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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!

15 August 2014

A day of freedom

INDIA CELEBRATES its 68th Independence Day today. Having lived in its capital for seven months, I am hopeful that, in the very near future, this day also celebrates freedom from socioeconomic inequity, gender crime, and racial oppression that continue to taint the fact of India as a true spiritual center.

13 August 2014

EPITAPH : Lauren Bacall (1924-2014)

SHE WAS the coolest and classiest actress I've known, with the smokiest voice, the sultriest stare, and the wittiest delivery of the most acidic lines in cinema. Reading Lauren Bacall's autobiographies gave me a lasting impression that she was a woman with the faintest ego. In fact, she once rebuffed her status as an entertainment legend, asking "Aren't legends dead?"

I first saw her onscreen with the little-seen The Fan (1981), and since then I had been beguiled with her stunning abilities to carry fashion and dialogue in the coolest manner. I often imagined what and how she would have been as my boss in fashion retail. At the 1975 and 1987 Oscar awards, she made the costume design presentation the most effortlessly fashionable thing the Academy has ever crafted. She was stately in very connecting way.

Thanks for the many years of inspiration, Ms. Bacall.

1975 Oscar Awards, Best Costume Design
Source: YouTube.

1987 Oscar Awards, Best Costume Design
Source: YouTube.

05 June 2014

The wrath of the sun

IT'S 12 noon, and I'm stuck in horrific traffic on the mammoth flyover on Ring Road in South Delhi. The sun is spitting 45 degrees of its dry searing temperature over this concrete desert. At this height, we're above everyone else in the city. We're closer to the sun than anyone else in the city. Nothing else is moving, not even the air. The air has lost the battle of the sun. Like an overwrought donkey, my car is struggling to get fresh air in. I try to amuse my co-workers at the back of the car, feeding them nonsensical stories of an expatriate life before they all wilt away. Before we all wilt away.

Every pore of my body is like my car. It's over-heating in this open oven of a flyover. What have we done to incur the wrath of the sun?

30 May 2014

Dust in the wind

A HUGE sandstorm hit New Delhi late this afternoon, swathing the city in layers of fallen trees―and my flat in sheets of dust. Like most of my experiences in Delhi, this is the first time I've encountered this. I was still in the office when it happened. As my office is in the basement, I can hardly see anything happening outside, so I thought it was a thunderstorm when I heard the lashing and the beating. The air was eerily calm and the skies were gray when I stepped out.

From monkeys and mosquitoes to sand and scorch, my dogs and I don't seem to run out of heart-pounding things to see (and hear) (and smell) (and swat) in this blustering city.

09 May 2014

Monkey see

THREE MEAN-looking rhesus monkeys were standing at the hallway outside my flat when I stepped out. They were staring at me menacingly, probably waiting for me to make the first move. I didn't. I fled back inside the house and locked the door. A few minutes later, I went out and saw them still in the same location, in the same position. It took a while for them to move, and when they did, I ran downstairs for the car park.

In recent years, thousands of rhesus macaque monkeys have swarmed over urban India. In Delhi, these wild monkeys have had mean encounters with humans when they look for food, especially during the hot summer months. There have been reports of them breaking into houses; in 2007, a deputy mayor fell to his death from his terrace while trying to fend off an attack from these marauders.

However, not much has been done to permanently give these monkeys a sanctuary. Monkeys are revered by Hindus as incarnations of Hanuman, the monkey god, so culling them has not been successful. Recently, larger langur monkeys were used by trained "monkey catchers" to scare the rhesus away, but such practice has been banned by the national wildlife authorities.

Hopefully, it will be my first and last monkey encounter at home―or any other place―in Delhi. I have no business for monkey business in this troubling city.

29 April 2014

Philippine cinema at its meanest

I slap your face, you slap mine
Source: Paul Ancheta on YouTube.

THE GREAT accomplishment of Philippine cinema in the late twentieth century was creating legendary rivalries between actors and actresses. It spawned big fan groups that safeguarded box-office success, and ensured that every performance was always better than the other's. Directors and screenwriters gave these performers dramatic confrontation scenes punctuated by the most memorable lines, slugfests or slapfests ever.

It was rare for rivals to appear together in a film. If they did, the results could be epic. Ina, Kapatid, Anak (Mother, Sister, Daughter) (1979) and T-Bird At Ako (The Lesbian and I) (1982) were two such films. They starred four of the greatest Filipino actresses who ever lived: Lolita Rodriguez and the late Charito Solis in the former, Vilma Santos and Nora Aunor in the latter. I put together the most sensational confrontation scenes from those movies to show you what happens when thespian rivalry is put to a test. You get truly compelling performance and dialog . . . along with acid tongues, dagger eyes, and hard slaps.

Bug off, bugs!

HERE'S ONE more incredible discovery about New Delhi: it's a city of mosquitoes. The city's heat seems to be an aphrodisiac for these blood-suckers, as they draw energy from external heat and spends the next three to seven days completing the egg-to-adult life cycle. That's a week for them to turn from babies to vampires. In South Delhi, especially in farmhouse-dotted Mehrauli where I live, the trees are not going to be helpful either as they provide convenient breeding ground. These totally annoying flyers are so professional, no amount of Baygons or mosquito repellents kill them. I can beat Delhi's heat, but I don't think anyone can easily beat these bugs. What a pest!

Biba goes to Kemps Corner

Images: Biba Kemps Corner, 21 April 2014
Source: Paul Ancheta on Flickr

INDIA's BEST-loved women's ethnic wear brand, Biba, has opened its flagship store in Mumbai. Appropriately located at the chic Kemps Corner district in South Mumbai, the new store is spread over two floors of contemporary fixtures designed by Bengaluru-based retail designer Future Research Design Company (FRDC). I spent an entire evening with my team dressing up the store and having fun working with a new style of mannequins that we purchased specifically for this store.

With Biba's opening at Kemps Corner, swanky next-door districts Cumballa and Malabar Hills have just become even more fashionable.

13 April 2014

Poor man's air conditioner

THE AIR cooler is a fascinating gadget that I've discovered in Delhi. The ugly-looking but effective apparatus is a savior during the city's sizzling dry summer. Water is filled inside, and a small motor pumps it up to flow on the sides. A powerful fan forces the water to evaporate, thus cooling the atmosphere indoors. With one drop of essential aromatic oil on the inner water tank, the evaporative water fills the air with a breezy scent. This wonderful invention beats the power-guzzling air conditioner by a mile.

10 April 2014

The Delhi summer

DELHI IS often called the heart of India, mainly for the extremes and contradictions that illustrate the wonderful diversities of this country. However, a non-Delhiite is never fully prepared for one very sharp extreme: its weather! After that brief but pleasant winter, summer has begun in this city. The transition is brisk and severe: tap water is suddenly hot, I've been warned that it’s going to be long, hot, and wilting. Power and water companies are now gearing up for potential shortages in the capital. No wonder the citizens of Delhi can be as hostile as its summer and as cold as its winter!

21 March 2014

Happy Naw-Rúz!

ON THE occasion of the Bahá'í New Year, I wish all of you a fresh start to a year of bounties! Happy Naw-Rúz!

17 March 2014

FOCAL POINT : "Dance in Film : 1921-2011”

WHILE LISTENING to “One Note Samba” (1974) by Michel Legrand, I thought of putting together dance scenes in Western movies into the song. So I did.

Of the hundreds of Western movies that showcased a dance sequence in the last 100 years, the selections I made for the video are the most memorable to me. These scenes illustrate the evolution of contemporary dance as a medium for social reflection. Legrand's remarkable dexterity on “One Note Samba” matches the gusto and gracefulness of these dances. Together, they're perfect partners.

If you're unable to view the video on YouTube, check it out on Vimeo.

15 March 2014

TRAVEL TALES : A family wheeler in Hyderabad

THE FATHER takes his family on a day-off in Hyderabad. With India's congested roads and massive population, the motorcycle is the invaluable, affordable, and flexible choice for domestic mobility and public transport in India. In fact, the country has the fastest-growing and second-largest motorcycle market in the world (next to China). As this photo shows, entire families travel with it, making it a catalyst for keeping families together outdoors!

14 March 2014

And the cab woes continue

MANILA'S TAXI operators must come to India to train taxi companies on efficiencies. After that grueling experience in Chennai with Taxi For Sure, I met another taxi disservice. At the Hyderabad airport, I kept waiting for the driver at the arrival gate . . . and he kept waiting for me at the departure gate. Oy.

My cab woes remind me of a time I landed in Chennai a few years ago. The driver was nowhere to be seen. When I phoned him, he insisted on being at the arrival gate with a placard. I insisted that I was at the arrival gate looking at all the placards. Then I suspected a different background noise on the phone, so I asked which airport he was in. He replied, "Bangalore."

To this very day, my colleague who booked that cab still wonders when Chennai ever became Bangalore.

TRAVEL TALES : How to make passersby pass by in Chennai

LOOK CLOSELY, as you may miss the error with all the black things happening in this Kenneth Cole show window in Phoenix Marketcity in Chennai. Found it? That's what happens when visual merchandisers neglect the details. I had to walk in and ask the store manager to immediately correct the grammatical error before Kenneth Cole himself throws a tantrum.

Nevertheless, never mind the missing letter “S”. The bigger catastrophe is the use of everything that makes a show window font a failure: thin, black, italic, and serif. The recipe makes the message unreadable. To worsen its legibility, there's the use of mirrors and black merchandise behind it. Apparently, the vinyl cutouts have been there for a week, and no one else had noticed the errors. I rest my case.

TRAVEL TALES : In Chennai, Amy Sareehouse

GLAMOR WAS probably in the visual merchandiser's mind while creating a look for this mannequin at a saree store in Express Avenue Mall, Chennai. Unfortunately, the person had to manage a wig that is neither here nor there. From what could have been an homage to the late Amy Winehouse, the enterprise ended with Amy Sareehouse. Rated C for Confused.

13 March 2014

Unsure about Taxi For Sure

FROM UNAPOLOGETIC tardy drivers to vomit on the car floor, it seems that every reason has been thrown at me to dislike cab rental start-up Taxi For Sure. I've been a most avid evangelist for the firm for the past 18 months, giving it the thumbs-up on every word of mouth and social medium possible. The group links commuters to taxi operators through online and mobile apps, and it does have a robust front-end facility. However, it seems to struggle in aggregating cab operators who share their brand promise of quality service.

I booked my cabs through Taxi For Sure for the entire two-day duration of my stay in Chennai. I often did this to guarantee seamless cab availability. On the first day, I was picked up half an hour late from the airport by a driver who barely spoke English and Hindi. After requesting for a driver who could understand English, I got one―and this one made me nervous by beating the red light and making an illegal U-turn. The following day, I rode on a cab thick with dust inside and dried vomit on the floor mats. The cab was immediately changed after my phone-in complaint. At the end of the day, though, the driver insisted on giving me a fake invoice. I naturally, angrily disagreed. It didn't help that the Chennai hotline was unusually arrogant and self-serving on the phone.

The experience left me confused, angered, and betrayed. I created online dialogs with Taxi For Sure, but they ended up nowhere. To date, no senior official from the firm has come around to offer an apology and a commitment to better service. Unless and until Taxi For Sure resolves its birthing issues and accepts the precariousness of their customer base as a fact, I will no longer continue to give them my trust and support.

04 March 2014

Two months later

TWO MONTHS after moving to New Delhi, I realize how quickly the honeymoon has ended. The weather has turned warm with winter ending and spring quickly descending, and the city's temperament has also turned on the heat. The beastly traffic situation has worsened, and air pollution has doubled up. I've been going back and forth to the doctor for a throat infection that's been lingering, due invariably to the air that I breathe indoors and outdoors.

As a place to live, Delhi, with all its contradictions and emotional chaos, is both loved and hated by non-Delhiites. It hosts India's largest number of foreign residents, but lots of them leave it all too soon, mostly with negative experiences. I'm realizing, however, that Delhi will never change for anyone. It's got to be embraced, smelled, tasted, and heard to the very core, throat infections and all. Only then will one have a thriving relationship with this sensational city.

02 March 2014

The Bahá'í Fast

FROM 2-20 March every year, members of the global Bahá'í Faith observe the 19-Day Fast by abstaining from eating or drinking from sunrise to sunset. It is a time for reflecting on one’s spiritual progress and making an effort to detach from material desires.

To all my fellow Bahá'ísobserving the Fast, may you have the most gratifying spiritual enrichment ahead!

01 March 2014

FOCAL POINT : Mediarun, “Oscar Dresses”

The dresses worn by all the Best Actress Oscar winners
Source: Mediarun

SHOWCASING EVERY dress worn by every winner of the Best Actress Oscar since 1929, this info-graphic by Mediarun is a well-researched and exquisitely-sketched timeline of women’s wear in the twentieth century. It also indicates how the Academy Awards show has evolved from ready-to-wear to haute couture, from Givenchy's gorgeous grace to Scaasi's scandalous sheer. Clearly, every Oscar moment is as winning as the sartorial extravaganza that clothed it.

26 February 2014

Festival of Ayyám-i-Há

THE FOUR-DAY festival of Ayyám-i-Há brings Bahá'ís together in fellowship and spirit of charity. These are days of preparing for the Bahá'í Fast, celebrating goodwill, and exchanging gifts in ways similar to Christmas observance. In fact, Ayyám-i-Há is often seen as "Baha'i Christmas".

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

24 February 2014

SIGHTED SITE : Mamagoto, New Delhi

MAKATI CITY is in New Delhi! The financial capital of the Philippines found its way as a rice-roll dish on the menu of Mamagoto, a chic Asian restaurant with branches across New Delhi and Mumbai. (I took the picture above at the branch in DLF Promenade.) The dish is quite pricey—and that's probably why it's called "Makati City Discovery"!

21 February 2014

SIGHTED SITE : Satya Paul, “Sumi-e”

AT AMBIENCE Mall in Gurgaon, I saw one of the most compelling show windows this season: Satya Paul's presentation of its "Sumi-e" saree collection. Sumi-e is an ancient form of Japanese ink painting, and the window announces the collection's inspiration in powerful manner.

Of late, we're seeing a lot of department store and branded show windows filled with props that overwhelm and drown the product. Satya Paul's window does exactly the opposite, balancing product and graphics in a sea of negative space. The glass-stuck Japanese flower, done in sumi-e style, begs for a standing ovation!

Kudos to the Satya Paul team. They do know their stuff.

18 February 2014


Mojgan Sami, Shradha Singh, and me
Source: Mojgan Sami

SO THERE I am, wearing a turban in the splendid company of my beauteous friends Mojgan Sami and Shradha Singh. The occasion is the beautiful wedding of Rakshit Singh and Yamini Sardana in Panchkula, Haryana. The groom's male family members and guests are supposed to wear this Rajasthani headgear for symbolic reasons.

It's the first turban I've ever worn, and it's a delight. Even more delightful is how the turban-wrapper twirled it around my head and single-handedly destroyed my carefully-coiffed hair. I now know why Indian men look stately with a turban: it does feel like it might untwirl and fall off, so one keeps his head high, in elegant, stately manner. It works!

17 February 2014

TRAVEL TALES : In Chandigarh, materialist metaphors on Grand Trunk Road

TRAVELING TO Chandigarh to attend a wedding, I traversed the ancient, venerable Grand Trunk Road. The national highway is dotted with sprawling farmlands and huge car showrooms, particularly in Haryana. As I passed by the cavernous Audi and Mercedes Benz showrooms, I realize the reason why Delhi is grand, cold, and proud. It's populated by throngs of families who have built these farmlands, cashed in on them, and bought their material richness (and big cars) to the capital. New Delhi, of course, is more than happy to accommodate them, as their wealth is an impeccable match for the capital's symbolic power.

Someday, I hope to see Delhi without the trappings of material wealth, and experience it for what it must truly represent: the capital of an undeniably spiritual nation.

16 February 2014

TRAVEL TALES : The Delhi belly in New Delhi

NEVER, EVER underestimate the power of the Delhi belly. For those who wonder, this is the clash between Intestinal Police and Delhi Food Mafia. I've been caught repeatedly in that clash several times here in Delhi. The results are always horridly revolting and tremendously debilitating.

Seriously, Delhi belly—colloquialism for traveller's diarrhea—is not specific to Delhi. It's the most common illness afflicting travelers to India, mostly due to bacteria. In all my years traveling around the country, the illness has hit me worst and most often in Delhi, even if I have completely avoided the city's street food. The higher levels of spice and pollution are obvious culprits.

I've begun to stack up on Yakult, a proven probiotic, to fortify my intestinal immunity. In the meantime, let me enjoy the city's otherwise ambrosial and truly cosmoplitan culinary offerings. I have the Delhi. You can have the belly.

15 February 2014

My funny Valentine

BARBRA STREISAND decided to write me this Valentine card.

Naturally, I wrote her back. However, I wasn't too happy with the picture she sent. Moreover, the rose wilted by the time it reached me. So here's my letter.

10 February 2014

The Philippines thanks the world

Source: Philiipine Department of Tourism on YouTube.

EXACTLY THREE months ago, Typhoon Haiyan flattened Central Philippines on its way to becoming the strongest and most devastating tropical cyclone in recent history. Since then, the nation has seen the whole world rally together in unprecedented, united efforts to provide relief assistance, medical missions, and funds for rebuilding infrastructure.

The nation now wants to show its thanks, with a sixty-second film reflecting the greatest anchor for the catastrophe-prone archipelago: the genuine warmheartedness of its people.

Yes, thank you, world.

08 February 2014

Don't it make my brown eyes blue

Image source: Okkerr

DRIVING TWO friends home, I was curious about the brown-eyed one whose name means "blue eyes".

Me: "Nilakshi, why were you named after blue eyes? You don't have blue eyes."

Mojgan (eavesdropping): "For the same reason you're named after a saint, Paul."


05 February 2014

Facebook Is 10

Facebook at 10
Source: Paul Ancheta on Vimeo.

FACEBOOK CELEBRATES its tenth anniversary with "Look Back", a personalized video summary of the Facebook user's photographic moments. The production is stunning for its automated ability to sync the best-liked posts and photos in one minute. Some of the videos I've seen look a bit too cheesy, but they're nevertheless very interesting to view.

That's my "Look Back" above, with some of the mostest and bestest of the six years networking with people I love, like, and dislike. Enjoy the video.

And happy birthday, Facebook.

04 February 2014

Finally found a flat

AFTER THREE rigorous weeks of getting subjected to every nook, crevice, and unscrupulous landlord of Southwest Delhi, I finally found a flat. The new digs is a 25-year-old house surrounded by trees in suburban Vasant Kunj. It has none of the posh luxuriances that pampered me in Manila, Mumbai, and Kolkata. The doors, for example, have no knobs, only latches and padlocks for security. Yet, the house and its environs have enough natural pleasures that will keep my life in moderation and detachment. That's the best thing.


MY DOGS Pancho and Polo, in the company of my ever-faithful driver Shailesh, have finally joined me for their new home in Delhi. The journey from Mumbai took 23 hours, and Shailesh told me that both dogs slept throughout the entire trip. Too bad: they would have personally seen the legendary efficiency of the Indian Railways system.

27 January 2014

Delhi's delirious house-hunting

“In New Delhi, I can't get a flat to rent because everyone wants more money from a single foreigner!”

THE TOTTERING economy has so afflicted Delhi's realty business that house properties remain either unfinished or unoccupied. In my hunt for a flat, I've already visited at least 80 vacant locations across South Delhi in three weeks. Most of them, however, are unpalatable as residences. In this part of the city, there's a gigantic lack of open space and parking. Closer to where I work (Chhattarpur), there's the specter of properties being illegally built and therefore lacking the assurance of continuous water and power supply from the city government.

But what has been most delirious is the attitude of landlords. I had expected, and prepared myself for, unscrupulous realty agents; au contraire, they're nothing compared to a lot of owners I've met. During initial meetings with landlords and property developers, rental rates suddenly get hiked in ridiculous ways. One landlord literally shooed me away when he learned I wasn't employed by a multinational company. In Mumbai, I couldn't get a flat to rent because nobody wants to lease out to a single foreigner. In New Delhi, I can't get a flat to rent because everyone wants more money from a single foreigner!

26 January 2014

A day of sovereignty

SIXTY-FOUR YEARS years ago today, India wrote its constitution as a free republic. Since then, the festivities in New Delhi to mark that day have always been full of pomp and majesty. It reflects the essence of sovereignty that the nation had long dreamed of attaining.

Today, the dignity of such festivities seem ironic in the face of a frightening rate of crimes against women in the city. As I view captivating images of armed forces marching with stateliness, I hope for a day when women will not require such armed force to secure their basic humanity in Delhi. A day celebrating a country's sovereignty must also commemorate the powers invested in protecting its women.

20 January 2014

End-of-job sale signs

DURING END-OF-SEASON sales, create a sign like this and get even with cranky and spiteful store managers. But make sure you have a new job tomorrow.

18 January 2014

ICICI Bank's customer disservice

ICICI Bank's Phone Service

WITH TODAY'S relentless corporate cost-cutting and disenchanted generation of younger employees, customer service is bound to take a horrible hit. ICICI Bank never seems to learn from this.

I spent a historic record of over 180 minutes, non-stop, on two mobile phones last night with a couple of ICICI Bank Wealth Management officers and with a 23-year-old technician named Julius from their iMobile phone banking application team. We had been trying to figure out what to do with an iMobile application that did not recognize my phone number and failed to download my accounts onto my gadget.

Unforgivably, for all the time and effort spent on those monstrously extended phone conversations, my issues ended unresolved. I was subjected to dropped phone calls from the iMobile team. The last conversation was disastrous, done over a phone call to a certain Azeen of the Wealth Management desk: he refused to let me talk, testing the limit of my patience, and when I volcanically exploded with an adroitly delivered “F" word, he blatantly instructed me to use professional language. As you can see, my service request over iMobile ended immobile. It was farcical misery fed by their outrageous apathy.

By then, I had already assumed that the Wealth Management hotline and the iMobile technical support were operating from call centers. I was wrong. I learned later that evening that these desks are, in fact, full-time employees of ICICI Bank. If the Wealth Management team treated me with such level of amateurism, how are non-Wealth Management customers handled on the phone?

This three-hour saga has left me with total disgust at ICICI Bank's telephonic service and utter disbelief over the bank’s amateurish tactical processes. More precariously, it left me with a gnawing mistrust of the bank's ability to handle personal banking information on phone applications. Most of all, it made me rethink ICICI Bank's commitment to trust, confidence, and service.

It's time to open an account with Axis Bank, ranked by the Business Today as the most consistent bank performer in 2013. I am confident I will be treated with an excellence that I used to enjoy from ICICI Bank during its glory days.

14 January 2014

Bikers and boxers

Footpath in Chittaranjan

WHILE INSPECTING for a new house to live in, I passed by this pedestrian footpath and bike lane along the very busy Ambetkar Road in South Delhi. This is exactly what is needed for a city (in)famous for its impatient ways. The wide, well-cemented avenues get choked with Delhi's proudly big, arrogantly bigger, and insanely biggest cars, so having footpaths and bike lanes give the less-affluent public a chance to traverse the streets and stay alive safe.

And to point out the madness of New Delhi's roads, I saw a man alight from his bike on Ambetkar Road, approach the biker in front of him, and suddenly punch him massively in the face.

Delhi's roads also needs a separate lane for street boxing.

11 January 2014

Hello, Delhi!

New Delhi

AFTER FOUR years in Mumbai and another four in Kolkata, I have moved to New Delhi for a new role with Biba Apparels. India's most happening city is also the center of Indian governance, Mughlai food, builder-floor apartments, car-park madness, flyovers, imperial buildings, and world-class museums. And did I say that the Bahá'í House of Worship for Asia is minutes away from work?

As Barbra Streisand would have sung, "Well, well, hello, Delhi! Well, hello, Delhi! It's so nice to be in your cold and crazy arms!"

10 January 2014

As 2014 rolls in

Happy New Year!

WELCOME, 2014! The passing year wasn't too friendly: it was fraught with challenges and unexpected difficulties from the workplace and from living in Mumbai. My work contract had ended, and I faced twists and turns that required long trains of thought and quick judgement calls. The year ended with another twist, albeit on a positive note: a new job that I liked, in a new city that would bring me to the heart of the Bahá'í Faith in India.

This year, we'll see a wave of international legislations and regulations that will change the way we live, work, and connect with each other across borders. There will be tons of opportunities to think bigger this year. I look forward to the eternal sources of inspiration in 2014—which, by the way, is not just the Year of the Horse; it's also the International Year of Family Farming, International Year of Crystallography, and International Year of Small Island Developing States. Even with semantics, we never run out of inspiration!

For all of you, may the 365 days ahead be productive and meaningful!