Keep the Car Running

Every time I’m planning a visit to India my mother calls up expressing serious concerns, as if she would give a damn about my personal welll-being. But the reputation of the family comes first of course, how could she possibly explain her society an eventual rape? These are the kinds of things that fill her mind; she panics and mental paralysis sets in. This is how I try to discern her brain’s process and excuse the fact that her concerns offend me in every possible way.

Yeah, women are not exactly safe from public harassment in India. But truth be told, nor are we in America or Europe. It’s true that if you are a woman, drinking and dancing in Mumbai is risky business; I had to be extremely watchful during my nocturnal escapades. Everyone from the waiter to the white-collar guy at the next table thinks a woman out for a drink is up for grabs. But you know what? It didn’t stop me. I love getting a drink, and I went back to that same damn bar for weeks. It was awkward at the beginning, but it worked out. Unmolested I managed there to read mails, send millions wapps to friends and family, write my daily diary-entry and sometimes even draw, which to me is the ultimate prove I was feeling alright and this happened certainly not due to excessive alcohol consumption, but due to the kind atmosphere. In the wee hours I usually walked alone down the Colaba streets back to my tiny, modest, and comfy home. No incident to regret, ever. Lucky me.

In my country any woman who’s ever tried to have a fun, unfettered night out with girlfriends knows that men drinking in bars often feel free to make lewd remarks and otherwise sexually harass women who aren’t interested. And many of these guys can’t take a hint when women try to move away from them, they just don’t take no for an answer. It happened to us yesterday, good thing was that bar staff were largely helpful; bouncers intervened and tossed out the dum-dum boys of the bar. We were grateful and glad to acknowledge that things are getting better in our country; bar owners are proactively working on keeping us safe.

Bad thing was that I could recognise one of the guys; he often seems to chose by mere chance the same places I visit, even the most unlikely. Scary. This is no joke, believe me. Sensing that my whereabouts are somebody else’s business freaks me out; so much that I’ve been seriously considering leaving the country, moving to India maybe. I pray hard to the heavens that this shit would only stop or proves to be temporary or non existent; my bad, a wrong perception. In overdrive mode…. just in case.

 

The Wrong Person

san-valentin-2017-01Yeah, I am the wrong person. Who the hell am I to give advice in this particular field?

For reasons unknown the idea of Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf falling for each other came to my mind while designing this year’s Valentine’s card. Since I’ve been working hard on more serious projects, I just wanted to rest, giggle a bit, and have some fun coming up with something fresh, naïve, uncommon. It felt like holding hands with the enemy or meeting someone totally different, from outer space and out of the blue. Free translated the text reads in English:

Happy Valentine’s Day. Forget about Prince Charming; go find yourself a Big Bad Wolf who sees you, and hears you, and eats you better. 

The Kiss

1b1fecdbcec7e917424b96a0bf06770bOriginally tagged The Lovers, this renown piece is part of Klimt’s golden period. It shows a couple sharing joy, symbolically dissolving in an embrace. They stand against a rich decorated background flecked with gold leaf, which is not incidental; Klimt’s father was a gold engraver by trade. Gustav also learned mosaic techniques, fresco and oil painting through him. The unique treatment of gold though resembles Byzantine mosaics; Klimt was very much influenced by the paintings he saw in Ravenna, I assume pre-raphaelitian ones. This influence is especially patent in the carpet of flowers.

“Enough of censorship……I want to break free”

Klimt’s explorations of human relationships in his work were considered very modern at the time. He believed that no institution or person had the right of censorship over his work, which is a synthesis of both the decorative and sumptuous Art Nouveau (Secessionism) and Symbolism; great combo.

Personally, I find his work not as interesting as the one of Egon Schiele, but still enormoulsy stimulating because among many other things Klimt beautifully used hidden keys within his paintings. Just look at the hands and to what’s not painted, but suggested -the abysm behind the woman suggesting danger- More explicit are the geometric forms, which have been always used in Art to represent genders. Circles stand for the eternal, the instinctive, thus the feminine, while rationality is associated with squares and rectangles, the virile. Look at his neck, how it reaches out and around, and you get a sense of his physical power through the strength of that bold rectangle; how such a simple iconographic hint fully expresses here the overwhelming intensity of his desire. Not bad for a man who never married and lived with his mother until her death.

Well, this goes to all of you who celebrate the entrance of the new year according to the Chinese Solar Calendar. May the Universe bring blessed days and nights of love, wine and roses.

hé jiā huān lè 阖家欢乐

gōng xǐ fā cái, xīn nián kuài lè 

      新 恭 年 喜 快 發 樂 財

M&M – Muslims and Mexicans

A once welcoming nation turning its back on one of the core foundations of its greatness. Honestly, there are moments I just can’t bear it. Being the daughter and grand-daughter of worthy immigrants who fled from the Nazi horror in France I am truly saddened and concerned. The US saved our lives and have been my home for a number of reasons. I just can’t believe what’s happening now.

sad-lady-libertyThese words are set in bronze on the Statue of Liberty, perhaps the most iconic US-image there is: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

Style ….or the lack of it

Some of my readers know that among other design related jobs I’ve tried my luck as fashion designer, so far with quite gratifying results. I have a keen eye for how and what people choose to wear because beyond textiles, patterns, textures and colours, this is the most valuable material I work with. I design stuff people would love to put on and gladly put out when well accompanied.

Clothing is the expression of the intimate self; it’s a language that tells a whole story and this narrative changes with every choice we make. But not all garments are fashion, for them to be considered as such the individual that design and/or wear them must have style, and such a trait is of utter peculiar nature and certainly not a given thing. Either you’re born with it or you work really hard during many years to educate your taste, developing and polishing it.

Regardless of where the style sense may come from, one thing is sure: when our reason for dressing becomes less about that curating process of carefully editing and selecting the best possible look for the day and more about feeling validated, then true style is null and void.

A few days ago I couldn’t help but feel sorry, second-hand embarrassed for Mr Trump’s current wife. So much money, so many resources available and there was not one person who had faced the tiger and dared to say that the impact of an attire depends on the canvas, on how one’s unique personality highlights from a given background in an effortless, unforgettable and appropriate manner. Environment over formulae people.

Nothing against the flawless Ralph Laurent’s two-pieces cashmere ensemble Melania wore for the US presidential inauguration ceremony, but it was totally out of place. This was Washington DC for heaven’s sake not a noble wedding in Newbury. Her outfit made evident how narcissistic and blindsided this new regime can be. It so reminded me Hans Christian Andersen’s tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.

Mrs Trump’s stylists should’ve known better, they should’ve counted on Michelle’s beautiful open arms. It was a no brainer guys, that guess wouldn’t have been so far fetched, would it? But the new US administration wanted to convey a precise message in powder blue leather gloves. Jackie Kennedy? C’mon, really? JK was not a lingerie model, she was a natural, an icon with brains that not only oozed style but redefined the concept.

The whole mise en place can only be described as an unfortunate mixture of faux pas, as genuine and legitimate as the jewels in the crown of the new emperor.

She dressed up 60s; Mad Man behaving 50s.trump-casa-blanca-kzxd-620x349abc

The Camel, the King of Rajasthan

16111155_1218544484889908_542674728_nRajasthan is known for its mix of cultures, temples, forts, palaces, food and folk traditions, but personally, it has always fascinated me because of the quality of sun and the colours. There are always new and exciting nuances waiting to be discovered at every corner; a journey through this northern region of India is a vivid psychedelic treat for the senses. Rajasthan is a microcosm of all things that define my beloved India.

There are two things one cannot overpass in Rajasthan and around the sandy Thar Desert: moustaches and camels. One day I will tell you the story of clueless me in the middle of the night dealing alone with a dead car, and a crazy driver on a dusty road somewhere between Jaipur and Delhi and how I was saved by two camels and three most kind and hairy men wearing what it seemed to be a jungle in their faces. Facial hair is considered a symbol of virility and Rajput pride, the moustache especially.

16111710_1218547298222960_605136019_nCamels in India are actually single-humped dromedaries. It’s not easy to ride them, let alone get along with them. I wonder how on earth Bikaners manage to control such phlegmatic and obstinate animals and put them to dance, because that’s exactly what happens every January in the small village of Ladera, which becomes the venue of the two-day and night Bikaner Camel Festival. The smelly dromedaries dance swaying their necks and tapping their feet to the beat of traditional Rajasthani music, which I tell you, as mesmerizing and simple as it may sound, it is extremely complicated.

16111751_1218547771556246_1733059148_nCamels and owners alike dressed in their finest designer jewellery and accessories, kick-off the celebrations with a regal march. This is a spectacular sight as the camels parade past spectators to the open sands with the Royal Junagarh Fort in the background. Colourful bridles, bejewelled necks, jingling anklets and long, lanky camel shadows on the dusky sand casts a magical atmosphere over the city. The festival also holds numerous sports and cultural activities, but the camel race is maybe the essence of it. Hundreds of camels are corralled to the starting line, and with an explosive gunshot launches a growing swell of dust that follows the camels to the finish line. The camel milking competition is another very popular game among the locals. For foreigners like me, who abhor milk of all sorts, this is pure nightmare. In the evening though, the jubilant skirt swirling and awe-inspiring fire gypsy dances and folk songs fully compensate for the daylight milky horror.

However, the formerly known Princely State of Bikaner has a lot to offer besides camels. It also has impressive architecture treasures, e.g. the Lalgarh Palace, which was built by Maharaja Ganga Singh. The Palace is an example of hybrid architecture combining Mughal, Rajput and European styles. The exterior of the Palace is very Rajput style, while the interiors of the Palace are distinctly oriental. One can also see the Usta art here in which miniature paintings and gold embossing is done on camel hide.

I am now sharing with you some pics my Rajasthani friends sent me last weekend. I wish I could’ve been there with you folks, but this time my travel plans had to be postponed up until May 2017. Enjoy!!!!

Salut tout le monde!!!

incienso

Yes, I know my Hindi is still horrible and hasn’t improved. How would it have been different, if I keep on missing classes? awful me. But here it is, a simple, but sincere salutation for you, my dear friends in India. I love you all.

नववर्ष 2017 की हार्दिक शुभकामनाये… ll

ईश्वर से यही कामना है कि आने वाला प्रत्येक नया दिन आपके जीवन में अनेकानेक सफलताएँ एवं अपार खुशियाँ लेकर आए ll

इस अवसर पर ईश्वर से यही प्रार्थना है कि वह वैभव, ऐश्वर्य, उन्नति, प्रगति, आदर्श, स्वास्थ्य, प्रसिद्धि और समृद्धि के साथ साथ आजीवन आपको जीवन पथ पर गतिमान रखे ll

2017

The New Year is a powerful time in our lives, a moment of reflection and renewal. But I’ve noticed that regrets often stir within this span between what we think of as the old and the new. We may get more aware of our stubborn habits and shortcomings, our losses and the never-ending ache of unfulfillment. Yet, this recognition is a rare blessing, and one to be used.

Recognition is all we need to make a change. It only takes a moment to transform our lives. A moment of undefiled, nonjudgmental awareness and everything everywhere is new again. And so I seize the occasion to wish you all TIME. I wish you less of what you can live without and more of what you’ve always wanted.

Less anger. Less greed, and more open-mindedness. Less judgment, doubt and cynicism, and less of the pain and confusion they create. Less hurry. More of the compassionate LOVE that can only arise in the absence of fear.

Only you can make it so, but I will wish it just the same, YOUR BEST NEW YEAR.