space travel to another galaxy & India launched a mission to Mars, here on earth, we couldn't find an enormous passenger airplane which just disappeared into thin air. Literally. While intolerance & extremism took its biggest toll on humanity & it appeared like the world is going to drive itself to a manic hateful end, it was a year when a homeless man became a YouTube sensation by buying food for others. And closer to home, it was a year when I stepped out of corporate life and pursued other (more domesticated) interests, and moved many notches higher on the happiness scale.  Who would've thunk!*

It was a memorable year. It was a year of new beginnings, in more ways than one. Getting out of a comfort zone wasn't at all as uncomfortable as I had imagined it would be. Our first mom-son trip, my first exhibition, my first book, our first big extended family reunion, K's first time to our family temple. These are treasures made of memories. 

We made another momentous decision this year (lets call it "Project 2015") & hopefully it's going to work out fine. The best part of the year was the breathless wait for the new year!

*I even baked. For pleasure!

Boyhood

So this is a movie made with tons of patience (filming only a couple of scenes every year, over a span of 12 years), so it's only fair that the movie demands the viewer to have some patience (it's a long movie that trudges along slowly and lyrically). I don't know if I loved the movie because I'm a mom of a little boy (very much like the 5-year old Mason at the beginning of the movie), or because it's a movie one can relate to irrespective. Loved the sensitive passive-watcher-through-a-secret-camera feel of what seem like petty everyday events which add up to a portrayal of a little boys coming-of-age journey. Loved, loved, loved it!
Yes, it's an extremely long movie & almost documentary-like, but never got bored. Not for a minute.

The benefit of filming a movie over so many years I suppose, is that the filmmaker doesn't need to stage any of his surroundings to the appropriate era. Britney Spears was the queen of pop 12 years ago, smart phones came along roughly 6 years ago, video games evolved, fashion evolved, hair styles and definitions of "high school coolness" evolved, and it's all captured while it happened. What a master stroke that is!

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

Haider

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

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

Gullibility

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

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Babette

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:

http://petty-change.blogspot.sg/2011/07/economists-take-on-israel-palestine.html?m=1

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 shows...so 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 Amazon.com & 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: www.findsinart.com

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: https://www.facebook.com/FindsInArt

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: http://www.nparks.gov.sg/cms/docs/HortPark_and_SouthernRidges_guide.pdf

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 :(