It’s been a fascinating year in my somewhat tumultuous journey through life. The year 2008 has been one filled with surprises, the newest being Obama – the new president of America, who is Black, Christian and born to Muslim and Jewish parentage. He is everyman, a man of the world and his coming to power certainly took the world by surprise. I’m not really one for politics but it’s nice to hear the man speak – he is certainly an excellent orator and it is indeed refreshing to hear his words “Yes we can”. It is certainly a doctrine I live my life to and I believe that anything is possible through God, if one has the will and works hard – there is not such thing as luck – all great achievers pay their dues to get to their destination – everyone from Bill Gates who programmed for over 10,000 hours as a teen to Mozart who was a child prodigy who just kept getting better with more practice. Work as a whole becomes play when one loves what one does and I like to believe that I live that life every day.
2008 for me has highlighted illness, seemingly unfair lows, honing in on what I am truly grateful for and extreme joy, and all in all, it has been a year that has opened my eyes to what is to come. So much so, that I have been thinking of my 2009 highlights/projections even before this year comes to a close.
I have seen my show, South Side grow before my very eyes – making it happen and being given the creative control by Desi Hits has been a boon to me, as it was uncharted territory to jump into. No one had a British Asian running an English language show that encapsulated the diaspora of the South of India. It involved asking Amitabh Bachchan about his views on South Indian cinema, interviewing AR Rahman, having Aishwarya Rai speak about her beauty secrets, chatting to Gautam Menon about his magnum opus Vaaranam aayiram, catching up with AR Murugadoss about his film Ghajni at Mumbai’s film city, speaking to the eloquent Tamil superstar Vikram about his career, catching up with Anil Kapoor and Dev Patel on Slumdog Millionaire (and it’s amazing soundtrack by AR Rahman with M.I.A and Blaaze featuring) and even having non Southern talents like Raghav come into the studio and dazzle with some live vocals while revealing his numerous trips to Chennai to visit his Aunt and Uncle who settled there. It certainly has been an exciting ride. It was also lovely to see Aravind Adiga, another Southerner winning the Man Booker prize after Arundhati Roy (1/2 Keralan) for The God of small things in 1997 and Michael Ondaatje (Sri Lankan) in 1992 for The English patient.
Desi Hits grows day by day – as a website, they have has 50 Cent, Pussycat Dolls and Sean Kingston redoing his song Beautiful girls into Bollywood girls. It has been quite a ride for the company. It’s founders, Anj and Ranj Bath never fail to impress me with their business acumen. Whether it be making deals with Ashok Amitraj or with Warner Brothers, they have their sights set high – they aim for the top and get what they want and it is very commendable. I call them the British Asian Posh & Becks in their own way.
Amidst writing poetry and building bridges with family, I have spent time connecting musicians, advising as best I can young people, seeing those around me achieve great things and even managed to pull together a 308 page glossy magazine in 3 months with only me, the CEO and 1 designer and a couple of part time sales people. It was a feat that made me proud, especially seeing it at Selfridges next to Vogue. Alas, it took a toll on my health – bad office conditions and a whopping 22 hours a week of traveling on top of long hours meant that my health suffered as a result. Whilst I loved editing a magazine and allowing my mind to conjure up what turned into beautiful printed pages, my health had to come first – it was one of the big lessons I learned this year.
So, taking time out to reflect and rest gave me the opportunity to embellish my radio show and do my bits of freelance work which has also, recently, led to my being given the title Contributing Editor for the BBC Customer Publishing magazine, Cineworld Unlimited Bollywood. I’ve created cover stories about Aamir Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Imran Khan and inside stories about Preity Zinta, AR Rahman et al. In the early months of the year, I also did 2 cover stories for a Chennai based arts glossy called The Score – one was on AR Rahman and one was on Aamir Khan. I also met the Big B and chatted to him, Ash Rai in restroom of one top London hotel, laughed with Karan Johar and Farah Khan and generally enjoyed the company of many wonderful people. I also met Simi Grewal and a few other Bollywood types at the Zee awards at Excel in London – she’d always been someone I looked up to, for her interview skills and impeccable diction. Dinner with Shibani Bathija, the writer of movies like Kabhi alvida naa kehna, Kidnap and forthcoming ‘My name is Khan’ also made a profound impact on me. Every one of them imparting pivotal words of wisdom for me to soak up and share through my show and writing.
Some of the highlights of 2008 have been my trips to Chennai, Mumbai and Bangalore, enjoying melted chocolate at Harrod’s Chocolate bar, eating great Moroccan, Brazilian, Lebanese, Mexican, Spanish, British, Indian, Thai, Chinese, Italian, Sri Lankan, Nigerian and many more types of world cuisine. I have had some wonderful treatments at Neal’s Yard and explored various alternative therapies – Holistic facials, Tui Na massage, Reflexology, Alexander technique and even tried a few sessions on the celebrity endorsed Power Plate at a beautifully plush Power Studio in South Quay. Looking into my carbon footprint also made me quite pleased – I sold my gas guzzling Honda Accord and settled for public transport in 2004, use mainly organic products, switch off my mobile charger once the job is done and don’t own a printer at home where I work from! All my travels are much needed so I feel I’m doing my bit and one can only improve, right? I also had my 2 week old mobile phone, my beloved brand-new Nokia N95 8 Gig Black stolen on Oxford Street – it really shocked me and as it’s pretty much a mini-computer, I was in a frenzy to get it sorted – the insurance guys took a week to replace it with a ‘re-conditioned’ handset which was quite upsetting but I was definitely thankful for taking regular backups!
I learnt that Parabens were the bane of existence for anyone with hormonal imbalances, which meant that I had to dispose of most of my bathroom cabinet and make-up products which I wear so rarely anyway. It is flabbergasting as to how many products out there have Parabens in them and how very few people stock Paraben free products in this day and age. Most top designer make-up and skincare is laddled with them, I was especially upset to find that the cult product, Elizabeth Arden’s 8 hour cream was filled with them! Stopping the use of Parabens and cutting out caffeine in form of my morning coffees have made a huge difference to me. On top of it all, I also discovered Bach’s flower remedies and, am yet to try the more modern Australian Bush flower ones – watch this space, I plan to share my findings. All I can say is that there is a world away from the conventional medicines which has shown me a lot of new hope.
So what’s in store for the closing of 2008 and 2009? I’ll leave God to determine that for me and take my next steps with a blessed heart. I have my dreams and all I can say what Jesus said: As a man thinketh in his heart, so he is. Ask, believe and be open to the omens out there that guide you to receive! I met Paulo Coelho last year, which was a lot more eventful for me in many ways, and his book ‘The Alchemist’ literally changed my life – I recommend it for all those who want to follow their dreams and don’t quite realise that closing one door with all conviction opens much more important doors! Think big and always walk the walk if you talk the talk, that’s my motto.
Perennial joy or passing pleasure?
This is the choice one is to make always.
The wise recognize these two, but not
The ignorant. The first welcome what leads
To abiding joy, though painful at the time.
The latter run, goaded by their senses,
After what seems immediate pleasure.
From the Hindu scripture: Katha Upanishad