Branding the Lockdown!!!

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She had always been teased by her friends as being paranoid to an extreme. Of course she didn’t believe them and went about her business as usual inspite of protests from those around her.
Her visits to any public loo in India way back, was non existent. She had mastered the art of telling her bladder to shut up and muscles to squeeze hard until every last drop of its contents had been pushed back into the intestines waiting to be allowed to flow down and out at a more prudent time.
Thank God for cleaner hotels and malls which allowed her to dare once in a while and the visit dedicated to the extraction of byproducts from her sterile body was nothing short of an execution of military precision and timing accompanied with a few audible gasps and groans , exclamations and expletives, shrieks and abuses and a lot of shuffling, struggling, wiping and washing….sounds alien to the queues of ladies waiting outside her cubicle, squirming embarrassedly as they tried hold things in until its occupant rushed out like she was being chased by a demon, straight to the washbasin. Here her training further put up a spectacle for the benefit of the onlookers as she clutched her handbag between her knees, turned the tap and squirted soap from the dispenser with her elbow and scrubbed her hands like there were germs the size of anacondas on them (which there may well have been) . The elbow again, the knees still in play, holding on to the bag for dear life as she wobbled to the air dryer and waved her hands under them like she was slapping the germs in the air with a vengeance!!
Clean and dry finally she would grab her bag from between her legs, smile as if the last 20 minutes were a normal occurrence and stride out of the washroom with a nonchalant wave of her germ free hand.
Her anti germ avoidance precision abilities or AGAPA as we call them, were now even more crucial and were about to be put into play as she prepared to fly home to Mumbai after being stuck indoors in Delhi for the past 3 months.
The thought of stepping out of the front door and into a cloud of corona viruses was a daunting one but she had made the decision to brave it all and head home whatever might be.
She was sick of being stuck in an alien home of an aunt with 3 kids and no servant and had reached the last tether her sanity…she who lived alone , peacefully alone ,on the 7th floor of a plush apartment building with only her maid and the breeze from the balcony to disturb her thoughts. Nothing could stop her now !
She was off to war and she undertook the challenge with a war like footing.
All packed, she dressed in a jiffy, her Dior blouse and skirt immaculate as was her Prada scarf and Loubs. Her Birkin contained a pack of wipes, sanitizer sprays and liquids, extra matching masks and gloves.
Branded top to toe, she stopped to admire herself in the mirror and gave herself a pep talk about how easy it would be and smiled tremulously at her image in the mirror.
Her annoying cousin yelled out to her that her taxi had arrived and could she hurry up please!!
Gladly, she thought, and blew herself a kiss as she bade goodbye to the tacky room she had made her home for the past 3 months.

Dragging her huge suitcase ..the brand of which need not be discussed…she stepped out of her room with her trusted Birkin on her elbow and into the lobby where her aunt stood fussing and crying crocodile tears at the sight of her leaving.
Waving her hand at her cousins she instructed one of them to fetch a box from the table which she then proceeded to open and unwrap.
Lo and behold, she had her customised PPE kit from her favourite store all ready to slide into!!! Having contacted many a store and negotiated the price, design and fit of the body suit, she had finally decided on the final look and had it delivered to her a day before she stepped out to into this dangerous world to take it on like she was Super Woman !!
Wipe wipe wipe, spray spray spray, yell yell yell , squeal squeal squeal….she finally made it into and out of the airport and into her car 5 incongruosly long hours later having conquered the world.
She had flattened her curve and taken on the virus single handedly! She WAS Super Woman!!!
As she settled into her familiar sheets and pillows and allowed her eyelids to droop with a sigh, she remembered thinking that she would have to get a few more body suits made ASAP…It wouldn’t do be seen wearing the same one the next time she ventured out !!

Do Our Kids Think We Are Uncool ??

 

 

The voice of many a seasoned Half Centurion or Octogenarian ….

Plodding through our 50’s and 60’s , a tad slower with more wrinkles perhaps and less hair we may be giving off the wrong signals.
Signals that are being interpreted as “They are done for, bygones, have-beens, shoddy, outdated, unsavvy, over careful and under zealous”!! Signals that make us look like those smoke ones used back when digitalization hadnt happened yet…not that with-it maybe but supremely effective if you look closer.

This generation with their fancy gadgets and swish technology, with their netflix’s and digital live streams think we are dinosaurs but simply dont know what they have missed out on. Something that we have been more lucky about cos we have seen the best of both the worlds.

Have these judgemental next gens ever known a time when one had jam sessions in school and actual houseparties rather than the zoom kind. When one dressed up in bell bottoms and shiny white blouses and set off in a friends open hooded car to a birthday party ,holding on to their gifts and hair with equal concern as the 14yr old behind the wheel drove recklessly on the almost empty road.
A birthday party where there was no liquor but lots of music and food and bumping and high fives. Where the youngsters eyed their crushes from afar and warily asked them to dance, grooving happily to Boney M and Abba as their friend sent across wolf  whistles to urge them on, resulting in bright red cheeks , flushed with happiness and vigour.
Do our kids think only they party, only they flirt or only they know music?

Times may have changed but now’s octogenarians  were young and restless once. They too were fashionable, they too had wild parties with beers and brawn.
They could speak politics too, and cinema and music and art and history and science . It was practical knowledge that stemmed from learning and retaining facts and figures without the help of google.
It resulted from physical and verbal interaction with friends and peers…healthy verbosity that was exchanged face to face instead of via whatsapp messages.
It was an age when a person  was recognised by his handwriting. I wonder how many new gens can recognise themselves, let alone their handwriting.

We believed in being there not in virtualism.
We believed in making it and not faking it. We were simpletons maybe compared to this generation but not idiots. No way were we foolish…. naive maybe sometimes, too trusting maybe sometimes, too uncool for today maybe but too too cool in our own ways.

Let us not pass off our generation as done-with cos we still have a lot more from where it comes. We still are more disciplined and hard working. We still are more outgoing and energetic. We dont spend our days in front of monitors…we are outdoorsy, we play, we dance, we exercise , we flaunt, we socialize, we sing, we dance, we travel , we capture, we preserve.

We are from the repair generation not the throw generation so we believe in repairing …electronics, furniture, relationships, lost confidences, low energies, health issues, forgotten hobbies , broken hearts and faltering wills.

Rather than give up on us , you kids can benefit from learning a lot from us..we didnt have it so easy. We wernt handed comforts on a silver platter, we weren’t born into money with our own roofs over our heads. We strived to eradicate our shortcomings, we fought to improve our conditions, we worked hard to get to where we are and still have the capacity to have a good time…practically not virtually.

Dont write us off so soon, dont kill us off so soon, dont give up on us so soon. We still have a lot to pass on to you if only you would listen. If only you would open your hearts and minds to us. If only you knew where we were coming from !!
Our hair maybe peppered with grey, the cellulite on our cheeks being defied by gravity. Our youthful looks maybe have been overtaken by maturity lines and our waists may be harboring a couple of muffins and tyres but our souls are still young and our energies compete with the most athletic of you.

We are the ones that have a disciplined lifestyle..we are the ones that enjoy all that netflix has to offer too yet we awake to the dawn and we exercise and we sing. We work to make you comfortable even if our BP is over the roof. We make sure we fill your stomachs with delectable bites even if our stomachs are on fire with acidity. We keep up with you all, even bypass you in some ways.
We are more social and sociable, we love to shake a leg still , we love to sing and we love to encourage. Our memories are sacred and we are not ashamed to capture them and hold them close to our bosoms.
We may not seem so cool to you but believe me, we are damn well so!!!

There are some positives too !!!

 

 

Words like eerie, deafening, bizarre, desolate, resounding etc have often been used to describe the sound of silence.
However, today, the only words I can think of are reassuring, beautiful, heartening, appropriate, enlightening and soothing.
This stay at home during the corona virus pandemic might be proving very difficult to most people especially those who are dependant on daily chores and wages or regular practical jobs and do not have the luxury of sitting at home but the janta curfew today comes like a breath of fresh air…literally!
The slowdown has already proven that pollution levels are lower. Animals have started returning to their natural habitats which have been run over by human activity….most of you must have seen the video of dolphins playfully swimming in the oceans. Human beings too have gotten that much needed break that they could never think of ever indulging in.
Today there are barely any man made sounds around us…baring those from a few idiots who are still in denial and are recklessly flouting all curfew norms , thinking they are invincible.
Today each bird song is clearly audible. The peacocks began calling out to each other at 5.30 informing their families that today is that happy day when the invaders will be stuck indoors and they are free to roam. The woodpecker’s steady tick tick can be heard, the minah bird is singing her song, the pidgeons are cooing happily, the swallows are flitting in joy.
The rustle of the leaves and the chitter of various birds and insects have never been so amplified!!
The palm fronds are rustling in the soft breeze, the berries on the trees are soaking in the sun instead of being beaten by sticks by greedy children.
Even the annoying yellow wasp buzzing around me seems to be more confident.
Never have my ears been so sensitive to the variety of sounds of nature than I am today as they are mostly undisturbed by engine sounds or shouts from wayward youngsters.
Ambala is still blessed to have so much of open green areas where flora, fauna and humans still coexist but today I am sure that cities like Mumbai and Delhi too may be giving their citizens a glimpse of what is was like before we monsters roamed the earth.
Its sad that it took a pandemic like this to restrict our movement, encroachment, plundering and abuse of our planet and Mother Nature but I hope this exercise brings to people the awareness of how good slowing down can be for everyone and everything.
God bless us all and keep us safe!20200320_101219

When The Soul Heals by Pulkit Sharma.. a humble review

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The author has written a well structured, easy to read and understandable book, proposing the marriage of spiritual teachings and practices along with traditional psychological/counselling tools.
It starts out with a basic explanation of the evolution of psychology as a subject of interest and study in the West, so the starting can be dull, especially for those not interested in the history of psychology. But don’t be too quick to judge.
From the 2nd chapter he tackles major psycho-social ailments that exist in modern society, including stress, depression, anxiety, etc. with one chapter allocated to each ailment.
He structures the chapter by starting out with a story of one of his patients who has suffered from the ailment, describes the depth of this individual’s suffering and the circumstances both leading up to, and being faced by the patient. He then gives the common causes of the ailment, what the clinical psychological treatment is (be it the use of medicines or cognitive behavioural therapy), what the modern psychological understanding of the ailment is, how spiritual teachings and practices can be used to tackle each ailment and finally ends with how each patient overcame their gruelling psychological issues by combining psychological therapy and spirituality, with a special emphasis on the spiritual development of the individual.

What makes this an interesting read is the outright acceptance by the author that traditional psychological techniques are inadequate for dealing with modern psycho-social problems and that spirituality has to be embibed in dealing with them at all costs. The author’s own in depth study of the various religions and spiritual masters and how their techniques can be applied to that particular ailment is impressive.
Its very often our inner demons that lead to mental stress and further to grave mental illnesses and maybe its our belief in a higher power that can bring us back from the brink. It is this concept that the author has explored and applied. Problems sometimes cannot be tackled only in a physical context but digging deeper into our conciences and spiritial beliefs maybe the answer.
Usually modern science or doctors don’t want anything to do with spirituality nor do they recommend their patients to get into it. It is refreshing to see that doctors like Pulkit Sharma are now beginning to not only accept spiritual means but also recommend it to their patients. It is possible that they have no choice because of the classic failure of the traditional methods due to the high number of suicides, increase in violence both within families and outside world over.

Unfortunately it is not very original and is simplistic in form but thats not a bad thing as it allows us laymen to grasp it better . These ideas may already be present in other books, videos and magazines. This book is for beginners on the path of merging their psychological well-being with their spiritual well-being. If you are already following spiritual gurus or practicing meditation or other spiritual practices for years, it may prove to be a tad underpowering. Nonetheless everyone needs a reminder once in a while as to the importance of spiritual practices and this easy to read book does that.

Travel creates flavors!

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Image from the net..not mine!

 

There’s something about watching floozy movies that breathes some hope into your life again! And Under the Tuscan Sun is one of those amazingly feel-good movies!
I saw it twice a number of years back but since my amazing amazing 21 day trip to Italy with my sister I have seen it 10 times more..and fallen in love each time cos now it was not just a sweet movie set in some European country..it was that film whose very locations and setting was its real USP, the places I had just recently walked in !
Anyone who has been to Italy may not come back feeling as my sis and I do and just see the country as an overrated historical city with gigantic stone monuments ridden with cultural and political tales of love, power, marauding and plunder but I see it as a marvel of history and architecture! The huge stone walls that hold century old secrets are not cold to me but exude a sence of mystery and romance. I guess beauty really does lie in the eyes of the beholder.
The Colloseum depresses people who cant see beyond the images of animals in battle or of gory torture stories..those of plunder and death! But we stood within its gigantic walls and columns, looking down into the maze where prisoners and animals were kept and only saw history in its fascinating glory..The Duomos and Pontes, the museum’s and coastal towns, the castles and canals all met with our approval and received our stares of bewilderment and fascination.
Throughout our trip we marvelled and revelled even when things were not so perfect! I guess it was cos we were together and couldn’t care less about imperfection.
Under The Tuscan Sun brings it all back to me…Rome, Florence, Venice, Amalfi Coast, Cinque Terre…and above it all the serenity of Tuscany and its quaint villages and landscapes!
A strange feeling washes over me when I watch a film I can relate to…it could be just imaginary cos I guess everyone is a romantic deep down somewhere..but honestly I feel the sun on my face, I see the tall cypress trees standing guard over the undulating landscapes and the rolling plains with meandering roads that took us past gorgeous vineyards and into stony villages lost in time!

Sipping the local wines, reds , whites, rosès with pastas in arabiatta sauces or pesto sided with bruschettas of all sorts , reinvented this food for me and made me appreciate flavours a whole lot more! Flavors of the local cuisine, flavors of the local culture, flavors of street music and art, flavors of history, flavors of travel!!

The background score in the film adds to the romanticism of the moody scenes and you almost sway to imaginary notes from a harp or cello being strung by a well defined Italian hand.
I think our brains are so filled with tales of love set in Italy and France, it’s all we associate these places with when we see or read anything that is set against these backdrops. And I’m glad for it..amidst rumours of mafia activities or the changing scapes since time has moved on and strangers have cast their negativity on the original Italian flavour, I would still like to cling onto the hope that love will always linger overhead and retain its eternal flavour for ever more!
Travel certainly changes how you view life, people and places , Travel is the magic wand everyone needs in their life!

No Margin For Error by Tanushree Poddar

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An author who has 8 novels behind her that have been received well writes her 9th with a flair of confidence and a ‘been there done that’ attitude!
Her intro where she explains her strategy for approaching an issue has affected us all on many a level..personal, emotional, impersonal but sympathetic, anger, helplessness and hopelessness , rebellious yet languishing! It could have been handled as she said, like a documented piece but her experience and better judgement told her to add fictitious characters to narrate their stories and perspectives and in doing that she succeeded in adding a personal touch to an otherwise gory and disturbing tale.
While traversing each incident , unfolding one by one, you are drawn to the characters emotionally and can actually feel the palpable, fear, nervousness, determination, bravado and cowardice, repulsion and fury all intermingled with a residue of hopelessness and despair at the turn of events and inhumanity of the perpetrators!! Her descriptive narrative allowed us to picture the events unfolding like a mental film reel.
Humankind has reached a crossroads of sorts…as predicted many years ago by the sages..the crossroads of Kalyug and Satyug…where the choices are all extreme, repercussions immense and reaction immediate!!
Good begets a whole lot of good but bad has no saving grace! And right now all we can see is the worst of the worst, overcoming any vaguely inherent noble intentions. We are destroying all we touch! We destroy the environment , we destroy our homelands, our planets, we destroy and puff out lives and nowhere is it so apparent than in the world of terrorism.
Selfish ignorant jihad, clash of egos and power hungry crazed beings, the desperation for power, money and destruction! This is what reiterates itself in our consciousness as we walk the corridors with the brave men who fought and lay down their lives for unknown people.. suffering in the aftermath of duty ! We hear those screams, our skins recoils with the heat of the flames, our chest tightens everytime a bullet finds it target, we feel our blood boil at the cruelty and insanity of the terrorists, we weep with the families of the slain! This book is a multi-emotional journey..tumultuous and gripping!
Tanushree weaves a tale with ease and has done her homework! She is able to stir up a myriad of emotion in the reader!
She speaks of characters she has drawn from in her previous books so maybe it’s time to relate by reading those too.
Nothing impresses more than a satisfying book in the hands, emanating the sweet smell of fresh paper and ink and telling a story that keeps you from putting it down for a while!
You close the book finally, a little the wiser (and angrier), hoping that better sence prevails on this earth before all is lost!

Review written as part of @blogchatter ‘s #blogchatterbookreviewprogram

Book Review Program from Blogchatter

Missing Presumed Dead by Kiran Manral..a review!

 

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I promise you, no spoilers!

Kiran Manral is a master of lexicon and adjectives which she uses generously to turn a mundane matter of fact sentence into a descriptive and visual one! She obviously is experienced in matters of the heart and how they change as do the phases of a person’s life… ‘The humiliating divide between the two matresses’. Self explanatory !

In this case, experiences of the soul too, where the lead character Aisha is an unapologetically real and flawed person, oscillating between normalcy and extremacy while dealing with mental illness and its monsters! She is promising at one time and depressing at others which is probably why she is relatable too! Dont we all allow demons in our heads to take over many a time plunging us into negativity and despair. Life throws so many balls at you..sometimes they hit you in the face making you feel inadequate and depressed!

Aisha obviously had more misses then catches, turning her into a shadow of the woman she once was, the story of many a women’s life. Her helpless reflection into her past and despair at her present forces you to introspect too and find many common instances during the gradual way in which life tends to slip out of your hands. ‘Isnt hate just  love flipped over onto it’s back kicking and squealing for attention’, she writes! Yes , it is..and its possible to still love a person after 30 yrs yet not be in love with him/her !!

Her character specific build up is detailed and retrospective allowing us to visualize each one whether it is the central protagonist or the other characters she introduces as the tale progresses.Her admirable command over the language and its vocabulary helps her along in her endeavour. . Some interesting words made it to my favourite list as I shuffled through my hardback dictionary..yes I’m still old school when it comes to books. My kindle languishes uselessly on my bed side table ! Sepulchral,…love it!

It’s a sad scenario when love turns to hate over the years and her husband is equally flawed and selfish, a shadow of the man he used to be too. Was it circumstances or inate nature that contributed to the progressive disintegration of their marriage, where genuine love and a concerned will to help her deal with a demonic, manic disposition brought on by mental illness that threatens to tear up the family, ultimately turns  into exhaustion, disgust, repulsion , exasperation and indifference as  spirits die and self preservation comes into play.

Desires, materialistic or bodily, take a back seat for a while or then explode uncontrollably forcing the protagonists to wheel and deal in questionable ways. The plot thickens interestingly and weaves itself  like the twists and turns of the roads it travels through.

The vulnerability of the husband and wife with episodes where you feel sorry for them and hate them at the same time for their misdemeanors particularly towards the children speaks volumes for the writer’s ability to get you fully involved emotionally.  You find yourself constantly judging and analyzing each character as she uses her exemplary prowess with expression to run a visual film reel  as you play out each word, each scene in your mind.

Engaging and gripping throughout it comes to a bit of an abrupt end as you wait impatiently for each piece of the jigsaw puzzle to fall into place!

Insightful and gory interspersed with hopeful, tender moments , it is an eye opener into the distressing life of those suffering from mental disease..a field that needs to be explored further in order to understand and help the victims. Kudos to the writers effort !!

This review was written as part of the #blogchatterbookreview program

Book Review Program from Blogchatter

 

Drawn To The Sound Of Music

The Austrian capers continue! The drive to Salzburg was another story . We left Vienna at 7am in a comfortable coach that was filled with tourists eager to experience the journey through the Salzkergammut Lake region of Austria dotted as they were with crystal clear blue lake with their drinkable water and parrot green rolling grass plains that were the foreground for gentle hills as well as taller mountains with some peaks still bearing witness to the winter that had just passed. Austria in every season has its own beauty largely due to the contrast in winter and summer temperatures. Winter landscape in the Austrian Alps is aweinspiring while summer is absolutely lovely!!
Our trip to this region would extend to several days as I had chosen to the major part of our holiday rejuvenating and pampering ourselves in this peaceful haven!
Bu it was Salzburg that we would make our home first and I was as excited as a child to witness the home of Mozart and Strauss as well as the Land of my favorite film The Sound of Music. I was annoyingly perked up in mood as I sang every word of the songs from the movie that they played on the coach driving there.
Our Knowledgeable guide kept up a stream of information about the Von Trapp family, the Hofburgs, the royal family of Salzburg and the life of Mozart and it made for a very interesting and inspiring drive as I was transported into vintage era and bygone years in Europe.
The mood was set all the way and when we actually strutted down the streets in Salzburg marveling again at the quite imposing and old architectural of the city I had a skip in my step.
Mirabel gardens where the children led by an impish Maria defied all norms and flitted through sing Do Re Mi, Mozart House still preserved with his original belongings , the lovely Old Town, the bridge where thousands of hopelessly romantic visitors had locked their love for keeps, the numerous churches like the infamous 13th century Don Quartier and its gorgeous interiors, the castles standing tall on top of craggy mountain tops with views to die for, the Abbey and Convent which was the location for Maria’s home before she began her tremulous journey with the Von Trapp family.
Austria is a wonder as many other European cities for those who love a holiday drenched in art and culture and history along with stunning locales and backdrops. My camera shutter had to gasp for breath as I clicked every corner , every alley, every facade, every angle relentlessly.
And so continued the next few days that showed us Salzburg and it’s surrounding and our days on the banks of numerous lakes in the Salzkergammut were steeped in wonder and peace and self indulgence, Apple strudels, shnitzels and noodles, goulash and what not were on every menu and I felt like a character in The Sound of Music experiencing my list of favourite things!!
We made day trips to surrounding counties and towns in a bid to leave nothing out and the towns we passed left a sigh in our hearts!! Bratislava, Budapest, Slovenia were a stones throw away but each city needs a lifetime to experience it to the fullest. What remained common was the quite charm and peace, and the pride evident in their history. The red sloping roofs sitting atop stone walls and encompassed by a bright green backdrop was a colour combination that has tinted my heart forever.

FASHION IT DIFFERENTLY!

15600107134066520992783061751774.jpgAt the end of this if you want to judge me then please go ahead! My menopause and thyroid hormones have rendered me quite the ‘I dont care less’ types now simply cos I have no energy to care..not that I am insensitive or anything!! Its enough to haul myself…. a much bigger myself might I add ..out of bed , than bother about what people are thinking of me.
Actually I am about to do the unthinkable. I am about to profess that I dont understand high end fashion #facepalm!! Oh the horror you must be thinking!! Does this woman live in the 21st century? Is she faking it? Is she demented! How can anyone not understand fashion ! What a faux pas of a life she must be living !! I can hear your hushed whispers, guys. I know you all are condemning me right now but I seriously couldnt care less! I’m too busy trying to yank my comfy old top which I used to float in a year back down my waist!! Somehow it seems to have shrunk three sizes!! And the lowers..dont even begin to ask about them. They seem to have a mind of their own and have suddenly developed a phobia for riding up my hips and stobbornly refuse to settle on my newly baked muffin top!! Talk about loyalty!!
Moving on, hopefully my mind still hasnt been served too much of a memory fog by the menstrual hormones who are waving goodbye with a smirk on their cruel lips, and I can still gather my thoughts together! Ps. Why the hell do these eostrogens and progesterones suddenly decide to disappear..after torturing us with floods all our lives now they fake busyness and walk off leaving us barren and exhuasted!! Im pretty sure they have no prior commitments or anything better to do! They are just sadists!!
Going back to the world of fashion, where was I? Oh ya..professing a lack of understanding and ineptitude when it comes to high end fashions vis a vis everyday fashion.
Street fashion I can do! High end fashion..I am zapped. My ignorance was set in steel today when I flipped theough the pages of the latest issue of Vogue.
Say what you may but I cannot find logic behind a 65000 rs scarf, or a 115000rs dress or 500000rs worth of bag ! Shoes for 250000rs? Come on..they’re ugly! And that ruffled gown with huge stones on the edges..165000rs? Ha ha ha!! First spend that much money and then walk around in a bejeweled tent! No way!!
My kids have given me a lot of explanations..its the quality, Its the workmanship its the etc etc etc! Okay I get it..it shows in a car. It shows in many a place but that horrendous looking dress that is asking me to shell out more than I lost during the demonetisation days is beyond belief for me!
It doesnt even look comfortable! I feel as if I’ll be strung up like a starched chicken and struggle to remain on my feet while making a grand entry into any party! I fear the hospital bill I incur after falling flat on my face , twirled amongst its many flounces and frills will add to its renumeration at the end of the night!
For me fashion is comfort! Once upon a time it was purely about covering up! Loose, long, soft on the sking, flatteringly forgiving of all the bulges! It later translated to much more…what looked good, what felt good, what was trendy, what was more in sync with the times! Street fashion yes, branded fashion to a slight extent , me fashion Yes!!
I always profess to have and understand shoes more than I have clothes and my family and friends can vouch for that! Shoes are my thing ! Tall ones ,short ones, pointed ones, open toed ones, stilletoes, wedges, blocks, sneakers you name them I have them. People match shoes to outfits ..I do the opposite. I decide what shoes I’m feeling and search for clothes to go with them. In fact this illness runs in our family from my Dad downwards. If we were to guage wealth by the no. of shoes collectively in my family, we would be on our way to buy a luxury yacht right about now!
But , but ,but I reiterate…high end fashion freaks me out! I love running my hand down a good quality fabric or being awed by a label that I heard about in every magazine or fashion site but fathom its wearability or price , I rarely can!!
In fact even the grouchy models strutting up and down a runway wearing so and so’s clothes seem grumpy and uncomfortable in them. Have you ever seen one of those emaciated models let out a smile??? Think about it!!

Tuscany and All That!!

It’s been a while since I updated my Italian travel diaries, not for want of enthusiasm but from getting into a routine as soon as I touched base after so long and squeezing in a trip to Hotel Oberoi Udaivillas in Udaipur too. ( covered that in vlogs and insta photos).
Do check out my insta handle @rynachopra.

Let’s just head back to Florence and make our way to the rolling hills of Tuscany.
Sigh!
Having made pretty good use of our 1.5 days in Florence already, we signed up for a trip to Tuscany including a visit to the quaint towns of Siena , San Gimignano and of course the must do gimmicks in Pisa.
The drive itself by coach was well organized by a local tour company and a couple of hours later we we were riding along undulating rolling plains that stretched for miles, dotted with the quintessential tall pointed cyprus trees that are so typical of instagrammable photos of Tuscany.
By now we were drenched in beauty and nature and the insides of our gaping mouths were very obviously seething with jealousy, demanding to be drenched as well albeit in the rose and white wines that were native to thos region..the famous Chiantis!!!
Of course, we had to take that into consideration as we couldn’t be mean and selfish, depriving our mouths of pleasure while our eyes and nostrils had a hay day! Thus, much against our will (🙄) , we forced ourselves to be led up the cobbled pathway of a Chianti winery to sample their wines and local cuisine!! We could feel our palates and tongue dance and sing in unison inside their den, fighting to hang out like a dog’s and search for the promised ,unforbidden splendors themselves!!
Whites, reds, rose`s, pastas in pesto and basil , bruschettas, meats and desserts later , our eyes and mouths were back on good terms again and we carried them forth to our next stop…Sienna.
Quaintness poured out of every alleyway, every stone and brick and my trigger happy phone had a field day. A quiet town that was milling with tourists and home to many of those who enjoyed a quieter and laid back holiday. Italy at it’s best!
San Gimignano carried on the tradition and as we queued up in front of famous ,age old gelaterias and soaked in the sun and sounds of local musicians we sighed and smiled! It couldn’t get any better. Forts and several stone structures that incongruously housed branded stores dressed to kill, cafes and the smell of fresh coffee interspersed with aromas of basil and vanilla. Chocolate and ham…a heady concoction indeed! That’s what filled the summer air as we slurped and stared onto the Tuscan plains that stretched before us!
We were by now, armed and ready for the cliched activities in Pisa…you all know what I mean!! Yet when we actually pushed our way passed the large no. of Bangladeshi immigrants who were hell bent on shoving souvenirs of the tilting structure into our faces, something I didn’t approve of for sure, we took in the first sight of the heritage structure we had only seen in picture books.
Many would call these touristy spots overrated and done to death and I may eventually agree, but for now I was revelling in the fact that this trip was all about chasing my childhood and what I was taught about the world. This trip was about seeing rather than only reading about the world so before going off onto the beaten track , the typical touristy stuff had to be scratched off my list first.
Thus.
We stared in awe , while keeping our hands firmly clutched to our bags and phones , heading the many notices that warned of pickpockets throughout the spot…sad I felt…!! We humans have tainted evrything and every place of beauty by our misdemeanors !!
Foolishly but enthusiastically we quickly joined the hordes of idiots who were trying to hold up the tower with the tips of their fingers, or push it with all their might or kick it to its tilt ..there were so many ideas out there that all theories of a structural defect centuries ago seem to be challenged that day as every tourist there tried to claim responsibility for the degree of tilt we witnessed before us..history was being questioned by all sort of distorted bodies whose angles were more questionable that the Leaning Tower of Pisa was! It was a hilarious sight and we quickly got into the groove too, attempting to time our silly poses with the perfect click a la idiots-of-the-world!! Please dont think it was easy..rather it was quite the most challenging part of our holiday so far.
Having mastered a couple of photos, we limped back to our coach clutching our backs and shoulders that had been twisted and contorted for the past hour all for the sake of cliche`, and settled down for the picturesque drive back to Florence.
Our smiles said it all!!!