December 2010 • Vol - I • Issue - 3
THE NE TRAIL
Read all about ‘bird suicide’ of the famed Jatinga village
42 UP CLOSE
Marry in style and splendour with ET’s rundown on everything you need to make your wedding the talk of the town! ON THE COVER Kanjivaram mekhela detailed with aari work, velvet border chador with mosaic patch work and a netted pallu of fine ribbon work and colourful stone embellishments. Cover model : Dola Paul Photo : Rahul Biswas Make up : Shekhar Ghosh Mekhela chador by Alakananda Das
16 OPEN FORUM Readers respond to our call on the NEHU debate
22 NE PRIDE Say goodbye to pregnancy blues with ace maternity-wear designer Mridula Bose Sahay
26 PALATE Drool over these succulent Roast recipes from Mamoni Bordoloi
50 TOUCHING LIVES As a World Aids day special feature, Jahnabi Goswami tells us about her life and her mission.
52 THE BUZZ After having legalised live-in relationships, has the Supreme Court made an ironic move in its new ruling? ET asks experts their opinion
Marvel at the autumn colours of Syracuse, USA, as clicked by Kongkona Sharma
CHRISTMAS SPECIAL 54 Golden Reejsinghani brings us five X-citing ways to bring festive cheer this Xmas!
60 Revel in the Christmas spirit of the tea gardens as celebrated in ‘ye olde’ tea clubs!
59 VIEWPOINT “When will humans learn from history and o ur rich literatures?” asks Rini Barman
62 HOLIDAY Welcome to Nubra Valley! Sourabh Mahanta on his amazing tour to the world’s highest ‘snowy’ desert!
66 TELL TALES Part II of The Strangler, Ruskin Bond’s exclusive story
70 AT LEISURE Ribhu Borphukon looks back on a couple of daring and dramatic ways of making a point – in the nude!
Everything you need to know about marriages, the Axomiya way
REGULARS 10 EVENT DIARY 14 ‘NE’WS SNIPPETS 28 THE ECLECTIC LADY 65 SHRINK YOUR HEAD 72 THE ECLECTIC MAN 74 TAROT SCOPE 76 MUST READ 77 DINE OUT 78 MUST WATCH 80 MODEL OF THE MONTH 82 UNTIL JANUARY
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GRATITUDE – THE BEST ATTITUDE
s I was clearing out my email inbox the other day, I came across a link to a video of a man who had no arms or legs, just a head and a torso. When I clicked on it, there followed a 4-minute footage of the man, Nick Vujicic, who was born with a rare physical disorder. Quite simply, though Nick is literally half a man, he lives as normally as his fully-limbed counterparts. With my interest ignited, I ‘googled’ other people with severe physical disabilities. Perhaps the most famous is Stephen Hawkins, considered by many to be the greatest scientist of the twentieth century, who is almost completely paralysed by a motor neurone disease. Looking back into history there are still more: Helen Keller, Beethoven, Roosevelt - to name but a few – all people who had severe physical disabilities and yet, made a mark in history for something unrelated to it. So that set me thinking. I realised that human beings are actually quite a selfish lot. Though most of us are physically perfect - that is, we have all our limbs in place - we still desire for so much more. And the irony is that we already have life’s most precious gifts within us. Yes, I know it sounds silly and obvious, but having seen the likes of Nick and others, I feel that we should all take a moment to be grateful for simply being whole and mobile, and while we’re at it, for also having a mind to think, ears to hear, nose to smell, eyes to see and a mouth to talk. They say that life starts with birth, propagated through marriage and ends with death; three intrinsically-linked events which are part of the great circle of life. Indeed, within the pages of this issue itself, you will find all three: maternity-wear designer Mridula Sahay, who adorns expectant mothers, our cover feature on brides and marriage, where nuptial harmony unites two people, and finally, in a poignant reminder of the fine line between life and death, we also have the first official HIV+ victim of the Northeast, Jahnabi Goswami, a lady who is living on borrowed time and truly knows how valuable life is. So, whilst you turn the pages, spare a thought for simply being alive before you yearn, demand or pray for what you want. Whether you consider yourself to be perfect or imperfect, the truth is that we all share a common thread: we are all breathing, eating, sleeping, living individuals. So, just before we make our resolutions for the New Year, I suggest we toast life first by raising our glasses and saying a simple ‘thank you’ for merely being alive and a part of the wonderful game of life. Cheers everyone!
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nother fabulous issue! You bring all the colours and scents of Assam to my laptop! I have dipped in and out of the October issue and will go back to it again with the proverbial cuppa or, even better, a perfectly chilled, particularly superb Sauvignon! I have just got the November issue and I am rubbing my hands in glee at the prospect of curling up in my favourite armchair by the fire - yep, it’s that time of the year again here, with glorious autumn colours when the sun is out, ever shortening days and long evenings - the last to be whiled away browsing the pages of the Eclectic Times. I loved Loya Agarwala’s short story. Well done, again! Neeta Saikia, UK The ET team is happy the magazine could be your companion in your autumn evenings.
hat I liked most in the November issue of ET was the conversation with Monikangana Dutta, especially her sentence: “Don’t let us down and don’t forget where you come from”. Special thanks to ET for exposing those hidden gems. Rupak Narzary, Mushalpur, via email Thanks Rupak. Keep reading ET so that we furnish more such gems.
picked up a copy from a vendor in Tezpur. I thoroughly enjoyed the fashion segment – Maiden Voyage. Being my field of interest, I was amazed to see the collection. Great effort! I would want to meet up these bright and creative girls. I also enjoyed Illuminating Expressions because candles are a passion with me. Now that I know Guwahati has such fabulous candles, I must get some of them. Ajmal’s factory in Dubai has been doing great work. It is always inspiring to read about self-made people. Keep up the good work. Mridula Anand, Nagaon, via email Hey Mridula, it’s great that you share
common interests with us. Do keep reading for more on your favourite interest.
LETTER OF THE MONTH
ven though many of my friends did not know about the magazine, I have been an ardent follower right from the beginning. After reading about the models that grace your covers, and after knowing their lifestyles, my friends have become huge fans too. They now follow it religiously. The article ‘Mentally Bruised’ in the November issue has greatly impressed me. I believe many young girls can take inspiration from this article because they feel guilty unnecessarily. Honest portrayal of such incidences furthers the relationship between the readers and the magazine. Thanks to the ET team for touching every part of the society –good and bad. I think this will increase its popularity. Keep it up. Mrinalini Deka, Uzan Bazar, Guwahati Mrinalini, we feel extremely happy that the story touched you so deeply. We will be blessed if young and vulnerable girls could take inspiration from our story.
happen to be in Guwahati for a short visit and in due course i visited a cafe to jam up with my old friends. While I was waiting there, I was handed over a copy of your magazine. Believe me, I was glued to it till my friends came. Thereafter, when i returned, I could not stop myself from getting my hands off it. I loved everything about its truly Northeastern flavour. The article on visiting Shillong was simple yet so true and refreshing. Also I loved the solutions given out by Avilasha Barooah. The article on Chandrani Sarmah was really an eye-opener for people complaining about unemployment and still not taking an initiative. Thanks for letting people know a bit more about Patricia Mukhim, Dilip Kakoti and the almost extinct dance form, Devadasi, and Monikangkana Dutta. My heartfelt thanks to the whole hardworking team of ET. Keep the great work going. It just took one issue of your magazine to make me restless for the forthcoming issue. Kasturika Choudhuri Kasturika, we are overwhelmed that you loved our work so much. It is appreciation from readers like you that works wonders for us!
t was very nice reading about the NE trail. It made easy my journey to Shillong.If you would not have written NE trail in November issue then I could not find out the places at Shillong.I roam around Borapani,Police Bazaar and lot of small places. I must really thank the Eclectic team for your efforts and for making the magazine such a success. Keep it up, my wishes are always and will be with you. Rachan Daimary, Goalpara Rachan, it is for readers like you that we put in our best efforts. Keep sending us your comments.
Mrinalini Deka’s letter is adjudged the Letter of the Month and she will receive a Free 1-year subscription of eclectic times
In a novel attempt to remember the victims of the Guwahati massacre of October 30, 2008, Pride East Entertainment Private Limited and its channels News Live and Rang organised The Great Guwahati Run on October 31, this year. The run, which saw 20,000 people from all
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walks of life, was dedicated to the innocent victims and sent across a strong message of peace and harmony. People from all over the region, many representing schools and organisations, showed up in their droves in the wee hours of the morning to be a part of the event. The organisers also did their part by paying 25,000 to the families of a few victims which were selected by a panel. Amongst many local celebrities, Bollywood heartthrob Dino Morea, actor Zarine Khan, composer Ismail Darbar, singers Monali, Zini and Vikash of the Cine Superstars fame lent their support by being a part of the run. Photo: UB Photos
To prove their love for the planet and to restore greenery, BIG FM organised an eco-friendly Durga Puja by maintaining a perfect balance between tradition and modernity. The main sponsors of the event were Kirloskar Green, Powerline Group of Industries, Topcem Cement (Associates sponsor), JB’s (Food Partner), Bichurita Barnali (Magazine partner), The Eclectic (Magazine partner) and News Live (Television partner). With this initiative in mind, BIG FM decided to go for a puja wherein the idols were manufactured from paper pulp, the paper for which had been donated by listeners of BIG FM. And unlike the fixed puja pandals, the idol had a moveable pandal so it could be taken to the people who were unable to attend puja. A well-decorated chariot on four wheels carried the idol to selected destinations such as the first old age home of the state - Aamar Ghar, B. Baruah Cancer and Research Institute and the SOS Children Village at Azara.
Bringing to you not just quiz but entertainment amalgamated with fun, knowledge and social responsibility, was the Servo Brain Jam 2010 held recently in the city. Based on an underlying theme, the event also felicitated a few remarkable individuals for
their services to society at large. One such individual was Satya Pegu, a member of the Assam Forest Department posted at the Kaziranga National Park. The event saw glittering performances by well-known names from various fields such as legendary quiz master Barry O’Brien and activist, singer, poet and ‘Bob Dylan of India’ – Sumit Bose. Q-Factor, Assam Engineering College’s team, won the R K Khanna Memorial Award and a trip to Singapore, while the second prize went to Geeks Inc. The third position was shared by two teams Jammed and A-team. Photo: UB Photos
Showcasing the works of school children and senior art students, the Tulirekha Art School held an art exhibition at the State Art Gallery at Rabindra Bhawan, Guwahati. The exhibition was inaugurated by noted film personality, Biju Phukan. The art school, initiated in 1992 by artist Tulirekha Deb, exhibited different works including pen and ink, pencil study, pencil shading, oil painting, oil pastels, water colour, mixed media and pot painting. The artwork that was showcased covered a wide range of techniques, thereby creating a platform for art enthusiasts to appreciate and observe the endeavours of the talented children.
an Woman of Subst
In its twelfth year, The Signature Awards 2010 this year was presented on the underlying theme of Sarva Guna Sampana, in recognition of the woman of substance, over and above the awards for the glittering beauty pageant. The panelists, amongst others, included film personality Malaya Goswami, noted writer Anuradha Sarma Pujari and media personality Maini Mahanta. The awards for literature, culture, social service and entrepreneurship were awarded in a function graced by Lata Khanchandani. This year’s awards for literary achievements went to Gitika Bhattacharya while for culture, Sudakshina Sharma was felicitated. The award for entrepreneurship was conferred upon Asha Bora and Dr Lakhimi Goswami was recognized for her achievements in social services. This year, another award – the Peace Award – was given to Manipur’s Irom Sharmila Chanu in recognition of her enormous struggle. The beauty pageant was won by Sukanya Boro while Anita S and Dipan K bagged the second and third prizes, respectively. Photo: UB Photos
g n i t a i c e r ce App Excellen
n recognition of the outstanding achievements in the fields of art and culture, science and technology and journalism, the Kamal Kumari awards for the year 2009 were presented to noted individuals in their areas of excellence at the ITA Centre, Machkhowa on November 10. While the Kamal Kumari National Award for Excellence in Art and Culture, Science and Technology were conferred on versatile singer Begum Parween Sultana Khan and leading aerospace scientist Professor Roddam Narasimha, respectively, veteran journalist Radhika Mohan Bhagawati was conferred the Siva Prasad Barooah National Award. The award carried a cash award of 2 lakh each, besides a citation and a trophy. The Kamal Kumari Foundation was set up in memory of Kamal Kumari Barooah, the remarkable matriarch of the Khongiya Barooah family of Thengal, in 1990. Further, in 1999, the foundation instituted the Siva Prasad Barooah National Award for journalism in memory of the renowned planter and publisher. Photo: UB Photos
Bringing pride to the state, research fellow Indrani Medhi and whistle-blower Akhil Gogoi brought home the CNN-IBN’s ‘Young Indian Leaders’ Awards. Recognising young dynamic trailblazers, who set new paths by venturing into unexplored territories and finally emerging as pathbreaking success stories of our nation, the awards were conferred by Nandan Nilekani, Chief Guest, in a function held in Delhi in November. The ‘Young Indian Leaders’, a Network18 initiative presented by IRB Infrastructure Developers Ltd. felicitated eight such revolutionary Indian leaders who symbolise optimism of the country, which has the largest youth population in the world. The panelists included actor Gul Panag, MP and steel icon Naveen Jindal, Olympic champion Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal.
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One of India’s top ramp models and a lady who graced the cover of ET November issue, Monikangana Dutta, is said to have been selected as a Victoria’s Secret Angel. Dutta, who has created waves with her oriental charm by appearing in several Fashion Weeks in India and abroad, will join Alessandra Ambrosio and Miranda Kerr as one of six Victoria’s Secret Angels making her the first Indian to become an ‘Angel’ of the high-profile lingerie brand. Dutta has earlier appeared in famous fashion magazines like Elle and Vogue. She is also making her debut in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Guzaarish.
Ace footballer Baichung Bhutia will be launching a new football academy in Delhi, The Baichung Bhutia Football Academy, to help budding footballers learn the finer nuances of striking the ball. The academy, in association with the famed Carlos Queiroz Academy based in Portugal, will bring in a host of new opportunities for young Indians. Baichung also has plans to launch similar schools in places like Mumbai, Kolkata and Siliguri. The Indian captain said the tie-up with Carlos Queiroz Football Academy will give necessary state-ofthe-art training for football-loving kids in the country. Queiroz, who was Portugal’s coach in World Cup and was known for managing Real Madrid team, could not be present at the launch but his representative read out a statement that said, “the tie-up would usher a new era for Indian football.”
Making the nation proud were two young film-makers Rita Banerji and Shilpi Sharma of Delhi whose 27minute-long documentary The Wild Meat Trail, based on the ethnic hunting communities of Arunachal Pradesh, won the Wildscreen Awards. The awards, popularly known as The Panda Awards or the Green Oscars, received 446 entries this year from which eminent judges shortlisted 67 finalists. The Wild Meat Trail, described by the judges as a “balanced and sensitive depiction of a complex issue”, was based on how a commercially demanding world has now driven the hunters to earn a living by hunting, and thereby further endangering, the scarcest species of the state.
Noted theatre personality Adil Hussain, who plays a major role in the movie Gangor - an Indo-Italian co-production produced both in English and Bengali, received a standing ovation from the crowd at the red carpet in the 5th Rome International Film Festival in Rome recently. It was the only movie from India to be screened at the 5th Rome International Film Festival in the competitive section. The movie also features Samrat Chakrabarti, Priyanka Bose, Seema Rehmani and Tillotama Shome. Hussain, who hails from Goalpara district in Assam, is an alumni of the prestigious National School of Drama (NSD) in New Delhi. Adil has played several critical roles in Bollywood films like Ishqiya and For Real besides acting in theatres across the globe.
December 2010 │eclectic times │ 15
ng, S. Tama Nanda k Gangto
The North Eastern Hill University (NEHU) being a central varsity should be open to appointing vice chancellors from across the country. However, the situation arising after the appointment of A N Rai, former vice chancellor of the Mizoram University, appears to be a bit dicey. The question here is not about appointing a tribal or a non-tribal, but whether the person in charge is able to dispense in the interest of the region and the university. While students’ unions and other bodies claim they are opposed to Rai’s appointment (as he had supposedly ignored the interests of the local people while appointing lecturers in Mizoram) some simply want the appointment to be terminated as he is a non-tribal. In my opinion, the issue needs to be thoroughly sorted out. If the VC has tainted credentials, then the matter needs to be probed, but if it is simply based on his belonging or not belonging to a particular region, then the students’ unions must do some introspection. Simply appointing an individual belonging to a particular community is not going to make the institution grow; it is eventually an efficient individual who can work for the betterment of the university. And being an institution of higher education, NEHU authorities must adopt a more positive attitude and help develop a better intellectual environment rather than launching mindless agitations. kar, a Lah Anup hati Guwa
At the outset, I feel the education sector in the Northeast needs some serious changes - or else, what is the reason for the exodus of students year after year to pursue higher education? Appointing a VC from outside the state, for a Central university like NEHU, is a serious nonissue. What has the ethnicity of a person got to do with his or her capabilities? We need to look thoroughly at the whole matter before we make a noise about it. If the individual in concern has a questionable past, or has been embroiled in problems earlier, there should be a proper enquiry instituted. But as the case has come to light in the media lately, this does not seem to be the problem. We can be proud of our ethnicity, but to fling it at every next issue goes against our culture.
I feel that for long, our region has ended up being a dumping ground. After the whole world knew about his wrong-doings in the Mizoram University, the president appointed him as the VC of NEHU, much against the wishes of the people here. If you are looking at development in the state, and you tend to ignore the very wishes of the people here, you are not looking at development per se; you are forcing it on us. And that will never be acceptable. It is high time the Northeast was dealt with more sensitivity and not with a step-motherly attitude.
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m Lan Pondic thasha, herr y
ap, v Kashy Abhina , Guwahati ara Kahilip It is ridiculous that any student body should specify the ethnicity of a VC as a criterion of appointment. By insisting that a person from the local indigenous community should be considered for the post is sending out signals that the people of the Northeast consider background to be as important as academic acumen. I would like to ask them: Isn’t being Indian enough? I wonder how many local candidates will be willing to swallow his dignity and take up a position in which his/her ethnic background is also one of the criteria for selection? No central university should have such a bias and the demand for such is setting the wrong precedent to all other educational institutions in India.
It’s high time that the central government opens its eyes and realises how we have worthy contenders for the post of VC of NEHU within our very state. I am certain that a VC who has the right educational credentials as well as an intrinsic sensitivity towards the local culture can take , h Lyngdo Rober t NEHU up to Shillong another level.
NEXT MONTH’S TOPIC: Do you believe that Obama’s visit to India had a defining impact on both countries or was it an opportunity for America to deepen its stake in Asian power politics? Send in your emails to: firstname.lastname@example.org. The best responses will be published in the next issue.
the NE trail
The quaint village of Jatinga, near Haflong, is renowned for the unique phenomenon of bird suicide. Ritu Raj Konwar captures its beauty with his roving lens.
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he will to witness that rare and mysterious bird phenomenon of ‘bird suicide’ in the famed Jatinga village brought a host of bird lovers, enthusiasts and nature lovers to this tiny hamlet, which was the venue of the Jatinga International Festival, 2010. Located at the foothills of the Borail range, Jatinga is nine kms away from Haflong, the only hill station in the state of Assam and the headquarters of the Dima Hasao district. During the months from September to November, thousands of birds - both migratory and local – including Kingfisher, Tiger Bittern, the Indian Pitta, Green-breasted Pitta, Green Pigeon, Black Drongo, Racket-tailed Drongo, Whistling Ducks, Spotted Doves, Emerald Doves, Grey Heron and Little Egret – are attracted to the artificial lights and meet their death by making a sudden dash to the ground. Primarily organised to bring a message of peace and solidarity, the festival was inaugurated on October 27 by Assam Governor J B Patnaik, who extolled the potentiality of Jatinga to be a great tourist destination. December 2010 │eclectic times │ 19
Locals who witness this unexplained phenomena tell us that at sunset, hundreds of birds fly down at great speed towards a mere 1.5 km strip of the village, crashing themselves to death against buildings and trees. Ornithologists have been baffled too. Late Salim Ali, India’s best-known ornithologist, had once said, “The most puzzling thing to me about this phenomenon is that so many species of diurnal resident birds (birds that are active during the day) should be on the move when, by definition, they should be fast asleep. The problem deserves a deeper scientific study from various angles.”
z z z z z
Jaintia girls performing plate dance
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A Dimasa musician playing a Muri (flute)
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t has often been said that pregnancy is a beautiful state of womanhood, and so, any woman would want to feel and look good during such a special time of her life. However, until a few years ago, maternity clothing options here in India were restricted to only foreign brands, and pregnant women depended on their friends and relatives to send dresses from abroad. With such unavailability, it was no wonder that pregnancy became synonymous with unfashionable and oversized clothing! Well, not anymore! Today, the Indian woman does not want to
for nine years and from there I went to Loreto Convent, Lucknow. So, the only time I actually spent in Assam was during my holidays. But of course, I have been coming and going so frequently that even now, I am very much associated with Assam.”
Starting her career at the newsdesk of The Northeast Times, in Guwahati, Mridula moved to Delhi to work with a magazine for some time and then took up a corporate job for a few years. But it was only after getting married and having her first child, that she realised the
week. People really appreciated the idea,” she adds. That was around 1999-2000 when the maternity wear market in India was at a very nascent stage. “In fact, there was no market at all!” Mridula confirms. However, there were a couple of shops in Delhi which saw the potential of the business and displayed their garments in their stores. Mridula felt that shop assistants who were specifically trained in selling maternity wear was essential in promoting their line. “It needed a lot of convincing to get somebody who came into
Dress up in style during pregnancy with Mridula Bose Sahay, the trendy maternity wear designer from the Northeast. trade her sense of style for dowdy clothing during pregnancy. And that’s exactly where Mridula Sahay saw a golden chance! Her smart business acumen came to light when she became pregnant herself and saw the largely untapped market in maternity wear. So, she started to design clothes especially for mums-to-be, so that they can remain stylish and smart right throughout those nine months!
Although Mridula hails from Assam, her early schooling days were spent in hostels. As she says, “I was in Loreto Convent, Shillong 22
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significance of maternity clothing and luckily, chanced upon a friend who also showed interest in getting together a maternity collection. So, once she returned from her maternity break, they got together and came up with their maternitywear brand Momease. “For us it was quite easy, because we had gone through it ourselves and discovered the need for maternity garments. Of course, there were salwar kameezes but they tended to be very uncomfortable and we didn’t know anybody who was specifically into maternity wear. So we got together a range of garments, spread the word and put up an exhibition for a
the store wearing a salwar kameez to wear a pair of trousers. Ultimately, the mindset of the customer had to be changed,” she explains. Though they did their initial productions from other factories, soon it became unmanageable and the ladies decided to set up their own little factory.
Slowly they moved into a bigger and better space - the Maximum Store - which is a clothing hub catering to the needs of women in their multiple roles - of mothers, mothers-to-be, homemakers, caregivers, career professionals,
creative and social individuals. They soon realised that maternity wear, being a very niche market, was difficult to sustain. Therefore, they branched into other brands as well, but still sold their signature Momease brand at the Maximum store. “We kept a range of clothes available including maternity wear. If we kept only maternity wear, people would just come in, buy and forget us, till they have the next baby!” she laughs. With merchandise ranging from lifestyle, handicrafts, artifacts, unique gifts and accessories, nursery décor to products for fathers and fathersto-be, the Maximum Store definitely has ‘a lot in store’ than just elegant maternity clothing. Located in Shahpur Jat, one of the most interesting commercial clusters of South Delhi, the store has become pretty famous now.
With the changing lifestyles of modern day, there are more and more working women today than ever before and everybody still wants to continue dressing smartly at work, even if they are pregnant. “If they have been wearing jeans and shirts or skirts and tops, they don’t want to suddenly start wearing salwar kameez when they’re pregnant and so we provide them with trendy and comfortable western wear, starting from skirts to jumpsuits,” says Mridula. When it comes to maternity clothes, choosing the right fabric is very important. Mridula reiterates, “You get a lot of stretchy nylon fabrics but we never use them because the material is not suitable for the Indian climate. Rather, we choose fabrics that ‘breathe’. Another thing, whenever we go fabric shopping, we buy material that we would like to wear ourselves and there’s always a good balance and mix, as my partner is flamboyant in the way she dresses and I am much more sedate,” she adds.
FUTURE PLANS “Since we have been doing a lot of production work for Momease, we’ll stick to this right now but, at a later stage, we do have plans to have franchises in other cities as people are already approaching us.”
Mridula doesn’t want to be termed a ‘designer’; rather she prefers to be called an ‘entrepreneur’. She justifies this by saying, “We adapt to styles that we think would work for maternity wear. I feel I just have the know-how for the maternity market and how maternity garments are made.” However, she strongly feels that professional training in fashion designing is definitely important if one opts to go for something like this. “Luckily, I have tailors who understand what I say and help me out with the designs. But you do need technicalities to understand some December 2010 │eclectic times │ 23
of the things that could go wrong with a garment,” she clarifies.
When Fabindia came up with their first maternity collection, Mridula and her partner were sought to develop some styles for the big brand. “We did a lot of their production for at least the initial three years. After that, they’ve been taking it forward and moreover, we have our own business to look after,” says Mridula.
EXPERT MOMMY TIP She sums up, “It’s a beautiful thing to be a mother but sometimes it does get difficult, so don’t lose your mind. Just take it as it comes and keep working till the last date. It’s always better to not sit at home; it just makes pregnancy even longer to bear with.” It was their unique concept to set up a forum for young mothers and mothers-to-be to meet, converse, discuss and make the best use of their combined wisdom and that of invited experts. And so they did and out popped Club Mum! It is, in effect, a support group for mums of any age group, who can talk 24
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about different problems that they may face being a mother. “We take up issues such as breastfeeding, children using the Internet and how safe is it, child sexual abuse and how parents can take measures to help prevent it, how much pocket money a child should get and at what age etc. These were the basic principles on which
we started Club Mum,” she states. Though her contribution to maternity wear may be small on a worldwide basis, however, Mridula Sahay is a name to reckon with in the context of maternity wear in India. Words : Himakshi Goswami All photos by Mridula Bose Sahay
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CHICKEN ROAST INGREDIENTS 1 kg chicken 1 small onion 1 pod garlic 1 tsp pepper 1 stick cinnamon 2 cardamoms 1 tsp soya sauce 2 tsp salt 2 tbsp oil
METHOD Poke chicken all over with a fork. Grind together onion, garlic, pepper, cinnamon and cardamoms. Mix this paste with the soya sauce and salt and rub it all over the chicken. Marinate the chicken for at least 1/2 hour. Now pressure-cook the whole chicken. When cooked, heat oil till hot and fry chicken till golden brown turning all the time. Serve garnished with onion rings and coriander leaves
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As barbeques are to summer, roasts are to winter! Roasting brings out the natural sweetness in vegetables and intensifies the flavours of meats and fish, so try these insanely simple and yet mouth-watering roast recipes from cookery enthusiast, Mamoni Bordoloi.
INGREDIENTS 200 gms paneer z 2 tbsp ghee z salt to taste and coriander leaves for garnish z
For the marinade: z z z z
PANEER GHEE ROAST
3 tbsp thick curd juice of half a lime salt and pepper to taste a pinch of turmeric
For the masala: z Kashmiri red chillies (as many/less as you want) z 1 tsp coriander seeds z ½ tsp cumin z ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds z A small piece of tamarind
METHOD Chop paneer into small cubes. Mix together the marinade ingredients and tip in the
e FISH ROAST INGREDIENTS 500 gms thick slices of fish z 1 tbsp lemon juice z salt to taste z lemon wedges, finely sliced onion rings, tomato slices to garnish. z
Grind to a fine paste z z z z z
1 tbsp red chilli powder ½ tsp black pepper powder ½ tsp turmeric powder ½ tsp cumin seeds ½ tsp coriander seeds Photos: Mamoni Bordoloi
1 small onion, chopped 2 tsp garlic, chopped z 2 tsp ginger, chopped z 4 curry leaves z salt to taste z cucumber and tomato slices to garnish. z z
METHOD Apply a little salt and lemon juice to the washed fish slices. Let stand for 5-10 minutes and then wash off and drain well. Marinate the fish
cubed paneer. Mix well, so the paneer cubes are well coated with the marinade. Keep aside for 1-2 hrs. In a kadai, dry-roast the masala ingredients for about 5 minutes. When cool, grind with a little water to a smooth paste consistency. Add 1 tbsp ghee to the kadai. When hot, add the ground masala paste and sauté until the oil comes through. Tip in the paneer and the remaining 1 tbsp ghee. Season with salt. Continue to simmer for about 10 minutes or until the paneer cubes are well coated with the masala. Garnish with freshly chopped coriander and serve hot.
slices in the ground paste and keep preferably refrigerated for about an hour. Heat a griddle on medium flame and smear a little oil on it. Place the slices in batches of 2 or 3 depending upon the size of the griddle. Do not overcrowd the griddle. Pour a little oil around each fish slice with a teaspoon and let it roast on a medium flame till crisp. Flip and repeat the procedure for the other side. December 2010 │eclectic times │ 27
the eclectic lady
If you are a smart and socially savvy young professional with a zest for life, then send your photo and details to: editorial@ eclectic.co.in to be the eclectic lady of the month.
Your name: Barnava Sarma Years on earth: 22 Profession: Education Counsellor City you live in: Delhi Three words that best describe you: Adorable, creative and passionate Person/Place/Animal/Thing you love most: Beautiful Assam Person you idolise: My mom What you hate: Backbiting A mantra you live by: Live life to the fullest and leave no stone unturned 28
times â”‚ December 2010
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Setting the mood for the wedding season, ET takes you on a whirlwind tour of the rituals and planning of the Axomiya Biya
or those of you familiar with Assamese culture, the words Aam Dali, Morol, Jurun, Uroli will immediately be synonymous with the Assamese wedding. Add to that a demure bride in a shimmering pator mekhela chador and the whole picture becomes so perfect. Weddings are a lifetime occasion, not only for the bride and the groom, but for the entire family – in fact, there is a spring in the steps of the young and the old alike. The season for the 30
times │ December 2010
Assamese wedding is finally here. And ET gives you a prelude on the basics of the Axomiya Biya. Weddings are a traditional affair here. Not only do they stretch to 3-4 days, but they are also replete with a host of traditional rituals and customs embedded in the Assamese way of life. The pre-wedding ceremonies include jurun – wherein the bride is presented with the wedding trousseau, jewellery and other paraphernalia; pani tula – where the mother of the bride fetches water, which is later blessed, to be used to ceremoniously bathe the bride in what is known as the nuoni. Different sections of people here celebrate the wedding in different ways. While some follow elaborate rituals with the sacred houm, for others the D-day remains shorter and more concise, yet just as significant. The most important part of the wedding day, apart from the sacred ceremony of uniting the two souls, is the arrival of the groom
when the bride’s mother heartily welcomes her soon-to-be son-inlaw with an aarti. Unique to the Assamese wedding is the fact that, traditionally, both the bride and the groom’s respective mothers are not supposed to witness the actual nuptial ceremony. After the day of the wedding, known as bahi biya, the bride usually stays at her own house and all the relatives take it easy after a hectic day. A day after that, the bride leaves her home for her in-laws house in a somewhat poignant way, which is known as the bidai. Having been formally welcomed to the in-laws house, she will then remain there for a week or so until the aanth mongola, when she visits her parents’ home with the groom for an elaborate meal resplendent with mouth-watering delights. One’s wedding is a once-ina-lifetime experience. It remains special not only for both the bride and groom but to all the relatives
Women during the pani tula ceremony
involved. If you are planning a wedding, let us take a quick look at the things that need to ease the wedding prep process – • If your wedding is not a hurried affair, ensure that the D-day date works out well for everybody in the family. You must ensure that the date is fixed well in advance so that the whole organisation process goes off well. • While opening up your purse strings, be realistic. The budget should be planned to suit your pocket. Remember that you have a life together coming ahead to plan for. • Book professionals integral to the wedding much before the wedding date. It saves everybody the last-minute headache. Whether it is the make-up and grooming professionals, the planners, the photographers or the caterers, ensuring that the professionals are intimated in time makes it easier for
them to plan suiting your needs. • Planning the guest list in advance is advisable. This will ensure that important people are not left out. • The events that will entail the entire wedding ceremony must be chalked out at least a few months before. This will help avoid the last moment rushes. • Decide on the look that you wish to wear for the different ceremonies and shopping groom’s arrival The
accordingly must be done on time. Shopping for the ceremony, no matter how exhaustive, is an exciting exercise. • If you are planning a theme for the wedding, the details must be planned according to the theme – the decors, the cutlery, the catering and other such aspects. • If you want to disappear to some exotic location to spend more time with your new spouse, plan your honeymoon destination well in advance. The intricacies that are involved in the whole process of organising the entire wedding can seem to be daunting. But at the outset, knowing what you want for your special day makes planning easier. There are key areas which need to be paid attention to so that your special day remains etched in your memory forever. Lighter moments after the ceremony
During the nuptial ceremony
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Zangfai An initiative of Lakhimi Baruah Bhuyan, Zangfai offers you authentic and traditional Ahom-era Assamese jewellery like junbiri, bena, lukaparo, dhulbiri, golpota, jethipota, xenpota, dhanxira kharu, gaam kharu and muthi kharu manufactured in the traditional method of gold foil plating. They also take orders for custom made gold traditional Assamese jewellery.
Cost For custom-made gold jewellery, the prices are according to the gold market share prices. Traditional jewellery usually starts at R 1200
Jewellery is the most vital and expensive item in the entire bridal package. Choosing jewellery is a time-consuming process and the most cherished moment for both the bride and the groom. Traditional Assamese jewellery is found both in gold and in other materials found in the region. Gaam kharu, muthi kharu, jethipota, junbiri, dhulbiri, lokaparo, bana, golpota, keru etc. are some of the traditional Assamese jewellery. Lakhimi B Bhuyan, owner of Zangfai, stresses on the use of traditional jewellery, “In a traditional Assamese wedding, it is apt to wear traditional pieces to complement the attire. Many young brides-to-be prefer fusion and ready-made jewellery. But then the traditional pieces have their own beauty. In the last few years, there has been a spurt in demand for authentic Assamese jewellery, both from within and outside the state.” While this usually remains the bride’s domain, the groom also has a variety of options to choose from. Studs, bracelets, rings are preferred by many grooms. Mrigakshi Bora of Mrigakshi offers traditional men’s jewellery .
Opp. Abhishek Motors, Near Yamaha Showroom, Silpukhuri, Guwahati – 781003 +91-361-261165, +91-98640-14387
Tansukhrai Ratanlal Jewellers Apart from the ready-made pieces, Tansuhkrai Ratanlal Jewellers also take specific orders for custom-made traditional jewellery. They also offer jewellery for men. All their pieces of jewellery are hallmarked.
Cost Their range starts at R 50,000. For the custom-made pieces, current gold market share prices are considered.
Contact G.S. Road, Anand Nagar, Behind Old Post Office Bus Stand, Guwahati -781005 +91-361- 2343701, +91-361 – 2343702 J N Road, Fancy Bazaar, Guwahati -781001 +91-361-2637930, +91-361-2634587 Fax-+91-3612592921
Mrigakshi A relatively newer but nevertheless exciting haunt for traditional Assamese jewellery, this initiative from Mrigakshi Borah also serves up traditional jewellery for men apart from the usual traditional Assamese jewellery for women in gold leaf plating. They also take orders for custom-made pieces.
Cost Prices range from R1500 to R15000 for traditional pieces. Custom-made gold pieces are according to gold prices.
Contact Anil Annexete, 1st floor, Near Ulubari Flyover, Dr. B. K. Kakati Road, Ulubari, Guwahati -781007 +91-98640-23446
Jewellery photos : Mrigakshi
Make-up and Grooming
Lakme Salon This premier salon provides a bouquet of special wedding services ranging from grooming, hair care, face packs, paedicures, manicures, special facials and exfoliations etc days before the wedding to hairdo, saree drape and makeup on the D-day.
Cost The engagement packages start at R 3300. Wedding packages will cost you between R 4200 to R 13000
Looking your best for the D-day is very important as all eyes will be on you. The right kind of make-up and looks can work wonders both for the bride and the groom. Synchronising the make-up with the right kind of jewellery and bridal outfit is advisable. If your outfit is heavy it is advisable to go for a light make-up on your D-day. Keep your make-up light during the day. It is not advisable to apply dollops of make-up and get dolled up for the occasion. With unisex parlours coming up all over, there are options for the bride and the groom to go for a proper grooming session days or even months before the wedding. Make the booking for the makeup artists at least 3-4 months before the wedding. Let him/her see your outfit, so that he/she can plan the exact look. You should also go for a trial session before the wedding. A wedding is a special occasion and is just as important for the groom to look his best as it is for the bride. Here are some special care tips for both the groom and the bride to follow in preparation: Include a proper cleansing routine into your daily regimen - wash your face at least two times a day with a face-wash that suits your skin type (dry, oily or normal)
Contact Lakme Salon 102 A, Royal Arcade, Dr B Baruah Road, Ulubari, Guwahati781007 +91-9435011882, +91-9862032346, +91-361-2465007
Before you step out, apply a sun block with an SPF of at least 20. Try to avoid harsh weather conditions, like glaring sun, pounding rain or thrashing wind Use a face-wash to clean your face before shaving. After the shave, wipe your face with a toner and dab a bit of aftershave on the beard and moustache area A good diet goes a long way in making your skin healthy. Make it a point to eat breakfast and include fibre-rich, low-fat foods and fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet.
Stop smoking, limit your caffeine consumption and eat healthy food
This salon clubs L’Oreal Professionnel services and offers extensive bridal packages that stretch from a week to 3 months. Apart from the essentials, they also offer body polishing, buffing and wraps.
A little meditation and 7-8 hours of sleep daily will help you always look fresh. Also, avoid stress as this also affects your skin
Exercise helps boost your metabolism and also improves blood circulation.
Water helps in flushing out the toxins from the body, so it is important to ensure you are having at least 10-12 glasses every day
Packages range from R 11999 to R. 23500
Start visiting a salon for a facial at least once a month for a few months before the wedding.
Contact G.S.Road, (Opp. IDBI Bank), Guwahati – 781005 +91-9707026506, +91-9707011700, +91-9707011800, +91-361-2465058
Looking good needs just a little bit of extra care and effort, and preparing for your special day needs to be a holistic effort of physical and emotional wellbeing. Going that extra mile will surely help you look good and feel great! Courtesy - VLCC
VLCC Apart from their figure correction services, VLCC offers a complete head to toe makeover with a full range of services like body therapies such as body polish, anti-tan treatments and Oxy-hydration, rejuvenating massages, nutritional counselling, regular skin care and hair care services, both for the bride as well as the groom. Also, they have complete make-up services for different occasions during the ceremonies.
Cost The complete package stars from R 5000 onwards and Jurun make-up starts from R 2500
Contact Zoo road, Mother Teresa Road, 1st floor, above Vijaya Bank, Guwahati +91-361-2411339, +91-361- 2411349 G.S ROAD – Christian Basti, Opposite Cube Mall, Guwahati +91-361- 2345555, +91-361-2346666
Men’s wedding attire While the Assamese groom traditionally wears a pat kurta and a dhoti for the nuptial ceremony, you can also prefer to wear a suit or a sherwani during the wedding reception. Just as the bride’s trousseau is unique and special, so should be the groom’s attire. These days there are special outlets which only cater to menswear. The sherwani is worn with tighter fitting pants or trousers called churidars. Many others also prefer the formal look with a smart suit completed with a tie and a tie-pin for the reception. Premium outlets in the city offer a wide range of fabrics to choose from.
The Raymond Shop Raymond offers you exclusive suits and sherwanis in various types of fine fabrics to meet different needs, both for the groom and other members of the family.
Cost The suits, in a standard size of 3.25 metres, should cost anywhere between R 20000 to R 400000
Contact Sankardev Commercial Pvt Ltd, Opposite Bora Service, G S Road, Guwahati – 781007 +91-361-2466660,+91-361-2466661 email@example.com
Sahanaii Sahanaii offers you a complete range of men’s clothing. They have suits, sherwanis and Indo-Western replete with other accessories like pagri, dupatta and mojris.
Cost The suits will cost you anywhere between R 2000 to R 20000
Contact Shopper’s Point, 2nd Floor, Fancy Bazaar, Guwahati – 781001 +91-361-2732869, +91-98640-36063
Manyavar They offer a plethora of men’s clothing including traditional attires like sherwani, lafa, zutti, tilangi, kantha, dhoti, stole etc apart from suits and Indo-Western ensembles.
Cost The clothing ranges from anywhere between R 499 to R 26000
Contact Shoppe No F -1/3/5, Shopper’s Point (1st Floor), Fancy Bazaar – 781001 +91-361-2734442, +91-9864027867 firstname.lastname@example.org Christian Basti, G S Road, Guwahati – 781005 +91-361-2343822 email@example.com , www.manyavar.com
A wedding reception at Hotel Brahmaputra Ashok
Hotel Brahmaputra Ashok
With the scenic Brahmaputra flowing in sight, Brahmaputra Ashok offers you arguably the best venue in Guwahati. They take care of decor, catering and other details that entail the entire wedding celebrations. They also offer a conference hall for receptions with a seating capacity of 150.
Wedding venues are an option which is high on the priority list while planning out a wedding. You should select a wedding venue depending on the number of people on the guest list. It is always sensible to reserve the venue well in advance as there is always a rush during the wedding season. Arranging marriages in a wedding hall make things much more convenient for the family, especially a wedding venue with proper parking facilities, more so in these days of back-toback traffic. Also, if you want to plan your wedding in a place far away from home, you must ensure that either you tell your guests in advance so that they can make necessary arrangements or provide transportation.
Cost A bit on the expensive side, booking packages range from 3 days to 5/6 days. Booking here will set you back by a whopping R 1 to R 1.25 lakh per day. The conference hall will cost you anything above R 600 per person
Contact M.G. Road, Guwahati – 781001 +91-361-2602281-87, Fax- +91-361-2602289 Mail – firstname.lastname@example.org Website – www.hotelbrahmaputraashok.com
Divine Weddings One of the popular venues, Divine Weddings offers a hall with a seating capacity of 250 and a dining hall with a capacity of 200
Cost Renting the venue will cost you R 28000 per day exclusive of taxes
Contact Behind MLA Hostel, Dr R P Road, Dispur, Guwahati -781006 +91-98549-92593
Alfresco Grande Alfresco Grande, an initiative of Hemanta Doley, not only offers you a one-of-a-kind party on cruise, but also has a private sundeck, an AC hall and a banquet hall aboard a cruiser on the Brahmaputra. They offer catering services and also has music on demand with a live band playing.
Cost Their charges start from R 560 approx per person
Contact Machkhowa, Opposite ITA Centre, Guwahati – 781009 +91-94355580005
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Wedding Planners Wedding planners can turn your dream wedding into a reality. Planners take care of everything – from decorating the venues, taking care of the lighting arrangements, caterers, honeymoon, booking flights, hotels and the rest. It is very important that you discuss your exact specifications with your wedding planner well in advance, such as the type of wedding you are looking forward to. Your budget and preferences and other details need to be intimated so that he/she can do justice to the job. As Asha Bora, wedding planner and owner of Greenwood Resorts Pvt Ltd , explains, “I highly regard individual customs and rituals. And, age-old rituals and customs are what keeps us grounded to our roots, no matter how westernised we might be at the outset. As I have been in the business for long, I have learned to suit individual needs and preferences. There are so many details to take care of.”
Source Events and Promotions Source, which basically is an events management company with BTL (below-the-line) activation, also provides wedding planning services by managing catering, venue, décor, lighting and other details.
Cost They cater to individual needs and requirements in accordance to the budget available
Contact #59, K K B Road, Chenikuthi, Guwahati – 781003 +91-9859984277, +91-9859947596
Weddings are a one-time occasion and everybody wants to make it memorable. Over the years, Assamese weddings have also undergone a marked change. For people who can spend, we have designers giving their expert touch to the bride’s and the groom’s trousseau. In wedding receptions, caterers have replaced your neighbourhood boys and it is a buffet spread. However, the Assamese community is yet to catch up in terms of big spending. As Nitin Dewan, CEO, Brahmaputra Ashok Hotels, sums up, “Today weddings are a mark of one’s social status. An expensive wedding is much noted. Having said that, the concept of the big, fat Indian 36
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A Zone Events and Promotions A F Track serves up all the required wedding services from decorations, sound, lighting, settings and catering. They also offer entertainment services and will rope in celebs to make your special day more glittering.
Cost They usually plan the wedding according to individual budgets. Planning the whole wedding cost you anything above R 5 lakhs
Contact Neema Complex, 122 Pan Bazaar, Guwahati – 781014 +01-9329380012
Greenwood Resorts Pvt Ltd Greenwood Resorts, an initiative of Asha Bora, not only offers you one of the most spacious venues in town, but also offers planning services to suit individual needs. They stress on upholding respective traditions and rituals of different communities. They also offer wedding garments and a bakery for revving up wedding delectables.
Cost They plan and design a wedding according to individual needs and budgets. For further details, please contact the resort.
Contact Madhab Nagar, Khanapara, Near SIRD, Guwahati – 781022 +91-9207042326, +91-9207042327, +91-9207047180
wedding is yet to catch up in Assam. The Assamese wedding does not entail a huge splurge.” Whether it causes a huge dent in your pocket or not, weddings happen only once. And having the right kind of wedding is a dream for everyone. With this special guide, we hope you have an equally special wedding! Compiled by Amrita Madhukalya With inputs from Parinita Datta
December 2010 │eclectic times │ 37
The traditional xenpota in a revamped look. The neckpiece, in a fashionable design, is set in silver with an oxidised look
Mesh neckpiece in an earthy design, set in silver, for the contemporary buwari
To cater to the diverse tastes of the modern Axomiya buwari, Mrigakshi Bora of Mrigakshi presents a plethora of age-old traditional jewellery designs in a trendy and fresh avatar… Stylish neckpiece with a thuriya phul locket and a xilikha moni
Junbiri, which is set completely in silver, carries a unique look
Intricate pure-silver set in dhan-xira design Dazzling luka-paro set, attached with gold beads and inlayed with blue and green stones
Stylish neckpiece with a thuriya phul locket and a xilikha moni
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Haute Brides With the wedding season in the air, there could not be a better time for designer Alakananda Das to show off the best examples of her creativity!
therwise known simply as a biya, an Assamese wedding truly personifies the spirit of ‘simple abundance’. Like any other Indian wedding, it is an elegant affair with the blushing bride being the cynosure of the ceremony where she undeniably aspires to stand out as the most beautiful woman ever! The bridal attire is a crucial factor in lending that divine touch to the bride during all the ceremonies and thereafter. Here in Assam, the mekhela chador is the most popular choice of attire to adorn every bride as she enters the world of wedded bliss and it is usual for the bride to opt for the exquisite weaves and designs of the traditional mekhela chadors. However, if you’re up to doing something a little unique and different, why not consider something more contemporary in the way of designer bridal wear for your D-day. There are countless options available nowadays in which the modern day bride can shimmer, sparkle and glow as she drapes herself in the choicest of fabrics and elite designs. With the traditional pat and muga silks being upgraded with modern
times │ December 2010
designs and motifs, contemporary Assamese bridal wear is the best choice for those who want to look fashionable whilst still keeping traditional values intact! With her newly- launched label, C-Pink, Alakananda Das is an up-coming designer, based in Guwahati. As she says, “The C in C-Pink stands for ‘chic’ and Pink symbolises feminism.” Das’s forte lies in revamping our very own mekhela chadors by incorporating contemporary designs. As she confesses, her style is somewhat ‘Bollywood-inspired’ and designing exquisite pieces is her passion as she feels it “runs in the family.” Indeed, she likes to play with different shades of colour such as reds, greens, pinks and oranges using fabrics that are ‘in’. She’s into a lot of sequins, zari and ribbon work with colourful stone embellishments. And that’s not all - along with the dazzling attire, there is a lot more from her wardrobe for the bride’s pre and post-wedding ceremonies. So, here it is, an ‘exclusive bridal collection’ of Assamese designer-wear put together by Alakananda Das…
Especially designed in a dazzling orange colour to give a ‘blazed’ look, this is perfect for that incredible moment when the couple exchange garlands and take vows amidst the chants of the mantras and the sacred fire.
Traditional Assamese pat mehkela chador woven with golden zari in the royal xinkhap design. Just to add variation, the riha is in crushed tissue fabric.
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Since it’s the ‘easy to wash and wear’ variety, it’s the best attire to start off your auspicious mehendi function.
Orange taffeta silk mekhela chador with khari block prints and tie-dyed base material.
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If youâ€™re planning a wedding party, you deserve to get all the eyes on you with this. chic and classy look!
Kanjivaram and glass tissue mekhela with digital embroidery in the netted glass tissue chador. To add more grace, thereâ€™s a blend of magenta pink and black with fine velvet work highlighted by zari.
To shine brightly during your juran, this is an excellent choice.
Red and green mekhela in brocade and pure silk combination and red georgette chador with green border consisting of aari work with sequins and cutdana.
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A classic look for your aath mangala, a post-wedding ritual that takes place a few days after the wedding.
Banarasi mekhela in beige and green netted chador with brocade border and tissue silk sequence work.
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Want to do away with the traditional patterns? Pick this one for a pre-wedding puja!
Concept: Tanushree Hazarika Coordination & Words: Himakshi Goswami Model: Dola Paul Photographs: Rahul Biswas Make-up: Shekhar Ghosh
Kanjivaram mekhela and dyed tussar silk chador in grey, pink and aquamarine blue with Banarasi thread woven borders and gota patti.
he is a survivor, a total survivor. Effervescent, cheerful and full of beans, she has a huge appetite for embracing life, and though her life story is one of sorrow, it is also of hope.
EARLY BEGINNINGS Born in 1976 and brought up at Kampur village in Nagaon, Jahnabi lost her father when she was just in Grade VII. The eldest amongst four siblings, her mother arranged her marriage when she was 18 to a businessman, Pankaj Sarma, of Guwahati in 1994, without ‘checking on his antecedents.’ In 1995, her husband passed away leaving Jahnabi all alone with their threemonth-old daughter Kastorika. THE SHOCK Jahnabi recalls how just after her husband’s death, she was thrown out by her in-laws. As if that was not enough, doctors admitted her to the Infectious Disease Hospital in Kalapahar (under Guwahati Medical College) along with daughter Kastorika for 21 days. “I had a harrowing time. The whole place was just like a jail and I was totally clueless why it was happening to me,” reminisces Jahnabi. It had turned out that her husband had contracted AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) after having “unprotected sex” with multiple partners. HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the virus that ultimately causes AIDS where the body’s defences are broken down. However, the real blow came when it was confirmed that both she and her little daughter Kastorika had been infected with the HIV virus too and were both HIV+. “I was benumbed and my world came crumbling down. Doctors in Guwahati declared that I would not survive for more than three months,” she stated. 50
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FIGHTING BACK Jahnabi went back to her family in Kampur and decided to pursue higher studies. Her family, who gave her unstinted support, inspired her to file a case against the Infectious Disease Hospital authorities. So, with the help of the media and Lawyers Collective (a group of lawyers from Mumbai and Delhi fighting for the cause of AIDS patients), she went ahead. “I was the first woman to file a case against the hospital and the government in the Supreme Court. In 1997, the apex court delivered a verdict that there should be no discrimination with AIDS and HIV+ patients and they should be treated at par with normal patients.” It seemed that Jahnabi had crossed the first hurdle due to her sheer grit and determination. But her victory was short-lived, for her daughter Kastorika passed away that very year. BRAVEHEART Kastorika’s death left Jahnabi shattered and she decided to make HIV/AIDS awareness her mission. Prompted by her mother, in 1998, Jahnabi decided to declare to the world that she was HIV+ as her mother did not want any other “innocent girl to suffer”. She shifted to Guwahati to join the Assam State AIDS Control Society (ASACS) in 1999 but was unable to find rented accommodation due to her HIV status. However, hearing of her predicament, the government allotted her a flat in 2003. FIGHTING FOR A CAUSE The ostracism which Jahnabi faced left her a bitter person. On July 11, 2003, she and a few other ‘like-minded people’ formed the Assam Network of Positive People (ANP+). As president, Jahnabi says, “Our organisation never questions the victims as to how they contracted AIDS. We simply advise them to practice yoga, have nutritious food and keep themselves engaged.” According to Jahnabi,
Photo: UB Photos
World AIDS Day special
society’s outlook has changed. “On a scale of 1-10, I would rate the awareness level now as 8 compared to the zero awareness during the 90s. There has been a perceptible change in people’s outlook and even doctors and nurses show respect towards AIDS patients. Private hospitals (in Guwahati) have started admitting HIV+ patients at normal rates. Few years back, it was not the case,” she says.
nurses and paramedical staff as well as formulate policies. SUPPORT STRUCTURE The Assam government has shown ANP+ tremendous support throughout its endeavour. “Assam is the only state where HIV+ people are allowed free travel facilities within the state. They are even being provided with free testing facilities in government and civil hospitals of the state.” But support came
BRANCHING OUT In 2009, Jahnabi became the president of the Indian Network of Positive People (INP+), a national network of people living with HIV/ AIDS, which tries to bring a glimmer of hope in the lives of the victims. It is a community-based organisation formed in 1997 (registered under the Tamil Nadu Societies Act) which has waged a long and intensive struggle against fear, ignorance, prejudice and despair born out of the disease. Her role in ASACS (where she is a Board member now) is to train doctors,
• Capacity-building and training programme for HIV+ people to overcome the trauma, build capacity and self-esteem, treatment adherence and training on how to interact with the media, doctors and the common people – all a part of Positive Speakers Training; • Training doctors and paramedical staff – ASHA workers, awareness drive in schools/colleges and among commoners; • Formulating a treatment policy and devising ways to do away with stigma and discrimination; • Advocacy to ensure implementation of HIV awareness programmes. Networking with NGOs, CSOs and various government departments for schemes to create awareness and get benefits; and • Needle exchange programme; substitution therapy (those into substance abuse are provided oral drugs) and SHGs formed for HIV+ people to sustain their families.
from other quarters too. “Celebrities and missionaries like the Don Bosco Institute have supported my cause too.” PRESENTLY Today Jahnabi Goswami leads a very busy life, making frequent trips to Delhi. “The National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) ((Phase III) is going to wind up and we are trying to find out which areas have not been addressed.” But there was also a surprise in store for she confessed, “I am trying for a ticket from Berhampur constituency (Congress) for the 2011 Assembly elections.” LOOKING BACK Even though the ugly face of death is the inevitable end, Jahnabi steadfastly refuses to be intimidated. “No, I am not scared but I would advise women to build their capacity and say ‘No’ to marriage and sex with a wrong person. Blood tests and couple counselling is a must before one decides to walk down the aisle.” MEDICAL ANGLE Though Jahnabi is on regular medication for her condition, she confesses that the drugs do not kill the virus but slow down the growth. However, she admitted that medical science has, of late, made headway in treating AIDS patients, though there has been no breakthrough. HOPE FOREVER Every adversity of life can carry a seed of greater benefit. Perhaps Jahnabi Goswami’s life story is a perfect example of this, for her raison d’ etre today is to work for the cause of AIDS patients and empower them. Jahnabi has managed to look beyond the dark clouds of adversity and managed to focus on the silver linings, like the true survivor that she is. Words: Parinita Datta
December 2010 │eclectic times │ 51
In a seemingly dispassionate move towards women seeking maintenance in live-in relationships, has the Supreme Court gone too far in its new ruling? ET probes the issue.
n our post-feministic era of single motherhood and artificial inseminations, adventurous women would like to think of life as a ball game, where questions need not be answered and you can be who you choose to be without attracting disdainful glares for every action. Every now and then, this morale gets a boost with positive judgements in the country’s apex court, the Supreme Court (SC), in women’s favour, because India is a country where laws seem to be the stamp of finality to every cause. In 2005, the SC passed such a judgement in favour of women: it legalised live-in relationships so that a woman could claim assistance if the man were ever to leave her in the lurch. However, five years later, in fact just this October, in a downright retrograde move, the SC laid down the requirements a consenting couple needed to satisfy, so that the woman could seek maintenance in a live-in relationship. The verdict, delivered by a bench, comprising Justices Markandey Katju and T S Thakur, laid down the following requirements: (1)
The couple must hold themselves out to society as being akin to spouses They must be of legal age to marry │ eclectic
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They must be otherwise qualified to enter into a legal marriage, including being unmarried (4) They must have voluntarily cohabited and held themselves out to the world for a significant period of time. The SC now expects the woman to prove to the world that such a relationship existed, giving the man the leeway to walk out, in case he declares that he was in it for the sex only! And it did not end at that. In a disrespectful move, the SC also employed derogatory words like ‘keep’ and ‘mistress’. To this, Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaisingh took a strong objection. “The SC has traditionally been sensitive to women. But use of words like ‘keep’ and ‘one night stand’ are not legal language. The court has to be gender-sensitive,” she told the media after the verdict was out. “It is like setting the clock back after the SC has passed the historic judgement in the Vishakha case. That judgement is cited in the courts all over the world”. In a time like today, when development seems to have entered every sphere of our lives, why do social relations acquire such complexities? Former editor of The Sentinel and a prolific writer, D N Bezboruah tells us, “Live-in relationships have been
a spin-off from the expectations of companionships in marriages in the 1920s-30s. Marriage, as an institution, has suffered serious setbacks throughout, mainly owning to the unfaithfulness of the man and the double standards that society has held regarding polygamy. While it was alright for the man to have polygamous marriages, it was unthinkable to have a woman do the same. Given that the evils of domestic violence between unmarried partners extended itself to the children from such relationships, the SC decided to take a stand and declared live-in relationships legal in 2005. But then again, having declared that, the Court had to take into consideration the children of adulterous relationships as well. In a way, the SC had bit more than it could chew.” Monisha Behal, an activist who has been assisting women in the Northeast for many years, echoes Jaisingh’s objection: “The use of archaic words like ‘maintenance’ and ‘mistress’ should be done away with. ‘Maintenance’ should instead be replaced by ‘compensation’. The question of compensation usually arises when a man does not own up to an adulterous relationship and denies any financial assistance to the woman and the children, if any. Today, compensation can be claimed for both adulterous and live-in relationships. Having said that, India is a very diverse country and thus accommodates the idea of live-in relationships. But, when a man leaves a woman for another,
the woman will ask for financial assistance and that is a universal phenomena. There are also issues of domestic violence too that need to be answered. However, in urbane relationships, financial assistance is usually not the question. I’d like to know what happens when a woman is financially more sound than the man?” Given the SC’s judgement, the woman must now adhere to archaic norms of a patriarchal society. What happens to children of such relationships? Where do they stand? Pallavi Mazumdar, a professional and a housemaker residing in Noida, voices her concerns. “Usually the judgements that we get to see are skewed, gender-wise. Whether it is a live-in relationship or an adulterous one, the SC will use language assuming that it is the man on whom the woman is financially dependent. And the onus is almost always on the woman to prove the relationship in order to get anything out of it. Children in such relationships complicate the matter. While in an adulterous relationship, a woman can claim for herself and
the child, in a live-in relationship it is very difficult for the woman to prove, let alone ask for her children’s needs. Also, it is not clear whether the child has the right to use his father’s name and ask for financial assistance.” The debate will rage on, amidst concerned individuals and women groups. But that the SC could deliver a verdict interspersed with such a strong patriarchal flavour is not a good reflection of a woman’s standpoint in the complex milieu of interpersonal relationships in today’s times. Speaking from the standpoint of an urban woman, London resident of Indian origin, Ramya Menon, ponders : “I think a live-in relationship is a choice. Some people chose to live together for whatever reasons. Hence, no one has the right to make it sleazy with the usage of such terms. And it is pretty archaic to have the term now, don’t you think? So if I were in such a situation, and I were the one working and say my boyfriend is studying, and we live together, does that make him my ‘keep’?” By setting the man free of any moral or ethical responsibilities legally, the SC goes back to the times of Manu, social thinker and the ‘progenitor of all mankind’ who likened women to domestic animals and declared that the man be her master. Even after ages of advancement, the fact that the SC bench’s verdict spoke the same language as Manu is invariably a very poor reflection of the times that we live in. Amrita Madhukalya December 2010 │eclectic times │ 53
This Christmas, how about gifting memories instead of useless gifts, asks Golden Reejsinghani
ouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to gift a present that will last forever? Well, you can if you create memories, for they will continue to live on in the hearts of those you’ve touched, long after the festival is over. So, try imbibing the spirit of the festive season by spreading a little love and cheer to others before yourself, with these five ‘x-traordinarily’, ‘x-citing’ ideas this Xmas!
For the same money you would have spent on a meal at a posh hotel, try getting together with a few friends and organising a special afternoon at the local old people’s home. Decorate the old people’s home with Christmas trees or candles and set up a sumptuous lunch by ordering their favourite food and eating with them. Afterwards you might like to put up a skit or a musical programme for them or even involve them in a game of antakshiri. Don’t forget to sing a few carols and, before you depart, give each senior citizen a small present. Not only will you be blessed by them for bringing them some sunshine but you will also feel an inner happiness for making them happy.
Be it books, old clothes or unused household products, donating things that you don’t need anymore is a good idea. Not only that, you will also be de-cluttering your own home! No one likes to receive broken or torn clothes or books, so do make sure what you donate is in good condition. If you personally deliver your goods, you’ll feel like Father Christmas! If you have any old toys that are still in working order, try taking them to an orphanage and just watch the little children’s eyes light up in glee! Not only will you be putting cheer in their lives but you will also be making them responsible and better citizens by making them feel that someone cares for them. 54
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Plants are special because they don’t sit on a mantelpiece gathering dust like an ornamental piece. They are alive and require minimal maintenance to grow - as long as you nurture them with good lighting and love. Potted herbs like aloe vera, mint or coriander will bring great joy to your friends when they will see how the plant continues growing with new tender leaves in spite of you using them during cooking. Or, if your friend has space in her back garden, why not gift a sapling? It will it be an eternal reminder of the person who gifted it to you and will also help towards creating a greener environment.
An unusual gift idea could be a couple of freshwater fishes in a wide-mouthed bowl along with a little greenery - and you are bound to see the happiness on your friend’s face. For those with high blood pressure, fish swimming around in a bowl are said to calm the mind if you watch them long enough. Another added benefit is that the presence of water in a room is said to attract positive chi energies. Whatever you believe, you cannot deny that a couple of happy goldfish swimming in a bowl would make a great splash, as a gift idea!
Make a visit to the local dogs kennel and ask the people in charge if they have any stray dogs looking for a good home. You may also find a stray pup which would make a great gift to people who would love to keep a dog and have the space to do so. Try tying a lovely red bow with a tinkling bell around its neck to make more of a statement when you surprise them. But remember, live animals need as much care and love as humans, so make sure the pup gets a friendly home, and the pup will make sure that its new owner will get a faithful friend. The author is a freelance writer based in Mumbai December 2010 │eclectic times │ 55
times │ December 2010
ack home, the only seasons I have experienced are summers and winters. And like any other person living on the plains of India, winter was always a welcome respite from the blazing heat of the summer. Winters in Assam were about warm woollens, Magh Bihu and, of course, food. I am right now in Syracuse, around five hours north of New York City. Even before I landed here, I was warned about the cold in Syracuse but no one told me about fall, or what we call, autumn. I have been told that summer this year was unusually warm in Syracuse. I could still feel it. So the change in season was welcomed by everyone, with much anticipation. Every day, as I walked to my campus, I would notice the familiar green of the trees slowly give way to a bright canary yellow and very soon to a brilliant shade of red. And one morning, I opened my window and saw a riot of colours in the tree-lined avenue next to my house! The forests were a mosaic of flaming red, bright yellow with patches of green. Fall had arrived...
December 2010 │eclectic times │ 57
“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolour, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all”
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viewpoint “At a certain point I lost track of you. You needed me. You needed to perfect me. In your absence you polished me into the Enemy. Your history gets in the way of my memory….”
aware. In fact, Homer’s war poem epic The Iliad written around 8th century B.C, powerfully voices out that “Enemies are our own mirror images”. We could for instance, even look at works of Saddat Hassan Manto, whose famous story Dog of Tetwal, set after partition, discusses
for the national book award 2001. In this anthology, he declares, “My mother is my poem” and in I Dream I Am at the Ghat of the Only World, the last poem in the book, he deals with the death of his mother by invoking the poet James Merrill, who assures him that weeping, despair,
In the light of so much unrest and discord in the world, Rini Barman reflects upon the works of poet Agha Shahid Ali and asks, “When will humans learn from history and our rich literatures?” Agha Shahid Ali (1949-2001), a name of originality, a postindependent poet, is known for his verse sophistication in the modern era. Born and educated in Kashmir, he reconstructed poetry from the ghazal tradition and blended it with the western poetic style. Also influenced by the American poet James Merill, he expressed his utter helplessness in the fierce conflicts in Kashmir which he had also faced, and his love for the innocent people who were victimised in that terror. His collection of poems in A Walk Through the Yellow Pages, The HalfInch Himalayas, The Country Without a Post Office and Rooms Are Never Finished are embedded in deep critique of religious faith. The sense of loss of a homeland in the name of God seems to have an ironic impact in Ali’s writings. His ambivalence in poetry is similar to Amitav Ghosh’s cry of nationalism in the novel Shadow Lines. Where is this ‘enemy’ that we are trying to win victory over? A close friend of the poet, Amitav Ghosh, wrote a poignant piece after his death in The Ghat of the only world about which most of us are
the senseless animosity of war and the insane obsession of extending religious boundaries even to the animal kingdom. Ali tragically pictures Kashmir as a possible “discord of another nuclear war,” and in Ghalib’s Ghazal warns that “terraced cities” and “marble palaces” may be reduced to a “wilderness” if peace is not achieved. In Eleven Stars in Andalusia he describes exiles, adding the need for reconciliation between East and West and Athens and Persia. He believed that his intense love for poetry would give him the solace never to be found in politics and religion. Since time immemorial, literatures of the world have been battling with the idea of futility involved in the competitive struggles for faith. Faith, as we all know, is very subjective, diverse and a matter of personal choice. Ali’s Rooms are Never Finished was enlisted as one of the final entry
and anger will not help. Merrill enigmatically states, “Shahid, the loved one always leaves.” Perhaps this is the inevitable sorrow that echoes in his poems through the themes of war, family relationships and past happiness. In the recent times, where there is so much of turmoil on debates of faith, we could once read up Agha Shahid’s poems during our leisure and realise how this human race has degraded in its innate kindness on the pretext of the Almighty. Few months ago, as the Ayodhya verdict was announced in our country, I could experience the fear and insecurity that our common masses felt… Thus, every morning I read about violence in the newspapers, I keep my cup of tea aside, and some pensive thoughts leave me on this pessimistic note: Will humans ever learn? The author is a student of Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi
If there’s anything happening around you that inspires you to speak up and let the world know, write to us at Eclectic House, 34 P. B. Road, Rehabari, Guwahati - 8 or email to email@example.com December 2010 │eclectic times │ 59
Tea garden clubs still reverberate with fervent Christmas celebrations, according to tea memsahibs and , who allowed us a peek into their world to experience the Christmas spirit.
hether you are in the snowy climes of a European winter, or in the tea garden clubs of Assam, Christmas will always be synonymous with the tinkling of bells, Christmas trees, carols, little children waiting eagerly for the jolly, red-robed Father Christmas to fill their stockings with gifts and lots and lots of chocolates! And, in spite of the exodus of the ex-patriot planters a few decades ago, the tradition of Christmas in the tea clubs is still very much alive and kicking. Madhumita Bhattacharya of Tarajulie Tea Estate, who frequents Thakurbari Club, tells us more about how Christmas is still celebrated at their club.
“The lush-green tea gardens are mostly located in remote areas, far away from the hustle and bustle of cities so, after sunset, one can hardly hear any other sound except for maybe some croaking frogs or screeching insects! To take a break from the loneliness and humdrum existence, club activities and a throbbing party scene is a must in a planter’s life. Thakurbari Club (initially known as ‘Tokobari Club’) is an old tea club which was apparently established in 1883 (during the days of the Raj) and can rightfully boast of a legacy of grandeur. Built amidst a sprawling 45 hectares (300 bighas) of an emerald green golf course, this club has a pristine glory of its own. With an abundance of natural wilderness and the manicured golf course, Thakurbari Club is located about 4 km away from Rangapara in Sonitpur district of Assam and has 76 members at present. To revive the season’s true joys, Christmas is celebrated every year at Thakurbari with an endless array of amusement. The whole event is organised keeping children in mind. On Christmas day, the club hall is decorated with cutouts of Santa Claus, Rudolph, snowmen, stars, streamers, balloons and lights, 60
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thus adding a touch of joy. Children’s games and activities are the order of the day and, in no time, the club premises gets transformed into a ‘Garden of Eden’ with children running and giggling all around. Countless activities and games are arranged. Of course, there is the exclusive Christmas party, but the big moment comes when Santa arrives in a chariot in his red robe with the loudest ‘ho-ho’! With a bell jingling in his hand, he brings a bagful of gifts for the children, who are all waiting with bated breath! The Christmas spread is always a star attraction too! You can enjoy a healthy quota of sipping and snacking and whet your appetite on the immense variety of delicious food served up. Delicious cakes and other goodies are prepared by the ladies of Thakurbari Club wrapped with loads of love, especially for the children. Even the children of club’s staff members are made to feel special on Christmas day with delicacies served to them too. This year, Thakurbari Club will be organising a grand ‘Children’s Party’ to celebrate Christmas and is planning to distribute clothes among underprivileged children keeping in mind the fact that Father Christmas was renowned for his piety and gentleness, his gifts to the poor and his love for children.” Jimli Baruah of Bishnauth Club, in Sonitpur district, reflects on the gaiety of Christmas as is still celebrated in their age-old tea garden club too. “Bishnauth Club was established in 1934 during the
days of the Raj. Planters from about 10 tea estates in the district are members of the club. Here too Christmas parties are an invigorating experience. The theme decoration is a well-decorated Christmas tree with stars and bells hanging. The club’s decorations are a legend, with big cut-outs of Santa and Snowman adorning the hall and a nativity scene of the birth of Jesus Christ. The day usually starts with sporting events and games which are held for the children and ladies. The culinary temptations draw the crowd instantly – high tea is served with traditional goodies like Christmas cake and tarts. Even for the adults, snacking and dining options on exotic delicacies is limitless! The evening comes to an end with children and adults hitting the dance floor with gusto. The Christmas party in Bishnauth Club caters to a wide variety of ages and interests. A surprise element of Santa’s arrival creates much anticipation on the children’s faces, for no one knows how he will arrive! Every year he makes a grand entry, either riding an elephant, a tractor, a rickshaw or sometimes even in a Gypsy! Shrieks of glee from the children fill the air as the white-bearded man carries a sackful of gifts to fill the children’s Christmas stockings. Each year a planter member of the club comes dressed as Santa and ensures that the children have enough reasons to rejoice. The trend is that parents are told to buy gifts beforehand for their children and secretly give them to Father Christmas, who distributes them during gift-giving. Christmas carols, which date back to pagan times, are sung to welcome Santa and he sings too. Children then take their turns for a photo with Santa Claus before he bids everyone goodbye for another year!” ET feature Photos: Madhumita Bhattacharya December 2010 │eclectic times │ 61
le pass, God’s own ab or ot m t es gh hi ’s ld sert, the wor ra Valley The world’s highest de the epithets with which the gorgeous Nub on his nta a few of joins Saurabh Maha ET . ts valley – these are just is ur to to n ace. ow is commonly kn trip to this amazing pl
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any friends turned down my request to join me on my dangerous trip, but then again, Nubra Valley is not your regular snow-and-hills routine and definitely not for the fainthearted. Largely unknown, Nubra Valley is on the trading route that connected eastern Tibet with Turkistan via the famous Karakoram Pass. With breathtaking views and delightfully hospitable inhabitants, Nubra invites you to a trip back in time into a nearly forgotten ‘Shangri-La’. So, finally I ended up going with a group of strangers with whom I have by now forged a strong camaraderie. All of us met at a friend’s place in Delhi from where we travelled by cab to Manali. We left Manali the next day towards Rohtang Pass (51 kms away) on hired bikes only to come back the next day because of a landslide. From here we left for Keylong where we halted for the night. The next morning the sun did bring in some cheer, until I realised that almost all my toiletries – the toothpaste, the body oil, my shaving cream – were frozen solid, and needed dousing in boiling water for a few minutes. In fact, everything freezes and frost bites are common if precautions are not taken. At such an altitude, even the food doesn’t taste nice. We continued our journey via Barachalla. Hats off to Border Roads Organisation (BRO) for keeping these roads in working condition, even though large stretches of this
route remain practically covered in ice for most of the year. We stopped at Pang for refreshments and decided to go towards Leh. Again nature seemed to act on her own unhinged accord. We had to stop and camp at Rumtse as it was the wrong time to leave the most notorious pass on the entire route with poor road conditions and extremely unpredictable weather. We had been riding for almost 13 hours now, so all we could do was sleep in the tea stall tent. The next day we continued our journey, which from now on primarily proceeded along a straight road on plains. All this while, we had been enjoying various suggestive road signs like - I like it slow darling and I’m curvaceous, be slow on me starting from our last 50 km journey to Leh. Here we visited the famous Pattharsahib Gurudwara, Thiksey Monastery and Magnetic Hills. We started from Leh towards Khardungla Pass, which lies at a distance of 39 kms. From here was a continuous ascent on a perfect asphalt road till our first halt at South Pullu, the army check post. We took in the panoramic view of the snow-clad mountains, lined around Stok Kangri peak. The going was good on a serpentine road, till we actually reached South Pullu after covering 24 km, in good time. Many bikes and jeeps were already there and tourists flocked around the Khardungla signpost for a memorable photo shoot! We chanced upon Rinchen Cafeteria, half of which was embedded in 10 feet of snow, with a snow tunnel for an entrance. The Hindu temple by the December 2010 │eclectic times │ 63
side, allowed the devotees to have a darshan. There was also a Buddhist temple up on the snow-bound slopes, which seemed impossible to reach. We continued beyond Khardung-la, reaching Khalsar from where we took a detour to Shyok Valley. River Shyok, at this time of the year did not have much
water. We trudged on till we finally hit our end destination – Nubra valley. Our journey seemed like an unforgettable expedition that made Indiana Jones look like a kindergarten excursion. Bactrian camel rides are a major form of tourist activity in the Nubra Valley today. The double-humped camels, which were once used as pack animals, have now become increasingly popular among a large number of tourists who come here for this most unusual experience. This highly interesting ride is flagged off from different locations and takes tourists through various points of interest along the fabled Silk Route. Usually starting from Panamik, Hunder, or Diskit, the ride ends at any of the chosen three points and covers such areas as Yulkam, Pinchimik, Tiggur, the sand dunes between Sumur and Lakjung and Tirith. Swaying rhythmically with the movements of these twin-humped, large even-toed ungulates you can be your own Lawrence of Arabia 64
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and eye such sights as the graveyard of Hor, Diskit Monastery and even the Dalai Lama’s palace. As the vast extent of white and seemingly pristine sand dunes dance with the sway of the blowing winds and almost suddenly metamorphose into mountains of snow, you too will experience a changing sequence of thoughts – the ones that give you leeway for the concoction of newer perspectives on life. Surrounded by the majestic Himalayas, the distinct smell of smoky kitchens, goats, chang (local brew) and butter tea, the place is magnificent. Snow lingers all year round on the mountains with prayer-flag topped peaks. Descending into the valley, only the first few kilometres are tricky. Soon, following a mellow stream, there’s a surprisingly green landscape with rugged stone formations rising up into the sky with the peaks in the background. A Ladakhi meal is served sitting around the massive black stove in the kitchen, the most important
room in any Ladakhi house. It is the place to warm up on a freezing winter night, the place where the family meets and prayers are said. Coming across a local, one can be sure to be greeted with a warm smile. The furthest place the permit allows one to visit in the valley is Panamik, the last settlement of any size before the Tibetan border. It’s not wise to proceed further than the barrier at the northern edge of the town, since this is a rather sensitive border area. It is completely controlled by the Indian Army, usually with very friendly soldiers. The 250-year-old Ensa Gompa, which was nestled on top of a rock overlooked snow-peaked mountains across the valley, took a six-hour walk to reach, which even involved crossing the river at Hargam. There are hot springs on the outskirts of Panamik coaxing you for a sizzling bath experience. The Nubra Valley is one of the last treasures of our planet, living in sheer isolation for most of the year in the heart of the great Himalayas. A real Shangri-La, with no Baywatch, no mobile phones and no Ray Ban sunglasses. The writer is a management student, based in Malaysia. All photos are by the author.
SHRINK YOUR HEAD
Avilasha Barooah is a neuropsychologist, a learning disability specialist and an NLP Coach and consultant. She offers consultancy in Guwahati and is currently working in GNRC Hospitals Limited. You can contact Avilasha at firstname.lastname@example.org
I am a working mother. My sixyear-old son gets obsessed with things that interest him, like small car models, bike models, comics etc. He is a smart kid but becomes so embroiled in what he’s doing that he forgets to eat, play or even enjoy life in general. I think this might have serious repercussions in his personality development. If I take him away from things, he becomes aggressive. How can I stop him from becoming so lost?
AVILASHA: I come from a family of toy and comic obsessed men and they’ve all turned out to be wellrounded individuals with professional careers. It’s normal for children to have obsessions as it enriches one’s capacity for fascination, zest, curiosity and attention. You could also use his fascination as a teaching tool and develop other interests from there. But if he’s spending too much time on these and refuses to play with anything else, you then need to set some limits and ration time, just as you say ‘’no’’ to any overpriced fancy toy. It would also be wise to talk to your paediatrician to rule out OCD or autism.
TE QUACK: Pretend that things lying around the house are cars which need to go into their ‘garages’ and watch him spring clean the house in a jiffy!
I am an extremely nervous person and tend to worry about things a lot, even the smallest of issues. This never used to bother me but I got married recently and my husband is troubled over this. My anxiety is such that I cannot sleep at night. I remain awake for a long time and this hampers my work schedule. I have tried everything possible –yoga, medical help and pep talks but to no avail. Please help.
AVILASHA: Anxiety and subsequent nervousness can become a habit, any habit can become a compulsion, and any compulsion can become an “addiction”. An addiction is a habit
over which you have lost control. Therefore, put it back into perspective. Remember that YOU are in control. No one is putting a gun to your head and telling you to think and fret. Your body has become accustomed to the chemical reaction in your brain caused by the act - dopamine etc - much like cigarette smoking. It is not permanent and will change when YOU decide to make the change.
TE QUACK: Hmm...this is a serious case of not getting enough of youknow-what! Get cosy with him between the covers and feel all those happy hormones surface.
I am a 16-year-old boy and I am appearing for the boards next year. My next door neighbour, who I consider to be like an elder brother, recently got married a couple of months ago. The problem is that whenever he is at work and I am alone at home, his newly married wife comes over on some pretext or the other and passes me obvious sexual overtures, which I am beginning to find irresistible. I don’t want to lose a dear brotherly figure, but I am finding it hard to control myself. I cannot talk about this to anyone, as no one will believe me. This is seriously hampering my studies.
AVILASHA: At 16 you’re “barely legal” and she’s trying to use you as a sex toy! Get a grip son as this is grossly wrong and could lead to sexual abuse, if only I hope it hasn’t gone too far by the time this query is answered. So be firm and serious as she’ll surely put the blame on you if the two of you get caught. She must know that you’ll not tolerate it. Warn her that if she’s caught doing this again, serious action will be taken. As for you, the urge is normal but you need to resist it. Every one has urges that sometimes don’t fit in with what’s acceptable to society at large, but an urge that borders on paedophilia could destroy both your life and career. Your challenge is not to act on it for the
peace of all concerned.
TE QUACK: Though they say the forbidden fruit is always sweeter, it could well be riddled with maggots! Ugh!
I am a 20-year-old with two younger siblings. Our dad is a procrastinator and keeps all work for later. Needless to say, the entire burden sits on me and my mother. This has a reverse effect on my siblings, especially my younger brother who is beginning to put things off for later too. We have tried talking to him and scolding him, but he simply doesn’t care since dad does it too. How can we change his mindset?
AVILASHA: Procrastinators have an unfounded belief that there will always be a tomorrow and so they put off work because they can do it tomorrow. By the way, they harbour a lot of guilt and this is what you need to play on. Grill it into him that there may not be a tomorrow. One could get hit by a bus while walking or have a heart attack just sitting. Did he know that the victims of 9/11 had any idea that they wouldn’t be returning home that night to do their unfinished tasks? We all are ticking time bombs. When it comes to death the odds are 1:1 that we will all make it. Therefore, ‘act as action’ is the only cure for procrastination. Decide what’s really important and make sure it doesn’t go undone. People around him should see the boiling pot of activity he calls his life. ‘Now, not later’ should be his motto! TE QUACK: Every time he wants to eat, keep telling him you’ll give it later. Wait till he’s really starving. He will soon ‘feel’ the effects of procrastination, right there in his stomach!
For heartaches, heartburns, multiple personality disorders, insomnia, anorexia, seeing dead people, sleepwalking and all other weird problems that you might have, Avilasha Barooah will try to suggest the best solutions possible. For alternate solutions you can always try ET Quack’s pointers. December 2010 │eclectic times │ 65 DISCLAIMER: Follow the suggestions of the ET Quack entirely at your own peril.
Illustration: Abhishek Kumar
By Ruskin Bond The plot thickens. There’s another murder. Captain Ramesh’s strange behaviour continues to baffle. Why does he mysteriously disappear while watching a film with young Ruskin? Hold on to your seats, for the second part of this gripping suspense thriller.
didn’t know what to make of Captain Ramesh – it was the first time a stranger had invited me to the pictures – but I shook his hand and had some difficulty in releasing it, his grip was so firm and strong. I supposed his Army training had something to do with it. “I’ll try to come,” I said, finished my Tepto Orange, and made my way, back to my room. Mrs. Deeds and Son were going at it, hammer and tongs, and it was impossible to sleep. And just as impossible to read. What I needed was a bedside radio! Next morning, dropping in at the office, I said, “Mum, I want a radio.” “There’s a radiogram at home,” she said. “It’s too big, and it’s out of order. And there are mice nesting inside.” “Well, a new radio will be expensive. You’ll have to wait until I get my salary. It’s three months overdue!” We were beginning to sound like Mrs. Deeds and Son. I changed the subject. “Captain Ramesh is taking me to the pictures this evening.” “He’s a great guest, isn’t he? Nice man, very polite. Don’t give him any trouble.” “Am I a troublesome boy?” “Sometimes.” I did not give Captain Ramesh any trouble. I was on my best behaviour. Who wouldn’t be, if he 66
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was being plied with patties and ice-cream sodas? Captain Ramesh was generous and undemanding. All he wanted was a little company. He was on his way to a border posting, he told me, and he missed his parents, his sister and his younger brother. I reminded him of his brother. We sat in the most expensive seats at the back of the hall, and laughed at the antics of Abott and Costells, the favourite comedians of that era. Halfway through the film, Captain Ramesh got up, saying he’d be back in five minutes. But he returned only as the picture was finishing – he’d been out for about half-an-hour. “I get very restless if I’m sitting in one place for too long,” he explained, as we walked back to the hotel. “You missed the best part,” I said.
I was on my best behaviour. Who wouldn’t be, if he was being plied with patties and ice-cream sodas? Captain Ramesh was generous and undemanding.
“Never mind,” he said. “It’s your company I enjoy. Would you like to see a Hindi film?” “Last year, I saw Tansen with my mother and stepfather. It was very long.” “The public likes to get its money worth of song and dance. Tomorrow let’s see the latest hit – Nadiya ki Par. Dilip Kumar and Kamini Kaushal. We’ll go to the night show.” I have never been to a night show before, my mother would not have allowed it, as it meant getting home at midnight. But such was Captain Ramesh’s charm and good looks that he soon overcame her objections. She was confident that I was in good hands. And I was comfortable with the Captain’s company. He was far from being the “fond uncle”, just a friendly young man trying to pass the time in a small town that offered little by way of entertainment. Well, Nadiya ki Par was memorable in more than one sense. It put me to sleep about half-way through. And when I woke up, Captain Ramesh was missing. Kamini Kaushal’s beauty and Dilip Kumar’s charm could not hold him to his seat any more than they could keep me from nodding off. I got up and went into the foyer. It was raining outside. Where on earth could the captain have gone? Surely he did not fancy a walk in the rain? It was February, still quite
cold in Dehra. Presently he arrived, rather breathless after running across the road that separated the cinema from the shops on the other side. He wasn’t too wet, so he must have been sheltering somewhere. Most of the shops were in darkness, having closed at eight or nine. A couple of tea-stalls were open, as well as a paan-shop. Captain Ramesh seemed pleased with himself. “Had a good walk” he said. “Did you enjoy the film?” “It’s still running,” I said. “But I fell asleep.” “We’ll go home then.” The rain had stopped, and we took a leisurely walk back to the hotel. Captain Ramesh kept whistling rather tunelessly. It was a habit of his when he was on the road. Dehradun did not have a local newspaper in those days. It was still a very small town. This meant that news of a crime was spread by word of mouth. And it had to be a serious crime for it to merit wide attention. I was sitting in the office with my mother when the dhobi walked in with a bundle of freshly-pressed linen – bed sheets and table cloths. He placed his bundle in a corner and said, “A woman was murdered last night.” “In your mohalla?” “No, not one of us. A rich lady. She was driving home after visiting the jewellers, just before the shops closed. Someone must have been hiding in the back seat. She drove up to her gate, but she was killed before she could get out. Strangled. All her jewellery missing—what she was wearing, what she bought. They say it’s that strangler from Delhi. Our streets aren’t safe anymore.” “They never were. Did he leave a note?” “What note? Money, you mean?” “No, a written note.” “Why should he do that?”
“The Delhi strangler does it. Just a custom.” “Then this is another killer.” “A copy-cat,” said my mother, and gave her attention to the dhobi’s accounts. Shortly after he had left, Captain Ramesh walked in. At eleven in the morning there was always more social life in my mother’s office than in the hotel. Captain Ramesh had a parcel under his arm. He put it in my hands and said, “Here’s something for you. I heard you wanted one!” Undoing the parcel, I disclosed a small Murphy radio. “Oh, thanks, sir.” I was really pleased. “You’re spoiling the boy,” said my mother. “Well, I’ll be off soon. Consider it a farewell present.” “Will you come this way again?” “Who knows? A soldier’s life is uncertain.” “But there is no war on, thank goodness.” A shadow fell across the doorway, and Mrs. Gupta’s head appeared in the opening. “I have to complain about the cook,” she said, her several chins wobbling as though they had a life of their own. “He was drunk at ten in the morning. You know I don’t trust the hotel’s food. But I felt like a cup of
tea, and I rang for the room-boy and he said he’d fetch it for me. Instead the cook brings it, pours it all over the table, and then has the effrontery to ask me for a loan!” “How much did he want?” asked my mother. “Five hundred rupees. The cheek of it!” “He usually asks for two. But he could see that you’re well-todo – must have heard that you are thinking of buying the hotel.” “Well, I’ve changed my mind about that. The Royal hotel is more suitable for my project.” She turned to Captain Ramesh and beamed at him. “I’m thinking of opening a mental hospital. We don’t have one north of Delhi.” Captain Ramesh was staring at her gold locket and pearl necklace. Diamonds glittered on her fingers. He gave a start, smiled and said “I’m sure we need one, madam. Lots of crazy people around. Schizophrenics. Split personalities. Jekyll and Hyde cases, they are roaming all over the place. A menace to society. Like the strangler in Delhi.” “We have one here too,” said my mother. “In Dehra? I don’t believe it.
: Kama l Jy2010 December oti Ka│eclectic times │ 67 lita
What would bring him to such a dead end?’ and with a shake of her head, and a jangle of bangles and bracelets, she marched off. “Well what would you rather have here?” asked Captain Ramesh, turning to me. “This quiet little hotel or a noisy mental hospital?” “A cinema hall,” I said, and everyone laughed. Mrs. Deeds and her son could well have been the first candidate for a mental asylum, the way they went on constantly badgering each other. She accused him of having pawned her rings, he accused her of losing them when drunk. They had no specific plans for the future. Getting to England was their main priority. “And there you’ll have to go to work,”: said Mrs. Deeds. “I won’t be cooking and slaving for you.” “I don’t see you doing any cooking or slaving,” said the young man. “Just cadging drinks at the bar. You were drinking with the marker yesterday.” “He was good enough to buy me a drink.” “Next thing you’ll be sleeping with him.” There was a sound of a slap. And then another. They were coming to blows. I turned on my radio. Captain Ramesh had fixed it up for me. I found some music and turned up the volume, drowning out the sounds of battle in the next room. I started exploring. It was a good short-wave set, and I was able to tune in to the rest of the world. The Overseas Service of the BBC. Radio Hilversum. Radio Ceylon. I found a comedy show on the BBC ‘Much – Binding-inthe-Marsh’ – and listened entranced. I was no longer alone.Next morning Mrs. Deeds was in the office, complaining that I had the radio on so loud that she couldn’t sleep. “We’ll give you another room,” said my mother.” Captain Ramesh 68
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will be leaving today.” “Any letters for me?” asked Mrs. Deeds, “Any money-orders?” “Nothing dear. And you’re two weeks behind with the room rent. The owner is getting fidgety.” “What a nightmare!” exclaimed Mrs. Deeds, turning to leave just as Captain Ramesh came in. “I’ll have to look for a job. Only there aren’t any in this one-horse town.” When she had left the room, Captain Ramesh sat down to settle his bill. “Is the radio all right?” he asked. “It’s fine, thanks. I stayed up till twelve. Better than the cinema. If you’re leaving, today I’ll come and see you off.” “I’m taking the night train to Amritsar. It leaves at eleven. Isn’t that too late for you?” “It’s just twenty minutes from the station. Can I go, mum?” “I’ll arrange with Bansi to bring his tonga,” she said “You can come back with him.” That was till the tonga era in Dehra. You don’t see them around any more, except in the countryside. The one-pony carriage proceeds at a leisurely pace. One passenger can sit beside the driver, two in the sloping seat at the back. If you’re in the backseat you have to make sure you don’t slip off. If you’re in the front seat, you have to put up with the pony raising its tail from time to time and farting in your face. And they could defecate while on the trot. Dehra had more than
three hundred tongas, so there was always work for the street cleaners. There were just a few cars in Dehra then. No complaints about petrol or diesel fumes. But the smell of horse-dung can be equally stupefying. Sometimes nostalgia can be too selective. Captain Ramesh gave me tea at Kwality. Chicken patties, pastries, lemon tarts – anything I wanted. “When will you come again?” I asked, my mouth full of pastry. “Can’t say,” he said, “depends on where I’m posted.” “But you will come again,” I said anxiously. “Surely, surely. You’ve been a friend. Great company. And I like your mother and the hotel and this town. Small towns suit me when I want a change.” That evening the Captain stood everyone drinks and presented Mrs. Deeds with a bottle of Carew’s gin. Tirloki recieved a handsome tip. Things were up at Green’s Hotel! Bansi arrived in his tonga at ten o’clock, and I helped Captain Ramesh carry his suitcase and travelling bag. The suitcases were pretty heavy. “I’ll take the suitcase,” said the Captain. “It’s too heavy for you.” And at the station he wouldn’t let the coolie’s touch it. When he had settled down in his first-class compartment, I stood on the platform and wished him luck. “I’ll need it,” he said. As the train began moving, he
While I was at the station, seeing off Captain Ramesh, Mrs. Deeds had taken a stroll in the wilderness that passed for a garden, and had fallen over a body that lay sprawled on the grassy verge.
put out his hand and took mine. It was the first time he had taken my hand. His grasp was gentle, but he had a large hand, capable of exerting considerable pressure. Bansi chattered away as he took me home. He was in a good mood. Captain Ramesh had given him a hundred rupee note – a week’s income! When we reached the hotel, all the lights were on, people were running about, and a police jeep stood in the driveway. My mother was in her dressing gown, standing outside the office. “Looks like trouble,” said Bansi, as he helped me down from the front seat. It was trouble. While I was at the station, seeing off Captain Ramesh, Mrs. Deeds had taken a stroll in the wilderness that passed for a garden, and had fallen over a body that lay sprawled on the grassy verge. The light from the hotel verandah’s single bulb was just bright enough for her to make out the features of Mrs. Gupta. Eyes bulging, tongue protruding, throat lacerated, ears torn, it was the face of someone whose life had been choked out of her by powerful, practical hands. Her necklace had been torn from her throat, rings from her fingers, ear-rings from her ears, bracelets from her wrists. She had been stripped off every gem, every precious metal on her person. Mrs. Deeds staggered to her feet, ran indoors, and had a hysterical fit. The occupants of the bar poured brandy down her throat. Revived, she pointed to the garden. Everyone went out and gaped at the body. More lights came on, my mother was roused, the police sent for. Soon a small crowd had collected in front of Green’s Hotel. That was when I returned form the station. “You’d better go to bed, Ruskin,” said my mother. But I had no intention of going to bed. Nor did anyone else retire
The Inspector produced a photograph from a folder. It wasn’t a good photograph but it bore a faint resemblance to our ‘Captain Ramesh’ and possibly thousands like him. for the night – not until 2 am, by which time the body had been taken away. And next morning the police were all over the place searching the rooms, the grounds; questioning guests and staff. And of course they finally got around to discovering the absent Captain Ramesh; but by then he would have alighted in Amritsar or at some station en-route. Over the next few days, enquiries were set afoot, and policemen were in and out of the hotel and office throughout the day. The Inspector in charge of the case, sitting opposite my mother and drinking innumerable cups of tea, finally started: “There is no Captain Ramesh. It was just an alias. There is no one in the Army who goes by that name or description.” “That makes it difficult to find him,” said my mother. “But are you sure he’s the man who killed Mrs. Gupta – and possibly others?” The Inspector produced a photograph from a folder and handed it to my mother. I peered at it from over her shoulder. It wasn’t a good photograph – in fact it was a copy of a photo that had appeared in the Delhi papers – but it bore a faint resemblance to our ‘Captain Ramesh’ and possibly thousands like him. “A lot of people come and go,” said my mother. “It’s difficult to recall some of them. The young man in this picture has a moustache. The captain was clean-shaven.”
“May have shaved it off,” said the Inspector. “But there’s a resemblance.” “A slight resemblance. Who is he – the man in the photo?” “The Daryaganj Strangler.” We were silent for a minute or two, my mother and I pondering on the fact that we had been on friendly terms with a serial killer. “Well, I hope you catch him,” she said at last. “With all the loot he’s got from his victims, he’ll be far away by now.” “But if it’s a habit or compulsion, he’ll do it again.” The Inspector got up to leave. “Just let me know if you hear anything – if he tries to get in touch with anyone he met here.” After he had gone I sat in the chair he had occupied and said “Not a real captain…But I can’t believe he strangled all those women. He was so friendly and generous.” “Even paid Mrs. Deeds’ bill before he left. Didn’t tell her. Just settled her account….” As we spoke, Bansi’s tonga drew up. Presently Mrs. Deeds and son climbed into it, followed by suitcases and bedding rolls. “The hotel must be empty,” I said. “Almost.” It took a few weeks for the hotel to recover from the trauma of Mrs. Gupta’s murder, and by that time I was back in my boarding-school in Shimla. December 2010 │eclectic times │ 69
Ribhu Borphukon takes a look back on a couple of eyepopping ways of protest as an extreme manifestation of the voice of remonstration.
issident voices are always cringing to be heard in any society - be it against a malicious law under the guise of a do-gooder or against inhumane treatment towards animals. But when it couples with eye-popping ways of protest, the entire scenario assumes a different significance altogether. It becomes an extreme manifestation of the voice of protest. Even though the ends of the protests would stand at antipodes, the history of ‘why-theprotest-and-the-urgency-to-acton-it-now’ becomes a bare fact.
July 15, 2004, IMPHAL : Demonstration outside the Assam Rifles base to protest the death in custody of 32-year-old Thangjam Manorama. A dozen naked women protesters on the streets. The words ‘rape us’ etched in red on their banners. It is an epilogue of a long-foregone agony, beyond any literature of idioms. It was in 2004, as newspapers 70
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had reported the airs and sights the next day, when around 12 Manipuri women, without any semblance of clothes on them, protested outside the Assam Rifles headquarters in Imphal against the rape and murder of a militant woman, carrying banners which, quite ironically, had the letters in bold – ‘RAPE US’. The wardrobe or rather the minimalism in it and the words that they decided to carry with them to rend the air, marks a strategy that every protester formulates before a demonstration. There are certain spurs-of-moment but the frenzied nocturnal activities before that Dday can be imagined among the protesters. The immediacy of the protest, the events leading up to that particular moment, the broader history of marginalisation and violence, all go into what kind of strategy the protester undertakes. The cannibal violation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act by the security forces in Manipur or elsewhere for more than half a century has seen outrage in a crescendo from all concerned and
affected. There have been cases of human rights violations so great in number that would put the purported ‘rouge states’ to shame. Cases of military picking up citizens for interrogation at random and at will just because they have the power invested in them are the kind of games they play when they are bored. Incursions into households at random and at will on the pretext of search operations always turn into a circus of brutality that they entertain themselves with. Records run high, the unrecords, even higher. And justice remains an inaudible cry through all this. This anger was on the rise, though still channelled through to a pressurised can. The alleged rape and murder of Manorama Devi by Assam Rifles cadres finally blew the lid off that repressed can. Over the years, the injustices were infinite, the atrocities countless and the weight of heaped-up sorrow backbreaking, even for Atlas. Finally, it wasn’t a violent pop but a symbolic sign with a strong dose.
The tormenting stings of pushing the victims of doing something overtly violent, like a mass revolution, didn’t come along but paradoxically, a nonviolent sight of shame. The protest was invited by hardened agony. It was not of resignation to the ordeal. The women deciding to strip naked and protest, hollering to rape them, is a process of shaming the perpetrator and the accomplices. Shaming is in no way justice on books. But at least a moral victory. May 21, 2006, LONDON : Nude PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) activists protest against the Queen’s palace guards’ bearskin hats at Peter’s Hill in central London. Aesthetically and spatially, the PETA-type nude animal rights activism is a different form altogether. The wardrobe is similarly minimal, while the origins and the semantics of protests essentially different. The fonts on the banners would be in a likely shade of red, a la the
modernist style of colour symbolism, a reminder of the drained blood in slaughterhouses. Nudism in protest here becomes a way of life as one threatens to go back to the days before Shame had dawned upon Eden, than wear the hides of animals. Some fashion boutiques stack up their labels with animal remnants, of course the polished and the stitched. Furs to be wrapped around lithe bodies of actors or social dandies. Belts of snake skin or wallets of crocodile skin that men can boast of its exoticism and shine. But when humans are at the top of that evolutionary cycle, why bother with the lesser beings? The fascination and desire to own animal remnants as trophies date back centuries. Heroes of the dark ages or even the previous darker ages would be left alone in the wilderness, as a test of his testosterone-fuelled manliness to conquer or be conquered. The heroism is bestowed upon him on his return, only after he showcases the dead carcass of a ferocious ‘wilderness king’ wrapped around
his neck. He is now deemed fit to conquer men for men. This ritual now lives on in this century, amid certain differences that civility calls for. The protests that are organised by animal activists see a good number of celebrities shedding their clothes, making a visual promise that they would never wear the dead skin of animals for vanity or fashion, even if it meant the sacrifice of ever wearing anything all their lives. This is a promise for the animals they love. Shutterbugs are invited, or rather they prey upon for the need for their materials sold to tabloids for hefty cheques. It is an ostentatious protest, of elevated grandeur of motive. Sometimes it’s a tale of body paint and greenery draped around the protesters, who mostly belong to the fraternity that magazines and tabloids love. Or sometimes, and most of those times, protesters in a state of nature while fighting to preserve nature from the savage fashionable sense of some men. Ribhu Borphukon is a freelance journalist presently based in Guwahati December 2010 │eclectic times │ 71
If you are a smart and socially savvy young professional with a zest for life, then send your photo and details to: editorial@ eclectic.co.in to be the eclectic man of the month.
Your name: Gourango Tamuly Years on earth: 28 Profession: Area Manager City you live in: Golaghat Three words that best describe you: sincere, hardworking, honest Person/Place/Animal/Thing you love most: My mother Person you idolise: My mother What you hate: liars A mantra youâ”‚ live by: Simple living, high thinking â”‚ eclectic times 72 December 2010
THE HUNT BEGINS...
limpses of the runup to the Ponds White Beauty Eclectic Model hunt 2010, during the grooming and choreography sessions. Twenty-ﬁve gorgeous participants underwent the rigourous 12day personality development and grooming programme which was conducted by trainers Loya Agarwala, Agamonee Barbaruah and Kooky Chaliha and choreography by Sandeep Cherian, aided by model Saba. The event, under the banner of Tattva Creations, was held in association with Manik Chand Jewellers and in collaboration with a host of companies such as 92.7 Big FM (radio partner), Rang (TV Partner), VLCC (grooming partner), Outreach (outdoor partner), Sanzz mobile (mobile partner) and Bhabani Digitals (print partner). Watch this space for the exciting results in the next issue of Eclectic Times!
December 2010 │eclectic times │ 73
Mayuri Sharrma is a Mumbai-based professional Tarot Card Reader, Columnist and Freelance Writer.
ARIES ( March 21- April 20) Work: You’re tackling bigger projects and people, and loving the action! Your energy is just right for taking bold achievements and making things happen, even when you are afraid they are impossible. Love: If you’re keeping a secret from your honey, it’s time for it to come out; if you’ve been avoiding an issue, it’s time to stop. A healthy relationship is based on trust and openness. Get started now. Health/Style: You’re in a delightfully extravagant mood. The best part is you know how to indulge in a way that brings long-lasting pleasure, whether it’s a well-made handbag or a bottle of imported and delicious-smelling bath salts. Zodiac Facts: An Aries male will be flattered if you ask him out, as he likes a person who knows what they want. An Aries female admires people who are as direct and uncomplicated as she is.
TAURUS ( April 21- May 21) Work: You need to dispense some advice to those in need - though they may not be receptive! Find creative ways to make your points and you might be able to reach them before it’s too late. Love: Your social energy is blazing right now! You should try hard to make sure that you’re out and about as much as possible, so you can meet all the new people that are sure to filter into your life. Health/Style: Cancel any shopping plans and, instead, see what you can do to make your own wardrobe feel like new. You’ll be amazed at what a little shoe polish, thread and ingenuity can do. Voila! - an instant (free) shopping spree! Zodiac Facts: If a Taurus male knows that you made a special effort to please him, it will bring out the best in him. It pays to impress a Taurus woman, but if you can’t do it by spending lots of money, then at least use your romantic imagination.
GEMINI ( May 22- Jun 21) Work: You need to deal with someone who doesn’t quite get you - but that’s okay. If you can refrain from constantly correcting them, they should start to figure you out pretty soon. Love: Sick of being a party of one? That’s understandable. But keep in mind there’s a lot to be enjoyed when you’re going solo: less wait, less fuss and less expense involved all around. Appreciate what you have. Health/Style: Your already compassionate nature gets a real workout, especially if you head to the gym. A few people you encounter might not exhibit considerate behaviour. Don’t lash out, it’ll make you feel worse, not better. Zodiac Facts: A Gemini male loves finding a person who can match his wit and will spend hours talking with you about nothing and everything. If a Gemini female’s dancing eyes connect with yours, and you see a twinkle in her eyes, this may be a good sign.
CANCER ( Jun 22- July 22) Work: You may want to hold back a bit and see if you can just watch as others go about their business. Your intuitions are strong, and you may come up with a few key insights that can help quite a bit. Love: Stop trying to hide your light under a bushel. Be less of what you think your date wants and be more the ‘you’ that you’ve always known you could be. Whether you realise it or not, you’re even more a darling when you’re daring. Health/Style: Expand your horizons! The time is right to take a dance class, try the line of hair products your stylist recommended or seek the expertise of a new aesthetician. Promise yourself you’ll try something new. Zodiac Facts: Never one to put himself in a position of being rejected, a Cancer male will rarely take the initiative to move forward. A Cancer female’s moods may confuse you at times, but if you help her verbalise her feelings, the relationship will deepen.
LEO ( July 23- Agust 22) Work: It’s time for you to deal with the tiny details of your life or work, even if you’ve been putting them off for weeks. Your mental energy is right for settling accounts and reconciling errors. Love: So this one didn’t work out but, believe it or not, it had nothing to do with you. That sounds funny, but when you think about it, you don’t really know much about this person. So be kind to yourself and let it go. Health/Style: Logging miles on the treadmill or mastering the elliptical isn’t doing it for you anymore. It’s time to find something that makes you really feel the mind-body connection. It’s time to try yoga, swimming or Pilates. Zodiac Facts: A Leo male is all man, and likes to play that part to the nines. It is not so much where you go that is important to a Leo female, but the way she is treated when she is with you.
VIRGO ( Agust 23 - September 21) Work: You need to deal with your ambitions as there’s a lot of good energy to use up, so figure out what you want to do with it and then get busy! It will be easier than ever to make serious progress. Love: The first test of a new romantic relationship is seeing how your sweetie acts in front of your friends. Try not to make it obvious, though. This isn’t really a test, so keep things as low-key as possible. Health/Style: Add a little whimsy to your attire - take a vacation without even leaving your closet. With just a little effort, you might suddenly feel as if you’re roaming the streets of Paris in an oh-so-chic black dress and a jaunty silk scarf. Zodiac Facts: Underneath the complex layers of a Virgo male personality, you will find a sensual man yearning to please you in every way. A Virgo woman is governed by her head first, so it is important to gain her respect before she is ready for anything serious.
CAPRICORN ( December 21 - January 19) Work: You’re not always pushy with your point of view, but now you feel compelled to be just that. You may actually do quite well, as co-workers could be fairly open-minded about it. Love: It’s up to you, so when it comes to the two of you, why not take the initiative sooner rather than later? Go ahead and say what you’ve been dying to say or do what you’ve been longing to do. Health/Style: Open-mindedness is more important now than ever. Lift your ban on makeup and try a hint of blush, or consider a style you’ve always scoffed at. Whatever it is, allow yourself to change your mind about something. Zodiac Facts: Let a Capricorn male decide what you are going to do. This is not a man who is comfortable letting anyone else set the pace. A Capricorn female is not as cool as she may appear, but intimacy is predictably not something she likes to rush into.
LIBRA ( September 22 - October 22) Work: Your ability to get others to do what’s right is key at the moment, and that means that you need to make sure that everyone is lined up and facing the right way. Your service to them is admired. Love: Your love life was zip, and suddenly it’s zap. A new romance unfolds, and it’s as if you’ve never known what love was until now. Let the details slide. It’s hard to be practical when you’re on cloud nine. Health/Style: Did you try and kill two birds with one stone and schedule a gym date with a close friend? This may not be the best time for multitasking. Go solo and your activities will go much more smoothly. Zodiac Facts: A Libra male is more idealistic than realistic and has a problem working on a relationship if it shows signs of conflict. A Libra female may be flirtatious, but if she accepts an offer for a date, you better believe she is interested.
SCORPIO ( October 23 - November 21) Work: You are bursting with good energy, or you should be. If you can’t feel the power, you may need to shake things up at work or in your other routines to ensure that you’re in the right mood to get things done! Love: Take your time. Whoever’s telling you that you have to hurry up and find the love of your life now, is just plain wrong. You have your own agenda. The right person is out there, so don’t settle for second best. Health/Style: You’re not cheap, you’re thrifty and that’s quite a virtue in times like these! Make crafts out of odds and ends, darn those socks or find innovative new ways to use the old! Zodiac Facts: A sensual person will always attract a Scorpio male’s attention, but if a sharp mind is not part of the package, he will soon be leaving. First impressions count with a Scorpio woman, but more than anything she longs for a companion with emotional depth.
SAGITTARIUS ( November 22 - December 20) Work: That brain of yours is good for lots of things, so make the most of it! You should be able to figure out a few new answers to tough questions. You might even drift over into philosophy. Love: What appears to be just a small issue for the two of you deserves a little work. What are the feelings and beliefs that underpin this difference? Talking it out now avoids a bigger problem later. Health/Style: Curb your tendency to be hasty. Doing a proper set of warm-ups and cool-downs before you really get into your exercise routine. It’ll save you a lot of soreness (and prevent injuries) in the long run. Zodiac Facts: A great sense of humour coupled with a playful and fun personality will get a Sagittarius male’s attention. Anything resembling restriction will cause a Sagittarius female to trot away in the opposite direction. www.eclecticmag.com
AQUARIUS ( January 20 - February 18) Work: Your mental energy is a bit fuzzy, but that just means that you need to take a little time off from serious business. It’s a good time for dreaming up future plans. Love: An old flame wants to rekindle that spark, but you know they can’t hold a candle to your present state, and with good reason. What’s past is past. How could it possibly compare to all that you have going on right now? Health/Style: You’re a big believer in going with the flow, but wait a moment before you start adding supplements and vitamins willy-nilly to your current regimen. What if some of them conflict? Check with a health professional first. Zodiac Facts: The best way to get an Aquarius male’s attention is to think as much about others as yourself. An Aquarius female knows instinctively that people are complex and enjoys the process of finding out what makes them tick.
PISCES ( February 19 - March 20) Work: You’ve got the brains to keep pushing in the right direction. You are certainly able to figure out a few key elements of the competition’s strategy for keeping you confused. Love: Not sure if you want to be part of a couple or fly solo? Hang out with a married couple for a day or two - kid optional. Do you feel a sense of longing, or a sense of ‘thank goodness that’s not me’? That should help. Health/Style: Start building any segment of your wardrobe that seems lacking. It’s great that you have a funky hat or a pair of glasses you love, but stylish people deserve to have a variety of options to suit every mood. Zodiac Facts: A Pisces male enjoys opposition because of the challenge it presents, and they’ll go out of their way to meet an obstacle. If you really want to impress a Pisces female, be aesthetically aware and romantic in your approach.
GENRE: MIND, BODY, SPIRIT AUTHOR: RHONDA BYRNE PUBLISHER: SIMON &SCHUSTER UK PRICE: ` 725
If you are one of those who have already made that all-important inner shift in your consciousness to coincide with the shift in the cosmos, then you have understood why it is so important to be in the present moment and be joyful. But if you are new to the process of discovering who you really are, then Rhonda Byrne’s latest offering may just about be the initiation into a world of spiritual exploration. Byrne’s earlier book, The Secret, generated tremendous interest in learning about the laws of the universe and how they affect our lives. With The Power, she takes you to rediscovering the joy that is inherent in all of us, but which we have either forgotten or are simply not even aware of. Though not exactly a path-breaking work, The Power does succeed in causing a thrill to course through you as you turn the pages, in understanding the amazing capacity that we have in creating the life that we want. Much of what is expressed here is a reinforcement of earlier works by leaders in the spiritual movement of the last 40 years. There is nothing really new in it because Byrne is simply packaging the awesome knowledge of a gift that we have been endowed with, of what has always existed ever since Creation began. She talks about the power of the human mind to create a life by design. But her style of presentation and the use of simple language is laudable, spurred on, no doubt, by her desire to “spread joy to all”. For those embarking on a journey towards understanding themselves better or seeking an explanation as to why things happen the way they do, The Power is a good choice. It touches upon the metaphysical, but only just. Its strength lies in its endless possibilities of sowing the seeds in people’s hearts of a search for knowledge based on the universal laws. It makes you pause so you can channelise your thoughts in the direction that they can best serve you. Sprinkled with a fair dose of interesting anecdotes that also characterised her own journey into selfgrowth and expansion, Byrne talks about the power of love and how it can change your life. Definitely a must read! Nazneen Hussain
Jawaharlal Nehru In remembrance of independent India’s first Prime Minister and a dynamic personality, Jawaharlal Nehru, we bring to you a brief review of Glimpses of World History – a book that not only epitomises a father-daughter relationship but also gives the reader an insightful account of civilisations of the world. On New Year’s Day, 1931, Jawaharlal Nehru began a remarkable series of letters on the history of the world to his daughter Indira, then 13-years-old. Over the next 30 months, Nehru wrote nearly 200 letters in this series, which were later published as Glimpses of World History. With its panoramic sweep and its gripping narrative flow, all the more remarkable for being written in prison where Nehru had no recourse to reference books or a library, Glimpses of World History covers the rise and fall of empires and civilisations from Greece and Rome to China and West Asia; great figures such as Ashoka and Chengiz Khan, Gandhi and Lenin; wars and revolutions, democracies and dictatorships. An enduring classic, this book is a dazzling testimony to the breadth of Nehru’s world view, his grasp of the lessons of history, and of the forces and personalities that shape it. Santanu Ganguly
NAME OF THE S.NO. BOOK
Harper Collins India
The Art of Choosing
The 8th Habit
Stephen R. Covey
Simon & Schuster
You Can Sell
Simon & Schuster
Sidney Sheldon’s- Tilly Bagshawe After the darkness
Harper Collins India
Under the Dome
I Can See You
Johnny Gone Down
Harper Collins India
Courtesy: Sohum Shoppe, G S Road 76
times │ December 2010
WHITE PEPPER I
f you want to soothe your frayed nerves after a hectic weekend, and let your mind and senses wander, head for White Pepper, another hip and happening place of fine dining in the city. Started as a venture by Partho Pratim Dutta and wife Dipty Arora Dutta, this tastefully decorated restaurant is barely two months old, but already has a steady flow of diners and full-house weekends. The Zen style decor is minimalistic, earthy and soothing. Candles on the tables and walls add a touch of perfection to the tastefully- done interiors. The manager informed us that the restaurant serves up an immense variety of delicious food – Indian, Chinese and Continental. If you are into mocktails, you may want to start off with a smooth Daisy’s Dream or Princess Margaret, which is bound to leave you thirsting for more! For the main course, apart from its signature dishes of Elaichi Ran (Indian specialty in mutton), Nanking Rice (Chinese) and Mixed Grilled Sizzler (Continental), you can also whet your appetite on the sumptuous bounty of Tandoori Machhi, Meso Chicken and Murg Hyderabadi. For starters, we tried
the crispy fish fingers, which left a wonderfully lingering taste. We also tucked into the Chicken Stroganoff and the Elaichi Ran and, though the former was lip-smacking, the latter was a disappointment due to the mutton being very chewy and sticky. If you want to indulge your senses, head for the watering hole, uncork your favourite drink and let your spirits soar. At weekends, they have live bands playing unplugged, many of which comprise of young, talented musicians. White Pepper, with its wealth of dining options, is just the eatery where you can treat your family to a lavish dinner. Though the prices are a little on the high side, they are compensated by the huge portions that they offer. However, the service was nothing to write home about. All said and done, Guwahatians have the luxury of a place where you have a fine dining option and gracious ambience. If you are a gastronomic, White Pepper is the place to be. Parinita Datta Photo: Himesh Arora
December 2010 │eclectic times │ 77
RAY, A simple account of a 70s Sikkim by one of India’s best-known filmmakers was finally screened publicly in India for the first time, forty years after the Indian government had imposed a ban on it. ET brings you the story of Sikkim, Satyajit Ray’s most soughtafter documentary. The Chobgyal with wife Hope Cooke
times │ December 2010
hen Satyajit Ray decided to make Sikkim in 1971 at the behest of the then Chobgyal of the Sikkim kingdom, Palden Thondup Namgyal, little did he know that the 55-minute-long documentary will be mired in such bureaucratic tangles for so long. Indeed, four decades after being banned by the Indian government, Sikkim was finally screened for the first time in October this year, in the annual Experience festival of the India International Centre, New Delhi. In 1970, when the Chobgyal felt that the Sikkim monarchy was under threat from both China and India, he urged Ray to document Sikkim and its monarchy. Though Ray was not too sure of the project himself, he agreed to do it at the request of the Chogyal’s wife, Hope Cooke, a woman of American origin and an ardent admirer of his work. And so, after his first visit to the place, he was so taken by its culture and uncomplicated people, that he made up his mind to do it. Unfortunately, as Sikkim decided to accede with the Indian democracy in 1975, the Indian government, who was unwilling to offend the Sikkimese people, and in consultation with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), not only banned it in India but also destroyed the original negative of the film. As a double setback, the Chobgyal and his wife, were not too happy with the final print and wanted a few scenes deleted; unfortunately, Sikkim was not really the documentary that Ray had set out to make. But Ray aficionados were not ready to give up. Throughout these years, there had been several attempts at finding a copy of the documentary for restoration. It was common knowledge that the original copy was destroyed. After the accession, Hope Cooke left for New York, taking with her a print of the documentary – and never to come back again. In 1994, Cooke’s print
emerged in the Heffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, Rhode Island. Another print emerged with a private collector, Contemporary Films, in London around 2000. And finally, in 2002 while stock-taking at the Chobgyal’s palace, another copy was discovered. The copyright of this print was later handed over to the Art and Cultural Trust of Sikkim. Once the prints were found, the restoration work on these available prints started. When contacted, Arup Kumar De, CEO, the Society for the Preservation of Satyajit Ray Films revealed that it was Josef Lindner and his team at the Los Angelesbased Academy Film Archive who took on the upheaval task of restoration from the now- dilapidated prints. Once done, Lindner, who has worked on restoration projects on a number of classics like The Sound of Music, Patton and Jean Renoir’s The River, had come to India in 2008 with a restored print of Sikkim, with the hope that it would finally be screened publicly at the Kolkata Film Festival. But permission was denied and the screening was stalled. While some sections of the media claim that the ban was lifted eight years ago, De tells us that he is unsure of such a development and asks, “If the ban had been lifted eight years ago, then why was the screening of Sikkim in the Kolkata Film Festival stalled in 2008? The screening was stalled citing the reason that permission was not granted. I am elated that the documentary is finally out for the world to see.” The Academy Film Archive has restored as many as 19 of Ray’s creations till date. Indrani Mazumdar, Programme Officer at the India International Centre (IIC), is the lady behind the efforts to screen Sikkim publicly in India for the first time, after the ban was lifted. When asked how she managed to get a copy, she reveals “I employed my own sources to get a copy of the documentary. Internationally, the movie had been screened at different festivals. But due to the unavailability of a print, the screening had been delayed here.” Sikkim was screened at the annual festival of the IIC called Experience. “We have been following a nature-based theme for Experience. While last year’s theme was River, this year it is Forests.”
The legengary auteur while filming on location
Sikkim is by no means Ray at his best. But the tribulations the documentary has faced has ensured that cinema enthusiasts now value it much more. Apart from Ray’s inimitable auteurist style, Sikkim also has Ray working on the music and narration with his rich baritone, much to the delight of fans. Critics note that Sikkim also stands out because while all the other Ray documentaries were on people, this is based on a particular place. That Sikkim had to bear the brunt of political pressures is not very characteristically democratic. Jahnu Barua, noted filmmaker, and an ardent Ray admirer, agrees. “I believe that anything made by Ray should not have been stalled in the first place. Filmmaking is a very intensely creative and expressive exercise. It is unfortunate that in our country political decisions can have repercussions on a creative field.” Ray who had come down to see Barua’s Halodhia Chooraye Baodhan Khai will always be remembered by Barua as “a great film-maker and a great inspiration.” Well, for now, we Ray fans simply have a good reason to cheer: after a long hiatus, not only can we revel in a new Ray film, but the eventual release of Sikkim has proven that ultimately, creativity triumphs all odds. Amrita Madhukalya Photos: The Society for the Preservation of Satyajit Ray Films
Stills from Sikkim
December 2010 │eclectic times │ 79
model of the month
Though 22-year-old Nil has been modelling since last year, his real passion is acting. Hailing originally from Bijni in Bongaigaon, this Economics graduate is currently shooting for a megaserial by Rajesh Bhuyan, which will be aired on the tv channel Rang soon. Apart from that, he has also acted for several music videos. Though acting is his main passion, he is also a great movie buff. In the future, he wants to establish himself as a successful actor. Height: 5â€™10â€? Photographs: Anup Baruah
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ROCKET ECLECTIC 2011
When the midnight chimes strike and the countdown into 2011 begins, it’s the perfect time to resolve on how we can become better versions of ourselves.… So here we go! TEN…NINE…EIGHT...
TANU I will train ‘my little grey cells’ to be more vigilant during conversations, discussions etc and to constantly assist me by reminding me about things on my TO DO list. As soon as I can accomplish to transform the above goal in to action, the others will automatically follow, I believe... PRASHANTA Get up early in the mornings, go to bed early at night, spend more time at home and … reduce those late night highway parties! KOUSHIK Get rid of periodic ‘slothness’. Learn how to say ‘No’ rather than ‘I’ll let you know.’ Re-load and refurbish my stock of humour and PJs. NAZNEEN EAT: All those sinful pastries, cakes, chocolates and cheesy sandwiches, everything that’s yummy. PRAY: That all the sinful stuff that I’ve put in my tummy doesn’t show up on an expanding waistline! LOVE: Myself and my body enough to go on a brisk walk every morning to shed all the sinful indulgence! MADHUSMITA For the coming year, I resolve to take life a little more stress-free. Maybe, I’ll party more and end my hectic week-days with a fine ending. I hope to do some more good work in the future. MONJARI To be very frank, I have never made any resolutions but this time my first resolution is to make a New
times │ December 2010
Year resolution! I want to learn something new, experience something new, in short, to start up the new year with a fresh beginning… DIPANKAR I think, for the New Year, I will try and pay more attention to my work and lay my eyes off PYTs (pretty young things). Also, I intend to let go of good old beer and upgrade to finer things in life such as wine, champagne and brandy. LOYA To laugh only when I get the joke, not otherwise. To convince myself that being fat is merely a reflection of fine living. To stop pretending I’m hip and trendy and accept I’m simply an old-fashioned prude. To try to age gracefully whilst keeping myself menacingly, mentally young! HIMAKSHI I’ll talk less and eat more. Even if I eat more, I won’t worry so much. But I’ll lose weight because other people think I need to tame the bulge. So I’ll cut down on junk food and munch on a carrot and quietly cry. Then I’ll again put on weight because the same people would think I was better earlier. Finally, I’ll stop considering those people’s opinions who so obviously don’t consider mine! POOJA I resolve to learn driving in the New Year. Seeing almost every second woman I know get behind the wheels and zoom around the city, I have finally made up my mind that in 2011 I will make driving my ‘slave’ forever.