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December 2013 Volume 4, Issue 10
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The year that was A round-up of key Indian events from the year that was
48A picture of peace
Images from the glittering awards ceremony of the 16th Annual Beautiful India Expatriate Photo Competition
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Dear readers “It is essential to know t hat to be a happy person, a happy family, a happy society, it is very crucial to have a good heart. World peace must develop from inner peace. Peace is not just t he absence of violence but t he manifestation of human compassion. Wit hout inner peace, it is impossible to have world peace." Dalai Lama As we concluded the 16th Annual Beautiful India Expatriate Photo Competition last month, which was centred on the theme of peace, the words of the Dalai Lama came back to me. I watched the myriad faces around me, Indian and expat, and saw his words mirrored in every pair of eyes, in every smile, and in every gesture. If a picture can speak a thousand words, then a human heart can speak a ten thousand, and nothing says it like the photo competition we conduct every year. Here it was for all to see: the photographs, the perspectives, the collective experience of witnessing something spectacular like the Kalaripayattu martial art performance, the fun, the laughter, the applause, the inescapable sense of belonging, and above all, the compassion. It flowed around us like mini rivers and we soaked it all in, most
times unconsciously, but sometimes, in a rare moment, consciously. For us at Culturama, the photo competition is always a fitting end to the flurry of the year gone by. It promises us an exciting year ahead, as we pore over the numerous entries and plan the next year of Culturama stories, never ceasing to be amazed by the variety of India you show us, every single year. It allows us to relive that shared memory of a Sunday morning when we gathered together and revelled in the forgotten memory of what it means to be a part of a community, of why it’s important to build bridges and how linking, learning and leaving a legacy dissolves boundaries. There is a lot to look forward to in this last issue of Culturama for the year 2013, with our news round-up for the year of all the events that touched and changed India in our final A to Z column; with our Christmas stories on experiencing a real Indian Christmas in our From the Other Side column, our In Your Kitchen column featuring Goan cuisine, and our Festivals page giving you practical to-dos; and our exclusive interview with John Gray, bestselling author of ‘Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus’. Maybe it is the photo competition, or maybe it is the words of the Dalai Lama, but this month, as we put the stories together, I couldn’t help but feel an unmistakable theme of peace permeating all our stories — peace through healthy man—woman relationships, peace through some cheery Christmas spirit, peace through music and dance, and most importantly, peace through building this little connection with you via Culturama, our original “little master” of fostering peace through understanding. Ranjini Manian Editor-in-Chief firstname.lastname@example.org
Credits Cover image Silvia Ricanek , Germany Editor-in-Chief Ranjini Manian Consultant Editor Praveena Shivram Business Head Sheeba Radhamohan Editorial Coordinator Shefali Ganesh Senior Designer Prem Kumar Circulation Manager R Vijayan Advertising Bengaluru T Mukundan Chennai M Dhiviya Delhi/NCR Preeti Bindra, Ruchika Srivastava Mumbai/Pune Farah Bakshay, Rachana Sinha To subscribe to this magazine, write to email@example.com or access it online at www.culturama.in Chennai (Headquarters) 5, 3rd Main Road, R A Puram, Chennai – 600028 Telefax +91-44-24617902 Email firstname.lastname@example.org Bengaluru 7/2, Edward Road, Off Cunningham Road, Bengaluru – 560052 Tel +91-80-41267152 Email email@example.com Delhi-NCR Level 4, Augusta Point, DLF Golf Course Road, Sector-53, Gurgaon – 122002 Tel +91-124-4354236 Email firstname.lastname@example.org Mumbai Rustom Court, 2nd Floor, Dr. Annie Besant Road, Worli, Mumbai – 400030 Tel +91-22-66104191/92 Email email@example.com Pune CTS No. 37/1, Bund Garden Road, Next to Jehangir Hospital, Pune – 411001 Mobile +91-9545453023 Email firstname.lastname@example.org Published and owned by Ranjini Manian at #5, 3rd Main Road, Raja Annamalai Puram, Chennai – 600028, and printed by K Srinivasan of Srikals Graphics Pvt Ltd at #5, Balaji Nagar, 1st Street, Ekkattuthangal, Chennai – 600032 Editor-in-Chief Ranjini Manian Disclaimer Views and opinions expressed by writers do not necessarily reflect the publisher’s or the magazine’s.
Errata In the Seeing India column titled 'The Endless Odyssey', in the November issue of Culturama, we erroneously stated that the Khadagiri and Udyagiri caves were Buddhist, when in fact they are Jain. We regret the error.
Letters to the editor Dear Editor, “I came across a copy of your magazine recently and was most impressed. As an Indian who lived abroad for many years and recently moved back, I was pleased to see a magazine of this kind targeting those who move to our country — it definitely fulfills a gap in the reading market and so well. Hats off on a job well done.” Lakshmi Anand, India
Dear Editor, “I am an expat from Norway living in Chennai. I have picked up and read your magazine many times. Thank you for a lovely magazine!” Line Herikstad Prasad, Norway
Dear Editor, “I have been a regular reader of your magazine for the past five years since we moved to India. Have used the cooking tips, looked at places to visit, used it to find shops and have just enjoyed reading it as a magazine.” Ramya Ramesh, India
Dear Editor, “I have come across your magazine and find it very interesting. It is also well put together.” June Hedlund, USA
Look out for icons On our website and our magazine we are now using the five icons below to help guide you through the contents. They are based on the five areas where Culturama can really help — giving you an insight into India, its life and culture; finding you great places to shop and fun things to do to enrich your Indian experience; helping you find a home; and connecting you to new friends.
1 Read 4 Locate
2 Shop 5 Connect
Culturama’s contributors 01 Susan Philip is a freelance writer based in Chennai, and the editorial coordinator of Culturama’s various coffeetable books. 02 Harini Sankaranarayanan is an ardent foodie and a professional chocolatier. She has a degree in Hotel Management, English literature and theatre.
03 Ian Watkinson is a wrestler of words, a cooker of curries, a dabbler with the tabla, a persistent photographer and haphazard historian. 04 Romulus Whitaker is a herpetologist who's lived in India all his life. He founded the Madras Snake Park and Crocodile Bank Trust in Chennai.His wife Janaki is a writer.
05 Neil Miller is Head of CrossCultural Services at Global Adjustments. He is an American and has been living in Chennai for the past two years. 06 Eknath Easwaran (1910— 1999) was a spiritual teacher, author and founder of the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation in California. www.easwaran.org
07 Devdutt Pattanaik is the Chief Belief Officer of the Future Group, and a writer and illustrator of several books on Indian mythology. www.devdutt.com
Advisory Board members 08 N Ram is an award-winning journalist and former Editorin-Chief of The Hindu. He is Director of Kasturi & Sons Limited, publishers of The Hindu. 09 Suzanne McNeill lived in India for seven years, first in Chennai and then in Delhi. She has now returned to Scotland, where she works as a freelance writer and graphic designer.
10 Babette Verbeek is a correspondent for BNR Nieuwsradio who previously worked in Amsterdam and Milan. Now she joyfully explores the beauty of South Indian culture. 11 Marina Marangos is a lawyer by profession but enjoys travel and writing. She lived in India for four years before moving to Australia. She blogs at www.mezzemoments.blogspot.com
12 G Venket Ram is an acclaimed photographer and the creative mind behind many a Culturama issue. To know more about his work, log on to www.gvenketram.com 13 Beth Chapman is an American business management consultant living in Bengaluru. Former President of the city’s Overseas Women’s Club, Beth is an Indian culture aficionado.
14 Diane Chatterjee is a Scottish insurance professional who has lived in Mumbai for the past seven years. Besides indulging her passion for Indian travel, craft and cuisine, she has been on the Board of Mumbai Connexions, a society for expats. 15 Marcel Van Mourik is a Dutch photographer living in New Delhi for the past three years. Together with his cameras, he is passionate about discovering Indian culture.
On the Cover
Myth & Mythology
Stories from India’s mythology reinterpreted for practical living.
Festival of the Month
Ho, Ho, Ho and Christmas is here!
Journeys Into India 52
The night life at Romulus Whitaker’s farm, just a stone’s throw away from Chennai
16 A to Z of India The final A to Z series that features the ups and downs of 2013.
At Global Adjustments
The 16th Beautiful India Expatriate Photo Competiton — a report.
India’s People 10
An exclusive interview with John Gray, author of the hugely successful, ‘Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus’.
India’s Culture 18
Short Message Service
Short, engaging snippets of Indian culture.
In your kitchen
We bring you Goa’s quintessential prawn pie for that very Indian Christmas.
Spiritual guru and teacher, Eknath Easwaran explains why you are what you think.
Look Who’s in Town
Expats in India share their stories on a practical theme for everyday survival in India.
See what’s going on in Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai.
Journey to the Rann of Kutch for the annual desert festival.
Check out the winning entries of Global Adjustments' 16th Annual Expatriate Photo Competition.
A cross-cultural perspective to living and working in India.
From the Other Side
An expat's perspective on celebrating Christmas in India.
Give to India
Featuring worthy causes across the country.
A space for India’s abounding world of literature.
India’s spectacular representations of contemporary music and dance.
Relocations and Property 66
Space and the city
Property listings across the metros.
Thought Leaders by Ranjini Manian 1 An exclusive interview with John Gray, author of the hugely successful, ‘Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus’, and the recently published bestseller, ‘Work with Me: The 8 Blind Spots between Men and Women in Business’, co-authored with Barbara Annis I believe in destiny. It is impossible not to in my line of work, where I meet such a diverse variety of people from different parts of the world that a sense of cosmic oneness pervades my existence. So when I had the rare opportunity to meet and interview Barbara Annis, world-renowned expert on gender issues, four years ago (read the interview in the October 2009 issue of the magazine here: http://tinyurl.com/ m5p6zdb), I knew, somewhere deep down in my being, that this landmark meeting that changed my perspective on so many things at the workplace, would lead to something more. And it did. It led me to John Gray, best-selling author, gender coach and relationships manager in the truest sense of the word. Like my meeting with Annis, Gray too opened up a whole new world of perspective, starting with his deep, deep India connect. “My trips to India have largely been spiritual trips, visiting various spiritual spots for the past 40 years. I was Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s personal assistant for nine years in my twenties. I arrived at his ashram right when the Beatles left and expected to meet them there, but ended up staying because I liked it so much. In fact, in the 1970s, people actually tried to study my brain because I could meditate for long hours and used to go into Samadhi (a state of intense concentration achieved through meditation) for even 15 hours a day,” he says in his characteristic calm and collected manner. Over a phone conversation, as he shared his life’s experience with me, the sheer depth of learning inherent in him left me enriched and rejuvenated, and another promise of another landmark meeting in the future blossomed inside. Like I said, I believe in destiny. And after speaking to John Gray, it looks like he does too. What led to your profession as a coach? My experience with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was very fulfilling; it became the foundation for my work as an expert on relationships. As a Brahmachari (single, student stage of life), I had learnt to find the source of creativity within
myself, which is also the source of happiness. Then when I returned to the United States when I was 28 years old and began having relationships with women, I was able to be nonjudgemental. Most of the problems in relationships happen because we become controlling. We depend on our partners for happiness and our sense of self-esteem, and when our partners are not in a good mood or not interacting in a way that makes us feel good we get upset with them. But once you start with feeling good about yourself on your own, it is easy to be non-judgemental and possible to accept differences and understand it in a positive way. With that perspective I was able to help thousands of couples who had come to me. Then, I sold my counselling practice and turned my services into workshops because the ideas were easy to understand and powerful in helping people understand each other better. So you have actually been spreading spirituality through your workshops and through your work. I think spirituality is the base of my work but I don’t teach spirituality per se. That’s for others to do. Few people, at least at that time, were doing what I do, which is to see the world from a spiritual perspective. When we do this we are able to see the world from a place of unconditional love in our relationships, our families and in the workplace. It leads to the ability to appreciate diversity, which is the essence of success today. As a coach, sometimes it’s just a matter of pointing out a small difference, a small suggestion, and you can make a big difference. Do you think it is automatically easier to teach Indians gender intelligence with spirituality in our cultural DNA? I have found that Indians are very receptive to the idea of gender intelligence, particularly because there is an openness to recognising that men and women have inherent differences. It’s one of the few cultures in the world where spirituality of a culture embraces the masculine and feminine aspects of the divine. These are really important factors to awaken people’s awareness that the feminine does have a contribution and a value. Now having said that, I don’t recognise that same attitude in the workplace. Women are still not being valued and appreciated as they should be. However, there is this amazing openness to recognising those values and strengths that women bring when it’s pointed out. It just needs to be pointed out. Why do some men label women as less intelligent at work sometimes? Men are busy on the left side of the brain, and so they are busy jumping in there, say, at a board meeting, with their ideas on how they think they can achieve their goal most
1 A man who doesn’t have gender intelligence is going to feel quite often that women slow them down with too many discussions, but, on the other hand, hasty decisions lead to many mistakes when all aspects are not checked out. Photo Christèle Gauthier, France
efficiently, most effectively and most quickly. Meanwhile, it’s not to say women can’t do that; they can do the same with that part of the brain, but they just tend to also use the other part of the brain at the same time. So, while women at the board meeting listen more intently, men talk more intently. Sometimes, the men lacking in gender intelligence think that those women who do not talk much have nothing to say, when they actually have a lot to say; so, that’s an example of wrong labelling. Those women sitting at the table think that those men don’t care about what they have to say, that they don’t value what they have to say and are intentionally ignoring them; and that’s not true either. This time, her lack of gender intelligence causes her to feel excluded, unappreciated, unsupported in the workplace and this will raise her stress levels. This is the big issue that gender intelligence provides for women in the work place. Barbara Annis has spoken about this many times. The first wave of women working side by side with men was an adaptation of women becoming like men, which creates problems as well,
1 We are just in denial of one of the greatest strengths that women have, which is ‘let’s not rush into this’, ‘let’s go little slow here and see the value of taking time’. It’s not that fast doesn’t have its strengths, but it’s just that it needs to be balanced with slow, deliberate thoughtfulness
but at least there was a first wave of awareness of how men think. Now, in our work, it is helping women to understand how men think without having to become like a man, without having to deny her strengths and her femininity. Do you think that gender intelligence should be like a compulsory subject in college education or in multinational corporations' induction programmes? Yes, I particularly think it should be available in universities and in every single company where men and women work side by side. I think the Western gender intelligence can help in India because women have fought a big battle over here and have learnt many things. That insight can be quickly transferred for the women in India to find out how to avoid the mistakes of the women in the first waves and learn from the women in the second waves. This is why I greatly appreciate Barbara Annis’s participation in this book that we’ve written together, because having the male and female voices combined really addresses more issues than I’ve addressed in my books alone.
SA ay, U attaw
Photo Marlon Pieris, Canada
Can you give me one or two practical things that women and men do in the workplace differently? Well, this one study shows that when a woman is dissatisfied with her experience in working with a company or when a woman is very satisfied with her experience she will go out and tell 32 people. Basically, if she thinks it was a great experience, she will advertise it far and wide. A man will not tell more than three people whether he had a negative or positive experience. So, a satisfied woman can be a good ambassador of your corporation. A strength that women bring into the workplace is to always point out what’s wrong while men by nature will be most focussed on what is the most efficient way to get something done. A man who doesn’t have gender intelligence is going to feel quite often that women slow them down with too many discussions, but, on the other hand, hasty decisions lead to many mistakes when all aspects are not checked out. So, what's your advice to the man then who usually thinks that women are slowing him down? Just taking time to discuss and provide examples of situations works well. Right now in America, AT&T has a commercial on TV promoting how fast their phones are. It’s quite a big commercial and it’s playing all the time. It’s a man in a kindergarten class and he’s saying to the kids, ‘Alright kids, what’s better: fast or slow?’ And all the kids are going ‘fast, fast, fast’ because we all want faster downloads on our computers and on our phones and that is what we have to
What are the 8 Blind Spots between Men and Women? 1. Conflicting communication styles 2. Different modes of appreciation 3. Women feel excluded by oblivious men 4. Men feel like they walk on eggshells with women 5. Men don’t know what to do when women ask a lot of questions 6. Men need to learn to listen to women and women need to understand that men’s ability to pay attention is limited 7. Women and men have different ways of expressing emotion 8. Men and women are insensitive to each other
overcome: the idea that fast is better, that masculine is better, as opposed to saying feminine can be fast too. Instead, we are just in denial of one of the greatest strengths that women have, which is ‘let’s not rush into this’, ‘let’s go little slow here and see the value of taking time’. Like the story of the tortoise and the hare, where you get to see how the arrogance of going fast caused the rabbit to lose the race and the turtle was plodding along one step at a time and it won the race. It’s not that fast doesn’t have its strengths, but it’s just that it needs to be balanced with slow, deliberate thoughtfulness. 1 4 To know more, watch this video with John Gray: http:// tinyurl.com/p9y5o4w or read this insightful article by Barbara Annis here: http://tinyurl.com/n4ankh3 or simply pick up a copy of the book at Flipkart here: http://tinyurl.com/oc3tcso
A to Z of India – Round-up 2013
by Susan Philip
The Year That Was 1 As we stand on the threshold of a new year, we look back at the one that is just fading away. So much has happened, so much has changed. Some for the better, some not so. What will India and Indians as a whole remember 2013 for in the years to come? Here’s a selective list in our final A to Z column:
Polity and Politics A New Baby! India is expecting an addition to its family. A brand new state — the 29th — is in the making. The Union Government is working to complete all formalities for the creation of Telengana. It will be carved out of the existing state of Andhra Pradesh. While the section which has long been clamouring for this is of course ecstatic, others are vexed at what they consider an erosion of power, resources and identity.
Nature’s Fury Rain and Storm The year had its share of natural calamities. A series of cloud-bursts in northern India in June claimed thousands of lives (estimates vary), with the State of Uttarakhand bearing the brunt of the rains. The Himalayan state has many major Hindu pilgrimage sites, and tens of thousands of pilgrims were stranded because of landslips and damage to roads, bridges and other infrastructure. When the rain gods again threatened to strike, this time in the state of Odisha later in the year, the nation braced itself for yet another disaster. But the administration swung into preventive action with commendable efficiency, and Phailin, billed as a cyclone more powerful than Katrina, which wreaked such damage in the United States, took a toll of just over 20 lives. Damage to property was considerable though. There is a real need for funds to help victims of these two calamities. The generous hearted can contribute to specific charities or the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund. Check out the details at http://tinyurl.com/nllfajn.
Scientifically Speaking MOM’s the Word On November 5, India proudly joined the select list of five countries in the world to have sent a mission to Mars. The planet was named ‘Mangal’ by ancient Indian astronomers and modern-day scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) call their ambitious Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) Mangalyaan. The textbook launch from Sriharikota in South India has sent India’s stock rocketing. India is immensely proud of its scientists, old and new. Perhaps the most popular among them in the 21st century is Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, who, besides being one of ISRO’s stars, also held office as the President of the country. Watch his uplifting address to Wharton at http:// tinyurl.com/plztzot
The turmoil carries a sense of dé•jà vu. The wheel which started turning in the 1950s has come full circle. To find out how language came to be one of the basic factors in the formation of Indian states, check out http://tinyurl. com/q2zwqp3
Business Matters An Icon in India World-famous furniture retailer IKEA has committed to investing Rs. 10.5 crore in India – the biggest FDI proposal in single-brand retail. In a landmark move in August, the Indian Government allowed the Swedish major to set up shop in India providing it abided by certain conditions, including sourcing 30% of the value of goods sold in India from indigenous small industries. Rippling Rupee: On the financial front, the Indian rupee did a nosedive vis-à-vis the US dollar in the middle of this year, stopping just short of the 70 mark and sending ripples across the economy for a while. But it proved doomsayers wrong and stabilised at a reasonable position in the early 60s by September. Like India, the Indian rupee too is resilient!
Social Issues The Fearless One That’s what Nirbhaya means. It was the name conferred on a 23-year-old paramedical student who smote the nation’s conscience. If her brutal gang rape in New Delhi in December 2012 shamed the country, Nirbhaya’s grit as she fought to live despite her grievous injuries made India proud. When she finally let go of life, every Indian mourned a daughter. But Nirbhaya lives on in the legal and social measures set in motion through this year, to protect the dignity of women — young, old, rural and urban. Stay safe: Download one of the many safety apps for cellphones that are now available.
End of an Era A Masterclass Ends The year 2013 saw the snuffing out of many a luminary in India. One of them was the bubbly Tarla Dalal, India’s best-known food writer, who sparked a revolution of sorts via the kitchen. She introduced tradition-bound Indian housewives, used only to the cuisine of their own closed ethnic groups, to the rich and varied vegetarian fare available across the length and breadth of India, and also brought to ordinary Indian dining tables such exotic terms as Tiramisu and Pad Thai. She adapted European and Far Eastern
recipes ingeniously to suit Indian vegetarian tastes, without any of the frills and flourishes of gourmet cooking. Her passing in November was mourned by women, young and old, who lean heavily on her easyto-follow cookbooks. Tarla Dalal’s recipes make her immortal. Visit http://www.tarladalal. com/ and dish up some mouth-watering fare.
This and That Home Again! Vrishanana Yogini returned to India recently. She’s 1,100 years old! The stone statue of the goddess, stolen from a remote village in Uttar Pradesh, had found its way to Paris, and into the catalogue of a private art collector there. Years later, after lengthy procedures to establish provenance, the goddess with the buffalo-shaped head was allowed to return to her native shores. Vrishanana Yogini’s saga is one of the rare success stories among the many cases of antiques illegally shipped out from India. This country has always attracted the world’s attention for its vast store of treasures, and, from gemstones to artifacts, many priceless items have found their way abroad. The Koh-i-noor diamond is perhaps the most famous of India’s treasures overseas. Shops selling ‘antiques’ are scattered throughout the country. Authenticity is difficult to guarantee. Also, there are strict rules governing the shipment of genuine antiques out of the country. Do verify that all transactions are clear and aboveboard.
Tales of Tales Amish Tripathi is the proud recipient of the biggest advance paid to date for an Indian author by an Indian publishing house. The huge popularity of his Shiva Trilogy prompted Westland to pay him Rs. 5 crore — almost 50 million USD — for his next series. Amish is yet to even think up a theme for his next literary offspring. (If you haven’t yet read Amish’s books, which provide a ‘novel’ take on the life and deeds of Lord Shiva, don’t waste any more time.) On the downside, Vikram Seth, the Indian-born author of the voluminous ‘A Suitable Boy,’ is re-negotiating his contract with British publisher Hamish following his failure to keep his deadline for a sequel, to be named ‘A Suitable Girl.’
Arty Happenings A Century in Celluloid Indian cinema, one of the world’s biggest film industries, turned 100 this year. The industry produces around 1,000 feature films in various languages each year. An estimated 3.6 to 4 billion tickets are sold for these films annually, taking it to the top of the box office charts. The hub of the industry is of course Mumbai, once known as Bombay and thus earning Hindi cinema the sobriquet of ‘Bollywood.’ Hyderabad and Chennai in the south are vibrant too. For more detailed information, and for a cheat sheet on how to enjoy the Indian movie experience, look up http://culturama.in/one-hundred-yearsand-running-strong/
Sport Spots So long, Little Master! The “little” legend of Indian Cricket, the unmatchable Sachin Tendulkar, donned his country’s colours for the last time in a Test match at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai this November. Sachin, who, despite his diminutive size, strode the world cricket scene like a colossus for the past 24 years, holds records too numerous to list. He is considered a veritable God by this cricket-crazy nation, and his retirement will leave a huge vacuum. The emotion-charged final game was watched avidly not only by his fans in India but those all over the world too. No one could have been prouder, though, than Rajni Tendulkar, Sachin’s mother, who, for the first time in her son’s career, came to a stadium to watch him play! Sachin: Cricketer of the Century and Sachin: A Hundred Hundreds Now are two books worth reading. Master of the Mindgame After a hard-fought, nerve-wracking series of games between Vishwanathan Anand of India and Magnus Carlsen of Norway in November at Chennai, Vishy relinquished his World Chess Champion title to the young contender. The even-tempered Vishy, loved in India for his unassuming nature, is a stalwart of the game. He had won the title for the fifth time in 2012, while Carlsen is ranked World Number 1. Chennai is Vishy’s home town, and this was the first time the prestigious championship was held in India, birthplace of Chess. The Vishy Lounge set up at the championship location showed proud moments of his personal and professional life.
by Suzanne McNeill Short cultural snippets for an easily digestible India
Art Cheriyal Masks of Andhra Pradesh
Textile Bagh Print
Photo Rajashree SD
Masks have long been crafted to represent the spirits or deities, to be used in forms of worship and to hang outside homes to ward off the evil eye. Cheriyal masks are the lesser known art form from the town of Cheriyal in Andhra Pradesh, which has been associated since the 16th century with scroll painting that depicted stories from mythology and folklore in bright intense colours. The masks, whose characterisation mirrors that of the figures in the scroll paintings, were originally made to enhance the storyteller’s tales. They were sculpted from light wood, plastered with a fine mixture of tamarind seed paste and sawdust, smoothed with a liquid lime and chalk powder paste before being painted and varnished. The most common characters depicted were Rama, Sita, Hanuman and Ganesh, but there were also villagers, brides and grooms and figures in traditional jewellery and turbans. Nowadays, Cheriyal masks are used as decorative items for the home.
Bagh prints originated as a tribal art in a small village in the Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh, where the flowing river waters are vital to the process. The designs are based on traditional motifs inspired by ancient cave paintings found in the region, and are geometrical and floral in composition. The fabric is prepared by soaking it, and applying a paste made of goat dung, salt and oil before bleaching and dyeing. It is stretched on a table, and the wooden printing blocks are lightly applied by hand, building up the design using black and red vegetable dyes. The fabric is then held in the running waters of the Bhagini before finally being boiled in water mixed with flowers and roots in a copper vessel, which deepens the hue of the colours.
Language Nagamese Over 20 different indigenous languages are spoken in Nagaland, on India’s north-east border, by the region’s numerous ethnic communities (or ‘nagas’). English is the official language, but it is in Nagamese that most inhabitants communicate informally, and Nagamese is said to be spoken by up to 3,00,000 people as a lingua franca in schools, hospitals and places of worship. Nagamese is a creole language that has evolved from Assamese, Hindi, English and the various Naga languages, plus some Bengali, and British administrators exploring the region recorded its use early in the 19th century. Nagamese is written in Roman script: there is a popular story that the original script was written on animal skin, which was accidentally eaten by somebody and thus lost! Ask a local, ‘What is your name?’: ‘Aapuni laga naam ki ase?’. ‘My name is Prakash’: ‘Moi laga naam prakaash ase.’
Photo BMA mission 21 C-30.69.012 Tribes on the Blue Mountains Kota Women 01.01.1861-31.12.1875
Photo Galina Zagumennova, Russia
Tribes of India Kotas of Tamil Nadu
Interpretations Chenda Drummers from Kerala
The Kota tribe is a small community of indigenous people who live in the Nilgiri Hills. Numbers are estimated at 1,500, spread between seven villages. The population is divided in each village into three sets of house clusters according to clan. Traditionally, Kotas were expert potters, but they also worked as blacksmiths, carpenters and makers of musical instruments. The majority are now involved in cultivation, particularly tea, as well as working in government employment and in other professional positions: Kotas have a high socio-economic status amongst their peer tribal groups. Kotas consider themselves Hindus, but traditionally worshipped a father god and a mother goddess, and religious ceremony centred around the smithy. They speak a Dravidian language that, due to their isolation, has some unique characteristics and which has affinity to archaic Tamil.
Drummers are used symbolically all over the world as messengers of good tidings, and are ubiquitous at marriage celebrations and even funerals, where they are believed to herald tidings of rebirth and joy at the eternal divinity within all beings. The hypnotic, complex rhythms of the chenda melam are an essential feature of Hindu temple processions and religious festivals in Kerala and Karnataka, as well as an indispensable accompaniment to Yakshagana and Theyyam folk performances across the two states. Chenda melam refers to the percussive beat provided by the groups of synchronised drummers who play the cylindrical chenda drums. Made from the wood of the jackfruit tree, chenda makes a loud, rigid sound that can be heard from a great distance. The powerful rhythms are energising and entrancing, and are said to stir something ancient in the soul of the listener.
Crafts of India Paabu Footwear of Ladakh Paabu, or stitched boots, are essential warm footwear for the people of Ladakh. The region is situated at high altitude on the arid and extremely cold trans-Himalayan desert, and the paabu protect wearers against frostbite. The colourful, round-toed boots are made from a combination of the rough, warm wool local to the region, cloth, felt and sometimes leather. These are stitched together with embroidery stitches to create a sole and a shoe upper, then decorated by adding braiding and applique work, and even tie-and-dye fabrics. They are made longer to cover the knees by adding sections of felted woollen cloth to the rim of the shoe upper.
Photo Enric Donate Sanchez, Spain
Urban Adventure Fort Area, Mumbai
Past Influencer Manna Dey
Mumbai's Fort area is the modern city’s business and financial district, by day packed with commuters, shoppers and street vendors. It is named after Fort George, built by the British in 1769 as part of their sea defences, and is where the city was first inhabited. It became a stronghold of the mercantile Parsi community, which helped forge Mumbai’s rise as a bustling trading and commercial city. The Fort area is bounded by the bazaars of Crawford Market and St Thomas’s Cathedral and contains some of the city’s most important monuments, including the landmark Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, and the grand facades of numerous other colonial buildings and trading houses that now house the city’s museums, art galleries and corporation offices.The best way to explore the Fort area is by foot – there are several companies offering heritage walking tours that allow you to soak up the atmosphere of this fascinating district.
Described as the ‘King of Melody’, Manna Dey was a talented and versatile Bollywood playback singer, whose career spanned six decades. Playback singers record songs for film soundtracks, which are then lip-synced by the films’ stars. Dey recorded more than 3,500 songs, and many of his tracks became huge hits. He sang for some of the biggest Bollywood stars. Born Prabodh Chandra Dey in Kolkata in 1919, he worked as a music director for Hindi movies, before singing in his first film in 1942. From the 1950s to the 1970s he was in great demand for his light, classically trained voice and ability to express great emotion in a song. Dey’s duet ‘Pyar hua ikraar hua’ (‘I admit I’m in love’) for Raj Kapoor in Shri 420, is among the most popular romantic songs of Bollywood: http:// tinyurl.com/MDeyFilm. Manna Dey died in October 2013.
Words Sūtra versus Shudra
Sūtra refers to a type of literary composition made up of short concise statements, or aphorisms, containing truths and observations, which together form a collection of sacred Hindu texts. It literally means ‘thread’. Sūtras are packed with wisdom, but can be cryptic and hard to understand. Explanations of sūtras are given in writings called bhashyas. The Vedas were transmitted orally, and nothing was written down, so sūtras had an easy meter to help students memorise them. Shudra is one of the four labour-based divisions of caste in ancient Hindu society. Brahmins were priests, Kshatriyas were administrators, Vaishyas were traders and Shudras were labourers. At the time these divisions were prescribed in the Rig Veda, it was not meant to denote any system of hierarchy. However, over the years misinterpretation of this text has led to the inferior treatment of the so-called ‘lower castes’. Now these communities are protected by the Indian government, and calling anyone ‘Shudra’ can be punishable by law.
In your kitchen by Harini Sankaranarayanan
Life of Pie
PHOTO Chef Balaji Natarajan, Executive Sous Chef, Park Hyatt Chennai
1 If you can’t head to Goa this Christmas, then here’s a bit of Goa to bring to your home
To most people, Goa is a land of beaches and parties; a place to relax and a place to soak up the sun and the sand. To people like Lynn Vincent Couto, Goa is home. Raised in many different cities including Mumbai and Chennai and now living in Chicago, Goa still remains very much a part of her identity. Like many of the Catholics from Goa, the old families can trace their ancestry back to the Portuguese, who once came to the Land of Plenty in search of spices. “The Portuguese did not come empty handed,” says Lynn. “They brought with them a spice which is now so closely identified with Indian cuisine.
Recipe: Apa de Camarao Ingredients for the bread crust:
• Add the eggs to the flour and the bubbling yeast mixture and mix well.
1 ½ eggs
• Add the salt and ghee and coconut milk as required to make a soft pliable dough and set aside in a well-oiled, covered bowl to double in volume. This could take about 45 minutes.
2 tsp ghee or clarified butter
For the filling
Coconut milk as needed to prepare the dough
• Grind all the spices for the masala.
1 tsp sugar
• Saute the sliced onions till golden and add the chopped tomatoes.
1 level tablespoon active dry yeast 1/2 cup water 350 gm all purpose flour
Ingredients for the stuffing: 200 gm cleaned prawns 2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves 2 onions 1 big tomato 1 green chilli Salt to taste For the masala to be ground into a powder
• Once the tomatoes are cooked, add the ground spice and salt to taste • Add the cleaned prawns and mix with the masala gravy and cook till the prawns are done. • Stir through chopped coriander leaves. Assembling the pie
8 Kashmiri chillies
• Lightly grease a pie dish.
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
• Divide the dough, which has doubled, into two.
1/2 tsp turmeric powder 5 to 6 pepper corns 5 flakes garlic 1/2 inch ginger 1 tsp tamarind or kokum Method For the dough • Mix yeast in ½ cup of warm water and sugar and allow to prove. • One can use readymade coconut milk. However, if you are making it from scratch, use fresh coconut scrapings and mix it in a little warm water and press through a muslin cloth to extract the coconut milk.
• Roll out one half into a circle to fit the base of the pie dish. • Add your filling evenly over the dough. • Roll out the second half to fit over the filling and seal the edges. • Decorate the top with little bits of dough and give it an egg wash if desired. • Bake in an oven at 1800C for about 30 to 40 minutes until the crust is golden and done. • Cool slightly before you cut into wedges and serve.
They brought with them the chilli!” Along with this they also introduced the local population to the tomato, potato, pineapple, cashew and guava. Most of the people settled down along the coast and this would explain the abundance of sea food in the local cuisine. “The Goans love their non-vegetarian food. Aside from their sea-food they especially love their pork,” says Lynn. So, Sorpotel, a dish made mainly from pork, finds a place of pride on the table. From the bounty of the ocean, Mackerel, Tuna and Pomfret along with shrimps, prawns and crabs form an integral part of Goan cuisine. Lunch would usually consist of a fish curry and rice along with some local vegetables. Rice is sometimes replaced with sana, a fermented rice cake or even pav or bread. Other times the fish would be replaced with chicken, beef or pork. For a celebration, however, the table would groan under the weight of at least four meat dishes like Chicken Xacuti, a labour intensive dish flavoured with roasted coconut, coriander, nutmeg, ginger, green and red chillies and cloves; a Fish Recheado, a stew of Portuguese origin; a Prawn Balcha; and Chouricos, an extremely spicy Goan sausage prepared with spiced and salted pork cubes. No Goan meal would be complete without the dessert. Bebinca is the most famous, a laborious custard made with coconut milk cooked in layers. What makes the Goan Catholic cuisine different from the others is the liberal use of vinegar. The local vinegar is distilled from cashew. It forms an integral part of their Vindaloo and the Peri Peri masala, which is ground using Peri Peri chillies and other local spices with vinegar. No water is used lest the flavours are diluted. Lynn points out, “While chefs the world over talk about fusion cuisine, here is an example of fusion of the original kind. The Portuguese used their chilli and added on the local spices and coconut to produce something absolutely delectable.” Christmas is one of the biggest festivals celebrated in Goa, and so the festivities during Christmas mean a lot of food and drink on the table. Apa de Camarao is a prawn pie usually made for a celebratory meal. A little elaborate in its preparation, it is well worth the effort. Says Lynn, “If you find that you are pressed for time, you could use white bread, with the crust cut off, soaked in coconut milk.” Though this short cut may be simpler, the flavour of the original recipe cannot be replicated. With this pie on the table, all you will need is some Feni (local Goan alcohol), some music and Goan bonhomie to complete the Christmas spirit. 1
1 As the city of Chennai gears up to welcome the December Season, a cultural extravaganza featuring classical music and dance programmes, the country too explodes with an array of soulful concerts and scintillating performances. Many of these represent the more recent journeys of the countryâ€™s contemporary music and dance scenes, and Culturama pays a muchdeserved tribute to them
A Sync Apart
Mandeep Raikhy on Dev's shoulders in a Shobana Jeyasingh performance
Contemporary dance forms haven’t always received the warmest of welcomes in India, and it’s noticeable that the pioneers of modern dance in India, and many of the current generation of dancer-choreographers, have learned their art overseas. For lovers of classical dance, modern dance breaks too many boundaries. Dancers in the Indian classical tradition not only strive to follow ancient concepts that seek to elevate the spirit but also to teach and to moralise. The themes of classical dance come from the country’s vast heritage of mythological and folk tales and are performed in a spirit of devotion. According to the ancient treatises that codified the practice of dance and drama (for these can rarely be separated in most forms of performing arts in India), classical dance follows a fixed pattern of step and movement, of gesture and rhythmic sequence. Consequently, the urge to create new forms in movement that characterises contemporary dance has been met with some confusion and resistance.
Shankar’s younger colleague, Shanti Bardhan, continued the master’s work, and is credited with producing some of the most imaginative dance dramas of the 20th century. Over a trilogy of ballets, Spirit of India, India Immortal and Discovery of India, the last based on the book by Jawaharlal Nehru, Bardhan unfolded India’s complex history into dance in pieces that expressed solidarity with the hopes of the emerging nation. The ballets were an instant success, and set a new trend in dance. In contrast, his ballet Ramayana from 1952, emulated a puppet-theatre performance, with the dancers wearing puppet masks, tells the epic story in a simple and straightforward manner. It is still performed to this day. He formed the Little Ballet Troupe in Mumbai in 1952, which trained many current luminaries of the modern dance world, and after his untimely death in 1954 his work was continued with great passion by his dance partner and wife, Gul Bardhan.
Chennai-born Shobana Jeyasingh is another contemporary choreographer and dancer who studied Bharatnatyam and began her career performing as a classical Indian dancer in London. She is now part of a groundswell of pioneering Indian artists who have crossed from the classical and culturally specific forms of their training to an expression that is contemporary and global. In 1988 she launched her own company, London-based Shobana Jeyasingh Dance, and has produced more than 50 dance works, experimenting constantly with film, technology and space. Her choreography, usually without plot, is noted for the way she shapes ideas about the experience of urban displacement and diversity, with traces of Bharatnatyam amongst the other elements of ballet and modern dance. For many years she worked only with female dancers, and she has worked in collaboration with many musicians of acclaim in the West. Her work, (h)Interland, was the first live dance performance to be webcast between the United Kingdom and India.
The father of modern dance in India is Uday Shankar, born in 1900 (and brother to the musician Ravi Shankar), an innovative and experimental dancer whose appreciation of the world of dance included Indian classical and folk forms as well as Western ballet. He had no formal training but had been exposed to dance from an early age in his creative and artistic family, including in London, where his father lived and worked. A chance meeting with the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, following an Indian dance performance, led to a period of collaboration with her choreographing and dancing in ballets based on Indian themes. Shankar formed his own Indian dance company in the 1930s, which toured Europe and the United States, creating his own dance technique that drew consistently on India’s mythology and classical dance imagery, but rejected fixed forms. He mixed and matched these traditions to create new ballets with complex choreography and music, which drew on traditional instruments and classical and folk rhythms. Shankar returned to India in 1938 and opened a dance centre at Almora, Uttarakhand. Many of his students went on to form their own companies, ensuring a legacy for his huge body of work. Eventually, Shankar settled in Kolkata where he opened another dance institute. He died in 1977, but his Kolkata centre continues to offer training in modern, folk, classical dance, as well as improvisation and costume design.
Step In A short clip introduced by Ravi Shankar about his brother http://tinyurl.com/UdayShankar1 A modern-day interpretation of an Uday Shankar dance http://tinyurl.com/UdayShankar2 Ramayana by Shanti Bardhan http://tinyurl.com/ShantiBardan Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company http://tinyurl.com/ShoJeyDC Inhabited Geometry by Mandeep Raikhy http://tinyurl.com/ MandeepRaikhy
A New Wave
contemporary music sales, and makes stars of the ‘playback’ Mandeep Raikhy, who began his dance career in 1999 singers whose performances are recorded and then lipwith the Danceworx Performing Arts Academy in Delhi, synched by actors and actresses. Western pop music entered returned to India after 7 years in the United Kingdom. India via short-wave frequency radio stations and a limited There he toured with Shobana Jeyasingh’s company, and like supply of LPs, then cassettes in the metros in the 1970s her, Raikhy uses Bharatnatyam forms and gestures in his and 1980s, pushing mainstream and disco music. All this contemporary choreography. His first work on returning to changed with the proliferation of media in the 1990s, with India was Inhabited Geometry, focusing on how a space comes channels like MTV opening the floodgates to Western rock to be called home, and his current ensemble work, A Male and pop, but also inspiring home-grown, often college-based Ant Has Straight Antennae, explores notions of masculinity bands to step onto the fledgling Indian circuit. from many perspectives. He is currently programme director of the Gati Dance Forum in Delhi, which actively searches for Top of the Pops The Colonial Cousins, the duo featuring Hariharan, whose avenues to develop greater opportunities and infrastructure background was as a ghazal singer as well as a playback for contemporary dance. artist, and musician Leslie Lewis, broke through to head the Opportunities to see contemporary dance are on Indian music charts in the 1990s, with a brand of music that the rise in India. Annual and bi-annual dance festivals fuses Indian and Western genres (apparently born out of a include Avayava in Pune (www.swapnildagliya.com/dancespontaneous jamming session!). Their debut album, Colonial festival/) and Ignite Festival of Contemporary Dance in Cousins, achieved platinum sales in India; they won the MTV New Delhi (www.ignitedancefestival.com/). Both will soon Asia Viewer’s Choice Award and the US Billboard Viewer’s be announcing dates for 2014. It’s also worth keeping an Choice Award, opening the doors for Indian sounds to be eye on the programmes organised by dance companies such used in Western-sounding songs. Indi-pop was born. Another as Danceworx and Gati Dance Forum in New Delhi (www. thedanceworx.com and www.gatidance.com/) and Attakkalari playback singer who made the transition to contemporary pop in the 1990s is Alisha Chinai, whose solo album Made in Bengaluru (www.attakkalari.org). in India featured her huge hit, ‘Lover Girl’. Both acts Contemporary Music continue to perform and record to this day. Composer-singer For many visitors to India, the country’s popular music Himesh Reshammiya has straddled film acting, production scene begins and ends with Bollywood. Tracks from the and playback singing whilst maintaining a solo career film industry’s mega hits account for a huge percentage of as a recording musician so successful that he goes by the
Raghu Dixit strikes a pose
nickname ‘the Hit-Machine’. For longevity, take a look at the original diva of Indian pop music, the peerless Usha Uthup, who is still recording her pop-jazz fusion sounds in her sixties.
Band of Music Indi-pop is a broad range of styles, however, and many bands continue to experiment with various sounds. Indian rock band Euphoria pioneered Hind-Rock, and have infused their music with sounds from their native North India, whilst Indian Ocean have fused their harmonies onto Indian folk sounds and the complex rhythms of classical music. Alternative rock bands have started to proliferate. Avial, writing songs that speak about a wide range of social and political issues in their native Malayalam language, have a harder, electronic sound. Another band that explores traditional roots is Agam, whose music blends Carnatic music with progressive rock creating a raw but rhythmic fusion.
Folk Sounds India’s traditional folk music has its own contemporary musicians experimenting with the form, too. The Raghu Dixit Project amalgamates ethnic music from across India in a distinct acoustic style. La Pongal explore indigenous music, performing traditional folk music of Tamil Nadu in a new-age sound.
Western Classical For all that there has been a jazz scene in India since the 1920s, when African-
Photo http://24snaps.blogspot.in, posted by Pradan Raki
American performers came and played in Bombay and Calcutta, India is not at ease with the music form’s organisation, so different from the structure of its own classical forms, and jazz has struggled to break through. Yet, Western jazz musicians have long been fascinated by Indian classical music, particularly by the model of improvisation that lies at the heart of both forms. Madhav Chari is possibly the bestknown current proponent of jazz in India, an accomplished pianist who is grounded in many disciplines including blues, ragtime and classical music. The spread and following of Western classical music is even more limited than that of jazz in India. Few Indians are ever exposed to Western classical music, and there is little interest is what is considered an esoteric music form. The pianist Anil Srinivasan is the exception: he trained in the United States and the United Kingdom, and has gained a following in India by marrying the Indian classical tradition he grew up in with Western classical styles, creating a unique aesthetic.
Tune In Colonial Cousins http://tinyurl.com/ColCouBand Alisha Chinai http://tinyurl.com/AliChi Himesh Reshammiya http://tinyurl.com/HimResh Usha Uthup http://tinyurl.com/UshaU Euphoria http://tinyurl.com/EuphBand Indian Ocean http://tinyurl.com/IndOcBand Avial http://tinyurl.com/AvialBand Agam http://tinyurl.com/AgamBand Raghu Dixit Project http://tinyurl.com/RagDixP La Pongal http://tinyurl.com/LaPongal Madhav Chari http://tinyurl.com/MadhavChari Anil Srinivasan http://tinyurl.com/AnilSri Sivamani http://tinyurl.com/SivamaniDrum
Just Beat It Forging a path all on his own is the percussionist, Sivamani, who has worked on film and musical theatre soundtracks, and often in collaboration with some of India’s finest musicians such as Zakir Hussain and AR Rahman. He is an electrifying performer, blending Carnatic classical drumming styles with jazz and world rhythms to create a forceful sound. 1
Colonial Cousins perform at a concert in Melbourne
Anjana Sen grew up in army cantonments across India and her childhood revolved around books. “It didn’t matter if my family were looking at orchids in Sikkim or tea gardens in Nilgiris, I would live my parallel life with Enid Blyton!” she tells us. It’s not surprising that she settled down in Glasgow, Scotland, reliving her days of Enid Blyton. Anjana is in New Delhi after two decades, with her husband, who works in the power sector, and her daughter. A cup of tea and a book by her side, she tells us very thoughtfully, “It’s easy to find a million things wrong with Delhi, but I’ve been very happy here, mostly because I’ve had the luxury of time to do all the things I enjoy. Such as read as much as I can!” Which, we can see, she has been doing rather well as she rattles off the must-visit spaces for book lovers in the city. World of books Book reading habits are so different in the United Kingdom and other countries. I lived in China for two years in a village with no bookshops, and Zimbabwe for five years with just one old Colliery library. The books we had were just copies expats left behind, so I read ‘Mila 18’ about 18 times! New Delhi is a paradise for people like me. There are so many lovely bookshops, and books are so affordable, you don’t need a library! Anjana at her favourite book nook — Midlands in Gurgaon
Look who’s in town New Delhi
Capitally Booked 1 British bookworm Anjana Sen takes us to her favourite book spots in New Delhi, offering invaluable tips for India-bound expat book lovers
Book nooks My absolute favourite place in Gurgaon is the Midlands Book Store in Arjun Marg. It is a treasure house packed with goodies. You can never leave without buying at least four more books than you went in for, but then the prices here are so reasonable it doesn’t matter. I strongly recommend the Jaipur Literary Festival in January for people who enjoy a good read and a healthy discussion. You can register online for free, but you need to find accommodation well in advance as Jaipur hotels get very busy during the festival! Bookeroo is a Children’s Book Festival around the end of November, where kids (and adults) get to meet the authors, have books signed, attend readings and workshops. Tip time Explore open bookstores in Khan Market when the weather is nice, or the indoor ones like Om and Landmark in summer. Try and join a book club, there are quite a few in the Delhi/NCR area. I belong to the Delhi Divas (an extension of the Delhi Network), we meet once a month, and it’s my favourite time of all. Check out websites like Goodreads to know the latest in the world of literature. Indian must reads If I positively had to pick, I would recommend ‘Calcutta Exile’ by Bunny Suraiya, ‘The Namesake’ by Jhumpa Lahiri, ‘The Householder’ by Amitabha Bagchi and ‘Families At Home’ by Reeti Gadekar. When in the United Kingdom London is a book lover's heaven. Do try any of the Waterstones — their outlet in London’s Piccadilly is fantastic! For tourists, you can’t beat Blackwells in Oxford town. Another personal favourite is any Oxfam bookshop! 1
Fleur strikes a pose outside the Sita Cultural Centre
Look who’s in town Chennai
The French quarter 1 Dancer, teacher and therapist, Fleur Soumer from France tells us how to make the most of your stay in culturally rich Pondicherry When Fleur Soumer arrived in Pondicherry seven years ago, it was for a one-year sabbatical to learn Bharatnatyam, the classical dance form of Tamil Nadu. But as the year came to an end and the charm of Pondicherry with its quiet pollution-free streets made its way to Fleur’s heart, she simply decided to extend her stay. “I felt really at home because I come from a small city in France, where everyone knows each other and where you always have time for the other to talk or to just say a hello. So after a while in Pondicherry, slowly, when some shopkeepers would simply greet me even if they know I wouldn’t buy anything, it meant a lot to me. That sense of bonhomie is still there and now I can even talk to them in Tamil!,” says Fleur with excitement. Fleur today runs the Sita Cultural Centre that offers tourists a glimpse of the unique cultural blend of India and France. We follow Fleur’s footsteps to take in the southern French capital at its cultural best. French summers Spring and summer in France is the time for festivals: music, cinema, theatre…every city has its own festival and most of them are of really good quality. Such events are slowly growing in Pondicherry. Although it promotes more business companies than promoting art and artistes, people are keen on those evenings by the beach and I hope it will grow bigger and make Pondicherry a real artistic and creative centre.
Cultural must-dos • Enjoy a walk in the French area with the help of INTACH. The Director is a mine of information! • Visit the Café des Arts in Suffren Street. You can spend a full afternoon over there, just chatting with Indian-French locals, reading some books from their library, or simply doing nothing. • While Pondicherry is widely known to be a foodies’ paradise with its many French restaurants, I would like to recommend a meal at this little Italian restaurant called Umami on Bazar Saint Laurent Street. I love their fresh homemade pasta! When in France Take time to discover France’s countryside and keep a look out for local festivals for a taste of the country’s culture. Make the most of France’s diverse cuisine, from delicious pastries and chocolate sweets to cheese delicacies and fresh fruits such as rhubarb, strawberries and raspberries. If India has the mango, the king of fruits, then we have the berries, the princesses! For those who have never enjoyed the cold, definitely plan a visit to France in winter to enjoy the beauty of snow-covered fields, hot chocolate and warm wine. This reminds me, explore France’s vineyards! Best regions are Bordeaux, Bourgogne and Cotes de Provence. 1
Daniel (far right) on a cycling trip and chilling after the ride (inset)
Look who’s in town Mumbai
1 Brazilian Entrepreneur, Daniel Ferratoni, shares his experiences of living and travelling in Mumbai If you stop to consider Daniel Ferratoni’s life, Mumbai and its heady mix of experiences seem as far away as chalk and cheese. If Brazil, his hometown, is the epitome of the laidback existence, where even time seems to be on holiday, then Mumbai is where fast meets the furious and within that predestined relationship, a potpourri of experiences burst forth. Eight months in Mumbai as the business development manager at Grassroutes Journeys (www.grassroutes.co.in), an organisation dedicated to combat rural poverty in India through the medium of tourism, Daniel has managed to break through Mumbai’s tough exterior and journeyed into its soul, giving us rare insights into his expertise of social entrepreneurship and the impact it could create. “My India experience has made me wonder if we want to create a large social business that is complex and difficult to replicate, or do we want to make sure a social business is simple and straightforward, so that anyone can be an entrepreneur? I think there’s room for everyone in a new model with several definitions and a few hardened conclusions, and care must be taken to avoid using the base of the pyramid as a means to solely gain more profit. Rather, it should be a way to improve people’s lives,” feels Daniel. A direct connection to his association with Grassroutes is his penchant for travel. And that, for us is the least surprising aspect of Daniel. For when you come from the land of sun and sand, travel must surely be in your DNA! Here are some tips to travelling in and around Mumbai from Daniel. Brazil to Mumbai In Brazil, I am more used to travelling long distance, while in India, I tend to choose places that are close to the city and end up going there
more frequently. So, basically, in Brazil I plan trips more in advance than in India. Top three in Mumbai The three most beautiful quick getaway places are Purushwadi, Dehna and Kashid Beach. Tip time • Always get detailed directions. • Avoid the crowds. • Enjoy the diversity. Ladies Only! I was at the train station during rush hour in Mumbai and I was surprised to find a carriage that was totally empty. So I got in and after a couple of stations, I started to notice that no men were getting into this carriage. One lady even walked up to me and started to shout in Hindi. I could not understand the reaction because I was pretty sure I did not get into a Ladies Only coach. I got off at the next station and soon found out that the entire train was meant only for ladies! When in Brazil You must remember that it is not that easy to find people who speak fluent English and there are just a few vegetarian restaurants. Also, ask the locals and be informed of certain areas that are not safe for a visit. 1
December Calendar of events
Presenting the best of India’s events in different categories across the cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai and nearby suburbs
Art & exhibitions
Photo exhibition Chennai
Exhibition of paintings Mumbai
Artist Paula Sengupta portrays the stories of exiled Tibetans in an exhibition titled ‘Into Exile’. It focuses on the sacrifice of habitats, lifestyles and cultures of Tibet. The project dwells on memory as a repository and the cultural identity of two generations of Tibetians in exile who have never been inside the country. Contact 044-28332226 for more details.
The Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp, presents an exclusive collection of master paintings and engravings from the city in Belgium. Titled ‘Flemish Masterpieces from Antwerp’, the display will include a collection of 28 paintings and 28 engravings from the 17th century. Call 022-22844484 for more details.
Date December 5 to January 2 Venue Apparao Galleries, No.7, Wallace Gardens, 3rd Street, Chennai.
Date Till January 9 Time 1000h to 1900h Venue Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrhalya, Fort, Mumbai
Workshops & Events
English pantomime Chennai
International film festival New Delhi
The Little Theatre presents its annual Christmas Pantomime titled ‘The Lord of the Bling’. The pantomime takes the audience to J.R.R Tolkien’s Middle Earth with a story full of elves and hobbits, with catchy music, choreographed dances, fights, stunts and slapstick comedy. Call 09043574801 for details; tickets available on www.indianstage.in.
The 2nd Delhi International Film Festival brings the best of world cinema. There will be screenings of short films and feature films, paintings and sculpture exhibitions, poetry recitals, and more. Call 011-23743579 for more details.
Date December 6 to 9 Time 1830h and 1900h Venue Museum Theatre, Egmore, Chennai
Dance performance Bengaluru Famous dancers from Nrityagram, Surupa Sen and Bijayani Satpathy will present a dance recital titled ‘Songs of Love and Longing’. Book your tickets on www. bookmyshow.com. Date December 7 Time 1930h Venue Chowdiah Memorial Hall, 16th Cross, G.D. Park Extension, 2nd Main Road, Malleswaram, Bengaluru.
Date December 21 to 27 Venue Palika Kendra Building, Parliament Street, Connaught Place, New Delhi
Bharatnatyam dance recital Chennai Dr Srinidhi Karti Chidambaram, a versatile Bharatanatyam dancer, will be performing three concerts. The performances will feature the compositions of renowned musicians like Ranjani and Gayatri and Lalgudi G J R Krishnan. The performances also include a piece on a poem by Vairamuthu that depicts nature’s fury, and is inspired by the Uttarakhand floods. Contact the venue for details. Date December 20, 24 and 28 Venue Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, T Nagar; Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mylapore; Bharat Kalachar T Nagar, respectively.
Books on toast Chennai This is a book donation drive and sale where all proceeds will go to a charitable organisation. The underlying idea is to keep good books in circulation instead of having them lying on your shelves! The event debuted in Bengaluru last year and now is happening in Chennai. The Chennai sale will support Teach For India (TFI). Call 09884408574 for more details. Date December 1 Time 1100h to 1900h Venue Ashvita Nirvana, 33, 5th Avenue, Besant Nagar
Christmas carnival New Delhi The Christmas Carnival promoted by Dastkar will have an interactive programme for children with traditional craft workshops and other fun-filled activities. An array of festive
Christmas and New Year-related products and gift items will also be on sale. Call 01126803549 for more details. Date December 20 Time 1100h to 1900h Venue Nature Bazaar, Kisan Haat, Anuvrat Marg, Chatarpur, New Delhi
English theatre for children Bengaluru Aha Theatre at Ranga Shankara will stage an English play, ‘The Incredible Mullah Naseeruddin’. The play for children above 8 years is directed by playwright Pushan Kripalani. The Mulla stories are well known around the world for their universal and timeless wit and wisdom. Call 08026493982 for details. Book your tickets on www.bookmyshow.com . Date December 10 Time 1930h Venue Ranga Shankara, 36/2, 8th Cross J P Nagar, II Phase, Bengaluru
Dance conference Chennai The Natya Kala dance Conference 2013 is a six-day event that will investigate different aspects of dance from the view points of rhythm in rituals, rhythm in devotion and those in daily life. The conference offers art lovers a chance to understand the working of an artist’s mind. Contact the venue for details. Date December 26 to 31 Venue Nalli Gana Vihar, T. Nagar, Chennai
December Music and Dance Season Chennai Mylapore Fine Arts
The much-awaited season of the year in the city of Chennai, December plays host to a series of music and dance concerts. Culturama recommends the concerts and performances listed below, although do refer to local dailies and log on to www.kutcheribuzz.com for up-to-date details of performances.
The Mylapore Fine Arts Club is one of the popular sabhas of Mylapore area in Chennai. The club has been holding concerts at the same hall since 1959. This year the club has a list of well-known artistes on its schedule, including renowned vocalist sisters Ranjani and Gayathri who will perform on December 29. Call 04424997755 for details. Date December 8 to January 17 Venue 45, Musiri Subramniam Road, Mylapore, Chennai
Chennai Dance Festival
Chennai Music Academy Annual Concerts
The Music Academy is a landmark institution and sets the standard for Kartik Fine Arts will present a five-day festival Carnatic music concerts, with leading curated by dancer Anita Ratnam and Professor names in the classical fraternity gracing of dance, Hari Krishnan. The festival, called this hallowed auditorium. The concerts are ‘Purush’, is dedicated to explorations of the male scheduled in the morning, afternoon and dancers, from both contemporary and classical evening slots. Workshops and discussions traditions. Featuring powerful performances by by leading musicians will be also held. leading male dancers, the event also includes Call 044-28112231 or log on to www. discussions and panel presentations. Call musicacademymadras.in for the full 0-90948 29675 for more details. schedule. Date December 18 to 22 Venue Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mylapore, Chennai.
Chennai Margazhi Maha Utsavam
Date December 15 to January 1 Venue 168, T.T.K. Road, Alwarpet, Chennai
Chennai Kalakshetra Foundation
Kalakshetra is an acclaimed residential The Margazhi Maha Utsavam is a much awaited centre for music and dance, providing music festival held in December annually to holistic education in a serene and inspiring celebrate the Tamil month of Margazhi’. Catch natural environment. Kalakshetra’s annual internationally-acclaimed singer Aruna Sairam’s December music, dance and drama festival is concert on December 8. Sairam is especially highly recommended, so do keep a look-out renowned for her ‘Abhangs’ (devotional songs). for their schedule in the local papers or call Book tickets on www.bookmyshow.com 044-24524057. Date December 1 to 15 Time 1900h Venue Kumara Raja Muthiah hall, 28, Greenways Road, RA Puram, Chennai
Date Yet to be announced, generally around the last week of December. Venue Kalakshetra Foundation, Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai
Editor’s Note The music season is a more relaxed experience than Western formal classical music, so here are a few dos and don’ts: • Do book your tickets in advance. Tickets are sold at the venue. • Do stay as long as you can and take a side seat if you need to slip out as performances can last up to three hours. • Do catch a few end-pieces of performances as they often have the best numbers. Don’t hesitate to keep ‘tala’ or rhythm by beating your palms on your thighs rhythmically to show appreciation (Click here: http:// tinyurl.com/cfxqvl4 to watch how one form of the tala is done). • Don’t expect too many English explanations, savour the almost spiritual experience • Do eat lunch at one of the sabhas on traditional banana leaves. Brush up on your December Season vocab! Sabha: An assembly or gathering, in this case, of music lovers, promoting music, dance or art Kutcheri: Vocal performance or concert of classical music Ragam: The scale or set of notes that form the musical composition Alapanai: Explanation of the notes used in the song that is to be sung Mudras: Hand symbols used to convey some expressions Abhinayas: Facial expressions that show emotions Saapadu: The traditional South Indian meal that is served on a banana leaf Tiffin: A snack or an in-between meal such as dosas or idlis, and varieties of tiffin are served
Spotlight by Shefali Ganesh
1 The Rann Utsav is an Annual colourful celebration of music and dance representing the Kutch region in Gujarat, held between December 15, 2013, and January 31, 2014 The Great Rann Desert lies in Kutch, one of the most ecologically and ethnically diverse districts of Gujarat. The Kutch region virtually resembles a tortoise or ‘katchua’ and hence its name. While some parts of the desert are inhospitable, the region is famous for its contrasting landscapes and an indigenous culture. Hosted by the state of Gujarat, the Rann Utsav is an annual festival that offers visitors a chance to experience the wildlife, crafts, music and dance of Kutch. The monthlong festival celebrates the unique grandeur of the Kutch region, beginning in Bhuj city. Tourists
can take part in camel safaris and experience desert living in tents. NGOs and village co-operatives put up the best of their crafts on sale and one can get to watch artisans at work. The Rann of Kutch is a bird watcher’s paradise and also home to many endangered species of wildlife. The semi-parched grasslands of the Banni area have been developed as village resorts to showcase the region's architecture and culture. Colourful fairs are held on the banks of the Narayan Sarovar Lake and the moonlit landscape make for a beautiful experience.
1 Read ‘The White Rann', a book published by the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited and written by Hemang Desai to know more about the Kutch region. 3 Do Photograph the architectural marvels at Tera, a heritage village that has mosques, temples, step-wells, and even a medieval fort with frescos. 4 Locate Kala Dungar or Black Hills, the highest point in Kutch at 462 m where the desert and the sky merge into each other, making the place look like the edge of the earth. 2 Shop Handicrafts at Hodko, Bhirandiyara and Ludiya villages are a must-buy. And don’t forget to try the Gujarati culinary delights: Dhabeli, Gulab Pak and the traditional Thali meals. 5 Connect Watch glimpses of the festival here: http://tinyurl.com/o3oabbh and http://tinyurl.com/pggglt9
1 Learn about Cervical Cancer, the second most common cancer among women, worldwide from Dr.Padma Sundaram, MD, MRCOG of Global Hospitals.
Global Wellness Series Cervical cancer, a leading cause of death in India is easily treatable and an almost complete cure. India contributes 29% and 30% of the global burden of cervical cancer incidence and mortality in 2010. The factors that contribute to this statistics include: Lack of awareness, no disease symptoms, not knowing where to go. Currently, there is no national cervical cancer screening program in India. In the west, early detection through regular screening has aided to significantly control the prevalence of this disease, thereby, lowering its incidence. Prevention Although we do not have a population based cervical cancer screening programme like the western countries, Pap smears are usually available at most government centres, labs and private practitioners. These tests are very simple involving an internal pelvic examination and collection of a cervical smear. They are painless and take just a few minutes. The more consecutive years that a woman has a Pap smear, the less likely it is that she will have an undiscovered cancer. All women should however continue to screen themselves for cervical cancer between the ages 25-65 at 3-5 year intervals or as often as advised by their doctor. Cure Cervical pre-cancer treatment is available at government centres and private gynecologists. It consists of a procedure called colposcopy and removal of the abnormal cells/tissue by either cryotherapy (freezing ), or by small/large biopsy procedures with a loop. All these procedures are simple, can be done under local anesthesia and do not require the women to get admitted to the hospital . Following treatment of the pre-cancers the women will require check-ups as advised by the doctor to confirm that the cure is complete. 1
Picture story by Team Culturama
The Miracle Workers
Every year, at Culturama, we witness a miracle. The Annual Beautiful India Expatriate Photo Competition, now in its 16th year. Suddenly we believe in ethereal connections, because where else will you find 16 nationalities coming together in peaceful understanding of each other’s perspectives, each other’s perceptions, and each other’s disparate yet collective identities? We believe in magic, because where else will you find such a rich plethora of journeys bursting out of every frame in a riot of colour and expression giving you the feeling that each one is on a unique journey and yet together? We believe in the impossible because such tangible evidence of 555 entries celebrating togetherness is hard to come by. So, yes, we believe that this photo competition that remains oneof-a-kind is nothing short of a miracle and we live with that, as do you our reader, for the rest of the year. 1
01 Yoga by the beach “We had visited Varkala beach in Kerala and were standing on a cliff. From atop the cliff, we could see this yoga session happening below. It was interesting to see expats coming to India and learning so much about India and its culture through yoga.” Aurelie Marsan, France. 1st Prize in the Into India Category 02 Silence is golden “This was my first trip to Leh and I was amazed by the place. The picture shows an old monastery called Tsemo Gompa in Leh. We walked down to the monastery by sunset, with the captivating silence and serene surroundings for company.” Cara Louwman-de Bruin, The Netherlands. 1st Prize Places Category 03 Up close and personal “We were in Fort Kochi in Kerala at a place where we could see Kathakali performances at close quarters. The elaborate manner in which the artiste was applying his make-up was fascinating. It was almost ritualistic.” Marlon Pieris, Canada. 1st Prize in the Culture & Festivals Category
04 Happy morning “What I like about India are her friendly people and the way they oblige us with photographs. This photo was taken in a flower market in Chennai against the morning natural light. The smile of the boy with the colourful flowers in the background was very attractive.” Armando Bruck, Brazil. Overall Best Picture 05 Oh my sleeping child! “The photo was taken in Chennai at a construction site near where we stay. I found the scene to be an amazing contrast; amidst all the noise and the rubble of the construction, there was this little baby sleeping peacefully in her cradle hanging from the tree.” Meredith Chipperton, Australia. 1st Place in the Peace Category 06 Tears on earth “This little boy was sitting outside his house, all by himself. He had tears running down his face and looked like he had been punished.” Helle Stromholt, Denmark. Crowd’s Favourite Picture
At Global Adjustments
A Picture of Peace 1 More than 250 expatriates watched in fascination the display of photographs and the cultural programme on the theme of peace at Global Adjustments’ 16th Beautiful India Expatriate Photo Competition
On a quiet Sunday morning, an excited group of expatriates descended at the Sheraton Park Hotel and Towers, Chennai. There was a palpable sense of bonhomie, as expatriates proudly pointed out their photographs to friends and family, as they bonded over shared experiences, and as they settled down to soak in the glittering awards ceremony and cultural programme. It was natural, that feel-good energy, as Global Adjustments’ annual Beautiful India Expatriate Photo Competition has been, for the last 16 years, exclusively for them, by them and of them. This year, with the photo competition centred on the theme of ‘Peace’, there was that added energy of hushed reverence for a country whose roots are older than civilisation itself. You only had to see that reflected in the audience’s faces as they saw in rapt attention and awe the age-old concept of Peace through the spectacular demonstration of Kalaripayattu, an ancient martial art form of Kerala. “When we chant Shanti, Shanti, Shanti, what we are really doing is asking the universe to protect us from
natural calamities in the first Shanti, to protect us from people around us in the second Shanti, and to nurture our inner selves in the third and final Shanti. We wanted to explore this concept through our photo competition this year as the theme of peace seemed a fitting tribute and reminder to that ancient wisdom of India,” said Ranjini Manian, Founder and CEO of Global Adjustments and vision holder of the photo competition. Apart from a Kalaripayattu performance, a sequence of self-defence techniques were also demonstrated, ending with a celebratory dance by expatriates on the different manifestations of Shanti through popular Indian film songs. With 45 participants representing 16 nationalities, an astounding 555 entries were on display, divided into five categories – Faces, Places, Culture & Festivals, Into India and Peace. The judges for the competition were Robert Frittrang, MD, BMW India; Radhamohan, renowned and talented filmmaker; and Isadora Sellers, art historian and spouse of British Council Director, South India. Our gracious sponsors who made this mega event a mega success were – Hospitality Partner: Sheraton Park Hotel and Towers; Principal Sponsor: Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation; Co-sponsors: Mahindra Life Spaces, Cloud Nine, Ibaco; Associate Sponsors: Travel Masters, TWI, TMIC and Abercrombie & Kent and True India; Print Partner: Fuji Film. 1
They Said It! “Thank you so much for a beautiful and well-organised event. We had a very good time and enjoyed the beautiful pictures taken all over India and the performances! Well done!” | Cathy Maljournal “The sumptuous brunch at the Sheraton Park was the icing on the cake to our wonderful India event” Anne-Marie Fourtet “Fabulous event with Global Adjustments’ touch of exquisite taste and class.” N Ravi, Editor-in-Chief, The Hindu “My wife was a dancer in the Bollywood number and she loved it. We Finns are the opposite of Indians, for us silence is joy. Here, going with the flow and dancing in gay abandon with all noise is joy. We are attracted by the difference. Great cultural event.” Jyri Kontio, Managing Director Stera Engineering Left Page: (Clockwise from top Left): Welcoming guests with a dance, participants point out photographs, Kalaripayattu display in progress, Audience snapshot, Self defence demonstration, Right Page: (Clockwise from top left): Giving away the prizes are Isadora Sellers, Robert Frittrang , Radhamohan , our judges and N.Krishnan, General Manager – Sheraton Park Hotel & Towers.
Global citizen by Neil Miller
The story starts like this: A small company decides to throw a big event in one month’s time and invite a lot of important guests. Logic is sitting in the initial meeting thinking, “Are they nuts? We’ll need twice the number of people and twice the time to pull this thing off. They are going to make fools of us all.” 3 weeks before the event: Nothing happens. Logic says, “Ha, they are digging themselves deeper into this hole. I said it wouldn’t work.” 2 weeks to go: The key event owners make some casual plans about what needs to be done. Logic says, “It’s a little late now. There’s hardly any time left. There’s no way this is going to happen.” 1 week to go: Everyone is told what they need to do and put on high alert. A gerat deal of activity starts to happen. Chaos slowly comes to the office. Logic says, “What are you doing here? You think you can pull this off? Not even you can make this thing work.” 2 days to go: Chaos is in full control, telling everyone what they must do: printing, calling, arranging, yelling. Logic grows resentful, “Who gave you the right to boss me around? Where have you been this whole time?” Morning of the event: Chaos is in his height of glory and has forced people to show up at 6 a.m. Everyone is there, even Logic, who is bitter, but still comes. “May as well be here to watch it all fall down.”
battle 1 The eternal between Chaos an and Logic takes different altogether , meaning in India thing where the only work is that seems to chaos in to embrace finery all its logical 4 hours to go: Chaos is setting up chairs and the dais. Logic is worried about whether the souvenirs should be arranged symmetrically or in a design. 3 hours to go: The backdrop banner is put up only to reveal that the chief guest’s name is wrong. Logic leaps up and says “Ha! I was right! This is going to fail!” 2 hours to go: Chaos jumps on his motorcycle and goes to the printer and gets a new sign printed in 30 minutes. He then grabs a friend and weaves in and out of traffic carrying the 20-foot banner. Starting time: Chaos arrives and puts up the new banner. The chief guest calls and says she will be 30 minutes late. No guests have arrived yet. Logic is silent. 30 minutes later: The chief guest arrives, the correctly spelt banner is revealed, the event is a rousing success and all the guests compliment the food. Logic feels sheepish, but makes a list of all the things that didn’t go perfectly, and then eats the food. Day after: The whole team gathers and celebrates the amazing event and tells Logic that they will definitely plan it better next time. In India, Chaos beats Logic. Every time. Make sure Chaos is on your team. 1
Captivating Vietnam & Cambodia
1 Exotic and mysterious is how Vietnam and Cambodia can be described, according to travel guru Ramji Natarajan who heads TMIC, the preferred partners of Abercrombie & Kent ( A&K ) world’s leading luxury travel company.
With vibrant colours and breathtaking natural beauty, Vietnam is truly a blessed country. Its scenic mountains, ravishing coastlines, cities abuzz with life draws heaps of cultural interest from the world. Vietnam is also home to some of the best cuisine in the world. Cambodia, the mystical land rich with heritage has a glorious past with various cultural influences.
Must See in Vietnam
Museum of Ethnology – The only gallery in Vietnam for antiques, artifacts & art of Vietnam's 53 minority groups and the Kinh majority people. Ham Long Artist Village - A distinctive “village”, located close to the south bank of the Sài Gòn River in southern Vietnam. It has been envisaged in future as a focal point for visual arts development. Water Puppet Show – An incredible Vietnamese art form; combining traditional music, fireworks and elaborate puppets floating gracefully on water, which dates back to the 10th century.
Must See in Cambodia
Angkor Wat – Watch the dawn break over the jungle temples of Angkor, Cambodia’s crown jewel of architecture, along with a specially arranged Champagne breakfast at Ta Lek gate, Helicopter ride to Koh Ker and Beng Mealea – Explore the broken ruins of Koh Ker, a remote archaeological site in Cambodia.
Oxcart Riding – An amazing way to experience rural Cambodia and at Roluos Pagoda, a private blessing ceremony by the monks may be organized for you! Traditional Cambodian Shadow Puppet Show – Puppetry performance accompanied with Pinpeat orchestra in Cambodia, with puppets made from cured cowhide. Temple Dance Performance –The repertoire includes dances of tribute and the representation of traditional stories and epic poems such as the Ramayana by ornately garbed dancers. TMIC and Abercrombie & Kent’s extensive on-the ground connections, handpicked local guides and expert Tour Directors allow you to discover Vietnam & Cambodia closer than you ever imagined. Enjoy their incredible diversity, delectable cuisines, dramatic histories and natural beauty. Contact TMIC (Preferred Sales Agent for Abercrombie & Kent in India) for more details & book your next Holiday. Travel Masters India Corporation (TMIC) New #9, Visweswarapuram, Mylapore, Chennai – 600 004 Tel: +91 44-42899900 | +91 9884830042 | +91 9004229075 Email: email@example.com | firstname.lastname@example.org | email@example.com
Seeing India by Romulus Whitaker
Night riders There was no doubt about it. Some large predator had killed and dragged our dog 100 yards into the forest. The only thing that came to mind was – leopard. But we were Porcupine, the scourge of the kitchen garden! only 60 km south of the bustling city of Chennai! Even as I struggled to accept the new reality of a predator amidst us, I wondered what I was going to tell my wife, Janaki. Karadi, the big German shepherd, was her favourite dog and I knew she was at home, anxiously waiting for my return. When Janaki Lenin and I moved to our farm, near Chengalpattu, the first thing we did was to convert the 10 acres of farmland into forest. Planting and looking after those hundreds of saplings of local deciduous and dry evergreen trees was tough work but if you see the results now, 15 years later, you know it was well worth the effort. Our cool canopy of Neem, Palmyra, Jamun, Arjuna, Red Sanders, Katwa and many other trees are a great attraction to the over 100 species of birds that fly through or nest and feed here. And now that we’ve discovered the magic of camera-traps, we’ve been able to record over a dozen kinds of mammals, from miniscule pygmy shrews to awesome leopards. The Jungle Cat, with its short banded tail is a most handsome beast. Our colleagues, the Irula tribals, taught us how to locate (and avoid when necessary) the 25 species of snakes and 14 kinds of lizards here. We also learnt that using an ultraviolet torch is the way to locate scorpions while on a night walk (one night we counted 39 in one hour!) and now we are figuring out a way to identify the 20-odd species of bats that flit around after dark. Great horned owls live on the 750-foothigh forested hill overlooking our farm and serenade us as night falls. Nightjars, spotted owlets and collared scops owls (not to forget frog choruses during the rains) make up the rest of the evening symphony. All this incredible animal and bird life (and I haven’t even talked about the myriads of butterflies, dragonflies, grasshoppers and spiders that abound here) survives because of the remnants of what was once a huge Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest where tigers, bears and pythons roamed. What we now commonly refer to as ‘scrub jungle’ as we drive out of the city past the suburban villages of Thiruporur and Palm Civets are plentiful at Karadi Malai, and they love toddy!
1 Just 60 km from Chennai, when night falls, Karadi Malai Camp comes alive. It is the most happening night life you will find and an experience to cherish
Tambaram, is actually the same magnificent forest, trying to regain its former glory after having been chopped and reduced to its present state. Back in the 1970s we used to see press reports such as ‘Leopard Spotted Near Guduvancheri’ or ‘Spotted Cat Found Dead Near Poisoned Cow Carcass’. I thought that this must be the final demise of the few leopards still hanging on in this degraded jungle landscape just outside the city. Little did I know then that I was eventually going to move to a nearby farm where leopards are quite regular visitors! With the help of friends who study these beautiful cats we are looking at the contents of leopard scats we find here almost every month and finding out their diet consists of hares, porcupines, civet cats, jungle cats and occasional dogs and goats, all fairly small prey. Porcupines are nightly visitors and Janaki has a hard time growing any veggies thanks to these free-loaders. Civet cats are also regulars and we even reared a baby palm civet, or toddy cat, when we found it abandoned on our doorstep. The only animals we really have a serious problem with are the bonnet macaques. In our blissful ignorance we planted plenty of fruit trees along with our forest trees. The monkeys have a great time raiding our mangos, custard apples and bulls-hearts and the only fruit we have plenty of are limes, tons of them! We are in the process of making what we call a ‘biodiversity Index’, documenting everything we find on and around the Karadi Malai Farm, getting pictures of every plant, beast and butterfly and then inviting friends who specialise in these trees and creatures to come and stay with us and identify everything we are finding. It shouldn’t take more than a dozen years or so! Living at Karadi Malai, there is rarely a dull moment. And it is gratifying to know that although we stay in the suburbs of the Chennai metropolis of 5 million people (and growing!), we share it with a stunning wealth of wild plants, animals, birds and bugs. When we arrived here, the tallest hill in these parts that overlooks our farm had no name. Since Karadi’s bones were found at its base, we named it Karadi Malai. 1
A giant black scorpion absolutely glows in ultraviolet light. Photo: Gerry Martin
The first picture we got of the friendly neighbourhood leopard.
5 Join Us Every Saturday India Immersion Centre in Chennai facilitates 5 Join Us Every Saturday a weekly spiritual fellowship group following India Immersion Centre in Chennai facilitates Easwaranâ€™s Eight Point Programme of Meditation. a weekly spiritual fellowship group following E-mail us for more information at Easwaranâ€™s Eight Point Programme of Meditation. firstname.lastname@example.org. E-mail us for more information at If you are in other cities, visit www.easwaran.org email@example.com. for e-satsangs. If you are in other cities, visit www.easwaran.org for e-satsangs.
Holistic living by Eknath Easwaran
Inside Out Photo Teresa Kohl, Germany
Christine and I are fond of old movies, so I once took her to a real classic: The Garden of Allah, produced by David O. Selznick just three years before he made movie history with Gone with the Wind. It was pure Hollywood, overflowing with talent and flush with Technicolor. In the story, Marlene Dietrich plays a beautiful woman travelling in the Sahara who meets and falls in love with a man who calls himself “Boris,” played by Charles Boyer. But Boris hides a secret: he is really Brother Antonio, who has fled his monastery to seek the pleasures he fancies he lost by seeking God. Yet the more he struggles to find happiness outside himself, the more he is torn by what he left behind. Finally, after much soulsearching, he goes back to his monastery. Even the scriptwriter didn’t seem to find this convincing. But I thought it made a good metaphor. Movies themselves are rather like a desert escape. For a couple of hours we can forget ourselves in someone else’s fantasy. And, like Boris, we are looking outside for something we can only find within. I call this the “media mirage,” for the entertainment industries have engulfed us in a dream-within-a-dream world that promises to entertain and distract us every hour of the waking day. We have so much to choose from, but very little that is nourishing – and some that is directly harmful. In this sense, experience can be very much like junk food for the mind. You know the slogan “You are what you eat.” I would say, “No, your body is what you eat. You are what you think.” Just as the body is made of food, the mind is made of thoughts: everything we think, feel, and take in through the five senses. Everything the mind takes in becomes part of character and consciousness, and the sum of all that is who we are. That is why, though physical nutrition is important, nothing is more vital than what we feed the mind. After all, we consume food only part of the day. The mind eats all day long. Once we grasp this, we see that every day is a binge. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to have some choice in what goes into our consciousness. Just as there is junk food for the body, there is junk food for the mind. And that brings us to the mass media, for today most of what the mind gets to eat is prepared and served by the entertainment industry. Sooner or later, one way or another, what we assimilate this way begins to show in our behaviour. I don’t mean that we literally go out and imitate what we see on the screen, the way children often do. The real effects go deeper: we become more and more like the examples we choose to see. When we start looking at everything like this, monotony goes out of life. Making these choices wisely throughout the day brings a deep integration of character, conduct, and consciousness. The better you get to know your mind, the more
1 If food is nourishment for the body, then what of the mind? Sri Easwaran talks about why it’s important to be conscious of the inside because the mind eats all day long you realise that this is not just a question of the media. The mind absorbs everything around it – everything it takes in. Granny tried to teach me this right from childhood, though it took me half a lifetime to understand. Every year when school began, I would run home after the first day to tell her who I had played with and what we had done. “You don’t have to tell me who you have been with,” she would say. “I can tell.” “All right, Granny, who?” She would proceed to name every one of them. And she was always right. “Granny,” I would ask in amazement, “how did you know?” And she would reply with an old saying that was often on her lips: “We become like those we associate with.” It was only after I learned to meditate that I began to understand what she was trying to tell me. It wasn’t simply a matter of imitating others’ words or behaviour. Granny was talking about the formation of character: how we absorb the influences around us, which shape the kind of person we are becoming for better or for worse. The reason for this is simple: we participate in other people’s states of mind. Because we are physically oriented, we think states of mind must be separate just as our bodies are. But thoughts have no containers. Consciousness is a kind of mental atmosphere: mental states commingle like the air we breathe. Books, magazines, papers, movies, television, conversation – all these are part of the mental atmosphere we live in. To live in freedom, we have to ask ourselves constantly whether this is the kind of air we want to breathe, for these are powerful influences on the kind of person we are becoming every day. I said earlier that the mind needs nourishing thoughts, like kindness and good will. This is something to reflect on. Everyone desires kindness, but what we really need is to be kind. Everyone wants to be loved, but our real need is to love. Everyone seeks gratitude, respect, understanding; we feel starved when we’re treated otherwise. But what actually starves us is not showing gratitude, respect, and understanding to others. This is the surest sign I know of that all of us are one: by giving to those around us, we nourish ourselves as well. 1 Reprinted with permission from Strength in the Storm: Transform stress, live in balance & find peace of mind by Eknath Easwaran. Copyright The Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, P.O. Box 256, Tomales, CA 94971. www.easwaran.org
Photo Ben Bowling, USA
From the other side by Marina Marangos
An Indian Christmas 1 Christmas in India takes on a colour of its own with Jesus in a kurta, Mother Mary in a sari, and the spirit of the season permeating every little corner of the country As my first Christmas in India was approaching, I had an acute sense of needing to find the traditional in this sea of divergent spiritualities. I suspect that if there is something that India does best it is to find room in its vastness to accommodate every form of religion and celebration. In fact, Christianity was established by the first century by the most famous of Christian disciples, with St Thomas arriving on the shores of Kerala. The Christians at the time were considered Syrian Christians and later other groups were added, some of which I have never heard of before. It was not until the 16th century and the influx of the Portuguese colonialists that Christianity, in the form of Catholicism, became more widespread, but concentrated on the eastern shores of India especially in Goa. The British and the Americans followed a little later and their missionaries spread Protestantism around large swathes of southern India and some pockets in the north. Today, Christians in India may be approximately 2.5% of the total population; hardly significant, you might think, in this sea of other religions, which are more dominant. Yet, the importance of Christians in India cannot be underestimated as it is thanks to them that a large number of educational and charitable institutions
grew all over the country, to support the education of poor children or to give medical services to those unable to afford it. Mother Teresa in Calcutta is the most famous of these Christians who dedicated her life to serving the community. Serving the community was, in fact, something that I had come to appreciate in my very own neighbourhood. I headed out daily with my dog Tara and walked around the local gurudwara, which was quite special. It was the Gobind Sadan, 'The house of God', a multi-faith centre that had been started all those years back in this rather wild unkempt part of south Delhi by the followers of Gobind Sadan and Babaji, both important Sikh leaders who ask people of any faith to find God through hard work and meditation. It is a wonderful place where Tara and I found many friends who recognised us on our daily walks and would invariably invite me to sit down, have a cup of chai and have a conversation in my elementary Hindi and their sparse English. My first image of the centre, which is why I am telling you this, is Jesus Place. A wonderful garden of tranquility and repose, with members of the community coming together, whether to play cricket, share mangoes or give thanks to God. Jesus, as we know him, lanky, with long blond hair, stands
tall, arms outstretched and welcoming. He is somewhat transformed into a Jesus wearing beautiful Indian clothes which change with the seasons. So, orange kurtas and decorated cloaks make him such a special figure of veneration and one that all can recognise and feel close to. At Christmas time, the fairy lights came up and Jesus is dressed in especially festive outfits, while flowers and offerings, in perhaps the more Hindu traditions, lie at his feet and surround the beautiful gardens. Palm fronds are used for decoration and marigolds abounded, while sometimes little votive lamps lie flickering at his feet. This is the place that I could feel the spirit of Christmas and Christianity but where Hindu traditions and, indeed, others also played their part. Delhi has little to show for Christmas, although the merchandising is increasing over the years as more Christmas items appear in the shops. Christmas trees are not really available â€” well, not real ones â€” and I am not prepared to have a fake one in the house; so, my answer to that was to buy a conifer in a pot and use it every year as my resident and growing Christmas tree. It is not the biggest and not the best but it brought with it all the essence of Christmas on its small branches, which are decorated only with the most unique hand-made papier mache Indian baubles, which I have always treasured. Every Christmas tree I decorate will only have these decorations.
Midnight masses and carols services can be found around the city and there are expatriate singing groups that put up some warming Christmas carols as the season approaches. However, my most heartening Christmas blend came from spending my Christmases and New Years in Goa, which, of course, was invaded by the Portuguese all those years ago and where Christianity has been very strong. Christians are no longer the majority in the state. But you cannot fail to notice the plentiful Portuguese style churches and cathedrals, the Christmas lights and decorations that abound in every small town and in the bigger cities and the truly representational Nativity scenes from the story of Christmas, which dot the sides of roads â€” I have seen one on a river bed, the front lawns of houses and church yards. The celebration of Christmas for these Indian Christians is taken very seriously and getting into the spirit is only a part. New clothes are bought for the midnight mass and food is lovingly prepared and shared with families. It may not be a turkey, but a truly fiery vindaloo. The big star of Bethlehem is everywhere, shining down on the faithful, guiding them in their faith and for the year that lies ahead, and to us foreigners in this strange and disparate land, extending the hand of friendship and community at a time of giving. 1
Festival of the month
Christmas December 25 Christmas in India has the same underlying spirit, but the celebration of Christmas varies in this country of diversity. There’s much to do, to share and to experience and we give you Christmas “at a glance” in your city!
Photo Marlon Pieris, Canada
2 Eat/ Shop
Photo Yngve Andersson, Sweden
Handpicked options for picking up traditional Christmas goodies and festive décor. Mumbai: • Pick up gift hampers of exquisite raspberry tarts, Galloway pastry, Yule logs and more from Belgian patisserie Debailleul at Appasaheb Marathe Road, Prabhadevi. • Choice of roast turkey, cherry wood-roasted duck and honey baked ham, offered through the festive season at the Bombay Baking Company, J.W Marriott Hotel, Juhu. New Delhi: • Take your pick from traditional Christmas goodies like the gingerbread house, chocolate Santa’s, macaroons and more at La Baguette, Imperial Hotel, Connaught Place. • Epicentre, Apparel House, Sector 44, Gurgaon and India Habitat Centre for Christmas brunch • Christmas decorations can be found at handicraft melas or at the Christmas melas organised by international schools. Bengaluru: • Tango Calypso, Richmond Road has live music nights throughout December and a Christmas day five-course meal • Palette at Vivanta by Taj has an exclusive Christmas Celebration Table with all traditional Christmas delights • Shop for artificial Christmas trees and decorations at Commercial Street. ‘Floratech’ on Sarjapur Road sell real trees in big pots. The best butchers in town are ‘Bamburies’ on Richmond Road and ‘Abba Food’ on Aga Abbas Ali Road. Chennnai: • Taj Connemara Hotel, Binny Road, Mount Road for traditional Christmas delicacies • Sandy’s, R.A Puram, 1st Cross Road, R.A Puram has a great selection of cakes for Christmas • Go to Parry’s corner for Christmas tree and decorations or Saravana Stores, T Nagar, for economic decorations. For Christmas ham, ‘Crust’ is a good place to order from, and Turkeys can be ordered from different hotels in the city. 5 Love India has an ocean of people and causes to help. But often people don’t know where to start. Here are charities for the young and old
Photo Debora Zerneri known for the excellent work they do, with your donation going to the right person in an authentic way. New Delhi: • Salaam Baalak Trust: 2nd floor, DDA Community Center, Gali Chandiwali, Paharganj. The trust provides street children with the opportunity to experience the joys of childhood through its various centers across Delhi. Tel: 011 2358 9305 Mumbai: • Shraddha Charitable Trust: 14-19, Mahalaxmi Municipal School, B.Desai Road, Mumbai. Shraddha helps the autistic and mentally challenged young adults and markets products made by them. Tel: 022 23513735 Bengaluru: • Navachaitanya Old Age Home: Near Thimmarayaswami Temple, Horamavu Gandhi Circle, Banaswadi, Bengaluru: An old age home that provides comfortable, clean and hygienic boarding and lodging facilities with nursing and medical care. Tel: 080-65655555, 9448244695 Chennai: • Pathway: 12th West Street, Kamraj Nagar, Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai: Pathway does pioneering work with mentally challenged children and adults offering comprehensive care for them. Tel: +91 98400 29352 5 Pray Christians across the country mark the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas Day by participating in special midnight masses and day masses in English organised in churches. New Delhi: • The Cathedral Church of Redemption, 1 Church Road, North Avenue. New Delhi. Tel: 011-2309 4229 • Sacred Heart Cathedral, New Delhi: 1 Ashoka Place, New Delhi. Tel: 011-23363593 • Church of Immaculate Conception, Kenhi Village, Sector 44, Gurgaon. Tel: 0124-2380506 Mumbai: • Holy Name Cathedral or Wodehouse Church, Colaba, South Mumbai. Tel: 022-22020121 • Mount Mary’s Basillica, Bandra (West), North Mumbai. Tel: 02226423152 Bengaluru: • St. Marks Cathedral , #1, M.G. Road, Bengaluru. Tel: 080-22213633 / 22214201 • Infant Jesus Shrine, Bazaar Street, Vivek Nagar, Bengaluru. Tel: 08025301206 • Ashraya, Lemontree Hotel, St. John’s Road, Ulsoor. Tel: 09663395276 Chennai: • St. Luis Church, No.10, 3rd Canal Cross Road, Gandhi Nagar. Tel: 04422484912 • St. George’s Cathedral, Cathedral Road, Chennai. Tel: 044-28114261 • Santhome Cathedral Basilica, #19, Santhome High Road, Karneeswarapuram, Mylapore, Chennai. Tel: 044-24985455
Give to India by Shefali Ganesh
The Different Path 1 The path to serving the disabled is the only one known to the founders of Pathway, an NGO based in Chennai that rehabilitates and educates children with special needs since 1975 Inside a neat building in a busy corner of Chennai, Beena is absorbed with colourful beads and threads. She looks up with a shy smile to see who the visitors are and shows with pride the piece of fabric interwoven with beads. She and her friends are making a set of little dolls with the beads that will eventually form the Nativity Scene depicting the birth of Christ. This set is one of the most sought after products that Pathway’s children make. What makes them truly beautiful is that they are made by the special children who live and study at Pathway, a centre for differently-abled children. For its founder, Dr. ADSN Prasad, the word ‘pathway’ holds a special meaning; that of the little pathways in the human brain. During his practice as a speech pathologist, these many pathways were what Prasad worked with the most, trying to understand the nuances of how children with special needs think and communicate. “I became interested in the subject, because I had a differently-abled sister, Uma,
and I never really understood her,” says Prasad. And so, from offering his services for free to those who couldn’t afford his fees, to taking a needy special child under his wings, the idea of Pathway firmly took root in a two-bedroom rented apartment in Adyar. Chandra, his wife, joined him in his efforts to rehabilitate special children and slowly the numbers in Pathway grew. Now, four decades later, Pathway has blossomed into a national institution that has touched the lives of over 40,000 special children, with a thriving vocational unit centre and a state-of-the-art residential school for underprivileged children in the outskirts of the city. The main Pathway centre in Thiruvanmiyur has 100 resident and 200 non-resident special children who attend the government-recognised school for special children here. Pathway’s principle is that “a key factor that builds selfesteem is having a job and earning an income”. It is on this
tamil nadu Let your spirituality soar
principle that children who have finished basic education are taught vocational skills that guide them in some elementary employment. They print exquisite greeting cards and make jewellery using beads and waste that leaves one in awe of their perfect handiwork. Those who stay on and are above 16 years are given training in their in-house bakery that caters to corporate and individual requirements. Dr. Prasad believes that “converting liabilities to assets” is the underlying thought in Pathway’s work with children. Chandra is quick to point that “nothing ever goes wasted at Pathway”. Any food waste is converted to organic manure for the garden upstairs while onion peels and egg shells are seen in the paintings of children! “These wooden stairway banisters have been made at our vocational centre at Madhuranthakam in Kancheepuram,” says Chandra as she runs her hand lovingly across the banister that leads to the centre. The story of Dr. Prasad and his wife Chandra is a moving and inspiring one, for every little brick and stone at Pathway is a testimony to the sacrifices they have made, to the challenges they have faced and continue to do so, and most importantly, to the smiles they have planted on the face of every special child who has entered Pathway and been touched by its magic of giving, endlessly and unconditionally.1 5 Pathway is at E-76/1, 12th West Street, Kamaraj Nagar, Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai. Ph: +91-9840121859. Do contact them this festive season for gifts handcrafted with love or for orders from their bakery.
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reviewed by Praveena Shivram What is it about? As the title suggests, The Third Curve — The End of Growth as we Know It, gives a logical and lucid account of the fallacy inherent in the developmental model of our civilisation. It is specific to the rise of the industrial revolution 150 years ago when oil was discovered, and how we sacrifice all our tangible capital at the altar of a symbolic concept of money growth. In points out how in this model of growth, the deficit of our natural capital is never accounted for as the assumption is that as money grows perpetually, so to the earth will give perpetually, forgetting the crucial lesson: all of earth’s natural processes follow a Bell curve – they rise, reach a peak and then fall. The book shows us how we have reached the peak or the halfway point of using up crude oil (know more about the Peak Oil concept here: http://tinyurl. com/2jbmh4), the basis of our industrial growth, and that, from here on, the inevitable descent will begin.
Who is it by? Mansoor Khan was a popular Bollywood filmmaker, who gave it all up 13 years ago, to set up his cheese-making home-stay-style farm in Coonoor, Tamil Nadu. His first book is a result of his deep passion to learn and preserve the natural world and help people wake up and smell the smoke of reality.
Why should I read it? Read it because it is an urgent window of truth to our reality. Read it because no one has managed to present such heavy concepts in such a sincere, easy and interesting manner with illustrations that stay with you and words that impact you. Read it because you will need something to understand the world of chaos around you as we plunge into economic crises, social crises, spiritual crises, political crises, food crises, and more. Read it because when you really sit down and join the dots with Mansoor, you realise that all of our existence boils down (pun unintended) to how we use the earth’s natural resources. And finally, read it because this book is a wake-up call like no other and no book review of a few hundred words can ever do justice to the seriousness of our times and therefore, the indelible necessity of this book.
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Sun, Sea and Dance 1 Known to mariners as the town of the ‘Seven Pagodas’, Mamallapuram is famous for its Pallava architecture and also the annual dance festival hosted by TTDC 'Where ships rode at anchor bent to the point of breaking, laden as they were with wealth, elephants and gems of nine varieties in heaps’ was how the bustling port town of Mahabalipuram, or Mamallapuram as it is known today, looked through the eyes of the 8th century Tamil poet, Thirumangai Alvar. The port city was not just a trading destination; it was an architectural and cultural haven, carefully built by the Pallava dynasty in the 7th century. Little surprise then that even today it continues to be the hub of culture with TTDC’s annual Mamallapuram Dance Festival. For a month starting December 25, 2013, this festival has become synonymous with a rich diversity showcasing India’s heritage with beauty and grace. The dance forms that the festival will focus on include classical
forms like Bharatnatyam (Tamil Nadu), Odissi (Odisha), Mohinattam (Kerala), Kathak and more. There will also be folk dance performances like Thappattam (Percussion music), Therukuthu (street theatre), Mizoram Bomboo dance and Bomalattam (Puppet theatre). The festival brings together on stage nationally and internationally acclaimed artistes. The festival highlights not just the vibrant dance forms of India, but also focuses on the beautiful Shore Temple. The temple is the last of the seven such structures that were built by the Pallava dynasty kings. It’s elegantly lit up facade forms the background of the dance festival. The natural seashore ambience brings in global tourists who take in the performances and the architectural marvels of the town.
Did you know? Mamallapuram got its name from its architect King Narasimhavarman also called Mahamalla. It was originally called ‘Kadal Malai’ or ‘Hillock by the sea’ The Pancha Rathas or the five chariots are structures that were built in the 7th century out of a single, long stone! The other structures of interest here include Arjuna’s Penance, Krishna’s Butterball, Mahishamardini Cave and the Shore Temple.
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