Archive | January, 2012

Clone the Clooney

30 Jan

George Clooney is not hot. To call him hot it to take a certain amount of grace away from him even though grace is something he has in abundance. Enrique Iglesias is hot. Clooney is not. Because he cannot be put in the same category as Iglesias; that would be sacrilege. Clooney is too dignified looking to be merely called hot.

He may be a modern man but he carries on his broad shoulders the classic charm of a Clark Gable or a Sean Connery. Therein lies his appeal. And I am stating the obvious, but it must be said, that George Clooney is getting better with age. In fact he must make men look forward to aging because he makes furrows and creases on the face look like a good thing.

I watched The Descendants last night and came away in awe of Clooney’s acting prowess. It is clear from this movie that this man can display a range of emotions as wide and far apart as the two ends of a rainbow. There are layers and layers of emotions in scene after scene and he displays them all with absolute ease.

I will not give away the whole story and ruin it for you, so fear not. Clooney (Matt King) is an indifferent husband and a disconnected father of two girls. His wife goes into coma after a freak accident in a motor boat off Waikiki and he has to put back the fraying pieces of his life together. The task at hand is to find a way of break the news of his wife’s impending death to his girls while coming to terms with the daunting task of raising two daughters (aged 17 and 10).

Sometimes a man’s good looks can come in his way. Particularly if he is an actor. Imagine trying to pull off a tragic scene where the whole idea is to reduce the audience to tears and instead letting your good looks stand in your way and reduce the knees of the women in your audience to jelly. This is exactly the kind of handicap that Clooney does not suffer from. He has slipped into his role of Matt King and Hawaiian shirts with such breeziness that one has to remind themselves that it is George the Clooney one is watching on screen. Now and then his calves, exposed amply in the film, distract you. Other than that, you forget about his good looks and believe this really is the helpless Matt King for the most part.

There is another wonderful element to Clooney in this film. This role of an everyday bloke facing a major family crisis has rendered him very “attainable” to my mind. I don’t know about you, but I like my man to be attainable. Even if he is George Clooney. He was not attainable in Up in Air nor in Syriana and most definitely not in Ocean’s Eleven. But in The Descendants he gives you hope that you will run into him the next time you go grocery shopping to the supermarket. Or that he will pull a chair and sit next to you and engage in small talk the next time you take your kids for their swimming lessons.

Speaking of lessons, there are many lessons in this movie for married men so Ladies, I urge you to watch this movie with your husbands and please use your elbows to nudge them generously throughout the film. I nudged mine so relentlessly that we almost asked for first aid from the good people at PVR for his arm was looking bruised by the time it was intermission.

So here is this lady lying in coma through most of the film and her husband is now regretting he was not generous with her with regard to time or money while she was around in good form. He wants her to spring back to life so he can make it upto her and treat her right. He feels lost as a father without authority and misses her more. He hopes she can wake up one day soon and they can take a world tour together, just the two of them.

Gentlemen, if any of you are reading this blog, can you please take some nonpartisan advise from me? I implore you to treat your women right while they are alive? I am not asking you all to bow and courtesy to your women as soon as you wake up, though that might not be a bad way to put things right on behalf of your gender, generally speaking. All I am asking you to do is to realize that we too are perishable and living with a wife is easier than living with guilt. So make it count dudes! Call us often, send us flowers, buy us presents, snap at your secretary, be charming with us, praise us, love us, buy us diamonds, tell us we look thin, tell us we haven’t aged a day since you first met us…

If you don’t believe what I am saying, ask George Clooney. I bet he learnt a lot from playing the role of Matt King. Although he does not strike me as someone who would have left room for improvement as a boyfriend but am sure he has picked up a thing or two. Maybe that is why he is dating a WWE wrestler now. Wrestlers are strong and they don’t keel on you or slip into coma overnight do they?

Wait, I do wish to tell you all briefly that the other cast of the film has done an excellent job too. Especially Matt King’s two daughters Alex (Shailene Woodley) and the edible cute Scottie (Amara Miller). Alex’s friend Sid (Nick Krause) deserves a ‘very’ special mention too. The landscapes of Hawaii canvassed liberally by the cinematographer will make you want to call your travel agent midway and book tickets to this paradise archipelago immediately.

The Descendants is packed with the right amount of emotions and wisecracks.The beauty of this film is that it is tender and yet not maudlin. I wept while watching it. Wept many times. But I laughed a lot too. Incidentally I weep even when I watch Popeye so maybe you should not take the weeping angle too seriously! There is also the element of a land transaction in the film, of this vast piece of virgin land that Matt King and his family have inherited from their royal ancestors (thus the title The Descendents). This is the second film by director Alexander Payne that I have enjoyed so much, the first being Sideways, yes the same one about a road trip, two middle aged guys and wine. I laughed my guts out when I watched Sideways as well. I eagerly await Payne’s next film now.

Another thing, before I sign off, if I was running for the President’s office in the United States right now, I would definitely put the possibility (if not the promise) of cloning George Clooney in my manifesto. That is the only way of preserving this man for our future generations. This is the ultimate way of gaining votes of women of voting age between the good and the bad side of the grave.


Eavesdropping and all that jazz

27 Jan

I have mentioned before that I am a curious creation of nature and sometimes I eavesdrop to kill time. Don’t get me wrong, I never eavesdrop on conversations of people I know, I only lend my ear now and then to the table next to mine at restaurants and cafes. You might find this habit (I like to call it a skill) of mine a bit perverse but I tend to look at it differently. Listening to conversations on the table next to you is like reading a page out of a book and since reading books is not considered perversion (unless Hugh Hefner has published it) this should not be either. When you get a glimpse of a strangers life you just get a birds eye view of your own life too, you get perspective in other words .

Recently I was at this restaurant with the husband for dinner and the evening was going to present me with an opportunity to hone this so called skill of mine. We had been stood up at the last minute by friends who could not make it due to some nanny related issue at home. Nanny related issues as every parent will know, are to be taken more seriously than earthquakes and tsunami warnings. So it was, that we found ourselves enjoying a meal alone, just the two of us.

On the table next to ours were an elderly couple: the gentleman had this professor-like respectable air about him and his wife who was in crisp hand woven cottons seemed like an earthy, unassuming kind of lady. Facing them and on the same side as me was was their son-in-law and his awfully quiet wife.

The restaurant was packed that evening and I had to strain my ears to listen to what the husband was saying from the his side of the table. On the other hand I could hear every single word of the conversation on the table next to ours. I found it took far less effort to focus on their conversation rather than on ours. In any case, the husband and I are so bonded we need no words to communicate at times. I just roll my eyes a lot at him and he contorts his face in general disagreement and we can spend an entire evening doing this.  Given the noise factor at the restaurant  I had only one means of communicating with him, through the BBM or email from across the table. Hard to resist as this option was, I decided to let my eavesdropping talent prevail upon the evening and give the husband his much needed peace.

The son-in-law was speaking to his in-laws in a manner that lacked familiarity from their side which made me wonder if they were perhaps newly married in an arranged marriage sort of way. But this boy did not let that lack of familiarity discourage him from taking on the role of the ‘”key note speaker” for the evening.  No sooner had he called for the wine list and ordered a Pinot of his choice that he started to give them an unsolicited crash course in wine appreciation.He spoke about how he had learnt to understand and savour wine, they nodded without smiling. He told them about tannins and skins, they nodded without smiling. As the evening progressed he told them why he preferred wine from the Burgundy region, they nodded, this time more willingly as wine was being consumed wholeheartedly by now.

Encouraged by their now evident willingness to put up with his one sided wine sermon, he decided to tell them what vintages of the region he favoured and how he could not bear to have mediocre wine anymore because his discerning palette had been introduced to much better. I agreed with him on that one and this time it was me sitting there on the table next to him nodding. I was about to add my two bits to this when the husband asked why I was nodding my head while he sat there tucking into his dim sums silently. I just told him the dim sums were rather good and had my nod of approval and that is why I was shaking my head that way. The sea food stew was being served on our table by now and my taste buds got the better of me as I started to dig in. This however, made me miss a crucial part of the conversation next door, the part where he ordered some more wine and gave a brief speech on the particular wine region and ‘terroir’ it came from.

By now his in-laws had reached the crescendo of  that mellow happiness that can only be aided by fine wine. If you could read the expression on their faces, you would agree with my observation that even if they had 3 unwed daughters at home they would have willingly gotten them all betrothed to this man in front of them. Married off to this rather robust looking man who espoused the benefits of embracing wine consumption as a way of life. Not just that, by the look of contentment on their faces, I would not be surprised if they were planning on altering their will in this boys favor as soon as they reached home after dinner.

Did I mention food had been ordered rather liberally, on their table not ours. The husband and I are always watching out weight (sometimes only literally) and we never order too much over dinner because it tends to sit around the body for a lifetime if you pig out at night. Clearly the people on the table next to ours were not aware of this fact. Because from where I could see, their table  was filling up with food to a point that I began to feel almost inadequate on account of our small appetites. The respectable elderly couple were being force-fed now by their overzealous son-in-law. “One last tiger prawn one last, it will go waste, they don’t do doggy packs here. C’mon you can do it…..” and the conversation thereafter petered out as the arduous task of downing the tiger prawns and at least half a dozen other dishes stared the occupants on the table next to me in their face.

I don’t know how the evening finally ended at their end. As we started to get up we heard a holiday was being planned for mummyjee’s birthday by the agreeable son-in-law. He was going to “handle it all” and “mummy all you have to do is to please land up“.

I would have had to settle back into my seat to know what the venue of that holiday was going to be. But by then I was already working on a sermon in my head. The sermon that would be delivered to the husband in the car on our way back home about brushing up his skills as a son-in-law and to make immediate plans to celebrate my fathers’ or mothers’ birthday in Acapulco or another exotic destination in the summer .

Really, one can learn so much in just one evening. It is all about perspective after all.


The Offended Indian

24 Jan

We humans really are creatures of habit. You get into the rhythm of any activity and it becomes an integral part of your life. You give it a break and the pipes of the brain star to clog. The realm of the mind in itself is ‘mind boggling’ actually. If I do not write and update my posts ever so often, I am afraid I will lapse back into my old ways. I have many unpublished blogs incidentally, that will never see light of cyber space. So here goes…my two bits for the day.

Indian communities have started taking offense over a lot of religion related issues lately. There is always one lot of us doing a morcha outside some embassy or government office in reaction to some unintended and at times illogical remark about our holy books or temples or some such. At other times writers are not allowed to set foot in the country for similar reasons. Since we all seem to be living out the real life version of the Jim Carrey starrer The Truman Show, a tiny uncalculated remark can snowball into an outrage within minutes with generous help from the social media and television of course.

I am no one to judge whether these reactions are warranted or not but I do wonder, how us humans, of the civilized world, that is well on its way to putting up hotels on the Moon, let it get to this point? Hinduism was once a tolerant religion and secure as it was in its existence, it stayed unfazed when foreign invaders of different faiths came in galloping. It allowed these faiths to co-exist and even prosper. It also saw the birth of different swamis and gurus, spouting their own take on its religious texts, but as a nation we were okay with that too. But enter RSS, Bajrang Dal and the like and its face began to change.Today, the same Hinduism finds itself manipulated at the hands of political parties who do more disservice to its basic essence than the invaders perhaps. These Rightist parties are only working to further their own political agendas and using violent means as and when opportunity strikes. Which ancient Hindu scripture preaches or encourages the breaking of chairs, burning of buses and other acts of hooliganism? But the right-wing fanatics only know to put the fear of the rod (if not God) and shimmy and shake the very foundation of this nation’s security and its society.

The one ancient faith that stays committed to its fundamentals of peace and tolerance however, is Buddhism – the Hinayana and the Mahayana and all the different sects that belong to these two streams. Buddhists, the world over, are seemingly so involved in their pursuit of their Buddhahood or enlightenment that they do not feel the need to fiercely defend their faith. And yet Buddhism prospers.

One sees large statues of Siddartha Gautam Buddha (Shakyamuni) gracing bars, nightclubs, spas, home stores, massage parlours and no one takes umbrage. The famous Buddha Bar of Paris,New York, Beruit, Dubai…has Buddha’s statues of monumental proportions gracing over the lounge beatifically while food, music and wine flow in HIS enlightened presence. Through the night, the Buddha sits there, unperturbed, unoffended by anything around him, decadent or not. Buddhists don’t care that he is but a prop to add to the exotic charms of the venue. Their idea of a ‘higher self’ may be the exact opposite of the ‘higher self’ one finds themselves reaching once under the spell of the DJs hypnotic beats and alcohol, but it is unlikely that the Buddhists are too bothered about it. If anything they are probably happy that those inside the Buddha Bar are happy. You enter a spa and a pair of artistic hands doing a mudra welcome you to a session of indulgence before the masseuse takes over. Inside you lose yourself to hedonistic pleasures and pampering while the Buddha watches over you from behind the aromatic candles.You step into a Thai restaurant and there HE is sitting meditatively, indifferent to wafting aroma of Thai curry and fish cakes being served right under his elegant nose. Why? Most of us have a Buddha statue, reclining or erect in our living rooms too. One is of course, free to do a hip hop or a cha cha cha or whine  (and wine) or dine in its divine presence, no offense will be taken.

Can we all not learn from the Buddhas followers? Can we just go a bit easy on ‘taking offense’? Isn’t patience, tolerance,forgiveness, peace and compassion really the hallmark of every faith? Those are the foundations the various faiths of the world have been built over.

Next time you have a drink at the Buddha Bar or go to an Asian spa, chew on this.

Eternal Sunshine of the Jobless Mind

21 Jan

The Flying Bus: Sudarshan Shetty and Maker Maxity

I have had very little time since I last blogged two days ago and hence have not been able to write anything since. I am trying to impose the discipline of writing at least once every two days even if it ends up being mentally incoherent. I am also writing because my friend Rosenyn, who in spite of being so busy with work, finds the time to check WordPress to see if I have posted. So Rose, this blog is dedicated to you. My blogging in fact began because my friend Mallika fired me exactly a week ago for being so jobless and doing nothing better with my life. I reminded her that I was spreading love and happiness around like an emissary of the Buddha purely because I was in such a calm and content place in life. She reminded me that those were just excuses and that basically I was a lazy person not putting my mind to good use. I reminded her that I am raising two fantastic kids and that requires good use of the mind in my opinion. She reminded me that my kids will grow to be needy and my obsessing over them would do them no good in the long run. Mallika and Rosenyn are each other’s alter ego and run Kidville, the most amazing child enrichment centre of Mumbai, no India, at Atria Worli. The two of them have 2 kids each and 2 other jobs as well. In spite of me, they are socially popular to add to their demanding lives. I suppose their kids will have to go in for therapy at a later date but for now they seem to be thriving well too.

Anyway, I don’t see why someone reading this blog should be interested in details of my life but for want of anything better to write I shall fill up this space today with some random material.

The husband has just returned from Rangoon and I am most fascinated with what he has to say about Burma. The few days that he spent there, we had to correspond through pigeons and drums by the way as the roaming facility is not extended to visitors on their sim cards in Burma. He bought a local number but international dialing was also an issue. I suspect this is the very reason he decided to visit Burma in the first place, to escape from the harrowing wife and have a perfectly justified answer for not being able to make or receive calls.

My not so much better half  says that Burma is beautiful; the roads there are far better than the roads in Bombay and the people drive courteously and responsibly. There are no traffic jams and two wheelers are not allowed on roads as it leads to congestion. Such information has not impressed me much. For one, it shows a complete lack of character on part of the people of Burma. Real character according to me is when you can get into a one-way lane and throw caution to the traffic laws. Real character is when you can stop in the middle of the road so that the chap driving his car behind you gets all the excitement a roller coaster would provide with its unpredictable twists and turns. Real character is when you honk all the way to work in the morning because you woke up late and  wouldn’t wish the same on those sods sleeping through their morning in their houses along the way to your office. Real character to me is having the courage to cross the road without waiting for the signal for what is life without challenging your limitations. I am a proud Mumbaite and in this regards our cup of character runneth over. Yes sir, we do not drive people to suicide or allow them to commit it either. We just encourage them to take to the roads and cross over to the other side with minimum effort.

Incidentally I had forbidden the husband from buying me souvenirs from Burma unless they are Burmese rubies. He took this diktat quite literally and has returned with some more single malt for himself and nothing for moi.  His bags did not arrive with him as the airline misplaced them. Usually I would be on tenterhooks over lost or delayed baggage, but this time I took this news rather well, primarily because there was nothing in it for me. In fact, when the bags showed up two days later, I was almost disappointed.

The husband has a penchant for visiting shrines and has rung many a bell at churches, temples and pagodas around the world. He is very secular like that. He also feels that by praying to an assortment of Gods, domestic and foreign, he can trade in his karma more effectively. He has visited some stunning temples in this visit to Burma also and I tried my best to look interested when he took me through those photographs. I am not aware of the nation’s GDP but the local deities there are surely well to do going by the generous use of gold leaf inside those temples.

One would think that I have been commissioned by the Burmese government to promote Burma but dear reader if the wind at this fantastic rooftop bar at this hotel at Worli was not so chilly on Friday night, I would not be writing about Burma at all. I dragged the husband as part of repentance collateral (for going away from Mumbai in this romantic weather leaving me under an Aung Sang Su Kyi type house arrest). So there I was shaking and shivering in my light jacket and it felt like a good 14 degree C that night when the husband showed me temperature  of Ulan Bator on his iPhone to make me feel better. It was -37 degree C. I did not know any place in this world could be -37 degrees and still have living things inhabit it. Anyway coming back to the point I was making, the cold wind that night has rendered me sick and drowsy. The people of Bombay are very fragile like that. My friend Simi tells me it is the wind from the sea that makes this wind somewhat dangerous if you have poor constitution and cold and cough is not your thing in life.

I spent last evening at the beautiful premises of Maker Maxity at Bandra Kurla watchig the unveiling of Sudarshan Shetty’s masterpiece called The Flying Bus. The Maker family is passionate about art and this installation that they have collaborated with the artist on, is actually a landmark gift to this city even though it is located within the private premises of their spiffy office complex. Shetty’s Flying Bus is emblematic of the city of Mumbai and its endless cycle of endings and beginnings. These double decker red buses that were once ubiquitous are now approaching extinction. The majestic steel wings of the bus suggest that the bus is in flight or poised to take off. Paradoxically evoking both the sheer weight of stasis and the potential of movement implying the potential of this city to soar matched only by its struggles in doing so.

I found the bus breathtaking. Sudershan Shetty is my friend Shubha Shetty’s (@subhas) brother. You can follow her on Twitter but don’t expect any free installations from him in return.

In other news, I had a foot reflexologist work on my platypus feet for an hour today. He congratulated me on my constitution and general health on my internal organs thus stating “madam, I have worked on the feet of many men and they start to complain of pain as I go at their feet, pressing various pressure points. But you are very strong madam. You went to sleep and did not have any pain. Your internal organs are doing very well.” So dear spleen, liver, stomach and gall bladder, congratulations and celebrations…..And if you want to try this amazing reflexologist, his name is Rupesh and he works at the Quan Spa at the JW Marriott, Juhu.

I am of good Punjabi stock you see and have been raised on a good diet of ghee (clarified butter). I am not about to be mislead by celeb dietitians that fat is bad for my body. Rather consume fat than have it removed from some pig and injected into my face to look wrinkle free. Oh wait there is this fantastic Haemmeroids cream for that. Anyway that is fodder for another post.

Happy Sunday to all.

Rise and whine, Sunshine

18 Jan

My friend Kiran Manral has written a hilarious and rather clever book called ‘The Reluctant Detective‘. The book induces such hysterical bouts of laughter in me that mild tremors are felt in my half-a-century-old family owned building each time I read a chapter from it.

The book revolves around two murders and the protagonist’s “morning constitutional”. Now I am not particularly big on waking up early in the morning. If at all I have witnessed a sunrise anywhere in the world, it is by the sheer might of staying up all night and slipping under the covers just after witnessing the miracle of the sun rising, bleary-eyed (the sun is not bleary eyed, I am).

By the way, I think this whole sunrise business is highly overrated. It is the sun, not the phenomenon of Northern Lights for Chris sake. It happens every day and has been happening since before the dinosaurs walked the earth and will continue to (till at least as long as someone from the Gandhi family runs the nation).

So when people talk about me missing on some grand event of the cosmos just because I don’t see sunrise on routine basis, I just don’t get it.

I am married into a family where waking up early is hailed as a virtue. You could be plotting murders after you wake up but as long as you are up by 5.30/6 am, all else will be forgiven. I went about trying to make a good impression on my in-laws and their domestics when I lived with them briefly in the early years of our marriage. I would wake up at 7 am and sip my tea with my body in a state of rigor mortis, which by the way is something very hard to accomplish. Other than my dazzling personality, this endeavor on my part to rise early, I think, won me instant approval of my new family.

It did not escape my notice however, that my grand mother-in-law enjoyed watching TV till late into the night and I figured she was not a big fan of waking up early in the morning either. But because saas bhi kabhi bahu thi, she had to live by what was considered ‘respectable’ in the house. So she would wake up early and blast Aastha channel on her TV on full volume so everyone could tell that she was up.

Anyway so coming back to Kiran’s delightful book, there is this lady in the Reluctant Detective who is killed during her morning walk. It is observed by the protagonist that her body is found wearing a man’s running shoes and not her usual pink and white keds. There is a lot of speculation over this “strange” discovery in the neighborhood.

While the macabre nature of her murder was lost on me, what was not lost on me was the discovery of her body in shoes that belonged to a man. It touched a raw nerve. A very raw nerve in fact. Oh no, not because I have been murdered while walking in men’s shoes before but because I wear Reeboks Rezigs of the Mahinder Dhoni fame. The only size that fits me across the shoe stores in India usually belongs to the MEN’S section of the shop. The Rezigs were no different. There were pinks and sunny yellows for women and a flaming orange, taxicab dirty yellow and the predictable blue running shoes for men. I settled for the dirty yellow while the salesmen cracked silent jokes in sign language with each other about my feet.

I have platypus feet. It is best to put it as honestly as possible and get it out of the way. The husband and I share the same shoe size and it has worked to our advantage mostly. Not because I wear his Ferragamos to PTA meetings and lunches, but because at crucial times he has been able to buy shoes for me by trying them on. Yes, he is very sweet like that. I remember this time when we were expecting our first baby, he went shopping for a comfortable pair of mules for me at Lane Crawford, Hong Kong. He got strange looks from other shoppers and some sales staff at the store as he walked about in the pair to see if they were comfortable enough for his newly pregnant wife. He is rather handsome and not effeminate at all and therefore does not come across as the obviously gay or cross dresser type. So I suppose it might have been an odd sight to see him in a pair of obviously girlie mules.

There was this other time when we were vacationing abroad and we both spotted this spectac pair of unisex sneakers at a store. We both wanted it and agreed to buy it in two different colours. Unfortunately for us, there was only one pair available in that size and we had to settle for the one pair to be shared between us. We are not so agreeable usually as a couple but you know what a good glass or two of the Chianti and authentic pizza can do to a much married couple on a holiday under the Tuscan sun. Well anyway, he never got to wear those shoes as God works in mysterious ways and they rather mysteriously ended up in my shoe closet and stayed there thereafter.

Since Kiran’s protagonist is so committed to her morning walk, I felt inspired last night to rework the order of my day and wake up early myself. I usually wake up early for the kids anyway and sit comatose in front of them, present only in body while my mind goes astral traveling. I fall back dead as soon as I have kissed the kids goodbye and sent them off with some incoherent motherly instructions. But today was different. All thanks to the breeze this fine winter morning in Mumbai and inspired by The Reluctant Detective I decided to hit the road.

I may not be many things, but an optimist I am. I have recently purchased a beauty of a bike to go cycling early morning. I got onto that neglected bike today, Lance Armstrong like, wore my helmet and plunged myself into the world of the morning walkers and cyclists. Mumbai winter is like the English summer, only briefer. I was enjoying the glorious morning and as I hit carter road, I could see the sea waves joyously crashing against the promenade wall. It struck me then, that having spent a near lifetime in this city, I had not known until this morning, that the sea could touch the promenade wall except during a Tsunami God forbid. All because I had never witnessed the sea in its high tide splendour. I have only been to the promenade in the evening when the sea lies receded, exposing ugly rocks and I have watched lovers perched on them ugly rocks far into the ocean. But this? This was a eureka moment for me.

I have come back home a transformed person today. I have decided that I must do this at least two to three times a year. I have learnt that waking up early really does enrich the mind. I have also learnt that the day you wake up earlier you tend to eat more (okay that is not such a good thing).

Over breakfast today, after my morning cycling expedition, I read in the papers about cops from the special crime branch cell of Delhi, who spent the last week of December 2011 in Mumbai to nab two terror suspects from the recent Mumbai blast. They spent a week watching over the building in Byculla where the terror suspects were expected to show up. The mid-night revelry of the 31st December night however got the better of the cops and the whole bunch of them sat snoring outside the building while the terror suspects waltzed in and out of the building in the morning. By the time they woke up, the terrorists, like Elvis, had left the building.

I suspect there is a message in this story for me somewhere, but I am too tired from waking up early to find it.

Eat. Stray. Love. – by Shunali Shroff

16 Jan

Marketing and exaggeration are everything in this age and magazines have to grab eyeballs of potential readers no doubt. But the two big fat lies that some magazines resort to to sell copies that really get my bile going are:

Eat to lose weight: Eat your way to weight loss, “I lost 25 lbs in 2 weeks!”

10 new ways to keep your man excited and craving for more.

Watching your weight, wait!

Now, we do know that women will do anything to lose weight. An entire industry has been built around this promise of ‘weight loss’. We buy low fat (albeit high sugar) foods at supermarkets, resort to hunger suppressants, get ourselves massaged or liposucked (depending on what our respective philosophies on meddling with nature are), use cellulite reducing body lotions (another lie) and visit whichever dietician Kareena Kapoor is currently attributing her weight loss to.

I myself have done the rounds of every dietician who ever got written or spoken about in my circle in Mumbai over the years. I have done the high protein low carb number, the portion control number, the starve and drink nimbupani number, the eat-my-snacks-made-of-animal-fodder-and-little-else number and finally the blood group diet number.

Being a vagrant dieter, the most I have tried any of these diets is about a week or so.I find straying away from a diet easier than sticking to it. According to me weight loss should begin from the minute they swipe my card or encash my check and it is unfair to expect me to contribute to the process of depleting my fat cells when I am paying the dietician for it. However going to so many dietitians has ensured that I never run out of conversations at ladies lunches and soirees.

There is always a gaggle of us who when visiting the same dietician share an unspoken sisterhood. It helps us say no to fine wine and choose vodka soda over it. It gives us the moral courage to say no to red meat and deep friend starters and the Godawful carbs. It gives us courage to go back after a night out and share the guilt if we all cheated or feel proud we survived another evening of not having fun since we were “so busy obsessing over our weight”.

Through all my rounds to various promise bearers of weight -loss never have I encountered someone who encouraged me to eat all day to lose weight. P.s I do not call eating celery or apples every 2 hours ‘eating all day’.

So when I see these magazines promising weight loss by eating all you want, it gets me all enraged. Because I have been duped by that BS headline ever so often. It is the same old diets inside, with nothing new to offer  except perhaps coriander leaves as an added option to celery or carrot sticks.

Anyway I am a foodie and I learnt a very beautiful lesson from Eat, Pray, Love which I managed to watch only recently. It speaks about enjoying life and guilt free eating (at least when the occasion calls for it )because that is what living life is all about.

I read this other quote somewhere that spoke about the fact that 20/30 years from now, when we look back at our pictures we will realize that there was nothing lacking in our lives back then. That we were so much healthier and slimmer (than our geriatric avatars in the future) and yet we spent our youth lamenting over gaining a few pounds.

Turn him on Moron

About the other headline: 10 new ways to turn your man on and keep him wanting …or 10 more new tricks to try on him this Christmas and drive him crazy. Just how much have such magazines underestimated the intelligence of women making a foray into the world of love,sex or/and marriage to believe that month after month they can follow the advise of the able editors of such magazines and ‘get action’ that Sunny Leone can only dream of?!

 Mumbai Cravings
So my foodie recommendation of a restaurant that I have found consistently living up to expectations food-wise is Yauatcha, Mumbai.

Since it opened in Mumbai a month or two ago, it has given this city so starved of good food, a fantastic dining out option. I ate there again yesterday and in fact prefer it to Yauatcha, London in many ways. It is less cramped than its London branch for one (though sadly  I am denied an opportunity to eavesdrop on conversations on the table next to me due to this). The husband is quite pleased about this aspect however because  he gets annoyed if I look distracted only coz I am more involved in the conversation on the table next to me. I  enjoy eavesdropping on people I do not know because it feels like reading a chapter from a book picked up randomly in a bookstore. So don’t roll your eyeballs while reading this puhleeze!

Anyway coming back to the food, the Schezwan sea food and tofu clay pot, the prawn and chive dim sums, the cress salad and the Dark Chocolate with Coffee Anise ice cream at Yauatcha are stuff foodie dreams are made of. The food is served pretty quickly too by the super efficient staff. Just don’t ask for wine by the glass. The glasses being used to serve the vino (by the glass) may induce sudden flashbacks of coca cola and punch glasses you sheepishly sipped from at your college socials. Riedel or Rosenthal may not match Yauatcha’s all day dining profile but Indians are used to finer things now ! Stick to wine by the bottle or try the large variety of tea they have to offer instead.

Sense and Sensibility : by Shunali Shroff

14 Jan

Ok so I am writing a blog because I am tired of being nagged for just Tweeting all the time or writing updates on Facebook and at least two friends have promised to subscribe to my blog if it makes even a little sense.

Given that I have attended two highly sensible talks this weekend, one by an Ivy league professor and another by a corporate big wig of Mumbai, I feel I am brimming with good sense right now. The former spoke about how high-need-to-achieve professionals could better their personal and professional lives while the latter spoke about choosing intuition over rationalization. It is probably true, we do rationalize things and go against our intuition so often in life. The speaker said that the way to tune into your intuition was to be open about your emotions. This leads to the conclusion that women are more intuitive than men. I feel vindicated on behalf of my species after this talk. Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink talks about the same thing.

So clearly I am overflowing with ‘good sense’ right now and my 2 readers should be happy.

It has been a remarkable day. I received 3 personally signed books by their respective authors. The first one was from Swapan Seth, This is all I have to Say, the second from Kiran Manral, The Reluctant Detective and the third by Thomas J. Delong, Flying without a Net. Is it not extraordinary that this hat rick of a kind has happened to me within a period of 12 hours today?

Kiran gave me her book at a fun Tweet-up kinda lunch at Bungalow 9, Bandra. Though I have not started reading her book yet, I find the cover most arresting. Shall attach a visual of it and post the conversations that visual lead to tomorrow.

I have read a few pages of Swapan’s book already and then re-read them because they are overflowing with good advise and wisdom that belongs to a man much older than him. But then, some of us are wise beyond our years. He has dedicated the book to his two sons. I am going to lean on his wisdom and spout it now and then to my children in the coming years. I was planning on reciting The Prophet to them and passing it off as my wisdom before this book came along. But this is clearly a better option as I doubt my kids will appreciate or follow excessively philosophical advise.

Since we are on the topic of books, I must share my painful story here with you. Khalil Gibran was inflicted upon me when I was 15. I was all set to read about love and stuff, but my mother donated a box full of books to random libraries visited by children who definitely have a better view of life and love than I do today. These books were largely Barbara Cartlands, Harold Robbins, Sydney Sheldons and Danielle Steels. What she chose to retain for me in our library has left me scarred for life. There was Pearl S Buck’s The Good Earth, Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet, Nayantara Sahgal’s  The Day in Shadow, Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Aurobindo Ghosh’s Savitri, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, Autobiography of a Yogi, Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s poetry and several other books of similar nature.

I am learning to forgive my mother for depriving me of the joys of my early teenage years.

In the meanwhile I am most bothered about what kids today are reading. Horrid Henry’s Underpants is a rage with 7-8 year olds as is Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I have systematically purchased books like Great Expectations, Letters from Father to Daughter and  Little Women and shoved them in my 8 year olds bookshelf but to no avail. Kids in this generation will not even consider Enid Blytons. What is this world coming to?

Whatever happened to sense and sensibility?

p.s: there is nothing Mumbai Buzz about this post. I will get there. Soon.

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