Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Brand Averse

I remember this from childhood that we Indians have been crazy about Brands. Well, for a long long time in life I thought it was just us Indians. Again, I was so so wrong. It is now clear that the 'brand' craziness exists in most of the world. 
Whether you as an individual endorse it or not you are constantly surrounded by the brand favoritism that happens all around you. 

I guess the first time I became conscious of the existence of brands was back in school and it all started with whether one owned a pair of 'branded jeans' - a Lee, Wrangler or Levis became the claim to fame for every tom, dick and harry. I remember those those who didn't own this covering the waist of the jeans just so they did not reveal the non-existence of a label.

The next obvious one to follow was a pair of branded shoes. A Nike, Adidas or a Puma was such a cool thing to have for the teens however the parents didn't understand why and how a pair of shoes would cost as much as it did. 

The present world has taken the brand favour to a whole new level. 
It took me a while to digest the fact that a 'mulberry' handbag that was gifted to a friend had to be serviced every 6-months. A handbag that had to be serviced. Right! And to top that it came at a cost more than a round trip to India. 

As I sit to write this down on my couch in the living room I look all around me and see how little I possess things that have a label on it. I am NO Saint, I do pick things that are branded, but the reasons why I pick them are not because of the 'name tag' that came with it - it's more so because of the 'price tag' being it's worth. 

I do own a few things with big names but if I come to think of it. How can I hide the fact that I am still very much in love with my 'iPad' and my 'Canon' DSLR and did I mention the extra lens kit I have with it.  They were all gifts. 

A recent conversation led us into talking about this friend's wedding gown that would take 6 months to be made and is shipped from abroad. What was that was a common cry from all of us. However one of the other friends had to say how not fussy she is about wedding wear/occasion wear and would pick anything straight from the shop -of course like a sabyasachi or a neeta lulla. I had nothing more to say after that. 

Unfortunately, we seem to be judged by what we own, what we wear and what we are carrying. I look around me now, my photo frames are all collages made by me - some of our travels and the years gone by and the other a huge one of the wildlife pictures we clicked in Kenya. I have a painting made by Amma and all others are made by random street artists in different places.  The handicrafts are made by local artisans and were picked from street markets. 

Today, I don't have much to show, but I am content. Something about the source not having a 'label' makes me more happy and grounded. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

There's always a first time for everything

Sometimes, Only Sometimes I am in this state of mind where most things with respect to bitter-sweet life seems perfect. Hold on, I haven't got into the zen-mode yet, but in the past week or so I have noticed this calmness which I am so pleased and thankful about. I wanted to record this hoping that during those crazy turbulent times which by the way happens on the majority of the days in the year, I can read this note and remind myself that after every bad there will be good and after every storm, a calm. 

There is absolutely 'Nothing' happening in my life at the moment. The morning is taken over by mid-day and evening and night and it seems to be on a repeat mode without a shuffle. Well, I suppose you cannot shuffle night to day anyway. Things are 'Not' at it's best - work wise, personal life, plans in life and so on and so on. I have little or nothing to say about my previous day on my daily call to Amma. Days are rolling by at the speed of light and I dont seem to recollect what git me occupied in the past week. The uneventfulness of the situation is written all over and shouts a big 'absolutely nothing happened' to me when i try to remember the past weeks. Yet! There is a tranquility in me which is a rare rare thing. I always thought I just cannot sit quiet, stay calm, be at peace. I was convinced that I was born without the genes that makes one be that way. 

I am packing my days with little things that makes me happy and I am surprised to see these little things had never made it to my list of things that I enjoy. If I ever decide to spell them out, people would be sure that I have lost it and the signs I had shown before were true. Plain simple things are such joy and this has always been my takeaway from life. Who recollects a ponsy moment more than a down to earth one? Not me!

For the first time, I didn't panic for not having the flow to write. 3 weeks gone and not a word written didn't make me jump into writing for the sake of absence. I was perfectly at ease, I read many many blogs in this space of time and marvelled the way they were written. All the ones bookmarked are either simple personal blogs or food blogs. Some of them are amazing.....it's made me drop all the books I was reading trying to read. 

Looking forward to a good hindi movie is something I have done for ever. A couple of days after having watched the movie '2 states', the hubby brought it up all out of the blue in between a random conversation that the movie that we watched the past weekend was 'good'. His words ' I too had a lump in my throat in a couple of scenes ' just cracked it for me. I had a big grin...this was the moment when I could confirm that he is now a Hindi movie convert, from watching none at all to casually asking what's on the movies, to actually liking it and best of all looking forward to the next one. This is a huge success to the huge huge Bollywood buff in me.

Zumba! The latest thing that has gotten into me. Love the music, the dance, the attitude and most of all love the pain...you know the good sorta pain? That. I admit being a Miss.Two-Left-feet but have enjoyed these sessions immensely. I am also beginning to believe this is doing a better good to my body than just running which I am trying to sneak in at least 1-2 times a week. 

Beginning to care for the few pot plants that we have started to grow is another big surprise. I was sure that I must be some kind of an expert in killing plants, but these little ones have not only survived me for a couple of months, but are in full bloom. What joy!  Like I believed that the advert which said 'plants come to my home to die' was made just for me, beginning to believe I can change that. 

So...basically I am trying to collect Life's little moments and making it count. 4 days of leave now and for the first time again, I have plans...new ones, weird ones and it's all going to make this 'MeTime' completely worth it....Fingers Crossed. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Empty Streets

A couple of weeks ago I made an overnight trip to Geneva for a client meeting. I had resigned myself to a trip that would include an evening of staying in the room and preparing for the next day's meeting, going through the documents received and clearing the inbox which was long due.  I had looked forward to a short stroll in the city either pre or post dinner to brush against the new place, new streets, new people that travel brings with it, something that I enjoy doing irrespective of where I go. 

Little did I know that my hotel was booked in a little town in France that was no where close to the city we are talking about (Geneva borders France and Switzerland). This place, Divonnes les bains in which most letters will be skipped if I plan to pronounce it was at the foot of the hills which overlooks the mightly Alps far on the other side of the spectrum. We drove many miles away from Geneva to reach this place and the closer we got to the destination, the absence of activity, of people seemed to take over the landscape. 

I checked into this hotel, well, studio apartment and from my little cold balcony I saw a pristine steam with trees and shrubs and a cute little bridge over it. How picturesque, How Europe! 

I didn't think much of it to be honest as I was happy to know I have wi-fi access which worked the first time I tried it! I got busy in my preparation for the meeting, I had 3 other documents in my inbox waiting for my attention. I also caught up with my colleague to discuss the plan of attack ( sometimes planning a pre-sales meeting makes me feel like planning for a win, No! a war...well, you know what I mean!). The colleague was pleasant but clearly disappointed that beer was served in a whiskey glass. Let me not discuss anything more of what his thoughts were or mine :) 
Yes! For a non-beer drinker that I usually am and for the German-beer-drinker that he is we both settled for beer in France which is so very wrong!

Having completed the 'work' for the evening, I decided to take a stroll in this little town...village? ...the place. 

A 2-minute stroll to the center of the town got me to a church facing a square and some weirdly random shops around - a boutique, a barber, a sushi restaurant and a shoe shop...

A little stroll from there gave options of a creperie, a patisserie - which got me convinced I was in France.

There also was this token Indian restaurant which I dared not to visit.

A few people - lets number - may be 10 in total were walking about minding their own business, in fact like as if they were in a hurry to catch a train or something. I wondered what was so 'busy' in this little place.

I was awing on the sight of the perfectly golden crowned, snow covered Alps at a distance and refrained clicking any pictures on my mobile as it would have done no justice to nature's beauty. 

I took a left here, a right turn there, walked straight ahead somewhere crossing random things. And just in the non-dramatic setting were things like this and that and the most surprising of all  - A Casino! 

Well... I thought the emptiness of the place, it's streets would make my stroll that evening an uneventful one... but the very fact makes me think today. 

I enjoyed the quiet of the place which in a way made me hear my innermost fears, dreams , those wants, the needs and the quiet serenity. I liked the silence, the solitude, the tone of nothing, the noise of peace but I also remembered how I can easily go mad without the chaos of day to day life. 

I can't help but term this place 'Beautifully Dead'.