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WEEKLY MAGAZINE, DECEMBER 4, 2011 Free with your copy of Hindustan Times

Renewed, rejigged, reformed: the selfconfessed ‘psycho, crackpot kid’ of saas-bahu TV is now the daring diva of Hindi cinema

27, 2011 , NOVEMBER Times WEEKLY MAGAZINE copy of Hindustan Free with your

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Ekta Kapoor Version 2.0

Special 5 Part Series: Tales of The First Firangis

We’re Logged On

Nikhita Prabhakar Wat an awsum cover page. Wid supa cool wintr tips..2dayz issue gets a big thumbs up 4m mah side. Dev Raj Gulati Seema Goswami gave no examples from the Indian context in her write up of Nov 27.


The Custard Boy

I have no trouble at all in admitting that I love nursery food PLAY

Time To Say Goodbye

From fax machines to dial-up modems, here’s a look at some truly obsolete technology LISTEN

What Will You Wear This Winter?

Part Four – Jean-Baptiste Tavernier The Heera-Wallah of Golconda

Something about the Deccan kingdom – the ‘public women’, the gigantic diamonds – kept Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Tavernier coming back for more Next Week: The story of Niccolao Manucci, the Siddha Vaidya of Madras

Calling All Tweeple @KushangDholakia @RajivMakhni I loved the way you compared extinction of old technologies in today’s article I read in Brunch. Really informative! @BhavnoorSB@RajivMakhni DVDs are still somewhat surviving, middle class families prefer rent-a-dvd concept. Blu ray is way out before in. agree. @selurus @RajivMakhni CDs will be dead once USB drives are cheap enough to be given away. @vishaltaunk Awesome weight loss strategies this Winter...hmm this Article puts me even more on diet.. @SmartPhoneCrazy Bang on Target Rajiv. Dead. Dead. Dead.

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What we wear has a huge impact on how we feel about ourselves

Now playing: soothing, acoustic covers of all the biggies – Diamond, Dylan, Springsteen and more

Ajay Dinanath Mourya Tale of the First Firangis by Thomas Stephens is a excellent piece of work presented by Brunch gave us an glimpse of goan literature.

Unni Krishnan The underbelly of Dubai is the secret capital of Kerala!

Wear Your Attitude

On a Roll

Bikram Ray The big chill was a hit. It was a complete collection of how to take care of us in winter. The great starting of winter had started from big chill. I like the issue.

Vijayalakshmi Narayanan A timely issue to counter the winter chill and protect skin & hair against damage. Keep it up guys :)



She may well have discovered time travel. Her TV soaps pushed us back to the dark ages, but her cinema is edgy and forward-looking.


BRUNCH ON THE WEB Why are our bloggers better than #kolaveri? 1. Gursimran Khamba is a pissed off writer, who would never write something he himself could call a #flopsong. 2. Rajneesh Kapoor, whose Rezi Vastav comic strip is released every Tuesday, is very clearly written and doesn’t need subtitles. 3. The Fake Jhunjhunwala has so much money that he would rather buy the whole town his lady love lives in instead of making a superhit viral about it. And most importantly, they can collectively kick any #soupboy’s backside whenever they want! PS. We love #kolaveri at Brunch and can’t stop hearing it on a loop, so no hard feelings Dhanush!

FEED BACK Legendary tales

I REFER to the story by Jonathan Gil Harris in your issue (Tales of the First Firangis: The Marathi Poet of Goa, 27 November) about Goa and in particular his references to Father Stephens. It is a well known fact that Fr Stephens’ Kristapurana is considered as a classic in Marathi language. I fondly remember having studied extracts from his Kristapurana and particularly the references to the glory of Marathi language in my school days about 60 years ago. These extracts were a part of the prescribed text book on Marathi for students of Marathi medium schools. Thanks for publishing the story. — B M BHIDE, Mumbai

Handled with care

Flirty skirts or practical pants? Choose from the two big trends PERSONAL AGENDA

Shabana Azmi

The legendary All New actress explains Questions! Twitter to her grandma and why she thinks that getting a tattoo is gross! RED HOT! Bollywood dons the colour of the season

ARTICLES BY Seema Goswami always make you think deeper about different aspects of life. After reading her article, The Cougar Effect (Spectator, November 27) I was wondering whether it is just older women who are being dumped by their young spouses. Actually I would like to differ. We belong to a restless generation where we get easily bored with whatever is readily available to us. As soon as the challenge ends so does our interest. This is not applicable just to our professional lives but also to our social and personal lives. When we don’t find anything else to explore in our respective partners, we start looking outside our marriages. This is one of the main reasons for the high rate of divorce across the globe. Hats off to Seema for dealing with this and similar delicate subjects so beautifully. — RACHNA GOGIA, New Delhi

NEW SLIDESHOW As scarlet becomes the flavour of this season, catch the Bollywood divas as they paint the town red in winter’s favourite hue. Log in to see these lovely ladies outred each other in breathtaking ensembles and don’t forget to tell us who you thought fared the best!

Have you seen our Brunch Quarterly photoshoot with Vidya Balan yet? Log on for this and an all-access pass to your favourite stories from this and previous Brunch Quarterly issues.

EDITORIAL: Poonam Saxena (Editor), Kushalrani Gulab (Deputy Editor); Tavishi Paitandy Rastogi, Mignonne Dsouza, Veenu Singh, Parul Khanna Tewari, Pranav Dixit, Yashica Dutt, Amrah Ashraf

Right from the start

I’VE ALWAYS been a huge fan of Brunch, ever since the first issue was published and always longed to read the birth date of celebrities in the Personal Agenda column. The new questions which have been introduced are very interesting. Vir Sanghvi is a master in making even mundane food look exotic with his linguistic skills. I love Brunch! — MAMTA, via email

DESIGN: Ashutosh Sapru (National Editor Design), Swati Chakrabarti, Rakesh Kumar, Ashish Singh, Saket Misra, Suhas Kale, Shailendra Mirgal


Cover design: Ashutosh Sapru Photo: Ajay Aggarwal

Jean-Baptiste Tavernier (1605-89) is a little different from the other firangis I have written about in this series. He was a firangi in the literal sense – a French visitor to India. But unlike Thomas Coryate, Augustin Hunarmand, or Thomas Stephens, he didn’t die here. What he did do, however, was to keep coming back, as the title of his celebrated travel narrative The Six Voyages of Jean-Baptiste Tavernier (1676) makes clear. In particular, he kept coming back to Golconda, the kingdom in the Deccan ruled by the Qutb Shahi dynasty. I visited Hyderabad, the Golconda capital founded by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah in 1591, to find out why. Like Tavernier, I am a serial visitor to India. But in an age of jet airliners, luxury hotels, and air-conditioned cars, travel means for me something quite different from what it meant for Tavernier. We tend to associate travel with a welcome respite from the rigours of work. But the original meaning of “travel,” derived from “travail” and the French verb “travailler” (to work), tells a different story. In the seventeenth century, one had to work particularly hard – and at substantial risk to one’s life – to reach India from Europe. If you took the long sea route (as did Stephens), you faced the possibility of shipwreck, piracy, and scurvy. If you travelled overland on the Silk Route (as did Coryate and Hunarmand), you were likely to encounter bandits and all manner of deadly illnesses. And in India itself, you had to reckon with intense heat on top of everything else. To travel once from Europe to India, and live to tell the tale, meant you were lucky. To travel half a dozen times meant you were mad – or driven by a passion bordering on love. Jean-Baptiste Tavernier caught the travel bug early: he probably inherited it from his father, a Protestant refugee from Antwerp who mesmerised his son with absorbing tales about faraway lands. In his teens, Tavernier roamed around Europe, but he hungered to see more exotic places. Between 1631 and 1633, he journeyed to Asia, getting only as far as Isfahan in Persia before returning to Paris. His next journey was from 1638 until 1643, during which he visited Golconda for the first time. Upon returning to


ASPECIAL FIVE PART SERIES: Part Four–Jean-Baptiste Tavernier



OUNCING IN an auto-scooter on the pot-holed roads of the purana shahar of Hyderabad, inhaling thick black exhaust fumes while arguing with the paan-spitting driver about what he wanted to charge, I wondered: what would bring a firangi back, again and again and again, to this place?

THE HEERA-WALLAH OF GOLCONDA Something about the Deccan kingdom – the exotica, the ‘public women’, the gigantic diamonds – kept Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Tavernier coming back for more text and photos by Jonathan Gil Harris

MESMERISED Tavernier marvelled at the famous Charminar in the city centre as well as Hyderabad’s wide boulevards and bridges

CITY OF STONE Jean-Baptiste Tavernier was dazzled by the old Golconda fort, the huge walled hill-city hewn from the granite boulders that dominate the Deccan landscape. It was built in the thirteenth century and even in its current ruined state, is a haunting wonder



France, he stayed only a few months. His third voyage, from 1643 to 1649, took him all the way to Java, with lengthy stays again in Golconda. His subsequent trips (1651-55, 1657-62 and 1664-68) also featured Golconda prominently in their itineraries. So what kept bringing Tavernier back to the Deccan? The obvious answer is heera: diamonds. Golconda was famous for its diamond mines; virtually every major diamond at the time – including the Koh-i-Noor – is supposed to have come from them. The mines may be fallow now, but to this day Hyderabad remains a clearing house for precious jewels and pearls, available in the throng of bangle stores in the old city’s Laad Bazaar. Tavernier was fascinated by the size of the Golconda diamonds, which he describes at length in his travel narrative. The profit motive certainly loomed large for him: the money he made from selling Golconda diamonds to both Mughal and European kings not only helped bankroll his journeys but also made him fabulously wealthy. He was, by the 1660s, rich enough to buy a castle in Switzerland, and the French King Louis appointed him a baron. Yet the prospect of financial gain was clearly not the only reason that Tavernier kept coming back to Golconda. With the capital he amassed, he could have easily paid middle-men to do the dangerous work of travelling to India and purchasing diamonds. Something else must have kept tugging him back. A quick look at his biography suggests another possibility: in the 1660s, by which time Tavernier was in his late fifties, he was still a bachelor, against the will of his family. Indeed, one wonders if the short durations of his stays at “home” in Paris were prompted by family pressure on him to marry; every time a potential bride was brought for his inspection, he seems to have been on the next boat or caravan to India. Did business take precedence over romance? Or did he have a love in Golconda? Tavernier doesn’t mention love in his writings. But he demonstrates a surprising amount of knowledge about the prostitutes and courtesans of Hyderabad. He notes, without any hint of moral condemnation, that the city boasts an unusually ITEM GIRL? In an extraordinary painting by Nicolas de Largillère, Tavernier looks more like a languorous Bollywood item girl than a rugged traveller

LIKE THE ROYALS The Qutb Shahis’ magnificent tombs next to Golconda Fort strongly reflect Mughal architecture

high number of “public women” – 20,000 by his reckoning. And he is impressed by how they ply their trade in concert with toddy-retailers, who get potential customers in the mood for love. At first glance, the Hyderabad of 2011 could not be more different. In this city where Shi’a is the dominant Muslim sect, there are few traces of “public women.” But there are countless women in public: although many are clad in full black chador and hijab, they shop unfettered in the streets of the old city. To this extent, they are in the tradition of their seventeenth-century ancestors, who – as another French visitor, Jean de Thevenot, observed in 1666 – moved through town with “great Liberty.” Maybe Tavernier was attracted, temperamentally and even sexually, to this liberty. Or maybe it wasn’t Hyderabad’s women but its men who attracted him. Tavernier makes a point of saying that “All the people of GOLCONDA, both men and women, are well proportioned, of good stature, and of fair countenance.” This is no mere ethnographic observation: he seems to have spent a lot of time looking at Indian men, their bodies, and how they comported themselves. He was particularly fascinated by the sumptuous dress of rich Indian gentlemen; after receiving from a Mughal aristocrat a gift of khil’at (clothes as a token of imperial favour), he insisted on wearing turban and flowing robes everywhere he went – as depicted by Nicolas de Largillère in an extraordinary painting where Tavernier looks more like a languorous Bollywood item girl than a rugged traveller. With my travelling companion, I too donned Hyderabadi aristocratic attire for a photo-op at the Chowmahalla Palace (the former abode of the Nizams). Tavernier would surely have approved. And asked me where I got my necklaces. Tavernier did finally marry, between journeys in 1663. But within a year he had fled for yet another trip to India. Whether or not he had another love interest in Golconda, he seems by this time to have fallen deeply in love with its culture, including its food. He praises in particular a Hyderabadi whitefish that he calls “smelt.” I wasn’t able to identify what it was, but I feasted at the Jewel of Nizam restaurant on a tasty dum ki machli, its fish seasoned to perfection and accompanied by a dessert of khubani ka meetha (sweet stewed apricots) and supaari. Tavernier was equally starry-eyed about the design of Golconda’s cities. What we now call the old city of Hyderabad was then still a new metropolis; Tavernier marvelled at the famous Charminar in the city centre as well as

PICTURE PERFECT The author donned Hyderabadi aristocratic attire for a photoop at the Chowmahalla Palace. Tavernier would have approved

Hyderabad’s wide boulevards and bridges, which probably looked much more impressive a mere fifty years after their construction than they do today. He was also dazzled – as was I – by the old Golconda fort, the huge walled hill-city hewn from the granite boulders that everywhere dominate the Deccan landscape. First built in the thirteenth century, it was substantially upgraded by the Qutb Shahi rulers before its destruction in 1687 by Aurangzeb. Even in its current ruined state, it is a haunting wonder. The culture of Golconda owed much to the rule of the Qutb Shahis. Indeed, Tavernier couldn’t have felt as comfortable as he did in Hyderabad without the unique cosmopolitan world the Qutb Shahis had fostered there. Golconda’s immensely cultured ruling dynasty was of Persian origin, blended with Arab and Turkish – a heritage reflected in the distinctly western Asian designs, so different from Mughal architecture, of the Qutb Shahis’ magnificent tombs next to Golconda Fort. And the Qutb Shahis also invited, for purposes of trade, huge numbers of Europeans into Hyderabad. As Thevenot wrote, “there are many Franks in this city,” and by this he meant firangis of many nations: Portugal, Holland, and England as well as France. Vestiges of Golconda’s cosmopolitan culture remain in modern Hyderabad where signs are written in four languages – Telugu, Urdu, Hindi and English. Even in the days before Tavernier’s death in 1689, at the ripe age of 84, he was probably still dreaming of Golconda. The heera-wallah died in Russia, on one last expedition; rumour has it he was trying to make his way back to India. Next week: Niccolao Manucci, the Siddha Vaidya of Madras. Jonathan Gil Harris is Professor of English at George Washington University in Washington, DC. The author of five books on William Shakespeare’s plays and culture, he is currently spending a year in India researching a new book about European travellers to India in the time of Shakespeare





Version 2.0 Ekta Kapoor

Ekta Kapoor may well have discovered time travel. Her TV soaps pushed us back to the dark ages, but her cinema is edgy and forward-looking by Tavishi Paitandy Rastogi photos Ajay Aggarwal



T WAS the beginning of the year 2000. Satellite TV had arrived in India just under 10 years ago and was already charting unconventional territory with serials such as Hasratein, Tara, Swabhimaan etc, which dealt with women friends, working women, forbidden love and other such themes. It was all quite different from what TV audiences were used to – but they were loving it. That’s when Ekta Kapoor walked into the Star Plus office with her “different” story ideas. “Different” is a mild term. Ekta’s serials were traditional, melodramatic and a throwback to another era altogether, when mothers-in-law were nasty and wicked and daughters-in-law cringe-makingly subservient. “So out of sync with the nation’s modern, progressive psyche,” cried the critics. There was overall consensus that with sagas like Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi and Kahani Ghar Ghar Kii, TV had regressed by 20 years. But that was then. Today, Ekta still does TV but she has shifted her focus to movies. And her 70mm avatar is nothing like her small screen persona. As a film producer, she has some very unconventional, interesting films to her credit. Be it the racy Love, Sex Aur Dhoka with its experimental theme and format, the unusual Shor In The City, the gritty gangster film Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai, or the just released, bold The Dirty Picture, her foray into films has revealed a new, improved Ekta. A no-holds barred interview with the new Ms Kapoor. From soap queen on television to a movie czarina, you seem to have made the transition quite effortlessly. Wow! Does it look like that? (laughs). Quite the contrary, actually. Though I have to confess that I had great fun on TV and am beginning to have fun in films too. I say ‘beginning,’ because in films I am still a newbie. We are just about starting up and it is rather tough. We are the newest studio, with no background of filmmaking, no money, no international associations and not too much to talk about – except for a couple of small budget films. So really, why would anybody risk working with us? That’s not really true. After all, you were the biggest TV production house. And when it comes to films, there is


DECEMBER 4, 2011

always your father’s name, Jeetendra, that works, right? I knew you would say that! Of course, dad’s name counts, and that gets a lot of respect. But the fact of that respect turning into work is not a given. Having said that, work comes and people are ready to risk working with you if you are established in some ways. For me, there really was nothing. I had done TV but had no experience in films. I had done films but they were a one-off or in collaboration with other production houses. Till of course Love, Sex Aur Dhokha (LSD) happened. I call that my beginning. How did LSD happen? I met Dibakar (Bannerjee, the director of LSD) and he wanted to make a film that was somewhat commercial in nature but also experimental. He didn’t require a big budget, but he wanted a producer who would understand the storyline and not interfere too much with the creative aspect. He had done some good films earlier, but both Khosla Ka Ghosla and Oye Lucky Lucky Oye were modest in nature and appeal. With LSD, he wanted to push the envelope. We were happy to do that. So in a way, LSD was also a good start for me. That it was. The kind of films that you have made, whether it’s LSD, Shor In The City, Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai or even Ragini MMS and now The Dirty Picture, they are all so contemporary. In fact, they seem to be taking the film industry years ahead. That, coming from a production house blamed for taking television 20 years into the past is quite a change.

I really don’t believe that I set TV back by 20 years. People, well, critics to be specific, said so. I never did. In fact, I love the work I did on TV. And going by the TRPs, so did the masses. Yes, it was populist in nature, so it just didn’t suit the elite. But it did what it was meant to do – reach out to the masses. It isn’t anything new. In fact, it is rather common to pull down anything populist. My serials created icons. Tell me, can anybody deny what a Kahani or a Kyunki did to regular households? Suddenly every Gujarati home sat up and started acknowledging the Ba (grandmother) in their home who had otherwise been neglected as just another old person at home. Most houses in Gujarat and UP or Bihar still start their day with ‘Jai Shri Krishna.’ So how can something that completely takes over the psyche of almost the entire nation be so wrong? I really feel that if I justify them, I demean them. I think Kyunki and Kahani were just brilliant. Does that mean that the nation doesn’t get moved by more intelligent stuff? I agree that my serials were not the most intellectual or intelligent in nature. But you cannot deny that they were ‘thinking’ dramas. They were thought-provoking yet very simplistic. And it was perhaps the simplicity of the situations and the characters that connected. Coming back from the dead, going to bed in full makeup and jewellery... really simple? Look, I tell stories. It is the sto-

ries that connect. The rest is the paraphernalia. Daily serials are your daily dose of entertainment. They need to be a mix of drama, sometimes high energy. The jewellery and the costumes add to the aspirational touch. It is essentially like your regular homemade food, with added tadka once in a while. You know, there were many times when people came up to me on the road and in airports and told me their opinions about some character in a serial and how they felt that he/she should behave. A lot of times, I took the feedback and I remember I would call Ashwani Yardi, who was the creative head with Star Plus then, and discuss any possible plot change or necessary drama. And what of those headache-inducing jerky camera movements during important scenes? But that was the TV style of the time! There really was no great technique available. And don’t forget we were catering to an audience that was a mix of a mother who was perhaps also cooking for the family, a father who could have switched to a news channel, kids who were busy with other things and grandparents who just may have dozed off in the middle. So when you needed to grab the attention of all these people, you had to use ways and means that would get them hooked. You needed to make sure that every person, even the one who had just walked in, waited for the climax. But didn’t the drama become a bit too much? If you say you started realistically, didn’t it all go haywire with so many new characters, silly plots like the mother killing the son, extramarital affairs etc? By the end of it, around 2008 or so, I agree, we somewhere lost the plot. And that was because I honestly was threatened. I was scared of Colors being launched and I started doing what others told me to do. My storylines and plots were more according what other people thought they should be. I guess I stopped thinking. I stopped being myself. So obviously things did go a bit haywire. And then came the famous low point of Ekta Kapoor… That’s the point, it wasn’t my low point. Yes, professionally things did go awry, but what I did not understand was why were people writing me off completely. Critics, rivals, everybody seemed to be having a field day at my cost. Rivals claimed I was paying money to actors to give up acting in their serials. Tabloids wrote that my brother and I were fighting over property and other personal issues, leading to the downfall of Balaji. A lot of machinations happened. It wasn’t nice.

I would love to work with the Khans, if only they agree to work with me (laughs). Like I said, I am still a newbie and it will take a while maybe for big stars to have confidence in me and my films. I would love to work with Shah Rukh Khan. He's a big favourite.

What did you do? After a point, I stopped reading the papers. I still don’t read them. And that was the phase when I learnt to disassociate myself at a personal level from everything. Now I treat my profession as just that. I don’t get affected by what people say. I do exactly what I feel is right. I just believe in one thing, I came into the industry in spite of huge resistance. I survived and made it to the top, in spite of all the criticism and I will make it work again.


Bade Achche Lagte Hain on Sony (currently on air) Kasamh Se on Zee (2006 - 2009)

Kasauti Zindagi Kii on Star Plus (2001 - 2008) YOUR BEST FILMS?

Love, Sex Aur Dhoka Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai The Dirty Picture FAVOURITE SERIALS EVER ON TV?

Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi Des Mein Nikla Hoga Chaand Banegi Apni Baat Dexter Shameless You talk of catering to the audience but isnt the audience the same for films? Then, how are your films so different? (Laughs) Movies, unlike TV, are like hotel food. You pick and choose what you order and eat. So in movies, I do exactly what I want to do. Here also, my basic premise is a good storyline, but the presentation is more my way. Also, in a film, you have to pack every element in two-and-a-half hours. So whatever is shown needs to be packaged perfectly. The impact has to be made in one go. But your films have also been brave. I have always believed that whatever be the creative outlook, commerce is very important in any business. And that has to be kept in mind. My films have been different, but honestly I wouldn’t call them very brave. Not LSD, nor Shor In The City, for example. They were different films, made with a certain mindset, for a certain audience, and they worked. Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai was your regular commercial film. For me, what is brave is The Dirty Picture. I have tried to mix the two – the classes and the masses – for the first time. On one side, I have made a film about a soft porn superstar. She was all skin and sex. And on the other side, I am claiming that hey, this is not a film about her skin and sex show. Also, it isn’t a sob story either. She wasn’t a victim. Yet, this is her story. It is about a woman, who was bold, in your face and completely unapologetic. She celebrated her sexuality. She became a force to reckon with. So it is really quite tricky (laughs). To make a movie about a sex siren that is not a documentary and make it in such a way that it is not titillating, is definitely a brave attempt. I have taken a risk with this one. A big gamble. This can swing any way.




Maine Pyaar Kiya Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham No One Killed Jessica As Good As It Gets Dev.D FAVOURITE ACTORS?

Sakshi Tanwar Mona Singh Ajay Devgn Shah Rukh Khan DIRECTORS YOU WANT TO WORK WITH?

Karan Johar Sanjay Leela Bhansali R Balki Milan Luthria Your casting too has been very unconventional. Who would have thought of Vidya Balan as Silk Smitha? That’s the fun. You get people who are not known for what you want to cast them as. It’s a challenge but it works wonderfully. The surprise element is great. For me, this entire film has been a gamble. I started The Dirty Picture with a loss of R10 crore. People told me not to take it up. I did. People told me not to cast Vidya in this role. I did. The same people today are stunned. Talking of casting, why haven’t you cast any of the Khans in your films? Well, I would love to, if only they agree to work with me (laughs). Like I said, I am still a newbie and it will take a while maybe for big stars to have confidence in me and my films. I would love to work with Shah Rukh Khan. He’s a big favourite. Going back to the ‘people’ or ‘critics,’ they seem to have always been on your case. You are panned endlessly. Doesn’t it hurt? Really, I couldn’t care less. I am quite stubborn that way. I do exactly what I wish to do. And as long as I connect with the people I want to connect with – my audience in this case – I don’t care about anyone else.

said about me. I really don’t want to talk about it at all. I feel that it gives the matter unnecessary credence. But yes, if you ask, then I will agree that I do have a temper. And when you are working on something that caters to the livelihood of some 200 people, you really don’t want to mess with it. So yes, there have been times when I have lost my temper and have got angry, but that’s natural. I take my work very seriously and I expect others to do the same. Has anybody ever realised that the anger outburst could be out of sheer helplessness? Having said that, I don’t justify anything. And I am working hard on keeping my temper in control. Not because I feel it is wrong, but because if you are in a certain position and there is an outburst, people view it negatively. Then even a helpless expression of emotion becomes a tantrum. That apart, tell me, if I was such a nutcase, why would people work with me for years together? Most of my people have been with me for years. You ask Chloe, (she points to her assistant who is sitting with us) she has been with me for 10 years. There has to be some merit, right? And what of those famous 2am meetings? Oh! I don’t have them any more. I can’t. It was different when I was younger, in my 20s. Now, I can’t do it. My health doesn’t permit it. I miss them though.

just magic. And the people involved really didn’t mind or care about time schedules. In fact, they now feel that Balaji is very corporatised and sanitised. They sometimes call it boring! You are also known to be very religious? I am a very spiritual, karmic person. But I am not stupidly religious, as is commonly believed. I am a lot into colour therapy. I think astrology is a wonderful science and I am not unnecessarily superstitious. So what was all that ‘K’ factor all about? That was more of a brand exercise than anything else. We wanted the audience to identify our work instantly. The ‘K’ factor helped. Why so many rings and threads on your wrists? Just like that. These rings are for various things – health, love, communication, prosperity etc., and the threads – they are from the many temples that I keep visiting. They tie these there and I just don’t take them off. I like wearing them and to all those fashionistas who cry foul, I just ask, ‘why should I do what you expect me to do?’

Yes, there have been times that I have lost my temper and have got angry, but that’s natural. I take my work very seriously and I expect others to do the same. Has anybody ever realised that the angry outburst could be out of sheer helplessness?

But isn’t it better to clarify the accusations? Clarify what? There are a lot of things that are

I am sure your colleagues don’t miss them! Oh, you are mistaken – they miss it more than me. Those who worked in Balaji in the initial years crib and rant about the fact that now it isn’t the same. The creative energy and the madness of those days was



It is perhaps this “couldn’t care less” and aggressive attitude of yours that also gets people talking. You are known to bulldoze over your colleagues. There are also stories that you have slapped people. Oh pleeeeeeaasse! No personal questions…

In an interview to this newspaper nearly a decade ago, you had described yourself as a psycho, crackpot kid. You seem to have matured... (Laughs) Yes, now I am a psycho, crackpot woman! No, seriously, you do grow with age, no? And your actions and reactions become more sorted. But I still remain an impulsive, temperamental person. I deal with people on an emotional level. You either love me or hate me. You cannot ignore me!


WHAT WILL YOU WEAR THIS WINTER? Flirty skirts (all lengths and types) or practical pants (cropped and coloured)? Choose from these two big trends by Parul Khanna Tewari



kirts have had great fashion moments – Marilyn Monroe epitomised a skirt, so did Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly. Very recently, it was Britney Spears who gave skirts a naughty name. ■ Skirts are associated with femininity (even now) and are sexy. A hint of skin, a frivolous play of the fabric around a woman’s body, make it a pleasure for men to see a woman in a skirt. Says fashion stylist Amit Hansraj, “Someone wearing a skirt well comes across as eclectic, experimental and free-spirited.” ■ This year fashion designers are going gaga over skirts. Marc Jacobs had models in fitted pencil skirts, Louis Vuitton showcased A-line ones in lush velvets, Christian Dior had silk knee-length pleated ones, Chloé had maxi ones and Moschino propagated floorskimming, ghera or pleated ones. And of course, minis too were a favourite with Dior and Viktor & Rolf. ■ But skirts are very difficult to carry off. You need to be in shape to carry off a skirt. Great legs are a prerequisite. Most skirts require you to tuck in the blouse or wear a belt. That can be tough if A model in you have bulge on your stomach. Michael Kors ■ Skirts are also a little restrictive. Before a at New York skirt day, take into account the direction of Fashion Week the wind, stairs you might have to climb and 2011-12 the way you sit.



here has been an evolution of sorts with pants – from being the working woman’s outfit (worn by women working in the factories in the 19th century and during the Second World War) to now, when it is a must-have on the hangers in your wardrobe and a staple showcased on the ramps by designer houses such as Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Hermès, Gucci and Brioni. ■ Pants still remain a more utilitarian (they keep you warm) than fashionable option for most women. Especially for Indian women, says fashion designer Nachiket Barve, “It is only now that women have started experimenting with pants outside the purview of office wear. They are realising that practicality can be matched with style.” ■ Pants conceal as well as reveal (the shape of your posterior, to be precise). They work well for pear-shaped Indian women – a long tunic can hide a stomach bulge or an ungainly backside and a short one can flaunt a ‘Pippa’ derriere. ■ They are versatile - pair them with a A model in white shirt and you are office-ready. Brioni at With a tee, head for a casual outing. Milan FashWith a silk, cleavage-revealing ion Week blouse, pants look high-fashion. 2011-12


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Wear Your Attitude


Seema Goswami


F ALL the charities that I have read about recently, there’s one that really captured my imagination. It’s called Dress for Success and its patron saint is my favourite comedienne, Jennifer Saunders (best-known for having written and played Edina in Absolutely Fabulous). The objective of this charity is simple: it helps women who have been out of work for a long time – and thus don’t have the appropriate wardrobe for a job interview, or the money to buy one – get back into employment by finding them the right outfits for their job interviews. These outfits are donated by various companies and individuals as well as by several clothing brands, and women volunteers – including the British PM’s wife, Samantha Cameron, who often makes an incognito appearance – help their unemployed sisters to Dress for Success by choosing the right clothes for them and coaching them on interview techniques to build up their confidence before they hit the job market. It probably doesn’t sound like much, and yet this simple mantra of dressing right for an interview and thus landing a job has transformed the lives of thousands of women. Just the act of putting on a businesslike outfit, a neat pair of shoes, and a smart handbag boosts the confidence level of these women who have, over the years, come to think of themselves as worthless. They walk into their next job interview feeling more in control, more focused, and yes, more confident. And that new outlook often spells the difference between success and failure, between unemployment and a thriving career, between hopelessness and a bright and gleaming future. And it all begins with the right outfit. Because, when you think about it, how we dress has a huge impact on how we feel about ourselves – and how other people feel about us. If you spend all day at home schlepping around in a track-suit or a shapeless caftan, the odds are that you will feel lazy and sloppy. Dress up in a smart trouser-suit or put on a pair of high heels and you immediately feel ready to take on the world. Sometimes just putting on a slash of lipstick can lift your spirits on a gloomy morning. A bad-hair day can sink our spirits just as a brand new pair of shoes can put the spring back in our step. Shallow? Perhaps. True? Undoubtedly. But it’s not just about how you feel about yourself. People also judge you by the way you look, and that invariably boils down to what you are wearing. Walk into a meeting with your shirt half-hanging out of your waistband and a suspicious stain on your tie (and no, it doesn’t matter if it materialised mysteriously a couple of minutes before your appointment) and you will be condemned as sloppy before you can even open your mouth. Dirty shoes will completely ruin the impression you’ve made with an immaculate suit. And don’t even bother putting on your makeup if your nails still look grubby. Don’t wear trousers so low-slung that you show off your underwear when you bend down to pick up an errant pen (and that means you too, boys!). And don’t undo the third button on that shirt unless you are actively looking for the ‘sex symbol’ tag. Yes, despite all that elevated nonsense about never going by appearances, we make snap judgements about the people we meet every day. And those judgements are invariably based on what they are wearing. How many times have you passed a woman wearing an ikat sari, an over-sized red bindi, kolhapuri chappals and carrying a cloth bag – or a man in a colourful FabIndia-style


What we wear has a huge impact on how we feel about ourselves – and what others feel about us TOUCH OF COLOUR Sometimes just putting on a slash of lipstick can lift your spirits on a gloomy morning

HIGH TIME! Just the act of putting on a business-like outfit, a neat pair of shoes, and a smart handbag boosts the confidence level of women

kurta and an week’s growth of stubble – and thought to yourself ‘ah, NGO-type’? In fact, the look has even spawned its own description: ‘jholawallah’ after the cloth bag all these ‘NGO types’ carry. Nothing says ‘sales rep’ as much as a short-sleeved shirt worn with tie (but no jacket). Traders can generally be recognised by their safarisuits and large gold rings. A white kurta with a dark waistcoat has become the hallmark of a politician. And unfortunately, in our lexicon, a short skirt or a skimpy dress still translates into ‘slut’. But, how we dress goes even deeper than that. In a sense, every profession has its own ‘uniform’ as it were, an easily recognisable way of identifying someone as part of a ‘tribe’. Those in the fashion industry take particular pride in dressing in an eccentric manner, wearing wildlymismatched colours, avant-garde designs, and completely outrageous accessories. Journalists try to display their nonchalant, devil-may-care attitude by wearing dirty jeans and crumpled T-shirts everywhere. Anyone with a starchy, neatly pinned-up sari, and nononsense flats is in all probability a teacher. And if you see a man wearing an impeccably-tailored suit with a suitably sober tie even in the height of summer, the poor sod is probably middle-management in an MNC. But quite apart from the messages people get from our clothes, how we dress is also a powerful way of projecting the image we want to convey to the world. We put on a colourful scarf when we want to project our playful side. We wear our highest heels when we want to feel sexy and powerful. We carry an expensive handbag to show that we have made it. Yes, what we wear says a lot about who we are – but it also says a lot about how we would like to be perceived.




RIGHT FOOT FORWARD Comedienne Jennifer Saunders is the patron saint for Dress for Success



DECEMBER 4, 2011

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The Custard Boy

I have no trouble at all in admitting that I love nursery food. Perhaps something about those flavours and textures comforts me at a subliminal level. And custard is definitely one of Western cuisine’s greatest inventions

rude food

Vir Sanghvi


SWEET VARIATION The English took to custard as a sauce, using it in nearly every dessert


N THE foodie lexicon, the term ‘nursery food’ is much used to describe relatively unsophisticated dishes that were served to children and have now become adult favourites. In the British context, nursery food has taken on a certain class connotation and is often used for the kind of food served at expensive prep schools. Thus, the food at gentlemen’s clubs, at the House of Lords etc is always dismissed by foodies as nursery food. Because I am outside of the British class system with its attendant baggage, I have no trouble at all in admitting that I love nursery food. A good trifle is a thing of beauty. A great bread-and-butter pudding is worth giving your life for. There’s a lot to be said for a plump but firm crème caramel. And so on. My mother says that it is not just nursery food that I love. She traces my preferences to the stuff I was served as an infant. Everything that was mashed and fed to me as baby food has now come back as grown-up cuisine. Perhaps something about those flavours and textures comforts me at a subliminal level. Nowhere is this more apparent than in my lack of patience with grown-up haute cuisine desserts. French chefs may labour for days over elaborate creations where perfectly baked thin sheets of pastry encase a delicate almond cream and are then topped with a compote of wild berries – but frankly, I couldn’t give a damn. Serve me this sort of rubbish and I will ask for a scoop of vanilla ice cream instead. Oddly enough, I believe that many Indians of my background (i.e. born into the professional middle classes) have the same love of nursery/baby food desserts. My friend Smita Prakash of the ANI news agency has travelled with me to many exotic countries as part of the PM’s media party but her specialty remains a simple jelly trifle. My colleague Vasantha Angamuthu is an expert on unfermented artisanal Japanese soya sauces but her signature dessert is also a jelly trifle. And she shares my passion for custard. Ah, custard! It is one of Western cuisine’s greatest inventions and fortunately not one that the French can lay claim to. They don’t even have a term for custard and the nearest they get to it is Crème Anglaise, a sauce version of the original. The problem, of course, is that we in India don’t really understand or know custard. Oh yes, we think we do. We’ve been eating it for years, I hear you say, and it’s not very nice. It is on every school menu. A little puddle of custard surrounds every basic





CHILDHOOD WONDERS A good trifle (far left) is a thing of beauty. A great bread-andbutter pudding (left) is worth giving your life for. There’s a lot to be said for a plump but firm crème caramel (right)

dessert on a buffet. And any fool can make it. All you need is a packet of custard powder. Well, yes. But mostly: no. When we eat what we think is custard, we’re actually eating a forgery. The term custard does not derive from the sauce. It derives from crustade, the term given to a tart with a crust in medieval times. Such tarts were often filled with a mixture of milk and eggs thickened by gentle heating. This style of pie-making survives. Think of a Quiche Lorraine which is essentially a flan made from a savoury custard. Eventually, the technique of making a custard with milk and eggs became a dessert staple and in the early part of the 20th century, Hollywood made custard pies famous by getting comedians to splatter them on each other’s faces. The English also took to custard as a sauce, using it in nearly every dessert. (The original English custard tart is hard to find now except at retro restaurants). Our custard – the one we’re used to in India – was bequeathed to us by the Empire. But the imperialists were merely following the lead of a certain Mr Bird. And thanks to the Brits and to the aforementioned Bird, genuine custard is now an endangered species. It happened this way. In 1837, Alfred Bird, obviously an early prototype of Ferran Adrià, opened a shop in Birmingham under a sign “Alfred Bird, FCS. Experimental Chemist.” Mr Bird had a wife who loved custard. Unfortunately, she was also allergic to eggs. Out of devotion to her, this 19th century Ferran Adrià invented an eggless custard. He looked at the chemical properties of eggs and reproduced their thickening and binding qualities by using purely vegetarian ingredients. Shortly afterwards, Bird’s custard powder went on sale. It consisted of sugar and cornflour, artificially coloured and flavoured to approximate the taste of real custard. Housewives and lazy chefs loved it because all you had to do was to heat milk and add Mr Bird’s powder. Because there were no eggs, there was no danger of curdling and no care or attention needed to be devoted to the dish. Of course it did not really taste like a true custard but if you used it only as a sauce, how did it matter? The Raj memsahibs who sailed out to India were not great cooks so they came armed with packets of Bird’s custard powder which they passed on to their servants. That tradition survives to this day though there are many other brands in the market, each more disgusting than the last. Therefore, real custard never really had a chance in this country. Because most of us don’t even know its taste, chefs (who are taught how to make the real thing in catering college) can’t be bothered with the complicated version. Besides, there is now an instant PREFERRED CHOICE My colleague Vasantha Angamuthu is an expert on unfermented artisanal Japanese soya sauces but her signature dessert is a jelly trifle


custard mix in which you add some chemical powder to cold milk and – hey presto! – a thick substance with the consistency, colour and taste of refrigerated vomit is produced. This makes it even easier for crap bakeries to produce this kind of artificial custard. Till now, those of us who wanted the real thing were foiled by the ubiquity of the disgusting commercial version. Some of us were lucky enough to buy tetra paks of real custard when we were abroad and to bring them back. Vasantha, for instance, even insists on tetra pak custard for her trifle. While I do love the taste of packaged real custard (it is a baby food memory, remember?), you can’t always depend on friends to bring you tetra paks from abroad. And I lack the expertise to make a good custard at home. A month ago, I had custard cravings and there was none to be found. I thought about it and realised that most bakery chefs probably knew how to make a real custard. We keep ordering cakes and desserts from bakeries. Why not ask the chefs if they can make a Crème Anglaise (they get insulted if you ask them to make custard so you have to use poncy French names) to order? I started with Setz because it has the best ice creams and desserts in Delhi. Chef Nick made me two litres of creamy vanilla-flecked Crème Anglaise. Encouraged by the quality of his custard, I next tried the Oberoi patisserie where chef Deep, newly arrived from Bangalore and looking like Heston Blumenthal, is reworking the menu with his deep understanding of patisserie. I had no interest in Deep’s desire to be like Pierre Herme but I thought to myself “if this guy is so into desserts, he must know how to make a great Crème Anglaise.” I was right. Deep’s custard was rich and wonderful and after a night in the fridge, it tasted even better. Hey! I said to myself. I’m on to something. I called the Maurya next. Yes, they would take the orders for Crème Anglaise. Their version was slightly thinner and probably healthier than Deep’s but chefs Vikas and Francis turned out a delicious custard. Finally, I called the Hyatt Regency where the pastry chef Devender Bungla produced a thick Crème Anglaise with a wonderful depth of flavour. I checked with other hotels. They all said that if you gave them 24-hour notice (as you do with a cake to order) they would be happy to make Crème Anglaise. The problem of course is that this does not come cheap. Their custards are as expensive as their cakes and breads. And while people are willing to pay money for fancy cakes, everyone looks at you a little strangely when you splash out on custard. But I reckon it’s worth it. Some people get their jollies from poncy desserts, fancy cakes and over-elaborate macaroons. Not me. Give me a large bowl of custard and a small spoon (it lasts longer that way) and I am a very happy man.

DECEMBER 4, 2011



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From fax machines to dial-up modems – here’s a look at some truly obsolete technology


Rajiv Makhni


RETIRED HURT Get rid of the fax machine if you don’t want to look ancient (above); Laserdiscs, DVDs and Blu-Rays have dealt a gruelling blow to VCRS (below)

AST WEEK’S column on the death of the CD and all its avatars set off an interesting chain reaction of comments and opinions. Lots of people wrote about the nostalgia they felt about things like developing photo film, the privacy of a pager and how the creative juices flowed better while banging on a typewriter. Many tweeted about how the pace of current technology today makes them feel left behind and how the good old days were better. Which is why this time I’m going with other technology that has become obsolete or redundant and why sometimes cutting edge and new isn’t necessarily better.


I find it amusing that companies and individuals have a dedicated fax machine number on their visiting card. I find it even more amusing when somebody asks for a hard copy to be faxed. In a world of scanning, email attachments and PDFs, faxing is like carving this column out of stone. If you don’t want to sound like your grandfather, get rid of that fax machine and that silly old antiquated visiting card.


family for the phone line and a world of text and C:\ prompts. The replacement to banshee modems are wired and wireless high speed broadband connections. Unfortunately, we are still tearing our hair out at the service and speed.


A must-have uber cool device and a weapon of the ‘on the move’ work warrior, the PDA died as soon as mobile phones got calendar, contacts and to-do lists. But some PDAs till today have more functionality than a smartphone – and some of them look better designed and more user friendly than anything we have today.

It was a perennial issue. The hard drive in your laptop or even desktop ran out of storage all the time. Compression software was a big deal, new hard drives cost as much as the machine, adding a hard drive to a system was as painful as pulling out teeth and deleting and maintaining a hard drive was a full time profession. Today, flash, USB, extra hard drives and even SSDs are as cheap enough to be impulse buys. The Bangkok floods have changed that (hard drive prices have tripled) – but that’s a small, temporary blip. Download those 20 GB 1080p movies – you can fit in another hundred on that 3 TB drive you just bought.


FAREWELL A dial-up modem (right). Digicams have replaced film (far right)

The unbelievable screeching of a modem was a status symbol. It meant that you were that rare individual that could go online and be part of a BBS and chat with a SYsOP. It also meant tearing your hair out at slow speeds, fighting with your




That amazing time when you spent three hours of your life every single day in the hunt for a one good ‘print’ of a movie. From your local video library, friends that had gone abroad, your cousin that has a good collection of movie tapes – it was all one could think of. To get a movie with an original print was the quest of the day. Lasediscs, DVDs and now Blu-Rays have dealt this category a gruelling blow and HD movie streaming has finished off the kill. To those who think they don’t have the bandwidth to stream a 50 GB movie, you just haven’t heard of HD video compression formats.


Do you know anybody who owns a photo film camera? When was the last time you saw a photo film reel? Where do you go to get it developed? This is a category that reigned supreme and has died a brutal death due to digital cameras. The last bastion – professional photography – has also bowed down to the digital format. There are some holdouts – people who say that the look and feel and romance of film cannot be replicated by digital pixels. These people are also known as asylum escapees.


Folding and unfolding these huge pieces of paper was an art form in itself; knowing how to read them required a rocket science degree. Maps made men feel inadequate and women confused. Mapping technology was so poor that even ‘updated’ maps were hopelessly outdated by the time they were printed. Enter the GPS, digital mapping and satellite navigation. The body blow is so severe that it’s impossible to find an inch of paper that has a map on it. Next week we’ll go further into the world of the obsolete and whether current technology is better than before. We’ll also explore what technology is about to go obsolete. You do know that your iPad and your smartphone are almost dead, don’t you? Well, if you didn’t, you’re about to find out next week! Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3. Follow Rajiv on Twitter at


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Now playing: soothing, acoustic covers of all the biggies – Diamond, Dylan, Springsteen and more. In other news: a Rolling Stones 50th anniversary gig?


NEVER really took to Neil Diamond, although his growling baritone often came out of the record player we had at home in the early 1970s. The player wasn’t mine; very few of the records were what I could call my own; and the women at home seemed to be very fond of Diamond’s songs. So, there was no escaping an occasional dose of Diamond: Song Sung Blue, Sweet Caroline, Red, Red Wine, and so on. Women seemed to love Neil Diamond, although my wife tells me her memories of the shiny sequin shirted singer relate to playing musical chairs to his songs at birthday parties. Some men liked Diamond’s songs too, as I realised much later, when a cousin of mine, well into his forties, made a solo trek to London’s Hyde Park expressly to listen to Diamond sing live. When he came back he seemed to be on cloud nine. To each his own, I guess. Yet, when I recently heard a mini album by an Icelandic musician – Ólöf Arnalds – I found myself enjoying her cover version of Diamond’s Solitary Man. A minimalist musician, Arnalds engages spare arrangements, mostly acoustic, to render the song superbly. Her voice is nowhere near the baritone that Diamond has – in fact, it is lithe and light and very melodic and along with her guitar it makes for a very soothing listen. Diamond isn’t the only famous musician that the 30-year-old Arnalds covers on her most recent extended play album. She does Bob Dylan’s She Belongs to Me brilliantly and a medley where she segues magnificently from The Byrds’ co-founder Gene Clark’s With Tomorrow to Bruce Springsteen’s I’m On Fire. My interest kindled by her cover EP, I set out looking for more of Arnalds’ work. I found her debut album, Við Og Við (2007), on which the songs are not in English but the

MAGIC MELODIES Icelandic musician Ólöf Arnalds is a minimalist musician who covers famous artistes like Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen

melodies and the minimalist arrangements are brilliant. Arnalds is a classically trained violinist and singer and it shows in the work in the more popular genres.


ell me, can you think of a Rolling Stones-less world? Seriously, can you? And do you expect the band to mark their 50th anniversary next year with a tour and an album? ‘No’ and ‘Yes’ should be your answers, respectively. You can’t possibly think of a world without the greatest, longest-lasting band being around. And if 2012 is their 50th anniv, you can’t expect Mick and Keith and the other old boys to not to rise to the occasion. In fact, it could well happen: a tour could be in the works. And a new album? That as well. I heard two recent interviews (links in the web version of DC), with Keith Richards and Mick Jagger and going by the energy levels of the two old geezers (both are not very far from 70), and going by what they said, there could be some plans underway. The interviews were timed with the re-issue of the Stones’ Some Girls album – the 1978 album that fans and critics may not count among best that the band recorded but one that was the Stones’ response to the punk-rock movement. It wasn’t as if the Stones’ embraced punk-rock’s somewhat talentless and noisy oeuvre – they didn’t. Instead, the album features elements from another of that era’s predominant genres – disco. The first song on Some Girls is Miss You, with its pulsating, gyrating disco beat that was a bit of a bother for most Stones fans when the album came out but if you’ve heard it you may agree with me that if you had to dance, this a much better song to dance too than any machine-made disco track. Some Girls reached the top of the charts in the US when it came out and it features the classic Richards-sung track, Before They Make Me Run, which many believe is autobiographical because of the drug related charges the indestructible lead guitarist of the Stones was then facing. This year’s re-issue, about which Richards and Jagger speak separately in the interviews, features a dozen previously unreleased outtakes, including some gems such as the Hank Williams classic, You Win Again, and Tallahassee Lassie by Bob Crewe. Much has been written about the Stones and how they were influenced by the Chicago blues. But ironically, it was the Stones who, through their music, influenced white American audiences to appreciate the blues. In a strange kind of way, America’s mainstream discovered the country’s own blues music because of an English band. And what a band it is.



STAYING POWER Going by what Mick Jagger (below left) and Keith Richards said in recent interviews, a new Rolling Stones album and a tour could well be in the works


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Sanjoy Narayan

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Need to update your wardrobe or style quotient? A personal shopper may be the answer by Jhilmil Motihar


YEBROWS ARCHED, I tried to put my best sceptical-yet-not-rude face on. Teena Ahuja Kapoor, personal shopper and stylist, had just spoken the two words I’ve been shielding my wardrobe from – animal print. Kapoor knew she was in dangerous territory. My name is Jhilmil Motihar and I’m a shopaholic. Not the starve-to-buy-bag variety but the Ineed-something-new-every-three-days type. Everyone’s encountered girls furiously seeking opinions on potential buys. I’m not one of them. Shopping to me is personal and I like being left alone. So when the idea of using a personal shopper came up, I shifted in my seat multiple times. But like every clothes obsessor knows, you should try everything once. Though most people assume personal shoppers go best with celebrities, a number of corporates, NRIs, wedding shoppers and even new mothers have been leaning on them. Jignasa Parikh Shingal, founder of XY Personal Shoppers, quashed my idea that these services are expensive. “We work on different budgets and work out individual plans,” she said. Uber-apprehensive before my meeting with Kapoor, I decided I was going to reject everything she suggested. But she was probably used to such juvenile behaviour. “No one likes to be told what to wear,” she proclaimed, and soon directed a dozen questions about my work, play and everything in between. “When will she ask me about clothes,” I wondered. It happened soon. At the end of the 45-minute ses-

sion, Kapoor declared I THIS OR THAT? needed more formal wear Personal shopper Teena Ahuja MALL SERVICE and had to take risks (feathKapoor (left) suggests bag options ers, sequins, leather). to a client OBEROI MALL, MUMBAI: StartApparently, I dressed too ed its personal shopping service in September 2011. Customers are charged a least try them,” says Kapoor. I casually. “But I bought pink fee on an hourly basis. An appointment do, and am surprised at how pants two days ago,” I can be made with Parul Shukla over the shiny and yet non-OTT they resisted. I may not be the phone. Call 9821680079 make me look. Kapoor also tells most on-trend person, but me what shoes and accessories it’s rare that I’m not well SELECT CITYWALK, DELHI: Has a styling and personal shopping I should wear with these. At put together. The drama team of three people. The service is this point, I have to remind queen inside me threatpm. 7 available Mon-Fri from 11 am Kapoor that our budget is ened to emerge if my Appointments need to be made a day R25,000, not R2,500. Soon I’d wardrobe ego got hurt. 270. 2114 in advance. Call 011-4 be saying the opposite. To avoid credit card Charges: R1,000 per hour. The style We next waltz into Mango damage, we decided to ment (base level P1 at ed lounge is locat and I feel assured among the stop at R25,000 (this 1, lift lobby A) clothes. While I veered would include clothes, towards yet another citrus shirt, Kapoor gently shoes, accessories). Since I pulled me in the direction of a star print vest. It already had the basics – well fitting pair of jeans, at was cute, I had to admit. But my shopper had other least three formal shirts, black and nude pumps plans. Soon she was forcing me into a leopard print and two clutches – we decided to concentrate on skirt, feathered vest, leather bodice dress and a frills. Didn’t think it would include a tutu skirt. pair of patterned black pants. None of these would Though a personal shopper isn’t supposed to have even been on my radar had I been shopping dispense style tips, they often come with the packalone. age. “How can I tell a woman to wear the right Though the dress looked rather vixen-like on the things but stop at telling her she needs to regularly hanger, it wrapped around me perfectly. As did the colour her hair,” says Kapoor, who warns me skirt. The two pieces gave me visions of five-inch against wearing booties because of my 5 feet 3 inch heels and a champagne flute. Once I had been frame. eased into looking at things her way, Kapoor said The day after the consultation, we meet in the toughest part of her job was over. She was Bandra. Though I’d thought our first stop right. “It’s important to not be aggressive with would be a high-street shop, Kapoor heads clients. They should feel comfortable. It’s also a bad to an accessory stall on Hill Road where idea to force them into buying something or ask the goods are shiny and cheap. I’m hardly them to change their style drastically,” she said. a snob but I’ve never been to one of these. I was soon trying on a pretty pleated top with My shopper, however, waves stacked rosettes at Vero Moda, printed jumpsuit at gold bangles and says that a similar looking Promod, gold belt at Chemistry, sequin shifts at thing would cost at least seven times more at a Zara and chunky gold cuffs at Curio Cottage. With store. Who was I to argue? One gold neckpiece, two R3,600 of my budget left, my crossover moment cuffs and a set of bangles later, I’m led to an export came at Forever New when my shopper handed surplus store. I look cynical, Kapoor doesn’t. me a flouncy pink tutu skirt and I didn’t wince. While I reacquaint myself with the store, Kapoor Most of us assume that what we’re wearing is picks up two dresses and three sparkly vests. The perfect. Some of us are right, some terribly wrong. orange dress I like, the vests are a problem. “At More importantly, we’re scared of breaking patterns. I know I won’t be dialing a personal shopper in a hurry. Also, I’m not quite ready for anything with feathers just yet. But will I swipe my card for that zebra print shirt? Oh yes.




HINDUSTAN TIMES WEEKLY MAGAZINE DECEMBER 4, 2011 Location courtesy: Forever New, ground floor, Oberoi Mall, Goregaon (E), Mumbai. email:



Wrist watch

FOR SOFTWARE engineer T Ashok, it all started with a tingling sensation in the fingers. Initially, the 38-year-old Mumbaikar shrugged off the feeling as tiredness, caused from working long hours at office, and then driving home every day. But soon, the pain became impossible to ignore, forcing Ashok to see his doctor. He was then told he was developing carpal tunnel syndrome, and advised a wrist splint. After weeks of wearing it, Ashok found the tingling sensation began to diminish. “Now, I’m very careful about not spending long hours on the computer,” says Ashok.


Tingling sensation in your palm? Take care by Mignonne Dsouza


It all starts in the wrist, where there is a carpal ligament below the skin. The median nerve is beneath it and supplies the thumb, index and middle fingers with nerve supply. The ulnar nerve, located above the carpal ligament, supplies the other two fingers. Therefore, when the carpal ligament gets thickened, it presses the structure beneath it, namely the median nerve, while the ulnar nerve is spared. When only the median nerve is affected, doctors diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome.


If a patient suffers from a nerve disease, generally all the nerves get affected. However, in the case of carpal tunnel syndrome, only the median nerve is impacted. Such sufferers generally complain of a tingling sensation in the wrist and hand, numbness or a burning sensation. These are more common in the night during sleep. Patients may also find it difficult to use the thumb and index fingers to perform any tasks.


In case of mild symptoms, certain simple measures are advised. The patient’s wrist is immobilised via a wrist splint, so that they do not keep moving the wrist. This is because every time they move their wrist, the ligament kinks the nerve again and again. Sufferers are also asked to not indulge in any work that involves lots of


RELAX YOUR WRIST AND AVOID EXERCISING IT wrist movement, such as rinsing clothes etc. They are also given vitamin D12 and nerve pain medication. In advanced cases, where the muscles of the thumb slowly start getting wasted and the nerve is getting badly pressed, surgery is advised. This involves slitting the transverse carpal ligament so it is released and does not press the median nerve down. THIS SERIES IS NOW ENDED


A five part series

People who are obese, suffer from thyroid problems and have diabetes are more prone to carpal tunnel syndrome. Also, people who make heavy use of a mouse may suffer from borderline carpal tunnel syndrome. The best way to tackle the problem is to use a wrist splint, which ensures you cannot move your wrist. Special carpal wrist splints that cover the thumb can be found at chemist shops. One myth is that doing exercises to strengthen the wrist can help carpal tunnel syndrome sufferers. However, if you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, you need to relax the wrist as much as possible, and so exercise is actually counterproductive in this case. (Inputs by Dr PP Ashok, consultant and head of neurology, Hinduja Hospital, Mumbai) mignonne.dsouza@


Stop the sneezes A

S SOON as the weather turns cooler, we succumb to cough, cold and respiratory problems. These often keep us unwell for days, and may even involve strong medication and hospitalisation. Because prevention is better than cure, it is important to know why we fall ill this season. 1. Phlegm builds up excesAt parties we tend to drink a sively or creates indigestion lot of chilled drinks. This upwhen we eat processed sets the fine temperature balcheese, curd, dairy products, ance in our bodies and leads heavy non-veg food, fast to low immunity, food, refined foods, a lot of which in turn ghee, incorrect food combimakes us vulnations (like non-veg foods nerable to virus and fruits, milk and non-veg foods). and bacterial infections. 2. Pickles, sour juices, chutneys and ketchups eaten at night lead to an unbalanced influence of kapha-inducing foods, which leads to a kapha build-up, calling out to viruses to settle in. 3. Stepping between warm rooms indoors and chilly weather outdoors without adequate protection leads to temperature control imbalances, making us vulnerable to viruses. 4. Since there is a lot of alcohol on offer this season, people become insensitive to outside temperatures and fail protect themselves against it, leading to lowered immunity. 5. Lack of sleep and stress also contribute to low immunity.


1. Prevention remains the No. 1 remedy. 2. To manage the symptoms of flu, try these remedies: a. Drink several cups of hot water to ensure that your body moves phlegm from the lungs to the intestine. b. Use herbs that dissolve phlegm, such as cumin and ginger powder, turmeric powder and lemongrass. Take them as a decoction boiled in water, or add them to soups. 3. For a dry cough and sore throat, make a decoction of ginger root and black pepper with half tsp honey. Or try a decoction of cumin, black pepper, cinnamon, lemon-grass and mulethi. 4. Inhale steam with a few drops of eucalyptus oil. A whole body sauna will also help get the phlegm moving and unblock sinuses. 5. A body massage with til oil mixed with olive oil is also helpful. PHOTOS: THINKSTOCK







First break

High point of your life Winning

Low point of your life

What are you doing currently?


Queen Mary’s High School/St Xavier’s College, Mumbai

the International Gandhi Peace Prize at the House of Lords, London

Which character from Sholay do you most resemble and why?

Unfortunately, I don’t think I resemble any of them.

If you were given a chance to remake Kites, the movie, what would you do?

I would remove the English dialogues.

The last line of your autobiography would read… ...She played the game.

How would you explain Twitter to your grandmother? Kam bolo, samajh ke bolo.

The one place where you would never get yourself tattooed? PHOTO: REUTERS

Nowhere – it’s gross!

One song that describes your current state of mind? Ude khule aasman mein khwabon ke parindey. Your darkest fantasy?

That I become a world-renowned chef.

What would we find in your fridge right now?

Fruits, veggies, chicken, chocolates, kebabs, cheese and sardines.

The stupidest thing you’ve ever heard?

That a mere 1.2 per cent of GDP is enough to meet the healthcare needs of people in our country.


Ankur in 1974, directed by Shyam Benegal


My father's death

If a spaceship landed in your backyard, what would you do? Ask it to fly me to another world.

The most clichéd answer you’ve ever given in an interview? That “I don’t use clichés!”

If you were an icecream, what flavour would you be? Vanilla.

The most overrated movie/book? I feel it is the movie The Tourist. Your most irrational fear…

When my right eyelid flickers, something bad happens.


Campaigning with Save the Children to increase government budgetary spending on healthcare to 5% of GDP

I would turn lesbian for... It is such a silly question.

The one lie you got away with?

My experience is that you never get away with a lie.

Where did you spend your last summer? In America.

How many pairs of blue jeans do you have? None.

What’s the biggest surprise you’ve ever given your date? Too personal to share.

– Interviewed by Veenu Singh








September 18


Hindustantimes Brunch 4th December 2011  
Hindustantimes Brunch 4th December 2011  

Hindustantimes Brunch 4th December 2011