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20 March 2016

Happy Naw-Ruz!

“The new year hath appeared and the spiritual springtime is at hand”

AS THE Baha'i Fast comes to a close, springtime begins, and a new year unfolds. It's Naw-Ruz, the first day of the new year in the Baha'i calendar. With Baha'is present in 100,000 localities in over 200 countries and territories around the world, the event is a global celebration. In most countries, Baha'is gather together for prayers, dancing, singing, and dining. Hie over to the "The Largest Baha'i Facebook Group Ever", and you'll see how Naw-Ruz captivates communities around the world.

Naw-Ruz has roots in Nowruz, the traditional Iranian celebration that welcomes the first day of spring. Abdu'l-Baha, Son of the Founder of the Baha'i Faith, has written about the advent of springtime:

The turning and falling of the autumn leaves is past; the bleakness of the winter time is over. The new year hath appeared and the spiritual springtime is at hand. The black earth is becoming a verdant garden; the deserts and mountains are teeming with red flowers; from the borders of the wilderness the tall grasses are standing like advance guards before the cypress and jessamine trees; while the birds are singing among the rose branches like the angels in the highest heavens, announcing the glad-tidings of the approach of that spiritual spring, and the sweet music of their voices is causing the real essence of all things to move and quiver.

Happy Naw-Ruz to everyone around the world!

Related Stories: Happy Naw-Ruz (2007)! | Happy Naw-Ruz (2009)! | Happy Naw-Ruz (2014)!

01 March 2016

The Baha'i Fast

AND SO that time of the year has come when Baha'is are up before the sun is, have a filling breakfast, pray, and make their most uncompromising effort to detach from all material passions and desires. The annual 19-day season of the Fast has come.

To all my fellow Baha'is, may the Fast be refreshing, reflective, and reinvigorating for you! Happy Fasting!

28 February 2016

Focal point:
Pia Andrade, “Being Free”

"Being Free"

THIS YEAR makes the thirtieth year of the People's Power Revolution that overthrew the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines. In commemorating the milestone event, the Philippine Daily Inquirer asked my niece Pia Andrade, one of their junior writers, for her thoughts on freedom. Pia wasn't born yet when the peaceful revolution occurred, but her thoughts capture the essence of freedom with universal truth. “Trust and respect everyone the same way

We can maintain freedom by using it wisely and not abusing it. We can say anything or do anything, as long as it doesn't hurt anybody. Do not bully others and do not let yourself be bullied.

Trust and respect everyone the same way. Be fair, just, and do not take sides. Love the country where you are born and raised.

Related Stories: Pia becomes a writer

26 February 2016

Focal point:
Barbra Streisand & Neil Diamond,
“You Don't Bring Me Flowers”

"You Don't Bring Me Flowers", Grammy Awards, 26 February 1980

THIRTY SIX years ago tonight, I tuned in to the live telecast of the Grammy Awards in Manila, and I watched the mesmerizing and unannounced performance captured on this video. Thus began my unending enthusiasm with the incomparable artistry of Barbra Streisand. Watch the video and believe. It doesn't get any better than this anymore.

Festival of Ayyám-i-Há

THIS YEAR'S festival of Ayyám-i-Há has five days of fellowship amongst Bahá'ís on account of leap year. Translated from Persian as "days of joy" or "days outside of time", Ayyám-i-Há brings Bahá'ís together in in a global spirit of goodwill, performing acts of charity, giving gifts to friends and family, and attending social gatherings before the annual Bahá'í Fast begins.

Bahá'u'lláh, the prophet-founder of the Bahá'í Faith, said of Ayyám-i-Há:

"It behoveth the people of Baha, throughout these days, to provide good cheer for themselves, their kindred and, beyond them, the poor and needy, and with joy and exultation to hail and glorify their Lord, to sing His praise and magnify His Name."

Happy Ayyám-i-Há to Bahá'ís around the world!

17 January 2016

Biba comes to DLF Mall of India

BIBA OPENED its 200th store in Noida, India last 11 January 2016, at the cavernous DLF Mall of India. I'm excited about this store for two things. One, the company has reached a new milestone by hitting the 200-store mark. Two, we have introduced innovations in shop design and display that no other brand in the ethnic womenswear industry has ever done, making this the most up-to-date and most competitive Biba store in the world! From the Flickr slideshow below, you can see such compelling ideas as "The Biba Look This Month" wall that increases shopper engagement in the store.

It seems like just yesterday that the store design team and I travelled to see the Biba site at the dusty Mall of India. Seeing the shoppers that have been stopping by after we opened, this store is going to be very popular!

Images: Biba, DLF Mall of India. Noida, Uttar Pradesh, 11 January 2016
Source: Paul Ancheta on Flickr

01 January 2016

As 2016 rolls in

Happy New Year!

WELCOME, 2016! I'm pretty excited about this year. After working out the massive kinks of settling into India's most difficult city for a job that I truly like, I expect to finally, fully live in the present moment. One of my favorite musical groups, Swing Out Sister, has a song that resonates exactly what's on my mind for the new year:

Better use your wits or you'll lose your mind.
There's a world to discover and you're running out of time.
Life's a roller coaster ride
that took you by surprise
now you're burnin' up inside!

Make the most of what you've got
for it's better than to not have anything at all.
Take each day as it's your last
or you'll find the future's passed
and you're left with nothing at all!

The song is called "Better Make It Better". Check it out:

2016 is here. Let's all make it better, and let's all make the better things last!

21 June 2015

Pia becomes a writer

TEN YEARS ago, my niece Pia Marie Ancheta Andrade sat on an easy chair, observing things around her as a one-year-old child. Today, she sits on a writer's chair, discussing things around her as a junior columnist for the Philippine Daily Inquirer!

Pia has been chosen amongst many candidates after a rigorous wave of interviews and examinations.  As a writer for Junior Inquirer, she is expected to attend events organized by the Inquirer, as well as share her thoughts on issues that may interest the tween and teen segment of Inquirer’s readership.  Her first article was published today—and it’s on the cover page of the Junior Inquirer!

Congratulations once again, Pia! You make your parents, siblings, and the rest of us very proud.

16 June 2015

Turning 50


JUST WHEN I finally learned how to act like a 40-year-old man, I turned 50. It actually doesn't feel any different! I'll probably have more people around me listening to stories of the endless, amazing things that I've seen and done (and will probably never see and do again), take longer naps on Sundays, dance like a fool, and really feel like an elder‒a creaking, laughable, opinionated, and boundlessly gorgeous elder on his way to being 60!

11 June 2015

Sighted site: 
Mumbai’s Terminal 2 rocks!

The columns, all filtering in natural daylight, are inspired by the peacock, the national bird of India.THE NEW Terminal 2 (T2) of the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai changes the way flyers experience airports. 

The terminal, which opened in January 2014, was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) and features over 7,000 pieces of antiquities and contemporary Indian art displayed on the airport’s corridors and hallways.  This is the largest public art in any airport in the world, and is a veritable showcase of Mumbai's proudly organic culture amidst a spectacular use of natural light, which the city has so much of.

T2 has got to be the best-designed airport of our generation. 

Sir Christopher Lee (1922-2015)

WHEN I was growing up, the mere name of Christopher Lee evoked visions of black-and-white horror scenes. He was one of the Terror Triumvirate—Vincent Price and Peter Cushing being the other two—that spooked me as a child watching television. Mr. Price had the terrifying tenor, Mr. Cushing the deathly demeanor, and Mr. Lee—well, he was Dracula, for lord's sake.

But it wasn’t just the creepy cape that he donned. In the span of a very long career, Sir Christopher wore an astonishing diversity of hats, as listed on the infographic below. He was a true Renaissance man, portraying roles of the past in reel life and playing roles ahead of his time in real life.

Mr. Lee has joined the company of Mr. Price and Mr. Cushing in the next world. The heavens must be having a blast with the three unforgettable icons of fright coming together again.

17 May 2015

Sighted site: 

NOTHING, IN recent months, has ever, ever besieged my taste buds with an army of delightful flavors as the Kiyan has done. This fortress of culinary awesomeness at the Dusit Devarani in Delhi is on top of the hill, literally.

I had lunch at the global cuisine restaurant while attending a strategy meeting with the rest of my colleagues at Biba Apparels.  The fare was wicked, as indelible to my mind as it is to my palate. Without remorse, I thwacked four shameless heaps of those fresh salads—artichokes, feta, spinach, arugulas, slivers of honeyed greenery—before I could even attack the main course.  The beef and poultry are dressed in so many saucy, sassy colors, it was a bit painful to disarrange them on the serving plate! 

The noontime assault on this restaurant's remarkable fare is impossible to resist and impossible to not do again.  This is certainly one of India’s finest.

14 May 2015

Seven Baha’is, seven years

SEVEN YEARS ago today, seven Baha'i leaders were unjustly imprisoned in Iran. Their 20-year sentences are the longest ever served to any prisoner of conscience in that country--a severity that is only the tip of the iceberg in what is one of the most serious cases of state-sponsored religious persecution in our time.

Seven years in prison.  It really has to stop. Now.

27 April 2015

50 years and still # 1

Source: Paul Ancheta on YouTube.

SIX MONTHS ago this week, Barbra Streisand created new milestones in the recording industry when the new CD Partners became her 10th Number One album. It made her the only artist to have number one albums in every decade since the 1960s . . . and that's just for starters!

I made this video to commemorate such awesome event; Miss Streisand even posted it on her own website—how cool is that? For those of you who've supported (or suffered!) my love of Barbra in all these dozens of years, well, this one's for you.

26 April 2015

Quake in Nepal

IT’S DREADFUL to think that, as the earth shook beneath me here in Delhi yesterday, the trembling mountains further north were subsequently claiming innocent lives. My prayerful thoughts go the victims of this devastation in and around Nepal.

01 April 2015

Biba’s layers

TO PARAPHRASE singer David Gates, if a picture paints a thousand words, then one minute of standing in front of a show window is worth a million thoughts. This window represents the new spring-summer range of Biba Apparels—sheer, slim, and light silhouettes to create the brand’s signature layered look for the new season.

23 March 2015

What Lee Kuan Yew thought

FILIPINO PROFESSIONALS whom we recruited to work in Singapore are as good as our own. Indeed, their architects, artists, and musicians are more artistic and creative than ours. . . The difference lies in the culture of the Filipino people. It is a soft, forgiving culture. (Yet they) write and speak with passion. If they could get their elite to share their sentiments and act, what could they not have achieved?”

—Lee Kuan Yew (1923-2015), Singapore's founding father

17 August 2014

Delhi’s kind of kindness

14-08-brokencarYOU CAN always ask for help in Delhi . . . but don’t expect an answer.

The other night, my car broke down in the middle of the very busy, very wide, and very hot Outer Ring Road in South Delhi.  I was driving on the inner lane when the car started to sputter and eventually stop.  Jump-starting it didn't work, so I tried to get pedestrians and auto-rickshaw drivers to help me push it.  No one helped.

Elsewhere in India, particularly Mumbai and Kolkata, a kind hand is available when you need it.  Somehow, New Delhi has a different definition of kindness.  On a positive note, it's great to discover that I am still able to push a car for 300 meters to the curb ALONE since no one was willing to help. It was also lovely to hear the majestic sound of cars and trucks honking me off as I braved the car to safety. New Delhi is certainly never a boring city!

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