Friday, February 20, 2009

Unforgettable: From the Oscars Red Carpet

The biggest film awards show on the planet is a few days away, and I'm more excited about who wears what, rather than who wins what. Its great fun to check out the showstoppers, the showfloppers and the in-betweens ...... even my always-been-a-tomboy-don't-care-about-fashion lil sister enjoys commenting on the stars' attire!
But then barely a couple of days later, we've forgotten all about those dresses and moved on to the next big event. However, in the past two years at the Oscars, there have been two gowns that I have not forgotten. Or more accurately, not forgotten because of who was wearing them.

I haven't seen any of Helen Mirren's movies (except for Raising Helen and National Treasure 2, which don't count since she had minor roles in both), and am not really sure if I want to see The Queen, for which she won Best Actress at the 2007 Oscars. In fact, I hadn't even heard of her before she was nominated. But one look at her on the red carpet that evening and she made a lasting impression.

Here's Helen Mirren again at the 2008 Oscars.

I was completely speechless when I saw her ..... isn't she just stunning for someone in her 60s??? Sexy and classy, I felt she was the best-dressed lady at both events, totally outshining the younger lot.

I'm largely clueless about the fashion world, unlike my friend Deeplydip, so I have no idea who the designers are, or who supplied the accessories. I just know that despite seeing so many red carpet shows since that time, and forgetting still many more outfits, I still vividly recall Helen Mirren dazzling the eye in these two gowns.

And as so many female commentators noted at the time, I too hope I look that good when I grow up! Or even half as good!!!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Revealed: 25 Things About Me!

For a communications class in college, we were asked to first talk about someone we loved for 5 minutes. Everybody managed it easily, going and on and on about whoever they chose. Then, we were asked to talk about ourselves for 5 minutes, and all of us were stumped after 1 minute. There were a lot of ummms and aaahs and other noises as we struggled to come up with things to talk about.

Point of the exercise: to realise that its very difficult for most people to just talk about themselves.

This incident came back to me as I was doing this "25 Things About You" tag passed on by Goofy Mumma a while ago (thanks again, GM :D). I love tags, and normally I come back with answers straight away, but that's the thing ...... you have to have questions first. This business of randomly talking about yourself is really hard! I've been thinking over this for 5 days now, eagerly jotting down things as they struck me, and finally, its done!

So, the rules:

Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

And now, about me:

1. I'm a chocoholic.
2. I have a valid driver's license, but don't know to drive ....... yes, this happens only in India!!!
3. I have conversations with myself within my head, because if I talked to myself out loud, people might think I'm crazy :P
4. In school, I spent a week sitting in the corridor outside class with a bunch of friends - we'd been punished for talking too much and this is the one school achievement I'm proudest of!
5. I'm not at all an athletic person, I suck at most sports and games.
6. I started talking before the age of 1 and according to one relative, I haven't shut up since!!!
7. I LOVE junk jewellery.
8. I hate rainy, cloudy, gloomy weather, though I do enjoy a good thunder & lightning storm, but only if I'm indoors.
9. Most people's first impression of me is that I'm serious, studious and reserved ...... hee, hee, hee!!!
10. My favourite form of exercise is walking, but I don't care for treadmills and gyms; if I have the choice, I'd rather walk out in the open.
11. I would love to learn to play the guitar someday.
12. I love applying mehendi. As a child, I was so dedicated to getting the darkest colour possible, I'd keep it on all night and to avoid it falling off or staining the pillows, I slept with my hennaed hand wrapped in plastic!
13. I am immensely intrigued by the great civilizations and mysteries of the past; I love books and films based on these themes, and ......
14. ....... the one book I found absolutely un-put-downable was The DaVinci Code - I bunked college one day so I could read it at a stretch.
15. I am a total wimp when it comes to amusement park rides; even the minor ones leave me with such head-spinning, tummy-churning nausea that there's nothing amusing about it, but .....
16. ..... I have para-sailed!!! The initial lift-off makes you feel like your stomach will fall out, but after that its just awesome!!!
17. I had tears in my eyes when I finished reading the Deathly Hallows the first time!
18. I've always felt that there is an actress suppressed in me. Am I talking heroine material? Hell, no!!! I'd love comic roles; people like Whoopi Goldberg, Paresh Rawal, Rajpal Yadav and Philomena (of Malayalam cinema) are my idols :D :D
19. I cannot endure horror films.
20. At some point in my teens, I realised that I could either have food or have a figure. I chose food!!!
21. I am not the impulsive, risk-taking type; I not only look before I leap, I conduct in-depth analyses!
22. I started watching football in the 12th standard only because of a massive crush on Luis Figo, and then got swept away in the frenzy of the game itself. I still don't know most of the rules, but will religiously watch most major international football events.
23. The only person in the whole, wide world who can send me from the calmest, most cheerful of moods straight into a raging temper in 5 minutes, is my beloved sister :D
24. The one, all-important motto I try to live by is "Love one another as you love yourself".
25. At looonng last, the 25th item!!! And that is ....... I turn 25 this month!

And now, about passing this on. I want to know more about Agnes, Amrita, Moi, My Space, Renu and Smriti.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Weight of Happiness

Written last week, posted today thanks to the ever-unreliable services of BSNL.

I suppose most women tend to be at their slimmest best for their weddings.

Not me.

I'd finished my dissertation - nearly a year's worth of sitting in front of the computer, my mind at work 24x7, constantly needing food-fuelling to maintain my momentum. After that, I landed a job with a 10-hour workday, again pretty much seated at a desk the whole time. Somewhere along the line, I met the man I would marry and due to various practicalities and constraints, our wedding date was fixed a scant three months later.

November was my last month at work, as I'd wanted to spend a month's quality time with my family. However, that month also brings Christmas along, highlighted by my mom's superb cooking and Christmas cakes and goodies. So even though I tried to compensate by going for walks regularly, the ultimate result was still that, at the time of my wedding, I was the plumpest (objectively, I still wouldn't say 'fattest'!) I'd ever been in my life. That's how my in-laws and the rest of hubby's huge extended family saw me for the first time, and by Kerala standards where big is beautiful, I was alright!

A few days later, after all the festivities were completed and it was just hubby & me here in Bangalore, I assumed the responsibilities of a homemaker and life settled into a happy routine.

Cut to May 2008.

My mom and her mom were coming for a week-long visit. At the airport, I rushed forward eagerly once I spotted mom, and the first thing she said as she hugged me was, "Baby, you've lost so much weight!"

"Huh", I said. "Really? Oh, I hadn't noticed."

And as strange as it may seem, I truly hadn't. It was only after my mother, who's seen me all through these years, told me that I'd lost weight, did I realise that I'd finally achieved a goal I'd been pursuing (albeit not very determinedly!) since the age of 16. Only after she told it to me, did I realise that my pants & jeans were slipping down my waist, certain loose-fitting tops and kurtis hung limply on me, and t-shirts that once had me sucking my tummy in, now fit smoothly and without any added effort from me :D

I was thrilled!!! I was beyond thrilled, I was ecstatic!!! I had finally, FINALLY done it, though unintentionally. How??? I kept asking myself. I walked regularly and played table tennis with hubby a few times a week, but surely that couldn't compare to say, the two month aerobics classes, or the three-month intense gym workouts that I'd once done (neither of which resulted in any significant weight loss).

Nor was I dieting - for a foodie like me, whose entire set of 32 teeth are really sweet, 'diet' is a bad, bad word. Some might think I was stressed out, or moping coz I was away from my family for the first time, but no, that wasn't it; I was happily married, blissfully thankful for the life I had and anyway, when I'm stressed, I pig out.

So how then? Observing my lifestyle, mom said it was simply that I was active throughout the day ..... I wasn't sitting at a desk for hours together, I was constantly moving about, cooking or puttering around the house, and that, she said, was making the real difference, of course, supplemented by the walks and table tennis.

And I was thrilled!!! I was beyond thrilled, I was ecstatic!!! Did I write this before??? Hell, yes, but I don't care because that's how ecstatic I am!!!


I was in the minority, the very small minority of people who were thrilled. On subsequent trips to hubby's hometown, everybody's first comment was how much weight I had lost, and all conversation would revolve around that for the next few minutes. Initially, hubby's parents kept berating him, that he wasn't taking enough care of me etc etc, till I sat his mom down, and clearly explained the above saga to her. She was sort of convinced then, but how do you explain it to scores of neighbours, friends and relatives, all firmly conditioned to think that a new bride losing weight like this surely means problems in the marriage?

And if I thought that it was only in Kerala that my weight would be an issue, man, was I in for a rethink! Friends and relatives in the UAE and more recently in Bombay were flabbergasted! Most people found it incredibly difficult to get over. Some of my more outspoken buddies exclaimed outright: "She's not happy!" with a sort of perverse glee (hmmm, I should seriously reconsider these friendships!)

Even after the initial few minutes of explanations, when the conversations were like an hour old, I would get quiet, serious-faced questions: "You're sure you're ok, na?", "There are no problems with your husband, right?" And so on and so forth.

Only four people in Bombay, seemed genuinely delighted by the slimmer me and told me that I looked great. Only one college friend disagreed with the rest, and said of course she's happy, look at her smile, she's glowing from within!

Obviously, I did expect reactions to my weight loss, but somehow I’d naively assumed that my friends would be happy for me. I certainly didn’t expect everyone’s parting comments as they hugged me goodbye to be along the lines of “Next time we see you, you should’ve put on some weight”. What the hell??!!

Even though I’ve lost weight, I still cannot be considered thin, nor do I ever want to ..... I rather like my curves :) And its not that I’m looking hollowed out or miserable; hubby & my family are my most brutally honest critics and they’re totally ok with my appearance. Most importantly, I am totally ok with it!!!

Honestly, I don’t expect this phase to last very long, I know that eventually I will gain more weight and I’m totally ok with that too. But still, it feels fantastic that at least for once in my life, I produced some head-turning, eye-popping, jaw-dropping reactions!!!

And I am thrilled!!! I am beyond thrilled, I am ecstatic!!!

In case you were wondering what the fuss is all about, I lost 9 kilos last year!