Friday, September 12, 2014

Movie Review - Finding Fanny

My Rating:

I was very eager to watch Finding Fanny from the day I saw its trailer. It seemed like a refreshing tale and I thought this movie would be hatke.

Well, indeed it was hatke. The movie starts in a small, sleepy town in Goa called Pocolim. The people who live there lead a slow but eventful life. The main inhabitants of this town include the gorgeous Angie (Deepika Padukone), who was widowed within 5 minutes of her wedding. She lives with Rosie (Dimple Kapadia), her mum-in-law, whose 'dead' husband story seems rather mysterious. Her best friend is an old, ex-postmaster, Ferdie (Naseeruddin Shah), who does little apart from singing in the Church's choir. And then there is an outsider, 'talented' artist Don Pedro (Pankaj Kapur), who comes in search of his muse and finds it in Rosie's round figure.

These 4 along-with Savio (Arjun Kapoor) who was Angie and her husband's best friend go on a road trip to find Fanny, Ferdie's love of 46 years. What happens along their journey and at their destination is for you to see and relish.

This movie, for me, was like reading a short story from a great author. It had simple settings, subtle humour, heartwarming characters, easy narration and something to look forward to always. There is nothing that will wow you and nothing that will make you yawn. My husband didn't once look at his phone's screen which itself says a lot about the movie!!

Thankfully the director, Homi Adajania of Cocktail and Being Cyrus fame, doesn't try too hard to add over-the-top humour. The characters play their age and act like normal people do. It is one of the few movies in which none of the actors disappoint with Naseeruddin Shah stealing the show. Well, ofcourse.

The movie is like an easy-going evening on a beach in Goa. Now who wouldn't like that?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Drama in Bargaining

Bargaining is in our genes. We might live in a bungalow worth a crore, but till we don’t bring down the rate of onion from Rs. 100 to Rs.90 a kg, it doesn’t get pureed well in the blender. Not only that, the free dhaniya/mircha is like a constitutional right for which even we can go on a dharna.

When I was growing up, there were no brands as such. We shopped from local shops in Lucknow which were owned by my Sindhi uncles. So we always got a discount of at least 20%. Plus, tea/coffee/Pepsi, gossip and a dinner invite. But when the likes of Shoppers Stop came up, we had to wait for Sale to lure us into the store since arbitrary discount or bargaining was not an option. And damn organised retail, they didn’t even give us free polythene bags leave alone a glass of water.

Delhi, on the other hand, had pirates from the Arabian. Sarojini/Janpath was selling ‘branded’ stuff for less. Shopping was a thrill in these areas because it always felt like a victory after getting an item for less than 50% of its original price. If the Bhaiya said 500, I said 200 and easily got an item for Rs. 250.

This haggling is actually an art. You would see a female falling in love with an item but then pretending that it’s just OK. Her companion, if a man, would stand directly behind her chanting from 100 to 1 in order to spare himself a headache from the cacophony. When will men understand that women do this to save money for old age dentures? Anyway, if Bhaiya would agree to give a 1000 rupee item for Rs. 500, the transaction would be complete. If Bhaiya is rigid, the female would walk away with an air of indifference while praying in her heart for Bhaiya to call her back!

Seriously, when we do that fake walk-away, we feel so awful. It’s like parting from the love of our life not knowing if our paths would cross again. It is a different matter that we might not like the item ‘that much’ when we bring it home. But that moment, that moment feels really sad.

Then comes the theory of buying in bulk. If one item is for Rs. 300, a conscientious negotiator will demand 3 for the same price. It’s such a funny trait but it always works. Both the parties have a hearty laugh in their insides while their face remains totally grim. The transaction usually ends with 2 for the same price and all parties are happy.

In such situations, any lady can give the likes of Smriti Irani/Deepika Padukone a serious run for their money. I am sure if you sit with a road-side vendor, he will be able to narrate hundreds of humorous bargain stories with killer acting by the women in question. I am also sure that he will be able to tell you how he sold an item that was worth a 100 for 500 by quoting a 1000 and still seen immense satisfaction on a customer’s face.

That is why we never feel content even after getting a 50% discount. That feeling of ‘we could have gotten it for less’ always remains. But all’s well that ends well. Our momentary triumphant smile and Bhaiya’s happiness of fooling yet another lady, is a win-win situation for all.

Really, shopping in malls is so boring when there is so much drama in street shopping!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Do you read your old blog posts?

It’s 7:30 p.m. on a Sunday night – a weekday in our Arabic country. We just had this awesome chicken curry that I made. The Boy is watching the T20 match between India and England. I’m sitting on the dining table with my laptop open in front of me. The green tea is piping hot. Since there is nothing better to read on the Internet(!!), I went to my old blog posts and have been smiling ever since.

I see the posts written in July 2007. I wrote 10 posts in a single month. It was beginner’s euphoria I guess. That time I use to drive my bright red Zen and go to this shop in Aliganj, Lucknow and rent out books and review them. I had difficulty in driving a car but that didn’t deter me from going from one place to another. I wish I had started blogging in 2006; then I would have written about the accident as well. And I'm wondering why I didn't write about my first prize - an iPod - which I won because of this post! Maybe I was not as flamboyant as I am now! Btw, I sold that iPod for Rs. 10,000 to my dad, ha!!

In October 2007, I met the Boy’s parents. The post is out there. I was very secretive back then and so there are no details in the post. In February 2008, I had a haircut and wrote a post on that. Someone commented he/she loved my blog and I actually felt awesome!

There are details of my friend’s wedding, and then another friend's wedding. There are a few posts about my wedding. There are silly posts about random days. There are random posts on random things. There is love, there is humour, there is pain, there are inspiring stories, there are poems… in this one website I’ve lived the last 7 years of my life. 

It’s a personal blog and will always remain one. I don’t care how some would see it as immature or boring; I love to document my life here and would continue to do so. You know why? – because on a dull day like this when I go to my old posts it makes me feel so good. Sure, I have memories to hold on to. But the specific details, the thought process that I had, what went on in my mind, the kind of person I was – it’s all here in this space.

Do you like to read your old posts as well? Do you read the stories that you wrote, or do you like the contest entries that you posted, or, like me, do you love the personal posts that say about your situation back then?  

If you want my advice I’ll tell you to write about today. Tomorrow when you’ll read about it, you’ll smile as much as I’m smiling today!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

'This Blog Post will Change Your Life'

“25 photographs that will put your picture taking skills to shame”

“This girl went to the ice-cream wallah. What happened next will change the way how you look at ice-cream.”

“This video will make you kill yourself.”

These are a few examples of what we've been seeing on the web these days. We are living in an age of superlatives. The good old good, pretty and well-written are replaced by jaw-dropping, drop-dead-gorgeous and the best-piece-I’ve-ever-read, respectively. I mean, if I write that I liked your article, I’m made to believe that I don’t really like it enough, or probably don’t like it at all.

Since when did everyone, EVERYONE in this world become like an 18-year-old teenager who needs to be reassured a million times? I think it all started with commenting on pictures. Our social needs require us to not only like a picture but write a comment on it as well. Actually it depends on our relationship with the person. It goes like this - acquaintance = like; friend = you look nice; sister, brother/Best friend = like + you look awesome.

But what do you do when someone above you has already written nice/awesome. You are as good as your thesaurus and so you dig new words. So yes, that probably started the epidemic of superlatives. It also brought along a string of new words – cuteness, superlike, bootylicious…

Since the Internet was replete with videos and pictures, someone out there decided to create attention-seeking headlines because ‘Breaking news’ was not good enough. I think they took lead from India TV and that other channel with Sansani, the one of ‘Aage ki khabar aapko Chauka degi. Baba bana Gunda’ fame.

These titles are actually effective. When I see a girl falling from a roller-coaster, I don’t click on it. But when I see “Accidiant terrifiant blah blah” written on it, I open it even though it forces me to like the video and display my curiosity and velaness to all my 400 friends.

The funniest thing happened with an aunt on Facebook. There was an iffy looking picture in circulation - a man and a woman were getting cosy in it. The caption was – comment mein 8 likhiye aur chamatkaar dekhiye. Now poor aunt, she typed 8. The picture was publicly shared and so the whole world got to know that she was interested in it! Although my day was made, she buried her head in shame for the whole week!

If the word ‘chamatkaar’ wasn’t on the picture, she wouldn’t have written anything.  Hence proved - superlatives lure us; normal is certainly not good enough.  Just like 90% gets us nowhere in boards, 95 and above is what we need to do well.

Even the vacation we go to has to be ‘the best vacation ever’. Even though I know you had written that the last time. I kind of understood the normalcy behind superlatives when I was at a party. A couple who was there with us at the boring bash went home and put a picture of it on Facebook. The tag-line read – the best days of our lives. Now I am all for positivity; but I’m not in favour of white lies!

In all this there is just one solace – that I have friends who would write ‘whistle-whistle’ and ‘you look divine’. Otherwise even a 100 likes and a few nice/good comments would have made me feel like a mere plain Jane.

That would have certainly made a stupefying dent in my super-awesome, fantabulous, stellar life.

P.S.  Surprisingly, a simple comment like ‘I love your blog’ still makes my day :)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Month That Was

Soumya of Life of Leo writes these awesome Action Replay posts each month. This time I decided to get 'inspired' and write a similar post. Although I do like 1% of what the world manages to do in this time, I am in love with my life and have absolutely no qualms about doing too little.
Lazy bum.

Well, not really. I came back from a vacation on 1st August and was absolutely refreshed. I decided to dedicate this month to health and I am extremely happy with the results. They are not fabulous but they are a labor of love which needs to be cherished.

So what did I do? I started to walk 3 kms in a park. This is a big deal for me and takes a little less than an hour. The temperature was 40 degrees with humidity levels ranging from 30-60%!!! Wind did help us at times. At other times, it was the chatter. I need to chat non-stop to cover that area happily. So everyday the Boy took me to this sea-side park which is like a 20-minute drive from our place. Why? - because that is the only place where I wanted to walk! He would then walk with me at my pace encouraging me whenever I needed. It's a mere stroll for him and doing that in this heat for someone else really needs a lot of love in your heart. Did I tell you there is no one better than him in this world?

Also, I talk a lot for distraction. Otherwise 3 kms seem like a 100! From past to present to future, we discuss just about everything. As you know, I am a planner. So I would plan the next 20 years for us and he would just laugh and pull my leg. Plans don't always materialize, or so they say. August has also left us very confused with something which you would know soon. Or, maybe not.

Since this month was dedicated to health, I did pranayam followed by exercise every morning as well. It is so hard to sit on your yoga mat. But when you get up, I think there is no better feeling. I did stuff for more than an hour and felt blessed. Breathing exercises are like meditation. Every cell in your body is energized and you feel happy for the rest of the day. We do need positivity in our lives from various sources - this, trust me, is the easiest way to stay optimistic.

To supplement about 2.5 hours of slow and steady workout, I have started a high-protein-low-carb diet. There is so much nutrition our body needs that eating rice, flour, potatoes or bread is not important at all. So eggs, grilled chicken, fruits, spinach and lots of salad has replaced quite a few things in my kitchen. The result - I have lost 500 gms!!! That is very less - you would say. But in my world, it is success!

I took a weeks break to give rest to my body. Hopefully I am rejuvenated now and will start again. The Boy is not keeping well and so gym will be my companion for the next few days. Needless to say, I miss sweating in the park. More than that, I miss the long drive and the endless chatter about nothing and everything.

So August was awesome for me. I am hoping to be as motivated in September because after that 3 trips will keep us very busy. Don't you just love vacations? - I am just crazy about them 'cause they inspire me to stay fit and keep dreaming.


Friday, August 29, 2014

Giving Life to Imagination

When I was a little girl, I had a doll-house which was very similar to this one:

The Doll house

The house was perfect for little elves but my giant Miss World Barbie called it first. In a few weeks, I understood that the bed in the house was only suitable for her petite head. I then went on a rampage until I got a bed that fit her size. Like I would stand in front of the store (ironically called Cheap House in Lucknow!) and demand a bed for my doll. If my mother would disagree, I would tell her that I was willing to part with my Rakhi money for it. My sweet mother always obliged because apparently lying on the floor and throwing fits was worse! My Rakhi money was kept safe till I grew up, had a boyfriend and spent all my savings in recharging my calling card. Only if my mother knew better! Anyway, that bed looked exactly like this one:

So you see I had an eye for all things pretty for a nest from a very early age! If Steve Jobs had developed iPhone when he was younger, I could have shown you hundreds of selfies with my collection. But since our 36-film roll camera was reserved for special occasions like cutting the cake in the same position each year, horse back ride in Nainital and dressing up like village-women in Mussoorie, I don't have pictures of my toys that were bought by my mother at gunpoint. But these are almost the same.

Along with playing with these dolls, kitchen sets, stuffed animals, etc, I also grew up listening to myriad tales from my mother and granny. Because they hailed from Rajasthan, they had extensive knowledge about the Rajput queens as well as Lord Krishna, the Hare and the Tortoise and the 'new-age' Cinderella. Each night, my mother repeated these stories and I fell asleep feeling the same awe every time Cinderella found her prince charming. Really, mothers are the most patient creatures in the world.

These tales did have a lot of effect on me - I've learnt never to give up from the tortoise, I've learnt to be humble (ahem!) from Cinderella, I've learnt you can be good and naughty at the same time from the Krishna tales, and I've learnt about the strength of a woman from the folk tales of Rajasthan. (Also, the biggest lesson that I took from these ladies was how to glam-up and always look pretty but that's not something my granny was aiming at!)

Soon I outgrew those toys and tales, finished my studies and got married. But those memories, they will go with me to my grave. Isn't that true with each one of us; I mean the girls? I played Monopoly (a.k.a. Business), Battlefield, Chess, Snakes and Ladders, Ludo, several outdoor games... but it is these girly toys that remain my favorite. I could live in that doll house, I could be Jodha Bai, I could marry the Prince... actually in my head, I already did!

When I moved into my own house with my husband, it was like I was playing the Princess and he was the Prince Charming. Sure I did not have my own chariot nor did he have his own castle, but neither of us were complaining. The first thing that you need to make a house a castle is lots of love. And boy, we didn't have any dearth of it.

But then comes a tricky part - giving a personal style to the house. When I came into this place, it was already furnished. The look was quite minimalistic and western. Our culture is so colorful that giving a living space an ethnic look makes a lot of sense to me. I also believe in giving each room it's own identity - one can be chic, one can be eccentric, and one can be ethnic.

The stories from childhood were still playing in my mind like they've always had. The lessons were in my heart, but I still wished for those settings. Since fairies and elves were a 'tad' childish for our taste now, I thought bringing home these glamorous queens and stuff from their courtyard from MakeMyHome would help in bringing my own story together. This cushion cover, mirror and men with musical instruments could assist in bringing things to life that I had only imagined through those tales: 

Cushion Cover from MakeMyHome - Rs. 225
Apno Rajasthan Warli Painting on Large Mirror
From MakeMyHome - Rs. 1584

Karigaari Music Men Set
From MakeMyHome - Rs. 2380

And if someone asks me the story behind decorating my living room with these, the tale will go thus:

There lived a Queen who had found her Prince Charming
She called her land maaro Rajasthan
Everyday she spent hours dressing
To look pretty for her Nawab!

The courtyard would dazzle when she'd walk through it
The artists played tunes in her honour
One smile and the Raja's eyes would lit
And she would just blush from one corner!

Oh yes, bedtime tales from childhood can do that to you. You assume yourself to be a princess, and why not! And with these around me, my home will feel like a mahal. I can also change the sofa covers, bring in some ethnic table cloth, add class with some Rajasthani sculptures and give a whole new look to my simple looking living room.

This makeover was not only inspired by tales from my childhood but also an apartment we rented out recently in Vienna. It's theme was Emperor Sissi of the Habsberg Dynasty from Austria. The whole apartment was tastefully done with the portraits of the empress and things from her era. I was taken back several centuries and felt like a princess myself. And then I thought how our Rajputana princesses were no less. How elegant it would be to decorate the whole living room with a theme in mind. The room below looks like one from the stories I have heard and read. Wouldn't it be great to have a room that looked like this one:

Living room for inspiration

Yes, if I had to re-do my living room, I would go back to my love for picking the prettiest things for my house and then give life to those tales from my wonderful childhood memories.

I was taken back to my childhood when I came across this contest on Blogadda sponsored by MakeMyHome. Bloggers have to pick 3 items from the special link and tell why and how they will re-do their house with those items. I just loved the experience of digging memories and sharing them here. 

Images from here: The Dollhouse, Barbie BedLiving room for inspiration, Decorative items from MakeMyHome

This post is a part of Makemyhome activity at

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

When I saw the 'Star Pariwar Awards' of the West

I think it was 14 years ago that I started watching American television, or rather what defined it for me - FRIENDS. Before that I only saw what my aunt use to watch - The Bold and The Beautiful - from the corner of my eye because it was an 'adult' show!! I still remember Brooke and Taylor and Ridge and their complicated lives!

Ofcourse Small Wonder, Bewitched, I dream of Jeanie, Wonder Years, Doogie Howser M.D. were a part of my childhood. But it was FRIENDS that really got me into it. School, college and friends gave us little time to watch the other prime-time shows. Also, my mum was like a detective keeping an eye on my every move on the remote control. She did not like me watching angrezi channels at all!

So I finished FRIENDS in 2005 when the Boy burnt 20 CDs for me and my friends from his IIT campus. They had free Internet and a huge database of every kind. I don't know if torrent existed back then, and so his gift was like the best thing in the world. I still have all those CDs and I refuse to download a better version.

When I got married, I had a lot of free time because the Boy had a traveling job and I was stuck in hotels. It was then I started watching How I met your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, Two and Half Men, Rules of Engagement, Desperate Housewives, Sex and the city, et al. After that there was no looking back. We watched one television series after the other and (un)fortunately never went back to the Zee TV, Star Plus or Colors of India.

To think of it, there is such a stark difference between them and us. Yesterday, while watching the Emmy awards, I was wondering how elegant their stars looked in those gowns. I felt emotional when Aaron Paul hugged Bryan Cranston because Breaking Bad is indeed the best television series ever. I felt awesome for Modern Family because it makes you laugh and cry at the same time. Jim Parsons and Mathew McConaughey deserve all the adulation they receive because their acting is mind-blowing. But when they have an award ceremony in India, I feel nothing for anyone.

I miss them so much!
What is it that they have that we don't have? I am sure our writers are as brilliant but the market demands only saas-bahu series. Isn't the market changing? I don't know of any friends who watch these sagas. And really, is it actually the depiction of our society?  I mean what if an American comes and watches Ye Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai. Right from the ghoonghat to how men and women are always at home discussing house politics, is downright abysmal. When you watch their television you are blown by their description, their acting, their story building, etc. When you watch our television, you can only tear your hair apart.

Missing them, anyone?
Now I am not someone who likes everything American. I think Bollywood is trying to improve slowly and I support it completely. I even like the fact that some Indian authors are atleast trying to write better stuff. Our culture is unique and it definitely has a lot of potential which can certainly be shown in a better way. These saas-bahu series are definitely not us and we should really stop watching them altogether.

With 24 and Comedy Nights, a little bit has changed. But that's just .01% betterment from the crap that we see on Indian television. I hope one day I can watch Star (not Pariwaar) Awards and think of the day I saw Emmy 2014 and then compare the two in a positive light. I think I am looking at 50 years from now! Or maybe more. But I still have some hope for our country. I also think the Johars and the Chopras of the country should invest in trying new things on television. They have too much money to last generations then why not give our country something to look forward to in the future. I am sure there is talent around here; stop patronizing only Chetan Bhagat and move ahead.