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India's only Cultural Magazine for Expatriates

Jaya hÉ 64 years in the making

D e a r

R e a d e r s

A CELEBRATION of independence, be it 235 or 64, is sweet. I was recently at the 4th of July party with US diplomats, and when the singer inspired us with Jana Gana Mana – our Indian anthem – followed by the Star Spangled Banner – the American anthem – a few moments of national pride swelled commonly in the hearts of all present. How clever these symbols are. A flag. A motto. A song. A flower… They easily stand for a country and remind us that geographic boundaries set by man were meant to foster bonds, not form divisions. In the Indian tricolor flag, as in most things in India, a lot of meaning is packed. It goes like this: if a nation remembers to follow the saffron (orange) standing for the selfless sacrifice of its leaders, has purity of thought, word and deed as symbolised by the band of white, and puts in 24 hours of hard work as suggested by the spokes of the wheel or chakra in the centre, then growth is bound to happen as symbolised by the last band of green. Let’s refresh our memories on what we stand for today. We always knew these symbolic meanings, but after 64 years, do we need a reminder? Culture is refreshing, so come immerse in Indian culture as you do each month, as readers of Culturama, and if you are in the neighbourhood, do drop by our India Immersion Centre in Chennai, a unique location that holds programmes of Cultural Immersions. We are always ready to serve culture with a cup of coffee. In this issue, dedicated to India, enjoy reading the Coffee and Conversation with one of India’s well-known cartoonists, Keshav, and in the India on a Platter column, read about the humble Upma that made it to top honours in the Top Chef show. Our feature this month looks at the Spirit of India from a Then and Now point of view capturing the India that was and the India that is. In View from the Top, Bunker Roy, who set up Barefoot College, speaks up about the realities of development in rural India. Jai Hind – Victory to India. Ranjini Manian Editor-in-Chief To contact me directly, e-mail

Satyameva Jayate – Truth Alone Triumphs

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contents 20

10 Coffee & Conversation

Of Meanings and Metaphors

14 A-Z of INdia

Our cover image this month pays homage to Bapuji, as he was know fondly, Mahatma Gandhi. As India celebrates 64 years of Independence, this issue of Culturama brings together the old and the new of cultural elements that make India what she is. Cover Illustration Rajeev George Thomas

A Taste of Freedom

16 india on a platter

Uppity about Upma 20 Feature

India - Then & Now 52 Photo feature

38 Calendars

Chennai, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi

46 bursting the bubble

India 64


Editor-in-Chief Ranjini Manian business head susanna kurian Associate Editor Lakshmi Krupa Assistant editor Amreetha Janardhan creative head JayaKrishna Behera Associate Designer Prem Kumar Contributors satya Naageshwaran Advertising Chennai Anupama Raj, trishla jain Bengaluru mukundan T Delhi-NCR Preeti Bindra, Ruchika Srivastava Mumbai & Pune Farah Bakhshay, Ashish Chaulkar Advisory Committee Timeri N Murari, N Ram, Elaine Wood, James J Williams, G Venket Ram, Carmen HUTHOEFER-HEINRICH

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56 India & I


58 view from the top

51 office yoga


Raksha Bhandan

The Top Bunk

Running for life

50 India immersion centre 62 Holisitic living

Slow Down Your Mind

64 iSeries

iRead and iSee

66 space & the city


Mumbai/Pune Rustom Court, 2nd Floor, Dr. Annie Besant Road, Worli, Mumbai 400030. Tel.+91-22-66104191/2 E-mail:


Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi

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Published and owned by Ranjini Manian at #5, 3rd Main Road, Raja Annamalai Puram, Chennai – 600028 and printed by K Srinivasan of Srikals Graphics Pvt Ltd at #5, Balaji Nagar, 1st Street, Ekkattuthangal, Chennai – 600032. Editor: Ranjini Manian

54 Look who's in town

49 festivals of india

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Colours of Paradise


N e w s w o r t h y

Mother India

Letters to the Editor Dear Editor, I moved from Chennai to Canada four years ago to study. I now work here too. Even while I was in Chennai I was most fond of At a Glance. Now in this space far removed from home, I look forward to the e-version of Culturama every month. The colours, faces and words remind me of home.

On August 15, a billion people wake up with celebration on their minds and love in their hearts for India, which celebrates its independence from Britain every year on this special day. All over the country, flag hoisting ceremonies, parades and cultural events highlight the fervent patriotic sprit. In New Delhi, the capital city of India, the Prime Minister hoists the national flag at the historic Red Fort and delivers a nationally televised speech. However, the most sublime aspect of this celebration is that India’s Independence Day brings Indians of different religions, languages and socioeconomic statuses together in celebration of a country that fought with tremendous bravery for its freedom.

— Parvathi Muralidharan Dear Editor, Given the fact that there are a lot of expatriates here, both on business and pleasure, your magazine is a lifesaver! All my expat friends love your magazine; we picked it up at a cafe recently too. — Kenny Roger Moise Dear Editor, I came across Culturama magazine in a city store this month with the late MF Hussain and his works on the cover. The colour, culture and tradition that was splashed across your magazine was a refreshing change. I look forward to your upcoming editions! — Reshma Kurian


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La Libertad! Independence Day in many countries around the world sees the emergence of unique celebrations and a sense of patriotic unity among its citizens. In the United States, July 4 is celebrated with parades in the morning and fireworks at night, while each city is practically dyed red, white and blue. In Mexico, September 16 is a day full of fiestas, rodeos, and parades. For them, “Viva Mexico” it certainly is! And finally, in recent news, on July 10 2011, a new nation was born. After years of fighting and turmoil, South Sudan celebrated its Independence Day with parades, dances and of course, a football match!











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Of and

meanings    metaphors Cartoonist Keshav, as Venkataraghavan P. Keshav is known, straddles two completely different worlds. While one involves witty, black and white political commentary, the other simmers with colour, is steeped in ancient Indian culture and symbols – of stories that, he insists, represent not any one person or religion but a state of mind or an idea. Yet, in his world the two find common ground. Lakshmi Krupa joins him on a tour of his studio as he talks about his craft…

A stunning, large painting depicting every single story of Srimad Bhagavatam (a collection of stories about the life of Lord Vishnu, particularly his avatar Krishna) greets us at the studio of artist Keshav. A work of art in progress for three years now, it freezes a moment in each of the tales from the Bhagavatam to convey the central idea, such as Krishna dancing on the snake’s head! A pastiche of colours and cultural elements come together to create a canvas of grandeur. Born in Bengaluru and brought up in Hyderabad and Chennai, with no formal training in the arts, he started drawing even before he started writing his ABCs. He first started sketching with a Chennaibased vernacular magazine Ananda Vikatan. This sowed the seeds for his profession later, as a fulltime cartoonist of the national newspaper The Hindu. From banking to cartooning — it has indeed been a long, interesting journey for you. I have always had an immense interest in the arts but never learnt to paint or sketch formally. I hadn’t really intended on making cartooning my

profession but that’s exactly what happened thanks to the extensive work I did with Ananda Vikatan. During the December music season, I would visit many concerts and sketch the artistes in performance. When they perform, their expressions change almost every minute and to sketch them then, in a way that captures their individual mannerisms and contours in a recognisable manner, is a great challenge. I did this for 14 to 15 years. And from there to making political commentary your life! How did that happen? Is political cartooning as easy a career as it seems to others? Politics happened out of the blue. When I was working with IDBI (Industrial Development Bank of India Limited) an opportunity to work as a cartoonist presented itself. Although, initially, I was just a contributor, it soon became my full-time profession. My strength has always been sketching and drawing, but you always learn on the job – once I entered the political cartooning space I had to do my homework. The challenge that this job brings with it is that

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Our language is in the form of visuals and symbols, and one needs to draw a lakshman rekha (a boundary) and work within that space.

every visual tends to provoke someone or the other. Our language is in the form of visuals and symbols, and one needs to draw a lakshman rekha (a boundary) and work within that space. It also requires you to put yourself in the leaders’ position. is there an instance, a reaction to a sketch of yours, that you remember vividly? Almost every cartoon evokes some reaction or the other but one that has stayed with me is former Prime Minister Narasimha Rao’s. He was someone I took on at several occasions. yet, I remember his secretary making the time while in Chennai, looking for me, just to say hello and have a general discussion. It was indeed a very poignant moment and helped me realise the depth of the leader. your other avatar – that of an artist – can you tell us more about it? What is your art really about? It’s a kind of a paradox actually.

While one part of my job is commenting that tends to be on the negative side most often than not, the other, my art, is about admiration and positive elements. It is also where I get to experiment with techniques and different kinds of mediums. I started painting, with mythology as the basis and then realised that symbols from both my works, cartooning and art, matched. We have been listening to stories for long, and I think religion has been accorded more importance in these stories than the actual ideas they stand for. Once we get to know these ideas, peel down the layers and look, we understand what symbols mean and that puts the stories back in perspective. For instance, what does Krishna mean? He is the personification of an idea – that of happiness or Ananda. Just as liberty has found a form in the United States. This is what I deal with in my art now, the realm of ideas not as spoken about in scriptures but an unravelling

of the same. It requires one to read and re-read and remove layers of invented meanings. It is a continuous process. is there an artist whose work has left an impression on your work and style? There are two people whose art has moved me over the years. One is M. F. Hussain, who was a trendsetter in that his art was figurative. I learnt much from his works, about movement, lines and many other things. The other artist I admire is Ganesh Pyne. Of course, when I was growing up the access to literature I had was only about the masters of art such as Rembrandt, da Vinci and Michelangelo. as a profession, how rewarding is art to pursue? What are your words of advice to those who intend to make art their career? I come from a normal lower middle class family. Growing up, I had to use the white side of calendar pages to sketch. Paint and paper were expensive affairs and I started my career with Rs. 10 per joke I contributed to. The key is to persist. In this part of the country, especially, art is not given the place it deserves unless one manages to succeed monetarily at the same. One must watch people draw, observe and read more.

Keshav’s cartoons appear regularly in The Hindu. You can also catch his art at


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A to Z of India

susan PhiLiP

A TASTE OF FREEDOM AS IndIA CeleBRATeS The 64Th AnnIVeRSARY oF ITS IndePendenCe, heRe’S A quICk Round-uP oF The ConCePTS And The PeoPle Who WeRe CenTRe-STAGe duRInG The STIRRInG YeARS leAdInG uP To The ‘TRYST WITh deSTInY’:

ahimsa is a Sanskrit term meaning non-violence. it was one of the pillars of the Freedom Struggle spearheaded by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, referred to variously as the Mahatma (meaning Great Soul), Bapu (Father) or simply, Gandhiji. The non-violent, non-cooperation movement which won the country its independence from British colonial rule is perhaps india’s greatest contribution to the modern world. Martin Luther King Jr. took a leaf out of Gandhiji’s book in the Civil Rights Movement in the uSA, and so did Nelson Mandela, in South Africa.

freedom fighters – those who sacrificed their time, wealth, livelihoods, their very lives, for the cause of India’s freedom – are too numerous to name. Here’s a selective, random list of famous freedom fighters – the Rani of Jhansi, Bhagat Singh, V O Chidambaram, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, Moulana Azad, Aruna Asaf Ali, Jawaharlal Nehru, Madam Cama, Acharya Kirpalani, Sarojini Naidu, Subramaniya Bharati, Govind Vallabh Pant and C Rajagopalachari. Some ‘expats’ contributed their bit too, people like Annie Besant and C F Andrews. Memories of these and other leaders are kept alive in road names, buildings and statues, but there were thousands of unsung heroes and heroines too.

ina – the Indian National Army – was the brainchild of Subhash Chandra Bose, commonly called ‘Netaji’, meaning leader. He was a man who preferred direct action to the passivity of non-resistance. Working on the principle that any enemy of the British was a friend, he joined forces with the Japanese against the Allies in World War II, and the INA took the war into the British camp in an abortive bid to free India.


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khadi or homespun was at the heart of the Freedom Movement. Gandhiji’s guiding principle was selfsufficiency. He inspired the country to take to spinning its own yarn and weaving it into cloth, thus denying the British the economic supremacy gained by exporting cotton from India to feed spinning mills in England, and sending back finished products that cost the earth. Today, Khadi is gaining visibility as a fashion statement.

Lord mountbatten was the last Viceroy of India under British rule. He presided over the final days of the Raj, and tried to work out a compromise between the aspirations of the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League. Once partition became inevitable, he oversaw the handing over of power to the new governments of the sub-continent.

mohammed ali Jinnah spearheaded the Muslim League, which initially stood shoulder to shoulder with the Congress, claiming ‘Swaraj’ or the right of Indians to rule India. Later, the Muslim League’s path diverged, and Jinnah and his supporters held out for separate nationhood for the Muslims. Thus was born Pakistan.

Quit india was the call Gandhiji gave the British on August 8th, 1942. Taking the Independence Movement a scale higher, he called for a nation-wide civil disobedience movement. The aim – free India from British rule, or die in the attempt! The day is observed as ‘Kranti divas’ or Revolution day.

satyagraha is a portmanteau word, comprising ‘satya’ or truth, and ‘agraha’ or insistence upon. Gandhiji founded his Sabarmathi ashram to propagate the philosophy based on ‘Satyagraha’, which, he was convinced, was the universal solution for conflict of all types – political and personal. Some of the guiding principles of Satyagraha include devotion to truth, chastity, respect of all religions, fearlessness, and of course ‘ahimsa’, with which this list begins!

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India on a Platter

P u r n i m a a r a n g a n at h



The huMBle SouTh IndIAn uPMA GeTS An All-neW GlAMouRouS MAkeoVeR!

‘uPma’ is not a word you somehow think of to describe a US $100,000 winning dish. In thousands of Kannadiga homes, Upma aka Uppittu has been called 'gobbra' or `fertiliser’. Really? Upma made it to the top of the charts and won a staggering sum for India-born chef Floyd Cardoza at the Top Chef Masters contest in Los Angeles. South India reacted with: “you mean, Upma... our Upmaa, oh really?'' “How many thousands of items we make in India, and then they give the prize to this? Why, did no one make puri–alu or bisibele bhath in that contest? Or dosas? We can make dozens of types in that, even low-cal varieties,” “What will the world think of our country – that Upma is the best breakfast we can make?” The discussions and deliberations were long and vociferous. From its name to form, Upma is simplicity semolina’fied. Google throws close to a million results on searches, yet its etymology is salt and flour. Uppu and maavu. Only the ‘flour’ in this case, is rava, coarse in texture. Either derived from wheat or rice, in which case it would be called Akki tharee or Arisi ravai in Tamil. To make the most basic upma: roast a cup of rava in a pan till its raw smell is gone, and keep aside. In the same pan, heat a tablespoon of oil, sputter mustard seeds, curry leaves, a spoon each of Bengal gram and Urad dal, a few green chillies, a pinch of hing/asafoetida. Add the roasted rava, salt and water. Close it for a few minutes and let it simmer. Then, stir it and garnish with lots of grated coconut and green cilantro, squeeze in a dash of lime juice, till you can sense a pasty, and hopefully tasty upma. It can be hot and spicy with vegetables, with green peas only, plenty of cashews, with onions only, with no onions but tomatoes only (the permutation and combination of vegetables used is endless) with vermicelli, with new-age oats for the health aficionados, or grated corn (now Americans would have loved that as well!) or like Cardoz, "upma of semolina and mushroom". But Version 1.0 of Upma has been the staple in homes. Its brand image aside, upma is actually a boon for today’s fast-paced generation. And was quite a favourite with yesterday’s ‘fast’ generation too. It was the one-dish meal taught to all bachelors venturing out into the unknown world as emergency food rations and a quick fix for home sickness!


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Recipe Wild mushroom Upma Polenta with kokum and coconut milk By Chef Cardoz (4 servings) 2 cups cream of wheat 3 tbsp canola oil 1 tsp mustard seeds 1 tsp cumin 4 tbsp butter 2 tbsp shallots 1 tbsp ginger 1 tbsp chilli 3 cups chicken stock 3 cups coconut milk Salt and pepper, to taste Cilantro, as garnish Pea shoots, as garnish

Mushrooms 3 tbsp canola oil 1/2 cup oyster mushrooms 1/2 cup Maitake 1/2 cup king oyster mushrooms 2 shallots 1 chilli pepper 1 knob ginger Salt and pepper, to taste 2 tbsp butter 1/4 cup white port 1 tbsp cilantro, chopped

Method - Heat oil and cream of wheat and toast for 10 minutes on low heat. Remove from pan. - Heat oil mixture, then add mustard seeds and whisk until seeds pop. Add cumin and reserve.


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- Heat pan. Add spice, oil and butter. Add shallots, ginger, chillies, and cook for 2–4 minutes. Add cream of wheat and cook for 3–4 minutes. Add stock and coconut milk. Mix and cook. Simmer.

Mushrooms: • Heat oil in sauté pan. Add mushrooms and cook with lightly coloured sear. • Add butter, shallots, ginger and chili. • Deglaze with white port.

Quick Bytes ▪ Upma comes from the Tamil words uppu (salt) and maavu (flour). It is a South Indian dish and is eaten as both breakfast and an evening snack. ▪ Instead of rava, semolina is also used as a variant while making upma.

▪ In a pan, heat ghee (clarified butter) add chopped cashewnuts, curry leaves and mustard. Garnish the upma with this.

In the Kitchen To remove corn silk, dampen a toothbrush and brush downwards on the cob of corn. All strands should come off. Never hull strawberries till they have been washed, or else they will absorb too much water and become mushy. No whipped cream? Beat egg whites till stiff, then add one sliced banana per egg white and beat again till bananas are dissolved.

Seasonal Fruits Jackfruit Where: Almost all parts of Kerala and a few parts of Tamil Nadu, between March and June. What: It is rich in energy and dietary fibre and has no saturated fat or cholesterol. When: It turns a yellowishbrown from green when ripe. How: Both the fleshy part and the seeds are edible. The seed has to be cooked though.



TH E N Feature

t e a m C u Lt u r a m a

golden frames india’s independence ushered in, what is now called, the golden age of Indian cinema roughly between the 1940s and 1960s. A time that was marked by glorious frames that captured the story of a nation young, but a civilisation ancient. Of struggles and victories, of tragedies and love, a time when the idea of India was framed by makers of cinema with a rare depth and understanding of the human nature. In this poster tribute revisit some of the finest films to have ever been made‌


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C inema


now Feature

t e a m c u lt u r a m a

seventh art There was a time when many believed that mainstream Indian cinema was far outside the realm of critics. Baradwaj Rangan has been changing this perception over the past decade…

"I AM not so comfortable with the word critic,” Baradwaj Rangan begins as we meet to talk about his craft. “It is a very restrictive word. But I have always believed that any film comes with a value, something to discuss.” And it is this earnest belief in Indian cinema that led this engineer from BITS Pilani to first start blogging his views, and soon gather a readership of like-minded people. And it is this belief that earned him the National Film Award for Best Film Critic in the year 2006. “Writing about a film is like a travelogue. We may all have been to the same place but our travels, our own context might make us view the journey and later talk about it differently. Film is much like poetry too, in that sense,” he avers. Films from the West were always written and spoken about but many thought there was no merit in analysing Indian films. It was this mindset that Baradwaj, in a sense, changed. But then not anyone with a blog can talk cinema, he believes. “The democracy of the film as an institution leads people to believe that everyone can write about them. And this is true of other art forms too,” Baradwaj adds. Writing about film requires one to be familiar with the grammar of the medium; one must be deeply in touch with what’s happening and there needs to be a natural way of writing, nothing forced but something one can feel and sense with ease. “For a long time I just used to love reading about cinema and by the time I started writing about the films I was watching, I had developed an instinctive way of expressing,” he adds. Talking about cinema today in India, Baradwaj says, “It is heartening to see that when some filmmakers make something today, they leave their fingerprints behind. It is not a generic and run-of-the-mill film. Anurag Kashyap in Bollywood, for instance, and a Bala or a Selvaraghavan in Kollywood. Even if the film doesn’t work in some level for me, I find just the love and attention that is poured into some of these works compelling. It is the effort that makes one take notice.” Before he signs off, he adds, “Film is still a new medium. Literature, for instance, has been around for centuries and so we know what constitutes good literature. As a young form, that is expensive and time-consuming to create, cinema still has a long, long way to go.” Read Baradwaj Rangan's views on films at baradwajrangan.


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TH E N Feature


a n i n d i ta B a s u

To know Tagore is to know art that is at once, both nationalistic and forwardthinking…

the poet karma yogi

every time the national anthem is played in India, a brave nation stands upright to glorify the abstract figurehead that rules over the waves and crests of this vast country. Every time the national anthem is played in Bangladesh, a riverine nation celebrates its love of a golden landscape. Two countries, two anthems – one martial, the other emotional – both composed by Rabindranath Tagore, a man whose life and work embody the spirit of nationality in universality. The only poet from India to have ever won the Nobel Prize, Tagore's influence on the culture of his land is pervasive and deep-rooted. Children are put to bed by his lilting melodies, youngsters quote his verses during fierce political debates in their universities, random apartment blocks are named after his poem collections, and his songs glorifying the abstract and infinite God are sung at funerals and memorials. The paintings, etchings, sculptures and clay models created by him and his disciples at his Vishwabharati (World University) remain the benchmark against which artists today judge themselves by. For generations of people, culture begins and ends with Tagore. Born in 1861, a few years after the Mutiny, Tagore was the youngest child of a wealthy and landed family of 19th century Bengal. His education was irregular. He was home-schooled in his childhood and his family's attempts to get him a conventional education – first at St. Xavier’s College in Calcutta and later at the University College in London – failed. His experience with the extant educational system was what probably guided Tagore to found, in 1921, the Vishwabharati – a school and university that followed the ancient gurukula system (in that, students and teachers live together) with a syllabus and teaching method that was modern by the standards of the times – not only were


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there no ‘examinations’, students were encouraged to follow non-academic pursuits such as carpentry, weaving, painting and clay-modelling. The university remains true to its ideal of ‘concord of the East and West’; among its alumni is the Oscar winning Satyajit Ray and the Nobel Laureate economist Amartya Sen. Tagore's era was the time when the movement for independence of India from Britain was at its peak. When Bengal was partitioned in 1905, Tagore led a seething, teeming mass of protesting people to the banks of the Ganga where he oversaw a Raksha Bandhan ceremony – Hindus and Muslims tying a brotherhood band to the accompaniment of Tagore’s songs – incomparable in simplicity and inimitable in the melody of their tunes. The government had to rescind the Partition. Several years later, when Jallianwala Bagh happened, Tagore protested by renouncing his knighthood. Tagore, although deeply committed to the cause of an independent homeland, rejected the theory that everything British was bad. His novel Gora is about an Irish child orphaned during the Mutiny and brought up as the son of a chaste Hindu couple. In Ghare Baire and Char Adhyay, he criticised the violent terrorist movement in Bengal and the Swadeshi movement that saw the burning of British cloth – he disliked this waste in a country where people went naked. His death, on August 7, 1941, is deeply mourned. In his own words: One day when death will knock at your door What will you offer him? Oh, I will set before my guest the full vessel of my life --I'll never let him go with empty hands.




write to live


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Sharanya Manivannan

What does it mean to be a writer in India today? The age of Facebook, Twitter and blogs… A well-respected national magazine recently had three bestselling authors – all of whose works might, less than tactfully, be said to be to literature what fast food is to cuisine – beaming smartly from its cover. An equally well-respected book reviewer linked to the story online on Twitter, saying that it had made her grateful for her own departure from publishing (“at just the right time”, as she put it). Juxtaposed this way, the cover and the critic’s response serve as perfect foils. The paradox of Indian writing and publishing today, one could deduce from this illustration, is that the latter is booming because the former is fading. This isn’t entirely true. The ratio of badly written books to wellwritten ones that find their way onto shelves each year might be discrepant, but that doesn’t mean that there is no good writing being created. “Create” is the operative word – it is not exchangeable with the word “produce”, which is a far more market-oriented usage. I would like to believe that we are an intelligent and demanding readership, but because people get the governments, lovers and cultural scenes they deserve, I may have to concede otherwise. If the market is flooded with tripe, perhaps it is because we didn’t ask for better. Not of ourselves as writers, and not of ourselves as readers (or “consumers”, if you prefer). All this being said, however, there is one key factor that must be taken into account: India has become increasingly literate, as opposed to what it was just a hundred years ago. Quite simply, more people can read, and more people can type up the sentences they have strung together. If lousy books are a by-product, so what? They are a by-product of democracy and better pedagogy. To be a reader in India today is no longer a marker of privilege. Technology also makes for a significant difference: to be a writer in India today means, frankly, having many people you don’t know or don’t like (or whose works you don’t know or don’t like) on your Facebook friend list. But there is a positive side: no matter how godforsaken your physical location, as long as you have an Internet connection, you can get your work out into the world. In many ways, the Internet levels the playing field: getting your work into these magazines, unlike getting your foot in the door at a top publisher’s office, has almost nothing to do with networking or wiles, only the quality of the writing itself. By the same token, readers also have a greater plethora of choices: while it’s true that your average bookstore will only stock the kinds of titles that are backed by efficient distributors, new e-portals have opened in the past few years that offer everything from deep discounts to cash on delivery options, not to mention a far wider range of available titles. What hasn’t changed is this: the absolute intimacy and solitude with which one engages with literature, whether creating it or receiving it. Even in our time of instant gratification and short attention spans, that dedication – to completing a work once started, whether that means composing and chiselling a final draft or simply not switching tabs – remains paramount.. Sharanya Manivannan is a poet and writer, and can be found online at



then Feature

Jyoti Nair

music knows no boundaries With India’s independence came the Partition. And Partition changed the destinies of musicians across both sides of the border During the political struggle for independence, it seemed as though freedom itself would lead to fulfillment. However, as with everything that is brought to completion, there arises the beginning of something new. Political freedom cannot be divorced from traditions of art and philosophy. It cannot be separated from the art and music of India. In 1947, the Partition affected the destinies of many aspiring artists. Salamat Ali Nazakat Ali stayed in Pakistan, while Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Sahib chose to live in India. Iqbal Banu, whose deeply seductive voice presented the beautiful poetry of Faiz, made a name for himself in Pakistan, while Shamshad Begum and Suraiya made their mark in India. Mallika Tarrannum Noor Jahan migrated to Pakistan, Lata Mangeshkar had unparalleled success as a playback singer in India. Partition determined the destinies of so many. Noorjahan, who was a budding singer and actress in pre-Partition India, gave us immortal numbers, as a mature singer such as Mujse pehli si mohabbat mere mehboob na maang (Oh lover do not ask me for love any more/There are many other issues which are disturbing and need attention) from Faiz Ahmed Faiz .


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Across the border Iqbal Bano, likewise, rendered the most powerful nazm of our times also from the pen of Faiz, Hum dekhenge, lazim hai ke ham bhi dekhe geham dekhen ge (we will see; surely we will witness the fall of empires on the judgment day. And a day will come when none but the name of Allah will ring supreme). These are some of the immortal numbers that have stood the test of time and that are equally loved across the border. A Punjabi Muslim and a Punjabi Hindu from across the border share the same taste in food and music; this is also true of a Bengali Muslim from Dhaka and a Hindu from Kolkata. Reshma, with her lilting melodies and strong diction, has kept the people in India hooked to her songs. The coming of Mehdi Hassan and Ghulam Ali was looked upon as a shift of gears in style. From Nasrat Fateh Ali Khan to Shafqat Ali today, music from Pakistan has provided a link with the old, while still throbbing with the dynamism of the new generation – restless, eager and determined to catch up with the passion of the people all across the world. The rest is history. Today, elegant refinement is in sharp focus. Technology has bridged any gap that had remained between musically virile cultures. It is important to relive the nostalgia that the visit of Mallikaai Tarrannum Noorjahan brought to India. Lata Mangeshkar, the queen of melody in India, personally spread rose petals for Noorjahan to tread upon in 1982. It was a touching tribute from one who has stood alone at the top without any competition – all thanks to the Partition.

The the writer is a part of KM Music Conservatory, AR Rahman's school of Music & MusicTechnology



now Feature

Sanjeev T

Independence rocks! Guitarist/Singer Sanjeev T talks about the new MTV show Coke Studio and how it promises to revolutionise Indian music… Can you talk about the philosophy behind Coke Studio? The philosophy of Coke Studio is to showcase folk and indie artists of the country, to give them a platform they so well deserve. It began in Pakistan, and introduced the world to a wide range of Sufi artists on a world stage. MTV

intends to do the same with this musical extravaganza with its arrival in India. All the songs on Coke Studio are performed live with artists from many parts of our country, displaying true talent and the real sound of their music. Tell us about the experience of diversity – at the Coke Studio – the different kind of musicians it allows you to meet? Our country has a rich culture of artistes coming from so many different cultural backgrounds and schools of thought. From Tamil Nadu to Assam, Rajasthan to Maharashtra, this array beautifully comes together at Coke Studio. In the episode that I participated in, I was joined by Kailash Kher (Sufi/ Bollywood singer), Chinna Ponnu (Tamil Nadu), Shruthi Pathak (Mumbai) and Papaun (Assam). How has the experience been for you personally, as a musician? Personally, I’ve always enjoyed performing live, compared to recordings. Live music always presents instant surprises and connections within artists. The magic created on Coke Studio is one of a kind with talented musicians, producers and technicians involved. It is a revolutionary idea that inspires musicians to take up the hard road ahead in a career with music. Do you think the show has the potential to revolutionise the way we look at traditional musicians and music – balancing the old and the new? Traditional and folk music in India are sadly dying arts. Coke Studio has presented this traditional music in a contemporary format for a newer generation, keeping it alive and interesting. More so, putting it on a national and global platform. Les Lewis, the Musical Director of Coke studio, India, has done a great job in bringing different styles and genres of music fused into our traditions. Finally, can you tell us a bit more about yourself? When did you first start playing the guitar? And what are you currently working on? I am a full time Music Producer – Singer/Guitarist working from Chennai. I’ve been the lead guitarist for A. R. Rahman for the past five years, playing for his film projects and touring with him around the globe. I started playing the guitar when I was eight. Currently, I’ve just released my debut solo album ‘Free Will’. I’m also looking to becoming a music director for feature films and am reviewing a few offers from the Tamil movie industry. Listen to Sanjeev T’s music at


culturama | august 2011



then Feature

Pritham K. Chakravarthy

Under the Spotlight Take a walk back in history and re-visit the Indian theatre scenario back in the 60s

It is ironic that I am writing this on the eve of the Short & Sweet Theatre Festival, in which my daughter , Samyuktha P. C. is debuting as a director. When I debuted as an actor in the mid-60s with Shanthi Theatre, at the age of six, I would not have imagined that the bug that bit me then will continue into the next generation too. But, the kind of theatre my daughters were exposed to during their growing years was very different from what I understood as theatre then. There were two sabhas (halls) where I lived in Chennai. My family had a monthly membership in both. So, during weekends we would get our monthly share of Bharathanatyam, Carnatic music and two plays. I grew up on a steady diet of K. Balachander, S. V. Sahasarnamam, Poornam Vishwanathan, Y. G. Parthasarathy, Cho (some of the best playwrights of that time) and many others; in the later days those of Visu, comedies by S. Vee. Shekar and Crazy Mohan and many, many more. I’ll never forget the formal ‘maapillai azhaippu’ (inviting the groom into the wedding hall) that would be enacted during

Washingtonil Thirumanam around the hall. You will have to leave your seat and go join the party outside to watch the entire troupe trudging behind the ornate car with the groom in it! When I was six one of the groups needed a little girl of my age. My uncle was composing music for that play. He suggested my name. As the rehearsals were in my father’s club, my mother did not object. I still remember the first line I spoke on stage: “Appa, you have won 5,000 rupees in the lottery!” I can also recollect how the director wanted me to render those words; not the director’s name though. My fee was Rs 30. My mother let me have it. I was formally being trained in classical dance and music; but I do not think my parents envisioned ‘performance’ as a career option for their first born. They have no idea about the monster they let loose. When I think back on those days, when I used to be the only girl in class who spent her evening differently – not playing, or doing homework... That was great! I don’t think I let my classmates forget that either.

When I had a show the previous evening, I’d land up the next day in school with a thin rim of pink makeup still showing on my face—and the liberty of being able to give free tickets for your teachers and classmates cannot be matched. After this long run, my parents decided not to let me act on a regular basis. I had two years of hiatus till I came to Pre-University, when my uncle’s wife was acting in an ‘art’ film; Kudisai. They needed a young woman to play a health officer’s role. Jayabarathi, the director, chose to go ahead with me. It was through him I met Gnani and joined his group Pareeksha in 1979. This changed the course of my life forever. The theatre scene in Chennai has changed a lot since I began. Even my own engagement with it is now very different. More care is given to the process by groups like Perch, and that is excellent. The spaces to rehearse have changed as well. So many groups now looking at theatre as a viable option for a career is certainly heartening!

The writer is a playwright, director, performer and activist, with several national and international performances to her credit. 32

culturama | august 2011



Now Feature

Christina Priya Dhanuja

Curtain Call Vernacular alternative theatre is finding its feet in India, albeit with some inherent social issues…

I grew up with no appreciable fondness towards theatre. Many a time, it seemed like the most un-entertaining form of art anyone could create. And this was when my father was an aspiring theatre artiste himself. I must have been around ten when I first went to see my father perform in a Tamil play – pretty elaborate sets with 20-odd backdrops and numerous props. All men and just one woman. I must agree, that in spite of my earlier reservations, I remember this as being a fairly interesting experience. Not as much the story or plot, but the squeaky sounds of the backdrops falling, the sweat on the actors’ faces, the false tears, the lights! Oh, the lights were the best. White and yellow and Eastman, they were truly the ‘spotlights’. At the end of the show, the crowds rushed to shake hands with my father and his friends. And he, with much modesty thanked them all. I noticed the lone woman artiste standing far off waving a hurried ‘bye’ to all, rushing to leave. My father hurried to introduce her to us. She thanked us for coming but profusely apologised for not being able to stay. It was late, she said, very late. It was eight in the evening. Today, I feel like I know her. It’s as though I see her; sometimes in me, sometimes in my Tamil theatre girlfriends. While wanting to do theatre and be recognised as an actor is one thing, being a woman and to be accepted as an equal, in a group, is completely another. Many a time, it's the curfew part that strikes me as the starkest. The longer you stay, the lesser the chances of your family supporting you in this (ad) venture of yours And so, you hurry up. You finish rehearsals in a jiffy, you learn Tamil theatre in minutes, you quit day-long camps, and you never stay post-performance to thank the crowd. Sadly, the fact that we are an alternative and a non-commercial group seems to do little good. There is this constant tension with mainstream commercial groups, who perform with such talent and humour that the audience need never notice the stereotypes they sometimes espouse. I haven't lost hope though.; 8 p.m. has become 10 p.m. today. One woman has become more than two. Ideas and concepts more progressive; women characters lot more central! A few weeks back, a fairly new theatre group staged a play adopted from a short story by Bama – a Dalit feminist, whose narratives and stories brilliantly capture the essence and reality of Dalit women experiences in Tamil Nadu. Even better than the story and the performances were the actors themselves – transgenders, sex workers and professionals from the IT sector! Their breathtaking performance left us still, emotional and moved. Interestingly, their rehearsal timings were during the day, so the vulnerable would reach their homes safe. Perhaps, another ray of hope! Christina is a theatre artiste working with an amateur Tamil theatre group. She is also a technology intelligence analyst.

culturama | august 2011


d ance


then Feature

L a k s h m i V i s w a n at h a n

The Way We Were The writer (second from right) with Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi

A danseuse walks down memory lane and recollects what it was like to learn dance as a young girl in newly independent India… I started dancing even before I learnt to dance. My mother, a musician, used to sing and play the musical instrument, the ‘veena’… and whenever I heard those melodies I used to start dancing. This made my mother decide that I should learn Bharatanatyam. I was five years old. My dance teacher was a young girl of 20, named Kousalya, who had a way with kids. She came to our home every morning to teach me the basic steps of dance. To the surprise of the teacher, I was a very quick learner, and so an entire ‘Margam’ (a list of dances meant for a stage performance) was mine in just two years. A debut performance (Arangetram) was then seriously discussed by my parents. The prospect of wearing a made-to-order dance costume was just too exciting to describe in words. A peachy pink costume with a purple and gold border, with a brocaded blouse was tailored specially for me. The excitement of wearing it and dancing was overwhelming. First, there was a formal performance on a stage set up in our garden. A few guests were invited and I had a full orchestra accompanying my performance. I faced the lights quite confidently A few months later, one of the oldest auditoriums in Madras was booked – Rasika Ranjani Sabha – invitations were sent out, and my debut performance took place. When I later became a researcher of dance, I realised that the Chief Guest at my debut, E. Krishna Iyer, was in fact the pioneer who was responsible for the renaissance of Bharatanatyam. A child taking to dance was a new phenomenon and the rather conservative society of Madras had just begun to accept dance as an art, equal in every way to music. Dancing by temple dancers and courtesans had been the norm earlier Our school always celebrated national days with dance. Whether it was Independence Day or Republic Day, we danced in groups, sometimes even dressed in the colours of the flag! Children rarely went out at night. So it was absolutely thrilling for us to pile into a car to go out and see all the buildings like the Central Station, and the Rippon Buildings illuminated. I suppose the decade after India’s Independence had a patriotic fervor that cannot be matched. When the then Prime Minster Jawaharlal Nehru came to speak on the Marina, millions gathered to hear him. He was an icon of the new India and was extremely popular. And so, when just a year after my debut as a dancer I had an opportunity to perform in the presence of Jawaharlal Nehru in Delhi, at the Rashtrapathi Bhavan (the presidential mansion), it was like a dream! And then to be received by him in his home and introduced to children of my age (Rajiv and Sanjay Gandhi) was the icing on the cake! I don’t know if many dancers have a photograph with three prime ministers! For my mother and siblings too, this was an unforgettable event! With nostalgia, I might add … Dance in my childhood was like ‘play’! Fun and exciting! I have kept it that way all these years as a dancer! The writer is a dancer and author. Her latest book is Women of Pride-The Devadasi Heritage


culturama | august 2011

d ance


now Feature

a n i ta r at n a m

shall we


“You can talk out of the sides of your mouth but you cannot dance except with honesty. The body reveals all and your true character is seen when you move.” –— Martha Graham

THE legendary American modern dance icon Martha Graham made those remarks during her famous career. Ironically, her breakaway moment came when she decided that Oriental/India-inspired dancing practiced by her teachers Ted Shawn and Ruth St Denis was not for her. And so it is with many contemporary dancers in India. Trained in one or more of the many classical styles of dance, these men and women are carving new phrases of movement vocabulary, having departed from the formal framework of tradition. While Indian classical dance is steeped in the narrative mode and largely reflective of the ‘bhakti/sringara’ (devotion/ erotic love) motif, contemporary dance engages with the here and now. A craggy hillside, a large stone, a shard of porcelain, a nightmare, an abstract painting, all these can inform or stimulate contemporary dance. Often, the movements are drawn from classical, martial, yoga, meditative arts, gymnastics and life itself. Contemporary dance training centres in India are still very few and many are attempting to teach the Western model of floor work, rolls, tumbles, leaps and contact improvisation in an attempt to ‘liberate’ the Indian dancing body accustomed to the representative and iconographic modes of performance. Between all these efforts at arriving at a new language and a modern way of looking and doing, contemporary dance in India is

gaining momentum with the urban public. In fact, contemporary dance is an urban phenomenon, not having the reach and recognisable signifiers that classical dance has enjoyed for centuries. Like the perennial popularity of mythological serials, classical dance taps into those eternal values of love, loss, good and evil. Since contemporary dance reflects the here and now, it can be often provocative, disturbing and enigmatic When talking about contemporary dance we arrive at three different combinations of creation and construction. They are: Old form – New content; Old content – New form; New Content – New form. It is the third category that is the most challenging to follow. Each contemporary dance mandates starting with a clean slate. No prior poem or lyric in praise of any divine deity. No pre-arranged raga or tala or an existing pattern of rhythm to hold onto. You start with nothing. Just the empty space, the idea and your body. To trust your physical presence in silence is the best way to begin all choreography in contemporary dance. My own journey has been first as a classical dancer trained in Bharatanatyam, then as a rebel who shunned dance for 12 years while I worked as a TV producer in New York and then a new avatar as a contemporary dance-actor when I returned to India 18 years ago. The style of dance I now practice is called Neo Bharatam, a form that is the synergy of all my classical and meditative movement techniques, flavoured by my life experience as an Indian woman. To be a contemporary artiste in India is to challenge oneself everyday. The journey is long and lonely. The movement is as compelling as young India herself. Dynamic and fresh, contemporary dance is like a prism, reflecting and refracting the many flashes of life as we see and live it. The writer is a renowned contemporary dance-actor who has a Doctorate in Womens' Studies. She is an arts entrepreneur and is the founder-editor of the global dance portal culturama | august 2011



* Event details are correct at the time of printing. However, we encourage readers to call and reconfirm at the venues concerned. Numbers beside each event indicate the date. Events are divided into categories like film, music, etc. Addresses and phone numbers of venues and places mentioned are listed under Venues.

ART & EXHIBITION Paintings Sculpture and Photography August 1–25, 10.30a.m.–6.30 p.m. Gallery Sumukha brings you a group exhibition featuring Arun Kumar HG, Baiju Parthan, Iranna GR, Riyas Komu, Sudhanshu Sitar and Vivek Vilasini. Gallery Sumukha, 187 St Mary’s Road, Alwarpet. Contact 044 42112545 Satish Bhaisare August 1–13 Apparao Galleries is proud to present an exhibition of paintings with linear elements creating works that evoke sublime synchronised music. Acrylic on canvas. Apparao Galleries, Ground Floor, No 7, Wallace Gardens 3rd Street. Contact 044 28332226

Dance for Charity August 3, 6 p.m.–7.30 p.m. Anukha Singh cordially invites you to her solo Bharatnatyam performance. Proceeds will be donated to Karna Prayag Trust. Narada Gana Sabha Mini Hall, 254 TTK Road, Alwarpet. Contact Priya 044 24990024 Grave Decisions (German Film) August 3, 6 p.m. 11-year-old Sebastian learns that his mother died on his birthday, and blames himself for her death. The movie deals with the unusual methods by which the boy fights his feelings of guilt. Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan, No 4 Rutland Gate, 5th Street Contact 044 2833 1314 Remembering Christoph Schliengensief (German Film) August 21, 6.30 p.m. Christoph Schlingensief is remembered not merely as a great artist whose work stimulated, enriched and transcended so many boundaries but as, above all else, a figure of fun. Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan. No 4 Rutland Gate, 5th Street Contact 044 2833 1314 Birthday of Goethe (German Film) August 28, 6.30 p.m. Come join us at Goethe Institute to celebrate our birthday with a special screening of a German film. Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan.

ART & EXHIBITION Classical Shades August 1–7, 11 a.m.– 7 p.m. Prakrit Arts invites you to an art exhibition by Sadaanandan, a contemporary artist trained in Kerala murals. Prakrit Arts, # 102, Greenways Road Extension, R.A. Puram. Contact 044 42188989 38

culturama | august 2011

By Hand, From the Heart : One Show, Many Stories! August 13 and 14, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. The show is a display and sale of products, presented by various designers on art, design and lifestyle. Gallery Sri Parvati. Eldams Road. Alwarpet Contact 9176567018

WORKSHOPS & EVENTS funtY– 6 August 1– 31, 2 p.m.– 4 p.m. Theatre Y's six-month programme takes children through the basics of acting ,voice training and creative writing culminating in a popular public production in December. Ages 7 – 15 yrs. Contact 98840 70796 / 97 Summer Camp August, 10 a.m.–1 p.m. Story time, sing-along, drama and puzzles for 3- to 7-year-olds; Creative writing, chess and arts and crafts for 8-year-olds and above. Hansel & Gretel, 11 Jagadambal Street),T. Nagar. Contact 9840431549

WORKSHOPS & EVENTS Bollywood Dance and Zumba Classes August – all month Learn a variety of dance styles like Bollywood, Jive, Jazz, Pandemonium, Contemporary, Hip-hop and Freestyle or opt for the fitness Dancercise or Zumba classes. Wired Dance Studio, #8/20, Rutland Gate, 4th Street, Nungambakkam. Contact 9841373663/ 9884206080/ 42060030 Art Classes – Regular and Structured Courses August – all month With new course options and monthly activities, the Artspace will now be open seven days a week. Register soon for the Sunday sessions! Ilango’s Artspace Pvt Ltd, Sri Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall Building, No.7, Harrington Road, Chetpet. Contact 044 42664151

FOOD & SHOPPING Vimosha Private Collection August 4–5 The ever popular Vimonisha Private Collection brings a hint of new seasons’ chic and uber cool with their handpicked designer collection of fashion wear, jewellery and accessories with the Raksha Bandhan Special. Chola Sheraton, No 13 Cathedral Road, Gopalapuram. Contact 044 2811 0101 Vastra Utsav August 5–6, 10 a.m.– 8 p.m. Giving traditional motifs a contemporary twist is the annual exhibition-cum-sale by the friends of Dakshinachitra. Mayor Ramanathan Chettiar Centre, No 72/2, Santhome High Road , R A Puram Contact Rani Ananth 9840761624 Funky and Cute Rakhis August Discover funky and cute designs this season for the thread of love. Peek-a-boo patterns 1st Floor, Express Avenue Mall. Royapettah.


* Event details are correct at the time of printing. However, we encourage readers to call and reconfirm at the venues concerned. Numbers beside each event indicate the date. Events are divided into categories like film, music, etc. Addresses and phone numbers of venues and places mentioned are listed under Venues.

ART & EXHIBITION Colors & Hues August 1–31, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Stimulate your creative senses with a group show by artists Kanthraj N, Rima Ray and Rakesh Mandal. Third Eye Gallery, 2nd Floor, Yemlur Main Road. Contact 080 41640471 Recorder of Life, Beauty and Truth August 5, 10 a.m. Photography exhibition of moments captured by the Late T.S. Satyan Tasveer, The Gallery at SUA House, 26/1, Kasturba cross road. Contact Gaurav Jayaprakash at 9886451705

Documentary Film Festival August 5–6, 6 p.m.–8 p.m. 11 award-winning documentaries offer a selection of entries from the DOK Leipzig Film Festival along with other award-winning films from the Baltic States, China and India Max Muller Bhavan, 716 CMH Road Indiranagar 1st Stage

A Slice of Life August 2–28, 11 a.m. –6 p.m. The latest collection of South Sensations, JMS Mani‘s (Bengaluru) Laxman Aelay (Hyderabad) and Murugesan (Chennai) in a riot of colours. Veda Art Gallery, Palace View Building, No.1, Kumara Park West, Sampangirama Nagar. Contact 9845172881

DocEdge Screening Schedule August 5 Three Russian factory workers dream of a life better than endless days at the assembly line. Their pursuit of happiness forms the crux of the story . Max Muller Bhavan Pianomania — In Search of the Perfect Sound August 12 Explore and experience the search for perfect sound with pianists Lilian Franck and Robert Cibis. Max Muller Bhavan

WORKSHOPS & EVENTS Workshop on Stained Glass August 1–30, all day Workshops on genuine stained glass for adults and teenagers. Sale on genuine stained glass products such as lampshades, panels, etc. Glass crafters - The Stained Glass Studio, No. 3, 4th Cross, 2nd Stage Michaelpalya, Off 80 Feet Road, Indiranagar

FOOD & SHOPPING Classic Collins August 1–14, All day Refresh yourself with an array of classic Collins cocktail. From a traditional Tom or John to a contemporary kafir lime with vodka mix. The Oberoi, 37-39, M G Road Contact 080 2558 5858 Hennessey Discount August 1–20, 8 pm Visit Sports Bar & lounge for a special 25%discount on existing Hennessey. Le Meridian Hotel, No 28, Sankey Road Contact 080 2226 22 33 Twist — 'Saturday Sundowners' August 1–28, Evening An eclectic music style panning cross varied genres of upbeat music across reggae, classic rock and pop featuring popular favorites—Bob Marley, Eric Clapton, Tina Turner, Pink Floyd and The Eagles. ITC Gardenia, No1, Residency Road Contact 080 22119898


By George! by Naseeruddin Shah August 20, 7.30 p.m. 8.30 p.m. p.m.–8.30 Motley’s new production is a collection of three short pieces by George Bernard Shaw brought to you by the legendary Naseeruddin Shah. Chowdiah Memorial Hall, Gayatri Devi Park Extension, 16th Cross, Malleshwaram

Summer Camp August 1, 9 a.m.–12 p.m. Music, drawing, creative letter drawing, how to draw cartoons, poster making, greeting cards, stencilling collage work, spray painting and textile design. #528,14th cross, 27th Main, J P Nagar 1st Phase

Ghettokids August 26, 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Two Turkish-speaking Greek brothers come to Germany with their family. The consequences of their crimes and the intervention of the welfare officer and their school teacher make for an exciting and at times tragic story. Max Muller Bhavan

Bollywood Dance Workshop August 1–29, 12 p.m. Monday–Friday Bollywood Dance Workshop. Regular classes for adults. Augustusta Club, Brigade Gardenia, 7th Phase, J.P. Nagar. Contact 9845695015 Story Telling, Dreamscape Theatre August 6, 12.30 p.m.–1.30 p.m. The workshop for children is conducted by RJ and Theatre Artist Puja Goyal. Jumbo Kids, Banashankari 2nd Stage

Breakfast at Midnight August 1–28, 12 p.m.–2.30 p.m. Featuring legendary Indian signatures 'Gosht ki nihari with taftaan' , 'Hyderabadi murgh biryani' , 'Kheema baida parathas' and melt in your mouth Galoti kebabs. Served with piping hot chai. ITC Gardenia.


* Event details are correct at the time of printing. However, we encourage readers to call and reconfirm at the venues concerned. Numbers beside each event indicate the date. Events are divided into categories like film, music, etc. Addresses and phone numbers of venues and places mentioned are listed under Venues.

ART & EXHIBITION ‘Shona sculptures from Zimbabwe’ August 1-5 Group of Artists from Africa Open Palm Court Gallery, India Habitat Centre Melange August 1–7 Oil, acrylic and mixed media on canvas, water colours on papers Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi Contact 011 24682001–09, etn 2037, 2038

Anubhuti August 5, 7.30 p.m. Gurukul Centre of Performing Arts presents Anubhuti, an astonishing kathak dance performance by Deepak Aurora, followed by various group performances. Epicentre, Apparel House, Sector 44, Gurgaon Contact 0124 42715000

Limited edition serigraphs August 8–12 Silkscreen prints on paper by artists M. F. Hussain, S.H. Raza, K.G. Subramanyan, Jyoti Bhatt, Manu Parekh, and Madhvi Parekh ND T. Vaikuntam Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre

Zen of Photography by Achal Kumar August, Every Second and fourth Saturday Learn to capture the unnoticed, the unsaid, the untouched, and the unfelt through the lens of your camera, and make a difference! Only for IHC Members. Palm Court conference room, India Habitat Centre


Kitty Party Package August, 12 p.m.–3 p.m. Kitty parties are the place for all your gossip sessions, a place to flaunt your new outfit and showcase your creativity. LEVEL 2 offers a special package priced at Rs 899+taxes. Inclusive of amenities, snacks, welcome drinks and discounts. Radisson Blu Hotel, Sunder Vihar, Paschim Vihar, New Delhi Contact 011 46399999

Bharatanatyam margam August 19, 7.30 p.m. A traditional dance in the Tanjavur style, representing the Bhakti aspect in dance by H.B.Sahana, disciple of Saroja Vaidyanathan. Epicentre, Apparel House.

Oggi Sposi August 31, 6.30 p.m. Nicola, a promising cop from Puglia—with a past like that of Don Giovanni—decides to go ahead and marry the beautiful dAugusthter of the Ambassador of India. Can a conservative farmer, accept that his son has married a Hindu? Italian Embassy Cultural Centre.

Art Workshop by Rohit Kumar Sharma August 1–20, Saturday 2.30 p.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday 11.30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Don’t miss the last three weeks of this three-month workshop! Only for adult participants. Palm Court Conference Room, India Habitat Centre.

Spiritual Music August 13–18 Preeti Varma, Dr. Pushpa Dravid and Sangeeta Abhay. Acrylics and Oil on Canvas, Water colour and ink on Canvas. Open Palm Court Gallery,India Habitat Centre.

Success (Theatre) August 9, 7.30 p.m. Follow Rick Sterling through 70 minutes of real life; examine the choices he makes and the price he is willing to pay, for SUCCESS. Produced by Theatre MXT Milwaukee from Wisconsin, USA. Epicentre, Apparel House.

Agent Matrimoniale August 24, 6.30 p.m. and August 27, 2 p.m. Giovanni, a Sicilian man in Milan, is forced to go back to his home town when he loses his job. There he meets Filippo, who offers him a position in his business where they do anything to make their clients' dreams of love come true. Italian Embassy Cultural Centre, 50 - E, Chandragupta Marg, Chanakyapuri Contact 011 26871901/03/04


The Collectibles August 19–24 Krishen Khanna, Lalu Prasad Shaw, Laxma Goud, Laxman Aelay, Suhas Roy and T. Vaikuntam. Acrylics and Oil on Canvas, Water color and ink on Canvas Open Palm Court Gallery,India Habitat Centre. Exhibition of Manjit Bawa August 20–27 An exhibition of drawings, miniatures and oils presented by Vadehra Art Gallery. Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre. ‘Wings of Intentions’ August 25–31 Anil Kumar Goswami. Oil, acrylic on canvas & mixed media sculptures Open Palm Court Gallery,India Habitat Centre.

Amrapali Jewels Accessorise your wardrobe and add glamour to your look with our Indian Jewellery in precious and semi precious metal and stones. 39 Khan Market, New Delhi Contact 011 41752024 Wrap it Up Our beautiful selection of handmade paper and paper products adds a charming touch to your stationary or makes for the perfect gift for a loved one. Gift wrapping services also available 1, Hauz Khas Village. Contact 011 26968127 Ratan Textiles Explore India’s diversity as our designs and patterns travel to the hot, Rajasthani hand-block-print fabric and garments. 21-22 Meher Chand Market, Lodi Road Contact 011-24657600

culturama | august 2011


CALENDAR MUMBAI THEATRE & MUSIC Hiroshima Mon Amour Aug 17, 7 p.m. An acclaimed 1959 drama film directed by French film director Alain Resnais, it is the documentation of an intensely personal conversation between a French-Japanese couple about memory and forgetfulness. Prithvi Theatre, 20,Janki Kutir, Juhu Church Road. Contact 022 26149546 Sengadal the Dead Sea Aug 29, 7 p.m. A filmmaker, a fisherman and a social worker try hard to retain their sanity in a mad jumble where their personal lives are overrun by external events. A half-wit Sri Lankan Tamil sends lightning jolts of truth into the dark recesses of history. Prithvi Theatre

* Event details are correct at the time of printing. However, we encourage readers to call and reconfirm at the venues concerned. Numbers beside each event indicate the date. Events are divided into categories like film, music, etc. Addresses and phone numbers of venues and places mentioned are listed under Venues.

ART & EXHIBITION Graphic Art: The New Creative Paradigm Aug, all month, 8 a.m. Heavily influenced by Indian mythology, artist Abdul Rasheed uses graphic art to depict stories in Vimanika Comics, . Svenska Design Hotels,F 73/74, Oberoi Complex, Sab TV Road, Lokhandwala, Andheri West. Contact 022 4431 0000 Fieldnotes: Tomorrow Was Here Yesterday by: Jitish Kallat Aug, all month, 10 a.m.–10.30 a.m. Jitish Kallat along with the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum is pleased to present his second in a series of exhibitions challenging our perceptions of reality. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, 91A, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Road, Byculla Contact 022 2375 7943

Santoor Recital by Shivkumar Sharma Aug 24, 7 p.m. In this concert, Shivkumar Sharma will render special compositions to convey the message of peace and harmony. Tata Theatre, NCPA Marg and Dorabji Tata Road, Nariman Point Contact 022 6622 3737

Photography Exhibition – National Institute of Photography Aug 16–21, 12 p.m.–8 p.m. National Institute of Photography (NIP), in Dadar holds a photography exhibition every year to promote the work of its past and presents students. Primal Art Gallery, NCPA, Nariman Point

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Aerobic Classes Aug, 7a.m.–8a.m. and 7p.m.–8p.m Shape up with aerobic classes conducted by wellknown trainer at Women‘s Graduates Union every Monday to Friday Women’s Graduates Union, Sasoon Dock Cross Road, Colaba. Contact 98203 24162 Jazz Funk and Bollywood Masala Aug, 7 p.m.–8 p.m. Conducting Jazz Funk and Bollywood Masala dance workshops and classes. Includes technique training and choreography sessions. Stepz, The Ultimate Dance Experience, Girgaon Chowpatty Contact 98206 93216

Mexican Food Fiesta Aug 14, (Lunch: 12 p.m.–3 p.m., Dinner: 7 p.m.–11 p.m.) Taste traditional Mexican dishes like pollo ranchero, taco’s pescado, sopa-de-tortilla, quasadillas and more. Price per person: Rs. 513 (AI) Peninsula, 90 Feet Street, Sakinaka Junction, Andheri East Contact 022 2851 9191

WORKSHOPS & EVENTS Growing Old Is Bad Enough, Who Ordered Senility? By Prof. Sudipta Maiti Aug 7, 11 a.m. Why do dreadful brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s come with old age? Some of our proteins gang up and declare a mutiny. How far are scientists from quelling this mutiny? Let’s find out. Prithvi Theatre Parasailing Aug, All month If you're looking to get your adrenalin pumping, try parasailing this week! H20’s instructors have experience in over 5,000 flights. Cost Rs.1090. H20 Netaji Subhashchandra Bose Road, Chowpatty. Contact 022 23677546


Capoeira Class Aug, Children: 6p.m.–7p.m., Beginners: 7p.m.–8.30p.m. India’s first Capoeira group brings to you a Brazilian form of dance and martial art. S. S. Sahani School, 18th Road, Khar (W). Contact 98690 55371


ART & EXHIBITION Solo Exhibition by Laxma Goud Aug 10, 11 a.m.– 7 p.m. Goud displays his versatility over a range of mediums, from water colour, gouache, pastel and glass painting, to printmaking, stencil, drawing, and sculpture in bronze and terracotta. The Art Musling, No. 1, Admirality Building, Colaba Cross Lane, Colaba Contact 022 22163339


Dessert Special Aug 25, 12 p.m. – 11 p.m. Choose from ambrosial desserts like tira-mi-su, cassata Italiano, blue berry cheese cake, Philadelphia cheese cake, apple crumble and waffle tower. The Banyan Tree, Queens Mansion Building, BMB Gallery, Ground Floor, G. T. Marg, Fort. Contact 022 6510 9308 Chai and Pakoda Festival Aug, all month, 12 p.m. – 11 p.m. It’s that time of the year when the piping hot pakodas and chai are the most sought-after snacks. Try a variety of chais at Rs. 35 and pakodaspriced between Rs. 65 and Rs. 85. Tosa, Vile Parle East Appetizer Special Aug, all month Choose from delicious, mouth-watering starters like pan fried pok choy, Spinach and asparagus, lemon chilli crispy lotus stem, teriyaki cottage cheese and more. Zinc, Mathurdas Mills, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel

Bursting the Bubble

I a n W at k i n s o n



“We must be the change we wish to see.” — Mahatma Gandhi

When When India celebrates it official 64th year of Independence on August 15 this year, we should reflect on how the Republic of India, that rapidly accelerating dynamo of global business, a true powerhouse of industry sitting sharply on the leading edge of the world’s future, yet struggling to resolve internal political corruption and widening social inequalities, built itself over those 60 odd years from a neglected, abused and occupied colonial workhouse to become a leading player on the current global stage. Emerging as a global leader in industry, innovation and intellect does not come easy. Sure, the pro-colonial Indians still say, but look at the positive legacy that was left behind by the British colonisation … railways, legal system, language, administration and so on. Which are, of course still pivotal in India today. However, they carefully omit


culturama | august 2011

photos: ian watkinson

the systematic rape of India, the bonded labour created for the growth of opium, the control of the cotton trade, the control of salt, and countless other dreadful, inhumane abuses of the rights of the people of India. The symbol of Khadi still embodies the refusal of many Indians to capitulate to such draconian laws. But the British were not the first to try and colonise these lands – centuries of continued wars and invasions in the North by nomadic tribes from the central Asian plains leave a tailback of conquest upon conquest for millennia, long before the arrival of the Europeans in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. After the Turks and the Afghans swarmed in from the Western steppe lands came the Europeans by sea in their powerful ocean going ships with their paternalistic, warlike culture – pirates looking for gold, silver, rubies, silk, opium, spices and pearls, spreading their greed like a web across the vast subcontinent. So a land that was in essence many countries, a land of countless palaces and dhurbars, capitals of small kingdoms ruled by Rajas and Sultans, so many noble and unique subtle cultures with their differences in dress, diet and custom often united by the umbrella of similar religion. True, their wars were many, complex and brutal, but of little consequence compared to the total occupation that was to spread from the early 17th century to create the India ruled and monopolised by the British Raj. So when the British – bankrupt after WW II – finally lost control in India and left after years of imprisoning dissenters and political activists, they left a land no longer comprising many small, independent kingdoms and sultanates, but a land interconnected by rail, by the imposition of English language and law, by changes of a century and a half of rule by a Raj that could not be undone. In essence, one country, sadly and irrevocably overshadowed throughout the independence struggle by the issue of partition. On August 15, 1947, India gained independence – yet still it did not yet have a permanent constitution, its laws continued to be derived from the colonial Government of India Act of 1935, and the country was a still a British Dominion, with King

George VI as head of state and Earl Mountbatten, the ex-Viceroy of India, as Governor General. The Constitution of India replaced the Government of India Act 1935 as the governing document of India and was made effective on January 26, 1950. Then the ties were truly broken, and the Republic of India was born. The new Indian Constitution drew on laws of British Parliamentary democracy and the Constitution of the United States of America – it is the longest written constitution of any sovereign country in the world. Hence India’s Independence Day on August 15 celebrates its freedom from British rule, and Republic Day on January 26 celebrates the coming into force of its unique Constitution. Sixty-four years is a long time … but if we look at the history of the United States, after the wars of independence from the British fought in the late 18th century the fledgling America endured over a century of strife, poverty, internal dissent and civil war before stabilising into a true republic. A length of time the remarkably politically aware Founding Fathers probably never envisaged. Perhaps we are only now seeing the crystallisation of Independent India, after more than half a century of freedom. To quote Jawaharlal Nehru at the time of India’s Independence: “The future beckons to us. Whither do we go and what shall be our endeavour? To bring freedom and opportunity to the common man, to the peasants and workers of India; to fight and end poverty and ignorance and disease; to build up a prosperous, democratic and progressive nation, and to create social, economic and political institutions which will ensure justice and fullness of life to every man and woman. We have hard work ahead. There is no resting for any one of us till we redeem our pledge in full, till we make all the people of India what destiny intended them to be. We are citizens of a great country on the verge of bold advance, and we have to live up to that high standard. All of us, to whatever religion we may belong, are equally the children of India with equal rights, privileges and obligations.”

The writer is British and lives in Chennai. culturama | august 2011


Portrait of India Krishna - the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu - is considered to be the author of the Bhagavad Gita and in this image he is portrayed retrieving the four sacred books or Vedas from the depths of the ocean. Lord Krishna is often depicted as blue skinned, as his name literally translates to dark blue from the Sanskrit language. He is also shown as a baby with a pot of butter or in his classic pose – standing with one leg crossed in front of the other and hands raising a flute to his lips. This month the festival of Krishna Jayanthi commemorates the birth of the butter-thief god. Turn to the next page for more details on the festivities rejoicing the occasion.

Courtesy: ‘Art Heritage of India: A Collector’s Special’, published by ‘L&T - ECC & ECC Recreation Club’. 48

culturama | august 2011




Festivals of India



Celebrating diversity


Krishna Jayanthi Lord Krishna, one of the avatars of Vishnu, was symbolic of all things joyous and lived a happy, yet simple life. Defeating and destroying his enemies even as a toddler, he is considered to be one of the most supreme Gods, and hindus around india celebrate his birth on the day of Krishna Jayanthi or Janmashtami. A lavish array of sweets and food are prepared and offered to Krishna, before the devotees settle down to celebrate a grand feast. On this day, women use a rice-flour paste to draw a child’s footprints from the yard leading into the pooja room, denoting the God's entrance into the house. in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu it is a common sight to see an idol of the baby Krishna seated on a decorated mandapa (swing). Families with toddlers dress their little ones as the baby Lord Krishna and many photographs are taken to remember this kodak moment. in other parts of india, such as Maharashtra, the festival of Janmashtami is also called as Dahi Handi (literally translating to pot of curd). The handi containing buttermilk is tied high above the streets in different locations. A group of youngsters called Govinda pathak compete to break the pot by forming a human pyramid. Once broken, the buttermilk spills on them, symbolising achievement through teamwork. Krishna Jayanthi is celebrated eight days after Raksha Bandhan. Turn to Pg 50 to make your own rakhi.


Ramzan Also called Ramadan, it is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. The lunar calendar is based on the waxing and waning of the moon. during Ramzan, Muslims observe the fast of Ramzan between fajr (dawn) and maghrib (dusk). In the evenings, from August 1 to 30 in 2011, Muslims eat small meals and then visit friends and family – this is called Iftar. It is considered an important time of both worship and deliberation. It teaches people the virtue of patience and gives them a chance to soak up spirituality in a solemn and sincere manner. It ends with the celebration of the Eid ul-Fitr.

culturama | august 2011



t e a m C u Lt u r a m a


KN TTING 

yOu’ve celebrated Friendship day, Valentine’s day and even Father’s day or Mother’s day but have you ever celebrated a day commemorating the bond of love between brothers and sisters? Well, if you haven’t, then experience it for yourself this month as Indian siblings across the country celebrate their relationship on August 5. Known as Raksha Bandhan (‘Raksha’ meaning protection and ‘Bandhan’ meaning bond), it’s one of the most popular mid-year festivals of India marked by the sisters tying a decorated piece of holy thread on the wrists of their brothers and the brothers in turn promising to protect their sisters all through their lives. The decorated thread is called rakhi; so the festival is also referred to as Rakhi. The act of tying a band and the basic underlying philosophy of celebrating the bond of love in Raksha Bandhan is to a large extent similar to that of Friendship day, just that this festival is exclusively dedicated to siblings. On this day, brothers and sisters treat each other with traditional food and even exchange gifts. From branded retail stores to tiny humble local stores, the markets throng with colourful and elaborately decorated ethnic Rakhis at least one month before the day, priced anywhere from Re. 1 to Rs. 1,000! It is not mandatory that a rakhi must only be given to one’s own brother; it can even be given to any male whom a girl wants to ‘adopt’ as her brother. In fact, Indian history has many such records whereby Hindu women have asked for protection through the rakhi from men who were neither their brothers nor Hindus.




take 20–24 inches long silk thread strands in a bunch. if you want to make multi-coloured rakhis take silk threads of different colours.

tie a tight knot with a cotton thread on the one-fourth part of the thread bunch. now cut both ends, the 1/4 and 3/4 side of the silk threads with a pair of scissors. make sure the knot is really tight.

now hold the knot by one hand while the smaller side (1/4th) faces upwards and take the brush. Rub slowly and gently on these threads. Repeat this step until the silk threads turn fluffy and soft.

now we need to divide the other end into two strings. plait each set of strings and in the end make a knot.

you need 2 – 5 strands of silk thread a pair of scissors cotton thread to tie the knots a toothbrush with hard bristles optional – beads, golden thread, glitter and glue for decoration


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The final step is optional; it is to decorate the top part of the rakhi. you can place small or medium size circular colored foil and decorate it with beads, using glue to stick them. once it dries your rakhi is ready.


Yoga Declare Your

Independence How have you been settling for less? Declare your independence to the world by recharging with this invigorating stretch. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and arms resting by your sides. Slowly raise your arms up into the air as you take a full breath. When your arms are fully extended, interlock your arms and breathe again. Feel the strength in your entire body. Exhale slowly as you let your arms lower to your sides. Notice the increase in energy and power in your body. Repeat as often as desired.

Courtesy: Darrin Zeer “America’s relaxation expert!” –CNNwww.HappyYoga.ME culturama | august 2011


Photo Feature

A forgotten kingdom

colours of paradise Colours. Of every imaginable kind. From saffron, white, green and blue that define our very nation to a melange of million other hues, India is the home of shades aplenty. Some once said, "If you have seen colour, multiply it a hundred times and that is India." From the time we wake up until we rest, our interactions everyday occur with colour – be it the beautiful rangoli that Indian women draw or the holy sindoor they dot their foreheads with, everything begins and ends with colour in India. Every scene is brimming with a myriad shades. Every colour comes with symbolism. In these photographs clicked by expatriates in India, experience colour through their eyes, a refreshing new take on things we often tend to take for granted!


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culturama | august 2011






Paul and Christine Gaskin HR director, AMEAA, Serco Plc

Courtney Miller Business Student

my india, my COuntry A similarity is that you will find great people in both places. A dissimilarity is the definition of “family”—nuclear in the US and extended in India. my favOurite indian My friend, Priya, who has graciously been very direct with me as she helps me to learn how to live well in India. She has also helped me to acquire great shopping skills! my indian Cuisine II love all chaat items and how you can find them in easy to access stalls all over the city. Also, I have recently mastered the art of dosa making. my india insight I love how close knit families are here in India. I do not like the lack of public interest in keeping a building or park clean and attractive. my tiP tO india When interacting with Americans, forgive us if we are too talkative or ask too many questions—it is usually out of curiosity and not critique. Also, if you are meeting us for an appointment at 2pm, be there at 2pm. We like tight schedules!


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my india, my COuntry Our national passion for sport - India for cricket and the UK for football (or soccer for any Americans reading). The recent cricket world cup appeared to bring the Indian nation together and the win ignited street celebrations. We too love to follow our football teams with a passion and energy that takes over the topic of conversation for days. my favOurite indian Mahandra Singh dhoni the Indian cricket captain. He made a great call in the World Cup final to move himself up the batting order and steady the team, leading them on to victory. He appears to be a very modern, authentic and determined leader that young people can look up to. my indian Cuisine The variety of dishes from each region of India have really surprised us! They are all very different and yet have their own unique characteristics. On a recent trip, we fell in love with the traditional Goan food served on the beach. my india insight We love the energy and vibrancy of Bollywood dancing. Any party we have been to in India has been very enjoyable because everyone joins in the dancing. driving in Gurgaon is like a disney Roller Coaster ride. I would positively encourage a change in the road management system as it would save many unwanted and tragic. my tiP tO india We get frustrated by people who do not queue – Ha We get confused seeing headlights on our side of the road! We have chosen to be here because we like it.



So long, Poitu vaanga! The India Immersion Centre at Global Adjustments hosted a unique, traditional farewell for Andrew Simkin and wife Bess Simkin. Andrew is returning to the US after a successful stint in Chennai as the Consul General for Southern India. The event was attended by consuls of several nations and the ambassador of USA, Peter Burleigh. The farewell included a traditional blessing wishing that the Simkins receive all 16 treasures of life.

Dr. Nikolai Dobberstein

Partner & VP, A.T. Kearney Country, Germany my india, my COuntry Although I am married to an Indian, I sometimes wonder who the German is and who the Indian is in the family! On a more serious note, I enjoy the strong family values and bonds on the Indian side of my family, which is so different from my German background. my favOurite indian The ancient Indian astronomer, Aryabhata, who discovered the number “zero” – and unwillingly created a lot of irrationality in mathematics. my indian Cuisine Pav Bhaji from Swati in Mumbai and Rava Onion dosa from any good South Indian restaurant. Indian wine, however, still has a long way to go and I have been waiting for the past 15 years! my india insight Clear likes: Culture and diversity, colours and vibrancy, intellect and drive. Clear dislikes: Manners in public (e.g., you can barely get out of an elevator and I try not to grumble but to behave better myself.). my tiP tO india I have been out of Germany for nearly 20 years, so that is a tough one. Maybe, that Germans can be funny and social, too! I know, my wife seems to disagree.

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India and I

Bogusia Sipiora

Photo: Ricky Wong

Delhi chilly Winter in Delhi smells of warm peanuts packed in bags made out of newspapers that give surprising warmth to one’s hands and tastes unique


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Photo: dany haim

I come from a country where winter is associated with white snow and frost more than anything else. I remember the winters of my childhood reaching temperatures of 30° Celsius and the schools being closed, with the roads completely covered with snow drifts. This, of course, was most satisfying to the children, giving them additional free time to play on the snow following which we would come back to our heated homes where hot tea with honey and lemon used to be served (when we grew up rum replaced honey and lemon in tea). The white landscape is still fresh in my mind whenever I think about winter. However, I came to know that in different parts of the world, people associate winter with different features. Like Delhi. Even though newspaper headlines say: Delhi shivers from cold or Delhi experiences winter chill, I would say that it is the most friendly season for

outdoor activities as the temperature drops to a very bearable level. Winter awakens plants, trees and people to use the opportunity and spend a lot of time outside, unlike during the summer. Delhi offers a great number of well-maintained parks within the city, which oxygenates the city. Otherwise, the smog, which is also a permanent aspect of the city, would eat all of us. In Delhi, the city once ruled by great Mughal emperors, the charm of history is still felt if only one can find time to discover it. The taste of these can be best recognised in winter, which unfortunately does not last too long. I usually go to the most well-known and most-visited park, Lodhi Gardens, which hides buildings from the era of the Delhi Sultanate. Once called Lady Wellington Park, it is an oasis in the middle of Delhi, popular for health freaks and lovelorn couples with its spiral-shaped lake, a Glass House and a National Bonsai Park. Lodhi Gardens is one of the few places left in Delhi where you can hear the chirping of the birds and catch a whiff of fresh breeze. There is another park I really like in winter, where comrade Lenin is looking into space. Even though the era of communism has passed and the Russian government has buried Lenin in Moscow, the statue still stands in Nehru Park and nobody really feels like bidding adieu to it. Nehru Park

is popular with picnickers as well as young courting couples of the city and fitness enthusiasts. It is also a space where great music concerts and performances are held. I always feel like enhancing my senses in the Garden of Five Senses. In this mysterious place, one can indulge all of their senses. You can see, hear, smell, touch and taste Nature around you. There is a main garden Khas Bagh, designed on the pattern of Mughal gardens, filled with fountains fitted with modern colorful lightings. The spiral walkway leads to the food and shopping court. There are numerous wind chimes that add to the ambience with their sound, and 25 different sculptures and murals by popular craftsmen. The peak of winter in Delhi, which comes in January, allows ones to indulge the senses for a longer period as all the plants and trees are in their best growing phase. For me, winter in Delhi smells of warm peanuts packed in bags made out of newspapers that give surprising warmth to one’s hands and tastes unique. And it smells of Indian chai brewed with aromatic spices, milk and sugar turning it into something sweet and comforting on a cold, cold day. The bonhomie of Delhi’s winter lasts for about two months and then again the summer comes burning the world around.

The writer is Polish and has been living in Delhi for four years. culturama | august 2011


View from the Top

B u n k e r Ro y

the top bunk

How is India handling matters such as forest conservation in the midst of being a growing and developing economy and nation of over a billion? India is compromising on matters relating to forest conservation. The political compulsions are influencing decisions that would eventually, gradually but sadly, inevitably, make a mockery of all the efforts in forest conservation. The tribals and the indigenous people living off the forests are going to lose out. We are unable to take a strong stand on what we say we believe – that the people living in and off the produce of the forests must be consulted on all matters affecting their livelihoods, their culture,


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their lifestyle, their very survival. The government cannot even protect their own forests from being cut for business and commercial considerations and we talk about looking after the interests of the 'Aam Admi'. How did you strike upon the idea of using resource conservation techniques in providing relief to poverty-stricken areas? Common sense. Improve the quality of life of the poor in rural India and very few will migrate to the cities looking for jobs. Neglect the rural areas and you will have a crisis on your hands. We have forgotten Mahatma Gandhi’s simple message. Identify traditional knowledge and skills prevalent in the rural areas,

Bunker Roy, who set up Barefoot College, was named one the 100 most influential people in the world in the year 2010 by Time magazine. He talks to Amreetha Janardhan about the transformation in rural India and elsewhere in the developing world that he’s spearheading…

which are dying because they are being lost through migration to the cities. Upgrade these practical skills and use them for the development of the rural communities. There is no need to bring unnecessary urban-based paperqualified skills into the rural areas. There can never be an urban solution to a rural problem. The rural solutions are there within the communities, but we do not have the patience, the tolerance, the compassion and the willingness to listen or learn from our own people. This is a tragedy. What are the difficulties and ground realities in implementing such projects in rural areas? Mark Twain said, ‘Never let school

interfere with your education’. We have so-called educated people with fancy paper degrees who have no idea of the ground realities in the rural areas. Never been there and never lived there and never experienced for themselves the poverty, the destitution and the despair, and they are planning for millions of people!!!! The difficulty about implementing innovative projects comes not from meeting and working with poor families and involving them in the change process but from these policy makers who cannot think outside the box. They have no idea of how to bring about fundamental change, so the gap between the rich and the poor will widen. They talk jargon when what is urgently needed is action, trying innovative ideas that change mindset on a large scale on a war footing. Barefoot solar engineers have made news, training women from Africa and enabling solar-powered households. As this is being replicated in 24 other countries, what reaction is this project receiving from the people there? Amazing reaction. The President of Sierra Leone is building the first fully solar electrified Barefoot Training Centre where 150 illiterate rural grandmothers are going to be trained as solar

engineers. The Ministry of External Affairs is considering a proposal to scale up and replicate the barefoot model all over Africa. UNWOMEN is entering into a global agreement to spread the model into Liberia, DRC, Benin and the Pacific Islands. Everywhere, the response to this South– South community-based bottom-up approach of training grandmothers to be solar engineers has been fantastic. Coexisting with Nature has always been a way of life in India. Over time what has hindered India’s future of maintaining this harmony? This way of life coexisting with Nature used to be a way of life in India but that equation is fast disappearing. In rural Bharat, this way of life can still be found but not in urban India. The poor still respect the sun and the wind, and do not waste water like we do in the urban areas. The poor still respect the land and the earth that give them food and livelihood. This respect is totally missing in urban India. How can we contribute or make a difference to Barefoot College? You can contribute and make a difference by widely publicising this alternative model of development that is community-based and bottom-up. Where is it written that just because you cannot read or write you cannot be an architect or an engineer or work on computers or be a designer or a communicator? This is a myth the College has demonstrated is not true. The Barefoot College has shown this alternative model has worked in practice. Let us see if the researcher, the policy maker, the development experts can make it work in theory.

culturama | august 2011


Cause and Effect

L a k s h m i K r u pa

Running for life

ORGANISED by the Citizens’ Run Trust for the 13th time, this year, the proceeds from the run to be held on August 7 will go to several NGOs…

The Citizens’ Run Trust, which has been organising a run every year, was started with the aim of getting people from across socioeconomic backgrounds to run for a cause and make a difference and a meaningful contribution to society. The run supports small voluntary nongovernmental organisations that are involved in working towards the welfare of the socially, economically and physically disadvantaged. The run covers a distance of approximately 8 to 10 km each year. This year, the run will start from Lady Wellington College, Kamarajar Salai, and will support four NGOS – Bhumi, Children’s Home of Hope, PCVC and Sakya Hostels. Bhumi Bhumi is one of India’s largest independent youth volunteer nonprofit organisations working amongst orphaned and underprivileged children in Chennai, Thiruvallur, Bengaluru

and Chandigarh, providing quality supplementary education. Children’s Home of Hope Children’s Home of Hope is a residential home for orphans, destitute children of single parents, and healthy children of leprosy parents. The home currently nurtures 99 children and also has an in-house primary school. PCVC Vidiyal was established by the International Foundation for Crime Prevention and Victim Care in 2003 at the Kilpauk Government Medical Hospital’s Burns Ward for Women and Children. Sakya Hostels Visduddhaloka Welfare Association, the organisation that has been running the Sakya Hostels in Manali New Town for five years now, provides a good environment for the educational development and advancement of children from the tsunami-hit regions of coastal Tamil Nadu.

Be the change! • Proceeds from the Citizen’s Run will help support these NGOs. • Participate in the run organised by Citizens Run Trust Run. It will start at 4 p.m. from Lady Wellington College, Kamarajar Salai, Chennai and conclude at 5.30 p.m. after which an hour-long entertainment programme will be held. • Buy T Shirts, the proceeds from which will help raise funds and will let school children run on your behalf.

Citizen's Run Trust, 10, Raja Krishna Road, Teynampet, Chennai – 600018. Phone: 044- 24330164. Email: 60

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Holistic Living

e k n at h e s w a r a n

slow down your Mind An unhurried mind brings the capacity to make wise choices every day – choices of how we use our time, of where we place our resources and our love


culturama | august 2011

photo: Jennifer Gillian

In India, I had the privilege of meeting a Sufi teacher whose name is known around the world today: Meher Baba. The key to his message was expressed in simple, memorable words: “A mind that is fast is sick. A mind that is slow is sound. A mind that is still is divine.” This quiet statement, so apparently out of step with the modern world, is not only wise but extremely practical. To make it intelligible, I like to compare the mind with something familiar: television. Imagine your mind as a kind of television with thoughts constantly changing channels. In this case, however, the remote control device is out of your hands – the mind changes channels on its own. When a thought succeeds in holding your attention, your mind is settling on a particular show. But when you get speeded up, the mind is racing through splitsecond shots like a rock music video. Destructive thoughts like fear and anger tend to be fast. If we could see the mind when it is caught in such thoughts, we would see thoughts tumbling over each other so fast that we don’t know what we are thinking. That is why anger has such a dramatic effect on the body. The next time you get angry, check your vital signs; you will notice your breathing in a race with your heart. You breathe faster and faster, the heart beats faster and faster; stress hormones get pumped into your system to prepare you for fight or flight. When I see somebody in a fury, I see it as onethousandth of a heart attack. No amount of nutrition and exercise can protect us against the ravages of an untrained mind. The more we slow down the thinking process, the more control we have over our lives. That is why Meher Baba says a mind that is slow is sound. When your mind stops racing, it is naturally concentrated rather than distracted, naturally kind instead of rude, naturally loving instead of selfish. That is simply the dynamics of the mind. People who don’t easily get provoked, even when there is cause for provocation, don’t fly off the handle. It’s difficult to upset them, difficult to speed up their minds. They can stay calm in the midst of pressure, remain sensitive to the needs of all involved, see clearly, and act decisively. During a crisis – from a minor emergency at the office to a major earthquake – such people help everyone else to stay clearheaded. They are protecting not only

themselves from danger, but those around them too. The Buddha called this living intentionally. It is a way of life. Slowing down is not the goal; it is the means to an end. The goal is living in freedom – freedom from the pressures of hurry, from the distractions that fragment our time and creativity and love. Ultimately, it means living at the deepest level of our awareness. An unhurried mind brings the capacity to make wise choices every day – choices of how we use our time, of where we place our resources and our love. I am not just talking about avoiding the rat race, but about a life full of an artistic beauty – a life that has almost vanished from modern civilization, but is quite within the reach of everyone. In this, I believe, we do more than simply elevate our own personal lives. We begin to remake our civilization. We can begin to transform our global jungle into a real global village, where our children will remember naturally the needs of all the children on the face of the earth. This is our destiny. This is what we were all born for and what we have been looking for all of our lives, whatever else we have been seeking.

Join us every Saturday India Immersion Centre facilitates a weekly spiritual fellowship group following Easwaran’s Eight Point Programme of Meditation in Chennai. E-mail us for more information at contactiic@ and Lakshmi Menon at 9710947713.

Reprinted with permission from “The Goal of Meditation” (Blue Mountain, Spring 2009). Copyright 2009 by the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, PO Box 256, Tomales, CA 94971, Eknath Easwaran (1910–1999) founded the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation in 1961. The Center offers books and retreats based on the eight-point program of passage meditation that Easwaran developed, taught, and practiced. To learn more, visit

culturama | august 2011



i read

Book Freedom at Midnight Author Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins Price ` 375

i see

Film THE RISING: The Ballad of Mangal Pandey (2005) Director Ketan Mehta Language Hindi

Freedom at Midnight is an immensely readable account of the political climate surrounding Indian Independence in 1947. It begins with the arrival of Lord Mountbatten as the Viceroy of India in April 1947 and ends with the last British soldiers leaving Independent India in February 1948 through the Gateway of India to the strains of Auld Lang Syne. In this period of less than a year, Lord Mountbatten's task was to help ensure the transfer of power to reliable Indian hands. He did this by what the authors call Operation Seduction – using his immense charm to negotiate with leaders of various political factions to ensure the transition was smooth. However, as the book details, this was easier said than done. For one, the Viceroy had to keep the best interests of Britain at heart at all times. Then, there was the decision on the able hands in which to entrust India. The personalities that Mountbatten dealt with are portrayed in lucid detail. These include the individual idiosyncrasies, habits as well as unique challenges surmounted by leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhai Patel and Mohammad Ali Jinnah. The most critical matter of all was the drawing of the borders, made more difficult by the long standing discord between Hindus and Muslims. There was the core issue of partitioning a country on religious grounds which was bound to have repercussions not only on the lives and livelihoods of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs alike but also on the economies of India, Pakistan as well as what would soon become Bangladesh. While Mountbatten is a constant thread in the narrative, the book makes frequent forays into other, connected happenings. The lifestyles of the Indian royalty make for fascinating reading. The plot to assassinate Gandhi is described in great detail. The violence between Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs is captured in many first-person accounts in graphic depth. There are heart-rending tales of common men and women, like the Sikh, Boota Singh and his Muslim wife, Zenib, who were tragically separated at the time of Partition. — By Saritha Rao

The movie dramatises the incidents surrounding the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, through the eyes of Captain William Gordon (Toby Stephens).Mangal Pandey is a sepoy, a native soldier in the service of the East India Company, stationed in Barrackpore. One day, Pandey learns that the cartridges that the sepoys will chew off while loading the new Enfield rifles are rumoured to be coated with animal fat. Ingestion of cow fat is considered sacrilege among Hindu Brahmins and coming in contact with pig fat is a desecration according to the Muslim faith. Captain Gordon, with whom Pandey shares a strong bond of friendship, assures the sepoys that the cartridges are free of animal fat. Pandey believes him and uses the rifle. When the truth emerges, Pandey is distraught. On the one hand, he has been defiled. On the other, he presumes that Gordon has deceived the sepoys. Their friendship is tested when Pandey instigates the other sepoys to rise in revolt against the Company. The sepoys, numbering 300,000 across different barracks, plot a simultaneous revolt to overpower the mere 40,000 British soldiers stationed on Indian soil. The Company foils these plans by bringing in back-up in the form of the Rangoon regiment. Pandey leads the revolt at Barrackpore anyway. The sepoys are outnumbered. Pandey is captured. Captain Gordon regards himself inadvertently responsible for the situation. But Pandey assures him that the Indian freedom movement, rapidly gaining in strength, is independent of any sentiments about the cartridges. Pandey is executed in public and the movement spreads to other parts of India, ultimately leading to India's Independence 90 years after the incident. Some creative license has been used, including the characters of Captain Gordon, the widow Jwala (Amisha Patel) rescued by Gordon and the prostitute Heera (Rani Mukherjee) whom Pandey falls in love with. — By Saritha Rao

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culturama | august 2011

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culturama | august 2011

Culturama August 2011  

The August issue of Culturama celebrates the spirit of India. The India that is and the India that was. A nation young and a civilisation ol...

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