Wednesday, December 22, 2010

...but what about the baby?

Say what? The baby??

My 3-yr old nephew A calls me often. The past few weeks, he seems to have found a new love for this Aunty, and asks for my sis to dial my number. I believe it may have to do with the fact that I'm often associated with choco, and the one who brings him those Sour Patch jelly beans, which in one mouthful make him squint, smile, make funny face and move shoulders weirdly - all worth it for the end result, a thrill and a task of getting the chewy thing off his teeth.

Today, A tells me he is making a birthday card. I'm confused. Then, Panic. Did I miss a family birthday? Nope. We have no birthday's until February.

Perhaps he's making a card for a friend at school. Nope.

Well, five minutes through the conversation, I hear A say, "Mama, A wants to buy Baby Jesus a present!". Ah, Baby Jesus! Now, it makes sense. Christmas approaching, birthday, baby, gifts etc.

(And yes, sometimes he talks of himself in third person, quite funny.)

It struck me coz I think Christmas is no longer mainly celebrated because it is Baby Jesus' birthday. It exists in the peripheral subconcious, well-covered with more symbolic gestures such as exchanging gifts, eating lots of food, wearing nice clothes, and basically doing a lot of traditional things without an inkling of the true purpose of Christmas.

On the one hand I'm thrilled. A Catholic celebrates Christmas, Diwali, Hanukkah, Eid, etc. and a Muslim celebrates Thanksgiving, Holi, Easter and many others. We are coming closer together, like one big family.

In the midst of all of this, I think it is important to remember the true meaning of a festival, if only for a few minutes coz let's face it, where's the time to sing eighteen carols around the fireplace? (Note. this will happen if I'm home, at least for a little bit. It probably won't be more than a few carols, and then random songs with me sometimes acting like a Zubin on the piano, but honestly just dishing out beats for communal merriment. )

I would want my child to know and understand that Baby Jesus is a very integral, or rather the sole purpose we celebrate Christmas, followed by all the activity of stuffed stockings, delicious food, wine, Perry Como singing 'The First Noel', grandma, grandpa showering gifts and Christmas pudding. It is part of what has become a Christmas get together, with family and loved ones. And it is truly valued.

I'd also be completely warm and fuzzy if my child wanted to buy Baby Jesus a gift. How precious and thoughtful. I just hope he isn't thinking iPad or something like that.

Wish you all a warm, wonderful and Merry Christmas, filled with laughter and opportuntity to make some fabulous memories for the future. Eat lots of whatever is on that table coz it is special, and made just for you!

Today I'm humming my hottie Dean-O's song: Memories are made of these.

Where's his signature cigarette??

Tuesday, December 21, 2010



Snow ceases to fall...or at least until we make it to the airport, and land in Switzerland in record time for Christmas. And no falls for me - Thud! Hard Ice. Butt. Thigh. Ankle. Force. The result is not pleasant, albeit funny, just a tad bit.

Every child has at least one reason to smile, giggle or show off the twinkle in his eye this time of year.

ictoria Secret opens its store in London soon (2012 apparently). No VS store in London, seriously? Note to self: Need to share thoughts about the 'Love your body' campaign too.

Enticing offers to fame and glory are ignored by people who believe in *muti murders. Chopping your children into pieces will not bring you success. It makes you a murderer. Period. You can watch the documentary and learn more here.

Nine of Santa's little elves, sneak out and drop a load full of presents, accidentally, of course, into one house. Mine.

And two more makes it Seven

You experience the wonderful taste of Rubicon's Guava juice too. It's delish and so refreshing.

oom-de-ah-da, boom-de-ah-da - I wish everyone feels this way about their world. Go on, right click here and sing along. It never ceases to make me smile.

I love the mountains
I love the clear blue skies
I love big bridges
I love when great whites fly
I love the whole world
And all its sights and sounds
Boom de yada, boom de yada
Boom de yada, boom de yada

I love the oceans
I love real dirty things
I love to go fast
I love Egyptian kings
I love the whole world
And all its craziness
Boom de yada, boom de yada
Boom de yada, boom de yada

I love tornadoes
I love arachnids
I love hot magma
I love the giant squids
I love the whole world
It’s such a brilliant place…
Boom de yada, boom de yada
Boom de yada, boom de yada

*a more detailed post will follow in time. Actual pictures are too gory to post.

Today I'm also humming: La camisa negra by Juanes

Pic Source:
flickr. Goldt3

Monday, December 13, 2010

More air kissing

Yesterday was the Christmas lunch organized by one of our classmates, and we ended up being about 40-50 classmates gathered together to eat, drink, chat and air kiss!

I hadn't seen many of the classmates in months, even though we are all in London. So air kiss we must. With some greets, the mwah sound may also be heard...just with some.

When you go back to school, you realize how normal it is to be unstable (more of a perspective type thing), and I personally think its just freaking awesome when you ask someone where they are gonna be, or what they are gonna do and you may still get an answer like, "Anywhere really" including, "London, Uganda, Singapore, Hongkong"

Or then others who don't know yet coz they are considering many things, including the feasibility of launching this dream business.

It's a mix of uncertainty, and instability yes, but it is more importantly a stage of exploration and adventure, meekly complemented by periodic feelings of funkness (probably not a word). And, best of all, most of us don't judge the other. We get it, for the most part.

Whatever it is, I feel I am honored to have been able to experience it as it forces you to think about things you really want to do, rather than continue mundanely with the pre-existing routines of life. Coz I know I don't want to become like Milton from Office Space who spends his whole life in one office without ever considering the world beyond his stapler.

Me too, I mean who knows where I am going to be in a few years, or say a year or two. Maybe back home in India starting my business (yes, a seed in planted in my brain), or then in HongKong or Singapore to be closer to home. Let's see what happens. What choices we make. (Speaking of choices, I avoided any type of cider for years, but I'm starting to like it.)

It was good to see my fellow mates, and many I'll see soon, and some at graduation next year. More memories to recall. More smiles to exchange. More hugs. And definitely more air kisses.

Today I'm humming You got to pick a pocket or two from the movie Oliver Twist

Friday, December 10, 2010

Good logo, Bad logo, who knows? Maybe Gap, Tropicana and comedy Central

Is a makeover always exciting? Hmm..

Granted that this information is a bit dated, but it is important. I couldn't help writing about it, and I think it got triggered by the previous post on Green & Black's, and recent news that Comedy Central is also going the same way.

Every now and then an established brand decides that its time for a makeover. Visually speaking of course. Internal makeovers I cannot attest to, coz I have worked at but a small percentage of existing companies.

I take three logos today that have been through the makeover process and ask you what you think. Tell me which one you prefer, the old or the new, and why. Even if you know the history of what actually happened with the brand, ignore it for now. Speak your mind please, you are one of the consumers.

Gap: Old (Left), New (Right)

Tropicana: Old (left), New (right)

Comedy Central: Old (Left) New (Right)

What's the verdict?

Pic Sources: Websites of each of the brand respectively, Gap, Tropicana and Comedy Central.

Today I'm humming: Blessed by Brett Dennen

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

I wanna work at Green & Black's

They made organic, trendy. Even chic, and at a decent price.

They fill so many of the boxes that I, an outsider looks at from a criteria to work point of view. It is just an initial glance coz I know nothing about the internal runnings of the place, but I can just fantasize, can't I? Besides, people who love working around chocolate can't be all bad!

Product: It's chocolate! But what makes it better than just being chocolate? It is rich, dark and so a bit bitter, flavorful, organic chocolate.

Price: Easily affordable while still offering you the feeling of 'chic'.

Packaging: A lot of their success is in their packaging, I think. That shows that the way you present things which some may consider fluff can make or break a brand. Personally, the aesthetic sensibilities of the packaging is very appealing, and I believe to many others who now view a G&B's chocolate as something more than just a green product. G&B's recognized that they had a great product and made the necessary changes to transform it and position the very same product in a different way. Terribly simple, yet genius.

Green is growing:
In more ways than one. Firstly, the concept of green is definitely on the rise. And two, Green & Black's has a way to go, with tremendous potential. I'm already thinking other areas, and other products! They do a Green & Black's baking chocolate, and a spread but I see a host of products that can be very successful. A line of G&B's baking products? G&B's healthshakes? G&B's range of chocolate-flavored teas, G&B's association with Bailey's? G&B's campaign-based organic clothes even, a bit of a stretch but with the right tag line or association it can work. Perhaps I'm getting excited, but I can't help it. I know if I'm working on products I like, I'll love what I'm doing and waking up to go to work on a gloomy winter morning won't be as difficult.

It's decided. I may have many other applications going through, and I'm also terribly keen on working with children-related companies, but Green & Black's, you are also high up on the list.

Besides, I'll be like Santa all through the year with friends and family sending me requests and their chocolate lists. I'll have all the power.

Today I'm humming: Because I got high by Afroman

Monday, December 06, 2010

Drnk Dat, odawise dey wnt b hpy

A conversation online with my cousin who is in his teens is sumtin like dis. It's a bit of time before I can fully gather what he is saying. Clearly, it's me that is passe.

Initially, I found it funny - when it was more like short conversations coz sure I use loads of abbreviations too as they can be very useful. The extent of my usage however is presumably much lesser than that of kids today!

When my cousin types up in three long sentence what has been going on at school, I just wish he'd use 'otherwise' or 'something' or 'that'. I feel like I'm grandma and I'm asking my grand daughter to read slowly to me so that I understand.

It seems to be the language of the generation, each one developing their own slang in a quest to be cool, in, exclusive, or doing it coz it's just plain fun! And I get it.

When we were younger (primary school level I'd say), apart from all the other efforts to be exclusive, one very simple way one was talking in 'p' language. It was our way of simple fun, perhaps some kind of exclusivity (but just for a short while, coz it is really quite an easy language to pick up). An example below:

The History of Cadavers


Hi-pis, ter-per, ry-pee


Ca-pa, da-pa, ver-pers

My version of the p language may differ from yours, depending on where you place the 'p'. I'm not sure I know the intricacies of it, even though according to what you may read online it is often placed before a vowel. Mine, is just well, what I picked up from my sisters and friends around me, and this is how we use it till today.

Back to SMS english, I think its totally fine for kids to communicate as they please in social settings and even among themselves, but am not entirely convinced that dis talkin shld b used n replaced by trad englsh in prof settngs 2.

God forbid there will come a time when I'd open a beautifully crafted wedding invitation with a beige and yellow finish, and three pretty ribbons spilling over from the top left corner of the card. I open it up, and there:

"U r invitd 2 join us at der celebrtn of our wdng @ Royston Twrs, 8pm. V wld lv 2 hve u b a prt of sch an imp day n our lves - XX"

V will b der.

Ugh. Imagine that.

Today I'm humming: Nobody by the Wondergirls

This is a song I heard performed by a group of thai girls at the end of a play during a event at Cambridge. It is one of those songs that is funny, but extremely catchy and will stay in your head. Go on, play it twice and I guarantee you will be cursing me soon after.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Into the Wild

Last friday, friend and I, let's call friend 'EM, walked over to the Natural History Museum to check out the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition.

Equipped with student cards, we waltzed our way through with a substantial (50%) discount on the ticket which is otherwise 9gbp. Impressive. Student ID's that have an expiry date far far away just rock!

There were about 100+ photos, in various categories. My personal favorites were those with animals in them rather than just the landscape views. I think it is because these pictures capture an action or emotion, and most often a spectrum of them that can be captured only because the animals are oblivious to the cameras, or in time ignore them. Snnneaky, but so cool.

Some interesting things that came up:

To travel or not to travel? Some photographers seemed to have gone out of their cocoon and travelled to places far from home, camped at dangerous spots with potentially achy knees, waiting patiently for the perfect shot. On the other hand, you had a photographer who just took a few steps, looked out his window, made a dash for his camera and lo! he captured a fantastic shot of a bird against a pristine background, but was probably a snow-covered cement road. It could very well look like he was in a land far away.

Patience. A description on one of the photographs explains that the photographer was waiting for about 2 weeks for a particular type of bird to do something, when it finally happened! The important words being - 'two weeks'! I would love to be a wild life photographer, but two weeks? 'EM says I'd not have the patience. If it is two weeks of sitting calmly, staring at green grass, waiting for a movement, I'd have to agree. But, I am open to hoisting up on a machan with lots of books, and possibly my laptop, and music and waiting for the King of the Jungle to stroll by. That I can do. Multi-tasking to an extent is an asset I believe.

A thousand words. A 1000 words may be a bit much, but even tho' some photos are visually stunning, there are some that transform from 'nice' to 'exceptional', all with the inclusion of a mere 20 or 30 words.

Three collages were placed in the exhibition as part of the 'Photojournalist of the year award', and while you can get a pretty good sense of what the overall idea is, it is worthwhile reading the accompanying words. Once you've read those words, it's almost like the picture comes alive in many more ways than when you saw it in isolation. If you click here to see 'The House In the Woods', you'll see what I mean

I think we all create our own interpretation of a collage, which depending on how creative you are, 'it is intriguing', or it is kinda 'blah'. And then sometimes, words provided to you force you to explore new possibilities with that same photograph, and then again, sometimes you fall in love with it completely, or then just consider the vision the photographer had for the photo silly, and the photographer officially, cuckoo.

The wonderful thing about us humans is this opinion thing. You are always entitled to it, so you can always be right in your opinion.

When I grow up. Kids younger than 10 were featured in this exhibition. How cool! Most of their photographs had captions that started something like, "When my father and I...." Sweet and very commendable too. I have a Nikon D90, now, quite late in life. These guys are lucky. So young, and already featuring photographs in exhibitions. Kudos kiddos!

And now I've picked just two of the photographs, coz if I went for more, I'd be in a fix. I liked too many.

Endangered Wildlife
Andy Rouse - Tiger Stalking

Nature in Black and White
Ken Dyball - Lookout

Pic Source: Natural History Museum website

Today I'm humming: Soobax by K'naan

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sticky Stickers Suck

Ever bought a piece of ceramic, glass or whatever else you've bought only to come home and then carefully try to peel the price tag or other info. sticker they chose to put on it? You do it ever so cautiously as you work through the edge of the sticker so that you can peel the entire thing off in one go, and then - it snaps (!) right there, in between, and leaves you with one piece in your hand, most likely the colorful and attractive blue part, while you stare (exasperated!) at a disfigured whitish pattern on the item? I have. And Ugh.

Sure it comes off, or will come off at some point or with all other remedies, including possibly heating it with a lighter, but it robs you of the joy of just getting it off in one simple swoosh. C'mon, tell me you agree.

I wish some retailers (M&S), or manufacturers or whoever, come up with a slightly better solution. Or then place it at a spot which doesn't mar the look. I'm thinking maybe there should be a benchmark for stickers that are used, and companies should consider it their competitive advantage. You know something like - 'No Sticky Stickers. No residue - For that perfectly smooth feel, in just one swoosh!'

They'd have one confirmed patron for sure.

One more thing, I also wish ordering and delivery of furniture were made a bit easier, or quicker and had slightly less shipping costs.

That's all the complaining for one day.

On the positive side, the house is coming together, kinda. The glass coffee nesting tables have arrived! I like. Very heavy, like very heavy. The package weighed 46 kgs. Three little tables. Well worth it tho.

And so has the little Creepie bench which I adore.

And the rest will come shortly too. I'm hopeful.

Today I'm humming Oh Boy by Ms. Li

Friday, November 12, 2010

Oh Javier!

It's Charisma, yup, that's what he's got.

He's not a pretty man per say, and I'm not attracted to him in a lusty way, but there's something about him. He slowly but surely buys you in. He's got the charm factor and lot's of it. I think it works more coz it seems like he isn't faking it, or is really good at faking it. I prefer to consider the former to be true. I've picked four of his movies that show how this one-sided relationship blossomed.

No Country for Old Men: I like your stoic, cold-hearted, maniacal character Javier. I am beginning to like you as an actor. Strictly just that. I mean, it's not like your haircut encourages swoons or warm tumble twists in the tummy. It's not me being rude. In your own words apparently when you saw your potential haircut for the movie, "I'm not going to be laid for three months."

Vicki, Cristina, Barccelona: Now, now. It's changing. Firstly, it's a Woody Allen movie. Second, you have a new hairdo! It makes you look quite nice - inviting, charming, warm, self-assured, confident, open, quite the free spirit. Loyalty issues persist most likely, but in these one-sided, not-wanting-to-pursue-type hypothetical relationships, we can ignore that bit. Oh, and there's stubble too, which I think should just stay on you, period.

Before Night Falls: And, now even more respect. You seem all of the above mentioned, and because of your character, Reinaldo, more intelligent, philosophical, determined, vulnerable, and fearless, all at the same time. I'm not into gay men, so we'll leave this one for just tremendous respect.

Eat. Pray. Love: Didnt expect to see you (didnt read the cast of actors prior), so was pleasantly surprised coz until you arrived, Liz (seemed a bit...boring), and this coming from someone who likes Julia Roberts. Agree, she is probably one of the few actresses that can carry a movie on her shoulders and one that will make people go to watch the movie, but she fell short. At times I felt she overdid it. Javier, you again, I liked. The warm, dedicated, hurt man who lives in a very cool house btw in Bali, and who seems to value marriage.

So there we are. Javier, you make movie watching easier and complex. You are calming and intense. You are balanced, with a fantastic presence. Your accent is cool too. You and Penelope make a good couple....I think so anyway. Stay together, please. Don't let us find you naked in a hotel room with a needle in your arm, and a strange woman by your side. It won't be pretty, even with that stubble.

Today I'm humming: Something Stupid by Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Selfish Pigs

I want the larger share of the cake, well, I just want it! Even if it means taking it from 2 yr old birthday girl, Tululu.

Ouch! Imagine if I did do that. I'd be one unwelcome guest foreva at Tululu's mom's house.

When you want to do more than normal social etiquette allows, but don't do it. Or choose not to coz who knows what that entire situation would turn into (like losing friends forever).

It's the act of being selfish. And we humans generally prefer not to be termed selfish because the meaning by the Oxford dictionary goes something like this: lacking consideration for other people; concerned chiefly with one's own personal profit or pleasure.

Nope. We prefer to be nice. But that doesn't stop us from employing the Selfish Pigs. They'll do it quite happily. It's in their nature.

Andy Riley's little cartoons are his way of dealing with a situation in real life, and cleverly directing the Pigs to all his dirty work.

I found them quite cute, so had to share! I am keen on checking out the book titled quite subtly - Selfish Pigs. Not like 'em dirty buggers care anyways.

Plain sadistic

Move it

Catch me if you can

Source: Huffington Post

Today I'm humming: The little shoemaker by The Gaylords

Monday, November 08, 2010

Radiate confidence...

..but, only after you get under the knife.

The words on the title of the post are on an ad that has been catching my eye a few times now. I see it when I stand still on the right hand side (left hand side is for me on energetic days) on the Tube escalators going up . The ad is a decent visual, colorful, much like many of the ads you see as you glide upward into the real world. The advertisers have but a few seconds to win you over. This one features an attractive girl, perfect body I'd assume depending on your benchmark of perfection. Well, the usual model types.

I find it quite ridiculous though, because the ad is for cosmetic surgery. So what is putting off is that 'radiate confidence' is encouraged not by having confidence in what you know, or even who you are, but completely on how you look. It's a trite statement, I know. And over discussed too.
And it is a business for these surgery companies, but still, it's ridiculous.

I'd imagine the ad to be more about a cream that enhances your glowing complexion, or a public speaking course, but no! And yet, there will be tons of people who will head home, go straight to their 'Goals for the Summer notice board' and add one more thing - "Radiate confidence - Contact Dr. Quack."

I understand it is about perspective and is very subjective.

Bad day for one: Not fitting into size 18 jeans
Bad day for Paris Hilton: 3mm of armpit fat sticking out from the Badgely Mischka dress

For this ad, I'm concerned about the one's that don't particularly need the surgery, coz they look lovely just the way they are!

It's also not that I'm completely against plastic surgery, not at all. In fifteen years if something is bothering me, and I want to take care of it, I may do it. I don't know. Maybe I'm a future hypocrite.

I do believe tho that if you do change things about yourself, you do it for the right reason. Not just to radiate confidence this summer! There are some of us who probably really need it to correct a defect, or even if there is something that bothers us far too much.

On the one hand we can learn to live with it, because its ours. Even find it endearing maybe? It becomes part of how another may describe me. Part of my identity, but only if I were made to feel special because of my uniqueness. But when descriptions say turn to poking fun which may cause me to rethink my existence on earth?? Wellll, then maybe its time to just do what makes me happy. The point is - within reason. Reasoning done with a rational mind. Don't just encourage a compulsive need to nip and tuck and cut and flush out and scrape - in the name of self assessed beauty. Coz this summer it is radiate confidence, next summer it will be something else.

Besides, aren't you afraid of all those needle pokes and the mental images of the blood and the sound of the scraping on that nose of yours as they work to beautify it?

Oh wait, I guess that's just my mind.

Today I'm humming: Nah Neh Nah by Vaya Con Dios

Monday, November 01, 2010

Stories: he told me five

Some books you can't put down. Others, I try to get through coz I prefer not to leave a book halfway. Not successful every time (Red Badge of Courage, I give up....for now). Since there is no TV yet at home, and I haven't even been connected to the Internet until very recently, I have been honing my unpacking skills and then, reading.

Love and Longing in Bombay by Vikram Chandra is a lovely read. Perhaps more so since I hail from Bombay. Each individual story is well-rounded, holistic and forms the perfect story circle; no loose ends, but some ironic conclusions. I love how well he develops his characters. They stay etched in your mind well after you have put the book down. e.g. Kshitij, Sartaj, Dolly, Shaila, and Shanti.

Vikram tells us five stories. Each story is a one word title, e.g. Shanti (peace), Shakti (strength) etc. and is a story being told by one man on five different evenings.

All the stories are a very easy read, not filled with fancy words that for some prove that a writer is really good. The words are simple but carefully chosen, the stories, very well thought-out, and the sprinkling of Hindi really makes me like it much more. "Wah Mr. Chandra, aap kahaniya acche likhthe hain".

One of the criteria of a good book for me is when I get excited as I am walking home, or when I am actually happy about the imminently long tube ride, and I see a vacant blue cushioned seat! I can't wait to tune out, and jump into the world of characters far beyond the chook chook of the train.

Now, I'm onto exploring Miriam, Rasheed, Jalil, Laila and many more in a Thousand Splendid Suns, and the book sits right in front me. Such a tease. But for today, I'll meet you all my Afghani friends in a bit. Restraint is critical when to-do's need to become done's.

What have you been reading lately?

Today I'm humming: Cheek to Cheek - Jane Monheit version

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hello from London!

It's been a while people.

So much to share. So much to catch up on.

First things first, what I've been upto.

Cambridge was fantastic. This one year studying at one of the oldest Universities in the world was a privilege, and I leave with memories and friendships that will last me a lifetime. I know that many of those will fill these (web)pages in the times to come.

Before I finished my program, I did a short stint in South Africa working with a not-for-profit organization that helps kids orphaned by Aids. It was an enlightening experience, in many ways even for someone who comes from India and has seen varying levels of poverty and struggle.

Then, I geared up to say a last G'bye. Three weeks in New York, my old home. I hit a few of my favorite spots, met my favorite people and then packed my boxes and said my official Goodbye's to the land I call one of my few homes. NY, you are special, and will always be home in many ways.

Now, I live in London. I can say so coz as of Friday, I really do have my own spot to live in. The lease, all signed and delivered. I'll be in West London and am quite excited to start a new life on this side of the world.

I'm not thrilled to be dealing with drizzly rain and gloomy skies, a two-floor walk up (not done this before), and multiple tube changes to get to a particular spot.

I am thrilled about doing up my cosy flat, exploring London, trying out new places, meeting new people, and spending time over many glasses of wine as I chatter away with people around me.

It's a new chapter.


Today I'm humming: Unwritten by Natasha Beddingfield