“To dream of Caramel, and think of Cinnamon…”

Well, if you’re anything like me, and have your memories organised by the city you lived in, the homes you moved, the people you filed your memories in, so on and so forth;  then you’ll know that every year in your memory is forgrounded by the playlists you hummed incessantlty , the  movies you watched (often more than once, and then proceeded to read everything that’s ever been written about them), and little things you obsessed over – the particular kitchenware, a lamp, a bag! Shoes!! (2011 was the year of my first Chanel, and the The Waterboys sang to me about Trumpets !! )

Since there’s generally such a paucity of things written about summing up a year, I thought it’s only fair, new blog and all, that I add my scrumptious two-penny’s worth of input! With none other than Suzanne Vega setting the tone for this post with her lovely Caramel ” It won’t do
To dream of caramel,To think of cinnamon, And long for you.”♫ ;I’ve cooked my books and tallied up my worth-it moments and on this rainy evening, with a nice Assam-blended spicy-chai by the pot full, I begin writing to you!   I thought I’d share a few things that made life special for me!  Nothing life-changing, or  brilliant, just everyday things in an ordinary life! The magic of it probably lies in the details…. and for someo imaklkges ne who’s as easily pleased with life, as me, it probably all boils down to a few good songs, a book or two, a little travel and a few stupendous films. I spend entirely too much time on all these pursuits and have decided to pick one from each genre to share with you.  Hopefully, I’m still off the beaten track, for frankly, my absurdity is really all that I can offer you :P

Let me flag this off with introducing you to a small, fairly unknown band and a song that I fell in love with!  Bloom by The Paper Kites – probably sounds a bit too adolescent for 30-something comfort, but it’s true! It changed the landscape of my heart and made me fall in love with the fact that I have a big hunk o’ love in my life ! :D It’s easy to forget giving that it’s due when you have it, you know, and every now and then, something comes along to unlock that part in your heart, where you end up spending the hour dancing with your family whilst you wait for the washing to be done!!  The Paper Kites have (for me), the right amount of Indie/Folk, (right there between Jose Gonzalez and Jack Johnson), just the right time of day for making a video, and just the right name for their bass guitarist, Sam Rasmussen – very 30-something-worthy reasons to love a band!! ♫ Can I be close to you …… ?♫ I think it’ll be the sound I remember a lot of 2013 to!

Watched what came as a highly recommended film –  Café De Flore. And what a movie it was !!  A tragic love story about people separated by time and circumstance, and the unending lure of a soul mate!  Do we subconsciously continue to be connected to people we lose in love ? The film oscillates between the the corresponding lives of Jacqueline, a young mother and her Downs Syndrome son in 1960s Paris, and Antoine, a recently divorced, up-and-coming DJ in a 30-year-later Montreal. Weaving the two tragic strains together is tenderness and euphoric, obsessive love. And if any of you are Woody Allen fans, you’ll find yourself haunted, just as you are after his films, with a central musical theme! Sophie Hunger’s  voice stays with you a long time…and then there’s Sigur Ros! And Dr. Rockit (I can-not cook without this sountrack in my kitchen -(my favourite place, high on fairy lights and my dearest artwork) and on more energetic days, this is enough to transport me right onto a  dance floor! TMI, I know :)) Well, find the entire soundtrack here!  A brilliant story of letting go, of change and embracing what it brings! As my sn often quotes to me from the Matrix, “You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland and I show you just how deep this rabbit hole goes.” Very Cafe De Flore! :)

By Daniel Simm
By Daniel Simm

Read Starter for Ten : I’m unceremoniously cutting and pasting from Rotten Tomatoes here for I cannot sum up better : “A working-class English boy who has been fortunate enough to be accepted into a posh private university struggles to realize his lifelong dream while simultaneously winning the heart of the girl he loves in a romantic, bittersweet comedy .The time is the mid-’80s, and the University Challenge phenomenon is sweeping through England. Despite his underprivileged background, Essex boy Brian Jackson,  knows that he has what it takes to make it to the finals on one of the most popular programs in all of England. Upon being accepted into Bristol, the ambitious young student soon tries out for the school’s University Challenge team, and set the gears of his ultimate fantasy into motion. Effectively estranged from his single-parent mother (Catherine Tate) just for being accepted into the school, Brian soon gets set to cross yet another class line when he becomes smitten with his beautiful University Challenge teammate and attempts to woo her into his arms her with his formidable advanced general knowledge skills.”

I loved Brian saying : “I admit it. I’d made some mistakes. Okay, some big mistakes. Loads of them. But you can’t hide in your room forever feeling sorry for yourself. It’s not practical. At some point, you’ve got to get back out there, face up to things, and confront your demons. Ever since I can remember, I’d wanted to be clever. Some people are born clever, same way some people are born beautiful. I’m not one of those people. I’m going to have to work at it, put in the effort, and if I mess it up, I’ll learn from it. Besides, sometimes it’s not about knowing the right answer. Sometimes it’s about asking the right questions.” Very “Everyman” ! Watch the trailer , but read the book, they probably used 50 pages of it for the film, and it’s a good five times better- way more wryly humourous! :P You will have to spend a day with yourself, laughing it off!

By Daniel Simm

 I went to Venice, Murano and Burano recently, of course fell in love with everything, lived through every cliche- and succumbed to them all!!  One of the loveliest outcomes of it was that I learned how to make some fantastic Italian food – simple, home-grown goodness. I met a chef who wouldn’t accept that I can’t cook, took me to his kitchen, and showed me… simple? Si, Grazie!!  Here are some of my favourites! Piadine Romagnole and Gamberoni Peperonchino ! Very splop-able, very good! For a hilarious read on cheffy, at-home cooking, read this. Genevieve Fox says it better than I could’ve ever hoped to ; the great tragedy of Haute Homemade! Food Origami….no Ikebana, you get the point! :)

Italian food, pizza, pasta
By Daniel Simm & Kanchan Char

I’ve had two weeks with my children on my own and seen them in such a different light – they’ve suddenly gone from something that I viewed as being a shared possession, OURS, to being their own little people!  They are intelligent children – and I say that solely on their ability to gauge that their survival is directly proportional to their behaviour! I also realised, with a degree of trepidation, that at nearly 7 and 5.5, these memories of a winter holiday with me as their only go-to parent, are going to probably stay forever! We’ve had unstoppable re-runs of The Nutter-Cracker in our living room after they’ve been to see Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker earlier this month! We’ve had fairy cakes and chocolate logs (homemade, may I add with great pride -hard on the eyes, but little drops of heaven on your tastebuds!), babychinos & hot-choc with marshmallows, all too often for a dieters comfort; whilst reading Peter Pan and Puss In Boots, rather regressively!! We’ve joyously concluded that the sole purpose of winter is to embrace all things ‘warming’, heating notwithstanding!!

children, sisters, ballet, mini boden, frugi, joules
By Kanchan Char & Daniel Simm

So, as the rain has drummed on in it’s relentless pitter-patter, and though we’ve stayed up all night through a raging storm,( Gothic enough for me to believe that we indeed inhabit Northanger Abbey), and as I’ve scuffled around, ill-prepared, trying to light scented candles during a power cut; I maintain that it’s  been a wonderful journey! And ending especially nicely with daddy’s return to take over and give mommy a well deserved break 😛 ! We’ve also been busy making a large, very OTT,  Welcome Home Banner! : D A girl’s got to keep her sanity…

I hope that you have had a lovely time as well and have found beautiful moments that will bookmark time for you! Would love to hear what yours were and love even more, if you could leave me reccos to your fave sound, watch and read!! XXX



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Abba or Wham? You know who to blame!

Retro vinyl music

I was recently at John Lewis, a British home & family store, when a chat with a young girl there got me thinking! She was sorting out insoles to cushion my daughter’s high instep when Frank Sinatra began singing “Hello Dolly”!  It’s a song I remember well enough from my first winter here in the UK many moons ago! It followed me everywhere. Armstrong’s voice then, with it’s rich, gravelly texture had made me want to dance – shoulder rolling, sideways shuffling and all that Jazz! The lovely girl, about 19, said she loved that song too, Michael Bublé was it?!  She loved him! He was her Christmas/Winter voice! Though she’d only recently heard it, she felt she knew it all her life. I smiled and acknowledged it with a ”Yes, Michael Bublé has a lovely voice, if a completely vile temper! 🙂 ” I left, inwardly thinking that she probably heard it first as a child, and made very happy memories to it! So did Bublé, presumably!

We’ve all probably stopped short when we’ve heard a particular artist/song play at a restaurant, doing the dishes with the radio on, whilst driving – and gone back to a particular time in our lives. Perhaps to a perfect boy you met when you were 15 and found true love –  the sort that doesn’t even re-al-ly exist, but you had managed to find it! He had the right eyes, the perfect hobbies. He played the guitar, listened to Pink Floyd; knew all the songs on Side B of The Dark Side of the Moon! You both had bemoaned the breakup of Wham!  Ah, the beauty of youth – financial disaster meant nothing more than your dad’s accountant and a bad hairday. Well, if you haven’t felt the power of musical nostalgia in one or it’s many avatars, I think I might’ve actually found Kara !

Abba disco ball bauble
By Kanchan Char

Researchers say that music has an enduring effect on us and that it is in fact potent enough to even restore brain function, improve immunity and considerably reduce stress. And that you can still sing even if you can’t talk again! Simply put, language functions are located in the left brain, but music appreciation is processed in the right. So, when one suffers damage to the left brain, your can be rewire your brain to move those functions to the other side by associating music with language.  Since all our long-term memory is stored in the right brain, this is the precise reason we associate so much of our emotional landscape with music. We’ve transcribed our memories in Quavers, Crotchets and Breves! 

Here’s what gets me – while it’s expected that we’re moved by music that saw us come of age, musical nostalgia seems to transcend that narrow period of susceptibility into a multigenerational phenomena. Not only do we react and respond to music that’s celebrated important periods in our own lives, but seemingly,  also that which lined the lives of our parents. (Of course, this adds an layer of intrigue to those who grew up in bilingual homes and where the musical apple, so to speak, fell rather far from the tree!) It stands clarified in my own life, why I  Alto to every song that Soprano’ed and the converse! I was only answering the call of Simon & Garfunkel from my subconscious! And believe you me, I did that for years!! The sins of our parents…

Apparently, we gravitate to musical genres from the Dopamine Effect, the chemical reactions we have in our brain when we feel calm, happy and soothed. The feel good neurotransmitter! It’s why we still, for most part continue to turn to music. Apart from the odd time one has to socially suffer Brahms’ Fifth Symphony at a friend’s uber-posh family dinner. Classical music is all well and good, but it does nothing other than remind me of how utterly satisfied I am with the crumbs that fell onto my own educational platter! We’ve all still remained friends, fortunately 😛 !

Some of our earliest childhood memories were probably made to music that our parents enjoyed, a lasting impression and the direction your own music choices would take, (and lest we forget, here is also a remnant of their biases and where our musical hair-raising moments have their roots!)! My generation, the late 1970’s born (the last of the ones born-free, might I add) – enjoyed the benefits of when parents didn’t think twice about introducing children to Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen or Elvis singing about Jailhouse experiences! We didn’t focus half as much as we should have on the psychology of Freud or Piaget and Erikson has ostensibly remained just a memory of bad mobile handsets! Then again, I was partly raised in Socialist India! ‘Nuf said! (Shudders at the thought of countless Russian magazine subscriptions!)

antique classical musical notes My children’s first tryst with rythm was colic-preventing Navajo music ! Falcons and flutes and eagle-bone whistles. I didn’t stop to investigate if there were any more reliable rappers on the baby scene since Jordy! I often think of the absurdity of flipping that image and seeing the Navajo calm their teething brood to the sounds of N’Sync or 98 Degrees! Ostracism from the tribe at best, I suppose! After all, there is a fine line that separates music from mere noise, and the one to make that call is the culture that’s listening to it.

The desires, despairs and triumphs of any generation are represented in the music it created. Therefore, it occasionally leaves me feeling grim that the music we seem to be leaving our grandchildren finds itself in the myopic territory of making sure every man has a ‘Beauty and a Beat! I really do try to like Justin Bieber! J

So whether you are the “Birkenstock-wearing, celebrating the birth of Granola and Indie/Folk” type of  person or a “Can’t do without a power-ballad” one- you’ve been subtly influenced by the sounds you first heard and associated well-being with ! Finally, you now have someone to concretely blame for getting it all so horribly wrong! 😀

I’m still wading through my turbid unconscious to find what made me fall in love with Matia Bazar, an Italian experimental pop group that made it big in the late ‘70’s! Or why I feel an unsurmountable urge to face my suck-it-up-and-get-on-with-it moments with Abba’s Lay all your love on me!


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