Monday, December 31, 2007

A Happy New Year

Another year ends & yet another begins. And yet again a resolve to take a step back and look at life anew. I've made many mental notes again of the things I intend to do in the new year; of dreams that are waiting to be realised; of songs that are waiting to be sung; of roses that are waiting to be smelt. And my reminder to myself:

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

- Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Twice as good

Good hindi movies are rare & to be able to catch two of them in a row is a chance one gets only once in 300 years.

I think 'Khoya Khoya Chand' is a great & intense movie. Like "Hazaaron Khwahishey Aisi" made two years ago by the same director; this movie too is under-rated. Set in Mumbai's movie-world of 1950s, Shiney Ahuja plays a Guru-Dutt-ish character; passionate & brooding; whereas Soha Khan plays a Meena-Kumari-ish actress; successful yet tragic. The movie follows the amorous love story of the two characters with the black-and-white Bollywood as a backdrop -- its vulgar inside as well as the glossy outside.

The other great movie I watched last week was 'Taare Zameen Par'; it had me sobbing away through out :) This is a story of a 8-year-old kid, gifted with intelligence & creativity, but he suffers from dyslexia & learning disabilities. Scorned by friends and punished by adults who don't recognise his disabilities, the kid finds his sense of self-worth almost completely eroded; until a sensitive art teacher turns his life around.

The movie made me go back in memory to my school days and remember all the 'under-performers' from my school and spare a thought for what they would've gone through. The movie also makes a strong statement on whats wrong with the competitive Indian education system that makes great doctors & engineers out of some school kids; but is ruthless to the rest of them.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The holiday so far

A quick update: Have been super-busy with the four back-to-back weddings; but have been having so much fun!

The week in Kathmandu was great & the highlight was the short flight we took over the Himalayan mountain range to spot Mt. Everest. I must admit though that the view of the entire snow-topped range is so imposing; it gets difficult to figure out that the peak of Everest is indeed taller than its peers.
The half-week in Jaipur was my first exposure to Rajasthan & now I so want to be a Rajput princess in my next life. If I had to choose one photographic memory of Jaipur it would be this one: the 'Sheesh Mahal' (Palace of mirrors) in Amer Palace. Its nothing like the Bollywood version seen in Madhubala's Mughal-e-Azam, but its beautiful nevertheless. And then we went to Mumbai and it was the the best part of the holiday thanks to my darling nephew !!!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Holiday spirit

Have a long holiday planned this December; starting with Kathmandu, then Jaipur, a short stay in Delhi & finally to our respective homes (Bombay & Pune). Can't wait for it to begin !!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

On My Bookshelf

Came to my mind when I was browsing through my bookshelf & glanced at two of my favourite classics:

Perched together,
Tagore & Tolstoy,
Unfold two lives,
Of enchanting beauty,
And tragic love.

Apart even though,
In distance & time,
Binodini in Bengal,
Born in Tagore's ink;
Anna, a Russian Karenina,
Of Tolstoy's times;

But here on my bookshelf,

Share a fate nonetheless,
A beckoning of love,
A disenchanted life.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Trip to Cambodia - Part II

While in Siam Reap, we visited a "Floating Village". Now the whole concept would seem bizzare to you & me; but its an established way of life for many Cambodian fishermen. This village on the lake is made of houses built like boats. So one might go to bed one night in one corner of the lake & find himself drifted to another part of the lake the following morning! As the lake changes shape (it gets smaller & shallower during summer); the village moves to deeper locations. There are no fixed neighbours; no fixed directions; no fixed views from the bedroom windows....everything is adrift.

I would find it impossible to live in such a fluid & mobile *home*; but then sitting in a multi-storeyed condo in Singapore, I realise that circumstances are a matter of perception. While I dare not put myself in the shoes of those villagers (in my smug belief that my life is so much better than theirs); their bright shining faces told me, that the joys in their lives were as real as the joys in mine.

A floating restaurant, a floating church, a floating school & some floating houses (yes, those are TV antennae on those water-huts!!)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Trip to Cambodia

I'm back from the short trip to Cambodia & I'm still mesmerised by the place. We spent most of our time exploring the ancient ruins of the Angkor sites & absolutely loved them all.

Although "Angkor Wat" is the most famous monument in the country; my favourite has to be the Bayon Temple built in the 8th century by King Jayavarman VII. Its decorated with 216 massive faces of an ancient deity; made to resemble the face of the King himself. What an ego-trip he would've been on! But the result is absolutely breath-taking. There is such enigma in the upward pointing self-absorbed smiles on these faces :)
Of course there is the 'Ta Prohm' Temple; made famous by Lara Croft's 'Tomb Raider'. The once-beautiful temples now in the clutches of giant tree roots; can get seriously spooky :) But its difficult to miss the fierce beauty of nature & its stampede here. It is fit to be the backdrop of a Hollywood movie!

And then there were the people of Cambodia; who make simplicity look so endearing! Especially the small kids who study by day & run around the western tourists by noon trying to make money by selling bangles & postcards...they really are angels!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Happy Diwali Everyone!

This year we celebrated Diwali the good old way after many years, since Diwali is a public holiday in Singapore. So we put up our Diwali decorations & lights; wore Indian clothes; got lots of Diwali sweets & played taash (cards) till late in the night.

Hope everyone has a festive & fantastic Diwali!!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Facebook

Yesterday when Microsoft picked up a stake in Facebook, there was a lot of talk about how a 3-year-old company was valued at $ 15 billion & became the most expensive internet start-up.

I'm an avid Facebooker & I think its a brilliant concept: not just as a networking site or as a business idea, but as a platform for creativity.

I continue to be amazed by the hundreds of new tools that young "college-students-cum-entrepreneurs" come up with everyday on Facebook. I read somewhere that the makers of one of the Facebook applications (was it "The Super Wall"?) are millionaires in their own right.

Its like a beauty contest for creativity; and that makes it fantastic.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

History

The travel bug bit me again. We're going to Cambodia next month (yippie, I'm so excited!!). Planning this trip is like a dive into history: the Angkor sites are beautiful silent witnesses to rich ancient heritage; whereas the land-mine museum is a testimony to the depths of human avarice. This thought crossed my mind while I was sitting with my copy of the Lonely Planet- Cambodia:

History appears in many ways:
Through books, through stories,
Through songs, through cities.

Through pyramids & castles,
Through battle grounds & grave yards,
Through food & thought,
Through poetry, through art.

In the crystal ball,
There it is,
Only a pretense of future,
In fact a copy of the past.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Dali Statue

Singapore has a great public art collection, which can be seen in many parts of the Central Business District. This piece here is created by Salvador Dali and is called "Homage to Newton" (popularly called simply "The Dali Statue"). Bizzare as Dali's surrealist style looks, I find his work here quite interesting.

It is a homage to Isaac Newton & his pursuit of science. The plaque below the statue explains that the open torso is meant to depict Newton's open-heartedness & the open skull is meant to depict his open-mindedness; both important qualities for not just pursuit of science, but all human endevours.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Baby Blues

A good friend of mine had a baby recently & she wonders why people use the term "sleep like a baby" to mean "sound sleep"; when in fact babies wake up every two hours.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Sacred Games

Although I wouldn’t count it among my favourite books, I quite enjoyed reading ‘Shantaram’ last year; mostly for its close-up view of the politics of the infamous-yet-awe-inspiring Mumbai underworld.

Bollywood has always glamourised tales of ‘poor-man-turned-powerful’ as well as ‘don-with-ethics’; told umpteen times in the 80s mostly with Amitabh portraying a diamond-smuggler; and lately there have been good mafia movies like Company & Sarkar. However the underworld has rarely shown up in good Indian literature (or maybe I missed those books).

Last week I borrowed Vikram Chandra’s ‘Sacred Games’ from a friend and I’m only half-way through the book now, but I already like the way the author has dealt with the theme. The food-chains in the mafia, the police force, political parties & even Bollywood are portrayed as flesh-and-blood persons. The power struggle, corruption & politics of it all make a gripping story, but they’re only secondary. The characters make this book worth reading. They all look, feel & smell like Mumbai.

PS: Have you noticed how Indian authors & movie-makers have suddenly become cool about the usage of hindi profanities? :)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Just Another Thought

We sat in silence one day & I realised,
'Silence' need not be the lack of words;
It could often speak truth instead of babble.

I saw a soaring dove one day & I realised,
'White' need not be the lack of colours;
it could often be the union of all the vibrant ones.

I saw a girl reading one day & I realised,
'Solitude' need not be the lack of people;
It could often be time spent with yourself.

I smiled to myself today & I realised,
'Bliss' need not be the lack of troubles;
It often is a constellation of happy moments.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Arithmetic of Life and Death

I bought a delightful little book the other day called "The Arithmetic of Life & Death" written by mathematician George Shaffner. Its a book which approaches arithmetic the way 'Freakonomics' approached economics (although this book came about much before Freakonomics). Its simple, meant for lay-men, and seeks to explain the world & its ways through math. Well, I thought most of the arguments in the book were too simplistic, but I didnt mind reading them because they were quite interesting.

What I did love about the book was the wit & humour. This is the opening line of the book..."Since six billion people now occupy the planet earth, one could conclude that human life is as common as dirt in Denmark".

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Hubble Telescope Pictures

I saw these pictures of the space taken from the Hubble Space Telescope & I was so amazed & astonished by them, I just had to post them. It's not that I didn’t know that the universe is massive, but to see it captured on camera is something else!

This picture is of the Sombrero Galaxy, which has 800 billion suns & 50,000 light years wide. Unbelievable! One of those rare occassions when we feel proud of being the most intelligent species on the planet!

PS: Would the 'God's Eye View' of the universe look like this?

Update: This picture also reminds me of one of the fables I'd read in a Khalil Gibran book:
A fish said to another fish, "Above this sea of ours there is another sea, with creatures swimming in it -- and they live there even as we live here." The fish replied, "Pure fancy! Pure fancy! When you know that everything that leaves our sea by even an inch, and stays out of it, dies. What proof have you of other lives in other seas?"

Monday, August 27, 2007

WOMAD Festival in Singapore

Had an interesting weekend; we watched the WOMAD concert. WOMAD stands for 'World of Music Arts and Dance' and is an annual festival hosted in many parts of the world. Singapore is the only location in Asia where the festival travels to.

We enjoyed listening to some non-mainstream music from across the world. The representation from the sub-continent included 'The Dhol Foundation' which is a Punjabi-Brit band of two drummers (their 'dhol workshop' was fun). Other interesting gigs included an Israeli band which got the crowd to sing in Hebrew (!!), a Japanese folk-rock band, and a band from Senegal with its catchy African tunes.

The evening got me thinking: isn't there a common bond between all of us that runs deeper than all the cultural & other differences?

Friday, August 24, 2007

The King & I

'The King & I' is one of the longest running musicals on Broadway; and we were lucky to catch the play on its Singapore tour last night. I had seen the movie version- ‘Anna & the King’ starring Jodie Foster- but the play had a different charm. The costumes were breathtaking, the Thai dances were beautiful and elegant, the actors (especially the girl who plays Anna) had great singing & acting talent; and some of the lines had first-rate wit & humour.

What made the evening special was also the fact that this was our first visit to the massive ‘Esplanade Theatre’ of Singapore. The theater is grand from inside & architecturally impressive from the outside (its made to resemble a durian, I'm told).

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Nostalgia

I remember the days back then
the postman used to come around ten
& drop envelopes with letters in them.


Stamp of the place from where the letter came
hinting towards the sender's name
& the scent of travels endured since then.


I remember the anticipation in my head
till the letter was opened and read; re-read
it was so difficult not to run ahead :)


What spoke from the letter weren't just words
the perfume, the paper, the handwriting spoke two-thirds
completed by the stains of tears absurd.


Crossed out what was felt but couldn’t be said
then again, wrote again; carefully tread
after all veils cant be completely shed.


Once the letter was signed & ready to go
what was earlier neglected was added in the 'P.S.' below
grateful to the margins that allowed the letter to grow.


Now of course we're in the 'e-mail' times
they're quick, clinical and used often times
but dont we miss the postman sometimes?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Dont you agree?

I saw these words on one of the walls of the 'Singapore Art Museum' ...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Homesick

I wonder as I look back at the footprints I've left behind;

How the grains of sand cling to my feet;
from the places I left behind.

With every step forward, the sand makes patterns on my feet;
from the places I left behind.

The people I met; the friends I loved; the life I lived;
from the places I left behind.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Amongst Men A Man

We've moved from the hotel to a serviced apartment (until we move into a regular apartment on September 1st). The serviced apartment happens to be right next to the 'Singapore Art Museum' & I like wandering into it....its got a pretty interesting collection of modern art. This one below is titled 'Amongst Men A Man'.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Old Hill Street Police Station

This is one of Singapore's older buildings. It used to be a police station in 1930s; it is now home to the ministries of information, communication & arts. I love the colourful window panes!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Botanical Art

The other day we were walking along the Botanical Gardens of Singapore, when I came across these sculptures made out of stumps of tree trunks; and I thought they were quite groovy.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Samarkand

When we left Dubai, I wanted to buy a parting gift for myself; something uniquely Middle Eastern. So I picked up this book: the english translation (the original is in french) of Amin Maalouf's historical novel 'Samarkand'. And wow, what a great book it turned out to be!

Maalouf has taken the historical facts from 12th century Persia & used beautiful imaginative threads of fiction to connect them. Omar Khayyam, the celebrated 12th century Persian poet, philosopher & mathematician is the main character of this tale. The story traces the birth of Khayyam's famous book of persian poetry called Rubaiyat which earned him praise from many intellectuals & wrath of many religious zealots. As the legend goes, Khayyam was being tried by a qadi (a religious judge) for his supposedly 'un-islamic' verses; but instead finds a friend and sympathiser in the qadi who explains to Khayyam that the world is not yet ready for his philosophy & urges him to write down his private thoughts in a small notebook. This was the beginnning of the Rubaiyat. The book follows the manuscript of the Rubaiyat all the way to 19th century Persia through the revolution & the resultant democracy.

Here's a quatrain from Khayyam's Rubaiyat that I liked :)

"I sent my Soul through the Invisible,
Some letter of that After-life to spell:
And by and by my Soul returned to me,
And answered "I Myself am Heaven and Hell"

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Colourful Clarke Quay

We're staying at Clarke Quay at the moment & its a really colourful part of the city. Literally.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Arrived

Last week we finally packed our stuff from Dubai and arrived in Singapore this Monday. We're living out of our suitcase at the moment & its not easy finding an apartment in Singapore. All we've managed to do so far is make a checklist of 'must-haves' for our home (proximity to a MRT station, proximity to work & a decent size are at the top check-boxes for now).

In the meanwhile, I've managed to collect a lot of fengshui charms for the apartment (which we haven't yet found). Singapore's China Town is full of them! The picture on the left is the biggest fengshui charm of the city; its called the "Fountain of Wealth".

The 'Fountain of Wealth' is surrounded by five high-rises representing the five fingers of a hand, and the Fountain itself symbolises the ring in the palm of the hand. The water flowing into the ring is a symbol of fengshui good luck. Dont want to get superstitious here, but if you see the recent boom in this city/ country the charm seems to be working :)

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The New Star

I went to India over the weekend to see my nephew and he is such a cutie!! He has everyone wrapped around his little finger...one look at his crying face and who could say no to him? :)

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Ice Cafe in Dubai

It was 43 degrees celcius in Dubai today afternoon when we went to the ice cafe; where the temperature was negative 6 degrees :)...Here are a few pictures of the cafe:
As the name suggests, the tables, the seats, even those cute things hanging from the ceiling - all are made completely of ice.

Then they've made the Dubai skyline out of ice on one of the walls :-)

Thats my drink served in an ice glass at the ice bar.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Relocating to Singapore

We are re-locating to Singapore in August & its going to be a big change! Are we excited at the prospect of living in a new city? Of course we are.

But I’ve spent hours thinking about all the things I’m going to miss about Dubai. I’m going to miss my friends, my apartment, my colleagues, the winters, the shawarmas, the house-help, hommour, DIFC, Shk Zayed Road, sheesha cafes, sheesh-taouk, the half-days in Ramadan, the creek, the weekends in Fujairah, and the general buzz of boom in Dubai...Sigh!

But to answer Nelly Furtado’s question, good things come to an end so that better things could begin! :)

The Black Swan

Nassim Taleb is a probabilist & a hedge-fund manager. I started reading his book out of academic interest in financial markets, but a few pages into the book, I realised that The Black Swan is as pertinent to markets as to life in general.

In the old world, people believed that all swans are white. Then the Australian continent was discovered & people were shocked to find black swans. That is the point of this book.

The universe is unpredictable, and the improbable events are the ones that shape the world. Human mind is programmed to find patterns in events; based on what we believe is empirical evidence. Hence we concentrate on the center of the bell-curve, when in fact we should be looking at the extremes.

The idea is told quite fascinatingly by Taleb, through many stories & anecdotes. The book at no point gets into mathematics, but dwells in the concepts. He extends his Black Swan Theory into interesting alleys of thought: career advice, explanation of wars (or the lack of it), philosophy, why people who don't read newspapers are better off... I didn't quite agree with all the ideas but enjoyed reading them all the same. A very stimulating read.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Just wondering...

...that, if broccoli & spinach were advertised as much and as well as pizzas & chocolates, would they taste as good to us?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Glass Ceiling

We had this discussion at work the other day: In this day & age, do women still have a disadvantage in their workplace, on account of their gender?

Personally, I have never in my career of 5 years felt discriminated against by my bosses or my colleagues; because I'm a woman.

Yet, there are more subtle disadvantages that I think a woman faces in the course of her career; the biggest of them being the social expectations of getting married & having babies. I know many good female students from my b-school who opted out of careers in order to raise families. The ones who are still in careers & are married, clearly have a preference for 'less stressful' jobs so that they could be home in time to enjoy a quality married life. It certainly is a matter of personal choice & priorities; but is it not also a matter of social conditioning which forces women to see 'home-making' as their role?

The thing about the glass ceilings is that, its easy to miss it even if you're directly under it.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

The Lion King

We watched the musical The Lion King at London's Lyceum Theatre. I have been a fan of the animated movie but have been curious to see how it would be presented on stage.

I was so impressed with the production quality of this play: the costumes, the sets, the tools used; are so imaginative and creative! It was quite breath-taking how the scene where Simba loses his dad in a jungle stampede was depicted on stage. Or how the costumes of Scarface & Mufasa made them look evil or majestic respectively. Or how the set of the hyena strong-hold, the graveyard, gave the stage an eerie creepy feel.

I loved it all!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Royal Family

In London, there are only two kinds of tabloid celebrities: Kate Moss & the Royals. Absolutely everyone in & around London loves to talk about the royal family. Diana still makes it to the front page of tabloids! I found it amusing how souvenir shops in London sell these royal family postcards; do they really have such a big fan following? :)The other day at the Harrods, our cabbie was quick to point out how there are so many flags outside the store but not the English flag. Apparently Muhammed Al Fayed decided to take the flag off after his son Dodi's death for which he publicly blamed the Queen. Like a true Londoner, our cabbie thought it was a story worth telling :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cambridge

Yesterday, we took a day trip to Cambridge. The weather was awful; but the place was beautiful beyond words! Cambridge is a college-town with 31 colleges...the most breathtaking is the Kings College & its cathedral: The 'Trinity College' is the most coveted and richest college in Cambridge. Prince Charles studied here in the 1970s. As the legend goes, he wanted to have as normal a student life as possible; so there was only one body guard around him who shadowed him around through out his college life. In the end the body guard decided to take exams as well and it so happened that he fared better than the Prince himself :) The best part about Cambridge were the quaint bridges across the River Cam. We went punting along the river and I havent felt so relaxed & peaceful in a long time.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Holiday Part II

On Friday evening, we said our goodbyes to our friends in NYC and left for London. This is my first time in London & I absolutely love the old-ness (if there is a word like that) of this city. Every corner of the city seems to have its own character. Will write more about the fun times we are having in London!!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

MoMA

We visited today NYC's Museum of Modern Art. One of the walls on the second floor of the museum is covered with some very witty graffiti-style drawings that in a 'tongue-in-cheek' way talk about how crazy our world has become. I particularly loved these... :)








Wednesday, May 23, 2007

How true

From a wall of the FDR Memorial in DC....'More than an end to war, we want an end to the beginnings of all wars'...

Huh???

I would've liked to see this exhibition in DC, just because I'm curious what it could be about...this promo picture is so bizzare!! Unfortunately I wouldnt be around for the actual exhibit.

Wall Street

The other day we were walking down Wall Street and apart from a couple of banker-types, the street was filled with a multitude of tourists clicking away at the NYSE building. Isn't it incredible that a single ordinary looking street (and it really is such a narrow ordinary street)with nothing but office spaces & banks should become such a huge tourist attraction and a symbol of American prosperity?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Holiday!!!

H & I decided that we needed a break and took this vacation without much planning. The best part about our vacation this time is that its not about seeing places, but meeting up with dear old friends whom we haven't seen in ages. We landed in NYC two days ago and are at the moment enjoying the view from Meghna's 21st storey apartment facing the Hudson and downtown Manhattan :)
It's the perfect break we had been hoping for!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

No more sausages

I was in Frankfurt on work for a good part of last week. My hosts there invited me for authentic Frankfurt dinners & I continue to be amazed by the amount & variety of meat the Germans eat in their daily meal.
The two things I refused to try however were 'blood sausages' and 'liver sausages' (as a matter of principle, I dont like to eat anything with the word 'blood' in it!). I'm a meat-lover, but I've never seen so much meat in one meal anywhere but in Germany!

My visit happened to coincide with a huge 'meat fair' that was being held in Frankfurt; so there were meat adverts & commercials everywhere in the city. In the end, I think it was this advert that finally has put me off sausages for a long time to come....

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Little Angel

This little angel is my brand new nephew! I'm so excited, I can't wait to see him when I go to Mumbai next month. My brother & sister-in-law are so proud of him already.
Becoming an aunt, of course comes with the huge responsibility of spoiling the nephew and making sure he gets to do all the cool things his parents won't let him do. So I hope I do my job well! :)

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Yacoubian Building

Last year, when I visited Cairo, I remember thinking how similar it was to my home-city of Bombay. It is a city of contradictions: where the very rich and the very poor live down the same street; where the once-elegant colonial structures blend into the general landscape of indifference; where people come to terms with the lack of fairness in the world & yet dream of good lives for themselves. My impressions of Cairo were confirmed when last week I read Alaa Al Aswany’s controversial ‘The Yacoubian Building’.

I loved the book. Not only is Al Aswany great at story-telling, he is also fearless. He gets his characters to open the closet doors wide, so that the skeletons come tumbling down: political corruption, homosexuality, militant nationalism, sexual repression, exploitation & other such taboo issues. The stories & characters are a slice out of modern Cairo & yet, they could have been in any big third world city. It provides a great insight into why the youth of these cities either leave the cities for the glossier lives in western cities or get misguided into believing that the only solution to their circumstances lies in extremist nationalism. Cynical, but thought provoking & overall, an excellent read. Highly recommended.

Five things you don’t know about me

We were moving apartments last week & I was away from blogging while my internet connection was lost in a big mess of wires waiting to be re-connected. In the meanwhile, Kaya tagged me to write about ‘Five things you don’t know about me!

So here goes:
1. My favourite way of spending a weekend usually involves one of the following: books, movies, art, friends, nice dinner, and interesting conversations.
2. I am a dud when it comes to electronics, cars & technology. I depend on H completely when having to make decisions involving any of these.
3. I love traveling & taking holidays (who doesn’t!); but I also get home-sick quite quickly.
4. My most horrible habits include biting my nails & checking my blackberry too often.
5. I can be so well-organised & hard-working at work, but I’m a slob at home (I hate doing dishes or ironing clothes!)

Time to tag the next five: they are Clickable, Optimistic Guard, Moi, Mr.J, Happy Reader

Monday, April 30, 2007

Kids with cameras

I didn’t think I would want to watch a documentary film. Especially not one called ‘Born in the Brothels’; because I imagined it would be drenched in pathos & misery. So it was very grudgingly that I borrowed the DVD from a friend who recommended the film. And now I am glad I did.

Ross Kauffmann & Zana Briski are two photographers who wanted to photograph the women in the red-light district of Calcutta in India & decided that the best way to capture the reality of their lives was to go and live there. While they were there, Zana befriended the children of the sex-workers & started teaching them photography. The documentary is based on the lives of eight of these kids who discovered photography & hope around the same time, thanks to Zana. The great part about it is that although the kids are born in brothels, the documentary does not focus on the misery in their lives, but rather on the sparks in their eyes. These kids are adorable! Sure, there are moments in the documentary that gave me goose-bumps (the scene where a little boy shrugs & says he was flying kites on the terrace because his mom was ‘at work’ in their room; or when a girl talks about drunken men coming to her house). But mostly, the documentary is about the kids being kids inspite of their surroundings. When they visit the clinic for a HIV test, they worry more about how much the needle would hurt; and never about the result. When they speak of their fathers, they speak with love inspite of who they are. When they were asked to sign the photographs for their first exhibition, they couldnt because their hands were shaking with excitement & nervousness. When they finally leave the brothel for school, they have tears in their eyes because they’re leaving *home*.

The documentary was made in 2004. The kids have grown up since then, and it is so great to read this update on their lives!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Banker Joke :)

A banker was driving his big BMW down the highway, singing to himself, "I love my BMW, I love my BMW." Suddenly, he smashed into a tree. He miraculously survived, but his car was totaled. "My BMW! My BMW!" he sobbed.

A good samaritan drove by and cried out, "Sir, sir, you're bleeding! And my God, your left arm is gone!"

The banker, horrified, screamed "My Rolex! My Rolex!"

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Restaurant Tag

Lotus tagged me with the ‘5 Favourite Places to eat in my City’ & being such a foodie, I’ve been wondering how I could make a shortlist of only 5 places. So I’m going go about this one cuisine at a time:

1) I was introduced to good Lebanese cuisine only when I moved to Dubai about 3 years ago. The shawarma is the single biggest gift Arabs have given to the world (Nah, its not oil, if you thought it was, then you haven’t eaten good shawarmas yet). And the best place for a good shawarma is not in a fancy Leb restaurant, but at road-side stalls. Personally I think the chicken shawarmas at Al Malla in Satwa are the best; but if I’m in the mood for more classy dining I like Nafoorah in Emirates Towers.

2) Another cuisine I tried in Dubai for the first time was Pakistani cuisine. Most people think Indian & Pakistani cuisines are the same. Not quite. Sure, they both have spices & curries; but if you’ve tried the Friday buffet at Barbeque Delights opposite Lamcy, you’ll know how the two cuisines are yummy in different ways!

3) With the huge number of Brits, one can’t escape an English restaurant in Dubai. English breakfasts are the best thing to start a weekend with & I guess nobody does that better than More CafĂ© (Murooj) or Coco’s (Shk Zayed Road). And fish-n-chips are best had at Double Decker!!

4) For Oriental food, the best restaurants are Noodle House, or the teriyaki grill at Tokyo@the Towers (Emirates Towers) – an entertaining chef chops & cooks in front of you; but mind you, he gets uncomfortable if you ask him which part of Japan he belongs to, because he is actually a Philipino :) . Sushi is not in my favourite list, but I quite liked the sushi in Sumo Bento at the 1st interchange.

5) Desserts are not a cuisine by themselves, but there are so many places I like just for their desserts! The sizzling brownie at Nandos & the carrot cake at Limetree are pure yumminess!

Finally, as per the rules of the tag, I need to tag five people from five cities; and the lucky (!!) people are: Meghna (New York), Lalunadiosa (Ithaca), Kaya (Abu Dhabi), Ayesha (Mumbai), Suramya (Bangalore).

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Flight of the Falcons

Dubai is famous for many things. Public Art is not one of them. In 2004, Dubai made a start however, when artists were invited for the Arabian Horse & the Camel Caravan series. The painted animals were placed at traffic junctions, outside malls, hotels, parks. This year, the trilogy was completed by the national bird: the falcon. There are colourful painted falcons in every corner of Dubai. Here are some of the prettier ones: