Thursday, March 25, 2010

Shut Up And Fasten Your Seat Belt

This appeared in The SA Times on Saturday.

At the ticket counter:
"Hi, here is my e-ticket and I need to check in 2 bags."
"That'll be $40 extra, $20 per bag. It's our new charge in case you haven’t heard. And yours is the middle seat in the last row. Happy bouncing."

At the security check-in:
"Miss, can you take the hood off your baby's head and shake it? Can you take her socks off and shake them as well? We need all your baby food to pass our vapor test so please step aside. And don't look at me like I'm crazy."

At the gate:
"Any chance I can get an upgrade? I am a platinum member."
"No, miss, the flight is full. Next."

On board a 6-hour flight, 10 minutes into the flight:
“Miss, can you please fasten your seat belt?”
“I have. Honestly. It’s hidden under my jacket so you can’t see it.”
“Miss, please I need you to fasten your seat belt.”
“Jeez, do you have x-ray vision?”

On board a 6-hour flight, 30 minutes into the flight:

"Do you offer a meal service?"
"Yes, our options for the day are a cold turkey sandwich for $5 and a crab salad also for $5."
"Anything vegetarian?"
"We had a bag of chips for $3 and a chocolate-chip cookie for $2.50."
"Anything free?"
"Water, orange juice and tomato juice. Oh and there is no charge to use the lavatory."

On board a 6-hour flight, 3 hours into the flight, while going for a stroll to kick off the numbness in your legs:
"Miss, can you return to your seat please? The captain has just switched on the 'fasten seatbelt' sign."
“But I…”
“Thank you.”

These were just routine scenarios if you were a masochist and preferred flying to walking/ driving /swimming. But lately some airlines seem to be getting more of a pain.

On board a 6-hour flight, 20 minutes into the flight:
"Hi, I don't see any magazines in the holder here. Can you please get me some?"
"Sorry, we don't keep magazines on board anymore."

On board a 6-hour flight, 45 minutes into the flight:
"Can I please get cutlery for my $5 cold turkey sandwich? I need to slice the bread off the turkey so I can turn it into a vegetarian meal."
"Sorry, your meal does not require spoons, forks or knives so they didn't come with it. We don't have any extra."
"Does not require? DOES NOT REQUIRE? But I need it."

On board a 6-hour flight, 50 minutes into the flight, watching the guy in the next seat, eating a crab salad and conversing with the air-hostess:
"My fork and knife seem to be really small for the crab pieces. Do you have anything bigger?"
"Sorry, we just reduced the sizes of cutlery to save on fuel cost."
"Are you on crack?"

Don’t give me credit for being funny or sarcastic for these are mere facts. Airlines are getting creative as they look for ways to save fuel and other costs during what is beginning to feel like a here-to-stay-forever economic downturn. Some like Japan's JAL have been shaving spoon sizes and dumping in-flight magazines in an effort to make planes less heavier and save fuel. These airlines think it's going to make a huge difference. I'm sure they've run some numbers to back this decision.

Call me naive, but wouldn't it make more sense if the weight limit for carry-on luggage were to be reduced a bit? Wouldn't that account for a lot more difference than reducing spoon sizes? Perhaps they can impose personal weight limits on passengers. For men, maximum body weight should not exceed 190 pounds and for women, 130. Wait, I see the point... they don't want to trouble the already distressed passenger any more by imposing further limits.

Aaaaah. Never mind. You can always carry your own magazines and your own vegetarian food. Maybe you can carry your own forks and knives too now. Lemme know what happens ;)

Fly high.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Fashion Dissection – Oscar’s Best and Worst Dressed

This appeared in The SA Times on Saturday.

Last weekend was that time of the year again... that time for which the biggest fashion houses in the world burn the candle at both ends for months just so a beautiful body can flash their outfit to hundreds of lenses, that time for which the most popular personal trainers do everything short of making their celeb clients faint on the Pilates mat, that time that makes or breaks personal stylists and image consultants, that time when lipo/ botox/ lip-enhancement/ dermatology/ cosmetology clinics are in full bloom, that time where celebrities undergo maximum public scrutiny and despite what they'd like to believe sometimes go wrong and that time where anyone and everyone with even a semi-decent taste in fashion feels compelled to opine about those unapproachable dresses, just like me. Oh and it was that time of the year when the best talent in Hollywood gets felicitated for their work but that's a minor detail.

Analyzing extravagant dresses is no child's play and one need not attempt it alone for fear of momentary lapse of judgment. So I and a dear friend Manavi were at it from start to finish giving it all we had. Without further ado, here's our collective opinion of the Oscars 2010 fashion.

Of the best dressed list, coming in at #6 for us is the very beautiful Vera Farmiga, the actress of ‘Up In The Air’. I loved the movie, loved the book more than the movie, loved George Clooney more than the book and I couldn’t help loving her. So call me biased but if there’s anyone who can rock an outfit that looks like a giant present or a fan or an origami project with a gazillion ruffles, it is her. The other cutie from ‘Up In The Air’, new kid on the block, Anna Kendrick, wore a ruched champagne colored gown. It was elegant and just right for her. That’s our #5 pick. #4 was Sandra Bullock who wore a sparkling silver fluid gown by Marchesa. Her silky hair paired with red lips was just the accessories she needed. Coming in at #3 is Amanda Seyfried who wore a fabulous Armani strapless gown. Rarely does one get to see such an incredible dress on someone so young. #2 was Rachel McAdams in a pink, blue and green water color dress that crisscrosses at the waist from Elie Saab haute couture. Very feminine and romantic number that she pulled off effortlessly. But Jennifer Lopez stole the show with her Armani Prive iridescent pale pink silk organza evening gown with a side train accented by Swarovski crystals. Where do I start about that side train? It was just ooh la la. If our Bebo doesn’t end up in something similar in the next 6 months, I’d be surprised.

I must start the Worst Dressed List with the absolute worst dressed. Zoe Saldano of ‘Avatar’ wore a silvery sequin bodice and a three tiered skirt with lilac, purple and black. It was wrong on so many levels. Love the blue girl but she needs a new stylist pronto. The 2nd worst dressed for me was Charlize Theron. It was a good color on her but the train on that dress made it look like a different outfit altogether. The actual worst part was that the train that matched pink rosettes on each breast. Unfortunately, the eyes went straight to those rosettes. And to think that she has a face to die for. Mo'Nique came in at #3. She wore a ruched electric-blue sheath, something, pardon me Mo'Nique, is something I think I've seen week after week at Macys and Nordstrom and every other dress shop in the mall. Utterly butterly ordinary. But the biggest disappointment of the night came from Sex and the City gal Sarah Jessica Parker. One to experiment a lot with her looks, this time I think she got it wrong. She wore a metallic-embellished Chanel couture gown but the fit was wrong, the hair looked like a giant bagel and she looked bland. Don’t blame her coz it was quite a challenging dress. Our #5 pick was Actress Diane Kruger with a black ruffly collar on a halter top dress with a swath of ruffles from waist to shin. Ugh. I’m going to hell for saying this because it stains my loyalty but I have to say it. Coming in at #6 is writer/actress Tina Fey who wore a Michael Kors black sequin-covered, one-shoulder gown with a sexy slit. It was a good gown alright, but didn’t do her justice.

Oh and in case you care, guys kept it simple, varying between single and double breasted tuxedos and navy/grey/black colors on the tux.

On that note, it’s a wrap from me. See you next week.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Polish your wit with Twitter

This appeared in The SA Times today.

I stumbled upon a few amusing facts this week. First, I came across an article in Wall Street Journal about fashion label Gucci’s legacy and learnt Mr. Gucci’s first name; Guccio. The man was named Guccio Gucci! Interesting is all I could mumble. Then I caught an episode of ex-politician Rahul Mahajan’s bride hunt show. What an amazing set of girls to choose from; none of whose IQ seems to be more than 79 (borderline deficiency). One actually thought Obama’s full name was Obama Bin Laden. To think that someone needs to go on national TV to find that. Brilliant. Then I saw Karan Johar winning a ‘Social Icon of the Year’ award at the NDTV Indian of the Year award show simply for using Twitter extensively. It gives the rest of us hope when we’re hooked onto seemingly useless addictions.

Which brings me to my most interesting experience of the week. Out of a desperate measure to do something entertaining on one dull evening, I logged onto Twitter after a good 6 months and got blown away this time around.

Being an ardent Facebook user, I believed I was doing a decent job of being virtually in touch with all my friends and family. It even bordered on obsessive-compulsive disorder on some days. Left me with little time and inclination to get into yet another relationship with yet another social networking site. I’m nothing if not loyal or so I thought until Twitter crushed that notion. I watched myself get entangled into a Twitterverse of tweets from a variety of names and faces, some I identified as popular from the world of politics/ literature/ movies/ fashion/ media and some others I didn’t recognize because they were ordinary virtual people, or Tweeple, just like me, but were interesting nevertheless. It’s been three days since then and I haven’t rested.

You probably know the real difference between the two already. Facebook is Facebook where as Twitter is largely used by people to speak their minds in 140 words mostly about current on goings. The best part, you can follow anyone and vice-versa without any egos, social standing or stardom coming in the way. I’ve even got the 44th President of United States following me. That’s right, Barack Obama follows me on Twitter even when I don’t follow him. And it’s a verified account of his so don’t you laugh it out. But it’s no biggie because he follows some 700k people. See what I mean? It’s a dangerous place though because it’s so easy to lose your way if you have a tendency of getting swayed.

You’ve most likely heard the rest but here’s what’s got me hooked. Wit. I just see a lot more wit on Twitter than all the other sites I am on, combined. Attribute it to the restriction on the tweet length or the exemplar set by some on the site but it’s hard to deny. One of my favs on it is Rahul Khanna. Here’s one from him. “Today I discovered there really is no dignified way to react when painters suddenly appear on scaffolding outside your bathroom window.”

It’s also been entertaining to discover how a sub-section of the Indian media, Indian politicians and Indian celebrities have started a mutual admiration society on Twitter. Barkha Dutt praises Karan Johar, Karan Johar praises Abhishek Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan praises Shah Rukh Khan, Shah Rukh praises Shashi Tharoor, Shashi Tharoor praises Barkha Dutt and to be different, Shobhaa De trashes them all. I wonder if PR agents will be extinct in the near future since everyone talks to everyone on such platforms completely eliminating the need for a middle man.

For more wit, hit me up on Twitter (randomwalkers) and follow who I follow or give me a few suggestions. See ya?