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22-28 November 2013

Vol. 3 No. 14  Pages 24  ` 7

RNI No. HARENG/2011/39319, Postal Regn. No. GRG/35/2012-2014


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arriages are made in heaven’, but everyone wants to make them special on Earth too! Although a typical Indian wedding has always been about lavish food, heavy costumes and swanky decorations, today the people have a desire for innovation, to make for the most memorable moments. Many people believe that a themebased decoration, designer jewellery, impressive sets, ensembles, exotic flowers and a professional touch make for a perfect contemporary wedding. Most of them therefore prefer to turn to Wedding Planners, who clearly don’t come cheap. So what are the different arrangements needed for the M-day? When Sukhi Mehra, a resident of Sushant Lok, and the love of her life, Vikas Goel, an IT professional, decided to tie the knot last year, their first step was to visit a Wedding Planner. They were however disap-

pointed, as the amount quoted was exorbitant. “We didn’t want a typical, opulent Delhi wedding with hundreds of guests, where you have to just stand on the stage and smile. We wanted a more personal celebration with close friends and family. We approached many Wedding Planners, but apart from their high charges, their ideas revolved around similar themes and settings. We therefore decided to do everything ourselves,” says Sukhi. With their own organisational skills, strength and commitment, the couple was able to make it the most memorable event of their life. The Goels loved the wedding for its unique peacock theme, and the Mehras appreciated the concept of the Krishna Dandiya, in place of a standard DJ. With the help of a few experts and married couples, Friday Gurgaon has put together a ‘how-to’ on organizing your own wedding.  Contd on p 6-7 

ave you ever received an email or a phone call asking for funds for an ailing child or an elderly person? If yes, do beware. There are many fake NGOs operating in the City. Some of them even use the name of the United Nations! Besides, instances wherein registered charitable organisations are siphoning off the money collected for the needy and poor, are also on the rise. There is the case of Sid, a resident of Sector 57, who donated Rs. 10,000 twice, in the account of an NGO named ‘Human Help India Trust’. One day he had received a call from a young ‘volunteer’, who told him about the serious condition of a six-yearold girl suffering from blood cancer, and admitted in the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. Sid, a professional artist, was so touched with the ‘condition’ of the patient that he decided to meet the ‘volunteer’ of the NGO. After the meeting he immediately transferred funds to the account of the NGO. “I met a young volunteer who sounded very genuine. I checked out their website, which is properly updated. Besides, the account number provided to me was with ICICI Bank. All this made me believe that the NGO was genuine. After a week I asked my uncle to visit the patient in Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. I was shocked to know that no patient at the Hospital had been provided any grant by Human Help India Trust,” says Sid. When he longed a complaint, he came to know that the ‘Trust’ was run by a small group of college students, who would regularly make hundreds of emotional calls and ask for funds - to buy injections or to bear

the cost of operations of poor children. Dr. Radha Shrivatsava, who also got a call from the same group, says, “They told me that a girl was suffering from paralysis, had been admitted at AIMS and required a ‘normosang’ injection, for which they needed just Rs. 5,000. The girl ‘volunteer’ also mentioned that their organisation was affiliated with the UN! When I asked about the consulting doctor, she was clueless.

Stop, Look, Listen

Be Aware

Being a doctor I know that normosang is used for the treatment of Porphyria and it is not given to a patient of paralysis. I cut off the phone and immediately lodged a complaint.” NGOs frauds are a grim reality. There seems to be little awareness about how to detect the credibility of an NGO. There is also little transparency in how NGOs spend their funds. A large number of NGOs don’t possess any utilisation certificate. According to research by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO), of the 3.3 million non-profit organisations in India, only 1 lakh are registered with them. “Many NGOs don’t file their returns. Unfortunately, donors are not aware that NGOs also need to file their returns. That is why these NGOs keep on getting huge amounts of funds and misuse them for their vested interests,” says an official at CSO. Contd on p 8 


22-28 November 2013

RNI No. HARENG/2011/39319 Postal Regn. No. GRG/35/2012-2014, VOL.–3 No.–14  22-28 Novermber 2013


Sr. Correspondents: Abhishek Behl Shilpy Arora

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Rizwan and Muazzam Live @ Lemp Brewpub & Kitchen, DLF Star Mall, NH 8 Date: November 29 Time: 9:00 pm atch the nephews of legendary Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan―Rizwan and Muazzam Ali Khan― perform traditional Qawwali live. The duo's inventive reinterpretations of spiritual love songs, based on classical Islamic and Sufi texts, has won them acclaim world over.


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The views expressed in the opinion pieces and/or the columns are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Friday Gurgaon or Arap Media Ventures Pvt. Ltd.




Drink & Think @ Cocktails & Dreams, Speakeasy, Sector 15, Part II Date: November 22 Time: 7:00 pm t's Trivia time folks! Put on your thinking caps as Master Quizzers Chugh and Chanty (Dr. Sanjay Chugh and Vikram Achanta) challenge you with various topical questions. The challenge lies in you answering after you've downed a few. Up for it?


Saturday Coffee Party @ The Mind Cafe, GL-204, 2nd Floor, Cross Point, DLF Phase IV Date: November 23 Time: 4:00 pm Coffee meet-up that will help develop your networking skills as you share your views and interests with like-minded people. In addition, 2 successful women entrepreneurs will share their business experiences. Also on the agenda are fun games. Entry: Rs. 350


Festival Nightlife

Saturday Night Salsa @ Coopers Grill & Bar, 33 DLF Star Tower, Sector 30 Date: November 23 Time: 8:30 pm njoy Salsa nights with a buzz and foot-tapping music, which will keep you on your toes through the night.


Peace One Day Festival @ Zorba Entertainment , 166, MG Road Date: November 23 Time: 2:00 pm onwards United Nations initiative that aims to institutionalise World Peace Day – a day of global unity and inter-cultural co-operation. Enjoy a musical experience with Midival Punditz, Parikrama, Soul`d Out and many more, as part of this initiative. 


Short+Sweet Festival 2013 @ Epicentre, Apparel House, Sector 44 Date: November 23 & 24 Time: 7:30 pm onwards hort, sweet yet inspiring – that's what these ten-minute plays promise to be! Encouraging new talent and providing a platform for aspiring actors and directors, the Festival offers a gamut of crisp and interesting plays – that range from comedy to romance, thriller and drama. Performers are from Mumbai, Pune, Chennai – and one from Dubai.


Minithon Run

Nightlife Stand Up Comedy

Papa CJ Live @ Soi 7, Unit 205-208, Cyber Hub, DLF, Cyber City, Phase II Date: November 22 Time: 8:00 pm apa CJ performs on a night dedicated to fun, laughter and letting loose.Tickets: Rs. 500


Ladies Night @ Madness, DLF Star Tower, NH8 Date: November 23 Time: 8:00 pm onwards good opportunity for the ladies to plan their night out with gal pals. Party the night away with DJ Uday. The venue will take your insanity seriously!


The 6th Gurgaon Running & Living Marathon and a Half @ Sector 56 Date: November 24 Time: 5:00 am un your personal best time of the year in distances from 5k to 63.3k - it's cold, flat and uncrowded.
Spot registrations at 9am -10am on Nov 23rd at Club Florence. Details at Gurgaonmarathonandahalf/


16th Ryan Minithon @ Tau Devi Lal Stadium Date: November 30 Time: 7.30 am yan International School, Sector-40, is organising a Minithon for the awareness of health issues by simple, practical and inexpensive measures. All schools are invited to participate. Students can register through their respective schools and win attractive cash prizes. Last Date to register: 25th November’13. For further details, Kindly contact: Phone: 9999347507



Megapink-Gurgaon @ Leisure Valley, Sector 29 Date: November 24 Time: 6:00 am n initiative by actor Milind Soman, along with Run With Me, to create Breast Cancer awareness. Race categories are 3kms and 6 kms. For details contact Abhishek Mishra: / 9891026004


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Stress & its Management @ Epicentre, Apparel House, Sector 44 Date: November 29 Time: 7:30 pm 3-part series of discussions on Stress Management. Topics of discussion include the use of Complementary Therapies to cope with Stress & Experiential Hypnotherapy. An interactive session will be held, wherein the audience will be asked to free themselves from the Stress-trap with the help of Self-relaxation techniques. Speaker: Mrs. Simrita Chaudhry

A Workshop


Photography Classes @ DLF City Centre Mall, MG Road Date: November 23 Time: 11:00 am f you want to learn all about photography but don't have much time to spare, this is the class for you. A new one-month session of photography lessons. Every Sat & Sun; 1-am-12 noon. Limited seats. Enrol by calling +91 9810257072


of various schools have been selected. The Event will showcase the finalists' work. Also on offer are – panel discussions, exciting prizes for winners, sand animation artists, a unique paper sculptor and a children's music band.

Theatre Workshop @ Epicentre, Apparel House, Sector 44 Date: Up to December 14 (Saturday,Sunday) Time: 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm or all theatre lovers, here's a chance to learn the nuances of acting, from members of the Barry John Acting Studio – a wonderful opportunity to develop your passion. (For children between 13 and 17 years)

to soulful ghazals sung by Riyaz Jhan, son and disciple of Ustad Niyaz Ahmed Khan, from the Kirana Gharana. He will be accompanied by Karim Niyazi on the harmonium, Aleem Khan on the violin and Rashid Niyazi on the tabla.

Delhi's Artscape


Reincarnation, DNA, Mughal Treasures and 300 years of my life


Aap Ki Farmaish @ Epicentre, Apparel House, Sector 44 Date: November 27 Time: 7:30 pm n evening of ghazals, in memory of Jagjit Singh. Listen


@ ICCR, Azad Bhavan Art Gallery, I.P Estate Date: November 22 (Preview) Up to December 4 Time: 6:45 pm Solo Show of a mix of Artworks by Ravinder Dutt.

A Gallery Collection

@ M.E.C Art Gallery, Middle Lane, Khan Market Date: Up to November 30 Time:11:30 am to 7:30 pm (Sundays closed) display of Artworks by C. Prakash, S.Balu, Debasish Das, Anupam Singh, Narayan Acharya, Ramesh Gorjala, Tapan Dash, Laxman Aelay, Monideep Saha, Ebenezer, Ghanshyam, Atin Basak,Kamal Mitra, Rini Dhumal,Rajib Chowdhury, Lalu Prasad Shaw, Dhiraj Chowdhury, Gogi Saroj Pal, Ravi.K,Tapati Sarkar, B.V. Nalakar, C. Acharya and others.

A World Cinema

Yellow Asphalt (Israeli) @ Epicentre, Apparel House, Sector 44 Date: November 26 Time: 7:30 pm onwards he movie depicts Jahalin Bedouins and their way of life, especially their conflict with Israeli Jews. Directed by: Danny Verete
Duration: 83 mins



Light & Space @ Beanstalk, Galaxy Hotel Shopping & Spa, NH 8, Sector 15, Part II Date: Up to November 30 Time: 11:00 am to 7:00 pm Solo show of paintings by Swaraj Das. Das has been awarded for his Artworks by the 33rd International Juried Exhibition Pennsylvania Watercolor Society's President's Award, in 2012.


Japanese Kites & Tops

@ The Japan Foundation, Lajpat Nagar-4 Date: Up to November 29 Time: 11:00 am to 7:00 pm n Exhibition showcasing the various traditional kites and tops from different Japanese regions. The Exhibition presents more than 80 kites and 50 tops that reflect traditional Japanese culture.


American Beauty @ Epicentre, Apparel House, Sector 44 Date: November 23 & 24 Time: 11:00 am to 7:00 pm n eclectic mix of landscape photography by Abhishek, showcasing slices of life.



Design Fest

Fir & Wheel Design Festival @ Excelsior American School grounds, Sushant Lok, Phase 1 Date: November 30 Time: 11:00 am to 4:00 pm Fire and Wheel Design Festival for children in the age group of 12 -18 years, conducted by Truth Foundation and Magnivow. This Inter-School Competition has come to the final stage, where 75 final entries from 500 + participants



Everlasting Impressions @ Epicentre, Apparel House, Sector 44 Date: November 26 Time: 11:00 am to 7:00 pm solo Art Exhibition of the paintings of R.B. Santosh Kumar. Nature, myriad postures of individuals and varied expressions capture his imagination.



@ Visual Arts Gallery, Lodhi Road Date: November 26 to 30 Time: 10:00 am to 7:00 pm Group Show of Paintings, Acrylic on canvas, Sculptures and Resine by Dr. BirUberai, Anne Gratadour, Nelly Guilmoto, Florence Grasseau-Nysia, Sysif and M Francois Acloque.



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THE WEEK THAT WAS  A Special investigation Team (SIT) of Gurgaon Police, under the ACP (Udyog Vihar) is to investigate the ‘Bogus Votes’ case, wherein Minister Sukhbir Kataria is one of those who has been charged.  Asha Chauhan is the new Zila Parishad Chief.  As an e-governance initiative, the District would soon have over 50 Common Service Centres (CSCs) for delivery of basic services (eg. various certificates) to the public, especially in villages. A youth dies in police custody. A school proprietor is found hanging in his office. A teenage girl is raped in the ‘old’ City. A woman alleges sexual misconduct by her landlord, an ex-army person.  Policemen foil bid to kidnap a businessman’s 5-year-old son.  A property dealer shoots his girlfriend, takes her to a hospital and flees.  A 7th class student goes missing.  A gang of 5 robbers is busted. They were selling the stolen items online on a web portal, OLX.  A policeman is held for taking a bribe of Rs 3000 on a regular basis from a street vendor.  2 are held for blackmailing a senior executive with an obscene MMS    

{ Abhishek Behl/ FG }

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he recent decision of the Central Government to make it mandatory for corporates to spend 2 per cent of their average net profit of the past 3 years on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities dominated the discussion on the first day of the CSR Live Week, a two day forum for companies and NGOs engaged in helping the underprivileged sections of the society through different programmes. Amit Sachdeva, CEO Live Week Business told Friday Gurgaon that the initial hesitation of corporates will go once they come to know the kind of difference they could make in the lives of the underprivileged sections of the country. “Indian corporates are doing great corporate work and many have a long history of philanthropic activities. Those who have not undertaken such initiatives will now be required by law to do so,” he said. In his opinion, Indian NGOs have developed the necessary ability and skill to deliver goods and services to the underprivileged, but there is still a need for more effective oversight of such projects. Speaking at one of the panel discussions, Mohini Daljeet Singh, CEO, Max India Foundation, said that the opportunity to serve the society is a grace and her foundation was using the competence of Max to help spread the healthcare network across the country. “We invite NGOs to participate with us, for organizing free immunization programmes, and to deliver healthcare facilities to the needy wherever they are,” she said. P.N Roy Chowdhary, EHS Head, Adani Group, felt that a CSR programme should occupy an emotional space within the community, rather than just being seen as a goods or service provider. Most of the top corporates

featuring him.  A cheat posing as an SBI staff dupes a person online – for Rs 68,000.  A man who had duped over 50 investors across the NCR is arrested.  A robbers’ gang is busted; they were also planning abductions.  A car is forcibly taken over at gunpoint.  Gurgaon police have started a “Gram Bhraman’ Programme, wherein the local ACP is regularly visiting the villages in his area.  15,000 people are now using the Rapid Metro daily.  City Bus sets up new feeder routes for Rapid Metro, from the City and Delhi (Dwarka). City Bus now offers 28 routes.  Rapid Metro (IL&FS) offers to construct the bus queue shelters in the City for the City Bus service.  2 days State-wide Roadways strike ends.  A B-Schools Street Plan Competition takes place at MDI.  The foundation for the Vigilance Dept office is laid at Sector 47.  Sanitation workers protest on the road.  New water pipelines are laid by HUDA across many sectors of the City (Sectors 4,7,9,10,21,22,23).  An alert has been issued for Swine Flu.  Raahgiri Day is celebrated in a part of the City on Sunday. The public engages in various fun programmes on specific roads. The plan is to celebrate this across the City on every Sunday.

Responsible Business at the Event favoured a participatory approach towards CSR activities, and said that the involvement of the public and their support was necessary for ensuring effective results. Sudarshan Srinivas, Head, Rural Transformation, Reliance Foundation, said that their organization focused on building long term association and collaboration with the community. “We prefer to institutionalise the process, by creating Village Farmer Associations and Producer Companies. These are collectives of small and marginal farmers, which work towards transforming semi-productive or uncultivated land into productive assets,” he said. He also exhibited a movie, describing how a village in MP had been transformed by initiative undertaken by the Reliance Foundation. “We help by introducing technology and knowledge, and providing alternatives,” he added. The panel discussion was moderated by Sushama Oza, CEO, Adani Foundation. Vijay Chadda, CEO, Bharti Foundation informed that they were running 254 schools in different parts of the country, in collaboration with village bodies. Bharti believes that provision of quality education is the fulcrum for enhancing the lives of the underprivileged. With all the teachers in these schools also coming from neighbouring communities, the program also helps in local job creation. “The kids motivate their families to be more hygienic, learn English and be more ecofriendly,” he said. Real Estate major DLF, which has a major presence in Gurgaon, was also present through its CSR arm DLF Foundation. Lt Gen (Retd) Rajinder Singh, CEO, said, “We are helping people to become more employable, by supporting skill development and

nurturing talent through scholarships to needy students,” said Singh. In his opinion, corporates must team up and partner with govt agencies, to deliver programmes for the underprivileged. The DLF Foundation has a goal of setting up 250 skill development centres in the next 10 years, and hopes to skill at least 1 million youth in the country. Dr. Suresh Reddy, Head CSR, CRF Foundation, said, “We follow the ‘cluster approach’ to bring about transformation. Giving details of the Mewat Rural Education Programme (MREP), Reddy that it is run in in partnership with the Department of Elementary Education/Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan of the Government of Haryana, to make a holistic improvement in 28 primary schools and 19 middle schools in the Nuh Block of Mewat District. MREP advocates "Quality Education for All". The Foundation focuses on the curriculum, the teacher-pupil ratio, the effectiveness of the teaching-learning process, the enrolment and retention of students, and the school-parentcommunity relationship. As of now MREP has already touched the lives of 16,000 children and 350 teachers in Mewat. Shiv Shankar Santra, Head CSR, UltraTech Cement Ltd., Aditya Birla Group revealed that his group shared their schools, hospitals and other facilities, which are set up at their plants in the remote areas of the country. “Around 70 per cent of the capacity in these institutions is used by the local communities, which helps in better integration with them,” said Santra. An important point was made by Ranjit Singh, Head CSR, Maruti Suzuki, who said that like the Customer

Satisfaction index (CSI), there was a need to have and measure a CSR Satisfaction Index, which should benchmark the results and quality of work being done. “We need to measure the CSR performance and also know the satisfaction of the community members with whom we are working,” he said, to a strong round of applause. “There is no separate CSR organisation in Maruti, but these activities are built into the DNA of the Company, and we have separate divisions for working with local communities, skill development and road safety training,” he said. Maruti is working very seriously on issues concerning road safety and driver training. Every year thousands of lives are lost on Indian roads because of poor road safety habits, added Singh. Till now Maruti Driving Schools have trained around 1.5 million people, and the Company is opening more such institutes across the country. Paresh Tewary, Chief Sustainability Officer, JSW, speaking on whether corporates should go alone or partner with others while executing the CSR Projects, opined that working with other people was crucial and, to succeed, there is need to develop a collaborative culture. The issue of sharing credit or working with a competitor could be deterrents but there is a need to build a culture of working together for the betterment of society – especially the underprivileged. This needs diligence as well as relationship building skills, added Tewary. The Forum also featured a discussion on Healthcare as part of CSR activity, as well as knowledge interventions and the role of media and technology in spreading the message more effectively. The CSR Live Week helped showcase many sustainable social practices of corporates and NGOs. On this occasion a CSR Goodbook was also released.u

22-28 November 2013

H appenings




he 9th edition of Seagram’s Blenders Pride Fashion Tour in the City saw plenty of glitter, panache and glamour provided by the leading names from the fashion and film industry. The designers featured this season were Falguni & Shane Peacock, Gaviin Miguel, JJ Valaya, Neeta Lulla, Pankaj & Nidhi, Rocky S, Suneet Varma, Tarun Tahiliani, Vikram Phadnis and Wendell Rodricks. Galmour gals Chitrangada Singh, Neha Dhupia, Esha Gupta and Shilpa Shetty were the show-stoppers at the 2-day Show.

Play Safe


abMiller India organised a Nukkad Natak Competition to promote responsible drinking and to create awareness on HIV/AIDS in the City. Participants included theatre teams from Management institutions across the country, who performed 15 minute acts on the theme. The winning team was Lal Bahadur Shastri Institute of Management (LBSIM).

Tee, Your Honour?


he 12th Annual Juris Cup Golf Tournament 2013 was held under the aegis of 'Legal Eagle Golfers Association', at DLF Golf and Resort Club. The Event was a unique spectacle of top legal names from the Apex and High courts battling in a different arena for the coveted title. The mega Event witnessed a large participation of prominent judges and lawyers, from both the Bench and the Bar.

MDI Uninterrupted


fter three days of uninterrupted festivities, the annual Management, Sports and Cultural twin fests of Imperium-Akshayam at MDI came to a grand end. Acclaimed singer Shibani Kashyap,enchanted a rapt audience with her melodious voice. There were events across a diaspora of domains – from Strategy to Marketing to Finance, and from Sports to Cultural. Fests entailed a number of activities like – a T-shirt and Face painting Competition, Green-O-Vision, a comprehensive Case Study Competition based on sustainableand green technology innovations, a simulation of IPL bidding, a play, Brand Charades, Guitar Wars, a string of sporting events, a screening of the iconic film, Andaaz Apna Apna', a music-driven bonfire, a Nukkad Natak, literary events called IndiaSpeaks, a parliamentary debate and the much loved elements of rock and metal music.


22-28 November 2013

Theme for a Dream  Contd from p 1

Deciding a Theme


hether the marriage is planned in a 5-star hotel or in a small garden, it is always exciting to have a Theme Wedding. Wedding Planners generally speak to the bride and groom and their families and build the theme around that. Sukhi and Vikas chose the Peacock Theme for themselves, as both highly appreciate natural beauty. Not just the decor - with peacock feathers but everything from the bride’s make-up, the groom’s pagri and the reception cake was related to the Theme. Interestingly, the waiters were also dressed up as peacocks and the cutlery was ‘in theme’. The venue was decorated with blue and green lights. Artificial feathers of white peacocks were decorated in the dining area. All this made the experience highly unusual, as generally people plan Rajasthani, Punjabi or colour-based themes for weddings. As everything was planned by Sukhi and Vikas, it was both creative and personal. The Wedding Card was also designed in the shape of a peacock. One can go for a rainbow theme, wherein multicoloured tents give the feel of a rainbow; or an Arabian Nights theme, wherein the decor can be done up with bright coloured curtains and belly dancers can be invited for a dance performance. The material required for the decor for a Theme Wedding doesn’t cost much, if sourced from traditional markets such as Sadar Bazaar and Chawri Bazaar in the Capital. Sukhi explains, “It was not that difficult. We visited Chawri Bazaar for cards and decor items. It was surprising to see the latest lasercut cards, and cards prepared in the form of art pieces. They were all available at a nominal cost,” she says. In Chawri Bazaar one can find millions of decor items and wedding cards; including roll-over cards, gold-plated cards and cards made with original dry leaves. While an average Wedding Card costs Rs. 20 to Rs. 50 ‘outside’, the price range for Designer Cards starts from Rs. 15 in Chawri Bazaar. A team member of The Wedding Design Company informs, “It would be interesting to customise your wedding card with the photos of the two families. Chawri Bazaar is the only place that offers many variations to the customers. We prefer to get all cards done from here.” For exotic flowers, the

Wholesale Mandi in CP is the best place. Harshita Nehra, a famous Wedding Planner in the City, says, “Once I was working on an Assamese Wedding. The client wanted to get the decoration done with purple Kopou, as it is considered auspicious in the Assamese tradition. It was really difficult to get it at any shop in Delhi. I asked my team to check out the online stores, but it was not available anywhere. I then visited the Wholesale Flower Mandi in CP, where I found a bunch of them! I immediately placed a bulk order with the supplier.” Most flower shops in the Capital and NCR source their flowers from the wholesale flower market. Even online portals are dependent on the availability of flowers at the CP Wholesale Market. The Mandi is open to retailers on Sundays. These flowers can be used to make multiple variations in the decor. For a bold feel, use yellow Marigolds; for a more subtle and conventional theme, blue and pink Carnations are appropriate; Roses can be hung from the rooftop, with white strings - it is advisable to use pink and white, rather than red roses. For the ceilings, one can go for simple lights and curtains. Hanging temple bells from the rooftop would bring the temple to the wedding.



arshita suggests keeping the food a little light, but an Indian Wedding feels incomplete without ‘royal’ delicacies. A City-based Wedding Food consultant, Pranjal, says, “It is always good to go with a traditional caterer. Make sure you hire someone who can offer authentic taste. No matter what theme you chose for your wedding, food should be traditional and authentic. If it is a Punjabi wedding, Chicken Tikka, Chhole Bhature, Sarson Ka Saag, and Dal Makhani are must-haves. One can of course do variations with the presentation of the food and the plating.” It is advisable to spend ample time with the Head Chef, so that he/she knows about the preference of your guests. Don’t hesitate to ask for a sample of the delicacies before hiring the caterer. As an innovation in serving, you can serve tomato soup in tequila shot glasses, and chaat can be served in icecream glasses. Make sure you hire a professional Food Stylist, who can craft interesting designs out of the kiwis and apples. In a Village-themed

Wedding, a buffet can be arranged in traditional clay pots, while Silver Handis are perfect for a royal wedding. Harshita feels that in India people still don’t give emphasis to cutlery. “The only variation offered is silver cutlery. Designer Cutlery, which is far cheaper than silver dishes, is the way to go. It can give a contemporary look to the whole set-up,” she says. Designer Cutlery is easily available in Amar Colony Market and Karol Bagh. Prabhu Kumar, who runs a crockery shop at Karol Bagh for the last 50 years, informs, “We have 1600 types of dinner sets, 500 types of glass sets, and 300 types of tea sets. We sell more than 100 pieces a day in this season. Be it Hungarian porcelain, or chromium plated dishes, everything is available in our Store.” The price range starts from Rs. 200 per set and goes up to Rs. 6 lakhs per set.



handni Chowk has been the mecca for Wedding Clothes. Once popular for being reasonably priced, today it has shops selling exquisite bridal pieces costing lakhs of rupees. Some famous shops at Chandni Chowk are Tek Chand Arjit Singh and Om Prakash Jawahar Wala. “The market offers a wide variety – with lehengas starting from as low as Rs. 4,000 and going up to Rs. 5 lakhs,” says Shri Suraj Singh, owner of Om Prakash Jawahar Wala. A customised lehenga is a wonderful option. Central Market in Lajpat Nagar and Raigarpura Market in Karol Bagh have all sorts of dresses. “We have been designing Wedding Lehengas for the last 15 years in the City. I have NRI clientele as well. One can get 10 types of fuchsia fabric and 20 types of velvet in the Central Market. Depending on the physique of the bride, we choose the fabric and design the outfit,” says a City-based fashion designer. These markets also offer a wide variety of colours. Gone are the days when brides used to deck up in traditional red lehengas. Today they are going for blue, orange and peach shades. A resident, Nicky Bhargava, who recently got married, says, “I wore a bright blue-coloured lehenga with a magenta chunri, on my Wedding Day. Everybody was surprised when I entered the venue. My costume was in sync with the Topaz Theme of my wedding.”

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The best place to get a wedding outfit stitched is Hauz Khas Village. The Market is home to several boutique outlets. Some of them also offer gold and silver work on lehengas. Those who find it a little expensive can go to Karol Bagh or INA market. For the Reception and Cocktails, brides generally prefer to wear long tail gowns. “Indian brides should go for colourful gowns. For a different look, they can wear floral jewellery and also adorn their hair with flowers and props,” suggests Nikhil Modi, a fashion designer and Wedding Planner based in Nirvana. Wearing Silk Sarees at the Reception is also an option; and to give it a contemporary look, attach a one-metre net to the ‘pallu’! It will give the perfect royal look. Finish the look with a neat bun and a small hair accessory. For the groom, sherwanis are undoubtedly the best attire. Pairing a short sherwani with a dhoti is ‘in’, these days. Be it the formal suit or the ethnic dhoti, kurtas, regal bandhgalas and sherwanis, the grooms have a lot to pick from. Karol Bagh Market is considered the best place to shop, for a groom’s outfit. The latest trend is the Bejewelled Sherwani – a Sherwani embellished with semi-precious stones and embroidered with delicate zardosi work. The price range for groom-wear starts from just Rs. 2,000 and goes up to Rs. 2 lakhs. It is important for the groom to experiment with colours. “Men are now looking beyond the off-whites and gold, and trying out yellows, greens and wine reds. I recently designed a mint-green Sherwani with a fuchsia lining for a groom. A neon or fluorescent green would have made it loud; the mint green with lightweight brocade ensured a simple, clean outfit. The fuchsia on his collars and cuffs went well with the bride’s orange and pink saree,” explains Nikhil. Pagris can be done in several styles. More than 70 types of pagris are available in shops located at Sanchar Gali in Chandni Chowk. A balance of colours between the bride’s and groom’s attire is perfect for the occasion. The couple should also plan to bring some fun and excitement to the ceremony. Guys need to be a little playful with their wedding dress. If a groom wears a suit, he can stick a small note, saying “I Love You” beneath his tie. It is a nice way to make the occasion even more memorable for her.



n India, Jewellery Designs are constantly evolving, to meet

the demands of the modern Indian woman. Today jewellery is designed keeping in mind the comfort, grandeur and style statement that the bride and groom wish to have/make. “We make interesting interchangeable pieces, which the bride can wear as a necklace and the groom can wear as a brooch. There are rings that open up as pendants; and if you attach a chain, they becomes bracelets,” says Kavita Khattar, a renowned Jewellery Designer. While a groom can experiment with a small tie-holder or brooch, there are plenty of options for the brides. Go for waistbands and slant jhoomars, rather than the usual ‘maang tikkas’. Some nose rings come with side-chains and are very popular these days. Although rubies, emeralds and diamond are in fashion, one can opt for affordable imitation jewellery, available at Sadar Bazaar and Chandni Chowk. Surprisingly, the price range for a decent artificial jewellery set – including necklace, earrings, ring, bajuband, paayal, nose ring and maang tikkas – starts from just Rs. 2,000! “For men, a big brooch and a tie-holder are perfect for giving royal look,” feels Nikhil.



raditional foundation-based Make-Up has now been replaced with Air-brushed and Fantasy Make-Up. They last longer and give a flawless look. Moreover, it takes just an hour to do that complete Make-Up. This can also be done for the groom. Kritika, owner of a famous Make-Up Studio in the City, ‘Kritikas’, however suggests that grooms should go for an extremely light makeup, which should just conceal any marks, spots and pigmentation on the face. A natural lip-colour can be applied, depending on the complexion of the groom. “I think that it is important to retain the identity of the person. MakeUp should enhance the features. For the Indian girls, we can take peach and pink and blend in earthy tones. That looks good on everyone. We need to use the right shades for the best enhancement.” Talking about her passion for Eye Make-Up, she says, “Most Indians are really blessed to have beautiful eyes and eye brows. Today dusky skin is ‘in’, in the fashion world. I try and convince Indian brides not to feel conscious of their natural skin tone.” Fantasy Make-Up goes very well with western wear. This Make-Up is used as a jewellery or tattoo, to highlight a beautiful back or any other body part


like the navel or shoulders of the bride. Many grooms, who normally don’t prefer to wear jewellery, are ok with this Make-Up. One can also wear this Make-Up as an accessory on the upper arm or as mehendi at the back of the hands. It is always good to experiment. Use a chic and eye-catching hair accessory. Adorn the hairstyle with fresh flowers - like orchids, peonies, roses, and jasmines. Those who do not prefer flowers, can pick bold and beautiful hair accessories - like crystals and jewelled clips. Traditional mehendi art can be replaced with colourful mehendi tattoos. Nail art can be used instead of just a plain nail colour; use big motifs such as crystals, glitter, stickers, and dry flower petals for bridal Nail Art.



he Band-Baaja rings out the Baraat! Weddings are not complete until the ‘Baraatis’ dance to the tunes of popular filmi songs. Although some Wedding Planners suggest the hiring of pop bands and foreign musicians, people still seem to prefer loud Bollywood music. “No matter how much innovation we offer, not many clients are willing to invite western bands and artists on a Wedding Day,” believes Harshita. Usually, Brass Bands are hired to play at the wedding procession. The most popular Band in the City is Shashi Band, based in Sectors 14 and 50. According to Nikhil, the average spend on a Baraat has gone up 10 times in the last five years. “Earlier people wanted horses, then they asked for fancy horse carriages, and now they want Themed Buggies - and even vintage cars (that too alongside the fancy horse carriage)! We have changed the uniforms of the Band members and the Groom’s Umbrellas are now decorated by professional designers,” he says. He recalls that once he imported kimonos for a Japanese-style wedding in the City. He has also featured pole dancers in a Baraat. The Band stays till the Doli ceremony. Traditionally, the Doli was a kind of wooden carrier, used to carry the bride to the groom’s house. Today this is done in an extremely innovative way; while some people prefer vintage cars that give a royal feel, many wedding planners suggest a Cycle-Rickshaw for the Doli ceremony. It can make the mood lighter and bring a smile to the face of the bride – just as she and her family feel the tears welling up… u


22-28 November 2013

The Black Sheep  Contd from p 1 Voluntary organisations in India have diverse ideological origins. Although organisations like the Ramakrishna Mission and Sarvodaya formed the foundation of the NGO sector in the country, the notion of charity still has its roots in religious beliefs. “Fundraisers know that it is easier to raise money for charity purposes, than for developmental projects. That is why there are many organisations working for the children, healthcare and the elderly, than in the more developmental -oriented areas such as women’s empowerment, human rights and education,” feels a City-based legal expert, Shekhar Kumar. It is therefore important to understand the meaning, role and rules concerning the NGO sector in India. According to the World Bank, an ‘NGO’ is a private organisation that pursues activities to relieve suffering, promote the interests of the poor, protect the environment, provide basic social services or undertake community development. Although the role of an NGO has several ‘definitions’, Shekhar believes that their role should be to encourage people to bring about social change. For example, it should help empower the people to overcome their psychological problems or battle oppression. He believes that the role of an NGO has largely been misinterpreted and this is the cause for both the lack of funds as well as money plundering in the sector. “NGOs are considered as a replacement or a remedy for the services that should be provided by the State. They neither have the resources nor the capacity for that. Most of the NGOs want to replace the work done by State governments. After a few successful attempts they take on huge responsibilities and then fail to deliver. It is also generally noted that many NGOs that do well in the initial years of their formation become corrupt as soon as they start receiving huge funds,” says Shekhar. The rules for the formation of NGOs are also quite old and have not been amended in accordance with the present needs of society and the sector. It therefore becomes easier for people to find a way around the Acts and establish voluntary organisations. According to the law, a non-profit organisation can be established under different acts - like The Bombay Public Charitable Trust Act of

Stop, Look, Listen

Be Aware

How to know if an NGO is genuine? Ask for its registration certificate. Ask the NGO to provide audited statements of income and expenditure for the last three years. This will allow you to check how an NGO is utilising its funds. n Ask for references. Get the contacts numbers of references and call them up to check on the credibility of the NGO. n Ask for an appreciation certificate(s) from any organisation – hospitals, schools, verifying agencies or individuals. n Before making any donations, ask for the income tax certificate 80 G.    n Always make the donation in the name of the organisation and not in the personal name of any trustee or individual. n If the donation is substantial, state the purpose for which the donation is being made, in an email or a stamped letter. n Ask for an official receipt for the amount donated. n Remember, a donor can ask for a written commitment from the organization, stating that the donation will be spent only for the purpose for which it was given. n n

1950, The Societies Registration Act of 1860 and The Companies Act of 1956. Furthermore, NGOs need to put a tab on the amount they spend for promotion of their cause. Dr. Karuna Vashisht, who runs an NGO in the City, says, “Most of the NGOs have hired public relations’ executives, so as to be in the news regularly. They also have large teams of

Given the high disposable incomes with many today, and their lack of ‘social time’, donating to ‘social causes’ seems to give them a feeling of having contributed to the upliftment of the downtrodden. It also helps reduce their ‘guilt’.

professional telecallers and online media experts, who make calls and write posts online, to help raise funds. My question is, why don’t NGOs spend such money for their social causes?” Malpractices by a few NGOs have also made it difficult for the genuine ones to operate. The biggest hurdle is in building confidence among the people that they are genuine. “It is very difficult for me to contribute to an NGO when there are so many fraudsters operating openly in the country,” says Dr. Shrivastava. As a result, NGOs are constantly in search of support in the form of money, material or people. They spend much of their time and energy in reaching out to potential sources of support, rather than working for the cause.

What needs to be done?

Self-accountability: Evolving good organisational practices is the need of the hour. The operations of NGOs

carry a lot of responsibility and accountability. However, the voluntary sector is not supported by an adequate framework and guidelines for various desirable practices. Introducing external fundraising agencies: Experts suggest that intermediary agencies can step in to help raise funds for NGOs. “NGO leaders who are good at doing social work should not have to get into marketing operations. They should hire an external agency for the same,” suggests Abhishek Yadav, from Credibility Alliance, a verifying agency for NGOs. It is easier for a specialist agency to do fundraising on a continuous basis. These agencies are also better equipped to provide the required information in the appropriate form to prospective donors. Encouraging the role of verification agencies: For a donor, the biggest challenge lies in evaluating the work done by an NGO. To provide visibility to NGOs, and to help build trust and accountability in them, a few verifying agencies have come up. Credibility Alliance, Give India, Guidestar India, Charity Z, Samhita and Dasra are some of the organisations that either accredit or profile NGOs. They help people in making an informed decision when they want to make a contribution. These agencies enlist the accreditations possessed by an NGO, after performing a check. Simi-

C ivic/S ocial larly, there are organisations that help review NGOs time to time. Give India has reviewed over 3,000 non-profit organisations in the country. Guidestar India works like Facebook for the NGOs. It helps them in developing their profiles online and allows them to add details and document their work. Verifying agencies also play a big role for NGOs that work in far-off and rural areas. The agencies help make the initiatives of the NGOs more visible to urban people. “Some small voluntary organisations that are based in rural areas are generally deprived of funds, due to lack of visibility. We give them the visibility, so that they get funds from even the corporate sector. Apart from verifying agencies, people should also check for an organisation’s registration documents, audited accounts, annual report, returns filed with statutory authorities and photographs of project work. If it is a genuine organisation, it should be able to show its work in form of pictures, documents and videos. Dr. Shrivastava believes in a more proactive approach, to identify a genuine organisation. She suggests, “A person should visit the NGO and see the work the NGO does first hand. Demanding a detailed feedback report over email is another way to check the credibility of an NGO. Of course, Volunteering is the best option, as it also gets you involved in a cause dear to you.” u

The Gurgaon Environment


n a recent newspaper report it was stated that Gurgaon had the highest per-capita income in India. Citizens of Gurgaon think that they live in New York or Tokyo. I agree there are good high-rise buildings, but what about the surroundings? There is much squalor around. I have lived and worked in Gurgaon for more than a decade. Industries have developed, but in a haphazard manner. Some basics of a modern city, such as proper signboards, are missing. Slums, like those in Mumbai, dot the City; not that good cities around the world do not have slums, but they are not ‘in your face’. Chicago was dotted with shanties, but they were relocated; Rio (Brazil) has developed satellite cities, where people from the lower income groups have been resettled. A few days ago I was travelling past IFFCO Chowk and the traffic lights were not working. There was chaos on the road. The traffic police was not helpful. I was told by a close acquaintance that he had been unnecessarily stopped by the traffic police, which had caused a huge pile-up at a busy intersection. Most roads are in a mess. There are potholes everywhere. This makes one spend more on car maintenance…and even on doctors! This also affects the mindset of people, leading to road rage. Walking alongside the roads is not only a luxury….it is not possible. The electricity situation could be further ‘improved’, by the authorities notifying the timings of power cuts. The rate of investment growth in Gurgaon is good, at 22% but this could be improved if civic lapses are corrected. Prof Pratap Lahiri

S ocial

22-28 November 2013

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ohna Road, which has emerged as the new commercial and residential hub of Gurgaon, is also becoming the new Retail destination, with the opening of large hypermarkets that hitherto were confined to the MG Road Mall-mile. Big Bazaar, Easy Day and more recently More, have made their strong presence felt, by setting up largeformat hypermarkets, which offer something to everyone. The general impression these days is that products here are cheaper, are of better quality, and the variety is great. The presence of a large number of busy professionals in the City, who are exposed to such formats, is also giving a definite boost to these stores. A majority of customers at these shops observed that no doubt the large array of products here was a major attraction, but their loyalty would ultimately be decided by the price and the value on offer. Pratima Sen, a housewife and regular visitor to Easy Day, who had come to buy staples, says that what attracts her to this store is better prices compared to the neighbourhood departmental store. “I buy loose sugar here at Rs. 32 per kg, and tea at Rs. 260 for a kg, which is competitive even with a kirana store. We are also able to buy items for less than the MRP, whereas the local shopkeepers never give a discount,” says Sen. In her opinion, the comfort of shopping in a secure place, where parking is available, is also a major plus point. Rajiv Sethi, another customer, opines that what attracts him are the valuefor-money deals. “We are assured about the quality of even loose stuff like sugar, dals and rice,” he says. Even on a Monday afternoon, there are a large number of families as well as middleaged women with kids walking through the aisles of Easy Day. It's well-stocked shelves offer all kinds of stuff to the consumers, who are enjoying the walk through a large store, picking whatever attracts their fancy. EasyDay at this time of day clearly had more shoppers than Big Bazaar and More. A person coming to EasyDay has to pay for the parking, and it is a big hassle as the Store is located on a busy stretch surrounded by offices and malls. The Easy Day chain is run by Bharti, which had earlier formed a joint venture with Walmart. Sonia Vaid, who is pursuing an MBA at MDI Gurgaon, feels that despite hypermarkets opening in Gurgaon, not much headaway has been made in this sector and these are run like large shops

Big, More, Easy Retail prakhar PANDEY

{ Abhishek Behl/ FG }

only. There has not been much change in the procurement as well as transportation of their goods. “Hypermarkets abroad are based on the concept of purchasing cheap directly from the manufacturers, and then passing on the benefit to the consumers. This is not happening here, and the majority of the hypermarkets are just tweaking prices, and just offering a large number of products under a single roof,” says Vaid. In her opinion, there is need to improve the supply chain and procure directly from the manufacturers – bypassing the middlemen. Retailers need to create brands that offer value for money – not by offering average quality, but by scaling up and enjoying economies of scale. The three hypermarkets on Sohna Road stock almost the same products and brands, and have the same format of selling. They also have to deal with expensive real estate, poor infrastructure, and a rickety power supply, while pursuing elusive profits. All this creates pressure on their margins, but the biggest challenge comes from the small kirana stores that dot the lanes and bylanes of Sohna Road and the urbanised villages around it. The Big Bazaar opened last year on this Road, and has a large store that offers dry fruits, clothes, milk, vegetables and all forms of merchandise for home makers. Gurgaon is a 'weekend city', with the majority of officer-goers in IT and IT enabled companies as well as executives working in corporates, finding time mostly on weekends for their shopping. Ranjita Beniwal lives in Sector 47 and visits both Big Bazaar and Easy Day, depending upon what kind of stuff she wants to buy on a given day. In her opinion, Big Bazaar has more space and more variety of products are on offer, and it also offers some high-priced goods. “I think price in India is still the basic denominator of quality, and the era of buying in bulk at lower prices, as happens in the US is still to find favour here. The hypermarkets here are nothing more than grand versions of the Kirana stores, and discounts

Comparison of the Food Basket: A comparison of a package of grocery items from these stores and a retailer in 'old' Gurgaon shows that buying food from these hypermarkets is relatively cheaper. A group of items comprising 5 kg rice, 10 kg flour, 2 kg chana dal, 2 kg toor dal, 2 kg moong dal, 2 kg kabuli chana, 2 litres of Mustard oil, 2 litres of refined oil, 2 kg ghee, 4 kg washing powder, 2 litres of phenyl and 1 kg of tea cost between Rs. 2,400 to Rs. 2,750. The products chosen were basically non-branded, sold loosely. Among the four, Easy Day turned out to be the cheapest, at around Rs. 2,450 for the package, More was a bit expensive at around Rs. 2,500. Big Bazaar is at the premium end, selling these at around Rs. 2,650. However, shopping at the individual retailer was the most expensive, and this package cost around Rs. 2,750 – clearly showing that buying at these hypermarkets is a cheaper option for the consumers in Gurgaon. However, shopping at a hypermarket also entails cost of transport and parking, and even leads to some impulsive buying which could add to the final bill. are only offered during sales campaigns,” opines Beniwal. A kilogram of Moong and Urad Dal cost Rs. 91 and Rs. 74 respectively in this Store, whereas the same dals cost Rs. 77 and Rs. 57 respectively at the Easy Day store. While Easy Day is the cheapest of the lot, Big Baazar is dearest for grocery items. The hypermarkets on Sohna Road are definitely changing the shopping behaviour of the people living around them. A shopkeeper near the Omaxe Mall agrees that sales volume has declined after the arrival of these Malls. With

the opening of More, even his loyal customers have shifted base. Bunty Yadav, who has been running a provision store for the last couple of years, says that if customers think that big stores would sell cheap then they are mistaken. “What the big retailers do is keep some items cheap, and cross subsidize the same with other products. The majority of wholesalers are the same, and these stores buy at the same rates as us,” says Yadav. He further says that these stores will not be able to offer the benefit of cheap credit, home delivery, and customized sales, which are offered by people like him. No hypermarket can cater economically to the daily perishable items demanded by a large population he says, pointing to the huge population of lower middle class families. The general trend is that large hyper stores such as those on Sohna Road are going to redefine the future of Retail. The average billing per customer in a large hypermarket is almost five times that of a small shop. A difference from the Western markets, where this concept originated, is that such stores there are outside the city or urban areas, while in India these stores are within city limits – and some even within walking distances, as on Sohna Road. That large stores are in vogue is indicated by the presence of a large number of customers in the basement of Orchid Business Park, where the Aditya Birla Group promoted More store is located. As a perk, More offiers free parking to customers, whereas it is on a paid basis in Big Bazaar and Easy Day. A Big Bazaar customer, however, can redeem the parking fees by spending a fixed amount at the live kitchen. Anup Singh, a resident of Sohna, has stopped by to pick some stuff for his grandchildren at More. He is impressed by the free parking, but the ramp that he has to trudge to reach the Store is a difficult part of the journey for this 60-year-old. “The access should be easier for people like me, and kids also come here. I am planning to buy a heater and some clothes for the kids, provided I get the brands


they like,” he says. The branded part could be a bit tricky, as hypermarkets like More prefer to sell self-created brands, with the promise of 'similar' quality at a lower price. While this factor could convert some customers, loyalists like Singh, who swear by certain brands, are hard to crack. After walking through the entire Mall, Singh buys only a couple of bakery items, as his favourite brands are not listed. He however appreciates the large variety of goods and the good prices and value deals being offered by the More hypermarket. He particularly likes the bakery, which is selling pastries and breads at a fair price. Being a new store, a large number of window shoppers could also be seen on a Tuesday evening, walking through the Store, having a look at the goods and making a mental note of what to buy. One good thing about More is that they seem prompt in exchanging defective products and also assure that no questions would be asked. A customer who had brought a torn pair of shoes that he had bought just two days before was handed back a value card, although the store officials were taken a little aback by the development. “The social media and online departments however need to respond faster,” the customer says. But he is happy that at least the defective shoes have been taken back. The More hypermarket is marketing itself aggressively, with large advertisements and insertions carrying product lists and prices. Amarjit Singh, who lives in 'old' Gurgaon, came to shop at More after reading about it in newspaper advertisements. Another ace in the sleeve of stores like More is the Loyalty Card, which enables customers to get points for every purchase that they make. Store officials say that these cards have played a very important role in ensuring repeat customers. Singh, who works in a BPO, says that it is easier to shop for their entire family in a hypermarket, as it is secure and offers good prices. “While Sadar Bazar may offer a better depth of products and local brands, I like to shop here because of the large number of products and the availability of everything needed by a family,” he says. No doubt the times are changing, and it is customers like him— who are short on time but not on money—who are being sought after by big retailers on upcoming destinations like Sohna Road – which has transformed from being a rural cousin to a formidable rival to MG Road. u

10 The Love of the Wild

22-28 November 2013

{ Shilpy Arora }

write to us at


asheed belongs to the poor Kalandar community in Bhanwadi village. He lives with his parents and six siblings. Nasheed’s father used to perform on the street with a sloth bear. He never earned enough to send his children to school. But, after he surrendered his bear to Wildlife SOS, he has been given a better source of employment. Thanks to this support, Nasheed has become the first one in his family to attend school. “For hundreds of years the sloth bear has been exploited. We wanted to stop the use of these bears as entertainers on the streets. We understood that in order to accomplish this that we needed to have a holistic approach - something that could address the poverty of the Kalandar community while also ensuring the conservation of the sloth bears in the wild. We decided to provide jobs to the Kalandar community, at the rescue centers for bears. Some of them have also been provided an alternative livelihood,” informs Kartik, one of the founders of Wildlife SOS. Malnourished bears rescued from the Kalandar community are taken to the rescue centres of Wildlife SOS. The bears are provided their natural habitat and dens, where they can form close bonds with other wildlife. The effort of Wildlife SOS has helped in improving the reproduction rate among the bears. Established in 1995 by a group of wildlife enthusiasts, Wildlife SOS turned into a movement to protect and conserve wildlife. The Organisation is also actively evolved in conserving wildlife habitats, studying biodiversity, conducting research, conserving the environment and creating alternative and sustainable livelihoods for poacher communities. “India’s wildlife is under severe threat. Every animal, from the majestic elephant and tiger, to the shy sloth bear and rare pangolin, is domesticated and poached in our country. As time was running out for these creatures, we formed Wildlife SOS and decided to work at the grass root level, to help these poor creatures,” says Kartik. Although Wildlife SOS is widely known for its project for the ‘dancing bears’, it is also actively involved in projects to save leopards, elephants and reptiles.  To deliver more efficiently, the Organisation has worked

wildlife and related products. The team works closely with the forest department and police in various states across the country. It gathers intelligence about wildlife crime with the help of local communities, who are generally aware about such crimes. The Organisation receives complaints and information from all over India. “To out ‘co-operative’ agreements with state governments and forest departments in more than nine states.

Reptile Rescue Centre in Gurgaon

Wildlife SOS runs the Country’s only 24-hour Reptile Rescue Cell in the City. The City’s Police Control Room diverts all wildlife rescue calls to the headquarters of Wildlife SOS in the Capital. “On an average we get over 300 calls a month just for reptile rescue, as many species of reptile are found in this region,” says Geetanjali, a volunteer. The rescue team of Wildlife SOS is equipped with snake hooks and boxes, to ensure that reptiles are rescued in a professional manner. Besides, the team makes sure that the rescue operations cause minimal stress to the reptiles. Once rescued, the reptiles are taken to the Reptile Rescue Centre in the City. If the rescued reptiles are found to be injured or sick, they are provided with proper veterinary treatment. Wildlife SOS later makes arrangements and takes permissions from the concerned authorities to release the reptiles into a habitat that is well-suited to them.

Wildlife Crime

Wildlife crime is also prevalent. Many times the animals, as well as products made from their bones and skin, are smuggled from the City. A Special Task Force of Wildlife SOS, ‘Forest Watch’, works to keep a check on the smuggling of

check wildlife crime, we often depend on the common man, who feels strongly about the protection of wildlife and the environment,” says a volunteer. ‘Forest Watch’ has rescued hundreds of live animals and recovered truckloads of animal skins and ivory from traders.

Sensitizing Children

Sensitizing children towards wildlife protection is crucial. Human care and understanding is extremely important, if we are to save wild animals and protect their habitat. Keeping this in mind, Wildlife SOS emphasizes that children must be educated on Conservation.

C ivic/S ocial The Organisation works in both the rural and urban areas to educate children about their surrounding environment, and animals in particular. “We make small demonstrations about what children can do to help the environment. Sometimes we also involve their parents and tell them about techniques that would help avoid humanwildlife conflicts. For example, when people feel anxious about snakes and wild cats, they generally look for ways to kill them. We make them understand that killing is not the solution. We provide them with our helpline numbers, so that they can call us and let us handle the situation in a more humane and professional manner,” says Geetanjali. Weekend Workshops at the Reptile Rescue Centre are also organised for children. Wildlife SOS is passionately making every effort to protect the precious wildlife in the country. The Organisation appeals to all the citizens to be more sensitive towards Mother Nature and help preserve the environment and wildlife, for the benefit of their future generations.u

Corrigendum In our Issue no. 6, Volume 3 of 27 Sep to 3 Oct 2013, we had carried an article on the issues faced by residents of Nirvana Country, including the alleged (as per the RWA) unplanned and ‘not as per norms’ construction of a large number of schools in the area – and to the detriment of other civic and social amenities. A particular school, Bella Mante, had also been mentioned. We have since received confirmation from Plassey Developers Pvt Ltd (owners of Bella Mante) that they had obtained requisite permissions. We acknowledge this. However, the broader issue and thrust of the story, as well as allegations about the height of a school building or other alleged violations of building norms (like use of potable water during construction), still remain open items. Representations have also been made to the Administration, by the RWA

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C ivic/S ocial

22-28 November 2013

A Stately School

{ Shilpy Arora }

write to us at Those who educate children well are more to be honoured than they who produce them; for these only gave them life, those the art of living well.” – Aristotle.


o believes Principal of Government Girls Senior Secondary School (GGSSS), Jacobpura, Sheel Kumari. “We all remember some of our teachers, but only a few can we call “great” teachers. Sheel ma’am is one of them, as she always lent a sympathetic ear to students and took time to befriend the children,” smiles Rasheeda, an alumni of the School. Honoured by the Haryana government last year, Sheel Kumari has made an incredible impact on the development and overall functioning of the School. Apart from improving the necessary facilities, there was also a need to improve the teaching methodologies. “People usually point out infrastructural issues in government schools. I feel that a school should first have the right teaching methodology, to maintain a standard of education in the school. The assumption that only proper infrastructure will help the children is not the right approach. The quality of education should first be above par,” feels Sheel Kumari. To bring down the drop-out rate in the School, Ms Kumari introduced ‘inclusive teaching and learning’, to enhance the effectiveness of school education at the primary level. Keeping in mind that children in government schools come from a different socio-economic and cultural profile, she focused on bringing the students into the centre of the learning, with the teacher acting as a facilitator. Interestingly, the child-centric approach not only transformed the teachers’ attitudes, but also facilitated inclusive learning in a government school. A 20% increase was recorded in classroom attendance. It also

helped students to achieve better academic results. “It is noticed that children who excel in subjects such as mathematics and science generally get the teachers’ attention. No one creates multiple groups of children on the basis of their talent and intelligence level. We introduced this system and noticed that it encouraged children to learn better,

A good teacher teaches; an excellent teacher demonstrates; an outstanding teacher motivates.

especially in government schools, as many students come from far-off places and they generally don’t have any mode of transport. I think that staff members and teachers should have continuous dialogue with the children, to find out if they are facing any issues. Violence keeps many girls out of schools; this is a major cause of drop-outs in girls’ schools. We therefore lay special emphasis on this issue,” says Sheel Kumari. She feels that recruiting and retaining female teachers can help in curbing crime against girl students. “Female teachers can reduce some of the major risks that adolescent girls face in a school. They can also serve as strong role models and even help girls plan appropriate careers. The benefits of educating girls are undeniable. But until we ensure that schools

their textbooks in school, but beyond that their knowledge of English is extremely weak. They always speak Hindi in the School. Even after completing the fifth standard, most of them can’t manage to speak even a sentence of English. That is why the School planned some special English-speaking classes,” says a teacher. The School started with students who scored above average marks in English. It then encouraged all the students to speak in English. A special training programme was provided to the teachers also.

Focus on English-speaking

Apart from creating an awareness among the students about women’s security, strict instructions have been issued to the School staff to check any unpleasant incident in and around the School. “We need to give a serious thought to the safety of girl students,

Sixteen-year-old Mehek and 13-year-old Noori do not watch television when they get back home. They instead take up special English-speaking lessons. “These children are taught the basics of English Grammar in

Security of girls is priority

are safe, girls will continue to be held back,” she says. A good teacher teaches; an excellent teacher demonstrates; an outstanding teacher motivates. Teachers like Sheel Kumari manifest that great educators are not the product of big international schools only. To become a teacher, a person needs more than a degree or recognition from a statutory body. A teacher must possess knowledge, compassion, patience and determination, to shape young minds and build the future of the nation. Talking about one of her teachers, who has been her inspiration, Kumari says, “If you want to become a teacher, see how you have fared as compared to the great teacher who taught you and made a difference in your life. See then if you too can make, or have made, a difference!”u

Topic Of The Week I

and also helped them in the mutual sharing of knowledge.” She has also introduced an activity-based learning environment, with simple games and activities, which hardly involve any expense. The major challenge was to get the teachers to conduct their classes away from the ‘classroom stereotypes’. “Be it a child studying in a posh school or a child who comes from a slum, they should find studies interesting; we have to make them want to learn better during their formative years,” explains Ms Kumari.


t is not very uncommon to find one or two new political parties getting borne or formed before election time, specially before the assembly elections. Generally such parties are a break away or rebel group out of bigger parties from which the disgruntled elements opt out to show their weight or displeasure with the party bosses. Aam Aadmi Party is different. Firstly it is formed by the people who did not want to enter politics and who were dared to fight an election and win, if they wanted to be heard in a democracy. Secondly, the Party has been formed entirely prompted by popular public support. It was borne out of strong public angst against the corrupt political system. Very few people join politics with corruption on their mind. It gets into their system once they become a part of it. The expectations from Aam Aadmi Party are different and to live upto those expectations may become one of the biggest challenges of the Party. The credentials of Aam Aadmi Party to govern a state will be suspect for some time to come. None of the prominent members have the experience of running a government. Nor are they perhaps used to the finer prints of the rules of business. They have only seen how the popular public support and sentiments can sometimes suppress the actual rules of business. They are also not closely aware that many of the laws and rules have their origin from the colonial rule as also from the initial Indian statutes, which are the outcomes of our Constitution, which is not always kind to the present thinking of the masses. To make any radical changes in the various systems as proclaimed by them, it would require change of laws and even amendments in the Constitution. Both of these are beyond the scope of the regional party status they have acquired so far. So the tall promises they are making are actually a distant dream. It is not impossible if they continue to forge ahead as they seem to be doing now. But to give a date and timeline for big promises will be a little premature if not entirely impractical. A lot depends on AAP's maiden performance at the hustings. If they do not make a noticeable mark, they will have to think many times before venturing into the national arena. In conclusion, the AAP is a party of inexperienced but honest citizens who want to desperately bring about a change in the Nation's polity. They rightly deserve the current support they are receiving.   They are new to the ways of the political world in India.  They tend to be over enthusiastic in their utterances, which time and again put them in a bind. It’s a gentlemanly group venturing into a crooked world of Indian politics. If they succeed and are able to change the ways of Indian politicians, they would go a long way. If they do not succeed, well its end of the road for them!! Ashok Lal 301A, Hamilton Court, DLF PHASE IV, Gurgaon. 122009, Mo: +919873248847


K id C orner

22-28 November 2013

Artistic Strokes

Kids Brainticklers

Vaishali Malik, Class XI, Lion Public School

Jarun Singla, Class X, D.A.V Public School

The Holidays are over... but your creativity isn’t. For children – write a poem, an article, a fictional story or even a real life experience. See it published in Friday Gurgaon – make your teachers and parents proud! For teachers/administrators/coordinators – here’s a chance to pen down your experiences, teachings and learnings. Send us your contributions (300-350 words).

Paintings stories poems

For information, Call us at 0124-4219092/93 Or email at

Nitin Kumar, Class XI, Starex International School

Ishita Yadav, Class V, Manav Rachna Inter. School

22-28 November 2013

K id C orner


Ryan International School, Sohna Road’s motto on Children’s Day was, “Every child is a radiant possibility”. The teachers exhibited remarkable enthusiasm in depicting the dreams and aspirations of each child through a Special Assembly. An ‘Examination Scare’ mime by the senior teachers enthralled the audience. A musical medley was performed; this was followed by Derek ‘O’ Brien’s Bournvita Quiz. The teachers of the Primary and Montessori Wings presented a Dance Drama that showcased their theatrical skills. The Principal, Dr. Mouna Gupta, conveyed her greetings to the students

A few shining stars of American Public School celebrated ‘Bal Divas’ with the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Accompanied by their Principal, Dr. Ashok Kumar, the 8 students were excited to visit the Rashtrapati Bhavan. The President’s arrival was marked by instrumental music in the background and he was presented with many bouquets. The AMPS children claimed this was the best Children’s Day gift they could receive.

Ryan Global School celebrated Children’s Day with a lot of fun-filled activities for the kids. Plays, a puppet show and dances were performed by the teachers. The Headmistress, Vandana Sharma, encouraged the children to follow the ideals of Pt. Jawahalal Nehru and become good citizens. Blue Bells Preparatory School celebrated Children’s Day in a special way. Tributes were paid to the architect of India, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, with a talk by the students of Class I, accompanied by a beautiful power point presentation on Pt. Nehru’s life. The teachers entertained the children with a scintillating dance performance followed by a skit depicting a classroom scene.

The Genesis Foundation organised a fun-filled picnic at the Leisure Valley Park, to mark the occasion of Children’s Day. About 100 children from NGOs and orphanages associated with the Foundation were present. Some children who have had successful surgeries and have been supported by Genesis Foundation were also there. There were plenty of games, a Drawing Competition, refreshments and gifts. The older kids were seen enjoying a football game, while races were organised for the younger ones. There was also a live performance by Pragnya Wakhlu, an award winning singer and song writer. The kids had a super time dancing and singing along with Pragnya to popular Bollywood numbers.

On the occasion of Children’s Day, the leading hygiene product ‘Dettol Company’, along with Surat Nagar Slum Welfare Society, organised a ‘Healthy Handwash Workshop’ for children at the Stellar Children’s Museum. More than 100 underprivileged children participated in the Workshop, to learn the benefits of, and steps for maintaining, hand-hygiene – to protect themselves from germs and bacteria that cause infections. The Workshop was followed by a Drawing Competition where the participants enthusiastically created their rendition of health and hygiene – to lead a healthier and happier life.


K id C orner

22-28 November 2013

Of Gurus and Shishyas


urugram Public School celebrated its Annual Day Function at Airforce Auditorium, Subroto Park. The Chief Guest for the Event was Stuti Kacker, IAS, Secretary, Department Of Disability Affairs, Ministry Of Social Justice & Empowerment.The Guest of Honour was Dr. Manoj Kaushik, District Education Officer, Gurgaon. The stage witnessed the showcasing of talents of the youngbuds of the School.The children performed on the traditional music of various Indian states. The Chamber Orchestra and a Bhangra performance were enjoyed the most. Motivating and inspiring speeches were delivered by the Managing Trustee, Padamshree R.S. Lugani and by Member, Managing Committee, Nutan Lugani. School Principal, Dr. Vibha Madaan, highlighted and applauded the achievements of the School.

Chhoti Asha, Iraade Bade


n event, ‘Chhoti Si Asha’ was organised by Gurgaon Moms and the NGO, WESS, at Medhaam School. This Event aimed at identifying talented kids from Prachyeshta, Ecolib Foundation and Rashtrahith Vidyalaya – schools for underprivileged children.Through this cultural meet, an attempt was made to expose those children to better opportunities.

Young Crusader

Ryan Global School


Manav Rachna International School,Sector 46

Ryan Gems


welve Students and four Teachers of the School were appreciated for their efforts with the “Avantika Gems Awards”. Dr. Anand Aggarwal, National Director, Avantika, graced the occasion and presented the Awards along with the Headmistress. The Awards were given to students who had given an outstanding performance in the fields of discipline, dance and music. Four teachers from the School were also appreciated for their contribution in the fields of music, art and dramatics. School Headmistress, Vandana Sharma, motivated the students to win many more such accolades in future. Ryan International School, Sector 40

Tikkling Adventure


n Adventure Camp was organised for the kids at Camp Tikkling. Ryanites got an opportunity to perform adventure activities like Climbing Wall, Commando Crawl, Crocodile Pit and Burma Bridge. They learnt new skills with the help of professional instructors. The day was planned with many exciting and fun-filled activities – like Commando Net, Magic Maze, Camel Cart Ride, Pottery, Flying Fox, Rock Climbing and Gorilla Cave. The teachers helped the students follow the right path and supported them throughout the journey. A session of music and dance finished the day on a happy note.

maad Muzaffer addressed senior colleagues from the education jurisdictions of Australia, Brazil, Canada, Finland, New Zealand, South Africa, South Korea, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and India, at The Global Education Leadership Program (GELP), held in New Delhi.  CBSE had collaborated with the Innovation Unit London and the Asia Education Foundation to host GELP in India. In his address, Emaad said, “Implementation of modern education in India is a cornerstone around which the personality and a character of a student is built.” Talking about his international exposure, Emaad said, “The whole idea and concept of talking about my journey as a student is about how this modern system of education, which includes attitudes and values, leadership and life skills, has led a student to explore and conquer the world.”

Papas Play


he School organised a Basketball match for the fathers of the little Ryanites. The enthusiastic fathers participated with full energy and gave their best to make their team win. School Head, Peeya Sharma, expressed her gratitude to the contestants for their enthusiastic participation. The deserving winners were duly felicitated.

Manav Gurpurab


Special Assembly on Guru Nanak Jayanti was held by Grade IV Arctic and Grade V Tagore. The Assembly began with a prayer followed by Japji Sahib Path, Shabad and Sakhis by the students, who were dressed as Panj Piyaras – adorning the orange turban. Gurpurab celebrations also included Nagar Kirtan and a Langar.

S piritual

22-28 November 2013

{ Dr. Rajesh Bhola }


hen we start believing that all our assumptions are true, we stop seeing the real truth. Some of our assumptions may be sheer lies. In fact we ‘knowingly’ believe some lies to be the truth. Many of our assumptions have outlived their utility but we still keep clinging to them. We need to introspect and begin challenging our assumptions. Our assumptions are the windows to the world; scrubbing them off at intervals will enable the light to come in. During our early childhood and adolescence we began making ‘agreements’. Our parents reward us when we do what they want and they punish us when we do not. We also learn behaviours and habits in school from other children and adults. The impact of others’ opinions and reactions to us become a very strong force in the habits we create. In this process we create agreements in our mind, of who we should be. Over time we learn to live our life based on these agreements. Out of years of habit, we do not pay attention to how we express our own self. The responses that come out of our mouth are often automatic. We do not consciously choose our words, or the emotion, tone and attitude that we express. These beliefs then stimulate our thought processes, and lead us to make various assumptions. We even make the assumption that whatever we think is true. We imagine and assume what others think of us and how they will react. We also assume that the judgments and self-criticisms we have made are true. We have learned to make so many assumptions that we are not aware of them all. These assumptions, and the faith we express in them, show one way in which we are not impeccable with our word. One of those assumptions relates to how we develop

The BodySoul Twins

Challenging Assumptions our faith. The faith arena is a marketplace from which we get ideas, beliefs, relationships, habits, rituals and traditions that make immediate sense to us, and with which we feel comfortable. The notion of associating with a particular faith, whether it is any religion or some other strain, still has appeal because that connection provides a discernible identity and facilitates the possibility of belonging to something meaningful. But the truth we choose to belong to is driven by our needs and perceptions. In a culture where people are busy, distracted, confused and trying to keep it all together, there is less loyalty to a faith brand than to self; it is more of an existential living, with focus on the self. The emotional, cognitive and spiritual suffering of human beings cannot be completely separated from all other kinds of suffering - such as from harmful natural, ecological, political, economic and social conditions. They interact with and influence each other. They also suffer when they are not able to experience and grasp any meaning of life, even if such suffering is not quite as obvious. Suffering from the lack of sense of the meaning of life is a special form of emotional, cognitive and spiritual suffering. Although all human beings share the same basic need for some meaning to their life, the fulfillment of this need is highly individualized and personal. Although all forms of human suffering can be a challenge to the meaning of life, the personal conditions of suffering are usually a stronger challenge. They can only be accepted and coped with as existential aspects of the human condition – like death, suffering, struggling, guilt and failing. The challenge for human beings is to cope with these in a

way that moves from merely being, to truly existing. We also need to change the basic assumption that a serious commitment to religion means ascribing to religious chores; it should rather mean and manifest itself in social activism aimed at the needs of the poor and the oppressed. This should involve a commitment to end universal poverty, hunger, homelessness, inadequate education and inadequate health care. This commitment should maximize love and caring, ethical behaviour, ecological sensitivity, kindness, generosity and peace. It should enhance our capacities to respond to other human beings in a way that honours them as embodiments of the ‘oneness’, and to respond to the earth and the universe with awe, wonder and radical amazement. We need not ascribe to any religion for being spiritual. Spiritual beings do not place value on accumulation (having, getting) or security. They do not laud power and privilege, nor do they carry any assumption that the goal is the pursuit of pleasures. If we think of spirituality in the worldly way, we simply bring the sublime down to the level of the mundane. What is required is the reverse: to raise everything mundane to the level of the sublime. Our commitment should incorporate the spiritual dimension, of which the loving, spiritually elevating and connecting aspects of religion are one expression.

We need to challenge the extreme individualism that permeates all parts of the modern social behaviour. With a change in our assumptions, our life too can dramatically change. In the beginning these new habits will be challenging, but with practice they become integrated into our being and every area of our life. Nothing that others do is because of us. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When we are immune to the opinions and actions of others, we will not be the victims of needless suffering. We need to find the courage to ask questions and to express what we really want; we need to speak with integrity and use the power of our word in the direction of truth and love. We should clearly communicate with others, to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. Simply doing our best helps us in avoiding selfjudgment, self-abuse, and regret. When doing away with old assumptions, our eyes are opened to a new possibility of living life. With openness, we get to see the potential for happiness, love and respect, with our relationships and ourselves. Through this process we also learn to take things personally. We assume that when someone has an opinion about us, that opinion is valid. Their opinion becomes our belief about our self.  We can also take personally our own opinions and selfjudgments - which are nothing more than assumptions. When we do decide to change our life, we are challenging the beliefs we learned and the habits we have practiced since your childhood. This creates a conflict in the mind, between expressing ourselves impeccably with love and our existing fearbased belief system. The mind completely ignores that there

are already existing agreements and habits. In the beginning the myriad voices in our head are likely to use our newfound awareness as material for selfjudgment. We may stumble, but will improve over time as we practice.   Just like walking, learning a language or playing a sport, we cannot play at the top level on our first day of learning. What really happens is that we get an awakening. We wake up to how our mind makes assumptions, has emotional reactions and is so quick to make self-judgments. These realizations about the belief system in our mind are not usually pleasant, but are a part of an awakening. It is usually an uncomfortable realization, but through it our awareness grows. We start gaining more control over our agreements. This is spiritual, because it is about living our life. We are challenging the old fear-based beliefs in our mind. It will take some time to break free of fear, the tyranny of the inner judge and old emotional habits. There may be some battles lost along the way, but that is a minor cost on our journey to create happiness in our lives. Feeling freed from the boundaries established by different religious faiths, and immersed in a postmodern society that revels in participation, personal expression, satisfying relationships and authentic experiences, we become our own unchallenged spiritual authorities - defining truth and reality as we see fit. We then begin to live life with unconditional love, gratitude and respect, for ourselves and for others. u Dr. Rajesh Bhola is President of Spastic Society of Gurgaon and is working for the cause of children with autism, cerebral palsy, mental retardation and multiple disabilities for more than 25 years. He can be contacted at

Body and Soul are twins, brother

This wonderful enigma, this beautiful Soul

How can one live without the other?

Can be well seen reflected in the eyes

If the Body is not well the Soul feels low

And emotions of its twin, the Body.

When the Soul is jubilant the Body will glow

Logic, reason or debate

The Soul is invisible without the Body as its host

Is too limited to define the Divine

They both live happily united in Yog.

The Buddha, Nanak, Kabir, The Christ

Some do meditations, deep contemplations

They all experienced their illuminations

To understand this concept

Thousand words cannot describe

Some indulge in the mazes of philosophical terrains

The Soul, the energy, is an experience unique

Go insane, trying to understand

In our own way our God we must seek.

The biology or chemistry of the intangible. You can never really define the energy form The sages have spoken no end of the brilliant non-form


Shobha Lidder Writer Journalist, Teacher Trainer, Social Activist, Reiki Master, Pranic Healer


22-28 November 2013

C omment

Lage Raho Arvind Bhai


It’s AAP time again. they may not succeed; it is time to accept that they can. The Big 2 must be thanking their stars for at least a breather. The juggernaut of the AAP seems to have been The Aam Aadmi Party is courageously fielding held up for a moment by Anna. What irony this! candidates in all Delhi constituencies. The candidates Does Anna really believe Kejriwal to be dishonest, have been well selected in a fairly transparent manner. and that too financially? And could he not have asked The leaders of AAP seem to be men/women of integrity, this out of the media glare? More important, does Anna who have made sacrifices for the public good (FG has really want Kejriwal to shift to a single-scam – like already interviewed a few). They deserve a fair chance. corruption - focus? He surely must realize that this We have, mainly by abstention, given chances to many would mean Kejriwal just getting stuck on a legal case(s) unworthy candidates over decades. It is time we felt for a decade(s), while the plunder would conveniently responsible and accountable for our actions (noncontinue elsewhere. The corrupt would be the happiest if actions). We should not be so steeped in inertia that this happens. The big boys don’t want Kejriwal to upset we do not want to be part of the change that India so their mutually convenient apple cart. There is coziness desperately needs today. We should not be so lazy and in their system. They seem to have agreed to look after insensitive to assume that we have no problem with their own – or at least their corruption or crime as (opposite) leaders’ own. long as it does not affect Kejriwal has obviously struck a chord with They don’t want anyone to us directly. The majority the public - and therefore the media too. talk of any change to the of the voters, the lower system, let alone a ‘kranti’ middle class and the poor, Yes, that is the only way – sequence – that – or, horrors, an Indian have been hammered by he has sustained ‘being in the news’. He has Spring, that too as close inflation for years now. obviously done something right (grudgingly as 2014. And Anna should Their food, electricity, accepted?), to be taken so seriously by remember that even his transport, education all. He has boldly gone where others have high moral authority has and health bills have feared to tread. not ensured the passing of skyrocketed. They live a And why must he have ready-made the Lokpal Bill to date. poor life. There is hardly solutions for everything? Some will evolve. any job-creation taking The big boys’ solutions are still evolving. place in Delhi – or even in We have cribbed for Arvind bhai, you do not just talk, you do. Gurgaon now. Industry years and decades about You are already in the field of battle. You will the state of affairs in our died decades ago. These not have all the answers – never always get country, and especially frustrated, even angry, it right - and no one does. But clearly you in our politics. There voters are looking for are on the right karma and path and that is change. They are all Aam is a shake-up needed what matters. Lage Raho Arvind Bhai Aadmis. They would be at multiple levels – but more than happy to vote for nowhere more than in one of their own; they have politics and bureaucracy. tried the others, in turn, and obtained little real benefit. There is no point in our just extolling good men and women from the scriptures (or Bollywood movies) – Last day sops would scarce sway them; they may be poor, and goodness in general – if we continue to prefer to but not illiterate (or even caste/religion-frenzied). live under bad rulers, and allow bad to happen under our noses. We now have an instrument to help us We should have the guts to stay the course. We should significantly temper a change. The Aam Aadmi Party support those few good, valiant and determined men and (AAP) offers a clear, credible alternative. They have women who are trying their best, in the murky scenario, been at ground level for over a year now. They have to bring about a change. They seem the more honest, the men and women, good and skilled, to take on the statusmore caring - for the country, and for its future. They quoist forces. The Aam Aadmi Party folks have walked will never always be right, they may not be paragons of the talk. They have entered the poll arena. They have virtue, but they are a hell of a lot better than many in the blown the bugle, sounded the conch. They may not have political world today (with many bureaucrats too having the ‘relevant’ political experience, but that is precisely joined that party). We owe it to the good folk, and our the point – they offer the change that we want to see. souls, to stand solidly in their support – rather than find The point is also not whether their agenda is the most excuses to back away. comprehensive or clever – forget perfect. It is the intent, We can ill-afford a few more lost decades. Or are we, the motivation, which is critical. They, like us, want nudge-nudge-wink-wink, okay with status quo – with to ensure that the country is governed better. Let’s for this unique Indian system called ‘lena dena’ (coal-ition). once just stop pointing out what they could/should have A decade later our progeny should not ask us, ‘so what done (since we always seem to know better – even about were you doing in the poll-war, daddy’? Let the Capital politics), and instead appreciate what they have already set the agenda for change, for once, for the country. We done in a fairly short time. We can always talk of why should now either put up, or shut up.u

22-28 November 2013

In general, we want to be left alone. Times are good. Yes, the country is faced with enormous challenges—lack of food, health facilities, housing, civic infrastructure, civic sense, governance, honesty, community...but someone else needs to take charge. After all, we are not running the country…and we do not have That much time! It says so much, of us. We have lost our power to think, to judge. We let media dramas do it for us. So a few seconds or headlines can make us love Kejriwal….or dismiss him. The cause, the reason, never matters. Having found ‘fault’ with Anna and Kejriwal, we forgot about corruption. It sure questions what we really stand for – since this seems to apply to civic sense, and many other issues. Kejriwal is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. Rather than acknowledge and support a person and/ or a group determined to do something about corruption, we can only keep finding fault. We want it all ‘perfect’, the way we believe we can do it – if (not when) required, that is. We may be dissatisfied, even frustrated, but will not lift our fingers. We just want deliverance at our doorstep. Let’s face it - many of us seem to be envious of the attention Kejriwal, ‘a guy like us (less than us actually!)’ has grabbed in so short a time – that too without Anna by his side. Why does the media spend so much time on him? How does he manage to attract such distinguished lawyers? Doesn’t he need us – ‘we are all so qualified (and so full of ourselves!).’ Somewhere, deep in the heart though, there is a wish in many that Kejriwal comes good, and wins. It is just that the head does not accept this. And the head believes that it knows the answers better than Kejriwal – after all, it is a matter of professional competence. And meanwhile, while we don’t have the conviction and the courage to do, we of course must pick faults with those who even try.

C omment


ct the Janta/ ok’ (the ‘Jan’). In fa ‘L e th d ile fa s ha day ) utive). The Nation to Our ‘Tantra’ (system ec Ex e th . sp (e ra with the Tant st moves Lok is quite fed up ? The UPA today ju . ra nt Ta e th t ns ai pitted ag iled out by seems to be a Jan g it, but by being ba lin nd ha by t no r; othe s to change from one crisis to an ore the Tantra need ef er Th . es tim nt be re mocracy needing to different folks at diffe de of s lk ta al w jri aders’. Ke must he – starting with the ‘le e ‘gram’ level. Why th to up – y da y er ecked, ev real change alive, and being ch nts? How then does be m cu in e th by en t s se nguish in poverty ev la to play only by the rule s an di In of es h to allow cror happen? Do we wis ? 50 years from now Small issues are to day taking very big turns – globally, fro Turkey to Brazil – ev m Egypt to en without the back ing of big, ‘organized us learn from them ’ parties. Let - and beware. Let us not pride ourselves comfort from, our (u on , or take nique) tolerance – for perhaps when ou act, it will be fearso r public does me. te agenda, AAP has no concre at th e at st to e m orate so politicians (and corp It is fashionable for y an m at th r te at m is a different er mind or even a vision. It ompany vision. Nev /c rty pa n ow r ei th not know re, or executives) would been lost somewhe ve ha es rti pa al ic lit the po lves or their also if the visions of at will – by themse d ge an ch or d/ an d, n of that vision have been jettisone if the implementatio d in m r ve ne d An coalition partners. actually sucks). When Aamir Khan could change to a ne w topic week after Satyamev Jayate, week in without spending tim e on any ‘closure’, and th termed ‘path-breaki at is ng’ - why was the w eekly unearthing of Kejriwal and team ne w scams by seen as ‘shoot and scoot’? d have finally sparke d ul co e es th of y ices—an ping Food, healthcare, pr There is always a tip e. on al y er ib br t ou t just ab arge. a movement. It is no d. Emotions take ch pe tip is y lit na tio ra , ents vernment is point. At such mom s relevant to the go em se at th d oo m st a ly s need only stage ju Unfortunately, the on nk ba te vo se ur co s. And of however that of the vote bank within a few days— n ke ta be ld ou w n d actio local loud protest, an mand. unreasonable the de The media has perh aps to take the hard est rap. What, where, how, and in what contex t we write or speak, responsibility. We ca is a big rry it too lightly. Mov ing from drama to dr made, than happen ama (more ing), we attempt to make heroes of mer of heroes; and then e mortals, gods gleefully reverse th e process. What po our megalomania in w er! We justify the name of the pe ople, the society. A defined by me, mys society that is elf, my family and fri ends; and four gues and two on the phon ts in the studio, e. We love drama. We love TRPs and more. We love ours circulation even elves most. Yes, un fortunately, the med and is, on individual ia focus was, s—not the cause. W e continue to miss our love for those tre th e forest, in es.


W ellness

22-28 November 2013

{ Jaspal Bajwa }

Health & Vitality... Naturally!


ith the onset of winter the ‘cold and flu season’ sets in. This is a particularly difficult time for people who may be suffering from chronic stress, as it depletes energy and weakens the immune system. At such times it is important to understand the (positive as well as negative) role that the release of certain chemicals by our brain can play on our health; one such chemical is Cortisol. Cortisol is a steroid hormone secreted by the adrenal cortex, which is situated on our kidneys. The brain, through the pituitary gland, controls how much of this hormone is released at any given time; changes in this could either be a boon or a bane. There are two types of "stress" eustress (good stress) and distress (bad stress). Under eustress, the benefits of Cortisol can include blood pressure management and reduced inflammation. When we are exposed to stress, this stress-fighting hormone can convert protein into fuel. It is good news that, by a change in attitude we can switch on all the positive benefits of eustress. It is indeed a matter of perspective and attitude, and it is learnable. Further, with this switch to eustress, not only do Cortisol levels rapidly return to normal but also many other powerful and positive neurotransmitters and hormones are triggered by

Adapting to Hormones

our body-mind. However, if we get a continued exposure to prolonged stress, it becomes ‘distress’; our body keeps pumping the Cortisol engine. And sure enough, if the Cortisol engine is not switched off often enough, there are consequences. When our "fight-or-flight" response is over-used, elevated Cortisol levels can end up interfering with lour earning and memory, and worse still, inflict a long list of other ills - which

include lowering of immune function and bone density, increased weight gain, higher blood pressure and cholesterol, and heart disease. There can also be an increased risk of mental illness and accelerated ageing. The antidote, in addition to attitude and habit change, lies in great nutritional choices.

Tip of the Week

To counter the negative effects of an over-worked Cortisol

Super Seeds { Alka Gurha }

etarians. Another added benefit is that they don't contain any cholesterol.


r. Mehmet C. Oz, a Professor at Columbia University, says that Chia Seeds may be one of the healthiest things around. Another nutrition expert, Dr. Weil, also swears by their benefits. What are Chia Seeds? Why do they find their name in the ‘Super Food’ category? Chia is an edible seed that comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, grown in Mexico. It was an important food crop for the Aztecs. It was largely unknown until researcher Wayne Coates began studying Chia as an alternative crop for farmers in Argentina. Chia seeds are said to be a dieter’s dream and a body builder’s delight. ‘Chia’ means strength. It is said that these tiny black and white seeds are an energy booster. Chia seeds are a concentrated food, containing healthy omega-3 fatty acids, proteins, carbohydrates, fibre, calcium and antioxidants. Essentially they are an unprocessed, whole-grain food that can be

How to enjoy Chia Seeds:

absorbed by the body as seeds. The mild, nutty flavour of Chia Seeds makes it easy to add them to foods and beverages.

Health Benefits

The gelatinous coating that Chia Seeds develop, when exposed to liquids, is said to prevent blood sugar spikes. Just a one-ounce serving of Chia contains nearly 10 grams of dietary fibre. A serving of Chia Seeds has nearly 18 per cent of the recommended daily intake of calcium. These Seeds also contain manganese; and being rich in phosphorus, they help you in maintaining healthy bones and teeth. Chia Seeds also are a great source of protein for veg-

Nutritionists recommend that nearly 15g (one tablespoon) of Chia should be consumed each day; this can take care of your daily cereal intake. Be sure to drink plenty of water, as Chia is very high in fibre. The Seeds can be sprinkled on top of salads or toast, or added milled to smoothies. You can soak or sprout them as well. They can be eaten raw, soaked in fruit juice, used in porridges and puddings, or sprinkled into your smoothie. They make an ideal add-on to baked goods - breads, muffins, cakes and biscuits.

engine, we need to take adequate precautions to strengthen our body systems, to help us adapt to the changed conditions. ‘Adaptogens’ are a class of herbs that meet this requirement very well. Many practitioners recommend against using any single adaptogenic herb over a long period of time. Rotating among several Adaptogens, every few months, seems to yield better outcomes. Nature’s Wonder Food of the Week: Astragulas or Astragalus membranaceus A tonic in the truest sense of the world, Astragalus can enhance our overall health by improving resistance to disease, increasing stamina and promoting general wellbeing. It has an adaptogenic effect, which is most pronounced on the heart, liver and kidneys. Unlike Echinacea, Astragalus may be taken long-term, during the cold and flu season. Chinese studies have found it to be an effective preventive against the common cold; Astragalus was first identified over two thousand years ago in China. Some of the common names of this ancient wonder herb are Astragali, Huang qi, Locoweed and Milk Vetch Root. It is widely considered to be an Adaptogen, and has strong antibacterial, anti- inflammatory, antiviral, aphrodisiac, cardio tonic, diuretic, hypertensive and immuno-stimulant properties. It has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for cen-

turies–mainly to boost the immune system, enhance strength and regulate metabolism. Known as ‘The Yellow Leader’ (Huang qi) in China, Astragalus is highly acclaimed as the most important of all deep immune tonics. This is due to its support of T-cells (killer cells that fight infection) in our bone marrow reserves. Astragalus contains betaine, beta-sitosterol, calcium, choline, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, zinc, flavonoids, triterpene glycosides (such as astragalosides), amino acids and essential fatty acids. Astragalus is particularly effective in fighting off colds, flu, bronchitis and sinus infections, because it prevents viruses from gaining a foothold in the respiratory system. At low-to-moderate doses, Astragalus has very few side effects. However, although considered generally safe, Astragalus can make the immune system more active. This could worsen the symptoms of auto-immune diseases. Similarly, pregnant women should consult their doctor before using this herb. Lastly, use of Astragalus may increase the risk of bleeding so caution is advised to those with bleeding disorders.  u Registered Holistic Nutritionist (Canadian School of Natural Nutrition) For education purposes only; always consult a healthcare practitioner for medical





Where to Buy

Both the white and black seeds are good choices, but avoid red seeds (immature seeds). Chia Seeds are available in some supermarkets and in Khan Market, New Delhi. Consult your nutritionist for more details on Super Foods. u

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22-28 November 2013

Theatrically Yours { Christopher Daruwalla }


once was asked by a school to work with their students to present a piece of theatre for their annual event. Rehearsals for the other bits and pieces were already underway and the school needed something to be done in the time that was left. Entering the premises, I found myself in the midst of confusion and chaos. Dancers, singers and actors were flying across the hall, getting ready to rehearse their parts; work was in full swing and I had to find something that would fit into the programme. I decided to do a short play, which would be relevant to the day - a love story. I went looking for my talent, and to my dismay found that they had already been taken away by the different departments for their showcase events. So I had no one really to work with. My meeting with the principal did not help either; the department heads were not willing to share their talent. Insecurity is the biggest enemy of creative work. So there I was, in the middle of this chaos, with a story that I had written, but with no performers to bring it to life! I felt lost. Suddenly I spotted a group of students sitting in the corner of the hall. Their looks said it all – they were quiet, disconnected and their gaze was lost in the

distance. I smiled. What I saw were souls that were feeling the same as I was – detached, mere spectators to the excitement. I walked up to them to have a chat, and soon understood their mood. They were the left overs – no one found them suitable for any work of art. Something rose within me as I looked into their eyes and heard them speak. I got up and walked back to the principal’s office. My conversation went something like this: “ Those children, sitting on the bleachers, I want them to be part of my work.” The principal got up, made an amused face and tried to say something to the effect of, ‘are you sure you know what you are doing’? I nodded. We were already late in starting, but over the next few weeks I found the most wonderful group of actors, who were just waiting to be part of something creative. We often talk of glasses being half empty or half full – these students were neither. They were empty

glasses, who had allowed me to fill them with ideas to work on. They experimented without any baggage, they contributed in unique ways - discovering and showcasing at the same time. They were filled with the spirit of bringing a story to life. They did not know their potential and I did not know how much they would give me, but as we journeyed into the unknown we found ourselves being sucked into the plot and sub-plot of the story - each ones’ little play-act contributing to the larger story. What they gave me was more than any actor would have - an innocence towards the work, an openness to learn, concentration that comes with the joy of discovery and most of all, an honesty that is rare to find. As the audience applauded at the end of the performance, I could not but smile to see how far they had come. In the process they had taken me back to my journey as an actor – to the roots of theatre - and given me more than I had given them.u The Author is Founder and Creative Director of Actors World – an actor, writer and director, he has trained from the London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art [LAMDA]. He is the Representative North India for LAMDA - Graded exams in communication and performance.

Fame, No Fortune { Richa Sharma } ‘I am a Star with no Money’, says Khoku Patra. She was chosen from among thousands of talented food makers, she got the best of comments from India’s top chefs, she conquered the hearts of million of people and undoubtedly she made the most scrumptious food on one of India’s best Reality Food Shows. Khoku Patra, with her pleasing & charming personality, won over the people’s hearts, with her impeccable performance in a month-long drama of the reality show. Reality shows successfully play with people’s emotions. Such is the drama scripted in these shows that we many times forget what we see and just go with the flow of emotions. We become happy when a contestant wins and sad when he/she loses. After all, we live in an emotional land. And what about the loser - who touches the threshold of fame and glory and whose reality soon is the real world. Similar is the story of our own Khoku, who today is struggling to earn her livelihood in the so-called food capital. As promised by the show organizers, Khoku completed her month-long training at one of the best hotels of Gurgaon and left after learning the art of making Thai and Chinese Cuisine. But only getting trained is not going to help in running her house - she needs a full time job. ‘One year ago I left my work, thinking that participating in a food show will change my life; but unfortunately I am now struggling to get a simple job in Delhi. People tell me that I am a big star now, but being a star doesn’t run a house,’ said shattered Khoku. She feels that being uneducated and less experienced is a big hindrance. “Wherever I go for a job, people ask about my qualification and formal training, because for them cooking in a reality show is no big deal. Also I don’t know many people here, so probably that’s also my weak point”. While being a good cook is definitely her strongest point, she cannot think of starting even a catering business. “That would require a lot of money and my husband only earns Rs. 7K a month”, she says. For us the show is over but for Khoku the reality of living up to everybody’s expectations and fulfilling her dreams still remains a distant dream. u



by ShahnaZ

Living in the face of death { Krishan Kalra }


s President of the All India Management Association (AIMA) for 1998-99, it was my responsibility to organise the ‘99 Annual Convention’, the biggest event in every president’s tenure of one year. It is also a sort of test of how successful the incumbent has been. One of the important tasks is to find a Convention Chairman – normally the head of a well-known large company – who would also, normally, sponsor the Event. After much deliberation I had narrowed down the shortlist to a couple of Delhi-based industrialists; on top of the list was Dr Parvinder Singh, the then CMD of Pharma major Ranbaxy. Parvinder was very well known, was articulate, had a tremendous presence and was heading the country’s largest pharmaceutical company. A true leader, he had proven his mettle by achieving scorching growth. Krishan Chugh, past president of AIMA, knew Dr Singh well and offered to fix a meeting. We were asked to call on him one afternoon at his Aurangzeb Lane house. On the appointed day – in March – Chugh, AIMA DG Khurana and I reached there. We were received by the CMD’s executive assistant and made to sit in the tastefully appointed living room. Soon, Dr Parvinder Singh walked in, wearing a dressing gown. I was a bit surprised that he’d do so at a formal meeting, but soon dismissed the thought;

he was probably taking a siesta. He greeted us warmly, offered tea & snacks, and after some polite talk, wanted to know everything about AIMA and the Convention. I switched on the laptop and made a power point presentation; the origins of AIMA, some very distinguished past presidents, our activities, sponsors of previous conventions, how people like Yogi Deveshwar had been convention chairmen earlier, our plans for the 99 Event etc. Finally, I proposed that we were very keen that he be the Chairman for our Convention in September. “Mr. Kalra, you are asking me to make a commitment for an event six months from now, when I am not sure if I would even be alive after six weeks.” The man had spoken in an even tone, without any emotion…very stoically, very matter of fact. We were all left speechless. Finally Chugh broke the ice, “Parvinder, why are you talking like that?” “Mr. Chugh, I’m suffering from terminal cancer and perhaps don’t have more than a couple of months. There is so much to do before I go. I am sorry I can’t accept the Convention Chairmanship. We will of course take a sponsorship. Now, another cup of hot tea, anyone?” Some more chitchat & then Dr Singh graciously saw us off at the gate. There was no trace of self-pity, no seeking of sympathy, no regrets…just the desire to complete some of his unfinished tasks. In July of that year, the great man passed away.u


Herbal Cosmetic Queen Padma Shree Shahnaz Husain is the CEO of the Shahnaz Husain Group – India’s leading company in the field of natural beauty and anti-aging treatments.

Q. Please tell me the treatment for lice and lice eggs.

SH Apply vinegar on the hair and scalp. After an hour, comb with a fine

lice comb and get the eggs (nits) taken out by hand. Vinegar loosens the nits and they are easier to remove. Then wash the hair with a mild herbal shampoo. After shampoo, add two tablespoons vinegar to a mug of water and use as a last rinse. Then comb again with the lice comb. Do this daily for one week. Have weekly henna treatments. Add 4 teaspoons each of lemon juice and coffee, 2 raw eggs, one teaspoon methi seed powder and enough “tea water” to the henna powder, mixing it into a thick paste. “Tea water” can be made by boiling used tea leaves again in enough water, cooling and straining the liquid. If the hair is dry, add two teaspoons oil. Apply the henna on the hair and wash off after an hour.

WINNER Devika Mahajan

Ask the beauty expert questions on skin, hair and beauty. The best question (picked by Shahnaz Husain) will receive a gift hamper from the Shahnaz Husain Group. Write to us at


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22-28 November 2013

Style your Kid this Winter

Brussels Sprouts

{ Richa Sharma }


hey are small wonders with an angelic look, they are the prince and princess of the proud parents - and they are also little fashionistas. Today Kids’ Fashion is a reflection of the trends of grown-ups. Girls and boys would like to copy their parents in everything, including clothing. Kids take inspiration from the latest fashion styles - sporty to glam, indie to bling and punk to pretty. They are getting all trendy. Wintertime means shivering cold and lots of warm clothes - like Jackets, sweaters, sweatshirts, long coats, thermals, boots, gloves etc. And no matter how many layers we all have, everyone looks stylish and trendy in winter wear. “Kids can have extreme fun in the winter season with clothes; they can create a style statement by wearing colorful sweaters or long coats,” says India’s young fashion designer, Prachi Badve. This winter season, dress up your child by mixing different styles and give your child’s closet a complete makeover by following our simply cool and trendy tips. Fashion stylist, Chandni Kumar, has this to share: “This season, dress your kids with playful woollen scarves, chunky knits, jackets and boots. Also allow your kids to sometimes match and colour in their own style.” Chandni also recommends a few must-haves : a) Comfortable jacket b) Coloured denims/ leggings c) Woollen scarves d) Mittens/gloves e) Boots. Knitted items are also popular during the fall and winter season. So one should not forget to purchase different jumpers, sweaters and cardigans for the kids. It’s the perfect way to stay cosy and warm. Accessorizing plays a very vital role in accentuating one’s style. For winter one can choose head accessories such as hats, headbands and hair ornaments for the kids. “Accessories enhance your outfit; they help to break the monotonous print or the solid colour, and give the entire outfit a good visual appeal,” says Fashion stylist Chandni.

Trend for Boys

Undoubtedly mothers of girls have more opportunities

{ Ruchika Makhija }

C with mufflers and a good pair of boots.

Protect feet, hands and head too

Hats : To protect kids from the chill, a right kind of hat is essential. Select those hats that are warm, lightweight and that cover the ears perfectly. Should be stylish too. Mittens : During peak winter keep your kids’ hands warm by choosing mittens over gloves, as the former better circulate the warm air around the fingers, and the hands stay warmer. Always buy some extra pairs, for when kids play outdoors, you may need to change the mittens every hour. Boots and socks : Always choose boots that are waterresistant and have room enough for winter socks. Also purchase socks that are a blend of polyester (to take care of perspiration) and wool (for warmth). Make sure that the boots aren’t too tight and your child has an extra pair handy. Scarves : Scarves are not a very good idea for kids; instead, one can go for neck warmers, as they are much safer. Now go make your own style statements!

Some Cold Weather Safety Tips:

to dress them the trendy way, but one should not assume that fashion is limited to girls only. For this season, dress your son in jumpers with bold prints, V shaped necklines, grunge jeans, velvet coats and hooded jackets; and don’t forget to accessorize

Kids should be dressed up in bright colours while playing outdoors. You should avoid clothing that has draw-strings at the neck or waist, as that can get caught up while playing. Always use sunscreen on any exposed skin. Use rose water with glycerine for that chapped skin; it does wonders.u

an we get our fill of all the wonderfully sinful things from one wonderful place? Yes, we can. Chocolates, Waffles and Beer – that too world famous – all come to you from Belgium. Brussels or Bruxelles, the capital of Belgium, has the most beautiful square in Europe, The Grand Place. Surrounded by some 300-year-old buildings, this Square is the place to be in the summers; every second year a theme-based flower carpet is laid out and remains there for five consecutive days. The best time to see this is early in the morning, or in the late evening when all the surrounding buildings are illuminated. It has become a tradition to visit the famous Statue - ‘Manneken Pis’ - of a little boy peeing in a fountain. This bronze statue is dressed in costume several times each week. The symbol of Brussels is undoubtedly the iconic ‘Atomium’, which is made of nine stainless steel spheres. The top most sphere of this bizzare structure provides a great view of the City. Next to the Atomium is ‘MiniEurope’, a pleasant Park that showcases miniatures of various European tourist attractions. They are made with such perfection that we wonder whether they are of the right size or whether we are just too tall. Less than an hour’s drive from Belgium is the picturesque town of Bruges. Often called the ‘Venice of the North’, this is one town where centuries’ old architecture is still preserved – especially in the various chapels and museums. No visit here is complete without a horse carriage or canal ride, as well as a sampling of one (or multiple) of the 350 kinds of beer on offer. There’s just something about Belgium. Maybe it’s also the friendly welcoming people who, even with three official languages, find it easy to converse in English. Or the stunning architecture decorating the quaint cobblestoned squares; or perhaps the incredible cuisine. There’s just something about Belgium. u

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22-28 November 2013

{ Kathrin Streckenbach/ Konstanz, Germany/ DPA }


German university has developed a robot picture painter, e-David, that works a brush like Pablo Picasso, but critics question whether the digital dauber is really creating Art. e-David is the brainchild of a team at the University of Konstanz. It does not think up paintings from scratch, but instead copies from photographs, using masterly brushstrokes, thanks to specially designed software. The software principle is called “visual optimization” – constantly improving the daubs until they look right. One recent morning in eDavid’s studio, the painting was not yet finished, but it was already clear that the latest work was based on a photograph of The Thinker, a bronze sculpture by Auguste Rodin. e-David was carefully adding a brush stroke of white paint to a section of the painting that it considered was still too dark. “We were interested in understanding how to describe a human painting style through mathematics,” explains Oliver Deussen, a Professor of Computer Science at the University. Deussen and his team worked for over three years, teaching e-David - the name is an abbreviation of “Drawing Apparatus for Vivid Interactive Display”

- how to paint. Originally an industrial welding robot used in car production, e-David was modified for his new task with the addition of the necessary gear for a budding artist – including an easel, a palette with 24 paint colours on it, brushes and a pot to wash the brush. “We also connected it to a camera and computer,” says Deussen. Once it receives its base picture from the scientists, e-David begins distributing paintstrokes on the canvas with the help of a special programme. The robot decides independently where to add new strokes, and required around 15 hours to complete its representation of The Thinker. “The machine observes itself constantly while painting, by taking photographs, so that it can compare its work with the desired result,” says Deussen. The painting is finished as soon as e-David calculates that it can no longer achieve a closer representation of the target picture. The resultant paintings look like a strange mixture of the artificial and natural. e-David has painted all kinds of subjects – including portraits, landscapes, animals and a still life or two. In one painting of an old tower on a lakeside, it is even possible to see the reflections in the water. “In theory, eDavid can paint any style – from Impressionism onwards,” says Deussen. The question now being

Patrick Seeger

e-David the Painting Robot

Robot e-David’s painting, based on a photograph of The Thinker, a bronze sculpture by Auguste Rodin. e-David has to carefully add a brush stroke of white paint to a section of the painting that it considers too dark – until the colour is optimized.

Oliver Deussen, a professor of computer science at the University of Konstanz in Germany, watches as e-David, a former industrial robot, paints. “We were interested in understanding how to describe a human painting style through mathematics,” he explains.

asked by many people is: what effect, if any, these new painting robots will have on the Art business? “Paintings created by robots are a fascinating area. They definitely go beyond the status of simply clever playthings,” says Robert van den Valentyn, from Cologne Art auctioneer firm Van Ham. “It should be noted, however, that the works are based on already existing art forms, because the programmers are, in most cases, not artists themselves.” What distinguishes real art is creativity, something based

Night of the Singing Balconies

on our intuitions and our humanity, he argues. “It’s for this reason that computer-generated paintings are not a threat to the market,” says van den Valentyn. e-David could do some very nice paintings to adorn your living-room wall, but it would not rate as collectible Art, any more than work from the massproduction art studios in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen does. “The Chinese painting factories already provide for this market today, at incredibly low prices. But the products are

City district of Friedrichshain, where a large number of Berlin’s artists and creative types live. Berlin’s balconies are not quite as romantic as the ones where { Sophia Weimer/ Berlin/ DPA } with a sparkler in one hand and a mi- Juliet was courted by Romeo. They often crophone in the other, she starts sing- front on traffic-filled streets. But for aula is standing on her balcony, a ing. From the street below, hundreds one Saturday evening, the balconies spotlight trained on her. Actually, of voices join in – “And after aaaalll, become tiny stages for presentations of music and skits. Anyone who signs she had wanted to show a film to you’re my wonderwaaalll...” At the end of her song, Paula is up ahead of time can take part: some the 400 people who are standing on the street below, their necks stretched up- rewarded with thunderous applause and are professional performers, others wards towards her. But her projector shouts, while cylists ring their bells. Hers are from Berlin’s subculture of broke down. So, instead, she has de- is one of the first performances in the hopefuls who share flats, wait tables cided to sing a song - not just any song, “Night of the Singing Balconies,” one and nurture their “projects.” Joseph Schurr, a professional opera but rather The song of her youth, as of Berlin’s more bizarre attractions. The Event is spread over 38 apartment singer, is standing on a fourth-floor she nervously explains to the crowd below: “Wonderwall” by Oasis. Then, balconies overlooking streets in the balcony and singing, “O sole mio” while Rainer Jensen on the other side of the street down below, the crowd is listening in rapt attention. Not even the streetcar rushing past or the honking of cars’ horns can disturb the feeling. “It’s simply overwhelming,” says Volker Siems, staring in amazement at the crowd of people. Siems is the initiator of the Event, sponsored by “Polly & Bob”, Professional Opera singer Joseph Schnurr sings which is promoting local “O sole mio” from a high apartment balcony in the A Berlin singer, Barbara Bendrina, gathers a crowd neighbourhood activities Friedrichshain district of Berlin. A street crowd as she stands on the ground-storey windowsill of such as free babysitting and below is listening in rapt attention during the Night a restaurant in the Friedrichshain district of Berlin, book exchanges. “We want of the Singing Balconies. during the Night of the Singing Balconies. to battle against peoples’



industrial,” he says, arguing that real Art requires individual creative brilliance. Holger Bunk, from the State Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart, agrees, although he does admit that the development of such machines will challenge artists on how they think and what they create. “I have still not heard of any development that calls into question what I do as a painter or an art teacher,” he says. While the quality of paintings created by e-David and other such robots can be sometimes quite astounding, Bunk compares the innovation to the invention of the tape recorder. “Professional comedians used to recite jokes live. Now they can be recorded and replayed in exactly the same tone of voice every time,” he explains. “However, this doesn’t tickle your funny bone if you have heard it told before.” He says real Art is like a joke that you hear live for the first time. What makes Art special is that real artists never imitate; they constantly come up withnew ideas. Professor Deussen agrees that e-David is not an artist; it is just a tool, a hightechnology brush, in effect. However, at the moment, eDavid is unconcerned about being disparaged. The robot carefully cleans and dries its brushtips after finishing its latest work. “But paradoxically, it can paint with enormous sensitivity,” Deussen says. u

isolation, break down anonymity and bring people together.” He never dreamed that so many would be coming together. Three tours of the first Balconies Night drew more than 1,000 people, and it looks like a tradition has been born. The Berlin Event was based on a similar one that took place in Hamburg. “Perhaps some day we can stage this simultaneously on one evening in cities throughout Germany. That would be fab,” he says. The crowd moves on further through the neighbourhood. On one balcony, a woman in a Bavarian folk dress is yodelling, while on another, a group of tenants are singing, “Stand By Me.” Elsewhere, an entire family is singing a German folk song, while further on the Weserstrasse Street Chorus is singing a medley of 1980s disco hits. Several motorists are astonished by the audience standing in the middle of the street, their heads mostly turned upwards. Wheelchairs, baby buggies and bicycles are pushed down the street and children and adults alike are milling back and forth. Police enter the scene and request that pedestrians pay more regard to the needs of the motorists. The next time, Siems says, this should be organized a bit differently. Then, the “Night of the Singing Balconies” will be a summertime event. u


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22-28 November 2013

{ Jessica Binsch/ Berlin/ DPA }


he piece of metal that Tim Cannon wears under his skin is about five by three centimetres in size. He recently had it implanted on his left arm directly under a circular tattoo. The device named Circadia provides blood readings. It also has a small, green light that at the push of a button seems to shine through his skin. Cannon calls it the builtin backlight for his tattoo. What sounds like science fiction for most is everyday reality for people like Cannon. He’s a biohacker, one of a group who seek to augment humanity using technology. Essentially, biohackers seek to fuse their bodies with technology. Cannon’s first hack was implanting a magnet under his fingertips, so that he could feel the tingle of electromagnetic radiation. Others have electronic keys - computer chips implanted in the palms of their hands that can be used to open door locks. Their ultimate goal is to create human organs with built-in technology. The biohackers seek to upgrade the human senses and they use their own bodies as the place to carry out the experiments – a practice that throws up some ethical questions. Cannon comes from Pittsburgh in the United

States and describes himself as a “cyborg.” The human body offers much potential for improvement, he thinks. “I don’t believe what we are born with is perfect. And I want to improve that.” For this he goes to the threshold of pain - and beyond. Because the 34-year-old wasn’t able to find a doctor willing to participate in his experiments, he had asked a tattooist – a ‘body artist’ - to do the surgery – without anesthesia. “That was quite painful. For such things it takes fearlessness,” he says. Cannon has embarked on his self-improvement mission with enthusiasm. “I do it because it fascinates me,” he says. The process of tinkering with one’s own body is discussed on forums like and Cannon’s hacker group, Grindhouse Wetware, aims to bring implants to the market soon. A Circadia sensor should cost around 500 dollars. Cannon is the first tester. The Grindhouse Wetware group of programmers, engineers and biohacking enthusiasts say their goal is to augment humanity using safe, affordable, open source technology. The schematics for their implants and cyberware are open source, so anyone can try their hand at making them. Implants have long been used in medicine – for example pacemakers and hearing aids,

The left arm of Tim Cannon, just before he had a “back-light” chip inserted under the tattoo, to compile blood readings. Cannon, a US citizen, describes himself as a human cyborg.

Ole Spata

Biohackers experiment on their own bodies

The magnetized finger of Tim Cannon, with a hearing-aid battery clinging to it by magnetism. He obtained the implant so he could feel electromagnetic fields.

Tim Cannon, a US citizen in Berlin, who describes himself as a human cyborg.

with the goal being to help patients or reduce suffering. The extension of one’s abilities, if it occurred, was really just a side effect, says Cord Schloetelburg of the German Society for

Biomedical Engineering. He emphasizes the distinction between therapy and gimmicks. Jens Clausen, a Professor of medical ethics at Germany’s University of Tuebingen, has a similar view. He says just because someone wants to experience something doesn’t mean that doctors are obliged to provide their skills. He shrugs his shoulders at the biohackers’ experiments. “There’s a right also to irrational decisions,” he says. “For me it would be too dangerous.” Cannon’s vision is reminiscent of science fiction movies. He dreams

of implants that will measure stress hormones and then tell the wearers that it’s time to relax. His dream project is an artificial heart, the plans for which would be open source, so the organ could be produced by anyone. And why not also an implant in the leg, which will emit mild electrical pulses depending on the direction the person is going in? The carrier would become, in effect, a human compass. All this is quite conceivable – but is it desirable? And what kind of humans do we really want to be? These are very old philosophical questions, Clausen says. u

Mayan Civilization brought back to life { Franz Smets/ Cancun, Mexico / DPA }


ourists interested in Mexico’s Mayan past can scramble over ruins, ride canoes and swim in subterranean rivers. The once flourishing Mayan civilization peaked around 900 AD and was centred in what is today southern Mexico and Guatemala, but its influence can still be seen throughout much of Central America. The Mayan people built vast cities, ornate temples and towering pyramids. The Mayans also transported huge amounts of goods between Central and Northern America. A variety of trade goods were transported along the Yucatan Peninsula, using huge dugout canoes that stayed close to the coastline and took advantage of sea currents and tides. They also travelled inland, navigating through canals, lagoons, swamps and lakes. Visitors to the region

can now learn more about Mayan society, with a trip to a colourful Theme Park around 80 kilometres south of Cancun, called Xcaret, where the ancient Mayan port of Pole once stood. Xcaret boasts pyramids, museums, theatres and huge karst caves, where

underground rivers from the interior flow out into the sea. The Mexican tourist industry has made efforts in recent years to offer visitors the opportunity to experience the country’s extensive culture and history. One of the traditions of the ancient Mayans required

every woman in the empire to take a long, arduous pilgrimage - at least once in her lifetime - to the island of Cozumel off the Yucatan Peninsula. Since 2007, communities on the popular resort island and the Riviera Maya on the Caribbean shores of the Peninsula, recreate the crossing to Cozumel in home-made wooden canoes. The annual celebration of “The Sacred Journey” usually involves dozens of canoes paddled by local villagers, who spend up to seven hours fighting the waves and currents to Cozumel. The Festival is also a reminder that prior to the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores in the 16th century, Mayans transported extraordinary amounts of salt, honey, furs and cocoa using their canoes. Visitors to Xcaret can swim and snorkel in the underground rivers that run through the Theme Park, exploring caves and swimming along unique rock formations and marine

fossils. The region has also preserved hundreds of residential structures and over 60 temples, which are scattered throughout the surrounding jungle. Excursions to the Maya reservation of Sian Ka’an, south of Tulum, and the ruins of Muyil are also available. There are two pristine lakes that can be toured by boat while there is a new nature trail through a lush marshland that ends up at the edge of Laguna Muyil. Tourists can explore the lakes and ancient canals, surrounded by green marshlands full of exotic wildlife – including herons, ibises and other swamp birds. Similar views can be enjoyed on a trip to the lagoon in Bacalar, near Mexico’s border with Belize. From Bacalar, it is possible to take a river journey to Rio Hondo, passing sunken boats that were once used by the English to transport valuable mahogany trunks out of the Guatemalan jungle. u

G lobal

22-28 November 2013


“Eeks” to “Aahs”: Natural History Museum fascinates with Spiders Uwe Zucchi

{ Timo Lindemann/Kassel, Germany/ DPA }


any people react with a scream when they see a spider. But exhibitions featuring the eight-legged animals are also often a hit with the public. So expect those “eeks” to turn into “aahs” at the Museum of Natural History in Kassel, with its exhibition, “Fascination Spiders,” which runs until next March 15. “We want to spark a liking for an interesting group of animals. They are not disgusting animals. They have a rightful place in nature,” says Kai Fueldner from the Museum, located north of Frankfurt. There are about 46,000 types of spiders throughout the world. It has never been quite clear why people experience fear and disgust when they see spiders, according to spider expert Peter Jaeger, from the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt. “There is an ambivalence that connects us to spiders. For some, that’s disgust. “But in the zoo or in a documentary on television, we are fascinated,” said Jaeger.Professor Kristin Mitte from the Psychological Diagnostics department at the University of Kassel said

Kai Fueldner, head of the Kassel Natural History Museum, holds a live Tarantula spider. The Museum is running a show on human revulsion towards spiders.

she suspects the fear has an evolutionary origin. “Early humans learned to beware of predators, including spiders, which are possibly poisonous,” she said. Other theories claim a cultural origin and blame Europe during the Middle Ages. “Many people thought at that time that spiders could pass on diseases. Disgust therefore served more as a protection mechanism,” said Mitte. Jaeger said people may simply be scared of spiders because the creatures can move quickly and supposedly

A Tarantula at rest at the Kassel Natural History Museum.

also go after people. “But that is more secondary in my opinion,” said Jaeger, who assumes instead that children adopt the behaviour patterns of their parents. “If a mother

A Tarantula climbs a man’s hand at the Kassel Natural History Museum. In the background is a human-made web, imitating the work of an orb-web spider.

screams at the sight of a spider, that is engraved in children for their whole life.” On top of that are the stories and films about spiders. Regardless, spider exhibitions always draw a lot of visitors. “The glass in between you and the spider helps a lot. That means the situation is under control,” said Jaeger. The Show in Kassel includes more than 40 terrariums.

The Business of rearing Cockroaches


reeder Zhang Jianjun stands motionless in a dark room, yet all around him is a hive of activity. Cockroaches scurry along the floor at his feet, up and down the walls and even across the ceiling. Not that Zhang is perturbed. This is an everyday occurrence for the Chinese expert, whose job is to cultivate the bugs as a lucrative business. “My farm occupies just 400 square metres,” said Zhang, who has no idea of exactly how many cockroaches are thriving in his tiny kingdom. “There are too many to count,” he said. Raising cockroaches is a widespread commercial activity in China, thanks to the pharmaceutical industry, which uses the insects as the basis for a range of treatments. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) recommends various exotic elixirs made from cockroaches, even though the critters are regarded as a pest by the rest of the world. One such drug is sold under the name, “Kangfuxin.” Prescriptions advise users to drink liquidized cockroach powder three times a day or rub it on the skin in the form of a paste. Claimed benefits include a boost to the body’s immune defences,

protection against infections and even relief of chronic stomach complaints. Another brand of powder made from the bugs is said to ward off breast cancer and is used for a range of anti-wrinkle skin cosmetics. Testimonials from experts say the cockroach cures do actually work, according to Pu Sheban, a professor at the medical college in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing. The authorities have given their seal of official approval Cockroach breeder Zhang Jianjun at his farm in Jiangsu province of Eastern China – with roaches climbing the interior walls.

Zhang Jianjun

{ Stephan Scheuer/ Beijing /DPA }

to the treatments. Kangfuxin is a generic name for cockroach medicines that have been sold since 2010 by four companies, each licensed to do so by the China Food and Drug Administration. “Chinese medicine traditionally regards cockroaches as having a remedial effect,” said Pu. Cockroach breeders are currently producing around 1,000 tons a year. Even this is not sufficient to satisfy demand, which experts estimate at some 3,000 tons annually. Back at Zhang’s farm in the eastern province of Jiangsu, the flat insects with their powerful legs and extended feelers are dashing all over the place inside the building. “I get 55 yuan for a pound of them,” said Zhang - a sum which equates to roughly 9 dollars. A number of his friends are keen to get into the cockroach trade. They dream of earning big money, especially from a brand of particularly sterile cockroach that can be sold for up to 1,200 yuan per pound. Despite the enthusiasm for cockroaches, the huge number of the insects in captivity in China can pose hazards. An estimated 1 million cockroaches escaped recently from a greenhouse where they were being bred. The neighbours are still trying to cope with the army of creepy-crawlies, which are renowned for their hardy resilience to many pesticides.u

Spiders are not insects, but members of a phylum known as arthropods. In addition to the world’s largest Tarantula and the Black Widow, the Exhibition shows other arthropods such as Millipedes and the African Emperor Scorpion. Among the topics addressed in the Exhibition are lifestyle, reproduction and hunting methods. Fabulous stories involving spiders’ webs in medicine and technology also get attention, along with arachnophobia, – the pathological fear of spiders. “Arachnophobia is rarely immobilizing,” says Mitte. Most sufferers just get on with their lives and avoid spiders. She says psychological therapy for the condition is not justified. Spider enthusiast Jaeger disagrees. He does in fact offer a course to conquer fear of spiders. “About 99 per cent of the participants are women. That’s only because they are courageous enough to go to therapy,” said Jaeger. Men aren’t. A therapy called confrontation is necessary if the fear does affect an individual’s daily life. Some people break out in a sweat even when they see a picture of a spider. At the end of the Therapy, all of the patients have been able to hold a tarantula on their hand! u

Armband can jog your Memory { Berlin/ DPA }


uestions like “Pardon, what did you just say?” might never be heard again if US start-up Kapture gets its way. Kapture’s device is basically an armband with a waterproof microphone, which records the last minute’s worth of conversations and surrounding sounds, reports German magazine Technology Review. The armband is constantly overplaying what has been recorded. But if touched, the last minute’s worth of sounds is sent to a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth. So instead of saying “pardon,” you ask Kapture. It’s possible to store up to 25 clips directly in the armband. Using this feature, people can save interesting conversations or set acoustic reminders. A built-in motion sensor also allows Kapture to work as a fitness tracker. One battery charge should last for about 24 hours. The device is set to go on sale in 2014 for about 150 dollars. u


22-28 November 2013

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