Friday, October 18, 2013

All in a days work

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda. We give out a creative writing theme each weekend for Indian bloggers.

As she stepped onto the cobbled roads of the East Village, Sheryl couldn’t help feeling blessed. A very loving set of gentle parents, a not so well paying but meaningful job and an amazing best friend. Now if only she could catch hold of a nice boyfriend her life would be set. And hopefully, if all goes well she could check the last item off her check list at the party she would be attending this weekend.

Working as an executive in London’s best advertising firms gives Sheryl the chance to attend one of the glitziest parties. The only downside was the expensive dresses that she needed to own. But with Prince Charming waiting for her on the other side of the week, she didn’t wait to leave any stone unturned for achieving her ‘look’. Never mind the overdrafts on her bank account, the spilling credit card bills and the innumerable loans from her friends.

And off she goes into one of London’s most expensive exclusive boutiques for her makeover. Four hours late, she emerges out armed with a classic Swarovski studded olive green off-shoulder dress, matching stilettos, beautiful neckpiece and several other accessories. Several thousand pounds poorer but with a million dollar smile, Sheryl is finally satisfied with her purchases. A mental calculation of her purchases leaves her slightly perturbed but she quietly stashes the thoughts away. Ignorance indeed is bliss, she thought to herself. And anyway it’s all investment for the future, she thinks. After all, a top executive’s future girlfriend would be expected to dress properly.

With most of her shopping done, Sheryl strolls along on the high street pleased with her shopping, humming tunelessly. A shop window distracts her and jolts her out to her reverie. Hung around the mannequins’ delicate shoulders was an exquisite red cashmere jacket.

In a trance, she walks into the shop and before she knows she is admiring the feel of the fabric against her skin. The price tag of nearly 1000 pounds rattles her a bit.

‘But even if I wear it for a year, that’s just about 2 pounds a day. That’s a small price to pay for keeping myself warm and it’s a necessity than a luxury’ she thinks justifying her purchase.

“I’l take it”, she tells the sales girl who has been annoyingly lingering around. Oh, but how do I pay for this, she thinks to herself.

“Can I use multiple credit cards?” she asks the cashier. Upon an affirmative, comes out four different cards, two cash cards and 25 quid notes.

Wee bit unnerved, Sheryl calms her down with the thoughts of her glamorous new outfits. Oh dear, but I need make-up too, comes a niggling thought.

As if by magic, a MAC store comes into the view and she saunters in. Few hours later, an exquisitely made-up Sheryl walks out armed with several packages of tubes, lotions & potions. Feeling all set for the party, she feels like indulging herself with a little pampering session.

As she sits in the manicure chair, Sheryl contemplates to herself about her extravagances.

All for the future, she thinks. Ignorance indeed is bliss, she thinks to herself.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Walls that speak

So the past few months, we had been going crazy with new house related stuff. Expect the real work was being done by my better half while all I literally did was sit happily and day dream. Hours and hours I spent imagining how the house would look, which colours would look amazing in which rooms, how we would colour coordinate the furniture with the decor etc. etc. I would gaze lovingly at home decor websites, gape with my mouth open like a child whenever we would pass a decor shop. Never ever would I have imagined that buying lights, fans, fittings would have been so appealing!

So all said and done, the house was painted, the walls were squeaky clean and the floor gleamed like an obedient school boys newly polished shoes. And my excitement was building up. It was finally that time to put life into the walls. In many senses it felt like pre examination result phase where you know you prepared well but the outcome could only be the true testiment to your efforts.

Without much ado, here's a picture of how one empty wall looked.

There is quite a bit of craziness behind choosing the colour of the wall. Now since time immemorial, I had been wanting at least one wall in our new house to have a different colour. I wanted a brick red colour primarily because what was to be put up on the wall was decided first! And so colours in the scheme of red where decided upon. Pamphlet after pamphlet and scores of leaflets were thumbed through to finalize the colour. Tomato red was too shocking and brick red too dark. I had neared to the point of frustration when we chanced upon a shade of orange-red 'Sunset'. And then we watched with bated breath on how the outcome would be!

I finally zeroed in on the one in the living room particularly since it gives quite a bit of space to put up something. That something was hunted coincidently at one handicraft exhibition in Bangalore. A set of four intricately sketched paintings of musical intruments in gold thread work soon found its way into our living work. And Oh we hunted so much for that perfect frame. From gold to maroon to black we dug out various colour combinations with the wall & the room decor to find the perfect match!

And lo and behold, this is what the final outcome looks like!

I have tried so much to capture the true colour of the wall but unfortunately at different times of the day it gives out varied hues. The one above is taken in sepia mode!

More pics of the other side of the living room & story of the lamps coming up shortly!!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Rhymed Confusion

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda
(Prompt: “She said ____. He mistook it to be ____.” The words used in the blanks have to rhyme and your post should revolve around the confusion thus created as a result of the miscommunication.

One bright sunny morning, Belinda woke up and decided to treat her husband with her cooking. With a hot cup of tea, she settles down in her easy chair on the patio and thumbs through the pages of her dog-eared recipe book. Her loyal companion for decades, the book had provided the tastiest recipes her family had ever eaten. Belinda finally zeroes in upon her delectable carrot pie recipe.

She neatly lays out her baking equipment, puts out all the ingredients required and puts on her apron. That’s when it strikes her what is missing. Carrot! Oh, what would she do now without the most crucial element. With a crumpled face, she decides to seek the help of the one she had planned the surprise for.

Adam, her husband of 50 years was the gentlest soul in the entire South England. He never ever quarreled with Belinda and didn’t even dare raise his voice on her. Her wish had always been his command.

Seeing her furrowed expressed, he asks “What is it that is troubling you my love?”

Belinda, so upset with the surprise being ruined says “I wanted to bake a pie for you darling. Alas, I don’t have the most important ingredient.”

“What do you want? I shall get it in a jiffy” he says.

She said carrot. He mistook it for parrot.

“And don’t forget to get the juiciest, red and ripe ones” she says as he puts on his coat and sets off.

What a strange pie this is going to be, he thinks as he walks to the local market. Years of experience have taught Adam not to question his wife.

And he walks past the local vegetable market into the pet store where the kind old Graham is his dear buddy.

“Graham, can you get me the most red and juiciest parrot in your shop?” Adam asks.

“Adam, most people ask for green ones. Why this strange request?” Graham inquires.

“You know I don’t question Belinda. This is what she asked for” says Adam.

Graham potters around his shop and produces an old, withered reddish green parrot.

“I am sorry this is all I have” says Graham handing over the animal to Adam.

Hopeful of pleasing his beloved wife, Adam saunters back home.

And Belinda’s expressions when she sees Adam’s purchase were priceless.

Bride Speak: North meets South

Linking my story on Ankita's blog

Do check out Ankita's blog for extremely creative ideas!


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Drooling over home decor

The day you would rather spent 1000 bucks on buying home decor rather than a dress is when you are truely domesticated! Jokes apart, a home is always the owners pride & the neighbours envy.

Now when we bought our new home; my craziness for home decor touched newer heights. I spent hours (read days) on home decor website drooling over furniture, furnishing, home decor and what not. Funnily enough, I havent bought a single dime worth of stuff from any of these website but what they did teach me was ideas! Zillions and zillions of new thoughts came in my mind which never ever existed. I would save pictures of pretty little antiques, gorgeous coffee tables, delectable crockery that you could stare for hours and hours althogether. In other words, I had become a home decor maniac. Every now and then, I would open pages of these webistes stored chronologically in my favourites tab and enter a dreamland where my future house would look as if a page of a interior decor magazine had come alive.

Take a look at what got me drooling.......

In love with the olive green coffee table

Quirky Clocks

This unique wall ascent had be drooling for days

 For all the day dreaming that I have been doing is thanks to these awesome websites:

Any other suggestions for my day dreaming activities???

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Book Review: Tea for two and piece of cake by Preeti Shenoy

Protagonists: Nisha, the plump-plain-Jane in her own words; Samir, the sauvé high-flying business executive; Akash, the ever-so sweet younger guy.
Sometimes never judge a book by its cover doesn’t really work and Preeti Shenoy’s book Tea for two and piece of cake falls under that category. The story revolves around Nisha, an ordinary nobody who has a chance encounter with a tall handsome rich man at a party that changes the course of her life. What starts as a whorl-wind romance results in a bitter separation leaving Nisha with two small kids in tow. Shortly comes in the knight in shining armour Akash who transforms Nisha’s life yet another time.

Somehow, the book came across to be rather juvenile. The writing is rather childish and tends to drift towards justifying Nisha’s pains and sorrow and her actions. Some incidences are however heart-warming and save the book from being classified in the trash category. The narrative in many instances makes you wonder how does a simple girl like Nisha get so lucky that too twice. It also gives a rather happy if not illusionary picture that life can be a bed of roses even when your husband of eight years decides to move on. But then, that’s Nisha for you! Would have appreciated more had the writer dwelled more on the childhood phase of the main protagonist for the readers to appreciate the character.

Even though the book is quite predictable; it is indeed page-turning. There is a definite scope for improvement in the writing from the author’s end that would make her stand a class apart in the chick-lit category.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Book Review: Half Life by Roopa Farooki

Protagonists: Aruna, the highly emotional and seemingly unstable researcher; Ejjaz/Jazz, the loving,easy-going writer; Hari Hasan, the self-involved poet & father to Jazz.

Spanning across London, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur; Half Life is a story of a rather eccentric woman who walks out on her husband and home to go to her previous life in Singapore in search for her lost identity.

Aruna comes across an unbalanced, moody alcoholic who leads a perfectly balanced life with her doctor husband in London. Few lines from a Bengali poet (Hari Hasan) books compels her to fly back to Singapore where she has unresolved issues with her ex-boyfriend and childhood friend Jazz.

Chapters written from each characters perspective present their viewpoint beautifully. Roopa Farooki has skillfully crafted each character be it the drug-addict bipolar Aruna or Hasan wrapped in a time warp or Jazz with his own quest for finding himself. The book is so addictive that it makes you want to finish it without keeping it down. The author has beautifully described the conflicts faced in the life and the demons that reside within us. One of the lines from the book- "...running away really is the easy part; it is coming home that is hard" would probably never leave your mind. One of the most impactful yet free-flowing writing I have ever come across.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Book Review: Immigrant by Manju Kapur

Protagonists: Nina, the simple yet fiercely independent literature professor; Anand, the NRI dentist.
Set in the 70’s in India and later in Halifax, Canada; the ‘Immigrant’ is the story of how two individuals gradually change over times in new environments. Nina, an English literature teacher from an eminent college in Delhi gets married to a prized catch Anand, a dentist based in Canada.

The story beautifully describes Anand’s painful yet believable transition from a dependent, patriotic and shy person to an ambitious NRI dentist. In parallel, Nina’s struggles to make her widowed mother happy whose sole purpose is to settle her daughter in matrimony. The mother’s happiness knows no bounds when finally Nina agrees to consider Anand’s proposal.

The initial letters between the couple range from awkward exchanges to sweet nothings even before meeting each other makes the reader believe that love can happen even in an arranged marriage. However, what strikes surprisingly is that the romance soon goes out of the window once Nina settles into her married life in Canada. This is where the book slightly slows a little with repetitive narrative of Nina’s daily chores and Anand’s sexual escapades. It does pick up a little with Nina’s stride for independence and her involvement with another fellow classmate. Characteristic of all Manju Kapur’s books, Immigrant ends off wanting you to know more.

Book Review: Home by Manju Kapur

Spanning over three generations of Banwari Lals, Delhi based cloth traders; ‘Home’ is a family saga of typical middle-class merchant family. Set in the heart of Karol Bagh; the story revolves around how the different generations adapt to changing times. It also depicts how the patriarch one time strong and defiant bows down to his sons towards the end. The book illustrates how the women of the family who behind closed doors fill their husbands’ ears with comparative tales and one-upmanship of the other family.

Typical of family sagas and brings in dynamics of joint family, the worries of marrying daughters off, the privileges of having a son bringing in dowry and sometimes infertility. The narrative is rather slow and drags a little. Manju Kapur is a skilled written who artfully brings colour to each of the characters whether is it the dreary in-laws or the entrepreneurial aunt or the slimy parasitic nephew. Except for the fact that the book stretches a little; Home makes for a good read providing valuable insights into a distinctive middle-class trader family.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Book Review: Custody by Manju Kapur

Protagonists:  Shagun, the initially bored & later rather over-active wife; Raman, the hard-working corporate slave; Ashok, the ambitious boss and Ishita, the divorcee.
Set in the 90’s in Delhi, the story revolves around Raman & Shagun and their pursuit for seeking love and companionship. Married for over a decade; Shagun comes to terms with her suffocation and unexciting married life in the arms of her husband’s boss Ashok. Raman, the hard-working and rather unobservant husband realizes his wife’s infidelity when irreparable damage was done.

And then the quest of seeking divorce begins. However, the twist in the tale occurs when the divorce is granted and custody of minor children needs to be settled. The mother; filled with new-found love and the want to marry the love of her life quickly agrees for part-custody of the children. Shifted from one house to another like pieces of furniture; their two children began their early life in turbulence. The defiant son is soon sent to boarding soon while the much younger daughter tries settles in with her father.

In parallel, unravels the life of young Ishita born to typical middle-class East Delhi residing parents whose sole aim in life is to get their only child settled in matrimony. Love soon finds its way in Ishita’s life in the form of an arranged marriage making her postpone her higher studies plans. As expected, the demands for a grandchild mount upon the young couple. Endless doctor visits, medical tests and taunt from relatives shatters Ishita’s confidence and shakes the foundation of her marriage. An ‘amicable’ divorce brings Ishita back to her maternal home with a suitcase full of her marriage transactions.

Two parallel lives of divorcees are brought together with Raman’s younger daughter seeking a mother in Ishita. Fight for maternal love and jealousy surges in Ishita who cannot bear to part with her daughter and soon finds them fighting for full custody of the children.

Manju Kapur’s ‘Custody’ is a sure-shot page turner that will make you yearn to read more. Each character is weaved so brilliantly that you will have empathy towards each of them. Dealing with sensitive issues of infidelity and infertility, Manju Kapur artfully tackles the matter with her skillful writing.



Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Gradual Transitions......

Its amazing how the interest of an individual change over a period of time.

Just about a year back, I was turning into one of those bridezillas whose whole and sole aim in life was to organize her wedding. Have been meaning to write a blog around the journey of getting married but oh well there hasnt been any time to do that.

Coming around to the topic of gradual transition of life; once you get married, the next thing on our to-do list dawns upon you- time to be an adult; no more daddy & mommy to run off to for every trivial issue (mental note- did I really do that!!). Jokes aside, soon after we go married, we decided to take a plunge and buy our own brick & mortar. And lo & behold, the bridezilla gets transformed into a home decor maniac. From browsing through home decor website to blogs to attending fairs & exhibitions; I myself am amazed at how much the interests of an individual can differ over a period of time.

Inspiration & hope has come through several home decor blogs that I felt have added value & character to my house. But hold on, below I go ahead, a big round of thanks for all of the following blogs & many more who contributed to my ideas & will continue to do so:

1. Patricia's Colour Dekor:

2. Key bunch:

3. Simran's Simz Corner:

4. Ankita's The Bangalore Snob:

Pics of my newly done up shall follow shortly.......loads & loads of suggestions for corners, walls, empty spaces etc. needed!!

North meets South

When people ask me if mine was an arranged marriage; I often reply in affirmative. It was arranged by us! As corny as it sounds; in reality that was how it actually turned out to be!

Ok, lets rewind a little first. What started out as a “lets be friends” in a new country, new environment; got soon converted into a typical B school romance. From classmates we became soulmates and thus began the saga of a cross-cultural marriage. Although, we had exactly 6 months from the day it was meet the parents to the wedding day; my hyper activeness kicked in from day 1. Making to-do lists, preparing agendas and Gantt charts became my favourite activity so much so that I realized that I am being ‘Monica’ of ‘Friends’ fame. While I was doing my frenzied activities; my fiancé (now husband) was patiently observing (although in my mind it seemed laid back!).

On the hind sight, I did eventually have a lot of fun & gained a plethora of information especially on arranging a wedding in Bangalore. Hopefully some of my experience will help many who are getting married in the city. Here we go, a check-list of sorts that should get to started on the preps! Read away…

· Guest List: One of the foremost thing that you should do is to draw up the guest list. Trust me, everything else will be dependent on the number of attendees –from the size of the venue to the food, invitation cards and all other arrangements.

· Venue:Coming from a family where I was the first to get married; my parents had absolutely no idea how to get started on arranging a wedding (sorry folks, but that’s the reality!) that too in an alien city (I am from Delhi & hubby is from Bangalore). So, the to-be couple set about one day looking for venues and boy were we treated with suspicion (how else do you expect prim and proper Bangalorean wedding hall wallas to behave when two people without any grey haired person walks in!). Jokes apart, we managed to get a free (oops read available) wedding hall. The rentals usually start from 3 lakhs per day to well sky is the limit!

Pic of the venue (Raj Hans Convention Centre, Rajajinagar) on the day of engagement

· Wedding Decoration: Fortunately, the wedding hall came with its own decorator (mandatory) which saved us a task of finding the phool-wala & likes. But the bridezilla that I turned out to be; I wanted to know each bit of the décor from where deciding the colour scheme to where all in the venue the flowers would be put to the number of flower pots near the entrance or the colour of the sashes on the seats. I think at some points my poor fiancé (who ended up being dragged to each of these meetings!), wanted to re-think about his decision!!

The wedding being in Bangalore would have been considered to be a typical South India. However, compromise was reached with the entire engagement ceremony (a day before the wedding) had hues of a North Indian wedding. From the décor (orchids) to food and the Yo Yo Honey Singh music; you would not be able to figure out if you were in Gurgaon or Bangalore!
· Caterer: Even though the venue guys had given us a couple of numbers for their preferred caterers, the organization maniac that I became; I goggled, hunted and mined several other contacts for catering vegetarian food for the two days. The most exciting bit of finding the caterers was of course food tasting!! Although this was met with a rather ‘how cheap are you’ from my hubby dearest! We had to make sure that the food was upto the liking of my Panju family; so that’s where chole bhature said hello to curd rice!
Note for all those organizing wedding with majority out-of-town guests; make sure you keep into mind the number of guests for smaller occasions where the caterer may be needed (speaking from experience because we figured 2 days before the wedding when the caterer refused to cater for 20 people! Not something you would want to face at the last minute!
· Wedding trousseau: The most exciting part of a wedding for the bride would needless to say is her trousseau. Getting married in a typical south Indian tradition, I wanted a few heavy Kanjeevaram silks but wanted to add the Punjabi tadka to the wedding. For the engagement, I choose a georgette sari (picked from Meena Bazar) with gold zari work. As the sari was a heavier side, I choose lighter jewellery (picked from going up and down a billion shops in Karol Bagh, Delhi). Green bangles that I wore were mandatory from the boys side& as much as I protested they won’t budge!

For the wedding day, I wore my Kanjeevaram silks (had to change saris in between). Deliberately choose, a yellow gold sari for the early morning function as I think it sets off my complexion better while a pink one for the reception. Both saris & quite a few others including several as gifts for my relatives were picked up from a friends shop in Bangalore who supplies for Nalli Silks & many others across India. The wholesale rates do end up making you pick more than you need & my cupboards are bursting open unfortunately L.

Pics of Wedding day attire
For the rest of my wedding trousseau, I shopped endlessly in Delhi (Karol Bagh, GK, Lajpath, CP and anything else that I could see!!) and Bangalore (primarily Jaynagar & Commercial Street). I managed to find an incredible tailor in Commercial street who I could give my clothes blindly to without even trials!
Neurotic bride-to-be that I was, I dragged my fiancé out for his shopping as well.
· Make-up artist: Finding a decent make-up in Bangalore may seem to be easy but if you are finicky as well as price-conscious; its definitely not a cakewalk. After browsing through a zillion Facebook pages and speaking to at least 15 MUAs; I zeroed in on about 3 who I personally met got a trial & finally chose Vidhya Rao. Vidhya is a Bangalore based MUA who specialized in bridal and fashion make-up. I can personally vouch for her work. She is efficient, punctual and ensures that quality is delivered. My wedding pictures are a testimony of the brilliant work that she has done. She went much further that what her duty calls for whether it was giving me skin advice, home remedies for falling hair or recurring pimples. The entire time that I interacted with her, she made me feel like she too was an integral part of the entire wedding preparation and I could bank upon her for a sudden emergency.

Pics of bride in making
Photographer: Went through a similar ordeal of finding “the one photographer” for our special day. From bugging friends to lengthy telephonic discussions with several potential photographers; I left no stone unturned for finding the best photographer in the budget that we had. Most of the ones that we met were either too amateurish or were costing a bomb. I was fixated on ‘candid’ photography that our parents could just not understand a word of and not getting the regular ‘smile please’ stage photographs. We eventually compromised on having both a regular & candid. We did several rounds of discussions individually with regular photographers & candid ones, did permutation combination math for figuring what would be most economical at the best quality & finally settled in with Abhishek Singh of Candid Pictures who did both candid & regular. All the pictures of the article are his team’s work. We were pretty happy with his work & have been recommending them to several friends

· Other arrangement: Phew! While these were just some major tasks; many many more shall keep pouring in and the check-list shall soon have more tasks added than checked-off! If you are arranging a wedding with majority out-of-town guests (like I unfortunately had); make sure that you keep into consideration where they would be staying, their pick-up & drops, visas & sight-seeing (we had a couple of friends coming to India for the first time & we had to help them with getting in and around Bangalore!), gifts, blah blah and much much more!