Monday, 21 November 2011

A hideously diverse Britain

Planet commuter. It's noisy and dishevelled, but those who live there learn to acclimatise. We read, tune in to our iPod, write - cocooned into our mental space.

I was enjoying that space on a crowded bus from Oxford Street to Paddington commuting with my sister a couple of days ago. I was in the midst of an in depth conversation with her about whether the discounted Philosophy heels I saw earlier were a necessary purchase or not. Serious stuff.

When suddenly that space got invaded. The bus driver made an alarming announcement: "The gentlemen should watch their wallets. The ladies their handbags ; there are pick pocketers on the bus."

The two Spanish tourists in front me looked at each other in confusion but from the way we were all clutching on to our purses and bags, even they could sense something was wrong.

The second incident pricked the bubble. He demanded of the black man (who was standing right beside me!) to come forward and asked him to get off the bus. The man became defensive about this accusation and after a loud exchange of heated words, he fumingly got off the bus. The driver clicked off his microphone and focused on driving the bus.

I turned to my sister, and we both were amazed at the clear distinction being made. She also told me she hadn't seen the man do anything and even looked in his pockets to check his own belongings were intact at the time of announcement.

"I wonder if the others in the bus were aware; what they thought" I thought.

But nothing had changed in the bus. Some were obviously oblivious, distracted by their iPods or Blackberrys. But others must have heard it. It was a bus filled with typically 'well-to-do commuters.'

In my search to find someone to make eye-contact with who shared my value-system, not one person looked up. And so, in that middle class way we do, I put my head down again and at that very moment, I felt hot with shame.

These are anxious times. Stereotyping is quite the thing again. The driver, if confronted, would probably say he was stating a fact; not being racist or controversial. And that would probably be the stance of everyone else who stayed in their bubbles, so unaffected. Step by mundane step. That's how tolerance gradually erodes.

Just another bit of kneejerk racism seeps into our society once again.

What would you do if you heard a racist remark on public transportation?

Thursday, 17 November 2011

No Frills Pumpkin Soup

Brr, I'm freezing. Are you freezing? I know that I am being a child when I say I'm freezing. And yes, I do realize that 6°C is amateur freezing weather and currently London's warmest weather since records began. But it's cold.

So yeah, when we're cold... soup is in order.

Every autumn / holiday season, it seems like pumpkin inevitably take over the menu and in today's case, shopping aisle.

Me and my friend have been making renditions for this recipe for weeks. It comes from an Australian recipe on and is perfect for the chilly weather! From scratch and without cream - this classic is guilt free too!

Wrap a blanket around yourself, put on some socks and let's make some soup!

2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, white part only, finely sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1kg peeled pumpkin, diced
  • 1L chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) light condensed milk 


1. Dice pumpkin into small cubes.  

2. Chop the leek, onion and garlic. Heat oil in a large saucepan over low heat, add onion and leek and cook for 2-3 minutes, until softened but not coloured.

3. Add spices and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. 

4. Add pumpkin, potato and stock and bring to the boil. Turn heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then blend in batches

5. Return soup to pan, stir through cream and reheat gently. Season and add a little more nutmeg if desired.

Serve soup hot with a generous dollop of sour cream or yoghurt and enjoy!

Tip: To add some oomph, try this recipe with some horseradish sauce! 

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

French Riviera photo diary

Picture perfect breakfast table at the Pain Quotidien 

Upward shot of Nice Etoile shopping centre 

Decadence in Monte Carlo's Hotel de Paris 

Another yacht view, mid restaurant-hunt in Cannes 

Switch out the shoes for wedges and ankle socks for a default rainy day outfit. 

Foie Gras with cranberry and onion chutney that tasted better than they photographed. 

Experiencing major withdrawal symptoms, as I sit here sifting through the photos during our girlie getaway along the Côte d'azur. Everything from a déjeuner français on our hotel balcony to isolated beautiful moments in the city. We spontaneously decided to give ourselves a break from city life and made our journey to Nice, Monaco and Cannes last weekend. The mix of raw nature, slightly warmer weather and scenic beaches could not have been more ideal. 

Highlights included the unexpected torrential rain (and wind) showers, the most exquisite wine I have ever tasted, a movie moment to prove that chivalry is not dead and eating way too much cheese (if there's even such a thing as.) Exciting stuff. No, but really, Monte Carlo is a terrible place to not have access to funds. 

Don't worry, I feel just the appropriate amount of guilt for my lack of 'reading' during reading week. I always say I am going to stay more on top of my life but... yeah. I will say my recent neglect of insane workload, graduate / job applications, and freelancing has lessened my ability to focus while subsequently mastering my procrastination skills. 

I am luckily getting to see some loved ones though - first my sister came to visit me, and cannot wait to go home for Christmas. 

Mostly for my suitcase's benefit and maybe also partially cause I didn't feel like shopping, I didn't buy anything but a few retro-inspired souvenirs, and a berry lipstick from Sephora that I cant wait to try for fall. 

But it's exactly as beautiful as you want it to be in real life. That's always a little surprising when it happens. 

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Ever seen a ballet stiletto ?

Calling all shoe-a-holics!

I seriously urge you to head down to Brick Lane's Loading Gallery which is showcasing an exhibition to feed your addiction by displaying every kind of shoe imaginable. And I mean ANY.

Tea time anyone ? 'Alice in Wonderland' by Nicholas Kirkwood 

Shoes For Show: The Sculptural Art of High Heels shows off the fanciful and fabulous creations of famed shoe designers and their quite literal 'mad skills.'

Rupert Sanderson's strappy gold numbers, made for Verdi's Aida at the Royal Opera House, resemble footwear from Greek mythology. 

Visitors spiralled down a 'rabbit hole' of visual art by British Fashion Awards winner Nicholas Kirkwood's beautiful design adorned with red roses in bloom, tiny green leaves, silver chains and chessboard-patterned heels. Another creation included a glittering green pair, with candy floss pink and shiny flaps.

What undoubtedly had me swooning were the infamous Swarovski encrusted beauties made for the English National Ballet. 

Clearly, there was NOTHING flat about these ballet pumps. 

From Beyonce's futuristic Gareth Pugh toe-tapper booties she wore in the 'Run the World' music video to couture queen's Daphne Guinness' donated one-off pair of shoes. 

Scroll down for an exclusive look at these couture pieces that give a new meaning to 'beauty before function.'

the famous Beyonce numbers 

Joanne Stoker for Selfridges, 2011

Katie Eary for Nike

Turkish Baths shoes, 1890s

You can't have a shoe exhibition without the designer of shoes that are 'better than sex' as coined by Madonna - Manolo Blahnik !
Sophia Grace Webster, Manolo Blahnik 

Chau Har Lee, 2009

 Presented by online shoe store, the exhibition showed off everything we love about fancy and fantasy footwear. Even if they are just for their two minutes of catwalk fame.

"The Shoe... a sign of recognition. Just as the ring slips onto the slender finger, the glass slipper will fit but the most delicate of beauties." - Jean Paul Roux , 2004