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Volume 8 Issue 3 Hong Kong first lifestyle magazine for south Asians

Dr. David Harilela



Modestyin Modernity COVER STORY

Trippin’ Over Taiwan GLOBETROTTER

Top Indian Chefs in HK FEATURE





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8 Editor’s Note

CONTRIBUTORS Brinda Khandwala Managing Editor

Hello Readers,

This wonderfully warm month marks one year of me being in Hong Kong. It also marks my debut issue of the magazine. There is a rush of mixed feelings – pride and joy over the work done; hope and excitement for what’s next. One of the things I love about this city is how welcoming it is to everyone and everything. As crammed as it seems, with a little pinch and squeeze, it makes room for all. People are busy working hard, partying harder and keeping up with the pace of Asia’s most expensive city! I wonder if its just a happy sense of contentment that no one disturbs the joyful buzz here or is it because everyone’s noses are in their phones all the time so one barely notices another! Whatever it is, as a desi, its wonderful to witness a land with hardly any discrimination.

Mrs. Poonam V Mehta

Komal Lakhani-Shankar

An early-childhood educator and counsellor, Poonamji runs several schools. As President of Be The Change HK Organization, she is actively involved in helping Hong Kong’s ethnic communities. She is also a core member of Sage Foundation (Mumbai) and Trustee of Dreamz Home Orphanage (Mumbai). Leading with love, she inspires us to be better beings.

The foodie-cum-fashionista loves to explore new places and meet new people! With her ever-so-chatty personality and candid writing style, Komal makes everything interesting. Her infectiously happy vibe is perfectly in-sync with the city’s buzz, capturing moments into beautiful words.

Meenakshi Gupta

Nayan Mongia

A Hong Konger since over a decade and mother of two, Meenakshi indulges in everything wholesome from painting, poetry, gardening to even learning Cantonese!She is always up for an art show and happily down for immersing into a book! Her collective experiences are beautifully penned into great reads.

The former Indian cricketer and ace wicketkeeper graced us with his presence at the annual ABCS matches. Extending his graciousness and expertise to the players, Mr. Mongia brought a lot more excitement into our games in April.

As a newbie in town, I saw everything with a sense of wonderment Seeing the coexistence of ethnic values with urban sensibilities, I realize that it is truly what we stand for. Unveiling my assumptions with their wise words, three lovely hijabi women of Hong Kong gave me a refreshing perspective to freedom of choice. It reminded me to look at people beyond their layers of fashion, colour, gender or whatever else we curtain our minds with. In this busy city of ours, if we just take a moment to exchange a smile, a ‘hello’ or some small talk – we find that after all we have a lot more in common than we imagine. What continues to remain a wonderment is how this world is often called a man’s world, but if we look closely, it’s just as much run by women. Look at our amazing contributors on the website and the magazine who are doing it all – having successful careers, being homemakers, raising the future generation with a balance of education and emotion, yet making the time to draft engaging articles for you! One is bringing back bagsful of fun to share about a trip to Taiwan. Another is nurturing a lush little kitchen garden in her compact HK home. And then there are pearls of wisdom coming from the one who has devoted her life to serving others. Our desi women are infusing their core values to their in modern education for building a more compassionate world of equal opportunities and inclusivity. Speaking of core values and compassion, its absolute personification the illustrious Dr. David Harilela shares his secrets to success in personal life, professional life and philanthropy. I remain grateful for this opportunity to interact with a man so magnanimous and humble. A-DesiFlava is always eager and excited to hear from you. Do write to me with your thoughts and ideas. We hope, with each issue, we are enriching our experiences together.

Preeti Sharma One of the most compassionate persons, Preeti shows that every being deserves love and kindness – even her furry babies. Adopting three rescue puppies, Preeti shares the story of the turmoil her youngest, Indigo, has been through.



Modesty in Modernity


Home Herb Garden


The Best Mangoes in the World


Tripping Over Taiwan


Hong Kong’s Top Indian Chefs


Little Indigo’s Long Fight


For The Joy Of Giving – Dr. David Harilela

Cover Story


Special Story




Women in Business


Food For Thought

While Ago

She Ventures

36 32

Aunty MVP







Volume 8.3 Hong Kong first lifestyle magazine for south Asians





(Chief Editor)

Phone: +852 643 48876 Email:

Gaurav Pardeshi Brinda Khandwala (Managing Editor)


Neha Gaurav Pathak





The ABCS Weekend

Trippin’ Over Taiwan




Dr. David Harilela


In The Mood


Top Indian Chefs in HK FEATURE




PRINTED BY: 01 PRINTING LIMITED Suite M, M/F, Tower 3, 448 kwun Tong Road, Kwun Tong Industrial Center, Kwun Tong, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 2811 1183

DISCLAIMER: No part of this magazine may be reproduced in any form without permission. The publisher, layout designer, Contributors, their employees and partners are not responible for the results of any actions, error or omissions take on the basis of information contained in theis publication and expressly disclaim all and any liablity for any such action of any person. The views expressed in A-Desiflava are not necessarily those of the publisher, editor layout designer or contributors. The publisher, layout designer and editor cannot he held responsible for difference of opinion or statements published in good faith. The mention of specific companies or products in articles or advertisments does notimply that the are endorsed or recommended by this magazine or its publisher in preference to other of a similar nature which are not mentioned or advertised.


10 Cover Story

The beauty of diversity, especially in our city, is that it allows us to experience life with refreshingly new perspective from time to time. Brinda Khandwala had the unique opportunity to interact with three amazing women who choose to wear their faith in their fashion

Modesty in Modernity


Met with the ‘hijab brigade’, as I like to call them, over coffee and a conversation that remains amongst my most memorable ones. Samu Fathima, a homemaker and mother of two girls, Zarifa Sheik, Chemistry teacher at HKUGA College and Zulaiha Zulfika, first year BSc. student at CUHK were casually dropping wisdom bombs at every odd question of mine. Let’s start from the start – I first saw Zarifa and Zulaiha at their community’s sports event where the duo was volunteering on the mic and score board along with many others. My initial reaction was that of surprise, owing to years of stereotyping set in the mind, to see hijab-clad women out and active on the field. I took a moment to reset the mind with – hey, why the surprise? These girls are as modern as any other in Hong Kong. Their values, upbringing and education – just as solid. Then why judge them by their garb and not their gumption?

Samu Fathima So, few weeks later I met them, more to clear my own judgmental thinking, and otherwise to share their perspective with you. From the quaint town at the very south of India, Kayalpatnam, Fathima, a graduate in Computer Science, came to Hong Kong 17 years ago after her marriage to Mr. Seyed Ismail. She has two daughters, ages 16 and eight. She explained, “The literal translation of hijab is ‘barrier’ or ‘covering’.” Fathima reveals that as a child she dreamt of being a doctor. After her graduation and marriage, she continued doing online courses and hoped to make a career in computer programming. But with time and responsibilities, her plans for life changed. Her passion for learning led her to study and gain deeper understanding ofthe Islamic scriptures.

Cover Story

From what age have you been wearing the hijab?

Zulaiha Zulfika And then there’s Zulaiha, the little firecracker who says things that can go down as famous quotes! Carefully listening to all my questions, giving to due thought, she makes profound and thoughtprovoking statements. She hopes to be an educator someday but isn’t rushed into deciding anything yet. Every day she spends a few minutes mulling over which hijab goes well with her outfitof-the-day. “Yes, major fashion choices are made around it. It’s a chore to look through what you have and match your hijab around it. We all have more hijabs that clothes!” she laughs.

Zulaiha: We’re supposed to start wearing after puberty – so by age 10 or 11 most of us are wearing it. Before that I wore it to special occasions and while going to the mosque, out of respect. But unlike most others, I started wearing it sooner than I was asked to. A lot of my friends were wearing it, so I wanted to too. In fact, my mom was like – ‘eventually you have to wear it for all your life then why start early’! I may not have understood its entire significance then. But I have been attending religion classes where we are taught its importance and now it’s a part of my identity. What is the significance of wearing the hijab? Are you in agreement with it? Fathima: When I started wearing it, back in India, it was because all the women in the house – my mother, my aunts, wore it. I then learned that we are instructed by our lord to do so, as a means for fulfilling his commandment for ‘modesty’. The quran talks about it in chapter 24 verse 31 and chapter 33 verse 59. Today, I see the benefits – it protects us from harm and abuse. And lessens incidents of harassment in public places. Do you remember ever resisting it? Zarifa: Yes, at the beginning when I was asked to wear it to school. Not many of my community friends had started wearing it at that time. So, I felt awkward, only in that area – in school, being the only one wearing it. Imagine one day you’re not wearing something and the next day onwards you have to. Like everything new, I remember questioning it at that time but still obeying. It felt like having two identities – one with the community kids where I would love to wear it and another at school where I felt is it necessary, especially during sports. I was resisting internally. But that was then. Now if I were to step out without it, I’d be totally freaked out! Fathima: Yes! I’d feel undressed. Do you wear it because you’re religious? Zarifa: Just because you’re wearing the hijab, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re very faithful. You may not be wearing one and still be religious. You can be modern and religious. Often we see girls wearing it in front of their families and then taking it off once they’re out.

Zarifa Sheik If we were to judge by looks again, Zarifa looks like a teen. But she’s a teacher. The ‘no nonsense’ type. She says she prefers the old school ways when students took notes instead of screenshots and the computer was meant for research and not games. She works hard on her lesson plans, often taking work back home. But there’s no complains. “Compared to other countries, Hong Kong pays teachers well,” she says. And to let her secret out – she thoroughly understands Cantonese! So, when she’s commuting or when her students are chatting, she picks up on their talks without letting them know. Sometimes it’s comments about her, and she lets it pass. “But once a student was talking about me, and I had to let him know that I understood every nasty thing he said. After that, the word kind of spread that I can understand their language, so no one has spoken anything ill around me.”

Zulaiha: That’s when they feel forced into it. Some of my friends are rebellious or lack confidence in wearing the hijab. Parents are more accepting in allowing them time to decide but the community puts pressure. Personally, the religion classes have a major impact in my life. It’s a beautiful scene to witness – community people of all ages gather. Those couple of hours that some words of wisdom go in my head has helped shape who I am. Is there lack of freedom of choice? Zarifa: I don’t think freedom of choice is based on a piece of cloth. It may seem like our women don’t have freedom because women in the past weren’t allowed to educate themselves. The Indian culture masks religion. Religion by itself is never against education. But parents nowadays are more open-minded. Fathima: Liberty isn’t about revealing your body. In fact, loose, modest clothing helps in prevention of objectification of women. Your garment instantly reveals your identity. Are you okay with that? Zarifa: Of course, I do understand that when people see me in a hijab they assume I am Muslim. It’s a nice way to preach your religion. When you’re seen showing kindness or doing charity, it speaks well about your religion.


12 Cover Story

“I don’t think freedom of choice is based on a piece of cloth. The Indian culture masks religion. Religion by itself is never against education.” Zarifa Sheik Have you ever been made to feel a misfit in Hong Kong? Zulaiha: Never. Hong Kong is a much more accepting place than other foreign cities. But it is funny how we are too much of a Hong Konger for India and too Indian for Hong Kong. When we go back to our hometown, which is near Chennai, we are a little foreign for them. And it’s the same here. So, it’s like we remain a little foreign for both places.

Fathima: Its nice when people are accepting your choice even when the may not agree or understand. I’ve never felt isolated here. Do you miss out on fashion trends? Fathima: We are against that standard of feminine beauty which demands exposure. For us, fashion is in choosing the patterns and colours of our hijab and burkha. How to you face discrimination? Zulaiha: There are a lot of ways we are boxed into categories anyway. If not for the hijab it’ll be for our skin colour. An added layer of judgement doesn’t bother me personally. For me, it’s a constant reminder of my faith. It keeps

me aware of how I act with my friends, especially the opposite gender. Does it keep you on your path of god? Fathima: Yes, it shows our submission to god. We feel close to Allah by obeying his instruction. Its not only in Islam but other religions and cultures of the world too where women are to wear loose clothing. Like even in Christianity, nuns dress a certain way. Zulaiha: If a nun or sister is to dress like that, they are seen as being on the path of their religion. Then when I wear the hijab, why criticize? Is it that Muslims are more religious that other faiths? Zarifa: I think Muslim women

Cover Story

“There are a lot of ways we are all boxed into categories anyway. If not for the hijab it’ll be for our skin colour. An added layer of judgement doesn’t bother me personally." Zulahia Zulfika

practice their religion more. Like in Christianity we usually just see nuns and sisters in modest clothing. I don’t know why that is. Maybe the women want to fit into the modern world in that way. Fathima: The hijab doesn’t stop us from being modern – participating in the community, studying, having a career… there are so many success stories of hijab-wearing women. What are your thoughts on a hijabi leading lady (Alia Bhatt as Safeena) in the recent Bollywood blockbuster - Gully Boy?

“Today, I see the benefits – it protects us from harm and abuse. And lessens incidents of harassment in public places.” Samu Fathima

Zulaiha: Growing up, I longed to see women, like actresses or ones in the public eye, acting or doing what they do in their hijab. It’s nice to have that representation. It’s easier for people to accept something if they see other people doing it. Having such movies or tv show presentations would’ve made life a lot easier. Even if Muslim actresses now would act with their

hijab more, it would give me more confidence that I can look good wearing an additional piece of clothing over my head. Maybe Alia Bhatt’s representation serves as an encouragement to young girls to wear the hijab. Instead of seeing this piece of clothing as something that oppresses us, people will accept it as a part of us. Because a more and more hijabi women are breaking the glass ceiling. These movies are inclusive and accepting to races we are all becoming now. On a lighter note, do you ever miss showing off hairstyles? Fathima: We definitely do different hairstyles but the difference is that we don’t show those. Girls at their young age of 9 or 10 cover their head and it becomes a part of their identity. Even if some young girls from a practicing Muslim community miss showing their hair, they eventually know about the significance of hijab as they get older. Zarifa: I don’t really miss doing hairstyle and to show them to strangers. I still get the chance to show off my hairstyles to my significant others. I actually enjoy the fact that sometimes I don’t need to style my hair, and no one will know! Zulaiha: Sometimes it is depressing when we go to gatherings and parties where people show off their hairstyles where we cover up our hair. But then we know we are doing this for god. We also understand it isn’t necessary that you show your hair to look beautiful or feel beautiful. If you’re beautiful on the inside, that beauty will illuminate on the outside. Sometimes it’s a pity that you have pretty hair but you can’t show it but then again, I never have a bad hair day! I’ve never felt too bad about it. It doesn’t feel like a disadvantage. In fact, I am at an advantage because people look at me for who I am and not for my exterior.

Photos by Azake Rahman Alia Bhatt as Safeena Firdausi in Gully Boy


16 Home


GARDEN Hong Kong may be small in terms of house size but the ingenious ones, like Meenakshi Gupta, manage to find space and resources to indulge in hobbies they are passionate about. She shares how easy it is to grow and care for an herb garden in your home

• Yet another way is to hunt for seed packets from department stores like Aeon, Muji and Ikea which carry them to encourage green living. Several toy stores also stock them for children. These come in cute little pots with step-by-step instructions • Of course, its great when it comes from friends who can share from their growing stems. Or when one is leaving the city and is looking for a new home for their green babies. Holy basil, or tulsi, as we know it, often moves homes like that. For your kitchen garden, you may buy a little mint plant from the market, but it sure grows and keeps growing! Basil, on the other hand, can be planted easily instead of buying a potted plant. Buy a few fresh stalks from the wet market, strip its leaves for use in cooking and stick the stalks in an empty pot filled with soil. Water it well and you will see new leaves sprouting within no time. This technique can also be tried with green chillies and cherry tomatoes. It will take a little longer but when the first chilli or the first tomato appears on your plant – the feeling of pride is priceless! Some of the basic plants I grow in my kitchen garden…


ome of us are lucky to have balconies to make a little space for potted plants; the rest of us - we grow our herbs on the kitchen window or use the ledge outside. There’s nothing more joyful than using your homegrown greens for your cooking. All you need is a window sill and some TLC!

Where to buy? • The most obvious place would be the flower market at Prince Edward. In this sprawling market, you will discover most herbed plants along with numerous varieties of fresh flowers • Your local wet market could also serve as a good starting point – there is usually at least one shop selling plants and fresh flowers in Aberdeen, North Point, Quarry Bay, Tung Chung, Wan Chai and Sham Shui Po to name just a few popular ones.The lane markets of Wan Chai and Central also have plenty of such shops to buy plants, pots and gardening supplies • If the above options do not work for you – hunt for your favourite plants at Japan Home and PARKnSHOP– the large ones have a plant section where you might find your greens

Mint is a perennial plant, much-loved for its use in salads, chutneys, garnish andof course, flavouringthe morning chai and weekend mojitos! If you want the fresh minty fragrance in your house; it is the ideal herb to grow on your window sill. The easiest way to start would be a store-bought mint plant. See how rapidly it replenishes its leaves after you chop them off for cooking. Basil is used extensively in cooking of Italian and Thai cooking. It’s another aromatic plant which will leave your home fragrant. The leaves bruise easily so roll them up to chop finely for salads or to enhance taste in Thai curries and other preparations.


Cherry tomatoes and green chillies take their time to fruit. Reserve a few seeds next time you use cherry tomatoes or green chillies. Sprinkle into soil ready pots. Water gently for a few days and you will see saplings shooting up within no time. It takes more than a month for the flowers to appear and later still before you see a small green tomato or a little chilly – just be patient. Don’t give up on the plants too soon.

Aloe Vera does not require much care in terms of water or soil change. It is also quite a hardy plant and grows well even tucked into a corner. The benefits of aloe vera are well known and much written about. Not only does it soothe the sun-baked skin, it also helps heal

ordinary cuts and burns as well as overall skin hydration. In addition to these plants, you can also grow other Indian herbs such as curry leaves and coriander, and western herbs like oregano, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, sage, parsley and cilantro. Whatever herb or even flowering plant you wish to grow, look after it well and see how it enriches your cooking experience. A few simple tricks will ensure that your plants survive and thrive…

• Most herbed plants require plenty of water, a little bit of sunshine and lots of love and conversation! Surely, talking helps – all the gardening books say so! For the rest – use the water that you soak dal and rice in.Instead of emptying it out in the sink, pour it into another vessel and empty it into your plants. You are reusing and conserving a precious natural resource.


• I f making tea without sugar you can utilize the wet tea leaves and pour them directly into the soil. Again, going green. Homemade insect repellent – one you will not mind using in your kitchen. Add 1 tbsp of cinnamon powder to a jug of water and leave overnight. Boil the same, let it cool before pouring into a spray bottle. Aim on the leaves. This spray effectively prevents the little buggers on the plants from ever bugging you again. • O  nce in a long while use a small fork to gently dig into the soil at the rim of your plant. This airs out the soil around the roots. Be careful not to nick the roots. You might have to use your fingers; don’t be afraid of getting your fingernails dirty! • I f the soil is looking too dark and acquiring a dark green tinge, ease off the water for a few days - you’ve probably overwatered it. Plants bring much joy and harmony into our busy lives. Taking care of plants can become an extremely rewarding and fulfilling activity. So, go ahead and plant something and you shall have a thriving little kitchen garden in no time.

Time for Weekdays Dinner Lunch Try CHICKEN BIRYANI @ ROTIKING


18 In The Mood



iving in Hong Kong, we are already spoilt for choices when it comes to fruits. From the everyday to the exotic, we get the best of tropical fruits. But nothing comes close to that feeling we get when our carton of a dozen Alphonos arrives! Yes, it’s that time of the year, when the most awaited fruit of the year makes its brief appearance – the alphonso mango from India! Typically, available from mid-April to mid-July, Alphonso mangoes are considered the world’s best mangoes because of the intense sweetness, dense flesh and rich texture. It’s like summer in a bite!

Original Alphonso mangoes are primarily grown in Maharashtra – mostly Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg and Raigad. The ones of highest quality are grown in Ratnagiri, and these fetch the highest price. Though cultivated across a small region, they are exported almost worldwide – the US, UK, UAE, Europe, Netherlands, Australia, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, China and of course, Hong Kong. Almost 45 per cent of the annual crop is exported. Historically, the Portuguese introduced grafting on the mango trees to produce a new variety which was then names Alphonso after Afonso de Albuquerque, a Portuguese general and military expert who helped establish Portuguese colonies in India. In Hong Kong, the Indian stores are getting filled with the heady sweet ‘n’ warm scent of mangoes. Leaving you with a unique Alphonso recipe that will be a great party starter this season!

You can order mangoes from Indian grocery stores Shop Easy Superstore 2602 6639 (Tung Chung) or 2488 8402 (TST)

FRESH MANGOSALSA Ingredients 2 firm, ripe mangoes – peeled and diced Half spoon olive oil Half red onion – finely chopped 1 green chilli – finely chopped Half spoon roasted cumin powder 1 spoon fresh lemon juice Salt to taste Finely chopped coriander for garnish Method: in a salad bowl, mix olive oil, chilli, red onion, cumin powder and lemon juice with the pieces of mangoes. Add salt, as per your taste. Garnish with coriander. Best served with homemade nacho chips.

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20 Globetrotter A-Mei Tea House, Jiufen

Day 1 Xinbeitou If you choose to stay in Taipei, start by making your way to Xinbeitou where the Thermal Valley is located. Public transport is great here! Just two quick trains, and you’re on the special train for Xinbeitou. Once, out of the station, Google maps will guide you well. First on the route is the Xinbeitou branch of the Taipei Public Library, it has a unique design and open balconies offering you a good view of the valley below. Next is the Beitou Hot Spring Museum (free admission) showcasing the history of the area as well as the geological occurrence that formed the valley and the rare minerals found in the water there. To soak up in these minerals you can step into the hot spring bath located next door fora NT$40 admission fee. Another five-minute walk up the hill leads to the Thermal Valley, also known as Hell Valley.

Tripping over Taiwan


There are plenty better known ‘long weekend’ destinations from Hong Kong – Macau, Shenzen, Guangzhou, Beijing and more for a quick trip,but Taiwan may not be listed among the top ones. Here’s why wanderluster Komal Lakhani-Shankar recommends it over the popular picks Taipei is an hour and a half away from Hong Kong with direct flights every 30 minutes during peak hours. The city has a lot to offer in terms of sights, food, shopping, and nightlife. And if city life is what you are running away from then you can explore the quaint and quiet towns in the southern, eastern or western part of the country.

Beitou Thermal Valley

The Thermal Valley is a pool of water sunken into a crater that’s constantly boiling and too hot to touch. Since I was there in Spring with the temperature being below 18 degrees Celsius, I did not mind the mystical hot steam (can’t say the same for my hair), but as summer approaches it will be hard to stand still near the smoking jade coloured water for more than a few minutes. You can spend half a day here exploring a few more museums up the hills or make your way to the next destination.


Day 2

Caption: Taipei 101

Temple outside Raohe Night Market

Raohe Night Market claims to be open till 1 AM, though places start shutting down post-midnight. It’s a good place to shop for clothes, accessories, souvenirs…you could also get a massage and try local food.

Taipei 101 Take the train back going towards Xiangshan and alight at Taipei 101 / World trade centre stop. Taipei 101 held the record of the world’s tallest building from 2004 – 2010 till the completion of Burj Khalifa in Dubai.Hop onto one of fastest elevators in the world that take you from the fifth to the 89th floor (observation desk) in 37 seconds! Tickets cost NT$ 600. The outdoor deck on the 91st floor is open only when the weather allows it. The decks offer a panoramic view of the city. While you are there, check out the world largest and heaviest 660 ton golden wind damper that keeps the tower stable through typhoons and earthquakes. You can also shop for 101 souvenirs here and take photos with the Damper Baby, their mascot.On your way down see the world’s largest coral carving as well. The rest of the building houses major brands and eateries so you have plenty to do there.

The other market we visited was the Xiamending Walking District where we stayed for one night. If you love being smack in the middle of all the hustle-bustle then I would recommend staying in this area. It’s one train stop away from the ‘Main Station’ (Taipei’s version of Central/ Hong Kong station). There are bars and pubs right next to the train station, around the Ximen Red House. The walking district located a few meters away is spacious and lined with branded and local stores. The rest of the place is occupied with food joints, street carts, spas, and arcades. Arcading is big in Taiwan. They have rows and rows dedicated to the crane games also known as ‘merchandiser’, where you use a claw or crane to pick up stuff-toys. These arcades are surprisingly populated by adults and many are open 24 hours a day! Oyster Omelette at Ximen Walking District

Night Life If you still have the energy at the end of Day 1 you must immerse yourself into Taipei’s vibrant nightlife, which some might argue is better than Hong Kong’s. Besides the regular bar and club scene what’s fascinating are the night markets. Night markets open around 6 PM and there are several to choose from in various parts of the city. ShilinNight Market (Jiantan station) is the biggest and most ‘touristy’ market in Taipei. For a more local feel, check out Raohe and Ximending.

Ximen or Ximending is also a great place to try street food and a ton of comfort food. From fried chicken to oyster omelettes, grilled corn, roasted mushrooms, and meat skewers to flaky scallion pancake that almost taste like Kerala parottas – all under NT$100, Ximen is a treat for foodies!

Take a day tour from Taipei to Yehliu, Shifen, and Jiufen. You can take the bus or taxi and head there yourself or book a seat on the tour bus from the designated stop. If you’re booking the tour bus, the benefit is that you don’t have to plan anything yourself. However, the rigid schedule gives you limited time to explore.

Queen’s Head Rock at Yehliu Geo Park

Start off your day at Yehliu. It is a region of sedimentary rocks consisting of a geopark that is a result of weathering which is the decomposition of rocks through direct contact with the planet’s atmosphere. The geopark is home to the famous 4000-year-old Queens Head rock caused due to differential erosion by seawater during curst movement. Since the rock is close to the sea in an active eroding climate it is said that the ‘queen’s neck’ might snap from the weight of the head in about 100 years.

Shifen Waterfall


22 Globetrotter From there you can head to Shifen; a small town with a railroad running right in the middle of Shifen Old Street is also used as a tarmac for sky lanterns. Lanterns prices start from NT$150 and are available in different colours for different wishes. You can write messages on the lantern get pictures clicked and then send it on its way. Or you can buy mini lanterns to take home for keepsake. Here, try the famous chicken wings stuffed with rice, which used to be the meal of the miners, giving them enough energy to survive an exhausting workday. A kilometer away from the town is the Shifen Waterfall the biggest of its kind in Taiwan. At a height of 40 meters, it creates a billowing mist in the river below. The sound of the waterfall is rather calming, I could sit there for hours watching it.

Jiufen used to be a gold mining town during the Japanese era. This quaint place was re-popularised by the Japanese anime movie Spirited Away. Located on a mountain it is like a maze with narrow lanes and alleys and something to be discovered at each corner. Tea houses and food stalls dominate the markets. You can also buy leather, clothes, souvenirs and traditional Taiwanese candy here. As you continue walking around you are greeted with views of the Pacific Ocean and hills, and a temple above with its intricate design.

Temple in Jiufen

Day 3

Pine Garden

Hualien County is on the east coast of Taiwan is a twohour fast train ride away from Taipei. You can book a guided tour when you get there or better yet book one online before going. Train tickets can be booked at the Main Station or any 7-Eleven stores across Taipei. Some time slots tend to sell out faster than others so it’s good to book your tickets at least a day or two in advance. Hualien is famous for its natural beauty. For our day tour, the bus picked us up near the station (they also have hotel pickups). Our first stop was the Pine Garden which houses an ex Japanese military command post proving a clear view of the harbour for identifying ships and aircraft coming into Hualien. The building was hard to detect since it was hidden behind a dense cover of the pine trees. Now the gardens feature the main building with historic artefacts, a cafe, and a souvenir shop. Next, we stopped by a place called Jia Curry for lunch. This is a Japanese-inspired wooden restaurant with panelled windows. It had a decent food selection and a vibrant atmosphere. There will be a minimum charge of NT$ 100 here. However, the staff does not understand English and most of the menu is in Mandarin. My suggestion is to grab breakfast before you hop on for your tour and avoid eating in the restaurants recommended by the tour guide, especially if you are on a budget.

View from Cingshuei Cliff

Finally, we left the city and made our way to the mountains. After some winding roads, our first stop was Cingshuei Cliff which offers panoramic views of the deep blue waters and landscaped mountains. The Chongde Trail that starts just below the cliff leads down to the beach but be cautious since the trail could have poisonous snakes and wasps. After taking in the ocean air we found ourselves at Eternal Spring Shrine. From a distance, it appears to crown a mesmerising waterfall in the middle of a mountain. Cloudy skies, lush green mountains drenched in rain, a gushing grey river and an iconic red suspension bridge made me put away my camera and soak in the raw beauty. We drove from the river to a plateau and stopped at the BuluowanTerrace. Buluowan is a large hill-top terrace with a walking trail and exhibition halls where visitors can learn about the culture of tribes like Shisanhang and the Truku (Taroko) who were the early settlers of the region.

Globetrotter Gorge at Swallow Grotto

Finally, we put on our hard hats and set off on the Swallow Grotto Trail located within the Taroko National Park which is full of marvellous gorges. With the river running in between, both sides of the gorge having natural caves, home to the swallow bird. One of the cliffs in the gorge resembles an Indian chief and is called the Indian Chieftain Rock. The rocks on one side of the river are marble rocks and can be easily identified by its design and the marble effect. The last stop on our tour was Chihsingtan which was a pebble stone beach. You cannot walk bare feet here. The big white waves and blue water make for beautiful views. After the tour we had a few hours to kill, so we decided to explore Hualien city and boy, were we happy to do so! Besides a host of eateries, Hualien is also a bargain shopper’s paradise. We walked around Zhongzheng Road, Zhonghua Road, and Zhongshan Road and shopped till we almost missed our train back to Taipei! With clothes retailing at NT$ 100, can you blame us?

HELPFUL TIPS FOR NAVIGATING TAIWAN 1. Currency – New Taiwan Dollar (NTD, NT$, TWD). One HK$ is approximately 4 NT$. 2.MRT – Train system and train tickets are cash only. The Airport MRT is like our Airport Express. The cost to the MainStation from the airport is NT$ 150. 3.The bus station located at Terminal 1 offers direct buses to multiple stops and is a tad cheaper than the Airport MRT 4. The Easy card works like the Hong Kong Octopus card and can be picked up at the airport 5. Sim cards or portable Wi-Fi devices can be prebooked online and picked up at the airport 6. If you want to save some cash skip the Taipei 101 Observatory and hike up to Elephant Mountain to get a good view of the skyline 7. Most people don’t speak English well so keep your translator app handy or brush up on your Mandarin 8. 7-Eleven and Family Mart are the chain retail stores where you can grab almost anything even at late night hours. Family Mart does not accept all major credit cards 9. Have enough cash on hand. An average meal will cost you anywhere from NT$ 60 to 300 10. Carry your own water bottle, there are many places where you can refill it Photos by Komal Lakhani-Shankar

Staying overnight or are taking a late-night train? Why not check out the Dongdamen or Tungtamen night market. Food stall in Hualien City

Day 4 Visit a museum. If you love history or art Taipei has a plethora of free and paid museums to choose from. Spend an anfternoon admiring art at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum or be transported back in time while looking at the artefacts at the National Palace Museum. If you still have a few hours before you fly and are looking for some not so expensive retail therapy,visit Taipei City Mall, located underground you can access it directly from the main station or take a taxi to one of the several overground entrances. The mall has clothing, accessories footwear, bed and bath linen, and video games. Half of this underground tunnel is a gamer’s paradise. Here you can buy video games, anime themed toys and memorabilia, consoles and everything else one could dream of. Another material Taipei City Mall is famous for is Jade. You won’t find the finest quality here but have fun with some impulse buys of jade-like rings, bangles, lockets, statues and more. Other underground malls are Zhongshan Metro Mall and K Underground both of which can be accessed from the Main Station. Underground malls are great alternatives to street shopping or night markets if the weather is not on your side. There, you have it – a fourday trip to Taiwan. If you find yourself with some free time you can also scout out Taipei new city which is just short ride away. You can always switch up the places you want to visit or reduce the number of attractions depending on how intense you want your travel to be. photos by Komal Lakhani-Shankar










For a gr eat

perience x E ry a lin


Tsim Sha Tsui

Opp Hung Hom MTR

Authentic Indian Veg Cuisine Vegan Options Available Executive Buffet

Authentic Indian Cuisine Sheesha Lounge Outdoor Terrace

Indian & Thai Cuisine Contemporary Dining Casual Modern Setting

Tel: 2520 5308

Tel: 2367 0555

Tel: 2330 7950 FB: /KhanaKhazanaHK FB: /LegendsHKG FB: /Spice8

1st Floor, Dannies House, 20 Luard Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong

4/F Winfield Commercial Building, 6-8A Prat Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon

Shop 749-750, 7/F, The Metropolis Mall, 6 Metropolis Drive, Hung Hom

Restaurants | Catering | Parties | Events | Delivery

26 Feature

Hong Kong’s top Indian


Komal Lakhani-Shankar goes into the kitchens of Hong Kong’s leading Indian restaurants to get to know the people behind our favourite foods You can take Indians out of India, but you can’t take the India out of us! Especially when it comes to desi food. Though we make it at home regularly, there are some things we love indulging in when dining out – like perfectly charred tandoori chicken with the softest roomali roti, creamy paneer tikka, rich handi biryani, steamed idlis, crisp dosas or guilt-laden samosas! The restaurant servers, being our point of contact, know how much we love the food, particularly when we’re leaving a generous tip at the table. But how often do we personally compliment the chefs for that delicious meal? Meeting them personally was my chance to tell these wonderfully talented men how much I’ve always enjoyed their preparations; and my chance to know about their journeys from the peninsula.

Gurnek Singh, Spice Restaurant & Bar

“I have spent most of my adult life in London and Hong Kong.” Gurnek Singh

Malick Kalim Ali, Anjappar Chettinad Indian Restaurant

started by washing dishes in a busy Indian restaurant there. Soon he was included in the chef’s team for chopping and other daily preparations for the cooking process. Noticing his innate skills, the chefs there started giving him more responsibility and showing him the ropes around the professional kitchen. After spending a few years in London and a visit to India, Gurnek secured a job in a Hong Kong restaurant, Jojo. He took a liking to the city and soon joined Spice Restaurant & Bar as their head chef.

Where all has your food journey taken you? Gurnek Singh, Spice Restaurant & Bar (Knutsford Terrace) An absolute introvert, Gurnek Singh of Spice hails from Bajuha Kalan, a small village near Jalandhar in Punjab. He’s been in Hong Kong for 21 years now. He recalls cooking at home as a young man. He used to help his mom by making the rotis while she prepared the rest of the meal. He entered the profession to support his family when the times got tough. “I got an opportunity to go to London, so without a second thought, I grabbed it,” he says. With no prior experience in the F&B industry, Gurnek had a modest beginning to his career. He

I have spent most of my adult life in London and Hong Kong. Walk us through your food preparation routine here at Spice We marinate our meats the previous night, everything else is prepared fresh every morning.

What is your signature dish? Butter Chicken and Chicken Chettinad, with a north Indian touch.

Do you cook for your family? I always cook for my family on my day off. My children love Palak Paneer, so I wake up early and prepare the food so that it’s ready in time for me to enjoy it with them.


Nagendra Singh, Curry Lounge Restaurant & Bar

Vikash Chand Curry Lounge Restaurant & Bar

Your favourite dish Lamb Biryani

What cooking tip would you like to give our readers? We use less oil in our cooking here at Spice and you should do the same at home, especially while cooking meat. Meat has its own fat that comes out in the cooking process which helps in cooking and enhancing the flavour of the dish.

“I didn’t choose Hong Kong, rather Hong Kong chose me.” MalickKalim Ali

Muniyani Rajagopalan, Saravana Bhava

that Malick join the team and bring his experience here to establish the Anjappar brand in Hong Kong. “I didn’t choose Hong Kong, rather Hong Kong chose me,” he laughs. He’s often homesick and gets tearyeyed when talking about his family. Malick was born in a small town called Jagatsinghpur in Odisha and started working at the age of 14 to support his family. His mama (maternal uncle) introduced him to the food industry since he was in the catering business himself.His first job was of a busboy, doing dishes. At age 20 he started cooking and got his first cooking job in Bangalore. At first, it was just a means to an end, “But with time, the work got more interesting,” he says. His ‘ustaad’ Sheikh Jangir from Oddissa showed him the ropes.Later Hasan Qurishi from the ITC group taught him everything about North Indian and Chinese cuisine.

Where all has your food journey taken you? Malick Kalim Ali, Anjappar Chettinad Indian Restaurant (TST) Though he is a part of the Anjappr family for 10 years, Malick Kalim Ali started working in the Hong Kong branch only six months ago. The restaurant’s manager Mr. Sheik insisted

I’ve worked across various branches of Anjappar - Malaysia, Chennai, Cochin and now Hong Kong. Walk us through your food preparation routine here at Anjappar I make all the masalas and marinades myself. I have been entrusted with the company’s secret recipes.

Pankaj Badoni, Khana Khazana (Wan Chai) My manager and I go to the wholesale market at 2 AM every other day to select vegetables and fresh cuts of meat and seafood. We check everything thoroughly before buying. What is your signature dish? Dal Makhani, Butter Chicken masala and Rani Sikandar. Do you cook for your family? My family loves sweets like gajar halwa and dilkhush; appetisers like chilly chicken and chicken tikki. I cook for them when I’m in India. My kids especially request for my food citing that they don’t want to eat their mother's food anymore (he chuckles). Your favourite dish Small prawns cooked different ways. What cooking tip would you like to give our readers? Don’t use Ajinomoto in your cooking to enhance the flavour. Instead use handmade masalas. When it comes to fresh meat make sure not to over wash it because that drains the flavour away, generally one good wash is enough. Lastly, don’t worry if your home-cooked tandoori items don’t have the same flavour as the restaurants, because it’s difficult to achieve that smoky flavour without an actual tandoor.


28 Feature

“My wife, who is a yoga teacher,is vegetarian so she often asks me to make momos for her.”

“Eat more vegetables, they are an excellent source of vitamins, proteins and all other healthy nutrients the body needs.”

Vikash Chand

Nagendra Singh

Vikash Chand & Nagendra Singh, Curry Lounge Restaurant & Bar (Tung Chung) Vikash Chand, Head Chef and Nagendra Singh Specialty Curry Chef at Curry Lounge are natives of Uttarakhand – the place with the highest volume of male chefs than most parts of India, they say. The duo met four years ago while working in Mumbai. Vikash is from Dehradun and Nagendra, from Mussoorie. They both have been in this line of work for over 10 years now and have worked in various restaurants around the world before coming to Hong Kong nine months ago. While

“When I’m back home, I crave for my mother’s cooking, so she prepares some meals for me.” Muniyani Rajagopalan

Muniyani Rajagopalan, Saravana Bhavan (TST) From Ramanathapuram in Tamil Nadu, Rajagopalan is the ideal employee any organisation can hope for. He has been with Saravana Bhavan for 20 years. He learned everything from scratch in their kitchen from cutting and chopping to making the dosas, then rising up to become the ‘tandoor master’ and now head chef. He started his career at their Chennai branch and came to Hong Kong five years ago when his boss recommended him for the position. Like many others, he started cooking at a young age, learning from his mom. Where all has your food journey taken you? Malaysia, Muscat and Hong Kong. Walk us through your food preparation routine here at Saravana Bhavan I go to the vegetable market every two days to select fresh vegetables. Here at Saravana Bhavan our prep time starts

at 6 AM and we make everything fresh in the morning. In fact, the chutney is freshly prepared every two hours. What is your signature dish? Mushroom Rogan Sauce Do you cook for your family? My family mostly prefers vegetarian food, especially Vegetable Biryani and Paneer butter masala. When I am back in India, I cook only on special occasions - for big family dinners or when my children really insist. Generally, my wife cooksbut when I’m back home, I crave for my mother’s cooking, so she prepares some meals for me. Your favourite dish Veg Kolhapuri What cooking tip would you like to give our readers? Freshness is the key to cooking so try and make your masalas at home and use them while they are still fresh.


both these chefs had a passion for food since they were kids, Vikash was inspired by his dad who used to help his mom in the kitchen, and Nagendra was inspired by his mom. Vikash’s elder brother is a chef currently working in Canada and Nagendra’s father is a farmer who thought him the best ways to use fresh produce. These family influences combined with their love for cooking nudged them into becoming chefs. Like the other chefs,they have had no formal training and learned everything on the job. Where all has your food journey taken you? Vikash: Mumbai, South Africa, Jamaica and Hong Kong. Nagendra: Mumbai, Thailand, St Petersburg in Russia and Hong Kong.

“When you pour your heart into your food, it will strike a chord with the person eating it.” Pankaj Badoni

Walk us through your food preparation routine here at Curry Lounge

Your favourite dish

We make the list every day and have the groceries delivered to us. We started daily preparations at 10.30 AM

Nagendra: Fish curry, lamb curry, and Palak Paneer made by my mom which I really miss.

What is your signature dish?

What cooking tip would you like to give our readers?

Vikash: Tangdi Mumtaz Nagendra:Various curries Do you cook for your family? Vikash: The first thing they ask me to make is ‘samosas’. My wife, who is a yoga teacher,is vegetarian so she often asks me to make momos for her. Nagendra: Everyone in the family has a sweet tooth so I love making to gajar or lauki halwa, especially for my mom. And mix vegetableand chicken curry for my wife.

profession for 10 years and the only chef in this series of interviews who has had formal training. He went to the Maurya Institute of Hotel Management, where he gained theoretical and practical knowledge of the hotel and food industry. His skills were further developed during his long tenure with the Taj Group, with his first break being with Taj Deccan in Hyderabad. Pankaj came to Hong Kong on the recommendation of a friend who insisted it’s ‘worth a try’. He loves his food being reviewed and says,

Pankaj Badoni, Khana Khazana (Wan Chai) In Hong Kong since just a year, Pankaj Badoni comes from Rishikesh. His dad was in the army and being second in a line of three sons, he felt it was his responsibility to step up and help his mother in the kitchen. He says, “I was lucky to spend that time with mom making rotis for the family. That is where my passion for cooking comes from.” He has been in the

“I really appreciate feedback on my food even when it’s not up to mark. It helps me understand the taste profile that the customers expect and thus improve my food.” Where all has your food journey taken you? Hyderabad, Mussoorie, Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu and Hong Kong. Walk us through your food preparation routine here at Khana Khazana I place the order for everything myself each night and we start preparations at 10 AM every day.

Vikash: Masala Chicken,

Vikash: Mutton is best cooked at home when it’s marinated for a long time or overnight, and slow cooked and well mixed. Nagendra: Fresh vegetables are very important, the fresher they are the better they taste. One should eat more vegetables, they are an excellent source of vitamins, proteins and all other healthy nutrients the body needs.

What is your signature dish? Veg Hyderabadi Biryani Do you cook for your family? Before heading home to Rishikesh, I always stop by my mama’s place in Delhi. He is the one to nudge me into becoming a professional chef, since he is in the food industry as well. So, I insist on making my signature biryani for him. Once I’m home, I indulge in my mother’s cooking. I do end up cooking at some point, the family always demands that I make my non-vegetarian dishes, which usually includes a mutton curry among other things. Your favourite dish Pani Puri What cooking tip would you like to give our readers? Cook with love and passion, that is what makes home food better than any restaurant food. When you pour your heart into your food, it will strike a chord with the person eating it. Photos by Komal Lakhani-Shankar


30 Special Story

LITTLE INDIGO’S LONG FIGHT Hong Konger since 25 years, Preeti Sharma has been garnering more and more support as she fights for the life of her furry baby – the year-old puppy, Indigo. What appeared to be a minor infection, spiraled into a series of hospital visits, expensive tests and heavy medication at the cost of a suffering little pup. She shares her story so far as we pray together for Little Indigo’s full recovery


eing a single, proud parent to two biological children – handsome big boy (20 years), beautiful darling daughter (18 years) and three furry babies who are the different shades of my life – Shadow, Bailey and Indigo, makes me feel blessed. Growing up with five pets – a cat and four dogs, life has always been ‘animal friendly’. I still remember my trip to a butcher’s place to buy meat for my then pets, when I was all of five years. Witnessing the plight animals go through at butcher’s shop (and otherwise where they aren’t looked after) I had then decided to go vegetarian. Moving to Hong Kong back in 1993, trying to find a space for myself in this busy and expensive city, I never dreamt that I would ever have any pet. I always imagines that its very expensive and ‘what if, I am not able to give them better life?’. And here I am, blessed to have not just one but three rescued furry babies, who make my days worth living.

I am an educator, life coach, therapist, a counsellor and have a busy work schedule but my morning starts with licks, wagging tails and endless love from all three of them. I would not call them my pets, or my dogs as they do have names and they belong to the Sharma clan. In fact, Shadow rules the house, while Bailey is the drama queen and my Indigo – what can I say about her- Indigo is my black beauty, my fighter, my role model and she is my pure reflection. Indigo was adopted from Catherine Puppies and in no time, she became the lifeline of our family. Though she had a rough start as both Bailey and Shadow didn’t like her, she stole their hearts with her playful personality and became our little princess. I sleep with her cuddles and wake up to her jumping all over me, licking me! Life with Indigo was all fun till we decided to arrange a spay surgery for her, which now I feel is the biggest mistake I made. Though both Shadow and Bailey had the surgery before and recovered within 48 hours, it didn’t go well with my 7-month old ‘diggy poo’.

A spay is one of the most common surgical procedures performed on female dogs and cats. This surgery removes the uterus and both ovaries. The primary reason for performing a spay is to prevent unwanted pregnancy.

December 17th | The Spay Surgery Indigo had the surgery was brought home the same evening. We felt that the procedure went well and that we don’t have to worry anymore about her. But that’s when the actual worry started. Within 18 hours of the surgery, Indigo had withdrawal symptoms, running a high fever, drooling a lot and laid seemingly lifeless. Unlike her usually self, she stayed in her bed all day. We made numerous calls to the vet and were assured each time that it would all get better. That didn’t happen. Instead, her condition worsened, and we had to rush her to the hospital. The doctors prescribed antibiotics and she was sent home. Having full faith in the vet, we came back home, and fed the medication hoping that her condition will change. It did, as it went much worse than before! We had to rush back to the hospital and this time Indigo was hospitalized for few days. She was loaded with different antibiotics and had to stay in the hospital cage. I had a gut feeling that something went amiss during the first surgery, so I shared that thought with the doctors. However, they reminded us that we signed the disclaimer form and complications are a part of any surgery. While I understand this, there may be a chance of human error and not complications. December 23rd | Getting better Indigo came home on 23rd December, seemingly better. We were given a course of antibiotics to complete, which we religiously


did and thankfully four weeks went fine. Once again, Indigo woke up sick! She had a hunched back, her tail was between her legs, she had trouble walking, she was drooling a lot and was running high fever. This was on 28th January after a complete course of antibiotics and assurance from the clinic. This time when we went back to the vet, we were told that she would need another surgery… a soft tissue surgery done by a specialist. We agreed as we wanted our Indigo back to the life she deserves. February 1st | Second surgery by tissue specialist The surgery was done on 1st February by a specialist, who didn’t explain much to me. What I was told (in brief) is that the surgeon will further into the infection, take samples for biopsy and soon cure Indigo. A lot of tests were run before the surgery. I was constantly under financial, mental and physical pressure. But Indigo is my baby, as her mother I was all in to save her life. The surgery that started at 8pm, went on past midnight as I sat outside, chanting for my baby’s well-being. I saw the surgeon around 12:30am. She said that it all went well, tissues were collected and sent to the lab for investigation. What I was not told at the time that the surgery was conducted to remove the old stitches (sutures from the ovarian stump and the uterus stump). I left for home, feeling relieved that now her pain and miseries will be over, and she will be all better. The next day, I got to see her.Although she was not able to eat or drink, she was responding to me and was wagging her tail and I got a few licks. By 3rd February, Indigo had no fever, no hunchback and she was discharged for home. February 7th | The Checkup She went for her post-op check up on 7th February and we were told by the vet that she was all fine. We believed them. On the 9th the clinic sent me the biopsy report on Whatsapp, without giving me any details of the same. When I asked, the duty vet called to tell me that the report is normal, the tissues collected had ‘no infection’ but we will have to continue the antibiotics for 3 months. When asked why, I was given an explanation that the doctors want to take every precaution to ensure there’s no relapse. I was given absolute assurance that it would not happen ever again. How I wish it was true… March 25th | Relapse Indigo woke on 25th March, again with the hunchback, crying in pain and high fever. She was rushed to the clinic. This time a

senior specialist saw her and sent her back with another set of antibiotics. He also assured that despite being on a two-day leave he will be monitoring Indigoand be available on the phone at all times. He even said he will leave a note on the patient’s history about the same. But none of this could be true. Because that night Indigo was very sick and we were left calling the clinic, pleading them to contact the senior specialist. However, we were told that he is on leave so they can’t connect us. We just couldn’t get hold of him or any other doctor that night. We were guided by the attending nurse, the only person in the whole clinic who was compassionate and caring. I rushed back to the clinic the following day. To my shock and surprise, I was told that the vets would have to cut my Indigo open again to see inside her. They lacked emotion and basic sense, that surgery after surgery on a small pup can’t be the solution. But I requested for an alternate approach before agreeing to yet another surgery. We did several tests and scans. In my heart, I decided to get more professional opinions from outside this vet’s clinic, including overseas, before I commit to the next surgery. The doctors there seemed very confused. They were using carefully calculated words to talk to me as I was getting impatient and came in with too many questions about Indigo’s condition. To some extent I could tell they felt offended. But as a mother, I have the right to inquire about my baby. Each doctor, each time, had something different to say. I needed clarity. I contacted family and friends overseas to give all details. Most of them suggested I ask for a case history because something may have gone wrong in the spay surgery itself. But when I asked the clinic for Indigo’s case history it somehow got them worried. In the meantime, Indigo underwent an abdomen ultrasound and chest X-ray. I was told that all is clear. I was very confused as she did have an infection, the prescribed antibiotics did work at some point, but we had no clue of the site of infection. Yet my Indigo was in deep pain and distress. The doctors recommended a CT scan. Each time I had to put Indigo on a fast, preparing her for the tests. My baby was losing her trust in humans. And with every passing hour she was losing her strength. Meanwhile I managed to get her case history and showed it to another vet. While Indigo was getting the CT scan, I discovered shocking facts about the first two surgeries. I was advised to immediately move her to VSH (Veterinary

Specialist Hospital) – to be monitored under internal medicine specialists. With the new information and a referral from the 2nd vet, I went to see her then current vet. But I was not welcomed. Knowing that I had consulted another vet and was given certain suggestions, they told me that they can’t work on Indigo’s case. I was asked to decide which vet will be in charge. For me, Indigo’s life mattered most. If a specialist’s suggestions would help, I wanted my vet to consider them. Making the move That evening, I remember coming home clueless. I couldn’t take Indigo out of their clinic as she was on IV and antibiotics. I didn’t have another hospital or clinic for her. But VSH took us in. Indigo is blessed to be out of the previous vet. At VSH she was looked after perfectly well. Although she was in much deep pain, high fever, theirdoctor advised Joint fluid test which was performed right then, and she was advised to go home and rest. The medications were cut down and the doctor has been with me in contact since then, via email and phone. I remember sitting at VSH, I had prepared the letter to ask our animal friendly community to help me raise funds for Indigo’s ongoing medication and checkups. The Joint fluid test was nearly 18K and I have lost count on the total amount that I have paid so far for my baby to find the proper diagnosis and treatment. There were many who offered help and I still receive messages from them asking about Indigo’s health. My promise to Indigo and myself, that I would never give up on my children – both biological and furries, I shall always keep. To some Indigo may be just a dog, but to me she is a fighter, an epitome of strength and a beautiful soul who is born to live a mischievous life with her siblings. It’s her right to live just like any other living being. I’ve had 2 surgeries in a span of 40 days, over 100 tests including, but not limited to • Multiple blood test • Blood culture • Urine tests • Urine Culture • Stool culture • X-rays – almost all body parts • Ultra sounds – Abdomen multiple times • CT SCAN – Complete Body • Sepsis Test • Lung Test • Joint Fluid Test

Visit her fb page: Client number: 214455 | Patient number: 112986 Patient name: Indigo | VSH HSBC account: 652-412644-001 Preeti’s HSBC account: 571380799292 Payme: 92004354


32 Philanthropreneur

FOR THE JOY OF GIVING The illustrious entrepreneur, Dr. David Harilela – CEO of Harilela George Limited and HPZI International Limited, shares his profound wisdom on the true meaning of success in a candid conversation with Brinda Khandwala


What are the values you grew up with that continue having an impact in your life? My core values originated from my Grandmother Ami and from my father George Harilela. Both always had great compassion for all, whether rich or poor. My father welcomed anyone at any time to approach him for help. He was super religious and always giving and helping others. I made a promise to him that the minute I was financially stable on my own merits, I would do my best to do my part to help humanity. Since I turned 50, I have not stopped doing this. Between academic achievements and world experiences, which do you feel contribute more to success? For me, world experiences have helped the most. Being street savvy and hardworking have helped me throughout my life tremendously. I have made the bravest moves without thinking of failure, and God has been good to me. What made you take a different path, away from the well-established the family business, to set off on your

Mrs. Avisha and Dr. David Harilela

own at a young age? I worshipped my Dad, but we had different ways of doing business. Dad believed in giving credit to clients and while this may have worked in the old days, people’s integrity had long disappeared. I finally started my own company paying my father HK$11 million for the family trading business in 1984. I took off for South America even though I couldn’t speak a word of Spanish. I got lucky and made contacts with some of the biggest clients there thus securing a good base for my business to grow. Which person has influenced you the most and why? My Dad - he was the best to me ever kind, ever understanding. He was always supportive and open to anything. He remains my idol and I have opened a charity in my parents’ honour called The George and Chandra Harilela Foundation which I alone contribute to. I even wrote a song for him. I wish everybody would love their Dad as I do.

Apart from being a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist, you are also a musician – which role do you enjoy the most? I’m a people person. I was shy for the most part until I got married. Music opened so many doors for me. I enjoy all these different facets of my life, but I am a workaholic. So, even now music comes second in my life. I love entertaining people and my strength is interacting with the audience. Music to me is when the audience get involved and really enjoy. Due to my busy life, I now sing only for charitable organisations like the Community Chest. What drives me is being able to provide enough for my family and having a stable income so I can serve God and others through my philanthropy. How do you maintain a work-life balance? I love travelling with my family. I think I’ve become lazier as I have stopped working on Saturdays over the last 5 years but wherever I am I’m on the computer overseeing my work and my charity works.


34 Philanthropreneur What makes a good humanitarian? Believing in what you do and dedicating yourself 24/7 to grow it. It’s integral that you are also transparent and run a tight ship. I am embarrassed when so many large charities spend over 4050% on overhead expenses. Expenses need to be kept to a minimum to ensure that every free cent goes toward helping the needy. What is your vision for The One? My Vision is to “One-ise” the world and find heroes in every corner of the globe. It started off as an international search for the Mother Teresa of the world. I then realised that heroes in our home city of Hong Kong were often overlooked. With that in mind, I started THE ONE Hong Kong to honour and reward local heroes. I am eternally grateful to Balu Chainrai who has made a lifetime commitment to this cause. Everything I do is a lifelong commitment. Two years ago we launched THE ONE PHILIPPINES. We still have a long way to go. The vision is to set up THE ONE in every major country so we can help their heroes advance the good they do.

Do you see your daughters following your footsteps – in business and philanthropy? I am not sure about the business side as I blame myself for scaring them by being a workaholic and very meticulous. But I am blessed that my eldest Divia continues to grow and she has promised to keep THE ONE going when necessary. I have great kids and when I started THE ONE, Divia has always contributed and has the passion, charisma and the leadership necessary to lead THE ONE. Davina, with her expertise in event management has helped us to set up a perfect infrastructure; and Sheeva with her experience in PR has been instrumental in guiding us in this area. What is your advice to new age entrepreneurs? In my view set up charities that can be eternal. It’s worse if you start something that disappears. Be dedicated and committed always. There will be hard times and good times. Your role is to ride them all out.

Dr. David Harilela’s 10 commandments to a successful life • Follow your heart • Treat others as you would like to be treated • My personal motto is: “In the end the love you take, is equal to the love you give.” • Always be fair to all concerned • Surround yourself with people that have similar principals • Treat those around you like family • Be honest, transparent and integrable • Never stop giving • Always put family first • Always strive to do good – you can never be too young or old

Awarding Jeff Rotmeyer for imparting kindness to the homeless, autistic and down-syndrome communities

36 While Ago

The ABCS Weekend A-DesiFlava Box Cricket Sixes had 14 teams participating in the annual league matches. For the first time, ABCS had two women’s cricket teams competing as well! Started on Friday, 5th April, the three-day series was held at USRC in Jordan.



his year marked the 4th ABCS. Attending the event was former Indian cricketer Nayan Mongia who came in specially from Baroda (India). Speaking about how cricket and Indian’s (ever ywhere) go synonymously, he said, “It’s a kind of a national game that brings people together – of all ages, caste, class, creed… There is so much passion for the game. It’s great to see Indians in every part of the world playing the game with the same passion and bonding over it.” The ace wicket keeper and star cricketer graced the semi-finals and finals with his esteemed presence. His advice to the players was, “Play with the best of your ability and enjoy the game. Box cricket is a format for fun – so make sure you’re having fun.” Last year’s winners, Tung Chung Cricket Club took the trophy yet again as they won against USRC Avengers in the finals. Vivek Shah of the winning team was declared as Man of The Match. The host team, APL Panthers were the second Runners Ups. Team Batting Divas won the women’s trophy.




37 While Ago






Born in India and raised in the UK, I had a successful banking and finance career spanning over 20 years before my eureka moment which led me to my true calling, energy coaching. As the oldest of five kids I learnt to cook, sew and all other domestication very early on. I had a traditional Punjabi upbringing with an emphasis on education leading to a degree in mathematics and corporate/ banking roles for 20 years.  Growing up in the UK and trying to find my place as an Indian woman in a British man dominated banking world had its challenges, not to mention being a wife, daughter-in-law and mother to two boys. I did not do work life balance very well and kept juggling everything as this was all I knew. My husband’s job brought us to Hong Kong where I had time and space to concentrate on ME, work out what I wanted to do next. I was exhilarated living in a foreign country but exhausted, overweight and a little lost. I got fitter with exercise and healthier eating and invested in my passion for clothes and fashion and formalized this by training as an image consultant. I was physically stronger, looked fabulous and yet still mentally and emotionally apprehensive. I realised that looking good on the outside didn’t mean that I felt good on the inside; I needed to manage my thoughts and emotions.  I remembered that I used to have “still, quiet” moments, growing up in the Sikh temple during prayers from the Guru Granth Sahib (the holy Sikh book); mindful moments when my mind was free and clear.  This led me on a journey of learning the science and spiritual aspects of meditation and mindfulness and how these could be practically incorporated in my daily life. The AH HA moment came to me when I was reading a quote allegedly from (but not proven) by Albert Einstein – “Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want”. Combining this with an executive coaching qualification I was able to become aware of how my energy levels changed with my thoughts and emotions. How if the feelings were negative the mental distress would show up in my body as headaches, shoulder pain, stomach upsets to name a few. When I spoke to others, they were sharing similar and sometimes much worse ailments.  Looking back at my personal and professional experiences I realised that no matter where you are

in life be it returning to the workplace, looking to change your career or discovering your passion all depends on the effort you put in, being in the right place at the right time and how you manage YOU. Both the you on the outside and the you on the inside. I believe there is a powerful connection between life success and how you manage your energy.  Understanding your energy levels, blocks and gaps is the first step in more skillfully managing your energy across four dimensions: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. I am passionate about coaching clients to be aware of their personal energy - where it is being used, how to manage and harness it and how it impacts on their mind (mental), body (image) and soul (spiritual).  Aligning what you feel on the inside and communicating this with how you look on the outside can lead to success in all your goals.  I believe a better you changes everything.

Surj Bahra | Energy Coach for the Mind, Body & Soul | | +852 62011534


LAUNCHING DREAMS KANCHAN PORTA PANJABI One morning I woke up and found myself on a hospital bed at a young age of 28. This reality was shocking. The impact it had on me mentally and physically pushed me to change and find a new way. I was 7 years into a fashion career - had my own high-end women’s wear line Kanchan Couture, a showroom in heart of Central; runway shows around Asia; and worked with huge brands such as Mini Cooper, Tatler and Project Runway. I had been nominated for Young Creative Entrepreneur by Business Week and won the Design Category of Perspective Magazine’s 40 under 40. One would think this would have me ecstatic, but it was the opposite - I was overworked, exhausted and the thought of going to another factory for ‘quality control’ was just something I began to despise. Success didn’t excite me anymore. I vowed to rebuild myself through rest and food. After two years, getting married and a kid in tow I went back to work helping friends launch their brands. It started off as a

passion project – introducing new brands, guiding them through what I knew and seeing them grow. It gave me immense satisfaction. Using all my experience of running my own businesses over the years – I now joined hands with a dear friend from university and am co-founder of a creative agency based out of Hong Kong and New York. We launch and grow businesses that inspire others to live well. We help brands come alive. Our range of services are: Marketing & Brand Strategy, Multi-Channel Retail Strategy, Curated Events, Innovation, Public Relations, Research and Storytelling. We take a thoughtful and intentional approach to creating solutions for our clients, ensuring that each brand has a customized plan for continued growth and success. Through our intimate knowledge of the Asian and American markets, we are able to provide a global perspective and strategy for our clients.

Kanchan Porta Panjabi | |



LOVE @ FIRST BITE JAYA BHARTI Cake is the answer, no matter what the question is! Celebration is incomplete without cake. People have strong feeling about what should and should not be served at any celebration, though there is one point most would agree on: There must be a cake.  Ara Cakes is my second baby. Its inception was in 2012, soon after my son was born. The story started 7 years ago, when I quit my job as I was raising my newborn baby. One day my friend came home to see him. While gossiping over tea and some homemade cake, she asked what I do with my days at home. “I make cakes, as a hobby,” was my reply.  She tasted the cake and said, “Wow, why don’t you do it professionally?” And by the time we finished our tea, she gave me my first order. And like that, Ara Cakes happened. The fact that my passion is my profession, makes it more exciting. Ara is a Latin word “alter” which literally means a platform at which religious rites are performed. Being an Indian, my guests are like God to me. So, I believe whatever we serve them should be nothing less than what we would offer to God. So, at Ara Cakes, what we prepare is with lots of love, care and most importantly straight from the heart.  As I was new to this business, I faced a lot of challenges through the journey for reaching where I’m today. Looking after my home, raising new born baby and taking up the cake orders, all things simultaneously and living up-to client’s expectations was really a big challenge for me at that time. But slowly and gradually, by the grace of God and hard work, I was able to manage my duties. And I know many more obstacles and challenges will come down the road and I’m up for it. Because for me, making cake is all about passion.  As a mother, I understand the importance of freshness and hygiene of the product we prepare and try to deliver the best not only in the terms of quality but also in taste and presentation by the never-ending dedication and enthusiasm.  I believe honesty is the only key to success so I never mix my personal and professional life. I maintain a good work-life balance. My family time is completely dedicated to them. And during work, my focus remains on my craft.  

Jaya Bharti | Founder & Artist of Ara Cakes Hong Kong | +852-9619131


DESIGNING FOREVER -AFTERS RANI MORIANI Born in India, raised in Hong Kong. Bollywood was a huge part of our childhood. From dancing in front of the TV on Madhuri Dixit songs to playing “antakshri” with the family and waking up every morning to Lata Mangeshkar Kishore Kumar songs. It’s literally in my veins. Then my love story happened, which is no less than a Bollywood story itself and definitely links to music again, the common thread which bound us together and now if I may say forever. Harry my life and business partner started with being a DJ part-time then slowly we ventured into corporate events and Diwali balls eventually leading to Destination Weddings. It started with the wedding of my sister in Thailand, having events background we had a lot of questions which weren’t answered clearly by the local planners. It was a small wedding that we decided to take it on ourselves. It all went fantastic and from there we got the next one and since then there’s no looking back! God has been kind. We are so grateful for everything. Our spiritual journey began with Ishan Shivanand Ji and soon after that we established our company after having a decade of experience freelancing. I’m so glad that spirituality entered our lives first which kept us grounded and helped dealing with the larger than life events which we keep working on. A wise person once said “Fall in love with your clients, or better yet make them fall in love with you” hearing that was so inspirational! It has become our motivation. We work round the clock practically 24/7 and our clients can vouch for that! We absolutely love doing what we do and that’s why the odd hours don’t matter. Harry and I work hand in hand creatively blending our ideas along with the clients’ vision and bringing it to reality. Our down time is when we are off on some weekends and our yearly family holiday trip. Believe it or not but I find my flight journeys very peaceful. Traveling being a passion, I love everything about it! Airports, flights and of course going to the destination itself. I’m a voracious reader and enjoy reading an eclectic range of books, only wish I had more time to do that. I love singing and dancing which gets to be part of my work many times thankfully.

year and make it a point to do that for ourselves. Just thinking of being in that space brings a huge smile on our face. It’s like a child waiting to go to Disneyland Every. Single. Time. We believe in being innovative and creating trends that’s why we are constantly evolving in this field.

We also look forward to rejuvenating our mind, body and soul by attending Ishanji’s shivir to keep us empowered year after

Rani Moriani | Revel Events | |







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44 Auny MVP

FOOD FOR THOUGHT Our beloved Mrs. Poonam V Mehta, President of Be The Change HK, shares a couple of anecdotes that teach the valuable lesson of knowing the difference between religion, spirituality, and humanity These three have their functions; however, they often mean different things to different people. Understanding their differences can help to define what we are practicing and to question whether they are serving us and others well. Every human desires respect, kindness, compassion and support irrespective of age, gender or creed. All religions tend to teach us the same. Today, when we look around, and in spite of being religious or spiritual, we can see discrimination as to how some people treat others. To my knowledge, often even necessary acts of humanity are missing. A person’s age, appearance, colour; and wealth matters to many of us. However, the tones in which we speak can change according to what we perceive as another person’s status. I wish to share some of the anecdotes of people’s unacceptable attitude. Recently, I observed a rich lady who drove a luxurious, big black car and then parked it in the designated parking area. I smile, and she smiled in return. The caretaker of the building greeted her, and sadly she merely ignored him. As I walked past her, she threw some receipts on the ground, just outside the main building entrance door, which she had collected from a bridge return toll booth. By the time, I had checked my mail and turned around, she had disappeared into the lift. All behaviour of hers made me somewhat angry. Firstly, she had ignored the presence of the caretaker and then littered the front of the building with her receipts. Concerned, I picked up the castaway receipts and duly went to her home. Politely, I told her that she had dropped

her receipts, at which point, she had the boldness to say she no longer needed the receipts. At this point, I had the courage to remind her that it might have been a better idea to have dropped the redundant receipts into a wastepaper basket rather than in a public place. We keep our temples, churches, and synagogues clean. Why not our surroundings? We respect some people whilst ignoring a caretaker, who helps to protect us and our building. On another occasion, I observed, a mature man, who had stepped out of our residential lift. His forehead had traces of white powder, which indicated that he must have just finished his prayers. Once again, the polite caretaker greeted him and, yet again, he ignored the caretaker. Yes! He greeted me politely and mentioned that he was on his way to the temple. Courageously, I suggested that it might be a kind gesture to acknowledge the greetings of the caretaker before going to the temple. Surely, God is everywhere and not just in the temple. As I asked “Sir, does the caretaker appear invisible to you?” He just smiled and walked away. Why do I feel that this thoughtless behaviour is a dilemma? As a child, I followed the religious norms which my mother practiced faithfully. My father, on the other hand, believed that every thought of goodness should be action orientated. Today, as I look around, religious discrimination exists. It is evident in how we treat people. Once I had discovered humanity or equality from my parents’ actions it ‘fired me up’ to take note. It gave me meaning, direction and purpose in life. It helped me to grow as a person. It gave me tools to overcome the worst in myself and to explore the spiritual or transcendental aspects of our existence. So to end with, what are some differences between religion, spirituality, and humanity?

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RELIGION, SPIRITUALITY, AND HUMANITY Religion asks us to believe. Spirituality asks us to look around; Humanity asks us to act. Religion has dogmas. Spirituality has wisdom teachings; Humanity has the knowledge to share. Religion wants obedience. Spirituality wants experimentation; Humanity wants equality. Religion speaks of sin and hell. Spirituality speaks of karma; Humanity speaks of the here and now. Religion wants to comfort us. Spirituality wants to liberate us; Humanity wants to weigh the pros and cons. Religion is external. Spirituality is internal; Humanity is both external and internal. Religion is the form. Spirituality is the essence; Humanity is logic thinking. Religion intends to convert us. Spirituality intends to inspire us; Humanity tends to respect every path of faith. Religion is an institution. Spirituality is a journey; Humanity is a sense of the world. Religion promotes shame and guilt. Spirituality promotes honesty; Humanity promotes integrity. Religion asks us to sacrifice our present attachments for a promised future. Spirituality asks us to let go of our present attachments for a better present. Humanity asks us to ignore attachment and detachment and just to serve selflessly. Humanity is the authentic flavour and the true origin of every movement. So why should humanity get the back seat and why are we are mostly left with dogmas and empty rituals? Humanity is equal with being a person whose highest priority is to love oneself, others and the vast creation and to stay calm under all circumstances.

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Profile for A-Desiflava Magazine

A-DesiFlava May-Jun 2019 issue  

Unveiling my assumptions with their wise words, the lovely hijabi women of Hong Kong gave me a refreshing perspective to freedo’m of choice....

A-DesiFlava May-Jun 2019 issue  

Unveiling my assumptions with their wise words, the lovely hijabi women of Hong Kong gave me a refreshing perspective to freedo’m of choice....