Feeling like Cleopatra!

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Imagine yourself  in this beautiful hairdo, perched oh-so-elegantly on your head…

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followed by this absolutely stunning neck piece, just closely embracing your neck …

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right down to sandals made out of solid gold, complete with golden finger and toe nails!

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And I am quite sure nothing is going to stop you from feeling like royalty (irrespective of whatever outfit you are wearing)

In awe of Egyptian art and attention to detail…

 

The Chennai Rains – what it taught me!

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December 2nd 2015 – A day I will remember in great detail. And by that I mean like Sheldon – eidetic memory and all that! For the rest of my life! Why? Because I learnt a lot of lessons. Life lessons. Hopefully positive too!

December 2nd 2015 was a Wednesday. A very rainy one. The previous night was a bummer because there was a really long power cut. And we had to make do with no TV, low charged mobile phones for mindless whatsapping, and no microwaveable hot dishes.

Many near and dear ones called us in the morning to find if we were ok, thanks to tv reports, rumors and truth on social media, tamilnadu weatherman forecasts and the panchaangam (traditional methods of hindu astrology). Well, we were ok. We smiled. Reassured people. And stocked up for the rainy days ahead. And then it all began.

Lesson 1 . You think you have a plan.

I surely did. My plan was to live a “simple”life during the badly forecast days of rain. I prepared myself mentally for power cuts. So I had stocked up on provisions that would not be easily perishable (read rotis, dal and eggs). I had my work cut out. I was going to do a lot of written work that did not include electricity. Letters to write (Yes, I have a bunch of pen friends and we write to each other the pen and paper way), assignments to prepare for and the like. Priding myself on being ultra organised, I was relaxed that Wednesday morning.

But what did I really learn?: I thought I was preparing myself for a simple life. Turns out my version of simple was not simple. I should have thought minimalistic. Couple of hours down the line – I had no thoughts of food perishable or non perishable, no fancy words to write in my letters, and no creativity to showcase in my assignments. All I was thinking was how to creatively salvage what we could and how to get out of my house.

Lesson 2 . You think you are connected.

John Donne said ” No man is an Island” More so in today’s world where we are connected through Whatsapp groups, private chats, phone calls, Face time, Skype, Facebook, Instagram and what not. And you think that all these will help you in case of an emergency. I can upload on Facebook, tweet about it, send a message in groups  – that’s what we take for granted every single day.

But what did I really learn?: News Flash : You need wifi and there is no power. You need mobile data (Yes all the 3G and 4G the pretty girl tells you is unlimited on TV!) But the network operators decide to shut down. And you are relying on your senile memory to desperately grasp at phone numbers that are just an illusion in your head. Arrogantly displaying your useful as a brick smartphone. Pity, the landline is the only thing that works. But sadly redundant in our heads and homes. Sorry John Dunne. Man was indeed an island on Dec 2.

Lesson 3. You work hard so that you can afford stuff.

You buy a house. And then a car. And do it up well. Look up magazines, hire an architect. Paint it. Lights. A lawn. The works.

But what did I really learn ? : None of these matter. You cannot take them with you. You may have to leave it behind. All of them. The things you waited so many days to buy. Or saved up for. The envy of others. Anything. When I left home – I carried my wallet, mobile 2 sets of clothes, my grandparent’s photos, an ID proof and a couple of certificates. That’s all. None of the books I heavily invested in and thought were the reason for my life. Not the Laptop. Nor the Tablet. Nope. Din’t think of them even once.

In a way – the Chennai floods taught me a lot more. That you are never safe. That things change. That the things and people you thought you could rely on, may not be so reliable. But that random people you din’t think of, step up to the occasion. That people help. That some like to see you struggle. There are more expenses than you imagine.  But it does not seem important in that minute.You are powerless against Nature. Or stupid bureaucracy. That you yourself are not the person you thought you were. You are extremely strong on auto pilot. And can be really more arrogant and self-obsessed than we realise too.

 

Surprisingly, when people were clicking their tongues and enquiring about all the material damage (read vehicles, electronic equipments,cleaning, plumbing, carpentry ) – I feel like I have some clarity. Or maybe I am just zombied out.

Read the rest of this entry »

Reasons why I am single – clarifications.

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This image I observed on Social Media is the reason for today’s post.The whole single – ready-to- mingle stuff. Why is there so much hype attached to it? If someone is single, people are always trying to set you up. People talk to you about :

-The security of a relationship 

– Your biological clock

– having  your ‘own’ family

– a home

– becoming responsible

And woe betide you if you are single and Indian and over 30! Book your package deal with a therapist because you are going to have serious confidence, self -esteem issues. Depression even. Apathy? That’s better than depression. Seriously.

But wait. Talk to people in a relationship (read marriage) be it arranged or self made – the list of complaints is not short either.

– I just don’t have the time for myself

– In laws, In laws, In laws

– What do you know about the pressures of raising kids today?

– I’ve been taken for granted.

– I don’t know who I am , really.

– My Hobbies? Interests? What? Are you joking? I have forgotten those long ago..

– Don’t tell my wife/ husband about my outing… Please!

– I have to buy a “responsible” family car not the snazzy one I’ve been saving up for

– Career of my choice? Can’t shift now. Too much depends on me.

– Aah.. those were the carefree days when I was single. 

Sounds familiar? Well, I don’t understand. If you are single , you want to be in a relationship. If you are in a relationship you want to be single again. Or do you just want to be in that in-between- courting stage? What gives? Let me address each issue in the image above first.

1. I annoy people : Yes. I annoy people by being bold and standing up to them. I have thoughts. And opinions. Try to make me understand . I will respect you for that.

Yes,yes... it works both ways
Yes,yes… it works both ways

2. I am never anyone’s first choice : You might also not be mine.  Wondering why  Ms. PYTs  Or Mr.Balloon bicep type seem to always find the right person, while you struggle? Funny, when you are strong…

I am hoping this will be the trend
I am hoping this will be the trend

3. I f*** shit up : So people avoid me, as they need someone to cover up for them, because THEY f*** shit up too.

Remove,remove,remove
Remove,remove,remove

4. I am just bad with relationships : People are used to others putting up with their idiosyncrasies, so when I tell it to them on their face, they feel they’ve received a slap. And I have received my share of slaps of this genre too. So, I am just as bad / or good at this as you are.

Sometimes this happens too
Sometimes this happens too

5. I am not liked : I have wallowed in this area for quite awhile. And I am not afraid to admit that. Everyone wants someone to love them and someone whom they can love, so where’s the question of like?- They wanna leapfrog that and go straight for the love part! And you are so brought up to be the person others like. Else you might be considered selfish. Well, I have just one bit of advice – Give as much as you TAKE!

Be free..
Be free..

6. I’m an ugly ass mother-f***er : Body stereotypes. The bane of our lives today. Who sets these standards? Blue eyes. Fair skin. Bronzed look. Long legs. Tiny waist. Short hair. Long hair. Curly hair. Curvy but not curvaceous. Swimsuit body. Be the natural you. Be physically and mentally strong. Respect the inborn strengths of your body. Ugly ass or not .. you will figure out.

Irrespective of gender.. this works
Irrespective of gender.. this works

7. I spend my whole life locked up in a dark room with food and a laptop :  I think food and laptop are better companions than 90% of the people on the earth.

Not so much about the dark room.

And the rest?- books are a better choice! I wanted to use a lot of swear words here. Lalochezia and all that? Wondering what it is? Go read a book!

Learn,absorb, apply
Learn,absorb, apply

Coming back to the whole discussion about being single or otherwise. I have just one thought.

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And then, for sure, it won’t be all paradise. Be prepared to work on it. Put effort. Shed some tears. Raise your voice. But if, at the end of the day – you feel safe in your head and thoughts and the opinions you want to voice. It is worth it.

Peace out!

DESTINATION DUBAI – Souks, Malls, Fun and Food.

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DESTINATION DUBAI – Souks, Malls, Fun and Food.

Talk Dubai – and pretty much any layman would come up with The Dubai Shopping Festival. Season or not, there is tons of stuff to see – be it the lavish malls or the Arabian Nights type of Souks.

The Gold Souk and the Spice Souk are pretty much located within walking distance to each other. When you get there you are actually not prepared for the experience. Once you get past all the touts who want to sell you “original copies” of Chanel, Gucci and Prada – you get into a marketplace lined up on both sides by small stores, selling GOLD.

Shops at the Souk
Shops at the Souk Pic Courtesy : Deepika

First it doesn’t seem so impressive, but then the magnitude hits you- there are so many shops looking like  small departmental stores and their stock keeping units are Precious Gems and the Yellow metal. My friend who accompanied me informed me that during the shopping festival – the pavements would be lined with gold and gold ornaments on display. Just easily lying there ladies and gentlemen – one of the most precious metals in the world. For the ever photo savvy tourists – you can spot a golden dress , a 5 kilo gold ring that holds a record and just loads and loads of gold. Selfie anyone?

Sheets of Gold
Sheets of Gold
Outfit of Gold!
Outfit of Gold! Sorry for the glare😦

Close on the heels of the gold Souk is the Spice Souk – just the most brilliant place to get any kind of spices be it regular or exotic. Cardamoms, Raisins, Pistachios, Almonds, Dates … and then crazy combinations. Dates stuffed with Almonds? Check. Crispy,salted Pistachios. Check. Roasted Cashews? Check. Vanilla pods? Saffron? Green tea. Chamomile buds. Check. Check. And check. This is a fantastic place to let go if spices excite you, or if you are into cooking. Being a wholesale market it is a good idea to stock up on dry fruits and nuts (as I did) since the prices are also pretty reasonable.

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You walk further down the Market and you can take the ferry for about a Dirham or two per person and get off at Meena Bazaar. A market for all Indian items. You have to stroll around , pick and choose – but when you decide to buy something it is a decent bargain.

As against the Souks, the malls at Dubai are a Sightseeing Activity by itself – in terms of architecture , activities and extravanganza. You will find a mini snow land, IFly,  fun activities for kids, sport stores that stretch for miles, and all the brands that you may read in Novels or Vogue. While I was not able to afford anything even if it were on a mighty discount – the malls are a good place for you to lounge in and spend time.

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Oh! Do not forget to stop and enjoy some dessert at Paul’s Patisserie. It is to die for!

Dessert at Paul !
Dessert at Paul !

I personally loved the Ibn Battuta mall – it has an Egyptian wing, a Persian One, a Chinese section and the like, beautifully done and maintained. I loved the mall more because it chronicled Ibn Battuta’s adventures, and it finally put a face to the man who gave me one of my favorite quotes.

My favorite quote!
My favorite quote!

So that is how my Dubai story ends. I hope you enjoyed following it.

(Trilogy ends with this post)

DESTINATION DUBAI – Part 2

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DESTINATION DUBAI – Part 2

THE DESERT SAFARI

If you have read Part 1 of my trip at Sukanya’s Blog (https://sukanyaramanujan.wordpress.com/2015/05/28/guest-post-destination-dubai-by-mathangi-jeyabal/)

– let’s take off from where we stopped last. While locals at Dubai might not really be gung ho about the Desert Safari (they must have done it a zillion times) – as a tourist , it is something that you cannot miss. There are innumerable choices to book a desert safari – right from something that looks really affordable to the ones that make your eyes pop out (are they throwing in a camel for free or what?). Jokes apart – read the reviews and pick the one that suits your budget and maybe a bit more. We went with Orient Tours , and I was happy with the whole experience as you might infer on further reading of this post.

If you fix a slightly upscale option – you get picked up from your residence in the vehicle of your choice (we got a really smooth Land cruiser / you can even opt for a Hummer) and are driven to the outskirts of the city. You pretty much observe the well planned out city’s landscapes fading out as you enter desert territory – arid conditions, prickly bushes and miles and miles of nothingness. You get a pit stop – where you can stock up on some snacks / coffee etc and then you go further into the land of fantastic sand dunes.

You are really not prepared for the first experience of dune bashing as they call it – where your driver simply plunges vehicle et al right from the top of the sand dune till the bottom. Once you get used to it – you secretly start wishing the dunes get higher and higher and your drop gets steeper and steeper. Your driver will stop at half point to let some air out of the tires so as to get a better grip driving up slope. Its no fun when you are halfway up there and realize you are tumbling back down uncontrollably. Its useful to check on the cars that go ahead (there are many of them that stick to a particular route) – to have a fair idea of what’s coming next.

Did the car behind ya get stuck?
Did the car behind ya get stuck?
Steep fall
Tracks ahoy !
Tracks ahoy !

Your tourist and Facebook friendly driver lets you get out at the most photo friendly spots – giving you sufficient time for selfies/ groupfies and what not!

Groupfie time! Random tourists
Groupfie time! Random tourists

The sand surprisingly is not so hot to your bare feet and is almost silky smooth. There are many almost virgin sand dunes, where your footprints do leave the first imprints making you hope it stays there embedded in the sands of time ( wishful thinking eh ?) Kids and adults just go crazy here deciding to climb up and slide down – forget inhibitions and think childhood memories .

Footprints in the sands of time...
Footprints in the sands of time…

Post play time is a visit to the camel farm, a chance to see some exotic, fat lipped “Camelus dromedaries”, lazily chewing something and giving you the shifty eye. They are willing to be petted and photographed with and are absolutely friendly.

Camelus Dromedarius - yep its a camel!
Camelus Dromedarius – yep its a camel!

Your last stop is the actual camp at the desert. As the sun sets, you are under the vast skies , in small tents – you can either put your feet up and relax, or go sand dune sledding, get your hands painted with henna, hold a captive falcon, get a hookah fix,watch some sand art before dinner is served. Sadly there are not many options for the vegan or vegetarian population, but if you like your proteins (read meat) you are in for a treat. The food was good, the activities make you tired and you are ready to call it a day – when you are invited to a treat of some Arabian music, traditional dances including a voluptuous belly dance.

Henna time
Henna time
Dinner is served!
Dinner is served!
This guy did quite a number...
This guy did quite a number…
And so did she !
And so did she !
The sun sets over the desert ... time to wrap up!
The sun sets over the desert … time to wrap up!

. As you get dropped at your residence you sleep well happy in the thought that it was a day well spent.

My next post is about the extravagant gold souks and enchanting spice markets… don’t forget to watch out for this space…

When you go through a networking page…

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I see you going through a networking site

I somehow catch the waves of your plight

As you ponder –

“Is their life a bit too bright?”

“Or is mine just, not quite right? ”

“Why are my finances always so tight?”

“And how come, everyone seems to be in a constant state of delight?”

 

What’s the big deal?

I want to scream

When you sadly draw my attention to the numerous “Thumbs up” on a page

It really doesn’t mean anything

I mean – “Whom do you want to upstage? ”

 

Do people really genuinely feel?

I have to wonder

When they shout and scream in happiness.

True. I wish them no bitterness.

But then, does everyone have to know?

Many times I am embarrassed, but I go along with the flow

 

All you excited shutterbugs ,if I may kindly appeal?

Ugh… pictures of your every meal?

A photo of your broken spiked heel?

A selfie at the driving wheel?

Please-oh-please – let not every aspect of your life be revealed!

 

Sometimes I am so tired of this Spiel

Where your real life is concealed

And I get to watch just the highlight reel.

Yes I do admit.

Sometimes I do wonder and sigh ” Why is my life such an ordeal?”

 

I’m confused. I think. I decide.

I don’t want no one to give me my pride.

I mean – I’ve worked hard. I’ve cried. I have truly, truly tried.

And many an illogical thing, have I taken in my stride.

 

But somehow I don’t want it on display.

“Why do you always keep to yourself? ” – I hear you say

Maybe I am scared, my peace it may steal

Or maybe I am cautious, it may end up my Achilles’ Heel

 

I am sorry. I will continue to be slow.

It’s really not because of my ego.

What I really don’t want to forego.

Is my happiness in watching me grow!

GONE GIRL – Book Review

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GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn – REVIEW

What started as some in-flight entertainment, ended up being a book that scared me about the mind of people – men and women alike. For people who have already read reviews about the New York Best seller “Gone Girl” on Amazon / Good reads – would have seen words like dark genre, thrilling read, and etc .Here are my thoughts on the book.

THE PLOT : Perfect wife Amy goes missing on her 5th wedding anniversary, but only after having organized her traditional treasure hunt for husband Nick Dunne. Nick, the bored male in the relationship, out of a job as a writer, and barely supporting his family by owning a Bar (bought with his wife’s money) – is definitely not in a “ Happy Anniversary” place right now.

With Amy going missing, a nonchalant Nick is forced to turn his attention to her absence, rack his brains for information that would make look less a suspect in the eyes of law. A confused Nick who remembers the “Amazing Amy” he met and fell in love with – is forced to deal with her parents, news that she was recently pregnant, the media, flirty moms who want their share of media, his sister, and the police – all the time wondering – whether he should have put more effort into the relationship. The introduction to Andie – the 23 year old Nick has an affair with, makes us like him even less.

And then a U-turn, Amy is alive. Milking her disappearance to her benefit. Playing a game to send Nick a message that he cannot take her for granted. Or mess with her emotions. A game she has played before. She watches in perverse happiness as her carefully executed plot to frame her husband, unfolds. It is not justice she seeks, but control.

And as Nick senses he is being framed – he counters her every action through his. Some subtle power play and ego we read about here. Amy who is now in the clutches of her one-time stalker, carefully executes another sterile plan – that of murder. She returns home into the arms of Nick, with an effective fool proof story for the media. Cameras flash, the police are satisfied, and the case is closed. But Nick is not satisfied . Neither are his sister and a detective on the force. After all no one can plan a perfect murder. But Amy did. And got away with it.

And while we wait for Nick to be a normal man, who divorces his psycho wife and moves on with life – he stays in the marriage. Because Amazing Amy is pregnant. With Nick’s child. Yes, more devious planning to keep him in the marriage. Before you start sympathizing with Nick – wait to read his justifications and hers for keeping the marriage going. That is something I am not giving away here.

MY THOUGHTS : The book starts of in quite an average manner. Moderately paced, Nick and Amy narrate their versions – each person characterizing the other through their own experiences and emotions. You understand Nick through Amy’s eyes and vice versa. You empathize with both of them in your mind. The narrative keeps trudging along – you are almost bored with the detailed descriptions of their life events.

And then the author does a 180 and steps up speed. Suddenly you are thrown into the vortex of Amy’s brilliance, her cunning, premeditations and patience. Just when you want to support her for not taking the situation lying down – you are stunned by how affected a person can be when they place too much importance on their own emotions and ego. For Amy – till now an above average person suddenly progresses into an unemotional, manipulative person – efficient in planning to kill, be killed if necessary and to ruin people’s lives devoid of guilt.

I quote Amy’s thoughts from the book “I was told love should be unconditional… Love should require both partners to be their very best at all times. Unconditional Love is Undisciplined love …”
And in the words of Nick Dunne “ … I write down everything about her day, her likes and dislikes… I am a great husband because I am very afraid she may kill me. The fact is , my wife is a murderess who is sometimes really fun.

This whole scenario scares me and would continue to if the roles / gender were reversed. Is this a trend in today’s world? Nick and Amy seem like a normal couple who go through the regular hills and valleys of life. Is this how people think now? Are they manipulated to stay in their marriages / relationships? Would they want to kill / frame someone they loved before? Is it all about power play and being in control? Having the last word at all cost?

In a life where we don’t get to choose our families and our own genes – we do sometimes get a choice of our partner. Someone we think might grow to be our soul mate. Granted we are on our best behavior during the courting phase – that is but a normal reaction. We preen, we coo, we coddle, we exhibit the best side of us. But when you end up sharing mind space for a long time, physical space, or even room space – you are bound to let your guard down. You are just who you are.

You know that their best behavior did not last. Maybe it shocks you. Surprises you. Hurts you too a bit. But News Flash : Neither did yours. He picks his nose. You snore. He is sloppy Joe. You whine and nag. No one is perfect. You need not be. For that would be unnatural almost.
Its good not to take things for granted. But to pretend? Lifelong? Is that a solution? I quote the author’s words here :

“ We pretend to be in love… and it feels almost like love sometimes… Reviving the muscle of early romance”

Early romance. The key words here. That beautiful period of discovery. Euphoria and Peace. Fear and Courage. Talk and Laughter. What poets write about. What films are made on. And then it changes? Does it fade? Or change? Or grow? I have no answer.
In true style of the book – here is my Quiz.

If the period of early romance is so special, how do we make it last?
A) Experience the “early romance” with as many people and move on when it fades out?
B) “Pretend” to be in the “phase” with your partner for as long as possible?
C) Accept some changes as growth but keep some silliness going?

What would you do? Have you felt all the things that Amy and Nick felt? Its time to think. Before committing to a person, folks – wait to think. Am I in love with the person? Or am I in love, with the idea of love. Its not the same. At all.

For a person like me – where a book transports me to a different world, where I visualize the characters as someone I interact with or observe – it terrorizes me. Are people like Nick and Amy people on my Facebook List. My whatsapp groups. Do I know them already? I hope to God, I never have to interact with such people on more than a superficial level. Peace out!