Thursday, 29 April 2010

FOTD and NOTD: Aqua/Pink, or Bengali Barbie look

Aqua eyes with pink lips always reminds me of Barbie! This is what I'm wearing today.



Base:
MAC Moisturecover Select concealer

Eyes:
MAC Paint in Bamboom
The Body Shop eye pencil in "Vibrant" Emerald (shockingly underpigmented, had to basically crayon it on! lucky it was a freebie)
MAC Pearlglide in Undercurrent over it (my favourite!)
YSL Faux Cils mascara

Face:
MAC MSF in Dark
MAC Breezy blush
MAC Brow in Spiked

Lips:
MAC Slimshine in Pleasing (also a favourite)

And here are my nails: Barry M Mint Green with a coat of GOSH Magic Rainbow (clear iridescent glitter) on top. Mint Green is a bit more "dayglo" than I'd like (I prefer more complex shades) but it's fun!


Truer colour:

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

The Sea of Poppies, Amitav Ghosh

I love Amitav Ghosh's novels, and have managed to get The Shadow Lines onto every postcolonial option I've taught (to me, there's no better novel on the tragedy of Partition). I clutched The Glass Palace to me for several days after finishing it (during reading it I became so absorbed that I missed my stop on several train journeys, kept forgetting things and had to restrict myself to reading it at bedtime only for fear of what other troubles it might've got me into.) I love his impeccable attention to historical detail, his lyrical style and the way he creates epics of empire that span continents and are yet so deeply personal and believable. As a result, I was breathless with excitement at the prospect of hearing him talk on the issue of diaspora at the LSE last year for the Runnymede Trust. The Sea of Poppies had been on my shelf for some time, awaiting the right opportunity. I thought the talk would be a perfect prologue.

However, the talk was a disappointment. Ghosh spoke in woolliest, most idealistic terms about migration, as a form of transnational community, a world without restrictive, exclusivist borders, a world of infinite possibility. He tied his argument to the research he had undertaken for The Sea of Poppies, arguing that the sailors who used to traffic opium and the goods of empire were a ragtag bunch of multiple nationalities and religions who nonetheless "got along." Those left at home, he said, were "unfortunate," but could still dream of other places because of the adventures of their more courageous kin.

The whole talk sat uncomfortably with the reason for the lecture: the launch of a major project on Bengali oral history in London titled Banglastories. Anyone at all familiar with Bengali (or indeed, any) migrant narratives knows that Ghosh's take on migration is unbelievably rose-tinted. In particular, the lascars of whom Ghosh writes, worked in the very worst conditions on East India company ships, and died in their thousands on ships during the first and second World Wars. And they've hardly been recognised in official naval histories.

Which is why I had such hopes for The Sea of Poppies: a chance to tell the story of those who have been excluded from the historical record, to imagine their lives and experiences in a way we can't do in historical research because of the sheer absence of material. But although it is a fantastic yarn of a novel,  it is just that: fantastic. The unlikely set of characters that end up on this boat just do not convince. Throughout, Ghosh's desperation to create an imagined alternative sense of community to nation-based ones is all too evident: for example, in the passage describing a wedding on the ship, when all the "coolies," regardless of caste or village, become a "family." It's an embarrassingly laboured section where the author's ideological intention drives the narrative, and clumsily. Usually Ghosh is a master of entwining history and literary grace, but here the historical research is hammered home, at the expense of well-drawn characters. I didn't share Ghosh's own joy in the nautical Hindi-English hybrid that peppers the pages, which I just found annoyingly excessive. And there's a hint of intrusive magical realism too in one sub-plot of this novel that just shouldn't be in a Ghosh novel.

That said, it was immense fun to read. Ghosh has enough skill as an author to keep you compelled even when he's at slapdash form and his dreams overtake his plotting. I sped through 500 pages in a matter of a fortnight. Each night, I looked forward to picking it up again. And now I've finished, although not filled with the sense of aching loss that I usually am when I finish a Ghosh novel, I did just google "second part of the Ibis trilogy," which should indicate how willing I am to be on board again (I thought I could resist the urge for a nautical pun in this review, alas not). Just don't take this in the vein of a regular Ghosh novel: historical it ain't. But a lot of fun, it is.

Monday, 19 April 2010

OOTD and FOTD, Taupe/Pink

I met up with my three favourite girls on Friday, and this is what I wore. I am not ashamed to admit that the whole outfit was built around my desire to try my new Greasepaint Stick in Dirty, I am like a child with new toys with new stuffs!

My outfit, Liberty for Gap dress (Bartimaeus hates this dress! but I love it, and what do boys know anyway), plum cardi from Primark (only item of my clothing that's a size 8, can't really button it up but it's a good fit on my shoulders and I love the colour), hot pink cotton tights from Jonathon Aston, bronze mary jane pumps, Hush Puppies, bronze hairband, Oasis, cream pearl bow earrings, Miss Selfridge.



My makeup, here you can see the print of the dress better and the brooch I've used to ruche up the baggy neckline:




Base:
MAC Moisturecover Select concealer
Urban Decay Primer Potion

Eyes:
MAC Pigment in Gold Stroke
MAC Greasepaint Stick in Dirty
MAC Pigment in Vanilla as highlight
YSL Faux Cils mascara

Face:
MAC MSF in Dark
Shu Uemura blush in P Wine ? (don't have it here, but a cool bright pink with silver shimmer)
MAC Brow in Spiked

Lips:
MAC Cremesheen Glass in Delight

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

OOTD, FOTD and NOTD: Spring Florals

Pic-heavy!

As the grey morning has given way to a glorious sunny afternoon, here is my spring look. My outfit, comprising of new Primark dress, with long sleeved tee underneath, tights and my signature red bow pumps which clash perfectly:




My nails, MAC's Love and Friendship, which I love but is starting to go patchy:


And my makeup, featuring my new Pearlglide in Blackline



Base:
MAC Moisturecover Select concealer
Urban Decay Primer Potion

Eyes:
Shu Uemura shadow in P Green 450 (one of my favourites)
MAC Pearlglide in Black Line as liner
YSL Faux Cils mascara

Face:
MAC MSF in Dark
Shu Uemura blush in P Red 19D (also a favourite)
MAC Brow in Spiked




Lips:
MAC Cremesheen Glass in Over-Indulgence

closeup:

Happy Spring, everyone!

Monday, 12 April 2010

Recent Acquisitions

There's a feeble library/museum pun for you.

 A few buys for me of late.

These shoes, which make me think of one of my favourite bloggers, Passion for Fashion, as well as, obviousement, Dorothy, and my friend Elys who had a pair of red glitter heels that made me chartreuse with envy. These were discovered lingering in the Office sale online by my sister, in my size only, for £5. I adore them.



This dress, from Primark, £11:


close up of print, slightly washed out (blogger always does this to my pics!):


and my remarkably restrained haul of MAC Art Supplies:

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth

I attended a talk by Vikram Seth last year, and was utterly smitten with his writerly charm, wicked sense of humour and his ability to still make coherent sense after consuming a whole bottle of red wine on the LSE stage. It made me want to re-read A Suitable Boy, and to find Beastly Tales, a compendium of grisly and funny poems Seth wrote about animals that I desperately want to read to my children, when I have them. The first I've now accomplished, the second I've yet to do.

I read A Suitable Boy when I was finishing my A-levels. I was utterly engrossed and finished it in a matter of a fortnight. (I also dropped it onto my breakfast plate, and broke it. The plate. The book is very hardy indeed). Having discovered that a sequel, A Suitable Girl is coming out (in 2013!), I thought now would be a good time for a return visit to Seth's 1950s' India.

Seth has mentioned that returning to Lata's world was like meeting old friends again. And that's how I initially felt when I started re-reading ASB. In fact my memories of my feelings when reading it the first time came rushing back - and I felt the same fondness for Amit, the same affectionate irritation with Lata's mother's sentimentality, and the same crush on Firoz.

But this time, it took me over three months to read it (in my defence I did read a few books in between!) I was conscious that as with Middlemarch, my impatient teen-self skipped some of the long political passages (the shame) and I think most of the details of the land reforms Seth painstakingly outlines eluded me. So I took my time, and concentrated.

As a 17 year old, I had felt the injustice of Lata and Kabir's forced separation due to religion very keenly. (I had a bit of a crush on Kabir, too...) But somehow, this time, Kabir seemed like a cipher of a character. Everything about him was good and plausible, and yet, somehow he was blank. I thus shrugged my shoulders at their separation this time, rather than weeping (I was even more given to weeping as a teenager). And although I understand the point of Seth's intricate detailing of politics, after a while, I once again felt the urge to skip passages. This time, however, I think this was due to the book's fictionalisation of history - it was hard to care about a made-up town, made-up riots, made-up political rivalries. The narrator's ironic detachment compounded this. I think it would have been more effective if it had been an orthodox historical novel, and had much more political power.

I also realised that the structure and substance of this novel - despite its volume - is flimsy. Each 4-5 page section is a vignette, with its own symbolic values and codes, yet beyond plot developments there are few aesthetic or symbolic strands that connect them. It's not a complex novel, just a big one. It's a lot of fun, definitely, and at points observations regarding the tensions between the secular and communa,l and the suffering of Dalits under pre-land reform conditions, are sobering. But overall, it is frivolous, whimsical, and lightweight.  Even, occasionally, irritating. (The throwing together of classical music, poetry and mathematics made me want to roll my eyes, so clearly did Seth want this novel to be a mixture of All His Favourite Things).

But still, my favourite parts - the parts set in Calcutta, and amongst Meenakshi's eccentric family, - are still my favourites. (But that might be because I'm still Bengali). And I enjoyed it enough to see it through to its 11??th page, unlike Bartimaeus who gave up in irritation and disgust.

Of course, I will read A Suitable Girl when it comes out (and I look forward to it). But I don't think I'll be revisiting A Suitable Boy again anytime soon. He's just not right for me anymore.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Vrooooooom

I finally passed my driving test!!!!!