Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Friday, August 26, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Thank You #15

What do you do when life gives you lemons?

Inspired by thxthxthx.
Concept, photo & design by me

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Monday, August 15, 2011

Happy Independence Day

A very Happy Independence Day to all Indians.

I recently learnt a whole lot about the History of India.
Stand up for your country.

my Vir Das tickets.
It's a stand up comedy show by Vir Das.
I don't remember the last time I laughed so hard and learnt about my country at the same time.
Maybe because that's probably never happened.

I learnt about our great kings - Babur, Humayun, Hrithik Roshan, Jehangir and Shah Jahan.
And so so much more.

I highly recommend his show. I watched it with my family. And however inappropriate his jokes were, my mother was still very impressed with him. So, he's doing something right.
You may have also seen him in Delhi Belly (hilarious!) or Badmaash Company (was that also one of his jokes?).

Anyway, today being Independence Day, I'll leave you with a little video of our National Anthem that they play at some theatres before a movie.
It's the one sung by the cast of Rajneeti.
Go Bollywood!

Katrina Kaif (centre) seems to have just come directly from her botox appointment to shoot this song.
Plus you can't see her teeth. Scary right?

For full effect, watch in full screen mode.

See you next month.
Keep in touch via Snailmail or Postcards.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Thank You #10

I'm going on a holiday tomorrow.
It's also the reason for my special Thank you to my passport.
I'll be back in September full of stories of my travels.
Till then, I'll be posting a bunch of Thank You notes while I'm away.

So everyday feels like Sunday.


Inspired by thxthxthx.
Concept & design by me
Photo by Akshaya.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Discovering the Lonely Planet

World Metro Map by Alan Foale.
Traveling is the love of my life. And there's nothing more that I want to do at this point in my life.
I have such a long list of places I want to visit. 
To Rio to see Christ the Redeemer.
To the Arctic region to see Aurora Borealis.
To Italy to see Mt. Vesuvius. The Discovery Channel made it look amazingly amazing.
Or even Timbuktu. Just so when anyone asks me Where are you? I can say In Timbuktu.

Do you know where Timbuktu is?
It's in Africa.
But, that's one place that I'm not so keen on visiting. Only because you need to take a couple of shots before going there. Now, how could doing that make you feel all Yay! about your holiday?
Which is why I never understood how people travel to India.

I remember listening to the Boney M song By the rivers of Babylon while growing up and thinking Babylon sounds like such a cool name for a city. I thought someday I will go there. And then I googled it and found that it's in Iraq.
So, maybe not.

I just realised how every place on my wishlist is not in India.
But, that's only because I've seen so much of India already. I went on all the camps in school and went to all corners of India. I actually am not even sure of how many places I've visited.
I've been white water rafting in Manali.
Pretended to see tigers in Bandhavgarh.
Seen the Taj Mahal in Agra and wondered why it was so yellow and how in the photo it's so white.
Been to colourful Rajasthan 2 or 3 times. But, didn't get the 'Oh my God! look at the colours' feeling that most foriegners do.
Visited Khajuraho when I was 12 and thought sex was a funny thing.
Sailed to Lakshdweep on a ship called Tipu Sultan where I had to shower in a 2x2 feet prison-like cubicle. And visited different islands everyday where we were greeted with coconut water and saw colourful fish swimming around us in the clear blue sea.
And so many more places.

I love my parents even more for letting me experience all this.
there was...
  • The traveling and sleeping in a 3 bunk non-AC train in my blue sleeping bag while hoping to not fall off my bunk which was also randomly fun.
  • Just like the spoonfull of brandy that was given to us at night to keep us warm in the colder cities which was like our teenage bar night. Wohoo!
  • And those childish camp crushes which lasted for 10 days.
That was the life!

I pretty much saw most of India this way.
And having covered so many places there was nothing left on my places to see wishlist except Baroda.
Now, you may think 'Why Baroda?'
Well, when I was little, I thought Baroda was Abroad.
I think my mind was just set in Anagram mode for a while.
And around that time my sister even got me to believe that Kannada was the national language of Canada.
Way back when I was innocent (and stupid).
Luckily things have changed.

It's not that I don't like traveling in India. I love the motherland. I just wish we as Indians could maintain everything we have (which is a lot) and make it worth seeing.
I remember going to Ajanta - Ellora caves when I was 10 and I just couldn't understand why my school had taken us there. Was it to see I love Tinku, Bunty, Pinky and the rest of the Indian family carved out onto the paintings?

And then to add to that, the pollution makes holiday photos look so saturated. Unless you cheat and adjust levels on photoshop. Or actually do something about it.
But, when you travel away from the cities, I love how the colours just pop in the pictures.

by Muji (via Swissmiss)
When I think of my travels outside of India, I somehow always associate it with food + drink.
Oolong, Pu'er and Lychee Tea in China.
Apple tea, dolmas, white cheese and goat's milk icecream in Turkey.
Gelato, gelato and gelato in Italy.
Sangria and Tapas in Spain.
Dessert and cheese in France.
Shawerma in Dubai.
In Nepal I only had a cup of regular milky tea. Since I crossed the border and was there for just an hour.
Chocolate in Switzerland.
Everything in London.
And Amsterdam was all about Strawberries. I was 5.
But there were exceptions.
Bangkok was about wearing my Leonardo DiCaprio T-shirt. I was 12.
And America was all about the shopping and underage gambling.

I love holidays. Maybe not planning them.
I love going far away. But not the jet lag.
I love taking photos. Not practising using manual features.
I love dressing up on holiday. Not packing it all in.

And most of all I enjoy turning into currency converter and time difference calculator.
It brings out the travel geek in me.

Cushions by My bearded pigeon.
Here are my tips for planning a great holiday:
  • Bring out the Kalnirnay to plan holiday dates. I check for good and bad days to keep my mother happy.
  • Don't drive down anywhere. I don't enjoy drives that last more than an hour. I'd rather just start enjoying my holiday asap. My friend actually drugged me once so I wouldn't complain while driving from Bombay to Goa (with what I thought was an anti-throwing up pill). Thanks Mallika.
  • Book the cheapest and quickest flight. I hate flying. I'm lean and mean but no flying machine.
  • Check hotel reviews on tripadvisor.
  • Or book hostels on They're as good as hotels.
  • Get full itineraries made by someone who was kind enough to write and post them online.
  • Use Google a lot. Don't worry, it won't feel violated.
  • Pack light. Don't carry extra shoes. You can buy flip-flops even in a supermarket.
  • And take lots of photos and capture every moment. Because your mind may explode trying to hold in all that beauty.
  • And when photography is not allowed, buy postcards. Or be shady and take photos when noone's looking.
So much to see. So little time.
But, what a time to be alive!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Click click

Camera cookies by Manjar.
I've been trying to practise my photography with my awesome crew (family).
And somehow my house has turned into my photo studio and we've sort of run out of locations.
Doing recce generally takes about 2 minutes.
But, I enjoy it all the same.

Here are a bunch of pictures that I love by different photographers.

A picture is worth a thousands words.
But, don't worry I'll keep it short.

The pictures have nothing in common really, so I've created a connecting theme. Let's just call it My Tips for a great day.
There's something to learn from every picture. It's all about how you look at it. Or in this case, how I look at it.

Do the walk of life.


Have a nothing is impossible attitude. Defy gravity.
by Lauren Randolph.
Finish what you started. Enjoy your meals.
by Stacey Newgent.
Be lame. Bring out the child in you.
Back to the future.
Party with P.Diddy. Yes we can.
Awesome People hanging out together.
Look at the stars. I'm sure your day will be truly out of this world.
Astronomy Photo of the Day
And maybe tomorrow you can go to the beach. And reflect on the awesomeness that we call life.
by Kunal Gagwani.

Happy almost weekend.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Make a wish


the one who greets me every morning with a Guten Morgen and every night with a Gute Nacht

inspires me each day to be anything I want to be

who once made me do what I thought was giving a butter massage to a chicken

and turned me into the cleanliness freak that I am

who never stops giving directions while I'm driving

has the cutest pronunciation for jacuzzi

is more with the times than even I am

and gets cooler with every passing year

the one who makes the best apple strudel with all her love (read sugar)

the life of every party

who strikes a pose everyday when she gets dressed up

She calls me her mother-in-law for reasons I choose to ignore

But I call her Aai, my grandmother, my love.

Happy Birthday meine liebe.

P.S: the chicken massage was meant to be a roast chicken lesson.

"You're Next"

Saptapadi by Atul Dodiya.
When someone says "You're Next", what do they mean?
You're next for what?
To join the circus? To go to 'The Island'? Or in line to fight with a customer care executive?
Please hold the line.

Well, In India if you're about 20 years old, it means you're next in line for marriage.

Now luckily for me, this infamous line was only thrown at me at the age of 26 since my sister was kind enough to only get married this year. All these years she was the target for questions like "So when are you getting married"? And this was asked by people who she'd meet once a year. Is it because most Indian's don't possess good conversation skills?
I found it to be quite funny till recently when I realised how tough it is to dodge such questions while they're being thrown at you. Frankly, it's worse than playing Dodge Ball. And whoever invented that game is plain cruel.

I always think of myself as way too young and with too many other plans to settle down already. And then yesterday I read that Lady Gaga is a year younger than me. And even she calls herself a Lady.
Damn you Gaga. You make me feel old.
Is it time for me to stop using the Girl Label and start pretending to be a Lady?

Sorry Mama
My mother has always been very pro marriage. She always told me that marriage is the most beautiful thing in the world. But, then again, she said childbirth is "Oh, nothing at all". 
When I'd ask her, "But how do you know you're making the right decision?", she'd tell me "You just know". 
I love how those three words make such an acceptable explanation - easy, believeable and at the same time it's still not giving you answers.
Just like fairytales.

I've told her many times about how I want to do so many things and she's always been encouraging. Recently she watched Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and her encouragement went to another level altogether. Thank you Zoya Akhtar
She told me "Neha, enjoy every moment of your life. Travel. You know, once you settle down and have kids, you won't be able to do all these things. Atleast not impulsively. You will have responsibilities which you can't ignore". 
It reminded me of the Amrish Puri dialogue in the last scene of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge where he says "Ja Simran ja, jee le apnee zindagi". Or something like that.
My reaction: Ok, try selling marriage to me now.
And my mother said: Umm... yea so go travel and enjoy (in a softer voice) realising that she had burst her own little fairytale land bubble.

Frankly, I have nothing against marriage but, it just isn't a priority at the moment. I want to travel and explore the world. My mother thinks that all these rebellious thoughts of mine will be washed away as soon as my Prince Charming arrives.

On the one hand I think of marriage like a tattoo. You're stuck with it forever. There is divorce and laser but that's something you'd never want to put yourself through. So, I look at it this way. It's all about finding the right one.
Then, on the other hand, if my husband was something like Paul Newman, I could love him at any age.
No Problemo.

I'm just not a fan of change.
And marriage is a major change.
Do you tie the knot and suddenly feel married and different?
Or does it happen once you've changed you're Facebook Status to MARRIED?
Yes, the 21st Century is funny at another level altogether.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Monroe Zone

Getting older involves waking up everyday and
- counting my greys
- wondering whether to start using anti-ageing creams to prevent my face from looking like a world map.
- forgetting what I was supposed to be doing.

The loss of memory seems to be pretty disturbing, especially since for most of my life I have boasted about having a great memory without ever having eaten almonds. I actually have a problem with swallowing them after chewing them for what feels like a lifetime.

My not-so-great memory these days means I often forget which day of the week it is.

The H&M keychain free with every bikini. Hand model: Mallika.
When I was little, I had a pack of Days of the Week underwear. It made my obsesseive compulsive life seem more complete and made my week feel more organised.
I loved Saturday. And not just because it was the weekend.

Tea Set by Esther Horchner.
It's hard to find a fun pack like that these days.
If you live in India, you have atleast once bought underwear from a man across a counter who uses the words 'Madam stretch' as a sales pitch.

Now, the only time you'll catch me telling a man give me a 35, 36, 39(c) is when I'm ordering Thai food over the phone from a numbered menu.
Anyway, those days are behind us now.

The 21st Century has brought with it a lot of good stores where we can all shop peacefully.
Without being embarassed about a salesman judging you.

I think what you wear always makes a difference to your mood.

The Seven Year itch poster.
One needs to be prepared at all times incase one pulls a Marilyn.
How exactly does one pull a Marilyn?
Well, it happens when you enter a café wearing a frou-frou skirt and forget that there's an air-cooler next to you and automatically fall into the trap that I like to call the Monroe zone.

I speak from experience.
I am the one.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

What are you looking at?

I've been staying away from my computer for the last few days because it's giving me bad backaches. I'm old. Being on the wrong side of 25 isn't easy.
So, after feeling uncomfortable while sitting in front of the computer or even the TV or trying to read a book, I finally moved to my living room and it's dimly lit ambience made me feel bored (and depressed) enough to draw again. Wohoo!

I loved drawing from a very young age. From the time when I'd sing 'colour pencils are a girl's best friend'. And my OCD behaviour made me sharpen and arrange them in colour order everyday. I was insane.
I went from drawing on my blackboard to my backward 'etch a sketch' to chart paper taped to the wall when my grandmother was afraid that the artist in me would go flying close to the living room wall with my watercolours.

So, yesterday, I sat with my Faber-Castell RollerStaedtler Pigment Liner (0.1) and my little sketchbook and tried to make a self portrait from memory. Only because I was way too lazy to go find a mirror.

Here's my drawing - it's a case of 3 brothers separated at birth and reunited at a fair.
In reality, it's 3 drawings on 3 different papers stuck together on photoshop.

me by me.
Drawing from memory always has its flaws.
Do you always see yourself the way the rest of the world sees you?
I have always wondered about that.

When you look in the mirror what do you see?

The first time I tried making a self portrait, it looked only 40% like me.
I wondered what I was doing wrong.
Then I bothered to look carefully in the mirror and paid attention to each feature in terms of shapes, sizes, distance from each other, and how these features create shadows on my face.
I noticed how the ball of my nose is a proper circle and how my eyebrows and eyes aren't as far apart as I had thought.
Each observation has led to a different interpretation and execution which is always fun.

I was looking at different styles and here are some of the interesting ones I've found.

by Michelle Hartney.
by Denis Gonchar
by Samantha French
by Rich Pellegrino.
Anyway, now it's time to do my hourly Doctor recommended exercise.
Or maybe I should do some Qi gung so I can be ready to Hi-Ya!
Even though one is Chinese and the other is Japanese.

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