Indian Summers

How is it possible to be so out of step  – and, perhaps to coin a phrase – so out of thinking step, with pukka critics, with the folks with a day job, who review TV for a living, who get paid to pass judgement?

We just finished watching “Indian Summers” last night, and when Episode 10 was over, the mood was, “Thank the good Lord THAT series is done and dusted”.  But, hey, what’s this?  Everyone else seems to have loved it.

Can it be me?  Am I the one at fault for not liking such a super expensive period production?

Perhaps my critical instincts are not honed enough.

Or, perhaps, more prosaically, me a Brit, married to an Indian and the mother of two gorgeous Anglo Indian children, and living as we do here in India, and my husband having grown up in Simla…perhaps our critical antennae are tuned a little differently.  I say “our” because, for the record, hubby was as underwhelmed as I was.

We were given the boxed set last month, while on holiday in England, and once back in scorching Delhi, we settled down to watch it with great anticipation, naively imagining something as fabulous as “The Jewel in the Crown”, perhaps, or “Heat and Dust”.  I mean, after all, in the aftermath of such a totally gorgeous, glorious, fabulous production such as “Downton Abbey”, here comes a period drama about India in the last days of the Raj…ooh, yes, what could be nicer.  Gorgeous frocks, gorgeous scenery, drama.  We imagined it all.

Not a bit of it.

Frocks first of all, because it’s the easiest thing to deal with.

Why does Ms. Walters wear that same rather peculiar dress, looking more 1960s than 1930s, over and over and over again?

Why does Leena wear the same dark green sari over and over and…

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Now onto that gorgeous scenery.  My sister (who kindly gave us the DVDs) mentioned that it was filmed in Malaysia.  Perhaps if you don’t know India, don’t know Simla, it might have worked, but since we do and we do, it didn’t.  The look, the architecture, the vegetation, the sounds, the tea plantation – none of it looked nor felt Indian.  Sorry, but it just didn’t.  It looked and sounded like tropical Malaysia

Now I am going to have to tread a little carefully in my next comments, in this age of uber PC-ism…but sorry, the Parsi family did not look remotely like a Parsi family.  Ditto those orphans, who looked nothing like Ango-Indians, not even remotely like mixed race children.  It would have been so much more dramatic, I think, to have had children who looked the part.  Especially the oddly feral little boy Adam.  If he had looked pale and half European, I feel he would have been a much more haunting and dramatic presence.  More unsettling.

And, yes, on a point of order : I may be wrong here, but I do not believe in a million years that the Viceroy would have done bad Indian accent, head waggling impersonations.

And as for the slow, oh-so-slow lingering camera angles…that just went on and on and on…my goodness me but they did drag things out.  The action sort of speeded up in the final 2 or 3 episodes, where suddenly all the wandering plot lines were yanked together, but then – blow me down with the proverbial feather –  just when you thought they had dispensed with the slow filming, we have Mr. Dalal running in slow-mo.  And we have long, lingering footage of Mr. Dalal and Alice dancing …it’s OK, we get it.  They love each other and are gazing lovingly at each other across a crowded dance floor.  We.  Get.  It.

So, yes, actually – very disappointed, both in the muddled storyline and the seriously mediocre acting (other than the fabulous Roshan Seth, who dazzles.  And who is the only one in that family who really looks and sounds like a Parsi).

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Who is the hero of the piece?  Ralph Wheelan and/or Mr. Dalal?

Are we actually supposed to like Ralph?  I do hope not, because my only thought was that by marrying a woman whom he thinks is rich but is actually skint, at least this scheming manipulative man would be getting some kind of comeuppence.  What a nasty, two-faced hypocritcal bit of work he is.

Cynthia is just downright unpleasant.  And can anyone tell me why she was at the hanging?  Her role as a glorified innkeeper permitted her that?  I hardly think Dalal pere et fils coming to her all-white club was comeuppance enough for her.

So little did I like her character that I actually thought she was going to go up in flames in the final episode when she drunkenly lights candles – and why the Hindu shrine in her drinking den?

 

Not a fan.  Not at all.

And what’s with the plural “summers” in the title?  Does that mean there is more to come?

 

FYI, here’s what Channel4 said about their own show:

  • Set against the sweeping grandeur of the Himalayas and tea plantations of Northern India, the drama tells the rich and explosive story of the decline of the British Empire and the birth of modern India, from both sides of the experience. But at the heart of the story lie the implications and ramifications of the tangled web of passions, rivalries and clashes that define the lives of those brought together in this summer which will change everything. It’s the summer of 1932. India dreams of Independence, but the British are clinging to power. In the foothills of the Himalayas stands Simla; a little England where every summer the British power-brokers of this nation are posted to govern during the summer months.

    – Written by Channel4

Tiffinware – THE place to find stylish, whimsical silverware in Delhi & in the UK

Disclosure time first.

Risham Chawla who runs Tiffinware here in Delhi is a friend, but I see no reason not to review her Tiffinware products the way I would any other supplier.

I have bought her products as gifts for friends overseas, who unanimously love them, and for my own use, and I equally love them.

Tiffinware specialises in fun, original pieces for the home – especially for your dining table. Cutlery, cake-stands, serving dishes, and a personal favourite, seriously stylish egg-cosies.

As in a beautifully beaded cover to keep your breakfast boiled egg warm and cosy.  And why wouldn’t you ?

One of Tiffinware’s unique features is the beaded handles on their cutlery and knives – you can change the beads, the colours, the patterns at the time of ordering, customising them to suit your own decor.

Tiffinware’s website is easily navigated, and is slick and simple to use.

On the website you can find out where their pop up sales are taking place, whether in the UK or in India, and also check where the outlets are.

The website shows most of the range of products which are designed by Risham herself and which are made by master craftsmen here in India.

For the loyal royalist out there, or simply for the lover of fun, one-of-a-kind gifts, there is currently a range of absolutely fabulous items for the rapidly approaching Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth.

Jubilee egg cosy, anyone ?

Go on –  isn’t this irresistible ?

How about a Diamond Jubilee tea cosy, as well ?

 

If you are based in Delhi, you can call Risham for an appointment, and go check out the many other gorgeous things she also makes – shawls, stoles, clothing, luscious handbags, and a wide range of jewellery, including lovely silver cuff links, which have become something of a gift staple for this reviewer.

And here are a few more items to tempt you – if you are not already online at Tiffinware, shopping, that is.

 

The address and contact details are all on the website, or you can contact Risham (below, hard at work with her signature beads) via Twitter – @Tiffinware

Great scarf shopping in Delhi

We have this end-of-holiday ritual, my daughter and I.

Before she heads back to university in England, we go shopping for scarves and dupattas, which are her favoured presents over there.  Brightly coloured long scarves, some with beads, some with prints, some crinkled, are always welcome, and her university friends seem to love them, and so off we go, several times a year to Ram Ji Sons in Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar.

In all the years I have been going to this popular shop, I have never, ever once found the shop empty.  Not even half-empty.  It is always packed to the gills with women shopping up a storm.  Fabrics of every description are sold there, and if you look up, the scarves and dupattas are hanging from the ceiling.  Select what you want, try and catch the eye of one of the assistants, and you’re A for away.

The address is Lajpat Nagar Central Market –  they are the shop on the corner, so 2 entrances.

They take credit cards, too.

As you can see from the bills, the scarves are in the Rs 125-175 range.