Archive for 2009

Eleven Fave Films of 2009

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

As yet another decade comes to a close, I have to say that this year has been one of the toughest I have faced in my own life. Full of economic uncertainty and chaotic frantic decisions, I am happy to see it end. But parallel to the unpleasant reality of 2009, there was a brightness on screens worldwide, with films that dazzled, wowed and won their ways into my heart. This clearly won’t be a Ten Best list, there is one that made the list by the skin of its teeth, in terms of release date… So, watch on!

In January, I was treated to not one, but two amazing films, while visiting my beloved Bombay. Oh, and to those who wish to write in and ‘suggest’ I call the city by its other Hindu-centric name Mumbai I say NEVER! Deal with it, Nina will continue to call it by the only name that makes sense for the Maximum City, even if I don’t particularly like the author of the book. But that’s a whole different story and I digress.

So, first came ‘Luck By Chance’ directed by Zoya Akhtar and starring her thinking-woman-hunk of a brother Farhan Akhtar, as well as Konkona SenSharma. Got to the posh, VIP screening on the back of an auto rickshaw with beloved film director and writer extraordinaire Anurag Kashyap, stepped out of the dusty auto with my hair tangled by the dust of the trucks hitting the unpaved roads up by Film City, to meet face to face the then couple of the moment Deepika Padukone and Ranbir Kapoor, coming out of their A/C black SUV, all coiffed and untainted, she in a spotless white sheath dress. But the film turned out to be a wonderfully new experience, a truly heroine-centric film, with an unconventional ending, not to mention great snacks at intermission, and a face to face meeting between yours truly and Indian cinema superstar Shah Rukh Khan. All in all, a magical evening and a wonderful movie. It is now what I watch when I need to believe in the true strength of a real woman. Available on Netflix.

During the same sojourn, AK decided to hold a special screening for his then upcoming ‘Dev.D’ a modern retelling of the classical Bengali tale of Devdas, with hints taken from contemporary news headlines, as well as unconventional actors, led by Abhay Deol. Finally a story that was written by a real writer, Kashyap, whose career has continually included penning many, many hits. Just check out IMDB for the complete list, it’ll surprise you. Anyway, sitting among his best friends and favorite people, not to mention within groping distance of hunk Kunal Kapoor -- I know, my taste is quite simple, just give me yummy handsome anyday! -- I watched what would easily become my favorite Indian film of all times. New, fresh and solidly written and acted, ‘Dev.D’ is quite simply a must-see on any list. Also recently became available on Netflix.

February saw the limited -- very, very limited -- release of book-to-screen Italian film ‘Gomorrah’ an insider’s look into the world of the Camorra, the Neapolitan mafia which is a familiar and scary part of any Neapolitan-blooded man or woman. I’m one half Neapolitan, so the idea that these guys, and women, are up to no good isn’t a new concept for me. Oh, and BTW, the story is such an insider’s POV that the author of the book -- Roberto Saviano -- is still in hiding, constantly watching over his shoulder, under constant police protection. And if you think that by living in the US your life isn’t touched by the Camorra, think again?! Why do you think it has taken this long to rebuilt the site at Ground Zero, here in NYC?? If the answer isn’t immediately apparent to you, I suggest you watch the film. It’s not particularly violent, but more crude than anything else. A good lesson in how to treat the Italians. Not joking. I asked my Chinese architect, who thought he could pull the wool over two little Italian ladies’ eyes with our store project, to watch it. You’ll understand why when you rent it from Netflix.

At different times throughout the spring and summer, I saw three different and very fabulous independent films. The first is ‘Unmistaken Child’ about one man’s quest to find the reincarnation of his Lama and mentor in a toddler in Tibet. A true to life documentary, the film follows the journey of Terzin to find the next reincarnation of his master/mentor Lama Konchog. For more on the film, check out The Ajnabee review. Since the film is still traveling around the world, it is not currently available for rent but you can buy the DVD on the film’s website.

Following this was yet another documentary drama, Havana Marking’s ‘Afghan Star’ which followed four contestants on their TV journey to become the next singing Idol winner in Kabul, Afghanistan. All the while creating camps of fans that stretched way across their different ethnic backgrounds. As music is truly a universal language, I found the film both inspiring and completely heartwarming. I highly recommend it, again, currently unavailable for rent, but HBO has bought the rights… 

The third in this documentary trio of favorite hits -- and mind you I am not big on documentaries, typically, as they don’t allow me to get lost in the story -- is ‘Nollywood Babylon’ a well shot and insightfully told tale of the industry of filmmaking in Lagos Nigeria. A place that gives new meaning to pirated DVDs, it is definitely a land to watch and learn about now that the latest guy to try and blow himself, and a US airplane, up comes from Nigeria… Not a great claim to fame for the country, of course, but a wonderful film directed by two very talented filmmakers living in Canada. A must-see. 

Check all their websites by clicking on the title of each film for latest updates.

My favorite all-out Bollywood film of the year was ‘Love Aaj Kal’ by Imtiaz Ali. A great love story about two people who just can’t find within them the courage to love, it struck a chord with me and made me cry. Always a good sign with any film. I ran to the songs on my Ipod for months after at the gym and wanted to dress like Deepika all through the summer. But while I’m on the subject of crying…

Another wonderful film -- though not yet released ANYWHERE -- is Anand Surapur’s ‘The Fakir of Venice’. I was verbally attacked about my passion for this film recently, at the MIAAC film festival in NYC, by someone who said -- and I quote -- ‘the film was a complete waste of my time’. OK, definitely did not have the same experience as me and the packed audience at opening night of IFFLA in Los Angeles… But to each their own. Based on a true story of a beach performer from Bombay brought to the Venice Art Biennale as part of an installation by an unscrupulous hustler, the film features breathtaking photography of Venice at its most sparkling best. I cried rivers in my seat and had to recompose myself for a good ten minutes before joining the afterparty in LA…

Again back to Anurag Kashyap, an honorable mention is ‘Gulaal’ truly his Shakespearean Ouvre and a wonderful film tragedy all around. I loved the music, the actors, the story, the subplots, the hints, the scenes and the theme. Mesmerizing film, another must-see of modern Indian cinema.

Then, in November I saw Lars von Trier’s ‘Antichrist’. Not the kind of film I would choose to go and see, I had a friend in from out of town who insisted he wanted to go and I bought us tickets. He’s a calm, gentle and warm soul whom I knew would be the perfect seat partner for such a disturbing film. I got to the theater -- IFC’s in NYC -- early and read all the reviews posted outside. One advised against viewing the last twenty minutes of the film and reassured the viewer they would not be missing out on the brilliance of the film by doing so. As the power tools came out, I got up and went to the toilet. Stayed in the lobby for another five minutes, leisurely strolled back in, sat next to my composed friend, turned to him and watched the rest of the film on the reflection in his glasses. Needless to say, I missed the gore and the yuck and totally LOVED the film. It was one of those movies that stayed with me for months. I still think about it, proud that I actually had the courage to see it.

Last but not least, there is a film opening in India on December 31st that makes this list by the skin of its teeth. It’s Saurabh Shukla’s ‘Raat Gayi, Baat Gayi?’ which roughly translates to ‘Night Came, What Happened?’ and deals with a one-night-stand that maybe happened. Only the femme fatale knows for sure, and she’s not giving it away too easily. Starring Rajat Kapoor and Neha Dhupia, the film is a mature love story, a totally contemporary tale set in modern Bombay and features one of the most touching performances by both Kapoor and Dhupia. It will be available in the US on DVD sometime in Mid-January. Till then, read my review and I’ll leave you with the trailer. Happy watching and Happy New Year!

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Kanwal’s Healthy Corner – This is not the end, only the beginning…

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

With 2009 coming to a close and 2010 starting up, I thought this might be a good opportunity to reflect on the wonderful healthy dishes of 2009. The majority of New Year’s resolutions usually deal with losing weight or achieving a healthy lifestyle. The main factor for both is to cook and eat healthy, wholesome food with great nutritional value.

I’ve been fortunate enough to help portray this through The Ajnabee and teach readers delicious, nutritionally sound recipes. I always tell people, do not wait for a specific date to start a healthy lifestyle, rather start this very moment. Just because you had two donuts for breakfast does not mean you need to blow off your whole day. Having a balanced lunch is much better than eating a chicken parm for lunch!

People do not realize how much power they have to control their eating habits. It’s time to take charge of your life and start eating healthy NOW. Yes, put down that donut and have a bowl of whole grain cereal or oatmeal. Plan your breakfasts, lunches and dinners out for the week! Restock your pantry with healthy snacks and make sure to buy lots of fruits and veggies to nosh on.

Make this the year that you experiment with new flavors in marinades, such as my Balsamic Masala Chicken. Allow your palate to explore more exotic flavors and go ahead and make my Tamarind Tilapia. Work on getting adequate fiber in your diet and remember that men should aim for 35 grams per day and women 30 grams. My Channa Masala recipe can help you with this or you can try my Smokey Small White Bean Stew. Satisfy a sweet tooth in a healthy way by making my healthy Apple Pie or my delicious Carrot Pudding. Create a healthy side dish for you and your family by making my healthy Butternut Squash Gratin. You will realize that you do not need to eat bland food to eat healthy! With this said, ring in the New Year and make a promise to yourself to eat the best you can every day! 2010 will bring new recipes to The Ajnabee that will help you achieve your healthy lifestyle goals. Happy New Year!!!

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For 2010, Resolving to Talk Once, but Listen Twice…

Monday, December 28th, 2009

My Mom is an endless source of inspiration. At once fiesty and loving, strong and feminine, she is also a great “quoter”. Although spell-check did not question my choice of word just now, I imagine that what I mean by “quoter” is not what the correct Webster definition is… What I mean is that Mom will quote something inspirational at the most inappropriate times, when all I want to do is wallow in self-pity and blame my sorrows on the world. But she is right almost 100% of the time so my first — and most important — resolution for the year should be to follow all her quotes. Instead it is indeed to follow just one which happens to hit me head on..

1) – Talk only half as much as I listen. To be applied to my emails as well, of course. I jump to conclusions, write away in anger and suffer the consequences of my impulsiveness all too often. Recently wrote away to a friend who meant the world to me, because I forgot to follow my own advice and give a person the time to come to terms with things on their own schedule… OK, so it turned out that I was right to write him off, but still… That was one BAD example! Anyway, what I vow to do for 2010 is to think before I speak and listen fully and attentively before I start thinking. One could interrupt the process for the other, so all of the above must be followed.

2) – Love unconditionally. Only too often I say to myself ‘I will love this person, wonderful qualities, faults and all’ and then turn around the next day ready to list the many ways in which they must change to suit my needs. Egocentric, selfish? YOU BET! Though I am not your typical spoiled only-child with a sense of self-entitlement, I am definitely spoiled rotten with the notion that love has to be my way, completely perfect and delivered the way that I give it. The reason I might still be single? Most certainly, but I feel that 2010 is the year I will begin following my own advice.

3) – Open my horizons. Even if I am interested in more things and am willing to go on more adventures than most people I know, I could still widen my horizons. In the last year, I have narrowed my pool of interests to include everything Indian which doesn’t leave much room for the rest. And both Indian friendships as well as my writing about Indian culture has not been paying back, if you know what I mean… I need to go back to my loves of Flamenco, Reggae music, Arab arts and culture and ethnic fashion from all over the world. Oh, and lets not forget my first love of horses. I get mad when people call me an Indophile or when my best friend hints that I may be a ‘one-trick-pony’ but I do see their point.

4) – Let go. Of hurts, of past infractions, of mistakes, of all that may weigh down my life luggage and make it impossible for me to pack inside it all new fun adventures and new experiences. It’s not important how this person did me wrong, or how I feel singled out in being… well SINGLE, but rather unpack all that junk, and fill my emotional luggage with joy and anticipation at the path ahead. It’s probably the hardest of my resolutions to begin, but I expect it to be the most fun to implement.

5) – Laugh a lot. At myself mostly. I have been known to take myself too seriously at times and end up creating havoc when I am let loose with my ‘seriousness’. An example: I expect all prospective suitors — and friends, of course — to be well caught up on my writing. OK, so it’s important to me, but is that more important than a face to face conversation about the world at large? I know I can write, all who know me know it. Now Nina, it’s time to move on and enjoy what the rest of the world has to offer…  

6) – Give less. But end up giving more in the process. It is such a huge part of my personality to give that I end up resenting when I feel the giving — mostly emotional, but sometimes material — is not being reciprocated. And so I strike back in a horrible manner and end up ruining all that has been carefully built. It’s happened mostly with friends and to those who have felt the ‘Wrath of Nina’ and are reading this, I’m really, really sorry. But it leads me to the last and very important resolution, which is…

7) – Don’t play games. It’s not in my original nature to play games but yet we are so bombarded with constant ‘suggestions’ to play all kinds of mind games, that even without knowing I’m doing it, I am playing GAMES! My friend or that film, or the latest self-help book I glance at on the way to the toilets at Barnes & Noble — HONEST — all suggest that I do this, do that and make myself precious in the process that I end up being a confused mess and scaring off the guys who are true quality, as well as some friends who might turn out to be more… So, I promise to stop playing games. Right here, right now. Of all kinds, with everyone! Sincerely involved, always, from this day forward! 

HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone and do share your own resolutions. I am always willing to learn more… Peace, love and success to you!

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Kanwal’s Healthy Corner – Smokey Small White Bean Stew

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

You all know that I love cooking fast, healthy meals! Also, in this cold weather there’s nothing better than curling up to a warm bowl of stew that you could eat with rice or dip crusty bread in. My Smokey Small White Bean Stew is so warm and comforting that you will crave this at the end of a long cold day. This stew is low in calories and fat yet high in fiber (over 6 grams in half a cup!). You can also vary this recipe by adding lean shredded chicken or fresh spinach. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 15.5oz. can of small white beans, partially drained
  • 1TB. oil – for the Italians among us EV olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2TB. of cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1TB. of freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 2tsp. of chopped chipotle peppers
  • 1/4c. freshly chopped cilantro
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Salt/pepper to taste
  • PREPARATION:

    In a saucepan, add the oil and place the pan on medium heat. Once hot, add the onions, cumin and salt. Saute until onions are translucent. Add the garlic and ginger, saute for another minute.

    Add the tomato and stir for a couple of minutes. Add the chipotle peppers and stir. Add the beans and lemon juice

    Add the cilantro and season with salt/pepper to taste. Allow this to simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.

    Servings: 3

    ABOUT KANWAL

    My name is Kanwal Ullah. I am a 27 year old IT Professional living in good old Jersey City, NJ. As some of you may know, I have a deep passion for healthy living. Most importantly, healthy living starts with what you put in your body. Therefore, my passion also exists in healthy cooking. When I’m not in the kitchen working on healthy recipes, you can find me at the gym or roaming the streets of NYC for great food finds. Born as the daughter of two wonderful Pakistani parents, I particularly crave the culture and food from my ancestors. However, I do not like the fat and calories that have crossed continents to get to me! My passion has developed into revamping our South Asian Cuisine to make it more heart healthy and figure friendly! Bon Appetit!

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    Anurag Kashyap’s ‘Dev.D’ is Now on Netflix!

    Thursday, December 17th, 2009

    When I was recently asked to speak at a private school in Brooklyn, to introduce around 55 Ninth Graders to a bit of Indian culture and show them a film that would at once entertain them but also allow them to see the country, the people and the vibe of the place, I immediately thought of ‘Dev.D’. Though it’s not exactly a PG13 film, deals with plenty of mature themes and shows a very modern view of contemporary India — devoid of the fluff that the typical tourists and Travel Channel remote control travelers see — it’s by far my favorite adaptation of the classic Bengali tale of ‘Devdas’ and a thrilling film which would captivate the young, Indo-inexperienced audience. Unfortunately, when their teacher asked me how she could preview it, I found out the film had not been released on DVD in the US. I had my copy from the local Hindi DVD shop, but it was an import and therefore Netflix did not carry it in its otherwise extensive Hindi cinema catalog.

    But these days, that’s no longer a problem. ‘Dev.D’ is indeed available on DVD, Netflix and the works and I suggest that if you haven’t seen it, you put in your queue, rent it, buy it, steal it but absolutely WATCH IT! Below is a reprint of my original ‘review’ though I find it difficult to do anything other than gush about this beautiful film by an equally fabulous filmmaker, starring one of my favorite women in the world! N-joy! 

    “There is always one word that comes to my mind when I think of Indian director Anurag Kashyap: trendsetter. His films are guaranteed to be way ahead of their time, look-wise as well as in the subjects he touches upon and the messages behind his stories. Beyond the artistic vision of this fantastic filmmaker, there stands a man who is not afraid to take chances for the good of all Indian cinema, pushing the envelope on a classic like the story of Devdas and coming out the winner for it. His pioneering vision has been, slowly but surely, eroding at the standard western perceptions of Hindi films as “a bunch of people singing while dancing around a tree.”

    That I personally find Mr. Kashyap the most generous, real and talented man in filmmaking today may tint my judgment just a bit, but regardless of my personal views, his work speaks for itself. He combines the grand imagination of Federico Fellini, the lavish elegance of Luchino Visconti and the depth of story and realism of Vittorio De Sica. All with a bit of Nino Rota‘s musical extravagance thrown in. But above and beyond any labels we can bestow on him, he is Anurag Kashyap, the pioneer, the visionary.

    Dev.D is based on the story of Devdas, a tale which is as old as Indian cinema itself. According to Abhay Deol, the fantastically talented and handsome star of the film, there have been eleven incarnations of the story made into movies thus far, and plenty more to come. I have personally not read the original novel by Bengali writer Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, but I have seen two of the films – most recently the Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Shah Rukh Khan 2002 version – and must admit that the story always left me disappointed in the end. But Dev.D finally satiates this hopeless romantic’s imagination with new twists and turns and a Devdas character who is more honest, likable and understandable.

    The basic tale of Devdas revolves around a man – in this case named Dev – who finds in alcohol and drugs a refuge from his own inability to stand up for love. Torn between his childhood sweetheart Paro and the “courtesan” woman who is by his side in the present, Chanda, Dev brings to mind a favorite quote by Mahatma Gandhi: “A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.” With modern twists to this classic tale, which include a young Chanda taken from the headlines of the MMS case in Delhi, the story stays with the viewer, long after the film ends.

    (continued)

    (more…)

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    Kanwal’s Healthy Corner – Green Bean Tofu Stir Fry

    Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

    As the holidays are in full swing, let’s try to eat healthy when we can. After all most of this season is spent eating out, eating at holiday parties, not to mention huge family gatherings. During the few moments when we are alone this season, why not give your stomach a break and have something light. When I need something light, yet filling, I turn to tofu stir fries. Many people can find tofu to be bland, however this is the best part of tofu! You can infuse any flavor you’d like into tofu and have a great flavorful meal! Low in fat and calories, tofu is great baked or in stir fries. Enjoy this simple and quick recipe for a green bean tofu stir fry.

    Ingredients:

  • 1 package of extra firm tofu
  • 2 egg whites, beaten with 2TB. of skim milk
  • 1 bunch of green beans, cut into 1 in pieces
  • 1TB. of grated garlic
  • 1TB. of grated ginger
  • 2tsp. of coriander powder
  • 1TB. of cumin seeds
  • 2TB. of black bean sauce
  • 1/2c. of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1TB. of oil
  • Salt/pepper to taste
  • Preparation:

    Gently dry of excess moisture from the tofu by blotting with a paper towel. Evenly cut the tofu into two sections. Place sections on top of each other and cut into fourths horizontally, and then cut into fourths vertically. You should have 32 cubes when done.

    Coat the cubes in the egg white mixture.

    In a saucepan, add the oil and place on medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add the cumin seeds, salt, ginger and garlic. Saute for about 2 minutes. Add the coriander powder and black bean sauce. Add the tofu and cook for another minute, stirring constantly (add some water if mixture is too dry).

    Add the green beans and saute for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

    Add the lemon juice and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and allow the sauce to thicken.

    Enjoy this stir fry with some brown rice! Serves 4.

    For more on Kanwal, check out her blog by clicking HERE.

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    Great Chocolate Comes Home to NYC – L.A. Burdick

    Monday, December 14th, 2009

    … Just in time for the Holidays! Indeed, the husband-wife team behind the great L.A. Burdick chocolate creations – available till now only in New Hampshire and Massachusetts – have finally (re)opened a NYC location. As much as finally securing the new location may have been a great accomplishment for Larry and Paula Burdick, it is indeed a dream come true for the chocolate lover in me!

    I became addicted to L.A. Burdick chocolate when a friend brought me back from their Cambridge Mass. store a small cigar box filled with deliciously minute chocolate bonbons and tiny little chocolate mice with silk tails. It was a Christmas token that truly became a periodic indulgence for me. I began sending these little cigar boxes of heaven to my friends and work contacts and was so taken with their divine taste that few other chocolate companies seemed to ever compare. I was even OK with their shipping costs and being deprived the great pleasure of picking the chocolates in person at their shop. Did it all through the coolness of the internet… Worth it always, since the brilliance of Burdick chocolate lies in their petite packaging, just enough of a good thing to make you yearn for more, never making you feel guilty about the calories, yet always filling your taste buds with delight!

    Now, the couple have finally come home to the place where they met and started their chocolate empire. The new location is right in the heart of the Flatiron District and just steps away from the open-air green zone around Madison Square Park. It offers their exquisite selection of chocolate confections and a small cafe where one can sit down and enjoy some tea, a snack and of course, CHOCOLATE! Do check out the discount coupons offered this Holiday Season by the Union Square Partnership, by clicking here

    So have a wonderful Holiday Season, filled with love, friendship, peace and chocolate!

    Images courtesy of L.A. Burdick

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    Engendered Presents Fashion Conscience 2009 in NYC

    Monday, December 14th, 2009

    It is right around this time of year, with the Big Apple all done up in magnificent Holiday decorations, that I become more aware of those who don’t have enough to be able to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah and the upcoming New Year’s. With the arctic chill in the air, the frantic holiday shoppers becoming more aggressive than ever and the subway clogged up by tourists, I often imagine what it must be like to watch this frenzy from the POV of someone who is struggling for their next meal, or searching for shelter to spend the frigid night.

    Of course, with all this talk of extra troops being shipped over to Afghanistan and roadside attacks on our soldiers being nearly double of what they were last year, my heart also goes out to those brave men and women who will be spending their Holidays in the midst of the most senseless conflicts – yes, I meant the ‘s’ – since the infamous and unmentionable ‘V’ word. But before I go down a road that is way too political and controversial for my own good, I am relieved that this year I have found a small way to contribute to some causes that are dear to my heart.

    The Engendered upcoming event at Asia Society on December 19th is just one of those opportunities for me to put my money where my politically charged mouth is. It combines my passions for fashion and India, my enthusiasm for human rights causes and rolls it all into a great, sparkling red carpet party of celebrities, world-renowned designers and fantastic organizers.

    One such wonderful person is Engendered Executive Director Myna Mukherjee, who said about Fashion Conscience ’09 “We wanted to end what has been a very successful year for Engendered with a bang! Our performance component is almost a spectacle, combining the most daring elements of fashion and different forms of South Asian dance traditions. We want people to walk in thinking about these themes, and we want them to leave talking about them.” 

    If we do believe the mantra which states that the past is always a great indicator of what the future will be, then I am quite sure that this event will be one of those fantastic, magical evenings those lucky enough to be in attendance will never forget. Just check out what this summer’s I-View Film Festival managed to bring to NYC, under one roof, all within three days. It would take me at least two months in Bombay to be able to see all that I saw at Lincoln Center in one weekend… But I am digressing.

    Back to Fashion Conscience ’09. The evening will begin at 5.30 with a celebrity-filled red carpet and VIP reception inside Asia Society. Then the fashion show will take place at 7, followed by a celebration after-party with live DJ Kayper and surprise performances.

    The designers who have contributed their collections to the event are India’s own maverick pop designer Manish Arora, Afghan wonder woman and bridge between East and West – recently featured in this Time Magazine article - Zolaykha Sherzad and NYC’s own up-and-coming Parsons graduate – and former Anna Sui, Ralph Lauren designer – Asher Jay. Each designer explored a particular theme in their collection, with Arora contributing ‘Positive’ – a line paying tribute to the resilience of AIDS victims – Sherzad contributing ‘Love’ – borrowing from Sufi traditions and representing prayers for the women who are victims of violence and displacement in their lives – and Jay’s androgynous line ‘One’ which focuses on gender non-conformity and non-dualistic desire borrowed from the Buddhist and Tantric myths of Goddess Kurukulla, deemed bewitching by both sexes. 

    Celebrity models walking the runway for Fashion Conscience 2009 will include beloved filmmaker and world activist Mira Nair, ‘Bombay Dreams’ dreamboat Manu Narayan, sultry actress and model Ami Seth and openly gay comedian Vidur Kapur. Of course, they had me at their fashion line-up, but people-watching is another one of my secret passions, so this great list of who’s-who of NYC’s VIP doesn’t hurt! 

    Come support a great cause this Saturday and be entertained beyond your wildest dreams, by a bevy of beautiful clothes, magical music and great company. And don’t forget to wear your dancing shoes… It’s going to be a night to remember! For tickets, click here and for more info about Engendered, click here. Oh, and one last piece of advice, this event will sell out, so get your tix ASAP!!

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    Target To-Go Sprinkles Fairy Dust Onto NYC

    Thursday, December 10th, 2009

    Feeling lucky this week? I say forgo the lottery which you’ll have to enter to win – I found this out quite of late in my life! – and just walk around NYC for some freebies, courtesy of Target. Yes, you read right, that fabulous shop which manages line after line by some of the most beloved high fashion designers at affordable recession-proof prices is sprinkling some magic around the Big Apple.

    To help launch their new Target To-Go stores – a new concept for the company – which will only stay open from December 11th through the 13th and will be flying out of here on a magic carpet at 8 p.m. on Sunday, they are hiding some gift tags in conspicuous places uptown, downtown and all around the town. 

    Beginning on the morning of December 11, Target will place approximately 500 oversized and easy-to-identify gift tags in Manhattan.  For each gift tag returned to Target To-Go, located at Gansevoort and Washington Streets,  Target will give the guest a GiftCard, worth anywhere from $10 to $500, and in turn Target will donate $100 to The Salvation Army to benefit families in need.

    To get clues to the gift tag locations and stay in loop about this moving wonderstore by Target, follow them on Twitter @TargetToGoNY. For more info on Target the store in general, simply visit the Target website

    See above right and left some of the items available at this one-stop shopping mecca for all your holiday gifts, which will also be happening in San Francisco and Washington, D.C.. The eight piece Soap & Glory Plane Jane Gift Set is just $26.99, while the Sigg Bottle Wheel of Karma is retailing at $21.99. So, friends, loved ones and soul sisters of mine out there, you know what I’ll be picking up for you this Xmas… And keeps your eyes open for some lucky breaks of your own!

    All images courtesy of Target

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    Kanwal’s Healthy Corner – Chaat Chicken

    Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

    Now that Thanksgiving is over how about we try to be nicer to our bodies and eat a bit healthier. My Chaat Chicken recipe packs a tremendous amount of flavor with great tang for not a whole lot of fat or calories!

    Ingredients:

    • 1lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, each piece cut in half
    • 2TB. of freshly grated garlic
    • 1/2c. of white vinegar
    • 3TB. of chaat masala
    • 1TB. of cumin powder
    • 2tsp. of chili powder
    • 1tsp. of turmeric
    • 1tsp. of smoked paprika

    Preparation:

    Combine all ingredients together and make sure chicken is evenly coated. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes. Turn your oven on to 400 degrees. Place chicken in a baking dish and cook uncovered for 20 minutes. Then cover chicken with foil and cook for another 10 minutes. Allow to cool. Enjoy with a side of roasted vegetables.

    This wonderful dish serves four people.

    If you would like to have a recipe revamped into something healthier or have any questions, please email Kanwal at kanwal.ullah@gmail.com. Or you can post your comments here and Kanwal herself will check in from time to time… You never know, your question could be featured on next week’s column for The Ajnabee!

    Also for more on Kanwal, check out her blog by clicking HERE.

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