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When I started writing my blog, I did not have a clear defined vision for the blog.  I was unsure of the direction in which I wanted to take the blog.  The only thing I was sure of was that along with my other passions, I wanted to share my concept of non-conformity with my readers, if and when I was privileged to have some readers.

 Now some of you loyalists (whom I appreciate with all my heart) have bestowed upon me your precious time by reading my blog and commenting upon the entries.  Your comments are so thought provoking that I want to make a mini-blog of all the comments.  I am absolutely floored by your lacerating intellects, breakdowns and dissections.  Oh how I wish to sit down with all of you over a cup of cappuccino and enter into a discussion on a myriad of subjects ranging from fashion to philosophy; architecture to inspiration and conformity to non-conformity. (Such a discussion, if held in a café on the Italian Riviera will be preferable haha!)

I am an advocate of non-conformity and will continue to write on it.  I admire it because it shows strength, bravery and risk taking.  It can be in any walk of life-be it fashion, art, music, literature, architecture or even a profession.  If Mark Zuckerberg had continued to conform by following the tried and traditional path of diligently attending classes at Harvard, taking exams and upon graduating sending out resumes to be a computer programmer, would we be enjoying the fruits of the revolutionary powerhouse phenomenon called Facebook! 

We all interpret non-conformity based on our personal life experiences and sensibilities.  My sweet friend Anika just wrote a beautiful piece on her interpretation of non-conformity, that I enjoyed reading immensely.

There is no set archetype.  One of my interpretations of non-conformity is to explore, to veer away my comfort zone and forego established gauges and measures.  I am not necessarily being rebellious or radical just to make a point of being a non-conformist, but merely pivoting towards the edge in order to find my edge, my extreme, my limit.  I am testing my strength.  I am taking a risk.

 

Androgyny in fashion is a way to step out of the comfort zone for both men and women.  I have written earlier blogs on androgyny as applied to both men and women.  I find androgyny extremely intriguing and captivating.  What makes us want to digress and explore the sexuality of the opposite sex?  What is so alluring about role reversal?  Is it empowering or simply a way of testing our limit, our edge and our extreme.

Androgyny in fashion is a perfect example of non-conformism.  Both men and women who dress androgynously take a risk.  The risk of being ridiculed, judged and possibly be even rejected.  Yet, they test their limits by using their strength and stepping outside the comfort zone.

  

James Franco photographed the embodiment of androgyny, Agyness Deyn for Elle magazine.  The shot is inspired by James Dean.  Agyness is a brave girl and so comfortable with her overt androgynous sexuality.  She is unique and hence one of the most sought after models.  Yes, non-conformity pays and can bring huge dividends!

marc jacobs

Marc Jacobs is wearing pearls and a skirt while supporting a day old stubble from Prada’s fall 2011 collection.  It is an ode to being an ardent Miuccia Prada fan.  He look simply scrumptious!  Marc took a risk to don a skirt and wear a strand of pearls on that perfectly chiseled Greek God body of his. 

I too explored my androgyny by dressing in a man’s suit, albeit a somewhat shrunken one inspired more by Thom Brown than Brooks Brothers!  It was a step towards finding my strength, even if the pivot towards the edge was only slight.  I think I still have it in me to risk a steeper incline to find my edge.  As for the day old stubble, I will have to stand on the precipice of my edge for that!

anika

 

I am proud to introduce a guest post by the very talented blogger Anika of ByAnika.  I received such thoughtful comments on my last blog of Bag or Bandage Fashion, that I requested Anika to respond with a follow-up blog and she very graciously obliged. 

Most of you know Anika by now, as she is rapidly spreading the love amongst all of us.  I think of her as Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of Love of Blog-dom!  She encourages and supports fellow bloggers with an immensely open heart and honest spirit.  The reason why I requested Anika to write a responsive blog is because I consider her to be a non-conformist.  She is brave, bold and does not let society dictate her choices.  She does not follow prescribed norms and standards.   One of Anika’s most unique traits is that despite being all of the above, she does not come out as a “woman with an agenda.”  She retains her carefree, sensitive, generous and beautiful spirit. 

Read and enjoy the following post by the enchanting Anika!

Last week I wrote a post chez moi at By Anika on how I feel that sexy is a state of mind. Gone are the days when I tried dressing overtly sexual, today I wear my own flowy designs that showcase me. The day after writing my post I surfed over to Ambu to find her pondering same topic in her post Bag or Bandage Fashion. Talk about being on the same wavelength.

Ambu asked me to elaborate on my reply to her post. The topic of sexuality and fashion is one that I find very interesting, so I was more than happy to share some of my personal experiences in terms of dressing sexually.

I feel that there are all kinds of rules about what to do and not, and what I strongly advocate is that we all screw the rules and not let us become restricted by a regime that we feel we need to comply with. How we express this defiance will vary of course, for some breaking out a tight dress is it, for others wearing the “wrong” shape feels freeing.

In terms of dressing sexually for me, it is all about feeling confident in who I am and not apologizing for it. I walk down the street, swaying my curves (this I have little control over anyway, watch me walk and I will give you a symphony of curves in motion), looking at people with an open mind. I am present.

As for the outer aspect of my fashion and sexuality I’ll say this. I have a body that a lot of men seem to find very sexual. I have been groped etc. by men passing me by in the street since I was 12 years old. Only yesterday several men came up to me and made suggestive looks and comments, and one guy followed me.

This is a daily occurrence for me, and for years I have been pondering why I experience this. One thing is my open nature I think, but even when I am more closed off it happens. I guess it is the va va voom of the walking symphony and the hour-glassy shape of my body.

When I tried dressing more sexual I felt vulnerable, because showing my body to the fullest meant that the unwanted attention increased. I felt exposed and hurt, because I was attracting attention solely based on my curves. So, you might ask, do I now wear wider clothes because I am hiding? Why not show some cleavage?

I’ll tell you why I wear clothes that are flowy, that showcase all of me, not just my lovely rack. I am not hiding; I am not trying to cover up my sexuality. I dress the way that I do because I want to feel free! Free to express myself any way I want to, free to sway my ass when walking – not holding in my tummy, not worrying, just being and having fun in the moment. Feeling free and unconstricted is sexy to me.

Why is the dance of the seven veils so sexy?  Because we want to see what is underneath, because that foreplay is a thrill. I dress in a sexual way because I dress in a way that honors me as a whole person.

I may be selective, but when I invite you into my life you get a whole lot of woman, sexual and soulful. To me they are two sides of the same story. They are me.

 Love, Anika

I wore this dress yesterday. It is loose and long.  It flows and moves.  Some of you may describe it as a “fat” dress, others may scoff and say it hides all feminine curves and does not allow a woman to express her sexuality and yet others will scorn and call it a “bag dress.”  I on the other hand, love it and describe it as a non-conforming, breathable, with a tremendous comfort quotient, super-stylish dress.  (I am entitled to my opinion, right?  After all we do have the fundamental First Amendment right of Freedom of Speech.)

kim kardashian

On the same day, as I was watching mindless television (in my very loose pajamas), I “inadvertently” ran into the Kardashian show.  The television screen flashed images of the enticing Kim Kardashian squeezed into a super-tight-to the point of being bound and bandaged, abbreviated dress.  She was the embodiment of sexuality.  Every nook, cranny and curve of her voluptuous, buxomy frame was tightly crunched into the “bandage dress.”

And, no I did not conjure  up the moniker of the “bandage dress.” Believe it or not, it is the official description of the Herve Leger contraption.  A royal feat for women’s lib (no pun intended)!

I had no choice and was compelled to compare my “bag dress” with Kim’s “bandage dress.”

I do have to make a disclaimer here. I am in no way eschewing overt sexuality.  Women have beautiful bodies and we work hard to keep them in shape.  There is absolutely nothing wrong in flaunting our curves or wearing tight clothes.  Deep down it satisfies the vanity of a woman to know that she has a body that can carry off (for a lack of a better term) a “bandage dress.”  Fashion, a multi-billion dollar industry, rests upon gratifying this very desire for unequivocal sexuality.

However, time and again, I have been compelled to make an astute observation.  An observation that bewilders me and makes me question the validity of it.  Precisely the reason, why I am sharing my confusion with you today.  Maybe you can infuse some semblance of clarity to my confusion.

When I look around, I notice that most women are very hesitant to wear loose clothes.  Most women’s comfort zone is tight-fitted clothes.  Case in point is jeans.  I see one woman after another, no matter what their body size or shape, feel very comfortable in fitted jeans with a fitted shirt.  In fact, the hesitation to wear loose clothes is so pervasive that my very first blog was devoted to it.  (You can read it here, if you are interested.)

I am intrigued by the machinations of the female brain and what dictates their choice of a dress as tight as the “bandage dress” over a breathable, free-flowing, stylish albeit loose dress.  Is it easier and quicker to put on as not much thought is required?   Maybe, it is like jeans, a sort of “no-thinking” garment!  Is it possible that such clothing is comfortable (although, the mere sight of the “bandage dress” makes me want to take a deep breath)!  Does wearing a garment so tight impart confidence to a woman?  Is it possible that women think they look fat when they wear loose clothes and make every effort to squeeze into a garment a size too small to look thin?  Is a “bandage dress” not constricting for a woman?  I refer to the term “constricting” in both the literal and metaphorical sense.  Literally for the body and metaphorically for the spirit of a woman.

Even the term, “bandage dress” has connotations of oppression and subjugation. It’s ironic that after fighting for women’s rights for centuries, women continue to seek the “aid” of the “bandage dress” to prove their sexuality.

Questions, questions and more questions pop into my brain.  Is it possible that a dress such as the “bandage dress” is worn to satisfy certain acceptable societal norms?  Fashion magazines are riddled with the do’s and don’ts of fashion symmetry.  Wearing loose clothes is always in the “don’t list,” no matter what your body type.  If you are petite, you will get dwarfed and if you are fat you will look even fatter.  So, sadly my poor loose “bag dress” is absolutely unacceptable as per societal fashion norms.

Women often come up to me and make this verbatim statement, “I love the loose dress you are wearing; I wish I had the guts to wear it.”  Really, is it truly about guts?  If so, what is stopping such women from wearing loose garments, despite the fact that they appreciate the beauty of it and even admire it on others.  I don’t see anybody getting arrested for wearing loose clothes.

I work as a lawyer and I often hear my female peers comment upon “sexing up” their clothes to get a better result from the male Judge or the male opposing attorney.  When I ask them to define “sexing up”, it always includes something “tight and short.”  This information leads me to another direction, maybe we women have an ulterior, more sinister, a more practical reason for wearing the “bandage dress.”  I mean, whatever it takes to get the work done, right!

Since, my blog is all about honesty, I will admit that when I wear tight clothes, I do get admirable glances from men, which is not the case when wearing my looser counter-parts.

If this is the case, do women dress up solely to please men? Do women derive a sense of self-worth and self-confidence only when admirable glances are thrown their way by the darker sex?  Are women blatantly using their sexuality for ulterior motives?  Are these the reasons that we do not have the ” guts” to wear loose clothes, even though we consider them stylish and attractive?

I know I am asking a multitude of questions, but this topic has intrigued me immensely and I would love to know your opinion.  What is it for you, a “bandage or bag dress”?   Or maybe as we say in legalese “it all depends.”

This blog is especially dedicated to dear Cameron of 33 avenue Miquelon for the humorous and thoughtful feature she wrote about me.  Thank you Cameron, I truly feel honored!

Cameron is a journalist and a Francophile.  Periodically she introduces her readers to the language of love by interspersing French phrases into her blogs.  Although, I must say I feel somewhat uncultured and unsophisticated when I have to use translate.com to know the exact meaning of the phrases she uses.  Cameron, I will be working on my French more diligently, I promise!

I love Cameron’s witticism and tongue-in-cheek humor.  She can truly be “laugh-out-loud” funny.  She has a wide radar and writes about fashion, music and even a post titled Autostyle-The Five Rides of Summer 2011.  How many of us can write a post on a convertible mini Cooper with all the specs included along with photos taken by Lachlan Bailey for Harper’s Bazaar.  Talk about a colossal radar!  On a personal note, I love Cameron as she is a fellow Public Radio supporter.

Read Cameron’s blog or follow her on twitter @CameronMiquelon for petite pleasures on fashion, cars, music and thought provoking photography.  Thank you again, Cameron!  BISOUS (I think I got all my singulars and plurals mixed up, sorry Cameron!)

In my last blog, I had presented a photo of a model with unearthly long extremities wearing grid-patterned tights. As aptly pointed out by Ms. Ofelia from myintendedlife, her extremities did not look human.  She reminded me of an unfinished sketch with an exaggerated form.  A draft, if you will.

I recently read the book, The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand.  A most wonderful piece of literature.  While reading the book I was struck by the similarity between fashion and architecture. 

Both start with a vision.  The bolder the vision, the more spectacular the product.  Vision leads to a design or draft, followed by construction and then the final execution.

The model with the grid stockings was like an architectural draft-basic, bare-boned but with a distinct sketched vision.  She was a proof ready for the final construction/execution.

In both architecture and fashion it is necessary for the creator to have a well-defined, clear and refined vision.  Any paucity in the vision will lead to a poorly constructed final product, not aesthetic, bare, vacant and soulless. 

Architecture and fashion have a soul.  That is why we get moved when we see the ace examples of either.  Why do you think millions gasp in awe after seeing the Coliseum in Rome, the pyramids in Egypt, the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the finely chiseled Ajanta Caves in India.  These structures are not only grand in form and size, but have the power to make the viewer reflect into the soul of the architect.  One can feel the chapped hands of the chiseler, envision the beads of sweat on the brow of the bricklayer, feel the physical ache of the woodworker.  Even after the passage of centuries, one can feel the turmoil and joy of the craftsmen.

It is the same in fashion too.  Master Couturiers spend hundreds of hours sewing little pearls on a gown with bent necks, stitch the perfect folds of a coat in the dim lights of the studio and attach the most delicate chiffon ruffles to a sleeve using the minutest needle with strained eyes.

In both instances, the master craftsmen are at work displaying the excellence of their respective trades.  

Architecture bleeds into fashion.  The similarities are a vision, choice of materials, form, functionality and space.  Both utilize a play of light and shadow.  Both cater to an ambience.  Both need a creator who understands constraint and restraint. 

 I am sharing with you today my interpretation of my favorite architectural marvels with similar fashion designs.  Whether the fashion is inspired by architecture or vice versa, is subject to your interpretation.

 Taj Mahal and Byzantine Fashion

The Taj Mahal is the greatest example of Mughal/Persian architecture.  It is an ode of Emperor Shah Jahan’s eternal love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal.  The structure is deeply rooted in Byzantine history.  It was made using the finest white marble, adorned with intricate calligraphy, stone inlays and carvings.  The interiors are inlaid with precious gemstones and engraved marble designs.  Can you imagine the patience and tenacity required to carve the fine filigree into marble.  The structure screams opulence, craftsmanship and decadence.  The old wife’s tale goes that the craftsmen who built the Taj Mahal had their hands chopped off such that the structure could not be replicated. 

chanel

On a lesser draconian level, Chanel’s Byzantine collection reminds me of the opulence of the Taj Mahal.  The designs are reminiscent of Mughal/Persian royalty.  The finest Couturiers worked on the creation of the garments.  The fabric is luxurious, the jeweled embroidery is intricate and the craftsmanship is superlative.  There is an element of luxury and richness similar to the Taj Mahal.

Zaha Hadid and Fluidity in Fashion

 

The world renowned Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid uses space, light and fluidity in her architectural designs. Her architecture is modern and radical.  It is intellectual.   There is airiness to her structures.  No surprise that she was commissioned by Karl Lagerfeld to construct Mobil Art Chanel Pavilion with a fluid, almost in motion dome.  

Zaha Hadid has brought architecture to her fashion designs, imparting the same principles of fluidity and motion.

Burj Khalifa and “High” Fashion

Oh to reach such lofty vertiginous heights!!  Burj Khalifa in Dubai is one of the tallest man made structure ever built.  It is 160 floors.  It is a pinnacle example of the power of human capability.  It is amazing to see the  machinations of the human brain that went into the planning, designing and construction in order to achieve the perfect balance and alignment.

The Alexander McQueen crab-claw heels are a similar example of an aeronautical design feat.  Similar planning went into achieving the perfect balance while maintaining the aesthetic beauty.

St. Basil’s Cathedral and Phantasmic Fashion

 

St. Basil’s in Russia is the most unique and dazzling example of a juxtaposition of architectural colors, spirals and complexity.  It seems hallucinatory.  I often describe it as dream-like.

 

Alexander McQueen’s gown on Lady Gaga evokes similar phantasmagoric feelings of surrealism.

Frank Gehry and Deconstructive Fashion

 

Famous Los Angeles based architect is the master of contemporary architecture. His style has been defined as Deconstructivism.  It does not follow an “Order” per se.  One of my favorite Gehry architectures is the Hotel Marques de Riscal in Elciego, Spain.  It is a supreme example of deconstruction without the grunge effect.  There is an Order sans an order in the conventional sense.  I particularly like the mix of metallic colors, especially the olive green and shades of purple to mauve.

 

Deconstruction is a ubiquitous term used in fashion.  However, funny as it may sound, deconstruction needs an order to be aesthetic.  Otherwise it looks well, deconstructed!

Again the master craftsman McQueen’s ruffled gown reminds me of Gehry’s work.  Deconstructed, but not grunge.  An example of patent disorder but latent order!

Frank Lloyd Wright and Volume Fashion

Wright, is yet another phenomenal American architect.  His style was organic architecture.  He is identified with the prairie homes he designed that are prime examples of open space, unity and continuity.  He despised the “boxed” in feeling.  There was volume in his architecture.

jil sanders

 

Jil Sanders beautiful clothes are parallel to Wright’s architecture.  Jil Sanders is a perfect example of openness in clothing.  There is nothing constricting in the clothes, no “boxed” in feeling.  Its continuity in uber style.

Friends, I hope you enjoyed my interpretation of the juxtaposition of fashion and architecture.  It is a small respite from pre-fabricated homes and mass produced clothing.

A vignette of an upcoming blog.   Design, form, construction, space, utility.  Think about it.

Yesterday I wrote about the power of pop culture branding and received such thoughtful comments that it stimulated another blog.

As an illustration of pop culture branding, I wore my t-shirt with “naked” Marc Jacobs promoting the cologne Bang.

A point raised by my readers was that the power of branding can at times supersede the quality of the product.  The product does not necessarily have to be the “best” as branding will make-up for any lack.  This is a valid point.  For instance take Coke, is it truly good for us?  Does it bring us good health and help us stay fit?  Sure it tastes good and may give us an instant fizz, but it has no intrinsic food value.  Yet it is so heavy on branding that even Karl Lagerfeld decided to partner up with Coke and design a limited edition cover for its bottles coming out this month. (If interested, read my earlier blog, “Coke goes Couture.”)

Branding is not just limited to fashion, it seeps into all walks of life.  A good example is books.  I have bought many a books based on the radio interviews of authors or after reading a vignette of their biography in a periodical.  They portray an erudite and intellectual image.  If they have some flamboyance or flair in their personalities, it adds to the “X” or “Y” factor that I talked about in my earlier blog.  What effect does it have on me?  I am compelled by a force beyond my control to type amazon.com and charge the book on my current ongoing account.  (Another example of the world becoming a global Mall with accessibility of all products at our fingertips.)

When the books arrive in the brown cardboard packaging, my joy knows no bounds and I get geared to read my latest acquired piece of literature.  However, a few chapters or pages into the book, I realize with disdain that this is yet another book that I will add to the escalating “give-away-to-the-library” pile.

Another example is movies. Hollywood exemplifies branding.  I am an avid listener of National Public Radio, especially the Film Week Marquee (a Friday critique of the upcoming weekly movies.)  I often hear esteemed movie critic, Kenneth Turran condemn the premise of an upcoming movie.  Contrary to the review of Kenneth Turran, the very next day I hear how that very movie broke all records at the box-office and soared to unimaginable monetary success.  How is this possible?  Shouldn’t quality equate with monetary success?  Often times it does not.  Branding gives it the boost.  The actors are branded, the production company is branded and the movie is branded.

An extreme example is cigarettes. Those of you old enough to remember the Marlboro Man, will agree that the Marlboro brand was created based on the rugged and virile image of the man in the hat.  The fact that the man in the hat could very well suffer from throat cancer a few years down the road was irrelevant!

However, in order to keep a perfect equilibrium to this discussion, one has to concede that branding is not the be-all and end-all.  It is true that designers like Karl Lagerfeld, Betsey Johnson, Marc Jacobs or even Galliano may use their image to promote a brand.  But ultimately the essence, the core, the nucleus of the brand needs to be virtuous.  The product needs to be good.  There must be a consistency in the quality.  Rest is all fluff.

Branding is like icing on the cake. If the core of the cake is not scrumptious, icing may help initially, until it is all licked off and the only thing left is a noxious distaste.

It is similar to life. Sure you can talk the talk, walk the walk and even experience a few lucky strokes.  But to achieve sustained success the work needs to be put in. Nothing replaces hard work and consistency.  No amount of branding will guarantee continued success.  Such assurance will only come from the essence of your work.

That is why brands such as Chanel, Oscar de la Renta, Prada have sustained the dips and tips of economies, stock markets and changing cultural times and yet emerged triumphant.

Karl Lagerfeld, is the true Head of Chanel and the “Head” around my neck.

During my trip to China I saw this necklace at a store.  It was lying right next to the necklace with the face of Lady Gaga.

It was love at first sight. To be precise, it was lust at first sight.  I was so mesmerized by the necklace, that even though I did not have my credit card with me, I had to borrow my friends’ for payment.

Talk about the epitome of satisfying the Id-True Instant Gratification.

What was this force beyond my control that compelled me to buy the necklace?  Such a potent force that I had to resort to borrowing (thank goodness my shopping compulsion has not reached a level of begging and stealing yet, as in the expression “beg, borrow or steal.”)

What was it about this man with the silver-haired pony tail, high collars and glasses that captivated me?

In this instance, it is the bewitching rock star appeal of Lagerfeld. He has become deeply embedded in the strains of pop-culture and acquired iconic status.

Such cultural domination of fashion designers is a reflection of the changing times of fashion. Take for instance Marc Jacobs or  Alber Elbaz of Lanvin or Miuccia Prada. They all have their signature trademark personalities and styles.

marc jacobs

The recently sculpted body, with the day old beard is the signature of Marc Jacobs.

alber elbaz

Alber Elbaz is high on the cuteness factor, with the  moon-face, bow tie and round glasses.  Alber Elbaz brands Lanvin.

prada

The shy, head-band wearing Miuccia Prada is the stamp of Prada.

In the past designers used to be mostly behind the scenes. They had an aura of mystery, a certain je ne sais quoi.  Sure, we heard their names such as Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta or Dior and may have even seen an occasional photo of them attending a benefit, but their personas were not ingrained in the public psyche such as the ones in today’s times.

In current times, simply designing beautiful clothes is not enough. It is mandatory for designers to acquire an “X” or now a “Y” factor for branding purposes.  It is essential for the designer to have a flamboyant, autographed personality.

The modern consumer is global, smart and savvy. They shop all over the world.  With the advent of web-shopping the globe has become one giant Mall accessible to all, at any time.  There is laser sharp competition.

With a whirlwind of choices at the fingertips of the consumers, what motivates them to opt for one brand over the other?  Is it the quality, the stitching, the tailoring, the pricing or is it owning a product designed by a pop-culture icon.  It boils down to the “extra” that a brand has to offer.  The minds of the modern consumer, especially the younger ones is complex.  They grew up in the web surfing age and jump from one “icon” to the other.  Why should they then not choose a product designed by a famous pop culture “icon.” Nine out of ten times they will opt for an item with some pop-culture value, even if it is just a t-shirt with a silhouette of the designer imprinted on it.  Or in my case a necklace with the “Head” of Chanel.

That my friends is the power of pop culture branding!

olivia newton john

 

Contrary to the words of Olivia Newton John (click to watch the 80s song) I do not want to get physical.  I hate the gym.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter probably know by now what a Herculean effort it is for me to go to the gym.  I detest it, abhor it and despise it.  The thought of getting up from my desk after a hard day’s work and running on a rubber belt for 45 minutes, makes my entrails cringe.  I cannot stand the flat screen TV showing a ball game, I hate seeing the remnants of the dried up sweat beads on the machines and I supremely hate the big, muscly guys making primitive gruntal sounds while lifting some “not humanly possible to lift” weights.

It is not that I am a couch potato (well, does eating cake on the couch count?)  If it doesn’t then I am not a couch potato.  I love to walk.  In fact, I was born and raised in a small hill station where the only way one could get from point A to point B was via walking.  My parents did not own a car and I walked everywhere, never giving second thought to it.  It felt as natural as eating cake! (Yes, I confess, I do love cake!)

Now, walking has become an alien activity for me.  I feel self-conscious and odd walking on the wide streets with heavy traffic zipping by on both sides.  The geographical location of my abode deters walking.  In Los Angeles no one walks.  Everyone owns a self-contained gigantic, gas guzzling contraption on four wheels fitted with all the latest gadgets.  It is called an SUV.  It is like being in control of one of the NASA space ships, only on the concrete roads.

In cities such as mine a walker is an oddity.  They are uncommon.  They are akin to seeing a cow roaming in the streets of Manhattan.  The drivers peer from inside their metal contraptions with quizzical expression as to how instead of the four wheels, the two legs are being used.

When we are not steering our road- ships, most of us sit, sit and sit behind our desks in our day jobs.  Yes, the Health and Fitness magazines do profess that walking from the parking lot to the office or taking the stairs does count as exercise.  However, in my opinion, unless the parking lot is a mile away your office and you climb multiple floors to reach your office; such minimal level of exercise does not count!  So, the inference is basically we are leading stationary and sedentary lives.

I find going to the gym unnatural and anomalous.  I question the activities performed in the gym.  Were our bodies designed to do 15 sets of reps with dumbbells, at least three times?  Are our bodies hard-wired to climb up and down, again and again and yet again on a fake plastic step with arms wildly flaying in the air like lunatics?  Was the human body conceived with the vision that four days a week, for at least forty-five minutes we would walk mindlessly on a rotating rubber belt?

Therefore, I consider exercise as plastic, inorganic and compensatory.  It is similar to taking a vitamin pill in lieu of real, healthy food.  It is similar to drinking Red Bull for a quick energy boost rather than eating a balanced meal.  It does not have the same effect.

In European countries and even cities such as New York and San Francisco, people walk.  Exercise is incorporated in the daily routine, without putting it on the “to do” list, thereby making it a chore along with a million other burdensome chores to be done.  People in such places are healthier and it is a form of social interaction as well.  Walkers interact with other pedestrians forging friendships and bonds.

I absolutely understand the value of exercise and how important it is for our well-being.  But, the gym truly is an exercise deterrent for me.

What is my answer?  None, for the time being, except continue with the unnatural thumping at the gym or walk amongst the road-ships.  I will continue my quest to derive new ways to “get motivated.”

In the words of my friend and the very fit fellow blogger Tanvii, maybe loving your wardrobe is sufficient motivation to stay fit and hit the gym!