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New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Pune

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Vol. 2 No. 27



KNIGHT It doesn’t get any more cultish than the Bat. A week before the new Batman movie’s world premiere, Cult Fiction presents a special review of the books you should read if you have a serious dark hero fixation >Page 12


NEVER A SIDEKICK Priyanka Chopra on breaking noses and hating catsuits >Page 9

NEW INDIAN NEW INDIAN KN Plus How to say ‘bat’ in Hindi >Page 14

The country’s top chefs are experimenting with vegetarian options Story like never before >Page 11 Melissa A Bell Jayachand Art ran

The life and times of the Batmobile >Page 15


10 reasons to love ‘The Dark Knight’ >Page 21 IN THE LEAD








he last thing many executives want to pack as they head for the beach or resorts this summer are hefty business books that keep them tied to work. Yet, the only time they may have to read anything other than office reports is while on vacation. Here are some books to consider taking along that address pressing challenges yet are quick reads. A critical task for managers these days is convincing their employees that they must be prepared to change—again and again—or be left behind... >Page 4


uperheroes are back. Now that Iron Man, with Robert Downey Jr in the title role, has been such a, well, superhit, Hollywood is ready to film nearly every comic book ever written. The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan’s follow-up to Batman Begins, is expected next week. A new version of The Hulk, with Edward Norton in the Bruce Banner role, has eased memories of Ang Lee’s terrible 2003 adaptation which wasted Eric WSJ Bana (he played Banner). >Page 5













just got a personal trainer and I have to BUT I‛M say, it’s one of the best things I’veTHANKS, done. HERE TO FIGHT CRIME. He’s not really mine; I share him with about a dozen other ladies in my housing cooperative. We got him after much wrangling about time and agenda and fees. His name is For today’s business news Sam and he is—and I have my husband’s > Question of Answers— permission to say this—not un-cute. Oh come the quiz with a difference on, don’t look so shocked. I am sure part of the reason we all go to theJUST gym is to look at cute > Markets Watch LIKE THE AMERICANS, THEY SAY THEY‛LL HELP, half-naked young men and women. BUT WHERE ARE THEY >Page 6 WHEN WE NEED THEM?













KNIGHT It doesn’t get any more cultish than the Bat. A week before the new Batman movie’s world premiere, CF presents a special review of the books you should read if you have a serious dark hero fixation


his writer’s epiphanic Batman moment didn’t come in a book at all. It came in a movie. The movie was the first of the lastgen Batman movies; Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan are well within their rights to think of their 2005 movie Batman Begins as the first of its generation. The second, featuring the late great Heath Ledger as The Joker, is out on 18 July. Directed by Tim Burton, the first of the last-gen Batman movies starred Michael Keaton. The year was 1989. Just the previous year, the two had collaborated in the zany Beetlejuice. This writer can’t put a finger on it (and maybe it was just a Beetlejuice hangover), but Keaton’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne came with a dash of madness. Keaton’s Batman was fine, but his Wayne was, clearly, not all there. In that movie, the costume didn’t just define Wayne’s character—it almost made him normal. That sums up Batman. It is easy to see why sub-teen men of all ages like Batman: He fights crime, he has really cool toys, including the Batarang and the Batmobile, and he actually lives in the Batcave. And his alter ego is a rich playboy. The comics, much like others dedicated to costumed heroes, also feature plenty of women in tight costumes—Catwoman, Huntress, Tarantula, Onyx, Batwoman, and Talia. It isn’t as easy to understand why others—older and wiser (ahem!)—like him. The answer to that riddle (and we may well need Mr Nigma to help with that before we are through) may well explain Batman’s resilience. Not too many superheroes would have been able to survive being part of a campy television series popular with baby boomers in the US (the tune is still a hit ringtone) or several bad movies, including at least one in which the Batsuit ended up looking like a nipplesuit and another which actually thought George Clooney would look better in a mask. One possible explanation may be that Batman

Year One (1987) Frank Miller Most people know the story of Batman’s origin—the killing of his parents, the years of training, the bat that breaks through the window giving Bruce Wayne the idea that he should call himself Batman—but this book, at once both a truthful retelling of the legend and a marginally alternative look at Batman’s first year as a costumed vigilante, is a good starting point for Batman newbies. It helps that it is written by Miller, the man who reinvented the Batman genre (and some say comic books) with his 1986 book, ‘The Dark Knight Returns’.

isn’t an earnest do-gooder like Superman, but a hard-working detective (in fact, one of the Batman villains, Ra’s al Ghul, always calls him this), who isn’t above getting his back broken by someone who is just so much stronger than he is (Bane, another of Batman’s villains). Another reason may be that his character has as many shades of grey as his costume. There’s no denying the fact that Batman is good, but he is this in a psychologically complex way—one that may have encouraged writers through the years to come up with a unique and extraordinary group of villains (Ra’s al Ghul, Killer Croc, Scarecrow, The Joker, The Penguin, TwoFace, Scarface, Poison Ivy, Riddler and Mr Freeze, to name just a handful). Batman’s “goodness” and his “ordinariness” are relative. You won’t, for instance, find him rescuing cats caught in trees. The real reason for Batman’s longevity and continuing popularity, though, may have more to do with the people in charge of the character than the character itself. Over the years, some of the finest comics writers and artists have authored and illustrated Batman books. The only other comics character who comes even close, in terms of having had as many worthies write or illustrate books about him, is John Constantine. Constantine, though, is of more recent vintage than Batman and, apart from the fact that neither is particularly moralistic, there isn’t much in common between the two. Presented here, in no particular order, are the best Batman comics this writer has encountered. Alan Moore’s classic The Killing Joke doesn’t find a mention here simply because it isn’t a Batman book, but a Joker one (for a chance to win The Killing Joke, take our quiz on Page L3). Enjoy, and don’t forget Heath Ledger. Write to Sukumar at

The Dark Knight Returns (1986) The Dark Knight Strikes Again (2001­2003) Frank Miller ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ is the 1986 comic book to which most people give credit for reinventing the genre by reaching out to older readers. That may be partially true but the book, which tells the story of Batman’s efforts to retake Gotham after a 10­year absence, is probably the first that showcased Miller’s terse prose and noir­like plot treatment—both of which were later to be displayed in the 1990s in the author’s own Sin City series. ‘The Dark Knight Strikes Again’ is set three years after the first book. Remember those pulp Westerns where an ageing but still super­fast lawman comes out of retire­ ment to kick some outlaw­butt? This is pretty much Miller’s interpretation of, and homage to, those books.

Batman: Tales of the Demon (1971­1980) Dennis O’Neil Before there were eco­terrorists and green warriors there was Ra’s al Ghul, whose daughter Talia is Batman’s wife. O’Neill’s pulpish short comics about Ghul are among the earliest featuring him and, believe it or not, Liam Neeson’s take on him in the 2005 movie doesn’t do him justice.

Arkham Asylum (1989) Grant Morrison/Dave McKean Sure, everyone who knows Batman knows what lies inside Arkham Asylum, but it takes Morrison’s considerable writing skills and the artwork of a man who is, arguably, the finest comic­book design expert of our times, McKean (he designed all the Sandman covers), to translate all that madness into print.

The Long Halloween (1996­1997) Dark Victory (1999­2000) Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale Everyone’s guide to Gotham’s crime families, these two books best reflect Batman’s late­1990s noir phase, and there are few slicker comic books around (as evident in the fact that when publishers started putting out Absolute editions —hardbound books with tonnes of bonus material—one of the first Batman books they looked to was ‘The Long Halloween’). Both Jeph Loeb book reviews on this list also need to include a mention of the artists—Tim Sale (who later won much acclaim for the television series ‘Heroes’) and Jim Lee, because their work is part of what makes these books work.

No Man’s Land (1999­2000) Bob Gale and Devin K Grayson Gotham is wrecked by an earthquake and the federal government decides to abandon the city. Reminiscent of the Kurt Russell movie ‘Escape from New York’, and events that unfolded in the wake of Katrina in New Orleans (the book came out almost two decades after the first and, almost presciently, a few years before the second), Batman and friends are the only ones standing between Gotham and outright anarchy.

Hush (2002­2003) Jeph Loeb/Jim Lee Despite 2001’s ‘The Dark Knight Strikes Again’, Batman was a fading comic­book hero by the early 2000s and some people say it is Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee’s ‘Hush’ that revived the franchise. ‘Hush’ is unique because it is one of the few Batman books whose plot begins before Batman does. It also marks the first appearance of a villain named Hush, who, it turns out, is one of Bruce Wayne’s oldest friends.

Knightfall (1993­1994) Dough Moench and Chuck Dixon Can anyone take Batman’s place? Writers Moench and Dixon wrestle with this proposition in the ‘Knightfall’ trilogy. Bane breaks Batman’s back; Batman goes off to get cured putting a replacement in place (“There will always be a Batman”) but has to fight for his place when he returns.

War Drums (2004) Andersen Gabrych and Bill Willingham War Games (2005) Ed Brubaker, Andersen Gabrych, Devin K Grayson, Dylan Horrocks, AJ Lieberman and Bill Willingham Just another, and more recent, series featuring almost all of Batman’s acolytes and most of the usual bad­men, but written by some of the best contemporary names in the comics business. Brubaker—this writer thinks his best work was the 2002 miniseries ‘Sleeper’—is the man who killed off Captain America when he was in charge of that franchise. And Bill Willingham is best­known as the author of the Fables series.

Batman & Robin (2005­2008) Frank Miller/Jim Lee Among the newest Batman books, it is written by the man who wrote what are, arguably, the best Batman books, and illustrated by the legendary Lee. Enough tales have been told about the first Robin (Dick Grayson) who later becomes Nightwing (for the record, the second dies, the third retires and then comes back as the fifth and the fourth is fired and later dies; which pretty much sums up the fate of Batman’s acolytes because Batgirl doesn’t fare much better), but this is Miller’s own retelling of the story and it is unique as only Miller can make it. PHOTO IMAGING: PRANAB JYOTI GOGOI







BATMAN: A SHORT HISTORY How he became the Dark Knight we all know and love


May 1940 Batman, and his alter ego Bruce Wayne, gets a self­titled series. The Joker and Catwoman, aka Selina Kyle, make their first appearance in Batman #1. The Joker, a failed comedian turned psychotic killer, remains one of Batman’s iconic enemies. Batman and Catwoman, and Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle, share a love­hate relationship throughout the series.

February 1941 The first Batmobile debuts in Detective Comics #48, as a red convertible with a bat hood ornament.

May 1939

August 1942


To introduce a “Watson” to Batman’s Holmes, Robin, the orphaned child of acrobat parents, becomes Batman’s sidekick in Detective Comics #38.

2001 After 15 years, Frank Miller’s long­awaited sequel to ‘Batman: The Dark Knight Returns’ hits bookstores. It is called ‘The Dark Knight Strikes Again’. Christopher Nolan braves the Batman movie curse by starting at the beginning of Batman. The film, ‘Batman Begins’, featuring Christian Bale as the playboy Bruce Wayne who becomes the Caped Crusader, is based heavily on graphic novels, has a dark edge and finds a rabid fan base.


Batman debuts as a member of the Justice League of America in ‘The Brave and the Bold’, #28.

‘Batman: The Animated Series’ premieres on Fox, and becomes an Emmy­winning animated television series.

June 2005

Columbia Pictures brings the Caped Crusader to the silver screen in ‘Batman’, a serial in which Batman battles evil Japanese scientists.

February 1960

April 1940

September 1992

‘The Killing Joke’, written by Alan Moore and drawn by Brian Bolland, hits bookstores. It is a violent, twisted look into the origins of The Joker and his attack on police commissioner James Gordon. Heath Ledger is said to have based much of his performance as The Joker for the 2008 movie ‘The Dark Knight’ on this book’s characterization.

April 1943

Psychologist Fredric Wertham publishes his book ‘Seduction of the Innocent’, accusing comics of corrupting the morals of children. Batman comes in for heavy criticism for its supposed homosexual overtones.

Bob Kane—inspired by pulp detectives, Sherlock Holmes, and the movies ‘The Mark of Zorro’ and ‘The Bat Whispers’—creates Bat­Man. The masked hero makes his first appearance in ‘The Case of Bat­Man and the Chemical Syndicate’, published in Detective Comics #27.


Harvey Kent (later changed to Harvey Dent) first appears in Detective Comics #66. Harvey Kent starts off as the district attorney of Gotham City, and one of Batman’s close friends and supporters. But, after a mob boss throws acid on his face, he becomes Two­Face, a criminal mastermind and one of Batman’s biggest foes.

January 1966 Adam West and Burt Ward play Batman and Robin in ABC’s Batman series, a campy, sci­fi, hugely successful hit that runs for three seasons.

February 1977 A new cartoon series, ‘The New Adventures of Batman’, premieres on US television, with the voices of Adam West and Burt Ward reunited as the Dynamic Duo.

1986 Frank Miller publishes ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ about Batman coming out of retirement. It is a runaway best­seller and is often referenced as creating the modern version of Batman—a dark and psychologically damaged loner who does whatever it takes to destroy criminals.

June 1989 Tim Burton brings Batman back to the big screen in ‘Batman’, with Michael Keaton as Batman, Jack Nicholson in his highly praised portrayal of The Joker and Kim Basinger as a seductive Vicky Vale. The film is a huge success.

18 July 2008 Nolan brings Batman back in ‘The Dark Knight’. A movie that has garnered much buzz before its release, in part because of the untimely death of Heath Ledger, one of its stars. AFP

June 1992 Tim Burton’s sequel, ‘Batman Returns’, brings back Keaton as Batman and introduces Danny DeVito as a raw­fish­eating Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer as a secretary­turned­sex kitten, Catwoman. The success of these two Batman films spurs Joel Schumacher to make two more Batman sequels, so bad they deserve no further mention here.

Melissa A. Bell

The modern version of Batman—a dark and psychologically damaged loner who does whatever it takes to destroy criminals

How to say ‘bat’ in Hindi The flying hero has left his mark on the Indian comic­book universe B Y A MISH R AJ M ULMI

···························· xcept for a brief sojourn in Kolkata (those days it used to be called Calcutta), Batman has not made it to India. During the Contagion story arc, Ra’s al Ghul, one of Batman’s many foes, unleashes the deadly Ebola Gulf-A virus upon the city. With a little help from Lady Shiva, that most masterful of martial artists, Batman saves the day. It seems his visit did not go unnoticed. Anupam Sinha—a legend among followers of Indian comics—paid homage to The Dark Knight in his creation Super Commando Dhruv, the scourge of criminals and terrorists and protector of innocent Indians. It’s not that Indian comics are mindlessly aping the West. Comic-book ideas, especially those of superhero comic books, inevita-


bly end up being similar to one another. Isn’t there an obvious link between Marvel Comics’ Captain America and Detective Comics’ Superman, both upholders of the American way of truth and justice? Power rings, lightning-fast speed, superhuman strength—all of these, and much more, have been copied and adapted in different ways across the superhero universe. It’s no surprise then that Batman seems to have been a wellspring of inspiration for Sinha. Sinha’s Gotham, renamed Rajnagar, could be Any City, India, where slums coexist with high-rise buildings and a cast of criminals, freak villains, terrorist leaders, aliens and demons battle Dhruv. Like the Caped Crusader, Dhruv saves his city from a viral outbreak, caused by the supremely evil Dr Virus, who even manages to mutate a man into a tree (it’s another story that Virus bears a strong resemblance to Dr Viper from the animated series Swatcats).

Desi clone: Dhruv and Black Cat in Dhruv’s parents are circus acrobats. After they are killed in a freak accident, a policeman, who later becomes the commissioner, adopts him. The Dark Knight’s sidekick, Robin, has a similar parentage. The similarities don’t end there. Purists argue that Batman isn’t a true superhero, that he

uses his intelligence and wealth, rather than his superpowers, to battle evil. Our own Dhruv does not boast of any superpowers either, except his ability to converse with animals. One of his allies remarks: “He has the most extraordinary mind.” The Bat’s utility belt seems to be another idea borrowed by Dhruv’s creator. Dhruv carries almost every thing, fr om a grappling hook to action. nerve gas, tucked in that belt. His motorbike is modified; he has a plane too. It’s not clear where he gets the money for this. Last time I checked, being unemployed pays only if you’ve inherited the Wayne family fortune. Dhruv finds a formidable opponent in the very pretty thief Black Cat. Though strikingly similar to Catwoman, our ver-

sion sticks to being a villain, which is quite sad considering the depth of Batman’s love-hate relationship with his “feline fatale”. The writers of Dhruv have tried to rectify this in recent issues by making Black Cat fall in love with Dhruv. Of course, the similarities aren’t limited to Batman and Dhruv. Indian comic-book superheroes are rooted in traditional comic-book mythology from across the world—be it Magneto’s Indian avatar, Chumba or the patriotic Tiranga, who carries a shield painted in the tricolour—a la Captain America—while battling terrorists in Delhi. But among all the local heroes, not one can stand up to the might of Nagraj, Superman’s desi clone. With his newly created alter ego, Raj—a “mild mannered”, bespectacled public relations officer in a media conglomerate—there is no mistaking who inspired the character. More on that next summer, when the next Superman film is set to release.






Never a sidekick If she wasn’t an actor, she would probably be a trapeze artist. Priyanka Chopra on breaking noses and hating catsuits B Y P ARIZAAD K HAN

···························· riyanka Chopra can kick butt. And she knows how to look good while doing it. She plays bodyguard to a superhero in the forthcoming Drona, opposite Abhishek Bachchan, and a pop star of the future in the recently released Love Story 2050. She talks to Lounge about her forthcoming films and her style in each of them. Edited excerpts:


Future perfect: Chopra plays a pop star in her latest movie and a bodyguard in her next.

Red hair, huh? Hmm, interesting conversation. Well, the film is set in the future and I’m playing two different characters. I’m not saying girls in 2050 will have red hair. My character is a pop star, so I could have an eccentric streak. She’s a diva, she’s boisterous, loud, so we could make it a little wild. She’s soft at the same time, because she’s lonely. I had to colour my own hair, not wear a wig, and that freaked me out. My hair was ruined by the end, but I really missed it when it was gone. You’ve done some action scenes in your upcoming film Drona. Do you have a dream action role? I never thought I could do action, but after I finished Drona, I realized I could. I’ve never thought about my dream action role, but some of the stuff I’ve done in Drona is like a dream. In some scenes, I can’t believe it’s me. I guess adrenalin makes you do a lot more than you think you can. I loved every minute of it. I

was fighting on top of a moving train going at like 60km an hour with the wind blowing. When I saw some of it, I thought people are going to think it’s a double, but I haven’t used a double at all. In fact, I tore my ab muscle doing somersaults. I had no idea you had to warm up before attempting it. How did you prepare for Drona? This is a sword and kirpan fighting, Indian martial arts kind of action. I trained in gatka (a Sikh martial art) and kirpan fighting. It’s important to warm up before you do these kind of scenes and I didn’t do that, which is why I tore my muscle. I’ve been doing splits and somersaults since I was 9. I wanted to be a gymnast or a trapeze artist. What costumes does an Indian female action star wear? When you’re doing action, you need something that is flexible. In Drona, I wear one costume throughout the film, but in different colours. So it had to be comfortable, yet look glamorous. I’m wearing pants which stretch. They’re tight, they’re almost painted on me, but they stretch. So, when I kick, or I’m moving or running, they don’t restrict me. It’s very important to have pants made with stretch fabric, otherwise they’ll keep tearing. That would be a bit embarrassing. I wore boots with 4-5-inch heels, but they’re platforms and were very comfortable. They were tight on my feet, so I could run. The top is like a tunic, it’s flowy and gives the character’s look a touch of Indian-ness. I’m also wearing a turban on my

Red alert: In Love Story 2050. head. It’s pretty cool. Ever worn a catsuit? I have, but I don’t particularly like catsuits. I think they’re kind of vulgar. Maybe, if they were made with a thicker fabric like denim, which doesn’t bunch up in certain places. Just not spandex and lycra. That looks terrible. I always recommend wearing heels with catsuits because they show the real length of your legs and will always extend (the length of) your legs a bit more. Do you have a look you fantasize about trying out for an action role? Whether it looks good or not, it better be comfortable. The clothes have to contour the body in a good way and they have to move well. As a girl, if you‘re wearing something fluid, it accentuates your movements, and you look graceful, but still strong. I think that would be really nice. You’re a superhero in a new Virgin comic as well. Virgin has worked on comics with a lot of interesting people such as Shekhar Kapur, John Woo, Quentin Tarantino, Nicolas Cage and Sachin Tendulkar. I used to make comics when I was a kid. I used

to draw stories and stuff. So I really wanted to create a character. I believe in fairy tales, so she’s not just a fighting machine, but endearing as well. So is she a superhero? Well, she doesn’t know she is, but (voice drops) she kinda is. Ever been in a real fight? I was in one in school in America, on the basketball court, when I was 15. I broke a girl’s nose, actually. She was being really nasty to me; character assassination to the hilt. Then she got racist and I got really pissed off. I still have scars on my knees from that fight. She scratched my face, which pissed me off even more. I was like, ‘not the face!’ She was quite short, so that helped. Afterwards, I felt so bad; I couldn’t believe I broke her nose, even though inside I felt really cool and strong. The next day, when I walked into school, I was the dude. In the superhero context, what do you think of black, heels and leather? It’s dark and mysterious if you wear black as a superhero; it makes you slick. I love colour but I don’t particularly like Superman’s outfit. Wearing underwear over spandex tights isn’t very superhero-ish. But he’s Superman, and we love him. I love heels on women; I think I was born with heels. Without them, I feel very short and not confident enough. I’m five feet-six-and-a-half inches. Please don’t forget that half, it’s very important. But when I wear heels I feel fabulously tall. I like leather to a point. An entire outfit is trying too hard. A jacket is great, but don’t wear leather pants or boots with it. I love the way stretch leather fits. If you wear stretch leather pants with a nice top, it always looks great.


Noir dressing Need to look slimmer, slicker or lurk about unseen? Go shopping

Chanel: J12 watch in black ceramic and steel with diamonds, at the Chanel Boutique, The Imperial, New Delhi, Rs7.6 lakh.



MAC: Black nail enamel, at MAC stores in Mumbai, Bangalore and New Delhi, Rs670.

Sergio Rossi: Black leather, double ankle­strap sandals, at­a­, available from September, £360 (around Rs31,000).

Mango: Black mock leather bomber jacket, coming soon to Mango, Atria Mall, Worli and Linking Road, Mumbai; South Extension Part­I, and Select Citywalk, Saket, New Delhi; and Ambience Mall, Gurgaon, Rs11,450.

Raakesh Agarvwal: Fitted black silk lamé suit with voluminous sleeves (Rs13,900) and skinny trousers (Rs7,990), at Bombay Electric, Mumbai; and Kimaya and Aza stores in Mumbai and New Delhi.






YOUR JOB We follow up last year’s list of cool jobs with some more. These will convince you why a great job is not always about a fat salary package or going off the beaten path


he drudgery of everyday work is the price we pay to make the remaining hours of our day bearable. But not everyone wakes up on Monday morning dreading the week ahead. Some jobs stand out because they are fun, despite having bosses to deal with and many hours to clock in. Last year, we received tremendous feedback to our first cool jobs special issue. You loved reading about the guy who buys books, the lady who reviews spas and the man who makes toys—all for a living.

So, this year, we hunted down a few more of this rare breed and investigated what made their jobs cool. Find out how they got there, why they do what they do and why we think their jobs are awesome. We also asked them to tell us about the rough that goes with the cool. Write to Want to know which cool jobs made it to our list last year? Log on to





1. Adidas: Terrex GTX waterproof trekking boots, at all Adidas stores, Rs7,999.


Slip on, step out Whether you like to keep your toes covered or exposed to the elements, we’ve got footwear that will take you through the monsoon


2. Crocs: ‘Prima’ ballet flat in a lightweight and odour­resistant resin, at Crocs stores and multi­brand shoe stores across the country, Rs1,295. 3. Mango: Red acrylic and mock patent leather slip­ons, at Mango stores in Bangalore, Gurgaon, Mumbai and New Delhi, Rs2,350. 4. Bata: ‘Bata and I’ perforated PVC ballet flats, at all Bata stores, Rs299. 5. Geox: Blue loafers with a perforated waterproof rubber sole, at Shoe Tree stores across the country, Rs5,285. 6. Burberry Prorsum: Black Wellington boots with crossed buckle trims and gripped sole, at­a­, £153 (about Rs12,800).


7. Geox: Coffee loafers with a perforated waterproof rubber sole, at Shoe Tree stores across the country, Rs5,885. 8. Bata: Black all­weather slip­ons, at all Bata stores, Rs1,199.


9. Puma: Red ‘RS100 Injex’ shoe in a lightweight and anti­slip foam, at all Puma stores, Rs1,299.


Aarti Basnyat contributed to this story.


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Putting dark circles to rest Do beauty creams really treat panda eyes? B Y K ATIE Z EZIMA ···························· ry Chang is sick of people telling her she looks exhausted. She gets enough sleep, but the dark circles under her eyes elicit stares and make her look older than 25. “When I look in the mirror, all I see is someone who looks tired,” says Chang, who started, which talks about the latest remedies for dark circles. She has occasionally used concealer on the discoloration. But now that many beauty companies make potions to treat dark circles, not just mask them, she hopes she will be able to look refreshed without make-up. Recently, the drumbeat against under-eye circles has grown


louder. “It has become one of our top imperatives to address dark circles,” says Tom Mammone, executive director of research and development for Clinique. Roughly 53% of 13,000 Clinique users surveyed by the company in 2006 cited dark circles and puffiness as their top beauty concerns. Beauty store chain Sephora now sells more than 50 products designed specifically to treat under-eye circles, says Stacy Baker, the chain’s editorial director. Sales of anti-ageing skincare treatments, including products to get rid of dark circles, increased to $1.08 billion (around Rs4,970 crore then) in 2006, up from $588 million annually in 2001, according to Mintel, a market research firm. “Dark circles are a combination of heredity and genetics,” says Diane Berson, an assistant professor of dermatology at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University in Manhattan. Most people think dark circles

The tired look: Your genes may be causing those under­eye rings. are a sign of tiredness, or evidence of a binge involving too many margaritas. That’s true to some extent; fatigue makes the skin dull, and drinking alcohol dehydrates and thins it. But the most likely culprit, der-

matologists say, is excess pigmentation. Dark circles are prevalent on all skin colours, but they especially trouble African-Americans, South-East Asians and southern Italians. Beach bunnies note: Sun exposure exacerbates dark circles.





Dilated blood vessels that sit close to the thin under-eye skin are another cause, doctors say. And airborne allergens, which cause blood to pool in the vessels under the skin, can worsen their appearance, says John A. Persing, a professor and the chief of plastic surgery at Yale University School of Medicine (treatment for these sufferers may be as simple as an antihistamine pill). The problem is that few, if any, of the creams on the market are formulated for people with excess pigmentation or dilated veins. “Multiple creams are available; however, it is unclear how effective they are,” Dr Persing says. For people who aren’t sure why they have dark circles, he recommends topical products that contain a plumping agent or alpha-hydroxy acids, which can thicken the skin, or vitamins C and K, which can inflame skin and add volume. Clinique, which now has three products to treat dark circles, uses whey protein in its All About Eyes Rich cream ($27.50), as it increases collagen production, says Mammone. But, in independent medical research, whey protein has not been proved to plump up skin. Dermatologists say fillers such as Restylane and Juvederm help cover up melanin or the blood vessels

that peek through thin skin. A round of injections, which lasts about six months, costs $500-800. Fillers are not risk-free. Side effects can include bruising, swelling and allergic reactions. Neither Restylane nor Juvederm were specifically approved by the (US) Food and Drug Administration to treat under-eye circles, so patients should be cautious. Patients risk bumps and lumps, which may last anywhere from a few weeks to a year, because the skin is so thin, Dr Berson and Dr Persing both warn. Although Annette Pucci, 48, of Queens, chalks up her dark circles to genetics, she still tried “every cream in the world”, including those by Chanel and Lancome. “I would pay a fortune and I didn’t ever see a difference,” she says. “I felt like I looked tired or was crying all the time.” After a friend mentioned she was going to use fillers to treat her dark circles, Pucci also had Restylane injections. “I was a little sceptical,” she says. But Pucci says her circles have disappeared. “I just put on an ice pack and went to my son’s baseball game that night,” she says. ©2008/The New York Times Write to







Second coming LOUNGE PROFILE

Flashback: (far left to right) Kapur is now spending his time in India, writing; he was born in Lahore and grew up in Delhi; as a child, he remembers being influenced by his ‘movie uncles’, Dev Anand and Vijay Anand; with elder sister Neelimaa; as guard of honour to Nehru while he was in school in New Delhi.

After a decade, Shekhar Kapur is back in India for the long haul to finish his next film. In extensive interviews, he tells us why he’s raising a $1 billion media fund. We also discover he’s no longer just a film­maker



·················· ilmwallas are a common sight in the lobby of the JW Marriott in Juhu—an office for producers and actors by day; a haunt for TV and movie stars by night. The afternoon I wait for director Shekhar Kapur to arrive for our second interview in two weeks, fashion photographer Atul Kasbekar’s camera is clicking furiously, trying to capture a young man’s best profile by the hotel’s pool (an aspiring star for sure; my Bollywood meter is usually bang on). Old, familiar faces from television serials talk shop with producers over endless cigarettes. Actor Kajol, accompanied by her daughter and with a sling bag full of swimming gear, walks straight into the private pool area. Kapur had insisted we meet at the Marriott. His real office was “just about functional” and “there was too much happening at his Juhu home”, his executive secretary informed me.


After a half-hour delay (which the executive secretary warns me of well in advance), Kapur arrives. He is in a slightly faded, black cotton shirt with vegetable dye prints on it (Fabindia, he later confirms), cotton trousers, a black cotton jacket slung over his shoulders, and a pair of ageing floaters. Sixty-two-year-old Kapur is an old resident of Juhu, and an old, celebrated member of the Mumbai film industry, so he isn’t an outsider at this quintessentially filmi hotel. But he isn’t at home either. As he soon tells me, putting a spoonful of cappuccino froth in his mouth, Juhu isn’t the same anymore. The one he belonged to, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, was different: “There was no filth, we could go into the beach. The industry was smaller, people hung out together in their beach bungalows, there was a sense of camaraderie.” About Juhu of the 1980s, Kapur writes in his blog: “…Of Kabir and Protima Bedi’s house. Little babies called Pooja and Siddharth. Running around in diapers. Mahesh Bhatt

preaching Godhead and nirvana. Parvin Babi sitting in a corner smiling benignly, smoking whatever anyone smoked those days…And who else? Occasionally Smita Patil.” As our conversation progresses—slowly at first, because his words are measured, to the point, spoken in a voice barely loud enough for my digital dictaphone to capture—nostalgia about Mumbai and Juhu, where his creative journey began, gives way to his hectic present. This is a slightly confusing stage of his life, often difficult for Hindi film insiders and journalists to understand. For the past 10 years, Kapur has made London his home. In 1994, the director surprised everyone by making Bandit Queen, a film based on a book by Mala Sen on dacoit-turned-politician Phoolan Devi. It got him instant laurels. Hollywood beckoned, and he left. I meet a man partly seasoned in the structured, disciplined ways of Hollywood, and looking beyond it. Kapur is in India for the long haul, and has a lot on his mind.

Until we met, Kapur was, for this writer (an indiscriminate film lover, capable of appreciating Sanjay Dutt, Kamal Haasan, Jack Black and Sean Penn with equal enthusiasm) India’s only truly crossover director—going by the most popular usage of the word ‘crossover’. His career graph explains it: A disastrous attempt at stardom in forgettable romantic films under the banner of his maternal uncle, Dev Anand’s Navketan Films (among them was Ishq Ishq Ishq, 1974, arguably the worst film Anand produced); a foray into television, where he got to prove his acting talent with serials such as Udaan (1990) during Doordarshan’s heyday; a model for commercials (remember Digjam Suitings?); his famous debut as a director with Masoom (1983) and then Mr India (1987), a box office sensation; Bandit Queen (1994), which earned him recognition from the world; and then his last three feature films—Elizabeth (1998), Four Feathers (2002) and Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007) with Talking Pictures, a London-based pro-

duction house that makes Hollywood films. It is a “crossover” story in every sense. Each of these phases are stories of new beginnings, new experiments. But it is safe to say that for Kapur, film-making now is only a crucial, very special part of his creative universe. He is more a creative entrepreneur. Kapur is in the process of roping in strategic investors for a $1 billion (about Rs4,300 crore) private fund for creative work in digital technology in South Asia. He says the Singapore government (for gaming and animation) and China’s Hina Group, an investment banking and private equity group, are already on board and he is in talks with some Indian companies as well. “This fund will not look at filmmaking, because I believe that the next big splurge is not in Bollywood or Hollywood; it’s in the world of the Web—to tell stories that are immediate, that can hook you in your cellphone. This fund will aggregate together content creators and technology from Asia. I want to be in creative control from the time con-


tent is made to the gatekeeping stage and then distribution. Professionals will only manage it.” Kapur already has two characters in mind for a story that will unfold in your cellphone if the fund is successfully raised, and channelled: “an ordinary girl and her travails through life, and perhaps an animal.” After being the creative head of Virgin Comics, the company Kapur formed with Deepak Chopra, a close friend, this is the filmmaker’s second big jab at mass media. Among other ideas (“I’m working on five more things that you have no clue about, and I can’t tell you”) that he is flirting with is a Twenty20 kabaddi tournament, only for Indian television. His reasons for thinking up the last are obvious, but the vision to execute it and, to an extent, generate the funds for it, is still fuzzy. What gets someone who has followed Kapur’s journey since the early 1990s curious is: How does a gifted storyteller whose characters have stayed on in India’s collective memory manage to multitask, let his imagination run in five directions

I am an unquenchable, unstoppable storyteller. The story of reverse colonization is my story

and yet focus on one thing—the second draft of the script for Paani, a feature film which Kapur conceived 15 years ago, and which, he says, is his “No. 1 priority right now”. So, my next question to him is: What is the one sensibility or world view that defines Shekhar Kapur? “I have asked myself that question many times,” he says, then goes into a long pause (there were many in the two interviews). “This is a world that is increasingly exciting and increasingly allowing you opportunities and goading you to explore these opportunities. You can’t but be a multitasker. But ultimately, my core is that of an unquenchable, unstoppable storyteller. People are coming in to the fund because I’m telling them the story of the future, of Asia’s future creators, its technology and creativity. The story of reverse cultural colonization is my story, and it manifests itself in all my ideas.” What he says takes me back to an interview that actor Cate Blanchett gave soon after ElizaTURN TO PAGE L14®











Around the world MPI/GETTY IMAGES/WSJ

The backstories and stories of the books that make the cut as your summer reading The Wall Street Journal


>> NON­FICTION u When You Are Engulfed in Flames By David Sedaris, Out in the US, Little, Brown

An Italian serial killer. A Chinese coma victim. Hunting for fresh eggs in 1940s’ Leningrad. From thrillers to histories, this season’s books are journeying the globe

Quirky essays drawn from the author’s past with his eccentric family (his sister is comedian-actor Amy Sedaris), his years in New York and his life in France. Backstory: Sedaris’ audience is too big for bookstores; he can sell out concert venues (he got a Grammy nomination for David Sedaris: Live at Carnegie Hall). He’s sold more than four million copies of his books. Publisher Little, Brown plans an almost Grisham-sized first printing of 650,000 copies. What grabbed us: In the wake of James Frey and other scandals, the memoirist genre is under siege. Although Sedaris, 51, claims he keeps a daily diary, one has to wonder at his detailed recollection of conversations, people, events and clothes from his distant youth (Sedaris declined to comment for this article). Nonetheless, the author’s many fans will no doubt flock to his newest offering.

B Y R OBERT J . H UGHES ····································· or our summer reading round-up, we spoke with publishers, authors, independent booksellers, online retailer Amazon and chain stores such as Barnes and Noble. We asked them to name the coming releases they were most excited about—including such titles as The Monster of Florence, Beijing Coma and One Minute to Midnight—and picked our favourites after reading the works they recommended. In the coming weeks, bookstores will welcome new works by some best-selling authors, including essayist David Sedaris (When You Are Engulfed in Flames), Andre Dubus III (The Garden of Last Days) and Joyce Carol Oates (My Sister, My Love). “I had a dream the other night that I did a book signing and signed five books,” jokes Sedaris, one of the industry’s biggest draws. “I realize I’m very lucky.” The summer will also see books by many first-time authors, including the short-story collections One More Year by UkrainianAmerican Sana Krasikov and Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan, a Jesuit priest from Nigeria. “One of the things that makes American literature so vital at this point is that we have input from so many different cultures and linguistic backgrounds,” says Paul Yamazaki, coordinating buyer at City Lights bookstore in San Francisco. Since it’s an election year, there’s a surge of political books in the US. Among them: a stilluntitled work from Ron Suskind on national security, Your Government Failed You by Richard A. Clarke and What Happened by former White House press secretary Scott McClellan. The $28 billion (around Rs1.18 trillion) American book industry faces challenges in a sluggish economy. Bookstore sales in the first quarter totalled $4.46 billion, a 5.1% increase over the comparable period in 2007, according to the US Census Bureau. But last month, Barnes and Noble lowered its sales forecast for the year. “There are people who believe that books are recession-proof,” says Stan Hynds, head buyer for Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, Vermont. “We’re going to find out.”


u One Minute to Midnight By Michael Dobbs, Out in the US, Knopf



‘I can just take vignettes and plug them into a story’ The humour writer talks about his writing—and inspiration

your books? I never sit down thinking I’m going to write a book. Four years might pass and I look around and think, I have enough (essays already written) for a book.

B Y R OBERT J . H UGHES The Wall Street Journal

··································· avid Sedaris is best known for his laugh-out-loud books such as Me Talk Pretty One Day and Naked. His latest collection of essays, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, (released in the US on 3 June), once again puts a humorous spin on his everyday doings. Sedaris spoke with WSJ.


How do you come up with ideas for

You’ve said you rely on diary entries for your inspiration. I started keeping a diary when I was 20. Every season, I write a diary. So, one that runs from 21 December until 21 March is my winter diary. They’re all broken up into seasons. Most of them are just boring crap, but at the end I go through them and find things I might be able to use later. I keep a guide to what’s in every diary, then I go through that and get ideas. The guide is full of incidents. The

incidents aren’t enough to make a story—they’re just little vignettes—but sometimes I can just take the vignettes and plug them into a story. Do you consider your essays as memoirs? I wouldn’t call it memoir. If I had to call them anything I’d call them comic essays. For some reason, and I don’t know why I think this, I’ve always thought of memoir as more of a whole —I think of Angela’s Ashes, which is a whole book that begins at one point and ends at another point. My books are choppier than that. Often there are stories about things, not about people at all.

u The Monster of Florence By Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi, Out in the US on 10 June, Grand Central Publishing

Which other writers do you admire? Tobias Wolff. I like the way he’s abstract. So many people get abstract and they’re not interesting and you don’t believe in their characters—they’re words on a page. But Wolff just continues to astonish me. I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves. You can’t fake his humanity. What essays in When You Are Engulfed in Flames are you particularly fond of? All The Beauty You Will Ever Need, about buying drugs with my brother. I like reading it aloud, the way it moves, the laughs it gets, the feeling I get at the end when I’m reading it. Write to

A minute-by-minute account of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, when the US and USSR were close to nuclear war over Soviet missile installations in Cuba. The book features new data about the movement of Soviet forces based on declassified government documents and interviews with surviving Russian participants. Backstory: Dobbs wanted to write about the missile crisis while there were still survivors to interview. He says the threat of disaster didn’t come from the decisions of Kennedy or Khrushchev, but from unpredictable events while “the military machine cranked along”. What grabbed us: Dobbs argues that while many academics have studied the crisis, the “human story has been lost”. He details some little-known tales within the larger drama, such as the errant flight of Charles Maultsby’s B-52 reconnaissance plane, which drifted into Soviet airspace hundreds of miles from his planned route over the North Pole.

The humorist: Sedaris’ new book of essays is a humorous spin on everyday doings.

The story of one of Italy’s most notorious serial killers, who has eluded capture for decades. One of the co-authors, Italian journalist Mario Spezi, was jailed when Italian authorities accused him of being the Monster of Florence (he was later released and the prosecutors involved were censured). Backstory: Best-selling thriller author

Charging ahead: One Minute to Midnight is about the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. Douglas Preston, when living in Florence in 2000, learnt about the murderer who attacked lovers in their cars and had killed 14 people. It was, he says, “the most horrific story I’ve ever come across in my life”. Preston teamed up with Spezi, who had covered the case, to solve the crime. What grabbed us: In separate chapters, each author tells us of his involvement in the investigation. The authors detail the history of the case and offer up their theories about who the killer could be, and why the case matters. “Many countries have a serial killer who defines his culture by a process of negation, by exposing its black underbelly. England had Jack the Ripper. Italy had Monster of Florence.”

define the variety of nerd subcultures. One conclusion: “Nerdiness offers respite from the chaos of home life.” What grabbed us: Nerds make for an entertaining treatise, and Nugent is serious about them. The book is not jokey. For instance, he compares nerdiness to Asperger’s syndrome, a condition that includes poor social skills. STAFF/AFP/GETTY IMAGES/WSJ

u Nixonland By Rick Perlstein, Out in the US, Scribner The book charts the path from John F. Kennedy’s death to Richard Nixon’s 1972 landslide election victory. Against the backdrop of race riots, war protests and assassinations, it shows how middle-class Americans and liberal intellectuals came to see each other as un-American. Backstory: “I am obsessed with the 1960s,” says Perlstein, who spent about six years writing and researching the book. One surprise: “The astonishing numbers of right-wing vigilante violence that somehow didn’t make it into standard accounts of the 1960s.” What grabbed us: There is a lot about the 1960s that isn’t known. “It surprised me how much strangeness there is in the recent past,” Perlstein says, noting Max Rafferty, California’s superintendent of police, had banned the teaching of evolution.

u American Nerd By Benjamin Nugent, Out in the US, Scribner Nerds, inside-out. This essay-cummemoir examines what a nerd is, from the high-school debate team to computer techies and Dungeons and Dragons experts. The author also writes of his own life as a nerd. Backstory: Nugent says, nerdily, that nerds have suffered “a history of oppression based on arbitrary categorization”, and that he wanted to

Last leg: All about the 1960 Rome Olympics.

uRome: 1960 By David Maraniss, Out in the US on 1 July, Simon & Schuster The Olympics in Rome was during the height of the Cold War, and on the cusp of the civil rights movement, when black American athletes such as Rafer Johnson, Wilma Rudolph and Cassius Clay won gold medals. This was the infancy of the televised games, too, leading to today’s extravagant coverage. Backstory: Maraniss says the Rome Olympics featured a “great setting, wonderful characters and so much of the modern world coming into view”. He interviewed many Russian athletes for the book. What grabbed us: Maraniss writes that “the forces of change were profound and palpable in the Eternal City. In sports, culture, and politics—interwoven in so many ways—one could see an old order dying and a new one being born. With all its promise and trouble, the world, as we see it today, was coming into view.” TURN TO PAGE L14®















Easy reading: Patil is betting big on timeless favourites such as Suppandi and Shikhari Shambhu.




SUNALINI MENON The coffee taster Chief executive officer Coffee Labs Pvt Ltd

Backstory: When she was a child, Menon would watch her uncle pour hot water on tea leaves, sip some of it, swirl it around his mouth, spit it out, and then proceed to yell at the person managing his tea estate. She loved it, and wanted a similar job. Menon did her MSc in food technology from Women’s Christian College, Chennai, and then took a test to qualify as a taster with the Coffee Board of India. She topped the test. The first woman coffee taster in India, she started as an “assistant cup taster” in the 1970s. After two decades at the board, Menon, now 60, started Coffee Labs Pvt. Ltd, a unique organization that evaluates the quality overtones of Indian coffee and certifies quality for producers, traders, exporters and consumers. Why we think it’s cool: Slurrrp, swish, spit! That’s what Menon does, professionally. Etiquette? No, none of that balderdash here. Who wouldn’t love to taste endless cups of coffee all day and then travel around the world to taste some more? The tasting process goes something like this: Menon sips small amounts of black coffee, swirls it around in her mouth, spits it out and then looks wise. And she flies away to Italy to do it all over again.

SAMIR PATIL The comic­book maker Founder CEO ACK Media Ltd

Why she thinks it’s cool: “You need a born acuity to be a taster. Tasting is part of me. I am one of the few women in the field, and I get to travel across the world to learn more and spread what I have.” The flip side: “When I explain to people what exactly my job involves—the tasting, the analysing, categorization of markets—it almost always takes the fun away from what they imagine I must be doing. Everybody wants to sit around, sip several cups of coffee and read a book. I do too!” If she wasn’t doing this, then: Menon would have been a dietician. Pavitra Jayaraman

“ For me, this is a chance to actually change the way young people think

Backstory: After graduating in engineering from Pune, Patil, 37, along with a group of friends, set up an information technology company. Patil soon moved to the US to pursue a master’s in engineering followed by an MBA at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). A successful stint with McKinsey and Co. in New York followed; he spent eight years helping clients in sectors such as entertainment and media. A chance encounter with Amar Chitra Katha’s new acquirer, Shripal Morakhia, and some social objectives of his own drew him to join Amar Chitra Katha. Patil has given the classic Indian imprint a new lease of life, and is currently recruiting a bunch of young managers to take Amar Chitra Katha to the next level—and to a new generation of readers.

The flip side: Working with comic books may seem awesome, but this is still a new and uncharted business to run. Patil keeps long hours at work and is constantly travelling, which leaves him with little time to actually read any of his books. If he wasn’t doing this, then: Two quite different ideas excite Patil. One is writing and the other is investing in/nurturing small innovative companies in India.

SAHAD PV The pro blogger Editor & publisher VC Circle (

Backstory: More than 10 years after he became a journalist, Sahad was bewitched by the possibilities of online media. While at ‘Business Today’ in 2005, he heard about the success of blogs in the US, and saw this medium as the path to fulfilling his dream of working for himself. He began dabbling in it. In 2006, he went full­time and started VC Circle—a blog that is synonymous with his name today. He tracks venture capital, mergers, acquisitions and private equity. Many venture capital investors in India check his website every day, often over breakfast. Thirty­three­year­old Sahad now also organizes keenly attended events using VC Circle’s brand pull. The next step, he says, is his own media empire.

Why we think it’s cool: Comic books! Graphic novels! Artists! What’s not to love about the job? Patil is exploring ways of using the Internet, animation and classic ACK titles together to create new ways of telling stories. Oh, and there is that office, which is just packed to the rafters with comic books. Why he thinks it’s cool: “For me, this is a chance to actually change the way young people think. Doing it through our cultural language and heritage of ideas is the fun creative part. I am also excited by the prospect of using the tremendous variety of platforms available to us—comics, theatre, games, virtual worlds, films and many others to bring the Indian storytelling experience to life.”

Click away: Sahad has now hired full­time staff.

“ You need a born acuity to be a taster. Tasting is part of me

Sidin Vadukut

Why we think it’s cool: Even 10 years ago, there was just one path to the top at a media company: up the ladder, rung by rung. Today, an entrepreneurial journalist such as Sahad can take a short cut. With only a computer, he can start his own gig. Not to mention the cool dress code. Why he thinks it’s cool: “As soon as I get up, I switch my laptop on. I work in my night clothes until I have a meeting.” That will soon change though, with his home­based venture growing into serious business—he has moved into dedicated office space with a small full­time team, “My cool job is now transforming into a cool firm!” The flip side: Risk, risk, risk. The business model for online media has not been proven yet (thus, Sahad’s experimentation with event management). Hiring for any start­up is difficult anywhere, more so in India. Also, ever tried convincing your family that you are going to blog for a living? If he wasn’t doing this, then: Sahad would probably be still working for a large media company or setting up yet another start­up in social media or new media.

Daily cuppa: Menon is India’s first woman coffee taster.

Rana Rosen

“ My cool job is now transforming into a cool firm





Shiver me timbers He contorted his face, rolled his r’s till they went on forever and spouted such pirate gems as “Shiver my timbers, a landlubber I’ll never be.” dummy intro B Y S IDIN V ADUKUT

············································ he first full-length, live-action film Disney ever made was the 1950 hit Treasure Island, based on the popular Robert Louis Stevenson novel. The key role of ship’s cookturned-mutineer Long John Silver was played by veteran English actor Robert Newton. Newton, known for hamming his roles, played the part of the cold-hearted pirate with extra special verve. He contorted his face, rolled his r’s till they went on forever and spouted such pirate gems as “Shiver my timbers, a landlubber I’ll never be.” Besides helping the movie rake it in at the box office, Newton’s performance also helped create the modern day myth of the pirate. In the years hence, pirates in film, cartoons and books have all been leathery characters complete with wooden legs, a hook for an arm, parrot over one shoulder and an eye patch. But the history of piracy on the high seas is one that predates Stevenson by about 4,000 years. One of the first recorded instances of pirates is that of the “Sea Peoples” who routinely marauded the ships of the ancient Egyptian civilization. Centuries later, Julius Caesar himself was once kidnapped by Cilician pirates and spirited away to the little island of Pharmacusa. The Roman emperor was released after some peculiar high drama (see graphic). Little wonder that the Romans shortly passed anti-piracy laws that have repercussions in legislation even today. The waters of the Mediterranean and Aegean seas were not the only rich raiding grounds for pirates. The Vikings feared all over Europe in the 7th century, and in the East, the might of the Vijayanagar empire was challanged by pirates who sailed around the west coast of India. Across the world and across seas, from the North Sea to the seas off Japan, pirates stole booties and created myths. It was only a matter of time before pirates became the topic of fiction. Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Stevenson’s Treasure Island and J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan all magnified and glorified this myth. LucasArts released a number of highly acclaimed computer games inspired by popular pirate legend. And finally, Johnny Depp and company transformed pirate lore into blockbuster material with the Pirates of the Caribbean series. After almost a hundred attacks on ships this year, Somali pirates on rickety motorboats stealing supertankers have once again catapulted piracy on the high seas into popular purview. The Saudi Sirius Star, one of the largest ships ever captured by pirates, was hijacked with 100 million dollars worth of oil in her tanks. At the time of going to press, her owners were still negotiating with the Somali captors. With piracy back in the news, it is as good a time as any to brush up on your pirate history. Here is an illustrated history of pirate lore, both fact and fiction, right from the pharoah’s nemesis to the villains of Somalia.




Ancient Egypt was often subject to attacks by the “Sea Peoples”, raiders who lurked on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean sea and were quite a hand­ ful for several generations of Egyptian pharaohs from around the 2nd century BC. References to them can be found in the Amarna letters, a series of missives in cunei­ form script on clay tablets, sent to outposts by the Egyptian administra­ tion, possibly during the reign of Amenhotep III. Later, Ramesses II would first defeat some of them in battle and then use them to fight the Hittite empire.

Closer home, piracy was a menace that threatened Indian kingdoms right from the Vijayanagar empire and Bahmani Sultanate in the 14th century to the Mughals later. Mughal queen Mariam­uz­Zamani’s ship was attacked by Portuguese pirates in 1613. Enraged, Jodha Bai’s son (for that was her Hindu name) Jehangir sacked the Portuguese town of Daman.


In 75 BC, when Julius Caesar was kidnapped by Cilician pirates who demanded 20 talents (around 600kg) of gold as ransom, the dictator was livid. He demanded that he was worth more and asked the pirates to up the ransom to 50 talents. The pirates obliged, the Romans paid, and the Caesar was released. He immediately hunted his captors down and destroyed them. But after repeated pirate attacks the Roman Senate passed the Lex Gabinia law. This allowed Roman general Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus draconian powers to crush the opposition. Many experts see echoes of the Lex Gabinia in the way the American government empowered George Bush after 9/11.


The Vikings from the north were arguably the greatest pirates in European history. For around four centuries from 800 AD, their longships took them from Istanbul in the east to Greenland and Iceland in the west. Viking explorer Leif Ericsson even man­ aged to briefly estab­ lish a colony in New­ foundland in present­day Canada. The painting shows Norwegian king Olaf Trygvasson, who introduced Christianity to the Vikings. The nursery rhyme London bridge is falling down is believed to be inspired by Trygvas­ son, who once burnt the bridge dur­ ing a raid on England.


The United States was forced into its first overseas military action by the Barbary pirates of north Africa. Based out of ports in Tripoli, Tunis and Algiers, the pirates were a large, well­organized group that harassed American ships so much that the US created its navy in 1794 to primar­ ily counter this threat. The Barbary Wars of 1801 and 1815 weakened the pirate presence but it took another 15 years to wipe them out.


The greatest age of piracy, and one which created most commonplace myths and legends, lasted from 1560 to the mid­18th century. The Caribbean sea was infested by European buccaneers, led by famous captains such as Blackbeard and Henry Morgan. For a highly fictionalized glimpse of the era, watch any of the Pirates of the Caribbeans movies.


The world of films, books and even video games built on the romantic myth of pirates. Some of the most famous pirates games were the Monkey Island series from LucasArts which incorporated sev­ eral pirate themes. Players had to clear levels by “Insult Sword­fighting” and “Insult Arm Wrestling”.


The eternal city was no stranger to pirate attacks. In 846 AD, Muslim pirates man­ aged their only attack on Rome when they burnt it down to the ground. St Peter’s Basilica was ransacked. This led to the building of the Leonine Wall across the Tiber, inside which we find present­day Vatican City.


By the 11th century, piracy came to be seen as a severe crime. According to one historian, the first case of a criminal being “hanged, drawn and quartered” occurred in 1241 when King Henry III sentenced pirate William Maurice to death. The pun­ ishment involved the criminal being dragged along the ground to the gallows, hanged almost till death, followed by disembowelment, emasculation, cutting off of arms and legs and then beheading. Things were usually prolonged as much as possible.


Armed with AK­47 rifles and rocket launchers, Somali pirates are the most modern avatar of the sea­faring raider. For a decade since the 1990s they have been intercepting vessels in the busy waters off the Horn of Africa. The recent spurt in their activities have drawn the navies of several nations to patrol the region. On 19 November, the INS Tabar of the Indian Navy sunk an alleged mothership of Somali pirates.





The (uncensored)

tasting notes India has finally got a bounty of local wines to choose from, but do they make the grade? We got three experts to try four new brands B Y M ELISSA A B ELL & S EEMA C HOWDHRY ···························· few years ago, it seemed every banker you met wanted to pack in the 9-to-5 and live the good life as a winemaker. Prime property was bought all over Nashik and the grape growing began. The fruits of that labour have finally been picked, bottled and are now ready to be served. But how do the products measure up? We asked two sommeliers and a professional wine taster—“We spit, so you don’t have to”—to taste four recently launched brands: Zinzi, Nilaya, Big Banyan and Tiger Hill. We bought the bottles directly from the companies, took over a private room at the Q’ba restaurant in Delhi and sampled one red and one white from each brand. Here’s an edited transcript of what the professionals had to say:


THE EXPERTS Magandeep Singh After completing his hotel management from Institute of Hotel Management, Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition, Mumbai, Singh pursued his master’s in hospitality management at Institut Vatel, Nîmes, France. He got a postgraduate diploma in wine tasting (Sommelier­Conseil) at L’Université du Vin, Suze­la­Rousse, France. He has now founded a wine consultancy called Wi­Not?, and is a writer and the host of NDTV Good Times’ food and wine show ‘Around the World in 85 Plates’.

Stephane Soret Soret grew up in Provence’s southern Rhône wine country near Avignon, France. He earned his sommelier degree from the Ecole Hôteliere de Nîmes, and soon after graduated with distinction from Centre de Management Hotelier International­Paris. Soret has worked in some of the top restaurants in London, Paris, New York, Dubai and San Francisco, as well as being the wine director for the official catering company to Prince Charles of England. He now works as the head sommelier for The Imperial, New Delhi.

Gurjit Singh Barry Born in Delhi, Barry got his hotel management degree in 2001 from the Institute of Hotel Management, Pusa, Delhi. He then received his advanced certification at the Wine and Spirit Education Trust in London. Barry leads wine consultations and training programmes for hotel companies across India for Magandeep Singh’s company, Wi­Not?. None of the experts is on the payroll of any Indian or international wine company.


Launched by Vijay Mallaya’s United Breweries label, this wine targets the wine newbie. Its flashy label boasts “French varietal” and an extra tag around the bottle’s neck offers recipes for wine-based drinks. The tag reads: “They come from hand-picked French grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Shiraz.” The wine is available in Karnataka, Goa, West Bengal and Maharashtra and sells for Rs270 (all prices

before duties and taxes). Our experts say: Stephane Soret (SS): This is a pretty cheap marketing ploy. People see it’s a French wine, so it adds a bit of quality to it. But “French varietal” means nothing. Magandeep Singh (MS): This is French wine because the original cuttings were French, but this might be the seventh or 70th grafting of the wine. It’s Indian wine. The label is a gimmick. And Zinfandel is not French at all. It’s Italian, maybe, but not French. This is absolutely wrong information on the label.

Zinzi White The company says: A mixture of Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc, it is easy to drink—fresh, fruity, light and sweetish. Our experts say: MS: The colours are fine; it looks like any wine (tastes wine, starts coughing). Wow. You see, I judge a wine a lot by its finish, just pure finish; nothing else to me is more important than a smooth finish that isn’t too jarring, too metallic or too steely. And this wine is all three. SS: For me, there is no concept, no identity. It’s very imbalanced, very green. Overall, the acidity is overpowering. Gurjit Singh Barry (GB): It starts out medium sweet, but by the time it reaches your mid-palate, it’s dead, finished; you don’t even realize you had anything. It has a nose, but that’s it.

Zinzi Red The company says: The red is a blend of Zinfandel, Shiraz and Cabernet. The aroma is freshly crushed red fruit with spicy notes. It is easy

to drink, light to medium-bodied, with soft tannins. Our experts say: SS: It’s cooked. From a tasting point of view, it has that sweet red pepper, but not in a good way. It has very earthy roots. MS: It is heated grape juice. SS: Okay, next.


Launched by Diageo, the company that owns Johnny Walker and California wine Beaulieu Vineyard, Nilaya targets first-time wine drinkers and markets itself as the first Indian wine from Diageo, with a proud Hindi “n” on its label. The wine is available for Rs350 in Maharashtra, Delhi, Chandigarh, Karnataka and Goa. Our experts say: MS: I like the label. It does something for me. I like the incorporating of the Hindi “n”. I would love to give the rest of the world a tough time pronouncing Indian wine names after all the trouble we’ve had to go to in learning French names. If I had a wine, I would name it in Sanskrit. Indians see this label and recognize it as something of their own.

Sauvignon Blanc The company says: A smooth subtle balance to citrus flavours. Our experts say: SS: It smells like sugar cane juice. This would not appeal to the Indian consumer. There is nothing pleasing about this wine. MS: It’s actually salty. I don’t think it’s intended. GB: There might be a problem with this particular bottle. SS: I’ve never tasted this, but I PHOTOGRAPHS



New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Pune

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Vol. 2 No. 32



COLOUR CORRECTED This artist wore anklets and bell­bottoms as a teenager in Kerala, and now shops at the best designer stores in London >Page 11




India’s finally got a bounty of local wines to choose from, but do they make the grade? >Page 14

Author Rian Malan finds that a group of young, black comics are breaking taboos, cracking controversial jokes and taking South Africa by storm >Page 12

Loyiso Gola







e have exercise in a pill,” said Ron Evans, an author of the study (of mice that burned calories without moving). “With no exercise, you can take a drug and chemically mimic it.”—Associated Press, 31 July. It’s all very cozy here in 2025, but what must life have been like before the pill? Sweaty. In 2008—the year Evans et al. showed that lab mice could get a fat-busting workout while pinned to a corkboard and Pfizer jumped into research on its blockbuster exercise drug Potaton... >Page 4



hat is it that you do most often that you hardly ever talk about? It’s okay, you can wipe that smirk off your face. I wasn’t referring to the sort of activity that should find no place in a family newspaper, etc. etc. No, my concern was with sleep. Most of us spend at least a third of our lives asleep. That’s more time than we spend on most other activities—eating, talking, shopping, watching TV, meeting friends and yes, sex—with the possible exception of the WSJ time we spend at the office... >Page 5




omorrow, the pomp and pageantry of the closing ceremony will mark the end and bring the curtain down on arguably the most talked about Olympics in history. Regardless of where you stand with respect to China’s human rights and environmental policies, it is difficult not to feel a grudging respect for the sheer will of a government that mobilized this most populous nation on earth in its quest for Olympic gold—both literally and figuratively. >Page 6

KITCHEN DUTY FOR NAVROZE If you missed out on pulao and Patra ni Machi this new year, chef Farrokh Khambata’s got your Parsi food fix covered >Page 22


For today’s business news > Question of Answers— the quiz with a difference > Markets Watch

New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Pune

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Vol. 2 No. 21



TUBER 2008 is the International Year of the Potato. We tell you the story of how this simple vegetable went out into the world, entered our kitchens, conquered our palates and changed our lives >Page 12

THE MIDDLE PATH The Dalai Lama’s Buddhist beliefs may limit him as a Tibetan political leader, says Pico Iyer in this new biography >Page 18

In October 1995, the potato became the first vegetable to be successfully grown in space.





ots of employers would like to be able to hire cheap, temporary teams of seasoned pros with experience managing $2 billion (around Rs8,500 crore) investment portfolios, running ad campaigns or earning PhDs in neuroscience. But few know the secret to finding temps of that calibre: Look on playgrounds and at PTA meetings. The decision among some highly educated women to stay home with children is sparking a countertrend: The rise of the mommy “SWAT team”. >Page 4






hat is it about women and hairdressers? I’ve spent years trying to work it out and I still don’t have a clue. Let’s take an example. When I’m in England, I get my haircut at a salon in London. The salon is owned by a man called Nicky Clarke. The stylist who normally cuts my hair has his designated spot right behind the place where Clarke himself operates—when he does deign to come in. So, often, when I go to the salon, I get to WSJ see Clarke and his clients up close. >Page 5



AN ARCHAEOLOGIST WHIPS INDY In the latest instalment, Jones breaks all rules, but has he evolved as a professional? Also, read the movie review >Page 20



recently attended a wedding in Chennai. It was hot as hell, but even the withering weather couldn’t dampen the joy of the event. My cousin got married to a boy from Vijayawada and so, the rituals were a mesh of Tamilian and Andhra traditions. The auspicious moment when the mangalsutra is tied—what we call muhurtham—was at 3am, something that would never happen in a Tamilian wedding. The Andhra in-laws wanted the bride to wear a white sari for the occasion. >Page 6

For today’s business news > Question of Answers— the quiz with a difference > Markets Watch > Capital Account column








The travelling


The United Nations is celebrating 2008 as the International Year of the Potato. This is the story of how this simple vegetable went out into the world, entered our kitchens, conquered our palates and changed our lives B Y S IDIN V ADUKUT

···························· hrough the narrow front door of this little three-floor factory you can see the abandoned remains of a vaguely neo-classical building: the old Bombay Talkies. In fact, nothing remains of the building except the roofless façade. But even that façade is ruined by rusting name boards for shops selling screws, iron rebar and other such tools of hard, gritty labour. Inside the Jumboking vadapav factory, though, everything is clean, shiny and efficient. This little plant, deep inside the sprawling Bombay Talkies industrial compound in Malad, a suburb of Mumbai, processes more than 2 tonnes of potato every weekday. Each morning, sacks of potatoes are unloaded, de-sacked, sorted and cleaned before being tipped into two large steaming vats. Six hours later the potatoes magically transform into 50,000-plus potato patties. Ashish Mirani, who manages the kitchen on behalf of Jumboking, beams as he tells us how the patties will now be shipped out in Jumboking trucks to dozens of company outlets all across Maharashtra and Gujarat. The journey for these patties has just begun, but for the humble potato, romantically speak-


ing, it is but the last few legs in an epic journey of thousands of miles and four centuries. In 2006, the world produced more than 315 million tonnes of potato. Which places it in fourth place, after rice, wheat and corn, in the list of most widely grown food crops. The potato thrives, as the UN says in its snappy little International Year of the Potato 2008 brochure: “…on Peru’s mountains, the plains of Northern Europe, China’s Yunnan plateau, Rwanda’s equatorial highlands and subtropical lowlands in India.” Everywhere on the planet except the frozen poles. And, as ably witnessed by Jumboking vadapavs, India is no stranger to the potato. We cultivate more than 25 million tonnes of the tuber—much of it in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. And, from piping hot aloo tikkis by the streets of Delhi to crisp masala dosas pregnant with potato filling at Saravana Bhavan in Chennai, the potato is an ubiquitous part of the Indian diet. Not bad statistics at all for a vegetable that was literally unheard of in most parts of the world till 400 years ago. In fact, the only people who knew of the vegetable till sometime early in the 17th century belonged to the native South American civilizations—the Mayans, Incas and so on. The world, including India,

lived blissfully unaware of this most versatile of vegetables. This means that a whole host of luminaries in human history went by without ever enjoying the satisfying experience of a bowl of hearty mashed potatoes or plate of crisp, deep-fried potato chips. Jesus Christ was one. Closer home, emperor Ashok, the men who carved the caves at Ajanta and Ellora, and several Mughal emperors missed out on tasty tubers and concoctions thereof. Not to mention entire civilizations—Roman, Greek, Persian, et al. In fact, Ashutosh Gowariker may want to rethink that scene in his movie Jodhaa Akbar where

Every potato you see in the world today came from South America

Aishwarya Rai feeds her husband a sumptuous meal of assorted delicacies, including what looks remarkably like a shiny bowl of aloo methi. There is little chance that the potato was anything more than a novelty vegetable during that period in Indian history. So, how did this vegetable go from being a South American delicacy to global staple and now focus of attention from no less than the United Nations (UN)? It’s a fascinating story, and no one is better equipped to tell it than David Spooner, potato expert extraordinaire, of the Agricultural Research Services, US department of agriculture, and researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Spooner has spent the past 22 years studying the potato in general and its taxonomy in particular. Each year, Spooner travels around the world picking up potato samples and soldiering away at some potato conundrum or the other (his latest research paper is titled: Allopolyploid speciation of the tetraploid Mexican potato species S. stoloniferum and S. hjertingii revealed by genomic in situ hybridization). “There is no question about it. The potato was unique to South America before being carried

out into the rest of the world by Spanish conquistadors,” explained Spooner one morning on the phone from his office at the university. “The potato was then carried to the colonies, including India, where it became popular over a very short period of time. Every potato you see in the world today came from South America.” No one knows exactly who first carried the plant on a ship bound for Europe from South America. Some say Sir Walter Raleigh, Englishman of words and travels, was the first person to plant the potato on European soil. But, an even more captivating story is that of wretched Spanish conquistador Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada. In 1568, Senór Quesada was ordered to conquer the Los Llanos area of modern Columbia. Quesada immediately embarked on an expedition with 2,000 men and the glint of gold in his eyes. He returned four years later, emptyhanded, and with a ragged crew of 60 survivors. His masters were less than pleased with his abject failure and he was asked, soon enough, to return to Spain, where he would cause less damage. Quesada’s reputation had taken such a beating that some believe TURN TO PAGE L14®

FOR EXTERNAL USE ONLY If you thought the potato was all about frying, chipping and steaming, think again. Here are at least nine non­edible uses of a potato

the rescue again: Stick one end of a toothpick into the potato and the other end into the mosquito coil. This is also good for sticking in incense sticks in an emergency.

Bling bling

Colour palette

Potatoes can be used to put shine back in old silver jewellery. Boil potatoes in some water and remove. Soak silverware in the same water. Polish with a soft cloth afterwards for that super shine.

We all know that the potato is not the most attractive looking vegetable in the sabzi mandi. In fact, it is downright ugly. But our friend is a truly unselfish hero. Use a potato to sponge-paint your walls. Cut the potato in half, cut your design of choice into the tuber and dip it into paint. Let your children go wild on their colouring books.

Anti­shine Nothing ruins a great pair of pants or a shirt like a nice shiny little patch from botched up ironing. The potato is there to help. Rub a raw slice across the shiny bits and brush it a little.

High voltage

Switched off This is one of the most common non-edible uses of the potato. If you have a broken bulb where the glass is entirely shattered but the stub remains in the socket—a potato is your best friend. Take the spud, cut off the top (for a flat surface) and plant it firmly into the base of the light bulb. Twist, and voila! The broken bulb is out of the socket.

Veggie facial


Use potato juice as an anti-ageing agent. It also makes your skin glow. Chop up some raw potatoes or even grate one. Use the mixture as a mask. Exhausted after a day peering at that computer? Place raw slices on your eyes for relief.

Cool off: Raw slices can relieve stressed eyes.

Dr Spud Raw potato slices provide relief from slight burns. Just place the potato on top of a wound and hold lightly without pressing. The cooling effect of potatoes can also provide relief from headaches. Place two slices on either side of the forehead for quick relief.

Buzz kill How annoying is it when you buy mosquito repellent coils and they just give you a piddly stand to perch them on? Spudster comes to

Thanks to the phosphoric acid content of potatoes, you can use the tuber to generate a little electricity. A large potato and two pieces of different metal—iron and copper are best—can give you a little spark of power. Don’t eat them afterwards, though. And yes, you still need that electricity connection. An average potato can give you half a volt at best.

Aloo attack PVC piping, lighter fluid, some simple tools and lots and lots of potatoes are all you need to make a lethal spud gun. This is no toy, mind you. So, save it for those special occasions when nothing but compound fractures will do. Aarti Basnyat




A smile can be a click away 70 UNLEASH YOUR INNER WARLOCK “MMOs (massively multiplayer online role­playing games) are a nice place to unwind when you get some free time, or after a long day—the rules are different and you can lose yourself in a new world.” Marc Zephyrin, 22, a ‘World of Warcraft’ Orc hunter called Slink.



A preliminary 2008 study conducted by the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, found that among its sample of Internet users, people who “started blogging” were “better adjusted” and “lived healthier, happier social lives” because “blogs are open to dimensions of social support, friendship and positive interaction”. Blogspot ( is a good bet. Another service, Livejournal India (community., has a great community.

Origami, the Japanese art of folding paper, is known to allow “effective development of motor, intellectual and creative abilities”, according to a 2000 study by Katrin and Yuri Shumakov, psychologists based in Toronto, Canada. But if mastering the intricate folding patterns doesn’t fit your crazed schedule, try Papercraft models instead. These freely downloadable PDFs offer detailed folding instructions. All you need is a printer, a pair of scissors and a bit of patience. Start your doll collection at

The science of euphoria

How a handful of psychiatrists concentrate more on the power of positive thinking B Y K RISH R AGHAV

······················· he secret to happiness, sci­ ence would have us believe, is shaped like a kidney and weighs less than 1kg. You can’t see it working (not directly, anyway), and its inner mechanisms were largely a mystery until recently. You don’t have to search the ends of the world, though—the secret to your happiness is right behind your forehead; it’s the part of your brain called the “pre­ frontal cortex”. The diminutive thing is believed to be the centre of personality and mood and emotional memory, and could hold the secrets of happiness. Happiness has always been a fuzzy concept for scientists and researchers. Could there be inter­ ventions designed scientifically to improve people’s happiness? Would the results be obscured by erratic subjective biases? The answers may be arrived at sooner than later, thanks to a new branch of psychology called “positive psychology” that has been attempting to address these issues. Positive psychologists posit that traditional psychology was too concerned with the gloom and doom of the human psyche, with treating illness and disor­ der rather than strengthening normal lives. The “father of positive psy­ chology” is Martin E.P. Seligman who, as president of the Ameri­ can Psychological Association, chose “positive psychology” as the theme during his year­long




Daniel Gilbert, professor of psychology at Harvard Univer­ sity and author of the 2005 book ‘Stumbling on Happiness’, calls the prefrontal cortex an “experience simulator”, the part of the brain that allows us to indulge in flights of imagination and create “synthetic happi­ ness”. He argued that certain cognitive biases in its innate predictive capabilities, such as imagining foreseeable futures, made us terrible at predicting what would make us happy. Researchers are also looking Full frontal: The happy cortex. at larger groups—a study by Nicholas Christakis and James H. tenure in 1998. It was, in a Fowler at Harvard University sense, a response to psycho­ found that “people’s happiness logy’s historical bias towards depends on the happiness of oth­ mental illness rather than men­ ers with whom they are con­ tal wellness. Seligman believed nected”, providing a picture that that the question “how do happy could see “happiness, like health, people differ from the rest of as a collective phenomenon”. you” was just as important as The studies have just really the tomes dedicated to the so­ gotten under way in the past called “mentally ill”. decade, so many results are still He conceptualized and started pending. And Anjali Chhabria, an annual three­day positive psy­ Mumbai­based psychiatrist and chology conference—gathering founder of Mindtemple, a coun­ the big minds, such as Ed Diener selling centre, cautions against a and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. perfect pathway to happiness Diener, a professor of psychology through science. at the University of Illinois, Urba­ She says that happiness is a na­Champaign, underscored the combination of factors—not just importance of social ties in com­ psychological and hormonal, but bating depression. Csikszentmih­ also environmental and situa­ alyi is known for his theory of tional. “There’s a lot of research “ f l o w ” , w h i c h a r g u e s t h a t happening in this field—there are humans derived the most happi­ so­called ‘happy hormones’ being ness from being in a state of identified, there are psychological timelessness and immersion in a studies of happy people being challenging and skilled activity. conducted versus overall studies So how does this all relate to of ‘happiness’. But we don’t have that kidney­shaped cortex? all the answers—yet.”



“Say you’re having a crappy, bored-outta-my-brain day at work, and then along come these little nuggets of awesomeness in convenient little boxes,” says Reetika Joshi, 22, a research analyst at a Punebased firm, about Webcomics, free graphic comic strips on the Internet. “I guess what I like most is the simplicity of it all. How someone can draw just stick figures and scribbles, and it’ll still be the best thing you see all day.” Start your Webcomics viewing spree with the popular but geeky XKCD ( or the irreverent Cyanide and Happiness ( happiness). Careful, the stick figures do get a bit graphic.


“Twitter is very different from mail, chat or Facebook. It keeps you up-to-date with friends’ happenings in your day-to-day life,” says Harish Ravindran, an IT professional who uses the popular service with gleeful abandon, having clocked 249 updates since December 2007. While keeping your friends in the loop of your daily banalities might not seem like the most profound of activities, once you get into the Twitter groove, a strange wibbly-wobbly feeling of what technology commentator Clive Thompson calls “ambient awareness” starts to kick in. It’s like a peripheral awareness of what’s going on with all your friends at all times, making you feel much more connected to them, no matter where you may be in the world.

While there’s no scientific evidence to back up the claim that fuzzy animals equal bliss, founders of Cute Overload ( and Upside Down Dogs (www.upsidedowndogs. com) might beg to differ. Thousands of viewers check in daily to get their fill of adorable furry little animals in ridiculously saccharine-sweet poses.


A 2006 study on the “Cognitive Health Benefits of Digital Gameplay” by the Games for Health Project, a US-based non-profit organization that studies the use of videogames for health care, monitored the effects of videogames on thinking patterns and found that—surprise, surprise—certain types of games could potentially contribute to a healthy, agile mind. World of Goo! is a new, independently produced game from 2D-Boy (, a new indie game studio. It’s a lovely puzzle solver, leaving you to figure out concepts of physics and architecture while couched in an impossibly cute and addictive game. The game can be bought online for $20 (around Rs1,000), and is available for PC, Mac and Nintendo Wii.




Give in to gastronomy HINDUSTAN TIMES


“There are few things I look forward to more than languid,

long and divine Sunday brunch complete with Bellinis, lots of appetizers, sexy tunes and lazy conversation.” Malini Ramani, Delhi­based fashion designer

“I love the laid­back attitude about Sunday brunches. I sit back with friends and have a few beers and go through all the courses really slowly. It’s a four­hour meal, by the end of which I barely move.” Rohit Barker, Bangalore­based radio jockey with Radio Indigo Brunches at Olive Beach and The Leela Palace in Bangalore and at ai in New Delhi cost around Rs1,500-2,000 per person (taxes extra).

65 RAISE A TOAST uu A University of North Carolina (UNC) Alumni Heart Study monitored students at UNC in 1964-1965 over 35 years to study cardiovascular disease risk factors. The moderate drinkers (who opted for a glass or two of wine a night), were far happier and healthier (and smoked less cigarettes) than people in all other drinking categories. Start your new drinking schedule with recommendations from international wine expert Robert Joseph. His 2008 Indian Wine Challenge awarded medals to Chateau d’Ori’s Cabernet Merlot, Chateau Indage’s Marquise de Pompadour Brut and Sula’s Late Harvest Chenin Blanc.

67 GO LOOKING FOR THE WHITE GOLD “It is no exaggeration to say that peace

and happiness start, geographically, where garlic is being used in preparation of food.” Marcel Boulestin, French chef and gourmand





Sometimes all it takes for a jolt of endorphins to the head is a quick dose of chilli peppers. Not only do they release endorphins, research also suggests they work as aphrodisiacs. For the biggest burst of blazing spiciness, try the hottest pepper in the world—bhut jolokia, or the “ghost pepper”. Known for years to the Assamese, the pepper became internationally famous after making it to the Guinness World Records 2007 book as the hottest pepper in the world. To order enough to keep you on an endorphin high for weeks, contact Frontal Agritech, an Assambased farming cooperative at

66 THROW A PARTY If people feel like they’re supposed to celebrate—even if there isn’t really any reason—the pleasure boosters will flare up, encouraging people to switch to party mode. Gurleen M. Puri, wedding planner to the stars, recommends these party boosters: Shells—Spread sand on the table, place some candles around, serve the food in large shells, put on some Caribbean tunes. Banana leaves—Replace the dishes with banana leaves, plan a south Indian menu, put on some traditional Carnatic music. Terrace—Lay out some colourful mats and white, woolly pillows for the seating, serve all the food on trays, keep away from the table, put on some ambient music such as DJ Tesco.

68 PACK YOUR KID’S LUNCH British chef Jamie Oliver tried a straightforward experiment in London schools three years ago: serve the students healthy lunches, rather than junk food, and see how they respond. Schools that instituted the healthy-eating rules suddenly saw a massive drop in bad behaviour and a corollary hike in their test scores. Eating healthy made the children calmer, more eager to learn and, yes, happier. The results were enough for then prime minister Tony Blair to enact new legislation to support healthier eating in schools. MADHU KAPPARATH/MINT


In 2005 the Centre for Neuroimaging Sciences, Institute of Psychiatry, London, discovered that eating ice cream lights up the hypothalamus or the pleasure centre of the brain. Head to Nirula’s Ice Cream Museum at C-135, Sector 2, Noida, for a history lesson on ice cream, stop off at India Gate for a ready-made bite, or make your own at home with this recipe: Ingredients: 1 tbsp sugar K cup milk N tsp vanilla essence 6 tbsp rock salt (or regular salt will do) 3ltr-size Ziploc bag 1ltr-size Ziploc bag Ice Flavourings of choice (fresh fruit, chocolate sauce, crème de menthe) Method: Fill the larger bag with ice about halfway, add the salt and seal. Mix the sugar, milk, vanilla and flavourings in the pint-sized bag and seal. Open up the large bag and put the small bag inside and seal the large bag again. Shake the bag (around 5 minutes) and you’ll see your mixture in the small bag turn into ice cream.






he key to happiness, I’ve always felt, lies not in what you have but in what you don’t have: unrealistic expectations, a sense of entitlement, a constant sense of craving or a hunger to be famous, powerful or rich. I call that man happy, to twist Henry James a little, who can meet the needs of his imagination, and I’ve always felt that if you can simplify and clarify your needs, then everything else falls into place. The happiest people I’ve met are definitely those monks—starting with the 14th Dalai Lama, subject of my most recent book—who have created so strong and stable a home in themselves that they are never far from home, lost or uncertain of where they’re going. Recent research has shown, again and again, that most of us have a certain “happiness threshold”, beyond which it’s hard for us to go. Certain people seem as averse to optimism as others of us are unaware of the meaning of despair. Yet where we stand, when it comes to our happiness, is less like our height than like our muscles; we can work on it, train ourselves (as we train at the gym) and learn how better to realize our potential. Not everyone can become an Arnold Schwarzenegger (or a Dalai Lama), but most of us can learn to be happier and healthier than we are, so long as we enjoy basic freedoms and food and shelter. Happiness is a matter, in short, of our perceptions, and not our circumstances; certain wise souls have been as content within a prison as many millionaires in Beverly Hills are lonely, confused or depressed within their multi-million-dollar mansions. People who suddenly win the lottery, surveys have found, are, at the end of their first year of wealth, no happier than before; they spend all their time with lawyers, they’re not sure whom or how much to trust, they’ve moved into a fancy neighbourhood where they don’t feel they belong. Meanwhile, those who are suddenly rendered quadriplegic report that they feel really not much worse than before their accidents, after a period of adjustment. This is what we see on the page, too: a compassionate young woman like Etty Hillesum, who lost her life in the Holocaust, writes with radiance and conviction and infectious optimism, even as her death approaches, while many a self-absorbed rock star confesses himself desperately starved of the love, respect and direction that are where true happiness lies. I’m not the person to speak on this subject—just another blundering journalist—and I could fill this column with the wisdom of my betters, from Aristotle to Woody Allen. But what I’ve found in my own life is that happiness has come most reliably when I haven’t been looking or hoping for things that don’t really sustain me deep down. In my mid-20s I was a young writer with a job at Time magazine in midtown Manhattan, an apartment (officially) on Park Avenue, freedom to travel and write and, single, to do pretty much anything I pleased. But I could feel that something inward and profound was not being satisfied, and so I left for a monastery in Kyoto and now live in a two-room flat in the middle of rural Japan, with no car, no bicycle, no printer, no high-speed Internet, no television I can understand. And the days seem to allow time to do everything and nothing, and I can’t think of a material thing I lack. Happiness really means just the freedom to pursue what is most essential in you while always recalling that happiness, peace and respect come only when they are not being pursued.

Chasing happiness “I call that man happy, to twist Henry James a little, who can meet the needs of his imagination.”

Pico Iyer’s most recent book was The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. Write to


Homeward bound: Iyer left the glitz of New York City to find solace in a Japanese monastery (above).




Hands­on therapy

24 LEARN YOUR ABCS Last year, in September, the National Literacy Trust in the UK issued a warning about the ills of poor reading skills—especially among men. Forty-three per cent live alone, compared with 30% of men with good literacy skills. Only 50% are “satisfied with life so far”, compared with 78% of men with good literacy skills. Lahar Appaiah, 30, a corporate lawyer, says reading improves his relationships, as it gives him “a greater experience of empathy and sympathy”. To find your favourite authors, head to the Kolkata Book Fair, which is on from 28 January to 8 February. Or, visit the Pink City to attend the Jaipur Literary Fair where you can get reading tips from your favourite authors. It runs from 21-25 January.



25 PLAY WITH DIRT tt Another rule your mother got wrong: Getting dirty is actually the smart thing to do. In 2007, researchers at Bristol University, UK, proved that exposing mice to dirt triggers an increase in serotonin—a compound that increases people’s happiness—in the brain. And the scientists believe it has the same effect on humans. Rather than just rolling in the mud, opt for gardening as a slightly more dignified way to spend time outdoors and get in some dirt time. Nandita Chaturvedi, a member of the board at the All India Kitchen Garden Asssociates, New Delhi, says that gardening is an effective stress reliever. “If you are close to nature, you do forget your tension and problems,” she says. The All India Kitchen Garden Associates, a club that encompasses about 40 colonies in Delhi, introduces people to the joys of gardening. Annual membership costs around Rs100-150, depending on the neighbourhood. Call 011-26853422 for details.

26 BAT

YOUR LASHES “It’s like a kabaddi situation, the cat-and-mouse game itself gives you an adrenalin rush, endorphins are released, it’s very innocent and you can cross boundaries that you normally won’t in civilized conversation. And, it’s good for me,” grins Anirvan Mukherji, 33, who intends to be single and flirt “way into the foreseeable future”. But it’s more than just fun. Mukherji, an account manager with an ad agency in New Delhi, says harmless flirting with his colleagues makes him approachable, breaks the ice, makes light of uncomfortable situations and “lets people know I have a good sense of humour”.


27RIDE THE KAMIKAZE Throwing caution to the wind, and throwing yourself into the wind, amps up the adrenalin like few things can. Niranjan Reddy, 27, a New Delhi­based commodity trader, loves the rush of adrenalin he gets from amusement park rides. He says you can’t get this kind of high anywhere else in the world: “It’s this kick you get in the head.” Though he’s been to parks in Thailand, his favourite is the WonderLa Amusement Park in Bangalore, since it mixes water rides with dry rides. Other popular spots to head for a thrill are Entertainment City in Noida and Essel World in Mumbai.


“The right raga

with the right ‘taal’ (rhythm) at the right time—and whatever the problem may be, you can create a musical world of your own and get lost in it.” Pandit Vishwanath Mishra Veteran tabla player



29 GET


Flipping through the photo album gives people a far greater sense of happiness than chocolate, music, food or wine. A 2007 study conducted by Peter Naish, a psychologist at the Open University, UK, shows that looking at photos improves “a person’s sense of relaxation, brightness, calmness and alertness”. For a modern-day photograph album, sign up for a beautifully bound coffee-table book full of your favourite snaps, which you can design online at My Publisher ( A book of 20 pages costs $29.80 (around Rs1,410).

It seems pretty simple but too often charity work makes it last on the to-do list. After the 2002 Gujarat riots, actor Rahul Bose made the leap from social consciousness to social activism, and it was not just some selfless HINDUSTAN TIMES move, he says: “When you are single-minded about the pursuit of happiness and something comes into your life that makes you unhappy, it only stands to logic that you try to remove that.” Bose helped with the Akshara Centre in Mumbai that helps young women find employment. “I felt so happy, not because I was making some earth-shattering difference to their lives, but it was because I felt really useful.” After the 2004 tsunami, Bose set up The Foundation, which helps educate children from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.







The gaming expert Product executive Milestone Interactive

“ What’s cooler than making money doing the one thing I love to?

Backstory: Alwani, 23, first got his hands on a computer game when he picked up one of his dad’s Casio game watches. He was six then and just about old enough to join a family of gaming freaks. His uncles owned every gaming console in the market and Alwani was quick to get hooked. He has been gaming non­stop for over 15 years now. Once, five years ago, Alwani and friends hooked up four TVs, several consoles and played ‘Halo’ for 14 hours. After finishing school and graduation, in Dubai and India, Alwani worked for a couple of magazines including ‘Top Gear’. And then he spotted the opening at Milestone on an online gaming forum. He now takes care of all games from the Electronic Arts stable for Milestone. Alwani averages around 12 hours of gaming a week and has six consoles at home to help him with this. Why we think it’s cool: As part of his job, Alwani gets to try out all the latest games before lesser mortals like us even hear about them. His office is packed to the gills with games and gaming magazines. And yes, he can game all day without his folks telling him to stop—it’s part of the job, you see. Why he thinks it’s cool: “This is what I am good at. It’s what I do. What’s cooler than making money doing the one thing I love to?” The flip side: It’s not all fun and games. Alwani needs to market his marquee of games and do boring stuff such as organize game launch events. Besides, he just hates having to keep top secret game information from his gamer buddies. If he wasn’t doing this, then: Alwani would be writing for a magazine. Sidin Vadukat

Loaded: Alwani clocks in around 12 hours every week at the six gaming consoles at his home.








The cricket tourist Anchor for ‘Extra Cover’ NEO Sports

“ I get to travel to new places, sample new cuisines and most important of all, I get to be myself

Backstory: The 26­year­old won the Get Gorgeous contest on Channel V in 2004, and like every aspiring model’s dream come true, was whisked off to Rome for the fashion week. After modelling for a few months, she started veejaying for the channel and hosted shows such as ‘Very V’ and ‘Get Gorgeous 2’. She also hosted a travel show for them called ‘Freedom Express’ that went on to become quite popular and in 2007, Vijaya got an offer to host another travel­based show with NEO Sports. This time around, she would be travelling with the Indian cricket team to cover the action off the field. Starting out as a freelancer, she travelled to the West Indies and then Sri Lanka. Her ability to interact with people helped, and the channel signed her on to continue hosting the show. Why we think it’s cool: A travel show is great; a food and travel show, even better. But a food and travel show with the men in blue and other cricketers from around the world—that’s a job that’ll make millions of cricket lovers envious. Mandira Bedi started it, but it was definitely not as much fun for the woman who was criticized for everything—from her clothes to her comments. Vijaya gets to sport the same noodle­straps, but doesn’t get judged on her knowledge of cricket. When she’s in action, she’s going around “experiencing the culture, the cuisine and the people” of the place where a match is taking place. She gets to go shopping with Andrew Symonds, play ‘dandia‘ with Irfan Pathan and visit Sreesanth’s house, all as part of her job. When she’s not working, she’s travelling with the boys, eating out with Bhajji and Yuvi, and partying with Zaheer Khan, besides, of course, taking time off to watch the action live on the field. Why she thinks it’s cool: “I get to travel to new places, sample new cuisines and most important of all, I get to be myself. I get to meet some of the best cricketers in the world and bring their inspiring stories to people. I bring in the cricket fan’s perspective to a series.” Her most memorable moment was when she got the opportunity to meet and chat with her hero, Sachin Tendulkar. “This was the only time I ever got nervous before an interview.” The flip side: The travel is hectic and shooting timings are erratic. If she wasn’t doing this, then: Vijaya would be hosting another travel show. Rachana Nakra

Globetrotter: Vijaya is often badgered with calls from friends and family for match tickets.









Nips and tucks IN GREAT DETAIL

Menswear designers take piping and plackets to another level B Y P ARIZAAD K HAN


Designer Ashish N Soni abides by two key detailing rules: Keep it minimal, and make sure the detailing is proportionate to the size of the garment. Here’s a glossary of terms to help you decode your next designer shirt.



1. Gaurav Gupta: White high­collar shirt with pin­tuck detail on the collar and shoulders, Rs5,800. 2. Narendra Kumar: Black linen shirt with satin band on placket and cuffs, Rs4,800. 3. H20 by Rohit Gandhi: Blue­and­white checked shirt with green piping on the cowboy­style yoke, with epaulette on shoulder, Rs4,400. 4. H20 by Rohit Gandhi: White cotton shirt with houndstooth print on the double collar, Rs4,000.


5. Narendra Kumar: Beige linen shirt with cutwork detail and hook buttons, Rs3,890.


6. Rajesh Pratap: Blue shirt with applique details, Rs6,250.

Pin­tucks These small, narrow pleats are a form of self­texturization on the fabric, and are sown down to create the appearance of a line or stripe.

7. Arjun Khanna: Brown printed shirt with piping and hexagonal buttons, Rs3,550. 8. Rohit Bal: Black pin­tuck shirt, Rs5,990. 9. Rajesh Pratap: White mull shirt with cutwork and embroidered details, Rs6,850.

Piping A decorative, narrow fold of fabric, or other trim, that typically follows the seam of a garment. “Piping in contrast colours along the pockets, the placket or sides has been a rage for quite a while,” says Soni.

10. Ashish N Soni: Black shirt with white collar and cuffs, Rs2,350. Available at: u Ensemble stores in Mumbai and New Delhi. u Narendra Kumar is available at The Courtyard, and Aza Men, Kemp’s Corner, Mumbai; Saket Palace, New Delhi and The Cube, Galaxy Towers, Gurgaon. u Rajesh Pratap is available at D7, Linking Road, Bandra, Mumbai; Aza Men, Kemp’s Corner, Mumbai and 9, Lodi Colony Main Market, New Delhi.




Placket The overlapping layer of fabric that provides support for, or covers, buttons in a shirt. Textured, embroidered and contrast plackets work well on a plain shirt.


Epaulettes An ornamental strip or loop sewn across the shoulder of a shirt, found usually in military­style clothing. Epaulettes add that extra something to a casual look, says Soni. Buttons Coloured buttons, buttons in cloth and those made of mother­of­pearl are subtle details that make a simple shirt stand out. Applique Pieces of fabric in decorative patterns that are sown on to the shirt. According to Soni, floral and geometric shapes are big this season.




Rachana Nakra








LUXURY HAS BECOME A HOLLOW TERM p Teal Soho bench: Apartment 9, N­9,

Greater Kailash­I, New Delhi, Rs38,000; cushion covers start at Rs810.


Benchmark Forget being a couch potato, streamline your seating area with ottomans, divans and benches B Y S EEMA C HOWDHRY


Buzzwords: Is this room minimalist or luxury? t SIT bench:

Ajay Shah Design Studio, 33, Mahalaxmi Arch, Mahalaxmi, Mumbai, Rs24,000.


u Silk zardozi bench: Klove, J­2, Green Park, New Delhi, Rs60,000.

t Red rosettes bench:

Klove, J­2, Green Park, New Delhi, Rs45,000.


he term luxury has been completely abused in today’s context. Until two years ago, from a sari to an apartment to food was said to be minimalist with complete disregard for or a lack of understanding about whether what they portrayed was actually minimal or not. The same is now happening with luxury. It has become a hollow term. Luxury was reintroduced into the international design world after years of it being dominated by minimalist style. It came as a sorbet to clean the palate of minimalism. It allowed people to see that they were able to reintroduce elements of design, such as ornamentation, back into their design ethos. Luxury was meant to give people a chance to reinterpret their ethos in a more individual way than minimalism allowed. It led to a real loss of inhibition. But now, instead of moving beyond that transition point to a new design idea, everyone just throws their designs under the luxury blanket without even understanding what that term means. Luxury is not just a price point; it’s not just a brand. Luxury is something that is not necessarily accessible, nor should it be. But people are doing the tackiest apartments with air conditioners stuck on the wall, straight-lined furniture, a few accessories—and calling it luxury. The worst part about it is that two years ago, the same design would have been called minimal. It’s just a buzzword people use to recycle the same poorly designed products, but packaged in a new term in an attempt to trick people into buying it. And people do because we’ve failed to create a strong design dialogue that helps explain terminology. Before buying something labelled luxury or before labelling something luxury consider a few key points: Does it fit your idea of beauty? Is the quality truly impeccable? Will it withstand the test of time? Is it unique and worth waiting for? Write to Raseel at

INSIDER ALERT | NICORA BLINDS u Silver Hudson bench: Apartment 9, N­9, Greater Kailash­I, New Delhi, Rs45,000; cushion covers start at Rs1,080.

Blinding beauty This store will make you blinds out of bamboo, ‘khus’ or even an old sari

t Ottoman upholstered in silk:

Preeti Knowles at Good Earth, Select CityWalk mall, Saket, New Delhi; and Raghuvanshi Mills, Lower Parel, Mumbai, Rs22,500.

u Bench extendable: Fabindia, Khan Market, New Delhi, Rs9,000.

t Naga bench:

Country Collection, 2 Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi, Rs30,000.

For people who prefer the neater appearance of blinds to curtains, one challenge has always been finding blinds that blend with the rest of the apartment. With curtains, you can simply turn to your upholstery to get a match, but blinds have always presented a more challenging dilemma. Thankfully, we discovered that it needn’t be quite so stressful, because there’s now a little store just off Lavelle Road in Bangalore that will custom­make blinds for you in any colour, fabric or size. Nicora used to be known as Blind Love, but changed the name after its expansion into customized blinds. You can get blinds made to suit your taste by picking the fabric from options in the store, or you can think up a whole new design. Nicora will also make blinds for you if you walk in with an old sari and give them your specifications. What we found interesting is that apart from silk and cotton, the store also has a fairly good range of eco­friendly fabrics such as banana fibre, bamboo and even good old ‘khus’ blinds. Also, under the same roof are complementary interior coordinates such as cushion covers and bedspreads. The cost of making blinds at Nicora ranges between Rs60 and Rs160 per sq. ft. 7/2, Walton Road (off Lavelle Road), Bangalore Pavitra Jayaraman









Under cover


Warm up to winter in these comforters, quilts, ‘razais’ and duvets



1. Mang zari quilt: At all Fabindia outlets, Rs2,170 (queen-size).

2. Milan off­white duvet: At Address Home, Khan Market and Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi; and Raghuvanshi Mills Compound, Senapati Bapat Marg, Mumbai, Rs12,000 (king-size).

3. HMS Jr quilt: At Good Earth, Khan Market, and Select Citywalk mall, Saket, New Delhi; and Raghuvanshi Mills Compound, Senapati Bapat Marg, Mumbai, Rs2,250 (single).


4. Iznik red duvet: Marco Polo Collection by Maishaa at Maishaa, Square One mall, New Delhi, Rs19,195 (king-size).

5. Quilt with zig­zag embroidery: At Maspar stores in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Pune, Rs3,695 (queen-size).

6. Summer natural duvet: At Whites of London, Mega Mall,

DLF Golf Course Road, DLF Phase 1, Gurgaon; City Square Mall, Rajouri Garden, New Delhi, Rs10,000 (king-size).

7. Mosaic art quilt: At Maspar stores in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Pune, Rs7,495 (queen-size).

8. Capri duvet: At Whites of London, Mega Mall, DLF Golf Course Road, DLF Phase 1, Gurgaon; City Square Mall, Rajouri Garden, New Delhi, Rs9,580 (king-size).

9. Razai: At Anokhi, 9, Khan Market, New Delhi; and Govind Dham, 210, Waterfield Road, Bandra West, Mumbai, Rs1,550 (single).

10. Square­pattern duvet: At Address Home, Khan Market and Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi; and Raghuvanshi Mills Compound, Senapati Bapat Marg, Mumbai, Rs11,000 (king-size).

11. Snooze comforter: At Bombay Dyeing stores countrywide, Rs1,549 (queen-size).


z } { |







COVER L13 Independence Day Special








I Inside out: (clockwise from top) Mishra is deeply influenced by Mahatma Gandhi’s idea of a self­sufficient village economy; it took Mishra and his team more than 60 work hours to create the outfit; one side of the reversible dress showcases the handloom Kerala cloth woven by Hindus in south India, while the other shows rich Banarasi silk woven by Muslims in the north. LOCATION: BUNGALOW 8, MUMBAI; MAKE­UP: RITIKA KARNA; MODEL: DIVYA BHATT; BLACK AND GOLD FOOTWEAR: SANCHITA AT BUNGALOW 8. (LEFT)

t would be accurate to say that Rahul Mishra has made full use of his education. But not in the way you might imagine. The 29-year-old’s background in science (he has a bachelor’s degree in physics from Kanpur University) helps when he’s working on new techniques such as reversible and seamless ensembles. To create tags for the garments and visiting cards for his new company, The Apple Tree, he applies what he learnt about graphic design while doing his masters at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, and the Istituto Marangoni, Milan, Italy. But what influences the young designer the most aren’t the institutions he’s studied at. His prime sources of inspiration are the weavers of traditional Indian fabrics and the art they’ve been practising for centuries. Mishra’s design philosophy revolves around traditional weaves and fabrics such as Banarasi silk, chikankari and Kerala’s cotton handloom cloth (traditionally used to make the mundu neriyathum). At Indian fashion weeks in the past, he’s showcased these crafts, but in never-seen-before ways. At his first Lakme Fashion Week show in 2006, he used the Kerala handloom fabric to make dresses and trousers that could be worn inside out—the garments had different coloured borders and styles on both sides. Earlier this year, inspired by animal hides, he used chikankari and mashru (a fabric from Patan in Gujarat) to make dresses without seams, meant to fit the body like skin. Mishra—who showed at Rosemount Australia Fashion Week for Spring Summer ’08—gave our idea a lot of thought. He got cracking immediately on his first, selfappointed task—a flow chart of his idea of freedom. The white sheet had criss-crossing lines connecting our fundamental rights, strengths, problems and the economic, cultural and social scenario in the country. “In the backdrop of communal and urban-rural divides and debates over regional identities, the two faces of India seemed enormously important to me and I was tempted to build the bridge between them,” Mishra says, seated in his central Mumbai workshop, in the erstwhile mill area of Lower Parel, sketching his reversible dress. He’s aware of the irony of his present location—the mills which led to the decline of

the handloom fabrics he’s trying to revive interest in. Mishra wanted to create an outfit—a cross between a dress and a sherwani—that bridged religious and geographical boundaries. “There are differing opinions on whether the villages have been left behind in our pursuit of an urban India. But the independent India of my vision is one where there is no urban-rural divide. There are no boundaries of religion, region and culture that separate. This outfit is a physical embodiment of my vision of independence in India,” says Mishra. It was natural that nothing but handwoven—essentially Indian— cloth would do. He chose his favoured off-white handloom fabric with coloured or zari borders from Kerala and a jewelled Banarasi silk with a bold floral motif. “A Muslim weaver in a village on the plains of the Ganges in north India has created this Banarasi silk, while the Kerala fabric has been woven by Hindus in south India. I wanted to make something that brings together the best from the past, adapt it to the present and create a dream for the future,” says Mishra. The designer wanted to keep seams in the fabric to a minimum, “to create an undivided look that



flows effortlessly on the body”. Mishra and his “master” spent the first four days creating new prototypes on pattern-making paper as there were no existing patterns for his reversible, seamless dress. After that, it took almost 12 work hours to cut, and 48 hours to stitch the garment. Interestingly, the master who cut the cloth, Shashikant Sawant, is Hindu, while Rustam Ansari, the tailor, is Muslim. Both sides of the ensemble display individual personalities— three layers of diaphanous Kerala fabric have been quilted together for the yoke, with a panel of pleats which fall from the waist. Turn it inside out, and the other side, with rich fabric, has a straight cut. Mishra’s task was made difficult by the fact that both the fabrics were as different as could be—one was pure silk, the other pure cotton. “They have individual characteristics and they fall very differently,” he explains. Still they come together as a seamless whole; different, yet the same. Parizaad Khan Rahul Mishra retails out of Ensemble, in Mumbai and New Delhi.







Fusion fare: (left) The red wine and clove reduction lends a subtle aroma to the dish; (below) Akerkar says he feels the presence of his grandmother, who was a fabulous cook, every time he’s in the kitchen.


hile Rahul Akerkar changes into his chef’s coat, white ceramic bowls containing multicoloured ingredients are laid out for him by his staff at his kitchen in Mumbai’s Indigo—arguably the country’s best stand-alone restaurant serving European-Asian cuisine. Akerkar’s freedom-inspired dish for us—Spice-rubbed Tuna with Clove Reduction, Black Peas and Zucchini—is going to be a part of his new menu that’ll be launched by the end of this month. The ingredients Akerkar uses are those that he has always seen in his grandmother’s kitchen: coriander powder, brown sugar, cloves, chilli powder, cumin seed powder and a few others. He first readies kaala vatana usal (a black peas preparation). “In my kitchen, this is freedom,” he says, laying out large pink slices of tuna, “to be

able to make an Indian-inspired dish and present it in a contemporary, Western way”. As a kid, Akerkar’s favourite recipe was usal prepared by his father. “There’s a strong coastal Maharashtrian influence in my cooking,” he says, coating the tuna loin with a mix of spices. “My friends in New York would stare in disbelief when I would eat potato wafers with tomato ketchup. But that’s how we are,” he laughs. “I have always embraced my Indian quirks and tastes rather than fight them.” Indigo turns 10 next year, and the challenge for Akerkar is to stay fresh and surprise food lovers. In the years since Indigo opened, Indians have been eating out more, travelling more and getting more adventurous with their food. But Akerkar knows that food is mostly about comfort, and it is comforting





INGREDIENTS 600g tuna loin (4 portions of 150g each) 120g black peas 1 medium-size zucchini 1 medium-size eggplant 50g cherry tomatoes 4 tbsp parsley, chopped 4 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped 2 tbsp cumin, roasted and crushed 2 tbsp peppercorns, roasted and crushed 1 tbsp sea salt Zest of 6 green limes 2 tbsp brown sugar 120 ml sunflower oil 120 ml clarified butter 1 tbsp each ginger and garlic pastes 1 medium sized onion, chopped 4 tomatoes 4 tbsp virgin olive oil 1 tsp each of coriander powder, chilli powder and cumin powder 4 cloves garlic 6 fresh basil leaves 6 fresh mint leaves 8 cloves 150ml red wine

when an element in a recipe is something familiar, something that triggers a childhood memory. Just like the usal does in this dish. Most of us in western India have eaten it in our homes with puri or chapatti. Watching him assemble the dish is like watching a work of art take shape. The end result looks mouth-watering: Peas in the centre of the plate are topped with grilled zucchini, aubergine and cherry tomatoes. The mediumrare juicy chunks of tuna with a pink centre and a dusting of spices that give it a green and yellow coating, are placed around the peas. “The trick is not to get hung up on the correct Indian way, but to pick the best elements of both styles,” he says, drizzling a clove and red wine reduction on the plate. Although we enjoy experi-

150ml port wine 20g sugar Salt and pepper to taste Chicken stock as required METHOD Soak the black peas overnight, then boil till tender. Combine the red wine, port wine, sugar and cloves and simmer till the mixture is syrupy in consistency. Strain through a double strainer and keep aside. Roast the cumin seeds and black peppercorns. Crush the brown sugar, cumin seeds and the black peppercorn together. Blanch the tomatoes, peel and puree. For the dry rub, combine chopped parsley, and coriander, crushed cumin and peppercorns, sea salt, green lime zest and the brown sugar. In a heavy bottom pan add the clarified butter. Sauté the onions and ginger and garlic pastes till golden. Add the coriander powder, chilli powder, cumin powder and sauté till the masala is cooked. Add the tomato puree and simmer for 5-7 minutes. Add the black peas and simmer on slow fire for about 3-5 minutes till the peas are well seasoned. Adjust the consistency with chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper. Slice the zucchini and aubergine

ments, the idea of this combination seems a little hard to swallow. “The black peas prepared in this style lend themselves well to the rich and oily fish. This combination wouldn’t work with a white meat fish,” he explains, while I try the dish. The tuna is seeped in lemon juice, with the Indian spices enhancing its flavour without overpowering it. All the ingredients are local, 49-year-old Akerkar adds. The spices are toned down, and in true European fashion, each ingredient is allowed its moment in the spotlight. Because, as Akerkar says, “you don’t want to be clichéd in your Indianness”. Rachana Nakra Rahul Akerkar’s Indigo Cafe opens in Lokhandwala, Mumbai, tomorrow.

half-inch thick. Soak the sliced aubergine in salted water for at least 15 minutes to remove the bitterness. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Marinate the zucchini and aubergine with mint, basil, chopped garlic, oil, salt and pepper. Grill the vegetables and keep aside. Toss the vegetables and cherry tomatoes with virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Just before serving, marinate the tuna with the rub and sear to desired texture, preferably medium-rare. Rest it for a minute before slicing. PRESENTATION Arrange the black pea usal and the vegetables off-centre on the plate. Rest the sliced tuna over the usal and the veggies. Drizzle the clove reduction around the tuna.

New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Pune

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Vol. 2 No. 49





Ramachandra Guha outlines the path forward for India and its Muslim minority >>Page Page 10 10

THE LITTLE BIG GAME THAT COULD Media Molecule’s LittleBigPlanet sets its phasers to ‘Charm’ and succeeds brilliantly >Page 7

SHIVER MY TIMBERS Ten nuggets of pirate history essential for every landlubber >Page 12

Zubeida Ahmed, a resident of Sonia Gandhi Nagar in Malegaon, Maharashtra






he other day I had a sobering déjà vu moment. I realized that I had just become my father. No, I didn’t have a sex-change operation. Nothing as exciting as that. I just found myself telling my kids, “I don’t know why you kids listen to trash like that.” It was when my 12-year-old gave me the eye-roll that I realized that I sounded just like my father. I don’t know if this happens in your household but in my home there is a clear schism between the generations. >Page 4






s there something that we can do with the anger that all of us feel in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks? Can we find some constructive way of channelling it apart from appearing on TV shows and demanding that so-called Pakistani flags be removed from slums near our favourite five-star hotels? It saddens me that so many morons from Mumbai’s chattering classes went on TV to declare that on the whole terrorism was a bad thing but gosh, when it appeared this close to their doorstep... >Page 5


y the time this column appears in print, the December music season in Chennai will have warmed up to a pleasant bright orange, reaching a white-hot intensity roughly by Christmas. It’s a great time to think of all the joy in the world—and all the added joy that would accrue if these pet peeves would somehow vanish overnight: The sing­along seniors: It often happens that, as a musician starts the first word of a song, a happy murmur of recognition spreads through the audience... >Page 17

THE MUST­HAVES IN YOUR COLLECTION From a Dutch banker in New York grappling with self, sport and life, to Barack Obama’s compelling story in his own words—and so much more in between >Page 14


For today’s business news > Question of Answers— the quiz with a difference > Markets Watch






Plush plum A rich and scrumptious colour—full­bodied, warm and romantic—that is also surprisingly versatile

u Glass

and steel lamp: At Paradox One, The Crescent at the Qutub, New Delhi and Raghuvanshi Mills Compound, Lower Parel, Mumbai, Rs62,000.

t Chair:

At Zaza, Zamrudpur Community Centre (near N­Block Market, Greater Kailash­I), New Delhi, Rs8,000.

B Y K ELLY R YAN K EGANS Better Homes and Gardens

···························· lum colours—from deep eggplant to rosy rouge—look chic in combination with greys, khakis and creams. And they match equally well with vibrant pinks, reds, and oranges. But they are often unfairly dismissed as being difficult to use in decorating, says Elaine Griffin, a US-based interior designer. “It’s a surprisingly versatile colour,” she says. “Plum is made by combining mostly red and blue, so any colours that go with those two are beautiful with plum.”


Primary colour Griffin uses plums in place of dark beige and brown to set the basic tone for a room.

Light effects Rooms that are bathed in natural light balance out saturated plum walls, Griffin says. But in rooms with little light, it’s best to use this hue as an accent.

Best dressed Griffin takes colour cues from this fall’s fashion runways, where new plum combinations inspired her. “Plum is super-fresh with greens, from lime to oregano. I also love it with turquoise, gold and orange —yum!” PHOTOGRAPHS BY TANUJ AHUJA AND ANSHUMAN SEN, STYLING BY RUCHIKA GOSWAMY AND SIMRAT KOHLI, FOR BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS

‘Velvet Swirl’ cushion: At Silk Road and Beyond, N­Block Market, Greater Kailash­I, New Delhi, Rs700.

Fabric shades: At Fabindia, N­Block Market, Greater Kailash­I, New Delhi, Rs240 and Rs390.




Glazed ceramic bowl:

At Good Earth, Select Citywalk mall, Saket, New Delhi; and Raghuvanshi Mills Compound, Lower Parel, Mumbai, Rs3,200.


All content on this page powered by

1. Warm Raspberry

3. Passion Fruit

Spread this sultry shade next to the white tiles in the kitchen or above the wainscotting in the dining room. Bright Cherry, 50RR 15/400, ICI Dulux.

Be tastefully bold with a vibrant berry on the wall behind open shelves or inside a bookcase. 2­3605D, Berger.

2. Mulled Wine

Dark burgundy works on walls as a backdrop for brighter colours such as aqua and coral. x127, Raisin Delight, Asian Paints.

Use this velvety purple­red on walls that are trimmed in creamy taupe. x128, Dark Cherry, Asian Paints.



4. Gooseberry

Write to

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Freeze­frame Frosty blues are a fresh palette cleanser, infusing rooms with cool tranquillity B Y K ELLY R YAN K EGANS Better Homes and Gardens

···························· ale blue is an intrinsically calming colour, says Stephanie Hoppen, author of Choosing Blue: Color You Can Live With (available at She advises pairing blues with other colours so that the result is soothing and refreshing, and “not an unfriendly ice bath”. Frosty blues are elegant with soft creams and shiny accents such as glass. Or take the chill off icy colours by teaming them with warm browns, reds or oranges. “When an allcool blue room needs a little bit of livening up, be bold and try a dash of contrasting shades like vibrant lemon yellow, or a zinging fuchsia,” Hoppen says. Touches of hues such as natural wood tones, sandy beiges and limewash finishes work well to balance the barely-there blue rooms, Hoppen explains, adding that paint-finish can impact the mood of ice blues. “Chalky flat finishes are warm, while shiny blues will give a bit of chill.”


‘Noli’ glass vase: At Moon River, Defence Colony, New Delhi, Rs550. u

Upholstered silver­frame chair: At Bench Craft, Grand Mall, Gurgaon; and Raghuvanshi Mills Compound, Mumbai, Rs85,000.

Coral on wooden stand: At Take Me Home, N­Block Market, Greater Kailash­I, New Delhi, Rs8,438.



BROAD STROKES Throw and cushion: At Silk Road and Beyond, N­Block Market, Greater Kailash­I, New Delhi; throw, Rs2,750; cushion, Rs1,350. q

Plates and bowls: At Tarini India Pvt. Ltd, N­Block Market, Greater Kailash­I, New Delhi, Rs200­465. q

1. Misty sky: This grey­blue is a muted, welcoming wall colour that soothes in bedrooms and living rooms. Alliance, 1203, Asian Paints.


2. Glacier: Paint a side table in a high­gloss finish to add sheen to a room. Echo Lake, 87 GG 60/239, ICI Dulux.


3. Wintergreen: Blue­green colours pair well with grey­greens and painted woods. 4­1402P, Berger. 4. Northern light: On the ceiling, this colour gives off a peaceful glow. Try in a sunny room or a covered porch. City Sky, 7418, Asian Paints.

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5. Pale blue: The colour of fresh air, this weathered shade works on walls to create a “put your feet up and relax” mood. Reading Room, 30 BB 63/084, ICI Dulux.


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On the drawing board Five designers sharpen their pencils and show us how they would dress Freida Pinto for the Academy Awards B Y S EEMA C HOWDHRY


t Raakesh Agarvwal

My design for Pinto would be glamorous but not too revealing. She has a slim, athletic build, so I’ve incorporated some ruching and draping techniques for a bit of volume. I’ve designed a full­length gown; the colour is a mix between midnight and peacock blue. The bodice, constructed out of charmeuse lycra, is draped and woven. Just under the bust, there’s a glittery crystal strap­like panel, for some glamour. The skirt is a tulle layer over sequinned sheeting. The sequins give a shimmer and the tulle subdues it, so it’s not too in­your­face. Near the hips, I’ve incorporated some pegging—a draping technique to give a slight bulk. There’s also a train at the back.

u Gauri and Nainika

The dress has been envisioned in a bright poison green shade. The colour is vibrant and bold and we think Pinto will sparkle in it as she has a lovely dusky complexion. The fabric is duchesse satin, which has a nice sheen. Since Pinto is slim and petite, she would look great in form­flattering clothes, which is why the dress will be given a mermaid­like hour­glass silhouette so that it can accentuate her slender frame. The dress flares out, adding volume, and will be draped with pleated layers. The idea is to give her a look which is strong and dramatic, yet elegant.

t Raghavendra Rathore

I would think jewel tones such as purple, burgundy and wine are appropriate choices for Pinto as they will complement her skin tone as well as represent old­world India. The emphasis of the dress is on a classic, minimal, contoured silhouette, complementing her petite frame. The appeal of the dress would come through with the use of fabrics such as a rich duchesse satin or a matte­finish taffeta. As far as accessories are concerned. I think she should just wear a pair of chandelier earrings and a bracelet with this dress.

u Abraham and Thakore

Parizaad Khan contributed to this story.

We would choose to dress Pinto in a sari because it is a sexy garment and also represents India. The blouse would be a barely­there halter made with a sheet of metallic black sequins. The sari would definitely be black since the Academy Awards are a formal affair. Since Pinto has a petite frame, we feel a silk­georgette fabric would drape well. The sari would have a hint of the same metal sequins as the blouse so that it shimmers when she moves.

t Shantanu and Nikhil

The colour we would want Pinto to wear is plum. It is a vintage shade and we think it will go very well with her skin tone. In fact, nudes and other vintage colours suit her. We envision a dress made from layers of net which will be clinched under the bust and at the waist. This area will have silver and Swarvoski crystal work and the embroidery pattern will be modern. We believe the dress is a representation of a blend of modern and vintage India. Pinto has a slim but strong jaw line, and by keeping the shoulders bare, we believe her look will be enhanced even more.


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