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WEEKLY MAGAZINE, GAZINE, MAR MARCH 16, 2014 Free with your copy off Hindustan Times T



To read Brunch stories (and more) online, log on to To discuss the stories (or give feedback), follow @HTBrunch on Twitter. For everything cool on the Internet, like Hindustan Times Brunch on Facebook. And for videos, check out our channel ( by Abhilasha Gupta

What does your quiz say about you? Everybody’s taking these random online quizzes to identify their personality traits based on a bunch of arbitrary questions. We believe there’s a much easier way to find out what you’re like, and who you are in the process. Your choice of quizzes alone can say so much about you!

The quiz

What it says about the quiz-taker

What song best describes you?

Give us a minute, listen to Pharrell Williams’ Happy and sing along: Because I’m happy... Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof... Because I’m happy. Now, this is the best song that best describes you right now

What celebrity are you like?

We can tell you you’re no Brangelina. And you know if you get Paris Hilton, you won’t post this quiz on social media but sulk instead

Are you going to hell?

Yes. We can determine that in less than 30 seconds: Do you smoke or drink? Have you had premarital sex? Because, “Let marriage be held in honour among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” Hebrews 13:4

People who don’t/ can’t attract any!

What colour are you?

Prefix your quiz result colour with the word “dull”. Dull grey, anyone?

Which city should you be living in?

Does it even matter? You can’t afford it

What font are you?

by Shreya Sethuraman


Not, if you clicked on that link!

Which FRIENDS character are you?

You’re Gunther. Yes, you’re that old. The season finale is 10 years old (it aired on May 6, 2004)

Which Hogwarts student are you?

Now that JK Rowling thinks Harry and Hermione would’ve been a better fit. But Ron and Hermione “will be alright with a bit of counselling”, we’re rethinking the whole series and NOBODY can tell you which one you’d be. Besides, the only ones you should want to be are Fred and George (minus the being dead or losing ear bit) and nobody’s THAT funny, so...

What should you cross off your bucket list next?

That you just took a dumb quiz about bucket lists

How hot are you?

If nobody’s bothered to ever make you aware of exactly how hot you are, you’re probably not very hot

Which sandwich are you?

The only important thing is if someone will ‘have you’

What kind of dog are you?

This, you’re allowed to take. Unless you turn out to be a “pomerian”!


A Delhiwallah and a Mumbaikar walk into a bar. This time, they’re discussing their travel plans. Here’s what they had to say.

Mumbaikar: 12 of us on a holiday? Ok, we’ll need to hire a van!

Delhiwallah: 24 people on holiday? Everyone has their own car

rcoat ked your polo neck and ove Delhiwallah: Have you pac ? mer sum this tang Roh and for the trip to Manali Mumbaikar: I’ve picked the umbrella and 18 pairs of undies for the trip to Goa this monsoon

n That you need to think before cheering for a cricket team n Growing acceptance of goondaism in the country n People replicating the world famous Oscar selfie n The app that asks you to lick your phone screen to learn how to please your woman n The survey that says Indian women prefer travelling solo overseas as opposed to in India. Ever visited Rann of Kutch or the coffee estates of Coorg? Boo!

Delhiwallah: My daughter loves to make snowmen when we travel to Shimla every New Year!

Mumbaikar: My daughter rides the same horse every week when we visit Matheran. They’re now best friends

up to Delhiwallah: Let’s bike it SO Ladakh this time. There’s hear much to see and feel and

Mumbaikar: Yay, a long weekend! Let’s pack our bags and head to Malshej Ghat

Mumbaikar: And eat what? Only Maggi?

Delhiwallah: That’s all you travel to? Within Maharashtra! We have Himachal and Uttarakhand and Jammu and Rajasthan and...

Remember the last time a Delhiwallah and Mumbaikar walked into a bar? Should you wish to add your own suggestions, tweet to @HTBrunch!



#BrunchBookChallenge HOW Follow @ The Brunch Book Challenge is an @HTBrunch initiative to TO get readers to read at least 24 books in 2014. Read anything H TBrunch READ HA you like, just keep us posted. Tweet your progress to LLENG 24 @HTBrunch with the hashtag #BrunchBookChallenge BOOKS ) (OR MORE AR We sent some books to our regular tweeters and they posted IN ONE YE these lovely ely pictur pictures. Thank you ou so much! g: C

Gaiman someness A Neil red to ed. volume delive @ ar your doorstep. De u. yo HTBrunch, I heart enge all #BrunchBookCh

anks for @ShagunGogia: Th rprise! su such an amazing read to Looking forward it. ^_^

MARCH 16, 2014

by Team Brunch

s all go to Lonavla! Mumbaikar: It’s raining! Let’ Delhiwallah: It’s always rain ing in Bombay. Why don’t you just move to Lonavla?

n That there’s a crowdfunded ‘normal’ doll with a ‘normal’ body. And her name is Lammily n The Tumblr page of (AAP) Ashutosh doing things n Samvidhan, a show that teaches you about the Indian Constitution n Kangana Ranaut in Queen n The chewing gum ad that spoofs other products such as ‘Ye wala toothpaste and TV’


Are you cool?

FOR ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES, PLEASE CONTACT National — Sanchita Tyagi: North — Siddarth Chopra: West — Karishma Makhija: South — Francisco Lobo:

Apples And Oranges


What type of guys/girls do you attract?

On The Brunch Radar


Said The Men In White Coats

Cover design: MONICA GUPTA Cover images: IMAGESBAZAAR

@SKisCalvin: @ HTBrunch Thank u guys so much! A selection of stories by @neilhimself! Truly treasurable!

@braniac_airhead: absolutely thrilled with the book arrival

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

DESIGN: Ashutosh Sap Sapru (National Editor, Design), Monica Gupta, Swati Chakrabarti, Payal Dighe Karkhanis, Rakesh Kumar, Ajay Aggarwal

@nithajay7: A wonderful gift from the wonderful motivators at HT Brunch. You guys ROCK!

Drop us a line at: or to 18-20 Kasturba Gandhi Marg, New Delhi 110001




For any worries related to unplanned pregnancy: Write to us at or call us at 1800-22-0502 (toll free) or sms ICAN to 56070 Website: 1. Dear Doctor, the condom split and I had to take an emergency contraceptive pill. I consumed this pill within 8 hours from the act. But I th am really tensed as it was my 14 day and it is supposed to be the ovulation day. Will the pill still be effective if consumed on the ovulation day? I am really worried. Please help. th

Many people believe that 14 day of the menstrual cycle is the ovulation day however this is not true for all women. Moreover, emergency contraceptive pills are over 95% effective when consumed at the earliest preferably within 12 hours of unprotected sex. Since you have taken it within 8 hours, your chances of conceiving are quite low. Even if we do th consider that 14 day was your o v u l a t i o n d a y, e m e r g e n c y contraceptive pill will still be effective on this day. 2. Dear Doctor, I am 28 years old and getting married next month. Is it advisable for me to use contraception and delay pregnancy for couple of years? Will the use of contraception make me infertile? Will I be able to conceive if I cross the 30 years age barrier? Contraceptives have been developed to maintain a woman’s reproductive health while ensuring that unwanted pregnancies do not occur. Before being available for sale, regulatory bodies and scientists spend several years checking that any contraceptive does not impact a woman’s fertility. It is only when these parameters are checked that the contraceptive is available for use in the general population. Hence, please be assured that use of any contraceptive measure will not have any impact on your fertility. In fact we recommend that as you do not wish to have a baby soon,

you must use any form of regular contraception. Also, a person’s ability to conceive depends on her and her spouse’s fertility. Each individual is different. Hence to say that once you cross 30 years of age it will be harder to conceive would be incorrect. If you and your spouse’s reproductive health is normal, we do not see any problems in your ability to conceive a baby later in life. We suggest you consult a gynaecologist along with your husband and discuss about all contraceptive methods available and choose the one you feel suits you and your husband the best. You may even want to check your reproductive health status so that you can make an informed decision on how long you can wait to have a baby. 3. Dear Doctor, I took an emergency contraceptive pill last week 11 days after my periods completion, and till now my periods have not started again. I am too stressed because of this. Please suggest me what can I do to get my periods. Does it mean I am pregnant? Emergency contraceptive pills may delay periods for few days from the expected date. However, I am assuming that you consumed the emergency contraceptive pills within 72 hours of having sexual intercourse, and you are stressed because you did not bleed after taking the pill. Please understand that withdrawal bleeding or spotting after taking emergency contraceptive pills is not a compulsory occurrence. Since, there is still time for your next period date, I request you to patiently wait for your periods and if it is delayed for over a week, then you can conduct a pregnancy test.

A BEDTIME STORY Open your eyes to the truth: good sleep is essential for good health


as it happened to you?

■ You’re driving to work in the morning. You’re stuck at a long red light. Do you find yourself getting groggy behind the steering wheel? ■ You’ve just finished lunch. Are you fighting the urge to nod off at the office desk? ■ You haven’t made any big lifestyle changes. Are aches and pains appearing more often? If it has, you’re probably sleep deprived. Most urban dwellers now get less and less sleep each night, and miss good quality sleep too. Research suggests that adults need between seven to eight hours of shut-eye every night.


Chronic sleep deprivation raises the body’s cortisol, which make you edgy and wired up. ■ Sleep-deprived people are more likely to lose their cool easily and get frustrated. ■ Sleep less and you age faster. ■ You are more prone to muscle pulls, and injuries heal slower. ■ The body’s production of the hormones – ghrelin (which increases appetite) and leptin (which signals that you’re full) – are compromised when it is not rested enough. So you overeat and gain weight. ■ Lack of sleep also makes you more prone to frequent coughs and cold. You’re more vulnerable to infections and fevers as your immunity is lower.

Supported by:

Not just a time-out

Think of sleep as medicine. It’s the time the body produces hormones that heal the body, skin and mind. It’s also a sort of reboot, when the mind organises new information received in the waking hours. So while it seems like sleep is a waste of time, a period of doing ‘nothing’ instead of ‘something better’, sleep is more important for you than anything you could have done otherwise.

How come something as simple as sleep causes so many problems when you skip it? Because sleep is more than a state of relaxa-

Queries answered by Dr Nirmala Rao MBBS, MD, DPM; a well known psychiatrist who heads Mumbai based Aavishkar - a multifaceted team of expert doctors and health professionals. Aavishkar has a comprehensive approach to mental and physical health, with an emphasis scan this QR code to visit website on counselling and psychotherapy.

tion. Studies in sleep labs show that it has several phases. The initial phase, when we TAKE THINGS doze, lets LYING DOWN the mind Humans need eight and body hours of sleep a night slowly relax into deep sleep. This lasts some 90 minutes, after which comes active sleep, with Rapid Eye Movement (REM), during which the brain processes the information of the day and repairs the body.


It’s a sign that sleep deprivation is wreaking havoc inside your body


MORE ON THE WEB For more columns by Dr Shikha Sharma and other wellness stories, log on to MARCH 16, 2014


A L ve Affair With Armenia

The tiny country has stunning landscapes and rich history. But it’s best quality: It will restore your faith in love by Amrah Ashraf


H, ANOTHER trip to Europe?” quipped a friend, after I told him I was visiting Armenia. “Err… Armenia is in Asia!” I said. He laughed and placed a bet that it was in east Europe, next to Georgia. “But Georgia is also in Asia,” I pointed out. We raised the stakes. Long story short: I won `5,000. Armenia is in Asia. And so is Georgia. I can hardly blame my friend. Armenia is incredibly obscure. But it’s got plenty to talk about. The country was the first one to adopt Christianity as its state religion (as early as the fourth century!); it has its own script and language and it was a part of the Soviet Union. The Kardashian family (they of the reality show, 72-day marriage and sex tape) originated from Armenia, though I doubt it’s a point of pride for any


Garni temple (top); get the best view of Mount Ararat from Khor Virap monastery

of its three million population. This much I knew even before I visited. What I didn’t know was that it would only take only three days for me to be mesmerised by its beauty, seduced by its history and fall in love with its people. Here’s how it happened.


My love affair with Armenia started in the most unusual way. Not a big fan of air travel, I woke up, startled, to bone-rattling turbulence. A vast expanse of blue, motionless water stretched out below, reflecting the sky above. Lurking somewhere in between were mountain peaks so close to the aircraft, I was certain we’d have speed breakers of the fatal kind. But one peak rose higher than the others, haloed by clouds, and glowing with a sunny amber hue. And there, amidst the jolts and bumps, I had my “at first sight” moment – and we hadn’t even landed yet! Back on terra

firma at the capital’s Yerevan Zvartnots International Airport, I took in a big gulp of fresh air, grateful to be alive. I spotted that gorgeous sun-kissed peak again, far away, between the clouds and the mist. On our drive to the historic Yerevan Hotel, where we were to spend the night, I saw the misty mountain again. But it wore a veil of grey clouds and I still couldn’t see my seducer. Our tour guide, Anna Stepanyak, told me the peaks would reveal themselves that afternoon. But they didn’t. It was an unusually dull and dusty day. And thus began the game of hide and seek. Thankfully, we spent the hot afternoon indoors at the Matenadaran, one of the world’s oldest repositories of ancient manuscripts. A giant statue of Mesrop Mashtots – the man who compiled the Armenian alphabet in 396 AD – greeted us at the entrance. Once inside, we ambled from shelf to shelf looking at the manuscripts, learning the history behind each – one dating back to 887AD, another written in pure gold. When we walked out of the Matenadaran,

Outside Yerevan, Armenia seems to be stuck in a time warp

dusk was upon us. I thought of those peaks again, but now the sky bore a dull shade of grey and the peaks were lost in the opaque sky. Miffed, I was still willing to give Yerevan a chance to seduce me. Instead, we were made to do some customary touristy things – pay our respects to Mother Armenia, a war museum and a reminder of the Nagorno-Karabakh war of 1991; visit the Cascades for an aerial view of the city and take pictures at Republic Square. Charming, but meh! My eyes instead were drawn to Armenia’s cobbled streets, small taverns that reeked of brandy, breezy cafés, and bustling crowds. I saw young ladies strutting in high heels, boys eyeing them while puffing on cigarettes and kids running around City Square. The city was impressive, but I was still waiting for that something special. As I walked around the city, I realised that a country, so alien to me, still made me feel right at home – a restaurant we dined at played Bollywood songs just for us, everyone knows of Mithun Chakraborty, and on our way back, we crossed the Indian Street. It’s named after a cinema hall that used to play old Bollywood movies exclusively. That night as we walked, laughed, talked and ate, I realised that I had developed a small crush on Armenia.


The following morning, I woke up with butterflies in my stomach. The previous night, the city had charmed me. And I was ready to be swept off my feet. That morning, as we drove south through the arid Ararat




(From left) Armenian men and women performing a traditional dance; the legendary 13th century Noravank monastery; the bustling Republic Square valley, I didn’t think much of the surroundings. But a sharp turn sprung a surprise. Something rose from the horizon, something large and majestic. And there they were – the biblical Mount Ararat, the twin peaks where Noah’s Ark is said to have come to rest after the Great Flood. This time, the mountains were free of clouds. Transfixed by their beauty, I pleaded with Anna to stop, but she refused. We were on a tight schedule and the Khor Virap monastery was our next stop. We stopped at the foot of a hillock on top of which sat the Khor Virap monastery (a collection of churches). The trek up looked daunting. But on Anna’s insistence, I huffed and puffed to the top. At the gates of the monastery, I realised why she had been so insistent. To our left were those twin peaks, closer than I’d seen them from the ground. Inside the church, in the pits of which Armenia’s connection to Christianity began, we realised Khor Virap’s importance. Under the church is the dungeon where Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned for 13 years for following a heretic faith, Christianity. Apart from the fact that the dungeon was swarming with snakes and scor-

pions, he wasn’t given a morsel of food. And yet he came out alive. It is believed that a woman, who loved and revered him, broke a small section of the wall with her bare hands and threw some food for him every day, keeping him alive. When he emerged out of the pit alive to cure the ailing king of Armenia, the king converted to his faith. He declared Armenia a Christian nation in 301 AD. Today, people believe that if you go down the dungeon and make a wish, it comes true. So down we went, one by one, to make a wish. I made one too, for love, like that woman. Her wish came true; I’m still waiting. Later, as we drove to a 13th century monastery in the Noravank region, Anna told us numerous tales of love – how a mountain peak was named after a princess who dared to love a commoner and paid for it with her life, local songs about women waiting for their long lost loves; and the great architect, painter and sculptor Momik. Momik today is hailed by the Armenians for his fine carving of khachkars (Armenian cross

Did you know the Armenians call their candied fruits ‘murabba’?

TRAVEL INFO There are no direct flights to Armenia. Air Arabia has daily flights from Delhi and Mumbai to Sharjah. There are flights to Yerevan four times a week from there. Travelling within Yerevan is easy and cheap. Hop into a taxi or a Marshutka (minivans). Taxi fares starts at 101AMD which is `15.

stones) found at the Noravank monastery. But back then, he wasn’t so lucky. He fell in love with the king’s daughter and the king called for his head. While crafting khachkars on the second floor of a church, Momik was pushed to his death by the king’s men. His grave stands on the exact spot where he fell and the second floor still stands incomplete. Later that night, we were invited for drinks at Cilicia, a replica of an ancient Armenian ship, nestling at Lake Sevan. The captain and his mates manually raised the mighty sails and welcomed us on board. As we drifted slowly on the deep blue waters, I realised that my wish had indeed come true. I was in love... with Armenia.

A bottle of water is approximately 150AMD, which is `23. But a pint of beer is less than `80. The best time to visit Armenia is end of September to early November. Summer is mostly harsh, with temperature crossing 40 degrees C. Winter is extremely cold and it occasionally snows in north Armenia.


The next day, in the snow-covered region of Tsaghkadzor, everything looked austere. Maybe because I knew that was my last day in the country. We visited the only surviving pagan temple in Armenia, Garni. One look at the temple from the valley makes you realise how perfect the world was then. The stone structure stands in the sun all day, but once a day in the afternoon, the sun plays so beautifully upon the stone that the entire structure shines. After a long lunch at a local villager’s house, we drove back to Yerevan. On the road, I couldn’t help noticing abandoned vintage mini buses along the way and people still travelling in beat-up

MARCH 16, 2014

classic Camaros. If you’re lucky, you might find a cell phone tower or two. The sense of isolation may have been unsettling for others, but I loved the feeling. The thing about Armenia is that outside Yerevan, it seems to be stuck in a time warp. We had the last evening to ourselves. I made the most of it by walking through the streets, shopping for souvenirs, watching a jazz concert, tasting brandy (never again! It’s too bitter) and munching on local candied fruits. Later that night when everyone retired to their rooms, I decided to step out, one last time. I walked past Republic Square, sat outside the Opera House, walked along the boulevard – there was silence around me. The air was still reeking of brandy, but the bar stools were empty. I knew my love affair was coming to an end. This was our last night together. Breakups are hard, but this was always meant to be a very short love story. (The writer’s trip was sponsored by Air Arabia.) amrah.ashraf@ Follow @hippyhu on Twitter


Mother Armenia, a female warrior, overlooks all of Yerevan


Weekend In Dubai


n Palm Jumeirah (above), the man-made islands off the coast of this desert city, are best viewed from the top. Take a helicopter ride or book a hot-air balloon or charter a plane. But if money is what keeps you grounded, then drive down. n The Burj Al Arab is the only seven-star hotel in the world. You can argue for or against it, but we would suggest a dinner at any of the restaurants of this iconic sail-shaped luxury hotel. n And yes, don’t miss the snow while in Dubai. Ski Dubai, an indoor ski resort, is part of the Mall of the Emirates.

Accessible, affordable, enjoyable — that’s what a holiday in Dubai is all about by Nadeshda Zareen


T’S NOT easy planning a long holiday to one of those exotic places you see in glossy brochures. The next best option is a visit to an accessible destination – with just three conditions. It should be easy on the wallet, must be a foreign city (you need to carry your passport!), and big enough to be covered in half a week. Dubai fit the bill perfectly. And that’s where we decided to go! Enough has been said about glitzy Dubai, and our friends who live there assured us that the glittering metropolis has many unnoticed nooks and unexplored corners as well. If you have only 72 hours in this desert nation and want to get a taste of both glam and grunge, here’s a ‘two weekends in one’ trick that might help.


We landed in Dubai mid-week – for us, that is. Wednesday is almost weekend for a culture that takes Thursday and Friday as its weekly off ! On the first day, we headed to the older parts of the town, Bur Dubai and Deira – the heart of Dubai and home to many Indian and Pakistani immigrants. We were still slightly stiff from sitting, all cramped up, for three hours in economy airline seats, so walking seemed like a good idea. Separated by the Dubai Creek, Bur Dubai and Deira fight to


You can’t visit Dubai without visiting the tall Burj Khalifa (above) or going for a desert safari

maintain their old-world charm and yet keep pace with modernity. A late afternoon walk along the Dubai Creek on the Bur Dubai side drove away all lingering weariness from the flight. Though you can walk along the entire length of the creek (that could take hours), we started from near the Metro stop closest to the Heritage Village. From Gubaiba station to the Heritage Village it took us half an hour – photo session time included.


On the Bur Dubai side, the creek is lined with restaurants that offer varied cuisines and flavoured tobacco shisha. If you want to explore further, hop on to a water taxi or ‘abra’ and cross over to Deira – home to Dubai’s oldest gold souk – a blinding and brilliant row of shops, and more shops for gold jewellery. And then there is Deira’s famous spice souk which makes for an interesting tour or at least interesting photos. Al Bastakiya and Al Fahidi Fort, the oldest existing buildings in Dubai, are also worth a look. Dinner at any of the creek-side restaurants is a great idea. And for the desert, we decided to wait for the next day. No, that wasn’t a spelling error! A desert safari is a not-tobe-missed-experience. Book in

MARCH 16, 2014


advance with your tour operator or ask your hotel to make arrangements. Whatever you do, make sure you get your piece of desert. The thrill of 4x4 vehicles roaring over the sand is exhilarating, along with dune bashing, and if you are a bit more adventurous, sandboarding. Opt for the afternoon safari as opposed to a morning one. It will give you a relaxed morning and allow for a bit of shopping before heading out for more adventure. Also, the afternoon safari ends with dinner at a campsite in the desert with belly dancing and tanoura show.


So you’ve explored heritage and tasted adventure. How about keeping the last day for the highfashion part of the city – Dubai Downtown? Burj Khalifa, the 830-metre

high architectural and engineering marvel, attracts tourists and residents in droves. Book early (even online) for a ride up to the observation deck on the 124th floor of the building. The view of the city below is enchanting. If you are there in the evening, you can watch the dancing waters of the Dubai Fountain from the top. Since it is located adjacent to the Dubai Mall, a trip to Burj Khalifa will also bring you to the world’s largest mall. Shop or window shop, relax at a café or opt for a fine dining restaurant, laze in front of the aquarium or check out the installation art, the place has a lot to offer. We kept the evening free to catch up on conversations with friends. And a late Friday night out of Dubai brought us to Delhi early Saturday – just in time for the weekend here.




Solo liStening The intriguinglynamed American band Sun Kil Moon’s new album is about heartbreak, tragedy and sorrow; yet it’s not depressing


’VE NOT been able to find out why San Franciscan folk rocker Mark Kozelek calls his band Sun Kil Moon except that the name is probably taken from that of a South Korean bantamweight boxer called Moon SungKil and that Kozelek is deeply inspired by the sport of boxing. There’s a bit of Delhi-related but, otherwise unrelated trivia, too, which I found: Moon Sung-Kil won the gold in his class at the 1982 Asiad, which, as we all know, was held in Delhi! Sun Kil Moon’s new album, Benji, is punchy but not anywhere close to the kind of connotation that word could have in boxing. But the eleven songs on it have noholds-barred lyrics and a sound that is haunting and spare. In nearly all of the songs, the lyrics tell stories that centre on the death of someone – an uncle or some other member of the family or a friend. But despite the morbidity of such a theme, the songs sound anything but deathly. Kozelek’s baritone and his powers of narrating a story, along with the sparingly done musical arrangements make listening to Benji a very satisfying experience. It’s mainly so for the lyrics. On Truck Driver, Kozelek talks about his uncle’s death and his funeral: I flew out there, I went to his funeral/ It was stormy that day, the sky was deep purple/ And babies were crying, Kentucky Fried Chicken was served/ And that’s how he would have wanted it I’m sure. On Carissa,

Sanjoy Narayan

download central SHE CAN SING AND PLAY

Annie Clark, known as St. Vincent, garnered acclaim for her singing as well as her ability to play a dozen instruments

Kozelek sings about a second cousin who died at 35 and had “raised kids since she was 15 years old”; on Richard Ramirez Died Today of Natural Causes, he sings of the life and death of a stalker and murderer; on Jim Wise, it is about a man who fails at suicide after killing his wife. Like the other Sun Kil Moon album that ay I have – 2003’s Ghosts of the Great Highway en – Benji is an album that works best when you listen to it alone, on the headphones or in a darkened room or just late at night on those occasions when you’re just not able to sleep. It is about heartbreak, tragedy and sorrow and yet, surprisingly, it is never depressing. Annie Clark is better known as St. Vincent, a stage-name she reportedly took from the name of the hospital where the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, died. A multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter, St. Vincent has four solo albums to her credit – the eponymous St. Vincent being the latest. In


Benji (right) is an album that works best when heard alone; St. Vincent’s (above right) stunning music makes it indispensable listening MARCH 16, 2014


Mark Kozelek’s baritone and his powers of narrating a story, make listening to Benji, his latest album, a very satisfying experience addition, she released in 2012 an album in collaboration with Talking Heads’ David Byrne, Love This Giant. She’s garnered enormous critical acclaim, both for her compositions and singing, as well as her ability to play more than a dozen instruments, including a very versatile guitar, which emit punk-sounding snarls as well as melodic riffs with equal ease. After a stint with the experimental choral rock group The Polyphonic Spree, Annie Clark debuted as St. Vincent with her first album, 2007’s Marry Me, followed by 2009’s Actor and then 2011’s Strange Mercy, all albums that are part of an adventurous exploration, none of them preparing you for what the next will sound like. All the predecessors of her current album, St. Vincent, are worth listening to and deserve a place in your collection but this, the latest one, is indispensable. Beginning with the first song Rattlesnake, composed after a real-life experience in the desert, to Huey Newton, written (as she says in an interview with NPR) in an Ambien-induced haze, the album’s 40 minutes show that this is one musician who is resolved to strike a unique path. Besides being a wiz at many instruments, St. Vincent is a brilliant vocalist, equally adept of wowing you with an a capella performance as she is when singing in accompaniment to standard rock music instruments. Talking of which, it must be mentioned that on her latest album, in a departure from her earlier ones, on which horns, guitars and string instruments such as violins are de rigeur, Clark employs, in addition to saxophones and strings, electric guitars, drums and synths. A standout track is Digital Witness ness, her satirical take on the new connected, shareable and viral digital world. Musically, shar on this track as well as several others on the album, it is the unexpected twists that a song alb takes after it begins that makes St. Vincent’s tak music so stunning. Download Central appears every fortnight

MORE ON THE WEB To give feedback, stream or download the music mentioned in this column, go to Write to Sanjoy at sanjoy.


United ColoUrs of MelboUrne A Ain’t no sunshine in Australia till you’ve enjoyed Melbourne. But get to the city only when you’ve begun to understand the country

LMOST EVERYWHERE I went in Melbourne, I heard Ain’t No Sunshine, that old Bill Withers song. They played it in the hotel lobby. They played it in the shops and they played it in the restaurants. Which was ironic (but great: it is a terrific song) because Melbourne was blazing with sunshine. The heat wave of a month ago had subsided so the temperature was pleasant (shirt-sleeves weather all day) but the sun gave the city a bright glow as it bounced off the gleaming skyscrapers on to the roofs of the old buildings. I’d been to Australia before but never to Melbourne. The old Australia we heard about, of swagmen, Crocodile Dundee and Sir Les Patterson, is dead. And Sydney is the new Australia’s advertisement for itself with an amazing harbour, the Opera House, and such world-famous chefs as Tetsuya, Peter Gilmore and Mark Best. Melbourne still looks a little like the old Australia; certainly it has none of Sydney’s in-your-face wow factor. But it has the quiet charm of a cultured European city. And like all great European cities, it takes a little time to discover all the things that make Melbourne so special. I was there for the annual Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, a global event that showcases the best of the new

Vir Sanghvi

rude travel

MORE ON THE WEB For more columns by Vir Sanghvi, log on to hindustantimes. com/brunch The views expressed by the columnist are personal

Australia’s food and wine culture. We kicked off with what they called The World’s Longest Lunch. Over 1,500 people sat across each other on a long row of tables on the banks of the Yarra River, three of the city’s best chefs cooked a full meal, a winery supplied four different wines and an enthusiastic team of waiters provided restaurant-quality service. The food was okay (not easy to produce gourmet meals for 1,500 people) but the experience of sitting by the river, watching the Kookaburra birds and getting to know strangers – Australians must be among the world’s friendliest people – was magical. You could choose what you wanted to do at the festival and most of the events I chose were wine-related. I’ll do a separate piece on Australia’s wines later but the food in Melbourne was quite extraordinary. Though we think of Australians as being Brits who were sent off to the southern hemisphere for a variety of reasons (not all of them creditable), the reality is that Australia has always been more multi-cultural than we realise. Even when there was a White Australia immigration policy (till the Seventies, after which it has been torn to shreds), the Europeans who

MARCH 16, 2014



came to Melbourne were not always from Britain. The Italians got to Australia around the 1860s, even before later waves of Italian immigration hit America and you can see their influence everywhere, especially in the city’s coffee culture. Melbourne has more coffee shops and cafés per capita than any other city in the world. A good cup of coffee is easy to find and all the best cafés are hidden in little alleys and known only to locals and regulars. The Greeks came here soon after and Melbourne boasts of having more Greeks (well, Australian-Greeks now) than any city in the world outside of Greece. Even the Chinese beat the immigration policy by getting to Melbourne during the Gold Rush (mid 19th century) on which the city’s prosperity is based. Australians claim that the dim sum was invented in Melbourne (well, I’m sure the Chinese have something to say about that!) but nobody can deny that the city has the world’s oldest Chinatown, older even than the Chinatowns in the US, which were created much later when Chinese workers were drafted to build the railroad. And of course, there are Indians. (There are Indians everywhere!). If you call for a cab in Melbourne, the chances are that it will be driven by an Indian. It is as likely that the driver will claim that he is a student (well, he’s certainly there on a student visa) or that he originally got to Melbourne to enrol in a course of study of some description. The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival tries to capture some of the city’s diversity. For the Festival fortnight, they took over part of the riverfront and built a pop-up restaurant (or should that be ‘bob-up’– it was anchored to the Yarra River like a pontoon) and asked young chefs to design special menus. So, modern dim sum were on the same menu as a fermented brown rice risotto and a classic slow-braised pork dish. Restaurants around the city reflect this ethos. I had dinner at Tonka, a small-plates place run by Adam D’Sylva, an Australian chef with an Italian mother and an Indian father. D’Sylva’s better-known place, Coda, reflects his Italian heritage but Tonka is his take on Indian flavours. Indians may find the food takes a little getting used to but the restaurant was packed out and noisy. Then there’s the excellent Longrain, an Australian-style Thai restaurant, which confirms the general view that Australian chefs (David Thompson, Dylan Jones, etc.) can turn out wonderful Thai food. Not everything works. I had dinner at Spice Temple, a Chinese restaurant (branches in Sydney and Melbourne)




The best cafés in Melbourne are hidden in little alleys and known only to locals and regulars (above) CLASS APART

I ate the best meal I’ve eaten in the southern hemisphere at a stunning restaurant, Vue de Monde (left)


Melbourne has none of Sydney’s in-your-face wow factor. But it has the quiet charm of a cultured European city run by Neil Perry who must be one of Australia’s most popular chefs. (His best-known restaurant is Rockpool.) The décor was borrowed from Hakkasan in London but the food was pretty terrible. I ate eight dishes looking not for authenticity (a great chef is allowed to play around with recipes) but for flavour. Except for one beef dish which was so-so, the rest of the food lacked flavour or originality. And there wasn’t much authenticity either. Other celebrity chefs fared better. John Lawson, a Brit, made his reputation in the Gordon Ramsay stable (Gordon Ramsay At The London in New York and then Maze in Melbourne) but his food is far better than the stuff Ramsay turns out these days: a Ramsay staple of scallops on cauliflower purée was elevated by the addition of a slowcooked pig’s cheek; a duck breast was technically perfect (crisp on the outside and pink inside); and a great roasted barramundi (a favourite fish with Australian chefs) lost out to an even better accompaniment, an almond mushroom. This is a mushroom that looks pretty normal but fills your mouth with the flavour of almond after five seconds of chewing. I ate the best meal I’ve eaten in the southern hemisphere over lunch one sunny afternoon at Vue de Monde, a stunning restaurant owned by Shannon Bennett, among Australia’s most highly regarded chefs. Vue de Monde is on the 55th floor of the Rialto building and offers spectacular views of Melbourne. Unlike most expensive restaurants run by celebrity chefs, this one is built around an open kitchen and there are no tablecloths, just dark, textured kangaroo hide which is tacked to the table. The presentation of the food is unusual without being too gimmicky. The bread comes in a kangaroo leather pouch with heated rocks inside and is eaten off thin slabs of polished bluestone. What look like stones placed randomly on the table open up to reveal salt and pepper and space for butter. The Christofle cutlery (specially made, I would imagine) is etched with botanical forms that reach up the blades of the knives and the handles of the forks. The food just kept coming. I was hosted by Melanie de Souza, who old Calcutta hands will remember from her days with the Oberoi group in the 1980s, and who is now general manager of Tourism Victoria. Melanie has been there before but even she was taken aback by the procession of dishes: truffle marshmallow, smoked eel topped with

chocolate praline, seared kangaroo, a barramundi served two ways, one of which was an amusing take on Kentucky Fried Chicken, little morsels of Blackmore wagyu served inside a marrow-bone with more Wagyu fat shaved on top of it, and an absolutely perfect soufflé served with chocolate mousse. There was lots more food (I reckon we did something like 15 small courses) but I really can’t remember all of it. Suffice it to say that I ate things I never believed I would eat, let alone like so much: duck’s tongues, lamb’s heart, young wallaby and God alone knows what else. There was not a single dud dish in the whole meal. Critics – such as my old mate Bruce Palling – have complained about the debt Vue de Monde owes to El Bulli. For instance, there was a palate cleaner of fresh lemon balm, parsley sage flowers and more, which the chef then blitzed with liquid nitrogen at the table and asked guests to pound with a pestle to crumble. The chef then ladled cucumber sorbet on top so I guess the dish was very molecular in its conception. And there is an acknowledged debt to Noma: Bennet’s head chef at Vue de Monde, Cory Campbell worked there. But given that I’ve never been to El Bulli or Noma, I have to say I was entranced by the food without being unduly troubled by questions of provenance. So, should you go to Melbourne? My view is that you should start your trip with three days in Sydney, then spend a couple of days somewhere scenic (Kangaroo Island, the Great Barrier Beef etc.) and finally give yourself four or five days to get to know Melbourne. Australia needs about 10 days (bare minimum) anyway. And Melbourne should be the city you get to when you’ve begun to understand the country. Ain’t no sunshine in Australia till you’ve enjoyed Melbourne.

Melbourne has more coffee shops and cafès per capita than any other city in the world

MARCH 16, 2014


I ate seared kangaroo (above), a barramundi (below) served two ways, one of which was an amusing take on Kentucky Fried Chicken, among many other great dishes at Vue de Monde


Melbourne has the world’s oldest Chinatown, older even than the Chinatowns in the US



The holy Grail of fiTness Trackers Why a fitness tracker could be a serious game changer

DISCLAIMER 1: I am a complete fitness tracking nut. Any device of any kind that can tell me in numbers what my body is doing while working out and also track me for the rest of the day – I will clip/embed/pin/strap it on. There’s a term for people like me called BHS (body hacking sl*t) and while crude, it’s a very apt description. DISCLAIMER 2: Vishal Gondal is a close friend and a person whose story is fascinating. When you set up a company (India Games) that you sell shortly for a $100 million (to Disney), you do qualify as someone who knows what he is doing. DISCLAIMER 3: Due to the above two disclaimers, I wasn’t going to do this story as I thought there was a conflict of interest. I’m anyway overly fascinated by fitness trackers and this one comes from a company owned by a friend, but my life in the last one week has made me rethink my decision. I shall explain in more detail. WHY TRACKERS FAIL: Now that we’ve got the disclaim-

Rajiv Makhni


Be motivated by keeping track of your daily goals

MORE ON THE WEB For previous columns by Rajiv Makhni, log on to hindustantimes. com/brunch. Follow Rajiv on Twitter at The views expressed by the columnist are personal

ers out of the way, let’s get down to brass tacks. Fact: Fitness tracking devices are the hottest category in tech. Fact: There isn’t a tech company of repute in the world that isn’t coming up with one. Fact: Fitness bands are awesome when you start off with them and then you hit a wall where you don’t see the point of all that data. Fact: People who use fitness trackers don’t seem to think that they made them any fitter in the long run. FATAL FLAW: If you analyse those facts, they seem to be contradictory to each other. Why would the hottest category in tech also be the one in which people don’t see any real benefit? Why are people strapping on bands and then dissing the same device? That’s because every band has one fatal flaw. It only reports on all that awesome data that your body generates – and doesn’t tell you what to do next with it. You get numbers and charts and figures and goals flying at you from all directions with absolutely no idea what to do next. ALL DATA, NO DIRECTION: I’m a fitness band junkie (I own nine different trackers) and I noticed a pattern that I followed. I would buy a new one every time something was announced, dedicate myself to its ecosystem, make changes as per what it was telling me and then sit and discuss all that new data with either a personal trainer or coach or marathon runner or anyone who I thought could tell me what my body was reporting and what to do next with it. Most people didn’t have a clue! And that’s the fatal flaw that all this body hacking equipment has. It has no human element to guide you through all those numbers. It’s like owning the best car in the world except that it doesn’t come with a steering wheel. It has all the whiz-bang technology and features but no way to take you where you want to go. THE HUMAN ELEMENT: GoQii (pronounced Go Key) seems to have capitalised on that flaw. It’s this very hi-tech


This tracker has the human element that is missing in other fitness trackers

-looking band with a curved touchscreen that can report on number of steps you’ve taken, distance covered, calories burnt, quality of sleep and even tracks the number of super active minutes in a day – but it then throws in something that no other band can do. It becomes your interface between real human professional trainers (called coaches) who monitor your stats and progress, and interact with you in real time. From two-way messaging, specific guidance as you progress, motivation to keep you on track, check-in audio and video calls, to even vibrating your device to reward or alert you – these coaches literally hand-hold (or wrist-hold) you to make sure that everything you do and everything your band tracks has context, meaning and direction. It’s like having a personal trainer strapped to your wrist 24x7. BUT THAT’S THE THEORY: While it sounded good on paper, I found it impossible to even think that a company can pull it off. This was like the holy grail of fitness trackers and something that I thought would come five years down the line. Thus, when I was given a chance to be one of the first to be part of a pilot project, I was climbing the walls to get started. My first surprise was the device itself, a nicely designed water- and sweat-resistant wedge that sits in a very snazzy-looking band. But the device wasn’t my goal, it was the coaching that came with it. My first step towards that was a setup call I got from my allocated coach, followed by me filling out an intelligently-put-together online form that was a lesson in fitness psychology. And then I was off. EYE OPENER: I’ve only done this for about a week but here are my initial thoughts. The device itself is great, accurate and quite a conversation starter, as literally everyone who sees it wants to know more about it. But it’s the constant coaching that blows the socks off anything else I’ve ever tried. This real time coaching isn’t a hack job, as the number of things I’ve been guided on are truly revolutionary. From sleep to nutrition to a better run to a more intense workout – the numbers and the rationale behind are set to context by a team that are true professionals and know what they’re doing. My real-time guidance has taught me that I work out better in the evenings (I’ve always been an advocate of super early morning workouts) and that I should do my strength exercises before my cardio and not after. And these habit changers have come about in less than a week. DESPITE THE CONFLICT OF INTEREST: GoQii’s taken the greatest flaw in a fitness band and made it into its biggest feature. It also has a unique business model. The band is free but you pay for the coaching only (and you can keep the band if you don’t want to pay for the coaching). And 1,000 Indians get to be the first to be part of the pilot project before it gets a worldwide release. GoQii could be a game changer worldwide and one that really does something out of the box. And that’s the reason I finally decided to write about it despite my own apprehensions and also telling Vishal Gondal that I wouldn’t, disclaimers or not. For a true BHS – this is nirvana! Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3


indulge Are You WeAring ThAT?


Celebrating the women who found style by forgetting fashion


S IT JUST me, or has the fashion world gotten completely out of hand? Every four months or so, we are presented with a new look and asked, in all seriousness, to overhaul our entire wardrobes if we want to stay on trend. I am sorry, but who has the money, the time, the inclination, or even the energy to do this sort of thing, year in and year out? Ah, yes, of course, the professional fashionistas. You know the kind of women I mean, don’t you? The ones who dutifully ditch their skinny jeans when ‘boyfriend’ jeans come back in fashion. Who go monochrome when the catwalk does, and rush out to buy animal prints when the glossy magazines sternly instruct them to update their look. Who strap on the stilettoes when they are in fashion, slip on the ballet flats (heaving a sigh of relief, I imagine) when they come back into vogue, and veer between platforms, wedges, kitten heels, and God alone knows what else, depending on what’s ‘in’. Speaking for myself, I can’t think of a bigger waste of time, energy and money. If something works for you, then surely, it makes sense to stick with it, no matter what the fashion world is currently salivating over. But given how

Seema Goswami


Michelle Obama dresses according to her own aesthetics – no sleeves, empire waists and hems that hover around the knee

spectator women are beginning to dress like Identikit versions of one another, right down to matching handbags, I guess it requires courage, and even a certain bloodymindedness, to ignore the ‘latest’ fashions and stick to the same wardrobe year after year. Which is why I can’t help but admire those ladies who resist the tyranny of fashion, ignore all its diktats, find their own style, and then stick to it, come bell-bottoms or high heels. As that old cliché goes, fashions may change every season but style is eternal. So here, in no particular order of importance, is my list of stylistas, who, in my reckoning, out-class the fashionistas in our midst, without even trying! n Vidya Balan: Come rain or shine, Cannes or Kanpur, you can depend on Vidya to roll up in a sari, with three-quarter sleeve blouses, and her hair cascading down in unruly curls. You can call her a behenji or an aunty – and many people


Come rain or shine, Cannes or Kanpur, you can depend on Vidya Balan (right) to roll up in a sari. And Rekha’s (far right) Kanjeevarams are the stuff of legend MARCH 16, 2014


You may disagree with Sonia Gandhi’s (above) politics but her styling is always impeccable. Harsimrat Kaur’s (left) public persona is built around a wardrobe of salwarkameezes, with a dupatta draped firmly over her head do – but does she care? Not a jot. And more power to her. n Sonia Gandhi: You may disagree with her politics but her styling is always impeccable. Handloom saris (many of them hand-me-downs from her redoubtable mother-in-law, Indira) impeccably draped and pinned into place, sensible shoes, and no handbag, ever. This is pared-down dressing at its best, and it works like a charm. n Rekha: The original diva. Her Kanjeevarams are the stuff of legend, the bright slash of sindoor is flaunted like a red rag to the media bulls and is a perfect match to the matte lipstick, and when it comes to jewellery, this actress clearly believes that nothing glitters quite like gold. n Naina Lal Kidwai: The boring uniform of a black trouser suit is not for this financial powerhouse. She prefers the soft drape of a sari to camouflage those killer business instincts, her version of the iron fist in a velvet glove. n Michelle Obama: Fashion designers from across the world may be lining up to dress the First Lady of the United States but they have to work with her own aesthetic. That means no sleeves (to show off those toned arms); empire waists to emphasise the thinnest part of her body, and hems that hover around the knee. n Harsimrat Kaur: There is a certain charming insouciance to a modern Sikh woman whose public persona is built around a wardrobe of salwar-kameezes, with a dupatta draped firmly over her head. Stereotype her at your own peril. And no, I don’t think it is a coincidence that all these stylistas are women of a certain age. Rare is the woman in her teens and twenties who can summon up the courage to go her own way when it comes to fashion. You need the confidence and selfknowledge that comes with age to make your own rules and stick to them, no matter what the world may say. And to know that style trumps fashion every time.

MORE ON THE WEB For more SPECTATOR columns by Seema Goswami, log on to brunch. Follow her on Twitter at twitter. com/seemagoswami. Write to her at seema_ The views expressed by the columnist are personal


Art Takes Flight

Designer and art curator Rajeev Sethi is the man behind the inspiring art at Mumbai’s new airport by Rachel Lopez


AVE YOU been yet? Boarded or disembarked a flight at T2, Mumbai airport’s much-talked-about, muchfeted new international terminal? Perhaps you stopped for a selfie at one of the art installations; maybe the folk art and contemporary works made you pause and think en route to baggage claim. It’s quite possible that you saw so much that you remember nothing specific, but were so taken with it all, you almost missed your flight. For Rajeev Sethi, the 64-yearold man behind all the art at T2, getting people to miss their flights is all part of the plan. Years ago, when Sanjay Reddy (the managing director of the joint venture that runs the airport) asked him to take over the art for the upcoming terminal, Sethi hedged for quite a while. “Then Sanjay said ‘I don’t want a Dubai or a Shanghai. I want people to see India. I don’t mind if they miss their flight’,” Sethi recalls. “That swung the deal for me. I said, ‘Sanjay you’re such a crazy man. I’m going to do it’.”


In retrospect, the crazier man was probably Sethi. “The airport gave us niches – ‘Here, you can put art in it’ – and we ended up with the whole wall.” Four years, 1,500 artists, a thousand sketches and many CGI renderings later, Sethi has pretty much taken over the whole terminal. There are more than 7,000 single pieces, installa-


tions and assemblages made from metal, terracotta, papier mâché, stone, bone, ceramic and wood. Some works are made from more unorthodox materials: cow dung, commercial billboards, ship pows, bottle caps and circuit boards. One work spans 3.2 kilometres, another one dates back to the 6th century. Think of the T2 as a museum, one that holds more artefacts than any museum in India does and is open 24x7 (albeit only to those who can afford an air ticket). “The airport gets 40 million footfalls a year. We wanted the art to be a seamless whole, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, a tribute to the anonymous genius of this country,” he says.


Not all of it is anonymous – artists like Vivan Sundaram, GR Iranna, Manu Parekh, Baiju Parthan, Jagannath Panda, Riyas Komu and Mithu Sen have created works for T2. But at the terminal, they seem no more important than the colourful quilt made by Andheri slum women that wraps around the top floor, or the patta-chitra work displayed a level lower that Sethi found “in 526 envelopes”.


The terminal reimagines folk art from across India; the sacred and profane coexist (right)

MARCH 9, 2014




Sethi (above) is the genius behind T2, which exhibits contemporary works (left); sculpture, architecture and paintings combine in a singe work (right) One gigantic backdrop was created by draping a big cloth over a structure in Dharavi so that artists could work. Slum residents posed for painters so the drape of the clothes on the human figures would come out right. All of it, you’ll realise, is sitespecific. Nothing has been transplanted from a different time and place to sit at T2 and do nothing. Sethi’s installations blend ideas and forms so the overarching message is more in keeping with the plurality of India. So a series of temple pillars aren’t just artefacts, they set off a poster version of Raghu Rai’s iconic image of akhada wrestlers. “The problem with art in public spaces is that people expect it to be only decorative,” says Sethi. “They don’t probe. They don’t expect there to be layers. But it really doesn’t matter because we had fun doing it.”


Passengers are having fun too. Exports consultant MD Kishore says he reached the terminal an hour ahead of the prescribed time just so he could take a good look at T2 and it was the best part of his trip. “I’m no art connoisseur,” he admits. “But looking at the colours

MARCH 16, 2014


and the designs that are so distinctly Indian, it’s hard not to feel proud.” Writer and anthropologist Sonia Nazareth said the art made her want to linger longer. “I like how the diversity morphs into a seamless whole,” she says. For Sethi, it’s a culmination of a larger-than-life vision and many hours of sourcing, assembling, creating and praying for qualified contractors to realise his ideas. “Between vision and execution there has been only hallucination,” he says. “Thankfully I’m an excellent backseat driver!” Follow @GreaterBombay on Twitter

READY FOR TAKEOFF Breaking down the sheer volume of art at T2 n 44 lakh square feet of space over several levels n 7,000+ works of art, many of them especially commissioned for the terminal n Folk art from 27 states n Artefacts dating back to 6BCE n Incorporating the skills of 1,500 people across India n 100 restorers who worked on the older pieces that needed sprucing up n Assembled over four years


Treasure Island

Mauritius is clean, tourist-friendly, teeming with the familiar and yet foreign enough to be exotic

text and photos by Ashutosh Sapru


The sea – its colours and moods always varying – is an integral part of Mauritius


AST MARCH I visited Mauritius as part of an artists’ camp. We were there for four days, during which we had to come up with an artwork that would capture our interpretation of the island nation. I was excited at the prospect of participating in this camp and decided to maintain a little travel diary. Almost a year later, as I turned its crisp pages, I discovered that my earnest jottings had indeed started a day before we took off (there were details about a newly

purchased suitcase and even the flat tyre on the way to the airport) but ended abruptly, no sooner had the aircraft landed in Mauritius. I didn’t know Mauritius was named by the Dutch in the 16th century after Prince Maurice of Nassau. I was vaguely aware of the strong India connection (many, many Indians left to work in the sugar plantations of Mauritius in the early 19th century). I had looked it up on the atlas and it seemed to resemble a pair of thick lips, floating at an angle in the Indian Ocean, grazing the Tropic

of Capricorn. Nevertheless, the name with its slightly sweeping ‘shus’ sound suggested something so foreign and exotic that when we stepped out of the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport one humid afternoon and hopped into the cab driven by Satish, who spoke in fluent Hindi, and my cotravellers passed around some samosas from a local shop, I confess I felt a bit cheated. Travel pieces typically shouldn’t be written a year later. But when they are, it is easy to

distil the defining moments. In our four-day stay we stopped at all the touristy spots. The dormant Trou aux Cerfs volcano at Curepipe with its bird’s eye view of the rest of the island, the 33-feet high Shiva temple at Grand Bassin, the Chamarel Falls, the seven coloured earth… The last is one of those things that makes one’s jaw drop in wonder and at the same time despair as an artist. The seven-coloured earth is a geological formation – multicoloured sand dunes – at once simple and splendid. The



The Chamarel Falls (left), a portrait of Prince Maurice of Nassau, after whom Mauritus is named (above), the sevencoloured earth, a geological formation of multi-coloured sand dunes (above right), the 33-feet high Shiva temple Master Artist’s very own installation work. For all those who plan to take the kids along, this is a must-visit. Of course, if you thought you could let them gambol in the sand you were mistaken. There is a sort of wooden enclosure built around the red and blue and green glistening sands to prevent tourists from wandering into them. But you can buy little plastic test tubes filled with the rainbow sands. They are a source of amusement for children and when they tire of them you can use them for what they actually are, keychains. Walking around Charamel village in south western Mauritius that houses the coloured dunes, I bumped into vendors selling prettily sliced dragonfruit. As someone who is not much of a foodie, though the local fish curry was a winner, I greedily tucked into the ripe fruit bursting with flavours. And then of course there was the sea. Its colours, its moods, always varying. From a distance, walking along the beaches, turning the waters inside out scuba diving, I found my exotic Mauritius. And I couldn’t have enough of it. One time we took a motor boat

DID YOU KNOW? n Official languages spoken here are French, Bhojpuri, Creole, and English n Despite its extinction, the dodo remains Mauritius’ national animal. The cute little ugly bird is now available in the form of key chains and other mementos n To give tourists an idea about the history of sugarcane cultivation and plantation, there is a dedicated museum, L’Aventure du Sucre

to one of the islands locally known as the Ile aux Cerfs Island, or the deer island. There were no deer, but the ride, the island, the flavour of adventure was something the children around us seemed to be enjoying. Another time we went for an undersea walk. Yes, very Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, except that the diving instructor was a moustachioed six feet tall man. If you are not claustrophobic and have no fear of water, it is a safe and fascinating experience. The instructor had us hooked to a long cable which worked like a long leash, literally, and we walked around under water, eyes popping at the sight of all that lovely coral and marine life. At one point, the burly instructor thrust a white spongelike thing into our hands, which turned out to be a chunk of bread. I had barely got a grip on my piece, when thousands of tiny fish appeared out of nowhere for a quick nibble. They were quite harmless really, but I hate to admit the sight unnerved me. And that was the Mauritius I discovered and enjoyed. Neat, tidy, tourist-friendly and safe, teeming with the familiar and yet foreign enough.

MARCH 16, 2014





October 26




Jamnabai Narsee School; Mithibai College

FIRST BREAK HIGH POINT OF LOW POINT OF YOUR LIFE CURRENTLY I AM... When my six-feet-tall dog died Doing a small role in Anurag Patthar Ke Phool YOUR LIFE


The birth of my kids recently. He was adorable

Kashyap’s Bombay Velvet

If you weren’t an actress you would touch my heart. have been... Your fitness fundas. ...handIing my I eat healthy and don’t starve myself. own ad agency Who is your 3am friend? or some publishMy oldest friends Yasmin ing business. and Afifa. If you had the option to One rumour you would like to start. choose a film as your deThat I have lost 30 kilos. but, which one would it be? You have three minutes to pack, what I would still pick Patthar Ke do you take with you? Phool. A pair of jeans, five T-shirts, walkThe best thing about ing shoes, toothpaste and brush, Bollywood. deo, a lipstick and my phone. There are so many good THE TV ANCHOR Your strategy in a crisis. things about it that it’s Thinking “I’m a survivor and I will OR HOST YOU hard to put them into a few get out of this”. ADMIRE. words. Your dream destination. The hottest star in Bollywood. Kashmir. I keep going back Salman Khan. He has and there all the time. And my kids will always be the hottest also love it. actor. Your favourite street food? The newcomers in Bhel puri. Bollywood who you feel are very The biggest risk you have taken? talented. Agreeing to do the Bombay Velvet song. Both Sidharth Malhotra The last line of your autobiography would be… and Aditya Roy Kapur “She lived and let live.” are proving to be good actors. Action or romance, what excites you more? THE FILM YOU HAVE WATCHED MORE Romance. THAN FIVE TIMES. One piece of advice you would want to give today’s young actresses. Never do anything that you may have to regret later. THE MOST PAISA VASOOL FILM. A black sari or a black dress, which do you prefer? A black sari. Three skin care products you can’t do without. THE MOST OVERRATED FILM. I prefer using natural products like milk cream, almond oil, sandalwood and besan. Your favourite item number. THE FILM THAT WAS A PART OF I haven’t seen a good one reYOUR GROWING UP YEARS. cently, but I was quite happy with Main Chandigarh Di Star. The best thing about motherhood. The moments, getting a quick kiss or a hug THE FIRST FILM YOU SAW ON THE that can make your day and actually make BIG SCREEN. you realise what your parents did for you. What is the most touching thing your kids have done for you? — Interviewed by Veenu Singh There are many sudden things they do that

Kapil Sharma and Sailesh

my movies

Khel Khel Mein (1975) Andaz Apna Apna (1994)

Can’t think of any Avtaar (1983)

Surely, my dad’s movies


MARCH 16, 2014

Brunch 16 03 2014  

Hindustan Times

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