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:

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Heist men in Dubai

Everyone in Dubai is talking about the sensational jewellery store armed robbery on Sunday, because things like that never happen in Dubai. Armed robbers in two cars, rammed into the glass walls of the elite Wafi mall, and stole jewellery worth US$ 13 million at gun point from Graff Jewellers. All in less than 2 minutes. Stolen cars, masked robbers, machine guns, missing jewels, it was just like the movies. Except that it happened right here in Dubai!!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Audio Books

I had always imagined that it would be much easier to listen to a book being read, rather than read it yourself. I’ve wanted to listen to an audio book for a long time now. Just for the experience of it. Last week I finally got down to it: I downloaded Leo Tolstoy’s Childhood from Librivox onto my iPod & started the book with a lot of eagerness. But after the third chapter or so I just couldn’t keep up. I’m not sure whether it was the book & its style, or the reader & his tone; but the audio book simply couldn’t keep me hooked on.

I love books. So I wondered why I shouldn’t love listening to a book vs. reading it. I recall a scene from Ray Bradbury’s Farhenheit 451 where a character (I think it was the professor) says that the advantage of books over other mass media was that you can read something in a book, mull over it at your own pace & ask the book to shut up till you’re ready to go to the next line.

Maybe that’s what it is. Or maybe it’s just me.

Sunday Morning Quiz

Does the word 'bi-monthly' mean 'twice a month' or 'once in two months'?

(Now try to answer that without looking up the dictionary!)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Beauty & Age

Dove Pro-Age launched this ad campaign targeted at women in their 40s and beyond, by signing up a bunch of grand-moms to bare it all for the camera. American television banned the adverts (too much skin), but they're up on the website. Some people thought the campaign was in bad taste, some thought it was beautiful; well it did create the stir it was meant to create.

While on the subject of beauty - Its become so fashionable for beauty product or diamond commercials these days to use terms like 'potential within' or 'inner beauty' while sending the simple message to consumers 'use our products to look pretty'. They say they're trying to re-create the image of female beauty here; but arent they just trying to veil it with some pseudo-feminist expressions? I find it very amusing, sometimes annoying. What woman would depend on a face cream to reach her 'potential within'?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Right to nuclear energy...

...championed by a tactless leader!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Monsieur Ibrahim

I had heard a lot about this movie; and when I finally watched it last evening, it so lived upto my expectations!

Monsieur Ibrahim is a fictionalized account of a true story, set in the poor neighbourhood of Paris of the 1960s. A 16-year-old almost-orphaned Jewish boy Moses (Momo) strikes a friendship with Ibrahim, an old Turkish-Muslim immigrant who runs a grocery store opposite Momo's apartment. Ibrahim introduces Momo to faith, happiness & love on their journey together, and the story is about both - Ibrahim as well as Momo - finding peace & purpose. One of the most tender moments of the movie is when Ibrahim shares his interpretation of Sufism with Momo.

Omar Sharif is outstanding in his comeback movie; he looks & lives the character of Ibrahim. I did not fully understand the part involving Momo's brother Paulie (whether he really exists), and I'm not sure whether that part of the story was intended to be ambiguous. But overall, I thought it was a great sensitive movie.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Rhyme Challenge

Apparently 'Silver' and 'Orange' are the two most difficult words to rhyme with in the English language. I've made many attempts in my head to rhyme with these words; and here is my best attempt so far:

Jack wore gold;
Jill wore silver.
They went up a hill;
and then they just fell 'ver.

(Come on - it works if you say the last line really fast!).
Any suggestions for 'Orange'?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Service Center to the World

I had read a lot about the flourishing outsourcing industry in India; but the other day I heard someone from the industry describe this whole new BPO world within the Indian cities & it was an eye-opener.

Large western companies outsource their servicing requirements to India, but do not necessarily want their clients to know that their calls are being answered by Indians. Not only are the tele-executives trained to speak with western accents; they’re trained in western culture & key telephone phrases from the west. They’re also encouraged to adopt western ‘call center names’ when speaking to clients, rather than their regular Indian names. But here is what was disturbing: hate-calls from customers are not uncommon at all. There will ever so often be this freak American who will call up & scream about the bloody terrorist race taking over his job!

These are after all 18 to 20-year-old university students answering the calls & I cant help but wonder how they feel at the end of the day. Do they still feel connected to their country & culture?

Best ice-crem ever:

Haagen-Dazs' Tiramisu flavour

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Desert Louvre

Abu Dhabi will soon be home to art from the Louvre in Paris. Apparently the French are furious about the 500-million-Euro-deal; they thought France was “selling its soul” (that cheap?).

On the other hand, I wonder whether the nude, erotic or christian art will be taken well by the muslim conservatives. The Louvre (Paris) has an entire section on Islamic Art; but apart from that doesn’t about every piece seem like it will cause a stir in Abu Dhabi?