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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Vol. 5 No. 48

LOUNGE THE WEEKEND MAGAZINE Seven­month­ pregnant Farzana Kharadi, a Parsi resident of Surat.

BUSINESS LOUNGE WITH COUNT ANTON WOLFGANG VON FABER­CASTELL >Page 9

IN THE LONG RUN Two seasoned runners give us a glimpse of their marathon wardrobe and tell us what they wear and why >Page 6

As the world’s population crosses the seven­billion mark, the dwindling Parsi community is trying to make its contribution >Pages 10­12

BUCKET LISTING IN CHICAGO

Home to the deep dish, where gumbo meets Greek gyros—this is the place for the ultimate food tour >Page 14

CARRYING HOPE

A PROBLEM LIKE MARIA

In a new book, ‘Mumbai Mirror’ editor Meenal Baghel tracks a chilling murder in Bollywood territory >Page 16

GAME THEORY

THE GOOD LIFE

ROHIT BRIJNATH

SHOBA NARAYAN

WHAT’S SPORTS GOT AMID A KOLKATA TO DO WITH RACE? FERMENT

A

page in a book can stop you. Make you put it down. Make you consider the alternate universe athletes existed in. Winning, for us, signifies trophy, cheque, fame. But once athletes won, they played on, for reasons far more profound. In the 1930s, recounts Marshall Jon Fisher in his exquisite A Terrible Splendor, the beautifully mannered German tennis player Gottfried von Cramm is told by Big Bill Tilden that he is playing too much. Whereupon he replies: “You don’t understand. I’m playing for my life. >Page 4

REPLY TO ALL

I

feel like I am in a Bengali movie. The scene is the dim-lit drawing room of producer and actor Arijit Dutta, whose family owns Priya Entertainments. Generations of Kolkatans have grown up watching movies at his Priya Cinema. Sitting to my left is National Award-winning director Aniruddha Roy “Tony” Chowdhury, who is sipping a single malt and spreading bonhomie. If he is stressed about next day’s shoot... >Page 4

AAKAR PATEL

DON’T MISS

in today’s edition of

A SAVIOUR IN IMRAN KHAN?

I

mran Khan might be made prime minister of Pakistan by that nation’s powerful military. If this is so, he will be the first Pashtun to lead the country. General Ayub Khan, dictator between 1958 and 1969, is seen as a Pathan but spoke Hindko, not Pakhtu. Having spent his life in the upperclass Lahore neighbourhood of Zaman Park, Imran actually doesn’t speak much Pakhtu either. But he is seen as an unbending Pathan by his followers. >Page 5

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

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ANIL PADMANABHAN TAMAL BANDYOPADHYAY NABEEL MOHIDEEN MANAS CHAKRAVARTY MONIKA HALAN SHUCHI BANSAL SIDIN VADUKUT JASBIR LADI SUNDEEP KHANNA ©2011 HT Media Ltd All Rights Reserved

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2011 ° WWW.LIVEMINT.COM

LOUNGE LOVES | WHY THIS KOLAVERI DI?

Rhythm correct By going viral on the Internet, a Tamil song becomes a genuine crossover hit B Y S UPRIYA N AIR supriya.n@livemint.com

································ ame is for stars. Internet fame is for cats, children in Star Wars costumes, weeping Britney Spears fans and Ashton Kutcher. Or apparently not, since Tamil superstar Dhanush just acquired an ardent following around India on the basis of one catchy song ‘Sing song’: Actor Dhanush. which went viral on YouTube last week. Why This Kolaveri Di?, set to music “Totally shocked…my Mexican friends by Chennai composer Anirudh Ravi- singing #kolaveri,” another person tells chander, written and sung by Dhanush Anirudh. “#Kolaviral,” remarks indusfor his film 3, is now a pan-Indian phe- trialist Anand Mahindra. Okay, maama. But why? Who are nomenon. It is a montage of mildly selfconscious studio footage in which Dha- “soup boys”? Why would Dilli shaadis nush and Anirudh record the song with tear themselves away from Sheila ki 3 co-star Shruti Haasan and director Jawani? Kolaveri has terrific Chennai Aishwarya R. Dhanush (the actor’s wife, rhythm, but perhaps its genius is in the and incidentally, Rajinikanth’s daugh- video’s simple English transliteration of ter), interspersed with studio chatter: the song’s lyrics. The words, which “Rhythm correct”. “Super, maama. Dhanush claims to have written as a stopgap for the tune in between shootReady?” The video accumulated well over a ing 3, go, “Distance-la moon-u moon-u, million views on YouTube within days moon-u colour white/White-u backof its upload on 17 November by Sony ground night-u night-u, Night-u colour Music. It’s difficult to say whether it has black-u...” By making syntax surplus to gained more attention in Tamil-know- requirements, its English becomes uniing south India, where its tone and versal and Dhanush’s urban-Tamil character are reasonably familiar, or the accent part of a global colloquy, undernorth, which has embraced its meta- stood by Mexicans, Emiratis and Delhidappankuthu (street dancing) style ites alike. The popularity of Kolaveri with singular fervour. “This is playing in apparently has less to do with its story Dilli shaadis,” trills one comment on (a flimsy grumble about a blackt h e v i d e o . “ H e a r i n g i n p u b s i n hearted girl from a rejected swain, or a Dubai…even Arabs singing ‘soup boys’ “soup boy”) than its sensibility. Its laidnow,” someone tweets the director. back humour has already spawned its

F

own ecosystem of jokes and fan art on the Internet, a dozen amateur covers on YouTube, and even an excellent Carnatic reworking. “It (Kolaveri) was insanely attractive in its simplicity,” says Mumbai-based Mohan Krishnamoorthy, one of the makers of the Carnatic re-take. “It had the feel of a song that its creators really enjoyed putting together.” Sucked into “the Kolaveri wave”, Krishnamoorthy says 25,000 people listened to their relatively arcane tribute in under two days. “It would have hardly reached national-level news if not for the English lyrics,” points out Aditya Shrikrishna, a Chennai blogger. “Songs in this genre are a dime a dozen in Tamil, mixing pseudo-elitism with pseudo-uncouthness, so to say. (The language) allows everyone to openly like and enjoy it.” In a country where Hindi cinema is often and inaccurately called a unifying force, the most remarkable thing about Kolaveri is its capacity to cross the undrawn borders between Madras and the Bollywood belt. Yes, the video is clever movie marketing, but it’s difficult to think of a single actor or producer in Hindi movies who would market with such a light touch, and, as Krishnamoorthy says, with such evident joy. Late last year, the release of Rajinikanth-starrer Robot set off waves of ironic hero worship for the veteran Tamil star through parts of India which have never really understood his popularity. The Rajini jokes and dubs of his films are not crossovers: They are signs of one culture bewildered by the other. Why This Kolaveri Di? and its young, unpretentious stars are a crack in that divide. It is in a language that, even if not known, can be recognized, and sometimes shared. Play it, maama. Why this Kolaveri Di? can be found at http://youtu.be/YR12Z8f1Dh8. The Carnatic tribute can be found at bit.ly/ subhaveri.

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Write to us at lounge@livemint.com KINDRED SOUL I read Shoba Narayan’s column, The Good Life, quite regularly. It evokes a feeling of kindred spirit, and never more so than the one on Inji (“Have you ever mourned a pet?”, 19 November). I too have a Labrador, Mylo, who turned 5 this May, and a husband who also professes dislike but sneaks in non­vegetarian food for him when we dine out! I remember that Mylo had an attack (I am assuming the same as Inji, as he had similar symptoms) when he was two­three years old. Now I am terrified and am sure one can never prepare for the inevitable. GAYATHRI PRADEEP

IN MEMORIAM Tojo, as my dog was called, was a cross between a Labrador and a Cocker Spaniel. Folded ears, lovely eyes, big guy and the girls found him cute. A constant companion in my school and college days. He lived to be 14. He died one night when I had gone to Chennai for an interview. I came back to Bangalore early in the morning and my mom broke it to me. I have never cried that much since. This was in 1991. I am 45 today but have never forgotten him. The licks when I got back home every day, his head on my lap at dinner, expecting a bit of ‘chapatti’ to be passed down—I could go on. Reading Shoba Narayan’s “Have you ever mourned a pet?”, 19 November, brought the tears back in my eyes. I can only imagine the pain she and her family are going through. Our pets give us immense joy but leave a lot of pain when they go. I have never had the courage to have another dog as a pet again. The usual excuses—transferable job, where will we leave him when we are on holiday, etc. But I wonder if deep down it’s the fear of loss. My children are crazy about dogs and I have decided to get one when I move back to Bangalore next year. I can’t deny them this simple joy any longer. MADHAV SAMANT ON THE COVER: PHOTOGRAPHER: ABHIJIT BHATLEKAR/MINT CORRECTIONS & CLARIFICATIONS: In “Arjun Rampal: How to win friends and influence people”, 19 November, Kushan Nandy has already directed two films.


L4 COLUMNS

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SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2011 ° WWW.LIVEMINT.COM

ROHIT BRIJNATH GAME THEORY

What’s sport got to do with race or gender?

A

page in a book can stop you. Make you put

FRANK TEWKESBURY/EVENING STANDARD/GETTY IMAGES

it down. Make you consider the alternate universe athletes existed in. Winning, for us, signifies trophy, cheque, fame. But once athletes won, they played on, for reasons far

more profound. In the 1930s, recounts Marshall Jon Fisher in his exquisite A Terrible Splendor, the beautifully mannered German tennis player Gottfried von Cramm is told by Big Bill Tilden that he is playing too much. Whereupon he replies: “You don’t understand. I’m playing for my life. The Nazis know how I feel about them. And they know about me (he was gay). They won’t touch me as long as I’m No. 1 in Germany and winning. But I must win. I can’t lose and I can’t quit.” Eventually von Cramm was arrested by the Gestapo. But he was scarcely alone in the sweaty struggle against discrimination. Athletes have had to win to make a point, have refused to quit despite humiliation simply to insist they are not lesser than any athlete. Of any sex, colour, nationality. Male tennis players mutter even today to me about equal prize money. They are like a whiny refrain of the 1970s chauvinist who told the magnificent Billie Jean King: “No one wants to watch you birds play anyway”. She proved that we do.

Women were not frail, but men, who made the rules, insisted they were. Men ran the Olympic marathon since 1896, but women earned this right 88 years later, and when they finally ran in Los Angeles in 1984, spectators wept. Now the marathon gap between the sexes is just 12 minutes, yet this is a wrestle unfinished. Turn to any sports page and it reveals an inherent bias towards men; turn to Augusta National, which golfers speak of in worship, yet find no need to address the absurdity of a major event at a club which allows no women members. But the most telling struggle has been about race and we have not learnt enough. Not learnt from Charlie Sifford, whose autobiography was titled Just Let Me Play, and who arrived at a golf course to find faeces in a cup. Not learnt from Althea Gibson, the tennis player, who changed in her car during tournaments because some dressing rooms barred her. Not learnt from boxer Joe Louis, who was

Triumph of merit: Billie Jean King. instructed by his handlers never to smile after beating a white boxer and suffered grotesque caricature. Wrote Paul Gallico once: “Louis’ handlers...remind me more of animal trainers than fight managers. They gentle their animal around until feeding time and fighting time and then they turn him loose.” Not learnt from early Brazilian footballers who whitened their face with powder or tried to flatten their frizzy hair. In Alex Bellos’ Futebol, he says historians suggest the dribble evolved among black players because physical contact with a white player could end badly so guile was the

superior option. Not learnt enough because when caddie Steve Williams, a man without a whiff of sense, uses the phrase “black arsehole” about Tiger Woods, we titter, raise eyebrows, say it’s out of context. He’s not a racist, but it’s a racist slur. It’s almost as if “black”, as a put-down, is just an acceptable prefix, a fallback pejorative. So he’s not fired by golfer Adam Scott, not fined, not banned. Not learnt enough because Sepp Blatter, boss of the widest game, says football has no racism on the field (in the stands, we can hear it) at a time when John Terry and Luis Suarez are facing precisely those accusations. The Times interviews a semi-pro club and finds two-thirds of the 31 players have heard racist language while playing (it also went from black to white). The Guardian peels back the years to display football’s uneven response to racism. Patrick Vieira gets called a “f***ing black monkey” in 2000 and the other player gets a two-match ban! Luis Aragonés, the then Spanish coach, refers to Thierry Henry as a “black shit” in 2004 and gets fined £2,000 (approx. `1.65 lakh)! Secondly, Blatter says, settle any racial slur on the field with a handshake. He’s suggesting heat of the moment works as an excuse. He’s saying civility can fly with the whistle, discrimination can follow the tackle. He’s saying there are no boundaries that are uncrossable. He is, in effect, undermining everything every

African-American athlete fought for. Yet, Blatter apologizes and stays. Barring mainly the English media, the response is muted. It’s an unworthy silence, a disturbing quiet. Sport has never quite been the separate planet of nobility we presume it to be. Its belief that here, in the fields of everyman’s dreams, merit takes precedence over all else and harmony reigns, remains somewhat misplaced. Yes, sport has dismantled barriers, it has lifted the Caucasian Only code that infected golf, it has made pin-ups of African-American athletes (though male athletes, with the odd exception of rugby player Gareth Thomas, are rarely openly gay), it has made for studies in assimilation. But in the week that Basil D’Oliveira died, a cricketing man who wept at the discrimination he faced, it is a battle not just continuing, but a battle that needs voice. To not speak out in the present is to disrespect the courage of the past. Billie Jean King would title her book on women’s tennis, We Have Come a Long Way. Yes, but not far enough. Rohit Brijnath is a senior correspondent with The Straits Times, Singapore. Write to Rohit at gametheory@livemint.com www.livemint.com Read Rohit’s previous Lounge columns at www.livemint.com/rohit­brijnath

SHOBA NARAYAN THE GOOD LIFE

In the middle of a Kolkata ferment

I

feel like I am in a Bengali movie. The scene is the dim-lit drawing room of producer and actor Arijit Dutta, whose family owns Priya Entertainments. Generations of Kolkatans have grown up watching movies at his Priya Cinema. Sitting to my left is

National Award-winning director Aniruddha Roy “Tony” Chowdhury, who is sipping a single malt and spreading bonhomie. If he is stressed about next day’s shoot, he does not show it. Across him is gifted actor, musician and director Anjan Dutt, who, with his beard, spectacles and absent-but-possible cigarette, looks as a polymath should. Near him is Srijit Mukherji, erstwhile economist, theatre actor and film-maker, who holds a stack of invitations for his “daughter’s wedding”, as he puts it—his film’s premiere, in other words. Beside him is Birsa Dasgupta, whose parents and grandfather were in films. He talks about Bollywood and Bengali films with the fluency of an insider, having worked in both industries. Actor Parambrata Chatterjee is the object of much teasing, thanks to his Dutch girlfriend. “How can a Bong patao a Dutch girl?” the others ask. In the middle sits Raj Chakraborty, who says little but grins a lot. The others tell me that he is the most commercially successful director in the group. The pièce de résistance, as far as I am concerned, is a beautiful Bengali woman who comes in carrying plates filled with fried bhetki and prawns; momos and dips. She is clad in a simple yellow soft cotton sari that is pulled around her head. She looks about 50, with a fair, round face and bright red bindi. She is Dutta’s

housekeeper, but the courtesy with which he treats her speaks of long association. She opens the door and hands him the plate. I hear whispers of hilsa and bhetki. She nods and shuts the door. Dutta takes the plate around. I am entranced by the lady with no name; the others don’t seem to register her presence. When he learnt of my interest in Bengali cinema, Dutta offered to organize an adda for me. The ease with which the group came together at a few days’ notice speaks of a camaraderie that is absent in other areas, let alone Bollywood. A top Kolkata fashion designer, for instance, tells me that the fashion frat in his city does not fraternize. Certainly, I cannot imagine Tamil directors coming together and discussing their films with the self-effacing generosity that this crowd did. None of the directors here talk about their movies. Instead, they use each other’s films to illustrate a point. “The entire scenario has been changed by Raj,” says one. “He has shown that no matter what story you say, the production cannot be shoddy.” As they refill glasses, they discuss union strikes, distribution and funding. Perhaps this sense of community is what keeps these directors in Bengal. Bengali films have started picking up after years of decline. In 2007, 56 Bengali films were made. In 2011, that

INDRANIL BHOUMIK/MINT

number has climbed to 130. What draws these directors is a sense of history and the ability to work outside the straitjacket that Bollywood imposes. Mukherji talks about the thrill of working in the same studio where Satyajit Ray worked; where Mrinal Sen walked; where Uttam Kumar applied make-up. “That gives me goosebumps,” he says. “In Bombay, you get a lot of templates. Here, every film-maker is a template unto himself,” says Chowdhury. “The road was opened by Anjan-da and Tony-da,” credits Dasgupta. “We have a huge legacy, but the pace here is leisurely and vibrant.” “Yes, but let’s not pander to the stereotype of Bengalis being a soft race,” someone says. “We are very aggressive, very racist.” “The stereotype of the intellectual Bengali was the class that Uttam Kumar represented,” Dutt says. Dutta adds a layer. It wasn’t just Bengali movies that were set in Kolkata, he says. Early Indian English films too were made in the city—36 Chowringhee Lane, for instance. By now, the “Kolkata as a global city” argument that the group is aiming for is apparent. “Even Ray was very global,” Mukherji adds. “And Robi Thakur (Rabindranath Tagore) was very global. He marketed himself very well.” “And Vivekananda marketed himself very well,” adds Dasgupta. Any moment now, I expect the swami to open the door and walk in. Soon, they are all correcting each other and adding to the argument and smoking and drinking. The door opens and closes. The lady with the red bindi makes her Shakespearean “exits and…entrances” and “all the world’s a stage”. The scene fits every Bengali

Cultural ‘adda’: Generations have grown up watching movies at Kolkata’s Priya Cinema. stereotype I have; every one that they insist is not true. “My grandfather wore a dhuti (dhoti) but played Frank Sinatra at home,” says Dutt. “So please, let us not say that Bengali-ness is about dhuti and rosogolla and bhadralok. Let us not make them this monolithic paan-chewing group who wants to make movies instead of selling potatoes.” Frankly, this group would be terrible at selling potatoes. Look at them now, talking about Truffaut and Kieslowski and Wong Kar-wai. These aren’t brittle, time-conscious Bollywood film-makers who are engaged in the debilitating high-stakes game of commercial cinema. These are “artistes” who have made their peace with commercial success. They don’t disdain it any more; they go after it. “Look at us,” says Dutta. “We are talking about distribution, posters, hoardings. Two

pegs down, and we are all relaxed.” I ask Chatterjee, the young actor, why he is in Kolkata instead of Mumbai. “Kolkata is an international city but it hasn’t reached saturation point,” he replies. “I want to be part of that ferment.” Tamil film actor, Suriya, much as I enjoy him, could not have delivered that line. He might have attempted that sentence, but to use the word “ferment”? That word and that line can only be owned by a true-blue “intellectual Bengali”, the one that these guys insist doesn’t exist. Shoba Narayan thanks Arijit Dutta for his adda. Write to her at thegoodlife@livemint.com www.livemint.com Read Shoba’s previous Lounge columns at www.livemint.com/shoba­narayan


COLUMNS L5

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SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2011 ° WWW.LIVEMINT.COM

AAKAR PATEL REPLY TO ALL

Does Pakistan have a saviour in Imran Khan?

I

AAMIR QURESHI/AFP

mran Khan might be made prime minister of Pakis-

Next in line? Imran Khan at a political rally in Islamabad.

tan by that nation’s powerful military. If this is so,

When Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Bugti rebelled, his followers fell with him in a missile strike ordered by Musharraf. This killing triggered yet another round of Balochi militancy, and has kept the army busy there because of a dictator’s mindlessness. Pakistan’s founding ideology is hatred. Jinnah had no real understanding of India, of Muslims or of caste. He rejected democracy’s majoritarian principle with- out realizing what he was setting about. States founded on such unstable principles always yearn for saviours. Pakistan’s latest is Imran, and like the others he will fail.

he will be the first Pashtun to lead the country. General Ayub Khan, dictator between 1958 and 1969, is seen as a Pathan but spoke Hindko, not Pakhtu.

Having spent his life in the upper-class Lahore neighbourhood of Zaman Park, Imran actually doesn’t speak much Pakhtu either. But he is seen as an unbending Pathan by his followers. Oxford-educated Imran does not believe in evolution, and this helps with those who think of him as their saviour. He married a Jewess, whom he let go of when his ambitions required him to be conservative. He is favoured by the army because he wants peace with the Taliban. The army is done fighting them, and also wants compromise. The other reason is that Pakistan’s economy has sunk. Pakistan’s generals are worried about a reduced share of defence spending and believe that a clean politician is all that’s needed to revive the economy. This is untrue, but Pakistan’s generals are not marked by their intelligence. Imran is a Pashtun from the Niazi tribe that is actually quite urban. The Pashtuns don’t have caste and in that sense are different from South Asians. However, other Pashtuns don’t have a high opinion of the Niazis. Another famous Niazi was A.A.K. “Tiger” Niazi, who surrendered 92,000 Pakistani soldiers to Punjab Regiment’s Jagjit Singh Aurora in Dhaka. In Pakistan, the Punjabi is enamoured of the Pathan because he represents the extreme end of honour on the subcontinent. It is true that the Pashtun has honour (in Zanjeer, Pathan Pran offers one hair of his moustache as collateral to a bania moneylender—who declines, saying the Pathan’s word is sufficient). But because of his rigidity the Pathan has no economy, no culture and is barely literate. This condition represents the Pakistani’s utopia. He seems on course to achieve it presently under Imran. The man whose votes the army wants to give Imran is Nawaz Sharif. Though Sharif’s fans call him the lion of Punjab, his father was from Kashmir and the family name was Butt. This makes Sharif a Brahmin because Butt is the unfortunate Punjabi pronunciation of Bhatt. The word “Sharif” is to show high birth, and Muslims of upper caste call themselves Ashraf, from the same sh-r-f root as Sharif. In his case it is true, as we have seen. Sharif is seen by Pakistani columnists as being not very bright. This may be so, but he is a moderate and relatively sensible leader, attracted to compromise because of his years running his father’s business, an iron foundry. The “Sharif/Ashraf” claim is repeated in the name of the general who overthrew him, Musharraf. I’m not sure if it’s valid in his case. Many Indian Muslims claim high birth and if we were to tally all of our Syeds and Sheikhs there would be 10 times as many Arabs of noble birth here than in all Arabia. Pervez Musharraf was not intellectual. He sent his men to die in Kargil without thinking his plan through. Their deaths were in vain, for India’s position was seen with sympathy from then on, and that is a terrible outcome for such sacrifice from jawans. But Musharraf rejected blame and fired Sharif to become dictator. Governance made Musharraf pragmatic. It knocked sense into his head, as they say. Once he saw what a ghastly place Pakistan has become, he ended the jihad in Kashmir, something which India hasn’t given him proper credit for. These days he is a sad figure, as all former dictators are. He is paying `12.5 lakh a month to the Washington lobby firm Advantage, initially for an eight-month contract, in the hope that the US will install him again. Prudently, Advantage insisted on taking the first two months’, and the last month’s, fee in advance.

To return to what we discussed earlier, there are quite a few upper-caste converts to Islam in north India. Allama Iqbal was also from a family of Brahmins. The Hurriyat Conference, haters of secularism, is actually full of Brahmins, from families converted in the last few centuries. One of them is Abdul Gani Bhat, whom reporters love for his colourful quotes, but he’s unhinged. The most prominent Brahmin of Pakistan was its most charismatic leader. The name Bhutto is also derived from Bhat, and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s father was of Brahmin stock. More about him later. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was messianic and unstable. He was cold enough to have the police brutalize his cleverest follower, old J.A. Rahim. And he was sensitive enough to weep at the sight of labourers breaking boulders with their hands. We know this from the memoirs of his leftist finance minister Mubashir Hasan (The Mirage of Power: An Inquiry into the Bhutto Years, 1971-77). Hasan spends hundreds of pages detailing legislation and process and gossip, but omits to tell us he sat in a cabinet that apostatized the Ahmedis. There’s no mention of this constitutional amendment at all. Hasan is afraid of being killed by his countrymen, true, but then why keep pretending to be a liberal? In his memoirs (Working with Zia: Pakistan’s Power Politics 1977-1988), General K.M. Arif wrote about how Bhutto spent his last hour in jail before being hanged. He lost his bearings, and started sweeping the floor. Then he demanded hot water for a shave (“I don’t want to die looking like a bearded mullah”) and then began weeping, too distracted, he admitted, to be able to write his will. The man who hanged Bhutto, Zia-ul-Haq, was from the non-martial caste of Arain peasants of Jalandhar. He was more wily than his warrior generals, and gave Pakistanis what they wanted: full-dress Sharia with all the flogging of drunks, amputation of thieves, beheading of murderers and stoning of adulteresses that Islam promises its faithful. He is a hero, and trucks across Pakistan still bear his likeness and that of Ayub. Many Pakistanis yearn for these punishments, which remain on the books, though not carried out by a frightened judiciary. In that sense the Taliban are only demanding implementation of Pakistan’s constitution. Bhutto was born to Junagadh’s prime minister Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto from his second wife, a Hindu of the scheduled castes. The petty Muslim aristocracy never let him forget that, and it is why Bhutto hated Hindus so much. There’s an excellent story in Sherbaz Khan Mazari’s memoirs (A Journey to Disillusionment) about Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri sitting on a chair and repeatedly turning his face away from Bhutto when, as president of Pakistan, Bhutto tried to speak to him to offer him the job of chief minister of Balochistan. As a “higher” noble, Marri could not accept a job from a lower one. In the memoirs of one of his chamchas Rafi Raza (Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Pakistan 1967-1977), there is a photograph that is quite revealing. Bhutto and his gang are dressed in dark Nehru jackets, but with flashy, braided epaulettes, Bhutto’s being flashiest of all. It is a head waiter’s costume, but they probably thought they appeared grand in a martial culture that loves uniforms. Another thing I found strange about Bhutto was a line in Benazir’s memoirs (Daughter of the East). She writes after his death of going through his wardrobe and smelling his favourite perfume, Shalimar.

Made by Guerlain, it is actually a scent for women. Benazir Bhutto was the best leader Pakistan ever had, including Muhammad Ali Jinnah. She had matured in exile under Musharraf and would have tried to free Pakistan from the embrace of Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda struck first and with her went Pakistan’s last chance. I’m not sure what the provenance of Asif Ali

Zardari’s name is. Like Bhutto, he is a Sindhi-speaking Baloch feudal, though a Shia, like Jinnah. Baloch are tribals, but different from the Pashtuns in a vital sense. The Baloch surrenders to his tribal chief and is not independent and individualistic, like the Pashtun is. Under 1% of the Pakistan army is made of Baloch, and they are known to be deserters, running back to the village. That does not mean they are cowards.

Aakar Patel is a director with Hill Road Media. Send your feedback to replytoall@livemint.com www.livemint.com Read Aakar’s previous Lounge columns at www.livemint.com/aakar­patel


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In the long run

Five new shoes that are geared for marathon runners, with technology focused on endurance use B Y G OPAL S ATHE

Two seasoned runners give us a glimpse of their mara­ thon wardrobe and tell us what they wear and why B Y S ONYA D UTTA C HOUDHURY ··························································

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gopal.s@livemint.com

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V ISESHIKA S HARMA ANIRUDDHA CHOWDHURY/MINT

Arun Sirdeshmukh The Bangalore-based chief executive of Reliance Trends began running two-and-a-half years ago, after he gave up squash. “I had injured my back, it was a prolapsed disc and I wasn’t allowed to play squash,” says Sirdeshmukh, who runs on Wind Tunnel Road and Cubbon Park in Bangalore. Having graduated from running 10km to the half marathon to a full marathon, Sirdeshmukh has read a stack of running books as well as done a fair amount of Internet research to perfect his running gear. He tells us why he never runs without his Garmin watch and why he won’t change his shoes even though they are beginning to fray. Edited excerpts: What have been some of your recent runs? I ran the Kaveri Trail Marathon; it’s beautiful but it’s also reputed to be one of the toughest runs. Last week, I ran the Bangalore 25km. I plan to run the Delhi half marathon, the Bangalore midnight run and then the Mumbai marathon. What do you wear when running? I wear Performax shorts and T-shirt and also socks. Which brand of shoes do you prefer and why? I have two pairs of sports shoes. I reserve the pair which fits me perfectly and is a favourite for my runs. It’s an Asics Gel Nimbus 8, and even though they are old and fraying I won’t give them up

Nike Zoom Structure Triax+ 15 Shield On the fast track: Arun Sirdeshmukh’s running accessories include sweat­proof Sennheiser earphones (above); and a Garmin watch.

New Balance MR890 trainer

because they fit so well. The other pair which I wear for practice runs is also Asics—Asics Gel Nimbus 11 (these shoes cost $80-120, or `4,200-6,300). When I started running, I did a lot of reading on the Internet and discovered Asics is a favourite brand with many runners. It gives you options for different shapes of feet—for the flat foot, the foot with a midarch or a high arch. When I was in Singapore on work, I went to the Asics store and the salespeople there looked at my feet

and recommended a high arch for me. The shoe follows the contours of my feet perfectly. What about accessories? I wear two armbands. I always carry my 8 GB iPod. It has a special play list of 250 songs titled “On the run”. I use special Sennheiser earphones—these are good for runners because they loop around the ears, and don’t come off like regular earphones. Which watch do you wear? I always wear my Garmin. I bought it in Melbourne a year ago. I find it useful since it gives

you the distance you have run and also gives you your speed. It beeps after you complete every kilometre, and also tells you how long you have taken to complete that kilometre. Where do you shop for your running gear? In Bangalore at Decathlon. It’s a massive sports shop with all sorts of gear. I got my water pouch, my iPod armbands, from there. There’s also a good shop in Indiranagar in Bangalore called Getoff Ur Ass which has good sports accessories. Also Sport XS in Bangalore.

Available at www.myntra.com Price: `4,999 The favourite shoe brand of the late co­founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, New Balance TruBalance shoes are designed to distribute the body weight more evenly, and are more like walking shoes than run­ ning shoes. These shoes are great for long­dis­ tance use, and prevent blisters, calluses and bunions.

Adidas adiPure trainer Available from November­end at Adidas outlets Price: `4,999 The adiPure Trainer is part of the “barefoot run­ ning” movement, and is supposed to help by pro­ moting balance and dexterity through natural posture and mechanics. The shoes offer the comfort of barefoot exercise, but add the protection, traction and durability of shoes, with toe separation and a minimal sole of a quarter­inch.

ABHIJIT BHATLEKAR/MINT

Elsie Nanji The Mumbai-based managing partner at brand design agency Red Lion, a unit of Publicis Communications, Nanji began running in 2008 and usually runs from Nariman Point to Chowpatty. Her commitment to the track is evident—her closet features a stack of running shorts and T-shirts, while a large drawer houses the many accoutrements. She tells us what she wears while running. Edited excerpts: How long have you been participating in marathons? I have run the half marathon in Mumbai for the last four years. I’ll be 56 when I run my fifth half-marathon in January. What do you wear when you run? I wear a T-shirt and shorts. I’ve noticed a lot of women don’t wear shorts to run in India, and so the stores don’t seem to stock any good ones. But I don’t feel comfortable running with something covering my knees, so I always wear shorts. I wear a dryfit T-shirt because otherwise I come back drenched in sweat. It’s less about fashion and more about comfort. What about accessories? I always have a wristband on to wipe off sweat because I sweat a lot. A headband, for the same reason and always a visor because it gets really hot. I also carry a small bottle of water and my shorts have a zipped pocket at the back for some money.

Available at Nike outlets Price: `7,295 This 15th generation shoe from Nike focuses on comfort and stability. It fea­ tures a notched cradle where the feet are placed, allowing for a closer fit. This keeps cold air out while running by making the shoe nearly airtight. The insole is designed to keep the toes warm, while the sole has a multi­surface grip for safety in frosty conditions. The water­resistant fabric means that running in slightly wet conditions won’t be a problem.

Reebok Zig Nano Top gear: A Nike wrist­ band (above, right) and Puma visor are among Elsie Nanji’s essentials while running.

How do you choose your shoes? I have two pairs of shoes, and I alternate them because they have different kinds of pressure points and you’re advised to do that. I used to have shoes that weren’t right for my feet—all my toenails used to fall off when I was in training. This summer, I was in New York and I visited The Running Company. They take a video of you running, analyse your gait and then make recommendations based on the

observations. They said you have to have a distance of half an inch from the tip of your longest toe to the tip of your shoe for a perfect fit. So now I have shoes that fit perfectly. I wear New Balance shoes and another pair of Mizuno. I considered the “barefoot running shoes”, but they told me not to bother— those shoes aren’t made for non-standard feet. My second toe is a lot longer than my big toe, so there was no way I could

wear them. Do you wear a watch when you run? I do. Someone gave me a complicated instrument with GPS and various other features. I was trying to figure it out but it was just beyond me! Finally, my trainer told me to just throw it out. I couldn’t see (without my glasses) so there was no point having such a fancy watch. Now I just wear Chanel J12. Where do you shop for your sports goods? I picked up a lot of stuff at The Running Company. Every little thing has so much thought put into it. The socks are so breathable and they grip your feet at the arch and ankle—so many things that I’d have never thought about. I pick up stuff wherever I travel. Sports bras in India are all like cropped tops that you slip into, and I find those uncomfortable. So I tend to buy them abroad where you get them with a hook closure at the back. I pick those in Bangkok or Singapore. viseshika.s@livemint.com

Available at select Reebok outlets Price: `4,999 onwards The Zig Nano is a thinner version of Reebok’s ZigTech running shoes. The shoes are designed with a zig­zag pattern on the sole that is sup­ posed to absorb the heel strike and transfer the force forward for easier running. The Nano line offers less spring back for a far lighter shoe, mak­ ing it much more suitable for distance running.

Puma Vectana Available from November­end at most large shoe retailers Price: `7,500 The latest running shoes from Puma are more tra­ ditional stability trainers than their earlier speed­ focused Faas line. The broad design is recom­ mended for heavier runners who land hard on their heels. This makes the shoe ideal for dis­ tance running on flat tracks—such as marathon running—but less suited to rough surfaces of steep inclines.


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SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2011

Parenting

LOUNGE MY DAUGHTERS’ MUM

LEARNING CURVE

NATASHA BADHWAR

GOURI DANGE

When the baby is ready for school H THINKSTOCK

i, I am Naseem. When she has to write this column, my mother always asks us for help. What should I write, children? Sahar gives big-big answers. Aliza says ice cream. Tell parents to give ice cream to their children. Aliza wants chocolate ice cream all the time. I just want what they have. I am a big girl. I am three years old. My mother says I dance like Govinda. Govinda must be a funny dancer. I know some poems also. I like the iPod. I know stories. I want to go to school. Mamma keeps saying that she will send me to school but she doesn’t. I am worried for her. Sometimes she is just a timidapoo. That means a person who gets scared easily. My sisters go to school in a big yellow bus. I will go in a small yellow bus. I have a bag and a water bottle. I also have a school uneeforum. Mum tried it on me the other day and then took it off quickly. She spoke to her friend on the phone for a long time after that. Mum says she doesn’t want anyone to tell me which colour to choose when I am colouring. I like colouring. And drawing. I make big hats on everyone’s head when I make cards. It makes them laugh. Aliza makes rainbows

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The goodbye: A child’s first day at school can be tough for mothers. for me to colour. I want to eat tiffin from a tiffin box. I like children. When I meet my sisters’ teachers, they always give me toffees. Mamma was saying to Papa the other day that she worries about how big people speak to me. She doesn’t like little children’s annual day functions. But she always claps a lot and takes photos. She takes off her glasses and wipes her eyes. So I don’t know what she was talking about. Maybe this is about the little ones who cry on stage and want to go to their Mammas. Like I told you, I am a big girl. I know how to talk to people. Sahar teaches me. She says if

anyone says anything bad to you just give them a big “ghoosa”. She shows me with her fists. That makes me laugh. I can give anyone a ghoosa. My mother has a toilet problem also. I like toilets. Toilet paper and scented soap and that machine on the wall that makes a whoosh noise. We giggle and dry our hands. When Mum is in a good mood, she takes photos of us making funny faces in the mirror. But most of the time she is very strict in toilets. DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING! She says that a lot. It is difficult for me to not touch anything. I will fall in the pot. I hug her legs and sit. She’s funny, my Mamma. But wait. This is about school. Not toilets.There are yellow tiles in the school toilet that Mum and I went to check the other day. She liked that. We also looked at the playroom. Full of toys and puzzles. And big-big swings in the sand. I loved it. But my Mum, she looked at everything with her hand on her mouth. Scaredypoo Mamma! Oh, the doorbell is ringing. I have to go and get my polio drops. I like them, the polio drop didis. They look nice and smile at me. One day my mother got upset with a didi. Your hands are dirty, you should clean your nail polish before you put polio

drops in children’s mouths, she said to the didi. I like washing my hands. I play in the mud a lot. I think grown-ups are very tense people. When she will meet you, my mother will smile sweetly and laugh and all. But when she is alone, I have to entertain her a lot. “I’m not sure Naseem can stay away from us for so long,” she said to Papa today. He laughed and said, “She will be just fine. She won’t even think of you.” I went to her with my puzzle box and made her make puzzles. She is easy to distract. So please talk to my mother. Also talk to her after I have gone to school. Take her out for a pastry. Because I don’t want her to cry when I am away. She is a big crybaby, this Mamma of mine. Sometimes. Talking about her is making me miss her. Now I am going to climb into her lap. Natasha Badhwar is a film-maker, media trainer and mother of three. Write to Natasha at mydaughtersmum@livemint.com www.livemint.com To read Natasha’s previous columns, visit www.livemint.com/natasha­badhwar

DON’T JUDGE YOUR CHILD My 10-year-old son sometimes pinches money from my purse or from the change kept in a small drawer in the kitchen. When confronted, he either says he didn’t take it or laughs it off saying “just for fun” Should I just ignore it or take it seriously? This is a tightrope walk for any parent. Does one laugh it off with just a “you bad boy” kind of admonition, or does one read the child the riot act? Parents tend to fall on either side of the rope. For some parents, it’s easy to laugh it off; for others, it is easy to give vent to fears and pet theories, and turn it into a family crisis. The more complex and demanding requirement from a parent is to come up with an appropriate response. Which would be: a) to communicate your disapproval without rejecting and labelling the child A no­no: Talk your child out of pinching what’s not hers or his. outright, and b) to talk, in age-appropriate terms, about the concept of boundaries, both physical and abstract—which means that sneaking into your bag as well as taking stuff that is not his is a no-no. Our children must feel that we are there for them as providers and nurturers, and that we are happy to give them the things they need and enjoy. But when they take it for granted, and simply grab or pinch things, we need to pull them off the road for a quiet talk that brings in important concepts such as boundaries, rules and honesty. Also, get to another core issue, as gently as you can, about whether he feels awkward asking for things. The conversation would help him learn to simply ask, whether they are things that you would easily give him, or things that you would need to think about before giving him. Gouri Dange is the author of ABCs of Parenting. Write to Gouri at learningcurve@livemint.com


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SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2011

Play

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PREVIEW

Nokia’s second coming Can Nokia’s first Windows Phone help the company in the smartphone battle? B Y G OPAL S ATHE gopal.s@livemint.com

···························· he Nokia Lumia 800 is the first phone born from the Finnish firm’s partnership with Microsoft, and it could well be the last chance Nokia has at being the leading phone maker. While the company is still doing well in India with a range of low-cost phones, the smartphone market has left Nokia’s Symbian handsets far behind, and the Windows Phone 7.5, Mango-based Lumia is instead a reworked Nokia N9. However, the Lumia 800 lacks both the front-facing camera and notification light which the N9 had, and because it now has Windows Phone buttons on the front, the screen is slightly smaller. RAM is also halved, from 1 GB to 512 MB, and on-board storage is 16 GB instead of the maximum possible 64 GB for the N9. Does this really matter to users? Not significantly. We used a pre-retail unit running an earlier version of the software than the final retail product, and it held up well against other leading smartphones. The first thing that works for the Lumia 800 is its looks. It’s got the same body as the N9, and is one of the most distinct phones available. It’s available in multiple colours,

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enough for any user—the phone doesn’t set any records with these specifications, but rather seems designed with realistic usage scenarios in mind. This, along with a power-efficient display means that the 1,450 mAh battery needs to be charged once every 24 hours. The Lumia 800 has a Clear-

and unlike the many iPhonestyled slabs out there, has a slightly curved profile, and lightly bevelled edges. The body itself fits into the screen so neatly that with a black handset, you really can’t tell where the screen starts. The polycarbonate shell looks great, is pretty hard to scratch, and feels reassuringly strong as well. The Lumia 800 performs well for most standard tasks—loading pages, using Twitter and Facebook, taking pictures and photo editing all worked perfectly. All these features are built into WP Mango, and don’t require the user to download apps. Apps also worked well, including most 3D games, although a few did cause it to stutter, just a little. On the other hand, loading Web pages, even with a lot of images and video, was a crisp experience. The lack of a frontfacing camera for video conferencing is puzzling—particularly as even budget devices now come The Lumia 800: It is a with this feature. powerful and attractive The single core device, in multiple colours. processor runs at 1.4 GHz, more than

Black AMOLED screen, just like the Samsung Galaxy S2, and the display is exceptional. The richness of colours and contrast on the screen makes viewing videos and pictures a peerless experience, and WP Mango’s live tile interface makes the best use of the display. The bright and colourful interface looks good even out-

doors with the Lumia 800. The 8 MP camera on board might not be the best in its class—both the Galaxy S2 and the iPhone 4S give better results in low light conditions. The built-in camera app for Mango, though, is one of the easiest to use, with a dedicated camera button that can take photos even when the phone is locked, and comes with built-in image editing tools similar to the highly popular iPhone app Instagram. Taking pictures on the Lumia is also extremely fast, and it’s not likely to disappoint buyers, but it won’t wow them either. The Lumia definitely looks great and works well—but is the OS going to help or hinder its adoption? For first-time smartphone buyers, Windows Phone is an excellent choice. The app selection is narrower than that of Android or iOS, but almost every major app from both platforms is available for Windows Phone users already. Unlike early adopters of Android, WP users have

plenty to choose from. Connecting the phone to your computer, syncing and managing the device storage are all simple tasks for any Windows user. The interface is also the first major departure from the iOS bed of tiled icons. While it needs a little micromanagement to keep everything organized, the layout is easy to use and fairly intuitive—contacts and messages, for instance, integrate your phone, email and social network communications into single tiles. These tiles act as widgets that constantly update with the latest activity right on to the home screen, seamlessly. All these features are also what might keep people away from the device—it’s such a big change from the way you use your phone that it takes a lot of getting used to. The Lumia is a sophisticated smartphone that melds its hardware beautifully with the Windows Phone OS. The phone will officially become available mid-December, with the price expected to be around `29,000.

TRY BEFORE YOU BUY If you’re already using a Nokia handset running Symbian, and want to know a bit more about the Windows Phone OS and the features of the Lumia 800, then you can download the free Nokia Lumia 800 app from the Nokia Store. The app shows a virtual handset so you can look at the device and explore the Windows user inter­ face, and get an interactive tour of the Windows Marketplace and other aspects, such as the new Internet Explorer, Menu and People interfaces.

That multiplayer effect More Indians are gaming online than ever before

media, Timmy Kandhari, says, “The online market is the fastest growing segment in gaming today, with an annual growth rate of 59.7%.”

The gamers B Y G OPAL S ATHE gopal.s@livemint.com

···························· all of Duty: Modern Warfare 3—launched earlier this month—has broken all sales records, making over $400 million (`2,108 crore) worldwide in the first 24 hours after its launch. The previous game in the series made publisher Activision richer by $2 billion last year, and analysts are predicting that this game will be a lot more successful. The game is excellent—the multiplayer campaign is a roller-coaster that leaves major Hollywood blockbusters far behind, but the single player experience is a little over 6 hours in total, a far cry from the 30-hour experiences of older video games. Online multiplayer is the big driver here, and India is getting on board with this new trend. As per PricewaterhouseCoopers’ “India Entertainment and Media Outlook 2011” research, the gaming market in India is already at `830 crore, and growing at 25%—this is the sale of software alone and does not take into account the sales of consoles and peripherals. PwC executive director and leader, entertainment and

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Online multiplayer pits humans against other humans instead of artificial intelligence (AI) driven opponents. The results are unpredictable, and there is a strong social element built into it as well—most people return to the same servers at the same time regularly, and so a community builds around these games. Games like Modern Warfare 3 have built-in chat features so you talk to the other players—to discuss tactics, and chat a little. It’s not uncommon to form real-world friendships

based on in-game interactions. Since many of the game modes involve teams, people form groups that play together as a team, which can also take part in tournaments, online and offline. India is also participating in the World Cyber Games (WCG) in Korea this year for the third year running—the WCG held trial tournaments for Indian teams to select players for the games that will take place in December. Younger gamers, those still in school or college, dominate the multiplayer community, both in India and elsewhere. Today though, a large number of older gamers are also connecting online. Nitin Maheshwari, 27, works for ITC in Mumbai and has

been playing video games for most of his life. He says: “I used to go for tournaments earlier, before I started working, but now I don’t have the time for that any more. But I still play games online—I bought Gears of War in September, and I’ve been playing online almost every night for an hour or two. I have some friends from college, who are now in other cities too, and we try and plan it so we are online at the same time and can play together.” Suresh Balakrishnan, 20, is a final-year student at Delhi University. His parents realized they could turn his interest into multiplayer gaming into a reward system for getting good marks—as long as his progress

meets expectations, his parents keep renewing the Xbox account. He says: “My friends and I downloaded Modern Warfare 3 together for our laptops, and we’ve been having LAN parties every day for 3-4 hours. That way we don’t need to all have Xbox Live accounts, but online play is better because right now we have only four players. Online, you can have much bigger teams.”

The next phase Anshu Mor, category head, interactive entertainment business, at Microsoft India, says multiplayer gaming is growing fast in India. “In the last year, the company’s online gaming service, Xbox Live, grew 45%,” he says. According to Mor, services like Xbox Live haven’t even scratched the surface yet: “Internet connectivity in smaller towns is terrible. That’s why we’re betting 3G

LAN party: (above) Gamers gather for a tournament in Delhi; and a still from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. will be a real game-changer. Console sales aren’t just limited to the big cities, they’re fairly evenly distributed, and if 3G becomes widespread, it will have a knock-on effect for online gaming as well.” The launch of new games, such as Modern Warfare 3, is a big reason for this. New releases focus on multiplayer, and this is increasing the numbers for services like Xbox Live and PSN directly. Mor confirmed this, saying: “Three recent games, Gears of War 3, FIFA 2012 and now Modern Warfare 3, all lead to huge spikes in online gaming on our network. With all three, the spike took place from Day 1—people ignored single player entirely.”


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SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2011

L9

Business Lounge

LOUNGE COUNT ANTON WOLFGANG VON FABER­CASTELL

Don’t write us off yet The chairman­CEO of the stationery company says pencils will last longer than we imagine B Y A RUN J ANARDHAN arun.j@livemint.com

···························· n a brief visit to Mumbai in the first week of November, Count Anton Wolfgang von FaberCastell was already carrying at least 150 Christmas cards. The idea was to sign them whenever he was free, well in time for the year-end festive season. “If you don’t hand write them, don’t send them,” he says. It’s not his version of a campaign to get more people to write, though as chairman and chief executive officer of FaberCastell AG, the stationery company headquartered in Stein, Germany, he would probably prefer that over emails. But Count Anton’s habit is more of an old-fashioned etiquette that’s easy to explain. The 70-year-old heads a company which is 250 years old—he was in Mumbai as part of an Asian tour that included South Korea, Malaysia and Indonesia to celebrate this landmark. He is now the eighth generation of the family that founded the company in 1761 which has a current group revenue of over €450 million (approx. `3,100 crore). Count Anton is tall, in a dark suit in which I fail to see a FaberCastell pen peeping out of the coat pocket. He does not smile much and perhaps because of his height and the low seating, struggles to find a comfortable enough

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position in the course of the meeting. We meet at Taj Lands End, affectionately called a “sundown” meeting by his office staff, but by the time we do sit down, it’s already dark outside. Faber-Castell has been present in India since 1998, an association that was propelled by Count Anton, who saw Asia as the next big market. His father, he says, was the one who pushed the business in Latin America. Count Anton also came to India first, preferring it over China, because of the English language. Today, he is not entirely satisfied with their business in India, but he is not displeased either. “I wish it would go faster,” he says about the growth. “But it’s not so easy in India, particularly, to get the distribution right. But we have some excellent opportunities. If I look at our foreign competitors, nobody’s been able to establish their own company, including manufacturing processes. It’s all relative, isn’t it? If you are satisfied, then something is wrong. So I am, in principle, not satisfied. We have great potential, so we should grow faster. We have been growing 15-20% on a small base.” He says the challenge for the company is visibility and communication. He has already been asked twice about getting some celebrity endorser for the company during this trip to India. Though the company brochure carries endorsements

from people like Vincent van Gogh, there is nothing to connect to the current generation of Indians. “From a German point of view, I would be reluctant, but from an Indian point of view, maybe it’s a good idea. We will pursue it. We should become more open and creative regarding the means to communicate the brands and products, which may differ from country to country,” he says, thoughtfully. I ask him what makes the company tick or even survive for over two centuries, remain relevant and continue to stay within the family. “You can learn from the Castells,” he says carefully, in his clear German-accented English. “In that, you have to make up your mind whether to survive for a long time or build an empire which might fall apart next generation. If you like to keep something long term, you have to be cautious with financial commitments. The objective is the company stays in family hands, but each generation has to work for it; you can’t take it for granted.” Though the company has survived wars and revolutions, it has also staved off threats of acquisition. Count Anton says he has now made it completely clear that they are not for sale. Even though it’s privately owned, Faber-Castell AG functions like a corporate firm, with independent, renowned outsiders on board. “What you always have to keep in mind is that companies are never destroyed from outside but from the inside—through arrogance, leniency, strategic mistakes and pompousness,” he says. Count Anton himself did not

have a seamless transition into the company. After getting a degree in law from the University of Zurich in 1966, he interned with a lawyer for a year and then with Faber-Castell in Stein, Germany, again for a year. He ventured into investment banking in 1971 in London and New York, later with Credit Suisse First Boston and White Weld Ltd, before coming back to the family business in 1978. “I went to another company to make my own career and came back because my father got sick, with prostate cancer,” he explains. “The secret of taking a company further is to restrict family influence,” Count Anton continues. “You have to try and include as few people from the family as possible or you have fights between family members, which is unpleasant because it’s emotional. I believe in concentrating the power because if you are too democratic, you don’t reach a decision in business. It’s important to structure your business so whoever is in charge can come to clear decisions. That’s my challenge for the next generation.” That’s not Count Anton’s only challenge. In a digital world, where cutting costs in offices means stationery is the first thing to

go, where emails have already replaced the post, where a notepad is a computer software and a paperless world is looking increasingly realistic, what is the future of stationery? “It will probably last longer than we believe,” says Count Anton. “The question is in what

IN PARENTHESIS Count Anton Wolfgang von Faber­Castell says that in Germany his title is part of the name. This law was put into place after World War I, so he has to use the title. “I have a second cousin who is married into the (royal) house of Prussia,” says Count Anton. “If we were still an empire, he would have been the emperor!” Unfortunately, he says, the title gives them no special benefits. Growing up as one of 10 children, he went to boarding school in Switzerland. “Chauvinism was non­existent. I was never brought up keeping in mind the title. On the contrary, my parents put great emphasis on a normal upbringing with sound values,” he says. JAYACHANDRAN/MINT

quantities. It was already my concern 30 years ago with the pencil business which, to my surprise, is stronger than ever. One of the reasons is because pencils, especially coloured, are needed for education, they don’t dry out, last forever and are environmentally friendly. “In Germany, for instance, I wouldn’t say the business is growing but it’s stable. Globally, colour pencils are growing because of education and demand in developing countries. Children might start early with computers, but as we know from brain research, it’s important that children use their hands for motor development and mental skills. “There was a dream of a paperless office, which has remained a dream. Where there is paper, there is the need for pencils. Colour, including artist pencils, will remain for 50-100 years because they have special features but in limited quantities.” Pencils are Faber-Castell’s most prolific product—the company manufactures two billion black-lead and colour pencils a year, and is the world’s leading maker of wood-cased pencils. It’s also the product that brought the company to Asia-Pacific some years ago, given the young population in the region and the growing demand for education. For an ageing Germany, like the rest of Europe, Faber-Castell focuses on luxury products, though Count Anton dislikes using the word. “There will be a trend (in the future) to buy more luxury products with more money around in developing countries. Particularly for men, there are few status symbols: a watch, a pen, maybe cufflinks. We decided to enter the field in 1993 with a small line of high-priced pencils. We would have started with fountain or ball pens, but we would have been in competition with Mont Blanc and the others. With a luxury pencil, everyone was surprised.” He leans forward with a rare smile and says: “You know why people have an affection for our products? Because they are, still in some ways, reminded of their childhood.” Family business: Count Anton is not sure if any of his four children, including three girls, will enter the family business—though, he says, they should have a ‘fair chance’.


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SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2011 ° WWW.LIVEMINT.COM

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2011 ° WWW.LIVEMINT.COM PHOTOGRAPHS

SOCIETY

CARRYING

BY

ABHIJIT BHATLEKAR/MINT

Rising numbers: (clockwise from left) Seven­month­pregnant Farzana Kharadi with husband Vispy and son Zidaan; Shahpore, the heart of Surat’s Parsi community; banker Hoshang Firoz Vesuna left Shahpore for a suburban apartment with his wife Nazneen and sons Kayan and Farzan; Eric Bhathawala and Zenobia got this one­bedroom flat from the Surat Parsi Panchayat in Shahpore’s Zarthosti Building, where they now live with their family, including their year­old daughter Manashni and Eric’s mother Beroz; and the Parsi General and Maternity Hospital in Shahpore.

HOPE As the world’s population crosses the seven­billion mark, the dwindling Parsi community is trying to make its contribution B Y M AYANK A USTEN S OOFI mayank.s@livemint.com

···························· arzana Kharadi is carrying the weight of her community’s hopes. Not because this 29-year-old is a former beauty queen or a trained fashion designer. She is trained in Bharatanatyam, but that’s not it either. Her community is looking to her simply because she is seven months pregnant. Kharadi is a Parsi, a section of society whose countrywide population would just about fill Kolkata’s Eden Gardens. “I have a three-year-old son, so this one will be an addition to my family,” she says, cradling the rounded curve of her stomach. “It will also mean one more Parsi.” Descendants of the Zoroastrians who landed on Gujarat’s shores from Iran a thousand years ago, India’s Parsi population flourished till 1941. According to Demographic Transition or Demographic Trepidation? The Case of Parsis in India, a paper presented at a National Commission for Minorities seminar in 2004, the Indian Parsi population peaked at around 114,000 in 1941. By 2001, their numbers had declined to 69,000. Kharadi lives in Surat, a town in Gujarat that is bucking this downward trend. The Parsi population here—the fourth largest in the country (at least 3,700, according to the directory of Zoroastrian residents of Surat, 2010)—has increased by 6% over six years. Sixty-five Parsi babies were born in the last five years in the city. Surat today has 200 more “Bawajis” (the local term for Parsis) than it did in 2005, according to the Surat Parsi Panchayat. The city’s directory of Parsis extends to over 100 pages. “The increase is substantial considering our tiny size,” says Parsi novelist Bapsi Sidhwa from her residence in Houston, US, on email. Sidhwa says that at 700, Houston has as many Parsis as Delhi. “It’s only in Surat that our numbers have gone up,” says Darayas Master, president of the Surat Parsi Panchayat, the administrative body for the community in the city. Sitting in his office, a palatial building donated by an erstwhile nawab, he says, “Our scheme of giving flats on cheap terms to newly married couples can be followed in other panchayats.” In 2006, the panchayat started renting out flats at nominal rates to young people on the condition that they got married. Thirty-five flats have been

F

given, and a new apartment building is coming up in Shahpore, the biggest enclave of Surat’s Parsis. The Gujarati slogan reads: “You provide children to the community, we will provide you shelter.” Kharadi’s soon-to-be-born baby is independent of the panchayat’s scheme. She lives in suburban Surat with her banker husband. But the scheme has been a boon for others. The market value of each one-bedroom flat is `6 lakh, and they are all owned by the panchayat, whose real estate holdings are worth `6,000 crore, according to Master. The flats are rented out for `200 a month. “We give precedence to those who are not in a position to buy or rent a flat and, for that reason, don’t get married,” says Master. As we converse over cups of chai, a girl in salwar-kameez enters the office carrying her wedding invitation, a document that has to be submitted with the application for a flat. Ferzin Rustom Guard is from Valsad, a town 72km away. A banker, she is getting married later this month. Her fiancé lives with his parents in a one-bedroom flat. “If there was no such scheme,” she says, “I would have postponed my marriage.” “This has brought hope to us,” says Dinshaw Mehta, chairperson of the Bombay Parsi Panchayat, the administrative body for the community in India. “We are copying the Surat formula.” In 2007, the Bombay panchayat started allotting housing on a priority basis to couples wanting to get married. It rents out flats in areas such as Andheri and Navroz Baug. Flats are also coming up in Goregaon and Andheri. “We’d started with 25% priority for young couples; now we have made it 50%,” says Mehta. What accounts for the rise in Surat’s numbers? Ghambars, or social get-togethers, have helped young Parsis meet, steal glances, and have matches fixed by aunts over food. The yearly frequency of such get-togethers has increased nearly fourfold over the last decade, from 20 to 75. The migration of Parsis from the surrounding towns and villages, attracted by the accommodation on offer, has helped boost Surat’s numbers. While this may have led to a fall in the population in rural regions, the chances of finding a partner from within the community improved. Although the city is a hub for the textile and diamond industries, Surat’s Parsis work in banks or run small businesses,

operating electrical shops, pharmacies and travel agencies. The women pursue handicrafts—weaving saris with Parsi embroidery or making chutneys and preserves. “Seeking higher education is not very much in evidence in Surat,” says Villoo MorawalaPatell, founder, chairman and managing director of Avesthagen Ltd, a Bangalorebased life sciences company that is conducting a genomic study of India’s Parsis. “So early marriages take place, hence the child-bearing years are long,” says Morawala-Patell, who has interviewed many of Surat’s Parsis. Despite being just 0.08% of the city’s residents, the Parsi presence is disproportionately visible. The most beautiful houses in the old town are Parsi-built. The most popular bakery, Dotivala Bakers and Confectioners, is run by a Parsi. The city has four Parsi pockets—Shahpore, Syedpur, Nanpura and Rustampura. Of these, Shahpore—home to the panchayat—is the community’s heart. With residential blocks, badis, bungalows, mansions, schools, hostels and old-age homes, parts of Shahpore remain a Parsi cluster. A store selling sandalwood sticks does brisk business outside the Shehensahi Atash Behram, the city’s biggest agiary (fire temple). Young dasturs, or priests, walk the streets dressed entirely in white. Men sit on terraces wearing the mandatory soudreh, a white muslin vest, and kusti, a string of sheep’s wool tied around the waist. Shahpore’s Parsi General and Maternity Hospital, built circa 1920, has winding staircases, carved pillars, sprawling hallways, framed portraits and ornate windows. Its centrepiece is the labour room, complete with an old-fashioned crib. Until 30 years ago, Parsi women stayed in the hospital for 40 days after delivery and regularly hosted evening parties at the hospital; the hospital food was apparently so delicious that stories are told of Parsis faking illness in order to be admitted. Wandering its corridors today, however, there are no pregnant women in sight. The rooms are empty, the doctors’ quarters are closed, and the last few residents are elderly people left behind by their children. Outside, the children of Muslims, Shahpore’s newest settlers, are using the street as a makeshift cricket pitch. Many subtle shifts shaping Parsi society are overlooked on

the grounds that they don’t matter greatly in the face of the greater crisis. These issues, such as religious orthodoxy, women’s rights, a growing concern among the young about numbers, and evolving dynamics with other religions, are easier to detect in Surat than, say, in Mumbai, where one’s sense of the community can be limited to the neighbourhood or housing complex within which one lives. “I want to marry, and I’ll marry only a Parsi,” says Kayomarz Homi Gyara, 21, a BCom student. Staying single is not a stigma among Parsis. “If people like me have at least two children, we can maintain our present number.” Gyara’s eldest sister is 26; she is getting married this month. She will be applying for a flat in the new building. A Parsi girl who marries outside the community is still allowed entry into agiarys provided she hasn’t converted to her husband’s religion; her children, however, are not considered Zoroastrians. The children of Parsi men married to nonParsi women are Zoroastrians, but the wives are not permitted to convert. TURN TO PAGE L12®

YOU PROVIDE CHILDREN TO THE COMMUNITY, WE WILL PROVIDE YOU SHELTER.” SLOGAN OF THE SURAT PARSI PANCHAYAT


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SOCIETY

CARRYING

BY

ABHIJIT BHATLEKAR/MINT

Rising numbers: (clockwise from left) Seven­month­pregnant Farzana Kharadi with husband Vispy and son Zidaan; Shahpore, the heart of Surat’s Parsi community; banker Hoshang Firoz Vesuna left Shahpore for a suburban apartment with his wife Nazneen and sons Kayan and Farzan; Eric Bhathawala and Zenobia got this one­bedroom flat from the Surat Parsi Panchayat in Shahpore’s Zarthosti Building, where they now live with their family, including their year­old daughter Manashni and Eric’s mother Beroz; and the Parsi General and Maternity Hospital in Shahpore.

HOPE As the world’s population crosses the seven­billion mark, the dwindling Parsi community is trying to make its contribution B Y M AYANK A USTEN S OOFI mayank.s@livemint.com

···························· arzana Kharadi is carrying the weight of her community’s hopes. Not because this 29-year-old is a former beauty queen or a trained fashion designer. She is trained in Bharatanatyam, but that’s not it either. Her community is looking to her simply because she is seven months pregnant. Kharadi is a Parsi, a section of society whose countrywide population would just about fill Kolkata’s Eden Gardens. “I have a three-year-old son, so this one will be an addition to my family,” she says, cradling the rounded curve of her stomach. “It will also mean one more Parsi.” Descendants of the Zoroastrians who landed on Gujarat’s shores from Iran a thousand years ago, India’s Parsi population flourished till 1941. According to Demographic Transition or Demographic Trepidation? The Case of Parsis in India, a paper presented at a National Commission for Minorities seminar in 2004, the Indian Parsi population peaked at around 114,000 in 1941. By 2001, their numbers had declined to 69,000. Kharadi lives in Surat, a town in Gujarat that is bucking this downward trend. The Parsi population here—the fourth largest in the country (at least 3,700, according to the directory of Zoroastrian residents of Surat, 2010)—has increased by 6% over six years. Sixty-five Parsi babies were born in the last five years in the city. Surat today has 200 more “Bawajis” (the local term for Parsis) than it did in 2005, according to the Surat Parsi Panchayat. The city’s directory of Parsis extends to over 100 pages. “The increase is substantial considering our tiny size,” says Parsi novelist Bapsi Sidhwa from her residence in Houston, US, on email. Sidhwa says that at 700, Houston has as many Parsis as Delhi. “It’s only in Surat that our numbers have gone up,” says Darayas Master, president of the Surat Parsi Panchayat, the administrative body for the community in the city. Sitting in his office, a palatial building donated by an erstwhile nawab, he says, “Our scheme of giving flats on cheap terms to newly married couples can be followed in other panchayats.” In 2006, the panchayat started renting out flats at nominal rates to young people on the condition that they got married. Thirty-five flats have been

F

given, and a new apartment building is coming up in Shahpore, the biggest enclave of Surat’s Parsis. The Gujarati slogan reads: “You provide children to the community, we will provide you shelter.” Kharadi’s soon-to-be-born baby is independent of the panchayat’s scheme. She lives in suburban Surat with her banker husband. But the scheme has been a boon for others. The market value of each one-bedroom flat is `6 lakh, and they are all owned by the panchayat, whose real estate holdings are worth `6,000 crore, according to Master. The flats are rented out for `200 a month. “We give precedence to those who are not in a position to buy or rent a flat and, for that reason, don’t get married,” says Master. As we converse over cups of chai, a girl in salwar-kameez enters the office carrying her wedding invitation, a document that has to be submitted with the application for a flat. Ferzin Rustom Guard is from Valsad, a town 72km away. A banker, she is getting married later this month. Her fiancé lives with his parents in a one-bedroom flat. “If there was no such scheme,” she says, “I would have postponed my marriage.” “This has brought hope to us,” says Dinshaw Mehta, chairperson of the Bombay Parsi Panchayat, the administrative body for the community in India. “We are copying the Surat formula.” In 2007, the Bombay panchayat started allotting housing on a priority basis to couples wanting to get married. It rents out flats in areas such as Andheri and Navroz Baug. Flats are also coming up in Goregaon and Andheri. “We’d started with 25% priority for young couples; now we have made it 50%,” says Mehta. What accounts for the rise in Surat’s numbers? Ghambars, or social get-togethers, have helped young Parsis meet, steal glances, and have matches fixed by aunts over food. The yearly frequency of such get-togethers has increased nearly fourfold over the last decade, from 20 to 75. The migration of Parsis from the surrounding towns and villages, attracted by the accommodation on offer, has helped boost Surat’s numbers. While this may have led to a fall in the population in rural regions, the chances of finding a partner from within the community improved. Although the city is a hub for the textile and diamond industries, Surat’s Parsis work in banks or run small businesses,

operating electrical shops, pharmacies and travel agencies. The women pursue handicrafts—weaving saris with Parsi embroidery or making chutneys and preserves. “Seeking higher education is not very much in evidence in Surat,” says Villoo MorawalaPatell, founder, chairman and managing director of Avesthagen Ltd, a Bangalorebased life sciences company that is conducting a genomic study of India’s Parsis. “So early marriages take place, hence the child-bearing years are long,” says Morawala-Patell, who has interviewed many of Surat’s Parsis. Despite being just 0.08% of the city’s residents, the Parsi presence is disproportionately visible. The most beautiful houses in the old town are Parsi-built. The most popular bakery, Dotivala Bakers and Confectioners, is run by a Parsi. The city has four Parsi pockets—Shahpore, Syedpur, Nanpura and Rustampura. Of these, Shahpore—home to the panchayat—is the community’s heart. With residential blocks, badis, bungalows, mansions, schools, hostels and old-age homes, parts of Shahpore remain a Parsi cluster. A store selling sandalwood sticks does brisk business outside the Shehensahi Atash Behram, the city’s biggest agiary (fire temple). Young dasturs, or priests, walk the streets dressed entirely in white. Men sit on terraces wearing the mandatory soudreh, a white muslin vest, and kusti, a string of sheep’s wool tied around the waist. Shahpore’s Parsi General and Maternity Hospital, built circa 1920, has winding staircases, carved pillars, sprawling hallways, framed portraits and ornate windows. Its centrepiece is the labour room, complete with an old-fashioned crib. Until 30 years ago, Parsi women stayed in the hospital for 40 days after delivery and regularly hosted evening parties at the hospital; the hospital food was apparently so delicious that stories are told of Parsis faking illness in order to be admitted. Wandering its corridors today, however, there are no pregnant women in sight. The rooms are empty, the doctors’ quarters are closed, and the last few residents are elderly people left behind by their children. Outside, the children of Muslims, Shahpore’s newest settlers, are using the street as a makeshift cricket pitch. Many subtle shifts shaping Parsi society are overlooked on

the grounds that they don’t matter greatly in the face of the greater crisis. These issues, such as religious orthodoxy, women’s rights, a growing concern among the young about numbers, and evolving dynamics with other religions, are easier to detect in Surat than, say, in Mumbai, where one’s sense of the community can be limited to the neighbourhood or housing complex within which one lives. “I want to marry, and I’ll marry only a Parsi,” says Kayomarz Homi Gyara, 21, a BCom student. Staying single is not a stigma among Parsis. “If people like me have at least two children, we can maintain our present number.” Gyara’s eldest sister is 26; she is getting married this month. She will be applying for a flat in the new building. A Parsi girl who marries outside the community is still allowed entry into agiarys provided she hasn’t converted to her husband’s religion; her children, however, are not considered Zoroastrians. The children of Parsi men married to nonParsi women are Zoroastrians, but the wives are not permitted to convert. TURN TO PAGE L12®

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“Almost 30% of the girls in Delhi, Mumbai and the US are marrying out of the community,” says novelist Sidhwa. “Their spouses should be allowed to convert to the faith if they wish to. The wives of Parsi men should also be permitted to become Zoroastrians. Many men are marrying outside the community, and although their children are allowed to retain their faith, they seldom choose to, because their mothers are not accepted into it.” There have been instances when women married to nonParsis have been refused entry to agiarys. In Valsad, one such person was denied permission to attend a funeral. In 2010, the issue reached the Gujarat high court in the form of public interest litigation. Taboos, however, won’t die out with a favourable verdict: “Once you pick a non-Parsi as your husband,” says Kharadi, “you have cut off your ties. There can’t be an entry after an exit.” The Zarthosti Building in Shahpore is home to 100 residents. These congested single-bedroom flats might usher in a baby boom, but they may also put an end to

joint families. Eric Bhathawala and Zenobia, who run tuition classes together, are a couple who have managed to keep their family together. Eric, who met Mumbai-based Zenobia on the matrimonial website Shaadi.com, came to Surat from his ancestral village only on receiving a flat from the panchayat. Soon after, his parents moved in with them. The couple’s year-old daughter is the youngest Parsi in the building. At the other end of the spectrum is Hoshang Vesuna, a 37-year-old bank manager, a Parsi who left Shahpore to integrate into Gujarat’s mainstream society. His is the only Parsi family in the apartment building in which he lives. “I didn’t want my children to grow up in a ghetto of Parsis and Muslims,” he says. “They should live in a cosmopolitan set-up.” One afternoon, Aadil Bhoja, a Parsi businessman living in a posh duplex apartment on Ghod Dod Road, drove around Shahpore, where he spent his childhood in the 1970s. Pointing to an alley, he said: “This is Machlipeeth, the butcher’s street. The Muslim area ended here. Ahead were the Parsis.” A minute later, Bhoja stopped the car and, waving to his right, said: “Here was Karnak

BY

ABHIJIT BHATLEKAR/MINT

Sense of the place: (above) Boys playing outside Kadami Hall, a commu­ nity centre for Parsis in Shahpore; and business­ man Aadil Bhoja with accountant Khusro Ruwala at the latter’s home in Shahpore. House, my home. There were two storeys and the entire structure was of wood. We had carved doorways, balconies that jutted out, sculptured jaalis and a redgabled roof. Our neighbour had 10 children.” The house has been replaced by a modern apartment block called Al-Marhab. On the other side of the street is a wooden house raised on a platform, where a Parsi family continues to live. Step inside, and it’s like a museum: an antique clock, a wooden chest, iron trunks, a period mirror, an ornately carved table and a portrait of the prophet Zarathustra. Dressed in blue jeans and wearing his soudreh and kusti, Khusro Ruwala, the 27-yearold accountant who lives in this house with his father, says: “There’s pressure on us to sell this property. Soon, I’ll need another place to live. That’s why I’m thinking of marrying. I’ll get a flat then.”

PHOTOGRAPHS

BY

ANIRUDDHA CHOWDHURY/MINT

GOING THE

PARSI WAY There is no immediate threat of extinction but the Kodavas too are worried about dwindling numbers

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air-skinned, educated and Westernized, they are the Parsis of the south. And their numbers too are declining— from 175,000 in 1992 to 125,000 in 2010 (Bureau of Economics and Statistics). Kodavas, or Coorgis, are concentrated in Coorg, Karnataka, which the British turned into a major district of coffee plantations. The land is also known for its mist-cloaked hills scented with honey, cardamom and oranges. Kodavas are more numerous than India’s Parsis, Bahá’ís and Jews but that’s no solace. “We might vanish by 2030,” says Chepudira M. Thilak Subbaiah, president of the Kodava Samaja Bangalore that held its centenary celebrations in early November. “Young Kodavas are educated workaholics and don’t care about families. They don’t want more than one child.” According to Subbaiah, Bangalore has the largest population of Kodavas (35,000) after Coorg (70,000). “The concern is not so much of losing at a numbers game,” says Sarita Mandanna, whose debut novel Tiger Hills was set in Coorg at the turn of the 20th century, “but the risk of losing an entire way of life, and the land as we once knew it.” Kodavas are warrior-caste Hindus but their festivals and rituals are different. They have no priest, no holy fire and no dowry in weddings. They are great pork eaters. They worship Kaveri, the river that originates in Coorg. With a literacy rate estimated at 80%, their vocabulary

is a mix of Persian, Sanskrit, Hindi, Kannada, Tamil and Telugu. Almost everyone has an estate—it could be 1 acre or 500 acres. Some say they migrated from the Kurd region in West Asia, others claim they are descendants of Alexander’s army. Traditionally a martial race, they have produced army icons like K.S. Thimayya and K.M. Cariappa. Other notable Kodavas are athlete Ashwini Nachappa and VJ Nikhil Chinappa. Explaining the reason behind the dwindling numbers, the Bangalorebased author, Prof. P.S. Appaiah, says: “Until 1950, families had at least half a dozen children each. After the government introduced family planning, the Kodavas showed the most enthusiasm. General Cariappa himself would tell us not to go beyond two children. He said that we couldn’t afford to make India a jam-packed stadium.” The Kodavas have been known for their well-knit joint families. “With better education and exposure, Kodavas are opting for smaller families, a trend that’s evident in most of educated India,” says Mandanna. “With land no longer jointly held within a family, but being parcelled into smaller acreages, it’s no longer viable to support a large brood of children.” Young people are moving to cities like Bangalore, Mysore and Mumbai, where many have found their calling in the IT industry. “Many Kodavas are finding it hard to find suitable life partners within Kodavas, which forces

Parsis of the south: Scenes from the centenary celebrations of the Kodava Samaja Bangalore earlier this month. them to marry non-Kodavas or stay as singles,” says Kishor Cariappa, moderator of KodaguCommunity.com, a site where people discuss topics ranging from marrying outside the community to Kodava cuisine. A woman married to a Kodava is not considered a Kodavathi, but the children of the marriage are Kodavas. “Not so if a Kodava woman marries outside, in keeping with traditions observed in most of the country,” says Mandanna, whose sister married a Tamilian Brahmin. “Marrying within the community has its advantages in terms of a shared cultural background, but it is no guarantee of happiness, and I think a lot of

the older Kodavas have come to recognize that.” Despite the alarmists, there is no scare of extinction yet. “We are not going down like the Parsis,” says Mumbai-based art director Dipti Subramani, a Kodava who married outside her community. “I think we can maintain our present numbers.” How can they be increased? “We’re asking people to have more babies,” says Subbaiah. “Instead of criticizing young people marrying nonKodavas, we must open our arms to people from other communities and not treat them as ‘outsiders’,” says Cariappa. However, some have other concerns. “If the Kodava population too goes up,” says Appaiah, “imagine what will be India’s fate.” Mayank Austen Soofi


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Jazz in the time of raga The brightest new star of jazz on his search for Indian­American identity through music

BY R U D R A N E I L S E N G U P T A rudraneil.s@livemint

·································· ndian-American jazz musician Rudresh Mahanthappa’s latest album, Samdhi, begins with an invocation—a saxophone twisting around an electronic drone, an Eastern inflection here, a post-bop line there, a burst of speed, a slowing down to a melodic phrase. In the next track, when a riff explodes on top of a funk rhythm layered with mridangam beats, and Mahanthappa trades jazz solos with guitarist David Gilmore, you know you’ve entered the treasure chest of styles and confluences that marks the sound of one of the fastest rising jazz stars of this decade. With a host of awards under his belt, Mahanthappa was recently voted the No. 1 Alto Saxophonist of 2011 by the Downbeat Critics Poll, which puts him on the same lists as some of the most legendary names in jazz, like Wes Montgomery and Wayne Shorter. The raga- and electronica-tinged jazz of Samdhi, which was conceived with a 2008 Guggenheim Fellowship, is the newest of his restless experiments with his music. “I’d always wanted to assemble an electric band and was waiting for the right opportunity,” Mahanthappa, 40, says in an email interview.

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Since 2002, the New York-based musician has released 11 albums, working with a wide range of artists, including fellow Indian-American jazz pianist Vijay Iyer, an Indo-Pakistani trio with Pakistani-American guitarist Rez Abbasi and the Dakshina Ensemble with Carnatic maestro Kadri Gopalnath. Though his music today is heavily bent towards exploring his Indian roots through jazz, Mahanthappa spent much of his formative years struggling to escape the ethnic pigeonhole. Mahanthappa was raised in Boulder, Colorado, US, where his parents were teachers. In the 1970s, there were few Indian families in Boulder, and Mahanthappa’s childhood was allAmerican. He picked up the saxophone at 11, and his first teacher introduced him to a variety of music—progressive rock, big band jazz, Afropop—just about anything, as long as it had solid musicianship. Mahanthappa used that eclectic learning to play in a wide range of bands himself—rock, ska, reggae, salsa and even wedding bands. It was only when he went to Berklee College of Music to study jazz performance that the question of ethnic identity popped up. “I began to realize that I was neither white nor black,” Mahanthappa says. “However, I did not have a solid template on which to base Indian-American identity. I was often ‘accused’ of being an expert on Indian music by others simply based on the colour of my skin, while the only Indian music I grew up listening to were bhajans. I did want to explore Indian music in greater depth but needed to find a way to do so at my own pace.” He got that chance in 1993, when he was part of a student

ensemble from Berklee which was sent to India to play at the Jazz Yatra. “On that trip, I had the chance to see concerts by some of the most legendary Indian classical musicians,” he says. “One concert in particular (where Parveen Sultana was singing) changed my life. I went to a record store in Bangalore the next day and bought as much music as I could carry.” Mahanthappa’s search for his own voice in jazz had begun. It was given a big push by another discovery—Mahanthappa’s brother gifted him a CD which said Saxophone Indian Style as a joke. But that album, by Gopalnath, who plays Carnatic music on the saxophone, became a revelation. “This was a big gateway for me as I was able to sit with this album and learn by ear in the same way that I had already been doing with (John) Coltrane,” says Mahanthappa, who eventually came to India to work with Gopalnath in 2005, immersing himself in the Carnatic strains. “I wasn’t attempting to master Carnatic music,” he explains, “My goal was to compose work that would highlight what we both did. I focus on the building blocks of each art form and see where they compare and contrast.” The Gopalnath-Mahanthappa collaboration made its debut in May 2005 in New York to instant acclaim, and in 2008, they distilled their material into the album Kinsmen. Between hearing Gopalnath’s music for the first time and actually working with him, Mahanthappa had spent a decade forging his ethnic identity into his work and honing it into a mature, cogent sound along with Iyer. “We met at the Stanford Jazz Workshop (in 1994),” says Mahanthappa. “Our initial

MUSIC MATTERS

SHUBHA MUDGAL

ART OF THE ROYALS

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n discussing a bygone era of discerning patronage, we often hear musicians say “Raje-maharajon ki baat kucch aur hi thi…”. Indeed, many of the painstakingly researched facts in D.B. Kshirsagar’s fascinating Hindi book Jodhpur Riyasat Ke Darbari Sangeetagyon Ka Itihaas leave the reader awestruck, both for the wealth of information that the scholar shares, and for the vision and sagacity with which the rulers of Jodhpur patronized music. We learn of details concerning the taleemkhana or training section that was re-established during the reign of Maharaja Man Singh, where talented young women performers under the patronage of the ruler were taught the fine nuances of music and dance. Called taleemvaali or khaas khelivaali, these women were recruited and trained by accomplished artistes in the service of the Jodhpur rulers. The recruits would receive a stipend of `30 a month and were housed in the zenana quarters, where a retinue of servants was assigned to them. A strict record of expenses was maintained for all the activities in the taleemkhana, and thus we learn that in Vikram Samvat 1914 (roughly 1857, according to the Gregorian calendar), a total of `23 and 10 annas was spent on several heads, including the repair of six tabla pudis or skintops, the purchase of strings WIKIMEDIA COMMONS for the sitar and sundry other activities! Possibly, recruits from the taleemkhana who received critical acclaim for their expertise were promoted to a division of the palace known as akhaada or department of accomplished performers. These women performers came to be known as “gayan”, “goyin” or “goyini”—their names invariably carried a suffix of “Rai”, for example, Gayan Rangrooprai. An exceptionally accomplished artiste could be directly enrolled in the akhaada. Among the many documents that were examined Umbrella: A scene of royal patronage. by Kshirsagar are detailed reviews of performances held in the palaces. An undated review of a performance by vocalist Imambaksh, who served the court of Maharaja Man Singh, details that he first rendered dhrupad and khayal. The performance was just about competent, meriting neither praise nor criticism. Thereafter, acceding to a farmaish or request for tappa, he first sang a pracheen tappo or time-tested composition, but then moved to a tappa in a modern style, which was not appreciated. Besides which, twice his taan paltas were not up to the mark. Similar analyses of many artistes, including accompanying artistes, were documented, providing scholars insights into the manner in which music was patronized, presented and encouraged by the rulers of Jodhpur. Without doubt, in a feudal culture, patronage of the arts could not have been without its politics, scandals, and even a selfish desire to present oneself as a benevolent patron. Yet, today’s supporters of traditional music in India, few and far between though they may be, could learn a thing or two from the Jodhpur royalty, who not only provided performance and training opportunities for the artistes, but saw to their well-being with a long-term vision that included taking care of medical requirements, sanctioning loans for weddings or other events in the artiste’s family, and even constructing kalavanton ki chaukis or studio spaces for riyaaz where they were expected to hone their skills on a regular basis when not performing in the durbar. If today’s patrons lack this vision, they could consider commissioning translations of this book, so that more readers can marvel at this lost tradition of informed patronage. Write to Shubha at musicmatters@livemint.com

Not curry music: Mahanthappa with his saxophone. fascination was that neither of us had met another Indian-American jazz musician before and we were chasing similar ideas and concepts.” What tied them together was also the fact that both of them were circumspect about using Indian influences in jazz, partly because of their lack of knowledge about Indian classical music, and partly because the EastWest blending in jazz had been happening since the 1960s already. Record labels and the music industry were eager to market their “Indianness” (“why don’t you do an album with Ravi Shankar?” was a common refrain). Instead, Mahanthappa and Iyer went

on with their own projects, using Indian elements in their music carefully, producing albums that have been critical successes. Mahanthappa is currently touring Europe to promote Samdhi, but he is still on the lookout for innovation. “Everyone I look up to in music is always searching for something new,” he says. “I hope that my work continues in the tradition of jazz as an exploratory art form that engages with and speaks to contemporary culture.” Samdhi is available for purchase at the iTunes store and on www. rudreshm.com


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Travel

LOUNGE DANIEL SCHWEN/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

TRIP PLANNER/CHICAGO

You will need a visa for the US. Apply for one through VFS (www.vfs-usa.co.in). There are long waiting times for an appointment with the embassy or consulate, so book well in advance. There are direct flights to Chicago from New Delhi. Most airlines offer convenient one-stop flights from most Indian cities: Delhi Mumbai Bangalore Delta (SkyTeam) R75,300 Lufthansa/ United Airlines (Star Alliance) R85,690 R79,400 R95,230 American Airlines/ Jet Airways (oneworld) R86,930 These are round-trip fares. They may change.

Airport

CHICAGO

The best time to visit Chicago is in summer—June-September. The cultural scene is at its liveliest and the weather is excellent.

Millennium Park

The Field Museum Shedd Aquarium

Lake Michigan

To New York

US

New York

AMBA SALELKAR

CHICAGO

Bucket listing in Chicago LW YANG/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Home to the deep dish, where gumbo meets Greek gyros—this is the place for the ultimate food tour

B Y A MBA S ALELKAR ···························· he US Midwest is possibly the place to sample the best of that catch-all phrase, “American Cuisine”. A mishmash of various immigrant traditions has resulted in a smorgasbord of opportunity, padded with the best-quality produce, and Chicago is its drool-worthy capital. While the names are the usual suspects on any American fastfood menu—sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs and pizzas—the consensus is largely that whatever’s done on the East Coast, particularly in New York, is done bigger and better in Chicago. Every plan has a glitch, and I encounter mine early on when I’m feeling mealtime-jet lag peckish at the History Museum, and order a sandwich. I discover countless strips of crispy bacon and tomato slices resting on a thick bed of lettuce between huge slices of white bread, and I am done for, dinner and beyond. While my appetite is healthier than most of my Indian female counterparts, I am the apparent equivalent of half an American (I even get out-ordered by a six-year-old at Purdue University’s legendary Triple XXX diner. My husband’s vegetarianism makes the “sharing” option a bit of an issue. I adjust my game plan, and fork out $50 (approx. `2,500) a head to Tastebud Tours, who promise a walk through Chicago and regular stops to ensure a wholesome (yet not overstuffed) experience, with vegetarian options to boot.

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The Tastebud Tours is a 3-hour affair, and takes us to Pizano’s, The Palmer House (no food here, though), Heaven on Seven, Sugar Bliss, Gold Coast Dogs and The Berghoff. The tour gets straight to business—namely, the Chicago Deep Dish Pizza, probably the culinary icon of the city. Pizzeria Uno (now Uno Chicago Grill) claims to be the “birthplace” of the deep dish, created by chef Rudy Malnati. When Pizzeria Uno went the franchise way, the Malnati clan decided to cash in, each member setting up their own establishment and claiming to be closest to the original. Pizano’s, run by Rudy Malnati Jr, gives us a sample of their deep dish, which is more like a quiche on a cornmeal base. A few days later, we decide to visit Giordano’s, which let the Malnati clan fight over the title of “best deep dish” while it perfected the “stuffed crust”. Gold Coast Dogs gives us a taste of the Chicago hot dog. A bit of a popular culture shock, it comes topped with mustard, chopped onions, a neon green relish, long slice of pickle, slice of tomato, chillies and celery salt. But don’t even think of asking for ketchup on your dog, for that’s sacrilege. While the “best” is at Hot Doug’s, there isn’t a single hot dog in the city that will disappoint. We pop in for some gumbo at Heaven on Seven. The Cajun like their food hot, as the bottles of various kinds of chilli sauce, not unlike the tabasco, on the wall will testify. The Heaven on Seven gumbo, stewed with chicken and sausage, and a lot thicker and darker, isn’t the conventional Creole variety. Even though the “sample” size is tiny, I can tell that Cajun food will be a great option for my spice fix and I return a few days later for the po-boy shrimp salad and gumbo on the side. I’m not the biggest fan of creamy dressing, but chef Jimmy Bannos’ “angel dust”—a Cajun seasoning, a combination of paprika and herbs—makes everything better. I try not to roll my eyes when

El Dorado: (clockwise from above) Ethiopian injera flatbread; Greek gyros; deep dish pizza; and the legend­ ary Uno pizzeria, a Chicago favourite since 1943.

AMBA SALELKAR

we’re taken to Sugar Bliss for the Chicago edition of the international cupcake fad. The cupcakes are great, but honestly, I’m waiting for them to go out of style so we can revert to sugar fixes that aren’t quite so high-maintenance. A few avenues later, we hit Chicago’s oldest restaurant, The Berghoff, for a cold mug of root beer (which is how they got by in the prohibition era, apparently), and a serving of bratwurst with sauerkraut and Düsseldorf mustard, along with German potato salad. The vegetarians have it pretty good with Potato Pierogies with chive sour cream and sweet potato salad. As a city tour, it’s fun. As a food tour, it’s disappointing, though—ironically, the portions are too small for our liking. We decide to take it on our own

from there and I pledge to “just walk away” when I’m done stuffing myself. We decide to stake out “cultural neighbourhoods”—our first stop is Greektown. We pop into Greektown Gyros (pronounced “yeeros”) for the obvious, and when I look at my serving I can’t quite see the bread. The man behind the counter thoughtfully hands me a fork. There’s something to be said about rolls that cannot be wrapped. I can only get through about half of the gyro, and it isn’t for lack of trying. The meat is ridiculously moist for something that has been on a rack for most of the day, and the tzatziki sauce is a winner. The accompanying fries, which I could swear had been fried in clarified butter, make my attempt to finish

the gyro a lost cause. We spend an evening at the Ethiopian area of Edgewater, at Ras Dashen. Waitresses explain the system in soft voices—you order your main course and some side dishes, and you are served on the injera, a spongy, yeasty flatbread (not unlike an appam)— the sides are arranged around the bread and the mains are poured on it. The mains we order include melt-inyour-mouth lamb and “vegetarian fish” on injeras surrounded by pickled beet, curd cheese and stewed spinach. We also learn that it isn’t always necessary to head all the way downtown for foodie fixes. The suburbs of Chicago are equally well suited to indulgence—my brotherin-law takes us to the suburb of Mount Prospect (35km from Chicago) for “America’s best ice cream” (according to Good Morning America). Capannari’s is open only in summer, and is full of locals waiting to sample their creamy delights. I can’t quite make up my mind between their rocky road, peach melba, black raspberry, 10 years aged vanilla or cookie dough, so I make the most of “The Flight”: four small scoops of whatever you please. From my old friend—and now Chicago veteran—Gaurang, we learn Chicago’s worst-kept secret: The best view of the Chicago skyline is from the Signature Lounge on the 96th floor of the John Hancock Center (it’s actually from the ladies room of the Signature Lounge!). We save ourselves from the long queue to go up the Sears Tower and the $20 entry. Instead, we have a couple of $8 bottles of Goose Island 312 and enjoy the view. The food is notoriously disappointing and overpriced, so we were warned against bothering with the restaurant on the 95th floor. The Lounge does a

Stay

Eat

Do

Chicago has many hotels in different price ranges. While the big names are all downtown, staying in the suburbs is a manageable option, thanks to Chicago’s efficient suburban railway network. Chicago is a food lover’s paradise. Most restaurants have vegetarian and vegan options. Chicago is remarkable for its architectural heritage. A must-do is the architectural river cruise— there are several companies that offer these tours along the river front. Also recommended is a visit to The Field Museum (for admission charges and other details, visit Fieldmuseum.org) and the Shedd Aquarium (www.sheddaquarium.org), and an evening at the Millennium Park, home to Anish Kapoor's famous ‘Cloud Gate'. GRAPHIC

BY

AHMED RAZA KHAN

pleasant cheese platter (don’t miss the raspberry coulis) and a chunky guacamole with nacho chips. The final frontier for me was the “Italian Beef”. I was running low on Digene strips, so I couldn’t possibly do both Portillo’s and Al’s Beef. I decided to crowd-source suggestions from people I met randomly on the Metra, at airports and in museum queues. This actually worked better than a food tour—everyone has strong opinions about food in Chicago, and more importantly, they are more than eager to set you on the right path. Al’s won the poll, and how—they serve up a bulging sandwich with prime cuts of meat topped with sweet peppers and gravy and yet, miraculously, the sandwich doesn’t fall apart because the bread is almost made for the weight it has to carry and the liquid it has to soak. No surprises there, though—this is a city known for its design and architecture, after all. Even after a week of indulgence, there are things left undone—Chinatown, an epic Chicago-style Sunday brunch, eating supersized burritos out of a truck, and of course, the Holy Grail of the Chicago food skyline, Alinea. To be honest, I did try for a reservation, two weeks in advance. The woman on the reservation line laughed for a good 2 minutes before politely saying “Sorry, ve aar booked owt.” Luckily, I have a visa that’s valid for 10 years. Write to lounge@livemint.com CHILD­FRIENDLY RATING

Children will love the Navy Pier amusement park, and the real­life exhibits at The Field Museum. Strollers are available for hire at most places. Kiddie portions are available at most restaurants. SENIOR­FRIENDLY RATING

The Metra and the museums have wheelchair access and rental facilities. Early dinner menus are also available. LGBT­FRIENDLY RATING

Boystown, the first recognized gay village in the US, is a cultural hub with a great pub scene.


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Books

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EXCERPT | DEATH IN MUMBAI

A problem like Maria ANSHUMAN POYREKAR/HINDUSTAN TIMES

In her new book, ‘Mumbai Mirror’ editor Meenal Baghel tracks a chilling murder in Bollywood territory

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umbai police owes the legend of the force being second only to Scotland Yard, to an Englishman, Stephen Meredyth Edwardes, Mumbai’s police commissioner in 1909. Edwardes, having studied the workings of Scotland Yard at first hand, set up the Criminal Investigation Department, which later became the Mumbai Crime Branch. The Crime Branch, divided into twelve units along the length of the city for administrative reasons, has the authority to do a parallel probe on any case registered in any Mumbai police station. Freed from the often timeconsuming administrative work of a police station, Crime Branch cops, usually to be found in plain clothes, work exclusively as detectives and have distinguished themselves by solving some of the most talked about cases in recent history, including the Gulshan Kumar murder and the J.J. Hospital shootout case. The notorious serial killer Charles Sobhraj was also arrested in a Crime Branch operation. On May 13, four days after he ordered the probe, a group of Neeraj’s friends came to see Rakesh Maria to complain about the lag in investigation. Among them was a young woman who sat right across him. There was something about her eyes that bothered him. ‘What’s your name?’ ‘Maria Susairaj, I am also a friend of Neeraj’s.’ ‘I know, he disappeared from your house. You, lady,’ Rakesh Maria leaned forward, stared hard and, pointing a finger straight at Maria Susairaj said, ‘are my number one suspect.’ Amarnath Grover left Rakesh Maria’s office and began the traumatic process of looking for Neeraj. He visited railway tracks, hospitals, mortuaries, and one evening even went to the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, foraging through parts of the forest spread over a hundred kilometres. Each trip began with dread and ended in momentary exultation: none of the bodies he was shown were his son’s. The relief lasted but a few minutes. He asked the local cable channel to run a ticker scroll offering a one lakh rupee reward to anyone with information on Neeraj, and personally went to each of the shanties on the road leading to Dheeraj Solitaire, stacked up against each other like uneven teeth, with Neeraj’s picture to ask if anyone recalled having seen him. An urchin was lowered into the septic tanks of Maria’s building to check for a body. Amarnath Grover and Satnam Arora had a hundred posters printed with Neeraj’s picture, with the word ‘MISSING’ in bold lettering. On a May afternoon of long shadows, Neeraj’s father went to Dheeraj Solitaire

HEMANT PADALKAR/HINDUSTAN TIMES

Starlet and sailor: Maria Susairaj was released from jail earlier this year; and (extreme left) Emile Jerome, convicted of the crime.

and painstakingly put them up—on walls, on pillars, on the gates of neighbouring buildings, under car wipers, on shop shutters, on telephone poles, as if turning the area into a shrine for his missing son. Wherever the eye travelled there was Neeraj looking down, smiling gently. That afternoon he saw Maria emerge from the building accompanied by her brother and sister; it was only the second time he had seen her. She looked around and then at him, standing there with the poster in one hand and a bottle of glue in the other, and got into an autorickshaw and rode past without saying anything. There were also things about Ginni that he was just beginning to discover. As if by going missing, Ginni was offering an invitation to get to know him better. The girls. The smoking. The possibility of drugs. All the things that parents spend a lifetime living in denial of. Maria had told the Malad police that Neeraj used ecstasy and crystal meth recreationally. At a friend’s behest a

police officer was sent to the Osho commune at Pune to find out if Neeraj had checked himself in. Ginni’s credit card details were scanned—they revealed nothing. They examined his bank account. The last withdrawal was for Rs 1,000 on May 5, two days before Ginni’s disappearance, and the last deposit had been the Rs 10,000 that he himself had sent his son. Amarnath Grover called up his wife in Kanpur, unable to keep the despair out of his voice. ‘Ginni bas gayab ho gaya hai’ (Our son has just disappeared). He took to waking up and heading straight to the Unit IX office on Hill Road in Bandra day after day, his anxious presence reminding the police that his son was still missing. But all this while, without Amarnath Grover’s knowledge, Inspector Satish Raorane, the investigating officer in the case, and his team were working on their suspect. On May 17, her twenty-eighth birthday, Maria was called to the police station in Bandra and questioned for

over ten hours. Two days later, Amarnath Grover walked into the Unit IX office as usual. As he sat sipping chai and waiting for the officers in the corridor outside, he saw Satish Raorane emerge from one of the rooms. Before he could go up to him with his daily plea, Raorane walked up to him, smiling. ‘Mr Grover, please relax. I request you, don’t come here for the next few days. I will personally inform you of the developments.’ Buoyed, he immediately called Neelam. ‘The inspector told me to relax. I think they are getting some news of Ginni, why don’t you also come to Mumbai?’ He ignored Raorane’s advice but found the office of Unit IX mostly deserted over the next two days. ‘Where’s everybody?’ he asked the chaiwallah he had befriended. ‘Aap hi ke kaam se gaye hain’ (They are out for your work), he was informed. It was the evening of May 21. Amarnath and Neelam Grover had just left the Unit IX office, looking at another restless

night stretch ahead when Amarnath’s phone rang. It was Rakesh Maria. ‘Mr Grover, where are you?’ ‘Just outside the Unit IX office in Bandra, sir.’ ‘Why don’t you please go back, sit there for a while.’ Rakesh Maria had just finished briefing the media about the Neeraj Grover case. It was imperative to speak to Amarnath Grover before he switched on the television. None of his boys had the heart to speak to the old man, and the task fell to the boss. ‘Mr Grover, please go back to the Unit IX office. I am sorry but your son is dead. We have found out what happened.’ In the blur that followed there were moments of piercing clarity. Neeraj’s friends rushing over to get them home, the clutch of Neelam’s hand threatening to crack his knuckles, and the avid faces of television reporters, on channel after channel. This, above all. Sometime after Neelam Grover’s nightly conversation with Neeraj, and before her morning call to him, their son had been stabbed to death in Maria Susairaj’s flat, his body violated. The police claimed that Maria along with her fiancé, the naval officer Emile Jerome, had killed Ginni—after which they had dragged his body into the bathroom and hacked it up. ‘Into bits,’ said Rakesh Maria. Television reporters, citing their own sources, claimed it was into three hundred pieces.

Returning dazed to the flat their son had inhabited until a few days ago, Amarnath Grover and Neelam watched the reporters hyperventilate on screen. ‘Aur uske baad, they hacked the body into three hundred pieces, stuffed it into three large carry bags, and dumped them in the jungles off Manor and set them on fire.’ This end for their beautiful son? ‘Will we get something to do a cremation with?’ Amarnath Grover asked the policeman accompanying them to the Nagpada Police Hospital the next day, where he and Neelam had to give DNA samples, before going on to answer his own question, ‘After three hundred pieces what would be left?’ Later, back at the Malad police station, where Maria Susairaj and Emile Jerome had been brought before being taken to jail, the media was like a panting beast. Neelam Grover had spent the night surfing for news of Ginni’s death, astonished to see it being discussed so authoritatively. Motive? History? Consequence? Equations? They knew nothing. She knew nothing. Through a small barred window in the room where she waited at the Malad police station, she saw Maria and Emile being brought in. Their faces were covered with black hoods. In the darkened room, the only illusion of light was their palecoloured clothing, and they looked disembodied, but only until a policeman came in and switched on the tube light. For a moment, just a moment, Maria Susairaj lifted her hood and blinked. Excerpted from Death in Mumbai by Meenal Baghel, published by Random House India, 248 pages,`299. Death in Mumbai will be released in December.


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GRAND PURSUIT | SYLVIA NASAR

CULT FICTION

Beautiful minds

R. SUKUMAR

NATURE BOY HULTON ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAGES

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This new book looks at the great as well as flawed thinking that made modern economics

B Y N IRANJAN R AJADHYAKSHA niranjan.r@livemint.com

···························· he man who first described economics as a dismal science was a defender of the slave trade. Thomas Carlyle, an English historian and writer in the 19th century, claimed that slavery was a superior institution to the market, and that the liberation of slaves in the Caribbean islands had led to the moral decline of “the Negroes”. He was attacked by economists such as John Stuart Mill for this bizarre argument. Adam Smith had written much earlier about the common humanity of the street porter and the philosopher. The human condition has been one of the central concerns of the best economists. Sylvia Nasar has chosen an opportune moment to remind us about this, at a time when economists have been criticized for being too engrossed in technical trivialities even as the world economy was rolling towards its deepest crisis in more than seven decades. Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius is an ambitious book by a writer who won well-deserved praise for A Beautiful Mind, her dazzling biography of John Nash, the tormented genius who revolutionized game theory but then fell prey to schizophrenia. Nasar starts her story with Charles Dickens rather than Adam Smith. “Political economy is a mere skeleton unless it has a little human covering and filling out,” Dickens wrote in the first issue of a magazine he edited. “A little human bloom upon it, and a little human warmth in it.” It was a call to humanize economics. Dickens was writing at a time when economists took a dim view of human progress. The clergyman Thomas Malthus believed that extreme poverty was the inevitable situation of “nine parts in ten of the whole human race”. The sexual drive was at fault, said Malthus, as mindless procreation would ensure that the human population would tend to out-

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strip available food supply, with disease and famine helping to correct the imbalance. It was this dire prognosis that earned economics the moniker of being a dismal science. The economic historian James Henderson has argued that A Christmas Carol, the famous moral tale written by Dickens, with its descriptions of abundant food, is an attack on Malthus. The world Malthus described had little experience of sustained economic progress. Humans lived no better or worse than they did many centuries ago. Malthus could never have anticipated a world with seven billion people who are living better than ever before. The Industrial Revolution had shown glimpses of a better future, though there was little historical reason to believe that societies could escape the poverty trap. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels predicted that capitalism would inevitably push workers into penury and the entire economic system would collapse in a heap. Engels comes across better than Marx in Nasar’s book. Marx, it seems, wrote about the horrors of industrial life without even once seeing the inside of a factory. He lived in London not too far away from two outstanding thinkers: Charles Darwin and George Eliot. He never bothered to either meet or correspond with them.

The social science: Sylvia Nasar begins her exploration of modern economics with Charles Dickens novels; and (below) the author.

Grand Pursuit—The Story of Economic Genius: Fourth Estate/ Simon & Schuster, 555 pages, £25 (around `2,060). The Victorian economist Alfred Marshall argued that living standards could increase because of higher productivity. His detailed statistical work also showed that the share of labour income in national output was increasing in Europe. A visit to the US gave Marshall first-hand experience of the transformational thrust of a society that embraced technology and innovation. The colourful Joseph Schumpeter put entrepreneurs at the heart of the process of technological innovation. Irving Fisher was one of the first economists to point out how management of money and credit was essential for a stable economy. John Maynard Keynes revolutionized economics after the crisis of the 1930s; he not only invented modern macroeconomics, or the economics of output as a whole, but also helped the creation of new institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank at the end of World War II. Economic progress was uneven. At the end of the 19th century, London was at the heart of the great transformation but its poor continued to live without decent housing, healthcare and education. Beatrice Potter Webb, one part of the f a m o u s F a b i a n socialist couple, fought to convince the powerful men of her time that the “household state” should provide help to BLOOMBERG the poor. She

even managed to convert a young Winston Churchill to her cause. The intellectual roots of the modern welfare state can be traced back to the work of Beatrice and Sidney Webb. Nasar tells her tale in an engaging fashion. However, her detailed narratives about the lives of her subjects and the times they lived in are not balanced by information about their intellectual contributions. A similar imbalance worked in the case of the Nash biography for a particular reason. Nash earned his fame from one brilliant paper that revolutionized game theory. His battles with his inner demons were extraordinary. The narrative trick works less effectively when used to write about economic thinkers who had several contributions to their field and whose lives were, though interesting in their own way, less complex than Nash’s. For example, Joan Robinson, Keynes’ star disciple, was more than just a defender of dictators such as Mao and Kim Il Sung. To be sure, she will for long be remembered for her extraordinary prediction that North Korea would do better as an economy than South Korea. But this was also a woman who should have won the Nobel Prize for her contributions to theoretical economics, a fact that even Milton Friedman, her ideological opponent, once publicly said. The entire chapter on Robinson does not even mention the famous Cambridge Capital Controversies, between the economists at Cambridge University in the UK led by Robinson and Piero Sraffa, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US. Amartya Sen was one of Robinson’s favourite pupils, though when he began to get interested in ethics, she acerbically advised him to “give up all this rubbish”. Nasar finishes her book with his pen portrait. Though Sen is undoubtedly a giant, it is odd that Paul Samuelson and he are the only modern economists to get a chapter on their own. Nasar has taken on a giant task. The result is at once commendable and disappointing. IN SIX WORDS The dismal science’s human dimensions decoded

he first Jeff Lemire comic book I read was The Nobody, the author’s masterful retelling (and reimagining) of H.G. Wells’ Invisible Man. That was a few years ago and I liked both his writing and his drawing style so much (as one reviewer of The Nobody put it, it is almost as if Lemire attacks every page with brush and ink) that I went online and read up all I could about him and his works. Most articles referred to one of his early self-published works called Lost Dogs that had since gone out of print (it dates back to 2005, so it’s not all that old). I forgot all about Lost Dogs until last week, when I came across a piece about it being re-released in digital form by Top Shelf, the comic book publisher that has become popular as the last refuge of truly talented creators who want to remain independent and retail control over their work (some of Alan Moore’s recent work is published by the same company). I immediately did what I always do these days when I read about a new comic—tap the ComiXology app on my tablet to see if the book is available. I wasn’t sure Lost Dogs would be, but it was. Lost Dogs is the simple story of a very large man who lives in the country with his small-built wife and little girl (and a dog). One day, he takes his family to a nearby town to show them the sights; while there, the family is attacked. The man is wounded and thrown into the sea; his wife is raped and beaten; and his daughter is murdered. But the man isn’t dead and comes back in search of his wife. I’ve avoided spoilers, but Lost Dogs isn’t a tale of retribution. Instead, it is a tragic story of a man, a large man who, by his own admission, is looked at as some sort of animal, but is desperately trying to retain his humanity and dignity even after losing everything that matters to him. Lemire’s style, which he has retained through the years, is characterized by thick black lines—so thick that sometimes there are almost no outlines to images—and the sparing use of colour. In Lost Dogs, as poignant a tale as it is brutal and violent, the only colour he uses is red. The large man wears a striped red and white shirt. And blood, of course, is red. R. Sukumar is editor, Mint. Write to Sukumar at cultfiction@livemint.com

Incarnadine: Lemire’s palette for Lost Dogs only uses one colour, red.

FREE VERSE | K SATCHIDANANDAN For long I have been walking along This corridor, but I never reach my room. This corridor is the equatorial line round which one goes on and on, the scorching Sahara one can hardly cross on foot, the freezing Arctic that resists swimming. I know I have a room somewhere. A real friend I have never seen and a real poem I have never written are awaiting me there. I ask the passers-by: ‘Where does this corridor lead?’ They do not know. They too are looking for their rooms— though they do not have the key to open their rooms even if they find them. Excerpted from While I Write, published by HarperCollins India, 132 pages, `299.


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PHOTOGRAPHS

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ABHIJIT BHATLEKAR/MINT

MUMBAI MULTIPLEX | DAVID SHAFTEL

Shh, paperwork in progress At the Asiatic Society of Mumbai, thousands of rare manuscripts, old books and letters are finally being rescued from ruin

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o provide a bulwark against what he called the “intellectual desert” that was Bombay in 1804, James Mackintosh, the chief justice of the recorder’s court, founded the Literary Society of Bombay. After a series of name changes, it has evolved into today’s Asiatic Society of Mumbai (ASM), the circulation and research library housed in the 1830 Town Hall building in the city’s Fort neighbourhood. Colonial officers like Mackintosh might not have been able to see the forest for the trees, but their predilection for record keeping was a bonanza for the libraries, archives and reading rooms that eventually passed from their purview to India’s. But many of those records, from rare manuscripts and books to geological surveys and diplomatic correspondence, in Mumbai’s libraries and archives have deteriorated, their pages wilted by the humid weather or eaten by firebrats and silverfish. The situation at ASM is emblematic of the rot taking place in libraries and many of Mumbai’s repositories of printed matter, and scholars and archivists say the decay has reached a critical mass. “There is some amazing stuff out there,” says historian Ramachandra Guha, “but with some notable exceptions, there has been a steady decline in the condition (of India’s archives) in the 30 years I have been a researcher. The situation is grim.” Help could be on the way for

some archives, as conservation initiatives are under way. At the ASM library, succour has been provided in the form of assistance from the German cultural institute, Goethe-Institut. “Book conservation is an area where Germany has a lot of expertise, and India is a country where you have quite a lot of treasures,” says Marla Stukenberg, director of the Goethe-Institut, Mumbai. On a visit to the Asiatic Society’s special collection room tucked away in the building’s penetralia, Aroon Tikekar, the society’s president, reveals a first edition of John Gould’s illustrated Birds of Asia 1850-1883, its pages flecked with acid stains, a Portuguese map of Goa with holes worn through its surface causing it to look like a cartoon treasure map and an approximately 800-year-old palm leaf Buddhist manuscript so fragile that it can’t be cleaned. Incorporated in 1830 as a branch of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland by then governor John Malcolm, the library has been a repository for all kinds of printed matter. Today the building is in the midst of a renovation, its facade shrouded by scaffolding, its durbar hall and rosewood-lined periodicals room off limits and its giant statue of Malcolm packed in a wooden box. The corridors of the library’s basement are heaving with bundles of books from the library’s stacks. The objects in the special collections room haven’t

Fine print: (clockwise from top) The archive has records dating back to the 17th century; a handwritten letter from Mahatma Gandhi; efforts are on to preserve, scan and digitize pages.

fared much better. Until recently, the room wasn’t air-conditioned. Even now, it’s only cooled during working hours. As part of the German project, two conservators from the ASM travelled to the Berlin State Library in October, where they were trained in modern paper conservation techniques such as de-acidification. The ASM will also send three of its most valuable books to the library in Berlin for restoration. Each book will take one conservator a month to restore, Stukenberg

says. The Goethe-Institut will also provide cabinets for the more than 1,300 valuable maps. With more than 5,000 books in the special collection room alone—and many outside it that might belong there— Stukenberg calls the task “a Sisyphus project”. “Many curators and archivists don’t know the extent of the materials they are sitting on,” says Guha, and the directorship of state archives is often a “punishment post” where bureaucrats go to languish. As a

result, many collections too languish. In many cases, adds Guha, “you will be the first and last person to read some papers because they will crumble when you touch them.” Housed in several locations throughout the state, The Maharashtra State Archives hold the lion’s share of the historical record of the region dating back to the 1630s. The Mumbai branch is housed in a cavernous space at Elphinstone College, also in Fort. Sitting on a table here for re-shelving is a bound Calendar of the ‘Quit India’ Movement in the Bombay Presidency and lining the floor are records of the British secret and political department dating from 1802, waiting to be scanned. Inside, staffers are feverishly working to scan and digitize the records, starting with the most frail. So far, 5.4 million pages have been scanned out of more than 150 million.

Some researchers are concerned that time might be running out for many of the materials in the state archives. “Historically, it was one of the best managed of (India’s) state archives,” says Shekhar Krishnan, a historian completing a PhD in colonial Mumbai at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US. “But over the last 10 years, there has been a grievous decline. The last major classification was done in the late 1970s.” Meanwhile, many of the state’s archives have been shifted here from Raj Bhavan in Malabar Hill, the seat of the state governor and, before independence, the British governor. Records since 1935 are still there, however, and they too are getting a tending to. Thanks to a `26 lakh grant from the state government for a three-year restoration project, the Raj Bhavan archives will be the first of their kind in India to be open to the public, according to Vikas Chandra Rastogi, secretary to the Maharashtra governor, K. Sankaranarayanan. The project—which will include a complete inventory and classification of the archives and storage in a newly built record room—is being overseen by Ashok Kharade, who spent 39 years as an archivist in The Maharashtra State Archives before his retirement in 2006. Kharade is relishing the opportunity to get it right in the new Raj Bhavan archives, which will open to the public next year. At the time of Mint’s visit, he had personally catalogued and indexed 2,252 files, at the rate of two files per day. The completed files now sit in tidy bundles on shelves in an air-conditioned room, waiting to be moved to the new building. When it opens, “it will be the best archive in the nation”, Kharade says, beaming with pride. “And it will always be clean. I don’t like dusty stacks.” david.s@livemint.com


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