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February 2011 • Vol - I • Issue - 5

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NE TRAIL

“Suddenly out of the bushes emerged a huge….” Find out what Rupkamal Sarma saw at the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park! PANACHE

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UP CLOSE

After doing the nation proud at the CWG, tennis ace Somdev Devvarman rallies up a great têteà-tête with ET! 17 OPEN FORUM Readers respond to the surge in price of essential commodities

V-DAY SPECIAL 22

ET probes the love life of a Drag Queen in this candid, no-holds-barred account

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Christopher Corbin on how love, trust and understanding helped to bridge the differences with Rosaline, his Khasi wife of 46 years

26 HERITAGE Reflecting the epitome of love, wander through the erotic sculptures of Madan Kamdev

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A look into the Kirameki SpringSummer 2011 collection

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ET checks out designer Monimala Mahanta Ahmed’s latest collection

50 HOLIDAY Witness a shimmering Shimla at dusk, with Ikramul Hussain

53 VIEWPOINT “Does the super-class realise the existence of those on the lowest rungs of survival?” asks Prerana Chaudhury

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Trade Enquries: Damro International Tel +91 11 2208 3971 Fax: +91 11 2207 1810 Email: damro.int@gmail.com


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NE PRIDE Charismatic literatteur and Jnanpith awardee Dr. Indira Goswami reveals how her love story with writing began 53 VIEWPOINT “Does the super-class realise the existence of those on the lowest rungs of survival?” asks Prerana Chaudhury

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PALATE

Chocolate and Love – the perfect combo this Valentine’s Day with recipes from Laju Bhuyan

REGULARS 10 EVENT DIARY 25 THE ECLECTIC MAN 29 THE ECLECTIC LADY

64 AT LEISURE Laugh yourself silly in this hilarious piece by Geetima Das Krishna

54 SHRINK YOUR HEAD 75 BOOK SHELF

70 CONNECTING LIVES Meet D Udaya Kumar, the brain behind the new rupee sign

72 SOCIAL SENSE Are Indians becoming bolder when it comes to Public Display of Affection, such as the humble kiss in the park? Here’s the crossfire

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76 TAROT SCOPE 78 THE REEL 79 DINE OUT 80 MODEL OF THE MONTH 82 UNTIL MARCH


 CHAIRMAN

Parama Hazarika

EDITORIAL managing editor Tanushree Hazarika tanu@eclectic.co.in

associate editor Loya Agarwala business editor Rajat Agarwal contributing editor Nazneen Hussain content supervisor Himakshi Goswami

CREATIVES senior layout artist Madhusmita Das art supervisor Dipankar Saikia

ADMINISTRATION director Bibha Hazarika administrative officer Prasanta Talukdar deputy admin officer Monjari Mahanta

AD SALES & MARKETING manager marketing Koushik Hazarika +91 99575-62510 ● ads@eclectic.co.in manager communications Pooja Barkataky bangalore +91 88925-05002 ● ads.bangalore@eclectic.co.in delhi – ads.delhi@eclectic.co.in kolkata – Abhijit Sahu +91 98310-61511 ● ads.kolkata@eclectic.co.in mumbai – Mousumi Moitra +91 98195-79758 ● mousumi.m@eclectic.co.in CONTACT US

head office

Eclectic Times • Saraswati Market • 2nd Floor Above SBI • Six Mile Branch • Suruj Nagar G.S. Road • Guwahati Assam • India • Pin: 781022 landline +91-361-222 94 44

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website www.eclecticmag.com Besides the Northeast, we are now available in Bangalore too. Distributed By: IBH Books & Magazines Distributors Pvt.Ltd 5th Main Road, Gandhinagar, Bangalore-560009 Edited, printed and published by Tanushree Hazarika on behalf of Eclectic Media Enterprises Pvt. Ltd, Eclectic House; 34, PB Road, Rehabari, Guwahati - 781008. Printed at Swapna Printing Works Private Limited Doltala, Doharia, P.O.- Ganga Nagar, Dist- North 24 Paraganas, Kolkata- 700 132 Design © Tattva Creations Pvt. Ltd Copyright © 2011. All rights reserved throughout the world. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is strictly prohibited. Every effort has been made to contact copyright holders. The publishers apologise for any omissions, which they will be pleased to rectify at the earliest opportunity. The views expressed in this magazine are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the editor.

TAKE A CHANCE

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t is said that life is all about decisions. This made me ponder: can we actually pre-decide and plan our future at all? For how many of us do the sketched-out ideas of today, work out into accomplished goals of tomorrow? Whilst we are in school, most of our activities are determined for us; hence, there is limited room for making choices. The moment we tread further – be it college, careers, marriage, etc. – our tryst with the decision-making process takes place. Do the choices that we make at various points in time always materialise to be enduringly satisfying? I have often come across students who regret their choice of subjects in college and even working professionals who never stop lamenting about their jobs; I wonder, why is life taken as a struggle full of ‘rights’ and ‘wrongs’? Why do many understand it to be just a straight road, with no bifurcations? Rather, why can’t we recognise life as an experiment, as a process of trial and error? There wouldn’t be any disturbances, if everybody acknowledged one universal fact – yes, the very commonly known statement – Change is the only constant! However, the first stage in reckoning this fact is the awareness that there is a need for change. While you will meet a few who will sulk at the decision of taking up the wrong study-stream, you will also meet many others who will tell you how their life transformed after embracing another course. Similarly, you will find many, who will switch to careers, completely on the other side of the spectrum; for example, I met a banker who chose to become a painter and is very content with the alteration. Besides, there are definitely geographical, economic, cultural, familial, etc. factors that do impact our individual choices. Change is, therefore, not just an essential part of our regular lifestyles; it is the mantra for survival amidst all challenges. With this thought, let’s welcome the Valentine month with a hope to love life with all its changes. Strongly reinforcing the idea is our featured lady this issue, Mamoni Raisom Goswami, who has continued to love and live life in all its zest, in spite of a series of disheartening events which could not undermine her spirit. Besides our eclectic range of articles, we bring you, as our cover story, Somdev Devvarman – a young boy in love with his tennis racket. We also have a few more unique features, saluting Valentine’s Day. Happy Reading!

Tanushree


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WRITE TO US AT: ET MAILBOX, ECLECTIC TIMES, SARASWATI MARKET, 2ND FLOOR, ABOVE SBI, SIX MILE BRANCH, G.S. ROAD, GUWAHATI - 781022 OR MAIL US AT: editorial@eclectic.co.in, OR SMS US AT: +91 96780-85012

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positive vibe about north-east India which most of the people from outside are not aware of. Good job and good luck guys! Rashid Ahmed, Bangalore Thanks Rashid. Keep checking out for the upcoming issues.

ich as silk, smooth as satin, yet as hard as steel and as brilliant as sapphire. These are what unerringly describe Madhureema Lahkar Banikya. I was astonished by her saga of courage and it amazes me how high she flew with a loft on her wings of grit. “Against the Odds” is one of the best write-up any magazine has ever featured. Kudos ET! Samin Syeda Sultana, Golaghat We agree with you. One hardly comes across people like her all the time.

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he Viewpoint piece was quite an energetic read (ET January 2011). And truly, at this juncture of our democracy, where it’s ideals means pocketing public funds by those in power, it is imperative for the common man to feel enraged and hence try to bring about changes in the system. It is difficult, but no revolution in this world is easy. It is time to bring back what transparency in governance actually means.

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he photographs of Hornbill Festival (ET, January 2011) was really awesome. It’s very rare that one comes across a magazine that touches every aspect of life and is so genuine. ET truly stands out!

January 201

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Brandon Yepthomi, Mokokchung We’re glad to know that. Generating awareness can always be a first step towards change.

Mahesh Chettri, Diphu Hornbill is an awesome festival in itself. It’s great to know that a festival of its stature is celebrated in the Northeast.

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t was from a colleague that I first came across Eclectic Times, and I must say I was awestruck! It’s undoubtedly at par with any national magazine. The magazine gives out a strong

LETTER OF THE MONTH Eclectic Times has truly matured over the years. I’ve been following this magazine for the past couple of years and kudos to the team for bringing out exciting stuff in every issue. North-east India has always lacked good quality magazines, but now ET can definitely answer to all those calls for such a magazine. I’m sure in the next couple of years ET will be able to stand among the top-ranked magazines in the country. And I’d loyally follow ET towards that! Good luck! Munmi Phukan, Guwahati Thanks Munmi! It is through your constant encouragement and support that we’ve been able to come this far.

Munmi’s letter is adjudged the Letter of the Month and she will receive a Free 1-year subscription of

eclectic times

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loved the story on Kokrajhar (ET Jan 2011). It was a good image makeover for a place that is always synonymous with insurgency and violence. I also liked the photo feature on the Hornbill Festival. I guess even if the camera gets tired, the Northeast will never exhaust of her ‘picture perfect’ moments. Kanya Mohillary, Silchar You are so true! We’re doing our might to capture as much as we can.


event diary

  The East auditions for the Pantaloons Femina Miss India East 2011 saw a line of beauties vying for the coveted shortlisted spots. Seven contestants including the top 3, will compete at the semi-final round to be held in Kolkata.

Tanushree Hazarika, Managing Editor, Eclectic Publications – “Guwahati has its own charm and has always thrown surprises. We received rave response from girls all across the city. PFMI is the perfect platform for the girls to make a mark on the global map. We have assessed each girl on the pre-requisite criteria and have shortlisted the well deserving candidates. I wish all the participants the very best and hope that they make India proud.”

 Jettwings Institute of Airlines Hospitality Tourism & Management, Guwahati, held its annual convocation at the Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra Auditorium.

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event diary

f

Sattriya dancers perform at Kalakshetra during the Evening of Sattriya Nritya organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations at Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra Auditorium.

e Anup Kr. Sarma and Mohan Bhuyan exhibited their drawings and paintings at the State Art Gallery, Guwahati.

d Nissar Parvez wins the Best Director Award at the 10th Indian Telly Awards. The award is in recognition for his exceptional direction for the show Geet – Hui Sabse Parayi which currently airs on Star One.

c 

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In an expansion move, Turtle (a company associated with formal, casual and party wear for men) has announced the launch of their store in Nagaon. Shitanshu Jhunjhunwalla, Director, Turtle Limited - “The expansion in Assam is primarily aimed at increasing job opportunities in the state. Our present stores have received an overwhelming response, which has further prompted us to expand here.”


event diary

e Ramayani scholar Keshada Mahanta and Bodo writer Arabinda Uzir have been selected for the Sahitya Akademi Award 2010. Keshada Mahanta has been selected for his collection of selected writings Axomiya Ramayani Xahitya while Arabinda Uzir has been selected for the award for his collection of poems Soudouboni Souler.

d  The ninth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas was held with a special focus on north-east India. The event was organised in partnership with the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) and the respective state governments.

  The Bamboo Technology Park, to be commissioned in two years, is expected to earn investments worth more than Rs 200 crore in the future. State-of-the-art facilities and 24 industrial outfits will be included in the complex.

f  The newly formed United Sikkim Football Club is all set to revolutionise the football scene in the region. Bhutia has already sought permission from AIFF to allow the club in the second division of I-League and has already signed 20 players.

c 

A new film Love@Sikkim.com is all set to showcase the yet unseen beauty of Sikkim. The film is directed by Uttam Paul and will feature songs by some eminent Bengali singers. 14

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 Ipsi Basar became the first girl from Arunachal Pradesh to be conferred the National Bravery Award 2011 on Republic Day. She was recognised for her courage shown while saving a 70-year-old woman and a 4-year-old girl from a fire.


event diary

 Hindustan Unilever Limited conducted SPLASH – the trade meet for celebrating the performance of the Facewash category in Gauhati Town Club. Over 250 people turned up for this family event, whose highlights were Ravindra Upadhyay’s performance and the grand prize distribution ceremony. Facewashes have gained momentum recently as people have realised that soap leaves the facial skin

dry after washing, and facewashes are mild on the skin. HUL is a leading player in this category with brands like Ponds and Pears. They have recently launched the Lakme Fruit Blast range that has fruit pulp and has become very popular among women.

  Anup Hazarika’s Assamese adaptation of Habib Tanvir’s Charandas Chor, staged during National School of Drama’s 11th Theatre Utsav.

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open forum

Our readers respond to our last month's question:

“What do you think of the

government’s failure in stalling the spiralling price rise of essential commodities?

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he market is on fire and there has been a meteoric rise in the price of kitchen essentials – whether it be vegetables, fruits, milk or sugar; and onions are literally bringing tears to people’s eyes. Things have come to such a pass that the lower middle-class segment of the society is struggling to bring food to the table. Pulses, which were once considered to be poor man’s food, can hardly be afforded by the poorer sections of the society today. The government has finally pressed the panic button with food inflation jumping to 18.32 per cent in December 2010. But what was it doing so long? Why did it allow the situation to spin out of control? The government has woken up to the situation very late. It has asked state governments to ease the supply bottlenecks and has decided to crack down on profiteering – steps which it should have taken long back. The Centre should have stopped the export of onions long back, besides cuts in subsidies of fertiliser, power and food rates. Sharad Pawar may talk of the rains playing truant, but the plain fact is that the UPA-II government has miserably failed in curbing price rise due to its myopic policies. Charulata Thokchom, Imphal

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s a middle-class consumer, the blow of the rising prices of essential goods has been pretty hard on us. Prices of food items, vegetables and fruits, have skyrocketed tremendously despite it being the winter months, when they should have ideally gone down; as fruits and vegetables are in plentiful supply. I believe this is basically due to the existing disparity between retail and wholesale prices of agro-products that common people like us are suffering. The failure of the Indian government in carrying out proper policies, enabling growers to procure fertilisers, manures and good quality of seeds at subsidised rates, has rendered them helpless in making the production of agro-products available at reasonable rates. The export policy has also affected easy supply of consumer goods in the internal market, on the basis of production and distribution. But I guess we have to agree that we are equally responsible for the government’s failure since it is, after all, chosen by virtue of our own votes!

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rice rise is the ultimate accelerator in increasing our forehead wrinkles. And yes, the government alone, stands responsible for this sky high rise. There might be other factors like global production figures, import-export equations, inflation-deflation rates, but seriously, as a common man, do I need to understand that? I really don’t care as I have, along with other millions, voted this government to power so that the government keeps us alive at a nominal rate. But when that fails, it’s again the common man who has to bear the brunt. Needless to say, it’s highly atrocious – even veering on the lines of economic genocide! It’s time the government takes corrective measures, so that the common man can breathe and eat at an affordable price. Bhaskar Gogoi, Dibrugarh

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believe that the whole idea behind the price rise is somewhere connected to the slack in the government. It’s almost taken for granted that prices of any kind, be it auto fares or a kilo of vegetables, are exorbitant; and you have to spill your pocket no matter how much you argue. Even if we compare the discrepancy nationwide, the gulf between the Northeast and the rest of India is bigger. I mean, if neighbouring states like Orissa or West Bengal can afford lesser rates, it gives food for thought that the state government is not wading the economic waters enough to find out how the dynamics of prices work out by the time products reach us. I guess we have all taken a laid-back attitude towards this too. The reality remains limited to newspaper headlines and tea-time discussions, only to die down later. Though it looks pretty crude to us, maybe we have to come down to road blocks and communal fasting to bring the whole drama to books! Else, the government will easily sink back into its armchair and forget our woes till the next big anchor story. John Lyngdoh, Shillong

Chayanika Goswami, Guwahati February 2011 │eclectic times │ 17


NE trail

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FIESTA

How does a face to face encounter with a wild buffalo, a gibbon or even a tiger suit you? Well, if you’re game and gutsy, the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park is the place to be, says Rupkamal Sarma

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f you ever happen to be in the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park on foot, here are two reasons why you shouldn’t approach a wild buffalo on a muddy island for that perfect Kodak moment: one, the chances of the buffalo not taking kindly to your photo op are quite high and two, you can’t run on mud – but the buffalo can! Point taken, I hope. But, of course, if you are ignorant and handicapped with one of those stylish-looking random mega pixel cameras (like I was), be my guest. In case, you are still alive after that, here are some pointers towards spending your time there. Dibru-Saikhowa National Park is one of the five national parks of 18

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Assam, one of the 14 biosphere reserves in India and one of the 34 hotspots in the world; it is also perhaps the only river island national park in the country. It provides eye-soothing sights of migratory and rare endangered birds, the wild feral horse, the Hoolock Gibbon and the river dolphin, among other delights. The park is also a bird watchers’ paradise and so, first on the itinerary of the tourist, must be the MaguriMotapung Beel. The lake, which has six villages strewn on either side of it, is classified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) and is host to 374 different species of birds, out of which 50 are migratory. Boat rides

are available to tourists as part of a package tour (where they can stay in the nearby cottages) or they can be availed individually too. Bird and man co-exist harmoniously on the lake. Fishermen busy at work, set jengs to capture fish, and hundreds of birds glide smoothly on the still waters of the lake; each in their own domain and completely unmindful of each other’s business. Time seems to be an alien concept here.

Jeng: Jengs are a mass of water hyacinths put together by fishermen to capture fish. They are made stationary by putting in bamboo spikes in them.


The only occasional disturbance is the advent of boatloads of tourists who attempt to get close to the seemingly-still birds. My furtive attempts to get close to the birds were unfortunately not considered furtive enough by them, as they made it a point to fly away, as soon as the boat neared them. Of course, my non-digital SLR camera didn’t help matters. For the romantics amongst you, the Ruddy Shelduck, locally known as sakoi sokuwa or ram kong will strike a chord. It is said that the two ducks are always together, and if one of them gets killed, the other starves itself to death. The rows of open-billed storks (locally known as hamuk bhonga) also made a

unlike any protected sanctuary, they are regarded as almost divine by the locals and can be found in the villages itself, where they live in the coconut or betel nut trees in the fields adjacent to the houses. My guide for the trip was Sontu, a multitasking teenager, whose resume included the skills of boatman, cook, jungle guide and driver, all rolled into one. I was impressed. My quest for finding Hoolock Gibbons ended quite surprisingly and prematurely as we saw a group of six testosteronecharged gibbons indulging in an early morning feast of bananas left for them by some friendly villagers. Next on the itinerary was a 15-

ACCOMMODATION: Advance booking can get you an accommodation at the Gujjan Forest Inspection Bungalow. Else, you can stay in the private hotels in Tinsukia like Hotel Highway and Center Point Tower near the railway station. BEST TIME TO VISIT: Dibru-Saikhowa enjoys hot summers and cool winters but November to April remains the best time to visit the sanctuary. pretty sight, but again, the lack of a telephoto lens weighed against me: Moral of the story: carry a pair of binoculars and a camera with a telephoto lens, if you want to capture your encounters with the birds. The Hoolock Gibbons, which are an endangered species, are yet another example of the harmonious relationship between man and animal. In India, Hoolock Gibbons are the second largest among gibbons and their habitat is confined to the Northeast. However,

which had been devoured by the floods of the river. Since the walk to the Kekjori trees is basically a cow trail which leads farther and farther into the forest, I would not advise little parents to drag their young ones along with them. On the way, you will encounter lot of salix trees, the wood of which is used to make cricket bats. If you happen to visit during the monsoons, walking this stretch is not necessary as the boats go right up to the trees. Dusk was falling as we were returning from the trip and the sight of the small thickets and the friendly tinkering bells of the cows made me forget that I was in the midst of

Photo: Wave Ecotourism

minute boat ride to an island in the middle of the Brahmaputra, plus a half an hour walk to see the Kekjori trees. These unique trees bear a resemblance to the mangroves of the Sundarbans, on account of their hanging branches and intertwined roots, which gave the appearance of tightly-knitted coconut husk. In fact, the biggest of these trees can take up more than 3 bighas of land. Unfortunately, the ugly signs of environmental disaster were evident as the trees dangled precariously on the edge of the soil,

a forest, even though a small one. I was about to be reminded. Sontu and I were talking about the benefits of walking and, as is my habit, I was walking with my head down, when suddenly Sontu grabbed my arm and cautioned me to stop. I looked up, absolutely still with anticipation, but there was nothing in sight. Suddenly, out of the bushes, emerged a huge black buffalo and, behind it, ambled a tiny calf. From a distance, to my untrained eye, it just seemed like a domestic buffalo but there was February 2011 │eclectic times │ 19


Photo: Wave Ecotourism

something forbidding about its size. We stopped in our tracks and watched them melt into the thickets. Sontu cautioned that it was best not to cross paths with them especially, when a mother is with her calf. After seeing the buffalo, I queried Sontu about tigers, to which he casually replied, “Yes, tigers are there and they do roam around but they are alright, they won’t trouble you.” So, there it was, just a simple matter of a tiger roaming around in the open, like we have stray dogs in the neighbourhood: the friendly neighbourhood tiger. My respect for Sontu grew. On the final afternoon of my stay in Dibru-Saikhowa, we set out in quest of the river dolphin. Unlike other aquatic creatures, dolphins are friendly towards humans and do not disappear when they sense that humans are nearby. My guides quickly pointed out earlier, there were some ‘fixed spots’ in the river where dolphin sighting was almost guaranteed, but due to environmental hazards, the chances had reduced. The sun was just beginning its descent and no other boats or birds were to be seen; we had the entire river to ourselves. Time seemed to be of no essence. We passed a group of Open Billed storks huddled together on the edge of a sand bank. Unmindful of our boat, they were motionless and seemed to be 20

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HOW TO REACH THE PARK: • The nearest airport to the park is at Dibrugarh, which is located at a distance of 40 km from Tinsukia. • The nearest railway station is also at Dibrugarh which is linked with Guwahati by a broad gauge. • Tinsukia is the nearest town which is about 10 km and 50 km away from Gujjan and Dhola entry points, respectively. You can take buses, auto-rickshaws and taxis from Tinsukia. • Guijan Ghat and Saikhowa Ghat are the two entry points for tourists. meditating in the evening sunset. A solitary snake bird looked like it was staring into the sunset. The sense of timelessness seems to have caught on to the birds too. The tranquility was broken when we suddenly saw a motor boat coming towards us, with a load of water hyacinth bundles. Two men were perched atop the corrugated roof of the boat and one of them signalled with a wave of the hand. Sontu nodded and then the man held up two fingers in the victory sign. That was it. Two dolphins had been spotted somewhere ahead. Though we were filled with fresh enthusiasm, our joy was short-lived. After another 15 minutes of gliding

on the waters, we decided to call the trip off and returned. For a man in a hurry, DibruSaikhowa is not the ideal place. Everything about the place – and the Brahmaputra – seems to be becalming. Some places even remained unexplored. The trip to see wild feral horses requires a day’s journey on boat from Guijan, and so does Laika, the village inhabited by people of the Mising tribe where tourists can stay over for the night. Go with time on your hands and let the Brahmaputra guide you. You will come back a slower and calmer person. The author is a freelance writer, based in Guwahati.


Hemant Choraria (Director)

A

s a producer of ladies innerwear, Damro International has been successful in making a considerable mark in the industry. Putting all its efforts into lingerie production has been quite profitable for the company, as the brand already has a strong foothold in Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa, and has also successfully made its way into the lingerie market of north-east Indian states like Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur and Tripura. Meanwhile, the company has been able to make a niche for itself in West and South India. The company’s distributors have also been providing its products to the retailers and agents of southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. At the same time, there has been a steady increase in the marketing graph of Gujarat and Maharashtra. Hemant Choraria, Director, Damro International, has been a key contributor in the growth of the company. It is because of his hard work and foresightedness that he has been able to bring the company to its present level of success. The company is strengthened by a group of skilled and hardworking workers. Damro has also been successful in increasing its output from 2500 to 3000 pieces per day and has never compromised on quality. Top quality cotton yarn, elastic, lace, ring and fabric are used to produce its products, because of which there has never been any complaint about Damro products in the market. While the raw materials are bought from the best dealers of Delhi, Surat and Mumbai, a lot of attention is paid to the finishing (cutting, stitching, moulding and packaging) of the product too. To this effect, highly efficient and modern, manuals and machinery are imported from technically developed countries like Korea, Japan and China. Damro International also produces fancy or designer lingerie, available in the range of R 175-350 per set and has a great demand among consumers. The Damro New Golden Bra has a variety of products available in the market, among which T-shirt bra, plus size bra and designer bras have the greatest demand. Each of these pieces is rated between R 59 to R 158. The company also produces kids’ wear which is soft and eco-friendly. Damro produces high-quality panties made with knitted fabric, priced between R 68-158 per piece. The company also produces slips in the range of R 80 –R 180, while tights and slacks can be found priced between R 123–R 350 per piece.

February 2011 │eclectic times │ 21


v-day special

THE LOVE-LIFE OF

A QUEEN

A

colonial appendix called Section 377 and the stringent moral gaze of the society has relegated them to a sphere outside the ‘normal’. Over time, in spite of being different, they have come out and tried to adapt themselves among the rest. This is one of their stories

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“I

’m a Queen and I’m desirable,” he says with the same elegance and confidence that any other beautiful girl would say. The cigarette is in its glory, traces of ash trickling away with every pull and puff, while the smoke threads softly on its own tunes from across the bar to the

dance floor. “This is where we let ourselves loose. The music and the drinks and the whole permissible character of this place make us feel at home.” “There are straight guys who run after us and – not to forget – the married ones, but the treatment is the same: a couple of grand in return for some pleasure,” comes a straight, unabashed admission. James is in his thirties. His dragqueen make-up is heavy. His false eyelashes curl up north like a Monet brush stroke. His cheeks and eyeshadow make a bright and colourful playfulness together. “They usually look for some pleasure for a night.” There is a void, he admits. “Being someone who is born a boy and

now lives like a girl, and is attracted towards men, is someone people find hard to love. At my work, even if I show any sort of likeness for any guy, far from any romantic ambition, they usually think that I want them in my bed. But the girls are usually supportive, though some still ask me to mend my ways.” Insecurity creates that watchman in them. The

“Being someone who is born a boy and now lives like a girl, and is attracted towards men, is someone people find hard to love.”

streets are even meaner. “I have gotten used to it. There will be jeers and hoots and those unending stares.” He has come a long way. “I walk without a care now.” ‘Homosexuality’ and ‘dragqueens’ are words which are unheard in a village in Assam from which he belongs. And, even when he was growing up, it was still an

alien concept in the cities; true to have any familial norms attached to it. There were no suggestions about it, out in the open; only clandestine performances within closed doors. “My mother today still wants me to get married to a girl. They can’t get over the fact that I like men. Every time I visit home, everyone in the family makes it a point to rebuke me about the way I dress and I act. They all want me to be what a guy would be like.” The Assamese New Year always had a special meaning for his identity. When the Bihu troupes visit different homes, dancing to the beats of the dhol from courtyard to courtyard, with dancers clad in muga silk twisting to the seductive tunes of the pepa, he is often February 2011 │eclectic times │ 23


It was only within the fast-paced life of corporate jobs and urban snobbery that he discovered that he wasn’t alone in the world. reminded of his childhood. “As a kid I used to dress myself in mekhela chador like a girl, and dance from house to house during Bihu. I think getting dressed up for Bihu with all the jewellery and kopou flower on my fake hair bun, was the most exciting thing that happened to me,” he speaks fondly. “I always felt that I was a girl trapped in a boy’s body. And dressing in girl’s clothes was the only way I could make myself feel like me.” In the beginning, it was amusing for everyone. But later, it became a sight for tut-tuts. They didn’t like a teenage boy dressed in skirts and tops.” The redemptive move for him was when he moved to the city. It was only within the fast-paced life of corporate jobs and urban snobbery that he discovered that he wasn’t alone in the world. “Until then, I thought I was the only queer one.” “I make a decent living and have actually helped out a couple of my people. I have helped out a few of my own professionally, let them stay at my place and actually cared for 24

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them. So I know that I’m capable of love.” But for him, it has been love abused and unrequited. “The first sexual awakening came to me when I was not even 10 years old. It was with the lure of biscuits that my uncle had sex with me. At that time I knew that I liked the sensation of making love to a man. I didn’t know that I was abused.” But that gave way to more sexual relations with other boys in the village. “The guys from my village used to make love to me. And one day, my mother caught me with another guy in bed.” The aftermath was that, it was given the silent treatment like every other stigmatised topic. Everything was wiped out with all convenience, that the prudishness of the eighties, in a village in Assam demanded. “But I continued my affairs. It was normal for me.” His life didn’t always have an absence of love. “I was immature then. I was just 13 and an 18-yearold boy fell in love with me. He thought he was old enough to know how things worked. I thought I was

old enough to be in something called love. So we decided to get married. That was the single bliss in my love life so far.” Just when he pictured a rosy love story moving into reality, everything just broke down. Love was taken away from him immediately, resulting in tears, once everyone came to know of the secret pact between two boys of wanting to get married to each other. Instantly, the ‘adult’ in this story was taken away. He was married off to a girl after that. The next cigarette’s tip was quickening to its ember glory matching his lip colour, the same colour that he liked wearing since he was a kid. Even if you were not in a vocal vacuum, if you tried hard enough to distill all the heavy beats of the DJ and the chatter of young girls in the next booth, you could still hear the crackling of the burning cigarette, telling its own story. (Names have been changed to protect identity) Words: Ribhu Borphukon


the eclectic man

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.

The world knows you as: Pranjal Barua You dropped on earth on: January 7, 1983 You earn your bread as: Creative Designer City you live in: Delhi Three words that reflect your outlook towards life: Caring, Responsible and Adventurous Guilty life indulgences: Late night partying You idolise: Dad Mantra that keeps you rolling in life: Keep climbing February 2011 │eclectic times │ 25


heritage

SENSUALITY IN STONE S

o you thought that eroticism was synonymous with Khajuraho and the Ajanta-Ellora caves in Madhya Pradesh? Think again. We have our very own version of erotic art and sculpture right here in a temple in Assam, barely 40 kms from Guwahati. Situated near Baihata Chariali in Kamrup district, the main temple of Madan Kamdev houses a sculpture of Shiva and his consort, Uma. Buried for ages under thick foliage, archaeologists working on an excavation project chanced upon the ruins of these ancient sculptures dating back to 11th or 12th Century. The discovery, unearthed in 1977, opened up some startling revelations in that there was a striking

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resemblance with the Khajuraho images which were built around the same period. The ruins revealed dozens of temples, made of brick and stone, besides some rare sculptures. Most of the images unearthed are in erotic poses; hence the locals named the temple as Madan Kamdev, especially after Shiva, who also signifies love. Although the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) formally took up the work of excavation in 1986, a clear historical background still remains to be ascertained. According to the ASI (from the artistic perspective), so far, there has been no link to any particular royal family or king. But from the artistic point of view, the works can be traced to the king belonging to the Pala dynasty that ruled Kamrup during 1040-1065 century.

February 2011 │eclectic times │ 27


The scenic beauty of Madan Kamdev attracts visitors, especially during the months of November and February. The well-maintained botanical garden, which houses many medicinal and other plants, draws a big crowd as do the sculptures. So, in the month of love, lose yourself in the intoxicating beauty of sculpted sensuality. Let Madan Kamdev rule your senses! Nazneen Hussain Photos: Himangshu Lahkar

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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.

The world knows you as: Lovita Chaudhury You dropped on earth on: April 19, 1985 You earn your bread as: Illustrator City you live in: Guwahati 3 words that reflect your outlook towards life: Honest, Lovable, Straightforward Guilty life indulgences: Ice-creams (which I can’t resist – even in winter!) You idolise: Rancho (from the movie, 3 Idiots) February 2011 │eclectic times │ 29 Mantra that keeps you rolling in life: Enjoy being a woman


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NE pride

LOVE STORY,



ET attempts to unveil the face behind the awe-inspiring persona of Dr. Indira Goswami

i

f you open the newspapers, chances are that on any given day, you would probably find her photograph gracing the front pages; illuminating the various functions, by her sheer literary weight. Quite understandable, then, if you visualised her home to be adorned with books, awards and citations. Indeed, as your footsteps lead you through the gate and the threshold of Jnanpith Award winner Dr. Indira Goswami, (better known as Mamoni Raisom Goswami), the literary ambience is instantly perceptible — in the rows of endless, innumerable certificates and citations that adorn the wall, arresting your attention as you climb the short flight of stairs that take you to the landing, where you pause, but just enough, to ring the doorbell. Moments later, the two-panelled door opens, and you find yourself face to face with the most highly acclaimed scholar and writer from Assam in recent times. With her kohl-lined, penetrating eyes, lending an aura that is at once enigmatic as it is powerfully sensitive, the large

bindi on her forehead forming an inseparable part of her persona, Goswami is truly an extraordinary woman. From opposing the stigma attached to Hindu widows, to animal sacrifice and choosing to live life on her own terms, Goswami is as much a feminist as a social activist. And she chose the medium of words as a tool to deliver her message. So how and when exactly did she know, or feel, that it would be a lifelong love story with words? “Well, it goes back a long time, you see. When I studied in Pinemount School at Shillong, we had to listen to discourses from the Bible. I remember Muslim and Hindu students were exempted from attending the classes. But my father insisted that I hear what other religious scriptures had to say. That was my introduction to the Bible, and it stirred something in me; it made me thoughtful,” reveals Goswami. And interestingly enough, around this time, when she was eight years old, she painted a portrait of Jesus, which was also her very first attempt at painting. She fondly recalls that her teacher, Mrs. Coleman, had shown the portrait to each class, and it was proudly displayed in the school. Whether it was the childhood acquaintance with religious scriptures or something that was predestined, Goswami’s dormant spiritual leanings were surely beginning to surface. In a way, life, as it was beginning to unfold for her, was also catalytic in unleashing the creative force or urge within her to embark on her purpose—and that was writing. “Yes, absolutely,” agrees Goswami. “It was as though my exposure to, or experiences with various aspects of life, had sown the seeds for my writing. As a child, I would often ride on our own domesticated elephant through certain stretches of our land which was not accessible by car. On one of my rides, I witnessed a leper, sick and lying unattended, under a banyan tree in our village. He was an outcast. I asked my father whether February 2011 │eclectic times │ 31


we could take him home and look after him. He said we couldn’t do so, as he was too ill. But he told me to build a hospital at the village so that the poor people could have access to treatment,” she reminisces. This incident and her father’s words lay buried in her subconscious mind. Decades later, after she was awarded the Prince Claus Award from the Netherlands in 2008, consisting of Rs 65 lakh, she was able to turn her dream of building the hospital into a concrete reality. It will be inaugurated shortly, and hopefully, be able to render some service to the needy, especially the marginalised. In a way, her life and her writings are so inexplicably interlinked that it would be quite impossible to extricate one from the other. Indeed, Goswami laughs at my observation and attempt to rekindle memories of her first tryst with fiction. “Kirtinath Hazarika, the then editor of Dainik Asom, told me one day, to write a short story, and I wrote my first creative piece about my rides on that elephant,” she reveals. Our conversation is clearly on flashback mode, the warmth in her voice palpable, as though merging with the swirling wisp of vapour, rising from our hot cups of tea. A sensitive Scorpio, with a passion for life, her piercing eyes soften for a moment, just enough to offer you a glimpse of her treasure trove of memories. Her incisive writings in Assamese have tackled myriad social issues,

and have fetched her innumerable awards. But initially, she lacked proficiency in the language, and her admission to TC Girls High School hinged more on the benevolence of a teacher, Suchibrata Roy Chowdhury, than to her linguistic ability! “You see, after we came to Guwahati from Shillong, I had to sit for an examination at the school. I had been studying in Pinemount, where Assamese was not taught as a subject. Although I could speak the language, I still needed to know a lot about grammar and correct usage as far as writing was concerned. Fortunately, Chowdhury convinced my father that I would be able to learn the language. Thereafter, he enrolled the services of Bahiram Das, from Hardiya near Hajo, who taught me everything that I needed to know about Assamese as a language,” recollects Goswami, with an unmistakable sense of gratitude. Incidentally, she dedicated her book The Moth Eaten Howdah Of The Tusker to her teacher. It has been a long journey since then; a journey that has seen her winning accolades for her writings as much as facing criticism for being an aberration. Strong, gutsy and determined, Goswami

“I could never compromise my individuality or personal freedom for anybody.”

Mamoni Raisom Goswami in a photo op after the Prince Claus Awards in ’08

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SOME MAJOR AWARDS, AMONG OTHERS: » Sahitya Akademi Award, 1982 » Assam Sahitya Sabha Award, 1988 » Bharat Nirman National Award, 1989 » Katha National Award for Literature, 1993 » The International Tulsi Award, Florida International University for her book Ramayana from Ganga to Brahmaputra, 1999 » Bharatiya Jnanpith Award, 2000 » Ambassador of Peace Award from International Federation for World Peace, Korea, 2006 » Prince Claus Award from the Netherlands, 2008 takes it in her stride, and agrees that women are themselves to be blamed for perpetuating the myth of gender inequality. Whether it is in preventing corruption or ensuring a greater visibility in the panchayat, she stresses on the importance of a woman to be vocal in focussing attention on irregularities or inequalities. And as we talk of the marginalised sections, and how inequality breeds dissent, our conversation veers to the peace talks between the government and the ULFA, and her role as a mediator. Does she believe in sovereignty? “No, absolutely not. I do not support sovereignty. I do not believe in Assam being a sovereign state. I hope things do work out in a positive way between the two parties,” says Goswami. At 68, her love for literature shows no signs of diminishing. But there is a sense of quiet acceptance


travels out through the window, a faraway look pervading her eyes, a hint of sadness so eloquent, of words and feelings that may have been left unspoken. Honoured by countries for her outstanding contribution to literature, Goswami allows fame to rest lightly on her shoulders. Although she began writing many years ago, she embodies the spirit of the new Indian woman, who is not afraid to speak her mind against injustice.

As she obliges for photographs despite being unwell, the quiet, unspoken dignity of a crusading woman cascades forth, leaving you in no doubt as to why she has become the luminary that she is. Words. And a woman called Mamoni Raisom Goswami. Together, a different kind of a love story. A love story, forever. Words: Nazneen Hussain

Universities that prescribe Goswami’s novels and short stories In India d

Abroad d

of the fact that her time is coming, as she explains so succinctly. So what are her first thoughts when she wakes up and opens her eyes to a bright new day? “I’m filled with an awareness that slowly, but surely, it may all come to an end…that thought is always dominant in my mind…,” her voice trails off. Currently working as a Professor of Assamese at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, Goswami has been invited to speak on seminars across the globe, delivering talks not just on the Ramayana, but on other aspects of literature too. Yet, the depth of her knowledge is uncannily matched only by the sheer lack of happiness. “I’ve never been truly, really happy in my life. Even when I was with my husband, I was never fully happy,” confesses Goswami. “I’m a very sensitive person. Even a small, seemingly insignificant thing can affect me,” she elaborates, her voice changing to a more reflective tone. Her gaze

Delhi, Gauhati, Calcutta, Women’s Studies Department (Lucknow University), Jalgaon (Maharashtra), IGNOU, SNDT, Gujarat, Gujarat Vidyalaya(Ahmedabad), Saurashtra Vidyalaya University of De-Laware, Newark, USA; Drew University, Madison, USA

February 2011 │eclectic times │ 33


up close

FIRST AM O NG EQUALS

up close

Somdev Devvarman signifies the new hope of Indian tennis. Coursing through a winning streak, he talks about his interests in a conversation with ET

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February 2011 │eclectic times │ 35


I

f you were a third cousin of the world of tennis? “Well, I was always Maharaja of Tripura, shared a into all kinds of sports as a kid. My musical lineage with the likes of family moved to Chennai when I no less an illustrious duo as the was around eight years old, and late Sachin Dev Burman and that’s when I first picked up tennis. his immensely talented son Rahul Initially, it was just a hobby even Dev Burman, what would you have though I played quite a bit. But I done? You’d most likely have been started taking it more seriously content enough to simply bask in when I was around 15. I’ve stuck the reflected glory of your ancestry. with it since, and with some luck But this is one scion who chose to and hard work, I’ve reached where I wield a tennis racquet instead and am now,” reveals the young star. carve a name for himself on the In a country where many sporting arena. For a young, fresh talented youngsters are unable and energetic Somdev Devvarman, to find the necessary expression, tennis signifies passion and power, Devvarman considers himself as much as music inspires him. lucky; his early initiation into sports And as India’s youngest hope on coupled with the awareness that he the international tennis circuit, his has had the means to play, makes performances have ensured his him feel humble. Expressing his presence as a player to concern, he says that reckon with. way of helping “I love playing one You’ve probably youngsters pursue the guitar and I their sporting interests seen him covering the tennis court in like listening to would be through quick, flexible strides offering scholarships, different kinds government funding as he smashes the allpowerful shots at his etc. “It’s important to of music.” opponent, ensuring recognise talent and it a Gold for himself in is also necessary that the Commonwealth Games, and they get the right training or have thereby lighting up a million faces the proper facilities to nourish that in Agartala and north-east India. talent,” he explains. So, as someone Indeed, as the youngest Indian hailing from this region, does he playing on the international tennis have any future plans of extending circuit, Devvarman had a zillion help to budding youngsters in the hopes resting on his shoulders. field of sports? “Yes, I’d obviously Quite understandably, India erupted love to be in a position to help out into joy at his exquisite display with in any way I can,” he says. the racquet. The mere mention Hailing from a family that lights up his face as he recollects produced such musical legendary the moment: “Yes, it feels really gems like the Late Sachin Dev good. It is difficult to put in words, Burman and his son Rahul Dev the feeling of winning a gold medal Burman, it is perhaps only natural for the country. It has always been that his love for music should my dream to represent India and eventually surface. And indeed, getting a chance to do that, is he admits that if he were not a amazing. Winning for the country is tennis player, he would have been an absolutely fantastic feeling and a musician. The mention of music I’m happy that I’m able to give the immediately lightens him up, people something to cheer about,” unveiling yet another aspect of this says Devvarman. rising star, “Yes, I love playing the So how did he make it to the guitar and I like listening to different 36

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February 2011 │eclectic times │ 37


kinds of music like Dave Matthews young man whose professional Band, Bright Eyes, Conor Oberst, engagements take him to all kinds Elliot Smith, Jonathan Rice, Beatles, of exotic destinations, this comes as Billy Joel and Bob Dylan.” And when a revelation. As does his confession he’s not playing tennis, he enjoys that his favourite car is (hold your watching TV, movies, playing pool breath!)... the Maruti Omni! He or any other competitive game or understands my incredulous look, sport. and explains, “Yes, Maruti Omni, And what has been his most because we’ve had this car since I significant moment so far? “Well, my was a kid and my father still drives most significant moment so far was it sometimes.” Well, you could be definitely when the national anthem forgiven for believing that this was playing, as I was standing young man would really be more atop the podium. It’s difficult to comfortable driving around may put into words the emotions that be in a Porsche, an Audi or even surge through you, at that moment. a BMW, considering the fact that You feel so patriotic and humbled he has gained celebrity status. But – and honoured – that you’ve got then, some things in life always the chance to represent this great remain special, no matter how far country, and of course, happy that you move ahead or how successful you’ve given millions a reason to you become. Incidentally, success to celebrate,” explains Devvarman. Devvarman means “happiness”. At an age, when it is very easy Anyone who has ever achieved to be swayed by even the minimal anything in life owes some amount degree of success or celebrity of gratitude to that factor called status, it is inspiration. So, refreshing to “I’d like to be the best who or what has know that this his greatest tennis player I can been upcoming star inspiration? “It’s has a balanced be… hopefully, climb difficult to point head on his a particular up the rankings, and out shoulders. It person. There are I’d like to enjoy the so many people has been a busy year for inspire me game for as long as who him, playing in every day in the I’m playing.” a lot of major little things they tournaments, do. And again, where he has notched up his there are so many people I have rankings in the ATP, but he feels that met who have these qualities about he has a long way to go. “Yes, it’s them that just stand out,” he says, been a good year. I’ve made steady offering you just a glimpse into progress. But, of course, there’s an aspect of his life that conveys always room for improvement,” he so much more than may be says. merely visible. He might belong to Although his family had moved GenNext, but Devvarman displays a to Chennai when he was very rare maturity in one so young, that young, Devvarman still fondly is both appealing and appreciable. recollects his connections with the More so, because when you are in Northeast. “From whatever little I the limelight, the attention may have seen of north-east India, it’s sometimes become overwhelming, a beautiful place, culturally rich, and it is easy to lose focus. In and every culture is unique. In fact, maintaining clarity of vision, my favourite holiday destination Devvarman sends home a message is Agartala,” he reveals. And for a that is both inspiring and worth 38

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February 2011 │eclectic times │ 39


emulating. As he reveals his deepest passion for the sport, it becomes even clearer that he will not stop at anything short of excellence in the pursuit of his aim. “I’d like to be the best tennis player I can be… hopefully, climb up the rankings, and I’d like to enjoy the game for as long as I’m playing,” he elaborates. Having played against some of the most competitive players, he has slowly developed the tenacity and the acumen to play shots that can tease and torture opponents. As he says, “It’s a great feeling to compete with these players. It’s what I train for all the year round.” And in the process, he himself has emerged the winner in more ways than one. Because tennis is so much about perfect timing, how and where your shots land, is absolutely important. So also, is the mind-

body co-ordination. As you watch him play, you get the feeling that this is one star who certainly has a lot more promise. And that the gold medal in the Commonwealth Games wasn’t just a fluke. Spending much of his time in gruelling practice sessions under the watchful eyes of his coach, Devvarman realises the immense value of hard work in the achievement of his goals, in the long term. And with each match, it makes him even more analytical, egging him on to work with more precision. Much like other sports, it is the complete immersion (or

‘Som’ nuggets: Won a Gold medal each at the CWG, New Delhi 2010 and at the Asian Games 2010. He has a special liking for Chennai courts where he recorded his best ever ATP performance and also scored memorable Davis Cup victories.

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the lack of it) in the work at hand that makes or mars a performance. Poised at one of the most eventful phases in the history of both the sporting arena in the country as a whole, and tennis in particular in India, Devvarman understands that he is in an important position. And that, a lot of hope also hinges on his shoulders. Champions aren’t made in a single day. It is the dedication to their sport that sets them apart from the mediocre. As also is focus. In the epic Mahabharata, Arjuna’s focus or ‘lakshya’, in shooting the fish with an arrow simply by looking at the reflection, proved to be the deciding factor in distinguishing him from the rest. In the days to come, in the tennis arena, it is the same dedication that may well define Somdev Devvarman as the first among equals. Words: Nazneen Hussain Photos: Paulami Devvarman Note: Sachin Dev Burman and his son Rahul Dev Burman always spelt their names as ‘Dev Burman’ and not as Devvarman.


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February 2011 │eclectic times │ 43


panache

élégance de Silk

Nandini Baruva showcases her new collection from her label Kirameki. ET takes a look

In a traditional red and blue mulberry silk singkhap design mekhela chador

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Embroidered silk sequinned mekhela chador in black and gold

Inside Kirameki, the design label by Nandini Baruva

N

andini Baruva’s Kirameki Spring Summer 2011 collection is about vivid prints, textures and colours, with detailed embroidery and embellishments. The prêt line displays fresh designs in tunics, kurtis, shirts, scarves and skirts. This season will also launch Kirameki Homme, the men’s label, with its new collection christened as ‘Wisdom’. This collection will have fun, casual and semi-formal summer shirts and clubwear for men who

dress fashion-’wise’. The Kirameki Grooming Academy will also be launched this year, through which aspiring models and actors will undergo one-month training, with Gladrags winner Nandini Baruva and her team of experts. They will be groomed and equipped with a professional portfolio, by the end of the course. Nandini had also been a part of the Second Global India Textile Show (International BuyerSeller Meet) held in December 2010 in Coimbatore. This February, from 2nd-4th, Kirameki is attending TexTrends 2011 in Pragati Maidan,

New Delhi, the biggest buyer-seller meet in India. (Check out for more Kirameki designs at www.kirameki.in)

February 2011 │eclectic times │ 45


Red raw silk and brocade yoke kurti with crushed dupatta

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An aqua blue floral emroidered contemporary mekhela chador in silk

Photos: Rahul Dutta, Kamal Barman Models: Ranata, Nandini

February 2011 │eclectic times │ 47


v-day special



L OVE On a riverboat in Oporto, Portugal, in June 2006

A

lthough one could say it was just chance that two young people would meet in a place far away from their places of birth and develop a longlasting life of love, friendship and support, it is possible that the differences in background, culture and education - not to mention the colour of our skin - meant that for love to persist, we would have to work harder at it and deal with the many ups and downs of life that these differences would bring about. Rosaline Nongkhlaw was born in the late 1930s, just before the outbreak of the Second World War, in a small village called Sadew situated on the Mawphlang Road, one mile beyond the Elephant Falls. When Rosaline was a little girl, her grandmother would comb her long hair and tell her that she would one day marry a good man and would move from the Khasi Hills to a far away place forever. Little Rosaline could never have imagined that her grandmother’s words would one day become true and that she really would leave her much-loved Khasi hills to live in England.... Upper Shillong has long been a military encampment, and the outbreak of war meant that the British forces were very visible both in their military and leisure roles. They would march or walk in groups along the road and through the village of Sadew, or watch films on large screens in the government forest where the local Khasi children would watch the film from the reverse side of 48

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the screen. As such, Rosaline grew up with many British people in the community, who would always say hello and hand out dried fruits, sweets or pieces of chocolate to the children standing by the roadside watching them pass by. From a small age, through these interchanges, Rosaline started to pick up English and gain confidence in greeting people who were clearly strangers. The combination of being a Khasi girl in an environment where there were many Europeans and English was widely spoken, together with her grandmother’s futuristic predictions, probably helped to shape Rosaline’s life and what was to follow. Like many girls in rural areas, the family devoted most of their resources to educating one of the boys and so, as Rosaline grew up, she moved into work at an early age, looking after other people’s children, first Newly married, Christopher and Rosaline Corbin – March 1963 locally and then later with


“Her lovely smiling and friendly nature”, Rosaline a year after living in England, in 1964

Military Officers from the Garrison, stationed in upper Shillong. This eventually resulted in her travelling around parts of north-east and eastern India looking after people’s children who she loved and still does, to this very day. When I first met Rosaline in Calcutta in March 1962, her lovely smiling and friendly nature, as well as her love for children, struck me and we agreed to meet again when we were free from work. By the time I departed from Calcutta in April 1962, our friendship had developed and we agreed to keep in touch through letters. When I returned in March 1963, our love had grown such that we married at a civil wedding service and thereafter set up our first home in a small rented ground floor flat in Calcutta. Once the many formalities of moving to England had been sorted out, we went to Shillong where I met all of Rosaline’s family for the first time. It was a happy moment as we all celebrated the marriage but, at the same time, the family were conscious that we were soon to leave for England and they were not sure whether they would see us again. Although we were in our early twenties and clearly in love, we considered the many issues that could surface and so we came to a set of agreements that we would both strive for, whilst not knowing whether we could keep to them. So trust, supported by love, was evident at an early stage. When one marries, one takes vows to look after each other come what may, but in a mixed nationality marriage of the kind we were about to enter, I made other promises to ease Rosaline’s concerns. One of them was that, at all times, there would

The combination of being a Khasi girl in an environment where there were many Europeans and English was widely spoken, together with her grandmother’s futuristic predictions, probably helped shaped Rosaline’s life and what was to follow. be enough money in the bank, so that Rosaline could visit Shillong, if ever she wished to. Rosaline made her first trip home alone by air in 1969, and has visited Shillong many times since. So, the first promise that underpinned the marriage was kept. I also appreciated that this was not really enough and that we would try and purchase our own home, in our joint names, at the earliest opportunity. This we achieved after seven years of marriage in August 1970, thus ensuring that the second main promise was met. Coming back to 1963, the long trip to England started from Howrah to Bombay, and then by ship (the RMS Caledonia) to Liverpool in England. On the ship, we were fortunate to meet another young recently-married couple from Assam, Kamal and Dheera Hazarika. Coming from the same part of the world as Rosaline, that shipboard meeting provided friendly support for her; it also led to a bond of friendship between the four of us, that has lasted ever since. Once we arrived in Liverpool, we travelled by train to Brighton and Hove, which has been Rosaline’s home since August 1963. For the first few months, we lived with my parents and younger brother, and Rosaline was happily absorbed

Throughout our long marriage, Rosaline has been a fantastic companion and given an enormous amount of love and devotion, which has supported me throughout my working life.

into the family. My mother taught Rosaline many things, so that by the time we moved into our home - a rented basement flat near the sea in Hove - Rosaline was able to undertake the normal activities of a housewife in England. However, this bond between my mother and Rosaline came to a sudden and unexpected end when my mother died in 1967. Throughout our long marriage, Rosaline has been a fantastic companion and has given an enormous amount of love and devotion, which has supported me throughout my working life. Unfortunately, when Rosaline reached the age of 70, she suffered a mild stroke and, as I am now retired, the roles have reversed: I now look after Rosaline and, in some small way, can return the love, devotion and trust that she has showered on me across the years. Over the 49 years we have known each other, the love and devotion has grown ever deeper. And it is wonderful to see the qualities I had first seen in Rosaline, way back in 1962, still evident. If love, trust and mutual support are there, then bridging the differences becomes so easy; of course, I can only say this because we have both reached this stage of our lives! Love is indeed a wonderful thing – and long may it last! (As told to Loya Agarwala) The author is retired, having worked for 50 years in the Information Communications and Technology (ICT) sector and lives in Brighton, UK. February 2011 │eclectic times │ 49


An evening in

SHIMLA

Inspired by the great Bollywood oldie An Evening in Paris, Ikramul Hussain is awestruck by the magic of the setting sun at this popular hill station

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holiday

HOW TO GET THERE Shimla has easy links by rail, road and air. Rail track is of narrow gauge and four trains run from Kalka to Shimla, which takes six hours. It’s a pleasant journey through 105 numbers of tunnels in a toy train. This railway track has recently been granted the status of ‘World Heritage Site of UNESCO’. The airport nearest to Shimla is situated at Jubbarhatti, 23 km away. There are six flights that operate from New Delhi. There is a road link from Delhi which takes 8-10 hours to cover a distance of 370 km. Luxury coaches also ply to Shimla.

D

ubbed the “Queen of Hills” by the British, this petite summer capital of the British Raj still draws the crowds. Shimla, the tourist’s paradise, is situated at an altitude of 2206 m and blessed with pristine landscapes surrounding the city. Shimla by day is beautiful but if you ever happen to be there at sunset, Shimla is spectacular. As dusk settles, try heading towards the Ridge and Mall Road, considered to be the heart and lifeline of the city. All tourists to Shimla invariably walk down to the Mall Road (that runs along the top of the Ridge) replete with a busy shopping and entertainment area, old colonial buildings, souvenir shops and restaurants. The Ridge Road is a large open space and runs from east to west, ending at the Mall Road at ‘Scandal Point’; which is a large open square with a great view of the city, situated at the top of the Mall. Interestingly, the name ‘Scandal Point’ has a story behind it. According to the locals, one can still hear the whispers in the air of the sensational news that a young beautiful daughter of a top British official, a member of the then Viceroy’s household, eloped with a dashing Indian Prince of Patiala. Both of them were fond of riding and apparently they met at this point before riding off. A few days later, the girl returned to her parents but the unfortunate Prince was forbidden to return to this summer capital of British India forever. The British society was shocked at this scandal but their story was immortalised in stone and concrete, by naming this place as ‘Scandal Point’. Most of the major hotels, restaurants and recreation centres are situated by the side of the road of this place. The elegant Christ Church, constructed with NeoGothic style of architecture and

fine-stained glass, is also situated at the Ridge. The British constructed this place with utmost precaution to make sure that the place did not get adversely used for recreation and entertainment by the people here. So, the entry of any vehicle (except for ambulances and fire brigades) is banned in this area; even VIP vehicles cannot enter. As such, it is always bustling with tourists and local people. The Ridge is a large open space situated at the Jakhu Hill at an altitude of 2230 m. It is the centre of Shimla’s social life and is an excellent place to view the surrounding mountains against the dazzling sunset. The Victorian style buildings and the absence of traffic from the central area, the Mall, makes its atmosphere cool and calm. The lively evenings start from 4 pm everyday and continue till late night. People of all ages can freely enjoy the evening without fear of crime. In fact, one high official of the Himachal Pradesh Government told me during a conversation that the crime rate in Shimla city is very low, because the people are very simple and they never cheat or misbehave with any tourists, which I found to be correct during my visit.

Photo by Ikramul Hussain

February 2011 │eclectic times │ 51


The Ridge is also the hub of all cultural activities of Shimla. In the middle of the hill, there is an open stage where live orchestras play. Anybody can sing or perform for public entertainment on this stage by paying a meagre R 50, the amount which goes to the local Red Cross Society. The Shimla police, with the help of the district administration, organises these programmes at the Ridge which is a welcoming initiative of the local administration. It is possible to avail a lift from the Cart Road to get to this place (costing R 7 per head per trip), which saves one the trouble of walking up to this point. It is also the venue of the famous summer festival of Shimla, government functions and local 52

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The Ridge is a large open space situated at the Jakhu Hill at an altitude of 2230 m. It is the centre of Shimla’s social life and is an excellent place to view the surrounding mountains against the dazzling sunset.

celebrations such as the New Year Eve. During the summer festival, usually held during the month of April or May, the whole of Shimla comes alive with colours and a riot of activities. One can never forget an evening at the Ridge, Mall and Scandal Point for its cool and calm people, Neo-Gothic structured Christ Church, enthralling views of the seven majestic and beautiful hills of Shimla, shopping area with Victorian style old colonial buildings and, above all, the live performances at the open stage. It’s no wonder that, after coming back home, my heart was already beating to visit this place again. The author is a freelance writer based in Guwahati.


view point

  

“One can only wonder whether this particular ‘super class’ of our society even realises the existence of another strata of people who are in the lowest rungs of survival,” says

Prerana Chaudhury

W

ell, it’s the trend of today – buy more and be happy. Welcome to the world of abundance and luxury, where saving is a sin and spending more is a blissful opportunity. This is the reigning slogan of consumerism, the hegemony of the elite, and it’s all a disillusionment if we ponder upon our current existence and where we are heading to. Even though the world’s richest people comprise only a mere 20 per cent of the global population, they consume around 86 per cent of the total earth’s resources, whilst the vast majority are still struggling to fill in their bellies, aching for a piece of cloth to cover their body and tirelessly rummaging for tins and tarpaulins to build themselves a shed. When we talk about goods and money, of luxury and privileges, they seem confined to the world of the ‘big’. But it’s not the case anymore, as consumerist attitudes have been finely accommodated by the ‘little’ generation too. Media has a huge role to play in this aspect. With TV ads catering to the world of children and their fancies, they have been successful in instilling the ‘go and get them’ syndrome. Kids have their own range of branded clothes, and yes, they are of age to take part in precocious fashion ads and fashion shows too! Even before they learn about the three basic needs for man’s survival, children today are encouraged to express their choices for a particular brand of clothes or accessories. Their favourite shows on television, animated series or mangas, come complete with products like toys and the like. So, it’s not uncommon for children to candidly demand a Mermadia Barbie. Not just that, we have Cinderella costumes available in the market too. Is imagination so solely dependent on our ability to support them with fancy items from the market? Another very prevalent trend amongst the high-earning class of our society is that parents take all care to show their love and concern for their children through goods and gifts. One seems to have forgotten the necessity of selfless care and love, of the importance of giving a child, time and understanding. It’s not through material goods that you express close bonds with your child, and it’s important

that one realises it. With materialistic lifestyles making a greater influence on the creamy layer of society, the trends are disappointing: there is an inadvertent loss of spirituality, of humbleness and a meaningless chase for tangible comfort persists. And thus, from the very foundation, we are nourishing a post-modern self who has everything in material comforts but still faces an innate existential crisis. We have a culture of consumption today – our very way of life is beginning to be governed by things that are more of luxury-based than need-based. Nothing’s enough, in fact the mantra is to ‘want more’. It’s no longer important to be careful in spending money; shopping is a means of recreation. We see all around us, a spurt of growth of shopping malls that feed upon the growing brand consciousness and the desire to look good. People want to stay up to their social status, something that is determined by what they are sporting. They have to keep themselves updated in the world of glamour although the designer dress they bought a fortnight ago hasn’t even lost a thread from its hem. It’s ridiculous – plain ridiculous – to see people surviving like puppets and dancing to the invisible threads from the hands of a baseless desire of existence. The glitz of the malls puts the small shopkeepers to shame. One can only wonder whether this particular ‘super class’ of our society even realises the existence of another strata of people who are in the lowest rungs of survival. I consider it a matter of injustice that the rich and the ‘glory-to-us’ syndrome sets up false standards of life, bewitching common people in its fake attractions and blinding them with the light of lies. The vast majority of people with modest income, they look up to this almost fantasy world of the super class who can seemingly acquire anything they ‘want’, with a wave of their wand! But then, let’s not forget the age-old philosophies of our life that might seem like boring clichés. For all we know, man is still a part of nature although he seems to have forgotten it. And yes, the moneyed-automatons are vast depleting our earth’s resources too, and millions still continue to go hungry. The author is a final year student at Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi.

February 2011 │eclectic times │ 53


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 syh@eclectic.co.in have an 18-year-old younger sister from whom I have I am afraid of going in a lift ever since I got stuck in Ibeen   away for a few years since she studies in a boarding one once when I was a kid. The incident has left me

have been facing a professional dilemma for quite Isometime.  My boss asked me to accompany him on a seminar and one evening, whilst we were there, made a pass at me. Though I rebuked him, he has been making life difficult for me ever since. I need my job desperately. It pays well and now I’m feeling that an affair with him may actually help me to get in his good books. Please advise, as I’m torn between my moral conscience and need of survival. Name withheld, Guwahati AVILASHA: According to Seema Goswami, author of Women on Top, it’s easier to deal with bosses with egos or those who discriminate or don’t appreciate your worth. But a boss who asks for sexual favours? No! There’s something seriously wrong with your workplace if you have to sleep with people to get ahead. Therefore, please look for another job instead of compromising yourself for the sake of your career. Don’t belittle yourself so much, and get out of this ‘victim’ mindset immediately. You need to bring the situation to the attention of others in the company, and try and root out this menace. Not every boss is a predatory monster. And while there are no guarantees in life, it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll encounter the same problem in your next office. ET QUACK: Discreetly inform a local TV channel and get them to secretly film his wayward ways, with you as his victim. Just remember to snap his photo when all is revealed! Ahh, revenge is oh, so sweet!

scared and I become nervous and breathless whenever I try to get on a lift. In the end, I always take the stairs. People think that I am crazy, but I can’t always keep running up/down stairs just because I am scared to bits. What do I do? Kirtan Laishram, Imphal AVILASHA: People with fear of lifts suffer from both a fear of heights and claustrophobia, doubling the sensation of anxiety that they experience. This induces feelings of being confined or losing control. Although this demands for intense psychotherapy through techniques like virtual reality therapy, hypnosis, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and energy therapy, one way to deal with this is to make “small trips”. Try using the lift to go up just one floor. Then just step out and relax. Do this as frequently as possible. Once one flight has been mastered, and you begin to feel less fearful, then you should try two floors. This pattern should be continued until you have reached the top floor. Your fear should be at least reduced, if not eliminated. And don’t give up! ET QUACK: Get on one of those rickety big wheels of the travelling fun fairs first. After that, going on a lift will make you feel much more secure! A teacher in my brother’s school takes home tuition.  He is unmarried and lives alone. My brother, who is in Class 9, told me that the teacher asked a student to stay back after tuition and then sexually abused him. The boy, who is my brother’s friend, confided in him but is now scared because the teacher has blackmailed him by saying that if he says anything, he can get him expelled from school on some pretext or another as he’s friendly with the management. I don’t know what to do. Bibhash, Agartala AVILASHA: A small but dangerous contingent of sexual predators lurks among the dedicated teachers in our nation’s classrooms and a flawed system makes it difficult to police the problem of abusive teachers. Right now, what you first need to do to the boy is avoid denial and remain calm. Don’t interrogate him but reassure him that he did nothing wrong; see that his safety comes first. Next, what you need to do is to REPORT, even if you don’t want to interfere in someone else’s family. You need to alert other students who take classes with the teacher, tell the boy’s parents, contact the police and put pressure on the school to get the teacher replaced immediately. Don’t be afraid as the power of many is more than the power of one. ET QUACK: Hold a student rally outside his house, complete with placards, exposing his dirty behaviour. With his secret out, the only thing he can do is pack his bags and leave with his tail between his legs.

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. 54 │ eclectic times │ February 2011 DISCLAIMER: Follow the suggestions of the ET Quack entirely at your own peril.

Illustration: Abhishek Kumar

school. Recently, when she came home, I chanced upon a series of messages on her mobile. They were exchanges between her and her friend and it came across that the friend (who is a girl) was attracted to my sister! And, although my sister is not in a relationship with anyone, she seems willing to reciprocate even though she gushes about guys in front of me. When I confronted her, she denied it. I don’t think she realises she’s falling for her too. Help me! Paulomi Chakravarty, Goalpara AVILASHA: People don’t choose to have same-sex feelings. Sometimes, these attractions develop because their social and emotional needs were not met in the developmental years and, more importantly, in boarding schools and hostels. Same-sex attraction, as in your sister’s case, may include desires for her friend’s attention, friendship, intimacy, and/or a fascination with her body or other gender traits. She’s 18 and is on a journey of discovering attractions, feelings, desires, sexual behaviour, identity, and all its associated aspects. Therefore, you need to openly discuss issues to do with masculinity, self-perception, emotional dependencies and relationship issues. Don’t worry as there are many people who were previously conflicted by same-sex attractions and the desires to act on them, but now have diminished feelings and attractions and eliminated homosexual behaviour. ET QUACK: Arrange a fancy dress party and ask her friend to come dressed as a hunky dude. If she still has the hots for ‘him’, then her attraction is not gender-related, is it? Simple!


February 2011 │eclectic times │ 55


palate

Think CHOCOLATE

With Valentine’s Day this month, treat your loved ones to these meltin-the-mouth classic chocolate delights by cookery enthusiast Laju Bhuyan

CHOCOLATE BROWNIES

Ingredients 1 cup chopped walnuts 100 g chocolate 100 g butter 125 g sugar 2 eggs, beaten 50 g flour 1 tsp vanilla essence

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Method Melt the butter with chocolate. Separately, beat sugar and eggs and then add chocolate/butter mixture. Beat well adding flour, vanilla essence and nuts. Pour in a well greased 8” baking tin. Spread evenly and bake in a preheated oven for 40 minutes. Cool and cut in squares.


CHOCOLATE FUDGE Ingredients ½ tin condensed milk 50 g butter 100 g milk powder 3 tbsp cocoa 1 cup cashew nuts

Method Combine condensed milk, butter, milk powder, cocoa and nuts in a pan. Stir constantly over low heat until smooth. Do not boil. Spread evenly into a pan and refrigerate until set. Cut in squares or triangles.

CHOCOLATE CURD CAKE

Ingredients 150 g butter 150 g brown sugar 100 g jaggery 150 g flour 50 g cocoa 3 eggs 1 tsp baking powder ½ tsp baking soda 1 tsp vanilla essence 1 cup curd

Method Mix flour, baking powder, soda and set aside. Cream butter, sugar and jaggery until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and keep beating. Add the dry ingredients alternately with curd. Lastly, add vanilla essence and mix thoroughly till smooth. Pour batter into a greased baking tin and bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

If you like to don the chef’s hat and wish to share your recipes, do send them with your photo to – Eclectic Times, Saraswati Market, 2nd Floor, Above SBI, Six Mile Branch, G.S. Road, Guwahati - 781022 2011 │eclectic times │ 57 or February email us at editorial@eclectic.co.in


advertorial

Towards a vibrant and

resurgent Assam…

D

estiny had willed that chief minister Tarun Gogoi was elected to the hot seat on May 2001 at a time when the development process had come to a grinding halt. But after he took over the reins of power, Gogoi’s primary concern and that of his government was to focus on development. And indeed, an economic upsurge has been the single-most biggest achievement of his government. Whether in healthcare, agriculture, education or developing infrastructure and improving communication, there has been a sea change in the state in the last almost ten years that Gogoi has been serving as chief minister. Highlighting the growth of the state, chief minister Gogoi said in his speech at the 55th National Development Council: “The economy of our state is gradually showing an upward trend. During the Tenth Plan Period from 2002-2007, the annual average growth rate of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) at constant (1999-2000) prices has shown a growth of 5.33 per cent. This is a significant improvement over the 1.97 percent GSDP growth rate of Assam during the Ninth Plan period. As per advanced estimates, the growth rate of Assam’s 58

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GSDP in real terms at constant prices is 6.35 percent during the year 2009-10 as per quick estimate. This was 6.16 percent during 2008-09 and 5.73 percent in 2007-08. The GSDP of Assam during 2008-09 has been worked out at Rs.53,319 crore at constant (1999-2000) prices and at Rs.79,277 crore at current prices as against Rs.50,222 crore and Rs.71,625 crore respectively during 2007-08. The industry sector has grown by 3.28 per cent in 2009-10 as compared with the previous year. The service sector grew by 9.24 percent during 2009-10, which has helped to maintain the growth momentum in the economy”. The main thrust of the government’s growth strategy has been on:

Infrastructure and Communication For any kind of development to take place, a good infrastructure and communication is a priority. Hence, one of the prime areas of focus has been on the construction of roads and bridges, thus ensuring greater and smoother connectivity of rural areas with the main centres. The government has taken up several projects to build roads and bridges with funds from the Centre, NABARD, World


Bank and the North Eastern Council (NEC). According to official figures, since Gogoi assumed charge, 13,710 km of roads were blacktopped with more work on another 9,000 km in progress. This is in comparison to 545 km of roads and 177 concrete bridges that existed during 1996 to 2001. The development of road communication, especially 65,000 km of rural roads and 14,915 bridges has helped farmers, school children, office goers and the tea gardens with better connectivity.

growth. A number of schemes have been taken to ensure better growth. As chief minister Gogoi explains, “We have focused on generating gainful employment through the development skills and on creating employment avenues outside the government sectors through the formation of self-help groups. Over the last almost 10 years, more than 20 lakh people have been provided self-employment through 2,09,122 self-groups, and more than 50 percent of these groups are run by women”. The Assam Human Development Report-2003 which was the first such report in the state, listed and recognized various aspects of human development. It analysed the poverty situation and identified the vital segments that needed to be addressed so that a comprehensive human development strategy could be formulated. This data helped in the formulation and implementation of projects that helped to alleviate poverty to a large extent.

Healthcare Chief Minister Sri Tarun Gogoi distributing tractors to Municipal Board and Town Committee under Mukhya Mantri Vikas Yojana

One of the major achievements of the Gogoi government has been in the healthcare segment. With such schemes like Morom, Majoni and Mamata people

Agriculture With 75 per cent of the rural populace depending on agriculture as their main occupation, it has also become a priority sector for the government. In an effort to help farmers, the government has laid emphasis on the adoption of farm mechanization and improved technology for achieving self-sufficiency in foodgrain production. The growth of Self- Help Groups (SHGs) has transformed the economic condition of the rural populace, and half the beneficiaries have been women.

Rural Development Since a large part of Assam consists of rural areas, development in this sector is essential for the state’s

Chief Minister Sri Tarun Gogoi inaugurating a water supply scheme at Charibari

Chief Minister Sri Tarun Gogoi inaugurating the new Emergency Block Building at GMCH

Gogoi meeting the first batch of children suffering from congenital heart disease all set to go for treatment to Bangalore February 2011 │eclectic times │ 59


living in rural areas have been greatly benefited. Mobile health camps have also facilitated access to medical aid. Institutional deliveries have gone up with 12,48,406 pregnant women benefitting from the Janani Suraksha Yojana which is implemented with the help of ASHAs. Besides, the launching of ambulance services has greatly helped people to reach hospitals on time. Each of the 199 tea gardens have been provided with an ambulance and a monetary assistance of Rs. 15 lakh, under an MoU between the state government and the tea gardens, facilitating better healthcare to tea garden workers and their families. The state’s fourth medical college has become functional at Jorhat, while two more are coming up in Barpeta and Tezpur. The introduction of 108Mritunjoy, an emergency medical service, has enabled prompt attention in case of emergencies and accidents.

Education Recognising the importance of literacy in the development of a civilized society, the Gogoi government

Chief Minister Sri Tarun Gogoi inaugurating the Dibrugarh University Institute of Engineering Technology

chief minister says, “The scope of employment in the government sector will always be limited, and it cannot provide a solution to the unemployment problem. However, if we can impart skills through vocational education and special training, the unemployed youth can always get gainful employment”.

Women’s Welfare Schemes

Chief Minister Sri Tarun Gogoi distributing saplings among students on the occasion of World Environment Day

has undertaken a slew of initiatives like: ~ One lakh girl students have been provided with a bicycle each, while umbrellas have been distributed to 76,923 BPL students.

One of the notable aspects of the government has been its recognition of the need to uplift women in the state. Consequently, it has undertaken a number of welfare schemes aimed at benefiting women and has also earmarked a certain budgetary allocation in this regard. These schemes provide assistance to 50,000 single, unemployed women. According to the scheme, each woman will get Rs. 10,000. Girls from BPL families are helped with an amount of Rs. 10,000 each as marriage assistance, while cash assistance of Rs. 5,000 each is provided to one lakh women’s SHGs. The government has proposed to reserve 50 percent seats for women in panchayati raj institutions and in urban local bodies, besides reserving 20 percent of government supplies and contracts not exceeding Rs 10 lakh for women. Significantly, of the 2,09,122 Self-Help Groups formed since Gogoi came to power, 64.58 percent are allwomen groups.

~ Significantly, the number of children staying out of schools has been brought down from 13,40,185 to 59,448. Provision of textbooks and the midday meal scheme has also helped children to come to school. ~ The distribution of free computers to students securing the first division in the high school leaving certificate examination has also been commendable. Since the scheme was launched in 2005, 73,646 students have received free computers. Elaborating on the socio-economic scene, the Chief Minister Sri Tarun Gogoi inaugurating Ginger Hotel in Guwahati 60

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Industries Industries form an integral part of the growth and development of a state. Work has been going on in the Rs.5,460 crore Assam Gas Cracker project at Lepetkata in the Upper Assam district of Dibrugarh, and it is now scheduled for commissioning in 2012. The mega project is likely to provide direct employment to 800 people while around 500 downstream industries are expected to come up, thus helping to generate more than 1.5 lakh employment avenues. Besides, investment proposals around Rs.34,000 crore have been received over the past almost 10 years that Gogoi has been in the helm of affairs.

Chief Minister Sri Tarun Gogoi inaugurating Asom Paryatan Bhawan at Paltan Bazaar

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi inaugurating the Solar Multi-utility Centre at Bahtala, Dakshin Dimoria

The Solar Multi-utility Centre at Bahtala, Dakshin Dimoria

Tourism The government has focused attention on improving the existing infrastructure while simultaneously putting an emphasis on developing new tourist destinations. With improved surface and air connectivity, the number of domestic and foreign tourists visiting Assam has increased. From 10,01,577 in 2000 to 36,98,706 domestic tourists till recently, there has been an impressive increase. The number of foreign tourists has also gone up from 5,959 to 14,533. This has opened up new opportunities for employment in the tourism and allied sectors. Improved facilities in Kaziranga and the other major parks have attracted many people to savour a taste of the wildlife sanctuaries in Assam.

Power Sector To the credit of the government, Assam has been able to improve the power generation in the state while also streamlining the revenue collection from the generation. The government introduced a slew of reforms in the Assam State Electricity Board (ASEB) and also provided ASEB with Rs. 2,050 crore besides budgetary support 62

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to clear the outstanding dues, apart from exploring other sources of funding to support the reforms. Since 2001, the pooled resources include the Rs.167 crore from Non-Lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NCPR) and Rs.1,050 crore from the Asian Development Bank. Another amount of Rs. 650 crore was also pooled under the Accelerated Power Development and Reform Programme (APDRP). In a major achievement, the Karbi Langpi Hydroelectric project became operational on April 7, 2007, and progress is on in the 750-MW Salakati thermal power project of NTPC. The ASEB’s own generation has gone up from only 120 MW in 1996-2001 to 274 MW now, while the number of consumers shows an increase from nine lakh to 28 lakh. Indeed, under the able and dynamic leadership of chief minister Tarun Gogoi, Assam has moved from an abysmal position on all fronts towards a vibrant and resurgent state. And today, Assam is poised for a big leap forward in the days ahead.


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at leisure

Lessons from a  Geetima Das Krishna tells us how her broken arm and its consequent, complicated surgery ended up teaching her more about life than she could ever imagine! Illustrations by Kamal

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have to start with a disclaimer: many of my friends and cousins are doctors and I love them all. Even my dad is a doctor and so I have nothing against the medical profession. Well, with that out of the way, let me now get to the real issue. Just when I thought I managed to go through my childhood without breaking any bones, I happened to slip and break my right arm – that too after I got married. Trust me, it’s better if I do not go into the details of how all this happened, but I initially stayed in denial for two days; even going to see a movie with that broken arm. But the pain was just unbearable. Finally, a visit to a doctor and an X-ray confirmed the worst: I’d had a pretty bad fall that had broken my elbow joint in three pieces. It needed some complicated surgery 64

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with insertion of metal screws and plate. So, as I needed to get admitted into the hospital a day before the operation, I went to the beauty parlour and got my fingers and toe nails painted bright red, in a bid to perk myself up. Unless you have broken your right arm, you will not be in a position to imagine how depressing it can be; all the small chores that one does during the day without even blinking the eye, become painfully difficult. As planned, there I was in my hospital room a day before the surgery. My surgeon, who was the head of the orthopaedic department, came in to explain the whole procedure, the pros and cons et al. He was the best in Delhi and so I knew I was in good hands. In fact, when I told him that I was

not at all worried since I was in his capable hands, he humbly replied, “Who am I?” Wait a minute! That got me a little concerned. Does he mean he is not sure? I am putting the fate of my right arm in his hands and I definitely needed some “main hoon na” kind of reassurance. Now it was too late to change my mind and I was very sure that my husband wasn’t going to help me in running away from the hospital ward. Then came the anaesthesiologist! After the regular check-ups, blood reports and chest X-rays, he gave me the option of choosing general or local anaesthesia. Wow! I got to choose. So, I chose local anaesthesia, so that I was able to know how they went about fixing my arm with metal screws. But then he started saying how it might be very unnerving for me in the surgery, and difficult too, as I could not move at all during the lengthy surgery. Okay! He is not giving me the option, just telling me that I will get general anaesthesia. So, why for God’s sake did he start with the options at all? Are those his


...everything went fine and I had a huge cast that stayed on for three weeks. I thought I would be good-as-new after these three weeks, but I was wrong! standard practised lines? I will never know! The night before the surgery, I was really upset when the nurses came in and removed all my red-perk-me-up nail polish. The explanation: the operation theatre has to be completely sterilised. So, no nail polish! What the heck! How does the red nail polish on my toes affect the sterilisation in the Operation Theatre (OT)? The next day, early at 5 am, the nurse woke me up and gave me the clothes to wear for OT. I was to get ready by 8 am sharp, to be wheeled into OT. Have you noticed how nurses always wake up the patients at unholy hours in the morning when it is still dark outside? I thought patients needed to get a good night rest before the surgery. Maybe it had something to do with nurses’ shifts. Anyway, I had three hours for a quick shower. I don’t need that much time even when I have to put my warpaint on. I figured that maybe they give the extra time just in case someone decides to go get a hair-perm done before the surgery. Some kind of ‘Last Wish’ thing! As for me, I’d been there and done that, so I just sat fiddling my thumbs and watched the television to keep my mind occupied. Finally, the time came for me to be wheeled into the OT. Gasp! Where was my oxygen mask? It looked nothing like those OTs shown in American serials like Scrubs or Grey’s Anatomy. There was

total chaos – literally! There was a lady, who was screaming at the junior doctors. I wanted her to leave them alone as I needed them to keep a cool head before cutting me up. Luckily, the mask was put on me and I slowly drifted into oblivion. At that moment, I fully understood what my anaesthesiologist meant, when he told me that the experience inside the OT can be unnerving for a first-timer. Now, I quietly thanked him for not giving me the option. Anyway, to cut a long story short, everything went fine and I had a huge cast that stayed on for three weeks. I thought I would be good-as-new after these three weeks, but I was wrong! After they removed the cast, I found that my hand movement was significantly limited. It needed another three months of intense physiotherapy to get back to recover completely! But, I discovered some new friends during this time. People who were just mere acquaintances would come up, share their own experience of fractures, give

advice and, above all, provide great support. It was as if we had membership to the exclusive ‘Broken Bones Club’! Life often throws a curved ball at you and you definitely learn from it. I learnt that it is good to have friends who can buoy your spirit, help you look beyond the wretched situation you are in. Some of my friends took me out for lunch, invited me for dinner, took me to the mall or to watch a movie. But, a word of caution: stay away from those friends who feel so sorry for you that they eventually manage to pull down your spirit too, even though they had good intentions. However, perhaps, the biggest lesson I learnt was: nobody other than you can help yourself to see the glass as half-full instead of half-empty. Life is a gift, go enjoy every moment of it. As someone had rightly said, ‘Life is a ticket to the greatest show on earth’. The author holds an MBA from USA and is presently working as Senior Executive in Reliance Asset Management Company Ltd, New Delhi. February 2011 │eclectic times │ 65


panache

STAR STRUCK

Monimala Mahanta Ahmed gives a quick peek of her sartorial variety.

BLUE MEKHELA CHADOR Chador – imported net, with ari and mukesh handwork. Mekhela – Belgium silk Motif – dancing peacock. Blouse – sleeves in chanderi silk and rest in Belgium silk

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BLACK EVENING GOWN Made with grey lycra and imported black satin

SALWAR KAMEEZ Kurta: embroidered chiffon shimmer with synthetic shimmer lining, with black chanderi silk, and red and sea green satin. Churidar: made in cotton shimmer


BLUE AND PINK MEKHELA CHADOR Chador – viscose with double colour dye Mekhela – dupioni silk with moti, ari and zardozi handwork

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WHITE LEHENGA CHOLI Choli – self printed chiffon with embroidery Lehenga – viscose with lace

MAROON CHADOR MEKHELA Chador – imported chiffon Mekhela – dupioni silk Totally handwork with ari, moti and zardozi.

Designer: Monimala Mahanta Ahmed Make-up: Pranab Das, Janmoni Photos: Kamal Dey Models: Nishita, Rimpi February 2011 │eclectic times │ 69


connecting lives

“Believe in yourself and you will achieve whatever you want to achieve in life,” says D Udaya Kumar who will be remembered forever for his contribution of the new rupee symbol

an ordinary man

creates history...

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orn in a small town of Tamil Nadu, he looks just like any one of us! And so, it’s not surprising that his design for the new symbol of Indian currency not only reflects the cultural ethos and traditions of India, but is also something that you and I can easily connect to. Maybe, that’s exactly why I had a strange feeling when I first saw the new symbol – that it was not entirely new to me! I wondered if I had been overcome by a feeling of deja vu but soon realised that the design seemed pretty familiar because it symbolised ‘Indianness’. And, why not! To join the elite club of currencies with the US dollar, British pound and Japanese yen, it had to first appeal to more than a billion Indians! And I am no different. The task was not rocket science, 70

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but the challenge was to have a universal appeal, yet with the Indian feel. So, the brain behind had to be a true son of the soil! As the man says, it was his early years in La Chatelaine Residential Junior College, Chennai, which laid the foundation of his career in art and design. Studying architecture and pursuing his Master’s and PhD from Industrial Design Centre, IIT Bombay, D Udaya Kumar used to participate in a lot of design competitions. However, taking part in this contest was far bigger than those and he knew he couldn’t let the opportunity slip by. “Being the designer of the Indian rupee symbol is like being


in history, and I am happy that this happened in my lifetime,” he beams. It’s his research in typography that helped him to arrive at his concept that was based on the unique Devanagari script. During his Master’s, when he was exposed to Indian language typography, Kumar realised that there were limited resources on regional typography. So, starting with Tamil, his mother tongue, he decided to develop it further. “I had designed a Tamil font as part of a project during my PhD and I am planning to come up with a ‘font family’ in the future. The book is in the initial stages,” he reveals. Kumar’s rupee symbol has been derived from the word Rupiah in Hindi and Rupees in English, both denoting the Indian currency and signifying the Devanagari letter form ‘Ra’ and partly Roman capital letter ‘R’ (without the vertical stem). Interestingly, it also has a couple of other familiar meanings (symbolically representing the Indian Tricolour), flying high at the top and the arithmetic sign ‘equal to’ denoting a balanced and stable economy. He feels happy and excited about his creation but sighs when he says, “I had hoped there would be an award ceremony.” Another fact not known to many was that Kumar donated the entire prize money of 2.5 lakhs to an anti-trafficking organisation in Hyderabad. A truly noble gesture, indeed! With IIT-Bombay as his biggest calling card, Kumar could have easily fetched a fat salary in a chic corporate set-up. But his love for nature brought this gifted young man to the land of the mighty Brahmaputra. As he puts it, “I did not take up any other job because I wanted be a teacher, to educate and inspire students to build a better society. And because of the serene atmosphere here, I thought this would be the right place to learn and teach.” After all the sudden name and fame, I wondered if life had changed for him, but a humble Kumar replies, “I am still the same person except for my work schedule which has changed a lot.” Now, he spends most of his time in teaching and preparing course material at IIT, Guwahati, as he has just started his new job as an assistant professor. Surprisingly, there is also an accomplished gardener in this design genius. As he explains, “I always wanted to plant trees and create a green environment. The whole world is now moving towards eco-friendliness and conservation of the natural environment and I wanted to contribute to that in a small way.” Therefore, since 2006, he has been planting trees every year and takes care of them like his own children. “They are my ‘green babies’ and there are 15 of them now,” he exclaims. Undoubtedly, this simple

"Being the designer of the Indian rupee symbol is like being in history, and I am happy that this happened in my lifetime.” man, has in a way, touched all our lives – both through his design and deeds. The sign bearer is also a fitness freak and a sports enthusiast. “I used to actively take part in many sports events right from my school days,” he reveals. A vegetarian by choice, he enjoys whipping up meals in the kitchen in his free time. “I love to cook South Indian dishes. Would you like to try my South Indian rasam?,” he quips. Judging by the many facets of his personality, all I can say is hats off to you, Kumar! Words: Himakshi Goswami

February 2011 │eclectic times │ 71


social sense

KISS  

Can civil societies live with a contemporary myth of Sisyphus when it comes to moral policing and overstepping PDA? Where does the buck stop?

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n the days of West meets the East, there is a porous line between cultures at home and those borrowed from the West. During the Conradian Heart of Darkness, a Western connoisseur of the Occident could have been well termed as someone bewitched by the dark arts. But today, schools of Occidental learning and Western imitation of the East is high art, and with a scholarly twist. While standing on the antipodes, people still gape at a white face in the crowded bazaars of India, the attitude unchanged since the Raj. Any cultural revolution, any dance sway, any hip-hop hum, anything that bears the testimony to Western (read Americanised) vulgarity on the moral analyser here, is often under the sandals. What has transformed since the Raj is that the attitude of awe and lusty reverence is muddled with an 72

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emboldened attitude. Reports of right-wing activists burning down posters of unbridled love and stores selling ‘consumerist ways’ of love just come out every season. And of course, if those engaged in a public display of affection fall into the hands of the ‘moral’ activists, a call for an ambulance is just the right thing. There have even been recorded instances of police engaging in physical outbursts against couples asking them to ‘get a bedroom’. But where is that line drawn? Is it when the couples’ behaviour goes to such an extent that they actually embarrass the grandpas on their evening walks? Or is it when stores start selling ‘love products’ (read Valentine’s Day cards, stuffed toys etc.) so explicit that the sculptors of Khajuraho are put to shame? Or could it be when a white actor conquers a desi actress with a kiss on stage? Keeping in mind the cultural

mores of the country and visual sensitivity to public display of romantic affection, there is undoubtedly a boundary which demands respect. “The society needs a line. Now if that is crossed, there are bound to be raised eyebrows. We cannot play a blame-game on either party or we cannot give leeway to everything unrestrained. Those self-styled activists shouldn’t take every opportunity to show their muscle power. And someone shouldn’t just showcase crass in public in the name of Western influences,” says Amrita Hazarika, a management student of Gauhati University. In the month of love, the stringent voice of morality rises to quite a dominant pitch. This is where the morality enforcers have a field day. Anyone sitting under a tree with anyone of the opposite sex is bound to be roughed up. February being the ‘season of


love’, stores which stock up those melting-heart glitter cards or stuffed tigers, are bound to have some extra security at the doors. Even the bars and pubs man up with more burly bouncers; the more muscle you add, the more muscle you can fight. “This becomes a waste fight. Some call it a degradation of Indian culture if you like to drink or dance in a discotheque. Everything is just straitjacketed under western values making inroads into ours and corrupting it. But it’s not that simple. There are certain rights called private rights and there are laws to straighten things up. So there is no open invitation for these moral or cultural goondas to take it to their hands to safeguard our country with whichever means they like,” says Auklanta Borkakoty, a student

of Bangalore University. Unfortunately, the hammer of morality is usually thrown at women. It is only the fairer sex who is perceived to be easily susceptible to those corruptible elements of the West. And this perception usually rests on the male members of the

society. “Such incidents that seek to curtail the behaviour of young people in public places reflect an anxiety in the rigid and closed mental space of the Hindu male. This anxiety is about the loss of identity, an identity that

is perceived as emerging or flowering in a protected, closelymonitored private space. This space is, however, also the domain that monitors the sexuality and behaviour of the Indian woman who is perceived as attaining womanhood within this restricted space alone,” says Meenaksi Thapan, Professor of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics. There is definitely the question of how far can both sides be given a freeway. Questions of history and morality along with questions of modern culture are mingling in a confrontational zone. It is only by losing the myopic vision of any given trend by all generations that will cement a middle-ground in harmony. Words: Ribhu Borphukon

February 2011 │eclectic times │ 73


bookmark book mark

A toast for

tawang

Pomi Baruah encapsulates the beauty of the place in her coffee-table book, Tawang – Land of the Dawnlit Mountains

With Tawang, it was love at first sight. The moment I set my eyes on this mesmerisingly beautiful place, I fell in love with it. Although, I have travelled to some of the most beautiful countries in Europe and South East Asia, the Tawang experience was altogether unique. The beauty of Tawang took my breath away and left an everlasting imprint on my mind.

I chose to write a coffee-table book in order to put forth the striking beauty of the place through the medium of photographs. There have been a few books on Tawang but I felt that a coffee-table book was much needed.

I have tried to capture the enchanting beauty of the place, its myriad pristine hues, its mysticism and spirituality and its infallible tranquillity in the backdrop of its military and geo-strategic importance. I have tried to portray the rich culture and heritage, and the simplicity of the very hospitable Monpas residing in Tawang.

Tawang is indeed like a rainbow. A land of unparalleled beauty, of myriad myths and legends of rich cultural traditions and an effervescent spiritual and religious history; Tawang is indeed a unique package in itself. Tawang is no longer the “Hidden Paradise” – unexplored and unknown. It has opened up to the world and is growing steadily. (The book was released in December 2010 in Tawang) Ribhu Borphukon

Extract from the book “The mountains looming majestically above, their peaks in delicate ecstasy with the beautiful blue sky, the clouds charioting distant dreams, the stunning reflection of the snow all around, the mysterious deep lakes with their silent stories, the rippling waters of the clear streams, the drumming of the cascading falls and the innate divinity of the numerous monasteries stirred my entire being. An unfathomable feeling of restlessness permeated my body, mind and soul... I knew that an undying bond had been formed, tying me forever to this place.”

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book shelf

 

 AUTHOR: SHEKHAR MEHRA PUBLISHER: TIMES GROUP BOOKS/ BENNETT, COLEMAN & CO LTD. PAPERBACK PRICE: ` 199

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nce in a while, unknown, unheard of authors are known to spring wonderful surprises. Shekhar Mehra, a self-confessed writer by choice and a journalist by profession, has been writing on international relations for the past 18 years and Her Father’s Daughter is his debut foray into fiction. Written in an uncomplicated style, Shekhar has turned simple writing into an exceptional art form. His short and simple sentences created a strong impact on me, and forced me to stay glued to the novel till the very end. Perhaps, because of Shekhar’s training as a journalist, his writing is direct and to the point. He does not beat around the bush, nor does he test a reader’s patience by devoting a few pages to the furniture in a room. His no-fuss approach is head-on, forthright and absorbing, which is probably the reason for the mere 215 pages in the book. As the Times of India comment on the back cover says, Her Father’s Daughter is “…a chilling, powerful account of the India we often don’t like to talk about.” Indeed, Shekhar touches obsolete customs like untouchability, which have been banned under the country’s laws, but have not quite come to an end. They are still to be found in far-off, interior villages that are repositories of all social and religious traditions, good and evil. Some of these villages are also governed by greedy, corrupt panchayats, who bend under the weight of outdated traditions and dominant zamindars. Caught in the vortex of this archaic world is the young, beautiful Gayatri, daughter of the village zamindar, who seeks nothing more than her happiness. The book is not about untouchability, panchayats and zamindars per se. It is about Gayatri and the attention she demands, as only an 18-year-old can. Does she get ultimate fulfilment? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out! Reeta Kapoor

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February 2011

Aries Work: Sweating the small stuff can add up. If you find yourself getting upset frequently over trivial things, the feeling may begin to accumulate into something more serious. The obstacles you foresee may not ever materialise, and your hesitation will only keep you away from potential successes. Love: How’s that concept of ‘not your type’ working out? It could be time to give someone ‘a little different’, a shot. What you want is actually pretty fluid, and you never know who might feel right in an unexpected way. Health/Style: Nurture is in high indication for you. For yourself, this reflects a desire to take better care of your physical well-being, with light exercise, a balanced diet, vitamin supplements and rest. Zodiac Facts: Aries Like: Challenges. Coming in first. Personalised gifts. Aries Dislike: Other people’s advice. Having to wait for anything.

Taurus Work: You may have to grit your teeth a bit in the face of harsh criticism from colleagues. Luckily, an everexpanding cache of tasks will keep you busy and give you a ready excuse to escape their verbal onslaught, rather than get angry and compromise good standing with superiors. Love: Focussing on just one person may be enticing, but until you learn more, it’s better to keep all options open. You’ve got amazing energy right now, so more opportunities should come your way. Health/ Style: Get back to basics. What’s your most cherished style principle? Comfortable clothing? Fun make-up? Three-inch, patent-leather pumps? Whatever the answer, stay true to yourself. Zodiac Facts Taurus Likes: Comfort and pleasure. Time spent with their loved ones. Taurus Dislikes: Change and anything that takes them out of their daily routine. Being pushed too hard.

Gemini Work: A minor tiff in the workplace could blow up and out of control. The ‘he-said-she-said’ disjunct that generated it, could get lost in the fray. Rather than succumbing to your impulse to fight, be the bigger person and take a step back. Some time away from the office could be exactly what you need to calm the tide and get everyone back on task. Love: It’s what’s inside your head that counts right now. You lose interest in anyone who doesn’t keep up mentally, no matter how cute they are on the outside. Brains have never been sexier! Health/Style: Keep up your faith in trusted or recommended beauty products. Just because you can’t see the effects of that antioxidant-rich facial serum or nourishing cuticle oil right away doesn’t mean it isn’t working wonders! Zodiac Facts Gemini Likes: Novelty and the unusual. Freedom. Travelling. Acting quickly on decisions. Dislikes: Routine. Rules. Mental 76 │ eclectic times │Gemini February 2011 inaction.

Cancer

Mayuri Sharrma

is a Mumbai-based Work: Even when your work professional Tarot Card is praised, a sour feeling sits Reader, Columnist and uncomfortably in your stomach. Freelance Writer Perhaps expectations you have for your career are unrealistic, so when they are met slowly, or not at all, you become unnecessarily stressed out. Relax and go with the flow. Love: Don’t forget to follow up when it comes to your love life! You have to be pretty conscientious about answering messages and sending invites now; otherwise, you might miss out on someone really great. Health/Style: Honesty is the single greatest asset you can bring to your style routine. So, take a long look in the mirror. Do you like what you see? Have you gotten lazy? Are you flattering your shape and complexion? Zodiac Facts Cancer Likes: Family. Spending time at home. Comfort zones. Sentimental and family keepsakes. Cancer Dislikes: Aggravating situations. Pressure to take part in a conversation. Having the spotlight on them.

Leo Work: The road to success is riddled with potholes, and those who drive their own way will be better able to avoid them. If you work under a boss, meanwhile, you may have some disagreements ahead of you. Patience will be your most valuable virtue at this time, when there are things you cannot change. Love: Something that appeals to you intellectually, will have a positive impact on your relationship, so be open to all possibilities now. The two of you may have more in common than you had thought. Health/Style: Look past the surface of your hair, skin and nails in your mission to keep them strong and healthy. A deep-conditioning treatment, a vitamin-rich dinner and a tall glass of water would be a good place to start! Zodiac Facts Leo Likes: Activity. Fashionable clothes. Being creative. Praise. Leo Dislikes: Being ignored. Being told something they don’t know. Ordinary, day-to-day routines.

Virgo Work: The world spins round at a dizzying rate and will not stop for you, and work gets hectic, so you better take some time out to relax, gather your thoughts, meditate, and keep your head on straight. Love: Has your sweetheart been kind of close-mouthed and acting anxious lately? Let them know you’re here and that you want to help. Your knack of getting straight to the point might be just what they need to hear. Health/Style: You can take it all in now, from little things right up to the biggies. It’s a great day to plan your look for any upcoming events – you’ll pick the perfect outfits, and know exactly which nail polish to wear with ‘em too! Zodiac Facts Virgo Likes: Making lists. Details and order. Helping others. Precision. Virgo Dislikes: Uncertainty. Being obligated. Disrupted schedules. Admission of weakness.


Libra Work: A better time to stick to the tried and true and not engage in any dramatic actions or start anything new. A good time to bond, and perhaps plan a get-together, with co-workers. Love: Bad news first: Romantic matters may stall out for now. The good news is that it’s all for good reason. And when it all gets started up again, soon, you have a much better understanding of how it all should work. Health/Style: Anxieties felt now, could spill over into your physical being. Having a favourite method of relaxation is crucial at times like these, whether it be yoga, reading a book, or shooting the breeze over drinks with friends. Otherwise, you could stress yourself into sickness and injury! Zodiac Facts Libra Likes: Having people around. Being fussed over. A good, detailed argument. Being of service to others. Libra Dislikes: Confused situations. Any criticism. Disharmony. Initiating and/or accepting change.

Scorpio Work: The preference of others for newer, more experimental techniques may annoy you, especially when they outnumber you. Because of this, keeping the peace might take a lot of patience. Love: If you’re expecting something big in your love life, be aware that romance wants to defy expectations in crazy ways. The best thing you can do, for the time being, is to watch and wait. Health/Style: Dress to spread cheer! Bright colours and rainbow patterns, jewellery and accessories made from glossy enamel and bold, chunky beads, a flower (real or faux) pinned in your hair... then just add a smile and you’re ready to go. Zodiac Facts Scorpio Likes: Being acknowledged. Being involved. Being persuasive. Work that is meaningful. Scorpio Dislikes: Being analysed. People who know more than they do. Having to trust a stranger.

Sagittarius Work: Your stubbornness will meet its match in inflexible co-workers. One of you will have to move eventually. Swallowing your pride and relenting could pay off later in goodwill and mutually beneficial compromise. Love: Romance will put you on the defensive. Flirting can be fun, but you might be preoccupied with the consequences of going too far. Health/Style: Feeling a little slow? Then stick to activities that don’t require speed! Take a yoga class rather than kickboxing, for example, or stick to small boutiques you can really browse through and forego the huge maze of mall stores. Zodiac Facts Sagittarius Likes: Parties. Flirting. Alternative ideas. Freedom of action. Sagittarius Dislikes: Being confined. Having their honesty doubted. Making promises. Being constrained.

Capricorn Work: Your brainy side is out in force right now, so make sure that you’re confronting the most important issues at work. You may be able to make some serious progress with a thorny problem. Love: Your love life could probably be more fickle and unpredictable than you would prefer. Practice a little patience, though, as enticing romance may simply be hiding, waiting for the best moment to sneak up on you. Health/Style: You’ll need to turn inward now to make the best decisions about your outward appearance. Do you think you look as sophisticated as you feel, for example, or that you’re honouring your true creativity? Zodiac Facts Capricorn Likes: Purpose and responsibilities. Reliability. Privacy. Firm foundations. Capricorn Dislikes: Ignominy. Familiarity. Lazy people. Untidiness. New ideas. Surprises.

Aquarius Work: You’re having a great time busting out new ideas and sharing them with all the right people – but don’t let yourself and your imagination run away with them. You’re better off letting your brain do all the heavy lifting now. Love: Cupid’s arrow is on its way, but first you have to put yourself in its path. Prepare yourself, pep yourself, think positive and await the romance of your dreams. Health/Style: Give yourself some time to simply wallow in whatever mood you’re experiencing. Enjoy a lingering bath, leave the cell phone at home and take a brisk walk or use your spa-splurge money. Make it all about you for once! Zodiac Facts Aquarius Likes: Change. Eccentricity. Surprises. Thinking about privacy. Aquarius Dislikes: Revealing their personal motives. Emotions. Intimacy.

Pisces Work: Go easy on your people – they aren’t ready for a verbal onslaught, and are sure to resist if you come across as preachy. You need to make sure that they know what needs to be done, but remind them gently. Love: The nurturing spirit you express at home might help bolster your desire for love, which, in turn, could drive you to take the necessary opportunities for finding it. Health/ Style: Observation is the key to success. If you have a hair appointment, for example, note how your stylist applies products or holds her brush as she dries your tresses. Get a new hairdo and a free styling lesson! Zodiac Facts Pisces Likes: The freedom to drift along from time to time. People who need their understanding. Pisces Dislikes: Being told to get a grip on things, and the obvious. February 2011 │eclectic times │ 77


the reel

The Black Swan

‘W

hat have you become?’ Nina’s mother Erica finally asks. This film is the personification of becoming and unbecoming, the antipodal dualism of the virgin good and the lusty evil embodied in The Swan Queen through the thin and almost-starved contours of Natalie Portman. Right from the beginning, the premonition of the trapped, seeking freedom, is shown through the reflections of the mirrors and the subway doors. Darren Aronofsky’s The Black Swan is the scene behind the perfectionism that ballerinas strive in the ballet companies. But the imagery of battered toes and bruises show what a gruelling strive it is. Nina (Natalie Portman) is a hard-working ballerina in New York ballet company who needs to prove her ‘bite’ to Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) in order to be cast as The Swan Queen for a ‘real and visceral’ production of the Swan Lake. The dream by Nina dancing the White Swan in the beginning, sets her framework as the sweet and pure girl, and this is the point from where she would be straying. Thomas and Lily (Mila Kunis) act as the seducers for Nina, like the serpent for Eve in Eden. Nina, who is almost obsessive about getting every move perfect, is persuaded to let inner demons play in sync with her untainted perfectionism. The late night out with Lily at a bar, just the night before the final production, proves to be the turning point towards where her character was shaping up. Nina’s mother Erica gives an almost creepy feel. Her constant questions and reproaches for Nina over her scratches on her back and her growing nails show an almost mother-dictatorial love. But little does she realise that Nina is breaking out of that virgin and sweet casing. Even Nina’s room with all the stuffed toys and the bedside music-box with a ballerina on top, give an almost demented and eerie feel to Nina’s situation being cuffed to it, without her consent. The movie is more of a portrayal of art and struggling artists than anything else. But how far the depiction is true, is debatable. 78

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times │ February 2011


dine out



Adityam Builiding, Ulubari, GS Road (Behind KFC) Home delivery number: 03612467999 Meal for two: Rs. 800/1000

‘C

hina says Yo! to Guwahati’ – so runs the marketing slogan for a delectable Chinese revival and a change in the Chinese cuisine scene in the city. Yo! China has already made its mark as one of the largest Chinese food chains across India, and now its presence in this part of the country has to be with a promise. The promise started with the aromatic Chinese herbal tea, the leaves swimming at the bottom of the white china cup, and it did indeed set the mood for the rest of the afternoon. The first appetiser to arrive, was the Tai Chi Chicken which announced itself as a Yo! China Special, on the menu. The textures looked heavy and thick, and the visible crispiness on the outside made a paradoxical move towards softness, on the inside. The elongated chicken pieces were complemented well in its presentation with elongated slices of tomatoes, yellow and green peppers. Next in line, was the classic Chicken Schezwan Dimsums. The outer layer was quite thin, and it shrunk onto the

contours of the generous fillings inside. And the flavours seemed quite soft and nude. For the mains, it was the ubiquitous Chicken Hakka Noodles and the Chicken Mongolian Clay Pot, again a Yo! China Special. Architecturally, the chicken pieces were cubed and made with an authentic Chinese sauce, all mixed with chives and coloured peppers which were all pieced into delicate cubes. The menu did warn us of its level of spiciness, with the picture of a little red chilli next to its name, and it did live up to its threat in a mouth-watering way. So to leave on a sweetened note, the Devil’s Chocolate Bull’s Eye produced itself as a finely-layered chocolate mountain. The layers, though varying in lightness and heaviness of colours and textures, produced an overall harmonious melt. The scoop of vanilla alongside it, balanced the flavours and the temperature. At the end of it, did they deliver the promise of offering the pleasant difference and the lovely sameness of the vastly popular Chinese cuisine? Well, it’s a big Yo! Kai Ao

February 2011 │eclectic times │ 79


model of the month

K

ovid Mittal is a 22-year-old professional model from Guwahati, with three-and-half year experience under his belt. He is a mechanical engineer by occupation, but he also wants to become an actor, and is presently pursuing theatre full-time. Height: 6 ft Photos: Dev Purbiya, Rahul Biswas Costumes: Kirameki

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times │ February 2011


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until march

The Most Romantic Thing You’ve Come Across My would-be-husband and I were courting each other then. I was working in Delhi and he was working in Assam; so there was no constant contact like we have today. And one day, he gave me the most romantic surprise ever. He couriered me a CD with some lovely romantic songs, all sung by him and with him playing the guitar. It was the most beautiful thing that someone ever did for me and I still remember how ecstatic I felt, when I got it. Florence Handique, TV Personality

My most romantic moment was going on a long drive in Bhutan with the person whom I always loved. The long drive and spending special moments with her was all as good friends. Soon, I confessed my feelings for her and she said that she would think over it. The whole complexity of the situation adds a lot to the feeling of romance and will always remain with me as the most cherished and romantic moment of my life. Paljor Gyabak, Model

I always imagine that I should have a romantic moment near the lake with my boyfriend showering me with the best of gifts and flowers. It should be a perfect day and a delectable spread would prove to be the cherry on the cake. Sourabhee Dev Burman, Singer

I am a romantic person and believe that love is the purest form of what you call romance. There’s this one memory which has stayed with me since the days of college. I was in St. Anthony’s, Shillong, and I used to like this girl. It was almost one-sided in the beginning but I somehow managed to give her a rose one day. And much to my surprise, she accepted it. That was a beautiful experience and I still remember it. Nissar Pervez, Director

I think the most romantic thing I’ve come across is my husband, Zac O’ Yeah, dedicating his books to me. The latest one – Once Upon a Time in Scandinavistan – says “For Anjum, for everything, forever”. Anjum Hasan, Writer

My most romantic moment was during my recent trip to Morocco. It was in the middle of the night and I was lying over these huge sand dunes in Sahara. And, suddenly, I saw all these constellations and six or seven shooting stars and felt exhilarated. At that moment, I was missing the man of my life. I wish he was there with me to enjoy the celestial spectacle. Anjali Tirkey, Traveller and Travel Writer

Do you fancy writing for this page to close in the issue? If so, send in your contributions with your photos to: Eclectic Times, Saraswati Market, 2nd Floor, Above SBI, Six Mile Branch, G.S. Road, Guwahati - 781022 or email us at editorial@eclectic.co.in



Eclectic Times_ February 2011