Saturday, December 29, 2012

Craving for Shaving

It's a pain. Worse than waxing for us. Imagine having to take a razor everyday. If there are remnants, looking like Charlie Chaplin. What's the alternative?
Risking no snuggling because she doesn't want beard rash?
That gain's worth the pain :)

So, the usual's good enough- a drink and your lingerie. Maybe a pole dance to spice things up- if you don't die laughing :)

This post is a part of the 'Shave or Crave' movement in association with

Monday, December 24, 2012

Rape them back

This inspiring speech by Kavita Krishnan, Secretary of the All Indian Progressive Women's Association drove me to write on the rape. The anger is something we all feel, which we often need to suppress. Grin and bear it. Do a balancing act, until you don't know whether you are on your head or heels.
Wear certain clothes that don't reflect you, because of society. Keep mum, so as to not rock the boat. Where will all that anger go? Inside, poisoning oneself? I was avoiding reading about the rape case because it just plain scared me.
But we need to face our fears. It just can't be ignored. I'm happy that we are all channeling our anger in protest. I hope things change. I guess this is the first step. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Magnifique: Play- Celimene and the Cardinal

Stumbled upon a light, souffle like play. In French and very French. Luckily, with English subtitles :) Remembered a bit from the days I learnt French. Only the French can do a play on subjects as seemingly disparate as religion and love.

It's a sequel to Moliere's The Misanthrope, but the director Jacques Rampal has written it. Very witty with lines like- so now that your servant has quit, who's the replacement? asks the Cardinal.
Celimene replies, wiggling her fingers- I have ten!

Celimene is a feisty character, rarely getting cowed down by the Cardinal. An ex lover, he tries to browbeat her bees saal baad. He stumbles on a book of paintings of her done by her husband. He denounces them while looking through them :) Tauba Tauba types.

Celimene invents a confession to keep her husband from jail. The Cardinal is conscience stricken, realising that he is the greater sinner. He returns the book of her paintings to her and vows to go away to a desert island.

Realising that he still carries a torch for her, Celimene gives him the book of paintings. A wonderfully nuanced note. I want to read The Misanthrope now, or better still watch it. I coveted Celimene's outfit the moment I saw it. A bottle green with layers, flounces and ruffles enough to gladden Anne of Green Gables's heart. Gowns aren't that useful here, but a kurta...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tiger Triumph

Tiger Tiger, burning bright- finally Blake's lines made sense. The danger was palpable. I thought the tiger's face would not have so much white. I decided to enjoy the sight rather than focus on clicking. T-24 then moved his jaw and spat some meat out. He then got up and sauntered off in the bush.

Third time lucky- I had decided I wouldn't go back to Ranthambore if I didn't see a tiger this time. It's too painful. This was the first time I went on two safaris consecutively. We drew a blank in the afternoon safari. We saw pugmarks, but the tiger remained elusive. Dancing peacocks and abby crocodiles were some consolation.

Zone 4 was the rockiest, so we held on for dear life while the driver hurtled through the jungle to get us back in time. I then understood why my veteran friend (she has been on 50 safaris and seen tigers on most of them) had insisted we eat early.

A campfire dinner, much laughter had us agreeing that the trip had been worthwhile even if we didn't spot the big cat. The morning safari saw us in our jeep, contemplating eating amrood while our guide did the formalities.

Suddenly our driver rushed back to the jeep, took it in reverse and we saw- tiger. Finally. Across Zone 1's boundary wall. 100 metres away. The same Zone 1 which I had cursed the previous two times I had been to Ranthambore.

After seeing a tiger, your appetite for nilgai, sambar and what have you just vanishes. You hunger to see more, closer. Zone 5's tigers were missing in action, but I was just happy I finally managed to catch a glimpse of those golden stripes.

T-24's a man eater- I think he has killed three so far. He didn't try to eat the last one. He's marked the road as his territory too. He often takes a walk at night to kill deer near Nahargarh Hotel, so you might bump into him even if you don't manage to book a safari :)

He looks dangerous, unlike the innocent deer we saw. Reminded me of a villain. 

Thursday, November 08, 2012

The Bankster by Ravi Subramanian- A Review

I didn’t like The Bankster by Ravi Subramaniam too much. After a slow start, it picked up though. With three subplots, perhaps it had too much on the table. Although they were related, the bank thread was by far the strongest one, so it overshadowed the other two.

Three different locales, one abroad. Some detailing of local nuances would have made the settings more real. Structurally, if the same space could have been allotted to all three sub plots, the book would not seem so lopsided.

Also, the sub plots don’t come together properly. The joins are forced, so the reader has to mentally shift gears when there is a new locale described.

With a large cast of characters, it was tough to identify with any one among them. The lack of backstories made it difficult to feel for the characters. The narrator was in complete command.
We were fed information by the narrator. A  device first seen in Enid Blyton- rubbing a paper with a lead pencil to see what was written on the paper beneath was used here as well.
A series of unexplained murders at a bank lead to the discovery of a money laundering operation. Nikhil starts the novel off but then isn’t seen much in the latter part of the novel.
Vikram’s character is well etched. Initially the reader thinks he is a little dodgy, as he makes a buck giving Nikhil a flat at a rental higher than the market price. Later events show that he was being used as a cat’s paw.
What I liked about the book- banking often comes across as dry, but the cloak and dagger aspects of this novel lend this industry a certain romance. In that sense, like Arthur Hailey gives an insight in an industry in a novel, Ravi Subramanian has succeeded to some extent in doing something similar here.
But somehow, the murders don’t seem significant enough. They are incidental to the story. The twist is equally in how the money is being laundered as much as who is doing the laundering.
The how is pretty much in place, but the who is not convincing enough. Also, the title is a play on mobster, but to someone who doesn’t read the blurb, it seems like this is a book about a banker. Not a book about killings in a bank.
I’ve heard Ravi Subramanian’s If God Was a Banker was better. I think this book’s title is better than that J
The author’s knowledge of banking does come through. The end has too many revelations. Letting the reader participate, leaving some clues so that the reader can also have a shot at guessing the culprit would have made this a better book.
It’s not a bad read, so if you want to kill a couple of hours you can go for it. I do think Wall Street Journal’s saying that he is an Indian John Grisham is a bit over the top though. Do comment on how you found the book.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at . Participate now to get free books!

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

31: by Upendra Namburi- Review

31 by Upendra Namburi is a pulsating thriller. It has a new twist on an old formula- here the action is in a business setting- a bank. Political machinations here could give the Congress or Machiavelli a run for their money.

Covering a span of 31 days in March, the hectic financial year end, this novel does not dwell on mundane details. On paper, having 31 days described may seem yawn worthy, but the nail biting action keeps the pace taut till the finish.

Professionals will know and identify with the lives described here, the hectic nature of work, the uncertainty and the toll that it takes on family life. There are hiccups- it seems strange that the top brass of a company would not go after a Twitter bigmouth who keeps taking potshots at the firm.

The overuse of exclamation marks, especially in the beginning, before one gets engrossed in the story, is another sticking point. Sometime the financial jargon can get wearing. There are many characters, so keeping track of them is a challenge as well.

Since so much of the action happens on phone and over email, many times the characters seem disembodied. Still, we live Ravi’s life, holding our breath and exhaling a deep sigh of relief with him.

The constant twists and turns get a little repetitive by the end. His efforts to save his position, learn why he is on the firing line and his attempts to find an alternate job give an insight in corporate culture.

Just as Chetan Bhagat’s provided an insider’s view on IIT, this novel gives the reader the flavour of corporate life. What happens after an MBA is not necessarily the happily ever after parents and students imagine it to be.

Savitha, Ravi’s wife is a strong character in her own right. Maithili, Ravi’s colleague, also comes across as dangerous, although in a slightly stereotypical way. She stands out as the lone female representative, in the male world of banking.

The Blackberry is the unsung hero and sometime villain of modern life. Here, too, it plays a pivotal role. When it is switched off important messages are missed, which sharply steer the plot.

The sometimes witty quotes which begin each chapter or day will resonate with the target audience. “I get email, therefore I am.” Dilbert modifies and makes Voltaire’s words contemporary.

 Sometimes you wish the pace would slacken, so that you can relax. Some descriptions, characters chilling out would have helped. But then, is it possible for a corporate soldier to relax these days?

If one wants to read this to escape from one’s life, it may not be the right one if you are a wage slave. Still, the ambiguous but somewhat happy ending will console professionals that there can be a rosy future at least on paper if not in life.

Ironically, the ones who would most identify with this book may not have the time to read it. Unless it was mailed to them, a page at a time, on their Blackberrys…So that they can read it in meetings?

This review is a part of the" target="_blank">Book Reviews Program
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Monday, October 08, 2012

The Forts

Nahargarh Fort, in yellow, is a cute, compact fort. It was used for the King's army, so the rooms are simple and small.
Jaigarh Fort's main USP is the huge cannon.
It is connected to Amber Fort by tunnel- you can go by golf cart for 100 Rs. per head. Next time.
We went to the tunnel in Amber Fort. We went to the top by jeep. You can also take an elephant. Amber Fort was very crowded but the scale takes your breath away.
Ganesh Pol has exquisite, colorful carvings in the walls and gates. The mirrors in Sheesh Mahal still gleam. The restorers have done a good job. The view of the gardens is enough to take your mind off the heat.
We discovered some snack shops nearby.

College Reunion

A lawn with a pool, dim lights, greenery, aromatic food and drinks, with great company. My first College reunion here was very enjoyable. The icing on the cake was the mince. I saw waiters offering Cafe Mince, vegetarian and non vegetarian. I explained the significance to my husband, thinking that the organizers must have requested Taj to serve mince to revive memories.

Later I discovered that a lady had actually taken the trouble to get mince from College- get it fried in the Taj kitchens. She had frozen the chutney. We all attacked it with relish, savouring that unique taste after so many years.

They say the sense of smell brings back the most intense memories, well I can say that the sense of taste  is not too far behind in this respect.

It was fun meeting an ex senior RAW person, the ex-Ambassador to Brunei, the Chief Warden at Ranthambore among others. Gossiping about teachers with others who had done English took me back a decade. It helped that my batchmate was co-organizing the reunion so I managed to meet many people.

The goody bag- with a Stephanian tie, plate-showpiece, a collection of Kooler Talk and Nostalgia at Stephen's was a surprise.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Marvels of Melbourne

I want to go to the land where people say “Fark!” instead of #@$%, as an Aussie friend of mine told me. The city looks vibrant, with Melbourne City Centre’s twinkling lights, tall buildings and blue, blue water.
I want to go on a walkabout there, in the tiny lanes, where I can stop and stare and not make way for honking cars.
I want to try surfing, see if I can master them waves.
I want to attend the Melbourne Writers’ Festival. And the Moomba festival. Am sure a festival which has a name meaning “Let’s get together and have fun is on the right track.” I’m a culture junkie and I need my fix. The Arts Festival, the Comedy Festival, the Fringe Festival, I want to soak them all.
I want to see the Australian Open here. Hear the balls thwack against rackets, as players battle it out on courts.
Mmm…Melbourne. I want…Now. …it's your time to visit Melbourne NOW! 

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Coffee or Toffee? (a.k.a the Great Love vs. Arranged Marriage Debate)

A love marriage seems romantic while an arranged marriage, as the very name suggests, is deliberate. A love marriage takes some arranging as well and similarly, an arranged marriage also involves love.

How do you select a partner? Do you expect to fall in love at first sight or otherwise someday? Or do you decide the time has come to marry, and start scouting for a suitable boy or girl?

Many friends in love marriages have told me that they think arranged marriages are better- at least they can blame their parents if things go wrong. That’s a strange way of looking at things- wouldn’t you rather want things to go right?

I’ve seen many successful arranged marriages. They key seems to be similarity and difference. Similarity in class, and personalities that complement each other. In a love conquers all scenario, practicality often falls by the wayside. Even if wrinkles crop up, they tend to be ironed out in favour of being in a relationship.

The media hype which being in love gets, the privileged status it has in culture is nothing compared to that which being arranged enjoys- unless we equal it to getting a mate rather than being alone.

Getting companionship is often the driver, whether it is an arranged marriage or a love marriage. “Is your marriage arranged or love?” asked the parlour wali. “Arranged.” I replied. “Have you met?” was the next question. “Of course.” I said indignantly. It often seems that if you were a wallflower, only then would you go for the last ditch option- an arranged marriage.

You could be just picky. Maybe you don’t want to be in love for the sake of being in love. First impressions count- it’s probable a job interviewer thinks yes or no within the first few minutes of meeting you. Going with your gut is a good idea. Trusting your subconscious, which considers factors you may not even be fully aware of, is prudent.

Anyway, a love or arranged marriage only deals with the pre marriage stuff. What about after marriage? The making of the happily ever after? That takes work. It doesn’t matter if you met by chance or through a middleman. Once you’re married, being a duo instead of flying solo takes some getting used to.

It’s fun to be a we and not an I. The relationship is equal whether it’s a love or an arranged marriage. In a love marriage you both know each other equally well and in an arranged marriage you both know nothing much about each other. Living together, managing expectations is more similar to living with a room mate than being a friend. Nothing is hidden anymore- whether it’s an untidy cupboard or a TV addiction!

Monday, July 02, 2012

The Call of the Tiger

Staying in a luxury tent in Ranthambore, trying to spot the elusive tiger, will have us coming back for more. We took the morning safari as we had heard the chances of seeing a tiger are more then. Our guide said that it is easier to spot one in the evening.
We were allotted Zone 1 out of the five, and the others zones had a higher possibility of seeing a tiger. A tigress gave birth in Zone 3, when we had gone. Tough luck. We enjoyed the hilly terrain, tried to spot a leopard with our binoculars.
The many birds, peacocks, different kinds of deer and striking trees made it seem like Jurassic Park. We hurtled through in an open jeep. There were five vehicles at the watering hole, waiting for the tiger. Although we heard the call of potential prey a few times, signalling the tiger was on the move, we were disappointed.
Our zone was just ten kilometres, with two tigers. The park has 40 odd tigers, 10,000 deer, of which 2000 are sambar deer. Only eight vehicles can be in a zone at any time. The safari was two hours long.
It's easier to spot a tiger in summer apparently. Once you're on the chase, you're hooked until you do see one. It's awe inspiring to see animals in their natural habitat, not fenced in or at a Sentosa like place. So definitely seeing a tiger in such a setting will be memorable.
Our guide had the last word- "Tiger dulha ki tarah chalta hai aage aage aur hum sab baaraati uske peeche chalte hain." :)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

How Deep is Your Net on Phone?

I don’t get that many calls. Don’t make too many either. Yet, I have twitchy fingers. I can’t rest until I’m online via my phone. On a laptop screen, I’m chained to my desk, apprehensive that someone will notice I’m on Facebook and smirk.
When I’m on the net through my phone, I don’t have the hassle of powering up a big device like a laptop or lugging it around. I can tweet while the experience is on, so that it’s fresh.
Anytime I’m lonesome on the go, I just check in Facebook or Twitter and read what my friends are doing to feel connected again. If I’m curious about something they’ve posted, I tweet back. Only if I can’t think in 140 characters do I call them.
If I need to know an appliance’s price while I’m at a shop, I google from my phone. One time, I was buying an  oven with my family in the market. The shopkeeper gave his spiel about him offering us the dealer price. I found out online from my phone that the same model was available from many websites for Rs. 1000 less! He quickly backtracked and slashed the price by a thousand rupees. Not bad for a minute’s work, eh?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Albert Hall Museum

Albert Hall caught my eye whenever I passed it. The flurry of pigeons in the front, the delicate architecture, made me want to go in. This museum seemed alive, unlike the usual fossil houses. I was particularly struck by its pottery collection. I never knew that there were so many renowned pottery schools within India. They could give the ones at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London a run for its money.
Sculptures, miniature paintings, tie and dye material, ivory work, wood work, and so on are all there. We drifted from one room to another, taking in the sights. The play of light on the courtyards in the afternoon had us looking at the building as much as we looked at the collection.
Now I know one place where I can take visitors!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Jaipur Notes

Have been staying here for maybe ten days, and a lot of them are centered around the beautiful goldfish bowl of a building complex that I stay in. Since I've stayed in a bungalow, PG, or makeshift flat before, this is a step up.
If I don't amble around the complex in the evening, I miss the greenery and the fountains that come on. The gym is a two minute walk within the complex, as is the grocery shop. Kids have a gala time, with badminton courts, place to play football, cricket, TT.
Mothers gossip while their young see saw, slide, and swing away. Teenagers huddle for heart to hearts, while young boys laze on the lawns. I get an entirely different view from my balcony. Kids roller skating below seem kind of flat.
Orange fish dart about in the pools, fascinating our young visitors. My fish showpiece plate was the object my nephew in law and I bonded around. Children are so imaginative- this three year old made up a story about the fish vomiting and needing to go to the doctor- he was experiencing these symptoms.
I gape at my surroundings whenever I step out. Jaipur is a beautiful, historic city. Am keen to explore Albert Hall, revisit Amber Fort, and eat at Sharma dhaba- at 1000 Rs. a head. It is a clean city, perhaps because immigrants target metros.
i look forward to unraveling this city's layers. Decoding the mainly Hindi signs and shopkeepers' Marwari is keeping me busy right now!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Tripping on The City

Why does a trip appeal to us? A change of locale, a holiday from work, time to spend with family and friends…what’s not to like? A trip is also hard work. You need to get up early to catch that sunrise. Too much eating out can play havoc with your innards. When a trip is an extended one, it is even more fun.

 I was lucky to enough to call London my home for 2 and ½ months. That was enough time for it to grow on me, but not for me to tire of it. Initially, I would step out gingerly, burrowing in my coat for warmth. I kept my eyes open, so that I could soak in the sights. From red buses, telephone boxes, names of pubs, to yellow sunrises…everything fascinated me that first week.

I only dared to walk around near my apartment, taking care to follow the straight and narrow path, lest I get lost. Once I had covered all four directions, marveled at the graffiti in Shoreditch, reached King’s Cross Tube station on foot from the Old Street one, and checked out the Bank of England, I ventured on the Tube. It was surprisingly easy to use, not as crowded as I thought, and smaller than I had imagined. Multiple lines, maps, and signs made it tough for me to lose my way.

Christmas lights winked at us on shopping destinations like Oxford Circus. We bought London Passes, and took a whirlwind tour of the city over the New Year weekend. The first day we went to Westminster, which bowled us over with its intricate carvings. By the end of our trip of course, we had church fatigue, having seen as many there as there are mandirs in any Indian city.

We then took a river cruise to our next stop, the Tower of London. After marveling at the Kohinoor and ruing its absence from India, we dashed to Tower Bridge. We had a breathtaking view of the city from there, with the various bridges- London Bridge, Millennium Bridge, and Waterloo Bridge.

The next day we covered Windsor Castle, which was just like a castle should be, with a moat. A queen’s collection of dollhouses made her seem just like any other commoner.

Hampton Court Palace was nearby, so we walked in the acres of gardens there. A sudden downpour saw us rush back.

On the final day, we paid homage to Wimbledon. I’d like to come back to watch a match here. Even empty it was imposing. I could almost hear a volley or two. Strawberries and cream were out of season.

A chamber of horrors near London Bridge wasn’t very scary. Men popping out of nowhere shouting at you happens on an everyday basis back home. Shakespeare’s Globe theatre was imposing, and I would like to watch a play here, in the open air in summer, like the groundlings would have done in his time.

London’s beautiful buildings, historic shops like Harrod’s, Liberty, Fortnum and Mason’s are unique. I saw a bit of snow too while I stayed there. The tours at the museums and the art galleries gave me a greater understanding of treasures. Phantom of the Opera was a stunning musical. The 4 D film at Madame Tussaud’s was futuristic. We also did day trips to Oxford, Cambridge, and Bath, where this would have helped.

A delight for the senses, London took me to another world. One without dust, a melting pot of nationalities, cuisine, and cultures. A global city, not just a British one. “Are you alright?” was a phrase I often heard there. Before my visit I didn’t understand it fully, when I heard it in the movies. Now I do.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Celebrating Myself as a Woman

When I think of a woman, I think of creation. Whether it is the myth of Mother Nature, the reality of child bearing, or the daily task of cooking, making something from nothing is the common thread running through all her stories. Creation in the form of writing has always been precious to me. Cracking jokes is a close second.

I think a woman’s ability to reinvent herself is also unique. I have valued the way in which I have criss-crossed from studying English to MBA, and then sales to advertising to media.

A woman is also a family maker. After marriage, she serves as the link between two families. My capacity for hard work, and doing things which are new and therefore difficult for me, has gone up after marriage. Love truly is the biggest motivator. Whether being regular with the gym, or trying to learn cooking without burning myself again, love spurs me on.

It is only now that I truly feel the difference gender makes. Would I trade places with a man? No. I enjoy being feminine. It’s like starring in a play. As the audience changes, so do I. I am many women, depending on the time and place. This got me thinking, and I'm glad I came across this contest.


Friday, March 02, 2012


Fell in love with you before I met you
Through writings of authors, your hue
I knew before I traveled your roads
Whether by car, bus, foot, or under your belly
"Are you alright?" seemed familiar not just from the telly.

You blew hot sometimes, at other times cold
I'm glad I saw you in white, truth be told.
Westminster's grandeur has lasted long
Big Ben keeps chiming its tuneful song.

The Thames is your blood blue
Where I walked from Tower Bridge to Waterloo
The Tower of London's glitter and gore
Gave me a glimpse of days yore.

Our whirlwind tour then saw
Rocky Windsor castle. A draw
Of lots was won by Hampton Court Palace
Which had gardens that were full of grace.

Imaginary volleys at Wimbledon
Ghostly figures at Globe's kingdom
Leisurely strolls through Trafalgar Square
Led to Buckingham Palace, the Queen's lair.

The other way led to Piccadilly Circus
Which refers, methinks, to a roundabout, bas.
Where we met the Phantom of the Opera
Nearby, Fortnum & Mason- a culinary Shangri la

Oxford Circus on Boxing Day and otherwise
Our happy hunting grounds, shopper's paradise
A little ahead, Harrod's, marvellous opulence
We liked Liberty more, understated elegance.

Cirque de Soleil acrobatics at the Royal Albert Hall
Museums galore, science, natural history, you have them all.
Obliging signs took care of me, so I needed not
To scatter crumbs, which was Hansel & Gretel's lot.

Hot chocolate kept the chill at bay, as did a warm coat
Not to mention woolies, my trusty cap, a brolly in my tote.
A trip to Sheffield introduced the Yorkshire countryside
And one to Bath the delights of 10,000 years old water besides.

Oxford's quaintness, Cambridge's newness, a river runs there too
Being punted along, snuggling under blankets blue
Expansion of the mind, with all the tours I took
Of art galleries, from the Tate to National Gallery stuck.

Memories as photos and the additional kilo I've gained
Are all now that have remained.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Victoria and Albert Museum

It can rightly call itself the world's greatest museum of design and art. I did three tours there back to back. Saw the Ware bed, where travellers would rest and that could seat 16. The cafe, with its gold work on the walls was a feast for the eyes.
I enjoyed the contemporary sections the most, as they were more relatable. The ceramics, glass, and similar sections were beautiful. It was easy to do this museum as all I had to do was just walk through and savour the sights.
The cast work section, with a huge statue of Michelangelo's David, which could be viewed from the balcony of the floor above, as that gallery was under repair, was also wonderful. Learnt about Henry II's mistress, who was 44 and he 14 when the affair started!

Cirque De Soleil

The Royal Albert Hall was awe inspiring. The stage for Circque was chameleon like, as the floor sometimes looked like the ocean, sometimes lava, and at other times sand, thanks to the light effects. The flexibility of the performers as they twisted, sprang, and did their various acts left us marvelling.
The few mistakes only highlighted the difficulty of the acts, and they always redid the tricks. It was as much fun figuring out how a boat moved on stage as it was seeing it move. There was even bhangra music! Skaters, jugglers, beam walkers kept us glued to the edge of our seats.
There was live singing too, so we kept looking at various points on stage. The actors in gorilla skins grunted, moved, and behaved like animals. What a long way from the smelly circuses with the downcast animals I saw in my childhood.

Museum of Childhood

I stumbled upon the Museum of Childhood while I was looking for another place. It had the most delicious dollhouses, from different eras. There were also train sets, car models, rocking horses, Action Man, which is the UK version of GI Joe.
I wished I was a child again. Different toys operating on various scientific principles like friction were explained. There was also an exhibition on magic which was wonderful. There were figues from fairy tales like Cinderalla and Snow White. Rooms had been created according to the themes of books.
The Mad Hatter's tea party was laid, and the wardrobe for the children of Narnia. Harry Potter was the only contemporary figure doffed a hat to. It was a pleasant journey back in time, as I saw kaleidoscopes and projectors similar to the ones I spent hours looking through when I was a child.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Phantom of the Opera

Just like watching a match in a stadium trumps the telly everytime, witnessing a musical beats watching it on the screen. This 5 D experience is still miles ahead of any 3 D or 4 D experience. The special effects would not have been possible on screen. The music entered our souls, with its haunting beauty.

The singing was spell binding. The stage was grand. Even though we were watching it from the Grand Circle, we could see everything. The characters expressions were not as important as their voices, outfits, and the use of the stage.

It reminded me of Greek theatre- the amphitheatres with masks, or the Parthenon with large sculptures so that worshippers could see detail from a distance too. Am an Andrew Lloyd Webber fan now.

Operas seem less accessible, like Indian classical music. You can only admire the power of the singer, but not identify with it. This one involved us because of the masala mix of love, horror, and visual grandeur.

Mirrors which characters stepped through, trapdoors which made them disapper, smoke, guns, boats and paths on the stage which wound long- we saw them all. The intricate chandelier, stage within a stage, and the painted on scenery were perfection.

The story in this case seems secondary. Although I will read the book. Am a musical junkie now.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Cooking in Progress

There's something about food
That puts me in a good mood
The washing purifies me too
The chopping takes away blues

For it requires mind. The violence
Dissipates my frustration. Hence
When I make the oil sizzle in the wet
It is easy to make the veggies sweat.

Stirring rhythmically, seeing my creation form
The uncertainty of it. Will  the spices storm?
Patience in spades is needed. The clock helps not
Only my gut, for when the veggies are done in the pot.

Somehow the eating is all the sweeter then
To feed myself and another, to know when
We stop, tomorrow too I will cook
And it doesn't happen by the book.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Oxbridge & Madame Tussaud's

Although Oxford has grander buildings, the punting at Cambridge was fun. it also seems more modern than Oxford. Saw the place where Pink Floy first played. there were ice bits on the river. The blanket they provided came in handy. Had the most delicious burger with chips at The Bath House in Cambridge.
Quite liked Oxford Castle at Oxford. Several shops and restaurants dot it. Discovered it after it had shut for the day though. Still, walking through it by the moonlight was enjoyable.
Some of the wax figures at Madame Tussaud's didn't look that lifelike. The best was Arnold Schwarzenegger, perhaps because he looks so like a wax model himself :) The horror show was hum drum.
The Marvel Experience in 4 D was new, although it was short- only ten minutes. With water squirting, 3 D effects and so on, I'm now a fan of this technology.

National Gallery, Saatchi Gallery & Science Museum

Did both tours at the National Gallery. The guide covered the Impressionists, a delightful series of paintings by William Hogarth called Marriage a la Mode, with lawyer Silver Tongue, an unfaithful wife, and other dramatic elements.
The Ambassadors, by Hans Holbein the Younger, was interesting because of the skull which looked like a skull when viewed sideways, not from the front. I also liked Turner's The Fighting Temeraire, it has beautiful yellows in the sunset.
In contrast, the Saatchi Gallery tour focussed much more on your interpretation of the work. Gesamtkunstwerk- new art from Germany is the current exhibition in their 11 galleries.It made little sense when I saw it without the guide. Gesamtkunstwerk means "total work of art". It was fascinating how a particular srtist had managed to get an expression on a sculpture with just a few strokes.
Another had used bread, marble, and wood to create leaves. A pipe ran from one branch to another, carrying yellow paint. Did that suggest a drain of nature by man? Screws driving the 'leaves' in the branch heightened this impression. The branches where the pipes led seemed less rough than the source branch, further adding to this notion.
If you look at the last image on the above link, there are two gruesome sculptures, one of which is similar in form to the painting which is part of the set. A keen eye is important to see these kinds of things. Art is not just about imitating life, but using media to comment on it. The viewer can decode and unwrap the work at leisure.
20:50, Richard Wilson's permanent installation at the gallery, is deceptively simple. The black and white large spaces reflect each other, suggesting maya. The sharp smell of engine oil adds another dimension. If you breathe gently on it, ripples are created on the bottom surface!
Continuing the technology theme, Science Museum, was fun, especially as I am more of an artsi. There was a piece of rock from the moon, rockets, mini ships, and old cars. Place was overrun with young boys mostly, on school trips. Had some yum pumpkin and goat's cheese pizza there for lunch. Too cold right now to plan more sightseeing. Snow fell this weekend, softening the landscape. There's still some on the car outside my window.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

National Theatre and Southbank Centre

Saw "Grief" at the National Theatre. Had some very witty dialogues and wonderful acting. Felt as if PG Wodehouse characters had come to life, with Jolly Goods, and old bean. Then listened to some lilting live music in the foyer. It is now my favourite place in London.
Also by the riverside is the Southbank Centre. saw an exhibition- Crazy Coffins- there. an aeroplane, a skateboard, and a sled as well as a guitar were preferred by enthusiasts for burial. I think it's a good idea, linking to a larger concept when you RIP.
The singing lift at the Southbank Center startled me at first, but it is melodius. Browsed a book at the Poetry Library at the Southbank Center, and then braved rush hour on the tube while heading home.

Friday, January 13, 2012

bank of england museum

tried to lift a deceptively small thirteen kilo bar there. also pulled some strings while playing a balloon game. appare tly they were to co trol inflatio  and i was seventy per cent accurate without even trying!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

natural history museum

the dinosaur skeletons were the best part. also like the blue whale model and skeleton exhibit. the interactive displays were interesting. saw some colorful birds, winsome sheep, and giant antlers. dodos, snakes, and termite hills nine metres tall made it seem like a global zoo.

cafe godiva, chislehurst caves, courtauld art gallery

Spent nearly three hours shopping in harrods and never realised the time. cafe godiva was worth the wait. the presentation was as good as the chocolate. the chocolate melted as i drank it, the cupcake was divinely sinful. the simple decor kept the focus on the chocolate. spotligts shone on us as we got a little taste of heaven.

on sunday we went to chislehurst caves. twenty miles of chalk caves built by the druids, romans, and saxons. we got a gas lantern as we entered. our guide pointed out the carvings made by miners. we also saw sculptures made by a new zealand artist, of spiderman, canary wharf, etc.

it was quite spooky! Heard stories about people who tried to spend a nigt here but couldnt. a couple who didi ended up with dislocated shoulders and so on. we also heard echoes our guide made.

world war two saw these caves being used as bunkers. saw models of those too. an hour was quite enough. it was a change from palaces, museums, amd churches though.

courtauld art gallery was also fun. saw fauvist art which is colorful. kandinskys, goyas, renoir, manet, and the rest of the whos who were there. as the paintings were displayed in a house the effect was more intimate.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Tate Modern

Although I saw a Dali, Picassos, Kandinsky and a Monet, overall I did not marvel at the paintings. Early modern art seemed better than current modern art. Reading explanations to make sense of the artworks palled.
Too many exhibits relied on glorifying the everyday. While earlier artists looked to nature for the sublime, modern ones rely on technology for a similar effect. I enjoyed one artist's work - she had used optical waves to create a sense of movement in her paintings.
Finally had scones. No wonder Enid Blyton mentioned them so often in her books- they are yum. Although it would be easier for energetic children to work off these jammy, creamy, buttery concoctions.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

british museum

Enjoyed my visit to the British Museum with my friend Neha yesterday. A mind boggling number of curiosities across civilizations were there. We took audio guides to help us make sense of our surroundings.
We started with the Parthenon: Greek mythology came alive with statues of gods I had only read about. Zeus, Poseidon, and everyone else were present. The craftsmen skill made the horses in the sculptures seem poised in action.
We learnt how these were carved so that those viewi g froma distance could make out thedetails.The Roman and British as well as other European artefacts seemed to be derivatives of the Grecian era.
We also marvelled at the Egyptian exhibits of intricately painted mummys. Indian section was conspicuous by its absence. Guess the West finds Egypt exotic while we find Europe unusual.
After six hours i the museum, with a break for pasta we were ready for hot chocolate and cake with cherry sauce at thr London review bookshop nearby. Thoughts fed, after a spot of browsing we wereready to go.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Wonderful Wimbledon

Yesterday we started early so that we could see St.Paul's Cathedral before Wimbledon. Climbed three hundered odd steps for a not so spectacular view of the surroundings. Enjoyed a close look at the ceiling though. After Westminster it was underwhelming.
Centre Court on Wimbledon was spectacular. Marvelled at the trophies in the museum. No less than the crown jewels. The sun was out and the sky was blue, so photos came out well. Also saw court one, the press interview room, the roll of honour, and the court where the longest match was played. Strawberries and cream was out of season but enjoyed an onion tart, stone baked pizza, and tea with traditinal fruit cake. Saw the original giant crocodile logo on Lacoste's tshirt. Would like to watch a match here.
Hampton Court Palace gardens were beautiful. The palace interiors not so much. 

Monday, January 02, 2012

Windsor Castle and the London Bridge Experience, as well as Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

Today we took an hour to reach Windsor Castle. Took the train twice after taking the Tube. It was a proper castle on a hill. A royal dollhouse with an electric vacuum cleaner, gold cutlery and the works served as a preview for the actual royal rooms that we
saw later. Painted ceilings, Rembrandts, royal beds, were all there.
The knighting room was also grand. Tipu Sultan's gold tiger head was very impressive.

The journey back took a couple of hours. The Chamber of Horrors at the London Bridge experience was a little spooky. Kept my head down and held on to the girl in front of me. The big squeeze was the most scary, where the walls closed in. The bumpy lift was fun too. As a vegetarian, the room with meat in it made my skin crawl.

Managed to make it to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. The open air theatre is a loving reconstruction of the original, with wooden benches, painted marble columns on stage, and a balcony which Romeo must have used. There is spacd for the groundlings, the nobles who would hear the play from the balcony, or sit on stage on the balcony to show off. .
rounded the day offwith Turkish food. yum. live music, green decorwith lovely lighting and a live kitchen added to the mood.

London Pass

Yesterday was the first full day of sigtseeing in London thanks to the London Pass. This enables us to see some main sites in London. We took the three day option. Started with Westminster Abbey. High, majestic ceilings, with detailed work, it had a spiritual air about it. Every hour there is a minute's pause for prayer, which makes it even more peaceful.
Most kings and queens - the Henrys, the Edwards, Marys, Elizabeths are buried here. The gold at the altar was stunning. I liked the Poet's Corner best. Browning, Tennyson, Hopkins, Dickens, Eliot, and therest of the gang are buried here too. Made their work seem more real to see their names on the floor I think.
Then we took a cruise to the Tower of London. Saw the Crown Jewels, the Kohinoor. The Tower seemed a little wild, with a Traitor's Gate, a Bloody Tower. It is spread over a vast expanse. Our next stop was the Tower Bridge. We took the lift four floors up for a magical view of the London skyline. The engine room, with detai,s of the machinery which enables the bridge to oen in the middle, was fascinating.
thenhad yummy lasagna and quiche at a nearby cafe we stumbled on.