Friday, July 31, 2009

Friggin' July

Do you too get the feeling that July is simply dragging on? I’m dying for it to get over but it just refuses to!

The strange part is that I don’t even know what I’m looking forward to!

August? Nope, nothing special happening in August. Neither in September or October or November. And I’m definitely not looking forward to next year. That’s the year I turn 30 and have to start popping multi-vitamins, getting moisturizing fruit facials & using anti-wrinkle creams!

Gaaaaaaaaaaah!! I’ll be yearning to get out of next year as well, except it’s only going to get worse thereon.

Maybe I’m just looking forward to winters & Christmas? Such a nice comforting thought. Give me anything but July!

P.S.: Did you know that the month of July was named after Julius Ceaser? This was the month he was born in. Before that it was called 'Quintilis' (Latin) as it was the fifth month of the year in the ancient Roman calendar, before January became the first month of the calendar year. Some trivia about friggin' July, I tell you.

P.S.2: Wikipedia rocks!!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

An American Education

Disclaimer : I was NOT paid by the US Department of Education to write this one :)

The trigger for this post was an article I read recently on the American education system, it's merits and de-merits.

Having done my schooling in India and undergrad & post-graduate education in the United States, I can truly appreciate the differences in the educational systems of the two countries. One can argue that primary & secondary education in India is much more rigorous and therefore better than that in the US. This is often cited as one of the main reasons Indian students do so well at colleges abroad.

However, as far as college education goes I strongly believe that the American education system is far superior to the Indian system. It’s more inclusive, well-rounded, and colleges in the US have much better infrastructure that give students easy access to material outside of their coursework, contributing to the quality of education. Not to mention sprawling campuses where you spend some of the most memorable years of your life!

Take for instance the fact that students can choose their own major irrespective of how much they scored in Class 12th (or senior year of high school for Americans). They can decide to major in any subject they want, whereas in India their Class 12th scores determine what subject they will be allowed to major in. That I think is the biggest limitation of the Indian higher education system. Kids are forced to take up subjects they have no interest in just because they couldn’t attain the minimum required marks for the subject of their choice. I think it’s pathetic.

Colleges in the US also require students to take a bunch of ‘electives’ during their first two years of college. These ‘electives’ could be as diverse as religion, astronomy, music, anthropology, archeology, European history post World War II, social psychology, sociology etc. for someone who might be interested in majoring in Economics, Computer Science or Biology!!

The fact that you can take classes across such diverse streams gives you a perspective on widespread issues and helps you develop as a person. And the best part is that you’re not even required to declare your major until the beginning of your 3rd year in college, so you can explore various subjects before deciding on what you want to major in. Even if you had declared a tentative major during your first two years, you have the option of changing it at the beginning of the 3rd year.

You also have the option of doing a double-major, i.e. specializing in two subjects simultaneously. I did a double-major in Economics & Psychology, which paved the way for a Masters in Behavioral Economics.

Your final grade in a class is determined not only by your final exam but also on the mid-term exam and a series of papers you write through the course of the semester. The papers that you’re expected to write would include a great deal of research outside your text books. You’d end up issuing books from the library, researching the internet, watching movies/documentaries on the subject etc. - in order to come up with a well-substantiated argument or point of view.

I remember once I had to watch a series of plays by Shakespeare in order to write my own interpretation of the way he used female characters in his plays - for Shakespeare was widely criticized for being a chauvinist while others argued that he created his female characters keeping in mind the times he wrote in! Another time I had to watch a series of movies on human behavior in different crisis situations in order to write a paper for my personality psychology class.

When I was in school in India I never thought exams could be completely tension-free! Which Indian student does? But exams in the US aren’t the least bit intimidating as they are more subjective than objective. They aren’t about memorizing information and regurgitating it onto the examination sheet. They’re about analyzing information in a logical or creative manner – depending on the context – and presenting it in the form of a coherent argument. The focus isn’t as much on questions that have a right & a wrong answer but more on one’s point of view.

There are open-book exams & take-home exams. This would sound like an alien concept to anyone who’s used to the rigmarole of the Indian education system. The terms are pretty self-explanatory. In open book exams, you're allowed to refer to your books while answering the questions, and in take-home exams you're given the questions a week or so in advance and you can submit your answers on the day of the exams.

In-class exams are usually unsupervised – something unimaginable in India! Rather they are based on the Honor Code system. Each student signs the Honor Code at the end of the exam stating that he/she has neither given nor received any unauthorized aid during the exam, and trust me, it works! Students do abide by it. I guess it works at a psychological level...and in any case I feel people in the West are inherently more ethical than Indians.

I think the biggest strengths of the American education system are that it lets you be what you want to be rather than shoving some antiquated redundant idea down your throat, doesn’t judge you on the basis of one instance alone, and encourages you to think beyond the text book, helping you develop as a much more well-rounded person.

More liberating than the Indian education system, don’t you think?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Watch That Thing!

These days there is some report or the other in newspapers regarding sex scandals involving the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

He is either caught throwing parties for nubile nymphets at his sprawling villa in Sardinia, making sex tapes, or getting former topless models to act as hostesses to the heads of various nations at international diplomatic conventions!

Before Berlusconi the media was obsessed with French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy’s high-profile affair with Carla Bruni – their courtship, their public display of affection for each other, Carla Bruni’s nude photographs etc.

And then there was Barack Obama caught ogling at a lady guest’s butt at the G-8 summit in Italy while Sarko smiled appreciatively from the sidelines. Photographed at the wrong moment, maybe?

While no one in Italy seems to mind their Prime Minister’s sexcapades (or at least we don't hear of it in the media), the French, known for their conservativeness, condemned their Prime Minister. There was a murmur in the US as well about the appropriateness of the conduct of their newly elected President at an international summit but it was mostly dismissed as “Hey, a man’s gotta do what he’s gotta do!”, thanks to the liberal attitude of the Americans.

This got me wondering…how would we (Indians) react if our Prime Minister or President was caught frolicking at a beach in the South of France with barely clad – or better still - naked women? Or divorcing his wife while still in office in order to marry a much younger woman with a risqué public image?

Just the thought has me in splits. Imagine how we would react! There will be an uproar across the nation. The “Indian culture” flag will be brandished in his face wherever he goes, the gods will be invoked...Hell, I’m sure he will be impeached just for that, poor guy! And without the Z-class security our PM/President enjoys, he might even be lynched by the public!

What about do you think we will react as a nation if such a thing happens involving one of our Heads of State?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Chicken Stew for the Dieting Soul

I just got off the GM Diet (more on that later), and having decided that I positively do NOT want the weight I shrugged off to find its way back to my tummy, I got this chicken stew recipe from my sister’s mother-in-law who is a Bengali.

It’s healthy & comforting (like all soups) without being watery & bland – things generally associated with stews. The recipe is pretty simple too. You would need:

  • Bay leaves
  • All spice (i.e. garam masala) – Whole
  • Cloves
  • Salt & pepper
  • Boneless chicken cubes
  • Onions – Sliced
  • Tomatoes – Chopped
  • Ginger – Grated
  • Veggies – Beans, carrots, peas. The Bengali version includes potatoes & papaya (raw I think) but we’re in a low carb zone, so we don’t like potatoes J As for papaya, I’d rather think of it as a fruit & not a vegetable. I guess you could also add other veggies of your choice such as cabbage, mushrooms etc.
  • Cornflour

I’m not a stickler for measurements, and I guess seasoned cooks would have a better idea about them than me. Here’s how you can make it:

Lightly sauté bay leaves, all spice, cloves & grated ginger in a teaspoon of oil. I used olive oil but you can use cooking oil too. Or butter if you’re not counting calories :)

Add sliced onions, sauté till they turn brownish in color but don’t make them sweat. Add chopped tomatoes. After a few minutes, dump the veggies & chicken cubes (they need not be boiled), add salt & cook for sometime. Then add sufficient water, a bit of cornflour (dissolved in water) & bring the stew to a boil. Once it boils, put the lid on & simmer till the chicken & veggies are cooked and the stew has attained the desired consistency. Sprinkle black pepper powder (as desired) right before getting it off the stove & serve hot.

Voila! It’s that easy!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A New Found Appreciation for Food

It's a rainy Saturday morning and I have nothing to do...nowhere to be! It's heavenly!

I'm sipping on my morning ginger tea - my life force! I can't function fully without my morning tea.

The weather is awesome and I really want to write, but I don't have anything particular to write about. So, I'll write about the evil influence that The Knife has had on me.

I consider it an "evil" influence because I was never one for cooking. Until I started reading his blog.

I used to detest cooking...considered it "burning of one's time" in the literal sense of the word. I never understood how people could think of painfully chopping vegetables and standing in front of the gas range for hours as means of de-stressing!

However, ever since I started reading The Knife's blog, I have started experimenting with cooking. Not the dal-chawal type of everyday cooking but more exotic weekend cooking - Italian, Spanish, French, Thai, Mediterranean cooking.

Almost every weekend I’m cooking something and inflicting it upon A & my sister. And if their feedback is to be believed, I’m pretty decent at it :)

I hunt online for recipes during the week so I can make something new over the weekend. Sometimes I pick recipes from The Knife’s blog because they are practical and easy to follow.

Ever since I’ve gone on the GM Diet, all I can think about is food! I dream of food. Yesterday was the ‘chicken & tomatoes’ day. I was way bored to eat boiled chicken & raw sliced tomatoes all day, so I got a little experimental with Italian herbs and came up with this delicious chicken preparation that had all of 1 tsp of olive oil in it! So here’s what you’ve got to do :

Take skinned boneless chicken breast (or leg pieces if you find chicken breast too chewy). Grate tomatoes and marinate the chicken in the pulp for half an hour. Add salt, pepper, chopped fresh basil & parsley, dried oregano (though keep oregano to a minimum because it can overpower the taste of all other herbs) & red chilly flakes.

Heat 1 tsp of olive oil in a pressure cooker and sautee crushed garlic in it. Once the garlic turns brown, add the chicken along with the marinade, shut the lid on the pressure cooker and let it cook for 3-4 whistles or until the chicken is fully cooked. You wouldn’t need to add water as the tomato pulp is enough. You can then remove the lid from the cooker and let the gravy dry up a bit. This can be served with garlic bread.

This chicken dish is easy to prepare and tastes good even though it isn't loaded on calories.

In a way, this weekend is going to be really sad. I associate weekends with good food and eating out, but my diet doesn't allow me to. I have 2 more days left to go and can already see my plate of spaghetti carbonara screaming out to me! Get that plate of ham & bacon with spaghetti in a cheese sauce ready, babe :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Beloved Bandra

I think I am going to be sick. I was browsing this site for houses on rent in Bandra (W), my erstwhile home. The rent that landlords are asking for is ridiculously insane!

It started from Rs 20,000 & went up to Rs 60,000 (I’m not kidding!!) for a 1 Bedroom Hall Kitchen apartment of 300-600 sq ft!!!!!

I mean, is that even real?? Are there people out there who are willing to sign up for such insanity??

Apparently, there are, else landlords wouldn’t be making such insane demands in the first place. And I thought recession had driven real estate prices in Bombay down?

What price does a person really have to pay in Bombay to be able to live in a place of his/her choice?

Will I ever be able to go back & live in my beloved Bandra again? :(

Monday, July 20, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Hmmm…Where do I begin? Irrespective of how good or bad the Potter movies are, I have to watch them simply because I’m a Potter-maniac.

To be fair to the movies, none of them have been bad on absolute terms but I think this one was relatively better than the other ones, in terms of doing justice to the book it is adapted from and its execution - probably because this movie didn’t require special effects at the same scale as the earlier movies, focusing instead on the budding romance between Harry & Ginny, and Hermione pining for Ron.

A good director can get the emotional bit right but when you're trying to aggrandize a movie in terms of its scale, there is a good chance you might lose the plot.

I didn’t think this movie was spectacular in terms of scale, the sets, visual effects etc. – because it wasn’t. The earlier movies had those on a much grander scale. But I enjoyed this movie. It was dark, funny, and the actors seem to have really come into their own.

I just wish Rowling hadn’t killed Dumbledore in the book. Did she really have to?

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Today is a working day for me thanks to the Bandh called by the Congress yesterday because one of their MLAs got beaten up by supporters of the Communist party.

I really believe there is a reason, apart from its historical dominance by the Communist party and the policies of the State government, why Kolkata lags behind other metros in terms of development & growth, and that has to do with the attitude of the people in this city. Since I don’t offend people on weekends, I will abstain from elaborating on this further ;)

After all, every city has its pros & cons, and Kolkata is no exception.

Since it’s a Saturday I’m obviously not getting any work done. So I thought of making the day somewhat productive and writing about the book I have just finished reading – 'Twilight'.

'Twilight' is the first book of the Twilight Saga (consisting of a series of 4 books) by Stephenie Meyer. I was dead against reading the book at first – it was about teenage romance & a vampire!!

Teenage romance, for God’s sake!!

Moonshine was pretty insistent I read the book and then I saw people (women) all around me at work reading the book. Needless to say they were all gushing about it and that got my curiosity peaking. I bought the book, thinking I probably won’t be buying the series.

When I started reading the book I couldn’t believe myself…I was like, “Oh great, I’m reading a book on high school romance & vampires!! Why did I let people convince me into this again??”

I’ve never read a romance novel in my life, vampires are not my idea of people to spend my free time with, and ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ was not my favorite TV show. But whadyaknow – 2 days into the book I was so hooked, I went back and bought the entire series!!

I’ve already drooled all over my computer screen and this blog about Edward Cullen (see post below), the hero of the book who is also a vampire, so let me not extol his gorgeousness even further, and get started about the book.

The book is about a girl (Bella) who moves to a tiny wet, dreary town outside Seattle where everyone knows everyone else. She meets and falls in love with a vampire (Edward). Now that doesn’t happen too often, does it? But there’s a small problem there…vampires drink blood and there are six other vampires in Edward's family. The rest of the story is about the dangers Bella faces because she’s in love with a vampire.

I think I’m sounding like I’m making fun of the book. It’s hard not to if you think about it rationally. But I loved the book!!

It’s very well written though the story is childish, cheesy, corny…it IS a high-school romance after all, with a healthy dose of flipping hearts, knotting stomachs, sexual tension etc. And oh, vampires. Lots of them.

The author is American, and her language reflects that – it’s flowy and easy to read. And she’ll keep you turning pages without wanting to put the book down. I was so addicted to the book, I was reading it even during lunch breaks at work!!

A warning though : this book is NOT meant for men.

I just got my hands on the movie and I can’t tell you how badly I’m dying to watch it! So that’s the POA for tonite – watch a cheesy movie about high-school kids in love and vampires. The only problem is that A wants to watch it with me. He thinks I’ve completely lost it because I’ve been walking around in a daze (it’s the Edward Cullen effect I assure you, I’m sure I’ll snap out of it sooner or later) and can’t stop talking about how gorgeous and charming the vampire is!

I’m trying to talk him out of it but he’s simply not relenting. This is a movie I need to watch alone or with a girlfriend….definitely not with a boy! He is never going to get the movie!

Besides, I’d like to watch it with someone who would think it’s perfectly normal to squeal and drool all over the place over a hot guy. A guy is never going to get that either.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Edward Cullen

SO…I am in love with Edward Cullen. He is the sort of guy that will give any teenage girl jelly knees. I long ceased to be a teenager but I’m in love with him nevertheless.

He’s taken me back to the time when we had full-throttle lustful crushes in school. Not the "first love", mind you – that was always "pure & innocent". I’m talking about crushes where even the slightest physical contact with the person could get your blood rushing to your head, make your stomach flip with a mixture of excitement and nervousness, and make the hair on the back of your hand stand (assuming you didn’t wax at that age, of course).

Edward has honey-gold eyes and a smile that kills, is drop dead gorgeous, graceful, lithe, muscular, powerful, dazzling! He is sex-on-toast!

Sadly, he is also a vampire that doesn’t exist except in the imagination of Stephenie Meyer. Sigh!

Moonshine, I’m going to kill you for this.

PS: The character of Edward Cullen in the movie version of the book was essayed by the very British Robert Pattison. For the uninitiated, this is the same guy who played Cedric Diggory in Happy Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Delicious, isn't he? ;-)

Needless to say I’m dying to read the rest of the series and get my hands on the movie.

PPS: To those (men reading this I guess) who don't really "dig" hot men, I'm sorry for being such a girl :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Soul Food

Now for a fun post!

What’s your 'soul food'?

You know the food that comforts you when you’re stressed out or depressed or generally feeling out of sorts? The food you crave the most. The food, after eating which, you feel your world will set itself right back again?

Mine is Chinese food! I love it so much I can eat it day after day, everyday, and not tire of it!

What’s yours?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Life. A Choice.

They’re all around me. They stare me in the face wherever I go - married women who have changed the way they are to fit into the families they have married into.

I’m not referring to minor adjustments such as sharing the bathroom with the spouse, reaching a compromise on the temperature of the air-conditioner, learning to fall asleep with the TV on etc. It’s the changes that women make to their identities that are the most discomforting.

I know I have been writing about this a lot of late but it's all around me and it bugs me no end.

One thing I feel very strongly about is changing one’s last name after marriage. I am very sure I’m not going to be doing it, even if that means not marrying the person in question. It is non-negotiable. My name is an indispensable part of who I am; has been for as long as I’ve lived. Why should I be expected to change it just because I got married to someone? My identity is more important to me than a man - ANY man.

The other thing I cannot do is cook everyday. A friend of mine is about to get married to her boyfriend of four years, who told her that if she’s not willing to cook everyday he’ll have to re-consider marrying her!

I’m sorry but if the guy is used to having his mom cook for him everyday, that’s his problem - not mine. The personal decision that his mom took does not apply to me by default.

Surprisingly, my friend is okay with it though she doesn't know how to cook and has never cooked at her parent's house!

Women make numerous sacrifices to keep their in-laws happy. There are certain types of clothes they give up wearing after marriage (such as shorts, skirts, capris, sometimes even jeans!) because their in-laws aren’t okay with it.

I can’t ever take that kind of an intrusion into my personal life from anyone, including my husband. Being asked not to wear the kind of clothes I presently wear is unfathomable! I think I will simply turn around and ask the person to mind their own business, irrespective of who they are!

Without hesitation.

The life of a married woman starts getting dictated by the schedules and whims of her in-laws. This is particularly true for women who live with their in-laws. They can’t go out with friends whenever they want to. There are things they can & cannot do; places they can & cannot go to – because their in-laws tell them so.

I’ve always been so fiercely independent that such a thing is completely unacceptable to me.

The other thing I don’t understand is how women are okay with husbands who do not support them if there’s a tiff with the in-laws.

The men come up with this very convenient excuse of not wanting to take sides or be in a position where they have to choose between their parents and their wife.

Excuse me? You’re the one who has married me and brought me into your family, so you bloody well support me!

Yet another thing that a married woman is expected to do is to always put her husband’s parents before her own. In fact, it is not even an expectation; rather an assumption that the guy’s family makes.

I can never see myself putting my husband’s parents before my own. And why should I? I don’t see the guy returning the favor. I will give his parents all the respect that they deserve, help them out whenever I can but I can never neglect or be unfair to my parents.

If there’s one thing I’m sure of in life, it is that I am not going to compromise myself for anything or anyone in this world.

I’m not a hopeless romantic. I’m not deluded regarding life. I know enough couples to know that it doesn’t take very long after marriage (a couple of years at most) for the rose-tinted love glasses to come off and then you’re left to deal with reality. And reality is what you’ll have to live with for the rest of your life.

You’ll be left to live with a person you cares for you, values you, respects what you are, gives you the space you need, stands up for you when you need him to – or not. And I don’t want to be standing on the wrong side of the fence, even if that means not getting married for another 5 years.

That’s not very good news for my parents, is it? :)

I just upped the ante God knows how many times...but that’s okay. They'll live!

Some people might say these things are easier said than done. Surely they are but I’m also sure I have the courage to stick by them, because at the end of the day if we don’t stand up for ourselves, no one else will.

I might have come across very strongly in this post but that is just how strongly I feel about this issue. Neither am I apologetic about it to any man or woman who might get offended by it. If you're a man and offended by this post, I can understand. If you’re a woman and offended by it, you're probably trapped in this situation yourself, or see yourself in such a situation in the future. Either way, deal with it.

For those who feel the way I do, thank you :)

We get only one shot at life afterall.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Hungry Tide

'The Hungry Tide' is the story of two young people - a Delhi based businessman and a female cetologist (a biologist who studies marine mammals such as dolphins etc.) - who visit the Sunderbans for personal and professional reasons respectively, and how their lives become intertwined with those of a poor, illiterate fisherman and his ambitious wife.

There is a parallel story running throughout the book, of an idealist & a revolutionary who gave up his life for the idea of revolution, or possibly for love, you may argue.

I was never too keen on reading Amitav Ghosh for the simple reason that the synopsis of his books printed on the back cover never enticed me into buying the books. After reading ‘The Hungry Tide’ I am convinced that he is a seriously over-rated writer.

Well, to be fair to him the book isn’t all that bad. It just failed to interest me. It’s not a page turner either.

The only reason I persisted with it is because I’ve been to the ‘tide country’ and therefore, I could imagine the settings. Someone who hasn’t been to the Sunderbans, and does not know what the mangroves, rivers/creeks & villages there look like may not be able to enjoy the book at all.

Amitav Ghosh’s style of writing is very conventional and staid, for me at least. He writes well but there is nothing exciting about his style of writing.

'The Hungry Tide' is an old book so I’m sure many of you would have read it already. As for me, I don’t regret not having picked up ‘The Sea of Poppies’.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Devil Does Wear Prada

This appeared in The Telegraph today. While watching 'The Devil Wears Prada' I thought Anna Wintour, the Editor of Vogue, was the inspiration behind Miranda Priestley's character, and turns out my suspicion was true! Pretty entertaining article on!

Former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham, or Posh, has apparently undergone a breast reduction surgery to be on the cover of Vogue, after its editor Anna Wintour told her to do so. Wintour is said to have told Posh to get rid of the “footballer’s wife” image and lose those ridiculous implants before the cover happened.

I felt sorry for poor Posh. To be called all these names and asked to just change after her long career as a superceleb. But what choice did Posh have with someone like Anna Wintour? Vogue is almost like God — The New York Times once said: “Vogue is to our era what the idea of God was, in Voltaire’s famous parlance, to his: if it didn’t exist, we would have to invent it.” If the magazine is like God, its editor is no less than an oracle.

For those who are OK with her, working with her is “like belonging to a church”. Only human beings who are very big institutions, I think, can be compared to buildings.

Wintour is also called “Nuclear Wintour”. She meets the head designer at Yves Saint Laurent and raises her eyebrows at his collection; the man becomes jelly and heads for a rethink. She makes Prada “re-interpret” some of their designs. Without once having to take off her trademark giant dark sunglasses, or that immobile expression framed by the bobbed hair that descends like a steel curtain. They have been like that for years.

Wintour does not influence fashion, they say. Nor is she above fashion. She is fashion. And yes, she likes fur.

There are also rumours that she sacks underlings in the elevator — what happens to their remains is not so well-documented. That if she takes off those glasses, they will reveal two red spinning fireballs in the place of eyes. That she is Antichrist, only surrounded by her cronies disguised as fashionistas who feed on smoke, decaf and salad without dressing.

There are rumours that she is truly evil. That she is The Devil. She was the inspiration behind the boss from hell, Miranda Priestly, in The Devil Wears Prada. (Some who know her say that Priestly, played by Meryl Streep, was positively cuddly compared to the original.)

So either Anna Wintour is a church, or she belongs to the Other Side. But whatever she is, she is The Boss. And if such a person asks you to drop your silicone — to do anything — what can you do? You obey.

Yet the episode left me disturbed. That night, when I went to bed, some questions troubled my weary head.

What did Wintour exactly tell Posh? “Posh, get rid of the footballer’s wife image — and lose those ridiculous implants before the cover happens” — but did not add “please”?

If Wintour could say this to Posh, what would she say to Pamela Anderson, and Rakhi Sawant? (And what would she say to Rakhi Sawant in bridal finery?)

So I dreamt of Anna Wintour.

I dreamt that I was meeting her with a request to be on a Vogue cover.

She was standing in her office, against her desk. I had a vague feeling that I wanted to be wearing a Chanel suit, Jimmy Choo shoes, Cartier sunglasses and YSL perfume and clutching a Louis Vuitton purse in her presence, because she wanted me to be wearing a Chanel suit, Jimmy Choo shoes, Cartier sunglasses and YSL perfume and clutching a Louis Vuitton purse in her presence. But I was not wearing anything of that sort. I was, I think, wearing my school uniform.
I wanted to make amends. “I can slice off my jaws. I can knock off my nose and get a new one installed.” She kept looking at me.

“I can trim all my chins,” I said. “I can stop smiling. I can dye my eyelashes.”

I wanted her to speak.

“I can sell my soul,” I cried.

“Scrape it off the floor,” Anna Wintour told one of her assistants as she walked over me, squashing me with her stilettos. “But you can keep the fur.”

I think I know how Posh felt. Or what happens to the remains of underlings, maybe in other offices too. But in my dream I turned into a bit of fluffy pink chiffon and flew away.


For those who're curious, THIS is Anna Wintour. No less a diva herself!


In a way, I feel bad for David Beckham.

What would it feel like being married to a woman who is so obsessed with being in the spotlight that she turns anorexic, starves herself to death to maintain a size zero body, won't give up heels even though her feet are full or corns that have to be surgically removed, and will get her breast implants removed just to be on the cover of a fashion magazine, once (though there is a good chance she got those implants in the first place just so she would photograph well)!!

It must be a pretty crazy life!!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Are You a Good Swimmer?

My friends have been going swimming at a nearby pool and they keep pestering me to accompany them. I would love to except there is a tiny bit of a problem - though I know how to swim, I am hydrophobic!

I found this out when I was learning how to swim. Let me tell you the story of how I learnt to swim…

It so happened that the University I went to had this bizarre rule that students could not graduate unless they passed a swim test!!

This applied to all students without exception (including Michael Jordan & Antawn Jamison who were given their graduation certificates only after they successfully passed the swim test). I did not know how to swim then so I had to enroll in a swimming class. The class took place on Tuesdays & Thursdays from 9.30-10.45 am and I used to dread them!

I was miserable at coordinating my breathing with my movements. I think I was the second worst student in class. I would start feeling uneasy just being in the water (not necessarily in the deep end), and I would huff & puff my way through it.

I remember the day we were learning how to dive, my instructor stood patiently behind me for 45 minutes after the class got over, urging me to take the plunge. She refused to let me go until I dove. After much coercion from her, I did. I belly-plopped and she sent me promptly back to do it again, over & over till I got it right!

And then came the day of the swim test. We had to dive into the deep end, swim two laps and stay afloat in the deep end for 5 minutes.

I haven’t been swimming very often after that. I desperately want to get rid of my hydrophobia but being in the water takes too much out of me. I know this is going to be one of the biggest regrets of my life. I’m so envious of people who glide through the water with elegance & squeaky clean movements. And when I see A, who started learning to swim just a couple of months ago, swim like a fish, I feel like jumping right in. Only if I could.....

How about you? Are you a fearless swimmer? Is there anything else you wish you could do but you can't, for whatever reason?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Go Watch It!

If you haven’t already that is.

I’m talking about ‘The Hangover’ – the low profile, low budget (?) movie that has taken theatres the world over by storm based mainly on word-of-mouth publicity, much like ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ did 7 years ago!

If I have ever seen a funny movie, 'The Hangover' has gotta be it. The movie is crazily hilarious! It’s about four guys - one of whom is getting married - who spend a crazy night in Vegas to celebrate a bachelor’s party. When they wake up the next morning, they have no recollection of anything that happened last night. They wake up to a room wrecked beyond recognition, a tiger in their bathroom & a baby in their cupboard! And they have lost their friend who is about to get married in a few hours!

They need to find their friend ASAP but with no recollection of what happened the night before, that is just a little bit difficult. They are left with no choice but to retrace their steps. Their journey back into time includes bizarre revelations about each of them, strippers, drug dealers, the Chinese mafia, the works!

The movie is insane. There are a few loopholes – things that are left unexplained – but you don’t question them b/c your sides are aching laughing. It’s a movie you can see over & over again and laugh just as hard every time. It’s Hollywood at its low-brow best but when they do it, they do it so much better than we do!

And oh, may I add that Bradley Cooper is H-O-T. In a very blue-eyed-white-American-boy way but he is smokin’ hot. And Zack Galifianakis (Alan in the movie) – he is fatal.

Friday, July 3, 2009

It's Her Call

I’ve read numerous interviews by career women where they have said that they are "ambitious but not ruthlessly ambitious". It’s like they’re almost apologetic about being driven, successful career women. I don’t remember reading an interview by a man ever where he’s apologetic about his ambitiousness or success.

According to me, this is completely a result of gender stereotypes and the different set of expectations society has from men & women.

A man is expected to do well for himself professionally & financially, at all cost. It doesn’t matter that he is a negligent husband or a barely-there father. As long as he’s climbing the corporate ladder steadily, he is an exemplar. A woman, on the other hand, is expected to be a model mother, wife & daughter-in-law first and a career-woman later.

Why do these gender stereotypes still exist? Why do women still have to say sorry to their families & the society as a whole if they wish to be successful professionally?

Our country has become mature enough to understand that there is no point criminalizing consensual sex between two adults of the same sex, but we haven’t yet been able to break ourselves free of age-old gender stereotypes!

If a career is more important for a woman than her home, that is her prerogative. At the same time, if a woman gives up her career – fully or partly – in order to invest more time in her home & family, that too should be solely her decision. No one should question it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

How The Mighty Fall

The media can’t stop digging skeletons out of Michael Jackson’s cupboard. There are contradicting reports of MJ being healthy & emaciated at the time of his death. While some media reports claim he was a picture of health (contrary to rumors about his continuously deteriorating health) others report that he was all skin & bones when he died, and during the autopsy all that was found in his stomach was a bunch of half dissolved pills!!

They’ve been writing about how his nose had started rotting and collapsing thanks to 13 plastic surgeries he got done in his face.

They’ve been talking about his delusions regarding his financial status, and that even though he was penniless he kept borrowing to finance his high-maintenance lifestyle and quirks.

They’re saying how he had been dressing and dancing the same way all his life, implying that he never learnt to move on in life, completely ignoring the fact that the way he dressed and danced WERE what made him Michael Jackson!

They’re saying all this even as his music flies off shelves at music stores around the world. Yes, he was the craziest person alive. But he was also a musical genius, a phenomenon, an inspiration to countless number of people, and he lived by his own rules.

How many celebrities have the courage to follow through with their desire to go from 'being a black man to a white woman', without caring about society or that doing such a thing might affect their popularity? How many Christians would willingly convert to Islam in an age where the religion is getting increasingly associated with terrorism?

The man is dead & gone. In death, if not in life, can’t we just leave him alone?