Powers of darkness
Skulls, bones, incantations, spells, magical powders, chicken, lime… These are ingredients for magic with a sinister connotation. Something lies just beyond that closed door, beyond the physical world we know, understand and live in.
In each society and civilisation, feared and revered, shamans, priests, tantriks and witches have all claimed contact to the spirit world. Good they might do, but in essence, black magic has been a tale of practicing evil – an apparent reflection of the dark side that lurks within each human being. You might want to cast a spell on a lover, or ruin a rival’s business, or settle scores.
Sounderajan Swamigal of Chennai has been practicing Siddhi since he was eight. He reveals that one simply has to take the name of the rival, repeat his/her parents’ names and the date of birth and say what he wants to do to the person. Siddhas like him perform certain rituals to make the wish come true.
“Siddhis are intrinsic powers. The intentions are different for practicing Siddhi and black magic. The power that is worshipped is the same. When you offer milk, fruits, flowers and coconut to God and worship with devotion, it gets converted into positive prayer. When you worship the same God with liquor, fish and meat and with the intention of doing harm to someone, the power gets converted to negative energy,” Sounderajan says.
Which brings us to the distinction between Tantra and black magic. Delhi-based astrologer Pandit S.P. Tata says, “Tantra comes from the words Tanoti Trayate, which mean to expand our inner consciousness and bring about liberation and oneness with God. Just as there are certain decibels beyond our audible range, there are powers that only the spiritually evolved can perceive. Such people can easily learn about the future, cure illness, bless the childless with children etc.”
Where there are believers, there are also skeptics.
Sanal Edamaruku, president, Indian Rationalist organisation, dismisses all religious beliefs as baseless superstitions that exploit gullible people. He says, “It is not just simple villagers who give credence to black magic. Urban educated people do too. Turning to black magicians doesn’t get you out of the situation but you get more deeply entangled.”
Which actually sounds innocuous when compared to news reports of horrifying crimes in the name of witchcraft like ‘teacher sacrifices teen girl for son’, ‘a villager beheads and carries around the severed head of an elderly woman whom he believed to be a witch, little children killed in abstruse rites’ – these incidents justify Sanal’s concerns.
He has quite a task ahead of him, as believers in sorcery are from pretty much everywhere. For instance, Shahid Afridi shocked some, when he confided to a close few that his poor performance on field is due to a black magic spell.
Film choreographer Saroj Khan told a Mumbai-based tabloid a few years ago that her family was reeling under the effects of black magic. “someone has done some jadu tona on me as a result of which I am undergoing problems,” Saroj reportedly said then. When asked now, she did a volte-face. “Where did you hear this story? I have never suffered due to black magic, neither do I believe in it.”
The deep sway that sorcery holds on people is often reflected in films. Ram Gopal Varma’s latest film, Phoonk is based on black magic.
Says Varma, “I am not a staunch believer in God. But a few incidents occurred around me that compelled me to seek explanations. A few years ago, we had a guest with a kid. My mom and sister told me that this kid has been empowered with the force of some baba and whatever he writes happens to be correct. I do not believe in any such powers but others do. Being a storyteller I am attracted to this subject.”
Students of the occult have complicated rituals that have to be religiously practiced for years before they can lay any claim to success. Tantriks worship Shiva and Shakti, with specific rules for abstinence, offerings, mantras and homams. Says Pandit Tata, “Shiva as Dakshinamurthy was the original tantrik, and Sri Chakra is the king of tantra. Patanjali’s Yog Shastras, Atharvaveda and many other ancient scriptures contain details of tantrik worship, which are meant to be positive.”
Kerala actually has a school that teaches Tantra, the only one of its kind. The state is also home to the belief in Kutty Chatan – a demi-god who is often turned to for malignant intents. Krishna Kumar is the head of a family near Calicut that has worshipped the deity for generations. Firmly asserting that they have never entertained any malicious requests, Krishna says, “Kutty Chatan is like a family God and is actually a manifestation of Durga Devi. Sage Parasurama gave the mantra to my ancestors, and we are one of the few families of Kerala worshipping him ritually.”
The mantra is given only to male members of this vegetarian Brahmin Namboodri family. “We chant it everyday and should have the will power to withstand the power. People come to us with a lot of requests for success in business, marriage, children and lawsuits. However, the family’s motto is to use the power only for good.”
All believers of voodoo, witchcraft, tantra, straddle the grey areas between good and evil, the physical and metaphysical, the living and the dead. They worship Satan, Kali, Hanuman, Durga, djinns and spirits of the dead. Startling similarities, in fact, can be found between what a tribal in Ghana might do and what an amil might do in a remote village in Pakistan. Each would use body fluids, hair or nails of the one to be harmed, make a rough doll using dough and straws to depict him or her, and chant incantations. The victim would often have no clue of the cause behind a sudden turn in his/her fate.
A housewife in Kolkata recounts such a tale. “I was 12 when a man fell in love with my sister. He resorted to black magic when she didn’t reciprocate.” Unwilling to be named, the lady adds, “I tasted the tainted food by mistake and then I had marks like blade cuts appearing on my body. My clothes would develop burns and tear on their own. We called a priest for help and the evil power threatened him too. Finally he was able to overpower the evil after all night prayers.”
Practices are bizarre, often macabre. It is not a faith for the faint. The Aghoris of Varanasi, for instance, are an ultra-secretive cult that eats half-burnt corpses from cremation grounds, in the belief that it will grant them longevity and supernatural powers. They lead lives not too different from the cavemen, for whom every sunrise and starlit night was a mystery fraught with danger.
Though we have unraveled most of what perplexed these cavemen, there are certain things that are meant to remain at the periphery of our perception. Perhaps it is just as well, for these are darknesses that we cannot fathom.
Are you a Victim?
Watch out for these symptoms
*ῠYou display a changed personality. * You feel depressed, angry and irritable. * Memory loss and temporary blackouts. * You dream of dead bodies, snakes and people who want to harm you. * You experience sudden chills, goose bumps and fatigue. *l Relationships suffer.
Spirit activities are believed to increase 2-3 days before the dark moon nights and the full moon nights. Check if your condition worsens then.
In tune with almighty
According to Indian philosophy, all art forms are somehow related with spirituality or have a connection with the Supreme. Legend says that music has an age-old association with all the established religions of the world, and for eons it has been looked upon as a tool to bridge the gap between deities and their devoted disciples.
So, can music really bring one closer to God? If so, then why isn’t everybody using it as an instrument to connect with the divine? Is playing a musical instrument or listening to one’s desired music enough to experience the Supreme, or is there a “rigid” process that one needs to follow to accomplish that goal? These are a few questions that pop up every time one talks about experiencing divinity through music. Elucidates Swami Ullasa from the Isha Foundation, “Yes, music can get one closer to a higher consciousness. We can use sound as a medium to create a meditative state of mind, it is the science of mantras and vibration. Satguru defines this whole existence as nadha brahma (meaning sound), which Einstein termed as energy through which one can experience a greater power within oneself.”
So, is there a definite process to utilise sound for higher consciousness? “There is definitely a process (might not be a rigid one) to attain nirvana through music. In terms of Indian classical music’s tradition, first of all you need to have a guru to help you attain that state. You can learn the mantras by yourself, but only a guru can transfer the right energy to you, and this applies to all the art forms, when learning is concerned,” says Sangeet Natak Academy awardee, santoor player Abhay Rustam Sopori.
Flipping through the pages of history, one will find that right from the days of the Sama Veda, music in the form of hymns and chants have been sung to please religious deities, and are considered sacred. Much has been written on the musical Riks of Sama Veda, and how music itself can bring forth the blessing that rites and rituals intend to bestow on one. Similarly, Sufi saints from time immemorial have been advocating for music as the ultimate medium to feel closer to the Almighty. So, is there a particular genre of music through which one can experience God? Answers Swamijii, “It can be any genre of music. One has to be open and receptive to experience the divine. In simple terms it is about one’s limit of involvement.”
Unlike musicians in other parts of the world, here many consider religion synonymous with music. One will find many Indian classical maestros referring to their gurus as God, and music as meditation. Sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar was once quoted as saying, “In our culture we have so much of respect for musical instruments that they are like parts of God.” So, is Indian classical music the only genre through which one can attain religious wisdom? Answers Abhay, “In my opinion, I would say it’s about individual choice. Being a classical musician, I think Indian classical music is very meditative in nature. It has a kind of crescendo that can elevate the listener to a divine level, and help him feel delighted. However, it will vary from person to person depending on what kind of musical genre he thinks can offer him the right ambience and space to attain religious wisdom.” Swami Ullasa, however, gave an alternative view saying, “There are many different genres of music through which one can experience a divine level, but unlike other cultures, in India classical music is used as something more than just mere entertainment. It is more of a spiritual tool, its sound and vibrations are scientifically articulated and this makes it a meditative medium.”
If you know how to live a moment you can plan your life
The problem with the mind is, it starts living in the future. It starts thinking of beautiful golden days that are coming. That is not planning; it is daydreaming. I can understand planning, but remember, planning for the future is not equivalent to living in the future. Planning is a present moment activity. And the more you are present, the more you have clarity and transparency. Mind cannot exist in the present and when there is no mind there is clarity, and with this clarity you can see into the future; then something of immense importance will happen to you.
Postponing living, in the name of planning
You should live, not postpone. You should live the moment and while you are living the moment, you can visualise. It is not mental activity. You can visualise a better moment that is coming to you. You have lived this moment, you know you can go even deeper, you know you can rejoice more. And when the next moment is coming you immediately go deeper into it, more rejoicing, more playful.
And you have only one moment at a time. So if you know how to live one moment you can plan your whole life in that very living. But there is no need to plan for it, because in planning you will forget to live.
Live the future through the present
To the man who lives spontaneously two things happen: one, he never postpones; second, his future is lived through his present, through his experience of the present. Then planning is not a mind activity, but an expansion of consciousness, an understanding of life that goes on deepening every day more and more. And the deeper you are, the more beautiful, more human, more fulfilled will be your actions.
Your mind wants to know where the wind is blowing, because your mind has its own plans against existence. It wants the winds to blow towards the west and they are blowing towards the east. Then the mind is frustrated.
Be spontaneous like the weather vane
The man who is spontaneous, just like the weather vane – the weather vane never worries whether the wind is blowing south or north or east or west – wherever the wind is blowing the weather vane simply turns towards that side. It shows in what direction the wind is blowing. It has no resistance. It is absolutely free to move in any direction. It does not fight with the wind. It is absolutely spontaneous and never lives in the past, nor in the future. It simply represents the present.
Courtesy Osho International Foundation/www.osho.com
Tales of men and ghosts
By Veenu Sandal
The arguments of ghost critics and skeptics and the beliefs and activities of ghost believers and ghost-hunters were categorised in the last column. There are other groups too such as those who have an open mind about the existence or non-existence of ghosts. The starting point for this group seems to be the innumerable ghost stories that have been published down the years and told by word of mouth – surely they can’t all be fiction. Then there is the group of die-hard ghost believers who were once die-hard critics or skeptics and were converted by actual, first hand encounters with ghosts or ghostly happenings at haunted places or other very personal paranormal experiences. Most accounts of this last group appear to have enough substance to provide meaty answers to many of the questions raised by ghost critics and skeptics. The case of Ann Walker, for instance, is well-known, and I have written about it several times before, but since it is a documented case and most interesting, it is always worth repeating for new readers. It seems that late one night in 1681, a miller, James Graeme, of County Durham, England, was accosted by the hideous ghost of a young woman. She was drenched with blood and had five open wounds on her head. She told Graeme that her name was Anne Walker and that she had been murdered, with a pick axe, by one Mark Sharp acting on instruction from a relative of hers, also named Walker, by whom she was pregnant. She made it clear to Graeme that unless he gave the information to the local magistrate she would continue to haunt him.
Refusing to believe what he had experienced, Graeme did nothing. But after the apparition appeared, pleaded and threatened twice more, he went to the authorities with the grisly story. A pit identified by the ghost was searched, and Anne Walker’s body was found. Sharp and Walker were arrested, tried, found guilty and hanged. Anne’s spirit, thus avenged, did not appear again.
Then there is the case of the Ghost Bus (Frank Smyth, Ghosts and Poltergeists, p.60). “I was turning the corner and saw a bus tearing towards me,” the motorist testified before the police. “The lights of the top and bottom deck, and the headlights were full on but I could see no sign of crew or passengers. I yanked my steering wheel hard over, and mounted the pavement (sidewalk), scraping the roadside wall. The bus just vanished.” The motorist who made the report to the local authorities in North Kensington, London, in the mid 1930s may have been drunk, hallucinating, or dreaming at the wheel when he had the accident. But if he was, so were hundreds of other motorists who complained of being forced off the road by a phantom bus careening round the corner from St. Mark’s Road into Cambridge Gardens, near the Ladbroke Grove underground station. After one fatal accident, the local coroner took evidence of the apparition and discovered that dozens of local residents claimed to have seen the spectral double-decker.
In fact, there had been many ordinary accidents several of them fatal, at the notorious junction. Eventually the local council straightened the road there, and the accident rate was greatly reduced. Thereafter there were no more reports of the ghostly red bus.
There are other similar cases on record and in my travels into the interiors of India, I have been told about many instances when justice was dispensed due to the intervention or revelations made by a spirit. In several cases, panchayats, unaware of a crime, were made aware of it by the spirit of the person who had suffered, and taking note of the spirit’s testimony, carried out investigations on their own and were able to nail the culprits. In all such cases, the disclosures were made voluntarily by the spirits concerned.
To be continued
‘Failure brought me closer to God’
Maine apne irradon ke tootne se allah ko pehchana.” These words are the inspiration of my life. They taught me how to live with acceptance of things around me. And I have lived each word of this quote over the years. It all goes back to those days in 1987 when I started making Rumi.
The film was my dream, it still is. It all seemed so easy back then. I invested all that I could in the movie. Be it infrastructure, funds, music, craftsmanship, technicians and all that it takes to make an excellent film. We had to complete the movie in four sequences, two of which were already shot. The government supported us and everything was available for the movie’s release until 1989.
When we started shooting the other two sequences during that year only, serious problems clouded over Kashmir. The destiny of Kashmir changed, so did the fate of my movie. The government withdrew its support because of the conditions in Kashmir, and my life changed. It didn’t take me away from God, but brought me closer to him. I started believing in destiny.
It felt like everything you plan is not bound to result as you charted it. Suddenly, in that year, everything came crumbling down to pieces. Only a filmmaker would realise the pain. It was more than shattering for me. It felt as if in a fraction of seconds, life turned the other way round. All the support, by the government, and various other areas vanished. No one encouraged the idea of the movie anymore, just when we were half way through.
I have been very attached to Kashmir. I always found God in the silent beauty of the place and wanted to bring forward its plight in front of the world. I still believe that if the movie had been successfully completed, it would have created history in the Indian film industry. With each failure in my life, I came closer to God. I feel whatever God does, it’s always for the betterment of mankind. Even though the failure of not completing Rumi defeated me in a big way, it wasn’t the end. God gave me the courage to move on. This incident brought me close to Sufism and I feel blessed.
My tattoo is a mark of commitment
I DON’T believe love happens only once, you can fall in love more than once. It’s because as you grow, love means different things to you as a person. It’s not the same fluffy idea of romance that you once had as a 16-year-old when you grow up. The intensity of your love may vary, but you cherish all your loves equally because they mean a lot to you.
The idea is not to give up on love; no matter what stage of life you are in, and how many unsuccessful relationships you have been in. You never know when love can knock on your door again. And yes, I am talking from my experience because I found love with Bebo when I was least expecting it to happen. The funny thing is, I have worked with her in the past, but we never saw each other from a romantic point of view. So it hit me like a bolt from the unknown but I must admit, it’s been a pleasant surprise.
The sign of a good relationship is that it brings out the best in you, something that you probably don’t even know existed in you. Kareena is way too mature beyond her age, contrary to popular belief and perception. What’s great about her is that she constantly keeps me on my toes. There is not a single dull moment when Bebo’s around, she’s extremely motivating and pushes me to work harder. I think it’s her ambitious nature that is rubbing off on me now, because I have been guilty of being laidback in the past. But Bebo always wants the best and that sort of inspires me to give everything my best too. I always wanted to start my production company and grow in that respect, but Kareena, I have to admit, has been the charging force behind to an extent.
We’ve not had it easy in the initial phase of our relationship because of the constant speculation around us, and Bebo was very affected in that period. But we had to make peace with the fact that it’s a part of our profession and it has not only made us stronger but brought us closer. You know when you are facing a trial right at the onset, the rest seems like a cakewalk. Touchwood, it’s been smooth sailing and I have to really be grateful to have someone like Bebo in my life – she is very understanding and not overtly worried about my past.
We understand that we need to give each other space and take our individual needs into consideration. Bebo is at the peak of her career and things are only getting better for her. In such a scenario I only have to be supportive of her. We are very clear that we won’t let out professional and personal lives come together and she doesn’t have to be a part of all my productions. She doesn’t expect to or have time for them either.
There are no insecurities, professional or personal between us and we’d rather keep it that way. The only issue is, since we spend so much time apart shooting in different parts of the world, it becomes imperative that we make adjustments and take time off to be with each other. We have successfully managed that so far. And there’s no need to rush things. We aren’t thinking about marriage, but there is a sense of commitment from our sides.
Getting my tattoo was entirely my decision, and in a way it’s a mark of commitment, it’s something I wanted to do. But honestly, I don’t expect Bebo to do the same, because firstly I am aware of her feelings for me and I don’t want to be burdened with expectations because they can be spokes in the wheel. And why would I want that when it’s all smooth sailing now?
The big Brazilian adventure
Sitting in sociology class, I was wishing I could just meld into the furniture as the professor continued his lecture on Henry Ford (which isn’t the least bit interesting when it’s in Portuguese!). Just then the office secretary of my school, Col
gio Londrinense, walked in with the results of the Vestibular. The Vestibular is a test that every Brazilian has to take to get into college. This test is extremely difficult and passing it means you get to go to a public university, which is much better and free – the private ones are not as good and are also very expensive. The number of seats being extremely limited, it is considered great if one passes the Vestibular.
As the students waited with eager anticipation, it turned out that there was one lucky boy this time – Philippe. Only one from our class of 80. Exams and results are almost a part of everyday life for us Indian students, and success is celebrated by distributing sweets, or a party with close friends. But that is not enough when it comes to the Vestibular. Passing not only means a huge party to which probably your whole class, family and neighbourhood will have to be invited, but also a custom, the Trote – that I would never imagine to be a form of celebration – began in class.
Seeing my shocked expression, my classmates Luana and Guilhereme, explained what was happening. The Trote is a custom where if you are a guy who has been accepted at a public university, then your friends, as a sign of congratulations (a bit of jealousy at your good luck, I guess) get to shave your head there and then – wherever you may be at the time of your result.
They even go to the extent of autographing your scalp and creating artworks on your head. The girls though are spared such similar gestures of “affection”.
The next 20 minutes were total chaos. Poor Philippe’s head was being shaved by his friends in the worst possible fashion. The whole class was in splits. As for myself, I was speechless. We would never dream of doing that to someone in India if we wanted to be on speaking terms with that person ever again.
After all the noise had died down and everyone had returned to their places (and the “lucky boy” had disappeared into the men’s room), I looked up to see the professor was still very engrossed in giving his lecture to the few first-benchers who had not been able to escape into the madness behind. Had something like this taken place during a lecture back home, the professor would immediately stop his lecture and call for disciplinary action against the students. Or he would probably also have a seizure!
But this is Brazil. And as every Brazilian believes, a little “fun” never killed anybody.
I smiled – this is one sociology class I would never forget!
Suddenly single? Stages of overcoming a breakup
Litres of champagne, boxes of Lindt Chocolate and many a one night stand have been had in trying to overcome a break up. And no matter how many times people may tell you that “everything happens for a reason”, or that “there’s someone infinitely better around the corner” or that “you’ll meet someone else when you least expect it” (does this ever truly happen?), breaking up is never easy.
No matter how bad or toxic the union had become and no matter how much gumption it took to finally make the break, the prospect of never again being able to sleep with, speak to or confide in the other person is a gigantic shock to the system.
Ask someone that’s recently been separated or divorced and with gentle exasperation, they’ll tell you they’re “doing fine”, when you know all too well that underneath their facade, they’re crying out like an injured animal desperate to get back to their matrimonial cave quickly.
By the reckoning of authors Marni Kamins and Janice MacLeod of The Breakup Repair Kit (Canari Press), there are eight stages of a breakup which can affect the newly single. The authors also dictate that in order to move on from the whole ordeal and come out alive on the other side without too much baggage or resentment we need to let the stages simply run their course instead of battling against their elements.
So with the rising divorce rates, the prevalence of affairs and the toxic break ups abound, we proffer up to you the eight stages of a break up in hope you can identify what’s coming, where you’re at and know that you’re not alone but that if you ride it through, you will survive.
Stage 1: Shock: “Did this really happen?” Aside from the inevitable question of what the heck you’re going to do on Saturday night, let alone how you’re going to find a date to your cousin’s wedding or work out who is going to share the rent, the realisation that you’re alone again and have to traipse the single’s scene is enough to send anyone running for the Britney Spears’ loony bin. Thus instead of focusing on what was, why not go for what I like to call a jubilant “breakover”? It’s a makeover most common after a break up that sees a change in your hair colour (red signals you’re having a vibrant new sex life while blonde declares you’re out to have more fun); hit the gym and tone up (with a very real prospect of meeting your future soulmate on the treadmill) and treat yourself to an entire new wardrobe. Your new mantra? “Hello world, I’m back!”
Stage 2: Denial: “They still love me, right?” After the initial shock wears down and you’ve realised your breakover isn’t getting as noticed as you’d have liked, your head will start denying the break up. You start to torture yourself over what went wrong, conning yourself into believing that things can be resurrected if only you put in a little more effort and encouraging you to stalking your ex just in case they catch a glimpse of you and decide they’ve made the biggest mistake of their lives. In this stage, make sure to always wear dark glasses and a baseball cap when you’re out in public.
Stage 3: Fooling yourself: “I’m okay to be alone…, I think?” Just when you think you’re doing fine with the break up, authors Kamins and MacLeod tell us that our mind is actually playing tricks on us. In fact we’re not fine at all, but rather we’re numbing out the pain of losing the love of our lives. Apparently during this stage, a good long nap is the best remedy. Stage 4: Depression: “I’ll never meet anyone again” These are the first thoughts that will pop into your head during the stage of fear. Fear that you’ll wind up an old maid with a house filled with cats and a life of meaningless sex fills your mind as you go on one failed date after another.
Stage 5: Resentment: “Screw them!” Fears are suddenly transformed into anger as you blame your ex for everything from your weight gain to crappy job to not allowing you to follow your goals. Now is a good time to change your life around without having anyone to blame on the way.
Stage 6: Depression: “I want the world to swallow me whole” Sadness seeps in and suddenly you find yourself in a deep black hole that is only threatening to swallow you up with each day that passes. Keep a tub of ice cream on tap and go easy on the vodka. Drunken phone callsῠ to your ex aren’t going to bring them back.
Stage 7: Understanding: “Okay, so maybe I am better of without them” Finally you’re out of the black hole and into the zone of understanding that certain people come into your life at certain times to teach you important lessons and then it’s time to move on.
Stage 8: Regaining confidence: “I’m single and fabulous” Now you’re ready to accept the fact they weren’t “the one”, that there are other fish in the sea and that the world is your oyster filled with eligible singles all desperate to meet you. Get out there and start dating again and show the world how fabulous you are.
The writer is an author, columnist & dating expert (You can mail your responses toῠ firstname.lastname@example.org)
Nurturing my soul
By Ayush Maheshwari
In my last article I shared with you my own experience of how I was sexually abused as a child. It has been a tough rollercoaster ride since then.
I didn’t even realise I was being abused till my late teens. I knew something was going on but wasn’t sure what it was. Often the pain and damage follows later. When I was around 18 I started to realise that something in my life had really affected my self esteem. I was always willing to please, always checking if what I did was ‘good enough’, trying to get affirmation all the time.
A couple of years later I went to the US to study. A lot of my realisation happened during my college days. My first reaction was that I was wronged and that I am responsible for it. I hated myself for a long time. The question which kept coming to my mind was why did I allow myself to be victimised. I went through several relationships at that time and they were all very unstable. I would constantly doubt the guys I would date. I would always try to make sure that they ‘loved me’. This put way too much pressure on the relationships. I wanted to get to the root of the problem.
After doing a lot of research and reading on this issue I realised I have to ‘make a conscious decision’ to heal myself. I convinced myself to stop holding myself responsible for what had happened and stop referring to myself as a ‘victim’. My mom is a very understanding, unconditional supporter. I am very grateful to her for actually listening to me without asking too many questions and most importantly not judging me. It was tough for her too.
Also, I started to talk to a professional therapist. This was very difficult as well. You sit there in front of this third party and suddenly you have to talk to them without holding anything back. It took multiple sessions for me to actually get comfortable to even begin talking about it. However I knew it would help me and hence I kept going back. There were sessions where I would just stare at the wall and cry. Gradually I started talking to my therapist. Each session was like another step closer to a ‘stronger’ mind. Along with this I started a journey of falling in love with myself, to tell myself I am worthy of being loved, to tell myself I am thankful for the life I have.
Nothing changes over night. After years of adopting these techniques I feel I am at a much better place than I used to be. My professional and personal achievements reflect that. There are times when I feel upset and angry. It’s very human. But what is more human is to actually turn those negative thoughts into positive actions of nourishment.
You can email your experiences to email@example.com
A guide to what’s new in the audio, video world
By Naresh Sadhwani and Deepak Jhangiani
Enabling, interacting and engaging the viewer is the name of the new game and the DTH channels are not far behind in introducing newer and more innovative services for their subscribers. Yes, the TV invades the most sacred and private spheres of your life, marriage.
Matrimonial services which were earlier the secured domain of pandits and community matchmakers soon became public domain by websites offering partner details in alluring colour. Some even introduced interactive chat platforms for prospective partners. Now coming to your comfortable sofas is this same service courtesy the two DTH providers, the Zee DISH TV and the Tata Sky Ltd DTH platforms.
DishTV is launching the interactive Shaadi Active in association with the matrimonial portal Shaadi.com. The new service boasts of a large inventory of profiles which can be viewed on your TV screens. There is even a search mechanism in place by which the subscriber can define the parameters of selection and search by the criteria of age, community, caste, profession and complexion. The trials are on and the service will soon be on air. Following suit is the Tata-Sky platform with their Active Matrimony launched in association with Bharatmatrimony.com. This service is expected to feature 1,000 new matrimonial listings every week and can be accessed on a 24×7 basis.
Questions of the week
What is the difference between a CD burner and CD writer?
Both are related phrases and both refer to a CD recorder. The CD recorder can record data on to your CD disc if the data recorded is a sound file. You can playback the recorded sound when played on your CD player. So also if it is a video file you can view the picture when played on your VCD player and if it is a data file you can read the data.
In the recording process the data is actually etched on to the disc with a laser. Hence the nomenclature of burner. Presently the term used for the same is CD writer. However, today the CD writer is practically obsolete and replaced by DVD writer, which can record both CDs and DVDs and are termed DVD writers.
Though I have recorded songs on my digital audio player it displays a message “no data” and I am unable to playback my music. What could be the problem?
All the digital players are software driven, and have to be formatted before you can use them. At times the software gets corrupted and players start malfunctioning.
If you reload the software, your problem could be solved. Use the Driver CD which comes along with the original package and reload the CD on to your player and your problem may be solved. Most digital equipment like cameras, printers come with their specifics driver CDs. It is always advisable to preserve these CDs since they are very useful when the software of your digital device gets corrupt and when you need to reload the software.
Readers are invited to email their queries/suggestions/comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Animation industry gains steam
After the BPO, the Indian animation industry is going global as overseas giants like Cartoon Network, Warner Brothers and Turner Entertainment Network are flocking the country for budget-friendly, but world-class services. According to Nasscom reports, the country’s Rs 1,200 crore animation industry is set to grow to Rs 4,200 crore by 2009 with its revenues projected to double up to almost $1.5 billion by 2010. The industry is riding on two factors: low cost of production and talented labour. For example, the total cost for making a full-length animated film in the US is estimated to be $100 million to $175 million whereas in India, it is $15 million to $25 million.
According to Vineet Bakshi, head of graphics, News X, “The future is bright for the country’s animation industry. Apart from the cheap services, the talent that India offers interests the international firms. The advantage also lies in the fact that the country has specialised professionals for specific branches of animation.” As of today, the country has about 200 animation centres, 40 VFX and 35 game development studios and more workstations are expected to come up to make the best possible use of the potential that the industry has.
Filmmaker Ketan Mehta, who is at the helm of the Maya Academy of Animation Cinematics (MAAC), Mumbai, agrees that in spite of being in its infancy, the industry is growing tremendously. “India is taking a fast stride though the animation industry which is only about a decade old. Apart from producing an independent film, we at MAAC have several international projects in hand. We are also providing services to international television channels like BBC,” informs Mehta. Even Bollywood is quickly adopting the animation fad. The industry was recognised as a full-fledged genre after the first animation blockbuster Hanuman of Percept Picture Company and Sahara One. Encouraged by its huge success the company is geared for another epic titled Hanuman 2. The success of the animation movies has even lured the “masters of melodrama” Yash Raj Films to take up the international venture. Their much-awaited Roadside Romeo, produced in collaboration with Walt Disney is set for release in October. “Yash Raj has a first-of-its kind tie-up with Walt Disney to produce one animation film a year of which Roadside Romeo is the first one,” said a spokesperson of the Yash Raj Films. The film will feature the voices of Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor, and is expected to be released in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. Since animation seems to be the order of the day, the superstar of South, Rajnikant’s big budget Sultan the Warrior, is being produced in collaboration with Adlabs. According to industry insiders, about other 80-90 animation releases are set for the next year.
“And as a career option, even those kids who have grown watching animations are taking it up as a serious profession. Going by the rate with which the industry is expanding, India will need 25,000 more professionals by the close of next year. The industry currently has only a little over 10,000 professionals working in this techno-creative field. Many aspirants are attracted towards it for the creative freedom that the industry offers,” says Mehta.
An extra affirmative change that the industry has witnessed is that several leading Indian animators working abroad have shifted their base back home. For instance, Chetan Deshmukh, who worked as an animator and special effect expert for the Hollywood films Chicago and Shanghai Knights, shifted from the US to Pune. Jesh Krishnamurthy, after working for 13 years with several leading animation companies abroad, returned to India to float his own company.
UK-based Turner Entertainment Network tied up with three Indian production houses – Miditech, Graphiti Multimedia and Famous Studios to produce local CG animated feature films and television series.
Walt Disney Studios collaborated with Yash Raj Films to produce a film annually.
Pritish Nandy Communications (PNC) has stuck a Rs 180 crore ($45 million) deal with DQ Entertainment (DQE), one of the world’s leading animation and gaming production companies, to co-develop and co-produce six animation movies over the next three to four years.
PNC had also signed a five-movie deal with Motion Pixel Corporation (MPC), a Florida-based animation company that has its animation studios, Estudio Flex, in Costa Rica.
MTV has added India to its outsourcing hub.
Love is spontaneous but one must maintain it
Kapoor scion Ranbir is getting into the sway of things in Bollywood with a bagful of films and a gorgeous girlfriend, Deepika Padukone, by his side. So how has the journey been so far?
“I’m confident but at the same time there is a little anxiety. It can get scary too because the expectations are so high, and if I fail, the fall will hurt even more. I am working very hard, hoping that people will appreciate my films. Give me a chance and not compare me to anyone, treat me as an individual. I have not tried to copy or mimic anyone so far. I am still learning,” says Ranbir.
Both his films, Saawariya and Bachna Ae Haseeno, have portrayed Ranbir as a romantic hero. Even his parents, Rishi Kapoor and Neetu, thrived on the image of a romantic pair in their heydays, but Ranbir doesn’t want to get typecast yet. “I do not want to stick to a particular genre. I am 25 years old and want to pick the best of whatever comes my way and suits my age. My parents were youth icons in their prime. They were very spontaneous actors and developed their own style. In today’s times, there are many successful romantic pairs. I am just two films old, it is too early for me to decide what kind of films I will be comfortable doing since I neither have the time nor inclination to sit down and analyse. However, I must say I am a great Rishi Kapoor fan. I would love to share some screen space with him,” he says.
Bachna Ae Haseeno is the first film that Ranbir and Deepika have done together, and is obviously special. “This film is special to both of us. Deepika and I fell in love during the shooting of the film in Sydney. We had a great time shooting together, away from the madding crowd. We got to know each other very well. It’s also the second film for both of us. I was a little nervous in the beginning because Deepika was already a big star thanks to the box office success of Om Shanti Om. But she was very helpful, supportive and made me comfortable,” he says, praising his lady love.
What’s his take on relationships in today’s scenario?
“I am part of today’s generation. I have also been in relationships; some of which worked, some did not. You just cannot forget them. They are a part of your life, and memories often linger in your heart. I value every relationship that I have had in the past. For me love is spontaneous – it just happens in a moment but one has to maintain it. You have to work hard towards building the relationship. You cannot take it for granted. You have to give a lot and adjust a lot too to maintain it,” he says.
His debut venture Saawariya may not have been a success but Ranbir begs to differ. “Saawariya will always be a special film. I owe my existence in the film industry to that movie. Besides, every film is a challenge. All actors want their films to do well. Today, if I am being offered great roles and big banners, it is because of Saawariya,” he says.
Ranbir’s interest in cinema is not restricted to just being in front of the camera. “I take a keen interest in the recording, the costumes and the sets. I like to get involved right from the beginning. It is a great experience. I would recommend that every budding artiste should work on the sets,” says the actor who wants to revive his family’s banner, RK Films.
“We are working on scripts for the time being. If something interesting turns up we will definitely make a film. Right now I am looking forward to some great films ahead. There’s Rajneeti with Prakash Jha, Karan Johar’s next tentatively titled Wake Up Sid, Rajkumar Santoshi’s Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani for which I have already started shooting, Shimit Amin’s Rocket Singh, Sajid Nadiadwala’s next to be directed by Siddharth Anand along with Saif Ali Khan and Vikramjit Singh’s Mera Jahan,” he rattles off.
Ash livid with Bipasha
Bipasha Basu is a self-proclaimed Katrina foe, but in a bizarre twist Aishwarya Bachchan is seething with rage towards Bipasha, giving her something in common with Kats after Salman. Bollywood being a small world, friends and foes switch sides before you bat your eye and the same happened to Ash, who considered Bips a friend after working with her in Dhoom 2.
But recently, while trying to justify her age difference with Ranbir Kapoor for Bachna Ae Haseeno, Bipasha dragged Abhi-Ash into the picture commenting on the age difference between them. Bipasha should have known that if she didn’t take too kindly to being referred to as the older woman, neither would Ash. Sitting far away in the US of A, for her Unforgettable Tour, Ash was livid when she was told that her name was being unnecessarily dragged by Bipasha into the picture. What makes matters worse is that Bips is a friend of Abhishek and he’s the one trying to keep Ash calm on the matter.ῠ And knowing the non-confronting Ash nature we aren’t surprised that she’s keeping mum but be ready for the famous Scorpion sting sooner or later Bips.
Kareena to sell designer brands
Kareena Kapoor is busy looking for a space in Mumbai to open her dream designer boutique, something she’s been aspiring to do for a while now. Mom Babita and sis Karisma have been supportive of her dream and in fact it’s Karisma who has been meeting with realtors to look for a spacious pad for the store. Bebo as usual wants everything done in style and is aiming at bringing some of the high end luxury brands to India. Although there’s been an onslaught of foreign designer brands making it to Indian shores, the high range products have still eluded our subcontinent, and Kareena is hoping to set things straight. She’s been having meetings with agents of various fashion houses as she is in LA shooting for her next film. She has asked for services of her designer friend Manish Malhotra to source products that will cater to the jet setting clientele of South Mumbai and Manish himself will be making some exclusive designs for the Kapoor kudi. From movies to fashion, Kareena does things in style.
Yes, the awards are a sham
By Vikram Bhatt
It’s a beautiful evening in the cold months of the beginning of the year and the whole film fraternity has gathered in their evening best. There will be performances by the who is who of tinsel town on stage. There will be media and razzmatazz but most of all there will be hopes and dreams. There will be the hope that since you are one of the nominees your name will be hidden in an envelope ready to be announced on the stage. The spotlight will fall on you. There will be a thundering applause. You will walk up on stage and another star will hand over a statue to you. Then you will get the chance to read the speech that you have been saying to yourself in the loneliness of your dreams a million times. The moment comes the envelope opens and the award goes to someone else!
You are devastated. You realise that you are still not good enough and you hang your head but clap gleefully lest the media catch the dejection on your face. When you lie in bed that night you wonder if you will ever get nominated again and if that speech that you have said to yourself in the mirror will ever get heard at all. And the award for the best director goes to…
Then the next day you start with a whisper that awards are a sham and that they are unfair. By the evening that whisper has become a scream and there will be a lot of people who will agree with you till of course the next winter months and the next nomination
The question is then that are awards a sham?
I must tell you a story. In the year that I was nominated for Ghulam as best director Karan Johar was also nominated for the best director. Then there was also the category of best debutante technician where Karan was nominated again being a debutante talent and so was my friend Tanuja Chandra for her film Dushman.
Now Tanuja is someone I have a very old friendship with and so this is not about her at all but a certain logic or a lack of it for that matter. The award for the best debutante technician was announced and it went to Tanuja and this was great and then when it came to the director it went to Karan for Kuch Kuch Hota Hain, which was also great but if he was the best director then by default was he not the best debutante also? How can he not be the best debutante but be the best director? I asked around and someone said that since Karan was getting the best director they decided to give Tanuja best debutante. Not that Tanuja did not deserve the award but this was like a-keep-everyone-happy scenario!
Yes, the awards are a sham!
All the awards are usually hosted by huge media entities and they have to nominate the big stars or else no one is coming for their show! So it does not matter how good your film is but what matters is how successful your film is! The hit film gets nominations and the flop good film with some good performances will go unnoticed! Such is the way of Moviedom!
I was on the jury of an award function once and made it a point to see every film that I was asked to see but I saw that many jury members had not seen all the movies that were on the list.
Award functions are about glamour, they are about television rights, they are about stars making their way to the stage, they are about everything that you think they are about but they are not about promoting that unknown yet great talent. Have fun and watch the awards but don’t think even for a moment that anyone on that stage is the best. They are only the most noticeable.
Truth and Beauty? Only in Afterlife
When John Keats died in February 1821, just 25, his friends believed that it was the reviews that killed him. In truth the critics could hardly have been less kind, especially about Keats’s second book, Endymion. “We venture to make our small prophecy that his bookseller will not a second time venture 50” (pounds) “on anything he can write,” a reviewer for Blackwood’s Magazine wrote. “It is a better and wiser thing to be a starved apothecary than a starved poet. So back to the shop, Mr John.”
There was a political agenda here – Keats was a liberal, and Blackwood’s was stuffily Tory – as well as class condescension toward a poet who was the son of a stableman, a prejudice shared years later by Matthew Arnold, who found in Keats’ writing “something underbred and ignoble, as of a youth ill brought up”.
The reviews stung, but what really killed Keats, of course, was tuberculosis. He had been sickly for months when in the winter of 1820 he coughed up blood. Keats, who had trained as a junior surgeon and whose mother and brother Tom both died of TB, recognised the blood as arterial and knew immediately that he had been sentenced to a premature death. He said to Fanny Brawne, his fianc
e, “If I had had time, I would have made myself remembered,” and a year later, on his deathbed in Rome, he dictated a seemingly self-piteous epitaph, “Here lies one whose name was writ in water.” The measure of poetic greatness then was epic verse, and by that standard Keats had failed; he may have hoped, but couldn’t really believe, that he had reinvented the lyric with something like epic grandeur.
Yet as Stanley Plumly points out in Posthumous Keats, his moving and perceptive book about him, there is something elusive, mysterious and attention getting about the epitaph, which is after all inscribed in stone in the Protestant Cemetery in Rome; it’s as if Keats were stage-managing his reputation from beyond the grave. Keats’s publisher, John Taylor, thought the inscription could be the basis of a great publicity campaign until, 25 years later, he sold Keats’ copyrights for next to nothing, and he was virtually out of print.
Plumly’s book is, in part, a study in the vicissitudes of poetic reputation. Keats’s friends and contemporaries, Plumly points out, cherished the idea of him as a fragile blossom, too sensitive for this world, and the image was elaborated on by the Victorians, who rediscovered Keats, and loved the ballads and romances, The Eve of St. Agnes especially – the luxuriant, almost treacly Keats. They saw him as a sort of tragic Tim Burtonish figure, pale and languid, and wasting away in feverish reverie. This was the Keats that Arnold and, later, Yeats turned against, with Yeats cruelly comparing him to a schoolboy mooning outside the sweet-shop window, and for good measure repeating the bad-breeding slur. The Keats we revere, the Keats of the great odes, some of the most nearly perfect poems ever written, didn’t fully emerge until the 20th century.
Keats composed those poems in one amazing burst from April to September of 1819, and then he pretty much fell silent, unless you count an outpouring of passionate, tortured, jealous and sometimes abusive letters he wrote to Fanny Brawne. That he couldn’t live with her – literally, because he was dying – made him crazy.
Mr Plumly, himself a poet, has carefully chosen not to tell Keats’s story in linear or chronological order; his book is a series of interlocked essays that circle (sometimes repetitiously) around certain themes. And he keeps returning to Keats’ other posthumous life, the one he had while still alive, and about which he wrote in November 1820, “I have an habitual feeling of my real life having past, and that I am leading a posthumous existence.”
It took Keats a year to die, and though there were moments of seeming reprieve, of false hope, it was mostly a long, dwindling fall into darkness. At the end, barely able to lift himself from bed, he was subsisting, on doctor’s orders, on a single anchovy.
Plumly writes beautifully and very movingly of these last months: the sea voyage to Naples, the journey to Rome (during which his companion, Joseph Severn, stuffs the carriage with wildflowers, as if Keats were riding in his own hearse), the final days on the second floor of 26 Piazza di Spagna, the room filled with the sound of vendors, the golden light of late afternoon. Art and life seldom imitate each other, but in Keats’s case they really do seem inextricably linked, and in those last days, Plumly suggests, it’s as if he were living out the last movement of one of the odes, To Autumn especially, with its sense of a lingering moment prolonged, before transpiring into mist. Those poems promise the eternity of art, the permanence of truth and beauty, but what they describe is the poignancy, the bitter sweetness, the fleetingness of mortality.
Write stuff, right stuff
By Sunil K. Poolani
Though I have written – and continue to write – for several national and international print and electronic journals, I have never received the kind of responses I get from the readers of the paper you are now holding in your hands.
The responses have been a torrent, if not mind-blowing, and they are of all kinds: prospective authors trying to send their manuscripts, criticisms (reiterating that my writing is pretentious), overwhelmingly patronising.
But I was touched when, last week, a Chakravarti from a small Andhra Pradesh town, wrote to me, requesting, I should bestow on him tips to improve his writing skills, and tell him which all books would eventually ensure that. He wanted to write a “good manuscript”.
I, a college dropout, am hardly a person to help him, I told him as much, but promised I would share some thoughts that had cropped up while delighting in some good writings that I have come across in my short life.
For me, George Orwell is God; he will always be. Apart from his 1984 and Animal Farm, those great political expositions in literature vivifying the traps of both capitalist and communist hegemonies, I was really fascinated with his non-fiction, which talked about the English language and its use.
For any writer worth her or his salt, Politics and the English Language, Why I Write and Writer and the Leviathan are must-reads that should be imbibed into the system. When I compiled the above three essays for a volume one year ago, Ramachandra Guha wrote in the Foreword, “(Orwell’s) clarity of language, his moral courage, and his principled independence from party politics set him apart from the other writers of his generation, and from those who have followed since.”
Orwell was always consistent with his claim that prose degenerated into purple passages whenever it lacked political purpose. And as Orwell once said, “(English) becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.” He died an untimely death, and that is a pity.
Now, many readers may think this is a devious digression – from someone as meticulous and marvellous as Orwell to, well, a carefree and iconoclastic Hunter S. Thompson. But Thompson, mainly due to his irreverence to everything around him, shaped the way I thought and wrote. And I was particularly in awe of the company (of the New Journalism ‘movement’) he kept.
A great collection that I still admire is The New Journalism, edited by Tom Wolfe and E.W. Johnson. This comprised the best “literary” journalistic pieces I have ever read, written by – apart from Thompson and Wolfe – Rex Reed, Norman Mailer and Truman Capote. Fully doped, Thompson wrote The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved, a seminal sports article; it still remains a marvel in both journalism and literature – a rare achievement.
Thompson’s much-publicised work is the Fear and Loathing series. Nevertheless, his short works, published mostly posthumously, really stand out. In The Mailbox he talks about his confrontation with the FBI and he sums the article thus, “Never believe the first thing an FBI agent tells you about anything – especially not if he seems to believe you are guilty of a crime.”
If you are in the august company of Orwell and/or Thompson, who needs to dope? Or a stiff drink?
I used to work with a national weekly some years ago. We were bringing out a special on Orwell on his 50th death anniversary. A trainee sub-editor was asked to make the page in which we were reproducing Politics and the English Language. When I was checking the page before sending it to the press I realised there was something amiss in the Orwell classic. What happened, I asked the scribe. His reply, “Well, the whole article did not fit in the page, so I had to edit it.” Now, that is what I call guts.
The writer is the publisher and managing editor, Frog Books, an imprint of Leadstart Publishing Pvt Ltd, Mumbai. Write to him at email@example.com
‘I like action, intrigue in a plot’
I am always surrounded by books. I often read two-three books at the same time. I always need to have a book around me, even if I don’t get time to read it, I just can’t stay away from books.
I like fiction and but I do read a little non-fiction too. I am very particular about action and intrigue because only then the plot is engrossing enough for me and allows me to forget everything that’s going around. Then it’s not just reading, it becomes an effective stress buster.
The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye is one of my favourite books till now. It beautifully chronicles the life and times during the British Raj and ends with the ultimate triumph of the human spirit.
Life of Pi by Yann Martel is another book I can read again and again. It has a simple almost childlike narrative and yet it is so profound. Its style has made it one of my most loved novels. While reading it, I had to put the book down every few pages and had to ponder on what I just read. Selecting one author as my best is a tough call, but probably Gabriel Garcia Marquez is the one I’d select. In his writing, there is a magical realism. He also has an extreme visual-graphic quality in his narration. His writing is so descriptive that you can almost touch and feel it.
When I read, I always associate with the protagonists of the novel. Our lives are so complex, one could easily relate to all the things the protagonist is going through and it is a unique experience.
A Sri Lankan rendezvous
The minute my plane touched down at the Bandaranaike Airport, Katunayake, the one thing that stuck in my mind was (of course, besides the picturesque island) the Sri Lankan air hostess Melissa’s sexy sari. She told me it was the Kandyan way of draping it. Interestingly, this three-piece wonder has a wraparound skirt, a pleated middle and a slim duppatta that is pinned in front. It is a heady mix of comfort and luxury and the sari’s bold peacock print further accentuated its appeal.
Well, I did manage to see a lot of saris in my seven-day stay in Sri Lanka (Sri for paradise and Lanka for island, so paradise island), but the thought of wearing and walking around in one deterred me from buying these three piece beauties. It can be a logistical nightmare for the inexperienced as the wrap is a complex garment to flaunt and carry around if you are not a professional at handling it.
Sri Lanka decoded
The worst time to go Sri Lanka would be the time I went, that is when the SAARC summit is on. So most roads were blocked, traffic diverted, a zillion check posts and (you can’t deny that the Air Force officers look rather dapper) most good hotels booked. So we had to make do with Brown’s Beach hotel, a little away from Colombo.
But the view was spectacular from my window, with the raging sea (I could also see lovebirds snogging at the beachside). That’s why they say – sun, sand and sex. We could not see much of Colombo, but the little that I saw I noticed that it was a bit upmarket and hugely expensive. And my driver Mohammed Rafi (no, not the famous singer) from Walkers Tours told me that house rents can go up to Rs 20,000 for an apartment and to keep your head above water you must earn at least Rs 50,000 (you won’t believe it that a kilo of rice costs Rs 150, so let us not even talk about veggies).
Rock climbing Sri Lanka style
Only attempt Sigiriya if you have nerves of steel, trust me I am serious. Sigiriya or the Lion’s Rock is an ancient rock fortress. Interestingly, the steep steps don’t challenge some but for me I gave up half way through after seeing the stunning frescoes, which they call the “Heavenly maidens of Sigiriya” (these are painted in earth pigments). There are “almost 2,600 steps” and as it was raining that day it made my climb more difficult.
Most of the steps have no railing on the sides and with the dangerous climb you are left to your own devices.
But when I saw a group of 60 plus women challenging the rain god I rolled up my jeans and told myself, “Never give up”. Well, my enthusiasm did not last long and neither did my breath so after lots of huffing and puffing, I called it quits, much to the amusement of my guide, Shane who was a major motivating factor.
Coming back to Sigiriya, it is a popular tourist destination and was built during the reign of King Kashyapa (477-495 AD) and is one of the seven World Heritage sites in Sri Lanka. The most fascinating part of this destination is the mirror wall, at a crazy height where it is said that the Kings’ servants used to write love messages for each other. The wall it is said gets its texture from a mix of egg white, lime and bee-wax, which is applied and left for 21 days for the final effect. The rock has a height of 200 metres and at the bottom you have the most spectacular man-made fountains and can you believe it they are still in a working condition.
As I walked out of the premises, I thought to myself without any new-age instruments or machines how did they manage to carve a huge rock 1500 years back.
But then the thought of having the chilled Three Coins (local) beer overtook everything else. And trust me when I tell you, the label at the back of the beer says, “A refreshing quencher, a tasty relaxant and a wholesome lubricant for social intercourse.” I was truly in Sri Lanka.
Satiate soul with Hainanese chicken rice
If you want to start World War III in Singapore, just ask a group of Singaporeans where to get the best Hainanese Chicken Rice. You will soon have to duck for cover at the furore that ensues. Hainanese Chicken Rice is something like the national dish of the tiny island state, and is said to be of Hainanese origin. Hainan Island, part of China, is where many Singaporeans trace their ancestry (the other two places are Hokkien and Teochew.
There is absolutely no food court either in a shopping mall or in the open air that does not offer Hainanese Chicken Rice. It consists of a pile of steamed chicken, a portion of flavourful rice that has been simmered in chicken stock, a serving of pounded red chilli sauce and one of chopped garlic. Most places add a couple of other things too: chopped cucumber, a sprig of coriander leaves, a bowl of soup that is supposed to contain chicken stock. Some add a tiny serving of Kecap Manis, the quintessential Malaysian sweet ketchup in addition. Because it is such an elemental dish, you would actually have to search for a place that serves a poor version. The trick to do is to find somewhere that is run by people from Hainan itself: not a particularly difficult task. I have my formula down pat. Because my trips to Singapore are usually short, I usually take a cab to Bugis Junction, one of my favourite hang-out places in Singapore. Air-conditioned walkways that lead off from the InterContinental Hotel, shopping malls for the young and trendy (where I shop for my teenage children’s clothes), a covered market for fruit, vegetables, food products, slightly ethnic restaurants, an extremely ethnic food court, foot reflexology and feng shui accessories, one leisurely stroll around this fascinating wonderland and you’ll know what I mean.
Then, I head to Purvis Street. It is where I have my favourite Hainanese Chicken Rice joint. Yet Con is not the only place on Purvis Street that is famous for its Chicken Rice, but it is the one that I always go to. Somehow, I trust places where I am the only foreigner: it makes me feel that the flavours are authentic. Plus, the elderly troupe who man the counters are from Hainan.
With so many places shiny and new in Singapore, it is almost a relief to enter the ever-so-slightly precincts of Purvis Street, which is two minutes away from the InterContinental Hotel. None of the many restaurants in this tiny street have encroached on the broad covered verandahs, and though there a few trendy restaurants, they are outnumbered by the traditional ones. My last port of call in this fascinating area is a pilgrimage to a slightly run-down building near the Chinese temple where I have a Chinese foot reflexology massage. The authentic experience can cure ailments and point out future problem areas, while being relaxing and comfortable: just what you need after a hard day’s shopping and dining.
By Senjam Raj Sekhar
Where would the romance of football be if it were not for club rivalries. Lazio and A.S. Roma or closer home, between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, all add to the excitement and thrill. This week we take a look at some of the most famous football derbies across the world.
Quiz News: Barasat Quizzards’ Forum is organising its inaugural quiz contest – “Quiz Olympiad-2008” on 24 August at Subhash Institute Hall, Barasat in both school and open categories. Open to two member teams. Contact Partha Gupta (9830318721) or Selim Ahmed 9231664533 for more details.
Write with your suggestions, questions (with answers) to D4/11 (GF), Exclusive Floors, DLF Phase- V, Gurgaon 122 002 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
1. The city of Birmingham in England features a traditional rivalry between two football clubs in the city. One of them is Birmingham city FC. Which is the other? 2. It is said that price of Hilsa fish in Kolkata goes up when East Bengal wins. Which food is linked to a Mohun Bagan win? 3. In Buenos Aires, the club rivalry is supposed to represent two clubs divided along class lines – working class and upper class. Boca Juniors is the working class club. Which is upper class one? 4. The Uruguayan city of Monte Video has one of football’s greatest rivalries between two club teams. Name the teams. 5. One of the biggest club rivalries in the world is also divided along religious lines – Catholics vs Protestants. Name them. 6. The Merseyside Derby, also called The Friendly Derby, features which two football clubs? 7. In Italy, the two biggest derbies are the Rome Derby and Genoa Derby. The Rome one features Lazio and AS Roma. Which two teams play in the Genoa Derby? 8. The derby in Sao Paulo in Brazil features two clubs, one of them founded by Italians. Name the two clubs. 9. Los Indos (The Indians) and Los Blancos (The Whites) are bitter rivals from the same city. Name the two clubs. 10. Persepolis FC and Esteghlal FC are two famed rivals from which city?
1. Whose army was considered to be the first to have used a regular uniform? (U. Narasimha Murthy, Secunderabad) 2. Who is the only cricketer to win World Cup both as a player and as a coach? (Selim Ahmed, Barasat) 3. In the 15th Asian Games at Doha, 2006, China dominated the medals tally. However, China did not participate in two of the 39 disciplines. One of them was Karate. Which was the other? (Dr Ravi Bhatia, Udaipur) 4. Whose production company is called Simian films? (Shovan Karmakar, Kolkata) 5. Who in 1901 became the first Indian to own a car? (Sushil Kumar Poddar, Kolkata) 6. Which was the first painting from an Indian artist to cross the Rs 10 lakh price tag in 1987? (Rajib Roy, Burdwan) 7. Which was the only film in which Marilyn Monroe played the role of a mother? (Probir Mitra, Kolkata) 8. Rajasthan Royals is not the only team where Shane Warne played the role of coach cum captain. For which other team did Warne don this role? (Partha Gupta, Barasat) 9. There is no Nobel Prize for Mathematics. Which prize is regarded as the Nobel Prize for Mathematics? (Sanjay Nair, Noida) 10. Vestas from Denmark is the number one company in which sector? (M. Sharma, Gurgaon)
Football Derbies 1. Aston Villa 2. Prawns 3. Atletico River Plate 4. Nacional and Penarol 5. Celtics vs Rangers in Glasgow. Rangers is identified with Scottish Protestant community and Celtics with Catholics. 6. Everton and Liverpool FC 7. Genoa and Sampdoria 8. Palmeiras and Corinthians. Palmeiras (earlier named Palestra Italia) was founded by a group of Italians in Sao Paulo. The Italians used to be members of Corinthians. When they formed the new club, they became the betrayers. The derby started since then. 9. Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid 10. Tehran
anything goes 1. Oliver Cromwell’s during the English civil war. 2. Geoff Marsh (as a player in 1987 and as a captain in 1999) 3. Kabaddi 4. Hugh Grant 5. Jamsetji Tata 6. Safdar Hashmi by M.F. Husain 7. We’re not Married (1952). Marilyn plays the role of a young mother on the beauty pageant circuit 8. Hampshire county 9. Fields Medal 10. Wind energy
Funda of the week Taiwan. ‘Formosa’ means beautiful
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