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WEEKLY MAGAZINE, OCTOBER 30, 2011 Free with your copy of Hindustan Times

Move over dhoti-clad pandits and matrimonial websites. Savvy, iPadwielding brokers are the new players in the R250 billion Indian marriage market


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The (New) Business of Marriage

PHOTO: DINODIA

We’re Logged On facebook.com/hindustantimesbrunch Vijayalakshmi Narayanan Liked ur Diwali Special issue :) The beauty tips, packaging tips were really good. A great start to Diwali. Mayank Sharma Your magazine is fantastic! Every sunday without Brunch makes mae feel boring Aditya Sethi Who are the new and upcoming Indian bands? I wish Brunch would do a story on them. Tanya Sharma I LOVE chocolate, so Sharif Rangnekar’s story about making it at home was really useful. Binoy Dass The next voice you hear...by Amrah Ashraf was interesting. It would be nice if we could also know whose is the voice impressionist behind the TV serial BIG BOSS on Colours Animesh Kar Awesome issue of brunch and specially Rajiv Makhni’s column on the new Siri feature in the new iPhone 4S!

Fifteen Fall Must-Haves for Men Style-altering additions to breeze through the blustery, wintry days up ahead

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Crimped, curled, moussed, set and blow dried. If you thought it wasn’t possible to do any of these things at home, allow us to prove you wrong

twitter.com/HTBrunch @chirrs Missing HT Brunch, flipside of being out of town :( as epaper doesn't give the feel of it no. @SavarSuri After reading his article in @HTBrunch about being alone on Diwali this year, I am sure @PranavDixit must have got MANY invitations to Diwali parties! :) @VenuSpeak Awsome Diwali issue! Loved the bright colours and the design! Happy Diwali to the entire team. @game_returns @YashicaDutt funny column. all points duly noted #aloneondiwali. @taranxd Siri, will you please tweet congratulations to Rajiv Makhni for the awesome article in @HTBrunch today? Fabulous, it was! :) Write to brunchletters@hindustantimes.com For marketing and ad-related queries, contact Suresh Tripathi 09818899646

FEED BACK Cheer up!

Happy Diwali (Spectator, 23 October) by Seema Goswami evokes mixed reactions. Diwali is a major festival in India which people celebrate with full fervour and extreme zeal not only vis a vis purchases but also by cleaning and decorating every corner of the house, doing pujas and entertaining guests and relatives. It is, therefore, natural that big business houses unleash a spate of advertisements for their goods. It is, however, the choice of customers who can afford to succumb to the temptations whether to buy or not. But it is good that people with surplus money at least spend it on Diwali shopping rather than on other not-so-harmless purchases. Seema’s suggestions about helping the needy this Diwali are laudatory. But still, Diwali is Diwali – it comes once a year and we must celebrate it in a befitting manner. — O P TANDON, via email

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Move over pandits and web portals. Professional marriage brokers have emerged as big players in the R250 billion Indian marriage market. Here are the startling facts about today’s marriages and the kind of brides/bridegrooms most in demand

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The cricketer on his first kiss, love, why he loves gulab jamuns and why cooking with an apron is sexy

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Bowled over

I ACTUALLY read The Brunch Wrap-Up Guide by Pranav Dixit in last week’s issue which is saying something as I generally don’t read guides, how-tos and stuff like that. It had me at the first line and I was absolutely hooked. It was some of the most intelligent writing I have read for some time. The ease with which Pranav blended humour and instructions throughout the guide was awesome! So I thought I would take some time out (on a Sunday morning, no less) and let him know that he did a really splendid job! The article now rests on my pin-up board. — JITENDRA PATIL, via email

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Last week, we ran a little contest asking everyone to guess the star on the cover of the latest Brunch Quarterly ! Unfortunately, we didn’t get any correct guesses – no, not even one! – at the time of going to press. So guess what? We’re just going to give away the answer– turn to Page 23 NOW! The contest is now closed. But don’t worry, there will be plenty of opportunities to get free Brunch Quarterly copies in the future. Till then, watch this space.

EDITORIAL: Poonam Saxena (Editor), Kushalrani Gulab (Deputy Editor); DESIGN: Ashutosh Sapru (National Editor Design), Tavishi Paitandy Rastogi, Mignonne Dsouza, Veenu Singh, Parul Khanna Swati Chakrabarti, Rakesh Kumar, Ashish Singh, Tewari, Pranav Dixit, Yashica Dutt, Amrah Ashraf Saket Misra, Suhas Kale, Shailendra Mirgal

HINDUSTAN TIMES WEEKLY MAGAZINE OCTOBER 30, 2011

Cover design: Prashant Chaudhary


Style File

15FOR MEN

FALL MUST-HAVES 7

TRENCH COATS: It’s available in regular colours like blue, grey and black and wilder variations like mustard and orange. Invest in a classic style like a double-breasted one with a belt. “These do not necessarily have to be worn in heavy wool but can be tried in windcheater fabrics and gentle woollen combinations too,” suggests designer Anjana Bhargav of the label ANKY by Ankita and Anjana Bhargav.

A classic Burberry trench coat should be in every stylish man’s closet

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Stock up your wardrobe with these stylealtering additions and breeze through winter by Yashica Dutt

THIN STRIPED WOOL SOCKS: Great to feel, better to look at, these socks add the right amount of texture and work well with those ankle-length boots, says Zubair Kirmani. “The chic texture will work as a supremely stylish yet subtle highlight in a man’s ensemble,” he says.

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CHUNKY KNITS: If you still think that they are better left inside a woman’s closet, then the joke’s on you. Try a V-neck cardigan or “artisan knitwear with intricate stitch structures and pixellated patterning,” as suggested by designer Sanchita Ajampur. “Knitwear as outer-wear is a prevalent direction, with dark-coloured knitted blazers and shawl-collared double breasted cardigans as key styles,” she adds.

RAY, WHY does your wardrobe need a transformation? Because you can’t wear the same beige corduroys every season, the weathered jacket needs its annual break and don’t even think you can pull off a dapper man-of-the-moment look in those extra pointy leather shoes. What you need is our list of essentials that will keep you chilled out all through winter. yashica.dutt@hindustantimes.com

Thick cable knits like this in Burberry are the go-to style this winter

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BELTS: Textured, printed, striped and woven. It’s all about anythingbut-plain-leather right now. Designer Nikhil Mehra of Shantanu & Nikhil even advocates matching it to the print of your jacket, while designer Sanchita Ajamapur says that fabric contrasted with leather is your best bet.

WIDE-BRIMMED HATS: Leave the last season Fedoras to the novices and bring out Amish-style hats that have left the runways gasping. Think Hitchcock villains and the impeccably dressed Godfather clan, and you are set to rule the races and polo matches in style.

BANDHGALAS: Returning yet again to the style radar (though we believe it never went away) is this Indian essential with contemporary detailing, whether it’s printed, plain or textured. Embrace the bandhgala with a zany twist as designer Rohit Kamra does; with a bright, eye-catching scarf or a luxuriously textured feel.

A plaited leather belt from Corneliani is a spot on-trend

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CRAVATS AND POCKET SQUARES: Add the perfect accent to a well tailored suit with a peeking pocket square (a rage for more than two seasons now) or wrap an elegant cravat under any outfit to give it the much-needed lift. Designer Zubair Kirmani recommends wearing it over a shirt, T-shirt or even a jacket for a soft yet impactful statement of style.

Find the Woody frame and look the part

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MINIMALIST BAGS: Make the ‘Murse’ your friend and leave those bulky laptop backpacks for the nerd of the noughties. Carry a clean, simple leather satchel or handbag which is uncomplicated and softly constructed without having a fixed shape, advises Zubair Kirmani.

ANKLE-LENGTH BOOTS: Just the right length to show those smartly cut, ankle length trousers this season (cuff them, if you can’t cut them). Lace-ups or slipins, zipped or shearing-lined, thick-soled or eye-popping, these boots will keep you going right through the winter.

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PLAID SHIRTS: Get back to being a retrosexual and slip into very trendy yet very comfortable plaid patterned shirts this winter. Roll up the sleeves and watch the girls drool. A rage this season, plaid is chic, just like this 7FAM shirt

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PASHMINA SHAWLS: Return to old world elegance (with a modern twist) by teaming a richly embroidered Pashmina shawl with a shirt-andtrouser combination. Perfect for those bonfire evening soirees. Designer Varun Bahl also suggests that you could team it with a classic kurta-pyjama combination for a sleek look.

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These lace-ups from Woodland would flatter any feet

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SLIM SINGLE-BREASTED SUITS: Like it ever went out of fashion! (It didn’t). But this season the emphasis is on broad shoulders, a slim waist and narrow trousers, giving the suit a very sleek, Mad Men-like look. Designers Riddhi and Siddhi of MapxencaRS suggest a combination of “a dark-coloured, high-neck suit with slim trousers and Chinese collar shirt underneath, to make sure all eyes are on you.”

PHOTO: REUTERS

WOODY ALLEN GOES TO WORK: And you should follow too, or at least your glasses should. The classic ’60s staple with a modern twist ought to define your eyewear this season, declares Nikhil Mehra of the designer duo Shantanu & Nikhil.

Make them swoon in this stylish bandhgala by Shantanu & Nikhil

PEA COATS: Sail right into this time-honoured attire of the seaman, currently a hot international favourite. It’s a short, double-breasted coat with broad lapels and designer Varun Bahl suggests you opt for a well-fitted one in black. And we do think only the gym-toned among you pick it up because of its fitted, buttoned-up look.

SHEEPSKIN GILET AND SHERPA JACKETS: You don’t need to look further than your dad’s closet for this one. Try the famous Levi’s denim sherpa lined jackets that were mimicked all over the international runways. Or, as Sanchita Ajampur recommends, choose “a sheepskin gilet (sleeveless jacket) with a western yoke and toggle fastening.”

United Colors of Benetton’s on-trend jacket

HINDUSTAN TIMES WEEKLY MAGAZINE OCTOBER 30, 2011

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PHOTO: IMAGESBAZAAR

COVER STORY

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The (new) Business of

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Marriage Move over, pandits and web portals. Professional marriage brokers have emerged as big players in the R250 billion Indian marriage market. Here, they reveal startling facts about how matches are fixed and what families look for in brides/grooms by Ira Trivedi 6

HINDUSTAN TIMES WEEKLY MAGAZINE OCTOBER 30, 2011

“GIRLS WANT MEN WHO CAN BUY THEM DESIGNER THINGS. IT DOESN’T MATTER IF THE MEN ARE NICE OR NOT” “FOR MEN THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS LOOKS, FOLLOWED BY WEALTH”


GOPAL SURI

A hotel owner-turned-marriage broker

HE HAS A PRIVATE OFFICE RESERVED FOR HIS “SUPER ELITE” CLIENTS According to Shastri, the marriage brokerage business has flourished in the past ten years. The reason for this, he says, is the fact that people are choosing to live in nuclear families, and increasing divorce rates. “Traditionally family members used to bring rishtas (matches) but now people are worPHOTOS: RAJ K RAJ

Pankaj’s older brother is also part of the family business, though he caters to middle-class clients, while Pankaj and his father manage only very high-end customers. Pankaj Shastri’s business operates only through word-of-mouth. “We cater to India’s top-tier families, they all know each other, and they all know us.” He throws a heavyweight client list at me, and gives me the numbers. “Most weddings that I do are in the range of R25-30 crore weddings, though recently I did a R100 crore wedding.” “This is a very good business,” says Pankaj, “There is never a down cycle. Whether the economy is good or bad, people are always getting married. If you think about it, it is probably the most stable business in the world.”

IT’S A FAMILY BUSINESS

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Pankaj Shastri is a new-age marriage broker. I am taken by the iPad 2-wielding, Tommy Hilfiger-wearing man who comes to my home to meet me. Pankaj joined the family business of marriage brokerage in 1995 after a short stint at a computer company in Nehru Place in New Delhi. In his 15 years as a marriage broker, Pankaj has brokered almost 50 successful marriages (with only one divorce, he adds.) His father, Shiv Shankar Shastri, has been in the business since 1985 and lays claim to over a thousand weddings. Shastri Senior began his tenure as a pujari in Calcutta before becoming a “professional” marriage broker in 1985. Mr Shastri senior is also well known for his expertise in the science of astrology, which has increased his value in the marriage business immensely.

PANKAJ SHASTRI

An iPad-wielding marriage broker who has fixed almost 50 successful marriages (only one divorce)

“MOST WEDDINGS THAT I DO ARE R25-30 CRORE WEDDINGS” HINDUSTAN TIMES WEEKLY MAGAZINE OCTOBER 30, 2011

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At the South Extension (Delhi) offices of A to Z Matchmaking Management, it is an unusually busy day. Three weddings that the company has brokered are taking place today and as part of their service agreement, they have to be present. A pair of parents who have arrived on the morning train from Lucknow wait their turn to register their daughter, while another anxious pair are scouring resumes on the “marriage database” of the firm. Gopal Suri, the founder and man in charge of the most popular marriage brokerage company in upscale South Delhi, ushers me into his private office, which he reserves for his “super-elite” customers. He offers me many savouries, and places his three cellphones on the table, one for each of his customer brackets, he explains to me. Mr Suri has been in the marriage brokerage business since 1992. Previously the owner of a small hotel in Karol Bagh, New Delhi, he got into the marriage business by “fixing up” (arranging the marriage in marriage broker lingo) a few of his guests. He realised how lucrative the business was and began his career as a professional matchmaker. In the midst of our conversation he picks up the telephone – it is a distraught mother on the line complaining that a prospective groom’s family has not returned her phone call for three days now. Mr Suri apologises to me saying that this is one of his elite clients and he must tend to them. He hands me an envelope with his rates and says he will give me a discount if I register with him. The marriage market in India is booming. As family sizes shrink and divorce rates skyrocket, family members and friends are apprehensive of making introductions for the purpose of marriage. Matchmaking, our nation’s favorite pastime, has thus given birth to the professional marriage brokers. The concept of the matchmaker in the Indian arranged marriage scenario is age-old. He has existed for decades as a family ‘pandit’ or ‘shastri’ who informed families of the existence of eligible bachelors and bachelorettes within the community. No longer are marriage brokers dhoti-clad pandits though, they are cosmopolitan and business savvy and they are all set to take advantage of the R250 billion Indian marriage market.


PHOTO: JASJEET PLAHA

COVER STORY

ried that if the boy or the girl turn out to be defective, then they will be blamed. These days families would rather not interfere so the best option is really a marriage broker. The business has boomed so much that these days there are more brokers than girls and boys!” says Shastri. The business may be booming, but the business of marriage brokerage is definitely not an easy one. “Mine is a lucrative business, but it is also one of the most difficult. When it comes to the subject of marriage, people are extra sensitive and hidden personalities seem to emerge. I have seen families reject a perfectly nice boy or girl, because they feel offended that the family did not drop them to their car, or simply because they did not like a sofa in the house. The wealthier the family, the choosier they seem to get.”

THE NRI PERSPECTIVE

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Geeta Khanna has been in the wedding brokerage business for the last three-anda-half years since her move back to India from the Middle East. “I started the business purely by default,” says Khanna. “I am not the type to be a typical housewife, and since I am a people’s person, this seemed to be the right kind of job for me. Also, being an NRI gave me the right kind of mindset to understand young people all over the world. I first started setting up people I knew from my social circuit, and this was a big hit, so I decided to turn this into a business.” Now Khanna runs a successful business under the name of Cocktail Matches. Khanna’s clientele ranges from ages 20-50 and is typically from the Punjabi community in Delhi. Khanna says, “I cater to a very elite community, namely the big fat Indian wedding crowd.” How is cocktailmatches.com different than other traditional online marriage portals? Khanna claims that these websites are “bogus” and they have become dating websites. “No one can vouch for the people on these websites, and I

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GEETA KHANNA

She has been in the wedding brokerage business for three-and-a-half years

“I CATER TO THE BIG, FAT WEDDING CROWD” have heard too many disaster stories on these websites to trust them. I operate in a very closeknit group of people, it is much easier to check people out this way. I run a very personalised service, I have no staff, I work by myself and I compile my database by the people who walk through my door.” Khanna believes that she is a modern day marriage broker and does not believe in astrology or janam patri matching. “What is more important than planetary positions is counselling, because parents and children have very different mentalities these days. I help bridge that. Each one of my clients is my child and best friend.”

A CENTURY-OLD BUSINESS

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“There is not a single Marwari anywhere in the world who has not heard of us,” says Srinivas Racha, CEO of shubhlaagan.com, the Bombay-based marriage brokerage firm. Sanjay Kirtania, the founder of shubhlaagan, started the company 15 years ago. His family has been in the matchmaking business for over a century in Rajasthan, when the entrepreneurial Sanjay Kirtania, seeing immense potential, professionalised the business. Since its inception, Shubhlaagan has arranged over 4,000 marriages worldwide. Shubhlaagan.com runs like a very efficient investment bank. They have different teams dedicated to the different segments of society, ranging from middle-class to elite. They have an in-house

HINDUSTAN TIMES WEEKLY MAGAZINE OCTOBER 30, 2011

astrology team, which matches janam patris, and they even have a detective team, which performs background checks. Kirtania himself handles only the top strata of the Marwari community. Some of the industrial Marwari weddings that he lays claim to are that of the Agarwal family of the Vedanta group, the Ruia family of Essar, the Biyanis of Big Bazaar and the Oswals. Racha says, “We run a very personalised business. We have a database that is not open to the public. Our experts browse our database and contact the couples that they think will make a successful match. Over 50 new entries are added to our database from around the world on a daily basis.” Racha says with pride, “We run a global business – we just set up a couple from South Africa.”

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY...

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Anjali Gupta has been married for three years. She was fixed by a well-known Delhi marriage broker. Anjali raves about the process. “In an arranged set-up it is really difficult to put your demands upfront. Everything becomes much easier through a marriage broker. You can place all your requirements on the table and you have a neutral party negotiating for you. This is really important, especially in Marwari weddings, because each family has their own set of expectations. Marriage brokers, like any other type of brokers, come with their fair share of trouble,” Anjali whispers to me, making sure her mother-in-law is not around. “You have to be really careful of these guys. My parents kept me away from them till the very last stage till it became absolutely crucial for them to see me. Sometimes these guys can be malicious. If a family doesn’t respond to their requests they’ll spread rumours in the market. They’ll say the boy has different ‘preferences’ or that a girl’s ‘character isn’t right.’” (The standard line – iska character theek nahein hai.)


CEO of a marriage brokerage firm that has inhouse teams of astrologers and detectives

“THERE IS NOT A SINGLE MARWARI WHO HAS NOT HEARD OF US” THE PROCESS

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What are people looking for in a match? Across brokers, the answer was unanimous. The single most important criteria for eligibility in the marriage market is wealth. Every family wants their match in terms of bank balance and very rarely are they willing to compromise. According to Shastri, business families are looking for alliances through weddings. “It can be beneficial for both parties if there are business interests involved, for many – especially the super-elite, this is top priority.” In many ways a broker renders a marriage to a new kind of merger and acquisition where love is not the bottom line – wealth is. Geeta Khanna says, “Every girl wants someone who can buy them designer handbags and Jimmy Choos. It doesn’t seem to matter if he is a nice guy or not. At times the boy’s character is the last thing girls ask about.” Khanna narrates a story, “I asked a family who came looking for a match for their son about what they wanted in a girl. They said they wanted a brand.” A marriage broker’s job is a comprehensive one. They are involved from the moment the customer is registered with them till the time that nuptial vows are exchanged. No liability is taken for divorce. Gopal Suri, of A to Z, offers seven different matrimonial packages, ranging from “middle class to super-elite.” There is an option to upgrade at any point during the marriage process. Being registered

in a higher bracket gives you access to a larger variety of clients and more importantly wealthier ones. Pankaj Shastri prides himself on offering “full facilities.” This involves, “showing” the girl, passing on messages to either side, negotiating wedding budgets, making sure promises are delivered and being present at all wedding functions – from the engagement to the wedding reception. “It is much simpler for families to operate through brokers. It is difficult to demand things from a family that you do not know. Going through someone like me who is a friend to both families works well.” The length of the procedure varies with each case. “Often it can take a few years to get a girl married, that is why I feel families should start looking for their daughters once they turn 22. Most families feel that girls begin to lose their innocent looks after 25, so I encourage my clients to register their daughters much in advance,” says Suri.

THE COST OF LOVE

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Prices charged by each broker are different, though the fee structure remains more or less the same. A registration fee ranging from R15,000 to R31,000 is to be paid upfront, with a bulk amount to be paid once the marriage is complete. This completion fee ranges from R1- 3 lakh. Many brokers remained tight-lipped about the fees they charge, saying that it “all depends on the family.” A very common fee structure among brokers who service the “elite bracket” is to charge a percentage of the total expense of the wedding. Amongst most families serviced by brokers, dowry is uncommon and it is usually the “budget” (what the girl’s family will be spending) of the wedding, which is discussed among families. It is not uncommon for a broker to charge a percentage of the total wedding budget. Ira Trivedi is the author of The Great Indian Love Story and There’s No Love On Wall Street brunchletters@hindustantimes.com

HINDUSTAN TIMES WEEKLY MAGAZINE OCTOBER 30, 2011

THE STATISTICS HERE ARE some interesting statistics compiled from marriage brokers around the country. The average age of marriage for both women and men is 26-28. There has been an increase in the average age of marriage for women. Brokers attribute this to the fact that women are choosing to study further, and pursue a career. For women the single most important criterion for eligibility is wealth or salary, the second is education. For men, the most important is looks, the second is wealth. For the parents of both men and women the most important criteria is wealth. On average there are more women “on the market” than men. In the 30-36 age group, there are 15 women to one man In the 26-30 age group, there are 7 women to one man In the 20-25 age group, the ratio changes and there are 2 men to one woman. The bottomline is that marriage brokers are minting it. Just as online matrimonial portals had their heyday, professional marriage brokers are in vogue today. Are they here to stay? Only time will tell, and as long as the marriages that they fix last, so will they. 9

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PHOTO: PRASAD GORI

SRINIVAS RACHA


Mars and Venus

Second

EDITION

People who marry for the second time could find themselves in a tangled weave of relationships – from both unions by Mignonne Dsouza

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HEN SOFTWARE engineer Sheila Kamat got married the second time, she did so with only a few apprehensions. After all, although Aatish, her husband, had not been married before, he was aware of the circumstances under which her first marriage had broken up, and that it had not been her fault. But some months later, Sheila was distressed to find that Aatish’s mother kept probing her regarding the break-up. Matters reached a head when she asked Sheila, “You look pretty, why did your first husband leave you?”, which upset her. However, Aatish brushed off the matter, saying his mom should be ignored. Says Sheila, “I feel hurt by her comments, but since Aatish does not take it seriously, I don’t feel confident enough to speak up either. After all, I do not want any friction in this marriage.” Like Sheila, many people who marry again find that while adjusting to a new spouse can be challenging, it is more demanding to manage other relationships from both first and second unions. These lead to a tangled weave of relationships – that have to be negotiated with care. PHOTOS: THINKSTOCK

The situation: STAYING IN TOUCH

Pooja Shenvi, who obtained a divorce in 2002, says she kept in touch with her ex-spouse for almost a decade after that. “We had a mutual consent divorce,” she explains, “And even used the same lawyer, so there was no bitterness, and since we were friends before, we stayed friends. But now, with my own remarriage, we have drifted apart,” she adds. EXPERT SPEAK: According to clinical psychologist and traumatologist Seema Hingorrany, keeping in touch with an ex need not be ruled out. “It’s no problem if the persons involved are mature enough,” she explains. However, there are some riders: remember to keep some emotional distance from the person, and don’t cross the fine line of intimacy. And above all, recognise in some circumstances that you have to let go.

The situation: WE HAVE KIDS TOGETHER

When Rahul Saxena’s parents separated 25 years ago, he was the only person to stay in touch with both of them. “I lived with my mother, who got sole custody,” he explains, “And my father moved cities, so I only saw him about once a year. Every time I went to stay with him, in my summer vacations for example, that was the only time my parents spoke, to discuss my travel arrangements, and the length of my holiday.” EXPERT SPEAK: Mirroring Saxena’s situation, experts say that the one case in which there seems to be less tension about keeping in touch occurs when there are kids from the first marriage. Hingorrany explains, “Partners are more understanding of the need to maintain contact when kids are involved. Many women keep in touch with their ex-in-laws for the sake of the kids. But in such circumstances, the talk only pertains to the children.” Adds Dr Shetty, “Kids make the situation easy and complicated. If the divorce is mutual, then there is greater acceptance among parents that a child is more important than either of them. However, in the case of a second marriage, the new spouse’s attitude becomes a determining factor. If that spouse has been married before and has had a healed divorce, it’s easy, but not so if that person is still bitter from an earlier marriage.”

MANY WOMEN

WHY THIS IS HAPPENING Increasingly, such complications are coming about because of the rising rate of divorce in urban India, say experts. Clinical psychologist and traumatologist Seema Hingorrany explains that five to six years ago, people intending to seek a divorce would opt for counselling, hoping to save the marriage. But now, she says, less effort is expended on trying to retain the relationship. Adds Hingorrany, “Also, a large number of divorcees are relatively young. That’s because the first marriage fails when the person is aged 27 to 30 years, and they feel the need for companionship. That’s why they, very quickly at times, decide to embark on a second marriage.”

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KEEP IN TOUCH WITH THEIR EXIN-LAWS FOR THE SAKE OF THE KIDS

The situation: FAMILY IS STILL FRIENDS

After her 1999 divorce, Maria Dias found it awkward to stay in touch with her ex-husband. “But my brother, who always got on well with him, still talks to him on the phone and emails him as well,” she says. EXPERT SPEAK: According to social psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty, Dr L H Hiranandani Hospital, Mumbai, family members sometimes still carry on relationships with their siblings’ ex-spouses for a variety of reasons. “Sometimes, it is professional; in other cases, a brother-in-law, for example, may be financially obligated to his sister’s ex-spouse; or there might be genuine affection,” explains Dr Shetty, adding, “However, although people accept the need for a multiplicity of relationships today, women still find it tougher to do so because they have to make more compromises in a second marriage.”

The situation: THERE’S STILL BITTERNESS

Ranjona Dixit is still scarred by her first marriage, which broke down in five years, among a sea of complaints and mental torture. She has broken off all contact with her ex-husband and inlaws, and says she lives in dread of meeting her ex. EXPERT SPEAK: According to Dr Hingorrany, it is very important to enter into therapy in the case of a failed marriage. “There are many cases of people coming in for therapy before getting married again,” she says, adding, “Often, they need validation and want to clear their emotional baggage before their second marriage. That’s because however confident they are about this second relationship, a broken marriage leaves behind scars.” In such circumstances, Dr Shetty advises that people “feel the pain and the anger, and then get it detoxified”. He adds, “The next step is to separate the person and the anger. Also, recognise that you can’t always have a rapprochement with the former spouse. What is important is to accept yourself as you are, and that if people don’t like you, you need to stay away from them.”

HINDUSTAN TIMES WEEKLY MAGAZINE OCTOBER 30, 2011

mignonne.dsouza@hindustantimes.com


indulge eat

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A Gastronomic Getaway

rude food

Vir Sanghvi

NOTHING NEW HERE Hong Kong’s Stanley’s Market isn’t much – just two rows of stalls selling stuff that sells at lower prices in Bangkok’s Chatuchak Market

PHOTO: CC/WiNG

Hong Kong mingles grittiness with fantasy, sophistication with earthiness – and Ferran Adria-style recipes with hawker-stall deliciousness

H

ONG KONG ain’t what it used to be. Or so, nearly everyone will tell you. In the old days, it was at the edge of the known world. Go any further and you would drop off into the abyss that was Communist China. The Union Jack still flew. The streets had reassuringly pronounceable names. And the bars were full of English people with made-up plummy accents who were called FILTH (“Failed in London? Try Hong Kong”) behind their backs. Then Hong Kong went back to Communist China. And Communist China stopped being very Communist. The investment bankers and corporate hot-shots overflew Hong Kong on their way to the Continental mass of China, looking for deals. The Chinese created their own Hong Kong in the newly redeveloped city of Shanghai. Singapore offered itself as an alternative to all those people who loved the old Hong Kong but weren’t sure what to do after the handover. (“We speak better English,” said the Singaporeans. “And we are a lot cleaner.” Both true, of course.) And so Hong Kong plods along today, robbed of its historical and strategic importance, unsure of what the future holds, trapped forever in a cleft between Shanghai and Singapore. But because I am too young to remember very much of the pre-handover Hong Kong, today’s Hong Kong is the only Hong Kong I know. And no matter what they may say about its decline, I like it a lot. The new Shanghai seems to me too much like a forgery: part real city that few Westerners (or Indians, for that matter) ever get to see, and part bright new designer-label city that looks as though it was dreamt up a decade ago by a dozen Western architects in the First Class lounge of some anonymous international airport (which it probably was...). But Hong Kong mingles grittiness with fantasy and Occidental with Oriental in ways that few other cities can manage. It is richer, cleaner and better organised than Bangkok. And it is not as boring and antiseptic as Singapore. After years of flying Thai to Hong Kong (very good and you can break journey in Bangkok, which is always a bonus for me) I flew Air India. You can say what you like but this was my second international flight with Air India in two months – the first was to Paris some weeks ago – and I am one satisfied customer. Yes, the food can be so-so and they can’t be bothered to design a proper Club Class meal service (it all comes on a single tray, not courseby-course as in proper airlines) but the planes are new, the seats are comfortable, the crews are enthusiastic in a plumpish, vastly-experienced sort of

way and the on-time performance was perfect. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why more Indians don’t fly Air India. I stayed, not at the Mandarin, where I usually stay, but at the Conrad. This is a large modern hotel in Pacific Place, run by Hilton and rated by Michelin as being only slightly below Hong Kong’s big three (the Mandarin, The Peninsula and the Four Seasons). I was surprised, at first, by the hotel’s ranking. But having stayed there, I can understand it. Rooms are large and comfortable and while the service is not as stylised as the Mandarin or the Peninsula, it is much more efficient. You never have to wait for anything and nothing seems to go wrong. As Hilton plans to bring the Conrad brand (above a basic Hilton but below a Waldorf-Astoria in the current brand architecture) to India, this augurs well for the chain’s massive sub-continental expansion plans. I ate two outstanding meals. And one interesting one. The interesting meal was at Bo Innovation, a famous Hong Kong restaurant that is often written about in the global press because owner-chef Alvin Leung fuses myriad influences (French, Chinese, molecular etc) to create three daily show-offy menus consisting of a dozen or more small plates. (Iggy’s in Singapore has the same idea – and the food is better than Bo Innovation’s). My menu had some hits: a Ferran Adria-style homage to dim sum consisting of a quivering, jelly-like long bao (a bun) with the flavours of bao but a totally different texture. There was intense pigeon leg with local mushrooms. And amazing foie gras served with an ice-cream flavoured with a local Chinese leaf. (Sort of like a tamarind-ice cream). There were some gimmicks – a bubbling milkshakelike drink with the flavour of preserved egg and pickled ginger. And the chocolate dessert was served with cold sandalwood smoke. And there were some misses. A dish of red prawn with local noodles as re-interpreted by Alvin was boring. An attempt to recreate the flavour of chilli crab did not work. A pointless tomato dish was rescued by an accompaniment of jellied white tomato consommé shaped into a marshmallow by the use of the chemical methyl-cellulose (all very Heston-Ferran in conception). Overall, it was a good experience but one that did not come cheap. My menu cost HK$ 1,280 (around R7,000 or more). And that’s without water, coffee, wine etc. On balance, you are better off in Singapore at Iggy’s. Alvin Cheung has one Michelin star for Bo Innovation which, I think, is about right. Yung Kee also has one Michelin star but I don’t think anyone who eats there cares very much about the Michelin inspectors or their opinion. The restaurant, spread over several floors in the heart of Hong Kong island (Wellington Street), is an institution, famous all over the world for its roast goose. As Yung Kee seats 1,000 people at a time and each table is sold at least twice at every meal, I shudder to think how many geese have laid down their lives for the patrons of this place. Needless to say (and I said this two years ago on these pages), the food is wonderful. Service is brisk but friendly (especially by Chinese standards) and though everybody raves about the goose, try the suckling pig. It is not very expensive either. You can eat well for HK $400 or less.

THE CITY

IS RICHER, CLEANER AND BETTER ORGANISED THAN BANGKOK

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HINDUSTAN TIMES WEEKLY MAGAZINE OCTOBER 30, 2011


PHOTO: DAVID ILIFF. LICENSE: CC-BY-SA 3.0

indulge SO, WHAT NEXT? Today, Hong Kong (left) is robbed of its historical and strategic importance, unsure of what the future holds. The best food I ate on my trip to the city was at Lei Bistro (below) PHOTOS COURTESY: LEI BISTRO

PHOTOS: GETTY IMAGES

SIU MAI

ROAST DUCK

THE MAN HIMSELF Bo Innovation’s owner-chef Alvin Leung fuses myriad influences to create three daily show-offy menus consisting of a dozen or more small plates

Both Bo Innovation and Yung Kee are world famous so it was something of a surprise to discover that the best meal I ate in Hong Kong was at a new, cheap restaurant in the basement of a shopping mall. Anyone who reads a good guide to Hong Kong restaurants will quickly realise that this is a city of restaurant monopolies and chains. Any time a restaurant succeeds in one part of Hong Kong, its owners quickly open another branch in another part of town. Usually the food is as good at all branches. So, for instance, the popular Lei Garden Cantonese restaurant chain now has nine branches in Hong Kong. The food is virtually indistinguishable at each branch so the poor Michelin inspectors are left with no choice but to give one star to seven out of the nine Lei Gardens. (Hong Kong is possibly the only city in the world where Michelin gives so many stars to the same restaurant at so many different locations!). The Lei Garden restaurants are good value (about half the price or less of hotel restaurants of similar standing) but the owners obviously decided that they wanted a younger, less affluent crowd. So they opened Lei Bistro in the basement of the Times Square mall in Causeway Bay. This was the cheapest restaurant I ate at in Hong Kong (according to Michelin, it should cost under HK$ 100150 per head but I ate the whole menu – on your behalf, of course, dear reader – so I spent considerably more). But it was also the best. When I called to book, it took them a while to find an English speaker to answer the phone and while I am used to being the only Indian in the restaurant in Hong Kong, this was the only occasion on this trip when I was the only non-Chinese. The crowd was young (under 30) and not overly affluent (unlike say, Bo Innovation where the English couple at the next table struck up a conversation and asked how I thought Alvin compared with Heston Blumenthal) The menu was essentially “Chinese Food’s Greatest Hits.” There was a version of the soup dumpling made famous by the Taiwanese chain Din Tai Fung, which was nearly as good as the original. Pan-fried Shanghai dumplings had just the right texture. The roast duck was juicy. The cubes of barbecued, crispy pork (the best version in India is at Bombay’s Leela) were outstanding. The noodles with chicken and sprouts had a hawker-stall deliciousness to them. The siu mai were worthy of a fine dim sum restaurant. Only one dish, which seemed out of place in this menu, the fried rice with prawns and foie gras, did not work.

SOUP DUMPLING

GOOSING AROUND Yung Kee, which seats a thousand people at a time, is famous for its roast goose

Lei’s Bistro already has one Michelin star. And it is packed out night after night. But don’t worry. This is Hong Kong. There will probably be six Michelin-starred branches by next year! Lest you think I spent all my time in Hong Kong eating, let me also state that I made the journey to Stanley’s Market. Tourists go there for the market, which frankly isn’t up to much – two rows of stalls selling the sort of stuff two thousand stalls sell at lower prices at Bangkok’s Chatuchak Market – but the surprise is that Stanley’s exists at all. It is a small village on the outskirts of Hong Kong (about 20 minutes by cab from the Conrad) and to reach it, you drive past the cliffs and seashore, plus the expensive mansions of Repulse Bay. A mere ten minutes from Pacific Place and suddenly the Hong Kong of tall buildings has vanished, its place taken by sea, sand, hills and trees. I ate on the crowded waterfront (it was a Saturday), full of families and the bawling children of white expats, but a single Wagyu burger and two Tsingtao beers (at Rocksalt, an Australian-themed restaurant on the waterfront) were all it took, for me to forget I was minutes away from a big city. So, here’s my view. I love Bangkok. It is one of my favourite cities in the world. I love eating in Singapore which is probably Asia’s gourmet capital. I’m not wild about the designer theme-park that is modern Shanghai. And there is no Asian capital that is quite as wonderful as Delhi. But Hong Kong is special. It is like no other place. It is sophisticated and down-to-earth at the same time. It is funky and still basic. It is rich but still offers hope to the rest of us. I do love it. As you can probably tell.

HINDUSTAN TIMES WEEKLY MAGAZINE OCTOBER 30, 2011

13

NOODLES WITH CHICKEN AND SPROUTS

LEI BISTRO

WAS THE CHEAPEST RESTAURANT I ATE AT. THE MENU WAS WAS ESSENTIALLY “CHINESE FOOD’S GREATEST HITS”


indulge listen Shjip In A Bottle eat |

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PHOTO: ANDREW PAYNTER

download central

Sanjoy Narayan

If you’re yearning for a nice sailing trip, look no further than Wooden Shjips

I

HAVE NOT come across anyone who has heard the 1960s song Wooden Ships (written by David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Paul Kantner) and not liked it. I’m sure you remember the song. It begins with a sort of dialogue between Stills and Crosby: Stills: If you smile at me, I will understand ’Cause that is something everybody everywhere does in the same language. Crosby: I can see by your coat, my friend, you’re from the other side, There’s just one thing I got to know, Can you tell me please, who won? Crosby: Say, can I have some of your purple berries? Crosby: Yes, I’ve been eating them for six or seven weeks now, haven’t got sick once. Stills: Probably keep us both alive. Then, of course, the beautiful chorus and the rest of the song follows. Wooden Ships was on the 1969 album, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and after I first heard it, that vinyl disc was played and played and played till it got seriously scratched and couldn’t be played again. It had such great songs – Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, Helplessly Hoping, Marrakesh Express, Guinnevere… but my favourite was Wooden Ships. In a sense, in the early 1970s when I first heard the song and the album, it defined the course that my taste in rock music would take. It was also my first brush with psychedelic folk rock. It is a curious coincidence that my most recent brush with psychedelic rock is in some way related to the song that I just quoted. Quite recently, when I came across a modern day San Francisco band that spells its name as Wooden Shjips, I naturally became interested enough to give them a listen. They are a five-year-old band with five albums (two of which are compilations of singles). They play a brand of music that I would call rough-and-ready psychedelia: lots of fuzz-toned guitars, keyboard drones, throbbing but repetitive rhythms. True, there are vocals but they’re like the first thin layer of a multi-layered winter outfit. The focus, very clearly, is on the music. You can find Wooden Shjips either irresistibly hypnotic or very, very boring. That is true for most psychedelic jam bands, although I wouldn’t say the Shjips are a jam band. I started my trip with Wooden Shjips’ 2009 album Dos. It has five songs, two of them over 10 minutes long and comprises repetitive notes and a fuzzy drone-y sound that takes a bit of time to get used to. The very first time I heard them, I tried listening to the lyrics. Bad idea. You can’t make out the words – they are, as I said, the thinnest layer in a multi-layered sound – and even if you do, they are too abstract to waste time on. Some reading up on the Shjips revealed that Erik “Ripley” Johnson, their frontman and vocalist, began the group with the intention of getting non-musicians to create music. In their early days, they

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CRUSIN’ ALONG Wooden Shjips (above) began with the intention of getting non-musicians to create music. Their 2009 album, Dos (right), takes some time getting used to. The latest album, West (below) is less repetitive

experimented with trying to get people to play instruments that they never had. All that is past now and, if you listen to their albums, it is pretty clear that all four members of the band (on guitar, bass, drums and organ) are talented and produce minimalist sounds that somehow gel to create a dreamy, ethereal effect. After the first few listens to Dos, I realised that the band appears to use vocals as an addition to complement the sounds of the other instruments and I rather liked that concept, albeit as a novelty. Shjips has a new album out – West – this year and the sound on that is even more agreeable. The repetitiveness of notes is less than on Dos, the album I heard first, and the throb of the bass and drums along with the psychedelic guitar riffs is rather nice – only, of course, if you like your OVERDRIVE music to transport you away from I played Crosby, Stills & Nash over the humdrum and don’t care if the and over till it got seriously scratched lyrics are a bit incoherent… indistinct even. Indeed, on one of the tracks in West, I believe they play the vocals in reverse. As if that matters. I, for one, didn’t care and didn’t notice! Wooden Shjips won’t appeal to you if you’re looking for the conventional sort of songs but if you are a fan of Lou Reed’s Velvet Underground or even the Doors (both bands that have purportedly influenced the Shjips sound), you might want to check them out. And, in case you don’t want to shell out for entire albums, there’s a free podcast of live versions of several songs from their latest album, West (to which I’ve linked in the web version of DC). It could be a nice sailing trip for your ears. To give feedback, stream or download the music mentioned in this column, go to http://blogs.hindustantimes.com/download-central, follow argus48 on Twitter or visit our website: www.hindustantimes.com/brunch

HINDUSTAN TIMES WEEKLY MAGAZINE OCTOBER 30, 2011


indulge play Multi-Level Frustration eat | listen |

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LOOKS GOOD The Logitech-Squeezebox (below) has retro looks but smart brains while the Squeezebox Duet (right) has a full screen remote

Setting up multi-room audio? Come, join me in my quest!

techilicious

Rajiv Makhni

WELL DESIGNED The Logitech Squeezebox Touch has great ergonomics

I

’M BACK with my quest for home entertainment nirvana almost dumb-proof to set up and sounds and looks good. and this time I’m frustrated and flummoxed. My home But... It costs a lot, the speaker unit isn’t really audiophile level theatre is coming along nicely (only on paper till now) and I (you’ll need to buy two speakers per room to get real stereo), if will post my progress here. As of now, it’s my second quest you want to go with just the amp and supply your own speakers that is making me sweat bricks: having a multi-room audio setup then the cost is prohibitive, it doesn’t have a USB port to play that is easy, doesn’t cost a bomb, sounds really good and also has music without the mesh network, needs extra equipment to create the mesh network and it doesn’t play all hi-def lossless the flexibility to do all things musical. Let me first take on the first criticism that I will obviously face. music formats (and I’m not re-encoding my entire music Why do I need a multi-room audio setup? Isn’t it just a nerdy, collection for this). geeky and very techie fixation to have to do something different from others? Isn’t a good music setup in one room good enough? LOGITECH SQUEEZEBOX TOUCH Well, thankfully here I have some pretty good answers. Music in What it is: Logitech making an audiophile product sounds like every room is now a necessity, different people in a house have an oxymoron, but it’s true. Logitech acquired SlimDevcies, a different needs, having house-wide music-playing capabilities company that shook up the tech world a few years back with negates having a TV in each room of the house and good music some serious equipment. The SqueezeBox range is again can literally transform the mind and please the soul. So, even if it extensive, (built-in speaker, Net streaming radio, a boombox that a little bit of an overkill, my need for whole house multi-room has been strangely discontinued, the Touch and the Duet for adding your own speakers and controller apps for phones and audio is a full-blown project. And I’m failing spectacularly. Let me now define what I am looking for. It’s not a wish list, it’s Tablets). My choice here was the Touch. A nice looking piece of not a utopian dream. I’m not trying to make this into an audio- equipment, a big touchscreen, intelligent enough to increase font phile holy grail – it’s pretty much what everybody should be size on the screen when you use the remote from across the aiming for. I need audio in most rooms of the house; it should be room, indexes music according to tags or folder, nice DAC built able to play all the digital music I have (FLAC, Apple Lossless in and priced pretty well. and MP3) from a single source; each system should also be able But... It needs its own server running on a computer (thus you to take a USB flash drive that has music on it; I should be able to have to have a computer on all the time), the USB port on it is a control them all with a single controller; I should be able to serious hit or miss (plays only some drives, needs USB hard stream high quality Internet radio (Pandora, Spotify, Groove- drives to be powered as it can’t handle the power needs, will Shark) through them natively and I shouldn’t be expected to run stutter and stop if you have too many songs on a drive) and can have issues if you have a lot of traffic on your WiFi hoops and jump ropes to set it up. I didn’t think it network as it doesn’t create a mesh of its own. was a tough list of wants. Boy, was I wrong! There are some problems common to both. The The first option I threw out was the specialist big one is that both aren’t available in India setups. The costs are so exorbitant that officially and I find picking up things every note of music coming out of the from ‘specialist shops’ akin to playing final system installed would be truly Russian roulette. These kind of things painful to the ear and the wallet. You realneed guarantees and some fly-by-night ly can’t enjoy music if it costs more than ‘Box Seller’ isn’t going to give you that. your house to listen to it. The second The other big one isn’t to do with the option out of the windows was Apple TV product but with Net streaming radio as as it restricts you to Apple-only formats a whole. Almost every good one caters and hacking wasn’t what I was looking at. to either the US or Europe and blocks After extreme research, massive experiNet connections and IP addresses from mentation and browsing through discusIndia. Now I wouldn’t do anything illegal sion forums across the world my choices MANAGE WELL ever but using a VPN isn’t illegal (as I do were whittled down to two. Control all your Sonos music from desktops, need it for my other work) and that phones and dedicated controllers works wonders for making sure that my SONOS IP doesn’t get blocked :) What it is: This is the Apple of the audio So, as of now, my quest remains just world – from look, feel, packaging, style, ease that –a quest. Maybe somebody out of setup and execution, I’m sure Steve Jobs there has found the solution. Write in to set this company up secretly. The choicme and tell me how you’ve solved your es are many (single speakers that have multi-room audio problem. I will thank everything built in, amps that can play you multiple times. your speakers and dedicated versus controller apps that can be used on Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, phones and Tablets). Basically a Sonos Technology, NDTV and the anchor of product creates a mesh network on TWO TO TANGO Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3. top of your own WiFi network, finds your The Sonos S5 sounds nice but you will need two Follow Rajiv on Twitter at music and plays it through the speaker, is of these to fill the room with stereo sound twitter.com/RajivMakhni

HINDUSTAN TIMES WEEKLY MAGAZINE OCTOBER 30, 2011

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Face-Off

PHOTOS: THINKSTOCK

What do you see when you look into the mirror?

spectator

Seema Goswami

SEEING IS BELIEVING Have you thought about what a baby sees when she looks at herself in the mirror?

H

AVE YOU ever thought about what a baby sees when she looks at herself in the mirror? Does she wonder who this other little person is staring back at her? Does she puzzle over the fact that she can’t touch this person even when both of them are reaching for one another? Does she look down on her clothes and wonder why the baby in the mirror is wearing the same thing? Or does she, by some intuitive leap, understand that the face looking back at her so solemnly from the mirror is her own? And if she does, then at what stage does this understanding dawn? I was trying to work this out as I idly watched my friend’s young daughter sitting transfixed in front of a fulllength mirror. She smiled uncertainly at her reflection; she tapped experimentally on the glass to see if she could get to the other side; she pressed her nose against it and then snapped back looking startled at the distorted image reflected back at her; and finally she summoned me over with an imperious finger to help her solve this new mystery the world had presented to her. I sat down next to her on the floor, pointed to my reflection in the mirror and then at myself. She looked back and forth, a glimmer of understanding in her eye. I pointed to her reflection and then back at her. Suddenly, her face lit up with the glow of recognition. That baby in the mirror. It was her. That was what she looked like. That was what the world saw when it looked at her. We soon tired of this game and moved on to something else. But the little interlude got me thinking. As we grow older, what do we see in the mirror? Is that how the world sees us as well? And how accurate a reflection is it of how we feel inside? As a child, the mirror was my best friend. I would spend hours preening in front of it, trying on my mother’s make-up, my elder sister’s grown-up clothes, my grandmother’s saris, my father’s clunky reading glasses. Every new item made me look a little bit different; it was almost like trying on personas for size before I decided on which one suited me best. As I grew a little older, my relationship with the mirror evolved as well. The only child in a family of grown-ups, the mirror became almost a playmate. I would conjure up imaginary friends and set up a dialogue with them as I sat in front of the dressing table. I would try on expressions, a laugh here, a frown there, a giggle for punctuation and try and work out how I appeared to people I met in the real world. Then, teenage struck and the mirror turned into my enemy. Suddenly,

all I saw in the mirror were my flaws. My forehead was too short, my nose too stubby, my cheeks too fat, and was that a fresh pimple sprouting on my chin? It seemed to be growing larger every minute I stared at it. No matter how hard I tried, I found it impossible to love the image reflected back at me. And even though now I marvel at the thin waist and pert bum of my teen years – and don’t even start me on my perfectly-toned arms – at the time I hated, just hated, what I saw in the mirror. Did things change? Of course they did. The raging hormones of teenage calmed down and I began to see myself for what I was. Not great, but not absolutely vile either. And thinking back, I can faintly remember about a nanosecond in my late 20s when I was actually happy with what I saw in the mirror. It was as if I had finally grown into my face, all the bits and pieces had made peace with one another, and I could smile back at the mirror when I looked into it. And that self-confidence helped me through the next decade or so. But now with incipient middle-age creeping through the lines on my face (and my neck, oh God, I’d hoped you’ve have the decency not to bring up my neck!) I think that equanimity is not long for my world. Of late, I find myself re-arranging my features before I risk a look in the mirror. Cheeks ever so slightly sucked in, neck held straight, jowls tightened, lips raised in a half-smile. And it seems safer to do my makeup one feature at a time – a quick fix of kohl pencil, a smudge of undereye concealer, a dash of lipstick – and then risk a look at the sum of my parts. Aha, not so bad after all! And no, I’m not really deluded. It’s just that Nature comes to the rescue of women like me. Your eyesight becomes a little less perfect to go with the general decline of your features. And all those flaws that are so apparent in the harsh light of day are softened just a bit as you gaze at the ever-so-slightly blurred image in the mirror. It’s a bit like looking at a picture shot through a soft-focus lens. It is real all right, but just a tiny bit better for being a tad diffused. Take my advice. Accept it as the truth. In these matters, it’s best not to investigate too closely.

I CAN FAINTLY REMEMBER ABOUT

A NANOSECOND IN MY LATE 20S WHEN I WAS ACTUALLY HAPPY WITH WHAT I SAW IN THE MIRROR

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

HINDUSTAN TIMES WEEKLY MAGAZINE OCTOBER 30, 2011


Wellness

A five part series

HIGH BP

Hypertension can be a real danger, even at a young age by Amrah Ashraf

TWENTY FIVE year old Sourya Mitra, a because of the excessive training. Delhi-based freelance writer, had been Sourya had in fact missed two of the clearpreparing to run a full marathon. For six est symptoms of the otherwise asymptomonths, Sourya had been training hard to matic high blood pressure. He has been on build his core muscles, eating nutritious food, medication since. and had given up drinking. Weeks before the In his defence, he says, “I always thought marathon, he visited his general physician the dizziness was because I was training (GP) for a routine checkup and was diaghard. The palpitation did worry me, but I nosed with high blood assumed I was too young WHAT HAPPENED? pressure (BP) bordering to have a heart ailment. on hypertension. On Now I pop a pill everyday High BP in youngsters is the result of a being quizzed by his GP to keep my blood prescombination of reasons, including lack of about any symptoms he sure under control. I adequate exercise, stress, poor eating had noticed, Sourya said really wish I had paid habits, excessive intake of salt and fatty acids. Also, it’s possible that Sourya he had been experiattention to my sympwas underline hypertensive from encing palpitation toms and not tried to self childhood, and excessive training and dizziness but medicate myself.” only worsened the situation. amrah.ashraf@ assumed it was hindustantimes.com

WARNING SIGNS

Usually, hypertension is asymptomatic, especially in the young. But if you feel your performance dropping at school or work, or feel your concentration suddenly faltering, it should ring a bell in your head. Other symptoms like dizziness, palpitation, headaches and lethargy are also indicators of high blood pressure. High BP will in itself not kill you, but it can lead to organ damage. It also attacks the cardiovascular system, kidneys, eyes and brain.

THE SOLUTIONS

Even though a lot of youngsters suffer from high BP, usually it is not secondary

SHIKHA SHARMA

PART I

The unbearable lightness

of being

MIND BODY SOUL

casenotes

LIFESTYLE CHOICES

RED ALERT If you feel your performance dropping at work, take it seriously

hypertension. This arises out of ailments in the kidney or thyroid glands. Once secondary causes are ruled out, it is a matter of taking medicines and changing your lifestyle to get fit – by inculcating healthier habits like increasing fibre content in diet, exercising and reducing weight. Continue your medication till your BP comes under control and gradually reduce the dose.

It might not sound appealing, but you have to start young. You can eat what you desire – but make sure you complement your diet with fresh vegetables, fruits and fibre. Since stress contributes to hypertension, reduce it by meditating. Exercising is very important; no one is asking you to build packs of muscles, but walking everyday for 20 minutes is ideal. Also, stop smoking and restrict alcohol consumption to safe levels. Parents should not put stress on kids as that could lead them to develop underline hypertension. (Inputs by Dr VK Rastogi, consultant, internal medicine, Jaipur Golden Hospital)

NEXT WEEK: WHEN YOU BREAK A LEG...

AFTER PARTY

A

FTER THE festival of food, revelry and fun, it is time to rest, rejuvenate and let the body cleanse itself so that it can regain its balance and shape again. The previous week has been one of excess food and spirits, not to mention late nights and lack of sleep, so this week can be the one to prepare oneself for the upcoming wedding season. SLEEP: This is number one on the agenda. A good night’s restful sleep can take years off the face. Sleep also makes people relaxed, cheerful and takes away fine lines and sallow skin. Other activities which can induce deep relaxation are shava-asan, pranayam and chanting ‘Om’. REFLEXOLOGY: For all the ladies who have been wearing high heels last week, there is nothing like a session of reflexology. Soaking feet in warm water, followed by reflexology, is a treat for tired feet. SHIRODHARA: This is a must if one is tired as the treatment is a popular ayurvedic procedure used as a de-stressor. NECK AND SHOULDER MASSAGE: Coupled with flexibility exercises and hot pads, this can relieve days of knotted muscles and also relieve physical manifestations of stress. WATER, FRUIT AND HERBAL TEA DETOX: A day spent eating only fruit, and drinking only herbal teas and water is a definite way to detoxify one’s liver. A HOLIDAY: Spending a few hours away from laptops, iPads, BlackBerrys and other phones is a great way to relax. Constant use of devices can make people edgy and restless, and it creates irritability and frustration. One can spend a few hours in silence or listening to the sounds of nature. Nowadays, a lot of music for healing and meditation is available. Listening to such music synchronises the body rhythm. A WALK: Natural sunlight and an unhurried walk can cure many anxieties and gives a good perspective to things. A break from the constant hurried pace of rushing around is also a good idea, even if it’s just for a few hours. ask@drshikha.com PHOTOS: THINKSTOCK


Reel World

take a goodL In a refreshing turn, the costume designers of two new films stay away from brands. Instead, they raid street stalls and thrift stores to create unique looks by Udita Jhunjhunwala

AKI NARULA: SELECT FILMOGRAPHY: Bunty aur Babli, Don, Dostana, Tashan, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, Kambakkht Ishq, Rockstar, Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl, Agent Vinod, Barfee, Housefull 2 LOVES THE STYLING OF Gulzar’s Mausam, The Dirty Picture and The Namesake. “Since I am from Calcutta, I would have killed to have styled that film”

ROCKSTAR

hen Aki Narula read the W script of Imtiaz Ali’s Rockstar, his first thought was that Ranbir Kapoor’s character of Janardhan Jakhar, aka Jordan, cannot be a clichéd rockstar. “We set out to create our own Indian rockstar, which we have achieved with a juxtaposition of mulmul (vulnerability) and leather,” says Aki. The second thought was to create a wardrobe for Jordan. “So every chapter is a continuation of the chapter that has gone by. He wears something from Prague in Dharamshala and something from Kashmir in Prague. And almost everything was sourced in those places,” adds Aki who created 123 looks for Ranbir.

18

O

SCAR-WINNING costume designer Colleen Atwood once said: “Costume, hair and makeup can tell you instantly, or at least give you a larger perception of who a character is.” Imtiaz Ali’s Rockstar and Milan Luthria’s The Dirty Picture are two such films. While the former shows the angst of a Delhi teenager who finds rock stardom, the latter tells the real life story of southern siren Silk Smitha. Costume designers Aki Narula and Niharika Bhasin Khan share the process of creating characters.

Another character trait that is worked in subtly through costuming is Jordan’s affinity for collecting things. These are visible as souvenirs on the black thread around this neck and on the strap of his guitar, adorned with a boondi from his mother’s mangalsutra, his guitar blade, Free Tibet badges, the keys of his suitcase, feathers etc. “The film is about his journey, his life and the clothes change, connecting those chapters,” says Aki who did not rely on research or references but on instinct. “I knew that with every chapter I had to keep my eyes wide open in terms of what I noticed the local people or gypsies were wearing. I had to pick immediately and prepare the costumes overnight while we were on location. So my tailor had to travel everywhere with me.” He recounts how he bought a phiran from a salesman on the road in Kashmir. “But I bought the one he was wearing. There was such a stench from it that we emptied two cans of deodorant on it before Ranbir wore it.” For the Dharamshala chapter, quilts and shawls have been converted to costumes and many outfits were sourced from flea markets and vintage stores in Prague. “To give the home-grown feel, we got Punjabi women in north Delhi to knit sweaters because we figured that Janardhan’s mother either knitted sweaters for him or got them from a friend who knits. We have also kept him in the same two pairs of slightly tight, high waist jeans. The idea is that with every subsequent scene you never really forget the chapter he’s come from.”

AN INDIAN ROCKSTAR Jordan’s (played by Ranbir Kapoor) intricately styled and unusual wardrobe reflects the character’s journey and the various phases he goes through. Here are two signature looks

K

The guitar strap is full of embellishments

Canvas shirt bought in Prague and then altered to fit

Salwars made from checked curtain fabric bought in Prague

Salvation Army boots

HINDUSTAN TIMES WEEKLY MAGAZINE OCTOBER 30, 2011

Colourful patch, a cutting from a jester jacket picked up in Prague


SIZZLING SMITHA Silk Smitha’s (played by Vidya Balan) outfits tell the story of the rise of sexy south Indian film star. Check out these two sultry, filmi looks

NIHARIKA BHASIN KHAN SELECT FILMOGRAPHY: Khoya Khoya Chand, Rock On!, Band Baaja Baaraat, Delhi Belly LOVES THE STYLING OF Monsoon Wedding, Dil Chahta Hai, Kareena Kapoor in Kambakkht Ishq, Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai and Helen’s films. “I’ve used Helen influences for the cabaret numbers in The Dirty Picture.”

THE DIRTY PICTURE

verything South Indian – that E was the starting point for costume designer Niharika Bhasin

Khan when she was enlisted to style The Dirty Picture based on the life of Silk Smitha. She watched many of Silk’s films and researched South India and South Indian films, fabrics and saris. Niharika’s biggest challenge was to dress Vidya Balan to look “amazing” and be every man’s fantasy without looking “slutty or cheap.” The canvas was vast, challenging and vibrant, but she had to be careful that it did not become garish or a caricature. “The first time we did a look test with Naseeruddin Shah, I got carried away because I was so excited with the South Indian thing. Everything was beautiful and detailed but we felt that we had made a caricature. We reminded ourselves that we were making a

The outfit has been accessorised with mogra jewellery

Amrapali outfit with paisley motif. The seethrough fabric is important because it is a waterfall song and Niharika wanted seethrough sleeves for that wet look

south Indian film but for a north Indian audience. And that we were addressing a very serious subject – about an actress who kills herself – and you don’t want to be laughed at,” says Niharika who created 130 costumes for Balan alone, besides dressing Shah, Emraan Hashmi, Tusshar Kapoor and the secondary characters. Besides being a period film, within the story, Niharika also had to account for the passage of time – from when the girl comes to the big city from the village (where she is dressed in printed petticoat-like

sourced from around Mumbai, Vidya volunteered to accompany Niharika to Matunga, a traditionally south Indian enclave in Mumbai, to shop for saris, lungi fabrics and accessories. Says Niharika, “Putting together the colour palette of the time and choosing the right fabrics was very important. Hair, make up and wardrobe were really in synch. And the art direction and cinematography departments have made me look good.” brunchletters@hindustantimes.com

Hoop earrings and bangles from Mumbai street shops

Jacket sourced from a rental store in Prague

Mulmul kurta cloth bought in Mumbai and dyed

skirts with long blouses and a chunni) to her days of struggle when she shows skin, to her stardom and finally her decline. “There are four phases of transformation during which everything changes – the texture of fabrics, body shape etc. At times I have had to tighten the outfits to ooze fat. As a designer, you have to work that in,” explains Niharika adding, “I have never worked so much on a film. We had look books, drawings and swatches for every scene.” While almost all the materials, accessories and garments were

Tie-up blouse with bell sleeves

Salwar pants again, but more velvety in look and feel

Machine embroidered chikan fabric with mirrors bought from a Lucknow shop, then dyed purple in Mumbai

HINDUSTAN TIMES WEEKLY MAGAZINE OCTOBER 30, 2011

19


Powder Room Glamorous So poker-straight hair is out. Here’s what’s in (a) Sixties-inspired soft curls (far right) that look natural, as if no work was done on them and (b) a sexily messy look (far below), an expression of the new world with all its chaos. Easy, swears our stylist!

hair well. Apply serum. Then from the top, exert pressure and glide the flat iron towards the bottom of your hair. Just like you would use a comb

STEP 2 Separate the leftover, to-be-curled hair into 3/4 inch sections with a tailcomb. Roll each section straight up with velcro rollers.

STEP 3 Roll up all the parts you

STEP 4 To set the hair in place, spray mousse on it. After this, you can blow-dry the curled-up hair for 5 minutes.

STEP 5 Softly uncurl the hair

STEP 6 With a tailcomb, gently arrange hair and separate curls. Spray more mousse to ensure the curls stay in place.

in the same way and direction you’d curled it. Avoid hair getting tangled in the curlers.

want curled. Rollers are good for billowy waves. Now count till 10 for patience. Why do you think actors get paid so much?

LET YOUR HAIR

Bedraggled

STEP 1 Comb

STEP 1 Pin up the hair you are not going to curl with several clips. This includes the hair on the top of your head and at the nape.

STEP 2 Take sections of hair

and place them in the crimper. Press for two minutes. Apply mousse. Optional: leave in conditioner before the process

STEP 3 Leave some crimped hair as it is. Take the rest of the crimped hair and open it out gently. Now, hold the ends and ruffle the hair up for an unkempt look

I

T TRULY is the season for excesses. When we say excesses, we mean excesses – wild sex under warm quilts; rich, mouth-watering food; layers and layers of lush silks and velvets. Winter lets the devil out in all of us – and especially, our hair. “Hairstylists get most creative at this time as the weather allows people to sport a range of styles. It also allows them to use hair products (that in any other season would make you sweat),” says the Aman Salon’s creative director Rodlphe Hequet (the man, rather the hand, behind the hairstyles you see on this page). He has created four styles (two each for women and men) that are easy (or so he says) to do at home. But remember, winter is also the time when your hair needs most care. So air-dry rather than blow-dry (heat rids the hair of moisture). Use leave-in conditioners and protective oils. They coat the hair and protect it from winter dryness or damage from dryers. Heat damage can cause spiltends, frizz and breakages. Use styling equipment at low heat and speed as high speed rids the scalp of moisture. Flatten only clean, dry hair with a straightening rod. Even minute moisture in the hair will burn it otherwise. Apply thermal protection spray before you iron. Do not use any product on the roots, just on the length of the hair. Lastly, follow the steps at your own risk. parul.khanna@hindustantimes.com

WHAT YOU NEED! Straightening iron To flatten and neaten sections of the hair

Crimper Works just like the flat

iron (applies heat and pressure on hair). Instead of straightening, it crimps (makes hard, small waves) Volumnising spray Apply on messy parts of the hair to give it

body. Apply on the parts you want to and flip hair upside down Hair mousse To set the crimped as well as straightened hair Leave-in-conditioner Coats the hair with moisture. Protects against heat Artistic hands No, seriously

FINAL Gives a very messy, dragged-out-of-a-hedge (says the ed) look.

A mix of straight as well as curly/crimped and unkempt, uncombed hair.

HINDUSTAN TIMES WEEKLY MAGAZINE OCTOBER 30, 2011

Classic

Hairstyles for men are far and few. We (Rodlphe and us) hunted hard and found these two current hot looks: Clean and safe (right) and funky and fun (below)

Contemporary STEP 1 Take hair mousse in one hand and

then with both hands apply to your hair. Push hair back all the while


WHAT YOU

NEED! Hair dryer (optional):

To dry and fix hair in place

Velcro rollers:

Easily available in any cosmetics shop, they stick to the hair without pins

Hair clips:

FINAL Part straight part wavy, the style is often sported by Hollywood celebrities on the red carpet for its soft, sexy and retro appeal

DOWN

PHOTOS: RAJ K RAJ, MODELS: PRIYANKA AND KARAN, COURTESY: ELITE MODEL MANAGEMENT, LOCATION: THE AMAN SALON

Crimped, curled, ‘moussed’, set and blow dried. If you thought it wasn’t possible to do any of these things at home, allow us to prove you wrong. by Parul Khanna Tewari

STEP 1

Side-part your hair (choose whichever side looks best). Comb hair on both sides towards the cheeks (not downwards or backwards). Flatten hair on the top. Now apply gel.

FINAL George

Clooney sports a variation of this look (he combs the sides backwards instead of towards the cheeks). Finish off by blowdrying the hair.

Rodlphe Hequet, creative director, The Aman Salon, Lodhi Road, Delhi, has styled all the four looks. He worked in Paris for ten years.

WHAT YOU NEED!

Fine toothcomb Finely combs the hair.

Works best with men’s hair as it gives a very neat and fuss-free finish. Hair gel To hold and mould the hair in its place so that the hair looks neat and trueto-the-style. Blow dryer (Optional). Can use in the end to dry off the gel and cement the style.

STEP 2 Start to blow dry. With your hands, keep pushing the hair back from the crown and also the sides.

To secure hair in its place Tailcomb: The top teases the hair, gives it volume and the tail helps to part the hair into sections while styling Mousse: Gives a wet look. If you use a blow dryer on it, gives volume and holds hair in place

STEP 3 Now with your hands, push the hair back for about three minutes to ensure you get enough volume

FINAL This look is a

smarter version of the spiked look. Here, the hair looks natural and not spiked. Also, hair from the sides of the head is pushed back to give an overall sense of volume.

other

TRENDS

FRONT WAVE Sported by Mark Wahlberg (alas, you probably can’t look like him even if you copy him, but hey, this is just a reference image). This is in fact, a popular style from the ’80s that is making a comeback. PHOTOS: GETTYIMAGES It has a very windswept, sexy, natural look. SPIKY Yes, yes, we know you have been sporting it for years but this is one hairstyle that doesn’t seem to go out of vogue. In an asymmetrical cut, part your hair on the side and create spikes on the top and on the sides (check out Taylor Lautner). PONYTAIL The humble ponytail, till now restricted to the gym or the kitchen (while washing dishes), has become a hot style. (Nicole Kidman wears one). Tie it at brow level, make it playful by leaving flirty strands SIDE BRAID A hairstyle of the plebians of many centuries ago, the braid (especially the side braid over the shoulder), is back. Works if you have really long hair. But don’t leave trailing strands on the back. And keep it loose.

WHAT YOUNEED! Hair dryer To dry off the mousse and fix the hair in place. Hair mousse To give volume to the hair. Mousse gives volume and also makes the style look natural. Gel flattens the hair.

21


PERSONALAGENDA AGENDA PERSONAL One of the best known South African cricketers of his times and the only cricketer to be awarded a Man of the Match for fielding, Jonty Rhodes is surprisingly fit for his age. Perhaps that’s the reason he launched his line of wellness and endurance products recently. Besides being the fielding coach of the IPL team Mumbai Indians, Jonty loves Indian food, especially dal makhni and gulab jamuns. Ask him about his rumoured entry in the Bigg Boss house and Jonty says, “It would have been exciting but as of now I’m not in it!” One word that describes you best?

Smiling.

If a traffic constable hauled you up, what would you do?

Usually I do everything as per the rules but even then if I’m hauled up, I would say namaste, sorry for speeding, tell me what is the next step now.

Your first kiss was…

I was extremely shy and this girl had been dared by my teammates to come and kiss me. So, I actually kept a Coke can in my mouth and she kissed me on my cheek.

What makes you feel sexy? Cooking with my apron on.

Which superhero would you like to be and why?

I would want to be Superman simply because I hate his outfit and would love to change it.

A tune you can’t get out your head? Every breath you take by the Police. What did you do with your first paycheque?

Y IMAGES PHOTOS: GETT

CRICKETER

JONTY RHODES PHOTO:THINKSTOCK

22

I enjoy Indian food a lot and love gulab jamuns and kulfi too. .

You are late for work and all the roads are jammed. Choose a mode of transport: a cycle, a horse or a skateboard. Why?

A cycle. I think it’s the best bet to get me wherever I want to go.

Earth’s crowded and chock full of trash. Choose another planet.

I’m not sure what planet I will choose but whatever it will be, I’m going to be comfortable for sure.

If you could have had a star perform at your wedding, who would it have been and why? Sting. Would have loved to have him.

What makes your day?

Having learnt something.

What screws it up?

The one law you would break if you could get away with it?

Love is…

Speeding and also, if possible, the law of life and death.

Do you love Luv Storys?

I usually don’t have time to read all this, I prefer non-fiction.

If you could have chosen your own

Being at the same level as I was in the beginning. ... A crazy feeling.

If you were the last person left on earth, what would you do?

Make the most of the time and surf to my heart’s content.

— Interviewed by Veenu Singh

A PLACE WHERE YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE LOST FOR A MONTH?

THE FIRST TIME I HAD VINDALOO, IT FELT REALLY WEIRD

MADAGASCAR 2. I LOVED IT

Share a secret with us… you can trust us, we’ll only print it!

I earned `500 for playing for the state team and used that to pay for a course I was doing.

THE WEIRDEST THING THAT EVER WENT INTO YOUR MOUTH?

THE LAST MOVIE THAT MADE YOU CRY?

name, what would you have chosen?

I think Jonty is perfect. I was actually christened Jonathan, but I think Jonty is perfect.

GULMARG. I WOULD REALLY LOVE TO GO AND SKI THERE

PHOTO:THINKSTOCK

HINDUSTAN TIMES WEEKLY MAGAZINE OCTOBER 30, 2011



Hindustantimes Brunch 30th October 2011