Close to a decade ago, I began leading heritage walks in Mumbai, and each walk was a revelation to me. It was not just about how much I learnt about my city but also about the people I interacted with. While I rattled off multiple facts about the buildings be it architectural, historical or social, what remained in most people’s memories was the feeling that each of these buildings evoked. A decade later, the facts are no longer important. I remember the stories behind those heritage structures, the interesting bits that find little space in our history texts. For example, how architects in London shipped over their designs to India, for local engineers to execute, with little else to guide them.
I remember being in awe of century-old structures, for what they signify, for what they’ve weathered and sometimes, simply for how they came to be a part of the larger social fabric of the times. And while traveling across India via the train or road, I have often marvelled at some of the houses adjoining the railways tracks/road. I have crafted imaginary stories in my head about the numerous characters inhabiting these houses and sometimes wondered what they’d have endured to construct these houses. Early in the morning, one can usually spot a pretty rangoli. And during important festivals such as Diwali, homes are colourfully decked up with lamps or lights. It’s a soothing sight of camaraderie, and one that warms the heart.
It brings to mind this line, from a popular web series by Yashraj Films, “We do not stay alone… in an apartment, we live in a community.” And unlike the cities, where people lead largely individual, anonymous and isolated lives, the towns and villages in India have communities co-existing over generations. And it is in this community that more often than not, that we end up seeking help, on the basis of experience, expertise and exposure.
And, therefore, in India, we treat certain people with absolute regard and respect, doctors, engineers and teachers, for example. In many parts of the country, people consider advice dispensed by the doctor as something handed down by God. However, we must also understand that little or half-baked knowledge is a dangerous thing.
Just like we trust some people, we also heavily rely on certain brands and products, which have become definite household names, and today, brands permeate every facet of our lives, be it roti, kapda or makaan. At every stage of our lives, we choose to stick with established brands that can simplify our lives and perhaps, enhance it. This is especially true when one is searching for answers for some of life’s bigger questions.
The epitome of one’s success is being able to invest in one’s own house. At that point, one is plagued with multiple questions and is constantly wary of whom to trust and rely on, be it a person or a brand. And sometimes it offers great solace when you know whom exactly to direct all your queries to.
Just like we have helplines for farmers to assist them with weather updates, TATA Tiscon deploys an expert at most of its dealerships to help individual homebuilders understand the complexities of building a house. And if you’re unable to visit a dealer outlet, you can connect with them online, via the website, the mobile site or the Facebook App. They also conduct regular home-building camps.
Steel rebars form the backbone of any structure; therefore, they need to be picked with care. And people are reluctant to invest in better grades of steel, owing to inadequate access to the right information and the appropriate guidance. And these experts, clad in red and white T-shirts, promise to simplify your life. They can help fine-tune the existing blueprints of a property, identify the exact quantity of the building materials required and resolve any home-building misconceptions or queries.
On a recent trip to Calcutta, we saw two different retail formats, catering to different sets of customers. The first was a traditional setup that adopted a more functional approach to guide individual homebuilders and contractors with their construction and rebar questions and concerns, in a tent outside the shop, emphasizing ease of access.
The second setup lends a more experiential approach to the entire purchase process, with an emphasis on comfort and aesthetics, in an urbane setting. One can walk in with a draft of the design and these experts will help you with the layout of your dream home, on a computer screen, once you share the dimensions of the plot.
There are no set or defined answers. And each query is evaluated independently for each space is unique.
Sometimes, a home is a physical space we call our own. Sometimes, it’s an emotion we long for. Either way, it’s what keeps us whole!
The retail formats are no doubt different. But the service is identical for the team is split across the stores on a rotational basis. TATA Tiscon understands that building a home is an emotional journey, and that offering the right kind of support goes a long way in making the journey simple, smooth and stable.
I felt decadent and a hedonist with a woman working magic with her fingers all over my feet. It was a Saturday afternoon in Suko Thai at Versova, Mumbai. And I was lazily sprawled on an easy chair, with my feet up on a stool.
She arrived with a bowl of warm water, soaped and lathered my feet, and carefully wiped them dry with a towel. And then she began working her magical fingers on my feet; beginning from my toes, working on my heels and inching towards my calves. I was languid and droopy eyelids begged to take over. But I wanted to remain awake and savor the experience. The whole of it.
She was quiet, whispering occasionally. But she was invisible for the most part, except her fingers. They spoke, they kneaded, they pummeled, they massaged. They danced upon my flesh making me feel suspended in time. She was liberal with the lotions and potions caressing my legs. I felt like a ball of play dough beneath her hands.
And just when I thought that it couldn’t get any better, she delicately rested my feet on the floor and asked me to sit a stool and bend forward. This time round, I’m not sure if it was her fingers or elbows but they pressed hard against me. I probably flinched a bit but wasn’t willing to let go of the exquisite pain as yet. She worked my shoulder, shoulder blades and forearms. My mind which was almost switching off just a while ago, snapped back awake. I was feeling muscles that I’ve never felt earlier. It was a heady rush. The fingers moved on to caress my neck and hair and the various facial muscles. They transported me to another world.
It was a rude reality check when the 60-minute session ended. But I felt awake and renewed, with a smile dancing on my lips. She brought over a tray laden with a bowl of fruits and some ginger tea. The mother would have been of me as I polished off both the tea and fruits with much glee and enthusiasm.
On my way out, I wondered if a man would have had a similar response to a massage. Would he have taken the initiative and ventured close to a spa, either for himself or his partner? Or was that optimistic thinking given that most men are averse to grooming tips and suggestions?
They complain of having to shave daily. But little do they know the pains of waxing and threading. And perhaps the only thing that comes to close to alleviating that pain is the promise of a massage. When the sting of the hot waxing strip is replaced by carefully kneading fingers, elevating you to another plane.
So now I know what I could do to push the man to get rid of his evening stubble. Get him sponsor my trips to the spa for a languid massage post each waxing appointment, else I’ll threaten to turn into a grizzly bear. And if he grumbles too much about either, also deny him delicious home-baked goodies.
He can choose to be unshaven. But the stakes rise each day he chooses to do that. Let him crave to shave!
I had heard of meets and get-togethers where companies invite bloggers to come and experience (for lack of a better word, forgive me) their product line-up. @ideasmithy invited me for one such event this past Sunday, the Indiblogger and Dove All Women’s Blogger Meet at the Four Seasons Hotel in Worli.
Initially I declined, with a heavy heart, because a friend was visiting that weekend. A little twist of fate on Friday night and I decided I was going. Frequent readers of this blog will note that is quite an unlikely event for me to be at. Grooming and hair care lies at the very bottom of my to-do list. But what the heck, I like surprising myself occasionally. Besides Dove is one of the few brands I’m willing to experiment with.
My first Indiblogger meet, I was there just testing waters. I was only sacrificing a Sunday in return. @ideasmithy and I trooped in slightly late, after a leisurely breakfast but no, there was no guilt on that front. We put down our names for a foot massage and hair-styling session. Getting pampered was the only agenda.
Meanwhile, we perched ourselves closer to the stage, amusing ourselves with the live Twitter feed on the screen ahead. A few ice-breakers ensued. Evoked much laughter and giggling. I was dreading blogger introductions – words remain one of my best pals, albeit only on paper. It didn’t help that I was one of the last few but to cut a long story short, I was relieved that it was over. Having to stand up and introduce yourself to a roomful of strangers is extremely taxing. But it was heartwarming to see so many women who had found their voices by means of a blog. It was encouraging to say the least.
Post blogger introductions, we had a mini-presentation by the folks from Dove. For a brief period, it felt like being at an induction program, replete with brand values and so on. But I guess we needed the back story to understand why Dove portrays the stories it does. We saw two TVCs that would be going on air shortly and a short video compiled using women’s responses to their new Dove Nourishing Oil Range.
Lunch was a scrumptious affair. But I had polish off dessert in a hurry because one of the volunteers informed me that it was my turn at the Foot Spa next. The folks manning the spa were fabulous. We went in great ceremony but fifteen minutes later, the attendant’s (I forget the guy’s name, ungrateful me) fingers had rendered me languid, unwilling to move. I hated moving my feet away from his dexterous fingers and slipping them into my footwear. I wish I could have roamed around barefoot all day.
We returned to the main event room for some more exciting stuff. Indiblogger volunteers passed around large sheets of paper, each with an attached string (which I have been informed is the practice at all Indiblogger meets). We were to wear this on our backs, like we would a double-shouldered bag, and it would serve as our “wall” for compliments, brickbats, et al. Brilliant ice-breaker I thought. Suddenly everyone was off their seats introducing themselves (once again) and offering to write on another person’s back. I felt quite silly initially but the enthusiasm was contagious. I received comments ranging from “great hairdo” to “lovely voice.” Now I know what to look at, the next time I’m feeling glum. On a side note, the mother, upon seeing that sheet, enquired if I intended preserving this for posterity or eventually disposing it off like some “normal” people would consider doing. I informed her that I would be placing it on my soft-board, tacked with all my other fun memories.
Back to the meet now. Saumya, Brand Manager, Dove, came on the floor, inviting questions relating to hair care. We discussed the finer aspects of serum and hair oil, the dos and don’ts of hair care and general recommendations. Nothing that I hadn’t heard or knew before but it was so nice to hear a brand rep use the same language that we do.
Post-this, @ideasmithy moderated a brief session on blogging. A few women shared some experiences, the good, the nasty and the awkward. It was enlightening to the extent that it left me wondering, “All this also happens?”
The treasure hunt was fun. There were claps, loud squeals of delight and much enthusiasm. We were all declared winners at the end of it. By then I was also getting edgy for my hair appointment. It’s difficult to resist a good hair-wash.
The guy at the sink lamented about the lack of moisture in my hair while the stylist was a little disappointed to note that I wanted all strands off my face and forehead. But it was refreshing. My hair didn’t feel mine after applying that serum folks keep raving about. Soft, smooth and silky.
I left Four Seasons with a big smile on my face, armed with Dove’s new Damage Therapy kit. It comprised a shampoo, conditioner, hair-mark and some serum. I’m yet to try all those but I think I like the serum already.
Thank you Dove and Indiblogger!