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November 2010 • Vol - I • Issue - 2





Internationally renowned Northeastern model Monikangana Dutta talks about her life, her career and her new avatar, as she steps into Bollywood

Whizz off to Shillong this weekend and pack in as much fun as you can, as Amit Sengupta did! 34 NE PRIDE Padmashree awardee and writer par excellence, Patricia Mukhim, voices her concerns in a conversation with ET

42 SCENT SUCCESS 16 OPEN FORUM Now that the hype is over, readers look back on the Commonwealth Games

22 MY STORY- UNCENSORED A victim of molestation speaks out on her traumatising experience

25 PICTURE PERFECT See why ‘the earth laughs in flowers’ with these pretty clicks!

28 SOCIAL SENSE Are reality shows stealing the innocence of childhood from our children? ET finds out

32 PALATE Eggless wonders by cookery expert Indira Kakati

Arabian Perfumes - Parimita Barooah Bora traces the Ajmal scent

44 PANACHE Get dazzled by the spirited creations of youthful and energetic designers!

48 TELL TALES Presenting an exclusive, never-beforepublished story by one of India’s muchloved writers - Ruskin Bond


68 38


Car expert Shahwar Hussain previews family cars this Diwali

60 ETHNICITY Rupkamal Sarma writes on the fascinating Devadasi dance of Assam


Welcome to the world of candles, with candle expert and entrepreneur, Chandrani Sarmah


62 HUMAN CONNECT Is your marriage infidelity-proof? Try the ET quiz to find out!


64 NE NRI UK–based NRI, Karuna Sagar Das, believes that where there is a will, there is always a way. See how!

66 TECH KNOW Learn about the ‘white hats’ and ‘black hats’ of ethical hacking with Debajit Kataki

72 SPORTS WORLD Young tae kwon do wonder girl, Erin Nobis





Parama Hazarika

EDITORIAL managing editor Tanushree Hazarika

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 marcom Koushik Hazarika +91 99575-62510 manager pr & bd Pooja Barkataky bangalore – D. Kant Venkat +91 98454-47778 ● delhi – Ad Space Mart +91 98108-02411 ● kolkata – Abhijit Sahu +91 98310-61511 ● mumbai – Mousumi Moitra +91 98195-79758 ● chennai - Mr. S. Surianarayanan +91 91766 84818 ● CONTACT US

head office Eclectic times • Eclectic House • 34, PB Road Rehabari • Guwahati Assam • India • PIN 781008 landline +91-361-260 68 95 mobile +91-94355 44836

corporate office Eclectic times • C/O- Maverick • 10th Floor A-Wing Mittal Tower • MG Road Bangalore • India • PIN 560001 landline +91-80-425 60 000 emails info editdesk subscription advertisement website 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 © 2010. 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 apologize 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.



just had the most amazing dream last night!

It’s a beautiful day; tiny puddles have formed everywhere on the field owing to the rains last night and the only thing on my mind is to get out of school early and play with my friends. It’s 3:00 pm, the bell rings and we are all running towards the field, barely able to hold our excitement. We roll up our sleeves, drop our school bags and off we go! I am awakened by an email on my Blackberry; I look at the clock, it’s 1:30 am. I reply hastily while uttering a silent curse to the sender and desperately try and get back to my dream, but in vain. How I wish I could turn back the clock and be a child again. The following day, I narrate my dream to a friend who mocks me for wanting to be a child again and asks me, “Why?” Why not? All I saw then in my friends’ names were the combination of letters in them and how difficult or easy they were to spell. I was not yet “smart” enough to decipher a name and assign it to a city, state or religion. If I watched a movie with them, all I wanted to do was to laugh together; I was not yet conditioned to feel uncomfortable because of the religious or gender differences that were being portrayed on the screen. Thinking more and more about the “Why” made me realise that I had lost a lot more than I had gained over the years: I had lost my innocence! “Innocence”- I never understood the depth of this term until much later. Had I been given a lens with which I had to see the world now? Where were the obvious traits like language, dress and skin colour while I was growing up? Why was I not trained to identify people the ‘right’ way? With time, I have become prey to predefined boundaries and beliefs. Should I dedicate this shift to the outcome of various conditionings that I have undergone through the years? Or is it due to the loss of innocence? As children, we are these pure little beings willing to explore various facts and circumstances with an open mind. As we start getting taught, moulded, conditioned with worldly knowledge, we simultaneously begin developing fears, insecurities or biased views. What I am trying to urge in everyone is to become childlike again, i.e. to let go of limitations and develop a curiosity to accept everything, like we all once did. Question your beliefs and concepts. You will get past the ‘Self’ that holds you back and transcend towards a state of simplicity, with openness towards life; you will find yourself to be innocent once again. Let’s dedicate this issue to all children... and the little child in you.



love reading your magazine because it focuses on today’s glaring issues that matter to people in general and of course to the Northeast as well. I also appreciate that there are a lot of pictures to accompany the stories to retain the attention of the reader - they make for a truly interesting read! In the October issue of ET, I was intrigued by Namdapha because I have heard so much about it. The drug addict story is touching, yet so essential for today’s youth - I cannot even begin to tell you all the horror stories I have heard of batchmates who had dabbled with heroin and are still struggling; hope this article reaches out to them. Rukmini Chowdhury, California We are happy that ET reached out to you too, being so far away! Please keep giving us feedback!


have become a great friend of your magazine. The reason is that it has great content which is informative and interesting too. I should even mention the paper quality, which is great. All these factors make ET of great standard making it stand alone with other national magazines. Cheers to the great work and my best wishes are always with you. Deepa Medhi, via email When ET is likened to a ‘friend’ we know we’ve touched your heart. Thanks Deepa, please keep reading!

issue. Keep up the good work! Neha Buragohain, Glasgow We love springing surprises, Neha – so keep reading and keep getting surprised!


don’t need to tell you that you guys are doing a fab job. The Eclectic Times is one magazine I look up to every month with excitement. You are very true to your name as you cover every aspect of northeast India and the language you use is very sophisticated, very much like the Gen Next of the region, of which your magazine is the epitome. There are many magazines coming out the region today but you guys still rule the roost because you have quality, glamour and knowledge at the same time. Keep up the good work! David Lagachu David, we believe in spreading a message of pride through elegance. Thanks for appreciating it!


am a working mother and hardly find time to spend much time in the kitchen. But thanks to your easy recipes, my family was very happy with my culinary skills this Puja. I am a fan of the recipes section and have been following it for quite a while. I remember I picked up this particular chocolate rabdi recipe sometime back and my family keeps on asking me to make it every now and then. Do keep them coming. Ila Borkotoky, Jorhat Well we at ET believe that one way to the heart is through the stomach! Glad you thought so too, Ila!


eading a piece on Rong Bong Terang (ET October, 2010) did surprise me a lot. Terang is quite media shy and finding an interview in Eclectic was not what I expected. It was a lovely read. The magazine’s versatility and diverse content makes me await every

he piece on the Phuket Vegetarian festival (ET October, 2010) was a very unusual read. I was planning a trip to Phuket this New Years and now I feel I should have planned it for Bijoya Dashami instead! Darryl Laishram, Imphal There’s so much to know about other cultures! Maybe you can postpone that trip to Phuket to next year!

October 2010


ver since I picked up a copy of your magazine from a bookstall in Panbazaar early this year, I have been following it religiously. Your magazine is doing a great job of filling in the readers’ need for a good and quality magazine in the region. The magazine not only looks good, it also carries good content issue after issue. Your team is doing a commendable job. My wishes will always be with you. Siddarth Basumatary, Guwahati Thanks Siddarth, please keep giving us your feedback – it’s like fuel to keep us going strong!


he article which struck me the most in the October issue was Chan Mahanta’s photographs entitled House with a View. The photographs captured the four seasons of the year and I couldn’t help but see a distinct similarity between them and John Keats’ poem The Human Seasons which also compares man’s life to the four seasons, with death, or winter, being the natural conclusion of man’s life. I would also extend my heartiest congratulations to the entire Eclectic team for their efforts of trying to bring this magazine at par with the rest of the national magazines and doing a mighty good job of it too. All the best! Moushumi Borah We’re thrilled you saw such introspection in the piece, Moushumi. We hope others will be just as inspired!

Moushumi Borah’s letter is adjudged the Letter of the Month and she will receive a Free 1-year subscription of eclectic times


event diary

Art exhibition


rundhati Choudhury’s fifth solo exhibition Miles 2 go was recently inaugurated by Jnanpith award winner Mamoni Raisom Goswami at the State Art Gallery, Guwahati. A graduate of the Government College of Art and Crafts (Guwahati), Choudhury’s artwork explores the underlying themes of hope and despair, of life and death; which are contradicting and yet complementary. Her collection has 20 paintings, each exploring the given theme from different aspects such as nature, religion and the abstract. Her first solo exhibition had a painting called Miles 2 go which prompted noted artist Nilpawan Barua to write a piece on it. And, with this being a recurrent theme in her work over the years, Choudhury’s name became synonymous with it. So it was but obvious that she decided to have an exhibition on the same lines. Her artwork uses vivid colours and her forte lies in oil on canvas and knife –brush painting. She has participated in many local, regional and national exhibitions.




he management of Shrimanta Shankar Academy, Dispur recently held a six-day exhibition in the State Art Gallery, Rabindra Bhawan to showcase the aspiring artistic talents of the students. The exhibition was inaugurated by Kishore Das, General Secretary, Artists’ Guild. The students displayed innovative art pieces by employing a variety of techniques such as pen and ink, pastel on paper, collage, acrylic, oil on canvas, masks, glass paintings, ceramic paintings and poster colours. 10

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The exhibition was the brainchild of noted artist Tulirekha Deb, who has been the Art teacher at the school since 1995. The art pieces were praiseworthy and near-perfect and in no way looked like the work of adolescents. What was praiseworthy was that the students had also employed the rare and difficult technique of ‘crow quill nibs’ and produced commendable art pieces.

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ECLECTIC MODEL HUNT All you beautiful girls out there, here’s some big news. Eclectic magazine is organising the “ECLECTIC MODEL HUNT”, a mega event that will give you the most glamorous platform to prove your talent to the world. From dainty darlings to dazzling divas, if you want to turn into a star overnight, this is one place you’d do anything to be in. The winner has lots of surprises for her in store. Along with a lot of goodies, she also gets a portfolio shoot and will get to be the cover face of ECLECTIC TIMES. So, what are you waiting for? Just fill up the form below and rush in your entries to: ECLECTIC MODEL HUNT 2010

Eclectic House, 34, P. B. Road, Rehabari, Guwahati - 781008 Call us at +91 94355-44836. Email us at The last date for entries is 31st October, 2010. ELIGIBILITY: You must be single, between the age group of 18-24 years, and with a height of not less than 5’2”. Fill up the form provided below with all the details and also send at least 3 recent photographs of yours.

REGISTRATION FORM NAME ____________________________________________ DATE OF BIRTH (DD/MM/YY): _____ / ____________/ _____________ FATHER’S NAME _____________________________________________== NATIONALITY ________________________ OCCUPATION _________________________ QUALIFICATION ______________________________________________ ADDRESS ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________ MOBILE: _____________________________E-MAIL: _____________________________________ HEIGHT (FT.): ____________ WEIGHT ___________ (Kgs) AGE ___________________ VITAL-STATISTICS __________

__________ __________

HOBBIES: ___________________________________________________________________ WHERE & HOW DID YOU HEAR ABOUT US? _________________________________________________________________ WHY DO YOU WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN ECLECTIC MODEL HUNT 2010? (In not more than 20 Words) ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ HAVE YOU EVER TAKEN PART IN ANY MODEL HUNT / BEAUTY PAGEANT BEFORE? [If your answer is yes, please state the competition you’ve participated in and the position won (if any).] Tick where appropriate. Yes: ________ No: ________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________ I, ____________________________, declare that the information given above is true. The management reserves the right to disqualify me at any point of the competition if any information that I’ve provided is found incorrect.


The contest is open only to girls from the Northeast • Incomplete forms are not valid • The selected contestants should make themselves available for the specified days of the contest • All travel expenses to be borne by the contestant • All travel risks to the venue of the event will be borne by the contestant • Management reserves the right to use the photographs, interviews, and video footage of the contestants for sales promotion, advertising, and live / recording programming • Dates of the contest can change due to extraneous events beyond our control • Prizes or gifts are non-transferable and no substitutes will be given • Any legal dispute will be subject to the jurisdiction of the Courts of Guwahati only.


event diary

ING NCERS GROOM DA G N I D D BU lose on the heels of the resounding success of Zee TV’s Dance India Dance


Lil’ Masters, Kidzee & Mount Litera Zee School launched their premium dance academy – Dance India Dance L’il Masters Academy on 8th October in Guwahati at Pragjyoti (ITA Centre for Performing Arts), Machkhowa. Gracing the event was the chief guest, Naveen Kundu, National Head, P-12 Division of Zee Learn Limited. Kundu said, “Based on the fact that dance enhances a child’s early development, the academy would be a part of various extracurricular activities at every Kidzee and Zee school present across India. This initiative is in line with Zee Learn’s unique pedagogy ‘iLLume and Litera Octave’ followed in Kidzee’s and Mount Litera Zee Schools respectively”. The academy would be open to all children in the age group of 3 to 6 years and 6 to 12 years. There will be 4 levels – Basic, Intermediate, Advanced and Masters – lasting for 2 months, for every group. The fees would range between Rs. 2000 – Rs. 2600 for every level. PHOTOS: HIMANGSHU LAHKAR



nthusing sportsmanship in the region’s youth, HQ IGAR (South) has announced a yearly football tournament, starting this year, with participation from all the nine districts of Manipur. This has been initiated to promote the rich sporting talent of the state and to forge cohesion amongst the various communities. There will be no registration fee and all the necessary arrangements – including transport, security and refreshments - will be conducted by Assam Rifles, with help from the local youths. There will be attractive prizes for all the winners.

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event diary

anza n o B g in p p o h S




elcoming the shopping season with a bang, Vraksh Event Solutions introduced the “Shopping ka Mousam” in Guwahati recently. Brainchild of event manager Ankush Kedia, the goal is to bring together the unorganised market in Guwahati under a single roof. Through the gala shopping event, Vraksh Event Solutions is providing a common platform of collective promotions offering highly attractive prizes like high end cars, foreign trips, bikes and electronic items, amongst others. The shopping fête seems well set to enhance the festive environment by engaging the society and by providing an avenue for entertainment.

Standing Tall


tanding at a w hopping height of 31 ft and comprising 28 hands, this particular Durga idol stood out amongst th e rest. The Bishnupur Sarb ajanin Durga Puja Committee in Guwahati celebrated thei r Diamond Jubilee this ye ar by specially preparing the pandal, which was 75 ft in he ight and 62 ft in breadth, to acco mmodate the huge idol of th e goddess. To add further ch arm to it, nine other idols depi ctin shaktis of ‘Durga g different Maa’ were also displayed. In or der to meet th e popular deman ds of the peop le visiting the pa ndal, the idol w as kept on displa y till 20 thOctob er. PH OTOS: POM PI


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‘NE’ws snippets

Commonwealth Glory

medals of Commonwealth The impressive tally from the es m ded quite a few na e and good won by India inclu id pr t ea ng home gr gi in br , on gi re rn medals from northeaste tshone with 4 gold ou ur ip an M le hi W cheer. la Chanu, Soniya , Yumnam Renu Ba am gb en ay M oy nj Sura ectively, Assam’s yala Leishram resp Chanu and Bomba v Devvarman d Tripura’s Somde the Jayanta Talukdar an edal each. A tally of clinched a gold m : e ar s al winner Northeastern med • • • • • • •

Yumnam Renu Bala Chanu (Manipur) – Gold in 58 kg Women’s Weightlifting Soniya Chanu (Manipur) – Gold in 48 kg Women’s Weightlifting Bombayala Leishram (Manipur) – Gold in Women’ Recurve Team, Archery Suranjoy Mayengbam (Manipur) - Gold in 52 kg Flyweight Boxing Bheigyabati Chanu (Manipur) – Bronze in Women’s Compound Team, Archery Jayanta Talukdar (Assam) – Gold in Men’s Recurve Team , Archery Somdev Devvarman (Tripura) – Gold in Men’ Single, Tennis

The choir’s got ta

Bringing a m lent! oment of pri region, the Sh de for everyb illong Chamb ody in the er Choir won reality show In th di e a’ coveted tale s Got Talent Kh prize money nt oj 2 and bagg and a Kawas ed Rs 50 lakhs in ak i 250cc Ninja air about thre bike. The sho e months ag w, which wen o, was judged Bendre along t on by actors Kir with director ro n Kher and So Sa Sangma also jid Khan. Meg nali attended the h al ay a Chief Ministe grand finale cheer and giv r M u ku o f l the reality sh e moral supp ow in Mumb ort to the Sh formed in 20 ai to illong Chamb 01 by a grou er Choir which p of singers w variety of mu was ho came tog sic. The choir, ether to prod mentored by was made up u ce a it s p ianist Neil No of singers Ibar ngkynrih, isha, Donna, Kevi, Sandon Je ss ica, Patricia D , Daman, Rie oren wbankit, Joh anan, Kynsai, Ryan and Ban lam.

open forum

Commonwealth Games Where did we go wrong? The Commonwealth Games has both been praised and derided for equally valid reasons. While the preparations exposed the corruption and ill-preparedness of our Government, the spectacular ceremonies and the acumen of our sportsmen showed the world what we as a nation are capable of. But what did you think? ET readers share their views. at that is wh g a race - e thinks of in n n ru r n A begga d when o alth Games. es to min we n o m first com e Com th g n won’t be ti s o d ell an it India h w n ra r a egg was not a But the b tion to say that it ple other peo era an exagg . People castigate er tt he ve no be catastrop ey themselves ha ry e v e s th that is th for thing But then, all over world r. fo s e v ti alterna yes from st people. E ted to ho nature of en India was selec least t a w o n wh es will y e e frowned s o h helmed event. T be overw ly re the mega ti n e here were s, if not ntment. T ich te frown les n o c d ks wh rise an with surp there were setbac at d dges but, n ri a b s g in ll fa hurdle to ed the m delays ter finish in a p e varied fro s of th , any bottle f the day the end o spective of how m er lining irre the silv painting nd that is A t. il k cloud. p s e a big blac ognition. colour h in r fo k r rec le loo that peop n as hope. Hope fo ope for a w . H s o n ic k p lym This is for ng the O ti s ep. Hope o h le s r fo m o fr p Hope u g till wakin country s hope. Sulakshana Rajkhowa, Guwahati

The PM’s D isaster Reli ef Fund sho The Comm uld conside onwealth G r ames 2010 worthy reci to be a pient of its favours; it w even before as a failure it started. T he greatest proven tru fears were e when two foreign nati attacked b onals were y gunmen. The inciden serious con t raised cerns abou t India’s cap provide a se acity to nse of secu rity to the e there was th vent. Then e serious fa ilure to me whether it et deadline be renovati s on or const The irony o ruction. f the situati on is how C completed hina has much of its preparation Asian Gam s for the es much ah ead of time people say , with some ing that the facilities are the 2008 B b eijing Olym pics. And in etter than its athletic India’s case village has , been deem and unlivea ed fi ble by seve ral teams. Ju lthy this with C x hina’s athle tic village w tapose earned kud hich has os for bein g eye-sooth greenery. T ing with 63 he final nail % s in India’s hammered coffin were when a foo tbridge coll to aggrava apsed and, te the situa tion, a stad came down ium’s ceilin too! Whew g ! And there mandatory is always th hand of co e rruption w long in our hich is very country. Oly mpics! Blasp This Is India hemy. “TII”.

Kaustav Bhagawati, Nagpur

In spite th e overall success o ignore th fC e mistake s. Our ‘cha WG, we cannot has result lta hai’ att ed in a lo itude t of ‘bad fa world. Be ce’ aroun fore the g d the ames, bo State gov th Ce ern discrepan ments promised to ntral and cies involv look into in the they don ’t forget th g the CWG and I hope eir promis be a prop e; there h er audit o as to f th the game s. India als e expenditures aro o needs to un its false p ride of be move bey d ing a sup o amount o nd erp f corrupti on, povert ower. With the India reall y y a “Supe rpower”? and hunger, is

Kunal Mushaha ry, Delhi 16

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Notwiths tanding th e fact tha outperfo t we rmed the expectati Common ons on us wealth G in ames, the bureaucra ruckus th the cy create a t the d to say the for us wa se le berated In ast. The same peo mbarrassing ple who dia’s lous y prepara singing a tions are different now tune alto we need gether. B to realise ut what is that wh years to p en repare fo r this relic we had 7 so why w of an eve as there s nt, o much h The emb ullabaloo arrassme ? nt that w felt collec e as a tiv think tha ely cannot be und nation t there are one. And to a individua ls to blam handful of few co rrupt e for it m Also, we akes me are very p angrier. ro many of our sport ud of the fact that smen wo so Games b n. But ha een in so d the me other these spo place abro rts ad, bureaucra men would have been mir tic tangle ed in s and wo been able uld have to achiev n ever e what th done by e now. No w that we y have already Games, it had a suc is time th ces at the gu ilty be trie sful d. Cynthia Ao, Pune

ng by naysayers wro er h ere d ve ro p ames 2010. Th India has Bravo India! monwealth G ut b m o s C er e g n th o g hostin rumour m e th g n o successfully am s ple read whisper ars of the peo were widesp iumphant ro tr feeble e k o th lo y s b ar ed st wn ade the m rs u they got dro lo co d d ding. In ia hts of myria d Indian wed n when the lig ra g a e lik astounding n. It was so given, an al in compariso t k u b , ed st fied by a quic only ho h can be veri ic has now not h uring w ct t ru en st re ev in the massive en se as h i performance h el circles. The medal tally. D felt in many as w is glance at the th f o had very on. The need ment, which rn ve o g and renovati n ia d a scale, has ort of the In on such a meg red to ts en herculean eff ev g in st is matu nce in ho es that India as little experie m o ated it Th g n nd or complic g e doubti ra g w o h f o proved to th on tive task, irrespec al opinion am deal with the ics, the gener it ! cr ia d ty In as o n g w a fe ve. Way to ti si o p is. Apart from as w s ing countrie the participat

Manjit Kashyap, Guwahati

NEXT MONTH’S TOPIC: In the light of NEHU being a central university, is the demand for a state Vice Chancellor justified? Send in your emails by November 10, 2010 to: openforum@ The best responses will be published in the next issue.

the NE trail

Whirlwind Weekend Got a spare weekend and want to escape the dust and grime of Guwahati? Amit Sengupta suggests a weekend getaway to Shillong along with an itinerary jam-packed with lots to see and do! assortment of green pines against the orange sky. Located in Ri Bhoi district, it was originally known as Umiam Lake. There are quite a few pretty hotels We set off after lunch cruising down the highway out which overlook the lake, offering perfect views of its of Guwahati. Hiring a cab could cost between R 1500 beauty amidst the verdant abundance of nature. For - R 2000 or else one could travel in the shared cabs adventure freaks, there is also a water sports complex which would range from R 200 for AC Taxi that provides a choice of row-boats, paddleto R 140 for non-AC. Mesmerised by the boats, cruise boats, sailing boats, water I was slow ascent amidst hills and greenery, scooters and speed boats. waiting eagerly for we were soon at Nongpoh, the Checking in legendary ‘stop for tea’ for all Barapani Lake and just ARRIVAL: We were staying at one of those bound for Shillong. After a as we turned a corner, the most reputed and famous bite at one of the bustling road hotels of the Northeast side restaurants, we headed off there it was, surrounded – the Pinewood Hotel. It is again. by sylvan hills and government-owned and I was waiting eagerly for Barapani Lake and just as we wrapped in the beauty of perched in a secluded area, away from the heart turned a corner, there it was an assortment of green ofslightly the town. With its wooden surrounded by sylvan hills and pines against the flooring and photographs, the wrapped in the beauty of an

FRIDAY AFTERNOON: Cab to Shillong from Paltan Bazar

orange sky. 18

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spacious lounge reverberated with a cosy ambience, its character still reminiscent of the old British charms. We decided to freshen up and take a walk into the heart of the city to acquaint ourselves with this bustling hill station. After a leisurely stroll, we hit the sack after a sumptuous meal.

SATURDAY MORNING: Incredible Cherrapunji

Shillong Golf Course

The cab charged a neat R 1500 for a round trip to arguably the wettest place in the world. The package also included a sightseeing tour to some of the most breathtaking places in the state of Meghalaya – known as Scotland of East – and rightly so. So, after breakfast, we started our journey towards Cherrapunji, situated 55 km from Shillong, and as we entered the small village, thick dark fog engulfed our cab throughout the curvaceous hilly roads. With shrunken spirits we walked towards the Nokhalikhai Falls entrance gate. The peak season to see the falls is from October to February. We then went to the Eco Park, which is the source of the Seven Sister Falls, situated amidst dense cinnamon forests and rocky cliffs. These falls come down from an unbelievable height. The entire park has an undulating

Shillong Factofile: The capital city has been the seat of government since the consolidation of the British administration in this part of India, more than a century ago. Shillong is also the headquarters of the North Eastern Council (NEC), the Eastern Air Command the Assam Regimental Centre, the North Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Martin Luther Christian University (MLCU). The city is also the regional headquarters of Power Grid for the northeastern region. NEIGRIHMS, the first and the only Postgraduate Medical Institute in the northeastern region, and third in the country, has been established in Shillong. Shillong also boasts of having the first Indian Institute of Management (RGIIM), in the northeastern region. Elephant Falls

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Hanging out in Shillong: Police Bazaar

landscape with lush grass and flowers, with a stream running in between. Satisfied, we asked our taxi driver to take us to our next destination – Limestone Caves. Situated under the thick dark forest land and spread over a distance of 150 metres, the caves are lit inside but they have a rocky terrain, dripping rain and constricted space for people to squeeze through. We cautiously took off our shoes and walked barefoot. In certain places inside the cave the water was knee-deep but it was an exciting experience to be inside nature’s hiding places. After a quick lunch at a nearby restaurant, we knew we had to return to Shillong early before the evening fog engulfed us again.

SUNDAY MORNING: Whirlwind tour of Shillong before lunch Shillong is situated at an altitude of 1,496 metres above sea level and has a bracing climate throughout the year. We still hadn’t explored this picturesque city and so we kicked off with the Shillong Golf Course, also known as Golf Links. At one time it was famous as the only natural golf course in Asia. After 20

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The most popular shopping areas are Police Bazaar and Bara Bazaar. Situated in the heart of the town, both places ooze the ambience of a cosmopolitan town. A shoppers paradise, you will find everything from finely-worked jewellery, handicrafts, chunky artifacts, woollen garments, carpets and much more. Try out the government-owned emporium ‘Purbashree’ for souvenirs. If you have time, try some lazy boating at the famed Ward’s Lake. It’s a transforming experience that brings you closer to nature’s abode. Shillong is a hot spot for the food connoisseurs and restaurants are aplenty. Chinese, Indian or Tibetan – you name it, you will find it here. Shuruchi is reputed for serving popular Bengali dishes. Other eateries include: Bamboo Hut, City Dhaba, Bombay Bites and the famous Delhi Mishtana Bhandar as well. Besides, there are numerous tiny food joints or else restaurants of Hotel Alpine Continental, Pinewood Resort, Hotel Polo Towers. Choose according to your purse strings.

Shillong Peak

View from Shillong Peak


Cherrapunji Cathedral Church

that we saw the spectacular Shillong Cathedral Church. Dressed in blue, it was one of the largest Cathedral Churches I have ever known. One can get a real feel of the place by simply hanging around here. Then we headed towards the highest peak of the town – Shillong Peak – where we beheld magnificent views of the city. Try munching on a hot roasted cob of corn smothered with salt, chilly and lemon juice as you gaze at the undulating landscape. No trip to upper Shillong is complete without a visit to the nearby Elephant Falls. It’s an experience of pure tranquility watching nature’s water spout through the thick undergrowth and plethora of birds. As we entered, a trickle of tourists poured in from Guwahati, some of whom opted to be photographed in traditional Khasi attire for R 50 a shot.

SUNDAY AFTERNOON – back to Guwahati As all good things have to come to an end, we came back to the town for lunch and then collected our luggage from the hotel. Soon we were on our way back to Guwahati in a cab in much the way we came – the only difference being that this time we had with us glorious memories of Shillong! So, if you’re wondering what to do this weekend, you know where to head: go and discover Meghalaya! The writer is a travel journalist. All photographs by author November 2010 │eclectic times │ 21

my story - uncensored

Mentally bruised...

“We are taught to respect our elders but how could I respect him when he did something like this to me?” ET talks to a real victim of molestation in this no-holds-barred account.


or a young girl, I believe a 58-year-old man is more dangerous than a 25-year-old man because he will take greater risks to satisfy his lust. On the other hand, an educated 25-year-old guy understands and knows the repercussions of his actions. I travel by bus a lot and I can tell you this for a fact: a young guy is always a gentleman and will get up for a lady. He will not dare to physically touch you. But try sitting or standing next to an old man and he will prod or poke you. Once, when I was standing on the bus, I felt someone poking me. When I turned around, I saw it was an old man with a white beard! Older men are far more dangerous than young men. I believe this to be cent per cent true…or maybe I feel this way because I was molested by a 58-year-old man when I was only 12-years-old. Though I’m a young woman* now, I wish to tell you my story, so that if you have a young daughter or a little sister, you will be more aware...

Family friend The man who molested me was my dad’s business partner, though he was much senior to him. My dad respected him a lot. He came over to our house regularly. We had often gone on outings with him to different places and he had become very close to our family. His wife lived away from him with their two boys. That’s why mum often invited him over for dinner. He was extremely friendly towards me and would affectionately hug and kiss me as a normal uncle. I simply felt that here was an uncle who really liked me as he said I was a sweet girl.

Unsuspecting victim I can still remember that day as if it was only yesterday. I was studying in Class 6. One afternoon I was resting after lunch. My mother was at work and my younger brother had gone to tuition. My father had gone to the nearby shops to buy some snacks for tea, as this particular uncle was due to be coming over at about 5 o’ clock. I drifted off to sleep and awoke suddenly when I heard the doorbell ring. I got up and opened the door, even though I was still groggy. It 22

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LEGAL UPDATE was Uncle. He came inside and I mother came back from work, I showed him to the sitting room. I told her about it. She was shocked brought him a glass of water. He but she couldn’t confront Uncle was sitting on the sofa and asked because there was no proof. me where the other members of She couldn’t openly accuse him the family were. I told them they because he was so senior and on were all out but Papa would be good terms with us, so she kept quiet. Uncle was behaving entirely arriving any minute now as he’d normally the whole time. just gone to the shops. Once he realised I was alone, he asked me After effects to come to him and sit on his lap. After he left, my mother I was a little hesitant at first but told my father and his visits then I thought he only wanted to give me a normal hug as he usually became much fewer. As I grew older and began to understand did. So I went to him and sat on what he’d done to me, I felt like his lap. He started to hug me and I wanted to kill him. As a person, then suddenly he started to fondle I became aggressive my breasts and tried to undo the buttons of my top. He even put my hand on his groin. I was numb with Though I shock. All I remember thinking knew what he’d was how I could get away from him, how I could distract him. He done to me was bad I had clamped me between his myself never felt dirty. He legs so that I couldn’t escape didn’t touch my soul, did even though I was trying to wriggle away from him. He was he? If he had touched my a big man and so it was difficult soul too, that would for me to free myself. I kept telling him to let go of me and he have made me feel relented only when he realised my dirty. father was outside the gate having come back from the shops. easily. Initially I tried to keep it Blatant lies suppressed - maybe it is still there By the time my father came somewhere within me - but I into the house, I was in my realised that remaining angry was bedroom. I didn’t know what not the answer. I told myself that had exactly happened only that I had to get past it and back to it felt very wrong and extremely normal as quickly as I could and so uncomfortable. I was close to I kept myself as busy as possible. tears trying to make some sense Don’t dwell of it. When my father saw me, he If anyone out there has gone scolded me asking me why I was in through what I have gone through, the bedroom when uncle was all alone in the sitting room. I told him this is what I want to tell you: yes, it’s horrible when molestation that I’d already given him a glass happens, but try not to dwell too of water. When my father went to much into it. Don’t blame yourself, speak to him, I overheard Uncle don’t think you are spoiled, that telling him that he’d been all alone no one will marry you, just try to and that I hadn’t even come to talk forget that part of your life. Keep to him at all. He lied so blatantly to your mind distracted. If you’re save himself. I was seething with watching television and you see anger because he’d lied. When my


Till now, the Indian Penal Code does not recognise child sexual abuse (CSA) as a separate offence. The only sections that were invoked from the IPC were 354 (‘intent to outrage her modesty’), 376 (which deals with rape, specifically of a woman by a man) and, where boys were concerned, section 377 dealing with sodomy. However, the second working draft of The Protection of Children from Sexual Assault Bill, 2010 is a remarkably gender-neutral draft, which allows for Special Courts to deal with CSA. It lists the procedures to be followed for recording a child’s evidence and to protect his or her identity, and a requirement of a verdict within a year. In the draft bill, CSA has been delineated into five categories, with differing punishments — sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, penetrative sexual assault, aggravated penetrative sexual assault and sexual harassment. The Bill recognises the role of social workers and NGOs who work in this field as vital to dealing with abuse. For instance, children who are mentally or physically challenged are allowed to have a special educator present to record their statement. (Source : The Hindu, July 2010) anything that triggers any memories, just change the channel.

Soul untouched Though I knew what he’d done to me was bad, I never felt dirty. He didn’t touch my soul, did he? If he had touched my soul too, that would have made me feel dirty. Yes, he touched me physically, but not all of me. I know I’ve come through it because it doesn’t affect me anymore. It was a part of my life and now it’s gone forever. As told to Loya Agarwala (*name withheld to protect identity) November 2010 │eclectic times │ 23


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

My marriage of 15 years broke Q down recently when I found out that my wife was cheating on me with one of her colleagues. My 13-year-old daughter has become aggressive ever since and refuses to even talk about her mum. My 10-year-old son has become withdrawn and reclusive. I feel helpless. My own pain has taken a backseat. Please tell me how to help my children cope with this mess. Name withheld on request Avilasha: Resilience is a person’s ability to cope with living in spite of stresses, and that’s what you need right now. You cannot always prevent things from going wrong for your children, but you can help them build strengths so that they are more able to successfully face setbacks like this. Therefore, don’t criticise your wife or ask them to spy on her as many parents do. Answer their questions no matter how painful the subject is for

you. Right now your children are feeling confused and caught in the middle. Make whatever adjustments you have to so that your children can be children, with responsibilities of their normal age range. Also, don’t try to buy them love as your attention and love is what they need most now. Watching them heal gradually will in turn help you heal as well. ET QUACK: Train yourself to do a great Donald Duck impersonation, and then take them to Disney World to meet the real duck! That should cheer them up! With Western music being the Q rage in the city, my 20-year-old son seems hell bent on being a rock star. I think he does not sing too well and repeated advices to stop making such unrealistic aspirations have strained my relationship with him. I even tried to tell him to take music lessons but he’s not even ready to do that. I’m scared that if he wastes the prime period of his youth in sanguine expectations, he will sorely regret it later. Mridusmita Changkakati, Jorhat Avilasha: A Portland based rock band Everclear has a song titled ‘Rockstar’, which aptly defines your son’s state of mind and attitude right now and the phase in life that he’s passing through. Some of the lyrics of the song go like this “I don’t want to be a loser...I don’t want to be and almost was. I don’t want to be a white trash working class chump…that’s why I want to be a rock star. I want to be the king. I want to be on top, yeah. I just want to be a rock star. Yeah. Now I just want to be famous. I want to be the guy that everybody wants”. So sit back, go through the entire lyrics of the song and relax as this too shall pass! ET QUACK: Dress up as a rockstar and karaoke to his favourite songs, over and over again. He’ll find the idea of you being a rock star so revolting that he might quit the idea himself! My 15-year-old brother seems to Q have a lot of wounds in his arms these days. Initially, I thought it was drugs. I tried coaxing it out of him but he did not relent. However, one of his friend’s confided in me that he is into wounding himself because apparently, he loves the pain! When confronted, he refused any professional help. I am at my wit’s end. Priscila Jamir, Dimapur

Avilasha: Masochists hurt themselves to get off, for the pleasure, the rush, and the high. Your brother engages in self-mutilation to release whatever it is that’s bothering him at that time. He may also harm himself as punishment for something that he did or had said and finds self-injury to be his coping mechanism and release from the horrible emotions of everyday life. And since he’s refused to seek help, you need to address why he has turned to hurting himself just to feel something different? So, with an accepting, open and non-judgmental attitude, make him feel safe and secure in talking and to control his urge and, if required, stay with him until the urge is gone. But never threaten or get angry. ET QUACK: Take him for a men’s version of a bikini wax. Believe me, the pain will put him off hurting himself for life! I am a 25-year-old girl, about to be Q married early next year. My fiancé is a loving man but he remains busy most of the time. Lately, I have been seeing an old flame. We meet on the sly and go out on long drives. I do not love this guy but something about him feels right to me. I feel confused and don’t really know what to do. Supriti Kashyap, Shillong Avilasha: All I have to say to this is put yourself in your fiancé’s shoes for a minute and stop thinking selfishly. Isn’t it better to tell him that he is not loved anymore and that there is someone else, than hurting him (behind his back) like this, just because in your mind you can’t stop thinking of another guy? On the other hand, you also need to ask yourself, is it really worth jumping fences just because the grass looks greener on the other side? If your answer to that question is a simple yes, then I suggest you don’t drag this much longer, and set your fiancé free as a bird, so that he can start picking up the pieces of his shattered heart, and move onto someone who can really love him for himself and treat him with respect. ET QUACK: Face it, honey, you aint into either. Ditch them both, go on a holiday and come back refreshed and ...ready for a new guy!!

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. 24

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DISCLAIMER: Follow the suggestions of the ET Quack entirely at your own peril.

Illustration: Abhishek Kumar


I am a 24-year-old girl. I tend to get worried easily and when I do, I eat whatever I can lay my hands on. After a while I make myself sick because I feel so guilty about my over eating. This has been going on for a few weeks now and I feel that if I do not control my binge eating, I will end up in bad shape - both mentally and physically. Please help. Sumita Kashyap, Silchar Avilasha: Food is often used as a distraction from anxiety, rewarding the pleasure centres of the brain, with eating. Abundant food is often the barometer of security and happiness of a compulsive eater, which is the case with you. When you are worried you eat just about anything - especially foods that are low on nutrition but high on comfort. But remember what the Bible says: “With you as God’s steward, you must live in discipline and wisdom. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit so you must take good care of it.” Therefore, go for counselling and therapy to get rid of your dysfunctional behavioural patterns stemming from emotional conflicts that need to be resolved in order to develop a healthy relationship with food. ET QUACK: Go to a gastroenterologist to get your stomach stapled, so that even if you do gorge, you have no option but to stop! That’s the only way to have your cake and eat it too!

picture perfect

FLOWER POWER Could there be anything sweeter, prettier or more alluring than a simple flower? Coquettish or bold, vivacious or demure, vibrant or plain, flowers come with differing personalities synonymous to humans. Feel their changing moods in the following striking poses…

Red and dainty, she stands out in her glory. Photo: Bidya Sagar Baruah The white cluster of peace and tranquility. Photo: Alpaxee Kashyap

November 2010 │eclectic times │ 25

Perfection, frozen at the right time Photo: Himangshu Lahkar

In their contrast, they are the cynosure of all eyes. Photo: Dipankar Bhagawati


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Holding hands and sitting pretty. Photo: Bhaskar J

Blooming in her crowning glory. Photo: Bhaskar J

Boldly basking in the sun Photo: Dipankar Bhagawati

social sense

Reality bites

With children’s reality TV shows becoming increasingly popular, what are the repercussions on the child contestant? ET talks to experts and professionals to find out.


he day reality TV burst into the spheres of our imagination in the early 90s with shows like SaReGaMa, everyone felt that TV will change forever. Well it has changed; but whether it is for better or worse is something that hogs raging debates on primetime even today. Reality TV has done a lot for the cause of the anonymous Indian – an unknown face in the milling crowd trying to be a somebody. And suddenly, a treasure chest of undiscovered talent was pried open for all of us to discover and appreciate. With each passing phase, reality TV lounged onto untouched territory. Today, the new kids on the reality TV block are well, ‘kids’ themselves. In the last couple of years, children’s reality TV

Shahin Azmi Bora: Shaping careers at such a young age was unimaginable during our childhood.

shows have replaced the good old cartoons and quiz shows on the must-watch list of many a child. The fact that the child-next-door could be the next Sunidhi Chauhan (who shot into fame after winning SaReGaMa on Zee TV) or Debojit Saha has churned out many unlimited possibilities. To this effect, there are many shows on air today that are child-centric, exploring the hopeful talents that young children around the country are eager to showcase. There are many

to perform and shape their careers at a nubile age. This was something that was unimaginable when we were young. How I wish we were as fortunate as them”, says Bora. “They give children the opportunity to explore their hidden talents and also inculcate a competitive spirit in them”, adds Bijoya. But then, what really happens when the media circus packs up and leaves? Are these children emotionally mature enough to deal with the comingback-to-reality grind? A couple of years ago when a Kolkata teenager lapsed into coma after being rebuked by the show’s judges on air, the outcry prompted the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights to regulate rules under which these shows will be monitored. Sangeeta Goswami, a counselling psychologist and the president of MIND India tells us, “Accustomed to pushing their children to perform well at school, many parents appear to have little idea about the fragility of a child’s personality when millions are watching their earnest efforts. Jui Nandi: My They have no idea of how harmful it can be for a daughter would have child to be criticised in public. It is possible to suffer never managed the from mental trauma after being rebuked in front of people. The child may undergo physical as well as exposure, had it not mental stress due to the pressure of working in real been for the show. time. Some may say it amounts to child labour and child abuse.” promising stories Jui Nandi, however, squares the blame on many that have come out of the parents. “The channel producers had psychologists reality TV bandwagon. As Jui Nandi, on the show. The judges ensured that they were not mother of Zee TV Lil Champs’ Albeli Antara Nandi, insensitive in their comments. They even provided aptly puts it, “Reality shows will have both good and tutors to help the children study. But the parents bad to offer. But Antara, thankfully, has benefited from bothered very little about their children’s studies even being on the show. She’s a completely different girl when these children were away from school for more today; she’s confident and has even become a crowdthan six months during the show. While the creative puller. The exposure and grooming that she was given team supported every child who was voted on the show is something that would not have been out, it was the parents who were most possible otherwise.” For her own part, Antara considers difficult with the children. I had seen sharing the same podium as Asha tai as the highlight of parents beat up their children for her times on the show. Echoing the same, programme underperforming.” producers of News Live’s Dipesh Bhagawati, Schoolwiz, Shahin Azmi Bora and HOD, Psychiatry, Dipesh Bhagawati: Bijoya Kalita add that, “Reality Children are emotionally Gauhati Medical shows give children a platform College feels that,


Bijoya Kalita: Reality

“Children are not emotionally mature shows are shaping young to deal with the emotional slump that careers and inculcating a comes with the elimination from a show. competitive spirit. Even for those that shine, the show will not last forever. All these might end up with severe consequences.” Speaking of News Live’s children shows, Kalita tells us the shows were scheduled with adequate rest in between shoots. Food was provided to children and medics were kept ready to ensure that immediate medical attention was available whenever necessary. S.K. Priyanka, whose 4-year-old daughter, B. Palkee was a part of Aamare Moina, does not have a very positive story to tell. “My daughter was delighted to be a part of the show. But the show’s schedule stretched throughout the whole day. The show has a moment where my daughter is almost dozing off on screen. They did not even provide any food.” Are we pushing our children to deliver, only to ensure a quick shot at fame? “In response to this accusation, parents may try to justify themselves by saying that it was the personal choice of the child. But is a child of five or six years capable of expressing their choice explicitly or understanding the kind of stress that is associated with it?” asks Goswami. “These channels must take certain precautions when it is a children’s reality show in question. Firstly, there should be a consensus on a child’s minimum

Sangeeta Goswami: Being rebuked on a public platform can have damaging influences on a child.

age. Secondly, all reality shows should have psychologists and counsellors on the set to provide counselling for children who leave the show.” It is certainly true that S K Priyanka: reality shows have introduced The day-long shoot a plethora of unfettered was physically opportunities in front of us. In the promising brightness of draining for my the arclights, young talents are four-year-old. discovered and nurtured so that successful future careers can blossom. But if we pause and think, does every child have the potential to become a star overnight? Is it really necessary that every child will have a talent to showcase? While reality shows are the much-needed platform for those with a gifted faculty to climb higher, it is also possible that they are, in the process, destroying the innocence of childhood. Words: Amrita Madhukalya 30

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Apple Muffins American muffins are like sweet buns. This version uses apple sauce for a yummy difference! Ingredients for apple sauce ‹ ½ cup grated apples ‹ 1 tbsp raisins ‹ 50 gm sugar ‹ ¼ cup milk ‹ ½ tsp nutmeg, freshly grated ‹ 75 gm butter Ingredients for muffins ‹ 150 gm flour ‹ 1 tsp custard powder ‹ ¼ tsp baking powder ‹ ½ tsp cinnamon powder ‹ 1tbsp chopped walnuts ‹ 1 tbsp grated chocolate Method Make the apple sauce first: In a saucepan put the milk, sugar and raisins and bring it to boil. Add grated apple, nutmeg and butter, stir for 5 minutes and remove from heat. Allow to cool. Sieve the flour, custard powder, cinnamon powder and the baking powder together. When the apple mixture is cool, fold in the dry ingredients together with the walnuts. Grease the muffin tins and spoon the batter into them. Sprinkle little grated chocolate on top of each muffin, if desired. Bake in a hot oven 170 degree C for 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot with tea or coffee. 32

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Cookery writer Indira Kakati’s first cook book, Eggless Baking, was published in 1980 by Vikas Publishing, Delhi. Here she presents a selection of exclusive recipes especially for ET. Indira is from Shillong and her motto in life is: Passion, Practice and Patience leads to perfection.

Apricot ‘n’ Cream Cake Perfect accompaniment to afternoon tea! Ingredients ‹ 100 gm flour ‹ 1 tsp custard powder ‹ 1 tsp baking powder ‹ 75 gm butter ‹ 50 gm castor sugar ‹ 1 tbsp apple sauce (refer to previous recipe) ‹ 1 tsp vanilla ‹ 2 tbsp milk Method Sieve flour, custard powder and baking powder together. Beat butter and sugar till light and creamy. Add apple sauce and vanilla. Fold in flour mixture into the creamy mixture alternating with milk. Grease a round 6 inch diameter pie tin and and dust with flour. Spoon the mixture into it and bake in a preheated oven 175 degree C for 30 minutes. When cool, decorate with sliced apricot slices and serve with freshly whipped cream.

Tofu/Paneer Flan The pastry case is first half-baked and then filled with either paneer or tofu in a delicious cheesy filling. Ingredients for the flan case ‹ 200 gm flour ‹ 100 gm butter ‹ 1 tsp lemon juice ‹ Pinch of salt ‹ Cold water to make the dough Ingredients for topping ‹ 250 gm tofu/paneer ‹ 1 tsp corn flour ‹ 1 cup milk ‹ ¼ cup cream ‹ 1 tbsp tomato paste ‹ 1 tbsp chopped parsley ‹ 2 tbsp grated cheese ‹ Salt to taste

Method Make the pastry first: Sieve the flour and the salt together in a large bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add lemon juice and water to make into a dough. Wrap the dough in plastic film and chill for 30 minutes. Roll out the dough to fit into the prepared flan pan. Chill it again for about 15 minutes to prevent shrinkage in the oven. Line a lightly greased flan pan with the pastry, prick well and bake in a moderate oven 150 degree C for 10 minutes. In the meantime, fry onion in the butter until tender. Crush the tofu/paneer with hand and add it to the fried onion. Fry for a few minutes. Add salt. Allow it to cool. Make a white sauce with the flour and milk. Beat in the tomato paste and cream into the sauce. Add parsley, tofu and onion to the sauce mixture. Pour the mixture into the partially baked pastry shell. Sprinkle cheese over the top and bake in a moderate oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Serve hot. November 2010 │eclectic times │ 33

NE pride

THE CRUSADER Award-winning journalist and activist, Padmashree Patricia Mukhim, unveils the issues close to her heart in a conversation with ET.

One cannot consent to creep when one has an impulse to soar. –Helen Keller


nd soar she did. Not just on the skies of northeast India, but on the firmament of India’s journalistic history, redefining, upholding the ethics and reinforcing the belief that the pen indeed does wield immense power when used in a constructive way. The list of awards that adorn her shelf are self-explanatory of the awe-inspiring journey that she has traversed, but it is the unmistakable humility that makes Padmashree Patricia Mukhim stand apart from the crowd. Early childhood memories of humiliation and ridicule linger in her mind, of a struggle that impacted her deeply, and which stoked in her a fire to make a significant contribution to society. But what would she have been if she were not a journalist? “Well, I might have ended up as a teacher, a disillusioned teacher, in fact...” smiles Mukhim. “I was 34

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Z Chameli Devi Jain Award for

Mukhim with Patricia Corchran, Chairperson, Inuit Circumpolar Council

teaching since 1974. I taught English and since most of the students were from a rural area, I had to teach English in Khasi! You see, I was forced to bring down my standard and I was not happy, because it was neither satisfying nor challenging. I had started writing while I was teaching but after a point of time I realized that it was extremely difficult to devote more time to writing while trying to balance both the professions. So I quit teaching in 2002,” she reveals. Her desire for new challenges saw her taking up a project called Indigenous Women’s Resource Centre in Shillong which provides gender training, advocacy, and capacity building. Having witnessed many turbulent times not just in her home state but also all over India, Mukhim agrees that the environment plays an important role in shaping young minds. Today we live in times characterised by rampant corruption and a breakdown of moral values. So, have we, as parents and guardians

Outstanding Woman Mediaperson by Media Foundation, New Delhi, 1996 Z Padmashree Award for social work, March 2000 Z Outstanding Woman Journalist Award by FICCI-FLO, Mumbai, 2008 Z Shiva Prasad Borooah National Award for Journalism, June 2009

totally failed in bringing up a generation on positive mentality and good, moral values? “Well, you see, I believe that there is no set module for parenting. All parents would want to bring up their children in the best way possible. However, some of us succeed and some of us fail. Certain values become ingrained in our minds from a very young age. Besides, we live in a fast paced world where consumerism rules and everything has an instant gratification. And it’s not just a matter of financial corruption that confronts us today; we ourselves are insincere when it comes to performing our duties or offering our services. Peer pressure also exerts its own influence in terms of perpetrating a consumerist society where you are only as good as the material goods you possess,” explains Mukhim. “Sometimes, if the child grows up witnessing a father indulging in corrupt practices and if he has to bear the brunt of his classmates’ comments regarding his parent, it might lead to behavioural

changes in him. So it’s all related, you see,” she further elaborates. And incidentally, since women play a significant role in nurturing the family, Mukhim sees their extension into the socio-political arena as well, as an important catalyst in the growth and expansion of a gender-sensitised society. One way of ensuring effective changes, Mukhim feels, is the imperative need for more educated women to join politics as this enables a wider reach of the masses. “Women’s participation is important because we need to create and spread awareness about health care. We need more fund allocation for women’s health care and other such vital issues, and the elected representatives, I feel, can voice such concerns at the concerned level, so things can actually begin to change. More educated women need to go to rural areas and talk about reproductive rights of women. You see, poverty is increasing in Meghalaya and I find it quite November 2010 │eclectic times │ 35

alarming. The percentage of people living below poverty line (BPL) has gone up from 49% to 66% in the last couple of years. There is no point in having too many children as this only perpetuates the poverty. In most cases, women do not have any choice in deciding the size of the family. Hence, the role of educated women in explaining to both men and women the necessity of planning a family so that it enables a better standard of living becomes so imperative,” she explains. It is in issues like these which affect the larger part of society as a whole that Mukhim QUICK TAKES finds herself in the I love reading, listening role of an activist. to soft and soothing music, And in doing so, she plays an immensely sitting in the sun or in a important role quiet and peaceful place. in influencing government Favourite food: decisions that stride. Khasi and Chinese could have wide I’m very implications. “Yes, I am proud to cuisine constantly talking with have her as a the government regarding friend, someone a lot of issues. We need to come who is unorthodox together to expose all the wrongbut has a firm faith in God”. doings because as a society, it is our Even though she is currently collective responsibility and not working as the editor of the Shillong just the work of a few individuals,” Times, Mukhim has worn a number she smiles, driving home a very of hats – a teacher, a journalist pertinent point. and an activist – and has left many Having lived in Shillong for the milestones behind. As I ask her greater part of her life, Mukhim’s about her dreams, her eyes light concern for Meghalaya is both up and there is an unmistakable appreciable and understandable. passion in her voice as she reveals A moody Piscean, creative, at times the ultimate desire of every impatient, who loves to cook and journalist—to write a book. “Yes, I entertain people, she has touched wish to write about the matrilineal the lives of many across the state. society of Meghalaya. I wish to As someone who has known demystify the matrilineal system as Mukhim since the past 12 years, her people see it. Contrary to popular friend Christine Iralu says, “She is a belief, the women in Meghalaya dynamic person and not afraid to are very vulnerable. The youngest take risks and sticks her neck out for daughter does not inherit the public issues. She’s always there to property but is rather the custodian help people and never turns away. of the property. She cannot sell it, And although she faces criticism except only the property that she for her work, she takes it all in her may buy on her own. Politically,

Mukhim receiving the Padmashree from the former President K.R. Narayanan

we are invisible. In the Dorbar, we have only one female member as opposed to 60 males. A Khasi marriage breaks very easily since there is no social sanction, nor any compulsory legal registration. So you see, there are so many issues that I feel need to be presented so as to ensure a better understanding of the people and this region,” says Mukhim, a sense of hope audible enough, even as she voices her concerns of the land that is so dear to her heart. For a woman who packs a lot of punch into her language and her activism, it is no surprise that in her younger days, she was an athlete and played basketball. At 56, she won the Women’s Table Tennis title at the North East Journalist’s Sports Meet in 2009. The arena may have changed today, but the mobility is still very much visible. As is her precision of focused writings that set off a chain reaction. Of changes for the better. The power of a single individual can bring about unprecedented changes, not just in the immediate environment but influence the collective psyche to induce positive outcomes. In recent history, few perhaps, exemplify it more than Patricia Mukhim. Words: Nazneen Hussain


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Photos: Patricia Mukhim

November 2010 │eclectic times │ 37

live in style



With Diwali around the corner, ET enters the glowing world of candle-maker and entrepreneur Chandrani Sarmah

Photo: Chandrani Sarmah

“I want my candles to have a Northeastern touch through the designs, bright colours of the different tribes and cultures.”


s soon as I entered Chandrani Sarmah’s apartment, I felt like a kid in a candy shop. Wherever I looked, I saw examples of her exquisite candles dotted aesthetically around her living area. Each piece was exclusively handcrafted and in some way reflected an expression of herself. As Chandrani explains, “The way you can colour and shape a candle, or the way you want it to be illuminated, or whatever fragrance you want it to have, all of these factors are in your control. Therefore, they are like a form of selfexpression. Whatever I see outside, or whatever I feel, I try to bring it into my candles.”

Passion to profession Chandrani’s affinity to the craft of candle-making started when she was a little girl. “When I was in Class 7, my Art and Craft teacher introduced me to candles. Later, I started making them as a hobby and gifted them to others. So my craft is my passion, but for the last five years, I also took it up as my profession.” Marketing her candles under the brand name Earthsong, Chandrani has turned her passion into a lucrative business venture; today she “When we talk sells her products locally as about Assam, we well as nationally. “I have recently tied up with the talk about cane Marwar shopping mall in craft, bamboo, Jodhpur and Bangalore but largely I sell my candles in jute, muga paat the Northeast. In Assam, etc., but why don’t Sohum Shoppe has taken my candles exclusively for the we popularise last 5 years.”

“I love floating candles. After evening puja everyday, I put two candles on the dining Artistic Décor table and the corners of With candles no longer being a the house. They give a functional necessity in spotlighting effect this day and age, it may and a lovely come as a surprise that ambience.”

candle-making as another ‘craft’ of the Northeast, due to the abundance of paraffin wax?”

the trend of buying candles November 2010 │eclectic times │ 39

“You can use almost anything to decorate your candles. I often use dry flowers, shells, pulses, wooden beads, sari borders, bamboo motifs and even water hyacinth!” Photo: Chandrani Sarmah

Raw materials

is increasing year after year. As Chandrani confirms, “Yes, there is still a rising trend in buying candles - not necessarily to light, but as objects of art. A good candle is basically a piece of art and should be treated as such because it is pleasing to you and adds to your room’s décor. Everybody wants their living room to be cosy and beautiful with a certain freshness, especially when there is so much pollution outside. So, a candle adds to the ambience and, at the same time, you can light it should you want!”

By now, although I was convinced about the aesthetic beauty of candles, I wanted to know more about the source and availability of the main component, the wax. When I asked her, Chandrani’s eyes literally lit up. “You won’t believe it but the paraffin wax from which the candles are made is abundantly produced in the Digboi Refinery, Assam. However, the maximum amount of it is exported outside the state, made into candles and then sent back here to Assam and sold! It’s even exported to other countries like Dubai. It’s really “Since my sad that we’ve been unable husband, Puberun Sarmah, to utilize this availability. is an artist, he also helps me When we talk about in designing candles. We Assam, we talk about both have developed a lot of cane craft, bamboo, designs – in fact more than 200 muga paat etc., but why of our own.” don’t we popularise

candle-making as another ‘craft’ of the Northeast, due to the abundance of paraffin wax?” As part of her own initiative, Chandrani has already opened up a training centre where she gives a 5-day course in the art of candle making. It was uncanny for me to be talking to a woman who radiated an inexplicable love for her corner of the world, just as a candle radiates light. As she empathetically says, “I’m from Assam and I love the Northeast and I know that the Northeast stands out all over India. I would want to do something from my heart and that feeling will naturally help me become a better person and a better mum for my children, so that they can contribute something as well. As it is, everything will perish one day, so I hope my craft will be my contribution, because I want to leave something good for the future.” Words: Loya Agarwala


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If you are a smart and socially savvy young professional with a zest for life,, then send your photo and details to: editorial@ to be the eclectic lady of the month.

Your name Taniya Talukdar Years on earth 29 Profession Journalist City you live in Bangalore Three words that best describe you Funny, passionate and intelligent Person/Place/Animal/Thing you love most Books... I can get lost in them Person you idolize Barkha Dutt What you hate Lying A mantra you live by Simple living, high thinking

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Parimita Barooah Bora takes a look at the aromatic journey of Assam’s perfume prodigy, Ajmal, and how he has taken prime position in the exotic world of Arabian perfumes.


here are some things that add spice to life. Perfumes are one of them. Associated with elegance, culture and wellbeing, they are said to influence our emotions as well. Medical research has established that smells have a significant impact on the way we feel. Ancient Egypt was a very fragrant civilization because they infused fragrant oils for massage, bathing and medicine, burned incense in religious ceremonies and even used aromatic cedar oil to embalm their dead. Not surprisingly, the Middle East is regarded as the cradle of the perfume industry. The use of fragrance in daily life has been an integral part of Arabian culture. Anointing one’s body Ajmal Ali, founder


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with traditional oil- based scents is favorably encouraged. Prophet Mohammad encouraged believers to wear perfume, especially on Fridays for the Juma prayer. So it’s no wonder that perfumes from the Gulf region are unique in their appeal and originality. They are an exotic and rich combination of incense and oils but without an alcohol base that is normally used in western perfumes. They have woody, oriental, flowery, fruity bases with sensual notes of musk, ambergris, cedar, spices, frankincense, citrus, sandal and cashmere wood. A small drop of Arabic perfume is enough to make an aroma last for about 10 hours. There are some other natural sources that are commonly used

With a mere R500 in his pocket and some oudh oil as his starting capital, Ajmal Ali left his hometown for Mumbai with high hopes.

to make Arabic perfumes. The first is oudh which originates from the Aquilaria trees found in India and South East Asia. The wood found inside these trees gets a particular mould which gives it a unique fragrance. Then there is bukhoor which are oil-scented woodchips of agarwood. Both oudh and bukhoor are burnt in special oils or charcoal burners to create wafts of fragrant smoke. Bukhoor signifies special occasions like weddings and helps to evoke feelings of wellbeing. Founded by the prolific entrepreneur Ajmal Ali, in 1951, who was from Hojai, in Nagaon district of Assam, Ajmal Perfumes has today grown into a robust, multi-million dollar corporate and is a much sought-after name in the stand out in the marketing of perfumes, fragrances and cosmetics to the Arab and western markets. It all begun when Ajmal Ali, a farmer, came to Mumbai to try his luck as a trader in perfumes. The abundance of oudh in his native Assam gave young Ajmal the idea that he could perhaps make a living out of trading in this natural resource, the prime ingredient of all oriental perfumes. So, with a mere R 500 in his pocket and some oudh oil as his starting capital, he left his

Nazir Ajmal, the youngest son, is regarded as the nose of Ajmal. He plays a dual role as he is the Chief Operations Officer and the Chief Perfumer of the company.

hometown for Mumbai with high hopes. In the tradition of great masters, Ajmal Ali worked in a dingy house in Mumbai in the early 1950s blending perfumes and trying to find the right mixture that would impress the many Arab traders who visited India’s western shores and were fascinated by the country and its aromatic herbs. In 1964, he gave his family name to his product range. In 1976, he shifted his operation base from Mumbai to Dubai, where he opened the first Ajmal outlet and launched its first fragrance Mukhallat. The product was an instant hit and its success prompted the company to launch more such products. Half a century later, his eldest son Amiruddin Ajmal today presides over the Dubai-based company which has an annual turnover of $170 million and is a

regional corporate entity with a vast portfolio of over 100 of the finest and most captivating fragrances. Today, they have established a strong regional presence with over 200 showrooms across the Gulf countries and hundreds of dealership across the world. Nazir Ajmal, the youngest son is regarded as the nose of Ajmal. He plays a dual role as he is the Chief Operations Officer and the Chief Perfumer of the company. To remain

Half a century later, his eldest son Amiruddin Ajmal today presides over the Dubai-based company which has an annual turnover of $170 million. Kuwait Magic Mall Showroom

Nazir Ajmal

in business, perfume manufacturers have to be constantly innovative. In the case of Ajmal Perfumes, its marketing teams conduct considerable research on consumer taste and behaviour. Based on the input, Nazir Ajmal concocts different blends. But ultimately, Nazir admits, it is the market that decides the fate of a particular brand. He takes great pride in the fact that every fragrance launched under its banner has been conceived, created, developed and manufactured in-house. The best part is that the company has employed hundreds of people from its native state. They have twenty showrooms in Kuwait. I visited their showroom at Kuwait Magic Mall, where I met two employees from Assam, Ahmed Alauddin, the Showroom Manager, and Imdad who were very helpful and provided me with a lot of information. I was surprised when they showed me the best quality of agarwood (which is from Assam) and sold at 825KD per kg. i.e. R 1,32,000 per kg. I was happy to know that out of around 6,000 employees in Ajmal Perfumes, 60% are from Assam itself. In this part of the world, demand for fragrances soars during the months of Shabaan and Ramadan. But like music and art, there will always be a demand for perfumes from both connoisseurs and amateurs. The author is a freelance writer based in Kuwait November 2010 │eclectic times │ 43



Youthful and energetic, feast your eyes on this spectacular collection of fresh Northeastern talent by the students of JD Institute of Fashion Technology, Dibrugarh

CUISINE Designer – Ankita Agarwal The crushed outfit with the golden sequined motif adds an aura of grace and elegance to this fusion attire of Greece and India. Ankita’s collection includes a mix and burst of colours – black, beige and turquoise blue – just like perfect cuisine!

COR-DON BLEU Designer – Anurag Dutta Anurag has chosen the pick of colours in the frills and folds of his collection - just like a master chef would do when he mixes the best ingredients for laying out a delectable spread. His garments have blended the style and shape of Greece and India to give the perfect couture touch.


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HANNAH Designer – Ritika Haritwal Discovering the wedding rituals of Ireland through her creations - Ritual Fusion - Ritika has merged the old Celtic mythology (on which is based the wedding customs of Ireland) with the Indian rituals. The white flowing gown is her way of paying ode to the customs of both countries.

COCKTAIL Designer – Naina Jalan Merging traditional and modern with light and loud colours, Naina ensures the ethnic feel comes out in the warp and weft of this six-yard drape of grace and elegance. There’s a confluence of culture – western and Indian - in her Cocktail collection with oodles of the oomph factor. November 2010 │eclectic times │ 45

JUGAL BANDI Designer – Sonam Agarwal Fashion is beyond religion and borders. Sonam is harping on this key mantra of unity wherein lies diversity. Indian or western model, when sashaying down the ramp, what does it matter? As long as the creations can crank up the glitz factor of a fashion event, in a total fusion of ideas and beyond all boundaries.

MEHFIL Designer – Salawal Agarwalla It is as if Salawal is celebrating colours through the outfits, which are vibrant and full of life. The colours exude enough positive energy to cause party animals to let their hair down with the Mehfil collection! 46

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PETIT JUNCTION Designer – Shakrun Nisha Khan Exquisite embroidery work of Austria and Kashmir is interwoven in the needlework crafted out of strands of thread and yarn. Shakrun has combined classic examples of embroidery from both countries into this impeccable piece of fashion fusion. Fashion junction, ain’t it!

SPANGLE Designer – Shikha Goyale Shikha bedazzles with her glittering collection of varied hues of colours: bright and pastel shades signifying unity, love and joy. Hugely inspired by the culture and religion of Greece and India, it sure shows in her work. Real razzle-dazzle!

November 2010 │eclectic times │ 47

tell tales


A squabbling mother and son, a rich old lady and a young army officer are all staying at the run-down Green’s Hotel in Dehra Dun. Who are these people really and what connection do they have to the serial killer on the loose? Read on to find out….

By Ruskin Bond

That Daryaganj Strangler has been at it again,” said my mother, looking up from her newspaper in the tiny office of Dehra’s old Green’s Hotel, where she had taken on the job of a manager. “The Delhi Police say they have a good idea of the killer’s identity. Maybe they’ll catch him soon.” “Where’s Daryaganj?” I asked. “And why does he strangle people?” It was in 1948-49, I was 14 now and back once again for the winter holidays. And once again, our residence had changed. Times were hard. My stepfather riddled by debts, had disappeared for a few months. My mother had taken up a job. It wasn’t easy work, as hardly anyone came to Green’s, a small hotel that had seen better days. The town was going through a slump, business was poor, and there were few visitors. The hotel, a bungalow-type single story building, stood in fairly extensive grounds, with a neglected garden and a tennis court overrun by dandelions, thistles, and marigolds gone wild. Over the years I had developed a liking for neglected gardens and patches of wilderness. They were full of mystery, homes to snakes, mongooses, huge lizards, 48

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bandicoots, hedgehogs, butterflies. If you want to discover nature, start with a garden gone wild. And if you want to study human nature, stay in a small hotel that has seen better days. There was a bar of sorts attached to the Billiard Room, and both the bar and Billiard

Room were attended to by the ‘marker’, an attenuated individual of indeterminate age, who lived off the tips he occasionally received, his salary being two or three years in arrears. My mother received five hundred rupees a month for sitting in office, ordering supplies and making out bills for the few

customers who came and went. There was also a cook, who was usually drunk. The hotel did not provide lunch or dinner, only breakfast, which consisted of an anaemic-looking omlette (or if you preferred, an overdone fried egg), with a couple of cold, thinlybuttered toasts. Those guests who were familiar with the place always ordered boiled eggs. The owner, who ran a more profitable concern in Delhi, took little or no interest in Green’s. It was up for sale, but offers were slow in coming in. My mother and the family had quarters behind the hotel. But as there were plenty of vacant rooms in the hotel itself, I was permitted to use one of them. It was separated from the next room by a closed door, in front of which a cupboard had been placed. But this was far from being sound proof. If there were guests in the adjoining room, I could hear every word that was spoken, whether I wanted to or not. Every morning, at around ten, I joined my mother in the office, supposedly to help her with some of the paperwork, but really to help myself to the coffee and pakoras that were brought to her. I would also share the newspaper with her. Our newspapers were very dull in those days, just covering the activities of national leaders but the Daryaganj Strangler was vying with them for space, thanks to the frequency and daring of his crimes. “They say he’s killed over a dozen women so far”, said my mother. “Why?” I asked her again. “For their jewellery, it seems. He strangles them, then rips off their rings, ear-rings, necklaces, bangles, brooches… he must have a good collection by now.” “Are they young or old women?” “He isn’t fussy about their age. And he isn’t interested in sex. But he leaves a little note behind- like a visiting card.”

“And what does it say?” “Die in a ditch, you rich bitch. Sometimes it’s in Hindi. The bodies are usually found in a ditch.” “Is Daryaganj a rich area?” “It’s a crowded part of old Delhi, narrow streets, that’s why he likes that. But he operates elsewhere too.” “Well he won’t come here, will he? You haven’t any jewellery. And Mrs. Deeds just pawned her diamond ring.” “How do you know?” “Well, she and her son are in the next room, and I can’t help hearing them. They quarrel most of the time. Yesterday he was demanding money for new clothes. She’s waiting for a money order that

Deeds. She had seen better days. Her husband, a car salesman, had died a few years previously, leaving her nothing. She had worked as a dormitory matron in one of the hill schools, in order to see her son through school. Now, they were waiting for an assisted passage to England. And a mysterious money order that was overdue. The son, Ronald, was always in need of pocket money, and gave her a hard time. To make matters worse, she was hitting the bottle. When the bar stopped giving her credit, she bought some cheap stuff in the bazaar. There were a few nonresident regulars who patronized the bar and the billiard room. Resident guests seldom stayed

My mother received five hundred rupees a month for sitting in office, ordering supplies and making out bills for the few customers who came and went. There was also a cook, who was usually drunk. The hotel did not provide lunch or dinner, only breakfast, which consisted of an anaemic-looking omlette (or if you preferred, an overdone fried egg), with couple of cold, thinlybuttered toasts. doesn’t come. They are really hard up. They won’t be able to pay the hotel bill.” “You shouldn’t be listening Ruskin.” “Then put them in another room, or put me in another room. There’s just a door separating us.” “I can’t give you one of the better rooms. You’ll have to stay where you are, or come down to our quarters and share a room with your brothers.” I had two half brothers and one real brother, all much younger than me, and very noisy. Mrs. Deeds and her son couldn’t match them. “I’ll stay where I am,” I said. Actually, I felt sorry for Mrs.

long at the hotel. They were usually people in transit - medical salesmen, tourists on their way to Mussoorie, parents of children being admitted to boarding-schools. The regulars were local lawyers like Suresh Mathur or garage owners like Brij Lal or property agents like Jugal Kishore. None of them were doing particularly well at the time, and they spent a lot of time on their barstools discussing their and town’s future prospects. Prospects in general brightened up by the arrival one day of a very rich lady in a posh new De Soto limousine, an American car that was gorgeous to look at but a great juggler of petrol. Not that the November 2010 │eclectic times │ 49

expense would have bothered Mrs. Gupta, whose husband had made a fortune running Army canteens during the War (1939-45). She moved into the hotel’s only luxury suite and announced that she was thinking of buying the hotel and turning it into a private hospital. “What kind of hospital?” I asked my mother. “A mental hospital. Apparently there isn’t one between here and Agra,” she says. “There aren’t many mad people around,” I remarked, “Not if they have to pay.” “She’ll probably bring them in from elsewhere.”

She wouldn’t touch the hotel food. She complained that the beds were full of bugs (which was true) and that the curtains hadn’t been changed for years (also true); that the commode in the bathroom was rickety (it had, in fact, developed a list from the moment she’d sat on it), and that there were pigeons living in the skylight. “They’ve been there for years,” said my mother. “Well, hunt them away. They won’t let me sleep in the afternoon, with their constant cooing and gurgling.” So I hunted them away and earned a ten rupee tip. They settled

“They say he’s killed over a dozen women so far”, said my mother. “Why?” I asked her again. “For their jewellery, it seems. He strangles them, then rips off their rings, ear-rings, necklaces, bangles, brooches… he must have a good collection by now.” “Are they young or old women?” “He isn’t fussy about their age. And he isn’t interested in sex. But he leaves a little note behind- like a visiting card.” “Anyway, let’s humour her. The boss has promised me a commission if I help to bring the deal,” “But then you’ll be out of a job.” “I’ll be out of a job anyway. The hotel can’t stay open much longer. There’s hardly any income.” So I was very polite to Mrs. Gupta whenever I passed her, and she would respond by patting me on the head or giving me sweets. She was large pear-shaped woman, who waddled about like Donald Duck, rings flashing on her fingers, her throat encased in pearls. She had a maidservant who stayed with her and brought her meals from Kwality’s down the road.

down in another skylight. Sometimes I wandered into the bar or billiard-room to chat with old Tirloki, the marker, and occasionally I would have a lemonade (nothing stronger) with one of the players or drinkers. Suresh Mathur was a P.G. Wodehouse fan, and this gave us something in common. I had read all the Jeeves stories, Ukridge and Blandings Castle novels – all easily available at a little lending library down the road. I do believe Suresh modelled himself on Bertie Wooster. He got up late, failed to keep appointments, lost clients, and even wore socks that did not match. The trouble was, Suresh did not have a Jeeves to sort his life out for him,

and he was not in great demand as an income-tax lawyer. And besides, there weren’t many tax-payers around. There wasn’t much income going around in the Dehra of 1949. Tirloki had been with the hotel since 1932, two years before I was born. He told us that it had been a busy little hotel in the 30’s, with a bandstand in the garden, and a dance-floor in a recessed verandalounge. “Was it for Europeans only?” asked a young man, who was visiting the bar for the first time. “Most of the guests were European”, said Tirloki. “But there were also well-to-do Indians – zamindars, Rai Bahadurs, members of royal families. This was the place to be. But times change, customs change. It’s all history now.” The young man turned his attention to me, “Do you stay here too?” “My mother’s the manager.” “I see. Yes, I met her when I arrived. Would you like a drink?” “Not allowed”, I said. “Good boy. So have a Tepto Orange.” I’d already had two Tepto Oranges, but I had a third. The range of soft drinks was rather limited in those days. “So where do you go to school?” he asked “In Shimla. I’m on holiday.” “Good. Perhaps you can show me around. I’ve never been in this town before.” “There’s not much to see,” I said. “I’ve heard there’s a race course.” “It closed down after the War.” “So how do you spend your time?” “I read, or go to the pictures. There are six cinemas in Dehra. Three show English films.” “Well, then, I’ll take you to the pictures. I’m on leave. Captain Ramesh.” And he extended his hand. (To be continued...)


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of whom will be seen out and about on Children’s Day partaking in their civic duties as they roam from hospital to orphanage smiling with grief stricken children. Salman Khan will head to the nearest cancer hospital ready to hang out with the kids (whilst simultaneously promoting his film) and, you may even catch a number of stars grouped together as they all visit an orphanage and pose for the camera. And then throughout the year, the actors are practically ghumshuda. Google too doesn’t refrain on getting in some Children’s Day action. This year, much like last, they announced yet another Doodle 4 Google competition keeping 14th November in mind. The question posed is simple: has Children’s Day in India lost its value? The idea behind observing a day When countless children roam the streets, that is dedicated to children should be considered one working and begging for a decent meal, of seva and lessons. Perhaps if we asked Nehru how has Children’s Day in India lost its value? he would have liked to have seen the children of India asks Roshni Mulchandani commemorating 14th November, his answer would have included children mingling with and providing aid to the few months ago, it was the otherwise controversial underprivileged and less fortunate. And theoretically, Narendra Modi, who smartly posed the question, this is what should take place. The children who really “Has anyone shed a tear for those children who get to take part in the celebrations of the day are those struggle to get a square meal a day when Children’s who have the opportunities to get an education and Day is celebrated?” Almost immediately, the think-tanks shape the new Generation X of India. However, the same of India went to work and produced very interesting cannot be said about the inopportune children who statistics. For starters, almost 3 million children are are forced to roam the streets working and begging for walking the streets of India daily while almost 150 a decent meal. Instead of the balloons, cake and million are engulfed in child labour. So what games, would it not make sense for the more exactly is the purpose of Children’s Day “affluent” to take their joys and celebrate Salman Khan then? Yes, we all know it is a day to with those who aren’t as lucky? will head to the nearest honour Jawaharlal Nehru and his But until then, we will have to cancer hospital ready to innate love for children and mark his surf the internet wah-wahing the birthday. It is a day to rejoice and hang out with the kids (whilst Children’s Day doodle of a child allow the children of India to feel simultaneously promoting his who has access to a computer, a pride, joy and bask in freedom. And notepad, a pencil. We will read film) and, you may even catch while most of the school-going of the grand celebrations school a number of stars grouped children are able to really celebrate XYZ has prepared in honour of together as they all visit an their existence as the future of India, Children’s Day. And yet, there will almost immediately two prominent be the child who walks the street orphanage and pose for conclusions jump out. Firstly, schoolevery morning at 6 am and waits at his the camera. going children in India have become so designated traffic light for the morning modernised that they have lost the plot when commute to commence; to him November it comes to Children’s Day and secondly, the poverty14th is just another day. He will fight to get through the day and secure himself a meal before finding a street struck children have been forgotten, displaced and - in side to sleep on for the night. No Chacha Nehru can all honesty - are probably unaware that November 14th is a day for them. change that for him. Roshni Mulchandani is a media journalist Children in the west understand Children’s Day as a day to buy things. In fact a large chunk of the population If there’s anything happening around you that inspires you to in the United States would much rather sit at home on speak up and let the world know, write to us at Eclectic House, their Wifi instead of playing outdoors; a phenomenon 34 P. B. Road, Rehabari, Guwahati - 8 or that was non-existent in Nehru’s days. Indian children email to look up to Bollywood stars as their role models, many


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t     

here are very few models from the Northeast to have made it as big as Monikangana Dutta. Having graced the covers of numerous top notch magazines such as Vogue, Elle and Marie Claire, she has all the attributes of the new, reflective face on the international modelling scene; this dusky Assamese lass stands 5.10” tall, boasts of a svelte body, stunning features and has lots of attitude! Perhaps Simon Lock, head of IMG, the world’s largest modelling agency, summed it up best when he commented that she was ‘exotically beautiful’. Though she graduated from Delhi’s Jesus & Mary College, she started her journey to the fashion world just after passing her 12th standard. As she moved from bigger and bigger campaigns, such as the coveted Kingfisher Calendar in 2009, Moni’s modelling career literally sky-rocketed. So, it was only natural that she would soon veer into newer pastures. With her foray into B-town, Moni Dutta shines in a brand new avatar as the next Northeastern face who’s all set to show us her magical acting excellence with the release of the most awaited Bhansali banner, Guzaarish, this month. Apparently, this sensational supermodel is touted as being the surprise element of the film! Here’s Moni in conversation with Eclectic Times… ET: How does it feel to be part of the Bhansali banner? Moni: Big question (laughs)! Well, I wouldn’t call it a dream come true because I never thought I would go into movies. I thought I would do modelling as much as I can and for how many ever years I want, and then maybe take up some interior designing. But my life has taken different turns. I am a big fan of all the Bhansali movies, right from Khamoshi to Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam; so obviously, the offer was a pleasant shock to me. ET: How did you feel working opposite heartthrob Hrithik Roshan? Moni: Well, he’s one of the best looking actors in the industry and one of the best looking men in the country who has a very good soul! He’s the perfect gentleman, so obviously it was a pleasure working with him. ET: How was the experience of working as a team with Sanjay Bhansali, Hrithik, Aishwarya and the rest? Moni: I have been watching Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai since I was a child. So, there’s obviously November 2010 │eclectic times │ 53

no competition with them. You can only be at competition with people from the same level, like I can say I am in competition with Prateek Babbar who’s new in the industry just like me. But these people are my seniors. While working with them, I got to learn so much that there’s no time to envy or be jealous of anyone. It was definitely a great learning experience as they were very supportive and made me feel very comfortable. So, it’s been an amazing experience.

          

ET: On a lighter note, Sanjay Leela Bhansali says you resemble Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. What do you say to that? Moni: Well, I will not be able to comment on that. If he feels so, you have to ask him (laughs). ET: What is your opinion about having a ‘godfather’ in the industry? Moni: See, now if Naomi Campbell’s daughter wants to get into modelling, it’ll be far easier for her than for any amateur. Be it any profession, it’s naturally easier for someone who already has the mother or father pursuing the same profession, as they can properly guide their children, like the Kapoors, the Roshans, the Bhatts - who all have acting in their blood. Therefore, it’s definitely easy for them to make their debut because their father or mother has been in the industry to guide them. So, it’s about having someone’s experience guiding you and not about having a godfather! For me, the word ‘godfather’ doesn’t exist at all. ET: Any actor or director you would love to work with? Moni: I would want to work with Hrithik Roshan again as it was a wonderful experience and I don’t think anyone can look as gorgeous as him! After working with someone like him, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, there’s nothing more that I can ask for! But, I would like to work with Abhishek Bachchan someday. ET: How has the journey from modelling to acting been? Moni: I take life as it comes. I believe in giving my 100% and being faithful to my profession; the rest is destiny. I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow and where I am going to land - like I didn’t plan modelling or acting, it just happened. ET: Which one did you enjoy more? Moni: You can’t compare as both are very different. Everyone started knowing me from my modelling days, so I never want to quit modelling and I am still with IMG World in Milan, Paris, New York and I want to be with them all my life! There’s nothing like : I want to quit this or that as I believe I am good at multitasking. I want to learn piano, I want to do interior designing and hope I can do a bit of everything!


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ET : With Children’s Day this month, tell us about your own childhood. Moni : Childhood was the best part of my life as I lived like a princess! Now, when I am sitting in Mumbai and I see people living in bungalows with their families, I understand what a lovely life I used to live! It’s very nostalgic for me.

         

ET: How is Moni as a person? Moni: Moni is just like any other woman (smiles). I don’t know what my outlook is, but I am a simple Assamese girl. I am a very homely person but I have been staying alone for ages now. I have been handling everything on my own but I haven’t forgotten where I come from. My parents told me two things when I was leaving Guwahati for Paris for the first time. First, “Don’t let us down” and secondly, “Don’t forget where you come from”. I never forget these things and it’s their blessings which keep me going. ET: Where do you place your career and family? Moni: For me, career and family go hand in hand. I have my career because of the support of my family. Both are kind of inter-related and both cannot survive without love and effort. You need to put in love and effort to maintain both career and family. ET: What does your mother mean to you? Moni: My mom means everything to me. She used to do theatre, paint and dance. Whatever I am today, is a reflection of her. If I would have not seen her doing all that when I was a child, I would have never got inspired to do anything artistic like what I am doing today. So, everything I am doing is dedicated to her. She’s my inspiration! ET: Among all the model-turned-actors of Bollywood, whom do you look up to? Moni: I look up to a few, but not the present ones. I do look up to Rekha as I think she’s very gorgeous! She inspires me a lot and I hope I can manage to keep that innocence in me, just like the old actors of Bollywood. ET: What is Moni’s style statement? Moni: I don’t believe in style statements. I feel my style has changed with the maturity that has come in me over the past two years. My style is very extreme; it’s like very ‘bling bling’ or something as simple as a cotton dress. I believe in wearing either something which is very simple or getting completely dolled-up! And I am comfortable carrying both. ET: What according to you is the best way to celebrate success? Moni: By keeping yourself grounded, I guess.


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           

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ET: What would you say about the transition in female Bollywood actors so far? Moni: I have grown up watching Rekha, Madhuri Dixit, Sridevi, Juhi Chawla and I have to say that there was a certain innocence about them which we don’t see these days. Even if they wore a short dress, they never looked vulgar. But these days the whole concept of cinema has become very different. The old charm of Bollywood is not there anymore. The actors have changed drastically over the period of time. They prefer western wear than Indian clothes, whereas, I think if you’re doing Indian cinema and trying to please the Indian audience, the sari should be the best attire that one should wear. I think that’s the only thing which has changed in the Bollywood actors over time. ET: What makes a woman beautiful? Moni: I think the beauty of a woman lies in her humbleness and sanity. Once you lose it, you lose everything.

   

ET: What personal qualities must a woman possess to do bold scenes on screen? Moni: First, she has to be a complete woman to be able to present that body language which can seduce the audience. Unless you are a complete woman, it’s not going to come out just like that! ET: Are you dating someone? Moni: (Laughs) No. I am very much single! Right now, I would like to concentrate on my career. ET: What is it that you like the most about Northeast? Moni: Apart from the simplicity and greenery of the place, I like the fact that people are so simple and untouched out there in the Northeast. I lived in Guwahati and I am absolutely proud to be a Northeasterner. In conversation with Himakshi Goswami Clothes & styling:Sanghamitra Make up: Mridula (Senior MAC Make Up Artist) 58

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If you are a smart and socially savvy young professional with a zest for life, then send your photo and details to: editorial@ to be the eclectic man of the month.

Your name Rizwan Akhtar Years on earth 27 Profession Doctor (pursuing pathology M.D) City you live in Guwahati / Shillong Three words that best describe you Shy, honest and loving Person/Place/Animal/Thing you love most My parents Person you idolize Mother Teresa What you hate Corruption A mantra you live by Live and let live


Dancing into Oblivion?

Will the Devadasi dance of Assam soon be a thing of the past? Rupkamal Sarma traces the origins of this fascinating dance form.

Ratna Kanta Talukdar, a man widely regarded as one of the pioneers of its revival of the Devadasi dance

t is past one on a Sunday afternoon and I am at the house of Dilip Kakoti, one of the last remaining teachers and practitioners of the Devadasi dance in Assam. He ushers me into his living room and I see a slightly bemused smile playing on his lips when I ask him about the Devadasi dance. “It is rare to find anyone interested in the dance nowadays. How did you come to know about it?” To the casual visitor, Pathsala might appear no different from the multitude of small towns dotting Assam. Historically though, Pathsala has a cultural history because here, amongst other places in Assam, there once thrived a lost and forgotten culture - the art of the Devadasi dance - which is a centuries-old devotional dance and an intrinsic part of the Devadasi tradition. The tradition of Devadasis was to be found across various parts of India, most prominently South India,



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times │ November 2010

Bhupen Hazarika had come down to Bojali for a performance. After it, he came backstage and called me. He said “Bopa, it will be a great sin if you let this art die.” with regional variations. Though the gods might vary from region to region, in Assam, the Devadasi tradition was prevalent in the Shiva temples. The Hatakeshwar temple, near Tezpur, has stone sculptures of temple dancers depicting the stances of the Devadasi dance, which date back to the ninth century. The reasons for the decline of the temple dance during the middle ages is not clear but documentation regarding it reappears again in the 17th century during the reign of

the Ahom king Siva Singha who brought Devadasis from Dergaon to the temple to spread the dance. It was during this period that the dance, which was originally confined to within the temple, started to be performed outside the temple premises. However, something that was meant to be a divine union of bhakti with the gods, soon became a lustful union for mortals. Under the pretext of offering prayers at the temples, many influential court officials and others began to take advantage of the beauty of the young dancers and indulged in promiscuous activities with them. Thus, with the passage of time, the institution of Devadasis came to be a much reviled one and came to be equated with prostitution. In Assam, the Devadasis were known as notis, which initially meant a dancing girl or an actress but with time, assumed the derogatory meaning of a prostitute. However, stigma gave way to acceptance for some time

Dilip Kakoti, one of the last remaining teachers and practitioners of the Devadasi dance in Assam.

but today, the dance again wallows in the slush of apathy. A man widely regarded as one of the pioneers of its revival was Ratna Kanta Talukdar, who took it upon himself to revive the Devadasi dance in the 1950’s, when he was already middle-aged. He contacted the last two remaining Devadasis at the Porihoreshwar temple in Dubi, the late Kaushalya Bala Devi and late Roya Bala Devi (both in their 80’s) to learn the moves of the dance. In 1954, Ratna Talukdar requested kalaguru Bishnu Rabha to come to Pathsala to see the dance for himself. It was here that the kalaguru learnt the dance and condensed the dance to its present form of 10 minutes from the original 25 minutes. The dance, in its present avatar, consists of Devadasis depicting the various motions of taking a bath. It is sad to say however, that for all their efforts, the cloak of social ostracism continued to wrap thickly around the art and its proponents. But things changed after a chance meeting with the legendary Bhupen Hazarika. Kakoti reminisces, “In1982, two years after the death of Ratna Talukdar, Bhupen Hazarika had come down to Bojali for a performance. After the show, he came backstage and said ‘Bopa (affectionate term for young boy), it will be a great sin if you let this art die.’ That was it. That sentence triggered something in me and I knew that I had to carry on propagating and practicing this art.” Till as late as 1995, the dance enjoyed popularity and the

A society which does not respect its past and tradition does not survive for long. The role of the government and cultural associations is crucial to the survival of the dance. adulation of the people, but then the Bollywood dance style happened. As Kakoti laments, “Students are hard to come by. Most of the good-looking girls have other pursuits like drama or cinema. Even if someone is found, parents will immediately ask what they will get in return.” For a centuries-old art form which is slowly dying, keeping it alive is crucial. “A society which does not respect its past and tradition does not survive for long. The role of the government and cultural associations is crucial to the survival of the dance. A cultural centre should be set up in Pathsala for training, performance and publicity about the dance, which could be in line with the already-established cultural centres dedicated to individual dances in various states across the country” he suggests. Meanwhile till such a time, Kakoti is ready to shoulder the responsibility himself and even go beyond. “The government usually says that finding land is a problem. I have 24 bighas of land. My sole objective is to keep this dance alive. I am ready to give my land, if need be, to set up the cultural centre but first

there should be some indication of interest from the authorities.” More than 50 years ago, with anguish and bitterness seeped in her voice, the octogenarian Devadasi, Kaushalya Devi, had rhetorically asked, “The government only did away with the Devadasi dance, so what is the need for reviving it now?” Somewhere in the dusty streets of Pathsala, one man does seem to have an answer. Now, only if the people and authorities of Assam would hear him. FACT FILE z The word Devadasi comes from the two Sanskrit words, ‘Deva’ meaning ‘God’ and ‘Dasi’ meaning servant or slave. Thus, Devadasi meant ‘one who had devoted her life in service of god’. z According to the Kalika Puran and the Joginitantra, ancient Kamrup was a seat of tantra and the advent of Devadasis to Assam was due to tantric influences. z The origins of the Devadasis in Assam can be traced to the reign of King Bhaskaravarman of the Varman dynasty (7th century A.D.). z Copper plates discovered near Dubi also mention the Chinese traveller Huien Tsang’s praise of the Kamrupi arts and dance. Negheriting in Dergaon, the Siva doul in Sivasagar, Hajo and the Porihoreshwar mandir in Dubi, Pathsala were the centres where Devadasi tradition prevailed. z In the early 1930s, the institution of Devadasis was deemed illegal by the British government with support of Indian social reformers. The author is a freelance writer November 2010 │eclectic times │ 61

human connect


People commit themselves to a lifetime relationship with a sense of purpose, and if it is not realised in some way, for some reason, they tend to look elsewhere for fulfilment. ET takes a closer look at infidelity in a marriage.


atch out all you married people! It’s official: infidelity is the big bad wolf of marital harmony. It will lurk unseen in the undergrowth, waiting for an opportunity to pounce on an unsuspecting couple and test them to breaking point. Infidelity, or a breach of faith, violates the basic assumption of any partnership, which is trust. When it strikes - especially in the case of a spouse getting involved with someone outside a marriage - it can wreak havoc and a long trail of destruction. As divorcee, Rita Sharma* says “In my case, I forgave my husband and had given him quite a few opportunities to change his ways. Ultimately, when I discovered he was still indulging in affairs, I walked out with my children, but the stigma associated with divorce in India has not been easy on me or my children.” Indeed, Rita’s story is more the exception than the rule because in Indian society, infidelity rarely 62

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comes out of the closet and a spouse will choose to ignore a partner’s extramarital affair or independently resort to ‘patch-up’ measures, rather than publicise the matter or seek help. However, statistics have shown that even in India, instances of marital problems and divorces relating to infidelity are steadily increasing. Before we get down to the nitty gritties of infidelity, it’s important to mention that it has become harder to avoid the precipitators for an impending affair than ever before. Easier modes of communication, such as the internet and mobile phones, have facilitated adulterous connections. Infidelity can even take the form of an intense emotional intimacy with someone else, not just a physical connection. So, before you start thinking that infidelity is a long lost cousin of yours and will never affect your marriage, be warned, because that cousin could be in the guise of the big bad wolf who may just be hanging around the corner, waiting to jump on you anytime…

Most common forms of infidelity • One night stand or casual sex - sexual interaction with a stranger or an acquaintance just for the sake of sex. • Emotional affair involvement in a close relationship with another person that excludes sexual intimacy, but includes emotional intimacy. • Extramarital affair - physical and emotional relationship with another person on the sly, for a prolonged period. • Virtual affair – when a person spends excessive time on the internet or on the mobile phone, sharing more intimate emotional feelings with the virtual partner than with one’s spouse. *name changed to protect identity

FOUR timetable events in a marriage which can breed infidelity: After the First Year of Marriage

Research has shown that even a ‘happy’ marriage is NOT immune to infidelity; it can crop up even when the spouses are intimate and enjoy each other’s company How prone are you to having an affair? Tick either the YES or NO boxes for each question. 1. Do you like taking risks or love adventure? YES NO 2. Have you had sexual experiences prior to marriage? YES NO 3. Do you have a lot of friends of the opposite gender? YES NO 4. Do you have a friend who has cheated on his/her spouse? YES NO 5. Do you have a parent who cheated? YES NO 6. Did you ever cheat on an ex boy/ girl friend? YES NO 7. Do you feel that infidelity is really no big deal? YES NO Analysis The higher the number of YES responses, the greater the potential for infidelity in a relationship.

Once the whirlwind ends and routine begins to set in, the emotional high that both partners had experienced goes away, leaving a void which can initiate the need to keep that high going. After the First Child is Born When a first time parent gives his/her majority attention to someone other than the spouse, this may bring changes in the way they feel towards each other. The 5th to 7th Year Also known as the Seven Year Itch, affairs can happen at this stage from the boredom which may set in once a couple has had kids, bought their dream house and established their careers. Middle Age Often referred to as the Mid-life Crisis, the couple goes back to square one again, once the kids have flown the nest. This ‘second birth’ can cause them to make some noticeable changes in themselves - even a change in partner! TOP FIVE SIGNS OF INFIDELITY A survey taken out on the ‘victims’ of infidelity, revealed the following signs that were eminent, but often ignored: # 1 TOO NICE – this is the ‘guilt factor’ playing to the hilt! The spouse is trying to make it up for cheating and may be extra nice. There may even be an excess of gifts for no reason! # 2 STRONG INTUITION – victims often said that they had a hunch that something could be wrong but didn’t do anything about it; they just failed to listen to that inner voice. # 3 KEEPING UP APPEARANCES – paying extra attention to attire or personal hygiene which is far in excess to the normal routine, could be an indication of another audience. # 4 ELABORATE STORIES –when one is guilty, giving an explanation and proving your innocence requires a complicated alibi; when one is innocent, justification is not required. # 5 OUT TO FIGHT – obviously, the dual life will frustrate a cheating spouse, but it could also be an excuse to storm out and meet the lover and ultimately blame the cheating on the spouse. Words : Loya Agarwala Note : The infidelity-related information contained in this article has been taken from psychological surveys and the recordings of counsellors. November 2010 │eclectic times │ 63

NE nri

SEA OF CHARITY Karuna Sagar Das believes that compassion, benevolence and giving are the true ways to a fulfilled life and a happier world!


t doesn’t matter who you are or where you live, but all of us search for meaning in our lives. Some of us find it early in life, some of us later and some never at all. For U.K-based NRI Karuna Sagar Das, his calling came in the middle of his life from a deeply spiritual source. As he says, “The Bhagavad Gita is my guiding force and simply reading it is not enough; we have to imbibe the teachings into our day-to-day life.” Das has been so inspired to take up issues close to his heart that he has, in his own small way, made the world a happier place. They say charity starts at home and unless you have enough yourself, it’s not possible to even contemplate giving to others. Indeed, Das didn’t start his life with a silver spoon in his mouth. Life was hard on him as a child in his

village in Hajo, Assam, as his family were extremely poor. “I remember going to appear for my Matriculations with no shoes on because my parents couldn’t afford to buy any,” he recalls nostalgically. But shoes or not, he shone academically. “When I was a young boy, my aim was to become a doctor. I tried hard and was able to become a doctor. I then wanted to go abroad and was able to fulfil that too. I went to the U.K and have been living there for 33 years now. I worked hard, made money, got married and had a family. My two girls grew up and completed their education and at that point I had fulfilled all my family commitments. That was when I felt a strong need to do something for others.” Having completed his familial duties, he could finally begin to satisfy this thirst to extend a helping hand. “There are poor people, there are needy people and we need to help them. The Gita says we mustn’t be greedy for more than what we need. So, I am s perfectly a rD



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Ka Dr.



content with what I already have. I do not yearn for better and bigger things. What is the point of keeping unnecessary things - even excess money in the bank? Of course we need money but using it for purposes beyond our needs is pointless. ” Being an NRI, Das knew he wanted to do something which was in some way connected to his motherland, Assam. “I had a vision of wanting to bridge the gap between UK and Assam, two places close to my heart. So, in the year 2000, I invited Bhupen Hazarika to the U.K for Rongali Bihu. I think he must’ve felt good in his heart that I had such a yearning to do so much, that he told me, ‘I’ve brought you something from Assam, I’ll give it to you at the end of the meeting.’ At the meeting he inaugurated the first edition of Luit to Thames, a publication I bring out annually. It came about as a link between our people in India and abroad. It’s essential that our people who go overseas, especially those that are academicians, can somehow share their knowledge and experiences with their own people back here in Assam. Whether it is through the magazine or actually coming over here and giving a lecture, it will be of great benefit. So the publication seeks to bridge this gap. It is in its eleventh year of publication now. At the end of the meeting, Bhupen Hazarika acknowledged that since I had been doing a lot for the

community, he wanted to gift me a new middle name: sagar. So from Karuna Kanta Das, I became Karuna Sagar Das. Coming from the legend himself, it was a great honour and gave me tremendous inspiration. I felt he saw my potential to do more. I knew I had to prove to others that I could live up to the name sagar – almost like a huge ‘sea’ of giving.” With a new name and the spirit of determination from the Bhagavad Gita behind him, Das continued to satiate his inner calling. On one trip to Assam, he remembers an incident which tugged at his heart strings: militants had murdered Jyotish Saema, a father of 5 children, and though Das had no association with the family, he felt a great sense of compassion, since he had two daughters of his own. On seeing the dead man’s daughters, he realised that the family had no source of income. It was then that he made a decision to give them some financial help. “In the west many of us live in such decadence that we don’t realise that if we saved a little extra money every month, we could give it to someone who really needed it.” So Das made an arrangement with the family to send them R 5000 per month - and he has been doing so regularly for the last five years. As he says, “I get a tremendous sense of satisfaction knowing that I was able to ease their situation in some way.” Since then he has set up a school in Khulhati village near Hajo in memory of his parents. “It’s a fullfledged school now, with almost 300 students. Today, children from that village can even appear for their Matriculations.” The endeavour has brought him great internal peace. That’s not all. He has continued to sponsor and finance many artists from Assam. “I have taken many artists to the U.K so that they get exposure and inspiration and, at the same time, help to connect the NRI Assamese community in UK to their roots, especially the younger generation.” People who have found a meaning in life are perhaps those who have formed their thoughts and actions around a purpose that makes their life worth living. As Das reiterates, “I know that my vision is different from other people. I can say that most people are living in darkness. They have money, they have fun (as I do too) but my ‘internal knowledge’ guides me to do something more. Leaving a mark in people’s hearts is more important to me, especially after I am gone.” It was the Dalai Lama who once said that happiness is found in compassion. And if that compassion can be channelised into a way of practically giving to others, then surely happiness can’t be very far away.

Karuna Sagar Das (centre) flanked by his wife and daughters, Prabin Hazarika (extreme left) and Bhupen Hazarika (extreme right)

In the West many of us live in such decadence that we don’t realise that if we saved a little extra money every month, we could give it to someone who really needed it. Bhupen Hazarika releasing the first edition of Luit to Thames

Words: Loya Agarwala November 2010 │eclectic times │ 65

tech know

HACKING the white way Debajit Kataki gives us a run down on the complex subject of ethical hacking and why it’s wise to protect your systems in the modern IT age


n this explosive growth of the internet, computer security has become a major concern for the government as well as various business houses because, along with technological advancements, there is also an issue of a growing number of criminal hackers. The term ‘hacker’ can be inferred in two main ways: one positive and


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one pejorative. It can be used in the computing community to describe a particularly brilliant programmer or technical expert, for example, Linus Torvalds (the creator of Linux) who was a genius hacker; on the other hand, speaking from the IT

parlance, the word hacking often has more of a strong negative connotation, and, for the most part, I would say it’s rightly so.

The good and the evil In the world of hacking, if we

try to distinguish between the good and the evil, the two most common nouns we would come across is ‘white-hat’ and ‘blackhat’. A white-hat is a person who is ethically opposed to the abuse of computer systems and generally focuses on securing IT Systems. On the other hand the black-hat would like to break into them. Broadly speaking, in order to do an effective testing for acceptance of any product by the general public, the product is subjected to the worst case scenario. Similarly, when we talk about ethical hacking in the IT industry, we have to undergo similar processes.

So, what is ethical hacking?

Before elaborating, let’s understand that ‘security holes’ can sometimes be a necessary part of your infrastructure, allowing you to do business with partners, for example, so closing them up for security reasons may end up causing more headache than vulnerability. So, in order to

And the hacking starts! Ethical hackers typically have very strong programming and computer networking skills and have been in the computer and networking business for several years. The

• What are you trying to protect? • What are you trying to protect against? • How much time, effort, and money are you willing to expend to obtain adequate protection? Based on these key pieces of information, the hacker tries to do an exhaustive test to find out if there is scope of any malicious attack and finally submits a report to the company. Since ethical hackers are generally an outside person, it is very important to outline the scope of this project, else it can leave you far more exposed.

Ethical Vigilance is the key! hackers typically It is said that if you know your enemies and know have very strong yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred programming and battles; if you do not know computer networking your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one skills and have been and lose one; if you do not in the computer and know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled networking business for in every single battle. Reviewing your own IT several house for security vulnerabilities years. is as old as the IT hills. But, unless

This is a new concept which is nothing but a point-in-time test of identifying a company’s unaddressed vulnerability. And hence can be termed as an exercise of proactive identification and ability to prevent an intrusion before it ever occurs. For example, let’s agree that a company can’t know if their security system is solid unless they test it. It’s hard though, for a company’s IT team to thoroughly ring out the system. And this makes the company call for the ultimate ‘white-hat’ hero, an ethical hacker, who will do all the penetration tests, trying to figure out if they have any security holes. And if so, this exercise can save the day before a nightmare ever has a chance to start.

Understanding security holes

determine which holes are true security threats or how deep into the network a hacker can get via one of these holes, or which hole should be patched first, a white-hat’ guy will invariably be required to be hired. But it is a fact that threats will definitely be found whether they are small ones or are monsters!

hacker first does a basic exercise of a ‘what if’ analysis and tries to understand what kind of information is generally available from the ‘honey-pot’ i.e the company. Secondly, he assesses what the hacker will do if he gets access to this information and thirdly, would people be able to tell at all if someone else breaks into their system. At this crucial juncture, he also schedules discussions and does extensive paper work on the following points which the client usually answers. This becomes a collaborative effort:

there are clear goals outlining why and to what extent you are engaging an ethical hacker, the outcome could be a useless activity - or sometimes worse - as it can leave you far more exposed through either false feelings of security or outright damage to your systems. Ethical hacking is just another tool, not a panacea. If viewed as such, it will definitely fall into its proper place alongside other admired security tools. The author has a Masters in Computer Science and has been in the IT industry for over seven years

November 2010 │eclectic times │ 67


on the go

FAMILY CARS If you fancy a new family car this Diwali, put away your car catalogues and listen to car expert Shahwar Hussain as he profiles six picks on everything you need to know before you splash.

Engine : Petrol / Diesel 1.1/ 1.2 Capacity (cc) 1086/ 4 cylinder and 1197 / 4 cylinder Power- bhp/torque (Nm) 66/99 80/111

2010 HYUNDAI i10


he Hyundai i10 had seen brisk sales for sometime after its launch, but the sales dipped after a while, primarily because the i20 came up and also because the other cars in the segment started offering better value for money. But now Hyundai has come up with a ‘new – improved’ version of the i10. The new i10 is very different but somehow still retains characters of the old i10. The front is where most of the changes took place. The front, including the headlamps, has a hexagonal shape and the air dam and the grille are split horizontally. There are small changes in the rest of the car but nothing as drastic as the front end. There are changes in the tail lamp cluster, rear bumper, body-coloured rubbing strips and turn indicators in the mirrors. Changes in the interior include new seat fabrics, twotone dashboard, metal finish for the music system holder and the AC controls, and blue backlighting. Hyundai still sells the i10 with both the iRDe and the Kappa engine (now called iRDe2 and Kappa2) but both have undergone changes that have made the car much peppier. All these changes have certainly made the i10 a desirable car once again. The i10 has a fuel average of 16kmpl (for the 1.1) and 15 kmpl (for the 1.2 version). The 1.1 has a price tag of R 3.6 lakh to R 3.95 lakh and the 1.2 starts from R 4.5 lakh to R 5.9 lakh. 68

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issan is still trying to make its presence felt in India and the Micra is helping the company do just that...silently. The Micra is not a flashy car like some of it rivals. Nissan has avoided all those sharp lines and curves because they feel they give the car a non-serious image. The clean lines and the rounded look is not terribly exciting but it does give the car a fresh look. The front has a two part grille and the headlights are mounted high on the bonnet. The rounded look is carried on to the interior also. The analog speedo is round as is the cluster of buttons in the central console. The buildquality of the knobs, switches and the console is top class. There are certain things that are a first among the B-segment cars in the country. The Micra has a keyless entry. You can open the doors even when the key is in your pocket and you can fire and kill the engine with a push button. Micra is powered by a 1198 cc three cylinder engine that has a power output of 79bhp and it has a very impressive acceleration. Couple of good things about the Micra is that it has a very small turning radius and the nose of the car is visible to the driver unlike most other cars in the segment. The Micra starts at R 3.9 lakh and goes up to R 5.3 lakhs for the fully loaded top model.

ENGINE Fuel Installation Type Power

Petrol / Diesel Front, transverse, front-wheel drive 3-cylinder in-line 1198cc / 4-cylinder in-line 1461cc 79bhp at 6000rpm / 64bhp at 4000rpm


11kgm @ 4000rpm / 15.5kgm @ 2000rpm

Chevrolet BEAT


hen GM showcased the Chevrolet Beat at this year’s Auto Expo at Delhi, it drew rave reviews. This compact car came as a breath of fresh air. The Beat was one car that remained very true to its concept model. GM India has decided to go bullish on the design front and every Chevrolet car that we see now has aggressive designs. The front of the car looks large compared to the rest of the car. The split grille with the golden Bowtie at the centre is huge - as are the headlights. The feeling of bigness is further accentuated by the high bonnet. Because of the sharply raising waist, the Beat sometimes looks like a coupe. It is a very futuristic and retro design, especially the rear with those big round tail lamps. The Beat is powered by a 1.2 litre 4 cylinder petrol engine that develops 79 bhp. It is a very good city car but feels a little stressed out on the highway if you rev it up too much. If you keep the needle below the 100kmph mark, the Beat gives a very refined driving experience. Whichever way you look at it, the Beat is a winner for GM. With a price range of slightly under R 4 lakh (ex-showroom) for the top model, it seems quite a bargain. But many will buy the Beat only for its very fresh look. And yes, Chevrolet has some very interesting warranty packages for the buyers...another reason to buy the Beat. Engine : Petrol Capacity (cc) 1199/ 4 cylinders Power : bhp / torque (Nm) 79 / 108

November 2010 │eclectic times │ 69

Engine:Fuel Petrol / Diesel Type 3-cylinder 1198cc / 3-cylinder 1199cc Power 75bhp @ 5400rpm / 75bhp @ 4200rpm Torque 11.22kgm @ 3750rpm / 18.36kgm @ 2000rpm



erman precision at work. The Polo has done very well and Volkswagen has put in a lot of effort towards customer service. The Polo has seen a lot of change over the years and it has now become a rather ‘big’ small car. Polo is not a flashy car. The VW badge is the most prominent part of the car and next in line of prominence comes the grille and the big aggressive headlamps. The body does not have too many slashes and curves. It is a conventional looking hatch without any frills but it is a tight design. The only frills that meet the eyes are the wheel arches and even they are softly done. But they give the car a very stable look and the look is accentuated by the 15 inch alloy wheels. This is an India-specific car and is somewhat different from the European models. The height has been increased by 16mm, the setting of the shock absorbers and the electronic power steering settings have been changed. The interiors are a class apart and typically VW. The black and beige interior looks expensive and all the plastic parts have a high quality stamp on them. The instruments are strategically placed and one does not need to take the eyes off the road to operate them. There is enough leg and head room up front, for even the larger-thanaverage Indian occupant. But the same can’t be said for the rear passengers. Polo is available in three variants - Treadline (base model), Comfortline (mid level) and the fully loaded Highline. The Polo is powered by a 1.2 petrol and turbo-diesel engines. And both the engines have similar power output of 75bhp but the torque level is different. The petrol version has a price range of R 4.7 lakh to R 6.2 lakh while the diesel version is a little expensive, starting at R 5.8 lakh and goes up to R 7 lakhs.


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Engine: Petrol / Diesel Capacity (cc) 1172 / 4 cylinder 1368 / 4 cylinder 1248 / 4 cylinder Power: bop/ torque (Nm) 67 / 96 89 / 115 75 / 197



he Italians sure know a whole lot about style and design. Some of the most gorgeous cars and bikes that ply the streets across the world, come out of Italian shores. One of the latest Italian cars to hit Indian shores, the Grande Punto, is an example. The car has a whole lot of character and is definitely not “just one of those small cars”. Upfront, it has a big nose and big lights and the tail lamps are situated high up on the hatch. The overall purposeful look is further accentuated by the big wheels. The good ergonomics becomes evident as soon as you get inside the car. All the switches and controls fall easily to hand. The well-padded seats and the chromed ring dials in the dashboard give a rather expensive look to the whole interior. The Grande Punto uses the same 1.3 litre multi-hued engine that does duty in the Swift, the Ritz and the Vista but it is a little slower than all of them because it is heavier. But the weight of the vehicle gives you a very assured and safe feeling while driving the car. It is not as fast as some of its rivals but the Punto is a better ‘drivers’ car. Fiat has learned it the hard way after the debacle of Palio – that in India, fuel average is THE most important factor. The diesel Punto returns an impressive figure of 14 imply in the city and 17.5 on the highway. Starting at R 5.29 lakh and R 6.64 lakh for the fully loaded diesel version, the 1.3 Punto is not the cheapest hatchback on the market but it certainly is a very good value for money car.



ere is something from Maruti designed to lower your blood pressure in the peak traffic hours in the city. The A-Star has been a hot seller with very good mileage with a very good K-Series engine under the hood. In the chaotic city traffic, small cars like the Maruti 800, Santro, A-Star and the like makes perfect sense. The A-Star is a very driverfriendly car and it just got friendlier now that Maruti has mated an automatic transmission to the engine. The automatic transmission will make driving a much better and easier affair in the crowded city traffic. The only difference in the interior is the extra large brake pedal. The A-Star has a 4-speed torque converter where you can simply put it into D and start driving without worrying about gear shifts. It is an out and out city car and if you take it on the highway, it will feel rather inadequate. Like all cars with automatic transmission, the A - Star will also be a little harsh on the fuel economy front. The A-Star AT is priced at R 4.3 lakhs (ex-showroom). The author is an automotive journalist and travel writer based in Delhi

Engine: Petrol Capacity (cc) 998cc / 3 cylinders Transmission 4-speed Automatic Power: bop / torque (Nm) 66bhp @ 6200rpm 90Nm @ 3500rpm

November 2010 │eclectic times │ 71

sports world

Erin Nobis has scripted a success story in her role as a tae kwon do player. ET meets the young star and discovers some simple fundas




ittle girls her age spend most of their time playing with Barbies and dolls houses. But this is one little girl whose daily schedule revolves round school and then a rigorous round of practice sessions learning the different moves at the Nehru Stadium, Guwahati. And why not? When you succeed in sweeping off the Sub Junior Girls Championship trophy in your very first attempt at the national level when you are barely 8-years-old, then it surely means that you have the making of a champ. Call it destiny or anything else you choose to,


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but it was a fortuitous day when her father took her to the hall in Nehru Stadium where the tae kwon do players were practicing, that had a catalytic effect on a young Erin Nobis. As her mother reminisces, “Erin and her father were waiting in the stadium one day while her brother was busy with his practice sessions in swimming. Her father then took her inside a hall where the tae kwon do players were practicing.

As they watched the players grunt their way through their moves, her father asked her if she wanted to play.” Erin replied in the affirmative, and a couple of days later, she donned her uniform and thus began a journey that has seen her notching up one gold medal after another. Under the able guidance of coach Imdadul Haque, Erin started learning tae kwon do in 2007, and quickly picked up the skills. Impressed by her ability, her coach suggested that she participate in the All India Inter Regional Tae kwon do Tournament for Boys and Girls in Mizoram in 2009, where she picked up the gold medal in her debut. So how did it feel? “I felt good winning the gold medal,” says Erin. She subsequently went on to win many gold medals in the flyweight category in many other competitions. Too young to understand or even speak about the significance of her performance, she simply seems happy to continue playing, and lives life just like any other kid. In a world characterised by an evergrowing trend of parental pressure on kids to excel, it comes as a pleasant surprise to know that Erin’s parents are not exerting too much pressure on her in a bid to fetch more medals. “We want her to play as long as she finds it interesting, and we do not insist that she participate in each and every meet,” explains her mother. “Maybe she’ll be able to continue playing till she’s 14, at the junior level,” she elaborates. Erin, on her part, displays a rare maturity for a child her age. Aware that her sport requires her to maintain a certain weight, she avoids fatty foods and sweets, and concentrates on her training with a dedication that’s truly admirable. Doesn’t she love chocolate? Her face lights up and she says with a huge smile,”Oh yes, I do! But I only have it sometimes”. Juggling school and practice sessions, Erin also

FACT FILE Began playing in inter-district meets since 2007 Gold medal in sub-junior flyweight category in 24th State Tae kwon do Championship 2007 Total of 7 gold medals under her belt Currently studying in Class 3 in Shrimanta Shankar Academy, Guwahati.

File Photo

spends time drawing and painting. For someone who has notched up an impressive tally of medals and certificates, the importance of her feats rest lightly on her young shoulders. But then again, therein lies the beauty and innocence of childhood: a child star who is simply happy doing what she loves to do, who lives in the present moment, putting her heart and soul into her actions, regardless of the results that will ensue. Watch out for this little angel who can teach you a thing or two about focus and living life in joyous abandon! Words: Nazneen Hussain Photos: UB Photos

November 2010 │eclectic times │ 73

Novemberr 2010

Mayuri Sharrma is a Mumbai-based professional Tarot Card Reader, Columnist and Freelance Writer.

ARIES ( March 21- April 20) Work: You know how to say what you mean better than almost anyone and this is the time you’re going to need that skill to reach out to your co-workers. Love: You can’t expect your sweetheart to be at the same point of emotional development you are. But with a little effort, you can help them to see the light. Health/Style: Don’t just settle on a hairdo because you’re predicting a bad hair day, and don’t just skip your crunches because you assume you can’t do them. Optimism is fetching. Try it! Star traits: Spirited, lively, competitive, dynamic, ambitious, and spontaneous and trendsetting. Best friend signs: Aries, Taurus, Leo and Scorpio. Lucky Colors: Blood Red, Maroon, Chocolate Brown, Gold, Deep Blue and Lemon Yellow. TAURUS ( April 21- May 21) Work: Things could get a little strained, but not so much that you can’t figure it all out. You do need to try out a few experiments before you’re likely to know how to proceed! Love: The true test of a couple is seeing how they argue - and when the two of you have to tussle, you both fight fair. What’s more important, you’re willing to learn from the confrontation - and from each other. Health/Style: Eat plenty of fruits and veggies, get some form of exercise daily and find healthy ways to deal with stress, and you’ll have more energy and feel better overall. Star traits: Loving, loyal, steady, bighearted, reliable, decisive, determined, sensible and patient. Best friend signs: Capricorn, Leo, Sagittarius, Scorpio. Lucky Colors: Sky Blue, Candy Pink, Green, Rich Brown, Matt Gold and Beige.

GEMINI ( May 22- Jun 21) Work: All your positive energy needs an outlet and you’ve got quite a few to choose from. You are an ace communicator and you may find it easier than ever to get your point across in style. Love: Tired of the merry-go-round of dating? Try spending some serious one-on-one time with yourself and you’ll have so much fun you’ll want to do it again. Health/ Style: If you’ve reached your style horizon, then it’s time to expand it! Pick up a magazine you’ve never read, talk to a pal or play with software that can simulate a variety of new ‘do’s. Star traits: Quick-witted, curious, versatile, feisty, energetic, adaptable, adventurous and open-minded. Best friend signs: Libra, Aquarius, Aries and Scorpio. Lucky colors: Deep Yellow, Purple, Emerald Green, Silver and Blood Red.

LEO ( July 23- Agust 22) CANCER ( Jun 22- July 22) Work: If confused, let your thoughts drift. Clear your mind of its flotsam and jetsam and streamline your thought processes. Love: The tie between you two is firmly knotted. It’ll take more than a little fraying to make this sucker unravel! Have faith in the strength of your union and you’ll get through little squabbles just fine. Health/Style: For a complete workout, be sure to incorporate your body, mind and spirit. Prayer or meditation can be just as important for weight loss as your cardio routine. Star traits: Sensitive, caring, nurturing, loving, emotional, intuitive and insightful Best friend signs: Pisces, Libra, Capricorn and Aquarius. Lucky Colors: Violet, Lavender, Grey, Ivory, Peach, Mauve and Pale Blue

Work: You need to avoid the temptation to flit from idea to idea and person to person as co-workers now appreciate serious attention. You may get bored, but don’t let it show. Love: When it comes to love, you feel that you’ve more than paid your dues. Your big break is just around the corner, though, so don’t slack off now. A new relationship may give you a chance to showcase your new maturity. Health/Style: You spend a lot of time wearing what you’re expected to or primping because you have to. Now it’s all about what you want to do! Star traits: Generous, powerful, assertive, affectionate, extravagant, faithful, protective, positive and responsible. Best friend signs: Taurus, Libra, Scorpio and Aquarius. Lucky Colors: Gold, Sunshine Yellow, Bright Orange, Parrot Green, Tan and Deep Red.

VIRGO ( Agust 23 - September 21) Work: Co-workers might have a hard time coming to a conclusion, so you should try to speak up and get them to reach a quick consensus. Argument gets you nowhere, but persuasion can be quite effective. Love: Every relationship requires patience from both sides, and right now it’s definitely your turn. Try not to move too quickly for your partner and allow them to set the pace of the relationship. Health/Style: Studies have shown that people who practice yoga are more mindful eaters. Try a yoga class, or spend a few minutes after your workout in quiet reflection. Star traits: Organised, thorough, logical, disciplined, humane, caring and thoughtful. Best friend signs: Taurus, Pisces, Gemini and Virgo. Lucky colors: Mint Green, Brown, Ink Blue, Peach, White, Charcoal Grey and Baby Pink

CAPRICORN ( December 21 - January 19) Work: Shared ideas work now, so it’s a good time to check in and make sure you’re really resonating on that level with coworkers. You may have your own new suggestions to share. Love: Try being a little clearer about what you want from romance - then you’ll have a better shot at getting it. Your heart’s desire is certainly within reach. Health/Style: Think about the joys of a long-lasting transformation for the better. Healthy eating habits and a gym routine may not be as dramatic as a dye job, but it’ll last much longer. Star traits: Determined, hardworking, disciplined, ambitious, perfectionist, meticulous, organized, responsible and reliable. Best friend signs: Cancer, Scorpio, Libra and Aquarius. Lucky colors: Leaf Green, Dark Green, Black, Mustard Yellow, Dull Orange and Maroon.

LIBRA ( September 22 - October 22) Work: You are feeling somewhat more frustrated than usual, but that’s not the end of the world. In fact, you may also find that you’re better able to see through some small, petty problems that just don’t matter. Love: The more people you meet, the better you feel right now. You’ve got a way of making everyone feel comfortable - but are also fun, funny and brilliant, which makes you a very popular person! Health/Style: Remember that style of jeans you hated a year ago, or the type of shoes you would’ve walked right past even last week? Well, you’re itching to try them now! Go ahead! Star traits: Creative, poised, objective, giving, charming, stylish, graceful, neat, and trustworthy. Best friend signs: Leo, Gemini, Cancer and Capricorn. Lucky colors: Orange, Mango Yellow, White, Ivory, Vibrant orange and Watermelon Pink SCORPIO ( October 23 - November 21) Work: You’re going to hit on a hot new idea that should make work a lot more interesting. A new perspective can be gained, simply by seeing things from a different angle. Love: You need to talk with your sweetie about finances, even if you haven’t merged bank accounts or anything like that. It should be short but sweet, with no hard feelings on either side. Health/Style: Being sedentary isn’t doing your state of mind or your body any favours. Get your heart pumping with some physical activity and fun conversation. Star traits: Passionate, dynamic, assertive, magnetic, sensual, confident and inquisitive Best friend signs: Virgo, Libra, Capricorn and Pisces. Lucky colors: Grey, Deep Purple, Navy Blue, Salmon Pink, Black, Slate Grey and Peach.

SAGITTARIUS ( November 22 - December 20) Work: Your communication skills are never in doubt, but now you feel as if you can light the world on fire with a single email! It’s a good time to reach out and show others what’s what. Love: They say that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the same goes for love. If you’re not seeing results as quickly as you’d like, don’t lose your cool. Health/ Style: Probe a style mystery! Find out where your beautifully-dressed neighbour picks up her sassy threads, or which store sells that hard-to-find eye cream. Leave no stone unturned ‘til you’re in the know. Star traits: Intellectual, enthusiastic, tolerant, vibrant, brilliant, exuberant, optimistic and fun. Best friend signs: Gemini, Leo, Libra and Pisces. Lucky colors: Silver, Turquoise Blue, Amber Yellow, Nut Brown, Coal Black and Royal Purple.

AQUARIUS ( January 20 - February 18) Work: Keep up that positive attitude and dazzle co-workers with your brains!! Your hot ideas are perfect now, and the words you use to express yourself are just as much so. Love: Take stock of your love life. There are some good parts, as well as some parts that make you wince. Acknowledge all your experiences - they were invaluable in making you the person you are now. Health/Style: If you think you’re never going to find the right jeans or learn the routine in your step aerobics class, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Believe in yourself and your goals. Star traits: Independent, friendly, unconventional, entertaining, charming, passionate, intellectual and inventive. Best friend signs: Sagittarius, Pisces, Leo and Capricorn Lucky colors: Jade green, Royal purple, Burgundy, Ink Blue, Mint Green, Aquamarine and Black.

PISCES ( February 19 - March 20) Work: You can wonder all you want, but you’re going to need to try new ideas out before you’ll really know whether they’ll work or not. Love: You want to take things to a deeper level and it shouldn’t be too hard to convince your partner that that’s the best thing to do. You’re still as playful as ever, but you need to show your serious side. Health/Style: Invest in your own physical well-being - after all, that’s just as tangible as stocks, bonds and other assets. Commit to an unbreakable date at the yoga studio every week or find ways to eat more healthily. Star traits: Intuitive, trusting, loving, thoughtful, gentle, helpful, imaginative, compassionate, sensitive and creative. Best friend signs: Gemini, Cancer, Scorpio and Virgo. Lucky colors: Peacock Blue, Khaki, Teal Blue, Olive Green, Cream, Silver and Pink

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Domino’s Pizza S

ince its inception in the 1960’s by Tom Monaghan, Domino’s Pizza, the second largest franchised pizza chain in the U.S.A., has finally reached Guwahati. It is located on the ground floor of the Fun Hub Complex in Bhangagarh. They offer a range of pizzas which are sub-divided into various categories, along with a special category of non-vegetarian Feast Pizzas. When it comes to food, I like to think big and hence I started with the Feast Pizzas. I tried out the Meatzaa, which consisted of onion, spicy chicken, barbeque chicken, ham and keema. On the whole, it was very decent but I did not quite get the explosion of meat I was expecting. But it was quite filling and too much for me alone, as it is meant to be shared by two or, at the most, three people. Non-Veg Extravaganza and Cheese and Pepperoni are other varieties of this scheme. Other non-vegetarian pizzas include Cheese and Barbeque, Keema do Pyaza and Chicken Mexicana. Vegetarian ones include Gourmet, Country Special, Farmhouse, Double Cheese Margherita and Peppy Paneer. They are more or less similar with minor variations. The Gourmet pizza comes with black olives, golden corn, jalapeno and extra cheese. Of the three choices of pizza crust they offer

- Thin Crust, Deep Dish and Cheese Burst - the third takes the prize. Though I have had the Cheese Burst crusts in other branches of Domino’s, it is something I would like to recommend, especially with simple vegetarian cheese pizzas like the Margherita. It comes for approximately an additional ` 70. A medium-sized vegetarian pizza would cost around ` 150-250 and non-vegetarian for ` 200-300 (excluding taxes and add-ons like the Cheese Burst Crust). Apart from the pizzas, they also have side orders like Chicken Wings, Garlic Breadsticks, Cheesy White Pasta, Tangy Red Pasta and a Choco Lava cake. The general maintenance of the place is quite ordinary and needs to keep up with standards of cleanliness. The service counter was quite chaotic as it is more or less always crowded and the space is small. Dominos started the ‘thirty minutes or free’ delivery system where, if it took longer than that time to deliver, the pizza would be free. When this initially began in the U.S., it was parodied in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie! As the Guwahati branch also advertises it, hopefully with the crazy traffic, they are able to keep up with the promise or we may have more parodies rolling in! Words: Aditya Kiran Kakati November 2010 │eclectic times │ 77



GENRE : CHICK-LIT AUTHOR: NISHA MINHAS PUBLISHER : POCKET BOOKS PRICE : ` 279 Aaron is funny, seriously sexy, and could easily have been the perfect boyfriend. But his character certificate is not one with the gold medals! Nevertheless, when his girlfriend Jeena is faced with exile to India, Aaron conquers his deep-seated fears about marriage and agrees to marry her – but for one year only. It is an arrangement of sorts between them as friends, to help Jeena out: one year of marriage, get a divorce and move back to their normal lives! But Aaron knows next to nothing of the Indian ways. When he marries Jeena, he marries her extended family too and the complications that follow make for a witty and hilarious read. And despite his best intentions, love has a way of creeping up on a man just when he least expects it... Through Jeena’s character, the author portrays displaced feelings of identity, belonging, cultural disparity, hormones, dreams, roots, love, values and bonding by focussing on the plight of many such nonresident youths who are torn against her family and environment of upbringing. The Marriage Market has the perfect ‘masala’- making you lick your fingers till the very end. A perfect choice for leisure reading.


Pooja Barkataky

CONFESSIONS OF A LISTMANIAC : The life and times of Layla the Ordinary

GENRE: CHICK-LIT AUTHOR: MEENAKSHI REDDY MADHAVAN PUBLISHER: HARPER COLLINS PRICE: ` 150 With her tongue-in-cheek humour in place, Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan delves in the coming-of-age story of Layla in Confessions of a Listmaniac: The life and times of Layla the ordinary. Layla documents her life in a ‘retrograde’ journal, adopting the hand-written way to the contemporary blog way. Layla reminds you of a typical teenager when issues to do with best friends, boyfriends, dominating parents and staying out late were all that was contained amidst the simple constraints that only a teenage life can offer. Although Layla is no Anne Frank, the book can come across as an escape – just the perfect ‘chick lit’ read you can guiltlessly curl up with at the end of a tiring day. Light and refreshing, it takes you to Layla’s urbane life of our times. However, what the book leaves you with is the habit of making random little lists to ease your way through a chaotic urban life. These lists are then again not your usual organising ‘post-it’s: instead they help you deal with emotional upheavals, confusions and difficult people. Madhavan’s prose is by no means literary and I finished mine in two sittings. Recommended right before your lazy Sunday siesta.


GENRE: TRAVELOGUE AUTHOR: WILLIAM DALRYMPLE PUBLISHER: BLOOMSBURY PRICE: ` 495 Through a collection of extraordinary tales of nine people living diverse yet religiously significant lives, William Dalrymple tries to bare open the mystique behind “mystical” India. Rummaging deep within the cultural milieu that constructs the idea of India to the West, Dalrymple doles out stories from every breadth and corner of the country. From the courtyards of mofussil India, he brings to us, amongst others, the story of a young Jain girl who renounced the world to embrace a lifetime of brutal harshness and sacrifice to find inner peace. Then there is Rani Bai, a devadasi, who resents being duped into the sex trade in the farce of religion by her poor parents but in turn pushes her own daughters into the trade and eventually loses them to the demon called AIDS. A Dalit prison garden finds his yearly retribution for two months when he morphs into a temple dancer acting as a medium for the Gods to communicate. The book chalks out its narrative from the remarkable lives of the Jain nun, a Theyyam (temple) dancer, a sacred prostitute (devdasi), a singer of ancient epics, a Sufi ‘lady fakir,’ a Tibetan monk who renounces his vows against the Chinese and now lives in exile, a Tantric worshipper of the goddess Tara, and a blind Baul (wandering singer). This being a travelogue, Dalrymple offers us these myriad lifestyles but smartly shies away from dumping on his judgements and ideas. Instead he lets them do the talking, which in a way, brings out the spirituality for which India has always been celebrated. The idea of spirituality and devotion is seen through the lens of an everyday life adding an effortless tone to it. But in depth, when Prasannamati Mataji (the Jain nun) decides to painfully pluck her long lustrous hair in a four hour long ordeal to take her diksha, I knew this is a parallel universe Dalrymple had wedged open for us to see. This is a must read, mostly because Dalrymple being an outsider does a better job of understanding India than we ourselves do, yet again.

Amrita Madhukalya


must watch

WALL STREET: Money never Sleeps Genre: Drama Cast: Michael Douglas, Shia LeBeouf, Josh Brolin, Susan Sarandon Director: Oliver Stone Screenplay: Allan Loeb, Stephen Schiff (Sequel to the 1987 classic ‘Wall Street’)



wenty-three years after Oliver Stone delivered us the 80’s cult of the economic excesses and the legendary US capitalist trading mentalities with Wall Street, comes its sequel Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. This time, Stone focuses on the sub-prime loan debt crisis which catapulted into the 2008 recession. The now-phenomenal Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) is back - only this time, freed after eight years of spending time in prison for insider trading and securities fund, Gekko realises that greed is now no longer just ‘good’; it’s also ‘legal’. Gekko now tries his hand at a new-fangled existence and seven years later, being a legend in the business, has a new book to his credit: Is Greed Good? This ruffles his estranged daughter Winnie’s (Carrey

Mulligan) fiancée, Jacob ‘Jake’ Moore (Shia LaBeouf ), who resolves to avenge his mentor Louis Zabel’s (Frank Langzella) death by bringing down Bretton James (Josh Brolin). So, Jake meets Gekko and they strike a deal: Gekko will help Jake in his mission and in exchange Jake will help Gekko get closer to Winnie, who holds him responsible for her brother’s suicide. In the pursuance, Gekko momentarily dupes Jake and Winnie of $100 million which was stashed away in a hidden account, only to return it later. And they end up as a happy family with Gekko’s grandson being the newest member. The ruthlessness of the original Gekko has sadly mellowed down. Douglas does a good job but Gekko has aged now; however, the

charisma is still intact. Jake is the new Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen), who makes a momentary appearance, muddled about morality. What befuddles me about the movie is: After 23 years, Stone comes back with a glittering cast. But what was the purpose of the sequel if it had to change gears from the once-radical critique of the capitalist roost, to dwell on relationships? But then, the movie circles around the economic bubble that Wall Street epitomises: that we are still obsessed about money. But Gekko, who’s followed every trick in the book to rake in the moolah – both legal and unethical – tells us that it is not the money he’s in for, it is the act of winning it that counts. Amrita Madhukalya

Currently pursuing a degree in Computer Science in Bangalore, twenty-two year old Sweta Bardoloi started walking the ramp a year ago. Originally from Guwahati, Sweta is also a dancer. Her vital stats are 32-25-34 and her hobbies include listening to music, travelling and dancing. She aspires to be a shoe and a bag designer in the future. Photos : Kamal Barman.


│ eclectic

times │ November 2010


until december


Illustration: Kamal Jyoti Kalita

love local transport because the different people you encounter, the range of smells and the pollution are like an abridged version of society. Today the bus smelled of sambhar with a dollop of nariyal chutney. At one of the stops, a couple of school students stepped

ROMEOin school uniform into the bus. They came towards my seat, one of them trying his best to check out all the females in the bus. He said something in his friend’s ear, a code to look in the direction of a certain female. They stopped for a moment to exchange their looks of admiration, one eyebrow up with a slight tilt of the head. “Can I sit here?” one of them asked me, pointing to the vacant seat next to me. He had already put his bag there and his lower body had already gained momentum so my reply was inconsequential. Still, I gave an allowing movement of the hand. With his friend still swinging around like an ostrich, he took out a mobile phone from his pocket and immediately started to tap on the keys. “Which class are you in?” I asked him. “Eighth standard” he said making a ‘do-not-disturb’ face. “Who gave that mobile to you?” “My parents”, he said without lifting his head. My curiosity made me glance over to see what he had typed: “C u at CCD, 2day evening. Big Kiss! <3”. When I was in 8th standard, I used to part my hair three inches above my ear and commute to school with my elder brother on a bicycle. Even exchanging notebooks with a girl easily qualified as ‘gossip of the week’ - for all the three 82

│ eclectic

times │ November 2010

sections of the class! And this guy in 8th standard, had a mobile phone with Cameron Diaz wallpaper, and was obviously messaging a girlfriend! “Who are you messaging?” I asked just to confirm. “A friend”, he said abruptly. If a person as young as he, says ‘friend’ with eyebrows joined, and then turns his head and picks his nose, it is not just ‘a friend’, it is ‘a girlfriend’. I couldn’t believe that this guy who was two-thirds my age was in a ‘relationship’! This was the metropolitan variant of childhood. I am not the kind of a guy who wears his culture on his forehead and argues about what morals and ethnic values to follow, but I couldn’t stop wondering at the contrast between my childhood and his. At an age when I used to dream about having a girlfriend in college and singing songs and running around lush green hills of a Yash Raj movie, this guy actually had a chick! It is not just about a girlfriend. It is more about the different socioeconomic equations that exist between a town and a city. The exposure these kids get to the big “grown-up” world at an early stage of life. It is about the contrast in priorities and lifestyles of people who belong to different levels of society. While I was thinking about the macro-socio-economic view of this situation, a mechanical female

voice said “You got a message” and the boy next to me chuckled in a naughty way. Damn! Who am I kidding! It IS about a girlfriend! I couldn’t resist it any further. “Girlfriend?” I asked. “Excuse me?”, he replied a little too loud for my comfort and a few pairs of eyes moved in my direction. I do not have beefcake build or anything, but I can take care of a guy in 8th standard. I gave him a dirty “don’t mess” look back. Just as I was thinking about ways to bring the conversation back on track, he got up. Something rough brushed against my face. It was the net pouch of his school bag. I still think he swung the bag towards my face on purpose. I looked out of the window as I saw him and his friend jump off the bus. The kid was still busy with his phone, still giggling. He was probably trying to rub it in my face. Suddenly our eyes met for a brief moment. Without a moment’s hesitation, he flashed his middle finger at me! So much for the urban society! I mean, don’t they teach manners at schools these days? What does he think of himself? He was just a kid. I responded with an ‘up-yours’ gesture, but replaced the middle finger with my fist. WINNER! Such a relief! Kundan Mishra

Eclectic Times- Nov 2010  

People, Life & More... from India's Northeast