Aladdin in New Delhi

Come on, Delhites!

Wake up!

If you haven’t ready been to see “Aladdin”, do so now!

Judging by the tragically more-than-half-empty auditorium last night, people are not exactly flocking to see this great musical production.

In the short speech of thanks after the show, the director Shruti Sharma specifically thanked us all for coming “on a Tuesday”.  I do hope she hasn’t had to make a similar comment about every other day of the week.

I really & truly hope for the remaining shows that the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium is packed, and (sorry for saying this) packed with a more appreciative audience than ours last night.

When we arrived, the delightful crew of ushers (more anon) told everyone to move further down towards the stage, regardless of where our purchased tickets were.  There were stickers on row after row after row of seats, indicating they were empty.

How disheartening for the cast, especially since they went down into the audience at times to sing, and so would have been confronted by rows of empty seats.

Perhaps we just got a particularly dull & unappreciative audience, but my goodness me, were they stinting in their applause.  A cast of super talented youngsters sang and danced their hearts out, and there was scant applause, and when we stood up to give them their much deserved standing ovation at the end, we were asked to sit down by the people behind us.

Anyway, this review isn’t actually about the people sitting around us, arriving late, checking their mobiles during the show, hardly applauding – no, begone with such dull, unappreciative souls!  This review is about the amazing singing and dancing and the enthusiasm of this talented cast.

The show was great fun, and there were moments of sheer magic – the magic carpet for one.

We were a group of 6, namely 2 sets of parents with their 2 daughters, both in their late 20s (bet you thought I was going to say they were little girls, right?! :P) and let me tell you, these 2 young ladies, die-hard fans of the 1992 film, a staple of their childhood, were very excited and also very intrigued at how the magic carpet scene would play out.

Just let me say that it was brilliantly done (I won’t spoil your surprise, don’t worry).  A super moment that did not disappoint.

It is invidious to single out individual actors, in what was a great all-round ensemble effort, but the show stopper is the Genie, played by Mantra, and he is an absolute knockout.

Weaving Hindi into the script, with local jokes and references, he is absolutely fantastic.  His arrival on stage created an instant buzz, and his portrayal of the Genie as slightly camp was hilarious.

Good fun.

An insight into just how much wonderful singing and dancing talent there is here in India – for this is an entirely Indian cast.

So, if you haven’t already seen Aladdin, what are you waiting for?

Hurry up & go, and PLEASE applaud and show these hard working artists that you appreciate their talent.

Oh yes, the ushers.  Remember I mentioned them at the outset?

Every one of these smiling youngsters greeted us with a courteous “adab”, welcoming us to the venue as though into their home.  Same on the way out, hoping we had enjoyed the show, and thanking us for coming.  Delightful touch 🙂

Disclaimer

We paid for our tickets, and no-one connected to the show knows that I blog and write reviews.

How good are La Sportiva G2 SM climbing boots?

Although I have climbed a few mountains, I still feel a tad wary of describing myself as a “mountaineer”.  So this review of my new La Sportiva G2 SM climbing boots might not be full of pukka technical terms, but it most definitely comes from the heart.

By way of background, I started climbing very late in life, and most of my recent climbs have been in the 6000m+ range, and all of them in the Himalayas in India (where I live), and they have all brought me huge joy.

With one caveat.

The only blot on my climbing horizon had been using hired climbing boots, which are usually heavy to carry and to wear, and exhausting to lace up, especially on summit night, when fingers inextricably turn to thumbs, and nerves are at their most tightly-wound.

As a not too experienced climber, I came to dread putting on and lacing up the double boots I would rent.

So in April this year I invested in a pair of La Sportive G2 SM boots and my life has changed for ever.

They are THE most wonderful boots ever.

I am beyond in love with them.

If the truth be told, I fell in love with them the moment I unboxed them.

But there was that $64,000 question – did these beauties need breaking in?

I imagined they did, BUT I had less than a month between purchase and leaving to climb Banderpoonch, a mountain in Uttarakhand in India.

I live in Delhi, where May temperatures are in the upper 30sC/low 40sC, so there was no way I was going to go for a walk in my boots, to break them in.  I’d probably have passed out from the heat.  So I wore them a couple of times inside the house, clumping round inelegantly in shorts against the heat, and wearing my boots.

And then off I went to climb, secretly wondering if I was being foolish & was going to suffer from blisters or other aches and pains, having not worn my boots enough.

No need to worry at all.

These beauties were like slippers from Day One.

I wore them on an acclimatisation hike up from our Base Camp to Camp One, and the boots were fabulous from the word go.  This was the only time I wore them before we hit the snow and the proper climbing started.

     

Comfortable, super easy to put on, and oh-so-blissfully easy to lace up.

I was in heaven.

I never had one moment’s discomfort or stress in these boots.  Not one.

They were easy to put on, requiring none of the contortions I remember from the hired double boots.

The inner is super easy to put on, and fastens with Velcro, and so is easily and painlessly adjustable.  They weigh next to nothing, and each night I’d pop them inside my sleeping bag and we were all as warm as toast.

The outer boot…what total and utter bliss the La Sportiva G2 SM Boa lacing system is.

It is so easy and simple, and is perfect for folks like me, who get slightly stressed on summit night.  On earlier climbs, I remember beginning to hyperventilate as I tried to bend over and lace up first the inner and then the outer boots, with all my layers of clothes on, in the cold, and inevitably in the middle of the night.

No such stress this time round:

1.Velcro the inner boot.

2.Snap the outer boot tight – the Boa lacing system is super easy to use, with 2 dials allowing you to adjust the tightness of your upper and lower feet.

3.Zip up the incorporated gaiters and you’re A for Away.

Here is the one and only Simone Moro (the SM of the name) talking about these boots.

They were light to wear, and so (obviously) light to carry.

They were blissfully comfortable and stress-free to put on.And – call me shallow – I think they are pretty cool looking.

I bought the boots myself, and neither the supplier nor La Sportiva knows that I blog and review.

So, to answer the question I posed in the title of this review – how good are these boots?

They are wonderful. Totally, 100% recommended.

Xiaomi MIJIA PM2.5 Smart Detector Air Quality Monitor

So shocking is the air quality in Delhi, where I live, that a Christmas present of a PM2.5 detector was a great hit.

Our son brought us the Xiaomi MIJIA PM2.5 Smart Detector Air Quality Monitor from China, where he lives, and it is the easiest gadget to set up and use.  Literally just charge it – it uses a standard micro USB –  and you’re A for away.

There is a light that is green when the PM2.5. level is within acceptable norms, and a red light which we have seen far more of, sad to report.

On/off button.  All very easy-peasy.

Since it is super light, you can easily carry the detector with you.  We did, taking it to the Andaman Islands, to test the air quality there, and also testing the air on board our Vistara flight.

Pretty pure, I have to say, as you can see from the photo below:Back here in Delhi, we move it from room to balcony to room, watching in horror as the levels shoot skywards whenever we step out onto our plant-filled balcony.

There’s a full technical review online & I took the liberty of quoting from it regarding the monitor’s vital stats:

“The PM2.5 detector is a pocket-friendly device that easily fits into the pockets as the device weighs 100 grams and measures 62 mm x 62 mm x 32 mm in size. There is a built-in 750 mAh battery that can last up to 2-3 hours on single charge.”

In my other blog, christinepemberton.me, I shared a short video of our monitor recording the changing AQI level as I walked out onto our balcony – the video shows you just how super easy it is to use & interpret the data.

A useful addition to your house, especially if, like me, you live in a polluted place.  It gives you real-time, personalised info, and you can plan your course of action accordingly.

Eating at Cafe Lota in the Delhi Crafts Museum

Finally.

Finally I got my act together (thanks, Catriona) and not only visited the Crafts Museum after aeons, but also had lunch in the absolutely adorable Cafe Lota, situated just at the entrance to the museum complex.

Been meaning to go there forever, and it was every bit as charming as I’d heard.

Like the whole Crafts Museum complex, there was a distinctly retro feel to the place.  A calm, unhurried, un-pushiness, which was balm to the soul.  Here’s a link to a post I wrote about the Crafts Museum.

It’s also about shopping, too 🙂

I decided that if ever I should be so lucky to live in a home with a large courtyard studded with trees, I think I’d like to make a similar space as Cafe Lota has done.

You sit under trees, but are roofed in.

The food was interesting, and that is meant positively.

Indian, but Indian nouvelle-cuisine-y with interesting things on the menu – like mushy pea rotis which, as a Tyke, I obviously had to have.

I’ve never been a chaat fan, after a horrid experience in what was then Bombay in the lovely early days of getting to know India.

Scarred for life, I swore off chaat for decades.

The occasional try over the years didn’t make me change my mind, and yesterday’s dish was fine, but actually, I’m still not a fan.

Catriona loved it, so it’s clearly me.

We had sole cooked in mustard which was heavenly, so heavenly I forgot to take a photo.

And then this mushy-pea bread, makhana and lotus stem combo:

Nice, different, interesting, but a tad awkward to eat, if I’m being honest.  But yet again, the fault is all mine.

Loved the vibe, loved the feel of the place and will definitely plan a return visit.

Great service – un-pushy, un-hassle-y, smiley.

I paid the bill myself, and did not mention that I blog or review.

Reviewing the Newton Motion IV Running Shoes

Exactly 3 months ago today, on 1 April, I won a pair of Newton Motion IV running shoes in a lucky draw in New Delhi, India, where I live. (SO not an April Fool, then!).

As my lovely shoes turn 3 months old today, and have probably racked up some 200km since, it’s time to share my thoughts on these beauties.

Because, let’s not fool ourselves, these shoes are beauties.

They are a fab colour, and there are so many cool design features –  yes, I know they are also super technical and functional features, obviously, but there are details which are stylish as well.

Like so:

The shoe felt instantly comfortable from Day One.  There was not one second of “new shoes” feeling.

The sole is super cushioned, with the lugs that are a hallmark of Newton shoes:

The lugs really do make a difference – I feel lighter when I run in these shoes. I know that’s a horribly untechnical expression, but it’s truly the way I feel – lighter and bouncier.

Here’s the technical low-down from Newton:

Another great feature of these shoes is the heel cushioning.  It’s also super stylish, in keeping with the whole look of these shoes.

And here’s Newton’s own info:

There is also excellent sole cushioning:

I do not use these shoes every day, but alternate with the other shoes in my cupboard, but when I return to my Motion IVs, I definitely feel as though my feet are more protected and “surrounded” –  does that make any sense?

In the 3 months I have owned these shoes, I have run in them many times in Delhi, where I live, and up in the Himalayas, running up and down damp trails in the hills of Himachal Pradesh.  I have run in the rain, in the blistering heat, on grass, in slush, on roads, on trail runs…and these shoes have not given me a moment’s discomfort.  Nor do they show any evidence of wear and tear.  They’ve been washed a few times, after a particularly muddy trail run, and they always come out looking as good as new:

Super happy with them.

Though I won these shoes, neither Newton nor the organisers of the lucky draw asked me to write anything, and I came under no pressure whatsoever to review them.

Will I buy Newton in the future?

Definitely.

And happy 3 month anniversary to us!  

Testing Reebok’s reversible running shorts

Late September & Delhi is at its worst.

Hot, humid, the fag-end of the monsoons – which explains all that heat and humidity.

So, of course, that is exactly when I decide to buy some new running trousers, and test drive them (as it were) in such an unforgiving climate.

Because I’d just bought some Reebok running shoes, I decided to try out their clothing range as well, and bought a pair of reversible running shorts –  well, more capri-length to be exact.

They are indeed reversible –  grey one side, black the other:

I have subsequently used these running shorts at least twice, if not thrice, a week since then, and 2 1/2 months on from humid September, I am every bit as pleased with them, and they show no sign of wear and tear.

They really do wick away the sweat, as advertised:

The only adjustment I made to the trousers when I bought them, was to cut off the care label, in order to make them truly reversible.  Like so:

 

It was stitched on in such a way that removing it was easy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My only cavil – I do wish there was a pocket.

I bought & paid for the trousers myself, and no-one in Reebok knows that I blog.

They cost Rs 2699 (in late September 2016).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you want to buy these running shorts, you can get to Amazon very quickly, straight from this page.  Just click on either of the links below, and they’ll take you straight to their website…but, hey, you know all this stuff, right? 🙂

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.

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.

Disloyal, after hundreds of kilometres together.IMG_3388

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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.

Easy lacing

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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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!)