Showing posts from 2009

What shall we do without Ms. O?

Most men love to hate her. Many women worship her and some don't know how they will survive without her 60 minutes of daily wit and wisdom. Bring out the tissue boxes because Ms. Oprah Winfrey is kinda calling it quits.

I say 'kinda' in no light manner. The woman comfortably perched on the top of the Forbes fortune list is not leaving the ring without a firm plan in place. She plans to launch her own cable channel and we can all be sure that it will be as much of a success as her book clubs, her angel network, her African school and other many endevours. So perhaps its not yet the end of the line but a chance for a new beginning.

But who is this woman and why does she manage to touch our lives? Is it her constant battle with weight and image that somehow keeps people glued to their cable sets, day after day? Is it the fact that she routinely dishes out money and expensive presents on live TV just because she simply loves a surprise? Perhaps it is all of the above.

For the p…

Our dearest Jijaji

The following tribute is for my dear brother in law, who will forever be missed but always encouraged me to read and led so much by example.

He can never be replaced but his memory will live on forever. In his wonderful boys who resemble him in more ways than one.

In his doting and loving wife, Simona, who never left his side, more than any of us thought was humanly possible, during his challenging illness.

In all of us, who have met him and have been touched by his practicality, fondness for family and love for nature and sport.

As the Fernandes family comes to terms with the irreplaceable loss of the eldest brother-in-law, Vinod, there is comfort in knowing that he is in a better place. We could not have done half of the many, many, many formalities in Kuwait after Vinod’s passing had it not been for the prayers, calm and clear thinking and most of all blessings of Vinny himself.

All of Simona's contacts and friends, most of whom she was too preoccupied to reach over the past few mon…

Socially irrelevant

Who makes up your network? I’m not asking about the 892 friends who might make up your friend list, few of whom, may barely keep in touch on a regular basis.

If you are like me, I’m sure a great part of your day is spent on Facebook and many like minded sites, but I’m not talking about that kind of network. I’m talking about your people. The ones you rely on, when life seems like its hanging by a thread.

Who are those chosen few you call in a crisis, on bad hair days, when stuck in a really bad mess? When you just need someone to listen to you crib without prejudice.

Chances are most people will readily say that their family, spouse and significant others are the ones that anchor them to shore when a little lost at sea.

While that may be the general norm, lately I’m wondering if we are really spending too much time on social networking (SN) when we aren’t really being social at all.

What happened to hand-written letters? Are they only for Mommy because she doesn’t have the time to set up …

Thinking objectively and other unrealities

After a rather horrific week of high fevers and hospital visits, I wonder if thinking objectively is ever a possibilty. How does one try to be objective when a doctor says, 'We really have done all we can and you need to decide what to do.' Thanks but I'm not the one with the medical degree. Do you suddenly scamper for your thinking cap, when your heart is already in your mouth?

Or how about being objective when you are writing a book that is closer to home than close can ever be. Do you say all the horrible things that are true, or do you carefully white wash realities that are better left unsaid?

Does that make you less of a truthful writer, person, family member? Or does it just mean that you are as diplomatic as a Nobel Peace Prize winner who really doesn't think he deserves the prize, but accepts it anyway?

Objectivity...easier said than done.

Tripping on nostalgia

Bringing passion to your profession is something that requires daily nurturing. Especially if you may be stuck at a job where you are constantly plagued with the question, ‘should I do this for the pay cheque or do I have more interesting things to do with my life?’

Someone recently sent me a speech by Bill Watterson, creator of the witty comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes. Watterson was addressing the graduating class of 1990, but he could have been talking to any one of us today.

You see Watterson drove his now famous comic strip for five years without pay when he was starting out. He accepted heaps of agony for what he believed in but it certainly paid off in the end. He says, “We all have different desires and needs, but if we don't discover what we want from ourselves and what we stand for, we will live passively and unfulfilled.”

So I guess I’m at peace with the fact that I have to sometimes write a less than interesting release or two. It doesn’t stop me from writing this blog, ma…

What’s in a name?

I’m still a Fernandes at heart. No passport can prove otherwise.

When first posed with the prospect of changing my second name, I freaked out. Imagine being called one name your whole life, and suddenly 27 years later, when prince charming appears, you have to give up that right and take on a new name. It just isn’t something a man would easily do.

Thankfully my prince didn’t think it was necessary for me to change my second name. He didn’t need it as validation of my love for him. Unfortunately it didn’t matter what he thought. We were relocating to the Middle East soon after the wedding and everyone was certain no immigration officer was going to speak my language or understand why we didn’t share the same second name if we are husband and wife.

All my gender biased arguments seemed insufficient. I had to resign to the fact that life will be easier for my children if I just go ahead and adopt my husband’s second name. No hyphenated names either. A Fernandes-Mathias or a Mathias-Ferna…

Top Ten Reasons Why Freelancers Freelance

A lot of people think freelancing means you are 'free' to do anything for them, for free! They'd like to believe you have hours of unoccupied time and they are doing you a favour by giving you work...I have news for you, HELL NO!

If I am working on a particular assignment, I do expect to get paid for it! Manic deadlines, racing against the clock, weekend plans, bills -- I have them too, the only difference is that I'm not tied to a corporate office like most people. But make no mistake, I take my work very seriously.

So do me a favour, don't give me your resume for 'free rewriting' and don't ask me for help with letters to bank managers or senior associates. I hate, no, I loathe writing them as much as you do. But I'd never ask my neighbour to write them just because they know how to spell. And hate to burst the bubble, that is not what I do for a living.

If you want to risk sending me work, with a 'please help me this one time,' go ahead. C…

Baked to perfection

Cooking has suddenly become my new obsession. The healthier the better actually. From merely collecting loads of recipes, I've finally started creating my own dishes. Baked bacon pasta, bean and cauliflower casserole...The helpless tasters being the husband and son, most often like what they consume. But they may be suspected to be partial to the cook -- their only food provider.

Blame it on the cooking channel but I've now realised that cooking is really all about presentation. I'm not just talking about Nigella Lawson. Of course a good looking chef can make or break a tv show, but I think a neatly presented salmon bake is just as important as a well prepared slice of the same fish.

Of course I have miles to go before I can reach the cooking standards of my mother and some of my aunts and uncles. I'm not even going there! For now I'm happy to try a new dish every other day and hope that the effort isn't in vain.

Like most busy mothers, I have no time for labori…

Laid to rest?

You are probably sick of the unending trivia that has somehow emerged from June 25. You've probably had too much information about MJ's life, his untimely death and perhaps his after life.

Oddly, though its hard to admit, I can't seem to get enough. The closet fan in me found it hard to wipe away the tears while watching his memorial last night. Now I never wore a sequined glove or moonwalked. I never even bought an MJ record in my life. But heck, I remember most of his songs and have probably a decent recollection of every music video in the past 15 years.

Perhaps that is why I felt I had to be a part of the memorial. Not an invited guest but one that watched from the comfort of my home. As the tributes flowed from one person to the next. One personality to another, I'm sure there were few dry eyes all around. Queen Latifah was right, he did make us feel like he was someone we knew. Someone dancing just for us.

Will this be my last mention of MJ? That is something I d…

An outrageous Swayamvar!

If you get a chance to watch 'Raaki ka *Swayamvar' on NDTV Imagine, during the week, don't miss it. It is definitely a roll-over-the-floor-and-die-laughing-tv show. A bunch of so-called eligible boys (and they do seem like boys and hardly husband material), lovingly referred to as 'heroes' all wooing Rakhi Sawant for her mighty hand in marriage.

I'm so grateful for reality tv's ability of sinking to even lower depths because it ensures a daily hour of non stop giggles.

On one of the episodes a contestant proudly states that he skipped his sister's wedding to take part in the show. One wonders if his sister would ever take kindly to RS if she does elect the brother as her prized suitor! Perhaps the sister might give the wedding a...'skip' as well.

Another 'hero' is a police officer who has kept his first wedding and three kids a secret till now! What excitement!

In keeping with the times, of course, the show has a dedicated page on Facebook …

Gone too soon?

One week later the tributes keep pouring in from all over the world. The music continues to play, questions continue to be raised and some of these jaw dropping lyrics take on a life of their own.

MJ sang this song in tribute to a young boy named Ryan White who died of AIDS but managed to fight the disease in more ways than one. The song later featured on the sound track of a special tribute to Lady Diana by various international artists and it has rather sadly become another MJ anthem today.

Gone too soon
Music by Larry Grossman.
Lyrics by Buz Kohan
Produced by Michael Jackson

Like A Comet
Blazing 'Cross The Evening Sky
Gone Too Soon

Like A Rainbow
Fading In The Twinkling Of An Eye
Gone Too Soon

Shiny And Sparkly
And Splendidly Bright
Here One Day
Gone One Night

Like The Loss Of Sunlight
On A Cloudy Afternoon
Gone Too Soon

Like A Castle
Built Upon A Sandy Beach
Gone Too Soon

Like A Perfect Flower
That Is Just Beyond Your Reach
Gone Too Soon

Born To Amuse, To Inspire, To Delight
Here One Day
Gone One Nigh…

MJ mayhem...

If anyone aged 35 or younger hasn't ever heard a song by the recently departed king of pop, now is their chance.

The past weekend has been an overdose of Michael Jackson tributes and trivia. News channels and newspapers are probably only too pleased to fill their news space and up their ratings with tit bits of MJ's all time top hits, facts about his complicated life and everything in between.

It is enough to make even the most stubborn of music lovers shrug in disgust. Everyone patronising the singer now that he is no more.

Is it too early for us to ignore all the suspicious behaviour this larger-than-life star, possessed? Too rude to suggest that we too orchestrated his deranged recent behaviour by accepting a piece of him through never-ending media reports or outrageous interviews?

While most of us 'oooh-ed' and 'aah-ed' at his trademark Moonwalk routine, we also 'tch-ed, tch-ed' over his antics of dangling an infant from a high rise hotel building. …

Marley and Me...worth a watch

When I first saw the promos for the film, Marley and me, I was quick to categorise it as another dog-lover movie. You know the Lassie kind. I was glad to find that this movie brought a smile to my face and a tear to my eye though I've never owned a dog.

Most of us who have lived in Bombay for some part of our lives have seen them all over the city. Unwanted, wanderers, barking at the slightest provocation. Pelted by strangers with cheap thrills. Fed by those who can't bear to see them starving. Stray dogs have become quite the subject of debate in a city too overcrowded for humans, leave alone dogs, cats or crows.

Of course the Hollywood movie does not touch on the topic of strays. Its about a hyperactive Labrador named Marley and the couple who adopt him. I don't want to spoil the movie for those of you who will want to watch the film. What I liked most about the film was that it was about not just the owner's relationship with the dog. It is about everyone who interact…

Our Father

While Father’s Day, Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day may be all nice and cutesy, they seem to exclude, rather than include those who might come up short of the equation.

I’m sure someone who has recently lost a father, cannot help but imagine life with one more Father’s Day together. Or a single someone longing for a Valentine to make his or her life complete on that red overdosed day.

Perhaps the intention of ‘Days’ like these were genuine, but they have now morphed into clever marketing gimmicks. Now every time a ‘Teachers Day’ or ‘Pet Day’ arrives, everyone’s frantically rushing off to send the biggest and most outlandish greeting cards to the respective party. Its almost as if, every day is a ‘Lets Celebrate Day.’ I guess that is not so bad an idea. A reason to celebrate each and every day. But clearly ‘Cuddle Day’ is taking it a bit too far.

I’m sure everyone has special stories of their Dads. The lovely moments and perhaps the not-so-lovely ones too. Somehow my fondest memories of…

Truly Destiny's Child

Girl power reached new heights on 12th May 2005. It was a night when Destiny's Child, the biggest selling girl band of our time set the stage on fire.

A string of dancers of top class quality, a live band that knew no stopping and a trio of singers that left everyone breathless. The UAE has never seen a performance of this proportion and it will be a long time before someone pushes the limits further.

They are truly a tough act to follow. Bootylicious Beyonce Knowles, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams performed to a packed audience at Dubai Media City. They have been vowing audiences all over the world on their most recent tour. Residents of the UAE could not believe their good fortune. What was even more significant was that the mood was set a month before the concert date. It was the first time that tickets were sold out a month before the performance.

"It is unprecedented that a ticket category has sold out so early", commented Thomas Ovesen, General Manager Mirage Pr…

Learning how to lose

Watching the T20 game between India and England was anything but fun the other night. Call me a sore loser but somehow I wasn’t ready to see my team out of the World Cup.

Sure there are better teams than us and sure many would say we didn't deserve to win, but cricket has actually become the one thing to look forward to in these horribly depressing times.

You turn on the news today and there's either news of racial discrimination, further repercussions of the economic crisis, or another case of swine flu making the headlines. An aeroplane mysteriously disappears from the sky, leaving so many bereaved families with no time to even say goodbye. So many unanswered questions. Sufficient fodder for news channels. Very few silver linings.

Is it justified to pin all our hopes on 11 men in such a scenario? Do they really have no other choice but to win at all costs? ‘We don’t care how you do it, boys, just get us something to be proud of.’ Never mind that there’s an equally intense wom…

Mum's the word

Some mothers have them

Its been hard to ignore the octoplet mother, Nadya Suleman. I first heard about her when she made a splash in the press somewhere at the start of the year.

Two months later, she is still making headlines. With death threats and dedicated websites, I’d hate to shed more light than necessary on the newest ‘celeb mom’ in town. However there is a haunting realism to this issue. Its much bigger than that rhyme about a mother who ‘had so many children she didn’t know what to do.’ The children in this story are real and their fate is very real too.

Anyone with children can testify to sometimes swearing that ‘This is it!’ ‘I’ve had it,’ ‘No more kids.’ Of course you love your children and can’t live without them but when it comes to back talk, dirty diapers or the terrible twos, its easy to imagine your life in an exotic spa with much more pleasant things to deal with. So who in their sane minds would have 14 children in this day and recession-laden age?

Having come from a …

Think before you throw

More firms in the UAE have begun recycling waste.

Environmental responsibility is no longer a matter of choice. It's a logical step towards saving and making the most of our resources, which are in short supply. The World Bank estimates that the UAE will invest about $46 billion (Dh168.96 billion) over the next decade in environmental and pollution control projects.

Habiba Al Marashi, Chairperson, Emirates Environmental Group, an ISO 14001-certified NGO says, "The EEG was formed in 1991 by a number of committed citizens to support the government's effort of protecting the UAE's environment. The group sounded the alarm on the growing waste problem, excessive energy consumption and the urgent need to conserve water, a few years after its formation, pointing out an increasing throw-away tendency of residents."

Al Marashi believes that environmental issues aren't high on the agenda in the UAE. She says, "I believe that people are aware of the basic environmenta…

Keeping customs alive

Amid the glitzy modern coffee houses of the UAE, traditional Arab cafés still form an important part of the urban landscape and are frequented by the local community as well as expatriates and tourists.

The Aroma Garden Caffée is a quintessential Arab coffee house that has been in Dubai for five years. Built in the style of a traditional Arab home, it attracts the curiosity of many passers by. "The café's ambience is calming. It has been designed as an Arab inspired house," says Gina Serapon, Operations Manager.

"Our regular clientele consists of many UAE nationals as well as visitors from other GCC countries. It is really nice to see guests return faithfully year after year. For us this is not just a simple coffee shop, we also offer breakfast and dinner and provide an atmosphere for the entire family. It's a large café so we offer them much more room and privacy which they don't get in ordinary malls."

Relaxed pace

Owner Mohammad Ihsan Atif, a Saudi natio…

Enjoying the local flavour

Around the world coffee speaks the language of warmth and togetherness. It holds a special place in the Arab world as well. Arabian coffee houses offer a unique version of the coffee experience.

The story of how coffee spread around the world starts in Ethiopia, where the coffee tree probably originated. Authorities in Yemen initially encouraged coffee drinking, as it was considered preferable to the extreme side effects of kat, a shrub whose buds and leaves were believed to be intoxicating.

The first few coffeehouses were opened in Saudi Arabia and their popularity quickly spread throughout the Arab world as they became places where chess was played, information exchanged, and singing, dancing and music were enjoyed.

It was also the first venue where society and business could be conducted in comfortable surroundings. The doors were open to anyone who could pay the price for a cup of coffee.

Arabian coffee houses have continued to be the meeting ground for friends and families, offering …

The fever begins

In most parts of the world, football is not just a sport, it’s a religion. With a faithful fan following of more than 30 million television viewers around the world, there is little doubt this game takes precedence over other sports.

Professional footballers are a pretty superstitious lot. Scores of players enter the pitch with an endless string of symbolic crosses. Some rely on amulets, identical goal celebrations, lucky innerwear, locks of hair, pre-game rituals and wedding rings to help them succeed. Many will only step onto the pitch with their right foot, all in good faith, of course. The list of pseudo-religious superstitious quirks is virtually endless. And one thing is certain — the colourful rituals will not subside for the upcoming World Cup in Germany this year.

The list of football-related superstitions is as intriguing as it is endless. At one time French defender-general Lauren Blanc would ceremoniously kiss the bald crown of his talismanic goalkeeper Fabien Barthez befor…

Prince of fashion

“Fashions fade, style is eternal,” Said Yves Saint Laurent; the man who epitomised style in its truest form.

The YSL brand is synonymous with fashion. It is also the name of the legendary designer who spearheaded a phenomenal fashion power house for a large part of the twentieth century.Born in Oran, Algeria, Yves Henri Donat Mathieu Saint Laurent discovered his true calling at an early age. After experimenting with designs for his sisters at the age of 12, he left home to pursue a career in fashion at the age of 17.

For three years, Saint Laurent worked closely with the iconic designer Christian Dior, who referred to him as “my right arm.” Dior’s sudden death in 1957 sent shock waves through the industry. The House of Dior quickly named Saint Laurent its head designer at the age of 21. The designer found himself at the head of a $20-million-a-year fashion empire, succeeding an icon that had radically changed the way women dressed in 1947 with the wasp-waisted new look.
Though thrus…