Monday, September 29, 2008

Festivals and Shopping

We are on the threshold of shopping season and I hope everyone is geared up for it. I know two wonderful women that start putting away just 2500 rupees from May onwards and by the time they hit October, they have an awesome booty of Rs. 12,500 from practically nowhere. That tuck is kept for Durga Puja, Dussehra and little bit of winter wasting! Diwali sees it own extravagance and that can be discussed later but the deals that are springing up now are a treat in itself. Brands and products start the wooing process earlier every year, ever since we saw the advent of globalization, 365 days of the year didn’t seem enough for shopping. Markets and stores were flooded with foods, apparel, kitchenware and everything else that’s worth buying, seasonal specials didn’t happen in December like the west, they happened all the way from September till November. For a nation in perpetual inflation, we certainly had a penchant for waste. Maybe that’s not entirely fair; some of us keep genuine requirements for this time of the year. But I do know of one soul that has already ordered a suspicious 1 GB MP3 player, which I keep calling IPod, but then at $20, I know I am absolutely wrong! Followed by a home décor set which comprised of mismatched block print bed linen that I wouldn’t even use in a $10 bed and breakfast. These trends make me think that this time of the year actually causes a kind of ‘shopping’ fever that few can control. Every morning the newspaper greets you with endless offers, sales and steals, they all seem over the top and that’s when I wonder, if the damn thing is priced this cheap then why did we pay all a premium the whole year through?

All this ranting is in lieu of the first day of ‘Navratri’ which is today, the 30th of September 2008. Today start the nine holy days that Hindu’s observe twice a year. Personally, it is the latter halves Navratri days that I prefer the most, they lead up to the opulence of Diwali, the sensation of complete health, wealth and well being. The weather too starts changing, leaves fall and fresh ones erupt, the sun sets earlier than usual and there is a certain nip in the air, that is so very welcome after months of sweltering Indian heat. These days bring on a sense of oneness with God and nature, it is no wonder that shoppers step out in throngs.

This is the time to redecorate the house if you have been meaning to do it; this Dussehra and Diwali month dedicate your space to color and light. As a budget option, pick corners of your house that need perking up and work on those areas only. After you have decided on the nook you want to change, think of the colors that you associate with this season, for me it’s always red and gold, a nice matte bronze like gold. Now set a budget, keep in mind the fact the season lasts almost 2 months and is followed by another month of partying, Christmas and New Years, so your theme corner will stay symbolic for longer than you think. Now to the fun part – scrapbooking. Making scrapbooks is not just for kids, it can be amazing grown up fun. Take a thick cover sketch book, glue stick, markers, sketch pens and your imagination. Now think of all the lovely knick knacks you saw in last month’s magazine or that perfect table arrangement showcased in ‘Cosmo’ or even the table cloth you know Westside has. Wherever you find inspiration try and take a piece of that, a digital picture (my friend still uses her Polaroid), a magazine cutting, a newspaper article and add it to you scrapbook cuttings. I usually divide my scrapbook into sections like bedroom, kid’s room, living room, kitchen etc. so I know exactly where each cutting belongs and once I am on my shopping sojourns I can spot what I want immediately. I use family pictures, cloth swatches, movie stubs, chocolate wrappers in my scrapbook too, so it’s more of a memoir and chronicle than a personal shopping wishlist. The latest corner I made was near my fish tank, I used 3 votive candles (raspberry red), a red glass lantern with a flower and vine pattern painted on it, a beautiful piece of white stone, an incense holder and a tall metal vase in matte red, in which I keep gold painted reeds. That is my festive corner and I hope I have inspired you to make one too. Do this for all seasons, it refreshes the house and it feels good to have something brand new set up for celebration. Watch this space for Holi ideas next!

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

There is always time to renew, relive, rejoice!

I don’t know if it’s all these networking sites or the fact that we (30 + crowd) are at an age where we feel the need to reconnect with our youth. But suddenly I am in touch with over a 100, yes over a 100 of my friends from before I was 20 years old. We have all become different people, followed paths we never imagined for ourselves or each other and most of all, most of us are now parents. Monumental changes have taken place and no matter who tries to convince me that we are who we are by the time we are 18 is talking bunkum. We develop way into our 30’s at the most. I just have to look around and notice the nerds who are now millionaires, the bimbos that are brand managers and the intelligentsia that’s gone to hell. As we have found each other, we have gone on to renew friendships and regroup in the cliques of yore. I look at my mailbox and I have been messaging the same 6 girls I was closest to 15 years ago, strange! Yet the surprise has manifested in other ways, the most unexpected acquaintances have more in common with me now than they did over a decade ago. Some of them are in the same profession as me, which is lucrative in its own way and some are doing fantastic things like reform work in Afghanistan and live reportage from the Beijing Olympics.

This landslide of friends has gotten more than my share of reunion invites and though I was apprehensive for the longest time, I have to admit, I attended one and it was fine. I would have loved to handpick the crowd but then I didn’t have that choice 10 years ago, why would I now? So it was a healthy mix of the wackos, the sweeties, the sexies and the rest. I walked in late not because I like to make an appearance (only sometimes!) but because I wanted to make sure I didn’t have to wait for the interesting lot. I stayed for an hour which was another good choice, that way you get just the right dose of nostalgia. I made small talk with everyone, even the ones I didn’t make small talk with before. That’s the strange thing about serious adulthood (30+), you feel obliged to be way more polite than you were in your teens. It’s not cool to ignore after a certain age. In my experience you are likely to need each and every person you ignored for extremely crucial things like passport work, business deals and school admissions. All in all it was a wholesome experience. I felt good for the lot of us.

Friendship is a funny thing, it can be deep but you don’t even have to be in the same country and it can be faint living next door to a friend. However relationships work, everyone needs them. I think the pendulum of social interaction sways from family (as kids) to friends (in your teens) and back to family after 30-35 years. It was nice to remake friend’s, it was easier than meeting new people. I highly recommend a reunion to anyone contemplating hosting or attending one. Some people are actually so much better as grown-ups you are bound to be pleasantly surprised. No doubt old friends are gold but new ones have a lot of glitter. So get off the networking sites, the chats and the sms’s and go out there and meet them. Celebrate your accomplishments with the people that walked part of the path with you. Add a couple of drinks, good food and neutral music and you have the makings of an unforgettable evening. Let me know how it went!