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Last Build Date: Mon, 05 Mar 2018 12:00:57 PST


Happy Naw-Ruz!

Sun, 20 Mar 2016 06:52:07 PDT


“The new year hath appeared and the spiritual springtime is at hand”

AS THE Baha'i Fast comes to a close, springtime begins, and a new year unfolds. It's Naw-Ruz, the first day of the new year in the Baha'i calendar. With Baha'is present in 100,000 localities in over 200 countries and territories around the world, the event is a global celebration. In most countries, Baha'is gather together for prayers, dancing, singing, and dining. Hie over to the "The Largest Baha'i Facebook Group Ever", and you'll see how Naw-Ruz captivates communities around the world.

Naw-Ruz has roots in Nowruz, the traditional Iranian celebration that welcomes the first day of spring. Abdu'l-Baha, Son of the Founder of the Baha'i Faith, has written about the advent of springtime:

The turning and falling of the autumn leaves is past; the bleakness of the winter time is over. The new year hath appeared and the spiritual springtime is at hand. The black earth is becoming a verdant garden; the deserts and mountains are teeming with red flowers; from the borders of the wilderness the tall grasses are standing like advance guards before the cypress and jessamine trees; while the birds are singing among the rose branches like the angels in the highest heavens, announcing the glad-tidings of the approach of that spiritual spring, and the sweet music of their voices is causing the real essence of all things to move and quiver.

Happy Naw-Ruz to everyone around the world!

Related Stories: Happy Naw-Ruz (2007)! | Happy Naw-Ruz (2009)! | Happy Naw-Ruz (2014)!


The Baha'i Fast

Wed, 16 Mar 2016 20:30:57 PDT


AND SO that time of the year has come when Baha'is are up before the sun is, have a filling breakfast, pray, and make their most uncompromising effort to detach from all material passions and desires. The annual 19-day season of the Fast has come.

To all my fellow Baha'is, may the Fast be refreshing, reflective, and reinvigorating for you! Happy Fasting!


Focal point: Pia Andrade, “Being Free”

Wed, 16 Mar 2016 19:32:18 PDT


"Being Free"

THIS YEAR makes the thirtieth year of the People's Power Revolution that overthrew the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines. In commemorating the milestone event, the Philippine Daily Inquirer asked my niece Pia Andrade, one of their junior writers, for her thoughts on freedom. Pia wasn't born yet when the peaceful revolution occurred, but her thoughts capture the essence of freedom with universal truth. “Trust and respect everyone the same way

We can maintain freedom by using it wisely and not abusing it. We can say anything or do anything, as long as it doesn't hurt anybody. Do not bully others and do not let yourself be bullied.

Trust and respect everyone the same way. Be fair, just, and do not take sides. Love the country where you are born and raised.

Related Stories: Pia becomes a writer


Focal point: Barbra Streisand & Neil Diamond, “You Don't Bring Me Flowers”

Wed, 16 Mar 2016 19:32:59 PDT

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"You Don't Bring Me Flowers", Grammy Awards, 26 February 1980

THIRTY SIX years ago tonight, I tuned in to the live telecast of the Grammy Awards in Manila, and I watched the mesmerizing and unannounced performance captured on this video. Thus began my unending enthusiasm with the incomparable artistry of Barbra Streisand. Watch the video and believe. It doesn't get any better than this anymore.


Festival of Ayyám-i-Há

Wed, 16 Mar 2016 18:39:41 PDT


THIS YEAR'S festival of Ayyám-i-Há has five days of fellowship amongst Bahá'ís on account of leap year. Translated from Persian as "days of joy" or "days outside of time", Ayyám-i-Há brings Bahá'ís together in in a global spirit of goodwill, performing acts of charity, giving gifts to friends and family, and attending social gatherings before the annual Bahá'í Fast begins.

Bahá'u'lláh, the prophet-founder of the Bahá'í Faith, said of Ayyám-i-Há:

"It behoveth the people of Baha, throughout these days, to provide good cheer for themselves, their kindred and, beyond them, the poor and needy, and with joy and exultation to hail and glorify their Lord, to sing His praise and magnify His Name."

Happy Ayyám-i-Há to Bahá'ís around the world!


Biba comes to DLF Mall of India

Sun, 20 Mar 2016 08:44:36 PDT


BIBA OPENED its 200th store in Noida, India last 11 January 2016, at the cavernous DLF Mall of India. I'm excited about this store for two things. One, the company has reached a new milestone by hitting the 200-store mark. Two, we have introduced innovations in shop design and display that no other brand in the ethnic womenswear industry has ever done, making this the most up-to-date and most competitive Biba store in the world! From the Flickr slideshow below, you can see such compelling ideas as "The Biba Look This Month" wall that increases shopper engagement in the store.

It seems like just yesterday that the store design team and I travelled to see the Biba site at the dusty Mall of India. Seeing the shoppers that have been stopping by after we opened, this store is going to be very popular!

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Images: Biba, DLF Mall of India. Noida, Uttar Pradesh, 11 January 2016
Source: Paul Ancheta on Flickr


As 2016 rolls in

Tue, 15 Mar 2016 20:06:43 PDT


WELCOME, 2016! I'm pretty excited about this year. After working out the massive kinks of settling into India's most difficult city for a job that I truly like, I expect to finally, fully live in the present moment. One of my favorite musical groups, Swing Out Sister, has a song that resonates exactly what's on my mind for the new year:

Better use your wits or you'll lose your mind.
There's a world to discover and you're running out of time.
Life's a roller coaster ride
that took you by surprise
now you're burnin' up inside!

Make the most of what you've got
for it's better than to not have anything at all.
Take each day as it's your last
or you'll find the future's passed
and you're left with nothing at all!

The song is called "Better Make It Better". Check it out:

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2016 is here. Let's all make it better, and let's all make the better things last!


Media Files:

Pia becomes a writer

Mon, 14 Mar 2016 19:54:13 PDT


TEN YEARS ago, my niece Pia Marie Ancheta Andrade sat on an easy chair, observing things around her as a one-year-old child. Today, she sits on a writer's chair, discussing things around her as a junior columnist for the Philippine Daily Inquirer!

Pia has been chosen amongst many candidates after a rigorous wave of interviews and examinations.  As a writer for Junior Inquirer, she is expected to attend events organized by the Inquirer, as well as share her thoughts on issues that may interest the tween and teen segment of Inquirer’s readership.  Her first article was published today—and it’s on the cover page of the Junior Inquirer!

Congratulations once again, Pia! You make your parents, siblings, and the rest of us very proud.


Turning 50

Sun, 21 Jun 2015 11:58:07 PDT


JUST WHEN I finally learned how to act like a 40-year-old man, I turned 50. It actually doesn't feel any different! I'll probably have more people around me listening to stories of the endless, amazing things that I've seen and done (and will probably never see and do again), take longer naps on Sundays, dance like a fool, and really feel like an elder‒a creaking, laughable, opinionated, and boundlessly gorgeous elder on his way to being 60!


Sighted site: Mumbai’s Terminal 2 rocks!

Mon, 14 Mar 2016 20:16:41 PDT

(image) THE NEW Terminal 2 (T2) of the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai changes the way flyers experience airports. 

The terminal, which opened in January 2014, was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) and features over 7,000 pieces of antiquities and contemporary Indian art displayed on the airport’s corridors and hallways.  This is the largest public art in any airport in the world, and is a veritable showcase of Mumbai's proudly organic culture amidst a spectacular use of natural light, which the city has so much of.

T2 has got to be the best-designed airport of our generation. 


Epitaph: Sir Christopher Lee (1922-2015)

Sun, 21 Jun 2015 19:56:54 PDT


WHEN I was growing up, the mere name of Christopher Lee evoked visions of black-and-white horror scenes. He was one of the Terror Triumvirate—Vincent Price and Peter Cushing being the other two—that spooked me as a child watching television. Mr. Price had the terrifying tenor, Mr. Cushing the deathly demeanor, and Mr. Lee—well, he was Dracula, for lord's sake.

But it wasn’t just the creepy cape that he donned. In the span of a very long career, Sir Christopher wore an astonishing diversity of hats, as listed on the infographic below. He was a true Renaissance man, portraying roles of the past in reel life and playing roles ahead of his time in real life.


Mr. Lee has joined the company of Mr. Price and Mr. Cushing in the next world. The heavens must be having a blast with the three unforgettable icons of fright coming together again.


Sighted site: Kiyan

Mon, 14 Mar 2016 20:19:42 PDT


NOTHING, IN recent months, has ever, ever besieged my taste buds with an army of delightful flavors as the Kiyan has done. This fortress of culinary awesomeness at the Dusit Devarani in Delhi is on top of the hill, literally.

I had lunch at the global cuisine restaurant while attending a strategy meeting with the rest of my colleagues at Biba Apparels.  The fare was wicked, as indelible to my mind as it is to my palate. Without remorse, I thwacked four shameless heaps of those fresh salads—artichokes, feta, spinach, arugulas, slivers of honeyed greenery—before I could even attack the main course.  The beef and poultry are dressed in so many saucy, sassy colors, it was a bit painful to disarrange them on the serving plate! 

The noontime assault on this restaurant's remarkable fare is impossible to resist and impossible to not do again.  This is certainly one of India’s finest.


Seven Baha’is, seven years

Mon, 14 Mar 2016 20:22:56 PDT


SEVEN YEARS ago today, seven Baha'i leaders were unjustly imprisoned in Iran. Their 20-year sentences are the longest ever served to any prisoner of conscience in that country--a severity that is only the tip of the iceberg in what is one of the most serious cases of state-sponsored religious persecution in our time.

Seven years in prison.  It really has to stop. Now.


50 years and still # 1

Mon, 22 Jun 2015 00:57:32 PDT

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Source: Paul Ancheta on YouTube.

SIX MONTHS ago this week, Barbra Streisand created new milestones in the recording industry when the new CD Partners became her 10th Number One album. It made her the only artist to have number one albums in every decade since the 1960s . . . and that's just for starters!

I made this video to commemorate such awesome event; Miss Streisand even posted it on her own website—how cool is that? For those of you who've supported (or suffered!) my love of Barbra in all these dozens of years, well, this one's for you.


Media Files:

Quake in Nepal

Sun, 21 Jun 2015 20:20:53 PDT

IT’S DREADFUL to think that, as the earth shook beneath me here in Delhi yesterday, the trembling mountains further north were subsequently claiming innocent lives. My prayerful thoughts go the victims of this devastation in and around Nepal.


Biba’s layers

Sun, 21 Jun 2015 20:23:54 PDT


TO PARAPHRASE singer David Gates, if a picture paints a thousand words, then one minute of standing in front of a show window is worth a million thoughts. This window represents the new spring-summer range of Biba Apparels—sheer, slim, and light silhouettes to create the brand’s signature layered look for the new season.


What Lee Kuan Yew thought

Sun, 21 Jun 2015 20:25:52 PDT

FILIPINO PROFESSIONALS whom we recruited to work in Singapore are as good as our own. Indeed, their architects, artists, and musicians are more artistic and creative than ours. . . The difference lies in the culture of the Filipino people. It is a soft, forgiving culture. (Yet they) write and speak with passion. If they could get their elite to share their sentiments and act, what could they not have achieved?”

—Lee Kuan Yew (1923-2015), Singapore's founding father


Delhi’s kind of kindness

Sun, 21 Jun 2015 10:25:22 PDT

(image) YOU CAN always ask for help in Delhi . . . but don’t expect an answer.

The other night, my car broke down in the middle of the very busy, very wide, and very hot Outer Ring Road in South Delhi.  I was driving on the inner lane when the car started to sputter and eventually stop.  Jump-starting it didn't work, so I tried to get pedestrians and auto-rickshaw drivers to help me push it.  No one helped.

Elsewhere in India, particularly Mumbai and Kolkata, a kind hand is available when you need it.  Somehow, New Delhi has a different definition of kindness.  On a positive note, it's great to discover that I am still able to push a car for 300 meters to the curb ALONE since no one was willing to help. It was also lovely to hear the majestic sound of cars and trucks honking me off as I braved the car to safety. New Delhi is certainly never a boring city!


A day of freedom

Fri, 15 Aug 2014 20:13:12 PDT


INDIA CELEBRATES its 68th Independence Day today. Having lived in its capital for seven months, I am hopeful that, in the very near future, this day also celebrates freedom from socioeconomic inequity, gender crime, and racial oppression that continue to taint the fact of India as a true spiritual center.


Epitaph: Lauren Bacall (1924-2014)

Mon, 22 Jun 2015 00:57:10 PDT


SHE WAS the coolest and classiest actress I've known, with the smokiest voice, the sultriest stare, and the wittiest delivery of the most acidic lines in cinema. Reading Lauren Bacall's autobiographies gave me a lasting impression that she was a woman with the faintest ego. In fact, she once rebuffed her status as an entertainment legend, asking "Aren't legends dead?"

I first saw her onscreen with the little-seen The Fan (1981), and since then I had been beguiled with her stunning abilities to carry fashion and dialogue in the coolest manner. I often imagined what and how she would have been as my boss in fashion retail. At the 1975 and 1987 Oscar awards, she made the costume design presentation the most effortlessly fashionable thing the Academy has ever crafted. She was stately in very connecting way.

Thanks for the many years of inspiration, Ms. Bacall.

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1975 Oscar Awards, Best Costume Design
Source: YouTube.

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1987 Oscar Awards, Best Costume Design
Source: YouTube.


Media Files:

The wrath of the sun

Sun, 17 Aug 2014 08:11:31 PDT

IT'S 12 noon, and I'm stuck in horrific traffic on the mammoth flyover on Ring Road in South Delhi. The sun is spitting 45 degrees of its dry searing temperature over this concrete desert. At this height, we're above everyone else in the city. We're closer to the sun than anyone else in the city. Nothing else is moving, not even the air. The air has lost the battle of the sun. Like an overwrought donkey, my car is struggling to get fresh air in. I try to amuse my co-workers at the back of the car, feeding them nonsensical stories of an expatriate life before they all wilt away. Before we all wilt away.

Every pore of my body is like my car. It's over-heating in this open oven of a flyover. What have we done to incur the wrath of the sun?


Dust in the wind

Sun, 17 Aug 2014 07:48:25 PDT

A HUGE sandstorm hit New Delhi late this afternoon, swathing the city in layers of fallen trees―and my flat in sheets of dust. Like most of my experiences in Delhi, this is the first time I've encountered this. I was still in the office when it happened. As my office is in the basement, I can hardly see anything happening outside, so I thought it was a thunderstorm when I heard the lashing and the beating. The air was eerily calm and the skies were gray when I stepped out.

From monkeys and mosquitoes to sand and scorch, my dogs and I don't seem to run out of heart-pounding things to see (and hear) (and smell) (and swat) in this blustering city.


Monkey see

Sun, 17 Aug 2014 07:34:02 PDT


THREE MEAN-looking rhesus monkeys were standing at the hallway outside my flat when I stepped out. They were staring at me menacingly, probably waiting for me to make the first move. I didn't. I fled back inside the house and locked the door. A few minutes later, I went out and saw them still in the same location, in the same position. It took a while for them to move, and when they did, I ran downstairs for the car park.

In recent years, thousands of rhesus macaque monkeys have swarmed over urban India. In Delhi, these wild monkeys have had mean encounters with humans when they look for food, especially during the hot summer months. There have been reports of them breaking into houses; in 2007, a deputy mayor fell to his death from his terrace while trying to fend off an attack from these marauders.

However, not much has been done to permanently give these monkeys a sanctuary. Monkeys are revered by Hindus as incarnations of Hanuman, the monkey god, so culling them has not been successful. Recently, larger langur monkeys were used by trained "monkey catchers" to scare the rhesus away, but such practice has been banned by the national wildlife authorities.

Hopefully, it will be my first and last monkey encounter at home―or any other place―in Delhi. I have no business for monkey business in this troubling city.


Philippine cinema at its meanest

Mon, 22 Jun 2015 01:05:19 PDT

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I slap your face, you slap mine
Source: Paul Ancheta on YouTube.

THE GREAT accomplishment of Philippine cinema in the late twentieth century was creating legendary rivalries between actors and actresses. It spawned big fan groups that safeguarded box-office success, and ensured that every performance was always better than the other's. Directors and screenwriters gave these performers dramatic confrontation scenes punctuated by the most memorable lines, slugfests or slapfests ever.

It was rare for rivals to appear together in a film. If they did, the results could be epic. Ina, Kapatid, Anak (Mother, Sister, Daughter) (1979) and T-Bird At Ako (The Lesbian and I) (1982) were two such films. They starred four of the greatest Filipino actresses who ever lived: Lolita Rodriguez and the late Charito Solis in the former, Vilma Santos and Nora Aunor in the latter. I put together the most sensational confrontation scenes from those movies to show you what happens when thespian rivalry is put to a test. You get truly compelling performance and dialog . . . along with acid tongues, dagger eyes, and hard slaps.


Media Files:

Bug off, bugs!

Sun, 17 Aug 2014 05:41:53 PDT


HERE'S ONE more incredible discovery about New Delhi: it's a city of mosquitoes. The city's heat seems to be an aphrodisiac for these blood-suckers, as they draw energy from external heat and spends the next three to seven days completing the egg-to-adult life cycle. That's a week for them to turn from babies to vampires. In South Delhi, especially in farmhouse-dotted Mehrauli where I live, the trees are not going to be helpful either as they provide convenient breeding ground. These totally annoying flyers are so professional, no amount of Baygons or mosquito repellents kill them. I can beat Delhi's heat, but I don't think anyone can easily beat these bugs. What a pest!