Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Fiery Orange

In other news, Delhi is disgustingly hot.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Going home...

I am going home on Friday - it's my parents 25th wedding anniversary and ingrate that I am I wasn't planning to go home at first. Plus, I had other commitments around then but they have been pushed back and my mother's guilt tripping made me change my mind. Anyway, I'll be in Delhi for a week! Yay! I am so looking forward to it - mostly because I really need a break. The last two weeks have been insanely busy and if nothing else I need sleep - and free weekends. And comfortable warm spaces. And sleep. And did I mention sleep? Anyway, I plan to take a lot of pictures. And to eat a lot. And basically make the most of the week.

* Photo above is of home. My sister made that purple lamp! No point to this information, but still.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Researching Islamic banking at work led me via the wonderous ways of the internets to the above cover of a-rab magazine. You can read the articles and see some of the other awesome art work here.
The Intifida U.S.A t-shirts are pretty awesome too.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Eligible bachelors, perfect men and the like

Slate attempts to explain the Eligible Bachelor Paradox:

The problem of the eligible bachelor is one of the great riddles of social life. Shouldn't there be about as many highly eligible and appealing men as there are attractive, eligible women?
Actually, no—and here's why. Consider the classic version of the marriage proposal: A woman makes it known that she is open to a proposal, the man proposes, and the woman chooses to say yes or no. The structure of the proposal is not, "I choose you." It is, "Will you choose me?" A woman chooses to receive the question and chooses again once the question is asked.

It was quite hilarious reading the article because a friend and I were discussing the exact same thing yesterday night over dinner. (How we got around to this topic I have really no idea!) And then last week a couple of us were having drinks with a professor of mine from college and in the midst of some really random conversations and revelations I would have been much happier not to have known, the same topic (again I have no idea how) had come up with my professor saying that it was always the woman who makes the choice and that men really didn’t have much say in the matter. On the whole he was wondering why his wife had chosen him and mostly marveling at his luck.

The idea of the woman choosing expressed in the proposal is a resilient one. The woman picking among suitors is a rarely reversed archetype of romantic love that you'll find everywhere from Jane Austen to Desperate Housewives. Or take any comic wedding scene: Invariably, it'll have the man standing dazed at the altar, wondering just how it is he got there.

Anyway, this is what I found interesting:

In this auction, some women will be more confident of their prospects, others less so. In game-theory terms, you would call the first group "strong bidders" and the second "weak bidders." Your first thought might be that the "strong bidders"—women who (whether because of looks, social ability, or any other reason) are conventionally deemed more of a catch—would consistently win this kind of auction. But this is not true. In fact, game theory predicts, and empirical studies of auctions bear out, that auctions will often be won by "weak" bidders, who know that they can be outbid and so bid more aggressively, while the "strong" bidders will hold out for a really great deal.

TAP and I were having one of our mad conversations a while back and had a good laugh over the article. (He thinks there’s an eligible bachelorette paradox which is being ignored here). I don’t even want to bother paraphrasing so I’m just going to channel TR here.

[4:13:04 PM] Szerelem says: you know I fit the behavior of a strong bidder totally
[4:13:28 PM] Szerelem says: only you know its a catch 22
[4:13:33 PM] Szerelem says: what if im not???
[4:13:41 PM] Szerelem says: then im not over bidding and am screwed
[4:15:35 PM] TAP says: or, you're *not*
[4:15:38 PM] TAP says: which is worse
[4:15:53 PM] TAP says: so you think you're conventionally deemed more of a catch, eh?
[4:16:52 PM] Szerelem says: no
[4:17:15 PM] TAP says: but you just said...
[4:17:17 PM] Szerelem says: im saying i behave like one
[4:17:24 PM] TAP says: ah
[4:17:24 PM] Szerelem says: even if im not
[4:17:32 PM] Szerelem says: so if im not - which im not - im screwed
[4:17:49 PM] TAP says: OR
[4:17:53 PM] Szerlem says: ??
[4:18:03 PM] TAP says: you're just thinking too much about the double negatives
[4:18:09 PM] Szerelem says: whatever

Whatever is right. I’m happy enough with all those men with chiseled features and intense brittle personae and of course that other fellow who I told TAP (only like half joking or something - I mean Pamuk is really cute also) is my ideal man. Only to get the snarky reply “So your idea of the perfect man is a 55 year old, preferably with moppy hair, old fashioned glasses, who lives in his mother's house, is dreamy and writes in long hand, and has preferably won a Nobel prize?” Duh. Yeah. Who needs real people anyway?

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Monet's Giverny

Monet's Waterlilies

Today as the news from Selma and Saigon
poisons the air like fallout,
I come again to see
the serene, great picture that I love.

Here space and time exist in light
the eye like the eye of faith believes.
The seen, the known
dissolve in iridescence, become
illusive flesh of light
that was not, was, forever is.

O light beheld as through refracting tears.
Here is the aura of that world
each of us has lost.
Here is the shadow of its joy.

Robert Hayden

I couldn't help but marvel at the timeliness of 3QD posting this poem by Hayden. I had been meaning to post pictures of Monet's garden in Giverny in any case, but reading the poem, I guess, precipitated that. The poem wonderfully describes the joy of looking at Monet's beautiful paintings but reading it I felt, not surprisingly, that it wonderfully described the experience of seeing his gardens (still beautifully maintained) at Giverny. The experience was almost like being inside one of those wonderful canvases he painted.

When I visited, it wasn't water lily season quite yet. The flowers were just coming into bloom and small lily buds dotted the pond. It was somehow, not very strangely, a familiar sight. But there was also the mad riot of colours, fragrances, reflections. It was a completely different world. Beautiful, comforting, strangely pristine.

There's nothing I can say to give a sense of what it is like to be there. Here Monet's words themselves seem apt. "Non, je ne suis pas un grand peintre, grand poète. Je sais seulement que je fais ce que je peux pour exprimer ce que j'éprouve devant la nature." I am not a great painter, great poet. I just know that I do what I can to express what I feel in front of nature.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Something seems fishy

Balıklar, Karaköy Balık Pazarı, İstanbul

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Nostalgique pour Paris

News of Jean Nouvel winning the Pritzker Prize immediately made me think of the Institute du Monde Arabe and of course of Paris. It’s a pity I don’t have a better picture of the Institute’s building for it is truly stunning, a mix of gorgeous arabesque panels offsetting the harsh square shape… “one of the “grand projects” commissioned during the presidency of François Mitterrand. A showcase for art from Arab countries, it blends high technology with traditional Arab motifs. Its south-facing glass facade, for example, has automated lenses that control light to the interior while also evoking traditional Arab latticework”. And then of course there’s the Seine in the background

So, yesterday I suddenly found myself thinking of the time I spent in that building and then of the lovely cozy café at the Paris mosque, right behind the Institute, which still accounts for the best mint tea I have ever had. It was a well spent afternoon that, learning much, and then stuffing myself with over sweet baklavas and the sort. Later on in the evening, I was sorting through files and started looking at photos from Paris and it just seemed so, so long back – the first of many travels that followed. I traveled to Paris alone on my fathers first class ticket – he had won a single ticket in a golf tournament to Frankfurt and his crazy travel schedule meant he would not really be taking a vacation alone. After much pestering that I should be given the ticket and then that, no, I did not want to go to Frankfurt but to Paris, I finally had my way. It was a mad rush before I left … I got my visa in a day – at 4 in the evening. My flight was at 11 at night.

Knowing the language and all the sights, having wanted to visit for eons – it was very difficult to believe that I was actually in Paris once I was there. I was lucky I could stay in Paris for close to two weeks because my cousin was working there at the time. I stayed in her tiny, tiny apartment that seemed to be the perfect example of living in a shoe box. But it was equidistant from the Opera and the Louvre and I could walk pretty much anywhere. I remember I never did figure out how the front door lock worked and was perpetually locked out, wandering the streets before I could be let back in. And there were bakeries all around. I woke up everyday to the smell of baked bread or rather, as I was told, the baked bread spray thing the boulangers used to entice customers early in the morning. Still. Mornings there smelt great.

There was so much to see. So many, many museums – I went back to d’Orsay twice, took an afternoon nap at the Louvre’s Cour Puget (I was in line to get in at 7.30 in the morning and by afternoon was so tired from just walking within the museum, so exhausted from looking at all that there was to see…), was most amazed and amused at all the kinky people who seemed to materialize out of nowhere the moment the sun set at the Bois de Bologne, almost got mugged at Pierre Lachaise and listened to buskers at the Place des Vosges. And that’s not even mentioning gay pride and Live 8. Oh, and there was this three story high Zizou poster on Champs-Élysées because he had just announced his return to the national team. So pretty. As were all the jardins.

Having limited funds, I survived mostly on baguettes and cheese. And lots and lots of coffee. Though there was also the best couscous and the softest lamb I have ever eaten at Chez Omar. And the ridiculous sweet explosion at La Durée. Omg, the macrons. Gosh, I want to go back for so, so many reasons. There was so much I didn’t see and do and eat. Paris isn’t my favourite city in the world but it’s a very, very close second.

* I also think I take much better pictures now and I'd like to go back if only to take pictures of the city of lights.