28 August, 2016

Travel to Mexico

I must confess, Mexico was never on my to do bucket list. The negative publicity I had heard about the country, had influenced me a lot. When you hear about Mexico, what comes to your mind? The image is of drugs, poverty, crime, theft, Zika virus, etc. We also feel that it is too far from India. There are no direct flights. 
Let me break few myths here. There is strategic image building done by US, UK, etc for countries like Mexico, India, etc. Whenever, India is shown in BBC news, notice that they definitely show cows on the roads, beggars, slums, children and sadhus on the roads. But that is really not the India we live in. Whereas, that is the image anyone has if he has not been to India. Similarly, for Mexico, we have image of crime, drugs and of being too far. 
Mexico is a couple of hours of a flight from US. Even though, there would be more number of crimes and murders in Chicago or New York than Mexico, they will not be highlighted and reported but crime in Mexico will be highlighted. It is a strategic image building by US which wants more tourists coming to US and not going to Mexico. On my recent trip to Mexico, I found no reason to feel unsafe, witness any kind of crime, etc. In fact, I was super impressed by the scenic beauty, the culture, the traditions, extremely kind, friendly, colourful and helpful people, who are eager to show off their beautiful country. The food is delicious and there are amazing things to shop that were locally handcrafted. Their handicrafts were so similar to Indian Kashmiri embroideries that for once, I could not believe it that they were made there and not imported from Kashmir. See the video below to have a look at them. 

I came back wondering why many people do not explore the country, why we live with media created hype and myths, why Bollywood films are not shot in its beautiful locales. The country is vast and has so much to explore. I was surprised to find that Mexico was not just a "developing nation". The country has a strong economy, lots of arts and culture and great transport system. It is one of the most incredible and diverse travel destinations. From tropical beach resorts to rain forests, colonial cities, mountains and deserts, it has spectacular examples of each. It is a traveler's paradise. It is crammed with multitude of opposing identities- desert landscapes, ancient ruins, glitzy resorts, nightlife, party life, beaches and amazing flora. The mix of modern and traditional is the key of Mexican charm. Whether your passion is sipping Margaritas and Tequilas or scrambling over Mayan ruins, it has it all. It is a golfer's dream come true. Some of the finest golf courses are located in the beach resorts. The country is enjoyable year round. Mexicans are really family oriented. Nothing is more sacred to them than a family.
Mexico is one of the world’s great civilizations, Mexico is a melange of Mesoamerican cultures and modern indigenous tribes, Spanish traditions and a vibrant modern economy, the biggest in Latin America after Brazil. Mexico’s landscapes are just as diverse, from the shimmering blue coastline of Baja California and the iconic cactus-strewn deserts of the north, to the Mayan villages and gorgeous palm-smothered beaches of the south. You can climb volcanoes (the highest being Orizaba), watch whales, swim underground and tour tequila farms. And sprinkled throughout you’ll find richly adorned colonial churches, giant ancient pyramids and a sophisticated cuisine that has little in common with the world of nachos and burritos.
The 114 million people of Mexico reflect this variety, too. Communities of full-blooded indígenas, with the Nahua, Maya, Zapotec, Mixtec, Otomí and Totonac the largest groups. There are also a few Mexicans of pure Spanish or European descent, invariably forming the ranks of the mega rich. The great majority of the population (over eighty percent), though, is mestizo, combining in themselves European and indigenous traditions with, to a greater or lesser extent, a veneer of urban sophistication. Add in a multitude of distinct regional identities, from the cowboy culture of the northern deserts to the Mesoamerican traditions of the south, and you have a thrilling, constantly surprising place to travel.
Despite the inevitable influence of the US, looming to the north, and close links with the rest of the Spanish-speaking world, the country remains resolutely individual. The music that fills the plazas in the evenings, the buildings that circle around them, even the smells emanating from a row of taco carts: they all leave you without any doubt about where you are.
If like me, you too have some pre conceived notions about the country, just throw them away. This is one place to explore. If you are an avid traveler and have not explored Mexico, you are definitely missing something. If you travel to US, definitely make Mexico a part of your itinerary. For now enjoy my pics and my video.

19 August, 2016

Tango, Yoga and Beyond

I have been working on my Tango book for sometime now. It is available on Kindle. Do download, read and share your reviews. I look forward to your support. Do check it here.
You can also read about the author (me) here.

16 August, 2016

Teaching tango in SFO

I have been teaching tango in SFO both in a studio in Redwood City and a pre milonga class organised by wonderful Ivan in Milonga La Paz.
SFO community is super friendly and warm. 
I am also teaching privates. If you would like to book a private with me, in SFO, do contact me. My email is kiran.sawhney@gmail.com There are limited slots available.
I am from India and trained in Tango. I also have training in Indian classical dances, yoga and pilates. I incorporate my knowledge of Indian classical dances and Yoga into teaching tango as well. It helps me to understand movement, balance, grace, embrace, connection and musicality. 
In India, I run the most popular tango school, organise milongas and tango festivals.

With awesome Ivan Shvarts. You must go to his milonga La Paz

With my friend Melissa. We had met in Buenos Aires years back. We still have fond memories of our trip.

My sister, niece and nephew driving me to milonga.

12 August, 2016

Don’t just buy a luxury watch, but invest in it with care

There are few things in life worth an investment, and luxury watches are one amongst them. Watches are not something which you enjoy buying only, but they stay close to your heart for long, and thus, are a great investing option. After all, the craftsmanship that goes in creating luxury watches with perfection is worth drooling over. As the pleasure of owning a luxury watch doesn’t end with the passage of time, a lot of effort needs to go in choosing an ideal timepiece.
Is a watch worth its retail price?
While putting your money on a luxury watch, do a little research to know the brand value of the timepiece. It’s a known fact that watches from popular brands are more likely to retain their value over the time, than those from lesser-known brands. Tag Heuer, Omega and Seiko watches have a long history to back for them, and thus are the safe bets. You can search and compare watches from such brands at one-stop online destinations like Zimson and Luxury Bazaar to find the timepiece tailor-made for you. Think from mind while buying luxury watches that satiate your fancy of collecting unique models. Whenever you look for models from famous watch brands, restrict yourself to not-so-common pieces.
Parameters to judge a watch on
A watch nicely picked after considering all check parameters, can be passed on from parents to their child as a token of love and belonging. From the key qualities and features of a watch to its retain value, every aspect needs to be checked before you shell out your hard-earned money on an object you are passionate about.
  • Fit: Buying a luxury watch without considering your hand size can make it look out of place. Watches with a slim strap and small dial will look too feminine on larger wrist sizes, while too large and complex watches can spoil your entire purpose of investing on a timepiece of splendor.
  • Movement: Though the ‘tick tick’ of quartz watches make many go nostalgic, luxury watch makers prefer going with the fineness of the mechanical movement. It’s the intricate interior of a watch with mechanical movement that makes it a great piece of craftsmanship.
  • Style: It’s better to follow your individual taste than going randomly with what allures you in the first glance. The ideal way to keep your style neutral for all occasions is to prefer classic watch designs with a touch of the contemporary glamour. Watches for men, like, Seiko Men’s Recraft Black Nylon Strap Power Reserve Kinetic Watch, Tag Heuer Monaco, and Omega Speedmaster, etc. are for those who want to keep it minimal and sporty, at the same time. Omega Seamaster, Swarovski’s Lake of Shimmer, and the Coutura collection of Seiko watches are designed with a touch of perfection to adorn the elegant look of fashion-forward women.
What’s the best in your budget?
Even if your pocket doesn’t allow you to forget about your budget, then also you can go with your longing for a luxury watch. With brands like Seiko, Tissot, Tag Heuer, you will get the best of luxury watches that showcase classic everyday style with a touch of perfection. Watch models like Seiko Sumo and Seiko Monster will get instant nod even from the elites. You can get timepieces from popular brands like Seiko from online retailers like Zimson in a hassle-free manner.
A lot of effort goes in creating this functional timepiece of art, and so it also showcases the ambition of the creator. Also, every popular model of watches associates with it a long lineage of celebrities equally fond of it and also the inspiring history of the brand.

At the end, all the functional features that a watch has need to work as intended. A timepiece of art is worth investing in only when all its features are easy to operate and smooth in function.

Trip to SFO

Life has been on a roller coaster ride. It is my trip to SFO- to the person I am closest to- to my sister. We have endless talks, cracking laughter till we have pain in our stomachs and tears in eyes, lots of hugs and kisses, sharing, bonding, mimicking, exercising, dancing, running, cycling, cooking, driving, site seeing and the list does not end.

My little nephew made this ice cream cone for me.

Selfie time with San Mateo- Hayward bridge in the background.

Selfie at twitter office.

Priceless expressions

We are both wearing Ritu Kumar tunics. We love to dress alike.

Picking up my niece from her school. She comes running to hug me and takes my hand and introduces me (her massi) to each of her friend and teacher and asks them, "say hi to my massi".

Picking up my nephew from his camp.

Priceless hugs

Test drive of Tesla. Oh it is a beauty.

Dinner together- just us sisters. Our bonding time

My sister took me to a paint night. This was girls night out. We painted dancing dolls and sipped sangrias.

Life could not be better. 

08 August, 2016

Movie review Madaari

Madaari starts with Irrfan Khan’s voiceover telling us a tale of the struggle between a baaz (a hawk) and a chooza (chick). It is about the fight of chick i.e the common man with the hawk i.e the corrupt system. #Madaari is an out and out Irrfan Khan movie. If, like me you too are a fan of his acting skills, you must not miss it. Many people have found errors in the script but take it with a pinch of salt. It is a Bollywood masala movie, showcasing a common man fighting against system and corruption. He is portraying an ideal voter who is too busy in “dal-roti” and day to day affairs and believes what media shows him. He is a single father, taking care of his son. Irrfan does full justice to the character of Nirmal Kumar.
The plot is pretty simple- a simple man seeking to avenge for a personal tragedy that is the loss of his son by picking out a politician through his son. He kidnaps the politician’s son leading to dynamic manhunt. This is where Jimmy Shergill comes in. He portrays Nachiket Verma, the celebrated cop.
The film is a must watch. I would say it is Irrfan’s one of the best performances. It is a movie that you can watch with family.
The film reminded me of Naseeruddin Shah’s Wednesday- a single man fighting against system and corruption in his manner.
There are many moments in the film that shake you. You ponder and think about corruption, life and helplessness of common man or voters who choose their own governments. It is an inspiring movie.
It sounds real, but not as good — if in the end the hawk tramples over the chick. However, the same story would feel good but unreal with a different end, one in which the chick gets the better of the hawk. So driven by this instinct, anger and rage, he kidnaps the politician’s eight year old son. He hopes that with his this act, the world will take notice and pay him heed. He is able to achieve his goal too.

03 August, 2016

SFO day 3- running and living

There are beautiful running and cycling trails in SFO.  The air is so fresh and non polluted. There is lot of greenery all around. And there are no stray dogs that scare me when I run.
 Icing on the cake is running with my sister. She totally inspires me. She taught me today, "Do what you love doing and do it with a lot of love and integrity. Then do not worry about result."