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…

Ranthambore … and the man who knows his tigers.

Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan, India is a melding of hues, tones and associations. Amber, beige, puce, khaki, alabaster, butterscotch, camel, chamois, celadon green. Cinnamon, cloves and cocoa. Copper and cordovan. Splashes of apricot and bittersweet. Chartreuse and maize. The greens are mostly faded, dusty, subtle. Tiger sightings are a game of chance. There are…

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of women, many influential and recognizable, some not; and include past work from the original series as well as some unpublished photographs.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…

That Wedding There

The name of a self-styled wedding, in the village of Hanumanahalli, in Hampi, in Karnataka, That Wedding There is the reason for the Hampi visit; two days celebrating a wedding and two days of exploration. Getting to Hampi is either air + road or rail + road and the Hampi Express from Bangalore is an…

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…

Wisdom for 2015

It was a serendipitous meeting on the banks of the Tungabhadra river, in Baba’s Cafe. Baba himself was present, but I later discovered he was just ‘passing through’, even though his visit might last eight months or more. I am from Manali, he said, and was willing to talk. You are a long way from…

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…

Innocent, wounded, yet trusting

On a sunlit shore, seemingly nowhere in particular, framed by palms and blue skies, within thatched enclosures, lulled by the continual boom and ebb of waves, there is a little hub of passion and devotion where little babies struggle to survive and grizzled men lovingly tend to the wounded, the resting and the trusting. This…

A beautiful Friday morning …

It was a rare convergence : a beautiful morning, clear skies, sunshine chased by a rippling wind into ‘shadow and seek’, the beginning of a weekend and an hour to spare. Carpe diem is my resolution for 2014. And so, when I find myself traveling alongside a lengthy, glinting stretch of silver fringed by green…

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…

The Ties that Bind

In a world that is getting increasingly smaller and diverse, what are the ties that bind people with peripatetic lifestyles ? It is the essence of family and friendship – universal ties that endure as a mesh of remembrances and experiences (much like a piece of intricate embroidery), created or recalled by a meal, a…

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…

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…

Highland and Island : Malaysia Getaways

The ideal location for short (and long) getaways, Singapore must probably offer the widest choice of holiday destinations in the region. A visit to Kuala Lumpur should extend beyond urban, retail and downtown preoccupations; and according to the travel brochure, cool ‘Highland Resorts’, a few hours drive away from KL include Genting Highlands, Cameron Highlands,…

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…

Beyond Ah Meng : Asia’s only – and fast disappearing – great ape

In Singapore, the Singapore Zoo has chosen the orangutan as its flagship species and oversees one of the world’s most successful orangutan-breeding programs. Orangutans, for most of us, are a must-see at the Zoo, and if they are not saved from extinction in the near future, a Zoo could well become the only place to…

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,…

Kuala Lumpur of the Senses

For a weekend, or three (or more) days of self-indulgence and excess, Kuala Lumpur beckons with every kind of luxury. Thirty five minutes by air and exactly four hours, door to door, if your destination is the Kuala Lumpur City Centre; and it is dusk and you stand in awe beneath Cesar Pelli’s soaring, magnificently…