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|1 PERSONAL GROWTH March 2019 Vol 3 Issue 2 `150

Jasvinder Sanghera

At 14, she escaped a forced marriage – and now helps victims of honour-based abuse AT THE SOUTH POLE Top cop Aparna Kumar on her intrepid journey to Antarctica MARCH 2019

FOOD AND TRAVEL Kaveri Jain seeks breakfast in London; Kaveri Ponnapa cooks soul-food from Coorg

MIND AND SPIRIT Dr Tara Swart on Indian traditions and Western psychology


2 | PERSONAL GROWTH

Conneccng the threads of fashion to those of clean design www.suibysuemue.com @suibysuemue Sui by Sue Mue

MARCH 2019


contents

16

06

Making Her Voice Heard

10

Food for the Soul

30

Courage Under Fire

36

The End of the Earth

40

The Mic Drop

45

Celebrity Couture

56

Seeds of Love

60

Science and Spirituality

64

On the Cards

5 Best Breakfasts in London

Kaveri Jain checks out London for the best ways to start her day

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Bollywood actor Flora Saini speaks out

Author Kaveri Ponnapa on Coorgi cuisine

Cover personality Jasvinder Sanghera

Aparna Kumar’s journey to the South Pole

Meet bubbly, cheerful RJ Meenal Patil

The best celeb showstoppers at LFW

Gardener-entrepreneur Sangeeta Jain

Neuroscientist and author Dr Tara Swart

Your tarot predictions for March


4 | EDITOR’S NOTE

MISSION POSSIBLE

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he first half of March every year is the time when the media and advertising world goes into a frenzy of ‘celebrating womanhood’, just because International Women’s Day falls on March 8th. At eShe, however, every day is Women’s Day and so you’ll find us consistent in our focus on strong women doing amazing things. We’re especially honoured to have on our cover this month a woman who had to suffer enormous personal costs to live the life of her own choosing. At the age of 14, petrified of how marriage had left her five sisters abused and enslaved, Jasvinder Sanghera (p.30) ran away from her conservative Sikh home in Derby, UK, to escape a forced marriage. The retribution was swift: her family disowned her and left her to fend for herself. When one of her sisters committed suicide at age 24, Jasvinder took it upon herself to stand up for all women who had Aekta Kapoor to suffer honour-based abuse and forced marriages. Editor and Publisher She set up a charity that has, over 26 years, not only aekta@coralcontent.com helped thousands of girls, it has also forced the UK government to effect a law against forced marriage. When we use our pain to fuel our mission, we turn poison into medicine, as the Buddhist sage Nichiren said. Why celebrate just one day when women have been goddesses for centuries? Editor and Publisher: Aekta Kapoor Business Director: Kaveri Jain Marketing and Research: Nyamat Bindra (nyamat@coralcontent.com) Brand Managers: Amrita Nagpal, Pallavi Pratap Malik Contributors: Alka Mahajan, Ananya Jain, Kaveri Jain, Neha Kirpal

Mentor: Kul Bhushan

All rights reserved throughout the world. Reproduction in any manner is prohibited. Published by Aekta Kapoor from Coral Content, C3/1 GF, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi 110057, India. Phone: +91 9818166621. Printed at Modest Graphics (P) Ltd, Shop No.C-53, Okhla Industrial Area, Phase 1, New Delhi 110020. For queries, write to mail@coralcontent.com, or visit eShe.in MARCH 2019


PERSONAL GROWTH | 5

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6 | CELEBRITY

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CELEBRITY | 7

MAKING HER VOICE HEARD

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Like her role of Stree in the Bollywood blockbuster Stree, the ghosts of domestic violence festered in Flora Saini’s heart, until she broke her silence, and found peace

lora Saini became an actor by saved me from studying! But later chance. As a teenager in Kol- because my second film was a critkata awaiting her board-ex- ical and commerical success. That’s am results, she gave in to her when I began taking more interest mother and aunt’s demand to par- in acting,” says Flora. ticipate in pageants. She lost a lot of After acting in dozens of films of weight, her braces came off, and she different languages over the years, developed confidence in herself. she began understanding the ways Soon, she was winthat the different ning all the contests, “IT’S IMPORTANT TO industries operatand a movie offer “Down south, SPEAK UP AGAINST ed. came along. punctuality is key. SOMEBODY WHO IS They stick to their Today, Flora has a repertoire of 50 films BULLYING YOU JUST schedules no matbehind her in Hindi, ter what,” she shares. Telugu, Tamil, Ma- BECAUSE THEY THINK “Even the biggest layalam and Kannastars are so downYOU ARE WEAK” da, her most recent to-earth. You could ones being Bollywrap up a shoot a wood comedies: Arshad Warsi-star- day earlier but you’d never have to rer Fraud Saiyaan, and Rajkummar postpone the schedule.” Rao-starrer Stree, where she played In Hindi cinema, on the other Stree, the ghost! hand, dates were often booked and “Acting kind of grew on me as then changed at the last minute, and a young girl, initially because it shoots done at leisure. “But these earned me good pocket money and days, things have changed for the MARCH 2019


8 | CELEBRITY

better especially with the success of web series and the need for fast content on tighter budgets,” avers Flora, who will be soon seen in Inside Edge Season 2, an Emmy-nominated series on Amazon Prime. The phenomenal success of Stree was unexpected for Flora, especially since it crossed the `100-crore mark and changed her career path. “It was a fun experience for me because I didn’t have any lines to memorise! I’d just be flying most of

totally cracked me up – his facial expression, oh my god!” But while Flora’s career trajectory was taking off, no one knew about the deep wounds she’d festered in her heart for over a decade. It was the #MeToo movement of late 2018 that finally triggered her to speak up. On a Facebook post, she shared photos of her battered face, and accused her former live-in partner, producer Gaurang Doshi, of domestic violence in 2007. “I can’t even tell you how it’s been in the last 11 years that I have been fighting for justice,” admits Flora, who had to file multiple cases against Gaurang in court. When she realised that “nothing was happening”, she decided to go public about the violence and abuse she faced. “No one believed me back then. But these last few months of #MeToo have changed me so much. I feel lighter now because people are finally listening.” She goes on earnestly, “We as the time; it was a bungee-jumping women owe it to our daughters, to kind of thing and it wasn’t easy but our sisters, our coming generations it was fun,” she smiles. She shares to stand up and lead by example a scene that makes her laugh even to make this world a better place. now when she thinks about it: “In It’s important to speak up against the last climax scene, I was scream- somebody who is bullying you just ing at Rajkummar [Rao] at the top because they think you are weak. of my lungs, and he turns around Yes, I was weak once, I could not and says, ‘Aap kya bhaa-bhaa karti re- even say ‘no’ to anybody. But today hti ho (why are you always scream- I feel so empowered, so much stroning)?’ … Oh! I had a hard time ger and healed as a soul because of controlling my laughter on set! It the #MeToo movement.” MARCH 2019


CELEBRITY | 9

She is glad things are different for young actresses now. “#MeToo is not just a movement, but a revolution. It came, it shook everybody, and it made sure that people think twice before taking advantage of a woman or someone in a weaker position. All industry-related associations are now taking measures to MARCH 2019

protect the rights of women who work. In fact, things should have been like this from the beginning. Just because we women are out to earn our bread and butter doesn’t mean anybody can get their way with us. Even if people are scared of taking advantage of women, the moment is won.” 


10 | FOOD

FOOD FOR THE SOUL

An author, food consultant and blogger who specialises in Coorg cuisine, Kaveri Ponnapa’s images and recipes are a feast for the senses

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averi Ponnapa is obsessed about everything to do with food: “The history of food and the cultural aspects of cooking. And I find great pleasure

in reading about food experiences described in beautiful prose.” It has been a lifelong passion that has taken the Bengaluru-based writer and author on incredible journeys MARCH 2019


FOOD | 11 “My inspiration was, and still is, my late grandmother, who made the most excellent jams, jellies, squashes and preserves,” says Kaveri Ponnapa. “The important job that women do – of cooking food as sustenance, and passing on culinary knowledge – has been undervalued for generations.”

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(From top) Rice payasa, khus-khus payasa and vermicelli payasa. “Food styling is an art, a way of drawing out the story of the dish in images,” Kaveri explains. “Ordinary ingredients have a certain inherent artistry and individuality, which you learn to recognise and try to portray.” MARCH 2019


FOOD | 13

across the world and India, from the smallest, most nondescript eateries to world-renowned restaurants. Having done her Master’s in social anthropology at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, Kaveri has written extensively on food, wine, travel, art and heritage for leading publications for over three decades. She consults chefs of leading hotels, conducts food festivals, and is the author of The Vanishing Kodavas, an in-depth cultural study of the Kodava people, and The Expediency of Rich, dark Coorg pandi curry Colour, on the artist Rekha Rao Hebbar. But one of her most brilliant coloured payasa, made from a wild works of writing, cooking and food leaf that contains various natural styling is her blog The Coorg Table, medicinal and antioxidant propon the cuisine of Coorg (also called erties, with a distinctive, herby flaKodagu). “I grew up in different vour, which made a deep impresparts of the country, a very cosmo- sion on me. If I close my eyes, I can politan, army background. But my still savour the fragrance of a huge most enduring memories of food pot of the extract simmering in my come from my grandparents’ home grandmother’s kitchen,” she tells us. in Coorg. The intense flavours of Kaveri began baking at the age dried and smoked meats that were of 16. “My inspiration was, and preserved for the long monsoon still is, my late grandmother, who months stamped themselves on my baked beautiful cakes, pouring the memory. There is also an indigo batter, streaked with pink food coMARCH 2019


14 | FOOD

lour, into a battered aluminium cake tin with a lid. She baked it in a wood/coal fired oven, managing the heat expertly, by moving the hot embers as required. Baking soon had me in its thrall.” Kaveri’s work on her book, The Vanishing Kodavas, took her into the villages and many remote parts of Coorg she had never visited before, and she was often invited to people’s homes for a meal. “The people there lived in perfect rhythm with the seasons, close to their lives as farmers. Through their everyday cooking, they preserved generations of knowledge.” The deeper Kaveri went into the food – the growing of it, the harvesting, the cooking, the exchanges – the more she realised the importance of understanding the logic of how we eat; our relationship to a landscape; the delicate equilibrium in which everything stands; and how this is all connected to the future of food and the environment. This realisation – that her own identity and food were inextricably linked – dawned while Kaveri lived

Ash gourd jam

and worked in London for several years. “This happened very subtly. I was Indian, but I was also from Coorg. No one, including many Indians, had heard of it. I found myself making an effort to cook and serve foods such as our classic puttu and pork, chicken and mutton curry combination. I think that was a moment of self-awareness where cooking is concerned,” she says.  Read the complete interview on eShe.in MARCH 2019


FOOD | 15

“You can say a lot about your heritage through the dishes you cook, spice blends, what you eat and what you don’t,” says Kaveri. MARCH 2019


16 | FOOD BLOG

5 BEST BREAKFASTS IN LONDON

A vegetarian who loves London the most of all the cities in the world puts together her favourite breakfast spots and her top picks from their menus

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By Kaveri Jain

ondon is my favourite city, and breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. It’s also the most important meal of the day so spending time looking for good, healthy, hearty breakfasts has been as much an investment as a joy for me. Besides, with over 18,000 restaurants (as of 2015), London is a place where even the fussiest taste buds will find solace. From simple eggs and avocado, delicious smoothie bowls to fiery eastern fare, the city’s breakfast offerings are inexhaustible. Looking for a quick bite before

you catch the tube for work, lazing around on a weekend with friends, or just gulping down a coffee shot after a morning run, London’s breakfast places will never let you down. In fact, how a simple quick breakfast unwittingly extends into a comfortable brunch at these eateries will often surprise you. Whittling down a list of London’s best breakfasts is an impossible task; and so I am being subjective here and listing down my own most enjoyed breakfasts in the city. (I am a vegetarian who also eats eggs.) MARCH 2019


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THE CHEESE BAR Unit 93-94 Camden Stables, Camden Town, London MARCH 2019

Who says breakfast has to be had in the early hours? My Saturday breakfast started at 11 am and, of course, I ditched my favourite sourdough toast with avocado and eggs in favour of the cheesiest breakfast ever. Beginning with their epic mozzarella sticks, an overloaded grilled cheese sandwich followed by the freshest burrata made me feel like I was in heaven. This is the mecca of good cheese. Open seven days a week at the bustling Camden Market, The Cheese Bar offers a concisely cheesy menu of around 20 dishes.


18 | FOOD BLOG

Just a 10-minute walk away from Marble Arch, Saint Aymes is one of the most beautiful cafes in London. This quaint café has the most stunning exterior, draped in elegant wisteria. Step inside and prepare to be stunned: with the flower wall and with their 23-karat gold-topped chocolates. I couldn’t resist ordering the unique unicorn latte, which is just as Instagrammable as the floral decor. Their crepes, pancakes, and macaroons are all beautifully served and worth a try. More than the food, it’s the furniture and ambience that made me fall in love.

SAINT AYMES 59, Connaught St, London MARCH 2019


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ELAN CAFE 48 Park Lane, Mayfair, London MARCH 2019

The beautiful flower basket on a bicycle right outside the Elan CafĂŠ in Mayfair will definitely invite you to walk in. The fragrance of freshly brewed coffee and a hand-crafted array of desserts made me drool. The famous shakshuka (a dish of eggs with spices and seasoning) and the absolutely stunning acai bowl made my morning just perfect. Their iconic flower walls, pink interiors and an extensive drinks menu of over 85 drinks will not disappoint you.


20 | FOOD BLOG

Run by Australian chef Bill Granger, this allday diner remains one of my most favourite places for melt-in-the-mouth scrambled eggs. There is always a queue outside this famous restaurant, as they never take bookings. Their ricotta hotcakes with bananas and honeycomb butter are surprisingly fluffy, and maybe the best pancakes I have ever had (and I’ve had lots, trust me). The eggs poached to perfection served with sourdough bread and avocado shouldn’t be missed. One can have a full Aussie breakfast here for just under `1200.

GRANGER AND CO 175 Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill, London MARCH 2019


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SERPENTINE BAR & KITCHEN Hyde Park, Serpentine Road, London MARCH 2019

Inspired by English country living, The Serpentine Bar and Kitchen is a must visit. Overlooking the Serpentine Lake, a 40-acre recreational lake in Hyde Park, created in 1730 at the behest of Queen Caroline, the restaurant serves a wide variety of tasty hot meals and snacks, freshly prepared sandwiches, pizzas and salads, and a daily selection of cakes, puddings and comfort classics from the bakery. Hot coffee with waffles, eggs in tomato curry along with chilled beer and the perfect view: I couldn’t ask for a better way to begin my day. 


22 | TRAVEL

HEALTH AND

HOSPITALITY

A new luxury health resort near Delhi promises physical rejuvenation and mental relaxation, based on both traditional therapies and modern science

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ess than two hours away from Delhi’s international airport is an oasis of health and luxury. Called Naad Wellness – referring to the primordial sound or ‘naad’ that echoes through the universe – it is a place for those looking for rest, rejuvenation and healing. What strikes you most on arriving here is the quiet sense of luxury

that pervades the resort. It has all the features of a five-star hotel, such as a gym and pool, but it also adopts wellness traditions from around the world – from Ayurvedic treatments, a Turkish Hammam, and Swedish and Balinese massages, to modern medical facilities like a dental studio and colon hydrotherapy. We take you on a tour. MARCH 2019


TRAVEL | 23

 The packages (starting `49,000) include a doctor’s consultation, dental consultation, yoga classes, two therapies a day, and access to all facilities including tennis, miniature golf, badminton, pool and gym.

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 At a Zen-inspired reflexology track, you can walk over smooth pebbles, arranged to form the symbol of yin-yang. The pebbles act as stimulants and massage the feet gently, thereby releasing stress.


 The ‘Healing Series’ includes a workshop with acclaimed spiritual healer Ashtar Tashi. Over three days, she conducts sessions on chakra healing, crystal therapy, art therapy, meditation and more.

 A unique feature of the resort is the Himalayan Salt Cave, where you can sit back and breathe in pink-salt vapour, which heals respiratory problems and skin conditions like eczema.

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ď ° The cuisine here is strictly vegan and is personalised. Once you get over the initial withdrawal symptoms from giving up caffeine, dairy, and sugar, you realise how light and healthy you feel.

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ď ą Depending on your needs and physical conditions, your doctor may recommend Ayurvedic therapies such as Abhyanga, Udwarthanam, Padabhyanga, or Shirodhara (in photo below).


26 | TRAVEL

 Try the Hammam experience, with state-of-the-art Turkish baths. Your therapist will first give your body a gentle scrub. Then, you’ll be led to the Hararet or steam room, followed by a warm dip in the jacuzzi.

 The rooms, while well-equipped and modern, do not have televisions to encourage a ‘digital detox’. The wardrobe is refreshed daily with plain white kurta-pyjamas that guests wear during their stay.

MARCH 2019


PAY FOR 10, GET ONE FREE! Pay for 10 issues of eShe magazine (`150 per copy) and get one free! Fill up this form and send it along with your cheque or demand draft for `1500 in the name of ‘Coral Content’ to: Coral Content, C3/1 Ground Floor, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi 110057, India.* Name: ___________________________________________________________ Address: __________________________________________________________ City: ____________________________________ Pin Code: ______________ Mobile: ____________________ Email:_________________________________ *For Indian residents only. You can also place orders and pay by card / netbanking at: eshe.ccavenue.com MARCH 2019


28 | HEALTHY EATING

“DON’T DIET, JUST CHOOSE WELLNESS” Nutritionist Avni Kaul answers our questions regarding weight loss, eating what our grandmothers ate, and that dreaded word ‘dieting’

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ven as a teenager, Avni Kaul was fascinated by articles and TV shows on food, nutrition, healthy recipes, and physical exercises. “As a kid, I had a lot of questions about food like, why do we eat a particular food, how much water should I take throughout the day, and so on,” says the Delhi-based nutritionist and founder of wellness consultancy Nutri Activinia.

Due to questions such as these, she took up B.Sc and later Master’s in nutrition from Delhi University, after which the desire to help people with their health goals pushed her to start her own venture. We asked her some questions that were on our mind. There’s a lot said these days about “eating the food your grandparents used to eat”.What are your thoughts on this? MARCH 2019


HEALTHY EATING | 29

Today we are surrounded by all kind of technologies, comforts and infrastructures. We drive the best cars, we travel across the world in a few hours, and so on. We consider our generation to be far ahead than our ancestors; we smile when we see our grandparents struggle to use a smartphone. Technologically, yes, we have gone far ahead but our capacity for physical work has reduced to half. On the other hand, globalisation has made our world smaller and we consume soups, sushi, momos, pizzas, burgers and so on, which probably weren’t available earlier. People have started to try new foods and new flavours. So the same concepts from those times can’t be applied today.Though we need to cut down on junk foods, one does want more variety in one’s diet. What is your take on the various fad diets out there? You may have heard about Paleo, Atkins or Ketogenic, all of which are fad diets and are seen as a quick fix. But, unfortunately, there is no such thing. Although you may lose a few pounds at first, you would not sustain the weight loss in the long term. As soon as you stop restricting your calorie intake, you will put the weight back on again. To successfully lose weight, you need to think about your lifestyle as a whole. Aim to eat a healthy, balanced diet and build activity into your daily life. MARCH 2019

The word ‘dieting’ itself is a bit depressing for someone who needs to lose weight! How do you motivate your clients away from emotional eating? Physiologically, we are programmed to eat when stressed. However, every client is unique. I motivate them by identifying their goals, discovering new possibilities, removing obstacles and creating an action plan and follow up.

What is your favourite success story? Helping advocate Gaurav Goyal to lose 15 pounds and helping him win Biggest Loser Challenge. What are your top tips for those trying to eat healthily? There is no single food that can give us every nutrient our body needs. We have to follow Variety, Balance and Moderation in our meal: Variety of food items and food groups; balance, neither too little nor too much; and portion moderation, yes, even your favourite foods! 


30 | COVER STORY

COURAGE

UNDER FIRE

Jasvinder Sanghera escaped a forced marriage and was disowned by her family. Her charity Karma Nirvana now works for victims of honourbased abuse and has helped introduce a new law in UK By Aekta Kapoor MARCH 2019


COVER STORY | 31

PHOTO BY @GSR PHOTOGRAPHIC

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asvinder Sanghera had an unexpected conversation when she was boarding a flight from Heathrow Airport one day. The security officer, an Asian woman in her 30s, looked up from her passport and said, “Jasvinder Sanghera? You saved my life.” While other passengers stood restlessly behind them in the queue, the security officer went on: “I read your book Shame and because of your story, I found the courage to leave my husband. He would have killed me if I hadn’t gone.” The woman told Jasvinder that she’d been born in England and had been forced to marry this man from Canada. She ended the conversation with: “I follow you in the news.You must keep doing what you’re doing, because you save lives.” The moment recharged Jasvinder, and reaffirmed to her that she was on the right path. That all her life’s pain and struggles hadn’t been in vain – escaping a forced marriage, being disowned by her family, setting up a charity to help victims of honour-based abuse and forced marriages, speaking at countless forums and educating Asian women and girls on their rights. Jasvinder felt vindicated. Yes, by then, she had won numerous humanitarian awards; been listed amongst the Guardian’s top 100 most inspirational women in the world; had her first memoir Shame MARCH 2019

on the Times Top 10 Bestsellers list and described in the House of Lords as a ‘political weapon’; and had even been appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2013 in recognition of her services. But it was testimonials of young women like the customs officer that Jasvinder sought most, her raison d’être. Born in Derby, UK, in a conservative Sikh family as one of seven

Chaz Akoshilem of UK’s Forced Marriage Unit, with activists Jasvinder Sanghera and Sabatina James at an AHA Foundation event in New York (2012)

siblings, Jasvinder was brought up to believe obedience was the mark of a good child and to shame one’s family was a fate worse than even death. “Shame is something that was at the heart of all my young experiences that governed my life and something I had a responsibility to from a young age,” Jasvinder told


32 | COVER STORY

Jasvinder Sanghera giving a press conference in December 2018 when she spoke up about being sexually harassed 12 years earlier by a member of the UK House of Lords, having waived her right to anonymity

eShe just after winning the 2019 Robert Burns Humanitarian of the Year Award. “This was something I learnt from my parents, family and community: that I must never bring ‘shame or sharam’ to the front door. This is when you learn what you can and cannot do, what is deemed shameful and honourable and I experienced great inequalities as a woman in this space. It can prevent you from integrating, being independent, educated, empowered and most importantly make you feel less valued as a woman.” espite living in a first-world country, her family and community followed the customs and cultural codes of the villages in

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Punjab where they’d all immigrated from, and changing to fit British ways of life was considered a kind of betrayal to their kin. Many didn’t even know English despite being UK residents for decades. “I think it is incredibly important to understand that the issues of forced marriage are a global problem,” avers Jasvinder, 53. “Regardless of where you were born, they take place in democratic countries. As a campaigner I have had to create a cultural shift in advocating these abuses as happening in the UK, as many believed it could not be possible here,” she says. By the time she was 14, Jasvinder had seen all her sisters married off MARCH 2019


COVER STORY | 33

against their will, and submit themselves to miserable lives of slavery and abuse. She herself was shown a photo of the man chosen to be her husband.Terrified, she ran away and had a relationship with a Sikh boy, but one who was considered ‘lowcaste’. Her family disowned her for smirching their honour, and warned her never to come back. “As a woman, I am ashamed to say

“The fact remains these practices are embedded in cultures that operate codes of honour and therefore the women have a role to ensure daughters behave according to this honour system.” Grief-stricken after her family disowned her, the teenage Jasvinder tried to build a new life. She got married and divorced twice, and had three children. But the most

L-R: Jasvinder was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree by De Montfort University Leicester in July 2018; she has given numerous talks on honour-based abuse and has been called on as an expert witness

that women are complicit and have also been convicted in the UK for forcing their children into a marriage,” she says grimly. “My mother was the main perpetrator who would argue she was only doing what was expected of her and what happened to her, therefore these practices are deemed a responsibility to be upheld,” she shares, adding, MARCH 2019

momentous point of her life was when Robina – one of her dearest sisters who had been married off against her will when she was just 15 – set herself on fire and committed suicide when she was just 24. Plunged into darkness and despair, Jasvinder decided to dedicate her life to helping women like Robina and herself escape from hon-


34 | COVER STORY

ognised as a crime.” According to Jasvinder, whose family would cross the road to avoid her after the shame she brought them, in cultures where codes of honour exist, there is an overwhelming drive and motivation to collective morality that supersedes a child’s happiness. “Hence my own family chose to disown me. I understand my parents needed the acceptance of the family and community due to the expectations placed upon them, but this is not a justification,” she says. asvinder believes that we as women have to stand up for our daughters in being clear that they have the right to choose and be free individuals, by encouraging their independence, education and empowerment and enabling others not to see this as a threat. “I am a mother with one son and two grandsons,” she says, “and it is my responsibility to ensure they understand gender equality and advocate for their sisters and not feel any special privileges by virtue of the fact they were born boys. We as women have to give other women permission and support to break this cycle of abuse. Then, slowly, it will change.” Jasvinder has written three memoirs: Shame, Daughters of Shame, and Shame Travels. Last year, Jasvinder was also in the news for another reason: She spoke up about

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The cover of Jasvinder’s first memoir, Shame (2007)

our-based abuse, and established her charity, Karma Nirvana, 26 years ago. As a campaigning organisation, it has made a lasting impact with a new law against forced marriage, providing a helpline that receives over 800 calls a month, and training many UK police forces and other agencies. “Forced marriage is not a tradition. It is abuse, a harmful practice that perpetuates itself by consent in communities that are not willing to tackle it,” says Jasvinder. “It is now a criminal offence in the UK and our hope is that this will help to create a cultural shift for them to be rec-

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COVER STORY | 35

UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Jasvinder Sanghera CBE (2017). Despite being outlawed by the UK government in 2014, over 1,000 cases of forced marriage were reported to UK authorities in 2016

the sexual harassment she’d had to face from a peer in the House of Lords. It was the first such claim in the 479-year history of the House, and led to an increase in reporting of similar cases, a detailed investigation, and changes in policy. To women and girls who face a similar situation as herself and are disowned by their families, Jasvinder encourages them to connect with other survivors and to read MARCH 2019

their stories on how they rebuilt their lives. “My message is to stand by your decision as I have over the past 39 years! This decision has to be owned by you: change disowned to being owned! My decision means that my children will not inherit legacies of abuse and I get to see them grow with freedoms and independence that I never had but it makes my decision more worthwhile.” 


36 | ADVENTURE

THE END OF THE EARTH

What is like at the South Pole, and what does it take to get there? Senior IPS officer and adventurer Aparna Kumar talks about her intrepid travels By Neha Kirpal

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parna Kumar recently became the first woman Indian Police Service (IPS) DIG and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) officer to successfully conquer the South Pole, the southernmost point on the globe situated in Antarctica. A 2002 batch IPS officer of the Uttar Pradesh cadre, she has previously scaled promi-

nent peaks in six continents and is looking forward to the seventh, Mt. Dinali in North America. Aparna spoke to us about how she caught the mountaineering bug and the highs and lows of her conquest. Tell us about the experience of covering 111 km, skiing eight hours a day, carrying 35 kg of equipment at a temperature of minus 40â °C, all within 12 days? MARCH 2019


PERSONAL ADVENTURE GROWTH | 37

I reached Punta Arenas, Chile, on December 31, 2018, and met other team members on January 1, 2019. On January 2, our guide Steve Jones checked our gear and equip-

MARCH 2019

ment and gave us a briefing on the unique Antarctic environment, the Antarctic treaty as well as all the dos and don’ts. On January 3, we left Punta Arenas in the Russian cargo


38 | ADVENTURE

flight Ilyushin for Union Glacier, Antarctica. There, we sorted and packed our food bag, prepared our sleds and skied for practice. On 6th morning, we were dropped off at 89° South latitude by a smaller aircraft. The real challenge and adventure began now in the complete cold wilderness. We had to ski 601 nautical miles to reach the most southerly point on earth and experience the challenges faced by early explorers. Every day, we skied approximately 14 km and started the day at 9 am with six marches of 70 minutes each and a 10-15 minute break between each march. After the third march, we would break for lunch. Every day was different weather wise, altitude wise and while haul-

ing the sled. Most days it would be very cold, extremely windy and foggy with low visibility. But during the day, we would sometimes get a respite with the wonderful colours of the Antarctic continent displayed before us. The stark beauty and silence of the high polar plateau, the physical demands of sled hauling for 9-10 hours and the will power, grit and determination one needs to have to complete the journey, is a life-changing experience. On January 13, 2019, at 1.20 pm Chilean time, we reached the South Pole camp and at 3.25 pm, we reached the geographic South Pole. I had a sense of great relief and gratefulness to the Almighty at that moment. I had finally reached the place where the great explorMARCH 2019


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ers Roald Amundsen and Captain Robert Scott had reached. What were some of the challenges you had to face? In mid-November 2018, I was diagnosed with pneumonia in the right lung and had to be on medication and bed rest. I was completely shattered and apprehensive about the whole expedition. Once I recovered, I had to train rigorously and learn skiing in a very short period of time and regain my strength and stamina. This was the toughest period of my life. Then, on the way to the South Pole, I broke my prescription sunglasses while skiing and I did not have a spare one. So, for my entire journey to the South Pole I used ski goggles! It was only after I returned to Punta Arenas that I could see properly. You caught the mountaineering bug quite late in life. How did that happen? My serious relationship with nature and mountains began in 2014 when I was posted as the Commandant of the 9th Bn PAC, Moradabad, in Uttar Pradesh. It manned sensitive high-altitude posts along the Indo-Tibetan/China border. The mountaineering equipment, gear and tentage kept at the battalion triggered me to do a basic mountaineering course at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports, Manali, in October 2013. In July 2014, I completed an advanced course. MARCH 2019

As a mother of two young children, how do you balance your family life, work and climbing pursuits? It is tough and I have to sacrifice a lot of things. However, due to strong family support, everything becomes manageable. My mother helps in taking care of the children. My husband shares his responsibilities, and manages the logistics, finance and all other miscellaneous

things. I am very disciplined, extremely motivated and have learnt to manage time efficiently. What is your advice to aspiring mountaineers, especially women? We all are capable of doing more than we believe, if only we would just try and not be afraid of failure. There is no age for dreams, passion and vision. We have to challenge ourselves, come out of our comfort zones and discover new opportunities and possibilities. 


40 | PERSONAL CAREER GROWTH

THE MIC DROP If there’s one thing that Meenal Patil has learnt in 17 years of being an RJ, it’s how to show up day after day with a smile, no matter what

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hile growing up in Dubai, Meenal Sanjagiri always turned to the radio as her main source of entertainment. “I would listen to it all day, pretend to be one of the ‘announcers’, and my mum would always say, ‘Tu announcer ban ja (become an announcer)’ so I grew up knowing that this is something that would make me happy,” says the bubbly Meenal, who got her first job as an RJ at age 19 when Radio Mirchi Pune was launched in 2001.

Today, after 17 years in the field, educating people while entertaining them, what defines her is her joie de vivre and cheeriness in person and on air. But few know about the tough times she has been through, because the Radio One music jockey has learnt how to show up every day with a smile, no matter what. Born and raised in Dubai, Meenal moved to Pune for her B.Com. She aspired to be a film editor but she ended up working as an RJ instead. “My parents went through many MARCH 2019


CAREER | 41

challenges due to losses in my dad’s businesses. Once I was 16, I was told that I would have to pay for my own expenses! I’ve always been brought up to believe that financial independence is of utmost importance and that once you are financial stable, everything else follows.” But while her career took off early, her 20s were marked by a string of unsuccessful relationships. At 32, she finally “caved in” to her moth-

me than I can ever do for him,” she admits, adding that it’s a challenge to live without him for long periods when he’s sailing. “It’s a professional challenge: staying happy and sounding energetic on the radio when all you want to do is cry or stay quiet. I remember this time I had a massive breakup with my boyfriend, and I did a show with a lump in my throat. The day Vikrant sails away is also a difficult time to

L-R: Meenal Patil and her husband Vikrant; Meenal was born in Dubai and is now based in Pune

er’s demand for an arranged marriage. “I met 10 boys before I met Vikrant [who worked in the merchant navy]. One meeting and I was in love. I knew that this guy would change my life!” she laughs. To maintain a healthy relationship, Meenal believes you should always trust that your partner loves you more. “My husband cooks for me, looks after the house (when he’s around) and does a lot more for MARCH 2019

do a show. My mum passing away was a difficult time too.” The one takeaway she wants people to learn from her life is to keep smiling. “My mum was like that.We went through some severe shit but she held the fort and never once made us believe that it was hard on her. I want people to read my story and believe that whatever happens, all you need to do is look at the bright side and SMILE!” 


42 | SOCIAL ACTIVIST

LADY OF LETTERS

Artist, social commentator and feminist librarian Aqui Thami is using her art and her voice to reclaim public spaces and support other women By Ananya Jain

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he terms artist and activist are not enough to describe Aqui Thami. Born in Darjeeling, but based in Mumbai, the multifaceted Aqui not only creates art – in the form of posters, zines, prints and photographs – but also actively works towards starting a dialogue around issues of identity, gender, caste, and belonging. Her list of projects is unending, always aiming to create change for those on the margins.These include

The Dharavi Art Room, an initiative that uses art as a medium to empower children and women in Dharavi, Asia’s largest slum, and The Bombay Underground, working to keep the ‘underground alive’. Her most recent initiative is The Sister Library, a travelling library comprising works written exclusively by women. Each book has been curated by Aqui herself, and has been collected over many years. “After making reading intervenMARCH 2019


SOCIAL ACTIVIST | 43

tions in different communities, I realised that people were really not into works of women writers and that made me reflect on my personal reading,” explains Aqui of the beginnings of the feminist library. “I saw that women did not even make a fourth of my collection, and this really made me feel like shit, so I made a conscious effort to start reading books by women exclu-

every city. They helped with everything, from installation to workshops, carrying boxes and things around, everything.” Aqui was also in Delhi last year for a discussion on safe spaces. “After years of female infanticide and fatal violence against women, even now we live in a time that is extremely unsafe for women. We don’t even have space; safe space is

L-R: Aqui’s poster of Devi Maya Thangmi at Manor Park; an old telephone booth reclaimed as a zine library

sively around five years ago. Slowly, my collection increased and I had to share it with the world.” The library had a successful tour in 2018, when it travelled to six cities across India. “Every city was different, which is why I curated the books keeping my own personal experience of the cities in mind,” Aqui recalls of the experience.“The biggest similarity was the immense support I received from women in MARCH 2019

a far-reaching concept,” she opines. Aqui recently completed a residency with Victoria & Albert Research Institute (VARI), in London, where she looked at political posters in their archives to understand their visual language and activism. She also collaborated with young aspiring artists from east London to make street interventions and reclaim spaces. “I looked at food as an archive and shared biryani with


44 | SOCIAL ACTIVIST

Aqui Thami giving a talk at the National Art Library in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London

around 100 people, allowing for a space where London not only experienced the artistry of the food of east London but also shifted their perception on what an archive could be and what knowledge is.” London also opened Aqui’s to another perspective on being a female artist: “In my experience, people in London really wanted to listen. They valued my perception, something that doesn’t really happen in my own country. Being an indigenous woman, I am often silenced in India. It was also nice not having to experience harassment every day!” Aqui’s art has been converted into a clothing line by NORBLACKNORWHITE, an upcoming design label by two Indian-Canadian women. But biases by curators in

India have made Aqui’s art journey somewhat of an obstacle course. “The arts in India are appreciated but only amongst the affluent. Like caste Hindu artists being appreciated by caste Hindu curators!” she says. “Working in India is quite difficult, specifically if you work in public spaces. Every intervention, every performance is a risk.” Inspired by artists such as Judy Chicago, Jenny Holzer and Emory Douglas, Aqui believes art necessarily has socio-political implications. “If artists are responsible for creating culture, can we be apolitical?” she asks, adding, “If people are only making things that can make a buyer’s house look interesting, is that even art, are they even artists? Art is essential for driving change.” MARCH 2019


FASHION | 45

Here’s a look at the best celebrity showstopper looks from Lakme Fashion Week Spring-Summer 2019

Vaani Kapoor walked the ramp for luxury holiday apparel brand Shivan & Narresh’s Patu Series, in a gown made using R | Elan FreeFlow fabrics.

Kangana Ranaut wore an intricately embroidered lehenga, crystal-encrusted choli and delicate dupatta for Anushree Reddy’s Atirah show.


46 | FASHION

Shehla Khan’s Diana show opened with Isabelle Kaif in a glittering olive and silver lehenga-choli.

Jahnvi Kapoor in a layered skirt, embroidered jacket and shimmering bralet for Raghavendra Rathore.

Badminton champ PV Sindhu walked the ramp for footwear label Misfit Panda by Juveca Panda.

Lisa Haydon glittered in a long-sleeved, tiny choli and flowy lehenga for Shriya Som’s Reverie show. MARCH 2019


FASHION | 47

Pooja Hegde wore a sheer, checked mini with a striking jacket for Saaksha & Kinni’s Nomada show.

Diana Penty in a fully encrusted lehenga, tiny choli and sheer dupatta for Mishru by Swapna Anumolu.

Karisma Kapoor in a full-skirt anarkali with a printed dupatta for Punit Balana’s Maya show.

Kareena Kapoor Khan closed LFW’s grand finale as always, this time for designers Shantanu & Nikhil.

MARCH 2019


48 | FASHION

BUY ONE, GET TWO!

Young designer Niti Singhal has come up with a unique fashion label that offers reversible, convertible clothing

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iti Singhal is on a mission to solve the world’s problems: of lesser living space, busier lifestyles, and a greater pressure to look good for social media. The London-based young designer has come up a convertible and reversible fashion brand, Twee-In-One, the only label in the world to make clothes that flip from a day look to a night look. Having studied apparel manufacturing from Mumbai, fashion design at Istituto Marangoni, Milan, and a Master Accelerator programme in fashion from London, Niti’s aim is to simplify modern life to allow one to do more with less. “When I was working in Italy as an embroidery designer, my company had provided me with a small room, which was barely enough for me, leave alone my clothes. In a foreign land, I would make use of every weekend to travel around. And each time I packed my bag, I wondered that life would be perfect if I

could carry and store less yet have more,” says Niti. She goes on: “The only way this was possible was to optimise the space that one garment took. That’s

MARCH 2019


FASHION | 49

MARCH 2019


50 | FASHION

when I developed the concept of reversible and convertible clothing.” The clothes Niti designs don’t just have different colours or prints on both sides; they have a completely different look and feel. One can wear the same garment for an entire day and go from a casual look to a formal one by simply flipping sides. Priced between `2000 and 35000, the label’s target audience is “any girl who is always on the go, a traveller, an extrovert who is very social, someone who loves fashion.” Of course, such an innovative concept can’t have been without challenges. “The main challenge was to get both the sides right, in terms of the design, fit and comfort. The next challenge was to find a way to convey this idea to the world and to make them believe that something like this could work. As the concept is very new and unbelievable for people, they still take a while before placing an order online. They like to see the product for real and understand the flip first. It’s magic, but it’s real!” she smiles. Launched in May last year, the clothes retail from the brand’s own e-store, besides in MARCH 2019


FASHION | 51

department stores in Surat and Bangalore. Niti has also participated in fashion shows and fundraisers, and was awarded the most inspirational designer at India Fashion Week, London, in 2017. With sustainable fashion becoming a buzzword these days, what makes Twee-in-One’s concept unique is that these clothes help women have more looks and styles with lesser clothing in reality, thus promoting a more sustainable lifestyle with less waste. Though her brand is relatively new, Niti is heartened by the response she has got so far. “When you have a brand with a purpose and you see the purpose getting achieved, it motivates you. I have been fortunate enough to get an extremely positive response since our launch and it encourages me to work harder on our designs and launch capsule collections every few months.” All the products Niti designs, whether clothes, notebooks or bags, are convertible. “People are often surprised at the variety and utility aspect of our designs,” laughs Niti. “Their faces light up on finding out that each design is reversible and can be worn as two completely different looks!”  MARCH 2019


52 | FASHION NEWS

JAIPUR WATCH COMPANY Indian homegrown brand Jaipur Watch Company has just come up with the tiniest watch ever – and it’s not for your wrist, but for your finger. A lovely combination of white gold, yellow gold, one-carat diamonds and mother-of-pearl, the watch features a Swiss movement and is a mere 24 mm in diameter. Head to Jaipurwatches.com or to Tijori Stores at The Oberoi Hotels to check it out. (Price on request.)

STYLE UPDATE The latest news and launches in the world of fashion and accessories MAX FASHION “The colour indigo is all about intuition, perception and the higher mind,” says Kamakshi Kaul,VP design head, Max Fashion, talking about the brand’s new Indigo Tales collection.The hues of indigo hold a lot of meaning, she goes on. “This beautiful colour is helpful in opening the third eye and in promoting deep concentration during times of introspection and meditation, helping you achieve deeper levels of consciousness. It represents our deepest thoughts and spiritual wisdom. Indigo also inspires the right brain to get the creative juices flowing.” MARCH 2019


FASHION NEWS | 53

ZOOKI Zooki, a multi-designer store founded by entrepreneur Charu Singh (right in photo), has opened its door at Khan Market, New Delhi. The store features a curated collection of prêt and diffusion wear created by young and edgy designers from Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi. The store’s launch event witnessed a panel discussion with designers, Charu Parashar (left in photo) and Nida Mehmood along with stylist Aradhana Baruah. The talk was about the versatility of digital prints when teamed with embellishments.

RADHIKA AGRAWAL It’s time for the return of maximalist jewellery. Designer Radhika Agrawal has launched her new collection, Vintage Fantasy, where bold and vintage makes a comeback versus all the dainty jewellery that has been at the forefront for quite some time. The collection features a combination of vintage finds, pearls, casted moulds and charms, finely finished with a 24k gold plating. “Our products are crafted with an obsessive attention to detail,” says the designer. MARCH 2019


54 | BEAUTY BUSINESS

HAIR TO DYE FOR!

Alka Kapur’s label Plantpure offers a unique, natural way to colour hair while nourishing it, and it all started with a shared cab ride…

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lka Kapur hadn’t planned to go to Gurugram that day, but her friend insisted she come over for lunch. Alka decided to take an Uber Pool ride. On the way, she was joined by Naoko Inagaki, a Japanese henna expert with 24 years of experience in the business. Little did Alka realise that the inter-city shared cab ride would end up taking her on a

professional detour! The women got chatting and realised they had quite a bit in common. Both were born in 1961 and had a down-to-earth straightforward approach to life and business. “It was a mystic connection,” recalls Alka, a mother of two and a former fashion-accessories exporter from Delhi. Naoko offered Alka a henna-colouring treatment MARCH 2019


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for her hair the next day, and Alka agreed. “I never thought I’d get into the beauty business but God is great. Anything can happen any time,” laughs Alka, who was convinced about Naoko’s product after seeing the results on herself. The two women decided to go into business together, and that’s how their beauty brand Plantpure was born. Naoko continued looking after the Japanese market, while Alka looked

way to apply it. It harms the hair.” The format they have developed allows your entire hair to benefit from the nutrition of 100 percent natural, herbal henna along with hibiscus oil, while only the greys are treated with indigo powder. Plantpure expanded its range of products, and now offers hair and scalp cleansers, moringa oil and rose water. “All our ingredients are sourced from ethical farming units in north and south India, and we

at Delhi-NCR to begin with. Keeping Indian customers’ needs in mind, the two developed a unique hair-colouring system using henna, natural indigo powder, and hibiscus oil. They hired a team to go to customers’ homes to apply the products correctly, and to give guidance on making the colour deeper and the hair healthier. “These days, you’ll find many henna brands offering indigo colour mixed with the henna powder,” says Alka, “but that’s the wrong

use traditional Ayurvedic siddha sources for the oils,” says Alka. They retail from their Facebook page (Plantpure), and have tied up with various hair salons in Delhi, Gurugram and Mumbai. They not only offer hair colour for women but also for men, and have quite a sizeable customer base of Sikh men looking for natural, safe solutions to colour their beards. “We’re now looking to export to the Middle East and Canada too,” informs Alka. 

MARCH 2019


56 | BEAUTY BUSINESS

SEEDS OF LOVE

Gardener-entrepreneur Sangeeta Jain is using her knowledge of herbs and plants in her beauty brand that promises wellness for both body and soul

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angeeta Jain walks amongst the plants and trees as if she is one with them. “This here is patchouli,” she says, offering you a couple of dark green leaves at her family’s 40-acre Sakri Farms in Raipur, Chhattisgarh. “You can keep these in your cupboard and you won’t need mothballs. And that’s turmeric there.” Moringa is coming up. “This superfood is India’s gift to the world,”

she gushes, “I had a little bit of pain in my hips that has completely stopped since I started having half a teaspoon of this in water every day.” She continues to point out different plants and their benefits like a mother showing off her children. In terms of her professional profile, Sangeeta may be the co-founder of RAS Luxury Oils – India’s first all-natural, premium farm-to-face beauty brand that grows its own MARCH 2019


BEAUTY BUSINESS | 57

ingredients, manufactures them inhouse, and retails them from highend stores and salons nationwide – but she is at heart a gardener, and a hands-on, happy one at that. Born to an agriculturist’s family in Arvi, a small Maharashtrian town, Sangeeta grew up under the shadow of a deeply spiritual mother who wrote down notes of all the home remedies she had ever tried, and a pragmatic, workaholic father whose only religion was humanity. The youngest of five siblings, she imbibed a bit from both her parents. The children grew up amidst lush green farms, towering teaks, and scented orchards, with the

humming of a dal mill and cotton processing units in the background. They played in the forests and ran over streams, as comfortable by themselves in the fields as in the company of a large extended family. After doing her B.Com and diploma in business management from Nagpur, Sangeeta studied computers and started her own clothing label with a cousin. Marriage at 25 to the scion of an agri-biotech company changed her career path. “It was a big joint family. I had five mothers-in-law!” she jokes, recalling those chaotic, eventful years. Her two daughters Shubhika and Suramya were born two years apart,

Facing page: Sangeeta Jain at her Raipur farm; this page: The open-air lobby at the RAS Luxury Oils office MARCH 2019


58 | BEAUTY BUSINESS

and once they were older, Sangeeta turned educationist and set up schools in Raipur to teach children computers. When the family set up the Kaanger Valley Academy, a day boarding, 10 years ago, she joined them as head of the nursery section. “But all I ever wanted to do was gardening,” says Sangeeta, who came up with Garden Centre in 2012. Her little enterprise began

ural beauty recipes. Gradually, RAS Luxury Oils was born. Not only do their products contain herbs and oils made on their own farms, Sangeeta also points out one more magical ingredient: pure intentions. “Mantras are chanted during the making of all the products, and we do sound healing therapy to cleanse the space of negative vibrations,” says Sangeeta, who

L-R: The RAS range; Sangeeta with her team at her farm. RAS has about 30 employees, mostly women

offering seeds, grown plants, pots and landscape design services. Initially, it was just a passion project. But when her daughter Shubhika joined the family business and pointed out that many of the aromatherapy plants and herbs they were growing on their fields could be tapped for their beauty benefits, Sangeeta took out her mother’s old notebook and began trying out nat-

along with her husband Shailendra often hosts spiritual healers and teachers from around the world. “Keep the intention and things will fall in place. I’ve learnt that we define our own limits. When we have a positive vibration, there is no limit to what we can achieve. Remove self-limiting beliefs and things will start happening,” the gentle gardener promises.  MARCH 2019


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AYURVEDIC TREASURES

These brands nourish your hair and body with the best of Ayurvedic beauty recipes in the form of easy-to-use and highly effective products NEOVEDA The best part about Ayurvedic beauty treatments is that they are natural and balance the three ‘bio-energies’, Vatta, Pitta and Kapha. The downside is that they are not so easy to use! NeoVeda has solved the problem with their range of beauty products using PETA-certified, natural ingredients and essential oils. We loved their Face Cleanser (Olive, Jojoba and Hazelnut Oil, `950), and the sweet-smelling Body Moisturizer (Honey, Almond and Aloe Vera Lotion, `850). Buy on: Crafthouseindia.com

BIO RESURGE The formulations for Bio Resurge skincare and haircare products are adopted from the Vedas and scriptures, and stay true to the original recipes. Their Padmakesh range of hair products includes a Nourishing Hair Oil (`240) that is highly effective against dandruff and hair fall; and a Herbal Hair Wash (`180) that is infused with the goodness of traditional Indian hair-care ingredients neem, amla, bhringraj and japakusum. Buy on: Bioresurge.in MARCH 2019


60 | AUTHOR INTERVIEW

SCIENCE AND SPIRITUALITY

In her new book, The Source, Dr Tara Swart blends her experience in neuroscience with life coaching to help people achieve their fullest potential

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ne of the most prominent voices in the field of neuroscience, Dr Tara Swart is a leadership coach and an award-winning author. She counts some of the most influential leaders in the world as her clients, helping them achieve mental resilience and peak brain performance. In her new book, The Source (Penguin Random House), the PhD

scholar and former medical doctor uses her experiences and research in psychiatry, neuroscience and Indian spirituality to present effective solutions to managing stress and maximising one’s potential. We talked to her about the book. You were born to Indian immigrants in UK. Have you been able to reconcile Indian traditions with your scientific training? Do they have a meeting point? MARCH 2019


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There is perfect harmony between both. One of the reasons I wrote the book was because of the advantage of having my cultural heritage together with scientific knowledge. I wanted as many people as possible to have access to this amazing combination. Lots of Indian cultural beliefs have been proven by science.

The best examples are the effect of yoga and meditation on reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and the anti-inflammatory impact of turmeric (haldi) in bowel disease and even dementia! Your book suggests exercises to harness the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of a person for selfMARCH 2019

growth. The last of these has largely been ignored by Western science. How is spirituality important for self-growth? What we are increasingly beginning to realise and accept in the West is that if you are not fulfilled spiritually, with meaning and purpose in your life, then it manifests as physical illness such as heart attacks and cancer or mental problems like depression or anxiety. Spiritual health and development is not only as important as the others, it is possibly the most important. I have seen many examples of this in my executive clients as well as my medical patients. You say that the ‘Law of Attraction’ does exist, though not the way some books tout it as ‘magic’. How would you explain it in more scientific terms? This is mostly explained by priming the brain for abundant thinking because our state of mind affects our decision-making and risktaking. If we experience emotions like trust and love, then the effect of hormones on the brain is positive towards making good decisions. If we have fear or shame, then we can’t make decisions and we don’t have the courage to take healthy risks to improve our lives. Our brain filters all the information we experience in life and assigns value to the things that promote our survival. Our brain is geared to avoid loss more than to gain rewards. 


62 | BOOK REVIEW

THE WAY HE SEES HER

A new anthology looks at ‘the male gaze’ in modern Urdu literature PREETO & OTHER STORIES

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ut together by literary historian Rakhshanda Jalil, this collection of short stories (Niyogi, `450), translated from Urdu, offers a look at the male view of women. As Rakhshanda explains in the introduction, “Be it muse or mother, vamp or victim, fulsome or flawed, there has been a tendency among male writers to... present women as black-and-white characters, often either impossibly white or improbably black.” Intrigued by how men view women and write about them, she has selected stories that dwell on the way male Urdu writers portray women in their writing. The result is a fascinating tour through India and the Indian man’s mind. In the title story Preeto, written by Krishan Chandar, decades of marriage conceal inside them a dark secret, erupting eventually in a crime of passion. In Driftwood by Deepak Budki, a father’s incestuous relationship with his daughter leads to an expected if unfortunate outcome. Even though some scenarios are highly unlikely, such as Ash in the Fire by Abdus Samad, where a nurse falls in love with her paralytic pa-

tient, it does not diminish their impact and emotion. In fact, there is no point in burdening fiction with an expectation of realism. These stories may have set out to be a kind of ‘reverse’ gaze – the object of a subjective ‘male gaze’ looking back with objective scrutiny – but they are just as touching, provocative and engrossing as all good literature should be. With or without an analytical perspective, these are worth the read.  MARCH 2019


CONTEST | 63

Share Your Views & Win!

PHOTO BY DAVIDCOHEN ON UNSPLASH

What does ‘the female gaze’ mean to you?

Email your opinion in 50-100 words to mail@coralcontent.com The best answer will be published on eShe.in, and the winner gets an eShe notebook! Deadline: 15 March 2019 MARCH 2019


ON THE CARDS

ARIES The nurturing side of your personality will give security and warmth to those close to you. You will be there for all, always reliable, realistic, home-loving. Magnificent success in financial matters is indicated. Application of practical, conservative measures in your affairs will be beneficial. There will be sparks in your relationship with your partner. TAURUS Expect material benefits, physical luxuries, sensual pleasure. Your current dream will come true. However, don’t bask so much in your own success that you close yourself to others or cause others to envy you. Don’t be judgmental. Brief journeys with loved ones will be therapeutic.

GEMINI If you are looking for love or have just met someone special, then immerse yourself in a state of magnetic charm and attraction. Those already in a love bond will experience a state of harmony where you are able to reach a compromise between opposing viewpoints. CANCER You’ll feel the need to look within for answers, do soul-searching or take a break from the rat-race or other people’s opinions. To create a more emotionally balanced way of looking at life, put your faith in a spiritual belief to guide you. LEO A financial enterprise begun now will eventually lead to prosperity MARCH 2019

PHOTO: THOUGHT CATALOG ON UNSPLASH

Your growth and success guide for March, by tarot reader Alka Mahajan


TAROT | 65

and material security. You will have all resources at hand. Enjoy your sense of wellbeing, but don’t play with fire. Relationships are warm and health is perfect! VIRGO Legal issues and business deals will have a successful outcome. Be honest and take responsibility for your choices. If seeking a new romance, you will get what you desire. If someone has wronged you, an apology will be received. LIBRA Gear up for multifarious challenges. Be vigilant, honest about your needs and look at all the facts. Someone at the workplace may spread venomous gossip about you or you may find yourself the object of a blunt verbal assault. Read documents carefully before signing. SCORPIO You are about to enter a phase of fresh optimism and passionate fun. The more confident and inspired you are, the more successful you will be. Joint ventures or teamwork will bring fruitful results. A love interest belonging to the air signs will add magic to your life! SAGITTARIUS It is fine being upfront and direct or witty, but it can also mean suppressing your true emotional needs. You find fault with everyone because no one can live up to your high expectations. Liberate yourself from old patterns of behaviour, drop emoMARCH 2019

tional baggage and say goodbye to the old you. De-clutter your life. CAPRICORN Situations will make you feel dejected. Your sense of deprivation will make the way forward seem impossible but there will always be someone to save you. Avoid taking risks in business and property matters. Loved ones will bring joy. Expect an addition to the family. AQUARIUS You are dedicated, optimistic and enthusiastic.You may receive an inheritance or family money might be made available. Happiness, security and fulfilment are indicated in relationships. Media exposure will bring name, fame and power. PISCES There is apathy in your movements suggesting you are emotionally stuck. In your withdrawn state, you may reject help being offered. Life may seem dull but soon you will be able to focus on your goals and good feelings will return if you make the effort. Be generous with energy, talents and resources and people will reciprocate in kind.  Alka Mahajan is an educationist, professional tarot card reader and a certified counsellor and psychotherapist. Write to her at alkamahajan1@ gmail.com.


66 | RARE VIEW

Dear daughters

I

By Aekta Kapoor

must be the only Indian mother in the world to advise her daughters never to get married. Ever. Everyone laughs when I say this. Indian mothers are famous for their obsession with their kids’ nuptials, after all. I must be joking when I advise against it. But I say it in earnest. Marriage has nothing exceptional to offer a woman in the 21st century. Even today, the institution continues to follow old patriarchal values that place the husband’s needs above the wife’s. It reduces a woman’s power and increases her responsibilities. Till a few decades ago, marriage meant security, social acceptability, a source of income, children, and a companion in old age.These days, however, women can very well have all of these while single. So what do they need the burden of a husband for? As someone who’s been twice married, you may consider me an authority on this matter. Both my marriages were poles apart. One was arranged; the other of my own choice. One was a prison sentence; the other was liberation. One was a hell of fear and hate; the other was a paradise of love and desire. One left me broken and powerless; the other healed and nurtured me. Both led to my spiritual development. Both helped me At the airport, sending my to find myself. But here’s the thing: you don’t firstborn off for studies need marriage to do that. Not anymore. What I’ve learnt about marriage is that it’s never about the other person, it’s about you. Every day is a new journey into yourself, your own insecurities, fears and suppressed pains and triggers. Men can be amazing lovers, wonderful companions and they are very useful for sex. But you don’t need to marry them to enjoy them. I long for the day when a generation of Indian women will reject this outmoded institution in favour of equal relationships.That’s when entitled Indian men will change. That’s when society will evolve and we will #SmashThePatriarchy. Till then, have one lover or several, have kids, run a home, run a company. Just don’t get married.  MARCH 2019


PERSONAL GROWTH | 67

MARCH 2019


68 | PERSONAL GROWTH

MARCH 2019

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