Archive for the ‘Behavior’ Category

Sherlock Holmes is everywhere!

October 1, 2012

My entire childhood days were spent watching Jeremy Brett playing Sherlock Holmes in the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, a British TV series based on the short stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I would eagerly wait for Sundays just to see this show. I specifically loved the character Sherlock Holmes and his astute deductions of human behavior based on simplistic and detailed observation. His being socially inept and rude had no bearing on my admiration for him. I realized that observation alone is of no use without logical deduction and timely action.

I guess this was the seed that was planted in me to rejoice thrillers and mysteries even today, especially, where there are detectives and lawyers slicing and dicing the evidence. Even medical enigmas like House MD! So far in my adult life, I have been catching the re-runs of Sherlock Holmes on PBS and even Agatha Christie’s character Hercule Poirot. And, among the newer and relevant thrillers, I love Monk and CSI. I also am an avaricious reader of John Grisham, Michael Connelly, Mary Higgins Clark, Robin Cook and more recently David Baldacci.

Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The character is a consulting detective to Scotland Yard and is known for logical reasoning using observation, deduction and sometimes forensic skills. He was also known for using perfect disguises to solve many cases. He lived at 221B Baker St.

221 Baker Street - Sherlock Holmes

Dr Watson was his partner, friend and chronicler of all his cases. Sherlock is eccentric and arrogant. But at the same time he never took credit for solving cases. In fact, this character is the backbone even today, to all the fictional detectives that get created. If you look at Monk, Dr Gregory House, and even Poirot, they all are eccentric and socially awkward. While one of them is an OCD, the other is an addict and a narcissist. But one common thread connecting them is their observation skills.

However, this character is seeing so many makeovers and versions recently. Check out the actors who have played Sherlock Holmes.

The year 2009 saw a mega movie with Robert Downey Jr playing Sherlock Holmes and what a perfect choice. The character was further exaggerated with extreme eccentricities and humor. The plot itself had a great combination of action and drama.

Sherlock Holmes

Seeing this success and the guaranteed ROI, we have some new shows in TV now. BBC came out with their short series and a new interpretation. Their Sherlock, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, is a modern day young detective and a consultant to the cops. He has a cell phone which further helps him in his logical deductions.

Not wanting to be left alone, American TV has thrown in its hat into the ring to create “Elementary”. The Sherlock Holmes in this show has just come out of rehab. After being kicked out by the Scotland Yard, he comes to New York to assist NYPD. It is also modern and relevant to our times but has a twist. Dr Watson is a woman and to top that, an Asian. Gender and Race change, awesome! I know that many literary purists are quite shocked with this interpretation but I quite liked this version. Lucy Liu has the chutzpah to counter Sherlock. I already love her comebacks like “You are full of it” or my favorite where she points out that Holmes doesn’t have any mirrors around his apartment because he knows “a lost cause when he sees one”. Touché! But I hope they build on this chemistry and not make her just another female eye candy.

So, what more is left? Are we going to get an animated version or a 3D movie with Robert Downey Jr?

And, to my Indian friends, what about an Indian Sherlock Holmes? Since Bollywood loves to copy, why hasn’t anyone thought about this yet? Indian TV is still synonymous with “Karamchand”, a popular detective show of the 80s which was the first of its kind and still the best. So, maybe it’s time for something new even if it is an old wine in a new bottle.

Bu if Bollywood were to make an Indian twist on Sherlock Holmes then my bet would be on Vishal Bhardwaj to direct it, after all he succeeded in making Indian adaptation of Othello and Macbeth. My next bet is on Farhan Akhtar because his modern take on Don was not bad at all. But who do you think can play this role? In my opinion, Abhishek Bachchan will be a great modern day commercial Sherlock. In fact, Irrfan Khan will also be a great choice. What do all think?

 

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My Top 10 Break-up Songs

July 1, 2012

I am not sure why but lately there has been an outpouring of break-up songs from many artists. Either the break-ups are on an increase or artists are seeing a huge success with such songs. I think it’s a bit of both.

Well, break-up or not, this genre has a universal appeal that goes beyond time and age and/or break-ups. They are catchy on one hand and poignant at the same time, tugging at your heartstrings with beautiful lyrics and haunting melody.

Isn’t their a popular notion that best songs are written if one has experienced inner angst or a personal break-up? Well, whatever be the case I decided to bank on their success and have compiled a few of my favorite songs from this genre. So enjoy, sing along and let it all out!

Number 10:

“Believe” by Cher: It came out in 1998 and it is still so relevant. I like it because it has an uplifting message –

Number 9:

“If you go your own way” by Fleetwood Mac. This song came out in 1976 but is still evergreen. Especially love the this line in the song – “If I could, maybe I’d give you my world, How can I, when you won’t take it from me”. I love Stevie Nicks.

Number 8:

“Nothing Compares 2U” by Sinead O’Connor released in 1990. This is my all-time favorite and it just makes me emotional every time I listen to it. I didn’t know till date that this was actually written and recorded first by “Prince”

Number 7:

2006 hit, “Smile” by Lily Allen is quite funny and will actually make you laugh because of its simple and direct lyrics.

Number 6:

80s classic, “Take a look at me now” by Phil Collins. A guy’s version of a break-up song and so touching.

Number 5:

I have to include this timeless song from the 70s,”Please Don’t Go” by K.C. & the Sunshine Band. May be, just may be, hearts can mend by listening to K.C. crooning “Please Don’t Go”.

Number 4:

A more recent song, Coldplay’s “Scientist”. My favorite part is when Chris Martin sings with his beautiful voice: “Nobody said that it was easy, No one ever said it would be this hard, Oh take me back to the start”.

Number 3:

And, then comes a flurry of songs last year from Adele, an album full of songs on break-up and all the songs were amazing. No one has really expressed this pain any better than Adele in her “Someone Like You”.

Number 2:
I have to say Adele again with her “Rolling in the Deep”. The song has a way to connect with everyone of every age including young kids.

Number 1:
Of course, I can say Adele again for “Set fire to the Rain”. But my best is Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know”.

If best songs are written after a break-up then it is now Tom Cruise’s turn. 🙂

Classic Indian Beauty

April 10, 2012

It was a rainy and cold Saturday night when I felt like watching a good old Amitabh movie and after going through the list, I decided on a more romantic one, Silsila . This movie was loosely based on the alleged Amitabh-Rekha affair. But despite some great acting and a poignant story it was a flop.

However, what inspired this blog is not the movie but Rekha. She was at the peak of her career. She had lost some weight which she attributed to Jane Fonda workouts which made her chiseled features and expressive eyes stand out. Added to this were her husky voice, acting skills and perfect diction of Hindi that made her reach dizzying heights professionally. Who can forget her in Umrao Jaan where she even spoke Urdu like a pro!

"Rekha in Umrao Jaan"

A beautiful face with expressive eyes is the quintessential classic Indian beauty which you will not just find in Bollywood but all over India. A few years ago a fellow American had asked me why Indian women are not sexy-looking (he worded it respectfully so it was not derogatory). The background for this question was that we had a huge bunch of Indians in our office, no thanks to outsourcing and he being a young guy and still unhitched was constantly on the lookout. His question got me thinking and in a way he was right.

An average Indian woman has a freshly scrubbed beautiful face, deep set huge eyes with hardly any makeup. They are usually petite and have a pear-shaped figure which unfortunately diminishes their sex appeal in Western clothing because the clothes are cut to perfection and proportion. But drape us in a Sari and lo behold! Do we look sexy? The sari plays peek-a-boo with the body accentuating and exposing only the best at certain angles. Added to this with our culture being a little conservative towards exposing skin, those who do have hour-glass figures go unnoticed.

How about some more examples of such beautiful faces from Bollywood through the years –

Madhubala: She started her film career when she was barely 14 and won the hearts and minds of not only all the Indians but also Hollywood. Did you know that she was featured in many American magazines Theatre Arts had an extensive Article on her “The Biggest Star in the World (And She’s Not in Beverly Hills)”. Her captivating looks and her enchanting smile has transcended style, ethnicity and time.

"Madhubala"

Waheeda Rehman: A graceful dancer and a talented actress with high cheek bones, expressive eyes and a teasing smile!

"Waheeda Rehman"

Sharmila Tagore: Well, not many people would call her a classic Indian beauty. She did not have typical Bengali features with a perfect round face but she had her own appeal with eyes that spoke volumes coupled with dimpled smile. She also had a great slim figure, one of the rare Indian women who could confidently sport a two-piece bikini in those times and looking good too.

"Sharmila Tagore"

Aishwarya Rai, Miss World 1994: She is one actress who has equal and opposite reactions among women. There are intense hate clubs who cannot fathom this flawless creation of God and hate her superfluous beauty and then there are fans besotted by this shockingly perfect woman. I too am torn and confused by her looks. She is too perfect to the point where she comes across sometimes as an overly made up doll. Her giggling persona fills me with disgust but again I wonder if that’s her way of diverting a journalists’ brazen questions. I think she needs a reminder every five minutes that “less is more”.

"Aishwarys Rai"

But if anyone in today’s times were to symbolize classic Indian beauty then it is Vidya Balan. Always criticized by journalists and fellow colleagues in the film industry for being on the heavier side and wearing clothes that only brought out the fact that she was not thin, she has kept her head high and has clinched the best roles and more recently a National Award. She too has a beautiful expressive face with a great acting talent and all I can say is she truly represents an average Indian woman.

"Vidya Balan"

Of course, make-up has played a huge role to enhance their beauty since they are professional actresses. But an average Indian woman hardly uses any. Make-up in India usually consists of an occasional moisturizer, pressed powder, kohl liner for the eye or eyeliner and lipstick. I never knew what a primer was until I came to the US. I think it could be lack of commercialization in Indian society until the 90s that I survived this heavy make-up gluttony that we see in the US. However now that India is an open market, the international cosmetic companies with mega advertising budget are changing the mindset of the younger people. The need to look and dress like a Westerner has reached a never before high today but the love for food is equally at its peak. Let’s see what the future generation of Indian women will warp into.

But for now I can still say it is the simplicity and natural looks that adorn Indian women. There is a love for a good life, friendship and lots of food.

"Indian Woman"

Image courtesy: “Indian Woman”

C’est la vie! No worries, Mate! Om!

February 22, 2011

I just finished reading “Eat, Pray, Love” and it was not a book that I really enjoyed. Call it a respect for books or call it obsessive compulsive but I usually don’t leave a book mid-way.

No, this blog is not about my analysis or criticism of the book I usually don’t read memoirs but I picked this up because of all the media attention that it received and also because a movie was made from it with my favorite, Julia Roberts.

In order to understand the blog, I have to give a gist of this book for those of you who have neither read nor seen the movie yet. The book is about the author’s divorce, a marriage that she decides to end because she didn’t want to have a child and settle down but then goes into a guilt trip looking for answers to justify her divorce and her actions. She re-energizes herself and gets her husband’s forgiveness through meditation and thus releases herself from the past.

How does she do this? She takes a year off of her life to follow her dreams. She travels first to Italy to learn her favorite language and to indulge in some authentic Italian food. I love Italian food and I must admit her writing was amazing because it made me feel so hungry even after a full meal. After 4 months she goes to India and lives in her Guru’s ashram to meditate and frees herself of all the guilt and past. Her last stop is Indonesia where she falls in love again. Eat, Pray, Love, get it?

What inspired me to write was the year long vacation to re-energize, rediscover her priorities and to enjoy life. How many of us would love to do this? She took this huge step at the darkest hour of her life. But do we have to wait until we lose grip of our life and ourselves? Life is unpredictable and sometimes does not turn out the way you would have imagined or even planned. To top this we all lead a busy life day in and day out carrying out the same mundane functions like a machine. Even our vacations are pre-planned with times etched out on when we should eat and when we should sleep and when it should end. We are always running to catch up with time or are so stressed about being late.

Let me hypothesize that I have the courage to get away from everything and everyone (those of you who know me will laugh at me ‘coz I have no such courage) for a year. What would I do with so much time? Here are the things that I have always wanted to do and I’ll tell you why.

1st Stop: Paris – Estimated Time: 6 months

Paris France

I have immense love for this city, almost like a crazy passion ever since my visit in 1998. I have always dreamt of living here and want to be able to speak the language like the locals. There is something about the French language that is so romantic. In fact it is included as one of the “Romance Languages”. Everything about this place is so beautiful, romantic and fashionable from Renaissance architecture to the art collection in the museums, the fountains and the way people dress. I want to savor every bit of the Parisian lifestyle visiting the cafes, indulging in some fine wine and cheese. I wouldn’t mind becoming an apprentice at a fashion house just to feel the pulse of how fashion unfolds in this country. I want to travel by train in and around France and tour the neighboring countries of Italy, Switzerland and Austria. Last but not the least I want to stay in the French countryside for a while and spend long blissful evenings sipping wine and savoring Camembert and Brie cheese.

2nd Stop: Australia – Estimated Time: 3 months

Australia

Now that I have relived the romance and beauty and re-energized myself I am left with 6 more months. The next thing that I will do is to travel down under. This is one country that I really want to go see at a leisurely pace and enjoy the coast from Cairns to Melbourne. I specifically want to see the Twelve Apostles (only 11 now), Great Barrier Reef, Uluru and wait for it… a koala bear.

3rd Stop: India – Estimated Time: 3 months

The last stop will be my home country with my parents. I want to just live there for the rest of my 3 months and reconnect with my parents, friends and my culture. I want to learn Yoga and Vipassana meditation and hopefully acquire the eternal peace of mind.

But seriously I have to win a lottery or get a surprise inheritance from a long, lost relative (where are you?) to manage this year long vacation. Well, you never know!

For now I am thinking of taking ten minutes in the day to do extra something that can give me a smile. For example read a book before going to bed which is my way of unwinding but there are so many things that can be done like taking a beauty bath or read to your baby before tucking them in or catch a TV show with your partner etc. As for weekends, I want to take 2-3 hours for myself to either go shopping or hiking or write a blog whatever that can give all of us the peace of mind. Let’s not let family, work or society dictate our lives.

Lastly, take an annual vacation and actually go away from home or let me warn you my friends that if we don’t we all will end up washing dishes. Getting away does not mean expensive vacations or a year long vacation. But it is a matter of switching off the blackberries and reconnecting with family and most importantly SELF. Think about it and plan a fantastic summer vacation filled with love and peace and don’t forget to pamper yourself.

C’est la vie! No worries, Mate! Om!

A day without Internet: Virtual life vs. real life?

September 5, 2010

Can you imagine what a day would be like without the internet? Impossible, right? Internet has become such an integral part of our lives, both personal and at work.

Well, my job is in internet marketing so if there was no internet, I am not sure what I would be doing. Perhaps, traditional marketing or continue with travel and hospitality sales and operations, who knows?

Okay, here is how an ordinary day begins for me. I wake up to my good old radio alarm clock set to 97.5FM and based on the song that plays, I decide if my day will be good or crappy. LOL! If to my bad luck there is an ad playing, I just keep hitting the snooze button so that I can wake up to a song. I am extremely superstitious! So far so good without internet!

Then its coffee time, I am sure by now everyone knows the love that I have for coffee. As I turn my brewer on and sniff the invigorating aroma of the dark coffee powder mixing into the boiling water, getting filtered and trickling down into the coffee pot, trust me, my senses come alive. I used to turn the TV on and catch up on the morning news but now with my Smartphone, TV is a second option. Thus begins my dependency on internet.

I chose a few friends from various backgrounds and posed a simple question – “Imagine what your day would be like without Internet” and here are some interesting answers and I have tried my best to keep it verbatim to retain the essence of the emotion in their answers –               

Home maker from England: “To me internet is a window to the world…where I find not only news and information but also friends and platforms to share my thoughts, views and feelings. Being a housewife I do not get to meet many like minded people routine topics like kids, home, family, gossip etc. does not sustain my interest beyond a point. A day without internet would be like being in a cell cut off from the world. It is unfortunate but virtual life has taken over real life in many ways.  Wish many people in the real world wanted to interact as much as they do in virtual world!”

Well-said, my friend! Virtual life has indeed taken over real life. This blog would not exist if not for the internet because I am a hobby blogger and not a writer. I cannot spend time contacting publishing houses and magazines etc, go through their bureaucracy to get a page/book published. 

Here is another comment from a friend who is a working mother from US: “My life would be lost without the internet. 🙂 Here is why.
As a mom/home-maker:
1. I use it to research what I should do when my baby is sick.
2. To learn about my child’s progress. What is normal in the growth process and what to expect?
3. Learn about the school systems.
4. Being in touch with the world…. friends, family, news etc
As a travel consultant:
1. I would not be able to function without my reservation system, e-mails, tickets, airline websites where I get all my info. 
2. My phone is also linked to the internet.
3. The core of my business is via phones and e-mails… as long as I have internet I can function from anywhere.”

Here are some interesting comments from my Facebook friends –

Internet world vs. real life

 

The comment about withdrawal symptom made me wonder if internet really is an addiction and if yes, is it as profound as drugs and alcohol? I did a simple search in Google for “Internet Addiction” and Google’s keyword choices were disorder, test, treatment, statistics, symptoms, help, facts and believe it or not rehab! Wow!  

There is a name for this supposed disorder – IAD or Internet Addiction Disorder. Wikipedia defines it as excessive computer usage that interferes with daily life. Well, think about it, how in the world can people have so many friends in the virtual world and divulge their whole life to them in 140-characters every five minutes and these friends are those who they don’t know or are mere acquaintances. If interested you can read more in the study published in the nih.gov site.

The symptoms are supposed to be fatigue due to lack of sleep, poor job performance, apathy and decreased investment in social relationships and activities. Then there are rehab centers.

I really don’t know what to make of all this but I know this for sure that I love internet and it is not an addiction. Here is how my friend managed when she was on a vacation at a place with no internet – “Since, staying offline was not by choice but Internet simply not available, hence imposed on me; I simply had to come to terms with it. Well, the first day was tough- strong urge to check my mails, go facebooking and read my newspapers online. However, from the 2nd day onwards, I switched to reading books, holding newspapers in my hands and also making phone calls instead of emailing. So, the other options came in handy. In hindsight, it was after all not a bad thing to re-acquaint myself with life without Internet.”

Virtual life is as necessary as real life as long as you are well aware of your boundaries and privacy settings. Most important, don’t forget your real friends, real life, real garden, real farm, real pets etc.

Thank you my friends for your valuable input to put this blog into perspective and see you all in the virtual world as some of you live so far away while to others, I am just a phone call away.

Grass is green on the other side!

June 4, 2010

I overheard a phone conversation at an airport where a lady dressed in a business suit was casually joking with her friend on the phone.  It was past noon and I heard her ask if her friend was taking a nap. She called her friend as a “woman of leisure” and kept pulling her leg about it 2-3 times in a 10-minute conversation. So, apparently this friend was not working from what I could gather and could have been a homemaker. Let’s hypothesize for a minute and wonder if this was just a casual fun remark or was it something that this lady in the business suit craved deep inside to be that “woman of leisure”.

Grass is always green on the other side, so we have heard and I bet you, we have experienced it at some point in our lives. Literally, my neighbors’ grass is really lush and greener than mine. 🙂

People react to this feeling or as I would like to call this “syndrome” in many different ways. Some of us face up to it and openly envy others. How many times we have heard people say, “Wow, I envy you”. But sometimes this envy stays deep inside and festers. We may not even realize it and inadvertently we become angry and resentful of others who are not like us. Or, the best approach adopted by a daring few, take a giant leap over to the other side and experience the lush green grass.

I was actually stung by this syndrome sometime ago. Yes, my confession moment: I started working right after graduating with Master’s degree and the entire time I was envious of all the women who married and chose to become a homemakers. Although a few of them said that there was nothing to be envious about and that they missed going to work. But hey, I was blind and deaf because of this syndrome. I could not comprehend then that there was a reverse reaction of them finding my grass as green.

Fast forward to ten years! I had to take a break from work due to frequent moves we did and my back pain. I should have been very happy, right? Well, I was happy to begin with being in my green pastures of newfound luxury of time. I browsed, read, caught up on movies and even had the patience to watch Indian Idol on You Tube.

Anyway, I just spiraled down into an abyss with no purpose in life. But it was a lesson learnt and I realized what I truly liked in life. The lesson here is grass is not always green on the other side. We have to know what we want and it may not be what others have. But unfortunately a lot of these decisions are not quite that simple. Reminding ourselves of this can make us feel a lot less resentful or just feel the pang and move on with life.

But one thing that strikes me odd is that why is it that sometimes we crave what others have. This happens to babies as well. I am not kidding, a child bawling because she wants the green lollipop that the other kid has even though she is holding a pink one. Girl, you have the pink, stop crying! Oh no! See what I am saying? So it almost makes me wonder if we are wired to crave for what we don’t have.

From all these examples, I can only say that we have to be comfortable in what we do no matter how green the grass is on the other side. I choose to dare if it really bothers me. Yes, I chopped my hair and sported a short style for years. And, all my eyes could see were women with long hair looking beautiful. My hair has grown back and I love it but I can’t help feel a pang when I see Katie Holmes beautiful bob! Go figure!

Katie Holmes