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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.