Friday, December 31, 2010

Gregorian Holiday

And a very merry new year to one and all.

Oh, I forgot.

The only audience I have are my little coterie of faeries and goblins, who don't celebrate new years day according to the Gregorian calendar!

So here's to a very merry new year to me!

May it be less like last year and more like 1984. (No reference to George Orwell's seminal work. 1984 is the year I was born. I bet I was loved and pampered and called beautiful and a blessing a million times a day. And everyone catered to every whim of mine. And everyone tried to make me smile when I cried! It's like a fantasy! I bet this would be what paradise is like!)

2010 was a wretched year.

I killed a man, robbed a few banks and went to jail, called off a wedding and broke a heart.

a. The above mentioned events have nothing to do with each other.

b. Only two of the above are true.

c. I'm proud to say that I believe I'm capable of all 4.

Having said that, I would like to say that I wish to be less of me and more of Mother Mary, Jesus Christ, Buddha, Archangel Gabriel, Archangel Raphael, Nigella Lawson, Adrianna Lima,  Audrey Hepburn, W.B. Yeats and Henri Cartier Bresson this year.

Cheers!

A haiku. Of sorts.

It is
As if
The sky has taken
Offense
To the firecrackers intruding
It's space
And is threatening to
Defeat it hands down
In a battle of brilliance
With its show of
Lightning

Food's on me

So technically, I've been on a diet for the past seven days. From freakin' 24th December onwards! Don't be impressed by my iron clad will power because I started a diet on Christmas Eve, the most gluttony inducing festival of the year. There is none! Christmas for us is no different from any other day. This is because we cherish life so much so, that every day is Christmas, New Years and Valentine's day all rolled into one for us. Life's just pink and awesome.

Ok. I'm kidding.

If you want to know the truth and promise not to label, Ill tell you why Christmas is no different from the 10th of March or the 4th of July. It's just that we are all too lazy to celebrate Christmas. At the outset, before you excommunicate me from Christianity, proselytize me into atheism, label my behaviour as utterly despicable and unforgivable or blame my upbringing and my forefathers' impudence, let me tell you that for the first 8 years of my life, there was Santa and for the next 10, there was Christmas with all it's trimmings. So to be fair, my forefathers did do everything right. It's just that post that, I've been conditioned to just let the holiday pass by me. And here's why.

Celebrating Christmas implies that I
  • Find the Christmas tree from the innards of the attic in my grandfather's house
  • Find the baubles that go with it
  • Throw away the broken baubles because they are so badly packed (By me, of course!)
  • Get screamed at because I am SO efficient at packing
  • Pay my own hard earned money (Ok. My father's hard earned money) and buy new baubles
  • Put up the tree and decorate it
  • Put up the nativity scene
  • Clean up my room
  • Dispose of all reptiles, amphibians and insects that reside in the alleyways of my cupboards and bookshelves. To make things worse (yes, it could get worse as you'll see in a moment!), I live on the 10th floor of an apartment building. I'm guessing it would be harder to chase them out from my apartment and all the way 10 floors down and then out of the block, than if I lived in a house. More importantly, where would they all go and how would they adjust to the harsh cruelties of the world, after having lived in the company of my Cashmeres and Silks, studying Shakespeare and Rumi all day. The spirit of Christmas present and future wouldn't allow me to partake in the aforesaid massacre. That's actually the reason I don't clean my room also. You do understand, right? (But God forbid, I try explaining the situation to my parents! Jeez!!!!)
  • Help Mommy cook the Christmas meals (I love my mother and everything but we get along like fire and water. And in the kitchen, this metaphorical example becomes literal as her biggest complaint is that I'm like a fire which she constantly needs to put off! Talk about a spirit that is antithetical to the Christmas spirit! Humph. So anyways, cooking with Mommy is ruled out for sure, which means, she would be less than pleased to cook alone. Which means, the kitchen fire will not burn on Christmas Day.)
And if these arguments are not convincing enough, there are these events that need to occur post Christmas.
  • Take off the tree
  • Pack up the tree
  • Pack up the baubles, new and old (Since packing is not my forte, this leads again, to several altercations which sometimes end up in screams and tears. I would like to specify here that only Mommy screams. I never scream. I am the most calm, composed and perfectly behaved person I know. And you better know it too!)
  • And to top it all off, end up sad that Christmas is over! Along with yet another year. And face the grueling fact that we're all getting older and none the wiser. (That's not my fear. I can't be any wiser. My brain might explode if I do. I'm just talking on behalf of Mommy again.)

So to make a long story short, it's pretty much just like any other day for us. 

Anyways, getting back to the point, I have been dieting for the past week, and yesterday, I decided to start Alla Svirinskaya's formidable 4 week detox (detailed in her beautiful and awe-inspiring book called Energy Secrets). Roughly, it means avoiding
  • meat (but obvious)
  • dairy
  • eggs
  • flour
  • sugar
and also drinking stuff like clay water, ginger - lemon juice etc, along with a whole load of meditations.

I have done it once before, and pretty exactingly, if I may add, so I thought that this time would be breezier. I am painfully aware that for someone who eats half a cake for a meal, followed by some veggies for dessert, giving up sugar and flour is not an easy task. Therefore, I imposed the diet on myself with a lot of determination the last time round, but I guess my assumption that it would be easier the second time caused me to commit a lot many more infractions already. And yes, dinner today was a piece of Citrus Glaze Cake.

So the story is that yesterday, I had gone out in the evening to buy gym clothes (Yes, I'm a very dedicated gymmer) when I saw that a new restaurant called Aladdin had opened up in my neighbourhood. My heart leapt! Could this be a Muslim restaurant?!!!!
(Don't judge me. 
I live by stereotypes. 
I'm a stereotype. 
And stereotypes are there for  a reason. 
To simplify.
I. Like. Simple. 
Period.) 

Now the reason I love Muslim restaurants is that I think they know their food more than anyone else, and this is especially true in Kerala. Undoubtedly, the best food in Kerala is cooked by them and everyone knows this fact. The tastiest and most popular restaurants are owned by them, the best wedding caterers are Muslims and so are the best cookery show hosts. And more importantly, they cook unabashedly with as much butter, ghee, fat and oil as their heart pleases.

And my heart sure gets pleased. (Like Shakespeare said, the heart has it's reasons of which reason knows nothing. Or something like that. But you get the drift.)

So I walked in with Mommy (who loves food as much as I do and eats even more) and my weary, woebegone eyes see a sight that quenched its thirst, much like a sip of water after days of the Sahara sun.

A scarf covered head.
In front of a table of food.
And more such women.
And men.
And kids.
And more scarves.
And tables full of food. 

And my heart leapt yet again, and this time, jumped straight out of my mouth and settled on an empty chair. (Ok. I'm kidding.)

But my heart did leap. 
And so did my diet. 
But the diet did jump out. 
It jumped out of window this time.

The funeral is tonight.
Same place, same time as the death of the diet. 
And the food's on me.

Best foot forward

I'd mentioned a couple of days ago that I had started working out again at the gym. It has a steam room and everything. (In Trivandrum, that's leaps and bounds ahead of the closest competitor, which I'm pretty sure is a modified garage.)

So I did 2 days of cardio and 1 day of weights and of course, as luck would have it, (I'm totally not being sarcastic here.) my knee gave up on me yet again and now I can't even walk properly, much less gym! Without exaggeration, walking entails me putting my right leg forward and dragging my left leg into position. What's funnier is that I can't keep my leg stick straight and neither can I fold it completely. So when I walk, my left knee has to remain considerably bent, which means that I'm not only limping and dragging my feet but also tilted to one side!

Now, I'm no stranger to people pointing and laughing at me. I'm princess of flops and falls, to put it lightly. But yesterday the point and laugh activity was at a whole new level. And I'm pleased to inform that everyone I met participated merrily.

Some people spread joy with their good will and largeheartedness. They are the ones who in their next life will be born as Nigella Lawson's grandchildren. I guess I'm the kind who spreads joy by allowing myself to be the butt of the joke. So logically, this implies more Karma points for me, right? All I ask for, is Nigella on one side and Jamie Oliver on the other as ancestors.

It's a pretty fair deal if you ask me.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Diaz, here I come!

I've been going to the gym for the past couple of days and I'm in agony now, to say the least. To say that it hurts where I didn't know there where muscles or sinew would be an understatement. My forearms hurt! (I never knew that forearms could hurt after working out!)

I blame myself solely for this. It's a compulsive urge that I have that I need to do this every 6 months. And then stop. And then start again. And wake up to a fresh wave of pain! And persist and struggle and persist some more. And then stop!

This must be the 6th cycle; The 3rd this year, post my stint with dance (Baratnatyam to be precise) and then my month long yoga class in the hills. And now this. I cant believe it would still hurt so much!

All I have to say is that I better look like Cameron Diaz when I'm done. I better.

The best thing in the world

What's the best thing in the world?
June-rose, by May-dew impearled;
Sweet south-wind, that means no rain;
Truth, not cruel to a friend;
Pleasure, not in haste to end;
Beauty, not self-decked and curled
Till its pride is over-plain;
Love, when, so, you're loved again.
What's the best thing in the world?

Something out of it, I think.

- Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Clouds with silver linings

You must be doing something wrong if when you retire at the end of the day, you think that your quilt is the best thing in your life right now.

But you must be doing something right if you own such an awesome quilt in the first place.

Squint sitting pretty on MY quilt with MY book.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

These are a few of my favourite things

I have this new thing for cherry blossoms. They are so stunningly beautiful. Considering that my only interaction with cherry blossoms is through my Bath and Body Works Body Mist and through the countless pictures I keep looking at, I'm not sure how legitimate my adoration is or how long lived it will be. But in the meantime, I'm going to revel in them and indulge my love for them by looking at pictures of cherry blossoms and clothing myself with the Body Mist from top to toe!

And while I'm at it, I also what to share what Cannelle et Vanille has done with Cherry Blossoms! She got inspired by them and made macarons based on the theme.

Cannelle et Vannille's spread on macarons for Martha Stewart's Weddings
Cannelle et Vanille's Aran Goyoaga is a pastry chef and a self taught food stylist and photographer (incidentally, she uses a Canon 5D) whose beautiful blog is such a joy for the beholder. She writes simply and poignantly and her food styling is clean and crisp with a touch here and a tilt there.

I could spend hours on her site, just looking, gasping and learning. I wish there were more people like her in this world and I knew all of them!

Now, moving on to macarons. Not macaroons, but macarons (pronounced as in macaroni). Now macarons are these quaint little Parisian treats that the blog world and the real world has been going ga-ga over. If I had a penny for every time I have read about it on a blog, I could have started my own macaron shop by now. (Or moved to Japan and owned a cherry blossom plantation, for that matter! I could live in a little white cardboard house amidst the tree fairies and elves and I could party with the mad hatter and Alice! Sigh!). And here I am joining the bandwagon of bloggers!


Source: melangerbaking.com, colinwoon.blogspot.com, anh-minh.com, paulettemacaroons.com, ablefortwo.com.au,zencancook.com,notsohumblepie.blogspot.com

Anyhoo, macarons are these sweet treats made of egg whites, almond powder and granulated and powdered sugar (much like macaroons, except that macaroons are made of coconut powder, rather than almonds). The confectionery is characterized by a domed top, ruffled circumference known as the foot (you need to know this!), flat base and an eggshell like crust that (ideally) yields to a most, airy interior. And it is presented as a sandwich of buttercream or jam (or any filling for that matter,including ketchup) between the flat sides of the macarons.

While  Larousse Gastronomique (again, deserving of a whole blog) cites the macaron as being created in 791 in a convent near Cormery, some have traced its French debut back to the arrival of Catherine de' Medici's Italian pastry chefs whom she brought with her in 1533 upon marrying Henry II. However, the macaron as it is known today, called the "Gerbet" or the "Paris macaron", is the creation of Pierre Desfontaines of the French pâtisserie Ladurée, and is composed of two almond meringue discs filled with a layer of buttercream, jam, or ganache filling. Popularly, Ladurée is recognized as the inventors of the macaron as we know it today. Awesome story, ain't it?

Now, if you're wondering what my point here is, I would like to say that this is about my latest dream: To move to Japan, buy a cherry blossom farm, build a Japanese style house, bake macaroons and sit in the shade of my beloved trees and read Cannelle et Vanille all day.

Sounds about right!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Funny sorta people

Today, one of my best friends called me and asked me whether I was tired of not working and later whether I was tired of not being financially independent anymore. (FYI, I quit my job a year back and I've been traveling and chilling at home and then traveling again for the last 1 year.)

It made me realize how most (most, most) people need stability and constancy. And how they need a job. And it sacred me a little that I have been perfectly content with my situation for a year now. No, I don't miss working or earning. I missed learning and that's one reason I quit my job. Now I read all day - blogs, books, magazine, headlines scrolling across on television, toothpaste lables, billboards... pretty much whatever I can get my hands on. And I am so happy with that. And no, I don't feel like I'm wasting my life.

And in that spirit, I am quoting W.H.Davies.

Leisure

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?—

No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

This is my thought for the day.

And yes, I would feel like I was wasting my life if I didn't have time to stop and stare. And that is another of the reasons I quit my job a year back. (There are plenty of reasons, but more on that later.)

Honestly, I really feel that misery loves company and those who work and are miserable doing it, would rather live in denial of the fact that they do have a choice to not participate in something you dislike. And to perpetrate their fallacy, they want to drag everyone else in! (It is equally possible that I am trying to validate my choice and proclaiming that everyone else got sour grapes.)

But how else can you explain parents forcing their kids to get married! I mean, look at them. Most of them are so obviously mismatched and miserable. And then they force you into the same institution that created the trouble in the first place.

A funny sorta people we are!

2 of 1

Today I realized the a majority of the couples I've seen of late resemble each other. Not, that the man is effeminate or the girl, masculine; it's something about the structure of their face. Or some such thing.

I have heard it being said that often when you spend considerable time with someone, your mannerisms, expressions, gait and behaviour start to impinge on each other's territory and end up as resembling each other, but this is not what I'm talking about. The couple I'm talking about, whose wedding I went for today, hardly know each other. And I could see, from 100 feet away, an uncanny resemblance between them. Their faces were of the same shape and their smiles were carbon copies.

They say that soul mates resemble each other. Could it be that in an impulsive moment, God changed his own rules and thundered, "I'm sick of the burgeoning divorce rates and all the bad publicity I'm receiving because of it! Henceforth, 90% of couples who fall in love will be soul mates of each other!"? Or could it be that we are de-evolving and are all start to look like each other! OK. Maybe not! Or maybe I'm just good at identifying resemblances between faces! How 'bout that, huh?

My giftedness aside, I just wonder what it means that Thom and I look as different as day and night! What does that mean, big man up there? Huh?!!!!!!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

His-story and Her-esy

To be honest, this is just yet another saga on love. You'd think the world would have had enough of them but in all fairness, a planet that hosts so many would have as many love stories, especially on accounting for each one's version (which more often than not, differs as night and day!). And then there is a pure third person perspective, such as this one. And as much as I claim to be a person who denounces love stories and states that they are all the same, there is something beguiling about the webs that are spun in the wake of love and this intriguing phenomenon that I observed is what led me to chronicle the following. 

Sasha Susan Jacob  is the third daughter of a family of three beautiful girls and she lives at my father's, where she is currently a house guest. She is big and blonde with luscious brown eyes and the swagger of a prized catwalk model.  Now Sasha is truly a prolific member of the community. She touches the life of everyone she meets and makes a difference in her own way. While she strives to spread values that she embodies, such as goodness and cheer, all year round, side effects of contact with her do include blubbering (maybe just in me), blabbering and slobbering (again, I've been told that it's just me!).

Judy and Max are old tenants of the house and while they stopped paying rent a while back, they make up by playing security guards immaculately and subsisting only on leftovers (as opposed to Sash, who needs 3 gourmet meals a day!!!)

Now the truth of the matter is that there is no story here if I go by its classical definition, that a story is to have a beginning, a middle and an end. But there are events, conversations, characters and twists and these are what I want to recount.

Judy wandered into my home a long while back, looking for shelter and a meal in return for her services as a nightwatchwoman. Now before you bunch your brows in displeasure or raise them in disbelief, let me reassure you that Judy is a lean, mean slaughter machine. She is slim and dark with ripping muscles and a scowl that can send anyone running. And boy, can she take care of her territory! We soon found out that she was tempestuous at best and cantankerous on an average. Only our house-help, Pappu is rumored to have seen her at her worst and he seems so scarred by the incident that he refuses to look her in the eye out of fear. 

At that time, Bruno was the Rhett Butler of the village, so to speak, and on acquainting with Judy, fell madly in love and decided that at his ripe old age, she, young and nubile, was his best shot at a settled life. And thus he too started living in my humble house in the company of his dusky damsel.

Soon, Max was born into the happy household and joy abounded as two became three. Max grew into a handsome young lad, perpetually ebullient and teeming with inquisitiveness - just the child that any parent would want. He was everyone's pet and everyone loved him to bits. Until a fated November day that is. A cold day, an unfeeling day was that Tuesday. Nondescript in any way but that. But to those who noticed, there was a certain quietude in the air, a lull that to the prescient, forebode ominousness. And that was the day their conformist and linear lifestyle deviated and took another path. And it was simply Max's Oedipal plots that did the unraveling. Nothing more, nothing less.

Now Bruno had his share of wild oats that he had sown in his heydays. But he loved his wife and son and the thought of his son being a competition for his wife's attention was implausible for him. And it became his undoing. It seemed as if he knew that he was no match against his dashing, spirited offspring for the affection of his still young beau. He retreated into a world of his making, where he was young and virile, just like his son now was, and his lady was by his side. And in his quest to keep his ego intact by extracting himself from the equation, it was an unsuspecting Judy that he pushed out of his life. And it was Judy who found him lying lifeless by the river. She had always blamed his flagging spirits on his aging bones and his death confirmed it!

Now Max couldn't have hoped for a better twist in the tale as his father's death. In a guise to soothe his disconsolate mother, he fed her some great meat and poured her some fine wine and proceeded to impregnate her. And this is how Pluto, alias Kuttappan came into being.

Now Kuttappan was always a wild child! Stark, raving mad was he! And he caused every kind of trouble in the book and became the bane of his parents' existence, while passersby watched and remarked, "Serves Max right, for having treated his father so!" And they were right in a way. What goes around does come around. At least, in this case, it did.

Everyone watched as he lived a life of ruin and one day, the inevitable was uttered. "Kuttappan needs to go away. To reform school!" The words resounded painfully but there was nothing to be done. And that was the last the house saw of Kuttappan.

It was around this time that Sasha came trotting, in her pretty little clothes with her pretty big hair. And she was the much needed distraction of frolic and frivolousness. Of course there was the initial animosity induced by a need to claim territory, but soon, all could see that while Sasha was a pretty as a picture, she was also as dumb as the next blonde, and conclusively, not a threat to any. And then they started to clamour for her attention. Max, seemingly having given up on love post the disaster of a son, that his previous tryst with romance had brought upon, wanted to be Sasha's BFF and only that. He followed her around and gave her his things but not once was there an indecent proposal. And Judy, as comical as the thought is, wanted to be Sasha and this spun itself into a classic tale of the ugly duckling trying to be the swan. Because as skilled as Judy is, her looks are not her forte. The comic relief provided by this, helped ease the trauma brought on by Kuttappan's departure.

This was not to be for long, because May brought along unrest in the form of Rocky, an army brat with a bark that was bigger than his bite. And it was love at first sight for our Judy. Having had sworn of men since her romp in the hay with her progeny and the heartache it had brought her, Judy felt a stir in her heart as she beheld the golden gorgeousness that was Rocky. She left no stone unturned to make her intentions clear. She paid homage to her neighbor by visiting him daily, often with gifts of her love: a handmade corsage, a cookie halved or a prettier pebble. And he predictably paid no heed. Judy was not a looker and Rocky had his sights set only on blue blood. In this little village by the river, Sasha was the closest to that, and it was Sasha that he coveted.

Poor little Sasha who is more timid than a mouse, is scared out of her wits of Rocky and tries sincerely to stay out of his way. It was while we were waiting for this saga to unfold that we realized that Sasha is actually truly, madly, deeply heels over head in love with Max. Max, in his bid to win Sasha's friendship, possibly displayed his best side to her and this is what ensued. Sasha is now desperately trying to woo Max, often in the presence of Judy, who appears as cool as a cucumber (Judy probably thinks that this little affair would get Sasha out of Rocky's way). And Max seems almost frightened of what would ensue if he gave in to Sasha's moves as he shies away timidly from her. But I'm convinced that he secretly enjoys the attention of this stunning flaxen haired lass because of the way he ensures the maintenance of comfort in the distance. It is also not unlikely that smart alec Max is trying to kill two birds with a stone and trying to make Judy jealous, though this clearly does not seem to be working. But I bet that's what the sly creature is thinking.

But then again, who knows what dogs think!

Updates will follow in real time.

Starring



Sasha!!!!









Max!!!!













And Judy!!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Forever and a day

Feels like it's been forever and a day since I last posted. It's a combination of inaccessibility to the net and an unsettled mind that has caused the hiatus. I have traveled quite a bit in the past month and a half and in that sense, there is so much to write about. But I never intended to chronicle my life here so maybe I can resume writing without an account, an explanation or even a passing mention of the time passed unless I feel the urge to essay it out. Right now, maybe I'm overwhelmed. And to write about it would be to break it down, to rationalize it and to add colour where it is grey and vice versa; It would involve stepping out of the nebulousness of the afterglow that I want to continue basking in. And that's all there is to it.

But as for now, look at these mindbogglingly fantabulous Louis Vuitton shoes! 


They are from the Winter 2010 collection and are made of ostrich leather (regrettably, I might add, because as much as I love these, the images of the skinned ostrich, dead or otherwise are weighing heavily on my conscience).



These are made of calf leather and I love them almost as much. They are so sophisticated and pretty and I can totally picture Audrey Hepburn wearing them. And I heart anything that I hypothetize that Hepburn would wear.



And these , made of baby goat leather, are from the summer 2011 collection. Hawt, Hawt, Hawt!!!!






And these Jimmy Choos are lace, snake print patent shoes with a glimmer of fishnet stocking and are pretty enough to launch a thousand ships! Sigh!

Now it's dawning on me that as much as I love all these shoes, I can't stop thinking about the poor baby animals. I guess ignorance is truly bliss. Or at least, denial is. I was totally convinced by these shoes until I read the innocuous captions indicating their source. Ostrich, calf and lamb.

If you ask me now if I'd rather own a pair of any of the above or ensure the life of a baby goat, I would hands down choose the latter. I would choose to let the creature live. So would most of us, I presume. But to be proactive and vociferous about cruelty against animals and an utter denouncement of products that involve their ill-treatment or slaughter is another ball game, and one that requires sincerity and discipline, which I'm not sure I have. (It also involves not swearing at animals when they attack or pseudo attack you! Last week, when I was gaping at the architectural marvel of a 15th century temple in Hampi, a calf totally butted me playfully. As harmless as the intention was and as unharmed as I was, the event unnerved me for quite a while and there is not a cuss word that I haven't used on the poor beast!)

Now for those of you who want to see a movie that might flip around your life, (or at least your day), watch 'Earthlings'. It is a documentary narrated by Joaquin Phoenix about us earthlings and the various ways we show differential and preferential treatment.

Anyways, this post has truly been confused. I feel like I'm unable to focus after a month of wandering. But watch the movie and don't buy leather shoes however good they look is probably what I'm trying to say. Adios.