Ain’t Nothin’ But The Blues…

•January 26, 2011 • Leave a Comment

So I broadened the horizons of my musical taste last night… I had a night out with some of my Firm friends at Ain’t Nothin’ But Blues, a blues bar in Soho. I did have some reservations before I went, but I decided it was a good way to socialise, and it couldn’t hurt to try something new every once in a while.

And I’m glad I did! We had an absolute blast. Good conversation, coupled with refreshingly different music, downed with plenty of Diet Cokes and lime twists, made for an excellent night out.

It did take me a while to decide on what to wear, having never been out to a blues bar before. In the end, I went with my blue striped Ralph Lauren shirt, a black Jaeger cardigan with striped piping, jeans, brown suede Gucci loafers, my buffalo leather Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche cuff, and a lilac silk chiffon Alexander McQueen skull scarf (to up the street cred ;))…

Now however, in the harshness of sunlight, I realise I haven’t actually made a start on the prep for today’s Company Workshop… Oy vey.





•January 25, 2011 • Leave a Comment

It’s almost been a year since my last update. I think it generally is true that when the going is good, you rarely see the need to document it in your blog. It’s when things are spinning out of control, or some melodrama has emerged that you feel the urge to pen your thoughts down, hoping that by externalising it, some of the frustration somehow astrally projects itself…

Yeah, I think it’s high time I start posting again… Ironically of course, as I have a mountain of work to get through. As usual, am a great prioritiser…

I have to say, simperingly smug as I am, the year has gone remarkably well… Since my last post, with the LL.M. exams looming over the horizon, life has steadily chugged along in the most positive direction.

I ended up graduating with a First Class in my LL.M., coming in top in my college, getting a college prize, and being in the top 10th-percentile of the entire cohort. Alhamdulillah. Everything I’ve gotten so far is due to His infinite mercy, bounty and wisdom.

I think the First came as a particular surprise as well, considering that I actually had a much fuller social life on the LL.M. than during my undergrad years, which is normally the opposite for most people. Oh well, it makes it worth even more to me, the fact that I actually enjoyed and savoured my post-grad year instead of slaving away, cooped up in the library. That’s not how I roll anyway… 😉

After graduation, after spending a couple of months back home, I’ve finally made the move to Londres! I’ve landed in the capital babeh! After searching for apartments for two days, I found one within my budget, and in my desired location in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea… (Channelling Edie here: not the outskirts mind you, smack dab in the posh part of RBKC thank you very much!) The trade-off of course, is the fact that the apartment’s the size of a broom closet, and I don’t have an ensuite bathroom. But apart from that, it’s a cosy little space, and I absolutely adore my neighbourhood. The apartment is in a gorgeous townhouse, on a pretty, quiet street, but literally minutes from the tube. I have two supermarkets within 5 minutes of me, and most importantly, Harrods is a 20-minute walk away! (Not that I generally schlep there… I have a travelcard, I’m not insane… :P)

The LPC year hasn’t been superlative though, the amount of work is ridiculous! This, coupled with the fact that we have workshops every week that need prep for, I’ve found myself working a lot more than I did during my actual degrees… Bugger!

But now that am in Londres, at least I’m in the same city as Cougar, Lil’ J, and Gong. Life’s so much better when you have great friends in close proximity.

Anyways, I think this should be a sufficient start…



Late… Again…

•March 25, 2010 • 2 Comments

I know, I know… It’s been more than a month since my last post… 😛 I’ve been totally neglecting the blog! And it looks like it’s going to be that way for a while as well.

The Lent term has come and gone, and we’re now on our Easter break. Well, it’s more of a study break anyway, since finals are barely 2 months away! Eep! I’ve been getting busy getting my readings in order and have been trying to get work done since the beginning of the week.

The past term has been great, in fact the entire year here at Cantab has been amazing. I’ve made so many amazing friends, and my social life has never been better! 😉 Haha, shows you where my priorities have been this year. I kid… I’ve really been enjoying the course as well, being able to specialise in the subjects I love, and being taught by some of the foremost academics in the field. Of course, basking in the glorious atmosphere of this wonderful institution.

I’ve been loading up on quite a bit of fashion this term too. I guess it’s to make up for the rather lukewarm efforts I made during the Christmas sales. I bought a gorgeous Burberry cashmere scarf in an absolutely divine fawn pale grey melange shade which I had my eye on since FW ’09 (did NOT appreciate the 10 quid delivery charge though!), which was perfect for the crisp cold weather we’ve been having in the UK for the past few months…

I was also deeply saddened by the news of Alexander McQueen’s demise. The fashion world has lost a true visionary. I’ve treasured my lilac McQueen silk chiffon skull scarf since my darling Cougar bought it for me in November 2007 (I, in turn, got her the black version at the same time…) In an homage to his genius, and also, to make sure I own a piece of his legacy before his house was turned over to another designer, I immediately bought an ivory version of the skull scarf before they sold out. Cougar was disappointed as the ones she wanted had sold out by the time she wanted to get her well-manicured paws on it. But just last week, as I was trawling the official McQueen site, I saw that they had the pink version, which she had her eyes on for the longest time. She immediately bought it as soon as I alerted her to its presence. Hehehe, what can I say? We enable each other’s fashion addictions! We’re best friends!

Speaking of besties being enablers… I had my eye on getting a gilet for Spring. Of course, one of my top choices was of course, the ultra-Sloaney Barbour version. (Yep, apparently to my friends, am an Asian Sloane… I’m surprised that exists, but okay.) She found a black quilted one, with a tartan lining in a Barbour store on Piccadilly, and after frantic consultations over Blackberries and iPhones, I decided to get it, with her help procuring it. At first, when I got hold of it, when I met up with her in Londres before I had an event with the future trainees at The Firm, I wasn’t particularly thrilled with it. But I have to say, it’s certainly grown on me, and I’ve become quite fond of it. In fact, Cougar, I’ve been wearing it all week! 😀 Environazi’s been especially complimentary about it!

Sigh, I love preppy fashion… 😉

Anyways, this might be the last post for a while, since I’m trying my best to concentrate on my work, but you never know, I might get the writing bug sooner than that…

Ciao bella!




•February 13, 2010 • Leave a Comment

It’s a late Saturday morning… The birds are chirping, the sun is sort of shining… And all I can think of is the colossal mess that my room is in at the moment.

This always happens after I have a night out. Before I leave the house, I’ll be poring through my wardrobe, looking for the perfect outfit, and accessories to go along with it, leaving a bunch of pret-a-porter lying strewn all over the furniture, bottles and pots of skincare and haircare products cluttering up every desk space available, and gorgeous paper bags filled with my latest acquisitions taking up valuable floor space. Honestly, it looks like a small branch of Harvey Nichols and Barneys got bombed in here!

Being the obsessive-compulsive that I am, I HATE seeing my room in this way. It drives me up the wall, but yet, every time I go out, I know I will be coming home to the tornado-wreck that I leave behind whenever I get ready… The worst part is when I actually get home, and I see the mess. Usually being too tired, I add to the wreckage by tossing various parts of my outfit around the room as I sleepily get undressed and ready for bed.

This morning I found my suit jacket hanging over one of my bedside lamps. WTF! What in all the world was going through my mind when I decided that THAT would be the ideal spot for a silk-cashmere pinstripe suit jacket?

Obviously when I wake up in the morning, and survey the apocalyptic debris all around me, I usually whimper and crawl back under the covers, hoping it will all go away, and I will wake up to a pristine living space.

No such luck… I’m going to have to clean up this mess, and I have no doubt I’m going to have go through this ALL over again the next time…



Vienna Trip Part II…

•February 6, 2010 • 1 Comment

Alrighty, day 2 in Vienna… Uber Alles and I got up earlier, and after having some delicious Nespresso, we were on our merry way to Schönbrunn Palace, the former imperial summer residence of the Habsburg monarchs… As usual, the weather was still absolutely miserable, raining the entire way there, and pretty much for the rest of the day until nightfall.

Schönbrunn was absolutely breathtaking. The splendid architecture and the magnificent gardens truly demonstrated why it was one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites. As this was a compact trip, we didn’t go in, but took some pictures outside and in the grounds of the palace.

It was here that I experienced my first authentic Christkindlmarkt, the Austrian Christmas market. There were so many lovely wares on display, and tempting food being sold, along with steaming mugs of cider. I still regret not buying one of those filled doughnut-type pastries… 😦 Oh well, I suppose that gives me yet another reason to go back to Vienna sometime soon.

After walking around the market, and taking notes of stalls to revisit, we decided to get out of the wretched rain, and went into the Schönbrunn kaffeehaus, where I finally got to try genuine apfelstudel, washed down with some soda water and a cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream. Absolute decadence! The crispy filo pastry provided a perfect foil to the rich, yet tart flavour of baked apple, served with creamy, smooth vanilla sauce. Uber Alles stuck with her usual cup of coffee, not wanting to get any dessert. Definitely has more discipline than I do when it comes to sweets! Oh heck, am on holiday, and since have not been eating proper food, I might as well stuff my face with fantastic Viennese desserts.

After strudel, we took some more pictures around the palace before heading to, of course, my favourite part of every sightseeing trip, the GIFT SHOP! I never fail to buy at least one item from every gift shop of places of interest I’ve been to. So, in keeping with tradition, we went to this one. J There, I bought myself a beautiful tapestry square, embroidered with pale blue flowers, and trimmed with baby blue and gold thread. I also found the perfect Christmas present for Cougar. A replica of the star diamond jewellery that Empress Maria used to wear, made from sterling silver and studded with Swarovski crystals. I bought her a beautiful bracelet from the collection. I wanted some variety, since I always got her necklaces…

On the way out, we stopped by the market again, as a stall selling Polish ceramics had caught my eye earlier on. After the stallowner showed me about fifteen variations of the blue painted ceramic trays, I finally decided on one. He must have heaved a sigh of relief that I finally picked one… I’d hate to think he went to all that trouble for nothing. He might have beaned me in the head with one… Heh.

After the trip to the palace, we headed back into town. Our first stop was the Hofburg Palace, housing the Austrian National Library, an awe-inspiring building smack dab in the middle of the city centre. We took some pictures there before heading to the highlight of my entire trip to Vienna, Loden-Plankl, the oldest and most prestigious Loden store in Vienna. I had fallen in love with the Austrian loden jackets the moment I saw them online, and later on in Lanz, on the first day in Vienna. They were gorgeous, especially the collarless jackets that reminded me of Nehru jackets, with chestnut wood buttons. They were prohibitively expensive in Lanz though, so I gave up the idea of owning a loden jacket. But I researched the jackets the moment we got back, which is how I found out about Loden-Plankl, and how they were THE place for loden jackets.

Basically, loden is a thick, water resistant woollen material with a short pile, first produced by peasants from Austria. The fabric is derived from the coarse, oily wool of mountain sheep and has a traditional bluish-green colour.

To produce Loden fabric, strong yarns are woven loosely into cloth which then undergoes a lengthy process of shrinking, eventually acquiring the texture of felt and becoming quite dense. It is then brushed with a fuller’s teasel and the nap is clipped, a process which is repeated a number of times until the fabric is lightweight, supple, windproof and extremely durable.

So we made our way to Loden-Plankl, which is located on Michaelerplatz, opposite the Hofburg Imperial Palace. It was a gorgeous old, wood-panelled store, filled floor to ceiling with gorgeous loden, cashmere and fur. The staff, of course, greeted us with the usual icy Grüß Gott. But once we got to the menswear department, and asked one of the salesladies for assistance, she was unfailingly obliging.

After being momentarily distracted by a hamster-fur-lined waistcoat, we turned to the task at hand, finding the perfect jacket. Somehow, she managed to find me a gorgeous Loden jacket, collarless, with detailed lapels, in the classic loden hunter green shade, finished with chestnut wood buttons, in my size, and on sale!! It was 50% off, and thus very reasonably priced. I pretended to contemplate it for a few minutes, while trying on some other jackets, but I don’t know who I was kidding. I had fallen in love with that jacket. I don’t know how to describe it, but I’ve never had a piece of clothing that made me feel and look so good. Every time I put it on, I just feel great, and can’t resist the urge to strut about like a male model everywhere. Trust me, that is a very rare feeling for me to get, especially when it comes to clothing.

Anyway, I digress. I got the jacket, a big grin plastered on my face as we left the store, clasping the gold paper bag firmly, adding to the clutch of shopping bags I already held.

After spending quite a bit of time and effort on retail therapy, we decided it was time for yet another coffee break, and we went over to Café Griensteidl to chill out and relax while waiting to meet up with Scheherazade. I ordered a cappuccino, and a butter cream torte, topped with pecans. Uber Alles, of course, had another cup of coffee.

After chilling out for a couple of hours, if I’m not mistaken, Scheherazade was taking her time, so we decided to do more sightseeing. As we headed towards the Museums Quartier, we stopped by the Spanish Riding School, and went into the gift shop just to get a token since I couldn’t go and watch the show. So I got myself a small horse figurine in white porcelain.

Once that was out of the way, we took a few more pictures of the Hofburg Palace from the other façade as we leisurely strolled towards the Museums Quartier.

There was another Christkindlmarkt there with a beautifully decorated Christmas tree. I still didn’t get the delicious looking pastries, having been stuffed with the torte earlier. Darn… We didn’t buy anything there, but just soaked in the festive atmosphere as the last rays of sunlight started to disappear beyond the horizon.

When Scheherazade finally arrived, Uber Alles headed home to run a quick errand before meeting up with me again in the evening. Scheherazade took me up to Mariahilferstrasse, the main shopping street in Vienna. Most of the stores were pretty similar to the high street in London, so I wasn’t tempted to buy anything there. We went into one of the biggest department stores in Vienna, though the name escapes me now, mainly to get out of the rain. But we had a great conversation while milling through the store, checking out the merchandise etc.

Once the rain stopped, we headed back out, and Scheherazade bought a bag of freshly roasted chestnuts which we shared as we walked towards the Universitat Wien, which I have to say, has one of the most impressive university buildings I have ever seen, with exquisite baroque interiors that caused such a pang of envy… I wish my law faculty looked like that!

After visiting the university, we went to the Christkindlmarkt in front of Vienna’s town hall, the Rathaus. (Hee, rat house!) There, I found a cute ginger cat figurine at one of the stalls, adding it to my growing collection. After exploring the market, we stopped, and Scheherazade treated me to a non-alcoholic version of the Christmas cider, Jugenpunsch or something like that. I loved it, especially in the chilly weather, it provided a lovely warming sensation.

We walked back to the city centre, where we met up with Uber Alles at the Swarovski store near Stephansplatz, and I got myself a crystal Swarovski cat figurine. Cost a pretty penny, but it was absolutely gorgeous, and I had to add it to the collection.

After saying our goodbyes to Scheherazade, Uber Alles and I finally got to the Musikverein (on the right night this time!) and had an amazing time at the concert. The music, coupled with the grandeur of the Golden Hall, and the superior acoustics, made it a night to remember…

The following day, I left for London, filled with memories of what I can truly say to be one of the my most cherished holidays in quite a while. Thanks to Uber Alles and Scheherazade, who made my stay even more memorable.



Vienna Trip Part I

•January 10, 2010 • Leave a Comment

For the first time in 3 years, I could actually enjoy my winter hols without the threat of nasty Midsessionals looming over the horizon. So I decided to go on a little mini-break in addition to my annual London sojourn for the Boxing Day sales.

Going through my list of places to visit, Vienna was at the top of my list. I’ve wanted to go there since I arrived in the UK a few years ago, but of course, the fashion capitals were my priority. 😉

But oh well, now was the perfect time for me to visit the famed city, especially close to Christmas time when the city was supposed to look absolutely divine. I claimed my miles on BA for a one way flight and was on for a return flight. A couple of clicks, and a few swipes of my Visa and I was on my merry way.

Uber Alles was super sweet when I asked her whether she wouldn’t mind meeting up and taking me around the sights in Vienna, and offered to put me up during my four day trip. For that I am eternally grateful… We weren’t close friends at the time, and I was really touched that she was so accommodating.

I also arranged to meet up with one of my juniors in University, Scheherazade, who was doing her ERASMUS year in Universitat Wien. I hadn’t seen her since I graduated and this was the perfect opportunity to catch up.

One thing though, I hadn’t realised how exhausting coach rides can be. In addition to the actual flight to Vienna from Heathrow, the ride from Universitas to the airport nearly sent me into a stupor. I never did do well on the coach.

Being the paranoid self that I am, I had taken an early coach and arrived at the airport with four bleeding hours to spare. I had a quick bite at Yo Sushi, nibbled on a Krispy Kreme chocolate dreamcake doughnut while doing a little last minute shopping at Harrods at Heathrow, looking for some gifts for Uber Alles and her family.

Arriving at Vienna was a breeze, taking the direct train, City Airport Train, which was a 15-minute express journey from the airport to the centre of town, where Uber Alles and her brother were waiting to pick me up.

As I only had a few slices of octopus washed down with sparkling water earlier in the day, I was feeling rather peckish, and we stopped by a kebab or kebap as the Viennese say, stall, Kebap Koenig, on the way back and ordered some to go.

The evening was spent chatting and catching up in Uber Alles rarely-used dining room, which apparently had a shower hidden behind a Chinese screen. I thought she was kidding. I looked behind the screen. She wasn’t. There was a frickin’ shower in the room. She explained that a lot of the Viennese houses had saunas built in, and this was somehow a remnant from that.

After a long evening of chatting, and meeting Uber Alles’s mother, and continuing the conversation into the wee hours of the morning, I went to bed, all geared up to get an early start and see as much of Vienna as I could within the next two days, since I was pretty much flying off early on the fourth day.

Didn’t go as planned, as I overslept and we ended up leaving the house around 11. But it was all good. A trip on the U-Bahn, and we were soon in the heart of Vienna, Stephensplatz. (I love how a place name sounds like something you’d see in those old camp Batman shows, when he hits a villain in the face. Splatz!)

After a cursory glance at the Stephansdome, which apparently had been under reconstruction since, for the longest time, since they decided to put up a scaffolding that showed how the building was supposed to look, we went into Aida to get some sustenance. Also, we needed to get out of the frickin’ rain. Perfect, the two days I was there, it pissed down non-stop, and the day after I left, no more rain. Apparently, they had the most amount of rain in Vienna on that first day I went sightseeing, for the longest time. Pftt! Typical!

Anyways, we went to Aida, and I was all ready to try the various divine desserts that were on offer in Vienna, especially since there was a dearth of halal Viennese cuisine. I might as well load up on their tortes. So my first torte of the trip, was the absolutely delicious Mozartorte, which was a torte version of the ubiquitous Mozart chocolate balls one would find scattered around the city. It was a heavenly concoction of marzipan, pistachio and velvety smooth chocolate, which I washed down with a bone dry cappuccino.

One thing I didn’t particularly like about Vienna was the fact that it was a smoker’s paradise, as you could still smoke indoors, especially in cafes and the like. Maybe because it made me want a cigarette.

After that late breakfast, we headed off to the two Swarovski stores in the city centre, to start looking around for souvenirs. The first one wasn’t very big, but the service was impeccable. The second one was rumoured to be the biggest Swarovski store, but left a lot of be desired. Everyone was rushing in and grabbing things off the racks as if it was Petticoat Lane, everyone jostling about. How very common

When I showed interest in a particular piece, instead of having it presented to me, and being talked through the process of aftercare etc, it was quickly shoved into a transparent plastic bag, and we were herded towards the ground floor to go and pay for the purchase. Disgusted, me and Uber Alles left the bag in the store and walked out. There was no need for such appalling service, no matter how big the store was.

We then went into this store that seemed to specialise in fur hats and the like. Another thing I love about Vienna, the amount of fur that people were wearing! No fucking PETA would scare them…

I was quite keen on getting a fur hat, though there was this nagging feeling that Universitas wasn’t cold enough for that. We went down to the men’s department and I tried on a few creations. Sadly, I ended up looking more like a sad extra from Dr. Zhivago. It might have worked in Vienna, but not really in Universitas.

Having walked around a bit more, we decided to break for lunch, and we went to Nordsee, which was this chain of restaurants that specialised in seafood. Although Uber Alles said it wasn’t some fancy place, I loved it. The food was amazing. I had battered grilled fish with herbed potatoes and a mushroom cream sauce, as well as a starter of seafood caprese, washed down with a big glass of Nestea. Absolutely delicious.

Scheherazade joined us while we were having lunch, and we spent some time catching up about the summer and how she was enjoying her year in Vienna so far.

After lunch, we decided that a good dessert and a cuppa was in order, and the three of us made our way to Café Demel, which was utterly splendid. It reminded me of the Café Laduree on the Champs-Elysee where me and Bronzage had macarons lighter than air. Anyways, we were seated, and I ordered a kaffeetorte and a cup of café melange, which was the signature Viennese coffee. Yep, a lot of caffeine in that one meal… We sat there for a couple of hours just chatting and soaking in the atmosphere, savouring the beautiful confections and perfect brews. It was a good way to while away the afternoon, I can tell you that…

After dinner, Uber Alles and I said our goodbyes to Scheherazade, and made plans to meet up with her the next day, while we headed to the Musikverein to catch the concert by the Friends of the Society of Music of Vienna Orchestra (or something like that, I can’t remember the name anymore…) However, when we got to the concert hall, it was dark and most of the doors were bolted. When we got to the one entrance that was open, Uber Alles inquired with the surly man on duty, who simply muttered, “No, no concert tonight…”

Yes, thank you, very helpful… We finally consulted the tickets, and yes, we had got the wrong date! Earlier that day, I asked Uber Alles whether the concert was that day, and she thought it was the following day. I told her to check the tickets, and she said she would, but somehow, the both of us forgot to follow up on that. I had gotten all gussied up for nothing!

In the end, we proceeded back into town and went for dinner at Vienna’s best Japanese restaurant, Ten-Maya. It was tastefully decorated in a traditional yet chic Japanese style with lots of panelled wood and paper partitions. At least I didn’t feel overdressed there… After agonising over the menu for a good 10-15 minutes, we finally ordered. Uber Alles had the sushi platter, while I ordered the set meal, which I thought was pretty good value, at about 18 euros, which consisted of soba in a miso broth, seaweed, tempura prawns and vegetables, and two onigiri, which were rice balls filled with salmon, and wrapped in seaweed. For dessert, Uber Alles had the matcha green tea ice cream, while I had the crème caramel, which was woefully tiny if I’m being honest…

And that was the first full day out in Vienna! I told you I’d give you a huge post… Vienna day 2 will be done at some point… 😉



Jack Frost’s Machinations…

•January 7, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Listening to: Broken Strings – James Morrison feat. Nelly Furtado

The bastard certainly has been busy strewing the UK with a generous helping of snow this year… It doesn’t help that this country seems absolutely unprepared to deal with the weather phenomenon EVERY damn year. It’s like it catches them by surprise, as if it’s unexpected…

Even the thinnest layer of snow apparently sends everything into shut-down mode… Gah!

I forget why I used to love snow… Correction, I do love snow, it’s just the ice that forms from packed snow that is absolutely vile…

It doesn’t help that I am fundamentally uncoordinated, and find myself in an inordinate amount of accidents which apparently makes me a comedy routine among my friends…

The last time it snowed a few weeks ago, I found myself ending up arse over tit. I was going to the movies with Environazi at the time. It truly was a spectacular fall… I sort of flipped, did a half-somersault twist, and crashed heavily into my left side, which still hurts sporadically. Even now. Owie. Sniff.

I really have no business going outside in this kind of weather. Although, now that I’ve finally bought Ugg boots during the Harvey Nichols Christmas sale (chestnut, 10% off, fab!), it might be less perilous for me to actually venture beyond the front door. Since my room windows aren’t double-glazed, my feet end up freezing if I don’t wear the Uggs in the room anyway…

Having said that, I am jealous of everyone around me who seem to have absolutely no problems navigating the streets, and walk normally without worrying about slipping on the ice. I, on the other hand, have to take slow deliberate steps, keeping my hands out of my pockets (It’s a balance thing apparently, I consulted a website on how to avoid falls. It was addressed to the elderly living in Canada. I know, that’s apparently my demographic now…), and generally looking like an absolute pillock, watching my every step, while everyone else breezes past… Pftt!

I really hope it stops snowing before next week. The thought of navigating the ice on my 45-minute walk to the faculty does NOT sound like an attractive prospect…