Thursday, January 31, 2008

Veil of a different kind

The other day, I was watching a *makeover* reality show on tv (yes, I do such things when H is away and I can't sleep) and I thought it hideous how cosmetic enhancements are packaged in such shows as a solution to poor self-confidence, sinking romantic relationships & just unhappiness in general.

I won't say I'm opposed to cosmetic surgeries (a good friend of ours had a terrible road accident & I'm glad her face could be re-constructed). But I do have a certain disdain for the thought that one's physical appearance could be a source of unhappiness. While I worry quite often about how I look, its been just that -- a worry; never an unhappiness.

I guess the pressure to look a beauty-stereotype is much higher on the girls today than it was while I was growing up; and I'm glad it allowed me and my friends to appreciate our individuality. Yet, I wonder if I would've felt differently about cosmetic surgery if I was born with a giant hairy mole on my face :)

While in Dubai, I had written this post about my mixed feelings on the subject of women in veils. I couldn't help thinking of that post while watching the show. Maybe this is yet another case of social pressure forcing women into wearing this veil of a different kind.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Just wondering...

How could Tarzan not have a beard? Surely, there were no razors in the jungle?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Town painted red

The Chinese celebrate the lunar new year in a few days and as the tradition goes, they wear red clothes & use red charms to decorate their houses for the festival. Singaporean markets these days look so incredibly red & beautiful...

Thursday, January 24, 2008


They started airing Season 2 of "Heroes" recently in Singapore & it irks me how the writers of the show keep introducing more & more heroes/mutants on the show rather than working on their plot.

PS: Sometimes I wonder if I've a Hero living at home. Himanshu does possess the ability to stop hearing when I talk...would that count as a step forward in evolution?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A struggle called Mandarin

I started learning conversational Mandarin a couple of weeks ago & its been such a struggle :)

Of course I knew it was a tough language to pick up right from the outset; but then the pin-yin alphabets & the pronunciations were not that tough. The difficult part is getting the tones right; and thats such a unique thing about Mandarin. There are 4-5 different tones...the word "ma" for example could mean four different things when said in 4 different tones. And to my non-chinese ears they are so ridiculously difficult to tell apart!

My encouraging tutor tells me that Mandarin is one of the easiest Chinese languages to pick up. Cantonese or Haukien could have upto 12 different tones!!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Cricket Controversy

Although I think Indians made too big a deal out of the mishaps in the Sydney game, these Amul adverts made me smile.
Don't miss Sachin's expression & Ricky Ponting's tail in the second one :))

Saturday, January 19, 2008

"After the Quake" by Haruki Murakami

A great, great collection of short stories set in Japan just after the 1995 earthquake in Kobe:This was my first time reading Marukami & I already want more.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The view from my desk

Mechanical drone,
Of towering cranes.
Rushed & ruffled,
Cars & men;
All busy, all at work,
To make the city,
A bit bigger, louder.

And then in the distance,
The restful swish,
Sea collides with shore,
Gradually becomes the sky;
Proud & poised,
Looks in disdain,
At the pointless bustle on land.

PS: Incidentally, I've got one of the best seats in my office; the view is out-standing!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Treetop Walk

We went to Singapore's Macritchie Nature Reserve over the weekend & it was such a refreshing change of view from the city's regular "high-rises and more high-rises" landscape. We did a half-day walk along the 'Tree-top trail' surrounded by green on all sides. The pic below is the view from the rope-way bridge on the trail. Its not exactly nature-on-the-loose; but its close enough to the real thing without having to go out of the city :-)

Sunday, January 06, 2008

In The Country of Men

I loved reading "In The Country of Men" by Hisham Matar; a moving semi-autobiographical story of a boy growing up in post-revolution Libya.

I must admit, when I took up this book, I knew nothing about Libya or Tripoli; or Gaddafi or his Revolution & I had to wiki it up in order to understand the context of this book.

It was a window into Libya (which until now was generalised in my mind simply as 'Arab' or 'African'). One boy's story certainly doesn't describe a country; but it gives you a flavour of its cultural & political scenario.

The book, by the way, is recommended. Reminded me of "The Kite Runner" in some ways.

A good synopsis of the book here.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Amer Palace

I tried publishing this post a couple of times the other day, but for some reason, the pics wouldn't get uploaded. So here goes another attempt...

Here are a few images from our recent visit to the Amer Palace; built by Raja Man Singh in Jaipur around 400 years ago. The Hindu monarch had struck a political deal with the then Mughal king Akbar & to demonstrate his friendship with the Mughals, decorated this palace with a blend of Hindu & Muslim designs. As a result, one finds in the palace beautiful Hindu motifs like elephant heads, set in typical Mughal craftsmanship. I loved the overall harmony of design inspite of this peculiar stew of influences. Or maybe the harmony was a consequence of this unique stew...!