Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Wedding Campaign- Korean

When we lived in Gurgaon between the late nineties and the mid-2000s, I had a Bengali cook. She was a widow. Apparently she'd been married off to an aging Haryanvi. Although she had no complaints about her in-laws and stressed that she only took on such work to pass the time of day, her story opened my eyes to this sort of marriage in present day India.
We are told, time and again, by the media that the Indian sex ratio is very skewed. While the major blame for this has been laid at the doorstep of supposedly traditional practices like female foeticide, I have heard of other explanations. Be that as it may, I was curious to look at a film from another country which talks about a shortage of women.

The film is a little slow to begin with but that is not, in itself, a major put-off. There is a lot of tenderness, a pace of life so far from the rat race that there is time to chew on a straw and gaze at faraway hills. A farmer, in his late 30s, living with his mother and grandfather, finds that he has to go to Uzbekistan if at all he is to find a bride. And so he and his best friend set off and the film's pace picks up for a while.

We are deeply moved by the naivete of this man as is the heroine although she is struggling with her own issues. There are cinematically breathtaking moments throughout.

Which is why the end is rather abrupt and I wonder why it had to be so.  

Friday, March 14, 2014

A Visit to Finesse Spa & Salon, Aundh, on a timesdeal Steal

In a moment of delightful idleness I chanced upon a timesdeal steal which seemed too good to be true: 
Pay Rs 499 for Full Body Massage/Waxing, Pedicure, Manicure & Threading worth Rs 3400 @ Finesse Spa & Salon

Although in a fairly popular commercial area, the salon is discretely tucked away above a bank and easy to miss. Which is a pity because, once the pretty glass door is opened, you enter a very relaxed, clean parlour. The decor at Finesse Spa & Salon has been handled with a lot of finesse. I was in for a very luxurious experience-a real steal at the price.
First came the threading and I must say I'm impressed that I did not have to wince even once which I normally do several times over when threaded. 
This was followed by waxing, carried out in a little room to one side, clean and functional. The waxing was, again, painless and swift and not at all messy. 

Finally, I was ushered back to the main space and led to a plush and comfortable seat with a large fancy tub before it. This was filled with nice hot water which kept changing colour as it swirled and bubbled around my feet. For the third time in a row I was delighted that the pedicure did not entail anything painful as it normally does for me-the use of the pumice stone by the wrong pair of hands can leave my feet scraped of the very skin and hurting for days to come. Thankfully, the FSS specialist did all her work with care and a gentle touch. I opted for some nice deep blue nail polish as she refused to put a different colour on each nail-a ritual I've adopted after watching Populaire.
As I lounged through this blissful pampering, soothing "Oriental" music wafted over me, emanating from behind the closed doors of the massage room.  
It was time to move on but I'd like to thank these young ladies from the bottom of my heart for making my day!

Friday, March 07, 2014

Bridging "Across Forever"

Married to a freelance film maker, I hardly had any time with my husband as he toiled day and night and most weekends to meet deadlines and chase payments. This was in the eighties and most of the nineties and he had to cover the long, nerve racking, dusty distances of Delhi's sprawl on our old Java. 

With the 2000s, he was settling down a bit but he is restless at heart and, in next to no time, he was back to freelancing after a stint at a desk job.
The times were hard and, when he was selected for an Intergovernmental job in Malaysia, he took it up. I stayed back as I had others to think of for whom the move overseas was not to prove so easy. 

It was something like six months of long distance love and plenty of heartache as, though he had not been home much in the earlier years, something is always better than nothing. I could at least get that bear hug however late he got home at night.

When I was in college, Leo Sayer sang to me
The telephone can't take the place of your smile

Skype love is often more frustrating than soothing.

However, nothing but nothing stands in the way of true love and, with all problems smoothed out, I joined him in Kuala Lumpur where we lived for some five years. Five years in the sweet land of love and gentleness and amazing food! 

Yet, home is where the heart is and India is my home, my heart and the day came when we returned and it was sheer bliss to be back, to be engulfed in the mind boggling diversity, where every sense comes alive, the mind is always challenged by a myriad issues, where a gazillion beautiful eyes sparkle at you even when you are just one in a billion, and where you can see cows on busy highways and monkeys and donkeys and where children can make joyous noise and the neighbour can barge in whenever. This is home! And I love every second of it!

But! Sayer may sing
Honey that's a heavy load that we bear
But you know I won't be traveling a lifetime
 Some people just can't gather no moss and, after about thirty years of being married to him, I can safely say that the man I love cannot grow roots! I enjoy traveling with him, leading a semi nomadic life and never taking tomorrow for granted and I've learned to love his dreams. 

Over the years I've seen my dreamer's dreams come true-a film on this, a book on that, such and such project and so many other things. 
And that is why I know that one day we'll be flying to the land of the midnight sun to get a ringside view of the Northern Lights!

That's how far I'll go to get closer to the man I love. It's my promise to the next solar maxima and to my beloved husband.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Family Adventures in the JNU Ravines

Long long ago, sometime in the mid-eighties, I received massive amounts of documents to translate. My husband volunteered to keep our son engaged while I typed away through pages about Borobudur and Buddhist Art and Architecture. It was quite a satisfactory arrangement but I was curious about where they went and what they did.
One fine day I was free and we three set off on our ancient Java to the nearby Jawaharlal Nehru University Campus. After parking the motorcycle somewhere, we headed off into the wilderness which still surrounds much of the campus today.
At first we trudged through brambles and got all hot and dusty but just as I was at the end of my tether we reached The Adventure! There was an arduous clamber down rocks, well worth the making like a mountain goat for down there was a crystal clear stream. We rested, munched on sandwiches, and sipped on nimbu paani  after wading in the cool waters and splashing off the tiredness. 
As we lounged in the shade, we saw a big owl-a great horned owl I think it was! Even as I type out this account, I chance upon a newspaper article from some ten years after which talks of a Proposal for a National Park on JNU land. Smeeta Mishra Pandey reports that the Campus Development Committee of JNU had "initiated a project to convert 400-odd acres there into a national park for neelgai, horn owls, porcupines, foxes and snakes as part of the Save JNU Ridge campaign. "The JNU Executive Council has also applied to the Forest Department of the Delhi Government to declare a large section of JNU, from the Poorvanchal to Paschimabad area, as reserved forest area under the Indian Forest Act." goes her article where Depanjol Chakraborty, then security consultant, JNU is reported as saying:
I live in a staff quarter near the School of Physical Sciences. Neelgai often walk into the little garden I have in the morning. There were so many of them earlier. We could spot them at all places and all times. But now one gets to see them only in the early hours.
My husband had often spoken of seeing neelgai wander the JNU campus. According to the above quoted article, 
there is tremendous pressure on the vegetation and wildlife on campus from the people living in the nearby slums and villages in Munirka and Vasant Kunj. ``Every evening one sees people returning from the JNU campus with loads of firewood, '' says Prof Mridula Mukherjee, member of the JNU Campus Development Committee.``One can also see cattle returning to the nearby villages after grazing on campus for the entire day. Forest cover has thinned in certain areas of the campus which need to be protected now.''
The article mentions that the ravines are located deep inside the 1200-acre JNU campus, are about 100 ft deep and 220 ft wide and almost inaccessible, making them a natural reserve for wildlife. According to the write-up, 
the trees native to the region includes Khejri (Prosopis Cineraria), Babool (Acacia Arabica), Safed Kikhar (Acacia Leucaphloca) and Dhao (Anogeissus Pendula). These trees do not require much nurturing and grow in arid regions. 
We also saw many exotic butterflies but, alas, we did not glimpse the common palm civet According to another newspaper article
Some butterflies found commonly on the campus are Red Pierrot, Blue Pansy, Common Silverline and Lime Butterfly. The Indian Cabbage White, Painted Lady and Indian Fritillary are migratory, flying 400-500 km from the Himalayas to reach Delhi. 
I think I saw the Blue Pansy that day.
The Hindu reports
The 1,000-acre JNU is also home to nearly 80 species of butterflies, over 24 species of reptiles, hundreds of insects and around 12 species of small and large wild animals including the Indian rock python.
We wound our weary way back in the late afternoon, plucking wild bers, pungent but full of protein. Yet though we were thoroughly exhausted and had lots of scratches all over, this was an adventure I shall never forget and one which I'm grateful my son had access to in those tender formative years.
No urban adventure "parks" and other paid for enjoyments can ever bring to us, man, woman or child the wonders and sense of fulfilment that a foray into wild nature offers.