Sunday, June 26, 2011

Indian 'Haute couture' in Bangkok

I am sure my friends will snigger when they see the title of this blog. I cannot even pronounce 'Haute Couture'! In fact Tara does not trust me to buy clothes for myself and I have stopped buying for her after I bought the first and the only sari during my courting days. While she kept it, she never wore it again after the first try. She is afraid, in fact very sure, that if allowed, I will end up looking like one of the sidey characters of a SI movie.
... ..Bonny Sethi

My idea for a blog on a fashion designer came while attending Ayesha's wedding. I learnt that Bonny Sethi had designed clothes worn by many at the wedding including Ayesha, Viji, Gayathri and herself! The dresses were very striking and even to my untutored eyes it was clear that they enhanced the aura of the wearer! They were not outlandish like the ones we see sometimes in a fashion show.

A few examples of her designs.

While acquainted I had my opportunity to speak to her about her work in Goa at Aparna's wedding. I always look for something positive to write about India and Indians and it is not easy if you live in India and read the papers early in the morning. Luckily her story proved even better than I expected.

She was a very popular teacher in one of the International schools, even though she had studied to be a fashion designer and was independently running a fashion unit in India. Unfortunately there are very limited choices for well qualified women who come as dependents on their husbands' work visa to Thailand. We meet experienced doctors, engineers and lawyers who are unable to work.

After many years as a teacher, she took a bold decision in 2009 to start a company in Bangkok and follow her passion. Hired skilled tailors from India and got them work permits. She proudly says 'All very legit and the company pays taxes'. Very creditable to do this in a different country and working with the local rules and regulations.

I was told that one cannot just walk in to her boutique and tryout a dress and buy. You meet her by prior appointment. When I asked her why, Bonny said it works better that way. Gayathri confirms this as she spoke about her experience of getting clothes made by Bonny. They were colleagues at the international school. Gayathri says 'It is 'one-on-one' and personal. She sits down with you, tries to ascertain your likes, encourages you to try new things and it is a very interactive process'.

I also gathered that her clientele is largely expat Indian, even though she did design a dress for Coleen using Indian fabrics to attend the wedding in Goa. She uses authentic Indian fabrics and delves deep into our heritage for her creations.

Her first fashion show in Bangkok.

Bonny is on FB and also has a website which gives you an excellent idea about her work. Both are very well designed and tell us that essentially she celebrates all things Indian, the fabrics, the artistry and the originality of our ancient designs. You will enjoy browsing the sites.

Yes she also designs jewellery.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Should I try the new 'fast' cure!

After my return from Bangkok I saw that while the opposite pavement was tiled, our side of the pavement was not touched and the workers were nowhere to be seen. I asked my father-in-law about it and he said 'They are not doing it as they say that cars are normally parked there.

Which is true. But so it is everywhere.

A pity as new tiles would have been nice in front of our house!

Notice the level difference to accomadate the gate.

My brilliant idea to eliminate compound walls comes from this.

I was upset to see the pavemnet opposite was being tiled a little ahead, in spite of the cars parked there and the BESCOM transformers ahead.

So when I saw this on TOI,, I suppose I just had to vent my spleen against BBMP! I wrote a strong letter to the editor and they published it. "Srinidhi: I stay in a so called residential area. Wider roads have become through roads with honking and speeding drivers. Cars are parked in either side of the roads and lanes. New buildings 3 storey high do not have parking space! I wonder why? Foot paths are a joke, uneven in surface, width and non-existent where KEB has installed its equipment. Funniest is that the netas have intiated and have begun tiling these footpaths without doing anything to streamline the footpaths. Tiles are placed over them retaining its original contour and width. My advice is get rid of footpaths in residential areas or just make it 3 feet wide, except in the high density roads! But once it is retained, ensure that it is a footpath and not a parking spot for the owners. If residents do not have parking space, let them break their compound wall. This will atleast ensure they do not hog the whole footpath but will give up 5 feet of the offset in front! Pedestrians crossings are not even a joke, they are dangerous as no vehicle respects them. Pedestrians are no better, they walk anywhere and anyhow! I heard a comment on TV that corruption is in our genes. Apparently there are more genetic faults. TOI is doing its best to write and focus on these issues. But I suspect that it is just a waste of energy and news print! A pity. I suggest a corporator walks and observes for himself how we really are and go on a Fast to improve our behaviour in so many ways!". I guess seeing my name in print cooled me a bit, but I do believe that while the big guys could go on fast on the larger issues, there is room for many more local netas to do good by going on fast on local issues. But I don't know if I go on a fast, whether my demand that our side of the pavement is also tiled and my suggestions are implemented will be accepted? They may probably let me go the way of Sadhu Nigamananad who fasted until death to save Maa Ganga.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Murphy's law? How about NDL? (Nidhi's Dumb Luck)

When I griped about my computer failures, there was a lot of advice, very little sympathy. Murphy's law (Anything that can go wrong will go wrong) was quoted. And as if to prove their point Murphy's law reared its head again, this time on the golf course.

On my last outing of golf, I almost had a hole in one. The line looked good and the ball landed short of the hole and travelled towards it but it just veered past the hole at the last moment! Probably just one blade of grass out of the hundreds had turned the other way and against me. But that is Murphy's law for you!

Frustrated I asked myself, is there an opposite to Murphy's law and will it work for me? And it happened on the same day! No, not a hole in one, but I chipped in from out of no where! I could not even see the flag from where I hit the ball, but the ball landed on the green and made a turn towards the flag and I ran sideways, pro style, to see it drop into the hole. None of the others in my group saw, which was a huge disappointment!

I thought there must be a name for this phenomenon! Sure enough there is and it is called the Yhprum's law! Not very imaginative, but easy to remember. The law states Everything, that can work will work.

But what happened on the golf course could not be Yhprum's law! In which case every chip shot I make should drop into the hole. Don't ever tell a golfer that he made a bad chip! It was not serendipity as it was not something unexpected. We expect that every time we hit a ball it goes where we want it go!

This reminded me of a couple of unlikely situations in my life. I remember my first trip on a greyhound. The bus stopped on the street near the bus station in New York, I got off and walked into the terminus looking for a bag conveyor like in the airports. Suddenly realised my stupidity and ran back to the street! There was a moment of panic as the bus had already left and then saw my suitcases lying on the pavement. A big relief.

Or the time at the Madrid airport! Stepping out of the taxi sans my briefcase and being blissfully unaware of it till a man tapped me on the shoulder. It was the taxi driver and he just handed me the briefcase and ran back muttering something about the police. There are many such stories!

So thinking about a scientic explanation for such occurances, I saw this on the web: 'According to Heisenberg, nothing can be verified to a probability smaller than Planck's Constant (roughly 6.6 divided by 10 to the power of 34), where absolute certainty has a probability of 1'.

That was a lot of zeroes and I gave up trying to find a scientific reason, even though we are getting used to more and more zero's in our life. Just look at the money involved in recent scams! In fact, whether you read papers or watch TV, it is a certainity that Murphy's law is on a rampage in India. Then the solution occurred to me! What India needs is just my kind of dumb luck to change things and set it right when in all probability it is as remote as the planck's constant.

Friday, June 17, 2011

A conversation with a Bangkok taxi driver!

Many Bangkok taxi drivers are friendly and are also curious. This one asked me 'Where you from?' and smiled! As I am already used to the glum, don't care attitude of most of our auto drivers, it felt good to be smiled at, even if it was from the rear view mirror.

I smiled back and said 'India'. I asked him, as it was election time, 'Who do you want to win?' His reply was a bit surprising as most Taxi drivers have strong preferences. 'I no like red shirt, yellow shirt both same same!' and he changed the subject by acknowledging 'The Buddha came from India and Nepal!' He had all the Buddhist lucky charms in his taxi, the amulets, a small figurine of a monk and a design like our Rangoli on the ceiling of the car. Nice that we gave others a religion which seems to have made them more tolerant and obviously more prosperous!

He then remarked 'India big country, many rich many very poor!'. They are all avid TV watchers and obviously India is on their priority list. Indian tourists are seen in every mall early in the morning and are known to be big, if irritating shoppers.

I got defensive and said 'Even Thailand has poor and very rich people'. But I had to admit there were more poor people in India. Then I asked him 'What are you? Are you rich?' He looked comfortable and was well dressed. It was possible he owned the Toyota Altis Taxi and some more.

He said 'No! The middle! Happy in the middle. No headache! The Buddha teach us the middle path'. Then he quoted from the scriptures. It sounded familiar even though I could not make out a single word. He assumed that as an Indian where Buddhism originated I would know! I said 'Very nice!' and acted as if I understood. I suppose we have to keep up the intellectual Indian image!

'How many children?' I asked. He said very fondly 'One boy' and added 'Very lazy! He wants to be mechanic'. There is a saying among us Bangkok Indians that we need to accumalate a lot of punya -merit to be born in Thailand as a boy! That is another story!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ayesha Nizar Wedding.

The wedding was a visual delight with many moments to cherish. There was music, dance, glamour and an amazing variety of food!

You could also dwell upon its larger dimensions. Ayesha is of Indian origin and Nizar's parents are from Palestine and the two met in the US. Viji is from Bangalore and Khalid grew up in Bombay.

When I asked Viji to send me some pictures to see ourselves at the wedding, always a pleasure, as well use them for a blog, I did not expect to receive 7000 of them! Khalid was very helpful in suggesting: 'Stop the slide show and copy the picture you want!'.

It was a tough task as many many of them are absolutely fabulous. I had set a target of using just one percent of them and stuck to it. I hope I have been able to give you a glimpse of the wonderful time we had.

To me this was the defining moment, a daughter overwhelmed by the love and care she has received all her life and especially the support she received now.

There were many good speeches at the wedding and I had thought the speech Nizar's mother gave earlier at the sangeet was one of the best I have heard from a parent, but Ayesha was no less and just blew me away. It was special.


Another significant moment was the wedding the day before! It was artistic at the same time simple and deeply moving. I have no way of comparison as this was the first Nikah we attended

The bride and later the groom walked through this avenue and so did we! Just walking through transported us to a different world.

While the chanting by the men sounded almost vedic the shrill sounds made by the women to ward off evil was different.

The pavilion was breathtaking

While we wait

Viji helps Ayesha to settle down

Soon the both the families are seated

There was a brief introduction by the offciating Mullah about islamic weddings and ways. Then Nizar spoke to the father of the bride seeking permission to marry Ayesha and thus annouced to the world his love for her and his promise to cherish and take her of her.

Nizar is pensive as Khalid speaks to Ayesha recommending that she accepts his proposal

And she says 'I accept'.

Nizar crosses over the partition !

It was a moment where I am sure every eye was moist as mine was!

They sign a register and they are married!

The day prior to the wedding was mehendi time and also for singing and dancing

We went on a river cruise

Glimpses of the Sangeet. There were speeches and exhibition of talent from both parties and all were winners:-)

The mehendi begins at home.