The watched/read it list

Talk about starting with a difficult one!

I can’t possibly list all my must-watch movies and must-read books. Which self respecting movie buff/reading nerd can possibly do such a thing? It’s like asking a girl to choose her favourite lipstick. Ok scratch that- its like asking me to pick my favourite lipstick. Ok, now I’m breaking out in hives.

I think the key to answering this question is pretending you’re on a quiz show…where you must answer off the top of your head. So the top of my head is telling me to say this…

My top five must-watch no matter how you do it movies of all time *gulp*

1. Dirty Dancing
This movie has my all time favourite soundtrack; it is 2013 and I can still listen to it on repeat, that my friends, is timeless. And who can knock Patrick Swayze shimmying those hips in that inimitable way! A fantastic coming of age story, the movie was as much about social change in the 60s as it was about a simple, oft-repeated love story.

2. The Pursuit of Happyness
The ultimate rags to riches story. This movie never fails to inspire. Chris Gardiner’s story of a father who works against all odds to provide a better life for his son, is not just Will Smith’s best work till date but a story with a personal significance for me. Chris’ character always reminds me of my father, the ultimate dad who never let’s disappointment stop him in his quest to achieve a better life for his family. It makes me cry every single time, and the fact that it is a true story just makes it the ultimate feel-good film.

3. Monsoon Wedding
You have to have an Indian family to really appreciate a big fat Indian wedding, but Monsoon Wedding is one of those films that captures the essence of a shaadi like no Bollywood film ever has. The big, loud crazy family, with the colour, laughter, and of course deep, dark secrets makes this film an absolute must-watch. As realistic as they come, yet filled with all the bonhomie, dramatics and an adorable love story to perfectly capture the essence of India in the monsoons set against the backdrop of the best kind of wedding- the Indian kind.

4. Aladdin
This has to be my favourite Disney film ever. Set in Arabia, Aladdin brought Disney fairy tales somewhere very close to home. Aladdin has to be the most charismatic Disney beau and Princess Jasmine has done for brunette, doe-eyed beauties what Marilyn did for blondes. Robin Williams as the Genie, and of course Abu the monkey, make this a timeless classic I can never cease to enjoy watching.

5. Devil’s Advocate
This is a fairly new addition to my list since I only saw this movie a few years ago. An amazing Milton inspired tale of the age old battle against the Devil set against a backdrop of Manhattan’s criminal law scene. Aside from a stunningly fragile Charlize and the perfect lawyer Keanu, the films obvious stand out is Pacino playing the Devil himself with his zingy, double entendre and raw magnetism. I love the way it has captured New York and managed to bring the classic Paradise Lost into a Hollywood blockbuster. A must-watch for sure.

There. I did it. Like ripping off a band aid. Now for the books.

My top five die only after you read them books of all time. *double gulp*

1. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
I re-visit this book time and time again and never get tired of re-reading the story of Gogol. I have never read a book that was so easy to read, easy to relate to all whilst being some of the most beautiful, simplistic prose ever written by an Indian Diaspora writer. Lahiri captures the first and second generation immigrant’s identity so perfectly, and while the book is more than a little melancholy in places, it always lights up my soul just stepping into the beautifully crafted and painstakingly described world of the Ganguli’s.

2. The Godfather by Mario Puzo
Oddly enough, one lazy summer on our Annual month long vacation in India, my mother introduced me, a 14 year old, to the crazy world of The Godfather. The movie happened to come on television and my mum and I watched it, her talking me through every single scene and detailing at every minute how brilliant the film was, but how I must read the book. She gave me the back story to every single character that the film skirts over but the book details in intimate brilliance and like her, I was hooked. I bought the book the next day and read it feverishly in four hours, devouring every brilliant word. Coppolla bought Puzo’s story of the Italian underworld to the masses, and one sleepy afternoon in India, my mother bought it into my life. An absolute must-read for the characters that have now been immortalised in that movie. A true fan can only every appreciate the movie once they have read this amazing book.

3. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
One of my childhood favourites. I love that this book was written in the early 1900s, yet the lessons and character resonate so strongly even today in 2013. I simply love the sisterhood and the way each sister is etched out, and their simple journeys through life with all the mirth and mischief in between. One of my favourite classics.

4. The Shining by Stephen King
I never thought it could be possible to be absolutely shit-scared by a book. The horror echoes through every single, gripping page. The movie is a mere shadow in comparison to the way the tension builds and the madness erupts through King’s evocative imagery. I’ve read this about a dozen times and I need to sleep with the light on at every hotel room I go to ever since.

5. The Harry Potter Series by J.K Rowling
Words cannot sum up what a big fan I am. I can re-read these a million times and always get lost in the symbolism, the beautiful parallel world and the simple but enchanting prose every single time. Frankly, I think this is as much a ‘children’s’ book as 50 Shades of Grey is literature. If you haven’t bitten the bullet yet…do it. NOW!

There you have it, the top of my head’s must-watch/must-read list.

“I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself” – Oscar Wilde

May a bag of popcorn, a comfy sofa and great lighting always be at your behest,

If I had six minutes to live…I’d write a little faster.

Things every woman should write down

So here we are again.

A fork in the road when we determine whether our relationship will go on as many before; to start of spontaneously with an exciting flurry of activity, only to die down by virtue of complacency and fail spectacularly into disrepair along the road. 

I’m not entirely convinced blogging suits my erratic, writer’s block-ridden soul…especially not blogging regularly. I start off with the best intentions, life catches up, then I fall into a guilt/shame/avoidance spiral which makes it hard to look this lonely little blog in the face to remind it that I do really love it, and I’m sorry I haven’t been showing it lately.

Nonetheless, a new year has brought with it a great many new beginnings and a few great endings. So in the spirit of all things fresh out of their plastic wrapping, I hereby declare I am going to give this blog some fresh words to keep it pumping. For a few weeks at least until spiral above re-invents itself.

I think the trick is in the title. If I had six minutes left to live…what would I write about? So get comfy dear blog and haunting blogreaders, I have a been inspired by this wonderful being who chanced upon an article on Oprah.com on ’15 Things Every Woman Should Write Down’. According to my blogger friend

The article encourages women to write down a list of fifteen things that are meant to make us think and feel in the moment and be there for us to go back and read. To help us feel better or enlightened.

Along with her, I’ll be doing a fifteen day exercise writing down things every woman should write down. Here is the list:

  1. The watched/read it list
  2. Grandma’s words of wisdom
  3. Your true happiness
  4. The mistake you never want to make
  5. Your best friend’s recipe
  6. Your favourite failure
  7. The most unexpected compliment you ever got
  8. A personal syllabus
  9. A deep dark secret
  10. What Younger You would like about Present You
  11. That one quote
  12. The hardest thing to forgive
  13. The best surprise you’ve ever had
  14. An amendment to the bucket list
  15. Last night’s dream

Feel free to join in the fun, after all, as it was once so aptly said:

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway

May the sight of new words, an email alert promising an hour of relaxing reading and the optimistic creativity of a new beginning always be with you,

If I had six minutes to live…I’d write a little faster

It’s a Grace Van Cutsem sort of day…

Image

Grace Van Cutsem, the tiny frowning bridesmaid at The ol’ shindig Kate and Wills had back in April 2011.

She is one of my biggest heroes  and the archetypal poster girl for days when really, you just want to have a whine and a moan and really C.B.A to be nice.

As today is officially Grace Van Cutsem day, I present, my top five list of annoyances:

  1. The smell of fake tan- On a crowded train, at bitchy o’clock in the morning, there is nothing more gag-inducing than the wonderful smell of fake tan. A truly grotesque combination of smelly socks, month-old biscuits and rusty copper, why anybody would ever subject themselves and others to this wonderful scent is beyond me. People spend millions on this stuff, just look around at the pasty/orange faces around you. Why oh why have the cosmetic companies not found a way to make this vile stuff smell like blueberries yet?
  2. People who live their dramas through Facebook/Twitter- Social Media is a precarious platform that seems to invite the most self-indulgent members of society to air their dirty linens in public while hunched behind a computer screen in a dark room. It buggers my mind beyond belief when I log on and read statuses like “OMG Can’t believe some people in the world…whatevs im over it, lets go out and party girls” or tweets like “People are so hurtful sometimes wow today has been eye opening”. If I poked my eyeballs out with a fork (as I am often inclined to do) upon reading this garbage, I would be on my seventy fifth set of fake eyes by now. Firstly, buddy, the thinly veiled attempts at being “subtle” are not fooling anyone, we all know your scumbag boyfriend was a scumbag once again or that your love/hate relationship with your sister is more hate than love; who are you kidding, really? Also, and more importantly, WHO in the name of all that is noble and not full of shit GIVES a Fudge.Under.Cool.Knife? Keep your drama to yourself and post happy Instagram’d pictures of your cute puppy instead.
  3. Cheapskates- Right, this is probably my biggest gripe ever and a guaranteed sure-fire way to earn my utter disdain. I am by no means Miss Moneybags, and never have been, but miserly cheapskates turn me into a right mardy bum. I can’t stand people who drive Italian Supercars, wear snazzy custom-made suits and yet cough and guffaw when they have to fork out a fiver to contribute to the Office Cake Fund and yet scoff down the Krispy Kremes like the best of us. I know we’re in a recession, people should all be watching their pennies, but really, I hate people who are cheap. There I said it.
  4. Little bits of crap in between my keyboard- It is gross enough I have about four weeks of desk-chained lunch crumbs hiding and practically cackling with evil bacteria-filled laughter, what’s worse is no amount of scraping, squishing, squeezing, poking dislodges any of the tenacious buggers. Answers on a postcard on how to have a clean (and hygienic) workspace please, I’m convinced my keyboard is breaking me out in hives.
  5. Geographically superior Nonces- You know, I get it really. Dubai vs. Abu Dhabi, London vs. Up Norff, NYC vs. LA, Mumbai vs. Delhi, Yorkshire vs. Lancashire, , Jo’burg vs. Cape Town…geographical rivalries have existed since time immemorial. As a citizen of the world, and a proud resident of more places than fit on a small piece of paper, it truly disturbs me when people get all  superior  about where they live. I understand pride and joy in your home town or where you live, but I don’t get this new wave idea that to justify you live in the greatest city/country/town/village on Planet E, it must mean everywhere else is a shit hole. This jaunty put-others-down attitude pisses me right off.

The above list is by no means exhaustive, but really the main things that are making me want to go renegade, Grace Van Cutsem style and just cover my chubby hands over my little ears and put on a proper moany face.

A quote that pretty much sums up life:

“Some people deserve a high five…in the face…with a chair.”- Anonymous

May stamping feet, smoke out of ears and wrinkly frowns always be with you,

If I had six minutes to live, I’d write a little faster xxx

Men are from Mars

I always think of myself as a very feminine person. I had an older sister and generally have always only ever had close girlfriends. I tend to empathise and associate best with females. I have never been one of those girls who gets on better with men, or who has had lots of guy-friends. To be honest, most of the time I believe men are an entirely foreign and somewhat bewildering species far removed from everything I know to be true.

Compound this with the fact that I haven’t had many close male relationships other than one with my father who, as anyone who knows him can say with authority, is a man very much in touch with his feminine side. As a household it was a calm, girly, estrogen-heavy environment. Nobody really played (or watched) sport and shopping wasn’t seen as a chore. My dad, who basically had to sink or swim with two girls and a strong-willed wife, probably knows more about curtains than cricket.

So when I met The Boy, I was as caught up in the rush of romance as I was intrigued to finally become best friends with a real, proper boy. We’ve been together four years and while The Boy is far from a dry-wall breaking beer slugging boorish alpha male type, he is the closest I have ever been to a member of the alien species.

The Boy rocks my world on a daily basis; everyone who knows us knows we are a somewhat annoyingly happy couple. I have so enjoyed getting to know my first male best friend, but often there have been moments that have ranged from gentle bemusement, the kind that leaves you with a gentle self-smile to utmost hair-splitting tear-inducing jaw-clenching frustration. I have come to the conclusion that all this comes from the fact that as I had always suspected, Men are from Mars. God Bless them but they are utterly mad.

I like lists. So here is a list of my top ten mad observations of things I never ever will understand about men. Most of these are from My Boy, but I’m sure all men exhibit these behaviours in some form or the other.

Things I never ever will understand about men

1. What is it with men and the bloody Playstation/Xbox? I have seen my very intelligent and engaging Boy turn into a googly-eyed silent thing with super-twitchy fingers. I get that men like video games because it gives them an alternate reality where everything is good or evil and mindless violence has a great deal of purpose…but what I refuse to get is why on earth four hours at a time without food, sleep or communication with humans, gets whiled away in front of this wretched contraption without so much as a grunt in response to your well-meaning questions. To The Boy’s credit, he tends to buy the latest game (often about 5 seconds after it is released to the general public,) play it like a maniac within the first 2 days, clock it and move back to being a loving caring talking husband. I tried to get involved and play a game once (Little Big Planet 2 for the record) but it all moved to fast and I got all stressed out because I kept dying and he got all stressed out because I kept hitting A when I should’ve been hitting X, and it all just went a bit west. So, men and video games…I just don’t get it.

2. I can remember our first date, our first holiday, the first time someone addressed us as “Mr and Mrs Boy”, the dress I wore on our 8th date etc. etc. He, like most men, often can’t even remember his own birthday. I am constantly reminding him of social dates for the diary, family birthday’s, even pay days! You’d think, right: men have bad memories. Not True. What year did Messi get scouted? When was the last time England got to the semi-finals of a World Cup? What were you doing at the exact moment Beckham missed that penalty? The answers to all these questions and several other thousand useless ones are taking up very important and premium space in men’s brains. No wonder they will never remember that you committed to your friend’s sister’s neighbour’s engagement party  the day of the Champion’s League Final.

3. I went through a phase, when I was a fashion student, of wearing mostly Vintage finds from a super cool warehouse deep in the East End. It got me through fashion week and almost every day of being surrounded by far more fashionable people at college. I still look back and think of my authentic 80’s bomber jacket, my 50’s tea dresses, my dominatrix black leather corset-waist belt and my grandad cricket jumper with the kind of fondness reserved for one’s first born child. The Boy thought each and every single item was utterly mad. He would often go from shaking his head to full on laughing his head off at my finds. I was even forbidden from using the word “vintage” for a while. Palazzo pants, Harem pants, Midi skirts, High-waisted sailor shorts, Block-coloured platforms, Blue eyeliner, Tuxedo jackets…all very haute according to the fashion powers that be; all deemed utterly repulsive by men. They just don’t get it. And for that, I just don’t get them!

4. Hi, I’m if i had six minutes to live, and I’m a beauty product-aholic. I have a somewhat chronic makeup/bath and body product addiction. My room is absolutely filled with every single type of beauty product ever invented. I can’t help but pick up every single shiny new bottle when I stop by Boots…it is a problem I am seeking help for. My Boy is very intrigued by my potions and lotions and is always eagerly buzzing around my dressing table to see if there are any items I suggest he should use. He always pretends to be really nonchalant about it but I can see his face light up when I suggest he should moisturise or exfoliate…they would never buy their own products but find it perfectly fine to pinch ours, claiming to “test it out to make sure we aren’t getting poisoned”. Right.

5. We go on a lot of drives. I always feel perfectly safe with him at the wheel but I will never understand why somewhere, deep down inside even the most sensible boy, there is a racer-boy at heart. I have often caught my Boy driving like he is on the Monaco Grand Prix track, cornering country roads in our tiny Aubergine Mazda 2 as if on rails. I believe Top Gear may be to blame for this phenomenon but answers on a postcard are welcome with your thoughts and experiences on the matter.

6. Men often say the wrong thing. My well-meaning Boy, like hundreds before him tends to have foot in mouth disease sometimes. Whether it is my makeup, my weight, my volatile relationship with a particular girlfriend or a problem I encountered at work…if men aren’t careful sometimes those ‘inside’ thoughts come outside without so much as a pause for breath and you’re left shocked at the impact of that casual but so hurtful (and often irritatingly spot on) remark. “Yes maybe that dress isn’t the most flattering option” or “why pay £100 for a gym membership you never use?” or “maybe she hasn’t called because she doesn’t have much to say to you” or “he probably was being short because you did it wrong”. To their credit they are mostly apologetic and often very soothing after the incriminating foot-in-mouth comment has cleared the air…but sometimes it might still mean a night on the sofa.

7. The Boy and I have many things in common like our love for Nando’s, bad pop music and scented candles. One thing we most certainly do not is our taste in movies. I will never understand why American bullshit comedies make him laugh till he literally cries, and movies about Robots that turn into cars are given epic status when to me they are and always will be, the most hollow depths of Bad Hollywood and a general bane to society.

8. Now I don’t know if this is just The Boy, or men in general, but they bloody eat LOADS and very fast. Sitting for a meal with my Boy is like being on one of those ridiculous burger-eating competitions on telly, you just eat as much as you can, as fast as possible and need to be reminded to chew. It doesn’t help that his hearty appetite is matched by a very slender frame, whereas I’m pretty much the other (and wrong) way round. One word: un-freakin’-fair.

You have to give them credit where it is due though, they may be frustrating but they are a whole lot bloody simpler than women. Once you come to terms with the above eight points and some variations therewithin, you often don’t encounter much more complexity.

So, as always, I sign off with a quote:

“The greatest truths are the simplest: so likewise are the greatest men.”- Julius Charles Hare

May many violent  PS3 games, bad American comedies and useless amounts of football trivia be with you,

If I had six minute to live…I’d write a little faster x

If the shoe fits…

It all started one unsuspecting Thursday night at Barasti, enjoying some cocktails under the stars and engaging in some blatant people-watching. An attractive girl in her 20s walks past in a dress I spotted earlier in a high street store. Another cocktail, meet an old friend, grimace over the DJ’s choice of muzak, some more people-watching, oh! What do I spot? Another attractive girl wearing the exact same dress. Shock! Horror! If this was the Oscar’s there would be a cat-fight right about now. As the night progressed into the early hours, friends were made and more people were watched, I counted six girls wearing the incriminating dress from the affordable high-street store. Six! And lest the dear reader wonder if perhaps I was suffering from double-vision thanks to those cocktails, let it be known, the strongest ingredient in there was some sharp Pineapple juice. Six young attractive girls wearing a block-printed, slinky jersey dress from High Street Store du jour. I was appalled! Don’t think I’m a high-street snob either, I found it equally infuriating when a couple of seasons ago a certain identical version of the Louis Vuitton speedy was spotted on multiple arms of fashionistas all over Mall of the Emirates. Where has all the creativity gone?

It made me think about fashion in Dubai on a deeper level. Cities like London, Milan, Paris and Tokyo are heralded as much for their designer togs as they are for the avant-garde individualism represented by young people in their ‘street’ togs. The advent and unbridled popularity of blogs like ‘The cool Hunter’ have represented that the fashion-conscious aren’t just interested with what the couturiers are creating. Fashion is intensely and increasingly influenced in a down-up manner. With the Punk and Mod movement in the 60s hitting London, designers like Vivienne Westwood claimed with great authority that Punk was all about the people. Her collections were as much about young fashion students ripping their jeans and wearing knuckle-dusters as jewellery as her mind’s own creative ministrations. With it’s newly launched fashion week, multitudes of designer boutiques and fast-fashion troves where does Dubai’s burgeoning fashion scene stand in terms of a defined street style?

If the episode at Barasti is anything to go by, Dubai’s street style may have a long way to go. Asking several fashion friends in the know they all lament over Dubai’s lack of originality. “Everywhere I go I see people following trends, I hardly ever see anyone starting a trend or following a path less beaten to inspire a trend”, says Natalie Robehmed, “When I visit London I may see many girls wearing exactly what style.com says is ‘in’ for the season, but I also get to experience some innovation and creativity, people stepping outside the box”

From the ornate Harajuku girls of Tokyo, to the ethnic beauties of Mumbai, the well-coiffed Parisians to the eclectic East Londoners, the beachy keen babes of Miami to the head-to-toe black New Yorkers, every city has their signature style that doesn’t just take its inspiration from trends but also works of practicality and circumstantial conveniences. Taking inspiration from history, culture and making sure to keep the weatherman’s warnings in mind, a street style is derived by a need to experiment with one’s look, be creative and not worry about breaking or making fashion rules. Taking the plunge into the unknown can be intimidating but it sure beats having the same dress and the same pair of shoes and the same handbag as your equally fashionable friend.

Though perhaps we fashion-cynics are being a little harsh. Dubai is a pretty young Emirate and it does show some evidence of having particular aspects to its fashion personality that can be deemed quintessentially Dubai. Stalk a neighbourhood mall and aside from the perfectly trendy, you’ll soon notice a few quirks that make Dubai’s street style an emerging persona. O.T.T Swarovski crystals, glitzy stilettos, a little bit of leopard skin here, a few beachy-keen summer dresses there, lots of sheer black Abayas, the most bling version of designer Sunglasses one can lay their hands on, super-sized leather totes in loud colours…you may have to squint and look hard, but a gleaming street style is just waiting to emerge. Perhaps it’s a beacon of hope for those waiting patiently for a fashion revolution here in Dubai, but there is hope.

So it all rests on you. Stop going for the tried-and-tested, take a chance! If your heart tells you you’d love to wear a pair of wellingtons under an abaya, go crazy! Feel like ditching your trustworthy little black dress combo? Wear your mum’s old wedding dress and accessorize with a smile- you could well be the mascot for Dubai’s street style revolution.

A very important person once told me he believed every city was a shoe. If East London is a pair of re-issued patent leather Doctor Martens, Paris is a pair of smart, Prada loafers and Mumbai is a pair of Kohlapuri ‘Chapals’, what would Dubai’s shoe alter-ego be? The truth is the shoe would probably be a particularly glitzy pair of heels, decadent, luxurious, hella expensive and just a little bit too much.

As is trend around these neighbourhoods, a quote:

“Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.” – Oscar Wilde

May the Doc Martens, Prada loafers and Kohlapuri chapals be with you,

If I had six minutes to live…I’d write a little faster xxx

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