Tag Archives: India

How much is too much? 

I’ve always been accused of tipping ‘too much’. There’s no such thing. People, in especially the service industry, slog a lot. I have got this receipt from when I was in Mumbai in 2008. My total was Rs. 311 & I put down a Rs. 500 note and asked him to keep the change. 

He came back with this note written, and a sweet for me. 


It made my day. I kept the receipt. It makes me happy to read it every once in a while. 

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Modi and the Maggi Noodles


In case you’re wondering what’s going on, it’s been in the news quite a bit, and also it’s been going pretty viral on social media, that Maggi noodles have been banned in India because they tested for high levels of MSG, therefore making them unfit for human consumption.

A nation almost fell apart at this because Maggi Noodles in India are huge! I know this not from the television commercials but from experience. Maggi Noodles are considered nurturing food that mum makes with all her love, it’s for students who want a quick fix to keep the hunger grumps away, it’s for grown ups and kids alike and they’re made to make you feel satisfied. Maggi is huge in India, I tell you, huge!

So when you hear it is being banned a nation goes into mourning and memes come up on social media. Then come the conspiracy theorists who, because they can’t blame their parents, spouse, neighbour or anyone else they feel like blaming, they must blame the government like any responsible citizen will. Or God. God gets blamed for a lot of atrocities as well but in the Maggi Noodle story, people decided to blame Modi for it.

Narendra Modi was most probably minding his own business, enjoying a bowl of Maggi noodles, flipping the pages of his daily favourite newspaper when he’s hit with the news that Maggi will be no more. He is probably just as devastated as the common Indian man but because of his position, someone has to be blamed for it.

I have no idea how he got blamed and I don’t really care. What I find laughable is that Maggi Noodles got banned in India because they are unfit for human consumption yet there are so many eateries on the roadsides of India, with the poorest of poor hygiene conditions, serving up food which have high levels of fecal matter in them and yet no one bats an eyelid at that.

It’s completely beyond my understanding that when one tries to piece this whole thing together to make head or tail out of it, someone somewhere will pounce on you for talking ill of Narendra Modi. I have no idea how people jump to these conclusions. I just discussed the traces of fecal matter found in foods served at roadside eateries and the next thing I know I was being called a ‘presstitute’ – a term used to describe Modi haters, apparently.

There are no clean water facilities at these eateries. People do their potty jobs all over the place. They have nowhere to thoroughly wash their hands, they wipe them on the towel hanging over their shoulder that is used to wipe plates and tables at this eatery, hence a cycle is born of spreading a form of disease. This hasn’t been a matter of urgent issue for people but the banning of Maggi Noodles has.

Prioritise people! Also I don’t really care for noodles or what you think of my opinion of Narendra Modi because I don’t really have one. I just don’t want to die of food poisoning when I’m eating gol-gappas at a roadside eatery just because I ingested the server’s germs. You get me? Good.

What so fair about being fair?

shahrukh_khan fairness cream

If you’re a great big fan of Shah Rukh Khan’s and get worked up if the slightest criticism is sent his way, then I strongly suggest you raise your forefinger to your mouth, wet your finger, turn the page and carry on reading the next page. I’m not a great big fan of SRK’s but I don’t turn my nose up at his work. He has worked very hard to get to the status he is at and you can’t just become the Badshah of Bollywood just sitting around laying eggs or bleating like a goat (which he does because every other mimicry artiste has a field day with him). No doubt SRK has risen from being a stage actor, daytime soap actor to what we call a Bollywood superhero.

With this newfound fame and adulation comes a social responsibility, I strongly feel. So while he is not busy getting into fights at cricket matches, allegedly having an affair with Priyanka Chopra, coming to blows with Salman Khan because he felt his TV game show was more popular, getting the gender of his baby found out amongst many other manenos, SRK has now taken to endorsing fairness creams. That’s right.

Millions of people look up to him. When someone in his power endorses something, it speaks a lot of who he is because of what he endorses. As you know in India, fair skinned people have always seemed to have gotten the upper hand. Why endorse a product that encourages this horrid practice? Isn’t it saying that to be successful like SRK you have to be fair first? Think about the psychological effect such adverts can have on many people who are very impressionable. It’s not ‘just an advert’. You market a product you believe in. And if he’s doing this just for the money… then that too speaks a lot about his character.

He’s not the only Bollywood star to ride on this stupid brigade. John Abraham, Deepika Padukone and Aishwariya Rai Bachchan are a few others who endorse fairness creams. The social message basically going out is that to be beautiful and successful in life, you must be fair. I’m sorry but I do not agree with this. Stars have a social responsibility being such public figures. They need to THINK before they do things like that.

There are so many types of discriminations in this world but this one really gets to me. How can a fair or light skinned person have more of an advantage in life? I’m quite fair skinned. My brother and sister are dusky compared to me. All my childhood and teen years I wished I had the same colouring as them. My sister in law is one of the most dusky beauties ever. She has eyes like a doe and her skin is darker than chocolate milk and she’s so stunning and I’ve always wished I was as beautiful as her. Also did you see that fancy-shmancy magazine last week that decided to airbrush Lupita to enhance her looks? What on earth was THAT all about?

Life is not an Instagram filter. You are beautiful the way you have been made and being light skinned doesn’t make you a better person at all. Stop endorsing and using such products and kill off this industry because as long as it thrives we will never think highly of ourselves. We allow commercials to infiltrate our minds and let us think otherwise about our appearance. Just think of this, if all of us stopped using such products, would this multi-billion entity thrive and succeed? No. In fact we would succeed in life knowing that the colour and tone of our skin doesn’t dictate our level of success in life.

Ditch the fairness creams. They do nothing for you. You are damn gorgeous as you are.

India – The first impressions

Last week I wrote about my encounter with cows on Linking Road in Mumbai and I was asked what my first impression of the country really was as a Kenyan in India for the first time. I’ve often said I have no known relatives in India. For my family and me, India is just another holiday destination to tick off from the places to see on the Bucket List.

I was in my twenties when I went for the first time. The India I knew was only from Bollywood films and the anecdotes my Mum told us from her very recent trips to India when she had gone for pilgrimages. My eyes would widen and my mind would race in delight as I imagined everything she related to us – from the beautiful temples she visited with historical value right down to Roshan Di Kulfi in the narrow alleys of Delhi, the wonderful tales of shopping in little boutiques and stalls and haggling away until one was satisfied that one had landed a bargain.

roshan-di-kulfi-karol-bagh

I went with the determination to see Mumbai, I wanted to go to Agra to see the Taj Mahal and maybe go to Amritsar, my Mum’s ancestral town and Jallandhar too, my Dad’s family town. Along with that, I had dreams of shopping for Indian outfits, lots of bangles, anklets and a big supply of Lakme eyeliner, which I’d seen in Indian film magazines. Of course, the need to catch up with my favourite Bollywood stars was also on the list.

Lakme Kajal

So here’s what actually happened. I landed in Mumbai and someone ran his trolley on the back of my foot and tore off a chunk with the sharp edge and I hobbled to catch a taxi to get to my hotel. I cheered up to know that the designer Anna Singh who only ever dealt with the colour purple had her boutique opposite my hotel. Later, after a rest, I walked over to Chowpatty beach and watched monkeys do tricks and dared eat a samosa and pani puri from the beach stalls. I survived that! I didn’t get to see Amitabh Bachchan but I did pass by his house and that was sort enough for me to go back home and boast about.

chopatty beach

Hyderabad was an experience and a half. I checked into a palace that was converted into a hotel. It sounded grand when the travel agent talked about it but it had rats in the courtyard! I quickly got into a taxi and went to a more upmarket ‘known’ hotel and finally relaxed. I got myself some pretty pearl necklaces and bracelets from the City of Pearls and then headed towards Punjab.

amritsar_temple

Seeing the Golden Temple has been one of my most memorable moments in life – for some reason I just couldn’t stop crying. I loved being there and loved seeing the places within the Temple that had been narrated to me during religion classes, by my Grandma and Mum too.  I didn’t get to go to Jallandhar but I did visit Ludhiana and also the most beautiful city in India, Chandigarh. I fell in love with the place as soon as I was driven through it and was very impressed at how clean and organised it was.

I will be lying that in this fortnight when I first went to India I didn’t fall ill with horrendous food poisoning. It wasn’t even food I might have eaten from roadsides because after eating at the beach I was warned by the hotel people not to do that or I’d fall ill. I have no idea what triggered my food poisoning but I do know that I was at least three kilos lighter by the time I came back.

Honestly speaking, seeing India for the first time was a culture shock for me. I didn’t speak like them even though I spoke my mother tongue Punjabi and a little bit of Hindi. They laughed at my pronunciation and the way I spoke and I kept telling myself ‘We don’t speak like that!’ and wanted to come back home and say ‘sufuria’ and ‘kisu’ as if they’re Punjabi words. True story. We don’t think twice when we speak a mixture of Punjabi and Swahili and everyone at home understands what we are saying.

India is beautiful, no doubt, but there’s no place like home.

First ever trip to India

 

This might end up sounding like one of those school trip reports we used to write back in the day after a field trip to some educational centre but bear with me. I was watching some random Bollywood movie and saw Linking Road in one of these scenes and that brought back a flood of memories for me. Linking Road is in Mumbai, India, and from when I visited it, it was quite the place to be at if you wanted to get some shopping done. This was before the era of huge shopping malls and Jimmy Choo coming up in Mumbai and I was very happy walking in and out of the shops, indulging in retail therapy.

Linking Road

This was my first ever trip to India. I’d never been before and I don’t think that I have any known close relatives living there. The India I knew was from the Bollywood movies I watched and I suppose it was the same for my parents and siblings.  We never packed bags for a two week holiday to India to go visit relatives so that was one part of the world we had written off as a holiday destination at some point, like Disney World.

So, coming back to Linking Road, it was the most memorable part of my trip because of one single incidence that I had there. I’d spent most of the day walking in and out of shops, marveling at my haggling skills (which are nil, by the way) and managed to get royally conned because the shopkeepers could tell I was a foreigner and even the limited Hindi and Punjabi I can speak was nothing like what they spoke in India. I apparently spoke like a ‘foreigner’.

India taxi

I was sitting in a cab to go back to the hotel after a long day of retail therapy and hopped into one of those yellow and black cabs that I’d loved seeing in the movies. No air conditioning and no ‘hi-funda’ stereo system in the car but I loved every second of piling my shopping bags next to me and giving the address to the taxi driver like they do in the movies. I think I saw him shake his head but we moved on nevertheless. After a few minutes we came to a standstill and I asked the driver what was going on and he mumbled something that I didn’t quite understand because he had a mouthful of betel nut leaves. Instead of asking him to repeat himself (I was quite intimidated by his large body in the khaki uniform and red stained mouth) I looked out of the window and to my delight I realized that the traffic was being caused by cows that were crossing the road! Cows are considered very sacred in India so when they cross the roads, they’re given the right of way. I was really taken with this and kept trying to look in front and didn’t notice that some cows had wandered to my side of the taxi and because my window was down I guess I literally invited a cow to stick it’s head into the car. I screamed my head off in fright, the cow got frightened, the taxi driver muttered something and put his hands together to bow down to the cow and I tried to muffle my screaming.  Eventually the cow wandered back to where the rest of the herd was and traffic started moving eventually but I was left quite shaken and was worried the taxi driver might ask me to get out so I concentrated on trying to roll the window back up to avoid further incidences.

Cows in Mumbai

After that trip, I think I visited India after almost 13 years with my friends Sam and Devna and at no point did I leave the car windows down. Just in case.

Catching up with Vishal Dadlani – Musician Extraordinaire

VishalD

Who doesn’t know Vishal Dadlani? Vishal is part of a duo with Shekhar Ravjiani and is responsible for many successful soundtracks in Hindi, Telugu and Marathi films.

Pentagram is a four-piece Indian rock/electronica band started in 1994 in Mumbai, India. Regarded as one of the pioneers of original Indian independent music, the band has received major recognition.

Pentagram is fronted by Vishal, with Randolph Correia on guitars, Papal Mane on bass and Shiraz Bhattacharya on drums. All of whom have recently been actively involved in the Bollywood music business.

pentagram vishal
Photo Courtesy Shiv Ahuja© (www.shivahuja.com) @ShivAhuja

Making his mark in the music industry in Bollywood and beyond, this man has achieved a status that many dream of having. His humility is something that just cannot be faked, a thoroughly genuine person with a no-nonsense approach to life. I managed to catch up with Vishal for this exclusive one on one and I must say I am more convinced than ever that such honesty and wit cannot be faked.

***************************************************************

If you weren’t Vishal Dadlani who would you be?
Dunno. I’d have loved to have been someone like Stephen Hawking, or, perhaps, Lennon. It’d still suck, not to be me, though.

Were you headed towards being a singer or a music producer? You do both with such ease and success.
I wasn’t headed towards either. They came to me, and I’m grateful they did. I didn’t know I’d have anything to do with music until I was about 19!

How do you deal with fans who clamour all over you, especially when you’re having a bad day and really don’t feel like any human interaction?
I try and be nice. It shocks most people, cuz most people are afraid of me, for some unfathomable reason.

If you weren’t in the music industry, what would you be doing?
Not the first clue, but I’d be good at it, and I’d be self-made. These two are certain.

Vishal Shekhar

You work very closely with Shekhar. Your chemistry with him is very apparent in the music both of you create, your live performances and even recently, as we saw on Indian Idol Junior, both of you seem to get on really well. Has there ever been a time you’ve wanted to leave chalk marks around each others’ bodies?
I’m sure Shekhar feels that way, more than I do. To quote a Pentagram song “I’m only made of Human Failings”.
We do get along really well, though. I think it’s because we’re respectful of each others’ talent, and also because we’re both utter and absolute goofs.

It’s impossible if you say the pair of you have never argued professionally. How do you guys make up?
We talk, we grab some coffee, or we write a song or do a show. That usually sorts it!

He scrubs up well!
He scrubs up well!

You’re always so well kitted. From the posh suits you wore as an Indian Idol Junior judge to the rather funky tees you always seem to wear, who dresses you?
The suits were by a designer that the show hired for me! Given a choice, I wouldn’t go near ’em!
The t-shirts are just part of who I am, and almost always have been.

Can you cook? Like REAL cooking and not the bbq and boys night out cook out thing.
I burn a mean slice of toast.

What has been the biggest extravagance in terms of spending your hard earned cash?
Nothing major, really. Possibly my car, but it’s nothing too fancy or expensive.

You’re so popular and going by your Twitter account, you’re adored by many. What drives you to be Vishal Dadlani?
I don’t really have the option to be anyone else, do I? Besides, I’ve learnt to really sit back and revel in being me. I wasn’t quite convinced, for a long time, but somewhere along the way, I learnt to love myself for everything I am. Bumps and bruises, included.

You’re actually one of the few celebrities I know who isn’t stuck up or has his head up his back side so far that the lips get mistaken for an extra kidney. You also make a point, whenever you can, to reply back to fans. Why do you think these so-called celebrities behave the way they do? Is it beneath them to be nice to the people who adore them and actually afford them their star status?
The thing is, I’m no celebrity. I’m a musician. I don’t make music to be famous, or to make the papers. I make music because I have no choice. The rest of it, is superficial.
Celebrity comes with a certain head-up-ones-own-ass-ness, but sadly, I’m not particularly flexible in that way.
Why other people do what they do, is their problem. I’ve never given it a thought.

What’s your opinion on Man-Bags? Do you carry one? What’s in it?
I’m ok with em. I own one, carry it when I travel. Headphones, phone chargers, passport, keys, that sorta thing.

On a scale of 1-10 (10 being highest) how scared are you of dogs growling and foaming at the mouth with fangs for teeth?
I’ve come across a few, and it’s a little scary, but nothing I haven’t overcome. So I’ll give it a 2.

Tell me of 5 things you will not leave the house without.
Shoes. Clothes. House-keys (although I have been locked out, several times).
And two phones. There. That’s 5.

Quickfire Round

 Samose or Pakore
Samose

 Rain or sunshine
Rain

Ferrari or Lamborghini
Lambo

Live concert or playback singing
Writing with Pentagram.

Twitter or Facebook
Yes.

Coffee or tea
Coffee

Gym or jogging
Gym. I’ve got bad knees from years of jogging, as a kid.

 iPhone or BlackBerry
Whichever battery hasn’t died on me!

 

Top 10 reasons why i absolutely loved Shuddh Desi Romance

Brilliant… absolutely brilliant. Definitely going to watch it now!

F.i.g.h.t C.l.u.b

shuddh-desi-romance copy2

Since we have become a generation of Buzzfeed and because “listicles” are still not dead, am going to pick the easy route. Here are the top 10 reasons why i loved Shuddh Desi Romance and why you shouldn’t miss it.

1. Jaideep Sahni – I was wondering if he will deliver or not. This is a virgin territory for him – a full throttle romantic film. And more suspicious because he was talking like my another favourite screenwriter, Charlie Kaufman. Love versus love portrayed in films, expectations versus reality and all that jazz. Well, he not only delivers but pushes the envelope and sends it out of the park. Terrific lines all over, all that which seems so natural that it’s difficult to believe someone actually wrote it. And especially at a time when everyone is taking this dialogue route, at least in mainstream hindi cinema space.

2…

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Let’s Save Eric… Please

Eric

We always talk about how wonderful our lives our, what our kids get up to, the new cars we buy, the festivals we celebrate and post just wonderful pictures on Facebook to share with our friends.
Eric might not be able to do any of that. Eric has Burkitt’s Lymphoma- a dreadfully aggressive but curable form of cancer. He is currently in India undergoing treatment but the hospital is threatening to withdraw treatment because his funds are completely depleted. it is getting desperate for Eric because any slight destabilization or interruption is potentially fatal.
This is where you come in.
Go to http://keemokidz.co.ke/ and find out how you can donate.
Please. I beg you. Let’s save Eric.

IIFA Awards excitement on East FM, Kenya’s Premier Asian Mix

The IIFA Awards special on East FM, Radio Africa Group & The Star
The IIFA Awards special on East FM, Radio Africa Group & The Star

If you’ve been listening to East FM, you’d know by now that our team from Radio Africa will be on their way to cover the IIFA awards event live, with a lucky listener who will win this opportunity of a lifetime. Brought to you by Sunrice and supported by Ruh Travels, the team will leave for Macau and we will be bringing you live coverage as events and awards unfold. Watch out for a colourful spread this week and next week as well in The Star with exclusive pictures from the event. The focus on the event this year is celebrating 100 years of Bollywood and will be showcased in the entire event with what promise to be mind-blowing performances.

Conceptualized and produced by Wizcraft International Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. and supported by the key members of the Indian film fraternity, IIFA is the most appreciated South Asian film academy. Also, the IIFA Awards is India’s biggest media event. With a viewership of almost 600 million, it is among the world’s most-watched annual entertainment events. From a one night celebration in 2000 at the Millennium Dome, London, the last thirteen years have seen the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) movement grow into a cine-packed weekend of film-festivals, workshops, exhibitions, film-showcases, global business forums and sporting events, all of which climax into the highlight of the Weekend, the IIFA Awards.