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VOLUME 1, iSSUE 10 December 2010

Previously known as At A Glance – Understanding India

first class! Showcasing the best of Beautiful India

D e a r

R e a d e r s

THERE is a kind of quiet buzz all over the world...about India. I went on a fascinating India road show for KPMG – one of the world’s big Audit, Tax and Advisory firms – to give their clients an insight into Doing Business in India. Luxembourg, Stuttgart and Zurich featured on my itinerary and Zurich, with its view from the top (literally and figuratively), took my breath away! And it is an “India matters” view. At Zurich, the interest in India business is at an all time peak. The talk on understanding India was held in the Hotel Baur au Lac’s prestigious Men Only club. The Manager, Elizabeth, (yes, an efficient woman runs this men only club!), speaks in hushed tones about her club’s ambience being preserved and the formality of attire bringing in a je ne sais quoi to board meetings. And here I am, a sari-clad lady from India, holding forth! The top brass participate, listen attentively, laugh at Indian jokes and ask a range of questions – How can we hire in India? What is the red tapism like? Why is an Indian reluctant to relocate even within India? How does religious or linguistic diversity impede business? All eager and wanting to know how to work with India effectively. After an exhilarating interaction, I walk towards the lobby and an elegant Indian man with a warm smile walks out of the elevator. Seeing a sari-clad woman, he strides over to ask, “What are you doing here?” “I am here to speak about Understanding India, to help Foreign Direct Investment succeed in our country,” I reply. “That is good, I do it a bit differently, I buy their companies!” he states. Ajit Gulabchand, Chairman and Managing Director, HCC, says the card he hands out to me from the pocket of his long overcoat. Hindustan Construction Corporation just bought Steiner, the second largest construction firm in Zurich! Once outside, I inhale the air by the flower clock on the lake. I walk along the tramway to Sprungli, the famous chocolatier, and order a hot chocolate. Even as the delicious, sweet warm liquid descends my throat, pride swells within me. So many lessons for us to learn and teach these days – India’s time has come! How fitting that I should realise this on a visit to Zurich, home to the precision clockmakers of the world. And how fitting that it is then reflected in the 600 odd photographs displayed in both the Chennai and Delhi Expatriate Photo Competitions held last month, each a testimony frozen in time that Beautiful India is here to stay. On that note, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our readers! Ranjini Manian Editor 2

culturama | december 2010

NZZ, Zurich's equivalent of the New York Times, interviews Ranjini Manian against the stunning Zurich backdrop. Read the interview online at

With a spirit that’s sincere and happiness that’s contagious, there’s no place that’s quite like India. As the year comes to a close, we capture India at her beautiful best with a special focus on the arts, including snapshots from Global Adjustments’ annual photo competition for expatriates and a December season special – all these and more illustrating an India that’s first class! Photograph: Antony Walker, UK Editor-in-Chief Ranjini Manian Managing Editor Praveena Shivram Associate Editor Poonam M Ganglani Contributions Kavitha Ramaswamy, saritha rao creative head JayaKrishna Behera Associate Designer P Lakshmikanthan E-version Jeyabal Rajasegaran Advertising Chennai Anupama Raj, Yuvarani Peter Bengaluru Shubha Seetharaman, Divya Vasan 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, Claire Clinton-Butler Chennai 5, 3rd Main Road, R. A. Puram, Chennai 600028, India. Telefax. +91-44-24617902 E-mail: Bengaluru 216, Prestige Center Point, Off Cunningham Road, 7, Edward Road, Bengaluru 560052. Tel.+91-80-41267152/41148540. E-mail: Delhi-NCR Level 4, Augusta Point, DLF Golf Course Road, Sector-53, Gurgaon - 122 002. Haryana. Tel.+91-124-435 4236. E-mail: Mumbai/Pune Rustom Court, 2nd Floor, Dr. Annie Besant Road, Worli, Mumbai 400030. Tel.+91-22-66104191/2 E-mail:

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 – 600097. Editor: Ranjini Manian


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N e w s w o r t h y

Himalayan Feat

Letters to the Editor Dear Editor,

THE Rubin Museum of Art, New York, a nonprofit cultural institution dedicated to preserving Himalayan art, is hosting its annual ‘Holidays in the Himalayas’ shopping festival between December 1 and 5, 2010. The event will sell a host of products procured directly from the artisans of the Himalayas and other Himalayan-inspired products made by Buddhist nuns in Dharamsala. Members of the RMA will receive a special 15% discount during the festival. Also, a part of the profits will be donated to charities helping the needy in the Himalayas.

“I think that Culturama is a great magazine with some fabulous content! I recently picked up one of the books you recommended in an earlier issue, ‘Being Indian’ by Pavan Varma.” — Douglas Kennedy, Fullbright Scholar in Chennai Dear Editor, “I meant to tell you how much I enjoy your editor's note each time. It is varied, informative, brilliant, original in the way it is conceived and presented, and sets the tone for your magazine. Well done! Keep it up!” — Jyoti Nair, Admin Manager, KM Music Conservatory, Dr. A R Rahman’s School of Music &Technology Dear Editor, “Even though I left India in July this year, I look forward to receiving your monthly magazine. I thoroughly enjoy reading it. You do fabulous work!” — Lynn E. Lewis, US Embassy, New Delhi

Send your reader feedback to culturama@


culturama | december 2010

Arty Facts THREE Indian forms of performing arts, Mudiyettu, belonging to Kerala, Chhau, belonging to the North East and Kalbelia, belonging to Rajasthan, have found a coveted place in the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This annual list of UNESCO puts the spotlights on performing arts, which are exceptional but need support to sustain further. After inclusion in the UNESCO list, it is mandatory for all the 132 countries supporting the UN to ensure that legal and financial measures are taken to reinstate the honourable status of these art forms.

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Weather Proof 6

culturama | december 2010

WHEN Mike Nithavrianakis, British Deputy High Commissioner, and Robert Swan OBE, the first man in history to walk to both the South and North Poles, enter the hushed ambience of the highly secure British Deputy High Commission residence, there is a tangible shift in the air. With faces flushed from the irrepressible Chennai heat and the untrammelled excitement of two Britons’ innocuous sense of humour, they seem far removed from the serious titles that append their names. But as Mike and Robert settle down with cups of coffee to discuss the issue of climate change, the resultant conversation reflects why they are who they are. Praveena Shivram listens in.

Robert: I never thought about climate change at all until I was walking to the North Pole in 1989 on April the 7th. We were 1,100 kms away from land and the ice cap of the North Pole, which is a frozen ocean, melted, four months before it was supposed to melt. And on that day I realised that climate change was a reality and I was stuck in the middle of it and we had a hell of a battle to stay alive and I think I took it seriously from then on because I saw it. Mike: I think for me it was probably during my last posting in Greece, in the summer of 2007, there were terrible forest fires, partly caused by people being silly and partly caused by Greece’s bone dry conditions. But those forest fires led to nearly 60 people being killed and because Greece is a country I was working and living in and also it is a country I love because my father is Greek it rammed it home to me that the world is changing. Robert: I personally think that people on the whole are now aware that there is something happening. I think where people fail or where we fail people is to give people a sense that they can do something, to give people hope. And both you and I have seen those things first hand and that’s why we are passionate about them. I think it would be wrong just to wait until everybody has seen it first hand. My main focus now is India and China, because that’s where the action is. And India and China must be the solution and not the problem. Now how that relates to policy and politics, and government and federal and state and all those things, well I think, Mike you are probably better equipped to answer that one.

Photo P srinivasan

culturama | december 2010


There is no way that India can’t grow. And it should grow double, triple, quadruple and how many ruples necessary, but we can’t triple and quadruple the impact

Mike: Well, I think, it’s not my job to tell India or Indians what they should do and how to deal with the effects of climate change. But actually, one of the advantages we have got in the developed world and in the UK is that we have made some mistakes along the way and we have learnt some lessons from that, so we are quite happy to share some of the successes and some of the areas where we have tried something and it failed spectacularly. So part of my work at a practical level, and I wouldn’t say at a strategic policy-making level, but on a operational level, is to work with all the various communities, whoever they are, to understand what makes the problem and to see what are the areas that the UK can help collectively to come up with some of the answers. We are all in this together and if we share the license and the best practice, we will succeed faster and better. Robert: I would add to that by saying we know worst, not we know best, because we have made some fundamentally selfish and stupid mistakes and I think its down to all of us to say how can we fast track India and China to be the solution and producing great technology – it’s a technological challenge this, there is no way that India can’t grow. And it should grow double, triple, quadruple and how many ruples necessary, but we can’t triple and quadruple the impact. That’s the real question. India should become the workshop of renewable energy technologies globally, make a stack load of money out of it, create millions of jobs out of it, create brand new cities, infrastructure, airports, all the things you’re gonna do, but do it in a way that leads the world and saves the world. Because if we get it wrong here in India and China, I guarantee you we will be swimming right where we are sitting here.


culturama | december 2010

Mike: When I arrived ten months ago, lots of private sector entities in India said to me when business people get together in Europe or North America, climate change is one of the things they will talk about and in India it’s not even in the top five. And actually that’s changing. You can’t generalise, but I do think that India knows it has a responsible role to play. India is on a very different tangent and the developed world now understands better that India is still growing and they can’t put a year on

Mike: Absolutely. I also believe that a consistency of message across the country is important, because I think there’s still a lot of misunderstanding and it’s difficult in a country like India where so many languages are spoken. Robert: I would add to that and say that I think one of the most important things to do is to make sure that it is a positive educational message to young people in all areas of society in India. My son, who is 16, simply says to me, ‘Dad, we don’t need any more information on this. What we need is inspiration’. So I think it’s really important that in India, you don’t go down that same track. Young people get the issue, but they don’t know how to connect to it locally. Inspiration, connectivity, and also a sense of things being accessible for them. Very important. Mike: I think the advantage of being in India is that for every challenge you will also find the answers here. That’s why British doctors or teachers come here to India, because they are getting something they can’t get everyday of the week in their own field of work. They may be very skilled, very good, but they are getting a new skill by coming to a place

The advantage of India is that they have such diversity that they will be able to come up with some of the answers to deal with these challenges

when their emissions will peak and they can’t connect to compulsory emissions reductions, but India is starting to look at its resources in terms of it’s wind and solar, and it’s starting to look at how to bring all the actors together whether it is the private sector or civil society to deliver this. I think there is a momentum and it’s building up. Robert: I agree. Out of the top ten richest people in China today, five are in renewable energies. Why? Because it’s a lot cheaper and more effective. So I think in India people are starting definitely to see that this is a business strength too.

like India. Not just because of volume, but because of diversity, there is so much in this country that you cannot see unless you travel far and wide and that’s the advantage India has that they have such diversity that they will be able to come up with some of the answers to deal with these challenges. Robert: The one thing you don’t see in India is cynicism. I have not met anybody who has been cynical to me in the last two weeks and that gives me a lot of hope. It feels good to be here and hopeful, yes it’s a big challenge, but you know, we are all a part of that.

India Calling

A s h o k V i s w a n a th a n

Photo Ashok Viswanathan

Rock Solid As the Brihadeeswara temple in thanjavur celebrates its 1000-year history, we get a glimpse into this rare remnant of culture

IN THE sleepy town of Thanjavur in the heart of South India, the Brihadeeswara Temple stands tall and stoic, a silent symbol of resilience and ageless beauty. Built in 1010 AD by the famous South Indian monarch, Rajaraja Chola I, the temple completed a thousand years of existence this year, quietly withstanding countless battles against nature and time. An architectural gem, a repository of knowledge and a rare remnant of culture, it is little wonder then that the Brihadeeswara Temple is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. An imposing 216-feet high with the unique feature of being visible from any point in Thanjavur, the temple is as majestic in its structure as it is in its years. Devoted to the Hindu God of destruction, Lord Shiva, the temple tower welcomes the pious with a massive stone sculpture of the deity’s mount, Nandi the bull, carved out of a single rock, standing 16 feet long and 13 feet tall. The inner sanctum houses a shrine of Lord Shiva, along with exceptional sculptures and paintings discovered only a few decades ago. The entire temple structure

is carved out of granite stone, the first of its kind in world architecture. Not many know that the temple was originally christened ‘Rajarajeswaram’, meaning ‘the abode of the Lord of Rajaraja Chola.’ However, with the fall of the Chola Empire in the 13th century, the town of Thanjavur was rebuilt by Nayak and Maratha rulers who gave the temple its present name. Although stripped of its original title, the temple still speaks of its creator in its strategic conception, its meticulous detail and its valiant resistance against trials. But the temple has also imbibed the most endearing quality of Rajaraja Chola I. The king was well known in his time for having paid careful attention to the welfare and comfort of his people, spreading goodwill to all who came his way. Over a millennium’s existence, the Brihadeeswara Temple has welcomed countless kings, subjects and commoners across its threshold, offering to all the reassurance of its silence and fortitude.

The writer is a photographer capturing wonderful India images on culturama | december 2010


C u ltu re

P u s hp a C h a r i


Photo Gita Ram

SARI, the civilisational drape of Indian women, is a piece of living heritage, age unknown but definitely more than 1,000 years old. It carries within its folds evolving patterns of weave, texture, design, motif and colour, as well as the art forms, style and sensibilities of not just remote corners of the country but imprints of ‘outside’ craft cultures brought in by invaders and conquerors who made India their home. Banarasi, Dhakai, Patan Patola, Bandhini, Jamdani and Ajrakh are just a few of the fabled sari names, each with its own dis-


culturama | december 2010

tinct identity, reflective of the vast heterogeneity of weaves, motifs and colours which have come down to us through the centuries. However, in the past few decades, new trends, increased mobility, access to information and technology, have diffused, diluted and destroyed many of the ‘classic’ sari designs and traditions. Are the beautifully mellow Banarasis of yore, woven with flowers taken out of Mughal miniatures indeed a thing of the past? Is the gossammer thin ‘buti’-spattered Chanderi, the vegetable-dyed Dhakai, the fine muslin and the tribal weave indeed becoming part of history? Ramananda Basak is a Tanghail and Dhakai weaver from Fulia in West Bengal whose family has a recorded weaving tradition of 500 years. Fulia is a serene, pastoral district on the sprawling banks of the River Hooghly, where every hut has a pit loom weaving the legendary Tanghail sari. Weaver, conceptualiser, graph maker and designer, Basak has risen from near poverty to heading a unit of more than 200 weavers by the sheer brilliance of his talent. For ‘Kamala: A Classic Revival’, a unique exhibition organised by the Crafts Council of India (CCI), he has delved into the design language of 200to 300-year-old saris to create Khadi cotton saris which are a rare mingling of Dhakai and Tanghail. As Basak puts it, "The sari is unique in that it is Dhakai in design and Tangail in its quality of weave. I have used indigo for the sari which is pure classical Bengal in design." For many artisans like Basak, this exhibition is a platform that opens a window into India’s classic sari traditions, bringing alive a near-vanished textile past. The saris on view will reflect the synergy of CCI’s vision and the artisan’s creative genius in recreating and reviving the sari vocabulary of distinct regions gleaned from 100- to 300-year-old saris. There is a special emphasis on natural dyes made by age-old processes. On view at ‘Kamala: A Classic Revival’ are rare indigo Koraput tribal saris from Odisha, ‘bandhinis’ with rare motifs, an exquisite collection of block prints, muslins and Tanghails.

‘Kamala: A Classic Revival’ is on view at the Lalit Kala Akademi, Greams Road, Chennai, on December 16 and 17, 2010.

24 By City

S a r i th a R a o

Things to see and do in one day



in India, Eden Gardens, is right here. The nearby BBD Bagh, also known as Dalhousie Square was the administrative centre of the East India Company. The Writer's Building now houses the Secretariat of the West Bengal government. Ferry on the Hooghly For a local experience during the day, take a ferry between Belur and the Dakhineshwar Kali Temple. At dusk, take a motorised ferry along the Hooghly and watch the illumination of the two bridges – Rabindra Sethu (Howrah Bridge) and the Vidyasagar Sethu (New Hooghly Bridge). Shopping Chowringhee Road and New Market just off it are the places to go to for shopping of all kinds. Buy terracotta crafts, Bengal cotton saris and jute products. Be sure to bargain. Dakshinapan on Ghariahat Road has handicrafts and handlooms at government-approved rates. And do visit Dolly's for tea.

Kolkata is a city that is fiercely passionate about its rich heritage – both colonial and Indian. You will discover that there's more to the city than the infamous 'Black Hole' and Dominique Lapierre's 'City of Joy' Mother House The tomb of Mother Teresa is housed here along with a museum and an office of the Missionaries of Charity. The House is open between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. and again between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Closed on Thursdays. Phone: +91 33 2452277. Victoria Memorial Conceived by Lord Curzon as a tribute to Queen Victoria, this majestic building was completed in 1921. The must-sees at the museum are 'Company Drawings' of natural history, the Calcutta Gallery and paintings by the Daniells depicting Indian

landscapes. The gardens are open all days from 5:30 a.m. till 7 p.m. The Museum is open all days except Mondays and other public holidays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Maidan and About Stroll through Kolkata's verdant Maidan (open grounds) to spot some of the most fascinating architecture from the era of the British Raj, including Fort William, Shahid Minar (formerly known as the Ochterlony Monument), St. Paul's Cathedral and the Victoria Memorial. One of the oldest and largest cricket stadia

Dining Besides the usual tandoori and upmarket multi-cuisine restaurants, try the typical Bengali fare in restaurants like ‘6 Ballygunge Place’, ‘Oh Calcutta’ and ‘Kewpie's’. Inmates of the destitute home run by The All Bengal Women's Union create an authentic Bengali lunch for which their restaurant ‘Suruchi’ is renowned. Closed on weekends. Over cups of coffee, participate in spirited intellectual conversations (also locally called 'adda') at the famed India Coffee House near the University. For a relatively serene experience, head to Flury's on Park Street for tea and cake.

West Bengal Tourism Centre (Kolkata)

culturama | december 2010


India Inventions

Photo carina isaksson, sweden

circular charm ONE of the most popular accessories in India is the bangle, enchanting women with its glittering sparkles, chiming sounds, novel patterns and vibrant colours. However, this is not a recent phenomenon. This popular accessory made of gold, copper, bronze, silver, diamonds and glass has enamoured Indian women since the Vedic and post-Vedic ages. Archaeological evidence from the site of the Indus valley civilisation support the fact that women from ancient ages wore bangles as an ornamental accessory. A figurine of a dancing girl, wearing bangles on her left arm, has been excavated from Mohenjodaro (2600 BCE). Other early examples of bangles in India include copper samples from the excavations at Mahurjhari, soon followed by the decorated bangles belonging to the Mauryan empire (322– 185 BCE) and the gold bangle samples from the historic site of Taxila (6th century BCE). Decorated shell bangles have also been excavated from multiple Mauryan sites. Other features included copper rivets and gold-leaf inlay in some cases. To add to the ornate value of bangles, the medieval period introduced ritualistic beliefs by associating this piece of jewellery with the symbol of a married woman. Some traditional Indian ceremonies also use bangles as part of the ritual in decking the bride or mother-to-be, or offering them to guests as a sign of good luck. A lot of these customs are still intact and adhered to. However, the inexorable charm of bangles has successfully transcended the controversial barrier between tradition and fashion. Although it is for most part, linked to a married woman, it has not deterred the young, unmarried woman from adorning it!


culturama | december 2010


Om Sweet Om AN OBSERVANT visitor to India would notice the divine symbol ‘Om’ being traced out at various occasions. Whether outlined on a plate of husked rice at the beginning of a child’s education, displayed in temples or scrawled at the head of a written document, the symbol is omnipresent in everyday Indian life. Like most things in India, the symbol speaks far beyond its graphic outlines, with a significance deeply entrenched in Hindu philosophy. An insightful interpretation relates to an individual’s three states of consciousness, represented by the symbol’s three curves. The long lower curve links to the state of waking (jagrat), comprising the greater part of an individual’s life and guided by the earthy senses. The short upper curve relates to the state of ‘sleep’ (sushupti), during which the individual is above all material desires. The middle curve, fixed between the states of sleep and waking, represents the ‘dream’ state (swapna), which opens up a world behind the eyes. The dot symbolises the fourth, absolute state of consciousness (turiya), which we achieve by lifting ourselves above the three common states. It is in this state that we are in touch with our spiritual selves and comprehend the oneness of all beings. What separates us from this state are infinite illusions (maya), represented by the semi-circular divide, which we must surpass to reach our higher selves. Phonetically, ‘Om’ is split into three sounds ‘A’, ‘U’, ‘M’, extended to produce a serene chant. ‘A’, the first sound produced in any language, and ‘M’, the dominant sound produced when pursing the lips, begin and end the rhythmic chant. All other sounds are contained within the ‘U’ in between. During prayer and meditation, the three sounds are hummed for equal lengths of time followed by a calming silence, recalling us to our inner nature.


V R DEvika

street Surrender

culturama | december 2010


India’s thriving folk arts continue to enamour with its innate mysticism, and allure with its tangible charisma

Photo bindiya chugani, india

A THERUKOOTHU performance in progress... A remote little village near Kanchipuram. They are playing Ramayana, a rare event in the koothu genre, which mostly performs episodes from the Mahabharatha in its ritualistic performance repertoire. It was almost 2 a.m. when the pathos of Ravana learning about the debacle of his forces against Rama’s monkey army was being depicted by the versatile veteran, Munuswamy. The jester/narrator Kattaikaran (literally, binder of the spectacle) came in running to report how arrows shot by the Lankan army were being dissipated by the arrows shot by Rama and Lakshmana. In the middle of dialogues of high literary value and songs reinforced by the chorus, Ravana turned around and asked the Kattiakaran, “Did you see it all yourself or was it on CNN?” Traditional ritualistic performing arts live in the collective memory of actors and spectators, all the time connecting the world of mythology and current time. Therukoothu or Kattaikuttu, as the Kanchipuram Koothu Artists Association likes to be called, is the total theatre of Tamils that defines categorisation. Is it a play? Is it dance? Is it ritual? Is it a spectacle? It is all this rolled in one and more. It is the ritual of costume drama, dance and social commentary with craft and people’s participation in which the actor and the spectator become one. The outlines of a folk play do not have the organisation or the totality of structure that we find in an art play. It is simple and complex in all respects – structure, plot, theme and performance. The plot is usually a well-known local myth and the attitudes exhibited are all straightforward and familiar. What fascinates the audience is the improvisation by the actors. No two performances can be alike as the actor moves between the fixed dialogue and action and improvisation on them – the performance depends on the actor’s talent. An actor can enliven the performance by references to extra-textual myths. One comes across hundreds of forms of ritualistic dance and theatre in the rural areas along the length and breadth of India. Not just the countryside but in nooks and corners of the cities too (cities in India have grown over ancient villages) you will find several different kinds of performances. Since religious experience represents the highest life experience, all art has to have divine undertones. All folk performances are part of a ritual festival conducted in the name of the local deity. What do performing arts teach us? They work as message bearers of healing practices, political satire, aesthetics, ethics and cultural beliefs. They keep alive folk stories with the use of proverbs, rites of passage, riddles and tongue twisters. The ‘folk’ became emblematic of our ‘lost heritage’ and ‘authentic history’ that we were determined to reclaim from the British. A group of actors travels from village to village enacting plays. Any open house, village square, street or a mandapa can be their stage. They prop up a blanket to construct a stage and backstage and begin their performance – usually at night.


culturama | december 2010

The fascinating aspect of folk performances is that there is a certain unifying factor for performances of ritualistic and social nature all over the country, yet there are distinct differences in style in various regions. Even in a region, there are subtle differences of styles within smaller areas and communities. So folk performing arts become a distinct identity tool. Punjab has the vigorous Bhangra, Gujarat has the scintillating Garba and Dandiya Ras with the sticks, Assam has its lilting performances, Madhya Pradesh has the women moving together, hands linked to the beat, creating a serpentine movement, Kerala has wonderful rural ritualistic performances full of craft of unbelievable use of coconut leaves and banana and palm fronds. Tamil Nadu has its kummi of women and the dummy horse dance and the balancing of pots on the head called Karagam. The list is endless as you traverse around India. Many of these forms break the myth that rural arts are spontaneous, have little or no rules and are too simple. Try getting into one of those and then you realise they are structured and display the earthly smell of the region they come from. The movements reveal the nature of the people and their land.

The folk songs give ample scope to the people to express themselves. Women singing songs during the life cycle rituals or while doing chores of grinding, drawing water from the well or sowing seeds in the fields reveal an extraordinary repertoire of original poetry, making the bulk of folk songs a documentation of women’s feeling. There are songs for every occasion – lullabies, on a girl attaining puberty, marriage songs (different songs for different rituals in the wedding), baby shower (seemantham) of the pregnant woman, child birth, etc. There are abstract forms, narrative forms and there are isolated forms and total forms. All these forms live by each other and feed each other. It is a fascinating world out there to observe and participate in. Celebrating nature, relationships and the mystery of the unknown inspire extraordinary creativity in people to create forms of expressions involving movement, craft, literature, melody and participation. Even a routine performing activity in a small community affords undeniable proof of community consciousness. The activity naturally entails a dimension of close, intimate communication and communion. In small communities, the actors are part of the community and have foreknowledge of the audience. The performances then are not just a performance but a collective socio-political cultural context where individual choices are tempered with a genuine and profound respect for the community. It is a socio-cultural process and a message bearer with entertainment and religious consciousness. Stepping into a folk performance is like stepping into a home, an intimate space of the community.

The writer is a Gandhian philosopher. a cultural activist and educationist.

culturama | december 2010


India on a Platter

Poonam M ganglani

Sw eet Meets Despite historical challenges, the Parsi community has managed to reaffirm its identity, with a cuisine that merges the sweetest of Gujarati and Iranian flavours

AN OLD story goes that when the Parsi community arrived from Greater Iran in the 10th century AD, the then ruler of Gujarat, Jadi Rana, explained their situation to them in metaphorical terms: he brought before them a full glass of milk, indicating that the land was filled to the brim and offered no space for the new immigrants. A priest among them then stepped forward and blended a pinch of sugar into the milk. That, he said, would be the standing of the Parsis in Gujarat – they would blend into the new culture rather than displace it, sweetening its flavours rather than distorting them. If the community’s cuisine is testimony to its historical journey since then, one cannot help but admire the way the road has been paved. Faced with circumstances that could so easily have obscured their identity, the Parsis have instead managed to fuse the best of both their worlds, creating a distinct cuisine with its soul intact. While Gujarat’s coastal influence lends its tart elements of coconut, cumin, garlic and ginger, the hint of dry fruits and the full, yet even flavours, of the cuisine are unmistakable marks of its Iranian heritage. In the staunchly vegetarian state of Gujarat, the Parsi home would be the one exuding the juicy aromas of meat at every meal. At any given occasion, rice, yellow lentils and fish comprise the star trio on the Parsi menu, the latter perhaps reminiscent of their victorious battle with the sea. But the kingpin of Parsi cuisine is undoubtedly the celebrated dhansak, a special meat and lentil preparation served with brown


culturama | december 2010

onion rice, lamb kebabs and a diced onion-cucumber salad called kachubar. However, while the dish is sure to feature at special family dinners, it was originally conceived as a dish for mourning, fully replenishing the body after the period of grieving. For this reason, the dish, popular as it may be, is never a guest at an auspicious occasion. A wedding banquet for instance, is more likely to include the various other classics of Parsi cuisine. Among them would be sali boti, a spicy mutton stew tinged with sweet apricots and topped with crusty potato sticks. Another popular dish is patra ni machi or steamed fish blanketed in a banana leaf, slathered with a coconut, mint and coriander mixture. The community is especially known for its blatant love of potatoes and eggs, and the fluffy papeta par eeda, literally translating to ‘eggs on potatoes’ is the perfect combination of the two. For a community that draws on the analogy of sugar, desserts occupy a surprisingly modest place on the platter. After the ambitious main course, a special occasion is likely to feature sev, a vermicelli preparation dotted with raisins, or lagan-nu-custer, a baked custard dessert with nuts and caramel. But if the sweet component is limited in the literal sense, it is more than made up for symbolically by the Parsis — in their luscious love for food, in their harmonious blending of diverse food traditions and in their zesty celebration of identity through their cuisine.

Sali Boti (Mutton Stew with Potato Straws) Ingredients (serves 10)

Method (For the Potato Straws) 1. Finely julienne the potatoes and wash them, changing the water about five times. 2. Soak the potatoes in chilled salted water for about half an hour. 3. Drain the potatoes and pat them dry on a paper towel, then add in tamarind pulp. 4. Heat oil in a pan and fry the potatoes until light golden. 5. Drain, salt and keep them aside.

Method (For the Stew) 1. Marinate the meat in all the remaining ingredients, except apricots. Keep aside for an hour. 2. Heat 1/2 cup of oil in a pan and add the marinated meat. Stir fry for about 15 minutes till the mixture roasts well 3. Add 3 cups water and the apricots. Bring to a boil and simmer gently, covered for about 45 minutes until the meat is tender. 4. Turn out and serve, with the potato straws sprinkled on top. Chef’s Note: This recipe works equally well for chicken and is best made a day before it is served, for a more robust flavour. The potato straws can be stored for up to fifteen days, in an airtight plastic container.

‘I Cooked with the Chef’ event at Raintree Anna Salai, in association with Global Adjustments, with Olga Suikhonen from Serbia and South Indian actress Sonia Agarwal, accompanied by Chef Hushmoin Patell.

Quick Bytes

Photo & Recipe Courtesy The Raintree Anna Salai, Chennai

Mutton shanks or cubed mutton on the bone – 2 kg Onions ground to a paste – 10 Ginger-garlic paste – 2 tbsp Tomato puree – 2 cups Potatoes – 3 Yoghurt – 1 cup Chilli powder – 3 tbsp Turmeric powder – 1 tbsp Dhanshak masala powder – 1 tbsp Dried apricots – 200 gm Sugar – 4 tsp Salt – 3 tsp Oil as needed

▪ The Parsis are famous for their philanthropy, well reflected in the communal food distribution practice called ‘gambhars’. This is especially popular in Udvada, Gujarat, the central place of Parsi worship. ▪ Apart from cities in Gujarat, the Parsi population is concentrated further down the West Coast in Mumbai and Pune. Dhansak is prepared differently in all three regions and each would claim that theirs is top! ▪ The Parsi Club in Baroda, Surat, and most other cities of Gujarat would be a good destination for authentic Parsi food. While in Mumbai, head to Jimmy Boy’s or Brittania Café.

Special thanks to Chef Hushmoin Patell, Sr. Sous Chef at The Raintree Hotel, Anna Salai, Chennai, for sharing some fascinating and articulate insights into Parsi cuisine.

culturama | december 2010


View from the Top

Alicia Adams

indian summer

THE Kennedy Center for Performing arts and Global Adjustments seem to have a destiny that is closely linked. It was Joanne Grady Huskey, the Director of VSA at the Kennedy Center from a decade and half ago who came to India and co-founded with Ranjini Manian, Global Adjustments. Ranjini and Joanne revisit Kennedy Center on a windy fall morning in Washington DC, and speak live to Alicia Adams, VP, Kennedy Center, about the upcoming Maximum India festival in March 2011.

Having been involved with the Kennedy Center for close to two decades, what are some of the Center’s far-reaching impact in the world of arts and culture? I think the mission of the Kennedy Center is really to present on its stages the best in terms of the arts and also to provide arts education opportunities for students, for teachers, for adult learners. I think the by-product of that is the cultural diplomacy work that naturally evolves from it, especially because there is no ministry of culture or department of culture in the United States. I think arts and culture are the strongest tools that we have to bring people together. More and more people are understanding the meaning of arts and commerce, that the two go hand in hand and one doesn’t really do well without the other. You have been credited with producing international film festivals, and it’s now time for the Maximum India festival. Why India now and not earlier or later? Everybody thinks it’s a political decision we have made but we have really not and it’s absolutely random. It just so happens that India is on our schedule in March and it so happens that India is on the horizon in the world as well. With a country as diverse as India, how comprehensive is the Maximum India festival? The Kennedy Center has a long history of doing

international festivals and the reason that the center does these festivals is to show the diversity that exists within the American public, because we are a nation of immigrants, and also to show some of the best in arts and culture from around the world. So essentially, India will inhabit the Kennedy Center with all of its arts and culture. And what I do in terms of curating is one I visit the country and I go with really a blank slate. Even though I have now done these festivals for the last 15 years, I look forward to seeing, listening, learning and figuring out from the research, but also from the visit which gives me the context for the work. What will be the important elements, what will be most reflected and represented given the various art forms and the diversity that exist within those art forms, what will work well here at the Kennedy Center and how I can shape the choices into a festival event, coming up with a long list of potential artists and then I go from there. What do you hope people will take away from this festival on India? They will take away certainly the beauty and humanity that exists within India, the diversity of culture that is there. I was listening to Shabana Azmi last night, she’s been here doing her play and there was a reception at the Embassy, and what she was talking about was India as a composite culture, and I think that is so interesting, and I hope it is reflected in the Maximum India festival.

For more information, visit or write to 18

culturama | december 2010

Look who’s in Town


Stephen R. Magor




Bertsché Nicolas, Laure, Loane, Cléo and Nathan

General Manager, Hilton, Chennai My India, My Country Both British and Indians make excellent hosts and very strongly hold on to family values. We appreciate and have a rich heritage of literature and art, and we love to eat, particularly Indian food!. My Favourite Indian Sunil Mittal, the Chairman and MD of Bharati Enterprises. It’s amazing how a man with no background of running a business becomes the owner of the country’s biggest telecom company. My Indian Cuisine I am particularly fond of Konkan food. I also relish Tandoori chicken, properly marinated, well cooked, fresh and succulent. My India Insight What I really like about Indian culture is that every time I have been away and come back, friends treat me with the same warmth and familiarity. What concerns me is female infanticide. We can all contribute in some way to make things better. I, for one, contribute by giving equal employment opportunities to female candidates at the hotel. My Tip to India Punctuality really matters, so make sure you are always on time. British are known for their sense of humour, so always keep your sense of humour intact. Also, it would be great if you have some interest in sports. That does not mean just cricket!

My India, My Country In Switzerland, we only have fixed prices and everybody is paying the same price. It is much easier. Getting the best price for us foreigners is a hard work! We do have a lot of cows too…but more in the field than on the roads or highways! My Favourite Indian All the Indians we already met so far and who helped us to discover their country and ways of living…Thanks for their help and patience! My Indian Cuisine I really like gulab jamun and my husband likes kheer. Our children are big fans of naan bread and lassis… I recently discovered the delicious sweet potatoes cooked in the charcoal on the street. My India Insight I wish India could be less extreme. In the sense, you can easily give plans for a piece of furniture in a market and get it done in a couple of hours, but opening a bank account is a nightmare. My Tip to India Australians tend to be more straightforward in their dealings with people and treat others reasonably equally. The formal way in which we are often treated can actually make us feel uncomfortable even though we understand the Indian cultural underpinnings of this.

culturama | december 2010




Beth Chapman

President, The Overseas Women’s Club of Bangalore

My India, My Country Both India and the United States are blessed with a rich history of diversity. In India, this seems to be derived from an amazing range of traditions, languages and religions from within the country. In the States, our history is much newer. We are a country mostly made up of immigrants, after all. My Favourite Indian I admire many Indians. I am surrounded by generosity and touched by grace on a daily basis. My Indian Cuisine My sister decided to become a vegetarian in her early teens, so my mother looked to her Indian friends for advice. She began making dal every night and like a good Indian child, I prefer my mom’s dal to anything I have found in India! However, I love bitter gourd, the fresh potato chips at chaat shops and biryani cooked just right. My India Insight Like any Bangalorean, I really hate the traffic. If I could change anything I would wave my magic wand, get that public transportation system up and running, provide incentive for its use, and get cars off the roads Like any American, I love the cows. My Tip to India Generally, Americans are very straightforward. To some, this is offensive. Please understand that this is just how we communicate.


culturama | december 2010


film & Theatre 14 Little Theatre, 1830h

13 Experimental Theatre, 1900h

A Night at the Opera (B&W, 91 mins) Piano Recital Presented in collaboration with the In this NCPA presentation supported Enlighten Film Society, this 1935 laughby the Hungarian Information and athon is full of wall-to-wall gags, one Cultural Centre, New Delhi, the liners and musical riffs! Admission on a acclaimed pianist, Adrienne Hauser, first-come-first-served basis with preferwill give you an evening to remember. ential seating for members of NCPA and Hauser has appeared at the Chopin Enlighten Film Society. Festival in Poland, the International Bartók Festival, the Fazioli Festival and many others. Tickets are priced at Rs. 300 and Rs. 200. Box Office show: November 26 for members and November 29 for the public.

15 Experimental Theatre, 1930h

Pick of the month

English Play (135 mins) Winner of several awards and over 150 shows-old, Sammy is the incredible story of Mahatma Gandhi, told by an ensemble of actors. Imbued with Gandhi’s hallmark humour, the play traces the transformation of the young Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi from a naive, tongue-tied lawyer into a shrewd politician and finally a Mahatma.

* 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.

1 Matthieu Foss Gallery, 1100h to 1900h

English Play (135 mins) ‘The Wedding Album’, Girish Karnad’s contemporary new play that has delighted audiences with over 125 shows, explores the traditional Indian Wedding in a globalised, technologically advanced India. Contact the venue for details.

27 Prithvi Theatre, 1900h

Beating the Bomb Produced and directed by Meera Patel and Wolfgang Matt, ‘Beating the Bomb’ is a feature-length documentary that frames the nuclear weapons issue within the wider context of global justice. Entry free.

1 Cool Chef Café, 1100h-2300h

Light Drifts ‘Light Drifts’ explores how photography has deeply modified our perception of reality since the beginning of the 20th century. On till December 30. Call 6747 7261 for details.

13 Piramal Art Gallery, 1200h to 2000h


15 Tata Theatre, 1930h

Musical Performance An NCPA presentation, ‘One World, Many Musics’ will showcase varied musical traditions and will celebrate the power of music as the healing force that promotes cross-cultural understanding 1 S. S. Sahani School and common humanity. Also on the Capoeira Classes 16th. ‘Cordao De Ouro India’ is conducting classes in Capoeira, a Brazilian form of dance and martial art that synchronises moves to music. Courses are conducted for children and beginners. Contact the venue for schedule and details.

Bhau Daji Lad Museum

Veermata Jijabai Bhonsale Udyan Byculla East, Mumbai 400 012 Tel: 2290 2596


by P.K.M. Pillai, founder of Pillai’s School of Photography, will inspire young minds with an understanding of basic photography and its applications. This workshop is for children aged 22 Dance Theatre Godrej, 1900h between 7 and 15 years. Fee: Rs.1,000. Kuchipudi Recital For registration, contact: Mukesh Trained by a galaxy of eminent gurus, Parpiani at 22029483/66223709 or the acclaimed classical dancer Shanta e-mail On till Rati Misra will present a spectacular the 29th. Kuchipudi recital, bolstered by her acute intelligence and creativity. Tickets priced at Rs. 50.


ART & EXHIBITIONS 1 Bhau Daji Lad Museum

Photography Exhibition ‘Something That I’ll Never Really See’ will showcase innovative photography from London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. On a six-month tour to different cities in India, the exhibition kicks off with its first display in Mumbai, on until January 2011.

Oriental Rice Fest Choose from a variety of rice in ambrosial Asian flavours and spices. Fukien fried rice, Singaporean fried rice, Yangchow fried rice, Thai fried rice and Nasi Goreng are among those on the list! Sumptuous additions such as fried eggs, fried chicken, satay, or keropok will be served as accompaniments. On till December 15.

Exhibition by Students The final year students of the Academy 12 O22 Trident, 1230h-1530h of Fine Arts and Crafts, guided by Sunday Brunch Rachana Sansad, will come together to Trident takes you on a high-spirited showcase their innovative designs at tour across the globe every Sunday this unique exhibition. Contact the venue with a limitless selection of inspired for details. On till the 22nd. world cuisine. Choose from a selection of fresh and fruity caiprioskas, a tall glass of draught beer or a wine tasting tour. The dessert counter brings to you a choice of twenty creations including chocolate chip and hazelnut soufflés. Priced at Rs.1,950, all-inclusive. Also on December 19 and 26.

27 Piramal Gallery, 1500h-1900h Photography Workshop for Children This photography workshop conducted

18 Experimental Theatre, 1700h & 1930h



1 Intercontinental The Lalit

Friday Seafood Buffet Hook the freshest catch of the day from an appetising selection of underwater delights. From smoked salmon to tandoori crab, squid salads to grilled lobster, our chefs have garnered the choicest catches and masterfully developed them into delicate experiences in gastronomy. All at unbelievable prices! On till April 15, 2011.

Cool Chef Cafe

Thadani House, 329/A, Worli Village, Next to Indian Coast Guard, Worli, Mumbai 400 018 Tel: 3223 1199

Intercontinental The Lalit

Sahar Airport Road, Sahar, Andheri East, Mumbai 400 059 Tel: 6699 2222

Matthieu Foss Gallery

Hansraj Damodar Trust Building, Ground Floor, Goa Street, Ballard Estate, Mumbai 400 001 Tel: 6747 7261

S.S. Sahani School

18th Road, Khar (West), Mumbai 400 051 Tel: 98690 55371

Prithvi Theatre

20, Janki Kutir, Juhu Church Road, Mumbai 400 049 Tel: 2614 9546

Tata Theatre, Experimental Theatre, Little Theatre, Godrej Dance Theatre, Piramal Art Gallery

NCPA Marg and Dorabji Tata Road, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400 021

Trident Hotel

C-56, G-Block, Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra East, Mumbai 400 051 Tel: 6672 7777

culturama | december 2010



Indiranagar Sangeetha Sabha, 1800h – 2000h

Haridasa Chintane - Sankirthane This musical discourse in Kannada by Vidwan Dr. Vidyabhushana promises an evening of soulful rhythm and reflection. With Vidwan Shri B. Raghuram on the violin and Vidwan Shri H. S. Sudhindra on the mrudangam, the event will make for a symphonious start to the month. On till the 5th.


* 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.



JSS Auditorium

BKF Dhwani 2010 Music Festival A musical extravaganza in memory of Pt. Mallikarjun Mansur, the ‘BKF Dhwani 2010 Music Festival’ will combine vocals by Samanwaya Sarkar, Debapriya Adhikary, Raghunandan Panshikar and others, over two scintillating sessions on the 4th and 5th. For full schedule and details, contact the venue.

Goethe-Institut, 1830h

10 Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan

Jazz Concert & Exhibition The exhibition ‘German Jazz’ will present both the history of jazz as well as the current jazz scene — clubs and festivals, record labels, individual personalities and stylistic trends. Aimed at both the interested public and experts, the exhibition includes photographs from private and public archives. Presented by the Goethe-Institut in collaboration with the Darmstadt Jazz-Institute, the exhibition will be inaugurated with a jazz concert by ‘Jazzkomplott’ on December 7. On till the 17th.

Pizzazz ‘Pizzazz’ is a cleverly plotted, effervescent play about relationships. Directed by Sharanya Ramprakash and Rituparna Bhattacharya, the play is a loveable comedy of trials — mostly errors — and that indefinable ‘something’. Also on the 8th.

FOOD & SHOPPING 16 Palace Grounds


2 JMV Trade Fairz

1 Gallery Ske

Art Exhibition Graphitas Art Exhibition presents etchings, lithos, linos, digital prints and serigraphs featuring artists Yusuf Arakkal, Sakti Burman, Jogen Chowdhury, Anil Dubey and more all through the day on the 1st and 2nd. Contact the venue for details.

3 Chitrakala Parishath, 1000h – 1930h

Pick of the month

Kala Madhyam Mela 2010 Experience the magic of ‘Vibrant India’ through folk and tribal art by celebrated artists, live craft demonstrations and colourful performances. Entry free. For further details, contact 9845510870 or visit On till the 12th.


culturama | december 2010

Conference on Green Energy ‘Global Energy 2010’, the second International Exposition and Conference on Green Clean Energy, will promote awareness about the various methods to reduce carbon foot prints and utilise alternative energy. Organised by JMV Traders Bangalore, the event will offer the opportunity of meeting the best mentors in the industry and promote green products. On till the 5th.

Kids Trade Show Times Kidz World Bangalore will showcase exclusive products for children, including toys, food products, ready-made clothes, computers for children, educational & fun books, and much more. The event is being organised by Introductions Trade Shows and is on till the 19th.

10 Le Meridien Hotel


7 Ranga Shankara, 1930h

Training Programme Jointly organised by the Goethe-Institut/ Max Mueller Bhavan Bangalore and India Foundation for the Arts, Kali-Kalisu, which has trained government school teachers in Karnataka since mid-2009, will build capacity for teacher training among teachers with an internalised a passion for Arts Education. On till the 12th. Contact the venue for details.


HR Summit 2010 This summit will unite over 300 HR professionals from India, the Asia Pacific and the Middle East, to deliberate on the theme ‘Business Capability-Building 24 The Park Hotel through HR.’ It will feature presenta Party with Santa! tions by eminent CEOs, senior HR Begin Christmas Eve with a delicious professionals, researchers, and academiChristmas dinner at ‘Italia’, followed cians. Also on the 11th. by a desi party at the ‘i-Bar’ with the dynamic DJ Hussain spinning out best of Bollywood tunes. Hop over to ‘Monsoon’ after that for a special midnight buffet! On Christmas Day, party with Santa at the ‘i-Bar’ and enjoy a special Christmas brunch at ‘Aqua’ while humming to foottapping band tunes!

31 Hotel 24th Main

Pasta Delights Savour a unique ‘Pasta Thaali’ at 24th Main, with sinful varieties of food and wine. Contact the venue for more details.

Chitrakala Parishat

Kumarakrupa Road, High Grounds, Seshadripuram, Bengaluru Tel: 22263424

Gallery Ske

The Presidency, 82, St. Marks Road, Bengaluru 560001 Tel: 4112 0873

Goethe Institute

716 CMH Road, Indiranagar, 1st Stage, Bengaluru 560038 Tel: 25205305

Hotel 24th Main

2nd Phase, J.P. Nagar, Bengaluru

Indiranagar Sangeetha Sabha

Purandara Bhavana, 8th Main Road, II Stage, HAL, Bengaluru 560008 Tel: 25215525

JSS Auditorium

1st Main, Jayanagar VII Block, Kanakapura Road, Bengaluru Tel: 22970123

Le Meridien

28, Sankey Road, P.B. No. 174, Bengaluru 560 052 Tel: 2226 2233

Ranga Shankara

Ramaiah Garden, JP Nagar, VI Phase, Bengaluru 560078 Tel: 26493982

The Park

14/7, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Bengaluru 560042 Tel: 25594666

CALENDAR DELHI film 19 India Habitat Centre, 1900h

Christmas Films A selection of various Christmas films will be screened on the 19th, 28th, 29th, 30th and 31st. Call the venue for details.

21 Epicentre, 1930h

The Bishop’s Wife Directed by Henry Koster, this film is about an Episcopal bishop and his struggle to build a new cathedral. Also on the 25th at 1300h, catch A Christmas Carol, the classic feel-good Christmas film.


WORKSHOPS & EVENTS 4 Epicentre, 1030h to 1300h

Art Workshop Interactive Saturday mornings on art with contemporary Indian artist, Kavita Jaiswal. For further details contact, Kavita at 9811405102. On through this month.

1 Bookwise

Coffee-table Books If you are looking for specialists in coffee-table books, contact Bookwise for exclusive offers.

1 Flower Market


11, N Block Market, GK-1, New Delhi Tel: 29232071 / 72, 65652029 & SG-54,55, DLF-Galleria, DLF-IV, Gurgaon Tel: 4058457/8

Fresh Flowers Shop for fresh cut flowers at whole sale prices this festive season. Zaza Home Free Medical Workshop 25-26, Community Centre, Participate in this free workshop on Zamrudpur, 1 Tarini ‘Basic Life Support, Prevention and New Delhi Lifestyle Store Seasonal Ailments’ by speciality doctors Tel: 29245076 Take your pick of hand-embroidered followed by a Q & A. Lunch included. linen, furniture, specialty home accesRSVP: sories at this designer lifestyle store. Habitat World, IHC Lodhi Road, 15 Le Meridian Hotel New Delhi – 110003 1 Zaza Home India Strategy Forum, 2010 Tel: 24682001–09 Lifestyle Store Join this unique platform to learn from extn 2037, 2038 Home accessories, lights, cushion cov experts the key strategic challenges and ers – affordable and beautiful. solutions for doing business in India. 14 Italian Embassy Cultural Centre Topics selected by a team of experts 50 - E, Chandragupta Marg, from leading global business schools. Chanakyapuri, Get insights from 60 Industry experts New Delhi – 110021 (CEOs, MDs and Presidents). Tel: 26871901/03/04 For more information and registration please log on to . Bookwise Organised by IfS Institute for Strategy 125, A Shahpur Jat, New Delhi 23 Select City Walk Tel: 26499568 Christmas with a Cause ‘Xmas with a Cause’ is a fundraiser Max Super Speciality Hopspital for children suffering from cancer by Saket, New Delhi Max India Foundation. Join this Wine & Select City Walk Cheese event. Donor passes available. Saket, New Delhi Contact Ambreen aarun@maxindiafoun-

7 Max Super Speciality Hospital, Auditorium, 1200h


Pick of the month

* 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.

MUSIC 3 FICCI Auditorium, 1830h

Jazz Utsav Festival Concert by the Giovanni Guidi Trio with Giovanni Guidi on the piano, Francesco Bigoni on the tenor saxophone and Cristiano Calcagnile on the percussions.; 98109 28411 or jasrita.

13 India Habitat Centre, 1900h

Christmas Concert Catch this exclusive Christmas concert by the Capital City Minstrels.

28 India Habitat Centre, 1900h

Indian Instrumental Concert Sarod (ancient Indian instrument) recital by Shankar Bhattacharya, disciple of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan.

DANCE & MUSIC 21 India Habitat Centre

Dance Drama ‘Saumanasa, The Flowering Tree’ is a Bharatnatyam-based performance on a Kannada folktale fantasy by Chitra Chandrasekhar.


Group Show ‘Aham – A Soulful Journey’ is an exhibition of paintings and sculptures by Atul Talukdar, Devyani Kapoor, Narain Barodia, Narottam Patel, Manish Barodia, Pankaj nigam, Rita Mitra, Sanjeev K Sinha, Sonal lall and Sourabh Mazumdar. Curated by Ritu Barodia, the show is on till the 13th.

Must Eat At

400 – The Asian Stone Grill

Square One Shopping Arcade, Behind Select Citywalk, Saket, New Delhi Tel: 9910588228 Meal for 2: Rs. 1,500

Chutney – Contemporary Indian

The Metropolitan Hotel, Bangla Sahib Marg, New Delhi Tel: 42500200 Meal for 2: Rs. 2,000

Emperor’s Kitchen

1, Style Mile (near Qutub Minar), Mehrauli, New Delhi Tel: 26642600 Meal for 2: Rs. 1,800

Kamani Auditorium 1, Copernicus Marg, Mandi House, New Delhi Dilli Haat Aurobindo Marg, Opp. INA Market, New Delhi Epicentre Apparel House, Sector 44, Gurgaon Tel: 42715000 Flower Market Andheria More M.G. Road, New Delhi

22 Epicentre, 1930h

Tribal Dance Sattriya, Bodo, Bihu and other folk and tribal dances of the Assam on Rabindra Sangeet by artistes of Antara Kalakendra, Nagaon, Assam. Choreography by Mandira Bhattacharjee. culturama | december 2010



scintillating eveningthat will whisk you away to old and modern-day New York. Produced by Aysha Rau and directed by Hans Kaushik, the programme promises bags full of dance, music andslapstick comedy! Show dates: December 17, 20 & 21 (6:30 p.m.) and December 18 & 19 (3 p.m. & 7 p.m.). Donor passes available at Rs. 100. For more details, call 28211115/ 9677125738 or email

20 InKo Centre

Film Competition InKo Centre is introducing a Student Film Competition at the 4th Samsung Women’s International Film Festival, for college students in Chennai.  Aspiring filmmakers are called to submit a short film on the theme ‘Chennai: I call her “home”’. A 100-word synopsis and a scratch film, with a note stating that the film is an original piece of work not previously screened anywhere, must be submitted to the centre in an envelope labeled ‘Student Film Competition’, on or before December 20, 2010. For full information on terms and conditions, contact the InKo centre.

26 Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, 0945h1230h

Naatya Kala Conference The 30th ‘Naatya Kala’ Conference is all set to take place from December 26 to 31. The conference will examine India’s classical dance traditions including Bharatanaatyam, Odissi and Kathak, both in terms of training method and performance. The final day will comprise an open house discussion on ‘Funding the Fine Arts’. For details and registration, contact 24911125 or log on to

Display of Sculptures There’s much ado in the art world this month! An exhibition of avant-garde sculptures by Maria Anthony Raj will be on display at Gallery Sumukha and is sure to capture the imagination. On till December 24, Monday to Saturday.

11 Vinnyasa Premier Art Gallery

5 Sir Mutha Venkata Subba Rao Concert Hall, 1900h

‘Burkha Bondage’ Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan presents a rare German piece titled ‘Burkha Bondage’ by Helena Waldmann. Log on to for details.

7 Alliance Française de Madras

Clowns without Borders Promoting a spirit of solidarity, the ‘Clowns sans Frontières’ troupe from France will conduct a week-long workshop with various Chennai theatre artists, to put up a joint performance on December 7. A must-see event for a good cause.

17 Museum Theatre

Christmas Pantomime It’s panto time once again folks! This year, Little Theatre promises a 24

culturama | december 2010

Calligraphy Classes Learn the fascinating art of modern Korean calligraphy using a brush, ink, inkstone and the Korean alphabet on hanji paper. Classes will be conducted by Ms. Kim Yeong-Seon, a professional calligrapher from Korea. To ensure individual attention, the course will accommodate a maximum of 15 participants at a time, in several batches. For details and registration (first-come first-served), email or contact the venue.

Art Exhibitions Have a brush with colours at Vinnyasa Art Gallery. An exhibition of paintings by artist Srividya will be on display until December 20, followed by a display of the gallery’s fresh collections until December 31.

18 Forum Art Gallery, 1130h

‘ArtInk’ Exhibition Enrich your artistic sense with an exhibition of paintings, drawings and sculptures in paper, by children and adults of ‘ArtInk’, Forum Art Gallery’s art education programme. The ‘Artink’ programme is spread through the year and is conducted by professional artists as part of the gallery’s art awareness initiative. On till December 31.

FOOD & SHOPPING 22 Amethyst, 1100h – 2000h Special Collections On display at Amethyst are exquisite

collections from Vivek Narang. The collections will be on display from Monday through Sunday until December 29.

25 Asiana Hotels Christmas Lunch Buffet

3 & 4 India Immersion Centre (IIC), 0930h – 1230h

ART & EXHIBITIONS 1 Gallery Sumukha, 1030h to 1800h


1 InKo Centre

Pick of the month

German Film Screening As part of the Chennai International Film Festival, the Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan will present popular German films, including ‘Soul Kitchen’ by Fatih Akin, ‘So glück wear ich noch nie’ by Alexander Adolph and ‘Lila Lila’ by Alain Gsponer. On till December 22. For details, log on to chennai.



15 Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan

* 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.

Music & Dance Appreciation Workshop With the arts season right around the corner, the IIC is organising a workshop to enable the fine appreciation of Carnatic music and dance, with experts Ms. Sumathi Krishnan and the Dhananjayans respectively. Also come to the centre on December 16 at 10 a.m., for festive carol singing with new and old friends.


5 The Residency Towers, 1700h – 2200h

Sunset Party Go wild at an exclusive sunset party with superb Bollywood and Hollywood sound tracks, exciting competitions and fantastic prizes! Also on December 22, DJ Sasha from Bengaluru returns to set the floor on fire with his Indian and Western soundscapes. Don’t miss this one! Contact 28156363 for details.

20 Hansel & Gretel

English for Kids Hansel & Gretel is offering a preparation course for the University of Cambridge ESOL YLE Exams for children (March 26, 2011). These exams for 9-to-11-year olds, provide a reliable measure of your child’s strengths in listening, speaking, reading and writing. Classes will take place over the weekend, from January 30 to March 20, 2011. Deadline for registration is December 20, 2010. Call 28152549 or 98404 31549 for details.

FOOD & SHOPPING 15 Courtyard by Marriott, 1100h

Celebrate Christmas with friends and family over a lavish buffet of all-time yuletide favourites and a complimentary glass of sparkling wine (Rs.1,199 nett per person). Also, ring in the New Year with dinner and dance at the Atrium (Rs. 3,999 nett per couple). All this and more at Asiana Hotels, your perfect celebration destination!

Cook & Dine and Christmas Brunch As Christmas approaches, master the art of creating an authentic festive meal that ranges from stuffed turkey to delicious cake with dry fruits and nuts soaked in traditional spirits. Also on December 24 and 25, revel in a special yuletide feast featuring traditional turkey, ham, apple strudel, wine and Christmas pudding. For reservations, call 6676 4488.

Alliance Française de Madras

24, College Road, Chennai 600 006 Tel: 28279803


14/30, Padmavathi Road, Jeypore Colony, Gopalapuram, Chennai 600 086 Tel: 28351143

Asiana Hotels

1/238, Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR), Semmencherry, Chennai 600 119 Tel: 674 11 000

Forum Art Gallery

57, 5th Street, Padmanabha Nagar, Adyar, Chennai 600020 Tel: 42115596

Gallery Sumukha

187, St. Mary’s Road, Alwarpet, Chennai 600 018 Tel: 42112545

India Immersion Centre

Global Adjustments Services Pvt. Ltd. 5, 3rd Main Road, RA Puram, Chennai 600028 Tel: 2461 7902

Inko Centre

No. 51, 6th Main Road, R.A. Puram,Chennai 600028 Tel: 2436 1224

MVSR Concert Hall

Lady Andal School Premises, 7, Harrington Road, Chetpet, Chennai 600 031

Sri Krishna Gana Sabha

Nalli Gana Vihar, 20, Maharajapuram Santhanam Salai, T. Nagar, Chennai 60017

Vinnyasa Premier Art Gallery

21/11, CIT Colony, 1st Main Road, Mylapore, Chennai 600004 Tel: 24982515


Photo Feature


GA's Favourite, Carles Berruezo, ‘Taj is a Dream’


speak THEY say that a picture speaks a thousand words. Nothing more fittingly describes the diverse display of images captured and frozen in time by the expatriate community in Delhi. A thousand thoughts, an infinity of feelings, a multitude of perspectives and a burst of colours – all these and more are expressed through the 250 photographs sent in by over 20 participants of various nationalities. We open the curtain by a sliver to give you a glimpse into ‘Beautiful India’ and a whisper of its many voices.

culturama | december 2010


ls) First Prize (Culture & Festiva ival’ Fest y ‘Girl rc Ma n Jea

First Prize (Places) Nathalie Jauffret, ‘Herita ge at

Best Caption ry Christopher Wheeler, ‘Symmet

First Prize (Into India) Alan Dougans, ‘Mehendi Hand’


culturama | december 2010

es) First Prize (Fac ‘Wicked’ r, Antony Walke




Photo Feature

First Prize (Green India), Amore Marcello, ‘Rice Cultivation in Orissa’


DOWN South in Chennai, Mother Earth took centre stage with captivating photos showcasing India at her glossiest green. These vignettes were among over 400 photographs sent in by thirty-eight participants of thirteen nationalities, each telling a unique version of their India story. Beautiful India, beautiful Earth and beautiful fragments of time — here’s a special pick from the repertoire.

speak too culturama | december 2010


’ Favourite First Prize (Places) & Judges and outs ‘Mah erle Melissa End Elephants with Bundles’ GA Favourite Bernadette Baars ‘Holy Smoke’

ls) First Prize (Culture & Festiva Amore Marcello, ‘Jain Monk Praying in Sravanabelagola’

es) First Prize (Fac no, ‘Life Movie’ ia sc Bo le he ic M


culturama | december 2010

First Prize (Into India) Elena Eder ‘Coloured Hands’

Slack Sense

“I’ve heard people in India saying that they like to celebrate every festival and that makes me think about this question. For instance, there are many who celebrate Christmas even if they are not Christian. But it is different in every case. I would think, for example, that Hindus who celebrate Pongal are doing so because they truly believe in it, in which case, it is not just an excuse for civil sluggishness.” – Sofia Heiman, Sweden

“I think that festivals are still of great significance to Indian people, because it is a time for families to come together. In modern times, the Indian family is changing – the father is in Chennai and the mother works in another city, so a festival, especially Diwali, is a very important time for the family to stand together, enjoy and celebrate as one. It’s similar to Christmas for us Germans, and it’s important to have one or two festivals in which we all unite.” – Annelie Göldner, Germany

Topnotch Thoughts

Last month, we asked the question “Have Indian festivals become an excuse for civil slackness?” Here are some of the responses we received from our readers

“Speaking from the perspective of working in a school, I’ve observed that despite the festival breaks, the teachers here work a much longer calendar than we do in the United States. There’s a huge difference. In my Diwali celebrations here, we had Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims celebrating together and we all did the ‘poojas’. I’ve seen that festivals here are very beautiful and a time to be together, with the spiritual element still in place.” – Douglas Kennedy, US

“I think the community in India is changing, but it’s important to have these festivals, as it is in Germany. Perhaps it is different for some young people, but in general, I find that Indians are still very traditional. This may perhaps change with the times, but at present, I believe that the spiritual significance of festivals in India is still intact.” – Doris Link, Germany

Inviting Reader Response! The topic for ‘Topnotch Thoughts’ next month is: “What is your suggestion to help India go green?” Send in your responses in 75 words or less with a photograph by December 15 to The best entries will be published! culturama | december 2010


India and I

a n d re w g o l d m a n

Rode Rules INSANE driving leads to being driven insane? Are the two even mutually exclusive? Now I am not a fan of stereotyping, but some (mostly expats, I hasten to add) say that driving in India requires a pinch of insanity, or maybe a large dose of bravery to deal with erratic driving which often happens on both sides of the road regardless of the flow of traffic. So when I told friends and colleagues that I was buying a motorbike, they looked at me as though I had recently absconded from a mental asylum. “But it’s not just any old motorbike,” I told them “It’s a Royal Enfield!” But the response was a typically deadpan or a slight disbelieving shake of the head.


culturama | december 2010

OK, enough of the cynicism. Let me you tell you about the Royal Enfield, a hybrid of Anglo-Indian engineering. Royal Enfield was the name under which the Enfield Cycle Company (a division of the British arms-making company, Royal Small Arms Factory, in England’s Enfield Lock). This legacy of weapons manufacture is reflected in the logo, a cannon, and their motto: “Made like a gun, goes like a bullet”. It has a single cylinder 500cc engine, a solid ruggedness but modern accoutrements like an electric start and a (reasonably) soft seat. So for non-motorbike aficionados it looks the part and has a big enough engine to cruise a long at 120 km per hour plus. Apart from riding the bike back from the showroom in Noida to South Delhi, its first proper outing was a weekend trip to Jaipur in early September. Hoping to avoid the monsoon rains, me and two fellow Royal Enfield owners set off late one Saturday morning heading out over the Gurgaon flyover to the NH8 highway. On reflection, we

were perhaps a little blasé about our postmorning coffee start as Jaipur is a good 300 km from South Delhi but all was well for the first stretch with orderly roads and white lines through to the city limits of Gurgaon. After that it becomes a bit of a challenge with the road petering into two lanes and no hard shoulder. And then you begin to realise that there is a serious side to all the jokes about cattle roaming the highway, cars weaving from side to side with their wing mirrors stubbornly turned in and pot holes looming up out of nowhere. After a longish lunch stop, we eventually reached the outskirts of Jaipur as dusk descended. It was then that the heavens opened and we got absolutely drenched. Thankfully, the air was warm if not wet, but the car that had been following us with all our bags seemed to have vanished and we were soon lost in the dark interwoven streets off Jaipur, which were awash not only with water but thousands of people as it was the festival of Eid. In the end, we commissioned an auto to lead the way to our hotel. The next day, after a morning trip to the Amber Fort, we set off far too late at 3 p.m. for Delhi. This is where it gets a bit sinister as nearly 100 km out of Jaipur we hit a big traffic snarl, a huge log jam of trucks. As we ferreted our way between the gaps the three of us become separated. At one point I spotted one of my companions, Dave, struggling along. His clutch cable broken and unable to change gear, he kept stalling in the stationary traffic. The other biker, Grant, was nowhere to be seen. Eventually I emerge from the traffic and wait and wait for Dave. But there is no sign of him, or Grant, or the car. And it is then that I have a moment of realisation that makes me a little uneasy. Not only are my bags in the car but also my papers, wallet and phone. I had put them in the car in case it rained heavily again… So it is just me and my bike and with the time creeping well past 4 p.m., I had around 200 km to go and not a hope of getting anywhere near Delhi before dark. I pressed on alone. About 100 km out of Delhi it was dark and raining. Not an experience for the faint hearted. Eventually I was delivered by fate or an omnipresent motorcycling God (add that one to the other 330 million in India) to the Gurgaon flyover. It was well lit but strictly speaking not meant for motorcycles. But by this time I was focused on survival and hey, when in Delhi, live like a Delhite! Well, I made it but I was wet and actually cold for once, and I had no keys (in bag, in car) and no phone so no means of contacting my friends who were still nowhere to be seen. My landlady kindly gave me a spare key and my neighbour life-savingly a whisky. After a few calls I tracked down Grant’s number. Being an Australian he was chilled and still purring along in the dark wondering what I was fussing about. Dave, being English, had been practical and had pulled into a garage, had the clutch cable fixed and was nearly home. So all’s well that ends well but it was one heck of an initiation in insane driving! Or maybe almost being driven insane?

The writer is British and lives in Delhi.

culturama | december 2010



Jaya Madhavan

Seasonal flavour COME December, classical South Indian music lovers from all over India and the Indian diaspora too, make a beeline for Chennai. Chennai’s (earlier known as Madras), busy and bustling metro will change from its official guise of being a retail hub into a more traditional outfit of being the nerve centre of Carnatic music, to suit the special month of Margazhi. Starting on Dec 15th and ending with Pongal, the festival of harvest on Jan 15th, the month of Margazhi is considered sacred as it corresponds with the dawn of Gods (in Hindu mythology, the 12 months of the year are scaled down to a day and night for Gods). And with classical music being the traditional form of worship, the entire city celebrates Margazhi, as the month of dance and music, that is now simply known as the “December Season”. What was originally begun by the Music Academy in 1927 as the celebration of its anniversary, soon caught the imagination of other sabhas and today, it is believed that the festival hosts nearly


culturama | december 2010

2,000 artistes, who take part in over 300 concerts held in a span of just 30 days in Chennai. Carnatic music is an art form that goes back to the pre-Vedic Period. Here we have for you a brief (by no means exhaustive) sketch of Carnatic music’s origin and development.

Origins of Carnatic Music Carnatic music is believed to have a divine origin and is said to have originated from the Gods with each of the seven solfa notes having a presiding deity (Sa presided by God Brahma, Re held by the Fire god Agni, etc). Next is the theory of natural origin. Here each note is said to have been inspired by the sound of a particular animal or bird (Sa from peacock, Ri from the bull and so on). However, the most widely accepted theory is that the Indian system of music – both Carnatic and Hindustani might have originated from the Vedas, where the hymns were chanted using three to seven musical notes.

Literary References Ancient literary texts like the Upanishads, Puranas and epics like the Ramayana and Mahabharatha contain references to music and musical instruments. The word Carnatic came into usage in the early 12th century with the treatise Sangita Ratnakara by Sarangadeva. In the same period, South Indian classical music got firmly established as a stream different from other forms of music. Two centuries later, after the Mughal invasion of Northern India, two distinct and major Indian musical traditions came into being – Carnatic and Hindustani. The Golden Era But it is in the 17th century that Carnatic music truly entered its golden era with three mega composers, being coincidentally born not only within the same period but also within the same vicinity of Thiruvarur in Tamil Nadu. Known as the Trinity (see picture) Syama Sastri, Muthuswami Dikshitar and

Thyagaraja combined devotion and their deep musical knowledge to put forth supplications to their personal deities in the form of Kritis, compositions that had rich lyrical and musical content. Most concerts even today predominantly feature the compositions of the Trinity only and later composers have always tried to emulate the Trinity’s musical standards. 18th and 19th Centuries In these two centuries, Carnatic music saw a plethora of composers and a flurry of developments. A variety of composers like Subbaraya Sastri, Swati Tirunal, etc, brought in their own flavour and interpretation into Carnatic music. In the 19th century, one saw the emergence of sabhas and with that was born the concert format – an organised way of presenting the different Carnatic musical forms interspersed with impromptu improvisations (aalap) to showcase the performers’ virtuosity. Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar is credited with fixing the concert format that is in vogue even today. With the development of mass media like radio and films, Carnatic music enjoyed a wider reach!

Please turn overleaf for recommended concert listings.

culturama | december 2010


Concert Listings


After a quick survey conducted among 100 Indian and expatriate readers, these were some of the recommendations for the December Music and Dance Festival. Do call the venues listed below to confirm the concerts listed and check the local paper for more listings at other venues in the city. The Music Academy Madras Venue: Cathedral Rd, Chennai Phone: 42144444

Dec. 17, 2010, Friday 7.00 pm – Kunnakudy M. Balamuralikrishna (Vocal) Dec. 19, 2010, Sunday 4.15 pm – Malladi Brothers (Vocal) Dec. 22, 2010, Wednesday 7.00 pm – Sikkil C. Gurucharan (Vocal) Dec. 23, 2010, Thursday 7.00 pm – U. Shrnivas (Mandolin) Dec. 24, 2010, Friday 7.00 pm – Lalgudi G.J.R. Krishnan & Vijayalakshmi (Violin Duet) Dec. 25, 2010, Saturday 4.15 pm – Ranjani and Gayathri (Vocal) 7.00 pm – E. Gayathri (Veena) Dec. 26, 2010 , Sunday 4.15 pm – Aruna Sairam (Vocal) Dec. 28, 2010, Tuesday 4.15 pm – Sudha Raghunathan (Vocal) Dec. 29, 2010, Wednesday 4.15 pm – Bombay Jayashri (Vocal)

Kalakshetra Art Festival 2010 Venue: Kalakshetra Foundation, Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai 600041 Phone: 24524057, 24520836.

Dec.22, 2010, Wednesday 6.30 p.m. – Krishnamari Kuravanji (Dance-drama by Kalakshetra Repertory) Dec. 24, 2010, Friday 6.30 p.m. – Ramayana by Kalakshetra Repertory Dec. 26, 2010, Sunday  6.30 p.m. – Ganesh & Kumaresh (Violin) Dec. 28, 2010, Tuesday 6.30 p.m. – Panchali Sapatham (Dance-drama by Kalakshetra Repertory) Dec. 29, 2010, Wednesday 6.30 p.m. – Gundecha Brothers (Hindustani Vocal) Dec. 30, 2010, Thursday  6.30 p.m. – Nala Charitham (Kathakali) Dec. 31, 2010, Friday 6.30 p.m. – Sanjay Subrahmanyan (Vocal)

Narada Gana Sabha Mini Festival - 2010

Bharat Kalachar - Season 2010

Dec. 9, 2010, Thursday 6.30 p.m. – Iyer Brothers - Ramnath Iyer and Gopinath Iyer (Veena) Dec. 10, 2010, Friday 4.30 p.m. – Amritha Murali (Vocal) Dec. 13, 2010, Monday 4.30 p.m. – Shankar Mahadevan (Vocal) Dec. 14, 2010, Tuesday 6.30 p.m. – B. Balasubramaniam (Vocal)

Dec. 12, 2010, Sunday 4.00 pm – Aruna Sairam (Vocal) Dec. 18. 2010, Saturday 6.45 pm – Dhananjayan and Shanta Dhananjayan (Bharatanatyam) Dec. 19, 2010, Sunday 10.30 am – Dr. Vyjayantimala Bali (LecDem on D.K. Pattammal) Dec. 26, 2010, Sunday 6.45 pm – Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam (Bharathanatyam) Jan. 9, 2011, Sunday 7.15 pm – Anita Ratnam (Bharathanatyam) For updates on events go to Bharat Kalachar's website -

Venue: Narada Gana Sabha, TTK Road, Teynampet, Chennai Phone: 24990850, 24993201

Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan

Venue: 8/22, East Mada Street, Mylapore, Chennai Phone: 24643450, 24640811 Dec. 5, 2010, Sunday 10.00 a.m. – 'Heart Beat' Dr. S. Karthick (Ghatam) 5.00 p.m. – Rajesh Vaidya (Veena) Dec. 7, 2010, Tuesday 10.30 a.m. – Meenakshi Kalyanam Kavingar Subbu Arumugam's Group (Vocal) Dec. 9, 2010, Thursday 5.00 p.m. – Kamala Shankar (Slide Guitar)


culturama | december 2010

Venue: Sri YGP Auditorium, Off: 16 Thirumalai Road, T.Nagar, Chennai 17 Phone: 28343045, 28173596

Bright Lights

AS TWILIGHT descended and the stars came out, countless snapshots of India glimmered under the moonlight, at the Metropolitan Hotel New Delhi. Set in the heart of Connaught Place, Global Adjustments’ 3rd annual photo competition for expatriates brought together 250 stunning entries from 20 participants of 10 nationalities. Faces of turbaned men, smiles of children and unusual doorways and windows of India dazzled visitors from countries as diverse as Norway, Japan, Turkey and even Serbia. It was the perfect setting for old and new friends to exchange thoughts and perceptions of India over a glass of home-grown Sula wine. “I was extremely impressed with the quality of the photographs that came in”, said ace photographer, Avinash Pasricha, one of the judges for the event. “They were of a very high calibre and exceeded expectations.” Other judges included Carmen Huthoefer-Heinreich, Controller, Nussli, Switzerland and Suresh Gupta, renowned photographer and teacher. Along with the awards ceremony, a rhythmic dance representing day and night merging into dusk was the evening’s highlight. The chief guest for the event, Michael Pelletier, Minister, Council of Public Affairs, US Embassy, had some thoughts to share on the event: “I have known Global Adjustments since its inception, but what is unique is the insight they give into this wonderful country, through events such as these.” The photo competition was sponsored by the Metropolitan Hotel, New Delhi, Panasonic, the Global Genesis School and a host of prize sponsors. culturama | december 2010


ELEMENTARY SUCCESS “NOTHING has been left undone, either by man or nature, to make India the most extraordinary country that the sun visits on his rounds,” said Mark Twain of our country. Judging by the spectacular display at Global Adjustments’ 13th annual photo competition for expatriates, many would agree. Held on November 21 at the Raintree, Anna Salai (Hospitality Partners), the event, hosted in association with Ericsson India and themed ‘Beautiful India Goes Green’, brought together a multitude of photographic vignettes of India captured by expatriates of thirteen nationalities. Global Adjustments and Ericsson India also announced a joint edu-environmental campaign that will reach out to 15,000 students from over 30 schools. As an eco-friendly effort, every guest was also invited to pledge their protection of the environment in a unique way. Even the backdrops and photo display were ecofriendly, using only cloth and wood, with hand-painted motifs representing the five elements. “It was positively a challenge to pick out just a few photos from more than 400 entries,” said judges Hedwig Baars, Ericsson Head RM, R&D India, and eminent cinematographer, Arvind Krishna. Along with the awards ceremony, the event also featured a spectacular cultural extravaganza by twenty expatriates, conceptualised around the five elements, followed by a grand spread of brunch, courtesy The Raintree, Anna Salai. The event was supported by premium companies: Mitsubishi and Pavers England (Co- Sponsors), Lavazza, 136.1 (Associate Sponsor), Konica (Photo Sponsor) and a multitude of gift sponsors.

Eco-friendly photo display

'I Pledge to Protect' campaign

Three Cheers! “We appreciate the opportunity of being a part of the event and were thrilled at the heartening response. I must say it was very well-organised and the entire credit goes to Global Adjustments.” – Manish Dayya, GM, The Raintree, Anna Salai “The exhibition of photographs, the cultural programme and the green campaign all came together so beautifully. Very impressive!” – Arvind Krishna “It was a wonderful experience attending rehearsals at the India Immersion Centre and performing on the day of the event. This was the best week of my life in Chennai!” – Lena Karlsson

Maratha fisher folk dance (water)

Rajasthani 'Kalbelia' dance (earth)

Nagaland bamboo dance (space)

Judges Arvind Krishna and Hedwig Baars give away the prizes

Karnataka folk dance (wind)

Tamilnadu FOLK dance (fire)

Holistic Living

e k n a th e s w a r a n

Photo elena eder, italy

Mirroring reality 38

culturama | december 2010

IN THE state of Kerala, South India, where I grew up, the New Year is ushered in with a ceremony many centuries old. The night before, while most of the family is asleep, a special shrine is assembled with all kinds of lustrous objects – yellow flowers, brassware, gold jewellery, ripe fruits, lighted oil lamps – arranged around a mirror draped with garlands. The next morning, each member of the family is led to the shrine with eyes closed and asked, “Would you like to see the Lord?” We open our eyes, and shining in the midst of this bright setting we see our own face in the glass. It is a beautiful reminder of the divinity in each of us – the viewer and everyone else around. Naturally, the reminder tends to get forgotten later, as life closes in again. But in my home, whenever one of us children began to misbehave, my grandmother had only to ask, “Do you remember where you saw the Lord on New Year’s?” When you and I look into a mirror, we see a familiar face with a distressing tendency to show fatigue or age. But that is not what the mystics see. They look at us – through us, into us – and see something transcendent, luminous, timeless, “the Face behind all faces”. The great mystics of all religions are telling us unanimously that at the very core of the human personality, in the very depths of our consciousness, lies a divine spark that nothing can extinguish. It is, as Meister Eckhart says startlingly, an uncreated light – the essential core of divinity present in every creature.

A little every day

This is not theory. This is not metaphysics. Ordinary men and women in every great religion have turned all their resources inwards to make this supreme discovery. When one of these great pioneers, the thirteenth-century German mystic Mechthild of Magdeburg, was asked how she did it, she replied simply, “My mirror is pure and I am his reflection.” That is a precious clue, for you and I can do the same. The Bhagavad Gita uses the same image. Just as we cannot see our face in a mirror that is covered with dust, the Gita says, we cannot see the divine face in our consciousness because the dust from past conditioning has settled on it. In order to see the Lord within us, we have simply to cleanse our consciousness of the dust and grime that cover it. In your home, you probably clean your mirror every day. Suppose you looked while you were putting on makeup and you couldn’t see your face. Wouldn’t you go and wipe the mirror clean? Similarly, the Gita says, all you have to do to see your real beauty is to extinguish self-will, fill your mind with peace and your heart with love, and spend your time working for the benefit of all. Of course, it is far from easy, but in my own life I have found ways to do a ­ little bit each day. Just as an artist perfects a Global Adjustments painting with little strokes, or a sculptor creates a statue with facilitates a weekly spiritual delicate touches from amorphous stone, you and I, little by little, fellowship group following can make our lives a work of art.

Join us every Saturday

Work on your statue

Easwaran’s Eight Point Programme of Meditation in Chennai. Email us for more information at easwaranindia@ or call Reema Duseja at 9884127304.

How can we do this? In a famous passage, the third-century mystic Plotinus says, “What then is our course?” We must shut our eyes and awaken another way of seeing, which everyone has but few use” – a perfect description of meditation. “Then,” he continues, “withdraw into yourself and look” – look into the mirror of your heart. “And if you do not yet find yourself beautiful, then, just as someone making a beautiful statue cuts away here and polishes there, makes this line lighter and that place smoother, until a lovely face emerges, so you too must cut away all that is excessive, straighten all that is crooked, bring light to all that is dark, make the whole work glow with beauty, and never cease working on your statue until the divine glory of virtue shines out on you and you see complete self-mastery enthroned within you.” “Cut away here” – a little jealousy, a bit of malice, a good deal of self-will, a lot more anger, first within consciousness and then, of course, outside, in daily living. In other words, for perfecting this statue, it’s not enough to meditate regularly; we must also carry through in daily behaviour. And as we do this, we – and those we live and work with – gradually see a beautiful face emerge. For if this original goodness is within you, it is within everyone else as well. The way to reveal the divinity in ourselves is to keep our eyes focused on it in those around us, treating everyone with respect, kindness and compassion. Reprinted with permission from “Bringing Heaven to Earth” (Blue Mountain, Summer 2008). Copyright 2008 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 | december 2010




Book Music Room

Film Dweepa

Author Namita Devidayal

Director Girish Kasaravalli

Price ` 295

Language Kannada

IN ‘MUSIC ROOM’, Namita Devidayal recounts her growth as a musician from her childhood, explores the various dimensions of Hindustani classical Gurukul tradition, and consequently discovers new modes of creative expression. Her book, a memoir that chronicles the lives of poor but great musicians, describes how despite circumstances, musical expression can lead to fulfillment. In particular, the book describes the life of her guru, Dhondutai. However, its protagonist, Namita, is no less interesting. Very much a part of our contemporary world, Namita studied journalism at Princeton University, while simultaneously maintaining deep roots in the Orient. This is the first time that Hindustani classical music has experienced such attention from the younger generation. Namita introduces and places in perspective the outstanding personalities of the classical tradition. She moves forward and backward in time, oscillating between modern and traditional perspectives, and gives a picturesque account of Mumbai. While her stories dwell over a long period of time, she draws out Dhondutai’s whole life, who belonged to the Jaipur Gharana of Alladiaya Khan Sahib fame. Throughout the imagery is cinematic, and stream of consciousness prose mingles with a more narrative style. The story seems so tightly knit because of Namita’s unconscious understanding of the form she has chosen. The novel develops as the Raga unfolds. The music comes alive. A great introduction to India’s cultural heritage, this book is a must for music lovers. Namita is a winner of the Vodafone Crossroad Popular Book Award 2007 and has been awarded Outlook Book 2007. – Jyoti Nair


culturama | december 2010


AT ONE level, Dweepa, a story by Norbert D'Souza, deals with the subject of displacement of natives near dam sites. At a deeper level, it depicts how different human facets come into play during a crisis. Duggappa (M.V. Vasudeva Rao) is the custodian of a small temple for a local village deity at the base of a holy hillock. Duggappa’s obedient son, Ganapa (Avinash), assists him in the appeasement rituals conducted for the villagers. Ganapa’s wife, the industrious Nagi (Soundarya), constantly dreams of a better life for the family. When the gates of the nearby dam are closed during the monsoon, there is a threat of the village being inundated. When the inmates are relocated to a nearby town, Duggappa adamantly returns along with Ganapa and Nagi to the deserted village, now rendered an island. The ebullient Krishna (Harish Raju), an acquaintance, arrives to help them cope with rebuilding their lives. As the rains intensify, Krishna’s constant presence creates a rift between Ganapa and Nagi. Ganapa presumes Nagi’s attraction to Krishna, and is under the delusion that the two are to blame for the crisis unravelling around him. Fed up with the constant friction between Ganapa and Krishna, Nagi finally asks Krishna to leave. With Krishna gone, and Ganapa emotionally distancing himself from her, it is up to Nagi to safeguard her home from not only the dangerously rising water level but also a tiger foraging for a meal in the deserted village. When the danger passes, Ganapa attributes their survival to benevolent temple spirits. Nagi’s efforts go unacknowledged and her isolation mirrors that of Sita’s in the Ramayana. The film won a Golden Lotus for Best Film in the National Film Awards, 2002.



Photo ben armijo, usa

Photo Leann Canty, USA

Photo Brian Jolley, USA

Duly Noted What are the three things I need to keep in mind to appreciate a concert? It would help to gear yourself with some knowledge on Carnatic music before attending a concert. To start with, you could do some reading on the central item of a South Indian concert called ‘ragam thalam pallavi’, a musical form that allows for improvisation of melody, rhythm and verse. Also, it’s important to be familiar with the performing artist and his troupe. Finally, a practical way to ensure that you enjoy your experience is to choose your ‘sabha’ or concert hall based on your preferences. Ventilation (whether air-conditioned or in open surroundings), seating capacity and acoustics of the hall are a few things to consider. What is appropriate attire for concerts in Chennai? In general, Carnatic music concerts are reflective and stirring events that call for semi-formal attire. Since they take place during Chennai’s ‘winter’ season, women take the opportunity to drape on their best ‘kancheepuram’ silk saris at this time. Indian ‘churidars’ or formal Western wear are also common choices of attire for women. For men, the traditional South Indian ‘dhoti’, a silk ‘kurta’, or a formal shirt and pants are good options. Whatever you choose to wear, make sure that you are comfortable

Photo michele bosciano, italy

throughout the concert, which could last up to three hours. With so many concerts happening in the city, how do I, as an expat, select which ones to go for? This depends on your personal musical preferences. The three fundamental types of concerts are instrumental, vocal or dance recitals, so decide which one you’d like to see that evening. Price is also a factor to consider, with some concerts ticketed and others free, differing between ‘sabhas’. In general, all leading newspapers announce the details of events for the season, so keep your eyes peeled at the beginning of December. Many ‘sabhas’ also publish their full schedule of events, which you could obtain directly. Am I supposed to observe a particular decorum during concerts? Are children allowed to come? Yes, children are allowed to come, provided you are able to manage them within a decorous environment. Senior artists are very particular about propriety during their performances, so try not to cause interruptions. Apart from that, general calls of decorum are also expected, so avoid ringing phones, loud talking and walking out in the middle of a show. – By Vanaja Krishnan

culturama | december 2010



5 8

Your Festive Calendar




Muharram Muharram is the Muslim festival of mourning. They fast, offer prayers and recite the Quran and sing elegies in homage to the martyrs during the celebrations. Muharram is in fact a sort of ceremony for showing gratitude to the departed souls who fought so bravely for preserving their faith. They observe this day of martyrdom in peace and silence.


Christmas Christmas in India has the same underlying spirit as it does in other parts of the world, but the celebrations vary in this country of diversity. In South India, small clay oil lamps placed on roofs and walls are used as Christmas decorations. Cities wear a festive look as Christmas bazaars and markets are organised.




13 Lohri

12 Mahashivratri

An annual thanksgiving festival, marking the end of the harvest festival in North India.

A festival dedicated to Shiva, one of the deities of the Hindu Trinity.

Jain festival that celebrates the birth of Mahavira, the last Tirthankara.

15 Milad-Un-Nabi

25 Easter

14 Pongal/Makar Sankranti Pongal is the annual four-day harvest festival celebrated in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Makara Sankranti or Uttarayan is celebrated in the North, also as a kite festival.

Birth of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad.

16 Mahavir Jayanthi

A day that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ.



19 Holi

17 Buddha Purnima

The spring festival of colour.

22 Good Friday A day that marks Jesus Christ’s crucifixion.

Celebrates birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha


Fact of the Matter

How well do you know your India facts? Mail in your answers to before December 15 and try your luck at winning our special prize!

2 3 4 5

Name India's long-distance ballistic missile? What is the capital of Chattisgarh? Havelock Island is part of which islands? India’s Coromandel Coast is its West Coast/East Coast? In which city is the Vidyasagar Sethu?

6 Who composed Ram Charit Manas? 7

Who built the Shalimar Gardens in Kashmir?

8 Most Abhangs in praise of Lord Vittala of Pandarpur was sung by which famous saint? 9 October issue's winner, Shruthi Thomas, with her special prize!

She sang the Hindi version of Michael Jackson’s famous song, “Don’t stop till you get enough? Who is she?

10 What is Jamshedi Navroz?

Last month’s answers 1. China 2. True 3. False. Yamuna and Ganga 4. 100000, around 1.8 million words. It is the longest poem in the world, 10 times longer than Iliad and Odyssey 5. Oshoites 6. Morsing 7. Chiranjeevi 8. Edwin Lutyens 9. Tipu Sultan 10. Sumanthra.

And the winner is

kavitha arun!

Please call 24617902 and collect your special prize!

culturama | december 2010



culturama | december 2010

Space & The City

Global Adjustments Easing your passage to and from India

Owners, list your property with us for MNC clients. Renters and buyers, we are your one-stop shop for all real estate needs.

15 years of bringing the world to India

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“Since I knew that I would come and live in India, I tried to learn about the country, its people and its culture, reading books and surfing on the net. Now that I am here in Chennai, I want to carry on learning about the Indian culture, and attending the IIC events gives me the opportunity to have ‘live lessons’ with great speakers in nice venues. I have already marked the upcoming events in my schedule and I highly recommend the other expats to do the same.” – Sylvie Clerc, French (Expat Spouse)

For more such properties, call Global Adjustments at 91 44 24617902/9551695968 (Chennai), or e-mail: Please note that any changes to the information above are done at the Property Owner’s sole discretion. Global Adjustments assumes no responsibility for such changes.

culturama | december 2010


Culturama December 2010  

India's only cultural magazine for expatriates

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