Friday, August 21, 2015

K's mom's school schedule

As I mentioned in my last post, little K has started going to a 'big school'. Literally. The school is huge and built like a maze and I'm constantly worried about losing K when I go to fetch him from school. But here's the most difficult part for ME about K's new school: Getting him ready on time! 
Chinese torture technique #1...take a 6 year old who normally eats a meal in 15 mins; give him 35 mins to finish his breakfast on a school morning; watch him procrastinate swallowing that first bite for 30 mins; then watch your blood boil while you stuff his face with the remaining food in the remaining time of 5 minutes! 
Ps: I'm so tired!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Friday, August 14, 2015

SG50

One word to describe the Golden Jubilee Celebrations: Grand! 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Nehru Planetarium

Did I mention that I went to the Nehru Planetarium? For the first time since I was 11 or 12 perhaps. And let me say, it didn't disappoint. Have I seen cooler science centers or space centers? Yes. But having said that, a child doesn't care about cool. All K could do was marvel at the science of space, and gape at the graphics (updated with a lot of cool Hubble Telescope images) & soak in what it means to be part of The Universe (which he now understands is "ginormous").

Roald Dahl Crazy

While we were in India, K picked up something unexpected from his older cousin: he is now obsessed with Roald Dahl books! Thought he would enjoy them a couple of years later, but he is loving them already (expect for The Witches, which fascinated him immensely but also gave him nightmares). Started with Fantastic Mr. Fox, and let's just say, he kept digging ;)

I'm so excited, we finally have a favourite author in common!!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Nasik

Our last stop on the long Indian Soujourn was the land of Sula Vineyards, Nasik. We went there to see our friend & spend some time with her little boo. Quite unexpectedly, Nasik treated us to some great monsoon beauty. The network of waterfalls & rivers leading to the mighty Godavari (the starting point of the river is very close to Nasik), made for a very picturesque setting. There was that moment under the waterfall when one wonders, why do we have to live that city life at all. 

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Mumbai by Night

They say this city never sleeps. Here's the evidence.

Mumbai

Went to Prithvi in Mumbai to catch some local theatre. After about 15 years or more. And exhilarating as it sounds, it's also a little sad that Prithvi is no longer the low-key hangout of the arty-farty crowd dressed in traditionally woven cotton saris & carrying jholas on their shoulders. Neither is it home to experimental theatre like it used to be. It's a much more commercial establishment now with back-to-back house-full shows. While that's a big yay! for the local theatre scene, it's also another little treasure island lost to Mumbai.  

By the way, traditionally woven cotton saris have also been commercialized, or rather Bollywoodised, by a certain sari label named Raw Mango. The world is going bananas. 

Delhi Diaries

I haven't spent a lot of time in Delhi, but on this trip we spent a few leisurely days there, and you know what, we actually had a lot of fun. Despite all the negative stereotypes about Delhi, it's such a culturally rich city. We stayed at the Delhi Gym (little K was so thrilled that he was neighbour to the Prime Minister of India!) & walked around the gorgeous Lodhi Gardens, went shopping in the hoity toity (in a rather chaotic way) Khan Market, ate some delicious North Indian food, went to a folk artisanal center, and soaked in some hot Delhi sun at Qutub Minar! 
And now here's the most exciting part: we did not take a flight to / from Delhi. Instead we did the overnight Rajdhani! Travelled in Indian Railways after eons & what a fun experience it was. So many great childhood memories of hot chai, sleeping on the top berths, singing songs aloud & watching mom clutch her valuables even when she was fast asleep! 

Himachal Holiday In the Hills!

Our family vacation this year was in the beautiful hills of Himachal. We made Macleodganj our base & walked through the small-town narrow* lanes to & back from Dalai Lama's residence, ate Tibetian food, shopped for trinkets, and enjoyed walking through the clouds. We couldn't have wished for a more perfect weather! 

* Incidentally, the fact that the hilly roads were so narrow was apparent only to us tourists. The local cabbies seemed to drive like they were on a 8-lane freeway. We even saw a taxi-wheel go off the edge of the road (right above a valley), & as the other taxi drivers got off to help pull the car up, it all seemed like a normal day in their lives rather than a near-death accident into a deep valley. 
One of the days, we did a short trek from Dharamkot to Bhagsu. It's a beautiful walk through the hilly huts and mountain side slopes. We passed many a dialated pupils, Israeli backpacking teenagers, ecstasy party signs, and cafes dedicated to a chillum-bearing Shiva or Bob Marley. Don't get me wrong, it didn't seem dodgy, but more like a Goa in the hills. There's a cool bohemian backpackers vibe to the place (we were in fact the only party poopers with a 6-year old in tow). And then the waterfall at the end of the trail (Bhagsu Falls) was just out of this world! What a sight! 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Fireflies Festival

The next stop on our Great Indian Sojourn was Purushwadi. Google Maps may tell you that this tiny village is close to Akole, but really it is close to nowhere! It's in the middle of mighty mountains and under the open blue sky, but pretty darn far from any other town (let alone city). The reason for our visit was to watch the fireflies extravaganza in its natural setting. You see, fireflies mate in late summer (just before monsoon begins) & it's a miraculous sight watching them glow all around you...it's like Christmas lights surrounding you; except that it's all nature. It's an experience K & I will remember all our lives! 

The other fun part of this trip was that this was our first go at "rural tourism".  And I don't mean the kind where a village-like experience is recreated for the pleasure of tourists...Purushwadi was very real & very basic! Cow-dung floors, village huts, bulls ploughing fields & bathing in gushing rivers. 
You've got to love the spirit of the young entrepreneurs of Grass Routes (www.grassroutes.co.in)...what a well-executed concept promoting rural tourism and such a great social cause bringing city folk & village folk of India together! Our host was this young village guy from Purushwadi, living with his financially-independent tractor-driving farmer-mum, pursuing his BSc in Agriculture, aspiring to do an MBA & showing us proudly the beauties of his village.

The long Indian sojourn

So little K finished his kindergarten end of May and he & I took off to India for a two-months long break. It's been our longest holiday ever and the longest we've been in India since we moved out of India (such are the perks of not being a corporate slave). 

The first leg of our trip was in Pune. We went trekking on Sinhagadh, ate dosa at Vaishali, petted rabbits at Japalouppe, spent time on J & S's horse farm, had lunch at Jadhavgadh, spent quality time with M, N & little A. It was a perfect break...much needed. 

From Pune, we went to Mahabaleshwar for a couple of days. It had rained in Mahabaleshwar just the night before we arrived & the weather was just perfect when we got there; a welcome respite from Pune's summer.

Even though I grew up in Mumbai, this was my very first visit to Mahabaleshwar. Ever. Isn't that crazy? Should go there every monsoon! 

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!