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Hey there lil’ Red Riding Hood, you surely are looking good! Owwwww!

Little Red Riding Hood is a beautiful girl, wearing a long, bold red cape with a golden cascade of curls escaping from beneath her hood. She has rosy cheeks, plump lips, and she carries a wicker basket brimming with cakes and sundry—a fairy tale that kindles several levels of imagination in various people. One day she was eaten by a big bad wolf on her way to deliver cake and wine to her grandmother. However, a kind woodsman saved her from the stomach of the wolf, where she came bursting out, and reigned triumphant after killing the wolf.

Parables or fairy tales appeal to our senses as they are magical. They tell a story of victory of good over evil. They shape our culture as they can be interpreted in every century. Little Red Riding Hood is a tale preceding the 17th century, and continues to be interpreted in the 21st century. And now we have the Red Riding Hood moving coming up. It is a tale of innocence, boldness, love, courage and triumph. It is a tale of interpretation.

Fashion too is the same. At different times, it can be different things: innocent, bold, fun or shocking.

For example, fashion has a love-hate relationship with the color red. Too bold, too old, too young, too provocative, too statement making, too this or too that!!

Well I say, just like our parables, red invokes various emotions in us is therefore a color subject to multiple interpretations.

On a young woman it can be sweet and frolicky; on a woman of the world it can be sophisticated; on a sexy woman it can be provocative; and on an older woman it can be regal. And the Chinese wear it for good luck and fortune.

I love when fashion can be analyzed and perceived in multiple ways. It provokes thought and dialogue. And as erudite beings, we are always up for analysis, correct?

Look at the dresses below; they range from sweet, to sexy, to simply scandalous. The same goes for the bold red lacquered lips; they can be interpreted as sexy, bold, fun or sophisticated.

So, the moral of this story is forget societal labels. Labels limit and constrict us. We are not too old to be bold, too young to be sophisticated, “too this or too that.” We are like parables. Our style is like parables—subject to numerous interpretations. Just wear it, and leave the rest open for debate and interpretation…. Owwwwww!

A short and thoughtful blog for today, as I am tired. Yes I had a long day with clients and files and I feel tirrreeeed!!

I went to China recently and I will share my travels to the far east with you shortly.

Today, I was skimming through my photos and found this one in Shanghai.

It stood out most amongst a plethora of other photos due to the size of my gigantic Louis Vuitton bag in contrast with the Chinese man. The LV seems to have a personality of its own. The thought that crossed my mind was the desire to look and feel good runs in all human beings. Here I was with my giant LV bag, wearing a Max Mara tuxedo coat with patent Jimmy Choo boots.  My outfit probably cost the nice Chinese gentleman’s half a year’s salary.

On the other hand, the nice man was no less spiffy with his perfectly ironed and bleached shirt, a vest underneath (yes, the most stylish item of clothing on the runway), a stylish beret and charming shoes.

We both had made an effort to look our very best in our respective ways. Me, by carrying my appendage of an LV bag, and him by paying close attention to the details of his clothing. The snow white shirt is an example of the thought he has put into dressing.

We were from different worlds, different generations and our dialogue was lost in translation. Yet, the common thread of sartorial elegance bound us like glue. Our respective smiles are an example of the oneness in our spirit. So, dress for the soul.

Right about now some of you will stop reading my blog entry and switch to a more “visually attractive” glossy read as you see no photos. For those of you who stick around, you are brave, non-conforming and are venturing into the diaspora of actual words without visuals. I tip my hat off to you.

The power of the visual in modern society is undoubtedly compelling! We live in a visual world and are surrounded by visuals. We as readers, viewers and consumers are bombarded with visual information overload. Visuals are everywhere:

  • On the net
  • In magazines
  • Books
  • Fliers
  • Blogs
  • Billboards
  • Advertisements (In fact, I am right now staring at a 6-feet photo of a cup of Raspberry Mocha at Peet’s Coffee, and no, I will not post a picture of it as it defeats the purpose of this blog!)

We live in a society where visual stimulation in media has become a necessary part of attracting and maintaining the interest of the viewer. It is understandable as visuals are easier to grasp and retain. They paint a picture which is retained in the cerebral matter far easier and longer than words. As the saying aptly (or not) goes “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

The concept of the “10 second rule” is all pervasive in marketing. If you cannot hold the interest of the viewer in the first 10 seconds of your presentation, you lose them. And what better or more powerful way can there be to hold the interest than putting up a glossy photo or video?

All this talk of visuals made me think, what if we lived in a world of no visuals? Okay, that may be a little draconian. How about we make a compromise and imagine a world with diminished visuals? Would we be less smart, less informed, less literary or less savvy? I don’t think so. After all, a mere 20 years back, when the World Wide Web had not taken off, the forms of information dissemination were

  • Print
  • Radio
  • Fashion designers advertised via a few photos in print magazines
  • News was transmitted on television by news-readers using words only 
  • Journalists wrote narrative pieces for newspapers with no or few photos
  • Books were written mostly without pictures

As a child I loved reading. I read umpteen books with little or no visuals. I recall reading several fairy tales written by the likes of Hans Christian Anderson and the Brother Grimm. My most favorite book was Hansel and Gretel, about a young brother and sister and the evil witch. 

Now let’s conduct an experiment. Read the excerpt from the book, below. It is all text. Later we will infuse it with visuals.

“Suddenly the door opened, and a very, very old woman, who supported herself on crutches, came creeping out. Hansel and Gretel were so terribly frightened that they let fall what they had in their hands. The old woman, however, nodded her head, and said, “Oh, you dear children, who has brought you here? Do come in, and stay with me. No harm shall happen to you.” She took them both by the hand, and led them into her little house. Then good food was set before them, milk and pancakes, with sugar, apples, and nuts. Afterwards two pretty little beds were covered with clean white linen, and Hansel and Gretel lay down in them, and thought they were in heaven.”

Now time for visuals!!

Picture a door with a raggedy old disabled lady standing at the doorway. The fright of Hansel and Gretel will probably be depicted by raised eyebrows and drops of sweat flying (nothing innovative.) The feigned concern of the old lady will be hard to show in a picture. Next will be photos of the scrumptious eats, and even if taken with a very high definition camera, the gastrointestinal delight of the moment will be lost. “Heaven” only knows how the inner thoughts of the children will be depicted.

My experience of reading the “text only” version of the story is that the impact is greater without the visuals. In fact, it made my experience richer as I got to imagine! Absence of visuals gave an extra layer of depth to the piece. It let the horses of my imagination run wild with no boxed parameters such as in a visual image.

I am definitely not undermining the power of visuals as it is very important in modern society; but don’t be scared of reading “text only” at times. It stimulates the vertex of our brains as it does not give everything to us on a platter as a visual does. It makes us work, and as you will agree, the more you work for something, the sweeter the reward!

 

My friend Albert has written a book on constitutional law. Currently, he is on a  promotional tour discussing the various nuances and intricacies of the Constitution.  He is debating heavy topics such as First Amendment, Gay marriage, Freedom of Speech, Obscenity, etc.

I on the other hand am writing a blog on coffee.  Yes, coffee! Yesterday, I experienced a dead hand. I thought, I am a practicing attorney and the partner in a law firm, yet I am writing about something as trivial as a cup of coffee.  Should I not be discussing serious subjects such as trademarks, patents, copyrighting and even if I do discuss coffee, shouldn’t it be in the context of interstate commerce rather than merely describing my enjoyment of the frothy beverage!  Doubts started seeping into my mind..am I shallow?  Is my cerebral matter limited to the extent of discussing only “froth” topics?  Then I sternly admonished myself and said…I love coffee, it is not a mundane topic, it is not trivial.  In fact, it is probably one of the most valued products in international commerce these days.  Many a contracts are drafted around coffee, many a closed door corporate meetings are held around coffee, many a brain storming sessions are held for coffee and most importantly many a cups are enjoyed all over the world.  So, I am basically writing an analytical piece on an international topic (so, I tell myself.)

Dean & Deluca Fine Foods

I am an olfactory challenged person. My sense of smell and taste have been destroyed by a chronic sinus inflammation.  Alas, the doors of the wonderful world of discriminatory palette, discerning taste and the new “hip, recently discovered” sense of UMAMI are ever closed for me.

LavAzza

New York City

As you must know by now, I am a being of finesse and luxury. My affliction however leaves me gustatorially (if that is a word) challenged!  With the paucity of my olfactory senses I cannot discriminate the boldness, flavor, body, aroma and finish of my very favorite beverage-COFFEE!!

So what do I do? I use the neurotransmitters in my brain to provide me the pleasure that drinking coffee does to connoisseurs.

I use my hands to feel the warmth of the cup. The joy of cupping my hands around a hot cup of coffee on a cold day and feeling the warmth seep through is inexplicable.  Forget about the unsightly brown cup sleeves that were solely designed to avoid a “burn lawsuit.”  I will take my chances with second degree burns!!

I use my eyes to visually thrill myself with the steam emanating from the cup.  The delicate brown swirls in a cappuccino exult me.

I use my tongue to feel and imagine the bold aroma of the concoction whiffing through the steaming cup.

I use my brain to imagine the far flung corners of the globe that the coffee has been imported from.  Imagine a hot, steaming beverage coming all the way from the forests of Brazil, Ethiopia, Indonesia, India and Columbia, an ode to international commerce in a culinary global world!

Imagine all the people who work on the coffee plantations and have the joy and good karma of tasting and smelling the fresh roasting of the coffee…brings tears to my eyes.  You might think I am being melodramatic as it is JUST coffee and WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL!! Well, it IS a big deal for me!!  I love the warm beverage as it invokes feelings of happiness, community, relaxed times with loved ones and a moment of respite in our hurried lives!

The act of drinking any coffee, whether it is a cappuccino, Madras coffee, cafe lungo, cafe macchiato or Turkish coffee, brims my heart with frothy rapture and bliss…whether I can taste it or not, who cares…AFTER ALL it is “ALL” A STATE OF MIND!!

Trav-el: To move, to go, to transmit, to transport, to journey, to proceed. All forward moving acts…and for me all done with style and elegance.

I was at the airport today and as is my true nature, I observed. I surveyed harried travelers pushing their U.S. 20 dollar unsightly brown, red and black Rexene suitcases tied with equally dull ropes, tapes or cords on metallic trolleys. I observed travelers dressed in their ungainly worst in sweat pants, the most worn (surely comfortable) t-shirts, drab exercise shoes and nylon bags.  They were ubiquitous and omnipresent!!

It was a lacklustrous sight and definitely did not invoke any glamorous feelings such as “wanderlust.” In fact, I was saddened by the lack of care, thought and style put into traveling. It made me think, has traveling become so cumbersome for us as a society that we try to look and dress our very worst? I mean taking a 23 hour flight to another continent does take a toll on one’s hair and skin, but can’t we make it somewhat of a pleasant experience by infusing some style, grace and flair to it?  Can we halt the dullness in an already dull journey?? The suitcases below invoke supreme images of drab.

Ubiquity in motion

I perfectly know and understand that all of us can’t afford a 4,000 dollar luggage set. But, at least we can be inspired by it. So here we go, picture and imagine this on your next trip and start building your travel kit. Less or more money…does not matter. What matters is the taste you have!

Too bad travel by ship is obsolete, otherwise who can resist the beautiful Louis Vuitton trunks? A truly regal sight to behold!

In modern times at least go for stylish, soft luggage infused with a pattern or color.

On a long flight nothing feels so good against your tired and dried skin as cashmere. The comfort you will derive from your own soft and clean blanket will far outweigh the cost of it.

Pamper yourself with a few extras to add swagger and verve to your mood! (In fact, you will brighten the day of your fellow traveler as well.)  My bag always consists of a good soft lotion that smells divine. I love the Shea butter in the L’Occitane lotion (just the word butter makes me go ummmmm!)

loccitane.com

A hydrating spray for the face not only softens the skin, but wakes up tired eyes, without using the germy loo!

drugstore.com

A lip salve in an old-fashioned tin smelling of roses to moisten the lips in the arid airplane air.

sephora.com

An Italian hand blended perfume that refreshes not only you, but brings a whiff of pleasure to your fellow passenger as well. Inspired by original 16th century secret formulas commissioned by Caterina de Medici, “i Profumi di Firenze” perfumes.

beautyhabit.com

Okay, you hipsters might scoff, but I am an old-fashioned girl and love to keep myself fresh with talcum powder. I know you may say it is a grandmotherly product and sooo outdated, but try it on a long flight to freshen not only your intimate parts, but to luxuriate in its softness and freshness!! Can you resist the old-fashion charm of the Italian talc, “Boro Talco”?

barclaycrocker.com

Buon viaggio my friends and may the style be with you always!

Message:  There are no “cardinal sins” in fashion. “Vertically challenged” people wear horizontal stripes, mix dots with stripes, wear fushchia and red!! Fashion is about experimenting, giving voice to your individuality and not following a “set of rules” prescribed by some age old tradition that was apt at a particular time. Fashion is fluid like the free flowing water from the melting snow in the Himalayas…let it take its course!

Tea is the ultimate beverage denoting relaxation and hi-end living.

The beverage that conjures images of a delicate porcelain tea pot full of deep, dark, aromatic tea leaves steeping in hot water.

A beautiful silver sieve nestled in its stand ready to have the tea poured through its porous holes. The clinking of a delicate cup and saucer accompanied by a small jug of steamed milk frothed to the perfect temperature so as to maintain the adequate tea temperature.

All of this accompanied by scrumptious delicacies such as a warm scone with a grainy raspberry jam and fresh whipped cream, inch-long thick cucumber sandwiches and pastries light enough to float in air, in the midst of hushed, whispered, intellectually stimulating conversations. This  is true tea!

Now picture this: a loud coffee shop with a heavy-handed robust Barista shouting in a hoarse voice, “One grande, non-fat, soy masala chai tea latte, no foam, 70 degrees for……..”

Gossshhhhhh….it is an assault on my delicate sensibilities and should be for yours too as we have elegance and finesse. Tea cannot be categorized in terms of robustness and size. I mean, compare a tiny 250 ml cup of tea to a 16 ounce tea concoction. Compare a delicate cucumber sandwich to an extra large lard and sugar laden scone weighing almost a pound. And what the hell is “chai-tea”?  CHAI IS TEA!!!!!!  It is akin to saying  “TEA TEA” or “COFFEE COFFEE.”

Of course, I have the karmic bad luck of perpetually getting a Barista for whom tea is as foreign a concept as monogamy is to Mormons.  If I ask for a small tea, so as not to dilute the extra small tea bag in the pool full of water, I always end up getting the largest cup with a sorry little tea bag floating in it. If I ask for steamed milk in my tea, I get a tea milk shake. If I ask for extra hot, I get a tepid warm concoction that feels like the tepid temperatures of a pedicure bowl. I am sick and tired of paying in excess of $4.00 U.S. dollars for a liquid that I end up chucking.

So, I am taking the bull by the horns and sharing how to make real tea…and no you don’t call it “chai-tea” as it is stupid.  No you don’t use extra large glasses as it dilutes the tea and no you don’t put half and half in tea as it is not a milk shake.

Making a perfect cup of Tea:

  • Warm the tea pot first with hot water to maintain the temperature.
  • Use high quality loose leaf black tea. I myself prefer a blend of teas such as Darjeeling, Assam, and Orange Pekoe. You decide and make combinations for yourself. Please don’t tread in the green, matcha, sencha tea zones. Let’s leave the trendy stuff for another time.

bigelowtea.com

  • Use one teaspoon of loose tea per person, plus one for the pot.
  • Use absolutely fresh “boiling” water and do not re-boil water. Don’t be scared to let the water boil to a “rolling boil.”
  • Pour water in the tea pot and brew for 3-5 minutes. Let the tea leaves steep in the water to get the full flavor and quality of the tea. Longer brewing will result in a bitter tasting tea as tannins will be released.
  • Make sure you pour the water over the tea and not the other way round.
  • Stir the tea in the pot once or twice while it is brewing.
  • If you have one, cover the tea with a tea cozy to keep it warm and add panache to the tea ritual. My grandmother had beautifully embroidered tea cozies she used…

  • Warm the tea cups with hot water and pour the tea through a sieve into the cups. Don’t drink tea in a mug…please!!
  • Steam some milk and add milk and sugar to taste. Honey is not used in British style tea.

You will become a connoisseur in tea, another step in living life elegantly! And, please do me a favor and never ever call it chai-tea!!

I leave you with this quote: “Tea…is a religion of the art of life.” Okakura

Fashion Blogging-the new phenomenon, the powerful phenomenon, the revolutionary phenomenon, the phenomenon all fashion trade analysts are analyzing in terms of CPM, CPC, CPA, CPL, CPS (Wow…is this the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle or what? If so, my head is WHIZ ZI NG!)  Blogging has become a phenomenon where people are using terms such as REACH, CONTENT, HITS, COPYRIGHTING, TRADEMARKING, MEASURING, CLICKS etc. etc.  Everyone wants to jump on the band-wagon and make hay while the sun shines!!  Or is it a phenomenon where the sun will always shine??

I attended the “Evolving Influence” NYFW Fashion Blogger Conference in the vibrant New York City organized by the Independent Fashion Bloggers.  It was held at the trendy Milk Studios in Chelsea and a sight to behold.  (http://heartifb.com)

It was an alien-esque event.  Imagine a room full of approximately 400 stunningly beautiful people, with names starting with “@”.  Most of them less than 90 pounds…all model-like, dressed in avant-garde skimpy fashion, their outfits and body language mocking the sub-zero temperatures outside…almost saying, we belong to the “other” world, the fluctuating temperatures do not affect our programming.  They are all walking in sky high heels with absolutely no discomfort and talking to themselves into their cameras about themselves.  Wow,  if vanity was to be described in terms of “matter”…it would be at this convention.  Oh there is a caveat…a flaw in their perfect programming, apparently most of them do not have 20/20 vision and therefore, have to wear the thick rimmed black reading glasses in order to survey their radar.  In fact, in a famous blogger’s term it can be described as the man repeller phenomenon. (http://manrepeller.com)

Me and the talented LeeOliveira.com

Without giving out my age, I was probably the dinosaur of the aliens, a specie almost ready to “crash” or “freeze.”  Oh well….that’s okay as I learnt a lot.  The “memory” in the “hardware” is still intact even if there is not much time left for the “crash”!!  (Wow I crack myself up with my own witticism!!)

I loved the speakers, especially the intelligent, eloquent and well-informed TheTonyWang. (http://postfashionism.com.)

Me and the very cerebral and eqloquent Tony Wang

Fashion blogging has in a way taken over from print advertisement.  It has taken the fashion industry by storm.  Its reach is much farther than a fashion magazine. Almost everyone in the world loves to dress up in some form.  Almost everyone likes to look at beautiful, sexy people for some sort of real or perverted pleasure!!  Almost everyone in the world has some sort of internet connection. But how many people in the world can afford a $6.00 U.S. dollar Vogue magazine?  Hence, the power of blogging has a world-wide reach.

 It is true not all bloggers are good.  It is also true not all bloggers have a creative eye. It is further true that not all bloggers know fashion.  But deep down we all have an innate need to do something fun, pretty, beautiful and creative.  It is programmed in our hard drive…so the key is to enjoy it, to be unique and find our respective voices, to not just jump on the blogging band-wagon just because it is the easiest thing to do without holding a degree. Even if you are an amateur at fashion, use your senses to hone in your creative side and find your voice!!  Let the word RENUMERATION be secondary and not the primary goal for blogging.  Let the sun shine on us forever!!

K6MJDKXAP8V7

Hair style is the final tip-off of whether or not a woman really knows herself. Hubert de Givenchy, Vogue, July 1985.

Well, I truly KNOW myself!! That’s my head with the shortest, cropped hair that I absolutely love, love and love!! I am confident in my look and turn many a heads, might I say mostly with admiration, some with intrigue, others with quizzical amazement and yet others with “what the ***&$$*!!!” To the latter of those I say “I KNOW myself and am COMFORTABLE with myself. I have the guts to NON-CONFORM!!” Monsieur Givenchy would have been proud of me.

Women with short hair have raised many a points of debate and controversies. Are they attractive, unattractive, cute, un-feminine, gay, getting up there in age, trying to make a point in the “man’s world” etc. etc.

None of the short-haired women below are within 10 miles of a negative connotation because of their short hair. They are simply stunning, striking, ravishing and spectacular!

Face it, the idea of long, lustrous, thick hair, flowing in the breeze is drilled in our psyche as children. I mean take a look at Barbie, her hair is the most prominent part of her anatomy (other than her “ample plastic bosom”)

Even our fairy tales narrate stories of the beautiful princesses’ with mile long hair, a la Rapunzel!

It is true that a short-haired woman can have oomph of sexiness, but she will have much fewer guys hit on her than a homey looking girl with long hair.

What is the psychology behind it? 99.9% of men love women with long hair. The long, lustrous hair flying in the wind is their ultimate fantasy. Check out any beer commercial and you will see a long haired, leggy woman miraculously caught in a wind storm. Rather amusing!

Most men are intimidated by short haired women as they think that such women are stronger and more independent. They do not portray the virginal, helpless, “girl-like” qualities associated with a woman with long hair. A man feels helpless as he cannot “rescue” or for a lack of a better term “control” her.

In the same vein, most women dress to please a man and attract the male attention. Nothing wrong with that, but somewhere in the process they lose their own identities, individualities and sense of self-worth.

Take a look at the women below. Would they be this stunning with long hair? I think not. Halle Berry is a prime example; she looks “plain” with long hair and “ravishing” with short hair.

Take a cue from Anton Chekov who said, when a woman isn’t beautiful, people always say, “You have lovely eyes, you have lovely hair.” So, when someone is complimenting your hair it is not necessarily a “compliment!”

Now, mind you, I am not a die-hard, man-hating feminist. I love the male attention just the same as the next girl. But, I want women to be bold and to experiment with their look. I want them to live for themselves. I want them to take fashion risks. So what if they fail? After all it is only hair and will grow back. I want them to derive their self-worth from deep within and not solely base it on their physicality. I want WOMEN TO NON-CONFORM and BE!