New York Fashion Week | Recap of September 13, 2012 Shows

New York Fashion Week | Recap of Sept 13 Shows.

Credits: The Chic Daily.com, Ami Sanghvi

It’s not “Gawd”… open your jaw wide to say, “God”!

Or, again, it’s not “Dawg“, but a jaw-wide-open “Dog”! Again? O, Gawd! Oops, sorry, Oh, God!

A long time ago, Hima Devi – a graduate of Trinity College, England, taught drama to kids at ‘elite’ schools in Mumbai; she also trained them for ‘elocution’, improving their pronunciation, diction, grammar, reading skills, etc. While reading Sam Roberts’ Unlearning to Tawk like a New Yorker, I was transported back in time, into my classroom at middle-school.  Appalled by our diction then, Hima Devi’s rasp cut through our reading session. Her outburst shocked us… a bunch of 24 kids. We were rather shaken by her voice as it jarred on our (then tender) ears; peeking through her smoker’s ‘voice-box’, her anger seemed magnified even further.

[Adding references to “Hima Kala Kendra” after a search in January 2016! ]

Hima1

Hima 2

Of course, after all these years, I searched for references to Hima Devi on the internet. I think she was quite a lady… in a class of her own… very elegantly turned out, always! My search lead me to this 30th anniversary issue of India Today.

Bhanu Athaiya

It seems that Bhanu Athaiya, costume-designer, and winner of the Academy Award for ‘Gandhi‘ (Richard Attenborough’s 1982 film), once lived with Hima Devi. Hmm… now that’s interesting. I would read the article, “Lost and Found”  in India Today – July 03, 2006 issue.

This issue of India’s # 1 magazine at one point, has another interesting Cover Story, “Golden Moments”, and as used to be the case when I read this magazine fairly regularly, several other facts and figures, which make interesting reading. However, now India Today seems to sport a new look; I wonder if it continues to lead news stories, or if it follows the media maxims of our new era. Ouch.. tweet, tweet!

Well, after all this, I’m still searching for more information on Hima Devi… Amazingly, in cyberspace, there’s so little information available about someone who contributed so much to the theater world. Furthermore, towards grooming school-going kids to enable them speak with finesse… an attribute that often defines an individual’s persona!

But, hey, for all Hima Devi fans, here’s a photo, courtesy Bruce Bayley of UK… how could I possibly forget to mention that  Hima Devi, besides being a theater doyen, also expressed herself through dance!

Shrimati Hima Devi

Thank you, Mr Bayley, and I do hope you will not take offense to this reference. 🙂

Getting nostalgic… about New York City

Soon it will be a year since I left New York!  As spring creeps up here, I’m beginning to miss those day-long trips to NYC!

Aching for a change from the wintry whites and suburban life on Long Island, my escape to Manhattan with its urban cityscape used to provide me with all the forms and colors I needed to satiate my visual senses! Here are some random images from my ramblings in the Big Apple.

What jumps out from my tag cloud?

Fly’n’ Past Flickr…

Flickr… alas, I seem to have drifted away from here… this past year.

In the war against Al Qaeda, how will the US cope with rebellious local youth!

Billions of tax dollars are spent by US to wage a war against terrorist groups outside the nation. But then a young man from Long Island, New York, travels all the way to Afghanistan, receives training from Al Qaeda, then plots a terror attack over his home base, then goes on to confess… who and what should the American people fear more?

The anger and terror lies within the common people of the US. The reasons may be varied… frustration about the status quo, ignorance, prejudice, poverty, skewed perceptions, unreasonable expectations of life…

It’s odd though… people from other parts of the world have thus far believed that Americans have it all… with no reason to be frustrated, that they are all rich, beautiful and smart! The irony of it all… and now in the present downturn, we have already heard of how these pent-up emotions of frustration and anger of the unemployed can take shape!

“As Indian Growth Soars, Child Hunger Persists”… a comment

Yesterday, a friend wished to post a comment on the much-discussed article that made the headlines in The New York Times. Some readers thought the article was newsworthy, others expressed their furore over the skewed perspective, and yet others posted counter-comments. The following is one which was written, but was not published, since all comments were being screened by the newspaper.

March 13, 2009 2:33 pm
In response to Editor’s selected comment # 167:

Editor's Pick of Interesting Comments
Editor's Pick of Interesting Comments

“Glad to hear your husband visited India. However, am amazed at the one-sided observations: Of the four months he spent there, he saw “people simply cut wires to hook into the electrical grid… “: Did he pay a visit to the electricity Bill Payment Centers (especially in the major metros), where there are long-winding queues of men and women, who do take time off from their work, or from lunch-hour to go pay their bills?
Daily power outages do not prevail in all parts of the country.

A woman who “stands up for herself” would be killed; yes, while Indira Gandhi stood up, she was “killed”, no doubt… but that has been not just her fate, but the fate of many leaders (in India and even in our part of the world and elsewhere)… incidentally, Indira Gandhi was India’s Prime Minister (stood up not just for herself) for several terms… of course she had ups and downs, but that’s history. (I am not particularly her fan.) The point is there are several strong women in the history of India – both, on the political front, as well as in every household in the country. The current President of India is Mrs Pratibha Patil, a woman – educated and an accomplished sportswoman.
Despite the high incidence of the infamous female infanticides, if women were so easily killed (as your husband may have observed), India would not have such a high population (over a billion) and the ratio of women to men is certainly not low at 930 women:1000 men. It is not as “simple as that” to kill women in India… incidentally, a woman, who (almost) could not read nor write, was even leading one of the largest states i.e. Bihar, as their Chief Minister
(circumstances notwithstanding) – and a totally male-chauvinistic state at that.

You’re right about the tax evasions (even among the ‘elite’ and people in power), hence the advertising to “beg people to pay their taxes” comes as no surprise. Even Rabri Devi’s husband was chased by the Income Tax Officials a decade ago.
And here is the very same Rabri Devi… almost an illiterate, happily married (not forced into it at the age of 14) who is the mother to 7 daughters (no less) and 2 sons… who has the “wisdom” and “guts” to comment on the ‘historic’ budget.

You’re right in drawing attention to the hospitality of people towards your husband, despite their poverty. Tourists and visitors (especially the fair-skinned) often have a fan following of poor kids and street urchins, in cities (or at touristy attractions) smiling and laughing around them, begging and chasing them for just a pencil or pen, while their tummies are probably growling with hunger.

Well, the whole point is the government certainly can do much, instead of filling their own coffers. It’s not enough to throw your hands in despair and say, “where do we begin”… Education is not an “impossible luxury”. The government can provide incentives to those who are educated, to teach or provide a basic education to just one other poor soul. Instead of having to scavenge from garbage cans, those who do have homes, could have just one homeless child come around everyday for one small meal – provide two rotis or a bowl of rice with a vegetable (or soup). In fact, come over to learn your ABC’s (K, Kh, Gh), learn the basics of hygiene, and grab a sandwich, for good measure! It really isn’t too much… many families waste and throw away so much food after every meal, that they can well-afford to part with a sandwich a day! How do you think those garbage cans get filled with wasted food that putrefies in there… followed by epidemics of diseases. So, the bottom line… no, the government has to take a lead, and so should those who have been blessed with far more than they can enjoy in their own lifetime… as their “giving back to the community”. They spend loads of money building schools for the rich and elite (so with their IB diplomas they can apply to schools in the US or UK). Those families are charged steep fees (no different from private schools here). How about schools in rural areas with nominal fees – a buck a day – nothing fancy, just the basics at least? Yes, they’re probably hoarding that for their future generations. Well, the future will take care of itself, if the present is provided for… even partially. Please follow my comment #206. India is a land of paradoxes (clichéd). Your observations may be true, but there is certainly another side. Something must be done to resolve the poverty issues… soon! Thanks.”


He wanted to be a “Quant”…

In the late 90s, my close buddy quit his well-paid job of ‘research scientist’ with a leading oil company. He wanted to be a “quant“. Lured, not by the money; that would follow (and plenty of it, although not quite as much as the obscene figures that Wall Street traders take home), but by the sheer mathematical elegance (I recall him using those very words way back then), which this new career would allow him to dabble with.  He spoke of the subject with a passion that sounded more like a woman’s dreams of luxury, silken sheets and Manolo’s!

His previously earned doctorate in hydrodynamics from M.I.T. was a mere starting point. He immersed himself in studying tomes of finance books – disciplined and motivated enough to “self-educate” himself on the subject. When he spoke of ‘vanilla’ or ‘exotic’ it had little to do with flavors of ice cream, or the fjords of Scandinavia. He pondered long over what he considered hot’ topics at the time – derivatives, futures, swaps and options – and seemed lost in a world of numbers!

To be honest, it was with immense difficulty that I had grasped the math entailed in regression analysis, linear programming and autocorrelation, towards earning credits for o-r and econometrics… in fact, I’m still fuzzy whether my present state is a result of “statistical error” or whether it may be deemed as a fitting error“. 😉 Random, or residual – why care! Instead, speaking again of my friend… when he first mentioned ‘modeling’, my brain – then skewed towards advertising, was farthest from ‘mathematical modeling‘. When he spoke of inverse problems my thoughts drifted towards micro-economics, juggling personal finances to fit month-end needs. Not in my wildest imagination could I have considered derivative pricing, or financial engineering.

Well, now as we approach 2010,  I can hardly pretend to have turned into some finance whiz, comprehending the jargon of Wall Street. Call it fate, or destiny, the events in the early years of this decade somehow did not allow my buddy with an opportunity to work as a ‘quant’ on Wall Street… something he had so deeply desired, and for which he toiled and sacrificed much, but which somehow eluded him.

Talking of predictions, futures, recent market volatility, financial debacles and gargantuan tumbles in the world’s financial capital, I am secretly thankful – at a personal level – that a perceived “failure” in finding a suitable position turned out to be a boon in disguise. For the past several years my pal has again immersed himself in science, and research towards what I consider a noble cause, and which, in my opinion, deserves far more genuine respect than what he would have earned through his computational genius on Wall Street.

Good luck to all those who have done well in their selected field, playing a clean, positive role, even in what is today deemed a maligned world, but which will undoubtedly rise again. When money begins to flow freely someday, hopefully sooner rather than later, memories of present times will fade, of that there’s no doubt, I’m afraid.

Ad Agency layoffs

In Spring 2008, when I referred to layoffs at marketing companies and ad agencies, some smart alecks scoffed at my words, merrily mocking me and my writing. Numerous people holding jobs then dropped pearls of wisdom… “Network, get yet another degree (since my MBA does not seem to cut it), or better still, change your profession“. Some even went as far as suggesting I change my personal [‘Look’ and ‘Feel’]… like I was some website that was long overdue for a total makeover!

Of course, last March, Bear Stearns, believed to have been firmly parked at 383 Mad Ave in NYC, was only just beginning to teeter…  we all are now privy to its change of address… they’ve moved permanently to the annals of financial history. At the time of their big move, the formal announcement of a recession that had already been three months in the making since December 2007 was at least three seasons away! It is highly unlikely then that A&M agencies could have been insulated, impending announcements notwithstanding! However, only those who were laid off, and those who never got  hired — despite job postings that continued to appear (to ostensibly lure fresh, “experienced” talent) — would have gotten a whiff of the hard times to follow; obviously, the rest of the world was happily oblivious to the latent harsh effects it was already beginning to experience!

Long before birds herald the onset of spring, you may have heard (and read) twitters about ad agency layoffs. Think back, the frequency may have been rising since mid-December 2008. Now why is that? It’s because that’s when the US government formally announced that the recession had already set in since December 2007! Looking back now, for 12 months this recession had stealthily taken its toll on jobs, home sales, the fate of companies and on families that depended on these organizations – directly, or indirectly; or even on retirees who lived off their fixed incomes! Wow, so now that it was official, it was okay to openly talk or twitter about how much even the ad agencies were hurting.

You just have to read the compilation of all the twitters (14 pages as I blog just now) to truly gauge the severity of this situation. If that’s too much work, especially considering you may be looking for work, take a look at BNET’s mind-boggling layoff numbers… including ad agency, media and marketing layoffs, ever since the recession started. These will show you why you’re meeting with little success in finding a new job. Or that if you do still have your job while your colleagues have been shown the door, why it’s no time to be smug… the pink slip may likely be well on it’s way to you! Perhaps it’s time to consider another field, go to school and acquire a new skill… and while you’re working on that resume, remember also to go for a makeover on yourself… I’m just sharing those pearls of wisdom I’d received from the mavens on Mad Ave!

The layoff counter keeps ticking.
The layoff counter keeps ticking.
No stopping to this counter's ticking!
No stopping to this counter's ticking!
The Twitter since December is getting louder in Spring '09.
The Twitter since December is getting louder in Spring '09.
When will the Twitters end?
When will these Twitters end?

Hats off, to all those brave job-seekers in Manhattan!

“Wow!” said the cabbie in Gotham, and “Oh wow!” sez I, sitting at my desk after watching this video of gutsy New Yorkers. But for the video caption, I’d have wondered, “Who are all these people waiting in line outside the Sheraton Hotel on 53rd St in sub-zero temperatures!”

In contrast to the expected turnout of about 2000 job applicants at the Job Fair on 24th February, over 5000  applicants showed up! Including a few men but mostly women, they all waited their turn patiently outside the hotel in a long winding queue, until they could meet one or more of the 40 prospective employers that participated in the event.  With resumes and their portfolios in hand, donning business suits, here they were braving not only the bleak weather, but perhaps steeling themselves against looming possibilities that they may well have to consider even entry level positions, if at all… Most were mid-career applicants with numerous years of solid work experience and talent and these are tough times even for recent graduates! I learned later, there was another job fair at the Radisson Martinique in Midtown Manhattan just days before this one… thousands showed up, but with little luck.

The stock market reflects the goings-on in the job market… today, the scenario was even more alarming than last week. Did all those seeking employment at the Job Fair last week meet with success?  At this point, hard to tell… many of them were requested to apply online! It has the ring of “Don’t call us, we’ll call you”? Perhaps it is the 21st century tactic adopted by foot-dragging clerks-posing-as-hiring managers from companies who must at least pretend they’re not going the penny-stock way.

Frankly, at this stage, I fail to understand why companies e.g. AFLAC or even Home Depot would hire more people at this stage; or for that matter Sovereign Bank!

In the past year, AFLAC stock value has dropped by over 78%, and last January the Chairman magnanimously  turned down his $2.8 million bonus for 2008, not to mention even some of his $26 million “golden parachute”. But it seems some folks who have attended AFLAC’s “training” sessions say they’re hiring in every state; apparently, their hiring practices reek of a pyramid scheme! Hey, this is hearsay (I do not know this for a fact since I have absolutely no affiliation to them one way or another.)

Again, less than a month prior to their participation in the aforementioned job fair, Home Depot announced 7000 layoffs, on grounds that dismal sales had hurt them. A month down the line they would set out to hire a new set of people, eh, is that how it works? I find it really hard to digest such information. Likewise, “1000 to be laid off”, indicated the announcement from Sovereign Bank (in their effort to lower costs)… just weeks before Christmas 2008; then they are displayed as prospective employers at a job fair the following February? What in the world is going on? Dangling carrots in front of hopeful (and sometimes desparate) job-seekers… without any qualms whatsoever!

I’m afraid to further research all of the companies who may have been actually present at the Job Fair… to confirm whether or not they recently laid off hundreds or thousands of employees. Only those who waited out in the cold that February morning can really tell their story. Those who are still awaiting responses to their applications, submitted in-person or online, may have another set of tales. Yes, and I’m also thinking of all those who were laid off by these companies and who may now learn that their past employers are hiring again! What has become of them… are they also waiting at other obscure job fairs, or knocking on the doors of some recently laid off employee posing as a hot recruiter?

It’s such a shame, these shams… boy, what a scam!

Sham, or Scam?
Sham, or Scam?

What shall I write about… New York, or Mumbai?

Not just my fingers, but even the cells in my brain seem numbed by this wintry cold. Yes, the last time I tried to write was on January 1st but, ironically, poodwaddle seems to have stopped ticking for me since then. Could it just be writer’s block? Well… I’ll soon find out.

Today, after almost ten years I read an old column penned by the late Busybee –  It has made me a tiny bit nostalgic… about Bombay. The crossword puzzles in The Afternoon Despatch & Courier were fun – although they were ‘no-brainers’ if compared to those in the mainline daily – The Times of India, they were fun to solve while taking a ‘tea-break’ at work (but actually sipping on an iced lassi) in the comfort of the office and cool a.c.!

“Mumbai”… yes, for centuries, the hoi polloi have always referred to now-also-known-as-Maximum City as [ˈmʊm.bəi] especially when spoken by a Gujarati, Parsi, or a Maharashtrian. The “-bai” should be pronounced to neither sound like “buy” nor to rhyme with “chai“, however warm or inviting that may sound (whenever referred to by the anglicized media – especially news-readers, or by the la-di-da of 21st century India ‘Inc‘, or Bollywood‘)… puh-lease, eeks!

Busybee’s column dated May 20, 1997 was a satire on how to beat Mumbai’s heat on sultry summer days; some of his cool ideas… (#6) have Parsi Dairy Kulfi (now that’s close to my heart and what once was close to home); (#5) Drink Fanta; (#13) Open the refrigerator door and stand in front of it; (#32) Sit in the Taj lobby. Look like you’re waiting for somebody important who is staying at the hotel [Alas, that option must be ruled out since 26/11 (another “yikes”… now, more for the reference to the date – how unoriginal can the media get – because such a nomenclature speaks of their buzzing – rather than for the actual horror of the sad event)]…  some of these are bound to bring at least a hint of a smile on a true Bombayite. Read his column (again), if you like.

But like me, if you’re looking for ideas on how to stay warm – especially with the heating boiler gone kaput since the past few days here, or to save on energy bills, read on… Farzana, if you happen to read this, please pardon me.

1. Go away to Malaysia (Far-East), Argentina (South)

2. Go to India… fly Air-India

3. Do go to work… if it’s no longer at Wall Street, go to Blimpie’s or McDonalds… food joints must always have heating… even if you’re not eating, or can’t afford to

4. Drink hot tea, ginger tea, or green tea… it doesn’t have to be at a Starbucks… forget the big bucks; buy a bag of tea leaves from a desi-grocer at the Indian market, and the ginger at the Asian grocer’s around the corner

5. Eat Dates – lots of them… home-grown in California, or imported from Oman in Muscat (if you can find those)… oh, I meant not their location on the map but in stores

6. Go watch Slumdog Millionnaire at the cinema… stay warm in the heat… so what if Indians have cried out aloud and condemned Boyle for the slur with his reference to a cur for his recent Oscar-winner’s nomenclature

7. Take a ride from South Ferry to Staten Island and back… it’s free… walking around Manhattan looking for work can get rough; don’t be hard on yourself; take heart by taking a break

8. Don’t always wait for the ice to melt… get online, get chatting, and get into Facebook

9. Spring is a month away but you can Twitter… ain’t that tweet?

10. Wall Street is pummeled and indices down at 1997 levels… is the heat up, or do you still feel left out in the cold?