Looking back with love
I share a wonderful relationship with my brothers. I love and respect them and I have gotten back their love and respect in equal measure.
Let me tell you, nothing can come in the way of our relationship, especially because I know where to draw the line between our personal and professional lives – that’s very important.
I am the sixth in the family, among the 11 children. I don’t know why I got this nickname, but they all call me ‘Chinnamma’. maybe because of my tongue-twisting name, I guess (laughs). Or perhaps, it reflects the love all my brothers have for me.
Priya dutt, MP, Congress I have the same sentiment towards the celebration of Raksha Bandhan as any sister would have for her brother. We have grown up celebrating Rakhi ever since our childhood, so it will always remain special.
As we grow older, the meaning of celebration changes for everyone but the sentiment remains the same no matter how old you are. I will be tying Sanjay a rakhi this year too.
Riddhima Kapoor Sahni, Fashion designer I am excited about Raksha bandhan though I won’t be able to meet Ranbir. I plan to celebrate it by watching his movie Bachna Ae Haseeno. Ranbir looks amazing in the film and I consider the film as his rakhi gift for me. I have always been excited about this festival as it is all about the love between a brother and sister. And in my family, like any other Indian home, we have been celebrating this festival with enthusiasm. As a a kid, Ranbir would gift his entire pocket money to me as rakhi gift.
Even after all these years, there’s no difference in the bond we share. Perhaps the only new thing is that we don’t live in the same house anymore. I sent him a beautiful rakhi and a small gift through my cousin Natasha Nanda. I will go and wish him personally in a few days. We always manage to take time out for each other and that is what matters.
Sajid Khan, anchor We have a unique way of celebrating Raksha Bandhan – we always do it over a special lunch, usually whipped up at home. But now that Farah lives at her place with Shirish, I plan to take her out for lunch. I cannot tell you the name of the restaurant. If I tell you that, then you will ask me for the menu too. (laughs)
Rakhi or not, brothers are expected to do everything and anything for their sisters. That’s what brothers are there for. I even sing Phoolon ka taaron ka sabka kehna hai ek hazaaron mein meri behna hai for my sister. We have fought a lot as kids, we love each other and I have even made a special appearance in Main Hoon Na and in return she choreographs my movie songs for me.
Farah Khan, filmmaker/choreographer
We have always celebrated Raksha Bandhan together till the time I was at home. After my marriage, last year I had gone to his house to tie him rakhi.
My best remembrances about Rakhi are about holding myself back from beating up my kid brother for his wisecracks. We always tried very hard to stay away from fighting, at least on this special day.
Long distance love
The saying “Distance makes hearts grow fonder”, holds true for siblings who are not together to celebrate the auspicious occasion of Raksha Bandhan. As time and distance play a spoilsport everybody isn’t lucky to spend this special day with their loved ones.
Says TV actor Sonia Kapoor, “I don’t have a real brother, but I tie a rakhi to my cousin brother Kushal (Kaku) who is more than a real brother to me. He lives in Punjab, and I am based in Mumbai. I send him a Rakhi every year. We don’t meet on rakhi, but we make it a point to meet once a year and that is when I make him spend the most on me for both Rakhi and Bhai Dooj. As a kid, I remember, we used to book trunk calls to speak to our cousins, but now technology is superb.”
TV actor Raj Singh Arora said, “I haven’t met my younger sister on Rakhi for many years now. But it isn’t that my love for her is only for that one day. My mother sends me a rakhi on her behalf and Anjalika herself sends me a rakhi, but it is the emotion that we share that matters the most. Whenever she visits me in Mumbai, I pamper her and take care of her a lot.”
Singer and composer Shibani Kashyap will not be able to celebrate rakhi with her younger brother Ashish. I will be away in Mumbai due to work. Ashish and I are very friendly, we generally don’t spend an entire day with each other, but in the evenings, we go out for dinner with the family. As for gifts, there is really no surprise in store for me. He knows I love perfumes and will gift me one of those to be on the safer side.”
While for some it is work that broadens the gap, for filmmaker Anu Malhotra, it was a family decision that has forced her to spend Rakhi alone for more than two decades. Her younger brother Arjun lives in Philadelphia,
US. She said, “It has been many years since I met Arjun on Rakhi even though I send him rakhi every year and make sure to speak to him on that day. I tie him a rakhi whenever he visits Delhi.” Anu fondly remembers Arjun, she
said, “He is a year younger to me, till 13 years, I used to bully him a lot.”
The festival surely brings siblings together, no matter where they are, they always know they will be there for each other
Thread of commitment
Raksha Bandhan comes around every year. But how many of us know the origin of this festival even though it is mentioned in most of our great epics.
The origin of the festival goes back to Puranic times. However there are many variations of the legend. One of them tells of a war between the Gods and the Demons. The demon King Brutra it is said gave the Gods such a fight that they were on the verge of defeat. It was then that Indra, the King of the Gods approached Guru Brihaspati to find a solution. Brihaspati suggested that Indra tie a sacred thread on his wrist which was made powerful by some sacred mantras. Queen Indrani empowered the sacred thread and tied it on Indra’s hand on a decided day – Shravan Purnima. The thread’s power helped the God to victory. It kept them protected which is the translation of Raksha. Since then the tradition of thread tying still continues.
Yet another legend tells of the Demon King Bali and Goddess Lakshmi. Bali was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. It is said that once Goddess Lakshmi – who wanted to be in her home with her husband, Lord Vishnu, who had left Vaikunth – went to Bali disguised as a Brahmin woman to seek refuge till her husband came back. During the Shravan Purnima celebrations, the Goddess tied a sacred thread on Bali’s wrist. When she eventually revealed who she was and why she was there, Bali was so touched that he sacrificed all he had for the Lord and his devoted wife. Legend has it that since then it has been a tradition to invite sisters (in Shravan Purnima) for the thread tying ceremony or Raksha Bandhan.
Yet another legend has it that the Raksha Bandhan ritual was followed by Yama the Lord of Death. It is said that when Yama’s sister, Yamuna tied a sacred thread on his wrist bestowing him with immortality, Yama was so moved that he declared that whoever wore a rakhi tied by his sister – and promised to protect her – would become immortal.
Raksha Bandhan finds mention in the Mahabharata. To provide protection from the dangers of the war, legend tells us that Kunti, the mother of the Pandavas tied a rakhi on the wrist of her grandson Abhimanyu and Draupadi tied a rakhi on the wrist of Lord Krishna.
Lokesh makes his entry
Nara Lokesh, son of the Telugu Desam chief, Mr N. Chandrababu Naidu, gave ample signals of a future political career on Friday. The only son of the former CM hoisted the national flag at NTR Model School in Gandipet in the presence of media persons.
It is usually Mr Naidu who performs the ceremony and the symbolism of replacing him with his son was not lost on anyone. Also, it is normal practice for scions of political clans to take their first step into the arena of power on an auspicious day and Lokesh is no exception to this rule.
Lokesh, who did his MBA in Stanford University in the US, and worked as a junior professional associate in the World Bank, is now back in India for good. “I am back for good. I left for the US at a very young age to pursue higher studies. But I missed my country and I am now very happy to be back here. I want to do good to society,” he said.
His focus in the future would be on rural people. “I want so serve them through my business,” he said. When asked how it would be possible to do that through business activities, Lokesh quipped, “I will show you.”
Lokesh, however, was not ready to ascribe a political meaning to his first public function. “It is just Independence Day,” he said.
However, the TD chief’s son gave enough hints that he was not dismissing the possibility. But he shied away from questions on the present political system. However, when asked about his philosophy of life, Lokesh said, “I always follow the footsteps of the legendary N.T. Rama Rao who is popularly known as Telugu Simham. I will try to implement the ideology of Anna Garu.”
He also has a message for today’s youth. “As my father always says dare to dream and strive to achieve,” he said. “This should be the motive of every young person. We should also strive fill the gap between haves and have-nots.”
Lokesh is not all about serious stuff. There is also a lighter side. He likes fast cars, the music of A.R. Rehman and considers his mother Bhuvaneswari to be his best friend.
Live Life kingsize
Life begins at 40 for a good number of us. But are the next 30-40 years viewed with as much anticipation? Turns out, they are. Optimism is the key emotion that emerges when you talk to people who are well past their 30s, but are young and intend to remain so for a long, long time.
Hollywood actress Penelope Cruz revealed a few months back that she is looking forward to growing older. The 33-year-old said, “I want to experience things; I’m looking forward to having backaches and using that in my work.”
TV actor Ram Kapoor has long been playing roles that show him as a much older man. Happy with his image, he says, “I look forward to my older age and know I won’t do much to look younger. Life begins at 40. In your 20s and 30s you are too busy in the rat race of life. Life slows down a bit when you are 40 or 50. I look forward to that time when I can take a whole month off to travel.” Expecting a second baby early next year with wife Gautami, Ram longs to spend quality time with her. “Getting closer to your partner again, rekindling the romance – there’s so much to look forward to”, he says. Just imagine such a lifestyle, filled with recreational and social activities, and being healthy, independent and active – all the hallmarks of happy ageing. If such is the case, even the aches and pains don’t bother you.
Actor Alok Nath at 52 looks forward to 10 more years in movies, and intends to embark on an even more strenuous job – running an exotic farm in the mountains. “If you feel low physically and your mind also shuts itself down, then you are done for. Your mind has to push the body into believing what it can do,” he avers.
The way we perceive ageing is primarily determined by two things -our parents, and the media. The former are usually wonderful role models, but the media is a different matter altogether. Stereotypical images of crotchety or senile old people are common. Even cheerful, seemingly able people are shown as sitting at home while youngsters do their shopping and travelling for them. In reality, older age is the do-it-yourself age.
Delhi-based business person Raseel Gujral finds her parents to be wonderful examples of graceful ageing. No wonder, because she is talking about architect/painter Satish Gujral. “My father at 83 is up every morning at 7 and starts painting at 10, breaking only for lunch. My mother has her hands full just keeping up with him. They socialise every evening, meet people and get stimulus from outside”, she says, adding, “Ageing is just a natural progression of the present. As long as you have a trouble-free health, I don’t see what is there to be apprehensive or anticipatory about.”
Whether or not growing older is growing better, it is definitely about living life completely. A heartwarming advertisement showed two very old women stumbling along with a package in their hand. They stop at a house and ring the bell, singing “Happy Birthday” to their equally old and thrilled brother as he opens the door. Now that’s positive.
Actress Apara Mehta quotes the example of her own mother and Kokilaben Ambani, who “don’t show a single grey strand at 70 plus. My father was the most positive human being I know. My mother was very active in theatre till recently, understands cricket in and out, follows current affairs and serials diligently, and remains deeply interested in everything around her. She’s a person who is very much in today.” So Apara herself looks at her life in a very progressive, positive way. “I look forward to growing always and yet remain true to myself. I am a full of life at mid 40s and intend remaining that way even 20 years from now. I’m still busy and learning new things, and I’ll still be following fashion. Age does make you wiser, but it need not necessarily make you dull.”
Job portal for senior citizens launched
The single belief that you are contributing more to the family and society than taking from it, keeps you young well into your 70s and 80s. A joint initiative between ICICI Prudential Life Insurance and Dignity Foundation ensures just that. Called ActivAge, the venture launched http://www.dignitysecondcareers.org, a job portal dedicated to providing second career counselling and placement services exclusively for senior citizens.
The portal aims to encourage retirees and individuals in the 50 plus segment to lead a more fulfilling and active post-retirement life. Second career options are available for both part-time and full time jobs in the corporate sector as well as in the NGO segment.
All you have to do is log into the website and register yourself as a prospective employee, choosing options of cities and industries and uploading your resume as you go along. These resumes can be accessed by both ICICI Prudential Life and other prospective employers, who will offer the unique opportunity for senior citizens to explore second career options.
It works very much to mutual advantage, since companies benefit from the experience and expertise of senior people, and retirees get an opportunity to put their skills to good use and work again the way they want to.
Besides, the portal also offers facilities like upgradation of computer skills and soft skills in select cities in the country. Voluntary organisations can also register.
Dignity Foundation is a non profit organisation promoting the concept of active ageing amongst senior citizens. Set up in 1995, Dignity Foundation is present in seven cities across the country.Its founder president is Dr Sheilu Sreenivasan.
ActivAge is a joint initiative between ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company and Dignity Foundation, launched on October 1, 2007. Activities have been designed to bring senior citizens together on a regular and more productive basis.
For further information, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
‘Money is not everything’
How often have you heard of a practising advocate who is also an author and public speaker? Meet 33-year-old Aditya Sondhi, an alumnus of Bishop Cottons Boys’ School, Bengaluru and National Law School of India University, who also holds a Master’s degree in Political Science. He is the Secretary of the Karnataka State Unit of the Indian Law Institute and Convenor of the General Thimayya Memorial Lectures.
After passing out of law school, Aditya enrolled as an advocate with the Karnataka State Bar Council and joined the Chambers of Mr Udaya Holla (present Advocate General of Karnataka) where he worked for six years. Side by side, he also authored Unfinished Symphony which was published by Penguin in 2003. Sheer love for his 143-year-old school and the fact that not enough had been done to document the history of its distinguished alumni, some of whom are Dr Raja Ramanna, Nandan Nilekani, General K. S. Thimayya and Colin Cowdrey, inspired Aditya to write the book. “It took me two whole years to put the book together. The title Unfinished Symphony is because the tradition of students’ achievements will continue through the years and will require to be documented from time to time” says Aditya, who was school captain in 1993 and among the top achievers in academics throughout.
At a time when most law students prefer corporate jobs as they are initially high-paying, Aditya decided to set up an independent law practice in 2004 in Corporate and Constitutional law. As a first generation lawyer he had to struggle to build a clientele and generate a steady stream of revenue, but has several high profile corporate and individual clients today. He also represents many welfare/civic groups in public interest matters relating to roads, town planning and other public interest litigation.
“Setting up an independent practice from scratch without any backing requires one to be well informed, well prepared and a risk-taker. It comes from a vision of achieving a greater objective than just providing for one’s immediate needs” says Aditya.
He maintains a rigorous 9 am to 9 pm schedule daily and often works seven days a week along with three other lawyers and three support staff who work for him. He hopes to build up his practice in the Supreme Court in the near future.
How does he manage to pack in so much everyday? “It’s all about prioritising one’s work and working fast, that makes the difference in how much one can accomplish in 24 hours” said Aditya. Why did he not join his father’s retail business? “I was always encouraged to do what I loved most and there was absolutely no pressure for me to join Dad’s business” said Aditya.
To unwind, he reads biographies and military history, attends talks on eclectic topics unrelated to law, teaches Constitutional Law and Arbitration at National Law School, and speaks at forums.
His mantra for success is: Compete with yourself alone and let your conscience be your judge. “I am especially grateful to Dr Iqbal Ahmed, my Hindi Master from school for teaching me the meaning of integrity and encouraging the spirit of knowledge and sacrifice in me” he said.
His advice to Gen Y: Seek a career that challenges your faculties and helps you realise your full potential. As far as possible, lean towards public life and try and serve the national interest. Money is not everything, it is ancillary.
Insure and be secure
I don’t need insurance. I don’t think anything will happen to me. Isn’t this what one feels when that irritating insurance advisor contacts one with offers for products ranging from life insurance to medical insurance to insuring one’s homes? The insurance company will probably come up with an insurance solution for anything you hold dear.
Let’s talk of life and medical and travel insurance here. Many financial experts consider insurance as a cornerstone of sound financial planning citing some of the following reasons for purchasing life insurance – (1) Insurance creates a source of savings. (2) It replaces income for dependents if the main bread-winner dies. (3) Life insurance can pay the insured person’s funeral and burial costs, probate and other estate administration costs, debts and medical expenses not covered by health insurance. (4) Insurance helps create an inheritance for heirs. (5) It can help make charitable contributions by making a charitable organisation a beneficiary of the life insurance policy/ies.(6) Most life insurance policies help in tax planning within certain limits and conditions, and (7) in case of a ‘quasi-government’ company such as LIC, the premiums that one pays help in nation building – LIC lends the money to companies and national and state governments.
In India, healthcare is expensive, medical insurance can help in reducing the financial burden. Tax benefits are also available within specified limits and conditions for premiums paid. Medical expenses are higher if one falls sick abroad – travel insurance can be availed of at very low cost – a few hundred rupees for periods as low 14 days and sum insured (SI) amounts of US $100,000 and more. Consult your insurance advisor.
-The writer is a qualified insurance and financial advisor. Reach him at email@example.com
Megamart finds a fine fit
Behind the swish of the skirt or the rustle of the silk, there is a lot of technology. Not just in design, but also in helping garments reach the stores on time, predicting trends and streamlining other business processes.
So when textile maker Arvind’s retail venture Megamart wanted to expand its value apparel stores, it needed an enterprise resource planning solution that could provide it with a backbone – a scalable platform to manage its processes, from supply-chain to stores. There were several vendors to choose from. After evaluations, the firm gave the thumbs up to Oracle Retail. This solution, Megamart believes, can support its plans to establish more than 250 large and small format stores across the country over the next four years. The solution has cost the company Rs 15 crore and will be implemented in several phases over the next 24 months.
In a way, the partnership is a big deal for both the firms. While the solution will ensure that Megamart’s customers ultimately find the right brand, style and size in time, perhaps makes the firm more profitable, Oracle also gains a big Indian name in the retail space – globally, the firm is already big in the sector – it counts the world’s top 20 retailers as its customers.The retail chain found Oracle attractive on many counts. First was its merchandise management module that would now allow Megamart to spot trends in customer behaviour, price points, buying habits and any regional bias among other trends.
Second was a pricing module that helps in tracking profitability and an inventory module that would aid the retailer in gaining stock visibility, besides efficient warehouse management. The chain’s officials were impressed by an in-store unit meant for better customer experience as well as a planning suite for demand forecasting. In short, with this deployment, Megamart may now increase its inventory turns, improve forecast accuracy, enable shorter replenishment lead times while boosting service levels.
Sweet like chocolate
That melt in your mouth, piece of happiness is something we all crave for now and then. If you want chocolate, be prepared for lots of it because as we look around for the perfect gift, chocolate is some happiness money can definitely buy.
Which is why these days, it finds itself on the top of peoples shopping lists more often now than ever before. According to the international market intelligence provider Euromonitor, the relatively small Indian chocolate market (with volumes of about 55,000 metric tonnes of chocolate and compound per year), is expected to grow on average per year by around 17.8 per cent between 2008 and 2012. Chocolatier Zeba Kohli, who runs one of the most successful chocolate businesses in the country, says that it is because of the media awareness that the market has grown so much. “Earlier chocolate was completely a novelty. It was something special, which was not available in all the cities,” she says. And Zeba would know since she was the first to bring Swiss chocolate brand Lindt, to India 12 year ago. Zeba feels that this new awareness about chocolate coupled with experience has excited a lot of people. “Now, the market has grown by leaps and bounds. Awareness encourages people to try our new products and flavours,” she adds.
Dark, milk or white chocolate – we want to try it all. Though Zeba says there is a big demand for dark chocolate in India, Darshit Shah, of Premium Pralines, which brought Belgian chocolate brand Leonidas to India recently says that Indians prefer milk chocolate.
Another testimonial to this market spurt is the Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy, which recently opened a branch in Mumbai. They hope to refine the skills of small chocolate entrepreneurs and local chefs by teaching them about the details that go into making a world-class product. “We’ve realised that India has a very large percentage of ladies who make these chocolates at home. This is quite a large market. There is also a significant growth in the hotel industry,” says Paul Halliwell, director sales and marketing, Barry Callebaut, Asia Pacific.
Coming down to you and me – the consumers – we certainly know that we want quality in every product we buy. Chocolate is no exception. Premium brands are tapping this need and providing the customer with ingredients we never imagined could be available locally. Darshit says, “Chocolate is an industry in itself in India. For an Indian consumer, chocolate means a candy, toffee, peppermint or a lolly. However, companies in India have done quite a remarkable feat to give variety to the consumers in the above types of confections. A lot of people from India are travelling all over the world and are always looking out for the best quality chocolates for their loved ones,” he says.
And festival season is one of the biggest reasons that people splurge on sweet somethings for their families. Instead of opting for the more traditional gulab jamuns and ladoos, people are turning to chocolate. It is for this reason that sweet shops are getting more innovative by fusing chocolate with local sweets. “Some make gulab jamuns but instead of using the sugar syrup, they put it in chocolate mousse. Everybody is stopping to enjoy chocolate,” says chef Abhiru Biswas, technical advisor for Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy in Mumbai.
Zeba only sees this chocolate trend going up. “Indians are extremely intelligent and curious people. They do not like to be told what to do. Very soon, India will have the best chocolate under one roof. That’s why I keep encouraging housewives to make chocolates. It will enable us to be among the best in the world,” she says.
Myths about chocolate
Chocolate is bad for your teeth: Cavities are formed when bacteria in the mouth metabolise sugars and starches from any type of food that contain fermentable carbohydrates (FCs) to produce acids. Although FCs are found in chocolate, the cocoa butter in chocolate coats the teeth, making it less likely to cause tooth decay. While chocolate may be high in sugar, it melts quickly in your mouth. This leaves little time for bacteria to attack your teeth and cause cavities.
Chocolate is high in caffeine: Sometimes, chocolate stimulates you as a cup of coffee but the amount of caffeine in a piece of chocolate is a lot lower than a cup of coffee. A regular cup of coffee has 65-135mg of caffeine, while an ounce of milk chocolate contains only 6 mg.
Chocolate is addictive: There is no scientific evidence to prove that chocolate is addictive, although many people experience cravings for chocolate. There is nothing in a chocolate which can possibly cause an addiction.
Sugar-free chocolate is for people on diet: Even though there is a lot of market awareness towards sugar-free chocolates, people have the wrong assumption that these are good to eat while dieting. On the contrary, these are meant more for diabetics people than to assist in keeping the weight under check.
Chocolate gives you pimples: Real chocolate contains anti-oxidants, which can actually help your skin look better. However the milk that is often mixed with chocolate can cause acne.
Chocolate lacks any nutritional value : Chocolate is a good source of magnesium, copper, iron and zinc. It also contains polyphenols that have been associated with a decreased risk of coronary disease.
City ushers I-Day in style
Independence Day celebrations aren’t restricted to schools anymore. Pubs in the city went all out to celebrate August 15. Each pub had planned a different theme. F Bar organised a bhangra performance to liven up the ambience in a typical desi style. Youngsters, many of whom were sporting tri-colour stoles and dupattas, were seen tapping their feet to catchy numbers. Spotted Bharat, Raj, Veenu, Venkat, Sarvan, Dipin and others.
Youngsters at B&C danced to the lively music. Spotted Daina, Kapil, Sagorika, Kanna and others. In another corner, Antra, Sneha, Sahil, Khalid and Shounak were seen enjoying Sneha’s birthday bash.
Corporates get into the groove
The corporates too were in a mood to celebrate. Broadridge Financial Solutions, Sierra Atlantic and NetXcell Limited all had interesting programmes lined up as a part of Independence day celebrations. The corporates also extended a helping hand to the needy. Convergys organised special cultural activities and lunch for children of the school adopted by them. Delloite gave out awards to those involved with community development projects. They also organised a special dance number by eight differently abled kids and a patriotic song performance by a blind children’s musical band.
Friday was a busy day with many ladies deciding to celebrate Varalakshmi puja. They organised huge lunch/tea dos asking over 60-100 women to come anytime during the day to take prasad. According to legend, invitations to pujas should not be refused. So all the ladies turned up, dressed to kill.
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