October 31, 2008

A Journey . . .

I stumbled upon the Hillman wonder list, and it was truly a wonder. I wanted to travel to so many of the destinations, and I in fact started to count where all I have been to till now. I did not manage to amass a great list, but the motivation to see all that which was available in India, certainly grew.

Let me go ahead and list where all I have managed to visit in a quarter of a century, and it should certainly be noted that all of it is all thanks to my parents, who are very avid travellers. Acha (Dad) has travelled far and wide, for work and also on family vacations. Amma never accompanies on official trips, but nevertheless have gone to so many places especially been partially brought up in Malaysia.

Anyhow, here is the list of all visited places till dateJerusalem Old City, Israel – I went to Jerusalem with my parents when I was 13 years old, and going from a Muslim country, did not create any shock in terms of the Muslim population their traditions and daily prayers. I was more interested in the Jews and their prayers at the Wailing Wall. It was the first time I was witnessing their swaying prayer at the Wall, and it was truly a sight to behold. I even went down to the altar where Jesus Christ was crucified; I have come to hear that this visit underground is not allowed anymore, which makes this even more special.

Colosseum of Rome, Italy – This falls part to my Europe trip after my 10th standard exams. We went on a Cosmos tour, and saw a lot in a short period of time. Looking back maybe now I would not want to do that, but I know that I am so so grateful to my parents for showing me beautiful Europe as a 15 year old! When you see it around the corner, you are so struck by the huge size and broken remains. When you walk in, ensure that you take the walkman tour, which is certainly the best as by me, informative and alone with a personal tour guide!

St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City – The seat of Christianity, the home to the Pope, and a beautiful Basilica is what we see from the St. Peter’s Square. Unfortunately when I visited Vatican City, the Basilica was under renovation, and I did not see it in its true splendour. The dome designed by Michelangelo was visible and also the pillars adorning the square. I need to go back to the St. Peter’s Square to view the Basilica in its full glory.

Sistine Chapel, Vatican City – From the entrance to the exit, you crane your neck, staring at the dimly lit corridors and roof of the Sistine Chapel and marvel at the frescos strewn across the ceiling. The Last Judgement sure topped my list of must stare at items.

Louvre Museum, France – The sheer size (10 kilometres) of this museum will ensure that you spend at least 4 hours in it, and the art, like the only too famous Mona Lisa, which it contains, will ensure another 4 hours.

Eiffel Tower, France – This huge structure in the middle of the city changed from a hideous to the most loved monument in Paris over a few years. The views from the various levels are breath-taking and the best picture of the Eiffel itself can be taken from the terrace of the Trocadero Museum. Another interesting fact is that, if you send a postcard or a letter from atop the Eiffel, the stamp that you get is in the shape of the Eiffel itself. I still have a self addressed postcard from there.

Canals of Venice, Italy – Gondolas, their music, winding canals and the view of Venice are surely one of the most romantic experiences in one’s lifetime. Glass Blowing is also said to be a very refined art which is prevalent in Venice.

Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy – The not toppling and the science behind it is very good to hear from the guides and the guide books. The cathedral of Pisa is also a wonderful architectural achievement, but with a leaning tower it certainly stands no chance with the typical tourists.

St. Mark’s Basilica, Italy – The dome and the bell tower are seen from square of Venice. The artisanship is seen in all the interior works of this Basilica.

Versailles Palace, France – Luxury, royalty, expanse, garden and fountains are what one can hope to see at this colossal palace and its grounds.

Petronas Twin Towers, Malaysia – A city scrapper with a sky walk for a view of the city. Malaysia has very few sky scrappers and hence at any time the view from the top always proves to be wonderful, especially with a dinner to accompany.

Golden temple, India – the most sacred spot for Sikhs is the Golden Temple at Amritsar, and this is once place I travelled with my friend and her family. The lake surrounding it, the temple and the cramped interiors show the Holy Scriptures and devotion. The langar which is the daily meal provided by the Gurudwara, is a meal for all and made by the devotees through the day. The langar preparation is also said to be a form offering.

Varanasi and Ganga, India – The ghats, worshipers, cremation pyres, sadus only add to the most holy Hindu city of Varanasi. The extremely narrow alleys which lead to the ghats, lined with small shops make this city seem to be in a frozen place in time. The sweets of Varanasi and the silk saris are a few of the city highlights not to be missed.

Image: http://www.1worldglobes.com/images/StarterGlobeFSM_2.jpg

October 30, 2008

Airport Security ?

Here, the magazine correspondents relates a story as to how they managed to get passed security at various US airports with the least effort, with banned items, false identity, no identities, wrong documents etc. I do not believe that security is said to be so tight nowadays and yet things like this can happen with so much ease. In fact kudos to them for carrying out such an intensive study on this.

If your security procedures are so technologically oriented and supposed to go beeping and shrieking even for a penny in your pocket why didn’t they do anything for all these said items which could make a dangerous items on board itself! Doesn't that count as being dangerous? Or is only if its in its true and mighty form it shall be deemed dangerous?

Prior to this article, I did not even know about the no fly list and its importance nor how it was being implemented in ensuring higher degree of security ( or so I thought it should be done). The complete no fly list sounds like such a farce on reading this piece. This list of all terrorist activity suspects has been very nicely created. But the fact that it doesn’t get checked at all steps shows that there are so many loopholes to push through for any smart want-to-commit-terrorism terrorists. I am sure they would have done their homework then right?

It is very nicely put that the whole airport security is set up and targeted to catch all the stupid terrorists, but then I really do not think that they are one bit stupid. And moreover, now it also looks like airport officials are just doing a routine procedure and nor ensuring that they do it right always!

October 29, 2008

Change - I

Many a times when you speak with people, you tend to speak about common friends, and maybe in the process also speak about things which were said to you with the underlying understanding that you will not be mentioning the same to others. Unless these understandings are made clear, I think it is difficult to understand what the expected norm is.

It happened to me in the past week that I mentioned to a few of my friends, as a trail in what’s happening, and I happened to mention that my friends are busy with impending career decisions and hence we would be doing nothing much except for the usual Diwali affairs. Now, that it seems is not done at all, as that gives the impression that I am doing nothing as my friends are busy and hence I have no one to hang out with. But, isn’t that the truth also? When my friends are out of town, and I get bored at home over the weekend, everything is fine, but when more touchy issues are the ones gracing the occasion, I am not to mention a word to anyone, all hush- hush! The matter is not that I am not to mention what they are doing, it’s more to do with the impression that this will create about the scenario. I am not too sure whether this is my fault that I mentioned that I was doing nothing particularly this holiday season, or is it that I am not to blame my decisions (of not doing anything by myself) on anyone else, or their plans. Well, if they had nothing to do, then I am sure we would have gone ahead and done some interesting stuff over the four days. Now, doesn’t that make the reason for not doing anything a wee bit clearer?

Anyhow, I am not sure who is at fault, they have their own reasons and I was just bored, and voicing my boredom. I do not know if I was at fault, but I have decided to make an amendment and not speak on anything except solely myself with anyone. I am yet to see what will happen once I start implementing this. I am not even sure how difficult it would be to implement this regime.

October 22, 2008

Official Statements

I came across this very interesting slide show about women's wear and the transformation that it has seen through the years, in line with fashion and also with the nature of work women were involved with through the years.

Some interesting points I saw:

1920: As I infer from the statement, the working women were the only ones who were not wearing corsets

1960: Sexiness is office is what we see from now on, I don't think this phenomenon has changed in any sense, with respect to any profession in today's world.

1970: With the advent of pant suits, I safely assume this was the time when male- female equality battle also started!

1980: There the bold colours, in line with the show of female strength / power at work

1990: I truly think the 90s were the 'short' era!

2000: Stiletto heels, that is the best part of office fashion, wouldn't you agree?

October 18, 2008

Dance Gurukuls

I was looking for some interesting places to go around Bangalore, and not the usual waterfalls and banks of the Cauvery river. An interesting place which I came across is Nrityagram, a Gurukul for various Indian Dance forms. This further led me on a trail to discover all the possible such gurukuls across India. I realized that some common centres for dance schools are the states of Orissa and Tamil Nadu, mainly due to Bharatanatyam and Odissi becoming the most famed dance styles in India. There are some specific forms of Dance which are taught by the great gurus at some small villages and temples; these are usually taken up by very keen pupils especially who wish to advance their present knowledge about the dance and the techniques.

These are some prominent dance schools which I came across in India. Each of them have been set up by a famous dancer and many students enroll in these schools to work towards their passion and simultaneously complete their basic education. Some students who further wish to graduate in Arts, can stay in the school premises and are given complete theoretical and practical knowledge about dance, fts forms, history etc.

Here is a list of famous dance schools in India:

One feature very prevalent in the dance realm is that its still very much a woman's world, very few men venture into this line and very few stay on to gather accolades. I guess something as grace is still considered by the world at large as a woman's arena.

After a comment from Shrav, I thought I should also look into some of the western schools which are famous in India, and I found just very few to start with, and fewer who were into a very long tradition of teaching performing arts like the above schools. These are the few Western schools of interest I found:

The rest are many in number, but not very well known, and not widespread across India.

October 17, 2008

Beyond Arguing

Arguments usually are seen to have quite dire results, one way or the other. Which way would it go certainly depends on a variety of factors, and amongst them I think the most important is whether how close to your heart is the matter being discussed.

  • When things regarding which you have very set notions, or seem to have experience, always tend to make you overdo the ' I know this' a tad too much!
  • Then there are also some occasions when you happen to be very healthily arguing a matter and then you start to feel that the other person is only aimed at shooting down what you have to say! Its not about thoughts or about opinions, its just to prove ' one up' ! This certainly happens to put anyone in a foul mood and then you start to watch the retorts more than what you are saying, and eventually the matter of concern is soon lost.
I have come across some who always seem to maneuver arguments in manners which suit them the best. You say something and a completely different connotation is drawn on what you have said. And in spite of all that, when things do not seem to go their way, they move on to the jovial and ' passing it off' as a stupid conversation routine. When you ask them why they do this joking routine the moment things are not going in their favour, they promptly deny it, and pass along a statement about over reacting! ( I really am not over reacting!)

I am not too sure how I handle these things, well the fact is that I know I handle it terribly. And by terribly, I really mean terrribbly! I just stop the debate / argument and start doing something of my own, something which is usually so unrelated and unimportant that anyone would know that I am clearly irritated. This makes the other person usually pretty bugged, but then I can't be bothered with someone who has time to only listen to what they have to say and not hear something which might just make a wee bit of sense.

Well, it might also be that I am just not seeing the point, or the sense in the point what is being made, and hence that is why I find it maneuvering/twisting of words. At times things do make sense when seen in the wholly sense, but that is not what I would go by. I know that what you would like others to believe have to be right in the worldly sense, but then I am arguing what I believe, what I stand by. I believe that, the argument was started between us, then why dont we just stick with our opinions and view points, why do we tend to generalize to the world, everyone and what not?

I do not know what should be done about such occasions, it truly puts me in a foul mood, and following that I need to virtually pat and kiss myself to cool down....

Something I am very proud of myself for is eventually after a few days, I never ever remember these arguments I have with anyone... Its just a part of some happening on some day, and I have better things to think about now!

October 16, 2008

Fashion Magazines

Today has been a deep down understanding of all women/ fashion magazines which are there in India :D :D It started with a thought to subscribe to Vogue India, then I decided against it simply based on the fact that I wanted to come home to some bit of simple reading and flipping through.

Anyhow, here goes...

Cosmopolitan: Sex talk + faltu + total time pass+ clothes and fashion

ELLE: Something that you can follow- they have a complete array of stuff from music, movies, books - fiction and literary, fashion - obviously , travel, cookery, horoscope, numerology and all that stuff, interviews (usually fashion people). I think the variety is real good, and the fact that there is books, movies, music makes it a more rounded read....and with the fashion centric bit too being there.

Elle is also said to have a good editorial board!

Marie Claire: A little cosmoish with the beauty/fashion dos and don't s, love and career stuff, sex talk, some global affairs ( a wee bit, well I would have read the newspaper if I wanted this) They have some travelogues also, which looks like a real good fun part.

Vogue: Total Fashion for the rich, by the rich. I couldn't really gather whether they dealt with anything other than FASHION. It covers all the fashion weeks and latest trends all over the world. I am not too sure how I would feel seeing everyone so much more rich and beautiful than moi!

Femina/ Women's Era: That's like the home + mommy magazine... tips and tricks, kiddy issues, cookery, family issues, some on going stories in parts, slightly the old line of a magazine.

It has been a fun day... reading loads of sites :) leafing through some online versions.

Image: http://www.renie.com/fashion-illustrator.jpg

October 6, 2008

Driving: Tumbling along

Yesterday I braved out to drive on the road, at 5 in the evening, so I would say that the roads were decently filled but not bumper to bumper traffic. I am not too proud of the whole trip, now that I think about it. The starting was fine, the roads are not cluttered, so I am still doing fine. Now the issue starts when the roads are packed or close to packed and this leads to a form of driving where the vehicles are a bit too close. I tend to judge the distances a little wrong for the normal comfort level. Nothing did happen yesterday, but that is certainly nothing to follow by, as I myself felt that things were a bit too close for relaxed breathing once I had parked the car back at its spot.

Once I happened to take the car a notch too close to a walker by, and the second time around I happened to move in a little too close again to some one standing just at the edge of the curb. In both cases I was within myself, confident I would not touch, but as my friend said, what if the person happens to move an inch to the right or left? That is what I need to start looking in for.

Here I remember the saying that Leos are risky or else (slightly) rash drivers. I was thinking once parked that maybe that is what they meant. I try to take that risk factor a bit too close for people's liking. As they say in this page, we like to take the close call!

But, one thing which I saw that has certainly improved was that I am not tensed, or stiff by just knowing that fact that I am amidst all these vehicles!

October 4, 2008

Whisked Away

I have noticed that in the past few weeks, I have not been giving due importance to Whisky, and she has been very irritated too lately.

Here goes a string of her latest pics!

October 3, 2008

Future of daily wage labour

Most developing nations are seen to be an ideal place to put up production units for all major world giants, predominantly due to the cheap labour which is available. Most parts of the population is trying to move to the towns/ cites from their rural lifestyles in hopes of giving their children a better lifestyle and future. This is has been happening for some years now, and now all of a sudden there is this huge uproar of a shortage of labor in China.

I am not too sure whether the government has an accurate account of the population especially after reading about the Hukou system. This system is very much like a SS system in the US, but a more rigid and region specific. This system does not allow anyone to even travel to another region without a temporary residence permit. How can anyone be required to have a residence permit requirement within one's own country? This would mean that one is ideally only the citizen of a state and not of a country. Here is an interesting read from someone who knows about this first hand.

In 2006, the NY times stated that the shortage in labor in China would end up pushing up the wages and hence make products made in China not the bargain prices which was the case during those times. The Chinese wages/hour in 2006 were alarmingly low at a urban - rural average of just 64 cents, and the present rate is approximately 2.67 USD with 1 USD being spend on living expenses by the workers. These wages are mostly what is seen by a sweatshop worker in the most industrially inclined districts.

We hear that there has been a certain shift in the outsourcing of production work, be it from the car manufacturers or the dress makers, the number of items that you see in a common market place, with the tag ' Made in India' are far more common now. There are so many export rejects which you find at Sarojini Nagar of 'good' brands all available at dirt cheap prices, and all of them carry the ' Made in India' tag too.

On poking around a little more on the web, I came to know that the Indian daily wages are almost 2-3 times what a Chinese person would be getting for the same level of work. India is also seen to serve more in the service market rather than in the manufacture segment, this might also have a very strong link with the higher minimum wages recorded in India. As per the country, there is not a single minimum wage prescribed, but there are some set standards which are set on a state to state or industry to industry basis.

Now with China's increase in wages, the next best option as seen by many are India, even though it might prove to be a slightly more expensive bet than what China was a few years ago.

October 1, 2008

SShhh..... Glum

I have realized that I tend to speak at times to people who are close to me in a manner which I think is appropriate, but they say is completely inappropriate.

Let me explain, last week I happened to bring up something which was supposed to have not been brought up, as I had previously and he had explained himself. Here again I decided that I was not convinced with that explanation, and brought it up. Why? I do not know. Even when I said it, I know that I should not have, but I was just irritated and saying something which gets back was all that I was looking at. It got back, and now I do not know what to do. My friend is real mad, refuses to speak, and has already said I do not want any sorry or anything as its not anger, but just the hurt feeling.

I live with my friend, and sitting in two separate rooms, on our laptops, just meeting in the kitchen, or on route to get a glass of water is not what I like. Its in fact so far from what I even remotely like. I know what I have done was so not right, and there is no question ofa sorry. I am just thinking about anything which is possible so that I can say that I understand what I have done. I take this kind of liberty with some, and it so backfires at me. When I am alert, and very receptive to others feelings, I am always in everyone's good books. The moment I let my guard down, I tend to be a bad person.. I am not sure why. Is it because inherently I am a bad person? Or because I am not caring enough towards those I take to trust and like? I can not imagine that I do not care for them, but I think I tend to believe that I can say anything, and that is where the issue lies.

I need to watch my mouth!