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India's Only Cultural Magazine for Global Citizens

VOLUME 2, iSSUE 12 february 2012

Brought to you by Global Adjustments

jumbo Affair



culturama | february 2012

D e a r

R e a d e r s

ALTHOUGH the tiger is India’s national animal the elephant, in a sense, is very symbolic of India, majestic and grand yet gentle and almost maternal! So why not dedicate an issue of Culturama to it, we thought! Wow: When I was growing up in the concrete jungle of Mumbai, my cousin in the southern village of Madras was gifted a baby elephant by his grandfather! That news had a wow factor beyond compare for me. Goodbye: A few years later, in Delhi, while looking for a memorable Indian farewell for a Japanese client, we floored them by asking a friendly neighbourhood elephantwala to come over with his pet, by writing “Sayonara” in chalk on it's rough poky skin. Believe it or Not: Then one day, my mother went to a temple and bowed to an elephant revering it as Ganesha. As she bowed, Lakshmi the calf, was tickled by the jasmine in her hair and picked her up by her ponytail. Boy was that a funnily scary moment in retrospect! Only recently, the land of elephants has yielded to sophisticated metropolitan growth, where animals are no longer able to freely and peacefull co-exist with us! We now have to venture “out of town” to really ride the erstwhile ubiquitous animal. But this does not diminish the fascination for the beast by visitors to our shores. Imagine my surprise when a young expat, Jonathan along with his mother Mari Jenefsky–Titus gave me a wonderful present – a book made completely from and about elephant poop paper! Our feature in this issue of Culturama is their story. In this special issue we have a ten-page spread of colourful elephant images, all taken through the expatriate lens; a historic and scientific introduction to the Indian elephant in Bursting the Bubble column, by Ian Watkinson and an excellent portrayal of India’s temple elephants by Marina Marangos in the India & I column. Other than the trumpeting man atop the elephant on the Culturama cover, we also have another musical phenomenon in this issue. Team Culturama is most excited about Global Adjustments’ third edition of our flagship cultural concert Aikya (meaning Oneness), our annual fundraiser concert, on the theme of relationships which is portrayed using different genres, by India’s loved artiste – Bombay Jayashri. (Yes it is the city she came from that gave her this distinguishing name!) Join her in our Coffee and Conversation. Do read, spread the word, and save the Sunday evening of February 26 to be in Chennai at Aikya 2012, for a first-of-its-kind concert! Other cities, we will bring it to you on request. Ranjini Manian Editor-in-Chief To contact me directly, e-mail

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culturama | february 2012


contents 8 Coffee & Conversation

Soulful Saga

12 A-Z of INdia

Care for a Cuppa?

Our cover image this month, is a mix of the traditional and the contemporary. A traditionally decked up elephant with a royal annoucer atop created with the help of graphics as a tribute to the majestic Indian elephant! Read on for more on the gentle giants in this issue.

16 curry country

Something Fishy! 20 Feature

From Poop to Paper


24 Look who's in town

Chennai, Bengaluru and Delhi

31 Office Yoga 31 India Immersion centre 32 Calendars Editor-in-Chief

Ranjini Manian

business head susanna kurian, tiia vaataja Associate Editor

Lakshmi Krupa

Assistant Editor

vatsalya janani

creative head

JayaKrishna Behera

Delhi, Mumbai. Bengaluru and Chennai

38 India & i


An Inclusive Dialogue

Associate Designer Prem Kumar Advertising Chennai trishla jain Bengaluru mukundan T Delhi-NCR Preeti Bindra, Ruchika Srivastava Mumbai & Pune Advisory Committee

Farah Bakhshay, Ashish Chaulkar


44 Photo feature 59 interpretations

Temples and Tuskers

60 Star struck

Timeri N Murari, N Ram, Elaine Wood, James J Williams, G Venket Ram, Carmen HUTHOEFER-HEINRICH

The Pursuit of Artyness

62 bursting the bubble

Elephant Walk


Chennai 5, 3rd Main Road, R. A. Puram, Chennai 600028, India. Telefax. +91-44-24617902 E-mail: Bengaluru 216, Prestige Center Point, Off Cunningham Road, 7, Edward Road, Bengaluru 560052. Tel.+91-80-41267152/41148540. E-mail: Delhi-NCR Level 4, Augusta Point, DLF Golf Course Road, Sector-53, Gurgaon - 122 002. Haryana. Tel.+91-124-435 4236. E-mail: Mumbai/Pune Rustom Court, 2nd Floor, Dr. Annie Besant Road, Worli, Mumbai 400030. Tel.+91-22-66104191/2 E-mail: Published and owned by Ranjini Manian at #5, 3rd Main Road, Raja Annamalai Puram, Chennai – 600028 and printed by K Srinivasan of Srikals Graphics Pvt Ltd at #5, Balaji Nagar, 1st Street, Ekkattuthangal, Chennai – 600032. Editor: Ranjini Manian


culturama | february 2012

Immersion Time

66 space and the city


culturama | february 2012


india on your fingertips


Letters to the Editor

Also called: God’s own country Dear Editor, What a fascinating cover in your last month's Culturama! Kudos. Salma Sayed, Delhi

Dear Editor, I love the Holistic Living column in your magazine. Eknath Eshwaran's insights into living a clutter-free life have helped me immensely. Jenna Anderson, Bengaluru Dear Editor, I have been reading Culturama from the time it was At A Glance. I loved the Waiting for the Mahatma story in your previous issue. It was a great tribute to Gandhi and made me want to see the space! Vinaya J, Chennai

A land of lagoons and sun-kissed beaches, studded with feathery palm trees, limitless stretches of lush greenery, mist-shrouded mountains and emerald backwaters, Kerala is where Dame Nature is at her best. Official language: Malayalam State symbol: The State of Kerala has embraced a derivative version of the Royal coat of arms of the erstwhile Travancore Kingdom. The state emblem symbolizes two elephants guarding the imperial conch (Lord Vishnu’s symbol) in its imperial crest. State capital: Thiruvananthapuram or Trivandrum Literally meaning ‘the abode of Anantha' (Lord Vishnu), Thiruvananthapuram houses the world’s richest temple, the famous Anantha Padmanabhaswami temple. Pilgrims flock to this temple at all times of the year. Blessed with a mild weather, the state is a popular tourist destination. Famous landmark: Vembanad Lake Vembanad Lake is at the heart of Kerala backwaters tourism, with hundreds of house boats crisscrossing it and numerous resorts nestling on its banks. It is the longest lake in India. Delicacy: Kappa and meen kari This flavourful, aromatic, savoury delicacy is a very rustic Kerala dish. It is one recipe that every Malayalee knows and relishes. In fact, it is the comfort food of home-sick Keralites! (Turn to Page 18 for the recipe of Meen Polichadhu, a Kerala delicacy.)


culturama | february 2012

culturama | february 2012













Bombay Jayashri. Singer. Musician. Experimenter. Pioneer. Teacher. We have seen all of these different avatars of the artiste. But this month, ahead of her Aikya 2012 performance that will display all these facets of hers, Lakshmi Krupa meets Jayashri – the person. Listen to her delve deeper into ideas that she believes in, that make up her core and that will find its way into her performance at Aikya in Chennai, as she leads the audience on a journey that will help each of them discover their core.


culturama | february 2012

Life, it appears, was naturally designed to allow each one of us to independently discover our authentic selves. Look at the first lesson – the cutting of the umbilical cord. The instant we are born we are free of all attachments. And yet the ways of the world, as always, are directly in conflict with the ways of Nature. As we grow up, we form more and more attachments. To people, to things, to places. We have come so far now that it may be nearly impossible for all of us to leave all our worldly possessions and attachments aside. But is it possible to strike a balance between accommodating the needs of others and that of our own selves? Is it possible to find our core and stay true to ourselves? Is it possible to let the music of life speak to us? This, in essence, formed the background of our meeting with Jayashri as she explored these themes with her own self and her music as context. How has collaborative music and reaching out to musics across India and across the world been a prominent part of your contribution to music? It may sound ironic, considering the fact that I am a singer and others are listening to me most often, but I think listening – truly – is one of the most important things for one to do in life. Just by listening we learn a lot. It has been that way for me all along. Messages from teachers, parents, children, a senior artiste, a judge at a musical show I participated in, or someone for whom I sang a jingle said, “Your voice is no good, you have no future,” have all made me what I am. I was hurt when they said what they did but in retrospect it helped me; perhaps I had thought too highly of myself as a singer and no one would say such a thing if I was a perfect singer. It helps you let go of your ego and come closer to becoming who you are. What about the audiences who come to listen to you? What is that process like? It is very easy for singers to assume that audiences are moved by the rendition of a song or the applause is for them. But over the years, I have realised that every member of the audience is also simultaneously reacting to a memory of the song. Perhaps it influenced them, perhaps they remember

I grew up thinking and continue to hold the opinion that no form of music is more sacred than another

a legend’s version of the song, maybe they heard it first on radio, but all this is constantly at play. You were among the very first Carnatic singers to not only embrace film music but also brave into genres that were strictly marked as danger zones. Now that others have followed suit, do you feel like a pioneer of sorts? Many legends including MS Subbulakshmi, DK Pattammal and ML Vasanthakumari have lent their voice to film music. Over the years, film singing changed. I grew up thinking and continue to believe that every form of music is beautiful. I grew up on a radio show, Sangeet Saritha that played one Carnatic song, one Hindustani and one film song. They were all placed alongside. I grew up on Lata Mangeshkar, Rafi and ghazals. Initially, I sang Carnatic music based songs for films such as Iruvar, Bharati. Then vaseegara (a song from the Tamil film Minnale that went on to become a big hit and catapulted Jayashri to greater fame) took me to the masses. It has been a song loved by even true blue Carantic fans (one of them even called it Jayashri’s service

culturama | february 2012


to music) and the success of it all has been truly humbling. Although I was sceptical about the song initially, the music director was very accommodating and changed the scales to suit my voice range. At your Aikya concert, what can audiences look forward to? I have always been fascinated by different genres of music. There was a point when I was so influenced by ghazals that I said I will only speak and sing in Urdu. I managed that way for six months before going back to familiar territory. But it has crept into my subconscious now. Its influence is there, I can understand all the words of any ghazal now. At Aikya, I will be bringing together these varied influences and Global Adjustments (which is organising Aikya) has, in a sense, stood for the same sensibilities of varied cultural influences coming together. Secondly, we are all aware of certain philosophical thoughts about our own selves. These are at the back of our mind, but what I hope to do through this concert is to reaffirm these and bring them to the fore. Can you offer a sneak-peek into this first-of-its kind performance of yours? For us to perform something this innovative at a space like the Music Academy is in itself a thrill! We have managed to blend in the philosophy of oneness and finding your centre while being at peace with the multitudes around us in both symbolic and literal ways. Although the concert is about one’s own self and finding our core, I will not be performing alone. Children, who will form an important part of this performance, representing the core values of what the concert stands for are another exciting addition. I will be joined by Embar S. Kannan on the violin, Naveen Iyer on the flute, Sai Shravanam on the tabla and Ganapathy on the percussion. The concert will be a 90-minute performance with six clusters of ideas. We will use ragas and different genres to elaborate each of our ideas. For instance, the raga Mayamlavagowla lends itself to many forms and emotions. A song with shringara rasa, a bhakti song, an exercise for a beginner, and more. How Nature, music and swaras are

I have always been fascinated by different genres of music. There was a point when I was so influenced by ghazals that I said I will only speak and sing in Urdu!


culturama | february 2012

intertwined to resonate this one message will form the core of this concert! It will transcend genres (Carnatic, Hindustani, folk, etc) and cultures. True to what both Global Adjustments and I stand for! Catch Bombay Jayashri in this never-seen before avatar accompanied by a multitude of youngsters (who will lend their voice too) at the Music Academy. Aikya 2012 is a fundraiser for the twin causes of Smrutha Dhvani (a retiring musicians fund) and women’s empowerment. Turn to the back cover for details.

culturama | february 2012


A to Z of India Vat s al y a J anan i


As February sets in, the entire world looks forward TO the most colourful season – Spring. Although India’s Basant (spring) is short-lived, this is the time when people put away their winter clothes and gear up for the on-coming summer season. Indian summers are known to be extremely hot. So how do people from this tropical country keep themselves cool? Take a look at some of our native ‘magic potions’.

Aam Panna

Is a delicious drink, made of raw mango pulp, sugar and salt. It is traditionally offered to guests who visit one’s home during the hot days. Often, ground spices are also added to give it an extra zing.


Baela Panna

A drink native to Orissa and many of the Oriyans swear by it. This juice is an interesting mix of stone apple, lime juice, salt, cardamom, farmer’s cheese, sugar and pepper and is generally served cold. In fact, it is so important that people in Orissa celebrate the New Year’s day by drinking this juice. Over the years, people have become creative and have come up with various variants of this drink.


culturama | february 2012

Is the most popular summer drink in India. Thick yoghurt ,finely blended with ground green chilli, ginger and salt, topped off with a dollop of cream is a real treat during the hot Indian summers. It is so ingrained in Indian culture that political campaigns often include free distribution of chaas.

culturama | february 2012


Falooda Often called the ‘King of desserts’, Falooda is a summer delight. Made with condensed milk, rose syrup, vermicelli, jelly and ice cream, Falooda brings a smile of longing on almost every Indian face. Of Persian origin, Falooda has been known in India for hundreds of years. Apparently even the royalty seemed to have relished this dessert. Truly, a royal dessert!

Ice Gola Gola in Hindi refers to a circle. This treat gets its name from the ice shavings placed like a ball on a stick. A sweet and tangy syrup of many fruity flavours is drizzled over it. This is a popular summer treat for kids.

Ganne ka ras

Jil Jil Jigarthanda!

Sugarcane juice is another thirst quencher. Tiny shops selling sugarcane juice are found in almost every nook and corner of India. The vendor passes the canes through a press that squeezes out the juice. To this, the juice of lime and ginger are added and is always sold fresh.

Literally means cooling the heart. ‘Jil Jil’ colloquially means cold and also serves as an alliteration. Made from milk, china grass, sarsaparilla syrup and Khoa (similar to ricotta cheese), this is the South Indian equivalent of the Falooda, made popular by the temple town of Madurai, Tamil Nadu. Today, there are many shops that sell Jigarthanda in many parts of India.

Shikanji 'Spice up' is a term invented for the Indians. Shikanji is the Indian lemonade that is spiced with cumin, masala, blacksalt and ginger.

Thandai Thandai is made especially for the Indian festival of colours – Holi. Made with milk, rose petals, dry fruits and spices, it is a general favourite. 14

culturama | february 2012

culturama | february 2012


Curry Country N i s ha T homa s

Something fishy! God’s own country is as famous for its elephants as it is for its fish and delicacies made from the same‌ Fish roasted in plantain leaf or Meen Pollichathu, as it is commonly called, is a delicacy from the backwaters of Kerala. Fish is a staple in Kerala and it is made in a number of innovative ways. Locally sourced fresh fish finds itself in a variety of local dishes inlcuding Kappa Meen Curry, Meen Varuthathu and many more. Traditionally, Pearlspot (Karimeen) is used for this preparation, but since the fish is hard to come by, and expensive, any firm fish can be used. The fish is then wrapped in banana leaves along with the masala and roasted to perfection. Ideally, I would use banana leaves for this preparation, which brings out its own unique taste, but since I live in a country where banana leaves are hard to source, I make do with silver foil. Do not worry though, it still tastes amazing. The gravy/masala was the best and the next time I try it, it would be with a fish fillet and loads of gravy. This time, although the gravy had covered the fish well enough, I still preferred some more to quench my craving. I reduced the spice levels to suit our taste, but if you want it a bit fiery, go ahead and add some more green chillies. Have a mug of beer ready and Sunday lunch can be eventful.


culturama | february 2012

culturama | february 2012








Foil-baked fish with Indian spices To marinate 500 gm Black Pomfret (or any firm fish like King Fish, Tilapia, River Cobbler, Pearl Spot, etc.) 1 tsp pepper powder 1/4 tsp turmeric powder Salt

For the masala

1 tsp coriander powder 1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder 1/4 tsp turmeric powder 1/4 tsp pepper powder A pinch of fenugreek powder 1/2 tbsp ginger paste 1/2 tbsp garlic paste 1 cup shallots/small onions, finely chopped 8 to 10 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped 1 green chilli, chopped fine 1 tsp tomato paste or 1 small tomato, finely chopped A sprig of curry leaves 1/3rd cup coconut milk 1/2 tsp mustard seeds 1 tbsp oil Salt

Foil to wrap and bake Clean the fish thoroughly under running water. If using a large fish with skin on, make gashes on both sides. Mix together the marinade ingredients and generously rub it on to the fish. Keep aside for at least 1 hour or overnight, if you have the time About an hour or so before you start preparation, bring the fish to room temperature. Make a paste with coriander, chilli, turmeric, pepper and fenugreek powder along with the ginger and garlic paste and keep aside. Heat about 1/2 tbsp of oil in a large non-stick frying pan, swirl it around and fry the fish till lightly brown on both sides. You don't need to cook the fish, just sear it on both sides, say about a minute or so on each side. Remove and drain on a paper towel. Into the remaining oil (or add some more

if required) add the shallots, garlic, green chillies and curry leaves and sautÊ till the onions have wilted a bit. Remove and keep aside. Add the remaining oil and splutter the mustard seeds. Keeping the heat to low add the previously prepared paste and cook, stirring continuously, till it is no longer raw. It might splutter vigorously, so be careful. Tip in the cooked onion mix, followed by the tomato paste and salt and mix it all together. Keep the heat to medium and cook this masala till you start noticing the oil surfacing. Add the coconut milk, bit by bit and stir it into the masala.You would get a semi-gravy–like consistency; at this point, add the fried fish. Carefully cover the fish with the masala as much as possible on both sides and turn off the heat.

Recipe adapted from "Flavours of the Spice Coast" by Mrs. K. M. Mathew 18

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Assembling Leave the fish in the pan as it is, while you get your foil ready. Preheat the oven 0 to 175 C at this point. Place a large sheet of silver foil on a baking tray and layer with some masala from the frying pan. Carefully place the fish on top and cover with the remaining masala from the pan. Clean it out completely. Place another large sheet of aluminium foil over the fish and crimp the sides to make a parcel. Make sure you seal the edges well so that no steam can escape. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. Take it out and check if the fish is done. If it flakes off easily, then you are good to go. Otherwise cook for a further 10 more minutes. Serve hot with steamed rice..

culturama | february 2012


feature team culturama

From poop to paper 20

culturama | february 2012

A young expat turns funny recycling experience into beautifully illustrated storybook JONATHAN Titus found the gifts his Mom brought home one day from her journeys around India quite funny, especially when she said the gifts were made from recycled elephant poop! Not only was this a unique means of recycling, it was also one more “Incredible India” experience for the 12-yearold American boy. The Titus family has been living in New Delhi for just over a year. Of all the countries they had lived in around the world, India has been, by far, the most fascinating! Suitcases loaded with a variety of gift items made from recycled elephant poop paper, the family went back home to the United States last summer on vacation. Time and time again, those who received this unusual Indian “treasure” would laugh till they cried on hearing Jonathan’s unique story of recycling. Jonathan and his Mom decided to record this interesting adventure and have turned it into a beautifully illustrated storybook; from receiving the gift, visiting the elephant, meeting the farmer and going to his factory and ultimately having a hand in making the paper. Recently launched at the home of environmentalist, Kamal Meattle, and his wife Anita, The Recycle of Life: From Elephant Poop to Paper is now being sold around New Delhi and will support the Jonathan Titus Mitzvah Project. Jonathan is doing this project as part of his Bar Mitzvah journey (a custom in the Jewish religion in which a 13-year-old boy learns and recites a portion of the Torah – a Jewish religious text written in Hebrew – in front of the Jewish community, to demonstrate he can act as an adult and assume greater responsibility for himself and his community). To meet this obligation and make a difference here in New Delhi, Jonathan told his recycling story to his Mom and enlisted another expat friend and accomplished artist, Danielle Smith-Llera, to do sketches of his story. The original works were then shown to Diksha Gupta, an incredibly talented student at the American Embassy School, who turned them into beautiful

illustrations. Through great collaboration and the common interest of “giving back to one’s community”, the book was written, published and is now being sold around India. Jonathan’s goal is to raise more than US$4000 from the sales of this book. Since printing costs were underwritten by a very generous American sponsor, all proceeds from the sales of the book will be recycled here in India to help those in need. To learn more about this unique recycling process, pick up your copy of the book (Rs. 250) at one of the following distribution points and/or order your copy by contacting: The Recycle of Life: From Elephant Poop to Paper is available at the following locations: BOOKWISE (India) PVT. LTD 125A Shahpur Jat – (near Asiad Village) – New Delhi 26499-568/69 Delhi Network – The Arcade @ The Hyatt Regency Hotel – Bhikaiji Cama Place, Ring Road – New Delhi 2679-1234 ext. 1505 Office of Dr. Poonam Batra - B.D.S. M.D.S. – B1/46 First Floor, Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi 2616-5173 Open Hands Café @ American Embassy School – Chandragupta Marg – Chanakyapuri – New Delhi 2688-8854 Looking for other cool recycled stuff? Check out Haathi Chaap – – 4162-4486

Mari Jenefsky-Titus and her husband have raised two sons overseas. When not ‘working’ for her family, volunteering within the school and/ or local community, she is part of the “team” at SQN Partners - New Delhi, actively producing unique events for corporates and individuals. Danielle Smith-Llera is an accomplished artist currently living in New Delhi. Jonathan Titus is a 7th grade student and Diksha Gupta is in the 12th grade. Both attend the American Embassy School.. culturama | february 2012


UPWORLDLY MOBILE – Readers' perspectives "I have read your book Upworldly Mobile and I am very impressed with your ability to narrate the complex topic with such ease." Saagarika.G "It has been a joyful and insightful experience going through the book. The contextual anecdotes and the dosages on our own culture really stand out. I've already put a few of your crisp but pragmatic tips on workplace behaviour to practice since last week. I really loved the latter half of ‘It’s traditional’ chapter from Part 6. Overall, I feel the book aptly grooms the readers on several inner-cultural and intracultural issues." Venkata Ramana "I think it's a fantastic achievement to be able to write and publish a book like that, very impressive and it has definitely inspired me. Thank you for writing it!" Helene Wheeler "The book presents invaluable advice, in a form to provoke thinking, to accept reality and to help one succeed, if he is serious. The testimony of two great leaders sums up your contribution to the Indian managers to become successful in a global environment." KR Ganapathy To listen to MR Narayana Murthy talk at the Bengaluru launch of Upworldly Mobile log on to Upworldly Mobile is now in its second print run.

Find Upworldly Mobile - Behaviour and Business Skills for the New Indian Manager at leading bookstores across India or log on to ISBN 978-0-143-06803-7


culturama | february 2012

culturama | february 2012


Look who is in town


Thomas Teo CEO, Ascendas India Operations

Singapore My India, My Country

As a Singaporean, I’m exposed to Indian culture, traditions and cuisine. Coming to India is both exciting and challenging. Singapore is a small City State and even smaller than Bengaluru, whereas India is a vast and vibrant country progressing in all directions.

My Favourite Indian

I like and adore the whole Indian cricket team. They have to perform consistently under such high expectations from over one billion people!

My Indian Cuisine

I enjoy the tandoori cuisine of the NorthWestern Frontier of India. Kebabs are light and succulent when cooked in the traditional way. The chicken and mutton biriyani from Hyderabad is superb too.

My India Insight

This is my first year in India and having


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completed almost 8 months, I have had a wonderful experience and time in this country. For the first few months, I had a lot of catching up to do with our operations in this vast country as well as adjusting to the local living conditions. Now I can say that I feel at home in this huge nation. After travelling to various cities in the country, my version of India is a country of tradition, colours, customs, flavours‌in short a very rich culture. I also have a special liking for Indian food.

My Tip to India

India is in an interesting growth phase. The cities can join the league of international cities if it improves the infrastructure, traffic condition and discipline amongst the citizens. We have seen some positive changes, such as the Bangalore Metro project, which will do for urban transport what Information and Technology did for the Garden City.

culturama | february 2012


Look who is in town


Giselle Garau AGM – Organisational Development

My India, My Country


Both Brazilians and Indians are easy going people, very approachable and always willing to help others; they are very easy to make friends with.

My Favourite Indian

Paramahansa Yogananda, my beloved guru.

My Indian Cuisine

North Indian food is my favourite, but I like to try new dishes. The best thing though, is too eat with hands; it adds a special taste!

My India Insight

I like the holistic approach that Indians have towards life; all parts are integrated. There is no such a thing as me as a professional and a separate me outside work. I don’t like the “sound horn ok” – let’s comply with the traffic laws and make the Garden City an even better place to live in.

My Tip to India

Brazilians are very friendly, touchy and like to party. 1) Don’t be offended if a lady gives you a hug and a kiss in the cheek the first time you have been introduced. 2) It is not appropriate for men to hug and hold hands. 3) Yes, we do eat beef! 4) Don’t be surprised if a Brazilian who you just met invites you to join a party and to meet friends.


culturama | february 2012

culturama | february 2012


Look who is in town


Marcel van Mourik Photographer & Web Developer

My India, My Country


Entrepreneurial spirit, language skills, and respect for other cultures is a sign of similarity. Some dissimilarities are the privatework life distinction and government structures.

My Favourite Indian

Besides Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, I admire the local people living in very poor conditions. For them, life must be very hard but they always give us a warm smile when we stroll in their neighbourhood.

My Indian Cuisine

Indian food is delicious and the aroma in market places makes you hungry. I first tried Indian cuisine in Dubai and I loved it! Chicken and fish biryani, curries, paneer parathas are my favourites. I tried making some Indian dishes at home (instant mix), but it wasn’t as good as freshly made food.

My India Insight

India has a lot of unique cultural aspects. Every expat should make the best of Indian culture and travel around the country for memories like spotting the animals, exploring temples and monuments, crafts and Indian music. I like Indian festivals like Diwali, Holi and traditional Indian weddings.

My Tip to India

Dutch people are warm, friendly and have an open mind. Interacting with them is easy. Even things such as Gouda cheese, tulips, Delfts porcelain and windmills gets us talking!


culturama | february 2012

culturama | february 2012


Look who is in town


Yukio Mogi

Country Manager, Kikkoman Corporation India Representative Office

My India, My Country


I see that Indians and Japanese have similar mindsets. For instance, the hospitality and kindness towards people in need of help is something you see in Japan too. And also there are Indians who helped me set up my apartment and office. They are also friendly and nice to me. When it comes to dissimilarity, I see many aspects. Probably the first thing I was surprised with was the terrible traffic jam; motorcycles, rikishaws, automobiles and even people are all mixed together, bumper to bumper, sometimes bumper to human!

My Favourite Indian

Amitabh Bachhan. I hope to get a chance to meet him and take a picture. I admire the Indian jurist, Dr. Radhabinod Pal. He was one of the judges of Tokyo Trial. I admire him for fighting unfairness.


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My Indian Cuisine

When it comes to Indian cuisine, now Tokyo has more than 2,000 Indian restaurants and lots of Japanese love it! Since I am in the food business, I would like to try and learn more about Indian food.

My India Insight

Although India shows very fast development in the economy and their lifestyle is changing rapidly too, what I like is people still live with and love their families.

My Tip to India

Japanese people are generally reserved. Saying nothing or showing no complaint is sometimes taken as a virtue of the person. So please let us talk when you really need to know what we think.



Yoga for Couch Potatoes While Watching TV Sit on floor. Bend your legs and bring the soles of your feet together, close to your body. Grab your feet with your hands, and gently lower your knees. Raise your chest and breathe. While Reading the Paper Sit on floor. Stretch your legs out straight and wide apart. Slowly walk your hands down your legs. Gently raise chest up. Take a few breathes, then drop your head and shoulders down. Breathe and relax.



Courtesy: Darrin Zeer “America’s relaxation expert!” –CNN www.HappyYoga.ME

culturama | february 2012



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


Sartaj-a-sufi February 3, 19 00hrs The Wadali Brothers (Puranchand Wadali & Pyarelal Wadali) are Sufi singers and musicians from Guru ki Wadali in the Amritsar District in Punjab, India. Born into the fifth generation of musicians given to singing the messages of Sufi saints. Sufi music is the devotional music of the Sufi’s. Siri Fort Auditorium Complex, Asiad village complex, August Kranti marg, New Delhi. Ishara International Puppet theater festival February 3, 18 30hrs A hilarious, rib-tickling, one-woman show, Chaplain creates magic by clowning around and transforming ordinary items like a lamp post and paper towels into human objects. Meet a quirky, single woman, who meets a man, falls in love, gets married, goes on a Hawaiian honeymoon and has a baby – all in a day! It’s Charlie Chaplin & Lucille Ball’s slapstick & tragic comedy rolled into one. Audiences engage and participate in Chaplain’s wild theatrical antics and ultimately find themselves transported, moved and enriched by this extraordinary evening on the stage. Habitat World, IHC, Lodhi Road, New Delhi – 110003

FOOD & SHOPPING Surajkund crafts mela February 1—14th, Into its 25th year this year, the Surajkund Crafts Mela showcases the finest handloom, handicrafts, and Indian cuisine. Over 400 artisans display and demonstrate their crafts from all over India. There are also cultural programs, and an amusement zone for children. Surajkund.


Khwaish – A Tribute to Jagjit Singh February 4, 1800h “Khwaish” is a special initiative by Kaveri (a social welfare organization) and Late Sh. Jagjit Singh, to enlighten the lives of millions of underprivileged children in India. To pay our respectful tributes, Kaveri is commemorating the 71st Birth Anniversary (08th Feb) of Gazal Masestro by another eminent gazal singer Shri Talat Aziz. Talkatora Stadium, NDMC Indoor stadium, Talkatora Garden Delhi

CanSupport’s walk for life February 5, 0900h—1100h Providing palliative care to cancer patients in their homes, leading CanSupport has announced its 5th annual walk. Smt Gursharan Kaur, wife of our Prime Minister, will flag the walk, at 9.00 am, on Sunday 5th February. From India Gate the walk will be along Rajpath to Rafi Marg and back, a distance of 3 km. The Registration Fee for the walk is Rs. 300 (for individuals), Rs.100 (for students with valid ID cards). Each registered participant’s kit includes a T-shirt, a scarf, a cap and a bag. India Gate


culturama | february 2012

Welcome to Incredible India! February 22 A programme that helps global citizens to decode Indian culture and way of life. A peek into fun things about India, as well as tips to manage a culturally different workspace. Global Adjustments Services Pvt. Ltd. Level 4, Augusta Point, DLF Golf Course Road, Sector-53, Gurgaon - 122 002, Haryana, India Phone: +91 124 435 4236, Cell: +91 98712 89488

Craft House Feel the warmth and comfort with our luxurious Pashminas this winter. Craft House offers a huge variety of Pashmina shawl, wraps, stoll and Mufflers. Pick you favourite one in Twill Weaves with Fringes or Sworoski studded or embroidered or in beautiful prints. So grab your piece of “Soft Gold” to make a style statement or surprise your beloved with this unforgettable gift to be remembered forever! The Metropolitan Hotel, Bangla Sahib Road, Delhi. Gimpse of Delhi’s 100 years February 1 Ananda's the restro cum bar in Sunder Nagar is celebrating the 100 years of Delhi this New Year's Eve. With its Ambience, live music and the Mughlai Food, the diners will experience the old Delhi charm once again. The Chef at Ananda's is all set to woo the taste buds of all its diners with a sumptuous Awadhi Menu inspired by the royal taste of the Nawabs of Lucknow. With a delectable menu on the palate including crispy Kebabas, Warqui Paranthas, Mutton Korma, Biryanis and more. 2 Sunder Nagar Market, Above NATHUS Sweets near DPS Mathura Road, New Delhi Sale at Nautica Till February 19, 11 00—21 00 hrs Enjoy a discount of up to 50 per cent on preppy jackets, smart tees, shirts, jeans and graphic T-shirts. Pacific Mall, Rajouri Garden, Delhi


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

aRT & EXHIBITION Indian Mylar Vision – Art Exhibition Upto February 13th ‘2012. Galerie Isa is hosting its first ever international art exhibition in Mumbai. The exhibition is called Anselm Reyle - 'Indian Mylar Vision'. The opening night will see some exquisite artworks on display. At Galerie Isa – Fort, 132, Great Western Building, 1st Floor, opp. Lion Gate Clock Tower, Shahid Bhagatsingh Road, Fort, Mumbai – 400 023. Tel:+91-97699 50136.

“Cock” English Play (90minutes) February 7, 2130h February 8, 1900h, 2130h Cock takes a playful, look at one man’s sexuality and the difficulties that arise when you realize you have a choice.John, an apparently gay young man lives with M, a spiky stockbroker. While taking a break from their relationship, John has an encounter with W. This sparks unexpected sexual excitement, and suddenly his whole existence is in turmoil. Prithvi Theatre 20, Janki Kutir, Juhu Church Road, Mumbai – 400 049. Tel : +91-22-2614 9546.

Mindful Menageries – Group Show Upto February 17, 1100h to 1900h Gallery Art & Soul Presents Mindful Menageries a group show by Abhay Gaekwad,Haren Vakil,Heeral Trivedi. Mindful menageries present sketches from life tales featuring relationships, obvious and often odd but definitely necessary and increasingly real. From Friday 13th January 2012, 6.30 pm Art & Soul Gallery, 1, Madhuli Apartment, Dr. Annie Besant Road, Worli, Mumbai – 400 018


“NOTHING LIKE LEAR” English Play February 29, 2100h Cinematograph is Rajat Kapoor's company, under which banner he has produced some quality films and plays over the last ten years.The films include National Award winning- Raghu Romeo, Private Detective, Mixed Doubles, etc. Prithvi Theatre 20, Janki Kutir, Juhu Church Road, Mumbai – 400 049. Tel : +91-22-2614 9546. “DINNER WITH FRIENDS” English Play (Relevant Age Group – 18+ February 11 and 12, 1800h, 2100h February 14 and 19,1800h, 2100h This is a play about four friends; two married couples. We see both couples at different ages and stages of their lives, and we witness the effects of the breakup of one couple on the other, who first feel compelled to choose sides, and then begin to question the strength of their own seemingly tranquil marriage. Prithvi Theatre 20, Janki Kutir, Juhu Church Road, Mumbai – 400 049. Tel : +91-22-2614 9546.

Parasailing Ongoing, H20, 1000h, till sunset If you're looking to get your adrenalin pumping, try something different this week. H20 promises that their instructors have experience of over 5,000 flights and there are certified life guards hovering nearby, just in case. A flight costs Rs 1090 H2O Netaji Subhashchandr Bose Road, Chowpatty, Mumabi Phone : 2367 7546

Sanjib Bhattacharya has excelled in this field with the blessings of eminent gurus like Bipin Singh, Darshana Jhaveri and Kalavati Devi. He has performed across many presitigious venues in Indai and abroad. His performances and lecture demonstrations have been appreciated widely and received rave reviews. He has also been felicitated in person by the former and current Presidents of India, Dr.A P J Abdul Kalam and Smt Pratibha Patil respectively.

FOOD & SHOPPING World’s Biggest buffet February 5 World's biggest Chinese buffet with over hundred dishes of meat, sea food, exotic vegetables. Soup of more than 20 varities at Balthazar. A la carte option available. BALTHAZAR Sea View Building, Juhu Tara Road, Juhu, Mumbai – 400 049. Tel;+91-22-26603956 / 26603947. Rice & Thai Curry Special February 20 1100h—2100h Indulge in some warm curries with delicious rice this winter. Warm yourself with delicious Thai curry and Rice-perfect winter combo. Indulge in delicious Thai curries like kaeng massaman, kaeng phet,. At lotus Blossom, Worli New Year, New Treats at Pure Sin Chocolates Upto February 25, 1030h—1830h For all Chocolate lovers,Enjoy the new year with Pure Sin Chocolates.start the New Year with biting into delicious chocolates. Indulge in some luscious,tempting,mouth watering Chocolates at Pure Sin Chocolates with a new variety of assorted chocolates. At Pure Sin Chocolates, Churchgate

Samarpan: Manipuri Dance by Sanjib Bhattacharya & Rinku Bhattacharya Das February 17, 1900h Godrej Dance Academy Theatre Samarpan : Manipuri Dance by Sanjib Bhattacharya and Rinku Bhattacharya Das. An ardent torch bearer of the traditional Manipuri form of dance,

culturama | february 2012



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

techniques in the art of stone working. 10th Mile, Tumkur Road, Madavara Post, Dasanapura Hobli, Bangalore

THEATRE & MUSIC Violin Duet February 3, 1900h A violin session grazed by the most famous Nagaraj Manjunath. Chowdiah Memorial Hall Gayathri Devi Park Extension, 16th Cross, Malleswaram, Vyalikaval, Bangalore Snakes N Ladders- a play by Mad Hats Theater February 4—5, 1530h, 1900h The play uses comedy and satire to tell the story of two individuals – Stella and Anand – as they take the journey together in the corporate jungle. With a cast of eccentric colleagues, rib-tickling interviews and insane situations at work, the play explores complex dynamics that their careers bring in for Stella and Anand. Alliance Francaise de Bangalore No. 108, Thimmaiah Road, Vasanthnagar Bangalore Vocal Concert February 1, 2000h Vocal Concert by Unnikrishnan. Chowdiah Memorial Hall Gayathri Devi Park Extension, 16th Cross, Malleswaram, Vyalikaval, Bangalore

Gubbarey - an Art Exhibition February 4—5, 1400h This is a part of SoL's "Art for Everyone" initiative. This exhibition could be your first step towards showcasing and pursuing your passion for creativity, in addition to meeting fellow artists and creative minds. No. 108, Thimmaiah Road, Vasanthnagar Bangalore

ARTISTIC IMPRESSIONS February 1 1000h—1800h ARTISTIC IMPRESSIONS will bring you closer to the creative world of art presented by Gallery Third Eye featuring the works of Artist Rajesh Seth and Shan Re. Gallery Third Eye, F-2, Epsilon Villas, Yemlur Main Road, Next to Logica IT Park Behind HAL Bangalore – 560 037


culturama | february 2012


Times Asia Wedding Fair 2012 February 3—6 South India's largest wedding and jewellery exhibition with over 300 booths from all over India and abroad. Gayatri Vihar, Palace Grounds, Near Mekri Circle, Bellary Road, Bangalore



India Wood 2012 February 10—14 This is the most definitive meeting ground for Professionals from the woodworking industry to meet, source the latest products and to gather information on the most updated developments on the industry. Bangalore International Exhibition Centre 10th Mile, Tumkur Road, Madavara Post, Dasanapura Hobli Bangalore

International granites & Stone Fair February 1—4 Stona 2012 (International granites & Stone Fair) is your own show and a truly great super market to display and demonstrate the unique range of countries colorful eye-catching natural stones, the capabilities of the Indian Entrepreneurs, their capacity, and most modern and latest

Bond with the Martinis February 1—29, All month, All Day Sip on a refreshing selection of flavoured martinis at the alfresco bar. Polo Club The Oberoi Bangalore 37-39 Mahatma Gandhi Road Light and Fresh February 8—19, Lunch and Dinner Brief of the event - Enjoy the advent of spring with an array of Thai appetizers. Relish the likes of Pomello Salad, steamed fish parcels or seafood cakes. Rim Naam The Oberoi Bangalore 37-39 Mahatma Gandhi Road Rainbow Fame Cafe & Restaurant 43, Swetha Complex, C Ramaiah Layout, Bangalore

culturama | february 2012



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

aRT & EXHIBITION India International Leather Fair Upto February 3, everyday, all day long India International Leather Fair (IILF) is one of the significant trade exhibition for the leather industry. It will offer an excellent platform to the global exporters and manufacturers of leather goods and accessories, the ultimate platform to showcase and launch their exquisite creations. The exhibition will bring together the suppliers and the buyers from all over the world in a common platform. The fair is designed to be a focal point for sourcing leather and leather products from the Indian sub-continent. Chennai Trade & Convention Centre,

their thoughts in the form of cartoons of celebrities or even themselves. Anna University Guindy, Chennai

Gem & Jewellery India International Exhibition (GIIE) Jerome Bixby's Man From Earth – Play February 3, 1930h An intense sci-fi drama about a young history professor and his colleagues during his farewell party. Can't reveal more - just watch it to believe it! A First in Chennai Theatre! T.N. Rajaratnam Auditorium Durgabhai Deshmukh Road Chennai The Big Bang Festival's Oscar – a Play February 19, 1400h and 1900h Nicholas Productions is opening the theatre scene in Chennai for the year 2012 with a bang indeed - "The Big Bang Festival" a month-long performing arts festival that will witness various theatre groups from the city coming together under one banner. The festival will showcase 5 shows at the Museum Theatre and 5 shows at Chinmaya Heritage Center and will include a collaborated theatre show by three other theatre groups in the city, a thrilling live musical, reputed Loyola Theatre Society's musical production and a rib-tickling play. Museum Theatre Pantheon Rd, Chennai Talat Aziz – Live In Concert February 5, 1800h Talat Aziz is a thorough professional who expresses his poetic verses with great precision collaborating feelings of love, romance and calamity moulded authentically in a ghazal format. Talat Aziz presents images of love and desire, joy and anguish; images of the varied emotions which a lover experiences. Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall Harrington Road, Chetpet, Chennai. Swan Lake 20th February Thematic evening devoted to the 135th anniversary of the Peter Tchaikovsky's ballet "Swan Lake". Russian Cultural Centre Kasthuri Ranga Road, Chennai


culturama | february 2012

February 23—26 GJIIE is one of the premier B-2-B International Jewellery Exhibition in South India. It is an ideal platform which brings both exhibitors and visitors together under one roof. The seventh edition of this show will bring together highquality, original designs and high value for the trade customers who appreciate the finesse of fine jewellery, diamonds, gems and pearls. Chennai Trade & Convention Centre

wORKSHOPs & EVENTs Success with Time Management February 16, 900h—1800h The art of managing time and self for maximum effectiveness and achievements. Learn time management techniques that will help increase productivity, reduce stress and improve results. Efficient time management is the key to getting the most out of your day – and to surviving the increased business pressure brought about by economic turmoil. Residency Towers, Chennai Caricature Workshop - Kurukshetra 2012 February 1—4, All Day, Event occurs daily The workshop comprises of a lecture session by well known cartoonist, Mr. K. V. Gautam. Also the workshop deals with teaching caricature with professional style of cartoonism. It also comprises a hands-on session where the participants express

FOOD & SHOPPING A La Carte North Indian Tandoori Chinese at Bikaneri Bhojnalaya Upto February 15, Everyday A La Carte North Indian Tandoori Chinese at Bikaneri Bhojnalaya. Bikaneri Rhojnalaya - Mandavelli # 116, R.K. Mutt Road, Chennai Chennai Bikaneri Rhojnalaya - T. Nagar # 27, Bazullah Road, Chennai Fusion food @ Triana Upto February 15 Currently, there is also a Fusion Food Festival going on at this restaurant, with combining the best of Malaysian, Chinese, Thai and Indian dishes. This is on a la carte basis. Triana Restaurant serves Oriental, Indian and Tandoor dishes during Lunch hours and their lunch buffet costs Rs.429, all inclusive. Lunch is served between 12.00 to 3.30 pm. Dinner Buffet costs Rs.449. This special festival is on till January 16 No. 137, Avvai Shanmugam Salai, Lloyds Road, Gopalapuram, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600086 Chennai Shilpi & Silver From February 4, 1000h—1930h Jewellery designer Priya Sandhu's Silver Jewellery Exhibition is coming up at Shilpi, Alwarpet. Her collection will showcase some exquisite pieces of silver jewellery accessories. Shilpi, 29 CP Ramaswamy Road, Alwarpet Turkish Food Festival at Azulia 17th to 26th February For a lip-smacking meal, drop into Azulia – a Mediterranean restaurant which is now on a Turkish spree! GRT Grand Hotel 106 Sir Thyagaraya Road, Chennai Tamilnadu - 600 017

culturama | february 2012


india and I M ar i na M arango s


culturama | february 2012

temple elephants

if you want a good and long life with a lot of kudos, attention and good food, being a temple elephant in India is definitely one way to go. I remember being astounded when I saw an elephant being transported in the back of a truck. It was a temple elephant that was hired and on its way to the temple. Having temple elephants adds importance and status to a temple. Most temples, however, make a point of having their own elephants, donated by devotees, and these elephants play a significant part in temple life and are well looked after and revered. In fact, if you want a good and long life with a lot of kudos, attention and good food, being a temple elephant in India is definitely one way to go. Of course, life is a bit of a lottery at the best of times, and I am not sure there is much in the choice of an elephant destined for a temple or one destined to carry lumber but I am told that small ears are not good, the size and shape of tusks can be decisive, and the head must be dignified, whereas stomachs should always be full and big. Mind you, I don’t think I have ever met an elephant with a small stomach. And while I am being slightly irreverent here, I can actually attest very readily to the importance that is ascribed to them. We were in Madurai and went to the temple there which is probably one of the most famous in South India. It so happened that the oldest temple elephant had died that day and the temple was in complete turmoil with events and pujas not taking place as usual, as a mark of respect to the lost elephant. Elephants are wonderfully docile creatures and perhaps it is important to note here that they don’t really have any natural predators other than human encroachment and poaching, which has decimated their numbers both on this subcontinent and in Africa. They are dearly loved not only in contemporary India but in the history books as well, and no festival and temple activity can really be complete without their full and colourful participation.

culturama | february 2012


They are often used to give blessing, as in the picture where the elephant’s trunk is hovering over my head. It is a strange feeling to be under the trunk of this enormous creature but it is one that a lot of pilgrims seek; they will visit temples and take with them a banana or have some money ready to give to the temple elephant in exchange for a blessing. Recent reports from Tamil Nadu suggest that these blessings may soon be a thing of the past as they are concerned about the elephants’ welfare when forced to stand at length while giving these blessings; so if you haven’t already experienced this, time may be running out. The Times of India, Madurai, reported just a month or so ago that a 48-day rejuvenation camp was being organised for temple elephants; while their blessings would be missed by devotees, they also recognise that the elephants have to work hard in the temples and that they deserve a break. They often lead processions, carry deities and are highly decorated. Some of this love and affection is reminiscent of Lord Ganesha, one of the most loved of the Hindu gods. Each temple elephant has a name and a mahout who looks after its daily needs. The preparation of these elephants for the festivals is elaborate and one worth seeing if the opportunity arises. Their trunks are painted with geometrical patterns and they can also have masks made of solid silver, gold-plated caparisons and embroidery of the most intricate nature, while bells and necklaces provide gentle music as they lumber along. In January in Kerala, a procession called the Great Elephant March takes place and here the temple elephants all line up in their finery to show each temple up to its best. It is not by accident that these great pachyderms have been so revered and loved. They have played a significant part in history, adorning temple walls such as the Kailas Temple in Ellora and in Mamalapuram. They are reputed to have saved Alexander the Great’s life in a battle he fought as he was advancing towards India and it was Aristotle himself who said that the elephant “passeth all others in wit and mind”. It is, of course, particularly noteworthy that the word elephant is Greek in origin –“elephas“ and means ivory; it is important to remind ourselves that these creatures are as precious as ivory, not the ivory itself, and we should seek their gentle blessing at our every temple passing. The writer is Greek-Cypriot and lives in Delhi. 40

culturama | february 2012




The Mammoth Month


February - a month when we work for the least number of days in a year and still take back a full wallet at the end of the month. So, what makes it a mammoth month? Well, we are talking about the Elephant Festivals of course!

Kaziranga Elephant Festival Nestled in the sub-Himalayan belt, Assam is tucked away in the northeastern part of India. It is best known for the Kaziranga National Park, a World Heritage Site that houses the maximum number of elephants, water buffalos and swamp deer. Held during the month of February, the elephant festival is an experience in itself. There is a ramp where the tuskers catwalk to enthrall the audience. And an award for the best performer! See the giants run races, play football and dance!

Jaipur Elephant Festival Another such fascinating event is the Jaipur Elephant Festival. This is a special attraction of the Holi celebrations, when the elephants are decorated in vibrant colours and decked with ornaments. They parade through the streets and the mahouts perched on top splash colours on the people below and spread the festive cheer. Amazingly caparisoned elephants, the symbol of strength, take the centre stage – elephant parades, elephant races, elephant polo matches, elephant beauty pageant and elephant versus man tug-of-war. The Royal Chaugan Stadium in Jaipur is the setting for this spectacular jamboree that culminates with a kaleidoscopic visual created by throwing of flowers and colors at each other to celebrate the festival of spring, Holi.

Kerala Elephant Festival Kerala, the southernmost state of India, is another place well known for its elephants. The most famous festival is the Thrissur Pooram and an elephant parade is the highlight of this celebration. The entourage consists of caparisoned elephants accompanied by the panchavadyam (fivepiece band). The festivities go on for 36 hours at a local temple. 'Kudamattam', the swift and rhythmic changing of brightly coloured and sequined parasols takes place with 'Pandimelam', the traditional orchestra. Two lines of caparisoned elephants face each other, with the mahouts on each bearing an umbrella and a peacock fan carrier.

culturama | february 2012


holistic living e k nath e s waran

An inclusive dialogue Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the second president of India and a profound scholar, once commented that the ancient Greeks gave the world intellectual values, the Romans political values, and the Jews moral values. India’s contribution, he added, is spiritual values


culturama | february 2012

The Bhagavad Gita is India’s best-known scripture – magnificent poetry couched as a dialogue between a warrior-prince named Arjuna and his charioteer and teacher, Sri Krishna, an avatar of God – that is, God in human form. The dialogue form is important, for the Gita is not a book of commandments but a book of choices. Arjuna, a man of action, turns to Sri Krishna in a crisis of confusion about how to act; Sri Krishna presents the highest wisdom and then leaves it to Arjuna to decide – an element of freedom that is a major part of the Gita’s appeal to readers today. I can’t remember when my love of the Gita began. As a child I had no conscious interest in anything spiritual; I was an ordinary boy growing up in a remote South Indian village, absorbed in my friends and pets and our sports and games. But one summer before I reached the age of ten, my grandmother decided that instead of swimming and playing soccer, I should spend my vacations learning Sanskrit from the village priest. I learned in the traditional manner, year after year, from passages committed to memory from India’s great

scriptures and poets – including many verses from the Bhagavad Gita. The poetry appealed to me deeply, but so far as I can tell the words must have sunk into my unconscious without any sense of their deeper meaning. Only years later, through the example of Mahatma Gandhi, did I begin to understand the Gita as not only magnificent literature, but a sure guide to human affairs – a guide that could, in fact, throw light on the problems I faced in my own times of crisis.

Religion as Realisation

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the second president of India and a profound scholar, once commented that the ancient Greeks gave the world intellectual values, the Romans political values, and the Jews moral values. India’s contribution, he added, is spiritual values. It is a generalization, but one with a good deal of truth. A civilization can be evaluated by the kind of human being it aims at, the highest ideal it holds up. Wherever we look in India’s long history, we find the highest honor given to men and women dedicated to the realization of the supreme reality that most religions call God. I think it was Arnold Toynbee, in the course of his study of world civilizations, who said that India had a genius for religion: not in the sense of a particular religion, but religion itself. This needs some explanation, for we are used to thinking of religions in the plural, bound to particular cultures, and thus of India’s scriptures as Hindu. But the word Hinduism, even the idea, does not appear in our scriptures, and it is really too narrow to describe what India means by religion. The term that is used is sanatana dharma. Sanatana means changeless, eternal; dharma is a rich and complex word that we can translate here as law. Sanatana dharma is the bedrock of reality, the eternal principles or changeless values on which life is based, regardless of creed, country, culture, or epoch. The oldest expression of this idea goes back a good five thousand years to the cradle of Indian mysticism, the Upanishads  – visionary records of the direct encounters of anonymous sages with a transcendent reality. The Upanishads are lofty and inspiring, but they are not terribly practical: they tell what sages have found, but little about how others can make this discovery themselves. Yet the whole point of sanatana dharma is that religion must be based on personal experience. We need some way to translate the wisdom of the Upanishads into living, daily reality. That is where the Bhagavad Gita scores heavily. In the Gita, the wisdom of the Upanishads is complemented

and brought to earth by Sri Krishna, who, through Arjuna, tells us – you and me – what practices to follow to gain direct, experiential knowledge of reality. In Indian philosophy, the various paths to this wisdom are called yoga and the underlying theory is sankhya. At some point in the development of Indian thought – perhaps early in the first millennium B.C. – sankhya and the major schools of yoga became systematized. But the Gita was composed much earlier, while these schools of thought were still emerging. As a result, it is broad enough to support all paths that lead to the discovery of sanatana dharma, examining them not systematically but in dialogue – a major virtue, for dialogue naturally accommodates various points of view and rewards exploration. This allows the Gita to be inclusive rather than dogmatic, with the result that virtually every major philosophical system in India refers to the Gita for authority.

Join us every Saturday India Immersion Centre in Chennai facilitates a weekly spiritual fellowship group following Easwaran’s Eight Point Programme of Meditation in Chennai. E-mail us for more information at contactiic@globaladjustments. com and Lakshmi Menon at 9710947713. If you are in another city, visit www. for e-satsangs.

Reprinted with permission from “Essence of Bhagavad Gita” Eknath Easwaran (1910–1999) founded the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation in 1961. The Center offers books and retreats based on the eight-point program of passage meditation that Easwaran developed, taught, and practiced. To learn more, visit

culturama | february 2012


photo feature team culturama

Caught snapping! Leaf through the next few 'giant' pages to see our elephants in action. Caught through the fascinating lens of our expatriate friends, we bring to you — A Jumbo Affair to Remember!

Walk through town

Photo Franz Hartinger, Germany


culturama | february 2012

According to Indian philosophy, all life forms are equal. We truly stick to it. Why else are our roads shared by both cars and elephants? (Psst‌ guess what this elephant is called?)

Baby’s day out Every child loves to run freely in a garden. And baby elephants are no different. A field full of tall grass and juicy sugar canes is a dream come true for this baby elephant.

culturama | february 2012


Bless you

Photo Bart


culturama | february 2012

A temple elephant blesses the lady in exchange for a banana. When an elephant blesses a person, Indians believe that the elephantheaded God; Ganesha himself blesses them.

RajastHan palaces. forts. relive the past.

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Photo Darlene Armijo, USA

Bottoms up! Indians believe in adding colour to their lives. So, why should their pets be exempted? These elaborately decorated elephants are participants at the elephant ramp in Jaipur Elephant Festival. Looks like they have also been given a pedicure. See the pink nails?


culturama | february 2012

culturama | february 2012


Happy Feet

photo Keri Mcleod


culturama | february 2012

Anklets are said to add grace to the fairer sex. In an ancient Tamil poem, the seductive gait of a woman was compared to the walk of an elephant. So when women wear anklets, why shouldn’t Lady Jumbo wear them?

culturama | february 2012


Jewelled! An elephant – the symbol of might and wit poses before the Kerala Temple Festival starts. Note the grand headgear that the tusker sports. It is called a Nettipattam and is a traditional Kerala artifact. In the olden days, kings donated Nettipattams made of solid gold! 52

culturama | february 2012

culturama | february 2012


Heave ho!

Photo Melissa Enderle


culturama | february 2012

The Vedas say that every man has to help his neighbours. In fact, even Gods are not let off the hook. Look at our elephant God Ganesh lend a helping hand; rather, a helping trunk to man!

culturama | february 2012


Mammoth finery Something looks familiar? Well, you must have seen the golden ornamentNettipattam in the previous pages. Displayed behind are fans and umbrellas used in the Kerala Elephant Festival.


culturama | february 2012

culturama | february 2012


Photo Melissa Enderle

The royal march A tall, turbaned man in silk clothes and adorned with jewellery – an Indian Maharaja is synonymous with luxury. Shouldn’t his mount be just as grand as him?


culturama | february 2012

Interpretations Vat s al y a J anan i



Photo Steven Birnie, usa

“You cannot receive the fullness that the Lord has for you without coming through the temple and having the temple come through you,” said Truman Madsen in his book “The Temple Where Heaven Meets Earth”. India is one country that personifies the crux of this saying, in the real sense of it. Every part of this land has a plethora of religious buildings – temples, mosques, churches, synagogues, monasteries, etc. Some of these structures date back to ancient times, especially the temples. The peninsular part of India, in particular, has numerous temples or maybe even the maximum number of temples. The oldest of these are truly spectacular, covering a wide expanse of land, adorned with graceful sculptures and a tank from where water is used for the deity. Also, these temples have huge doors, enough to be called the doorway of giants. Truly, they are meant for giants, albeit, the gentle ones that are an integral part of the temples. These elephants enjoy special privileges and are called kovil yaanai (temple elephant) in Tamil. They occupy a corner in the temple, softened

by a carpet of grass and hay. Adorned with a holy mark across their foreheads and a bell around their necks, these elephants are a regular sight in most temples. Temple festivals are occasions for the elephants to throw their weight around– literally. They are given the honour of carrying the bronze figurines of Gods on processions. Decked with anklets, chains and glittering ornaments, these elephants complete the touch of majestic grandeur that the festivals exude. On other days, the elephant stands guard at the temple doorway, along with the mahout. Many a time, it accepts a coin from bystanders and places the nimble end of its trunk on the person’s head – blessing him/her. Also, sometimes, on lean days, the mahout can be seen walking around the neighbourhood with the elephant, giving a ride to children. This is a muchloved entertainment for kids, as they can feed the elephant with bananas and sugarcane and also get the blessings of their elephant friend – Ganesh.

culturama | february 2012


star struck team culturama


Football, soccer, polo and dance. Elephants seem to enjoy all of them, just as much as we do or maybe, even more. Gaining a mastery over painting has become a new trend amidst the giant population. With elephant art becoming increasingly popular and pricey, let us meet one such elephant artist – Ruby. Ruby was an Indian elephant who was sent to Phoenix when she was a calf. She grew up with a goat and a few chickens, but had no other giant companion. In fact, she was the only elephant in the Phoenix Zoo. Elephants are essentially social animals that need constant company. Poor solitary Ruby had limited resources to keep herself occupied. Scratching the dirt with a stick was the only way she amused herself. One day, as she was doodling in the sand with sticks, the zoo-keeper noticed her. Out of curiosity, he gave Ruby a


culturama | february 2012

paintbrush and canvas. This marked the beginning of Ruby’s career as an artist. She balanced the paintbrush at the tip of her trunk and painted abstract patterns on the canvas. Painting became a passion with Ruby. She kept painting and improving with every new canvas. It seemed as if Ruby was challenging the core beliefs we humans had about elephants. She proved that she had an eye for art, and maybe, also for colour. The general opinion is that elephants are colour-blind, but Ruby seemed to become an exception to every perception. Apparently, the colours she favoured were green, yellow, blue and red. Her paintings became a rage with 18-month waiting lists and about 200,000 dollars being raised. After Jumbo, the flying elephant, Ruby became the next famous giant as ‘Ruby, the painting elephant’.

culturama | february 2012


Bursting the bubble Ian W at k i n s on


Ever looked close up into the eye of an Indian elephant?

A DISTINCT sense of intelligence, almost a mind like our own, seems to be looking back; a mutual interest is shown, sometimes unnerving and sometimes almost winking, humourous, for these are smart creatures – all 5 tonnes of them if they are male and fully grown. They also have the largest brains of any creature in the animal kingdom. Their communication skills hide far more than we can ever hear; sub-sonic sounds inaudible to our ear mechanics enable them to communicate effectively over long distances in the wild, dense forests. Ganesh is no man’s fool. All of us in India, whether Indian or foreigner, are familiar with Ganesh or Ganapati, the elephant-headed God, and have seen elephants either at the entrance to temples swaying their trunks, painted with ash and sandal for either Siva or Vishnu depending on the temple; blessing the pilgrims on the head and accepting as a gift the offered coins with the trunk presented as an open hand and afterwards quietly depositing


culturama | february 2012

the coins into the mahout’s shirt pocket. Or maybe we are lucky and see them in full vivid finery and regalia during a temple festival. Tamed, friendly and intelligent they seem the very embodiment of Ganesh, the remover of obstacles. A friend of humans for over four millennia, they are sewn into the very fabric of all South Asian society and folklore. The Asian elephant family consists of three species including the Indian elephant, which is the most widely dispersed throughout mainland South Asia and is now actually listed as an endangered species. Over centuries, the encroachment by humans has dramatically cut into its natural habitats; the forests cut and the tall elephant grass flatlands made into cropyielding swathes of agricultural farmlands; roads and railways tracks built over and breaking the traditional ‘corridors’ – pathways and trails habitually used by these wonderful migratory pachyderms. Being vegetarians, with males weighing up to 5 tonnes, they consume a considerable amount of vegetation each day – they need to consume 8% of their body

weight every day as vegetable fodder. As their wild habitat is taken over by humanity they seek food from crops planted by humans, and significant damage is done to farmlands by migrating herds in their passage, causing endless conflict between humans and elephant. They develop a preference for foods grown by humans such as rice, sugarcane and bananas as they can process this faster into energy than vast amounts of cellulose. Ganesh is partial to his sweets! The corridors, trails and routes that are used during the monsoon and dry seasons are remembered by the eldest of the herd, and this is passed down from generation to generation as they migrate back and forth. How many generations of these creatures have passed along these ancient routes is really unknown. Today, the Indian elephant is considered seriously endangered. Less than 20,000 to 25,000 are estimated to remain wild throughout South and South-East Asia, the numbers dwindling each year because of habitat destruction and poaching – humans’ greed over the priced gleaming white ivory of the tuskers. India is estimated to be home to around 12,000 of the remaining elephants, with Burma home to 6,000. The largest population of wild elephants in India now is concentrated in the Northeastern states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and surrounding states, bordering onto China and Burma, where human encroachment into the forests has so far been minimal compared to other areas such as the Western Ghats. Action is being taken along these borders to protect the elephant corridors and prevent human encroachment, and

seems to be having positive results. Even though temple elephants are revered and treated well overall, with the recent change of Government in Tamil Nadu many are now sent away from the temples via the Nilgiri Hills to a ‘holiday’ camp at Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, where they are given medical treatment and luxury diets for 48 days and allowed to wander about in their native habitats, protected of course from the tigers. This break has recently been reinitiated for the elephants’ welfare. Even Ganesh is grateful for a proper vacation.

The writer is British and lives in Chennai. culturama | february 2012


Myth & Mythology De v d utt pattana i k

Immersion time India’s best loved Elephant God – Ganesh – is well known by most expatriates. They often wonder though why we make such a big deal of immersing him in the ocean; what is the real significance? RM: India’s best loved Elephant God – Ganesh – is well known by most expatriates. They often wonder though why we make such a big deal of immersing him in the ocean, what is the real significance, Devdutt? DP: So every year, when it is time for the monsoon to wane, his image is brought home, bedecked and fed and worshipped with incense and flowers and lamps for ten days, and then immersed in the sea. This is done again and again, every year, the inviting of the god and then bidding him goodbye with such concrete efficiency. Every year we see the clay idols being set up and every year, following the fourteenth day of the waxing moon, we see the remains of the majestic idols in the sea. Ten days of festivities and music and dance and prayer, and then silence. Time to worship the ancestors. The following fortnight will be devoted to the dead. This is the fortnight for the Pitris, a time to remember and reassure them that their rebirth is imminent. A fundamental concept that governs religions that originated in India is that “everything ends”. Nothing lasts forever. The inanimate is transformed into different forms. The animate has to die. Death, change, transformation, governs nature. It is the only thing that is predictable. Life is about coping with this change. The inanimate rock and river, the nir-jiva, are not aware of death and so do not resist change. Animate plants and animals, the sa-jiva, are aware of death and so resist dying; running and fighting as they struggle to survive. Humans alone are blessed with wondering about death, seeking meaning in life, desperately wanting to know: what is the point of it


culturama | february 2012

photo Basia kruzewska

all? Nature offers no answers. Religions seem to offer hypotheses. Even science has raised its hands in despair. No one really knows. And that is frustrating. So we choose to ignore existentialist angst and devote ourselves to some silly plan, a goal or mission of our own making that we declare to be the purpose of our life. In the Mahabharata, Yudhishtira, when asked by the Yaksha to identify the greatest wonder in the world, states, “Every day people die and the rest live as if they are immortal. That is the greatest wonder.” Every year, Ganesh is dunked into the sea. Gradually the clay dissolves into the water. His image disappears. Was this an elaborate ritual designed by our ancestors to draw attention to the ephemeral nature of life? Nothing lasts forever. The point of life is then not to achieve something, but to sit and wonder what is the point of it all.

That is why India is renowned for its sages and mystics and philosophers. What mattered more for us was not the external material achievements but the inner spiritual realisations – wisdom that no one can pass on like wealth, but has to be ignited individually. Wisdom makes us kinder, gentler, humbler, not angry revolutionaries – for every revolution will also die, eventually, inevitably. We often forget that Lakshmi and Saraswati accompany Ganesh. When Ganesh arrives, Lakshmi walks in our direction. When Ganesh leaves, Saraswati walks in our direction. With both comes a goddess: wealth in boom time, wisdom in bust time. Lakshmi makes us grow externally, whether we want to or not. Saraswati helps us grow internally, but only if we allow her to. There is clearly a preference for one goddess over the other. And Ganesh smiles, for he has faith in humanity, and infinite patience.

culturama | february 2012


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culturama | february 2012

culturama | february 2012


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culturama | february 2012

culturama | february 2012



culturama | february 2012

culturama | february 2012


RNI NO.TNENG/2010/32752

REGISTERED No. TN/CC(S) Dn./396/10-12

February 2012 Issue  

A JUMBO AFFAIR! Is there any more introduction required? Leaf through the pages to find the giant singing sensation - Bombay Jayashri pour o...

February 2012 Issue  

A JUMBO AFFAIR! Is there any more introduction required? Leaf through the pages to find the giant singing sensation - Bombay Jayashri pour o...