Monday, 13 November 2017

Secure your Child in the Cyber world!

As a parent, two things are priority on my worry list- the pollution menace and the cyber world. While my son wears the anti-pollution mask outside of the house, there is little I can do to protect him from the dangers that lurk inside the cyber world. Or so I thought, before The Insider met likeminded mums, bloggers and the experts at a recent event at Kidzania in collaboration with Microsoft India. 
A mum to a Pre-teen who isn't into gadgets at all, would rather curl up with a book in a corner, than surf the net, I don't see this as a major problem right now, however, no discounting that this can happen sometime soon, very soon. Here are five ways to protect your child from the from the ills of the cyber world. 
Son and I - On a heritage exploration!

Get off the gadget yourself!

Parents, in the  garb of being a parent blogger, happily share screen space on their Instagram and snapchat handles, trying out new faces filters with glee! Constantly making odd faces, and admiring them. No one is asking you to obliterate the existence of devices from your or her life, however, it is best to leave this exposure for later. Let's not normalise this reality, too early in their lives!
Listen to what the doc says! 
Dr. Jyoti Kapoor, Sr. Psychiatrist, Paras Hospitals had this to say at the event, listen up or lose out! “It is important that while we draw benefit from the immense potential of new technologies, we must also make use of all the security features available to make it a safe and pleasant experience.” We couldn't  have agreed more!

Know your Tech- Make it Safe!
Use the Microsoft Family Safety features and Windows 10 Parental Controls that can safeguard children in the cyber world. If using any other software, ensure that you don't share the admin authority with the child. 
Dr Jyoti Kapoor, Sr. Psychiatrist, Paras Hospitals, Alok Lall, Partner Technology Lead, Microsoft India and Viraj Jit Singh, Chief Marketing Officer, Kidzania India at the Microsoft and Kidzania cyber physical safety event
Alok Lall, Partner Technology Lead, Microsoft India, post a detailed explanation of how to negotiate  parental controls on the software shared that there is no reason why we should become technophobic. He added that when a child is exposed to technology in a safe environment, it can be beneficial without a doubt. He spelled it out for us, However, most parents are rightly worried about some of the content their children may be exposed to on the web and want to keep them safe online. As a parent myself, I would encourage everyone to take advantage of the Microsoft Family features within Windows 10 to create a secure online environment."
Hold the School Accountable too!
With new found ideas in education, such as using technology, videos, audio files and recording facilities to teach the child in a learner centric manner being all the rage in schools of today, it's not enough to leave it to the child to use technology and pretend that he has learnt all that there is on the screen. Teachers need to be equipped with the judicious use of technology to teach efficiently. You should not increase their screen dependence and encourage an irrational use of the Internet, to show, a technologically advanced education system. Asking the school, checking if the manner in which technology is being used is appropriate, is what to me being a 'smart' parent entails. 
Beyond a 'Smart' Class
All the best to us for bringing up a child in the cyber cognizant world of today. May the force be with us! 
Note: To protect children from inappropriate content and secure the system from malware, Windows 10 Fall Creators Update has introduced new features in the Windows Defender Security Center that provide easy access to and integration with Parental Controls. Microsoft Family allows parents to insulate their children from inappropriate content strewn across the web. When parents add their child to the Microsoft Family and turn on activity reporting, they get weekly activity report emails that show a summary of their activity, including websites visited, games and apps used, terms searched for on search engines like Bing and how much screen time they had, even if they have logged in from a friend’s house or any other screen.

Friday, 27 October 2017

5 'Off the Ramp' No-No list!

Fashionably bustling days of FDCI 30th edition of Amazon India Fashion Week, in association with Nexa Spring/Summer'18, recently came to a resounding close in the capital.We were there to witness fashion on the ramp and off it too. 

While the best #Sreetstyle was amply amplified on social media, the overreaching of one's fashionable self, was skipped by these style spies. Some glaring fashion OTTs and some complete misses, make it to The Insider's top 5! No we're not fashion experts, but know what's trying too hard, when we see it! Have a read of our 'Off the ramp' top picks and agree/disagree at will... also add to the list!
OTT much?
We have seen the street style features upping the fashion game amongst the audience, with accessories ruling the roost. However, accessorising too much is a thing, right? Give that chunky stifling neckpiece an omit if you have got some stunning ear stuff happening! 
Layering of Layers
There is such a thing as too many layers fahsionistas- even sedimentary rocks know that! Great you've got a shrug/cape/dusters on, but don't  for god's sake, don't do an overkill! Wear one out of these. Oh yeah, you'd be surprised, if you were us! The 'swag' word is so overrated.
Kitschy can be a compound.. not a mixture
No, don't go about mixing, textures, fabrics, patterns and designs- for the sake of it- it's an outfit, not a cocktail. 
Trendy much?
Distressed jeans -oh yeah, but distressed while wearing those and looking ill at ease- a no no! Following a trend mandates owning it. So be yourself! 
Saree Swag 
Boho-ethnic is in, we get it. But wearing sneakers with knee high sarees ..ok, even ankle high drapes, is just plain wannabe...we get that too! Avoid!
At the end of the day the fashion week is more than just selfies and self love! Peace out!
For The #InsiderViews from the Ramp shows that stood out follow the feed, if you haven't already!
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#TheInsiderviews #ItsaWrap @thefdci @amazonfashionin -Welcome to @shivanandnarresh’s fashionable boudoir replete with The Japanese photographer, Nobuyoshi Araki’s inspirational provocative imagery. #Arakitales. Lush botanical prints boasting of forest sights, lined with vibrant flora on Italian Crepe Jersey and thick knits. Skein motifs flirting with crystals lend a new dimension to the abstraction. Hop across then to closer home, in @anjumodi’s #swadeshi movement inspired hand looms. The raw, rugged coarse cloth that the charkha churned out is the organic palette that the designer brings forth. Move over then to the Victorian menagerie of @charu_parashar_official- Victorian glass house forms her inspiration and botanical motifs are a common thread. @solteebysulakshanamonga unearths traditional fabrics with a modern taste to serve to the comfort chic appetite of the fash frat. @_huemn saw the recollection of the socio-economic cocoon we inhabit, without passing judgment but making a statement. Fashion saw taking many turns with this season finale, especially with the #seenowbuynow Concept for instant fashionable gratification! . . . #season30 #nexa #fashion #AIFWSS18 #India #designs #Designer #fahsionblog #blogger #instapic #followforfollow #likeback #instalike #mensfashion #men #models #malemodels
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Friday, 20 October 2017

A Cultural Mix!

I don't view culture as a monolithic entity. Fluid, visible and sometimes tangible in the garb of language and and at others, detected in the grammar of day to day living. Creativity and its manifestation in music, theatre and dance are also informed by cultural influences. Recently, British Council, in its continued celebration of the UK /India, Year of  Culture 2017, unveiled Mix the Body, an interactive digital experience across India. 
Created by Flying Object with world-renowned choreographer Wayne McGregor and Attakkalari Dance Company from India- MixTheBody allows the viewer to draw shapes on the screen, select specially created music-from electronic to cinematic-then 'mix' it together for a final pièce de résistance to share with the world! For those not in the know-Wayne McGregor is a prolific dance maker, and the first Resident Choreographer of The Royal Ballet to come from contemporary dance. He has delivered world premieres for international companies including Paris Opera Ballet, New York City Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet and Australian Ballet, and choreographed movies (Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) and music videos (Radiohead’s Lotus Flower). In January 2011, McGregor was awarded a CBE in the New Year Honours List.

I was there at the launch and tried my hand at the platform to mix creativity with technology against the two cultures' backdrop! Have a see of my effort!
The Insider's Mix the Body piece
In a tête-à-tête with The Insider, Alan Gemmell, OBE, Director India, British Council shared his excitement about the the launch of the third in the 'Mix' series for furthering cultural ties with India. 'Digital is the future and the reach it has is phenomenal. In so far as the tangible result of the previous campaigns is concerned, then the overwhelming number of visits on the website is a heartening indicator of its reach. 'Mix' is the leitmotif that runs across the three digital platforms of cultural collaboration. Mix the Dance allows a world-class collaboration with choreographer Wayne McGregor and composers like Jon Hopkins and Max Richter.' The success of the collaboration is also to be measured by the fact that one of the musicians on board for Mix the Body series, is a find from the earlier, Mix the City campaign. 
The choice of contemporary dance to collaborate on as a cultural symphony is apt as it reaches out to the growing number of this dance form's recent enthusiasts as well as aficionados. Also, in such a vast and diverse spread of India's dance forms of equal charm, one can imaging how difficult  it is  to zero in on one. Gemmell however, admits that it's a rich landscape in dance and the creative arts and shares that he was fascinated by the Bihu dance he recently saw in Assam.
'Mix'ed the Body yet?
This digitisation of a cultural aspect of exchange could well be the metaphor for the creative virtual world we inhabit. With a tick on Music, theatre and now dance as a motif, what could be next... The insider conjectures, Mix the Words? Watch this space!  

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Atop the Delhi Sky!

The past week saw the Insider join a book discussion, attend the exclusive launch of a rooftop Lounge and is now walking the Fashion talk at the Amazon India Fashion Week, as you read this.The Royal Plaza hotel is a little nugget of a heritage property hidden from the luxe traveller's eye, at Janpath, in the heart of Delhi.
The seasonal opening of its 19th floor, rooftop Sky Bar & Grill at the Connaught recently, had The Insider revel in the capital's vistas and their sumptuous spread. It was an equally pleasant scenic change getting elevated (literally) to the 19th floor from its impressive French interiors of the foyer, resplendent in Baroque sheen, with frescoes on the wall to the high ceiling, to glass encased cherubs. 
A Roof With a View!
The first sight of a bustling Delhi below, as you stand staring at the distant calm, sets the stage for chilling atop the city! The Lounge is divided into two separate spaces that are connected by a ramp: The Moon Bar and the Presidential Lounge. One side overlooks the majestic Rajpath, flanked by the Presidential Palace and the India Gate memorial. To the other, Connaught Place’s Georgian architecture catches your eye.
From the colonial to the French Renaissance inspired architecture, Delhi has an eclectic mix of hotel properties, each unique in its own way. From the pianist in the lobby playing lilting tunes to the beats of the DJ's tunes at the Sky, take your pick to suit your taste.
Judging by the  events planned  on the hotels' turntable, the lounge is ready to belt out Sufi nights as well as World Music. Come winters, you can attend the Champagne day soirees. For now revel in the views!

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Of Bhopal House

If you're slightly familiar with Bhopal, my case in point, you  would know the languid, luxurious charm the city possesses. My solitary visit to Bhopal has been for a, yes, you guessed it, a family wedding in Arera colony, one of the oldest colonies, South in the lake city. Amidst the manicured gardens in the sprawling bungalow teeming with the wedding party in the ancestral house, there was the din of marriage and of course bonhomie. Not much later, time seemed to have stood still in that picturesque lake where we were whisked off to, on a cruise atop a barge'ish' boat. Later that day the decadence and  pleasure seekers head to the majestic Jehan Numa and much later to the Nur us Sabah palace- heritage building now preserved as hotels. We regale further in each other's company and wine! Cut to the streets of the chowk bazaar resplendent in all ways, people and the brightly lit gota and paut (popular beadwork trinkets). 
Suffice to say that the brief sojourn almost a decade ago, had piqued my curiosity about this quaint town. M.P as it is, wasn't a stranger -having spent some time in Gwalior and explored its Bada and Sarrafa enough, along with of course the Forts and the chattris.  When the book Bhopal Connections, Vignettes of Royal Rule, Shaharyar Muhammed Khan, Roli Books landed on my review desk, I was thrilled to bits. Excited at the notion of being privy to a royal's account of the royals. The author is the grandson of the last ruling Nawab of Bhopal, H.H. Hamidullah Khan- this added to the urgency to flip through this 152 pager. 
The anecdotal and narrative technique of the writer glides us along the intrigues, scandals, joys, societal norms and the many surprises that the Bhopal house, houses, chapter after chapter. An insider's info and first person account in the latter part, brings the reader as close as possible to rubbing shoulders with the royalty. Amidst the fondness of shikaar, the lure of indulgence, the cordial relations and later, the acquiesce to the British Raj's ruling, there lies the humanising of the Royals. The largeness of their heart and mind in treating a captive with respect and honour and at others Machiavellian machinations for securing power- both sides get equal light. Most significantly, the equanimity in the Royal rule comes forth. With a large part of the ruling history presided over by the Nawab Begums of Bhopal- Qudsia Begum, Nawab Sikandar Begum, Begum Sultan Shah Jehan and Begum Kaikhusrau Jehan. 
Bhopal's history through the lives and times of its founder, Dost Muhammad Khan to the final accession of the state to M.P, in 1949 is relayed by the author in an anecdotal tone and tenor. An engaging beginning of each chapter has been clearly worked out to whet the reader's interest- the technique hits the bull's eye! No mean task to glide over decades of rule by individuals, to recount the turn of the tide and swoop over the changing times through the establishment of the Raj, the sepoy mutiny and to final acceding to the Indian state. 
To a history buff, the writer places things in perspective but to say that it could be the Bible of Bhopal's history, not that there has been any such claim, would be misplaced enthusiasm. The information in parts, appears repetitive and in others rushed. The language also in bits effortlessly eloquent in others circuitous. The relaying of incidents largely limits itself not in scope but in depth. It would make however, an interesting read for a history enthusiast, like it did for me and also would be suited for a young adult reading. And why not, this is the age that's hardly reading, especially about the Past. 
As a start point of knowing the history of this princely state, the book wasn't a false start. But sure enough, wasn't the finishing line too!

Bhopal Connections- Vignettes of Royal Rule 
Shaharayar Muhammed Khan
Roli Books 

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Decoding a Fashionable Play!

Most sports stars are that, stars, on and off the field. Especially now, when Instagram filters don't let you have a bad hair day! Though the stipulated protocol of dressing has to be adhered to on the field ,  we've still seen Tennis power women turning out at the court, in no less than high fashion dresses - think lace and denims! Who could miss Sharapova's sharp tuxedo styled white number or senior William sister's pleated Nike shift dress. Within the bounds of a dress specification, a lot can be done! 
From then to Now!
Golf is perhaps the second most stylish game, after Tennis (a personal opinion). Golf  fashion and its charm has a fascinating recorded history to it. From the bustles, crinolines and constricting petticoats  of the Victorian age to the more refined yet largely street wear flavour later on to the trousers a.k.a slacks worn by women in the 30's- Golf fashion pushed the boundary of rules, staying fashionably within it! 
Cut to the present when I recently attended a Golf and club wear  high fashion unveiling. The designer Christine Storm a recording artist from the US and I got chatting about exclusivity and elitism of Golf and interpretation of fashion on the Golf turf within the necessary protocols.  The collection comprised her signature Golf & resort line consisting of dresses, trousers, shirts in varied colors and cuts. 'I believe women golfers can be chic and athletic at the same time'  Agreed, looking and feeling good go hand in hand. 'We use the best sports suitable fabric to help the player do so'. Storm agrees that protocols in dressing should be adhered to and hence married fashion fanciness with club correctness . 
Golfing Right 
Her couture inspired golf clothes are transitional- to flow into the night post a field workout!  This course to the club just with a change of the shoe! 'While watching golfers on the course I began to imagine lines on the body that might be put there from a high-end designer or costumer that would allow someone to look  while still effortlessly swinging the club, freeing them from the boxy, unflattering attire!' Have a read of an a sample of Golf's charm from a poem culled out of an anthology of eulogies on Golfing divas' drives- The Golf Girl by Samuel Minturn Peck. 

Golf can surely do wonders I say :)! Look out for Christine's collection creating a storm at a Pro shop and at high-end boutiques near you!
The designer's Sign!

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Lawyers as Politicians, Anyone?

I have very little faith in politics and no experience with lawyers ( touchwood!) to make up my mind on them yet! The previous paucity of trust stems from a purely personal distrust emanating from years of nursing the middle class hang up - 'Do as you say and say what you do!'- something that politicians don't have the liberty of doing- especially nowadays, you never know where the next twitter lynching is hidden! 
It was the coming together of Politics and Law on stage that  made me accept the invite for the launch of  Courting Politics- Shweta Bansal, EBC. The book etches out the life and times of nine Lawyer luminaries who have raised the bar (pun unintended) in the political sphere. Bansal in the tome, charts out the individual journeys of these men. She doles out in her conversational manner of writing, snippets into the personal, professional and political crests and troughs in their lives. 

The glaring absence of a woman in this august company is lamented by Fali S Nariman in his Foreword to the book and rightly defended by the author in the Introduction. The inter woven themes in the book are intriguing. Can the political identity of a lawyer sunder itself from the party's ideology, in a manner of speaking? Can the two passions be seen as disparate in their own right and allowed to remain so? Is there a stepping on one's toes while doing either of the jobs? 
The men she chooses to talk about are not without faults. The writer doesn't hold back from getting her hands dirty with that nitty-gritty of their illustrious lives. In her own admission, keeping up with her subjects' busy schedules, mandated her doubt that the book will ever see the light of day, before she says au revoir to life!  I ask Shweta how generous were the men in giving her face to face time to chisel her word heaps. ' Oh! They were more than just that- I could talk to them and garner many details of their lives' 
Legal eagles all, the author makes a note of their stellar cases that they made a name for themselves in ranging from the nonagenarian- Jethmalani's KM Nanavati v. State of Bombay which was an archetype of a greek tragedy as it were to minister  Ravi Shankar Prasad's - who she rightly grants the epithet- The Lawyer of lord Rama! She delves into the culinary choices of the lawyers too and doesn't spare a mention of their pet peeves too. She dextrously glides the conversation into an outlining of their many high and lows. She draws out in the chat with the lawyers their mantra of treading this thin line of public life with a legal one and of course not to forget the personal too! I ask her if she had to tone down her language to ensure a greater reach of readers and she agrees, 'Yes, I was conscious of avoiding legalese and jargon to make it palatable, however the subject was such that it didn't require all that tweaking.' 
Yours Truly- Courting Books 
Glib talkers and erudite, wise saws gliding off their tongue, the book launch at the historical Bikaner House in the capital saw a back and forth of political sparring and as also a healthy banter amongst the lawyers. The book is immensely readable if you're interested in this aspect of the men who are already quite popular and am gauging, harbour ambitions of a memoir. Don't go about looking for instances of literary gems, instead go looking for the truth that lies bared in Bansal's simple yet engaging lexicon. 
The book is fraught with pitfalls of a simplistic narration at times and also of excessive reliance on the grandiose subjects' aura. The author in her debut novel however, chooses an ambitious theme- one she does full justice to, considering she's an experienced lawyer herself.
Bansal's tying up of this political and legal thread in the lives of these men is commendable however this is a classic case of a deserving writer becoming a blurb amidst her subject that command headlines. I wish there were more sound bytes from her at the panel discussion. I wanted to hear more of her at the launch as I knew I'd get to read about the lawyer-politicians in the book!
Her next book she tells me is going to be a  non-fiction too, one that I am looking forward to reading because of her and not because of who she is writing about. More Power!      

Courting Politics
Shweta Bansal