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New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Pune

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Vol. 4 No. 38

LOUNGE THE WEEKEND MAGAZINE

Asian boxing champion Suranjoy Singh is part of India’s strong squad for the Commonwealth Games.

BUSINESS LOUNGE WITH GOLDMAN SACHS’ BROOKS ENTWISTLE >Page 8

READY, STEADY, GO

Residents of Delhi, apprehensive about the Commonwealth Games, are looking for quick getaways >Page 14

THE ARTIST AS A GOOD SPORT

IS BOXING THE NEW CRICKET? THE GOOD LIFE

PIECE OF CAKE

YOUR WARDROBE, THEIR PITY

ADVENTURES WITH GINGER CREAM

SHOBA NARAYAN

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hen I took my teenage daughter for her first trip to Mumbai, I was pretty expansive. Wherever you want to go; whatever you want to do, I offered. She had one word for me: Zara. Which was how I found myself at the Palladium Mall on two consecutive days, shopping and people-watching. Ever since I saw the movie, Pretty Woman, luxury stores intimidate me. Remember that scene where Julia Roberts walks into a posh store on Rodeo Drive and the snooty saleswoman... >Page 4

Highlights from a large group show on sports and city life, which mark the Commonwealth Games in Delhi >Page 16

Sponsorships, international recognition, rising popularity and upgraded facilities— everything’s going right for Indian boxing

I

A.R. Rahman’s next is Saregama’s first LP in 13 years. What does the company’s factory preserve? We found some treasures >Page 18

>Pages 9­13

CULT FICTION

PAMELA TIMMS

may be the only expat in Delhi who doesn’t miss supermarkets although I confess it took a little while to adjust. There was the initial shock of not being able to do all my food shopping in one place—how was I supposed to get dinner on the table without a Tesco Metro on the corner? But slowly I began to appreciate a return to a more traditional way of shopping for food. Most British people can’t even remember a time when there was a greengrocer, butcher, fishmonger and baker on every high street... >Page 5

THE HOUSE OF VINYL

R. SUKUMAR

DON’T MISS

in today’s edition of

BATMAN’S ANOTHER DAY

A

n unscheduled visit to NY, some smart ordering by my friendly neighbourhood bookseller, and quick delivery by Amazon.com have meant that I have a lot of new comics to write on. It’s only fitting, given this columnist’s fondness for Batman, that the first of the next few editions of CF that will deal, almost exclusively, with reviews, be devoted to a new Batman comic that ranks alongside Batman: Year One, The Dark Knight, The Long Halloween and The Killing Joke in the pantheon of... >Page 15

PHOTO ESSAY

THE SILVER LINING


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First published in February 2007 to serve as an unbiased and clear-minded chronicler of the Indian Dream.

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2010 ° WWW.LIVEMINT.COM

VIR SANGHVI REVIEWS | LONDON RESTAURANTS­II

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LOUNGE EDITOR

PRIYA RAMANI DEPUTY EDITORS

SEEMA CHOWDHRY SANJUKTA SHARMA MINT EDITORIAL LEADERSHIP TEAM

R. SUKUMAR (EDITOR)

NIRANJAN RAJADHYAKSHA (MANAGING EDITOR)

ANIL PADMANABHAN TAMAL BANDYOPADHYAY NABEEL MOHIDEEN MANAS CHAKRAVARTY MONIKA HALAN VENKATESHA BABU SHUCHI BANSAL SIDIN VADUKUT (MANAGING EDITOR, LIVEMINT)

FOUNDING EDITOR RAJU NARISETTI ©2010 HT Media Ltd All Rights Reserved

hen well-off Indians go to London, they tend to eat Chinese. Or modern Japanese. (Think Nobu or Zuma). If no Asian option is available (and authentic Indian is always preferred), then Italian becomes a valid alternative. For years, wealthy Indians flocked to such Knightsbridge Italians as Signor Sassi and Sale e Pepe while the trendy ones went to San Lorenzo and waved cheerily at owner Mara Berni. By and large, those habits have not changed. It is still Hakkasan, Royal China and Kai that draw big-spending Indians. Rich women go to one of the two West End Nobus and sometimes to Zuma. Not much change in the Italian favourites, either. You still find rich Indians at Scalini and Santini though, of late, Locanda Locatelli, perhaps London’s best Italian restaurant, has become a favourite. I once went there for lunch and found that 30% of the tables were occupied by Indians. Few Indians go to Angela Hartnett’s “Italian” restaurants. Hartnett has been part of the Gordon Ramsay empire from the early days (she cooked at the great man’s Dubai restaurant) but got her big break when Gordon Ramsay Holdings took over The Connaught hotel. Hartnett is half-Italian so Ramsay declared that she would run a flagship Italian restaurant there. I went twice to Hartnett’s restaurant at The Connaught (which won a Michelin star) and interviewed her once. I quickly came to three conclusions. One, Hartnett is a very nice person (she cooked in India at various ITC hotels a few

NOBU/BLOOMBERG

years ago and won many fans). Two, there was nothing terribly Italian about her food. And three, no matter how talented the kitchen is, her front of the house can be a disaster. On my first visit to her Connaught restaurant, a couple of weeks after it opened, I ordered the tasting menu, a procession of complex dishes, most of them cooked firmly within the French tradition. My waiter was a loud guy who fancied himself as a wit. When one particularly complex dish arrived, I pointed to it and asked “What’s that?” “Ha”, he said loudly. “That’s a plate. “Ha. Ha. Ha!” Yes, very funny. Ramsay and Hartnett were evicted from The Connaught eventually and she now cooks at Murano (also part of Gordon Ramsay Holdings) on Queen Street. Murano has had good reviews and Michelin has happily transferred her star to the new place. My first thought when I decided to go for lunch was how little had changed: front of the house was still terrible. I called the Murano number to book a table and was put through to a centralized service for Ramsay restaurants who said that because I wanted a table the same day, she would connect me to the restaurant directly. Except that nobody answered the phone at Murano. Eventually the girl from the Ramsay group’s central reservation service came back on the line, sounding embarrassed by the failure of the Murano staff to pick up the phone. “We’ll call you back,” she said. And they did, which is how I ended

FIRST CUT

PRIYA RAMANI

A LETTER TO THE GAMES VISITORS MAYANK AUSTEN SOOFI/HINDUSTAN TIMES

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ear guest, Welcome to India. Don’t be offended if everyone here refers to you as foreigner. It’s meant to be a compliment. Hospitality comes naturally to us when we’re dealing with foreigners. Even our best, most overpriced call girls have gathered in Delhi from all parts of India, only to welcome you. And by now you know that if you get shot at while sight- Gold class: India’s real national sport. seeing, the home minister will rush to pay you a visit in hospital. Don’t think situation is unlikely to change any time that’s normal behaviour for our ministers. soon. One statistic I encountered said When a pedestrian bridge built for the India needs to build 112,000 toilets every Commonwealth Games collapsed this week day to meet its 2012 sanitation target. injuring more than 20 workers, we referred Meanwhile, don’t try to stop a Delhi man to it as a “small” incident. I’m sure many from peeing, is the only helpful travel tip I officials muttered to themselves: Thank can proffer. They’ve been known to kill God there were no foreigners… over arguments on public urination. When you inspected the athletes accomHere are some other travel guidelines that modation we had built so swiftly for you (we might help you understand us better. Paan build faster than China, I swear, and with stains are the only lasting impression many fewer bags of cement too), you said you of us will leave behind. We never accept weren’t happy with our hygiene standards. responsibility for our mistakes. We’ve spent You were aghast when you saw employees the last few months distancing ourselves urinating out in the open. from the Commonwealth Games that we Everyone’s hygiene standards are different, believe are a National Shame (these last two responded Lalit Bhanot, the secretary general words must be yelled out in your best Arnab of the organizing committee. He’s predicted Goswami voice. You don’t know him yet? t h a t w e w i l l w i n You will once you come to India, I promise). Try not to make fun of us, we don’t have a SPORTING SPIRIT more than 75 medals and stand third in sense of humour. We roll down the windows the Games. Of course, if more athletes drop of our new BMWs only to fling out the garout because of just-another-day-in-India bage. We love our car horns more than our events such as dengue, terror attacks, leaky cars. We love writing Bunty loves Pinky on Games venues and badly maintained toilets, our World Heritage monuments (you should we might even win the Games. engrave your name on one of Delhi’s many But surely you did your homework on historical structures—I guarantee you won’t India and Indian toilet habits before picking be arrested). We kindly adjust, but we will not us to host the Games? Bindeshwar Pathak, flush. We don’t believe in public sports facilithe founder of the Sulabh sanitation move- ties, don’t have any sporting spirit and still ment that runs 7,000 pay toilets, once told me haven’t figured out why we invited you here that less than half of these are used regularly in the first place. We don’t understand foreign because we don’t want to pay to pee. concepts such as personal space—try to Pathak said our fear of toilets goes back to avoid queues while you’re in India. Luckily the Puranic period when it was suggested for you, most of us won’t be around when you that we should not defecate near human arrive; schools are on holiday and the domeshabitation. Back then, we typically walked a tic travel industry has ensured we have hundistance from our homes, dug a pit, and did dreds of great escapes to pick from. our business out in the open. “No house had I’m sure you’ll enjoy your visit. India a toilet so there was no habit of cleaning the is Incredible. And Delhi is usually fun toilet,” Pathak told me. without Dilliwalas. What can I say? This country and its women have changed dramatically but Write to lounge@livemint.com Indian men remain just the same. Despite some weak attempts by the city to edu- www.livemint.com cate/fine them, they continue to be the Priya Ramani blogs at blog.livemint.com/first­cut slovenly kings of our public spaces. This ON THE COVER: PHOTOGRAPHER: PRADEEP GAUR/MINT

GRAHAM BARCLAY/BLOOMBERG

Top picks: (left) Nobu never fails to draw Indians; and chef Angela Hartnett. up in a small characterless room waiting for the overstretched and curiously unenergetic staff to take my order. The food, when it came, was fine. I had roasted tomato soup and a risotto with truffled mascarpone which were Italian enough even if the risotto was from the rice pudding style of cooking. My companion had linguine with clams (okay) and fish with lentils (good). It was more Italian than the Connaught stuff and an excellent aubergine dip was served with the bread. Service continued to be slapdash. There were two desserts listed on the set lunch, an almond tart and a melon parfait. I said we would each have one. My companion’s tart was so-so but the parfait had no melon taste at all. I asked for the bill and noticed it had a supplementary charge of £5 (around `355). What was that about? “Well you ordered a dessert from the a la carte” “I did?” “Yes, you had a vanilla parfait.”

Ah; so that was why it had not tasted of melon! “Actually, I asked for the melon parfait.” “Oh, all right. We served you the wrong dish then. We’ll delete the £5 charge.” I don’t think I will be going back. I’m always a little leery of eating Indian in London partly because it is so rarely good and partly because I’d rather eat Indian at home. But I went to Quilon anyway because I was staying at 51, Buckingham Gate where the restaurant is located. Full disclosure: I have known Sriram, the chef at Quilon, for nearly 20 years since his triumphant debut at Bangalore’s Karavalli so I cannot claim to have eaten anonymously. That said, I know that Sriram did not do the cooking (he was out of the kitchen) and yet, the food was simply outstanding. I had a flavourful Scottish scallop with south Indian spicing, prawns cooked with chillies, slow-cooked

lamb, a killer sea bass, flavourful black cod and much more. This was world-class Indian food cooked with flair and skill. One of the problems with Indian food is that it emphasizes spices over ingredients, unlike most Western food. So Indian chefs in London try and muck around with the flavours to retain the taste of the ingredients while reducing the spicing. Sriram managed the difficult feat of preserving the flavour of his quality ingredients—including long prawns from Nigeria and Scottish lamb—without compromising on Indian flavours. It tells us something about how little people in London know about Indian food that it took Sriram so long to get his Michelin star though assorted unworthy chefs got theirs much before him. His food is free of gimmicks or artifice. It tastes as Indian food should. If I have a criticism, it is about the room (too downmarket) and the service (not smart enough for a Michelinstarred restaurant). Neither matches up to the excellence of the food. So, if you are looking for an Italian restaurant in London, give Murano a miss and look elsewhere. It is okay but nothing special. But try Quilon. You will not be disappointed. Besides, it will make a change from Nobu and Hakkasan! Murano, 20, Queen Street, London W1 +44-20-75921222 Quilon, 41, Buckingham Gate, London SW1 +44-20-78211899 Write to lounge@livemint.com


L4 COLUMNS

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2010 ° WWW.LIVEMINT.COM

SHOBA NARAYAN THE GOOD LIFE

Does your wardrobe make others pity you?

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hen I took my teenage daughter for her first trip to Mumbai, I was pretty expansive. Wherever you want to go; whatever you want to do, I offered. She had one word for me: Zara.

Which was how I found myself at the Palladium Mall on two consecutive days, shopping and people-watching. Ever since I saw the movie, Pretty Woman, luxury stores intimidate me. Remember that scene where Julia Roberts walks into a posh store on Rodeo Drive and the snooty saleswoman basically shooes her away, saying something like, “There is nothing in this store that you can afford, Madam.” Well, that is what I am afraid of when I walk into a luxury fashion boutique. I fear that I don’t look right; that I am not dressed right; that I don’t have the right “couldn’t care less” flip of the hair attitude. I am afraid of snooty saleswomen who will look me up and down and disapprove. Designing a luxury store is tricky. You want to invite the right kind of people and intimidate the riff-raff. You want displays that look cool, even menacing: Walk into the Christian Louboutin store in Sao Paulo and you’ll see what I mean. Most of all, particularly for luxury brands, you don’t want warm and fuzzy. Nalli Silks in Chennai is warm and fuzzy; as are the Fabindia and Anokhi stores. Such stores encourage two behaviours that are anathema for luxury retailers such as Dior and Louis Vuitton: fingering and haggling. Watch customers at Fabindia carry mounds of clothes to try and discard in heaps. Watch diamond-clad socialites haggle over the price of a `50,000 sari at the Nalli store in Chennai. The atmosphere is a cross between Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar and H&M on Fifth Avenue. Luxury boutiques such as Prada or Pratap are not about bazaar chic. They are about business; about clinking cash registers.

You come in, look at the hanging line of clothes and make up your mind. No fingering, no endless trying on before walking out; and most definitely no haggling. Rohit Bal’s store at the Palladium Mall tries to be warm and fuzzy with inviting couches and magazine-laden coffee tables; but actually ends up looking like a Turkish pasha’s harem. Cozy, it is not. The coziest scene I saw at the Palladium Mall happened by accident—when I showed up at the Shantanu & Nikhil store at 10am, just as it opened. Behind the dazzling sequinned lehengas and diaphanous dupattas was a spritely Gujarati grandmother, clad in a pastel Kota sari, sweeping the marble floor. That innocuous sight took the edge off the `1 lakh price tags on the mannequins. Indians, it has been said before, are bazaar shoppers. It is part of our psyche. We are comfortable in crowds and revel in chaos. The organized minimalism that most luxury brands sport may suit a Swiss temperament but Indians like things a little more like ABC Carpet & Home in New York. I wasn’t going to enter Chamomile. But how many organic tops can you buy at Zara? So I left my daughter there and went next door to Chamomile, just out of boredom. For a boutique, Chamomile is cozy. And then I spotted It: the tunic I would eventually buy. Different people have different styles. I have sadly come to realize that mine is simply this: I buy things that make people feel sorry for me. My therapist, if I could find one, would definitely say that it was some sort of guilt complex playing out in an

Consumer paradise: The Zara store in Mumbai’s Palladium Mall attracts all age groups, but is a big draw among teenagers. outlandish way. Consider the following examples. My carpenter walks into my house, takes one look at my red oxide floor and tells his assistant when he thinks I am not listening: “Poor thing. She cannot afford marble flooring so she has put red oxide, just like us.” My visiting mother asks me for a simple daily-wear sari, peeks into my closet and points at a Satya Paul. “Why don’t you give me that dirty grey one? I don’t know why you don’t upgrade your wardrobe? You have such old clothes.” The pink exercise ball that I sit on while working at my computer caused the kids in my building to pool together money because they thought I couldn’t afford to buy a chair. The shoes I dearly love, which are called Masai Barefoot Technology shoes (look it up if you wish), cause my street sweeper to stop in her tracks and

exclaim, “Ayyo! What happened to your feet? Did you get polio?” And so it was going to be with my latest purchase. The outfit I loved at Chamomile was by designer Digvijay Singh. It was marketed under the bhu:sattva label, which, according to the attached card, uses organic fabric, cruelty-free silk, natural and herbal dyes and traditional techniques. I was sold. I couldn’t control my carbon footprint but at least I could wear cruelty-free clothes. I found Singh on Facebook (where else?) and talked to him about his label. He is based in Ahmedabad and works exclusively on the bhu:sattva brand, owned by Rising Tradelink, a company that sells organic food products and strangely enough, IT solutions. The Digvijay Singh tunic that I bought at Chamomile was long enough to be worn as a salwar top or with pants. I

loved it. I wore it at home for the first time. My maid took one look (and you know what’s coming, right?) and said: “Madam, why are you wearing torn clothes? Look at those strips hanging down from the back. Take it off and I’ll stitch the whole thing for you.” Sometimes, you just can’t win. What I call good design, my maid calls torn. Shoba Narayan has shopped at a store simply because it had Rise Up by Yves Larock playing on phenomenal speakers. She is listening to the song now and recommends that you do too. Write to her at thegoodlife@livemint.com www.livemint.com Read Shoba’s previous Lounge columns at www.livemint.com/shoba­narayan


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SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2010

L5

Eat/Drink PHOTOGRAPHS

BY

PRIYANKA PARASHAR/MINT

PIECE OF CAKE

PAMELA TIMMS

Adventures with ginger cream A British childhood favourite crosses over to old Delhi and gets a new avatar for a perfect happily ever after

I

may be the only expat in Delhi who doesn’t miss supermarkets although I confess it took a little while to adjust. There was the initial shock of not being able to do all my food shopping in one place—how was I supposed to get dinner on the table without a Tesco Metro on the corner? But slowly I began to appreciate a return to a more traditional way of shopping for food. Most British people can’t even remember a time when there was a greengrocer, butcher, fishmonger and baker on every high street—all the interesting small shops have been wiped out by the rampaging supermarket chains. Street markets too are a thing of the past; it’s now virtually impossible to shop anywhere but supermarkets. By contrast, it was a joy to find that in India every neighbourhood still has daily fresh fruit and vegetable markets, dairies, bakeries, spice markets and fish stalls.

At home an obsession with “choice” means fruit and vegetables are flown thousands of miles so that we can have tomatoes in winter and parsnips in summer. We’ve forgotten that strawberries are best in June and that asparagus has a tantalizingly short season. We’ve lost the simple joy of eating a perfect pear picked at the right time. In Delhi, my fruit and vegetables arrive by horse and cart, often picked on a local farm that morning; lauki telling me it’s monsoon time, spinach that it’s winter, mangoes that there is some compensation for the scorching May temperatures. I had an opportunity to marvel again at India’s food diversity while sourcing ingredients for this week’s recipe. In a moment of nostalgia, I wanted to try and recreate an old childhood favourite, the Fox’s Ginger Cream. It was (still is, perhaps) a biscuit that’s greater than the sum of its parts—two ginger nuts sandwiched together with a creamy filling—and there was an illicit pleasure involved in pulling apart the biscuits and licking out the creamy layer. I decided to experiment with khoya for the filling and, on a whim, to track down the khoya at its source because, well, because in India you still can. A dusty rickshaw ride from old Delhi railway station, the Khoya Mandir at Mori Gate is the wholesale auction site for

the tons of milk solids which arrive every day from surrounding states. When I arrived mid-morning, trading was already in full swing and the air was thick with a milky, dairy-parlour sweetness. The khoya “cakes”, similar in shape and size to small Cheddar cheeses, arrive from the villages wrapped in beautiful saris and dupattas, carefully unveiled for prospective buyers to inspect. I learned that there are three grades of khoya: dhapa for gulab jamuns, danedar for milk cake and pindi for burfi. I decided on the pindi (the trader asked if I was a halwai!) and was presented with 1kg of beautifully moulded khoya. I’d foraged and found—and not a scrap of shrink-wrap in sight. It was a shame to cut up the beautiful little cake to make the filling but I think the khoya was just what these all grown-upand-living-in-India biscuits were looking for.

Ginger khoya creams This is a recipe for a traditional ginger-nut biscuit, the type that spreads flat during baking and emerges with a crackled top. They should be crisp, perhaps a little chewy in the middle, but during the current humid weather, they are prone to soften quite quickly. Ingredients 150g plain flour (maida) K tsp baking powder K tsp bicarbonate of soda

Hearty brown: (above) After baking, the biscuits emerge with a crackled top; substitute the traditional cream filling with khoya to give the biscuits a desi twist.

3 tsp ground ginger powder 50g salted butter, softened 125g soft brown sugar 2 tbsp golden syrup 1 egg, beaten Khoya cream 200g crumbled pindi khoya 25g caster sugar (or to taste) 50ml cream 1 tsp ginger powder Method Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Line a large baking sheet with baking parchment. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and ginger. In another bowl, mix together the butter, brown PHOTOGRAPHS

Mystic pizza

BY

sugar, golden syrup and egg. Beat well with a hand-held mixer until soft and light. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until you have a soft, fairly sticky dough. Take small pieces of the dough and shape into small balls about the size of a jamun—no bigger, you want the finished biscuit to be about 2 inches in diameter. Place the balls on the baking tray, well spaced—the biscuits will spread more than you think.

Write to Pamela at pieceofcake@livemint.com

For a slide show on how to bake ginger nuts, log on to www.livemint.com/gingernut.htm Read Pamela’s previous Lounge columns at www.livemint.com/pieceofcake

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B Y R ACHANA N AKRA rachana.n@livemint.com

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Ace of base: (clockwise from left) Chef Tirabassi uses buffalo mozzarella for her pizzas; Pizza Margherita; and Tirabassi tosses the base. that keeps this Californian chain going. “Nobody else provides the kind of fusion we do. We constantly innovate so our pizzas can be different,” says chef B.C. Park of CPK. In India, it’s usually the topping that is king. But there’s one pizza that goes without any topping—the Margherita is all about few and fine ingredients. Very little is known about the crust on which the entire setting

Pamela Timms is a Delhi-based journalist and food writer. She blogs at http://eatanddust.wordpress.com

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In times of topping mania we find out why the classic Margherita tops the pie chart ···························· hen chef Oriana Tirabassi describes the preparation for a pizza, it is like watching someone talk passionately about an emotional book they have just read or a movie they have watched. She compares the dough for the crust to a little baby that needs to be nurtured. She explains, with animated gestures, how it’s a crime to use a rolling pin on the dough. “It kills all the natural enzymes in it,” says the Italian chef at JW Marriott, Mumbai. The crust needs to be made with delicate strokes of the finger, “like a massage”. That allows it to be perfectly cooked all around. For her, the perfect base makes the best pizza. Pizza is a popular fast food that changes according to the location where it is sold. Pizza chains in India have popularized chicken tikka pizza and keema pizza. When the California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) opened recently in India, it introduced the red curry pizza. From its most popular pie, the delicious BBQ Chicken Pizza, to combinations such as Thai Chicken Pizza and Greek Salad Pizza, it’s creativity with toppings

Bake for about 20 minutes but check them after 15. If your oven is the kind that heats from underneath, be extra careful not to burn the bottom of the biscuits. When ready, put the biscuits on to a wire rack where they will continue to cook and crisp up. While the biscuits are cooling, beat together the khoya, sugar, cream and ginger powder until smooth and spreadable. Take a teaspoonful of cream to sandwich together two biscuits. I dare you not to lick out the cream first.

stands. In Italy, the thickness of the crust changes depending on the area. Alessandro Persico, chef de cuisine, Cellini at Grand Hyatt, Mumbai, the Italian restaurant popular for its pizzas, says: “The original base from Naples is about 1cm in thickness and if you go towards the south, it gets thinner, about 3mm. Crispy on the side and soft in the middle.” Tirabassi says. In Italy, says Tirabassi, the base is thick when the household

is poor—it could go up to about 5cm in thickness since there may not be too many options available for toppings. If the base is made correctly, she says, the pizza is easy to digest. At her hotel kitchen, while shaping the dough into a flat base for the crust, she points to the sides. “I never touch the corners. It’s supposed to be thicker on the sides. All the air from the dough collects here,” she says. What

makes this pizza easy to digest is that the air from the dough is collected on to the sides and released when the pieces are cut, instead of being ingested. The base is best when the dough is allowed to rise for 24 hours at least. “If the oven is good and heated to the right temperature, you do not need oil,” she says. Tirabassi says she loves fusion pizza, but it’s important for chefs to stay true to basics. Her sauce is simple, with peeled tomatoes, basil and garlic blended together. “Some people cook the sauce. That’s wrong,” she adds. Since cheese is the only topping on the Margherita, it has to be perfect. “Use only buffalo mozzarella. Mozzarella is not called mozzarella cheese. That’s wrong,” she says. Tirabassi breaks the pieces of mozzarella on the pie and it’s ready for the oven. The oven needs to be heated at least 4 hours in advance. Although a wood-fired oven is the best, getting the right kind of wood is difficult. So she uses gas to get flames in her oven. In around 5 minutes, the pizza is ready. She cuts the pieces and pulls them out. “Mozzarella is not supposed to stretch like elastic,” she says. She points to the vapour releasing from the hollow sides of the pizza. Serve the pizza on a wooden tray so it doesn’t turn soggy. Pick up a piece and fold it in slightly from both sides of the broad end. If it’s made well, it won’t fall limp at the narrow end. “Now eat. No need for a fork and knife,” says Tirabassi.


L6

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SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2010

Outsider PHOTOGRAPHS

BY

MATHEW BENSON;

STYLED BY

KARIN LIDBECK BRENT

LANDSCAPING

Holding court A bloom­filled entry courtyard makes every trip across the threshold a happy homecoming B Y M EGAN M C C ONNELL H UGHES ···························· illed with overgrown shrubs and little else, the courtyard around the entrance to Barbara and Tony Andrea’s Connecticut, US, residence didn’t exactly say, “Welcome to our home.” But enclosed on three sides by the L-shape house and a garage, the space had plenty of potential as a garden retreat. It just needed a new design to give it the warmth the couple felt befitted their newly renovated, cottage-style house. “For me, a

F Scenic drive: A simple picket gate marks the beginning of the flow­ er­filled stroll from the driveway to the front door; (top, right) all­ weather seating on the slate patio ahead makes for a cozy hangout.

landscape is like a frame on a painting. It should enhance a home,” Barbara Andrea says. Landscapers William Ostrander and Steven Pacholyk installed the foundation of the new design—a slate patio in the middle of the courtyard—and extended the paving as a path to the existing driveway. Small trees and flowering shrubs planted along the fourth, open side of the space reinforce the feeling of an enclosed outdoor room and provide privacy. Andrea, an avid gardener, then filled the 70ft trek from driveway to front door with day lilies, Shasta daisies, roses, hydrangeas, and many other flowering perennials and shrubs. The house remains enveloped in a host of colours most of the year. Planting pockets set into the paving soften the stone patio’s hard edges. Vines ramble up the walls,

uniting the house and garden. For Andrea, the original plan was boring and flat. “I wanted a garden that would hug the house,” she says. The cozy courtyard is the couple’s outdoor living room during the summer months, with a flower show that lasts until autumn. “It’s so friendly and welcoming, it makes me happy every time I come home,” says Andrea. Its pretty hues also make it a great place to entertain, especially on beautiful days. All it takes is a few pieces of comfortable outdoor furniture and you are all set. All content on this page courtesy

For the constant gardener Plants, tools and tips for people who love to dig t Do your own gardening These cute plastic and steel gardening tools with paint and varnish will tempt you to get your hands dirty in the garden. The shovel and rake are ideal for turning soil or gathering leaves, `210 each, Pylones@Taabir, at Select Citywalk mall, Saket, New Delhi; and Grand Galleria, Phoenix Mills, Mumbai.

B Y A RUNA L UDRA Better Homes and Gardens

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u No water woes Adopt xeriscaping, a new concept in landscaping, to save water. Introduced in 1980, xeriscaping is a practical and aesthetic approach to cultivating small gardens. It focuses on low-maintenance and drought-resistant plants, both permanent and seasonal, and that doesn’t mean only desert plants or those of the cactus species. Self-generative plants such as sunflower and portulaca in summer, and poppies, coreopsis and periwinkle in winter, come in this category. In shrubs, choose juniper, agave and yucca; in trees choose pine, oak, peepal; for ground cover choose tradescantia, aloe vera and ivy; and for medicinal purposes, choose Calotropis procera, commonly called aak.

Quick growth For quick germination of flowers or vegetables, don’t put them in the soil, as is usually the practice. Instead, wrap the seeds in clean surgical cotton and soak the cotton with water. Sprinkle water over it so that it is always wet. In a day or two, when you notice that the seeds have germinated (and started to sprout), open the cotton ball and plant the germinated seeds in the soil. Water the soil lightly and regularly until the seeds become plants.

p Curry flavour Curry leaves are used for flavouring food, but did you know that they are loaded with antioxidants too? Known as meethi neem, a small plant can become a shrub in two years. To grow your own, look around for any mature curry leaf plant at this time of the year. Small plants will be growing around it. Transfer a small plant of about 6 inches to a small, 8-inch diameter pot. This is to give space to the roots to spread. As it grows, shift it to a bigger pot. Once it has side shoots, transfer it to the soil in a sunny place. By November it will be growing; prune it once in February. Write to lounge@livemint.com


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SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2010

L7

Health

PRIYANKA PARASHAR/MINT

URBAN LIVING

The big bite The increasingly lucrative battle against mosquitoes is boosted by huge growth and plenty of creativity

B Y K RISH R AGHAV krish.r@livemint.com

···························· he research facility at the Dabur India Ltd factory in Ghaziabad, UP, has a group of chambers that once saw painstaking analysis of the death of a mosquito. The main chamber contains glass cubicles of different sizes lit by stark fluorescent lights. The cubicles, the largest measuring about 20x10ft, are representations of an average “living area”. They flank another room, laid out like a museum exhibit, containing rows of tanks where mosquitoes are bred. Large groups (400-500 at a time) of the insects were let into these cubicles through a tiny hatch on the side, and a mosquito coil was lit in its centre. “Every inch of the cubicle floor used to be electronically wired, so we had a counter that went up

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every time a mosquito dropped dead,” says S.V. Devasthale, the head of the facility. Scientists would stand outside the cubicle and take notes, comparing the efficacy of the coil’s careful mix of Allethrin-based insecticide. Dabur exited the mosquito coil business a few years ago to focus solely on its Odomos range of mosquito repellent creams. The creams work by cloaking the body’s potent odour mix of carbon dioxide and lactic acid that mosquitoes, otherwise blind, hone in on. The chambers now feature tests where scientists watch mosquitoes hovering around subjects smeared with the cream. Mosquitoes are the focal point of an enormous amount of research in India. Apart from corporate labs that develop consumer products—an industry estimated at around `2,300 crore—organizations such as the National Institute of Malaria Research (NIMR) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) are active in this field. “There’s so much to be done,” says T. Adak, a scientist at NIMR, “from testing field applications of new insecticides and developing drugs to monitoring behavioural patterns and adaptations.” The rationale and the figures are stark—a million deaths a year from malaria worldwide and dengue outbreaks in around 20 coun-

tries this year. Medical facilities in the event of an outbreak are stretched to capacity, and the availability of drugs wavers from uncertain to adequate. “The use of coils and repellents is only a temporary solution,” says Dr Adak. The biggest impact, he says, comes from what is called “residual spraying”, which involves the use of fogging machines and large-scale operations to wipe out mosquito-breeding spots. “These (residual sprays) are semi-permanent solutions, needing repeated applications every six months or so.” The problem with residual spraying, however, is evidence of mosquitoes developing resistance to insecticides. “Mosquitoes have already developed resistance to early, first-generation pesticides like DDT, making them less effective,” says Dr Adak. They now seem to be resistant to even newer forms of pesticides, such as the petroleum-based synthetic pyrethroids. “These are part of a group of chemicals used in agriculture, and mosquitoes are exposed to it right from the larval to the adult stage,” Dr Adak says. “The possibility of developing resistance, therefore, is higher.” So far, there’s no data to suggest that mosquitoes are resistant to the repellents and coils used in homes. “Their exposure to it is very brief, and it will take much longer for them to adapt to

Looking for a solution: Dr S.V. Devasthale at the Dabur research facility in Ghaziabad, UP. it,” says Dr Adak. The NIMR is now working on field applications of what it calls “impregnated mosquito nets”. These are nets embedded with new, third-generation insecticides. “Mosquitoes that come in contact with them die within 30 seconds, and these nets are very long-lasting, up to four-five years,” Dr Adak says. On the consumer side, mosquito coils (such as the old favourite Tortoise—a brand now owned by Bayer Healthcare) account for about `1,100 crore, or half the total market of mosquito repellent products. Concerns about safety and long-term exposure to coil smoke haven’t diminished the market’s growth. Agrees Tarun Arora, executive vice-president of marketing and sales at Godrej Sara Lee, which sells the rival Good Knight range of mosquito products, “We’ve seen

FEAR FACTOR What is the Indian mosquito? There are around 300 species of mosquitoes in India. They’re divided into three major kinds—the anopheles (which causes malaria), the culex (responsible for chikungunya) and the aedes (which transmits dengue). There are around 59 species of anopheles mosquitoes, for example, although most research focuses on about six that are the major “vectors” or carriers of disease. Mosquitoes have an average life span of 6­15 days.

Mosquito population is next to impossible to estimate, so researchers use a number of indexes to refer to the concentration of mosquitoes in an area. These include the ‘man/hour density’—which is the number of mosquitoes one person can catch in an hour in a particular place; the ‘breeding index’—which is the number of breeding spots in a defined area; and the ‘house index’—which is the number of houses out of an identified 100 that test positive for mosquito activity.

few years is that these products have moved from being therapeutic to day-to-day,” says Rohit Prakash Gupta, category head, home care, for Dabur consumer products. “We’re seeing about 60% of our sales from grocery shops and less from medical stores. It used to be the reverse.” Keeping up with the times, the creams are now available in a variety of form factors—from sprays and lotions to gels and aloe vera-infused moisturizers. Despite everything, however, the basic chemical constituent of the cream (a central active ingredient called N, N-diethylbenzamide, a pale yellow liquid that smells like curd) has not changed since the 1970s. “We essentially work to make it more consumer-friendly,” says Dr Devasthale. “People used to say that if you want to drive away your husband or wife, use lots of Odomos.”

What’s the difference between the different mosquitoes? “The aedes mosquito is a ‘day biter’, it takes blood during the day,” says Dr T. Adak. “The anopheles is primarily nocturnal.” The aedes mosquito also attacks multiple hosts and is able to draw blood from five­six individuals. The anopheles and culex are satisfied with a single host. That’s the reason dengue spreads faster, and Dr Adak calls it a worrying “adaptation”.

All you wanted to know about mosquitoes but were afraid to ask

Are there estimates for the number of mosquitoes out there?

annualized growth of about 10%, with last year seeing about 28%.” The market is also seeing new entrants such as Camlin Ltd (makers of stationery) and Eveready Industries India Ltd (makers of batteries). Each year also sees a new device of dubious origin flood the grey market, from the shrill high-pitch “ultrasound” noise emitters of 2008 to the tennis racquet electrocution devices of last year. Korea’s SK Telecom recently introduced a mosquito repellent “app” for mobile phones that drives away mosquitoes by recreating the “buzz of a male mosquito, which females tend to avoid”. Dabur claims the market for mosquito creams, estimated at `40 crore, grew 40% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2010, with the current quarter poised to be “even better”. “What’s happened over the last

Why does a mosquito bite? Only female mosquitoes bite. They require blood not for food but for reproduction—they need specific proteins present in human blood to lay fertile eggs.

Are mosquito repellents and creams safe to use? All mosquito repellents in the market have to be certified by the Central Insecticides Board, which puts up directives on its website (http://cibrc.nic.in) on the safety and use of the core insecticide present in the product. Grey market products such as the shrill ultrasound repellent are probably safe except for sonic annoyance, and the tennis racquet zapper is best kept out of reach of children.

Buzz off: A spraying operation in progress at Delhi’s Commonwealth Games Village; and (above) an aedes mosquito.

ATUL YADAV/PTI


L8

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SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2010

Business Lounge BROOKS ENTWISTLE

The insider with outside connections The managing director of Goldman Sachs lives it up, immersing himself in local culture

B Y T AMAL B ANDYOPADHYAY tamal.b@livemint.com

···························· n February 2006, when Brooks Entwistle came to Mumbai to set up shop for Goldman Sachs in India, he was the only employee for the first few months. Operating out of a hotel suite in south Mumbai, every time he answered a call he would say, “Goldman Sachs”— and if the caller was looking for him, “Let me see if Brooks is around.” A few seconds later, in an effort to portray an image of a larger force on the ground, he would pick up the phone in another room, stir his coffee and say, “Brooks speaking.” Today, Goldman Sachs has a team of 3,100 employees in India, including those at the firm’s service centre in Bangalore. When I approached the normally reticent managing director and country head of Goldman Sachs for this meeting, he insisted that it would have to be at Koh by Ian Kittichai, the new Thai restaurant at InterContinental Marine Drive. He stayed at the hotel when he came to Mumbai to head Goldman Sachs. More importantly, he loves spicy Thai food. Entwistle attributes his love for spices and the mountains to a childhood spent in Colorado, US, where he grew up eating spicy Mexican cuisine. As we settle down, I discover Entwistle’s Thai connection goes beyond food. He lived at Preah Vihear, in remote northern Cambodia, bordering Thailand, for two years in the early 1990s as part of a UN team to prepare Cambodia for free and fair elections. In the war zone, where shelling was a daily occurrence as the Cambodian People’s Armed Forces and the Khmer Rouge fought each other, Entwistle learnt to “manage cross-cultures and to build businesses under difficult circumstances”. He

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served as a district electoral supervisor, effectively the governor of the district; his partner in the mission was a woman from Sweden; the civil police in Choam Khsan, where he was based, was from Ghana; the military observers from Russia, Uruguay and Poland; and a young Australian soldier ran the radio station. Then there was the Pakistani peacekeeping force. Entwistle, 43, started his career in Goldman in 1989 as an analyst in investment banking in New York. While working in Hong Kong in 1991, he came across a UN advertisement in the Far Eastern Economic Review seeking volunteers to conduct elections in Cambodia and decided to jump at the opportunity. Indeed, there was a deeper reason. He was looking for Long Se Bina, a Cambodian boy whom Entwistle’s parents had adopted under a sponsorship programme of World Vision, an international relief and development organization. In April 1975, when Khmer Rouge forces began their final assault on Phnom Penh, 50-odd small children from the same orphanage where the boy lived were airlifted out. But Bina and others, who did not meet the cutoff age, were left on the streets to fend for themselves. At the request of Entwistle’s family, the Red Cross launched a hunt for the boy but the file was closed in 1978, a year before Vietnam took over Cambodia. Now, Entwistle’s eldest daughter Bryanna, 9, is the same age at which Entwistle lost his “brother”. is the same age as Entwistle’s “brother” Bina was when he was abandoned. He plans to take his three daughters to Cambodia this Diwali to complete the circle. Back at Goldman Sachs in New York since 1995 after completing his MBA at Harvard Business School, he periodically used his vacation time to serve as an election monitor with the Carter Center in places such as Liberia and Mozambique because he loves to work in “countries emerging from conflicts”. The Cambodia elections were free, fair and technically perfect. But the Khmer Rouge took over his district after six months, undoing at first blush almost two years of hard work by the team. Entwistle knows well that elec-

tions are but one piece of the puzzle of getting a country back on its feet. “Nation building is an incredibly complex, long-term process. Elections alone cannot do it. There are many issues such as leadership, governance and rule of law… This takes place over a generation,” he says. Had he not been an investment banker, Entwistle would probably have been a diplomat with a deep interest in international affairs and foreign policy. He has tracked India closely since the late 1990s, when he returned to Hong Kong for a second stint to help start the Asian technology group of Goldman Sachs. In 2000, both he and wife Laura came to the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, for campus recruitments, competing with each other: Entwistle for Goldman, and his wife for her firm, the Boston Consulting Group. In 2003, when he went back to New York, the family thought it was for good, but when the bank chose to end its decade-old relationship with Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd and go it alone (as it wanted to offer the whole suite of products while the joint venture was only for securities and investment banking), the mantle fell on Entwistle to head it. In October 2005, he came here on a secret trip with Laura, one that convinced them India was the place to be. Within a few months, only a duffle bag in tow, he was here, on his 50th trip to India, to “dig into a once-in-alifetime opportunity”. Laura joined him a few months later with their daughters. Since then, Goldman Sachs has invested at least $2 billion (around `9,200 crore) in 45 firms. It now offers investment banking, broking, offshore asset management, fixed-income securities, private equity and non-banking finance business. It has applied to the banking regulator for a licence to get into commercial banking and the business of buying and selling government bonds. It is also keen to start its domestic asset management business. Its employees include 16 managing directors, some of them hand-picked from rival banks such as Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley and UBS. Initially, at least 25% of the employees of the

Mumbai office were from the global office, to help build the culture, but now Entwistle is the only non-Indian here. Won’t he move out soon after mentoring Sonjoy Chatterjee, his newly hired co-head in India, for the top job? Entwistle says there is no immediate plan as they have a “full life” here, deeply embedded in the community. His wife is the president of the American School in Mumbai and heads the Mumbai chapter of Room to Read, an international non-profit organization. They have church meetings in their home every week. “I wake up every morning and see there’s so much to do,” he says, digging into jasmine rice mixed with green chicken curry. Entwistle collects old travel posters, antique maps, first-edition books and old movie posters. His office has a poster of Nargis Dut t’s supe r hit

film Mother India. Her son Sanjay Dutt and thespian Dilip Kumar are his neighbours in Bandra’s Pali Hill. “I have a reading problem,” he tells me sheepishly, adding he could be Amazon’s biggest customer in India. Coincidentally, he spent his last birthday with actor Aamir Khan, discussing movies and education over dinner at a friend’s place. Entwistle doesn’t consider himself an outsider in India. He is an “insider in India with strong

outside global connections”. What is his advice to expats who come to India to build a business? “There is no manual on how to do it. You must go local from Day 1. Make India your home. Don’t think about your next posting,” he says. One morning in 2007, while dropping his daughters to school, they saw a few cows, a goat, a horse, and finally, on Linking Road, an elephant. His eldest daughter Bryanna screamed with joy, saying, “Daddy, it’s just like living in a movie.” For Entwistle, unlike his daughters, life in Mumbai is not surreal. It’s real and hectic and he is still trying to figure out how to find zones of silence. But he is not complaining. He sleeps 5 hours a night, gets up for an early run through the quiet lanes of Bandra and packs in as much as possible to live life fully, completely submerged in local culture.

At home: Brooks Entwistle’s advice to expats: make India your home, not a transit point.

IN PARENTHESIS Every year during the Mumbai monsoon, when his family is away in Canada, Entwistle explores a new destination with an “intellectual and edgy angle”. The typical itinerary is departure late Friday night or early Saturday morning, return Sunday night or early Monday morning. The latest “weekend adventure” was at Turtuk, in far western Ladakh, part of Pakistan until 1971. Till recently, Turtuk was closed to travellers. Other adventures include hiking in Gulmarg in Kashmir, with a stop at the Dal Lake in Srinagar; a Le Corbusier architectural tour of Chandigarh; a visit to Cherrapunji in Meghalaya, one of the wettest places on earth; walking among the cedars and soaking in the atmosphere of the Dalai Lama’s home in Dharamsala; and a trip to the confluence of the Zanskar and Indus rivers in Ladakh. Favourite family trips include Sikkim, Kerala, Puducherry and tiger­spotting in Ranthambore. His Bucket List includes the Tawang Monastery in the north­western part of Arunachal Pradesh; a winter trek up the ice­covered river to Zanskar, heli­skiing at Manali; visiting Hampi, the former capital of the Vijayanagara empire; and seeing the rhinos in Kaziranga National Park. JAYACHANDRAN/MINT


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SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2010

L9

Cover

SPORTS

IS BOXING

THE NEW CRICKET? Apathy and mediocrity are the words usually used to describe Indian sport. But with consistent international success since 2006, and rising new stars, boxing is set to break that cycle. Ten out of 10 gold medals on offer: that’s the target our boxing squad has set for themselves at the Commonwealth Games TEXT BY RUDRANEIL SENGUPTA/MINT PHOTOGRAPHS BY PRADEEP GAUR/MINT

Leading the pack: Olympic bronze medallist Vijender Singh in training.


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Inside the ring: (clockwise from left) 2008 World Cup bronze medallist Dinesh Sangwan shadow­boxes at Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports (NSNIS), formerly the Maharaja of Patiala’s palace; Suranjoy Singh, popularly called ‘Mike Tyson’, gets ready to spar; and national boxing champion Chhote Lal (front, centre) leads the team during endurance training at the NSNIS grounds.

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inesh Sangwan is surprisingly light on his feet for a 6ft-tall man who weighs in at 81kg. His fists are the size of large hammers, and his face as hard as a rock frieze, but when he moves inside the ring, he’s positively dainty. Swift changes in direction on tiptoes, subtle changes in pace and rhythm responding to his trainer’s drill—except that his punches land like a wrecking ball hitting a wall of concrete. At close quarters, just the sound is scary. A few feet away, Jitender Kumar looks wild, desperate. He’s skipping in a blur of rope, pushing the boundaries of his speed and endurance in one motion. His eyes are dilated and manic. Akhil Kumar throws in advice every few minutes. “Reach out more, Dinesh, rotate your shoulder, and get your hands completely straight.” “Good, Jitu, good. Now one more time.” Inside the brand new boxing hall at the Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports (NSNIS), Patiala, where Sangwan, Akhil and Jitender have been training since the beginning of the year, is a story so rare in Indian sports that it is almost unprecedented—an assembly line of world-class champions; a talent pool that ensures Vijender Singh’s bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, India’s first in boxing, will not be an isolated example. The list of Indian boxers who have won at international compe-

titions since Vijender’s triumph points to nothing less than a revolution—Jitender, bronze at the 2009 Asian Boxing Championships; Sangwan, gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Championships; Thokchom Nanao Singh, the first gold medallist at the World Youth Boxing Championships (2008); Suranjoy Singh, the first gold medallist in 15 years at the 2009 Asian Boxing Championships; Vikas Krishan Yadav, the second world youth boxing champion (2010); Chhote Lal Yadav, 2010 South Asian boxing champion—a rollcall of winners that even a couple of years back would have been unthinkable outside of any sport but cricket. Compare that list with our previous triumphs—Dingko Singh’s gold at the Asian Games in 1998 came 16 years after Kaur Singh won at the same event. Mohammed Ali Qamar’s gold at the 2002 Commonwealth Games was the next big victory, before Qamar slipped through the gap and disappeared. Now that’s the story we are used to—a medal every decade or so, black holes in between. “I could never have imagined this change,” says national boxing coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu, who has been at the helm of the sport on and off since 1990. Akhil, though, had seen the change coming. He had shaped the change himself when he won gold at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, and then beat Russia’s Sergey Vodopyanov,

the then world champion, at the 2008 Olympics in a pre-quarter-final bout. Post-fight, Akhil declared to journalists, with his trademark cocksure grin, that Indian boxers were aiming for gold. “Then I wasted it all by losing in the quarter-finals,” Akhil says, “but perhaps I changed the way people look at Indian boxing. I’ve seen our boxers trembling with fear as they approached the ring—I showed them that you can walk in with a smile. No one before me had the courage to say we’ll be fighting for medals, for gold.” Akhil, Vijender, Jitender and Sangwan, who were part of India’s five-man boxing squad at the 2008 Olympics, all began their boxing careers in Bhiwani, a small, dusty farming town in Haryana, under coach Jagdish Singh, who runs the Bhiwani Boxing Club. They are the boys from India’s “Little Cuba”—so named because of Cuba’s dominance of the sport. “Vijender’s Olympic medal changed everything,” says Jagdish. “Suddenly the media’s focus turned to boxing. Newspapers and TV spread the message in small towns and villages. Money started pouring in. Sponsors started showing interest.” The economics of the sport changed dramatically after the 2008 Olympics. “Where we would get, say, `50,000 from the Haryana government for winning a medal at an international championship, we are now getting `10 lakh,” says Akhil.

Former Manipuri boxer Dingko Singh was awarded `5 lakh by the government after his 1998 Asian Championships victory. “Now a boxer who wins the Asian Championships will be awarded 10 or 15 times that money,” Dingko says. “I had no sponsors either, before or after my win, but now even junior boxers are being signed up by sponsors and sports management groups.” In February, the normally cashstrapped Indian Boxing Federation (IBF) entered into a four-year marketing deal with sports management group Percept. In April, it signed a $1 million (around `4.63 crore) sponsorship deal with Monnet Ispat and Energy to finance the national team. In 2009, Sahara India, sponsors for both the Indian cricket and hockey teams, decided to fund up to 13 Indian boxers till the 2012 Olympics. The International Amateur Boxing Association (Aiba) will also launch the World Series of Boxing this November, a franchisee-based competition that will see Jitender, Akhil, Vijender, Sangwan and Jai Bhagwan (yet another Bhiwani boy) turn out for the Delhi team. The boxers’ contracts range from $30,000-100,000 annually. They will also get $5,000 for every bout won, and $1,000 if they lose. Percept’s joint managing director Shailendra Singh feels boxing is on the brink of becoming India’s “second sport”, after TURN TO PAGE L12®


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Inside the ring: (clockwise from left) 2008 World Cup bronze medallist Dinesh Sangwan shadow­boxes at Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports (NSNIS), formerly the Maharaja of Patiala’s palace; Suranjoy Singh, popularly called ‘Mike Tyson’, gets ready to spar; and national boxing champion Chhote Lal (front, centre) leads the team during endurance training at the NSNIS grounds.

D

inesh Sangwan is surprisingly light on his feet for a 6ft-tall man who weighs in at 81kg. His fists are the size of large hammers, and his face as hard as a rock frieze, but when he moves inside the ring, he’s positively dainty. Swift changes in direction on tiptoes, subtle changes in pace and rhythm responding to his trainer’s drill—except that his punches land like a wrecking ball hitting a wall of concrete. At close quarters, just the sound is scary. A few feet away, Jitender Kumar looks wild, desperate. He’s skipping in a blur of rope, pushing the boundaries of his speed and endurance in one motion. His eyes are dilated and manic. Akhil Kumar throws in advice every few minutes. “Reach out more, Dinesh, rotate your shoulder, and get your hands completely straight.” “Good, Jitu, good. Now one more time.” Inside the brand new boxing hall at the Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports (NSNIS), Patiala, where Sangwan, Akhil and Jitender have been training since the beginning of the year, is a story so rare in Indian sports that it is almost unprecedented—an assembly line of world-class champions; a talent pool that ensures Vijender Singh’s bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, India’s first in boxing, will not be an isolated example. The list of Indian boxers who have won at international compe-

titions since Vijender’s triumph points to nothing less than a revolution—Jitender, bronze at the 2009 Asian Boxing Championships; Sangwan, gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Championships; Thokchom Nanao Singh, the first gold medallist at the World Youth Boxing Championships (2008); Suranjoy Singh, the first gold medallist in 15 years at the 2009 Asian Boxing Championships; Vikas Krishan Yadav, the second world youth boxing champion (2010); Chhote Lal Yadav, 2010 South Asian boxing champion—a rollcall of winners that even a couple of years back would have been unthinkable outside of any sport but cricket. Compare that list with our previous triumphs—Dingko Singh’s gold at the Asian Games in 1998 came 16 years after Kaur Singh won at the same event. Mohammed Ali Qamar’s gold at the 2002 Commonwealth Games was the next big victory, before Qamar slipped through the gap and disappeared. Now that’s the story we are used to—a medal every decade or so, black holes in between. “I could never have imagined this change,” says national boxing coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu, who has been at the helm of the sport on and off since 1990. Akhil, though, had seen the change coming. He had shaped the change himself when he won gold at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, and then beat Russia’s Sergey Vodopyanov,

the then world champion, at the 2008 Olympics in a pre-quarter-final bout. Post-fight, Akhil declared to journalists, with his trademark cocksure grin, that Indian boxers were aiming for gold. “Then I wasted it all by losing in the quarter-finals,” Akhil says, “but perhaps I changed the way people look at Indian boxing. I’ve seen our boxers trembling with fear as they approached the ring—I showed them that you can walk in with a smile. No one before me had the courage to say we’ll be fighting for medals, for gold.” Akhil, Vijender, Jitender and Sangwan, who were part of India’s five-man boxing squad at the 2008 Olympics, all began their boxing careers in Bhiwani, a small, dusty farming town in Haryana, under coach Jagdish Singh, who runs the Bhiwani Boxing Club. They are the boys from India’s “Little Cuba”—so named because of Cuba’s dominance of the sport. “Vijender’s Olympic medal changed everything,” says Jagdish. “Suddenly the media’s focus turned to boxing. Newspapers and TV spread the message in small towns and villages. Money started pouring in. Sponsors started showing interest.” The economics of the sport changed dramatically after the 2008 Olympics. “Where we would get, say, `50,000 from the Haryana government for winning a medal at an international championship, we are now getting `10 lakh,” says Akhil.

Former Manipuri boxer Dingko Singh was awarded `5 lakh by the government after his 1998 Asian Championships victory. “Now a boxer who wins the Asian Championships will be awarded 10 or 15 times that money,” Dingko says. “I had no sponsors either, before or after my win, but now even junior boxers are being signed up by sponsors and sports management groups.” In February, the normally cashstrapped Indian Boxing Federation (IBF) entered into a four-year marketing deal with sports management group Percept. In April, it signed a $1 million (around `4.63 crore) sponsorship deal with Monnet Ispat and Energy to finance the national team. In 2009, Sahara India, sponsors for both the Indian cricket and hockey teams, decided to fund up to 13 Indian boxers till the 2012 Olympics. The International Amateur Boxing Association (Aiba) will also launch the World Series of Boxing this November, a franchisee-based competition that will see Jitender, Akhil, Vijender, Sangwan and Jai Bhagwan (yet another Bhiwani boy) turn out for the Delhi team. The boxers’ contracts range from $30,000-100,000 annually. They will also get $5,000 for every bout won, and $1,000 if they lose. Percept’s joint managing director Shailendra Singh feels boxing is on the brink of becoming India’s “second sport”, after TURN TO PAGE L12®


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RUDRANEIL SENGUPTA/MINT

u ® FROM PAGE L11 L10

cricket. “It’s not just a flamboyant, aggressive sport with great personalities fighting in the ring,” says Shailendra, “It’s also a sport that doesn’t need the kind of infrastructure that hockey or football needs. You can have a boxing tournament in a school, a college, a shopping mall. It’s edgy and entertaining—that’s the perfect mix for young spectators.” “Boxing was going nowhere in my time,” says Dingko, “now I have no doubt that it’s the fastest rising sport in India. It makes me so happy that I don’t care at all about what I got or didn’t get from the sport.” This spurt in popularity, though, has not rubbed off on women’s boxing in India, despite the success of Manipur’s M.C. Mary Kom, who won an unprecedented fifth World Championships title on 18 September in Barbados. “I am hoping that this will change once women’s boxing becomes an Olympic sport,” says Mary Kom. “Right now, it’s not even part of the Commonwealth Games, which is sad. But it will feature for the first time in 2012 (Olympics) in London.” Such is Mary Kom’s dominance of the sport that the Aiba has officially credited her success as one of the reasons women’s boxing has been included in the Olympics.

The next wave Sangwan is moving rapidly around the heavy bag, throwing punches in a hard, loud, staccato rhythm. The wooden floor is soaked in a circle of sweat. Move. Smack. Sweat. Move. A trainer screams into his ear: “Keep hitting, keep hitting, 30 seconds more, 20 seconds more, hard, hard, hard.” The morning training session at the new boxing gym at NSNIS Patiala is almost at an end. The last minutes are always excruciating to watch. The boxers hang by the thinnest thread of endurance and strength

after 3 continuous hours of running, sprinting, push-ups, skipping, punching and sparring. The trainers need to scream inches from their ear to push their brains to come up with that final spurt of energy and concentration. Every day, for a few hours after morning training, the boxers develop the slur of a man with high fever. As the whistle blows to end the session, Sangwan staggers to a bench at one end of the gym, and sits down with a heavy thud. At 22, Sangwan feels his time is now. During the 2008 Olympics, the light heavyweight (81kg) boxer crashed out in the first round, losing to Algerian boxer Abdelhafid Benchabla. A few months later, he thrashed the same opponent at the Boxing World Cup in Moscow to win a bronze medal. “At the Olympics I felt really young and inexperienced, and I thought it was too early for me to be in the big league,” Sangwan says. “But I wasn’t demoralized. I thought, all right, if I have qualified for these events, I’m good enough. I can hold my own. I’ve only improved since then.” Sangwan’s entry into boxing was almost inevitable. His brother was a boxer, and all the young men around him in his home town in Bhiwani seemed to be in training to get inside a ring. With his broad, big build, the choice was easy for Sangwan. “But it was difficult in the beginning. I used to get injured a lot, and often wondered if this was the right way for me to go,” he says. But my father was a conductor with Haryana Roadways, and the only earning member of the family, and I knew from a very early age that boxing may be my ticket to bigger things.” Compatriot and bantamweight boxer Jitender Kumar has a similar story to tell—he had no interest in boxing when he was growing up. “I only played cricket.” But his elder brother Surinder, a national-level boxer who used to train at the Bhiwani Boxing Club, took him to the club one day and

introduced him to Akhil. “I was 15 then, and it changed my life,” Jitender says. “This is what happened to a lot of young men in Bhiwani at that time. They fell in love with the senior boxers in the town, got hooked to the glamour of watching them train.” That connection just got stronger and stronger after the 2006 Commonwealth Games and the 2008 Beijing Olympics. “Bhiwani was the epicentre of this change.” Jitender says. If Akhil and Vijender are the first generation of boxers to really push the sport into the limelight with their consistent victories, Sangwan and Jitender are the next generation, gearing up for what they predict will be an unprecedented medal haul at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi. “When I started, people in my village thought boxing was about gundagardi and violence,” says Sangwan. “Now they think that it is a given that I will win a gold at the Commonwealth Games. I think it is a given too.” Bhiwani is ready with a third generation too—18-year-old Vikas Krishan Yadav, the reigning youth world champion, and a bronze medallist at the inaugural Youth Olympics held in Singapore in August. “There has been a complete change in the culture of boxing in the country,” says Vijender. “Before Beijing there was no energy in the sport. People would work very hard, but were never sure where that would take them. Now the ambitions are concrete. The boxers know that winning medals at international competitions is possible, even mandatory.” That culture has spread now beyond Bhiwani and across India. Nanao Singh, 19, the 2009 world youth champion, hails from Manipur, also home to 2010 Commonwealth Championships gold medallist Suranjoy Singh. Shiva Thapa, 17, silver medallist at the World Youth Boxing Championships in 2010, comes from Assam. Chhote Lal Training day: (above, left) Asian Championships bronze medallist Jitender Kumar cools off after a practice session; and world No. 1 middleweight boxer Vijender Singh instructs a fellow boxer during a training bout.


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Yadav, 22, national champion for three years running, is from a village near Varanasi. “It’s like a wave of talent that’s sweeping across the country,” says Akhil, “there’s so much quantity that quality is almost assured.”

The gloves are on It’s the evening session at NSNIS, Patiala, and the boxing gym shines like a summer day under the overhead lights. The sound of punches hitting bags or opponents is deafening. Suranjoy Singh weighs just 52kg. His opponent in the ring outweighs him by 8kg—and that’s 8kg of pure muscle. Despite the advantage, Suranjoy has him on the run, darting around the ring to get his opponent on the ropes. And suddenly, Suranjoy spots the opening he was looking for and unleashes a blur of punches—to the head, the stomach, the face. Ten seconds of mayhem that all but finishes off the fight. “Very good, son, very good,” Sandhu says from the sideline. “One more round now.” The aesthetics of violence. Never get into a street fight with a guy who looks puny. He might break every bone in your face before you can even move your arms to protect yourself. “We call him Mike because he’s in love with Mike Tyson,” Sandhu says. “He also had a temper like Tyson which did him no good.” Later on, Suranjoy meets us outside his hostel under a cloudy sky, and offers us some sunflower seeds. “From Manipur— very tasty.” He even looks a lot like a young Mike Tyson. “Yes, I had a terrible temper. I used to get really mad if someone fouled me,” Suranjoy says in a barely audible whisper. “I used to lose my mind and lose the bout.” The 24-year-old boxer was one of India’s strongest contenders as far back as the 2006 Commonwealth Games, where he was part of the team, but his habit of losing his temper kept him away from medals. As Suranjoy’s fiery attitude got the better of him, his performance began sliding. He was left out of the national boxing camp in 2007, and did not qualify for the Beijing Olympics in 2008. “Then I saw our boxers fight brilliantly at the Olympics and realized what I was missing out,” he says. “I told myself I need to work harder, be smarter, and make it count when I’m called back to the India camp.” Dingko, who had his own anger-management issues during his boxing days, worked with Suranjoy to try and calm him down. “When you are training a boxer, you have to first understand his mind. What are his fears? What are his motivations?” Dingko says. “Suranjoy thought

New blood: Akhil Kumar’s gold medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games was the beginning of a new era for Indian boxers; and (below) a practice session in progress. that if he gave up his aggression, he would lose his edge. But just the opposite was true. I had to work really hard to get it through to him that I wanted his good by lowering his aggression.” When Suranjoy finally gave up the ghost of anger, the results were immediate. His haul of six international gold medals in 2009 (including wins at the intercontinental President’s Cup, the European Grand Prix and the Asian Championships) makes him probably the best boxer in the country right now. Unlike Suranjoy, Chhote Lal Yadav carries a little bit of anger with him in the ring, and he makes it work for him too. His younger sister Laxmi lost her vision in a viral attack four years ago. Since then, the 22-year-old boxer’s only focus has been to win as many championships as he can to fund his sister’s treatment. He has kept his word. He has won India’s Senior National Boxing Championships three years in a row since 2008. He has been so dominating in the ring that in 2009 he forced his opponent in the final to a standing count in the very first round. He was leading 8-1 in the second round when the referee stopped the contest. This year, he repeated the feat in the final against former Olympian S. Suresh Singh. While on their way to Delhi from Varanasi to watch that fight, his family was mugged on the train. The assailants snatched the earrings his mother was wearing. He smiles at the irony of it all, sit-

ting in a small tea shack outside NSNIS, Patiala, as dusk falls. “I can only do what I do in the ring,” he says. Chhote Lal’s father, a class IV employee in Indian Railways, used to force him to get up early in the morning and work out in the rail yards in Varanasi. When the Bombay Engineering Group’s sports scouts came to Varanasi to pick up talented youngsters, Chhote Lal, who was 10 at the time, topped the trials. He joined the Army Institute for Sports, Pune, and began his career with swimming, before the boxing coaches at the institute convinced him to switch track. “I was ragged from the first day by the other trainees,” he says. “They used to tease me saying I ran away from home to win Olympic medals, I even got beaten up.” Pushed into a corner, Chhote Lal began training secretly at night. “I would eat a very light dinner so I could hit the gym again at 10 in the night. I would train for 2 hours, and sometimes just go to sleep inside the gym,” he recalls.

The big change Forty-one boxers were training at the Boxing National Camp in NSNIS that ends on 25 September. They had eight coaches, a physiotherapist, two masseurs, two groundsmen and a doctor assigned to them. The Mittal Champions Trust, a private body that works with athletes in India, provided them with another physiotherapist. “Before Vijender’s medal, we

had maybe one coach for 30 boxers,” says Suranjoy. “Now we get individual attention. Even a few years back, when we would train there were hardly any coaches to be seen, and now the coaches reach the gym before us!” Olympic Gold Quest, another private organization that provides support to athletes—funding their medical care, kit and foreign training stints—has signed on Suranjoy, along with youth champions Nanao and Thapa. “The boxers are one of our main focuses for a simple reason,” says Olympic Gold Quest’s COO and former Indian hockey captain Viren Rasquinha. “They have the potential to win Olympic medals.” The Mittal Champions Trust, whose signings include Akhil and Jitender and a host of junior boxers, also count boxing as a “priority sport” for the 2012 Olympics. Manisha Malhotra, the administrative head of the Mittal Champions Trust, feels that now that a platform has been built, the momentum should not be lost. “Each step now will get tougher and tougher,” she says, “and the boxing federation must grab their chance and upgrade all their systems. Though the talent management has got better, it’s still nowhere as good as it can be. There is a real fear that the federation will not be able to shake off their inertia, and we may not get any better for the 2012 Olympics.” Jagdish has the same fears. “Though it feels right now like a distant, impossible dream is

turning into reality, it can collapse anytime.” He says: “Look at what’s been happening in the lead-up to the Commonwealth Games! This was a golden opportunity to push Olympic sports in the country to new levels, but it has been wasted. Even after Vijender’s triumph in 2008, we hardly got any help; even the Sports Authority of India (Sai) centre in Bhiwani saw minimal development.” “Players lose heart when they see and hear about the kind of scandals that have hit the Commonwealth Games,” says Akhil. “It’s a complicated balance right? Like the photo shoot you just did here—you take 200 photos, and then you’ll pick three. There’s the photographer’s talent, our expressions and body language, the number of photographs you’ve taken, and then your skills at identifying the best of the lot. Anyone messes up, and it’s all wasted. Now that’s a good comparison. Did you record it?” he says, with a wink and a whistle. Vijender Singh, Dinesh Sangwan and Suranjoy Singh have qualified for both the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi and the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China. Akhil Kumar has qualified for the Commonwealth Games and Chhote Lal Yadav, for the Asian Games. rudraneil.s@livemint.com

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SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2010

Travel ESCAPE

TAKE A BREAK

Ready, steady, go

If you have a getaway on your mind, there’s one out there that suits your budget, time frame and distance. Lounge picks the best:

MANOJ MADHAVAN/MINT

u The Oberoi Hotels and Resorts has a two­night deal at Rajvilas, Jaipur, Udaivilas, Udaipur (`58,000), Amarvilas, Agra (`60,000) and Vanyavilas, Ranthambore (`64,000), inclusive of accommodation, breakfast, round­trip transfers and spa discounts for two. At the Cecil, Shimla, the two­night deal costs `18,000, while at the Wildflower Hall, it’s `28,000. Call 1800112030 (toll­free) or log on to www.oberoihotels.com

Residents of Delhi, apprehensive about the Commonwealth Games, are looking for quick getaways

B Y B HAVNA R AGHUVANSHI bhavna.r@livemint.com

···························· he world may be converging on Delhi next month— or so the authorities hope— but droves of Delhiites are looking to give the Commonwealth Games (CWG) a miss. Commuting woes and slow business are just two of the reasons they want to get away from the city. Happily for them, the Delhi government has decided to close schools from 1-17 October, taking care of the one major factor that could have caused many parents to stay put. Some offices too will be closed. Travel companies, quick to spot business opportunities, have laid out an array of CWG getaways to domestic and foreign destinations, all at attractive prices. “We are

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Top draws: (clockwise from left) Nainital, Kerala and Singapore are among the preferred destinations for Delhiites looking to escape the Commonwealth Games.

offering these holidays as many people are moving out of the city to avoid the Games rush,” says Vivek Awasthi, managing director, Hamara Holiday Pvt. Ltd. Popular travel portal Yatra also has Games-special holidays on offer, as does MakeMyTrip (MMT). “These packages were created keeping in mind the holidays during the CWG,” says the firm’s co-founder and COO, Keyur Joshi. Launched in mid-August, the packages range from four days to two weeks, to suit the different holiday needs of travellers. Travel businesses say interest in holiday packages is significantly high this time of the year. “Traffic is up by 40% for the SeptemberOctober period as compared to previous years,” says Krishan Singh, general manager and business head at Yatra.com. In other years, the holiday rush in these months has been because of the Durga Puja-Dussehra festivities. Naveen Joshi, a product manager with Bharti Airtel, has booked a week-long holiday in Manali with Hamara Travels to escape the nightmare he believes his commute will be. “It takes me 2.5-3 hours to commute one way from my home in Mayur Vihar to my office in Gurgaon. I really don’t know how much worse it will be

during the Games,” he says. “That’s why I’m heading out of the city from 5-12 October.” Businessmen, on their part, foresee a slowdown in the first half of October. “I expect business to be slower than usual. That, coupled with the fact that my daughter has school holidays during that period, prompted me to book a holiday away from Delhi,” says Mayank Pandey, who runs a plywood business in Gagan Vihar. The popular destinations for this bonus travel season are those that offer flexibility and a good range of price options. “We have longer trips to places like Goa, Kerala, the North-East and the Andamans, as well as week-

FOOT NOTES | SUMANA MUKHERJEE

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hen time is limited, making things easier for travellers who want to go the mile without applying too much mind, Ezeego offers a Jiving Jamaica package that packs in the highlights without depleting your wallet. Over six days and five nights, they take you to the resort towns of Montego Bay and Ocho Rios—and not just for the sand and the surf either. In Montego, Jamaica’s second largest city, go for a 6-mile safari up the Black river, which snakes through mangroves and crocodile habitats,

and ends at the spectacular YS Falls. More waterfalls await at Ocho Rios, as also the Blue Mountain, where you must pick up some of their famous coffee to bring back home. The final stop is Kingston, the island’s bustling capital. The trip costs `55,971 per person on twin-sharing basis, exclusive of airfare, but including superior three-star accommodation, tour transfers and excursions as included in the itinerary if booked by 31 December. For details, log on to www.ezeego1.com THINKSTOCK

Into the wild: An excursion up the Black river till the YS Falls takes you through crocodile habitats.

u The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation also has Commonwealth Games (CWG) holidays, ranging from day trips to Neemrana to two­night/three­day deals in Agra­Jaipur, costing `1,800­6,350 per person. Log on to www.railtourismindia.com for details. u Mahindra Homestays is offering special CWG deals with holidays in Pali, Rajasthan, promising 50% of your money back if you don’t spot a leopard during your two­night/three­day stay (`25,000 for two). Cost includes meals, accommodation, safaris and an intriguing ‘desi tel maalish’. Log on to www.mahindrahomestays.com or call 18004252737. Sumana Mukherjee

US on the hop

Jamaica jammin’ The trouble with planning a Caribbean holiday is just that— planning. What does one include, and what does one leave out?

end getaways to places close to the capital like Jaipur, Dharamsala, Manali, Kasauli, Shimla, Dalhousie, Amritsar, Nainital,” says Singh. Retired Vasant Kunj resident Janak Raj is planning a holiday with his wife and grandson. “My son and daughter-in-law are both working professionals, and won’t get leave during the period. So we decided to go away to the Andamans on an eight-day holiday with our six-year-old grandson,” says the 77-year-old. According to Joshi, however, most of the prospective holiday makers are government employees. “Enquiries have gone up by approximately 25%,” he says, add-

ing that potential travellers are interested in both week-long breaks as well as longer holidays. Bargain holidays are still available. “The three-day/two-night holiday package I bought from Hamara Travels for two adults and a child at Corbett National Park cost me about `10,555,” says Pandey. “The regular price is `15,000.” MMT has tax-free holidays for South-East Asia (Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong) as a special offer this season till October-end. “Our charter flight holiday packages to the Andamans are much cheaper than anything else available in the market. Plus we have a child-travels-free deal for the period for Kerala and other domestic destinations,” says Joshi. About 100,000 tourists were expected to hit the Capital during the Games, according to a March estimate by the tourism ministry—but that doesn’t seem likely. Nevertheless, Delhiites are not taking any chances—they are all set to escape the Games frenzy.

u Aquaterra Adventures has customized several treks to coincide with the Games. Choose from the Kuari Pass trek (2­10 October; `26,300 per person), the Dodital trek (9­14 October; `17,479 per person) in Uttarakhand and a trek­and­raft combo trip (11­16 October; `16,925 per person) that takes you to Devariyatal, Chopta and Tunganath. Call 011­29212641, 29212760 or 41636101.

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ravelling to the US is certainly no pleasure trip. However, between the health concerns of a 14-hour, non-stop flight and the multiple hassles of stopovers, many road Offbeat: (left) Dorint Hotel, Amsterdam; and Hilton Heathrow, London. warriors opt for the latter, squeezing in a new days. Chauffeur-driven airport walkway) and Terminal 5 (on a destination to break up a transfers add the ultimate luxe hotel shuttle bus). It’s just 20 tediously long journey. Just for touch. From `11,266 per room minutes by train from Central their benefit, www.hotels.com, per night. London. Remember though that an Expedia Inc. affiliate offering u In Paris, the hub for Air Wi-Fi use is chargeable. From reservation services worldwide, France, the Sheraton Paris `7,156 per room per night. has come up with its list of Airport Hotel is built inside u In Amsterdam, where all best airport hotels en route to Terminal 2 of Charles de Gaulle KLM flights have a stopover, the US. The single-occupancy airport, and offers direct access head to Dorint Hotel, 10 rates are available if the hotels to the high-speed Train à minutes from Schiphol airport. are booked on the site. Among Grande Vitesse (TGV) through A free shuttle connects the two its picks: the station located below the every 30 minutes between 6am u In Dubai, the hub for all hotel. Free add-ons include and 11.45pm. If you have some Emirates flights, the Dubai Internet workstations and time to spare, you could even International Terminal Hotel is printing services—and for the pack in a run to Museum actually located inside the night there’s the trademarked Square, home to some of the airport, on the third level of the Sweet Sleeper bed. From world’s greatest art. From Sheikh Rashid Terminal of `11,737 per room per night. `11,122 per room per night. Terminal 1 and Concourse 2 of u In Frankfurt, which Lufthansa u Flying the Pacific route? Stop Terminal 3. However, the uses as a hub, the hotel of in Cathay Pacific hub Hong location also means that you choice is Steigenberger Airport Kong at the Regal Airport Hotel, can’t retrieve your checked-in Hotel, right next to the airport. connected to the airport by an luggage. From `6,344 per room But worry not: The enclosed link bridge. per night. soundproofed windows ensure Recognized as the Best u In Qatar Airways’ hub Doha, not a single whirr of a jet Airport Hotel in the World by Sharq Village and Spa is just 5 disturbs your night’s rest. From Business Traveller UK for two minutes from the airport, 15 `6,458 per room per night. consecutive years since 2008, it minutes from the city centre u At Heathrow airport, the has a unique 24-hour and 20 minutes from the primary hub for British Airways accommodation plan, regardless shopping district. Not your and Virgin, the Hilton London of check-in time. From `9,291 regular business hotel, it may Heathrow Airport hotel is the per room per night. just convince you to extend an only hotel with direct access to hour-long stopover into a few Terminal 4 (via a covered Write to lounge@livemint.com


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SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2010

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Books SELLOTAPE LEGACY | BORIA MAJUMDAR & NALIN MEHTA

Make sense of the mess

CULT FICTION

R. SUKUMAR

BATMAN’S ANOTHER DAY

MUSTAFA QURAISHI/AP

A

A register of facts and figures that collates disjointed pieces of news on the Commonwealth Games in Delhi

B Y A RUN J ANARDHAN arun.j@livemint.com

···························· he idea behind organizing the Commonwealth Games, as we understand from Sellotape Legacy, was to have a sporting event that would be less stressful, less competitive and friendlier than something like the Olympic Games. Or to quote a passage from the book by Boria Majumdar and Nalin Mehta, it would be “merrier and less stern, and will substitute the stimulus of a novel adventure for the pressure of international rivalry”. Anyone who has been following the build-up to the 2010 edition of the Games, starting in Delhi next month, will agree that it’s been anything but stress-free—the latest scandal to rock the still unbuilt corridors of the Games facilities is the Games Village that houses athletes, which some nations have found unfit for residence. This week, the foot overbridge to the main CWG venue collapsed. The controversy, corruption and convolution of facts that have become synonymous with these Games are inspiration for the authors of Sellotape Legacy, a rather timely treatise. The present scenario is annoying, given the condition Delhi is in, given the amount of money spent and the premise that led the Union and state governments to put their weight behind an event whose value as a global brand remains to be established. Additional airport tax has been levied on passengers to make up for the expenses in modernizing existing structures, new stadiums have been built, including one that will “provide a lasting legacy for the sport of lawn bowls”, and additional hotel rooms have been

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Debacle: The overbridge built to connect the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium to the parking lot collapsed. designed for an assumed avalanche of foreign visitors. But whether the around `65,000 crore being spent on infrastructure and power generation projects, among others, will benefit taxpayers and contribute to the welfare of the city and its citizens, remains a moot point, say the authors. The Games are a symbol of India’s egoistic necessity to prove a point—that its robustly growing economy can support a multisport event, that if China can do something (the 2008 Olympics and 2010 Asian Games), we can do better, that India’s presumed emergence as a global sporting power needs the endorsement of having hosted a mega event. Of course,

Sellotape Legacy—Delhi & the Commonwealth Games: HarperCollins, 302 pages, `450.

that sporting emergence rests heavily on Abhinav Bindra’s solitary gold medal and a couple of bronze medals two years ago in Beijing. It has still given administrators confidence that a clutchful of medals from a below-average field of sportspersons next month would be ample reward. The Commonwealth Games may be, according to the book, the third biggest world event after the Olympics and the Football World Cup, but their relevance in India has always been limited even though the country has been more successful in these (in the 2006 Melbourne Games, India won 49 medals, including 22 gold). Sellotape Legacy’s usefulness remains current—a chronicle of everything that’s gone wrong with the Delhi edition for those who may not have followed the daily newspapers but might still want to find all the stories in one place. It’s academic in a manner that most of Majumdar’s books tend to be, with tables and figures, a register of Indian sports history if you will, that is not otherwise easily available and is less explored. While the initial chapters dealing with the processes and follies leading up to the Games are delightfully cynical, the book begins to falter when it gets into the history of the Games. This does not have enough drama to sustain interest. The narrative on former hosts of the Games, their intermittent problems with it, the political

machinations (except for the ones involving South Africa and apartheid) will not grip the reader. Though the authors point out that the engagement between the Empire Games (the Games were called the British Empire Games from 1930-50, and the British Empire and Commonwealth Games from 1954-66) and the Commonwealth movement was always acutely political, in the Indian context this association shows sport’s “critical role in shaping modern India polity”. Understandably, hosting the 2010 Games was a political decision—one based not on a historical connection, but a mere flexing of recently found economic muscle. The book is otherwise solid— the research detailed, the language crisp, the scale wide. It throws up pertinent questions, which do not have clear answers but reiterate what’s already in the mind of Indians who can see their tax money turn into coffee machines at the Games Village. The Sellotape Legacy concludes that, “A failed Games experience will add teeth to the murmurs that there remains a serious discontent between India’s new-found modernity and the masses who still inhabit pitiable conditions of existence.” That may already be happening. IN SIX WORDS CWG is more politics than sport

n unscheduled visit to NY, some smart ordering by my friendly neighbourhood bookseller, and quick delivery by Amazon.com have meant that I have a lot of new comics to write on. It’s only fitting, given this columnist’s fondness for Batman, that the first of the next few editions of CF that will deal, almost exclusively, with reviews, be devoted to a new Batman comic that ranks alongside Batman: Year One, The Dark Knight, The Long Halloween and The Killing Joke in the pantheon of Batman comics. Now, writing a great Batman comic isn’t as easy as it sounds. For one, the books named here set a pretty high bar. For another, the competition is intense—there are, arguably, more Batman comics produced than those featuring any other superhero (one reason for this is that anybody who is somebody in comics wants to write a Batman comic). Yet, Neil Gaiman’s Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? is easily the best Batman comic this writer has read in a long time— which is saying a lot because he reads almost every Batman comic there is. Part of the magic is Gaiman’s writing which is reflected in a great plot: Batman realizes that he is lying dead, with his friends and enemies gathered to pay their last respects to him, by telling their version of his life—and death. And, as one can expect when Gaiman is the writer, there are parallel realities. This is really a spoiler for those who will try and read the comic after reading this piece, but there is one reality this writer especially loved (titled The Gentleman’s Gentleman’s Tale), where Alfred Pennyworth, Batman’s butler, speaks of how he (a former vaudeville actor) took on the persona of The Joker to help Batman overcome the depression he lapsed into when not fighting crime (and of how he, Alfred, convinced his friends from vaudeville days to take on the persona of other villains like The Riddler). Back from the dead: The magic is in the plot. Except for the bit at the end where Batman’s mother and Batman have a conversation straight out of The Lion King about the circle of life, the story is classic Gaiman with each of the alternative takes on Batman’s death being not just plausible, but true. And Andy Kubert’s illustrations which reflect his own unique style are, at the same time, reminiscent of the work of other artists who have drawn Batman comics through the ages. And, for those of you Constant Readers interested in endings, of course, Batman lives to fight another day. Gaiman, like this columnist, believes in Batman. R. Sukumar is editor, Mint. Write to Sukumar at cultfiction@livemint.com

LEFT POLITICS IN BENGAL | MONOBINA GUPTA

Communism’s high noon An interesting but uneven, and in parts starry­eyed, account of the heady days of Communist Bengal

B Y S OUTIK B ISWAS ···························· ow does a Communist government rule over Bengal for around 30 years without a break? Good governance? Hardly. Bengal suffered a precipitous decline during this period. Industries shut down or fled and jobs dried up; the quality of health services and education plummeted. Social stability? Possibly. In the beginning, people were grateful to have seen the end of the hooliganism that marked the unpopular Congress regime; the Communists also ran a resolutely secular government. Political stability? Again, in the beginning, after the tumultuous 1960s of unwieldy coalitions, people craved stability. Land reforms? Undoubtedly yes, for it gave the landless dignity and a decent living. Monobina Gupta attempts to answer some of these tricky questions in this semi-autobiographical account of the rise and decline

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of the Communist party and government in Bengal. Gupta, a journalist, is among many of her generation who embraced the Left, and then fell out of love. Her book is a breezy account of the early, heady years of Communist rule, followed by the stasis and disillusionment that set in. But her nostalgia for the high noon of revolution is jarringly sophomoric and detracts from the meatier narrative in what turns out to be an interesting, but uneven book. Gupta says that with every passing year the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM, found it “more and more complex to balance the obligations of governance with its core politics of struggle”. Stagnation of key industries is blamed on intransigent trade unionism, discriminative federal policies and liberalization. The party destroyed every institution of any merit by packing it with mediocre supplicants—it was

Left Politics in Bengal— Time Travels among Bhadralok Marxists: Orient Blackswan, 272 pages, `245. worse than what Gupta describes as a “dull culture of patronage”. People wonder why the Communists were—and remain—so comfortable with mediocrity and suspicious of excellence. Gupta believes that the party’s “ideological spine” was broken because it led a comfortable life without any worthwhile political opposition. But it can also be argued that this bankruptcy hap-

pened even as the Soviet Union collapsed and China opened up its economy, leaving our unimaginative, homegrown Communists clueless. With its ideological underpinnings weakening and a dull leadership rewarding sycophancy and mediocrity, the party degenerated. “The party loomed like a powerful corporation beckoning one and all, political and social climbers, ideological ignoramuses, rank opportunists, tantalizing them with possibilities that had nothing to do with the ideology of politics,” says Gupta. She could be talking of the Congress party in India, but in reality it has been worse in Bengal. Did the vice grip of the Communists have anything to do with the Bengali’s traditional suspicion of, and aversion to, capital? In no other state are politics and capital estranged the way they are in Bengal. Many social scientists believe that the Communists’ hostility to big business well into the mid-1990s—when Jyoti Basu unveiled a wishy-washy industrial policy—was embraced by riskaverse, anti-capital Bengal, where glorification of poverty is legendary (even today, stories of Satyajit

Ray’s “struggles” in making films out of rickety, hot Kolkata studios with poor equipment are part of the Bengali lore. Nobody asks why the auteur was not given better conditions to work in). The eclipse of the bhadralok is now eerily coinciding with the decline of Communist rule in Bengal. There are more compelling arguments though. Political scientist Dwaipayan Bhattacharyya believes that the CPM, with its impeccably run networks, created a “party-society” where the party plays, says Gupta, a “key mediating role in society, often by transgressing the lines of separation between private and public, civic and political, social and familial”. The result has been the cretinization of what was once a forward-looking society. With its stale and lazy political rhetoric—everything uncomfortably capitalist these days, for example, is “neoliberal”—the party appears to have lost its capacity to attract any talent or attention of substance. Soutik Biswas is the India editor of BBC News online. Write to lounge@livemint.com


L16

www.livemint.com

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2010

Culture ART

The artist as a good sport COURTESY VADEHRA ART GALLERY

t Gulammohammed Sheikh Centre and the Peripheries, 2010 44x66 inches Digital on archival paper

Highlights from a large group show on sports and city life which mark the Commonwealth Games in Delhi

“I saw this digital image of Connaught Place on the Net and I had to do something with it. It is up to the viewers to draw their own conclusions.” COURTESY GALLERY ART MOTIF

B Y H IMANSHU B HAGAT himanshu.b@livemint.com

···························· he city state of Athens was home to the Olympic Games in ancient Greece. Since then international sporting events featuring competitions in different games have always been associated with the host city, rather than the host country. So it was the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and it will be the Guangzhou Asian Games in November. And it is XIX Commonwealth Games 2010, Delhi. Appropriately enough, curator Rupika Chawla’s brief to the artists for Art Celebrates! 2010, the big art show being organized at the Lalit Kala Akademi (LKA) in conjunction with the Games, had three components—represent sports, the city of Delhi and city and urban life in general. The show will display a work each by 108 Indian artists and photographers—from the late Manjit Bawa, to Raghu Rai and younger artists such as Mithu Sen, Thukral and Tagra, and Ved Gupta. Twelve established private art galleries in Delhi were asked by LKA to send works by 10 artists each. Barring a few exceptions, the artworks, which include paintings, sculptures, photographs and videos, were commissioned for the show. In keeping with the curatorial brief to stick to the celebratory mood, the artists have created works that largely steer clear of any ambivalence. But a reflective mood, perhaps inescapable, pervades works that have the city of Delhi as their subject. Here are images of five works that will go on display, accompanied by the artist’s comments in brief.

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t Gopi Gajwani Dilli Dilwalon Ki, 2010 65x68 inches Oil and acrylic on canvas “I grew up in old Delhi and in this painting, Jama Masjid has come very clear with a tight crop of the ‘minar’. As a small kid I remember seeing pigeon fights; that to me is real Delhi.” COURTESY ART ALIVE GALLERY

COURTESY GALLERIE GANESHA

t Sakti Burman Delhi Then and Now, 2010 64x51 inches Oil on canvas “This is my first Delhi painting, as well as my first sports painting. I combine myth and reality, and past and present in my works. My memories of the Mughals through literature, history and minia­ tures guided me in this work which depicts Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal as well as the old monuments of Delhi.” COURTESY THRESHOLD ART GALLERY

p Yusuf Arakkal He Wants to Do a Beckham, 2010 72x76 inches—diptych Oil on canvas “I had photographed the child of a con­ struction worker playing on the streets. During my high school days I myself was a very good football goalkeeper and I am also personally familiar with the streets as I ran away from home to Bangalore when I was 16 and lived on the streets for quite some time.”

p Chandra Bhattacharjee Untitled, 2010 48x72 inches Acrylic on canvas “Delhi to me is a political city and then it is a heritage city, full of history. The dreamlike image came to my mind and I have carried this dream through a very Indian vehicle.”

Art Celebrates! 2010 will be on view from 1-15 October at the Lalit Kala Akademi, Rabindra Bhawan, 35, Ferozeshah Road, New Delhi.

Bombay blown­up A show of rare snapshots of what the city looked like a century ago B Y S ANJUKTA S HARMA sanjukta.s@livemint.com

···························· t’s a Mumbai we have seen in books on the city’s history— sepia-tinted Apollo Bunder where the Victorias lined up outside the Taj Mahal to ferry the hotel’s guests to other parts of the city. Some rare images of early 20th century Mumbai appear in Bombay: The Cities Within by Sharada Dwivedi and Rahul Mehrotra, a definitive pictorial history of the city. In Bombay 100 Years Ago, 50 such rare images will be on display on 27-28 September at the main lobby of The Oberoi, Mumbai. Ten prints per image will be produced upon request. The

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works cost `60,000-80,000. Organized by the World Luxury Council (India) in collaboration with The Oberoi, the exhibition is open to the public. Among the most striking images is a wide, top-angle view of the Victoria Terminus from 1887, which is in stark contrast to what the structure’s facade looks like today. Another is a panoramic view of the round temple or Gol Dewal at Sandhurst Road, which also has a view of the locality’s famous “stone” market; the same neighbourhood later got another name and found notoriety as the city’s red light district: Falkland Road. Another familiar neighbourhood is Pydownie, or what is now called Mohammed Ali Road. Ever since it has been dwarfed by the JJ Flyover, the neighbourhood has become a mini-world of petty shopkeepers and food

PHOTOGRAPHS

COURTESY

WORLD LUXURY COUN CIL (I NDIA)

In sepia: (clockwise from above) Esplanade Road or Kala Ghoda; the Bombay Club; and Victorias lined up outside the Taj Mahal Hotel. stalls. The original name “Pydownie” is a British take on the word pydhonie, which literally means a place where feet are washed. This probably was one of the first portions of land permanently reclaimed from the

sea. The “foot wash” area could be recognized as a small creek that formed during high tide between the islands of Mazgaon and Bombay. The 50 photographs have been sourced by Kamy Shah, chairman of the World Luxury Council (India), from a couple of the city’s lesser known collectors of historical photography and from collectors in London. Some images are from Shah’s own collection of photographs of vintage Mumbai. After being acquired, they were reproduced over archival canvas, with German archival ink. Each photograph was cut into small pieces like a jigsaw puzzle and arduously reproduced on the archival canvas. They also have a matte coating that protects them from UV and other strong light sources, and are mounted on wood. Shah says the technology used will ensure they stay for a hundred more years. Bombay 100 Years Ago will be on display in the main lobby, The Oberoi, Mumbai, on 27-28 September, 10am-7pm.


CULTURE L17

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2010 ° WWW.LIVEMINT.COM

Q&A | SUDARSHAN SHETTY

RAAGTIME

SAMANTH S

Happy homecoming

THE RESONANCE OF TWO

ABHIJIT BHATLEKAR/MINT

The poster boy of contemporary Indian sculptural art on his new show and why it’s special to him

B Y A NINDITA G HOSE anindita.g@livemint.com

···························· udarshan Shetty’s 2006 stainless steel dinosaur making love to a Jaguar convertible may well have become contemporary Indian art’s signature sculptural piece. It is emblematic of Shetty’s own oeuvre as well, capturing all that his charged installations have come to represent: monumental scale, mechanical repetition, the kinetic aspect of inert objects, irony, anachronism and death. After having exhibited his work at prestigious international venues such as the Tate Modern in London, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum in Japan, and the Guggenheim Museum in New York, 49-year-old Shetty is showing his work at the newly restored Bhau Daji Lad Museum—Mumbai’s oldest—in an exhibition that opens today. The show is the first in a series of planned exhibitions by the museum to re-establish its historic ties with the Sir JJ School of Arts, which happens to be Shetty’s alma mater. For the series curated by the museum’s honorary director, Tasneem Zakaria Mehta, artists have been asked to respond to the museum’s collection and archives. Shetty’s solo show This Too Shall Pass will have 15 works in all. Mangalore-born Shetty has lived in Mumbai all his life. He tells Lounge about his forthcoming show, his curious object assemblages and why he is an artist who believes that in the act of living “one is always condemned to be elsewhere”. Edited excerpts:

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What does the title of the exhibition ‘This Too Shall Pass’ signify? It’s a Sufi phrase that points to the ephemeral nature of the universe. For me, it connects to the idea of the museum space. Museums are places where

In the neighbourhood: Shetty with one of his installations at the museum. objects that represent a certain time period are supposed to rest. Yet the truth is that these objects are always changing their meaning in time. This is a running thread in my work. When I make objects, I weave into them the sense of the ephemeral. Most of my work plays on our need to make something come back to life and a sense of futility in negotiating with the world of objects that we gather around ourselves. Tell us about some of the works that will be on display. There’s one which is a wooden replica of a junk car rotating on a dais. The car has no engine and is practically useless but this showcasing creates an illusion of bringing it back to life. Then there’s another installation which has a fibreglass statue of myself at a 45-degree angle. As viewers insert coins into a pot, the statue becomes a little

more straight. At the end of the exhibition, it would possibly be vertical. The curatorial note for the exhibition says it is meant to “intervene with the museum space”. How do you achieve that with your installations? The exhibition was specially designed for this museum. The works are displayed such that they appear to be a part of the museum although not in obvious, literal ways. Some will be displayed in a special gallery section of the museum while the others will be scattered throughout the museum, including the lobby. You studied painting as an arts student but took to installations early in your career. What were your influences? I studied painting at the Sir JJ School of Arts because it was the natural thing to do. Back then, the idea of an artist was

TELEVISION REVIEW | TIGER QUEEN

someone who painted and that was it. But while at art school, I was exposed to 1960s art in America and artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, who were challenging the two-dimensional in painting. I found their aesthetic choices somewhat close to the spirit of how I looked at the city of Mumbai and my life in it; I enjoyed their multiplicity of meaning. That’s how I began to experiment with found objects. After art school, I even went to Ahmedabad to learn methods of casting and moulding three-dimensional objects and work with different materials. Your show is the first in a series of exhibitions that will mark Bhau Daji Lad’s historic ties with Sir JJ School of Arts. How do you feel about opening the series? JJ has a fantastic history of craft and I really learnt a lot in my time there. We had a tradition of conventional British portrait painting and watercolour. The Bhau Daji Lad Museum, when it was administratively connected to the school, had the tradition of exhibiting the best student art pieces in its premises—that’s how close the two institutions were. But this exhibition is dear to me for reasons that go beyond. It’s my hometown. I grew up in the vicinity of the museum. This is a museum I visited with my parents as a child. My mother would take me to the Byculla zoo every day and we would saunter into the museum. Back then, it was a place for entertainment. You make the connection between art and entertainment often. Is ‘art as entertainment’ a founding principle of your work? I like to entice the viewer into my artwork with the promise of entertainment and then take them to other levels of discourse. Contemporary art in the Western tradition mostly works by disenchanting the viewer—making the audience uncomfortable. But that’s not how we know art in India historically. I would like to bring back the spectacle. This Too Shall Pass will be on view till 31 October at the Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Byculla, Mumbai.

AKANKSHA SOOD

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or only the second time in its eight-decade history, the Madras Music Academy has awarded the Sangeetha Kalanidhi title this year jointly to a pair of performers: C. Saroja and C. Lalitha, singers of great poise and classicism, who appear on their billings as the Bombay Sisters. In 2002, another set of sisters, Sikkil Neela and Sikkil Kunjumani, became the first to win the award together. As in Hindustani music, pairs of performers—very often siblings—are common in Carnatic music, so the fact that no such pair won the award for its first 73 years hints at the Academy’s odd reluctance to honour double acts jointly. This has resulted in some regrettable misses and near-misses in the roster of Sangeetha Kalanidhis. Perhaps the most influential singing duo in Carnatic music history comprised T. Brinda and T. Muktha (they were billed, and are remembered as “Brinda-Muktha”, pronounced as a sort of rhythmic incantation). Brinda won the Sangeetha Kalanidhi in 1976; Muktha never did, even though one’s name is rarely mentioned without the other’s. Only by dint of a spot of charming blackmail did the Alathur Brothers, stentorian-voiced singers, avoid a similar situation. The Alathur Brothers were not really related; Srinivasa Iyer and Sivasubramania Iyer both learnt their music from the latter’s father, Alathur Venkatesa Iyer, and thus started performing together. In 1964, the Academy named Sivasubramania Iyer its Sangeetha Kalanidhi. This was a dilemma. Refusing the title would have involved insulting the Academy, but accepting it alone was difficult for a man who had practically grown up with his partner in song. Sivasubramania found a way out. He extricated from the Academy a promise that it would confer the award upon Srinivasa the next year. Happily, the Academy stuck to that promise; sadly, Sivasubramania did not live to see it, having died that very year. SRUTI

Dulcet duo: Bombay Sisters C. Saroja (left) and C. Lalitha. At first blush, the notion of a double act in Carnatic music struck me as strange. This was not, after all, the same as a band performing together, each member playing a different instrument, adding a different layer of sound. When they sing a song, Carnatic pairs can do so with such perfect fidelity that each vocalist mirrors the other’s inflections, and two voices begin to sound like one. When they improvise on a raga, the singers alternate between themselves. My initial thought, therefore, was a naïve and rather unkind one: If both singers are really good enough to be on a concert stage, why don’t they just perform solo? It took some active listening—mostly in concerts by the Malladi Brothers, who form my favourite performing pair today—to work out for myself the merits of Carnatic double acts. Their fidelity within a song is a demonstration of the strength of a bani—of the singers’ particular school of music, which can tweak a song subtly but palpably. In improvising, the best vocalist pairs visibly draw inspiration from each other, each goading the other to new creative heights. The most electric moments come when a vocalist has successfully thrilled even her own colleague, each appearing to sing exclusively for the other, while we sit in as privileged witnesses to this musical dialogue. Write to Samanth Subramanian at raagtime@livemint.com

ADITYA SINGH

All too human Rivalry and intrigue in Ranthambore’s most influential tiger family makes for exciting viewing B Y K RISH R AGHAV krish.r@livemint.com

···························· he opening voiceover for Tiger Queen, a new documentary that chronicles a fascinating power struggle in the Ranthambore and Sariska national parks, encapsulates everything that is right and wrong with this 45-minute film. “Who will be the next ruler of Ranthambore?” it asks like a trailer for an action film, flashing shots of the old fort situated inside the park. “Fierce battles, dangerous liaisons and territorial war lies ahead.” This tone never wavers

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through the length of the film—it’s always dramatic, and sometimes over the top. On the one hand, it’s a refreshing tiger film, one full of insights and intriguing glimpses into their world. But it sometimes goes too far in attributing human motivations to the tigers. This feels too artificial, helped by clever editing that makes particular standoffs appear more scripted than natural. This, however, is only a minor problem with some stretches of the film—the parts where a coherent narrative is being shoehorned into the film’s concern—a battle for succession in a tiger family held together by “Queen” Machli, who has ruled the fort and lakeside area for more than a decade. Her three cubs, on the cusp of adulthood, must now venture out and find their own territory or challenge Machli for control of the rich lakeside area, full of Sambar, spotted deer and wild

Cat fight: Satra stalks a rival in Ranthambore; and film­maker S. Nallamuthu (standing) on location. boar (“None of them dared to stay,” explains the voiceover. “Until now”). The visuals are top-notch throughout—the pace is fast, with quick cuts and multiple closeups, and the film is always arresting. Some of the sequences, like Satra (Machli’s ambitious elder daughter) facing off with the young, timid Unnis, are fantastically filmed and incredibly tense. The film was shot over two

years in Ranthambore and Sariska, following Machli’s family and the recent translocation of tigers from Ranthambore to Sariska by the Rajasthan forest department and Wildlife Institute of India. The film, directed by Delhi-based cinematographer and film-maker S. Nallamuthu and his company Grey Films India Pvt. Ltd, is also India’s first full-length wildlife documentary to be shot in high-definition

(HD). While its television premiere in India will not be in HD, this is a film that must be seen large and loud—pick up the DVD when it comes out later in the year. Or wait for the theatrical release being planned around the world. Tiger Queen will be aired on the National Geographic Channel on 28 September at 10pm and on 29 September at 1pm.


L18 FLAVOURS SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2010 ° WWW.LIVEMINT.COM

KOLKATA CHROMOSOME | SHAMIK BAG

The house of vinyl PHOTOGRAPHS

BY I NDRANIL

BHOUMIK/MINT

AR Rahman’s next is Saregama’s first LP in 13 years. What does the company’s factory preserve? We found some treasures

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he chimney that towers over the Saregama factory premises in Kolkata’s Dum Dum may have a freshly painted brick-red exterior but it is clearly past its heyday. In its prime, its smouldering mouth signalled the health of the music industry; the smoke resulting from a long process where the PVC material used to make records was melted to a viscous state in a boiler that needed both steam and cold water. The more the smoke, the more the music. These days, saplings sprout from its top as the redundant chimney stands, testimonially and figuratively, for the record. Jhootha hi Sahi, the forthcoming Hindi film starring John Abraham, for which A.R. Rahman has scored the music, is the first long-playing (LP) record released by Saregama in 13 years. Yet nobody is under any illusion that LPs will occupy anything other than niche corners in music stores and listener perceptions, even though EMI India released 150-odd titles from its international music catalogue in 2009-2010 and sold around 1,500 records through the year. “We are looking at market demand and plan to release 50-100 titles in LP soon,” says Atul Churamani, vice-president of Saregama, a company that inarguably possesses the largest collection of recorded music in India. “There seems to be a renewed interest in LPs, but I don’t expect them to ever again have majority share in music sales.” Evidence of the music business’ rich and profitable analogue age lies casually around the studio area of the Dum Dum factory, established in 1928. In the corridor leading to the tape archive and library, glass cabinets contain nuggets from music’s vinyl past. It’s a humidity and temperature-controlled room where tall iron racks hold a precious collection of around 30,000 master tapes of original Indian music recorded by the company since Gauhar Jaan sang raga Jogiya in Kolkata and became the first Indian voice to be recorded on shellac disc in 1902. There is a sample of a 7 July 1930, 10-inch record, the first to be automatically pressed in India. Frames on the walls exhibit the cover art of records containing the speeches of Jawaharlal Nehru, Rabindranath Tagore,

Rhythm corner: (clockwise from left) The tape archive at the factory; LPs of film albums in the library; a wall of vintage photos of musicians; an antique gramophone; a room with the machines used to make LPs; and (far left) the chimney at the factory.

Mahatma Gandhi and Indira Gandhi, as well as the radio broadcasts of Subhas Chandra Bose between 1938 and 1944. Yet another panel displays the various processes raw gooey lacquer goes through before the delicate grooves etched on black vinyl discs deliver the notes and nuances of recorded music with every rotation. Standing idle in the middle of a large hall is a record-pressing machine bearing the insignia of EMI Records, Middlesex, England—and going back to the time when Saregama was the Gramophone Company of India (better known as His Master’s Voice, or HMV) and was among the first overseas branches of the British record firm, Electric and Musical Industries (EMI). Surrounding the machine are flex panels summarizing the history of the company and its erstwhile logo—the Nipper Dog longingly facing a gramophone, which Francis Barraud painted around 1898 as a tribute to his dead dog, and which later, as the HMV logo, became one of the best-known trademarks of the 20th century. Text and photographs of artistes from Hindustani and Carnatic classical, Hindi and south Indian playback, devotional and Bengali music, who have recorded with the company, are also exhibited along with a copy of the original agreement that Tagore signed with the company before cutting his first musical record at the Dum Dum studio in 1928. An earlier recording of Tagore in 1905-06, the panel says, could not be preserved. These are among the estimated 300,000

tracks recorded by the music company in at least 19 major Indian languages, a chunk of it belonging to the era of records In one of the wooden cabinets, I spot a copy of Dil to Pagal Hai, the 1997 Hindi film which was also the last LP released by Saregama. From the cover, hero Shah Rukh Khan smiles into the camera, oblivious of the year that marked the end of the record for a music company that reportedly owns around 70% of old Hindi film music. While the Dil to Pagal Hai LP sold a mere few thousand copies, cassette sales were worth `15-20 lakh. “Back in the 1980s, owning a record like Disco Deewane or the Sargam soundtrack was like a status symbol,” says S.F. Karim, chief manager (content) at Saregama. Between the two LPs, around three million units got sold, and old-timers recall the flurry of activity at the Dum Dum factory when the chimney never stopped glowing. A vicious turn of

technology—first with handy audio cassettes and later with downloadable music becoming the sound of the digital revolution—and a cancerous growth of music piracy ensured that records became an icon of collective nostalgia. Muffled strains of music filter out from a room across the passage. Inside, senior recording engineer Pabitra Mukherjee is busy digitizing music from Saregama’s vast collection of analogue music, which includes approximately 10,000 LPs and 6,000 EPs (14-minute, extended-playing records) and SPs (7-minute, single-playing records). The digitized music is being preserved for future use, including for digital download. Antiquated Studer recording machines occupy one corner of the room. As the music of the 1950 Telugu film Shavukaru plays back warmly through JBL studio monitor speakers, Mukherjee explains the intricacy of his work while working on the high-end

computer. “While digitizing these songs and while reducing the noise I have to make sure that the depth of the voice and the tonal quality doesn’t suffer. Analogue technology allowed a lot of richness in voice and instrumentation, which is often not the case with digital technology,” says Mukherjee, complimenting an earlier era of recording science. A generation is growing up listening to music from hurriedly compressed MP3 files, rues Ashoke Mondal, manager of the Dum Dum studio. He says it without malice though—in 2006, market compulsions led Saregama to release its first MP3 compact disc, with Mondal heading the production. His colleague and veteran sound engineer Sujan Chakraborty shows a Studer analogue mixer where each knob had to be manually controlled, and the engineer’s experience and study of music certified the right balance in sound—the human touch to music recording, he says. “When compressed at 128 kbps, MP3 files leave out the delicate elements of the music and only retain the dominant factors, according to the laws of psycho-acoustics. The file size is reduced, but quality suffers,” Mondal explains. “Listeners who have only heard MP3s will never know that a better sound exists.” On the way out, Mondal opens the lid of one of the five wind-up gramophones in the studio. He winds the instrument for a few seconds and lets the pin drop on the vinyl. Instantly, the nasal singing of Devika Rani, joined soon by Ashok Kumar, from the 1936 film Achhut Kanya serenades the hall. The sound carries background hiss and there are sound drops where the pin passes through a scratch. But the record’s sound is intimate, anachronistic and strangely fresh. Write to lounge@livemint.com


Mint Lounge for 25 September, 2010  

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