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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.