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Archive for November, 2006

Puckering Up? Take Care…

8 Votes | Average: 3.5 out of 58 Votes | Average: 3.5 out of 58 Votes | Average: 3.5 out of 58 Votes | Average: 3.5 out of 58 Votes | Average: 3.5 out of 5 (8 votes, average: 3.5 out of 5)
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Lip careWhichever way you look at it, lips are undoubtedly the most sensuous feature of the human face, next to the eyes. The way in which they can twist into a smile, the quiver that shows that a person is moved to tears, the small quirk of amusement that a man can interpret as encouragement from a woman, all these gestures make lips invaluable in our everyday expression, not to mention intimacy and relationships.

For of course, in these areas, lips play an even larger role. If you had any doubt, just look at all those ads for lipstick with gorgeous models being held in brawny male arms. In fact, the latest lipsticks are even being advertised as ‘kiss-proof’ - you can kiss him, but your lips will still be purple, or coral, or mauve, whatever colour you had on. If that colour was what attracted him to kiss you in the first place, so much the better. But in fact, overly made up lips, with a perfect application of outline colour, inner colour, gloss etc. tend to seem like an exquisite dish of ice-cream never meant to be eaten!

However, the reverse of such over-grooming of the lips can have a more disastrous effect on one’s attractiveness, and kissing, and this applies equally to men and women. Lips that are peeling off skin, or chapped and bleeding convey a seriously sad image (read loser!). They may be the result of your not having the time to run a comb through your hair. But in today’s competitive and fashion-driven world, you are never meant to cite lack of time as the reason for lack of grooming.

Music, Nostalgia and New York

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MusicThe song ‘New York Nagaram’ from the recently released Tamil film ‘Jillundru Oru Kaadhal’ starring real-life couple Surya and Jothika is currently producing waves of emotion in me every time I listen to it (and my daughter complains that it is enough times in a day!). It is as if AR Rahman’s oddly assymmetrical song, with its clarinet interludes, whispered feminine chorus, and Rahman’s particularly evocative voice, is touching deep reaches of my soul without my being able to understand it!

For of course, the truth is that because I was born far from Chennai and had already completed my education before I came here, I have only a spoken knowledge of Tamil. The beautiful nuances of thought and emotion that I presume this song contains, are out of my immediate understanding. And yet, the song brings up pictures of the nearly twenty three years I have spent here - the largest chunk of my life. I can well imagine what Tamilians in distant New York must be thinking when they receive an audio or visual reminder of ‘home’. Music has the ability to conjure emotion like little else, and tunes that make one think of people and places one has known and loved are very special indeed.

So why should I be experiencing nostalgia for Chennai, when I still live here?  

The answer is what many of us living in this country of so many different languages and cultures, or this world of so many different locations and climates, know first hand. Of course, we can adjust to life anywhere, and get used to the rhythm of any new place. But every time we are displaced, what we think of as ‘home’ begins to acquire a fictional, fantastic shape in our minds. For so many years, as a permanent resident of Chennai, I have experienced deep pangs of nostalgia for everything connected to my former ‘Hindikaran’ or North Indian status. From Bhelpuri to Urdu shairi, from kajri, thumri and dadra to Bollywood ditties, I have felt very far from the influences I grew up with. Recently, at a Farida Khanum concert in the city, I felt this cultural isolation very strongly. Although I was surrounded by friends and people I knew, there were none who appreciated the language of ghazals, or any who could hum along with me to the ones I was familiar with. 

Love being Single? Think Again

4 Votes | Average: 3.75 out of 54 Votes | Average: 3.75 out of 54 Votes | Average: 3.75 out of 54 Votes | Average: 3.75 out of 54 Votes | Average: 3.75 out of 5 (4 votes, average: 3.75 out of 5)
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Love being singleA lot of my friends prefer to be single, even the married ones let out a nostlagic sigh recalling the times when they were not bonded! Sometimes, they needed the gentle reminder on why they chose to marry in the first place…some would get lost in deep thought, while others remark…”Well, I needed someone to go home to”.

That is the key statement. A recent CNN IBN’s Living it up show did a survey on how young working professionals spent their after work hours. Most of them, the show discovered, do not like going back to an empty house, with most living alone in the cities they work.

They head to some happy partying at the popular pubs and head home in the late hours of the night, hitting bed long past the healthy bedtime hour. The partying which is expected to be a stress buster actually creates havoc when it becomes habitual and addictive, affecting sleeping patterns and eventually productivity and focus. The happiness and the relaxation is temporary and can have adverse effects in the long run, is the finding of the survey.

Foods to Turn You On

12 Votes | Average: 3.25 out of 512 Votes | Average: 3.25 out of 512 Votes | Average: 3.25 out of 512 Votes | Average: 3.25 out of 512 Votes | Average: 3.25 out of 5 (12 votes, average: 3.25 out of 5)
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StrawberriesThe animals had been sworn to stay absolutely celibate on Noah’s Ark. ‘No sex, and absolutely no kids’ was the motto on a ship that was meant to survive the flooding of the whole world. If Noah’s collection of creatures had multiplied, how long could the ship have stayed afloat?

So the flood waters abated, and as the creatures were walking off the Ark, in pairs, Noah and his wife smiled and blessed them. Out came a pair of camels, then a pair of elephants, a pair of giraffes, then a pair of zebras and so on. Right at the end walked out the tom cat, followed by his wife, and three of the sweetest, cutest kittens that you could ever imagine. As Noah and his wife looked on in horror, the tom cat winked at them and said, ‘Bet you thought we were fighting!’

Some species seem to be sexier than some others. That tom cat and his wife were able to keep sex on their minds even in the most challenging of circumstances. So are some foods sexier than some others? What should we be eating to put some pep into our sex lives? Aprodisiacs, or those nutrients that are supposed to increase our libido or sex drive, have been around from a very long time. Every culture has recommended its own version of sexy foods. Gingko nuts (whatever they are!) are famous around the world for their aphrodisiac qualities, and their poorer cousins, walnuts, also get a mention in the ‘Aphro Oscars’!  

Around crowded metro rail stations, it is not uncommon to find a poor vendor with a bed sheet spread before him, on which all manner of curious dried herbs and roots have been displayed in small heaps, besides oily potions in bottles. These are touted to give a boost to a flagging sexual appetite, and improve sexual prowess. Whether they find any takers or not, the belief that we can enhance our sex lives through what we eat and drink is fairly widespread and universal.

Who Wears the Pants?

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Changing gender rolesRecent results in the US elections have finally shown that women are within sniffing distance of power and governance in the world’s only superpower. With Hillary Clinton seeming to be a front runner as a Presidential candidate in 2008, and Nancy Pelosi as Speaker, women are being seen and heard on the American electoral stage in a much more evident manner than ever before.

In India, such things are past comment. We have been governed for over 11 years by a woman prime minister. And it was not only Indira Gandhi who left such an imprint on our politics. Mayawati, Uma Bharti, Jayalalitha, Sheila Dikshit…there are plenty of women politicians, doctors, policewomen, pilots, scientists and social activists in India. We don’t need the West to remind us that women are capable of anything that men can do. Women are already in the forefront of every activity.

And yet, there is a visible resistance to women gaining more power, both within and outside the home. This is visible on the one hand, in the instances of dowry deaths and cruelty towards women often reported in the papers, and on the other hand, in the resistance to the bill for a greater representation of women in parliament. Even in the most educated middle-class homes, it is not uncommon to find parents showing partiality in how they help and support daughters and sons. Daughters may be overlooked when it comes to inheriting a parent’s professional practice - instead of being given a professional education, they are ‘married off’. Or an undutiful son is treated with utmost affection right up till the age of 50 or 60, while a dutiful daughter is treated as if she has no right to return to the parental home, no matter what difficulty she is in. Such subtle forms of discrimination bedevil our families and society, and make a mockery of the concept of real equality between the sexes.