Saturday, October 22, 2016

Solo Trip To Chokhi Dhani

When a post on a trip made earlier this year takes so long to appear on the blog, it has clearly been a bad year for blogging. The bigger challenge in writing this post was the photos. I'm not exactly a photo friendly person and find it quite daunting to transfer, organise and upload photos to make a decent post out of it. I have been working on this post - one step at a time - to put this together. 

I have been out traveling by myself on work. But this trip is special since it was planned solely for fun/leisure with no work involved. I was in Delhi earlier this year for a coaching conference and decided to give Chokhi Dhani a try since it is close by and was unexplored. After almost missing my flight, thanks to the Delhi traffic, I made it. Since it was off season, I was bumped to some royal suite. And as you can see, I was the queen of the space for a night. It's soaked in tradition in every element around - not just the room but read on to see where else. 

The suite at Chokhi Dhani - traditional with modern amenities

The view from the room

The attraction is the village built around the concept of local, traditional life in Rajasthan. Low mud houses and figurines of local people doing different tasks are made around the resort. 

Life size figurines depicting everyday life at Chokhi Dhani

The actual village that opens at about 6pm and goes on till 11pm. There are traditional dancers and musicians, puppet show, games, acrobatics, shopping arcade (called Kalagram), restaurants among other things. 

Feeble attempts with my iPhone in the dim light 
The paintings strewn across the campus only serve to keep the art form alive. I am told that all of them are hand painted. 

In one of the huts in the village, an old lady was actually cooking bajre ka roti on an old style chulha and giving in leaf bowls with garlic chutney and a little jaggery with the roti literally dipped in ghee! It felt like a mother feeding her kids with the same love that probably families shared before they went nuclear. A couple of people just sat there and asked for more! The taste was truly divine! Fresh and hot!

There are so many pictures from the trip that brings back lovely memories!

Paintings on the walls
Mud huts that double as guest rooms
I think such places are really great and should be patronised. In the ever changing world where western influences and modern conveniences are taking over our live rapidly, Chokhi Dhani preserves the world of tradition. It is a must visit at least once. Going around the village, watching so many traditional dance forms, listening to traditional music and the man made mud huts felt like living a slice of life the way local people live. 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Are there perfect gym clothes?

Although this is how popular culture portrays women look in a gym, the reality is quite different. (Photo credit)
My first experience buying gym clothes was around 2008 when I moved to Mumbai. I learnt that working out is a common thing in the city. Delhi, where I lived before this, does not have a gym at every corner and I had never imagined I'd ever be going to one in my life. But when I started gaining weight a few months into my marriage - well! everyone does! - I decided I should join a gym. And since my spouse worked out for a decade since college and still has the evidence of it, he was my best guide. (Although by the time we got married, he had started traveling quite a bit and his gym membership was more of a donation to the facility without actually using it)

I remember going to Shoppers Stop near my place and buying clothes, shoes etc. While working out in the gym - and a couple others after the first one - turned out to be one of the most boring things I have done in my life. I also went through more rounds of shopping for gym clothes. I gave up typical gyms a few years ago and now I workout at this awesome fitness place that has a new workout every day to keep the challenge going.

And no, no one on our class looks remotely like the people you see on Yoga CDs or even Monica Geller who worked out in her stylish training bra and a jacket! The place I workout in isn't exactly for spandex covered, tank topped chicks. It's a normal people, unisex studio and where butt covering modesty is preferred. We are all seen in long, boring T shirts and on most days half of us are in grey. And that's exactly what set me thinking. And also the fact that despite multiple rounds of shopping and trying to learn from previous mistakes, I still don't think I have the perfect clothes, let alone remotely stylish.

I've had all kinds of gym clothes. From loose T shirts to the right size. And in all kinds of fabrics. And during my last trip for gym shopping, I realised there is so much of technology out there now in terms of fabrics that promise to be soak up sweat in an intense workout. (sorry if 'soak' reminds you something else. Couldn't make this sound any better). Not wanting to waste a lot of time window shopping, I went to the website of the mall to find out where all the gym stores are. Thankfully, they happened to be on the same floor. Armed with my list of places, I stepped out.

To cut the long story short, the bigger the brand name, the more expensive their stuff. I did end up buying a super expensive T shirt which is meant to be great for workouts. When I actually wore it to fitness class, it was shorter than I'd like it to be. I'm not happy when I raise my hands up or do side bends - so much for big brands! Another brand had the most funky looking but equally uncomfortable range of training bras - no, the price tag did not seem to factor in the discomfort. I strongly recommend that these big brands run a survey and actually ask women what we find comfortable and actually want in out work out clothes.

I finally went to a quite popular brand and brought all my stuff for the price of that one T shirt! I am good to go till my next round of experimenting to get it comfort and maybe style too. Do you think gym wear for women can be comfortable and fashionable? Going through all the brands that promise both hasn't been encouraging for me. I'd love to hear what you think about this.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

As A Man, I Am Pissed!

Women seem to be at war with men! (Photo credit)
As a man, I am quite pissed. A lot pissed actually. The world seems to be all about women, suddenly. No matter where I look - online or offline - I see this movement of support groups for women to emerge out of their traditional roles and become independent. I know Feminism is about breaking the shackles that bound women and not attack men. But in the popular culture that's what's happening. The support for women is turning out to be just male bashing. From #NoMoreManels to #ShareTheLoad, every campaign seems to be against men, rather than pro women! Let me explain what I mean.  

The first thing that gets my goat is this whole new revolution around talking about periods. As a man, I don't see what the big deal is. It's just that time of the month as far as I am concerned and I stay away from cranky women. But if women want to go ahead and discuss the gory details, I don't mind. But why drag men into it, I say. Every other online chat religiously brings up, "But do men know about periods?" or "Do they bother to find out about what we go through every month?". Excuse me! Women are the ones who hide it like it's a nuclear weapon. It's like the first rule for a girl who gets her periods - Don't tell anyone. Especially men! So how the hell are men supposed to know! And if we read up online and try to support women, they themselves are scandalised by it. How many of you actually tell us that you have cramps or PMS instead of hiding behind the generic - I am unwell - excuse? And if women have just started talking about it all, how the hell will men know about it already? Or have a conversation around something that's so personal to women?

Women want to win any which way! (Photo credit)
Look at the ad campaigns on TV! Every one wants women on their side! #ShareTheLoad! Sure! We never said no! But after being taken care of for 3 decades of my life, do you expect men to change overnight? No one expected me to work around the house and now men are evil because their wives take care of household chores. Trust me! We have tried helping out. But more often than not the women folk at home are afraid we wouldn't be as perfect as them and don't let us do stuff. We don't mind helping around. Give us a chance to get used to it. We may not easily glide into the role of a care taker as women have as bread winners. 

And coming to working women - Fathers or spouses have never had any issues with them working! Has anyone asked us how we feel about it? My job is to earn for the family. And if women have to go through the whole getting back to second careers, it is because men don't have the apparatus to have babies or mammary glands to feed them! Maybe, we would have loved to take a 6 month break and nurture for the young ones! But God knows nature never gave us that chance. Instead we have to leave pieces of our heart at home because we aren't granted leave. And come back to a mess after a hard day at work and help out through the night as best as we can. Because we also love and care. We can't go through it for women, but we do feel the pain! 

Another example of pro-women movement gone anti-men is #NoMoreManels! Doesn't that sound more like banning men than making space for women? We have no problem sharing space with lovely ladies. And it's not our fault that there aren't many around! Similarly the whole debate around changing surnames after marriage. We have never forced you to change your name. It's either been societal norms or your own wish. And if you ask me, I'd happily take the name of my spouse since I love her! And I don't understand how could you claim to love your spouse but hate taking his name! That would endanger your identity as if it's just so fluid! You women are indeed strange beings! 

Have you considered how hard it is for men like me! Some of our travails have thankfully been documented earlier. But it's only becoming harder for us to survive in what's rapidly becoming a pro-women world. Just yesterday I was at the McDonald's with my boy. And this lady ahead of me who was with her daughter took offence because the staff told her that they have only one toy for girls. And she blew her top as if it was a crime! I agree that denying a kid a toy on the basis of gender is very wrong, but the quizzical expression on her little girl's face only showed me the future my boy is going to grow up in. I can see her growing up scoffing at men and demanding her rights even at food counters! 

And for all the trauma inflicted on men through the disruption in women's life, I think women create more problems for women. They judge like men never do! Why don't you work? Why do you sit at home? When will you have kids? Why isn't you're house clean? From cleanliness of the house to the kind of mother/wife you are, women judge everything! Men never do that! We try our best to keep you happy. And we are also trying hard to change ourselves and match up to the surge of women power that's turning our world upside down! 

I have poured my heart out about the few things that came to my mind. Patience, ladies! We are with you! Make us partners instead of opponents! We can conquer the world together!