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VOL. I, ISSUE VI, JULY 2010  Rs 60

Putting the zing back to exploring the world

Why ladies love

Antwerp Let’s go on the

No secrets in

Khajuraho

Great Ocean Drive

Have you ever seen the rain...comin’ down?


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CONTENTS

COVER

STORY

IT’S MONSOON

MAGIC

After the scorching heat of summer, monsoon breathes its way into Indian plains and hills, offering the much-awaited chill as well as thrill to many a parched soul. We bring you the varied moods and musings of monsoon in various parts of the country — a first-hand epilogue by some distinguished personalities.

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COMPASS

NEWS, LAUNCHES & DEALS

8

SHORT TAKES We bring you the latest from the travel world: special packages, restaurant and hotel openings along with some attractive deals from across the globe.

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SINFUL INDULGENCE

JULY 2010 TRAVELX

Diamonds and chocolates are a woman’s best friends. And when she hears that there are plenty of those in Belgium, she knows where she is

EXOTIC EXCESS

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YOURS TRULY, SIKKIM A seamless blend of Sikkimese architecture and modern amenities, Mayfair, amidst one of the most idyllic hill stations — Gangtok can be best described by two words — spirituality and luxury.

OOZING EROTICISM Khajuraho, with its numerous temples and erotic sculptures, is truly worth a visit.

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58 FOCUS EYE TALK See the repertoire of photographs clicked by Major Varun Bajpai during his many trips.

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WANDERLUST A WINDING JOURNEY The pristine beaches with 12 apostles and a memorial to the Victorian soldiers who were killed in World War 1 — it’s Great Ocean Drive that offers a breathtaking coastal scenery.

Editorial and Marketing Office: Newsline Publications Pvt Ltd., D-11(Basement) Nizamuddin (East), New Delhi 110 013. Phones: +91-11-41033381-82 Mumbai: Platina, 9th floor, C-Block, G-59, Next to Citibank, Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra (East), Mumbai 400051, Tel.: +91 22 3953 0528

PUNJABI TADKA THE 64 INSURING GOOD TIMES

Cover Design: Jitendra Rawat

All information in TravelX is derived from sources we consider reliable. It is passed on to our readers without any responsibility on our part. Opinions/views expressed by third parties in abstract or in interviews are not necessarily shared by us. Material appearing in the magazine cannot be reproduced in whole or in part(s) without prior permission. The publisher assumes no responsibility for material lost or damaged in transit. The publisher reserves the right to refuse, withdraw or otherwise deal with all advertisements without explanation. All advertisements must comply with the Indian Advertisements Code. The publisher will not be liable for any loss caused by any delay in publication, error or failure of advertisement to appear. Owned and published by K Srinivasan, 4C, Pocket-IV, Mayur Vihar Phase-I, Delhi-91 and printed by him at Nutech Photolithographers, B-240, Okhla Industrial Area, Phase-I, New Delhi-110020.

JULY 2010 TRAVELX

68

Volume I No 6

Editor: K SRINIVASAN Managing Editor: TIRTHANKAR GHOSH Co-ordinating Editor: PRIYANKA SAXENA Reporters: Punit Mishra, Jasleen Kaur Copy Editor: Ashok Kumar Special Correspondent - Mumbai: Roohi Ahmad (Mob. 09820295648) Design: Pradeep Jha, Ruchi Sinha, Jitendra Rawat, Shivnath Director: Ravi Sharma Director (Admin & Corporate Affairs) : Rajiv Singh Senior Manager (Marketing): Varun Malhotra (Mob. 9650433099) Manager (Business Development): Pranav Khullar (Mob. 9650433088) Regional Sales Manager (South): Karthik K. V. (Mob. 9880209405) Subscription: Jaya Singh (Mob. 9650433044) Executive Director: Renu Mittal email: travelxletters@gmail.com, travelx@newsline.in


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FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

JULY 2010 TRAVELX

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THE LALIT SURI INTERNATIONAL POLO 2010

Venue: The LaLiT Grand Palace, Srinagar Date: July 30-31, 2010 Get ready to enjoy thrilling polo in the serene environs of Srinagar, only at Drass. Realising the popularity of polo as it has been traditionally played in the region over the centuries, The LaLiT has orgainsed a polo event. This unique offering has come up with some enticing polo packages. For more details on packages, visit http://www.thelalit.com

TRIZIN — TRIZ INDIA SUMMIT 2010

VENUE: Royal Orchid, Bengaluru DATE: July 29 - 30, 2010 India is in more ways than one, proving to be the world’s innovation tipping point — central to the world’s innovation experiments and journeys. The time is ripe for an innovation revolution — a countrywide initiative to take us to a stage where we define the new world that we want to inhabit. TRIZ, The Theory of Inventive Problem Solving, a world leading innovation framework with Russian origins, has the potential to ignite such a revolution and catapult India into the future. For more details, log on to www.trizind.com

What’s happening around the country this month? Choose from the hottest events and shows taking place in different parts of India in the world of music, art, Entertainment and food.

CUT...CUT...CUT VENUE: Shri Ram Centre, New Delhi DATE: July 25, 2010 Tragedy for artistes, comedy for audience. Yes! That is what Cut…Cut…Cut really is. For, it comically deals with the confusion, chaos and commotion that characterise the rehearsals of Pierrot's Troupe’s plays. In such, the play is an on stage depiction of back stage drama, unfolding, in the process, funny characters; hilarious situations; comic relationships and bizarre events. On a serious note, it amusingly looks into problems and prospects that theatre groups usually face. Cut… Cut… Cut… is, therefore, one of those rare productions that make you laugh all the way in as well as at a play. For more details, log on to www.pierrotstheatre.com


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LADAKH CONFLUENCE 2010

SENSORIAL REALITIES

VENUE: Idiyas Gallery, 15, Dover Road, Kolkata DATE: Ongoing till July 31, 2010 Idiyas Gallery hosts a group exhibition showcasing the works of Suhas Roy, Ramananda Bandopadhyay, Prakash Karmakar, Shyamal Mukherjee, Samir Paul, Bratin Khan, Gourango Beshai, Sibsaday Chaudhuri, Atin Basak, Subrata Das, Sukanta Das and others. Timings are from 10:30 am to 6:30 pm. For further details, contact at 033-65508418

BFW 2010 VENUE: The Oterra, 43 Electronics City, Hosur Road, Bengaluru DATE: July 22-25, 2010 Conceived and created with a vision to showcase Bangalore fashion industry to the global fashion world, Bangalore Fashion Week (BFW) is all set with its third edition, including lifestyle parties, after hour parties, press conferences, designer product exhibit, fashion shows and lots more. For more details, log on to www.bangalorefashionweek.in/index.asp

MEDIA EXPO

ZANSKAR RAFTING EXPEDITION

VENUE: Zanskar Range Date: August 1 - 10, 2010 Wild Escapes, an adventure travel company based in Mumbai organising adventure excursions throughout India for individuals, groups and corporates is organising a 10-day rafting expedition in the Zanskar Range. The package cost per person for the entire tour is Rs 65,000 inclusive of air transfers, hotel stay, meals and all the other necessary requirements. For more details, log on to www.wild-escapes.com

JULY 2010 TRAVELX

VENUE: Pragati Maidan, New Delhi DATE: July 30-August 1, 2010 Media Expo 2010 — a premier trade show — will showcase the best indoor and outdoor signage, advertising and point of purchase solutions. This show will be a place where service-provider, manufacturers, decision-makers form various industries can meet and prepare the new strategies for exploring the new business opportunity, along with a best place for exploring the competitive prices of new promotional products, retail and display systems, signage machinery, link-on display and raw materials. For more details, contact at 011-26236933/41620861

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

VENUE: Near Leh in the Ladakh region DATE: July 15-18, 2010 Feel the adrenaline rush at the second edition of the Ladakh Confluence, featuring four days of music, art, nature and culture in the highest mountains. Musicians, artists and travellers from around the world will unite in the breathtaking mountain kingdom for an incredible cultural experience. Karsh Kale, Manu Delago, Christoph Pepe Auer, Rajasthan Roots, Young Musicians of The World, Something Relevant, Jamie Catto and The Supersonics get prepped to bring their music and madness to the confluence. Tickets are disappearing fast, so hurry! Get Yak Tickets for Rs. 4,000 online at http://theconfluence.doattend.com


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OUR MONSOON WRITERS GOODBYE SUMMER, HELLO RAINS here is something magical about the monsoon. The monotonous drone of the rains has a wonderful lyrical quality. Indeed, with the magical touch of the monsoon rains, the country wakes up as if from a disturbed sleep. All of a sudden there is life everywhere. The peacocks' calls fill the air, children wade into puddles and poets and writers, musicians and dancers and even commoners like us go into raptures. The rain -- well, at least the first signs of it - prompts so many of us towards rejuvenation. So it was with this issue of Travel X. When we started planning the issue - way back in March - the winter in Delhi had slunk out ever so quietly and we were just about starting to "feel" the heat; in fact, it was hardly the appropriate season to talk of the rains. We discussed and dissected the monsoon for days on end but still did not find the best way to present it to our readers. It was only after prolonged discussions over endless cups of coffee that we hit upon an idea: why not ask a few creative personalities to tell us about the monsoon and its many moods. And what a journey it has been! From Mumbai's poetlyricist-director Gulzar to Kolkata's filmmaker extraordinaire Mrinal Sen, from Bhubaneswar-based acclaimed poet, Sahitya Akademi Award and Jnanpith winner Sitakant Mahapatra to Goa's very own guru of Indian minimalism designer Wendell Rodricks, a lover of Delhi's famous and not-so-famous monuments writer and translator Rakhshanda Jalil and scriptwriter for literature-based documentaries and features from Meghalaya Nirmal Kanti Bhattacharjee - each one has something delightful and inviting to say about the monsoon in their part of the country. While social and environmental activist Kanchi Kohli tells us about rains in the hills, freelance writer Lekshmy Rajeev takes us to Kochi for a loving glance of the coconut palms swaying in the rains. We invite you to join us in our celebration of the monsoon. If these writers can move you out of your homes to see the monsoon in all its glory in the furthest corners of the country, we at Travel X would know we have been successful. Tirthankar Ghosh tghosh@newsline.in

T

GULZAR

MRINAL SEN

SITAKANT MAHAPATRA

WENDELL RODRICKS

RAKHSHANDA JALIL

NIRMAL KANTI BHATTACHARJEE

KANCHI KOHLI

LEKSHMY RAJEEV

JULY 2010 TRAVELX

A Budget Business Hotel

1/1 West Patel Nagar, Opp. Metro Pillar No 209, New Delhi - 110008 (INDIA) Phone : -91-11-45671444 (100 lines) Mobile : -91-9811056396 Fax : 91-11-45671414

24 Hours Reservation : +91- 9811056396

www.clarkhotels.com E-mail : reservations@clarkhotels.com, clarkhotels@gmail.com


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SHORT TAKES

DON’TMISS

TRAILER

Hotels in Goa for just Rs 660

Water-based extravaganza in Macau THE theatrical venture of Franco Dragone’s $250 water-based show ‘The House of Dancing Water’ will open its door to the public at the City of Dreams in Macau on September 16, 2010, with its first ticketed shows hosted on the following day. Tickets for this 70-minute show are already on sale for the public, priced at HK $380, HK $680, HK $880 and HK $1,280 respectively. The House of Dancing Water has drawn creative inspiration from Chinese culture, particularly on the ‘seven emotions’ principle derived from the classical Confucian beliefs, which will take audiences on an awe-inspiring journey performed by a strong cast of 77 international performance artists and 130 top production and technical members from more than 18 countries around the world. It will be staged at ‘Dancing Water Theatre’ — a purpose built theater that contains one of the most impressive commercial pools in the world. Holding around 3.7 million gallons which is more than five Olympic-sized swimming pools, it will be one of the largest water-based theatres in the world.

JULY 2010 TRAVELX

DIDYOU

KNOW?

IF you are an ICICI debit or credit card- holder and are planning holidays, it’s right time to pack your bags as Yatra.com has come up with a unique scheme for you. As per the scheme, you can avail 30 per cent discount on holidays and holiday booking with your signature, platinum and titanium credit cards subject to maximum to Rs 1,250, while 15 per cent with gold and silver credit and debit cards to Rs

WITH incredible deals from Hotels.com, there’s never been a better time to visit Goa than today. Hotels.com is now offering you a dream selection of hotels in Goa — from the super luxury Taj Exotica and Taj Holiday Village to the great value for money options like Goan Clove Apartment Hotel and Calangute Grande. From the ethnic hotels like Welcome Heritage Panjim Inn and Panjim Peoples with an aura of old world charm and a colonial feel to the boutique hotels which are stylish and sophisticated with Portuguese architecture like the Banyan Tree Courtyard. The price range is wide and varied and a few selected hotels are available from Rs 660 per person per night in Hotels.com’s great Goa sale. To avail the opportunity, get your bookings done by September 30, 2010. For more details, visit www.hotels.com/deals/goa/ and to book, visit www.hotels.com or call 1800 419 4400 (India Toll Free). 750 and 10 per cent on both domestic and international flights to Rs 250 and Rs 750 off respectively. Discount voucher worth Rs 250 on booking a train ticket, is also available, which can be used while booking a hotel or holiday bookings. This would be a promotional code-based offer where a customer would require to enter the promo code “ICICI” followed by his six-digit of credit or debit card number.


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complimentary breakfast * wi-fi connectivity * conference room (30pax) * gym & swimming pool * kitchen facility

Bangalore

Hyderabad

delhi to Gurgaon

Chennai

pune

MELROSE No 1, Norris Road, Richmond Town, Bangalore-25 Ph : 080 4151 9413/23/33 Fax: 080 41519433 Cell ; 09901767777 / 09818707234 www.melrosegroup.biz email : melrose_apt@hotmail.com

Mumbai


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A complete stay at Westin

HEAVENLY Bed? Check. Super food? Got it. Complimentary night stay? Absolutely! What else does one need?! Just few months after the introduction of new hotels in India, Westin Hotels and Resorts has come up with some enticing summer offers — inviting you to prolong your ritual of wellness and give you more time to recharge during the summer season. The package offers travellers all the ingredients for a restorative and refreshing retreat — stay at Westin hotels in India, a great night’s sleep in the Westin heavenly bed along with a refreshing breakfast that features super food items every morning and for every two nights or more booked at any Westin hotel or resort in India, travellers will enjoy a complimentary night’s stay. The offer is available at Westin hotels in Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune and Sohna and is valid until September 30, 2010.

JULY 2010 TRAVELX

Become a millionaire at Changi! CHANGI Airport in Singapore, besides being one of the top-most airports in the world is always in news for something new and exciting. The airport has recently launched a ‘Be a Changi Millionaire’ promotion, which will see one lucky Changi shopper or diner become a millionaire at the start of the New Year in 2011. The promotion, which has already kicked off, offers a grand prize of Sin$1 million in cash. In addition, 188 other winners will win cash prizes totalling more than Sin$200,000. To qualify for the millionaire draw, passengers and visitors

Go golfing! HERE is an opportunity to play a round of golf at Bali’s newest championship golfing facility, the New Kuta Golf Club. Further broadening its overall appeal, the Bali Garden Beach Resort’s four-night accommodation packages come inclusive of a round of 18 holes complete with cart and caddy, an après-game aromatherapy session per room and daily breakfast. Prices for the four-night Bali Garden Golf package lead in at $540 per room, which includes a round of golf for one person per room, a three-hour aromatherapy session per room and daily breakfast for two. While the seven-night option is priced from $970 per room, which includes two rounds of golf and a six-hour aromatherapy session per room and daily breakfast for two. In addition, extra rounds of golf, priced at $55.5 can easily be booked via the hotel.The offer is valid till March 31 next year. High season surcharges are applicable. For more information, please contact the Bali Garden Beach Hotel via email at info@baligardenbeachresort.com or visit www.baligardenbeachresort.com and for information on the New Kuta Golf Club, please visit www.newkutagolf.com

simply need to shop or dine at the airport, with a minimum spend of just Sin$60 and the chances of winning increases exponentially with the amount spent. The

qualifying period is 1 June 2010 to 30 November 2010 and after the close of each month, a monthly draw will be conducted to shortlist one finalist for participation in the grand draw. Apart from the chance to win Sin$1 million, the finalists will win Sin$5,000 in cash, plus a three-day/two-night stay at a luxurious hotel in Singapore, with airfare provided for non-Singapore residents. From among the six monthly finalists, the Changi millionaire will be selected at an exciting grand draw that will take place at Changi Airport in January 2011. So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and move to Singapore!


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SPEED READER „ ItzCash Card, India’s “Multi Service Prepaid Card” has partnered with AkbarTravelsOnline.com to launch an air travel portal, named as Itzicwtravel.in that will be dedicated exclusively to air ticket booking only. This partnership brings together the strength of both the partners — AkbarTravelsOnline.com with its expertise in travel offering customers a plethora of choice and ItzCash with its unique prepaid business model, robust payment gateway and franchisee outlets spread across the country, including Tier 3 and 4 towns. ItzCash franchisees will facilitate booking of domestic air travel tickets from their 25,000 franchisees spread across urban, semi-urban and rural India.

JULY 2010 TRAVELX

„ Accor — European leader in hotels and tourism — has launched a new online search engine and booking system for the Group’s hotel brands like Sofitel, Pullman, Mercure, Novotel, Suitehotel, All seasons, Ibis and Etap. The website accorhotels.com will enable guests to select their hotel, room type and access to new features like an interactive map showing hotel locations and descriptions, an advanced search engine that allows users to refine their search as they navigate, automatically updated search results, videos, tourist guides and more comprehensive hotel presentation files. „ Travelspice has launched a first-of-its-kind citizen service called ‘On the trail with Budget Subramanyam and Traveka’ — a community driven unique 24x7 travel planning service which can be availed as a toll-free telephonic information service. Travellers can seek unbiased information on essential travel advice, destinations, local weather, news, hotels, smartest commuting choices, local guides, reviews, hang out and must visit spots, deals and offers, tourist guidelines continued on page 16

KICKOFF

Ganga darshan with Sarovar

Host your meeting at Four Seasons

NEXT time when you go for Ganga darshan, amidst the many choices available on the enchanting ghats, do remember to stay at Sarovar Hotels’ new launch — Ambrosia Sarovar Portico in Haridwar. The 70-room hotel emerges with a grand edifice, just off the Roorkee — Haridwar national highway, offering a perfect blend of contemporary architecture combined with Sarovar’s signature hospitality. All guest rooms at the hotel are well-equipped with facilities such as 24-hour room service, LCD television, tea/coffee maker, private mini bar, electronic safe, laundry service, travel desk and wireless internet connectivity. Also on offer are the interesting onpremise dining options at Clove, the multi-cuisine restaurant, while Bubbles, the bar offers the best of beverages and concoctions. So, next time you travel to Haridwar, do drop in to Ambrosia Sarovar Portico and enjoy the bath in the Ganges, temple visit and Ganga aarti with comfort stay only for Rs 3,500 (excluding taxes), applicable for double occupancy including buffet breakfast.

LOOKING for a function room with a bit of personality? A private conference venue that really is private? Or a party space that’s as vibrant as the crowd? The Pavilion at Four Seasons Hotel, Mumbai, brings a breath of fresh air to the city’s events scenes: a modern, self-contained venue in a prime garden location. Located in the Hotel’s lawn, the 300square-metre all-weather marquee is designed to impress. Sunlight pours through floor-to-ceiling French windows, glinting off the gilt-framed mirrors that furnish the classic minimalist interiors; ‘Skygarden’ lighting by designer Marcel Wanders combines with sheer fabric panels to create an atmospheric afterdark ambience; and a separate seating area with sofas enhances the residential appeal. All this is complemented by a dedicated kitchen and washrooms. The air-conditioned interior can accommodate upto 150 guests for dinner, 300 for a reception or 50 when set up as a boardroom; it can also be combined with an air-conditioned verandah or open-air courtyard for additional space.


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R E P O R T )

Yachting along the Indian shores MOVE over India’s luxury trains, it will soon be possible to tour India on a luxury yacht! France-based luxury yacht company Compagnie Du Ponant is enthusiastic about making its foray into the Indian market by starting operations in early November 2010. It is indeed surprising that very few luxury yachts operate on vast Indian shores and big rivers. India has been a very popular tourist destination for long time and is known for its exotic locales and diverse culture but still there have been very few luxury travel options. The only options to travel along the length and

breadth of India have been very few luxury trains and buses or private cars. For a nation with many big rivers and surrounded on three sides by sea it is high time, many more sophisticated cruises and yachts started sailing on the waters. One hopes many more companies will follow Campagnie Du Ponant and will start looking at India for a potential luxury travel destination. This will lure more high-end tourists, which will also help local places and tourism industry flourish. The yacht cruise company, which currently operates five high-end yachts across the world, will be deploying two

vessels from its fleet, Le Ponant (with capacity for 64 guests) and Le Diamant (226 guests) for Indian operations. Indian operations will commence on November 8 with Le Diamant offering a seven-day cruise covering Marmugao (Goa), Kochi (Kerala), Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) and Chennai (Tamil Nadu) as ports-of-call. Le Ponant will offer Kochi-Male (Maldives) and Male-Kochi packages from December 28, 2010 to January 4, 2011 and March 10 to March 17, 2011 respectively. Later in March 2011, Le Ponant will offer a seven-day India package with the cruise starting from Kochi. The seven-day package will range between 2,000-2,500 Euros per person. On Compagnie Du Ponant yachts, you can experience the high-end luxury and explore destinations and ports which are unheard of. For more information, visit the Compagnie Du Ponant website.

JULY 2010 TRAVELX


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Royal Heritage Haveli — Jaipur

FACILITIES               

Member - Indian Heritage Hotel Association of India Khatipura Jhotwara Road, Jaipur 302012 Tel +91 141 4082121, Fax +91 141 4082130 Email reservation@royalheritagehaveli.com, www.royalheritagehaveli.com

Airport Transfers Internet Access Complimentary Video On Demand Bay Window With Sofa Seating And Coffee Table Pool Garden Facing / Terrace Garden Facing Rooms Business Assistance, Computer And E-mail Access 24 Hour Room Service Housekeeping Concierge And Travel Desk Swimming Pool Spa And Gymnasium Private Bar With Refrigerator Exotic Fresh Fruit Platter 3 Lush green Gardens In Room Tea/ Coffee Maker

Built in the 18 century by His Highness, Madho Singhji of Jaipur, The Royal Heritage Haveli opens its doors after a 150 years as a boutique hotel. A destination that luxury itself has chosen. Owned and managed by Maharja Jai Singh of Jaipur, The Royal Heritage Hotel is a property that lingers lazily over 100,000 square feet, complete with rambling lawns, serene courtyards, plush interiors and stately living areas. Enjoy a vacation from the mundane with the exceptional hospitality, perfected over generations. Our home and our heart is open to you, at The Royal Heritage Hotel.


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Royal Heritage Haveli — Jaipur

FACILITIES               

Member - Indian Heritage Hotel Association of India Khatipura Jhotwara Road, Jaipur 302012 Tel +91 141 4082121, Fax +91 141 4082130 Email reservation@royalheritagehaveli.com, www.royalheritagehaveli.com

Airport Transfers Internet Access Complimentary Video On Demand Bay Window With Sofa Seating And Coffee Table Pool Garden Facing / Terrace Garden Facing Rooms Business Assistance, Computer And E-mail Access 24 Hour Room Service Housekeeping Concierge And Travel Desk Swimming Pool Spa And Gymnasium Private Bar With Refrigerator Exotic Fresh Fruit Platter 3 Lush green Gardens In Room Tea/ Coffee Maker

Built in the 18 century by His Highness, Madho Singhji of Jaipur, The Royal Heritage Haveli opens its doors after a 150 years as a boutique hotel. A destination that luxury itself has chosen. Owned and managed by Maharja Jai Singh of Jaipur, The Royal Heritage Hotel is a property that lingers lazily over 100,000 square feet, complete with rambling lawns, serene courtyards, plush interiors and stately living areas. Enjoy a vacation from the mundane with the exceptional hospitality, perfected over generations. Our home and our heart is open to you, at The Royal Heritage Hotel.


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SPEED READER continued from page 12

on tourist destinations amongst other interesting information for planning travel. International tourists can avail this service toll free at 1866 654 7209, while domestic tourists can call 1800 425 8747.

JULY 2010 TRAVELX

„ Lufthansa has launched promotional fares from Singapore to over 25 of the world’s favourite European destinations. Fares to France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Denmark and other countries are now on sale until December 31, 2010, starting at Sin $1,410. Travellers departing Singapore can purchase tickets to a wide variety of European destinations, including Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Bremen, Brussels, Cologne, Copenhagen, Dresden, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Geneva, Graz, Hamburg, Hanover, London, Marseille, Milan, Munich, Nice, Nuremberg, Paris, Prague, Stuttgart, Vienna and Zurich. Travel must be completed by December 31, 2010. „ To celebrate the launch of its new route to Dakar on September 1, 2010, Emirates is offering First and Business Class passengers a complimentary stay at a leading hotel in Dubai, plus a free 96 hour visa when they book a return flight to the Senegalese capital. First Class passengers will receive a free two night stay at the five-star Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel, while Business Class travellers will be offered a one night complimentary stay. The offer applies to return journeys taken by passengers travelling exclusively with the airline in the month of September. Emirates will fly non-stop to Dakar five times a week on every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The service will be operated by an Airbus A340-300 aircraft, offering a three-class configuration of 12 First Class, 42 Business and 213 Economy seats.

SPAHAVEN

Ayurveda in the hills WHENEVER we think to rejuvenate our body and indulge in natural therapy treatments, the place that instantly comes to mind is Kerala. Isn’t it? But now you can move from south to north for an exotic spa only at Madhuban Highlands, Mussoorie. The newly launched spa at the hotel premises with the qualified technical staff from

Ayurveda therapies and the spa industry offers the authentic Ayurvedic treatments, including Shirodhara, Kizhi (hot compress with linen bun), Pizhichil (warm oil bath), and Abhyangam (full body rejuvenation). Also, there are elaborate skin wraps and scrubs based on ancient Indian skin recipes like the sandalwood scrub, sesame and orange body buff, ancient Indian honey wrap, along with custom made therapies for the weary traveller like jet lag massage to soothe tired muscles from long flights. You can avail the opportunity a wellness analysis and consultation regarding rejuvenation, weight loss, detoxification, anti-ageing, and then you will be suggested with a suitable plan accordingly. Additionally, along with spa, you can avail a fully-equipped gym with latest fitness equipment, pool billiards and lots more.


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GASTRONOMICDELIGHT

17

Easy on time, high on taste WHEN on business lunch what do you really want? Scrumptious food without compromising on time schedule, right? Well, Spectra, Leela Gurgaon, has come up with ‘express business lunch’ for executives on the go. Express business lunch is wholesome, delicious and quick that can be concluded without compromising on time schedule. In simple words, easy on time and high on taste. Choose from a set menu of Chinese, Malaysian, Thai and Singaporean selection that includes soup, main dish and dessert. Service within 15 minutes, for sure. So, avail this offer for Rs 1,000 plus taxes on all six days (except Sunday) from 12 noon to 3 pm.

Cooking lessons at The Imperial Savour delicious Japanese ice cream WHEN the scorching heat of sun hits your body, the only bless to your soul is ice cream. Isn’t it? Want to relish something new in this scorching heat? Then head to Sakura, Time Tower, Gurgaon, and enjoy a complete range of Japanese ice creams. Exotic but healthy Japanese ice creams are popular because of their unconventional flavours like green tea, wasabi, sesame seeds, red kidney beans. These ice creams are a healthy option as only fresh ingredients without preservatives or synthetic stabilising agents are used for preparing them and have a shelf life of two days. Other seasonal flavours include cheese and sweet corn.

Sunny Sundays at Q’BA ENJOY your sunny Sundays with scrumptious food at Q’BA Restaurant and

Bar. Catering to a wide variety of taste buds, menu comprises salad bar, live home made pasta, choice of BBQ platter and mouth watering desserts. Also there is a complimentary glass of Kingfisher Bohemia wine or Kingfisher beer or aerated soft drinks. Visit the place anytime between 12.30 to 3.30 pm and make your Sunday special.

Sip the dainty daiquiris

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MAKE your sweltering summer cool and refreshing by sipping on a range of flavoured and frozen daiquiris at New Town Café & Lounge, Park Plaza, Gurgaon. Relish the exquisite daiquiris in flavours of Strawberry, Green Apple, Mango, Banana and Caramel, Blue Litchi (Rum, Litchi syrup and Blue Curacao), Pomegranate, Passion Fruit, Raspberry and Watermelon. All are priced at Rs 395 each. Taxes as applicable.

EVERY fortnight, The Imperial Culinary Club shares the finer nuances filled with rich and mysterious secrets of what makes ‘The Imperial’ cuisine so sought after! The purpose behind this is to host the Imperial Culinary Club’s sessions for in-house guests and regular patrons. Made either by the in-house chefs or the Senior Vice President & GM, the session makes guests to witness the demonstration of wide gamut of cuisines, including Thai, Lebanese, Chocolate temptations, European, Kashmiri, Italian, Summer delights, Goan cuisine, Continental Brunch, Healthy Mediterranean cuisine etc. You have a chance not only to learn the delectable recipes, but also to savour the dishes with a glass of wine, get an F&B privilege card after every two visits, receive a certificate after attending the show four times and last but not the least, you may also win a meal for two at any of the hotel’s restaurants at the lucky draw.


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COVER STORY

onsoon usings

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M KIDS LOVE TO SPLASH IN THE RAINS

(PHOTO BY SHARMILA GHOSE)


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The sound and the music of rain, fills the lovers heart, with the desire to meet their beloved, the embrace and kiss in the humid rainy day, elevates the desire of getting united in one entity. After the pouring rain for a while, the clouds start to break up and scatter in the sky, the sun comes out playing hide and seek with the clouds, the sun rays form the magnificent rainbow across the skies. The birds and critters start to sing their songs, the plants and flowers seem to be awakened from a deep sleep, the eastern wind breeze feels so nice, the rain leaves its lasting impression across the land and skies. - Jay P Narain

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Monsoon in Mumbai

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A symphony of water It’s the beginning of June and rain is playing hide and seek in the city of Mumbai. We are speculating whether monsoon has arrived. The dark laden clouds look promising and leave us wanting for more. We are waiting for the rains to drench the city and quench our thirsty souls. after all, Mumbai has just one season and that’s monsoon.


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22 GULZAR umbai has only one season, it is the monsoon, and that is the only glamour of Mumbai. The city has no summer, no winter; it does not even have an autumn, the sort of autumn that we experience in the north or in the mountains. You march through the city and hardly 10 trees shed their leaves but we cannot call it autumn. Autumn has colours and then there is the shedding of tears in the form of shedding of leaves, which we don’t observe here. In Mumbai, even the Gulmohar trees hardly shed their leaves. Mumbai’s distinct season is monsoon when it wears the garment of water everywhere. It is a geographical and an environmental fact that Mumbai has just one defined season. In Mumbai during winter, we don’t even need to wear woollen clothes like we do in the eastern and northern parts of the country and during summer, it is humid but it is not what summers are like in the north of the country or in the south. It is a seasonal fact that Mumbai has only one defined season that arrives on time and leaves on time and is always absolutely punctual. Every year, we speculate that rains may come late or early but it has never happened yet. I remember my friends saying recently that this year the rains will come early as it had been very hot during the summer but I told them that it is just wishful thinking. Monsoon will not arrive before June 6 or 7 and that too in the from of preliminary showers. It will actually start form the 10th of the month (June) when Mumbai has an appointment with the monsoon. The moment it hits Kerala, it takes 10 days to reach Mumbai.

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It accumulates upwards through the Western Ghats and has a halt at Panhala in Maharashtra and camps there like a gathered army and stays for about two to four days. It sends an alarming army of clouds with a bugle to the city in the form of early showers to warn us to pull up our curtains and sheds and clean our gutters and manholes. It gives us three days to get ready till it meets us on the 10th. Sometimes, when our socks have not been pulled up totally, it comes on the 12th of the month. This is the known character of the Mumbai monsoon. The first day when it starts raining, the trains will stop, despite all the preparation, the railways can never get ready enough for the outpouring. I have been in Mumbai for the last 50 years and during all these decades, I have been witnessing the trains getting jammed and the commuters being compelled to walk on the tracks, these are the regular scenes of the monsoon in Mumbai. You need to take it in good spirit to enjoy it and after all, it is water that is pouring. We need it for our lakes and other water sources. Other than that, it is an enjoyable season when everything starts getting wet. It is worth having that rhythm on your window panes, when it starts pouring. In the morning and in the night, there is a continuous music going on and on. It is very soothing once you have learned to enjoy it. It is not irksome, but if you start getting irritated, it will keep teasing you. I am fond of the season and I keep writing my poems and stories about monsoon in Mumbai continuously. When I get inspired, I enjoy the season and not immediately start writing about it. The inspiration is to live. I live the monsoon. The sea catches cold during the monsoon and starts sneezing. Heavy downpour is

THE DARK CLOUDS CAST THEIR SPELL ON THE CITY

part of the season but we don’t get caught in the ferocious clutches of the monsoon, we simply get wet when it rains. The water gushes in like a team of football players that has won a match, kicking around on the walls. These are the images of Mumbai monsoon. It is an experience in itself. I am out in the rain all the time and get wet. Its arrival is a pleasure and you need to get wet and play with the rains to welcome it. We have seen the city getting flooded once in 1975 and once 20 years later in 2005. The city can get flooded by sheer rain and clouds. The city getting flooded and the trains stopping or getting delayed are some of the rituals of the season. Once we are aware of this fact, we know that we


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A GOOD GAME OF FOOTBALL IS BEST ENJOYED DURING THE MONSOONS

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MONSOON KI SYMPHONY Car ka engine band kar ke Aur sheeshe chadha ke baarish mein Ghane ghane pedon se dhaki ‘St Paul Rd’ par Aankhein meech ke baithe raho aur car ki chhat par Taal suno tab baarish ki! Geele badan kuchh hawa ke jhonke Pedon ki shaakhon par chalte dikhte hain Sheeshe pe fisalte paani ki tahreer mein ungliyaan chalti hain. Kuchh khat, kuchh satarein yaad aati hain Monsoon ki symphony mein! — Gulzar

We have not matched up our resources with the increasing population. The storeys of the buildings have increased from two or three to more than 25 storeys. Now, all these floors of the buildings need water and we need enough water supply to meet these demands. But we have not taken care of this fact and that is why our lakes and other sources of water are falling short of the demand. The infrastructure has to improve too. The amount of rainfall may vary every year, it is a part of the monsoon but it was more enjoyable some years back as there was more space available in the city, more trees and greenery. There was more space available to walk around and play with the rains during the

monsoon. Football is a favourite monsoon sport. Now, the spaces are squeezing in and it is becoming more difficult to move around. Our resources and spaces to enjoy the rains may have decreased but that has not lessened the fun and enjoyment involved with the season itself. My favourite monsoon song for which I penned the lyrics in 1971 is ‘bole re papeehara’, from the movie Guddi, sung by Vani Jairam and the music was composed by Vasant Desai. I have lived in Bandra all my life and I love the place. My above poem will sum up all that I feel for the monsoons in Mumbai. (AS TOLD TO ROOHI AHMAD. PHOTOS BY PRADEEP CHANDRA)

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are going to beat it. We need to learn to enjoy it and play with it. It is like when we go out to play a football game, we know that our opponents will kick the ball. If we start getting irritated at it, that is not playing the game at all. For example, during the Diwali festival, we know there is going to be lighting and firecrackers and lots of sound but if we are irritated then it is better to be inside our homes and shut our ears, but that is not enjoying it. If you want to enjoy the lights, then you cannot put on your shades, you have to take it all in with your naked eyes. The beauty of the monsoon is that it rains! It washes all your plants. We should love this healthy environment created during the monsoon.


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Pitter-patter

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Once upon a time, not till very long ago, we used to have the monsoons in Delhi. Now, we have the rains. The difference is not simply one of etymology but of a change in lifestyle — urban planning, global warming, shifting weather patterns, in short of a whole new cityscape. The monsoon is a glorious burst of rainwater, preceded by damp masses of moisture-laden clouds scudding across the skies, bringing darkness at noon and followed by days upon days of uninterrupted deluge. The rain, or the rainy season, is a much shorter affair bringing water-logged streets, traffic jams and irater-than-usual Delhizens.

A COUPLE ENJOYING THE RAINS IN THE CAPITAL


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on the pane Monsoon in Delhi RAKHSHANDA JALIL owever, there is no denying that the average Delhiite looks forward to the end of June more eagerly than to any other phenomenon — natural or otherwise. For, the official arrival date of the monsoon in Delhi is usually June 29. This first chaste encounter of cool water and hot earth, grey sky and parched land, is preceded by severe dust storms followed by an occasional drizzle that brings the temperature — usually hovering at 46 degrees or so — down, but it leaves everything, including your mouth, nose, ears and eyes, covered with a fine, powdery dust. For weeks before, the city pages of the dailies are filled with reports from the Met Office. There is speculation everywhere. People talk of nothing but the unrelenting heat that smothers everything like a dense blanket. Water tables dip alarmingly low, taps run dry, hot gusts of loo wind sear, roads bake and homes give off heat even at night. Will the monsoon keep its official ‘date’ with Delhi or will it make us wait? How far has the easterly and westerly arms of the monsoon progressed across the length and breadth of India? These questions take precedence over all else, as the city waits with breathless anticipation! And finally when the rains lash Delhi, not the shortlived drizzle of the pre-monsoon shower but the real thing, the city lets out a collective sigh, as though it has been holding its breath all through the long harsh summer. A sort of hissing sound, as the earth takes in the full impact of the water, is followed by a long breath of relief from a city sweltering under the merciless sun. You can hear it when the first fat drops of water fall on parched earth. Or, when the skies open up as though someone has pulled a plug. Or, when the rain lashes down in endless sheets of water. That is the time when Delhi begins to show traces of its kinder, gentler self. Perfect strangers look at the pouring rain and smile at each other. Others stretch out a tentative hand to capture tremulous drops of water, marvelling how this liquid beauty has transformed the city within minutes. But as I said before, the monsoons we used to have was an altogether different affair from the rains. They lasted from end-June, raining vigorously till August, then sporadically in September and then again in October when the retreating monsoon winds would bless the city one last time before the onset of winter. Now, with changing global weather patterns and our own over-crowded,

H

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over-congested city, the rainy season is less clearly defined. Having grown up in Delhi, I remember the monsoons of my childhood as a period of unmatched joy. Cycling back from school (yes, there was a time when children could actually cycle on the roads of Delhi, that too main roads!), I remember getting drenched in the rain and coming home with soaking wet school textbooks. But it was compensated with piping hot bhutta (corn on the cob) bought from the road side. Being young, it was fun to get wet in the rain and watch others sheltering under the giant neem and jamun trees that lined the roads. Later, it was a treat to pick the fallen jamun berries from the road or to buy some from the vendors who tossed them in tangy masala and served them in little cups fashioned out of

leaves. Another family favourite during the monsoon was piling into the Ambassador, driving through lashing rain, and going all the way to Sunder Nagar to have chaat at Sweets Corner. The joy of pani-puri, aloo tikki or dahi papri was no match for home-made pakoras. Or going to the India Gate Lawns where one could run and dance, romp and play in the rain with complete abandon, for everyone else — young and old — was doing the same. I remember boating in the shallow canal near India Gate, upturning the boat and standing in waist-high waters with a bunch of can-get-no-wetter school friends! While a lot has changed in Delhi, it has lost much of its innocence and simple joi de vivre. It is very self-consciously the political and commercial capital of India, but one can still catch a glimpse of its old soul when it rains in Delhi. The majestic tree-lined avenues are a delight to drive through. The stately old trees sway in the Monsoon winds, their leaves glistening as though each and every one of them has just got a vigorous

CRISP HOT PAKORAS AND ALOO TIKKIS ARE BEST ENJOYED DURING THE MONSOONS

shampoo. The old tombs and relics that dot the city stand with their noble heads raised above the clamour of their surroundings. The parks and gardens — still plentiful compared to other major cities — look fresh and inviting. This is the time to discover the real Delhi, to look beyond its blasé, blithe shell and see the treasures it has so successfully managed to hide in the name of urban planning and development. Drive to the Archaeological Park in Mehrauli, stroll up to the Jamali Kamali mosque and tomb, sit propped up in one of the arches, close your eyes and let the Delhi rains cast their magic on you. Or, go to Suraj Kund, sit on its ancient stone steps and watch the rain fall pitter-patter into its 11th-century tank. Beyond the pool dedicated to the sun, watch the ageless Aravalli hills raise their magnificent weather-beaten heads in salutation to the rain that brings life to these arid parts. In fact, the ruins and relics that are found in such abundance all over Delhi offer the perfect monsoon package — watch the rain, unwind and get away from it all. You can take your pick from scores of monuments — the tombs of Safdarjung, Humayun, Khan-e-Khana are all accessibly and equally magical retreats. Or, go to the Lodi Gardens to soak in the greenery and serenity, and return refreshed and recharged. Meanwhile, don’t forget to munch on some bhutta straight-off-the coal fire, or suck some plump rain-fed jamun, or tuck into aloo tikki when you are out discovering the monsoon in Delhi.


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Monsoon in the hills

When it rains;

it pours JULY 2010 TRAVELX

For those who live in the hills, the diverse shades of the monsoon mean more than life. A good monsoon can mean a good agricultural crop, with fields full of grain and rice fields full of water. It can blend the shades of the hill terraces with the forests around and the dashes of ferns, rhododendrons, and many other wild flora. The domesticated relatives bloom in people’s window panes and small home gardens, attracting birds from near and far. Monsoon in the hills is truly unique.


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28 KANCHI KOHLI t was the last half hour of our trek, or shall I say mine. Those fitter than me had already made it to the Shirui Hill in the Ukhrul district of Manipur. I had anticipated the climb when the 2,570 metre high destination was pointed out from the place where we took our first steps to get a glimpse of rare and endangered Siroy Lily, Manipur’s state flower. The hill is unique, and not just because it was called by many names Siroy, Shiroi, Sirohee, Shirui, but more so because Shirui is the one of only two places in Manipur (in the world they say) where the Siroy Lily is found and that too only for a couple of months following mid May every year. The flowers were clearly visible when it was the last 10 minutes of the climb, and then the place transformed. With a lace of white mist all around me came the first drop of rains that day. Being the end of May in the hills, I guess it was expected. I tried my

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best to be layered with the feeling of monsoon, clothe myself with the white and colour myself with the green that drizzle made the place to be. In all this peered out the little pink and white lilies strewn all around as exquisite ground flora. The feeling was magical, to say the least. The season I was there was a few years back and the monsoons have changed since then. Some say that the climate is changing, but the unpredictable patterns are still visible. For those who live in the hills, the diverse shades of the monsoon mean more than life. A good monsoon can mean a good agricultural crop, with fields full of grain and rice fields full of water. A bad rainy season can either be dry and dreary or cause massive landslides, lending itself to not so happy times to cope with. For instance, it was a scanty, scattered and untamed monsoon for northern India last year (2009). Many of us in cities cribbed by the spurts of compressed showers we got. It brought with it lessons and called out for instilling

faith in farmer’s wisdom. As I sat talking to a small bio-diverse farmer from a village called Jardhar in Garhwal Himalayas, I got to better know the repercussions of a bad monsoon. But before I tell you that, I will have to delve into a bit about Jardhar. It is a small village, which, over decades, revived its forests and retained over 200 varieties of rajma beans in the fields. With no tourism developed there, the trek upto Jardhar is only through word of mouth and that too through those the village leaders trust. Coming back to what happened last year. The bio-diverse farmer I was talking to told me that the water guzzling crops failed in many places. But what had thrived were hardy crops like millets, which many of us today know as health foods. I refer to mandua or jhangora which are today encouraged by nutritionists to curtail diabetes and so on. In Jardhar, it is food to the people, a plate full that


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29 they would be happy to share with all visitors... if we choose to rough it out in their homes. As we are on the topic of food, its warmth is a must when one is cold and wet in the hill rains. And one realises the importance of it, when one has decided to brave it on a motorbike. The terrain of Kullu region in Himachal Pradesh is not easy, weather you are riding the bike or being driven. But that is its unexplored charm. As a friend and I took a detoured path during a work trip, the bike took us to village Sheelagarh which was adjoining a hydro power project under construction; we came across at a most charming tea shop. The connection between rains and tea shops go a long way. One can be privy to so many conversations just sitting casually, as it happened to us in Sheelagarh. There was hill music, philosophy and the wetness of affection in the chai-pakora

combination. A combination, which is a must to the hilly monsoons. While the old thrives, the new ideas bring creativity too. I remember during a walk up to Rumtek monastery in Sikkim, one blissfully encountered the rain. Rumtek is located 24km from Gangtok, the capital of the Sikkim, at an altitude of about 1500. When we were working ourselves towards it the Buddhist prayer flags flaying themselves in the wind and the clouds that had gathered were warning enough of what was to come. The climb became tougher and the path slipped a bit more. But the chants and the architecture were worth it. On the downward trail, I spotted an intriguing advertisement. A cell phone advertising banner had became the USP for this hotel selling hot tea and samosa. Hutch, I saw became “HotCha” Samosa. What a touch that was, and one had to oblige it with a stop.

There are times when the monsoons arrives unexpectedly enroute, and then there are those days when one trails it. Being in the hills during the monsoon can be a plan in itself. Up in a cosy homestay near Shimla or Naukuchiyataal can be real fun. One can watch the rain from within, hear the insects at night and their dance to the pitter-patter beats. The hail can whistle a scare and the soft wind can sing a melody. One can actually sit for two dozen minutes, waiting for a raindrop to fall on a pine leaf. But that’s a luxury not all can indulge in. Moreover, for the local people, staying indoors is not an option as there is work to attend to. So the best of rain gear comes into use. Those who can afford it, have smart umbrellas and raincoats. Others use plastic sheets to save their heads. Monsoon in the hills can bring different meanings for different people. It sprinkles hope, splashes colour, drizzles life and

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THE FEEL OF MONSOON IN THE HILLS IS TRULY INCREDIBLE


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Monsoon in Meghalaya

The poetry of

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Just a few days ago, the sun ruled supreme, the face of the horizon was pale, the leaves of trees were dried and fade. Then suddenly dark disarrayed crazy clouds set up tents in the corners of the sky, a vermillion ray of the setting sun came out like an unsheathed rapier. At midnight, the doors and windows trembled noisily. The stormy wind, as if, shook by hair the drowsy numbness of the whole city. In the morning, the downpour became steadier; the sun did not rise at all. At the beginning of creation perhaps the first words arose in the voice of wind, in the language of rain-drop. Crossing the chasm of millennia, those words from beyond memory and oblivion again gave us a call today in the chorus of rains. This marvellous description of the onset of monsoon is not mine, but Tagore’s. FLOWERS BLOOM BRIGHT DURING THE MONSOONS


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Enjoy an idyllic vacation at WelcomHeritage Chalet’s Naldehra - one of the world’s true mountain retreats: Compiled by: Saibali Batsyas The state of Himachal Pradesh is famous for many things, some of the best views of the snowcapped Himalayas, apples, shawls and even the world’s highest cricket grounds. But is also where the world’s highest golf course is situated. Situated just 23 km away from the famous hill station of Shimla is a place called Naldehra. At a height of 2044m and just 300 metres from WelcomHeritage Chalet’s Naldehra, lies the Naldehra golf course. This is a nine hole that is among the most picturesque ones in the world. The surrounding country, bouncy turf and a grove of deodars caught the eye of Lord Curzon, and the golf course was designed under his personal supervision. Here, in this rarified and crisply cold atmosphere, golfers can try their hand at teeing off on the world’s highest golf course - surrounded by the towering mountain peaks. Situated in the same place is WelcomHeritage Chalets Naldehra which has also been listed among the best Mountain Resorts, it has been attracting international clientele ever since it was built. These include golfers, trekkers as well as ski and winter-sports enthusiasts from all corners of the globe. WelcomHeritage Chalets Naldehra extends from a thickly forested mountain spur and has a view of a deep valley. This is a place for leisure, recreation, family and corporate bonding, adven-

treated fir logs, imported from Finland - to create a very special mountain resort, where the world’s best technology comes together with the world’s best setting. The Resort offers thirty-four centrally heated, comfortable and well-appointed log homes, cottages and apartments for families and groups. Designed so that that every window in every room, offers a different view of the Himalayas. There is a heated indoor swimming pool, a spa and health club, a conference hall, a restaurant and a bar. Leisure activities also include billiards, a putting green and table tennis. ture, golf and a select venue for conferences. This is not just a place where the ‘room has a view’, but where every window has a different view. Privacy and comfort are the hallmark of every log-home, apartment and room in WelcomHeritage Chalets Naldehra. It is a boutique resort surrounded by cedar forests and mountains. Created with internationally recognized expertise, the Resort has been built with specially

With all this and more on offer, a visit to Naldehra along with a peaceful stay in WelcomHeritage Chalet’s Naldehra is worth a holiday there!! For reservations and further information, please contact: WelcomHeritage Tel No : 011 46035500 , Fax : 011 46035528 Email : holidays@welcomheritagehotels.com


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32 NIRMAL KANTI BHATTACHARJEE or him (Tagore), the first days of the monsoon not only had a fascination, but also stood for many symbols. One of the basic tenets of Tagore’s mood of the monsoon is the spirit of self-renewal. Everything around us is shrunken by use, demeaned by the contempt of familiarity and stained by the reflections of our sorrows and sufferings. But, cloud is untouched by our old age and infirmity, is far from our hopes and despair. “A passer-by, it comes and goes, stays not.” Which is why, he fancies seeing the same cloud that Kalidas saw from the palace-top of Ujjain. The Avanti and Bidisha of yore no longer exist. But the ever-changing history of mankind could not touch the cloud. For Tagore, the same cloud of Meghdut appears every year, old but anew. However, as far as this writer is concerned, monsoon is the season of nonutility. It is the time of the lovers, of the poets and the idlers. At the hint of the rains, the poet’s mind starts dancing like a peacock. I somehow feel that the rainy season is, as it were, the least materialistic of all the seasons. While the summer and the spring supply man with abundance of ripe fruits, the autumn and the winter are the garnering time for mankind. Their barns are then full of harvest. Only the rainy season is rather indifferent to this relationship of give and take, despite the fact that on its benevolence depends the harvest of the entire year. It seems to a that somehow all the paraphernalia concomitant with this season are unfavourable to work. The emphasis is, as it were, on leave, on holiday. And what better place one can go chasing the monsoon than Cherrapunji in the north-eastern state of Meghalaya. High above the hazy valleys and foaming rivers, hidden in the rolling clouds, and perched on a headland, lies Cherrapunji, some 4,500 feet above the sea level. It is a spectacular location with year-round rain. Long ago, Cherrapunji had earned the coveted place in the Guinness Book of World Record for being the wettest place on the earth. This is one place all over the world where the rainfall is recorded in feet rather than in inches or millimetres. Cherrapunji, the pristine land with everlasting beauty, is perhaps the only place in India which has just one season — monsoon. The rainfall varies from heavy to medium to light, but there is no month without rain. When the Brits moved in from the Sylhet plains of the then East Bengal to the North East of India, mainly to escape the

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oppressing heat, they were immediately attracted to the vales of Sohra. The cool climes, the undulating meadows, the moist breeze, everything reminded them of things back home and they settled here, and anglicised the name to Cherra. Remember, Cherrapunji is still called by the locals as Sohra. Cherra was established as the central administrative point from where the entire north-east that we know today was ruled. However, while settling here, the Brits had little known that the search for cooler climes would be their nemesis one day and that they would be forced to move out of this place. It is said, young British officers by hundreds started to commit suicide regularly. The reason was found to be acute mental depression brought about by the dark gloomy atmosphere of the place. The rains would not stop for months, there would be no sunlight for ages, one could not see a distance of even 10 feet due to fog. All these contributed to the empire losing its bright officers everyday. This went on until a team of Brits moved out in search of a better place and discovered Shillong which was more moderate and in a manner of speaking a compromise between ‘home’ and India. Cherra lost its lustre since that day, but remains a weather beaten paradise even now. Alexander Frater in his celebrated book Chasing the Monsoon, chronicled his encounter with an Indian monsoon, from the tropical town of Trivandrum on the southern tip of India to the village of Cherrapunji. Frater’s journey lasted two months and his book turned out to be much more than a meteorological checklist. It is a touching portrait of the lives of the Indian people vis-à-vis the vagaries of monsoon. On the way to Cherrapunji, he encountered a great variety of Indian locales and the intriguing people that inhabit them. One can get a sensitive depiction of lives of the people of Cherrapunji and how they are positively and negatively affected by the monsoon. Another notable feature of the monsoon rain at Cherrapunji is that most of it falls in the morning. According to the weatherexperts, this could be partly due to two air masses coming together. During the monsoon months, the prevailing winds along the Brahmaputra valley generally flow from the east or the northeast, but the winds over Meghalaya are from the south. These two wind systems usually come together in the vicinity of the Khasi Hills. Apparently the winds that are trapped in the valley at night begin upward ascent only after they are warmed during the day. This explains the frequency of morning rainfall. The landscape of Cherra is something

straight out of the old testament. As the weather continues to ravage it, what emerges are cliffs with mind blowing drops, table top mountains that run for miles, jaw-dropping gorges, ghoulish sink holes (hundreds of feet deep) in the middle of gushing streams and waterfalls and meadows which are perennially covered in a spooky mist. The evenings during the monsoon are particularly eerie, when all you can see is distant lights covered in mist and may be a local balladeer humming on his way back home in the moist drizzle. Just before I went to Cherra last time a team from BBC came to document the monsoon there. Cherra did not get its usual share of rains this year. The BBC team thus had to wait for 15 days with no sight of clouds in the horizon. Their budget and the deadline getting upset, the team went for drastic measures. They called in a rainmaker — a local khasi witch doctor. He charged Rupees 10,000 for performing a ritual. The rain started pouring in from the next day and continued for more than a month, to the delight of the BBC team… Goes to show, even in the abode of clouds you have to pray for rain sometimes. When in Meghalaya, you constantly come across the ubiquitous kwai. A combination of betel leaf, areca nut, local lime, and what you get is a concoction that can knock out full grown horses. It dilates your arteries, pumps up the blood flow, makes you perspire and allows you to withstand the severe weather. Many uninitiated people are known to have choked on it. For the Khasis however, chewing kwai goes beyond the mere act of just chewing. It is a social activity, and a catalyst for bonding. In every Khasi house, it assumes the role of a welcome drink, an aperitif, an after-food mouth freshener and a munch for the road. Funeral, weddings, birthdays, all social occasions are started and squared off with kwai. The red stained lips of every Khasi worth his or her salt explains that. Even this humble kwai, is highly monsoon dependent. The areca nut, which is plucked raw, is fermented in huge interconnected ponds where water flows from one vat to another. The mechanism ensures that the nut gets fermented and yet does not give you the foul odour resulting from fermentation. All the odour is absorbed by the water. What is left is a chewy juicy nut which is quite different from that is chewed in other parts of India in the form of paan. To know India is to know the monsoon. Life is defined by the monsoon. If it appears on schedule, dams and irrigation canals fill and there will be a good harvest. If it fails, hard time lies ahead. Waiting for the


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33 monsoon in May and early June is exhausting. Shade shrinks and all but disappears; gentle breeze becomes merely a memory; the sun never seems to go down. The sun comes up earlier than before and licks up the few drops of dew before the fevered earth can moisten its lips. It blazes away all day long in a cloudless grey sky, drying up wells, streams and lakes, scorching relentlessly. Then the wind fills the black sails of the clouds and they billow out across the sun. A profound shadow falls on the earth. There is a clap of thunder. First it falls in fat drops; the earth rises to meet them. She laps them up thirstily and is filled with fragrance. Another flash of lightning and another crack of thunder like the roar of a hungry tiger. Then it comes in torrents. Sheets of water, wave after wave. The monsoon is not like the ordinary rain which comes and goes. Once it is on, it stays on for two months or more. Its advent is greeted with joy. But it is an

illusion that quickly vanishes. The earth becomes a big stretch of swamp and mud. In towns, gutters get clogged and streets become turbid streams. In villages, mud walls of huts melt in the water and thatched roofs sag and descend on the inmates. Rivers keep rising steadily and burst their banks as the monsoon spends itself on the mountains. And, after the clouds have shed their last drop of moisture in the Himalayas, the monsoon retreats back, the way it has come, like some vast tidal wave, hope and wreckage in its wake. Historians of the early Aryan civilisation believe that before coming to India, the Aryans were acquainted with two major seasons — summer and winter — with two minor interludes in between autumn and spring. That is why they worshipped two main deities — Dyous of sky and Savita of warmth. It is in India that they first came across the stupendous manifestation of the rainy season — the feverish activities in the

sky, the dazzling lightning, the deafening thunder, the horizon-shaking hurricane and the all-enveloping shower. The sense of awe and wonder at the sight of this stunning spectacle inspired them to create a new king of gods — Indra and to compose numerous exhilarating hymns and songs of the Rigveda glorifying the clouds, the rains, the thunder and the lightning. After Rigveda, this tendency finds another culmination in Kalidas whose Meghdut adds a tragic tinge to the beauty of monsoon by touching it with the tears of separated lovers. Later, Jaidev’s fascinating description of shadowy cloud and green forests in Gitagovindam invested all the vaishnav poetry with an unparallel softness and sobriety. And when we reach Tagore, it seems as if the voices of all poets of India from the beginning blend together into a polyphony to produce a corpus of unforgettable monsoon-poems. (PHOTOS BY NABARUN BHATTACHARJEE)

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DARK CLOUDS AND OVERFLOWING STREAMS ACCOMPANY YOU ON YOUR WALKS DURING THE MONSOONS


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Monsoon in Orissa

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Time for rejuvenation Monsoon is not just a season for Orissa; it is a time of rejuvenation, a time of resurrection. It is a rite of passage from the scorching, blazing summer into the coolness of the rains. It is a time of celebration. In Orissa, one does not have to chase the monsoon. It quietly prepares for its arrival and is then on you. Its seductive magic is played out in the sky, on the earth, the forests and hills, the rivers and of course among humans.


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36 SITAKANT MAHAPATRA he dark blue clouds, the colour of the Blue God Krishna, dawn on the horizon in the afternoon of early June. The white swans flying against them are a picture that has been celebrated numerous Orissan paintings. Slowly the dark clouds become thicker with lightning and thunder. Soon the clouds come together and it is a downpour. The forests grow greener, peacocks dance in ecstasy, the languid rivers swell and rush towards the sea; on the green grass beautiful tiny red insects called sadhab bahu (the daughter-in-law of sea-fairing men) crawl everywhere (in my school days I used to collect a fairly large number and put them in a small open jar before letting them out). The Oriya calendar divides the year into six seasons. But the really noticeable are two, summer and the rains. One does not know when the brief spring arrives with nimble footsteps and then as quietly goes

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away. It is as in Albert Camus’s celebrated novel The Plague. The city of Oran has “a spring cried out in market places” in the sale of flowers. So too are the three others in Orissa. There is hardly a winter while autumn and early winter is celebrated only in a few ritual celebrations. After the brief spring, it is the unrelenting empire of the sun everywhere. Summer rules with all its vehemence. The land is desiccated and grey. Most trees and plants wilt and wither. Every year monsoon is awaited with eagerness and expectation to end the reign of summer. With the hope that it comes in time, does not play truant, is not hijacked or become erratic. This eager waiting has multiplied manifold since 1999, the year a Super Cyclone chopped off almost half of the tree-cover in the coastal area and the capital city; also the year that began the decade when massive high-rise buildings and apartment blocks sprouted. Together they have made Orissa one of the hottest zones in the country, with temperatures

ALMOST ALL WATER BODIES OVERFLOW DURING THE MONSOONS

going up to 43 degree in the capital and 47 degree in the western belt. Then comes the magical monsoons with its life-giving rains. It is a magician who hates anything grey and rapidly turns everything into lush green. Its magic is seductive, its temptation irresistible. How soon the entire landscape changes! Its magic is played out everywhere: in the sky, on the land, the rivers, the rejuvenated trees, creepers and the humans. The monsoon months are indeed three, from mid June to mid September. The agricultural season begins before June and crops rapidly grow with the blessings of the rains. The villages are magically transformed. The quiet lazy river, participating in the play of children on its sand beds where funeral pyres are also lit, suddenly becomes full with menacing ferocity, swift current with foam and broken branches of trees. Sometimes it overflows the banks and turns miles of low-lying paddy fields into lakes. Monsoon revives three dear memories in me. As a child in school, I would tear up pages from my exercise books and fashion tiny boats to be floated down the water channels on the village street in front of our home. The alphabet scribbled in the note books used to mingle with the irregular alphabet of the rains. I fashion the boats even now, but for my grand-children! Only instead of pages from their note books, I use spare paper. It was a ritual for me to stand in the first heavy down-pour of the season, with my open mouth pointing skyward like a sparrow until I was drenched to the bone. This has continued to be a passion with me even to this age. Thirdly, during my school days, my friends and myself used to build make-shift boats with trunks of banana trees pieced together and row them into the endless shallow lake created by monsoon magic over the paddy fields stretching right up to the horizon. The village children still indulge in these innocent pleasures. Monsoon in Orissa has given us four major festivals. The most important social celebration is the Raja Festival, heralding the beginning of agricultural season. It’s a festival matched by its popularity and the intensity of celebration only by Dussera or Durga Puja. While the entire community participates in the celebration with feasting, it is a special festivity for the girls. They wear new clothes, their foreheads decorated with sandal paste and alta on the feet. Flower-bedecked swings are hung from tree branches. Girls of all ages sit on the swings by turn as their friends push them. They sing popular folk-songs associated with the monsoon as the swing goes up and


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THE BEST TIME FOR ENJOYING FISHING IS THE MONSOON

to the temple of Mausima. It is everybody’s desire to see Lord Jagannath on the chariot which is supposed to deliver one from the cycle of birth and death. It is necessary to note that all the 62 tribal groups in Orissa, have appropriate songs and dances to celebrate the monsoon months and to seek the blessings of mother earth. The most numerous tribal group in the country, the Santals have several invocation songs, called Bakhens which pray to Dhartani, the mother earth “to send rain-bearing clouds so that when we plant one seed, it becomes ten”. The sky with its rain-bearing clouds bends down on the green fields. The music of the rains is sometimes loud punctuated by the crash of thunder and lightning. Its soft strains can be listened to at other times throughout the night as it softly falls on the roofs and trees. Monsoon has given us the malhars, a time-honoured group of ragas associated with it when the tropical sunbaked land receives the life-giving rains. For ages monsoon magic has triggered creation, life and romance. The monsoon has a totally different look in Western Orissa’s hilly and jungle terrain. How I have loved to sit in a bungalow on the hills and watch the clouds pass through the sal and mahul trees creating an atmosphere of a sea of mist spreading into infinity! In this region,

sometimes it rains almost endlessly and one does not see the sun even for a week. Monsoon, however, is not all celebration nor is it a time only for songs, dances and festivities. The riverine coastal belt with Mahanadi and its intricate network of branches and also several other rivers pose a threat during the season. Frequent heavy floods are a grim reality. Every year before the monsoon arrives, river embankments have to be strengthened, gaps closed, boats and urgent relief matters kept ready. The Orissa State Disaster Management Authority and all the control rooms at State Headquarters and the districts are kept battle-ready. Monsoon can also be a time of misery. It can bring untold suffering to millions. Floods can breach embankments, wash away houses and cattle, destroy crops and damage roads and all other communications. Some villagers may be totally cut-off accessible only by power boats to rescue the marooned population. Helicopters have to drop, essential food materials including drinking water and medicine. Thus, the monsoon can be cruel and unforgiving. The rivers that deposit silt creating fertile soil on which crops thrive can also lick away crops and habitations in no time. (PHOTOS BY NABARUN BHATTACHARJEE AND SWASTIK PAL)

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down. They also play the extremely popular game of leap-frog locally called puchi. Menfolk have their own games. It is a three-day-long eating and merrymaking. If Raja is a grand social celebration, the festival of festivals for men, monsoon is also the season for celebrating the Divine. During this period, three great religious events are celebrated in Orissa. They are Siva’s wedding, Krishna’s birth and the annual journey of Lord Jagannath from the main temple’s sanctum sanctorum to the temple of his aunty (mausi). Siva’s wedding, Sitala Sasthi is a hugely popular festival in Sambalpur district and North Orissa. The Lord’s marriage procession to the abode of Parvati has a baraat in which several other Gods and Goddesses and thousands of men and women participate. The entire marriage ritual with kanyadan is enacted. Krishna’s birthday, Janmastami, Orissa shares with North India with the recitation of Harivamsa and Gopa Leela, the tenth volume of Bhagavat Purana. All the four mythically-named clouds from four directions of the sky are supposed to come together so that it rains heavily to make Yamuna overflow for the miracle of Ugrasen crossing it to be enacted. But the most important religious festival is the Rath Yatra, the annual chariot journey when lakhs of people gather on the Bada Danda (Highway), linking the main temple


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Rains in the South

An enigma called

monsoon OVERFLOWING WATER BODIES AND LUSH GREEN PLANTS FORM A SCENIC VIEW DURING THE MONSOONS

They came fluttering around light in the early night, in great abundance. The rain flies. Children ran here and there, jumped on the sofa, in fear and surprise and screamed. There was gentle rain in the evening. The monsoon is near! I said rather loudly, in the same concealed manner a mother reprimands her children. Knowing fully well, this is something she can’t live without.

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LEKSHMY RAJEEV ate at night, eyes closed, listening to the wind’s gust, I wanted to be the monsoon. The rain that falls as drops, as kindness, as blessing, as a puzzling concern… A moment in time,

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where rain reigns and where rain alone remains. The monsoon is here again. “Oh, dear, now the kingly monsoon is onset with its clouds containing raindrops, as its ruttish elephants in its convoy, and with skyey flashes of lighting as its pennants and buntings, and with the thunders of thunderbolts as its percussive

drumbeats, thus this rainy season has come to pass….” The lines from Kalisdasa’s Seasons, came to my mind. I became concerned about the many moods that rain creates in our vast country and how life gets very hard for the people without shelter during the monsoons. I remembered all the rituals,


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called Thulaavarsham (rains in the month of Thulam). By mid to end June, the monsoon usually covers most of India, bringing down the heat, soaking the ground and swelling the rivers that are the lifeline of Indian agriculture. An ageold phenomenon, but fresher than anything that happens to the earth. The word ‘monsoon’ appears to have originated from the Arabic word ‘mausim’, which means ‘season’ and monsoon is a season that travels. In his famous travelogue, Chasing the Monsoon, Alexander Frater says, “The monsoon is a huge natural engine, driven by the temperature differences over sea and land; in summer the air over the land

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prayers, and the gods associated with it. This is a nation where a failed monsoon could mean riots and losing the elections. The Governor of the Reserve Bank of India said in a recent interview, “Now at the end of my career I realise that my entire performance will depend on rains and not on what I do about interest rates.” Predictions, economy, feelings and facts apart, it is a time when Kerala is even more graceful with the showers all over. The first (South-West) monsoon showers are called Edavappathi (also Kalavarsham) in Malayalam because they fall in the middle of the Malayalam month Edavam (May - June), as against the second monsoon (North-East) which is

grows very hot. It expands and rises so cool sea air must flow into equalise the pressure. The difference in heating sets up a massive aerial current from the Indian Ocean, South of the equator. It heads for India and the evaporating water it picks up from the ocean falls as rain where it reaches the land; this repeats and that is why monsoon is a travelling phenomenon, always moving along the path you plan to follow.” In Kerala, for the wealthy, rain is a dreamy event as they have parties welcoming the monsoon; for the middle classes, it is a relief as well as a problem due to the enormous volume of water affecting their daily routines and plans. For the poor, it is a scourge as the deluge washes away their roadside dwellings, leaving them with no cover and bringing diseases and death in its wake. Ayurveda, the indigenous Indian health-science system, takes into account the impact of the monsoon on the psyche of a patient and suggests treatments accordingly. Classical Indian music has specific ragas associated with the monsoon, and the rain-inducing ones too. Numerous ancient and modern paintings have been dedicated to the phenomenon of the monsoon. The monsoon begins its journey through India from the famous Kovalam region near Thiruvananthapuram. The rains within Thiruvananthapuram are not usually long-sustained, as against those further up in the central midlands. Here, a heavy downpour lasts for a few minutes, often followed by bright sunshine, especially around the Onam festival when Keralites celebrate the memory of plenitude during the legendary reign of the Asura king Mahabali, whom Vishnu’s incarnation, Vamana, pushed down to the Netherworld. Moving north, it covers the districts of Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannoor, and Kasargod. The high range districts of Idukki and Wayanad, and Palakkad bordering Tamil Nadu experience some variations in the usual rhythm-patterns of the monsoon, when compared to the coastal and midland regions. In the second stretch, monsoon seems to gain in intensity. During this period, within Kerala, Peerumedu in Idukki district and Vaithiri-Kuttiyadi ranges in Malabar receive the highest rainfall. It is comparatively low in the Lakshadweep islands. Moving on to South Canara and


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THE DOWNPOUR FORCES PEOPLE TO STOP WORK, STAY INDOORS AND ENJOY THE RAINS

North Canara districts of Karnataka, it passes on to the Konkan region, crosses Goa, and travels towards Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and the low lands of Jammu. It takes little more than a month to make this journey. By end June, the West and North of the country have experienced the cooling touch of the South-West Monsoon. The strange feeling the Keralites living in Delhi and the northern states have when their home state relishes the cool showers and they themselves get roasted up in the oven of 45 degrees Celsius and sometime more, in June, is the stuff nostalgia is made of. For Keralites, MithunamKarkkidakam, (June-July, July-August) is the peak of the Edavappathi. From being the traditional time for taking a course of rejuvenating Ayurvedic treatment, Karkidakam is

religiously significant too, as the month during which daily recitation of the Ramayana (Thunchattu Ezhuthacchan’s Kilippaatu version which marks the beginnings of modern Malayalam) is done in almost all Hindu households. Karkidaka Vaavu (The New Moon of Karkidakam) is one of the most important dates in the annual religious calendar, as the day on which dead parents and other manes are offered propitiation. A secular festival that marks the tail end of Karkidakam is the worldfamous Nehru Trophy Boat Race on the first Saturday of August, at Punnamada Backwaters, near Alappuzha. Even on the faces of those who stand drenched in the open during a sudden downpour, rain does not bring an expression of annoyance on the other hand, it is mostly rapture. Here’s to the monsoons! (PHOTOS BY G. SCHIMAR AND K K NAJEEB)


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Rains in Bengal

Rural charm,

urban sensibility

Ever since I can remember, I have always been fascinated by two things — ruins of buildings and rains. I still find ruins attractive because to me they appear to represent a perpetual storehouse of stories told, untold, heard and unheard. Ruins tell me stories, and so do rains. MRINAL SEN look at ruins of mansions and can quite easily imagine what high drama must have been enacted within its walls, not all of which still stand; what a variety of emotions must have raged beneath the roof now caved in to let in the sky. The house may be on the verge of collapse; it may be on the point of disappearing forever, yet, for me, the stories remain alive long after the house is reduced to a mere caricature of itself. In a way, it symbolises human history. Not

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surprisingly, ruins have featured in many of my films. As have rains. As I see it, rains act as the counterpoint to ruins. If one is the herald of the past, the other is the harbinger of life, the present and future. Among my films the first to be widely acclaimed was Baishe Shravan. Shravan, as you know, is the second month of monsoon. The date is significant because that is the day Rabindranath Tagore died. My film of course, is neither about the rains nor about Tagore but one in which rains played a vital role as they have done in many of my other

films. It is based on a story woven around a man I actually saw very briefly at Nimtolla burning ghat while we were waiting for the cremation of Tagore’s body. The protagonist of Baishe Shravan is a villager. We chose a village called Mankar in Bardhaman district about 30 miles away from Bardhaman town as the location for shooting the film. The rains we saw while shooting remain etched in my memory. One can hardly call them charming or beautiful. The rains at Mankar were something to be reckoned with. They were formidable and inspired fear and awe.

EVEN WITH RAINCOATS ON, CHILDREN ENJOY THE MOST IN THE RAINS


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KOLKATA RECEIVING ITS FAIR SHARE OF RAINS

stretched further than ever and looked menacing. I was frightened. My son was awestruck. He gazed at the sky and suddenly exclaimed, “Look father, the sky is looking like a 70 mm screen.” I looked up and it was indeed as impressive as the 70 mm screen that had only just made an appearance in the city. In some other generation, the description of that sky would probably have been different. My father or grandfather would have described the scene that day as: the clouds gathered from horizon to horizon and spread themselves like the wings of Garuda or Gibrael. But there we were in the early 70s and the vast cloud covered firmament reminded my young son of the latest in wide screens. One does not often see the storm gathering or rains arriving with the fanfare of those days; but from time-to-time they can be seen and then it can turn into quite a treat. The other thing that touches me about the rain in Kolkata is the pure expression of urban sensibility. While I really cannot bring myself to sing the praise of waterlogged monsoon streets, there is something about the Kolkata rains that strikes me and leaves a lasting impression in my mind. If I am reminded of Tagore while watching the rains in the countryside, I cannot but remember Jibanananda Das when thinking of rains in the city. Imagine it is late at night and a light shower has wet the city streets. Suddenly a car appears from nowhere at a very high speed and races away. The sound of receding tyres on a wet road is a perfect urban phenomenon. Nowhere in rural Indian does one come across such an event; just as the reflection of red tail lamps of a receding car on the wet surface of a road at night is a truly urban visual; or the fountain of water sprayed by a car moving fast over a puddle

of rainwater in the middle of the road. There was this picture painted by a poem by Jibanananda where he compares the sound of a car racing through a wet night with the sound of an anxious sigh. This anxious avatar of the rains has made a place in some of my film. Take the example of Akash Kusum. The protagonists had planned to go for a meal when the rains come down in torrents. They wait and the audience waits with them and their anxiety increases. In the end they are forced to drop the plan of a meal outside because of the rains. Of course, in Akash Kusum, I did not shoot actual rain but used pictures of torrential rains that were published in The Statesman to depict the image I had in mind. There were scenes of rain in Ekdin Achanak too. An aged man sits watching the rain. Something is triggered in his mind and it could well have been the work of the rains that eventually makes him walk out of his home and family. Then there were the torrential rains in Akaler Sandhane. It is a film about the shooting of a film in a village not far from Kolkata. Ruins and rains have come together in this film. The filming unit is putting up in a huge dilapidated building which used to be the zamindar’s house. All that remains of the past glory is an aged and virtually destitute couple who lives in one of the innumerable rooms of the huge mansion. One evening the rains come down and shooting is held up. The members of the unit gather in one of the rooms and pass the time playing games. Rains may not appear as a major player in my films but they are seldom reduced to mere props or a backdrop. Their significant role is not restricted to my films alone, indeed rains have been a favourite with me in my personal life too. (AS TOLD TO S URMILA MAJUMDAR. PHOTOS BY SURJO KRISHTI)

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In one of the scenes, the protagonist is seen walking through this rain that is devastating the world. This was not lifegiving rain but rain that was out to destroy the world and all life with it. It was a deluge and we shot the man walking through it. He walks on and on through the continuing rain. Then he takes refuge under a tree. He sits and watches the rain and in the distance he hears sounds of a wedding. He is in the grip of a strange pensiveness. He begins to feel lonely among the tremendous activity around him. As the rain lets off, he walks back to his home and aged mother, and for the first time, voices his feeling: Ma, I feel lonely. Rains remain forever a fountain of moods and emotions. I like the rains because one can get a picture of life that may not be seen at other times. Rains, like ruins help create an atmosphere seldom recreated in the studio or sets. There is an immense variety of style, emotion and colour in rains. Not all rain in the village is like the rains of Baishe Sharvan, destructive, fearsome. I remember the rains of my childhood. It was in a place called Faridpur, in East Bengal as we then called it, which is present-day Bangladesh. The land lies between the two mighty rivers, the Ganga and the Padma. As children we watched the rains in our ancestral home. They were beautiful. Rains in rural Bengal compare well with the beauty I witnessed during those days of my childhood, provided of course they do not turn into a cyclone. The lush green of districts like Bardhaman or the red soil of Bankura and Birbhum turn stunningly beautiful after the rains. The colours are accentuated and the green turns magical. As I watch the rains in rural Bengal I inevitably remember Rabindranath Tagore’s poems. In my mind the rains and Tagore are inseparably linked. The vast stretch of green with the dark clouds hanging menacingly is a picture perhaps seen only in Bengal. And yet, it rains in the city too. The approach of rain in the only stretch of green in the city is as remarkable as the dark and threatening sky serving as a backdrop to the white marble dome of Victoria Memorial. Rains on the Ganga in Kolkata may not be as astounding as rain in the Padma of my childhood, but admittedly, it has its very own charm. Once when my son was still only a young boy, we shared a memorable experience. The day was drawing to a close and we were out in the open. Clouds had gathered in grey bundles and the sky


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Rains in Goa

Along the

verdant shores WENDELL RODRICKS

he rains in Goa are eagerly and happily awaited, with a lot of anticipation, because it comes after this hot, dry and humid weather we have in summer here. It is one of the most anticipated seasons for many valid reasons. First of all, the ground becomes completely green in one rain shower, the sight of which is completely incredible. You see the earth brown one day and the next morning after the rains, the entire area is green. And in three or four weeks, what is incredible is there is not a single shade of brown that you see on the ground, it gets completely covered. For me it’s like a miracle to see that happen in such a short time, it’s not like it takes one month or whatever, it’s instantaneous. On another level, I love the rains, because it’s the only time now, we Goans have to ourselves. Everybody who had their summer holidays has run away, thank God, and we can reclaim the Goa that we once enjoyed in complete peace. There are no tourists, and we know we have to suffer them in the month of August when they get Independence Day holidays or some festival pops up. Mercifully, there is no festival between June and July. So we have the place to ourselves. And it is a kind of regenerative period, a time to give back. When all the frenzy of the tourist season has gone, the earth that has been trampled upon and so much taken away from it has some time to heal. Nature gives back to Goa, and Goa regenerates itself for the next onslaught, if you can use the word. The monsoon is also a quiet meeting time for us Goans here. Because there are no tourists and because I do have a lot of friends who come in the season, both from the rest of the country and from abroad, this is the only time we Goans can meet among ourselves. The rains do not allow you to

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spend time outdoors, so the season turns into a family and friends visiting period. Where normally on a Saturday or a Sunday you would think of going out somewhere, here, you would actually go to people’s homes or invite them to your place and enjoy the simple things of life. There is not much of Goa’s staple and much-loved fish produce, so life gets simpler in the monsoon, it takes you back to another time, when just your bhoje will please you more than any other grand biscuit could do the rest of the year. Simple timeless traditional Goan monsoon meals of sourak or a fishless Goan curry, just tastes so much better because the season is so apt for it. This simplification of everything, the diet, the mood, the quiet, the tranquility of our small society, for a short time we can reclaim the Goa we knew earlier. So from all three sides, the monsoon is a healing time, the land gets respite from the tourists, we get to meet and spend more time with family and friends, and finally it also affords us some “me” time. All the things that you have been putting off, due to a normal frenetic pace of life, can get done during the monsoon. You can catch up on some gym time, and other things on your list of things to do. For me professionally, it is a very important creative period, the most important time of the year. It’s also a very difficult period, because one is preparing for the coming season. At this time of the year we don’t really have that much work. The clothes continue to be sold in our outlets, yes. Package tourists will come in and shop. We are busy, but not with doing a new collection. I purposely do not go to work, I don’t get involved with the studio, or with samples or anything like that, for the first month, for the month of June. I don’t get involved with that. But it is a very big thinking period for me. It is when I conceive my new collection, and when I say collection, I don’t mean one collection. I

know I’ll be showing at Fashion Week, we’ll be doing other shows, we know that we will need in-between collections. When the season starts, it gets frenetic and there is not much thinking time. The monsoon allows me that. This is our preparation time. We have to get into Fashion Week mode by August. June and July are the only two months we have time to develop ideas and collections. At the moment, I’m developing this big new collection which I am doing called the Kunbi tribe revival, collecting weaves of yore. We are actually sitting, despite the rain in small sheds and weaving fabric, getting fabric dyed and it’s all very difficult, which is why I say it is a very challenging time. To get fabric dyed and dried in this time of year, is quite a challenging procedure. Instead of taking one week, it can sometimes take three weeks and still get prolonged. The monsoon is our time to do all that R&D which we need to put into our collection every year. At no time in the year do I put that much effort into a new collection. We know that our September collection is the strongest collection, aimed at Spring/Summer for the next year, so we have our thinking cap on very seriously now. And secondly we know we have that time on hand now. So for most days, I am, what I call, in dream mode, the ambience allows me to dream it all. So I will not do much, I will not take on much work. At the moment I am only captioning things for my book, I won’t take heavy-load work. But I am working 24x7 in my head, I maintain a small sketch book, and every time I get an idea I will pop it into it, which will eventually become clothes on the ramp. So it is big time think time now. Not so strangely, it was one monsoon I spent in Goa, years ago that influenced me to return to live here and make it my permanent home. I will always be grateful for that time. I remember the year, it was


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I love the rains on two levels. Personally, I love it for obvious reasons, there’s no need to even mention it. I feel, it’s the best season for us Goans. We don’t look forward to any other season as much as we do to the monsoon. And secondly, monsoon is the time when Goa is just enjoyed by the locals, and not flocked by tourists…

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A WALK ALONG THE SHORE, WITH THE MONSOON LADEN SEA GIVING YOU COMPANY, IS A ‘MUST DO’ FOR A TOURIST VISITING GOA IN THE RAINS


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1977. I was just getting my 12th standard results, but had already got admission into one of the better colleges in the then Bombay, so I was not worried and had extra time on hand until college reopened. I spent that time, that monsoon alone with my grandmother in our house in this very village, Colvale. I will never forget it. Not only was I spending my first real monsoon in Goa, but it was also the longest time I had stayed on beyond a vacation. For me it was an eye opener, a revelation. Everything amazed me, everything surprised me, some thing’s terrified me, I had never seen so many insects, so many hairy caterpillars and snakes and I remember, very fondly going and looking at the farmers, they were ploughing the field, and they would tell us don’t stand in the water, there may be cobras. It was interesting because it was my first taste as a person to be that close to nature, and also it was the first time I had stayed with my grandmother for that long. She only spoke Konkani, so I could master the language and really be close to the village. When I look back now, it was that monsoon which made me realise that this is where I wanted to one day live, if I ever got the opportunity to do so. I knew I would return to live here because, it was the romance of that particular year, I remember the year, it was 1977, that made me realise that unlike all the other city people and family I knew — including my own parents and brothers,

who said they would never be able to live here — it made me connect that I could very happily live here. And in a way that memory kept recurring in my mind, that monsoon was wonderful, that feeling of being isolated, of being able to be with yourself and with your mind — that stayed with me and drew me back here. And strangely enough, I came to tap into it, later in life. When I went to show my portfolio in Paris, I also learnt a very important lesson there. One of them said to me; only you can give your culture and your mind in your work. I cannot give Kashmir as well as Rohit Bal can. I cannot give Kolkata as well as Sabyasachi can. But I can give Goa like they can’t. And plus I was dealing with abstraction. They were dealing with a physical reality where you have a clothing referral or a design referral. You had the Taj Mahal, you had the image of Kashmir, you had the architecture of a place, or the kantha embroidery or the Bengali Saree for Kolkata, designers could translate that. But in Goa I had literally nothing to translate save nature. To translate sea breeze and beach and sand... into an emotion which expressed itself in garment, was to say the least, very challenging. The whole thing is very difficult to translate because Goa lost all its clothing tradition in the inquisition, sadly not only the Catholics but the Hindus as well. It cut us off from the rest of the country, in a very brutal violent way and forced us to adapt things that did not come naturally to us, but came from a foreign land. So that revival has to come back... I think it is a pity that people don’t

come to Goa and use this season in a more beneficial way. Goa needs about two billion litres of water to satisfy the entire state. Just recently, last week in two days all that water fell and simply flowed off. If we could get young groups of people in the monsoon to work, that would be nice. There are these wonderful schemes today, where people come to partake as well as give back to a society, whether it is an education programme, or whatever. If the government of some agriculture are farming organisation, would say come to Goa in the monsoon, help us to plant and harvest the rice crop, and it became something that we could sell real organic rice out of Goa, in a way that they are doing in Dehradun, then the monsoon could be better utilised. And it should be promoted more. I know if you told some Americans or Europeans to come down to Goa, pay a donation of $200, pay for travel, food and we’ll give you free lodging in small villages and you work with us for three weeks, there would be takers. Because some people want to do something, they want the work experience. And it is life enhancing for them as well. Goans already do it. Each monsoon thousands of people will plant their rice crop, many will plant their kitchen gardens and groves, though we must do more to keep that alive. Plants pop out of the ground in the monsoon. We don’t even know our own plants. Now I have to go on the hills and search for the tefla tree and plant it in my garden. But the fact of the matter is, it is a good time to study the natural biodiversity of Goa, which is completely ignored. (AS TOLD TO PAMELA D’MELLO. PHOTOS BY FREDERICK NORONHA)


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Carvings on stone It can be called the tourist capital of Madhya Pradesh and a ‘hot’ property on many a traveller’s list — Khajuraho, with its numerous temples and erotic sculptures is truly worth a visit. NANDU MANJESHWAR

I

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t is a little before 7 in the morning and there are already around one hundred tourists waiting for the gates to officially open to enter the western group of monuments at Khajuraho. The monuments, mostly temples, are divided into three groups based on its location — western, eastern and southern groups. The western group is the most popular, perhaps, since all hotels are concentrated in its vicinity and maximum number of temples are located within this complex. To reach other two groups, one has to drive a few kilometres. The golden-hued temples within the complex, surrounded by lush green lawns, look magnificent. All of them built on high plinth, give that unmistakable stamp of royal authority. We start with Kandariya Mahadeva temple, the largest and most impressive of them all, rising to a height of 30.5m above the plinth. As we walked towards the temple, Narayan (my chauffer and also my guide) gave a brief history of Khajuraho and the royal dynasty which built these architectural marvels. And with each step towards the temple, it looked increasingly impressive and bigger than its actual physical dimensions. “HOT” exclaims the one on my right, while sipping water from the bottle, in unmistakably Yankee twang. “You mean the sculptures,” asks his companion, while photographing the sculptures on the temple.

“The weather too”, he muttered. There is something about sculptures on the temples, the erotic to be specific, that attracts visitors. The local folklore is that a total of 85 temples were built by the Chandella dynasty but only 25 remain today. These were built spanning three centuries, between 900AD and 1100AD, reaching apogee as historians point out during the reign of Vijaydhara (1017-29AD). He built Kandariya Mahadeva temple, the finest amongst temples of Khajuraho, and also known for exquisitely crafted sculptures. I slowly go around the temple absorbing sensuous beauty of sculptures, prodded every now and then by my wife to take a photograph at a particular angle. I noticed that the side facing the sun had a different hue from those in the shade. From photographic point, it is a dilemma — should we visit again later to take photographs of those now in shade. Narayan comes to my rescue in mentioning that sculptures are symmetrically placed on either side of the temple. It indeed is. We move on to Jagadambi temple on its left and shares plinth with Kandariya Mahadeva temple. It is the only ‘active’ temple within the complex where devotees throng every day to perform pooja. Visvanatha and Lashmana temples form the front row, closer to the entrance. Both, in their own way and style, are marvellous like the rest, but have less of erotic sculptures. This topic somehow comes over and over


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WHERE TO STAY TOP-END Hotel Taj Chandela Tel: 07686-272355-64 The Raddison Jass Hotel Tel: 07686-272344 Holiday Inn Tel: 07686-272301 MID-RANGE Hotel Jhankar Tel: 07686-274063 Hotel Payal Tel: 07686-274064 Hotel Greenwood Tel: 07686-274505-06 BUDGET Casa de William Tel: 07686-274244 Marble Palace Tel: 07686-274353 Marcopolo Hotel Tel: 07686-274202 (There are over 20 budget hotels and all are around western group temple complex)

WHAT TO DO Western, eastern and southern groups Son-et-Lumiere In the evening (daily) Archaeological Museum (close to western group of temples) Visit Beni Sagar Lake (7km, a picnic spot) Visit Raneh Waterfalls (20km, a picnic spot) Ken Ghariyal Sanctuary (25km, habitat of long-snout ghariyals) Kalinjara Fort (100km, a massive fort)

WHERE TO EAT Best bet is to eat in the restaurants of the hotels. There are several stand-alone restaurants (including bar) opposite western group of temple.

HOW TO REACH

as an alternate path leads to the attainment of final deliverance. A day's tour is indeed too short though I am not an aficionado, either architectural or archaeological. I have visited Madurai's Meenakshi temple, Belur temple in Karnataka, Konarak in Orissa, but Khajuraho evokes a different feeling. Maybe it is the pristine environment surrounding the temples. (PHOTOS BY NANDU MANJESHWAR)

JULY 2010 TRAVELX

BY AIR: Regular service link with Delhi and Varanasi. BY RAIL: Jhansi is well connected by Taj Express and Shatabdi from Delhi. Also a major junction well connected through trains from other cities as well. BY ROAD: Khajuraho is well connected by road from Jhansi.

again during the visit to Khajuraho temples. Narayan again comes with explanations. These sculptures mirror their time when society at large had fewer taboos and inhibitions about sex. The depictions of erotic postures are mentioned in the ancient text of Kamasastra as well. There is nothing sordid or coarse about them. One way of looking at it is that yoga, or spiritual exercise, with bhoga, or physical pleasure,


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WANDERLUST

The road to JULY 2010 TRAVELX

eternity

It was like a long awaited wish come true, as right before my wondering eyes loomed the Memorial Arch, Eastern View — the structure that was constructed to commemorate the building of the Great Ocean Road — a memorial to the Victorian soldiers who had served in World War I.


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TANUSHREE PODDER t is the world’s longest war memorial, a tribute to the determined effort of the ex-servicemen who used nothing more than picks and shovels to carve out a road that was to become one of the most beautiful coastal drives in the world. Standing under the arch, I mulled over my good luck. Seven full days of hugging the ocean, umpteen hours to watch its rhythm; I just could not believe

I

my luck. Years of planning later I was driving on the Great Ocean Road, finally. The drive along the most dramatic coasts in the world promised to be as good as the stories I had heard about it. The vast stretch of seascape, a shoreline embellished with beautiful beaches and rugged cliffs, colourful coastal villages and, of course, the amazing sight of the Twelve Apostles awaited me as I set out from one end of the 400km long road. As we drove along what is known as B100, the road clinging resolutely to the

ocean, travelling past pristine beaches, teetering over precipitous cliffs and ducking beneath the emerald canopies of rainforest I could not help but marvel at the beauty unfolding before my eyes. We left Melbourne behind and headed towards Torquay, one of the most popular surf spots in the world. The weather balmy, good company and an efficient car — what more could one want? The quiet and quaint town called Aireys Inlet, defined by a glossy white lighthouse perched on ochre red cliffs was

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12 APOSTLES AND THE SHELTERED, PRISTINE BEACHES WITH CRYSTAL CLEAR WATERS AND SNOW-WHITE SANDS


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as picture perfect as one could imagine a coastal town to be. Lorne, a playground for the rich and famous, turned out to be a showcase for opulent houses, cool cafes and an expensive shopping strip. Declared an area of special significance and natural beauty more than a century ago, this little town is invaded by the affluent global travellers for an escape from the routine. Browsing around its art galleries, I found myself suppressing a tinge of envy for the denizens of the pretty town. The hour was spent sipping coffee latte at an al fresco bistro even as the salt in the sea breeze coated my hair spun dizzying dreams in my little head. The ocean, as we travelled alongside,

seemed to display a plethora of moods at different times of the day, sometimes raging ferociously against the rocks and sometimes falling in gentle waves. The changing lights of the day tinged the waters in varying shades. This called for frequent stops so we could soak in the beauty and capture the thousands of megabytes of pixels in our cameras. The winding length of the GOR (Great Ocean Road) between Lorne and Apollo Bay turned out to be one of the most spectacular stretches. We were at Apollo Bay, a fishing town, bustling with visitors. No wonder, most drivers on the GOR consider this part of the road ‘Paradise by the Sea’. A crescent-shaped

sandy swimming beach against the backdrop of rolling green Otway hills, justifies the title beyond doubt. Overlooking Bass Strait, perched high on a bush land hillside with a wonderful view of the coast, above the Great Ocean Road, Chris’s Beacon Point Restaurant and Villas, the Mecca for gourmet travellers, beckoned us for indulgence. True to his reputation, the Greek culinary legend laid out a feast before the famished travellers even as he regaled us with interesting stories. The night halt at the Studio overlooking the shoreline with the sound of the distant waves was the perfect end to an eventful day. I sat in the balcony braving the chilly wind, wrapped


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55 in my dreams for warmth till it was dark and the dancing fireflies reminded me it was time to catch some sleep before we began the next lap of our journey. The next morning we wound our way towards Port Campbell. The road now left the coast and headed beneath towering trees, past delicate ferns and entered into the heart of the Great Otway National Park where the Cape’s ruggedness was matched by the lushness of the rainforest enveloping it. Sheltered by cliffs and Norfolk pines, it has the atmosphere of a haven on the edge of wild nature. Port Campbell was named after Captain Campbell — a Scotsman in charge of Port Fairy’s whaling station — and began as a

small fishing port with surrounding pastoral runs. Buffeted by wild seas and fierce winds, the coastline around Port Campbell has been sculpted over millions of years to form a series of striking rock stacks that rises out of the Southern Ocean; the celebrated Twelve Apostles are just one of them. Although four of the Apostles are long gone, the stunning limestone stacks just off the shore is easily the most famous landmark on the Great Ocean Road. Known as the ‘Sow and Piglets’ until the 1950s, the name was changed to the Twelve Apostles, even though there were only nine standing at the time. The ninth Apostle crumbled down in 2005. These

remnants of what were once limestone cliffs of mainland are a dazzling sight during the sunset and the sunrise when the entire area is tinged with enthralling glow of the sunrays. Some of rock stacks are as high as 45 metres. These were formed when ferocity of the ocean and the wild winds eroded the cliffs for millions of years, shaping them into a group of rocks, which have become one of world’s seven wonders. This was the part of the Great Ocean Road that holds an entire series of geological phenomenon — the Loch Ard Gorge, the Razorback, the London Arch and the Grotto. The London arch, once known as the London Bridge, is a rock

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THE GREAT OCEAN DRIVE TAKES YOU TO SOME OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL COASTAL SCENERIES AUSTRALIA HAS TO OFFER


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REACHING THERE Take a Qantas flight to reach Melbourne and drive down to Geelong, which is about 75km away (should take you under an hour) and then you are on the Great Ocean Road for a lifetime experience.

STAYING

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There are scores of hotels, to suit all pockets, at all stopover points but my recommendations would be to park yourself at Chris’s Beacon Point at Otway and Mantra Deep Blue at Warrnambool for a fantastic experience.

MEMORIAL OF WORKERS AT GREAT OCEAN ROAD

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PICNICKERS ENJOYING COASTAL SCENERY BY THE SEASIDE

a testimony to the treachery of the coast. The Loch Ard Gorge, about 10 minutes drive from the Twelve Apostles was named after the clipper ship Loch Ard, which sank on nearby Muttonbird Island in 1878 at the end of a three-month journey from England to Melbourne. Of the 51 people aboard, only two survived — Tom Pearce, the ship’s apprentice — was washed ashore and managed to rescue a 19-year-old girl called Eva Carmichael. Unlike most rescue love stories, the couple didn’t fall in love nor did it marry. Their story wouldn’t have made a Bollywood blockbuster, I guess. With night closing in, we parked ourselves at Warrnambool, a city that lies amidst green countryside and overlooks

the deep blue of the Southern Ocean. At Warrnambool, the tales of shipwreck came alive as we caught the stunning sound and laser show about the Loch Ard crash and its two survivors. The Flagstaff Hill has a recreated an entire coastal village belonging to the early nineteenth century. We walked the cobbled streets of the recreated village with lanterns in our hands through the stables, inns, stores and pubs as they were during the 1850s. This was the last night of our journey, which was inching towards an end. As I went to bed that night, I realised that the seven days had flown swiftly and there were so many stories I still hadn’t heard. Another time, maybe! (PHOTOS BY TANUSHREE PODDER)

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stack which took the form of a double-span bridge by a gradual process of erosion. Interestingly, a part of the London Bridge collapsed suddenly on January 15, 1990, leaving two people stranded on the outer part who had to be rescued by a helicopter. An exciting tale about the mishap came from my guide. It is said that the stranded couple was on a clandestine rendezvous when the bridge broke away. The story of their rescue along with their photographs was pasted on the cover pages of all newspapers, the next morning. What happened to their respective marriages is another story. We were now in the zone known as Victoria’s Shipwreck Coast. About a hundred ships lying in their watery graves are


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Born and brought up in of Lucknow, Major Varun Bajpai found his calling in the Indian Army. After serving in counter insurgency areas of J&K and North East over the years he is currently posted in Lucknow. He is a gifted photographer and has to his credit a collection of over 2000 nature/ abstract shots taken during his postings. When did you decide to take up photography as a serious hobby? It was something I always enjoyed. I did a lot of photography as a student too. After I joined the armed forces, I was posted to places with breathtaking sĂŠance beauty in the North East and J&K. I initially clicked pictures only because I was surrounded by so much of beauty. But after I won a photography competition in the armed forces, I decided to invest in a good camera and took it as a serious hobby.

ON THE TRIP TO HEAVEN: A VILLAGER WALKING WITH HIS PONIES CARRYING ESSENTIAL COMMODITIES TO A REMOTE VILLAGE IN NAGALAND

JULY 2010 TRAVELX

Your favourite photography story? I was posted in a heavy insurgency area in north Kashmir (name withheld due to security reasons). We had a tough situation one evening with some forced intrusion. We had to actually fight it out one evening and lot of civilians panicked in the operation. To bring the comfort back, we organised a small sweet distribution event two days later in the village. I had my camera with me even then. It took some time for the little panicked people to come out but once they did, they really got over all their inhibitions. It turned out to be very warm and comforting. Who are your favourite photographers? I am completely in awe of the striking brilliance of photojournalism. This makes Henri Cartier — Bresson and our own Raghu Rai top of the list for me. But I am more into travel photography so the likes of Tom Carter, Hans Hendriksen and my own senior in school and now photography mentor, Ravi Kapoor, inspire me. WEAVING A DREAM: KAREN PADUNG OR LONG NECK KAREN AT MIZORAM


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SPIRITUAL SOJOURN AND POWER OF FAITH: LONELY SADHU AT UTTARANCHAL

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INDIAN NATIONAL FLAG: OUR PROUD OBJECT TRICOLOUR ON ONE OF THE FORWARD POST OF INDIAN ARMY IN JAMMU & KASHMIR

SECULAR AND PEACEFUL CO-EXISTENCE: AN INDIAN ARMY POST AT THE NORTHERN PART OF JAMMU & KASHMIR


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SEA OF CLOUDS: WHERE HEAVENS MEET THE EARTH AT URI IN THE NORTHERN PART OF JAMMU & KASHMIR

PICNIC: THE ITINERARY OF SURVIVAL AT GUREZ VALLEY IN JAMMU & KASHMIR


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STRIKING: NANGA PARWAT DURING LIGHTNING AT THE NORTHERN PART OF JAMMU & KASHMIR

MOUNT IN SNOW: FUNCTION ABILITY UNDER TOUGHEST CONDITIONS AT THE GUREZ SECTOR IN JAMMU & KASHMIR

TREADING ALONG; A 2.5 TON ARMY VEHICLE UNDER OVER NIGHT SNOW

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INNOCENCE: AN UNDETERRED BEAUTIFUL GIRL AT SRINAGAR


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COMPASS

Sinful indulgence

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Diamonds and chocolates are a woman's best friends, and when a woman hears that there are plenty of those in the cities of Brugge and Antwerp (Belgium), she knows where she is heading next!

THE CITY OF ANTWERP HOUSES MUCH MORE THAN DIAMONDS


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63 RUPALI DEAN rugge and Antwerp are not just about diamonds and chocolates, was probably one of the first things I discovered as I landed there. Both cities are rich with their historic past, world-famous panoramic views, centuries old squares invigorated by contemporary constructions and a lot of gastronomy! Your first impression of Brugge will be confirmed by climbing the 366 step clock tower, Belford, for a view over the town. Further confirmation that Brugge truly is a special place will be a canal tour with a very informative guide for just 7 Euros — a must do! Brugge is a beautiful, romantic little medieval town, which could possibly be described as a mix between Amsterdam and Venice, with many waterways and stone bridges and swans swimming through all the canals and horses with carriages trotting down the streets. To get to Brugge, one has to first get to the Brussels Airport, with the station nestled just two levels below. From there on, it is an hour north of Brussels by train. For those yearning for some culture, one can visit the “Onze Likeve Vrouekerk”, which houses the remarkable art treasure, “Michelangelo's Madonna and Child”, a small marble statue from 1504 and one of the few works of Michelangelo outside Italy. The inner city is basically a little island with a moat surrounding the city. Chocolate and lace shops line the cobblestone streets, while tourists hop around the town by bike, foot, horse drawn buggy or boat along the canals. Done with the culture bit, I finally found some Belgium waffles and they were everything that I expected and maybe a little more. I tried a chocolate vanilla one — decadent to the core. It may have tasted better just because of the fact that I was in Belgium when I ate it, but it was possibly the best waffle I had ever had. I also visited the “fret museum” where I learnt that the Belgium actually introduced “French fries” and not the French. Every restaurant sells fries as a separate menu item.

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(PHOTOS BY RUPALI DEAN)

MUST VISIT/ MUST DO RUBEN’S HOUSE IN ANTWERP Timings — 10am to 5pm. Open on all days except Monday. Entry Fee — Euro 1 (below 25) and Euro 6 (above 25 years of age). LOVE BRUGGE CITY CARD One can buy it online on www.bruggecitycard.be , at the information offices or at the railway station and at the Concertgebouw. BELGIAN FRIES MUSEUM IN BRUGGE Timings — 10am to 5pm on all days. Free if you are carrying the city card else Euro 6 for age 12 upwards and between Euro 1 to 5 for other age groups. SHOPPING IN MIER AT ANTWERP Most renowned pedestrian shopping street in Antwerp and its renovated historically valuable architecture is home to the luxurious international clothing and leather brands. THE FLEMISH PRIMITIVES: WORLD FAMOUS ART FROM BRUGGE The Brugge museum houses the world-famous and unique pictures by the Flemish Primitives. BELGIAN WAFFLES Fresh waffles, dipped in a sugary goodness, topped with a variation of melted chocolate, fruit, ice cream, whip cream, and sprinkles…. a must try!

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And they prefer to serve them with mayonnaise, not ketchup! Again, a must try! Also, the place is a true beer capital, when it comes to brewing. Belgium still has 600 actives breweries that operate like micro breweries with many following strict quality standards and consistently winning taste test awards throughout the world. I had beers here that were nothing like anything I had tried before. Next morning, we hopped back on the train and headed to the city of Antwerp (literal translation is hand throw), after all I had not even started looking for my diamond yet. For those who do not know, Antwerp is the diamond capital of the world. A fairly large city, around 500,000 inhabitants and is the second largest city in the country. We had to walk about a mile to our hotel from the train station and seriously we passed about 20 diamond jewellery shops, all right next to each other, on our way! A lovely city with a mixture of new and old, modern and historic buildings, Antwerp’s main attraction is walking along the river, which everyone does. Tourist places are the Rockox house and the town market square with the Town Hall and a fountain depicting the hero of the city. A great idea is to also visit the Grote Market, a tribute to the Golden Age, a typical Frankish shape; it is dominated by the city hall, the guild halls and also by the Brabo fountain. And of course the Town Hall, surrounded by nicely decorated buildings. From here one can also see the top of the cathedral. For those in between hunger pangs do stop by for Belgian fries — yes, they are delicious. Another must visit is Plantin-Moretus Museum, the current printing museum and was the first printing warehouse in Belgium. This place was not destroyed in any civil or world wars so it is practically in the same condition as when it was used hundreds of years ago. All of the original presses still exist with the original stamps. One of the highlights of the trip can be a visit to “Kulminator”, a Belgian beer bar that specialises in vintage beers. I am sure you have heard of vintage wine, but this one offers vintage beer. The bar is replete with a full cooling room to keep the vintage beer at just the right temp.


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Insuring the

The number of people travelling abroad is on a high. So are the undesirable things — terrorism, flight crashes, accidents, natural calamities… But one cannot put a stop to travel. So, get prepared to meet any eventuality by buying travel insurance and leave your worries behind… JASLEEN KAUR henever holidays are around the corner, most families find themselves surfing the internet, reading books, planning trips… Lots of scheduling, date selection, destinations, accommodations, food, sightseeing and safety — keep you engaged until you finally kick off your vacation. And while you are planning for good times ahead, it would be wise to plan for adversaries as well, as the chances of one arising completely out of the blue cannot be ruled out, no matter how good we plan. What if an illness or an accident comes your way? What will happen if you lose you luggage in a foreign land? Instead of fretting on what to do on it, isn’t it best if you cover such unforeseen circumstances under the secure umbrella of travel insurance?

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A common (well, almost a must) phenomenon in the western world, people in India too are slowly waking up to the importance of travel insurance, but are still quite ignorant about its various facets. Travel insurance, acts as a risk-bearer of any tour itinerary, making sure that you are properly compensated for any tangible as well as intangible loses, you might come across in a holiday — be it for leisure or business travel abroad, domestic travel, or studying aboard. And for those who need a crash course on the subject, well, here we go! There are basically three kinds of travel insurance:

TRAVELLING OVERSEAS

If you are planning a holiday or travelling abroad for business purpose, standard travel insurance, which covers health and flight inconvenience, would do. It offers health cum personal accident policy and pre-

defined compensation against trip delays, cancellations, baggage loss and loss of passport. It also gives you third-party covers (a cover purchased by an insured (the first party) from an insurer (the second party) for protection against the claims of another (the third) party). These covers are available for tenures of one month to a year and can be taken as single trip or annual multitrip covers.

DOMESTIC TRAVELLING

Travel insurance for domestic travel are for shorter durations, ranging from a day to three months. Domestically, travel insurance policies are not essential if you already have health insurance and personal accident policies. These can also be arranged at the time of booking a trip.

STUDYING ABROAD

A student can take insurance in India or


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CHECK LIST

good times

HEALTH COVER

Health cover is part of a normal travel insurance and involves certain nittygritties that one must be aware of. Under the health cover, remember that inclusion

of a pre-existing disease is negotiable. For instance, some consider pre-existing disease on account of which there has been no hospitalisation for the last five years or some consider the medical cost of pre-existing diseases under ‘emergency and travel threatening conditions’. For the second option, nature of the disease is determined thereby examining the medical reports. It will not cover you if you are going for treatment aboard, or are going without the consent of doctor. But if you have been treated for a disease for which you were covered (pre-existing diseases which are already insured) in India, it will be seen as unexpected relapse and be covered.

COST FACTOR

The cost of travel insurance depends upon a number of factors — age, duration of the trip, the country you plan to visit and the

Following costs are paid or reimbursed to the insured, if one faces any undesirable thing: I Medical aid prescribed by a physician as necessary part of the treatment I Cost of transportation I Additional costs of accompanying person(s), if it is medically necessary I In the event of the death of the insured, the company shall compensate for the costs of transporting the remains of the deceased insured back to India I In the event of hospitalisation of the insured for more than two consecutive days due to illness or an injury sustained or contracted whilst on a trip abroad, a daily allowance will be reimbursed to the insured. The maximum benefit payable under this cover is $25 per day for a maximum of five consecutive days. I The insurance company shall compensate the insured for the loss of checked-in baggage . The payment for this benefit will be limited to the travel destinations specified in the travel ticket from India and return trip. In case of more than one bag has been checked-in, the amount payable is 50 per cent of the applicable sum insured, while in case of only one bag, the amount payable is 100 per cent. I In the event that the passport belonging to the insured is lost, the company will reimburse the insured for actual expenses necessarily and reasonably incurred in connection with obtaining a duplicate or fresh passport.

benefits included in the plan (see box). Typically, travel insurance for the duration of the journey costs 5-7 per cent of the cost of the trip. Covers that come with add-ons are usually more expensive. Premiums would also depend on pay per day basis.

TIME FACTOR

Along with cost, time factor should be considered. To give you an idea, travel insurance of ICICI Lombard for an individual is available for a minimum of seven days and goes up to 180 days. It can be extended for another 180 days depending on claims filed by a traveller in the original policy period. Last but not the least, remember, your packing is incomplete without a travel insurance. Because travel is something that involves pleasure as well as dangers… So, cover your dangers and enjoy the pleasure.

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avail the cover given by the university he enrols in. In addition to the features covered under a standard travel insurance, a studentspecific cover includes add-ons such as the study interruption cover that pays for your advance tuition fees in case your studies get interrupted due to a medical emergency. For students, buying a travel insurance plan in India works out a lot cheaper than the one offered by the respective university. Another advantage of buying the insurance in India is that the policy will cover you from the minute you check-in and board the flight, while a foreign insurance policy would cover you once you have registered in a university.

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EXOTIC EXCESS

Spirituality, luxury and Mayfair

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Gangtok is perhaps one of the most fanciful hill stations and a visit to the region is sure to conjure up pleasant memories. Thus, when an invitation from a leading group to cover its hotel in that alluring hill resort came by, I readily succumbed to it.

THE MAIN ENTRANCE TO THE RESORT SPA IS SIGNATURE SIKKIM — BRIGHT COLOURS, DRAGON DESIGNS


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(CLOCKWISE) THE SPACIOUS ROOMS AT MAYFAIR PROVIDE COMFORTABLE STAY WHERE YOU CAN FEEL THE CLOUDS AT YOUR FINGERTIPS; A PLACE OF WORSHIP ON THE PREMISES WHERE PLENTY OF PEACE AND SOLITUDE EXIST TO IMBIBE; AND, A PRIVATE POOL AT THE DECK IS THE ULTIMATE PAMPER POINT

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honeymooners and families who wish to be in the world of their own. Most of the rooms have sundeck, plunge pool and a plethora of similar luxuries. Royal colonial furniture, finest upholstery, inclined ceilings with exposed wooden rafters, and mammoth bathrooms make these rooms the most prized in the entire resort. There is a blend of Hinduism and Buddhism in this resort. The USP of Mayfair group is that wherever the group creates a resort, it includes the local culture. Another attraction that makes you spell-bound is the exemplary art. The bight red murals by the pool, the protecting dragons, the eight lucky stars, the reclining Buddha and his disciples and other paintings will captivate any visitor. Modernity is imbued with tradition and culture. The resort also boasts of a spa in collaboration with Pevonia, a US-based elite spa care line offering body treatments. As for wining and dining, the options here are aplenty. At Orchard, apart from the casual buffet, savour the a la carte food along with Mayfair’s signature preparations and you will surely fall in love with it. Magnolia serves the Asian and local cuisine, while Rumtek Lounge offers great views and is perfect for snacks, breakfast and sandwiches. Tongba, named after a local beer, serves exotic cocktails. Last, but definitely not the least, Jungle Cafe is a perfect Coffee Shop. The resort offers a host of activities for all ages. From zoo activities to trekking or just walking, you name it and Mayfair has it! (PHOTOS BY BRINDA GANESAN)

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fter an excellent drive along the banks of the gurgling Teesta (about two hours from airport) we reached the hotel, the destination for which I had travelled all the way from Kerala and just the sight of which was enough to drain me of my fatigue. The signboard ‘MAYFAIR RESORT AND SPA’, from the outside of the condominium, could be easily mistaken for a flamboyant monastery. The portal has an arch in the monastic style and on entry, there stands an imposing Buddha statue. After a warm welcome by Binod Baral, the Resort Manager, who readily informed me about the three ‘Ws’ that Gangtok is famous for (Weather — always pleasant, Women — pretty as a daisy and Wine — flows freely ), I was ushered into my room. Heritage Villa, the main block of the property, is in close proximity to all the services and the central courtyard. Formerly the residence of ex- chief minister of Sikkim, the structure has undergone many alterations to enhance the character of the building. The rooms vary in size and I am allotted a deluxe room. Almost all the rooms have piazzas, offering a view of the famous Rumtek Monastery that overlooks the resort (But in my view a telescope is needed). The bathroom is relatively big in size with all the state-of-the-art facilities. The decor is very much Victorian in style having a distinct classic contemporary touch, thanks to the paintings that are on the lines of spirituality. The building also has a rich

collection of antiques and old photos. A walk in the crisp air was high on my agenda. As I stepped out of my room to wander through the property, a young executive from the hotel joined me for company. Upon reaching the patio, aroma, certainly from the incense, filled the air, soon followed by the chanting of Vedic hymns and ting-a-ling of a bell. Bjorn, the executive, informed that the same emanates from the Shiv Temple. Incidentally, the Shivling at this temple in Gangtok is a replica of the one at Pashupatinath Temple in Nepal. Daily poojas are performed by dedicated pundits. Besides, there is a temple for Sirdi Sai Baba and Nag (Snake). In short, a sense of spirituality pervades throughout the resort. Done with the spiritual fill, we proceed to tour the other parts of the hotel. The property is spread over 48 acres, of which, 15 acres are the built up area, comprising a total of 65 rooms. Since Mayfair is known for its laterally spread design, the structure rises only upto three storeys. The resort is also nature friendly keeping in tune with its tag — “Stay with us, stay with nature”. The rooms at Mayfair Resort and Spa are divided into various categories. The Bamboo Villa has rooms with bamboo groves as the backdrop where the rustling of bamboo leaves enchants the guest. In the Forest Villa, you wake up to the twitter of birds rather than the sound of an alarm clock or honking of cars. Fern Villas offer fabulous views of the valley draped in green. There are also suites and premium villas (with a minimum area of 1000 sq ft) for


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FOODICTION

Butterlicioussss

The Punjabis are extravagant in almost all things connected to them, and when it comes to food, this sure is true. While flamboyant Punjabi weddings and the one leg bhangra is famous worldwide, the one thing without which any joyous occasion is incomplete is the Punjabi tadka — the butterlicious food!

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to forget all the fine-dine manners and so did we, but the experience was totally relished. Also worth trying at Mashaal is Amritsari chicken tawa tikka (Rs 180), a chef specialty with tender chicken cooked on a tawa. When you are up for a full-of-crèmebutter-and-ghee meal, you definitely cannot rush through the courses. Thus, while we were slowly enjoying the food, nibbling on the starters and making ourselves comfortable on the low seating, the warm ambience of Mashaal struck us. Designed by Rashmi Gupta of RG @ Associates, the décor is predominantly brown and crème, with some doses of colour. What you cannot miss at the restaurant are the hand painted tables on the ‘terrace’, the colourful mural wall in the corner and the Warli art at the

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anking upon exactly this, is Mashaal, the brand new multicuisine restaurant (that specialises in Punjabi food) in Navi Mumbai with a rooftop dhaba — yes you read it right, the restaurant offers a dhaba setting on the rooftop of a mall with cosy low seating, dim lighting, bamboo walls and chattai partitions. The terrace, as the owner Nidhi Anand calls it, is “one-of-its-kind in Navi Mumbai and is a great attraction for those looking at spending a romantic time with their loved ones under the starlit sky”. When we visited Mashaal, the warm (Punjabi) owner welcomed me personally and asked me where we would like to dine — in the fine dine area, or the out-

door dhaba area. The choice wasn’t really tough, because it was more between loud DJ music and a romantic dining setting outside, and we opted for the no AC, no mosquitoes (thankfully!) outdoors. Everything was new, and smelled so, but it was the enthusiasm of the staff that really got us excited to experiment. The experiment began with their special Amritsari lassi. Now if you have been to Amritsar, or to any of the highway dhabas in Punjab, you would know what I am talking about. With thick malai floating on top, the sweet curd-based popular drink of the north is far better than the cocktails on the menu and goes very well with the you-can-never-go-wrong-with tandoori chicken. Digging into a tandoori chicken (Rs 160 — half) with lemon squeezed on it and green pudine ki chutney, one tends

NOT ONLY PUNJABI DHABA AMBIENCE, BUT MASHAAL ALSO BOASTS OF TRUE PUNJABI FLAVOURS

YOU CAN OCCUPY THE INDIAN BAITHAK-STYLED SEATING AND ENJOY THE FRESH AIR


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PUNJABI DHABA INSPIRED SEATING ARRANGEMENT ON THE OPEN AIR ROOFTOP

entrance. “We especially had artists from Aasta Couture, a venture by Shweta Rohira, to come down and do the paintings at the restaurant,” says Anand. Though the décor is a criminal fusion of design elements borrowed from Balinese, Punjabi and contemporary schools of thought, the overall look is welcoming. If you further want to kill some time, you can shake a leg on the dance floor indoors or if you are as lucky as me, see your food being cooked and have a small chat with the chef. He promises to give us the best dining experience, and truly does his best not to disappoint us. Dishes after dishes flow in, and with our folks and spoons ready (which we ultimately had to abandon, because hell,

Though Mashaal is known for Indian - Punjabi food, the place doesn't disappoint with international cuisine either.

this is Indian food, and you got to have it with your hands to actually enjoy it!), we dig in to our gosht chop masala (Rs 260), baluchi malai kofta (Rs 170), and peshawari chhole (Rs 130) made with freshly grounded spices. Though Mashaal is known for Indian Punjabi food, the place doesn’t disappoint with international cuisine either. Its pasta is cheesy and wellflavoured and is served steaming hot. Having had enough to last us the night, we almost chickened out when it came to dessert, but no one can say no to phirni (Rs 60), especially this one which is full of dry fruits. Take my advice, if you decide to have dinner at Mashaal, skip your lunch! (PHOTOS BY S ARORA)

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A MODERN RESTRO BAR WITH RUSTIC TOUCH — WARLI PAINTINGS ON WALLS AND LAMPSHADES

WITH LOADS OF YUMMY FOOD, YOU CAN SHAKE A LEG TO PUNJABI MUSIC


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BOOKS

Coast to Coast

FOLLOWING FISH Travels Around the Indian Coast By: Samanth Subramanian Published by: Penguin Books Pp: 167; Price: Rs 250

SURESH KOHLI his fishing expedition is neither chronological nor regimented by any geographical considerations, and has all the elements of insightful reporting with a flair for language. Samanth Subramanian was born and brought up in Indonesia from where he travelled westward, to the US, to obtain degree in journalism and international relations before returning to India to pursue a writing career. Following Fish is his maiden attempt at serious authorship. Strangely, this coast to coast journey starts not from Tamil Nadu, but from Kolkata, and ends in Gujarat. Subramanian likes to define it not as “how-to-travel-book but a travelogue - a record of my journeys, my experiences and observations, my conversations with people I met, and my investigations into subjects that I happened to find incredibly fascinating.” Travelling by auto-rickshaws, buses, taxis, cars, motorbikes, bikes, boats and aeroplanes, Subramanian occasionally tends to be carried away at times by misdirected dictates of an otherwise rational mind. There is a claimer in the brief Introduction as well: “Depending on how you look at it, this makes me either the least ideal or the most ideal person to write about fish.” And there is a reason for it too. And that is because “a whole, steamed fish, coloured such a wretched gray that

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reminded me instantly of death” was served to him at a dinner table that was good enough “to put him off fish for the next decade,” and still not fully reconciled to its ‘taste’ that’s “most temperamental to our senses.” Divided into nine chapters of varied lengths and experiences, it begins with Kolkata, the Bengali obsession with hilsa fish, and the difference in taste between the fatter and oilier obtained from Padma flowing in from Bangladesh, and the smaller and thinner caught from ‘silting’ and ‘polluted’ Ganga. The next stop is Hyderabad, and the treatment of asthma practiced by the long lineage of Bathini Goud family through live two-inch long murrel fish. Suspended between truth and blindfaith, and “anything is possible” in the medicinal use of murrel fish, Subramanian shifts his gaze to “Manapadu’s perfect natural harbour, a long sandy crescent of coast” in Tamil Nadu - “cuisine remained as untouched as its religion stood transformed,” and the mouth-watering mackerel dried podi fish that’s not to be found “in Andhra Pradesh or Kerala or anywhere else…ideal for fishing families.” “In Kerala, where toddy is as much of a state passion as football or Communism,” the descriptions about the cooked karimeen fish and mundhiri kallu lingers in the mouth even after one has moved onto Mangalore “seeing the life of the town unfold…(and) suddenly, like a flash of benediction, a view of the open sea,” and taste of

THE MARUTI STORY: How a Public Sector Put India on Wheels By: R. C. Bhargava Seetha Published by: HarperCollins India Pp: 408; Price: Rs 499 he story of Maruti is inextricably linked with the emergence of India's manufacturing and industrial capabilities. R C Bhargava provides an extraordinary and rare insight into how a few determined entrepreneurs created an icon, navigating through the complex interplay of political ideology, bureaucratic influence, access to technology and entrepreneurial persistence. This well-documented insider's account is a must read for those who want to understand the process of India's industrial development.' Bhargava, an exceptional thought leader, administrator and manager — who has been with Maruti from its start and is now its chairman — has put together the Maruti story, which needs to be read by everyone interested in industrial development in India

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seductive rawa fry ‘more often than not a ladyfish, or kane, coated, coasted with a patina of spice and a sheath of grainy semolina, and then fried into a golden-brown, crunchy segment of heaven.” This notwithstanding the home made mackerel. Subramanian’s next stop is Xanadu, somewhere between Mumbai and Goa, hunting waters of the spectacular sailfish (anywhere between seven to eight feet and fifty kilograms in weight, its bill like a razor, and three-and-a-half metres long a hundred kilograms) which spectacularly changes “colour in an instant, going from its usual dull gray to a regal mix of shimmering silver, blue, purple and gold.” Goa, where fishing is a ‘subsistence profession as well as a flourishing local industry” is the next halt, and deals with the place rather than any kind of fish. After Goa, it is Mumbai where Subramanian lands, rekindling the tastes. Mumbai, from where ‘octopus’ is “exported to China”, and tuna tinned right in the heart of the city will carry “Made in Japan” label. Ordering a meal

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he realized that it was “a thick fish soup, flaoured heartily with mackerel, smooth with coconut, yellow with turmeric, tart with kokum, and finished with a flourish of tempered mustard seeds.” He also ate “plates and plates of thin, fried bombil, or Bombay Duck; of chewy, salty more, or baby shark; of mackerel fried, stuffed, curried or, one deeply unfortunate time, just boiled; of shrimp prepared in a manner that would simply be described as ‘masala’.” The earlier spicy eventful fishtasting culminates with a somewhat stale taste in Mangrol and Veraval towns of Gujarat, and the narrative is more about the large wooden boatbuilding trade, over 16,000 registered in the two towns; 1,200 fibreglass craft to 3,750 in Veraval alone. On the whole, while tasting fish had been one of the motivating factors for the notso-smooth journey of discovery, the book abounds in lesser known both historical and elemental facts about different states - outlining both complexities and beliefs, rituals and customs. Eminently readable.

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eela was married, the mother of twins and divorced before she was 20. Later, she was Dom Moraes’s muse, his unpaid secretary and his best friend. Through this time she also edited magazines and dubbed Hong Kong action movies, was Kumar Shahani’s first producer, and when JRD Tata wanted a film on how to use the washroom on a plane, she made it for him. ‘A Patchwork Life’ is a memoir that is charming, idiosyncratic and a window into Leela’s world. Everyone who met her had a Leela Naidu story to tell. This book presents her version of her world.

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DHANANJAY S SALIANKAR

Regional Director - Global Sales India, Bangladesh & Maldives Starwood Hotels and Resorts YOUR RECENT TRIP WAS…? My recent trip was from Delhi to Singapore.

YOUR PERSONAL FAVOURITE AIRLINE? Jet Airways

BUSINESS TOUR OR A PLEASURE TRIP? Business. I went to Singapore to attend an award function.

ONE AIRPORT EXPERIENCE THAT YOU WILL NEVER FORGET…? Last month I had been to US and on my way from Orlando to New York, I missed my flight due to a long queue for security. Though I was not worried, I was concerned what to do next as this was the last flight and I had scheduled meetings in New York the next day morning onwards. The next flight was the following day afternoon. American Airlines staff at the airport was kind enough to reroute my ticket via Miami and soon I was on a plane to Miami. The good side was that I got a chance to stay one night in Miami, which was unplanned. I had always heard great things on Miami and wanted to go, but never thought it would happen on this trip….. I plan to visit next time for a longer period.

YOUR TRAVELLING ESSENTIALS INCLUDE…? My blackberry, laptop, a business attire and a good pair of shoes. YOUR FAVOURITE AIRPORT IS…? Bangkok Airport WHY BANGKOK AIRPORT…? The airport has a wide area and yet it is easy to get in and out of it. I must say, the number of shops and duty free outlets here leaves one wondering if he is in an airport or a mall! The airport has great shopping options.

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YOU PREFER FLYING BUSINESS OR ECONOMY? Usually Business, unless it's a flight which is less than four hours. YOUR FAVOURITE DUTY FREE? WHY? It depends upon the buy. But duty free shopping at Changi in Singapore is a zephyr. There is no need to tax the wallets paying those extra dollars which count as duty towards imported goods. With a diverse range, one can be assured of great deals!


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