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WEEKLY MAGAZINE, FEBRUARY 10, 2013 Free with your copy of Hindustan Times

The Floh-HT Brunch Singles in the City Survey takes you into the minds and hearts of urban singletons who are

looking for love indulge

VIR SANGHVI

Istanbul: flavours on the cusp

SANJOY NARAYAN Twist in the playlist

RAJIV MAKHNI

A flatscreen from Bangkok

SEEMA GOSWAMI

A spring in my step


B R E A K FA S T O F C H A M P I O N S Reasons why you should...

Haven’t you read BrunchQ yet?

by Manit Moorjani

...travel to Pushkar this weekend

We’ve offered you news on Bollywood, celebs, fashion and art. It’s time you followed our relationship advice too. Only in BrunchQ, a guide to getting over that messy break-up, how to move on without tears. See below...

Frankly, it’s just a break-up... ...We’ve all had our share of ‘exes’. The ones who moved away, the relationships that had to end, the obvious misfits – these are former flames that we cannot forget. Don’t be like the classic Casablanca (left) couple. Why couldn’t they be together? Learn to deal with the demons. Read The BrunchQ Guide to Ex-Lovers...

Brunch Opinion

I

’ve never been a big fan of being single. It’s just very nice to have someone text you every morning or every night (depending on their sleep pattern). In fact, some time last year, I even wrote an article listing all the reasons why it just sucks to be single (brownie points if you remember it)! But, in the last few months of being completely unattached, I realised how wonderful it is to be on your own – for now. The trick is to not be in between anything. No casual relationships, no crawling back to exes, no daily rituals talking about “us”. You need a few good books, a hard drive full of complete seasons of every kind of TV show and fun plans every weekend. It will take a few weeks but it will happen – you’ll fall in love with yourself. And you’ll get so much work done too! This Valentine’s Day, I’m redoing my room. What are your plans?

Agony Uncle

by Rajiv Arora

How to spend Valentine’s Day alone

and pamper yourself. It’s a good day to upgrade your cell phone, get a full-body massage and hit the gym. 5. There are two rules at the Singles Club: (a) Never boast about your relationship status, and (b) Never boast about your relationship status. Especially not on this day. 7. Catch up with friends who are as romantically-challenged as you are. 8. Watch out for VHP and Bajrang Dal loonies. You wouldn’t want to get a taste of their ‘love’.

Cover image: RAJ K RAJ; Cover design: MONICA GUPTA; Location: THE LALIT, DELHI; Models: GAUTAM ANAND, AIMY DHANKAR; Courtesy: GLITZ MODEL MANAGEMENT

by Shreya Sethuraman

LOVE IT

Gossiping over Wai Wai ■ Birthdays at Brunch ■ Back to swimming ■ Mike McCleary ■ Letters to the Editor ■

SHOVE IT

Snooty litfest authors ■ Working late ■ Bidding winter goodbye ■ Over-the-top mushiness ■ Faux bling ■

Letters to the Editor

Twitter love forever...

@_clue_less Loved today’s @HTBrunch. Indeed, this special issue became my favourite! @jha_vasudha The Readers’ Special issue is really good. Kudos to Poonam & her team! @pranita_dalvi Readers’ special is the best issue till now of @HTBrunch. Loved it! @Rapatraapchick Finally read @HTBrunch’s Readers’ Special. And I could relate to Salil Jayakar’s, Tripping On Solo @namratagogoi I so identify with Paarul’s Survive This and Thrive! People ask me why Mumbai despite struggles & I simply say “I love it!” @Jawan_Chhokra Flirtatious Orkutiyas to the classy Facebookers, to the intellectual Tweeple. Aptly said by Nidhi Thakur in today’s @HTBrunch @marathonofhope Loved today’s Brunch...There was a bit of something for everyone :-)

Puneet Bajaj Really appreciate your Readers’ Special today... I’m cursing myself as I wasn’t aware of the fact that you invited readers to write for you. MISSED IT!! Vaishnavi Tolpady The best writing today was from Sushrut Desai (The Privileged World of Readers). Imagination is a part of both the reader and writer. If both bring the best of their imaginations by writing an article, only then it’s worth reading!! Abhinav Singh Salil Jayakar’s article is good, especially when I myself am a enthusiastic solo traveller (Tripping on Solo)! Arhantika Nathaniel I don’t agree with Shinmin Bali (Evolve or Bust)...Not all shows are saas-bahu sagas...Indian television is also producing some really good quality shows!! Ashna Banga Sushrut Desai’s The Privileged World of Readers was the best article in the Readers’ Special. All I could think when I read it was, “My thoughts!! Awesome!” Great article!

Write to brunchletters@hindustantimes.com

Follow us on @HTBrunch

Visit facebook.com/hindustantimesbrunch

Kudos to the Brunch Readers’ Special! It was truly absorbing! A few articles (Paarul Chand’s Survive this and Thrive; Neha Karnani’s Into the World of Words and Charis Bhagianathan’s Bheja fry, Anyone?) were especially well written. Vineeta Prasad, via email Firstly, the idea of giving your readers (or I should say die-hard fans) an opportunity to write was simply fantastic. Every Sunday it has become a normal tendency to expect some surprises in your issue. And that’s probably the reason why this magazine simply outsmarts the others. Aalok K, via email The Readers’ Special was absolutely amazing! It was as if the articles were written specially for me. All the articles, without exception, were in my areas of interest. Thanks a lot to the Brunch team as well as to all the wonderful readers-turned-writers for a delectable reading experience! Cheers! Vinayak Dewan, via email

Note from the editor

And on Facebook too

by Poonam Saxena

Wow! We’re overwhelmed by the staggering response to our Readers’ Special. There was a veritable avalanche of letters and tweets from our readers, telling us how much they liked the issue, how much they enjoyed certain articles and how much they are looking forward to another issue like that. So yes, we will plan another Readers Special soon, but before that, a heartfelt thank you to all of you. You’re the best!

EDITORIAL: Poonam Saxena (Editor), Aasheesh Sharma, Tavishi Paitandy Rastogi, Rachel Lopez, Mignonne Dsouza, Veenu Singh, Parul Khanna, Yashica Dutt, Amrah Ashraf, Saudamini Jain, Shreya Sethuraman, Manit Moorjani

FEBRUARY 10, 2013

On The Brunch Radar

The Readers’ Special was an incredible experience for us – sourcing all the (wonderful) content from readers is an idea whose time has come and we are delighted to be the first magazine to do so! And our readers enjoyed the issue too...

by Saudamini Jain

Single is a good place to be

dance where performers dance, sing and play instruments at the same time; Dollu Kunitha, a Karnataka folk dance where every single dancer carries a Dollu drum; and Zeliang from Nagaland, where warriors attack an imaginary enemy while dancing! Identify the sarangi, murli, surnai, algoza, morchang, khartal – Langa singer Bachu Khan’s favourite instruments with which he has performed in more countries than the average Indian even knows about! Also, there’ll be 340 other performers, with some playing on the main street leading to the Brahma temple. Now that’s an authentic folk weekend! PS You could also search for Kabir, travel with a gypsy caravan across America or take a dip into the Naga blues of musician Rewben Mashangva during the film screenings at the fest!

The Blue Lotus Festival (February 13-18) will have the streets, monuments and even dunes of Pushkar teeming with folk musicians, dancers and music lovers from all over the country. Watch Kalbeliya gypsies (above), dressed in vibrant costumes, go into a head-spinning trance to the sound of bansuris and tambourines. Hear folk singer Murra Lala Fafal, who took his heavily moustached smile all the way from Kutch to Coke Studio, and now the Motisar dunes of Pushkar. Watch Malwai Giddha, a Punjabi folk

NOW ON STANDS. `100 ONLY

1. Don’t sulk, cry, slash your wrists, blame Western influences on Indian culture or try to act cool about being single. 2. Don’t scorn at couples buying overpriced roses or walking around holding hands. 3. Who are you fooling by convincing yourself that V-Day is for college bachchas? Mature people, too, celebrate love. 4. Become a narcissist

hindustantimes.com/brunch

DESIGN: Ashutosh Sapru (National Editor, Design), Monica Gupta, Swati Chakrabarti, Rakesh Kumar, Ashish Singh

Photos: THINKSTOCK

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Drop us a line at: brunchletters@

hindustantimes.com or to 18-20 Kasturba Gandhi Marg, New Delhi 110001


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B R U N C H D AT E

On The Brink

Sushant Singh Rajput first found fame on TV. But now, he’s ready for an interesting debut as a Bollywood star Photo: VIDYA SUBRAMANIAN, LOCATION COURTESY: WOODSIDE ALL DAY, ANDHERI

by Udita Jhunjhunwala

S

USHANT SINGH Rajput could have been an engineer. After all, he was placed seventh in the all-India entrance exams. He even completed six semesters in an engineering college before admitting to himself that he was wasting time, that he needed to be in Mumbai, acting, dancing and making films. And if it all went badly, he even had backup plans: opening a canteen in Film City or going back to college. But a chance meeting with a casting director at a chai stall in Lokhandwala resulted in the TV star’s first movie audition, and his debut film, Kai Po Che, releases on February 22. Kai Po Che, directed by Abhishek Kapoor, is based on Chetan Bhagat’s coming of age novel The 3 Mistakes of My Life. And 27-year-old Rajput (best known for his role as Manav in Pavitra Rishta and performances in Jhalak Dhikhla Jaa) plays Ishaan, your average overachieving, popular, but naïve alpha male. But when he showed up for chicken sandwiches and chit chat at Woodside All Day Eatery And Bar in Oshiwara,

Andheri, not far from where he was discovered, he came casually dressed, nervous and eager to please.

You were studying engineering in Delhi. So how did you end up in a Balaji serial?

There weren’t any girls in engineering college, so I joined Shiamak Davar’s dance school. There were good girls there so I was happy. One day Shiamak said, “You are not one of my finest dancers but you have something in you. Maybe you should do theatre”. So in the third semester, I joined Barry John’s acting school. He’s not very liberal with praise so when he said that I was good, I took it very seriously. When I am on stage or in front of the camera, the feeling is incomparable. I knew I had to pursue it. So I decided to move to Mumbai. I was very confident, but I thought if nothing positive happened I would open a canteen in Film City, make short films and be happy. I joined Nadira Babbar’s theatre group and continued dancing too. I didn’t go to auditions for

As an actor, I am a bachcha. There’s lots of room for improvement

FEBRUARY 10, 2013


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B R U N C H D AT E

twitter.com/HTBrunch

DIRECTORS I WANT TO WORK WITH

two years; I was just learning. Then one day I was doing a play and the Balaji people were there. Later Ekta Kapoor called to ask if I would do TV. I said, “I have not thought about it.” She said, “I will make you a star.” So I said okay!

Abhishek Kapoor, Anurag Kashyap, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Vishal Bhardwaj, Mira Nair, Shimit Amin, Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan

Why switch from TV to movies? Are the two mediums very different?

I did TV for more than two years. The money and fame were good but I began feeling suffocated. There was no challenge, no improvisation. I was not learning anything. As long as I am learning, I am fine. Money and fame don’t excite me. So I left TV. I was supposed to study filmmaking at UCLA, when casting director Mukesh Chhabra saw me having chai at a tea place and asked if I would audition for him. He didn’t know my TV work. Surprisingly none of the filmmakers I am working with – Abhishek Kapoor, Maneesh Sharma or Rajkumar Hirani – had ever seen me on TV. I got the parts after they scrutinised my auditions. TV is very easy. Actors know what they have to do and that they will get paid for it. Fame comes quickly. Film is very different because every six months you play a different character; you create something from nothing.

FILM DEBUT: Kai Po Che starring Raj Kumar Yadav, Rajput and Amit Sadh

Why did you decide to debut with Kai Po Che?

Actors have their priorities – money, passion, big names, working with friends. I work for the script. I was offered seven single-hero films before this, but I still planned on UCLA. Then I got this script with three main guys. Whenever I read it, I got goose bumps and I knew I had to play Ishaan. I auditioned for Rajkumar Hirani’s Peekay and

Maneesh Sharma’s film for Yashraj after that.

You seem to have packaged yourself right. Dance classes, martial arts, theatre, acting lessons and a six-pack – all the ingredients for a hero.

But there’s lots of room for improvement. As an actor I am a bachcha right now. For Kai Po Che, I was training with Ranji players, I had a gym instructor and took dance les-

MY SCREEN IDOL

Shah Rukh Khan. He is larger than life and has so

much energy. He was always so convincing and whenever I saw him perform or heard him talk or dance, I’d be dazed. I remember his expressions in Kabhi Khushi Kahbie Gham and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. I remember watching the song Suraj Hua Madham – Shah Rukh was on TV and I was imitating him in the mirror. He is from Delhi University; so am I. He went to Barry John; so did I. He started in TV; so did I. So let’s see!

sons. The six-pack was a result of training six hours every day. It was not premeditated. Honestly, I never thought “hero banna hai”. I want to create different, memorable characters. I am learning ballet now and why stop at a six-pack – why not 12?

How important is this neighbourhood for a struggler?

The film industry is here. This area never sleeps. Everybody is so busy and most people are from our industry. Most of my TV friends live around here. And as long as you have chai in the right places, you never know! brunchletters@ hindustantimes.com


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C OV E R STO RY

All About

At least he’s good to look at! But if he thinks Murakami is a brand of noodles, he’s out

I won’t add him on Facebook. I hope he does, so I can go through his photos

Single People

What makes them tick? What do they want? What will they settle for? The Floh-HT Brunch Singles in the City Survey has answers and perspectives by Saudamini Jain; photos by Raj K Raj

I

T TAKES all kinds of people to make the world – the wedded, the bedded, friends, lovers, daters and maters. Scattered in large numbers in between are the single people, the unattached. These magical creatures all seem to be looking to gravitate towards others like them. It’s not an easy process. To make matters worse, men and women do not understand each other! When they’re a couple, they get attuned to each other’s quirks (after a while). But when they’re single? Nobody really knows what they want – not their parents, not their friends and certainly not themselves! We decided to figure out just that. Brunch along with Floh, an exclusive singles network, conducted the FlohHT Brunch Singles in the City Survey. We asked more than 400 single men and women between the ages of 22 and 35 in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore just what they were looking for in a prospective partner and what it was like being single. Now singles come in all shapes and sizes, but we managed to find some patterns. And as an early Valentine’s Day present for you, we decoded the single man, the single woman and the single life. Here goes:

THE FEMALE MIND She’s worried, very, very worried Nearly 83 per cent of women we surveyed said they faced pressure to be in a relationship from their family, friends and colleagues. In fact, they seem to have internalised it – 25 per cent felt that their social status was lower because they were single. Advaita Kala, the writer of Almost Single and Kahaani, believes it will pass. “Women between 22 and 32 are obsessed with marriage. By 30, most are married. If not, it impacts their self-esteem. But that urgency disappears when they cross 31.” Both her feet are on the ground Women are looking for compatibility more than love – and love, said 79 per cent of those surveyed, must be practical. Art writer Anita Sharma (name changed), 25, was a hopeless romantic at 18. “I always thought I’d fall in love, my parents would like him and we’d get married,” she says. Now, she adds matter-of-factly, “There’s no time to fall in love!” She knows what she wants in a boy, love can always follow. FEBRUARY 10, 2013

She’s not willing to settle Sixty-seven per cent of women said they are single because they haven’t met the right partner yet. The urban single woman of today is well-educated, well-placed and can fund her own lifestyle. She wants somebody just like her – 87 per cent said they wanted to be with someone who is careerminded. But that’s not enough to make the cut. Nita Jha, associate vice president, Sycorian Matrimonial Services, says, “There was a boy from IIT and IIM, everybody would jump when they saw his profile. But he wore terrible clothes, couldn’t talk properly – every girl who met him got so upset! I’ve stopped referring him to my clients now!” Despite our sex ratio, there is a paucity of men who match the credentials of the women. “If we have 10 girls from IIMs and Ivy League colleges, there are only 5-6 boys like that,” says Jha. She wants a sizzling hottie “Earlier, if he was qualified and well-placed, girls didn’t mind a badlooking boy,” recalls Jha. A whopping 80 per c per cent of women think that looks are very impor-

tant – their partner must be handsome. He has to dress well too – 35 per cent said that his clothes are the first thing they notice about men they meet. And he should be tall – 66 per cent of women surveyed didn’t want to be with someone shorter than them. Height is the only thing that 25year-old jeweller Sakshi Ghai is fussy about. She’s about 5’7, so, “nobody shorter than me. Nobody short at all!” she says. Nobody unexciting, nobody fat Forty nine per cent of women said they are most turned off by men who aren’t ambitious. “He has to be hardworking and ambitious,” says Anita Sharma. “Nobody wants to go from one father’s money to another’s!” Forty eight per cent were also turned off by overweight men. “It’s a question of how fit he is. I wouldn’t want to be with someone who’s a walking signboard of heart disease at 30!” says 26-year-old lawyer Pooja Arora. She doesn’t make the first move She’ll happily hand out her number if she likes you but 31 per cent said they’d expect the boy to initiate contact. But if you, dear man, are taking the first step, be cautious. About half the women think a Facebook friend request indicates interest.


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twitter.com/HTBrunch

She’s pretty, she’s smart. She likes her grandparents. This is love. I’m in love

SINGLES IN THE CITY

77%

MODELS: GAUTAM ANAND, AIMY DHANKAR, COURTESY: GLITZ MODEL MANAGEMENT; LOCATION: THE LALIT, NEW DELHI

I’ll take her number and ask her out again – she’s too good to be true!

THE MAN’S WORLD He’s the king of romance He is. He may be terrible at showing it; he could be awkward or uncomfortable. But 47 per cent of single men think that love is all about romance; 27 per cent said that the first thing they notice about a girl is her smile; and 55 per cent believe in love at first sight (compared to only 41 per cent of women) – it’s a manly thing called the thunderbolt; you’d know this if you read The Godfather. Banker Rahul Bhatnagar, 28, (name changed because he’s too embarrassed to admit this) has been looking for love since he was 17! “I wanted to get married at 21,” he says. But he’s not going to make any effort Seventy-six per cent of men felt that finding a partner is just a matter of chance, while 39 per cent valued their independence too much to be in a relationship. Siddharth Mangharam, CEO, Floh, believes that “men seem to take couplehood a bit more casually. Women take a lot more effort.” This could be, he says, because a woman is on a tighter timeline.

There’s the clock and the pressure from family and friends. “Men don’t have so much pressure, so they’re willing to take it a lot more lightly,” he says. But if they are interested, 81 per cent of men will make the first move. He says he wants a smart woman “There’s nothing sexier than a woman who can talk intelligently,” we heard from at least five single men we spoke to – 83 per cent of those surveyed agreed. But there’s a problem here. Says Mangharam, “Some women feel they intimidate men. Sometimes women believe that they have to dumb themselves down when talking to other single men. At Floh, we don’t believe this approach helps and encourage all our members to simply be themselves.” However, says stand-up comic Kunal Rao indignantly, “Women need to be intelligent enough to know that they don’t have to show off their intelligence! If they constantly keep talking about all the things they’ve read, it’s not intelligent, it’s insufferable!”

Smoking and drinking don’t help Forty-six per cent of men told us that smoking is the biggest turn-off in a potential partner, 44 per cent said it was (social) drinking. For some strange reason, putting it on paper tends to make men uneasy. Nita Jha of Sycorian advises girls who occasionally smoke or drink to not make it public. “Tell the boys when you meet them, but just don’t mention it on the form!” she says. He wants a girl who looks good Everybody wants a pretty girl – 84 per cent said they wanted someone who looked good. “Anthropologically speaking,” says stand-up comic Rao, “all human beings are wired to find a good-looking mate.” She should be able to cook “I’m not saying she has to cook for me every day,” says consultant Karan Sharma, 29. “I’m just saying it would be a bit odd being with someone who can’t cook!” Eighty five per cent of the men we surveyed agreed. (But, to be fair, 78 per cent of single women felt that it was important for a man to to cook too.)

“I like being single, I’m always there when I need me” – Author Unknown FEBRUARY 10, 2013

singles love going to parties and pubs so they can meet people

84%

believe that serious dating is important for creating a bond between two people

61%

think that the best place to meet someone is at work

81% Men Women76% Don’t hesitate to make the first move if they like someone

79%

value traditional thinking

Top priority

72%

feel that their first priority is buying their own house and having an impressive bank balance

THE METHODOLOGY

The sample used in this survey represents 437 singles between the ages of 22 and 35 in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. All respondents were from the SEC A1 and A2 households. While analysing the data, they were grouped by gender, city and age. Our sample comprised 53% men and 47% women.


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C OV E R STO RY

Coffee is the perfect kind of date!

What is the big fuss about being single? It is one of life’s greatest mysteries and everybody’s out to solve it. When it comes to single people, the world drops whatever it is doing. Everybody magically sprouts wings, bares their bottom and flutters around with a bow and arrow. It’s not easy being single. “It’s an art. It helps to be devastatingly ugly, have very little or no sex appeal and you also have to be very poor,” laughs actor Rahul Bose, who has been single for 12 years. That’s single, not celibate, before you start feeling sorry for the man. But in all seriousness, “if you’re single,” he says, “you’d better be very fond of yourself... It’s a very profound state of mind.” But most single people don’t have deep, meaningful reasons to be single. They’re single because they’re single – because they haven’t found someone. There is a biological imperative to pair up, and it is perfor flaws they don’t have. Filmmaker haps more pronounced in India. Anandana Kapur, who co-directed We’re a nation that loves to get marMuch Ado About Knotting, a docuried and sprout children. Of late, mentary about matchmaking, we’ve begun to date. So if somebody believes that the frustration and is in his or her mid-late twenties and dejection is not because single peohas been single for a little too long, ple haven’t found someone. “It’s everybody is very, very because they have initiworried. Their friends ated a process. And the introduce them to their pitch is that you will single friends; aunts try find your partner – a to ‘arrange meetings’ certainty is sold to with their extended NRI them. They’ve invested family; parents sign time, money and them up for matrimonial emotion.” It’s rejection. websites. There’s also an Kapur met people ad in the classifieds – who had been rejected RAHUL BOSE, actor some people even get it 25-30 times. That can highlighted to make it take a toll on anybody’s stand apart from the hunself-esteem. “Would it dreds of other (cheaper non-highhelp if I were just five kilos lighter, a lighted) matrimonial ads stacked up few inches taller, if I could quote in the paper. Kafka or sing like Seal?” They forAccording to our survey, 61 per get everything they’re good at, and cent of singles said they don’t know everything becomes about finding where to start looking for a relationThe One. Or somebody – anybody – ship. And when even the arranged who can at least pass off as The marriage market, which had always One. been the sure-shot back-up plan, doesn’t work out, they are dumbThat hollow feeling? It’s a phase founded. It is in their 20s that everybody is rushing to look for love. You’ve just The single and self-esteem outgrown those troubled teenage And their self-esteem comes tumyears when all you wanted to do was bling down. “Everybody finds the hate. “It’s the hunger of the age to pizza to their cheese, the blueberry be socially popular, socially loved. for their muffin, so why can’t I find From 18-30, everyone wants to someone?” They beat themselves up ascend a social ladder of happiness,

“Being single is a very profound state of mind”

hindustantimes.com/brunch

MY LIFE PARTNER ISN'T A CLICK AWAY

My name is NRI, 29 Banker wants a good Indian girl

I

I look nothing like this, 36 Self-employed (Unemployed)

was hesitant to create a profile on a matrimonial website. I relented on account of my parents, but regretted it every second. I found it totally bizarre! It’s just a glorified social networking site. Only much, much worse – it’s full of strange men. I was a member of one motherboard matrimonial website, from where the website suggested branching out to my caste. It’s an automated thing. Nobody in my family had the patience to sit through thousands of profiles (68 per cent of singles in our survey thought there are too many profiles). Such websites take broken English to another level: “Are you too looking for life partner?”, “Serious people contact only”, “etc etc etc”. They were also much, much older men (where are the under-32 men anyway?).

Shady Man, 27 This is a fake profile

I don’t know if people lied on their profiles because I didn’t care to find out – but the survey says that almost half the people there have created fake profiles! I outsourced the screening to the ‘elites’ and ‘privileged’ websites, where ‘relationship managers’ do the scanning, the screening and shortlist ‘The Ones’. They don’t really make an effort to make the girl and boy meet. However, I did meet one guy, and he was a big disappointment! I don’t want to get into the details. After almost two years of frustration, I forced my parents to stop renewing these memberships. And this time, they relented. I was not tired of ‘finding’ a partner. I was just tired of feigning interest! So when I find a man and we click, it won’t be via the wireless mouse!

by Shreya Sethuraman

“The worst part of being a single woman was having to take care of your own car” – Lisa Kleypas, writer FEBRUARY 10, 2013


15

success and have someone in your arms. After that, most people just get married because it’s the momentum of society,” says Rahul Bose. But how many people do you know have considered the possibility of not hunting? What happens if you stop looking? Says Advaita Kala, “By the time they are 35, when the women have survived that tumultuous period of always being the bridesmaid and never the bride, their self-esteem is actually better than their married friends.” They have spent the last decade or so building their career and a life centred around themselves, while their married counterparts just realised that the honeymoon is over. Forty per cent of the people surveyed said that the worst It’s not always a great idea. Says thing about being single is that Jha of Sycorian, “The guy sees picthey don’t have anyone to share tures of the girl at too many partheir life with. Bose disagrees. ties, or the girl see his pictures “We’re surrounded by with too many other love – friends, brothgirls.” People come to ers, sisters, nieces – their own conclusions and you can give give when they look at in to the abundance. photos, she argues. People are scared of “And it ruins our hard being single because work. People interestbeing with someone ed in getting married ADVAITA KALA, writer fills the empty spaces, should lay low on the chinks in your psyFacebook!” chological makeup,” he says. But mostly, people are single because they are now more indeWhy are more people single now? pendent, aspirations have gone up Social networking is partly the reaand gender dynamics have son. Well, it’s an interesting arguchanged. All this in just 10 years. ment anyway. According to the “Being single is not so marginal survey, 52 per cent of singles felt anymore,” says Kala. If you’re marthe best way of knowing someone ried to your career in your twenis to check out their Facebook proties, when do you fall in love, really? file (only 42 per cent would And life hasn’t got all that easy arrange to meet the person again). for single people either. “It is less hard compared to the past,” says filmmaker Kapur, “but only marTHE SINGLES ginally. Are cities safe to live in? Do NETWORK single people get rooms for rent? Floh is a national singles network There’s more acceptability of sinfor urban, educated and independgles but it’s definitely not easy,” ent singles with a focus on subshe says. stantive interactions that lead to Where does that leave you? meaningful relationships. MemWell, back to square one, we’re bers are screened before being inafraid to say. Happy Valentines’ vited to join Floh. Over the past Day! year, Floh has hosted over 100 in-

“Being single is not so marginal anymore”

teractive events which include cookouts, vintage car rallies, sailing, wine and cheese tastings, mixology and more. It will launch an online version of its service in March. Log on to www.floh.in

FEBRUARY 10, 2013

saudamini.jain@hindustantimes.com

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Adulthood has brought its own spring rituals with it – like a pedicure

Seema Goswami SWEET THING

Among the flowers of spring, my favourite is the Narcissus

ID I HAPPEN to mention that winter was my favourite season? Well, dear reader, I lied. As the weather warms up, the nights get balmier, the days longer, I realise – as I do every year, without fail – that my favourite season is, in fact, spring. The trees begin to get green again, the flowers start to bloom, and it gets that much easier to struggle out of a snug bed every morning. What’s not to love about spring? So, while we are on the subject, let me count the many ways I love this season; and the many things I love about it. First up are the flowers. I have always loved the way Delhi is transformed by the colourful waves of flowers which raise their pretty little heads, nodding in the cool breeze as if they were acknowledging the arrival of warmth and happiness. There is the brilliant red of salvia, peeping forth from deep green leaves, as if asking Nature if it was safe to come out and play. There is the riotous joy of fuchsia and the wild profusion of pansies, as they threaten to destroy the symmetry of flower beds everywhere. And then, there’s my personal favourite: the Nargis (or Narcissus) flower, K GO FOR A WAL with its sweet, delicate aroma and shy white and yellow petals, looking a trifle embarrassed about being made much of. But my love for spring predates my love for Delhi. Growing up in Calcutta, spring (or Basant, as it was called in my household) was S WEAR FLOWER heralded by the most important festival in my calendar: Basant Panchami. For us kids, this meant Saraswati Puja, for which we would wake up early in the morning, have ritual baths, wear something yellow, and start the day by worshipping the goddess of learning. It was an utterASSES ly unasked-for bonus that this was TAKE DANCE CL also a study-free day, because all my school books had to be placed reverently at the feet of the goddess so that she could bless them at her leisure, and I could spend my time reading my favourite Enid Blytons. This was also the first day that we were allowed to eat ber, a fruit that has come to be associated with Saraswati. The preva-

lent superstition was that you would fail your exams if you ate ber before the day of Saraswati Puja. Fervent believers all, we would faithfully steer clear of the fruit until Basant Panchami, and then gorge ourselves silly. This not only introduced us to the concept of abstinence, but also taught us that everything tastes better after a spell of deprivation – an invaluable lesson to learn in life. Those rituals of childhood – and the superstitions that came with them – are long gone, but the arrival of Basant Panchami still puts an extra spring (pun entirely unintended) in my step. And adulthood has brought its own spring rituals with it. A pedicure to spruce up unsightly winter feet, hidden away for months within socks and boots. Waxing arms and legs, so that sweaters can be peeled off and skirts worn without any embarrassment. Packing away winter clothes and digging out the cottons and linens languishing forgotten at the back of the closet. And bidding goodbye to layering, which can turn the slimmest among us into little butter-balls. It’s not entirely surprising, then, that so many of us embark on special fitness programmes around this time. The weather is just right to go for a morning or evening walk. And there’s no excuse for that glass or two of alcohol to warm you up at night. You can forgo the dense soups for a light salad made from crunchy spring vegetables and not feel deprived. You can give up calorific cappuccinos for refreshing iced tea. And if you’re lucky, maybe in a month or so you can get rid of all the lard you’ve accumulated over winter and EAM EAT AN ICE CR get back into your old summer clothes. Or better still, you can do that one thing that actually takes its name from the season: spring-cleaning. Throw out all the old stuff that is cluttering up your life (not to mention your mind-space) and create the space to bring some newness to your life. This NAL START A JOUR could mean anything from last season’s Anokhi kurtis which no longer fit to old acquaintances who bring you down with their negativity. Throw out everything and everyone who doesn’t add anything to your life. And use the space cleared to fill your life with positivity, joy and good cheer. So, what are you waiting for? Go GE UA NG LA LEARN A NEW ahead and enjoy spring while it lasts. Go for a walk. Eat an ice cream. Enjoy the feel of wet grass on your feet. Buy a beautiful new dress. Paint your nails green. Wear flowers in your hair. Start a journal. Sign up to learn a new language. Take dance classes. Be brave. Make new beginnings. It is the season to do just that.

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KLIST SPRING CHEC

FEBRUARY 10, 2013

seema_ht@rediffmail.com. Follow Seema on Twitter at twitter.com/seemagoswami


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ISTANBUL DIARY

Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK

Vir Sanghvi

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Istanbul is one of the world’s oldest surviving cities. It is wonderful with its mix of Europe and Asia

W

HEN I tell my friends that I am going to Istanbul, I am a little surprised to discover that nearly everyone I speak to has already been there. And they, in turn, are astonished that I’ve never visited Turkey. So they offer me tips on what to do, where to go, how to bargain etc. Encouraged by this flood of information, I change my bookings and extend my stay. If Istanbul is so wonderful, I decide, then I should enjoy it for longer. I’m in Istanbul for a dinner to launch the Dom Pérignon Rosé 2002, so for my very first meal, my host, Gaurav Bhatia of Moët & Chandon, is kind enough to take me to lunch. He picks a chic and elegant place called Vogue, on the top floor of an office building, with stunning views of the Bosphorus. This is my first experience of Turkey and while Vogue’s menu is international (lots of sushi, for instance), I ask for the Turkish-influenced dishes. These turn out to be normal European dishes with slightly sweet dry-fruit-enriched sauces. Turks, I am to discover, like fruit and they like a lot of sweetness in many of their dishes. After lunch, an English-speaking guide takes me on a tour of the old city. Istanbul has a rich history. It is one of the world’s oldest surviving cities, starting out as Byzantium, becoming Constantinople and finally ending up as Istanbul. It was, at one stage, the world’s FEBRUARY 10, 2013

EUROPEAN, NOT EXOTIC

The Spice Market is surprisingly clean and our guide complains that Europeans are often put off by how modern Istanbul can look

single most important city and has always been regarded as the dividing line between East and West. This, I discover, is no idle boast. Geographers tell us that Asia and Europe are separated by the Strait of Bosphorus. And Istanbul sprawls across both sides of the Bosphorus. So there is a European part to the city and a quite distinct Asian part. There is an old city and there’s a new city, built around the 20th century. And there’s even an area that was once colonised by Venice and has quite distinctive Venetian architecture. Few cities can change from area to area as completely as Istanbul does. The neighbourhood my hotel is situated in could be a part of Europe and as you go further down the road, past the Four Seasons, the boats, waterside cafés, hill villas and houses, remind you of nothing as much as southern Italy. But in the old city, with its crowded lanes and narrow alleys, the atmosphere is distinctly Asian. There are beggars (“Gypsies!” spits my driver, angrily), street vendors and carpet sellers. It is the architecture that I find most arresting. Istanbul’s famous buildings, including the Blue Mosque, with its six minarets, and Hagia Sophia are Islamic in character yet entirely unlike the mosques we see in India or the Arab world. This is a distinctively non-Arab Islamic style, heavily influenced by European architecture and by Christian traditions. (Hagia Sophia actually started out as a church). That evening Dom Pérignon hosts a casual buffet dinner for the wine writers who have flown in from all over the world. I meet up with Richard Geoffroy, the house’s legendary wine-maker (I wrote about him some months ago in this column) and he promises that the next day will be special. And indeed it is. Dom has planned an all-day extravaganza. We are divided into small groups (I end up with the elegantly dressed Japanese – Japan is Dom’s second biggest market after America), and taken by boat across the Bosphorus to the old city. The first part of the day is devoted to the Spice Market. This should be – to those of us brought up on tales of MiddleEastern bazaars – a vast open space full of little stalls where old men sit behind mounds of spices while eating pistas from vast vats. Actually it is a covered market (like Bombay’s Crawford Market or Calcutta’s New Market – only much smaller) full of shops, all of which sell exactly the same things: saffron, Turkish Delight, caviar, sherbet, dry fruit and assorted knick-knacks.


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Three things about the Spice Market are particularly striking. The first is that nearly half to two-thirds of all the goods on sale seem to come from Turkey’s neighbour Iran: saffron, caviar, pistas, etc. Ever since the tourists stopped coming to Iran, that country’s wares have been transported to Turkey and sold in Istanbul’s markets. The second is that the Turks obviously think that many tourists suffer from erectile dysfunction. Each shop sells “Turkish Viagra – Made For Sultans” and the shopkeepers keep telling the Japanese members of our party to try it: “Four times a night! Five times a night!” Then, after looking a fashionably-dressed Japanese person up and down: “For you, may be only two times a night!” The third is that because every shop sells the same thing, the shopkeepers have to try harder. So they beseech us as we pass, shouting things they think will appeal: “You Hindi! Shah Rukh Khan! Shah Rukh Khan!” Or “Salaam Aleikum India or Pakistan!” The market is surprisingly clean and our guide complains that Europeans are often put off by how modern Istanbul can look. The producers of Skyfall, the Bond movie shot in Istanbul, she says, were so disappointed by the real Spice Market that they built a set that looked more eastern-exotic for Daniel Craig to run through. Richard Geoffroy’s intention is for us to discover the smells, spices and flavours of Istanbul, so we are served Turkish snacks at Pandeli, a historic restaurant on the first floor of the market. Then it is back on the boat and off to an art gallery where Dom Pérignon has commandeered the in-house restaurant. It is here that Thierry Wasser, the master perfumer from the grand old fragrance house of Guerlain, meets us. Thierry is young, good looking, articulate and lived in the US for many years. Since taking over at Guerlain, he has introduced best-selling new fragrances and tried to restore some of the house’s tired old scents to their lost glory. Today he wants us to understand the relationship between smell and taste, between fragrance and food. He has created three new fragrances which reflect the smells of such foods and spices as clove, turmeric, cardamom, jasmine tea, dried rose petals, etc. With each fragrance, he makes us concoct our own mix of the ingredients whose smells most closely resemble it. When he is through, he makes us combine all three fragrances. The combination gives us the scent of Rosé Nacree du Desert, a fragrance he has created to match the Dom Pérignon Rosé 2002. Our heads still reeling from the smells of spice and rose, we take our boat to the Ciragan Palace Hotel where we will finally be allowed to taste the wine. Part of the mythology of champagne is that it was invented by

Dom Pérignon, a real life monk who lived in France’s Champagne region. This is probably nonsense but the association between Dom Pérignon champagne and abbeys is a strong one. So Richard Geoffroy has had the idea of using the balconies of the Ciragan Palace like church cloisters. Each of us is given a glass of the champagne and told to sit alone in one of the balconies overlooking the Bosphorus. We can take as long as we like to enjoy the wine and stare at the sunlight glinting off the water. And so, I finally taste the 2002. I know it will be good – after all, 2002 was a great year for champagne; the normal 2002 Dom White has been universally praised so the Rosé is bound to be special. But even I am surprised by the richness of the wine. It fills your mouth and then as you swirl it around gently, it begins to reveal layer after layer of complexity. Finally there is the technical tasting where Richard explains the wine. He says that because Istanbul combines Eastern mystery with Western sophistication, he thought it would be the right place to launch the Rosé which combines spices and the scent of roses in its bouquet. Hence the day’s excursions and the collaboration with perfumer Thierry. We head back to our hotel to change for the formal launch dinner. Dom Pérignon has taken over a medieval palace and transformed it. On the ground floor, in the cocktail area, waiters circulate with trays of canapés and bottles of champagne. I’m a little startled to discover that the pre-dinner champagne is the Oenothèque 1993. Every few years or so, Richard raids the reserve wine stocks of Dom Pérignon to issue a tiny quantity of an old vintage. These wines are called Oenothèque and usually cost nearly twice as much as the normal Dom Pérignon (which, in any case, is very expensive). The claim is that the Oenothèque range represents the best of the best champagne in the world so the massive price is worth it. And yet, here it is only the circulation wine before the dinner! Does it make sense to overshadow a new vintage with such a great wine from the Oenothèque range? Dinner is on two long tables on the first floor of the palace. The light is blue and they project images of the Bosphorus onto our tables. The Rosé 2002 is finally served but before we can start, a shavenheaded man in a flowing cloak who is either a Japanese journalist (judging by the way in which members of our party dressed this morning) or a Turkish dancer appears between the two dinner tables. Then the music starts and the mystery is solved: he is a whirling dervish, performing before dinner is served. While he whirls, I try the wine. After the stern and austere nature of the Oenothèque Rosé 1993, the Rosé 2002 comes as a pleasant change. Its round fullness colonises my mouth with its notes of citrus fruits and apricots. I turn to Richard, who is sitting next to me and ask why on

The city sprawls across both sides of the Bosphorus. So there is a European part to the city and a quite distinct Asian part

FEBRUARY 10, 2013

BEST OF BOTH WORLDS

Jean-François Piège, a two-star Michelin chef, has tried to combine the flavours of France and Istanbul in a menu that matches the notes of the 2002 Rosé ALL ON SALE

The Spice Market is full of shops, all of which sell exactly the same things: saffron, Turkish Delight (below), caviar, sherbet

Photo: THINKSTOCK

MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE

Richard Geoffroy (below) says that because Istanbul combines Eastern mystery with Western sophistication, he thought it would be the right place to launch the Rosé (below, left) which combines spices and the scent of roses in its bouquet


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WHIRLS AND WINE

A whirling dervish performs before dinner is served on the first floor of a medieval palace TOP NOTES

Guerlain’s Thierry Wasser (below) has created new fragrances which reflect the smells of foods and spices such as clove, turmeric, cardamom, jasmine tea, dried rose petals, etc

earth he served the Oenothèque first. As it turns out, I prefer the Rosé 2002 but wasn’t it a huge risk to serve such a great wine before dinner? “Yes it was”, he laughs. “But you need to have balls, no?” Which is as good a description of Richard’s wine-making style as any of us will ever come up with. The dinner has been created by Jean-François Piège, a two-star Michelin chef from France. Jean-François has tried to combine the flavours of France and Istanbul in a menu that matches the notes of the 2002 Rosé. Much of the food is very good: ceviche of scallop and scallops with black truffle (a natural pairing with Rosé champagne), a shrimp head (which I did not eat) shrimps in the Turkish style, rose petal jelly, etc. Afterwards, the DJs take over in another area, more champagne is served and as the after-party begins, I slip out. The next day, as the international wine press leaves, I set out to explore Istanbul. Despite having just finished a column which explains why chefs can never be trusted to recommend restaurants, I go to a waterside seafood place called Poseidon because it has been highly recommended by a Delhi chef who is a close friend. It turns out to be a nasty tourist trap where they take perfectly good fish and destroy it by removing all flavour and moisture. Then I head for what I’m told is Istanbul’s New Bond Street/Sloane Street, Nisantasi. It is a lovely district full of international designer boutiques (Christian Louboutin, Tod’s etc.) and a very nice department store called Beymen which is Istanbul’s version of Barneys. The service and atmosphere are all so European that it is hard to reconcile this quiet sophisticated neighbourhood with the robustly raucous Spice Market and its salesmen chanting, “Like Sultan! Five times a night!” At dinner, I decide to stick with my chef friend’s recommendations, arguing that one bad experience is not enough to cause me to lose faith in her judgement. I go to Lokanta Maya, a casual mod-

ern European restaurant that is not unlike Diva in its feel. But the food at Diva is better. At Lokanta Maya, the schnitzel is poorly fried, the lentil salad is curiously flat and the duck confit consists of a sea of mash in which fragments of duck float like flotsam and jetsam. My final day in Istanbul is devoted to wandering around the old city. At the Spice Market, I had tried some of the caviar on sale and thought that it tasted odd. Now, I’ve secured the name of a reliable supplier and I seek his shop out. It is an old-style establishment where fresh caviar, newly brought in from Iran, is kept in refrigerated vats. You try various kinds, just as you would almonds or pistas, and decide which kind you like (between various batches of sevruga, beluga etc.) Then you order by the gram (50 grams, 100 grams, 200 grams or whatever) and they weigh it in front of you. They put it in tins while you watch and vacuum pack it for travel. It is not cheap but it is much cheaper than caviar would be in the West. And you know what you are buying. When you buy pre-packaged caviar, you run the risk of ending up with rubbish or fish jam. But here you can select the kind with the biggest glistening gray grains and the nuttiest, freshest flavour. (And no, I’m not parting with the name or address of the shop, so don’t ask). When at last it is time to go home, I fight the evening traffic to reach the international airport, where the crowded departures area is on par with Dhaka airport with chaotic, snaking check-in queues (that’s for Business Class; Economy is even worse). The Turkish Airlines lounge is nice but it is designed to accommodate 50 per cent fewer people than have turned up. And the flight to Delhi is so full that Turkish Airlines runs out of meal options. When I finally arrive at Delhi Airport, it is a relief to be at a modern airport with no crowds. Yes, Istanbul is wonderful with its mix of Europe and Asia. But if my hotel was in Europe, then the airport was certainly in Bangladesh.

It is not cheap but it is much cheaper than caviar would be in the West. And you know what you are buying

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spend three days in the lush surroundings and calm waters of Hua Hin (by the way, all you expert travellers that seem to think Thailand is only about Koh Samui and Pattaya, forget all that and explore Hua Hin – it’s an undiscovered paradise), I forced in one full day in Bangkok as part of my itinerary. This was Project TV and it required a full 24 hours of extreme dedication.

Rajiv Makhni

THE ADVENTURE BEGINS

THAILAND,THE TVLAND I

Buying a flatscreen TV in Thailand requires a full 24 hours of dedication. But it’s really worth it

T WAS like a procession. An impossibly long line of very boisterous people, each speaking extremely loudly and very excitedly and each – and let me repeat that word, EACH had a 32inch Samsung or Sony LED TV propped up on the baggage trolley. This was the line for checking in to the Thai Airways flight back to Delhi from Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok.

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AN EDUCATION

As I was scratching my head and trying to figure out what was going on, I was also thinking about how difficult it was going to be for each of these people to convince the check-in person to book these TVs in as part of their check-in baggage. But it seemed like the whole thing was like a well-oiled and much used machine. Check-in was smooth, each TV was snapped up like it was part of the process and finally it was my turn. “No TV?” was the shocked response to my handing over of my passport and ticket. Feeling like a criminal who had broken some local law that made it mandatory for each Indian returning home to buy a TV, I was subjected to suspicious looks by the person at the counter as well as the baggage handler standing next to her. Finally I was done and as I slowly slunk away trying to avoid any further scrutiny from the two people who thought I had lost my marbles, I felt a big swarthy arm attach itself to mine and lead me to one side. “Tussi nahin le ke aye TV?,” asked the Sardarji wearing a Hawaiian shirt, open almost to the belly button, and Bermuda shorts that were way too tight for the purpose they were originally made for. On seeing my perplexed expression, I was given a two-minute primer on exactly how silly I was and how I had missed out on getting “one TV per person in family for exactly half price ji”. Basically buying a 32 or 40-inch flatscreen TV in Thailand and bringing it to India costs you about half of what it would back home. How? Well, pay attention as this story gets even more interesting!

In Thailand, you can also get your TV delivered at the airport rather than lugging it around

PROJECT HOLY GRAIL

While Daljit Singh of the sweat-soaked-curly-chest-hair-insidevery-open-Hawaiian-shirt fame, hailing from Rajouri Garden and dealing in auto parts brought me up to speed – there were still many gaps in the whole methodology. It seemed too good to be true and I was determined to get to the bottom of this amazing cult that seemed to have discovered the TV-buying Holy Grail. My next trip to Thailand two months later revealed all. I was to FEBRUARY 10, 2013

HOLY COW

There are very few times in life when you truly discover something new every minute. This was one of them. To cut a long story short, let me take you through exactly how it works and skip the number of places I went to, the super street-smart people I met, how professionally all this is set up, how you can even get them to deliver a TV to you at the airport rather than you lugging one around, how there are certain shops that only carry the TVs that qualify for you to take home (they sell absolutely nothing else) and how the service, the smiles and the prices are top notch. This is how you go about it in a nutshell.

THE METHODOLOGY

Prices for certain TVs in Thailand are one of the lowest in the world. You can pick up a Samsung or Sony 32-inch LED TV for about 9,600 Thai Baht (at current rates that’s 9,600 x 1.78 – about R17,000). If you stay abroad for three or more days, Indian Customs allows you to bring back in person or in accompanied baggage – articles worth R25,000 without paying ANY customs duty at all. Thus your R17,000 TV costs you just that compared to about R32,000 in India. A 40-inch LED costs around 14,000 Baht or R25,500. Thus you pay 35 per cent custom duty on the extra R500 and get a 40inch LED for about R25,700. Most people pick them up from electronic stores like Power Buy, but those who’ve made this into a fine art buy from Phahurat (Mini India), Pantip Plaza (a mecca of computing products) or shops around Ratchadamri Road.

The prices for certain TVs in Thailand are one of the lowest in the world

VIEWFINDER

I checked in to Centara Grand Hotel, as part of my research told me that picking up the TV was easiest at CentralWorld Mall. This is a pretty unique hotel with a tranquil feel all around. The reason I was surprised at the calm surroundings is due to the fact that this hotel sits right on top of the mall itself and yet doesn’t have any of the chaos usually associated with mall hotels. I flung my bag into my room and jumped straight into half-price TV adventure land.

PAYS FOR ITSELF

That’s pretty much it. Buy the TV, keep the receipt in your front pocket, check it in as accompanied baggage to the smiling and very welcoming check-in personnel and wave cheerfully at the Customs people in India as you walk through. It’s perfectly legal, it’s part of your rights as an Indian citizen and there’s no reason why this should be restricted to a small cult of those in the know. The price difference in the TV that you buy can take care of the airline ticket to and fro from Thailand with change left over for a nice foot massage! At least you can also now smilingly nod your head when you’re asked “tussi vi le kay aye TV?”. So pack those bags and head out to T(V)hailand and send me a postcard and a picture of the TV you bought when you get there. Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3. Follow Rajiv on Twitter at twitter.com/RajivMakhni


indulge THE TWISTED CASE OF THE WEIRD PLAYLIST Yes, sometimes unusual things can happen to my playlist

TEACHING THE LEGENDS

The blues guitarist Johnny Jenkins (bottom right) influenced the legendary Jimi Hendrix (below)

Photo: GETTY IMAGES

M

THE JUKEBOX

F

Sanjoy Narayan

Y PLAYLIST got a little weird last week. It all began with a version of Paint it Black, the Stones’ song from 1966. The version, a cover, was stunning: slower and with none of the original lyrics. There was an Afro-beat and a funky feel to it, replete with congas and stuff. It was rather good. Instead of the original lyrics, the band covering it occasionally chanted Paint it Black, pronouncing black as ‘blaak’. I got curious and found out that the cover version was by a band, or rather, a collective, called Africa who put out just one album in 1968 called Music From “Lil Brown”. I later found that that Music from “Lil Brown” was an African-American response to Music From Big Pink, the debut album from The Band, which, of course, is the CanadianAmerican band that got fame because it was Bob Dylan’s back-up band but which, on its own, was easily one of the best rock bands that I’ve heard. Music From Big Pink had The Band classics such as Tears of Rage, To Kingdom Come, The Weight, This Wheel’s On Fire and Lonesome Suzie. At my home, that album, originally released in 1968, still spins regularly. Excited by my discovery that Music From “Lil Brown” was a ‘black’ response to Big Pink, I set about trying to find that album and drew a blank. No downloads on the Net. Nothing in the iTunes store and just a couple of tracks from a blog – Paint it Black, of course, and another song, Here I Stand. Music From “Lil Brown” has little to do with Music From Big Pink . In fact, the two couldn’t have been more different. The former is a confecta of soul, R&B and Afro-beat tunes; and the latter is, well, you better know what that famous album is (if not, go back and read the last paragraph!). I mentioned at the outset that my playlist

YOUR MUSIC IS MY MUSIC

Music from “Lil Brown” (far right) was an AfricanAmerican reaction to Music From Big Pink (right), the debut album of CanadianAmerican band, The Band

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oxygen, the LA band that is influenced by everyone from The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and The Kinks to a whole raft of other ’70s bands, and yet has a sound that is characteristically their own, have their new album out. It’s called We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic, and it has nine songs that are worth putting on repeat. Foxygen is a band that promises to go places

DEEP SEA DIVE

Macfarlane Gregory Anthony Mackey, better known as Exuma, debuted with Exuma (left) and Exuma II (below), albums one won’t find easily online

has some weird things happening to it of late. The other thing on it, after the two Africa numbers, is a podcast called Rhythm Room. It’s actually from a radio station called WWOZ, a local station in New Orleans, and a station to which almost every establishment’s radios are continuously tuned in to in New Orleans. Anyway, on one episode of the podcast from WWOZ, I discovered a musician whom I’d never heard before. Johnny Jenkins. A left-handed blues guitarist, Jenkins helped launch Otis Redding’s career by hiring Redding as a singer in his band before Redding became a legend. Jenkins also influenced another left-handed guitarist, Jimi Hendrix. The song on the podcast was Sick and Tired, a track from Jenkins’ 1970 album, Ton-Ton Macoute! (don’t ask me why it was called so; Haiti’s Papa Doc Duvalier’s infamous secret police were called by that name!). But the interesting thing is that the album was produced by Duane Allman just before Allman formed, along with his brother, Greg, the Allman Brothers Band. Duane plays electric guitar, slide and the dobro on the album, which is one piece of work that I want to acquire. The other music that found itself to my playlist is by Macfarlane Gregory Anthony Mackey. That’s quite a mouthful so that is perhaps why Mackey recorded under the name Exuma, which is a district in the Bahamas, the islands that he was a native of. Exuma moved to New York and in the early 1960s began performing his singular (a mix of calypso, reggae and African music) in Greenwich Village. Exuma died in 1997 at 54 but not before releasing several albums and influencing or playing with bands and musicians as diverse as Bob Dylan and Hendrix, Black Flag and Steppenwolf and Peter Tosh. I tried to look for Exuma and Exuma II, his first two albums, and couldn’t find them. I then settled for his 1973 album, Reincarnation, which is also currently spinning at home. It’s got a nice rollicking reggae-infused variety of rock that’s full of energy. A good find. MORE ON THE WEB

To give feedback, stream or download the music mentioned in this column, go to http://blogs.hindustantimes.com/ downloadcentral; follow argus48 on Twitter

FEBRUARY 10, 2013


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MIND BODY SOUL SHIKHA SHARMA

MAKE A CLEAN CHEST OF IT

A

S WINTER reaches its fag end, it brings in rain and humidity that can lead to health complications, particularly for those who are vulnerable to chest congestion. To avoid this, you could use natural remedies made from simple ingredients that are readily available in your kitchen. So, what are you waiting for? LICORICE: Also called mulethi, this is an effective demulcent. Mulethi makes tough mucous thinner, which makes it simpler to be expelled from the lungs. It also coats your insides and tackles irritation in the chest and throat. Boil mulethi in water along with other herbs to prepare a healing decoction. Licorice is a highly effective remedy for most people but isn’t recommended for pregnant women. You could also chew on mulethi sticks to eliminate chest congestion. CINNAMON: The ubiquitous dalchini is really effective as an antiseptic and cough reliever. Take a fresh cinnamon stick and powder it. Add the powder to a ginger and licorice mix and boil the water till it reduces to half. Drinking a cup of this concoction thrice a day can clear your lungs of congestion. GINGER: It is one of the most popular herbs used in ayurveda and comes in handy to address a number of ailments. It is effective

BREATHE EASY Add drops of eucalyptus oil to a cotton ball and inhale it; Fresh cinnamon is a cough reliever for respiratory problems such as lung congestion, cough, cold and allergies. To use ginger most effectively, it should be used as a fresh herb. The active compounds of ginger help dissolve and extricate phlegm. You can also add ginger shavings to a hot cup of tea. EUCALYPTUS OIL: It is a very good antiseptic for the lungs. To use it, just drain a capsule of eucalyptus oil onto a cotton ball and inhale the vapours. Alternatively, you can add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to water in an inhaler and inhale the steam. SOUP: Not only does hot soup rich in herbs and spices such as garlic, galangal and black pepper help to clear the airway to make breathing easier, it also helps in clearing lung congestion. GET A GOOD RUB: Massage your chest with a mixture of almond and sesame oil. You can also rub your soles with it. AVOID: Dairy products such as processed cheese, deep fried foods, refined foods and rice – they are likely to worsen your congestion.

Photos: THINKSTOCK

The active compounds of ginger help dissolve phlegm

SLURP IT UP Drink a hot bowl of soup that contains pepper and garlic to clear the airways and make breathing easier

ask@drshikha.com

FEBRUARY 10, 2013


PERSONAL AGENDA

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Film director

Gauri Shinde

BIRTHDAY July 6

PLACE OF BIRTH HOMETOWN SCHOOL/COLLEGE Pune

Mumbai

St Joseph’s High School and Symbiosis, Pune

LOW POINT OF YOUR LIFE

I once failed maths in school, which was extremely shameful

If you weren’t a director, you would have been... I would have been a wandering traveller for sure. What is your all-time favourite ad (not necessarily directed by you)? Well, my favourite one has been directed by me. It’s an ad for Havells wires. What is it like being married to Balki? There’s a lot of freedom. What is the best thing about him? He is anything but a bore. Do Indian men like women with curves? I’m not too sure about that but I definitely know that Indian women don’t like men with curves. If you were given a chance to remake a classic or a masala movie, which one would you pick? I would definitely prefer making an original masala movie instead of a remake. Your favourite chai-time snack? Biscuits. I can’t have chai without them.

THE HOTTEST STAR IN BOLLYWOOD?

5

CURRENTLY DOING

Trying my best to do nothing

HIGH POINT OF YOUR LIFE My film English Vinglish

things that make you smile Having tea in bed A good hair day My pets Some unexpected kindness Getting a good discount on something expensive

The one thing you would like to unlearn. The constant striving for perfection. The biggest risk you have ever taken. Driving in Mumbai. One piece of advice you wish someone had given you 10 years ago. Start saving! The best thing about Sridevi? Her simplicity and innocence. Who is your 3am friend? There are so many. I’m quite lucky to have friends like that. Who are you closest to? My family and friends. Which body part would you get insured? My hair. One rumour you would like to start. That each

Ranbir Kapoor

FEBRUARY 10, 2013

time someone spits on the road, R10,000 will disappear from their account. You have three minutes to pack; what do you take with you? My toiletries, medicines, a book, my wallet and a shawl. Your favourite pet. My two cats. Your favourite gadget. My HP notebook. One song that describes your current state of mind. Main Happy Vappy – the title song of English Vinglish. Your strategy in a crisis situation. Be calm and act swiftly. Your mantra for success. To be honest to myself. — Interviewed by Veenu Singh

Photo: THINKSTOCK

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Hindustantimes Brunch 10 February 2013