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28 September 2018

FOCAL POINT : Barbra Streisand, "Don't Lie To Me"

FIFTY-SIX YEARS after she recorded her first album, Barbra Streisand releases a single (the first from her upcoming album Walls) that continues to place her squarely in the front and center of contemporary pop music affairs. "Don't Lie To Me" is a thumping pop anthem with catchy hooks that could have been written by Adele, Lady Gaga, or Mick Hucknall. The vocal and instrumental arrangements sound so modern, one is left to wonder why Ms. Streisand’s last two albums, despite a slew of pop-music collaborators, didn't leverage on her uncanny ability to still sing on the beat.

Ms. Streisand wrote "Don't Lie To Me" as a plea to the current presidency, but the song can also be interpreted as a paean to a mistrusted romance. It contains several references to her rich canon of recording work. On my eleventh consecutive listening, I sensed melodic traces of three songs from her radio-friendly era: "Widescreen" (1975), "Make It Like A Memory" (1980), and "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" (1979). I imagined a violin and cello borrowed from 1985’s The Broadway Album. There’s throwback to her 1960s patter-song days with those quick phrases in the middle of the song. James Newton Howard, The Prince of Tides (1991) composer, would have enjoyed its use of minor chords, and Barry Gibb, Guilty (1980) partner, would have related to its catchy refrain. And was the chorus channelling Cydie King and Veneeta Fields from Ms. Streisand’s backup vocal band in the early 1970s?

The last time Ms. Streisand sounded this contemporary was in 2005, with Barry Gibb on Guilty Pleasures. I never imagined that she would return to singing pop on the beat, especially at 76 years old. Listen to the new recording and you'll realize why Barbra Streisand remains the supreme vocal interpreter of popular song, possibly the only one left in our generation.

23 September 2018

The story of Biba, or how it all began

THIS IS the story of Biba, encapsulating 30 years of excellence in product and service. I created this video to help commemorate the company's vision ahead, with the idea of linking past, present, and future. It also celebrates the men and women who have helped build Biba as the most admired ladies' ethnicwear brand in India. The video debuted at the company's annual get-together in June 2018. It is now being used as part of corporate orientation sessions for new employees.

Leaving Biba

I HAVE left Biba after four years and nine months, the longest time I’ve ever spent in a company in India.

I wasn’t planning to stay long in Delhi and with Biba. On my first year, I struggled with the city, an unforgiving place to those who couldn't adjust to its weather extremes, pollution woes, and unfriendly neighborhoods. However, at the end of that first year, I had stopped crying over its chaos and started loving its great, uncompromising ways. The Baha'i House of Worship became my beacon. The winters were fabulous. And I got an extended family through Shradha Singh, hardcore Delhi-ite, ex-colleague, and fellow Baha'i. Big treasures.

I also found that I enjoyed working in Biba. I had a decent salary, created many experiments in displaying the products, and collaborated with colleagues who had worked there for over five years. These were people who could easily leave, but never did because they believed in what we were all doing there. Passion and commitment were strong values in Biba, and they were infectious.

In the years I spent there, my skills were incubated indirectly by colleagues who were younger than me. While I learned cool ideas about customer engagement, I also unlearned many things that guided me in my younger years as a visual merchandiser. I let go of old ideas. I assimilated new ones. I matured. It was a gratifying time to be there.

And now is the time to leave. I resigned from Biba so that I can do things that I’ve never done and start doing things that I have been wanting—but delaying—to do.

I want to help other companies change the way shoppers experience their products and services. I want to create a visual merchandising program for an industry that has never been exposed to VM, at least exponentially, at least in India.

I want to be more involved in the Baha’i community. I want to make a bigger difference in the collective work that we do. I want to go back to truly practicing the moral values that the Baha’i Faith has taught me.

I want to make a larger bit of money so that I can finally save up for the retail design institute that I’ve always been wanting to create. I want to teach—not just train, but teach.

The next part of my career will be exciting. I was sad to leave Biba, but I’m thrilled to be moving on.

13 September 2018

FOCAL POINT : Barbra Streisand, "The Way She Wore"

BARBRA STREISAND's larger-than-life entertainment persona has always been defined by the way she wore her costumes, hairstyle, and makeup on screen. I've always been impressed with the production values of her film and television projects, and I'm even more fascinated with the manner that she keeps her identity intact even through the various clothes that she wears on screen.

On this video are Ms. Streisand's most memorable looks on television and film in the past 50-plus years. It's my tribute to her legacy on costume design.

03 September 2018

EPITAPH : Nina Lampe-Fiorentino (1923-2018)

"COMO FUERTE brisa, eres tu, eres tu, asi, asi, eres tu (Like a strong breeze, that's how you are to me)", I sang to my aunt, Nina Lampe-Fiorentino (1923-2018), over her kitchen table a few years ago. As the first-born of many cousins, she incessantly showered care and grace on her family during her long life. That heart of gold was matched with a beauty of diamond, a spirit of steel, and a mind of titanium. She was a breathtaking presence. Singing to her that night was my moment of thanking and loving her for all that she'd given.

"Eres tu el fuego de mi hogar (You're the warmth on my home)". Hasta la vista, Tita Neny.

01 September 2018

Back on track

AFTER TAKING a two-year break from active blogging, I'm back. The last 30 months have been so incredibly challenging and intense on the work front that I had to give my creative writing, among a few other pursuits, a temporary hiatus. All that is changing, as I'm embarking on a new career direction that will help me manage a more workable balance of home and office. As I write this post, I realized how sorely I've missed the hours of typing on the keyboard with the fragrant waft of coffee next to me as my thoughts flow, the search for that perfect image or video that catapults those thoughts, and the bit of cleaning up on the HTML as I deliver that final post. It's thrilling to be actively back on Window Views!