Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Dear Diary

In another 3 days the year 2006 will begin its 365 day life.

I like all the hoopla surrounding the birth of a new year. The parties, the countless resolutions that everyone will keep for a few months (or a few hours), and the general feeling of hope, that this year will be different and better somehow.

But my favourite New Year thing by far is buying a new diary. It’s something I’ve been doing since I was 8 and it’s one of the few childhood things of mine that have stood the test of time (the Mickey Mouse filo fax lasted about 6 months).

The first diary was a freebie – one of the many my father would be inundated with at the beginning of the year. I won it guessing the bill amount after one of our family lunches at Bombay Palace. The prize was getting ‘anything I wanted’. I beat my sister and asked for the diary. The relief was evident on my parent’s face. (Thank god she’s too stupid to ask for that kitten she’s been pestering us about). But on that day was born a tradition that has continued for more than 16 years.

Now when I say diary I don’t mean the ‘Dear Diary, today he finally smiled at me or at least he squinted in my direction’ kind of diary. I had those too but stopped when my sister found one and amused herself with the pathetic outpourings of my tortured soul. No. This was a proper diary that grown-ups used. It had a world map on the first page. The STD and ISD codes of every place on that map (very handy if I ever needed to make a call to Angola). Metric conversions. SI Units. Fahrenheit to Celsius conversions. Each day was split up in to tiny one hour slots to pen in appointments and important working lunches. In short, it was everything an 8 year old girl needed.

Most of my initial diaries were like the one above. Covers in vile dark blue or depressing grey with the year stamped on the cover in a gold that would peel away if your finger brushed against it. But it was nothing a quick nip/tuck couldn’t fix. So armed with left over wrapping paper or tiny pots of my sister’s Camel paint (remember those?) I would give my diary a face lift. Tiny sprigs of spring blooms, Cindy Crawford in those Omega print ads, multi-coloured stripes – whatever could be spared and that no one would miss found its way to the front of my diary.

Of course, every year I would try my luck and see if my parents would buy me those expensive diaries at Landmark. For Rs. 125 a gorgeous CRY diary with lovely pictures or abstract prints. Even my ‘it’s for a good cause’ argument didn’t work.

Then in 1998 I met The Tulika Celebrate India Diary. Colourful, vivacious and so Indian – it was fuchsia slap in the face of all those dull grey tomes of the past. I was in college then and could afford it with some of the money I’d won in inter-collegiate debates. I fell in love with each page of the diary – peppered with a little illustration and snippets of trivia.

Since 1998, every December the Tulika Diary finds its way to me. Some years as gifts to myself and some times from a loved one. When I moved to Bombay my mother started sending them to me as little year end pick-me-ups. Always with a little note of love and luck from her inside. It’s something she still does even though I now live in London. Every day of the last few weeks of year are filled with a delicious anticipation till it arrives.

Some people can’t understand this love affair of mine with diaries. Why not get a Palm Pilot they ask? How old fashioned they say.

There’s something about the blank pages of a diary that fascinates me. It’s almost as though I’m presented with a fresh start and that only the ink of my pen will charter my path. I know - it sounds so silly. But I love writing down the birthdays and anniversaries of friends and family. And I love making little lists – the mundane – grocery lists, things to do lists, guess who’s coming for dinner lists. Other’s rather baffling even to me, with just – CHANGE YOUR LIFE FROM TODAY on them.

And as the year draws to an end I like looking back through the pages of my diary. The first few months of 2005 were filled with job application information – later angrily scratched out when I didn’t get interview calls. A little later there were job interviews pencilled in (with fingers crossed written in brackets). There was a big smiley on the day I got my job. There were lists of things I wanted to buy with my first salary. Accounts. Promises to lose weight. Books that friends had recommended to me.

What strikes me is that even during October and November when there wasn’t much of the year left – I was still making resolutions and promises to myself. And that’s the beauty of a diary. There’s always one more blank page. Waiting to be filled with happy thoughts, promises and most importantly - with hope.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


She was tiny.
Translucent skin.
Hair as soft as down.
A helpless baby.
Bathed, fed and burped at regular intervals.
Nappies changed when she soiled herself.
Put to sleep with lullabies.

ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything

Monday, December 26, 2005

Stayin' Alive

This post is no ode to the Bee Gees. Neigh, it is in fact a tribute to one woman’s bravery and courage in the face of a man-made disaster so sinister my hand trembles as I type its name. The Boxing Day Sale.

The 26th of December began like any other day. The sky was a delicate shade of oyster and a steady drizzle fell - well steadily. There was no ominous sign - no black cat no one eyed kangaroo that told of what was to come. She watched the breakfast news and caught stray reports - £ 5 billion would be spent over the next 5 days, 250,000 people expected at Bluewater Mall. She looked at her sherpa (her husband) “ We should take part in this pagan festival that celebrates the indiscrete spending of money”. The sherpa looked doubtful but she brushed aside his worries with a threat to cut off his free food supply.

The streets near their home were deserted. The trains sparsely populated with other adventurers – their faces set in steely determination. At each station though their numbers grew, and by the time the iron worm carrying them stopped at Oxford Circus there was hardly room to breath. The sherpa’s eyes begged her – lets turn back. No! We’ve come too far she silently told him by stamping on his foot.

Outside it was like the earth had vomited human. Everywhere she looked people were being pushed forward whether they liked it or not. She tied herself to the sherpa and they set off – careful not to step on the toes of the already irate mass of humanity.

After a couple of failed attempts at shopping (The Gap, River Island) she drew herself up to her full height (5ft2) and strode in to Zara. It was bedlam. Women were willing to kill, maim and jab in the chest to get that silk blouse at 50% off. After an hour of staving off such physical attacks she emerged triumphant with a shopping bag filled with treasures in silk and 35% cashmere. She had been separated from the sherpa though. She found him crouching in fear near the entrance.

Next on the list was Selfridges. Imagine if you will well coiffed Chelsea women carrying Prada bags and wearing row upon row of Mikimoto. The vision of grace and good breeding. Until they see you admiring a Mulberry bag they want. Then it’s good bye good breeding and hello take your hands off that you bitch it’s mine. The shoppers in the luxury bags department of Selfridges are about as well mannered as a bunch of stampeding elephants. Serpentine cues wound around the ground floor – just to gain entrance in to the hallowed spaces allocated to the brands. Their founders no longer alive to see the hysteria their creations arouse.

It was the same story everywhere. Debenhams. House of Frazer. Nike Town. And the hundreds of other stores that she didn’t venture in to. The roads seemed to get more and more crowded with every passing hour. But she refused to let a pesky few hundred thousand people scare her off. The sherpa wasn’t as sure. But she bought his support with a wool and cashmere coat. Sucker.

Feet aching, hair resembling a bird’s nest and weighed down by the shopping equivalent of a small nation’s GDP she and her faithful sherpa dragged themselves back home. They had appeased the pagan consumer gods and -

‘OOH! Marks and Spencer start their sale tomorrow! Leave your snow boots on sherpa!”

Tips to make your sale shopping a success

1.Know what you want. Do not think you can window shop during Boxing Day and January Sales. You will find yourself being scraped off the sidewalk by a loved one if you try.

2.Have a plan. Decide where you are going and do not get sidetracked. Even if the sparkly sweater calls to you from The Gap as you stride purposefully towards your patent leather heels at Faith – Ignore it!

3.Forget your manners. Don’t be polite and say ‘Lady, please take your hands off the trousers I’m holding’. Just snarl instead. Watch a few Vampire flicks for tips.

4.Feel no guilt. Very important. You’re helping the economy. Or so you tell yourself.

5.Wear comfortable shoes.

6.Don’t forget your sherpa.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

The top 100 prime numbers of all time

Is it just me, or have there been a lot of Top 100 shows lately? Every time I switch on the television there seems to be some countdown or the other. The Top 100 Movies of All Time. The Top 100 Stars of All Time. The Top 100 Family Movies of all time. The Top 100 hottest stars of all time. Get the picture?

Some of these countdown shows aren’t all that bad. The movie ones give me a list of flicks that I haven’t seen or heard of. Unfortunately neither has Blockbuster. But many of them seem to have been created because the creators couldn’t get any other ideas through the network.

“Damn! They trashed our idea about former dope addicts who have found god. What should we do? I know – how about The Top 100 celebrity dopers of all time? Who have found god.” And before you know it you’re watching Pete Doherty smash a £50,000 vintage guitar on stage after doing a few lines.

So far I’ve seen at least 4 different Top 100 Celebrity Fashion Mistakes shows. And they all have the same people in the same weird clothes. Bjork and her Swan (or was it goose?) outfit at the Oscars. All the clothes ever worn by L’il Kim. Christina Aguilera’s ode to hot pink ostrich feathers courtesy Mr. Cavalli. And how can we forget Vin Diesel in a leather kilt?

Celebrities are always the subject of these shows. Which makes sense, because no one would want to see The Top 100 fashion crimes of the smelly old lady next door.
Back to celebs though – very few of these programs show them in good light.
Like the top 100 Celebrity Oops of All Time. It’s nice to know that people who make millions of dollars and get to wear free designer clothes screw up this much. But after running the show for what seemed like a century, E! decided it was time to update the list. So now we get to see The Top 100 Even bigger Celebrity Oops. How original.

As a famous physicist who had a lot of time on his hands (no top 100 shows back then) once said ‘For every action you have an equal and opposite reaction.’ So if you have a Most Beautiful list you have to follow it up with a Top 100 Mingers show. If you list the Top Hollywood Hook ups, you can be sure of catching The Juiciest Hollywood Break-ups the week after.
Best sex scenes, best villains, best hot bodies, best cribs, best pre-nups, best scandals. The list is never ending and no topic has been left out.

Some topics that I’d like to see covered

Top Turner Prize recipients that no one understood but everyone agreed should win

Top 100 Bushisms of all time (though I doubt 100 would be enough)

Top 100 Celebrities who are famous for no particular reason

And my favourite - The Top 100 Top 100 lists of all time.

Any more suggestions?

Saturday, December 24, 2005

In my head

Beginnings (so hard)

The first line after a beginning (even harder)

Turns of phrase

Jokes (or so I think)



Awkward middle bits

All sit in my head

Waiting to be chosen

Like a mixed bouquet in the 1.99 bucket at Tesco

Hoping to be bought before it wilts

What use is a wilted, awkward middle bit?

Friday, December 16, 2005

Of clogs and cannabis

If one has less than 24 hours to explore a city what should one do? Hop on and off a city tour bus and see as much as two eyes can possibly see? Run from one monument to another and take as many pictures as one can – ‘This is at so-and-so bridge’, ‘Here I am at what’s-its-name Palace’. Or should one merely walk about – armed without maps or guidebooks but some good old fashioned wanderlust instead?

I chose the last option when I found myself on a 5 hour date in Amsterdam. This year, the city of windmills and clogs found itself hosting my agency’s annual Christmas shindig. And what a do it was!

Roused at the ungodly hour of 5:30am to catch a flight from London Luton to Amsterdam Schipol, I found myself sharing a cab with J and M. The former an over-enthusiastic account exec in the early stages of pregnancy and the latter my boss whose usual eloquence had been replaced by ‘I’m-not-a-morning-person’ stoicism. So while J twittered on about pregnancy caused wind, nausea and incontinence, I feigned sympathy and tried to decipher what M’s occasional grunt meant.

4 cups of coffee and a rather lesbian body frisk later I found myself on the flight. Sandwiched between K and M1 (the other big boss) I fended off questions about the caste system, female infanticide and dowry. And all this even before breakfast. Thankfully the flight was short and K’s panic attack prevented me from having to answer anything in great detail.

On landing, the big bosses insisted on doing a quick head count and roll call. At least we didn’t have to wear flashing neon badges that would identify in case we got lost. A smooth train ride later we found ourselves outside the Central Station. The map indicated that the restaurant we lunching at was a short 10 minute walk from the station. The map was lying. After trudging for half an hour along the docks through the freezing cold we finally found the place – Onassis. An Italian restaurant with a Greek name in Amsterdam. Oh well.

The lunch was lovely. Raspberry Bellinis, freshly made pastas, wine, heavenly ice creams and Babboon - the sweetest dog in the world. I hasten to add that Babboon was not on the menu but did wander about looking working hard for scraps from the table.

After a very long lunch we stumbled in to waiting cabs and were whisked off to DeWaag. Built in 1448 this old building now houses a trendy restaurant in the heart of NieuwMarkt. The big bosses M and M1 wanted to shop and N – the quiet studio boy offered to drop them off at the mall and rejoin us. We didn’t see him again till we boarded the flight – causing much debate over which nefarious activities he’d been indulging in.

Our group began ambling along the tiny back streets near NieuwMarkt and rather soon we found ourselves in Amsterdam’s famous red light area. While SoHo is in-your-face and seems a bit crude The Rossebuurt, as the locals know it, is unlike any other place and rather – nice. A lovely canal runs down the street. Old fashioned street lamps soften the red lights that illuminate the windows behind which the girls stand. Some girls sat still. Some did their nails. Others were chatting on the phone. Apart from the few gawking tourists (like us) everyone else were walking about nonchalant - as though passing a live window display at a lingerie store. Not at all the seedy, sordid place I had thought it would be.

I soon broke away from the group. I wandered alone about a small market and haggled unsuccessfully with the stall owners for some rather Dutch milk maid skirts (No corsets though). I found stores that sold cannabis lollies and drug paraphernalia of every shape and size – from the phallic to Hello Kitty Bongs. Boutiques with cutting edge Dutch design. Hippy hang outs that sold kalamkaari beadspreads and lambadi embroidered bags. A little bit of Goa in the heart of Amsterdam.

I bumped in to R and C outside a shop specialised in rude and bizarre gifts. Pen holders fashioned from plastic men bending over with their pants pulled down. The pen fits right in the… well you can guess where. A little rubber woman the size of my index finger. The packaging claimed that if you put her in water she would grow 600% in size - ideal for nights when the Mrs has a headache.

Half listening to R and C discuss N’s sexuality (they both think he’s gay) I dodged manic cyclists ( there are more chances of being mowed down by a cyclist than a tram or car) and came to the conclusion that I liked Amsterdam as much as I did the edam cheese it’s famous for.

Amsterdam doesn’t overwhelm you as Paris does with its grand buildings and boulevards. It isn’t as large and impersonal as London can be. It doesn’t make your head spin as Rome does with fountains, obelisks and stunning chapels on every street corner. Amsterdam is lovely in a quiet but quirky way. Unassuming but certainly not unprepossessing. It makes you feel welcome, at ease and at home. It allows you to soak up its ambience at your own pace. It doesn’t impose itself on you.

I suppose I’m rambling. But somehow that seems appropriate for a day spent doing nothing but just that.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Tube travel 101

One would think that there is nothing simpler than travelling by the tube. The maps are easy to read and the tickets can be bought from the helpful staff who man the booth or from the not so helpful, not-so-fast, coin-swallowing fast ticket machines. However, tube travel seems to really stump some people. So my good deed of the day is to provide some basic tips to make travelling by the underground easy. (Yesterday’s good deed was eating all the chocolate biscuits in the office tea room. There were none left for J who is struggling to stick to her diet and hence the action is labelled ‘good deed’.)

Do not buy tickets in the aforementioned fast machine booth. They are not fast. They will consume all the change that resides in the netherworld that is one’s bag. They will usually be out of order. But there will be no out of order sign. So you’ll carefully count out all the change, put it in one by one and then wait for the better half of a day before a friendly soul will come and tell you – ‘Tha ain’t workin luv’.

So you then stand in queue to buy your ticket from the man at the booth. You wait. And wait… and wait. You wait behind screaming children. You wait behind amorous couples. You wait behind old people. With flatulence. And then finally your turn comes. By then friendly man at the booth has gone for his tea break and the fast tickets machine has been fixed. And not wanting to be left out, it too has a long queue.

Hopefully you’ll be able to purchase a ticket sometime in this century. Next is to find a map. Now London Underground is wonderful. They print these lovely pocket maps with Underground Art on the cover. These maps are free and can be found at every station. Not really. Where they can be found is in the fist of the child who was wailing in the queue. Remember her? The cute little critter who spit on you? In order to shut baby darling up, Mummy dearest has taken all the maps left in the dispenser and given them to her to play with. Try stealing a map from a kid. Candy is easier.

Ticket? Check! Map? Check! Poster of you as a suspected paedophile and map stealer everywhere? Check!

You are now ready to embark on your journey. Walk towards the electronic turnstiles. Put your card through the slot provided and walk through once the gates open. This sounds easy right? However some people find this the most challenging part of tube travel. Their card will go through and proceed to flash a red sign– PLEASE SEEK ASSISTANCE. Now for most of us these words are rather self-explanatory. One must go and seek assistance. Yet some people interpret this statement as PLEASE STAND ROOTED TO THE SPOT WITH YOUR MOUTH OPEN AND CREATE ANOTHER QUEUE BEHIND YOU. Which is precisely what they do. They will look up, down, left and right but will be too proud to ask for help. They would prefer it if the next commuter put their card through by mistake so that they can slip through with them. I urge you not to do that. There is nothing worse than being sandwiched in an electronic turnstile in a position that you wouldn’t even get in to with your husband.

So now you’re on platform 5. It’s crowded. People are pushing. An old lady comes and stands next to you. You’d like to do the right thing and let her get on the train first. You need to make enough space to let just her through. An inch more and you’ll have all of platform 5 squeezing past you without a ‘cheers’ or ‘thanks’ in sight.

On the Aldgate fast? Good. If there isn’t a Triwizarding tournament on for a seat and you have a number of them to choose from, choose with care. I once spent half an hour on the train listening to a strange man tell me about the corns on his feet. The only reason the conversation ended was because I got off two stations early. If all the seats are taken avoid standing near the doors. They tend to be crowded and you’re more likely to be elbowed, kneed or the victim of some egregious bodily blow. Someone dropped a bag of heavy books on my feet today morning. One should really practice what one preaches.

Off the train? In one piece? Excellent. Glad to see that you’re doing so well. Now, when exiting, please follow the signs. There will usually be two sets of stairs. One, an exit and the other an entrance. There will be signs saying ENTRY and NO ENTRY. Here again, we find people confused. They think they can use whichever stair they please and that NO ENTRY is some clever guerrilla advertising done by the promoters of the recent Hindi film of the same name. It is not. If you decide to brave the No Entry side (as many people chose to brave the film) be prepared for perambulators gone wild and the opportunity to learn a few new swear words. It’s wonderful to be in a country where education is free for all.

So you’re out in the open now. Take a deep breath! Fresh air! Blue skies! Twittering birds. You deserve a pat on the back. A gold star. A purple heart. Or is it cross? Class dismissed! Walk forward with confidence my friend for… What? You need to catch a bus now you say?

That’s another post for another day. I need to soak my feet in hot water.

Friday, December 09, 2005


Date: 8th June, 2001

A day old bride. Back in her parents’ home. Her sister is leaving the next day. The house is full of family and friends. They all decide to walk the sister back to her husband’s home down the road. The new bride and her two best friends dawdle along, enjoying the sweet evening breeze. They remember walking down the same road countless times before. To catch an auto to Satyam. To buy ice cream. To nowhere in particular. They wonder if things will ever be the same again. When will they meet next? Is it out of sight, out of mind or absence makes the heart grow fonder? They instinctively reach out for each other’s hands in the darkness.

Date: 8th December 2005

A married woman of more than three years steps out of office. It is dark and the air is cold and wet. She walks to the station and thinks of another evening from her past. She doesn’t know why she is reminded of it. Perhaps it is the single lamp post illuminating the street. Or the Sri Lankan Tamizh boy at the shop who hums Rajnikant songs under his breath. Whatever it is, it brings salty, sharp tears to her eyes that take her by surprise. She reaches out instinctively in the dark. But there are no hands to hold.

After all, tomorrow is another day

Today will be the day I change my life.

‘I will exercise more’ I say to myself as I catch the bus to the station.

‘I will eat the recommended 5 portions of fruit and veg a day’ But let me finish this Mars Bar first.

‘I will start my job hunt today’ I decide. Perhaps I should wait for my bonus.

‘I will control my temper, be more patient’ I vow and silently curse the woman before me as she negotiates stairs, cell phone and wheelie suitcase at the same time.

‘I will watch less television from today’ I promise and settle down for The Simpsons, The F Word and Friends.

‘I will look after my skin’ I pledge and fall asleep with my mascara on.

And tomorrow becomes today.

The day I will change my life.
They lay on the cold stainless steel surface. Bodies that once throbbed with life now lay inert and limp.
The sterilised tools of his trade impeccably arranged to his right.
He looked at the fingers. Long and slender.
Like an artist’s he thought.
‘Well not in this lifetime’ he muttered, cutting viciously into them.
Eyes were gouged.
Hearts cut open.
Skin peeled.
Blood mingled with flesh.
He stepped back, surveying the carnage.
‘Everything done?’ a voice barked from behind.
‘Chef, yes Chef’

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

One flew over the couture nest

I have come to the conclusion that my agency is not really an agency. That my job is not a job, but a form of therapy designed to exorcise me of my love for shopping. My shrink – my ‘creative director’, the chosen form of therapy – ‘100cc of shopping centre direct mailers – non diluted’ and the evil nurses that chain me to the bed and force the bitter medicine down my throat – ‘the account team’. All of them I’m sure in cahoots with my husband who figured that paying for such an elaborate set up would be far more cost effective than having to shell out for a life time of my extravagances.

Like all sods lured to the loony bin under the pretence of a visit to the Zoo or a day at the beach, I was promised the chance to do cutting edge work on high fashion brands and premium centres. I had visions (what they call hallucinations in here) of Alexander McQueen, Roland Mouret and Bill Blass.

I should have realised that things weren’t ok when I was given Primark instead of Prada. This isn’t want I’m meant to be doing I protested! I’m destined for bigger, better things I claimed. Of course you are the nurses cooed as they ruthlessly hosed me down. Soaked to the skin and trembling in fear I went to my boss. ‘What’s going on? This isn’t how it’s meant to be’ I said. He made me lie down on his couch (another clue) and asked me about my childhood. ‘What does that have to do with anything?’ I said. ‘Oh everything’ was the reply.

‘Don’t worry’ my husband said when I complained ‘they know what’s best for you…just listen to what your Doct… er I mean boss says.’

In the last 6 months they’ve been working quietly on me. The brochures, the Sale ads, the radio commercials with the jingles that remind me of women with triangular haircuts, blue eye shadow and shoulder pads. A sample ‘It’s got the look, it’s got the hook, it’s got style, it’s got space. It’s got the look, it’s got the hook.’ Words that will make even the most intrepid shopper quake in her heels.

I try to protest. I try to write interesting, witty copy. But I look up on the screen and see ‘have a bright, glittering Christmas with Randy the Reindeer. Move over Rudolph’. I try to delete the words but the key seems jammed. The words cannot be taken back.

The Christmas rush is over. A quiet has descended over the agency. I try and drum up enthusiasm for the Boxing Day sales. 50% off Chloe blouses at Selfridges. Tweed jackets a steal at Monsoon. But my brain refuses to co-operate. The latest edition of Vogue sits unopened on my desk. ‘They’re winning’ the last, sane refuge of my brain whispers to me.

Snatches of conversation reach my ears. ‘Easter promotions …’ ‘… next Father’s Day’ ‘ Summer sales’. The words surround me like a designer straight jacket binding my arms to my sides. They’re mounting their next and final attack.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Dear Santa

Growing up, my sister and I were lucky enough to have a part of our education abroad. Lucky, because it gave us the chance to experience different cultures, cuisines and classroom politics.

One of the things we managed to bring from classroom to home was Christmas. Every year, we would dress the fake, silk palm tree that stood in the corner of the lounge with tinsel. An angel fashioned from aluminium foil would be perched precariously on the top of our make shift fir. My sister and I would be given a small allowance to buy gifts for each other with and there’d always be a gift for us from our parents too.

The years progressed. We returned to India. The silk palm tree was stowed away in the attic and long forgotten. Our Christmas tradition along with it.

In the last 6 months I have been reunited with this festival. And unlike in India, where Christmas is more about Midnight Mass and family lunches here all I see around me is mass consumerism. Gift guides, top 10 lists and must have presents. I should know – I’ve written enough of them myself. Since April, I’ve worked on brochures, radio spots, TV commercials and direct mailers for over 15 clients. I’ve encouraged people to buy Homer Simpson shower radios, cranberry scented candles and naughty, Santa’s little helper lingerie. While there’s nothing like receiving a well thought out gift, I’m sure people would rather get no gift at all than an electronic, singing trout.

This year, the average Briton will spend an average of £450 each on Christmas gifts.
That’s enough to feed a family of 6 in Sudan for a year. Now I’m not suggesting that
all of you return the gifts you’ve already bought or don’t buy the ones you’re planning
to. But I am suggesting this.

I’m sure the establishments many of you work for send out Christmas cards and gifts to
clients. Mine do. This year the agency had a budget of £2000 for corporate Christmas
gifts. A fine wine perhaps? Handmade chocolates flown in from Paris? Food hampers
from Fortnum and Mason? Donkeys? Donkeys!

A visit here gave us a wonderful list of unusual, Christmas
Gifts. Gifts that can be made on behalf of friends, family and business associates.
Donkeys, goats, school books, mango plantations – even a motorcycle. All of which go to
people who need
them the most in countries devastated by war or natural disaster. After much thought we
decided that the money would be used to build a classroom – replete with roof, toilets and
clean drinking water.

If your organisation is in the UK and hasn’t decided what to send clients yet give this a thought. Apart from Oxfam, The Independent has chosen 3 charities as part of its
Make a Difference initiative which are doing fantastic work across the globe. If you’re in India you can make a contribution to CRY, Project Why, ASha or any other charity that your organisation would like to support. Then send an e-mail out to your clients telling them what you’ve done in their name.

So maybe clients won’t get a chocolate walnut log this Christmas. But they’ll get to feel good knowing that they’ve made education a possibility for a child somewhere. And that’s something you can’t put a price on.

Saturday, December 03, 2005


They used to fight over her. They would fight about who got to lie on her lap. Who got the first and last vaai (mouthful) of food when she fed them. About whom she would bathe that day. They even fought over who she loved the most. And which one of them loved her the most.

“My house is too small” says the eldest daughter-in-law

“My son needs the extra room to prepare for his board exams” says the youngest son.

Silence from her daughter.

“How was I to know that she slipped and fell in the bathroom?” says her other son.

They still fight over her. Who will keep her. Who will pay for her hospital bills. Who will clean up after she wets herself.

Her granddaughter looks at her. The wrinkled skin. The worn, gold bangles. The frilled nightgown from Pondy Bazaar that has replaced the regal, nine yard sarees she once wore.

“Amma, we will keep paati” she says.

They take her home. She sees her two grand daughters fight for their mother’s affection and attention. They fight over which one of them she loves more. Who gets the last vaai of food. Who gives her the last kiss goodnight.

And she hopes that history does not repeat itself.

Friday, December 02, 2005

People on the platform

He went round and round stamping his feet
Arms crossed over his chest
A clumsy, whirling dervish
Trying to dance away the cold

Blonde where there was once black where there was once brown
The pink velour tracksuit proclaimed that she was No Angel
Juggling cell phone and crisps
She pushed the pram with her free hand.
Child and mother at the same time

‘Hello! How are you? How’s Sue?
Has she had her baby yet? What are you doing for Christmas?’
The old lady chatters away
But only the cold December wind listens

Monday, November 28, 2005

It's a kind of magic

Magic. It’s about pulling rabbits out of a black top hat. Sawing people in half. It’s knowing that you picked the ace of hearts from the pack.

Or is it?

Ask most women (and please note that I say most and not all) what magic is to them and they’ll talk to you about violins playing in the background, frissons of excitement coursing down their backs, that ‘look’ from across a smoky bar. P.C Sorcar’s brand of abracadabra just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Apparently, love these days is all about magic. It’s about a je ne sais pas that’s harder to describe than the need for salmon flavoured ice lollies. (which do exist, I assure you). And it’s driving a lot of guys up the wall.

Male friends of mine in love, float along on cloud number 9 until they’re brought down to terra firma when told ‘I like you… but I just don’t feel it. You know, that feeling in your stomach?’ And there’s no point telling them that feeling in their stomach is the lunch they had at the dubious road side stall – they think it’s love.

‘What about commitment? What about friendship? A sense of humour?’ ask these men. Why do all these sterling qualities pale when compared to a light headed feeling that could have more to do with skipping breakfast than meeting Mr. Right?

Now there’s nothing wrong with wanting these things. I wouldn’t expect a woman to settle for Nine West when she could buy Manolos. But what if the Nine West shoes were great? What if they let you catch trains, run a marathon and looked great with trousers and skirts? I’d recommend giving the Nine West’s a shot.

I know girls who have said no to wonderful guys based purely on a fairytale notion of love. They hope that like Snow White, they won’t have to choose from Grumpy and Sneezy, and that Prince Charming will come one day. And who’s to say he won’t?
But remember girls, if Mr. Prince Charming is a no show – don’t go looking for Grumpy or Sneezy. They’ll be with a girl who knows that most magic tricks are illusions. And that real love can’t be pulled out of a hat.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

To market, to market

Isn’t it funny how things you once abhorred become wonderful and romantic as your memories are tinged with sepia?

As a child, there was nothing worse than Maadavidhi market. I hated tagging along with my Mother as she bought Leo Coffee Powder, vegetables, sugar and the other sundries that a middle class family run on. If I whined too much and seemed to be on the verge of a temper tantrum she would leave me in the car and wind her way through the thronging mass of shoppers, cows and TVS Champs. I would look out the window and pass the time by counting the number of white 800s that drove by. It would amuse me for about 10 minutes and then I would get fidgety. I would keep a lookout for my mother among the sea of faces. Sometimes I would perk up at the sight of a woman in a similar sari, thinking it was her. But as the woman walked by the car, weighed down by her purchases and who knows what else, my heart would sink.

I would be angry with my mother when she finally turned up. But the anger would evapourate as soon as she produced the glass bottle from Ambika that held 5 minutes of pure pleasure. Flavoured milk. Badham. Pista. Rose. And I would greedily gulp it down – not a thank you or smile in return for her efforts. How rude children can be.

My antipathy towards Maadavidhi came down marginally as the years progressed. I was a regular at Vijaya Books stores as a student. And as a bride-to-be, I loved the silver shops and bangle stalls that dotted the cramped by-lanes. The withered faces of the old women selling fresh flowers. The magnificent Kapaleeshwarar Temple seeming that seemed to expand to accommodate the faithful.

Marriage was followed by Mumbai. And could markets be far behind? My first year in Bandra meant regular visits to the fruit and veg stalls at the base of Mount Mary. I never had a chance to flex my lean linguistic muscles there as all the stall owners spoke English. There was also a fruit seller who would come home every morning and try to sell over priced papaya and ‘import straaabeerries’.

Shifting to town meant goodbye to the sad bruised straaabeeries and hello to the shiny, sticker bearing apples that regally sat outside Premsons. Buying vegetables and fruits here seemed to be all right if we wanted to declare bankruptcy, but as that wasn’t the case I soon began to look for alternatives. And that’s how I found myself back in Maadavidhi. Well, almost.

Matunga. How can one visit Matunga and not fall in love with it? Ram Naiks. The Guruvayoorappan temple. Concerns. Manis. It even has a Giri traders.
Once a week, I would leave behind the cloak of my modern, Bombay lifestyle. Abstain from the alcohol and the swearing. Wear a crisp, starched saree, pick up my green plastic basket and head to this Mecca for displaced Mylapore Maamis. After asking God to forgive me for the sins of the past week and those that I was about to commit in the week to come, I would inexpertly haggle with the vendors and buy strands of fresh malli. I began to enjoy visiting the market. The vendors to whom my face had become familiar. The inexplicable satisfaction that lugging home fresh produce gave me.
So it was with much sadness that I read recently that Tesco would like India to open up it’s markets to the supermarket giant. I know very little of economics and I’m sure that the investment can only do good. But if the impact of supermarket chains on markets and home-grown produce in the UK is anything to go by, I fear for the future of the Mount Marys, Matungas and Maadavidhis that are such a wonderful, colourful and noisy part of India.

I look forward to my next visit to Maadavidhi. It won’t be such a tiresome thing. I am no longer the little girl in the blue uniform waiting impatiently for her mother. I won’t need to count red cars to pass the time. But I will drink the flavoured milk. And I will remember to say thank you this time.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Disappointing Dutch

How much can you tell about a country and it’s people by a trip to the Visa Section of the said nation’s Embassy? Quite a lot I like to think. I’ve had the (mis)fortune of having stood in line in a number of embassies and it’s always given me a rough idea of what to expect in the country I’m about to visit.

At the Italian Embassy one can hope to be greeted by some rather handsome, curly haired David-esque men. They will spend more time looking at you than at your documents, converse with you in a manner that can only be described as flirtatious and will largely ignore the man standing next to you, who you happen to you’re your husband. When we (my husband and I – David look-alike number 20,003 couldn’t make it) were actually in Rome I found that this was a trait quite rampant in the Italian gene pool. All men - from the stewards on the Alitalia flight to the Immigration officers to the cabbies and waiters – can spend a full half hour explaining how to get to the Via Sacra if you’re a woman. If you’re a man they’ll grunt and nod in roughly the opposite direction.

The French however are a completely different ball game. Until you dredge up long forgotten French phrases from the dark and dusty corners of your brain, the straight line that is a French Embassy employee’s mouth will not turn up in the corners in to what is French for smile. However, if you can answer ‘Parlez vouz Francaise?’ with a breathy ‘Un peu’ and not ‘You speak English?’ accompanied by a vapid look you have temporary access to the rather exclusive ‘People the French like’ club. Temporary because you must exhibit more knowledge of their beloved language – humming Edith Piaf song’s under your breath is recommended. Humming ‘frere jacques’ is not. Parisians are the same - as a rule they dislike foreigners – but if they think you aren’t making any effort to speak their beloved language – God help you. Or should I say ‘aide d'un dieu vous’?

And how can I leave out our very own country’s visa and passport office? Like India herself, our embassies are grossly overpopulated. There are people everywhere – most of them taking a tea break that started at 9:30am and that will end at 4:00pm. Ask anyone a question and they will scratch their head for a while and then hand you over to someone else. This will be repeated until you find yourself with the same man who set the ball rolling. Name dropping and conversing in a common tongue will get you far – but act too big and a lowly flunky will extract revenge by making you wait forever. They will be rude to the country’s subjects but fawningly attentive to those who not long ago lorded about us in crinoline skirts and tight breeches.

Today morning I found myself outside the Dutch Embassy shivering not only because of the cold but also with anticipation. Would there be seemingly innocent brownies on offer that left people with more than a chocolate high? Would the employees be sitting behind glass-fronted booths in their underwear? Would I get my first taste of a Dutch accent?

‘Morrrning!’ twanged the blonde as she took my papers. Not only was she disappointingly dressed in tweed but she also had – could it be – an American accent? I mumbled a ‘Good morning’ back and looked around her desk for brownies or at least some suspect looking powder in a plastic bag. But there were no recreational drugs to be found – NOTHING. I sighed in resignation and paid my fee – which I thought was steep considering that there were no drugs or dubious women.

So with no new Dutch insights I made my way back to the station. En route I treated myself to a brownie and paused at the lingerie display at M&S. Pretending the mannequin was called Gerta (sound’s Dutch doesn’t it?) and that my brownie induced euphoria was caused by something more interesting I convinced myself that I now knew what to look forward to in Amsterdam. So what if I was in the heart of Kensington.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

seeing but not looking?

Has it ever happened to you - you're passing by the familiar landscape of your daily commute - houses, office complexes, football fields and then all of a sudden something you've never seen before pops up. A glass fronted homage to the modern, an art deco mansion, a gigantic, leafless tree - its bent limbs trying to protect itself from the elements. And you think to yourself - "When did that come up?" "How could I have missed that lovely red brick all these days?"

It's the same with people. Friends, siblings, lovers, parents, spouses. You can spend your entire life thinking you know everything about someone and then discover something startling and new in their personality. Prejudices, fetishes, kinks and quirks come creeping out of the woodwork.

Or were they always there like the redbrick? And we had just never noticed?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Ticking away

Apparently we’re all short on time. Our lives are so full, so busy and so wonderful that we no longer have time to – well do anything.

There was a time when our mothers and grandmothers would head out to the market, haggle with vendors and return bearing tiny mangos, lime and maahali. They would sit outside and make jar after jar of pickle. Once a year the children would stand guard on the terrace – mobile scarecrows that shooed away the crows brave enough to inch their way towards sheets of drying vadaam.

Good skin and hair were things that took a healthy diet, weekly oil baths and massages to achieve.

Love was the outcome of years spent peeking through the bedroom window at the boy or girl next door. Or waiting at the turn of your of the road watching the object of your affections head to tuition. It meant spending hours at Landmark finding the perfect card with just the right amount of hearts, puppies and synonyms for love on it.

But who has the time for all these things? Today it’s meal in minutes, better skin in 2 weeks, yoga in bed, speed dating, crash courses and quickies in the elevator. (And if you don’t have time for that there’s always the power shower.)

Now this isn’t some rant to get people back to making pickle at home. This isn’t a call to get back to the good ol’ days. That would mean tights and Doc Martens. And that wasn’t a great look on me - or anyone else for that matter. This isn’t even a call to people to slow down and sample life’s simple pleasures.

All I’m wondering is this. What is that we’re doing that’s taking up so much of our time?

We aren’t in deep Tibet finding ourselves. Reading Deepak Chopra over a latte is more popular than sitting in a commune somewhere eating bean sprouts and not taking any hot showers.

We aren’t spending years training our minds and bodies to be focused and flexible. There’s Meditation for Dummies and Speed Tai Chi for that.

We certainly aren’t sunning ourselves on the back porch and making pickles that are as hot as the neighbourhood gossip. The only ladies who do that are a certain Priya and Ruchi. (And I have a very sneaky feeling that they’re men in safari suits.)

So what’s taking up all our time? Work? Has the ladder of success turned in to one of those giant exercise wheels that hamsters and mice are forever running on? Are we spending so much time trying to get ahead that everything else in our lives has been relegated to the instant category?

So what you say. What’s the harm in jumping the line a bit? Why can’t we find love in a 60 seconds? What’s wrong with looking for beauty in a jar? Nothing really.

But then today morning I spotted a woman on the train reading "A crash course in Paediatrics".
And there’s something very unsettling about that.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Please mind the gap

I-pods. Cell phones. Burberry. Blackberry. PDA of the electronic and human kind.
Reports that were meant to be read last night, skimmed through while trying to peek the headlines on someone else’s Daily Mirror.

If you can overlook the unscheduled stopovers at Willesden Green. The signal failures at Farringdon. And line closures on weekends which can leave you marooned at home, travelling by tube can be rather wonderful. The people watching alone makes up for a 30 minute wait at Kennington.

There are the Japanese women. Poker straight black hair, perfectly tweezed eyebrows and smooth, poreless skin make these women a delight to watch. Whether they’re dressed in severe black suits or jujube coloured leggings and bizarre t-shirts you can be assured that the bag dangling oh-so-casually from their arm will either be an Louis Vuitton or Gucci.

The young couples surgically attached at the lips, hips and every other joint and crevice of their bodies. One such pair had me examining a wad of chewed gum on the floor from Finsbury Park to Heathrow. That’s more than 14 stations. It was either discover the myriad textures of used gum or discover the myriad kissing techniques of East European backpackers.

The City types in black, navy blue and charcoal grey. Pin striped perfection with suitable arm candy – sudoku, the FT/Economist, palm pilot or an Ice Blonde Consultant.

The second and third generation Asians with their mocha coloured skin, pierced noses, bleached hair and low rise jeans. Not all that different from their cousins back home till they open their mouths and out spills a torrent of in-nits, wassats and other words that have made half the alphabet redundant.

Ageing parents from the sub-continent out to see the sights of London. Men in heavy jackets borrowed from sons pouring over maps and trying to make sense of new fangled cameras. Women in bulky sweaters that clash with their silk saris, feet encased in woollen socks and brand new Clarkes sandals. They look out of the window on the overline. Gazing at the never-ending stretch of identical, grey, Dickensian suburbs. In the dark of the tube they try not to stare disapprovingly at the cleavage bearing, body pierced youths and draw them to their husband’s attention with an indiscreet foot nudge. Only to be snapped at and told to look out the window.

Sleek Somalis women in their fake Dior headscarves and bright skirts. Ruddy cheeked Germans. English roses. Asian lilies. The tube is perhaps the best representation of multi-cultural London.

But one person from all my train journeys stands out in my mind. It was on the way to a play after work one night. I was on the Circle line to Sloane Square. The train had been emptied of the rush hour madness and there were but a few of us in the compartment. An old Englishman stood by the door in a suit that looked as tired as he was, holding a Guinness in his hand. His cheeks were bright red and he had what seemed to be a bad cold. Till I noticed that he was crying. Every now and then he would take a swig of his Guinness and fresh tears would course down his cheeks. Everyone in the compartment would look at him and then look away lest he tried to off load his tale of woe on them. Everyone was thinking the same thing - Why was he crying? Remembering his dead wife? Thinking of the daughter that didn’t call anymore. Maybe he just had a few more months to live. Or maybe it wasn’t anything so dramatic at all. Perhaps his favourite team had lost another football match.

I always keep an eye out for the old man on the Circle line. Silly I know. I’m not sure why I do it. If my life was a movie I will see him again a few months from now. Laughing and talking with his young daughter. Holding hands with a his wife (how pessimistic of us to think that she was dead). Or maybe drinking another beer and celebrating his team’s 2-0 victory.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Careful what you ask for

Her ‘best friend’ from college was visiting (perhaps only women will understand how much meaning those single quotes contain). The house was cleaned. The 300 count Egyptian cotton sheets were brought out. The air was heavy with the fragrance of fresh lilies. The children looked their doll like best and her husband’s nose and ears were carefully pruned. “Remember to be very romantic when she’s around” she instructed her husband. Her friend came.
And left with her husband in tow. “You’re the one who told me to be romantic” he reminded her.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Happy Deepavali!

To all the NRI's, POIs and other strange abbreviation people out there who are wishing they were 12 years old and stuffing their face with jangri. And being cajoled by Amma to take sweets to the crotchety old widow next door and spend some time with her. Who wish they were watching inane petis of Ilaiya Dalapathi so and so. Who wish they weren't sitting in front of a computer in an office thousands of miles away from home. Happy Deepavali. I feel your pain. :(

Monday, October 31, 2005

Screw it

If God and my husband (the two being separate entities, in spite of what Indian culture would like me to believe) think that they can dampen my enthusiasm for furniture and novelty candlesticks by sending a wayward shoe rack my way – they can think again. Allow me to explain.

We shifted house over the weekend. While our previous semi detached had a wonderful garden, 2 spacious bedrooms and a cupboard that housed all my 51 pairs of shoes (yes 51 – that’s not much if you think of Imelda) it wasn’t all that well acquainted with 21st century heating technology. So while my ballet flats were nice and warm in their tissue lined box, my tootsies were freezing. So move we did to a brand new flat with heating, lovely beige carpets and absolutely no space for my 51 babies.

So after moving in all Friday and most of Saturday, I decided it was more important to have a shoe rack than a fully functioning kitchen. So off we went to the local catalogue store and bought ourselves 1 nos. shoe rack. Flat packed.

Now my experience with flat pack till now has been of the Ikea variety. Easy to read instructions. That funny key they give you to fit it all together. Apparently it’s not caught on in the flat pack world.

This flat pack had more instructions than an RSS manual and told me I’d need a screwdriver, hammer and something else that sounded like bidawal. I think. Of course we had none of the above. Since it was too late to go out and buy them I thought well this is a good time to get out that Swiss Army Knife. The only other outing it’s ever had from my bag is at airport security checks when it makes the alarms go off.

Now while it did have a screwdriver – albeit a tiny one it had neither a hammer nor the other whatchamacallit. So armed with a stainless steel karandi (ladle) from my kitchen and a pair of scissors I began to put the damn thing together.

It took me 4 hours. That’s 240 minutes of trying to get bits of wood pulp out of my hair. A sixth of a day spent telling a thingamajiggy apart from a you-know-what it’s called (By the way, I still don’t know what it’s called). Precious seconds spent swearing, frowning, looking at things upside down and swearing some more. And after all that what do I get?

A shoe rack that stores only 16 pairs of shoes.

Friday, October 28, 2005


They're everywhere. Stacked under my bed. In the back of my cupboard. Lodged under History on my computer. (frequently cleared so my husband doesn't see) They send discreet mailers asking me to sign up - models revealing tantalising glimpses of what's on offer. When it's late at night and I can't sleep I sneak downstairs and watch it on TV. Sometimes for hours at a stretch. I know I can never have any of them – not even one. But I just can’t help myself.

It’s sad but it’s true as someone once sang, but I’m obsessed. (ok so someone didn’t sing the second bit – that’s my own addition.) There isn’t even a support group for people like me. And what would we say – ‘Hi! I’m so-and-so. And I’m a home décor addict?’ (This is probably where most of you lift your minds out of the gutter and realise that I’m watching Grand Designs and not Well Hung Downtown at 2:30 am)

But in a way – home décor is my porn. Till now, I’ve never really told anyone about it. I mean what would people think if I told them how my hand’s get sweaty at the sight of a Smeg Fridge. That my husband wants to commit me for getting so excited at the sight of an art deco mansion. And at the newsstand they get uneasy when I stand there, glassy eyed, gazing at row upon row of Home Décor Magazines (which might have something to do with the fact that all the lads magazines are stacked right above them)

So you’re thinking – how dangerous can an addiction to home décor be? Financially it can be crippling. I mean the number of must-have vases, tribal-chic place mats, enamel milk jugs and brass odds and ends I already have and continue to purchase every month is staggering. And men don’t like the idea of women getting excited in bed about some guy called Terence Conran. They also don’t understand what the fuss is about. To most of them (except the gay ones) there is no difference between Mies Van Der Rohe and Terence Conran. A coffee table is just a coffee table. It’s similar to women not being able differenciate between Jordan and Jodie Marsh.

It also breeds envy. When I go to someone’s house for the first time I no longer interrogate my husband about whether he thought the women their were prettier or smarter than me. The conversation usually goes something like this.

Me (trying to be nonchalant) So… what did you think?

Him Great food

Me And her…

Him It was really nice

Me Better than mine?

Him I’m not saying that

Me Don’t lie to me! I saw the way you were eyeing her… her side cabinets.

I then burst in to tears and refuse to talk to him for the rest of the night.

I sometimes try and go on cold turkey. I don’t take the magazines up to bed with me. I put all the channels on child lock. I give all the magazines for recycling. But I’m usually back to my old ways in days.

This time round, I decided to take up a hobby – you know find a passion that would divert my attention. So I thought exotic cooking! It’s therapeutic, I can eat the end result (leather sofas really don’t taste good) and it’s not as expensive as my other dirty little secret.

So I went to the John Lewis the other day to buy the basic things I would need for my new endevour. The range and variety I saw was staggering. The colanders. The frying pans. The cutting boards. The wine racks. And the books. Oh the books. Slender
Italians. Cheeky English Country. Sensuous French. Brassy Americans. Exotic Indian.

Who knew cooking could be so… exciting?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


October 26th, 2005 is Blog Quake Day. Desipundit is calling out to all bloggers 'to make a small post about the earthquake, and direct your readers to a suitable avenue for donating to the relief efforts. '

If you're in the UK head to to donate. £15 can buy 4 blankets that will keep someone warm in the winter months to come. If you're a blogger do put up a post and help spread the word.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Ah crap!

Anyone who allows themselves to be described as 'The best advertising copywriter that ever lived' really shouldn't be taken very seriously. And thank god no one in the advertising world does. Apart from a few starry eyed junior writers who have read only HIS ads in the copybook, Mr. Neil French is widely regarded as a bit of a moron.

Neil French - ad guru, 'copywriter par excellence' and ego maniac has come up with yet another immortal line -'They're crap' - i.e women in advertising are crap. This was in response to a question on why women were under-represented among the ranks of sr. creative directors at ad agencies.

A good question - WHERE ARE THE WOMEN? While the number of female junior writers and visualisers is rather high, advertising is predominantly male in the higher echelons. Of course there are highly regarded female creative directors but apart from Ambience Publicis head honcho Elsie Nanji, even I can't name famous female creatives. Something I'm a bit ashamed of as a woman and copywriter.

But is advertising female friendly enough? After a stage it is hard being in an industry that requires you to be at it's beck and call every waking and non waking moment. I imagine it's hard being a mother and having to sit at office till 3 am cracking campaigns. It's not impossible - my fist boss was a woman who had raised 2 boys while rising through the creative ranks. She retired as Creative Director after more than 2 decades of working. But it's not easy.

Among my own contemporaries there are women with a fire in their bellies to get ahead. To become creative directors. To correct the imbalance. And I know they will do it. Because they are immensely talented writers, visualisers - THINKERS. Because they've made a conscious choice to succeed. They are not crap Mr. French, and for you to suggest such a thing - even in jest - shows us exactly why you are not the world's best copywriter that ever lived.

UPDATE Found this great write up by Nancy Vonk, Co-Chief Creative Officer, Ogilvy Toronto via Charu's blog. It says what I would like to but in a far more eloquent manner. Do read it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

ho ho ho

It's that time of the year again! When you leave home for work in the dark and return in the dark. The nip in the air is more like a giant piranha bite and as usual the heating has conked out and the gas company is pretending not to understand what you are trying to tell them. But who cares about all of that when there's Christmas shopping to be done? Tis the season to be jolly and fill up that shopping trolley!

You better not leave your shopping to the last minute this year! Remember what happened last Christmas when you gave your wife that air purifier - we know it still hurts when you pee. Why not try and dull the pain by at our absolutely fantabulous shopping centre. It's just like all the other shopping centres in the country - but better. Why? Because we say so.

Ladies, if you're looking for the perfect party dress we recommend the latest look of the season inspired by Hitchcock heroines - like Tippy Hendren in Birds. Pencil skirts, sharp jackets and perfect coiffures are all the rage. And to be really authentic, douse a bit of rodent blood on yourself and stand in an aviary. You'll be the envy of all your friends.

Men, we know how you love gadgets. How about a new cell phone as a Christmas treat to yourself? You can listen to music, download films, take and store pictures, download crazy ring tones, check the weather and news and even have simulated sex. We're not entirely sure you can actually make phone calls with it though.

Your kids are probably already writing their wish lists to Santa! Don't dissappoint little Mary Sue. Buy her a crying, smiling, laughing, bed wetting, totally life like doll - Pammy. It'll be great training for when she gets pregnant and has a real baby at 13. And little Tommy... what an angel. We have the perfect stocking filler for him - The dummies guide to being a yob and getting an ASBO. There's everything he needs to know about kicking people's heads in, robbing the elderly and setting fire to the neighbours car in it. And it will encourage him to read.

There are loads of other great buys for the family. Adult diapers for your ol' Mum who's in a home because you can't be bothered to look after her. A silver frame for that fab picture of yourself after the face and boob lift to send to your slag of a sister. A learn English in 10 days to give to the secret lover you have in Turkey who's 10 years younger than you are and can't understand a word you say.

All this and much more awaits you at our truly wonderful mall. Plus there are lights and decorations up that are contributing to the green house effect and could cause another hurricane soon. But who cares?We would have made all our profits by then and will be living in hurricane proof houses while you drown and die with all the crap you bought at our centre.

So come soon and avoid the rush! Credit card debt is waiting to embrace you. You're already spoilt children are waiting to become even more insufferable. Another excuse to get drunk and vomit all over yourself is here. Not that you need one.

And after it's all over. and post holiday blues set in - THE JANUARY SALES will be here. But that's in another brochure.


Monday, October 17, 2005

Mirror, mirror on the wall.

There’s something about trial rooms that I just don’t understand. Why do they make people look so damn ugly?

I’m serious. As I get ready for a day out and about shopping, I always look wonderful (and that’s an unbiased opinion). My skin is glowing. My hair looks glossy. My clothes are the epitome of chic (ignoring very rare fashion faux pas). C’est magnifique!

As I glide through row upon row of shoes, bags and clothes I feel as though life could possibly not get better. With my keen eye I pick out clothes that can only make me better. I make my way towards the trial room, and try to make the always-surly attendant smile – a feat that I am yet to succeed at. (Though I’m sure if they got rid of those fake nails and thongs that escaped from the waistband of their jeans – they would be a whole lot happier. But then that’s just me)

As I try on the outfit, a tingle of excitement goes down my spine. Somewhere near my lumbar vertebrae the tingle of excitement turns into cold dread. Because this is usually when I’ve turned around and discovered what my formerly radiant self has turned in to. It’s like those makeovers where the before is so much better than the after (but everyone still hugs and kisses the victim telling her she looks great.)

So there I am. In a new outfit. Looking like something even the cat wouldn’t drag in. My hair looks like it could use botox. My pores look like they’re being viewed under an electron microscope. And everything else just sags.

Does the management not know this? Are they unaware that their mirrors should be in the house of illusions at the local circus? Do they not want people to buy their clothes?

The biggest offender here is M&S. It’s like they’ve lit their rooms to highlight your worst features. And your badly waxed upper lip. Hey people who own M&S – no amount of Erin O’Connor advertising is going to help. No one is going to buy your clothes if they think they look like Sandra Day O’ Connor in them.

Now not all stores have got it wrong. There’s Zara that makes you look great in everything. Even when you don’t. I tried on a lycra t-shirt once at Zara. In the room it seemed to hide all my unsightly bulges and curves. Apparently it didn’t. When I came out to show my better half, he turned around and pretended to talk to a bald mannequin so no one would think he was with me.

Then there are the stores that do it right. Selfridges and Top Shop have never lied to me. River Island is another friend. Fab India back home stays close to the truth too.
So the next time you think you look terrible in the trial room, hold your head high, give the clothes back to the surly, thong revealing assistant and buy a wonder bra instead.

Friday, October 14, 2005

things that shocked me

Here in no particular order are things that either shocked me, surprised me or made me go 'Oh!'

1. Islamic Law states that rape must have male witnesses who are willing to testify that it was rape and not consensual intercourse

2. Charlotte Church's new hair cut got on the front cover of the Daily Mail - deemed more important than the Asian Earthquake

3. The Turbine Hall at The Tate Modern has a new installation by Rachel Whiteread. Called EMBANKMENT, it consits of 14,000 casts of the inside of different boxes. And looks like this. I have decided to ask the Tate to commission an installation of my used tissues. I too believe it will invoke a sense of mystery as to what the balled up wads of tissue contain.

4. The girls in my office apologise for everything. 'Oh Sorry can I borrow your pencil?' 'Sorry but can I brief you about something?' 'Sorry but would you like some Tea?'. But they refuse to apologise for their incompetence and very existance.

5. Sometimes I spend an entire 1 hour train journey thinking about things, but when I try and remember what I was thinking about I can't.

6. Japanese women apparently spend 45 minutes twice a day, so that's 90 mintues ie an hour and a half on massaging cream in to their faces.

7. If you key in the words 'woman and guilty' on - a picture search engine - you'll find that most images are of women stuffing their face with cake, standing on a weighing scale or eyeing fried chicken. The runner up was of women in bed with men - implying that she was cheating on someone. There were hardly any images of women in jail or standing trial.

8. That many of you have actually continued reading this posting in the hope that I may actually have something intelligent to say at the end of it all. Which I don't.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


I wonder what's happening to our right to freedom of speech. Have we become so intolerant of other people's ideas and opinions that we have to resort to hooliganism to be heard?

Read this and the links it points to to find out what I'm talking about.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

purple mohair and other crimes

Ever looked at something in a store on a mannequin and thought ' God I'd look good in that'. So you try it on and in your euphoric bubble of 'I've discovered the look of the season' you convince yourself that this is the closest you've ever looked to Lily Cole or Erin O'Connor. You then proceed to shell out your hard earned money on a pink and purple, mohair wrap that honestly leaves you looking more like a multi-coloured dust bunny than a super model.

So this past Monday I decided it was time to let the world see what a fashion diva I am. That I too could be bold and daring in a country that's given the fashion world geniuses like Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen. So I accessorised my black trouser-ethnic top-red sweater outfit with my very Scottish looking mohair cape. The look was William Wallace meets Phoolan Devi in black chords.

Now all was well till I got to the station. Probably because I couldn't see the startled glances from passers by and the mothers who were shielding their toddlers from the abominable pink snowlady. But the minute I boarded my train, that was when my troubles (as always) started.

The train was jam packed with commuters. I caught sight of a free seat between two dark suited City types, their noses buried in the FT. As I wedged myself between them, my carefully draped wrap looked more like a tent caught in force 5 gale. The noses buried in the newspaper began to twitch, and soon I was shielding myself from a sneezing storm caused by the tiny strands of mohair that had made their way to the middle aged nasal cavities reddened by the autumn chill.

Matters were not helped by the 'I look like a supermodel and have a 3 digit IQ' woman in the sharp suit and original Fendi bag who chose to sit right opposite me. If ever I have wanted to throw myself in front of speeding train, it was then.

The wrap spent the rest of the day in my bag. I figured I'd rather freezethan look like a giant cat that's been violated by children with crayolas. Who knows, maybe blue skin will be the new look of the season.


  • Coloured tights and brown Doc Martens
  • Bermudas that had stripes on one leg and stars on the other. Yankee Doodle gone wrong
  • A fringe/flick/bangs that would not have been out of place in a Cindi Lauper video
  • Green nailpolish that looked like I'd dipped my fingers in sewage gunk
  • A sweater dress that changed my figure from pear-shaped to Coca Cola bottle

PS. If you see a naked, cold, pissed off looking Angora Goat anywhere let me know... I have something that belongs to it.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Errant strand of hair

It was her husband’s birthday, yet it was she who felt older somehow. She looked at the sink full of dishes, clothes that either needed to be washed, ironed or folded; mixed together in a sickening mound of natural and man made fibres. But first – dinner. The fridge was almost empty. A gnarled radish sat forlorn in the corner. Potatoes past their shelf life let out a faint, radio active green gleam. ‘Beggars can’t be choosers’ she thought, hating herself immediately for the cliché.

Maybe she wouldn’t cook tonight she thought. But as she rifled through the take away menus, a wave of guilt flooded her. No she would cook herself, hoping the action would help her gain acceptance in the eyes of all those wives before her. Women who had set the bar far too high for her petite 5 foot 2 frame.

Proceedings were slow in the kitchen that night. The radioactive potatoes began to look like nuclear waste as they boiled, and her recalcitrant pressure cooker refused to open. After an hour of simmering and sautéing, she settled down in front of the tv, meal on lap, channel tuned to a hindi serial. She had gotten used to eating with the cast of weeping bahus and tyrannical saasu-mas.

Meal and melodrama over, she looked with dread at kitchen sink. ‘I’ll do it tomorrow she thought. Who says they have to be done tonight?’ She waited a moment, almost expecting a benign spirit to pop through the woodwork and state that one of the tenets of being a good housewife washing the vessels every night.

She trudged upstairs to fold and hang the clothes up to dry. She looked at the guest room bed, and could hardly make out the silk duvet under all the clothes. As she sat folding and sorting them out, she felt that first ominous pang of emotion. She was going to cry. She swallowed the lump in her throat and began hanging the clothes out to dry on the radiator. She felt the first tear roll down her throat and knew it was useless holding the others back. She sat on the edge of the bed, the damp baniyan in her hand and sobbed. She didn’t know how long she sat there like that, crying and wiping the tears away with a freshly laundered sock.

The feelings subsided. She washed her face, brushed her teeth and oiled her hair. Tucking the unnamed emotions away as one would an errant strand of hair.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

On a pedestal

When I was growing up I had no role models – well no famous ones at least. There were no posters of sports stars and celebrities who inspired me – though I am ashamed to admit Akshay Kumar adorned the back of my door for a brief period. (An episode I can only blame on the effect of artificial food colourings on a child’s brain). Back to the topic at hand though.

I did have role models in my family though – I admired my sister’s dedication to her studies, my father’s cool head and my mother’s way with people. There was the uncle upstairs who could identify every raga known to classical music and a Sanskrit teacher who was the epitome of knowledge and goodness. But I wasn’t one for knowing what was so-and-so’s favourite food, what what’s-his-name’s dog was called, or how many shoes her-name-fails me had. But that was just me I guess.

While the rest of my generation idolised sports stars and the odd thespian, today’s children look up to a whole host of pr-savvy, media packaged stars from every field imaginable. Footballers and their wives are revered and worshipped everywhere. But how accountable can we hold them?

After their recent Ashes victory the England Cricket team went on a 24 hour partying binge. The papers splashed pictures of a red-eyed Freddy Flintoff holding an assortment of alcoholic beverages and cigars, being supported by team mates as he stumbled in to No 10. While most people felt that it was a well-earned celebration, there was a section of the media and public that felt that Mr. Flintoff was setting a poor example to all those kids who thought of him as a hero.

Even more recently, Kate Moss has been all over the tabloids and telly for snorting cocaine and having lesbian threesomes with others of the infamous Primrose Hill Set. The 31 year old supermodel is said to spend £200 a day on coke and her on again off again druggie boyfriend doesn’t help matters. After the grainy images of Ms. Moss snorting lines off a CD were published, the media was sure that her million pound contracts with Dior, Burberry and H&M would be under threat. While the former two fashion houses have not made any comments regarding the incident, H&M initially supported Moss and said that they had no intention of terminating her £1 million dollar contract. But in a sudden volte-face a day later they issued a statement saying that they had had to let go of her as her actions were in conflict with their no-drugs stance. A wise move, as most of their clientele are young teenage girls who already think that Ms Moss rocks.

But is it fair? As much as we all bitch about them, celebs do have a tough time. How would we like it if our every move was scrutinised, our every outfit attacked and every aspect of our life dissected. Would making millions every year make up for having a messy divorce and custody battle becoming tabloid fodder? Should a role-model status be foisted on celebs who – lets face it have no business being role models? I mean seriously, other than being blessed with great cheekbones and a photogenic face what has Miss Moss got to teach kids? It’s the media that makes these celebs out as demi-gods and the same media that snatches the pedestals away from under their rather fit rear ends.

It’s hard enough being a teenager today. For many of them, as sad and pathetic as it sounds, these celebrities are the only people they have to look up to. But who should we blame? Celebs who don’t take being a role model seriously? The media for
over–hyping anyone with a modicum of success in their chosen field? Kids for not being more discerning in their choices? Or parents for not providing their children with someone to look up to closer home?

All this makes me very grateful for the role models I had growing up. I know their birthdays, what their favourite food is and till date none of them have had a not-so-secret drug habit. Thanks for not screwing up Mom and Dad.

UPDATE The media frenzy continues...all the tabloids today reported that Miss Moss has been dropped by Burberry, Chanel and possibly Vanderbilt Jeans. The head of the Met POlice Sir Ian Blair wants to get personally involved with a case investigating her drug habits, and social workers are going to see whether she's a fit parent or not. 'Cocaine Kate' and 'Kate Cracking up' are the buzz words of the day...

Monday, September 19, 2005

Sign up!

Ok people! Get your wallets out for this

Time to do a good turn for someone else and stop stuffing your face with croissants!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Biologists around the world are rejoicing at a new species they have recently discovered.

Lollipop (Bimboentess Anoerexius) Found predominantly in hilly areas, these creatures are believed to thrive in the sunshine and are attracted to excessive amounts of attention. Attracted to sudden, bright flashes of light they can be spotted by excessively large, often empty heads and disproportionately stick-like bodies, hence the name. Their food habits puzzle zoologists, as they seem to eat nothing but air.


The sun plays hide and seek
Perma tans melt
Revealing strawberry and cream freckles
Turtle necks creep up slender throats
The brave, foolish and hopeful shiver in their cotton garb
Ignoring the uninvited guest that stands at their door

Monday, September 12, 2005

When you're detoxing each aroma inhaled assaults the senses like one of Govinda's yellow and purple outfits. After a weekend of binging on every evil known to weighing scales and hips, I vowed that every Monday would be a day devoted to cleansing my system with fresh fruit and veg. Now the wisdom of doing this on a Monday is - well there is no wisdom. I'd bought enough fresh fruit to win the Guinness book's biggest fruit cake record, and god dammit I was gonna eat some fruit.

So Monday morning dawned dull and overcast as it is want to in this part of the world. As I reached for the filter and carefully rationed Leo Coffee Powder my slumber laden eyes caught sight of this sign that my own treacherous hands had penned. 'hot water + lime + honey in the morning :)' As I fought the urge to wipe the grin off the smiley's non-existent face, I gulped down then concoction through gritted teeth. A feat that deserved a Guinness Record of it’s own if you ask me.

An hour and a banana later, my week had gotten off to a wonderful start. A headache was buzzing around me trying to wangle its way through my nose (My headphones effectively blocking out the most natural entry point). However it was as I entered the bowels of the London Underground that my half full bag of woes began to get heavier and heavier.

Chicken sandwiches began to smell alarmingly tempting. Not good for a life long vegetarian. Every coffee, latte and espresso in a 10-mile radius had my mouth watering. (There’s a poster of me up on the tube as a Dangerous Pervert who gets her jollies sniffing other people’s cappuccinos.)

I had to run to my platform to escape the call of the Danish Pastries at King’s Cross. They sat in rows, tarted up like mermaids singing out to sailors whose fate was already doomed.

I clawed my way to a seat and wedged myself between two other commuters. I regretted it immediately as I found myself surrounded by bagels, wraps and subs. I was a gladiator trapped in a calorific Coliseum. I took a big defiant bite of my apple. (Which kind of looked like a donut at the time)

The rest of the day passed by in a blur of pears, seedless grapes and caffeine free coffee. I’m ashamed to admit it, but every time I felt a salt craving I sucked my thumb (Now my colleagues think I have suppressed childhood traumas that are manifesting through finger sucking and the Telitubbies screensaver on my computer)

So here are my top tips for detoxing:
1) Lots of fresh fruit and veggies
2) Drink enough water to have to pee every half hour
3) Use your imagination! If you’re really creative you can make a cucumber look like a Frankie 4) Distract yourself when your feeling hungry. If you tear your hair out trying to Sudoku your hunger will seem trifling compared to a bald patch

Now excuse me while I stock up on some chocolate flavoured lip balm.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Studio 55

Saw this on Prufrock's blog and thought it would be a fun thing to do. Here are my 55 word short stories.

Fear 1

Her skirt billowed behind her as she walked home. The first tug at her skirt made her think of the drunk at the station. She walked faster. The second tug made her whirl around, ‘bastard’ threatening to slide off the tip of her tongue. Nothing but empty space and the hem caught in her shoe.

Fear 2

She hurried along the alley, the overflowing bin a safe distance from her nose. She realised too late that she had left the front door open to axe murderers, rapists and the boogie man. The rest of the evening was spent downstairs, jumping at every moaning pipe and rustling tree. A knife under the cushion.

(Both are 'based' on things that have happened to me. Yes I'm a scaredy cat. And yes. I'm stupid)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Of kozhakattais and paper umbrellas

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi people! This is one of my favourite festivals! Kozhakattais being only one of the many reasons why.

I have some lovely memories of Ganesh Chathurthi. When my Grandmother was living with us, I remember her frail frame swathed in a nine-yard cocoon of silk. She would sit on the kitchen floor and make her famous sweet and uppu kozhakattais, making delicate petal shaped cases for the sweet and savoury fillings. My sister and I would pester her and she would reluctantly agree to let us help. Our own cases were either too thick or too thin, but she would always include them in the pressure cooker telling us that they were just fine.

I remember going with my mother to Madavidhi in Madras and picking out our mann-pulaiyar and colourful paper umbrella to stave off the opressive heat.

I remember the giant puliayar statue in my college courtyard (I went to an unashamedly hindu college) that we would chat with every morning before heading to the day's first lecture. The day before chaturthi we would have a big puja and all of us would head back to class clutching sweet boondhi and some mixture.

I remember my first visarjan day in Bombay. I had no idea why people were packing up at 12:30 in the afternoon and getting ready to go home. A colleague dropped me under the Mahim - Bandra flyover and I remember walking home passed throngs of people carrying Ganeshas of all shapes and sizes, shouting out an unheard slogan 'Ganpathi Bappa Morya!'

I remember a year later, driving home from an office party on visarjan day and watching the famous Lal Bhag Ka Raja being escorted to his watery abode. It's a sight I will never forget. It was about 2 am and there were thousands of people lined along the road side waiting for their beloved saviour to give them darshan. The float itself was gigantic. Priests walked alongside it distributing prasad to the devotees.

This year will give me no memories of floats and kozhakattais. There will be no Nepean Sea rd Ganpati Mandal playing songs and dancing outside my window at 2 am. But there will be the memories of all the Ganesh Chaturtis gone past to give me comfort. (And Sundal and paysam that would have made my paati proud)

Monday, September 05, 2005


I try not to hate Monday mornings... really I do. So when I woke up today with a splitting headache, I told myself 'Don't blame Monday, it could have happened any other day of the week. Relax, today will be fine.'

I trudged downstairs for my morning shot of caffeine. No disasters there. And then as I looked through the kitchen window I noticed it. Rain. In the night. And all the clothes I'd forgotten to bring inside drenched in it. Crisp white handkerchiefs drooping under the weight of the absorbed water like forlorn peace flags.

'Take a deep breath. Do not flip out. It's ok.' I repeated the mantra to myself as I wrung the clothes out and hung them inside the living room.

A few asprins and a hot shower later, the ache in my head had subsided to a nagging pain. As I dabbed on the war paint, God and Monday plucked the final straw right out of my desperate fingers. There, on the side of my face the first signs of... pimples.


It's official. I have declared war on Monday. The day no longer exists for me. I have washed my hands of it, like fathers do of libidinous daughters in Tamil films.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Got Milk?

Heard on Radio 4's morning news

" ...and in other news a thief has been terrorising a London neighbourhood by stealing the residents' milk bottles from their doorsteps. The thief sometimes leaves mocking notes for his victims saying 'Fancy your cereal dry?' "

There's nothing like a weird bit of news to get the day going!

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

13th time lucky?

last week, King Mswati of Swaziland embarked on a hunt for his 13th wife and watched thousands of bare chested hopefuls perform the Reed Dance before making his choice.

The 37-year-old is King of a country with one of the highest AIDS prevalence rates in the world -- close to 40 percent of its adults are infected. Not only that, in order to keep his wives apart from one another, Mswati has decided to build new palaces for each of them. The International Monetary Fund has advised the government against luxury expenditures in the face of 'a declining economy, a record high budget deficit, rising poverty and food shortages among ordinary Swazis.' But Mswati said he would continue to spend as he sees fit.

The traditional Reed Dance was videotaped by courtiers so the king could review the participants later (eww). The ceremony has developed a reputation as an audition to join Mswati's household, with a number of previous dancers having been selected as royal brides. But not all are willing participants. Two girls were abducted from their schoolyards without their parents' permission. Mswati, who already has 11 official wives, has another fiancee chosen in 2002 who is still awaiting a traditional marriage ceremony.

Women's rights groups had expressed hopes that Mswati would be satisfied with 12 wives, although Swazi tradition puts no limit on the number a king may select. Mswati's father, King Sobhuza, had more than 40 wives and is said to have sired about 600 children.

I still haven't decided what's the worse thing about this story. Thousands of teenage girls dancing in the hope of becoming 'Queen'. The fact that this man spent millions on his Birthday celebrations and grandiose architectural vision while most of country gets by on about $1 a day.
Or that with the AIDS epidemic staring him in the face he leads by example and gets married every year.

Also I don't see what the fuss is about. I mean look at him.

Update: Before his coronation, the King had to prove his bravery and valour by slaying a lion. A task he readily completed. And why wouldn't he - the poor beast was sedated.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


Wait till you're older

Wait till we move in to the new house

Wait till you get a job

Wait for interest rates to drop

Let's wait for Nitya

Wait till you get a better job

Wait till the next book is released

Wait till the dal is fully cooked

Wait wait wait... I'm sick of waiting. For things to get better, for someone to die and leave me a huge amount of money, for everything that's going to happen to improve my life.

Why doesn't anyone ever say 'Screw waiting! Go ahead and do what you want right now'.

I'd like to go home now. But I have to wait for the rain to stop.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Kaun Banega Cho***ya

As I type this Amitabh Bachchan is hosting KBC2 in a natty black suit, mismatched red hair and salt and pepper beard and lots of charm. Sitting across from him is Mr.Contestant. For Rs. 20,000 the question is

Which of these takes 365.242 days to complete?

A Earth’s revolution
B Earth’s rotation
C Sun’s rotation
D Sun’s revolution

Now after humming and hawing for a very long time Mr Contestant decides to ask the audience.

The audience takes 10 seconds to vote for options B A C in that order.

Mr Contestant goes for option A. The Big B does his Lock-kiya jaye routine and Mr C gets nervous and says ‘No no I will use 50-50’. The Computer then gets rid of options B and D and our dear contestant is forced to remember basic school-level physics.

Faced with Earth’s revolution and Sun’s rotation as options Mr Contestant is still unsure of the answer and opts to call a friend.

His friend after demanding that he gets Rs. 15,000 of his friends earnings for providing the winning answer, takes his own sweet time to offer C as the answer. (showing he fully deserves the money)

This only goes to prove that the people invited to participate in game shows (and their friends) have about the same IQ as Priyanka Chopra did on the night she won Ms. World (Dead sweety dead! Mother Teresa is DEAD)

And here is further proof that game show contestants will never win a Nobel Prize and will probably lose out to chimps as volunteers in brain research programs. (‘No No ex game show contestant. Touch your nose. Not your ass')

From The Weakest Link UK.

Anne Robinson (evil host) Which illness is named after it’s high temperature and red skin colouration?

Contestant Yellow fever

And some more proof…

The Richard Allison Show, radio 2

Richard Allison Which international brand shares its name with the Greek goddess of victory?

Contestant Erm… Kelloggs?

Oh and for those of you wondering Mr Contestant finally chose option A, won the 20 grand only to crash out 10 minutes later.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Sorry honey!

I was moaning to my friend about how I was finding it harder and harder to find space for books in my house. And that if I bought any more books I would have to get rid of my husband to make space for them.

And he asked a very interesting question...

'If you could replace your husband with a book, which one would it be?'

So I ask the same question now... if you could replace a spouse with a book... which one would it be?

Monday, August 15, 2005

Bath tub spas

At $785 a night, The Reethi Rah isn't a resort you'll find on The Backpackers Guide To Male. And as one of The Leading Hotels of the World, it isn't favoured by the jet-set for nothing. It offers manicures and pedicures by world-famous podiatrist Bastien Gonzalzez (though why a Doctor of Medicine would want to give pedis to the rich and famous is beyond me... famous foot fetish perhaps?) The One & Only Reethi Rah (as it is always referred to in hushed revered tones) is most famous of course for it's spa.With Vitality Pools, Crystal Steam rooms, Sauna, Lifestyle Showers and stimulating Ice Fountains (something like sticking your head in an ice box) it's a place where 'time has meaning'. And here I was thinking otherwise.

As a spa junkie, The One &Only Reethi Rah is a dream holiday destination for me. There is nothing that leaves me happier than a good massage, lots of incense and strains of a didgeridoo or some other pagan instrument wafting in the air.

Now as a lowly copywriter, my salary does not afford regular spa trips, unless I choose to not eat for a few months or sell a kidney. So I do the next best thing. I bring the spa home.

I'm a sucker for books about home spas and detoxes. Any hardback book printed on recycled paper that allowed a community of poisonous frogs to survive in the Amazon will have me reaching for my credit car faster than you can say Dendrobates duellmanni. I have a small library that tells me to stew nettle leaves for glossy hair, St.John's Wort (eww) for better skin and Primrose oil for brighter eyes. But since I'm not one of the three witches from Macbeth I take a short cut and go to The Body Shop. God bless Anita Roddick, I hear cauldrons are a bitch to clean.

So now back to home spa-ing. It's easy really. If armed with a few candles (not like the ones we use during power cuts - nice scented ones), natural sounding products that have saved seaweed beds off the coast of Northern Island and funded the IRA and a glossy magazine any one can spa at home!

So on Sunday, armed with all these things I bid goodbye to my husband, left him his dinner on the table and descended in to spa-heaven.

The hot oil head massage (which left my arms begging for a massage of their own) was followed by the hot towel head wrap. Now this is tricky. If the water is too hot it will leave you looking a singed cartoon character, if it's not hot enough it's like wrapping a giant boogger around you head.

So there I was suitably oiled with a face pack on and a rapidly cooling towel on my head. And I took out the home made almond and cashew paste (hey looking good ain't cheap). Since I had a face pack on I rubbed it on my hands and feet. As the fragrance of nuts enveloped me, I had a brief vision of giant squirrels breaking down the bathroom door and trying to eat my limbs.

I followed this with a foot scrub and decided to run a nice hot bubble bath. As the tub filled with steaming water and camomile bath salts, I tried reading this months issue of Living etc. A little hard considering the fact that my hands had turned in to nut treats.

Now when spa-ing it's important to prepare a check-list. And number 1 on that checklist is to make sure that there's enough hot water to fill a bath tub. And as I lowered myself in to the tub I realised that this was something that I had overlooked (one of the occasions in life where the saying 'better late than never' does not apply) After trying for 5 minute to to relax in the luke warm water, I decided to turn the hot water on and wait for for the nice hot soak I deserved. A considirable wait as many of you know. And to pass the time, what did I do? I dumped live Greek Yoghurt on my hair and massaged the rest in to my arms. Not a clever thing to do, as the bathroom was slowly starting to resemble a meat locker - cold and smelly.

After a painfully cold 45 minute wait, I showered in water that was as lukewarm as it had been three quarters of an hour before. The Greek Yoghurt mixed with the lavender body scrub, and the tingling sensation I was promised was more like third degree burns.

So after almost two hours of feeling cold, wet and burnt, struggling with imaginary giant squirrels and trying to put out small fires started by the candles I emerged. The bathroom was a mess, I was no where near relaxed and I exuded a fragrance that was a mix of Greek dairy hand and Naturals' roasted almond ice cream (proximity to candles not advised)

So have I learned anything from this experience? I hope to. I really do. And to help me, I have a fresh copy of Luxury Spa's at Home in my bag.