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Friday, 12 December 2014

Flawless



It is any girl’s dream to be offered free make up lessons by beauty experts. Glam was invited to partake in a personal session with Bobbi Brown’s Regional make up artist, Diana Kohvtova. The Serbian make up magician as I nicknamed her, has been with the international brand for close to a decade. She offers make up lessons to customers and faithful clients who want to learn the art of wearing their make up correctly.

Over the past month the brand has introduced highly customised complimentary makeup lessons to show women that makeup should be simple, real and accessible. At all Bobbi Brown counters, expertly trained artists are available to teach women how to find the right colours to accentuate the eyes with a “Classic Eyes” lesson or how to easily create standout eyes with a “Smokey Eyes” tutorial, using new Sheer Brights Eye Shadows. Every lesson concludes with the creation of a personalised face chart to help women recreate the look at home.

In order to render the entire Bobbi Brown experience, we were first invited to a one hour yoga session. This is in keeping with Bobbi’s keenness on healthy living. Her philosophy is one where she believes that women should look and feel their overall best, inside and out. The yoga class, held at Urban Yoga in Dubai’s Business Bay, felt like something out of a travel brochure. The two-floored space had natural sunlight pouring in from all corners. Perched on the 37th floor of the building, and decorated with stunning images of people in various yoga poses, instructor Kate, who knew there were first timers among us, didn’t rush any of her new students. It was an hour of immense satisfaction as a big spread was soon set for the attendees who got a chance to get to know the Bobbi Brown team over dinner.

The next morning we were at Bobbi Brown headquarters in Dubai Mall, where a one hour personal session was selected to carefully understand the art of make up application. Diana spent a few moments analysing my skin and informed me that I need to drink more water. Now that is not something I didn’t know. She adds that it would be pointless to use any amount of moisturising lotion, if I didn’t back them up by keeping myself hydrated. As we discussed make up techniques, I tried to pin point the common concerns women have when it comes to their make up
egiments.

“What is your make up routine,” asked a smiling Diana. I had no well-constructed answer. Most mornings I’m too busy running out the door and dabbing on lipstick while I’m stuck at the traffic light. Of course I didn’t admit that to her. I did mention that my routine on most days, was rather informal and ad-hoc in nature. I find it easier to take care of my skin at night using a toner and moisturiser. The one thing I try to avoid is sleeping with make up on. After a few pats on the back for the right answer it was almost as if Diana opened up a candy store of colours and brushes. She explained how each brush is made for a specific purpose. Thanks to Bobbi’s vast knowledge of not just creating pretty products, but actually going a step further to promote a feeling of wellness, each product is made with a clear attention to the wearer’s satisfaction. For example, the brand has just reintroduced the iconic foundation stick with a fresh and modern take on nude skin. When it debuted in 1992, Bobbi’s Foundation Stick revolutionised the beauty industry as the first-ever skin tone correct foundation on the market. 22 years later, the new formula features a multi-layered transparent base that allows for optimal skin matching with skin-tone correct shades.
What is particularly appealing about the brand is that it doesn’t appear to cater to just the celebrities and super models out there. The products have been tried and tested by all kinds of women who are its biggest supporters.

As Diana carefully selects colours that she knows will appeal to me, I understand that she too imbibes the same philosophy. She uses the Smokey Eye technique to offer a day look that is suitable for a day at the office or an evening outdoors.

“The brand is not just about make up, but also has revitalising skin care using natural ingredients,” explains Diana. After using a face serum, she applies

a hydrating face cream to my skin. This is then matt-ified (or given a less strong effect) using a brush. The hydrating cream boosts the collagen in the skin. It is mixed with cleansing oil which helps get rid of dryness. I am told this is the basic skin care regime. “Of course you must not forget to use lip balm which is perfect to apply before using lipstick or going out in the sun.”

She then checks my skin tone to offer the right foundation which should not appear too bright or too off balanced. It’s the perfect time for me to understand how women who don’t have the luxury of time can
go about looking their radiant best. She says, “Once you’ve learnt a few techniques, it doesn’t take too
long to apply make up.”

To my utter disbelief she uses a ‘golden’ shade foundation for my skin. It is not a shade I would have
selected on any given day. Remarkably it blends into my skin. I mention that a lot of people are
looking for a one stop solution when it comes to a foundation. They prefer one that has a reasonable
sun protecting factor or SPF. Another eye opener is that the eyebrows and not just eye palettes play as
much a part in the overall look and need to match the hair roots. These are enhanced with an eye shadow palette. She ends by selecting a Rouge a Levres lip colour which is outlined with a lip pencil.

As Mariah Carey’s ‘Beautiful,’ plays in the background, I can’t help feel a transition in not just how I look but also how I feel.


Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Cover story - an interview with Kalki Koelchin

It is not every day that a celebrity from Bollywood responds positively to a request for an interview across the miles in Doha. Not when the actress is about to release a star cast film and on the heels of a myriad projects. I considered myself fortunate when Kalki Koechlin agreed to an exclusive interview for Community.
Surprisingly, the voice on the other end of the line was friendly and totally unpretentious. “I’ve never been to Doha yet, unfortunately,” she said, “Of course, I’d love to visit. Who knows maybe we could come to promote a film there soon.”
Kalki isn’t like other celebrities who sometimes let stardom get the better of them. Her story is one that sets her apart from the crowd. For starters, she doesn’t have family ties or connections that would make it easy to land the laudable roles she’s been acquiring on merit.
Born to French parents, who have lived in Pondicherry, India, for more than 40 years, Kalki speaks Tamil as fluently as she does French. She says, “India has always been home.”
Perhaps, it is her unconventional looks that landed her a debut rolein the film Dev D in 2009. But there was no mistaking the enormous talent. After playing the role of a prostitute in the film, she was later told by the filmmaker that other contenders had overdone the part during the audition, where as she was the only one who understood the role in its entirety. She won a Filmfare award for Best Supporting Actress for the film in 2010.
Kalki has trained in drama and theatre at the Goldsmiths, University of London, where she also worked with a theatre company called Theatre of Relativity for two years. She admits London was a place that she really didn’t quite fit in. She isn’t Indian but didn’t behave like a typical European, so couldn’t be pegged in to any stereotype.
Kalki continues to work on stage which remains a passion. She co-founded Quaff Theatre, a theatre group in 2008. “I’ve just finished a couple of theatre shows in Delhi, last weekend. I love it,” she says. She has four plays running in the Indian capital and keeps a grueling schedule.
For Kalki working on her latest release Happy Ending — out last week — was a lot of fun. “It was great to work with Saif,” she says. Released by Illuminati Films, Happy Ending is directed by Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK. The film also stars Govinda, Ileana D’Cruz and Ranvir Shorey.
“I am playing the role of a crazy obsessive girl, who chases Saif’s character and quite can’t comprehend that he wants to break up with her,” says Kalki who admits that she is happy to work on comedy.
Despite a stream of successful films in what is known as parallel cinema she says, “It’s not like I have decided to merely work on dark subjects,” she laughs. “I would like to work on a whole range of cinema.” And indeed, in a relatively short but promising career, she already has.

In her capacity as a well-known personality, Kalki has openly spoken her mind and isn’t afraid to approach complex yet pressing issues. She has discussed child sexual abuse and even worked on an anti-rape video which went viral with more than 150, 000 views in just two days.
Making no qualms about her success, the 30-year-old actress adds, “I don’t know if I’m really trying to do anything different. I’m just trying to take up roles which interest me. I try to stay away from anything that’s stereotypical and too predictable. For me, a role is exciting when I get surprised by a character or a story.”
Kalki does not want to restrict herself to certain roles.
“I want to do all kinds of films. I think you can still be original even if you are making a commercial film. You don’t have to make only independent cinema. You can make good commercial cinema also,” she emphasises. One recalls her role in Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani, where she plays a rebellious college girl, who later gets married to someone who seems like her complete opposite.
An unusual role for Kalki in a film which has not yet been released commercially but already received rave reviews is Margarita with a straw. The film is one in which she plays a differently-abled girl with cerebral palsy, who discovers her own sexuality.
Kalki is believed to have insisted that she remain in a wheelchair throughout the length of the shoot to remain true to the character. Describing the film experience, she says, “That was awesome. It was a chance in a lifetime. Very rarely do we see a female protagonist playing the role of a disabled girl.”
There aren’t too many films in India that deal with subjects of this nature. Playing the part accurately she explains, “was really a lot of work with a lot of training involved. I did a workshop and I was trained for six months. But overall, it has been a great experience for me.”
How does her family see her current avatar?
Kalki’s mother is her biggest ally and, like most mothers, her harshest critic. “My mom is probably the more critical one in the family. She encourages me to train more. She thinks I should do more writing because I’ve been a writer since I was a child. They are very proud that I’m doing what I love. They watch all my films and enjoy them,” she explains.
Kalki has scripted a number of plays and even co-authored a film with director Anurag Kashyap. Will she direct her own film someday? She doesn’t feel it is the right time. “I don’t think I have the technical know-how as yet. It is something I would really need to learn. I love story telling. If in the future that happens it would be great, but right now, I don’t have any set plans to get into that aspect of films.”
She is about to embark on another big film as we speak. “I’m starting a film called Waiting and stars Naseeruddin Shah. It’s an interesting script about people in waiting rooms of hospitals.” The film is based on the story of two individuals who are waiting in the hospital watching their relatives suffer in coma. The two are aimless but it is the crisis situation that creates a bond between them. Though the subject is serious as the two struggle to find an aim in life, it is being said, that the story will be treated with humour. When I mention that it resembles the play, Waiting for Godot, she agrees. Working with a stalwart like Naseeruddin Shah is daunting for the actress even though she has worked with him in the past. “It is scary, I have to prepare well,” she laughs, nervously. Something tells us she has another hit already in the waiting.
This interview was conducted just ahead of the release of Happy Ending on November 21.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Totally Taiwan

When I first landed in Taiwan, I didn't realise I would be entering a world where the people are actually refreshingly pleasant.
It has been a welcome change to meet people who aren't too shy to greet you with delight.
A fellow traveller was embarassed when a Taiwanese acquaintance hugged her tightly and squealed with delight when she noticed a familiar face among the media present at an event. We are unaccustomed to wearing our feelings on our faces.


The people here don't give a second thought and automatically offer a wide smile if you offer one in return. I've tested this more than once in the elevators and the streets of Taipei. A gentleman was counting down the floors with his young son and they grinned when I made small talk and offered to share names in broken English.
Somewhere along the way, the rest of us have forgotten common compassion for fellow beings. It doesn't surprise me that Taiwanese people choose to live, for the most part, fairly simplistic lives. The rush of the streets aren't interspersed with relentless honking. People aren't yelling in the streets or knocking each other off the sidewalk in an attempt to be the first in line. 

There were a few vendors at the night market who were unncessarily rude for no reason other than the fact that they wanted to make a quick sale. They can be forgiven for dealing with relentless hours of haggling customers.

 
True, I've not yet spent too much time here yet and I guess I can relish the fact that I'm the gullible tourist. But when the general public goes out of their way to call us 'beautiful' no matter how unkempt one may appear, there is a feeling of warmth that fills your soul and stays with you, long after you've moved on. 

The breathtaking view of  the serene Sun, Moon, Lake as the sun rises over the mountains.


Monday, 17 November 2014

Will get by with a little help from my friends.

Creating a page at the behest of my dear friend who is getting, (to use his own words) forgetful.

These are the times that seem like only a few moments ago. We were young (er), more carefree and somehow didn't have as many errands to run as we do now.

Who can forget the times Satish took a one hour train ride from Charni Road to Borivali, just to sleep in the A.C. room at Betty Apartments.

The time we had a party in the house and all the boys were keeping us locked out of the said A.C. room. Jean Saldanha had the ingenious idea to shut off the main electricity switch forcing everyone to come out of their pleasant cool room.Only to be locked outdoors when the lights were turned back on.

I have a lot more stories to write but deadlines are pulling me in another directions. Do implore you to share your anecdotes here.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Act of violence

A few weeks ago, my cousin suggested we watch Mardaani, the latest movie staring Rani Mukherji. Having viewed a few of the posters of the film, I presumed it would be all too violent. A woman trying to become a man to survive. Rather reluctantly I found myself buying tickets to the show and yes, I was right, the film was violent. But what I also saw on screen was a woman who was thankfully not trying to cut her hair and look more like a man (Rani has donned a role of a male in the past and flopped miserably) Won't blame you if you don't remember her role in Dil bole hadippa.

This movie was different. A slick production, a relatively new cast. There were scenes in this new film that had me cringe in my seat. Some of the revenge was of course predictable as with most Hindi films. Apart from all the regular bits were moments of complete helplessness carried out with acute depth. I'm no Anupama Chopra but in my view, the film broached a lot of uncomfortable topics in a modern Indian woman's life. The lone battle for justice. The threats from goons.

Though Rani did a convincing role, I didn't buy the idea that a woman officer like Rani could exist in today's real world. I hope I am wrong. Perhaps the film director is putting it out there like fodder for the masses. That women may take up these tough roles. We ought to. But don't get me wrong, I'm not for a moment suggesting we take up guns and go on a rampage.
That's the point in the film where I felt a little sensitivity was needed. One cannot take the law into one's hands. It is simply wrong.

The villain was also a refreshing role played by a newcomer. He didn't have oodles of make up and still had dark moments at many points in the film.What's more he was an average middle class guy. With a sinister hobby.

Why does this warrant a blog post, you may wonder. I am not just a writer but also a mother. For me violence towards children is particularly bothersome. It should ideally bother more people but we aren't so worried about the most vulnerable in our society. It horrifies me to know that children are bought and sold without a second thought. Their innocence denied. Their very existence questioned.

What could mere mortals like us do? Well, we could speak up. We don't need to resort to violence but yes we could let our voices be heard. So what if you haven't given birth to a child? I don't have the answer.

Perhaps like the ALS ice bucket challenge we can come up with something creative to generate publicity on sex trafficking. Wishful thinking. I bet ice bucket challenge haters thought so too. At last count, the drive had collected a significant amount in donations.

We can do a lot. All it takes is determination.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Summer escapades



Most people try the detox route. They will flush out their negative toxins in their system by eating and drinking clean for a stipulated amount of time. To me, a holiday is the perfect escape from monotony. A way to recharge my batteries. Add a live concert of some of the leading music legends of all time, and the mix is a heady concoction that provides an adrenaline rush like no other.

Seven year old Daniel, puts down his thoughts on what has made this Canada holiday memorable. I think I should follow suit. There are about a million wonderful emotions that cross my mind. Reading Daniel's progress report from his short swim course is one of them. Gathering the family and seniors and singing at Jackie and Ajit's house is another. Simply spending time with my sister and her wonderful family probably tops the list.

I've enjoyed watching the young cousins get to know each other. The sound of their laughter, play and complaints fill our ears. It reminds me of my own childhood days, playing in the houses of my aunts and uncles. Your cousins are after all your first best friends and foes. Browsing through the photographs of this trip puts a smile on my face. It makes all the hassle of the visa work, worth it.

As we reluctantly pack our bags to head home, there is sadness that the holiday is coming to a close. There is also the looming dread over the mundane-ness that will meet us on the other side. Oh well, all good things must come to an end. One can hope that the next break will be just as memorable.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Ahlan wa sahlan

Renewed and re-energised. Not only did we have six exciting days in Jordan -- we had them to ourselves. Just the husband and myself. Almost unbelievable. Nights under the stars. Watching the sunset. Fighting over inconsequential matters. Basking in the comfort that this alone time is temporary.

Why must couples with children have to explain that they need some time to themselves? Do we give up that right the moment we don the role of parenthood? While my children merrily go on about their own holiday in the embrace of doting grandparents and family members, I find it hard to shrug off the guilt of separation.

It is remarkable how every smiling child has the power to remind me of my own children. It took a seven year old Bedouin boy just a moment to win my heart over. Never mind that his mule, named Micheal Jackson was equally amusing. Three year old Anna, with her precious smile and innocence reminded me of my own little princess.

Being alone sometimes isn't all that its cracked up to be. I mean all alone. There are only so many pedicures you can do. Even 'How I met your mother' gets repititive. Once back in mommy land, I know I will have endless fantasies of an ounce of peace and quiet. For the moment I'm just waiting to for those hugs of reassurance that only my own small persons can provide. 

Image: The stunning Monastery at Petra carved out of rock. It looks even better as the light changes. Believed to take 800 steps to reach, mules often help those like myself who can't take the heat and the climb all at the same time. The view of the majestic Monastery is a reward in itself.