Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Wish I May

Browsing in big fancy bookshops, as bright beautiful and mentally stimulating as it can be, is just not my thing. I find it almost heartbreaking to go into a bookshop and buy just one book. And books, as in multiples of them, being costly as they are, burn big sing-ed holes in my wallet.

As an alternate to the big bright lights, I have found trawling for books at bargain bookstores in Greenwich very rewarding. All these bookstores are small and cramped (mainly full of tourists) but their shelves often turn up treasures. I go to Greenwich quite regularly and very often find books that have been recommended this way or that.

As I don’t go to the big bright chain bookstores I rely in part on the wonderful Guardian Review and in part on word-of-mouth recommendations from family, friends, co-workers to keep a sharp-ish eye for what’s new, readable and in my sphere of interest.

So it was no surprise that I found ‘Wish I May’ by Justine Picardie tucked among the higher reaches of the bookshelves in Greenwich one Sunday afternoon last year. Fnished it and her is my take on it:

Book 6: Wish I May by Justine Picardie. In it, Kate Linden is a 35 year old single mother dreaming of a rosy future with an ideal man who will love both her and her son Sam. While she waits for the arrival of just such an accepting man she gets drawn back into the life of her handsome, domineering cousin Julian (son of her mother's twin sister). Examining her relationship with him, she returns to Julian’s childhood home and is forced to question the mysteries that have bothered her about the relationship between her mother and Julian's father and who was responsible for her mother's death in a car crash.

Kate struggles to make sense of her life and the shadows cast by the past. Fighting her way out of the murky details of the past, she finds herself spiralling towards the future and wishing for love to be the catalyst for the rest of her life.

This novel is mainly about the secrets of the past, and the search for living in the present is written. Justine Picardie lays down a woven yet clear pattern, setting out the intrigues and intricacies of families entwined by events affecting them all.

Another gem!

Sunday, March 13, 2005

an extraordinary day....

I have not been a contientious blogger, ignoring my blog for well over a week now. I've had plenty to blog about but not nearly enough time, energy or coherence of thought to effectively post. I have books to blog about but thats for another day and another time. Today has (or rather yesterday, now that its nearly 1am) been an extraordinary day in so many ways that even at this unearthly hour I am compelled to quickly type in a bit.

First and foremost today (12th) was the birthday of some exceedingly special people -my mum and my brother (as my dad says, he's been my mum's birthday gift for the past 23 years) for their birthday. I've had long and brilliant conversations with both and missed them oh-so much today. So YAY my birthday people - I'm loving you every minute and missing you even more......

The day has turned out brilliantly - somewhat by design but mainly by good luck, the meeting of chance and timing I think. As you know we've had some friends with us for the last few weeks. It's made mealtimes and evenings more interesting having 4 people around a dinner table discuss everything from food habits to politics and back. V was away on work for more than half the week and returned only on Friday evening. So the weekend lay ahead of us ripe and ready to be enjoyed.

We started the day with breakfast at the little cafe where we've become regulars on Saturdays. Lovely sun poured through the windows warming us while we ate omlettes and sipped lattes. Then, deciding that the reviews of the Sanjay Leela Bhansali movie 'Black' piqued our curiosity enough, found out where it was playing and booked some tickets. Went to the Cineworld in Ilford to watch 'Black' and can now say without reservation that it is one of the BEST hindi movies I have ever seen. Even V (who is very disicerning!) loved it. 'Black' tells the story of an alcoholic teacher introducing a deaf & blind anglo-indian girl to the world of words, their meanings and communication with the world. Subsequently, she gets the opportunity to reciprocate the teaching when he loses his words to Alzheimers. Amitabh Bacchan is the teacher, Debraj Sahai and Rani Mukherji is the deaf & blind woman, Michelle McNally.

I cannot tell you enough and more strongly what a wondeful movie this is. From the storyline to the cinematography, from the lessons to the realities, this movie has stepped a whole level higher than any other hindi movie before it. Tinged with sadness, it shows a world filled with the dreams of a challenged young child and her odessey finding her place in it. This movie deserves an Oscar. Amitabh truly rocks!!!!!!!!!!!!If you haven't seen it GO NOW!

Back home and all dressed up the four of us took loads of pictures with our relatively new digital camera. We're still learning to navigate it - both the tripod and timer are now familiar.

Our extraordinary day became so largely due to the sparkling meal that followed at Ubon by Nobu. Very fancy locale, riverside Canary Wharf, this intimate restaurant offers fantastic views of the Thames. The decor is quite simple and nothing to write home about but the view made up for it amply. The meal was highlighted by very simple ingredients - each one very carefully prepared and beautifully presented. We had a selection of yellow tail, white fish, black cod, tuna, salmon - seared, skewered, sushi-ed - each one cajoled into wonderful wonderful bites. I have not had a meal this elegant and tasty in very long. Ubon is not inexpensive by any means and is mainly geared for the non-vegetarian seafood lover. For me it was a real treat; the Chocolate Bento box with Green Tea Ice cream and Banana Taitain with Chestnut Ice Cream were superlative to most desserts I have ever tasted. If I were a rich girl I would go often!

We are home now - the tail end of an extraordinary day. Wine and music await me, so I'll sign off. This day will remain in my memory for a long while to come - the combination of great movie, wine, food and company make me feel extraordinary!

Ubon by Nobu: 34 Westferry Circus, London E14 8RR. Tel: 020 7719 7800

Thursday, March 03, 2005

any dream will do

With March one would expect spring to be rearing its wonderful head. Instead the Siberian winds that the newscasters forcasted are whirling around the house sounding like lost ghosts. Snow has closed schools around South-east England (mainly Kent) and although there hasn't been more than a few flurries and a light dusting of snow in London, its been raining and windbeaten for about 10 days now. To lift our spirits and bring a little cheer to our cold bones we did what was desperately needed - we watched Jospeph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at the New London Theatre in Drury Lane.

The combination of live orchestra and theatre can be magical. This was a wonderful musical and all the elements played together effortlessly and melded perfectly. Credit to finding out details, a source of cheap tickets and inspiring us to be more London tourist-y goes to my cousin A; credit to buying the tickets goes to V; and credit for watching and enjoying goes to all 5 of us (V, A, me and our friends, the globe-trotting couple).

An internet search told me that Joseph was originally presented in London's West End at the Albery Theatre in 1973 for a seven month run. Since then this Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice collaboration has been revived in the West End a number of times -including a major revival at the London Palladium in June 1991 starring Jason Donovan and which ran for over two years being seen by over two million people (missed that by 15 years then!). Apparently Joseph has been toured in the in the UK extensively since 1979 (even entering The Guinness Book of Records as the longest running touring stage musical of all time!).

The musical is based on the Biblical story of Joseph and his coat of many colors; Joseph was the favorite son of Jacob, but his eleven siblings resent the attention Jacob showers upon him and conspire to kill him. At the last moment they decide to sell him into slavery, and eventually Joseph finds himself in jail in Egypt. However, his favorable interpretation of the dreams of the Pharaoh win him freedom and using his powers of interpretation he forcasts the 7 year famine and implements rationing to make sure that all in the land are fed. He wins the admiration of the Pharoah and soon Joseph is one of the most powerful men in Egypt. In the meanwhile Jacob and the eleven sons fall on hard times and come to Egypt in search of food. Long story short, they all reconcile and live happily ever after!

An ancient tale has been most succesfully turned into a rollicking mixture of vaudevillian turns, country & western, calypso, 50's rock & roll. Joseph was played by Darren Day and the story was narrated by Suzanne Shaw. Both had sparkling voices and great stage presence. The set was fabulous and the musical fast paced (90 minutes just whizzed by). I was mesmerised and enjoyed singing along when there was a song I knew. The Benjamin Calypso and the Pharoah of Egypt depicted as Elvis Presley were inpired. The chorus was made up of about 30 school kids with pure innocent voices and was supported by an excellent orchestra. The repetoire of songs included some truly unforgettable numbers including Any Dream Will Do (my all time favorite buzzing endlessly in my head ever since), Close Every Door to Me and One More Angel. What I loved the most was that the cast was super-charged and quite apparently having a ball.

A delightful evening by any standards......and I'm dreaming of spring now!