Everyone ♥ Green Tea

Every holiday when I go back home (aka India), I notice a new and upcoming trend rising. Even though it might be dead and buried in the western culture, it would start anew in India. It’s very easy to spot the crazy trends that travel across seas and continents to this mighty land and reside here for good. One moment you’ll see a long-legged beauty in cigarette pants and the next day she’ll be in boyfriend jeans. A business man would be paging his wife from the hotel lobby on a Monday and by Wednesday he’ll be having a chat with her from his Blackberry.

This holiday has been (healthy) different. The influence wasn’t from America, it was from the East. The passionate love for Green Tea. With my recent observation, I’ve come to realise the rapid change in the Indian lifestyle option. My pantry seems like the tea aisle of a grocery store. There are over 10 different flavours of herbal teas and five varieties of green tea. All the forceful visits to my neighbours’ and relatives’ houses, over the past 4 weeks, have left me in awe and surprise. Instead of forcing me to gulp down Pepsi and Sprite, I’m being offered a hot cup of Green Tea. Everyone is riding the new fad wagon with a lot of pride and flavour.

But this tea-fashion is not new. It was 4000 years ago when the Chinese started consuming this leafy drink. They drank tea under strange and unique circumstances; to celebrate weddings, to apologise to elders, a manner of showing respect and also a connecting bond between families. Over the years, the Chinese preserved their traditional customs and silently distributed their noodles and tea to the world. And this is how the tea culture gradually spread its wings. The Brits made their version of tea that tasted good with their massive breakfast – English Breakfast tea. Americans couldn’t get enough sweetness from their doughnuts and muffins – so they opted for the sweet Iced tea option. Brazilians got excited with their unpopular Yerba maté tea. And Indians added all the herbs and spices, present on the kitchen counter, to the pot of boiling water.

Newspapers, fashion magazines, celebrity fitness-secret interviews, blogs – everything is overflowing with endless rambling of Green tea’s health benefits. And all of them chant the same mantra:

    Green Tea will prevent all kinds of cancer, help lose weight, live longer, quit smoking, improve sex life better, clear up acne, boost concentration and curb appetite.

This fad hasn’t just stopped there. It has moved on to the ice cream, coffee, chocolate, food industry as well.
Starbucks introduced a Tazo Green Tea Frappuccino Blended Creme which looks like guacamole in a cup.

I once ordered this rich in antioxident, high in Vitamin-blah, all-natural, no preservative, Dark Green Tea chocolate. It tasted like solidified flavoured water.

When Haagen Dazs came out with this new Green Tea flavour, I had taken a pledge that wouldn’t try it. Not only do the heath benefits of tea go flying out of the window, but by trying this flavour, i would get a reason to start disliking ice-cream.

Call me old fashioned or boring, but I like my green tea as a cup of tea only. Fancy shmancy products don’t lure me. But I was a fad-victim. Only because Cameron Diaz had Green Tea after every meal, I started it too. But we all need inspiration from somewhere, right?

All I want for Christmas

Remember waking up in the wee hours of Christmas morning with a wide grin and creeping to the living room. Checking if the line-up of stockings near the piano are full of goodies. Secretly combing under the Christmas tree for presents and hoping to beat your siblings in ‘i-have-a-biggest-present’ contest. Those happy-days movie reel seems really old and rusty today. Over the past ten years, my perception of this joyous holiday has changed. I relate it to the missing spirit of Christmas innocence.
I’m reminded of my childhood years when I used to write letters to Santa Claus and proudly post it to North Pole. And I was confident that I had been ‘nice’ all year long. It was only when I was 12 that I figured that Santa was too fat to come down our narrow chimney. All the confusion was over, I lost my innocence and my faith in the mythological white beard man.

Years have gone by, but the confusion abounds and Generation Y still head-scratches, as the holiday season begins. Not a lot has changed over time though. The wine, cakes, tree, presents, carols and decorations – everything persists – but with a larger than life approach. However, the concerning transition is your father becoming the real Santa Claus. The beautifully crafted letters to Santa are replaced by a post-it note stuck on dad’s office table, informing him with your preferred laptop colour. Sadly, Santa’s workshop does not manufacture iPods, Blackberrys and Manolo Blahnik’s golden pumps, but dad’s debit card surely does.

The holiday season has been bitten by the nostalgia bug. The memories of; messy baking sessions with nanna and mum, tree decorating afternoons with siblings and cookie eating competitions with cousins; are confined to old family albums. I remember sitting on my dad’s laps, as he played carols on the piano, and singing in my high-pitch voice. The movie marathons with my sister, of our favourite Christmas movies, made me cheery. Traditions and rituals help intertwine these cherished memories into a strong bond. But if the bond is shaken, the balance is lost forever. It feels like we are losing that balance and about to plunge into holiday hell. The place where there neither Rudolf nor mistletoe exist.

Nothing touches our imagination more deeply than those stories that begin with those four magical words, ‘once upon a time’. It feels like Christmas is a fairytale story that is losing its charm with every passing year. Seems like it was ‘once upon a time’ when kids used to be satisfied with their tasselled-handle bike or a coloured-clay set. Gone are the days when simple plastic toys held to our fascination like a cardboard box does for a kitten. The content smiles, on seeing the holiday-special Barbie or the cool metal colours of Hot Wheels, have been lost in childhood. The growing age and mature mind have been littered with high-tech gadgetry. For them, it is their absolute right to have the ownership of a present, which satisfies their choice, on Christmas. The Christmas spirit is a burden for today’s youth – a forceful obligation for them to fulfil. The materialistic world has taken over the cheerful vibe from the holiday. Instead of the baubles, tinsel and snowflake, the sight of a Sony PlayStation 3 enthuses them.

Christmas has become more than just a celebratory festival. It is a green greedy monster that drives us all into mindless consumption. It has become an excuse to have an extravagant feast with the family. It begs the question, where is the ‘Merry’ part of ‘Christmas’?

I chose to leave that question unanswered, only because I’m scared to confront the truth.

An affair to remember

Wedding season is huge in India. When the country’s wedding bells start ringing in October, they don’t stop until February. This is also when the northern hemisphere weather graces the country with chilly winds and foggy mornings. Perfect matrimony in perfect weather.

Often branded as the BIG FAT INDIAN WEDDING (much before the Greek one), I am convinced that it is grandeur. The amount of energy, enthusiasm, ideas and money needed in planning one of these is beyond imagination. A white wedding’s counterpart is an Indian wedding, which is inundated with colour. A painter’s colour pallet metamorphoses to the wardrobe of every wedding goer. There is a splash of pink, yellow, red, green, turquoise… you name it, it is there. A wedding is incomplete if the bride’s arms and feet aren’t camouflaged with henna, which is a symbol of purity. I knew irony and tradition were never best of friends.

While Elizabeth Hurley successfully hosted her royal wedding in an Indian heritage fort, Heidi Klum and Seal had a low-profile wedding (read: renow vows) on a beach.
And then there are the locals, who put the spotlight on traditional ceremonies, hospitality, ethnicity and preserving the oldest-known culture.

In the photos below (snapped by moi), the small ceremonial celebrations don’t depict even one-third of the real deal in an Indian wedding. You have to attend one to realise the extent of it all.

And if you do, I promise you’ll return with a lot more than mere memories.

You’ll be given some useless presents, all the extra flower bouquets, your arse will be home to an additional 2 kilos, and your brain will be imprinted with the lyrics of a hopeless Bollywood song.

But best of all, you’ll have a full memory card on your camera. I promise you that.

Internet has taken over my life

There was a time in our lives when we took the dog for a walk, had breakfast whilst reading the newspaper, baked a cake from scratch, went to the mall with girlfriends and spent hours on the phone with our lovers.
Since post-internet age, Betty Crocker and credit card shopping have conquered the world. The frequency of face-to-face communication diminished with the new millennium. What was once considered a social phenomenon and as today’s youth would say, “having a life”, are no longer for real.

There is a habitual urge to stay connected with the computer these days. After all, we want to win that bidding dress on ebay, upload the weekend’s photos on Facebook, check the lists on Twitter, reply to i’m-not-telling-you-the-number emails and flirt with that romantic partner on a public chat room. How would any soul be able to lift their eyes from their 16-inch device with such a monstrous list of things-to-do. So what if all of them are just a click away.

Generation Y(awn) is spoilt. They want everything NEW and FRESH. The latest technology installed on their gadgets, the fastest news server and the best quality of youtube videos. We don’t know what laid-back communication means. It doesn’t exist in our world. I say Generation YAWN because that is where this fancy technological-friendly era is leading us to.
Yawn. Lazy. Couch potatoes. Fat cows. Boring anti-social fools.

Frequent would be an understatement, this generation is constantly hooked on to the internet. Whether it’s emails, social networking sites, illegal streaming of TV series, ebay purchases, blogging…and i can keep going.

One may argue that these opportunities are a perfect platform for exploration of worldly activities whilst sitting in their backyards. Although after a period of time, these experiences become monotonous and repetitive. It becomes a dirty habit leading to an anti-social lifestyle. Why would you want to leave the comforts of your house and get out of your pyjamas to meet a friend, when the awesomeness of Skype awaits on your desktop? The raging debate of whether Gen Y is ready to pay for their news, comes in right context here. If we are able to get our daily news on the internet, free of cost, then why go through the costly procedure of buying a newspaper everyday? Even fashion labels have become smart, they give the customers further discounts if they purchase online. Now I am a little picky when I buy my clothes – I don’t have a perfect Jessica Alba waist-to-hip ratio – but there are women (and men) who extensively shop online. The idea of entering a fitting room, with 4 items or less, seems like an once-upon-a-time alike story to many Gen Yawners’.

A technology that originally initiated faster communication has transformed to zilch personal communication. It makes me wonder, has the internet imprisoned us? We have become slaves to our screens, no doubt in that, but have we forgotten the good ol’ days of ‘catching up over coffee’? I can’t figure out if this is an anti-social habit or just laziness. If I have 500 Twitter followers and 400 Facebook friends, I’m clearly NOT anti-social. Right? In my defence, if I physically don’t give them my bear hugs and air kisses, I do ‘xoxo’ them online. That counts? Yes?

But on a serious note, have we started talking less? I wont be surprised if I read a news slug in my Weird news email wire (Yes I get news wire emails, don’t glare at me) about a boy who lost his voice because he was an internet-addict. Ouch.

That makes me a little sick in the stomach. I think I need to stop writing this post and return those phone calls. Now while I go for lunch with my parents, make sure you leave your comments below. I’ll get its notification email on my iPhone anyway.