Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

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”

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Reflecting on 2011

December 31, 2011

This year was one of the toughest years of my life and much as I want to forget it and move on it is deeply etched in my mind. I am sure this feeling resonates with a lot of you in some way or the other. People around the world have suffered profound loss in their own ways from either losing a job or losing a loved one or losing a home or losing something precious. 2011 showed me how frail, fragile, unpredictable and sometime irreversible life is. I have reached a point where I have no room in my heart for any negativity, ego or spite. I oppose war more than ever.

No one knows what tomorrow holds and this is a feeling that we always adhere to when we usher in the New Year. I still remember last year’s New Year’s Eve party when we bade goodbye to 2010 and as always we are all so excited for the New Year. Isn’t “New” always thought of as something better, something bigger, or something greater? But what if it is not? 2011 made me change my perception of “New” as something unknown (which it is) and not necessarily better or bigger or greater but to go with the flow.

Well, this year started off with a small fender-bender on the road which was inconsequential really and I was thanking my stars as we drove back home. So I could not believe my ears when I heard that the car had to be totaled. Logic here was that the cost behind the damage was much more than the value of the car but still overnight we lost our car. Again after a few months we missed a near fatal accident by a hair’s breadth when a van jumped the red signal. Thank goodness I was a bit distracted so had a slow start but the incident still sends a chill down my spine. It made me feel how unpredictable life can be.

But the biggest blow came on 22nd July when we got the dreaded phone call from India at wee hours of the morning. My friends this call is most dreaded to us Indians in America because we have left our loved ones behind to come to the US to make a better life here. I used to talk about it, worry about it and have seen so many of my friends go through it and it finally happened to me. I lost my father that day, my rock, my mentor. Every one of us who knew him is still trying to come to terms on how life can just slip out of a healthy man within seconds. Life is frail and sometimes the losses we suffer are irreversible.

The world too saw some tragic events this year. Natural calamities struck the world like never before. Japan braved a triple disaster with a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami killing nearly 20,000 people and causing grave destruction to the towns and cities on the Northeastern Honshu coast. The third blow was a major meltdown of a nuclear plant in the area causing months of scare over radioactive contamination. No one knows better than them what it is to suffer from radiation after-effects through generations. 2011 saw many earthquakes all over the world (Turkey, New Zealand). It almost feels like nature is warning us about its fury against man’s negligence.

Apart from earthquakes, we saw the most deadliest and destructive tornado outbreak slamming the mid-West and South of US causing 552 confirmed fatalities. At least there were over 1000 tornadoes reported here in the US with six EF5 tornadoes. Towns of Smithville, Joplin and Tuscaloosa saw catastrophic destruction. One such devastating tornado had a wind speed of 205 miles per hour and stretched three miles causing complete devastation.

Jopin Tornado effect

Then we all know and have experienced in some ways the repercussions of the economic quagmire in Europe and US resulting in the highest unemployment rate. So many people have suffered financial and emotional havoc because of this while the politicians and rich business tycoons controlling the banks keep striking deals to safeguard their interests.

The world also lost some talented people this year and of course topping this list is Steve Jobs, a visionary and a creative genius. 

But best part of life is while on one hand it may take something precious from you it also teaches you to be thankful for what we still have or what we may have averted when we lose something or someone. I am thankful that my father did not suffer. He was a self-made mad, proud and always ready and willing to help others and he never would have liked to depend on anyone or cause inconvenience.

The world too saw some good this year. Finally the likes of Osama Bin Laden and Muammar Gaddafi were taken out. The Middle East uprising resulted in positive change of regimes in Tunisia and Egypt. The Iraq war that started in 2003 finally ended (Price of War: more than 4,400 US troops sacrificed & $700 billion in expense and who knows how many civilians). And, I finally learnt to bake and achieved one of my dreams.

As I eagerly bid goodbye (just a few hours left) to this year I will continue to keep my hopes alive for a better tomorrow for a brand New Year and pray for a lot of peace, happiness and courage for those who have lost someone or something precious this year. I love you dad.

Happy New Year!