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India's Only Cultural Magazine for Expatriates

VOLUME 2, iSSUE 7 september 2011

OF ONENESS

A peek into Indian Islamic traditions

God's own festival A photographic celebration of Lord Ganesh


D e a r

R e a d e r s

I AM writing this column from Hyde Park in London. An antique boat house sits pretty against Serpentine Lake. Many of us have appreciated its replica built on the Kodaikanal Lake. The astounding thing, today, is the beautifully erected steel structure right by its side for the practice of the Olympic Swim Team events. Guess who built this steel structure? TATA. How the empire strikes back! Read more about the man behind the marvel in our Star Struck column this month. Who says India needs an excuse to party? Come September and it is festivals galore in India. Onam in Kerala celebrating victory of good over evil with unique floral carpets for decoration vies with nationwide carnivals for Ganesh – India’s best-loved elephant God's – special day. India, as you know, is a nation that is home to the second largest Muslim population and the beginning of the month marks the end of Ramzan with celebrations and feasts. Through all of this the common theme is knowledge. About what we know to be true which also reminds us of how much we don't know. Knowledge is considered the most important wealth in this culture. Especially knowledge about the self, offered to us by a Guru. Literally meaning remover of darkness. So the giver of knowledge is much respected in India. September 5 is celebrated as Teachers' Day across the nation and in the tradition of India, students bow before teachers. Arise India, after you bow, do also learn to speak up! Think for yourself. Ask questions. Apply your knowledge. Teachers simply have to encourage interactivity for truly creating Global Citizens. We dedicate this September issue of Culturama to learning. In Coffee and Conversation this month, dance with Shiamak Dhavar and in our feature learn about Muslim traditions. Take a peek into the celebrations that colour the country in myriad hues in our photo feature and listen to expatriate voices in our columns India and I about Kuldahara and Bursting the Bubble about India’s festive spirit. Signing off with Gandhijis words – Live like you will die tomorrow and learn like you will live forever. Ranjini Manian Editor-in-Chief To contact me directly, e-mail globalindian@globaladjustments.com

Sign up for our Indian Cultural Modules at www.globaladjustments.com/culture

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contents 10 Coffee & Conversation

22

Dance With Me

14 A-Z of INdia

Gravy Train

September is a month of celebration – of unity, of the many gods, faiths and festivals of India. Our cover image comes from Kerala, a state that will celebrate the return of its mythical king Mahabali with great pomp and fanfare this month. In the pages of this issue discover many Indian festivals and what it means to be truly diverse! Cover Photo Claude Bahot, France

18 india on a platter

Wanting Wantons 22 Feature

Salaam Alaykum 26 Look who's in town

Chennai, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi

28 bursting the bubble

Festive Fervour 30 office yoga

Eat. Pray. Live.

32 India snapshot 33 PORTRAIT OF INDIA

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

34 Calendars

Chennai, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi

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The Inner Journey

46 star struck

The Big Cat

48 India immersion centre 50 India & I

Forgotten Realm 52 namesake

52 inner space

A Sacred Dip

54 Holisitic living

Take Time for Relationships

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

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

42 wisdom trail

Freeing the Self

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

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

40 Photo feature

56 TALES OF INDIA

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The King of Peace

58 FESTIVALS OF INDIA 60 iSeries

iRead, iSee, iAsk and iLike

66 space & the city Published and owned by Ranjini Manian at #5, 3rd Main Road, Raja Annamalai Puram, Chennai – 600028 and printed by K Srinivasan of Srikals Graphics Pvt Ltd at #5, Balaji Nagar, 1st Street, Ekkattuthangal, Chennai – 600032. Editor: Ranjini Manian

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N e w s w o r t h y

Teaching India

Letters to the Editor Dear Editor, Love your new August Independence Day issue of Culturama. I just suddenly had the biggest wave of missing India wash over me.

In India, teachers’ Day is celebrated on September 5 each year with a great sense of respect for teachers. Marking the birth anniversary of the timeless teacher and former President of India – Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, who made great contributions towards the Indian education system, it is celebrated with various cultural events culminating with teachers receiving gifts from many of their students. While this day is not as big a holiday as others, it remains an important day to celebrate those educators who have guided us, like beacons of light.

— Priscilla K. Carroll, Esq., USA Dear Editor, Thanks for sending me your magazine Culturama. I really love the articles and look forward to every edition.

— Amrita Chowdhury, Associate Director, Harvard Business School India Research Center Dear Editor, There was a lot to read in your August issue and a lot to learn. — Aarthi Viswanathan, Singapore

Dear Editor, It was great to see your magazine and I would love to subscribe! Please let me know what the procedure is. — Sulaiman

Dear Sulaiman, Thank you for your interest in our magazine. We have added you to our list of subscribers and you will receive a monthly copy of the magazine. We look forward to your readership. — From the desk

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Back to School With the bustling crowds, traffic jams, and bare shelves in every store, you know that it is back-to-school time in the United States! The beginning of September marks the mad rush to collect school supplies, finish summer work and settle into a routine for the new school year. The younger children groan at the looming headaches of homework and tests, whereas university-bound students look forward to the newfound freedom and creating an identity separate from their parents. The anticipation and the excitement create an atmosphere like none other, with even parents and teachers scrambling to organise and finish their work before sunset. Despite the chaos involved, these late summer days are some of the most exciting as students, whether in the first grade or in university, take the first steps in defining their upcoming year.


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Before reality shows on dance, before the country embraced dance that didn’t fit the usual Bollywood mould, before this form of dance was even considered a respectable profession for men in India, there was Shiamak Davar. Lakshmi Krupa puts on her dancing shoes and chats him up‌

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dance with me WITH childlike enthusiasm for life and for the arts, Shiamak Davar, who has seen phenomenal success and has turned into somewhat of a pop phenomenon in this country, represents the rather rare successful marriage of art and commerce. After bringing his dance from the stage onto cinema in the film Dil Toh Pagal Hai and with that into the lives and imagination of the masses, Davar has steadily grown into an icon of sorts for several dancers, men in particular, who love the stage. It was singing that first drew you into the arena of performing arts, wasn’t it? How did dance then take over? Singing was my first love. As a child I would perform for my family and friends at home using a coke bottle as a mic! I did a lot of musicals and theatre during school and college. Dance happened by chance and actually it was the best thing that happened to me. While in London, I took a course in dance at the Pineapple School and found myself in dance. From there on, it turned into the very purpose of my existence. How did you take that leap into making a career out of dance for yourself? Especially at a time when you had no predecessors. When I started off, dance was not accepted at all as a credible profession, especially for men. Taking it on professionally was a definite no-no. I had to struggle a lot and I did face humiliation for choosing dance as a career. But I knew that this was

the purpose of my existence and I had to stay strong and follow my passion. My dance company stood by me like a pillar and we just trusted God. My parents always supported my dream too. When you try doing something out of the ordinary, you must persevere and make it extraordinary. People will doubt your potential, the ability to make it happen, but your intuition always guides you. When people around me were negative, it made me stronger and I wanted to keep going, and today when I see so many men join classes and take dance professionally, I feel really happy! How did the big break happen? It was Dil Toh Pagal Hai (1997), the hit Hindi film that truly put you on a pedestal where the entire country noticed you‌ Following the training at Pineapple School, I came back to start my own dance institute. With just seven students, most of who were family or friends, slowly with hard work and dedication the school grew and the word spread. Gauri Khan (Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan’s wife) was a part of my dance school and Shah Rukh insisted that I choreograph for the film Dil Toh Pagal Hai. With hesitation I finally agreed. I received a national award for it. This made me realise that people have accepted my style and there has been no looking back since then! Which have you come to enjoy more over the years? Dancing or teaching? For a dancer, the most gratifying thing is the

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Dance has the ability to touch the soul. When I dance, I feel a strong connect between the mind, body and souL

ability to connect with the audience and the energy they, in turn, give back. And I love doing that – being on stage, singing, dancing and performing. But the amount of creative satisfaction and inner contentment that teaching gives you is unsurpassable. This year with my One Year Program, an intensive dance course, I spent hours teaching every day and the joy I got out of doing this was unreal. It is the love of my students and their commitment that keeps me going. What does dance mean to you and what has the most important learning been? Dance has the ability to touch the soul. When I dance, I feel a strong connect between the mind, body and soul. It is a way of life, for me and helps me disconnect from worries and gives me peace; it is therapeutic. Dance is my passion, profession and purpose of existence. To dancers, I have this to say – be yourself no matter what others say! If you truly believe that you have the passion, then live it. But there are no shortcuts, you need to get the

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correct training and pass on the right knowledge. Half-baked knowledge will only yield half-hearted results. And most importantly, be original; find your own identity through dance! Today, society has opened up various avenues for a successful career. Dance is a booming industry and there is tremendous scope for growth. Members of my dance company not only teach dance but travel with me all over the world for shows and films, and also take up administrative responsibilities. With the right training and platform, dance can be a great career option. Those who can make their passion their profession are blessed indeed. What are you currently working on? I recently finished choreographing the IIFA Awards. My classes started recently in London and the students had their first show, Summer Funk. My trip to London was like completing a circle as that is the place where I began my career, and with Middlesex University honouring me with a Doctorate, I was truly humbled. So there is something happening

constantly. I will be working on a music album and I’m also looking at directing a film in the near future. Although my dance school will always be my focus! We hear spirituality is also close to your heart… My spiritual guides The Bhavnagiris have had the strongest influence on my life. They have been my guiding force and have shown me the right path and given me the strength. Their book, The Laws of the Spirit World written by Khorshed Bhavnagiri, is the best thing that happened to me. I believe in a balanced life and enjoying the simple things. God is in the details and we are all sparks of Him. We must understand our purpose of existence and work towards a higher goal, and most importantly we must always do the right thing. The Bhavnagiris helped me realise the power of dance and today when I look back at my childhood, everything falls into place and all I have to ensure is that I keep walking along the right path, spreading the joy of dance.


A to Z of India

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

Gravy train

Avial – An assortment of vegetables, curd and ground coconut make this thick curry a vital side dish at Kerala feasts as it complements most breads and rice.

Appam or aappam hoppers – Relatively bland, bowl-shaped, SouthIndian pancakes made of rice batter, eaten with a coconut-based curry. Bebinca – A traditional Goan pudding made of ghee, sugar, flour and coconut milk, and consists of 16 layers – each layer baked separately!

Chaat – Spicy, sweet and sour fast food using an assortment of crispy fried breads and savouries with potatoes, onions and curd.

Dosa – The most common South Indian pancake made out of rice flour batter and cooked on a hot griddle till it becomes crispy brown.

Mango Pachadi – A South-Indian sweet and sour chutney made from raw mango, jaggery, coconut and other spices.

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A glossary of select delectable vegetarian dishes from across India

Bajji and Bonda – A great pan-Indian deep fried snack – chilli, potato, sliced onions or bananas are dipped in spicy batter and deep fried in oil.

Kolukattai – A vegan sweet version of the Chinese momos, this dumpling is stuffed with grated coconut, jaggery and nuts, and is made during Ganesh Chathurthi. Khakra – A plain or flavoured crispy, roasted wheat flatbread of Gujarati origin that can be eaten plain or with chutneys.

Kulfi – The thicker and creamier Indian variant of ice cream made from condensing large amounts of milk and sugar.


Nimbu Paani – Better known as lemonade, it is a great heat buster and in India is also made in ginger, salt and mint flavours. Dahi Mirchi – Made by repeatedly alternating between soaking red chillies in curd and drying them in the sun for 3–4 days. The chillies are fried before eating.

Podis – South Indian spiced powders that can be mixed with oil or ghee and taste great with rice or dosa. It is a specialty of Andhra cuisine.

Murukku – A crispy snack that has varieties traversing the length of the country. It is made by deep frying a stringy, spiral or flattened shape of urad and rice flour batter.

Sarson (mustard greens) ka saag – A Punjabi curry made with mustard green, spinach and butter served with rotis.

Sambar – The most common vegetable stew that constitutes a part of any meal. It is made of lentils, dals and vegetables with a dash of tamarind pulp, but is not clear like rasam.

Sandesh – A Bengali sweet made with milk and sugar and is called pranahara (literally meaning heart stealer) in parts of Bangladesh – another place it is home too. Rasam – A clear tamarind-based soup made with vegetables and lentils that can be drunk as a soup or served with rice.

Vathal – This Indian alternative to chips is made by deep frying dried and moulded rice dough. It can be eaten plain and also accompanies different rices.

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Sabudhana khichidi – In this Maharastrian version of the traditional khichidi (made of rice and lentils), sabudhana or tapioca is substituted for the rice.

Vadai – Made of a lentil, potato or gram flour batter, this deepfried, South Indian doughnut-shaped snack tastes best dunked in sambar or when served with chutney.


India on a Platter

t eam c u lt u rama

wanting wantons

Sikkim, one of the north-eastern states of India, is as famous for its stunning views and monasteries as it is for its Momos!

CLAIMING the native title in countries all over the world, it has taken on various shapes, sizes and stuffing, and has undergone a variety of cooking styles, including boiling, steaming and frying. This versatile actor on the culinary stage has been known to make cameo appearances anytime during a meal, from the appetiser to the dessert and even as just a snack. It has a hectic tour schedule, jetting from the Caribbean to Eastern Europe to the Far East and changing its stage name wherever it goes – the Turkish manti, the Korean mandu, the Jewish kreplach, the Japanese takoyaki, the Chinese jiaoji, the Slavic pierogi, and even the Italian gnocci. If you haven’t already guessed, we are referring to the internationally acclaimed, yet homely and comforting dumpling. While the origins of another extremely popular variation of the dumpling – the momo – may be traced back to cross-border migrants, the Indian food map locates its origins in the North East of the country, specifically the state of Sikkim. Home to the mighty Kanchenjunga mountain, the low temperatures of this region call for a heady local brew to warm the body and mind. Fermented beverages made from locally available grain are served as a complement to a meal. Made by placing fermented rice, maize, millet, wheat, barley or cassava in a bamboo cup and topped up with warm water, this potent concoction is likely to leave you abuzz. Bordering China, Nepal and Bhutan, both noodles and rice are staples in this region. Dairy products from yaks and buffaloes are commonly consumed, and their meat is often incorporated into many of the dishes, including the momo – also called Sikkimese wontons (see recipe). Served with a piquant sauce, minced meat is not an essential ingredient in this dish and it can easily be substituted with finely chopped vegetables. This local manifestation of the dumpling – the quintessential global citizen – has made its home on India’s multi-ethnic, multi-cultural menu and from its immense popularity; it seems to be here to stay.

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Recipe Momo Ingredients • • • • • • • • • • •

2 cups flour Salt to taste Water 1/2 kg pork mince 1 large onion chopped very fine 8—10 cloves of garlic chopped very fine 3 tbsp soy sauce 1 tbsp chilli sauce 1 tsp freshly ground pepper Salt to taste 3 tbsp cooking oil

Method - Mix the flour with 2 cups of water and knead into a stiff paste, roll out on a floured board till very thin. - The rolled dough should be about 2 feet square. - Cut circles with the rim of a cup. - Place a circle of dough on your hand, slightly stretch the edges and place about a teaspoon of filling in the centre. With your thumb and forefinger, pleat the dough together over the centre of the meat, forming a pin-wheel design. - Use your other thumb to tuck the minced meat down as you go, turning the dumpling on your palm as you go along. - Place the dumplings in a steamer over boiling water and steam for 20-25 minutes. • Serve piping hot with pickle.

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Quick Bytes ▪ Thukpa/Gya-thuk is a typical Tibetan style noodles in soup that is very popular in Sikkim. ▪ Fermented foods are an integral part of Sikkim’s cuisine. Try Kinema, which is a traditionalfermented soybean food; Gundruk and Sinki made from fermented vegetables; Chhurpi, a fermented dairy product; Mesu, a traditional fermented bamboo shoot; and Masauyra, a fermented black gram.

Seasonal Fruits Chikoo/Sapota Where: Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, between December and March. What: It is packed with vitamins, minerals and large amounts of tannin – an antioxidant, and is fat free.

▪ The cuisine of Sikkim has influences from Nepal, India, Bhutan and Tibet.

In the Kitchen Cottage cheese will remain fresh longer if the container is stored upside down in the fridge. Defrost frozen chicken by soaking in heavily salted, cold water. Meat will be pure and white. Add a pat of butter or a few teaspoons of vegetable oil to the water while boiling pasta, to prevent the pasta from sticking together

When: An unripe chickoo is hard to touch and is not ripe till it becomes softer and attains a brownish-peach colour. How: Cut the fruit in half and scoop out the brown flesh pulp using a spoon. Care must be taken to avoid swallowing the seeds of this fruit


Feature

L ak s h m i K r u pa

Salaam Alaykum Photo Graham ranger, UK 22

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The Taj Mahal, Mughlai cuisine, Lucknowi ghazals, Sufi music from the northwestern parts, the many tombs and forts… It is quite possible to feel overwhelmed by the many iconic Islamic elements in India and dwell in them for long, reducing your experience to touristy clichés. But beneath the veil of history, and not merely as reminders of a glorious past, lie Islamic traditions of today – an amalgamation of continuity and change in a postcolonial, democratic and rapidly globalising country.

Islam in popular culture, particularly in the subcontinent has always borne a mystical, romantic position. Where poets in the Urdu language immortalised loves—with their words, where the cuisines of Muslims continue to appeal to the palates of locals and others alike, where Sufi music transcends religious barriers. Mysticism is just one of the many facets of this religion. Here, we look at the basic traditions of the religion in a bid to gain an introduction to the workings of Islam. Traditional greeting As-salamu Alaykyum is the traditional greeting offered when one Muslim encounters another. A gesture of faith and brotherhood. But over time, in India the salutation meaning 'may peace be upon you' has been shortened and Salaam Alaykum is now an accepted greeting. Not just among Islamic brothers but even when anyone else encounters a Muslim, as a mark of respect. Lunar calendar An important similarity between the two major religions of the country is that both Islam and Hinduism follow the lunar calendar. The Islamic year consists of 354 days beginning with the month of Muhurram. The tenth day of the month is an important occasion when Muslims mourn the loss of Husayn, the son of Ali. Parades featuring self flagellation with replicas of Husayn’s tombs just as in other parts of the world are prominent in India. In the month of Ramzan (or Ramadan), the last day is observed as Id al Fitr (feast of breaking the fast). It is observed as a national holiday in India. Bakr Id (feast of sacrifice) another major holiday, starts on the tenth day of the Islamic month of Dhul Hijjah. Weddings In a traditional Islamic wedding – nikkah – the men and women are seated in different rooms. After the ceremony the bride dons a nose ring. In South India, a wedding necklace is worn by the bride. The ceremony is completed when the groom offers a proposal and the bride accepts the same. The bride and groom are seated next to each other after the proposal has been accepted, but look at each other for the very first time, after the wedding, through a mirror. The Nikaahnaama is the registered marriage contract. A legally accepted Nikaahnaama is signed by the bride, the bridegroom, the Walis (fathers of the bride and groom), and the Maulvi (priest). A lot of cultural similarities may be observed between the North Indian Hindu and Muslim weddings. The mehendi ceremony held at the bride’s home a day or two before the wedding, the baarat – procession in which the groom is taken around the streets), applying turmeric to the bride’s face in a bid to get her to glow on her D- Day.

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Photos Michelle Klakulak, USA

The tradition of Saints Islam owes much of its character to the mystics who settled in India from circa 12th century. It all began when Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, also known as Gharib Nawaz, arrived from Iraq and made Ajmer his home. His message of love, peace, brotherhood and spirituality struck a chord with the locals and his name spread far and wide. To this day, the Ajmer Urs that commemorates the death anniversary of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisthi is observed with great solemnity, and hundreds of pilgrims and tourists arrive there to participate in the event. You can listen to Indian musician AR Rahman's tribute to the saint with his song Khwaja mere khwaja! What caught the imagination of the masses in those times as far as this tradition was concerned was the complete submergence of the soul in the divine and the message of equality it offered. Particularly when caste, class and religious divides were rampant. Kabir, the mystic poet, is another famous symbol of harmony promoting brotherhood between Muslims, Hindus and Sikhis. He's believed to have been born circa 1348. In fact, the tradition of Sufiism in Islam is inextricably linked with the tradition of the Bhakti Movement in Hinduism that ushered in a new era in spirituality, harmony and literature. In South India, the Bhakti Movement is considered responsible for the resurrection of both the Tamil language and Hinduism.

Islamic Cuisine You may not fast if you aren’t a Muslim but you sure would have sampled the Biriyani after the holy month of Ramzan, in India. Islamic cuisine is much loved not just by Muslims but almost everyone here. The Mughlai cuisines of Hyderabad with a hint of cardamom, the spicy kebabs of North India, the many mutton-based dishes – particularly Rogan Josh from Kashmir... Community dining and sharing their cuisine come very naturally to the generous Muslims.

Photo Candy Noad, UK 24 culturama | september 2011


Look who’s in Town France

delhi

chennai

uk

Sylvie Sala and Marc Dubarry Manager of a French Company

Pat Russell SIPL

My India, My Country Similarities: Language, cricket, obsession with class, congested roads. Dissimilarities: Almost any other sport, driving techniques, leisure activities, multiple languages. My Favourite Indian It has to be The Buddha! As a practising Christian, I think there is a lot in the reflective nature of Buddhism that can be absorbed. It would probably help to achieve a better insight into the Indian psyche. I need to find out more. My Indian Cuisine I was already familiar with Indian cuisine before I came here. We even have a South Indian restaurant in my home town. I just want to try anything I haven’t tasted before. My India Insight Like: Welcoming friendly attitude of almost anyone I meet. Tremendous hospitality. Dislike: Refusal to say 'no' to things when they can’t be produced. The amount of litter, particularly on the beaches, spoiling what would be a fantastic amenity. My Tip to India We prefer the word 'no' to being misled. That way we know where we stand. We find it hard, in the early stages at least, to relate to the Indian cultural way of interacting.

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My India, My Country Cricket is not very well known in France, but the Indian passion for this sport is very similar to the French enthusiasm for football! Also good news to our ears: there are as many bank holidays in India as in France… or maybe more! My Favourite Indian The Big B. (Amitabh Bachchan) He is amazing: he can act in 3 films at the same time! My Indian Cuisine We love Butter Chicken and Dal Makani and eating spicy food is very good to keep mosquitoes away! We also enjoy Indian desserts, especially the kheer from Karim’s in Old Delhi. My India Insight Women in sarees are really beautiful. But as a man, I think it's not easy for me to go up and strike a conversation with an Indian woman… unless I disguise myself in a saree! We also like the respect shown to elders by Indian people. My Tip to India Shaking hands is a kind of reflex when I am introduced to someone.


germany

mumbai

bengaluru

Norway

Simone Preuss

Freelance writer, translator and intercultural trainer

Hilde, Roar, Kaja and Malin Skomakerstuen

My India, My Country There are more similarities than differences between the Indian and German cultures. Family is important to both countries – just that Indian families tend to include the extended family as well, whereas Germans focus on the nuclear family. Sports is also popular in both countries. And not to forget food – both get very emotional about food.

My India, My Country Norway is a small country far north and there are big differences with respect to population and climate.

My Favourite Indian Being a writer, for me this would have to be Rohinton Mistry. I remember reading “Such a Long Journey” and then “A Fine Balance” – books that blew me away with their level of detail and masterful storytelling. Although the topics described are not always pleasant, Mistry never evokes pity but understanding for the persons involved. Great books for anyone who wants to dive further into the Indian psyche!

My India Insight We like the friendliness that all Indians have shown us.

My Indian Cuisine Snacks such as dahi puri and Indian teas like Assam and Nilgiri are a delight. I recently discovered ragi dosa – yum!

My Favourite Indian One of my favourites is Sachin Tendulkar. My Indian Cuisine We love Indian food. Everything from dosa for breakfast to Tikka Masala for dinner.

The driving culture could definitely improve. If the drivers would stick more to the regulations I think traffic could flow more smoothly. My Tip to India Be open and honest. If you don’t understand what we mean, please ask again. When we meet, we like a firm handshake and direct eye contact.

My India Insight What I admire most about Indians is their patience, level of endurance and ability to improvise. At the same time, “working around” and “adjusting” to many things such as road conditions, public transport, sanitation and so on hampers change. My Tip to India When interacting with any “foreigners” – remember that we are Mumbaikars (Deliites, Bangalorians, etc.) first and that we’re all in it together, so be a little more inclusive and don’t label us as “foreigners” forever – I know quite a few who are more Indian than Indians! culturama | september 2011

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Bursting the Bubble

Ia n W a t k i n s o n

festive fervour

Photos: Ian Watkinson

Festivals are often deeply rooted in common language, subtle shared archetypes and tradition, and are meant to serve as reminders to humanity that our own personal spirituality and survival are forever rooted in the greater machinations of the universe, and in Mother Nature

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culturama | september 2011


India has long been seen as a fountainhead of spirituality and philosophy, going back millennia, analysing, pondering upon and observing the wonders of the universe whilst interacting with the astonishing gift of human consciousness. India presents a secular spiritual landscape; a unity of spirit that transcends the boundaries of the many faiths followed by her citizens, who thrive and coexist in India unlike any other nation on earth. By absorption, osmosis and logic the margins of these faiths are blurred giving way to an understanding of the interconnectedness of all mankind and the natural world we inhabit, the very essence of a spiritual unity. In the West, the approach is more singular, isolated, and spirituality in individuals is often hard to see. Remote and separated notions of deity replace personal spiritual experience and make the process objective and externalised; disconnected from the human heart and mind, a consumerism of the soul. In India, people from all faiths will focus on the idea of unity, of one – that underly the seemingly different methods of approach from individual creeds there is a commonality of purpose which unifies us all. And that unity of humanity is found in the heart of every individual, not externally and extrapolated from personal experience but internally realised. For years, Westerners have turned to India looking for spiritual guidance – an extension of the embedded externalisation of their own spirituality that persists within Western culture, seeking answers from the outside. The irony here is that their spiritual nature exists within their own hearts and minds by default – it’s just a matter of realisation, not of location. The issuing of the universe from a singularity, a unity, before the notion of space and time, often defeats our comprehension and yet is a wonder we are all continually intertwined with. For within this maelstrom, which is still unfolding every second, shines the truly remarkable consciousness of man. Consciousness is a gift that allows us to be part of this dynamic universe; to observe and participate in its workings and marvel at its beauty. Our spirituality blossoms by focussing on this wonder in all its forms, and by realising the holistic nature of all and everything – issuing from one, and as one it still exists, creating everything from the billions of galaxies in space to the complex cellular structure of the smallest amoeba as it unfolds. So it is natural for man to wish to celebrate this gift, this incredible journey we are making day by day, everyday. Everyday – indeed every unique passing moment – in the unfolding of the flower the universe deserves its own celebration, its own festival, and its own veneration. Festivals can trace their roots back globally, back into the mists of time, to pagan days of old when humankind felt far greater entropy

and interconnectedness with Mother Nature and the stars than it does today. Festivals are often deeply rooted in common language, subtle shared archetypes and tradition, and were meant to serve as reminders to humanity that our own personal spirituality and survival is forever rooted in the greater machinations of the universe, and with Mother Nature. Awareness and celebration of this matrix was embedded in daily life. Festivals aim to show our place in the scheme of the universe and elicit a greater understanding of our own spiritual nature and how to have control over the negative forces such as greed, ignorance, lack of compassion and selfishness that can rule our lives at the expense of our own spiritual development and of the well-being of others. The coming month sees several important festivals celebrated in India, as well as in more distant lands – Ramadan, Ganesh Chathurthi, Onam and later Navaratri. Ramadan has its roots in pagan tradition, originally paying homage to the moon. This festival can be traced back to Babylon 2,500 years ago. Cultural absorption into the Muslim tradition has given us Ramadan, when Muslims refrain from eating, drinking and sexual activity during the daytime. The message here is one of humility, gratitude, sacrifice and equality – how we should be grateful for our food, our water, our relationships, and not take them for granted. They are a gift from Nature, as is everything in life. Ganesh Chaturthi is the Hindu festival to celebrate the birthday of Ganesh. In the word "Gana", "Ga" means intellect, and "Na" means wisdom. So Ganapathi or Ganesh can be seen as an archetypal iconic symbol of human intellect and wisdom. These too are gifts to every single human being, and the festival, at a spiritual level, is a celebration of those gifts, of the birth and evolution of man’s consciousness, his ability to think, to reason. Christians in Europe celebrate the Harvest Festival in September, which is also tied to the planets, to the equinox, when day and night are of equal length. In Kerala, the festival of Onam is similarly celebrated to give thanks for the rice harvest. Navaratri at the end of September too is a celebration of Mother Nature’s powers. These three festivals are of great antiquity, and give thanks to Gaia – the primordial and archetypal Mother of Nature that underpins them all. So we should consider as we spin through space and time that everyday is a celebration, a festival, not only of gratitude to Nature for our health, food and family but also for our consciousness, our ability to observe the universe, to think, to love – a celebration of life, of being, of unity. "We come spinning out of nothingness, scattering stars like dust." — Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi

The writer is British and lives in Chennai. culturama | september 2011

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Office

Yoga

Stretch for Two Try doing some tandem yoga when you need to take a breather from a project. Avoid discussing business while doing this exercise. You’ll get the ideas flowing after you finish. Face your partner and stand about two feet apart. Link your arms together, just above the elbows. Slowly bend forward with your arms interlaced, while taking little steps backward. Go slowly and take deep gentle breaths. Form a human table. Allow your shoulders to relax and chest to open. Sit down on the floor, facing your partner.

When ready, slowly step forward and rise up together.

Stretch your legs out, so that the soles of each person’s feet are touching. Reach out and interlace hands with your partner. Inhale and exhale in unison, assisting each other to stretch further. Relax and enjoy the stretch. Take turns stretching forward and back in a see-saw motion until you feel revived. Go slow and let your body relax into the stretch. Courtesy: Darrin Zeer “America’s relaxation expert!” –CNNwww.HappyYoga.ME

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culturama | september 2011


Ind ia Snapshot t h r o u g h P a s cal R e y n a u d ' s le n s

Do we have to pay toll to use the roads in India?

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culturama | september 2011

Not if you’re four-legged!


Portrait of India Uddanda Ganapathy (Punisher of Evil) - In this avatar of Ganesh, he is depicted with Shakti (the personification of power) on his lap and his 10 hands holding sugarcane, a pot of gem, paddy, a rudraksh, a lily, a blue lotus, a pomegranate, a tusk and a mace – the gadha. Considered to be the Remover of Obstacles and the Lord of beginnings and success, he also symbolises humility, sacrifice and the continuous pursuit of knowledge and is often shown with his mount, a mouse. Turn to Pg 58 for details on Ganesh Chathurthi, the 10-day-long festival honouring the God.

Courtesy: ‘Art Heritage of India: A Collector’s Special’, published by ‘L&T - ECC & ECC Recreation Club’. culturama | september 2011

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CALENDAR CHENNAI THEATRE & MUSIC

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

aRT & EXHIBITION Painting Exhibition by Artist Yogesh Kasera September – All month Yogesh has worked for Smith Sonian Folk Art Life and with senior designer Rajeev Sethi at the Festival, Washington D.C. Apparao Galleries, Ground Floor, No 7, Wallace Gardens 3rd Street. Contact 044 28332226

SPECIAL - THE PARK’S NEW FESTIVAL 2011 Prakriti Foundation presents The Park’s New Festival 2011, the only national contemporary performance arts festival in India. Maya Krishna Rao September 21 Maya Krishna Rao lends a new dimension to contemporary Indian theatre – both on and off stage. She is one of the very few woman stand-up comedians in India. Museum Theatre, Pantheon Road, Egmore Parijat Desai Dance company September 22 Choreographer Parijat Desai integrates the sculptural lines, intricate rhythms and theatricality of Indian dance with the full-bodied movement and conceptual experimentation of modern. Museum Theatre, Egmore DNOAX September 23 Hip Hop is no longer the identity of one race, country or continent. Under their own record label Desi Media Networks, 15 rappers get together as DNOAX (Desi Number One Artistes X) making Hip Hop a universal phenomenon Pasha, Park Hotel, 601, Anna Salai Tagore on Vinyl – Travelling with Thakur September 24 Sandra finds traces that lead her to the work of Rabindranath Thakur. Between overlapping layers of exploration and memory, a very personal dialogue with Rabindranath Thakur’s work emerges, in part in the form of dance, in part as text and in part as video. Museum Theatre Best of Short and Sweet – A collection of six 10–minute plays September 25 Museum Theatre Contact Prakriti Foundation for more details on the Parks New Festivals at No. 1, 9th Floor, C Block, Gemini Parsn Apartments, Anna Salai. 044 45904707 Email : prakritifoundation@gmail.com

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Indulgence - An Installation September – All month A crossover of two women’s wardrobes as an installation; with sound installations by artists and antique sculptures and assorted decorative crafts of yester year relating to adornment. Apparao Galleries Contact 044 28332226

wORKSHOPs & EVENTs September- All month, Tuesday & Thursday, 6:30 am – 7:30 am Zumba is so much fun that it does not feel like a workout at all, it just feels like your having a blast at a party! The work out is based on body movement and swaying to different Latin beats. Ages 16 to 60 years. Cost Rs. 1,570 Vanilla place, R.A.Puram

FOOD & SHOPPING

wORKSHOPs & EVENTs Mathematics Preparation Programme September–Saturdays, 2 p.m. - 5 p.m. The programme is conducted by the Science Olympiad Foundation to develop the child’s confidence and ability to solve math problems using worksheets, quizzes, puzzles and word problems. Hansel & Gretel, 11 Jagadambal Street T.Nagar, Contact 044 28152549 / 9840431549 Dancing Beans by The Dance Port September- All month, Saturday & Sunday, 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. The Dancing Beans workshop is on and the kids are having a blast learning freestyle dancing workshop through hip-hop dance moves. This is the perfect workshop to get even the shyest child dancing right out of his shell! Ages 5 to 10 years. Cost – Rs. 1,800 per child. Vanilla place, No. 89, Bishop Garden, Greenways Road, R.A.Puram. Contact 044 4206 6660. ZUMBA... A fitness party!

Peek-a-boo September – All month Peek-a-boo Patterns is launching their new collection of furnishing accessories this Independence Day called “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil!” Designed specially to enable every child to feel patriotic and live with the principals of life gifted by Gandhiji in the most enjoyable manner. Express avenue mall, Contact 044 28464091 The Rainbow Collection September – All month, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. A collection of georgette, crepe & chiffon in bright and happy colours of the rainbow. Also find exquisitely embellished cholis to mix and match & enhance your attire for this festive season. Shilpi, 29, C.P.Ramaswamy Rd,Alwarpet. Contact 044 24997526, 'Gopura' Jumkas by Damini September 8-20, 10.30 a.m-8 p.m. Inspired by the two golden Gopurams that house the main deities at the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple in Madurai, these magnificent, temple jumkas that come in colours of deep maroon, green and ruby red have elaborate, artistic, engravings of birds and flowers on the upper half. Damini, No 20, Arunachalam Road, Kotturpuram Contact 044 42188774 Palmyra Home - New Collection September – All month A new line of Coffee Tables made from repurposed teak rafters, Rosewood Candle Stands from antique bed posts, mirror collection in teak, rosewood and art deco frames. Palmyra Home


CALENDAR BENGALURU THEATRE & MUSIC Chalte Chalte September 10, 6.30 p.m. Chalte Chalte, a soulful musical journey with Abhijeet. The hit machine of the 90s, has rendered his soothing voice to Shahrukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Anil Kapoor, Akshay Kumar. Chowdiah Memorial Hall, Malleshwaram Live concert by Sonu Nigam September 10, 6 p.m. Catch the Hindi Bollywood crooner Sonu Nigam live in concert. Tripura Vasisni Gate, Windsor Manor road, Palace Grounds. SPECIAL – THE PARK’S NEW FESTIVAL 2011 Prakriti Foundation presents The Park’s New Festival 2011, the only national contemporary performance arts festival in India.

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

aRT & EXHIBITION Women’s Expo September 9, 9 a.m. – 8.30 p.m. The expo showcases the latest in lifestyle, beauty, health and wellness and also highlights health products and services for proper child care and development. Koramangala Indoor Stadium, Koramangala Inside Outside Mega show September 29, 11 a.m. The event will take place over duration of four days and will set new standards of design and innovation with the participation of international players. Over 100 exhibitors and 3000 visitors are expected to attend the event. Palace Grounds, Jayamahal Road

FOOD & SHOPPING

Parijat Desai Dance company September 16 Choreographer Parijat Desai integrates the sculptural lines, intricate rhythms and theatricality of Indian dance with the full-bodied movement and conceptual experimentation of the modern.

Signatures September 10, Lunch and Dinner Continue to discover the new Thai Chef, Sakphon’s Signature. Savor a refreshing salads, stirfries, satays and traditional curries. The Oberoi, MG Road

DNOAX September 17, 7 p.m. Hip-Hop is no longer the identity of one race, country or continent. Under their own record label Desi Media Networks, 15 rappers get together as DNOAX (Desi Number One Artistes X) making Hip Hop a universal phenomenon. Park Hotel, 14/7, Bhaskaran Rd, Ulsoor Maya Krishna Rao September 18, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Maya Krishna Rao lends a new dimension to contemporary Indian theatre – both on and off stage. She is one of the very few woman stand-up comedians in India. Ranga Shankara, No. 36/2, 8th Cross, 2nd Phase , J P Nagar Contact Prakriti foundation for more details at No. 1, 9th Floor, C Block, Gemini Parsn Apartments, Anna Salai. 044 45904707 Email : prakritifoundation@gmail.com

Dark and dreamy September 7, Lunch and Dinner Chef Anurag lets the flamed coco to be his muse. Indulge in his masterpiece like chocolate and hazelnut delight, texture of chocolate or a chocolate and candied ginger tart. The Oberoi, MG Road

wORKSHOPs & EVENTs Discover Bengaluru through Sketching September 4, 10a.m.–12.30 p.m. Learn to sketch using pencil, charcoal, Ink and sketch book, explore interior space, atmosphere, light and the human figure and basic drawing skills. Over 10 Sundays at 10 different locations across Bengaluru. Art House, Nagarabhavi, 416, 1st Cross, ISEC Main Road Dandeli Wildlife Experience September 9 Catch a glimpse of the rare black panther as flying snakes glide across canopies just above your camp as the Kali river meanders through the forest right outside your tent. Activities include trekking, rafting, bush whacking, wildlife tracking, birdwatching, nightwalks and photography. Wishbone, No. 617, 2nd ain, 1st Stage, HAL 2nd Stage, Indiranagar Discover Bengaluru through Photography September 18, 10 a.m. – 12.30 p.m.

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culturama | september 2011

Discover Bangalore through Photography, a workshop on all aspects of photography. 6 week classes on 6 Sundays at indoor and outdoor classes Art House, Nagarabhavi

Middle-Eastern Festival September 8, 7 p.m. Think mouthwatering mezze platters, taste bud enticing pita breads, dips and cocktails to take you to the tranquil sunsets of the Arabian deserts. Persian Terrace, Malleshwaram

Salmon Special September 17, Dinner Chef Joydeep presents a culinary tapestry of European Specials. Delight in the likes of Salmon tartar, house smoked with asparagus, horse radish and roe or slow cooked with citrus lobster butter and fennel. The Oberoi, MG Road


CALENDAR MUMBAI THEATRE & MUSIC

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

aRT & EXHIBITION

Last year at Marienbad (French film with English subtitles) September 21, 7 p.m. A man approaches a woman claiming they met the year before at Marienbad though she insists they have never met while her husband intervenes. The film travels through ambiguous flashbacks and disorientating shifts of time and location. Entry Free on first come first basis Prithvi Theatre, 20.Janki Kutir, Juhu Church Road Contact 022 26149546 THE CLAY BIRD September 26, 7 p.m. The Clay Bird tells the story of a family torn apart by religion and war. Touching upon themes of religious tolerance, cultural diversity and the complexity of Islam, the film has universal relevance in a crisisridden world. Entry free on first come first basis Prithvi Theatre

Capoeira Class September, Children: 6 p.m.–7 p.m., Beginners: 7 p.m.-8.30 p.m. Monitor Baba and 'Cordao De Ouro India', India’s first Capoeira group brings to you a Brazilian form of dance and martial art. S. S. Sahani School, 18th Road, Khar (W). Contact 98690 55371

Group Show – Cube September 1—14, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Catch a group show 'Cube', by Satish Gujral, Nanda Gopal, S Paresh Maity, Sakti Burman and K S Radha Krishnan in Myriad mediums. The Art Musling, No.1, Admirality Building, Colaba Cross Lane, Colaba Contact 022 22163339 Lofty assimilation – Painting Show September 1—15, 6.30 p.m. – 11 p.m. Tulika Ladsariya's work is inspired by the contrasts and extremes of urban cities- their construction, how inhabitants react to them and how they affect the natural environment. Jamaat, National House, Apollo Bunder, Council Hall. Contact 022 2282 0718

SOI 11th Celebrity Concert Season September The Symphony Orchestra of India (SOI) will bring to the fore the works of pianist Tamas Vasary and Stephen Kovacevich conducted by well-known conductor Evgeny Bushkov with performances including Ludwig van Beethoven’s Sonata in F minor Op. 57 Appassionata and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Romeo and Juliet Tata Theatre, Jamshed Bhabha Theatre NCPA Marg & Dorabji Tata Road, Nariman Point Contact 022 6622 3737 Wedding Album (English play) September 15-16, 9 p.m. Girish Karnad’s contemporary new comic drama, explores the traditional Indian Wedding in a globalised, technologically advanced India. On the surface it’s a joyful event, but behind the picture perfect smiles simmer long suppressed suspicions, jealousies, frustrations and aggression. Prithvi Theatre

experience in over 5,000 flights. Cost Rs.1090. H20 Netaji Subhashchandra Bose Road, Chowpatty. Contact 022 23677546

‘2’ left from here’ – Solo painting show September 1—17, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Through a diverse use of gradated colours and fluctuating lines that evoke the calculated chaos of a city with its lights, noise, and colours, Tanya Goel’s work inspires recognition of the idiosyncratic complexity of the urban fabric. Galerie Mirchandani, 16/18, Sunny House, Mereweather Road, Colaba Contact 022 2202 3030

FOOD & SHOPPING Have a Spa-rty September 1—10, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. Party at home with close friends great food and high spirits call Lotus blossom. We will provide delicious Thai food along with yummy cocktails while you and your friends get a foot massage. Lotus Blossom, Gandhinagar, Worli Contact 99676 24034 Appetizer Fest September 1—15, 12 p.m.–11 p.m. Enjoy delicious, mouth watering starters at Banyan Tree. Indulge in Indian salsa cheese pani puri, cilantro and garlic new potato, hummus trio with pita and more. Banyan Tree, Queens Mansion Building, BMB Gallery, Ground Floor, G. T. Marg, Fort, Mumbai. Contact 022 6510 9308 Amazing Thailand September 1–30 Experience amazing delicacies of Thailand and gorge on some scrumptious Thai cuisine at the Lemon Grass, Malad. (Recommended by “Tourism Authority of Thailand”). Lemon Grass Resto Bar, Shop No.106, 1st Floor, Link Road, Malad west Contact 022 2881 7444

wORKSHOPs & EVENTs Thai Cooking Classes, Radhika Khanna September, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. (Monday to Thursday) Learn to make authentic and exotic Thai food. Go through a step by step procedure of this Gourmet journey to learn a Complete Thai Meal by celebrity chef Radhika Khanna. Price: Rs.750 per head Malabar Hill, Mumbai Contact 9967624034 Parasailing September – All month If you're looking to get your adrenalin pumping, try parasailing this week! H20’s instructors have

culturama | september 2011

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CALENDAR DELHI THEATRE & MUSIC

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

aRT & EXHIBITION

FOOD & SHOPPING

Art Mart III September 23—25 Gurgaon’s Biggest Art event featuring over a 1,000 artworks from more than 100 Artists; With 40,000 sq.ft. of exhibition space for paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, mixed media, panel discussions and talks, guided gallery tours and face to face between artists, galleries and collectors. Epicentre, Gurgaon In Secrecy – photography exhibition September 1—7, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. 'In Secrecy' photography exhibition by Pallon Daruwala, Gareth Kingdon and Ronny Sen to celebrate World Photography Day! Art Heritage, Triveni Kala Sangam, 205, Tansen Marg, Mandi House, New Delhi

Musical Magic September 7, 7 p.m. Vintage songs on rare instruments by Subash Vilekar & troupe- a presentation of memorable songs of the golden era of Hindi film industry. Collab: Sarvajanik Utsav Samiti India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road, Delhi Contact 011 24682001 –09, extn 2037, 2038

Solo Painting Exhibition – Asit Kumar Patnik September 3—30, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Solo painting exhibition by Asit Kumar Patnaik. The medium of paintings are acrylic and oil on canvas. Chawla Art Gallery, Square One Mall, C-2, Saket, Delhi, Delhi Contact 044 26532077

Oktoberfest September 17—30 The popular Beer festival celebrated all over the world – sticking to the authentic dates, themes, drinks & cuisines of the original festival from Munich with, of course, the trademark TLR twist & squeeze, delicacies like Bratwurst (Pork Sausage) and Schweinebraten (Roast Pork) and crowd favorites. TLR Cafe, No.31, Hauz Khas Village, Hauz Khas, Delhi, Contact 011 46080544

Il Grande Sogno (The Big Dream) September 7—10, Il grande sogno is a film set in Italy in ’68 when young people were dreaming they could change the world, when rules were broken, love was free and everything seemed possible. Italian Embassy Cultural Centre, 50 - E, Chandragupta Marg, Chanakyapuri. Contact 011 26871901/ 03/ 04 Kathak September 15, 7:30pm On the occasion of 85th birthday celebration of Kathak Maestro Pt. Kundan Lal Gangani, Tabla recital by Hashmat Ali Khan, followed by Kathak recital by Harish Gangani, disciple of Rajindra Gangani. Epicentre, Apparel House, Sector 44, Gurgaon Contact 0124 42715000 La Passione: The Passion September 28—30 A group of assorted people, bound together by the most unlikely circumstances – staging the tale of the passion of Christ on a Good Friday in a Tuscan village, an old tradition that is still alive all over Italy. Italian Embassy Cultural Centre, Chanakyapuri Classic Milds (English play) September23—24, 7:30 p.m. A collection of six short pieces including Seduction, Porcelain and Pink, The Still Alarm, The Open Door, A Separate Peace, and A Defenseless Creature. Tickets at Rs. 400, 300 & 200 available at the venue Epicentre, Gurgaon

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Zaza Home September – All Month Get the best in home accessories, lights, cushion covers and other furnishings. This is the place for affordable and beautiful shopping for your home. 25-26 Community Centre, Zamrudpur, New Delhi Contact 011 29245076

wORKSHOPs & EVENTs Kids Art academy – Celebrate Shapes September 7—28, 4 p.m. – 5.30 p.m. (Wednesdays) Each week will focus on a different shape using a variety of art activities and art materials. Ages – 4 to 7 years. Donation: Rs. 1,000 (4 classes) Reflection Art Gallery & Studios, 40A, Shahpur Jat, Delhi, Contact 011 26495088 Rejuvenate over the weekend September, Every second and fourth Saturday Weekends are for relaxing and enjoying, so head to Fortune Select Excalibur in Gurgaon for a special weekend with your family and loved ones. The package includes breakfast buffet and dinner, welcome drink, complimentary internet. Fortune Select Excalibur, Main Sohna Road, Sector 49, Gurgaon. Contact 0124 3988444

Resaca September 1—30, 12 p.m. – 11 p.m. Celebrate everyday with its exquisite alcohol combo – Resaca, meaning hangover in Spanish style. The menu includes a wide range of liquors like Vat 69, Blue Moon Gin, Ballantines, Corona and more. Each combo includes a platter of Veg and Non Veg snacks as well. Tapas, Jaypee Vasant Continental, Vasant Vihar. Contact 011 26148800 Flower Market September – All Month Shop for fresh cut flowers at whole sale prices. Andheria More , New Delhi Tarini September – All Month A designer lifestyle store – hand embroidered linen, furniture, specialty home accessories N- Block Market, Greater Kailash- 1 Galleria Market, DLF City, Gurgaon


Photo Feature

eat. pray. live. There is no doubt that the elephant-headed god is, in a sense, India’s ambassador as far as spirituality is concerned. The most-loved, most popular and most famous of gods in a country where it’s easier to count the number of cricket fans (a billion, for those asking) than the number of gods in the Hindu pantheon. He is believed to remove all hurdles, give you plenty and make you happy and his big belly and kind elephant head have struck a chord with the world! In this photo feature we take you through the frenzy and fanfare around the celebrations of this beloved god’s birthday – Ganesh Chaturti. Remember to say, “Ganpati Bappa Morya, Pudhchya Varshi Lavkar Ya!” A popular Marathi verse that means, Oh Lord Ganesha, return next year as well. Be sure to say it when you see your neighbours take their Ganesh idol to be immersed in the ocean.

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photo: Jennifer green, USA

photo: Basia Kruszewska,USa

photo: ninna marie hogedal, Denmark

photo: nancy reiseg, USA

culturama | september 2011

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Wisdom Trail

Sr i S h i b e n d u L a h i r i

the inner Journey We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. ~ T. S. Eliot

Photo: Catherine Rose G. Torres, Philippines

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SPEED thrills. But it also kills. The pace of modern living has made it abundantly clear that this speed, this mad rush is not leading anywhere worthwhile. Life is a journey, as the famous metaphor describes. If so, why are more and more people crashing, burning out? Could it be that putting the pedal to the metal is not so sensible, after all? How do we navigate the paths of life in a sensitive and balanced way, so we enjoy the scenery outside our windows while we move towards our destination? This is where healing systems such as yoga come into the picture. As medical research has proved, yoga has immense benefits for the body as well as the mind. There are several types of yoga, with as many variants as stars in the sky. Some chiefly target the body (hatha yoga), others chiefly target the mind (raja yoga) and a few are very holistic in that they prepare the body and mind to be open to the transcendental. Kriya Yoga is an ancient, holistic Yoga system revived in modern times by Mahavatar Babaji through his disciple Lahiri Mahashay and brought into widespread public awareness through Paramhansa Yogananda's book Autobiography of a Yogi.

Living naturally

Kriya Yoga is a sophisticated method of harmonising and synchronising the natural energies of our being that enables holistic health and natural living. It is less concerned with theory or philosophy, and more with the practical means of bringing direct and transformative experience and insight. This system consists of a number of levels of Pranayama based techniques that are intended to revitalise the body and rapidly accelerate spiritual development in those who are so inclined.

The Path

The chief arena of operation of Kriya is the endocrine system in the human body. The glands of the endocrine system and the hormones they release influence almost every cell, organ, and function of our body. Modern medicine

Cleansing and energising the chakras have a purifying and healing effect on the endocrine glands which in turn lead to a comprehensive well-being.

acknowledges that almost all serious imbalances in the human body can be traced to the malfunctioning of these glands. The energy mappings of the endocrine glands, correspond to the energy centres called chakras in traditional yogic science. These chakras are psychic centres that lie along the axis of the spine as consciousness potentials. Cleansing and energising the chakras have a purifying and healing effect on the endocrine glands which in turn lead to a comprehensive well-being. In Kriya, pranayama is utilised along with visualisation techniques to revitalise and renew the body and mind. This allows meditation to happen easily. In Kriya, restoring the body to its natural state implies freeing the body from the grip of psychological residues and allowing the human organism to function smoothly and naturally. This creates a wellness that is clearly discerned by practitioners in their everyday life. The simple and easy breath control prescribed in Kriya restores lost equilibrium. No dietary restrictions are

needed for this process. Kriya gradually annihilates all the unreasonable elemental propensities present in the psychic centers of the human body (chakras), and in the case of very earnest practitioners, quickens realisation of the Formless within the form and frame of the body.

The destination

The chief objective of Kriya is to enable the practitioner to arrive at a clarity that is not entangled in thought. It helps the energy of understanding to flower so that living is not based on reaction but adequate response to whatever arises. This harmonious action is the ultimate destination of yoga. Samadhi is a state where action is without doer-ship in the psyche. This is the end of the road, if we can call it that. And strangely, the destination is nowhere other than Now, Here.

The Tradition

This ancient technique, always passed from teacher to disciple by direct instruction, is now available to spiritual seekers. It helps to learn from the right guru. Guru is a process, not a personality. This statement is to remind that Kriya is not a cult, it is a culture of sincere exploration and lived experience. There are thousands of Kriya practitioners (called kriyavans) around the world, who are a living testimony to the timelessness of this ancient science. The spiritual current that has flowed in India since time immemorial is felt strongly in the stream of Kriya Yoga. All are invited to plunge into this perennial river of wisdom.

www.kriyayogalahiri.com, has details of upcoming Kriya Initiation programmes in India and abroad. Sri. Shibendu Lahiri is a Kriya Yoga guru in the lineage of Lahiri Mahashay. He lives in Varanasi, India.

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STAR STRUCK

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

The Big Cat To those who believe that money and fame are synonymous with pomp and flair, this businessman would stand out as an exception to the rule. Although Ratan Tata is well known among the Page 3 and Bollywood circles of Mumbai, he is known to keep away from the glitz and glamour of high society life, often maintaining a low profile. Coming from a line of Indian business aristocrats did not mean that he was always seated on a golden throne. Upon his parents’ divorce when he was merely seven years old, Ratan, along with his brother Jimmy, went to live with and were brought up by their stern yet indulgent grandmother, Lady Navajbai. He went onto study at a private school in Mumbai, following which he travelled to the United States to complete his studies at Cornell and Harvard universities. He returned to India turning down an offer from IBM, to work shovelling coal at the blast furnace in a Jamshedpur Tata factory. Ratan Tata’s Midas touch turned over companies such as Nelco, raising their market share from a meagre 2% to a massive 25%; however, battling a weakening economy was no easy task and it was tough to hold on to the fruits of these mammoth efforts. In 1991, he was appointed as group chairman to the Tata company and has since made Tata a household name in India – from Steel (its primary business) to automotives, and telecommunication services to FMCG.

At the age of 73, Ratan Tata lives at his beach-facing home with his dogs. . Despite his immense wealth, he owns a small Tata car, which he drives himself to work everyday. In the year 2000, Ratan Tata was honoured with the Padma Bhushan, one of the highest civilian awards in India.

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For Ratan Tata, however, taking the bull by the horns meant going worldwide, and he is now responsible for the acquisition of world-renowned Jaguar LandRover (Britain's pride now owned by India), not to mention the tea-manufacturing giant Tetley as well as others such as Campton Place Hotel of San Francisco and Neotel of South Africa. It was almost symbolic of India’s arrival to the world. Tata proved himself not to be the average capitalist when he decided to launch a car in India that would be economical both in terms of space as well as cost to Indian people; what he had envisioned was a Rs. 1 lakh car. After many trials and tribulations, the car named the ‘Tata Nano’ was finally launched in 2009, making the record books for the cheapest car in the world, albeit not exactly at Rs. 1 lakh but at Rs.1.50 lakh. With the world under his belt, Ratan Tata now looks for the next successor to his throne.


India and I

Photos bogusia sipiora, poland 50 culturama | september 2011

B o g u s i a S i p i o ra


forgotten realm

The remains of a long forgotten and abandoned civilisation in Rajasthan comes alive

One winter sunny afternoon driving through Rajasthan, we followed the sign taking us on the dusty outskirts of Jaisalmer. Not more than 20 km from the tourist city we found Kuldhara, one of the villages abandoned under bizarre circumstances by the Paliwals community, famed for their Vedic knowledge and the ethereal beauty of their women. This interesting story of the Paliwals originated from a kingdom called Pali in the Thar Desert of India. One day, sometime in the 13th century, they moved to the erstwhile state of Jaisalmer and settled into 84 villages around the city. They were very hardworking as well as exceptionally intelligent and diligent people. They knew the art of growing waterintensive crops in the desert. They could identify areas with gypsum rock layers running under the ground surface to ensure water supply for the crops. This knowledge and their capabilities allowed them to transform sandy land into an oasis and brought about prosperity. Unfortunately for the Paliwals, prosperity caused them to become the targets of Mughal invasions. Some sources say that the Jaisalmer Prime Minister laid a lecherous eye on the chief’s beautiful daughter. This hit the pride and honour of the orthodox community. The Paliwals were brave and fought off both invasions, until the time when the Mughal invader ordered that animal carcasses be put into all

the wells that the Paliwals used. The Paliwals, staunch religious Brahmins with an already wounded honour, left the village overnight, forever. They are said to have left a death curse on the villages. Till date, the fear of anathema stops locals from venturing there. Today, Kuldhara is a heritage site with yellow stone remains that greet you as you approach the entrance. Even though the houses are ruined and only strains of stones lift the curtain on their shapes it can be noticed that they were built with a great sense of geometry and urban planning. Scientists say that the architecture of the Paliwals’ villages could be compared to developed urban colonies with grid-like street patterns and spacious houses with a cart garage in front. Highly evolved forms of houses, temples, step wells and other structures indicate the long period of development... stopped overnight! According to some sources I found online, till about 30–40 years ago all 84 villages stood just as they had been left. Then the government started distributing permits to take away the carved stones from the houses. I think this was the end of the era of the Paliwals. I wish people had known how precious the stones they took away were and how it destroyed a historical place. Wandering among that stone theatre in the light of the setting sun I experienced a magical silence and a breath of a mystical history.

The writer is Polish and has been living in Delhi for four years. culturama | september 2011

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Name Sake

Inner Space

photo Natalie Von Hoffmeister, Canada

Freeing the Self

Swatantra – this Sanskrit word can be broken down into swa and tantra. Swa takes on the meanings ‘personal’, ‘of one’s own’ or ‘self’. And by extension, to mean independence and originality, core characteristics in the development of the personality. Or on a different plane, absolute freedom! As for definitions of tantra, the most obvious is the sense of governance or control. From the point of view of control or discipline, swatantra can mean self-control. Yes, achieving perfect control over yourself or by ‘ruling yourself’. On another level, tantra is happiness – the happiness got from oneself. To achieve this happiness mandates that one has to fully know oneself. Swatantra, therefore, stands for self-determination, of the freedom got from within. And what better example of this freedom can we see than in the word ‘swami’, which translates to ‘self-realised yogi’ or ‘He who is one with his Self’. Very often used in the sense of ‘lord’ or a spiritual guide and to refer to sanysasins, who have vowed to pursue the knowledge of the Self. Other extensions of the word swa take us to swaroop – the essential nature or the true nature of Being, the real form. Or, for instance, swabhav, which brings out one’s inherent disposition or nature, or the inherent state of mind. And swadharma, which is one’s natural or innate duty (dharma) in life according to the eternal law. The word ‘Svoboda’, in Slavic languages means ‘freedom’. Isn’t that interesting?

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photo Padma Muduli, USA

A Sacred Dip Temple tanks have been a part of India’s culture and heritage for many centuries. They are stepped wells or reservoirs usually located in the vicinity of a temple. The water is considered to be sacred and people used to bathe in it to cleanse themselves of their sins before offering prayers to the deity. Among the famous temple tanks in South India is the Kapaleeshwarar temple tank in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Built in the 7th Century, it is located in Mylapore and, like most areas surrounding temple tanks, is filled with culture and history, often carrying tales that are deep rooted in Indian mythology. It is said that this is the place that Lord Shiva’s wife Parvathi did penance in the form of a pea-hen, to win his affection and be wedded to him. Apart from being used for worship, temple tanks have acted as reservoirs, sustaining entire communities. In Tamil Nadu, temple tanks gave birth to ‘riparian rights’ – the system of allocating water to those who own land around its source – making symbolic progress in groundwater management and rainwater harvesting. On finding that most temple tanks were getting depleted and becoming polluted, residents and young volunteers have of late been contributing to the cleaning and maintenance of these tanks, with efforts being directed towards creating sustainable tank conservation projects.


Holistic Living

ek n a t h e s wara n

Personal relationships are often the first casualties in a speeded-up way of life

photo Keri McLeod, USA 54

culturama | september 2011

photo: Jennifer Gillian


take time for relationships “Take time for relationships” may sound like odd advice. I have just suggested freeing time, and now I’m saying to give more time to others. And it’s true that relationships require time – sometimes a good deal of time. But it is time well spent. Take the simple question of meals. As the pace of life has accelerated, a great many of us have got out of the habit of sitting together and sharing a leisurely meal with family or friends. Often we eat alone, in a hurry, on our feet, even on the run or behind the wheel. I know people who seldom really eat a meal at all; they forage, or string together a series of snacks. This is not only the result of hurry, it adds to it. We can slow down by taking the time – making the time – to find a friend or two and create a little oasis in our day where we can shut out the pressures around us and enjoy human company. Eating together is considered a sacrament in many cultures. These simple bonds play a part in holding a society together. So even if you live alone, arrange to share a meal regularly with friends or family. I know people who live alone through choice, but who carefully maintain and nurture personal relationships by getting together with friends to prepare and enjoy meals. It is not only nutrition you are getting when you do this, but also the loving companionship shared by everyone at the table. Personal relationships, of course, not only take time, they take “quality time.” This is especially true with children, where what matters is not only the number of hours we spend but also the attention we give, the love we show, the extent to which we enter into the child’s world instead of dragging him or her into our own. Schedules are fine at the office, but children have a sense of time that is very different – and much more natural. They don’t know about appointments and parking metres and living in the fast lane, and we cannot make them understand. All we can do is hurry them along. We adults can learn to slow down enough to enter their world; it’s not their job to speed up and join ours. Where is the hurry? What period of life is more precious than childhood? If we understood its worth, we would devote ourselves to slowing down the pace of childhood instead of rushing our children out of it. The time we spend on our children while they are young will be more than repaid when they reach their teenage years.

Take Time for Reflection

Taking time to pause and reflect now and then is not only part of slowing down; it is one of the rewards, too. And because it adds to efficiency and effectiveness in any walk of life, it is a very good use of time. Of course, there are situations when immediate action is required, when there is no time to pause and think. But such situations are rare, and the best way to prepare for them is to learn to stay calm and pause to think when circumstances are pressuring us to hurry. This skill is applicable everywhere. I can give one example from my university, where final examinations observed the time limit to the minute. This naturally put students under a good deal of pressure, and most of them would start writing the moment the examination paper was put in their hands. But there were always a few who would pause to study the choice of essays, choose the ones they could answer best, and plan their time; only then would they begin to write. And generally they would do well – often better than a brighter student who plunged in to answer without thinking. Whether it is an exam, a report at work, or even just a reply to a letter, it always helps to stop and reflect over what we need to say. We need to remind ourselves to take the time for reflection, for observation, for original thinking.

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

Reprinted with permission from “The Goal of Meditation” (Blue Mountain, Spring 2009). Copyright 2009 by the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, PO Box 256, Tomales, CA 94971, http://www.easwaran.org 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 http://www.easwaran.org culturama | september 2011

55


Tales of India

Sa n g h am i t ra S h arma

THE KING OF PEACE He was known as much for his valour as for his amity

Illustration: M R Rajan

MANY legendary Indian kings delight our memory with their chivalrous and heroic deeds. One of them is the valiant and good King Vikramaditya, whose reign is remembered as one of peace and prosperity and a brilliant cultural and intellectual life. He is identified as Chandragupta II, son of Samudragupta, and reigned from around 375 AD to 415 AD. Ironically, he was not even supposed to be king. His father, Samudragupta, was succeeded by his elder son Ramagupta, a weak and ineffective man who was defeated by the Sakas, and almost signed a humiliating treaty with them in which he would have had to surrender his wife Dhruvadevi to his victorious enemy. His younger brother Chandra was so disgusted and outraged at this that disguised as a woman, he gained access to the Saka king and killed him. This action endeared him to the people, but earned him his brother’s enmity. Chandra finally deposed and killed Rama and married Dhruvadevi. Chandragupta had inherited his father’s military genius and his brilliant military conquests put an end to the Sakas, and for a time, to the domination of foreign powers in India. It was then that Chandragupta II took the title of Vikramaditya or ‘Sun of Valour’. But that is not why we remember him. In a time of war and turbulence, his reign stands out for the happiness

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and affluence of its citizens, for the law-abiding quality of life found throughout his domains. His court was a galaxy of many fine poets and dramatists whose brightest star was Kalidasa, author of ‘Shakuntala’ and ‘Meghdoot’, considered even today as one of the greatest of Indian poets and dramatists. A Chinese pilgrim – Fa-hsien (circa 400-411) – has left a vivid account of life as it was in Vikramaditya’s kingdom. He noted the peace and prosperity of the people, the rarity of crime, the mildness of punishments meted out. He talks of the beauty and splendour of the royal palace in Pataliputra and the benevolence of the moneyed classes who ran numerous charitable houses for the poor. He particularly remarked on how it was possible to travel from one end of the kingdom to the other without being attacked. He records the rising popularity of vegetarianism, and his account confirms that Hinduism as we know it today was taking strong root in the country. In the literature of the age, Vikramaditya is considered to be the incarnation of justice and the representative of Vishnu in his aspect as preserver. By all accounts, Chandragupta II as Vikramaditya lived up to expectations and his reign reminds us that to be victorious in battle is glorious, but to rule wisely and well is immortal.


5

22

8

September

Festivals of India

13

Celebrating Diversity

1

9

28

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Ganesh Chaturthi Whatever you do, don’t look at the moon tonight! During the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi, this is considered bad luck, a belief stemming from the old legend in which the moon laughed at Ganesha after he fell from the mouse he rides. Ganesh Chaturthi celebrates the birthday of Ganesha, the son of Lord Shiva and his wife Parvati. The elephant-headed god’s special day is greeted with decorations, pujas and general rejoicing. Milk, coconuts and flowers are offered to elaborate idols of Ganesha, which are usually prepared up to three months in advance. Afterwards, the idols are immersed in the ocean or other bodies of water to chants and songs that urge Ganesha to return again the next year.

Onam Girls, if you can’t wait to be married, this is the festival for you! It is believed that if unmarried girls dance around the traditional flower designs during Onam, they will soon be married and get a good husband too! Onam is a festival traditionally observed in Kerala for ten days, and celebrates the day the famous king Mahabali was released from the cycle of birth and death. The demon ruler of Kerala was tricked by Lord Vishnu and taken to the underworld. However, Lord Vishnu allowed the king to return to Kerala for one day each year, and his visit is greeted with much festivity. On the morning of Onam, the people of Kerala wear a new sari or mundu, a traditional garment similar to a dhoti. Each home is decorated with elaborate flower arrangements, which are completed with a lamp. Be sure to eat the special food on Onam called Sadhya.

Navrathri No one is too old to play with dolls! Kolu, a display of mud dolls arranged on nine steps, is an important part of the celebrations of Navrathi. The display includes representations of gods as well as entire scenes from stories like the Ramayana. Navarathri is a festival dedicated to three female deities, Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth; Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge; and Durga, the consort of Shiva. Navarathri is celebrated all over the country, but is especially important in South India, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Delhi. Navarathri literally means “nine nights”, the length of the festival. In the evenings, women gather to look at the displays put up in the houses of their neigbhours, friends and relatives.


iseries

i read

i see

Book 99 Thoughts on Ganesha Author Devdutt Pattanaik Price ` 195

Film Everybody says I’m fine (2001) Director Rahul Bose

From the author of bestselling mythological books such as The Pregnant King and Jaya, 99 Thoughts on Ganesha – Stories, Symbols and Rituals of India’s beloved elephant-headed deity, is a light read that is as engaging as it is informative. And the book even symbolically begins with the Pillayar Suzhi, a Tamil tradition of beginning with a symbol that represents Ganesh. With illustrations that bring alive the spirit of Ganesh by the author, the book has 12 parts, such as Creation, Family, Stories, Symbols, Rituals, Wisdom, and so on; a lot of thought has gone into the 99 Thoughts indeed. The book very correctly captures the essence of this God – with an immense capability to morph into anything his devotees want. No wonder then that there is Cricket Ganesh, Visa Ganapathy (a temple for Ganesh to which hopefuls wanting to study in the United States go to, to successfully complete their visa procedures) and even Dancing Ganesh. From speculating about Lord Ganesh’s possible Greek connections to his presence across Tibet, Nepal, Mongolia, Burma and Japan, the book explores the God’s presence across the world. But why 99? The book has a reason for that too. “In the game of cricket, having scored 99 runs, when a batsman stands poised on the threshold of that much coveted century, he experiences the moment that is best associated with Ganesh. Fear and uncertainty envelope him; between him and his achievement stand hurdles, both real and imaginary: a possible spin from the bowler can overwhelm him, his own anxiety can paralyse him, cheering fans can distract him. He needs divine intervention then. He needs to focus, get rid of all hurdles, perform, get the final run, and achieve what he so longs for. In other words, he needs to think of Ganapati. This book brings together 99 meditations to better understand the stories, symbols and rituals of that adorable elephant-headed Hindu god who removes hurdles and brings prosperity and peace. Known variously as Ganapati, Gajanana, Vinayaka or Pillayar, he can help all of us score a century in the game called life.” — By Lakshmi Krupa

Language English and Hindi

Actor Rahul Bose’s directorial debut revolves around the life of a young man Sikander Malik (Rehaan Engineer) who runs an elite hair salon Xen’s in Mumbai. Sikander is not just your run of the mill hairdresser and at his salon you always get more than you bargain for. With every snip of hair he listens to your inner thoughts and your deepest, darkest secrets. But Sikander did not always have this gift. As a child he lived with his musician parents until in a freak accident, a studio caught fire and both his parents were tragically killed. Upon recovering from the tragedy, he finds that he has the strange, wonderful and yet at times scary gift of reading the minds of people upon physical contact with them. As a mélange of customers walk through his salon doors daily with their shielded lives, he discovers that Everybody says I’m fine. From the young lovers who meet every night at the salon, to the cocaine addicted Misha who sells the drug to youngsters of the colony to feed her habit; from Tanya (Pooja Bhatt), the woman who hides the fact that her husband has left her to the quirky and the eccentric one who calls himself Rage (Rahul Bose); from the abusive business man and father Mr. Mittal (Boman Irani) to his daughter Nikki – the only one who Sikander cannot read. The film travels into the suburban lives of each of them as Sikander uses his gift to help his clients in a post-modern setting with an almost dream-like feel to it. But how will Sikander reach out to Nikki while embracing his gift and will he finally find himself? — By Amreetha Janardhan


iseries

i ask

gurucool This Teachers' Day learn about the Indian traditions of teaching and the sacred teacher–student relationship. Why are gurus so important to Indians? The tradition of thought and teaching in India, from ancient times, has always been through a guru. There’s a saying Matha, Pitha, Guru, Daivam – meaning Mother, Father, Guru, God. In the scheme of everyday matters, one’s mother comes first. Then comes the father. And then the guru and only after guru, God. It was the guru’s job to introduce one to God. And so his position was most important. He is often referred to as a ladder, using which a higher state of existence and a higher awareness are reached. Why do Indians learn by heart (by rote)? It has often been a concern for everyone in India that the system here rewards rote learners more than critical thinkers. A variety of factors may have led to this – including a lack of understanding of the modern education system introduced in India by the British, unavailability of quality teachers, lack of standardised marking systems and the insistence of higher marks that is placed on students. Many educational reforms are in place currently to address this problem and encourage students to ask questions and learn in a way that enriches their lives. What happens on Teachers' Day in Indian schools? Indian schools celebrate Teachers' Day in a way that pays tribute to the hard work that these teachers put in all year long. Students are an integral part of the celebrations. While some schools

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culturama | september 2011

PHOTO Elin Wedin, SWEDEN have skits and cultural programmes where teachers and students participate together, some other schools offer the day as a rest day when students from senior classes assume the roles of principal and teachers. It offers students an insight into the lives of teachers too. How do students address teachers in schools here? Although times sure are changing and the culture of addressing teachers by their surname is slowly on the rise, for many school children in India, a teacher is always called Miss or Sir. Yet another British legacy!


iseries

i like

My Top 10 spices Although India is the land of spices, an expat chef introduces us to some exotic spices that make cuisine from his home country special.

Za'atar

An ensemble of spices namely sumac, thyme, roasted sesame seeds, marjoram, coarse salt and oregano that’s widely used in the Middle East as a topping on flat breads and also as a garnish.

Sumac

A dark purple–red berry that is finely ground. Used predominantly in Lebanon, Syria and Turkey as a marinade for meats and vegetables and also in salads.

Baharat:

A spice mixture or blend used in Arab cuisine, especially in the Mashriq area, as well as in Turkish and Iranian cuisine. Baharat is the Arabic word for 'spices' (the plural form of bahar 'spice'). The mixture of finely ground spices is often used to season lamb, fish, chicken, beef, and soups and may be used as a condiment.

Parsley

Widely used in European, American and Middle Eastern cuisine as a garnish, sauces or in marinades. Parsley acts as an anti oxidant and is good for the heart.

Ethem Aydemir

sweet and smoky flavour in mezze’s, pilaffs, meats and in desserts like the stewed fig and pear.

Basil

Known as the culinary herb. I prefer to use it fresh and added at the last minute to hot dishes to retain its pungent medicinal flavour.

Oregano

Brings out the flavour of other ingredients added to it and is best used as a marinade, garnish or a seasoning in our Shish Touk, Manakesch, Margarita Pizza and Crete Village Salad.

Paprika

Is the quintessential replacement for the spicy chilli powder and is used for its pungent taste and colour in our Hummus and Patata Brava

Nutmeg

Is usually added in marinades or for desserts for its distinctive woody flavour. Seshlek kebab and Rizagola dessert are best enjoyed because of the nutty flavour of nutmeg.

Mint

Widely used all across the world and is well known for its burst of flavour and rendering freshness and colour to a dish.

Cinnamon

Obtained from the bark of trees, this forms part of the “sweet spices”. I prefer to use it for

Ethem Aydemir from Istanbul, is the Executive Chef – Speciality Cuisines, Azulia – GRT Grand, Chennai

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culturama September 2011  

Culturama with a colourful festive special this September, joins the country in its celebrations beginning with a spectacular send off to Lo...

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