Issue 45 â€˘ April-June 2013
Wanderer The land of manneken and tintin
mud therapy gains popularity
A MaXposure Media Group Publication
Axis House, 3rd Floor, C-2, Wadia International Centre, P. B. Marg, Worli, Mumbai - 400 025, India Tel: +91 022 24256317 | www.axisbank.com firstname.lastname@example.org Chief Editors AK Gupta Tanu Kaushik
The sun shines bright and in its full glory when the somber and grey winter slips by. This is when we know that summer is here. We welcome the season and with that we bring to you the fresh and warm second issue of the re-launched Priority Pages.
MaXposure Media Group India Pvt. Ltd.
In the last issue, we had shared a host of interesting stories suited to your taste and we continue with the tradition of bringing the best and the most relevant to you in the issue you now have in your hands. Through the wanderer section, we explore Brussels that offers a unique confluence of the old and new while vintage jewellery designs take centrestage through the fashionista pages. We also get up close and personal with lyricist-adman-screenwriter Prasoon Joshi who shares anecdotes from his childhood and his experiences in Bollywood in celebspeak section.
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Issue 45 • April-June 2013
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New equity tax saving scheme for first-time retail investors powered by Itsallaboutmoney.com
In conversation with Prasoon Joshi
Brussels offers a unique mix of the old and the new
Vintage designs in jewellery take centrestage
Fresh, scrumptious innovative idli ideas
GPS devices fast becoming a necessity
Increasing popularity of mud therapy
Museums get a new definition
The purity of Sufi music grows on Indian ears
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‘I take my
seriously’ Lyricist-adman-screenwriter-author Prasoon Joshi shares anecdotes from his childhood, his experiences in Bollywood and what should one have it in him to reach the top words Upasana Kaura
orn to classical vocalist parents, the daily life for young Prasoon Joshi was marked with academic discipline, a rich vein of artistic life and a strong sense of music and culture. Little
wonder then that he started writing at 17. After completing his post-graduation in physics, Joshi elected to pursue an MBA degree. It was during this phase that he decided to integrate his love for art and culture and make a career in the advertising world. In a tete-a-tete, this multitalented man talks about his life and more...
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Share some interesting anecdotes from your childhood. My childhood and much of adulthood was spent in Almora, a small town in the Himalayan region of Uttarakhand. Films and their music found little place in our home where the atmosphere was that of Hindustani classical music and endearing folk music. Life in the mountains was a source of inspiration to me and I started writing stories, poetry and prose as a child. I still have fond memories of the summer vacations when I penned a number of them.
Far left: Joshi with filmmaker Prakash Jha and below: Joshi as a member of the Commonwealth Board including Washington Olivetto, Jeff Goodby and Linus Karlsson
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In fact, I, on my own, hand-stitched small books that became a part of the self-created circulating library, Prasoon Bal Pustakalaya. A sum of 50 paisa charged for each booklet I wrote went on to make my childhood richer in myriad ways. Those were the golden days of my life, the days when I learnt to be creative.
When was the first time that you realised you could write? I have been writing as a child, ever since I can remember. My first book was published when I was 17. But as I grew up, despite the vibrant creative atmosphere of home, parental wisdom made it clear that writing and music were not viable career options. I recall my father telling me I couldn’t survive on poetry in the real world. That’s the time when, despite little interest, I took the decision to pursue the conventional path of formal education, first science and then an MBA. When I look back, I often wonder why couldn't I go against my parents’ wishes and pursue my passion. I guess, even as a youngster, I was aware of and valued my parents’ wishes and could not disregard them enough to be rebellious. It is perhaps simpler to focus on individual goals and aspirations but that seemed selfish
I neither glorify nor romanticise struggle. I see it as a part of life. Besides having this will and understanding, it is also important to have self-belief and thoughtless to me. I just couldnâ€™t be insensitive towards them. However, I did not find business management stimulating and was unsure about the path that lay ahead. I was dreading being placed in a typical 9 to 5 job environment. I literally ran away from an interview call from a paint company. Then, one fine day, a unique company arrived at our institute to recruit summer trainees. I learnt that there exists a field of work and a profession called communication and advertising, a career in which I could employ a combination of my training in business management and my interests in literature, writing, poetry and music. Until then, I had no idea as to what I could do with my passions. Most of the art forms I loved had relevance in advertising. This was where I would get paid to write! However, I was still uncertain and confused about the path I had chosen because mass communication as a career option was comparatively new and not well established. Films and music albums were still nowhere in the range of my radar of thought. When I look back, I feel it is important to be confused in life; it is a significant stage. The trauma and frustration one experiences during that time is a personal journey, one where you understand your strengths and strike a balance with what you want to
do. Lack of a fixated mindset about what I should do in life, the initial lack of clarity saw me explore, experiment and tread an unconventional path. However, all through, my love for writing remained an integral part of my existence. What should one have it in him or her to make it to the top? I have lived in small towns and faced umpteen difficulties that a limited canvas brings. I have had to learn to overcome them by tapping deep into the inner self and taking challenges head-on. For me, struggle is eternal, be it against the odds of nature, against society and above all, against self. I neither glorify nor romanticise struggle. I see it as a part of life. Besides having this will and understanding, I feel it is important to have self-belief. Let me share with you an anecdote: Masti ki Paathshala was the first song I wrote for Rang De Basanti. A lot debate happened around the word, paathshala. One half of us felt this term was archaic and people would not understand and relate to it. But I felt there was something unusual about it and it was working in its context. Some people use shocking words, language or an offensive construct to draw attention to the song. This has never been April-June 2013 | 7â€‚â€‚
the way I approach experimentation. For me, writing songs is an art form and one cannot misuse it. Paathshala was an unusual word but I was convinced that this phrase would appeal to the masses so I stuck to my guns. One must have undying faith and display confidence in one’s craft. It is equally important to constantly keep honing it. Soon, self-belief and ability to rise to the occasion becomes second nature. The lines, Jhapatna, palatna, palat kar jhapatna/ Lahu garam rakhnay ka hai ek bahana of Allama Iqbal exemplify this. For me, working continuously to hone one’s craft is vital. Whom do you consider as your inspiration? As I dabble in varied fields like writing music poetry and advertising, it is difficult to have one ideal. I think goal posts and ideals should keep shifting. It is a sign that one is growing, evolving mentally and intellectually. I draw my inspirations from all kinds of sources, be it nature, a child, a woman working hard in the field or a brilliant piece of classical music. Your favourite ad, the one you created or the one someone else created? Several. And every year, new ones get added. I enjoyed the ones I created on NDTV, Coca-Cola and Happydent. And some international ones like Argentina Airlines. When did you start writing songs? Penning lyrics for movies was an accidental foray as I never had plans to do so. But I continued to write poetry. I loved music and would spend all my free time in and around Kamani Auditorium in Delhi, listening
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to classical musical concerts. I remember I stayed in the outskirts of Delhi and the bus service ceased after 11 at night and one had to wait till five or six in the morning for the buses to come. So after late night concerts, I would huddle up on the bench at the bus stop and sleep contentedly. However, all this while the ragas kept reverberating in my head. It was during this phase that I met some like-minded people and dabbled into writing songs for bands and musicians like Silk Route and Shubha Mudgal (Ab ke saawan and Mann ke manjeere). The aim was to give voice to the poet in me and this did not have any commercial underpinning. My work in the music albums was noticed by filmmaker Raj Kumar Santoshi and he approached me to write a song. I think I was more excited about the fact that the famed musician Illayaraja would be composing and Lataji singing my song rather than the fact that I had got an opportunity to write for a Hindi feature film. Writing lyrics hasn’t been and is not my profession. It’s a passion. It has enabled
me to connect with sensitive connoisseurs of poetry and song-writing.
Writing is a natural art and a spontaneous process. And you have to train yourself to turn it into a different kind, be it advertising or films
How difficult is it to write for Bollywood? Writing is a natural art and a spontaneous process. And you have to train yourself to turn it into a different kind, be it for advertising or films. This writing is on demand. You are asked to write within some set parameters -- a subject, a character or a situation. For some, this is not inspiring as it is straight-jacketing and constraining. But I believe that even in commissioned art there is room for experimentation and excellence. Michelangelo was ‘commissioned’ to paint the Sistine Chapel and look at what he created. Many of our classical musicians in the princely courts were asked to create ragas for mundane events like a visit of a dignitary but even within these parameters, they created masterpieces. Are you satisfied with what all you have achieved? I work hard. I do not compromise on my quality of work. But in life, I believe in imperfections as I think imperfections carry the satire of reality and the fragrance of possibility, the possibility to improve to aspire to do and be better. What’s the importance of awards in your life? As they say, Mozart never won any. So it is not that awards are sacrosanct or that great work will always be recognised. Yes, awards are one way of recognising and appreciating talent and there could be many other ways. It all depends on the credibility of the award. Personally, be it the Cannes
Gold, the National Award or Filmfares, which are international/national honours, have their own stature, value and memories. At the same time, I hold very dear some not-so-wellknown awards which have meant a lot to me. Has Bollywood affected your creative space in the advertising world or viceversa? Today, the lines between films and advertising are blurring. The focus is on content. Poetry, music writing and advertising feed off each other and make it a richer experience for me. You have written lyrics, penned dialogues. Any plans to get to direction and production? I never plan. If I feel compelled to tell a story in a certain way and format and that means if I need to direct it, maybe I will. But maybe I won’t. It all depends on the truth of the moment. How do you get inspired and how do you inspire your team? Leading by example is what I instinctively veer towards. I have no qualms in rolling up my sleeves and working on any scale of project. I am a hands-on person and like to work closely with the team without any stilted hierarchical norms. For me, seniority and designation hold no value, talent and calibre do. I take my work, not myself seriously. Your future plans. I don’t think I have ever planned in life. I think it is arrogant to plan. You can't control future. You just have to give your 100 per cent to the here and now. I take life as it comes and I am open to all possibilities.
Clockwise from left: Joshi won the Filmfare best lyricist award for Chand Sifarish for Fanaa (2007) and followed it up with Maa for Taare Zamin Par (2008). With Rang De Basanti (2006), he turned into a dialogue writer April-June 2013 | 9
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The land of
Manneken and Tintin Belgian capital’s unique mix of the old and the new makes for an interesting urban getaway words Kunal Bhatia
ention Belgium and most travellers can’t think beyond beer, lace or chocolate. It’s no wonder then that Brussels’ dynamic urbanscape, energetic vibe and love for fine things leaves the visitors captivated. The origin of Brussels can be traced back to the 11th century with its beginnings as a commercial hub. Over the centuries, it saw many periods of prosperity as well as war until 1830 when Belgium gained independence
from the Dutch and Brussels became its capital.
Historic Core – The Grand Place Nowhere is the historic glory of Brussels better understood than in the neighbourhood of the Grand Place. Accessed from a bunch of unassuming cobbled streets, the vista that is suddenly revealed to pedestrians is stunning. Flanking all four sides of this former market square are beautiful buildings with gorgeous facades. The architectural feel of the buildings is complimentary despite their styles being as diverse as Gothic and Baroque. The most April-June 2013 | 11
prominent structure on the square is Hotel de Ville – The Town Hall. Occupying half of southern side, its Gothic facade is a blend of high arches, turrets and abundant sculptures of the noble and the saintly. The other chief buildings facing the Grand Place are the Guildhalls that were built by various trade and merchant guilds to serve as head offices, ensuring the design of each Guildhall proudly exhibited symbols and iconography related to their respective trades. So you have the stern-shaped roof of the sailors’ guild, a swan identifying the butchers’ guild and creepers curling around the columns of the brewers’ guildhall. Walk into the City Museum in Maison du Roi on the Grand Place for a glimpse through Brussels’ history and make sure you stop by the room on the first floor that displays costumes of the city’s most visible icon – the Manneken Pis. 12 | axisbank.com
Manneken Pis' Brussels’ most enduring symbol is not of some mighty ruler or a brave knight but rather of a little boy performing one of Nature’s most basic acts. Gleefully taking a leak at a street corner, the little Manneken Pis’ charming poise never fails to amuse and his act has been immortalised on dozens of souvenirs, from T-shirts to coffee mugs!
Mural Walk The adventures of Belgium’s other immortal lad and his fox terrier are stamped across larger than life murals all over Brussels’ old city centre. Hardcore Tintin fans can spend hours walking across the alleys to spot characters and situations from the series. The fresco near the Stockel metro station depicts 140 characters that appear in the 23 Tintin books and was drawn by Tintin’s creator Hergé himself just before his death in 1983.
Good to know
Clockwise from left: Manneken Pis' charming poise never fails to amuse, the Grand Place and floral carpet adorns the city centre
Best Time To Visit At 22 degrees Celsius, the summer months (from June to August) are ideal to visit Brussels. It rains for over 200 days a year so do carry an umbrella at all times.
Getting There Brussels is connected by direct flights to Mumbai and Delhi. Excellent train services also link it to neighbouring European travel hubs of London, Paris and Antwerp.
Stay At Pick one of the many budget or high-end accommodations around The Grand Place to ensure you’re in the middle all the action.
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Visitors at the Musical Instrument Museum
The most prominent building on the square is Hotel de Ville — The Town Hall. Occupying half of southern side, its Gothic facade is a blend of high arches, turrets and abundant sculptures of the noble and the saintly
Belgium’s comic strip culture can be further explored at the Belgian Comic Strip Centre near the Grand Place. From the history of comics in Belgium to strips by contemporary artists and a library with more than 80,000 volumes of comics, the Centre can be a time-zapper for adults and children alike.
Art Nouveau Architecture Despite their abundance, the Middle Age’s Gothic and Baroque styles are not the only ones present in Brussels. Over the turn of the 19th century, Art Nouveau, a new architectural style that bridged the gap between industrialisation and a desire to ornament, flourished in Brussels. The new architectural style’s gentle curves, extensive use of glass and wrought iron and graceful details can be seen at the Old England building (now the Musical Instrument Museum), Horta Museum, Maison Cauchie (home of architect Paul Cauchie) and the Palais des Beaux-Arts, an entertainment venue.
Eat, Drink and Be Merry With its many cafes and restaurants, Brussels offers a wide range of cuisines – from Belgian fast food staples like frites (fries) to more traditional seafood and meat dishes like 14 | axisbank.com
waterzooi (a chicken or fish stew) and filet américain which is raw minced beef served with a portion of veggies and tangy sauces. No matter what time of the day, a meal in Belgium is best accompanied by one of their local beers. During an outbreak of plague in the Middle Ages, a certain godly saint convinced the country folk to drink beer rather than water since the former was boiled during its brewing and thus ‘safer’ than water. From then on, drinking beer has been a part of the national psyche, with over a 100 breweries and dozens of specialist beer bars, offering over 650 varieties of Belgian beer! Besides the staple favourites like Leffe and Kriek, one must sample the Trappist beers – ones that are, to this date, brewed by monks in certain abbeys. The rarest of these are the ones produced by the Abbey of Saint Sixtus at Westvleteren. With only 60,000 cases produced each year, the beer has to be pre-ordered over the phone before it can be picked up and orders are rationed at two crates per car! Competing with the Belgian craze for beer is their love for chocolate. Since 1912, when Jean Neuhaus created the first praline (filled chocolate), the country has been hooked and has been steadily producing the world’s finest chocolates. One can satisfy the sweet cravings with a variety of chocolates sold in bakeries and supermarkets to specialist chocolateries (chocolate shops). Foremost among the specialists in Brussels are Mary’s, an exclusive boutique that also caters to Belgian royalty, and Pierre Marcolini. Marcolini’s exquisite chocolates use ingredients from across the world, are displayed like pieces of jewellery and have prices that match accordingly!
equity culture First-time retail investors in Indian equity markets are being offered a new equity tax saving scheme
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ajiv Gandhi Equity Savings Scheme (RGESS) is a new equity tax saving scheme which was announced in the Union Budget 2012-13. This is exclusively for the first time retail investors in Indian equity markets. The objective of the scheme is to encourage the flow of savings and to improve the depth of domestic capital markets. The scheme aims at widening the retail investor base in equity markets which will help in promoting an equity culture in India.
What is RGESS? It’s an equity tax saving scheme introduced under new section 80CCG of the Income Tax Act, 1961 to give tax benefits to ‘New Retail Investors’ whose gross total annual income is less than or equal to `12 lakh (this got revised in Union Budget 2013-14 from `10 lakh stated earlier). The investor can invest up to a maximum of `50,000 to avail tax benefits in RGESS. The investor will be eligible to get tax deduction on 50 per cent of the amount invested.
retail investors to invest in mutual funds and listed shares and not in one year alone but for three successive years. The investment holding period is three years which includes fixed lock-in of one year and flexible lock-in of two years. Basically, a new investor is one who: 1. Has gross total income less than or equal to `12 lakh 2. Is a resident individual 3. Has not opened a demat account and has also not done any trading in the derivative segment till RGESS account opening date 4. Has opened a demat account and have not made any transactions in equity and/or in derivative segment till designating such account as RGESS
3. Units of Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) or Mutual Fund (MF) schemes with RGESS eligible securities as underlying, as mentioned in point (1) or point (2) above, provided they are listed and traded on a stock exchange and settled through a depository mechanism 4. Follow on Public Offer of point (1) and (2) above 5. New Fund Offers (NFOs) of point (3) above Given above is an illustration of RGESS lock-in period if investments are brought in at once.
The eligible securities under RGESS are: 1. Equity shares falling in the list of BSE100 or CNX-100 2. Equity shares of public sector enterprises which are categorised as Maharatna, Navratna or Miniratna by the Central Government
For instance, investor invests `50,000 under RGESS; the amount eligible for tax deduction will be `25,000 from his income. Likewise if an investor invests ` 40,000 under RGESS, the amount eligible for tax deduction will be `20,000 from his income. In other words, investors who are in the 10 per cenrt tax bracket, savings from tax liability for investments up to `50,000 under RGESS are `2,500 (plus cess as applicable) and for those who are in the 20 per cent income tax bracket, savings from tax liability is `5,000 (plus cess as applicable). To avail this benefit, an investor has to qualify under the ‘New Investor Rule’. The RGESS was liberalised in Union Budget 2013-14 to enable first time April-June 2013 | 17
Nov 23, 2012 `50,000
Fixed lock in begins Ends on November 22, 2013
Nov 23, 2013
RGESS is an equity saving scheme that gives tax benefits to 'new retail investors'
First year of flexible lock in begins Ends on November 22, 2014
Nov 23, 2014
Second year of flexible lock in begins Ends on November 22, 2015
Applicable financial year for compliance will be 2014-15
Advantages of investing in RGESS Funds Additional Tax Benefit: New retail investors with gross total income less than or equal to `12 lakh can claim tax deduction of 50 per cent for investments up to `50,000 under section 80 CCG of the Income Tax Act (‘Act’). This is over and above the tax exemption under Section 80C of the Act. Further the dividend income is also tax free. Retail Focus: Rajiv Gandhi Equity Saving Schemes will give retail investors who have never invested in equity markets, a chance to participate in the same. Diversification: The RGESS funds will provide a diversification benefit for first time retail investors, as it is better to invest in a carefully constructed portfolio of securities rather than taking exposure through a single stock or a basket of few stocks on one’s own accord without completely understanding the stock specific fundamentals properly. Capital formation: The success of this 18 | axisbank.com
Nov 23, 2015
Account is converted into an ordinary demat account
Applicable financial year for compliance will be 2015-16
scheme can lead to transfer of assets from traditional savings instruments such as bank deposits and FDs to the capital markets, leading to diversification in retail investor portfolio and also leading to more productive "capital formation" assets. Source: BSEindia To conclude, this is essentially a product focused on targeting new retail investors as defined under RGESS seeking additional tax benefit under section 80CCG apart from the existing available benefit from section 80C of Income Tax Act 1961. The product will give new investors in equity markets the advantage of professional fund management and claim additional tax benefits. Since this is an equity oriented fund, the minimum investment horizon should be three years and above. This article is from the Investment Advisory Team at Axis Bank To read more about managing your money, log on to www.itsallaboutmoney.com
appeal This season old is new as vintage designs in jewellery take centrestage giving connoisseurs a whole new world to explore words Meghna Sharma
rends change faster than seasons so while a few months ago the world’s gliteratti were shimmering in diamonds, they are now grooving on the treasures of the golden era. All that was old is new once again... at least, when it comes to the jewellery trends this season. The bold and ethnic look is back. Jewellery exhibitions in India as well as abroad are showcasing oeuvres d’art in the form of antique gold and precious stone pieces. The collections are ensembles of antique settings of various sorts including Jartad, Meenakari and a lot more, as the trend-setting styles of the early 19th and 20th centuries are back again to entice jewellery connoisseurs. According to GIA, one of the world’s foremost authorities in gemology, the present jewellery designs reflect the same motifs, tones, gems and shapes as of the bygone era. Putting ethnic Indian jewellery on world map was the Namaste India festival. Held in Milan a couple of years ago, the show appealed to the Italian senses with traditional Indian jewellery as well as food, fashion, cinema and art. The gala evening turned out to be a glittering affair with a spectacular display of Indian jewellery. Models Sheetal Mallar, Ujjwala Raut, Meher Jessia, Lakshmi Menon, Michelle Innes and Sapna Kumar strutted down the ramp in ethnic India lehengas and exquisite diamond and gold jewellery set in rose cut diamonds, precious and semi-precious stones. Top Indian model Meher Jessia wearing an antique masterpiece floored the creme de la creme of the
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fashion circle in Milan. Said a designer from Ganjam Nagappa & Sons, “We specialise in heritage masterpieces and are, in fact, on the panel of evaluation for antique jewellery. There is undoubtedly a rising interest for ethnic pieces which is clear from the reaction of the crowd here in Milan as well.” Valentina Pedroni, ex-wife of neocelebrity Arun Nayar, also sported a bold ethnic neckpiece to complement her Indian ensemble designed by Tarun Tahiliani. The entire banquet hall at Four Seasons, Milan, was packed with celebrities sporting a melange of Indian and Italian fashion. Perfectly elegant Western gowns were complemented with Indian chokers, slick bundhgala kurtis paired with traditional Amdavadi ‘dools’ (earrings) and saris were enhanced with the dazzle of diamonds. And it is not just the Indian vintage jewellery that is making a comeback. Designs from the Victorian era, Art Nouveau era and Edwardian era are also a big hit. During the reign of England’s Queen Victoria, a variety of distinct styles was popular including sentimental, romantic and ornate matching sets of gemstone jewellery. Some Victorian jewellery idealised past cultures, and was inspired by ancient Assyrian, Greek, Etruscan, Roman, Egyptian, Gothic and Renaissance themes. If you talk about the Art Nouveau era, which was a radical departure from historic revival styles, the jewellery was inspired by the natural world. It was characterised by imaginative and sinuous artistic expressions. Flowers, animals, butterflies, and insects were common, along with fantasy figures like fairies and mermaids. Themes of women being transformed into exotic creatures prevailed, characterising the beginning of women’s liberation. Edwardian jewellery typically 20 | axisbank.com
The days of owning bulky jewellery are long gone. Jewellery needs to be worn purposefully to complement the ensemble
featured garlands of flowers tied with ribbons and bows. It was luxuriously flaunted among the affluent to purposely display wealth. Today’s jewellery incorporates many of these historic themes all over again. Exceptional gemstone carvings, such as the superb works of Idar-Oberstein, are still appreciated. In fact, a number of modern artists specialise in using gemstones as a medium for abstract art, similar to the imaginative Art Nouveau era. While Western influences do prevail, the essence of Indian culture is depicted and represented in gems and jewels lending each piece an individual character. Traditional ethnic jewellery is usually made to withstand daily usage and is therefore generally fabricated from heavier materials to give it robustness and vitality. Today, the precious jewellery industry in India stands at a new threshold. Now fashion plays a more important part in jewellery purchase. When buying jewellery,
one does not ask for a specific style or look and what we usually find is a fusion of styles, an amalgamation of new designs and old techniques. Says Niyati Mehta, proprietor of Surajmal Lalubhai & Co, an 108-year-old family owned jewellery house, “The biggest trend in ethnicwear in my experience is remodelling of antique sets. People tend to bring chunky antique gold pieces and embellish them with coloured stones and diamonds to get a personalised look. Among traditional wedding wear, ‘Jaipuri Jadau’ is very popular. Long hanging earrings like ‘Jhumkas’ and ‘dools’ are also very much ‘en vogue’.” Of course, you can’t be weighed down under kilos of gold or precious gemstones but that doesn’t stop us from having our own share of prized possessions. While massive ornate pieces are restricted to bridal wear, ethnic objet d’arts still make their way into select social events. So while you can’t be sporting your wedding ‘haars’ at an evening gathering, you could certainly find that perfect piece of
jewellery that would suit the occasion. The days of owning bulky jewellery are long gone. Like apparel, jewellery too needs to be worn purposefully to complement the ensemble, the occasion and of course, the budget. One needs to comprehend that you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a piece of jewellery custom designed. But before you take the plunge into the high-value world of designer jewellery, take out time to understand the prevalent trends and more importantly, what piece of jewellery suits you best. It’s only when you have all these factors to your favour that you feel the real joy of owning ethnic jewellery which complements your personality. This trend of vintage jewels is, in fact, smacks of a historical irony. Without the cultural stigma, ornamental fusion is an avenue being actively explored. But it’s a win-win for connoisseurs who can now generously borrow styles across the world to give jewellery a whole new direction. April-June 2013 | 21
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Over the years, idli has stood the test of time with innovative modifications done to its shape as newer and innovative recipes keep adding to it regularly words Khursheed Dinshaw
or centuries, the steamed South Indian preparation, idli, has been one of our most edible companions. No matter where we happen to be in India, the delicacy has been with us though with different names. It is as if physical and cultural barriers have been unsuccessful in denting the national appeal of this tasty dish. My maiden brush with the delicacy was as a kid, watching my mother prepare this delicacy by soaking rice and urad dal overnight. She then ground both together, fermented the batter and steamed it in an idli cooker to get delicious idlis. This was then packed in our school-tiffin box to enjoy during
lunch breaks. At times, she added spinach to the batter to make it healthier or introduced vegetables, peas, dry fruits, paneer, grated cheese and corn to give it a crunchy taste. On occasions, she introduced jaggery to lend it a sweet flavour. Idli continued to be our companion even during college days as the canteen served idli-chutney and idli-sambhar which was a major hit with most of us. Today, while Karnadigas continue with their 1,100-year-old way of preparing Uddina Idlis with urad dal, the inhabitants of Palakkad in Kerala make Ramasseri Idli, shaped flat and round unlike conventional idlis. On the other hand are Tatte Idlis from Karnataka, pure ghee Mavali Tiffin Room Idlis or the MTR Idlis from Chennai, button idlis that conventionally April-June 2013 | 23â€‚â€‚
Kanchipuram idli Ingredients: 1 cup par boiled rice 1 cup urad dal 1 tablespoon chana dal 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger 3/4th cup sour curd A couple of cashewnuts broken into pieces Green chillies, curry leaves, finely grated coconut, black pepper and salt as per taste Oil for greasing Method: Soak the urad dal and rice together and the chana dal in a separate vessel for four hours. After grinding the urad dal and rice into a paste, set aside overnight for it to ferment. To this mix add curd, cashewnuts, green chillies, pepper, curry leaves, coconut, ginger, salt and chana dal and mix the batter properly. After greasing the idli moulds, pour batter into them and steam for 10 minutes. Remove and serve hot with chutney and sambhar.
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contain 14 idlis and often called Fourteen Idlis. Then there is the Goanese variety of Sanna and the Mangalorean variant, Muday. Not to forget are the popular Aval Idlis made from rice, rice flakes, Bengal gram, thick sour curd, green chillies, grated coconut, jeera, ginger, salt, oil and black pepper. Then there are the conventional sweet idlis made from sooji, urad dal, elaichi powder, grated coconut, dry dates, raisins, milk, ghee and sugar, at times, loaded with modern toppings like jams, chocolate sauces and flavoured syrups. The word "idli" is said to be of Kannada or Tamil origin where the words "ittu/ idu" and "aavi" in Kannada means cooked by "keep"ing in "steam" while in Tamil, the words "ittu" and "ali" mean the food which is cooked/baked and served. The first documented proof of the delicacy was in in 920 AD when it was apparently made from fermented urad dal. There is no known record of rice being added until sometime in the 17th century when it was found that the rice helped speed up fermentation. Over the years, the recipe of making idlis has evolved but the method of preparation and the name has stayed constant. We Indians love to experiment with our food and add our own creativity and local flavour to it. So if you love sandwiches and idlis, then how about sampling an idli sandwich? All you need to do is take spiced boiled potato mixture, onions, red chilli powder, salt, turmeric powder, oil and idlis. Sauté onions till light brown, add red chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt. Cut idlis and layer it with potato mixture. Place another section of idlis on top and then spread the onion mixture to lend it the shape and taste of a sandwich. If you happen to be visiting Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka or Andhra Pradesh, don’t forget to taste the delicious spread of Kanchipuram Idlis, nothing but spiced versions with a tempering of oil and curry leaves. For those who like a dash of spice, a plate of Masala Idlis will be perfect for the taste-buds. If you like Gujarati tadka to be a part of your cuisine, you must sample Dhokla Idli, inspired by the famous Gujarati snack of dhokla.
These are some innovations that the dish has witnessed over the last few decades. “In South India, idlis are normally not eaten when one is fasting as they contain rice and urad dal. In Western India, the consumption of Upvas Idlis just goes to show how popular this fluffy healthy food is. Known as Varai Idli, it is prepared using varai cereal, potatoes and curd,” says Chef Suraj Shetty of Madhuban. An idli is incomplete without its accompaniments of coconut chutney, sambhar and red dry fiery chutney. “When preparing idlis at home, the most crucial factor is the fermentation time. If the batter over-ferments, idlis taste sour. The temperature and climate have an effect on the fermentation process. In summer, it is six hours while in winter, the batter needs to ferment for eight hours,” adds Shetty. No longer confined to just breakfast, idlis are eaten even as evening snacks or as a light meal. Rava idlis were created by chefs
Over the years, the recipes of making idlis have evolved but the method of preparation and the name has stayed constant
Know your idli Idli and the process of steaming have been known in India since 700 CE. The process of steaming was influenced from Indonesia between 800-1200 CE, giving rise to the modern-day idli. The earliest mention of idli occurs in Kannada writings called Vaddaradhane by Shivakotiacharya in 920 AD, and it seems to have started off as a dish made only of fermented black lentil. Chavundaraya II, the author of the earliest available Kannada encyclopaedia, Lokopakara, describes the preparation of idli by soaking urad dal (black gram) in butter milk, ground to a fine paste and mixed with the clear water of curd and spices. The Kannada king and scholar Someshwara III, reigning in the area now called Karnataka, included an idli recipe in his encyclopedia, Manasollasa, written in Sanskrit (1130 AD). There is no known record of rice being added until sometime in the 17th century. It may have been found that the rice helped speed up the fermentation process. Although the ingredients used in preparing idli have changed, the preparation process and the name have stuck on. The word idli is said to be of Kannada or Tamil origin with the words ittu/idu and aavi in Kannada meaning cooked by “keep”ing in “steam” and in Tamil, the words ittu and ali means the food which is cooked/ baked and served.
who opted for ingredients that did not require fermentation for long hours. They made up by adding sour curd to provide sour flavour for unfermented batter. “My aunt, a diabetic, enjoys the goodness of rava idlis made with rava, curd, salt, mustard and cumin seeds, broken cashewnuts, curry leaves, chopped green chillies and oil,” shares Shinde. If you happen to have a few leftover idlis, cut them in the shape of finger chips and fry threm to get crispy, fried idlis. You can make another dish from leftover idlis, idli upma. “This variation has been influenced from Maharashtrian households where photni bhaat is prepared from leftover rice. Here, rice is sautéed with spices and then served. For idli upma, we mash idlis into small pieces and temper them with oil, spices and curry leaves to get a softer version of idli upma. This is garnished with sev or farsan before serving,” explains Pranali Kakade whose love for idlis led her to start an idli-making enterprise in Pune. You can try your own dhokla idli made from a fermented batter of chickpeas soaked overnight. Curd, turmeric powder, oil, salt, lengthwise slit green chillies, mustard seeds and curry leaves help enhance the taste. Then there is another variation which is yet to appeal to our palate, Manchurian idli. A gravy-based Manchurian sauce dish with idli pieces, it is said to have influenced by Chinese cuisine. Idlis are also claimed by mothers as a perfect gastronomic delight for children. “To appeal to kids who get bored with normal shapes and tastes, mini or cocktail idlis were created. My daughter just loves the small size of these mini idlis and eats them in a single mouthful, much to my delight. Otherwise, I had to chase my energetic angel all over the house with a plate in my hand, coaxing her to eat. Mini idlis also make good portion options for those who like to eat less,” adds Shikha Singh, mother of three-year-old Mahi. Though the humble idli has come a long way with its variations, seasonings and fillings today, the pure joy of biting into a hot sambhar and chutney-dipped idli has remained the same — divinely satisfying.
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new-age pole star words Amir Ali Hashmi
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GPS devices are fast gaining momentum in India and with people becoming more and more travel-friendly, these products are becoming more of a necessity than a style statement
ou have just hit the road after attending a late night party at one of your colleagues’ new farmhouse in Manesar near Gurgaon but before you manage to get onto the highway, you get lost in the absence of proper signages and streetlights. With not a single soul in sight on the deserted stretch, you are stranded. You contemplate on what to do next as you can’t make a call for there are no signals in your hand-phone. It is then that you remember of having bought a Personal
Navigation Device (PND) the previous evening on a friend’s suggestion. And within no time, you are back on track and get home safely, courtesy the PND. Personal Navigation Devices provide geo-location, maps, turn-by-turn directions, and, in some models, real-time traffic and weather updates too. In fact, they make up one of the largest consumer markets for GPS-enabled devices. At present, there are an estimated 114 million PNDs in use worldwide but this number is expected to rise only marginally over the next few years. This is due to the increasing acceptability of turn-by-
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turn navigation systems on smartphones. In India, the use of GPS devices is fast gaining momentum and with people becoming more and more travel-friendly and gadget-savvy, these are becoming more of a necessity. At present, all types of GPS devices are available in the country: aviation, marine, handheld, fitness to in-car and even apps for smartphones. Not only are these easy-to-use, they are equipped with detailed city maps. All a user needs to do is to enter the destination and the device selects the route automatically. Some of these devices come with multi-point route planners that automatically sort multiple destinations into an efficient route. These devices help you to decide on the lane you need to be in to take an upcoming turn. Lane information with junction view guides you to the correct lane for an approaching turn, making unfamiliar intersections and exits easy to navigate.
As India continues to grow at a rapid pace on all fronts, infrastructural facilities too witness regular upgradation. But then the real challenge is to update maps on these devices and that’s why up to four map data updates per year are available in most devices. Then the need to provide the devices in the language of the region is also important. “Garmin provides text-to-speech, speaks street names in Indian accent and voice guidance in Hindi and English,” shares Ali Rizvi, national sales and marketing head, Garmin India. 28 | axisbank.com
Personal navigation devices provide geo-location, maps, turn-by-turn directions, real-time traffic and weather updates
On the other hand, TomTom, the world’s leading supplier of in-car location and navigation products and services, focusses on providing all drivers with the world’s best navigation experience while MapmyIndia, the country’s leader in premium quality digital map and data, GPS, location-based services, GIS and locationbased business intelligence solutions. It is driving the Indian navigation and locationbased services industry by providing products and services across all platforms, internet, mobile, in-car, print, voice, TV etc to end consumers directly as well as in
How it helps: • As this is a dedicated navigation device, it will give you turn-by-turn navigation information. • Voice prompts in Hindi, English and other languages inform you of every turn. This is important because if you miss one, you will need to drive an additional 20-30 km. • It will also inform you of the nearest police station, petrol pump and hospital. • While driving, the device will highlight other key informations like ATMs, restaurants, lodging facilities, shopping joints, entertainment junctions. • At the end of the journey, the device informs you the number of kilometres travelled and the fuel cost incurred for the trip. • It will also help in knowing the average speed of the car during travel.
partnership with leading international and national players. MapmyIndia Navigator is the largest selling in-car GPS navigation device in India. However, the foremost challenge is to dispel the apprehension people have towards such devices and more importantly, spending on them. The need of the hour is to make these prospective users realise that as life gets busier, it is important to own devices that can not only save travel time but also reach the destination minus hassles. Before buying a GPS device, ensure you understand its features in detail and if
it has a recurring cost or not. For example, some companies charge around `1,000 per map update. Taking into consideration the frequently changing infrastructure situation in India, a user can’t shy away from this cost. So he has to download these updates, at least, four times a year. This means an additional cost of `4,000 annually. The increasing popularity of these navigation devices among vehicle-owners has compelled car manufacturers to install these before it reaches the showrooms as these products are more of a necessity today than mere status symbols.
• In case you are driving through the hills, it will show you the elevation levels. • The device has a trip log which records your route. This helps in case you get lost.
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basics Mud therapy is increasingly getting popular among masses as it is natural, eco-friendly and reasonable on one’s pocket
words Khursheed Dinshaw
o you remember how, as kids, we enjoyed playing in the mud and how we bonded with our friends during the monsoon months as we played football in the rainsoaked field? Back then, we weren’t aware that this fun-time activity was a basic and an unreformed version of what’s today known as mud therapy. One of the most ancient forms of healing techniques, mud therapy is a concept of naturopathy that entails application of mud mixed with water on the body to get rid of ailments. It was believed that mud has healing powers that can restore the body’s balance by removing accumulated toxins. Mud is entirely
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composed of organic substances that have absolutely no side-effects on the body. Over the years, the popularity of the therapeutic effects of mud therapy has increased as more and more people are turning to naturopathy. Mud therapy is also advantageous as it is easy to use and apply, is reasonable on the pocket, is eco-friendly and can be recycled too. The most commonly used form of mud therapy is the facial pack but body wraps, baths and packs are applied for healing and rejuvenation too. “I recall my grandmother applying mud on our wounds or skin infections. She always told me the body is best repaired with the element from which it is made,” shares 57-year-old homemaker Shrirekha Shinde.
It is popular belief that ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, known as the father of Western medicine, encouraged naturopathic medicine even before the term was coined. Naturopathy focusses on naturally-occurring substances, minimum use of drugs and encourages the body to heal itself naturally. In naturopathy, naturally available mud can be procured from any location, the only condition being that it should not be taken from a place inhabited by people, preferably forests or jungles. This is then sieved to remove gravel and other impurities. Once done, the mud automatically reaches its powdered form. “The mud used should be clean, taken from a depth of four-five feet from the surface, should be without pieces of stones or chemical manure. Before use, it should
be dried, powdered and sieved to separate stones, grass particles and other impurities,” shares Dr Anjali Sharma, senior consultant (naturopathy), Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute, Delhi. She adds the mud should preferably be black soil from a riverbed. “One should opt for dark cotton soil having some greasiness as it is rich in minerals and retains water for a longer duration. Another benefit is that it has a cooling effect on the body,” Dr Sharma puts in. Mud therapy conventionally uses mud that consists of clay, minerals, water and organic substances in various percentages whereas clay is composed of various mineral compounds rich in silica and aluminium, sometimes including iron, copper, zinc and magnesium and other trace minerals. April-June 2013 | 31
Benefits It relaxes muscles and improves blood circulation It maintains metabolism, rendering positive impact on digestion It is useful in conditions of inflammation/ swelling and relieves pain It is a good hair conditioner and is good for skin It is useful in condition of stiff joints
Why mud therapy? Out of the five constituent elements of this universe, mud (earth) has a pivotal role to play in our well being. The dark colour of mud helps in absorbing different colours and conveying them to the body, giving it therapeutic properties. Also, its shape and consistency may be modified with ease, just by changing the water content which makes it easy to use. A mud pack is advantageous over a cold compress (cold water therapy) as it retains the coolness over a longer period of time. Therefore, it is recommended whenever a prolonged cold application is required. Lastly, it is easily available and a cost effective treatment option.
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Mud therapy conventionally uses mud that consists of clay, minerals, water and organic substances in various percentages Depending on the source of the mud, the mineral content varies. Mud found in different parts of the world has different properties. Its composition varies with the place of origin. First, mineral constituents of mud varies with the kind of rocks found in the region and the process of soil formation. Second, mud property is influenced by kind of flora and fauna of the region. Therefore, it is essential to learn about properties of mud before utilising it benefits. Mud is mixed with other ingredients only if the required effect is different and disease-specific, else it is used in natural form. Most often, water is added to turn it into a paste for easy application. “Mud is used for its therapeutic properties in natural form in naturopathy. When mixed with water, its original properties remain intact unlike
when mixed with other ingredients,” explains Dr Sharma on why naturopaths avoid mixing mud with any other medium except water. Local mud therapy is rendered in the form of direct application or as a pack to a specific part of the body. “The minimum duration of a pack is 20 minutes while the maximum is case-specific as well as the time it takes for the pack to dry,” explains naturopath Sumathi from Pune-based National Institute of Naturopathy. The pack size depends on the width and circumference of the affected area. To make the pack, mud is first mixed with water, then a thin cotton cloth is taken and the paste put on it. This cloth is then placed on the affected area. After the mud is dry, the area is wiped with cold water. Another form of mud therapy application is a mud bath that is given in a special cubicle where the patient is exposed to sunlight. Mud may be applied in a sitting or lying down position. “This helps improve the skin condition by increasing circulation and energising skin tissues. Care should be taken that the patient doesn’t catch a cold during the bath. Afterwards, he/she must be thoroughly washed with a cold water jet spray. If the patient feels a chill, warm water should be used. He/ she should then be dried up quickly and transferred to a warm bed,” explains Dr Sharma. The duration of such a bath ranges from 45 to 60 minutes. A mud facial is a good way to benefit from natural properties of mud, especially if one has oily or normal skin. For this, soaked mud paste needs to be applied on the face and allowed to dry for 30 minutes. “This helps improves the skin’s complexion as well as removes pimples and open skin pores. These, in turn, facilitate elimination. It also clears off dark circles under the eyes,” adds Dr Sharma. The face should be washed thoroughly with
cold water after 30 minutes. Mud therapists advise people having skin lesions should refrain from mud therapy. “Those opting for abdomen application and mud bath should do so on an empty stomach,” adds Dr Sumathi while Dr Sharma opines there needs to be a three-hour gap before meals and mud therapy application. However, meals can be taken after a gap of one hour after treatment. Once mud therapy is completed, the skin becomes dry. This is a natural phenomenon and the person should wait for an hour before applying any moisturiser if he/ she is going out since this is just the reaction phase. Ideally, the skin should be left as it is without application of any moisturiser so that its normal secretions start working. Not just naturopaths, spa therapists also use mud in various treatments. At The Four Fountains Spa (TFFS), India’s first chain of health spas, Bastar Mitti body wrap is quite popular. It is a 60-minute therapy that begins with a 30-minute jasmine body polish. This is followed by the application of a mask
made of natural mud from Bastar. “The wrap improves skin texture by removing excess fluid and toxins as well as treats unsightly appearance of cellulite and gives a boost to lymphatic system and metabolism,” explains TFFS director Sunil Rao. Mud therapy helps remove dead skin and stress, refines skin texture and relieves internal congestion. Apart from this, it improves blood circulation which helps clear internal toxins, improves skin appearance by activating blood circulation and acts as a natural moisturiser. It also reduces skin hypersensitivity and draws out the impurities that contribute to inflammation. Despite the therapeutic properties of mud which are useful in maintaining good health and glowing skin, over-use of application may lead to drying of the skin. Therefore, it is necessary to keep the pack moistened to avoid excessive dryness and stretching. The mud must be carefully chosen for obtaining desired results, and its quality must be ensured to avoid complications. April-June 2013 | 33
Muse of the
Mediums of social change, keepers of rich textiles, promoters of alternate ways of education and more. We explore the new definition of museums by paying visit to a selected few destinations
he inspiring rise of civilization, brave tales from battlegrounds, motif highlights from magnificent architecture; most history lessons are made up of such nuggets. But then history can’t be defined by boundaries, right? What if we were to invite you to a history class that revolved around rich textiles, lovely music, colourful aquatic life, traditional art techniques, wax statues and even toilet habits? Yes, we are about to change your perception of yawn-throughhistory lessons and museums. We’re familiar with museums that transport us to a glorious era of the past and narrate rich tales, however very few of us have been to museums that serve as keepers of Indian textiles, folk music, aquatic life, alternate and fun ways of education, etc. Investing in the values, lessons and things from the past is as important as looking ahead; a couple of charitable organisations and NGOs are doing just that. The Sarabhai Foundation, Ahmedabad has been working towards the promotion of science, art and literature since 1959. The Sulabh International Museum of Toilets is run by the founder of Sulabh International Social Service Organisation, an NGO in the field of sanitation in India. Karnataka Janapada Parishath is safeguarding the folk arts and culture of Karnataka. We make a stopover at a few such keepers to learn more.
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Fabric fortune Threads from all across the country make for interesting, beautiful and colourful history at the Calico Museum of Textiles, Ahmedabad, that invites you to witness fabric history of the past five centuries. Now at the Sarabhai House, this museum was originally housed in th premises of Calico Mills. The 63-year-old museum was the brainchild of Gira Sarabhai and today serves as an insight into the history of Indian textiles. The different galleries in the museum like the religious, historical and trade familiarise one with the designs and artworks in kalamkaris, silks, pichhwais, patolas, bandhnis, brocades, et al. Learn about the influence of Hindu or Islamic designs, Mughal splendour, block-printing and tie-dye techniques, etc here. Also, on display are carved wooden facades, motifis, frescoes, icons of sandstone and bronze and more. Where? Shahibaugh Palace, Ahmedabad Timings: Open all days (except Wednesday) from 10:30 am-12:30 pm.
A sketch of the Calico Museum of Textiles, Ahmedabad
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Sanitation crusade Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, the man behind, Sulabh International Museum of Toilets, New Delhi, calls his unusual museum a sanitation crusade. The museum that is home to a rare collection of facts, pictures and objects highlighting the evolution of toilets seeks to serve as an instrument of social change. The idea of walking into a museum displaying water closets, chamber pots, toilet furniture, etc, may not be your idea of an outing but the destination is helping sanitation experts learn from the past, toilet equipment manufacturers improve their products and the people spread awareness on hygienic sanitation. We suggest you add this unusual outing to your itinerary. Where? Palam Dabri Marg, New Delhi. Timings: Open on all days (except Sunday) from 10 am-5 pm.
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Marine mysteries Discover the deep blue secrets at the Taraporewla Aquarium, Mumbai. This museum was built in 1951 and is home to 100 species of marine and freshwater fish including seven different types of coral fish from Lakshadweep Islands. Get up, close and personal with marine creatures like the octopus, shark, turtle, sea horse and more here. Three large rooms play home to the fish and aquatic plants, in addition to the rare shells and fish preserved in bottles. Also on display are jewels carved from pearls, complete with information on the various stages of growth in a pearl. The authorities are planning to upgrade the aquarium to an underwater oceanarium that will allow people to walk and observe under the water. Where? Marine Drive, Mumbai. Timings: Open all days (except Monday) from 11 am-8 pm and 10 am-8 pm on Sunday.
Restoring rhythm How does one keep safe the melodies that live in our hearts for the younger generation? One of the simplest ways would be to drop by at the Karnataka Folk Museum, Bengaluru and learn about their traditional folk culture. The museum plays an elegant host to 6,500 folk items like instruments, costumes, masks, puppets, etc, which take one on a melodious journey. You’d also find folk music collections and folk dance videotapes here. The people behind the museum, which is divided into three buildings, feel that the true spirit of a place can be found in its song and folklore, hence the emphasis on preserving the same. However, they’re keeping safe other aspects of the folk life too. Lokamatha Mandira exhibits an assortment of utensils, baskets and earthen jars used to store food. Chitrakuteera, the third building displays photographs that cover various aspects of folk life. Where? Sheshadripuram, Bengaluru. Timings: Open from Wednesday to Monday from 9 am-5:30 pm.
We invite you to a history class that revolves around rich textiles, lovely music, colourful aquatic life et al
Waxed to perfection Did you know that we have our own version of Madame Tussauds? We’re home to two wax museums, in Goa and Ooty. Goa’s Wax World Museum has on display over 30 life-size figurines including that of Osho, Radha-Krishna, Shankaracharya and Ramkrishna Paramahansa carved out of paraffin wax. Shreeji Bhaskaran, the owner of this museum, has sculpted these figurines. Bhaskaran is the man behind India its first wax museum in Ooty. One of the main attractions in Goa is the sculpture of the ‘Last Supper’ and a statue called ‘say no to drugs’. A walk through the museum acquaints one on our art and history. Where? Mahatma Gandhi Circle, North Goa. Timings: All days (except Saturday-Sunday) from 9.30am-6pm.
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Soulfully Sufi A sudden spate of Sufi-Inspired songs have captured the attention of the audiences like never before
words MA Afroz
ufi music, the devotional music of Sufis, has been inspired by the works of poets like Rumi, Hafiz, Bulleh Shah and Khwaja Ghulam Farid with qawwali being its most well-known form. It is said to be a tool for the believer to get closer to God, dissolving the physical realm into the spiritual one by polishing the heart and enhancing the spiritual aspect of the human being over the physical being. It is central to the Sema ceremony of the whirling dervishes which is set to a form of music called ayin, a vocal and instrumental piece featuring Turkish classical instruments like ney, a reed flute.
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Sufism is a mystic and an ascetic movement which originated in the Golden Age of Islam around the 9th to 10th centuries. The emergence of Sufism is a consequence of the wide geographical spread of Islam after the Rashidun conquests, and the resulting absorption of a wide range of mystic traditions from outside Arabia, especially Greater Persia. Sufism became a more formalised movement by the 12th century and was immensely successful throughout the Muslim world between the 13th and 16th centuries. The central theme and idea behind Sufism is based heavily on meditation and finding truth. With a more liberal approach and special focus on meditation and interactive worship, Sufis are provided an opportunity to create art, write poetry and perform music. The Indian sub-continent has been a hotspot for Sufism. This diverse and rich mystical aspect of Islam also has a rich musical tradition that is central to worship and expression within Sufism. In fact, the Indian sub-continent has been the epicentre for Sufi music or Chishty Sufi qawwali/ sama. Qawwali is a genre of Sufi music that is generally associated with Chishty Sufi Order of Ajmer Sharif. It is a lively and very energetic type of spiritual music that draws heavily upon the emotions of the performer and his/ her interaction with the crowd. Filmmaker Muzaffar Ali shares that Sufi(ism) is a concept and has a particular manner of singing. “It’s food for a soul. We have been conducting Jahan-e-Khusrau, the annual world Sufi festival, for more than a decade now. It is a celebration of mystics and a platform from where artistes from various parts of the world come together to promote the unique culture we share with each other,” he says. In India, Sufi-inspired songs have been dominating airwaves across the nation and have grown the most in the past five years as Bollywood films have had an ever-growing inclination towards Sufi songs. It all started with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s ”Aafreen aafreen” 1990’s video which was the first trigger that charmed Bollywood’s creative community. However, it was in 2003 that a movie incorporated a Sufi song for the first time, Kailash Kher singing ”Toota toota aik parinda aise toota, ke phir jud na paaya...” in Waisa April-June 2013 | 39
The central theme and idea behind Sufism is based heavily on meditation and finding truth
Bhi Hota Hai Part 2. As the tune of this song wafted through the air, even those with fleeting interest in music stopped, heard, hummed and admired it, triggering the trend of hummable Sufi-inspired songs in Hindi movies. As audiences in all age groups and walks of life swayed to these songs, Bollywood took no time in cashing on them. In fact, some movies went onto customise Sufi songs like in the case of ”Ranjha Ranjha karke main” in Raavan and ”Maula maula” in Delhi 6 that had the entire nation swinging to AR Rahman’s soulful music. Author Sharat Dutt feels music directors like Rahman use the concept of Sufi music intelligently. “He combines Sufism and Western music to the hilt to come out with admirable compositions,” he says. On his part, Rahman shares, “Before composing pious Sufi songs, I do vazu (ablution before offering prayer) and leave the rest to God. I even sing them at concerts but my head is always covered as a mark of respect for Sufi saints.” Lyricist Prasoon Joshi feels Sufism cannot be expressed in words and needs to be felt. “It is a thought, a philosophy. You cannot draw a line in its expression as doing so is going against the philosophy of Sufism. There is a couplet by Surdas which says Jaise aik goonge ko, meethe phal kau ras, antargat hee bhave (a speech-impaired cannot describe how much he loved a citrus fruit. One can only make out through his twinkling eyes),” he says. Joshi goes on to add that Sufi thought, therefore, can be performed in qawwalis, in popular songs, in ghazals and even in Rock. “Sufism cannot be expressed in words. It is as profound as it is simple. For example, Amir Khusrau’s ”Mere Khwaja ghar aaye, main to khari thi bindiya lagaye...” These are beautiful words! Only poetry-lovers can understand it, not critics. It can be performed in all possible ways,” he shares. 40 | axisbank.com