Thursday, April 29, 2010

Back on the ground (or The summer adventure begins)

The boys at the flugelbindery have been kind enough to let me do a few traveling gigs over the summer. Normally this isn't my kind of thing -- you know, the sleeping alone in a king size bed at the Double-8 Motel on route 182 routine, the bad coffee and stale muffins for breakfast lifestyle, the zombie channel surfing in the hopes finding an episode of Seinfeld, Friends, or Frasier that you haven't seen twice in the last two weeks. But this is different. This is the kind of on-the-road flugelbindery that will take me to Naples for month and Germany for another month with a few weeks in India to recharge BB's cells.

(You notice that it's Naples and Germany, not Italy and Germany, or Naples and Cologne. No Germany seems to be state of mind, whereas Italy is a specificity of lifestyle.)

Maybe this the ultimate revenge against all those boys and girls about town who I tried and failed to emulate. (Did I mention an off-site in Ischia? Take that you white-wine sipping, sockless loafer clad*, impeccably dressed, and already-well tanned boys and girls about town...)

In any case, I'll keep you posted as usual!

More soon...



* Summer gives you many footwear options, both open and closed. But the one combination I just cannot pull off is wearing shoes without socks. I admire those who can and do. I envy them. But I just can't emulate them. Perhaps it was the way I was raised

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The other half (or Boy/girl about town)

I've recently and persistently been telling my Kvetch Committee, "I want to be be a boy/girl about town." Well, some background is required for this.

First, I have a kvetch committee. Don't you? If you don't, you need to get one. After all, one must share one's petty complaints with someone on a regular basis. But any one person would be overwhelmed. Hence form a committee.

Second, yes, I really would be happy being either a boy or girl about town, as these are often different but can overlap. A boy about town is nicely dressed (either casual or preppy - I'm fine with either) and not doing much (strolling through the park, sitting sipping white wine or an espresso, walking along the street with a folded newspaper or some other not too bulky accessory).

A girl about town comes in many varieties: with child or without (and within with-child the two variants: one's own or someone else's); young or not so young (and note here, un/fortunately age is not a factor in making you a boy about town - young and old seem to do it in the same way; for women it does seem to affect what how they go about it -- but don't worry in my books young doesn't stop at any particular age -- it's more a mater of attitude).

So getting back to the girls about town. The ones with their own babies have that look of dressed-down luxury, and as the day proceeds tend to have more and more packages piled up on their strollers. The ones with other people's babies look a little bit busier (after all, they are working). The younger girls about town are usually doing something: window shopping, sitting and reading, chatting with a friend. And I must confess, I haven't yet figured out what older girls about town are up to.

And working back to my complaint. Now that it's spring, I've been whining that I want to be a boy/girl about town. But the only occasions I can find are to run errands around town. Don't get me wrong - so lovely to walk across the park on the way to some work, or bicycle along the river. But it's that I want to be one of those boys/girls about town (see above), not someone out running errands.

So I was out today to get my suitcase repaired for an upcoming trip (for an upcoming trip!) I had to cab it over there, but decided to walk back across the Upper East Side and through the park. And there they were, that not so rare species of boy/girl about town, sipping their coffees, looking leisurely and fabulous, tall and lean.

One day, I said to myself, I too will be a boy/girl about town. That day, I hope is this today. An update next time!


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Big Boys' Corner

The corner of 18th Street and 11th Avenue has become the big boys' corner in New York. Frank Gehry's IAC building looks across at Jean Nouvel's 100 11th Residences. When the IAC Building first went up I must admit I didn't like it. It was probably part of an anti-Gehry mood brought on by among other things the documentary I saw about him. (Or was it being told that a piece of crumpled metal on sale at Tiffany's cost $30,000, because it had been crumpled by Gehry?) I used to disparagingly think of it as Casper the Ghost. But it has grown on me over time, and I think it's one my favorite buildings of his. The fact that the sculptural shape is part of the structure and not just an afterthought metallic add-on is appealing. And the whole shape captures the sense of rippling sails, appropriately enough for a building right on the river.

{image from here:}

In any case, Novel's building has gone up directly opposite. And I cannot but think of two dogs squaring off at a dog run in Riverside Park. First they glare at each other. Then they sniff each other. Then tails start wagging. And soon enough they are playing. Nouvel's building reflected in Gehry's:

Nouvel's building on the right, playfully reflecting light on Gehry's:

What makes the corner even more interesting is the new building by Shigeru Ban going up right next to Gehry's. You can't see it too well here, but it's really very interesting as well:

And you know what? I think the two big boys have found a new little friend to play with...



Thursday, April 15, 2010

Little Dieter needs to fly

Watched a while back, but never posted on it (could it be? Am I repeating myself?) It's shocking, inspirational. (I know, this sounds like a movie blurb, but it's true....) You watch an older man, with a slight German accent, recounting his horrifying experiences as a prisoner, even reenacting them, with an incredible energy and determination. Even putting his feet into stocks, his hands into handcuffs. It's only a film he says, but you are wondering, inside him, it must revive a learned fear.

Only once do we see him - not break down but - pause to gather himself, to describe how alone he was in the jungle after his fellow escapee was killed. There was only this bear that would follow him around:

"When I think about it, this bear meant death to me, and it is really ironic that's the only friend I had at the end was death."

The only friend I had at the end was death. And hovering above it all is Werner Herzog, with his dry probing narration: "How Dieter Dengler has been able to cope with all this remains a mystery. He hides behind the casual remark that this was the fun part of his life."

Dieter took early retirement and became a test pilot. He survived four more crashes. "Death did not want him."


Thursday, April 8, 2010


I don't know if this is only an American (/ Canadian) thing, but summertime and warm weather makes many people think of grilling. (By the way, it was 33 C in NYC yesterday.) In summer the traditional balance of kitchen power shifts from women to men: women hang up their oven mitts and aprons, and men take out their tongs and charcoal and head to the grill.

Growing up we were not a grilling family. In part this was the perception that grilling was really a non-vegetarian activity. This isn't entirely fair: grilled veggies (and for that matter fruit!) are great. But it is true, you don't see men buying multi-thousand dollar grills all for the sake of some nicely browned eggplants. It also has something to do with the fact that we're from India. Indian husbands don't typically cook (don't want to offend the Indian men out there, but you know that this is usually true). Lack of cooking skill does not however imply lack of cooking knowledge. Ask an Indian wife how to cook some fantastic dish you've just tried, and more often than not the husband will take over the reply and give you detailed instructions on how to make a dish he himself has never tried. (But in fairness to the Indian man, this kind of backseat cooking is a skill in its own right...)

In any case, I discovered not so long ago that my gas oven has a broiler underneath. I'm not sure if you've ever looked below your oven, but if you haven't do so know. A broiler in is basically an oven in reverse, placing your food centimetres from powerful gas jets. Your food is warmed, browned, and crisp in minutes.

Despite this felicitous discovery, my broiler was mainly used to finish omelets, until yesterday that is. For some reason I bought haloumi cheese, not entirely certain what I would do with it. Somehow it remind me of the "grill" and 40 minutes later I was marinading, skewering, and grilling away. (Haloumi, like paneer, is great for grilling.)

Of course, there is a reason why men grill outdoors in the summer. Indoors, in a small apartment it gets hot. But aside from this small detail, it was delicious: tasty and satisfying, while light enough to satisfy my stringent diet.

If you're not already perspiring by reading this, you can find the recipe here. Surprisingly my kebabs came out looking pretty much like this:


And now, you guessed it, I can't stop grilling. I'm still not sure whether or not to tell my parents what I'm up to.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The flowers that bloom in the spring

It's springtime. The sun is shining. The flowers are blooming and singing their siren song to me, as I try to focus on the flugelbindery. It looks something like this.

Every day I tell myself the same thing: today I will be that person about town I always yearn to be. You know, the one sipping white wine with lunch a sidewalk café in SoHo. The one reading a book and sunning without a care in the world at 11 a.m. on a weekday. The one calmly doing groceries at 2 pm in the afternoon rather than doing the after-work frantic-pile-up-in-your-arms routine. The one discreetly sipping rosé wine from an opaque plastic cup and having an early dinner of roasted and marinated vegetables in the park.


Friday, April 2, 2010

It felt good...

  • Spring has finally arrived in New York. Everyone is smiling. It feels good.
  • After the time change and in spring and summer, I have direct light streaming into my apartment at 8 am. But I'm an early riser so this is not a problem. In fact, it felt good.
  • Last night sat on Boat Basin Cafe's terrace overlooking the river and having a (veggie) burger and beer. It felt good.
  • Went to gelateria Grom and had their extra-dark chocolate ice cream. It's the closest ice cream has ever come to actually being chocolate. It felt good.
  • Ran a few errands on my bicycle today. It was sunny and the breeze was cool. It felt good.
  • Bought my first bottle of rosé wine for this season. It felt good.
  • Will drink (part of) it tonight. It will feel good.
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