I am from India. Hence, befalls upon me the duty to blog at least once about the industry that is the beating heart, deep soul and the throbbing pulse of India-The Indian Film Industry aka BOLLYWOOD.
Indian film industry is based in Bombay (now known as Mumbai). It is fondly known as Bollywood, possible name origination from Hollywood. It is massively influential not only in the home country but has a growing popularity internationally as well. With India being on the global map, Indian cinema’s popularity has exponentially increased.
Bollywood churns out twice as many movies as Hollywood in a span of one year. With movies such as Slumdog Millionaire and exports like Freida Pinto, an increasing number of Western audience are becoming familiar with not only the colorful song and dance routine that is so integral to Bollywood movies, but thanks to the portrayal of slums, the debilitating poverty in India as well.
For the purposes of this blog and because I am an insider, I will introduce you to a quintessential theme in Indian cinema that is patently latent for the foreign eye, yet prevalent in most Indian movies. It is also a little insight into the pre-disposition of the Indian brain, especially the male brain.
It is the Madonna-Whore theme on celluloid.
Women are an integral part of Indian cinema. In most Indian films women are portrayed in two ways. Either they are shown as a pious, sacrificing, maternal figure or Madonna. Or they are depicted as the wanton, sexy, lustful, glamour doll or whore.
The sacrificing maternal figure may as well be called a sacrificial lamb. The adversities of her life are higher than Mount Everest and insurmountable; not even Edmund Hillary in flesh and blood could peak the heights of such misery.
The hardships start at a young age when she is coerced into marriage against her will to a much older man and from there on the misery chapter of her life starts. The script usually goes like this-she gets pregnant after marriage; one of her kids is born without a limb and is handicapped; the burden of taking care of this child falls entirely upon her slim shoulders; the husband is an alcoholic loser who drinks, gambles and at the end of the day beats her up; she works like a dog doing menial jobs where again she is abused and exploited by her employer and then the poverty, oh such cruel poverty that two square meals will be considered to be a banquet. Despite all these calamities, she is able to educate her handicapped child who in turn becomes a famous doctor and just when one would think that the anguish is about to end, she gets cancer and dies. Throughout the movie she is dressed in a white sari, the color of grieving. It is a perpetual saga of despondency, melancholy and wretchedness.
One of the great classic Indian movies of all times named Mother India, is a perfect example of this ideal, sacrificing woman.
The audiences come out of such a movie with tears rolling down their cheeks and a renewed respect and reverence for a woman.
This mother or “ Madonna” figure is the signature illustration of an ideal Indian woman in Bollywood. She is pious, sacrificing and wallowing in eternal suffering. The audiences bow to her-she is Madonna.
In the opposite extreme you have the woman depicted as a seductress. She is an enchantress, a femme fatale, a temptress, a vamp all rolled into one tight package. She oozes sexuality and lust with flat abs, protruding breasts, luscious lips, cascading ravenous hair, skimpy clothes and a husky voice. Most of the camera frames are angled to focus on her anatomy, especially the sexually stimulating body parts such as the plump lips, heaving breasts and swinging derriere.
The sexuality interpreted through this woman is so over the top that it makes all the Victoria’s Secret models look like nuns.
The audiences come out of her movie panting with lust and sexual tension. This woman is purely objectified as a sex-object-she is a whore.
You must have noted the dichotomy in Bollywood movies by now. Women are either put on a pedestal and given the veneration and respect of a Madonna or simply portrayed as an object of lust.
Interestingly, most Indian cinema is hesitant to portray Indian women as both being a mother and also a seductress. The two concepts appear to be diametrically opposed and do not seem to merge in a Bollywood woman.
In all honesty, the tides are changing in Indian cinema. Modern cinema is becoming trendy, issue based, somewhat intelligent and more realistic. But for the past many decades the true and tried formula of the Madonna/whore theme has been a sure shot success at the box office.
What is your opinion? Can meaningful cinema depict a woman both as a Madonna and a sex object?
I experienced a surge of emotions when I first saw this photo. The Elegance of the gentleman took my breath away! So polished and tasteful! Such finesse and refinement. It forced me to stop, stare and think.
Elegance has become somewhat of an obsolete concept in the modern society. Crude and rough behavior/actions are considered aggressive and are rewarded. Alarmingly, aggressiveness is somehow a virtue in modern times!
People talk loud, dress loud, act loud. For a slice of loudness, experiment going to a Starbucks at 6.00 a.m. The energy is palpable. The loud whirring of the fan is deafening (why one would need a fan in 60 degrees temperature is beyond my comprehension.) The Baristas wired on caffeine are screaming long, incomprehensible drink orders; the patrons on their Blackberrys are trying to talk over the noisy din and of course the shrill whirring of the cappuccino machine adds to the madness. Nope, there is nothing in this scene that is even close to being defined as a “coffee break!”
The expression “squeaky wheel gathers the most grease” is apt and appropriate in present times. In a recent article I read, as per statistical data, the employees who spoke the loudest and were most boisterous got the maximum raises and least reprimands. Yes, no place for a person with delicate, fine sensibilities in our society. Dress loud, speak loud and in general live loud is the mantra! Cult shows such as Jersey Shore and the Kardashians are a perfect example.
Vulgarity is sexy and roughness a turn-on!
The “casual” look has replaced the “formal” look. Jeans and t-shirts are perfectly acceptable in most settings, even formal ones.
In the midst of such coarseness when one sees an elegant gentleman, regally perched on his bicycle is cooling for the eyes and senses. It is a breath of fresh air. It make you stop and stare, even if for a rushed moment.
Notice the attention to detail in his dressing-the peak-a-boo striped socks and shirt cuffs; the thin silhouette of the suit; the well-trimmed silver beard; the retro glasses perched on the bridge of his nose, the well-polished loafers; the suede elbow patches. An absolute optical delight!
It is evident that he took time to get dressed. There is attention to detail. He takes pride in the small things. He has dignity and grace. He is polished and refined. He is an Elegant Man. I am compelled to stop and stare at him.
DISCLAIMER: This is an introspective piece. Any materials contained in this blog are not reflective of any person I know, have known or will know, blogger or otherwise. I love my blogger friends and they have brought nothing but sheer joy and love to my life. Any resemblance to a person/blogger is purely accidental, unintentional and fictitious. The picture of mine has absolutely nothing to do with this blog and is simply to comply with the visual appeal standards recommended in various blogging manuals, thereby luring readers to skim through the blog as a necessary component in facilitating traffic!
Having said that, here we go!
It has been a few months since I last blogged. Part of it was due to paucity of time related to pressures of work, part of it due to laziness (it is surprising how quickly the human body adapts to a lazy, lackadaisical attitude) and part of it was because of a general and sudden disdain towards blogging. You could call it the “burn-out” factor or maybe on a more philosophical, elevated level the questions that festered in my mind were “why,” “what is the point,” and “does anyone really care that I blog or not.”
I know, I know there is much to be said about the joys of blogging. For example, the sheer joy that encompasses a blogger; the “a-ha” finding yourself moment; the moment where the clouds drift and it becomes crystal clear that blogging is your calling, your destiny, your passion; the halo one gets from sharing, giving, receiving, tweeting and re-tweeting; the joys of experiencing ceaseless love thru #FF and the list goes on.
So, you must be asking right about now, isn’t that enough for you? What else do you need? You complainer, you!
I admit, for the most part blogging has been a very rewarding experience for me. I have made lovely friends, received a lot of love and shared a part of me.
The “burn-out” factor came with the numbers game. I confess it is probably a self-imposed pressure, but nevertheless “pressure.” With my delicate sensibilities, pressure is not conducive for my mental well-being (ha ha!) I work in the legal field and get enough pressure all day. Do I really need to or have to handle blogging pressure on top of that. So, cut me some slack and give me a break!
The numbers game can be broken down into so many sub-parts such as the number of comments you get on a blog that you have put so much time and effort into. I have consistently noticed a good quality blog gets much fewer comments than a picture of a person shot in the backyard wearing jeans and a t-shirt. DISCLAIMER: There is nothing wrong in wearing jeans and t-shirts or shooting pictures in the backyard! It is all about expression. (Gosh, it appears that this blog will be all about disclaimers!)
The point I am making is that the general viewer tends to veer towards the lighter blogs. It may or may not be visually stimulating and in all fairness what is visually stimulating for one maybe a turn-off for the other. It all depends upon the sensibilities of each individual, especially when it comes to subjective standards such as art and fashion.
Although, I will say that certain things, objects, fashions, styles, literature can be judged by universal standards of being visually attractive or not. There is not much left for interpretation. A Henri Matisse painting will be found beautiful by general and well-accepted standards of beauty! If you do not, well then you should not be on my blog.
There are a number of reasons, why “quality” “content-heavy” blogs, do not receive much traffic and it has nothing to do with the intelligence of the reader. One big factor is lack of time. Readers do not have the time or maybe the desire to read “content-heavy” blogs. Simply, scrolling through the pictures is much easier and quicker.
Another reason is that most readers comment on blogs to get reciprocal traffic back. There is much written in blog-dom about giving meaningful comments and to give meaningful comments one will have to READ the content-heavy blog which takes time and comprehension skills. Easier to make a spiffy comment such as “Love your hat” and move onto the next blog. This way you multiply your chances of receiving higher reciprocal traffic back. It is as simple as hitting the “like” button on Facebook. Quick and thoughtless!
Of course, when you do get comments, then you are compelled to reciprocate the comments whether you like it or not, as you are way deep into the numbers game and do not want to “lose your readers.” My point is if your readers like you, they should keep commenting whether you comment on their blog or not. I mean, does Anna Wintour comment on my blog and yet I religiously read the Vogue month after month!
And in this ceaseless vicious circle of “I’ll comment on yours, if you comment on mine,” how many people are really interested in you or your blog? Makes me wonder.
Then there is the pressure of blogging “at least 3 times a week” to increase traffic. In all honesty, unless you are making money out of the blog and are doing it on a full time basis or have a trust fund or a sugar daddy, it is impossible to do it with a regular job! There is simply no time.
Oh wait, wait there is more! The photos, the dreaded photos! I don’t know about you, but taking photos has lost its appeal for me after I started blogging. It seems like a chore. Buckled under the constant pressure of “putting new content” on the web it seems like dressing up is punishment. How many photos can one take of oneself in the same setting, with almost the same expression on the face. Don’t people get bored of me! And why would they want to see me, when they can sift through Style.com and see Lara Stone with her voluptuous lips and va-va-voom body wearing the most exquisite styles! DISCLAIMER: There is nothing wrong in taking pictures of oneself in the same setting, with the same expression. I am only expressing my opinion and it is not a reflection of anyone or any person I know, have known or will know!
Now, I will be very blunt, because isn’t blogging all about sharing, being honest and being true to oneself. I write quality blogs. I take my readers through journeys that are unique. I introduce them to new things, new ideas and new experiences. I admit I may sound arrogant and conceited but it is true! I am well-versed in the art of living life elegantly, whether it is related to fashion, style, food or culture. I know what is visually attractive and what is not! I have travelled the world and spent most of my conscious years dreaming, reading, buying, studying fashion, style and culture. I am intelligent, write well and bring uniqueness to my blog via the myriad of experiences I have had in my life.
The question now is should I have to or need to change my blog in order to interest the “general” reader, thereby generating more traffic for the blog? Am I forced to stand in my backyard with the same expression on my face, wearing jeans and a t-shirt so that I can appeal to the “average” reader? Do I need to shorten my blogs and write about a mundane subject that I have no interest in whatsoever so that I can get more eyeballs on my blog? Should I have to post three blogs a week such that I can get some traffic and then possibly an ad on my blog? Should I have to comment on blogs I don’t find visually or intellectually stimulating? My answer is NO. If blogging is all about being true to myself, then I will blog on my own terms, traffic or not!
DISCLAIMER: All the disclaimers noted above are applicable to the entirety of this blog.
Inspiration is an idea. Inspiration is a vision. Inspiration is a revelation. Inspiration is creative genius. We are all inspired by something or the other when it comes to expression of our personal style. We use our inspiration and adapt it to our personal sensitivity and perception. However, at times we inhibit ourselves from fully expressing our core personality due to multiple reasons. It could be because we have an image to uphold; shyness; societal pressures; past experiences or just because we have never done it before and do not want to set any precedence.
Uninhibited expression is liberating! That is what makes us truly unique!
I want to provide this forum as an opportunity to my readers to express themselves freely. A forum where you can have absolute creative freedom with no inhibitions or restrictions, even if it lasts for one blog entry. I requested one of my very favorite bloggers and my dear sensitive friend Jamillah to adapt one of her inspirations to her personal style sans inhibitions and restrictions. Thank you Jamillah for putting so much thought and effort into the blog. You have dared to shed your inhibitions and taken a beautiful step towards uninhibited expression. Enjoy!
Hello friends of Ambuji, my name is Jamillah and I blog over at made-to-travel. I am thrilled to be guest posting on Ambu’s blog and really was inspired (and flattered!) by her request.
When it comes to personal style we all make our own boundaries whether due to our professions or a persona we want to embody or the fear of a certain kind of attention or the want of a certain kind of attention…for whatever reason we stop ourselves from being something else.
But that does not keep us from being inspired by something or wishing for something more. Ambu’s challenge to me was to choose a piece of art that inspires something in me that is not articulated in my personal style and try to personify it.
Not an easy task, but the first piece of art that came to mind was Egon Schiele’s Kneeling Girl in Orange-Red Dress (1910).
Egon Schiele was born in 1890 in the Austrian village Tulln on the Danube. His father was a station agent in the railways and after his death Schiele was sent to live with his maternal uncle. Once his uncle saw Schiele had a proclivity to art and no interest in traditional academics he had Schiele apply to Kunstgewerbeschule (the School of Arts and Crafts) in Vienna in 1906. Then at the insistence of his professors at the School of Arts and Crafts Schiele was sent to the more traditional Akademie der Bildenden Künste to study painting and drawing.
But this new setting frustrated Schiele, he did not take to the conservative ways of the Academy so he sought out Gustav Klimt. Klimt was known to generously mentor and take in young artist and after meeting Schiele he took a special interest to him and his talents.
Schiele left the Academy and began to explore not just the human form but also its sexuality. His work was often called grotesque, deemed pornography, and labeled disturbing.
Sadly, Egon Schiele died young in 1918, a victim of the Spanish Flu epidemic at the age of 28. Schiele was able to experience acceptance and success in his art before his early passing; read more on Egon Schiele here.
Schiele’s work is amazing to me. His nudes are incredibly graphic and human but also surreal. There is something incredibly raw and strong and sexy in his work which is what made me choose him and what made me select Kneeling Girl in Orange-Red Dress.
So I should tell you a bit about myself. My blog, made-to-travel is really a joyful space. I blog on my ethical fashion finds, my personal style and random happiness I find. In my real life and blogsphere I am a positive person, a happy person, easily excited and warm, and really I LOVE it. Those qualities are lovely and I would not change ANY of that.
But these qualities I think influence my style and how my style is perceived. I’m often called cute and pretty and while those are great things to be I am so inspired by this raw, edgy, provocative work of Schiele’s because I think I wish I would incorporate more of that edge and feeling into my persona and style.
I want to feel sexy and raw and be provocative. And thanks to Ambu I get to express that.
Ok, admittedly maybe not the most obviously sexy or provocative dress but that’s not how the Kneeling Girl in Orange-Red Dress projects sexuality and that is not how I believe Schiele depicts it in his work (yes, I am referring to the nudes too).
I believe it is much more human than showing skin and so much deeper than nudity…it is that look in the eyes of Schiele’s subjects that make me think desire. That human look of being coy and being raw and mischievous with intent.
If I am completely honest I have to say what holds me back from keeping that look in my eyes lies in confidence and also being a bit specific in the kind of attention I want to attract.
I come from a family that didn’t talk about appearance much. I was really raised to be academic, kind and strong and now I think I manage my appearance to not distract from those qualities. And I am happy with that too, I really do enjoy my style and I’m sure it’s bound to evolve and change so maybe one day I’ll be more dark and sexy but right now I’m happy with being warm and pretty.
Thank you so much dear friend Ambu, for allowing me to express myself in this way. It’s actually been a real treat and a telling and valuable exercise for me.
The tagline for made-to-travel is , “look for joy…always” and really that’s my wish for all of you.
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.
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 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.
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!
Psychology was my major in college. I was quite mesmerized by the Freudian theories of Id, Ego and Superego.
The Id theory is the part of the personality predicating on the pleasure principle. Instant gratification.
Speaking of instant gratification, I was passing by the Louis Vuitton store the other day and saw a horde of people inside. There was commotion and chaos. Kids were running around and adults looked frazzled. The first thought that crossed my mind was oh my goodness; there is a mob inside the store!
Usually one does not expect to see droves of people inside stores with LV kind of exclusivity factor. You expect to see a select few carousing the products in their well-heeled soles and under the very watchful eye of the security guard. The tones are hush and the sales staff move around stealthily in the background in their dark sleek uniforms and perfectly gelled hair.
So why the radical change? Why do I hear sounds of babies howling rather than hush mellifluous tones? Why do I see baby bottles on the counters rather than strategically placed trinkets to lure the buyer to buy add-ons “just because” along with the other hefty four-figure purchases.
Such swarms are seen in and expected to be seen in more “mass friendly” stores. Curiosity got the better of me and I peeked inside. To my utter shock what did I see? A line, yes a queue of people waiting patiently to pay for the “exclusive” four figures and up monogramed bags! There was surrealism to the moment.
I was befuddled, confused and perturbed. Aren’t we going through the worst global economic crisis of all times? Isn’t the employment rate in the U.S. the highest since the Great Depression? Isn’t the crashing Greek economy threating to cast a dark shadow of doom over the entire economy of the European continent? But here, right before my eyes, straight in my ocular field I was witnessing a long queue of people clamoring to have thousands of dollars charged on their credit cards for a few alphabetic symbols.
Were these people simply succumbing to satisfying their Id personality? Seeking instant gratification. Or were they endorsing their status in society via the monogrammed letters, giving them a feeling of success and a sense of having arrived?
Most likely it is a mixture of both, satisfying the Id and an endorsement of societal status. After all, aren’t the two interchangeable?
While in the Western world, there is an economic crisis, in the remaining parts of the world there is an economic boom. The BRIC nations, Brazil, Russia, India and China are going through an unparalleled monetary upward swing. The buying power of the so-called middle-class is rising exponentially. Such amassing of wealth has given rise to a heightening in the Id personality. And how is the Id gratified? On a base level, by an acquisition of Brand products.
On one of my recent visits to India, I was amazed to see the power of the Brands on the psyche of the masses. The worth of a person is judged according to the Brands he or she is wearing. For example the Brand of purse she is carrying or the wallet he is whipping out. There is plenty of disposable income and the Brands are happily obliging by rushing to satiate the deep hunger of masses with increasingly deep pockets.
There is most likely minimal to zero knowledge regarding the rich history, the origin, the culture or the value of the Brand, but there is definite knowledge of the power the Brand wields in society. Such consumer may mis-pronounce an elite Brand such as Hermes and de-value it by rhyming it with a viral genital disease, (you know what I mean) but hey everyone recognizes the giant lock on the bag which will lead to the unanimous verdict of having arrived, thereby satisfying the Id.
Such consumers use their Brand possessions strategically. The monogrammed Brands usually “come-out” during group gatherings such as parties, swanky club get-togethers, ladies lunches etc. The Brands are not used for solitary occasions. I mean, why use a Brand when nobody can see it.
This makes me wonder. Was the Brand purchased solely for display? Is the value of the Brand solely to exhibit ones status in society? Does the Brand have absolutely no worth to the user as an individual?
If such is the case, in my opinion the Brand is de-valued.
The symbols are meant for enjoyment-the LV, the H, the two G’s, the two C’s, the EA. They most certainly satisfy the Id. But let’s move to a higher level of Ego and leave behind the superficiality of merely the possessory and display value of the alphabets. How about exploring the history and origin of the alphabets. Learn how a poor cobbler in the remote village of France started the business, one hide at a time, hand stitching each bag to the point of utmost perfection. How an empire was built from a mom and pop owned family business. Learn the vision of the brand, its culture, its ethics.
Use it for your own enjoyment and think of its rich history while carrying it to the supermarket where you don’t expect to meet any one from your social circle.
Then you will truly derive “added-value” from your Brand possession. You will satisfy not just the Id but the Ego.
There is a lightness to life in Italy. A buoyancy, an effervescence, an inconsequential grace. You might say, what does that mean? In simple terms there is looseness in living, an elasticity, nobody takes life too seriously. They eat, drink and are “contento” and “felice.”
I too feel the lightness of being when I am there. The sordid thoughts are dispersed; the worries are dispensed; the weight of the world slips off my slender shoulders (at least I think my shoulders are slender!) I espouse the infectious energy of the Italians.
Going with the flow is part of being an Italian. They do not try to control every aspect of their lives. I suppose being loose is a big part of cultures other than the United States. Indian culture is the same, there is a lack of rigidity in day to day life. So, the shops open at 11 o’ clock in the morning and after a mere few hours close at 2:30 for the afternoon siesta. In America, that is a no-no. After all, time is money baby! Every second of the day must be productive. Well, not in Italy. I learnt to take those afternoon hours and fall into a sweet slumber, wake up with a rejuvenated glow on my skin, ready to take on the world, face any challenge, confront the mightiest of an obstacle.
But wait, wait…first I need to sit and take a break with my cappuccino and tremazzini. After that I will take on any challenge.
Oh really? Did I forget that after coffee, it is time to meet friends for a Prosecco or Spritz Aperol with potato wafers and olives. That is a dilemma! Well, I do have a solution for the dilemma. The solution is there is no hurry, no rush, nothing urgent. I can always confront the challenges “Domani” (tomorrow.) Yes, that is the attitude of the Italians. I call it the “Domani Attitude.” Why not, there is nothing wrong in it. The past is gone; the future is unknown; it is only but the present moment we have; it is only but the present moment we have to fulfill our desires.
So, armed with my Domani Attitude, it is the simpler things that I enjoy most in Italy. Yes, Italy is a treasure of ancient art, architecture, culture, languages and beauty. But, what brings me most joy is sitting in a cafe sipping my coffee with the biscotti and seeing life go by, observing, watching, reveling in the beautiful moment.
For me food and drinks are a big part of living life elegantly. What better place than Italy to exercise the elegance. I want to share with you a few of my favorites that help me enjoy the moment.
It is a sparkling wine made from a grape grown in the Veneto region of Italy. It is the sweetest, most ambrosial, delicious bubbly you will ever taste. It has absolutely no effects of alcohol, at least for me. Even my mum, who has never had a drop of alcohol in her life, found it to have medicinal capabilities to soothe her stomach!
- Spritz Aperol
The national drink of Italy. At any hour, particularly after 3 or 4 o’ clock you will see a bevy of Italians sitting in crowded cafes and bistros, laughing, joking and drinking the orange colored beverage in goblets. It is a reflection of the lightness of being that I talked about earlier. It is an aperitif produced by the Campari company. It stimulates the appetite.
You can make one at home, but nothing like sitting and drinking it at a cafe on Via Condotti. In a goblet pour 1 1/2 ounces Aperol, 2 ounces chilled Prosecco or other sparkling wine, and a splash of chilled seltzer or mineral water. Garnish with a piece of orange.
- Fresh blood orange juice
It is ruby red, it is freshly squeezed even at a gas station, it is not chilled, it has pulp and most times served in a warm sterilized glass. I would take the ruby red glass over a ruby ring any day.
The word tramezzino means “in-between”, hence you have it in-between meals. It is a triangular Italian sandwich made from two slices of heavenly white, soft bread with crusts removed. It is a reminiscent of my Heidi reading days. A most cherished book of my childhood written by Johanna Spyri where Heidi used to take divinely soft bread rolls for her grandfather.
My favorite is the funghi (mushroom) Tramezzini. Delizioso!!!
I don’t care what people may say about my taste and style, but I adore the eccentric, intellectual, cerebral, anti-establishment, non-conforming, highbrow genius of Miuccia Prada. Forget the shopping, buying, credit cards, debts, all the wearisome, burdensome worries. Just pop into Prada on Via Condotti in Rome and absorb the view of the Spanish steps from inside Prada.
An experience par excellence. A tribute to the Domani Attitude.