Saturday, April 30, 2016

394: Fashion Sense...equal importance on both words

As published on LinkedIn

A friend of mine is a freelance journalist. She is astute, articulate, and fearless. She has been to the interiors of Maharashtra and Gujurat by herself to cover stories. In crowded places, she has taken a stance that is unpopular with the mob. In short, she has a spine and is not afraid to use it. Incidentally, she also dresses up fancy and covers fashion weeks.

And when she dresses nicely, in sharp, tailored clothes, she's seen as fluff. "Fashion journalist?", she gets asked. "Journalist", she replies.

I am not a journalist. However, I have written fashion-related articles, content for luxury websites, and really, really liked Elizabeth Gilbert's memoir "Eat, Pray, Love." So, I am that chick - you know, the kind who will not know math or understand how to change a gas cylinder and stuff like that. (All correct estimations in my case, by the way.) The corollary then, is that anyone interested in fashion is a bit flaky and unsubstantial.

My journalist friend was once telling me how fashion may be looked down on because it's a woman thing, even though it's a proper bona fide industry, with proper bona fide industry problems. Implications of textile being available, implications of markets and labour being wiped out, implications of new technology changing consumer behaviour - all of these are serious aspects. But the same issues in an automobile industry is seen as more important than if confronted in a fashion industry. Could gender stereotyping play a part?

Usually, fashion is seen to be superficial and facile. Unnecessary. A distraction for a flippant society that does not want to focus on core, important issues. But like my friend pointed out, that in the late 70s and through 80s (or some decade round-about there), the fashion industry rallied around gay rights and participated strongly in AIDS awareness and prevention. (This was around the time when research suggested that a lot of people in the fashion industry were afflicted by it.)

What really has the automobile industry done for accident victims or what have banks done for the homeless or compulsive gamblers, etc.? (Maybe they have done stuff but one wonders about initiatives that go beyond the mandates of CSR.)

But fashion...that can't be serious stuff, can it? It better look for gloss and glitter and step into the scathing spotlight.

Friday, April 29, 2016

400, 399, 398, 397, 396, 395

Just some updates:

1. Went for a moonlight trek from Katraj to Sinhagadh. It was arduous, humbling, beautiful.

2. Tried out the new German diner, Mahlzeit. Had a vegetarian wurst- curried (as opposed to a variation, bratwurst). It was quite tasty. The place specializes in German street good and is located at Koregaon Park. (But of course.)

3. Parents had come over and they got me the first mangoes of the season. Those were sliced, chilled, and had with soft parathas for breakfast.

4. A couple of my close friends shifted out from Delhi to Ambala. I feel sad. It feels like the end of an era.

5. I finished reading the book, The Curious Incident of the dog in the night time. Loved it. A tender, strong book with a rather original narrative.

6. Flirted with a few books here and there before committing to buy the book, Name of the rose by Umberto Eco. It seems to be a thrilling side.

Friday, April 22, 2016


Thursday, April 21, 2016

403, 402

Coming up with the concept of truth...maybe that is the triumph of the imagination.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


The last few days I was feeling a little unwell and really weak. I was madly craving fish so I had some. After 7 years of being vegetarian, had fish. It felt really good.

So far, here are the nice fish dishes I've had:

1. The tandoori pomfret from Salt. It is spectacular! It is just so beautifully charred with a kick in the marination - it's superb.

2. The butter-lemon prawns and the red snapper at Malaka Spice. The prawns were lovely. The snapper was a little rubbery.

3. The bhekti fish-fry at my home in Bombay. Superlative, but of course.

4. The roasted surmai from Food Court - very, very tasty.

5. The schezwan-stir fried fish from Kimling - totallly avoidable unless you want lightly fish flavored batter.

407, 406, 405

Friday, April 15, 2016

Fiction for You


Here's something I would like to propose.

If you'd like to read a short, fictional story, please write to me at Between 10 to 20 days, I'll write one and share it with you. If you like it, you could pay me whatever you see fit for it.

Thank you.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

408: First Impressions: My Gita by Devdutt Pattanaik

When you start reading the book, you wonder about an interesting 'What-if' situation. What if Krishna had recited the Gita to Arjuna in the way Pattanaik has described it here? Chances are that there would have been no war. Everybody would have dozed off or Arjuna would have shot himself in the foot due to sheer exasperation.

But none of that happened. So I'll move on with my thoughts on the book.

The book begins with Pattanaik giving a brief overview of what the Gita is. (It's a song sermon, if you will, that Krishna gave Arjuna when Arjuna lost nerve while battling his family. It's an important text because it condenses some of the most important concepts of Hinduism and outlines a framework in which you can apply it.) Pattanaik then goes on to specify, rather elaborately, why the book is called 'My Gita' and not 'Gita'. It's his interpretation and therefore personal. He sees Gita as a treatise on how we interact with the world. This social dimension is as important as the commonly understood theme of 'self' development. Basically, 'My Gita' tells us what it is to be with others instead of the spiritual navel-gazing that other variations of the book may proffer.

But for all the democracy that the author wants to infuse, he sure pushes forth his ideas rather autocratically. So much so, that 'gita' becomes 'Gita' and that becomes 'My Gita' in the latter parts of the book. The capitalization is an interesting indicator of just how close Pattanaik is to his ideas and just how much he wants us to be on his side. (Or that may be my understanding of the book.)

There is also much contrasting of the Eastern open, meandering philosophy to the rigid, structured Western philosophy. Which would all be well and good if they didn't also come with some very simple, crude diagrams which are funny and paradoxical. Oh, and the long, long treatise on paradox!

What I found disconcerting is the dismissiveness of the traditions that have propagated monastic principles - like Buddhism. What I got from the book is this notion that Hinduism is a superior religion because it shows you a path to God even if you're a householder. This is not something that Buddhism or Jainism propagate. (To digress a bit: Buddhism for me has been about the message that you alone are enough. A lot of traditions insist on relying on a guru or a teacher to take you further. The guru shows you the way and makes it easier for your spiritual growth to occur. But until you find your guru, you flounder and therefore, you must seek. Buddha didn't have a guru. He was driven. He sat and meditated and he got enlightened.)

And Hinduism, frankly, explained through this book seems endless - a desert you have to drag your feet through. I felt like flipping across pages to get to nuggets about the war. But no. 'My Gita' will slowly take you through every turn of thought in Devdutt Pattanaik's mind before you can lift your finger and flip a page. (The first 50 pages seriously feels like a work out.) A lot of the themes have already been covered in the author's earlier works. So the repetitiveness didn't help either. In all honesty, I started feeling like I was reading a printed 'Goodreads' compilation of all of Pattanaik's work.

If this is your first Devdutt Pattanaik book, then I'm guessing you'll be impressed with it. Because he is impressive in the cogent way he even gives timelessness (or the sense of eternity) a historical context. He's gifted like that.

However, the book comes together towards the end. The pace picks up. Things start getting more lucid. You start seeing a pattern. Then the pattern seems beautiful. And then the beauty sets you free.

Maybe that's the point...of the author, of the book, of our lives.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


1. I was almost attacked by a partially blind, mud-colored St. Bernard yesterday. I was walking back home from Aundh. It was around 10:15 p.m. or so. When I was walking past this open lot, I heard a growl and saw a large dog bounding across the street. But I screamed and ran a little ahead and then it stopped. Very grateful that I reached home safe.

2. I picked up a cup of badaam ice-cream from Havmor. It was not nice at all. But I had it while reading a few more pages of the novel, 'Snow Flower...'

3. Had the non-alcoholic beer at Peter Donuts which I loved! You can flavor it separately with ginger syrup or honey and that would invite snickering from people around. However, on its own, it's pretty nice too.

4. Mom had come over and she had brought me some kheer-kadams. I love them. I think I'll have one today.

5. I slept so damn well.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


1. Lovely sliver of a moon, dull and ornate like antique silver.

2. Fit into a rather old skirt and it looked good, if slightly snug.

3. Finished the first draft of a proposal I was working on.

4. Got a lovely gift from a friend. It's a magic cup. So this cup has  A faint picture  of her dog and me. The picture emerges more clearly when you have some kind of a hot liquid in it.

5. Prettied up my armoire and tastefully aranged a few a wooden button, a roll of thread, prayer needs, a fan made of sandalwood. That book, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, seems to be influencing me.

Now, time for a late night cup of tea and some gazing around in the balcony.

Monday, April 11, 2016


1. Enjoyed the curd rice that was made yesterday.

2. I cooked potatoes with moong daal last night. First, sauteed the moong daal in ghee. Chopped up a potato in large cubes and added it to the daal. Added turmeric, salt, and a spoonful of thetcha. Added a glass of water and had it pressure cooked. It was quite tasty.

3. Watched a film last night, American Graffiti. It's a 1973 film directed by George Lucas and produced by Ford Coppola. The film was a sleeper hit and it launched the careers of a young Susan Sommers and a new Harrisson Ford who was then still a carpenter. Lucas could fund Star Wars because this film was a hit.

4. Met a pal last afternoon for coffee. He gave me two books- a murder mystery called The Alienist and another slim volume of history between a potential war between Russia and China. The second one is non-fiction.

5. Cleaned up my room some more.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

416, 415, 414, 413, 412

A slightly tough day so I will quickly jot down a few things that made me happy:

1. The film, Kung Fu Panda 3. I loved all those swirling animations of chi and the final sequence where Po vanishes to leave behind a yin and yang emblem made of pale pink petals.

2. Very good mango lassi at Bhagatsingh Tarachand.

3. Catching up with a friend who was visiting from Chicago.

4. Being able to retrieve a few e-books after mistakenly deleting them.

5. A beautiful white Salwar Kameez in chikan work that Ma got me as a birthday gift.

6. The beautiful passages describing a fragile world in the book 'Snow Flower and the secret fan.'

7. Revisiting pictures of the sea.

8. Getting more visible on LinkedIn

9. Winning a book as a consolation prize at work, Invisible Cities by Calvino.

(I think I will write about all the good things that happen to me. Even when I am being impossible and horrible.)

Monday, April 04, 2016

421, 420, 419, 418, 417

What I put up on Facebook

What I did for my birthday was shove a few clothes in my bag, turn off the lights, close the door behind me, and head out at midnight for the Velas beach with some people I didn't know too well. For my birthday, I wanted to take off. And I did.
The Velas beach is where the Ridley turtles lay eggs and they hatch and the little turtles are released into the sea. A really big deal is made about it all. For me, the weekend and my birthday was about endless walks on the beach, standing hypnotized in font of a sunset, sharing a smile with stranger who was recording the sound of the waves.
It was about a serenditous stumble on another white and golen beach, a trippy road trip, an unplanned halt where we turned off the lights and watched a large swatch of sky fill with was about going up a really high tower and watching the beautiful yin and yang that a fortress and the sea make. It was about screeching to a halt as we watched a large, stunning , black and white spackled python (so long it covered the span of the lane on the highway) cross the road.
There is something about being free. About being happy. About being with travelers in an unknown place for an unknown time that strangely makes you feel more connected with those at home.
When I watched the endless sea crash a limitless shore...or i watched tons of fireflies blaze near bushes...or I caught the rhythm of a massive snake in the pitch dark of the night...I felt strangely with everyone I'd ever known. I wasn't available on phone or facebook...but in some sense I'd taken everyone with me. I hope you felt the magic too.