WEEKLY MAGAZINE, DECEMBER 16, 2012 Free with your copy of Hindustan Times
SANJOY NARAYAN Gods of guitar
SEEMA GOSWAMI Flashback attack
B R E A K FA S T O F C H A M P I O N S
Shoot me baby, one more time
Gagan Narang and Vijay Kumar took aim at every challenge to win Olympic medals for India. They might just be the country’s sharpest bachelors too! Meet them in BrunchQ
by Poonam Saxena
You’ll get by with a little help from our friends
hy do we take advice from celebrities? Well, since they’re so successful, we assume they must have cracked it. And they have – certainly better than you and me. In this issue, we’ve got some great advice from a whole lot of people who should know what they’re talking about. But
here’s the thing – advice is quite useless if you don’t follow it. It’s like those annoying friends who keep calling for relationship advice (everything is so awful, they don’t know what to do, help!) but then go ahead and do exactly what they want. So here’s my advice: just follow the advice!
by Rachel Lopez
Question of the year: should you Hobbit or drop it?
EXCLUSIVE PHOTO SHOOT BY ANIL CHAWALA
Should you give in to the hype about Peter Jackson’s latest? We present our case
Yes, the film is being shot on 48 frames per second (movies have been shot at 24 FPS since the dawn of cinema). No, the speed won’t make you vomit or have a seizure. The visuals are crisper and more realistic than you’ve ever seen – even the CGI is more convincing. However, for a movie about short people, it’s pretty long. The Hobbit clocks in at 2:40 minutes. And this prequel to The Lord Of The Rings is just the first part of a trilogy! Only six chapters of Toklein’s 19-chapter book. But on the other hand, it’s 10 minutes shorter than Jackson’s The Lord of The Rings – The Fellowship Of the Ring. And we know your bum fell asleep for that one. Then again, Fellowship was the first part of a 1,200-page book. The whole of Hobbit is barely 300 pages. If all three Hobbit movies are as long, you can actually read the book in less time! They’re using all that time to painfully depict everything... even smoke rings! Smoke rings!
This issue of BrunchQ is all about celebration and indulgences, perfect for winter. There’s Bollywood, fashion, art, food, alcohol and everything else you like about Brunch – only with more volume! Grab your copy already!
NOW ON STANDS.
LETTER OF THE WEEK!
Everybody reads Brunch
I JUST read the Your Money section in Brunch today. Your tips to hide money behind toilet flushes, refrigerators etc because goons and income tax people don’t look for it there – well, now they will. Don’t you think they might enjoy reading Brunch too, like the rest of us? :) — LAKSHMI R NAIR, via email Lakshmi wins a Flipkart voucher worth `2,500. Congrats!
Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins by Saudamini Jain
Our bucket list (in case December 22 never comes)
THE ARTICLE, Your Money – How To Make It, has been an eye opener for me. For nine years, I’ve been making decorative paper bags and envelopes as gifts for my friends. They always advised me to sell my products but I never took them seriously. Your article was the final boost for me!!! If others can do it then why not me? I’m beginning to learn “how to make it !!” — SUDHA MANGHI, via email Sorry guys! No more Flipkart vouchers for a while now. The contest will be open again in a month. Until then, just write to us anyway!
Techilicious is tech-ing a break
Rajiv Makhni will be back from next week. He’s off to celebrate his birthday and as per latest reports was partying somewhere on a remote island on the Malaysian coast EDITORIAL: Poonam Saxena (Editor), Aasheesh Sharma, Tavishi Paitandy Rastogi, Rachel Lopez, Mignonne Dsouza, Veenu Singh, Parul Khanna Tewari, Yashica Dutt, Amrah Ashraf, Saudamini Jain, Shreya Sethuraman, Manit Moorjani
DECEMBER 16, 2012
But at least the story is cool. A hairy-footed halfling Bilbo Baggins (and 13 other dwarves, plus good old Gandalf) embarks on a quest to wrest a priceless treasure from a dragon. Bilbo looks familiar? Arrey, he’s Watson on the BBC Sherlock! Speaking of which, his buddy Sherlock (aka the fantastic Benedict Cumberbatch) is in the movie too. He voices the dragon, Smaug. The second Hobbit film is titled The Desolation of Smaug, so more of him later. Meanwhile Benedict is also in the new Star Trek, out soon! Dwarves have had it bad this year. Both Snow White films were blah. That fellow from Game Of Thrones was getting screwed over too. It’s time for a little hero to shine! Hobbits don’t wear shoes. So don’t expect product placements for Converse or Nike in the Shire. Yay!
Money, money, money!
Cover image: ROHAN PINGLE Cover design: SWATI CHAKRABARTI
he world is going to end on the 21st this month. NASA disagrees. Governments across the world are dismissing the “rumours”. But the doomsayers insist it’s going to go kaput. The ancient Mayan calendar (the Mayans were a Central American community between 2000BC and 800AD) is coming to an end – a new one should start on the 22nd, but we’re keeping
DESIGN: Ashutosh Sapru (National Editor, Design), Monica Gupta, Swati Chakrabarti, Rakesh Kumar, Ashish Singh
our bases covered. We’re going to... ■ Sin, sin and sin ■ And then do something selfless and good. A kind deed goes a long way (to heaven). ■ Read up on all doomsday theories: Planet Nibiru is headed towards us, a meteor is going to destroy the Earth, Armageddon, a super Volcano... Just Google already! ■ December 21 is also World Orgasm Day. The idea being that every body’s ‘happy O’ put together will bring world peace. If we all contribute, the world may decide not to end after all! Drop us a line at: brunchletters@
hindustantimes.com or to 18-20 Kasturba Gandhi Marg, New Delhi 110001
The Thing About Husbands – A three-part series PART 3
The Man On A Holiday
Why he and I are temperamentincompatible while on vacation by Nirupama Subramanian
HERE IS nothing like a long vacation to put a marriage to the test, the ultimate survival test that makes all those people on LOST look like amateurs in a school fun fete. The husband and I are usually in alignment that we need a holiday, but that is about all we manage to agree on. During the early years, circa 1-5 B.C (Before Child), we could come to some consensus on our destination. Then the tests begin. When it comes to packing, I believe in the ‘just in case’ principle while he opts for a ‘one jeans fits all approach.’ We are also temperature incompatible. He insists
that a light jacket is enough but I need to be fitted for snowstorms. I remember heeding his advice during one of our mountain holidays. oon, the hills were alive with S the sound of my teeth chattering in the cold. I couldn’t hear any
of the sweet nothings he may have whispered through the blanket, razai and muffler I’d wrapped around me. It was only after I suggested that he leave his laptop and camera behind to reduce the load that he agreed on separate suitcases for all our trips. I like a bit of spontaneity in our vacations. Not reckless spontane-
DECEMBER 16, 2012
ity like, ‘Let’s land there and see if they give us a visa and a hotel room’ but the ‘Why don’t we figure out what we want to do when we get there?’ kind. The husband likes to prepare an Excel spreadsheet with dates, times, important places to visit, duration of each visit, activities to do and people to meet. Every minute is accounted for, everything is neatly planned, every day is crammed full of things to do. When we are abroad, say Madrid/Rome/London/New York, our days look similar. We get up early in the morning and head to the nearest Hop-On-Hop-Off bus stop. We spend the day hopping on and off from one attraction to another, grabbing a packet of chips or a sandwich in between. In the evening, we stagger back to the hotel and fall asleep. Wake up, rinse, repeat. time spent at each attraction or Trankshetourist spot depends on how it on the photogenic scale. The husband is a keen photographer who believes that holidays are actually great photo opportunities in disguise. I like gazing at historical monuments, lingering in museums and taking in
the surroundings slowly, while he stays hidden behind a huge lens lurking in some nook trying to get that perfect shot. The perfect shots are usually of pigeons in various stages of flight, flowers in various stages of growth, surly wrinkled old people in various stages of chewing food, the sun in various stages of rising and setting, insects, windows, doors, and abstract patterns made by light and shade on walls. e believes that H spectacles of natural beauty or art are
rying about the lunch menu and the cleanliness of the rooms. The husband is more adventurous. If we are not spending most of the day on a Hop-Off-Hop-On bus, we must stay at off-beat, ‘interesting’ places. Once he was enamoured by the promise of ‘a picturesque cottage in the forest that would take us back to the lap of Mother Nature’. At the wildlife sanctuary, we were definitely taken back to Mother Nature – about a million years back. At night, strange noises straight out of Jurassic Park echoed through the darkness and mosquitoes the size of pterodactyls attacked us from all sides. We were unable to sleep and the next morning, we dozed our way through the safari, missing all the animal sightings.
I like a bit of spontaneity in vacations. He likes to prepare an excel spreadsheet
spoiled by the addition of family members in the frame. I have to beg for a picture just so that I can recall that I had been to the Leaning Tower/ Buckingham Palace/Taj Mahal/ Khajuraho temples. The memories of the holiday are a vague, dim blur. Holidays, I believe, are occasions to pamper the body and soul. My idea of a good time is to relax in a luxurious resort. I like lounging on a hammock with a book, without wor-
was feeling exhausted after our Imoaned last holiday. “I need a break,” I to my friend. “You are lucky you had a vacation,” she grumbled.
“My husband either wants to go to his parents’ house or stay at home.” “That must be relaxing as well,” I offered. “Relaxing? He demands food at odd hours, makes a mess of the house, monopolises the TV and invites relatives who need to be fed and entertained. I wish we could go somewhere, anywhere and see something apart from the walls of our house. I am running away to my parents’ house for the next holiday. You are lucky that your husband is so enthusiastic.” She looked enviously at me. I figured that I at least get to see new places, meet some interesting people and even lose weight after our holidays. Now, our daughter is training him to find photo opportunities in amusement parks and zoos while I lounge in the hotel, reading a book by the pool. We are slowly getting the hang of having a great family holiday. Subramanian is the author of Keep The Change and Intermission and a professional facilitator in the area of leadership, change management and communication. After 17 years of marriage, she has realised that her efforts to change and coach her husband have had little effect
“A perpetual holiday is a good working definition of hell” – George Bernard Shaw
Acclaimed actress, the Khandala girl and bona fide Bollywood bombshell
look in a film. I was panned for wearBeing in the public eye is no picnic. ing a ‘nightie’ gown to Karan Johar’s You have to always look good, smile, party. Sure, it may have looked like a behave, put your best foot forward. nightie. But hello, can I please also You have to be just perfect every have a bad day? There are days when single time. For stars, it’s an occupayou’ll look or feel bloated, when tional hazard, but anyone, in any you’re just not in the mood to wear a profession can feel that pressure. perfectly fitted gown. So what? You I learnt to deal with it on the job. If decide what you want to wear. Your the brooding and the negativity gets spectacular could be someone else’s too much, disconnect hideous. But I say, go with your immediately. The spectacular! You decide minute I start feeling low, I bake wonderful what you want ON FINDING PRIVACY says actors can’t have cakes that everyone to wear. Your Who a private life? Maybe it is a loves to eat. They bust spectacular little messy to walk down my stress and get me Linking Road, but it isn’t compliments. You could could be to catch a private take a holiday. Or try Life is someone else’s difficult dinner or an evening out. pottery. Or just read a short. Too hideous. I say, The trick is not to book, or catch a film. But announce it to the world. do something that is short to go with your I go out with family, unrelated to your stress. climb every spectacular! friends or whoever. I just ON DEALING WITH make sure I am not telling mountain, ADULATION AND CRITICISM the world where and when I’m going. reinvent Somewhere, some time someone will every wheel be saying or writing something that’s ON LIVING YOUR DREAM not going to be nice. Pay no heed. Everything has a silver lining... No and make Every time I read a rumour or a bad it’s not just something people say. I every mistake thing about me, I let it pass. It’s posbelieve in it firmly. My first film sible that the person was expected to flopped badly. For all practical yourself. So write a negative story. Should they purposes, I should have been written why waste time have checked? Of course. Should off. But both Aamir and Shah Rukh when those who they have been a little sensitive? Ab- saw some trailer or some song of the solutely. But they didn’t. Does it film and recommended me to their did it their way hurt? Sure it does. But should you let directors, Vikram Bhatt for Ghulam it affect you? No. Remember: the fact and Karan Johar for Kuch Kuch and did it well that they are saying things about you Hota Hai. Chance? Could be, but it show us how to gave me a huge belief in positivity. means you are important to them. Everything has a good side. Believe You cannot, cannot please everydo it too. in it and you’ll believe in yourself. But body all the time. And no one really Presenting... be secure – you can’t hold on to the wants to hear your defence. crown forever. Everything I do is scrutinised – from the dress I wear at a party to how I – TAVISHI PAITANDY RASTOGI SMILING WIDE, EVEN ON A BAD DAY
One half of acclaimed designer team Abraham & Thakore
ON blending Indian with international
Look around you, work with what is around you, speak in the language you are most comfortable in, and don’t try to be something you cannot be – this forms the foundation of our design philosophy. In real terms, this translates into working with traditional handloom weaves but simplifying them to reflect contemporary times. Or in developing a block print or an embroidery pattern that draws from an Indian tradition yet expresses it in a clean and modern way to reflect our contemporary requirements. – VEENU SINGH Photos: THINKSTOCK
DECEMBER 16, 2012
Photo: SUNIL KANDHARE
Vice chairman at Dabur India
ON what customers want
INFORMALITY: Many of our customers are in their teens. So, engaging them at social networking sites makes sense. We asked for mocktails and cocktail recipes on Facebook. The response was enormous. FAMILIARITY: Engage them where they chill. We set up buyer points and stalls at malls, movies and restaurants they frequent, so they could try out new products and purchase what hooked them. SOMEONE WHO’S PAYING ATTENTION: When we began establishing new fruit juice categories, we realised our breakfast habits are different from those abroad. A majority of us, for instance, want their orange juice sweeter. So, we brought out Real, which is sweeter than our Active range for the fitness conscious. LOCAL FLAVOUR: Our packaged coconut water and pomegranate juice is a hit only in India. We are even contemplating a Kokum-based concoction. SMART PRICING: Indian buyers are one of the most value-conscious in the world. No Indian CEO can forget this thumb rule: We will buy products only when we see value being accorded to us. – AASHEESH SHARMA
TH SUHEL Sr, E th au or te Master marke t town and man abou
the ON being in all once at es right plac
e day, you just At the end of th That’s what le. op pe e gotta lov want to go out will make you , talk to them, and meet them d remember engage them an a fool of ake m n’t Do . em th mouring for inyourself by cla about the ag br n’t Do vites. to. Don’t en be e u’v places yo ested in er int Be . name-drop ’re doing ey th at people, in wh es them tick. and what mak ts them to That’s what ge and u yo r be em rem . invite you back Z – RACHEL LOPE
SUSHANT SINGH Actor and one-time penniless struggler
ON making every rupee count
Work hard and don’t be lazy. It’s old advice. But it’s the only way to keep money flowing. Be prudent. Your money has to last a whole month. Leave frivolous purchases for the end of the month, not the start. Spend on your needs, not your wants because wants are never ending. Today you’ll want an iPad2, tomorrow, something else. Need, not greed, should be your motto. It is also important to check where you spend most your money and on whom. Fuel? Restaurants? Girlfriend? Trim accordingly. Remember that the only way to make every rupee count is by not counting them at all. If you run after money, you’ll always lose the race. So, stop now. – AMRAH ASHRAF
INVESTMENTS CAN BE TRICKY. IF YOU’RE CLUELESS (LIKE I AM), GET AN ADVISOR TO STEER YOU RIGHT. DECEMBER 16, 2012
ROHAN JOSHI people of different mindsets. Stand-up comedian and man Some players like Munaf with 28,000 Twitter followers Patel or our KKR coach ON making a noise with Vijay Dahiya have strange ON learning from but interesting way of look140 characters every defeat -People on the Net like honest ing at tight situations. opinions, mostly because it’s I flunked in Class X. It Once you listen to how one of the few places where was terrible. I was quite a they summarise the you can get one that was not dude because of cricket situation, it’s amazing. paid for (THIS ARTICLE SPONand all of a sudden, the At the workplace, you SORED BY LUX! THE #1 BABY OIL!) bubble burst. That’s need people who are when my mom told me good stress-absorbers. -So have an opinion. State it honestly, eloquently, and in a that it is not how you And you can’t ignore voice that’s yours. start but how you finish. clear, clever and consistent -Dnt typ lyk dis. Don’t retweet It was my first big lesson: practice. There is no shortcompliments. Be open to one failure doesn’t mean cut to the top. Virender conversation, to debate, to atthat the game is over; it Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh tack. Don’t be afraid to defend is just a point lost. And are among the most talyourself. The Internet’s full of bullies, but like all bullies, they none of the failures ented cricketers but they have no idea what to do when means it is The End, it is don’t just turn up and hit you fight back with logic. a learning curve. God those huge sixes. They – SAUDAMINI JAIN has his way of developwork bloody hard. When ing an individual and I practising, even Sachin feel failure is part of the Tendulkar is working on a process. specific area – his stance, I cannot emphasise backlift or just leaving a enough the importance of lot of balls outside the off different characters in a team stump. Most failures can be game. You have to have avoided by good practice. At the very least, it makes you confident that you have prepared well.
– AASHEESH SHARMA Actress, model, host, breathtaking beauty, brand ambassador for Rado, social activist, and proud cancer survivor
ON staring disease in the face and laughing
ON a gei ng gr ac e
Actress and eternal beauty
look for a purpose during those difficult times. I found mine in spreading awareness about ACCEPT YOUR AGE: cancer all over the world by With age, you grow as a perLiving with a disease or even speaking about it and supportson, so learn to understand yourself. accepting that you are suffering ing cancer research. SAY NO TO BLACK: Don’t dye your hair. from one is very personal. But if I’m cured now. But I don’t When you’re 70, everyone knows you’re grey, so why hide it? Let it be. It’s more graceful. you are honest about it and have forget that living with ACT YOUR AGE: Don’t try to look younger than a sense of humour then your discancer has made me a you are – even if you’re not an actor. ease, however serious, starts calmer, more centered and KEEP IT CLEAN: Don’t use makeup when it isn’t looking less grim. It’s how I overgrateful person. Today, I needed. I still don’t use anything but kajal, came multiple myeloma (a candon’t take anything for unless I’m shooting or have a big event. cer of the white blood cells). granted and I have learnt BE CALM: Yoga, walks and meditation From the time I was told about to appreciate every help a lot. I’ve been doing them for years. If you’re calm from within, my condition, I was honest about moment of joy. it always shows it, not just to myself, but to othI met my spouse after geters. I spoke openly about it and ting cured, yet, his wedding in return I got immense support vows said, “Even if you lose from friends and strangers alike. your long gorgeous hair, I When you accept your disease, will still love you”. I still feel it gives you a more positive that you shouldn’t have attitude and the ability to find a expectations from anyone. MOISTURISE: It helps, every season. greater purpose in life. Instead of Don’t give the power of STAY HAPPY: Happiness is the key to beauty. If you’re content mentally and a ‘Why me?’ state of mind, you your life to anyone. Believe emotionally, you’ll stay beautiful no look at life as a learning experiin yourself. matter how old you are. ence, an adventure. Lastly, prevention is – SHALVI MANGAOKAR Spend time with people who always better than cure. make you happy, do things you Get tested regularly, get always wanted to. Be like a child, a second opinion and eager to take life as it comes. consider every option. Laugh your worries away and – VEENU SINGH DECEMBER 16, 2012
mind can suddenly stop working when you reach home. Work is the most interesting R BALKI AND part of your life, what’s wrong with that? If your holiday is more GAURI SHINDE interesting, then obviously you Filmmakers don’t discuss work. But if you’re discussing work on a holiday, ON being married accept it. Accept whatever is to someone in the more interesting. A lot of couples meet at work, same profession and get together because of work. The same work cannot become BALKI evil and cannot come in the way I don’t think it is professional life of the relationship. versus personal life. It’s one life and whatever you’re doing, you SHINDE want to share that with your We rarely stop talking about partner. On English Vinglish, she work. It’s our passion. From the was working on the film, I on beginning, we’ve never oversome parts of production. My stepped the line. We’re both very work wasn’t hers. We suggest strong-headed. We discuss but things to each other but it’s not never interfere. interfering, because finally it’s When you’re required, be one person’s call. You may tell the around. Otherwise just do your person if you feel something is own thing. wrong, but the other person may If work is your common have a very good reason for doing passion, it’ll keep it going. what they’re doing. – SAUDAMINI JAIN The best rule to have is to not have any rules. Don’t follow these theories of let’s-leave-work-outside home. I can’t see how the
IIM grad who gave up a work placement to be a writer and is now a bestselling author
ON quitting the rat race to pursue your passion
It’s everyone’s duty to be the best in what they do. But it’s is important to know what you want to do. If this is still a big question, keep a daily record of one thing you loved doing that day. It could be something small – perhaps you felt good helping someone. And over time you may realise that helping people is what makes you happy.
Or set aside some time every day to sit silently and quieten your mind. You’ll be amazed at what your inner voice tells you when you actually listen.
Have a time-bound plan. Promise yourself that you will make the leap or resign from your current job or start a new
chapter of your life on a particular day. And then stick to it.
Keep some money to tide you over. Especially in the beginning. Especially if you’re breaking into a creative profession.
If your family is apprehensive, ask them for three years to prove yourself (even if this may not actually be your plan). But realise that there are a lot more opportunities, more places that will hire, more assignments today than in your parents’ time.
Don’t let naysayers pull you down. People come to me saying they want to try this or that profession and ask, “What is the DECEMBER 16, 2012
scope of it?” But no could have predicted the scope of writing when I decided to be a writer in 1993. No one knew how much would change in the industry and the Indian reader. If you’re intensely passionate about what you want to do, a path will open up. Don’t lose heart. Something, someone, somewhere will come forward and help.
Get over your fear of the unknown with perseverance and discipline. You’d have needed these traits even if you were at your old job, but this time around, there is no boss to blame and no company policy to criticise. If you’re still underperforming, it’s only be because of your inner drive.
Don’t expect success on the first day – but make sure you have had some growth in six months. Keep
positive and stay motivated. You have to believe that it is going to work out for you. It may not be a straight path, but success will eventually come.
Keep yourself involved in your dream. So you want to be an actor? It’s not going to happen overnight (and the Bollywood dream doesn’t come true for everyone, regardless of talent). But there will always be work – in TV, at workshops, in direction, in advertising. If you want to pursue music, set aside half your time for songwriting or composing. Use the rest to find work within the field – jingles, music lessons, whatever.
Do what you love to do; only then will you do everything with passion and it will fall into place. – RACHEL LOPEZ
Our attitude to truffles is changing. Now, they are all around us – in upmarket grocery shops, at weddings, parties, restaurants. But they’ll always be a luxury
Delhi’s truffle queen is Ritu Dalmia who championed truffles long before the deluxe hotels did
Photo: RAJ K RAJ
NE MEASURE of how quickly India is changing – in food and wine terms, at least – is our attitude to truffles. When I first wrote about truffles, most readers of Rude Food knew very little about them. They associated the term ‘truffle’ with those round chocolates and were not sure how it was pronounced. Was it ‘troofle’ or ‘truffle’? (It is, of course, the latter.) Now, just five or six years later, truffles are all around us. Upmarket grocery shops in our metropolitan cities sell bottled truffles and truffle sauces. Chefs reach for their bottles of truffle oil at the slightest provocation. Truffles are served at top weddings and parties. And restaurants import white truffles every autumn when the season begins in Italy. I’ve always been something of a truffle devotee. So, five years ago, I would go to Italian restaurants carrying my own truffles (and usually, a truffle slicer) so that I could grate them over eggs, pasta or risotto. Strictly speaking, the chefs would have been within their rights to refuse to let me eat my own truffles. But, in reality, most were so thrilled to see fresh white truffles, that nobody ever refused. (If I had asked to be able to use my own Kraft cheese, on the other hand, I’m sure they would have thrown me out.) But these days, you don’t need to take your own truffles. Let’s take the example of Travertino, the swish Italian restaurant at the Delhi Oberoi. Many years ago, when I first took a white truffle to the restaurant, the Italian chef was so delighted that he tried to devise a special truffle menu while the Indian chefs all lined up to smell and feel the truffle because they’d only read about fresh white truffles but had never actually seen them. Two weeks ago, the same Travertino was serving an elaborate truffle feast, supervised by a Michelin-starred chef from Italy, and the hotel’s own Soumya Goswami. The Oberoi chefs were shaving fresh white truffles on to thin, crispy pizzas at Threesixty, the all-day dining restaurant located next door to Travertino. Nobody thought of truffles as being such a big deal any longer. In fact, I think I’ve probably eaten more truffles in Delhi this season than I’ve ever eaten in my life. The Princess’s two parties for her husband’s birthday turned into truffle DECEMBER 16, 2012
IT’S TRUFFLE SEASON
fests as guests ate alarming quantities of the finest Piedmont truffles with pizza bianca, risotto, tagliolini or simply grated over fried eggs. The Princess was being extraordinarily generous. But even those of us who did not benefit from her largesse had many opportunities to eat truffles elsewhere. At Sevilla, the Mediterranean restaurant at Delhi’s Claridges (now back on the gastronomic map), I had a truffle dinner with the hotel’s general manager, Oliver Martin: baked eggs with white truffle, pasta with truffle and then finally, truffles freshly grated on Japanese wagyu. Nor was this a special treat for me: the truffles were on the Sevilla menu. Delhi’s truffle queen is Ritu Dalmia who championed truffles long before the deluxe hotels did. When Ritu first started importing truffles for her Diva restaurant, hotels were reluctant to invest in truffle menus arguing that a) it was too expensive and b) that Indians did not know what truffles were anyway. A rare exception was Delhi’s Hyatt Regency, but the one truffle dinner I went to at La Piazza at the beginning of the last decade featured a minimal quantity of truffle. Ritu, on the other hand, took the job of popularising truffles in India as though it was a crusade. She had been to a truffle fair in Alba and had struck up a friendship with a truffle hunter. So, rather than go through importers, she bought directly from the hunter. That way she had guaranteed quality and cut out the middle-man, thus shaving a quarter or so off the price. Consequently, she was able to charge relatively reasonable rates for truffles. She also offered an inducement. If you ordered your truffles with a bowl of pasta or risotto, she only charged for the truffles (which she sold at cost) and threw in the pasta and rice for free. Many people in Delhi ate their first white truffles
I would urge you to try the black truffles which are cheaper, pack a powerful punch, are versatile and have a longer season
SNIFF THEM OUT
Now there are many opportunities to eat truffles at places such as Sevilla, the Mediterranean restaurant (above) at Delhi’s Claridges which has truffles on the menu MADE TO ORDER
When I first took a white truffle to Travertino, the swish Italian restaurant at the Delhi Oberoi (left), the Italian chef was so delighted that he tried to devise a special truffle menu
BLACK, WHITE AND REVERED ALL OVER!
The black truffle of Perigord is the basic truffle of French cookery and the white is a condiment rather than a cooking ingredient at Diva thanks to Ritu’s missionary zeal. Ritu still imports truffles. She shaved some on a plate of ravioli for me at the Italian Cultural Centre where she runs the Café. But her main truffle outlet is the more formal main Diva restaurant where the faithful gather every winter for fresh white truffles. Moreover, she advises well-heeled clients on where in Italy to get their white truffles from for parties, banquets, weddings and the like. (There were fresh white truffles on the menu at Amitabh Bachchan’s 70th birthday party at which Ritu did some of the catering.) Ironically, the popularity of truffles in India has come at a time when prices are at an all-time high. Truffles are an agricultural product, heavily dependent on the weather. This year, because the rains were late, the crop has been poor and scarcity has driven prices up. Ritu buys her truffles at around 5,000 euro a kilo (versus 3,800 euro a kilo in previous years) and I suspect that hoteliers who go through agents pay even more. All this means that truffles are not cheap. But compared to other luxuries, they are not exorbitant. Let’s take the example of the Delhi Oberoi where a shaving of truffles on a plate of pasta (around three grams) will set you back R1,500. This seems like a lot till you realise that a single glass of the basic Moët et Chandon champagne at the same hotel costs R1,800. And champagne is relatively easy to come by, while truffles are rare, seasonal and truly special. (Ritu charges R480 per gram of white truffle but she still throws in the pasta/eggs/rice etc. into which the truffles are shaved for free.) If you are curious about truffles and want to try them, here are some basic facts. There are over 300 varieties of truffle but only three count for very much. The black truffle of Perigord is the basic truffle of French cookery because it stands up to heat and you can cook with it. This is a winter truffle but the season is quite long. The summer truffle is a relative of the black truffle (the sort of relationship that rosé has to red wine), but appears in summer. It has about one-fifth the aroma and flavour of the black truffle so you need to use lots of it. (But then, it is also much cheaper).
A TRUFFLE BIRTHDAY
The white truffle is the most expensive of all truffles (between three to five times the cost of the black) and is a condiment rather than a cooking ingredient because it cannot take heat and must be shaved raw on to your plate. This is currently the world’s most desirable truffle and the season is short: October to the end of December or early January. Most people recognise truffles by their aroma rather than their flavour (which is an acquired taste.) But like most aromas, (vanilla, rose, sandalwood etc.), the smell can be recreated in a lab from chemicals at a marginal cost. So, be careful of so-called truffle products (especially truffle oil) which have never been near a true truffle but consist of a cheap medium (oil, butter, mushroom paste, etc.) to which the chemical aroma of truffles is added. (Of course, there is also real truffle oil, flavoured with real truffles but 95 per cent of the stuff on the market is overpriced, chemical rubbish). In India – as in much of the world – white truffles are all the rage. But if you want to experiment with truffles then I would urge you to try the black variety as well. Black truffles are cheaper, pack a powerful punch, are versatile and have a longer season. No matter what you do, however, truffles will always be a luxury; the sort of thing you only indulge in very rarely. But that’s okay. All of us are entitled to a little luxury, now and then! DECEMBER 16, 2012
There were fresh white truffles on the menu at Amitabh Bachchan’s (below) 70th birthday party
Looking through a box of old pictures is sometimes the best way of bringing the past alive
One of the pictures in my treasure trove has me on the slopes of Machhu Pichhu in Peru
Old photographs have a way of effortlessly dredging up memories that we had thought lost forever
N ONE of my periodic fits of de-cluttering, I stumbled upon a box of old photographs tucked away at the back of my closet. I sat down to take a desultory look – and before I knew it, I was neck-deep in memories, and the clearout plan had been postponed to another day. There I was, in my Class II year-end picture, peering out suspiciously at the world from behind a mop of hair, perched safely three seats away from my class teacher, Mrs Murray, always an object of terrified fascination. I can still remember her orange lipstick, a shade I have never since seen, and how her short legs dangled under the desk, never quite reaching the floor. But while most of the faces of my fellow-students look vaguely familiar, I am hard put to match names to more than four of them. Never mind, I tell myself, that was a long time ago. Maybe I’ll have better luck with my Class XI photograph. And sure enough, the recognition factor goes up significantly. There’s my class teacher Malti Puri, who taught me that history wasn’t only about mugging up dates of important battles but about stirring stories of fleshand-blood characters who lived and breathed in her lessons – and for that I will always be grateful. (She also taught me that a sari could be sexy, as she dazzled us teenagers with her diaphanous chiffons worn with knotted blouses). And there are the giddy young girls I grew up with, scrubbed clean for the camera in their prim blue skirts and white blouses. Only three girls have been courageous enough to wear the sari uniform for the class photo, braving the inevitable ‘behenji’ jeers – but, sadly, I am not one of them. Yes, old photographs have a way of effortlessly transporting us back to the past, dredging up memories that we had thought lost forever. But far more importantly, they also provide a window into a world long gone. There’s an old black-and-white photo of mine, for instance, taken on a trip to Jammu when I was 11. It’s that mandatory shot that all tourists took in those days: wearing a pheran, a Kashmiri headscarf called the kalle daejj, tied turban-like around the head and fixed in place with loads of costume jewellery, and gazing soulfully slightly off-camera. But the picture, despite its undeniable corniness, resonates with me because I have only recently returned from Srinagar, where the kalle daejj seems to have disappeared off the streets and replaced by an Arabstyle black hijab. And therein, as they say, lies a story... But I am getting ahead of myself. My memory bank starts with a family portrait of my grandparents, seated on imposing armchairs, flanking my father (a teenager rigged out in his first three-piece suit,
complete with a flower in the lapel, and looking absurdly proud), with a massive expanse of lawn spread out behind them, fringed with immensely tall trees. But while the men are decked out in Western suits and ties, my grandmother is wearing a seedha-palla sari with a full-sleeved blouse. Clearly, in keeping with the double standards of the time, the Goswami family’s embrace of modernity did not extend to the ladies. And then, there’s the wedding portrait of my parents. My mother, all of 18, is lost in a voluminous salwar kameez, head covered with a gotabordered dupatta, weighed down with jewellery, almost trembling with nervous tension as she gazes apprehensively ahead. Her husband, whom she has never met before, is perched awkwardly on the arm of her chair, trying to look at ease, but failing spectacularly. They look like the strangers they are, pitchforked into matrimony by two sets of parents, and petrified of what lies before them. I can’t help but contrast this with the wedding picture of my mother-in-law, which occupies pride of place on her bedside table. It was taken by her husband, on her wedding day. She is a strong and confident 31-year-old, wearing a simple patola sari and a big bindi, holding a bunch of flowers and grinning delightedly into the camera held by her husband, with whom she has eloped to marry in a simple Hindu ceremony in Paris. This is a woman in control of her destiny; a choice that was denied to my own mother. Which makes me all the more grateful that she brought up my sister and me to make our own way in the world. It’s only because of that, that I now have a treasure trove of pictures to fill my memory box. Here I am on the slopes of Machhu Pichhu in Peru, part of President Narayanan’s press party, smiling gamely despite the asthma brought by the altitude. That’s me on the Wagah border, waiting for Prime Minister Vajpayee’s bus to trundle across. And then, there’s the photo I took of Aung San Suu Kyi on my first trip to Burma, perched on a stepladder on the boundary of her bungalow, with thousands of her followers across the fence hanging on to her every word. The memories flash by, frame after frame, and with each one, I am grateful for the life I was granted.
DECEMBER 16, 2012
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A GUITAR GOD AND A SHREDDER
THANK GOD FOR SINNERS
At 25, Ty Segall, has released five solo albums and plays with half a dozen other bands
but also in his singing style, which is not the conventional bluesman’s but that of an R&B or soul singer. And it is that combo – the guitar, which gives a contemporary tweak to traditional bluesrock, and the vocals – that makes him outstanding. I had heard some of Clark’s music off his earlier EPs, one of which was titled simply Gary Clark Jr and the other, Bright Lights, which is the title of a song that also features on Blak and Blu, but the new album is what will deservedly get him some mainstream mileage. PRODIGY HUES I’d say Blak and Blu is a great album to discover Clark, who began performing Clark and then take a journey backward to check out his back catOU DON’T realise how talented a guitarist and bluesman at 12, has played with the alogue of EPs and albums. Clark is a prodigy. He began performthe young Texan, Gary Clark Jr, is till you are into the who’s who of blues-rock ing at 12 and has played with the who’s who of blues-rock (Eric second song on his first major label album, Blak and Blu. Clapton, BB King, Sheryl Crow) and is slated to play at Clapton’s That’s when you see the way he can wield the axe. That’s also Guitarist Gary when you begin realising why many people comCrossroads Guitar Festival in New York City in April Clark Jr is 2013. That fest is going to be one to die for – the droolpare him to Jimi Hendrix. Clark can make his guiinducing line-up includes Albert Lee, the Allman tar scream and shriek and do things that take you reviving Brothers Band, Buddy Guy, BB King, John Scofield, back to the golden era of blues-based guitar rock. Robbie Robertson, Robert Randolph, Taj Mahal, Jeff He’s also one of the few contemporary African blues-based Beck, Keb Mo and many others. Back to Clark. On American blues guitarists to have created a riprock even as ple. Most of those in the new wave of great blues some of his recordings that precede Blak and Blu, Clark plays unaccompanied acoustic guitar and sings. guitarists have been white – at least my favourites Ty Segall is Check those out to see how hugely talented this young are (Joe Bonamassa, Derek Trucks, Kenny Wayne doing ‘saviour of the blues’ really is. Shepherd, Jack White, Dan Auerbach and so on). If Clark is reviving the blues, a young West Coast The second song on Clark’s new album that I something guitarist, Ty Segall, is doing similar things with a mentioned is called When My Train Pulls In and it ON TO THE MAJORS similar with an is a nearly eight-minute-long electric blues delight. The second song on Clark’s genre far removed from the blues-punk and garage rock. At 25, Segall, based in San Francisco, has Blak and Blu has many such gems but Clark, 28, new album, Blak and Blu, is a altogether released five solo albums and plays with half a dozen who is often described as the new saviour of the long electric blues delight different other bands. Segall is a shredder par excellence. blues, has not stuck to just one genre. On the 15 And a prolific one at that. In the past year alone, he has released songs on the deluxe version of the album, we see him move from genre three albums, the latest being Twins on which he plays every genre to genre: R&B and elements of hip-hop, the blues, of course, instrument himself. His music is influenced by early post-punk but also psychedelic rock and soul (production credits for Blak and garage punk bands such as Joy Division and The Stooges, and Blu include the names of THE JUKEBOX but what stands out are his extraordinary shredding abilities. I Dr Dre and Fiona Apple). t’s been nearly two weeks since iTunes watched a couple of videos of Segall live – with his band, includPerhaps because of its opened the doors of its music store to those ing the barefoot drummer, Emily Rose Epstein – and immediately mainstream debut, Blak and living in India and here’s the thing: it’s a great got hooked. I’d recommend checking out Segall and his band perBlu, is not as raw as Clark’s deal. I’ve been spending the past few forming Thank God For Sinners (off the Twins album) on the Conan earlier EPs and recordings, evenings hoarding tunes @ `12 a song (or less if you buy the whole album). I’m bingeing O’Brien show in October (link in the web version). After that, you many of them self- released. on Neil Young right now. I’d lost my copies of may want, as I did, to get all three of his 2012 releases – Twins, But even so, his genius is pretRust Never Sleeps (1979) and After The Gold Slaughterhouse and Hair. ty much in evidence right Rush (1970). I got nicely remastered versions of both. But what’s been on a continuum on To give feedback, stream or download the music mentioned in this column, go to through the album. Clark’s my player is his latest with the CrazyHorse http://blogs.hindustantimes.com/download-central, talent lies not only in the way Band, Psychedelic Pill. What an album! follow argus48 on Twitter he can make his guitar sound Photo: GETTY IMAGES
DECEMBER 16, 2012
MIND BODY SOUL SHIKHA SHARMA
THAT F WORD, AGAIN! Certain factors that hinder fertility can be easily overcome
Consumption of certain ERTILITY IS the result of the hormones, especially ones in dairy coming together of a number production (oxytocin, for instance, of factors and some of these is known to increase milk producare under our control. An important tion dramatically), growth horaspect of fertility is having a mones (such as booster healthy ovum and sperm shots to enhance the that is free from defects NOT GOOD ENOUGH size of chickens) and so that once concepToo much of junk food steroids (which help tion occurs, the meat grow quickly), resulting embryo robs the body of minerals have an extremely turns out to be and vitamins essential for harmful impact on healthy. the reproductive process the body, particularThere are some ly in women and chilcommon factors dren. which hinder fertility that can be easily PRESERVATIVES resolved. AND ADDITIVES The intake of food WEIGHT EXTREMES high on preservaBeing overweight or tives and being severely additives has underweight can gone up radiboth get in the cally in our way of fertility. metropolitan This is because cities. Such the hormones foods can create responsible inflammatory for making women reactions within fertile become deficient when a the body which can gradually harm woman is underweight, and the your reproductive system. When normal hormonal cycle is the body creates antigens to fight disrupted. This affects the regular such foreign substances, many a fertile process of reproductive time, they even attack and kill the organs. On the other hand, when sperm. one is overweight, the hormone The result is infertility. balance and production get unbalanced. Overproduction of certain hormones creates an THAT HEAVY BURDEN imbalance that affects the reproStress hampers the chances ductive system. UNHEALTHY FOOD Frequent consumption of junk food robs the body of natural minerals and vitamins such as Vitamin A, chromium, zinc, Vitamin E, Vitamin D, iron and folic acid, which are essential for the reproductive process. Also, having too many food items containing preservatives, chemical additives or artificial hormones can lead to health complications.
of fertility both in men as well as women
STRESS & OTHER SUSPECTS When the male partner is unusually stressed the chances of fertility being hampered are high. Even in women, chronic long-term stress can disrupt hormonal cycles and affect fertility. Along with stress, smoking and alcohol add to the deterioration of the reproductive system. People working and living in areas with very high radiation can also experience problems with fertility. Often, a low sperm count is the by-product of many such factors. To be continued ...
DECEMBER 16, 2012
Kunal Kapoor BIRTHDAY
October 18 (Libra)
Jamnabai Narsee, Mumbai
PLACE OF BIRTH Mumbai
LOW POINT OF HIGH POINT OF YOUR LIFE YOUR LIFE
There have been many high points in my life, but nothing specific
There was a script I strongly believed in, but nothing worked out ultimately
Launched Fiama Di Wills Men Collector’s Edition Pack, joined the Kurkure family
the other on it. If you weren’t an actor, you would have If you could jet-set to anywhere in the been... world, where would you go? Acting was the only passion I had I would take off from Earth and while growing up, so it couldn’t head to Jupiter or Mars. have been anything else. Who is your 3am friend? The sexiest actress in Sippy, who is a dear Bollywood? friend. Madhuri Dixit, because If you have five minutes she is an to pack, what all will you elegant dancer. take along? A director you’d give anything My dog. to work with? What will we find on Zoya [Akhtar] and your bedside table? Anurag [Kashyap]. A night lamp and Your favourite chicken dish. lots of books. Chicken Khurana. Your first crush? A skin care product you can’t I had a crush on a do without. ONE CLASSIC A good face wash. YOU WISH YOU girl when I was in class 11. A dessert that describes you. COULD HAVE You destress with? Jalebi. ACTED IN? I love to read A rumour you’d like to start. and write. Oh, that I am working in a One thing movie with Steven you want to Spielberg. I hope this change about rumour comes true! yourself. Which part of your body would you insure? Maybe my hair. And It has to be my knees. I would like to I would like to be a safeguard them for lot more organised. my old age. The last line of your Street food you love to eat. autobiography would Moong daal laddu with green read.. chutney and grated mooli. Been there done that. The gadget you can’t do without. It has to be my iPad. You will — Interviewed by Veenu Singh always find me doing something or
THE FILM YOU’VE WATCHED MORE THAN FIVE TIMES.
Lots of them, Sholay, Chupke Chupke, Gladiator. THE MOST PAISA VASOOL FILM?
Any film with Rajinikanth. A MOVIE THAT WAS A PART OF YOUR CHILDHOOD?
Chupke Chupke, Sholay. THE FIRST MOVIE YOU SAW ON THE BIG SCREEN?
Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron.
DECEMBER 16, 2012
Photo: RAAJESSH KASHYAP