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culturama your cultural gateway to india

December 2015 Volume 6, Issue 10

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Zooming in on India We look back at the 18th Beautiful India Expatriate Photo Competition Awards Ceremony and the winning entries

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Dear Readers, Life is what happens while we are busy making ot her plans. In this past month, two unexpected events happened – events that I will remember as long as I live. The second was waking up to a Whatsapp message. ‘The world is so unreal – Elyn Alvarado was blown up’, my daughter announced on November 14. She was referring to the Paris attacks – the worst in all of Europe, perhaps. It was even more poignant to us as 23-year-old Elyn had just graduated with my daughter in Boston. The first event was a Whatsapp message received on Diwali, asking if I would like to attend a talk by the Dalai

Lama. I jumped at it, leaving the family, fireworks and sweets behind, and spent the morning in a memorable way. The Dalai Lama spoke in the most cheerful way – as he relaxed and nibbled an apple in front of 5,000 listeners – of how he is committed to promoting oneness of all seven billion humans on earth. Of how religious paths are different but the message is the same of love and compassion. In retrospect, his two-step message is even more valuable: 1. Focus on similarity wit h ot her humans and we have no fear or anger. 2. Adapt to differences and increase tolerance and we would not feel lonely. This closing issue of 2015 is dedicated to our interconnected and interdependent world. Thank God for diversity that creates richness, creativity and strength in our world. One practical example was the images through the lens of people from over 20 nationalities at our 18th Beautiful India Expatriate Photo Competition. In the era of the selfie, positive images become even more important and we are proud to continue the tradition of celebrating our expats as adventurers, anthropologists and historians. Thank you to every one of our participants for their outstanding pictures – we are proud to display them, starting with the winners’ pictures in this issue, and will continue to interpret India with them for the rest of the coming year(s) via Culturama.

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Editor-in-Chief Ranjini Manian Managing Editor Yamini Vasudevan Sub-Editor Indrajit Dutta Business Head Archana Iyengar Creative Head Prem Kumar VP Finance V Ramkumar Circulation S Raghu Advertising Chennai Archana Iyengar Bengaluru Meera Roy Delhi/NCR Neha Verma Mumbai/Pune Arjun Bhat To subscribe to this magazine, write to circulation@globaladjustments.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 culturama@globaladjustments.com Bengaluru No.: A2, SPL Habitat, No.138, Gangadhar Chetty Road, Ulsoor, Bangalore- 560043. Tel +91-80-41267152, Email culturamablr@globaladjustments.com Delhi-NCR 1414, DLF Galleria Tower, DLF Phase IV, Gurgaon, Haryana – 122009 Mobile +91-124-4389488 Email del@globaladjustments.com Mumbai #1102, 11th floor, Peninsula Business Park, Tower B, SB Road, Lower Parel, Mumbai – 400013 Tel +91-22-66879366 Email mum@globaladjustments.com 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

Ranjini Manian Editor-in-Chief globalindian@globaladjustments.com

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publisher’s or the magazine’s.

A Special Prayer for Chennai At t he time we went to print, floods had engulfed t he city of Chennai due to t he (very) heavy Nort h-East monsoon showers. Our hearts go out to t he people who have been displaced or have suffered from physical or emotional hassles during t his period. We hope and pray t hat Chennai recovers from t his phase very soon, and t hat all t hose affected receive t he help t hey need in t he shortest time possible.


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Cover Image

The cover image for this month was picked from the winners of the 18th Beautiful India Expatriate Photo Competition. This photo, titled ‘Seeing Red’ by Anna Bozzi of Italy won the first prize in the ‘Culture & Festivals’ category. To see the other winning entries, turn to Page 68.

Advisory Board Members N. Ram is an award-winning journalist and former Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu. He is Director of Kasturi & Sons Limited, publishers of The Hindu. Suzanne McNeill lived in India for seven years before returning to Scotland. She is a freelance writer and graphic designer. Marina Marangos is a lawyer, and enjoys travel and writing. She lived in India for four years before moving to Australia. www.mezzemoments. blogspot.com G. Venket Ram is an acclaimed photographer and the creative mind behind many a Culturama issue. www.gvenketram.com

Contributors Susan Philip is a freelance writer based in Chennai, and the editorial coordinator of Culturama’s various coffee table books. Eknath Easwaran (1910–1999) was a spiritual teacher, author, and interpreter of Indian literature. In 1961, he founded the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation and Nilgiri Press in California. Jen Mullen is a language graduate, who has lived in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, sAustralia and India. Her greatest linguistic faux-pas to date was to call someone a buffalo in Tamil, whilst attempting to say "good morning". Preeti Verma Lal is a New Delhi-based freelance writer/photographer. If God had asked her what she wanted to be, she’d tell Him to turn her into a farmer who also writes lyrically; her fingers stained with wet clay and deep blue ink. Visit her website at www. deepblueink.com

Letters to the editor Dear Editor,

We are still enjoying reading Culturama magazine. Reminds us of the great times we had when visiting Chennai and Delhi. Donald Shortman, UK

Dear Ranjini,

I was thrilled to see the picture of myself as a young girl with Nehruji in the November issue of Culturama. I just returned from Delhi from where I had the privilege of performing for the 125th birth anniversary of Nehruji. It was a wonderful coincidence to read the magazine. Keep up the good work! Aruna Sairam, Carnatic singer and Padma Shri awardee

Dear Editor,

Greetings from Switzerland! It's always a delight when the latest Culturama appears in my email inbox. I really enjoyed the October magazine, with the fascinating and diverse stories of inspirational women in celebration of the International Day of the Girl Child. Thank you for bringing rich images and interesting articles to every issue, I very much look forward to my ‘India moments’ from far away through Culturama. Kate Nash, Switzerland

culturama – Subscribe Now! Get your copy of Culturama as a hard copy or as an e-magazine - visit www.culturama.in to subscribe For other enquiries, e-mail us at culturama@globaladjustments.com or call us on +91-44-2461 7902


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Contents 22

Ten for the Road

Trivia about an Indian state – featuring Odisha this month..

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India Now

A recap of the events and people that made news in the last month.

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India Writes

Our pick of the month from the world of Indian literature.

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Look Who’s In Town

Expats in India share their views about life in India.

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India Impressions

The spirit of giving, associated strongly with Christmas, is also the key message of India’s major religions.

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Short Message Service

Short, engaging snippets of Indian culture.

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Festival of the Month

Christmas is celebrated with gusto across India – we give you a pick of churches to go to for mass, the places to pick up goodies or have lunch and charities that you can donate to.

Journeys Into India 42

Konkani tiatr has not only survived changing times but has also thrived and adapted to suit modern audiences.

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Calendar of Events

See what’s going on in the main cities and suburbs.

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Seeing India

Lounge amidst tea gardens in Darjeeling or take a stroll through the roads of Sikkim.

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Holistic Living

To turn inward in meditation and rise above the pull of objects and experiences outside us, we need to harness our desires and use them as fuel to give us that heavy thrust.

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In Focus

Page 62: A look back at the Awards Ceremony for the 18th Beautiful India Expatriate Awards Ceremony – and the top winners! Page 78: Details about ‘Aspiration to Achievement’, an initiative by the Global Adjustments Trust for Empowerment (GATE)

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Give to India

Featuring worthy NGOs and charitable organisations across the country.

Relocations and Property 82

Space and the City

Property listings in Chennai. The Dhananjayans, India’s famous dancer-couple talk about their marriage, career and the key principles that define their lives.


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by Suzanne McNeill Short cultural snippets for an easily digestible India

Art/textile/craft Pahari Paintings

Photo: Francois Daniele, France

Photo: Anoushka Raval, UK

Pahari painting is a style of bright, colourful miniature painting on paper that flourished in the independent states of the Himalayan foothills of North India, particularly Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, from the 17th to the 19th century (pahari means ‘of the hills’). Two main schools of style developed: bold, intense Basholi, which combined folk art tradition with Mughal techniques, gave way to the more delicate Kangra style in which poses and gesture play an important role in the portrayal of individuals. Subjects are painted against backgrounds that feature a profusion of plants, trees and rivers in multiple shades of green. Pahari paintings are often themed around stories of love and devotion, particularly that between Krishna and Radha.

Photo: Helen Taylor, UK

Words Kaam vs Kam

Urban Adventure Mullik Ghat Flower Market, Kolkata

In Hindi and Urdu, kaam means work, task or occupation. The phrase ‘this is a difficult job’ translates in Hindi as ‘Yeh mushkil kaam hai’. Kam, however, is an adjective that means little, few or less and is found as a prefix in many words, such as kam-aqal, meaning ‘stupid’ or ‘foolish’, and kambakht, meaning ‘unlucky’. The Hindi phrase kam se kam is used in exasperation to express ‘at least’, and the phrase Kam se kam 2 minute to baito (with ‘2’ pronounced ‘dho’) means ‘Do sit for at least 2 minutes!’ It demonstrates how English and Hindi phrases can be mixed to ensure they are understood!

Sited just below the busy Howrah Bridge, Kolkata’s flower market is described by visitors as a sensory overload of smell and colour. Mullik Ghat Flower Market is the largest wholesale flower market in Asia, and caters to the city’s huge demand for marigolds, mango leaves and other flowers. The iconic image of the market is that of the porters walking along, seemingly buried under garlands of yellow and orange marigolds. It appears chaotic, yet, Kolkata’s Flower Market functions 24 hours a day. Visitors are advised to arrive around sunrise – and try the local tea.


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Photo: Ninn

da a-Marie Hoge

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Interpretations Across India cows do roam freely wherever they like – although major cities are bringing in laws to protect the traffic from these ‘brake inspectors’. The cow is revered above all other animals as the milk giver and hence the source of food and symbol of life, and Hindus consider feeding cows an act of holiness. In urban cities like the metro of Mumbai, they buy bunches of grass and feed the cow outside a temple, which is an entrepreneurship model for the rural cowherd! Western visitors are surprised to see cows eating whatever leftovers take their fancy, rummaging through the garbage. They even lick posters off walls as the glue used in some is made from rice. This amusing cow in the photo is licking the dishes that have been piled up to be cleaned.

Food and Drink Khadi – Punjab Punjabi cuisine is known for its rich, buttery flavours. Curries are thick and spicy and ginger is a favourite flavour. Punjabi khadi is a popular dish in which pakoras – vegetable fritters that have been dipped in batter and deep-fried – are combined with a tangy yoghurt sauce thickened with gram flour from ground chickpeas. The pakoras are made first and fried in oil until golden brown. Next, chopped onion, small cubes of potato and spices are sautéed in oil and then the sour yoghurt, which has been blended with the gram flour, ginger and more spices, is added to the pan and cooked for several minutes, stirring continuously. When the sauce starts to thicken, it is ready to be poured over the pakoras and served. Chef Harpal Singh Sokhi demonstrates, with advice and family anecdotes, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITJbPK22lFY

He/she lives on Kamala Das (1934–2009) Kamala Das was a renowned English-language poet and memoirist, and a writer of short stories in Malayalam. She was born in Kerala in 1934 into an aristocratic, literary family, and her early years were divided between the family’s ancestral village in Kerala and Calcutta, where her father worked. Das started writing in her teens and was at the forefront of a new movement in Indian English poetry, exploring themes that were passionate and personal with emotional honesty. Her poems appeared in cult anthologies in the 1960s, and she became an icon for women struggling to liberate themselves from domestic oppression. Later, she became a syndicated columnist, writing forthright articles that were both controversial and popular. Das travelled extensively to promote and read poetry, and her work was published in several languages. Born a Hindu, Das converted to Islam aged 65. She died in 2009.


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In Focus by Yamini Vasudevan

A Fine Balance For the Dhananjayans, dance is not just an art form or a life-long career – it is a defining aspect of their lives. India’s most famous dancer-couple talk about what one needs to inculcate art, the influence of technology on the performing arts and the awards that are truly close to their hearts Watching the Dhananjayans speak is akin to watching a dance. There is grace even in the tilt of the head or the movement of the hands; eyes light up and the lips move in synchrony with the expression of the movement. When one speaks, it is in complement to what the other is saying. There is perfect synchrony and synergy – a defining aspect of their career and marriage, both of which have stretched into several decades. Vannadil Pudiyaveettil Dhananjayan and Shanta Dhananjayan first met at the Kalakshetra. “I joined in 1952, and he in 1953,” says Shanta. They were students of Rukmini Devi Arundale, who was instrumental in enabling Bharatanatyam to break free from its stigma of being a dance of disrepute and become recognised as a worthy art form. In the late 1960s, they decided to set up their own dance school – Bharata Kalanjali, which today is one of the most recognised dance schools of India. With over 65 years of their life dedicated to dance, it is little wonder that they literally live and breathe this art form. Photos: C.P. Satyajit


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tamastu maa vidvishaa vahai Om Shanti Shanti Shantihi. It means that peace prevails only when you work together, develop your skills together, share whatever we have with others. We try to practically live out the meaning of that shloka.” Culturama caught up with the Dhananjayans – here are excerpts from the interview.

What is the most important element when it comes to learning any art form? V.P. Dhananjayan (VPD): All of them. Art is very special – whether it is music or natyam (dance) or painting. Initially, the talent must be there. And we have to ignite it. To develop art, to be an artiste, you need discipline, devotion and dedication – these three aspects are essential. Discipline means physical, mental and spiritual aspects. Our traditional system of education has all these aspects and art is an inherent, integral part of our education. We refer to our traditional system as samskara – which roughly translates to mean ‘culture’, but it has a much deeper meaning. It refers to doing everything well – which is why you need all the three aspects mentioned above. Shanta Dhananjayan (SD): I agree with what he has said. There is a lot of dedication needed – you have to give your life for art. You can’t say, ‘This is my job, and this is my art.’ You have to be a ‘full-time artiste’. It has to come from within – not by you forcing yourself or pushing yourself to perform.

Awards and felicitations have been aplenty. They are recipients of the Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian award, for the development, preservation and propagation of the best of the Kalakshetra tradition of Bharatanatyam. The Rukmini Fellowship Award, the G.D. Birla Award, Arsha Kala Bhushanam (awarded by Swami Dayananda Saraswati) and the Natya Kala Nidhi are but a few of the other awards that have been bestowed on them over the years. Ultimately, the awards are but a testimony to the manner in which they have inculcated the essential principles of the art form and live them every day, every hour. As V.P. Dhananjayan says, “There is a shloka – Om sahanaa vavatu Sahanau bhunaktu Saha veeryam karavaa vahai Tejasvi naa vadhee

As a couple who share a home and a stage, how have you maintained a strong bond – personally and professionally – over all these years? SD: We grew up together; I was eight or nine years old when I first met him. There was no ‘love’ born at that time. We grew up in the same institution [Kalakshetra], sharing the same art form...like sharing our life together. So, there was no way of thinking, ‘Oh, this is my life, and this is how we have to find a connection on stage or off stage’.


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VPD: We have been very lucky. God has been very kind to us from the beginning. We came together in Kalakshetra... the atmosphere there was so congenial to developing the deep human bond with our fellow students and teachers. We were also very lucky to have a family background with a give-and-take attitude, which helped us understand each other much better. So, in our profession, we never had any clash or ego problems. SD: We also had very strong support from our families. In fact, when we started to think, ‘This seems to be enough – should we undertake another trip?’, they would be the first ones to encourage us. They would say, ‘This is the time for you to do more.’ We had kids, and they helped us take care of their needs. VPD: Individually, we have our own stands. She is very strong; I am also very strong. She is a Leo and I am a ram (Aries). But we don’t encroach upon each other’s

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“You have to give your life for art. You can’t say, ‘This is my job, and this is my art.’ You have to be a ‘full-time artiste’. It has to come from within – not by you forcing yourself or pushing yourself to perform.” independence, be it in thinking or taking decisions. For instance, I am very open and very bold, and I am not very diplomatic – but that is not good for relationships. She is very diplomatic. So we balance each other very well.

Thanks to the Internet, we can now view almost all stage performances at the click of a mouse. How has technology impacted the interest in live stage performances?


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SD: I feel that watching a video and watching a live performance are two different things. You might hear M.S. Subbulakshmi’s record a hundred times. But if she is singing in front of you, even if it is the same song, you want to look at her and feel her presence. This is the same for dance. Watching a video is very mechanical in a sense. Nothing like watching it directly, at that moment, with your naked eye. VPD: When you see a live performance, it touches your heart. When you see in it on YouTube, it just entertains you. However, watching a performance online kindles the interest to see the live performance. Actually, today, there is plenty of demand for live performances. Whenever we have festivals or concerts, we see a lot of people coming. One reason is because they have seen somebody on YouTube – and want to see that person perform live. People who have migrated overseas develop a special interest in our culture – and that is to some extent because of technology. If you use the media judiciously, properly, it helps to advance the right kind of interest and also helps to preserve our art forms for posterity.

Is there any other dance form that you would say is close to bharatanatyam? VPD: Looking at the classical art forms from most of the other countries, we see a lot of similarities, especially Ballet. We have worked with Ballet dancers; we produced Jungle Book with a combination of Ballet and Bharatanatyam dancers. We stuck to our own identity, they stuck to theirs, but we amalgamated the two styles so well, people thought we were following the same technique! The Eastern dance forms – from Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia – they share our basic stances and rhythm. Classical art forms all over the world have [common] links. Natya Shastra (the ancient treatise on dance) shows the link to any kind of movements [or techniques] developed anywhere in the world.


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“She is very strong; I am also very strong... But we don’t encroach upon each other’s independence.”

Even some African tribal dance movements have been described in the Natya Shastra. When you look at the karanas described in the Natya Shastra, each karana has some similarity with some other technique from classical art forms in other parts of the world.

Over six decades of performing – numerous performances, awards and felicitations. Any one award or performance that sticks in your mind as especially significant? VPD: There is one very special award I would like to mention. Pandit Ravishankar was supposed to be given an honour by the Chinmoy Peace Foundation in the United States. He was to receive a World Peace Honour. We were supposed to land in California and visit Panditji there. What was a real surprise was that Panditji had asked the organisers to give the award to us! He said, ‘They are the best example of world peace.’ He was so magnanimous! We were supposed to be driving to be his house when they drove us to a five-star hotel and took us to the conference room. Inside there was a big poster of us – and that was when we knew that the award meant for Panditji was transferred to the Dhananjayans. [This was in 2003 or 2004.] Another instance is from almost 40 years ago. An old peasant from Nellore in Andhra Pradesh saw our programme and gave me five rupees. He was literally in tears because he liked our dance so much. We were doing the Dashavataram

(the 10 avatars or appearances of Lord Vishnu on Earth), and he said he literally saw Vishnu before his eyes. Another touching event was in Atlanta, where we had performed. A little boy of around seven walked up to me and said, ‘This man is the best bharatanatyam dancer!’ I said, ‘You write it down for me – this is the best certificate I can get!’ He ran up to the bathroom, took out some tissue paper, borrowed an eyebrow pencil from someone and wrote down that sentence for me! SD: Once, in Canada, he did a piece called The Pregnant Deer – the deer is pregnant and it is looking to give birth, and then nature comes to the rescue. When he came to the delivery of the fawn, he shows it in the Kathakali tradition. After the performance, a Canadian lady came rushing onto the stage. She had tears in her eyes, and she said, ‘I am a gynaecologist, and I see childbirth every day. You are a man – how can you feel the pain of childbirth so literally? I almost wanted to come up and help you deliver!’ All this makes you aware that there is something divine in art that can reach people. VPD: These are some special awards, apart from the physical awards we have received, which we are very grateful for and humbled by.


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Advertisers Feature

An Ode to Dance The Mammallapuram Dance Festival, to be held in December and January, showcases numerous Indian dance forms and performers from across the world Music, dance and drama are an essential part of the people’s lives in Tamil Nadu. And given that Chennai is the ‘cultural capital’ of India, a number of cultural fairs and festivals are held here throughout the year. Of these, one of the most famous is the Mamallapuram Dance Festival, organised by Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC). The month-long festival, is usually held in the months of December and January. This year, it will run from December 20, 2015 to January 20, 2016. First organised in 1992 to celebrate local art forms, the Dance Festival is held within the temples of Mamallapuram, which are regarded as architectural wonders in their own rite. Over the years, this cultural extravaganza has attracted performers from various parts of India – Tamil Nadu,

Photo: Bart Pagoda (www.bartpagoda.com)

Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, Karnataka, Kerala, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Odisha, Assam, Sikkim, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Performers from different parts of the world, such as The Netherlands, Ukraine, Suriname, South Africa and Dubai, have participated as well. Over a 100 performances of various dance forms will be on view. The South Zone Cultural Centre, Department of Arts and Culture, and the various State Tourism Departments have sponsored a variety of dance forms. Visitors will be treated to classical dance forms such as Bharathanatyam, Kathak, Odissi, Mohiniyattam and Kuchipudi, as well as folk dances such as Karagam, Kavadi, Kokkalikattai Attam, Bommalatam, Therukoothu, Thappattam and Oyilattam. The entire event plays a very crucial role in bringing out the cultural diversity of India – hence, it is also known as the ‘Indian Dance Festival’. A large number of tourists from across India and other parts of the world flock to this cultural extravaganza year after year. Last year, the festival saw an estimated 35,000 attendees, of which 15,000 were foreigners.


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29 Indias: One Nation, published by Global Adjustments, has 10 handpicked snippets about each of the Indian states. Read the book for free at www.globaladjustments. com. Global Adjustments has created an animated video that captures the cultural markers of all 29 states: http://tinyurl.com/ m734xsm

Ten for the Road by Susan Philip

Odisha

Explore the 29 states of this fascinating subcontinent. This segment will set out a collection of interesting, bite-size facts from each state – this month, we look at Odisha 1.

How the Land Lies: Located in eastern India, this state was formerly known as ‘Orissa’. Its coast hugs the Bay of Bengal, and in the hinterland lie rolling hills and lush plains, drained by major rivers. The capital is Bhubaneshwar.

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Political Pressures: History changed direction when the iconic Emperor Ashoka did battle with the region’s Kalinga kingdom. The courageous resistance put up by the coastal realm left such a trail of devastation that it caused the Emperor to turn away from warfare, to the non-violent teachings of the Buddha. From that point on, Buddhism spread throughout Asia.

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Past Glories: Great monarchs, such as Kharavela, Samudragupta, Jajati Kesari and Raja Raja Chola, have left their mark here. Pushpagiri, a Buddhist centre of learning ranked with other ancient institutions of international repute like Takshila and Nalanda, flourished here roughly between the 3rd and 11th centuries.

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Ethnic Fingerprint: The earliest human settlers here were primitive hill tribes. The Saora tribe, in particular, finds a mention in the great Indian epic Mahabharata. Members of the tribe can still be found across the state.

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Culture Quotient: Odissi, a classical dance form of India, which originated in this region, is also the oldest surviving genre in the country. Folk dances, such as the Ghumura, Chhau, Dalkhai and ‘Tiger Dance’ are also popular.

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Personality Plus: Tulasi Munda, a tribal girl, was uneducated until, at the age of 12, she went to work in the mining village of Serenda. She earned a meagre Rs. 2 from cutting stones and

sifting iron from waste. In her free time, she taught herself the alphabet. She came in contact with social workers like Malti Chaudhary and Nirmala Deshpande and social reformer Vinoba Bhave. Inspired, she set up an evening school for tribal children at Serenda in 1964, and many more since then – liberating youngsters from a lifetime of illiteracy and labour. 6.

Sights to See: Known as the ‘land of temples’, Odisha offers a feast for the devout as well as the archeology buff. The Sun Temple at Konark is world famous. The Ambika temple set against the backdrop of thick forests and thundering waterfalls and the Ghanteshwari Temple, where the preferred offering to the deity is a bell, are off the beaten track.

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Tasty Treats: Fluffy white, sugar syrup-soaked rasagollas and the ubiquitous kheer (rice pudding) took form here around 2,000 years ago. Legend goes that the rasagolla was invented to appease Goddess Mahalakhsmi, but the claim is hotly disputed by West Bengal, with which the milk sweet is better associated.

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Crafted with Care: It is believed that the art of sand sculpture originated here. The first such sculpture is said to have been made way back in the 14th century. Sudarsan Patnaik the best-known exponent of the art in India, has won national and international acclaim. His Golden Sand Art Institute at Puri trains those who are interested.

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Worshipfully Yours: The ‘rath’ or Car festival at the Jagannath Temple at Puri is famous, not least for generating the English word ‘juggernaut’. The kitchen at this temple is said to be the largest in the world, with over a 1,000 chefs working to feed huge crowds of devotees each day.


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India now by Susan Philip

The month that was

As we enter a new month, we quickly recap the events, people and places that made news in the past month

not only for the city but for the whole of Tamil Nadu, was extremely active – so much so that the city and its suburbs have been floundering in the unprecedented rainfall. Rainrelated incidents claimed over a 100 lives across the State, and there was significant loss to property. People living in low-lying areas and along the banks of canals, lakes and rivers had to be evacuated.

Business Matters Improved brand image The Brand Finance report on the most valuable nation brands in the world has moved India up from the eighth to the seventh position this year. The country’s ‘brand value’ has gone up 32 per cent to $2.1 billion – the highest increase among the top 20 countries on the list.

Politics and Polity The people have spoken The northern Indian State of Bihar went to the polls in five phases, in a carefully planned exercise, and returned incumbent Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to office. The high-voltage battle saw the coalition of parties called Mahagatbandhan, led by the Janata Dal (United), triumph over the opposition, chiefly the BJP, which is in power at the Centre. Also triumphant was Lalu Prasad Yadav, one-time Chief Minister of the state, and leader of the RJD Party, which emerged as the single largest victor in the State. Did you know? When Lalu Prasad Yadav was the Minister of Railways in the Union Government, the loss-making institution achieved a turnaround. Though this was contested in some quarters, the feat was introduced as a case study by the prestigious Indian Institute of Management as part of its curriculum.

It’s Happening Now It never rains – now it pours Chennai is infamous for its water problems, but this year, the northeast monsoon, the single largest source of rainfall

Brand Finance uses the ‘royalty relief mechanism’ to value the nation brands, and the ranking is based on the forecasts of relevant parameters for five years. Q: The report commended a popular slogan on India. Can you guess what it was? A: “Incredible India!”

Sports Spots Viru calls it a day Swashbuckling Indian cricketer Virender Sehwag has bowed out from the international avatars of the game, as well as the Indian Premier League. The stylish batsman made the announcement on his 37th birthday. He is considered one of the greatest opening batsmen the country has produced, and was a handy off-spin bowler. To get an idea about the contributions of ‘Viru’, as he is affectionately known, to the game, take a look at http://tinyurl.com/nnmohqz


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End of an Era A hero bows out

Doubles delight Year 2015 has been a great one for Sania Mirza. The Indian tennis ace and Swiss veteran Martina Hingis clinched their ninth title at the WTA Finals in Singapore recently. They defeated Spain’s Garbine Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro to lift the Women’s Doubles trophy. The other titles they put under their belt this year are Indian Wells, Miami, Charleston, Wimbledon, US Open, Guangzhou, Wuhan and Beijing.

A legend of the Indian automotive industry, Brijmohan Lall Munjal, Founder-Chairman of Hero Motocorp, is no more. The Hero Group had a humble beginning, as a small business manufacturing bicycles components in the 1940s, and went on to become one of the country’s largest business entities, valued at around $4 billion. Hero MotoCorp has been the world's largest two-wheeler company for the past 14 years. Mr. Munjal, who was 92, succumbed to a brief illness. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan, one of the country’s highest civilian honours, in 2005, in recognition of his contribution to trade and industry.

Q: Sania is married to a famous sportsperson from another country. Can you name the person, the sport and his country?

Q: The Hero Group entered into a joint venture with a company from another country, and it became the world’s single largest motorcycle maker. Which company partnered Hero, and what was the name of the JV?

A: Shoaib Malik, cricket, Pakistan.

A: Honda of Japan; Hero Honda. The partnership ended in 2011.

Awards and Accolades

This and That

With tender loving care A maid of Indian origin who has been looking after a disabled lady in Singapore for the last five years has been declared a ‘model caregiver’ by the Asian Women’s Welfare Association (AWWA). Easwari Shellaiah (pictured) has been taking care of her employer, a widow, who suffered a stroke, since 2011. Easwari not only takes care of her physically but also sees to it that she is in good spirits. Forty-seven-year-old Easwari comes from a poor family in Tamil Nadu, and started helping out at one of the institutions of the Missionaries of Charity since she was 14. She moved to Singapore in 1986 to work with a voluntary welfare organisation. Did you know? Nurses and trained caregivers from India are much in demand all over the world for their dedication and professionalism.

Top honour for ‘God’s own country’

The scenic wildlife sanctuary of Thekkady in Kerala has won the inaugural Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) CEO Challenge 2015 and been given the Top Destination award. It shares the honour with Albay in the Philippines. The award carries a purse of 500,000 dollars, which is to be utilised to create a digital marketing campaign to popularise the destination internationally. Located on the banks of the Periyar River which flows through the southern Indian State of Kerala, Thekkady is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. To learn more about this beautiful reserve, log on to http:// idukki.nic.in/thekkady.htm


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India writes

iREAD

Heaven’s Above by Michael Anderson

Reviewed by Yamini Vasudevan

The book’s title is drawn from the eponymous block of flats that the story is centred on. Residents of the apartments within are a veritable salad bowl of personalities. A lonely bachelor who spies on a new resident and is drawn to her beauty. A Bollywood starlet of yesteryear who hides a secret about her son. A servant who lives in fear for his job after the death of his older employers. An elderly lady from a royal family who is beset by real-life memories of her illicit lover. A young man who, torn by grief over his wife’s death, is contemplating suicide. And there is a crow. As the stories of each of the residents are told in the form of short stories, the crow makes serendipitous entrances in all of their lives. Nicknamed ‘Kavas’ by one of the residents, it helps nudge events towards a better outcome – like a quiet guardian angel – and flies away once its job is done. From dropping a love letter in the right balcony to hopping around and alerting someone of imminent danger, its presence is tangible and its efforts are appreciated. And lest someone wonder why a crow of all beings was chosen for this task – spoiler alert – the author brings in a sadhu or holy man to tell us of a story about a prince who is cursed to take this form and wait for redemption. While Indian movies have had several animals, bird and even rodents playing key roles of a similar nature, the entry of a crow might seem flippant to Western readers. Nonetheless, the story has its share of merits as well. One gets to see almost all sides of life through the eyes of the residents, and experience their emotions. Happy endings apart, each story has a clear sense of closure that leaves a reader feeling content. And, given that the chapters are structured more as a set of short stories, there is no great need to hold to memory each and every character or event that is mentioned in previous pages. The book is an easy read with simple, clear language. While there are a couple of local terms thrown in that might require some crosschecking for non-Indians, they do not pose a hurdle in any way. In all, a good book to have on hand if you foresee a couple of hours that need filling.

About the Author: Michael Anderson was born and brought up in Mumbai. He left India when he was 18, and settled in London (and lives there now). Michael has published two collections of short stories – Gardening by Moonlight and Nighthawks. You can visit his website at www.michaelanderson.org


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– Maayan Gutgo

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Photo: Carlo Sem, Italy

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Feature by Susan Philip

The True Spirit of Giving Give until it hurts. – Mother Teresa Christmas is coming. Santa Claus is coming. ‘Tis the season for gifts. The Bible recounts how poor shepherds came down from the cold hills surrounding Bethlehem to see baby Jesus, bringing with them what rudimentary gifts they could find; how three wise men travelled vast distances with exotic presents fit for a king – gold, frankincense and myrrh. Both types of gifts were equally valid, valuable and meaningful. They were given from the heart, just as the baby himself was – a gift from God to all mankind, because He loved the world so much. Giving is inextricably linked with Christmas. Of course, most of the gifts are to family and friends, but the poor and the needy are never forgotten. Keeping time with the season of goodwill towards all mankind, here is a look at the viewpoints about charity and service in the major religions of the subcontinent. Apart from the act of selfless giving, Christianity emphasises the importance of service. The Bible says that any help one gives the needy – the hungry, the thirsty, the naked – is considered service to God himself, and will earn the helper heaven’s blessings. Acting on this,

Christian missionaries have travelled the world, caring for the unwanted, the destitute, the sick and the dying. The same sentiments are associated with other major religions in the subcontinent. As 2015 draws to a close, and we look out with hope on the prospects that 2016 will bring, let us delve deep into our psyches and answer the universal call of all religions to respond, in pure generosity, to whatever the need of the hour may be, so that we bring hope to the hopeless, and a smile to the face of God. Here, we bring you the essence of four major religions of India – Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Islam – with regard to service and charity. Short stories that illustrate the teachings are also included.

Photo: MIchael Stroband, Germany

While the occasion of Christmas is always linked to the joy of giving and receiving, this sentiment is common to all other major religions followed in the Indian subcontinent as well. Here is a montage of viewpoints and lore about charity and service in Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Islam


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Hinduism Give. Give with faith. Do not give without faith. Give with sensitivity. Give with a feeling of abundance. Give with right understanding – Taittiriya Upanishad Daan or charitable giving is an integral part of a Hindu’s religious duty. Hinduism holds that all living beings are interconnected because the Divine is present in all creatures, and hence there is no ‘other’. Service to those in need and giving to those less fortunate are service to God. Selfless service, Hindus believe, leads to the betterment of the lives of the needy and also the spiritual growth of the person who performs the service or charity. Swami Vivekananda, who awakened the Western world to Hindu philosophy, held that selfless service to alleviate the condition of the suffering humanity, with no regard to one’s own comforts and needs and with no selfish hope of reward of any kind,

Photo: Meredith Chipperton, Australia

is one of the paths to salvation. From this principle springs the concept of need, as opposed to greed. Both Gandhiji and Swami Vivekananda advocated limiting personal needs so that there might be a more equitable division of resources. Vinoba Bhave, one of Gandhiji’s disciples, embarked on an unprecedented ‘Bhoodan’ movement, in which he sought gifts of land for the landless from the landed community.

King Rantideva gets moksha King Rantideva was not only a very good ruler, his people were also prosperous and happy. All well went until one year, there was a famine. The king threw open his granary to the public, and then gave his palace and his belongings for the use of the public. Still, the famine continued.

Illustrations: Lalithaa Thyagarajan

Rantideva prayed to Lord Vishnu, and fasted. He became thinner and weaker, until, on the 48th day, his Ministers convinced him to break his fast. They found him some food and a glass of water. Just as the King was about to start eating, he saw a hungry man. Rantideva immediately handed over a portion of his food to him. Then another man appeared, and yet another, till the King had given away all the food. Only the glass of water remained. Just when Rantideva was about to drink, he saw a Chandala, a man from one of the lower classes, looking longingly at his glass. The king held out the water to him. “No, no…I’m a Chandala and am from a lower caste …I can’t take your water Sire,” said the man. “You’ve been made by Lord Vishnu. You’re no different from anyone else. Here, drink,” replied King Rantideva. There was a flash of light, and there stood the whole phalanx of Gods, Lord Vishnu among them. “This was a test to prove that you are one of my greatest devotees,” the Lord said to the King, and granted him moksha or salvation.


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Sikhism One who serves and seeks no recompense finds union with the Lord. – Adi Granth Community service is an integral part of the practice of Sikhism. All Sikhs are encouraged to undertake service of some kind whenever possible. It could take any form – cleaning temple premises and public amenities, helping the elderly or even taking active part in the renovation of public buildings. It is best and most commonly exemplified in the langaar or community kitchen attached to most gurudwaras. The materials are given as donations, the cooking and serving are done by volunteers and the food is given free. The langaar is a great leveller, as, traditionally, everyone eats the same simple vegetarian fare seated in rows on the floor, with no distinction of religion, class or caste.

Photo: Silvia Ricanek, Germany

For the Sikh, seva (service) and daan (charitable giving) serve the dual purpose of improving the condition of the underprivileged and keeping the ego under check – in other words, it benefits the giver as well as the receiver. The only condition is that it must come from the heart.

The Humble Traveller One day, Guru Gobind Rai decided to play a little trick on his devotees. He disguised himself and, very early in the morning, knocked on some doors. “I’m a humble traveller,” he told the people. “Do you have any chapattis to give me?” Now, all Sikh homes were supposed to have a langaar where they could offer food to those in need, no matter what the time of day or night. But householder after householder politely turned him away, saying that nothing was ready, although they promised him food if he would return later. When the Guru reached the home of Nand Lal, however, he got a different reception. When he asked for chapattis, Nand Lal immediately brought out some butter, dough, half-cooked daal and some cleaned vegetables. “Here’s what I have,” he said. “If you give me some time, I’ll roll out the chapattis, cook the daal till it is soft, add the vegetables, and make you some lovely hot food.” And so, the Guru left Nand Lal’s home with a full stomach and a happy heart. The next day he told his disciples, “In this town, there’s only one real temple of hospitality, one real langaar, and that’s in Nand Lal’s house.”


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Buddhism True charity occurs only when there are no notions of giving, giver or gift. – The Buddha Buddhism sees charity as an act to denude the human mind of unhealthy greed. It also distinguishes between a normal act of giving, motivated by compassion for a person in need, and daana as a conscious cultivation of charity to reduce one’s selfishness and cravings. And the motives have to be pure. Buddhism asks the giver to question the reason for his giving, and ensure that it is pure and selfless. The Buddhist scriptures list being forced into giving, hoping for a favour in return, or giving to feel good about oneself as impure motives. There is also the more complex concept of receiving. While many of us might be willing givers, we may not be as gracious in receiving, feeling

Photo: Magali Reynaud

somehow indebted to the giver. The act of giving implies receiving, and there can be no givers without receivers; so Buddhism teaches that the two are intertwined, and essentially one. To see oneself as the giver, separate from the receiver, is to fall short. If giving is to be made perfect, there should be no sense of either loss or gain.

The Hare and the Moon In a previous birth, the Bodhisattva (as the Buddha was known in his previous births) took the form of a hare. He and his friends, a monkey, an otter and a jackal, decided to practice charity one day. While the others offered things they had either found or pilfered, the hare decided to offer himself. Indra, the king of the Gods, decided to test this resolve, and appeared in the guise of a mendicant. He asked the hare for food. Delighted, the hare told the mendicant to light a fire, and offered himself by jumping on it willingly. Impressed, Indra revealed his identity and prevented the fire from burning the hare. “You will be known throughout this aeon,” he said and, squeezing the essence from a mountain, daubed it on the face of the moon. Look up at the moon – you will see the hare’s virtue immortalised even today.


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Islam And they give food in spite of love for it to the needy, the orphan, and the captive. – Al Quran Charity is one of the five pillars of Islamic practice. It is required that every financially stable Muslim gives charity. The concepts of Zakat and Sadaqah are ingrained in Islamic philosophy. Zakat (obligatory charity) is the giving of alms as a percentage calculated on various categories of wealth. Paying it reminds the devout Muslim that wealth comes from God, and belongs to God; it should be held in trust for Him, and must be used to help those who are in need. It should be paid in the name of God, and the beneficiary must in no way be made to feel obligated to the donor. Sadaqah is voluntary charity, preferably done in secret, and can take any form. Even the poorest person has something to give – a sincere smile to cheer a downhearted person, for instance.

Photo: Michelle Klakulak

The Poor Fisherman Abu Nasr was a poor fisherman. One day, he went to the masjid, and wept because there was no food at home for his wife and son. The Imam told him to pray, and throw a net into the river in the name of Allah. Nasr caught a fish, which he was able to sell and buy a loaf of bread. On the way home, he saw a poor woman and her son looking longingly at the loaf. Moved, he gave it to them. The child smiled with joy while the woman shed tears of gratitude. When Nasr returned home, he found a man waiting for him. He had been searching for him to return a sum of money which he had borrowed from Nasr’s late father. Nasr later became a big businessman, and did many acts of charity. But these were mainly to show off. Then one night, he had a dream of Judgement Day, when his acts, both good and bad, were tallied. In the balance, the bad outweighed the good, despite his many gifts to charity. In the end, it was the smile of the child to whom he had given the bread and the mother’s tears of gratitude which tilted the balance in his favour.


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Look Who’s In Town Mumbai

Maximum Mumbai

For Indian-American Sanjoy Duttaroy, the financial capital of India is not just a former hometown but also a place that always spring new surprises I was born and brought up in Mumbai. I left in 1981 to pursue higher studies and have been in the United States ever since. In 2006, our company began manufacturing operations in India. I have been involved with the business development portion and as a result I have been coming to India frequently. I enjoy the culture and cuisine of Mumbai very much. India on a plate Food in India is diverse because of its broad cultural span. In the United States, Udupi and Punjabi joints are popular. Indian food has a lot of colour and spices, which is what makes it different from Italian, Chinese or Mexican cuisines. Wanderlust I travel all over India, and am always amazed by how there is something different in every place that I visit. It might be a very minuscule thing but it is unique to that locality. Like I say, ‘Expect the unexpected In India’!

What I would like in India Better roads, improvement in the infrastructure and lesser bureaucracy. These will lead to more growth, and running a business will become easier. Like the saying from the movie Field of Dreams, ‘Build it and they will come’. I am taking home... A collection of different chefs from all parts of India under one roof offering all the best delicacies from the various regions.

Take

Best Indian friend: The search continues…my old neighbourhood gang is no longer around Favourite Indian food: Vada pav Favourite hang-out spot in India: My apartment Intolerable India: Driving and traffic Loveable India: Culture and cuisine

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Look Who’s In Town Chennai

Sold on Chennai

It was thanks to his friend that Italian Silvio Zaccareo, MD india of lavazza, was first introduced to the southern capital – and it has now become his base for exploring the rest of the country

I came to know of Chennai through a friend – she sold the city to us in a great way, and now we are here. My wife Nancy and I have lived in the United Kingdom and Argentina, but India is another story. I remember my arrival in April 2014 – it was midnight but there were a lot of people. Chennai is a very cosmopolitan city and it is great to spend time with friends from so many different parts of the globe. We go to the beach throughout the year and this is definitely one of the advantages of living in Chennai. India on a plate I strongly believe that the Italian and the Indian cuisines are the richest, tastiest and most varied in the world. Everywhere in the world, you will always come across one Indian or Italian restaurant and there must be a reason. We love Indian food thanks to our time in London where you can really enjoy an incredible number of different Indian cuisines. Wanderlust I have been to many parts of the country, thanks to my job. Some places I have visited are Delhi, Jaipur, Udaipur, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Mumbai. I found Mumbai amazing and look forward to visiting some of these cities with my family. Of course, I have not missed the extraordinary coffee plantations in Karnataka and the beautiful areas near Chennai like Puducherry (Pondicherry), Mamallapuram and Kanchipuram. What I would like in India More cleanliness – I sometimes find India too dirty and I do not believe it is related to the poverty around. I have been to countries like Bolivia, Paraguay and Sri Lanka and it is not like here. I am taking home... The millenary culture that you breathe in every corner of the country, the colours and the amazing smiles on the Indian faces.

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Best Indian friend: Many people Favourite Indian Food: Tandoori chicken Favourite hang-out spot in India: Incredible India – all of it! Intolerable India: Dirtiness Loveable India: The multitude of colours


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Seeing India by Jennifer Mullen

Tea with a view Trail through the tea plantations of Darjeeling and travel down the ancient Silk Road in Sikkim – and collect memories that can be treasured for years to come

Photos: Jennifer Mullen, UK

In the far northeast of India, nestled between Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal, lie the areas of West Bengal and its neighbouring state Sikkim. On landing at Bagdogra airport (in Siliguri, West Bengal), the familiar contrasts of India were seen – bright coloured saris on brown dusty roads and cement advertising on walls next to mounds of rubble. As you start to weave up into the lush foothills of the Himalayas, almost instantaneously the choking noise of your typical Indian metropolis suddenly calms and your view is cradled by greenery. Climbing and climbing, back and forth around hairpin bends, the river plains of West Bengal start to fade away below. Drowsy from our early start in Chennai, we nodded happily to the soothing sound of Om Mane Pad Me Hum, a Buddhist prayer chant written in 747AD. Prior to my trip, I had joked about how I would ‘summer’ in Darjeeling (albeit for a week) like my colonial British ancestors, eating tiny cucumber sandwiches on an immaculate flat green lawn, with my tea cosy co-ordinating

with the rhododendron bushes. India, however, always serves up the unexpected. The most striking observation on arrival in Darjeeling is that the place is a vertical city of stilts and Jenga-like* block houses, thus dismissing any notion of ‘flat’. Clearly, in terms of where people live in this terrain, nothing is too high or too steep, and it almost seems like someone has clicked a button to rotate the car windscreen by 90 degrees. Ever enterprising in a harsh landscape, the local merchants use namlos – which consists of a jute band across the forehead to counterbalance the heavy goods on their backs – to carry goods up the steep hills. Darjeeling is synonymous with tea production and the hills are a smudged canvas of emerald green bushes, stroked by rolling mist. There are many interesting places to visit, such as tea plantations, the Japanese Peace Pagoda and the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute. Kids young and old will love riding the iconic Himalayan Toy Train, which still offers up the nostalgic smell of burning coal. Sometimes you passed so close to small shops, you could have easily grabbed a cauliflower.


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Like a fine tea, the skin tones and features of the local people blend from typically Indian faces to a highcheek-boned oriental appearance. Our tour guide Nidup also symbolised the multicultural nature of the area, speaking many different dialects of local tribes, as well as the mother tongues of his refugee Nepalese father and Tibetan mother. Proudly he showed us a black and white photograph of his mother arriving at the Tibetan Refugee Centre in 1959 and how they have built a cottage handicraft industry to support themselves.

Onward to Sikkim Travelling on into Sikkim, the roads become potholed tracks, precariously dissecting sharp cliff faces, with glittering river valleys below us. I tried to imagine the way of life of the people who live in tiny farmhouses, perched on the near-vertical terrain. Would they go up or down to fetch basic supplies? Would they feel open or claustrophobic? A lot of people in the area still live off the land, rotating rice, corn and millet crops, growing ginger, cardamom and cloves

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and harvesting bark to make quinine. In small villages, immaculate houses were framed by pots of flowers, each an explosion of colour, almost competing with the bright hues of Buddhist prayer flags, being teased by the wind. We live in such a hyper connected world now and can see any exotic destination at the click of an ‘enter’ button. Rarely do the size, colour and edges of the world totally supersede our expectations, as experiencing this part of the Himalayas. It was as if everything I had seen up to now had been twodimensional in comparison. One day, when travelling along a remote winding road, we spotted a huge sign saying ‘Artificial Insemination Centre’, with a large queue of men outside. We smiled when we realised it was actually for local animals and the men were in fact waiting for a jeep, which is used to transport villagers from place to place. Although Sikkim is a well-established tourist destination, you do have the sensation that you have journeyed to an unspoiled region. Indeed, Sikkim is India’s least populated


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state and because it only joined India in 1975, it still retains its own unique cultural identity. Near Ravangla, we paid a visit to the towering 130 foot statue of Buddha and stopped to enjoy some local momos in the main town. On the bustling street I noticed an old man, who had stopped in his tracks and was transfixed, staring at my four-year-old daughter. We stopped to talk to him and he seemed genuinely moved, bowing, smiling and timidly touching her blonde hair. Using the linguistic skills of our guide, we learnt that he had never seen a Western child in person before. We waved goodbye, feeling happy that globalisation had not yet claimed this corner of the world. Similarly, one day we wandered through a produce market and were met with slightly shy nods and smiles from local farmers, as they sold a colourful array of vegetables, including ferns. The older people had deep character lines etched on their faces and many of the women wore stunning gold nose rings. We later managed to sample the dish of chhurpi-ningro, which is made of these local ferns and a crumbly white cheese. It was mouth-watering and reminded me of Greek spanakopita, just with a slightly spicy Indian twist.

On the Silk Road Venturing much higher one day to the Tsomgo Lake, we travelled along what had once been part of the Silk Road. In India, you know you have climbed up to an altitude when the

yaks have taken over ownership of the road from the cows. It was fascinating to watch these gentle sleepy giants, peeping solemnly through their shaggy fringes, blowing warm foggy breath into the cold air. In this part of the Himalayas yaks were used to help transport spices, sugar, silks and rice, all forming part of an efficient bartering system. I learnt how these animals were not only prized for their strength, but also for their wool to make clothing and carpets. In former years, their lungs, liver and brains were also curried up into a delicacy. We decided at that point that the ferns had given us a sufficient insight into traditional cuisine. Sikkim has eleven official languages and consequently there are many ways to say ‘hello’ – such as ‘Namaskar!’, ‘Khamree!’, ‘Dashi delek!’ and ‘Sevaro!’. It is certainly a place I would love to see again, perhaps further north, where I understand the roads are mere animal trails and the scenery even more breathtaking. For this reason alone, I did not write down any word for ‘goodbye’. *Jenga is a game that involves stacking a tower of 54 blocks – blocks are removed one at a time, and then balanced on top of the tower, thus creating a progressively taller but less stable structure.


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Culturama Picks by Giovanna Vivoli

Rediscovering Time & Happiness The scenic setting of Ananda in the Himalayas is the ideal place to learn the lesson that wellness should be part of our daily routine Time has often been my concern. My husband would make fun of me saying that it is because I’m usually late. My mom would add that I was so time conscious, she delivered me three weeks before the expected date! I still own a personal organiser and look it up at each night before going to sleep. Moving to India has affected my habits and attitude – most of all, it forced me to reconsider my concept of time. Spending a memorable weekend at Ananda in the Himalayas (www.anandaspa.com) definitely helped me in this pursuit. When the calendar is no longer the master of your days, time becomes a blessing instead of a constraint. The picteresque setting of Anada in the Himalayas makes it an ideal getaway. Located in Narendra-Nagar, Uttarkhand, it was the winner of the Condé Nast award for the ‘World’s Best Destination Spa. Set up in 2000, it has played host several famous people such as Oprah Winfrey, Kate Winset and Frederick Forsyth. As it is located near Haridwar and Rishikesh, it provides guests with an excellent opportunity to go down to Ganges and observe the famed Ganga arati – a ritual wherein the river is worshipped with lamps and camphor-lit flames.

At Ananda, time is an enjoyable experience. Guests are free to focus on yoga activities and rejuvenating spa treatements. You don’t even need to set the alarm clock as the concierge gently wakes you up with a warm cup of purifying ginger lemon water at the desired time. The food is fresh and flavourful, and is carefully prepared to harness the full benefits of the ingredients. Enchanting nature and pure mountain air, a signature cousin on top, allow Ananda in the Himalayas to meet even the most discerning guests’ expectations. Other attractions are a miniature golf course and a pool. The calls of peacocks, which roam around freely, add to the lush surroundings. However, there is more to the experience that just a wonderful vacation – Ananda in the Himalayas trains visitors to control their time instead of being ruled by it by offering meditation and yoga classes for both beginners and advanced practitioner. Ananda in the Himalayas succeeded in reiterating what I have been known for a long time but had not followed: That time for my wellness should be part of my daily routine, just because it’s worth it.


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India Impressions by Preeti Verma Lal

All of Goa’s a stage

Changing times have not dulled Goans’ love for tiatr or local theatre – 123 years after the curtains were drawn on the first Konkani tiatr, the show continues to draw crowds and critical acclaim

Bombay. April 17, 1892. The crowd outside the theatre was teeming. Each one had paid 4 annas (25 paise) to watch Italian Bhurgo – the first Konkani play. Lucazinho Ribeiro had worked hard for this day. It sure was not his first day on stage – he had moved from Sokolwaddo, Assagao in Goa’s Bardez Taluka, to Mumbai for a job where the European drama troupes had kicked in quite a stir. The European dramatists had adapted Shakespeare and Moliere1 – all the big names – to entertain the British soldiers stationed in India. However, it was the Europeans

who grabbed the lead roles while Indians were relegated to being backstage artists. One fateful day, young Lucazinho chanced upon a ‘Require Backstage Artist’ advertisement. Next, he was part of the play titled Italian Boy. He travelled to Madras, Calcutta and Shimla lending a hand backstage. For Lucazinho, it all ended as it began. A chance. When the Italian Boy headed to Burma, the young Goan found himself without a stage. And a role. That twist of fate did not vanquish Lucazinho’s fervour for drama. He had picked up the nuances of production, bought discarded costumes and put together a bunch of talented stage artists. On April 17, 1892, ‘Konkani tiatr’ was


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rma Lal

ti Ve Photos: Pree

born. The Europeans called it theatre; the Portuguese teatro – in Konkani, it became tiatr. For Goans, this was not the first taste of drama – for eons, the nomads of North Goa were practising zagor2; in south Goa, the tradition of khell (also known as ‘fell’) was prevalent. However, tiatr was distinct from zagor and khell. Between 1892 and 1902, there were at least 15 Konkani tiatr troupes and countless performers who adapted famous French and English plays.

Dramatic changes Then, a man called Joao Augustinho Fernandes made a dramatic entry on the tiatr stage. Hailing from Madgaon (south Goa), Joao spurned translations and became the first

Konkani playwright to write original script. In 1904, Joao played the lead role in Bhattkara (Landlord) that ran to full houses. His original scripts include Cavelchi Sundori, Revolta de Satari, Bhattkara, Kunnbi Jaki, Bebdo, Dotichem Kestanv and Vavraddi. Joao also broke taboos – he brought women on stage. Those days it was almost blasphemous for women to perform on stage – even Marathi tiatr had men play the role of women. In 1904, Joao’s wife Regina Fernandes became the first female tiatr performer in Bhattkara. Other women walked in Regina’s footsteps – Carlota, Ermelinda, Mohana, Cecilia Machado and Philomena were big names on stage. Joao lent tiatr dignity and made it uniquely Goan.


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Anatomy of a tiatr The plot of a tiatr is usually divided into six or seven parts, with each part called a pordho (literally, curtain). In between these parts, there are musical interludes called kantaram. There are two to three kantarams in between two pordho, adding to nearly 12 to 15 kantaram in a tiatr. Legend has it that Ribeiro did not want to waste time in changing sets between two acts. Instead of dropping the curtain, kantarams were performed. Interestingly, the tiatr is based on one theme, but the songs are very satirical and Tomazinho Cordozo – playwright, actor and former president of the independent of the Konkani Tiatr Academy main theme of the play. And it is this feature that makes Konkani tiatr so unique. Says tiatr veteran Miguel Jacob Carmo Luis Fernandes, “Musical interludes have always been part of Konkani tiatr. Each kantaram could be three to four minutes long, its tenor ranging from humorous to irreverent; with the latest issue invariably being the song theme. These interludes can be sung by artistes who are not performing in the play or the actors could double up as musicians. In the beginning, the singers wrote and composed their own songs, now there are professional songwriters and composers.” Popularly known as Prince Jacob, Miguel Jacob Carmo Luis Fernandes has written 61 plays and owns Prince Jacob Productions – a professional drama troupe with 23 artistes (including 4 women) on the roster. His play Padri (Priest) was staged a record 350 times and his current hit is Mat Bhorom Vatlem (Your Measure is Full). Prince Jacob knows all about laughter. After all, he was crowned the ‘Comedy Prince of Tiatr’.

Changing times Over the years, tiatr has evolved. The stage setting is better, the lighting more professional, music more mellifluous and artistes are making a living out of stage performances.

Joao was the first man to break the gender taboo by bringing his wife on to the stage as a performer. Now, women play an important role in tiatr. Like Annie Quadros. And Diana Fernandes, who took to tiatr after her husband’s death and raised seven children merely by her tiatr earnings. Women with gigantic funny bones have also stepped in as comediennes. I was sitting in the office of Goa’s O Heraldo newspaper and listening to Tomazinho Cordozo – playwright, actor and former president of Konkani Tiatr Academy, unravel the history of tiatr. Cordozo has written nearly 35 plays and has his own theatre troupe. He talks with ardour about the continuing popularity of tiatr even in this age of technology and television. In the beginning, each village had its own tiatr – every Saturday and Sunday the villagers gathered in the square at night to perform and watch plays. Today, in Goa, there are at least 20 commercial and 40 non-commercial tiatr groups, each comprising 18 to 20 artistes including 5 musicians and 8 to 10 cast members. Initially, tiatr dealt with family issues. However, after Goa’s liberation in 1961, the themes changed. Now social issues, environment, religion, politics, science – everything gets enacted on stage; of these, political tiatr is the most popular. During Lent, tiatr themes acquire a religious hue, while new tiatr starts unfolding before the festive season. Besides the regular commercial shows, tiatrs are invariably held to commemorate every church and chapel feast.

A matter of time? “People thought television and Internet will spell doom for tiatr. It did not. On the contrary, the popularity of tiatr refuses to die, with some popular plays running months in a row,” says Cordozo who also edits a Konkani newspaper. The playwright is right. During the tiatr season, local newspapers are cluttered with advertisements for plays – Reporter, Nirmon, Problem, Visvas Ghat, Vivu London, the last three taking top honours at Goa’s annual Kala Academy 2015 awards, which is open only to amateurs. Exactly 123 years ago, when Lucazinho Ribeiro drew the curtains for Italian Bhugro, the first Konkani tiatr, he sure could not have imagined the cultural importance and popularity of tiatr. That lad from Sokolwaddo, Assagao in Goa’s Bardez Taluka, gave Goa an artistic gift. And the show goes on…

*Moliere: Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known by his stage name Molière, was a French playwright and actor who is considered to be one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western literature. **Zagor: A folk form of theatre practised by nomads


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December Calendar of events

Presenting the best of India’s events in different categories across Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai and nearby suburbs

Art & Exhibitions

Design Exhibition Delhi

Children’s Exhibition Bengaluru

ILLUMINATION: The Art of Light, presented by Apparao Galleries and The Lodhi, will showcase the works of eight young designers. The exhibition is centered around the idea that light light emanating from lampshades can be portrayed as art and a part of contemporary design. The exhibition has been curated by Indian sculptor Valay Gada. For details, please call +91-96438 26244 or +91-99410 12374.

Times Kidz World, held since 1992, is India’s longest running exhibition dedicated solely to children. Various fast-moving consumer goods, stationary, media and educational brands congregate at this exhibition to make themselves known. Apart from the exhibition, children and parents can also participate in singing, dance, drawing and painting exhibitions.

Date: October 28 to December 15 Venue: Apparao Galleries, The Lodhi (Formerly The Aman), Lodhi Road

Date: December 18 to 20 Venue: Phoenix Market City Hall, Mahadevapura, Whitefield Road

Painting Exhibition Mumbai Art lovers can check out an exhibition of prints by Aishwaryan K., an artist from Bengaluru. The exhibition, Artists World, has been curated by Vaishnavi Ramanathan from Chennai. Aishwaryan, from the KEN School of Art, has had his works exhibited in Sri Lanka and Indian cities such as Bengaluru and Gurgaon. Visitors are welcome from Tuesday till Saturday. Date: October 9 to December 5 Time: 1100 to 1900 hours Venue: Mumbai Art Room, Pipewala Building, Fourth Pasta Lane, Colaba


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Events

Exhibition and Sale of Furniture Chennai Shakti Ganapati will host an exhibition and sale of contemprary furniture. A team of trained carpenters hand craft furniture the traditional way. Good workmanship and perfect joinery mean that no nails are used. The wood is kiln-dried and that should see your furniture last a long time. The furniture is finished with three coats of deep penetrating oil, rubbed in by hand. Dates: December 19 and 20 Venue: Rutland Gate Studio, Nungambakkam Time: 1000hrs to 2000hrs on Saturday; 1000hrs to 1800hrs on Sunday

Music Concert Bengaluru Padma Shri awardee Hariharan, renowned classical singer and former member of music group Colonial Cousins, will be the star attraction at the Soul India performance for the launch of Art for Humanity (AFH) – a global community of artists and art patrons who unitedly work for the wellbeing of society. Soul India is a unique blend of film songs, fusion, ghazals, thumri and folk music. Please visit www.bookmyshow. com for more details and to buy tickets. Date: December 27 Time: 1800 hrs Venue: Kanteerva Indoor Stadium, Sampangi, Ram Nagar, Near Corporation Circle, Kasturba Nagar

Film Festival Chennai The Indo Cine Appreciation Foundation (ICAF) is organising the 13th Chennai International Film Festival (CIFF). The CIFF aims to present the best of international and Indian films and to showcase the best of Tamil films to the world. Movies from across the globe will be screened. There is a competition for the best Tamil feature film, and a ‘Film Buff Award’ for people attending the festival and participating in the online contest. The screenings will be held in seven screens (tentative) – Woodland Theatre Complex (2 screens), Inox Screens (2 screens), Casino Theatre, MGR Film Institute and the Russian Cultural Center. For more information, visit www. chennaifilmfest.com/index.html. Date: December 10 to 17 Time: 900 to 2100 hours Venue: Multiple venues – visit www. chennaifilmfest.com/index.html for more information.

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Music and Film Festival Mumbai

Music Concert Mumbai

Johnnie Walker – The Journey, running for the third year, will feature international acts such as Giogio Moroder, Explosions in the Sky and Tycho. Moroder from Italy – Grammy winner, internationally acclaimed DJ, producer and songwriter – will be a top draw at the event. This is a wonderful opportunity to watch and interact with the best in international music, film, and theatre for an evening of world-class entertainment. A film, not yet announced will also be part of the attractions. Visit www.bookmyshow.com for more details and to buy tickets.

Renowned sitar player and composer Anoushka Shankar will perform in Mumbai to promote her latest album, Home. In this album, she pays tribute to her father, legendary sitar player Pandit Ravi Shankar. Prior to this album Anoushka Shankar had composed seven albums and been nominated for four Grammies. Anoushka is deeply rooted in Indian classical music, but has also explored the crossover between Indian music and a variety of genres including flamenco, electronica, jazz and Western classical music. For information and to buy tickets, please visit www.bookmyshow.com.

Date: December 12 and 13 Venue: Mehboob Studios, No.100, Hill Road, Bandra West,

Electronic Music Concert Bengaluru, Delhi-NCR and Hyderabad Renowned DJ Tiesto will enthrall electronic music fans in Delhi as part of the Sunburn festival. Tiesto, from the Netherlands, has been a DJ for 21 years now and has performed at major events such as the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics in Athens in 2004. He was also nominated for the Grammy Award twice (2008 and 2014). This is Tiesto’s second visit to India, after his last visit in 2013. Visit www.sunburn. in/tiestoindiatour to pre-register for tickets. Date: December 17 (Bengaluru), December 18 (Delhi-NCR) and December 19 (Hyderabad) Time: 1600 hours Venue: To be decided

Date: December 12 Venue: Shanmukhananda Hall: Mumbai, Behind Gandhi Market, Comrade Harbanslal Marg, Sion Time: 2000 hours


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Spotlight by Team Culturama

Hornbill Festival December 1 to 10 The Hornbill Festival, also known as the ‘festival of festivals’ is an annual celebration held in the month of December in the northeastern state of Nagaland. The festival, organised by the Government of Nagaland, was first held in 2000. The celebration is dedicated to the many tribes of Nagaland. Festivals play a huge part in the lives of Naga tribes and most of them revolve around agriculture, as more than 60 percent of the population is dependent on agriculture. The Naga Heritage Village, located in Kisima (about 12 kilometres from the capital, Kohima), is the venue for the festival. The name of the fete comes from the Indian hornbill – a large and colourful forest bird that is a big part of local folklore. A cultural medley comprising songs and dances, fashion shows, archery and wrestling contests are events that draw visitors. Another attraction is the exhibition of traditional Naga morungs (bachelor dormitories made of bamboo). One of the popular highlights of the festival is the Hornbill International Rock Festival, which sees participation by bands from all over the world. Visitors can go to Kisama via Kohima. The best way to get to Kohima is to drive down from Dimapur (approximately two hours away).

Photos: Praveen Emmanuel


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coming Soon promoted by Global Adjustments

Oneness of india through music The Aikya series of music concerts aims to achieve two aims bringing people together through music, and supporting retired artistes and young girls through the funds raised “Celebrity names, lofty themes, colourful stage decor and great expectations are the trademarks of Aikya’s annual events.” – G. Swaminathan in The Hindu (March 12, 2015) on AIKYA 2015 The AIKYA series of concerts was started in 2010 with the aim of bringing people together through music. The annual programme has run to packed audiences, and featured stellar

artistes such as Aruna Sairam, Sudha Raghunathan, T.M. Krishna, Bombay Jayashri and sisters Ranjani and Gayatri, Sikkil Gurucharan, Shweta Mohan and violin-duo Ganesh and Kumaresh. Each concert is based on a special theme, which is conveyed in a subtle yet easy-to-understand through carefully curated songs and lovingly arranged music. One does not have to be versed in the technicalities of music – an open mind and heart are all that is needed. At the end of each AIKYA concert, people have left with a tune and a smile on their lips. The proceeds from the sale of donor passes are channelled towards a fund to support retiring accompanying artistes, and to support the education of young girls.

AIKYA 2016, to be held in March 2016, will be a grand affair, with a spectacular theme and song selection. Watch this space for more details. For sponsorship or other details, please contact

Email Anupama Arvind at anupama@globaladjustments.com or call +91 98416 54816


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The Aikya Journey

2010 ‘Celebrating the oneness of India’ by Padma Shri Aruna Sairam.

2012 ‘Best of Bombay Jayashri in a kaleidoscopic concert’

2014 ‘A Journey of love’ by Sikkil Gurucharan and Shweta Mohan

2011 ‘Dualities’ by Padma Bhushan Sudha Ragunathan & T.M. Krishna.

2013 ‘Resolving human conflict – an inspiration’ from Bhagawad Gita by Ranjani and Gayatri.

2015 ‘Violins, Voices & Values’ by violinduo Ganesh and Kumaresh, with a special appearance by Padma Bhushan Sudha Ragunathan and Bombay Jayashri

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At Global Adjustments Team Culturama

Zoooming in on India

We look back at the high-octane event that was the Awards Ceremony of the 18th Beautiful India Expatriate Photo Competition


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“My fascination with letting images repeat is because we spend much of our lives seeing without observing.” – Andy Warhol, American pop artist. Andy Warhol would have been thrilled if he had had a chance to see the images on display at the Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park on November 15. Around 800 stunning images of the different facets of India – which showed the photographers’ keen observation of the country’s varied aspects were on display – as part of the grand Awards Ceremony of the recently concluded 18th Beautiful India Expatriate Photo Competition. This year, there were over a 1,000 entries for the competition, submitted by participants from around 22 countries – a new record – and judges Andrew Hoover (Head of American International School, Chennai) and Alarmel Valli (Bharatanatyam dancer and Padma Bhushan awardee) said that it was a very difficult picking a winner from the sea of poignant photographs. Both judges concurred that even though the participants were not professionals per se, their work was just as good.

Judges Andrew Hoover (Head of American International School, Chennai) and Alarmel Valli (Bharatanatyam dancer and Padma Bhushan awardee)

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In what was a heart-warming moment, around 300 people attended the event, despite the heavy rains that hit Chennai. Chief guests for the event were Mr. Har Sahay Mina (IAS, Commissioner Tourism & Managing Director, TTDC) and Dr. Santhosh Babu (Chairman and Managing Director, The Tamil Nadu Handicrafts Development Corporation Ltd.). “Tamil Nadu has been the number one state as far as tourism is concerned and events like this where expatriates have turned up in huge numbers show why,” remarked Mr. Mina. Dr. Babu congratulated Ranjini Manian, CEO and founder of Global Adjustments, on hosting what he described as a magnificent event. The special category for this year’s competition was ‘Black and White’ – which was to highlight the contrasts that make the country unique. The special category, which changes every year, is in addition to the regular categories of Places, Faces, Culture & Festivals and Into India. (Turn to Page 68 for the winning entries.) The highlight of the ceremony was a special dance performance by a group of expatriate ladies, who brought to

Dedicating the Photo Competition, the day after the Paris tragedy, from India to France with peace.


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1. Dr. Santosh Babu presents the award to Melissa Freitas. 2. Erin Jones Weller’s husband, Paul, collects her award from Mr. Har Sahay Meena. 3. Taahir Maula receives an award from Wilfried Aulbur. 4. Nandita Scihrud, who won the Lucky Draw prize, receives the prize from Arindam Kunar 5. Ranjini Manian presents the Cultural Ambassador Award to Kiran Rao. 6. Christine Shimray gives a speech after getting the ‘I Make A Difference’ Award 7. A participant is excited to see her pictures on display. 8. The children are engrossed in the activities set up specially for them.


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What they said “I am very impressed with the quality of the photographs. A striking feature is that they have a lot of soul in them and it clearly shows India is a photogenic country.” Alarmel Valli (judge of the photo competition). “It was a fantastic event and it was great to see people from numerous walks of life come together. I also loved putting on a show during the dance.” Sarah Taylor (one of the performers).

life a series of dance numbers from Indian movies – starting from old songs of yesteryear to contemporary ones. The performance was to reflect the progress of Indian cinema from the black-and-white age to its present avatar. There were several awards presented to people, who in some way or the other, have made a positive difference to India. The ‘I Make a Difference’ award was given to Christine Shimray of Germany for empowering hundreds of Indians on how to work effectively with German clients such as Daimler in Chennai and Nivea in Ahmedabad. Kiran Rao, a businesswoman, won the ‘Cultural Ambassador Award’ for enriching the cultural landscape of Chennai with her visionary entrepreneurship. In all, it was a special occasion where people from many different countries came together to celebrate the cultural diversity India is famous for.

“The photography exhibition was a very good presentation. I am happy that my photographs were a part of the exhibition. The event on the whole was a thoroughly enjoyable one.” Tineke Sysman (participant) “I loved the mixing of countries and ladies for a same goal : unity around India.” Lucie Labarre (one of the performers). “The awards ceremony was pretty good and very well-organised. It was terrific to be in attendance. I am very impressed.” Manish Mishra (Indian-origin American; India Centre Head of HID Global)


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A Special Vote Of Thanks

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This event would not have been as special without the strong support of our partners – we would like to extend a special thank you to them. Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park, our Hospitality Partner, won the hearts of guests with their elaborate brunch spread for – with live Italian and Indian counters, picks from different cuisines and delectable desserts. Principal Partner Poompuhar, with its sculptures and art pieces at the event and on stage, impressed upon our guests the ancient skills of Tamil Nadu’s artisans. JFI Lifespaces, our Furniture Partner, brought in a touch of homely comfort to the event with their grand furniture display. Our chief guests were more than comfortable through the event, thanks to the elegant sofas they had provided. Kauvery Hospital, our Medical Partner, provided our guests with an excellent option for high-standard healthcare in the city. They were also on hand during the event to provide us with assistance if need be. Milesworth, our Travel Partner, provided the winners with trips to exotic destinations. At the brunch, Ibaco, who gave away ice-cream bars and tubs to attendees – especially children – was much sought after. Lavazza added flavour to the event with their special coffee – an excellent way to round off a sumptuous brunch. In a ‘sweet’ twist, Kodai International School gave little bags of home-made chcocolate to the attendees. The students of the Gateway International School had put up a special stall, wherein they got the guests to participate in some experiments and activities that were both entertaining and informative. The Grandma & Grandpa stall was a popular spot among the children who had come for the event – games and activities were aplenty to keep their active minds occupied. It was literally proof of their expertise in handling children. Adding a touch of glamour to the event was Studio Profile, our Make-up Partner, who made the dancers look even prettier. Jewellery by Archiradhi, added a touch of elegance of the outfits.

We thank all our partners Principal Sponsor

Hospitality Partner


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Promoted by

Wordless Wonders The 18th Beautiful India Expatriate Photo Competition saw a record number of entries – with over 1,000 pictures sent in by enthusiastic photographers. The beautiful display of the entries drew ‘Oohs’ and ‘Aahs’ from the visitors, which turned into thoughtful looks as they tried to choose just one for the ‘Crowd’s Favourite’ Award. We have displayed here the top winners from the five categories and the Crowd’s Favourite. However, all the pictures that were sent in to the competition have found their way into our hearts – and will be seen in the pages of Culturama in the coming months. We thank every participant for taking the time to send in their pictures, and look forward with renewed enthusiasm to next year’s edition of the competition.

The Ghats of Varanasi on the Ganges by night Category: Places Photo: Kevin Iles, UK

At the Alayamman temple Category: Faces Photo: Stuart Kinkade, USA

Shiva in Chennai Category: Black & White Photo: Michael Stroband, Germany

European saffron Category: Into India Photo: Tommaso Fiani, Italy


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Seeing red Category: Cultural & Festival Photo: Anna Bozzi, Italy Eyes only Category: Crowds Favourite Photo: Anthony Paul Marshall, UK

Second and Third Place Winners INTO INDIA: 2nd Prize ‘Picking vegetables in Madhya Pradesh’ by Cedric Fontant, France 3rd Prize ‘Trying on Indian colours’ by Mikhail J. Gorbatov, Russia AND ‘From Shimla to Himachal Pradesh’ by Manfred Friedrich Zink, Germany CULTURE & FESTIVALS: 2nd Prize ‘Bazaar at Hampi’ by Anke M.L. Bollen, The Netherlands 3rd Prize ‘Clothes drying on the beach’ by Lucie Labarre, France AND ‘Ganesha merges with the sea’ by Cedric Fontant, France PLACES: 2nd Prize ‘Chennai from the sky’ by Melissa Freitas, Brazil AND ‘Pichavaram in Tamil Nadu’ by Christophe Thibout, France 3rd Prize ‘Flower market’ by Arnaud Passieux, France AND ‘Rani ki Vau’ by Bipinkumar M. Khimasia, Canada

FACES: 2nd Prize 3rd Prize

‘Fisherman’ by Melissa Freitas, Brazil ‘What are YOU looking at?’ by Lynn Elise Peterson, USA AND ‘Wheat’ by Tommaso Fiani, Italy BLACK & WHITE: 2nd Prize ‘Children in the park’ by Melissa Freitas, Brazil 3rd Prize ‘Weaving in Kalakshetra Foundation’ by Christophe Thibout, France SPECIAL PRIZE FOR PICTURES DEPICTING HUMOUR: ‘Many ways to pray’ by Cassia Reis, Brazil ‘You looking at me?’ by Shawna Davis, USA ‘Salman Khan in Gujarat’ by Tineke Sysmans, Belgium

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Festival of the month Attending midnight mass, joining friends and family for lunch and donating to charities to mark the spirit of giving are some of the key elements of Christmas celebrations. We have put together a list of places that cover these aspects in the major cities. Delhi Churches: St. James Church, the oldest cathedral in Delhi, (built in 1836), is a popular location during Christmas. The Sacred Heart Cathedral, which is more than 80-years old, located in Connaught Place, is one of the largest in New Delhi. Cuisine: Pick up a turkey from any of the Le Marche stores, French Farm or the Steakhouse in Jorbagh. Christmas cakes and goodies are best had at Wenger’s Pastry in Connaught Place, L'Opera in Khan Market and Elma's Bakery in Hauz Khas village. For a sumptuous brunch, head to Shangri-La, Delhi, Set’Z at DLF Emporio in Vasant Vihar and the Olive Bistro in DLF Cyber City.

Christmas December 25

Photo: Babette Verbeek

According to some historical sources, Christanity was brought to India around 52 AD by Thomas the Apostle when he visited the ancient seaport of Muziris (present-day Kodungallur) in Kerala. He also established the oldest church in India, now known as the St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in Palayoor in Thrissur district of Kerala. The British also established many churches as well, the oldest one being the St. Mary’s Church in Chennai. Christmas is widely celebrated in the country, and local traditions and customs are often incorporated in the festivities. In some homes in South India, clay lamps are lit while Christian Bhil tribes from Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan sing indigenous carols every night for a week during Christmas. In Goa, beautiful lights and poinsettia flowers adorn the churches and homes, and children sing Christmas carols late into the night.

Charities: Donate to the Sakshi Centre for Information, Education and Communication, which helps underprivileged children (www.sakshingo.org; +91-98112 33595), or to The Smile For Children’s Health & Education, which rehabilitates underprivileged children (www.smilefoundationindia.org; +91-11-4312 3700). Mumbai Churches: Saint Michael’s Church in Mahim, one of the oldest Catholic churches in India, was in built in the 16th century. One of its well-known features is picture of the Virgin Mary. Mount Mary’s Basilica, which sits atop a hill near the Bandra Bandstand, is about 100 years old. It houses a statue of Mother Mary that dates back to the 16th century. Its midnight mass is very popular amongst Mumbai residents. Cuisine: Those craving for turkey can head to Mr. Butcher, Monsa Foods or Fresh World. Meat products like shoulder ham, tenderloin can be had from Louisa’s Farm products in Bandra. Coming to sweet treats, the century-old American Express Bakery in Byculla is known for its Christmas cake, Viennese truffles and cream rolls. Sweets like marzipan, milk cream and guava cheese can be had from Ms. Sandra on Chapel Road, Bandra. ​Lunch at the Blue Frog offers turkey, ham, eggnog and pudding. The Lotus Café, part of the JW Marriot Hotel, also provides a massive celebratory spread.


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Postcard from India a Salai near taken on Ann The photo was with an I was shooting Blackers Road. d Ricoh a - a 40-year-ol old film camer of nearly my collection om fr e on , -5 R K e grainy meras. I love th 100 vintage ca Kodak era takes with photos the cam s myself I have to proces ch hi w , lm fi -X Tri Chennai is no place in e er th e us ca be building is. I found the that can do th ack and e subject of a bl appealing as th the center d waited near an o, ot ph te whi entered til the passerby road divider un te. s was my favori the scene. Thi ouns, USA – Thomas Br

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(www.hope-foundation.in; +91-33-4064 5851), or to Calcutta Rescue, an NGO that helps economically disadvantaged people (www.calcuttarescue.org; +91-33-2217 5675). Bengaluru Churches: CSI East Parade Malayalam Church has the honour of being the oldest and largest Malayalam Church in Bengaluru. They do not have a midnight mass but hold a Christmas service in the morning. The Hudson Memorial Church in Hudson Circle, a 110-year-old church, is known for its Gothic architecture – pointed arches, ribbed vaulted ceilings, quarter foil openings, lancet windows and stained glass. Cuisine: Pick up a turkey can head to Bo’s Chef and Butcher, which has branches in Bannerghatta and Kadugodi. Christmas goodies can be found at Thom’s Café, whose plum cakes and wine are a huge attraction. Those with a sweet tooth can also check out Koshy’s for its cookies, pastries and bread. Lido in Hyatt Bangalore ushers in Christmas with a scrumptious dinner, carol singing and live entertainment. Photo: Claude Bahout

Charities: Donate to Prerana, an NGO that seeks to protect women and children from trafficking (www. preranaantitrafficking.org; +91-22-2387 7637), or The Paraplegic Foundation, which rehabilitates paraplegics (www. paraplegicfoundation.in; +91-22-2403 3669). Kolkata Churches: The Armenian Church of the Holy Nazareth, built around 1724, is said to be the oldest church in the city. The church celebrates Christmas on January 6, in line with the Orthodox Christian tradition. One of the first buildings erected by the East India Company (in 1784), the St. Johns Church is the third oldest church in Kolkata. Modeled on St. Martin-in the-Fields in London, its prime attraction is a replica of ‘The Last Supper’, which was painted by 17th century by German painter Johann Zofany. Cuisine: Christmas in Kolkata would be incomplete without Nahoum and Son’s plum and fruit cakes. Large queues gather to savour the delicacies from this 113-year-old organisation. Flury’s, a veritable institution, attracts hordes of visitors for its plum cake, gingerbread cookies, chocolate yule log cake and Tosca cake. It also has a special Christmas meal with traditional roast turkey with onion stuffing, roasted potatoes and bacon-wrapped chipolata sausages. Charities: Donate to the Hope Foundation, which rehabilitates disadvantaged children in and around Kolkata

Charities: Donate to Emmanuel Orphanage, which educates pre-school children (+91-80-2573 1971) or to the Institute for Cultural Research and Action, which helps unemployed youths (+91-80-2528 3370). Chennai Churches: The Santhome Basilica, built in 1523, was built over the tomb of St. Thomas. This is one of three basilicas in the world that have been built over the tomb of an apostle. The Armenian Apostolic Church, built in 1712, is one of the oldest churches India and is best known for a bell tower with see six bells. It celebrates Christmas on January 6. Cuisine: Christmas is an ideal time to visit some of the older bakeries in town. The Crown Bakery and Smith Field Bakery are well known for their Christmas bakes. Bosotto Bros, begun in 1950, sells the regular plum, walnut and Madeira cakes, as well as decorated black forest and butterscotch flavours. The Raintree Hotel and Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park offer excellent brunch. PREGO at Taj Coromandel offers a fivecourse Italian meal complete with turkey. Charities: Donate to The Banyan, an NGO that assists mentally challenged and neglected women (www.thebanyan. org; +91-44-2653 0504) or Kakkum Karangal, which rehabilitates orphans and destitute senior citizens (www. kaakkumkarangal.in; +91-44-2461 7754).


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Tis the Season for something special

This festive season, when you have more than just a gift on your mind, we have some interesting ideas for you. The charming La Patisserie at Taj Coromandel has been much-loved for its signature dishes, delectable pastries and chocolates, and bespoke hampers for every occasion. Choose from hampers ranging from Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 10 lakh. Chef’s special homemade plum pudding, chocolate trees and reindeers, buckets of flowers made with chocolates, wines, scotch, champagnes, and cognacs, and designer tie, stoles and pens. Choose your items and we will create the hampers for you. A highlight is the Grand Xmas Celebration Hamper – which includes Armand de Brignac Champagne; Kauffman Vodka and Jamaica Rum Estate 21 years; Single Malt Scotch and Cognac; Imported Red Wine; a Rolex Watch – Oyster Perpetual; a Kadal Virundhu Lunch for two at Southern Spice; a Fountain Pen from Devotie; gold-plated Taj Mahal Business Card Holder; a Pack of Habana Cigars; Ceramic Burner; tie and cufflink set

from Khazana; Muflar Pashmina from Khazana; a duo offering from Forrest Essential; of Balsamic Vinegar; Darbo Jam; Cheese; Moutarde de Dijon; Stuffed Olives; Tea; Cookies; Taj Chocolates and Almond Rocks; Assorted Roasted Nuts; Home Made Jujubes; Marshmellows, Christmas Cake & Plum Pudding. Inspired by the French Chefs, the new Pastry Chef at La Patisserie at Taj Coromandel, Ravi Varma Sri Vatsavai revisited the éclairs with Craqulin top with flavour of Vanilla and Cocoa. If you thought picture frames are uninteresting, try gifting your loved ones an edible Chocolate Photo Frame - photo printed on a sugar sheet with edible fruit Inks.For a little special touch, go for the Edible Chocolate Box, made out of chocolate and filled with pralines, fudges and truffles. The La Patisserie also offers travel cakes – good to carry while on travel and can be part of your evening tea! There are also Freshly Baked savories that can be custom made. For further information please call +91 44 66002827


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Holistic living by Eknath Easwaran

Reaching Greater

Heights

To turn inward in meditation and rise above the pull of objects and experiences outside us, we need to harness our desires and use them as fuel to give us that heavy thrust

Photo: Megan Bond, Canada


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When scientists began contemplating the conquest of space, the first problem they encountered – a problem that had to be solved before they could make any headway at all – was how to get beyond the pull of the earth’s gravity. A rocket has to build up a speed of 25,000 miles per hour to escape this pull, and engineers quickly ran into a kind of ‘catch-22’ – to attain this speed, an ordinary rocket would have to be so large that its sheer weight would never allow it to escape the pull of gravity. Yet, the human spirit delights in overcoming obstacles. Undaunted, scientists finally came up with the idea of a multistage rocket, with one or more independent boosters attached. Each booster holds fuel, which it burns in one great leap upward. As soon as its fuel is expended, its job is done and the booster is dropped, freeing the spacecraft from the burden of its great weight. Exploring inner space confronts us with a similar problem. What makes it so difficult to turn inward in meditation is the pull of objects and experiences outside us, the attraction of the physical world. Even memories, anxieties, plans, and so on draw their power from experiences of the senses: things we have felt, seen, heard, smelt, or tasted, which we want (or fear) to experience again. This attraction is only natural, and there is nothing inherently wrong in it – just as gravity is natural, and there is nothing wrong with staying on earth. Problems arise only when we want more: new worlds to explore, a higher reality. Then we discover that the pull of our body, our senses and our private, personal satisfactions are what keep us earthbound, preventing us from soaring to those heights where we can look back and see that all of existence is one indivisible whole. To rise above this pull, we have to build up a great deal of momentum. Just as in launching a rocket, immense power is required. But where are we to get such power? Space scientists can experiment with explosive mixtures such as liquid hydrogen and oxygen, but what do we use as human beings? The mystics give the answer: the power that drives a human being is desire. Our desires are our fuel. I am full of admiration for the world’s astronauts, who undergo such arduous training in their desire to go where no one has gone before. That desire is so great that it overrides all lesser predilections. For the sake of a few days in outer space and the thrill of seeing the earth floating free in a sea of stars,

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they are willing to learn all kinds of strange new skills and put up with endless deprivations. To reach our true Self, called the Atman in Sanskrit, shining like the full moon in the depths of consciousness, requires the same measure of dedication and training – and here, too, the secret is desire. If it is the power of our personal desires that keeps us earthbound, it is that same power, when released and harnessed, that will provide the fuel to launch us into higher consciousness. To apply this, we too need a booster rocket strategy, and the mystics of all religions have given us one, based on their own personal experience. In English it is called detachment: the art of withdrawing desire from lesser things, letting them fall away, so as to harness their power to reach the heights of what a human being can attain.

Life at its fullest This journey brings an overflowing, ever-present sense of joy. The Buddha, who almost never talked about himself, once admitted quietly, “I am the happiest of mortals. There is no one happier than I am.” This is the joy for which every one of us is born. Not tuppenny ha’penny pleasures, not tinsel delights or costume jewellery, but a jewel that is beyond price: the jewel hidden in the very depths of our hearts. Detachment not only releases joy but it is also the secret of health. It is the best medical insurance in the world, and not only because it can keep us free from physical habits that sap our vitality. Most illness has a serious emotional element. While there is an important place for physical measures in the treatment of disease, a mind at peace and a heart flooded with love can release healing powers that strengthen and revitalise the physical system. Reprinted with permission from the Winter 2009 Blue Mountain journal by Eknath Easwaran. Copyright 2015 by The Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, P.O. Box 256, Tomales, CA 94971, www.easwaran.org. Visit http://bmcmwebsite.s3.amazonaws.com/ assets/bm-journal/2009/2009Winter.pdf 5 Join Us Every Saturday India Immersion Centre in Chennai facilitates a weekly spiritual fellowship group following Easwaran’s Eight Point Programme of Meditation. E-mail us for more information at globalindian@globaladjustments.com. If you are in other cities, visit www.easwaran.org for e-satsangs.


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Ensuring the tribals in Odisha hold their own in the mainstream society whilst preserving their culture and enabling economic opportunities are the key aims of Vat Vrikshya One day, in 2013, during a temple visit in Badalpur, Odisha in his childhood Vikash Das saw an old woman and her grandson denied entry into the temple, as they were adivasis or tribals who were thought of as untouchables. Das witnessed many such instances of discrimination towards tribals. Shortly after the incident at the temple, he formed Vat Vrikshya, an organisation helping tribals. He quit his job as a software engineer the following year to devote all his attention to the organisation. The foremost aim of Vat Vrikshya, an Odisha-based organisation, is to empower tribals in mainstream society and, at the same time, ensure that they do not lose their culture. In tribal communities, land is the main source of sustenance – however, in India, many tribal communities have had their land taken away from them. Reasons such as economic development have been cited for this. Vat Vrikshya has helped them sell their handicrafts, food items and herbal medicines. to create another means of sustenance. Thus far, they have helped more than 527 families. Referring to themselves as a social organisation Das’ initiative also has a fund that provides money to help kickstart the process. In addition, members are helped in terms of securing bank loans for starting the process of selling their handicrafts.

Give to India by Indrajit Dutta

An Empowered Life

The organisation, with six people working full time, works with three villages. The team goes to a village and conducts research and interviews the villagers. Then, they make a SWOT analysis to understand the areas of interest, which provides a basis for them to create a suitable business model. One of the major challenges the organisation has to grapple with is alcoholism, especially among men, as it leaves them unable to work and acts as an impetus for domestic violence. Consumption of locally made alcohol has also led to cases of poisoning. This results in women being forced to go out and provide a livelihood for their families. A further worry is that many tribals are bonded labourers. If the crops do not yield dividends, many of them turn to moneylenders – this lands them in heavy debt and forces them to work as bonded labourers.


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As the women have thus become the primary breadwinners, Vat Vrikshya focuses on helping them – to date, more than 800 tribal women work with the organisation. Also, Das says, women are the best agents of change in their communities. A self-funded organisation, Vat Vrikshya provides Rs. 2,000 to every female member. This is done to help them sustain their families and sell the handicrafts. If there is a need for more money, Vat Vrikshya funds them till they can sustain. Das proudly says the women have already made an impact, as they have reaped more profits than expected. Although the organisation has made an impact, they still face numerous problems. Communication proves to be a hurdle as most tribals do not know any language other than their own and a smattering of Oriya. “Recently, in Delhi, we faced a problem as they did not know Hindi and there was no one to translate for them,” says Das. The language gap has also been a cause of distrust, “When Vat Vrikshya first approached them, they were unable to understand us and thought we would exploit them – something other organisations have done in the past,” recounts Das. However, there is room for hope – bonded labour has come down by 60 per cent, fewer tribal artisans have migrated to the cities in search of jobs, and 45 per cent of the women affiliated with Vat Vrikshya go to evening education centres. With time, Das says, there is hope that this wave of positive movement will result in sea change. If you would like to know more about Vat Vrikshya, please email Vikash Das at vikashdas.isl@gmail.com.

india • srilanka • maldives • and beyond

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At Global Adjustments by Team Culturama

Helping Hand for Gen-Next The Global Adjustments Trust for Empowerment (formerly known as India Immersion Centre) through its Aspiration to Achievement workshop aims to equip girls from underprivileged backgrounds with suitable work and life skills The Global Adjustments Trust for Empowerment (G.A.T.E.), the NGO-arm of Global Adjustments (formerly known as the India Immersion Centre) as part of the Aspiration to Achievement workshop conferred an award of the same name on four Chennai-based girls from underprivileged families at the 18th Beautiful India Expatriate Photo Competition, held on November 15 at Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park. The four girls – M. Revathi, Sivagami, M.Chitra and Gnananandini – who are final-year undergraduate students, come from families whose breadwinners earn monthly incomes between Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 8,000. All four girls hold part-time jobs to bolster their family’s finances and to fund their educational needs. As part of their drive to help girls from under-privileged communities G.A.T.E. will continue with the Aspiration to Achievement workshop in December. The workshop, a sort of a finishing school, will focus on

equipping them with the necessary tools to succeed in the workplace. These will include interview skills, etiquette, stress management, attitude and teamwork. The aim is to foster their self-confidence and help them overcome challenges successfully. G.A.T.E.’s programmes are not limited to one gender or age group. Workshops designed for schools and college students, such as the ‘Young Adult Emotional Intelligence’ and ‘I Can’ motivation workshops endeavour to help the youth pick up necessary life skills. “G.A.T.E. will link generations and gender and enable learning to build a united and a strong India,” said Ranjini Manian, Founder-CEO of Global Adjustments. Global Adjustments Trust for Empowerment (G.A.T.E.) welcomes donations from individual and corporations – the money will be used to fund workshops and arrange for study materials. For more information, contact Usha Ramakrishnan, Director of G.A.T.E., at usha@globaladjustmemts.com or +91-98405 20394.


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Global Wellness Series

Beat Breast Cancer Dr.Aruna Chandrasekaran, M.B.B.S.,M.S.,M.Ch (Surgical Oncology) Senior Consultant-Surgical Oncology & Incharge Breast Disease Centre Global Cancer Institute, highlights some ways to combat breast cancer

In the recent past, a dramatic rise in breast cancer has been reported. According to the Indian Council for Medical Research, a population increase in the last 10 years means that more women are at risk. There is thus an urgent need for clinics fighting breast cancer. This concern has bloomed into the Breast Disease Clinic in Global Hospitals – a radiologist, an interventional radiologist, a cystologist, a pathologist, an immuno histochemical department, surgical oncology, a plastic surgeon, a medical oncologist and a radiotherapist constitute the team.

While breast cancer could be cause due to lifestyle problems, we can try and prevent it by keeping following healthy habits and making exercise a part of a daily life. Early detection through screening, increased awareness, better understanding of the disease and improved treatment can also help bring about a reduction in the chances of contracting breast cancer.


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Sneak Peek culturama YOUR CULTURAL GATEWAY TO INDIA

January 2016

As we step into a brand new year, Culturama tries to set the tone on the most positive note possible. Here are some of the key features of our next issue (Not Just) A New Year’s Resolution: “Give up what is before, what is behind, and cross the stream. Then will your mind be free,” says the Buddha puts in the Dhammapada – a principle that will stand us in good stead at all times. An easy-to-read piece on the best way to fill your days with happiness and peace. Bitten by the Travel Bug? If you answered ‘yes’, we have a whole itinerary for you to go gaga over! With a feature on the best places from all directions, this is your must-have guide when planning your vacations in the new year. A Touch of Whimsy: There is always a reason to smile – laugh, even. And we have several of them caught on film! Chosen from the entries to our 18th Beautiful India Expatriate Photo Competition, these photos are a testimony to how India can throw up a whole host of surprises – in the most unexpected of places!

There is much more to look forward to – keep a lookout for the January issue of Culturama. Write to culturama@globaladjustments.com to subscribe for your copy.


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Make It In India Step into a new experience and partner with the most reliable cross cultural service company to enjoy your venture in India even more.

Contact us to discover our services: info@globaladjustments.com

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Culturama December 2015  

Think December and Christmas instantly comes to mind. The Festival of the Month gives you a list of churches, places to go to for lunch or f...

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