The look I’m detailing here is as retro as the title of this post. The occasion was a Christmas special dance workshop by the MadMax Academy of Dance. The invitation actually said to wear white but I couldn’t find anything good to wear in that colour. As it turned out, no one wore white but a lot of people stuck to the Christmas theme. I wasn’t really going for the Santa Claus look but as it turned out, the red fit right in. I was actually going for a biker babe look, which I switched at the last minute to include some red and resulted in a more retro feel.
I’d been dying to take out those boots, since they were my pick of the season. I didn’t want to wear jeans and it was too cold for a skirt. What better than leggings for a dance workout? The top is a long-sleeved fitted body-tee with black sleeves, that I got as a gift awhile ago. I love the colour and the print, referencing my favorite decade, the 70s. But the full sleeves get a bit much in Mumbai’s usual weather. It’s longer than a regular tee-shirt, which is why I thought it would be perfect to wear over this teensy-tiny denim skirt. The acid-washed denim and miniskirt-over-leggings is more 80s but I figured it was close enough to the period I was referencing.
I knew a dance workout would have me sweating in a matter of minutes, and the cotton would let me breathe. I could always roll up the sleeves. But it was an extraordinarily cold evening and I also didn’t want to stand out too much in the train, for my miniskirt (never mind the leggings, you know how Mumbai trains are!). So I pulled on my black Life jacket, already taken out for the biker babe look. For some reason, the jacket tones down the look, making it less fitted as well as less dated.
Since the top leaves the neck completely bare, I draped over a blue silk scarf, that would otherwise be considered more corporate attire. All my other scarfs are prints and would make this look too busy. But the muted colour matched my skirt and complemented the look well. Accessorizing any further would have been overkill and as it is, I pushed the envelope slightly since it was a vibrant, festive occasion. For just an evening out, I’d have stuck to diamond studs or maybe even worn no jewellery. And my make-up would have been more dramatic with maroon lipstick and perhaps lined eyes. But this evening’s activities would cause make-up to run. And few things look as bad as a face with worn-out make-up and bad accessories. Ear jewellery always lifts my face so in burst of daring, I added these oversized hoops made of surgical steel.
Now look carefully. The girl in the print has hair almost as short as mine and a frame that’s just as lanky. She’s also wearing white (silver?) hoops and a heart-shaped pendant. And that’s the only reason this pretty, glass heart got added to my outfit.
The look was much more fun, young and crazy than I’d imagined – just the right mood for the kind of uninhibitedness that makes dance fun! I had a great time dancing and laughing and it was the most fun Christmas event I’ve ever been to.
* Cross-posted to Divadom.
When I tweeted, complaining about my Bandra woes a few months back, I received a slew of responses along the lines of,
All the other suburbs are much worse!
It’s just such a rocking place that it doesn’t matter.
So when I wrote ‘Bandra Is No Longer The Queen Of The Suburbs’ last week, I didn’t expect it to get quite the opposite response. Readers tweeted their agreement (a few are updated on the post itself) and a longtime SoBo (always sympathetic to Bandra, for some reason) friend turned it into a conversation on Facebook. Today’s DNA carried an excerpt in their ‘Around the blog’ section.
I don’t know if it was because my article was calmer, more factual than ranty and so easier to read. Or (dare I hope?) whether the city is seeing Bandra as I do, finally – an ordinary location that went from old-world charming to aspirational to wannabe to overyuppified because of too much glossy hardsell.
Here’s the excerpt in DNA.
Comic Con Mumbai 2011, the first of its kind in the city, took place in third week of October. I have much to thank the beautiful @Phyrodite for, not the least of which was, telling me about it and then helping me construct a look for it (more later).
The event wasn’t promoted as well as I would have hoped, given the burgeoning popularity of the visual/text medium (I’ll refrain from calling them either ‘comics’ or ‘graphic novels’ since each seems to incite overstrong responses). Still, it was exciting to think of being able to attend an event that focused solely on this genre and its fans.
That it took place at the undeniably inaccessible World Trade Center, Nariman Point may have been a point lost in its favour. Still the numbers did turn out, horrible public transport and weather notwithstanding. What was slightly disappointing was the size of the actual event. My first pang of disappointment struck when I saw the ubiquitous white-and-blue temporary stalls everywhere. These have become synonymous with boring expos, meets on real estate, technology and other such stuff. I really had expected something more…I don’t know…crazy, quirky, wild, colourful? The stalls were all run by publishers, writers or occasionally an unrelated merchandiser (posters, fridge magnets, music-themed tee-shirts).
I was delighted to find India Book House had a stall there. The people who’ve delighted every Indian child with Tinkle and Amar Chitra Katha, had a large stall selling their most popular comics. The covers are now glossy though the print quality suffers in some of these cases. Also, ACK digests are now hardbound editions. As a show of support (and because they were offering a 20% discount!), I picked up two Tinkle digests and two ACK collections (“Tamil Stories” and “Jataka Tales”). I also spotted fellow NovelRacers, Vijayendra Mohanty, there to promote his comic series, Ravanayan (which the boy promptly bought).
There was a costume competition in the evening but then again, I didn’t really see enough of dressed-up people to really make this a success. Most of the visitors were men/overgrown teenboys sporting the now-so-common superhero teeshirts. Among the costumes I did spot were a Luna Lovegood (Harry Potter really is not a graphic novel or comic!), Fred Flintstone (Isn’t that a cartoon, not comic?), two Darth Vaders (I guess Star Warsmania is a given in any comic convention) and the only other graphic novel character – Rorschach (from Alan Moore’s Watchmen). Which brings me to the next part of this post. What did I go as?
I’ve had my eye on a certain Neil Gaiman character for a long time and just hoping for a Halloween party or costume ball of some sort to don the look. Unfortunately for me, @Phyrodite beat me to it! Looking back, I know she made a far better Death than I would have. What else could I pull up at the spur of the moment? I didn’t want to go as a superheroine, given my limited exposure to these only notes teenboy-fantasy-skimpy-costumes. I didn’t want to carry off a character I didn’t know well and I did want to honour one of my favorite stories of all time – the Sandman. So I picked another character, one not as obvious but very powerful in his/her own way. There’s a clue in that last sentence, Sandman-lovers. This is what I took my brief from (Book 4: Season Of Mists):
“Desire smells, almost subliminally of summer peaches, and casts two shadows: one black and sharp-edged, the other translucent and forever wavering, like heat haze.
Desire smiles in brief flashes, like sunlight glinting from a knife-edge. And there is much else that is knife-like about Desire.
The most striking thing about Desire’s look is that it isn’t an exact half-and-half male/female depiction, but a seamless blend of the two that somehow is both striking and attractive. I’d been meaning to get a haircut anyway and with this, I decided to just go wild and carried the comic with me to the hairdresser. Following a drawn image proved to be too difficult so instead, I explained the character to her. I think she really hit the nail on the head with this haircut!
It was too hot for a suit so I decided to pick the look Desire sports in Chapter 5 of ‘Brief Lives’, when he/she rescues Tiffany, the exotic dancer from the apocalyptic last dance of Ishthar. A white cotton shirt that I’d bought just the previous week was begging to be worn, that’s how cool and starched it was. I discarded my formal trousers in favour of skinny jeans to make the look more ‘spicy’ than staid. These jeans were too tight for me a few months back but happily for me, slip on like second skin now. Second skin I say, because that’s how tight they are. I think they made for a good contrast with the prim cotton shirt. Over this, I slung a black cordruoy jacket, hanging off one shoulder in the classic Desire pose. I think all I was missing was a lit cigarette but I don’t smoke so I gave that a miss.
Footwear would have to be my strappy black sandals since the haircut and shirt made for such a boyish look. It’s the accessories that I was really proud of, at the end. First of all, a red satin pouch that I got as a free makeup kit from Maybelline, doubled up as a waist pouch. The colour, the fabric, combined with the steel chain around my waist added the kinky touch to Desire.
A heart-shaped rose quartz pendant from Magick slipped into one of my ear hoops and stood out really well against the black jacket. A silver charm bracelet with a heart was on my right wrist. And finally, at the end of another steel chain (matching the one around my waist), I attached an old pendant from my college days, that depicts a boy and girl kissing. I wound this around my wrist and swung it around to showcase my character’s belief that human beings are but objects of Desire.
And finally, the most important artefact of an Endless sibling – the sigil. My glass heart pendant was a gift from @Phyrodite. And here’s when Death and Desire walked together!
* The photographs are courtesy Rehab and Valerie, who couldn’t have been more patient as I demanded one more angle, one more frame, one more photograph!
* Cross-posted to Divadom.
A very quick update on yesterday’s street festival. It would have been nice if it had been a day-long fest and each of the events staggered a bit.
I started out with a detailed itinerary, knowing even then the futility of trying to cover all the events. Kya karen, they were all so appealing! I started with the Wall Project, because it was the first event and yes, also because it enjoys a special place in my heart. 🙂
AmZ met me in Bandra and we spent a pleasant (if not fruitless) half-hour driving up and down Tulsi Pipe Road trying to find the others. The event details had only said that the project was open for painting on the blank walls left over from the earlier events. But maybe because of the heat and also since it was a less monitored event, the crowd clustered around a tree-shaded patch close to Mahim.
I daresay some people may have painted over earlier paintings. But I’m just going to take a note from a friend’s diary and say that street art is about layers over layers.
I had a run in with the shopkeeper of the only hardware shop open on that stretch. I know it was hot but that wasn’t my fault and besides no one should be crabby about doing extra business. Grrrrr, horrible man!
So I found myself dressed to paint in denim overalls and bright pink rubber gloves but with no paints, no brushes and no wall. Mercifully for me, Manan and his friends invited me to join them in their part of colour splashing. Here are the results.
Since they’d already started their panel, I didn’t join them but I was graciously given both the border panels to splash about with. On the right, I created a warli painting. After all these years of sketching and fabric-painting, this is the first time I’ve actually created this wall art on a real wall. Much fun it was.
E Vestigio was there all along, heckling us and snapping pics. (I do hope she’ll put up a post with them soon!) In retaliation, I incorporated her into the warli painting along with the others who were painting the wall. Can you guess which one she is? The fun bit about an event like this is the camaraderie and silliness that goes hand-in-hand with actually executing the project.
The panel on the left actually had a few pictures of gods and the pavement-dwellers asked us to not touch those. In cognizance of this, a group had left the top half empty and was in the process of creating a Pink Floyd album cover on the bottom. But the top looked rather stark. So I tempered the parts around the pictures with blue paint and created a kolam, which is fairly appropriate next to a picture of the Gods, I think. 🙂
Friends and familiar faces I spotted were Neil Dantas, Shadez and Leztah. The mad (o’ wot?) Sapna Bhavnani screamed out “IDEEEEEEEAAAAAAAA!” as she flew past in an Elvis Presley wig, as a part of the Superheroes on bicycles event. A few panels down, Ranjeet, Neeraj and their gang put up their green and peaceful messages to the world.
The Superheroes on bicycles briefly sailed past us and stopped to ogle our walls and let themselves be ogled at. Much funness. Mumbaikers need to be taught to stare. 🙂
By the time we packed up it was close to 8. So we made our way to Carter Road to catch the Mad Fake Tea Party. It was too dark by then and the party that had presumably been on for a few hours, was winding down. Still we got a few glimpses of funkily dressed people and the remaining postcards on the table.
All in all, we really only did one event completely but as Manan puts it,
What a wonderful, satisfying way to spend a Sunday!
Time out of office on a weekday is always fun. Even if you do have to get back to work eventually. It would be funner if the rest of the day was an unscheduled holiday, of course, but one makes do with what one gets.
So I find myself sauntering down a road that was probably desiged to be a nice, quiet side-street with colony gates opening into it but has metamorphosed instead. The road has grown up and now sees hourly traffic snarls, cars and cabs zooming and vrooming up and down and a bright neon multiplex thrusting itself in between the faded painted hoardings that came up about fifteen years ago (when the road was oh, about in its teens).
It’s scorching hot after a week of grey skies and incessant rain. Great, I left my sunglasses behind and carried my extra-heavy-duty rain protection gear instead, that’s making my otherwise ubercool bag bulge like a pillow. No matter I tell myself, in Matunga, nobody will mind.
No taxiwalla is willing to ferry me to the station and my stomach is starting to make itself (or its emptiness) felt so I pause, mid-traffic to think. If I were in Dadar, I’d pop in to sample some no-frills delicious Mahrashtrian cuisine. I spend a peaceful few seconds thinking about kokum sharbat, patra, shrikhand-puri and masale bath. The honking behind me jolts me out of my reverie so I rush on. Bandra and I would have stepped into any of the cafes, restaurants and hangouts I know so well. Town has its own delights. Even if Tea Center has ceased to function, there’s always Samrat where I’ve enjoyed many a solo lunch with the waiters dancing attendance. Yes, I know, I know that Gujjus don’t consider Samrat fare as ‘good food’ but like I said, one makes do with what one has.
My gastronomical soliloquy has carried me comfortably down the entire stretch and I’m almost near the station. I sense an Udipi close by and I walk in. Did I say ‘sense’ it? Yes, when one is hungry, one’s senses are much heightened and besides can any Mumbaiker miss the Shetty-style maroon/navy blue uniform-clad water boys, cleaners and waiters? I’m in Udipi land alright. Except…I’m most surprised to find the place almost deserted. An Udipi at lunchtime deserted? Besides I’m fairly certain I’ve been to this one before and it has reasonably nice food. Nonplussed I drift to one of the empty seats, taking in the darkness in the nether sections and waiters in huddles. One of them directs me to the inevitable ‘A.C.Room’ upstairs. I trudge upstairs only to find one single waiter and one sole customer both looking at me very curiously. So I back out, my customary confidence vaporizing and other senses taking over (“Yikes!”) and decide to sit downstairs.
The man at the cash register a few feet away whispers loudly to one of the water-boys to…
Funny, I’ve never seen an ash-tray in an Udipi before. But the water-boy shows up and I forget all, savouring the cool water in a way only someone who has walked down a road on a hot day can. I run my gaze down the menu. Chicken items, Mutton items, Egg curries, Fish dishes, Snacks (yes, they spell it right!) and beverages. Uh….in an Udipi? Of course I know that the Shetty clan are as carnivorous as the next guy and enjoy their fish and meat. But you’ll never find even the smell of one of them in an Udipi. And ummm, has anyone in Matunga heard of meat?
Tentatively I ask,
This used to be a vegetarian restaurant?
The waiter shakes his head and then comprehension dawning late says,
No, this is a bar. Our veg restaurant is across the road.
So, of course, I beat a hasty retreat. If you need to ask….well forget it, don’t even ask.
Across the road I wonder if the glass of water I had, tasted any different from a restaurant. What if they had spiked it? Someone spiked my Breezer with beer once! I shudder off all those annoying senses that are surrounding me and tell myself firmly that
I would know if someone spiked my drink. And what’s a little beer going to do to a rum drinker?
In the vegetarian restaurant (which, I note is bustling with activity, much to my relief) I sink into a chair right near the entrance. Two minutes later the menu still hasn’t been arrived and I haven’t even been given a glass of water (not that I’d need another one after that beer-spiked glass I downed not five minutes back). So I scowl in impatience and move to a better location. Right near the mirrored walls, on the sofa side where I have a view of cashier, water boys, waiters, wash-basin and the door to the kitchen.
What I need is a good thali. Nothing like simple pseudo-home fare to calm the (beer-spiked) nerves. The shiny steel platter arrives in exactly the time it takes me to walk to the wash-basin and come back. Three soft and thin chappatis (I hate those doughy, chewy parathas or ‘parotas’ as the southie restaurants call them) surrounded by round katoris all along the rim. The curd is set in the katori and I break the smooth surface to test it. I note that the cream is just thick enough to bend a little before breaking but light enough to not crumple. Next, the crucial taste test. Hmm….lovely! The proof of the Udipi is in the curd-eating.
One after the other, I sample each katori, deciding which ones I like and which I don’t and can be evacuated from the plate. So out goes palak gravy (*sob* but gastroentitis was enough to throw me off my favorite green veggie in the monsoons…even if today is an uncharacteristically sunny day!). The beetroot-bhaji follows suit. I never got used to that evil thing. Lovely colour, horrendous taste. No wonder they say it’s good for the blood, it tastes like blood too! The sambar-ey thing joins them (who ever heard of sambar with chappati?). So I’m left with aloo-bhaji, brinjals in a coconut-ey orange gravy, payasam (kheer), a watery brown thing that I always decide I will try but never do and the curd. I line up all the remaining katoris to the frontlines, place the mini-papad in the conclave they form and open and re-fold the three chappatis seperately. Ready to begin!
The first morsel is dunked into payasam and disappointingly yields nothing more than two dripping fingers. So I beckon to a passing waiter and ask him,
Did you just dump the liquid in? There’s no payasam here!!!
He looks ready to argue but is pulled off by his colleague who tells him to replace it. In a blink I have another fresh katori, hot this time and filled half with soft rice. Damn and I was hoping it would be semiya-payasam. Don’t tell my mum since I feign a dislike for payasam but I love the feel of a not-too-watery, not-too-sugary semiya-payasam within a chappati. Rice will do just as well so I attack tuck in. My fresh lime soda arrives in the ubiquitous beer-mug (beer again!) with a straw in it which falls off the minute it is set on the table.
Mid-way, I’m interrupted by people standing next to my seat. Ah, the next occupants standing so as to ‘grab the seat’. But they sit down instead. And I’m mighty surprised. This is two men, the sort that I’d walk past quickly on the road anticipating their stares following me down the road. But they don’t of course. This is Mumbai at lunch-hour and the rules are different. A person eating alone and sitting in a table meant for 4 (tightly squeezed) has effectively stated that they are fine with company. Company does not speak or look. The rules of the shared table are much the same as in a closed elevator. No eye-contact and hold your breath till its over. One of them steals a glance at my almost empty katoris and I retract my uncharitable thoughts on staring. Hunger speaks across languages.
Meal done, I speed up the finishing bits and ask for the bill (yes, not ‘the cheque’). On my way out, I pause to buy a beeda. A bright green betel leaf wrapped around a mysterious something, topped with colourful dried coconut and finished with a clove through it. What Udipi meal is complete without one?
* The restaurant that served up this wonderful lunch is Ganga Vihar, close to Matunga Road west.