Tag Archives: pictures

Meet the Züca Pro. The answer to all your packing dilemmas.

If there is one character trait that can be attributed to me without any debate whatsoever, it’s the fact that I buy awesome stuff which no one would even dream of buying. It’s usually something with a quirk, some brilliant design concept or something that appeals to my OCD-anal way of life.

I first came across the Züca Pro travel system In a YouTube video. The one I’ve shared above. I urge you all to view that before reading any further. I was mesmerized. Till I saw the video, packing for me was a chore, neatly arranging carefully folded shirts in a mundane boxy stroller. Bleh.

I was always a reasonably decent packer, a skill I honed during my boarding school days. And now, here came Züca, to take my packing skill to the next level. THE NEXT LEVEL.

Ok, I’ve got to admit, part of the reason I was sold to this Züca concept was the voice in that video. That voice. I swear if a girl stood in front of me with that voice and said “for your lotions and potions”, I’d embrace her in a suffocating bear-hug in a second.

Anyway, getting to the point, I have a weekend in Goa coming up, 3 nights, plus a couple of days in Mumbai. So that’s 5 nights in total. I thought why not test whether the Züca can actually deliver.

So this is what I could organize into a bag half the size of a regular stroller. Plus, the clothes are so well rolled and tightly packed that they won’t shuffle around in the bag, unlike a regular stroller.

Four collared shirts. Four polo collared t-shirts. Two round neck t-shirts. Two shorts. Two pairs of jeans. Two nightsuits. One pair of track pants. 6 pairs of underwear. 4 pairs of socks. One set of flip flops. One universal adaptor. A blackberry charger. An iPhone charger.
(I tend to over-pack but did I mention that it’s half the size of a regular stroller?)


What’s hot about the Züca travel system :

1. It comes with 5 color coded, differently sized pouches. The green and orange are for underwear and socks. The blue is for shirts, tees, pajamas etc. You get two large red pouches for your trousers, jackets, shirts etc.

2. If you follow the packing instructions, things fit in like magic. Rolling the jeans, shirts and jackets keeps them crease free. Quite contrary to what I had imagined.

3. The structure is great. Not wobbly. Plus, it’s made of aircraft grade aluminium with a recessed handle/slot near the wheels, which makes it easier to put in the overhead bin of your aircraft. Also, the width is perfect for rolling it down the aisle of an aircraft. No more bumping around like a pinball machine. The top of the bag can support a very heavy man, in case you find yourself without a seat at the airport.

4. There are numerous zips and sleeves around the Züca for your magazines and other small items. It even boasts a wet pouch and a separate plastic pouch for your TSA approved toiletries. Plus, it has a cover in case you want to check it in, no scratches or scuffs on your bag.

5. The telescopic handle is really long. No more slouching and the bag-roll is very comfortable. Plus, the recessed polyurethane wheels are nice and silent offering a cushy ride.

Whats not hot about the Züca :

1. You just can’t dump stuff in. It has to be arranged neatly. So if you’re a bum, it’s not for you. (although, it isn’t cumbersome to pack and it is usually possible to pack quickly using Züca).

2. It’s a pain when you’ve finished packing everything and loaded up the Züca and then you realize that you’ve forgotten something. It’s torture to bring out all the pouches again.

3. You’d look ridiculous sitting on this bag.

4. The cover has no zips or sleeves. So if you wanted to slip in your iPad or magazine, you have to use the Züca without the cover.

5. People stare.

6. If the security guys ask you to open the bag, you’re gonna miss your flight. You’ll be too busy showing off the bag to all the awestruck security guards to notice that the flight has long gone.

7. It’s not an all-wheel-drive. Are those four-wheeled bags called all-wheel-drives anyway? Those are awesome too.

8. You’ll want to slap anyone that says “Can you just throw this in your bag?”

So, that’s it. That’s the Züca pro. It retails for around 300 USD. I think it’s worth it, do you?



Myrah and the 30 year old apple.

For most of the people reading this blog, you probably already know that I have a 3 month old daughter. For those of you who didn’t know, well, take this as an announcement.

The last three months have been a blast. Excluding the first two weeks, which was paranoia at it’s very best. Once we got settled in, all three of us, the ride’s been fortunately smooth. Basically, it’s about accepting the fact that “She is a baby, she IS GOING to cry.”

It’s something new everyday. She’ll babble in her sleep, squeal in delight, flip over, give you the biggest smiles, just win your heart over day after day. There is no greater feeling than seeing your daughter recognizing you and give you her best, biggest toothless grin. In my daughter’s case, when she smiles wide, her eyes crinkle up, as though there’s only room for only one of them to be open at one time.

Coming to the point, the other day, I walked into my Mum’s room (Grandma was babysitting), and I see my daughter playing with this plastic Apple. It’s not a great, sophisticated toy. It’s made by fisher-price and it rocks on it’s base when you knock it around. There’s probably a small bell inside which tinkles on being moved. So all in all, it’s just an apple with a bell. No biggie.

The only thing is, it’s MY Apple. My parents bought it for me when I was a newborn. And then, as with everything in my house, it’s been safely hoarded preserved for almost 30 years. It was so surprising to see my daughter play with it. Knocking it around, staring at it wide-eyed, chuckling, having a conversation with a bright red plastic apple. It was heart-warming. It’s true when they say that the best toys are the simplest ones. It’ll be so cute if she grows up to be one of those kids that throws away the toy and plays with the box.

I give my Mum such a hard time about her wanting to preserve old, useless things. I sure am glad she kept the apple though.

Moral of the story, Grandma knows best.


Airports : a holiday destination in themselves




I don’t get to travel a lot in my field of work, except when I’m on holiday. I’ve always enjoyed being at an airport, as a kid, it was seeing all the planes, which if I’m honest is still fun for me. But as I’ve grown up, airports fascinate me for many reasons, not just for the planes.

So I’m on holiday currently, visiting Toronto and Boston. I flew British Airways via Heathrow and to my delight, I had a four hour layover at London. Since I’m traveling alone this time (hate it, never like traveling without my wife), I got to indulge in my airport self-entertainment wholeheartedly.

So the reasons why I like hanging out at airports are –

1. The planes

First and foremost, it’s the airplanes. I love sitting and staring at them. Taking off, landing. I prefer watching planes land, it’s like a massive steel apartment building falling from the sky. Watching the plane approach the strip, make last minute adjustments and then when the wheels hit the tarmac, I wait for the plume of black smoke. What an adrenaline rush it must be for the pilots!

2. Food

Whenever I travel abroad and meet friends or family, they insist that we try “good” food at “good” restaurants. I can’t really satisfy my cravings for trashy junk food. So, when I’m alone at an airport, I can go nuts. If you’re ever passing through an airport and come across a chubby Indian gleefully tucking into a burger king meal, that would be me.

3. The bookshops

Undoubtedly my favorite activity. Yes yes, we have bookshops back home but the lure of airport bookshops is irresistible. I don’t end up buying paperbacks, it’s usually a foreign edition of GQ or Vogue or Esquire. In short, classy literature.

Also, my wife loves the airport bookshops as well. But for entirely different reasons. She’s not interested in the books or the magazines. She usually ends up buying silly unnecessary candy near the cashier. She’ll be like “I’m telling you, you don’t get these sour skittles ANYWHERE”, or something like “Oooh…I’m buying these orange tic-tacs for my mum”. Anyway, the candy usually finds it’s way to the bottom of her mega-bag, only to resurface years later during some boring sight-seeing trip on some other vacation. And then she’ll gloat “And to think, you weren’t going to let me buy these skittles, who’s loving them now?”. Honey, I’d be loving the skittles if you didn’t keep trying to pass me all the disgusting watermelon flavored ones no one likes.

4. The other shops

My favorite shops are the ones where they try to sell you stuff you never needed till you saw it. Products like an alarm clock that jumps off the bedside table and runs away (genius), tempur-pedic neck pillows, weird space-age universal chargers, wireless cellphone chargers, headphones of all shapes and sizes and even disposable underwear (yes, you read correctly).

There’s also all the perfume stalls (makes me sneeze, so I stay away) and the duty free booze (usually to pick up single malt for home, after the cursory “Dad, Which one should I buy?” phone call).

5. The people

Oh how I love to stare. I love people-watching. What they’re wearing, who’s listening to music, who uses a Mac, who’s a PC guy, what earphones they’re using etc. You can tell a lot about a person by how they conduct themselves at an airport.

I’m always envious of people who manage to travel gracefully. There are a few in every flight. They’ll be dressed so well, not a crease on their button down blue shirt, impeccably well fitting jeans and beautifully polished shoes. These are the ones that never carry any hand luggage, all they have is a neatly folded NewYorker in their hands (pretentious pricks). I wish I could travel like that. When these seasoned, slick travelers stroll past me down the aisle, I’m the guy who’s usually trying to straighten my completely accidental bed-head hairstyle and scrape off dried spit from my cheek. I feel fat.

So on this flight to London I just took, there was this lady in her fifties, she was really fit (didn’t look a day over forty), who was wearing a white knit turtleneck and beige pants. She was carrying this wonderful tan soft leather bag by Tod’s and loafers also probably by Tod’s (it’s my story, I’m going to promote the brands I love. Deal with it). When she got off the plane, she looked like she stepped off a spa. No sign of that 9 hour flight fatigue, no curry stain on her white turtleneck. There’s a special place in hell reserved for such people.

There are so many more reasons but I think you get the gist. This is why sometimes I wish I was a busy businessman who had to travel a lot for work. I envy my friends who do, though they seem to hate it. I guess not everyone wants to be like Clooney in ‘Up in the air’.

So what kind of a traveler are you? Do you love or loathe airports?





Maqbool Fida Husain. And me.

He spelled my name correctly

He spelled my name correctly

I was always fascinated by Genius. Growing up, I had tons of books. But my most favourite books remained the ones on the great minds and artists of the past. I could spend hours reading about Leonardo, Galileo, Michelangelo, Marie Curie and even people as recent as Einstein and Vikram Sarabhai. I was not really fascinated by what they had achieved, I was more interested in their character traits. What made Genius?

As a young boy, I secretly wished I would grow up to be one. If anyone asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I wanted to say ‘Genius’ but fearing ridicule, I’d end up saying that I wanted to be a scientist and invent things. If asked what things, I’d just say ‘things’ with a little more emphasis.

I must have been all of 5 or 6 when I first heard about M. F. Husain. He was the Indian answer to the international art community, hailed as the Picasso of India. I was mesmerized by the fact that people were willing to pay lakhs of rupees (a lot at that time) for his art. I would draw often as a kid and when I’d sketch something, I’d look at it and wonder why someone would bother paying me for my scribble. It was my introduction to the world of purchased culture.

When I was 7, we were returning home from a trip to the Rishivalley school. We were scouting boarding schools for my brother and me (we eventually went to Scindia) and had a small stopover at Hyderabad airport. In the waiting lounge, I spotted a lean man, dressed in a kurta pyjama, with a massive paintbrush in his hand. His hair and beard were silvery gray and he was surrounded by some very rich looking aunties. I couldn’t believe it was M. F. Husain.

I was never a shy kid. I borrowed a visiting card from my Dad and headed toward MF for his autograph. Without a hint of decency (forgive me, I was 7), I barged into their conversation and asked MF for his autograph. A little startled at a 7 year old asking for his autograph, he asked me if I knew who he was and what he did. Perhaps he thought I was sent over by my parents to get his autograph (truth be told, my parents didn’t really give a damn about celebrity autographs). I told him – “You’re MF Husain. And you paint horses very well”. His face broke into a big smile and instead of an autograph, he drew two horses on the back of the visiting card and signed it with the date. My parents couldn’t believe it, they asked me to keep it very carefully.
I think I may have left that visiting card on the flight.

MF was known to gift away his art, much to the chagrin of his paying collectors. I had a friend in school who was the son a very big industrialist. He boasted often that walls of his house were painted by MF. Apparently they owned many art galleries and MF was a personal friend.

I always kept abreast with what MF was doing. If there was an article in the papers about him, I’d try and read it, even if it was a silly page 3 mention. I even forgave him his silly Madhuri Dixit obsession and the subsequent Gaja Gamini. After all, all great artists were eccentric, and MF had cultivated his eccentricity very well. He was frequently in well-tailored Hermes suits with no footwear and a large paintbrush in his hand (a baton). If MF wanted to make a movie, how was it different from Karl Lagerfeld designing a cellphone? Art transcends canvas.

The next time I met MF was more than a decade later, when I was 19. I was returning home from med school and it was late. As I drove into my lane, I saw MF exiting the building next to mine, again with another rich looking aunty. He looked the same as he did more than 10 years ago. This time I wanted his autograph for keeps. I parked my car in a hurry, ran in to get a piece of paper and a marker. I had sketched a few days back, some silly collage about studying long nights, with a mug of coffee, thick textbooks, the clock, the phone and my desk lamp. It wasn’t anything special. It was laying on my table with a permanent marker, so I grabbed it and ran down. Luckily, he was still there. I told him that I’d been a fan for many years and would be honoured if he’d sign my work. He gladly agreed and was mildly surprised when I asked him to sign on the back (stupid of me, as I can never get it framed now). He even bothered to spell my name correctly.

Then came the crazy years. Some of his paintings were unearthed where he had drawn the Hindu Goddesses, Durga and Saraswati, naked. Clad only by sky, according to him. To be honest, I didn’t really see it as a sexual thing or as a particularly offensive event. Plus, they were drawn in the ’70s. As I draw occasionally as well, I tend to be more forgiving to artists who push boundaries, I tend to offer a greater license in my mind for their freedom of expression. I’ve seen much worse. I’ve been to Khajuraho and it’s practically a porn film carved into stone.

But I can also understand why it offended people. We were living in particularly flammable times. Religious tolerance was at an all time low, all over the world. MF being a Muslim, Hindus did not take kindly to him drawing our Goddesses this way, artistic license be damned. People said, if Islam could be so intolerant, he did not deserve any cultural flexibility from our end. Vandalism followed. His house, workshops, galleries were destroyed, death threats were issued. Something I didn’t condone. One may disagree with what he painted but this was India. I feared that we were becoming a Hindu Pakistan.

People often argue with me “Do you think he had the courage to draw the prophet nude? He’d have been massacred long ago”. I could never conjure up an answer. Partly because I think it’s true. Look what happened to that dutch cartoonist, he lives each day looking over his shoulder.

What I really disagreed with was how he jumped his bail and ran away to Qatar. He should’ve stayed in India, appeared in court and defended his right to draw. He could’ve explained that he didn’t mean to cheapen the Goddesses’ image, he may have tried to show them as starkly beautiful women, but somewhere, the message got muddied. And maybe he could have even apologized for hurting people’s sentiments.

He accepted Qatari citizenship, lived in self-imposed exile and died recently in London.

Inspite of all of this, I do not believe that he was unpatriotic. I do not believe that he was ‘intentionally’ disrespectful toward Hinduism. He took great liberty with his art and was careless (not arrogant, he was never arrogant) to not anticipate the emotional damage his art could have caused. I’m sure he didn’t do it for publicity, he had enough of that.

I know many are delighted by his death but there is still that pesky 7 year old who yet remembers the dignity with which he was treated, he may have lost that visiting card but he still remembers the horses.

Maqbool Fida Husain, may you rest in peace.

Stupid of me not to let him sign the front.

Stupid of me not to let him sign the front.

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

Drops from heaven.

I was never an athletic kid. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy being outdoors, it’s that I didn’t want to be chained to a set of rules that governed a particular sport. I wanted to sit and daydream. I liked being indoors, drawing, reading, looking out the window. And the view from the window is never better than when it rains.

My love affair with the rains started a little late in life. When I was 16 or 17, when I was in my first year of med school. Being in a boarding school in the north of India, as a kid, I missed out on the crazy monsoon common to the west of India, where I live.

The first year of medical school was a crazy time for me. The syllabus was huge and time was at a premium. Our finals were in July, coinciding with the fury of the monsoon. The exam schedule was relentless, no breaks between exams. I used to start studying at 9 in the morning and typically, my day ended at 3am the next morning. There were times when I’d be frustrated, the brain would refuse to soak in anymore information and slowly start to delete whatever I had uploaded in the recent past. My brain can be a real pest sometimes.

In those days, window air conditioners were the norm, you know the ones with their metallic square butts hanging outside the window. So, when it started to rain, there would be this lovely splattering sound you could hear, like you were sleeping under a tin roof. For some reason, I found that noise very calming. Almost as though the rain arrived to purge the fatigue from my mind. I’d lean back in my chair, close my eyes, take in the sound and be refreshed in a matter of minutes. The perpetual smell of coffee in the room, the cold temperature of the AC, fat medical books and the sound of rain, my own little world of happiness.

And the rain had an uncanny sense of when I needed it. Days when I was most frustrated, I’d hear the pitter-patter and smile to myself. Days when I feared the worst at an exam, it would start raining, reassuring me that it would all be ok. And it always worked. Days when it rained, I found myself more motivated to do well, more aggressive in my answers, more imaginative in my essays. It became the Robin to my Batman. If it rained, you couldn’t beat me. Period. I was like a med school Michael Schumacher. Yes, I live in my own little mental happy place.

More than all the selfish reasons for which I love the monsoon, there are quite a few others as well. I love how an overcast sky makes even a small Indian town feel like London.

I love how all the plants in the garden look freshly scrubbed. I live in a dusty town and the leaves are usually covered with a thin layer of dust. The monsoon washes it all away, revealing all shades of green. On our porch, we lower the old school bamboo curtains, drinking masala tea in the evenings. You feel like you’re holidaying at a hill station.

For most of my teenage years, I lived at my grandmother’s house. A specialty of hers during summer and the monsoon is lightly roasted groundnut. Then, ideally, when they’re still warm, crack them open and munch on the peanuts within. Juicy with a slightly charcoal-y flavour. Team that with a tall glass of chilled Rose sherbet with a little squeeze of lemon. Perfect.

Have you ever tried the Alphonso? It’s the King of mangoes, actually, the King of all fruit. Beautifully golden, packed with flavour. It’s like an explosion of India in your mouth. The only problem with monsoon is that it signals the death of the alphonso. I know people who actually get upset at the first rains because it is a sign that the supply of their favourite fruit has now dried up.

We have frangipani trees all over our gardens at home. It drizzled a little last night and already the trees look more alive. The flowers look so fresh.

I always try and get a few of the season’s first raindrops on me and on the people I love. Hoping that it brings them and me good luck for the rest of the year.

Wherever you are in the world, I hope that now you shall also look at rain as the harbinger of all things good in your life. And I hope that you shall also try to get a few drops of the first rain on yourself and your loved ones. God bless.

View from my kitchen

View from my kitchen

Rose sherbet with a hint of lemon

Rose sherbet with a hint of lemon

Lightly roasted groundnut

Lightly roasted groundnut

The King of fruit. The Alphonso.

The King of fruit. The Alphonso.

The sun breaking through...

The sun breaking through…

Bamboo curtains

Bamboo curtains



Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

Ugly legs, a man’s crotch and a lovely blue jacket : The hazards of reading People magazine at work.

For some reason, the clinic was exceptionally light today. Just a small trickle of patients compared to the daily deluge. I don’t know whether it was the Royal wedding that kept people away, it couldn’t be, I’d like to believe it was the heat.

So anyway, I just received the latest People magazine, so I thought I’d flip through a few pages. And before you wonder, I DON’T subscribe to people magazine, it must be one of the girls in the house.

As I’m flipping around, I catch a glimpse of Rani Mukherjee’s legs. Fat and blotchy with ugly knees (it’s all about the knees for me). For people not familiar with bollywood stars, she’s as big as they come. And after seeing her legs, I mean that literally.

Then, I come face to face with a male underwear ad. To all advertising gurus out there, seeing a picture of another man’s sock-enhanced crotch isn’t going to make me run out and buy a pair. Maybe if you had an in-built iPod, I’d think about it.

As I flip some more, I come across a picture of Sonam Kapoor, she’s the daughter of Anil Kapoor, the hairy ‘Mill-a-naaaaiiiirrr’ guy from Slumdog. I confess, I haven’t seen any of her movies, nada. But I’ve sort of become a fan ever since I saw her taking the mickey out her colleagues on a certain talk show. Plus, I believe she has a very avant garde style of dressing. Very Valentino meets McQueen. Look at her in the picture below, who’d wear ridiculously puffed sleeves like that? She has fashion courage. And now, my respect.

Then I come across this lovely blue jacket in raw silk. It’s been designed by Masaba Gupta, the love child of Vivian Richards and Neena Gupta. It’s very well fitted. Plus, I’m pretty partial to anything raw silk, especially trousers. If I had to design something for my wife, it would be a white, completely beaded, chinese collared shirt, with 3/4th sleeves, very structured and rigid, ending at the waist. The trousers would be straight legged in gold raw silk, ending at the ankles. Sky high heels of course. The thing is, those clothes would end up spending more time on the floor of the bedroom than on my wife. 😉

Blimey! (In the royal wedding spirit, I shall use english exclamations), this blog entry started off as vaguely mean and condescending and has ended on a mildly horny note. Oh well.

Horrible, splotchy, knobby knees

Horrible, splotchy, knobby knees

I didnt subscribe to see this.

I didnt subscribe to see this.

Avant garde

Avant garde

Killing time

Killing time

Blue, raw silk jacket by Masaba Gupta

Blue, raw silk jacket by Masaba Gupta

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.