Saturday, December 22, 2007

Age and the Woman

A girlfriend recently celebrated her birthday. The usual dampener I give to everyone after some time is "so how old are you today". She stoically replied, one year less than last year. Now Ive started going backward!

Age. The biggest enemy of the modern woman. Here come the wrinkles and the grey hair. The sagging breasts and the blotchy skin. Where is the suppleness and the glow. The retinue of products, canned and bottled, that lie on my dressing and bedside tables increase every few months to help induce the just-out-of-bed translucent skin... as long as that works.

The old wisdom goes that a woman should always state an age 2 years less than the reality. I told my friend that. She wasnt not happy. "In that case Ill be 30 next year, no will do!!! Id rather be 28!!" What could one say to that logic? But Im happy with the 2 year less practice. With a little help from chemicals in jars, I might just pass off as 38 when Im 40, even if I cant move my eyebrows with my botox shots. Im 38, and I cant express how happy I am to tell you that! My muscles are frozen.

The Indian beauty industry is an estimated $3 billion. A large pie of this is dominated by, what else, fairness products. Every company has one at least... whatever the cream, just add the word "fair" to it... it will sell. Men can rest easy too, their "rougher and tougher" skins need not be left behind in the race to whiten up.

However in the past couple of years a new warrior has entered the beauty arena. The anti-ageing cream. In the west, this is the biggest grosser in the beauty market. Now Indians are also picking up. From general- 7-in-1 creams to higly specialised under-eye-anti-wrinkle... every post 30 woman is spoilt for choice. Finally hope on the horizon!!!

One thing that did not quite pick up here is the anti cellulite products- creams soaps et al. We Indians still love the love handles and the flab around our thighs. We cant be bothered to spend money for that, for godsakes. Maybe our daughters will think differently.

But as more and more companies enter the anti-wrinkle/ anti-age market I am convinced I can still get those second glances after the first glimpse for years and years to come. After all Ill be 28 in March. Or is it 26. Damned if I tell you. (wink wink).

Long live kaali mehendi!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Searching for a way to give in
To the madness in my mind
It's not OK and I am not fine
But who will hear me scream.

Accept that its all wrong
Who will stop this slow burn
How to mend this brain churn
Living an impossible dream.

Anonymous in my world
Slow descent into hell
Cancer in my every cell
A life undoing itself at the seam.
Ahhhh! Three cheers for retail therapy. Last night I thought life had ended... right now, Im on Cloud 9. And about 8k short in my bank. Oh but its so worth it. Not only am I on a non-alcohol induced high, but also, I have 4 pairs of shoes, and a couple of shirts to show for it. Didnt binge of food though, just a juice and a strawberries with cream for my partner-in-shopping sister... Im an angel.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Great Indian Wedding

There is now an Indian "wedding industry" and not only is it alive and kicking but it is growing in leaps and bounds every season. Value of this industry- Rs 50,000 crores growing at 25% annually. In a country where more than 25% of its citizens are living under the poverty line still, the major newsmakers in the last few years have been weddings to die for- Liz Hurley to the PIO Nayar, Ms Mittal, and of course the dandy Master Chatwal to the oh-so-ethereal Priya Sachdev.

Look at the diamond advertisements on TV recently. Just 2 months back they targeted the upwardly mobile woman with "a mind of her own". Start November and they have all veered towards the wedding market, the bride-to-be, or her family. Even solitaires have their takers- to make your love shine brighter just buy a diamond for her.

The designers are cashing in. Its known that all designers in the world worth her/his needle will have a wedding range. Now they are going public about it, and how. Tie-ups between designers and jewelery houses are common. Bags, shoes, even watches have wedding collections. The tourism business is publicizing honeymoon packages in Malaysia, the Carribbean, or even in hippie heaven Goa. Furniture "wedding packages" are going at heavy discounts.

Magazines specialising in wedding and everything associated with it sell like hot cakes. No wonder every magazine carries a wedding special at this time. The latest buzz in India is the appointment of Wedding Planner. Supposedly everyone wants an "English Garden", or a "Beach" or a "Pink" wedding. Its providing for a lot of people- the flower arranger, the card maker, the cake maker, even the specialised gift packager.

And now, for the last few years enter the specialised marriage fairs, where you get everything but the groom. Its such a huge hit that they are traveling offshore to places like Dubai or inland to a Lucknow or an Ahmedabad.

Wedding in India is big business. Now only if I had an idea how to cash in on it...

Written on 4th March 2007

Inside out, upside down-
If the world stops spinning around,
The tiny ripples in rivers freeze
And dust flow like water on the ground.
If the birds turn to ashes in their flight,
And the flaming rhododendrons burn-
Buildings crumble and roses fade
The sky recede far far away.
Still life goes on, in quiet desperation.

Upside down, inside out-
Wanting, but I cannot shout.
Want the blood to stop
And skin to slowly fall apart.
Want the nails to burst away
Hair catch fire and burn me down.
Eyes fade to white, red lips turn blue
And the heart turn to stone- cold and hard.
But life still goes on in silent desperation.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Let us never forget

My dad just returned from a business trip to Poland. When there he got the time to visit Auschwitz. I go out my old copy of 'Night' (Elie Wiesel) yesterday and re-read it.

It was June 1940 when this Nazi concentration camp started functioning with the first batch of Polish anti- Nazi political prisoners. 1942 saw the camp transform into a highly efficient killing field, with thousands upon thousands of prisoners, mostly Jews, but also Poles, gypsies and Soviet war prisoners, perishing in gas chambers, shot down or just dropping down exhausted with crushing routines. More than a lakh victims, estimates from 1,10,000 to 1,50,00 died in 5 years. Just a days collection of shoes of victims formed veritable mountains...

Here are some of the sites which are keeping the Auschwitz memories alive so that the world does not see it happen again.
'Night'- by Elie Wiesel

I held your heart in my folded palms
I said I will protect it from the world-
Wondrous rays made my hands glow
Wondered what secrets it would unfold!

I opened my palms to let the light wash my eyes
And out flitted a million rainbow coloured butterflies.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Time to move on...

As a generation we are refusing to grow up. Yes many of us have married and some of us have kids already. But thats saying very little about the way we live or think. So many of us still depend on our parents for so much. We are the tail enders of Gen X, the cusp of generations- alienated from the larger group which just preceded us, or the next generation- the 80-s born... the 20- somethings.

We were the last to work in dead end jobs, the last to accept what our elders said as the bible-truth. The last to compromise. The Generation Y or Gen Next have grown up in a different world so to say. Technologically they have started off earlier, economically they have been born into an open market. They are just now entering the job scene with expectations which are sky high. Failure for them means different than what it did for us. They have more difficulty accepting authority figures. Research has shown they demand much more in the work place- money, time, technology, flexibilty in work, vacations, promotions etc. There was an instant in the US when a 24 year old was sacked for non-performance and the next day he turned up with his mother in tow, to demand an explanation.

Money is of primary importance. More than 50% say it is most important in their life to become rich. In a medical college a few interns were caught stealing mobile phones and selling them to make a quick buck. This, from a group waiting to make it big in a couple of years.

They are a different bag of marbles altogether. But we, the 28-32 years old... In everything we try to hold on to our lost childhood in whatever little way we can. We are a group who either have friends born in the 80-s and so believe ourselves to be part of them... or like me, look at them with a mixture of grudging envy and high handedness. They still have a long way to grow up.

But then, so do we.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Motherhood is the new black

Everyone I hear is either pregnant or has a baby. Look at Orkut. A year back I used to have faces in my friends list... now its them with their baby! Albums with "three of us", "my world"...

Pushing 30 means giving up something, I guess. Sacrifices which dont seem like sacrifices... yeah, I cant go out on Fridays and Saturdays... it takes hours of thought before I can go shopping. My mum needs to be free if we can catch dinner on a Sunday, a couple of hours of couple-dom outside of parent-hood. Ive forgotten what a long island ice tea tastes like. My staple is now orage juice, thank you. Even a coke raises eyebrows around me. And yet, they are all doing it.

Forget Hollywood moms... they have full time nanny-s to help while they do their thing. Its people like us who have to face the music, or lack of it. No time, you see. I can listen to music only if my baby likes it, thank god she does. Its the time of the new super-mom. Work, baby, home, shopping, entertainment... we do it all, many thanks to our super duper mummy-s. What would we do without them. And of course we have to get back into shape. I am not talking Maxim cover-girl shape (though I heard one of them gave birth the same month I did, and its her resolution to get back to her cover-girl shape by new year, god bless her) but ordinary pre pregnancy shape. One of my super hot friends who also had a baby in August lamented when she was 8 months pregnant that she was not gaining much weight. Oh! these model types!!! God is unfair.

I did gain normal amount of weight, and I still dont fit into my old pair of jeans, but my baby is a happy child, and I am a happy mom. May god bless her.
Im letting you go
Into the leaf strewn cobbled lane
Walk into the unknown
Into the sunset on your own
Finally, Alone.

Ive walked long with you
Growing up enough
To stand and watch
As you left my hand and
Learnt to fly.

And now you say
You dont want to fly away
I never believed you wanted to stay
I have looked the other way
As you tried to make up your mind.

Now the time has come
To search within my soul
For the music I lost
Someone else needs me now
Another hand to hold...

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Long ago when I was a kid, my mum, sister and I used to spend lazy winter afternoons on the verandah, soaking in the sun, and peeling oranges to eat. The smell of oranges remind me of those days of innocence, when the biggest fear in life would be the term end examinations and biggest trouble the next days home work.

Isnt it amazing how different smells can transfer us to the past. My favourites- Johnsons baby products, because they remind me of my baby sister, I use their lotion and soap till this day, always will. Certain soaps, some fragrances or talcs remind us of specific people or of a phase in ones life... onions and stale cigarette smoke, wierdly... oh, well!