Monday, March 24, 2014

Sweet dreams are made of this


For someone who claims not be a foodie, yesterday morning was a bit of a departure, to be sure.

Well, what can you expect if you arrange to be taken out by one very handsome gent to a poetically beautiful garden where the world's kindest people serve you exotic and luscious foods and ply you with magnetically enticing coffee?

Exactly.

In other words, a grand breakfast which precludes the need to eat for the rest of the day is very much the right answer when everything else in the world is simply too annoying for words.

I dream of smoked cheese! 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Reading: A Dead Hand

With a cover like this, who could resist? Seriously though, it was the Calcutta setting and my wanting to give Paul Theroux another shot after his unlikable My Other Life that made me pick up this book.The story is based on a murder mystery- a dead child turns up in a hotel room, and the hero, an 'aimless travel writer' named Jerry Delfont, is hired by an American philanthropist, Mrs. Merrill Unger, to see if he can use his contacts to discreetly investigate. The corpse is dumped by someone in the hotel room of Mrs. Unger's son's best friend, and the friend Rajat runs away from the scene. So, understandably, she wants to help him out.

A Dead Hand: A Crime in Calcutta by Paul…
This lady, Mrs. Unger, quickly becomes the whole mainstay of the story though. Jerry predictably becomes infatuated by her beauty, her goodness, and her rather advanced…er… Tantric massage skills. Behaving like a daft teenager, Jerry gets pulled further and further into her web while trying in his small way to get to the bottom of the corpse mystery, etc., in order to win her favor. But she seems to have forgotten all about the case anyway, and is happy to spirit him off to her spa and administer her magic on him.

This is the part that gets annoying: Jerry’s constant descriptions of the nature of Mrs. Unger- good, unselfish, sensual, confident, efficient, motherly, etc.etc. It becomes a real case of ‘more tell and less show’; indeed, I was tempted to shout at times while reading, “We get it, Theroux, the woman is an amazing goddess of charity and light- do you have to bang us on the head with a copper-bottomed pan for to UNDERSTAND?”

The story loses punch because of this constant hammering. In the end, we do not even know how the poor corpse died; the narrative is simply carried along by Jerry’s somewhat down-in-the-dumps musings in the midst of his obsession. But then there are the observations about Calcutta and us Indians that do ring true. In fact, most took on a slightly poignant hue, now that I also know my own husband’s views on being an outsider in this country. Also there is an episode where Jerry gets to meet- get this- Paul Theroux- during the latter’s visit to Calcutta. I found this hilarious, although it was a rather pitiless account of his own self.

All in all, I did enjoy the book. I feel Theroux redeemed himself somewhat, even if his photo on the back cover shows him to be rather tense and displeased. Maybe I will pick up another piece of fiction by him again. His sense of place, his characterizations and deadpan humor are the big attractions. 

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Counting Crows - A Long December




Because sometimes only a song will do. And only it can catch the feeling of every day being a long December. And the slow, slow, fading of hope.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Oscars 2014

So! The Oscars have happened. Owing to geography we in this neck of the woods have the rather odd time of VERY EARLY in the a.m. in order to watch the ceremony live. But ceremony, shmeremony. What I really care about is the fashion, what? Although I completely missed the red carpet coverage because I was annoyed at my alarm and flung it away, I still caught glimpses of some lovely ladies through the show whenever I could. So here goes, in no particular order.

The Jolie looks vaguely rain-drenched and hesitant in this moody Elie Saab, I thought. Still, because it isn't black and does have very pretty embellishments, I quite liked it. The only nitpick would be the over-long sleeves. Always puts me off, that. But then the earrings make up for those. So overall, if there's something to dislike, there's also something to like- while not a favorite, this dress is beautiful and therefore on my list.


A study in contrasts: Cate Blanchett in dreamy, gauzy Armani Prive and Charlize Theron in structured, dramatic Christian Dior Couture. Well, then. I have to say I liked Charlize better- there were simply too many dresses of the 'dreamy, gauzy' variety this time. While Cate does look dreamy herself, Charlize is quite definitely more interesting. For once I wasn't annoyed by the sheer skirt trend, and then it showcases her amazing figure much more effectively than Cate's dress does for her.

How cute is Penelope in Giambatista Valli? I love the saree-like drape detail. Plus the pale pink is heavenly. The only thing I would change is her hair, but since it is Penelope and I love her above everyone, that too shall get a pass. When is her next movie coming out? The good Javier is also missing, sigh. The world is so dull without these two.

And here we have the indefatigable Lupita Nyong'o. She has been blazing through awards season so far, and capped it with a win at the Oscars too where she gave a touching speech. But look at her! I was half-dreading what she would wear since I didn't have great faith in a Prada design (Lupita is the face of Prada) but she certainly picked a winner. The pale blue and the subtle sequins gave the gown the look of a sparkling piece of clear sky. Add to that the diamond headband and the way she fluttered in excitement on the red carpet, and the whole effect was a childlike, delightful look.

Finally, my favorite of the evening. Kate Hudson looked like a goddess- the goddess of youth, beauty and all around hotness. I was left gaping: the dress, the hair, the make up and the figure. Atelier Versace it was, complete with a cape (although it's so small, it should be called a capelet. Or a capeling. Or a capette?) The shimmery dress looked even more fabulous in movement, and Kate carried it perfectly, making it stand out in a sea of similar pale, beaded confections. 
I also give honorable mentions to the following.
Lady Gaga, simply for turning up in a non-Gaga outfit; indeed, she looked positively ethereal in a shiny Versace; one Chrissy Teigen in a striking, playful floral Monique Lhuillier, and Emma Watson in an interesting charcoal Vera Wang.

All images taken from Red Carpet Fashion Awards


Friday, February 28, 2014

You were never as beautiful as you are now

These days I have become keenly aware of the beautiful impermanence of things. I have always had an appreciation for this, having been so ill when I was very young and literally at death's door. But this, nowadays, this has come with age and the recent loss of someone very dear. 

It manifests in wildly varied ways. Having seen my mother last week after too much time, I spent half a day crying before I was to leave. I followed her around like a dog, wanting to burn her every gesture into my brain, memorize everything she said.

But also, when I see someone (a complete stranger, for instance) dressed in something outlandish, I no longer inwardly roll my eyes as I used to. Instead, I feel a strange urge to walk up to them; last night this happened when I was waiting for my cab. It was a stunningly beautiful evening and this woman waited nearby dressed in a hideous yellow outfit. 

My heart yearned to go up to her and say, 'you look wonderful. Enjoy this evening. You will look back and realize years later, that you were never as beautiful as you are now."

Thursday, February 27, 2014

You never came

The pink flowers have arrived again,
just as sudden...
when did so much time pass?
It is already the next season
and you, in your city famed for rain,do not even know it.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Bookshop

You enter in the evening, after walking down
Three steps to a miniature courtyard and a door tied open
With a piece of brown twine. The table lamps
Have tassled shades the color of scorched parchment,
Tiny pools of yellowed light beneath them,
So that looking across the room seems like looking
Across a small autumn garden. The proprietor,
Wire-rimmed glasses glinting, nods but doesn't lift his head
From his reading and the rye bread sandwich
Into which he’s nibbled an almost total moon.
You browse, and while you do, your hands
Grow heavy and old, as if by taking close-packed books
From their shelves you are pulling bricks from a wall
Bound to collapse should you remove too many
And not replace them. What you’re searching for, among
These histories, these poems, these illuminated guides
To the soul, or the soul’s companions . . . these compendiums
Of fossils, stars, speeches, journeys when the world
Was a path through forest or waves against painted eyes
On the bow of a wooden ship plying the Aegean,
Is a single line of calm.

~By Dick Allen
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