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Anish Kapoor is an acclaimed British sculptor with roots in India.  He was born in India, but has lived in England for many a decades.  His works include bright medleys of deeply pigmented colors.  The colors are audacious and daring.  He uses reds, yellows, burnt oranges, royal blues, maroons.  Such colors are deeply rooted in the culture and fabric of his birthplace, India.  It is obvious that he was inspired by his roots.

 

anish kapoor

 

But, his works also include gigantic stark, bold, curved and metallic forms; almost industrial and space-age in nature.  These sculptures are a significant departure from his colored works.  Such works are indicative of a shift, an evolution, a progression and an expansion in his work.

 

anish kapoor

 

I have been discussing inspiration at length in my prior blogs and want to make a shift.  I do not want to discuss the “standard application” of inspiration for example from a magazine, website or even a book.  True, one can get inspired from anything and everything.  The creator of Chanel nail varnishes was inspired by the color on a grocery store bag for creating the Mimosa colored nail vernis (yellow).  So, when it comes to inspiration anything and everything can be inspiring as long as you have an open mind.

 

 

Part of our inspiration comes from our roots.  The place of our birth has a genetic predisposition on our thoughts and behavior.  That is why you see Anish Kapoor using deeply pigmented mounds of color in his sculptures.  The colors and the actual forms of the mounds are deep rooted in the traditions of India.  During the festival of colors called Holi, the Indian bazaars are littered with a psychedelic array of optical colors.  The bright blues, fuchsias, reds, oranges, yellows are meant to be besmeared on friends and loved ones in joy and celebration (no, it is not barbaric or offensive, but simply pure fun!)

In addition, the spice markets in India are cluttered with heaps of various shades of red hot chili powder, bright yellow turmeric powder and an array of colors.  Anish’s sculptures are very reminiscent of the Holi festival and the colorful spice bazaars of India.  He was inspired by his roots.

Well that is all very well and good.  But, he just did not stop there.  He evolved.  He did not stagnate.  His took his art form not just a notch higher, but did a paradigm shift by creating industrial looking sculptures.  In fact, he recently designed espresso cups for my favorite brand of coffee, Illy.  As you will note, there is no semblance of color or of Indian origin in the cup.  He released his roots, evolved and made an illusory cup for Illy.

 

illy coffee

 

In fashion, art or literature, I have often seen a repetition.  The original work is unique and inspired.  But subsequently there is a repetition.  That is why we see some designers repeating their designs season after season, authors writing books on basically the same story line, a sort of déjà vu, if you will.  Painters following the same theme, work after work.  Directors directing the same plots movie after movie (no pun intended Hangover 2!)  Ironically, if the product becomes commercially successful, the chances of evolution are even less likely as nobody wants to forego a true and tried formula for success.

The point is stagnation leads to decay.  Especially in creative fields, evolution leads to new ideas.  You simply cannot churn out the same old idea and package it with new marketing.  Anish is an example of true creativity as he eschewed inspirational roots for evolution.

In my photo, there is a whiff of my colorful roots of India, but I too eschewed my roots by wearing Church’s men’s oxfords with it.  It is a step towards evolution and  up-rooting.

 

 

 

louis vuittonchanelguccipradaversacehermes

 

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.

Ayurveda is a word of Sanskrit origin. It means “the complete knowledge for long life.” It is native to India and has been practiced for centuries by the great Rishis (sages) whose lives spanned over a period of a thousand years. They never aged, always maintained glistening taut skin (sans wrinkles) with lustrous hair and had physical fitness akin to the great Atlas.

Wow a good hook for a blog in our youth-centric society, isn’t it?

In modern world Ayurveda comes within the penumbra of holistic medicine, alternative medicine or some may even call it “hocus pocus.”

It is a form of lifestyle focusing on the mind-body connection. It was shunned for sometime by the Western world and was taken over by modern medicine, pharmaceutical companies and drug companies. But many have realized that only “quantity” of life is not sufficient–it needs to be symbiotic with “quality” of life–and hence have reverted back to this age-old way of life.

Under Ayurveda, we each have a unique mix of three mind/body principles which create our mental and physical characteristics. These three principles are called “doshas.” The three doshas are Vata, Pitta and Kapha. You can analyze your doshas in the quiz below. It is fun!

Chopra Dosha Quiz

Living and eating in accordance with our doshas leads to harmony of the mind and body. Proper intake of food is the underlying theme of Ayurveda as what you take in is a reflection of what you are.

Today I will share an Ayurvedic dish recipe with you that is easy to make, scrumptious and has the utmost health benefits. For me, it is comfort food, loaded with protein, yet easily digestible. It is warm, soft and soothing. It is suitable and beneficial for all doshas.

It is called Khichdi, which basically means a jumbled-up mixture of “this and that.”

Khichdi is eaten with a spoonful of what is called Ghee. Ghee is clarified butter in the purest form with no adulteration.

You fat-phobic people, please do not cringe as Ghee will make your skin glow, stall the Botox injections and keep all your doshas in order. It is the remedy for various ailments and you will not gain a kilo, pound or ounce!

amul ghee

 

My style of cooking is eclectic, just as my fashion sense. I do not do measurements, do not follow recipes and simply go by my instincts–a pinch of this, a handful of that, a dash of the other and a dollop of something else. In the end it all works out. Here is a simple recipe for Khichdi from my kitchen. Bear in mind, it is not about perfection. We are not at a big-box store. The universe does not call for perfection, but does call for experimentation at various levels. So let’s have fun!

You will need:

  • 1 cup Basmati rice (available in all grocery stores).
  • 1/2 cup mung dal (available in most grocery stores or a specialized Indian grocery store).  It looks like this:

mung dal

  • 4-6 cups water.
  • Rock salt or table salt to taste.
  • Pinch of  turmeric.
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (available at most grocery stores).
  • Thinly sliced fresh ginger.  I love lots of it!
  • 2 tbsps Ghee.

Wash the rice and mung dal. Use a heavy bottom pot. Sauté the cumin, turmeric and ginger briefly in ghee until the cumin turns light brown. Add the rice and dal along with water. Stir and mix. Partially cover the pot until you get one rolling boil. Then turn the heat down to low, cover the pot and let the Khichdi cook until the grains are soft and it is a mushy mess, like porridge (told you, I cook with instinct!).

Serve yourself and a loved one in a deep bowl, top it off with a dollop of ghee in the center (watch the ghee melt in the hot Khichdi, delectable!). Offer it to the universe of which we are a part and melt in the goodness of your being!

Namaste!

E-commerce or web shopping is a concept that has gained much momentum in the last decade or so.  It was in existence before, but not with such tour de force.  I have been a web shopper for more than a decade and absolutely love the wide array of products available at my disposal, the quietude of the shopping experience without dealing with throngs of shoppers or a sales person whose sole goal is to emit a plastic smile and push an item on me which blatantly does not suit me, fit me or flatter me in any shape or form.

I also love the diversity of web shopping.  Can you imagine with the power of web shopping we can browse products from the very talented designers of any country in the world and purvey their designs.  I especially love sites that showcase designers from countries such as Sweden, Germany and Denmark.  I have found them to be trend-defying with eclectic sensibilities.

For example, if you want to buy true class products from India and want to forego the tacky Buddha mural and the shimmery kurtas (long tunics) ubiquitous on all India related websites, Exclusively.In is a free membership site offering clothes, art, jewelry, shoes etc. from established and unconventional Indian designers.  So, without buying a ticket to India from makemytrip.com, you can buy your favorite jutti (embroidered babouche.)

Today I want to share with you my compilation of over a decade.  The web sites that I have tried and tested and have never been disappointed:

  • Mytheresa -A cutting edge, global web site, carrying the most current designs from designers such as Lanvin, Balenciaga, Dries Van Noten, Alexander McQueen and Marni.  The coolest part is you will have to pick the country you are in before starting the global shopping experience.
  • Polyvore -Carries a huge selection of current trends and links to thousands of other web sites.  You may simply get lost in the jargon of a utopian never-to-return land!
  • Barneys –A diverse web site fit for the hi-low dressing concept.  A “lifestyle” site if you may.  The variety ranges from dresses fit for watching the Black Swan at English National Ballet in London to a stroll in Central Park sipping on hot buttered rum in a Styrofoam cup.  From Cacharel to Chloe, from James Perse to J Brand, they have it all!
  • Opening Ceremony -An avant garde website showcasing progressive indie designs of Chloe Sevigny and Rachel Comey.  A true success story of clicks to bricks.
  • Moscot-I simply cannot pass up the opportunity to discuss my most coveted web site for the hippest, retro, bohemian, yet ultra-modern eyeglasses worn by the likes of Johnny Depp.  Opened in 1925 as a family business in NYC, it has a history that adds value to the eyewear.  On your next trip to NYC, a visit to the store located at 118 Orchard Street is a unique experience to experience the meeting of the two worlds, retro and modern.  For those of you who make “cerebral” style as their signature (such as the manrepeller,) a pair of reading glasses from this quaint NYC store is a must.
  • Pearlriver -If you love anything from China (who doesn’t and if you don’t in today’s commerce you better as you have no choice) then this is the site for you.  It carries all things Chinese without getting kitschy.  I love the Mao jackets from the men’s section.  Also, the brocade wrapped sandalwood and bee flower soaps can be a unique gift for a friend.  Chinese slippers to putter around the house and wonderful comic book inspired stuffed toys, great not only for children but used as throws on the couch to add the punch of color.  The website is frequently updated with new knick-knacks.
  • CreaturesofComfort -Another successful example of a site that went from clicks to bricks in L.A. and NYC.  With Japanese designers such as Tsumori Chisato and Acne on their roster, it is a delight to shop.
  • Net-a-Porter -Can a web shopping list be complete without a mention to this iconic website that has styles stocked straight from the runway.  They have a great app for the iPad for all iPad users.  And the best exchange/return policy.

Of course, as is the rule of nature all that is good goes hand in hand with some bad.  So, the main caveats and red-flags to keep in mind while web shopping are as follows:

  • Shop from a trusted web site.  All the web sites I have provided are reputable and are secure.  Look for the secure symbol in the payment page.
  • The web site should be fast-loading otherwise the whole blissful shopping experience is ruined.  All the web sites I have provided appear to have their own servers and are fast loading.
  • Be familiar with the return/exchange policy of the vendor.  Net-a-porter has the most customer friendly staff available and are ready and willing to help.  In fact, when I call them, I feel I am part of the NY fashion world as they are so cultured.
  • You MUST be size savvy.  Depending upon the origin of the website, the sizes are stated in different measurement standards.  The size numbers are different in Europe, U.S., Italy, Japan etc.  For example an Italian size 38 is roughly equivalent to a U.S. size 2.  Don’t go by the chart conversion as it is misleading.  The pictures are very accurate and give you an idea whether it is a fitted garment or loose flowing.  For example, if it is an extremely form fitted dress, I might want to go a size larger so that I can breathe.  Shoes can be tricky, Louboutin’s usually run one size small.  If you have shopped the brand before, just use that size.  Easy peezy!
  • My most important tip!  Make sure you read the fabric composition details.  I am allergic to wool, so even a 10% “Lana” component will make my skin cringe as if a porcupine rubbed its quills all over me.
  • Enlarge the photo of the item you are buying and view it with a 360 degree view.  There are times when I love the dress from the front, but when I turn it around there is a huge bow at the back.  Sorry not for me, no need for extra volume in the back!

So, my friends rise, turn on the kettle to make the steaming cup of Danesi coffee, cuddle up in the super-soft blanket and turn on the iPad!  Buon divertimento!

As a person of Indian descent, wearing a rainbow of colors is part of my DNA. India’s description as a “colorful country” is apt and reflects its rich culture, heritage and traditions. It is also a description of the colorful spirit of the people, whether related to spiritualism, food or fashion.  The food is colorful, spicy and hot, and so is the clothing–bright, iridescent, vivid and luminous.

 

Sabyasachi

In India, you will see people in various walks of life, going about their daily routines wearing colors like incandescent yellow, fiery fuchsia, sunburst orange and fluorescent violet. You will see not only “pops of color” (an extremely ubiquitous term used in the Western world to describe even a slight peek of color in an outfit), but people wearing “bursts of color.” In fact you will see “explosions of color.”

In the Western world, I became familiar with the age-old (and for the most part dated) concepts of fashion, such as wearing only black makes one look thinner; or petite-framed people should not wear bright prints; or wearing one color from top to bottom streamlines the silhouette. Since most of us are not blessed with the necessary physical attributes to fit into the perfect matrix allowing us to wear colors, we are left with the limited choice of wearing basic blacks, blues and greys.  It becomes a dull, drab and colorless existence, and I vehemently put my red soled Louboutin clad foot down!

The fashion designers of India reflect the colorful spirit and soul of the people. India is currently holding the equivalent of Milan and Paris fashion week. It is called the Lakme India Fashion Week, named after the iconic cosmetic brand. One of my favorite young, upcoming and cerebral designers is Sabyasachi. His designs capture the essence and soul of India. He not only incorporates a rainbow of colors into his designs, but also weaves a strand of the intelligent Indian brain into the look–after all, haven’t Indians made their mark all over the world in varied fields such as science and technology? And not to forget the powerful Ms. Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi.

Sabyasachi’s styling is unique with the oversized cat-eye reading glasses and hermit-like buns on top of the head. His designs have the right amount of color and flair to be striking.

Jil Sander

Jil Sander

 

This season I was pleasantly surprised to see Western designers taking a chance with bright colors and bold patterns. Designers such as Raf Simons for Jil Sander did a brilliant job at the Paris Fashion Week with dresses made of big and bold print fabrics. The last few collections of Raf Simons have been the same, steeped with intense colors and designs.

Jil Sander

Colors are meant to be worn, to be experimented with and to give a delight to our spectral sensitivities. They lend boldness to our style and spirit. So, wear them with delight and pride.

India’s official entry for the race to the Oscars. What are the first two thoughts that enter your mind when you think of movies from India? Well, either it is a BOLLYWOOD bonanza or a documentary depicting the dire straits of the poor in India. Either the images of festivities, exotic international locales, gorgeous long lustered gamine-esque lasses dancing around trees, men with bodies sculpted as if Michelangelo himself decided to sculpt David II pop into your head, OR you see the images of a poor, hungry, emaciated woman who sells herself such that her family can eat two square meals. Yes, extremes are shown in films from the sub-continent of India.

Well, brace yourself—this movie is neither. Yes, it has a dose of stark reality depicting the very bleak, basic, glamour-free rural India. Yes, it portrays the plight of the back-bone of India, THE FARMERS. Yes, it shows the wickedness of the politicians and the exploitation by the media of these naïve farmers.

But the film is also interwoven with intelligent and realistic humor. The humor is peppered throughout the film from the extremely salty expletives used by the 90 year old crippled mother to the almost nonchalant attitude of the farmer who is on the hook to commit suicide in a mere 72 hours. From the perfectly formulated British English of the aggressive TV correspondent to the various political angles of the politicians. At times it reaches such absurdism that one is compelled to guffaw out aloud.

The basic plot is that farmers are on the brink of losing their only ancestral asset to the government due to an unpaid loan. The government has a program that if a debtor commits suicide, the loan is waived to help the surviving members of the family. A poor unsuspecting farmer becomes a pawn between the media and the various levels of the corrupt government.

It is a movie about hope and moving on.  It truly depicts the resilient spirit of rural India. It portrays the essence of a true Indian; no matter how difficult the circumstances, one can find the courage to move on. A lesson to be learnt for those of us who rely on Prozac to deal with the “not so dire straits” in life.

P.S. The cherry on the cake is the excellent music by the band named Indian Ocean.