PARTITION Stories of separation by Sonam Kalra

Currently this is, perforce, a Delhi-NCR-centric review, but one hopes that this latest show by Sonam Kalra will travel the country and beyond…

“Partition Stories of Separation” was performed for the first time at Delhi’s India Habitat Centre in front of a sold-out audience this weekend.

A show devoted to the trauma and sorrow of Partition was never going to be easy viewing and there were moments of great sadness.  Great, heart-wrenching sadness.  When the elderly Sikh spoke about the death of his sister, I could hardly breathe, it was so raw and painful.

But this pain, which Sonam Kalra talks about in the programme, cannot –  and must not – be avoided or ignored:

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This trauma is part of the DNA of the subcontinent and it has to be commemorated and shared, especially with the gradual passing of the brave generations who lived through the horrors of Partition.

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Through song, and poetry, and interviews with amazing people who lived through Partition, this traumatic period of history is brought to life by Sonam Kalra, Salima Raza and Sonam’s team of amazing musicians.

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But for me, what moved me the most, was not so much the looking backwards at history, but the positive looking forward towards peace and reconciliation.

And here the energy and thrust of a younger generation with a different mindset was in evidence.

I loved the inter-active feeling of the show –  from old fashioned postcards on which we were asked to write our message of peace starting with the positive words “When we meet…”, to the hashtags to be used on social media to build a dialogue with “The Other Side.”

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There were cute, quirky touches, such as a “postbox” for the postcards for Pakistan.

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We were even given pens, ensuring that there we all had no excuse not to write.

A pile of old luggage in the entrance to the auditorium spoke volumes.

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I hope that this show travels the length and breadth of India, and more than anything else that it travels to “The Other Side.”

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Shabash to Sonam Kalra for giving voice to painful memories, but than anything for presenting the pain with so much love and, most importantly, hope.

Testing the Reebok Z Strike Elite AND the Reebok One Distance 2.0

This is a slightly unusual review since it deals with 2 different Reebok shoes, one of which I had to return due to a flaw.

On 28 June 2016 I bought a pair of Reebok Z Strike Elite shoes from the Reebok store in DLF Mall, New Delhi, India.

This was my first Reebok purchase & I was impressed by the knowledgable sales staff (despite it being sale time, so busier than usual) and I bought a lovely blue pair of shoes:

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I now possessed 3 pairs of running shoes (#takingmyrunningseriously) and since I was part of a #100daysofrunning challenge, and therefore running every day, I rotated between my reeboks and 2 pairs of Adidas shoes.

I was running an average of 10k per day, but not wearing any pair of shoes on 2 consecutive days.  From the very first run, these shoes felt comfortable, great and cushion-y (is that a technical term?) and very light.  No teething problems, no blisters, nothing.

From Day One I loved the Z Strike Elite, and instagrammed to that effect.

Here you go, just a few images.

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Took my shoes to Borneo:

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And to Kuala Lumpur:

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But…at 162 km (I log my usage on mapmyrun.com) holes suddenly appeared in the heel area of both shoes.  Like so:

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I contacted Reebok –  and this part of my review now covers their customer service.

5 August: I email Reebok, sending the photos I have just shown you (above).

6 August: Reebok Customer Care replies, apologizing and asking for details, including a scan of the original invoice, which I didn’t have to hand, so on the

7 August: I sent a copy of my credit card statement.

9 August: Reebok replies asking me to get a duplicate invoice from the store.

OK.

10 August: I went back to the store in DLF mall, where they kindly printed out a duplicate invoice in no time at all, which I emailed to Customer Care.

11 August: Reebok email me to say I could go ahead and claim my replacement shoes.

 

Score card for Customer Service?

10/10.

They were quick, polite and efficient, as indeed were the staff in the shop.

BUT sadly the much-loved Z Strike Elite were no longer in stock, & so I had to get a different shoe, and pay around Rs3000 on top, since the sales are over.

So, with some regret – it’s out with the Z Strike & in with One Distance 2.0

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I did my first run in these shoes this morning, and first impressions?

I like them.  A lot.

I like the tag at the back when you put them on:

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Love the lime green.

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They felt as cushion-y and bouncy and comfortable from the word go as the Z Strike Elite.

Now, though, I shall watch the heels like a hawk, hoping there isn’t a repeat performance.

Has anyone else experienced this?  The inner lining wearing out so quickly?

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The store manager suggested it might be because I kept my shoes laced and pushed my feet in and out.

I absolutely don’t, and told him so.  So I actually have no explanation as to why the Z Strike Elite wore out so soon.

Anyway, onwards & upwards as they say – and let’s see how the One Distance 2.0 perform.

I’ll post a follow up review in a few weeks.

Neither Reebok nor the store knew that I blogged and I paid for the shoes myself.

Is the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre worth visiting?

The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre just outside Sandakan, Malaysia is in Sepilok, and is located right next to the orang utan rehabilitation centre, so it makes sense to visit the 2 sanctuaries on the same day.

The Sun Bear Conservation Centre isn’t cheap (for non-Malays) but I’d say it’s absolutely worth a visit.

The centre isn’t huge, but has an excellent raised boardwalk through the trees that allows you to look down on the bears, and even see them in the trees, as we did on our visit there last week.  The staff were excellent, stationed on the boardwalk at strategic viewing points, happy to explain and answer all our questions, all in truly excellent English.

Our first sun bear sighting was hijacked by an orang utan from next door, who swung in from the trees and proceeded to upstage the bears.

While on the walkway, trying to spot bears below us, we watched in fascination as a young orang utan stole a bottle of insect repellant from a visitor’s back pocket and then proceeded to open the bottle, taste it, pour it all out (narrowly avoiding the crowd below) and eventually toss the bottle into the bushes.

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Yes, it was an interesting photo op, (though one does hope the poor orang utan wasn’t sick as a result of his thieving) but as one of the staff explained –  orang utans will do exactly the same thing to your camera if they get hold of it.  Try and eat it and then throw it away in disgust.

You have been warned.

Back to the bears.

They are the smallest bears in the world.  They love coconuts.  And they are being seemingly well cared for and protected in this centre.

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So, to answer my own question in the title of this post…yes, definitely worth visiting.

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Website: Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre and this will give you the exact address & the opening times.  For what it’s worth, we went there in the early afternoon, before going on for the 3.30 feeding of the orang utans next door, and the timing was perfect.  Not too many people.

Budget about an hour.

We paid our own way and didn’t tell the people at the centre that I blog.

Travels with my coffee mug

If you are a coffee-holic & a bit of a coffee snob to boot, then this review is tailor made for you.  Especially if you travel/hike/climb/trek.  And even more so if you can’t stand instant coffee.

Wearied by frankly revolting coffee in so many (otherwise amazing) places, uncaffeineated at the start of days in (otherwise amazing) remote parts of the globe, this gift, below, from a fellow coffee-holic & trekking friend was beyond perfect.

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It’s a thermal portable coffee plunger mug from Kathmandu – the company, not the city.

So all you need to do is pack a bag of ground coffee, get boiling water from your hotel/camp cook/boil it yourself (hey, you can figure this bit out, right?) and Bob’s your uncle.

The only teensy flaw in this jug is that when your pour out the coffee, it leaks a little from the top, but that is such a small price to pay for having one’s morning caffeine fix that it hardly counts.  I checked the website just now, when sharing the link with you and, guess what I found?

  • Lid is not completely spill proof

There you are, then.

In the 3 years I have had this mug, it has travelled all over the place with me, since it weighs virtually nothing and saves my life every morning.  It’s tough, and in 3 years in backpacks it has precisely one scratch, and I’m still trying to puzzle out where it came from.

Together, we have been up to the Himalayas (I live in India), we have been climbing in Ladakh, to Africa (where we used to live) to Myanmar, Sri Lanka.

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Have Kathmandu coffee mug, will travel is now my new mantra.

Indian Summers Season 2

I have no excuse.  No excuse whatsoever.

A little under a year ago, in this very same blog, I shared with you my thoughts on Indian Summers, a TV drama that…well, let’s just say underwhelmed me totally.

Hey, why mince words?

I thought “Indian Summers” was absolutely terrible.  Truly terrible, despite all that money thrown at it.

Here are a couple of relevant stats (courtesy of the thinking man’s paper, the Daily Mail)

  • Indian Summers is Channel 4’s equivalent to ITV’s Downton Abbey
  • It’s the most expensive drama commissioned in the channel’s history

Anyway, obviously when Season 2 came out, yes, of course, we HAD to watch it, just to see if it was as bad as season 1.

Actually, I approached Season 2 with the hope that perhaps the good folk over at Channel 4 had put a bit more thought & attention to detail into Season 2, and corrected some of the more glaring mistakes/errors/inconsistencies.

Whatever.

No such luck.

Season 2 was every bit as bad as Season 1.

So compulsively bad in fact, that, hooked like addicts on the sheer awfulness of it all, we simply has to watch it right to the weird, rushed, inconclusive end.

But that was the end, I gather.

Channel 4 has mercifully pulled the plug on what should have been a fantastic series and which was, on the contrary, a total disappointment.

I won’t bore you all with repeating the litany of inappropriateness from Series 1 – the locale, the people – because the series is now over.

When the end finally came, I realised that there was not one single major character about whom I cared.

Not one.

Ralph Wheelan?  Nah.  He got his come-uppance.

His wife? Nope.

His sister?  No. Despite her horrid, spivvy husband and her inter-racial love affair, Alice remained boringly one dimensional throughout.

Cynthia? Shudder.  What a truly appalling character.  I cannot for a minute imagine that in colonial Shimla, in the 30s, a woman as common as Cynthia would have called the social shots.

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Tell you what, though  – what I’d love more than anything else is to be proved wrong here, with someone promptly telling me that Julie Walter’s character was based on a real-live person, and then I can re-evaluate the whole thing.

The only nice Brit is that young Scot, Ian McLeod.  And he turns “native”, so there you are.

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On the Indian side…well…they are all portrayed more sympathetically then the Brits, but they are by and large so totally stereotyped.

Roshan Seth is great, and one of the few truly good actors in the series.

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Ayshsa Kala’s character is appealing, and she has the most winning smile and sparkly eyes.

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Way more pizzazz than her brother.images (1)

Don’t get me started on Art Malik as a Maharajah wearing costume jewellery.

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Anyway, it’s all over, a series that was addictive because of its awfulness.

PS: And clearly Channel 4’s answer to “Downton Abbey” it was not.

Running in Adidas Ultra Boost

I sadly retired my Adidas Supernova Glide 6 running shoes a month ago –  boy, how I loved those funky colours –  and replaced them with (yet) another pair of Adidas.

Their Ultra Boost.

The ritual “out with the old and in with the new photo” follows, a comparison which always makes me feel sorry for my old, well-loved, slightly battered looking, soon-to-be-discarded shoes.

Actually, rather than feeling sorry for my old shoes, I feel disloyal.

That’s it.

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The Ultra Boost are every bit as comfy and easy to wear as the Supernova Glide 6, but there is one thing I prefer in the latter – the fact that there is a tongue.

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As opposed to a rounded, moulded shape –  can you see from the photo below, that there isn’t a separate tongue per se?

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It’s purely personal –  I have a high instep, so the tongue fitting is easier to put on.

But that’s it, as far as “criticism” goes, and the lack of a tongue is hardly a criticism, to be honest.

Lovely cushion-y soles:
IMG_3399There is nothing like the first few runs with brand new shoes- you definitely feel as though you have a spring in your step.

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The photo below shoes the difference in the soles of the 2 shoes

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Prime-knit is used and makes for a snug, comfy fit.

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IMG_3394Given the amount I’m running at the moment, these shoes are already well run in, after exactly a month.  I’m taking part in a #100daysofrunning challenge which, for those of you who don’t know Delhi in the summer, is a major challenge.  It is blazingly hot, the rains haven’t yet come, and so this challenge really pushes us all to get out there and run, 43C temperatures notwithstanding.

My first run in these new shoes was exactly a month ago on 4 May and today, 4 June, I have notched up some 235km already.

So, yes, I might only have had these shoes for a month, but I can safely claim that I like them and enjoy running in them.

I bought the shoes myself.

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How good is the Anker Solar Charger?

It’s very good, to answer my own question.

I have nothing but praise for the Anker portable solar charger.

I bought it before I went climbing in the Himalayas 2 summers ago, and it worked brilliantly, charging mobile phones mainly, both mine and my fellow team member’s.  Even though there was no connectivity for most of the climb in Ladakh, it meant I could use my phone to record video clips.

Some days, I attached the charger to my daypack (as in the photo below, which is not mine.  It’s from the internet) & I even charged my phone on the go.  Initially I did worry about the charger getting scratched on boulders (it didn’t, of course).

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Once we arrived in camp in the afternoons, out would come my charger and it would sit quietly there, as we all unpacked and set up camp.

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Super impressed and it is now a regular on all outdoors-y type trips, where power could be a problem.

Here are the charger’s vital stats:

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It has 2 USB charging points.

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It weighs in at 14.7oz / 417g so isn’t a liability in your day pack.

Totally recommended.

No one at Anker knows that I blog.

I paid for the charger myself, and bought it online.  As you can do now:

All the photos are from the internet.

AND…as I was looking for photos online to illustrate this review, I found this one, and learned a useful tip, which will be put to good use later this summer, when I’m back in Himalayas – hurray!

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Reviewing the Kalenji hydration backpack

Running in Delhi’s killer summer heat means that hydration is beyond a must.  It is, without exaggeration, a lifesaver.

I usually run with a handheld water bottle, but it doesn’t hold enough for the searing temperatures these days, so I have switched to using my Kalenji 2L backpack, and what an all round improvement.

Firstly, I have way more water available, but almost as importantly, because I’m not gripping a bottle, I am running more relaxed.

I set out every morning at about 5.30/5.45 at which time I don’t need my cap, so into the pack it goes.

A small snack – inside the pack.

My mobile phone goes into a zipped compartment, accessible from both sides, and the head-phones have their own exit.  Way safer than having the phone in my hand.

Can’t think why I haven’t been using this backpack every day.  Certainly makes for more streamlined running.

Totally recommended.

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I bought the backpack myself, and told no one that I blog.

Actually I lie. Technically, one of my running group, Samiksha Mehra, bought it for me from Decathlon in NOIDA. (All of which is to say that no one had/has any idea that I blog!)


MOTHER’S DAY (on Mother’s Day)

This is a cute, feel-good, happy-ending film that belies the truly awful reviews it got.  Check the one in Time magazine –  ouch, it’s harsh.

My daughter Anjulie took me to see it today, on Mother’s Day, and, given the reviews, we went expecting the worst.

It is fluffy, entertaining, doesn’t make you think, made me cry, and all ends happily, so what can be wrong with that, pray tell?  Admittedly, we both agreed that had it NOT been Mother’s day, we probably wouldn’t have gone to see it.

But we did, and we enjoyed our afternoon together.

Jennifer Aniston looks good.

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Ditto the gorgeous Kate Hudson.

Atlanta, GA - Actress Kate Hudson is all smiles as she films on set in humid Atlanta for her new film "Mother's Day". Camera crews were spotted filming scenes at a park. AKM-GSI September 28, 2015 To License These Photos, Please Contact : Steve Ginsburg (310) 505-8447 (323) 423-9397 steve@akmgsi.com sales@akmgsi.com or Maria Buda (917) 242-1505 mbuda@akmgsi.com ginsburgspalyinc@gmail.com

Julia Roberts is totally under-used as a character, and has a truly awful hair do that does nothing for her.  Until she smiles.

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There is a slight Indian connection which we all appreciated here in Delhi.

Yup.

That’s about it, really.

Not great cinema by any stretch of the imagination, but perfect for a Mother’s Day outing with one’s daughter.

THE MAN WHO KNEW INFINITY

Hmmm…

How strange to leave the cinema after watching the divine (& still dishy) Jeremy Irons and that nice young Dev Patel, and yet feel a little underwhelmed.

“The man who knew infinity” is a lovely film, a nice film, but not, I fear, a great film.

It is visually gorgeous, and the period detail is perfect.

Lovely clothes, sweeping vistas, India looking  –  well, very much the way India looks in this kind of film, Trinity College Cambridge looking drop dead fantastic (and I say that as an Oxford graduate)…it’s all visually smashing.

It’s just that the central plot –  the relationship between a young Indian genius and his Cambridge professor – is, well, pretty much just that.  The relationship between S. Ramanujan  (Dev Patel) and G. H. Hardy (Jeremy Irons) IS the film, with any other subplots hardly making any waves.  Ramanujan’s marriage, the outbreak of World War I are there, strands in the narrative, but they could just as easily not have been there, to be perfectly honest.  The story would hardly have been impacted.

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Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the film and absolutely loved the look of it.  It’s just that it wasn’t one of those sweep-you-off-your-feet kind of films, and I had so hoped it would be.

Jeremy Irons is superb, and totally dominates the film.  Every scene he is in, is yet another testimony to how wonderful an actor he is.

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Dev Patel is nice, but is Dev Patel being an Indian with a sing-song-y accent.  He sounded just like his character in “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and I don’t think he should have.  I liked Shazad Latif’s accent way more. And I think he is underused as a character, by the way (Chandra Mahalanobis, that is).

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So yes, nice film.

Beautifully filmed.

But I feel it could have been a wonderful film.  And it isn’t.