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SUNDAY MAGAZINE, JULY 31, 2011 Free with your copy of Hindustan Times

● Can there be a monsoon without the bhutta? ● What should you read on rainy afternoons? ● Is it possible to look elegant when you’re wet? ● What is the baarish-Bollywood connection?

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You might be slim/muscular, but are you fit? Can you last through any of these three routines mentioned in our fitness story? Read an exclusive preview from Brunch Quarterly to find out!

FEED BACK Against all odds

THE COVER story (The Next Chapter, July 24) was a fabulous read. It clearly showed today’s publishing world where a number of publishing houses are coming up. It is an inspiration for people who want to make it big in the world of publishing as well as upcoming authors.

“A consistent gymming routine will only shape and tone your body. It does nothing for your overall fitness,” says Crossfit trainer Piyush Pandey. “And people who do yoga and Pilates can claim to be healthy, not fit.”


Here Comes The Rain Again

We’re Logged On

Earlier we heard the radio to discover new music; now we simply go online

THIS IS with reference to Tavishi Paitandy Rastogi’s article Kamla Comes Home (10 July). I have also read the responses to the story. Kamla’s situation is faced by many and I feel that it is a question of maturity – you might not get respect even if you work outside; on the other hand, if you conduct yourself with dignity as a ‘stay-at-home’ educated mother, it might put you on a ‘better’ pedestal. A helpful mother-in-law or an efficient nanny may be the answer, but do you want your child to be reared using systems which are not relevant in today’s world? Also, with online and other options available, one can work from home too. At the end of the day, it’s more about making that extra buck rather than getting dressed and escaping the house! Lastly, it does not have to be permanent. One can always work once the children are self-dependent. I speak from experience because both my daughter-in-law and daughter have given up their high-profile jobs to look after their kiddos and I do see them enjoying parenting which they would not have experienced if I was looking after them.



And we love it more than ever before! Come, get drenched with us and learn how to best savour your corn, the monsoon magic of the movies and what books to read with the raindrops. Soak it all in!

Sarthak Negi The article based on the myths about tech products was absolutely brilliant. It helped me understand what all does help one to maintain one’s gadgets. Hats off! Ankur Dhawan Rajiv Makhni can i marry ur brain?? Rohini Murthy I didn’t get HT Brunch along with my paper today. I’m quite cross with my newspaper vendor for making my Sunday incomplete!! Salis Afaque ‘The Next Chapter’ is really a very attractive heading given to the cover story of this week’s HT BRUNCH!! Brunch crew members have very nicely described the changes in publishing in the last 20 years . :P Binoy Dass vir sanghvi is a food magician.

Corn On The Top



What would the monsoon be without the bhutta? We don’t dare to find out!


Elegance Ain’t Easy When Wet 10

The Hilton hotel chain now has massive opportunities in the non-luxury space

It’s hard to be elegant in the rain but not impossible. Read our trendy tips PERSONAL AGENDA

Tech Myths; The Nonsense and the Reality (Part 2)

The final part of finding new tech truths


Nikhil Dhawan 2days Brunch was awesome. Good job Brunch Team.

Dental student and winner of the Indian edition of the ‘Ford Super Model of the World’ Contest talks life with us

Calling All Tweeple @abir_sanyal I’d wish that @HTBrunch @virsanghvi dedicates an edition on ‘Street foods in India’

Back With A Bang PLAY



The Net Is The New Radio

Double Trouble

In a world that swears by political correctness, double standards are the rage


@marathonofhope Now following 6th most influential tweeters @udaychopra as per HTBrunch stats, lets c

Check out our weekly bloggers!

@preetsur Pure manipulation – despite 31 upset comments for story ‘Kamla Comes Home’, mainly positive responses were published?! @_nirmalya @rajivmakhni this was written on phone rt? ;)

The Weekly Khamba: RJ’s Secret Dossier: Raving, ranting and more. The myth, the icon, the Watch out – he bites avenging force

Pagal Papers: Comic Relief: Incisive insights from Fak- ‘Rezi Vastav’ by comic ing News’ Pagal Patrakar artist Rajneesh Kapoor!

Write to

4 POINT, CLICK, SNAP! The HT Brunch Photo Contest

@iratrivedi A fab article by Vikramaditya Singh on Kashmir in @htbrunch @GautamGhosh @amisht gets covered in @htbrunch today as one who self-published his book. Waiting for his second one!

Understanding Kamla

We are delighted to meet your ‘Perfect Pets’ as a part of this week’s theme. Now get ready for the next theme: ‘Bazaars’. Visit o tantimesbrunch for HT Brunc f The h Photo details. And don’t Co forget to check in- T ntest Declared! urn to pa ge 6 for side for last week’s details! results for the ‘Magical Monsoon’ theme.

And an all-access-pass to your favourite stories from this and past Brunch issues! EDITORIAL: Poonam Saxena (Editor), Kushalrani Gulab (Deputy Editor); Tavishi Paitandy Rastogi, Mignonne Dsouza, Veenu Singh, Parul Khanna Tewari, Pranav Dixit, Yashica Dutt

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


I HAVE been an avid reader of Brunch but the Kamla edition is the one closest to my heart. Today, I am forced to comment as I am amused by some of the feedback. For some reason, some respondents are under the impression that Kamla lacks identity. I don’t think they have really understood Kamla. Her decision to stay at home isn’t forced by circumstance, rather it’s her own choice and that is a mark of independence and ‘identity’. She doesn’t need to be ‘saved’ because she isn’t doomed to a life of ignominy. It’s as exhilarating as any other job, it’s just that success here is 100 per cent emotional. I would like to reiterate that the decision to ‘go out and work’ is an individual's choice and there is no right or wrong about it. So let’s leave it at that. — REKHA NAIR, via email

Cover image: Images Bazaar Cover design: Ashutosh Sapru

Monsoon Special

POINT, CLICK, SNAP! Winners of The HT Brunch Photo Contest!


ARMS WIDE OPEN Capturing the bliss of the monsoon


HANK YOU everybody for such a tremendous response to our POINT, CLICK, SNAP!: The HT Brunch Photo Contest. Your entries for our last theme ‘Magical Monsoon’ almost drowned us with joy! So, choosing from the hundreds of photographs on our Facebook page, the Hindustan Times Photo Editor T Narayan, selected the five best pictures and named the five best photographers –

Aavin Seth, Amar Bhandari, Anoop Ranjan Das, Dhaval J Patel and Kshitiz Sharma. Congratulations! We will soon contact the winners who will receive a subscription to Brunch Quarterly for one year. The rest of you can log on to hindustantimesbrunch to post pictures on this week’s theme: Bazaars. Also, we will choose a Grand Prize winner, from all winning entries! So, snap!

WATERY WORLD A view of a submerged Mumbai area during the monsoon

RAY OF HOPE Catching the morning sun after a dark night of rain



LONE RANGER A pedestrian on a rain-soaked road in Mahabaleshwar





PASSING YOU BY Seeing the world through the eyes of a mannequin

Monsoon Special

Corn On The What would the monsoon be without the bhutta? We don’t dare to find out, so here’s how to savour this seasonal snack by Prachi Raturi Misra


T ISN’T just umbrellas that pop up on the roads at the sign of the first showers of the monsoon. Stalls selling bhutta can also be seen everywhere and anywhere – selling the one snack that is most associated with the rains. It is impossible to walk past a steaming bhutta stall on a rainy day, and not have your mouth water at the sight of fresh corn just waiting to be roasted, smeared with masala and handed over, hot and piping, to you. Ever wondered what makes bhutta so irresistible in the rain? It’s the perfect combination of something hot, something spicy, and for the health-conscious, something very healthy. And of course, this street food, like most others, tastes best when had from a roadside stall. No matter how well you roast corn and flavour it with chaat masala at home, it will never have the taste and flavour of roadside bhutta. That, say corn sellers in Delhi, is because of the

unique masalas they mix to go along with the bhutta. Sharif, one such vendor, has a simple explanation backed by his knowledge of the ‘family business’ – six bhutta stalls in Delhi for about 25 years. He says, “The masala is the trick. No matter what you do, you can never make it like us. After all this is our work.” Sharif, his father and uncles, run the stalls that he says are huge crowd-pullers, especially in the monsoon. Ask him what goes into the masala and he says he doesn’t want to give away his trade secret. “All I can tell you is that we buy 16 kinds of khada (whole) masala and then grind it. That is what we have been doing for years,” explains Sharif. What makes their ‘family business’ special is also the chutney they use. Boiled bhutta is first doused with a generous heap of ground masala; then chutney made from tomatoes and tamarind is poured over it. Five seconds later, when the masala and chutney have made their way into the grooves, a little bit of lemon and rock salt finishes the delicious steaming maize for you. If your mouth has stopped watering, we’ll take you through more masala trails. If you like your bhutta roasted rather than boiled, the masala is usually a little different. Shankar, who has been selling roasted maize in Panchsheel Park for four years now, swears by his wife’s skills with the masala. “She mixes rock salt, jeera and chaat masala to make a yummy masala,

Tilnaaz makai aur kumb


Apple & fennel salad with corn SERVES: 4




FOR THE BALSAMIC DRESSING: INGREDIENTS Blend together 75 ml of extra 250 gm green apples virgin olive oil with 25 ml 100 gm tomatoes, diced balsamic vinegar. Add a pinch 150 gm fennel bulbs of salt to taste. 100 gm corn kernels 250 gm lollo rosso lettuce METHOD: Cut the fennel and apple finely 250 gm iceberg lettuce 100 ml balsamic dressing into a bowl. Add the corn, walnuts and diced tomatoes. 50 gm walnuts Drizzle the dressings over the 5 gm black pepper salad. Mix it lightly. Garnish 5 gm parsley with parsley and sprinkle 5 gm ginger cracked pepper. 7 gm lemon (Recipe courtesy Alain Coumont, 5 gm salt Founder, Le Pain Quotidien) HINDUSTAN TIMES SUNDAY MAGAZINE JULY 31, 2011

INGREDIENTS: 200 gm baby corn 5 gm sesame seeds 50 gm mushrooms 20 gm bell peppers, diced 10 gm curd 5 gm jeera powder 5 gm red chilli powder 5 gm ginger-garlic paste 12 gm salt (1 tsp) 4 satay sticks 20 gm desi ghee METHOD: Beat the curd and add the salt, red chilli powder, jeera powder and ginger-garlic paste to it. On a satay stick, arrange the baby corn, mushroom and bell peppers. Mix the above masala into it, then roll on white sesame seeds and grill till done.

(Recipe courtesy, Baluchi – Intercontinental the Lalit, Mumbai)


PAVAN K VERMA on Jan 1, 2011, in his column Hyde Park Corner, exclusively for


which makes my customers love my bhuttas,” he says with a smile, fanning the bhuttas, their magical smell floating in the monsoon air. According to Shankar, the three months from July to September are when maize sells well, thanks to the rain. Another vendor, Meera, reveals why this is so. “Mostly when it rains, people like to have something warm,” she smiles. Meera, however, does not mix her own masala - she picks it up from the Azadpur Mandi in Delhi when she picks up her stock of maize for the day. A trip to this mandi, considered the largest vegetable and fruit market in Asia, is a memorable one on our masala trail. Shaukat, who sits at the entrance of the maize corner in the mandi, selling packets of masala he picks from a local supplier in the area, says as many as 25 truckloads of maize make it out of the mandi in the monsoon. “I’ve been here for a decade and the monsoon is definitely the time when people love having bhutta,” he smiles, handing me a pinch of the masala to taste. The taste of the tangy masala still in my mouth, I finally make it to the popular masala shop in Azadpur Mandi that supplies bhutta masala to maize sellers in the mandi. Run by Shri Prakash Charan Sharma for 28 years, the shop is known for its bhutta masala, besides other spices. Sharma’s young son Rajeev sits behind heaps of masalas – chaat masala to bhutta

“Children disregard their mothers’ concerns and get drenched. Watching the curtain of rain outside, families sit contentedly and sip chai, and eat pakoras and freshly roasted bhuttas and succulent jamuns. It is festival time” VIR SANGHI in Rude Food :‘Tracking the bhutta story’, April 15, 2007

masala to chilly to coriander powder and garam masala, he has it all. Ask him what goes into the bhutta masala and he explains patiently, “Ajwain, kachri, dhania, kala namak, kali mirch, lal mirch, haldi and kaccha jeera.” Ask him how it’s different from his chaat masala and he says, “This has turmeric, which gives it a nice colour and yes, the jeera is not roasted. Roasted jeera can make the masala look darker, something that will not make the bhutta look so appealing.” Some masala trail we say.

“When the kernels had changed colour and before they could turn black, he would take the bhutta off the coals and ask how spicy I wanted it. My answer was always the same: as spicy as possible. So, the bhuttawallah would take a wedge of lemon, it into a mass of chilli BHUTTA IS dunk powder and other spices and THE PERFECT then smear my bhutta with a COMBINATION delicious chilli-lime mixture”


Makai vadi INGREDIENTS: 1 cup yellow corn kernels, crushed 1 cup coriander leaves (kothimbir) 1 cup gram flour 1 tbsp rice flour 1 tbsp ginger-chilli paste 1 tsp roasted sesame seeds 1 tsp lemon juice 1 tsp turmeric powder 1/4 tsp asafetida 1/4 tsp sodium bicarbonate (soda) Salt to taste Oil for frying PHOTO: MCT

METHOD: Chop coriander leaves finely. Mix the gram flour and rice flour. Add ginger-chilli paste, sesame seeds, lemon juice, turmeric powder, asafoetida and salt to the above mixture. Add some water to make a thick batter (dosa batter consistency) and mix well to remove any lumps. Grease a flat vessel approx 8" x 8". Pour the batter into the vessel. In a pressure cooker, steam this for about 25 minutes, or grease a microwavable container and pour the batter into it. Microwave cook the batter for 5-7 minutes (microwave settings may vary). Remove and insert a needle into it to check if it is done. Allow it to cool and cut into triangles. Heat oil in a pan and deep-fry in hot oil. Remove when golden brown and crisp. Serve with green chutney.

“During the monsoons, I pine for roasted bhutta. I remember a lady at a Delhi market who used to sell bhuttas. Of course, her corn was tasty. She was also a pleasure to look at. And that was also the reason why I would frequent her shop. Imagine my surprise when one day, she asked me for an autograph for her daughter!” The late M F Husain in an October 2009 interview to Calcutta Times

(Recipe courtesy, SOAM, Babulnath – Tel: 23698080)



Monsoon Special

Elegance Ain’t Easy When Wet Style might come easy, but being elegant in the rain can be a tough proposition. Here’s how to be high and dry even when it’s all wet outside by Yashica Dutt

SOAKED IN STYLE Audrey Hepburn epitomised rain chic in her trenchcoat in the closing shot of Breakfast at Tiffany’s

LIGHTEN UP Choose light fabrics like these Chanderi dresses by Rahul Mishra


AVE YOU been thinking that it was that iconic Givenchy little black dress and the extended cigarette holder that made Audrey Hepburn’s Holly Golightly the ultimate fashion idol? Then try kissing your angry lover (while holding a cat in one hand) as the sky tears open and still look half as elegant as she does in the final scene of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. In our opinion, this is her biggest feat in the film, which we are reminded of most poignantly when we try following suit on our potholed, slushy streets post a heavy downpour. The time when neither bright neons, nor waterproof makeup, or even the big, floral umbrella (a suggestion dished out every year by sundry monsoon guides) are able to help us recover our slowly crumbling elegance. So we decided to find out how to remain elegant (trust us, mere pretty is no match) this monsoon.



BOLLYWOOD MIGHT have taught you to wear only sheer fabrics in the rain, but we are convinced you know better than that. Staying away from materials that crush easily like linen, cotton and pure silk will leave you de-stressed about the wrinkles later. Designer Anupama Dayal tells us, “It’s better to stay realistic about your fashion choices and include the weather in your style decisions. It’s advisable to not wear fabric that’s too thin, or

handlooms. You must also avoid man-made fabrics like polyester, as the chemical fabric could cause a reaction and upset your skin if it gets wet. It’s best to opt for organic fabrics that don’t turn transparent and could dry on their own.” Anyone who’s ever worn wet jeans might already know what we’re talking about. But that’s not the sole culprit of foul odour post a good walk in the rain. Designer Rahul Mishra says, “T-shirts in jersey might seem like the most


comfortable material in this slightly chilly weather, but I would suggest avoiding it completely. Even knits and crochet could do a lot of harm to your stylish image after getting wet as they turn limp and heavy.” He adds, “Cotton silk and chanderi are great options which are tailormade for the Indian monsoon. They even work well if you choose to wear a raincoat as they are very light and don’t absorb moisture easily.”

INSTANT FIX-ITS FOR A RAIN-FREE LOOK ■ Always keep an extra pair of

shoes in your bag. Crocs may be convenient for the road, but they sure won’t impress your interviewer/date. ■ Carry some wet wipes/towels to get rid of the humidity and extra moisture from your face

and hands. ■ Wet hair on board? Find the nearest public restroom and use their hand dryer to the maximum. Also, do a neat back comb, which would work perfectly in this weather. ■ Distract by using colourful

hair accessories and pins. Place them strategically over stray hairs and no one will notice how wet your hair is. ■ Never leave your good quality perfume at home; a damp smell and wet clothes can be a lethal combination.

Colours and prints

TOP TIP A secure top knot is handy and trendy, as seen at Varun Bahl’s A/W show

THE BRIGHT colour scheme does remain, but it’s important to choose your brights carefully in the monsoon. “Don’t wear colours like turquoise and bright yellow in the rains, but choose warmer tones instead. Coral, watermelon red and aquatic orange work really well here,” says designer Pankaj Ahuja. Designer Anand Bhushan, in turn, doesn’t advise wearing a print that looks too busy. “It looks too chaotic and has the same effect on the person wearing it and those around them. With so much activity happening around you, it’s necessary to counterbalance that with your attire. So choose monochromes or very light prints,” he says.

Hair and makeup TYING THOSE long locks up is beyond common knowledge now, but your style also needs to be fuss-free. Elaborate French braids and tricky updos will only add to your distress and you never know when they could need to be redone. “You should not have hair falling on your face and it’s better to not blow dry in this weather. With a lot of moisture already in the air, there are chances that your hair might get bigger than you intended, ruining your style altogether,” says Anupama Dayal, who also recommends a no-makeup look and keeping a fixer handy. “It’s better to have very light makeup than to wear waterproof mascara which could also run over. Also, you must use the fixers available in the market as they could really make you look done up in two minutes flat,” she adds. And while this promises to make you Holly instead of her wet, gnarly cat, a dazzling smile will put you just there!

Silhouettes THE MONSOON is the time to strike a careful balance between too much and too tight. While frills, ruffles and gathers are merely more fabric to get soaked, something too clingy isn’t a good look when wet either. Pankaj Ahuja of the duo Pankaj and Nidhi says, “Avoid any fitted or sticky silhouettes that sit too close to the body as they could look unappealing and be highly uncomfortable while giving rise to unsightly wet stains.” FIT AND FANTASTIC Opt for a fit that’s comfortable yet flattering, without too many frills, like this Anita Dongre dress



THE SIMPLE LIFE Go simple in this Gaurav Jai Gupta dress

Minimalism FORGET HOW crafty layering makes you seem and ditch all those clever tricks you might have learnt over the summer. Single out just one summer dress and wear it without any jackets, waistcoats or shrugs. Anand Bhushan says, “A dress on its own is your best option this season, as many layers tend to get wet and absorb more moisture. Layers not only take ages to dry, but will also make you look frumpy.” Apply the same rule to accessories as well. Too many chains, necklaces, ribbons and danglers look clunky and instantly pull your look to the bottom.


WARMING UP Warmer tones help you stand out, like this Urvashi Kaur ensemble

indulge stay

rude hotels

Vir Sanghvi

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Back With A Bang

With plans to open one hotel every 45 days over the next two years in India, the Hilton chain has massive opportunities in the non-luxury space – and it seems to be grabbing them


OU MAY not know this but the Taj Mahal in Bombay was nearly a Hilton. Or, to put it another way, if the Tatas had acceded to one proposal, then there may not even have been a Taj Mahal Hotel in Apollo Bunder, just the Bombay Hilton. The story (told to me by Taj executives of that era) is that sometime in the early Sixties, JRD Tata tired of running the Taj, then an old and badly-managed property. Bobby Kooka, the creator of the Air-India maharaja and one of JRD’s old associates, has written that once, when he complained to JRD Tata about how bad things were at the Taj and asked why, considering that JRD was so intolerant of the slightest imperfection in Air-India (of which he was chairman), he did nothing about the Taj. “There is so much wrong at the Taj,” JRD replied, “that I would not know where to begin.” It was during this phase that Bombay House toyed with the idea of getting an international hotel chain to take over the Taj. The Tatas brought in Hilton, then the world’s most famous name in hotels, and asked the executives to take a look at the property. The American executives who flew into Bombay saw the hotel and said that Hilton would run it but they thought that it needed more rooms. So, they suggested, the Tatas should pull down the existing building and construct a large multi-storey tower in its place. That would be the Bombay Hilton. Fortunately, JRD was horrified enough by the thought of demolishing one of Bombay’s loveliest buildings to turn down the Hilton proposal. Instead, he turned to indigenous managers who took over the Taj, turned it around, built a multi-storey extension next to the old building, and then spun off the name to create one of India’s greatest hotel companies. But that wasn’t the last we heard of the Bombay Hilton. Bobby Kooka pops up again in our story. The top management of Hilton Hotels decided that the company needed to construct a Bombay Hilton even though the Tata proposal had not worked out. Kooka, who knew the Hilton management, introduced the company’s executives to Indian investors and a spot was found for the proposed Bombay Hilton: near the sea in Worli. The distinguished Indian architect IM Kadri was hired to design the hotel and sent on a tour of Hilton’s hotels around the globe. Kadri designed the property and construction was about to begin when Hilton pulled out. Apparently, visiting Hilton senior management decided that the sea at Worli smelt too bad and that, therefore, this was the wrong location for a hotel. The Hotel Hilltop (a three-star) was eventually built on that spot (Hilltop sounds near enough to Hilton) but it neither achieved any fame nor lasted very long. Kadri was the real gainer. He put that experience to good use and went on to design many great Indian hotels in the 1970s and 1980s, includMAN ON A MISSION In India, Hilton is headed by Lenny Menezes, one of India’s best-known and most experienced hoteliers 12

STATUS SYMBOL Iconic hotels such as the one on London’s Park Lane continue to be called Hilton

EASY COMFORT The rooms at the Doubletree, Mayur Vihar, seem to have everything that any middle-level business executive would need

ing nearly all the Taj hotels built in that era. Though Hilton lost out – it should have been the first global chain in India – the domestic hotel industry gained. While the great American chains – chiefly Hilton, but also Sheraton and Intercontinental in the 1970s – introduced five star hoteliering to the world, India created its own brands. The Oberoi learnt a lot from a tie-up with Intercontinental in Delhi from 1965 onwards but it was the Oberoi brand (rather than Intercontinental) that gained – which was as true of the Oberoi-Sheraton tie-up in Bombay in the 1970s. The Taj created its own culture and though ITC tied up with



LAUNCH PAD The Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York was Hilton’s US flagship

indulge NO IDENTITY CRISIS ITC tied up with Sheraton in the late 1970s, but retained its own identity

has ten different brands ranging from Waldorf Astoria (from the New York Hotel that was Hilton’s US flagship) and Conrad (both luxury) to Doubletree and Hilton Garden Inn (more mid-market). Iconic hotels (such as the one on London’s Park Lane) continue to be called Hilton but otherSheraton in the late 1970s, it wise the old Hilton name only retained its own identity: do you means “five-star but not overknow anyone who called the ly luxurious.” Maurya Sheraton the Sheraton? It is a formula that seems to We’ve always called it the Maurya. be working. Hilton Worldwide PARTING WAYS Perhaps as a consequence, (now owned by Blackstone) Properties such as the Lalit in Indians have been insulated from has over 3,750 properties and Delhi have come and gone from the legend of Hilton. Created by 6,15,000 rooms in 85 countries the Hilton fold Conrad Hilton (familiar to TV across ten brands. The US and viewers from the recent Mad international companies are Men ) in 1919, it was the first better integrated and the brand architecture is fully in place. American chain to expand into In India, Hilton is headed by Lenny Menezes, one of India’s bestFAMILY NAME the whole world. In many counknown and most experienced hoteliers who made his name with Paris Hilton is descended from tries where Hilton landed, there the Taj Group in the years when the chain was growing rapidly. It Conrad Hilton was no conception of modern has six hotels under three brands in three cities and so many more hoteliering till Hilton came and taught the local industry how it was are planned that Lenny aims to open one Hilton-branded hotel done. Even in sophisticated London, the opening of a Hilton on Park every 45 days over the next two years. Lane – at the time, the tallest building in Mayfair – represented an Of the Indian Hiltons, I’ve been to three. The Hilton Garden Inn epochal event and the hotel became linked with the Swinging Sixties in Saket (Delhi) ended up serving me the best thin-crust pizzas I’ve especially when Allen Klein took a suite and made the Beatles and eaten recently – which was a surprise because Garden Inns abroad the Rolling Stones come there to pay court to him. are not renowned for their F&B. I went to the Doubletree (anothIn the old days, Hilton was a family-owned company (yes, Paris er mid-priced brand) in Delhi’s Mayur Vihar (which is actually just Hilton is descended from Conrad) but it soon split into two comoff the DND flyway so is ideally located for Noida) and was again panies. The family ran the US hotels while TWA owned Hilton startled by the calibre of the food (great steak). I saw the Hilton International. When TWA went bust, the international company (next to Doubletree) which has yet to open but seemed like a great went through a bad patch with a variety of owners (including betfive-star option for that area. ting-shop conglomerate Ladbrokes) failing to recognise the value Lenny is close-mouthed about the chain’s expansion plans (which of the brand while the US company seemed unsure of how to cope is sensible given that each hotel requires a separate deal with an indiwith the arrival of new competitors. vidual owner) but from what I could gather, the strategy is to focus In India too, Hilton has taken decades to make a mark. Properties on basic five star with no needless frills at rates that are truly comhave come and gone from the Hilton fold (the Lalit in Delhi, Sanjay petitive. Indian hotels can be expensive so success will come to anyKhan’s spa resort outside Bangalore etc.) and a body who offers a good product at reasonable rates. potentially rewarding tie-up with Oberoi Hotels Where I do foresee a problem is in brand-archi(under which the Tridents were rebranded as tecture. The rooms at the Doubletree, Mayur Vihar, Hiltons) did not last the course. A vast developseemed to me to have everything that any middlement deal with DLF has also floundered because level business executive would need. The restauof the real estate slump. rant at the Saket Garden Inn had food and ambiBut the hotel industry has changed so much ence that you expect to find at a much fancier hotel. in the last two decades, that the time is probably Hilton has raised its minimum standards in India right for Hilton to make a more assured return to levels that are higher than abroad – which could to India. While the Indian chains have successlead to confusion. fully filled the luxury space, there are vast areas There are plans for Waldorf Astorias and Conrads that have still not been addressed. through nobody will talk about them. When these You only need to look at the development of hotels do open then we’ll see how the granddaddy Hilton Worldwide to recognise how consumer of all hotel chains can fight its Indian competition CHANGING WAYS needs and hotel offerings have evolved. Once there JRD Tata refused to pull down the Taj in the luxury segment. Till then, however, Hilton was just a single Hilton brand (plus Conrad for has massive opportunities in the non-luxury space building and construct a multi-storey Hilton International’s US properties). Now Hilton – and it seems to be grabbing them. tower in its place



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Tech Myths: The Nonsense And The Reality (Part 2) Busting a few claims, legends and rumours – read on for all this and more in the second part of the series


Rajiv Makhni

KEEP IT CHARGED This guy doesn’t need to go down to size zero


IME FOR part two of Tall Tech Tales. No time for chit chat or lofty openings – lots of myths to cover, very little space – time to hit the ground running.

TAKE THE CHANCE (Top) It’s a power off button, not a detonation switch, so go ahead and switch your computer off. It’s not going to implode on itself


The whole wires and cables myth has been around for years. It’s most prevalent in the sound sphere (you need very, very expensive speaker cable to get pure sound); but it’s now very widespread in the display field too. Selling HDMI cables has become a big racket. You buy a new TV, and immediately the perfectly packaged R5,000 HDMI cable is thrust into your hands. You are made to believe that the only way you’re going to get that perfect picture is through the magic of this incredible cable. Hogwash! HDMI ports emit a purely digital signal. Just zeros and ones are transmitted. They are not going to lose anything to interference or signal loss. Either you’ll get a picture on the other side or not. Unless you’re running a very long HDMI cable, you’re perfectly fine with a standard R399 HDMI one. Spend the money you’ve saved to buy a bigger TV.

CABLE QUEST That’s not real gold, so don’t pay a king’s ransom for HDMI cables

do the exact opposite. They can actually lose maximum battery charge if you take them down to zero as the batteries develop a chemical resistance to recharging, which can kill their lifespan. Recharging often and every day is a more idiot-proof and safer option.


A myth that rears up every few months. Facebook is going to start charging for its services. On the face (!!) of it, it makes a lot of sense. At about 750 million users, each charged just a dollar a month – Facebook could generate an incredible sum of money. The probability is nil. Facebook makes embarrassingly ugly sums of money from advertising and selling off data (and keeps finding new ways to do it). The whole business is based on getting more and more people there. A subscription model would kill that phenomenal growth within seconds. And now with Google+ giving it a few shudders (25 million and growing); the chances of you paying for Facebook are as much as Bill Gates giving you free money. Which conveniently brings me to the next big myth.



An important document, a confidential file, that embarrassing picture – you’ve deleted it and also emptied it from your recycle bin. Now it’s gone forever. Not really. It’s right there. All that has happened is that your OS has just marked that area on your hard drive as empty, it doesn’t touch or remove the data itself. Any file recovery software (there are thousands) can bring it right back in a second. Great news for those who may have accidentally deleted something, terrible news for all those who deleted that secret letter.



Switching off your computer (any kind – laptop, desktop, netbook) – will kill either the hard drive or the whole computer. This is now called the grandfather debate as it’s a question that has been around for years. The answer is – it will not. At the time of the switch off if you have unsaved data – that may get lost (most applications will still try to retrieve it) – but that’s the extent of damage it may cause. Chances of errors on the hard drive or some component inside going phat are near impossible. Don’t make it a habit, don’t do this as a rule, but if your computer’s frozen or not responsive – then go ahead and switch it off. It’s not going to implode on itself.


Conventional wisdom said that you must drain your battery to zero before you recharge. This was true earlier as the underlying battery technology at that time was Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH), which had a notorious memory effect. Modern equipment, including laptops, phones and tablets, use lithium ion batteries and they



Bill Gates is conducting an experiment. Forward the test email (tracked by them) and for every person you forward the message to, Microsoft will pay you hundreds of dollars. And for Bill Gates it’s no problem as he will just write it off as a small marketing expense. Be truthful. How many times have you got this mail and how many times have you frantically mailed it to everyone you know? And the cheque still hasn’t come. It never will. It’s an old practical joke. Nobody is going to ever pay you to forward a mail; even Bill Gates isn’t that rich! (And while we’re at it, no Nigerian uncle of yours has left you a fortune and no bank in London has suddenly found a secret account opened in your name by an admirer.) Next week, I’m going to take on legends from the world of the mobile phone. From petrol pumps that may catch fire if you use a phone, to how you can kill patients in ICUs by using a mobile in their vicinity, to how you can open a locked car door with just a mobile phone, to how carrying your cellphone in your pocket can render you childless and what is the secret technique to recover a lost or stolen mobile phone. And no, I haven’t forgotten – the code that will unlock a secret battery inside your mobile phone that will power it up THE FORWARD when all hope is gone. RACKET Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, You can’t get this NDTV and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru to forward an and Newsnet 3. Follow Rajiv on Twitter at email




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The Net Is The New Radio

MELANCHOLY RESPITE Radiohead specialises in sad songs, which never fail to work for me, whether I’m sad or not

Earlier, we heard the radio to discover new music; now all of us simply go online

download central

Sanjoy Narayan


HEN I was small and taking the first baby steps into the world of popular music, it was a few vinyls that one of my uncles played on which I cut my teeth. Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Ray Charles, Elvis Presley... he even had a Nana Mouskouri album. I actually remember the Nat King Cole album that he had – a 10-inch LP named Nat King Cole Sings For Two in Love (the slightly tattered cover – it was released in the early 1950s – didn’t show King Cole but a white couple who seemed to be out on a date). The eight or ten songs on that album, as on most of my uncle’s vinyls, were about love. I was seven or eight when I heard those records and quite possibly didn’t know what the heck they were about but they were an introduction to pop songs, jazz, blues and all of what shaped my later taste in music. A few years on, I got to hear The Beatles and the Stones and Simon and Garfunkel. My father had a few tracks on his spool tapes of George Harrison songs – if I remember right, only the ones that had him playing the sitar. But strangely, music in physical form was not the way I began listening to and getting introduced to rock and roll and all the exciting stuff. It wasn’t records or tapes that you could actually keep in physical form but the radio. As soon as I was allowed to touch the knobs of the old Bush valve radio that we had, with its strange netlike antenna strung across the ceiling, I discovered two afternoon programmes – the weekday Lunchtime Variety and Sunday’s Musical Bandbox. I don’t remember whether just one or the both of them were request programmes but those one-hour programmes were the primary source of ‘new’ music for my ears as I was growing up in Calcutta. They were great programmes, both of them, produced by Bulbul Sarkar, a legendary producer at the city’s branch of All India Radio. We would wait for those every day during the summer holidays and on Sundays and get treated to rock and roll and pop songs that became a kind of a primer for me. It is strange how things come full circle. Today, four decades later, I am introduced to new sounds, not through physical formats such as CDs or vinyls (yes, they’ve made a comeback but how many records, if any at all, are you buying a month?) but via something quite like the radio, the Internet. Just as we used to wait for programmes like Lunchtime Variety and Musical Bandbox, I wait for podcasts to drop into my iTunes app. Or, just as we would dial the knob of the radio in the 1970s to find a BBC music programme on short-wave or an obscure European radio station, I surf the Net to check out different music blogs and what they’re streaming or offering for download. That’s how last week I got to hear an NPR programme titled Cry Baby, Cry, Songs That Make You Weep. It was a 50-minute programme which played narratives from listeners who shared their experience about personal tragedies and sadness and the song that they felt empathised most with their WEBBED AUDIENCE feelings. So, you had a New If I want to listen to yet-to-beOrleanian who talked about the released albums by rock and difficult days after Hurricane

Katrina ravaged that lovely city and played Louis Armstrong’s moving Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?; a parent of a girl who died when a drunk driver rammed into her car talked about her tragedy and played singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens’ To Be Alone With You, a song that had helped her cope; a woman who rued her lost yet not forgotten love and played The Avett Brothers’ If It’s The Beaches…. and so on. AMOROUS BEGINNING It got me thinking about sad I remember this Nat King Cole album songs. There is something about as my introduction to popular music sad songs that we love. I mean you can argue that when you’re feeling blue and low and very depressed wouldn’t it make things worse if you heard songs that were blue and low and very depressed? It doesn’t always. In fact, I find that it is usually the opposite. A sad song can, in some manner, help share your sadness. I actually like sad songs and (this may be weird) they seem to work for me regardless of where my spirits are – soaring high in the sky or languishing in the depths of some dark well. I even have some favourite sad songs. Lots, really. Such as Radiohead’s (who, as we all know, specialise in sad songs) How To Disappear Completely. Simple lyrics and a refrain ( I’m not here/This isn’t happening/I’m not here, I’m not here…) that never fails to work for me, whether I’m sad or not, but PHOTO: THINKSTOCK specially when I’m sad. It’s not the only Radiohead ‘sad’ song that I like; there are many more on their usually melancholic albums. Not as many as there are in The National’s catalogue of songs. Few bands have as many sad songs as The National does and few singers do sad as nicely as frontman Matt Berninger does. But yes, before I digressed into blabbering about sad songs, I was talking about how alike discovering new music today is to what it was 30 or 40 years ago. If the radio was a good way to listen to bands that you hadn’t heard before, today it is the Internet. The only difference is that you’re spoilt for choice. If I want to keep track of hip-hop’s latest (the new Jay-Z and Kanye West collaboration), I have the Fader podcast that will alert me about a leaked track from their new album; if I want to discover new blues musicians, I have the Roadhouse podcast to go to; if I want to listen to yet-to-bereleased albums by rock and pop’s best, then there’s NPR; if I want someone’s quirky take on garage rock or doom metal or even alternative electronica, there’s someone somewhere dishing it out for me…. That’s the thing about the Internet, the long tail, which ensures that even an audience of one can get a song that he or she likes, regardless of whether it is a sad one or not!


pop’s best, there’s NPR

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Double Trouble

In a world that swears by political correctness, double standards are all the rage

REGULAR MESS There is no harm in sending up your husband by complaining that he is too messy (remember Michelle Obama’s famous reference to her husband’s ‘smelly socks’?)


O POSH Spice finally has what she ‘really really wanted’ for a long time: a baby girl, a much-awaited and longed-for daughter after three strapping boys. With each pregnancy, or so the gossip rags maintain, Victoria hoped for a daughter, a teeny-tiny Baby Spice to dress up in pink and to whom she could pass on her wisdom about Girl Power. But it wasn’t to be. The Beckhams instead became parents to three beautiful boys – Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz – but they never gave up on their dream of a daughter. So even at considerable risk to herself – all her children were born by C-section (cue the usual jokes about being too Posh to push) and three is generally considered to be the safe limit for this procedure – Victoria became pregnant again in the hope of bringing forth a baby girl this time. And this once, the Gods smiled upon the Beckhams, who welcomed their first daughter, Harper Seven (really, what is it with celebrities and outlandish names for their offspring?) into the world last month. But even as the media gushed about the fact that Victoria and David’s family was now complete and how absolutely fabulous it was that they had finally got the daughter of their dreams, even if it had taken them four tries to get there, an uneasy thought popped up in my mind. Would we have reacted in the same way if the Beckhams had been trying for a son rather than a daughter? Would we have been quite so indulgent about their desire for a child of a particular gender if the genders had been reversed? Somehow, I think not. There seems to be some sort of peculiar double standard at work in the world today when it is perfectly okay to express your desire to have a daughter. But if a woman ever dares mention that she is hoping for a son, or would even like to have one, well then, she is no better than a traitor to her own gender. So while it is fine to keep ‘trying’ in the hope of producing a baby girl, doing so in the hope of getting a baby boy marks you down as being obscurantist, old-fashioned, gender-insensitive and, of course, politically incorrect. Strange, isn’t it? Of course boys have been universally preferred down the ages, being seen as the heirs to the family fortune, who will carry their proud name forward, while girls marry and leave for their own homes. And in a country like India where female foeticide is endemic, it is always a refreshing change to have someone say that they would prefer a girl over a boy. Surely, however, it is human nature to want one of each kind, to want to experience the joy of having a son as well as a daughter. But such is the strength of the double standard – and so despicable are some of the means we employ

PRINCESS DIARY The Beckhams welcomed their first daughter, Harper Seven (with Victoria, top left, and David, top) into the world last month

to have boys rather than girls – that it takes a brave woman to say that, yes, she does hope to have a son this time round. But in a world where political correctness has run wild, such double standards are wellestablished now. Let’s take a look at how we refer to foreign visitors to our shores. Anybody who is White is unthinkingly referred to as a ‘Firangi’ or ‘Gora’, without the slightest fear that this may give offence or be perceived as racist. But nobody with the slightest sensitivity would ever refer to a Chinese person as ‘Chinki’ or call a Japanese a ‘Nip’. And anybody who did would be promptly accused of being vilely racist – as indeed they should. And yet, when you think about it, what’s the difference? Why do we get to use ‘Gora’ in polite conversation when we wouldn’t dream of saying ‘Chinki’? Surely, the offence is much the same? Similarly, nobody bats an eyelid when you imitate English and American accents to send people up. But God forbid that you should ever do the same with a German, French or Italian accent. For some reason that is seen as racist while the first two are just dismissed as so much good fun. And imitating Japanese, Thai or even Chinese accents is simply beyond the pale. Then, there’s the politically correct take on fairness creams. Surely by now all of you must know that they are A Very Bad Thing. The manufacturers prey on the insecurities of darkskinned people and make them pay obscene sums of money to lighten their complexions with creams that are no more effective than a good sunblock. Shame on them! Don’t they know any better? That said, nobody objects to the booming fake tan business, in which people try to darken their light complexions to prove that they are rich enough to holiday in spots where they can get a nice sun tan. And yet, you can't deny that both are two sides of the same coin; a manifestation of the desire of people to improve their appearance in a manner that pleases them. So why be judgemental about one and not the other? And then, there’s the usual gender-bender stuff that comes with political correctness. There is no harm in sending up your husband by complaining how he does no housework, doesn’t help with the children, is too messy (remember Michelle Obama’s famous reference to her husband’s ‘smelly socks’?) and just so useless all around. But what if the same put-upon husband were to retaliate by pointing out how rubbish his wife is at driving and how she still can’t parallel park? Well, I’ll just leave it to you to guess how that story would unfold. PHOTOS: REUTERS


Seema Goswami


HINDUSTAN TIMES SUNDAY MAGAZINE JULY 31, 2011 Follow Seema on Twitter at

Monsoon Special


Oil’s Well

Sweet Dreams S

According to ayurveda, when it rains – get a massage by Veenu Singh




HERE’S ONE odd thing about the monsoon. Even though it’s associated with some of the worst of health problems – gastroenteritis, infections, colds, coughs and viral fevers – we look forward to it with all our hearts and souls. Which Indian, having burned under the summer sun, doesn’t like the rain? And there’s another reason to love the monsoon. According to ancient texts, this is the best season for any kind of rejuvenation programme. “According to ayurveda, the human body is at its weakest during this season and therefore needs to be rejuvenated with massages that help strengthen the body,” explains Dr Rishi Mahajan, general manager, alternate therapies, VLCC. Since the atmosphere in this season is relatively cool and dust-free, it helps the skin to open the pores and absorb herbal and medicinal oils to the maximum. People of any body type can get the benefits of ayurvedic therapies during the monsoon. “During the wet season, people tend to retain water,” says Divita Kanoria, founder, Tatha… Nature’s Blessings. “Massage increases the circulation of blood and lymph that helps to ease this condition. It also helps increase immunity and decrease muscular tension and pain. Massage therapy also gives relief from acute stress.” Ayurvedic rejuvenation therapies do more than ease physical stress, adds Dr Shyla Vahab, an ayurvedic doctor at Therapy Ayurveda in Delhi’s Dwarka area. “They also help preserve longevity, restore youthfulness, revitalise the body and mind, enhance body resistance and immunity and improve the functioning of body parts,” says Dr Vahab. “Plus, ayurvedic therapies bring calmness, improve the skin’s complexion and texture and increase the sensing capacity of sense organs. They also build up proper tissues (dhatus) in the body and continuously repair

LEEP HAS a lot of functions and constitutes an essential part of being and living. Some of its known functions are: During sleep, the body rejuvenates and regenerates itself. This process is very important for the health of organs and tissues, because tissue breakdown happens on a daily basis, and if repair and regeneration doesn’t happen in a timely fashion, the chances of mutations, cancerous growths, etc., can happen at a faster rate. During sleep, neuronal systems in the brain consolidate information into systematic storage, so that in future when we want to remember something, the information can be retrieved. During sleep, muscles are rested, otherwise, muscles, spine and joints are always in use. Side effects of not getting adequate sleep: ■ Irritability at work ■ Weight gain and thyroid problems ■ Lack of concentration ■ Inappropriate aggression ■ Higher incidences of accidents ■ Increased vulnerability to various allergies ■ Tissue breakdown, joint and knee problems ■ Digestive problems ■ Significantly increased vulnerability to stress How much sleep is essential ■ For adults, six to eight hours of sleep is essential. The number can vary from person to person, ■ In small children, sleep requirements are higher; this decreases with age. There is a sleep spurt during the adolescent years. Sleep patterns have changed due to the following reasons: ■ The Net, games, jobs that entail night shifts ■ The cosmopolitan city culture ■ Higher consumption of alcohol and stimulants ■ Certain easy-to-obtain sleep medications ■ Increased business travel across time zones ■ We live in a culture where work addictions and staying awake longer have become aspirational Next week: How do we balance our sleep in the current environment?

them, helping the body to resist diseases. Ideally, a 14- or 21-day session can bring out the best results.” In fact, according to Dr Vahab, one of the best massage therapies for the monsoon is ‘abhyanga’, meaning oil massage. “Abhyanga is done as a pre-process of panchakarma (a purification process) and also as a major process by itself,” says the doctor. “It helps improve concentration, intelligence, confidence, and youthfulness. It also helps alleviate vata disorders and provides comfort to the eyes, ensures sound sleep, and tones the body. It is the most ancient method used to remove muscular fatigue and pain.” In another massage, shirodhara, certain herbal oils (thailadhara), medicated milk (ksheeradhara), medicated butter milk (thakradhara) etc., are poured on to the forehead in a particular method for about 45 minutes a day. “This treatment is effective for insomnia, stress, fatigue and lack of vitality. It stimulates the nervous system and is also effective in different conditions of vata aggravation,” adds Dr Vahab. Even if you are unable to go for a proper massage therapy, you can do some simple things at home that will help in this season. “Put a few drops of either coconut or mustard oil in your nostrils after bathing. This will help clear the sinus and any congestion also,” says Dr Mahajan. “Even applying a few drops of mustard oil on your navel can be beneficial.”



Monsoon Special

There are many joyous things about the monsoon. But best of all, it gives us the chance to stay at home with a good book by Kushalrani Gulab


ISCLAIMER FIRST: Please note that we have absolutely no intention of inciting you to defy your boss or your company’s HR department. But we do want to point out one little fact that everyone will agree with (even your boss and the HR people if, for one minute, they stop being boss and HR and remember that they’re people). It’s this: while we all appreciate our legitimate days off work (such as the weekend), a day off when we’re supposed to be working but have decided that we’d rather not, is much nicer. And if there’s one thing the monsoon can give us (aside from rain songs, bhuttas, bhajiyas, chai and fungus on our shoes), it’s the occasional opportunity to

bunk work and stay at home, curled up with a book (or several). After all, when the skies are grey, the rain is coming down so hard that your set-top box can’t catch a TV signal and the road outside your house resembles the Indian Ocean (there could even be sharks in there), there’s nothing more sensuous than texting your boss to say you won’t be in, bunging the masala into the chai on the stove, climbing back into your pajamas, switching on the lamp with the golden glow, cuddling into your favourite armchair, and picking up that book you’ve been meaning to read for ages. But if there’s no particular book you’ve been meaning to read for ages, allow us to recommend a few.

It’s Raining



The Secret of the Nagas AUTHOR: Amish Author Amish presented us with The Immortals of Meluha, the first book in his Shiva trilogy, in early 2010. It was a gripping book, one that portrays Shiva not as a god, but as a man. Now, the second book in the trilogy, The Secret of the Nagas, is due in the bookshops by mid-August. When we turned the last page of The Immortals of Meluha, a sinister Naga warrior had killed Shiva’s friend Brahaspati and 18


clearly had his eye on Shiva’s wife Sati. Now, Shiva must seek out the Nagas, the people of the serpent. The signs of evil are everywhere: A kingdom is dying as it is held to ransom for a miracle drug. A crown prince is murdered. The Vasudevs – Shiva’s philosopher guides – betray his faith. Even Meluha has a terrible secret. Unknown to Shiva, a master puppeteer is playing a grand game.


The Inspector Ghote books AUTHOR: HRF Keating While you’re waiting for the third book in Tarquin Hall’s Vish Puri series of detective novels set in and around Delhi (if you haven’t read the first two books, get The Case of the Missing Servant and The


Case of the Man Who Died Laughing immediately), you may want to seek out Bombay-based Inspector Ghote, the creation of HRF Keating. Keating created Inspector Ghote way back in 1964 in the book The Perfect Murder (which later became a movie starring Naseeruddin Shah), and continued to write books about him all the way to 2009. Life is not easy for Ghote – it never is for any honest police officer. But no matter what the mystery – and no matter what the opposition to its solution – Inspector Ghote always comes through. And in the most delightful way possible.

GRAPHIC STORIES Think books with animals as heroes are for children? Especially books with pictures? Think again. Better yet, see and read for yourself in Animal Palette, a collection of animal stories by author Chetan Joshi, ranging from the romantic to the outright terrifying. Lock horns with the big bully who bashes and bluffs everyone in sight. Or play a gruesome game of hide and seek with crows and owls. Go tiger hunting with the most ferocious and megalomaniacal wolf in the jungle. And meet the frog who has the answers to everything in life except his own fate. The book is illustrated by Tejas Modak, who has used a different medium and artistic style for each story making it a palette of graphic fiction.

Here’s a short interview with author Dikipa Rai

The Secret of Sirikot AUTHOR: Shivani Singh There may no longer be any such thing as royalty in the democratic republic that is India, but we’re fascinated by it nonetheless. And we learn about the lives of the royals in The Secret of Sirikot, a mystery set in the fictional princely state of Sirikot in 1947 – just before Independence and just as the royals were about to merge their states with the larger nation of India. When Leela, the 13-year-old narrator, daughter of Sirikot’s First Princess, arrives to visit her maternal grandparents, she hears of the murder of a patidar. But soon her grandfather, the Raja, is killed. And her grandmother, the Rani, kills herself. Leela knows her eldest uncle, the Yuvraj, is desperate for the throne. But could he really have done it?


Someone Else’s Garden AUTHOR: Dipika Rai What would you do if we were to tell you: there’s this book you should read. It’s about a poor low-caste village girl whose father tells her she’s just a girl, soon to become the property of a husband. As a girl, society says she doesn’t have a life of her own. You’d run, right? Who’d want to read something so depressing? Well. The thing is, we are telling you to read this book: It’s called Someone Else’s Garden and it’s about a poor low-caste village girl who society says has no life of her own. We’re telling you to read it because it is a good book and not in the least bit depressing. Rather, it’s uplifting. A real feel-good book, well-written, and gently humorous. You’ll be smiling for days after you finish it. HINDUSTAN TIMES SUNDAY MAGAZINE JULY 31, 2011

Someone Else’s Garden could so easily be seen as a book that’s intended to shake readers out of their smug, urban, middle class existences. But it’s not. How brave were you, pitching this idea to publishers? Surprisingly, it was extremely hard to pitch to Indian publishers, but not to foreign publishers. The book was first launched in the US and then in the UK. The feedback to the initial launches has been overwhelming with several overseas readers describing it as ‘an eye-opener’. How did you work out the characters? You’ve made no judgements – even about the heroine Mamta’s nasty husband. Was that a conscious decision? I didn’t consciously not make any judgements about my characters, but my narrator wasn’t entitled to judge them, not having walked in their shoes or lived their lives. Somehow my narrator emerged as a sympathetic observer as much trying to understand as to examine. In particular, how did you create the character of Mamta? She’s so real. I think we have all met many Mamtas in our lives. I know we had so many working for us. I am an observer and I ask questions, file away answers. I am lucky to live in a land of stories and layers, where the distance between urban and rural India is but one person deep. What have readers said about the book? I think the story is being received as a redemptive tale. Several readers said they were ‘changed by it’, which is the best compliment a writer can receive.



Monsoon Special


Bombay Duck is a Fish AUTHOR: Kanika Dhillon What really happens when you work in Bollywood? Neki Brar doesn’t know, but she’d rather do this than any marketing job, so though her father is against it, she quotes his favourite book – Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse – at him and abandons Amritsar for tinsel town. And then she learns – in Bollywood, nothing is as it seems. Just as Bombay duck is not a duck. It’s a fish. A screenwriter herself, author Kanika Dhillon really knows what she’s talking about. Reality bytes Bites AUTHOR: Anurag Anand If you’ve ever lived in a hostel, prepare to indulge in much nostalgia as Anurag Anand takes you into the world of the Delhi High School hostel, where unbreakable friendships are made, unbreakable bonds are created – but hearts, unfortunately, remain as fragile as ever. Starstruck AUTHOR: Rajal Pitroda When New Yorker Sapna Shah visits Mumbai for a wedding, she also has an assignment from her boss at That’s Entertainment! magazine. She has to do a story on Bollywood. But an interview request with top producer Gautam Gupta turns into an interview of another kind altogether – Gupta asks her to work for him. Soon, starstruck Sapna is on the sets, hanging out with megastars and opening markets for Hindi films in the US of A. But then a co-worker dies in mysterious circumstances… 1/7 Bondel Road AUTHOR: Gautam Benegal Indulge in much nostalgia in 10 short stories by Gautam Benegal, about growing up in the ’70s in Calcutta. Even if you’re not a Calcuttan, these gentle, funny, sometimes sad stories will bring back memories of your own childhood – and remind you of how different life is for kids today.




First Day First Show: Writings from the Bollywood Trenches


Journalist Anupama Chopra has covered films for 20 years, and First Day First Show: Writings from the Bollywood Trenches is a compilation of some of her best articles from India Today, The New York Times, and Vogue, among others, offering a ringside view of the industry as it’s changed. Naturally, we couldn’t let all that experience go, so we asked her to compare Bollywood’s three Khans from a journalist’s point of view.

Salman Khan

I have rarely interviewed Salman Khan. In the early days, he had little interest in talking to journalists. In the mid-1990s, on David Dhawan’s request, he agreed to see me over lunch at a shoot in Bandra. I showed up at the appointed hour. He ignored me while he devoured two tiramisus. Then he said he would do the interview but only if the magazine I was writing for donated R10 lakh to his favourite charity. When I said we didn’t pay for interviews, he said it was only fair that if we were going to make money by putting him on the cover, we should also compensate him. The interview didn’t happen. Since then I have done television interviews with Salman, which have always been great fun. In one, he became fascinated with a thread on

Aamir Khan

The first article I wrote about Aamir was titled ‘Mr Perfection’. I remember going to interview him while he was shooting for Dharmesh Darshan’s Mela. It was May and the heat was scorching. They were shooting a dance sequence and by mid-morning, the dancers had wilted. But Aamir stood stoically, wearing a leather jacket. He did not take it off until, after many retakes, the shot had been canned. That summed up, for me, his passion and drive to do the best job possible. Not much has changed. Aamir remains a consummate storyteller and arguably, the best actor of his generation.


Rangeela (1995): Who can forget Aamir as

Munna, the tapori black-market man, taking

Shah Rukh Khan Over the years, I have repeatedly interviewed Shah Rukh Khan and he remains Bollywood’s undisputed king of conversation. It is his mission to entertain you, whether you are sitting in a theatre or in a one-on-one session in his living room. In 2007, I wrote a book about him called King of Bollywood: Shah Rukh Khan and the Seductive World of Indian Cinema. I interviewed many of the people who have directed Shah Rukh, including Aditya Chopra. He said to me: “What comes across most strongly is Shah Rukh’s desire to


the floor and insisted on picking it up mid-answer. In another, I asked why he pretty much played himself in film after film. He said: Why, do you have a problem with my personality? Clearly Salman plays by his own rules. You can, as millions of fans are, be entertained by his rockstar persona or be bored by it. Either way, he’s not changing.


Hum Aapke Hain Koun…! (1994): He is the rich boy

who loves large but is committed to family values. Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999): The chemistry between Salman and Aishwarya Rai is crackling. Dabangg (2010): The cheerfully corrupt cop is an unstoppable force of nature. He delivers killer one-liners, defeats armed gunmen with a water hose, and makes fart jokes. What’s not to like! the love of his life Milli on a date in a canary-yellow jumpsuit and telling the waiter to move the airconditioning in the restaurant toward him? Rangeela is irresistible, frothy fun. Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (2001): Lagaan is one of the best

films to come out of India in decades. Aamir put his might and muscle behind a failed director – Ashutosh Gowariker – and a difficult story – villagers in colonial India taking on the British in a game of cricket – and created movie magic. 3 Idiots (2009): Aamir’s Rancho is mischievous, mysterious and superbly clever in his subversion of the education system. The film is overblown and simplistic. It wears its heart on its sleeve but it has an inherent sweetness and charm that made it the biggest hit in the history of Indian cinema. please... Shah Rukh doesn’t want you to love him as a star. He is trying in a very strange way through his acting to make you love him. It has a lot to do with the loss of his parents. They aren’t there anymore and he’s reaching out and substituting their loss with the world.” I think he might be right.


Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1993): Shah Rukh plays a

loser but with such sweetness and vulnerability that he stays with you long after the film is over. Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995): This perfect world is artificial but the emotions are real. Chak De! India (2007): Shah Rukh is pitch perfect as the bitter coach redeeming himself by converting the losing girls’ hockey team into winners.

Monsoon Special REEL ROMANCE Rain and romance go hand in hand. Nargis and Raj Kapoor epitomise love in the rain in Pyar hua ikraar hua hai from Shri 420

RAINDROPS KEEP FALLING Kareena and Aamir in Zoobi doobi from 3 Idiots celebrate one of the biggest cliches of Hindi cinema

Singin’ In The Rain

Joy, romance, desire and emancipation – in Hindi cinema the rain has been used to express many emotions. That’s why it will never go out of fashion SHANTANU MOITRA music composer


NDIA IN the monsoon is a symphony, which slowly reverberates in every living soul with a thousand dreams. The whole country celebrates when the monsoon arrives; farmers, businessmen, politicians and children cheer the downpour. The rains mean that the country will be able to grow the crops needed to feed its population, and a land parched by harsh summer will be able to quench its thirst. It’s no wonder the monsoon has played such an important role in Hindi films too. The rains are a lifeline, a symbol of joy and prosperity. Our sense of joy at the sight of rainfall is traditional, and no religion, caste or creed comes in between. It comes to me as no surprise that monsoon songs have always been used to represent many emotions. I was so influenced by the rains that my first composition was Ab ke sawan sung by Shubha Mudgal.

The video showed the magic of the monsoon and how it affected people. My inspiration was the legacy of film songs celebrating the rain that I had been hearing for years. Here are the other songs that come to my mind when I think of the monsoon. Allah megh de, paani de from Guide – a desperate pleading for rain has been so beautifully expressed in the song. It’s a plaintive cry; cattle plodding through the dust amongst hordes of thirsty villagers and their reluctant local saint, played by Dev Anand. The song’s very moving tone and the haunting voice of SD Burman make it more so. Much later, Ghanan ghanan from Lagaan expressed the same sentiments and showed us that even 50 years on, the monsoon is still pivotal for rural India. Then when the rains do come, no song represents the feeling better than Hariyala sawan dhol bajata aaya (Do Bigha Zameen, 1953, Salil Choudhary, Shailendra, Lata Mangeshkar and Manna Dey). Shailendra’s lyrics are evocative and full of lovely metaphors. The earth, decked out like a bride in a veil of green; the thunder of the clouds likened to the drumming of a dhol; the sheer joy of a parched

SHANTANU’S FAVOURITE MONSOON SONGS ■ Pyar hua ikraar hua hai – Shri 420 ■ Ek ladki bheegi bhaagi si – Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi ■ Rimjhim gire sawan – Manzil ■ Rimjhim rhimjhim – 1942:

A Love Story ■ O sajna barkha bahaar aai – Parakh ■ Ghanan ghanan – Lagaan ■ Barso re – Guru ■ Bhaage re mann – Chameli

■ Saawan ki raaton mein aisa bhi hota hai – Prem Patra ■ Kaali ghata chhaye mora jiyaa tarsaye – Sujata ■ Aaj rapat jaaye to hume na – Namak Halal

farming village that rejoices at the arrival of the rains. Of course, the ultimate romantic rain song for me is O sajna barkha bahaar aayi (Parakh, 1960, Salil Choudhary, Shailendra, Lata Mangeshkar). Not only is the music superb, so is the singing – Lata’s at her best. And while a young Sadhana (in one of her first films) is endearing, the imagery of the rain is what makes O sajna… stand out. Beautiful shots of rain drops as it falls on the leaves and trickles down forming pearls… can the monsoon get any more romantic? Of course, where there is love, can lust be far behind? In the ’80s, monsoon songs meant wet chiffonclad heroines shivering with rain and desire. Two songs that realy stand out for me are Kaate nahi kat


MONSOON DESIRE Kareena in a wet sari in Chameli looked the best she had in a long time

te ye din ye raat from Mr India in which Sreedevi looks stunning and Bhaage re mann from Chameli in which Kareena Kapoor is in a wet sari. The song is so beautifully shot that Kareena looked the best she has in a long time. Later she looks equally stunning in 3 Idiots as she gets wet with Aamir and they both gyrate to Bheegi bheegi saree mein yun thumke lagati tu. But as the language of cinema is changing, so is the dependency on rain decreasing to express emotions. However, trust me when I say that in Hindi film songs, the rains will never go out of fashion.




She describes herself as a ‘tomboy’, but this 20-year-old Delhi girl just won a spot in the international Ford Supermodel of the World contest to be held later this year in New York. Studying at a dental college, Ninja Singh decided to try her luck in modelling and auditioned for the contest. Besides winning the Indian edition, Ninja will also participate in the next Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week One word that describes you best?


If a traffic constable hauls you up, what will you do? I would say Bhaiya jane do. What makes you feel sexy? Poker-straight hair.

What did you do with your first pay cheque? Haven’t got one as yet!

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

The last time you rode on a bus?

I travelled on route number 611 in Delhi just last week.

Do you love Luv Storys? No, I don’t.

A tune you can’t get out of your head? Wish I was your lover by Enrique Iglesias. If you could have chosen your own name, what would you have chosen?

would break if you could get away with it? Driving a car without a licence.

A place where you would like to be lost for a month? Venice. It is so romantic.

Which superhero would you like to be and why? Wonder Woman, because she has a great body.

The last movie that made you cry? We Are Family. Love is...


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

I would choose the cycle as I can’t ride and I don’t know how to skateboard either.

What is the weirdest thing that ever went into your mouth? Nothing. I always see what I eat.

What makes your day?

I would have chosen Piya.

My dad shouting at me.

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

What screws it up?

I’m in love.

Your favourite freedom fighter?

Rani Lakshmibai.

The one law you

My brother smiling when I’m getting a scolding.

If you were the last person left on earth, what would you do? Sleep, and get over the nightmare.

— Interviewed by Veenu Singh










Hindustantimes Brunch 31 july 2011  

Hindustantimes Brunch 31 july 2011

Hindustantimes Brunch 31 july 2011  

Hindustantimes Brunch 31 july 2011