WEEKLY MAGAZINE, AUGUST 19, 2012 Free with your copy of Hindustan Times
It pays to serve a vegetarian
Watch thy neighbour
Neneh Cherry, once more
W AT C H O U T F O R
inbox LETTER OF THE WEEK! Of understanding freedom THE DECADE of Tumult (The ’40s When We Were Young, August 12) is one of the finest articles I have read so far. The article emphasised on the sweetsour memories of 1940s. Despite all odds, four iconic heroes became the torch bearers of a devastated nation and showed rarest of the rare leadership abilities. This article conveyed in simple terms how four leaders made India ‘rise from the ashes of the phoenix’ and ignited a spark to make India, a free, stable, secular, democratic and united nation. Great job, team HT! — SHIKHA PANDEY, via email Shikha wins a Flipkart voucher worth `2,500. Congrats!
Our stalwarts and their ideals SHASHI THAROOR’S article (Total Recall, August 12) left me deeply contemplative: A glorious account of the four great leaders of our India. Their souls would want us to follow their lofty ideals, instead of just celebrating their selfless sacrifice made by those stalwarts. Thanking you, Brunch for transporting us to the most eventful decade of India. — BALASUBRAMANIUM S, via email
19.08.2012 LIKE, COMMENT, SHARE facebook.com/hindustantimesbrunch
Darshini Shah As a History student I am grateful to HT Brunch for highlighting our such a glorious and unforgettable freedom moment in 1947... Salomi Mahimkar I actually wait for Sunday not because it’s a holiday, but because I get my Brunch on Sunday!! Akshay Arolkar I like to read Brunch as it’s always refreshing and gives lot of information. Seema Goswami’s The Medium Is The Message made me think how insensitive our media is towards our own people
TWEET YOUR HEART OUT twitter.com/HTBrunch @royanuj Great article by @seemagoswami in HT Brunch. Thank God it’s not only me who thinks media in India is irresponsible!
@anaggh The medium is the message in @HTBrunch by @seemagoswami is a worthwhile read.
@awesm4 @HTBrunch Every page to treasure issue, full of emotions fm ’40s, must watch movies, pun in variety, fun in auto & travel plans, loved everything!
YOUR COVER story (The Decade of Tumult, August 12) is a true manifestation of India’s past. Our leaders saw diversity as a power that could be harnessed. India is now at a time where self-realisation has induced people to do something more than just demand. The tantalising desires are now going to be obliterated, the Utopian India is coming. — RITIKA CHOPRA, via email
@nashpd Total Recall in @HTBrunch... a nice read on the new Independent India... @rudrojit Brilliant, emotional, thoughtful article in HT Brunch by @ShashiTharoor @nimsaw Good to learn that my favourite vodka #Finlandia is featured in this week’s Rude Drink in HT #Brunch
Courageous legacy of our leaders
BRUNCH ON THE WEB
READING SHASHI Tharoor’s piece (Total Recall, August 12) brought about feelings intermingled with pride and pain, as the forties decade experienced both unity and division. It reminded me of my grandma’s Independence stories where our leaders did wonders. It was indeed India’s transition of destiny. — NISHA CHAUBE, via email
The best letter gets a Flipkart voucher worth R2,500!! The shopping voucher will reach the winner within seven to 10 working days. In case of any delays, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
AUGUST 19, 2012
@TrolledTeen @RajivMakhni Outlook with Windows 8 is like cherry on top of a Cake!
India awakes to life and freedom
THE ’40s was the tipping point in history, with Nehru’s ‘Tryst with Destiny’ a landmark oration, capturing the essence of the triumphant culmination of our freedom struggle against the British. Today, though we take our jawans on the border for granted, we cannot imagine how it can be without them. — SNEHA SHAH, via emai
@omar1618 If you want a treasure trove of Indian history, preserve the last 7 issues of @HTBrunch with you. The 7 part ‘Total Recall’ series is super.
@sandeep_baliv @RajivMakhni @HTBrunch Outlook is really cool, ease of access, loading bubbles too... cheers!
Triumphant culmination of struggle
Whose language is it anyway? The preferred lingua franca in Hindi movies today, is far from the polished Queen’s English (Read our Cover Story and you’ll be an expert). Our Hinterland thesaurus boasts of slangs used in the bylanes of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. To hone your skills, log on now!!
The Brunch Blogs This week, read One Bite At A Time by Mignonne Dsouza. Food, recipes and all that’s good to eat!
Small town India is now playing at a cinema near you. And it’s suddenly the new cool
The Wildings, critic Nilanjana Roy’s first novel, is set in the world of cats, birds and tigers
From uber conservative to ultra cool: Our attitude towards drinking has gone bottoms up
How motorbike touring across India has changed over the past few decades
Fashion Designer Neeta Lulla wants to open a design school
12 RUDE FOOD The future lies in the pursuit of vegetarians 14 DOWNLOAD CENTRAL Rediscover Neneh Cherry through The Cherry Thing
16 SPECTATOR Pallavi Purkayastha’s death is a chilling commentary on urban life -
TECHILICIOUS Rajiv Makhni’s column will be back next week. Next up: The tech behind London Olympics Cover Design: PRASHANT CHAUDHARY
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 DESIGN: Ashutosh Sapru (National Editor, Design), Monica Gupta, Swati Chakrabarti, Rakesh Kumar, Ashish Singh, Suhas Kale
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B R U N C H D AT E
‘Animals Are Much More Interesting Than Humans’
problem with the fiction. After marriage (to market analyst Devangshu Datta), we’ve been a two or three cat household. Now we have Tigrath and Bathsheba. Bathsheba arrived in a bucket and desperately needed a bath. She arrived after having a fight with a puddle which she clearly lost.
Books featuring animals are often allegorical. What was your metaphor?
Photo: ARIJIT SEN
The Wildings, critic Nilanjana Roy’s first novel, is set in the world of cats, birds and tigers. Where’s the twist in the tale? by Aasheesh Sharma
FTER CLOSE to two decades of brandishing her metaphorical claws on authors, literary critic Nilanjana Roy has decided to get her hands dirty with The Wildings, her first novel about a clan of cats who walk the alleys of Nizamuddin. At Amici, the Italian eatery in Khan Market, over Blue Mushroom pizza and Caffé Mocha, she insisted there was a lot human beings could learn from cats. Excerpts from the interview:
was the tyranny of freelance life. When you are producing column after column on a treadmill, there is no time to think about your own work. The other was that I didn’t feel I had that much to write about. I wrote a small story that was absolutely dire about this family in Kolkata and it was so very stiff and talcum-powdered. When I was 33, I began the chronicles of a cat for my nephew. I was very good at putting my writing away and not looking at it.
In predator parlance, what took you so long to draw first blood with fiction?
Why’ve you chosen a first novel with just animals as protagonists?
It was because I never saw myself as a writer. As far as I was concerned the job description in my head – whether I was in publishing or journalism – was of somebody who read books and got paid for it. I thought it was the biggest scam ever. In my early 30s, two things happened. One
They were so much more interesting than humans, they really were. Most of the research was done walking around Delhi and Bombay and other cities. Initially, when I spent time watching the cats and the cheels and the dogs, I thought their worlds were totally separated – the cheels had the
skies, the cats had their own world, the dogs had the parks. At some point I realised that they strongly intersect and how humans are fairly irrelevant to their world.
How and where did you develop your affinity for felines and books? I grew up in Delhi and Kolkata. My father was a government servant. There were books in the house always. We sometimes had to water the dal, but I don’t think there was a
FAMOUS FELINES Some glimpses of cats in literature ■ T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats has such memorable characters as Rum Tum Tugger, Skimbleshanks and Rumpleteazer, the really bad cat. And who can forgetMacavity, the cat that could levitate ■ Gray-Malkin was the witches’ cat in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth ■ The Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland had a maverick, philosophical outlook towards the world ■ PG Wodehouse once wrote: “The trouble with cats is that they’ve got no tact.”
“To err is human, to purr is feline” – Robert Byrne AUGUST 19, 2012
The Internet was a useful metaphor to explain something instinctive to cats. I’ve called it a status update. It came out from an actual moment when I was working at home on a column ignoring my cats. I had a strong sense I was being watched with some intensity by Tigrath, the large tomcat, sitting in a corner with his whiskers stretched out at me. Mara, the neat little cat, was sitting in another. They were looking at each other with an expression that said: ‘She’s dumb’. They were trying to be kind and include me in the conversation. I felt them say: ‘Humans are slightly disabled in this area.’ In the book, there’s this bit about a kitten afraid of the outside since there’s a sensory overdose. You can extrapolate it on anybody who has a fear of doing anything.
What can humans learn from cats?
Cooperation and tenderness for one. Certainly the concept of how to be a good predator, which humans aren’t. A lot of the book was also written against the background of censorship and free speech controversy. Cats stay in a restricted world where they are at the mercy of the kindness of humans that can be withdrawn. The way we treat animals is very much the way we treat anyone disenfranchised. I look at that and look at Delhi’s gated communities and ask what do we want to exclude? People who are poor, people who don’t belong, people who are different from us, and animals.
You are planning a trilogy. In the season of sequels – The Dark Knight Rises, Gangs of Wasseypur 2 – was it a decision driven by marketing ?
I am so happy to be compared to Gangs of Wasseypur (laughs). My publisher David (Davidar of Aleph Book Company) said I had put two books into one and that I had to separate them. About the trilogy, I don’t know whether it will go that far. It is up to the people to pick up another story about cats.
C OV E R STO RY
Forget Switzerland or Mumbai, the aspirations of small town India, playing at a cinema near you, are suddenly the new cool by Parul Khanna Tewari
HEN YOU close your eyes and think of celluloid romance, what do you imagine? Shah Rukh serenading Kajol in Punjab’s mustard fields and Switzerland’s peaks in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge? Or Manoj Bajpai ogling Reema Sen’s cleavage as she washes clothes at a hand-pump in Gangs of Wasseypur I? The latter could be far removed from our big-city reality, something Bollywood filmmakers have shied away from for a long time. Yet, as the new crop of films show, they’re no longer in the background of urban consciousness. The aspirations and imagery of small town India are being played out
on celluloid like never before. While Mumbai continues to be the filmmakers’ muse, the action has shifted to Delhi over the last few years. But now, the industry’s lens has zoomed even further inward. Shyam Benegal’s Welcome To Sajjanpur (2008) was set in a fictitious village in central India. Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs Of Wasseypur I and II is rooted in Dhanbad, Jharkhand. Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Paan Singh Tomar (2012) finds its hero in Chambal, Madhya Pradesh. Abhishek Chaubey’s Ishqiya (2010) sees much of its action in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh and Habib Faisal’s Ishaqzaade (2012) gives Almor (a fictitious village in
UP), its three hours of fame. The films may be set in the hinterland, but are nothing like the stereotypical village stories of old Bollywood – no village belles in short, ghera skirts; no tales of famine, and definitely no dancing on crushed glass. This time, the locations are real, the plots believable, the details authentic. It’s a world where the new idea of entertainment is Huma Qureshi telling Nawazuddin, “Permeeson to lo! Aise kaise touch karoge?” in small-town Hinglish. It’s changing the way the stories are being told, and larger cities appear
to be lapping it up. “We are tired of living our cinematic dreams abroad,” says author and film critic Anupama Chopra. “Filmmakers have explored the world, set stories and characters in New York and London and anywhere else fancy. This concept has done its time.”
SMALL TOWNS, BIG MONEY
So movies, with a rural semi-realistic setting, are giving the urban viewer something different. We’re finally waking up to the fact that there are villages outside of Punjab.
■ Director Anurag Kashyap made sure that a few establishing scenes of Gangs of Wasseypur I (below) and II were shot in Wasseypur and the rest in Benares (close to the real Wasseypur). ■ Real incidents inspired the films’ scripts. The character on whom Faisal Khan (played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui) is based, is still alive and kicking in Wasseypur.
■ Details in Gangs of Wasseypur II (above), such as Nawazuddin’s fascination with Amitabh Bachchan, Huma emulating Madhuri Dixit and Definite aping Salman Khan are typical of youngsters in Tier-III cities. ■ Dialogues and lyrics are kept as true to the local dialect as possible. Zeishan Quadri, born and brought up in Wasseypur, was responsible for bringing in most of the authentic flavour. Imaging: MONICA GUPTA
AUGUST 19, 2012
■ Unlike the glamourous Vyjayanthimala in Ganga Jamuna
(1961), Mahie Gill’s make-up in Paan Singh Tomar (left and below) made her look like any other village woman. Even while the shooting was on, the locals thought Gill was one of them, says Rucha Pathak of UTV. ■ Fido Sachin Lovalekar, the film’s costume designer, picked up saris for Mahie Gill (below, centre) from Dholpur, near Madhya Pradesh’s Chambal region
We are enjoying the stories even if what is depicted is far removed from what we have experienced in cities. And the box office proves this. “One of the first films we did that told the story of the hinterland India in a near-real setting was Welcome To Sajjanpur (2008), says Rucha Pathak, senior creative director at Disney UTV Studios. “It was Shyam Benegal’s biggest grosser.” Four years later, UTV, still cautious, released only limited prints of Paan Singh Tomar. It was only after the film started to pick up through wordof-mouth, that they released more prints, making the film a runaway hit. “Authenticity does appeal to people,” Pathak admits, explaining how the bulk of the revenue came first from big cities and then from smaller ones. “The former contributed to the success of the movie.” Pathak has an explanation: migration of people from little towns to the cities with whom these movies resonate. These are people who respond to a different kind of story. “They would not, even now, understand proms and live-ins. It’s a world they don’t know and a whole lot of it, they don’t even aspire for,” says Chopra. Adding, “Now, the film industry wants to cater to everyone. Everyone wants to get into the `100-crore club. They want to appeal to the person sitting in Dhanbad as well as Delhi. And reaching out to a wider audience is the key.” This explains the recent popularity of Bhojpuri cinema and why mainstream movies now happily include dialogues such as, “Tumhara pyaar, pyar; mera pyar sex,” (from Ishqiya) or risqué lyrics such as “I am
■ To make Paan Singh Tomar as close to reality as a movie can be, it was shot in the ravines of Chambal in Madhya Pradesh. ■ Paan Singh’s gang’s costumes were picked from the Chippi Tola market in Agra that sells used NCC uniforms. The clothes were rubbed with sandpaper and crushed and made dirty to make them look the way they did.
a hunter, she wants to see my gun,” (from Gangs Of Wasseypur 1). And it explains why young India – even the big city folks – is parroting them. The song Keh Ke Lunga, from Wasseypur, for example is as popular with radio jingles as it is with students ribbing their friends on the train.
tasies. “When I was making Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998), for me, the high point was having my actors wear brands like DKNY,” said Karan Johar on the NDTV show Picture This. “It was something I had aspired for while growing up and that is what reflected in my film,” added Johar. Dhulia agrees: “The ‘Bandra boys’ show AGENTS OF CHANGE what they’ve seen. The new filmmakOne reason for this ers from smaller towns shift in sensibilities is express what they’ve the new crop of experienced.” He adds directors, producers that Bollywood, like and scriptwriters that print and TV news, small town India is holds a mirror to socieimporting to Bollyty. “Smaller towns are wood. (See box on making newspaper directors from small headlines. Corruption, towns, Page 10). scams, murders, politi“Seventeen years ago, cal intrigue, even stoall the directors were ries of caste and love, over 50 years old and are emerging from TIGMANSHU DHULIA, so were the assistant smaller places. And filmmaker directors,” explains that’s why the shift, Chopra. “Now, anyone even in movies,” he who has a brilliant idea says. “So you have Shanghai (2012) can crack it. The new breed of telling a story of corruption in a small filmmakers is telling stories the only town, Gangs Of Wasseypur telling one way it knows it, changing the of revenge, Ishqiya of a lust language of cinema.” triangle and Ishaqzaade of caste It’s a departure from the blockpolitics and love. busters that filmmakers like Aditya Chopra have been putting out since DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (1995). “You have to be real, there is no other Those films told universal tales of way,” says Dhulia, explaining the romance and painted syrupy fansecret to successful small-town sto-
“Smaller towns are making headlines in newspapers. And that’s why the shift, even in movies”
rytelling. So important is authenticity for these directors, that at times, they defy urban logic. “Many people have asked me that even as everyone in the film is ageing, why doesn’t the person who sings in two voices also age?” says Kashyap about the Wasseypur films. “These small town singers care about their looks. They dye their hair regularly. If you look carefully below his eyes, you will see the wrinkles.” Also, the landscapes of these films would not feature a spiral staircase or a bungalow that would have cropped up in the older movies. Instead there are dilapidated houses on a busy street – recreated from childhood memories of the small town filmmaker himself. Of course, for every Gangs Of Wasseypur that strives to get a sense of realism, there is a Bol Bachchan that recreates a picture-perfect cosmetic village which could be anywhere in India. But we can’t ignore the shift.
LOCALE FLAVOUR EMERGES
It’s no fun recreating locations in studios, points out Dhulia. For this breed of filmmakers, everything should be as close to reality as possible. For Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster (2011), Dhulia could only find a haveli he liked in Gujarat. The problem was that the story was set in Uttar Pradesh. “I was worried about the local crowd that would be in the back-
“Violence is one of the most fun things to watch” – Quentin Tarantino (Holywood filmmaker) AUGUST 19, 2012
C OV E R STO RY
DIRECTORS FROM SMALL TOWNS
■ Peepli Live (left) was shot in Badwai, Bihar, to demonstrate the plight of a poor farmer, according to director Anusha Rizwi. ■ The roughly stitched crotch of Nathadas’ (left) pants is as real as they come
■ VISHAL BHARADWAJ: The filmmaker, composer, singer was born in Bijnor, raised in Meerut.
■ ANURAG KASHYAP: The filmmaker, born in Gorakhpur, grew up in Varanasi. ■ TIGMANSHU DHULIA: The writer, director, actor was brought up in Allahabad. ■ RAJ KUMAR GUPTA: The writer, director (No One Killed Jessica), comes from Hazaribagh in Bihar.
■ Vidya Balan made a statement, draped in sarees
■ ABHISHEK CHAUBEY: The Ishqiya director went to school in Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh
Maharashtra, close to Mumbai. The villagers could pass off as North Indians.
picked up from Meerut in Ishqiya (right)
■ The movie was shot in Wai, a small town in
■ KABEER KAUSHIK: Writer, director (Maximum) has grown up in Patna as well as Delhi. ■ RAJESH MAPUSKAR: The director of Ferrari Ki Sawaari was raised in Shrivardhan village, Maharashtra.
ground,” he recalls. “But because Baria was close to Madhya Pradesh, we found people walking around in the typical UP kurta pyjama.” To make Paan Singh Tomar authentic as possible, the crew shot in the ravines of Chambal and filmed a few parts in the cantonment area of Roorkee, Uttarakhand. The shoot was tough. The crew had to park their vanity vans two hours away from the set, at the edge of the ravine, and use smaller cars to travel back and forth. There was no power or bathrooms. “Mahie Gill would go where the other village women were going. It would rain at inordinate times,” recalls Pathak of UTV. Like any Prakash Jha film, which has been instrumental in putting Bihar on Bollywood’s map, Ishqiya was actually shot in Wai, Maharashtra. It is a small town located some 300 km from Mumbai that looks similar to a village in north India. For Ishqiya, cheaper, safer, more convenient Wai was passed off as Gorakhpur, UP. It looks more realistic than a set and “even the villagers have a close resemblance to those in north India,” says Ishqia director Abhishek Chaubey.
CHARACTERS GET REAL
For your film to be convincing as a small town tale, you can’t have a good-looking, polished, Mumbai boy dancing to songs in the background or filling up the dramatis personae.
■ Parts of Ishaqzaade (left), shot in Hardoi and
Lucknow, were passed off as Almor, a fictitious town in Uttar Pradesh, where the movie is set. ■ The protagonist couple speak in a mix of broken English and choicest Hindi abuses, which teenagers in small towns can relate to.
COSTUMES CUT TO THE CHASE Dhulia picked actors hailing from For Vidya Balan’s character in Ishqia, the northern India to play Paan Chaubey reportedly asked his cosSingh Tomar’s gang members. “One tume designer to pick polyester of the other characters, the leader sarees that looked pretty, yet were of another gang, was picked up from not something a girl in urban India Chambal itself. He is not a trained would wear. To make the women actor. In fact, he was helping us characters of Wasseypur look true to around the area and he proved character, Kashyap gave Richa brilliant in the film,” says Pathak. Chadda worn-out sweaters torn in Then, there are the little flourishsome places, and also gave Huma es that urban India might not recogQureshi salwar suits nise, but Tier III that indicated she towns and villages will was a Madhuri Dixit find familiar right fan and had emulated away. Launda nach, an her fashion sense in a obscene dance that way most fans copy the groom and his actors’ clothes in friends perform small town India. before a wedding, is as common in the hinterLINGO GOES COOL land as a bachelor And if the look is so party would be in painstakingly authenDelhi or Mumbai. ANUPAMA CHOPRA, tic, why wouldn’t the Loudspeaker annoauthor and film critic lines be too? Directors uncements about a have worked hard to wedding, an approachrecreate the mispronunciations, the ing enemy or something as banal as dialect, the colloquialisms and the a new soap brand are as common as quirky turns of phrase that are dead Twitter is in urban India, points out giveaways to the towns they are set Zeishan Quadri, actor and in. “Mera haath tujhe yaad kar kar ke scriptwriter for Gangs Of Wasseypur.
“Filmmakers today want to appeal to the person sitting in Dhanbad as well as Delhi”
thak gaya” Nawazuddin teases his wife in the typical Wasseypurish way. Contrast this with “You really hate me, na? And I love that,” that Saif tells Diana Penty in Cocktail and it becomes clear just how well two opposite realities of India are now unfolding on the Indian screen. Quadri, who has written the movie along with Anurag Kashyap and two others, has imparted local flavour with dialogues like “Yeh Wasseypur hai. Yahan kabootar bhi ek pankh se udta hai, aur dusre se apna ijjat bachata hai.” He is unapologetic about the profanities in the film. “Characters abuse each other all the time, even for fun. That’s the way friends there talk. We would not say to each other, ‘You want to go for coffee?”. We would rather say ‘B###### ke, chalna hai?”. So will this change the way Bollywood depicts the other India? Not necessarily, points out trade analyst Komal Nahta. “A Cocktail is still bringing in more money. It’s a passing trend as films are about good-looking people, places and larger-than-life aspirations. There will be exceptions. These films are just the vision of a few directors.” Wonder if the Wasseypur gang has any choice words in response? firstname.lastname@example.org
“I have strong feelings about gun control. If there is a gun around, I want to be controlling it.” – Actor Clint Eastwood in Pink Cadillac AUGUST 19, 2012
IN PURSUIT OF VEGETARIANISM
One sure-fire route to success in the food business in India is to aim for the vegetarians
FINGER ON THE PULSE
Few restaurateurs understand the taste of the Indian consumer as well as Jairam Banan does
HREE WEEKS ago, I went to the opening of Jairam Banan’s new Rajasthani restaurant, Shraman, at Delhi’s Ashok Hotel. These days, Rajasthani food has come to mean the cuisine of the Rajputs: Laal maans, various kinds of game dishes, etc. But there is also an entirely separate Rajasthani bania cuisine which is completely vegetarian. Jairam has hired Maharajs from all over Rajasthan and serves the kind of vegetarian food that I have previously only tasted in the homes of Marwari friends. I asked him why he had ventured so far from the south Indian food that is the mainstay of his Sagar-Swagath empire. Jairam’s response was interesting. He said that a high proportion of the guests at his Sagar restaurants were vegetarians. Usually, when non-vegetarian guests asked him to recommend somewhere else they could go, he sent them to Swagath for crab butter garlic and sookha mutton. But he had nowhere to send the vegetarians. So, he’d said to himself: Why not open a vegetarian restaurant that is fancier than Sagar or Sagar Ratna and serves a different kind of cuisine? That led to the foray into Rajasthani food. Few restaurateurs understand the taste of the Indian consumer as well as Jairam does. His view is that more and more vegetarians are joining the restaurant-going classes. Many of them are conservative and do not like sitting in restaurants where the guests at the next table are eating tandoori chicken. Some of them are apprehensive about eating food cooked in kitchens where meat dishes are also being prepared. And all vegetarians resent the fact that there are so few options open to them on many restaurant menus. There will be more purely vegetarian Rajasthani restaurants if the Delhi venture succeeds. But Jairam is also betting big on south Indian vegetarian food. His family is starting a second chain of Sagarlike restaurants and the first phase should see the roll-out of 40 or more outlets. These restaurants will serve the same sort of menu as Sagar. But they will be located in areas, markets and towns where the clientele may not want to pay Sagar prices. So, the average check will be between 25 per cent to 50 per cent lower than Sagar. Jairam says that the restaurants will still be profitable because the locations he has chosen are slightly more down-market and therefore low-rent.
AUGUST 19, 2012
Jairam is not the only one betting big on the emergence of the vegetarian diner. At the top end of the market, ITC is rolling out several pure vegetarian restaurants to be called Royal Vega. The first one will open in Madras at the new ITC hotel. And the chain will clone the concept at its other properties. The Taj Group is less keen on the pure vegetarian concept but the success of many of its restaurants depends on its ability to cater to vegetarians. For instance, the menu at Wasabi by Morimoto draws its inspiration from the great Japanese chef's recipes. But around 50 per cent of the menu consists of vegetarian dishes that have nothing to do with Morimoto or his recipes. Instead, they have been invented in Bombay by the Taj’s Hemant Oberoi. Similarly, the Souk restaurant in Bombay aims to serve food of the Middle-East but makes its money by offering vegetarian options to Bombay’s Gujaratis. A second Souk does the same thing for Calcutta’s Marwaris. In fact, the more you think about it, the clearer it becomes that one sure-fire route to success in the food business in India is to aim for the vegetarians. The most successful fast-food chains in India are those that cater to vegetarians by serving pizza. Even McDonald’s survives on the basis of vegetarian dishes invented for the Indian market because there is no call for Big Macs or Chicken McNuggets in this market. When McDonald’s first came to India, it put its faith in a mutton burger which it hoped would replicate the global success of the original beef hamburger. As it turned out, Indians had no interest in a goat burger. We were much happier with the channa tikki burger. The next big wave in Indian fast food and quick service restaurants will be places like Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks and Krispy Kreme. The appeal of these brands will lie in the vegetarian nature of their offerings. Places that depend on non-vegetarian items may do okay but they will never match the penetration of chains that are essentially vegetarian.
At some deep and primal level, even those Hindus who have been brought up as non-vegetarians are not entirely comfortable with the idea of eating animals
TASTES LIKE HOME
The new Rajasthani restaurant, Shraman (left), at Delhi’s Ashok Hotel, serves the kind of vegetarian food (above) that I have previously only tasted in the homes of Marwari friends
Why are vegetarian restaurants going to be the growth area in the coming years? I can see three broad reasons. The first one is self-evident: A high proportion of Indians are vegetarians. Secondly, as the economy grows many vegetarians whose conservative parents rarely went to restaurants are now eating out more often. They want places that cater to their needs. But there is also a third reason. In my view, most Hindus (and Hindus constitute the vast majority of restaurant goers in India) are non-vegetarian only up to a point. At some deep and primal level, even those Hindus who have been brought up as non-vegetarians are not entirely comfortable with the idea of eating animals. Let’s take some instances. Whenever I have told Hindu diners that a kakori kebab owes its tenderness to the kidney fat that is added to the mince, there has always been a slight revulsion in the responses that follow. I don’t think the fat is the problem – they would be fine if I said that the kebab was made from fat from the hind leg – but it is the kidney that causes the squeamishness. Similarly, whenever I have told people who are enjoying a plate of mixed charcuterie that along with the salami, speck and ham, there are also slices of tongue, the first reaction has been to steer clear of the tongue. This applies even to people who had previously enjoyed the tongue when they thought it was just another kind of ham or mortadella. So it is with most kinds of offal. Even confirmed non-vegetarians will think twice about eating goat liver. Only in a few parts of India will they consume brain. The idea of a whole pigs head, complete with brawn, so trendy in England and America these days,
SERVING IT TO TASTE
McDonald’s survives on the basis of vegetarian dishes invented for the Indian market as there is no call for Big Macs or Chicken McNuggets
is more likely to cause Indians to vomit than to be overcome by curiosity about its taste. Worse still is the reaction that follows the consumption of a misleadingly titled dish. In most parts of Europe, they eat a dark sausage that the English call black pudding (it is known by different names in other European countries). The sausage is slightly strong tasting but there is nothing particularly offensive about it. But the moment many Hindus discover that it gets its colour from the large quantities of animal blood used in its preparation, they start to feel sick. The same is true of sweetbreads, often used in stews in Europe. These are not especially nasty tasting but I don’t know of very many people who will order them when they realise that ‘sweetbread’ actually means the pancreas and other animal glands. We think that these are normal responses. But in fact, nonvegetarians in other countries are quite happy to eat all of these things. Forget about the Chinese who love chewing on pig intestines and treat chicken feet as a delicacy or Koreans who buy caterpillar cocoons as a roadside snack in the way that we would buy samosas or kachoris. Even in the West, most non-vegetarians would display no squeamishness about eating the things that revolt so many Indian Hindus. We may be put off by the idea of kidney fat but it has long been a vital ingredient in the Western bakery tradition. It is called suet and used along with butter to give a flakiness to pies and flans in Europe. (Why are French croissants and pies so much flakier than ours? Partly, it is about baking skill. But it is also about the European tendency to use lots of animal fat in the recipe.) When you tell Westerners that Indians turn pale at the thought of jelly being extracted from the hooves of dead animals, they look incredulous. And though no Westerner is shocked by this, Indians are always horrified to discover that most French cheeses are made by a process that involves the use of rennet, an enzyme extracted from the stomachs of dead cats. What makes us so squeamish? I concede that it is partly a Hindu thing. But I suspect that it might be a phenomenon restricted to Indian Hindus. In Nepal, the world’s only fully Hindu country, they have no hesitation in consuming a papad that is made from goat’s blood. Nor are they horrified when the drains run red at the Pashupati Nath temple with the blood of animals slaughtered as ritual sacrifices. So, I guess it’s just an Indian thing. Many, if not most, of us are vegetarians. And even those of us who do eat meat do not like to be reminded that it came from an animal which had a tongue, kidneys, a pancreas and other organs. It is an insight that the restaurant industry is now coming to terms with. In the pursuit of vegetarianism and vegetarian guests lies the future. And great profit. AUGUST 19, 2012
APPETISING? NOT REALLY
Whenever I have told Hindu diners that a kakori kebab owes its tenderness to the kidney fat that is added to the mince, there has always been a slight revulsion in the responses that follow
The most successful fast-food chains in India are those that cater to vegetarians by serving pizza
HEAR NO EVIL; SEE NO EVIL NO HELP!
Bleeding profusely, Pallavi Purkayastha ran out of her flat and is believed to have rung her neighbours’ bell. Nobody responded
The tragic death of Pallavi Purkayastha is a chilling commentary on urban life today
T’S A nightmare scenario that every woman replays ever so often in the dark corners of her brain – along with the fevered prayer that it never comes true. But for Pallavi Purkayastha, that nightmare became all too real when she was attacked and killed in her Mumbai apartment by a building watchman, Sajjad Ahmed Mughal, who had become obsessed with her. It was sometime after midnight when the lights went out in her flat; she called the building’s maintenance to complain. The electrician came upstairs to repair the fault, accompanied by the watchman. When the electrician had departed, the watchman saw his opportunity. He stole the house keys, waited for a while and then let himself in to attack Pallavi, who was by then asleep in her bedroom. He tried to rape her, she resisted; he attacked her with a knife, she fought back. He slashed her wrists and throat. Bleeding profusely, she ran out of her flat and rang her neighbours’ bell (there are four other flats on the floor; she is believed to have rung the bells outside at least two). Nobody responded. Her assailant dragged her back into her flat and continued to attack her. He then left Pallavi Purkayastha, a 25 year old lawyer with a bright and glittering future ahead of her – to bleed quietly to death. Her murder was reported only at 5.30 am when her partner, Avik Sengupta, came back home and found her lying in a pool of blood. I can only marvel at the bravery of this young woman who fought so doggedly against a man who was holding a knife to her throat. I can only salute the courage that led her to escape his clutches long enough to run out for help. And I can’t even begin to imagine the horror of fear and desperation her last moments must have been when nobody came to her rescue. And while we all mourn for Pallavi Purkayastha today, her death is much more than a personal tragedy for her parents, her soon-to-be husband, family and friends. It is also a chilling commentary on urban life today.
AUGUST 19, 2012
We revel in the anonymity that city life affords us, allowing us to do our own thing
It doesn’t matter how hard you try to stay safe. You can live in a gated community, you can have private security, you can install CCTV all around, you can have intercoms to summon help. But in the end, you are on your own. You can’t rely on the security guards who are supposed to safeguard you. And you certainly can’t hope for any help from the people next door. It has become something of a cliché now to complain about how neighbourly ties are breaking down in our metro cities, and how people are becoming increasingly anti-social. There is certainly no denying that everyone increasingly lives in isolated silos, not caring to even know the name of the person next door. We revel in the anonymity that city life affords us, allowing us to do our own thing. And while we all have stories about neighbours from hell (whose children deface our walls with graffiti; who throw garbage over their walls into our backyards; who lure our staff away; who play loud music late into the night), our choicest abuse is reserved for those who are perceived as being ‘nosey’ – as in taking an interest in your life. I have to confess that like most people of my generation, I have always been leery about neighbours who try to pry into my business. But today, as I sit down to write this, I can’t help but wish that Pallavi Purkayastha had been blessed with such ‘nosey’ neighbours, people who were curious enough to peep out when the bell rang late at night, and who would then take the trouble to investigate if anything was amiss. Instead, the people living on Pallavi’s floor seem to be part of the ‘let’s not get involved’ fraternity, who turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the goings-on next door, on the grounds that it is none of their business. But even so, I imagine it takes a special sort of indifference to not respond to a blood-splattered woman ringing your doorbell in the early hours of the morning; to turn away and go back to sleep even though the landing outside is soaked with blood; to not even pick up the phone and call the police control room or emergency services. We do not know whether Pallavi’s life could have been saved if her neighbours had intervened – if not personally then by summoning help – but at least she would have died knowing that she was not alone. The knowledge that there were people out there who cared enough to come to her rescue may have been of some comfort to her as life bled slowly out of her. And at the very least, if her neighbours had been vigilant enough – leave alone caring enough – they could have helped apprehend her attacker who dumped the murder weapon and fled the scene. It was a stroke of good luck that the police caught up with him at the train station before he boarded the train to Kashmir. But he could just as easily have gotten away – and that really does not bear thinking about. I can only hope and pray that those people who claim to have not heard the bell ringing in the dead of night never find themselves – or their children – in trouble. And that if they ever do, they are not met with the same indifference with which they treated that desperate, frightened young woman.
email@example.com. Follow Seema on Twitter at twitter.com/seemagoswami Photo: THINKSTOCK
Neneh Cherry’s new album is a joint venture between the trip-hop singer and a free jazz trio
IN THE LAP OF A LEGEND
At the age of 4, Neneh Cherry had the rare experience of sitting in the lap of Miles Davis backstage Photo: GETTY IMAGES
N THE LATE eighties when Neneh Cherry first burst onto the scene with her album, Raw Like Sushi, and won two Brit awards, she promptly melted one of them and got it crafted into jewellery, some of which she gifted to other nominees in the categories she won the award for. Raw Like Sushi showcased the then still incipient trend of hip-hop and rap but with an infusion of electronica, a genre that earned it the label trip-hop. The tracks on that debut album, including two major hits, Buffalo Stance and Manchild, brought her instant fame. And, more important than that, an enviably cool image. Besides the upbeat danceable tempo, Raw Like Sushi’s songs had lyrics that told stories. The album began with Buffalo Stance, a big, big tune with lyrics and a beat that instantly hooks you: Who’s that gigolo on the street/ With his hands in his pockets and his crocodile feet/ Hanging off the curb, looking all disturbed/ At the boys from home. They all came running/ They were making noise, manhandling toys/ That’s the girls on the block with the nasty curls/Wearing padded bras
THE CHERRY THING YOU DO
ad he been alive, on August 1, Jerry Garcia would have turned 70. Ironically, August 9 marked his 17th death anniversary. But the hugely influential lead guitarist, singer and, some would say, leader of the Grateful Dead, had several other projects going alongside – solo albums, the Jerry Garcia Band, collaborations with other musicians and so on. To mark his 70th birth anniversary, here’s a set of nuggets that you can download: http://dropcanvas.com/l9fga. Free, of course.
The free jazz trio The Thing get along perfectly with the trip-hop singing Neneh Cherry on The Cherry Thing
free jazz trio called The Thing, which is, not coincidentally, the name of a tune by early free jazz cornetist, Don Cherry. Here’s the other thing: Don Cherry was Neneh’s stepfather with whom she spent much of her formative years – years when she had rare experiences of, at age 4, sitting on the lap of Miles sucking beers Davis backstage or having saxophonist (and violinist and trumthrough straws/ peter) Ornette Coleman as a close family friend. Later, she launched Dropping down their herself as a punk singer and dabbled in reggae as well. drawers, where did you When I first heard of The Cherry Thing as a joint venture between get yours? On Manchild, a ballad she co-wrote with the a trip-hop singer and a free jazz trio, I was prepared to hear someBritish trip-hop band, thing that would either be pretentious or abstract (as free jazz can Massive Attack’s 3D, she often be) or an outright mess of two rather disparate genres. In pushes the melody to create fact, the album is just the opposite of either of those. The trio – a unexpected and quirky saxophonist, a double bassist and a drummer – and Cherry sonimeanderings. On Inna City cally get along perfectly. Her versatile vocals and Mats Gustafsson’s Mamma, she sings about New York and rebellious sax complement each other – they wrestle its “cold blooded ways”. and fight and then make up – and, in the end, produce Nearly a quarter of a cenan unexpectedly delightful album. Many of the tunes tury after Raw Like Sushi first on The Cherry Thing are covers – including an Ornette came out, got feted and made a Coleman tune, a Don Cherry composition, and a cover star out of Cherry, I heard of a song by hip-hop group, Madvillain. The Cherry Thing did two things for me. First, it the album again last week. And made me rediscover Neneh Cherry whose music I’d not only is it still raw like sushi but heard (casually, I must admit) years back. And secfresh as if it was made, like, yesond, it gave me an opportunity to dip my ears in free terday. True, there are some jazz, something I hadn’t done in years. Even if the straight rap tunes that seem a bit abstract form of free jazz daunts you, The Cherry outdated but the rest of it and the HOP TRIPPING Thing is such a good blend of great pop singing with overall effect is quite suitable for an Raw Like Sushi demoed hipupbeat-ish listening session anytime hop and rap with electronica, a a radically wild jazz ensemble that it could lead you you want. And if you want to dance, genre that got it labelled trip-hop to explore the seemingly more impenetrable music of free jazz pioneers such as Cherry and Coleman, you couldn’t ask for anything better.. of course, but also of jazz artists such as John Coltrane, Charles The real reason why I was listening to Raw Like Sushi was because I was going backwards. Sixteen Mingus, Miles Davis and many, many more. The Cherry Thing is a years after Cherry released her third solo album, Man good stepping stone if you want to explore jazz. It doesn’t hurt that (1996), she has burst back on the scene again this year. it comes with a great singer such as Neneh Cherry too. This time with a genre-bending new album, The Cherry To give feedback, stream or download the music mentioned in this column, go to Thing, which is a collaboration with a Swedish-Norwegian http://blogs.hindustantimes.com/download-central, follow argus48 on Twitter AUGUST 19, 2012
In Defence Of My Drink Alcohol: Everybody’s drinking it, those who aren’t are criticising it. Pour some scotch or a glass of wine, let’s discuss this by Saudamini Jain
COUPLE OF pints of beer after a gruelling day at work; the aroma of vanilla wafting from a peg of Old Monk at your favourite bar; vodka and cranberry at that crazy college party; bright lights, a dance floor and absinthe; scotch-induced stories about the Kargil war from a retired army officer; Saturday night, your light o’ love, candles, blues and red wine. Alcohol is romantic, electric and so liberating, all at the same time. Today, the Indian market is one of the fastest growing alcohol markets in the world, and notwithstanding advocates of prohibition and hockey stick wielding cops, we are drinking like never before (see box, page 17). The alcohol sector in India mushroomed by 12 per cent between 2004 and 2009, says a KPMG report. In the last year (2011-12), Delhi consumed 105.54 lakh cases of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) – a big jump from the 70.85 lakh cases in 2007-08. More than 90 liquor licences have been issued to restaurants (excluding those in five-star hotels) in the city since April 2011. Mumbai leaped from 228 lakh litres of IMFL in 2004-05 to 347 lakh litres in 2010-11. The big change isn’t that people
are drinking more, but that they’re doing it in the open. Sommelier Magandeep Singh says, “Earlier, drinking was a shameful activity, it was more, ‘behind the shaadi ka tent.’” Today, however, everyone’s under the tent, raising a glass to the bride and groom (there was even a well-stocked bar at my niece’s sixth birthday party in Jaipur!).
A HISTORY OF DESI TIPPLERS
Now, liquor isn’t exactly an alien concept to us. Sura, the ancient Indian alcohol drink, was supposedly one of Indra’s favourites. In the International Handbook on Alcohol and Culture edited by anthropologist Dwight B Heath, Davinder Mohan and HK Sharma write that the Kshatriyas drank it, as did Dravidians in the toddy-tapping south India. Wine was a part of the culture at the Mughal court. Jehangir was excessively fond of his drink. But mostly, social drinking is a western concept. In the early 1800s, the British set up a brewery within the country – to cut down import costs. The opening of the Indian Civil Services to Indians (in 1861), write Mohan and Sharma, got some of them acquainted with alcohol. By the end of World War II, added to this AUGUST 19, 2012
small group of social drinkers were the military men who could buy subsidised alcohol from the armed forces’ canteens. After Independence in 1947, perhaps influenced by the nationalists, ‘under the influence’ came to have a sober connotation with the Directive Principles of the Indian Constitution directing the State to “endeavour to bring about Prohibition.” That sentiment was forgotten by the ’60s but even so, for many, sharaab was shameful. In cinema, it was for the villain or the brokenhearted. Off screen, it was for Punjabis, Parsis, Christians, the army men, Leftists and the foreign-educated. As recent as two decades ago, watering holes were few and far between in Delhi. “You had to go to the Gymkhana club or the Press Club, or that one place in Connaught Place to drink,” recalls sommelier Singh. But Mumbai, even before Independence, was different. Rafique Baghdadi, Mumbai-based journalist and local historian, says, “It was a
hub of cinema, military, advertising. People were very rich, they adopted the culture of the British. The Parsis, for instance, were doing business with them and had to be agreeable with English society.” Even during the Prohibition days (from 1950 to 1963 courtesy then Home Minister Morarji Desai), Mumbai guzzled away to glory much like the ‘dry-as-a-bone’ Gujarat of today. “There was Pascal in Santa Cruz. Everybody in cinema would say, ‘chalo, Pascal mein daaru peena hain’. The city was full of hooch joints run by ladies during Prohibition. They made country liquor but nobody knows with what… they used battery or whatever to get people high. Some people would die also, still we’d go,” remembers Baghdadi. Over the next few decades, even as Delhi’s liquor aficionados waited in long queues outside overcrowded thekas, Mumbai’s taprooms multiplied. “Delhi opened up faster but Mumbai opened up first,” says mixologist Shatbhi Basu. By the late ’80s
Drinking was a shameful activity, it was more, ‘behind the shaadi ka tent’
and ’90s, there were many places to drink: Leopold Café, Cafe Mondegar and Gokul in Colaba and Janata in Bandra. “Hotels were accessible to everybody. Unlike Delhi, there were many bars, like Tavern (inside Colaba’s Fariyas Hotel), Toto’s Garage (in Bandra), which suited everybody. The music was good, the alcohol nottoo-expensive. They were clean and no-nonsense. Girls also started feeling comfortable there,” says Basu. The Americans had fallen in love with vodka by the ’70s. James Bond loved his vodka martini “shaken, not stirred.” The fiery, smooth drink took the world by storm in the decades that followed. By the 2000s, the vodka revolution was complete. It was glamorous and fun. It became a ladies’ favourite. It’s what was in a Cosmopolitan. “You started getting vodka in different colours and yummy flavours… there’s candy alcohol which doesn’t feel like alcohol. You didn’t get these things 15 years ago,” says author Anuja Chauhan, who worked in advertising (a career overflowing with booze) for more than a decade.
fee. It’s always over drinks. “Alcohol extends the time spent together. If you’re meeting people for dinner, it is just a one-hour affair. You can stretch it to three-four hours over drinks, but you can’t keep eating for four hours!”
WHOSE DRINK IS IT ANYWAY?
STOP! OR WE’LL SHOOT
For many people, alcohol is just not about inebriation, it is another marker for liberal aspiration. “A lot of people drink champagne not because they are connoisseurs, but because they’re being seen. It reinstates their social status,” says Magandeep Singh. Gaurav Bhatia, marketing director, Moët Hennessy India, a premium champagne brand, adds, “It’s so natural in India, to be doing things the right way.” Interestingly, Moët & Chandon shipped its first bottles of champagne to India (to Calcutta) as far back in 1839. Today, he says, “India is one of the leading champagne markets in the world. It has a wonderful-sized population. The consumers in the metros are increasing.” Aisha Bhasin (name changed), a 23-year old B-school student, began drinking six years ago. “My dad’s generation usually drinks at each other’s house – which, come to think of it, makes more sense. We just have more freedom and money,” she says. She can’t recall the last time she met a friend over a cup of cof-
AND THAT’S THE WAY YOU DRINK IT WHEN THE DAYS ARE LONG In the summer, drink anything chilled, aromatic and fizzy. Try wine spritzers (1/2 wine, 1/2 soda); whisky with green tea and sugar; and tall cocktails with lots of ice and juice.
Oddly enough, along with the rise of social drinking, the parallel forces of moral conservatism have also gotten stronger. Ironically, Mumbai is where the fight is now. The moral police and the real police (ACP Vasant Dhoble and Co) have taken the task of weeding out the big bad booze from our beverages. In the summer of 2011, Maharashtra upped the drinking age from 21 to 25. Two months back, Dhoble began raiding bars all over the city for archaic laws – playing music, overcrowding. You need a licence to drink in Mumbai: R5 to drink foreign liquor for a day, R100 for a month and R1000 for life. But isn’t Maximum City used to music, drinks and parties? Mumbai-
WINTER IN THE PUB When it gets colder, make your drinks heavy and spicy. ■ Red wines, spiced mojitos, White Russians, ales, ciders or the good ol’ toddy. ■ Experiment with nutmeg, cinnamon, spiced rum instead of white rum, eggnog and coconut cream
NOTES ON THE NIGHTCAP ■ Wine has caffeine (in form of tannins). It will make you stay up. But if the alcohol content is high, it will make you sleepy. Port wine is better than red at night. ■ Don’t mix your alcohol with tea or coffee if you plan to sleep. So, no Black Russians or Espresso Martinis at night!
based journalist, Editor of IBN Lokmat Nikhil Wagle, most popularly known for his criticism of the Shiv Sena, disagrees. “If you ever played music after 10pm at a private party in Mumbai, somebody would complain to the police. People want to go to bed at 10.30pm,” he says. In fact, he adds, “A few months ago, people in Bandra West came outside a nightclub, protesting against miscreants, holding up traffic.” Bandra-Khar residents even passed a resolution supporting him. “Bars are a nuisance to the neighbourhood,” explains Wagle. The media slammed police action and social networking websites were abuzz with anti-Dhoble fury. But the conservative streak is as strong as the liberal one. Some publications, mainstream ones too, raged about how terrible alcohol is, and how very drunk young India is. Earlier this month, actor Aamir Khan, too, as part of a tearful teetotaller tirade in Satyamev Jayate, counted the many sins of alcohol. Mixologist Basu, who
LET ME COUNT THE DRINKS According to the UK-based data provider, International Wine & Spirit Research, these are the number of cases of alcohol we consumed in India in the last decade
LIQUOR (all figures are in lakhs)
SCOTCH (Do you pretend to like it?)
VODKA (Once only the Russians drank it)
FLAVOURED VODKA (Nobody drank it!)
BEER (We still want more beer!)
WINE (Can you really tell good from bad?)
CHAMPAGNE (Everyone pretends to like it!)
had been there for the shooting of the episode, clarifies, “At that point of time, all those stories of alcoholism felt very sad, Aamir got emotionally involved. He started out fine. Some parts of the show did talk about the fact that alcohol is not completely bad. Something probably went wrong while editing.”
WHERE’S THE LINE?
Alcohol is now a part of a larger global culture. And undeniably, when society changes, not everybody moves forward. There are always detractors who resist it. “People have always been making a noise. They have the women’s point of view, children’s point of view,” says Baghdadi. “Gandhi thought drinking was bad, Nehru liked his glass of sherry. Devdas wasn’t because of love, but because of drinking. Drinking is a metaphor. But it has nothing to do with being conservative. In Ghatkopar, there are vegetarian restaurants that serve alcohol,” he says, adding in the spirit of the city that he has never known to sleep, “In a society like Bombay, nobody really minds it.” Alcohol helps people unwind and socialise. So, how does society tread the fine line between debauchery and drink? New laws, structured around today’s lifestyles, could be the answer, says Basu. “Nobody opposed drunken driving laws – we were all happy,” she argues. “You’ve got to encourage people to drink less, drink better alcohol. The ethical onus should be on everybody – alcohol companies, bars and people,” she adds. Cheers!
“Show me the way, to the next whisky bar. Oh, don’t ask why” – The Doors AUGUST 19, 2012
BLOODY MARY MORNING: HANGOVERS CAN GO TO HELL ■ Drink expensive booze. Cheap liquor has acetaldehyde (also found in fertilisers). It’s what causes the worst kind of hangover. ■ White spirits cause less hangover than dark spirits. ■ Drink your favourite tipple. Go by personal preference. If vodka makes you want to dance on tables but other spirits don’t, drink something else. If rum makes you throw up, stay far, far away. Drink what suits your body.
Age Like The Japanese
Sake is rich in Vitamin B
Fish is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids Eat wakami algae for glowing skin
Wondering how Japanese women defy ageing? We reveal the best-kept secret
by Kavita Devgan
APANESE WOMEN don’t get fat. But what’s even more fascinating is that their skin simply doesn’t seem to age. No lines, zero blemishes, just luminous skin. How do they stay so stunning and what’s on their beauty menu?
STICK TO ‘PLAN B’
Koyoto Okugawa runs a rice sake café in the Oinodaira area at the foothills of Mount Fuji. She is 48 and doesn’t look it. Okugawa believes in keeping her skin hydrated – both internally and externally. “I keep hydrating my face all the time and I drink a lot of rice sake,” she says. The non-alcoholic drink is made using a yeast mould called koji and is a rich source of vitamin B. Vitamins B2, B3, B6, folic acid, biotin, and vitamin B12 are key components in maintaining healthy haemoglobin levels, which directly affect skin quality. While rice sake is not available in India, there are plenty of ways to ensure you have your B fix: help yourself to chicken, tuna, whole grains, dairy, green vegetables and garlic regularly. “External application of Vitamin B also does wonders,” says Okugawa. “I know this because my grandmother used to make koji with her hands, and she had the softest hands I have ever seen.” The antiageing effects of koji were discovered in the youthful hands of old monks who distilled rice wine at a Kobe monastery in Japan years ago. According to Rashmi Shetty, cosmetic physician at Mumbai’s Dr Rashmi Shetty’s Non Surgical Cosmetic Solutions, “Vitamin B and its derivatives help improve the texture and moisture retention capacity of the skin.” Shetty adds,
“Research shows that external application of nicotinamide – a derivative of B3 – leads to softer, skin. Similarly niacinamide, another byproduct of the vitamin, is proving to be an effective skin lightening and anti acne and pigmentation agent and gaining entry into skincare products.” For those of us not making sake at home, Japanese skincare giant SK-II’s is a pricey, but a great substitute.
ANGLE FOR FISHY BENEFITS...
Hakone-based Nemoto Yuko is 40, but has the skin of a 16-year-old. She keeps it simple. She uses nakabukuro (a cotton bag of rice bran
that offers a gentle massaging effect) to improve the skin’s texture, and red beans to gently scrub her face. “It’s gentle exfoliation,” explains Swati Srivastav, a dermatologist with VLCC in Mumbai, citing that it is essential for great-looking skin. “Use milk, lime, apricot and papaya to exfoliate. But be careful. The scrub should have fine granules so that it doesn’t harm your skin.” Of course, food plays a part too. Yuko says she eats fish (a great source of skin-friendly Omega-3
MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE Japanese cosmetics are a rage worldwide. Here are the top few SK-II: A favourite with Kate Moss and Sadie Frost, it uses a skin lightening ingredient derived from sake SHU UEMURA: The make-up brand offers very high-quality skincare. Apart from perhaps the best cleansing oils, they also make excellent anti-ageing creams YAKULT BEAUTIENS Look for moisturisers derived from lactic acid bacteria, which help you get tighter skin, healthier radiance and better skin elasticity KYUSOKU BIHAKU Famous for its whitening products, the brand is now available in India
AUGUST 19, 2012
fatty acids) and lot of seaweed, particularly wakame algae. “I add seaweed to my soups and have it as a side dish as well,” she says. Wakame is another Japanese skincare secret. It is known to strengthen skin against UV rays and also delays wrinkles. “Many Japanese cosmetics companies use seaweed extract in their skincare products,” says Srivastav. Simal Soin, dermatologist at Delhi’s Three Graces, vouches for seaweed’s benefits too. “Creams that contain the extract have been shown to increase levels of hyaluronic acid – which improves skin’s elasticity – and makes you look younger.”
“If you can’t make sake at home, SK-II’s is a great substitute”
SHISEIDO: The Japanese beauty giant’s latest skincare line, Future Solution LX, has an extra rich cleansing foam, concentrated balancing softener, and a regenerating cream RMK: Easily the largest Japanese skincare brand, it is known for delivering signature dewy glowing, translucent skin. Try their cleansing oil, recovery gel and foundations and watch your skin transform JILL STUART: The fashion designer’s makeup and skincare range is exclusive to Japan and is drop-dead gorgeously packed in silver. It’s not cheap, but her lip lustres and jelly eye colours are much in demand
As a Yakult lady, responsible for educating clients and delivering probiotic products in Tokyo, Yuko Yamamoto is out visiting customers in the sun, rain and cold through out the year. But it hasn’t affected her skin one bit. She uses only Yakult skincare and swears by its moisture-retaining benefits. Her other secret weapon is green tea. Like most Japanese women, she sips many cups a day. It seems to be working: Yamamoto looks like she’s in her early twenties, even though she is actually 41. So how does green tea work? It contains L-theanine, an amino acid that keeps the stress hormone cortisol in check and keeps collagen fibres intact, ensuring firm skin. “Green tea masks are becoming extremely popular,” adds Srivastav. firstname.lastname@example.org
MIND BODY SOUL
smaller meals and chew food slowly. Quit chewing gum and tobacco. Avoid carbonated drinks and whipped desserts because they contain excess air. ■ Stop or reduce your intake of gas inducing foods – beans, broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts. If you need to eat them, gradually introduce them to your diet. Apples, bananas, grapes, raisins, cabbage, corn, cucumber, onion, garlic and turnip may also cause gas, so limit these. Also, avoid spicy foods. ■ Reduce intake of sugar, refined starch and wheat flour. You could consider trying activated charcoal since it absorbs gas. Try eating brown rice, barley broth, papaya and pineapple.
CURB HUNGER PANGS
EING ON A diet is never easy but what makes matters worse is the nagging feeling of being hungry all the time. You feel highly irritable and anxious, and end up binging. But, here’s a simple solution to control your appetite and watch that waistline. FREEDOM FROM HUNGER PANGS ■ In order to curb incessant hunger pangs, make sure that you drink a lot of water before your meals because water tends to make you feel full. This way you will eat less and complement your weight loss plan. ■ Eat fresh fruits and vegetables – they are low in carbohydrates and contain less calories. Avoid foods high in sugar and salt content. Cut down on red meat consumption as well to lose weight. ■ Consult your dietician before taking fibre tablets. These tablets fill you up and reduce hunger pangs. ■ Never skip breakfast. Eat breakfast rich in complex-carbohydrates and low on fat and protein. That will help you stave off snack attacks throughout the day. Choose healthy fats like olive oil. Supplement your meal with vegetari-
TREE OF LIFE
Parsley juice helps in curbing hunger
THE RIGHT MIX
Sprouted mung chaat (left top), roasted chana and bhel (left) are ideal evening snacks an, low-glycemic proteins like sprouted mung chaat, peanuts and roasted chana. ■ Stay away from sugary snacks and simple carbohydrates like sticky buns, cakes and donuts. If you eat them, your blood sugar will initially soar and then crash. That will lead to irritation, anxiety and hunger pangs. ■ Don’t cut your calories too drastically. It will slow down your metabolism and you will be plagued with hunger all the time. EAT THESE Parsley, which is a common cooking herb and garnish, helps reduce hunger pangs in the form of parsley juice. Just blend a bunch of parsley with half a
cup of water in a food processor. You can also mix it with other juices to improve taste. Parsley and carrot work well together. You can also chew elaichi and saunf to control your growing appetite. ■ Eat roasted murmura, peanuts and chana in the evening for snacks. You can also have green tea or fruit salad along with bhel. Sometimes, controlling your appetite can lead to excessive acidity and flatulence. Here’s what you can do to tackle these problems – FREEDOM FROM GAS ■ Reduce the amount of air you swallow while eating. Eat
FREEDOM FROM ACIDITY To prevent acidity, avoid fried and fatty foods, chocolates, alcohol and caffeine. For relief, increase the intake of cold water, banana, coconut water, cucumber, watermelon and papaya. You can also take amla with warm milk, pulses and vegetables. Eat gur on an hourly basis for quick relief. EAT THESE ■ Eat leaves of tulsi to relieve acidity. ■ Keep haritaki in your mouth after meals. ■ Mint juice is also very good for reducing acidity. ■ Ajwain water and zeera water are extremely useful in reducing acidity. Hing water is excellent to reduce flatulence. You can also add hing in food. email@example.com
Eat watermelon for relief from acidity
VA R I E T Y
TOUCHDOWN AFTER THE MOUNTAINS
Participants of this year’s Royal Enfield Himalayan Odyssey after they had entered Delhi’s city limits
Riders On The Storm
Easier terrain, better gear and ease of navigation courtesy the Web – motorbike touring in the country has evolved, and how by Manit Moorjani
ACK IN the ’90s, it wasn’t common for regular city folks to take their bikes deep into the Himalayas pursuing adventure and the pleasure of riding. In 1996, when three young photographers decided to do just that, they knew nothing of what to expect. With limited information at hand, and lack of experience, they packed up 350kg (including the riders’ weight), on a single Bullet, a machine they later discovered was stipulated for not more than 250kg. They carried spares – including 10 clutch plates, a bagful of spark plugs and sprockets – and woollens enough to keep a battalion warm. They tied plastic sheets over their luggage, and called their loaded bike a ‘mule’.
The only real biking equipment available in India at the time was the STUDDS helmet. Within a kilometre deep beyond the Rohtang Pass in the Himalayas, their mobike toppled 33 times and on the journey downslope, they had to leave behind 35kg of luggage with villagers for a more comfortable ride home. In those days, motorbike enthusiasts, albeit few, ventured out of their comfort zone in search for adventure. They weren’t just riding their bikes to work, but biking in the tough Himalayan terrain and repairing their bikes on their own. “We would take a map and track out our journey with a pencil. For the unknown terrain ahead, all information we had was hearsay,” says Hindustan Times national photo
Earlier, some bikers tied plastic sheets over luggage and stitched gear to fit the bike
editor Gurinder Osan, one of those three pioneering photographers. “Today there is good-quality biking gear and carriage equipment, and the machine is much more user-friendly. If the clutch wears out, even up in the Himalayas, you just use a smartphone to know where to go to get it repaired. The number of people travelling to the Himalayas now can’t even be compared to what the scene was like 15 years ago,” says Osan.
THE ROAD LESS TAKEN...
Newspaper photographer Mohan Subramanium, another extensively travelled biker, has taken his 500cc Royal Enfield Classic ’91 model, to the farthest and most isolated of locations in the Himalayas – Khardung La, Nubra, Marsimik La, Pangong Tso. He is now eyeing Chushul at the India-China border. Engines, which are much more reliable now, would earlier cry for revving up when taken up to the mountains, says Subramanium. Back then, he’d remove the air filter each time he reached Rohtang, to maintain a rich air-fuel mixture. Now one can buy specialised air filters for such terrain. Spares of
“Only a Biker knows why a dog sticks his head out of a car window.” – Biker saying AUGUST 19, 2012
HOT BIKER TRAILS Keep in mind – mountains for the warmer months, southern states for the winters ! ■ Manali-Leh: Head straight to Manali to begin your true Himalayan discovery. Explore Ladakh and Zanskar. ■ Lahaul-Spiti, Chamba: Don’t give Himachal a miss en route ■ Head into Uttarakhand along the Rishikesh-Ranikhet-Nainital region or further up to the land of the gods. ■ Right in the centre of the Himalayas lies Nepal, a recent interest with Indian motorbikers. ■ Explore the Darjeeling-Gangtok route, or head for a bike ride into Bhutan, something now quite popular. ■ The north-eastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Meghalaya make for many a biker’s dream tour nowadays. ■ The royal sun-drenched lands of Rajasthan have culture aplenty. ■ With the endless expanse of the Rann of Kutch on one side and the seas to the other, Gujarat offers much to the motorbike riders who move with the wind. ■ Ride further south along the Western Ghats to reach the backwaters, jungles and hills of Kerala, crossing stop overs in Goa and Karnataka on the way. Best done in the monsoons. ■ One of the longest and most enduring rides in the country, from Leh to Kanyakumari, has, over the years, also become one of the most popular.
Photo: RAJ K RAJ
Travellers tour the Himalayas in hordes now, but it seems impossible to pinpoint a single reason that gushed open these floodgates that have now begun to clog many Himalayan roads. Gaurav Jani, director of the award-winning documentary Riding Solo to the Top of the World, attributes this to the corporate culture. “The call centre boom of 2003-04 resulted in widespread anxiety and stress, and breaking away became a natural thing to do. For these bikers, travelling is like a quick fix, a getaway,” he says. “Ladakh, being the highest
motorable road, is a hot destination. In the four summer months, more than 30,000 bikers ride to Ladakh today.”
BIKERS IN GROUPS
Indians today are riding motorcycles more than ever. Groups now go en masse to the Himalayas, and every other remote part of the country. Trips backed by business houses, like the Royal Enfield Himalayan Odyssey, are steadily becoming popular. There’s more to biking than just out of city adventure. Members of the Delhi Bikers Breakfast Run (DBBR) take their machines out on weekends and ride to a breakfast location, in a way so as to be home by noon. “Earlier, unless one was a die-hard biker, one wouldn’t spend hard earned money on fuel or dhaba food. But now it’s a lifestyle. People have high disposable incomes,” says DBBR founder Joshua John. Members of 60kph, another popular group, believe mobike riding in India can only get bigger. “Now you google and go on your own discovery. Back then, we knew very little about what to carry. There were lots of unanswered questions. How cold will it be? Where will we find petrol? Where to get repairs? Now there are clubs and information flows. Parents are also fine with their kids journeying on bikes," says Sanjay Sharma of 60kph. Gone are the days when locating a petrol pump in the hills was tough, armed with just a map and word of mouth information. Today, there are Web forums and Facebook. Plus, dhabas, mechanics and workshops en
For many stressed bikers today, travelling is like a quick getaway
NOT WITHOUT MY MATES
Photo: RAJ K RAJ
Members of the group 60kph often ride out together to the mountains
Photo: GURINDER OSAN
tubes, puncture kits, lubes, spark plugs, clutch plates etc., were a major part of the luggage. Now with tubeless tyres and compact puncture kits, the bike’s performance has improved tremendously. Moreover, bikes now have single box engines, so spares like spark plugs and sprockets are redundant. The remotest of areas have service centres as the motorbike companies understand the travellers’ presence.
TOTAL RECALL FULLY LOADED
Gurinder Osan and Dinesh Krishnan (left) on an expedition en route Ladakh route. Still, the avid biker isn’t happy over the riding masses’ attitude and rues the lack of seriousness in many of today’s enthusiasts. “Now people want to cover a Manali trip in one day. But what about acclimatising? They end up landing sick,” says Jani. Subramanium gets nostalgic about the time when he fondly cared for his bike, something that is lost now. “Many of today’s bikers have lost the connection that one used to have with the bike. These bikes do not have breakdowns, without which it is impossible to develop that connection. You don’t even have a kick start, bikes have self-start now,” he says. The best part of the journey, says Subramanium, was servicing bikes. “Anybody can ride with the new bikes. On the Bullet, I learnt the bond one has with his bike. Many people still prefer those to the new ones… it’s made like a gun. As they say, other bikes get you there, with a Bullet, you have to get it there,” he adds. Back then, the bikers devised innovative ways to tackle tricky terrain, such as carrying bathroom slippers to cross water bodies. “We’d take our
How technology and gear have made life easier for riders over the years THEN NOW Spares
Clutch plates, spark Compact puncture plugs, sprockets, punc- patches, lubricants ture kits, lubricants
Regular winter gloves, multiple layers of woollens, STUDDS helmet, shoes with plastic wrapped on them, jeans and jacket
Biker gloves with shield and padding, Single advanced layer of woollen clothing, biker jackets, knee guards, special helmets, biker boots, biker pants
Standard bags tied to the bike; stitched bags based on the bike’s dimensions
Saddlebags, tank bags, motorcycle racks, mounted luggage bags and cases; motorcycle trunks, tail bags
Smart phone with Internet access for all needs
Costs (15-day trip) R10,000-R15,000 to R35,000-R45,000 to R20,000-R25,000 R50,000-R60,000 (with repairs and stay) (with repairs and stay)
Pitching up a tent for camping
Motels and hotels (no need to camp)
boots off, wear chappals and cross the stream. We’d dry our feet and put the shoes back on. Sometimes, we’d even wrap plastic on our boots. Now, specialised motorcycle boots let the rider go wherever he wants to, sludge or stream,” says Subramanium. ‘Easy riders’ has a new ring to it. firstname.lastname@example.org
Fashion & Costume Designer/ Consultant
Neeta Lulla if i could... I WOULD PURSUE MY CAREER ALL OVER AGAIN
PLACE OF BIRTH
The movie, Tamacha
St Anne’s School, Hyderabad; Jaihind College & PV Mumbai/ Hyderabad Polytechnic SNDT University
HIGH POINT LOW POINT OF YOUR LIFE CURRENTLY DOING OF YOUR LIFE No low points. I hope they never Work, work and more work
Jogging. The food item you would break your diet for? Idlis and dosas. The number of evening gowns in your wardrobe? Need to count! The one accessory you can’t live without? My mobile phone. The craziest rumour you have heard about yourself? That I had given up working on commercial films. Your secret to staying young? A disciplined health routine. On a bad hair day, you… Tie my hair up in a chignon. One fashion trend Bollywood actresses can’t wear? Loose or flared western or Indian wear that hides their figure. What is your idea of a really boring evening? Being at a kitty party. Choose your fast food menu? Bhel, fries and a grilled sandwich. Three places you love shopping in? Mumbai, London and Paris. One thing you love about your partner? His patience. The one thing you dislike about your kids? Their sleep schedules. Five things that are definitely on your bucket list? A collection of realistic paintings, driving a Formula One car, learning to fly a plane, working with an NGO and make a difference to the lives of underprivileged kids, and finally, designing a resort.
THE ONE THING YOU’D ALWAYS LIKE TO GET AS A GIFT?
A getaway house in Monte Carlo
DRIVE CROSS COUNTRY IN MY CAR
Photo: PRASAD GORI
I WOULD OPEN A DESIGN SCHOOL OF MY OWN
Fashion to you is? Oxygen on which style survives. The one fashion item you wish you had designed? The mobile phone. A little-known thing about dressing a celebrity? Dressing according to your personal style and underplaying one’s style always works. The one fashion trend from India that should be better known worldwide? Draping a saree. The worst thing about being your own AUGUST 19, 2012
boss? You can’t fire yourself for your own mistakes. Describe your state of mind just before a show? Meditative and calm. Your ideal weekend? Spending time with the family, or painting. The one place you would love to call home? The place where I belong. Your greatest extravagance? Buying things for my kids. An exercise routine that scares you?
— Interviewed by Mignonne Dsouza
Hindustantimes Brunch 19 August 2012