Writing about Indonesia

‘Writing about Indonesia’ predicates a knowledge of the country, and the panel discussion hosted by Books Actually on March 22nd presented interesting viewpoints from Singapore-based author Shivaji Das (also humanitarian, photographer and management consultant) and award-winning Indonesian author Okky Madasari, currently writer-in-residence at the International Writing Program, University of Iowa. One a visitor and traveler,…

The Singapore Coffee Festival 2017

Baristas and cafes of Singapore came together for a weekend in August, in the expanse of the Marina Bay Cruise Center; two levels of artisanal coffee, tea and bites. It was about conscious consumption, choices, grounded pleasures, wildlife friendly beans, a barter market and an aeropress championship among other things … with balmy winds off…

Everything I needed to know about Saké

Imagine life without alcohol. Civilization would drive us mad. We’re only human, after all. – Michael Hoffman The Japan Prestige Sake Association organised an evening of free-flow saké tasting to introduce various breweries and their premium products to Singapore. (There are over 1500 saké breweries in Japan, with 40,000 to 50,000 different brands). So, at…

‘WOMEN: New Portraits’ by Annie Leibovitz

A part of a project that began over 15 years ago visits Singapore on its global tour. An exuberant and vivid celebration of women and womanhood, these are Ms Leibovitz’s portraits of women, many influential and recognizable, some not; and include past work from the original series as well as some unpublished photographs. The venue…

The Arts House, Singapore

The Arts House More Than Words : A Visual Playground of Chinese Characters A serendipitous visit and a delightful room of eye-popping art. The Hanzi characters of the Chinese language, square block and originally derived from signs and pictures, now find expression in kaleidoscope-like motifs … reminiscent of geometric abstraction.  Millenia-old logograms (signs or characters…

MAD Museum of Art & Design, Singapore

The MAD side of life, a private museum that is both an art space and a modular event venue. The MAD Museum of Art & Design is worth a visit for the quirky, curious and revelatory pieces tastefully curated and exhibited on two levels; paintings, graffiti, sculptures, furniture and the odd this and that. It…

Bikers in the Kitchen

Pan Asian in ITC Grand Chola, Chennai exemplifies a culinary wanderlust, which, if you pause to think about it, is a perfect embodiment of the spirit of adventure you would associate with avid bikers – which is what the restaurant’s Chef and Sous Chef are. Chef Vikramjit Roy and Sous Chef Lambert Chiang, ride captain…

Salvador Dali : Twice in Singapore

Surrealist Salvador Dali (1904 to 1989) ‘channeled the unconscious to unlock the power of the imagination’. His Paranoid-Critical method (the basis for most of his artworks) went further – creating art from a state of self-induced paranoia, putting the artist in touch with his subconscious and ‘systematic irrational thought’ in order to escape conventional understanding…

Window Dressings

London is many things to many people. The ‘retail’ experience is as much the art that goes into seducing customers, as the products themselves. Behind the glass, a city’s edge and imagination comes to play with whimsy and fantasy. The ideas are brilliantly inventive, over and over again, the juxtapositions are quirky and the mis-en-scenes…

Five Star dining with your Fingers

A ‘mega’ hotel that recently opened in Chennai, India, the ITC Grand Chola (the third largest hotel in India), is an architectural paean to the Chola Dynasty, one of the longest ruling empires of southern India. The hotel is contemporary Dravidian temple design a la Chola : four entrances (as found in temples in south…

Luminecse : Art in Glass and Light

The main allure of a Fringe Festival is the opportunity it affords to broaden one’s thinking : the chance to engage with new art forms, stumble upon new ideas, marvel at new uses and depart with a new appreciation for passion, technique and creativity. So it was at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Exhibition, which concludes…

Then and Now

Social capital, passion for conservation, art to provoke, technology to please and ease … issues that have remained relevant over the years. Zero Dark Thirty is being screened in theatres. It is a gripping, nail-biting experience; gut wrenching because it is of the now and you know it happened, or most of it did. It…

Thoughts for a new Year

2013 sounds promising, especially as the end of the world did not happen, and as always, a fresh start prompts introspection and reflection.   End of another year and it is stock-taking time everywhere. The media is awash with articles, opinions, columns and blogs offering much pause for thought. A couple of years ago, I…

Christmas

As people all over the world – secular and religious – observe this most celebrated of festivals; the reality that we are more similar than we are different (and especially at Christmastime) is reinforced by our geographies and cultures. The post-Hallowe’en November-long anticipation has yielded to Yuletide celebrations and menu planning, Christmas parties and Christmas…

A Frangipani in my Cappuccino : Three days in Bali

To visit Bali frequently is to rejuvenate the soul, to escape the glass and steel of metropolitan living to a world governed by exquisite harmony and balance. Possibly, the most easily accessed ‘instant nirvana’ in this part of the world, Bali is undisputedly the Island of the Gods; almost other-worldly in both geography and spirit….

Luxe and beyond, in Singapore, in Sentosa.

John Gay declared ‘whether we can afford it or no, we must have superfluities’ … and so it is on Sentosa; visit and discover your nirvana. Capella, ah Capella ! Give us the luxuries of life and we will dispense with its necessities, goes the well-quoted quote and after a weekend (or more) at the…

The Night of the Orange and Black

On the night of the thinnest divide between this life and the afterlife, when apparitions and spirits freely slink, skulk, stalk and sneak about, bring out the costumes to scare off the demons and carve your pumpkins and light them with candles and make your taffy apple treats.  Two thousand or more years ago, the…

Bon Appetit

Paris 2009 – with friends – a holiday of the senses, an effervescence of food, an exploration of haute cuisine, gastro-tourism, Michelin stars, Michelin guides and just plain ordinary eating. Read on, if you plan to visit Paris, or if you are interested in food. The compact, businesslike (soon to be rated Michelin discovery) Le…

The Manganiyars Seduce

I was taken to a slum in Delhi, a slum of 1,500 families of artists and artisans. As I stepped out of the car, they began singing, children on rooftops, men in doorways, in lanes, everywhere, singing with the hope that their songs would take them out of their extreme poverty; singing, laughing and crying,…

Paris of the Axe Historique and the Hammam

Paris perspectives, Paris then and now; history laid out in a straight geographic line … and yet another kind of Paris indulgence. On a visit to Paris in 2009, Senator Yves Dauge, Sénateur d’Indre-et-Loire, extended an invitation to visit the Upper House of the French Senate in the Palais du Luxembourg. It was a fascinating…

Remembering Wind Shadow

Delivering an unbearable lightness of being – or non-being – with an apocalyptic end (in a maelstrom of green), Wind Shadow was less dance and more a fusion of installation art and kinetics; a visually stunning spectacle sans emotion, sans words, sans context, sans an anchor of any kind. A collaboration between Lin Hwai-min, (Founder…

Snapshots of a Destination Wedding

A Bollywood wedding is the ultimate pageant, and a Bollywood wedding on a Bali beach is the ultimate fusion of culture and stagecraft. They came from all over the world, the guests, from Mozambique and Mumbai, Boston and Birmingham; from Washington, Texas, Singapore, Calcutta, Jakarta and elsewhere to celebrate a wedding in Sanur, Bali, on…

The Metaphysics of Stone

Natural stone, when used as building material in a home – walls, accents, counters, floors – not only reflect the vitality of nature, but also contribute to general health and wellbeing. The preoccupation of purchasing a home and the putting down of roots (serious commitments, these) dominated our dinner table debates till the decisions were…

Art Doctors : Restorers & Conservationists

Singapore is becoming a centre for art in the region, with monetary, historic, sentimental and artistic interests paralleling the explosion of art galleries, exhibitions, festivals, fairs, auctions, retrospectives, biennales and personal and institutional art collections. Collecting art has become de rigeur, but what happens after the purchase ? Is mounting, framing and displaying the end…