Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My symbol of peace

'First time' occurrence today: saw the moon, or at least a pale shadow of it, at 1 p. m.

What's so special, you might ask. Well.....I love the moon. I love looking at it. The sight of the moon, whether a faint crescent or a brightly glowing orb, has always put a smile on my face, even in the worst of my moods.

I tend to overthink things - small things, big things, something is always going on in my head, and its easy to get overwhelmed by it all sometimes. But when I see the moon, its like everything.....calms down. I feel at peace, especially if its a brightly glowing full moon.

But the biggest treat, and to me, one of the most glorious sights in all of nature's wonder, is a red moonrise. I've only ever caught glimpses of it, usually while travelling - twisting and turning in my seat to see it better :)

It's one of my deepest desires to have enough time and of course, be in the right place, to watch a red moon rise, uninterrupted. I think I've blogged about this before, but it's worth remembering again.....I feel peaceful.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Keep running

"Sometimes life is like a treadmill:
you keep running, but you get nowhere."

This came to me as I walked passed a gym yesterday and saw someone on a treadmill. At the time, I thought I was having one of my (rare) moments of insight, but now I can't help thinking that I've read this somewhere. Hmmm.

Interesting thought, anyway. Pessimistic, but interesting.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


I want to feel something, anything
but all I feel is numb.
No valid reason, no annoying rhyme.
Just a fog-like insulation
Keeping things from sinking in.
No, I'm not hooked on anything,
I'm completely addiction-free.
Is that the problem???
Heh, of course not (a smile, at last!)

(Maybe I'll just start with this for now)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Life is a Cycle

Picking up where I left off:

Life is a cycle…
and I'm learning to ride.
Though I fall
more often than I move ahead,
beyond the burn
of every bruise
lies a lesson
waiting to be learnt:
sometimes in confidence,
sometimes in humility;
sometimes in turning the other cheek,
sometimes in an eye for an eye.

Contradictions? Yes.
For isn't that the answer
to cycling well:
Finding your balance.

© me

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

What it is we hold on to

I don't think I'm the sort of person who enthusiastically embraces change, or at least not in my personal life. It's not that I avoid change, no. I accept, I face and I move on.....but in my own time and in my own way, after much dwelling on my life as it has been..... savouring the good, learning from the bad.

I love introspection (just realised that!) I do it all the time, but I’ve just realised that I love it as I type these words. Funny how realisations strike sometimes!

I love going over my life..... people I've met & loved & sometimes lost… things I've done & seen & said.....I think I’ve emerged stronger and wiser through all of it.

So, recently when my friend ThoughtWarp mused over “What it is that we hold on to?”, I had so many answers. Moments that are with you all the time, moments that lie in the back of your mind; forgotten moments that are relived and relished when you see an old photo, talk to an old friend, maybe read an old post???

I totally agree that it isn’t possible to “capture” life in its entirety. But I think its worth the effort to hold every precious moment possible, especially when you’re faced with change….and life as you know it will never be the same.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Thanks to the Romance Novel

My favourite genre of fiction is romance - contemporary, historical, 'paranormal'.....doesn't matter, I love them all. I've been reading romances for nearly 10 years now and the attraction still hasn't waned. Some might snidely & cynically dismiss it to getting cheap thrills, but no, that's not it. I'm basically a sentimental, romantic fool at heart, forced to adopt a practical facade to survive this world. So in those moments when there's no one to be practical for, I like to indulge the fool.

Giving in to the "practical" requests of some, I have, on occasion, tried to "elevate" my reading preferences. I once forced myself to read a V. S. Naipaul - a book so unmemorable that I have forgotten its name. Other brushes with "literature" (namely, Nathaniel Hawthorne's 'The House of Seven Gables' and Daphne du Maurier's 'Rebecca' and 'The Scapegoat' ) were not so bad. I wouldn't rave about these books, because at the end, I was left oddly unsettled, melancholy even. Then again, to be great, art should evoke some emotion in the recipient, even if the emotion is less than positive.

Therein, I suppose, lies one of the reasons I continue to stand by romance novels. Who couldn't help but feel positive after a happy ending? But why I am truly thankful to romance novels, is for all the interesting snippets of information I've gained over the years: food habits, social practices, arts, languages, geographical & historical facts......worlds now and past have been opened for me.

However, what led to this post is something I read last night in a historical romance. One of the characters quoted a couplet that quite literally, made my heart jolt.

"All nature is but art, unknown to thee;
All chance, direction, which thou canst not see;
All discord, harmony not understood;
All partial evil, universal good.
And, spite of pride, in erring reason's spite,
One truth is clear, 'Whatever is, is right.'"

The source? Essay on Man (Epistle 1) by Alexander Pope. I would never have read Pope's work just based on the fact that he's one of the greats (in fact, I once began reading Rape of the Lock, but didn't feel compelled to continue), but this, this was just divine and I had to read it all. So, my sincere thanks to Martine Berne (author of the historical romance) for including these lines, and to that supreme, unseen force that directed me to this book.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Enigma of War

When one thinks of war, the images typically evoked are those of camouflaged soldiers, bloodied or burnt bodies, the flash of gunfire, devasted lands, skies greyed by dust and smoke. Those of us blessed enough to never have witnessed any of this firsthand can imagine these visuals thanks to the media & the moviemakers. But this frontline combat and its horrifying consequences are not the start and finish of any war.

I recently watched a movie called Enigma, based on a book by Robert Harris, starring Dougray Scott and Kate Winslet. Set in the UK's codebreaking center during WWII, its basically about how Scott (the genius codebreaker) has to redecipher Nazi radio transmissions during a radio blackout to prevent the biggest attack on a convoy of Allied ships in the Atlantic, and track down a traitor among his colleagues.

Through the course of the film, the tedious aspects of codebreaking are brought out well. In the absence of today's technological ability, much of the information-gathering & mundane work, like listening to radio transmissions, recording them, filing them were performed by women. I especially liked one scene, where Scott visits a place manned by headphone-wearing women, whose only job is listening to radio transmissions (an endless variety of Morse beeps); one woman pulls off her headphones and asks Scott if they truly are making sense of all these beeps. She says something like, "Our war is only this, beep beep beep." All she wants is a reassurance that their endless hours, days & months of listening to beeps is helping.

The film later moves to a juncture where the codebreaking team realises that the Nazis will only start transmitting once the Allied convoy is within range of their missiles, meaning they cannot prevent the attack, only control its extent. The tensions between the codebreakers and the naval officer in charge come to the fore, despite being on the same side. The codebreakers know that lives will have to be sacrificed for them to gain the necessary number of transmissions to crack the code; the naval officer, himself a survivor of a similar battle, thinks only to minimise the deaths.

Among the film's subplots is a storyline incorporating the horrifying Katyn Massacre - Stalin's brutal killing of thousands of Polish citizens during Russia's invasion of Poland in 1939-40 (a fact that Russia denied till 1990). Scott's character is stunned on learning about this massacre, and even more horrified on realising that his government knows about it, but has chosen not to do anything because they needed Russia's might to stave off the Nazis.

Technically, Engima is an average film. The story has many subplots and demands complete concentration to understand, so I wouldn't recommend it for a leisurely watch. Its not a movie you can enjoy, but I appreciate the effort behind it because it makes you realise the many levels on which wars are fought and that the men and women on the frontline are not the only soldiers, the only heroes. But perhaps the strongest realisation for me was the sheer impossibility of the moral dilemmas thrust on decision-makers. How much will you sacrifice to protect "the greater good"?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Another turn....

....in the path of my life. I've started work - my first job in the UAE, and the second overall - in an area that, as recently as a year ago, I never thought I'd work in. Then my dissertation happened and changed my professional focus. I'm a long way off from realising any of what I 'disserted' about, but I've taken that crucial first step. Admittedly, its not as big a step as I'd hoped, but its still something. I'm on the inside now......

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Sensory Overload

At the beginning of the year, I'd made a small wish. I had no idea it would be answered so soon and so spectacularly well. June 2007 passed by in a whirlwind of new sights, and I'm still recovering from the onslaught. I knew the package tour way of seeing a new place would be hectic, and of course, everyone knows that Europe is gorgeous, but still nothing prepared me for the.......sheer magnificence of the place.

Where do I begin to describe it all? The rolling green meadows, flowers and trees the likes of which I never knew existed (trees with purple and pink leaves - not the ornamental plants you see around, but trees .....how stunning they were!), majestic snow-capped mountains, wisps of mist floating among those mountains, rivers & lakes in all shades of blue including this unbelievable glistening turquoise (apparently due to calcites, I was told).....and God, even the clouds......I have never seen such generous puffs of fluffy white cloud before. No wonder this continent produced the best-known artists in the world.

The architecture, sculptures, mosaics and paintings are yet another unending delight for the senses. You see it all in pictures, in movies, in magazines, so it isn't as if its a brand new experience......yet none of these things can prepare you for the actual sights themselves. The awesome size of the buildings is the first thing that astounds, then as you get closer, the intricacies of the carvings and embellishments spread over these enormous structures just leaves you gasping.

I went crazy clicking photographs, trying to capture some part of this wealth of beauty for memory, but it ceased temporarily when I was inside St. Peter's in the Vatican. This place is an absolute explosion of art.....I'd start to click one sculpture, move ahead and see another one that was even more spectacular. Then I happened to look up towards the ceiling, and was lost completely. I don't have the words to do it justice so I'm not even trying. I just gave up clicking snaps and walked around, alternating my stares between walls and ceilings. If its the last thing I do, I'm going back to this place.

Here, and to the Louvre. We had just one brief hour of free time in Paris on the last day of the tour. My family was more interested in window-shopping; me, I just wanted a look at one of the most mysterious women of all time. I had a simple game plan: buy admission tickets, dart in, see the Mona Lisa, dart back out. The moment I saw the first painting in the Italian section, however, I was lost again......dazed, actually. Wide-eyed, slack-jawed I was slooowwly moving from painting to painting, when my dear mum had enough. I had to be dragged through, coz I just couldn't hurry up on my own. I sort of came to when we reached the Mona Lisa. Its only when you see other great paintings and then look at this one, do you appreciate da Vinci's sheer brilliance. There were so many other paintings I'd noticed that dwarf this one, have more vivid colours and subjects in more animated positions, but somehow lack the delicacy and the finesse with which the Mona Lisa has been rendered. I made a promise here too......that I'd come back someday, and do full justice to the Louvre.

For now, its back to editing the 2000-odd photos I took......some of the better ones will make their way here.

Friday, June 08, 2007

So many places, so little time

This is going to be the theme of this trip, especially starting today when we join the tour. I've spent four days in England so far, and I wish I had more time....time to wander around these quaint little towns and bustling cities, time to really absorb the sights (of which there is no shortage). But since that's not to be, I'm doing the best to stay alert despite a hectic schedule, and take in all that I can. There's soooooo much to write about....the places, the people.....but more on all of it later.

Sunday, June 03, 2007


Well, gosh, where do I start? Soooooo much has happened since my last post.

Finished my dissertation......yay!!!!!

Better yet, I'm blogging from England!!!!!! We're celebrating various things with a vacation to Europe & today is the first day!

Landed in London & it was like a mini-Mumbai reunion......ran into some old neighbours here at Heathrow of all places.......the world is getting smaller!!!!!

Driving to my relatives placé, I got my first glimpse of the UK......I couldn't help but feel how much it looked like some of the roads back home....surprising, but true.

Now, I set off to explore the surrounding areas......its 7 pm & we still have another hour & half of sunlight to go......how cool, or rather hot, is that!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Melinda Do-lots!!!

Oh I'm so deeply disappointed that Melinda Doolittle didn't make it into the final of American Idol. But at the same time, I can't say that I'm all that surprised coz somewhere down the line, the show has morphed into a personality contest. Not that the other contestants are bad, no, but hell, they're just nowhere near Melinda.

This lady is pure magic. When she performs, she doesn't just sing the song....she lives it. She understands the emotion in the lyrics and totally brings it to life. Where she took a beating I guess, is in the 'it' factor. She's not bubbly & chirpy & all that hip (which is what the voters seem to be going for), but she's still got a wonderful personality - she's calm, dignified, funny and most importantly, she's humble. That is what appealed to me most. She has a rare and precious voice that's almost divine, yet she's not arrogant about it, as so many with so little talent are.

I've no doubt that she'll go on to do very well for herself....she's already charmed cynical Cowell with both voice & personality, and won a set of discerning fans, self included. I wish her the very best, and hope she doesn't lose that all-important humility.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Secret of Santa Victoria

This is an old English movie starring Anthony Quinn.....pretty obscure actually, its not on any "classic" lists, but its one of my favourites. Dad got the cassette decades ago and I first saw it as a kid. That's one of the reasons I think the movie means so much to me....it takes me back to my childhood.

Moving on, the film is set in WWII Italy -- the town of Santa Victoria to be specifc -- in the days after the fall of Fascism, when the Nazis entered Italy. Santa Victoria is a typical little Italian town whose livelihood, and indeed life, rests on wine-making. Wine is not just something they produce, its in their blood. For some, this is literally true; for example: Quinn's character Bombolini (notice the similarity with "bumble"), quite an apt name considering he's the town clown and drunkard.

After the fall of the fascist regime, the townspeople overthrow the local fascist government that had made their lives hell, and are looking for a new leadership. In the meanwhile, there is another commotion -- Bombolini has climbed a tall water tank and is attempting to paint off an existing painted sign "Long live Mussolini" (a sign that he painted on in the first place!), all while holding a bottle of his beloved wine and being dead drunk, as the townspeople look on, terrified that he'll fall.

For Hindi film buffs, if the water tank, drunk man, bottle of booze and nervous crowd ring a bell, its with good reason .....this is the scene that inspired one of Hindi cinema's most iconic moments -- Dharmendra's "chakki peesing" in Sholay. Getting back to Santa Victoria, after all the drama, Bombolini paints over the sign with the help of a friend and makes it down safely....into the welcoming arms of the crowd who now see the buffoon as a hero. In a fit of collective patriotism (and drunkeness!), he assumes mayorship of the town.....a role, that when sobriety returns, nobody thinks he can fulfil. But determined to make a success of himself, he cleans up and organizes a town council of sorts.

Things move on at a slow small-town pace, till the town's only college student returns abruptly with horrifying news: the Nazis are coming to take all the wine! What follows is a story of how a town where "everybody hates everybody else" unites to save what is rightfully its own, what is most precious to it, and a story of how a drunken buffoon transforms into a leader. There are a mix of smaller love stories interspersed, including how Bombolini regains his long-suffering wife Rosa's respect.

Funny, cynical, serious, sensuous, in parts.....but inspirational overall.....a wonderful film, with equally wonderful performances. The cassette I have is showing its age, so we've been on the lookout for the DVD, but its been hard to find. I may well have to pay a bomb when I do find it, but it'll be totally worth it.

Friday, April 20, 2007

My Floral Inspiration

This post was inspired by a comment left on another Bombay-lover's Bombay musings. The comment author was not a Bombay fan because s/he believed Bal Thackeray to be the city's biggest icon. S/he is of course entitled to her / his opinion, but I beg to differ. My instant reaction was yeah Mr. T is one of the city's icons, but is he the only one? Definitely not.

So who or what are the city's icons? Are they only the rich and famous, or the rich and infamous? Only the most popular places and things? Of course, all of these are iconic, but they're not the only ones. An icon could be any symbol, any person that represents a significant meaning to someone. S/he or it need not be well-known, need not be known to anyone other than you for that matter, but it could still mean a helluva lot to you....still convey something that maybe only you understand.

For me, there is one image that I remember very vividly. Its one of those things that I’d seen daily while traveling in the train but never paid attention to. Yet on that one particular day as I looked out at the same old scene zipping by, this image just stood out – a patch of flowers growing tall amid sewage. Tall stems and bright red and yellow blooms. You see them growing all over, even in gardens. I was just struck by their beauty and how glorious they looked, despite being surrounded by so much filth.

A lot of people talk about Bombay’s stark contrasts, which are of course undisputable. To me, those flowers represent that contrast – that you can have goodness, beauty and growth no matter how terrible your situation or your surroundings. More than being iconic, for me they are inspirational.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

1 Year On...

....since leaving Bombay. I remember trying to be positive last year, even as gloom threatened to choke me. It was the biggest change of my life and I was not sure at all that it was a good thing. But today I know... it was good. In fact, it was necessary. Necessary for me to find myself, find my purpose. But despite it being a good thing, and me being happy, I'm feeling nostalgic... a little homesick. It doesn't hurt the way it used to, but it still can sure yank at those heartstrings.

So what do I miss the most?

- the sights ..... gulmohar trees, the flowers that bloomed among sewage, Diwali fireworks, the Mid-day logo, Imax, my old colleges, my church, VT station, the hideous dome over the VT subway, Marine Drive, Bandstand, Mount Mary, Siddhivinayak, all the roads in and around what we call "town", all the roads around my home....and my beautiful home.

- the sounds .... BEST bus horns, the million gaalis that form part of any commuting experience, Nashik dhol during Ganesh Chaturthi, dandiya beats during Navratri, church bells.

- the flavours .... crisp ghee sada dosa (nobody in the UAE does it like its done in Bombay), sinful Cheese dosa (nobody here seems to have heard of it!), bhel, wada pav, samosas, my old college canteen ka veg schezwan noodles (the best I've ever had), murg shifta at Ivy in between Chembur & Ghatkopar (I almost cried the first time I had this kabab....it was that divine), all the mithais (they use some freaky milk powder for sweets here & it makes me want to puke), the kababwallah's kababs near my house (er....the kababs that he makes, rather!!!), frankies (veg, chicken...doesn't matter....its all good), chole bhature, puri bhaji....God, this list can go on!!!

- the fragrances ..... some pleasant, some sure as hell anything but pleasant..... but they're all part of Bombay.

- and lastly, but most importantly, the people. Whoever said 'the people make the place' got it spot on. I'm luckier than most to be with my family here, but even as a family....we get lonely. For me, it isn't just that I miss my friends (and I do, from the bottom of my heart I do), I miss the million acquaintances....the people you've seen almost every other day, the faces you've grown up with. In the course of a typical day, you may just wave when you see them, may not even chat for 5 minutes.....but the point is that they're there. Its amazing how you take those familiar faces for granted...how you don't realize how big a part of your world they are.... till you're taken out of that world. It only hit me when I came here..... in this city, where life is so transient, where people keep coming and going, where they are much more wrapped up in their own lives, the worth of that wave hit me. Sure, its a seemingly insignificant gesture, but its the subconscious feeling behind it that matters and that so many of us don't recognize. The spirit, that when push comes to shove -- be it during the bomb blasts, the 26th July floods or any other major or minor crisis -- that unites Mumbaikars....that underlying sense of apnaapan. That's what I miss the most.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


Courtesy of Mr. Edward T. Hall, cultural anthropologist extraordinaire (whose work I've quoted here before), I've had yet another amazing insight... not only into the fields and the people that study the human mind & human relationships, but an insight into my own mind.

In his simple, clear-cut flow of writing, he says that we grow up, learn and continue to use things like TVs and cars throughout our lives, yet most of us have no clue about electronics or mechanics.....we can't describe how a TV or a car actually works. Similarly, we grow up and live our whole lives in a particular culture(s), yet most of us have no clue about how that culture works....how it affects us and how we affect it. And in many ways, culture is far more complex than electronics or mechanics.

I've never looked at my cultural sensitivities and abilities like that.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Extension Transference

Another one of the interesting ideas from what is turning out to be the best book I've read in the past few months - Beyond Culture by Edward T. Hall.


Hall refers to things like language, tools, instruments etc. as 'extensions' -- things that humans used to overcome their physical limitations, and thereby evolve more radically than any other species. These extensions have many fascinating characteristics......over the millennia, most have grown to become separate entities in themselves, with their own bodies of knowledge and skills to be learnt.

But because extensions can take on a life of their own, they are also confused with the process that was originally extended. He calls this confusion 'Extension Transference'. And one of the most complex system of extensions which is often subjected to transference, is culture. Culture is experienced as man and vice versa. Further, man is frequently seen as a pale reflection of his culture or as a shoddy version that never quite measures up, and man’s basic humanness is frequently overlooked or repressed in the process


Thursday, March 15, 2007


All the stress and nightmares aside, I really am grateful for my dissertation process. Its led me to discover fascinating impressions and expressions, and has literally opened up my eyes, not only to the world outside, but the world inside me. Inside my mind, to be more specific! Now on, I'm going to post some of these ideas and thoughts that truly got me thinking.

From Tony Morden's Principles of Management:



Is the idea that "similar ends can be achieved from different paths and from different starting points, for instance depending on the character of the conditions or contingencies prevailing in the external environment"

How true this is of life.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

I am plodding on through the process of completing my dissertation and its very easy to buckle under the more-than-healthy amounts of stress. Its even more easy to forget that there is a lot, in fact everything, in my life to be humbly grateful for...

...that I can devote all my time and attention to completing my education without having to work simultaneously;

...that I have a family giving me all the moral support and encouragement I need;

...that I have come into contact with knowledge and ideas that amaze and fascinate me;

...that I may have found the direction, the purpose of my professional life;

...that I just have the chance to learn.

That is what this is about. For the past few months, I've been living and breathing my dissertation. There have been times, like now, when I've felt like I'm submerged in a tube full of water and am struggling to get to the surface.... and every time I start to get close and see light, someone dumps more water into the tube and I go further down.

Its very easy in this process, to let your ego get totally carried away and feel like what you're doing will usher in the next Renaissance. What I need to remind myself is, like one wise man advising millions of students like me said, I don't have the responsibility of changing the whole world on my shoulders. This is a learning process for me. I need to be humble, I need to accept that neither I, nor minds far greater than mine, have found the answer. Its impossible in a subject like mine. I need to do my best, and just leave the rest....

Friday, March 02, 2007

G'bye Christmas Tree

This morning we took down our Christmas tree.....about two months later than most people (or maybe nearly everyone) did. Why? Because I wanted to have at least one birthday with the Christmas tree around. So I turned another year older a few days ago, baked a sexy chocolate cake, and had photos clicked of me hugging the tree.

I guess the basic reason why I wanted the tree to remain stems from sibling rivalry. My sis was born two days before Christmas, so she's always had the tree during her birthday. It wouldn't have been practical to leave the tree up that long in Bombay. But here..... central air-conditioning = relatively dust-free environment = no worries about the tree getting messed up = Shalom can have the Christmas tree till her birthday!

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Pursuit of Happyness

Saw this amazing movie based on the true story of an even more amazing person. God, it really drives home the point of how grit and determination to 'pursue' your dreams can totally transform your life. Of course, the path is never easy. In the case of Chris Gardner, the protagonist, it is a road that seemed impassable at times. The most heart-wrenching moment is when a homeless Chris spends the night sitting in a subway men's room, with his son sleeping on his lap; someone keeps banging on the door wanting to use the facility, but his son needs the rest, so he braces a foot against the door and covers his son's ears to block out the noise, tears streaming down his face.

Even if this were fictional, it would have been tremendously moving. But to know that somebody actually underwent this struggle..... it opened my eyes for a much needed introspection....

Monday, February 19, 2007

Droplets from my Memories

One of the better accidents of fate led a fellow blogger to leave a few thoughtful words for me. On visiting her blog, I was stunned to read a post that so closely mirrored a feeling that I have often had, yet could perhaps never have expressed as beautifully as this.

Reading it, I was inspired to leave a record of some droplets, pearls of my memories...moments when I felt uplifted, truly blessed to be alive and well, and at one with the universe...

- Hurrying on an overbridge at Kurla station, furious at every lecher jostling past, yet looking up all of a sudden and then feeling wonderfully calmed at the sight of a glorious full moon.

- That one instant on a monsoon evening, when the clouds part and the sun shines through briefly....have you ever noticed how ethereal the world looks then? And it is only in that fleeting moment, when all the elements are present: it has to be in the evening, with the sun at that precise angle, and with the clouds a specific shade of gray...the world around you lights up in a way that it never does otherwise, and pearls of water glisten in that magical light.

- Walking through Nariman Point, my mind anxious about work, and then feeling a refreshing sea breeze waft in....again I look up, this time its sunlight filtering through the trees, the first flower blossoms falling.....the beauty of Bombay in a short-lived spring.

- On a hilltop in Khandala, gazing at the panorama below in sheer awe, amazed that such vivid natural beauty exists only a couple of hours from the bustle of Bombay.

- One night in a garden outside Hyderabad, when despite a party rocking all around me, it was just me and the music, moving with a rhythm, with a freedom, with an exhilaration I had never felt before, nor since.

- Moments of shared, uncontrolled laughter....the pearls that can set you off even years later.

- Those few instances of true friendship, when despite the flaws, the fights, the disappointments, the loneliness, you realize that someone has selflessly stood by you. Or it is the unexpected phone call, email, SMS.....a few words that let you know that friendship transcends distance.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Emirates Palace Hotel

The Emirates Palace Hotel, Abu Dhabi

Not the best pic in the world (but decent enough considering I had to dash from the car with a guard shrieking on his whistle telling me to get lost). I had the opportunity to visit this architectural showpiece last night courtesy a corporate dinner. A chance to finally see the inside of this place (and the hope of mind-blowing food!) drew me there.
The hotel is, of course, the most ornately fabulous place I've ever been to. No expense has been spared in embellishing every inch of it. God bless those tireless, talented artists who combined to produce this wonder, and those who are in very likely thankless jobs, struggling to maintain its glory.
The buffet stunned us with its sheer extravagance (I've never seen a table with more dessert delicacies!), but alas, looks were deceiving in this case. It was good, but it couldn't compare to the exquisiteness of the fare at the much more humble Taj Khorfakkan.

We didn't get to see much of the hotel, but Insh'allah, someday I'll stay there on my own money.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Love at First Bite

In India, and apparently in the UAE too, the name 'Taj' is quite frequently adopted by many in the food and hospitality business. But the actual offerings rarely live upto the glory of their name. Fortunately, this wasn't the case with the Taj Khorfakkan Restaurant.

The bland European-style fare served at the hotel in Khorfakkan forced us to seek tastier avenues (that and the fact that the buffet cost a bloody bomb!). We were told that there was only one Indian restaurant nearby - the Taj. So we set off on our first evening, hoping for some less expensive, more wholesome food than our lunch had been.
Though it was neat and clean, the place didn't have any 'ambience' to speak of. The first unique thing was the menu, bound inside two wooden boards carved like ornate doors. Not expecting much, we stuck to the usual options - biryani, chicken kebabs, a mutton gravy and some rotis. But man oh man.....the flavour.... the heavenly, gorgeous, mouth-watering flavour!!!! I was stunned ..... I couldn't imagine finding the best Indian food I'd ever tasted in a small coastal town in the UAE!!!
For the next three days, we took all our meals there. And they just kept getting better. We must have tried almost everything on the menu. But for me, there was nothing more beautiful, more exquisite, more perfect than the paratha. A hardcore non-vegetarian, it wasn't the succulent kebabs or the excellent fish fry that I fell for, but the paratha. If I could, I'd compose sonnets in its name, and for chef Abdul, God bless the man. After years of eating parathas that were dry, rubbery, tough or over-browned, here was a gorgeous work of art -- all glowing orange against a shimmery cream..... flaky, marvelously soft and oh so tasty! Truly love at first bite!!!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Holidays and the Circus

Yes, after a verrrry long time, I went on a holiday - brief, but memorable and loads of fun. We drove to the east coast of the UAE to calm Khorfakkan. Rocky hills on one side and a gorgeous blue sea on the other, it was peaceful and rejuvenating, except on the second day, when it was cloudy and wet and we couldn't go out. Anyway, that evening the wind really picked up: I've never seen chairs and lounges end up in a swimming pool before!!!

What I loved best was the sea because it was the real deal, not like the man-made Corniche at AD. Of course, the Khorfakkan sea is also flat, but at least its got more personality than the artificially still waters of the AD Corniche. When we weren't on the beach, we ended up at the Al Safeer store (on all three days). Not surprisingly, we ended up buying quite a bit, but it was quite cheap actually, so my conscience wasn't all that troubled.

Its a quiet life there, especially for the citified types used to the hustle and bustle of crowds. But that, and the fabulous private beach at the Oceanic Hotel , makes it worth the cost and the 4-hour drive for a quick and refreshing weekend getaway.

I was sorry to leave, but had plenty to look forward to the next day: I was going to watch the Cirque du Soleil!!! And what a performance it was....you could throw in all the superlatives and still not do the show justice, so I'm not going to try. I just hope I'm able to watch another show someday, perhaps treat my family to it. Inshallah!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

My Firsts...

This is something I'll keep updating, as & when I remember them and as & when they happen: a record of the 'firsts' in my life, or at least most of them. Just a thought that struck me this evening. So here goes - my first time:
  • caught in a sandstorm - Jumeirah Beach Park, Dubai: October 1997
  • parasailing - Coral Island, Thailand: Summer 2001
  • receiving a birthday surprise - Mumbai: 2002
  • at a disco - Mumbai: July 2002
  • at an open-air dance party - Ramoji Film City, Hyderabad: January 2003
  • trekking (sort of!) - Khandala: October 2004
  • receiving a paycheck - Mumbai: May 2005
  • (and hopefully last time) wading through waist-high floods - Mumbai: 26th July 2005
  • at a gym - Mumbai: November 2005
  • baking (all by myself) - Abu Dhabi: June 2006 onwards
  • taking swimming lessons - Abu Dhabi: August 2006
  • in near-freezing temperatures (although artificial) - Ski Dubai: 31st Dec 2006
  • watching live juggling and flamenco acts - Mall of the Emirates: 12th Jan 2007
  • watching the Cirque du Soleil (Quidam) - Ibn Batutta Mall: 19th Jan 2007
  • in Europe!!!!! - June 2007
  • playing with real snow - Switzerland, June 2007
  • eating caviar - Abu Dhabi, August 2008

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


You know how sometimes you're emotionally blackmailed into doing something you don't really want to, but you give in just to see the other person happy? That's how I ended up going to watch Apocalypto on one of the last days of 2006. Watching the trailer earlier, I was interested in the story, and being directed by Mel Gibson, I knew it would be worth it. But the sight of the pierced-and-painted cast disturbed me - I wasn't sure I could sit through the whole movie. Still, accomodating and generous soul that I am :), I went along.

And I'm so glad that I did. Not only was it one of the best movies I've ever seen (the underwater birth and the scene where the blood spurts after the hero strikes the sadistic guy had me gasping in shock!), but it had a message that has become my personal mantra. It was when the hero's father tells him not to be afraid - that fear taints the heart and leads to downfall. For me, 2006 was a year that brought the biggest changes in my life and the pessimist in me taking over. I'm not a natural optimist; I've always had to consciously boost my positive side, but this time, I wasn't able to do that. I was wallowing; despite knowing it, I couldn't seem to fight off the gloom.

That movie got through though. That one sentence, one thought about not giving in to fear struck a chord. I'm quite conservative, wimpy even, most of the time - there's always been some sort of fear in my mind: fear of what others think of me, fear of failure, of embarrassment, of rejection, of the future. And I realise now that all these fears have, many times, kept me from doing things, experiencing things, I might have enjoyed.

So I tell myself now, everyday, to live each day and open up to whatever chances and opportunities come my way. I am not afraid.