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VOLUME 2, iSSUE 4 June 2011


Previously known as AT A GLANCE – Understanding India

planet green

a tête-à-tête about the environment with earth day network's president

photosynthesis A photographic journey through India's greens

A World Environment Day Special

D e a r

R e a d e r s

I AM writing this note to you from the Porsche Museum, in Stuttgart, Germany’s auto hub, just as our headquarters of Global Adjustments is in India’s autohub Chennai. I am amazed at how clean and green they are here despite the mean and precise machines they manufacture. Is there a lesson for us all, making profits while we think of people and the planet? As Mahatma Gandhi said, “The earth, the air, the land and the water are not an inheritance from our forefathers but on loan from our children. So we have to hand over to them at least as it was handed over to us.” June 5th is World Environment Day. suggests various options such as donating a gas chulha for a family to boil water for cooking rice, sponsoring a borewell for a rural family to drink from, or even providing solar light for a family that is living in darkness: all for the equivalent of 100 USD. This inspired us at Global Adjustments to dedicate June’s Culturama to “Green”. I contacted Kathleen Rogers of the Earth Day Network. I had met her in Washington D.C. last year and was so enthused by her love for India. She talks to us exclusively here (Page 54). 'Coffee and Conversation' features Bangalore-based Gerry Martin, India’s first National Geographic Channel Explorer and landscape expert Ashok Saran gives our readers useful tips on not only starting a great garden, but also keeping it alive and thriving. Our 'Photo Feature' celebrates all things Green and Indian – parrots, guavas, paddy fields, tea picking, and for an 'A to Z Green India'see our eco-friendly practices. Green is the new Saffron. Let’s pledge! Ranjini Manian Editor-in-Chief To contact me directly, e-mail

If you like culture, why not work in a place surrounded by it? For details log on to

culturama | June 2011


contents 24

12 Coffee & Conversation

The Jungle Book

16 A-Z of INdia

Organic Origins

The peacock is a very intimate Indian motif featured extensively in its culutre and mythology. It is also the national bird of the country. It is indeed fitting that this issue of Culturama, dedicated to World Environment Day falling on June 5 this year, hosted by India, carries a cover image of the majestic Indian peacock clicked by Chennai-based wildlife photographer P.V. Subramanian. Cover Photo: P.V. Subramanian, Chennai

20 india on a platter

Coco Banana 24 Feature

Garden State 28 Look who's in town

Chennai, Bengaluru and Delhi

30 bursting the bubble

Travelling Around


A Walk to Remember

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

Chennai, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi

40 Photo feature

India Green


44 India Immersion centre

Couture Calling

48 India & I

Tiger Tiger Burning Bright 50 India snapshots 52 Inner Space

A Rosy Picture 52 namesake

Giving with Grace 53 FESTIVALS OF INDIA

Of Eco-friendly Economics

Bengaluru 216, Prestige Center Point, Off Cunningham Road, 7, Edward Road, Bengaluru 560052. Tel.+91-80-41267152/41148540. E-mail:

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

Revolutionary Road

54 view from the top

Chennai 5, 3rd Main Road, R. A. Puram, Chennai 600028, India. Telefax. +91-44-24617902 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:

42 star struck

56 Holistic living




iRead, iSee, iLike, iAsk and iHear

66 space & the city

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


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N e w s w o r t h y

Snake Charmer

Letters to the Editor Dear Editor, My name is Wojeck and I am from Poland. The magazine you produce for foreigners, Culturama, absolutely supports what my friends said about your country. I hope to see this country soon. I have been told it is one of the most beautiful in the world.

As the four helmsmen stand ready, the Vanchipattu’s (boatsman’s song) fast rhythm fills the air; 25 soaring voices set the pace for the 100–125 oarsmen who work as a well-oiled machine, rowing in unison down the Pampa River. With its roots entwined deep in Malayalee mythology, the Champakulam Moolam boat race – to be held on June 16 this year – is the oldest and most popular of the snake boat races. In 1545 AD, the Raja of Chempakasseri dedicated this extravagant water carnival to his Christian subjects for the kindness, love and affection with which they received his men while travelling with the sacred idol of Lord Krishna to the temple of Ambalappuzha.

— Wojeck, Government of Poland

Dear Editor, We enjoy reading Culturama as it gives details of life in Chennai city in particular and India in general. The expatriate view of India and Indian culture is also very interesting. — Mr & Mrs D M Belgamvala

Dear Editor, "I have been reading Culturama since its first publication. Though the magazine's target audience is the expatriate community, I find it very interesting. It gives one a snapshot of India's diverse festivals and culture and explains the multitude of traditions very simply, which otherwise would be quite overwhelming for a newcomer. I always make a special note of the ads, which have led me to many an interesting store, bakery and boutique." — Gitanjali Rao


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How to train your Dragon

THE Duanwu Festival or the Dragon Boat Festival is held annually in mainland China as well as in places with a significant Chinese population around the world. The 40–100 feet long, brightly painted dragon boats are awoken in a special ceremony of “dotting the eyes” so that it may protectively guide the boat on the water. A drummer and flag-catcher lead the 20-, 40- or sometimes even 80-strong team of oarsmen in a race to the finish. The festival commemorates the death of the beloved poet and statesman, Qu Yuan. Apart from racing dragon boats, consuming Zongzi (rice cakes) and realgar wine also adds to the festivities. The race is usually held on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese calendar. This year it will be held on June 6.











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the Jungle Book

Gerry Martin’s first brush with wildlife came at the age of three when he jumped into a python pit at a zoo. Today, India’s first National Geographic Channel Explorer, who presented a show on crocodiles, is not just making waves in the field of wildlife but is also on a mission to help us understand wildlife and to conserve and educate the next generation on living in harmony with the wild. His projects at the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station, the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust, the Andaman and Nicobar Environmental Team, and his special workshops have drawn a lot of interest among wildlife conservationists. we listen in as Gerry explains what it means to coexist…

YOUR first encounter with the wild happened when you were three years old? We lived in Ahmedabad and my playschool took us to Sundervaan (Snake Park). I was about three or four years old. I don’t remember this, but my mother and teacher tell me that I climbed into the python pit and was comfortably playing with the pythons in there. I think I have always been attracted to animals and have been intrigued by animal behaviour and ecology for as long as I can remember. How did the National Geographic Channel (NGC) show happen? I first worked with NGC during the making of the first King Cobra documentary in 1995–96. My mentor, Rom Whitaker (who founded the Madras Crocodile Bank) was making a film and conducting a longterm study on the breeding biology of King Cobras. Some of the work we were doing was featured in the documentary and that sort of created a chain of events and led to numerous other film crews and channels wanting to make short films on the various projects we were doing. In 2000, NGC India named me the first NGC adventurer from India. It was basically to give NGC a local face and I spent a

couple of years being a brand ambassador for the channel. What is keeping you busy currently? I currently run programmes that are all focussed on giving people a real exposure to conservation and research oN wildlife and ecosystems. This not only creates awareness and a connect between people and Nature but also generates resources in the form of funds and skilled manpower for the various projects we are running. We have also begun opening select expeditions to the public, thereby making these expeditions selfsustaining while giving people exclusive access to some of the most interesting and path-breaking work that we are engaged in. What about conservation interests you and keeps you going? I really find this hard to answer. Conservation is not a cause or a hobby. It is something that we need critically and imperatively. If we don’t reverse all that we are doing to the planet, life as we know it is doomed in a decade or two. We haven’t quite come to terms with the finiteness of earth’s resources and resilience. We will exhaust both very soon.

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How important is it for us to groom environmentalists in India? Well, grooming environmentalists is a good thing and we need to do this concertedly. However, there needs to be a conscientious environmentalist in each one of us, being responsible and dedicated towards keeping the planet going. In your opinion, what is the current scenario, as far as conservation efforts are concerned, in India? I don’t completely agree with a lot of the current efforts. These usually rely on enforcement and are often steered by outsiders to the locations or issues that are at hand. I believe that conservation needs to be inclusive and involve local and grassroot stakeholders at a core and functional level. It is both unethical as well as dysfunctional to expect people who struggle to place meals on their tables to protect and conserve spaces around them and the animals that are often in direct competition and conflict with them. Is it important to study, professionally, in order to engage in conservation work?


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No! We need to have a few basic skills (reading, writing and math) and we then can build all the skills that we need to create a solid career in the field. I flunked my second PUC (Class 12) and never went back. I’m doing ok. What would you suggest for a common man to do, in order to help? Nobody needs to help anyone else. It is important that conservation is not seen as a cause or an altruistic favour. It is the need of the hour and each of us needs to work hard at it if we are to survive. As clichéd as it is, our only hope is to vehemently reduce, reuse and recycle. We also need to steer away from the kind of gimmicky sales that we are smothered by. Much of this makes us believe that we need more and have to use more and can’t make do with easier alternatives. Basically, we have to start thinking for ourselves. How important is it for us to allow the next generation to interact with wildlife, and help them engage in conservation work? It is more than important. It is imperative! I find it very difficult to explain the changes that have taken place in Bengaluru over the past two

decades to a child who has only seen the present reality. Children need to experience their surroundings and the animals that co-exist in these spaces. Unfortunately, in India, there isn’t much opportunity for children to experience wild spaces and any animals aside from dogs, cats and other domestic animals. Much of my learning as a child, as well as the strong connect and commitment to conservation came from the animals that I was able to interact with on an everyday basis. What keeps you going? For the last four years, it has been my daughter, Mahalia. I truly want her to have a future that is positive and green. My early interactions with animals and wildlife have also concretised my commitment to conservation. Could you tell us about an interesting encounter in the wild? There have been so many! I guess one of the most memorable experiences that I have had is when we first bred King Cobras in captivity back in 1996. We had invested a lot of energy and ourselves in keeping the adults healthy before we could get them to breed and then also spent a lot of effort in keeping the eggs incubating correctly. All this finally paid off when we saw the first little King Cobra poke its head out of its egg.

A to Z of India

organic origins

S u s a n P h i l ip

Indian philosophy holds out the oneness of creator and creation as the ultimate goal. Green is the colour that denotes prosperity on our flag. Read on for a list of some things we did, still do, and can do, to make this world of ours a better place.

Ayurveda is a unique system of medicine which is India’s gift to the world. It is based on texts written over 6,000 years ago, and deals with holistic treatment using herbs and other elements found in nature.

Brooms used every day all over India, from villages to concrete jungles, are made from the ribs of fallen coconut palm fronds. There is also a variety made from grass fronds. Efficient and bio-degradable!

Desi homes, or houses built in indigenous style, are ecofriendly. While thatched roofs and mud brick walls are fast disappearing, architectural modes such as the courtyard and the thinnai or verandah, are coming back into vogue, as their role in temperature regulation is being appreciated.

Earthenware pots are ubiquitous in India. Their porous quality provides excellent cooling without harming throat and lungs or releasing harmful CFC gases like electrical cooling devices do. On North Indian trains, tea is served in earthen throwaway cups too!





Herbal cooling beverages have been used by Indians down the ages to beat the heat. Kokum, mint, rose water, khus and buttermilk are some of the more popular of these.


Garments can be green – made from natural fibres like cotton. Big fashion names are now using eco-friendly dyes and processes to make ‘green garments’.


Jute bags are, to the great relief of environmentalists, replacing plastic bags which are harder to eradicate than the Cheshire Cat’s smile! Some states have banned plastic carry bags altogether, while others have proscribed their use in certain areas.



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Kolams or Rangolis are an eco-friendly way of saying 'Welcome' – they are designs drawn using rice flour outside front doors. Besides being beautiful, they provide food for ants and other insects so that they stay outdoors.


Corporate efforts to green India are very effective. Green office buildings are designed to consume less power, and have water recycling plants. Such efforts are not limited to corporate houses, but extend to wellpatronised public facilities too.


Festivals are woven into Indian life. Many celebrate the interdependence of man and Nature, and our responsibility as stewards of creation. Harvest festivals like Pongal or Baisakhi are examples of this.


Incense sticks are India’s answer to aerosol perfumes ­— sweet smelling, and with no harm done to the ozone layer.


Leaf plates and receptacles are used throughout India to serve up a variety of cuisine from street food to wedding feasts. They could range from a section of banana leaf to ingeniously fashioned bowls held in place with slender twigs. Use and throw. They will just meld with the earth.


Movements to preserve ecology have taken root in India, and have won major battles against shortsighted demands in the name of progress. The Chipko movement, where tribals hugged trees as a protest, essentially targets deforestation, and is among the best known.

Newspapers can be put to diverse uses, as India has always known. It’s turned into a cone and filled with piping hot peanuts by a street vendor, and, equally deftly, into a ‘designer’ bag, spruced up with a fabric flower or a coir handle by the artistically inclined.

Organic food products are gradually finding more takers in India. Supply is mostly dependent on small, uncertified sources, but chain stores have started offering organic products in a conscious attempt to propagate traditional systems of agriculture.

Public transport is one of the best ways of reducing the carbon footprint, and the teeming masses of India rely heavily on this type of conveyance, be it the ubiquitous bus service or the suburban and inter-state train services.

‘Quiet please!’ is a sign that is not limited to doctors’ clinics any longer. Noise pollution is as harmful to the environment as any other type of pollution, and, especially in urban areas, authorities are taking orchestrated steps to keep decibel levels down, particularly during festivals.

Rain water harvesting is the norm in many places in India. This simple method of collecting and storing rain water using scientific techniques has proved a boon for habitually water-starved metros like Chennai.







Tulsi or the Indian Basil is held sacred by Hindus for good reason. It gives out oxygen even in the morning, unlike other plants. Traditional Hindu homes have a tulsi growing in the courtyard. Women circumambulate it as part of their early morning rituals to get a lungful of sustaining oxygen.

Using leftovers is second nature to the thrifty Indian housewife. Yesterday’s boiled rice is metamorphosed into a tasty one-dish meal, while leftover vegetables are mixed with flour to make nutritious chapathis.Waste not, want not.


Villages are at the heart of India’s green band. Mawlynnong, in Meghalaya, has the distinction of being named the cleanest village in Asia. Its 80-odd families are Green Ambassadors, volunteering to keep their surroundings squeaky clean and green with plants.

Washing with a bucket of water and beating out the dirt, the traditional way of laundering by the dhobis (washermen) of India, is still the method of preference for many. Believe it or not, it uses less water, and makes sure germs are banished.

X-changes are extremely popular here. Big stores announce exchange ‘anything for anything’ schemes. People bring things from newspapers to old computers, and take away brand new stuff. One man’s trash, another man’s treasure.

Yoga means ‘union’ in Sanskrit. It epitomises the Indian philosophy of being one with Nature, with the universe, with the creator. The Yogic way of eating, sitting and interacting, encourage man to live lightly yet lively. With Ayurveda, it is India’s biggest contributions to a greener world.

Zoological and biological concerns rate high on India’s To Do list. Movements like the Project Tiger and the Olive Ridley Turtle projects are the best publicised, but even the humble sparrow isn’t left out of conservationists’ efforts. The cow, snake and even the rat is sacred in Hindu mythology, encouraging biodiversity!

Sun dried clothes. It sure beats the CFCspewing washer dryer. Sun worship is an ancient Indian ritual, and reinforces the debt man owes to Nature. The Surya namaskar is a major part of Yoga. The sun’s energy is used in everyday domestic activity, even for drying rice crispies.




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India on a Platter

La k s h mi Kr u pa

cocobanana India’s green initiatives may just be catching momentum elsewhere, but our kitchens have always remained green…

THE Indian kitchen offers not just a treat for your senses, with its wondrous blend of spices and treats, but it is also a repository of ancient wisdom from which green practices aplenty can be emulated. Take the Indian use of the famed plantain, for instance. The leaves of this tree make for a great platter, to serve rich and colourful local cuisine. Raw plantains are cooked as part of everyday cuisine and also made into a fine curry and also enjoyed as an evening snack, fried in oil with batter, called bajji. The fruit is a great source of vitamins and is also offered as part of a gift along with betel nuts, leaves and the red kumkum (which women use to dot their foreheads) to female guests who visit one’s homes. The flower of the tree is not only used to make an array of local delicacies such as curries and vadai (fried batter, flowers and spices) but is also hung at the archways of homes where auspicious ceremonies such as Hindu weddings are conducted. The coconut is another magical Indian product. The leaves of the coconut tree are used to make the roofs of many thatched Indian homes. The dried stem of the leaves of the coconut tree are bunched together to make brooms and are still used for sweeping. The ‘swoosh’ noise of a broom is something every Indian has a memory of waking up to. The seed or the fruit of the tree is also most famously sold along street corners in the country, as ilaneer, tender coconut water, a great quencher of thrist. The fleshy part of mature seed is used commonly in cooking, after grating or being cut into pieces in local fares such as curries, chutnies, and desserts, called payasam. The milk extracted from the grated coconut is also an important addition to local food. Even the shell of the seed is not wasted; it is used by local artisans to create beautiful hand-crafted products, including wine glasses and jewellery. Coir, which is a natural fibre extracted from coconut husk, is an important fibre used in the production of many household products and exported globally. It traces its etymology back to the Malayalam (language spoken in the southern state of Kerala in India) word, kayar which over time became coir. The sight of an Indian woman,with hair that has been massaged with coconut oil and braided is perhaps the most common one.


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Coconut Mango Preparation time: 20 minutes (excluding setting) Makes 2 cakes Ingredients for 4 persons

Coconut Dacquoise 150 gm coconut powder 75 gm castor sugar 150 gm almond powder 200 gm icing sugar 100 gm flour 600 gm egg whites

Method Pre-heat the oven at 200°C for 7 to 8 minutes. Beat the egg whites till they form peaks. Slowly add castor sugar. Mix together all the dry ingredients and fold into the egg whites. Divide the mixture into half to bake one at a time. Lay the first cake on a parchment paper and bake it at 200°C for 8 minutes. Then bake the second cake.

The Cream Mixture 150 ml sugar syrup 175 ml Grand Marnier 1100 ml mango pulp 5 gm gelatin (optional) 500 ml whipped cream

first, followed by the cream mixture. Pour the mango jelly over it and leave to set. Once the jelly sets, top it with the second dacquoise and then the cream mixture.


Leave it in the freezer to set

Mix about one third of the gelatin with 600 ml of mango pulp.

Once it sets, pour caramelised brown sugar on top, then layer with sliced mango and pour a little more caramelised brown sugar over that to decorate it.

Add the remaining gelatin to the whipped cream along with the Grand Marnier and sugar syrup. Add the remaining mango pulp to cream mixture. On a plate lay the dacquoise

In the Kitchen How to crack a coconut? ▪ Take a ledge in one hand and hold the coconit in the other, so the widest part is resting in the middle of the palm. The tip should be on one end and the eyes on the other. ▪ Whack the coconut a few times around the centre againsty a hard surface (such as granite) until it cleanly cracks open into two halves. ▪ Catch the juice in the bowl as it drains out.


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Oatmeal browned in a small amount of butter or margarine makes an economical substitute for chopped nuts in cookie, cake and pie recipes. Peaches, pears and tomatoes ripen quickly when put alongside a ripe apple in a brown paper bag with a few holes in it. The ripe apple gives off a gas which stimulates other fruits to ripen. Baking fish on a bed of chopped onion celery and parsley not only makes fish taste better but also keeps it from sticking to pan.

Seasonal Fruits Amla Where: North India, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, from January to May. What: One of the richest sources of vitamin C and antioxidants, it helps promote hair growth. When: It turns a light green colour when ripe. How: Popularly eaten after being soaked in honey or in a salt solution. This also acts as a preserve.


A s h o k Sara n


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It’s one thing to want a garden and create one. It’s completely another to take care of it and keep it alive and thriving… A 50-year-old tree offers oxygen worth Rs. 3.75 lakh, does Rs. 4.45 lakh worth of recycling, prevents Rs. 7.5 lakh worth of soil erosion, and provides Rs. 4.5 lakh worth of shelter to animals and birds. It takes five minutes to cut one down. This gives us a broad perspective of the need to develop gardens and, most importantly, maintain them.

Think local

THERE are two things that we need to keep in mind when starting a garden: the visual element, that is, what you want it to look like, and the most important and second part is that it must reflect your own personality. Designer gardens inspired by European styles are great, but we must understand how the tropical nature of our soil and weather impacts our gardens. While planning one, we need to stop obsessing about flowering plants and instead go with what will do well in our neighbourhoods. I would suggest the help of a landscape architect before getting into the specifics of a garden. The most common problem that we have noticed is that we tend to work on a new garden everyday for the first ten days and then lose interest and abandon it. As surprising as this might sound, over-care is the biggest killer for any plant. Over-watering plants ends up ruining any chance of survival they may have. So if you want to avoid this, I would ask you to create a garden, indoor or outdoor, that suits your personality. You can take the help of a gardener if it is a large area, but relying on persons based purely on their ‘green thumb’ makes no sense. Use a specialist but most importantly, spend time in the garden yourself. It must be your effort. If your outdoor plants are in the soil, water them once in two days. But if they are potted, watering them once in ten days is more than enough. If you are unsure, take a knitting needle and poke the soil in your pot: if it is wet you can wait for a few more days. Indoor plants need watering only once in 15 days.

Recycle your resources In India, there is a mental block against using waste water for our plants, although it is well established that kitchen wastes and other such organic wastes can do a world of good to our plants and work as organic manure. Professionals suggest that connecting your waste water to a sump that uses a filter to ward out impurities and re-directing it to your garden is a great way of conserving water and also helping your garden. Mainly because urban water is hard and when it passes through organic materials, it softens and helps the plant grow. Every individual has a role to play in helping to conserve energy and keeping the green movement alive. Every house or street should have a pit that composts biodegradable wastes and turns them into manure. The most important thing about keeping your garden healthy is to interact with it and spend time in it..

Tree talk

Trees are a great addition to your garden. An important tip is not to plant trees close to a wall. They tend to bend and go over to your neighbour’s building, only because they are seeking sunlight. Some of the best trees for our climes are Spathodea, Acacia and Hong Kong Orchids. Although Gulmohar looks beautiful, the tree is bare with just flowers in summer, the months when shade is most required! Roses do well in colder places like Ooty or Bengaluru but definitely not in a city like Chennai. Foliage gardens, palms and other such varieties also do well in our climate. When you buy a sapling, buy a young plant and let the plant grow with you and buy from a place that has weather

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conditions similar to the city or locale you live in. Even shrubs and smaller plants have a role to play in the ecosystem and we encourage gardens with these. They support smaller, animals, birds and insects and add to the overall look of any garden space when looked after well. Bougainvilleas thrive in our conditions. But they do not require a lot of water and when we overwater them they tend to have more leaves than flowers. The biggest success of the Bougainvillea is that it thrives under neglect. Chopping down trees is unacceptable. They are a source of life, shelter, water, soil and medicine. Transplanting is the best alternative. This can be a successful process if we remove the tree with as much soil around the roots as possible and without damaging the roots, transplant it in a wide enough hole. Keep it well watered for the first few weeks after moving.

Eden at home

There are different types of gardens that you can choose from for your home: Garden with a view – A garden that frames a view for your home. Walled Garden – A garden that is built around a wall. Country Garden – One that meanders through a vast space. Desert Garden – Sparse garden with cacti and rocks. Water Garden – A water feature, such as a fountain or a pond is introduced. Avoid sitting or stagnant water, and special care needs to be taken if you plan to have fish in the pond. Blending the garden with your living space is also very important. It is also important for us to help the next generation understand the need for trees and inculcate in them a love for trees and plants. Involve your children in your garden and teach them the basics of taking care of a little patch by themselves.

Ashok Saran is a Chennai-based landscape architect.



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Look who’s in Town





Fam. Sorensen Dave Wallack

Expats from Telenor/Uninor

Senior Vice President, IFMR Trust My India, My Country If you ask Americans to tell you about themselves, they will usually tell you their occupation; whereas Indians will tell you about what part of India they are from and perhaps about their family. Indians are also far less sarcastic than Americans. I've come to love that about India. My Favourite Indian I admire Sudhir Kakar whose work on Indian cultural psychology has helped me understand India at a deeper level as well as V.S. Ramachandran's work that links neuroscience to the Indian concept of rasa. I'd be remiss to not mention Freddy Mercury for obvious reasons. My Indian Cuisine I've tasted amazing food all across India, but none of it has been at a so-called "multicuisine" restaurant. I have a dream that one day someone will open up a fusion Latin American–South Indian restaurant at Elliot's Beach. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you will join us for brown rice idli smothered in mango salsa and the world will be as one. My India Insight I'm an early riser and am often out with the 5:30 a.m. crowd of runners and walkers in Besant Nagar. I feel that India is at its best right after sunrise when the sunlight is still soft, and I like seeing so many people out walking around and enjoying it with me. My Tip to India Most people in India know more than enough about my country. 28

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My India, My Country The most striking thing is that there is absolutely nothing similar between the two cultures; but that’s part of the charm. We are a wellstructured population; nothing in India seems structured. We are straightforward and always say 'no' when we mean 'no'. Indians also say 'yes' when they mean 'no'. In Denmark we stay indoors, when it is too cold to go out. In India, we stay indoors when it is too warm to go out. My Favourite Indian I admire Manmohan Singh. He seems honest, well respected and I think he does the best he can in order to lead India. My Indian Cuisine Traditional Indian food is very nice. We enjoy vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. Dal, raita and mutton curries are among the favourites. My India Insight I like the way families normally take care of each other (the elderly). We could learn a lot of that in the Western world. A negative side of the cultural aspect is the caste system. It’s sad you don't get a chance to use your talent or skills in a job, if you come from a lower caste. But it seems to be a very difficult task to change and may take many years. My Tip to India People in Denmark are very straightforward and often use irony in daily communication with friends and colleagues. This is not meant to offend anybody, but might be interpreted as such if you are not used to irony.


New Zealand

India’s only cultural magazine for expatriates.

Bud Chapman Volunteering

My India, My Country The people of both countries play cricket; one much better than the other – I will let you guess which! The other similarity is people are friendly and love to talk to foreigners; I see it every morning, walking to my 14-year-old son’s school – Trio World School – where my wife also teaches and I volunteer. My Favourite Indian I am surrounded every day by the wonderful people of India. Our headmaster's driver, Dave, is a man of infinite wisdom and patience who knows the answer to everything. A “Google maps” on legs, he would be my favourite Indian. The hardworking, committed and ever-smiling local staff at the Trio World School can’t go unmentioned. My Indian Cuisine Murgh tikka masala is my favourite Indian food. Depending on where you go, it’s of variable quality; but I’m yet to have one that I can not eat. Aloo chat is also high on my list of gourmet pleasures. This one is for the adventurous who like spicy food! My India Insight India is an adventure if you leave your preconceived ideas and prejudices at home. This is an incredibly ancient culture, with a variety of religions and an incredible array of Gods. Learn about the country, accept it and make your contribution to it. My Tip to India You don’t need to change to interact with me, accept me for who I am, I will accept you for who you are.

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+91-44-24617902 culturama | June 2011


Bursting the Bubble


around In India, the journey is just as adventurous as your destination

SITTING in a vehicle in India do you notice how the traffic in front endlessly weaves in and out, almost seamlessly like a swaying stream? This fluid, amorphous river of belching buses, cycle rickshaws, motorcycles and auto-rickshaws seems to be anarchy in motion. And then have you wondered why there isn’t carnage at every junction? The answer is easy – here drivers don’t generally indicate before they pull out in front of you. Neither do they look behind. They just go. It’s not that they are being ‘bad’ drivers; it’s just the Indian way. In the West we always look out for the driver behind, so use our mirrors and give way to traffic behind. Never in front. Here it is exactly the opposite – you give way to what is in front, so you never need look behind. After some time it will click into place, it becomes second nature. It works. The initial white knuckle rides in auto-rickshaws as the driver careens side to side over the highway changing lanes will turn suddenly into one of being able to enjoy the ride, to integrate into the sights and colours whizzing by, and smell the life going on around. That’s the moment the penny drops and you understand – why it says ‘Blow Horn’ or ‘Sound Horn’ in bold on the back of buses and trucks moving along in front. Ahh … now that makes complete sense too. Or take a journey in an old tank-like ambassador taxi with newly revamped inside, the padded ceiling covered with all kinds of cooling fan mechanisms, with Ganesh, Mother Mary or Islamic beads – maybe all three – swinging from the mirror or glued to the dashboard, the journey blessed with a fresh offering of marigolds or frangipani. Rickshaw drivers and taxi drivers all have a story to tell, not always of hardship and woe, but often funny and full of irony. Taxi drivers will often drive silently unless you ask questions, or ask for music, particularly Indian music, and then the smiles will come thick and fast. The destination is certainly always reached but the journeys themselves unfold as wonderful adventures, as stories in themselves. Local bus travel is another experience not to be missed. Buses in the countryside are often old style, with no glass windows; stopping at every small town en-route, where a myriad of hawkers selling flowers, snacks, charms, potions, newspapers and of


culturama | june 2011

I a n W at k i n s o n


course, chai will enter at one end and leave at the other at every stop. Maybe even the occasional live chicken or goats will make the journey too. Lengthy journeys vanish imperceptibly as the tapestry unfolds. Indian Railways has one of the most sophisticated computer-booking systems in the world – 25 million people travel everyday on 10,000 trains. Thirty years ago or more, before the advent of technology this was all planned quite remarkably with blue and red beads on huge abacus-like frames at the major stations, yet you would emerge from the booking hall, overwhelmed by the seemingly impossible logistics involved, clutching a precious ticket. Now you can do all this over the Internet. However, you decide to book, there is nothing like an Indian train journey. They are all unique. Timeless. Statistics say around 16 million people travel by train here every day without a reservation. However, travel without reservation from any big city station can be daunting – when getting onto the train, it is like being involved in a professional rugby scrum; everyone pushing at once to get to the small carriage doors to get in, at the same time as the hapless arrivals wish to get out. All further complicated by accompanying piles of luggage, packages, bedding and tiffin boxes often being carried

by red-clothed porters, the experts at station scrums. Yet, as soon as the train is on its way, the former combatants sit in the carriages side by side, face to face, share their tiffin, their laughs and stories like the best of friends. Which they may well truly become, as the journey progresses. Of course, now many Indians from be-suited business people to sandalwood pasted swamis fly to their destinations – India has many efficient, competitive airlines connecting just about every major city in the country using new and well -equipped jet aircraft. This is the new emerging global India, creating a vital modern infrastructure at an unprecedented rate. The planes are great, sure, but somehow the best way to travel in India is the slower way, by train or by bus. So take a little time out – give your driver and car a day off, take it as it comes, be adventurous. Fall into the journey, trust it and let it carry you – take a bus or a train, enjoy the genuine companionship of the Indian people and relish the insight that it brings to all as the journeys unfold. Then there are the boats, the ferries, the mountain railways … all waiting. ‘There are no such things as strangers, only friends we haven't met yet’ ‘It’s not the destination that matters, but the journey’. Those two phrases say it all.

The writer is British and lives in Chennai.

culturama | June 2011


Cause and Effect

A mree t h a J a n ar d h a n

A walk to


At the turtle walks arranged by TREE foundation, slow and steady always does win the race! Be the change! • Be a part of guided turtle walks and hatchlings’ release programme for coastal communities. • Enlist in annual teachers’ workshops. • Volunteer with our outreach programmes and awareness activities for students. • Enrol your school or college in ‘Ocean Guardian School Programme’. • Make a donation.

Dr. Supraja Dharini’s calling began with frequent sightings of dead Olive Ridley turtles stranded along the Chennai coast. Inspired by Dr. Jane Goodall’s statement that every individual can make a difference, she took up the cause of biodiversity conservation. Her efforts driven through environment education and community development led to the birth of the TREE Foundation. When the foundation was established in 2002, it was noted that the number of Olive Ridley nests along the coastal areas had dropped by an alarming 90% since the 1970s. The need for a community-based sea turtle conservation programme was apparent to Dr. Supraja and she wasted no time in making TREE Foundation the first NGO in India to successfully satellite-tag turtles. As you may well know, turtle walks have been organised, where volunteers help in protecting turtle eggs and releasing hatchlings. Going beyond the surface of the problem, one of the primary goals of the Tree Foundation is to reduce sea turtle catch mortality. An initiative to reward compensation packages to fishermen who release turtles caught in nets has proven effective apart from other measures like engaging and educating fishing communities. TREE Foundation’s success has been largely due to the day-to-day participation of the community and volunteers. Fishermen adopt practices to sustain marine life and provide a livelihood for the coming generations. Members of the Sea Turtle Protection Force (STPF) become community leaders by training the next group of the Force – students who volunteer go on to teach their children and grandchildren the need for biodiversity conservation. It is indeed heart-warming to hear that the efforts are now paying off with a success rate of up to 88%. In 2010–11 alone 7,082 eggs were protected and 6,219 hatchlings were released from 74 nests, with 146 nests still remaining. Six new hatcheries were built and more than 70% of the fishing community members in the surrounding areas were educated on the lifecycle, role and importance of sea turtles. Over the next five years, sea turtle, marine mammal and ecosystem conservation groups from India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will come together under the umbrella group BEACON (Bay of Bengal Ecologists and Conservationists Network) resulting in the protection of sustainable coexistence of man and mega fauna and the health of the Bay as a whole.

Tree Foundation No. 63, Ist Avenue, Vettuvankeni, Chennai – 600 041, India. Tel: 044 24492242 32

culturama | june 2011



24 MM Preview Theatre, 1830h German Film (75 min) Sven Taddicken’s romantic-tragic comedy ‘Emma’s Bliss’ revolves around Max, a terminally-ill cancer patient and Emma. who steals 70,000 Euros before intentionally crashing his car. Unconscious, he is pulled from the wreckage by Emma, and love blossoms between the two amidst obstacles and secrets.


29 Chennai Trade Centre Photography Exhibition Photo Today Chennai 2011 is one of the leading events of dedicated information about the photographic and video technology industry. The exhibition will showcase all types of image systems and technology, digital imaging technology and photographic and video cameras. On till the 30th.


culturama | june 2011

FOOD & SHOPPING 1 Peek-a-Boo Patterns New Golf Collection For the golfer in your child, we bring you the best , sophisticated, attractive and the most comfortable collection of furnishing waiting to be admired and picked. Visit first floor, Express Avenue mall or call 28464091 for further details.

16 Goethe Institute 17 Short Films The students of LV Prasad Film and TV academy are showcasing their short films in this presentation titled ‘Shots!’. It will also include a special screening of a short film from the 23rd European Union Film Awards. 19 Alliance Française Rock/Metal music parade Alliance Française and Unwind Centre bring you the first ever global live music event. Fête de la musique parade will begin at Alliance Française; proceeding to Haddows Park and finally gathering at Goethe Institute. Featuring Goldfish, Distortion, Whitelady, Franks got the Funk, Bass-in Bridge and Harmonize Projekt.

* 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.

venues Alliance Française de Madras 24, College Road, Chennai 600 006 Tel: 044 28279803 Chennai Trade Centre Poonthottam Colony, Nandambakkam, Chennai 600 089. Decoaro Xclusive 9, Khader Nawaz Khan Road, Nungambakkam, Chennai 600 006 Tel: 044 2833 2544 Email:

1 Hansel & Gretel, 1000h–1300h Summer Camps Junior and senior campers, it’s time to gear up for the summer! Hansel & Gretel is organising story time, sing-along, drama and puzzles for 3- to 7-year-olds; and creative writing, chess and arts and crafts for 8-year-olds and above. Camps will include snacks, certificates and gifts. Pick any two weeks between 1 Palmyra Home FUN furniture March 14 and August 31 and register Add character and style to your with the venue. Call 98404 31549 for home with one-of-a-kind pieces of details. furniture from Palmyra Home. The Kids collection at the store is colourful, fun 1 Wired Dance Studio and practical, and the outdoor Cane Bollywood and Zumba Classes furniture is perfect for the summer. Join Ashley Shillong and learn a variety of dance styles like Bollywood, Jive, 1 Decoaro Xclusive Jazz, Pandemonium, Contemporary, Home Décor Range Hip-hop and Freestyle or opt for the We believe that you deserve the best fitness Dancercise or Zumba classes. and the trendiest to enhance the Registration fee: Rs. 250; Fees: Rs. ambience of your place and experience 1750/month; Special fees for students: the serenity of Nature — aromatic Rs. 1500/month, Contact 9841373663 candles and diffusers; natural and / 9884206080 / 42060030 for more botanical sticks; twigs and balls; glass, details. On through the month. ceramic, wooden and stone vases; potpourri and corporate gifts. 1 Landmark Disney Art and Craft Workshop Be a Disney artist – art and craft workshop by Disney. Take home some of your favourite Disney characters on art and craft work that you will do as part of this enthralling workshop. On till the 12th. 2 Kartwheel, 1400h–1700h Dance and Arts Programme Enrol your children at Kartwheel where they can learn various styles including pop jazz, hip hop, modern ballet, pop n lock and freestyle. Children are even taught to create their own props for the gala show presented to parents at the end of the programme. Ages: 4 to12 yrs. For registrations, contact 9600015074.

Goethe-Institute/Max Mueller Bhavan 4, Rutland Gate, 5th Street, Chennai 600 006 Tel: 044 28331314 Hansel & Gretel Kids Play Centre 11 Jagadambal Street (Near Pondy Bazaar), T.Nagar, Chennai 600 017 Tel: 044-2815 2549 Web: Kartwheel Kids Play Gym 21/1, Lady Madhavan Road, Mahalingapuram, Nungambakkam, Chennai 600 034 Tel: 044 28170721 Palmyra Home 25, Kotturpuram Main Road, Next to HDFC Bank, Kotturpuram, Chennai 600 085 Tel: 044 2447 0438 Kanya Beauty Parlour 4/140, Luz Ginza, Mylapore, Chennai 600 004 Also at RK Salai, T Nagar, Anna Nagar and Besant Nagar Tel: 044 24981410 Landmark No. 10 & 11, City Centre, Radha Krishnan Salai, Mylapore, Chennai 600 004 Tel : 044 28477775 MM Preview Theatre 137Kodambakkam High Road (Near Kodambakkam Over bridge), T. Nagar, Chennai 600 017

15 Kanya Beauty Salon and Spa Mother's Day Special Kanya celebrates a Mother's Day special at all its outlets with oxygen facials–its unique formulation breathes oxygen to the skin and revives the glow instantly. Purchase an oxylife coupon worth Rs.600 and let your mother enjoy the day with an oxygen facial worth Rs.1,100.

Peek a Boo Patterns 16/47, Kasturi Rangan Road, Alwarpet, Chennai 600 018. Tel: 044 24992365 Showroom at 1st Floor Express Avenue Mall , Tel: 044 28464091 Wired Dance Studio #8/20 Rutland Gate, 4th Street, Nungambakkam, Tel: 9884206080


ART & EXHIBITION 1 Gallerie Third Eye 1000h–1800h Group Painting Exhibition An exhibition of contemporary Indian paintings from different established and upcoming artists – Ram Onkar, Arpita Kar, Bhaskar Chowdhury and Mini Arora; curated by Jasmine Khanna. Call 9916586941 for further details. On through the month.

3 Chowdiah Memorial Hall, 1830 h Hindi music concert Bella Vista presents Relive Mohd Rafi Concert. Thirty-six non-stop hits of Mohd Rafi by Amit Bajpai and Hamid Khan. 3 Ranga Shankara English Play – 80 minutes The self-titled play of immigrantoccupied and crime-inflicted area – Harlesden High Street – in London follows the lives, aspirations and frustrations of three Pakistani working class men. Directed by Abhishek Majumdar and written by Neel Chaudhuri. For further details, call 9902874218. On till the 5th. 11 Ranga Shankara & English Play – 60 minutes 12 Harami Theatre’s ‘Butter and Mashed Banana’ is a hilarious take on freedom of speech. A boy, who becomes a world-famous writer, faces rabid opposition to anything he tries to say or do back home in India. Directed and written by Ajay Krishnan. For further details, call 9449009716.

* 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.

FOOD & SHOPPING 1 Crowne Plaza Indian Buffet Spread Feast on the Taste of India buffet and savour the Indian flavours every Thursday at 24 @ 43. On till the 19th. 1 Mama Mia Seasonal Mango Sorbet A summer seasonal flavour! Made with fresh green mango bits and cooked green mango pulp, it is full of tang and an absolute refresher in the summer. It is 100% fat free and being devoid of milk, for the lactoseintolerant as well! On till the 15th.

3 Palace Grounds Fabrics and Accessories Trade Show The eighth edition of this show will provide manufacturers and suppliers of apparel, fabrics, trimmings, embellishments and related services with a platform to showcase their merchandise to discerning buyers from 1 The Leela Palace Mango Mania across the world. On till the 5th. Come and savour the sweet, pulpy and fresh mangoes of the season, WORKSHOP & EVENTS the way you like it and let the king of fruits rule your dessert platter 1 Landmark with élan from Mango Wasabi Crème Summer Carnival Brulee to Mango Philadelphia. Landmark is organising a summer carnival this June. Brush up your arts 1 Le Meridien and craft and take part in story telling Single Malt Evenings and board games. On till the 12th. Come indulge in the exciting Single Malt offer at the Sports Bar & 1 Landmark Bookstore Lounge. On till the 28th. Potter Mania–Harry Potter Quiz If you think you know everything 6 The Oberoi there is to know about Harry Potter, Indian Spice Dining challenge the best in your city at the Chef Saket embarks on a culinary Potter Mania quiz! Win exciting prizes journey with indigenous spices of and DVDs. On till the 12th. India. Discover his creations inspired by their flavours and aromas at Le 1 The Leela Palace Jardin. Enjoy the season’s fresh Summer camp crabs in Thai style at Rim Naam and Get your child trained by ex-Army continue to indulge in the mango personnel with the PACE Academy season at Polo Club all month long. for Children’s Endurance at the Nature camp for children aged 8 to 19 The Oberoi 16 years. Participants will get hands- Father's day celebrations on experience to explore various Celebrate with us the joyous occasion activities like archery, shooting, living of Father’s Day with a gourmet lunch off land, aero modelling, outbound infused with fun activities for the obstacles, campfires and music. On till children too the 9th.

17 Ranga Shankara English Play – 85 minutes Boy with a Suitcase’ is a moving but fun story of a boy who leaves his wartorn country for London, where his sister stays. His two-year-long journey to London is filled with interesting people, experiences and stories. 5 JSS Auditorium, 930h - 2045h Directed by Andrea Gronemeyer and Cultural festival written by Mike Kenny. For further details, call 9880036611. On till the Gokulam School of Music presents ‘Kalaarnava – 2011’, a dawn to dusk 23rd. cultural festival. 18 Town Hall, 1800h – 2030h 18 Alliance Francaise Bollywood Musical Night The World Music Day began in ICPC is organising a Bollywood France in 1982; today celebrated musical night featuring a dream across the word, it is a free platform collection of old and new Hindi songs for musicians, both amateur and by the popular troupe ‘The Desi professional, to share their passion Magik’. The event is in aid of setting with audiences. On till the 21st. up learning centres for underprivileged children.

venues Alliance Francaise No. 108, Thimmaiah Road, Vasanthnagar, Bengaluru 560052 Tel: 080 40808181 Chowdiah Memorial Hall 16th Cross, Gayathri Devi Park Extension, Malleswaram, Bengaluru 560003 Tel: 99869 84878 Crowne Plaza No 43, Phase 1, Electron City, Bengaluru 561229 Tel: 080 39854700 Gallerie Third Eye, 2nd Floor, Yemlur Main Road Next to Logica IT Park & HAL Bengaluru 560037 Tel: 080 41640471 J.S.S Auditorium 8th Block, Jayanagar, Bengaluru 560082 LandMark 21, Hosur Road, Forum Mall, 2nd Floor, Bengaluru 560099 Tel: 080 65771227 LandMark Book Store The Garuda - Swagath Mall. Jayanagar, Bengaluru 560084 The Leela Palace 23, Old Airport Road, H.A.L 2nd Stage, Bengaluru 560008 Tel: 080 30571190 Le Meridien Sankey Road, Seshadripuram, Bengaluru 560052 Matthan Hotel 134, HAL, Airport Road, Bengaluru 560017 Tel: 080 42494949 Mama Mia No503, CMH Road, Indranagar, Bengaluru 560038 Tel: 080 41149423 The Oberoi 37-39, M.G. Road, Bengaluru 560001 Tel: 080 2558 5858 Palace Grounds Jayamahal Road, Bengaluru 560046 Ranga Shankara Theatre No.36/2, 8th Cross,2nd Phase, Next To Post Off, J P Nagar, Bengaluru 560078 Town Hall Near Puttana Chetty Town Hall, Ravindra Kalashetra, J.C. Road, Bengaluru 560002

culturama | June 2011




1, Italian Embassy Cultural Centre, 15, Italian Embassy Cultural Centre, 4 Uomo D’ Acqua Dolce 1830h, 0230h 18 Se Fossi in Te, 1830h, 0230h Antonio and Beatrice are a happily Three very different men are brought married couple, expecting a child. together on a drunken night on the Unfortunately Antonio wanders away beach. Each one wishes to be in the after losing his memory following a other man’s place. When problems head injury. Five years later, when crop up, they miss their old lives he returns, his wife is married to an causing them to revaluate their initial opera singer. He embarks on a journey wishes. to win back his wife and home. 15 Epicentre, 1930h Sitar Recital Sitar recital by Sudeep Rai, disciple of Pt. Debu Chaudhuri. In collaboration with IWCF. 17 Epicentre, 1930h Dance Recital Bharatnatyam recital by Anushree Shiroor, disciple of Sudha Jagannath. 19 Epicentre, 1930h Theatre|Tattoo Adapted and directed by Sohaila Kapur. Written by German playwright 8, Italian Embassy Cultural Centre, Dea Loher, it is the story of the Cosi E La Vita, 1830h, 0230h imprisonment of the spirit. Of Aldo is in prison for a credit card incarceration that occurs in the home fraud. He makes a getaway when he through loved and trusted people. It is in court taking the guard hostage. is the exposure of incest, which is Giovanni who hails a cop car to report kept under wraps under the garb of the crime is taken hostage as well protecting the family honour. The play and they make way to the country exposes a hidden and shocking aspect side. Soon a bond forms between the of human society, which has produced unlikely three. some of history’s worst psychopaths. The play observes a family where a 10 Epicentre, 1930h father has been abusing his daughter Dance Drama over the years. A glimmer of hope Seven Ages of Man in collaboration emerges when the girl falls in love and with Aadhunik, a unit of Indian makes her bid for freedom...the play Contemporary Dance. Directed and is also about choices imposed on one.. choreographed by Dr. Krishan Sharma. All the world’s a stage, and all the 29 Epicentre, 1930h men and women merely players, they Dance Recital have their exits and entrances, and Odissi dance recital by Aradhana Das, one man in his time plays many parts, disciple of Basanti Mishra, late Deba his acts being seven ages. Prasad Das and late Pankaj Charan Das. In collaboration with IWCF. 11 Epicentre, 1930h English Play art & exhibitions The Lady in Black tells the story of Arthur Kipps, a middle-aged solicitor, 1 India Habitat Centre who hires a theatre and the services Photographic Solo Exhibition Time (Less) by Gwenaëlle Lefeuvre of a professional actor to help him invites visitors to rediscover their re-enact – and thereby hopefully own relationship with time, and exorcise – a ghostly event which the feelings associated with it: befell him many years ago. Kipps the contemplation. A collection of begins to read his story: painfully, self photographs taken over three years in consciously and hesitantly at first, France, USA and UK. On till the 30th. but grows in confidence and ability as he assumes a variety of roles and 8 India Habitat Centre the play moves from narration to enactment. Tickets priced at Rs. 350, Painting Exhibitions 250 and 150 available at the venue. Moods of Nature is a solo painting exhibition by Bhawna Choudhary Chandra who draws her inspiration from Nature and little walks of life. 36

culturama | june 2011

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

art & exhibitions


Also this month is the group show titled Parikrama-2 by Radhey Shyam, Kuldeep, H.K.Kadam, Shanshah Mittal, Anjana, Ashutosh, Mukesh Verma, Chander and Madhupriya. On till the 14th.

1 Toro, Khan Market, 1000h–0000h Summer Mocktails Mesmerize your thirst with the soothing mocktails and choose from a stupendous list of blends like alcohol-free mojito, pom pom refresher, strawberry sunrise, berries and more made with your favourite fruits. Meal for two: Rs. 1200. On till June 16.

24 India Habitat Centre Painting Solo Exhibition Preksha Lal’s Buddha collection takes its inspirations from the enlightened one, his life, his teachings and his travel 1 Smoke House Grill, 1930h – 0000h and his enlightenment carefully and Summer Cocktails intricately combining various textures, Cool your day with your favorite mediums, and techniques to paint this cocktails like water melon capriojka vivid collection. On till the 30th. pitchers, smoked tangerine capriojka pitchers and kiwi capriojka pitchers. 17 India Habitat Centre Price per cocktail: Rs. 425 + taxes. Residential Architecture Session On through the month. +91 RESIDENCES - Contemporary Indian Houses will feature 91 independent dwellings across India VENUES built in the last decade and 19 worksNeoveda Spa, Craft House, in-progress. These 110 projects and a The Metropolitan Hotel model display of houses designed by Bangla Sahib Road, architects offer a strong insight into New Delhi contemporary residential architecture Tel: 011 42500200 in India.

Workshops & events 1 India Habitat Centre Photography workshop Learn to capture the unnoticed, the unsaid, the untouched, and the unfelt through the lens of your camera, and make a difference! India Habitat Centre introduces ‘Zen of Photography’ conducted by artphotographer Achal Kumar. On till the 20th

FOOD & SHOPPING 1 The Metropolitan Hotel Ayurvedic Spa NeoVeda welcomes you to a new dimension in the world of health, well being and fitness. NeoVeda Spa, based on the concept of new Ayurveda showcases the modern translation of ancient Indian knowledge of life and well-being and takes you on a journey of self discovery. Open all days. Call for further details.

Epicentre At Apparel House, Sector 44, Gurgaon Tel: 0124 2715000 Habitat World, IHC Lodhi Road, New Delhi 110 003 Tel: 011 24682001 –09 Italian Embassy Cultural Centre 50- E Chandragupta Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi 110 021 Tel: 011 26871901/03/04 Ext. 214 Smoke House Grill P No-2, Vipps Centre, North Wing, Masjid Moth, Greater Kailash II, Delhi Tel: 011 41435531 Toro 29, 1st Floor, Khan Market, Delhi Tel: 011 4310577

CALENDAR MUMBAI theatre & mUSIC film

workshop & events

11 Prithvi Theatre, 1100h 1 Art Loft ,12 English play – 1 Hour 10 Minutes Fundamentals of Photography Young puppeteer and ventriloquist The Art Loft and Whistling Woods Satya Dreamalot goes on a dangerous International come together in a quest to rescue his toy-maker father collaboration benefiting all, beginning from the evil clutches of Queen with a photography course by Akeli. The Incredible Adventures of Whistling Woods Faculty, Rajen Satya Dreamalot features a variety Kothari. On till the 18th. The course of puppet techniques, ventriloquism, offers an elementary training in singing, dancing and audience creative photography. Call Tania interaction. Starring India’s Got Talent Fletcher at 9930483966 for further finalist Satyajit Padhye. Suitable for details. ages 7 years and above. Tickets : Rs. 250. 1 Guitar Hall LearnGuitars, Keyboards and Drums, 11 Experimental Theatre, We provide individualised instruction, ,12 English play allowing you to select either of Banyan Tree Productions brings you these as your principal instrument. ‘Famous Last Words’. Anil Shah, a Learn with professional faculty who critically acclaimed writer, hasn’t are specialists in each discipline. written a word in five years. His Course work specifically designed to existence, hovering between life and enhance your talents and abilities, death, is pulled in different directions and myriad playing opportunities. Call by the enigma of his ex-wife, and the 9833518423 for further details. On antics of the others. Shah does write, till the 27th. but makes many a discovery along the way. Who will be the one to stab him in the back, literally? Tickets are 1 H20, 1000h – till sunset priced at Rs. 750, 500, 350 and 250. Parasailing If you’re looking for something 11 Tata Theatre different to get your adrenalin Elvis Tribute pumping! H20 promises that This June, in the year of The King’s their parasailing instructors have 76th birth anniversary, NCPA with experience of over 5,000 flights. Gary Lawyer pays tribute to the Certified life guards are also present. Legend over four fantastic days of his Flight cost: Rs. 1,090. On through the films culminating in ‘Jailhouse Rock’. month. A bass baritone, who sings just as easily in the tenor range, Gary will be performing with Christopher Fonceca Guitar, Leo Mathew - Keyboard, Jesan Filipe - Keyboard, Clarry Devisser Bass and Adrian D’Souza - Drums.

art & exhibition 1 Project 88, 1100h Solo Exhibition Project 88 is pleased to announce Delhi-based artist Priya Sen’s first solo in Mumbai, titled Place Unconsidered, Trilogy. It consists of two video works and a series of photographs. Sen broadly deals with the idea of time and its relevance. On till the 11th. 1 Gallery Beyond, 1100h - 1830h At Walden Pond a group show of 28 artists starts at Gallery Beyond – the works done at the workshop at Walden Pond, Kochi, and Feb’11 . On till the 18th.


culturama | june 2011

1 S. S. Sahani School Capoeira Classes Capoeira is a Brazilian form of dance and martial art, specializing in synchronizing the moves to music. ‘Cordao De Ouro India’ is the first Capoeira Group in India started by Monitor Baba. For children and beginners, all through the month. 1 Women’s Graduates Union Aerobic Classes Aerobic classes conducted by wellknown trainer at Women’s Graduates Union. Days: Monday to Friday, on through the month.

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

FOOD & SHOPPING 1 The Banyan Tree, 1200h - 23:00h New Summer Menu Banyan Tree has introduced a whole new menu this summer. Dig into a variety of delicious new dishes, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Choose from ambrosial, mouthwatering dishes like vegetable shashlik with saffron pilaf, Thai curry with steamed rice, chicken stew with desi herbed bun, basil olive prawns and more. On till the 22nd. 1 The Orchid – An Ecotel Hotel Mango Mania The best arrays of mangoes have hit the market. The Mango Feast is going to be held in the Fine Dining Restaurants, Coffee Shops, The Rooftop Restaurants of The Orchid with just desserts and everything Mango based. Indulge in delicacies like Fresh Mango Juice, Aam ka Panna, Mango Lassi, Mango Kulfi with Falooda and Mango Cheese Cake. On through the month. 1 Oakwood Premier Jash-E-Aam Enjoy Chilly Under My Belly, Raw Mango Mojito, Mango Colada, Panah Daiquiri, Mango Tiramisu, Leychee, Mango Parfait and a lot more mouthwatering desserts and cocktails with ‘Jashn- E- Aam’ special menu at Oakwood Premier. Rs. 400 plus taxes. On through the month. 1 Bru World Cafe Summer Specials Block the summer heat at BRU World Cafe as it brings you its rejuvenating summer special menu. Starting from Rs. 99, this summer menu is sure to help you beat the heat. Cast aside your summer woes and sit back to enjoy exotic cold coffees like chocomint ice cappuccino or crazy cold coffee. Refresh your senses with chilled yogurt frappes in various tropical fruit flavours. Let’s Go Dutch.

venues The Art Loft Valentino Rest, 1st Floor, Mehboob Studio, Hill Road, Bandra West, Mumbai 400 050 Tel: 98191 32958 The Banyan Tree Queen’s Mansion Building, Bmb Gallery, Ground Floor, G.T.Marg, Fort, Mumbai 400 001 Tel: 022 6510 9308. Bru World Café Juhu Tara Road, Juhu, Mumbai - 49 Tel: 022 2614 3229 Gallery Beyond 130/132, First Floor, Great Western Building, Sahind Bhagat Singh Marg, Fort, Mumbai 400 001. Tel: 022 2283 7345/46 Guitar Hall Centre, Sujata No.9, Juhu Tara Road, Opp. Santa Cruz West Police Station, Santa Cruz (West), Mumbai 400 049 H2O Netaji Subhashchandr Bose Road, Chowpatty, Mumabi, Tel: 044 2367 7546 Oakwood Premier J R Mhatre Road, Juhu, Vile Parle West, Mumbai 400 049 Tel: 022 6623 8888. The Orchid – An Ecotel Hotel Near Domestic Airport,Vile Parle East, Mumbai 400 049, Tel: 022 2616 4000 Prithvi Theatre 20, Janki Kutir, Juhu Church Road, Mumbai 400 049 Tel : 022 2614 9546 Project 88 BMP Building, Ground Floor, N.A. Sawant Marg, Near Colaba Fire Station, Colaba, Mumbai 400 005, Tel: 022 2281 0066 S.S. Sahani School !8th Road, Khar (West), Mumbai 400 051 Tel: 98690 55371 Tata Theatre, Experimental Theatre, NCPA Marg & Dorabji Tata Road, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400 021 Tel: 022 6622 3737 Women’s Graduates Union Sasoon Dock Cross Road, Near BPT Garden Colaba, Mumbai 400 005 Tel: 98203 24162

Photo Feature


india green

Hara, meaning green in Hindi, has long been acknowledged in India as the silent facilitator of life. ‘India Green’, the rich variant of the colour, was adopted as the last band of the tri-colour national flag, signifying fertility and prosperity. It is also associated with the agricultural revolution that India experienced in the 1960s and 1970s and has denoted hope, faith, chivalry and pride! India’s first Vice President, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, once said, “The green […] shows our relation to the soil, our relation to the plant life here, on which all other life depends.” With agriculture being one of the primary occupations of India, lush paddy fields follow one wherever he or she may travel in the country. The Ring-Necked Parakeet, better known as the green parrot, is an intellectual animal that is synonymous with another common aspect of India – astrology. The parrot walks out of its shelter, and mystically selects a card from a pile of 27, predicting the client’s fortune. The parrot’s green plumage can also be spotted in the hollows and branches of trees – an ideal place to build nests and tend the young ones. Parrots feed on nuts, seeds and fruits and are known to have a fondness for guavas and green chillies. Guava is a common fruit in India, available all year long except during the summer. This round or oval-shaped fruit is 4- to 12-cm long and is a green colour when young, but may mature to yellow, green or maroon hues when ripe. It is known for its rich content of vitamin C and for its medicinal benefits. One single guava fruit contains four times as much vitamin C as an orange! A lesser known fact is that green chillies contain up to six times as much vitamin C as that of oranges. Another fruit known for its medicinal properties is the Indian gooseberry – better known as amla in the north and nellikai in the south. A small yellowishgreen, lime-sized, spherical fruit, it is said to increase longevity, purify blood, relieve asthma and coughs and also to reduce premature hair fall, to name a few of its many benefits. Perhaps what symbolises India best – more so than the fruits and paddy fields – is a nation of a billion waking up to a hot cup of chai. So the next time you sip on a steaming cuppa, do picture the sights of seemingly infinite tea estates sprawling across hills, not to mention colourfully-dressed skilled tea pickers meticulously harvesting a good leaf.


culturama | june 2011

culturama | June 2011


Star Struck



Gemmarie Ve n k a t arama n i

Time magazine acclaimed M S Swaminathan as one of the twenty most influential Asians of the 20th century, one of only three from India, the other two being Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore. He has also been described by UNEP as 'the Father of Economic Ecology'. Strongly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi’s unique belief in ahimsa or non-violence to achieve purna swaraj (total freedom) and swadeshi (self-reliance), Dr Swaminathan, seeing the growing food shortage in the country, enrolled at the Madras Agriculture College, Coimbatore, hoping to help in liberating the country from food scarcity. It was while studying agriculture that he learnt that men and women toiling daily in the fields know their jobs better than a scientific expert. Therefore, as the chairman of the National Commission on Farmers, Dr Swaminathan recommended a national policy for the farmers, not merely a policy for agriculture. The new strategy for agriculture development is to put the well-being of the farmer at the bottom line. We need a human-centric approach to the agriculture policy, he strongly believes. After pursuing a doctorate degree at Cambridge University, UK, and post-graduate degrees in agriculture research at Wageningen University in The Netherlands and the University of Wisconsin, USA, Dr Swaminathan came back to India equipped with knowledge on how to tackle the challenges of Indian agriculture. Since then, his contributions to the agricultural renaissance of India have led to his being widely referred to as the scientific leader of the Green Revolution movement. At 85, the indefatigable Dr Swaminathan frequently travels to different parts of the world for lectures, meetings, conventions and conferences, apart from attending to his numerous responsibilities in different organisations, local and international, where he holds key positions.

Green tidbits

THE man who changed the face of Indian agriculture, M.S. Swaminathan is a name that is almost synonymous with the Green Revolution in India… World Food Prize, Ramon Magsaysay Award, Albert Einstein World Science Award, United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Sasakawa Prize, Volvo Environment Prize, Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibushan. You name it, and he’s got it. One big room is not enough to accommodate the huge number of plaques, trophies, certificates and commendations conferred on and received by Dr M S Swaminathan, chairman of the National Commission on Farmers, and member of the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of Parliament in the Government of India.


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The revolution in a nutshell: expanding farm areas on a continuous basis, harvesting two crops on existing farmlands and using seeds whose genetics have been improved, making them more resistant and resilient, these were the underlying principles of the revolution. In the year 1978–79, the Green Revolution resulted in a record grain output of 131 million tonnes in India. Canada, among other developed countries that were facing shortage in agricultural labour, was so impressed by India’s Green Revolution that the country requested the Indian government to send farmers experienced in the methods of the Green Revolution. Many farmers from Punjab and Haryana in northern India were sent to Canada.

Couture calling!


Women of the world came together over fashion at the ‘Urbanisation of Traditional Textile Crafts’ event held in the India Immersion Centre on April 29. The session kicked off with a warm welcome by Usha Sridhar to the guests and the speaker, Anaka Narayanan – entrepreneur of designer fashion boutique, Brass Tacks. Anaka used her expertise to elaborate not only on the various kinds of traditional textiles in India, like Ikat, Laheria, Bandhini, Shibori and Khadi but also how they are created. The slides and sample swatches of material gave the guests a colourful glimpse into India’s fabric sense and its fusion with western styles. She also spoke at length about the different cuts that cause garments to fall differently – cuts along the warp (length) of the cloth are strong, while those cut along the weft (width) are weak, and garments cut on a ‘bias’ or diagonally have an entirely different silhouette and fall. Anaka’s tips on assessing the quality of a dress: - Turn the dress inside-out - Look for mismatched threads - Look for skip-stitches - Unequal shoulders and armholes - Mismatched buttons and holes


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This month, the India Immersion Centre hosted an event for its youngest audience yet! The Taste of India event hosted by Usha Sridhar of Global Adjustments catered to a 20-member audience aged between two and five years old. With the help of aids and props they were given their first India Insight session through the five senses: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching India. The interactive session show filled the corridors of GA with the energy and enthusiasm of the tiny tots!

Your every breath is in the Stars

Have you taken the time to see if you are performing a most important and revered task at Rahu time of a day? ‘Your every breath is in the stars’ began with an interactive session on the basics of Indian Vedic Astrology, with consultant astrologer E. S. Neelakantan, who enlightened the enthusiastic audience about the impact of stars and planetary alignments on their destined paths. The audience even learnt the various characteristics as well as the implications of being born under a specific planetary alignment and the cycle of karma that we face at each rebirth. This was followed by a session on Pranayama – or the extension of life force through breathing techniques with Yoga Instructor M. Vimalchand. He demonstrated Kapal Bhati and Anulom vilom (breathing exercises), followed by eye exercises, face massages and an exercise for the neck, head and shoulders, each with a special significance ND together promoting better lifestyle and longevity.


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“Having graduated in physics I feel like a scientist myself. Everything is connected to physics and I believe constellations and their manners affect the Earth’s gravity and energy. I’m interested in astrology and yoga and travelLed from far just to get here today, although I am quite busy with my four-month old baby. Both the lecturers were fantastic and approachable and explained the concepts in everyday words. I will be getting in touch with them!” said Olga Suihkonen, MD Purple Grass Studios, who was an enthusiastic member of the audience “This is new to us and we’ve never heard of planets called Rahu and Ketu and it was exciting to learn about Indian astrology. I also enjoyed the yoga session and I will be practising pranayama at home everyday,” said Clotilde Saurteig, a German who attended the event. “I really enjoyed the talk on astrology as well as the demonstration of yoga. Both speakers were knowledgeable and easy to understand. I also liked how they encouraged audience participation. I would have liked to listen to more of what both have to teach," said Jennifer, another participant.

India and I

M ari n a M ara n g o s

tiger tiger burning bright A visit to the Kanha National Park is all you need to take in India’s extensive flora and fauna‌


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Getting away in India is a difficult exercise. No sooner are you at some distance from the bustling cities and the crowds when more of them appear from increasingly unexpected quarters. The national parks in India are attracting more and more tourists. So when we set out for a long weekend to visit the Kanha National Park we were hoping to be able to get away, but we also knew how popular the park is. Created in 1955, it has flourished under a series of conservation programmes and expansions, making it one of the largest in central India at 940 sq km. Twenty-seven villages have been relocated, so evidence of fruit trees in the forest still exists. The forest has been expanded and I had a personal curiosity to visit this park. I had read The Jungle Book as a child and I adopted the name Mowgli as my pen name. Rudyard Kipling’s Mowgli was created and survived in the jungle of Kanha. After a short flight to Raipur it took us five-anda-half hours by road. I can’t say the road was all bad but there were some seriously challenging parts, which may put off the more comfort-orientated tourist. Along the way we saw planted fields and the Dhak tree in bloom. Also known as the Flame of the Forest, the Dhak tree is unmistakable for its clusters of fiery orange blossoms on bare branches with contrasting black velvety stems. They resemble forest fires ablaze in the air, in an otherwise flat plain. As we climbed, this scenery gave way to forests of Sal and deciduous trees and finally to the meadow lands of the Banjaar River, which borders the park and which would be our resting place for the next few days. The weather was beautiful crisp sunlight in the early morning, warming us as the day went on. Our open jungle jeep crunched carpets of fallen leaves and we took in the animals at the watering holes and the birds. There was a buzz in the air, however, about a tiger sighting and so our driver sped off to where she was rumoured to be prowling. We waited silently to see her emerging from the forest, flanked by a peacock. Clearly it was not desired as a snack! There was a collective intake of breath, followed by frantic positioning and camera clicking from all the excited onlookers in the jeeps that had crowded round. We did see her, a little in the distance, totally undisturbed by the considerable fuss that was being made of her before she slipped quietly into the forest from where she had come. We were pleased, but it had not been a great sighting. We were given a choice – to go on an elephant or to take a drive up to a ridge that had a fantastic view of the park below. The other jeeps were heading towards the elephants. We opted for the second. While we love to see the big animals, there is so much more to these parks that we took the mountain trail. We enjoyed the

blossoming Amaltas, the Mahuas, the Kapoks with their cotton buds filling the sky, and the Sal trees, with an occasional ghost tree and the crocodile bark trees in the backdrop, stopping for birds such as the Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, the Serpent Eagle and the Honey Buzzard, and watching butterflies dancing in the breeze. We were just coming around a corner and there on the road in front of us was the most beautiful tiger, walking nonchalantly down the path towards us. Our driver stopped dead in his tracks and waited. She decided that it was a hot day and that she needed a rest from all this early morning gambling so she sat down in front of our car. There she was in the most magnificent pose, with stripes as orange and fiery as the Dhak tree and a face that was fine and steadfast. No one else was there; just us, and we could take as much time as we wanted to enjoy her yawns, her scratches and her vigilant look. At some point she got up and strolled closer to the jeep. Guards are not armed and these tigers are definitely not the man-eating kind that Corbett met in Kumaon. Still, there was nervousness in us all and the driver gently reversed the car to allow her more room to pass. She did, she took her time over it and looked back a couple of times as if to make sure that we were still paying attention, and then she disappeared into the forest below. This was the kind of sighting where, having got away from it all, you have it all. To us this was the icing on the cake. We continued on our way up to the ridge and had breakfast there and we took in the wonderful flowering trees, the rare and endangered swamp deer and the small and auburn-coloured barking deer. It barks like a dog! Kanha is the park that rescued the Barasingha, the swamp deer, from extinction and is also home to the Indian Gaur, a stocky-looking bison in white socks. The park is a careful balance of meadow lands, for the herbivores, kept so by controlled burning, and the mixed Sal and bamboo forests higher up, which will happily house the leopards and the tigers. Its conservation measures are paying off as the animal populations show a healthy increase. We saw leaf birds eating fruit off trees, lemur monkeys sucking the nectar from the flowers of the Kapok tree and a jungle owlet poking its little head out of a dead tree trunk. Two jackals scurried across the road and a wild boar drank thirstily from a watering hole. I wondered where Mowgli was in all of this. I knew I had chosen my alter ego well and she was happily lost in this magical jungle. Best season to visit Kanha National Park: February to June. The park is closed from 1st July to 1st October.

The writer is Greek-Cypriot and has lived in Delhi for the last two years.

culturama | June 2011


India Snapshot

QA t h r o u g h P a s ca l Reynaud's lens

What is the minimum auto fare in most parts of India?

We go by the meter, except during daily breakdowns!


culturama | june 2011

Name Sake

S Nair

Inner Space

Giving with grace The word dakshina refers to an offering, and originates from daksha meaning ‘capable’. Dakshina is therefore what is given out of one’s capability and willingness. In Vedic religion, it stood for the remuneration paid to a priest. The word begins with the syllable ‘Da’, and the story goes that Prajapathi (the Creator), tired of being alone, brought forth three sets of beings – devatas (gods), asuras (demons) and ordinary men. They were his disciples, and on completing studies asked for a mantra. A smiling Prajapathi uttered into the ear of each the syllable ‘Da’. With their inherent differences, the devatas understood ‘Da’ as damyata or self-restraint. To the men, it was datta or ‘give in charity’. The asuras heard it as dayadvam or ‘compassion’. Thus, on man fell the role of datta or giver, an act he performs at rituals and auspicious occasions. During pujas, the priest gets dakshina as money placed on a betel leaf along with a piece of turmeric root. In a temple, devotees place money on the camphor-flaming plate brought around by the priest. Some pre-wedding rituals have the bride and groom giving dakshina to elders in return for blessings. The practice follows one to the grave too. As part of the rituals, clothes and money are given as dakshina, a symbolic offering to the departed soul. Gurudakshina, or repaying one’s teacher on completion of formal education, is a concept unique to Indian culture. In Hindu dharma, the guru taught how to live a disciplined life and students, in return, helped him in daily life. Thus, repayment was not monetary but included tasks the teacher wanted accomplished. Da! Da! Da! In combination, the three qualities will make us better human beings. Over then to the inner voice!


culturama | june 2011

Courtyard at India Immersion Centre

A rosy picture A mural is any piece of artwork painted or applied directly on a wall, ceiling or other large permanent surface. What distinguishes this art form is that the picture incorporates the architectural elements of the given space. In India, the art of mural painting goes back beyond the pages of history. Painting murals is inherently linked to the country’s painting traditions, as can be seen from the mention of painting in classical texts such as the Kamasutra of Vatsyayan as one of the 64 arts. Murals are considered the earliest evidence of paintings discovered from the remnants of ancient civilisation. What formed the subject matter for these paintings? Recourse to nature again, in the form of animals and human beings, with scenes from hunting and the family being the central themes. The wall paintings in caves nine and ten of Ajanta, near Aurangabad in Maharashtra are known for incredible levels of detail in the motifs and costumes. Bagh in Madhya Pradesh and the Kailsanath Temple at Ellora in Maharashtra are also among the sites famous for mural paintings. Eastern India has wall and panel paintings depicting Buddhist and non-Buddhist themes. In the south, murals flourished in the Chola and Vijayanagar kingdoms. The mural art of Kerala is vividly depicted in its temples, churches and monuments. Today, murals are painted in a variety of ways, using oil or water-based media. And the style can vary from the traditional to the abstract. The traditional style of the mural art form using natural pigments and vegetable colours is being revived by a new genre of artists in Kerala, who are actively involved in researching and teaching mural art at the Sree Sankara Sanskrit College in Kaladi, and at a mural art school associated with the Lord Krishna temple in Guruvayur.





Festivals of India


Celebrating Diversity



Ajmer Khwaja Sahib Mela Ajmer Khwaja Sahib Mela is one of the most important religious fairs of India. Held in Ajmer, in the state of Rajasthan it celebrates the birth of Khwja Sahib who was instrumental in spreading Islam in India with his message of love and compassion for humanity. Khwaja Sahib, an Islamic saint, is believed to have arrived in Ajmer around the year of 1190 AD. The Mela celebrates his birth with special prayers, make-shift shops, hawkers selling colourful condiments and more. This year, the Mela will be held on June 4.

Vat Savitri Vat Savitri is celebrated by women on Purnima (full moon day) of Jyeshta mas – between the months of May and June – and is celebrated this year on June 15. A three-night fast is observed by married Hindu women for the well-being and longevity of their husbands. The banyan tree is of great significance in this festival. Women bathe early in the morning, before gathering at the nearest vat or banyan tree. The roots of the banyan tree vat vriksha represent the Hindu God Brahma and are consumed along with water. The stem represents Vishnu and the above portion, Shiva. A sacred thread is tied around the tree and offerings of flower and rice are made. Finally the women circumambulate the tree. Upon returning home, she should draw a banyan tree using turmeric-sandalwood paste and pray to Vat Savitri. Legend has it that Savitri married Satyavan despite the advice of his oncoming early death. When Yama (the God of death) came to claim Satyavan’s soul, she followed the pair n,ever leaving her husband’s side. Impressed by her devotion, Yama granted Savitri three wishes with the exception of her husband’s life. After deep consideration, her final wish was to bear healthy children and Yama was forced to return Satyavantto her in order to make the wish possible.

culturama | June 2011


View from the Top


Of eco-friendly economics 54

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Kathleen Rogers, President, Washington D.C.-based Earth Day network and an awardwinning green champion TALKS TO culturama ABOUT INDIA'S GREEN MOVEMENT

How was Earth Day received in India this year? Did you expect it to gain as much momentum as it did? Earth Day 2011 was amazing – some of us compared it to the years right before the first Earth Day 1970. Over 200 events took place in 170 cities – in each of India’s 28 states. The actions included petition drives, art and music events, large-scale tree plantings, essay writing, popular science lectures, K–12 Nature walks, film screenings, and more, were held. In Kolkata, a city known as the cultural capital of India, several music concerts were held to showcase compositions on Nature. Thousands of people pledged to do an 'act of green' as part of Earth Day Network’s Billion Acts of Green® campaign to promote sustainability. Concerts and a drive to build awareness about waste management were held in Goa, while fisherfolk who live in the fringes of the Chilka Lake were helped to understand the benefits of protecting the flora and fauna of the lagoon. In Srinagar, street plays were organised with the support of an NGO and aided by the local security forces. It was truly a remarkable, ground-breaking Earth Day in India this year. Could you tell us a bit about your visit to India last year? I was fortunate enough to have been sent by the United States Department of States on a visitor’s speaking tour of India. My area of speciality was the emerging green economy and ways in which India and the United States could be working both independently and together to design and implement this new world. It was my very first trip to India and although I am an avid reader of Indian fiction and history, I did not know quite what to expect. It would not be an exaggeration to say that from the moment I emerged from the airport I was intoxicated with India. The vibrancy, the potential, the people merged together into a vision of what the world’s future

will become. What were your thoughts on India’s environmental scenario – on the ground, having visited the country firsthand? Despite India’s amazing economic progress, there are major issues that could be addressed with the right combination of political will and investment. Sewage and waste treatment are the most basic issues that need to be solved. I would love to work with a countrywide 'Keep India Beautiful' campaign, like the one that was so successful in the United States years ago. It included putting a price on littering and seemingly over night, once that was done, the country seemed cleaner. That in turn led to an expectation that it would remain clean and that other concerns such as keeping the air and water clean would naturally follow suit. The same should happen in India. What areas do you think India and Indians can focus on to contribute towards a green movement? Invest everything in building the green economy. A carbon-based economy is phasing. Learning from the mistakes that Western countries have made, India can build an infrastructure that supports a green economy. I also suggest that the Indian policymakers focus on special initiatives to provide funding for women entrepreneurs. Women make about 80% of the world’s consumer purchase decisions, and as mothers, workers and business owners, we more often make choices that inherently protect the health and well-being of our families. Women also repay our debts more often and faster. What about India did you really like? First, of course, were the people. I felt as if I was at an immense university, where everyone had a well-thought out opinion. I saw an eagerness for an exchange of ideas, and also great dignity and thoughtfulness. The markets and the food were extraordinary. Each of the more than 50 meetings and conversations I

had were so valuable. I realised quite quickly that I was there to exchange ideas and learn; that is not something I feel every day in Washington, D.C. Were there any similarities between our cultures or differences that took you by surprise? Yes many. In some ways, there is nothing 'foreign' about India. I felt at home in almost every quarter. I found common ground with everyone, from the women in the markets, to the people in the meetings I attended. And, I found everyone extremely polite, a quality I value highly. I also felt that in some ways, people in the U.S. and India raise their children similarly. Unlike more restrictive cultures, the children of our countries are encouraged to think critically and to explore. These qualities have produced great entrepreneurs and economic resiliency in the U.S. and I suspect, given the new mobility in India, that we shall see an emergence in global entrepreneurship and intellectual property from India as well. Going forward, what would you like to see as far as Earth Day is concerned? What would your ideal Earth Day have achieved? Wow, what a question… My ideal Earth Day is probably a day when we take such good care of the Earth in everything we do, in every choice we make, that Earth Day is about remembrance and appreciation rather than a day of action. That day will come when the world’s economies are no longer based on fossil-fuels and carbon, when everyone has a green job, when there is a sustainable and just life for all people, when the global economy is booming; sustainability means bounty for all, and there are no losers. In the meantime, we who care about the Earth and its inhabitants must keep pressuring our leaders to build the green economy, to clean up our air, water and food and to incentivise business practices that demonstrate good stewardship of our precious natural resources, not those that deplete them.

culturama | June 2011


Holistic Living

e k n a t h e s wara n


Time-tested Very few people in human history have accomplished more than Gandhi. Not many even had his vitality. If you look at some of his pictures, however, he appears as relaxed as a cat. Our cat Whoosh sits at the foot of a tree so quietly that you think she is sleeping. Then, without warning, you see a blur of half a dozen cats in the air. Such an explosion of movement! I always wonder where all this energy comes from. She seems inert, but in action she becomes not one cat but half a dozen. Gandhi was like that. When you looked at him, he seemed so quiet, so gentle, so mild, that it took a long time for the British to understand that just as a cat becomes half a dozen cats in the air, Gandhi became four hundred million human beings when he stirred the unconscious aspirations of the Indian people. This is just the opposite of the time-driven personality, always on the go in an obsessive drive to achieve more and more in less and less time. Gandhi represents a different type, calm at the centre but able to rouse a whirlwind of selfless action when the occasion demands. From the outside, such a person may look like an old Model T, but inside there is a Ferrari. How often we find people the other way around! A Ferrari body with a Model T engine. You see a lot of speed and flash but not much real progress, and no lasting contribution to the world. Gandhi had not only a Ferrari engine but a Ferrari body as well. Only a strong, resilient body could have taken the rigours of that life. John Gunther, who was over six feet tall, recalled that he had to run to keep up with Gandhi when he went to


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interview him – and Gandhi was in his seventies at the time. His vigour was unmistakable. His power was untouched until the situation demanded it; then he would take off in no time, from zero to sixty in one minute, as calm as ever behind the wheel. It was all power steering, too. Seeing him gave me a whole new ideal of what it means to operate successfully in the modern world. Even little incidents in Gandhi’s life were a lesson to me. The first few times I had to stand before an audience in college, for example, my limbs would shake and the words would choke in my throat. It encouraged me greatly to learn that, as a law student, Gandhi too had been so acutely shy that he was unable even to read a brief introduction at a dinner party. He not only learned to overcome this shyness but spoke every day for most of his public life, often before some of the biggest and most hostile crowds you can imagine. But he was always relaxed and free from tension. There was no hurry, and he never succumbed to pressure. One amusing instance of this has been preserved in the archives of radio. When Gandhi was in London in 1931 as a guest of the British government, he had become something of a celebrity in the United States, so CBS arranged a special transatlantic broadcast – a daring feat of technology in those days, when connections often failed. Everything was set up hours beforehand, and the radio and government people were wound tight with tension. Most of Gandhi’s entourage was flustered too. A lot was at stake. It was important to them that Gandhi be effective in conveying his message to this large and influential audience. Gandhi himself, however, didn’t have any preparations to make. He had nothing to do with the arrangements; all he was expected to do was move the hearts of several million. Finally a harassed-looking executive came over and said urgently, “Mr. Gandhi, the radio is ready for you. They are waiting in America!” Gandhi sat down in front of the microphone and said, “You want me to speak into this?” Millions of people heard him, because he was already on the air. Everyone laughed as the speakers broadcast his words back into the room. The tension was broken, and Gandhi began to speak – with complete concentration, in no hurry, with total mastery of himself and the situation. An unhurried mind is calm, alert, and ready for anything. My first visit to Gandhi had been prompted by one simple question: how had he done this? How had he managed to remake himself from a timid young law student with no purpose in life to a man so sure of himself that he could lead a nation without

pressure, hurry or fatigue? I found the answer that first evening. Gandhi had learnt to live completely in the moment: whatever he did, he was one hundred percent present. I was still young then; it would be years before I was ready to learn how to apply the insights I gained that night. But gradually I understood that living completely in the present is the secret of an unhurried mind. When the mind is not rushing about in a hurry, it is calm, alert, and ready for anything. And a calm mind sees deeply, which opens the door to tremendous discoveries: rich relationships, excellence in work, a quiet sense of joy. It was a revelation. I can’t say I worked all this out at once. It took the shock of Gandhi’s assassination and my grandmother’s passing to realize that life was racing and I had no time to lose. But once I set my heart on learning this skill, I went about it with a passion. Without dropping anything from my academic career, I turned to meditation and worked out a systematic approach aimed at combining the active, creative, meaningful life I wanted with the mastery of mind I saw in Gandhi and my granny. After a while, others around me became interested in what I was doing and asked to learn. Being a teacher, I made a method of it – an eight-point set of skills based on the practice of meditation. I was putting the final touches on this eightpoint program when I accepted a fellowship from the Fulbright exchange program to come to the United States. That turned out to be the beginning of a new career – not education for degrees, but education for living. Without realising the implications, I was bringing my programme to the pacesetters of the modern world.

Join us every Saturday India Immersion Centre facilitates a weekly spiritual fellowship group following Easwaran’s Eight Point Programme of Meditation in Chennai. E-mail us for more information at easwaranindia@ or call Reema Duseja at 9884127304.

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

culturama | June 2011


Portrait of India Uchistha Ganapathi: A Tantric Deity – The six-handed Ganesha is in Green colour. The right hands holds a lotus, veena, and a pomegranate while the left hands hold beads, noose and a sprig of paddy.

Courtesy: ‘Art Heritage of India: A Collector’s Special’, published by ‘L&T - ECC & ECC Recreation Club’. 58

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i read

Book The Hungry Tide Author Amitav Ghosh Price ` 399

THE Sunderbans, subtly sinuous, unconventionally idyllic, surprisingly ruthless and incessantly omnipresent, is the true protagonist of Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide. Ghosh offers us a glimpse of the very fabric of existence, within Asia's largest mangrove as it seamlessly encompasses the lives of the myriad characters that come its way. A cetologist in search of marine mammals in the Sunderbans, Piyali Roy, is an American of Indian birth. A translator by profession, Kanai Dutt from Delhi, is visiting his Mashima (aunt) who holds a mysterious package addressed to Kanai from his uncle, who has Recently passed away. Mashima, the force behind several successful social endeavours, moved with her husband, Nirmal, to the Sunderbans several decades earlier in quest of starting life afresh. Nirmal, an idealist and dormant revolutionary, finds his calling in a local uprising. Fokir, an illiterate fisherman, holds an almost sanctimonious relationship with the water, and becomes THE Piyalis' reliable guide as they manoeuvre the slaloming river. As their lives unfold against the backdrop of the mystical Sunderbans, Ghosh gives us such a variety of perspectives, ideologies, historical facts, mythical stories, thoughts and emotions, that we are unwittingly pulled into the force of his narrative, which reflects the evocative character of his setting. As the relationships between his characters ebb and flow, experiences shared, and the truth on so many levels eventually revealed, we realise the potency of not just the silent Sunderbans but of the author as well. Gripping from the word go, this is a must-read.

i see

Film Gabhricha Paus The Damned Rain Director Satish Manwar Language Marathi

GABRICHA PAUS contextualises farmer suicides in Maharashtra even as the film remains true to the black comedy genre. The vagaries of Nature are portrayed to be only one among many aspects leading to failed crops and deaths of farmers. The film opens with yet another farmer’s suicide following mounting debts. While the farmer’s wife regrets that she had not paid heed to her husband’s moodiness, Alka (Sonali Kulkarni) suspects that her husband, Kisna (Girish Kulkarni), is contemplating suicide too. She enlists her son, Dinu (Aman Attar), and her mother-in-law (Jyoti Subash) to keep an eye on Kisna. There is a pall of fatalism that hangs over Kisna even as he dismisses the morbid insights of Patil, a fellow farmer. Kisna is confident that although it hasn’t rained in two years, with the benevolence of the rain gods and a little financial help, he can sow a crop and the harvest will wipe out his debts. One day the widow laments that she hadn’t made her husband’s favourite sweet often enough when he was alive. Alka takes to making sweets and this expense in already difficult times, combined with Dinu’s constant scrutiny, irritates Kisna. Kisna pawns his wife’s jewellery to buy seeds, and sows them, only to find that the monsoon is delayed. Under the vulturish gaze of Patil, he contemplates death. Alka persuades him to start over. This time, when the rain arrives, it submerges the seeds. Only a small crop survives and this too is seized to offset Kisna’s debts. When Kisna takes a bank loan to install a motor to pump water to his field, he thinks he has finally risen above his circumstance, only to encounter new challenges. In an ironic twist, Alka’s fears come true in a rather unexpected way. — By Saritha Rao

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culturama | june 2011


i ask

the Holy Cows! THE answers we give below come from one simple belief woven into the daily life in India — protecting bio diversity. Why are cows revered in India? Indian mythology and ancient Hindu culture have always pointed towards a harmonious co-existence of humans and animals. Cows, according to Hindu belief are considered sacred, and are often referred to as Goddesses. Even now, in most parts of rural India, a cow is a member of a family. All the five items that come from a cow (called panchagavya) – milk, curd, ghee, urine and dung – are used as part of Hindu rituals. Cow dung is also a bio-friendly source of energy in rural India. The cakes are dried and then used as cooking fuel. Cows are also protected with special homes called Goshalas in India, where those willing to offer prayers and green fodder to the animals are welcomed through the day. Why is the elephant an important symbol in India? The elephant-headed God, Ganesha, is an important deity. It is believed that worshipping Ganesha before beginning anything new will ensure that the job is completed smoothly and successfully. The elephant head denotes wisdom and the trunk represents the symbol Om, which is considered a cosmic symbol in Hinduism. One of the most loved gods of India, the

festival that celebrates Ganesha,is called Ganesha Chaturti. On this day, idols of Ganesha made of clay are worshipped and later immersed into the ocean following a parade of the idols. This is a colourful festival and one of the most prominent festivals of India. Why do portraits of Hindu gods have animals next to them? Every animal has a trait associated with it. The lion – bravery, the rat – notorious and nimble, the peacock for its beauty and dance, swan – purity and snakes – considered destroyers of evil. And every Hindu god has an animal that represents them, for instance, Karthikeya or Muruga (in South India) has the peacock as his symbol, while Ganesha his brother has the rat as his. These animals are also called vahanas (or vehicles) of the gods and so the animals themselves are revered in India. In Rajasthan, a temple dedicated exclusively to rats is an important tourist destination. Why do many Indian temples have ant hills? Hindus worship snakes and they are inextricably woven into several mythological stories of gods such as Shiva, Krishna and most importantly goddess Durga. In fact, many temples dedicated to the goddess play host to anthills, and these are left undisturbed as devotees continue to believe that snakes live in them.

culturama | June 2011



i like

My Top 10 Living green in India

Peter Van Geit The top green thing on my list is the periodic environmental awareness campaigns that I organise as founder of the Chennai Trekking Club ( Once every few months, we organise large clean-up campaigns with hundreds of volunteers at polluted beaches and forests, involving the media to spread awareness among the public to stop polluting the environment. Secondly, as part of the same trekking organisation, we take thousands of people every year on treks to beautiful unspoilt natural locations. This exposure to virgin Nature creates a strong sense of environmental awareness, which helps people care for and become more active in preservation. We also have a strict no-pollution policy on our treks. International surveys have proved that people who get in touch with Nature are more active in supporting preservation efforts. People without exposure to Nature care less. Thirdly, I strongly refuse to take plastic bags while shopping in supermarkets. Instead, I carry my own re-usable cotton shopping bag to take things home. Buying a polythene bag for one-time use and immediately disposing of it in the dust bin is totally meaningless and disrespectful to Nature. I use bio-degradable garbage bags instead of regular plastic bags. The latter adds to humankind's ever-growing garbage pile. We (at the trekker’s club) have created a huge impact on thousands of people by promoting re-usable PET bottles to drink water from on our treks rather then the use-and-throw plastic bottles. Thirty trekkers x 2 days x 3 bottles per day x 100 treks/year = we reduce garbage by 18,000 polythene bottles each year. Similarly, we encourage people to carry a re-usable bowl to eat food and drink soup and tea rather than generating lots of garbage through usage of use-and-throw plates and plastic cups. While designing my own house I planned several 'drainage pits' to collect rainwater, shower water and other non-polluted water sources at home to refill the ground water level. Otherwise, most of the water dissipates into the atmosphere.


culturama | june 2011

I have planted numerous trees and plants in the garden around the house. More green = more shade = less heat = less pollution = more fresh air. I put a bucket beneath my leaking tap. Each night, I collect a full bucket which is used to water the plants in the garden. I called my plumber months ago to fix the leak but he hasn’t shown up yet. Works well for my garden! Polluted waste water (toilets, dishes, washing machine) is collected in a closed sump in my home instead of being released directly to the ground water and causing contamination. The sump is emptied every six months by a sewage water lorry and transported to a treatment plant before releasing it to the environment. Finally, I exclusively use CFL bulbs in my home to preserve energy and reduce my electricity bill. CFL bulbs consume less power but give the same amount of light output as the traditional bulbs of a much higher wattage.


i hear

Ever Green Melodies Revisit some of India’s most famous music that pays rich tribute to love and Nature…

Indian film music of yore was usually accompanied on screen by a 'lover' and his beloved running around trees; some films in the 1960s even carried taglines, such as “Yeh haryali aur yeh rasta” (These green pastures and ways – will witness the bonding of our love). There is no dearth of slogans such as this in Indian films, and oftentimes film music is replete with references to Mother Nature. One example is readily found in the classic song titled, ‘Yeh chaand hoga tare rahenge, magar ham hameshan tumhaare rahenge,’ meaning these stars and moon will remain and I will remain yours forever. Another famous song by playback sinnger Geeta Dutt, 'Aaj ki kaali ghatta mast matwali ghatta mujh se kehti hai ke pyasa hai koi, kaun pyaasa hai mujhe kya maloom,' suggests that clouds serenade the lover with promises of fulfillment. Where would the dark clouds beckon the lovers to if environmental equilibrium were to be endangered? Old time Bolluwood actor Dilip Kumar, in playback singer Mukesh’s voice brings forth the vision of a dream – 'Suhana safar aur yeh mausam hasin, hamen dar hai hum khon jayen kabhi,' (The journey is beautiful on this magnificent trip let me not forget myself completely). There is also the memorable song, 'Yeh ratein yeh mausam nadi ka kinara, yeh chanchal hawa.' (These nights, these climes, these river banks and this gentle breeze). The film Pakeezah, one of Bollywood’s best creations, features two haunting melodies: “Mausam hai aashikana,” and “Chalo dildar chalo chaan ke paar chalo,” (The weather is romantic, and come my beloved lets go beyond the moon). There are also Hindustani classical pieces that extol the virtues of nature. In the raga Chayanat, Munna Shaokath Ali rendered a traditional bandish of his guru Ustad Mohd Baki: “Chayanat guniyan gaoo to manwa chun chun kaliyan laye hai malinwa. Rut sawan ki jab jab aaye yaad piya ki harpal lahraye,” – Let us render raga Chayanat while the gardener woman plucks flowers, and each time it’s the rainy season, I am reminded of my beloved. And in Kirwani: “Piya ke sang


culturama | june 2011

man mora dole re, piyu piyu papiha bole re.” My heart beats with my lover as love birds sing. The alliterative words are poetic and awaken pastoral splendours. Perhaps the point these songs make is that when man is in harmony with nature, all is well with the world. He brings upon much of the havoc, when he is obsessed with his own self, destroying the rhythm of nature, disrupting harmony. — By Jyoth Nair

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culturama | june 2011

Space & The City

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RNI NO.TNENG/2010/32752

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

Influence Spa

Culturama June 2011  

Culturama June 2011