Boston Legal- Is it fun being you?

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Why would a series that debuted almost a decade over have one hooked? In this era of fast moving TV series and even shorter public memory, there has to be something about Boston Legal that Star World is telecasting it long after it should have been buried and forgotten. One of the wittiest series I have seen, Boston Legal obfuscates all lines between black and white taking us into the hitherto unchartered areas of grey. There is no doubt that the series owes its success to Alan Shore and Denny Crane. Played superbly by James Spader and William Shatner with their Mad Cows, inimitable style and unparalleled chemistry, the duos are the heart and soul of the series. Rest of the cast could at best be a supporting cast. That is not to say that they aren’t good. Candice Bergen as Shirley Schmidt, Julie Bowen as Denise are all great. Just that they are not Alan or Denny.

Probably the best courtroom drama series I have seen, Boston Legals genius, to my mind, lies not in the questions it raises about “America” or all that America stands for or the Bush administration but the human, philosophical issues it makes one think about. Who would have thought that an American courtroom series, with a bunch of eccentric, if genius, lawyers could make you delve into the deeper philosophical questions about human existence. “Is it fun being you?” – Ever since Denny Crane asked this seminal question, I’ve been wondering the same – “Is it fun being me?” Never mind the roller coaster ride that life is with all its successes and failures, at the end of it all it has to be “fun” in the wider sense of the word. If all that you do and go through, it is fun being you, the world be damned. If not, well, you are damned.

Alan Shore and Denny Crane, with their lopsided personalities, eccentricities and psychological issues exhibit a male camaraderie and bonding that is rarely seen. Be it with cigars in their ears in their private balcony, or dressed as flamingos or tied together with a rope around the ankle, theirs is a relationship not easily seen especially among men. In fact, Denny Crane himself points it out- what they have, not many men have. With subtle sexual undertones and witty repartee they are soul mates in the true sense of the word- “I can’t imagine going through life without you as my best friend. I’m not going to kiss you however”.

If we are lucky, we’ll perhaps have one person in life that we can say this about – someone we can agree to disagree with; someone we can expect to pull the plug on us as effortlessly as sip scotch with- someone who will make it “fun being you” and who you look good together with. If not, one can live it vicariously through Alan-Denny madness-  lock and load!

 

Forest Essentials Hair Cleanser Bitter Orange and Cinnamon and Hair Conditioner Indian Rose Absolute

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Common sense, it has often been said, is the most uncommon of things. I realised the truth of this statement a few months ago, much to my cost if I may add. I have dry hair but almost always oil it the night before washing. The SA at Forest Essentials Chandigarh outlet suggested that I use a shampoo meant for oily hair to ensure that the oil comes out but a conditioner meant for dry hair since my hair is dry. Hmmm…. now that did make a lot of sense to me and ever since I’ve been wondering why didn’t I think of it myself earlier. I’ve always picked up shampoo-conditioner of the same category ( for dry/damaged hair), may be because they are marketed together. The idea of combining a shampoo and conditioner from two different ranges just didn’t occur to me. See…common sense, not so common after all!

The shampoo she gave me was “Bitter Orange and Cinnamon” while the conditioner was “Indian Rose Absolute”. The Bitter Orange and Cinnamon Hair Cleanser says for “normal to dry hair” but all the reviews I’ve read say it’s not for dry hair and even the SA told me as much. The ingredient list reads as – coconut oil derivatives, reetha, soya protein,shikakai,bay leaf, bitter orange essential oil, bhringraj, cinnamon essential oil, heena etc. The shampoo is brown coloured with a mild smell suggestive of reetha. Its has a reasonably thick consistency which is neither runny nor like whipped cream- just right. I have used it only on oiled hair and though I need to repeat it twice, the quantity used is much less than that of shampoo for dry hair, especially in the 2nd wash.

The conditioner I’ve been following it up with is Indian Rose Absolute, meant for dry hair. The primary ingredients are – coconut oil derivatives, cold pressed organic almond oil, jojoba oil, hibiscus, shikakai, rose absolute damscen, brahmi, heena etc. It’s a white coloured creamy conditioner with the consistency like that of a body lotion. Unlike chemical based conditioners, say L’oreal and the like, this isn’t slippery or that creamy and massages smoothly into the hair. It doesn’t need as much effort in washing out either. Hair come out smooth and shining but not the slippery smooth of chemical conditioners and needs some getting used to.

For a quick recap-

  1. The shampoo is for “oily hair” no matter what the label says. It worked well to take oil out of my hair. The conditioner is for dry hair and works well. combining shampoo and conditioner depending on your scalp-hair is a good idea rather than just picking up a combo.
  2. All natural ingredients.
  3. I can’t say anything about the claims of these particular products regarding promoting hair growth etc, but ever since I switched to natural products, the health of my hair has been so much better- normal hair fall, no dandruff or excessive dryness and good growth rate.
  4. Pleasant smelling.
  5. Cruelty free.

On the flip side is the price tag-I picked up the shampoo at Rs 680/- for 200ml but seems Forest Essentials has hiked the price to Rs 775/-. The conditioner is priced at Rs 875/- for 200 ml. If you like natural, ayurvedic products for your hair, this is a good, even if an expensive buy. 

Yoga – Its colonisation and decolonisation

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Ever since I started regular and devoted yoga practice about six months ago, I’ve been reading a lot of blogs/articles on yoga ( not yoga theory  as in the Yogasutras and the like but just articles and blogs on yoga). Of course, I would probably benefit more if I spent more time practising than reading but yes, I enjoy reading these websites. As I read these articles, a lot of issues that are being raised forced me to think. The most intriguing line of thought that I’ve been reading talks about, to put it succinctly, how yoga has become the handmaid of thin, white, skinny females, has in fact been “hijacked” by the white west and there are talks of “decolonising” yoga.

While I would not go as far as saying that yoga has been hijacked by the west, my own wanderings and search in the field did make me realise some truth in this line of argument. Yoga is indeed in need of some serious reclamation, especially here in India and, interestingly, not from the west or from skinny, white females but from us. Let me elaborate. As I started my off and on yoga journey a couple of years back and my regular practice 6 months ago, the single biggest challenge was to find a ‘good, sensible’ yoga teacher. As I had said in an earlier post (here), we in India consider ourselves born yogis- both in the realm of philosophy and asanas. That we need to “learn” yoga, sincerely with years of consistent practice and that too on payment, is beyond us. Every other park has a ‘free’ yoga and pranayama class going on in the morning. What is taught and done in the name of yoga, is anyone’s guess. An average group class will cost somewhere between USD40 to USD 80 a month ( approx 5 one hour classes a week) which is rather reasonable seeing how much a yoga teacher training from a reputed place costs and how much studios abroad are charging, but we don’t want to pay. Those who “teach” for free need to learn much themselves.

There are a plethora of gyms opening in every nook and corner but yoga studios with a variety of classes and flexible schedules are just not there. In all my wanderings I have just come heard of one yoga studio, 136.1 (http://136point1.com/) in Bangalore and Chennai that offers a variety of yoga classes. Up North you’ll be lucky if you can find a teacher who takes a class in the morning and evening forget about a yoga studio. Yes, there are Yoga institutes like Iyengar Institute in Pune or the Sivananda Ashrams but for ordinary people who want to learn but cannot devote their life to the practice, options are few.

Furthermore, there is as much a dearth of seasoned, trained teachers as there is of sincere learners willing to devote time to years of steady practice. The reason we find skinny, white females exhibiting advanced asanas is simply that more of them have devoted time to learn and master asanas. In all my visits to yoga classes I am yet to come across a student who could go into a headstand. Of course this is not to say that these striking pictures should deter ordinary people like me from practising. As much as I hate to admit it, I feel quite awed and intimidated by these gorgeous women in gorgeous poses. That they overawe me so, is my problem not theirs- they are simply doing what they want to. If that deters me, it’s my problem not theirs.

When there is a dearth of good yoga teachers and students, in fact of a yogic community, it follows logically that the voice of a yoga teacher from India on the International forums will be missing. In all the articles that I have read, on websites like Yoganonymous, Yoga Journal, DoYouYoga, just to name a few, at best I’ve come across an article by someone of Indian origin practicing and teaching in the West, but sadly no one practising and teaching in India. Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois are all time greats; but in the current scene I hear only names like Seane Corn, Rodney Yee, Shiva Rea, David  Life, Sharon Gannon etc . Maybe I’m not as aware as I should be but these are the names that I frequently come across and read about. Bikram Choudhury I have deliberately left out as, to my limited mind, yoga in heated studios is deviating vastly from the underlying principles of yoga.

When we are lacking in yoga teachers and students, the peripherals of yoga can’t be easy to find. Finding a good mat in India is a daunting task. Yes, traditionally yoga was performed on bare ground or at best on a rug and perhaps the yoga mat is a western trapping, but personally, I find it impossible to practice without one. Forget Manduka or Jade Yoga mats, the average yoga mat available here is around USD 8- 10 and leaves much to be desired. Sadly none of them will stay put while not making you slip. As my search for a good mat continues, my downward dog is in serious danger daily of ending up as a flat-dog-on-its-face.

So do I let my practice be “hijacked” by these shortcomings? Not really. Yes sadly odds are many but as I go on my slippery mat, attempting to hold a downward dog, I am in fact grateful to the West for honouring, appreciating and keeping alive a practice that might have otherwise faded into oblivion. Do I think we need to “decolonise” or “reclaim” it? Not really. All we need to do is to honour, appreciate and practice- rest will follow.