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Luxury Life & Style July – August 2017|Rs100

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Tanvi Shah: Music and much more

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Head to Riga – the city that never sleeps


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July - August 2017


EDITOR'S

NOTE I

am writing this note to you while sitting at the deck of our holiday home in the lovely hills of Kodaikanal, with a spectacular lake view and a

steaming cup of tea for company. Like the valleys and peaks of the hills before me, our lives are filled with the highs of achievements and the lows of disappointments. In between them, we seem to be running faster and faster, trying our best to fit in ever more activities. A couple of weeks back, I stopped to take stock of how the year has been thus far. It has been a very fulfilling six months in terms of my career and personal life but it has been extremely hectic and intense as well. I have been – literally – stopping to catch my breath at times, and glanced at the clock and wondered how the hours just melted away. It was at this point that I recalled something about the ‘100 Happy Days’ challenge – an initiative that asks the participant to do something that makes them happy – every day for 100 days. If you want, you can upload a picture of the ‘happy’ activity for the day on Twitter or Instagram or even email it to the founder of the challenge (at myhappyday@100happydays.com). It is Day Five of my challenge, and writing this note is my ‘happy activity’ for the day. It is a space

its own. It is a reminder that all good things take time and effort. And this is where a bit of TLC for one’s self comes in handy – it gives us strength and hope to handle challenges, and keeps us grounded when we hit the peaks of success. Go on, take up the 100 Happy Days challenge – and let me know about your experience.

where I get to connect with you, and share my thoughts.

Rohini Manian

LIVING has been a wonderful ride thus far, and it is

Editor-in-Chief

truly heartening to see it grow and take a shape of

rohini@globaladjustments.com July - August 2017

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INBOX “I really enjoyed the spotlight third gender in the cover

is online: www.issuu.com www.magzter.com

story. What a bold inclusive step by an upcoming magazine. Anjali Lama is lovely and a true inspiration. Congratulations Team LIVING!” Sharada Menon “As a team lead with International clients, your tips

To subscribe to this magazine, e-mail culturamaliving@globaladjustments.com

in dress and style are practical and upmarket without pinching the pocket. Thank you!” Alok Agarwal When I was on the OMR, I couldn't find LIVING in our IT Techpark and key stands. Is this only for the elite of central or south Chennai, as I saw it all over town there? Shyam Sarin Shyam, thank you for your feedback. LIVING is for every Indian with good taste and anyone aspiring to learn and grow. We will gladly send you copies to Ascendas from next month onwards. Team LIVING

Rohini Manian

Editor-in-Chief

Yamini vasudevan managing Editor Anupama arvinD vice president – business strategy Prem Kumar Creative Head |

Ankita s Graphic designer

V Ramkumar vice president – Finance | anu vardhan | basu shanker | deepa kalukuri | | devanshi mody | dr. marshall goldsmith | | padmaja nagarur | preeti verma lal | | Rukmini Vyas | sridevi Padmanabhan | | suraksha bhatla acharya | susan philip | Contributors

Cover photo by Navneet and Praneet

Chennai (Headquarters) 5, 3rd Main Road, R A Puram, Chennai – 600028 Telefax +91-44-24617902 E-mail culturamaliving@globaladjustments.com Bengaluru

Published and owned by Rohini manian at #5, 3rd Main Road, Raja Annamalai Puram, Chennai – 600028, and printed by K Srinivasan of Srikals Graphics Pvt

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July - August 2017


July - August 2017

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INSIDE

this issue 14 20 24

Sleepless in Riga Want to party like a wild child? Or take a quiet walk along historic trails? The Latvian capital awaits.

The Key For a Happy Soul Wellness is just a click away.

42

How to Influence Decision Makers What it takes to get your boss to say ‘Yes’.

30

Cue Notes

48

Train Like Tarzan, Look Like Jane

First Best Impression Want to land that dream job? Getting your outfit right is the first step.

No Waffling Around All the flavour of authentic Belgian waffles, right here.

Castles, Anyone? If you seek a royal getaway, start by taking a look at our pick of castles in Europe.

08

56 62

Not Just About Music

July - August 2017

We break the myth that lifting weights will cause women to develop rippling muscles.

52

34

6

A brief look at what made news in the last month.

Tanvi Shah talks about her biggest moment, creative pursuits,and her prescription for a successful life.

66

Old World Charm Spruce up your home with a blend of Victorian and modern décor.

What Every Home Needs... ...is a bit of art – and we tell you how to best display your favourite pieces.

In the Eye of the Beholder Photographer G.M.B. Akash on how he finds beauty in the fringes of society.


July - August 2017

7


Small Talk

You may know her for the hit song ‘Jai Ho’ from Slumdog Millionaire – but Tanvi Shah has so much more going for her! The ‘Chennai girl’ talks to Rohini Manian about how she never planned for music as a career, other creative pursuits and her prescription for a successful life 8

July - August 2017


Photo: Navneet and Praneet

Small Talk

July - August 2017

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Small Talk

I

t is not every day that a friend of yours

Did you ever feel any hesitation or fear when you decided

becomes an international celebrity overnight

that this is it – this is what your career is going to be?

– as did Tanvi Shah after her Grammy-winning ‘Jai Ho’ for Slumdog Millionaire. She was the

first Indian woman to win this prestigious award. Tanvi also shared the World Soundtrack Award (2009) with A.R. Rahman and Gulzar, besides receiving the BMI Award in London (in the same year), for that track. Following that, she was featured in Snoop Dogg’s song, ‘Snoop Dogg Millionaire’. She has since worked with musicians across the world, walked the green carpet at the Latin Grammy, and shared the stage with Lebohang Morake (the South African singer and composer who arranged and performed the music for The Lion King

movie and stage productions). She is also actively involved with the Cancer Institute and the ‘End Polio’ campaign by Rotary International. Did I also mention that she started a design label called ‘Tansha’ in between all of this? Despite her achievements, Tanvi remains down to earth and grounded. Also, I admire her constant efforts to better herself as a person in every way possible – in terms of health, knowledge and

kind of fear that comes into your head. But if I let fear take over, it is not going to let me move forward. You have to keep moving forward. You keep doing it, you keep taking it as it comes, and then you decide whether you want to move forward or not. I go into the studio, I sing and then get out. I never ask who or what it is about. Is there any stress that is associated with becoming a star? When you use big words like ‘star’, it is scary. In my head, I am all about raising the bar for myself – the ‘star’ part and fame comes later. If you let it get to you, that is the beginning of your end. I am not looking at any awards right now – I am focusing on my work, I want to be happy at the end of the day with whatever I do. I am living life on my own terms. I have had a lot of people come up to me and say, ‘That person is doing this – you should do it too.’ And I say ‘No! That is them. Then what is the difference between them and me?’ Is there anything that you would say that you hold as a motto

spirituality. That is why I regard her as a source of

or like a guiding mantra?

inspiration, and wanted her to be a part of LIVING. It

Live and let live! Just be happy! At the end of the

is with pleasure that I share some excerpts from our

day, if you’re not happy, nothing is going to happen.

conversation with you.

I have been following Sadguru [Jaggi Vasudev] for a

You were the first Indian woman to win a Grammy – how did

bit, and I feel I have calmed down a little. I like living

it feel when your name was announced on that stage? I seriously thought I was dreaming. It took me about five seconds…and then I went, ‘Oh my God! That is my name! That is our name!’ I went completely blank. And then, the moment happened. I still have the card with our names on it. And…that was it! I have been living my dream ever since. What was the first song you recorded? That wasn’t a recording as such – as in, not a recording in a studio. It was a karaoke session with friends and I think I had sung a Sarah McLachlan song. The rest is history…After that, I got a chance to sing with A.R. Rahman sir and…There is no looking back – just more learning and more experimenting. 10

Obviously! Before you start anything, there is some

July - August 2017

in the now, the present. I accept projects because they raise the bar in my head. It is [all about] my own learning. And I am learning so much. It [could be] about doing something good that day, or learning new lyrics or a new software. Anything. It is like a challenge to see what you can do. When I put my head down to sleep at night, I can definitely say, ‘Okay, I did this better today.’ You have sung in Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Spanish, Arabic and Portuguese. Any other languages that you want to sing in? Actually there are more – and I would not want to stop at that. I love to sing in different languages even though I may not speak all of them. I am just learning


Photo: Yogi Rao

Small Talk

the lyrics, and sitting with the lyricists and learning

something. If they are supposed to be in your life,

to pronounce the words. I am very lucky that I got to

they will stay in your life, otherwise you just have to

observe these things in the dormitories when I was

let them go. I feel life is too short to keep thinking

studying. I got to meet people from international

about or holding onto things. I like living in the now.

communities, and visit their cultural festivals.

The one thing I have learnt that is very important is

I love observing people, watching the way they talk, their facial expression, their body language. That is why I started picking up different genres of music. When you like a song, you might as well know the lyrics. When you sing along with the right pronunciation, it actually makes a difference.

that you say what you have to say, and stay positive. Any big changes you want to bring into your life? No big changes, but I do wish I could go into complete silence for a couple of days. For me, I think that is a difficult thing to do – for any of us – but I really want to try that. Complete silence for at least

Tell us about the people who have made an impact in your

four days – with no phone calls or anything. I do this

life – be it in music or life in general.

once in three months where I do a phone detox – I

There are too many people. I have met many people in this journey – not only from the music or design industries. And I have changed over the years. I am evolving...You take all the positives from people. There are people who come into your life for a specific reason, and you learn something from them. Whether it is a bad or good experience, you learn

am not on WhatsApp or messages, and I am not going to be available. It really helps! Tell us about your label, Tansha, and your love for design. I am a hands-on person. I love doing artwork and I design a lot of jewelry. I up-cycle a lot. Interior design is a pet peeve because my family has a décor store and I get to mess around with the tiles and wooden July - August 2017

11


Small Talk

“I am all about raising the bar for myself – the ‘star’ part and fame comes later. I am focusing on my work; I want to be happy with whatever I do. I am living life on my own terms.”

Photo: Yogi Rao flooring. It is fun to re-work or revamp a room or an office. The jewellery part...I have been doing it for a very long time. People still come up to me and ask me to design things for them. It is nice when you actually see your piece on someone. What would you say to youngsters who want the kind of success you have achieved? Diligence, dedication, discipline – you have to have these three ‘Ds.’ You have to work hard. Nothing is easy in life. And I think you enjoy it more when there is a little bit of hard work. There will be some cribbing – yet, when you see the end result, that’s the flattering part. It might come late but, if you put in hard work, there is no stopping you. You were born and brought up in Chennai?

an ith A .R . R ahm Tanvi Shah w y Awards at the Gramm Is there any other place that comes close to home? Close to home…I would say Los Angeles [United States]. I have been shuttling between Los Angeles and India over the last couple of years. I go there often because I can get to collaborate on my new gig and look for new artists. Sometimes I go there and come out with all my ideas. And over there, it is different because you can just go to a café and write. Sometimes you have a creative block…I can go there,

Yes, I am a Chennai ponnu [girl] any day! This is

let go and start creating again. Sometimes, you just

home. And I love my filter coffee, rasam, sambhar

need a new environment and atmosphere to just let it

and thayir saadam.

flow. So, I think LA would be my second home.

Rohini Manian is the CEO of Global Adjustments Services Pvt. Ltd., and the Editor-in-Chief of LIVING. 12

July - August 2017


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Tripster

Sleepless in Riga The capital of Latvia is known as the world’s favourite stag party haunt – but that’s not all there is to it. Preeti Verma Lal skips the revelry and heads off to explore the zeppelin hangars, Old Town, the churches and Daugava River. Be warned – this city will take your heart and your sleep

14

July - August 2017


Tripster

A

nd you thought you were insomniac. You imagined elusive sleep was your hand-picked

nemesis. Then you ain’t heard of Riga, yet. Of the insanely nocturnal city that is the Latvian capital. At 9 p.m., when I want to slip into my silk night dress, snooze under a red duvet and dream of a rainbow, Riga stretches out of a slumber – men daub after-shave, moussetidy bed-head hair; women hook their tiny black dresses, buckle their boots; nightclubs open their shutters; waitresses wriggle into stockings and corsets; strippers rub their cellulites off. Riga is a night walker. Riga wakes at my bedtime. It blows a big yawn at my waketime. Riga and I had a tiny time-skirmish. But sleeplessness had to wait. There was brouhaha at passport control. The lady at the Riga immigration desk had myriad questions. A precise ‘Why from India?’

Photos: Preeti Verma Lal (Clockwise from top left) Riga comes to life at night; the Freedom Monument; the Orthodox Church; the famous Riga clock

July - August 2017

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Tripster

A bridge on Daugava River, where lovers lock locks for eternal love. Photo: Preeti Verma Lal

Once upon a An unblinking ‘How long?’ A ‘Where stay?’ in a splutter.

Q

uestions do not perturb me but she peered so sternly that I, poker-faced, kept answering. She stared at me as if I had landed from Mars and India

was not even a scratch on the map. I thought of shaking her out of India-Latvia unknowing-ness, of reminding her about Boriss Avramecs of Riga’s Oriental Music Centre who knows a note or two about Indian music; of Karlis Egle who translated Rabindranath Tagore; of Latvian poet Rainis’ love for Indian philosophy; of Professor Viktors Ivbulis who wrote Shiva Creates and Destroys the World by Dancing; that exotic dance studio called Alegria where one can shake a bharatanatyam leg. She was too exasperated and I was too scared of tumbling dreary facts on her. Then, grumpiness thawed. She let me into Riga.

16

July - August 2017

time, people in Riga were so monied that women wore two fox furs and bathed in perfume.


Tripster

That’s how my riveting Riga tale began. Riveting? I have a story about that. Those rivets on your jeans. Thank Latvian Jacob Davis who partnered with Levi Strauss, and changed the world of clothing by sticking copper rivets on blue jeans. I was wearing a pair of blue. Funnily, I was walking in Riga with a riveting Latvian idea shining off my derriere.

I

Did you know? -

the world, dating all the way back to the

was in the world’s favourite stag party haunt, where

13th century.

taxis are red, the landscape green, the building

facades sculpted to art nouveau perfection, the

The Latvian flag is one of the oldest in

-

According to a study quoted by the Daily Mail,

harbour bustling, the music folksy, the drinks heady

Latvia has among the world’s tallest women,

and the jewellery amber. Once upon a time, Riga was

with the average lady coming in at 170 cm.

the Baltic’s most important seaport and people were so monied that women wore two fox furs and bathed in perfume – even the French envied their patisseries and boulangeries. Everything stayed ornate and

- Riga’s Central Market is one of Europe’s biggest markets. -

in jail. The Karosta district offers accommodation

embellished until the two World Wars that came

in the old military lockup complete with Soviet-

with their battalion of bruises and hatred. A

style treatment.

communist regime took over, old buildings were pulled down and, on the streets, nobody walked

-

perfumed. Everything ritzy made way for strife and the heavy-booted KGB men who patrolled with shrill goosesteps. Then, Riga changed.

a cliché. By hopping onto an audio city tour that meandered lazily and spooled the history of the ancient city that sits by the Daugava River that, as legend goes, was dug by heavenly animals on the orders of the gods. There is the Suspension Bridge, the

Latvians love to sing – they have over 1 million folk songs.

-

Latvia is Wi-Fi paradise. It has the world’s fourth fastest Internet connections, and over 800 free

I wanted to see the before-and-after Riga. The night was still a few hours away and I began with

In the port city of Liepaja, you can spend a night

connection points in Riga. -

The Ventas Rumba in Kuldiga is the widest waterfall in Europe.

-

Chugging down 78 litres of beer per capita every year, Latvians love a cold brew on a summer’s evening.

canary yellow Riga Castle where the Latvian President still lives, the TV tower that scrapes the sky, Hotel Latvija that was once the haunt of KGB officials, the July - August 2017

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Tripster

Going to Latvia? How to get there: The shortest connection from Delhi is a five-and-a-half hour Finnair flight to Helsinki; Riga is a 50-minute flight from Helsinki. Finnair flies every day from Helsinki to Riga. Latvia now falls under the Schengen visa. Where to stay: Choices include the Metropole Hotel, the oldest hotel in Riga, or Hotel Latvija, which was once the KGB’s headquarters. Where to eat: For a typical old world dining experience, go to Rozengrals, a medieval restaurant which is housed in an 800-yearold wine cellar. Lunch at Lido near the Dome Square; coffee at The Magic Bar; stay back for the Alchemy Show at 11 pm. Where to shop: Go to the Central Market near the Railway Station – it is the largest closed market in Europe. Be careful with your belongings. Check the street bazaar near the Dome Square, pick glass jewellery and the famous hand-knitted socks Getting around: Hop onto the City Tour bus or take up the walking tours that are available for

A Latvian woman in traditional costume. Photo: Preeti Verma Lal 18

July - August 2017

Old Riga town.


Photo: Preeti Verma Lal

Tripster

Town Hall Square (Right) The famous Bremen Town Musicians sculpture brown-bricked Academy of Science that is known as

comes with a roasted garlic accompaniment. I did not

Stalin’s Cake, the Laima Clock where lovers meet,

down a thick-as-custard inky black balsamic drink

the Freedom Maiden who holds three stars in her

supposedly simmered by an impious witch in a huge

hand, the street where the executioner was poled,

cauldron. Orange peel, lindeti blossoms and oak bark

the bridge where couples kiss and lock locks to lock

make that dark drink, which has been Latvia’s staple

their love immortal. The city seems interspersed with

since 1752 – quaff it here for you would not find the

churches – there are so many of them. However, it is

balsamic drink anywhere else in the world. If I were

the art nouveau buildings that had me mesmerised;

not a teetotaller I would have spooned it. I did not.

each window, each banister, every inch of the wall fit

I

for a place in the museum. Not surprisingly, Riga has a UNESCO World Heritage Site tag.

R

wore no watch. I looked up at the sky shimmering with a thousand stars. The city’s Town Hall was

iridescent with yellow lights, men and women were

iga can confuse a first-timer. More than

walking hand in hand recklessly into midnight, and

60-year-old trolley buses chortle down curly

Riga was warming up, getting ready for another

tracks; there are zeppelin hangars that now serve

sleepless night. That night there were many a stag

as Europe’s largest closed market; there’s an Old

parties in Riga but pubs are not my kind of place,

Town that can further flummox you with its modern

clubs not my idea of a swinging night and sin not

mien. In the hangars, women draped in downy coats

my leitmotif. I walked away from the clamour to the

sell fresh flowers and crunchy apples. Inside, dead

Daugava River and dipped my feet in.

pigs hang on colossal hooks, cheese blocks look as humungous as the melons, and the sausages are so large it could feed a starving nation. Walk a few steps in either direction and Riga will reveal its modernity. Sushi restaurants, ritzy bars, swanky shops, futuristic buildings…Then you see the elderly walking around with tales of Soviet occupation still occupying their pathos-laden eyes. When the first stars appeared in the clear sky, I chose to dine in Rozengrals, a medieval restaurant housed in an 800-year-old cellar, where bread is served wrapped in coarse cloth and rabbit meat

In Riga, I began with a tiny time-skirmish with the city. Riga and I have different sleep patterns. But I was beginning to love it. I had to say so. I walked up to the bridge where lovers lock locks for eternal love. I locked one for Riga and, in the night, whispered a gentle, ‘I love Riga’.

Preeti Verma Lal is a freelance writer and photographer. If God had asked her what she wanted to be, she'd tell Him to turn her into a farmer who also writes lyrically; her fingers stained with wet clay and deep blue ink. Visit www.deepblueink.com July - August 2017

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Techiela

The key for a HAPPY SOUL What is it – really – that keeps one calm

Greatist

amidst the world’s controlled chaos? A healthy life and a content mind. Deepa Kalukuri lists down some of the most interesting

Written by Derek Flanzraich, a well-known motivational writer,

self-development

a healthy body makes for a healthy mind! Derek writes about low-

websites in the online

among others. Simple workout tips for those who have a love-hate

Greatist focuses on physical health and development. As they say, calorie recipes, healthy snacks and non-boring ways of cooking,

universe, where you

relationship with the treadmill, and motivational advice for those

can find useful tips to

how physical energy combined with funky food choices makes a

achieve that balance

who need that push are also covered. Derek’s stories also focus on huge difference to a mundane life.

Visit www.greatist.com 20

July - August 2017


Techiela

Zen Habits If you are an all-rounder, jack of all trades or just love to multitask, this is one website that will help organise the millions of thoughts running through your mind. From season-specific diets to what Harry Potter taught us over the past two decades, Zen Habits is for curious minds that simply cannot organise to-do lists. Written by author and journalist Leo Babauta, the site talks about his personal experiences and how life is as simple as we make it, and is all about those small lessons that make for a happy human existence. Zen Habits was named one of the Top 25 blogs by TIME magazine in 2009. In case you were wondering, the word ‘zen’ comes from Japan and defines how Mahayana Buddhism emphasises the true value of meditation.

Tiny Buddha

Thinks about Lord Buddha, and serenity, love, peace and non-violence come to mind. The three pillars of Dharma – generosity, morality and meditation – are important tenets of Buddhism, and the religion teaches us many a thing about finding peace and serenity. Drawing inspiration from this, when Lori Deschene started ‘Tiny Buddha’, she wrote about how to let go of pain and welcome happiness in our lives. It focuses primarily on how we can use Buddha’s teachings in our day-to-day lives. Interestingly, 'How to get over the fear of abandonment' and 'How to say no' are among the most popular and trending posts on the site.

Visit www.tinybuddha.com

Visit www.zenhabits.net

Art of Manliness

There aren’t many bloggers or authors who write about self-help tips for men. Topics such as how to handle married life, kids, career and household are widely written about but are mostly addressed to women. Art of Manliness breaks the rut, and talks about how to challenge the stereotypes and turn out to be a winner against the ‘bold’ and ‘macho’ rules created for men. Written by Brett Mckay, the site encourages men to better their relationships at home and work. With tips in all areas, from grooming to career, it almost plays the part of a virtual buddy. The stories on the site take a leaf or two from the lives of great men in history – and how they coped with life and met society’s high standards.

Visit www.artofmanliness.com July - August 2017

21


Techiela

MindBodyGreen Jason Wachob, the author of Mind, Body, Green, has been extensively covered by leading media houses in the United States. The best-selling author of Wellth: How to build a life, Not a resume, draws inspiration from yoga and meditation. He also speaks about how yoga and meditation helped him become a better CEO and entrepreneur. Mind, Body, Green takes a cue from ancient Asian lifestyles and brings in the practice of ayurveda and feng shui. Many stories on the website revolve around positive energy and clean thoughts. The need for green living, especially in the age of global warming, is the main focus of the website.

Life Hack

Visit www.mindbodygreen.com

Science of People Founded by body language trainer, author and behavioural investigator Vanessa Van Edwards, Science of People teaches you how to decode people around you. Social tips, relationship science, business hacks and life strategies are the key facets of the website. The underlying principle is that one can achieve success if he/she learns how to succeed with people. For example, Vanessa talks about

Although it was founded by Lean Ho, many authors

how to read someone’s behaviour through a killer

and psychology experts contribute to Life Hack.

conversation – a good post for introverts looking to

The fact that it turns up as one of the top three

open up and learn the art of communication. Never

self-development websites in search engines

before has a blog focussed on building people skills

shows its popularity. Lean Ho designed the website

as much as this one.

to cater to demotivated minds and recurring failures, and Life Hack talks about how to accept criticism and deal with failures in life. Psychology, productivity, health, communication and work are the main areas of focus on the site. ‘Life’s killer formula for negotiation’, ‘Making the most of hard work’ and ‘Learning from your own fault’ are widely discussed posts on the website. Due to the open board for contributors, Life Hack brings different life experiences and lessons on a single platform.

Visit www.lifehack.org 22

July - August 2017

Visit www.scienceofpeople.com


Techiela

Be More with Less Courtney Carver, author and founder of this site, talks about how to simplify life and let go of worries. If you are looking to lead a minimalist life, Be More with Less is what you need. From dressing tips to creating a micro business, the website deals with minimal investments and maximum levels of content. Courtney believes that decluttering can change one’s life in a big way and that simplicity can bring peace – the right platform for the under-inspired and the overwhelmed. A survivor of multiple sclerosis, Courtney talks about why she chose to lead a simple life and shares inspiring stories filled with tips. The ‘Little guide to digital decluttering’, ‘7 tiny steps for the beginner minimalist’ and ‘25 ways to simplify your life in 10 minutes’ are some of the most popular posts on the site.

Brain Pickings

Visit www.bemorewithless.com

Pick the Brain

If you consider art as the most expressive form of human communication, this is one website you should add to your bookmarks. Founded by Maria Popova, the site is heavily influenced by culture and art. Paintings and poems are melded into life lessons and the author takes inspiration from artists such as Jean-Pierre Simeon and Olivier Tallec, among others. Maria also draws excerpts from children’s books and popular poems, which

“The mind is like an iceberg, it floats with one-seventh

talk about life’s lessons and adding meaning to

of its bulk above water,” said Sigmund Freud. All that

our souls. The ad-free website is run on donations

a human wants, needs and achieves start from the

by art lovers and followers of art expressions.

brain and make it to the bucket list. Thus, to achieve any goal in life, a healthy mind is key. The foundation to attain peace and self-satisfaction comes from how our thoughts design our decisions – and this site is built on this understanding. Erin Falconer, the Editorin-Chief of Pick the Brain is one of most popular motivational speakers in the world. Her stories are ideal for those who love experimenting with life and love learning, for this is one website that leaves no topic uncovered.

Visit www.brainpickings.org

Visit www.pickthebrain.com July - August 2017

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July - August 2017


Personal Shopper

First Best Impression As the saying goes, ‘Perception is reality’ – especially in job interviews. Anu Vardhan gives you some pointers on how to ensure that your dressing pulls up your image and confidence by a few notches

July - August 2017

25


Personal Shopper

“First impressions matter. Experts say we size up new people in somewhere between 30 seconds and two minutes.” - Elliott Abrams (former American diplomat, lawyer and political scientist)

H

eading for an interview? No matter how well qualified you may be, it is ‘you’ that the interviewer sees first. Hence, the image you present is crucial. Simply put, if there are two candidates with the same qualifications, the one who pays more attention to his/her

outfit and styling will stand a better chance at landing the job. So, think about the image you want to project during an interview and then choose an outfit that will create a positive perception – one that marries the expectations of the prospective employer, and your own parameters of style, affordability and comfort. In simple terms, you have to dress as though you already have the job. Here are some key pointers to help you plan the right outfit for your next interview.

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July - August 2017


Personal Shopper

In the Right Company

You need to find out what your interviewer will be wearing. Of course, you cannot call them to ask such questions but you can visit their website/ LinkedIn profile to find out how they present themselves. You could also enquire among friends as to what sort of culture the company follows, and keep your outfit close to that. It is not a good idea to turn up in a suit when you interviewer(s) is wearing smart casuals. However, don’t sacrifice your own sense of style or try hard to imitate what others are doing. Mark Zuckerberg may wear a tee-shirt and sandals in his office but that doesn’t mean you turn up in a similar outfit for an interview at a social media company.

Balancing Style and Comfort If a blouse or pair of shoes looks fantastic but does not fit you well or does not match your ingrained sense of style, put it away immediately. You should feel comfortable and confident in whatever you wear. In other words, you shouldn’t wear anything you have not worn before. Let’s say you have never worn a suit before, and you buy one just for the interview. You may not feel comfortable in it, and may not even like yourself in it. Also, you won’t know how the suit ‘behaves’ on you. For instance, what if the fabric feels itchy and hot, or the arms are too tight? In such cases, you could skip the suit and wear a formal white or light blue shirt and dark pants. If a suit is mandatory, buy one at least a week before and practise wearing it every day until the day of the interview so that you are used to it.

July - August 2017

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Personal Shopper

Outfits that work for almost every interview For Men: Crisp

Keep it all together

button-down white or light blue shirt with

Interviewers usually look for

formal grey or dark

candidates who show a good sense of

coloured trousers or

organisation – your outfit gives away

chinos, brogues, and

plenty of clues in this regard. At the

watch. A simple textured

very least, avoid wearing more than

blazer or jacket in grey

three different colours – this is the best

can come in handy if

and easiest way to ensure that your

you need to appear more

outfit looks well put together. Also,

formal (or if the air-

remember that your shoes, socks,

conditioning is too strong).

watch and bag are a part of your

By sticking to simple

outfit. They have to be chosen in

yet classic basics, you

line with your clothes in terms of

will ensure that the interviewer

colours and size to ensure they

focuses on you and not

don’t stand out in a bad way.

your clothes.

Avoid wearing too many layers or accessories – they can look messy and make you feel uncomfortable.

For women: A blouse in a block colour or a white shirt with dark skinny jeans or cigarette pants, brogues and a welltailored blazer is a good go-to for a formal outfit. If you prefer a skirt, choose one in a fabric that you feel comfortable in. While cottons are timeless, silk and chiffon can be flattering for curvy shapes. A smart watch

Pay attention to detail

is mandatory. Keep your earrings simple – preferably just a simple pearl or diamond stud. If you prefer The devil is in the details, as they say. So, polish your shoes, make sure your nails and hair are neat, and iron your clothes. Keep make-up and perfume to a minimum.

Indian clothes, go for a sari or kurta in neutral tones. Choose fabrics that look neat and will not puff up or droop excessively. Avoid blouses or scarves in bright, contrasting colours, and wear simple accessories.

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July - August 2017


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Missed reading the papers? Susan Philip curates some of the key happenings from the last month so that you are in the know

Covfefe. Covfefe?

In Solidarity

What happened? Just as May was turning into June, American President Donald Trump chose to flummox the world. He tweeted: “Despite the negative press covfefe.” And

that, cryptically, was that. So? So, what exactly is covfefe? If it was a slip of the thumb, what did he actually mean to say? Did he fall asleep mid-tweet? The mind simply boggles with possibilities. And? The tweet was left intact for around five hours. Trump deleted it at about 6 a.m. on June 1. By then, Twitteratti had banged its collective brains out trying to decipher the code, and simultaneously split its

Harry celebrated Iftar – the traditional breaking of the daily fast in the month of Ramadan in the Islamic calendar – and interacted with young volunteers of Jamiyah Singapore, a community welfare centre run by Muslims in Singapore, during an official visit. So? Even as Prince Harry went about his engagements in Singapore in support of the causes he champions, including succor for children living with HIV-AIDS, his country’s flag at the British High Commissioner’s residence was flying at half-mast, mourning victims of the latest terror attack in London, for which the ISIS claimed responsibility. And? Prince Harry joined the members of the Muslim community gathered at the centre in bowing their heads in remembrance of those who had lost their lives in the terror attack. Who said what?

sides laughing at comments from the massively

“Let peace and harmony prevail in communities

talented humourists out there.

all over the world.” – Muhammad Rafiuddin Ismail,

Who said what? “Who can figure out the true meaning of ‘covfefe’??? Enjoy!” – Donald Trump, replacing the original tweet. “What makes me saddest is that I know I'll never write anything funnier than #covfefe.” – Jimmy Kimmel “Say ‘cofveve’ ten times fast.” – Bob Marsdale

30

What happened? The United Kingdom’s Prince

Secretary-general, Jamiyah Singapore “He [Prince Harry] appreciated the solidarity in condemning the acts by these individuals, who do not represent any religion or community.” – Nazhath Faheema, Singapore’s Youth Ambassador of Peace, who sat next to Prince Harry at the Iftar meal. Trivia: The Shree Narasimhamoorthy Temple in Kerala hosted a vegetarian Iftar this year following

Trivia: Trump’s profile name on Twitter is @

on the generous contribution by Muslims of the

realDonaldTrump. He has over 32,000,000 followers.

region to the temple’s restoration.

July - August 2017


Cue notes

Public Private Lives

Father’s Day What happened? Augusto Lima (pictured below), playing Centre for Zalgris Kaunas, was not on the field when his team won the playoffs in the prestigious Euroleague Basketball 2016-17 season. He had asked for, and received permission

What happened? The election of French President Emmanuel Macron (39) made news as much for his

from his coach Sarunas Jasikevicius, (pictured above) to return home to attend the birth of his first child.

private life as for his public and political life. The

So? Jasikevicius was put in the position of having

talking point is his wife Brigitte. Their love affair

to defend Lima’s absence as a persistent journalist

dates back 24 years, and there’s a 24-year gap

questioned him on the relative importance of family

between their ages.

vs. team at a post-match press conference.

So? It all began when Emmanuel was 15 and

And? Jasikevicius’ unequivocal response highlighting

Brigitte was 39. She was a teacher at his school

the joys and importance of parenthood, caught on

– married, with three children. Her daughter was

video, went viral. It turns the spotlight on a change

Emmanuel’s classmate.

that has overtaken the testosterone-dominated

And? It was no calf love. Brigitte divorced her husband in 2006, and married Macron a year later. The couple has made no secret of their story. Who said what? "We do not have a classic family, it's undeniable. But do we have less love in this family? I do not think so. Maybe there’s even more than conventional families." – Emmanuel Macron “For goodness sake, he was a 15-year-old schoolboy and she was his 40-year-old married, mother-ofthree teacher – anyone who is pretending that it

field of sport. High-profile sportspersons now openly demonstrate their love for their families, and share tender moments with their children on social media. Who said what? “When you see your first child, you will understand what the most important thing in life is. Because nothing can be more majestic in the world than the birth of a child. ” – Jasikevicius “It is undoubtedly the best gift of my life.” Instagram post by Lima on the birth of his daughter, Alba. Trivia: Cricket’s greats like Ricky Ponting, Michael

is unfeminist, or parochial, or I don’t know what, to

Hussey and Sachin

raise an eyebrow at this is not helping anything.” –

Tendulker are some

Hadley Freeman in The Guardian

of the world-famous

Trivia There’s exactly the same age difference, but the other way around, between United States President Donald Trump and his wife Melania. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is older than her husband, Joachim Sauer, by five years.

sportsmen who have included and acknowledged their children in celebrating their triumphs. July - August 2017

31


Royal Sojourn

entertainment centers in town. I was cruising and singing in tune to the radio, when my eyes saw a board that read ‘Buckingham Gardens’. The place was intriguing, and I decided to explore it. The guards at the entrance made a quick call, and the gates were

I

thrown open. t was a spectacular day. Mild showers had refreshed the atmosphere. The smell of

eyes. With 15 exclusive tropical Asian villas, which are

wet earth was extremely rare in the bustling

examples of architectural eloquence, the Buckingham

cities of today, and small, wonderful pleasures

Gardens is bedecked with seven-star comfort.

are to be savoured. I had been to South India before

Moreover, it is just 500 m away from the ocean. I

but was a bit anxious about Chennai. I had decided

parked my car and decided to explore further by foot.

to take the plunge in 2015, after reading an article

I met Mr. George Cherian – the man behind the project

in the Lonely Planet that called Chennai ‘The soul

– whose affable nature and infectious smile won me

of South India’. I have been hooked to this city ever

over. As he took me around the property, it was evident

since. It has a strong sense of tradition, an exquisite

that he has thought of all possible ways to make this

culture, and an optimum mix of western and Indian

place a truly luxurious sanctuary – one that is unlike

influences. In all, this city has a beautiful soul.

any other.

I was cruising along the East Coast Road (ECR), which runs along the sea. This stretch is home to some of the best schools, hospitals, resorts and 32

I was amazed by the sheer opulence that met my

July - August 2017

I

discovered that the villas were built in three different styles – Orchid, Jasmine and Lotus, to reflect three

different personalities. The Orchid Villas have an open


With all the luxuries you need at one place, the Buckingham Gardens is where you should set up home Mark Brown concurs after visiting the luxurious property.

W

design where the entire villa is accessible through

property that is equipped to be a posh art gallery,

a lavish foyer. This is ideal for those who entertain

a café, a bistro, fashion boutique or spa. I began to

regularly, as they can host their parties and get-

plan about how my wife could exhibit her paintings

togethers with great élan.

and handicrafts there.

Jasmine Villas are distinguished by open and

ith a beautiful tennis clay court, a swimming pool and jacuzzi, peaceful reading room,

and games room, the club house offers all the amenities needed to ease the stress of a tough week off your shoulders. Furthermore, the Garden House is a commercial space adjacent to the

There is something even better – the

semi-open spaces including an open-to-sky courtyard,

Buckingham Gardens offers an unforgettable

and offers a seamless transition between the indoors

boat ride down the glorious Buckingham Canal

and outdoors. Here, one feels the strong presence of

and Muthukadu Lake! Your own private boat,

nature, all the more pronounced thanks to the open-

which offers you an exclusive ride, right here in

to-sky courtyard.

your backyard! With such a slew of luxuries

The Lotus Villas have a traditional layout and a regal wrap-around verandah. These villas have been

served up, there was little to keep me from booking my own villa!

designed to allow maximum privacy, and I could

Pay this marvelously detailed Buckingham Gardens

almost imagine my family and me inside this cosy yet

a visit today. To schedule an appointment, call

magnificent home.

Raj Waterscapes at +91 98400 32633. July - August 2017

33


The Big Picture

Castles, Anyone? Are castles inherited or bought? Given the inherent romance and mystery surrounding these royal residences, it is common to see

shelter princesses with golden tresses that pour out of lofty towers like liquid sunshine and are habitually attended

by Prince Charming. Palaces evoke opulence and flamboyance, whilst castles are about fortifications and moats – precautions against attack. Curiously, despite the former’s accessories of luxury and the

a bit of both. What if

latter’s belligerent associations, palaces want the

you can’t do either?

‘curiously’ and yet romance is as treacherous as

Devanshi Mody

remoteness and rugged romance of castles. I say war so it’s appropriate that the assaults of passion and charges of Cupid’s arrows are coupled not with

presents a pick of

the cushiness of palaces but with the ambiguous

castles in Europe

typically to fortify themselves against onslaught

where you can get your fix of royalty 34

C

astles conjure fairytale romances,

July - August 2017

boundaries of castles. But if castles are designed then the reader needs arm himself against their irresistible attractions. It is, after all, the Château de Versailles and not the Palais du Louvre that was the star of the French Revolution!

Photo: Courtesy Inverlochy Castle


The Big Picture

July - August 2017

35


The Big Picture

C

astles can be bought nowadays – online, too! Indeed, Britain’s posh-est magazine, Tatler, recently featured ‘Property Porn’

about purchasable castles. Royal and aristocrat owners can no longer afford to maintain them. The nouveau riche have spare pocket money to pick up a castle or two. They probably rush with romantic notions oblivious of the enormous costs of resurrecting these medieval structures. An aristocratic friend named Pierre, in Paris, spoke of his sister’s castle in Strasbourg, listed amongst France’s most sensational; where he recalls arriving to find

Photos: Courtesy Inverlochy Castle

‘Madame La Comtesse’ in a gown presiding grandly over a poetry reading amidst the aristocratic cream, as cascades of water tumbled behind her from dilapidated pipes several centuries old… Last year Pierre rued that circumstances compelled his sister to sell her castle to a bourgeois buyer. My French aristocratic friends have frequently sobbed over their renounced castles. Pierre’s family – amongst France’s most ancient – boasted numerous castles in the family, the loveliest he says were bombed

36

July - August 2017


The Big Picture

during the World Wars. I stayed, however, in the last remaining family castle that Pierre’s eldest brother inherited and fiercely guards – being the snootiest of French aristocrats entrenched in the belief that the French aristocracy must protect themselves and their properties against bourgeoisie invasions. Why not, for my experiences of castle life are of

Photos: Chateau de Vault de Lugny

transportations to peaceful times when time treaded with a genteel step. No

“My experiences of castle

wonder then that

life are of transportations

me, “Il faut épouser

to halcyon times when time treaded with a genteel step.”

Pierre often exhorts un château” (“Marry a man with a castle,” but he means strictly an aristocratic man).

July - August 2017

37


Photos: Courtesy Chateau Sainte Sabine

The Big Picture

R

etaining the château in the family has impelled

including Etienne, are artists and penurious. Ensued

impoverished aristocrats to marry billionaire

a bitter battle between the two older boys working in

bourgeois women in quest of ‘name’ who sustain

finance. The eldest prevailed, dismaying the others

their heritage. Increasingly, the eldest son doesn’t

who resent seeking permission to visit “our country

necessarily inherit the castle, as my friend Etienne

house” (which their “castle” is euphemistically called)

(from yet another illustrious old family) reveals.

and would have preferred a third party buying it!

They sold the immense and unmanageable castle their mother inherited. Their father’s smaller but exquisitely pretty moated castle was offered to the richest of the four brothers. The two youngest, 38

July - August 2017

Yes, castles generate as many resentments as romances. Especially as another friend’s mother expropriated the family castle, contending her deceased sisters’ children couldn’t maintain it whilst


The Big Picture

she has restored it admirably, upholding France’s

Burgundy – the 13th century Château de Vault de

national heritage…I recall a Parisian once asking

Lugny with a dungeon, 100 acres of sumptuous

provocatively, “Are any of your aristocratic friends

private parks and lush gardens where exotic

selling a castle? I’ll buy.” I retorted annoyed,

peacocks strut beside Porsches. The present

“Castles are inherited, not bought.” She responded

owner purchased this castle 50 years ago. She’s

coolly and realistically, “Castles are for those

an ardent Indophile. Unsurprisingly, when some

who can afford them.”

Indians, strictly vegetarian, private-jetted in the

B

château's Mauritian-Indian sous-chef, concocted

uying and not inheriting a castle is embarrassing. But one can still stay (if not live)

in one, as many castles have been converted into luxury hotels. These are, however, hotels and don’t rival being received by a family of impressive lineage with tales of ancestral chivalry and valour to tell. Yet, when at a cocktail in Paris, someone mentions a

fabulous castle hotel in Burgundy whose incumbent

a banquet of Indian cuisine at their hypnotising cellar-turned-gastronomic restaurant. Now, Indian vegetarian cuisine in a French castle is no fairytale! And yet, you can awake next morning for the finest of French breakfasts in Burgundy and relish them over the most lavish lawns. Whilst Vault de Lugny has preserved the castle’s

bourgeois owners are inviting me to weekend, I zip

medieval charm and aura; with canopied four-

zealously down to the most idyllic escape in verdant

poster beds and period furniture, Château Saint July - August 2017

39


The Big Picture Sabine, with its pristine parks and unspoilt facade

rocks up in an Aston Martin and whizzes me to Skibo

notwithstanding, has been clinically modernised.

Castle. So, whilst the blue-blooded newly-weds don’t

The almost tragically funky interiors could be in

slumber in a castle, I have a fairytale ending to my

any modern city 5-Star. Only the views of endless

evening. I then don’t realise I’m in one of the world’s

pastures speckled with church towers outside

most exclusive castles-turned-private-clubs.

remind that one is in the countryside.

C

Having awoken in a private villa and traversed

astles are often rented for weddings. When a

stretches of lawns to breakfast rooms overlooking

friend from Oxford married with the Queen’s

fountained gardens with lakes beyond, I realise

cousin for a mother and a Scottish nobleman for

I could be sitting next to Bill Clinton here. After

a father, it was only

breakfast, a right

seemly that she hire

royal treat,

a castle in the village

management intimates

her father hailed from

that I might be the

(exalted pedigree

legendary Alah-n’s

notwithstanding, a

latest friend but this

castle had to be rented,

most private of clubs

some ungenerous

is the prerogative of an

guests sniggered…).

ultra high-profile clique.

The reception had

Media disallowed.

champagne flow all

S

night (well, until the castle shut – that’s what

myself. Inverlochy

own your own castle,

enchants in one of

dahlin). There was a

Scotland’s most

magnificent fireworks

exhilarating nooks.

display for which we

But it isn’t “steeped in

were extracted from

history,” as the website

the castle in the biting

claims, being built in

November breeze, to

1863 and converted

stand around the moat

100 years later into a

to watch. Sadly, the

hotel. Skibo Castle too,

marriage fizzled out as

for all its grandeur,

fast as the fireworks, so, don’t necessitate

is a nineteeth- or

Photo: Courtesy Kinloch Lodge

fairytale marriages. Outliving the marriage is the memory of

40

hotels receptive

to lesser mortals like

happens when you don’t

fairytale castle weddings

o I seek castle

twentieth-century construct created by

industrialist Andrew Carnegie. A real castle is one where the walls have been privy to centuries of

what transpired after that reception. I hadn’t

aristocratic extravagances and indeed austerities.

accommodation that night. Someone I met the

Never mind, Inverlochy seduces with stunning suites

previous evening slipped me a friend’s contact, “He’s

overlooking never-ending parks. One must dress

wild and eccentric and wears a kilt but can maybe

for supper in the Michelin-starred restaurant with

help.” This chap who calls himself ‘Alah-n’ has hair

regal décor and lavish views. However, they haven’t

like Einstein, braves a kilt in Scottish winter winds,

a concierge and hardly a reception, so the GM might

July - August 2017


Photo: Courtesy Kinloch Lodge

The Big Picture

“My sole encounter with a

Lord Macdonald’s hunting lodge is an idyll you want

German castle hotel is Lerbach Castle in Colon, where celebrated

P

chef Dieter Müller had a

of the ‘Disney Castle’. My sole encounter with

3-Michelin-starred restaurant.”

Colon, where celebrated chef Dieter Müller had a

well send you scuttling on a two-hour journey across Scotland to catch a non-existent train but will shirk responsibility for defective travel information or for stranding you in an obscure train station… The staggering beauty of the surrounds viewed

to wrap yourself away in to write a book. eople often forget that Germany too is ‘castle country’. Indeed. Mad King Ludwig’s fabled

hilltop castle Neuschwanstein was the prototype a German castle hotel is Lerbach Castle in 3-Michelin-starred restaurant. I’ve just flown in. The GM greets me, shows me my rooms – in a tower, cold because they have a traditional fireplace, but are prudent with wood. Yet, the views of mighty greenery outside elevate. Then, the GM informs me, “You are

late,” in that singularly Germanic fashion (the flight

from 17th century antiques-filled interiors and

was tardy). He’s irked that the stringently-timed

olive-walled Michelin starred restaurant replete with

property tour he must escort me on is delayed. We

countless portraits of illustrious royal personages

must commence it at once. I request the use of the

seasoned with the delicious hospitality of Lord

rest room before we embark. “It is not part of the

Macdonald’s daughter Isabella and her husband Tom

programme” he’s unrelenting. Clearly, not all castles

make Kinloch Lodge an authentic castle experience.

come with a Prince Charming!

After reading Physics, French and Philosophy at Oxford, Devanshi Mody gallivanted about the globe and stumbled into travel writing fortuitously. Vagabond urges notwithstanding, she's ever lured back to Chennai for masala dosas! July - August 2017

41


Brand Me

o t w Ho Influence Decision

Makers 42

July - August 2017


Brand Me

The great majority of people tend to focus downward. They are occupied with efforts rather than results. They worry over what the organisation and their

To put your

superiors ‘owe’ them and should do for them. And they are conscious above all of

knowledge

to the best use possible, it is critical that you win over the key

the authority they ‘should have’. As a result, they render themselves ineffectual.

P

– Peter Drucker

eter Drucker has written extensively about the impact of the ‘knowledge worker’ in modern organisations. Knowledge workers can be defined as people who know more about what they are doing than their managers do. Many knowledge workers have years of education

and experience in training for their positions, yet they have almost no training in how to effectively influence decision makers. The eleven guidelines listed below are intended to help you do a better job of influencing decision makers. In some cases, these decision makers may be

decision

immediate or upper managers – in other cases they may be peers or cross-

makers

helping you convert your good ideas into meaningful action.

organisational colleagues. I hope that you find these suggestions to be useful in

in your

Every decision that impacts our lives will be made by the person who has the

organisation.

the ‘best’ person. Make peace with this fact.

Dr. Marshall Goldsmith shares some

power to make that decision – not the ‘right’ person, or the ‘smartest’ person, or As simple and obvious as this statement may seem, I am amazed at how few (otherwise intelligent) people ever ‘get’ this point. When your child comes home from school and complains, “It’s not fair! The teacher gave me a ‘C’ and I really deserved an ‘A’!”, we, as parents, should say, “Welcome to the real world, kid! In life, you have to accept the fact that decision-makers make decisions – and that

useful pointers

you are not always the decision maker.” Once we make peace with the fact that

on how you

we become more effective in influencing others.

can master the art of convincing the right people for the right reasons

the people who have the power to make the decisions always make the decisions, When presenting ideas to decision makers, realise that it is your responsibility to sell – not their responsibility to buy. In many ways, influencing ultimate decision makers is similar to selling products or services to external customers. They don’t have to buy – you have to sell! While the importance of taking responsibility may seem obvious in external sales, an amazing number of people in large corporations spend countless hours ‘blaming’ management for not buying their ideas. Former Harvard Professor Chris Argyris pointed out how “upward feedback” often turns into “upward buck-passing”. We can become “disempowered” when we focus on what others have done to make things wrong and not what we can do to make things right. The effective influencer needs to be a good teacher. Good teachers realise that communicating knowledge is often a greater challenge than possessing knowledge.

July - August 2017

43


“Every organisation has limited resources, time and energy. The acceptance of your idea may well mean the rejection of another idea.” that will only have a negligible impact on results. Focus on issues that will make a real difference. Be especially sensitive to the need to win trivial nonbusiness arguments on things like restaurants, sports teams, or cars. You are paid to do what makes a difference and to win on important issues, not to win arguments on the relative quality of athletic teams. Present a realistic ‘cost-benefit’ analysis of your ideas – don’t just sell benefits. Every organisation has limited resources, Focus on contribution to the larger good – and the needs of the decision maker – not just the achievement of your objectives. An effective salesperson would never say to a

may well mean the rejection of another idea that someone else believes is wonderful. Be prepared to have a realistic discussion of the costs of your idea. Acknowledge the fact that something else

customer, “You need to buy this product, because if

may have to be sacrificed in order to have your

you don’t, I won’t achieve my objectives!” Effective

idea implemented. By getting ready for a realistic

salespeople relate to the needs of the buyers,

discussion of costs, you can ‘prepare for objections’

not to their own needs. In the same way, when

to your idea before they occur.

influencing decision makers, focus on the impact of your suggestion on the overall corporation. Don’t assume that executives can automatically “make the connection” between the benefit to your unit and the benefit to the larger corporation. Strive to win the ‘big battles’ – don’t waste your energy and ‘psychological capital’ on trivial points. Do a thorough analysis of ideas before ‘challenging the system’. Don’t waste time on issues 44

time and energy. The acceptance of your idea

July - August 2017

‘Challenge up’ on issues involving ethics or integrity – never remain silent on ethics violations. Enron, WorldCom and other organisations have dramatically pointed out how ethics violations can destroy even the most valuable companies. The best of corporations can be severely damaged by only one violation of corporate integrity. Hopefully, you will never be asked to do anything by the management of your corporation that represents a


Brand Me

“Make a positive difference – don’t just try to ‘win’ or ‘be right’.”

violation of corporate ethics. If you are, refuse to do

Treat decision makers with the same courtesy that

it and immediately let upper management know of

you would treat customers – don’t be disrespectful.

your concerns. When challenging up, try not to assume that

While it is important to avoid ‘kissing up’ to decision makers, it is just as important to avoid the

management has intentionally requested you to

opposite reaction. A surprising number of middle

do something wrong. In some cases, a seemingly

managers spend hours ‘trashing’ the company and its

inappropriate request may merely be the result of a

or other co-workers.

misunderstandings or poor communication. Try to present your case in a manner that is intended to be helpful, not judgmental. Realise that powerful people are just as ‘human’ as you are – don’t say, “I am amazed that someone at this level…” It is realistic to expect decision makers to be competent; it is unrealistic to expect them to be anything other than normal humans. How many times have we thought, “I would assume someone at this level…” followed by “should know what is happening”, “should be more logical”, “wouldn’t make that kind of mistake”, or “would never engage in such inappropriate behaviour”? Even the best of leaders are human. We all make mistakes. When your managers make mistakes, focus more on helping rather than judging them.

Before speaking it is generally good to ask four questions: • Will this comment help our company? • Will this comment help our customers? • Will this comment help the person that I am talking to? • Will this comment help the person that I am talking about? If the answers are no, no, no, and no – don’t say it! There is a big difference between total honesty and dysfunctional disclosure. Support the final decision of the organisation – don’t say, “They made me tell you” to direct reportees. Assuming that the final decision of the organisation is not immoral, illegal or unethical,

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Brand Me

“By focusing on the future, you can concentrate on what can be achieved tomorrow, as opposed to what was not achieved yesterday.” go out and try to make it work! Managers who consistently say, “They told me to tell you” to co-workers are seen as ‘messengers’ not leaders. By demonstrating our lack of commitment to the final decision we may sabotage the chances for effective execution. A simple guideline for communicating difficult

Focus on the future – ‘let go’ of the past. One of the most important behaviours to avoid is ‘whining’ about the past. Have you ever managed someone who incessantly whined about how bad things are? When people consistently whine, they inhibit any change they may have for impacting the future. Successful people love getting ideas aimed

decisions is to ask, “How would I want someone to

at helping them achieve their goals for the future.

communicate to their people if they were passing

They dislike being ‘proven wrong’ because of their

down my final decision and they disagreed with me?”

mistakes in the past. By focusing on the future, you

Treat decision makers in the same way that you

can concentrate on what can be achieved tomorrow,

would want to be treated if the roles were reversed.

as opposed to what was not achieved yesterday. This

Make a positive difference – don’t just try to ‘win’ or ‘be right’. We can easily become more focused on what others are doing wrong, than how we can make things better. An important guideline in influencing up is to always remember your goal – make a positive difference for the organisation. When I was interviewed in the Harvard Business Review, I was asked, “What is the most common ‘area for improvement’ for the executives that you meet?” My answer was, “Winning too much.” Focus on making a difference. The more other people can ‘be right’ or ‘win’ with your idea, the more likely your idea is to be successfully executed.

future orientation may dramatically increase your odds of effectively influencing decision makers. In summary, think of the years that you have spent ‘perfecting your craft’. Think of all of the knowledge that you have accumulated. Think about how your knowledge can potentially benefit your organisation. How much energy have you invested in acquiring all of this knowledge? How much energy have you invested in learning to present this knowledge to decision makers – so that you can make a real difference? My hope is that by making a small investment in learning to influence decision makers, you can make a large, positive difference for the future of your organisation.

Dr. Marshall Goldsmith is the million-selling author of the New York Times bestsellers MOJO and What Got You Here Won’t Get You There – the Harold Longman Award winner for Business Book of the Year. Article courtesy: http://www.marshallgoldsmith.com 46

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Health Wise

Fitness newbies often assume that lifting weights might lead to their developing rippling muscles – a fear that causes many women to shy away from routines that aim to increase muscle mass. Basu Shanker clears the air of such misconceptions

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Health Wise

M

ost people hold deeply ingrained

have more testosterone, so their body structure and

stereotypes about workouts and

form is entirely different. Furthermore, even if men

training routines – even after they

work out regularly and intensely, it is not easy to get

begin working out. For example, after

ripping muscles – it requires a lot of hard work.

working out a couple of times, they are convinced that their body is now fit and toned. Truth is, nothing happens initially – it is just psychological. In reality, it takes a good 10 weeks before you will get to see some changes! Women, in particular, fear lifting weights – they

What we should be focusing on as the ultimate goal of a fitness routine are the markers of fitness per se – recovery, a feeling of well-being, fat loss, and better stamina. To get these benefits, you need to work on increasing your muscle mass. To show you the real life benefits of such a change, let me

assume that doing so will cause them to develop a

share my experience. I once had a female client who

masculine body (with rippling muscles and biceps,

had 43 per cent fat (dexa), as well as back and knee

no less!). They fear they will become masculine. Let

issues. She was 35 years old. After just six months of

me assure you that this is almost impossible. Men

training, she had cut down her fat to 34 per cent, and July - August 2017

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Health Wise her back and knee pain vanished. Most importantly,

of muscle you gain you burn an extra 50 calories

she won a beauty pageant in her office!

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till not convinced? Then read the key benefits of undertaking weights training as listed below:

a day. - The more muscle you have, the more strength you have – the number two predictor of longevity.

- The more muscle and bones you have, the greater the acid buffering power you have. You will now have more protein, potassium, magnesium and calcium to buffer the acidity in your body. - According to many studies, the greater your

I

say this from my 15 years of experience as a strength and conditioning coach – for every kilo

of lean tissue gained, there was an equal loss of weight in body fat. In other words, the person’s body

muscle mass, the greater the longevity potential.

composition changes dramatically. For example, a

It is, in fact, the number one biomarker of

female executive with 60 kg in bodyweight with 20

longevity, and a far better predictor of longevity

per cent body fat has 12 kg of fat. If, in 10 weeks,

than total cholesterol or blood pressure.

she gains 4 kg of muscle mass and loses 4 kg of fat,

- The more muscle you have, the more insulin receptor sites you have, and the more sensitive they will be. Increased muscle prevents diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Translation: The more muscle you have, the easier it is to have low body fat. - The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest. It is estimated that for every pound

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Especially for women, strength is empowering.

July - August 2017

her body fat will now be 13 per cent. With these body composition changes, not only will she feel more empowered, her body will look fantastic too.

Basu Shanker, the fitness trainer of the Indian national cricket team, is the man behind the fitness success of several top performing athletes, including Virat Kohli, Ravichandran Ashwin, Dipika Pallikal Karthik and Dinesh Karthik. He is also the strength and conditioning coach of the Royal Challengers Bangalore. He established Primal Patterns, a top fitness chain in Chennai, in 2009.


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Table for Two

No Waffling Around

What happens when you put a Belgian and an Indian together? You get an amazing ‘Waffle and Chocolate Festival’. Rukmini Vyas samples the wonderful fare put together by Christophe Bonello and Nitin Chordia at Waf O’ Bel

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Table for Two

W

hat could be better than having

Lest I assume that this translates to mean waffles

authentic Belgian waffles in

drenched in chocolate syrup (not a bad idea by any

Belgium? Having authentic Belgian

means), Nitin is quick to ward off such notions. “We

waffles at Waf O’Bel – right here

integrated every part of the cocoa beans into the

in Chennai. The recipes were crafted by Christophe

batter – as chocolate, chips, cocoa nibs and cocoa

Bonello (a Belgian national), the waffles are made

butter,” he explains. The result is a waffle that is

on cast-iron equipment specially imported from

lighter on the stomach but intensely flavourful. A

Belgium, and they are baked for a full six minutes to

dollop of vegan whipping cream, a thin ribbon of

ensure that they bring together the signature mix of

chocolate syrup, and a dusting of fine, non-alkaline

crispiness and chewiness. So, yes, this is as authentic

cocoa powder completes it. It is noteworthy that all

as it gets.

the cocoa products used are of Indian origin.

And did I tell you that the waffles are eggless? Yes, really. “And if no one told you so, you wouldn’t know that they were eggless,” Christophe tells me (I agree with him after tasting them).

T

he waffles arrive – but before I dig in, I ask Christophe why he decided to create an eggless,

and now vegan, version of the waffles instead of just going with the traditional version. “Many people in Chennai prefer eggless options when it comes

In what was an experiment to see if he could expand his recipes to people with even stricter dietary restrictions, Christophe decided to try and make them vegan as well – a never-done-before initiative in the food world. In this, he was aided by Nitin Chordia, who owns and runs Cocoatrait – an initiative to bring the best of fine chocolates from across the globe to Indian consumers. (It is worth mentioning here that Nitin is India’s first and only certified chocolate taster.) The duo decided that they would integrate coconut oil – a plant-based product – in place of regular butter to make the waffles vegan-friendly. They came up with five recipes (Classic ‘Fudgy’ Waffle, Peanut Choco Waffle, Cocoa Nib and Almond Waffle, Nibs and Chips Waffle, Nibs and Coffee Waffle), and showcased them in a ‘Waffle and Chocolate Festival’ that ran from the last week of April to the end of May. “We decided to bring the best of Belgium – the waffles, and the best of India – the chocolates,” Nitin tells me, as Christophe nods in agreement.

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Table for Two

to food,” he explains. “We have had so many more

to floor me! Even as I savour the bits of molten

people come in – and bring their friends – after they

chocolate chips and the ribbon of dark chocolate

found out our waffles were eggless.”

syrup, it is the soft chewiness of the waffle (reminding

“Moreover,” Nitin adds, “it is not just about dietary restrictions. Many people come for this festival because we have vegan options. They want to go for ‘healthier’ options once in a while, and this is

me a bit of chocolate chip cookies for some reason) that truly wins me over.

T

here is even more – the Nibs and Coffee Waffle, which appeals to the coffee lover in me. “We

the big draw of this festival.” Christophe adds that he

tried to mix espresso in the waffle batter but that

may plan to include the five recipes created for the

didn’t work too well. So, we decided to add whole

festival into the regular menu, and even think about

coffee beans to the mix,” Nitin explains as the plate

creating gluten-free options in the coming months.

is laid in front of me. I feel like an unfaithful lover as

What makes all this even better is the fact that there

I declare my undivided love for this new concoction

is absolutely no compromise on taste or texture – if

after the first bite. The cocoa nibs and roasted coffee

you didn’t know, you wouldn’t find out it was vegan.

bits are little firecrackers of intense flavour – a

T

marriage of two flavours I rank as my top favourites.

he aroma of peanut butter, coffee and chocolate is hard to ignore. I dig into the waffles. The

Peanut Choco Waffle is a combination of subtle

So, it is with a heavy heart that I declare that the Cocoa Nib and Almond Waffle, and Nibs and Chips

flavours that seem to compete for attention with each Waffle come next in my line of favourites. Christophe

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bite; the cocoa-infused cream adds a nice touch to

is more than understanding. He talks about how

the crispiness of the waffle. I am about to declare it

customers have come back – and their favourites

my favourite but am told by both men to wait – the

have changed at each meal. Is that a hint to visit

Classic ‘Fudgy’ is up next. One bite is enough

again? I will assume it is.

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55


Inside Out

Want to add a touch of Victorian splendor to your home but worried that you might end up with a style that is partantiquated and partkitsch? Fear not – all

T

he modern world offers a variety of interior styles and it is sometimes difficult to decide which style is more suited to your home. One décor style that has been an enduring favourite – thanks to its use of a classic color

palette, exotic elements, and antiquated objects ‘of bygone days’ is the Victorian style. Traced back to nineteenth century England, it adds a touch of royalty and class, and imparts timeless charm. However, it is not practical – or design-friendly – to insist on an all-Victorian décor palette for today’s homes. Adding a few modern touches would help to provide some relief and even liven up the look and feel of the home. Most people who own a Victorian

you need is a carefully

home want some elements of modern design in their home, and

calibrated mix of old

character that seems hard to come by these days.

and new. Suraksha Acharya tells you how to achieve that perfect balance

those who don’t own a Victorian home, crave the quality and Here comes the tricky part: Finding the right balance between Victorian elegance and modern aesthetics. While I can confidently say that a modern Victorian interior can be achieved by carefully meshing the two styles together, I would insist you pay close attention to the word ‘carefully’. You don’t want a messy mixture that makes your home look like it was decorated with a bunch of your grandmother’s cast-offs, thrown together with some modern chain store finds. The design should be one that is thought through and put together

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Inside Out

Photo: Courtesy Ali Budd Interiors with care – and this article will show you how to achieve that fine balance.

T

he essence of Victorian style is in its sweeping, larger than life elements. This can be achieved

by using arches wherever possible to create a grandiose facade. While the use of plasterwork and moldings could be expensive, it will add an element of authenticity to the design. A commonly shared suggestion is to add some marble to the mix. Be it a marble-topped table or a carved marble statue, adding touches of this wonderfully rich element promotes the high-quality aesthetic that Victorian homes boast of. Victorians were very much in love with ornately

black or even crisp white (yes, even though the very thought would make some antique lovers cringe!). Chairs and tables that are made from carved wood, and accessorised with heavily coloured and textured cushions are a good addition. You could also reupholster an old Victorian-style sofa

carved furniture made from mahogany, walnut and

with modern chevron fabric, or a modern chair

oak. Everything was hand-crafted and made in the

in Victorian-style floral or tapestry fabric. The

best possible manner. Go forth, salvage pieces from

room should be inviting, formal, but also lived in

old homes and repurpose them – old windows, trims

appearance. The key is to invest in high-quality

and doors can be found online and used throughout

furniture. If you prefer a modern touch, pair an

the home. Move away from built-in pantries and

ancient wooden table with ultra-modern, clear acrylic

shelves and go for freestanding cabinets instead.

or steel chairs – but make sure it is the best quality

You could paint an old armoire in a bold, sleek

you can afford. July - August 2017

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Photo: Courtesy Lisa Bakamis

Photo: Courtesy Donna Mondi Interior Design

Inside Out

Photo: Courtesy Usona Home

July - August 2017


Inside Out A sparkling chandelier is another essential component of the Victorian home (especially in

While modern designs often

the dining room) that one must never overlook. A chandelier coupled with recessed lighting and a

veer towards neutral tones

few cleverly placed candles will bring out the true

and dull shades, you can

beauty of a perfectly crafted room. Also, if you are unable to find or afford carved wooden furniture, you

work in some contrasting

could add some mirror frames, lamps and picture frames made from wood to lend a touch of elegance.

combinations with dark

While modern designs often veer towards

and bright shades, along

neutral tones and dull shades, you can work in some contrasting combinations with dark and bright

with rich colours.

shades, along with rich colors. If the woodwork is grained in deep soothing tones, it will help to compliment the other elements around it. Go ahead and tone up the reds and violets, yellows and blues – as you please!

T

he fireplace is an essential aspect of a Victorian-styled living room, and one made

from stone or polished marble accentuates the classic look. If a fireplace proper is inappropriate for the place you are living in, add a fireplace mantel instead. (A fireplace mantel or mantelpiece, also known as a chimneypiece, originated in medieval times as a hood that projected over a grate to catch the smoke. The term has evolved to include the decorative framework around the fireplace, and can include elaborate

designs extending to the ceiling.) Keep a lookout for old mantels at flea markets. The use of floor-to-ceiling curtains in a Victorian drape style can help to transform the room immediately. Use fabrics that feature modern graphic prints, or animal or map prints to create the ‘old world’. For an even easier way to transform the ambience of a room, turn to wallpaper – it will help to add colour, pattern, style or texture in one place. Bold black and white wall paper patterns could be used to make a statement and add drama to your space. This will also make the interiors appear more majestic.

I

f you are unable to make any big changes in your

home, or don’t wish to go

July - Brown August 2017 Photo: Courtesy Amory

59


Inside Out

Photo: Courtesy Astana Apartments for a dramatic transformation right away, look to the

and will increase the charm of your interiors

option of adding small highlights. Stained glass, for

manifold. Add romance via fresh flowers or small

example, is one the integral design elements of the

touches of floral fabrics in pillows.

Victorian era, and adds an instant touch of charm

F

in a subtle yet authoritative way to the room and the things in it. Add some stained glass panels to a window or two, or as insets in a door or cupboard. Woven shades, bamboo or wicker furniture and

eel free to layer on the details but employ a little restraint – and, for sure, don’t pile on the items

from floor to ceiling. Start by mixing modern and Victorian elements together in a room, step back and see if it works. Maybe you need to reupholster

unusable decorative trunks are good touches to

an older piece with a modern fabric, or wallpaper the

invest in. If you have an antique porcelain collection,

walls in a bold graphic print. Allow the setting to be

place it in a clear-lined modern cabinet or on top

as it is for a few days so that you can ‘live’ with it and

of a modern steel table. Leather covered or fabric

see if it works for you. Eventually, you will hit upon a

covered books are a must for added substance

combination that feels just right for you.

to this style. You could also look to the simplest tricks in the book – a bowl full of fruits, a wonderful arrangement of roses in a vase or pot, some beautiful candles, or candy in colourful wrappers piled in a basket. These are easy to put together,

Be warned: Going Victorian takes a lot more care and effort than most other themes, especially if you are planning a complete transformation. Take heart though, the results will leave you more than satisfied!

Suraksha Acharya is the founding principal of Midori Architects, Chennai – an award-winning firm offering architecture, interior, landscape and masterplannning services. She is a cognitive member of the green architecture industry in India, championing the need to build better and more environment-friendly structures. 60

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At Home

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At Home

What Every Home Needs‌ ‌is a bit of art, say Padmaja Nagarur and Sridevi Padmanabhan. And they share their suggestions on how every nook and corner can be transformed into a beautiful space with the right touches

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At Home – from the excitement and unlimited possibilities, to the promise of so much more. A painting can turn into a brilliant foreground for your treasured book collection. From highly textured abstract pieces to whimsical drawing, your books and knick-knacks can provide scale, depth and contrast to make both the art and the book titles pop. Desktop art – mini art prints that you can lean on a mini wooden easel – can make for the perfect shelfie. Art with distinctive brushstrokes that add texture to your vignettes can also be a great choice.

I

f stuffy living rooms that scream elegance aren’t your style, why not skip that traditional step of

hanging up artwork? Lean your paintings against a wall or perch overlapping artworks on shelves, like you might see in a casually chic New York loft. For a stylized look, cluster artworks in different frames, canvases and colors for a bohemian look or keep the frames and colour palette consistent for a sleek look. Play with differing heights for dramatic effect. Choose from

S

boundary-breaking digital art or surreal photographs tumped by what seems to be miles upon miles of wall space in your beautiful home? Or finding yourself hard pressed for inspiration when it comes to having your

home express your personality? There is one, often overlooked ingredient that is guaranteed to make a world of difference – art. From revamping nooks and corners to transforming unexpected spaces into delightful surprises, art has a way of reflecting your taste and personality while infusing your space with a joy for life. Whether you veer towards the Danish concept of hygge, (a state of coziness, connection, and comfort) or want to inject your abode with your signature brand of vibrancy and love for cities, art can liven up your space in myriad ways. Begin your tryst with art by finding paintings that speak to your personality – choose art that you identify with, enjoy and can see yourself living with. Think of your first art buy as a brilliant first date

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July - August 2017

to get your guests up close to check them out. An eye-catching, oversized artwork can set the tone for animated conversations, make for unforgettable dinner parties and, most of all, make your home a place that friends love being invited to. From the furniture to the decor elements and upholstery, a well-chosen striking piece of art can turn your living room into a breathtaking space. Online galleries are great places to scout for your first statement-making art piece. Set a budget, and tailor your purchase to suit the space you have in mind for it – and you could easily pick up an original piece of art that can transform your room.

D

isplay a group of artworks as a gallery wall to make them really stand out. For an easy

arrangement, begin at the centre and move outward. You can even experiment by stacking artworks vertically or horizontally, or even put them in grids. Mix it up with prints, originals, masks or painted plates for an eclectic look. Pick a theme or a colour


At Home

The Finer Touches Invest in getting artworks framed well. Whatever the style – elegant and classic or minimalist lines – get your art framed by a professional. Lighting makes for good viewing. Hang your art up in well-lit rooms or choose direct lighting for your art. Add a touch of intimacy by getting picture lights that can be mounted on the frames. It’s a great trick to borrow from museums and galleries. If you feel your home is due for a fresh coat of paint, choose a neutral colour to make your artworks really pop.

to bring them all together or, better still, tell a story

bathtub or on your bathroom wall gives the room a

with your art. Choose works in a series by an artist

decidedly personal touch. Ensure that the bathroom

whose style you like or browse through paintings at a

is well ventilated so that your paintings don’t bear

street art fair and you’re sure to find what you want.

the brunt of humidity. Installing a shelf above the

If your kitchen does not have a lovely view for you to enjoy while you do the dishes, do not fret. You can choose to create a meditative mood or

tank is an easy way to display a few extra things like mini art prints (desktop art), books and bookends. When it comes to a narrow hallway that you don’t

one that brings a smile to your face with paintings

quite know how to decorate, use it to create a mini

hanging above your sink. Seascapes, contemporary

gallery with a few well-chosen pieces of art. Have a

interpretations of folk art and dreamy portraits can

sideboard or console table that squats forlornly in

make for fabulous reasons to linger in the kitchen.

the foyer? Top it with an artwork and see your guests

Perch them on top of cabinets, in open shelving and

inger awhile. To play around with placements and

above your kitchen sink or on either side of it to give

scale, cut out paper templates of your artworks and

your kitchen a striking touch.

place them on the walls. It will give you clarity on

B

what works best and then it’s time to go in with your

athrooms make for creative spaces, too, and great places to hang art in. Whether you choose

a tasteful figural drawing or a sensuous nude, you

hammer and nails. Art speaks and tells stories. Find your favourite

can enjoy your favorite artworks in one of the most

styles and artists and that will help you find art that

intimate spaces in your home. Paintings above your

you love and enjoy.

Padmaja Nagarur is the CEO of Artflute.com, an online marketplace for world contemporary art. Sridevi Padmanabhan is Artflute's content editor, who initiates dialogue around art as part of everyday conversations. July - August 2017

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The Last Word

In the Eye of the Beholder

What prompts GMB Akash to peer into the fringes of society and capture the lives of people who live there? He tells Yamini Vasudevan that it is part of his quest to capture beauty in the most unusual and unexpected forms

H

e was born in Narayangonj (20 km away from Dhaka, Bangladesh) into a middleclass family. The son of a

freedom fighter, he felt like the average kid who had no special gifts or talent to show the world. In 1996, he attended the World Press Photo seminar in Dhaka; his interest in photography was kindled. He graduated with a BA in photojournalism from a media institute in Dhaka. Along the way, he found his father’s old camera. “At that time, parents supported you even if you wanted to be an artist, illustrator or an actor/singer. But ‘photojournalist’ did not exist in the circles I was brought up in,” he says. It was his passion, though, and he was willing to give himself over to it. “Many days I did not eat [in order] to save my pocket money for my photography.

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Photos: Courtesy GMB Akash


The Last Word

GMB Akash I used my tuition [money] to buy films. Sometimes,

rigours of their lives, the triumphs and compromises.

even when I had no film in my camera and no money

Be it the happiness of a father who bought his

in my pocket, I never stopped clicking. I kept clicking

daughter a new dress after two years, or the

knowing I had no film inside my camera. Because I

assertion by a young girl of how her aim in life is to

knew I had to achieve my dream,” he adds.

teach and not get married, the shrug of a sex worker

A

who has accepted her fate or the tense smile of a

kash gravitated towards places and people who were on the fringes of mainstream society. Not

for him the fancy lights of a fashion ramp or the pace of a newsroom. He went to slums, coal mines, village

nurse in a village hospital, they are shining examples of courage, fortitude and the refusal to let life have the upper hand.

hospitals, brothels, schools…The pull of the stories

It is tempting to classify Akash’s work as the

hidden deep inside the crevices of the inhabitants’

attempt of a samaritan who is hoping to shed light

souls was too strong. He was their voice; they were

on the conditions of the less privileged. However,

his muse. His photos are accompanied by a comment

it is not quite as simple. He says that his aim is to

in the subject’s own words – a brief glimpse into the

actually capture the true beauty hidden behind the July - August 2017

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The Last Word

surfaces encrusted with grime. “I try to capture the beauty of the people and their souls. Though the real circumstance of some of the people I portray may be quite grim, they are all strong individuals with remarkable characters…They speak [the] truth fearlessly.” The core of Akash’s work lies in his ability to enter the different worlds he wishes to photograph and become a part of them. Be it at the mobile vaccination hospital or the riverside where people come to bathe, the coal mines where small hands hold shovels or the roadside where the destitute shelter from the elements, he is not merely a camera-wielding journalist looking for a story. He is there to capture the essence of their lives. “The person I [am] photographing isn’t just a subject. They have their say; they have their emotions. Their consent is equally important to allow me to be their storyteller. I never take out my camera at the beginning. Time is the most precious thing of all to build relationships and it works silently…” And there is no such thing as an easy shot. “Sometimes I had to run, take a ride on the roof of 68

July - August 2017


The Last Word

a moving train, sleep on a flooded floor and spend

on several prominent photography events and is

many hours walking the maze of avenues through

regarded as one of the best photographers in the

sprawling city slums.”

world today. While he admits that he is grateful

What makes it all harder? The tendency on part of onlookers to carelessly cast him in stereotypes. “When I was working with the gay community, people called me gay; when I was documenting sex workers, people pointed at my character; when I was documenting child labourers, people said I was selling poverty,” he says, and shrugs them off lightly. Not for him the burden of anxiety over other people’s opinions. He maintains a similar sense of detachment when it comes to fame and recognition, too. Akash’s work has been published by all the top international publications (including National Geographic, Vogue, Time, Newsweek, Geo, Stern, Der Spiegel, The Fader, The Guardian, Marie Claire, The Economist, Kontinente, Amnesty Journal, Die

for the opportunities that he has received and the recognition his work has merited, he insists that the true rewards of his work lie in his ability “to touch people’s heart and…subsequently bring some changes into someone’s life.” He adds, “I want you to remember me as a photographer who is able to make you feel, who inspired you to stand beside another human.”

I

n 2006, Akash released First Light, his debut publication, followed by Survivors (the result

of a 10-year project) in 2012. The proceeds from the second book and subsequent exhibitions went towards helping the subjects featured in the book set up small businesses. In addition, Akash trained them and monitored their progress. He founded the First Light Institute of

Zeit, Days Japan, Hello, and Sunday Telegraph of

Photography in Bangladesh in 2013 – and the school

London). He is the recipient of over 100 awards and

has since had hundreds of students coming from all

has held close to 60 solo publications in prestigious

over the world. The proceeds from this and his one-

galleries and museums. He has also been a judge

on-one program are channeled towards providing July - August 2017

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The Last Word

basic education for street children, unprivileged talented students, and child laborers. This year, he built a school in a village to further the cause of educating underprivileged children. Yet, he is clear that this is only the side-effect of his work – efforts borne out of his passion for sharing the stories of the people we need to be looking at, and helping. “When I shoot, I always ask myself two questions: Why am I taking this photo? And what message do I want to convey?” he explains. “I am very clear about the fact that I take photographs to show people, to convey a message, and to make a change…I believe that if my photographs can connect with the heart, can influence people to take a step for humanity then this is the ultimate achievement.”

Yamini Vasudevan is the Managing Editor of LIVING. Her former stints as editor / writer were at Culturama, The Hindu Business Line and Harper's Bazaar (Singapore). 70

July - August 2017


July - August 2017

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July - August 2017

Culturama Living July 2017  

If you love all things Europe and European, you will love our July issue! Join us on a tour through Riga – known to be the world’s party cap...

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