Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Newsroom

We've started following this show called "The Newsroom". Perhaps a little too idealistic in its approach;  too right-winged in its philosophy; too smug in its high ground & too one-sided on economic issues; but I still like the premise of the show - a media team with a moral backbone - the world needs those!

2012 in retrospect

2012 seems like an incredibly long year in retrospect. Maybe because it was the year of making amends & getting things right. But now that we're close to the end of this year, it feels great to have turned things around; knowing priorities & seeing things in a clearer light (I still regret not having seen them sooner).

As a mother, the new year is making me nervous. K is going to start his 4th year of life & is already showing signs of independence (the kind I dreamed of when he was younger; but now that its looming so close I'm craving for his clinginess-to-mom again!)

I've never been prouder of H. This has been a hard year for us & he has been my pillar of strength. I still wish he would quit smoking though....If only I could make resolutions on his behalf!

My first resolution for the new year is to focus on my health. This really shouldn't be a resolution; should be a way of routine life; but every good habit needs to start somewhere I suppose. And my other resolution is to focus on a dream project of mine that I've been ruminating over for a while now - its time to roll up the sleeves & get working on it.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The India trip

We've spent the past few weeks in India & like every year, this trip too felt much too short & chaotic.

We spent some time in Delhi this year for a friend's wedding. Delhi was cold, had lip smacking food, a lot of family and overall did good for little K's Hindi language skills. It was peak wedding season & there were as many ghodis on the roads as people. Delhi weddings are of course great for people watching - they know how to bring on the bling!

From Delhi we took a short family holiday at the Jim Corbett National Park. We stayed in lovely cottages by the Kosi river & were brave enough to venture a sunrise safari in an open jeep when the temperature hovered around 5-6 degrees. Our bravery was rewarded by a rare sighting of a tiger in the wild! K and his cousin however felt rather underwhelmed by the tiger sighting & pronounced that tigers had been seen more clearly on tv before. The boys had great fun in the forest though. The elephants & their toilet habits fascinated them immensely.

I love watching my parents interact with K. Their relationship with grand kids is nothing like their relationship with me or my brother. They are so much more patient as grand parents & care so little about discipline & other such mundane things! I'm not quite sure when this change happened & why me or my brother failed to draw this side of their personality to the fore when we were younger. In any case, there's something very heart warming about watching your young one bond with your parents.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Disney Hong Kong

We went to Disneyland over the weekend and it was such a special experience for K. He can't stop talking about the space rides and the 3D show and the bumping cars! Its like he's seen a magical land and there's no wonder left in the rest of the world now :)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Italy after-effects

Walked into K's room & saw him standing on his bed. With a brush in his hand & trying to reach the ceiling. "I think I want to make a fresco. Like the one in the Pope's home".

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Switzerland-Italy in a nutshell

I've been away from my blog for a while now. Among many things that have transpired, the most exciting has been the trip to Europe. We visited some old friends in Switzerland & absolutely loved the Swiss countryside. Little K didn't do too well in the snow, but loved it anyway. This was then followed by a crazy road trip to Italy - starting from a very hot & sultry Rome; going to peaceful middle-of-a-vineyard Tuscany & ending with the Grand Canal in Venice. This was the most chaotic holiday we've ever had - with 5 families involving 7 kids. It was great fun catching up with our old friends & their new off-springs. Priceless! :)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Wolfgang Puck's CUT

We don't do very-fine-dining very often, but we did it recently for a special occassion. We went to Michelin star chef Wolfgang Puck's restaurant in Marina Bay Sands called 'Cut'. Now I don't think I can review a steak restaurant with any sort of authority given that I eat my meat 'well done' & like it with a lot of greens. But having said that, I do love my meat & even though I can't tell whether it was a good cut & whether it was cooked to perfection, it was pretty darn good. I ordered Japanese Wagyu Filet Mignon with an Argentinian chimichurri sauce, which came in an unpretentious portion & with 4 kinds of mustard dips. Satisfaction followed! :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

BBC's Sherlock

We've been following 'Sherlock' these days & at the end of Season 2, here's what I'm convinced of: Sherlock knew all along what Moriarty's plan was - hence the mannequin hanging from the ceiling in the first (or was it second?) episode; and Sherlock suggesting the high-rise as the place for their final meeting. I'm also convinced that the twist has something to do with the (garbage?) truck parked below the building when Sherlock jumped & Molly's job in the morgue (or is she in forensics? - either way, she has access to corpses).

Just an instinct.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"The Explosion of the Radiator Hose" by Jean Rolin

I thought this was an interesting part-fiction/ part-factual English translation of a French book written by journalist Jean Rolin. Its a travelogue by Rolin about transporting a used Audi car from Paris to Kinshasa (Congo) for use as a taxi and everything he sees, experiences & hears on the way.

I knew very little about the Republic of Congo (hell, I didn't even know that Zaire has been renamed as Congo!) except that it was a French colony once & has a horrifying political history stained by coups, blood-curdling assasinations & brutal rebels. This is your typical 'white man in Africa' account - its mainly about the author's unease & sense of danger/ adventure - starting in the immigrant-ghettos of Paris and ending in "the heart of darkness" (a reference to a novel written by Conrad in the previous century).

Perhaps Jean Rolin rambles a bit every now & then but he has a habit of jotting down quirky details of the places & people he sees; and that's what makes this travelogue interesting.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

The Melting Wok Warung, Bali

We were in Bali last weekend & it wasn't a well researched/ planned trip. We skipped the beach this time & decided to explore Ubud. We made friends with an American family at our resort who raved about this restaurant, and we thought we should try it too. That's how we walked into "The Melting Wok Warung". Without knowing what a delight it is.

The cafe really is a warung (a local term for street-side small-time cafes). It has 6 tables. It also really is a 'Melting Wok' of sorts. The owner is a lovely & warm french lady, Geraldine, who along with her Asian husband decided to experiment with western & Indonesian flavours in one wok. The menu is not extensive at all. There only one curry and you get a choice of meat. Its a festival of flavours in your mouth! And then there are the desserts. Oh, the desserts. They don't sound as great as they really are. A caramel pudding with coconut milk, for example, sounds like an overkill on fusion, doesn't it? I'm so glad we ordered it anyway!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Hell's Kitchen

I've promised myself I will never eat at Gordon Ramsay's restaurant; no matter how delightful the food looks - I'm convinced its poisonous.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Pearls of uncomplicated wisdom

K found a solution to power struggles all over the globe after watching 'The Lion King': "I think lions should just take turns at being's not nice to push a king off a mountain, is it". He thought the movie was pointless.

Friday, June 22, 2012


We watched the movie 'Shanghai' this week & I thought it was a pretty good movie. It started off like a political thriller, but towards the middle, one realises that its not edge of the seat stuff that has you guessing what will happen next. You sort of know, having lived in India, that the decadence of the political system starts & permeates from the highest level of the government. The human stories in the movie are far more interesting.

There's an intelligent IAS-type working inside the government but not part of the political system; there's a young activist working against the system; there's a unsophisticated 'man on the street' who is largely unconcerned with whats happening with the system; there's a political-insider state secretary who is very much embedded in the system. This is a story of all these characters coping with this political system; in its brutal corrupt form that India has learnt to accept. The pessimism with which the movie ends is disheartening, but very well put.

I never thought I would say this, but how great an actor is Imran Hashmi!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Yes, real mature!

I am excited that boy bands are making a comeback! There's this wholesome fun in watching boys in coloured denims & gelled hair dancing in synchronised moves. There are many edgy rockstars with dark eye make-up & intense songs....I love many of them; but what's wrong with a little bit of fluff, I say!

Confession: I'm also a Glee fan **cringing**

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Sunday afternoons

I love watching K jump on the bed as if it were a trampoline. The recklessness & unhindered abandon of the jump; the 'thud' of the landing; and the spontaneous giggle-fest after. Maturity is so over-rated.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Artist

So we finally watched "The Artist". H was never keen on watching it. Its silent, its black & white, and its French; he argued. But thanks to his persistent wife, we finally watched the movie & loved it! It wasn't depressing or brooding.

It was all about angst & insecurity that is brilliantly depcited by the protagonist (without ever uttering a word; except at the end to explain the root of his angst); but there were also elements of comedy, drama, charm & romance. Never got boring for even a second.

Absolutely loved the actor - he looked & acted his part like he actually belonged to the era.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Avengers

Its probably me getting older; action movies packed with as much action as The Avengers give me a headache. Thank God, I didn't watch it in 3-D.

Not a fan; but if they release a sequel, I'd probably still watch it.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Russell Peters in Singapore

I had no idea the guy was so huge in Singapore. The Singapore Indoor Stadium was packed to its capacity of 10,000 & he did two of these shows in Singapore; both completely sold out! What was even more surprising was how many of the audience were Singaporeans & other non-South-Asians. Maybe there is a mass appeal to being politically incorrect :)

What a laugh riot it was though....our jaws are still hurting from having laughed non-stop for an hour!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

A Sabyasachi someday...

I don't own a lot of designer labels, especially when it comes to traditional Indian wear; but if there was no such thing as frugality, I would've loved to own a Sabyasachi saree. To me, his designs define the classical earthy Indian asthetic. I love how the simplicity of the designs complement their elegance; especially in a time & market where its easy to go overboard with embroidery & sequin-work. However, the fact that the Sabyasachi price tags hover in the range of Rs. 12 lacs & thereabouts, make them a no-deal for me!

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Long Distance Mother

Almost all the nannies/ domestic helpers in Singapore are Filipino women; who in most cases have families & little children of their own back home, but live in Singapore staying in strangers' homes taking care of strangers' babies as if they were their own.

Ana moved into our home & family around 4 years ago, when we found out we were expecting K. Her own kids were already grown up by then, but I've often wondered how she saw our lives. Watching a pampered single-child in Singapore with over a 100 toys in his room, must seem so wasteful, excessive & unfair to her. And yet, she seems simple-mindedly happy & content in his company; takes pride in his milestones; fusses over and worries for him when he's sick; and sulks when she drops him off at school. Meanwhile, her own 20-year-old son has come to Singapore this week & is staying with us. She can't get over the fact that her two separate worlds are finally piecing together!

Hush, hush, sweet child,
Here, let me sing you a song,
Let me rock you gently,
And hold your tiny hand.

There once was a little prince,
Who lived in a castle of gold,
He floated on clouds,
Knew no care in the world,

His smile makes a rainbow,
In a sky grey and dark,
His hand reaches hearts,
And unties its knots,

He laughs & gurgles,
Like the gushing Davao River,
Bordered by the coconut trees,
And a tiny brick house,

That land which I left,
You, a prince from another land,
You take me back there,
How do you do that?

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Water Puppet Show in Hanoi

On our way to Halong Bay, we spent a day in Hanoi and found ourselves in the middle of its crazy Old Quarters. Its a city thats thousands of years old, and looks it. If you've been to Pune, its very much like the Laxmi Road/ Peth area, but older. There are no traffic rules, there are no pedestrian footpaths & building maintenance is not a priority for people. There is however always a buzz of activity; you can't ever fault the city for being boring! Saw the Indian-style two-wheeler commute (families of four or five on one scooter) after ages & loved it :)

In the evening, we walked into the Water Puppet Show. Because TripAdvisor recommended us to do so. I thought it would be a tourist-trap, but quite liked it eventually. The themes of the puppetery was Vietnamese folk-lore; the rice harvests, the fishermen, the rural festivals, the red dragons, the children climbing kept us engaged & entertained; even had us laughing aloud on occassions. Well recommended, TripAdvisor.

The Cruise along the beautiful Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay in northern Vietnam is one of its kind. It comprises of almost 2000 little limestone islands emerging out of a green-blue ocean. They say the limestone hills are a result of millions of years of evolution & erosion by the waves & climatic conditions. Its beautiful. We took a short 2-day cruise through the bay & were mesmerised by how gorgeous and spooky an effect the cliff-n-caves landscape can create. I can honestly say, I've never seen anything like it before!

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Khao Yai National Park, Thailand

I had never been on a real safari before. So it was exciting to hop into an open pick-up van driven by a wildlife ranger, equipped with nothing but a 18-year old Thai girl carrying a spotlight, setting out to explore the forests of Khao Yai. The safari started around 6 pm and as it got darker, we started realising that if a herd of wild elephants had to attack us, we could probably do nothing about it. We stuck to our narrow road running through the jungle on either sides; and passed by spooky signs like "Beware! Cobra crossing here"; with the spotlight moving through the trees while pairs of nocturnal animal eyes glittered back at us. We didn't spot any of the carnivorous wild animals though (I would've probably panicked if we did!), but got pretty darn close to some exotic variety of deer & monkeys. Adventurous enough for me :)

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Weekend in Bangkok

So this is how the most bizzare day in K's life so far went:

- He started the day by making a road trip to the Sriracha Tiger Zoo near Bangkok where he held a baby tiger in his lap & bottle-fed him with tiger-mommy-milk. Although he was slightly disappointed that the cub mewed rather than roared, he did eventually say that tigers are his new favourite animals :)

- Next, he held a baby croc & agreed for the first time with his parents (that crocodiles are not cute at all.)

- After the Tiger Zoo, he went for a meal at the Robot Restaurant in Bangkok; where he punched orders into a touch-screen interface at the table and a robot (a real one too!) picked up the right sushi platters from the counter & brought them to our table. How cool was that! :)

It was like a day out of Alice in Wonderland for little K! :):)

The next day we went to Khao Yai National Park outside of Bangkok, will write a longer post about that later!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Baby's World

Kabeer is getting more inquisitive every day. He asks logical questions ("Mama, is pizza a kind of bread?"); he asks illogical questions ("Why can't tomorrow come today?"); and he asks questions for the heck of it ("Why do you say you don't know the answer to that Mama?"). But the questions mostly give us an insight into his mind & it sure is a fascinating place. Of course, its filled with race cars, airplanes & buses for now, but there's so much more in there that I can't begin to describe. Incidentally, I read this beautiful verse by Tagore & it sums up my thoughts on why having a baby is a life-changing experience - its the only way to get a glimpse of this magical world! :)

I wish I could take a quiet corner in the heart of my baby's very own world.
I know it has stars that talk to him, and a sky that stoops down to his face to amuse him with its silly clouds and rainbows.
Those who make believe to be dumb, and look as if they never could move, come creeping to his window with their stories and with trays crowded with bright toys.
I wish I could travel by the road that crosses baby's mind, and out beyond all bounds;
Where messengers run errands for no cause between the kingdoms of kings of no history;
Where Reason makes kites of her laws and flies them, the Truth sets Fact free from its fetters.

- Rabindranath Tagore

Krishnan's Dairy

Jacob Rajan is a Kiwi-Indian actor who does single-performer plays. We had watched 'The Guru of Chai' last year & were blown away by his talent. This year, we went back to watch 'Krishnan's Dairy' and were as impressed. Its far from being a monologue. To single-handedly perform 4 to 5 characters in an hour long play is far from easy; and to do so while maintaining the humour, energy & subtelty of physical traits & body language of each person he portrays; is an incredible talent. I'm a fan.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


We spent the long weekend in Phuket & celebrated H's birthday by the beach this year. Thai food, Thai sand, Thai sun, Thai massage & Thai service; all make for a great holiday.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

De Vrais Mensonges (Beautiful Lies)

We caught this French romantic-comedy at the Alliance Francaise theatre in Singapore, and I'm tempted to make a few broad generalisations: Do all romantic French movies star Audrey Tautou?... and how does any sentence spoken in French or any story set in France become this romantic?

A good fun movie that's gotten me thinking all over again about how great it would be to get Audrey's pixie hair-cut. Or to live in South of France. Or both.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

The Week in Taipei

I spent most of last week in Taipei on a business trip and loved the spring weather there; it was a refreshing change from the always-hot-&-humid Singapore. The people are warm, friendly & easily fascinated by Indians. The language barrier didn't come in the way of making some lovely new friends.

As with Singaporeans, the Taiwanese love bonding over food & conversations about food. So every conversation goes, "Let me take you to my favourite place for traditional dimsums/ traditional tea/ traditional Taiwanese barbeque....". I ate. A lot. And loved most of the food; lived through some of the food; and flatly refused to try some foods (like chicken testicles, duck heads & smelly tofus).

The Taipei 101 is, well, a very tall building. It's in the heart of the swanky new financial district of Taipei; which looks as uninteresting as Singapore's CBD. The old financial district on the other hand, has older office buildings, interspersed with old residences with balconies protected by iron grills; charming cafes; parked scooters; and has a lot more character. There's the odd Starbucks around the corner, but it serves a local menu of fragrant teas along with its regular menu.

The night markets of Taipei are quite fun. They sell absolutely everything under the sun (as long as its inexpensive) and are busy till almost 2 am in the morning. Of course, staying away from the smelly tofu stalls is recommended if you have a sense of smell & aren't chinese.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


I loved watching this movie. I've been in love with cinema as far back as I remember and this tribute to the movies - the art and the science of it - made me remember all over again the sense of wonder and adventure that going to the movies used to be for me growing up. Often we take technology for granted; computer-generated special effects barely impress us anymore; and the art of story-telling especially in its visual format suffers somewhat from our jaded eyes having seen it all. I smiled when I saw the sense of amazement the cinema brought to the early movie goers; it brought back memories of my first 3D experience (an Indian kiddie movie called Chota Chetan). The story of Hugo too is very aptly set in the magical world of a child.

P.S. This movie reminded me a lot of a Marathi movie we had watched a couple of years ago: Harishchandrachi Factory.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tempura Icecream

The 'My FitnessPal' app tells me that this has 520 calories per scoop. But if there's a dessert that's worth adding calories for, then this is it! Drooling & smiling at Ichiban Boshi, Singapore.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

An Equal Music

I picked up Vikram Seth's "An Equal Music" almost a month ago & read through it rather slowly. I know nothing about music & about classical music I know lesser still. So I'm afraid, this book was a little wasted on me. All the references to Schubert, The Trout quintet & fugues had to be googled before I could proceed with the book. I don't think Vikram Seth intended that for his readers. I do wish I knew more about music & I wonder if its too late to start now.

The book is not just about music though. Its about people, personalities, passions. It's written very much like a musical composition; its lyrical, poetic even, full of allegories. The dymanics of a quartet who exist only in unison, their relationship with their instruments, their pursuit of excellence, and a love story of two exquisite musicians who are imperfect people with faults & warts. The book doesn't even attempt to make the protagonist likeable; does make you respect as well as pity him for the music and passion he deeply feels. I have a feeling I would've been very engaged in this book had I known or loved music slightly more than I do.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Singapore Airshow

Thank you Pilot A for introducing us to the world of flying! :)

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Moving Masterpiece

We went to see the exhibit of "A Moving Masterpiece" on the recommendation from a friend & we were glad we did. The exhibit is based on a 1000-year old Chinese scroll painting (a national treasure in China now) painted by the imperial painter of the Song Dynasty to depict life in the then-capital of Bian Jing. It shows life in the peak of a 'golden era' in the Song dynasty's rule. The exhibitors have blown up this painting to 30 times its size & animated the scene; complete with details of wine shops, boat quays, hotels, vendors, city wells, costumes, hairstyles, songs, chatter, and so on. Its accompanied by an audio guide which gives a lot of information on the life & times of the Song Dynasty (how a person's economic status can be told by the mode of transport he is on; impact of the travellers from the spice-growing countries of South East Asia; the status of government officials...)It's an impressive technological feat, an innovative idea, and a great way to learn about the culture and time of a bygone era. Even little K was impressed with the animated city :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Chocolate dreams :)

This was from a charity event at work....The bank had organised an auction for art work created by under-priviliedged kids from all across Asia. I bid for this crayon-work by a 10 year old girl from India who was asked to draw her thoughts on the subject "My Hopes & Dreams". Her hand-written note at the back says that her hope is to be the master of a world made of chocolates where chocolate flows in streams and ice-cream grows on trees; and her dream is to live in a chocolate-house. We made an immediate connection there; I knew this piece of art belongs in my room :)

Friday, January 06, 2012

Another new year resolution

Sometimes we focus too much on what we don't have. Its time to focus on & cherish the wonderful things we do have.