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VOLUME 1, iSSUE 9 november 2010


Previously known as At A Glance – Understanding India

No strings attached! Celebrating the uninhibited spirit of children

D e a r

R e a d e r s

When you move amidst the world of sense From both attachment and aversion freed There comes a peace in which all sorrow ends THIS particular verse from the Bhagwad Gita, somehow, quite surprisingly, reminds me of children. They play with all alike, smile, gurgle, interact and are naturally of the nature of happiness and peace. What a wonderful thing child-likeness is! Thanks to independent India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, we celebrate his birth anniversary every November 14 by paying tribute to his natural affection for children. If it meant yet another national holiday for me as a child, wearing the quintessential Nehru cap and a rose tucked into my buttonhole, it today holds a much deeper meaning for me. It takes me back to the rich and inexhaustible wisdom of India, and my guide through its many layers, the Gita. Which tells us, as adults, what we tend to do that takes us down the slippery slope. When you keep thinking about sense objects (feverishly obsessed with material things), attachment follows. Attachment then breeds desire. The lust of possession, when thwarted, burns to anger. And greed happens when it whispers in our ear to let go of values. Anger clouds judgement and robs you of the power to learn from past mistakes. Lost is the discrimination faculty and your life dwindles to nothingness. It wasn’t without meaning that we were often told that children are our best teachers. Who better to learn the profound pleasure of peace than from a child deep in slumber? It is this spirit of childhood that we celebrate this issue – be it our exclusive Coffee and Conversation with nationally renowned actor Suriya, with children asking him questions on his wonderful endeavour for education, Agaram Foundation; our India Calling column by the young designer of the Rupee symbol, Udaya Kumar; our Feature story on the childhood ceremonies of India; an exclusive series of articles specially for our young audience, including a replica of a board game in the magazine, and a whole host of other exciting experiences and anecdotes. Through every page of Culturama this month, lets live in the wisdom of the self, lets celebrate the child in us. Ranjini Manian Editor Culturama has launched its newlyimproved e-version! It is fun, easy to navigate, feedback-friendly, and much more. Read it online and send us feedback to Your comments give you the opportunity to participate in a lucky draw for a stay at an Indian Heritage Hotel!

“I love the look of your new website and I must tell you that I thoroughly enjoy Culturama every month!” – Calvin Chin, Pricoa, Singapore


culturama | november 2010

contents 28

12 Coffee & Conversation

Leading the Change


Currency Affairs The festive spirit is best captured in the twinkling eyes and bright smiles of children. With the twin celebrations of Diwali, the festival of lights based on the Ramayana, and Children’s Day this month. Culturama’s vibrant pages invite you to bring out the child in you and celebrate life in all its beauty and goodness.

20 Culture

Cover Photo: Mariana Benavides, Mexico, wearing India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru's signature cap and Valentin Clerc, France. Both holding Ramayana puppets.

32 INdia inventions

Photograph: JayaKrishna Behera

32 INterpretations

Editor-in-Chief Managing Editor Associate Editor Contributions Chief Designer Associate Designers E-version Advertising Chennai Bengaluru Delhi-NCR Mumbai & Pune Advisory Committee

Ranjini Manian Praveena Shivram Poonam M Ganglani Kavitha Ramaswamy JayaKrishna Behera M Hari Haran, P Lakshmikanthan Jeyabal Rajasegaran Anupama Raj, Yuvarani Peter Shubha Seetharaman, Divya Vasan, Radhika Hemant Preeti Bindra, Ruchika Srivastava Farah Bakhshay, Ashish Chaulkar Timeri N Murari, N Ram, Elaine Wood, James J Williams, G Venket Ram, Claire Clinton-Butler

Grand Opening 22 24 by city

Udaipur Snapshots 24 Feature

All God's Children 36 Calendars

28 INdia on a platter

Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi & Chennai

Fried and Tested Guided Tours

42 Photo feature

Click Start

In House Dreams


34 Look Who’s in town

50 Tales of India

Match Point

Chennai, Bengaluru & Delhi


Amar Chitra Katha 52 view from the top

Cause & Effect 53 Postcard

Guess Who?

54 India & I

Old & Steamy 56 India & I

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

Get, Set, Go!

58 India Immersion Centre

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

Meeting the Mahatma & Play Back

Delhi-NCR Level 4, Augusta Point, DLF Golf Course Road, Sector-53, Gurgaon - 122 002. Haryana. Tel.+91-124-435 4236. E-mail:

62 Holistic living

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

64 iSeries

Published and owned by Ranjini Manian at #5, 3rd Main Road, Raja Annamalai Puram, Chennai – 600028 and printed by K Srinivasan of Srikals Graphics Pvt Ltd at #5, Balaji Nagar, 1st Street, Ekkattuthangal, Chennai – 600097. Editor: Ranjini Manian

To You, With Love iRead, iSee, iAsk

68 your festivE Calendar


70 india Quiz 76 space & the city culturama | november 2010


N e w s w o r t h y

Doodle 4 Google

Letters to the Editor Dear Editor, “Excellent magazine, Culturama! Thanks for sending it every month. I absolutely loved your note to readers about Gandhi in the October issue. Lovely thoughts!”

FOLLOWING the tremendous response to its first ‘Doodle 4 Google’ competition, Google is inviting youngsters yet again to doodle, based on the theme ‘My dream for India’. The contest, which is open to children between the ages of 5 and 16 across India, aims to unleash the creativity of young kids and inspire them. The national winner who will be chosen by Dennis Hwang, the original Google doodler, will not only win a technology starter pack and a technology grant of Rs. 2,00,000 but will also have his/her doodle displayed on the Google homepage as their official logo on Children’s Day, November 14th, 2010.

– Jigyasa Giri, Head, Devaniya Kathak Dance School, Chennai Dear Editor, “Culturama is not just for expats, but for anyone looking for things to do or gain a general understanding of the country. My kids love it too, especially the ‘Tales of India’ section. It’s not easy what you guys are doing, getting everybody’s attention!” – Gurpreet Brar, USA Dear Editor, “I thoroughly enjoyed the October issue on Gandhi, especially the seven blunders you speak of in your note to readers.” — Lalitha Krishnamoorthy, Chennai Dear Editor, “I think that Culturama is a very good magazine. Clearly you have an excellent team of writers and designers! Continue the good work.” — Markus Reichert, Germany

Send your reader feedback to culturama@


culturama | november 2010

Save the Children ‘SAVE the Children’, the world’s leading independent NGO for children, has been working for over 90 years now, to amend the way the world treats them. Their most recent endeavour towards the same is the conception of an Emergency fund in Australia. The fund, which has been created after surveying 1,000 people on the best way to help children affected by a disaster, will ensure that the organisation always has the vital resources in place before disaster strikes in order to save the lives of children immediately. Donations can be made regularly or as a one-off lump sum.

leading change the

WHEN you meet a celebrity (and in India it usually means a movie star) for an interview, you go with certain preconceived notions. Usually, they will talk more than listen, there will be a host of clichÊs thrown in, they will be constantly interrupted by phone calls and people, and there will be the pressure of the clock ceaselessly ticking away. With nationally renowned actor Suriya it was refreshingly surprising to have them all neatly shattered. As the visibly sleep-deprived star settles into his stark and simple office space, you suddenly realise the magnitude of effort it must take to juggle ruthless film schedules with the cause he has dedicated his time and energy to – the Agaram Foundation. Faced with questions from school children of various ages, Suriya patiently answers them all, a testament to his passion for change, wonderfully reflected in the lives of the several children it has already touched in its four-year journey.

Snapshots of a reality without education for children, from the Agaram Foundation's promotional film, 'Herova Zerova'.

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Suriya's passion for change through his Agaram Foundation is reflected in the lives of the children it has already touched in its four-year journey


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“I love reading, so I would like to ask if you encourage children at Agaram to read books, besides their school books, as I believe this would help them gain knowledge in various subjects and improve their language skills.” Nidhi Sajit Menon 9 years Sishya

“Recently, in a speech, I said, “My goal is to see India without any discrimination, without any disparity and only equality in all spheres”. Do you think it’s possible?” Sarvajith Sudarsan 11 years, Bala Vidya Mandir

“Was there any particular incident that inspired you to do this or was it just spontaneous?” Shruti Iyer 12 years, Chinmaya Vidyalaya

Suriya: Well, these kids are mostly from really remote villages. Their first difficulty is English – they can’t speak or read English much. We encourage them to start by reading newspapers, so they are exposed to the outside world, and we encourage them to write letters to their mentors. Our mentors are primarily volunteers from the public. They are first generation professionals themselves who have come up in life and have chosen to mentor the children supported by the Agaram Foundation. So we encourage them with workshops, make them interact with other kids and help them come out of their shells. And yes, through this process we teach them English skills and cultivate the habit of reading newspapers first and then introduce other books.

Suriya: Yes, and that’s why I believe in education. I think education is the only ladder, the only hope for most of the underprivileged children. With education, they can sit across a table with any CEO, and talk with confidence. I know someone who literally studied under street lights, entered the prestigious Anna University and went ahead to join work in Mumbai. In fact, at the interview, out of 40 people, he was the only one wearing slippers. When he was asked by the CEO, he said he couldn’t afford shoes. The CEO then discovered that he was ‘staying’ at the railway station cloak room! This person went on to excel at the organisation and now has his own concern, with 25 offices around the world. Without any background whatsoever, from studying under the streetlights … that’s what education can do. Every citizen, if they just adopt another person’s education, another person’s future, a stranger, then I am sure that change will happen.

Suriya: My dad has been spreading the cause of education for the last 30 years, actually. I remember seeing many 12th standard children coming home and sharing their experiences, their struggles, etc. And every time, in every function where my dad awarded a cash prize, we have seen and heard so many stories. There was this boy called Rajnikanth from the gypsy community, which thrives by moving from place to place. Having been abandoned by his parents, he grew up with his mother’s sister, who decided to go against their community’s custom and stayed in one place for this boy’s education. And he was truly talented – be it academics, sports, cultural activities – you name it and he was first. So when my dad gave him a cash prize, he said, “I have got some money from other people as well… so would it be all right if I gave this money to my classmates? There are two girls who don’t have proper clothes. I would like to give this to them.” That really moved me. With such an unpredictable life, he was able to give up his money so easily to help another, so why couldn’t I do it? That’s when I really took over dad’s initiative, called the Sivakumar Educational Trust. To be honest, the Trust didn’t pay too much attention to how a student was chosen for the grant. It was simply anyone who topped their 12th standard exam, no matter what background they come from. So along with my friend, Nyanavel, I began Agaram, and decided to support those coming from rural areas who dealt with more challenges than a citybased student. And that’s how it began.

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“Who are the children who come to study here and are they happy to come and learn?” Ankit Rangan 11 years, South Perth Primary School

“I would like to offer a proposal that children from various schools have the opportunity to interact with children supported by Agaram to encourage and kindle the fire of enthusiasm. Is it possible?” Sakshi Krish 14 years old, Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan

Suriya: I think it will be the other way round, with city students getting more motivated! But yes, that sort of activity will definitely happen in the future.

Suriya: We select our students based on a rigorous point system we have devised. Every child needs to earn 300 points for which several aspects are taken into account. For instance, if he is a first generation child, then he gets 25 points. If they don’t have electricity at home, that’s another 15 points. If they don’t have proper schools near their house and walk 10–15 km to get to school and they still cope with education and get good marks, they are pulled in, and so on. I know girls who work in wine shops till 11 or 12 in the night by collecting bottles. Early morning they pump water, deliver them in shops and then go to school. So it’s like that, such children get priority as I think they are even more deserving. We don’t simply go by what we hear or who someone recommends. Our volunteers actually go to their homes over weekends, after work, and document information through videos and pictures. And yes, they are happy to learn. We have over 4,000 applicants each year, though we have only a little over a crore (10 million rupees) to spend each year, so there are limitations. This year we have taken 165 plus students for college education. If we had not taken them, they would have been in a match factory or a roadside stall. Many children don’t come to us as they are not aware of such a foundation. We go in search of them. Some of them don’t even know a city like Chennai exists. They don’t have newspapers in their villages, so they are simply not aware.

“You lend with your popularity and star power but there must be something everyone can do. What can I, as a privileged young adult, and many like me, do to help? Jay Puducheri 16 years, Lady Andal School

Suriya: You just have to be sensitive. It can be your servant’s or driver’s daughter or son. Give them a book to read, interact with them, see what he/she needs. Just that caring is more than enough. I remember this lady who delivered flowers at our house, and one day her son came instead. I was surprised to see him and asked him why he wasn’t at school. He said he was unable to pay his term fees and despite time given by the school, he couldn’t raise that money, so he decided to discontinue. The term fees was Rs. 700. It’s probably how much we spend at the movies or for dinner. And that was taking his future away from him. So it’s just about caring, and being bothered about what’s happening around you. In most cases, it will be something where you can easily make a difference.

“How has the organisation grown in the last four years since it has been in operation?” Ajay Raghunathan 17 years, American International School

For more information on the Agaram Founaation, log on to 8

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Suriya: We began by adopting a government school, which had only 25 teachers and out of which only 12 were present. So we hired 50 teachers and organised special classes for those who needed extra coaching. The special coaching centres then spread and now we have around four to five centres in the state, with permanent teachers helping children from the nearby village. Then came Vazhigattigal, where we worked with first generation school kids, with volunteers guiding them. We had to make sure they wouldn’t drop out midway. The last stage was picking out college students. Education is not complete till you see it through, till its purpose is served. It’s a movement we are looking at and we are hoping it will become big. Parents need to realise how important education is and believe in it. They need to see that it will change their entire generation. Education is ultimately about making life better and giving hope.

India Calling

Udaya Kumar D

Cu``ency Affairs The creative mind behind the new Indian rupee symbol explains how the design blends Indian individuality with universality NO ONE can deny that India bears a unique cultural imprint on the global stage. When the Government of India announced a competition to design a new symbol for the Indian rupee in March 2009, the time had come to give India its distinct economic identity as well – one that would concretise the world’s perception of India as a rising superpower racing ahead, yet reiterate the rich cultural ethos in which it is firmly grounded. Accordingly, the design philosophy for the Indian rupee consciously fuses Indian and global elements. The fundamental stroke derives from the Devanagari letter ‘Ra’, an unmistakable icon of Indian culture. This ancient script has the unique feature of being suspended from the shiro rekha, a horizontal top line that could be interpreted as the stable roof of Indian civilisation. Elements of the Latin letter ‘R’ are equally woven into the design, giving the symbol a universality that traverses world boundaries. With the simplicity of design and the familiarity of visual form, the symbol is one that is easy to recall, recognise and reproduce, both for local and international communities. But a closer look at the Indian rupee symbol reveals that its geometrical lines bear a deeper connection to the heart of India. What strikes the eye at first glance are the two horizontal lines with white space between them, creating a foreground and background effect of the Indian tricolour, gloriously unfurled at the outset of every progressive endeavour. The lines also form an equality sign, denoting an economy that is working to bridge the gap between classes. The inclination of the two horizontal strokes towards the right further indicates the forward movement of the Indian economy, striding ahead as a world player, in harmony with other nations. Presented to the people in July 2010, the Rupee symbol has already set hold in everyday local life and in international view. One thing is quite certain – the symbol has taken on many more dimensions beyond its primary economic function and proudly speaks of a nation ready for the world. The writer is the designer of the Indian rupee symbol and is currently an assistant professor at IIT Guwahati. culturama | november 2010


C u lt ure

P u shp a C h a ri

Grand opening Photo past beautiful india expatriate photo competition

Photo Gloria garcia, spain

DEEP in the stark, stillness of the Thar Desert rise, mirage like, the most magnificent forts, palaces and havelis, mute witnesses to the valour and romance of Rajasthan’s colour-drenched history. Combining both Hindu and Islamic architectural features, they are fascinating late medieval structures built in red or gold sandstone, imposing and huge, yet their jharokha-decorated façade gives them a floating, ethereal look. Jharokha is a work of art in itself and a typical feature of Mughal and Rajput


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buildings. Its original inspiration might have been the Arabic ‘Masharabya’, which is a lattice-covered oriel window. The jharokha projects from the façade wall of the palace or haveli and is typically 6 ft × 3 ft in size, though it could be smaller. It is enclosed with stone jaali or lattice work which, in its fineness and lace-like delicacy, often rivals silver filigree work. Its stone frame and delicate columns are engraved and sculpted with a pattern of flowers, leaves and birds such as peacocks and parrots. While the number of

jharokhas differed in different structures, the facades of some palaces and havelis were literally covered with jharokhas in varying sizes, a pattern which made them architectural marvels. Imagine the stories which jharokhas could tell. Since they allowed women in purdah to look at the goings-on outside, they were literally their window to the world through which information, innuendo and bazaar rumour floated in, news of wars and matters of state, of public mood and private assignation. Thus, armed and enabled, the royal ladies and their entourage could influence the decision of their men in matters political and private or reshape their own destinies. Rajasthani legend and lore are replete with tales of romance and trysts played out through the jharokhas, tales of intrigue and espionage and the guns trained through the screens during battles and sieges. Today, the descendants of the artisans who built Rajasthan’s legendary palaces and havelis continue to live in scattered communities around Jodhpur, Jaipur, Udaipur, Bikaner and Jaisalmer. They continue to make jaali-work stone artefacts and jharokhas which are much in demand as accents in interiors. Wood-framed jharokhas, some of them elaborately carved with bird and animal motifs, are also being crafted by woodcraft artisans. Driving through the narrow, winding lanes of Jaisalmer can truly be a memorable experience as entire lanes are flanked by havelis decorated with jharokhas. ‘Patwon ki Haveli’ and ‘Salim Singh ki haveli’ are two stunning havelis built by the two merchants in 1815. While the former has 60 exquisite jharokhas in its eight-storey-high facade, the 38 jharokhas decorating the latter are conceived with such ineffable delicacy of craftwork that one is hesitant to enter the haveli, lest one’s footfalls damage the stonelace work.

24 By City

S a rith a R a o

Things to see and do in one day



It was built by Maharana Jagat Singh in 1743. It is now a luxury hotel. Enjoy a meal at the restaurant and relive the grandeur of a bygone era. SAHELIYON KI BARI With its lush greenery, fountains, pavilions and walkways, Saheliyon Ki Bari (literally, 'Handmaidens' Garden') is a medium-sized park that brings alive visions of handmaidens at leisure. Don't miss the statue of the standing Indian woman in one of the fountains. DINING The best meal you can have in Udaipur would be at any of the restaurants that are part of luxury properties that were once palaces. Among Rajasthani delicacies, do try the Daal-baati-churma. There are also any number of cafes and eateries serving world cuisine.

There is history in the bylanes and tales of valour in the palaces, as reflection takes on a whole new meaning in the Lake City of Udaipur BAGORE KI HAVELI This haveli or traditional residence, located at Gangaur Ghat, on the banks of the Lake Pichhola, runs a museum under the aegis of the West Zone Cultural Centre. On display are everyday items used by the aristocracy. The Haveli Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. CITY PALACE COMPLEX If there is one place that will dominate your visit to Udaipur, it will be the City Palace Complex, originally built by Maharana Udai Singh in 1553. The museum (9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) houses a fine collection of miniature paintings,

royal clothing, accessories and armour. Do visit the Mor Chowk with its intricate mosaic work featuring peacocks and the Fateh Prakash Palace with a magnificent Darbar Hall and a Crystal Gallery (9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.). The complex also has a Vintage and Classic Car Collection (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.), showcasing 20 cars owned by the Maharanas of Mewar including a 1924 Rolls-Royce 20 hp. For details, http:// Regal_Visit/City_palace_Museum.aspx LAKE PALACE Seemingly floating on the Pichhola Lake, the Lake Palace is called Jag Nivas.

SHOPPING Buy mojris (footwear) – these are tough leather shoes, beautifully embellished with embroidery and zari work. Also pick up embroidered fabric, miniature paintings and antique jewellery. Shilpgram is a crafts fair just 3 km from Udaipur. It showcases traditional architecture from different regions of India. Crafts from these regions are also on display – 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. all days. ENTERTAINMENT Catch the Son et lumiere show at the City Palace. It is called ‘The Legacy of Honour’ and the English version runs from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. between October and March. ‘Bagore Ki Haveli’ hosts a cultural programme called Dharohar every evening between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. Check out the Mewar Festival that is uniquely Udaipur. It is a spring festival and is held around March every year. Note: Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC), Fateh Memorial, Suraj Pol. Tel: 0294-2411535, 2521971/1364

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D r . C hithr a M a d h a v a n

All God’s Children

Starting literacy or Akshara Abhyasa 12

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A look at some of India’s childhood rituals and ceremonies, each reaffirming the aura of good faith, well-being and gratification

Photo bindiya chugani, india

Photo anneke slenters, denmark

The ear-piercing ceremony is said to activate the nerve cells for good health.

The first shaving of the hair is believed to confer longevity

IN EVERY society, no matter which part of the world you are in, there is something of the magic and the divine associated with children. They are probably the closest we come to for the pure, unsullied essence of a connection between the universe and humanity. It is something to be revered, as ancient cultures dictated, and something to be treasured, as we have come to realise. So then, it is hardly surprising that in India, every step from birth to death is marked by traditional ceremony or rituals. Among the Hindus, there are various ceremonies called samskaras, as prescribed in the ancient religious texts, with many of those specifically catering to children. Broadly, there are 40 rites prescribed in a Hindu’s lifetime, which are divided in the following manner: three of them are prenatal rites (performed by the parents for the baby), four are postnatal but pre-initiation rites (before the initiation into student life), six are pre-marriage rites, and 27 are rites as a householder including the final death

The Jatakarma ceremony relates to the birth of a child. The word jata means birth and karma indicates rites. The father places a little ghee and honey on the tongue of the baby and utters the name of God in his/her ear. This is usually a simple function confined to the members of the household.

of the month or the name of the family deity. In India, it is common to find parents naming baby boys after the epithets of protective Hindu gods like Vishnu and Shiva (two deities of the Hindu Trinity). Names of saints and heroes from Hindu lore are also selected by many parents. Baby girls are often named after Lakshmi (the Goddess of prosperity), the consort of Vishnu, Parvati (the consort of Shiva) and Saraswati (the consort of Brahma). The name of the child is then publicly announced for everyone to know.

Name Sake

Baby’s Day Out

ceremony which is usually performed by the oldest son. Of these 40 rituals, only a quarter are still widely followed today.

Just Born

The next ritual is that of Namakarana (nama = name and karana = to keep), the name-giving ceremony of the child. Some of the early ancient religious texts prescribe the tenth or twelfth day after birth for this ritual, but later texts mention that it can be preformed as late as the first day of the second year of the baby. A child is to be named according to the constellation (star) under which he/she is born, or according to the presiding deity

The next interesting ritual is Nishkramana, (literally meaning ‘to come out’) when the baby is brought out of the house for the first time and ceremonies are performed to protect him/her against possible dangers then and in the future. An area, such as the traditional courtyard in the house, or a place immediately outside with plenty of sunshine is selected. It is plastered with cow-dung which is considered an

culturama | november 2010


Photo archana ravi, india

antiseptic and the auspicious swastika sign is drawn on it. The child is brought out from inside the house and the father lifts him/her in the direction of the sun.

social celebration where guests are invited to partake in a tea and bless the baby.

First Food

Starting literacy or Akshara Abhyasa, is done around the time the child turns three The father holds the child’s right hand and, to the chanting of priests who ask God’s blessings, he helps the child trace the alphabet on a plate of rice with a golden ring. The child is thus initiated into the world of letters. The first letter traced is usually ‘Om’ which is the symbol for God and true knowledge in India. Prayers are offered to Lord Ganesh, who removes obstacles, to Saraswati, the Goddess of learning, and to the Kula Devata, the family deity who protects the entire family tree.

Next comes the Annaprasana (anna = food and prasana = eat) ceremony, which is when the baby begins to eat solid food for the first time. Honey and butter are given in addition to the food prescribed. Prayers for the good health of the baby are recited and an important oblation is to speech (Vak) and another to vigour (Ojas).

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow Chudakarana (chuda = head and karana = to do) or tonsure is the next ritual to which a child is exposed. The first shaving of the hair is believed to confer longevity and therefore this ceremony is considered extremely important. The Chudakarana ceremony usually takes place at the end of the first year of birth. In modern India, it is common to find men, women and children getting a tonsure done in certain temples, but the chudakarana is unconnected to this practice and is one of the mandatory samskaras for a child.

An Ear Full

The ear-piercing ceremony prescribed in the ancient law-books is known as Karnavedhana (karna = ear and vedhana = piercing). It is performed for both boys and girls, usually on the first birthday. The purpose of piercing the ear from an ayurvedic viewpoint is good health. It is said that the sun’s rays passing through the hole prevent hernia and other stomach ailments. Piercing the ear is also said to activate the nerve cell. Acupuncture proves this is good for health. In India, this ceremony takes on the form of a

Letter Ahead

Threaded for Life

The Upanayana or sacred-thread ceremony, celebrated with much fanfare today, is one of the most important rituals for a child. It is performed for a young boy of seven or older, marking his introduction to Brahmacharya Ashram – a period of life where he is a student learning to live in a disciplined manner and is educated to understand that he has a duty to himself and to society. This is when the boy is invested with the ‘sacred thread’ or yajnopavitam (going from the left shoulder to beneath the right arm). In earlier times, the education was given in the traditional gurukula method, where the boy stayed with his guru or teacher, studied the scriptures and served in an ashram or austere surroundings, secluded from society and family. In the modern ceremony, the boy’s father teaches the Gayatri mantra, the sacred prayer chanted for strength, good health, sharp memory, grasping power and long life, under a silken cloth tent guided by the head priest.

The writer is a historian and archeologist, and regularly conducts temple walks in the country.


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India on a Platter

Poonam M ganglani

food Forethought Marked by a composite of food cultures, Tamil Nadu’s many localities share the common perception of meals as an indicator of social values, with surrounding traditions and structures

A VISITOR to the southern state of Tamil Nadu is likely to get some muddled replies if he asks to sample some traditional ‘Tamil’ cuisine. In a region where every geographical stretch of space bears fine culinary variations, the request would almost seem a swooping, simplistic assumption. Would one prefer to sample some vegetarian treats from Thanjavur, some peppery meats from Chettinad or some mild flavours from Madurai? The choices are many, the methods of preparation unique and the ingredients assorted. But an underlying thread that binds the region’s palate is the treatment of food as a medium of society’s values. This is most evident during a virundhu sappadu, an elaborate feast reserved for moments of merriment and a fascinating combination of logical thought and social belief. While the finer details of the meal vary between communities, the practices around it are largely universal. The traditional custom begins by seating guests beside each other on a coir mat, reflecting a closeness to Mother Earth and a harmonious coexistence with the rest of Nature’s beings. A sparkling fresh banana leaf is spread before the mat with its tip pointed left, a practice believed to bring good fortune to the gathering. The leaf and the area surrounding it are sprinkled with water and impeccably cleaned, as a mark of respect to both the food and the guest. With the preliminaries in order, a drop of sweet payasam is offered to clear the digestive system, before a sequence of delights is served on the leaf one by one. The upper half of the leaf is allotted to


culturama | november 2010

the accompaniments which include pachadi, a spicy curd-based mixture, poriyal, a vegetable salad topped with coconut, and kootu, a blend of vegetables and lentils. Stinging hot pickles and a pinch of salt are served at the top left corner of the leaf, a rational position for the guest’s right hand to combine them with the principal dishes that follow. On the bottom half of the leaf, the main course selection opens with flavoured rice such as milagu saadam (pepper rice) or puli saadam (tamarind rice), with the number of rice varieties serving as a barometer of the host’s social standing – the greater the variety, the wealthier the family. Steaming white rice is then savoured with paruppu, a luscious lentil broth, kuzhambu, an acidic tamarind gravy, and rasam, a sour, spiced soup. To counterbalance this piping hot medley of dishes is the legendary thayir saadam or refreshing curd rice, signalling the near-end of the meal. A generous serving of creamy payasam or flavoured porridge tops the perfectly structured array, completing a full circle of flavours for the palate. Eclectic meat and sea food preparations also feature on Tamil Nadu’s variegated menu. Nandu puttu or crab cakes, meen varuval or spicy fried fish and chicken kuzhambu are popular both locally and in other regions, making for an exhaustive subject on its own. These are just a miniscule slice of the region’s countless culinary delights and traditions that one might experience in varying forms within Tamil Nadu, across India and around the world.

(Spicy fish curry) Special thanks to Chef Sekar, Executive Sous Chef of Dakshin, Sheraton Park Hotel & Towers, Chennai, for sharing some valuable insights on Tamil Nadu’s culinary traditions. Thanks also to Meena T., R & D Head, Isha Life, Chennai, for providing some additional inputs.



Fish cubes, boneless – 1 kg Ginger and garlic paste – 50 gm Sesame oil – 150 gm Fennel seeds – 5 gm Fenugreek seeds – 5 gm Mustard seeds – 5 gm Shallots, chopped – 300 gm Country tomatoes, chopped – 200 gm Tamarind pulp – 100 gm Green chillies, sliced – 50 gm Turmeric powder – a pinch Coriander powder – 25 gm Salt to taste Masala powder – 200 gm (from the masala powder made)

1. Marinate the fish cubes in ginger and garlic paste, turmeric powder and salt for half an hour.

For masala powder

Quick Bytes ▪ Most dishes of Tamil Nadu are traditionally tamarind-based. In modern times, however, tomatoes serve as a convenient substitute owing to their tangy flavour and simpler usage. ▪ The renowned ‘filter coffee’ is a potent stimulant and is emblematic of Tamil Nadu. This is made from dark roasted coffee beans and aromatic chicory, prepared in a special metal device with a pierced bottom, similar to the Western ‘drip brew’. ▪ Rice is the culinary backbone of Tamil Nadu, prepared in different forms during different seasons. In the summertime, ‘rice water’ is made by pouring cooked rice in water and fermenting it overnight. In cooler climates, steamed rice-based delights like idli, dosa and idiyappams are savoured.


culturama | november 2010

Red chillies – 500 gm Coriander seeds – 100 gm Toor dhal – 50 gm Channa dhal – 50 gm Turmeric root – 50 gm Fenugreek – 5 gm Raw rice – 25 gm Peppercorn – 50 gm Cumin – 50 gm

In Season Guava Where: Found in most parts of India between November and January. What: Rich in calcium and vitamin C, it is beneficial for people suffering from asthma, epilepsy and catarrh. When: The common guava is usually greenish-yellow on ripening, although purple, red, white and black guavas are available as well. How: A popular way of eating guavas is to cut them into slices and dust the pieces with a mix of salt and chilli powder.

2. Prepare the masala powder by broiling the ingredients and grinding to a fine powder. Keep the preparation aside. 3. Heat oil, add mustard seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds and shallots. Sauté the mixture, then add in tamarind pulp. 4. Blend in tomatoes, add coriander powder, masala powder and salt. 5. Cook for 20 minutes, then add fish cubes and sliced green chillies. Simmer for 10 minutes until ready.

In the Kitchen • Brush a little oil on the grater before you start grating and cheese will wash off easily from the grater. • For a tender omelette, add a small amount of water instead of milk or cream. • Shorten the baking time of a potato by cutting off a very thin slice from each end. Oil the cut ends lightly before baking.

Photo & Recipe Courtesy Dakshin, Sheraton Park Hotel & Towers, Chennai

Meen Kuzhambu


Photo Sylvie POULTENEY, france

India Inventions

Lord Vishnu is said to rest in the coils of Ananta, the great serpent of Infinity, while he waits for the universe to recreate itself.

universal truth

THERE has been so much debate about “life, the universe, and everything in it” that the more we discover, the more we realise we have to unearth. But ancient Indians, however, seemed to have grasped much of the mystery we continue to unravel. According to author and historian, Nancy Wilson Ross, in her book, ‘Three Ways of Ancient Wisdom’, “Anachronistic as this labyrinthine mythology may appear to the foreign mind, many of India’s ancient theories about the universe are startlingly modern in scope and worthy of a people who are credited with the invention of the zero, as well as algebra and its application of astronomy and geometry.” The Brahmanas, part of the ancient scriptures or Vedas, is perhaps the earliest known work that meticulously and scientifically records the beginnings of creation. Recent theories propounded by certain Western scientists claim that the universe is constantly contracting and expanding, a thought that is an intrinsic part of Indian philosophy. “In Hindu cosmology, immutable Brahman, at fixed intervals, draws back into his beginningless, endless Being the whole substance of the living world. There then takes place the long “sleep” of Brahman from which, in course of countless aeons, there is an awakening, and another universe or “dream” emerges,” writes Nancy. “On the highest level, when stripped of mythological embroidery, Hinduism’s conceptions of space, time and multiple universes approximate in range and abstraction the most advanced scientific thought.”

HeadsUp ‘DARK faces with white silken turbans wreathed,’ said Milton of India. And that is indeed the impression you get in smatterings all over India. From weddings to ceremonies to religion, the saga of the turban has continued for centuries in India. Also called pagri, safa, peta and the dastar, depending on region and religion, this headgear is most often associated with pride, honour, courage, spirituality and humility. Believed to be the gift of the tenth and final holy guru of Sikhism, Guru Gobind Singh, the turban is an important part of Sikh identity. When a Sikh coils his long hair on to the crown of his head, he activates the crown chakra to protect his head from the sun. The turban that is then worn presses down on the 26 bones of the skull, thereby calming the person. Hindus in the country and certain sections of the Muslim population also wear the turban on occasions. The Mysore peta is one made of colourful silk or cotton decorated with lace or metal pendants. Worn by the people of Mysore in ancient times, this headgear reflected a person’s position in hierarchy depending on the type of turban worn. In Rajasthan, however, the story takes a different turn with over a 1,000 styles of tying a turban! Each style changes according to region and caste, with each region taking pride in its signature style. The colours signify the mood of the person wearing it. For example, white is most often used when in mourning. Whatever its reasons, the turban remains an indispensable part of India’s identity. .


culturama | november 2010


Look who’s in Town





Scott Wythe and Kelly-anne Philp Len and Linda Curran

Len is Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Renault India Pvt. Ltd. My India, My Country Firstly, in India, many men show their legs by wearing a lungi and we Scotsmen also show our legs by wearing the kilt! Second is the similarity in the Scottish/Indian attitude towards personal wealth. Scotland was traditionally a poor country and it is in our DNA to be prudent with money. In this day and age, we find ourselves caught between our traditional upbringing and the draw of the consumer society. My Favourite Indian Ratan Tata, as he has made Tata a truly global company. Furthermore, the Nano shattered the glass ceiling for low cost car production. My Indian Cuisine I love curry. I have been cooking and eating curries since I was about 15 years old and arriving in India was like a dream come true. My India Insight We have found that Indians are very polite, very kind, but most of all, I would say, very intelligent. One thing to change … The cities have some stunning buildings but there are several plastic bags and bottles lying around. If everyone can do his or her own bit in keeping India tidy, we would see this jewel shine even more brightly. My Tip to India Nowhere else on earth can you see such a burst of cultures, languages, colours, races and tongues. It is what makes India so special and my tip is ‘protect this diversity’. 18

culturama | november 2010

Scott is Head of Technical Governance for SGS India

My India, My Country We do share some British heritage for better or worse, not least of which is our shared love of cricket. You can quickly establish a link with any Indian by saying, “Ricky Ponting”! While there are disadvantaged people in Australia, we don’t have anything like the lingering caste system here in India. My Favourite Indian I admire Arundhati Roy for her ongoing subversive critiques of the Indian political system and for the way she has stood up for the disadvantaged of India. My Indian Cuisine Having always loved Indian food, it’s been a great experience to see and taste so many things other than butter chicken! The coconut-rich foods from Kerala and a great Gujarati thali on an Ahmedabad rooftop have been my highlights so far. My India Insight Indians are wonderfully hospitable and go to extreme lengths to please, particularly when we visit their homes. The inability to enforce road rules still irks us, though; lane driving rather than gap driving would certainly help. My Tip to India Australians tend to be more straightforward in their dealings with people and treat others reasonably equally. The formal way in which we are often treated can actually make us feel uncomfortable even though we understand the Indian cultural underpinnings of this.



Daniel & Monique Dubosclard

Daniel owns La Fromagerie (a cheese company) My India, My Country In France, everyone knows about cheese. It is a great product that we eat daily. In my business, I have noticed that Indian people do not know much about cheese … well, not yet! My Favourite Indian I am very grateful to all Indians who understand my difficulties in English and manage to interact with me, with signs or with some words of French. My employees’ French is now better than my English! My Indian Cuisine The first dish I tasted when I arrived was ‘biryani’. I must admit it was a little bit spicy, but after three years in India, I really enjoy it! My India Insight Indian people look very peaceful and are not stressed. Each problem has a solution, so why get worried? But this joy contrasts too often with the absence of very important words for French people: “Hello”, “Good Morning” and “Thank you”. My Tip to India French people like punctuality! Do not make them wait for hours … it will make them very upset. Also, instead of beating around the bush for hours, do not hesitate to say “NO”— the French will not feel offended.

culturama | november 2010



film 10 Little Theatre, 1830h

French Film Screenings In collaboration with Alliance Francaise de Bombay, come and share your passion for French cinema with other cinema enthusiasts every second Wednesday of the month. Admission on a first-come-first-served basis (NCPA and Friends of Cinema members will get preferential seating).

25 Little Theatre, 1830h

14 Jamshed Bhabha Theatre, 1830h

Contemporary Dance The popular and critically acclaimed Faultline (2007) features the voice of Indian soprano, Patricia Rosario, and is inspired by Gautam Malkhani’s hit novel Londonstani, which vividly portrays attitudes and tensions of British Asian Youth. The Company’s stunning international cast of dancers conveys Shobana Jeyasingh’s commitment to presenting dance that is powerful, strikingly original and beautiful to watch.

Spanish Film In collaboration with Enlighten Film Society, a 127-minute Spanish film with English subtitles, Broken Embraces, will 15 Little Theatre, 1900h be screened. The film traces the journey Lecture Performance Series An NCPA presentation, going beyond the of a man who loses his sight and the physical movements of dance, this selove of his life in a gruesome accident ries of lecture-performances looks at the and lives, writes and loves in the dark. meaning, context and content of choreography with three choreographers: Shobana Jeyasingh, Malavika Sarukkai, and the internationally-acclaimed soloist, S. Jayachandran. On till the 18th. Call the venue for more details.

24 Dance Theatre Godrej, 1900h

Theatre 26 Experimental Theatre, 1700h & 1900h

culturama | november 2010



1 H20, 1000h till sunset Parasailing

1 JW Marriott Festival of Scrubs

1 Golds Gym, Worli

12 Radio Club, 1400h to 2200h Wine Tasting Festival2010

If you’re looking to get your adrenalin pumping, try something different this week. H20 promises that their instructors have experience of over 5,000 flights and there are certified life guards hovering nearby. A flight costs Rs. 1,090.

Fitness Workout Pole dancing and exotic dance workout classes, only for women at Worli. Classes are held every afternoon and evening.

1 S.S. Sahani School, 1900h to 2030h

Take your pick from a range of scrubs at the Marriot’s exclusive spa. Each scrub is priced at Rs. 2,000, and lasts for 40 minutes, with options to combine it with massages from their comprehensive spa menu.

The Mumbai Wine Tasting Festival is promising to become an annual event and they invite one and all to be part of the second festival that is on till the 14th.


Capoeira Classes Capoeira is a Brazilian form of dance and martial art specialising in synchronising the moves to music. ‘Cordao De Ouro India’ is the first Capoeira Group in India started by Monitor Baba.

The Viewing Room

Elysium Mansion,4th Floor, Colaba, Mumbai – 400 005 Tel: 22880116

Out of the Blue

Le Sutra Hotel 14, Union Park, off Carter Road, Khar West, Mumbai – 400 051 Tel: 26003000 / 26003001

23 Tata Theatre, 1800h

Classical Indian Performance Deeply venerated in Indian culture, River Narmada, literally ‘the goddess that bestows joy’, is the only river in the world which has a tradition of a parikrama, or ritual circumambulation, through its entire length. The dance Narmada Parikrama attempts to render the beauty and grandeur of this ritual, through internationally-renowned dancer, Bindu Juneja.


The Interview A bright young man, clutching his resume, waits nervously at the 1 The Viewing Room, 1100h to reception of one of the country’s largest 1800h corporations. But nothing he learnt in Painting Exhibition college, university or his last few jobs This exhibition unifies the works of nine has prepared him for what comes next. contemporary women artists through Watch this play also on December 5. the diverse language of new-found media. On till the 15th. 28 Experimental Theatre, 1900h English Play 12 Piramal Art Gallery, 1700h to Produced by The Orange Dingy Theatre 1900h Company, ‘Life Through The Songs We Photography Exhibition Like: Songs of Love, Laughter, Loss NCPA and New Acropolis Mumbai and Longin’ is about Sid, who is invited present ‘Wisdom through the Lens’, to lunch at his wife’s best friend’s a special event in celebration of the apartment, and shockingly learns of UNESCO World Philosophy Day. Pierre things about her past that threaten to Poulain, a celebrated photographer destroy their marriage. known for his style of freezing philosophy in moments of time through 29 Experimental Theatre, 1900h the lens, will conduct the event. Non-verbal Play 1 Project 88, 1100h–1900h ‘Chakra’ is the struggle of the ancient Photography Exhibition man. Set in the pre-historic era, it Project 88 is pleased to announce gives insights into the life of the early Bani Abidi’s first solo in Mumbai titled man, the way he evolved, his battle to ‘Section Yellow’. As an artist, Abidi is survive, his hunger to explore and learn, conceptual in her approach and works which has never diminished. The play is primarily with video and photography. completely a music-and-dance-oriented On till the 10th. performance.

Pick of the month


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

Remembering 26/11 In collaboration with Public Concern for Governance Trust Embracing the Future, ‘We Remember’ is a coming together of artists and actors, activists and prominent thinkers to share thoughts and sentiments on the 26/11 attacks, through theatre, poetry, music and audio-visual media; exploring solutions for change, listening to those who are making a difference, as well as expressions of artists, writers, musicians and directors.

Oakwood Premier

29/1, J.R. Mhatre Road, Juhu, Vile Parle, Mumbai – 400 049 Tel: 66238888

FOOD & SHOPPING 1 Out of The Blue, 1200h to 2300h

Diwali Gift Options The Diwali Affordable Art Show allows you to choose from a wide array of artwork – paintings, graphic art, mixedmedia art, abstracts, figurative, Warli, charcoal art, etc. On till the 14th.

1 JW Marriot, 1400h to 2200h

Wine Promotion with Karen Anand Good Earth Winery and the JW Marriott Mumbai take great pleasure in announcing a celebration of food and wine. Master Chef Karen Anand is teaming up with Saffron’s Head Chef, Shadab Khan, to match the fine wines of Good Earth Winery with selected dishes from the Saffron repertoire. On till the 7th.

1 Bombay Blue, 1230h to 2330h

Mexican Food Festival Experience the delectable and exotic culinary delights from the adventurous land, as the restaurant presents the Mexican food festival that recreates the magic of delicious Mexican fares! On till the 14th.


Netaji Subhashchandr Bose Road, Chowpatty, Mumbai Tel: 23677546

Golds Gym

Samandar Point, Off AB Road, Opposite Scissor Over Comb,Worli, Mumbai – 400 018 Tel: 24952342, 24986555, 9324223026

S.S. Sahani School

18th Road, Khar (West), Mumbai – 400 051 Mobile: 9869055371

Radio Club

157, Aurthur Bunder Road, Colaba, Mumbai – 400 005 Tel: 22845025/22845123

The Bombay Blue

High Street Phoenix, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai – 400 013 Tel: 24961999/2999

JW Marriot Hotel

Juhu Tara Road,Juhu, Mumbai – 400 049 Tel: 6693 3276/77

Tata Theatre, Jamshed Bhabha Theatre, Experimental Theatre, Little Theatre, Godrej Dance Theatre, West Room, Piramal Art Gallery, Sea View Room.

NCPA Marg & Dorabji Tata Road, Nariman Point, Mumbai – 400 021 Tel: 6693 3276/77



Guitar Gods India Tour Directed and Catch Greg Howe, one of the finest Jazz-rock-fusion guitar players in the world, at an exclusive concert in the city. As an active musician for over 20 years, he has released nine studio albums in addition to collaborating with a wide variety of artists.

Pick of the month

15 Chowdaiah Memorial Hall, 1830h

Classical Dance Performance Titled ‘Raadha Rani’, this classical Indian performance is a descriptive Bharatanatyam ensemble piece that illustrates the beauty of Raadha. It is choreographed by Rukmini and is performed by the Raadha Kalpa Company.

21 Indian Heritage Academy

Nadasurabhi Annual Music Festival 2010 The festival will feature 10 concerts over a 6-day period, by renowned classical musicians. Entry is free.

WORKSHOP AND EVENTS 1 Thrillophilia Adventure Tours Pvt. Ltd

Solo Exhibition

‘Breaking Barriers’ will feature P. Elanchezhiyan’s sculptures which narrate women as practitioners of the martial art form of ‘Kalari’ or bull fighting, ‘Jallikattu’. On display till the 10th.

FOOD & SHOPPING 1 Eka, 1000h to 2000h

Lamps of Celebration This Diwali, take your pick of the exquisite hand-painted clay lamps, kundan floating lamps and rangolis, ornamental brass lamps and bells, decorated pooja thalis, torans in tissue and pearls, idols of Ganesha, Lakshmi and Saraswati, and much more. On till the 4th.

Travel to Kerala Sign up for this 7-day trip to Kerala from November 20 to 27 and explore valleys and wildlife sanctuaries like Munnar and Chinnar. Priced at Rs 17,000 per person, it includes accommodation, all entry fees, trekking, cycling, rock climbing, campfire, breakfast and 6 nights’ dinner, evening tea or coffee. 3 Bayleaf Call the venue for registrations. Hyderabad Blues Every Wednesday through this month, 1 Paaramparika Sanskruti Seva take a trip down the culinary lanes Samiti of Hyderabad for Rs. 600, along with Bengaluru Temple Festival bottomless beer. Celebrating and cleaning sacred spaces that honour the Supreme Being, rejoicing with song, dance and theatre, learning mystical chants and more in 22 temples across Bengaluru from September 2010 to January 2011. Call 97312 07477 or E-mail for more details.

Diwali Celebrations Trio World School invites parents and the community to celebrate Diwali on their campus. All are welcome.

14 Hippocampus

Photo Competition Hippocampus is organising a campaign called ‘Get Shot Reading’, to promote reading by creating awareness and visibility through the medium of photography. Open to children aged 15 years and below. Fifteen of the best photographs will be exhibited at Galleryske. Call the venue for more details.

5 The Park

Diwali Special Relish the festivities at i-bar with DJ Hussain, as he churns out the best of Bollywood to usher in Diwali. Every Friday, through this month.

19 The Park

Multi-media Exhibition

Titled ‘Leo’, Sreshta Rit Premnath explores specific representations of power through videos, photographs and paintings. On till the 30th.


No.1, Raheja Arcade, Opposite Food World, Koramangala, Bengaluru,Tel: 25535050

Trio World School

Koodigehalli Main Road, Shakar Nagar, Bengaluru


525,16th Main,3rd Block, Koramangala,Bengaluru Tel: 25630206/41101927 Thrillophilia Adventure Tours Pvt. Ltd.

4th Floor, 2628, 27th Main, 1st Sector, HSR Layout Bengaluru – 560102 Tel: 9686120000

Mushrooms and Truffles Indulge in the new appetising wonderland as the Mushrooms and Truffles festival is back at Italia. On till the 28th.

343, 3rd Cross, 10th A Main, Jayanagar, 1st Block, Bengaluru Tel: 41609122/26578624

Indian Heritage Academy

20th Main, 6th Block, Koramangala,Bengaluru – 560034 Tel: 25530304/25500143

The Park

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

Galerie Third Eye

A-1, Epsilon Offices, Yemlur Main Road, Airport Road,Bengaluru – 560037 Tel: 4114 8645, (,9845585235

Candle-making Workshop Light up your November with an exciting three-hour candle-making workshop. The formats/shapes taught will be decoupage, watermelon and fruit-salad candles.

The Oberoi

37-39, M. G. Road, Bengaluru – 560001 Tel: 25585858

Mahua Art Gallery

344/8 (Above Vijaya Bank), IV Main Road, Sadashivnagar, Bengaluru – 560 080

20 The Oberoi

1 Galleryske

19, Gangadhar Chetty Road, Opposite RBANMS Grounds, Near Ulsoor Lake,Bengaluru Website:

Active Canvas

1 Galerie Third Eye, 1000h to 1800h Fiesta of Art An exhibition of contemporary Indian

painting curated by Jasmine Khanna will showcase the works of both established and upcoming artists. On till the 30th. It will also be on display at the Royal Orchid Hotel on the 21st from 1100h to 2000h.


8th Cross, Sampagi Road, Malleswaram, Bengaluru Tel: 65951972/41120873

20 Active Canvas, 1000h to 1300h



10 Trio World School, Bengaluru, 1300h

ART & EXHIBITIONS 1 Mahua Art Gallery, 1030h to 1830h

* 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.

Loy Kathrong Chef Poltaecha invites you to the Thai festival of Lights at Rim Naam with a grand dinner feast of traditional dishes. On till the 27th.

25 The Oberoi

Thanksgiving Special Enjoy a traditional table d’hote dinner created by Chef Jaydeep at Le Jardin.

U B City

Sampangirama Nagar, Bengaluru Tel: 9880036611

Chowdaiah Memorial Hall

Malleswaram, Bengaluru Tel: 9880036611

Paaramparika Sanskruti Seva Samiti

1, Puttanna Road, Chinmaya Apartments, Basavanagudi, Benagluru – 560 004

culturama | november 2010


CALENDAR DELHI FILM & THEATRE 2 India Habitat Centre, 1900h

Inshallah-Football Directed by Oscar nominee Ashvin Kumar, ‘Inshallah-Football’ is a moving narrative about father and son, the dreams of a Kashmiri youth and the state of Indian democracy. Contact the venue for more details.

2 Epicentre, 1930h

The Hound of the Baskervilles (80 mins) In this 1939 English film directed by Sidney Lanfield, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson investigate the legend of a supernatural hound, a beast that may be stalking a young heir on the moorland that makes up his estate.

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


MUSIC & DANCE 7 India Habitat Centre, 1900h

Classical Music Recital In collaboration with Sangeetam, the India Habitat Centre presents ‘Sarangi’, a recital by Murad Ali, disciple of Ustad Siddique Ahmad Khan and Ustad Ghulam Sabir Khan. Contact the venue for details.

1 Ratan Textiles

Rajasthani Collection Ratan Textiles offers you a colourful collection of hand-block printed fabric and garments from Rajasthan. Drop in and take your pick from the exquisite display. On through the month.

Must Eat At


At Epicentre, Apparel House, Sector 44, Gurgaon Tel: 0124-2715000 Meal for 2: Rs. 1,500

9 Epicentre, 1930h

Kathak Ballet The group of Hare Krishna Kala Kendra, disciples of Ghanshyam Gangani, present ‘Yatra’, a scintillating performance of Kathak ballet. Contact the venue for details.

Pick of the month

7-14 India Habitat Centre, 1900h

‘Short+Sweet’ Theatre Festival Get set for ‘Short+Sweet’, the largest 10-minute theatre festival in the world. Established throughout Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and New Zealand, ‘Short+Sweet’ presents over 300 of the best 10-minute plays from local and international writers.

1 Amrapali Jewels

Russian Film The India Habitat Centre, in collaboration with the Russian Centre of Science and Culture, presents the 2008 Russian film ‘Passazhirka’. Set in the glossy and luxurious belle époque world of Stanislav Govorukhin, ‘The Passenger’ is a combined lyrical character study and scientific experiment.

ART & EXHIBITION 1 Experimental Arts Gallery

Photography Exhibition Experimental Arts Gallery presents a collection of selected photographs by Tarun Chhabra, titled ‘India – Abode of the Gods’, showcasing people as they perform rituals, celebrate festivals and praise Mother Earth. On till November 20.

20 India Habitat Centre, 1900h


Home Accessories This Diwali, gift your friends and family with beautiful hand-made paper and paper products. Gift wrapping services are also available. On through the month.

Scandinavian Concert Nina Anderberg and Mattias Perez from Sweden bring you an evening of Scandinavian music, followed by the fusion of traditional Nordic and Scandinavian tunes. Contact the venue details.


culturama | november 2010

39, Khan Market, New Delhi – 110003 Tel: 011-41752024

Must Eat At

Photography Workshop India Habitat Centre is organising a photography workshop with artphotographer Achal Kumar, winner of the National Academy Award 1997. The workshop will take place every second and fourth Saturday of the month and is open to IHC members.


Apparel House, Sector 44, Gurgaon Tel: 0124-2715100

Experimental Arts Gallery Gate # 2, Lodhi Road, India Habitat Centre, Lodi Road, New Delhi – 110003 Tel: 011-2468 2001

India Habitat Centre and Palm Court Lodi Road, New Delhi – 110003 Tel: 011-43663333/3090/3080

Ratan Textiles

21-22, Meher Chand Market, Lodi Road, New Delhi Tel: 011-24657600

Wrap It Up

1, Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi Tel: 011-26968127

The Metropolitan Hotel

13 Palm Court

Higawari Menu at Sakura Sample the Higawari or Executive lunch at Sakura, an authentic Japanese restaurant. Explore a variety of Japanese dishes, along with two pints of Kingfisher beer. The lunch is available on weekdays only, between 1200h and 1430h, and is priced at Rs 650 + taxes per person without beer and Rs. 850 + taxes per person with beer.


Amrapali Jewels

1 The Metropolitan Hotel

Irish Film Presented in collaboration with the Embassy of Ireland, ‘My Left Foot’ (1989) is a tale of life, laughter and the occasional miracle, based on the book ‘Christy Brown’. The film is directed by Jim Sheridan and stars Daniel Day-Lewis 13 India Habitat Centre, 0900h to 21 India International Centre and Brenda Ficker. A1230h Festival of the Arts Annual Book ForumAnnual The IndiaChildren’s International Centre’s This Children’s Day,will participate in a Festival of the Arts explore the newspaper years), theme of theactivity forest (6–8 through a filma literary quiz (9–12 the launch of festival, dance, years) music,and exhibitions, 6 India Habitat Centre, 1900h the book ‘99 Get Your Child seminars, andWays food. To Twenty-one feature Classical Dance Recital To Read’ Deepa andbe Devika films frombyIndia andAgarwal abroad will a Mark your calendar for a Mohiniyattam Rangachari. The event will isalso part of this festival, which on feature till the recital by Jayaprabha Menon on the a music performance by Jack Thomas, 27th. occasion of Kerala Day. Contact the author of ‘Music Is My Aeroplane’. venue for details.

7 Epicentre


1 Wrap It Up

15 India Habitat Centre, 1900h

Indian Jewellery Collection Add colour to the festive season with an assortment of jewellery. The latest collection includes precious and semiprecious stones in traditional Indian designs. On through the month.


317, DLF Promenade Mall, Nelson Mandela Road, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi Tel: 011-46656317 Meal for 2: Rs. 3,500

Bangla Sahib Road, New Delhi Tel: 011-42500200 and Time Tower, Main MG Road, Gurgaon Tel: 0124-4200950/51

Mind, Body & Soul

Dr . S . K . W a n g n o o

Sugar Free What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder where the human body does not produce or properly use insulin, a hormone that is required to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy. It is due to relative or absolute deficiency of insulin.

What are some of the major types of diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes: Commonly affects the young and requires insulin treatment right from the initial stages of life. Type 2 diabetes: Generally affects middle-aged people, but recently it has started affecting the younger generation as well. Although it can be managed by oral medications, the patient will require insulin during later stages of life due to the progressive nature of the disease. Gestational diabetes: Pregnant women who have never had diabetes before but who have high blood sugar (glucose) levels during pregnancy are said to have gestational diabetes.

What are some of the symptoms of diabetes?

Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes share many of the same signs and symptoms,. the salient ones being: frequent urination, excessive thirst, unusual fatigue, unexplained weight loss, numbness or tingling of the extremities, blurred vision, dry or itchy skin, recurrent infections, and cuts and bruises that take a long time to heal.

What are some of the associated complications?

If the blood sugar levels are maintained at normal levels, then the chances of any complications are minimised to the best. However, if diabetes becomes uncontrolled then the intensity of complications may magnify to the extent of affecting the eyes (vision impairment), kidneyrelated problems and even nerve dysfunction. Long-term uncontrolled diabetes leads to damage of the heart and brain.

How can we minimise the chances of diabetes? Self medication should be avoided. Consultation with a qualified doctor is most recommended. Assessment of blood sugar levels is recommended after every 3 months. Proper exercising can go a long way in keeping the blood sugar in optimum range. Following a proper diet plan is a must in addition to taking medications on time (for those who have diabetes).

The writer is a Senior Consultant, Endocrinology at the Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi. culturama | november 2010


CALENDAR CHENNAI film & music 4 Bike & Barrel

Diwali Dhamaka This Diwali, Bike & Barrel at the Residency Towers spreads the festive spirit as DJ Ashok Bajaj spins out the best of Indian ‘celebration’ music all night! Contact the venue for more details.


‘The Lamp of the East’ Exhibition InKo Centre, in association with Lalit Kala Akademi and Arts Council Korea (ARKO), is delighted to present ‘The Lamp of the East’, an exhibition that pays tribute to the Nobel Prize-winning Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore through the works of seven awardwinning contemporary Korean artists. Entry is free and open to all. On till November 13.

Trio Imàge in Concert The Goethe Institut, in cooperation with the Hindu Friday Review Music festival, brings you Trio Imàge in concert, with classical notes from Beethoven, Mozart and Brahms. For more details, log on to




3 Lalit Kala Akademi

18 Sir Mutha Venkata Subbarao (MVSR) Concert Hall, 1900h

* 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.

workshops this month, contact 2815 2549 or 98404 31549.

7 Chennai Hash House Harriers, 1630h

an evening of great recipes over an interactive session. By invitation only. Call 24304050 for more details..

25 Wild Fire Restaurant

Runs # 266 & 267 Take part in a family hash run every fortnight for an hour, followed by an evening of beer and relaxation. Run # 266 will take place on November 7 and Run # 267 on November 21. For details, contact Sashi Varma at 9840866083 or Allun Bett at 9962012290.

14 The Residency Towers, 1430h – 1730h

Children’s Day Bash Celebrate Children’s Day in style with surprise gifts and prizes, yummy finger foods and foot-tapping music by DJ Vivek! The event is open to children between 8 and 14 years of age. Entry fee: Rs. 300 per head.

Thanksgiving Dinner This thanksgiving, enjoy a four-course meal with unlimited red or white wine for only Rs. 1,599 (nett) at Wild Fire, the speciality grill restaurant at Asiana Hotels. An interactive kitchen adds to the experience and you are sure to find the perfect wine to compliment your grills at the in-house wine cellar.

venues Amethyst

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

Asiana Hotels

1/238, Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR), Semmencherry, Chennai – 600 119 Tel: 67411 000

1 Arkaya

Yoga Instruction Learn to be a yoga teacher from an authentic yoga guide who trains around the world. This ongoing 190 + 40 26 InKo Centre, 1900h hour programme is for anyone on the Film Screening-Breathless path of self discovery and enlightened ‘Breathless’ takes you to the reckless leadership. For details and registration, world of Sang-hoon, both a product and log on to, e-mail a perpetuator of mindless savagery. This or call 42144626. 2008 film directed by Yang Ik-Joo is a 3 India Immersion Centre (IIC) poignant tale of pain, friendships and Diwali and Children’s Day Festivities awakenings. Entry is free and all are Revel in the traditional sights and 1 welcome. sounds of Diwali with your family, at the IIC. Also on November 14 is a Children’s Day storytelling and activity session, with lots of fun and learning in store! On November 21 is Global Adjustments’ 1 Forum Art Gallery, 1030h – 1830h 13th annual photo competition for Sculpture and Painting Display expatriates (by invitation only). 3 ‘Herbs Within’, an exhibition of sculptures in glass by Sisir Sahana, will be on view from November 1 to 27. A group show of paintings by Nagpurbased artists will also be on display from November 13 to December 4.

Forum Art Gallery

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


Pick of the month

FOOD & SHOPPING Caramel Coffee Shop

Diwali Carnival Caramel at Asiana Hotel is hosting an exciting Diwali festival from November 1 to 6! Indulge in an exotic Indian specialty buffet with an array of Indian sweets at only Rs. 750 (excluding taxes).

Amethyst, 1100h – 2000h

Designer Collections Amethyst brings you elegant collections from Upasana between November 3 and 9, and chic designs from Krishna Mehta between November 18 and 25. Walk in any time throughout the week to take your pick from the collection.

5 Main Street

6 Hansel & Gretel, 1030h – 1230h


culturama | november 2010

Diwali Buffet Feast on a lunch and dinner buffet with a lavish spread of Indian delicacies and Diwali treats at Main Street, The Residency Towers. A special corner for kids will include fun with ‘mehendi’ and sparklers! Contact the venue for more details.

Story Time & Sing Along Develop your child’s language skills and interest in books through action songs, finger plays and reading sessions. The workshop is open to children 10 Raintree, Anna Salai, 1630h between 3 and 7 years of age and will Cook with a Chef take place every Saturday. For details Fasten your apron strings for it’s time and information on the full range of to cook with a chef at Raintree! Enjoy

Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan 4, Rutland Gate, 5th Street, Chennai – 600006 Tel: 28331314

Hansel & Gretel

No. 11, Jagadambal Street, T. Nagar, Chennai – 600017 Tel: 28152549/9840431549

India Immersion Centre

Global Adjustments Services Pvt. Ltd. 5, 3rd Main Road, RA Puram, Chennai – 600028 Tel: 24617902

InKo Centre

No. 51, 6th Main Road, R.A. Puram, Chennai – 600028 Tel: 24361224

Lalit Kala Akademi 4, Greams Road, Chennai – 600006

MVSR Concert Hall

Lady Andal School Premises, 7, Harrington Road, Chetpet, Chennai – 600031

The Raintree Hotels

636, Anna Salai, Teynampet, Chennai – 600018 Tel: 28309999

The Residency Towers

115, Sir Thyagaraja Road, Chennai – 600017 Tel: 28156363

Photo Feature

Shoba Narayana



PHOTOGRAPHS open the door to start the conversation towards change. To have a camera is to have power to narrate our stories. This was the idea behind creating the photography programme at Olcott Memorial High School (OMHS), Chennai, this past year. I began thinking about such a programme after I read about the success of similar programmes using the arts, specifically photography, to empower the youth. I also remembered how photography was an important outlet for my personal growth when I was a teenager. I wanted to bring this experience to OMHS. A free school for urban youth from underprivileged backgrounds run by the Theosophical Society, OMHS provides the space for students to grow introspectively. After working here for two years, I knew that the students here had the creativity, boldness and interest needed to make this kind of programme take off. With a grant from The Youth Parliament Foundation in Delhi and UNESCO, we were able to purchase eight new Fuji Film digital cameras. Students were selected from Grade nine through an interview and application process. For three months, these participants spent their weekends and after-school hours learning the art of photography. By viewing the works of notable photojournalists and art photographers we were able to gain a better idea of how photos tell stories. We touched upon perspective not only in the sense of the physical relationship of photographer to subject but also in terms of storytelling. Semi-professional photographers volunteered to mentor students and provide feedback on the photos taken. Once the students got the hang of using the camera, we worked on different themes such as emotions, our inner strengths, community and our life goals. One of the most powerful sessions was the one we conducted in the Theosophical Society where we took photographs of things in Nature that we see as an expression of our inner strengths. The banyan tree is one such photograph where the students explained that each aerial root falls from the tree to the ground and grows strong to support itself and the rest of the tree. Each root forms a new tree but stands together in support of all the other trees that are part of the one banyan. Thus, the banyan tree became the symbol of our exhibition, which we held in April and May both at OMHS and the Adyar Library and Research Centre, entitled The Dawn of Life is Light. In addition to enhancing self-esteem, forming new relationships and exchanging ideas, the programme has enabled youth to communicate their concerns through media and work towards creating change in their community. Photography provided a medium for these students to voice their perspective and express their creativity.

culturama | november 2010



culturama | november 2010

match point

Topnotch Thoughts

Last month, we asked the question “Has cricket lost its status as a gentleman’s game?” Here are some of the responses we received from our readers:

“I think that cricket is a populist game now. It’s no longer an English gentleman’s game. In England, cricket has almost become a minority game, but because of the money that’s coming from India, cricket has actually been reinvigorating quite a bit of interest. I actually heard a famous Indian writer saying that “Cricket is an Indian game discovered by the English.” – Andy Crighton, UK

“It’s true that cricket has become more commercialised, but I wouldn’t say that it has lost its original status. People in India are still crazy about cricket and for most people, there is no higher priority. We’ve been hearing about match fixing and such things for a very long time, but I don’t think that this affects the love that people have for the sport in any way.” – Sukumaran, India

“Cricket has become more commercialised now. It’s what we’d call a tamasha more than an actual game and the players are larger than life. Not that I’m blaming the players — I think they’re doing an amazing job. But the whole thing about cricket has become overblown at the cost of the other sports. I used to be in the hockey association out here and I remember how difficult it was to get sponsors and to get viewers to come, so the other sports do tend to get pushed back.” – Shamim , India

“I believe that most of the players are probably honest and really want to do their best. I think that there are a few cases, much like you find in the United States, where occasionally matches are rigged. But it’s not so common and I think that to make a generalisation about a few people is dangerous and prejudicial. I would say that cricket actually has a very good reputation and it’s a shame that a few people are causing some problems.” – Artemis Preeshl, USA

Inviting Reader Response! The topic for ‘Topnotch Thoughts’ next month is: “Have Indian festivals become an excuse for civil slackness?” Send in your responses in 75 words or less with a photograph by November 15 to The best entries will be published! culturama | november 2010


DYNASTY DID you know that the modern version of Ludo we play today is adapted from an ancient Indian game called Pachisi? It had four houses just like the Ludo we know today, though it was shaped like a cross, instead of neat squares. CULTURAMA brings to you our version of Ludo, called Dynasty©, because it is based on some of India’s historical dynasties, each with its own set of heroes and battles. We have the Maratha Dynasty from the West, the Mughal Dynasty from the North, the Chola Dynasty in the South, and the Maurya Dynasty from the East.

Dynasty© Game copyright, Global Adjustments, 2010 28

culturama | november 2010

DID YOU KNOW? Things you need Four coins per Dynasty (from any other board game you might have) A pair of dice

Rules and Regulations 1. Once you have picked your Dynasty, place your four coins inside your dynasty.

Cholas • The Chola dynasty was a Tamil dynasty and the most famous of the South Indian empires. • Rajaraja Chola I was considered one of the greatest rulers of South India. • The heartland of the Cholas was the fertile valley of the Kaveri River. • Under Chola rule, the Tamil country reached new heights of excellence in art, religion and literature.

2. Each player takes a turn to roll the dice. 3. Only if the player rolls a one or a six is he/she allowed to bring one coin out of the dynasty. The player will then get a bonus turn to roll the dice and move the coin that is outside from Start to the number of squares indicated on the dice. 4. Each time a player rolls a one or a six, he/she can choose to bring a coin out of the dynasty or move the coin already outside. 5. If a player is unable to make a valid move, he/she must pass the turn to the next player. 6. If your piece lands on the same square as the opponent’s piece, the opponent’s piece loses the battle and is sent back into the respective dynasty. 7. However, if your own piece lands on a square with your existing piece, then you can stack it and create a wall, disallowing any of the opponent’s pieces to continue. You can stack only in even numbers. 8. If you are in the Safe zone, no one can attack you. 9. Each of the four pieces of the player should complete the full circle on the board, before heading to Central India. However, the player must roll the exact number to go into Central India. 10. The winner is the first player who brings all of his/ her four pieces to Central India.

Game Points

Your army was captured in a battle! Go back to your empire.

You have just been crowned the new Emperor! Go to Central India! You have been taxed! Move back two steps.

Mauryas • The greatest emperor of the Maurya dynasty was Ashoka. • The Mauryan Empire had the most powerful military force in ancient India. • The bloodshed caused by the Kalinga War prompted Ashoka to adopt Buddhism. • Ashoka preached his philosophies in the form of pillars and rock edicts all over northern India.

Marathas • The Maratha Empire was founded by the great warrior Chatrapati Shivaji in 1674. • The territory of the Maratha Empire covered one-third of the Indian subcontinent. • The Marathas were skillful warriors and were fiercely possessive about their land. • The Marathas' rise to power accelerated the decline of Muslim dominance in India.

Mughals • The Mughal dynasty was founded by Babur, a Turkish chieftain. • Akbar the Great, the third Mughal Emperor of India, ascended the throne when he was only thirteen years old. • The Taj Mahal, constructed by Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, was designed by Ustad Isa. • Aurangzeb, the sixth Mughal emperor of India, came to power by murdering his older brother and imprisoning his father.

If you like this game, E-mail us for orders at culturama | november 2010


Young Voices

R a mit a K o n d ep u d i

Mix & Match

WHEN someone asks you where you’re from, what do you say? Is it that one city or town you were born in or is it that big place where all your family has lived before? For me, it’s both. I grew up, for 11 years, in the city of San Jose, California, USA. I’m proud to be Californian, let alone American, for sure. But what happens when life is going fine in the only place you know how to live and ever lived and when you have to move? That’s what happened to me. I came to India, the birthplace of all my ancestors, my grandparents and even my parents. We had visited India before several times, but this time was very different. Instead of becoming comfortable in Hyderabad and preparing ourselves to wake up to the fresh smell of food being cooked by our grandparents, we high-tailed it to Bengaluru! Staying in a gated community where all the kids got together and played in the evenings was surprising. Who plays after school? Aren’t they tired? Friends are usually The writer is 14 years old and lives in Bengaluru.


culturama | november 2010

made at school, was my reaction. I stayed away from them for a while. School wore on, but it was easy to adjust. My sister and I attended, and are still attending, an international school. Here, students from all over the globe gave us a broader perspective of the world. Carnatic music classes kicked in, just like they did in San Jose. Tennis daily was something that was new. I wasn’t used to exercising every day. Luckily, the coach understood and we started off slowly. My sister and I tried Tae Kwon Do, a Korean martial art, and found that we liked it. Seventh grade was laid back, even with the piles of homework that we got. When my grandparents came to Bengaluru, I spent more time learning about their past and my parents’ childhood than ever before. I understood more about Indian culture and I was feeling a little more comfortable, a little bit more at home. Now, however, it’s a whole different story. I wake up every day at 5:15 a.m. At 6 a.m. sharp, I head to the tennis court for half an hour of fitness and an hour of tennis. I can play in real tournaments now, unlike before! I change at tennis and make my way to school directly. I spend the day learning with a lot more friends than in seventh grade. I come home and most of the time, my sister and I either head to Tae Kwon Do class or weave our way through traffic to music class. Homework is done once we come home from our various activities and then at 6:30 p.m., we disappear for an hour to go play with the people I once thought were ‘lunatics’; I’m even able to bike around freely with the boys! The constant flow of relatives and friends at home, stray dogs on the road, the different spices and masalas, are all part of the culture of India. Neat roads with cars lined up side by side and the sweet, yellow, American corn and apple pies are a segment of America’s culture. The two countries are a world apart, yet I live in both. So, where am I from? It’s both: I’m an Indian American.

Young Voices

J a ck Nith a v ri a n a kis

Into India HAVING lived in India for a year and in Britain for four years, I have been able to compare the cultural differences between these beautiful countries. My first thoughts of the different cultures are the contrast in population. Britain homes 61.5 million people, whereas India's population is a booming 1.1 billion, over 1/6th of the world's population. The countries in the West were the nations of the future, but things are different now; the future is about India with its growing economy and businesses which are expanding. Education, IT and construction abound in India. But not all of the differences are political. There are some funny cultural differences, such as the driving or the food. My personal favourite are the cows! In Britain, cows are normally bred on farms, being used for milk and meat and they are commonly known to be black and white. But in India, cows are considered sacred. They are holy to the Hindus. They roam the streets, eating whatever grass they can find, hoping that more will be round the corner. Absolutely nobody touches them or is scared at the thought that a beast twice the size of them could go on a rampage. But it is not just cows. You can drive around in your car and see goats, pigs, dogs, mongooses or even the odd chipmunk. I was amazed at the sight of these strange, but beautiful, animals. I once played a game with my sister and a friend where we counted the different animals that we could see in an hour. We found 23, although at least 10 were most likely not animals, but insects the size of a spot. So in fact, whether you believe it or not, animals do play a big part in the culture of India.

However, there are some touching memories of my first year in India. My family and some friends of ours went down to the south of Tamil Nadu to visit the Kings International School. While dad was working, my sister and I were enjoying being the guests of this exciting school. All the boys and girls were Indian, and we were the only European children. I had not expected such a warm welcome. Everybody wanted to shake my hand and talk to me. I felt so special for those two short days. Everywhere I went, people would say, “Hi, Jack” or “How are you, Jack” and I felt special. The thing that touched me on this truly amazing trip was the final night. There was a dinner planned for us, and as if that wasn't enough, with the little money they had, they put on a great fireworks show for us! It touched me to see that Indians are so welcoming. They are hospitable and genuine and it is not something you see so often in European countries, I am afraid to say. So, although there are many cultural differences between the countries, such as religion, clothing, food and even the way of driving, the relationship is strong and a very historical one. It dates right back to the 1700s, so we can hope for another long period of this warm friendship. We can also hope that the different cultures will not affect our relationship between the powers of India and Britain but only serve to bring our two countries closer.

The writer is 14 years old and lives in Chennai.

culturama | november 2010


Tales of India

P rem a S a stri

FEELING BLUE RAJAMMA was a poor, childless widow, who lived alone in a village near Tiruchirappalli (in Tamil Nadu, now known as Trichi). Whenever she went to the river Kaveri, she would see children frolicking on its banks and would feel extremely sorrowful at having none of her own. There was a small temple near the river, the walls of which had pictures of the child Krishna. As she looked at Krishna’s antics, pleading with his mother Yashoda not to punish him, Rajamma thought to herself how lucky Yashoda must have been to have had such an enchanting son. Rajamma started to spend more time at the temple, feasting her eyes on the young Krishna. There was one particular picture that caught her eye – that of Krishna standing on a rock with a flute in his hand. The blue tint of his skin matched the sky. She felt that she could hear the flute playing her favourite raga (tune). Rajamma longed to own that picture of Krishna, but did not know where to find the same one. Soon, one evening, Rajamma heard a commotion on the street. The villagers were chasing a group of children with sticks. Rajamma called them in and hid the children in the house. While she stood guard at the gate, the villagers accosted her. “Did you see any children go past?” Directing them towards a mango grove some distance away, she asked what had happened. “They have been stealing fruit and vegetables from the vendors' carts,” they replied angrily, and ran in the direction of the grove. Rajamma went inside and confronted the children. “What you did was wrong,” she scolded them. “We were hungry,” they replied. True enough, they looked tired and hungry. Rajamma served them buttermilk and the bananas she had bought for herself. “Now go before the villagers return. Don’t do this again! I often go hungry but I don’t take other people’s food,” Rajamma ad-

illustration M R Rajan

Rajamma longed to own a picture of Krishna, but did not know where to find one.

vised the children. One of them with a mischievous smile, who seemed to have been the ringleader, lingered behind. Rajamma noticed that the fading light of the evening gave his skin a blue tint. His eyes gleamed and he whistled her favourite raga as he held out a piece of paper to her. “This is for you,” he said and ran off, dropping the scroll in her hand. She watched him till he disappeared down the road. When she unrolled the paper, Rajamma found that it was a picture of young Krishna exactly like the one she had longed for. Only, in this one, there was a group of laughing children around the rock on which Krishna was standing.

Blue is the colour of eternity as we see in the sky and sea, hence Indian mythology

uses the colour blue for its Gods, who symbolise infinity too. 32

culturama | november 2010

View from the Top

p u j a m a rw a h a

Cause & Effect Meet Puja Marwaha, CEO, CRY (Child Rights and You), as she takes us through a journey of change – of her own and the cause she is deeply associated with

What made you transition from an HR professional in How has the perception of child rights changed for large corporations to the social sector? Any particular you over the years in tandem with your own growth at reason why you chose CRY? CRY? As clichéd as it may sound, back in 1994, I was clear When I joined CRY, I came in thinking that changing a few that I wanted to act on my deep, personal desire to “make children’s lives was enough. But here in CRY, I saw that it was a difference”. You see, while many parts of India have seen possible to create lasting change for thousands of children, unprecedented progress in the last two decades, it hasand not it showed me that these solutions were practical as well. been equally distributed across all sections of society, orInterestingly, the the change in my perception coincided with country, for that matter. So I felt that development, as a sector, the change in public opinion about underprivileged children. was one that needed my skills and time more that any other. Opinions about children used to be quite welfare-oriented and And within the sector, CRY seemed to be, from the get-go, animportance of rights in a child’s life was not understood. the organisation that was aiming to go beyond relief work – which CRY, on the other hand, convinced people like me that for such by its nature is temporary. Their aim of bringing about longlarge-scale problems, the charity-based approach would not term change seemed like just the thing I was looking for. work. Government schools, free primary healthcare centres, these were some of the lasting answers to education and health needs. How do you bridge the overwhelming gap between individual belief systems and public understanding, especially in India? I think, in a sense, we are lucky to be working in a country with diverse belief systems, all of them, without doubt, agreeing on one fact: children need love and care. Given this, our work is only to make sure that this belief is translated into action. We try and engage our supporters in the issues we work in, by explaining the need, our approach, and sharing stories of change that our work has brought about. We also engage in large-scale public campaigns. For instance, last year, we went out to the streets with a campaign to ask the Government of India to extend the Rights to Education Bill to cover all children in India. We used mass-media as well as face-to-face interactions to explain our point of view, and to seek support. Our faith in the public was justified when this campaign received the support of over seven lakh people from all over the country. What, according to you, are the three things we can do at an individual level to change a child’s life? First, we can change our own hearts and minds to believe that children are individuals with rights, not the possessions of adults. The next thing is to stand up for children’s rights – it means taking tangible action wherever and whenever you see a child’s right being violated. The third and most important thing we can do is to join groups of people like us, to build the momentum in children’s rights.

culturama | november 2010


Postcard from India

hen our was taken w THE picture from New led by road family travel person in in 2008. The a gr A to hi Del is my son, of the car the backseat beside him. I was sitting d an , er ilm W state border pped at the The car sto while before to wait for a d ha e w d an enly, this ntinue. Sudd we could co r, which my ped on our ca m ju ey nk o m using! The found very am son of course e l in our hous w on our wal no is e ur ct pi inds us of d always rem in Sweden an unately got g time we fort the fascinatin dia. to spend in In , Sweden

Anna Toorn


culturama | november 2010

Guess Who?

India and I

M a ri n a M a r a n g o s

old & Steamy WHAT do you give the man who has everything? A Fairy Queen perhaps? She is old, elegant and smutty and purrs like a kitten. She is 155 years old and still going strong. I am talking about the oldest working steam engine in the world, built in 1855! As soon as I heard about her I knew that this was going to be the best possible birthday present for a man who has always found the Indian railway fascinating and not just in an academic sense. On an unforgettable journey many years ago, he was invited on to the footplate of a steam train as we were travelling down to Bhubaneswar. The only thing was he forgot to tell me so when the train pulled out. He finally appeared at the end station, black-faced and very dirty, to tell me of the invitation to join the driver by which time I was sick with worry. However, I have forgiven him and married him instead. So, this seemed like the ideal present, almost a continuation of that journey that he started all those years ago.

culturama | november 2010


We arrived at Delhi Cantonment and stood on the platform admiring her colours, her shape and her panache because it is not everyday, that you see something so beautiful, so well preserved and so loved by the team that looks after her. We boarded and headed off to Rajasthan where the average temperature was approximately 45 C. And were we worried about this? Not in the least! We were so excited to be part of this historic event. She is a locomotive steam train, pulling a passenger coach, whistling and hooting all the way with people greeting her enthusiastically everywhere we travelled. The coal was heaped up on the footplate and the stocker, in spite of his proximity to the furnace, did not even break out into a sweat. Now that is acclimatisation for you. We chugged along and what was truly wonderful was the absolute rhythm that these engines give to the whole journey. I was sitting in the air-conditioned carriage which had a big window facing the steam engine and I could see my husband and my son on the footplate. He was happy to forego the wonderful four-course meal served by smiling waiters who pandered to our every whim. The journey was picturesque, travelling through the most primitive rural villages with smooth mud huts and courtyards where water buffalo grazed and lazed. Camel carts pulled loads along the roads and tea shops offered much needed refreshments. The women toiled in the baking sun, the countryside was dry and at one point there was an enormous dust storm that covered the sun and everything in sight. We arrived at Alwar station to a paparazzi welcome

with photographers jostling for position and flashlights popping. I looked around expecting to see that one of us was the mystery celebrity but found that we all were. It was a welcome fit for royalty and what a day for the boys. We stayed at a guest house and took a walk exploring the quite impressive Sariska Palace nearby and had the opportunity to go on some lovely safari drives in the Sariska National Park. We did an early morning one on Sunday and returned about 10 a.m. for a good breakfast before taking the coach back to Alwar station. On the way back she even picked up speeds of some 60 km an hour, which is pretty impressive for someone 155 years old! She is in the Guinness Book of Records and a great favourite of all steam

train aficionados everywhere. Indian Railways, one of the largest employers in the world, organises these weekends and the season is usually from October to March. It was wonderful, from the lovely service on board the train, the clean odourless toilets, and the catering, to the enthusiasm of all those who help the Fairy Queen to stay in prime condition. She is of course one of the 16,000trains-a-day on the Indian Rail System and just about the best way to travel in this country. Looking out of the window you see faces of such complexity and diversity that you never tire of people gazing. And this time, I knew where my husband was. I could see him smiling away marvelling at this prize piece of engineering and workmanship.

The writer is a Greek Cypriot and has been living in Delhi for the last two years. The Fairy Queen runs every second and fourth Saturday from October to March. For more information, log on to 36

culturama | november 2010

India and I

B y C a rme n H u th o e f er - H ei n rich

Get, Set, Go A peek into the heart of the Commonwealth Games with its many minor and major success stories

LONG awaited, fiercely criticised and accomplished with ease – after 11 days of competition in 17 different sports by 71 nations, the Commonwealth Games 2010 in Delhi were eventually a success for India. The Commonwealth Games, which were started as the British Empire Games back in 1930 when the world was a vastly different place and many of the current members of the 2010 Games did not exist or were known by completely different names, have drastically changed since then. A total of 272 gold medals have been dished out this time – that's a lot of precious metal.

culturama | november 2010


After delays and some glitches, the infrastructure proved to be good and, in some cases, even superior to comparable Games’ venues abroad. The Games Village ultimately won praise and the catering, cultural extravaganzas and shopping were commended. In spite of everything new records were achieved, like India hadn't won a Commonwealth track and field gold since the Flying Sikh, Milkha Singh, stormed to the 400m title in Cardiff 52 years ago. So, when Krishna Poonia, Harvant Kaur and Seema Antil made it a home one-twothree in the women's discus, it did more than just lift the roof off the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. Without doubt, history had been made. According to 85% of a representative survey conducted by the TOI, the games were successful, and 88% actually expressed the view that India has arrived as a sporting nation. After all, India clinched the 2nd position in the medals tally with 38 Gold medals. The opening and closing ceremonies were colourful but too long. Whether for reasons of dengue or terrorist alarms, which were overly exaggerated, fewer visitors than expected came to Delhi In the backdrop of the tournaments and athletic performances, there were several minor and major

success stories, which have contributed to the success of the Games. One of these was the Swiss-Indian teamwork of the Overlay-Providerz Nussli (Switzerland) Ltd. Nussli’s Head Office is located in a small, quiet place near Zurich. However, its reputation for temporary constructions for major sporting events is known worldwide. With a team comprising Swiss and international specialists for the Commonwealth Games 2010, Nussli combined Indian customs with the knowhow of worldwide major sporting event. Not only was the time-schedule for the Commonwealth Games tight enough, and not only did the messages in the week before the event provoke feelings abundantly enough, there also existed different mentalities, which the Indian and Swiss colleagues of Nussli had to deal with every day. Temporary construction requires a high degree of planning, efficiency and discipline. So that in this project, worlds collided with one another: Right-on-schedule Swiss versus “Indian Standard Time”, strict expertise versus improvisation, forward thrust versus Indian bureaucracy and Swiss rationality versus Indian creativity. Acting on behalf of many Indian and non-Indian partners of the Commonwealth Games 2010, Nussli’s employees from different nations have learned a lot in the past months. The deep-rooted religiousness and the belief of Indians in daily life appeared especially impressive to the “Westerners”. From the Managing Director to the construction worker, the majority of Indians follow traditional rituals even in modern businesses. Not only the private life and family but even the daily business routines, office openings or business transactions are infused with religious aspects. Nussli’s management will remember its first “pooja” in the newly opened office for a long time. For it is unknown in Switzerland. After an extremely steep learning curve, the Swiss company Nussli discovered India on its own. Thereby, the conscious teamwork of Indian and foreign workers was the right recipe for the entry into a country with great potential and a will to learn. After all, the Commonwealth Games have whetted the appetite of the Indian nation. In the survey mentioned at the beginning, 82% voted in favour that India should now put in a bid for the Olympic Games in 2020. The initial necessary experiences for a major sporting event have been gained, a network of new knowledge and professional experts has been spun.

The writer is Swiss and is the Controller at Nussli (Switzerland) Ltd. She was featured in the last month's cover. 38

culturama | november 2010

Meeting the Mahatma

AMIDST current times of cultural perplexity,what the he stood for and what the Indian people thought world’s attention is steadily turning back to lessons of him.” – Paul Sellers, UK and leaders from the past. On October 1, the India Im-“It was amazing and inspiring and transported me mersion Centre celebrated the 141st birth anniversary to a different era. Today, I am taking home truth and a of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the Indian nation, different side of Gandhi.” – K. Swathi, India with an eclectic mix of fourteen cultures. Together, the Moral Meter gathering unveiled a unique plaque depicting Gandhi We asked our audience the question: “Are Ganat the spinning wheel with a globe in place of the dhian principles still relevant today?” Here are some original charkha, symbolising the boundless binding of the answers we got. thread of Gandhian values. “I visited Gandhi’s home in Delhi twice to gain a The evening gave the audience a glimpse of the life better understanding of his life, and find that his of the Mahatma, with a riveting presentation by Ganare relevant today more than ever. Unfordhian activist V.R. Devika, titled ‘Spin a Yarn – Selfprinciples and tunately, they are rarely applied and are seen by most Society’. Clippings from his boyhood days, his visits people to London, his meeting with Charlie Chaplin and his as representing an ideal world.” – Alexander Kara, Sweden final days breathed life into the real Gandhi, so often misconceived as a poor, frail figure. The presenta-“I recently had a discussion with my husband and have opposing views of Gandhi’s methods. He feels tion was followed by a spinning demonstration onwe the that Gandhi’s practice of fasting to attain peace was charkha. This meditative activity was the perfect close an imposing one, whereas I argued that his methods to the evening dedicated to a leader “whose legacy worked and achieved their objectives. Whether his was courage, whose banner was truth and whose principles are applied today is questionable. After the weapon was love.” recent Ayodhya issue, I think that his lessons have to True Talk be revisited.” – Sylvie Bonavia, France “During the lecture, I felt as if the speaker had “I think that Gandhi’s principles are timeless and a fishing rod and was hooking fish. I am hooked willon always be relevant. In Scotland, we know of Gandhi Gandhi now and can’t wait to get to a Gandhi book as the leader who created the Indian nation through and read more.” – Len Curran, Scotland peace, and also accept his principles as being the “I earlier knew the historical facts around Gandhi, right way to live.” – Linda Curran, Scotland but I am now taking home a better understanding of E-mail us for events this month at

Play Back ATMAN, at the India Immersion Centre (IIC), was filled with the whispers of 100-year-old dolls standing majestically on a five-step display, the chatter of excited children hovering around newer dolls on the tables around the room, and the quiet awe of others as they revelled in the atmosphere of culture and mythology. As part of the Indian festival of Navaratri, literally meaning ‘nine nights’, the IIC celebrated golu, the traditional South Indian doll festival, on October 8. With people from over 10 different nationalities, ranging from Thailand, Vietnam and Japan to Mexico, North America and Sweden, it was as wonderfully diverse as the various dolls on display. Beginning with a short concert by four young artistes, representing decades of South India’s rich classical music lineage, it went on to an interactive veena concert by renowned artiste, Sharadha Thota. Sharadha began by teaching our spirited audience a


culturama | november 2010

classical song that they took to instantly! This was followed by three more songs on the veena, after which she explained the various nuances of the instrument, along with its cultural significance. With some traditional Indian sweets and savouries, it was an evening filled with the promise of another exciting cultural exchange to come. And finally, as is customary at the IIC, every event is linked to an outreach programme with The Interface, and through this event, we supported a palliative care cancer patient.

E-mail us for events this month at Especially Children's Day and Diwali

tiny thoughts “I liked the small girls who sang at the IIC. And the veena concert and how she let us sing.” Maria, Germany It’s interesting to learn something new everyday and it was good to learn about Indian culture here.” Mariana, Mexico “I liked the way the veena player explained everything. I loved the doll display, especially the nodding dolls.” Nidhi, India “I liked the two little girls who sang.” Nitya, India

Holistic Living

ek n a th esw a r a n

Photo Bernaud Bahout, France

will win situation culturama | november 2010


DESIRE is the key to life, because desire is power. The deeper the desire, the more power it contains. The power in desire is the power of the will. Every desire carries with it the will to bring that desire to fruition. “Strength,” Mahatma Gandhi said, “does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” If the will is strong enough, anything can be accomplished; if the will is weak, very little can be achieved. In my opinion, what counts most in life is not IQ but WQ – “Will Quotient.” In every endeavour, it is the man or woman with an unbreakable will who excels. We can think of Will and Desire as competitors in a really long marathon – one that goes on for years. All the bets are on Desire. He has been training for many years, so he is in the best of shape. He crouches at the starting line like a leopard – lean, lithe, and powerful, bursting with the desire to win. But for most of us, the will is still in bed. I say “most of us” without any deprecation, for this is the conditioning the world shares today: the attitude that pleasure is everything, and the absence of pleasure the worst of fates. Once we start questioning this attitude, a new desire comes: the desire to master our desires. That is the signal that the race is about to begin. But first we have to wake the will. The person with determination, who is tired of losing in life, goes to the kitchen, gets a pitcher of cold water, and pours it on Willie’s head. Will gets up fast, shaking off the cobwebs. “How about a drink?” We give him some black coffee. As he wakes up, he starts to complain: “I haven’t run in years; I’m a marshmallow! Besides, I don’t have any running shoes; I don’t have any shorts. You wouldn’t want me to run in my pajamas, would you?” We have to humour him and practically carry him to the race. Will slouches at the starting line, all out of shape, while leopard Desire crouches eagerly. Off goes the gun; Desire springs from the starting blocks. But Will is all engrossed in his feet. “Look, I’ve got my shoes on the wrong feet! How did that happen?” He bends over to untie them, and our hearts sink. Will lumbers to his feet to the jeers of the crowd. The voices are our own. There is a certain amount of self-deprecation when we try to master strong desires, but on no account do we need to take this kind of jeering seriously. Even if he appears weak, we should put our money on the will. Just as there are exercises for strengthening different parts of the body, there is a powerful exercise for strengthening the will – resisting any conditioned, self-centered desire. This kind of training has to be practised with artistry and a sense of proportion. I would not, for example, suggest you deprive yourself of a glass of fresh orange juice in the morning just because you desire it. There are plenty of positive opportunities for strengthening the will, by resisting urges that benefit nobody. In all fairness, I must say that the will is a plucky fellow at heart. After just a little training, he is ready to compete, even if Desire has run so far ahead that he thinks he is unchallenged. And once he starts training, be it ever so slowly, the will gains ground every day. This first-rate professional, Desire, suddenly finds himself running neck and neck with the amateur Will. And at last the will gives one great leap forward, pulls into a strong lead, and breasts the tape. After that, your will is unbreakable. What may be called “right desires” – desires that benefit all, including yourself – can be as strong as they like; when the will runs ahead of desires, nothing can become an obsession. If a desire starts to get a little stronger, the will simply lengthens its stride and pulls out in front.

Excerpts reprinted with permission from “Will & Desire” (Blue Mountain, Autumn 2009). Copyright 2009 by the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, PO Box 256, Tomales, CA 94971, http://www. 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

Join us every Saturday Global Adjustments facilitates a weekly spiritual fellowship group following Easwaran’s Eight Point Programme of Meditation in Chennai. Email us for more information at or call Reema Duseja at 9884127304.


culturama | november 2010




Book A Silly Story of Bondapalli

Film Raavan

Author Shamim Padamsee

Director Mani Ratnam

Illustrator Ashok Rajagopalan

Language Hindi

Price `135

WHEN you mix a handful of animated words into a bowl of spicy illustrations and then drop them into a crackling pot brewing with a story, you get the perfect recipe for a children’s book and that’s what ‘A Silly Story of Bondapalli’ is made of. Shamim Padamsee, along with illustrator, Ashok Rajagopalan, has managed to create a believable space, Bondapalli, with characters that come alive with their expressive eyes, be it a cat or a cook, and takes you through the travails of a fussy little prince and his food fetish. What follows is a sometimes funny, sometimes ludicrous set of events that lead to, yes, a happy ending, with the ubiquitous ‘bonda’ (a popular Indian snack) taking centrestage. If you are familiar with the author’s other work, you will recognise Shamim’s lucid narration and careful choice of words, mirroring her passion for “early childhood education”. The illustrator, also a writer himself, lends credibility and visual flavour, making this the perfect pick for reading aloud or letting your child discover the book on his/her own terms. Nothing silly about this book as much as a lively imagination that takes over. And I am glad it says 5 ‘+’, because I don’t have to be the least bit embarrassed about the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed it. Note: Shamim also hosts a not-for-profit initiative at that gives you a comprehensive, neatly indexed and reviewed treasure trove of Indian books for children.

MANI Ratnam’s ‘Raavan’ comes close to the Raavan in the Indian epic Ramayana by nature of the abduction of the beautiful Sita (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan). However, it goes beyond a simplistic retelling of the well-known story because it highlights the rise of the anti-hero cult in the current socioeconomic and political spheres of life. I have long believed that the mask of cynical brilliance worn by antiheroes serves to hide profound loneliness – the feeling of ‘otherness’ that arises from exclusion of class, language, culture, or sex. The fact that we have all at one time or another experienced this sense of “otherness” is what gives the antihero his power and our sympathy. Here the (anti-)hero has not one but many tragic flaws: he is a product of our times and a victim of circumstances; thus, he arouses our empathy, love, and eventually forgiveness. In ‘Raavan’, Mani Ratnam has presented our world of mediocrity; he portrays life the way it is – with no blacks and whites, only shades of grey. It is in this world that the average man becomes the hero of our times: he is not born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and thus has to struggle to survive. In ‘Raavan’, Aishwarya is as exotic, ethereal and convincing as Abhishek is charming and humorous; and the thumping beat of AR Rahman’s music makes the beautiful cinematography spectacularly dramatic. ‘Raavan’ is not only an entertaining and beautiful film to watch but also makes us question the values and morality system of today’s society. — By Jyoti Nair

culturama | november 2010




Study Circle Photo Leann Canty, USA

What is the difference between a public and a private school in India? In India, public schools are called government schools or corporation schools. Government schools are partly funded by the government and partly managed by a trust. Government schools do follow a nominal fee structure, but are also dependent on external funds. A corporation school is completely funded by the government, with no fee structure, whereas private schools are trust-based institutions that survive on a comprehensive fee structure. Why do you have different systems of education in India, like CBSE, ICSE, etc? Each system came into being to address evolving needs in the education system that was set many years ago by Thomas Babington Macaulay, the architect of modern education in India. The Central Body of Secondary Education or CBSE, and the Indian Certificate for Secondary Education or ICSE are managed by different central government regulatory bodies that set the curriculum, examination patterns, scoring systems, certification, etc. The State Board schools, on the other hand, specifically cater to India’s diversity. Based on language, geography, history of that particular land and the econom-


culturama | november 2010

Photo Brian Jolley, USA

ic status of the majority community in that state, State board or Matriculation schools came into being and they are run by local government regulatory bodies. Why is education in India so academic, giving very little importance to life skills? With the phenomenal rise of the middle income group in India, education became the means to an end. Academics played an important role as jobs were few and technical skills guaranteed better stability. Moreover, it was the middle class that also began to look for work outside the country, and therefore academic rigour became even more significant. As for life skills, it was something the Indian civilisation naturally thrived on. However, in today’s globalised world, soft skills have become pronounced and rigid, with Indians beginning to cope with the change. I find it surprising to see that every school has its own uniform, when we are not used to this back home. Why is this? The uniform system, again, began with the British education system, though today, with multiple economic groups studying under one roof, uniforms mean making it a level playing field, and so they remained. — By Anita Krishnaswamy


5 8

Your Festive Calendar




Guru Nanak Jayanti Birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism. Devotees celebrate with an early morning prayer, and as per their tradition, serve a free communal lunch in the spirit of seva (service) and bhakti (devotion).



The Festival of Lights symbolises the victory of righteousness over spiritual darkness, illustrated through Lord Rama's return to his kingdom after vanquishing the demon king, Ravan. Twinkling oil lamps light up every home and firework displays are common all across the country.

14 17 December

1 Karthikai Deepam Festival of Lamps

7 Muharram This is the first month of the Islamic New Year.

25 Christmas

Children's Day

The birth anniversary of independent India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, is celebrated as Children’s Day, commemorating his lifelong adoration and work for children.


This is the festival of sacrifice, also called 'Id alAdha' in Arabic. It is celebrated by Muslims worldwide as a tribute to the prophet Ibrahim, who was willing to sacrifice his son for God. This festival occasionally coincides with the Hajj (annual pilgrimage to Mecca).

14 Pongal Annual four-day harvest festival celebrated in Tamil Nadu.

14 Makar Sankranti Celebrates the journey of the sun from Saggitarius to Capricon. February

Happy birthday, Jesus Christ! January

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

12 Mahashivratri


19 Holi The spring festival of colour.

22 Good Friday A day that mark’s Jesus Christ’s crucifiction April

16 Mahavir Jayanthi

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

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

15 Milad-Un-Nabi

25 Easter

Birth of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad.

A day that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ.


Fact of the Matter

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

2 3 4 5

Iruvar was Mohanlal’s first Tamil film, True or False? Indus and Ganges are the two rivers mentioned in the Indian National Anthem. True or False? How many verses does the Mahabharata contain? The followers of the Indian philosopher Rajneesh are called?

6 Which Indian musical instrument is also known as the Juice Heart? 7

“I would like to commend your team for the excellent job you are doing and the fantastic way you deal with your readers.” T K Srinivas Chari Winner of the September quiz!

The Macmohan line is part of the border between India and which country?

Shivashankara Varaprasad is the name of which famous South Indian star?

8 Who planned the city of New Delhi? 9

Who was known as the Tiger of Mysore?

10 Who was the able minister in the kingdom of Ayodhya?

Last month’s answers 1) October 2, 2008 2) The Malayalam edition of Google News was launched 3) Kalpana Chawla, 2003 4) Venkatraman Ramakrishnan from Chidambaram in Tamilnadu 5) Asiatic Lion 6) Maharashtra 7) Rahul Dravid 8) Karnataka 9) Kolkata 10) F. He won the gold


culturama | november 2010

And the winner is

Shruthi Thomas!

Please call 24617902 and collect your special prize!

culturama | november 2010


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culturama | november 2010

Space & The City

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

Easing your passage to and from India

15 years of bringing the world to India

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Alwarpet Row House for Rent • 2500 sq ft built-up area • Three bedrooms with attached bath • Covered car park • Private garden

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Uthandi Beautiful Cottage for Rent

• 1400 sq ft built-up area • Three bedrooms with attached bathrooms • Fully furnished • Car parking space available

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

culturama | november 2010



culturama | november 2010

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