Spring 2005 Issue #9 £3.50
Asian Dub Foundation
DAVOS, ANYONE? The playground of the rich and powerful
Stormin’ the streets with Tank
by Parag Khanna
TERRORIST TV What’s Channel 4 done now? by Anila Baig
FOR GOD’S SAKE The black and white of Britain’s new religion laws by Lisa Appignanesi and Shakira Hussein
DestinAsia Rishikesh Respite and 24 Hour Delhi
Black on Brown Dennis Morris, the Southall Portfolio
Sophiya in the City
Swagatam... Welcome: Sanskrit
Another glorious spring is upon us and life resonates, oozing out of the vibrant hyacinths my son planted two years ago and which we all forgot about until they emerged and stretched their gorgeous pink limbs, raising their scent across the garden. There’s a twinkle in the eye of passers-by, casting a look heavenward, just to make sure the sky really is that watery pale blue. Light bounces off raindrops, like tears on window panes, sighing as the earth lets loose a ﬁnal shiver to bid farewell and lose her grey shroud of winter skies. Another mammoth effort in getting another fantastic issue of Another Generation magazine out, but well worth the soul-searching, sleepless nights and long hours bent over the keyboard. I’m proud to have Jessica Hines back on top form eighteen months after her fall from the pinnacles of Bollywood’s peaks (Switzerland of course) with an exclusive interview with Karan Johar. Exotic saloniste Palash Davé met Michael E Ward, the marketeer turned producer who brings MM Kaye’s The Far Pavilions to the West End this month. What better excuse for our sexy Sophiya Haque cover? I have to say she’s still as eccentric and beautiful as ever. Word is amongst the thespy set that Far Pavilions will launch our siren as a serious player, and if her voice is anything to go by (the way she belted it up to the Gods during an afternoon’s rehearsal) Sophiya’s well on her way to the great things she deserves. All the fuss that Behzti and Jerry Springer brought on has lead to the government proposing new laws to protect religious groups from hatred and acts of violence. But should we really need this in a so-called democracy, where freedom of speech and expression are tantamount to our sense of justice and enshrined in the unwritten Bill of Rights, which we assume is inviolable? Lisa Appignanesi and Shakira Hussein argue the pros and cons of a debate that started with a speech given by none other than the Messiah of Mongrelhood, Salman Rushdie.
COVER: Sophiya Haque CLOTHES: Spoylt London PHOTOGRAPH: Jamie Hughes HAIR AND MAKEUP: Naveeda FLOWERS: Amanda Austin Flowers All the content in this magazine is the property of Another Generation magazine. Do not copy, reproduce or store without our speciﬁc written permission. For syndication or to submit unsolicited work, please contact us on 020 7349 7557 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Asian Dub Foundation’s new album Tank has the whole town rolling and rocking on their revolutionary lyrics. Ambarina Hasan dressed them up in Zegna, Fake London and other designer togs and changed their trademark street image for something a bit more city bling (well, for an afternoon anyway). Who said revolutionaries couldn’t have fun? We certainly are. Best
Farah Damji Editor
ag_credits ISSUE 9 SPRING 2005 Editor Farah Damji email@example.com Managing Editor Sarah Brompton, Jessica Hines Fashion and Beauty Ambarina Hasan Film Cary Rajinder Sawhney Music Pathaan Design and Layout Peter Beatty, David Wenk Advertising firstname.lastname@example.org Assistant Editors Charisse Kenion, Laura Weir Sub Editor Nicholas Mayes Correspondents Afghanistan Tom Coghlan India Swapan Das Gupta US Parag Khanna
56 THE ART OF SOUZA NUDE
Contributors Art Robin Dean, Peter De Nagy Culture Sarah Bassey, Palash DavĂŠ, Jessica Hines, Rajeev Sethi Food Manju Mali Health Simon Brookes Issues Imran Khan Media Anila Baig, Bobby Syed Music Nitin Sawhney, Ammo Talwar Photographs Jamie Hughes, Paul Mattsson, Bandeep Singh Religion Sir Gulam Noon Travel Pico Iyer, Neave Barker Printed by Gemini Press
Another Generation Magazine is published by Another Generation Media Ltd 52 Turnmill St London EC1M 5QR T 020 7349 7557 www.anothergeneration-mag.com email@example.com
Anila Baig, 35, started her career in journalism at the Bradford Telegraph
& Argus as a trainee reporter. She then moved to the Yorkshire Post as a district news reporter and began a weekly column. She won the Press Gazette Regional Columnist of the Year Award 2004 for her take on life, with judges praising her “star quality” and her “tough, uncompromising approach as a Muslim single mother.” She joined the Sun soon after. She lives in Bradford with her nine-year-old son Haris.
Ammo Talwar is the director and founder of Punch Records. His experience within the music sector spans 15 years. He launched the Midlands’ only dedicated multi-disciplinary hip-hop store in 1996. His reputation has led Punch to grow within both sectors – commercial and voluntary – the record store acting as a conduit into the mainstream, and the arts organisation underpinning the cultural, educational signiﬁcance of music. He was a consultant for Urban Music Seminar and Acfest during the late ‘90s and has been instrumental in developing a stronger regional infrastructure for urban artists.
Two years ago Jessica Hines was the news. Now she’s writing it. Responsible for bringing Bollywood to Vanity Fair and Selfridges, she has lived in Cornwall and Canada, where she became a clown. She went to SOAS and entered into the new religious movement known as Bollywood. There she found the True Path to Glory and Righteousness. She left the cult when one of its leaders left her up the duff. She lives in London with her gorgeous boy-child, Jaan. She is currently ﬁnishing a book about writing a book about Amitabh Bachchan, all round good egg and snappy dresser.
Palash Davé is a writer and ﬁlm-maker. Having shot documentaries on Christopher Hitchens, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Guantanamo and Slavoj Zizek, he is currently writing a book, Michael Moore and the Mediocracy, for Simon and Schuster. He’s also a some time singer and actor, and his booby prize for narrowly missing the role of chief baddie in the new Far Pavilions musical was to interview its producer, Michael E Ward, for this issue. Somehow this tireless creature of the night also ﬁnds time to run a string of salons and fringe festivals, and will host an AG event at his brainy / hip Whitney Revels at the Hay Festival this June.
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COVER STORIES 20
Stormin’ the streets with Tank
About to embark on their European tour, Asian Dub Foundation’s use of ragga-jungle rhythms and searing sitar still pulls in the punters. Ambarina Hasan speaks to the politically ‘right on’ collective about opera, civil rights and their new album Tank.
Davos, anyone? The global élite converge for media coverage en piste once a year in Davos to address fundamental global issues. Minus their spin doctors and power suits, they don their hiking boots and unfurl their ties to get down to the business of serious power. Are the inﬂuential ﬁnally doing something right? Parag Khanna with the view from the snow-capped peaks.
36 Go home Paki TV Channel 4 is launching a new series about Muslims for Muslims. Anita Baig talks to producer Richard Brock about Shariah TV. 42 The new Religion Laws Weapons of Censorship or the Right to Blasphemy? Shakira Hussein and Lisa Appignanesi on the proposed British law against hatred on religious grounds. 87
The Great Game, now and then
Palash Davé meets Michael E Ward, the director of the musical adaptation of The Far Pavilions, on how nothing really changes and everything stays the same. Pictures: Jamie Hughes.
Great British institutions
Liberty, truth and a chat with Shami Chakrabarti.
84 Fareed Zakaria’s name is being bandied about the highest circles of the US government. We meet the International Editor of Newsweek and ﬁnd out more about him, how he’s made his way to the top and how he could be the ﬁrst Muslim US Secretary of State. ART AND CULTURE 74
Warm brown eyes, layers of cashmere and a self-deprecating disposition…who’s Jessica Hines crushing on now? Another Bollywood babu? Meet the face of New Bollywood, Karan Johar.
54 Sneaker freaks Air Force vs. Air Flight, high tops vs. low tops, they are to guys what stilettos are to girls. A look inside the mind of trainer collectors. 94
West Indian photographer Dennis Morris captured more than
the Sex Pistols and life on the road with Bob Marley. His Southall pictures leave his legacy on an important period in Britain’s social history. Farah Damji revisits Southall, a Home from Home.
117 Get your jatkas and your matkas oiled up and read about the rapidly moving Indian contemporary dance scene in the UK, by Sarah Bassey. TRAVEL
24-hour Delhi Neave Barker on a city where culture and chaos coincide.
Who said you can never go back? Cary Rajinder
Sawhney re-visits Rishikesh to seek out the Ashram and encounters peace and yoga freaks.
MONEY AND INVESTMENTS
Palash Davé test drives the new Vauxhall Astra Sports, Laila Rouass’ new favourite car. What’s she been up to in the back seat then?
Going Going Gone Why is Indian art making such a spectacle at the international auction houses and who’s buying it? An overview of the upcoming spring sales at Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Bonhams.
The Final Solution
NatWest’s answer to the EMMA awards. NatWest bank has dropped the EMMAs, and it’s not like they don’t have the money. Is ethnic sponsorship a dying cause célèbre? Farah Damji asks why NatWest no longer want to sponsor the most high-proﬁle celebration of the UK’s multicultural society.
106 Birmingham’s ﬁnest,
food and folk Charisse Kenion tails
DJ babe magnet Adil Ray to Itihaas and music pundit Ammo Talwar to Blue Mango. Was anything tasty besides the table-talk?
109 Multicultural Politics,
Racism, Ethnicity and Muslims in Britain explores the modern-day Muslim’s place in a secular British Society
112 Mistaken Identity or Sikhs in the City, a documentary by V Sarkar. - So Solid Crew’s Asher D makes his ﬁlm debut as Bullet Boy in this London-based tale of gun crime and estate life. - Andrew and Jeremy Get Married. Read about the ﬁrst ever documentary on homosexual marriage to receive theatrical release, the tale of two lovers from the opposite sides of the track.
116 Chicken Tikka Masala
- another Indobrit ﬂick about arranged marriage and irate Gujaratis?
120 Not afraid of his metro-hetro
personality crisis, Simon Brookes explores the beneﬁts of the new Time for Men range by Elemis.
122 Cocoa therapy
Charisse Kenion on the latest on the health and beauty scene, and chocolate for your face.
123 Is work driving you crazy? This may be the reason why.
124 Ammo Talwar on the Bhangra scene
- from Soho Road to the Punjab, it’s going global.
130 Resident DJ Pathaan and Swami Q&A.
The RAF has launched a limited edition trainer. Tested on a variety of surfaces so that they provide comfort on everything from grass to gravel, the Typhoon Cross Trainer could be the ﬁrst in a new wave of collectable military trainers. Taking its inspiration from the world’s most capable swing-role combat aircraft, this red, white and blue multi-purpose shoe boasts attitude, style and presence. With only 6 000 being released pick up your pair of TCTs before they ﬂy off the shelves. www.rafmuseum.org or call 01380 72 88 32
Who’s got time to snack when there’s so much to do and see? Spring is here and there are gadgets and gorgeous toys out there stacking the shelves. So grab a chai tea latte and a sandwich to go and browse our select best from the season’s must-have essentials. iPod Shufﬂe
No bigger than a packet of chewing gum, the latest release from Apple proves that good things really do come in small packages. Compatible with Mac and PC, the iPod Shufﬂe weighs as little as a car key and stores as many as 240 songs, serving them up in random orde every time. Create your own playlist and add a little musical spontaneity to your life. Drag and drop ﬁles from your desktop or plug it into your computer’s USB port to top up your musical selection. This cute little music station can also store other types of ﬁle, including Microsoft Word and Photoshop, depending on your memory capacity.
This phone / work of modern art is fashioned from a single piece of aluminium and comes in ﬁve different colours. For those with palatial pads it has a 50m indoor range, so no annoying crackles at the pinnacle moment of the phone call. With a reasonably hefty price tag this state of the art phone is designed for those who love to chat, with 18 hours of talk time and a phone memory that would rival the Yellow Pages. www.bang-olufsen.com £500
Looking for the perfect refreshment this summer? Our buddies from over the pond at The Brooklyn Brewery have just started delivering to the UK what is hailed as the “Best Craft Lager in America.” In the 1800s Brooklyn was one of the largest brewing centres in the country and this is their ﬂagship beer. With all French, German and Belgian competition will you be swigging on this champion amber lager? You can buy Brooklyn Lager online at www.brooklynbrewery.com at £1.39 a bottle.
Pecksniffâ€™s could show Britney, Celine Dion and J Lo a thing or two about creating a stylish, classic scent. The craze for cheap, celebrity personalised fragrances has such a bad smell. Why wear someone elseâ€™s scent when you could create your own tailormade, timeless fragrance? Pecksniffâ€™s, one of the last independent British fragrance houses, will create a scent that is unique to your mood and personality. Weaving natural botanicals made from pure ingredients and ďŹ ne fragrance oils sourced from all over the world to make a fragrance that is meant to suit you for a lifetime not just a season. www.pecksniffs.com ÂŁ150
Silversmith since 1830, ChristoďŹ‚e is a brand that whispers decadence. Their legacy has taken ChristoďŹ‚e through Orientalism and Art Deco and they have added their shiny touch to every movement since. The silver suppliers to Napoleon III, ChristoďŹ‚e have recently contemporised their brand and launched porcelain, crystal and tableware ranges alongside their more traditional sterling silver. The latest cocktail range boasts sterling silver straws, perfect for sexing up a mini bottle of Veuve Cliquot or for adding the ďŹ nishing touch to a summer picnic. Only available at Harrods, ÂŁ72 per pair.
Go retro metro with Missoniâ€™s new ranges of table and dinnerware. A choice of desirable patterns in a host of vibrant stripes, or for the tea purist in you, just black and white. Available at Harrodâ€™s.
Range Rover Sport
If you wanted a farm machine youâ€™d buy a tractor, and now Land Rover have cottoned on. This car is stylish, fast and sexy. With all the rugged charm that Land Rovers have always had, the new Range Rover Sport, with its 390horsepower engine, is a sturdy drive to say the least. The modernist-inspired interior and chunky ďŹ nish still makes it rubbernecking stylish. If your rambles take you up the Kings Road in designer wellies rather than through the muddy countryside in mouldy old green ones, then this is the sleek â€˜soft roaderâ€™ for you. www.landrover.co.uk from ÂŁ35 000
Chandok on the right track Karun Chandhok, India’s main contender for a Formula 1 racing spot, has edged one step closer to his dream. After achieving great success with driver Narain Karthikeyan, Italian team RC Motorsport has signed up Karun to take part in the 2005 World Series. RC Motorsport’s team boss Francesco Ravera is excited to be working with another Indian driver. “We are happy that we were able to give Narain his ﬁrst two wins after two years in the World Series, and we will try to do the same with Karun.” Despite receiving offers from Japan and America the Madras-born driver decided to stay with the Italian team after contesting the last four rounds of the 2004 World Series with them. With only a minimum amount of practice time Karun achieved a promising 4th place at the ﬁnal round of the series in Jerez. “I’m very happy to have ﬁnally signed with RC,” says an ecstatic Karun. “It’s a fantastic atmosphere within the team.” Many insiders say Karun is destined to follow in Narain’s footsteps, but for now this rising star carries India’s hopes with him, as he embarks on a tour that will span nine months and includes Belgium, Spain and Italy.
Arab? Who me? Not US Arab American advocacy groups say 3.5 million people of Arab ancestry live in the United States, disputing a recent detailed report from the US Census Bureau. In a report titled We the People of Arab Ancestry in the United States, the bureau said 1 189 731 Americans identiﬁed themselves as Arab living in the US. This ﬁgure accounts for 0.42% of the entire US population. Helen Samhan, Executive Director for the Arab American Institute (AAI), said her group had always disputed the numbers collected through the national census because “their approach does not capture all the numbers of our growing community”. She blames the methodology used by the census and the lingering fear among Arabs of being “listed” in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. AAI, quoting pollsters Zogby International, said there were approximately 3.5 million people of Arab ancestry living in the US. The ofﬁcial 2000 census form asked individuals to describe their ancestry or ethnic origin. It also asked that individuals check off which race they most identiﬁed with. Arab ethnicity is not listed as
Apr 30-May 1 May 21-May 22 Jun 4-Jun 5 Jul 9-Jul 10 Jul 16-Jul 17 Aug 6-Aug 7 Sep 10-Sep 11 Oct 1-Oct 2 Oct 22-Oct 23
Zolder Monaco (Formula 1 support race) Valencia Le Mans Bilbao (streets of the city) Oschersleben Donington Park Estoril Monza
Belgium Monte Carlo Spain France Spain Germany England Portugal Italy
a race in this section. Those of Arab ancestry are therefore required to check off “other” on the form and write out what race they most identiﬁed with. The discrepancy in ﬁndings may also be because many are not willing to ﬁll out a census form for fear they may be targeted as terrorism suspects because of their race, Arab American advocates say. In 2002, the US Census Bureau disclosed detailed information to the US Customs Service about the Arab American community, and in 2003 the same information was disclosed to the Department of Homeland Security and the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection. The American-Arab AntiDiscrimination Committee (ADC) are working closely with the census bureau to make sure their community is not undercounted. AAI stresses that the census helps in determining the allocation of funds to communities in need of it and determines the mapping of congressional districts that “ensure proper representation in Congress”. TWO YEARS AGO US-LED FORCES INVADED IRAQ. DO YOU THINK IT WAS JUSTIFIED? YES: 23% NO: 74% UNSURE: 3% Source: Al-Jazeera.net 16/03/05.
BOLLYWOOD WIVES Bollywood wives might soon take over from Footballers’ Wives in matters of the heart, the home and all things that go bump and grind in the night. For as long as we can remember, Bollywood wives in Mumbai’s steamy ﬁlm industry have been faithful, loving, persevering and tolerant to the point of insanity – but that’s all about to change. Sultry Bipasha Basu started it with her ﬁlm Jism, a story of a married woman who used her body to get a lover and then used the lover to kill her husband. Other sexed-siren ﬁlms which have ridden out the box ofﬁce recently include Page 3 , Murder, Paap and Girlfriend. They have attracted some of the biggest female stars vying for sensational parts that reﬂect contemporary society. The Sati Savitris of Bollywood have been replaced by sex sirens. This is a good thing, according to screen goddess Kareen Kapoor: “A wife can be unfaithful, a lover can be unfaithful, but not a mother.’’ But now, with more ﬁlms exploring highly charged and taboo subjects such as female inﬁdelity in Indian ﬁlms, there is a positive progression towards portraying woman as humans with foibles and vulnerabilities is a positive one. Enough of those stay-at-home wives who are always dabbing their eyes with their sari pathas – feminism is ﬁnally coming to Bollywood.
CRISIS OF CONFIDENCE Kick off the cobwebs in your life and jumpstart your way into a celebratory spring with some advice from a leading life coach. The research polled over four hundred people in the UK and USA and found that a lack of conﬁdence directly affects every part of our lives. According to Steve Errey, a UK based conﬁdence coach, when people have high levels of conﬁdence and self-esteem they feel ready to go for what they want in life, and are less prone to knockbacks or putting things off. Steve Errey’s top ﬁve tips for a strong and conﬁdent summer are:
1 Shut Your Gremlin Up 2 Live In Line with Your Values
3 Trust Yourself 4 Play to Your Strengths 5 Create Something Shiny…
THE ORIGINAL DIVA, DIANA ROSS, HEADLINES THE BLENHEIM PALACE MUSIC FESTIVAL ON JULY 1ST With more than three decades of foot-stomping hits in her repertoire, from Ain’t No Mountain High Enough to Do You Know Where You’re Going To?, there’s going to be something for all ages. She is described by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most successful female performer of all time. Blenheim Palace is the ancestral home of the Churchill family, as in Winston.
Blenheim Palace Music Festival, July 1st For tickets and more information see www.ticketline.co.uk.
A Patch of Blue tells the story of two strangers who meet and fall in love in the most unlikely circumstances. Selina, a blind white girl, knows nothing of the world except the impoverished life she shares with an abusive mother and a drunken grandfather. Gordon, a black man, tries to make his way in a world of prejudice and racism in ’60s America. Together they ﬁnd love and the desire for freedom. Not only does A Patch of Blue deal with racial issues, it also looks at human relationships and how love, jealousy and misunderstanding affect us in our daily lives.
A PATCH OF BLUE By Alexa Asjes
Adapted for the ﬁrst time on stage from the novel: A Patch of Blue April 12th to May 15th 2005 The King’s Head Theatre For Tickets Phone: 020 7226 1916 www.apatchofblue.co.uk
Combining aesthetics, politics and good karma, Footprint Clothing is one of the companies leading the way in the campaign against the ‘cheap labour, cheap fashion’ ethos of the high street. Footprint have recognised the buying power of the ‘ethical’ female – a burgeoning market – and the increasingly key role women are playing in the issues of global trade justice and injustice. The founder of Footprint Clothing, Nicolas Lalaguna hopes that launching the new range of women’s t-shirts will be the next step towards a UK buying culture that prefers a greener garment. “Everyone has the right to limit the damage they do when they put their hands in their pockets,” says Lalaguna, and it is only good news for those wanting to curb environmental damage yet stay fashionable. He is adamant that “the ﬁtted t-shirt…means that now, even more people can decide not to compromise their ethics for style.” So it’s goodbye to hippie hemp and hello to environmental elegance.
Concept and Practice: The Barefoot Photographers of Tilonia Bunker Roy is one of those dedicated people who is really making India Shine. He left Delhi’s posh St Stephens School with a mission in mind, to bring light and water to the nation’s most impoverished districts. A resident of Tilonia in northern Rajasthan he set up the Barefoot College for the rural inhbitants of the area, where they can learn about solar energy and water-harvesting. This exhibition provides day-in-the-life documentation of the villagers’ lives, many of them have never handled let alone seen a camera before. This is compelling, honest photography at its most honest, devoid of any artiﬁce.
Until Friday June 17th 2005 at the Brunei Gallery SOAS Russell Square, London
Government Keeps up Pressure in Fight Against International Bribery and Corruption The UK has been praised by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for the outstanding efﬁciency and success with which it implemented the OECD’s Bribery Convention. Since 2001, the Government has been working to put a complete ban on bribery by UK nationals and companies. Foreign Ofﬁce Minister Douglas Alexander welcomed the OECD’s “recognition of the highest level of transparency, professionalism and cooperation
which the UK showed during the review process.” The UK was congratulated for taking stringent measures even in situations where the acts took place overseas, going way beyond the requirements of the convention. Other highly commended actions included employee whistleblower protection and the ability for the tax authorities to inform on any “suspicious” activities. Mr Alexander explained that these commendations do not mean that the UK has now ended its drive to outlaw bribery: “the UK will use its Presidency of the G8 to spearhead further efforts to advance the ﬁght against this international scourge, and we are presenting recommendations for further action.” So no more cash for questions and passports for sale?
Song of Songs is Josh Appignanesi’s ﬁlm about life in North London amongst the Jewish Orthodox community. It is described as a parable set in modern times about belief and desire, exploring the relationship between a sister and a brother whose mother is dying of cancer and their ambiguity towards the Jewish faith. This is director Josh Appignanesi’s production, though the company he co-owns with Misha Manson-Smith, Mercenary Films, edited Saira Shah’s documentary Unholy War. The lead actress in this production, Natalie Press, is being hailed as the new Samantha Morton and her role in last year’s My Summer of Love was widely acclaimed. Speaking to Josh in London recently he told us, “Judaism is what’s more familiar to me, but ultimately it’s just a lens for looking at any kind of fundamentalism –religious or otherwise. What kind of life are you going to have if you take your beliefs to their extreme? What does it do to a family? I wanted to get under the skin of that.” There aren’t many ﬁlms that explore the dark side of Judaism or what it does to families, but this ﬁlm touches on incest and makes the siblings look closely at what they value and hold dear. With the promise of making many stereotypes Song of Songs sounds like it’s hit the right note. Look for it doing the smummer festival rounds.
try these for size Noon 67 not out A transgenerational philanthropic food manufacturer, Sir Gulam Noon has rounded up some of his wealthy friends to dig out their pocket change for an India Room at the Oval cricket grounds.‘GK’, whom Baroness Flather refers to as her back pocket, put up £100 000 and his good mate, Muslim peer Lord Bagri another £25 000. ICICI Bank’s Sanjoy Chatterjee has pledged £25 000 and radio head Avtar Lit a paltry £10 000 in spite of being on all those infamous rich lists we love to hate so much. He did however promise to raise another £50 000, minimum, through Sunrise Radio. Sir Gulam has a Persian mother and a Rajasthani father, and cricket has been a passion ever since he ﬁrst took bat in Mumbai. When his good friend John Major mooted the idea of having private boxes for sale in order to raise funds for the Oval’s expansion, GK oneupped him. He promises to harass friends to raise the £500 000 for this ambitious project. Friends of the curry king: you have been warned. At the age of 67 (and doesn’t look a day over 45) GK boasts a collection of 64 historically important cricket bats; this is a challenge that has him batting all out to win. The India Room will hold 145 people for seated events and 175 for non-seated events. Food can be made or brought in and there will be special rates for private functions or non-match days.
Inside Out: British Architecture and Garden Design since the Renaissance Since the Renaissance architects have always been concerned with the way a house sits on the landscape or is integrated into it. With gardening becoming a national obsession, this exhibition examines the planned relationship between house and garden and how they interact. With illustrations and records for the RIBA archives and the V&A’s own collection, this exhibition is a breath of fresh air, encompassing Robert Smython’s 17th century records of prodigy houses and contemporary architects who want to bring the outside in. Architecture Gallery , the V&A South Kensington London SW7 2 March - 5 June 2005
Where’s your hair at? What’s your hair going to be doing this summer? According to celebrity hair guru Richard Ward, hair is ﬂuid this year. Last year it was all about precision cuts and textured stiff styles, but now hair should be glossy and voluminous if it’s long. Hair is all one colour but should glisten with warm tones, rich cacao, brandy velvet browns and espresso. For men, long hair is back in again: think Brad Pitt in Troy, or the surfer dressing up for the evening and slicking it all back. Alternatively, think Franz Ferdinand: sleek, grown-up schoolboy crops.
Remember Ken Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight of his colleagues were executed on 10th November 1995, following their campaign against the environmental impact of oil companies in the Niger Delta. Environment and human rights groups have come together with writers, artists and the SaroWiwa family to form Remember Saro-Wiwa in memory of his life and work. For further information visit: www.remembersarowiwa.com and www.platformlondon.org
RIMA Awards Another Generation magazine has been nominated for a RIMA (Race in the Media) Award, sponsored by the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE). At a time when ethnic awards are being dropped by major corporates such as NatWest (see Nasty West, Another Way on page 80) the RIMAs have been brought back. It’s the only major award left that honours journalists, editors, producers and performers who are trying to make a difference and promote a fair press regardless of ethnicity, religion or colour. Jon Snow, Lord Wahid Ali, Tom Paulin, Trevor McDonald, Uriah Rennie and Floella Benjamin are all patrons of the RIMAs. The Awards had a year-long hiatus last year but they have been around for 11 years and this year’s nominations were vigorously competitive, with the addition of new categories including web-based media. The CRE claim they want to recognise media that address some of the less politically correct concerns within society, such as the plight of Eastern Europeans and Gypsies.
See www.cre.gov.uk/media/rima for more info.
Mama MIA Sri Lanka born singer Maya Arulpragasam releases her album Arular with M I A on April 25th. M I A is one of the most politicised bands on the scene and the album doesn’t disappoint, sticking to its message throughout. The inﬂuential music website Pitchfork called Arular “the best album of the next ﬁve years,” and The New Yorker described it as “the sound of a carnival or a riot.” The album takes on punk, hip-hop, ragga, dancehall and electro vibes, whilst the lyrics address issues as complicated as teenage prostitution, poverty, war and consumerism. Add to the worthiness of M I A’s music that it’s so easy to dance to, and Arular provides a much-needed and long overdue shot in the arm for this genre. M I A Arular is released on XL Recordings.
What’s in a Neem? The Indian government has successfully won a ten-year patent battle for the rightful title ownership of Neem. The EPO initially granted the patent of Neem to the US Department of Agriculture but after a lengthy ﬁght the Indian government have successfully argued that Neem is part of Indian heritage. In 1995 the US multinational WR Grace patented Neembased bio-pesticides for use on food crops; this patent was revoked in 2000 after India appealed against the patent. However, WR Grace then set up their own appeal against the patent revocation. Led by Dr Vandana Shiva, India has won back the name, proving that Neem is part of ancient traditional knowledge and not a novel product. Dr Shiva says “The free tree shall stay free.” Neem Azadirachta indica originated from Assam. It grows in arid conditions but has spread all over India now and there are now more than twenty million trees. Neem is considered something of a wonder tree, with many parts holding antimicrobial properties and providing effective ingredients for toothpastes, medicines, cosmetics and insect repellents. Increasingly, Neem is ﬁnding a place in Western as well as ayurvedic medicine.
Girl Power More women than ever are leaving their jobs to set up their own businesses. The UK entrepreneurial rate is higher than that of Germany, Japan, Italy and France. Recent reports reveal that the number of women setting up their own businesses has risen from 117 000 in 2000 to 150 000 in 2004, and that women now account for one third of all new businesses set up. Almost 1 million women are self-employed today, up by almost 90 000 in the last four years. Women now own one third of all small businesses with a turnover of up to £1 million.
Tails You Win Shiri Zinn is the name on every fashionist’s lips. She has made bedroom toys deluxe and brought erotic couture to the High Street. Pictured here is Minx, with a pearlescent body, a marabou tail and crowned with Swarowski crystals in palest pink. Shiri Zin is a design graduate from St Martin’s, London. Her work is about empowerment and eroticism. Before this low-cost, high-fashion range for Ann Summers, her sex toys started at £1 200.
ag_indobytes Fair Travel Tradecraft, the ethically sensitive outlet for goods produced and paid for at fair prices, is launching a series of tours for the public to see how Fair Trade affects and enhances the people’s lives. Customers are offered a travel adventure “totally different from anything you have ever done before.” There are trips to Cuba (April and November 2005), Kenya ( July 2005) and South Africa (August and November 2005) as well as a host of interesting destinations in India, from a highlights tour (October 2005) to a basket-making tour in Southern India ( January 2006). These trips promise to challenge your ideas about developing countries and donor aid, and there will be the opportunity to meet some of Tradecraft’s vendors. For more information 0870 444 1774 or visit www.peopletopeopletours.com.
Kathak Ceramics Lladró have added over ﬁfty new designs to their range celebrating the essence of femininity, man’s bonds with nature, and our hopes and dreams. Themes featured in the 2005 collection include Hindu rituals, Asian dances and rhythms of the east. Others include Flamenco folklore and the rich motifs of African art, thus continuing to embrace all cultures. The World Next Door series also has a delightful blue Krishna playing a ﬂute and a voluptuous white cow lying on the grass. Other highlights from the new issues this year include a series of delicate porcelain butterﬂies on Wedgwood blocks, their bodies replaced with naked feminine forms with cascading hair covering up bodies. See www.lladro.com for more information and stockists.
ag_indobytes YumYum YumYum is moving on up, into bigger premises into one of Stoke Newington’s ﬁnest listed buildings. The restaurant will retain its focus on exquisite Thai food but chef Bunchoo Iamdara will add some delectable vegetarian dishes too. The new bar includes a 50ft-long hand-carved bar from Thailand. YumYum’s owner Atique Choudhary is a noted chef, a successful restaurateur and one of the directors of the Hoxton Asian and Oriental School of catering. The new decor and branding of YumYum represent Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and good fortune. 183-187 Stoke Newington High Street, London N16 0LH, T 020 7254 6751, www.yumyum.co.uk
Salaams to Strathclyde Following the support and feedback they received after the event they held last December, ‘An Appreciation of Islam,’ Strathclyde Police Force held another such event in Glasgow in March. This marked the launch of their new poster campaign, which aims at confounding our assumptions about how people look and how wellintegrated they are. Ofﬁcers were shown the positive sides of Islam with a view to helping them deal with the diversity in their community and confront their own racism or subconscious assumptions. They learned more about what Islam means and how Muslims interact with their faith. The feedback from the Muslim community and from the ofﬁcers has been encouraging, and more events will be held in the future to combat racial stereotyping.
Scary Monsters The Animal Mummies of Ancient Egypt are on display for the ﬁrst time in the UK, with cats, baboons, a crocodile and birds of prey on show. The collection has been used to try to establish which animals were talismans to Egyptian gods and therefore might have been used in burial sacriﬁces. Animals were often buried with their owners, and the animals often represent more than one god. Thoth, the god of the moon and writing, was thought to be represented by the baboon and the ibis, but we don’t know whether a jackal, a dog or a wolf was the votive offering to Anubis, god of the dead. Animal Mummies of Ancient Egypt, 14th February - 3rd July 2005 The Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum, Tring, Herts., Admission: Free Tel. 020 7942 6171 Enquiries: www.nhm.ac.uk/museum/tring
WITH A BELLYFUL OF GUTS AND DANCE TRACKS IN THE AIR, ASIAN DUB FOUNDATION ARE BACK WITH THEIR STRONGEST ALBUM YET. LISTEN AND LEARN, SAYS AMBARINA HASAN
Stormin’ the streets with
ag_Asian Dub Foundation “WE AREN’T WRITING TO MAKE HITS FOR THE DANCEFLOOR, SO WE’VE NEVER HAD TO RESTRICT OURSELVES WHEN IT COMES TO OUR SUBJECT MATTER.”
“Get hungry, Get angry, Get hungry, And take back the power”. And that’s exactly what Asian Dub Foundation have been doing through their music and their words for over ten years. Formed in 1993 by bassist and teacher Dr Das, DJ and civil rights activist Pandit G, and London MC Deedar Zaman, the “collective” now incorporates over 16 people, all contributing to the newly released album Tank. ADF have always stood for integrity, political engagement and the fusion of musical styles. Less than ten years since their ﬁrst release, and ﬁve albums down the line, they remain true to their political and musical roots. Guitarist Steve Chandra Savale, aka Chandrasonic, joined the band in its very earliest form and as the fourth member has had a great deal of inﬂuence on the band’s current form and direction – both musically and politically, having written lyrics for nine of the eleven tracks. “We’ve never said that
there are areas that are no-go for musicians. We aren’t writing to make hits for the danceﬂoor, so we’ve never had to restrict ourselves when it comes to our subject matter,” says Steve when asked about the band’s inﬂuences. “Our inﬂuences are far wider now than were in the past – maybe that’s just part of growing up. For years, we’d be watching the underground scene, the dance scene, then looking at what was happening with the jungle, drum ‘n’ bass, breakbeat scenes, you name it, to see what we could use, sample or play over. We’re doing much less of that and looking more sideways into our music”. This “sideways” approach to their creativity has resulted in the highly-charged Tank, brimming with social consciousness and some upbeat, infectious tunes that carry their message in true ADF style. While the 11 tracks carry a mix of different musical styles including ragga, jungle beats and melodic guitar, the substance is, as ever,
ag_Asian Dub Foundation
looking at the world around us, with all its inequalities and injustices. Anti-war, anti-US, anti-globalisation and the Americanisation of the world, the themes are just as rousing as the classic ADF material. The balancing act
of drawing on all the band’s inﬂuences suits Steve ﬁne. “I get bored easily and constantly need to ﬁnd new ways of doing things. We’ve outgrown the rock gig and clubbing scenes,
ag_Asian Dub Foundation so our music doesn’t have to ﬁt into these conﬁnes. I believe, for us, the message is the medium and the medium is the message. I don’t separate the two; they are both part of the holistic whole.” So, would he ever consider writing poetry which is politically aware and speaks to a whole generation of disaffected youth? After all, some of the lyrics on Tank already work on this level, especially
on tracks such as Oil and Warring Dhol. “I haven’t written these songs with poetry in mind, but it has been suggested before. Perhaps it’s something I’ll think about. It’s not the medium that matters to me, it’s the message. But we are working on the forthcoming opera, commissioned by the English National Opera, on the life of Colonel Gadafﬁ. That’s the closest I’ve got to poetry. It’s a full scale theatrical production.” This ambitious project is certainly challenging but nothing ADF aren’t used to. Controversial French ﬁlm La Haine inspired the group to write an accompanying soundtrack and they have also worked on a reinterpretation of the soundtrack to La
ag_Asian Dub Foundation Bataille d’Alger, a ﬁlm banned in France on its release in 1965 because of its political stance. The controversial Libyan leader Gadafﬁ polarises opinions, and it is exactly this kind of reaction that enthuses Steve and the rest of the group. The lead role will be played by JC001, a familiar name on the scene.
Won’t work on the opera distract the band from what their worldwide fans hanker after – more edgy tracks and high-octane live performances? With a packed tour planned for the next couple of months and the possibility of a new album coming out next year to tie in with the debut of the opera, ADF will still be on our minds. They bear
ag_Asian Dub Foundation the dubious burden of being some of the most admired and respected guys on the current music scene. However, “I really don’t consider myself a role model and don’t set myself up as one. We put out our music and our ideologies, and people can take what they want from them, but it’s no more than that. It’s hard enough being Asian and British
today,” says Steve. “Things have changed from when we started out. Today, Asian life is sewn into the British identity, but ten years ago it wasn’t like this. We still have problems today, they’ve just mutated so that they’re not necessarily the same as those of ten years ago.” With the current and constant curtailment
ag_Asian Dub Foundation of civil rights and legal changes affecting ethnic minorities more than any other group in the post-9/11 world, the words of ADF are needed now more than ever. The words tearing through Tank speak of a self-serving corporate culture taking over, swallowing up those not strong enough to stand up for themselves. They speak of an American state interested only in its own economy, whatever the cost may be. They speak of
war, of bombs, of hope brought forward by youth, of powerlessness, of poverty, and most importantly, of taking a stand against those that would see individualism die at the hands of the corporate giants and the world powers at large. Although I can’t get totally behind the Respect Party, I still hope they win the Bethnal Green seat against Oona King. It’s good to see an alliance across religion and normal loyalties. Labour’s really alienated many of their traditional supporters, and they need to see this,” says Steve. “I’m also a great admirer of Michael Moore and his sentiments. Although there’s been a backlash and it’s been said that he takes too many liberties, the way I see it he’s only doing what the ‘other side’ is doing.” ADF are writing and performing in a world where things have become very polarised, and while there is a case for not seeing things as black and white, that’s not so for Steve and his co-writers. “People have had to take a position on things, that’s just the way it is now.” Tank gives us a vision of ADF’s Utopia through the reggae-inspired, hauntingly melodic Tomorrow Begins Today, a world in which “no government holds sway / Where no Prime Minister is given the time of day”. What would Steve’s ideal Utopia be? This is the title of one of the two songs for which he didn’t write the lyrics. “Can I be rude?” he asks cheekily. “Or maybe I’ll just say a nice bath! Sadly, Utopian ideals don’t work in practice. Even just something slightly better than it is now would be a start - a world in which everyone has a decent house, a job, where we all kill each other a little less - that’s a step closer to Utopia than where we are now, don’t you think?”
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DAVOS, anyone? by Parag Khanna
ag_Davos, anyone? Time to go back to school: to Davos University, that is. Long the subject of conspiracy theories and ridicule by those cabaret-esque French Guignols, the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in the sleepy Swiss alpine sanctuary of Davos has become a mainstay of the global glitterati. From the world’s top CEOs to rock stars, geeks, tech gurus, mullahs, and media pundits, everyone who’s anyone is there – except only about two thousand people per year are allowed in. So how does it work? What are the Davos Rules? Davos is not an institution, but is organised by one: The World Economic Forum. Founded and still chaired by the enigmatic trend-spotter Klaus Schwab, the Forum has its headquarters in Geneva and has a staff of close to 200 from almost ﬁfty countries. Year-round, the Forum identiﬁes the key business, cultural and environmental trends and works with partners from Wall Street, foreign ministries, the top activist NGOs and academic powerhouses to design action-oriented partnerships to spread treatments for malaria and AIDS, curb greenhouse gas emissions, deliver clean water to the poor, and build school systems where there are neither books nor teachers. Debt defaults, trade imbalances, corporate scandals, failed states and terrorist attacks are all on the Forum’s agenda too. This is not your standard Cold War diplomacy.
Once a year it all comes together in what has come to be the global media’s most reliable orgy of ideas and stories: Davos. Everyone wants an invite, but for most, rule number one is that you must pay to play. The Forum has a strict corporate membership of the world’s leading multinationals, representing every sector from banking to automotive to agri-business to entertainment. The main task of Davos is to deﬁne their agenda, collectively and individually, to share the best ideas and launch new initiatives.
Rock star respect: Bono lends some cred
It’s a whirlwind of announcements, hype, negotiation and planning. Davos has a softer public underbelly as well. The ofﬁcial program features the hottest thinkers, writers and journalists moderating, teasing and challenging the business and political elite in over 200 sessions, many of which are webcast and summarised on the Forum’s website (www.weforum.org). To keep things lively, academics are “retired” or “rotated” every couple of years, even the ones who feel their ﬁfteen minutes of fame aren’t quite up yet.
THE OFFICIAL PROGRAM FEATURES THE HOTTEST THINKERS, WRITERS AND JOURNALISTS MODERATING, TEASING AND CHALLENGING THE BUSINESS AND POLITICAL ELITE IN OVER 200 SESSIONS...
Mixing and matching people from all walks of life who might otherwise never meet – or never even hear of each other – is that special spicy formula which has come to be known as ‘Davos culture’. Originally, Harvard professor Samuel Huntington coined the term derisively to refer to a detached, transnational elite and their cosmopolitan views (sound familiar?). But others such as John Micklethwait and Adrian Woolridge of The Economist, authors of the 2000 best-seller A Future Perfect, celebrate the ‘Cosmocrats’
who are the engine of globalisation and interdependence. TIME magazine produced a special issue for Davos 2005 with the cover story, “In Search of Davos Man,” spotlighting ﬁnancial whizzes like William Browder of Hermitage Capital, Martin Sorrell of WPP, and philosopher A.C. Grayling. Of course, there are also Davos women, my favorite being Jordanian Queen Rania. From Laura Tyson, the guruess Dean of the London Business School, to Latvia’s President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, women take centre stage more than ever at Davos. There is even a Women Leaders Initiative, which has spawned regional programs to promote women in the Middle East, China, Latin America and elsewhere. The media, of course, can’t keep its eyes off the trophy wives, while gossipers whisper about which supermodels are supposed to show up. In her role as a humanitarian goodwill ambassador for the United Nations, sultry Tomb Raider star Angelina Jolie was on hand for the full Davos this year, prompting rumours that Brad Pitt might show up, freshly relieved of his duties as Jennifer Aniston’s husband. Sharon Stone and Julia Ormond were also on hand – all promoting good causes. Jolie, who for years has spoken out on the plight of refugees, lent her name and face to the cause of ending malaria. The goodhearted spontaneity even rubbed off on icy Sharon Stone. Upon hearing that insecticidetreated bed nets are a “quick win” in ﬁghting malaria, she stood up and offered $10 000 on the spot to aid the effort. Others raised their hands – double, triple! – in an auction of generosity. Within minutes over $100 000 was pledged from the CEOs-turned-philanthropists.
But the media is also starting to get the bigger picture: Davos is not merely an event, but a process of diplomatic transformation. Networks, not hierarchies; markets, not states; deeds, not words. Journalists now come to Davos prepared to have their intellectual agenda set. TIME editor-at-large Michael Elliot boasts that coming to Davos gives him the best list of hot issues to track for the rest of year. It is illuminating and intriguing to see the spontaneity with which ideas emerge from each Davos gathering. Every moment is pregnant with potential, every session dripping with solutions waiting to be DAVOS WILL ALWAYS seized and BE A PLACE WHERE acted upon. PEOPLE COME TO SKI Arguably the man who’s THE FRESH POWDER done the AND CAVORT AROUND most to turn RACLETTE, FONDUE, celebrity into political FINE WINES AND THE a platform FIREPLACE, BUT FOR for fulﬁlling FIVE DAYS A YEAR IT the Forum’s BECOMES SOMETHING m o t t o MUCH, MUCH GREATER “ i m p r ov i n g the state of the world” is U2 frontman Bono. Over the last couple of years his organization DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa) has raised awareness and millions of dollars for development assistance for Africa, while leading the Jubilee campaign to cancel all African debt to rich countries. His visceral power never fails to galvanise audiences. While onstage at Davos, a CEO from the ﬂoor took the mic and started, “Bono, I support your cause…” Bono interrupted: “This is not a cause; it’s an emergency.” It’s not for nothing that this year he’s been nominated both for the Nobel Peace Prize and to head the World Bank. Davos will always be a place where people come to ski the fresh powder and cavort around raclette and fondue, ﬁne wines and the ﬁreplace, but for ﬁve days a year it becomes something much, much greater. From as far as Mali and Bolivia, Japan and Silicon Valley, the new global elite of tech-savvy social entrepreneurs
and venture capitalists with a social conscience commune in rituals of dialogue that come closer to Plato’s ideal than any stale UN summit. But they never forget how to have a good time. The annual Saturday evening soiree is always memorable: an archipelago of theme parties hosted by a few select countries every year, with people dressed their chicest gliding in between venues and hors d’oeuvres like pavilions at a World Fair. Desis are also out in full force like never before. From Lalit Modi to Swami Sukhabodhananda to a raft of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) economists, Davos is becoming a place where Indians from the world over come to plot the future of Bollystan. Some would fault Davos for never learning from the past, but that might be a conscious decision for Davos has always been about the future. Through its new Centre for Strategic Insight, the Forum is beeﬁng up its capacity to analyse trends of the present and predict the revolutions in science, politics and culture which are right around the corner. Its scenarios help advise governments, companies and analysts around the world. Ironically, perhaps, the Forum has become a scenario itself. In the U.S. National Intelligence Council’s most recent 2020 Global Landscape report, the most plausible scenario laid out is called ‘Davos World’. But Davos World is not just a scenario: it is reality in the making. The present structure of diplomacy – sedate embassies, the UN, World Bank, IMF, EU, ASEAN – the alphabet soup never ends, but fails to capture the real distribution of power among governments, NGOs, corporations, religious groups, labour unions and philanthropists. Davos brings all these people together in one place, but without the pretence and protocol of formal diplomacy. The suit has been dropped from the dress code: a sign by the metal detectors threatens to charge a 5-franc ﬁne for anyone wearing a tie in the Congress Hall. Whether it’s Bill Gates, George Soros or Lakshmi Mittal, secretaries are not allowed, and most people wear hiking boots. At Davos, the change-makers of the world speak for themselves, without spokesmen or talking points. Transparency: it’s the new black.
Go Home Paki TV
Okay, so there are plenty of programmes about Muslims at the moment. Televisually, weâ€™ve never had it so good and documentary makers are falling over themselves to explain our religion, our habits, our history and our heartaches to the western world. BBC2, for example, recently ran an evening called Pakistani Actually, replete with a spate of programmes brimming with the experiences
of South Asian Muslims in England. Channel 4 has sought to highlight the spiritual side of Islam with its recent series on Hajj. But how many Muslims actually watch these programmes looking to gain a real insight into the current state of their religion? Deep in the heart of leafy Hertfordshire, a small team of researchers is beavering away to address this problem and produce a
A NEW SERIES ON CHANNEL 4 AIMS TO ADVISE YOUNG PEOPLE ON THEIR PROBLEMS IN ACCORDANCE WITH ISLAMIC LAW. ANILA BAIG REPORTS ON THE DEAR DEIRDRE PROGRAMME FOR MUSLIMS. PHOTOS BY PAUL MATTSSON
television programme with a difference – this time it’s for Muslims, actually. Shariah TV is billed as one of television’s most challenging and thought-provoking current affairs programmes, and will air this April on Channel 4. Following a successful run of ﬁve programmes last year, this new series aims to break ground to discover more about
the lives and times of today’s young British Muslims and address the true problems they are facing in today’s secular society. While it hopes to draw an audience from across the viewing spectrum, its target audience is the 1.6 million Muslims who make their home in the UK today. Facts, however, are not a part of the programme, though prominent Islamic ﬁgures are.
ag_Go Home Paki TV Each of the eight shows is recorded in a studio and hosted by award-winning TV personality So Rahman, who fronted the last series, while a panel of Muslim scholars and experts will offer an interpretation of Islamic law - the Shariah in answer to real-life questions from the young Muslim audience. Executive producer Richard Brock is full of enthusiasm for the programme: “It’s eight programmes looking at a different theme and we will have a panel of imams and experts to answer the issues that need answering from a studio audience consisting of young British Muslims. “How do young Muslims feel about their place in British society? Do they feel they belong? Who are their role models? What do they feel about the war on terror? What role do Imams play in their lives? “These will be young people with various problems of one sort or another who want to sort themselves out and want Islamic answers. It’s about real, living Islam,” says Brock, who himself was brought up as a Christian in the Church of England. It’s a pretty comprehensive series. The second programme looks ahead to the General Election and starts with the question of whether Muslims should vote at all. It also looks at leadership in the Muslim community and the possible need for an Islamic political party. Programme three investigates the ‘Clash of Civilisations’ and asks whether the war on terror is legitimate. Also open to debate is whether a Muslim should kill another Muslim in times of war. Islam and the Media tackles the thorny issues of Muslims working for mainstream papers. Should a Muslim journalist work for a newspaper or magazine which has printed anti-Islamic articles? Yvonne Ridley, the reporter from the Daily Express who was kidnapped by the Taliban and subsequently converted to Islam, is expected to take part in the discussion. The panel will be asked to suggest solutions as to what can be done to eradicate racism. The ﬁfth programme considers Islam in the Living World and asks how Muslims should
Richard Brock Executive Producer Hadith is the science that describes the sayings, actions and approvals of the Prophet Mohammed. Muslims believe that after becoming a prophet at the age of 40, Prophet Mohammed led an exemplary life. He remains the perfect role model. Therefore, everything he said, everything he did and everything he approved of was written down by his companions – these writings, unaltered over time, form Hadith and Muslims today continue to live according to them. They govern every aspect of life, from the seemingly inconsequential to issues of great importance.
come to terms with many of the environmental and scientiﬁc issues facing 21st Century Britain. Can all halal meat truly be halal, when individual slaughter and prayer is a practical impossibility? Can we justify keeping pets, especially caged pets? And then there’s future scientiﬁc advances including GM foods. The sixth programme looks at Arts and Culture. A Hollywood actor will ask if his acting career is compatible with his being a practising Muslim? Islamic rap group Mecca To Medina will demonstrate their rap prayers but seek guidance as to whether what they do is allowed. And how does Islam view the colour and extravagance of ethnic culture? Programme seven looks at problems faced by Women and Families in Islam. Many British Muslim women have opportunities their parents never had: but are they constrained by Islam? How can a woman forge ahead in her chosen career and yet remain true to her Islamic roots? Indeed, can she? Arranged marriages are still common. The programme also looks into the difﬁcult area of dating and relationships, looking at the options available to Muslim women. Programme eight looks at Islam in the modern world to consider the relevance of the world’s
ag_Go Home Paki TV fastest growing religion. With all its divisions and schools of thought, how does it retain the original pillars of faith? Young people will be asking about the worldwide unity of Muslims and whether they should actively try to convert people to Islam. Hard-hitting, to-the-point and serious, it neither shies away from the bones of contention nor serves up the usual sanitised version of Islam we hear about. But then again, those tend to be for white, middle-class audiences. As Brock says: “On the programme about Women in Islam we have a couple who want to adopt and want to know what the Shariah view of adoption is. We will also discuss abortion and birth control. In another programme a young female footballer will ask if she is allowed to take part in sports.” Brock says: “A lot of people will be surprised, pleasantly surprised actually, because what the programme shows is what a common sense doctrine the Shariah actually is. It is perfectly compatible with the West and there will be other surprises.” It’s not a surprise to Muslims who know that their religion means ‘peace’ and that even in wartime you are not allowed to uproot a tree, but when constantly faced with an onslaught of negative press it’s not hard to see why Muslims might feel defensive. “We want to celebrate Islam. Islam isn’t just about war and terror, but when do you ever see a Muslim on television talking about the environment? Yet Islam says so much about caring for the environment and looking after the planet. We’re very pleased that we have a leading environmentalist on the programme. “Since September 11 there has been a massive amount of interest in Islam and Muslims have felt they are under constant scrutiny. This programme wants to show that there is more to Muslims and Islam than the headlines. What is it like for young people who live it every day? It’s not about terror or extremism; it’s just people who want to lead good lives.” But aren’t these the sorts of things they should be able to ask at their local mosques? “I think it’s a failing of the community that its
mosques are seen as places where young people are afraid to ask questions,” says Brock. “Often programmes about Islam are not for Muslims but for Western audiences but this will inform and entertain Muslims and we will also look at what Islam has contributed, what this religion that came about 1400 years ago, has given to the modern world and its relevance to the 21st-Century.” “I’ve gained an awful lot of respect for Islam since being involved in the programme,” says Brock, who previously worked on Breakfast with Frost. “I found it a very common sense religion and if just one person watches the programme and is helped in some way, someone who comes away thinking ‘I’ve learned something’, then the programme will have been a success.” It’s also taught one of the researchers on the programme, Sajida Perween, quite a few things about her faith. She says working on the series, in such close proximity to Islamic scholars, has been a ‘privilege’. “I worked in radio before but had seen Shariah TV last year. I’d enjoyed it but had some criticism too, namely that some of the issues weren’t addressed in enough detail so when a friend saw a vacancy I jumped at the chance. It has been such a brilliant experience,” says the 30-year-old. “I’ve always been interested in Islam, but like a lot of people I’ve gone through phases where I’ve read all my prayers and at other times lapsed a bit. But I’ve learned so much through making the programme. It’s been so good having the scholars on board and I’ve been able to ask them any questions I’ve had. It is a shame that in our community we don’t really have access to our imams like this. Whenever I’ve had questions or queries in the past I’ve had to do my own reading and that’s not really ideal.” Young people have enough on their plates these days. Hopefully with programmes like this on mainstream television there will be one less thing to worry about.
Shariah TV, an eight-part series, starts on Channel 4 at midnight on April 4th and runs nightly for two weeks from Monday to Thursday.
The IPCC opened their doors to the general public in March 2004. But do you know who they are? The Independent Police Complaints Commission is the government body taking over from the long-serving yet hapless Police Complaints Authority (PCA). The IPCC has been up and running for a year and is considered the new gatekeeper of policecivilian race relations. With a £23 million budget the IPCC are accountable to Parliament through the Home Ofﬁce, although staff insist they are “not in the government’s pocket.” The IPCC oversees and investigates police complaints, be they from the service members themselves or from civilians. First established in response to Lord Scarman’s 1981 inquiry (the ﬁndings of which notoriously sparked the Brixton Riots), the PCA was the original complaints body, but the results were few and the proﬁle kept low. According to Mehmuda Mian-Pritchard, an IPC Commissioner, “the new IPPC has much wider powers than the PCA ever had… at the PCA there was always some frustration because we could go so far, but not as far as we wanted to.” Mian-Pritchard left the PCA to join the IPCC, and with a background in law and human rights she is here to transform the system. She says: “we’re going out there and telling people what we are and what we do, and having a chance to inﬂuence what the police do as well. One of the stereotypes out there is that Muslim women are not educated and that they just stay at home and are being subjugated, but I don’t think I conform to that at all and I would hope that other people who saw me doing this job would think, right, well, we could do that.” In the wake of the BBC’s Secret Policemen documentary and subsequent David Calvert-
By Laura Weir
Smith report, the inception of the new IPPC couldn’t be more topical. But this is a government issue that has dragged out for a long time without resolution. Police-civilian relations often seem to ﬂy under the radar, but Commissioner Mian-Pritchard says that this is about to change: “the whole point of the complaints system is that it is fair to everybody, not just the complainant but the police as well. If you believe that you have a complaint against the police, or you believe that you’ve been treated unfairly or oppressively, then I would encourage you to make a complaint because the police need to learn from that. Unless complaints are made there is no way, in my opinion, of measuring their performance.” In the 1980s the relationship between black members of the public and the police was tested and is still stretched, but now there is a new pressing issue. The stopping and searching of Muslims in the UK has increased by 300% post-9/11. Commissioner MianPritchard puts it bluntly: “the problem is that we don’t get the complaints from the Muslim community in spite of the reports that we hear. My concern is that those issues aren’t being translated into complaints. The police have got extreme powers but in a democracy they are accountable, and one way of making them accountable is to complain.” The IPCC certainly seems to have their work cut out engaging with the Muslim community, according to Inayat Bunglawala of the Muslim Council of Britain. “The IPCC needs to be given credit. They seem to have got off on the right foot, but it needs to show that it has teeth; otherwise Muslims may see it as another body that is there just to protect the powerful.
ag_IPCC Until we see ofﬁcers brought to book properly then trust won’t be rebuilt.” The IPCC have inherited a lot of the PCA’s baggage including a hefty backlog of cases. Torn between appearing professional and letting down their bureaucratic guard, the IPCC seem to be caught in an image crisis. Penetrating the communities they are dealing with, which includes asylum seekers and refugees, is a difﬁcult task and in many cases these ethnic groups are isolationist, dealing with their own problems in their own communities. They need to do more than invite ethnic editors to fancy lunches at the House of Lords, and work actively to get their remit written about and publicised. With the D-grade marketing crew on board, who neither know or want to know about ethnic media, they face a daunting challenge. The IPCC endeavour to be independent, not on the side of the civilian or the police, so building bonds with members of the public who feel marginalised could create a proclaimant bias. According to Commissioner Nicola Woods: “unless you are a police ofﬁcer you will probably go your whole life and never know about this organisation.” But is that something to shout about? With £23m of taxpayers’ money it could be suggested that making the IPCC public knowledge should be part of their manifesto. For the ﬁrst time, they can independently investigate a complaint about the police, making the process a democratic and fair one. As Mr Bunglawala from the Muslim Council of Britain stated, “the IPCC must establish themselves as a new body. It is crucial that the public know about the IPCC, and they have got a PR job on their hands.” The IPCC have the standard raft of policies and a swanky HQ, and are chaired by ex Liberty and ex-Refugee Council directors Nick Hardwick and John Wadham. With an impressive and experienced staff working to
make a difference, the IPCC has the power to ﬁght the power. Will they win? Woods is conﬁdent: “Just judge us on the results.” The heart of the British Police force is frozen to the core according to the latest ﬁndings from the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE). The report which was prompted after the BBC’s recent documentary, Secret Policemen, found that although progress has been made in recent years, with respect to police race relations there is still a long way to go. Sir David Calvert-Smith, who led the investigation, maintained that middle management of the force seems to be the root of the problem, and it is there that you ﬁnd the true “ice in the heart of the Police Service.” Calvert-Smith said that despite two decades of debate and policy creation since the Scarman report, the service is still not up to scratch in terms of race relations. The report found that a lack of translation from policy conception to completion on the ground, and a lack of support and training for managers, mean that there is no clear understanding when it comes to appropriate and inappropriate behaviour. The report recommends that racial misconduct should (depending on the gravity) become a sackable offence. It will come as a surprise to many that this is not already standard practice. In response to the report, the CRE Chair Trevor Phillips suggests a potential remedy to the ongoing issue of dysfunctional police race relations. He wants to “change the culture of the police service so that racists are made to feel uncomfortable and isolated.” Breaking this cycle will be tough but Phillips is determined to melt the ice: “if no-one’s prepared to hit the defrost button, we will simply have to turn up the heat.” Right: Sir David Calvert-Smith
ag_The New Religion Laws “They do not vilify our ideas, they vilify us” Two leading thinkers, Shakira Hussein and Lisa Appignanesi argue the case for and against the proposed law which the government wants to bring in, making it an offence “to incite hatred against persons on racial or religious grounds.”
The right to blasphemy is not the right to religious hate. Shakira Hussein draws on her own multi-religious background to challenge her childhood hero, Salman Rushdie. If there is a divinely ordained plan for each of us, then mine seems to involve a grand scheme whereby I experience each and every world religion at close quarters. Mine is one of those complicated multi-ethnic and multi-religious families: the product of immigration, spiritual curiosity, globalisation and intermarriage (in some cases, multiple intermarriages – my father’s four marriages have involved women of four different ethnic and religious identities). “Chutnication” Last year, I attended the weddings of two of my brothers. In London, my devoutly Muslim brother, born and raised in Pakistan, ﬁnally married his straight-talking Sikh girlfriend, having agreed to a Sikh as well as a Muslim ceremony. A few months later, in Australia, another brother married in a ceremony that combined readings from his chosen spiritual teacher, the Indian Parsi Meher Baba, with the bride’s Buddhist faith. Then there is my youngest brother, who is thus far quite happy with his own “God–shaped hole”, but who cheerfully attends Eid at the Islamic Centre with me, or Christmas Mass with our Catholic mother; the sister who is currently considering converting
In his speech to English PEN at the launch of its Free Expression is No Offence campaign in January 2005, Salman Rushdie said “the moment you declare a set of ideas to be immune from criticism, satire, derision of contempt, freedom of thought becomes impossible.”
to Coptic Christianity; and the fact that thanks to two years as a live-in housekeeper to an Iranian Orthodox Jewish family, I know how to keep a kosher kitchen. There is no shortage of religious debate in our family, and there is occasional religious offence – but there is also the knowledge that it is possible to love as well as to tolerate those whose religious opinions are profoundly different to one’s own. This kind of hybridity was not the norm in the small Australian Bible Belt town where I grew up. I was not (as too many people assumed) “confused about my identity”, but I had no available descriptions of the world as I experienced it until, at 14, I read Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children. I was captivated by Rushdie’s dazzling prose, but much more than this, he gave words to the experience of plurality and multiplicity, and to the way that people have of “leaking into one another”, like ﬂavours in chutney. I adored Midnight’s Children with the fervour that others save for the Bible, the Qu’ran, or the Torah. I carried it in my schoolbag at all times, thrust it onto nonplussed teachers, and reviewed it for every possible English essay (including one on science ﬁction). It was the ﬁrst and deepest love of my adult reading life. All of which is a long way off explaining both why I take a great deal of notice of Rushdie’s objections to any proposed restriction of free speech in the name of preventing religious hatred, and why, ultimately, I disagree with him – not on the detail of particular legislation, but on general principles. The borders of race and religion I believe that people have the right to subject any religion to analysis, criticism, satire, and
ag_The New Religion Laws yes, blasphemy, and to do so with the full protection of the law. Expression of this kind can be invigorating, joyous, and necessary. Yet I also believe that there is a case to be made for regarding religious viliﬁcation in similar terms to racial viliﬁcation. Rushdie sees such legislation as representing “another kind of Anschluss of liberal values in the face of resurgent religious demands.” But any such law would apply to hate propagated by, as well as against, the religious, and thus holds the potential to strengthen rather than dilute liberal values. Nor do I accept in its entirety the distinction between racial and religious viliﬁcation made by Rushdie and others (“people must be protected from discrimination by virtue of their race, but you cannot ring-fence their ideas”). Race too is an idea, as surely as is religion. Our choice of racial identity is obviously constrained by the perceptions of those around us, but, as Rushdie more than anyone has eloquently articulated, we live in a world of mongrelhood and make our own sense of what that may mean. While at one level, our race is a concrete, hard and inescapable fact with real and measurable effects on our social acceptance, employment prospects, and even our physical safety, on another level it is an idea whose form may differ between people of the same gene pool. Only the crudest of racists now openly reject people purely on the basis of biology. Racism may be underpinned by the same old fear of differences in the texture and tone of skin and hair. But it is now expressed as an antipathy toward certain behaviour and ideas – an alleged tendency towards criminality or welfare dependence, backward and threatening cultural practices, or consumption of limited resources, and, increasingly, an allegiance to a different and dangerous religion. Racial hatred is increasingly being recoded in religious terms, and don’t think it is our “ideas” that are at issue much of the time. Committed atheists are subjected to Islamophobia along with devout believers on the basis of their Arabic names or “Middle Eastern appearance”. Nor is religious identity simply about our “ideas”
in any abstract sense. It’s about the community to which we belong, our families, the signiﬁcance of certain days, places, or events. People may associate us with a particular religion not only because of our beliefs, but also because of our names, style of dress, physical appearance, even our diet – signiﬁers as shallow as any racial marker. My young pink and white daughter is already highly aware of the anti-Islamic prejudice that confronts her, prejudice which has nothing to do with who she is or what she thinks. I want my daughter to be legally protected against religious hate, as I am protected against racial hate. The line between speech that attacks people and speech that attacks ideas may need careful delineation, but it exists and can be clearly deﬁned. Some people may indeed hope for a law that would outlaw The Satanic Verses or Bezhti, but it is possible to retain the right to offend while ditching the right to incite hate.
“A law to close minds” The proposed British law against hatred on religious grounds will be used as a weapon of censorship, says Lisa Appignanesi Shakira Hussein’s vivid account of her family’s “chutniﬁcation” – what she calls “the product of immigration, spiritual curiosity, globalisation and intermarriage (in some cases, multiple)” – is not just endearing; it warrants several novels. What it doesn’t warrant is more bad legislation in the name of “security” and pacifying groups from government ministries which, as in the case of Britain’s Home Ofﬁce, have already given us far too much. Ms Hussein imagines that the amendment to the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill, creating a new offence of incitement to religious hatred, would have the effect of protecting faith and perhaps attendant ethnicity. But it would
ag_The New Religion Laws certainly have the opposite effect. By signalling the possibility of prosecution, it would create a chain of reactions: encourage the taking of offence, inﬂame tempers and a sense of grievance, and give publicity to those who often seek it for nefarious purposes. As for violence to persons on any grounds, there is already ample legislation in the statute books to deal with that. The Home Ofﬁce has renamed the proposed offence after protests from the writers’ organisation English PEN (of which I am deputy president), the writer Salman Rushdie, the actor Rowan Atkinson, and many others. But even under the new deﬁnition – “hatred against persons on racial or religious grounds” – the legislation will help to induce (self-) censorship in Britain’s artistic, broadcasting and publishing establishments. Corporations and sponsors are not known for their bravery. Lawyers almost always err on the side of caution, and will simply put provocative work of any kind to one side rather than spend months in court waiting for the attorney-general’s ruling on individual cases. More broadly, the offence will also create a climate in which expression is constrained for those who might wish to criticise some of the palpable ills associated with religious hierarchies, which are extensive in Britain and many other countries. It gets worse. The breadth of the legislation, whatever the government’s assurances, is misunderstood by many, including its parliamentary supporters in the ruling Labour Party. I attended the debate in the House of Commons on 7 February and needed to read the ofﬁcial report in the daily journal Hansard just to make sure I wasn’t mishearing. Khalid Mahmood, Member of Parliament for Birmingham Perry Barr (and a Muslim), is happy to defend free speech in its generality, but he showed a very real intolerance in relation to speciﬁc instances. He was ready to see the law tested precisely in the way that writers and journalists – indeed anyone who works for the media – fear. I quote from Hansard:
Diane Abbott, Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington: (Khalid Mahmood) says that nobody
in the Muslim community denies that people should be able to make valid criticisms of the religion, but I was a Member of Parliament at the time of The Satanic Verses, and there were thousands and thousands of Muslims who believed emphatically that people were not entitled to criticise their religion.
Khalid Mahmood: I am sorry, but I take issue with that. It was not a question of making a valid criticism of the religion. In the context of Salman Rushdie, the issue was the abusive words that he deliberately used, which were written in phonetic Urdu, criticising – [interruption.] Actual swear words were used within that text. Alice Mahon, Labour MP for Halifax: Who decides? Khalid Mahmood: The decision is taken in the courts, if it comes to that. As (Frank Dobson, Labour MP for Holborn and St. Pancras) said, there will be an opportunity for some of those cases and issues to be tested. In a sense, that is what the judicial system is about and what this democracy is about: giving people that opportunity. Salman Rushdie has already responded to Khalid Mahmood’s enduringly misleading description of relevant portions of his novel The Satanic Verses. Shakira Hussein may want protection from malign criticism of her faith, but what this parliamentary exchange suggests is that legislation against religious hatred may incur more of it, as various faiths – sensitised even more to their differences from one another, to real or imagined slights, and to the possibility of winning legal sanction for their position – take each other to court. It will also endanger even further the very writer she so admires. If even the government’s own parliamentary supporters have false expectations of this new offence, is it too much to imagine how widespread these expectations will be outside parliament and what serious constraints on expression will follow? Thanks to David Hayes and Opendemocracy.net
Give the domestic workers a voice By Ritu Sethi, LL.B (Hons) Solicitor DO DOMESTIC IMMIGRANT WORKERS HAVE RIGHTS? Where would you sit in our ofﬁce – on the chair or the ﬂoor? That was the thought of one Indonesian girl. Our client, the girl, was sent to Saudi Arabia to work as a domestic servant, then entered the United Kingdom with her Saudi Arabian employer. She was verbally and physically abused. Once when tea wasn’t made her employer threw a pot of hot water on her arm. That is unfortunately the life of many domestic workers and workers with work permits who have come to the United Kingdom for a better life. Domestic workers are not required to hold a work permit when entering the United Kingdom, only to fulﬁl speciﬁc criteria prior to the issue of a domestic worker visa for entry. Domestic workers are required to have worked in their employer’s household for one year or more before applying and show that they intend to travel to the United Kingdom with their employer and work full time in the employer’s household, without resorting to public funds. Domestic workers include chauffeurs, gardeners, cooks and nannies, whereas workers with work industry. People-trafﬁcking in the sex trade, and exploitation of workers with no legal right to work have been exposed before, but the exploitation also extends to domestic workers when employers rely on migrant workers’ lack of education and knowledge of immigration rules. We have often represented clients who have been surprised that they do have rights in this country. Employers often withhold the worker’s passport without their permission, and in effect restrict their liberty unlawfully. We have found that our clients refuse to report this due to fear of the police or other authorities. We have often
referred clients who have been threatened and abused by their employers to an organisation called Justice for Migrant Workers, which provides support. Workers are often under the misconception that should they report the abuse to the Home Ofﬁce, they will then lose their jobs and be deported. They believe that once they have entered the United Kingdom with a legal visa, they are unable to extend the visa, if they do not meet the Home Ofﬁce criteria. Despite The Human Rights Act 1998 which is there to protect the rights of any individual where workers’ fundamental human rights are being abused, it does not speciﬁcally protect the workers. The Gangmasters Bill has been introduced and provides some protection in the food sector. The Home Ofﬁce do possess a number of details of employers who continually abuse migrant workers, both sexually and physically, yet the Home rarely act on this. Why do employees and agencies that break the law rarely get prosecuted or even inspected? Is it that the Home Ofﬁce are oblivious to such acts; or that they have insufﬁcient powers to prosecute; or could it be that the migrant workers are there to assist the United Kingdom economy in carrying out low-skilled work for organisations such as the NHS? This would cause huge problem to the employers. What surprises the exploited workers most is in fact the rights they have rights in the UK. The British High Commission grants a visa to the workers. Give the domestic workers and migration worker a voice. Give them more information before they are brought to this country. Have you got questions for the Sethi Partnership? Email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. To contact Ritu Sethi directly: Tel 020 8866 6464 Fax : 020 8866 3232 Email: email@example.com
Shami Chakrabarti, a great British Institution By Farah Damji
I ﬁrst saw her on Question Time a couple of weeks ago, although she was included in a pithy introduction I wrote for a proﬁle piece in the New Statesman about successful Indobrits a couple of years ago. I was ﬂoored by both her passion and her eloquence and the way she made Charles Clarke, also on the panel just sit still and listen, with his big wavy ears, for a change.
I had to look twice at her name, I had just gone through the papers and they were all so nasty, particularly The Express. Then here’s this woman writing about how we are complaining about teenage pregnancy in young girls and short skirts and here we have this woman in a full body condom, wearing her own contraception and we don’t like that either.”
“I’ve been on Question Time three times,” she laughs, “Each time it’s terrifying, so I have one glass of wine to calm my stomach and the mad terror. Two would be dangerous.”
Feisty but temperate (can you be both things?) Anila is a favourite of mine (see her piece on Shariah TV on page 36). Women like her and Shami are becoming the new voices and faces of real Asian women in the UK, light years away from the planet my beloved aunty the Yazzmonsta inhabits with her shrieky voice, ill-founded views and powdered liberal values. These women represent and are concerned more about the issues we face as working, living citizens than Yazzmonsta’s random railings against a friend’s marriage going to pot and inﬁdelities and faithless institutions and, oh yes, last year’s attention-seeking antic, the dilemma of the OBE.
There’s a shriek of delight so loud that the phone, cradled between my shoulder and my ear nearly lands on the ﬂoor. “I love Anila Baig! Last time I was on Question Time, it was the day the Shabina Begum case had just ﬁnished so I was reading every single newspaper, just to be prepared for every possible question. I came across her in The Sun and I thought who is this woman,
Truth, Justice and Liberty 46
“Just imagine, in ﬁve years time,” continues Shami, “Anila Baig could be the editor of The Sun. She’s on the inside and this is how our civil rights are ever going to become an issue, when more Asians who are bright and intelligent start to ﬁll these positions.” Shami Chakrabarti has been the Director of the leading human rights group Liberty for 18 months. She was appointed by John Wadham, who campaigned for years to form an independent police complaints authority. When the IPPC was
formed last March, he left Liberty to become its ﬁrst deputy chairman. “It’s 18 months but sometimes it feels like a lifetime and sometimes it feels like two weeks,” she sighs. She was a barrister by profession and worked as a solicitor in the Home Ofﬁce under both Michael Howard and David Blunkett. What’s the legacy she would like to leave as her mark on Liberty? “I’d like to get to a stage where Human Rights are not something lawyers “do”: we need to own our Human Rights. The Conservative Party is stating that they will repeal the Human Rights Act 2000 if they win the next election. George Bush would never get away with abolishing the Bill of Rights. It’s unthinkable to withdraw our human rights; it would be like tearing up the American Constitution. Human Rights need to become a grass-roots issue, there needs to be an episode on Eastenders about them, so they feature actively in our lives and we value them. That needs to be the starting place.”
“The government is planning to extend the crime of inciting racial hatred to also cover religious hatred. This might appear to be an attractive plan which will be useful in combating the excesses of the far right. However, the proposals raise a number of concerns and are, in any event, unnecessary. It is likely that there will be prosecutions of Muslim clerics as well as the BNP. There is also the possibility that the BNP will court publicity through prosecution. The BNP website already depicts the party as the true champions of free speech. Free speech concerns should not be overlooked. While race is immutable, belief and religion are not. Criminalising even the most unpalatable and offensive speech should be approached with extreme caution in a democracy. The reality is that most religiously expressed hate speech is racially motivated. When Nick Grifﬁn talks about Muslims he is not talking about Islamic belief but about racial groups associated with Islam. A simple amendment to the existing law would allow racially motivated, religiously expressed incitement to be criminalised.”
on the new proposed law banning religious hatred
ag_Money And Investments
Whose life and whose money? The only things certain in life are death and taxes, but unfortunately they come in the wrong order.
And after Chancellor Gordon Brown’s budget this afternoon, the tax burden in the United Kingdom has increased yet again. Each year, the Adam Smith Institute calculates Tax Freedom Day - that point in the year when people ﬁnally stop working for the taxcollectors and start working for themselves. Tax Freedom Day 2005 will fall on 31st May. This means that average taxpayers in Britain spend ﬁve months of the year labouring solely to pay taxes. Average taxpayers who have been at work solidly from 1 January this year will in fact only start earning for themselves many weeks from now - at the end of May.
According to the Treasury’s out-turn ﬁgures, Tax Freedom Day 2005 falls three days later than it did last year. (Tax Freedom Day 2004 was 27 May - but 2004 was a leap year, so the real gap is three days, not four.)
Laila Rouass in the Back Seat By Palash Davé
At ﬁrst I felt short-changed. When AG’s editor announced that she was putting me at the helm of her new motoring column (sponsored by a top brand, every grownup British-Asian professional’s marque of choice), I began to have visions. The column would be born as a tearaway teenager. I would introduce my bad-boy (and even badder-girl) desi readers to the new Ferrari F430, or the newly-Russianowned TVR’s Tuscan 2. Even a Mini Convertible would have ﬁtted the bill, with some lissom Bollystani’s chunari trailing in the wind beside me, our bums nestled in leather bucket seats a few ass-juddering inches off the ground. Hell, Emma ParkerBowles in the country’s worst car column in Tatler gets to drive an Aston Martin DB9 for a weekend, posing in aviator shades and a vintage leather pilot’s jacket. So when the call came promising imminent delivery of … a Vauxhall Astra, my ardour wilted from sixty to nought in 3 seconds. It needn’t have. For this is the Astra Sport Hatch, the latest and most successful attempt, in an ever-more competitive, gradually more style-conscious, performance-loving
â€œ...a judicious balance of features that give its nearest rival, the new Ford Focus, a run for its money...â€?
hot-hatch market, to square a hundred circles. It wants to be both sporty and sensible. It wants to provide both fuel efﬁciency and high performance; to combine affordability (in both purchase price and running costs) with little luxuries from the top-end; maintain compact proportions while providing backseat comfort, boot-space and an expansive feel. What is surprising is how much of all this it achieves, with a judicious balance of features that give its nearest rival, the new Ford Focus, a run for its money, and which even allows it to compete with the latest exceptional overhaul of the Volkswagen Golf - in performance and style, if not in overall robustness, comfort and reliability. The Astra Sport Hatch is an aspirational car on several levels. The young light-brown “face” of the Sport Hatch is former Channel “V” VJ, Chanel model and Hollyoaks actress, Laila Rouass. This London-born Moroccan-Indian currently plays Bromley-born Bollywood star Amber Gates in Channel 4’s Footballers’ Wives. (In a further autobiographical twist Rouass has been linked to Moroccan World Cup soccer star, Hadji.) I could have expressed it better than her publicist, but I prefer to quote from the horse’s mouth: “Laila’s strong and independent personality made her the ideal woman for Vauxhall’s New Sport Hatch campaign. She was chosen to embody Astra’s message of beauty and brains (she has a degree in business!) and to appeal as much to women as men.” If there were an all-industry development manual for this new breed on the market, it would say “design this car for people who previously wouldn’t have been seen dead in a three-door hatchback.” Men and women with MBAs are welcome to apply. And footballers’ wives and hip desis. In this market it’s no longer good enough simply to take two doors off a workaday ﬁve-
door model and knock a grand off the price. Indeed, the prices of the Sport Hatch models (ranging from £13 795 to £18 145) are identical with those of their more staid ﬁve-door cousins. But their resale value is (in a direct reversal of conventional wisdom) expected to be higher than those of the ﬁve-doors, reﬂecting the desirably design-centred, sporty and featurepacked quality of this radically new range. Almost every part of the Sport Hatch’s sleek bodywork is new and unique to the car. Only the bonnet, front wings, door handles and external mirrors are shared with the ﬁvedoor Astra. The Sport Hatch sits on the same wheelbase, but a redesigned front-end means it’s a little longer than its ﬁve-door sister. The most immediately striking feature of the Sport Hatch as you approach it is its coupé-like styling. With a lower rooﬂine than the ﬁve-door Astra, it also has muscular “shoulders” above the rear wheel arches, giving it a big-haunched, forward-leaning air. Despite this it has more boot space (at 302 litres) than a coupe, and decent seating for three rear passengers. A small downside is the rather truncated letterboxy rearwindow visibility, (and cramped headroom for any especially tall rear-seat passengers). But there’s compensation in store. For this is the ﬁrst car to beneﬁt from Vauxhall’s Panoramic Windscreen, available as an £850 option. The Widescreen is a truly striking innovation. Instead of a conventional sunroof, this is a massive windscreen - a 1.5 metre sweep of glass that extends into the roof without the distraction of any bars or pillars. Gone is the transverse beam in front of the driver’s head to obstruct your view. Even a convertible can’t achieve the same effect because of its windscreen frame. It looks stunning from outside, and the feel from the driving seat can only be likened to an aircraft cockpit.
“...the experience is unmistakably racy when you engage that sport switch.” All versions of the Sport Hatch come with air conditioning, alloy wheels, sports seats and lower sports suspension settings. Inside, the materials and features are consonant with the determinedly ‘aspirational positioning of this model. High-quality materials (soft-touch plastics, leather cladding) are used for control surfaces like the steering wheel, gear knob and frequently-used switches. The reddish low-level “splash” cabin lighting (making it possible to see maps at night without turning on the interior lights) lends a welcome luxury-car feel to the night-driving experience. There’s a large-screen display (monochrome as standard, though colour is an option) that forms the nerve centre of the Sport Hatch’s “Infotainment” system, with controls for the audio system, trip computer, and optional in-car telephone, climate control and sat-nav. There’s also a selection of steering-wheel mounted controls. I’d have liked to have seen a Bluetooth hands-free option and phono inputs for an iPod but, hell, I’m a fussy guy. Gadget-wise, I was also particularly grabbed by this model’s Adaptive Forward Lighting (AFL) system: the headlamps are able to move the shape and direction of the light beam to optimise illumination under different driving circumstances. On motorways AFL automatically shifts the beam upwards by 15 degrees to illuminate your path without dazzling other drivers. On corners the system physically moves the light beam to see into bends as you turn, with the amount the beam shifts dependent on the car’s speed and the rate of steering. I found it particularly useful on country lanes, but it also proved handy in the London suburbs. Another handy feature normally associated with higherend cars is Automatic Lighting Control, which basically comes to your aid if (as I frequently do) you forget to switch the headlights on. So how’s it to drive? There’s a range of four petrol and three diesel engines to choose from, starting
with a 105 bhp 1.6 litre petrol engine, and notably featuring a 150bhp 1.9 litre CDTi turbodiesel model that achieves nearly 50 miles to the gallon, compared to the 30 achieved by the petrol model I drove. And there are three speciﬁcations (entrylevel SXi, SRi, and Design) - with a fourth, a powerful 450 bhp VX Racing model, due later in the year (at around the same time as a new Ford Focus ST). For this review I drove the 170bhp SRi 2.0 litre turbo model, with the addition of performanceenhancing IDS-Plus (“Intelligent Driving System”), featuring a dashboard “Sport Switch” which allow you to stiffen the electro-hydraulic steering assistance, sharpen the throttle mapping and ﬁrm up the electronic dampers. My verdict? It’s not quite as sporty as it looks. Yes, there are the lowered suspension settings, decent handling, and outstanding acceleration for a car in its class. And the experience is unmistakably racy when you engage that sport switch. But it’s no roadster when it comes to steering feedback and driver interaction. This tameness isn’t all bad, of course: the suspension can even cope happily with my suburban speed-bumps, and ride quality and cruising ability compensate for the lack of teeth-rattling excitement. This is, after all, still an eminently sensible car, aimed at young drivers but not boy racers. It is practical as well as sporty, and Vauxhall have reassuringly paid attention to reducing running costs through long service intervals, frugal engines and lower repair bills, with more expensive components hidden deeper inside the engine compartment, lights higher up on the body to reduce the risk of breakage in lowspeed crashes, and multi-component panels at the front and rear allow single parts to be replaced or repaired. It’s consequently in a low insurance bracket, adding to the general comfort factor. All in all, a car for a sensible grown-up footballer’s wife with an MBA, but let the footballer keep his Z3. And, Farah, let me drive that Ferrari.
An inspired blend of hops, maize, yeast, barley malt, rice and imagination.
Kicking Off The nation’s latest strange obsession, trainers. Our shoes are probably the most worn components of our wardrobes and a style statement in themselves. The history and architecture of trainers, sneakers, plimsolls, gym shoes, call them what you will, is an interesting one. “Guys go crazy for trainers the way girls go crazy for Manolo Blahniks,” says Jimmy Jellinek of US magazine Complex, a respected trainer bible. From Baskets to Sneakers, Kicks to Runners, trainers are no longer just functional footwear, they are a cultural phenomenon. Whether it’s Air Force or Air Flight, Vans or New Balance, the style, the brand, the colour of the trainer determines your sub-culture and your urban tribe. , It began during the late 70s with the emergence of the US hip-hop scene and in the UK the Casuals were into sport and into trainers. It was an unwritten rule that you had to be into your footwear, and these cultural movements gave birth to a contemporary trend obsession that is worth billions globally. From the Mods and their Clarks desert boots, the Doc Martins that the Punks wore or even the battered Sloaney boat shoe, footwear has always added the ﬁnishing touch to the sartorial statement. The trainer movement came from working class lads who would pick up trainers when they travelled cross country to football matches. From Skinheads to Garage boys, the working class street-kid’s look is something which is constantly evolving, in order to remain one step ahead of the game. It was through garments and trainers that they found a media through which they could express themselves. In their youth, collectors like Robert Brooks chose to start collecting Adidas because of a personal cultural reference, associating the brand with Bob Marley and Daley Thompson. On the other hand, trainer enthusiast Henry Ludlow will collect anything,
especially vintage dead stock, but he leaves Puma well alone, stating: “They use homophobic advertising campaigns; I’m not up for that.” The trainer certainly has come along way from the plain white P.E. Plimsoll. Today, the sneaker scene revolves around eBay and the underground market. According to Magdi Fernandes, Manager of Slammin Kicks in Beak St, London, the most expensive pair of trainers ever sold are the Nike Charity Dunks; they went for an unbelievable $30 000 thanks to the States’ skate park proliferation. But it’s not just about the money; it’s the exclusiveness that sets the true trainer connoisseur apart from the rest. Trainer enthusiast and author of the new book Trainers, Neal Heard puts it down to class identity and a ‘keeping up with the Jones mentality’, especially when it comes down to price. Although he agrees that the £200 mark for the latest pair of Nikes is excessive, Heard knows that people don’t mind paying, and they don’t mind hunting because it conﬁrms their status. “It’s the working class kids trying to say I’m not poor, I can afford those no problem. It’s the rich kids that dress tatty to try and say, look I haven’t got loads of money, sad but true.” The further you are willing to go for your trainers will cement your societal status as a trainer authority; if you can track down the best shoe then you are the best collector. “It’s my life,” says Ludlow “I have over three hundred pairs. It’s literally what gets me going! There’s nothing like a crisp new pair and that smell…” Heard knows the feeling, “The ﬁrst pair were the Adidas ZX 250, blue with a yellow stripe. Nothing special but loved them, I used to keep them in the box next to me so I could watch them all time; lots of people were like that!” he laughs. It has been at least two decades since the trainer boom ﬁrst began and the scene is still thriving. Recently there has been resurgence. In St Ann’s Court, Soho is Foot Patrol. The fanatics queue in the dark, one-roomed store and waiting for them, behind the metal cages, are some of the rarest and latest kicks. This shoe fanaticism is not only apparent in the underground market, but is inﬁltrating the high street; the latest advertising campaigns from UK and US majors show that the big brands are also climbing on board. In his collecting days, Heard stresses that the major brands “didn’t want to know. On one of our America trips we found sample shoes,
ag_Kicking Off literally from 1972, one lone shoe with the hand-written price tag, model name, one of the earliest pair of Nikes you’d ever ﬁnd, that was amazing … but Nike didn’t want to know, they weren’t being very savvy.” They have cottoned on along with many others. The 2005 Reebok campaign sees Pharrell Williams and ‘The Ice Cream Range’ of trainer, a saccharine collection for the conventional US hip hopper. 50 Cent and Jay Z are also endorsing new releases. On the vintage retro scene the , ‘Jane Fonda’ from Reebok is the 80s re-release. Your mum did aerobics in hers, and now people in Shoreditch look cool in theirs; the market is constantly moving, the trend constantly changing. The new sneaker obsession is likened to cultural archaeology, or like sweets in a sweet shop where everything is of the same ilk but the packaging, the smells and the tastes are different. The trainer collecting movement is growing. “It’s not like it used to be,” says Heard, “Now if you want something rare or vintage you can just go into Size; they’re doing limited editions.” Despite this evolution into the mainstream, the Japanese still embrace the rare market. The global ‘rare and exclusive’ specialists, “the Japanese are just mental on it. I’ve got a theory that when McCarthy took over after the war, the aim was to Americanise Japan, and they lost who they were and their identity and that’s why they’re going all round the world taking photos of everywhere else!” Says Heard, “they are bang on about heritage, design and history, but everything from their music to clothes has to be different.” In the UK though it’s a different story. Although experts like Heard see the phenomena growing, it is clear that a trend has made a transition from niche to mainstream when reputable publishing houses are bringing out books on the subject. “It used to be you’d strive to be different. Now it’s become so homogenous, people look like Robbie Williams. It’s quite a difference to when we were growing up, you didn’t see it on MTV and just copy it.” But true originality is hard to achieve, and although this movement came from the working-class streets it is now being governed by big American bucks. Nike, eBay, Footlocker they all hold the market monopoly. Unfair wages and unethical trading by companies such as Nike have been well documented; do ethics ever come into play when collecting?
“Well lately I have been thinking about it more and this year is the ﬁrst time I’ve ever felt a bit ashamed of my collection,” says Heard. A backlash in the form of Canadian culture jammers AdBusters has hit the headlines recently. Challenging Nike CEO Phil Knight at his own game, AdBusters are releasing the Black Spot trainer; retailing at around $40, they are said to be a way to “unswoosh” your life. But for now, ethics are not on the minds of the die-hard sneaker freaks; currently the sneaker everyone wants is the Air Jordan 4. A collaborative re-release between Nike and LA store Undefeated, this is a shoe that is described by Magdi as being “a really complicated shoe, old style vintage with a twist.” Another generation of trainer aﬁcionados is emerging.
Collecting Tips Keep the trainers in their boxes adds value, keeps them fresh and aids in the dating and re-selling process. You can date Nikes by the label behind the tongue of the shoe. The ﬁrst two digits of the code give the year the shoes were made the number underneath shows you where.
Don’t neccesarily focus on the big brands; certain lines of Diadora and Pony for example are hot and hard to get hold of. Look through your loft, ask your grandparents; you never know, you might have a lot of stock at your feet. Don’t wear them.
Indian and South Asian art take on the global art scene. We look at who’s buying and why.
Sometimes, emerging from under the great shadow of MF Hussain must seem like a gargantuan task for contemporary South Asian artists. There’s a diverse range of art available and a lot of the collectible pieces are ﬁnding their way to the annual South Asian sales at Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Bonhams in New York and London. The provocative yet delicate doodles of Francis Newton Souza – his oil-on-board Nude is estimated to sell for around £40 000 – are just one example of what is on sale at Bonhams’ auction of Islamic and Indian Art later this month. Just down the road at Sotheby’s, the Tipu Sultan Collection is expected to fetch in excess of £800 000, in one of a series of four auctions at Sotheby’s scheduled for May which will put the spotlight on the interaction between East and West over the past ﬁve centuries. Meanwhile in New York, Christie’s auction house just achieved its highest sales ever for the modern and contemporary Indian art session, raking in almost £14 million in total. From carpets, photograph collections, weaponry, colour plate books and modernist paintings, the race is on for all the savvy art collectors who can’t wait to get their hands on an authentic Souza, or a Kayali, or an El Said.
The question on art lover’s lips worldwide is: just when did this Asian art get sexy, and so popular? Interest is not just conﬁned to the West – Indian and Pakistani collectors are still the leading buyers of South Asian art – but it is the hot pursuit of the Brits and the Americans that is bewildering, and has left auctioneers feeling a little dazed and confused. Collectors in this ﬁeld are becoming increasingly knowledgeable and selective, and the Western appetite for clues to help them solve the enigmas of the East is only whetted more by each bite. This is one reason why works of Arab and Indian art are becoming increasingly talked about, praised and sought after. It’s a case of contemporary Orientalism, it seems that Europe and America can’t get enough South Asian art to bring a bit of the mystical East into their own collections. Posthumous thrill is another. The death of modernist painter Francis Newton Souza in 2002 has pushed his work to the front of collectors’ attention, increasing the value of his paintings ﬁvefold. Souza takes his cues straight from Picasso, with his angry scratching of the canvas. And Souza has reason to be angry; born in Goa in 1924, he grew up A work from Sir Henry Salt’s TwentyFour Views taken in St Helena, the Cape, India, Ceylon, Abyssinia and Egypt. Under auction at Sotheby’s London May 26, 2005. Estimate: £15-20K.
a reptile; I attack it.”
art scene. Rashad Salim, an artist who worked with Issam El Said writes of him: “in shifting times, as troubled as ours, what are we to make of this particular group of art works? They are, like him, vividly marked by Iraqi sensibility, deeply noble due to a rare humility; here are works from the hand of a life smouldering brilliantly with the contrasts of the Mesopotamian landscape, its terrible frictions and profound peace, its bounty and its loss. Beauty of spirit, art implies, can transcend tragedy in its search for corresponding matter to redeem.” Another posthumously-famed tortured artist whose work features in the Bonhams’ sale is the Syrian-born Louai Kayali. Only two of his paintings are being offered, but each is estimated to fetch twenty thousand to thirty thousand pounds. Kayali’s colourful portraits depict the Arab struggle as lonely and troubled individuals. Kayali, a troubled man himself, once destroyed an entire exhibition of his own work following Israel’s victory in the Six Day War of 1967. He spent the rest of his life depressed and only resumed painting for a short period and in complete seclusion, then committed suicide in 1978. Perhaps unsurprisingly, pieces such as The Fisherman, which Kayali painted during his lowest yet most creative point in life, are set to reel in a lot of cash at the auction. It seems a little ironic that interest in Eastern art should begin to climb so enthusiastically at the moment when the West is feeding off the misery of the East, in art as well as politics. But the historical signiﬁcance of monumental collections such as the Tipu Sultan collection can’t be ignored. Tipu’s tiger is a timepiece that sat in the premises of the India Ofﬁce. Every hour on the hour Tipu’s tiger would be seen lying over the East India Company White Sahib who would let out blood-curdling screams. It was
An exotic gem-set trophy indomitable courage sword from Tipu Sultan’s and fearlessness in the regalia of ofﬁce, circa face of an enemy with 1782-93. Under auction a greater artillery and at Sotheby’s London force than he could May 25, 2005. summon. It could be Estimate: £50-70K said that Tipu Sultan, a great Mughal Emperor was the ﬁrst Indian Freedom ﬁghter. Tipu’s tiger was a living reminder of how “dangerous” the East could be, for the uninitiated westerner. Frankly, it would be naïve not to link the sudden revival of Islamic art to the aftermath of 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq. It is hard to deny that recent events, however upsetting, have brought Islam into the public eye and under Western scrutiny. The impressions the West has been presented of Muslim countries after 9/11 have certainly not always been positive, but they have drawn attention to Islamic movements, and so inadvertently drawn attention to Islamic art. There is also an underlying sense that growing interest in Islamic culture is part of a somewhat unhealthy desire to ‘know thy enemy’, and sadly a great part of the British public seem very eager to gather a lot of knowledge about another culture without any intention of ever accepting it. Nevertheless, in learning about the values and principles of a civilisation that has given so much to world culture, we can only hope that Westerners
ag_Art Asia will eventually see that Islam has been abused both by its enemies and by some who claim to follow it. So who are these rich art collectors anyway? Alongside the glory-hunters there are the loyal connoisseurs, historians, and committed collectors – enthusiastic fans who have dedicated their lives to the task of preserving, promoting and exposing to the public the aesthetic delight of Eastern art as well as the sorrows it often conveys. Sheikh Nasser Al Sabah of Kuwait is an important name in the world of art collecting. His collection of Islamic art was famously looted from a museum in Kuwait during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, and recovered again with the aid of the United Nations. Sheikh Nasser’s collecting activities have ﬁred up the market over the past few decades; his wealth has not only procured art but also been used to set up museums and fund scholarships. Dr Abdulateef Jassim Kanoo and Dr Nasser David Khalili have also helped pave the way. Both owners of vast collections costing huge sums of dinars and rials to assemble, Dr Kannoo is responsible for the entire exhibition at the Bait Al Quran museum of Islamic manuscripts in Bahrain, while Dr Khalili’s pride and joy has previously been put on display in Somerset House, London. Another aﬁcionado is Sheikh Saud Al Thani, a loyal Qatari patron who has been buying architects and art experts as well as antiques, and hopes to one day make Qatar itself rich and famous for its art assets. He plans to establish ﬁve museums in Qatar, in celebration of Islamic art and culture. A younger generation of collectors are also buying heavily at the auction rooms worldwide. Many are of South Asian descent and forming collections of India or South Asian art is a way to stay a little closer to their roots and origins. I have some amazing pieces I bought in New York in the 80s, a torso of an Indian god from the 4th Century , from the pillar of a temple, a Rajasthani horse which presides over my kitchen in the country, over three hundred years old and huge cowbells from Gujarat, over one hundred years old, which I use as doorbells at my house. These pieces have acquired
signiﬁcant intrinsic value but also serve to remind me that I am of and belong to another place. There’s something in them that resonates with something in me. Asian art has also been one of the fastest growth investment areas, as the stock is extremely rare. Much was pillaged by the Raj and ended up in the V&A and other British Institutions so the chances of a museum or collectible piece becoming available are few and far between and these pieces are often snapped up and disappear into private collections. Finally, it might just be worth observing that Indian and Asian art as a whole are not completely alone in their climbing popularity. A gradual increase in sales of all modernist and impressionist pieces has also been spreading across the globe. It seems that more and more people are becoming interested in art in general, and enter auction houses with the hope of making one or two investments that will boost their ﬁnancial future. Does this mean that disposable incomes are becoming large enough to allow punters a day out at Sotheby’s? It is possible that the resurgence of Asian art is indicative of a bigger, more general boom about to occur in the art market. So prepare to have your eyes dazzled and your wallet frazzled. MF Husain, Horses and Nudes. Under auction at Bonhams’ sale of Islamic and Indian Art, 28th April 2005. Estimate: £50-70K.
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Delhi Disseminating Culture and Acquiring Taste THE LAYERED CITY OF A MILLION CULTURES IS CAREERING TOWARDS BEING THE EPICENTRE OF MODERN CULTURE, A TRUE FLASHPOINT WHERE EAST AND WEST MEET Words by Neave Barker Pictures by Jason Lowe
The last stages of a train journey. My shoes slipped oaﬁshly on; a half-read book, folded at the corner and bagged away. For any who enter Delhi by rail, what greater delight can be witnessed in the cool morning air than mile after mile of squatting silhouettes crapping by the rail-side. They say whoever founds a city at Delhi will lose it. Many have come and gone, the Persians, the British and throngs of semi-permanent foreigners. My stay in the capital will be brief; a strident trip into a city bustling with contradictions. In the uproar of Nizamuddin station I’m met by a representative from The Manor Hotel; “Neave Sahib?” A spotless-looking boy pushes through the crowd brandishing a miss-spelt version of my name. “Yes,” I reply, “I suppose that’s me.” Before the tenacious rickshaw-wallahs can have their
way I’m sped off into the city. Windows up, we glide through the morning trafﬁc in an air conditioned bubble. Like many suburban Delhi residences, the Manor Hotel sits quietly in the conﬁnes of an exclusive gated enclave known as New Friends Colony. Once past the semiconscious guards, the vigorous buzz of trafﬁc is replaced by the tranquil pulse of a sprinkler and the swish-swish of a house maid’s brush. At ﬁrst glance the building looks like a private country club. I think of the designs of Frank Lloyd Wright, Hopper paintings of post-war ocean liners. Delhi has an assortment of visual styles; imperial colonnades, Mughal palaces and ultra-modern ofﬁce blocks. Unlike other cities in India, there is a pervading sense
DELHI’S HIGH CULTURE IS PERMEATING ALL STRATAS OF SOCIETY. AT MY AGED AUNT’S HOUSE IN THE SOUTH OF THE CITY, AN M.F HUSSAIN POSTCARD OCCUPIES THE SAME WALL SPACE AS A TACKY LOOKING PASTORAL SCENE. of design and geometry that with the right investment and vision is being all the more realised. The Manor’s interior is no exception; a back-lit onyx topped bar, slate walls and Murano glass. With a bit of international ﬂair from designer Shirley Fujikawa, the hotel
succeeded in reinvigorating its faded grandeur. “The Manor’s a reﬂection of what’s happening throughout Delhi,” Benoit, the manager tells me. “There’s a growing appreciation of art and design across the city that ordinary middle-class people are desperate to acquire to maintain at least the image of being sophisticated.” Delhi’s high culture is permeating all strata of society. At my aged aunt’s house in the south of the city, an M.F. Hussain postcard occupies the same wall space as a tacky pastoral scene. In a private gallery in Defence Colony I stroke my chin intellectually before a puzzling looking canvas. Behind me a smart young couple inquire about purchasing work. They are shown painting after painting by young artists from across the country, before ﬁnally settling on a curious looking abstract. “That’s interesting.” I remarked, “Yes it is,” replied the man, fumbling for his Mastercard. “Why do you like it?” He paused before answering as though pondering the very depths of his soul for a means of expressing the beauty of his acquisition. “It ﬁts the wall space and it’s…err… cheaper than the others.” I liked the man’s honesty; his elevation of the functional over the aesthetic. He had bought the painting not only as an investment, but because he had the money to invest in the ﬁrst place. What does it mean to ‘invest’ in culture? How do you assess the value judgements made and risks taken in predicting whether something will accrue a proﬁt or sink without a trace? Delhi’s nightlife is another aspect of the city that suffers similarly from temperamental changes in fashion.
“It’s difﬁcult to predict what’s going to be in and what’s not,” Benoit tells me. “It’s even more difﬁcult to predict how long something will remain popular.” Realistically, ‘popularity’ ends at the exact moment when the fashionable crowd ﬂees in search of somewhere more exclusive. For Benoit, good taste is something people acquire over time. For the time-being it was in the interest of creatives with imaginative marketing strategies to get people to give something a try. One evening I’m taken to a wedding reception at a large hotel. A wealthy girl is marrying a wealthy industrialist; both I’ve never met and will never know. I spend the bulk of the evening avoiding the camera-man. I met a few interesting people that night; some came close to suggesting where Delhi’s fashionable heart could be found. Hotel clubs were no longer the hub of Delhi’s nightlife; the ‘scene’ had dispersed across the city’s, bars, lounges and restaurants. Still, the craze for the camp and ‘over the top’ could be found if you looked in the right place. I was told of an Absolute Vodka night at a club called Noyda where an ecstatic crowd had chanted ‘mullet’ whilst being handed false hair-pieces. Mullets, it seems, have gone global. I follow an acquaintance’s advice and head to Greater Kailash I. Nestling in amongst large suburban houses are shopping malls, bars and bistros. The latest trend is for Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food cooked authentically by internationally-trained chefs. In the company of friend and fashion model Ritika Frey we arrive at Diva, a stylish continental restaurant with an un-Indian feel. Within minutes I’m supping imported wine and chomping through veal. The food was good, the company better, but I felt that I had forced Ritika to go somewhere she wouldn’t normally go anywhere near. “People haven’t acquired a taste for these kinds of places yet,” she insisted. “Also they’re too ex-
pensive for the average professional to experience.” That might be, but Ritika also asserted the most exciting thing about Delhi at the moment was that people were being given the choice to experience the world without leaving the city. I imagine a dark day when ﬁsh and chips are to Delhiites what chicken tikka-masala is to an English drunk. Ritika had a point though; choice was indeed the most important thing. In the markets of the old city the choice is overwhelming. Produce from over-stocked shops spills out onto the pavements; tea, spices and rice. A narcoleptic pup beds down on a ﬂour sack; a fat black rat waddles along the gutter. Near Lahore Gate, I give in to a cycle-rickshaw. Sanjay the aged peddler grins a betel-reddened grin before cranking the contraption into life. We rattle from the Red Fort down Chandni Chowk, past ﬂower sellers, cows and colours. He pulls up in the spice bazaar where a riot of merchants and porters hurry about their business. The air is thick with chilli dust and my eyes soon begin to sting. “Come with me,” insists Sanjay. He takes my hand and leads me up ﬂights of stairs to a roof terrace. My eyes cool in the breeze and the city comes into focus. To the south, Delhi’s many layers of
“...every dimension is expanding; mechanical creepers are unfurling into the far reaches of the city.” history and development can be seen. In the foreground are the mighty Red Fort and Jammu Masjid. Behind are the dilapidated colonnades of Connaught Place and the glassy towers of the business district. In the far distance I can just about make out the elegant curves of the Bahai temple, an airy modernist structure built in the shape of a blossoming lotus. Delhi in every dimension is expanding; mechanical creepers are unfurling into the far reaches of the city. In Gurgaon, concrete blocks are hauled into place, while ﬁnishing touches are made to a colossal Coca-Cola sign. Still, in the midst of all this growth, the old city remained ancient. Making my way down from the roof terrace I spotted an elﬁsh-looking urchin perched on a chilli sack. I tell him I want to take a picture by pointing at my camera. He gave his consent with a nod, but before I could click, he jerked forward to answer his ringing mobile. My attempt at freezeframing authenticity is dashed but I settle upon the realisation that this is the true Delhi and any attempt to view it otherwise would be a misrepresentation. In the hearts and minds of Delhiites the new and old overlap in a constant tide of progress. There is a pervading sense of expansion and growth in the city; a concerted effort to develop Delhi’s infrastructure to deal with the challenges of its swelling population. Like an aged tree, Delhi continues to strengthen its mighty roots while its branches bear momentary blooms of art, design and creativity. It seems the exclusive world of high culture is beginning to permeate not only the upperends of the spectrum but the whole of Delhi’s social conscience. Though many ordinary citizens rarely have the means to purchase avant-garde works of art or to sample the ﬁneries of international cuisine the continuing sensitivity to high-culture, choice and variety, suggests that Delhi is a city coming to grips with a multitude of new tastes.
Ashram Life WORDS AND PICTURES BY CARY RAJINDER SAWHNEY
ITS BEEN 20 YEARS SINCE I VISITED RISHIKESH AND ITS ASHRAMS. THESE VARY FROM PLACE TO PLACE … SOME OFFER GUIDANCE AND SPACE TO EXPLORE HINDU PHILOSOPHY AND SPIRITUALITY, SOME OFFER CHEAP STUDENT ACCOMMODATION WITH A BIT OF SPIRITUALITY IN A THALI ON THE SIDE
But I’m not seeking the ‘chill-out by the Ganges experience’ with a Buddha Bar soundtrack, or the typical rapid 2-3 day tourist trip of go to Ganga, a few pujas and back to Delhi. I have not come for a particular festival like Saraswati Puja or the International Yoga Festival at the popular Parashwaram Ashram with its hawkeyed NY yoga devotees and hand-clapping to
Country & Western-inspired guitar sung Slokas. Twenty years on, I am looking for the spiritual space I cannot ﬁnd in the West. I dimly remembered that Rishikesh and the Sivananda Ashram (Divine Life Society), which I had stayed at many years back on my yatra down the entire course of the Ganga river, was the place to ﬁnd this spiritual space. Now it had drawn me
back across years and thousands of miles. Sivananda’s openness to ‘seekers of the divine’ made it amongst the ﬁrst Westernerfriendly Ashrams; the Beatles searched for enlightenment here in 1967. My memories included the most spiritual Christmas I had ever experienced – the Hindu Swamis had invited Nuns down from the local Monastery, and even some Jews and Buddhists for a
shared Christmas Eve. Celebrating God, it didn’t matter what path you took. As I climbed the steps leading to the Ashram, I realised I was being stared at by a horizontally-pupiled goat standing on a wall. I recalled two orange swathed Swamis - Krishnanda and Chidananda (disciples of their earlier guru Swami Sivananda), who had inspired my younger imagination and
ag_Ashram Life expanded my mind’s understanding of the realm of possibilities. As if it were yesterday the faces of fellow devotees from the past also crowded my mind – I wondered where they were now, what was their story? I checked in with a minor Swami who found my name on a list in a large hand-written book. “You from Delhi or London? You have one week nah?” I scratched my mark and enquired about the two Swamis whose pictures hung garlanded on the wall. “Krishnandaji has gone.” With his knowing smile and hand gesture I immediately understood that to mean “gone to other world”. Swami Chidananda, now very old, was far away and unwell. I sighed; things had only stayed the same in my memory. Climbing the steep steps to the Ashram in the rarer Himalayan air I found it unchanged. A beautiful white Shiva Mandir (temple), dressed with its stucco deities rose before me, the simple Sivananda motto, ‘Be Good Do Good’, was inlaid on white marble, and the yoga rooms, shrines and gnarled ancient trees all looked the same; only the people had changed. I was soon ensconced in a basic
room – welcome to Ashram life – but there was a simple bed and I had my sleeping bag. There was now regular hot water. Ashram life by day was a relaxed affair as most activities for devotees took place in the early morning and evening. The day was marked by a natural ebb and ﬂow as various animals visiting the Ashram – from morning puppies to macaques with attitude – sought the attention of devotees. Every evening saw the arrival of large Pied Hornbills in a fruiting ﬁg tree in the Ashram and Hanuman himself in the form of troupes of silver leaf-eating Langur monkeys who cavorted through the trees leading up to the forest, which was still well-preserved around Rishikesh given the extensive deforestation that had happened elsewhere in the mountains. Heading off into the Rishikesh of Ashrams rather than Rishikesh town down the road, I soon found myself in a bustling atmosphere which was far from tranquil. As Indian and Western tourists tore around the narrow Ganges bankside on motor scooters with blaring horns narrowly missing cows and distracted pedestrians, rallies of young village men marched to and fro chanting slogans on their ways to local shrines. Memories of such chanting during the riots 20 years ago after the assassination of Indira
ag_Ashram Life Gandhi made me feel uneasy. The Sivananda Jhula Bridge which links the two sides of the river like a swaying metal umbilical cord strained with the strange life-blood of pilgrims, peddlers, motors bikes, monkeys and cows. This was more commercial than I recalled, with new ranges of commercial products on offer. Ayurvedic cosmetics, white-water rafting tours, pirate and pukka CDs and internet cafes had found their place amongst the traditional shops selling spiritual knick-knacks, shawls and deities in every conceivable stone, metal or wood. There was a life and energy to this place and a friendly tolerance not typical in the big Indian cities. The old eateries were still there, the Madras Cafe and Choti Wallahs had always been known to serve food and water more suitable to weak Western-living stomachs. Most exotic of Rishikesh’s visitors were still the Western tourists; many looked as if they had dressed up as extras for a pantomime version of Ali Baba or perhaps Bombay Dreams. There were the well-heeled Ashram visitors ﬂoating by, heads held high, all in white Donna Karan Pure; then fresh off the boat from Thailand were the South East Asian trekking kids in psychedelic shorts, beads and t-shirts; and then there were the Rishikesh Wild-Ones - the blonde, muscle boy stripped to the waist with dreads like Shiva himself – “What? I look like a god don’t I?” – or the bushy beard guy dancing around in a multicolour Kaftan in search of a far-out experience which would at some stage include the local weed. By evenings the diurnal cycle of Ashram life had swung into action again as Swamis and devotees hurriedly prepared themselves for simple vegetarian food doled out from buckets in the dining hall. Then later there were the prayers and meditation in the Samadhi Shrine decorated by the teachings
and images of the great Saint Sivanandaji. “Don’t forget to take your shoes off,” I kept reminding myself as a I clumsily passed in and out of spiritual and non-spiritual spaces. Then you were in the subdued half-light of the shrine, trying to get used to the agony of sitting cross-legged on a mat for three hours: talk about mind over matter. The evening Slokas (spiritual songs) started in Sanskrit – Indians I would expect to, but Germans and Dutch around me seemed to know the words and were swaying and singing along. Feeling like a complete dumb desi I hummed along, occasionally dipping into the bits that were familiar to me such as “Om Shanti, Shanti”. One of the current leaders of the Ashram Swami Nirliptanada quietly led the prayers in English. Then there was the silent time for meditation. I concentrated and concentrated, but could not turn off the noise of my thoughts. Ending with prayers and Prasad we left in the cool Himalayan night air for our dormitories. Passing a smaller candle-lit shrine there was the sound of an old woman singing. I enquired from a fellow American devotee as to why and was told that Bhajans had been sung by devotees for world peace, continuously, day and night, since the Second World War. As I left in the darkness, I wanted to believe it was true; the continuum of time seemed to stretch, and maybe twenty years was the blink of an eye. The ﬁrst night was difﬁcult. I had to wake up at 4.30am and I had forgotten to set my alarm clock. But the early starts got easier as I slipped into the schedule of Ashram life and mornings, the Swamis had told us, were best for a clear mind and meditation. It was true; waking up in the dark and walking out into the mountain winds seemed less and less of a chore. I had the prescient feeling that this opportunity came along rarely in one’s lifetime. It felt like a great journey into a new side of me.
ag_Ashram Life Morning in the Ashram was a mixture of peace and drama, illumination vying with physical discomfort. Illumination came in the form of talks by Swamis who explored Hindu and other theological philosophies with a congregation of silent seekers that included an amazing mix of humanity; not just the expected Westerners but East Asians, Africans, Jews, Buddhists and Muslims, as well as men of all ages from all over India who were attending the Ashram’s two-month Yoga Vedanta course. I listened attentively to the instructions for meditation which our gurus said would calm the mind and increase its focus, efﬁciency skills and relive stress. It was amazing just how hard it was to close off the ﬁve senses and focus on a single deity or point of light without the mind wandering. Twelve seconds, we were advised, was the ﬁrst step to aim at, with more experienced meditators reaching Samadhi at thirty minutes or more, a super-conscious state connecting with the ultimate being inside and around one. I imagined being a very old man before I reached twelve seconds, but through the tumult of memories and emotions that seemed to rise like clouds to challenge each attempt to meditate, it got a tiny bit easier. As the drama of drums and crashing temple bells from the near-by Shiva temple marked the sunrise I felt numb from sitting crosslegged, but refreshed and a little lighter and more self-aware each day. During my intense week in Rishikesh I also explored two of its other nearby attractions, one timeless and the other more contemporary. Standing in the foothills of the Himalayas is a bit like going to a premiere party but not getting in the VIP lounge; you know there’s something more spectacular upstairs. I decided to hike 20 km up to the Kunj Puri Mandir for at least a glimpse of the great Himalayas. Setting off on foot at 7am
the sky looked clear to the North so there was at least a chance that the early spring clouds would not obscure the mountains. ‘Hill’ in Himalayan standard equals ‘mountain’ in Europe. A shopkeeper merrily wished me along my way in the verdant green valley of Tapovan: “This is your last shop, till you get to the top, do you want water, biscuits?” Within half an hour of steep climbing I was struggling for breath as the air was already getting thinner. I was over taken by some young village women who called to me in Hin’glish. I replied with equal linguistic aptitude and they offered to take the strange foreign Punjabi up the hill with them. I tried to keep up with these mountain girls but was quickly dragging behind. Around a ridge with a stunning view I found them patiently sitting waiting for me; we shared conversations about how much my boots cost and why I was not married, and then they discovered I had binoculars which were in good will quickly ripped from my person, as they dismissed my birdwatching interests. Binoculars had only one good use – spying on other villagers in their gardens down below. After merrily teasing the gasping foreigner for four hours, we ﬁnally reached their hamlet. They took me back to their home for buffalo milk tea. I set off again, dragging my arse through forests and lonely Shangri-la villages on tiered emerald wheat terraces until I reached the summit and the basic Shiva temple of Kunj Puri. It was six hours since I had set out. Annoyingly the road that came up the other side of the mountain looked a lot easier - why had I wanted to trek and ruin my knees when I could have got a taxi? In spite of that, for those who might need to suffer on the path to spirituality the view was worth the struggle. As I watched, the snow clouds
slowly parted, revealing an awesome view of the great white peaks cutting miles into the dark blue sky: there were the High Himalayas. On my ﬁnal journey I decided to check out the world’s number one health spa, Ananda, a dramatically different aspect of Rishikesh. I arrived at the hilltop retreat in a dated cream Ambassador taxi which the local taxi ﬁrm owner was driving himself, such was the rare occasion that anyone from Rishikesh town gets through the gates of Ananda. The entry to the super ﬁve-star spa was via the Maharaja of Garwhal’s palace. He had sold the back side to the spa. I was greeted by a young woman with a face tranquil enough to rival that of the Buddha and I was offered a ginger tea. All seemed so rich, comfortable and beautiful after the simplicity of Ashram life. As I sat on a sumptuous couch staring at a bowl of rose
ag_Ashram Life petals, however, I heard the jarring sounds of two industrialists cutting each other up in the conference suite next door which brought me back to the ‘real world’; Ananda was primarily for the wealthy and powerful. Great care was taken of me as I was introduced to Ananda’s state-of-the-art facilities which included a broad range of massages and spa facilities. Meditation and yoga were taught and an Ayurvedic doctor took me through the analysis and prescription of treatments and diet for each guest on their arrival. Guests ﬂy in from all over the world, including Mrs Melinda Gates to ﬁnd relaxation, and to de-stress. On leaving Ananda, I felt it was the perfect place to be pampered, but was
…FOR THOSE WHO MIGHT NEED TO SUFFER ON THE PATH TO SPIRITUALITY, THE VIEW WAS WORTH THE STRUGGLE… spiritually sterile compared to the rich depth of experiences of Rishikesh. I looked forward to getting back to the Divine Life Society; after all, to quote their earlier devotees the Beatles, Money Can’t Buy Me Love – especially not the God kind.
Koffee With Destiny’s
JESSICA HINES GOES BACK TO BOLLYWOOD RIGHT AT THE TOP, IN THIS EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH THE INDUSTRY’S LEADING DIRECTOR, KARAN JOHAR. Karan Johar is late. This makes for an agitated PR. Of course he is late. So why was I early? How could I have forgotten this most sacred of rules when dealing with Bollywood: everything happens…in its own time. True, most ﬁlmmakers in Bombay don’t suffer too badly from the lateness disease, but then, Karan is different. Young, good looking, self-assured and successful, Karan is a bit of a star these days, and with stardom comes lateness. I am not sure how I feel about meeting Karan Johar today. While I loved his ﬁrst ﬁlm Kutch Kutch Hota Hai (Something Always Happens), I deeply resented Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (Sometimes Happy Sometimes Sad). Watching it had left me feeling manipulated, as if I had been force-fed pure processed emotion, like some designer mood drug, until ﬁnally my mind caved in and I started sobbing and groping for the hankies. He is in London to promote his latest venture, not a ﬁlm this time but a chat show on Star TV, Koffee with Karan, which has secured his tenure and position as the face of New Bollywood.
ag_Koffee With Destiny’s Child His arrival disarms me. He says sorry, that’s it. No drama, no arrogance. He has soft brown eyes and a full mouth which smiles readily, and he is wearing layers of cashmere, which always helps a person look soft and cuddly.
THE VIBE OF THE SHOW IS ‘COME, CHILL OUT, HAVE A LOUNGEY CHAT.’ I WANT THE AUDIENCE TO HAVE VOYEURISTIC PLEASURE - AS IF THEY ARE EAVESDROPPING ON THE CONVERSATION I tell him that I had enjoyed watching Koffee with Karan. “Which one did you see?” he asks “The one with Shah Rukh and Kajol. I thought it was a bit of a mate’s love-in though,” I confess. “Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol have been really great friends for such a long time and they have a great on-screen chemistry. I put Kajol together with Shah Rukh because she is comfortable around us otherwise… you should see her on other interviews on telly, she is a bit strange… She doesn’t talk too much on camera. Of course Shah Rukh knows what to say to get the right reaction. He is totally Koffee with Karan material. “So having a mate’s love-in was what was wanted?” “The vibe of the show is ‘come, chill out, have a loungey chat.’ I want the audience to have voyeuristic pleasure – as if they are eavesdropping on the conversation. If I ask about a certain controversy, something
that people will have read about in the tabloids, it is the asking that is the fun thing. It’s like, ‘Oh, hey A, did you have an affair with B?’ It’s ﬁne if they deny it or giggle. I am not asking for startling revelations, I am just asking to see what they say at that particular point in time. We don’t tackle serious issues, it’s more ﬂippant or frivolous, and the whole point is to have 45 minutes of fun.” Johar has an uncanny understanding of what viewers want from a chat show with the stars. His genius is that he claims that he alone can do what others try: they are all his friends so he can create the necessary sense of familial closeness that allows them to open up to an unprecedented degree and show us them in an unguarded, ‘we are just mates chatting’ way. We are being allowed to peak in and be part of their intimacy. Voyeurism into fabulous imaginary worlds is what Karan does best. His ﬁlms have created fairytale landscapes where impossibly beautiful and glamorous people wear their ruby hearts on heavily embroidered sleeves. I ask him how he creates these worlds. “When I am writing I visualise it in a certain way, I see the characters in a certain way, how they look, what they are wearing, and I kind of describe that and then wait for input from my production team. I see the ﬁlms in a certain way: I always saw Kutch Kutch Hota Hai as a very colourful ﬁlm, I saw Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham as opulent, almost unimaginably so, like unreal opulence is how I put it. I wanted real people in an unreal world. They were all real in terms of their characters but the sets should look unreal and over the top.” Real people in an unreal world? Just how real
ag_Koffee With Destiny’s Child WE SELDOM PUT OUR HEART AND SOUL ON THE LINE FOR ANOTHER TO SEE AND SO RISK A DAMNING CRITIQUE are these people? Never mind the women dripping diamonds and sporting silk saris for a shopping trip to Bluewater Shopping Centre, the most unreal thing about Karan Johar’s worlds is the characters’ emotional honesty and the outcome of that honesty. We very rarely open up fully to one another. We seldom put our heart and soul on the line for another to see and so risk a damning critique. But the idea that we could do it, get all gushy and spew out our inner most thoughts and concerns, and have people respond in the way we would like them to, is a compelling one. Just the thought of doing it is enough to give most of us the desired rush – it’s like playing chicken with your ego.
‘What are you doing? You are running away from yourself. So what if you are not sure? At the end of the day you have the backing of a production house and you are a fool if you don’t take advantage of that. There are millions of people who want to be where you are and this has been given to you by nature so stop abusing it.’ Karan smiles at the memory of his friend haranguing him. “He got really upset with me.” So Karan and Aditya worked together on Aditya’s ﬁrst ﬁlm Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge and Karan found himself doing everything from sorting out the costumes to writing scenes. That he could write came as a surprise, but Aditya always told Shah Rukh when it was Karan who had written a scene. “One ﬁne day when we were shooting in Switzerland Shah Rukh came up to me and said, ‘You should make a movie.’ I said, ‘Yah, I will in about six or seven years.’”
And watching others do it for us is cathartic voyeurism – powerful stuff. Perhaps he should describe his characters as hyper-real, idealised in their emotional honesty. But how did he get to this point? How did he become the reigning king of maxed-out melodrama? His late father Yash Johar was one of the industry’s most successful producers, and I wonder if his father encouraged him to follow him into ﬁlms? “I didn’t think I was cut out to be part of the ﬁlm fraternity. My father had said to me, ‘You are a weakling; people will walk all over you. The industry is a big bad world.’ It was Aditya Chopra who made me join the industry. I was going to do other things in life but he said,
ag_Koffee With Destiny’s Child Shah Rukh was adamant that he was ready to do it now but Karan just put this enthusiasm down to homesickness. “I thought, ‘It’s cold and he is missing his family; he is probably just being nice to me.’ You know how it is when you are away from home and you are in that freezing climate; everyone says nice things to each other, and suddenly you feel very warm, even to the camera! But, surprisingly, when we reached Bombay he followed it up with my father.” “Shah Rukh met your father and told him you should direct a ﬁlm?” I am amazed that Shah Rukh found the time. He must have believed in his friend. “Yes, he went to my father and said, ‘Karan must make a ﬁlm. You produce it and I will star in it.” My father of course fell off his chair and was like, ‘My son? A director? What rubbish am I hearing?’ “Your father didn’t have much conﬁdence in you did he?” “No. Shah Rukh coming to see my father was a turning point in my family because neither one of my parents had any idea that I had this inherent passion for cinema. My mother… I will never forget the ﬁrst day I started Kutch Kutch Hota Hai, she came and woke me at 6am and said, ‘I haven’t been able to sleep all night.’ I said, ‘Why?’ and she said, ‘Because… can I ask you a question? Do you know where to put the camera? It’s not too late even now. I am really stressed out about this, I don’t want you to make a fool of yourself. You do what you want to do, don’t do this, don’t let people pressurise you.’ Such conﬁdence!” Karan laughs and continues, “When we showed her the ﬁlm she didn’t know what to say, how to react; she kept staring and staring for about three hours and then, I am not sure if she meant to ask it in this way, but she said, ‘Did you make this?’” Karan rolls his eyes and laughs some more. I am
a little shocked. His need for approval must have been a driving force. “Were you eager to please?” I asked. “Oh I was totally eager to please. With Kutch Kutch Hota Hai I was like, I want your applause; with Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham I was like, I want your ovation; Kal Hona Ho (the last ﬁlm that he scripted) was like I want your money.” He giggles. “Now I want my satisfaction. My next ﬁlm has its own narrative style, it is much more relaxed, it is not hyper any more, not as eager to please. I am after satisfaction, but then that comes with a certain degree of success in any case.”
I DIDN’T PLAN FOR ANY OF THIS. I ALWAYS SAY, I AM DESTINY’S CHILD The next interviewer bangs on the door demanding her precious half hour. I take my leave. The man I met today has surprised me. I had thought him just another second-gen ﬁlm nkid but he is different from the rest of them. I realise that he is a man who has found himself through his friends’ belief in him, which allowed him to strike out on his own into what is undoubtedly a big bad world, knowing that he would be supported by them. They alone saw his potential as a creative person. At the end of the interview he said to me: “I didn’t plan for any of this. I always say, I am destiny’s child. People just weaved in and out of my life and made it happen for me.” He has paid them back by creating worlds, both on celluloid, and now, on telly, where the impossible happens: staggeringly beautiful, glamorous people open up, show their tender emotional underbelly and ask for our acceptance. In doing so he validates us ordinary mortals and our hope that we are like him too: snooty Cinderellas who just need a prince to see beneath our bedraggled exteriors to become all that we can be.
Setting India on a Path to a New Freedom CRY appeared as a brand on greeting cards sold door-to-door. It is now twenty-ﬁve years old. Seven young people initiated it; each contributed seven rupees to ofﬁcially register an organisation called Child Relief and You (CRY). The seeds of their idea have spawned an institution, which represents trustworthiness, sincerity and commitment. In an environment where many institutions are viewed with scepticism and mistrust, this is a singular accomplishment. Contributions from individuals averaging about 2 000 rupees per donor per year are the mainstay of CRY’s fundraising efforts. This allows millions of middle-income Indians from every walk of life to enlist in this movement for children, and builds an element of consciousness-raising into every fundraising activity. In the US, UK, Middle East and South East Asia, funds are raised through direct mail and via small but regular events conducted in association with local NGOs or volunteers.
CRY’s development strategy has always centred on education as the most effective long-term solution to the multiple causes of poverty, deprivation, exploitation and abuse that shackle India’s children. In recent years CRY has spearheaded a concerted, nationwide grassroots campaign in partnership with almost 2 400 NGOs, aiming to establish –
•Accessibility of functioning schools of at least adequate quality, numbers of children enrolled in formal and non-formal schools, dropout and retention rates, numbers of children engaged in child labour, and gender differences. •Workable models to achieve universal access to primary and elementary education, combining direct action, community mobilisation and policy inﬂuence. •Nationwide support from all segments of society for the constitutional amendment making education a fundamental right, which was passed by Parliament last year. There are still 111 million child labourers in India, and more than 50% of children between 6-14 yrs do not have access to primary school. How successfully CRY manages the challenges of growth without compromising its values and governance
standards will determine the degree to which it accomplishes its overall goal – to catalyse a movement that engages Indians everywhere in securing India’s children their most basic rights: to survival, protection, development and participation. For more information on CRY visit www.cry.org or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
NastyWest, Another Way?
Farah Damji on NatWest’s ﬁnal solution for the ethnic multicultural media awards
EMMA AWARDS cancelled. Imran Khan, human rights supremo, champions Beckham’s human rights against NatWest Bank, who walked away from a legally binding contract. It’s always disconcerting to confront racism on any platform, so we like to think, in these mythical media circles that we inhabit, that we are a wee bit above that. So why did the black press come down so hard on the EMMA awards last year when David Beckham and Thierry Henri won at the UK’s highly acclaimed multicultural media awards? It was the most tantalising case of reverse racism to hit the headlines, ever. The EMMA Awards have been a ﬁxture on London’s social calendar for seven years. It was one of the events even I made an effort to attend because they celebrated all the good and great things about being British: respect, diversity and achievement in all walks of life – and I am one who is down as hating these luvvie parties. It was never about what colour you were or whose boot straps you were hanging onto. It was about what you were putting back. Last year there was much media furore, instigated mainly by the black and Asian press, when David Beckham, Tom Cruise and Greg Dyke picked up awards. ‘But these are multicultural awards for ethnics,’ they screamed from their tabloid platforms. Why should Beckham win an award honouring multiculturalism? He’s white, in case anyone hadn’t noticed. Shock, horror. The stink continued with nonsense in the so-far-centreleaning-it’s-going-to-fall-over Guardian, and the gloves were off. Founder Bobby Syed was attacked not only for honouring Vanessa Feltz and Gurinder Chadha, who both foolishly dissed him from the stage, but also on a personal level. But ethnic media is like that:
trust me, I know; I’ve been the gossip and the news. Bobby ﬁled a complaint with the CRE, stating that Beckham was the subject of a racist campaign. Trevor ‘Uncle Tom’ Phillips fobbed him off to the Press Complaints Commission. No action was taken against any of the alleged offences or against generally biased stuff which appeared everywhere, starting with Ethnic Media Group’s own Eastern EYE. Chairman and Founder Bobby Syed is someone I admire. I have watched this fracas unfold. I gave the story announcing NatWest’s decision to dump the EMMAs to the Independent’s diary because I was appalled that a bank, an institution that works on trust, was trying to back out of a contract on a pile of excuses as ﬂimsy as the paper this is printed on. My god, I thought, if they can do it to Bobby, they can do it to any of us. The awards have been cancelled in the UK due to NatWest Bank’s reneging on their original three year contractual agreement. Bobby, however, is a street ﬁghter and has friends in high places. Our mutual friend, human rights lawyer Imran Khan, who was the convener of the judges, has been instructed to pursue legal action against NatWest. Syed, sitting in his ofﬁces at the Saatchi and Saatchi building in London (he’s an ex-Saatchi employee) says, “I personally feel that this is a kick-in-the-teeth for great icons like Ray Charles who have helped EMMA to become the only symbol for ‘multiculturalism’, harmony and remembrance, which also encourages new role models for a large disillusioned younger generation, when one considers this is an election year and Jamie Foxx winning a Oscar for playing Ray.”
ag_NastyWest, Another Way? In March, NatWest Bank announced group proﬁts of £8.1 billion. They also slammed the door to sensible debate and dialogue in order to air their grievances with Syed so that the EMMA Awards, now in their seventh year, could continue with another extravaganza in London this year. I asked NatWest to set out their side of their story but was told, “as this matter is unfortunately subject to legal discussions it would be wholly inappropriate to comment at this time.” For an outlay in kind and in cash which totalled only £300 000, they enjoyed national and international press coverage worth over £3 million in 2004, according to Pedro Carvalho, the managing director of Fnik PR, a specialist ethnic PR agency. They claimed, to the Independent’s diary editor, that their focus had shifted and that the EMMAs didn’t ﬁt the bill any longer. You can’t help but notice their branding all over the rugby, and a lot of noise about teaming up with the Prince’s Trust in order to tackle exclusion through rugby (that highbrow ballgame). How many black and Asian kids have you seen rising through this elitist and white sport? They even appointed a Head of Diversity on February 14th this year, Lynne Burns. Their corporate press release states, “Lynne is clear about the exciting challenges that lie ahead.” “Clearly we don’t exist in a vacuum,” she says, “and as an organization we will be inﬂuenced by society at large. But diversity is a long term game for us – it’s not something we’ve just started talking about.” NatWest wrote to the EMMA Awards on 15th October 2004 regarding their decision to walk away from the three-year sponsorship contract that covered the 16th May 2005 Multicultural Awards to compliment the new EMMA Awards New York TV show on the 25th September 2005. The ofﬁcial reason given was the BBC’s decision to schedule the 2004 TV show for 45 minutes instead of 50 minutes, which NatWest ironically accepted and discussed nine months
Tom Cruise with Bobby Syed prior to transmission of the show in May 2004 at planning meetings. This has been independently conﬁrmed by a BBC ofﬁcial; they never at any time indicated any concern, even after the show was broadcast, till October 2004. This appeared after the Pandora article on the BBC online website which stated that the EMMAS had been broadcast for 45 minutes, not the 50 minutes promised. The awards ceremony has always been broadcast on TV, ﬁrst with Carlton TV and then with the BBC. It attracts huge media coverage and, as with anything successful, it enjoyed its detractors. It grew in stature for celebrating icons including Mohammed Ali, Nelson Mandela, Lord Attenborough, Maya Angelou, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder and recently Sir Bill Morris by awarding them the distinguished EMMA ‘Lifetime Achievement’ Honour. The EMMAs have also honoured the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr Martin Luther King and recently Bruce Lee for their contribution towards humanitarianism, with each of their closest relatives accepting this great honour on their behalf at the glitzy Grosvenor House Hotel in London. Black activists in the ethnic media took the awards to task at every juncture: not enough black athletes were winning or gaining recognition, not enough members of
ag_NastyWest, Another Way?
Actor Michael Greco the black media were being celebrated. This has to be viewed in its historical context: there is a lot of inﬁghting that goes on in ethnic media anyway, and the EMMAs became grist for the mill. NatWest are owned by The Royal Bank of Scotland, whose headquarters are in Edinburgh. Whilst some of their marketing function is run out of their London ofﬁces, a former employee states that since NatWest was bought over by RBS, all sponsorship decisions have had to be referred to Edinburgh. No offence, but how is some policy wonk ever going to understand the signiﬁcance of EMMAs, which are a London ﬁxture? In the Pandora article in the Independent dated 22nd February 2005, a NatWest ﬂunky was quoted as saying, ‘the EMMA Awards no longer satisfy our sponsorship objectives’. Oh well, that’s it then, right? No attempt was made at all to try to negotiate an agreement or a compromise until Wednesday 9th March, on the back of another article in Pandora, announcing Imran Khan’s involvement.
Whilst the bank is actively trying to court ethnic and especially Asian business through high-falluting vehicles, such as the Asian Entrepreneurs Unit based in posh Mayfair ofﬁces, to get their hands on the so-called Brown pound, another larger policy is at work in the background. That is the policy which states that multiculturalism doesn’t work for us, we don’t like the controversy around the EMMAs, so we’ll stick to safe white sports like rugby. If multiculturalism and the success of ‘foreigners’ isn’t going to be contentious then what is? There’s so much noise from large corporations who have been caught with their boxers down and their dicks in the honey pot. When it comes to working in and for the communities they claim to serve, they fail. When this award was conceived it fell nicely in NatWest’s remit, with their commitment to corporate responsibility. They reaped a ten-fold investment on their outlay in terms of tangible media coverage. That, even by Scottish standards, is pretty respectable. The EMMAs are a landmark event and I have watched them grow from a hopeful idea into something that this year, at last, would have ﬁnally broken even and could perhaps have made some money for Syed. But banks don’t like making money for other people, do they? Syed is a natural-born salesman at heart but he stayed loyal to NatWest in spite of being courted by other corporations who saw how much political and cultural kudos were falling at the main sponsor’s feet. I spoke to friends and colleagues in the industry, and the outpouring of support for Bobby and the EMMAs is massive. Ex-CRE commissioner Patrick Paisley said: “I feel that if we are talking about diversity in the wider sense, Beckham is a member of the human race, EMMA is supposed to be about celebrating different cultures. Beckham is a cultural icon and these are not apartheid-
ag_NastyWest, Another Way? based awards. There is so much talk about Britishness and what is a deﬁnition of Britishness: Beckham encapsulates the face of modern Britain. Black, white and Asian youths all look up to him and to Thierry Henri. If foreigners can contribute to culture, why should colour be an issue? Had the black press made a fuss when Halle Berry won an Oscar, the same papers that jumped on the outraged bandwagon because David Beckham won an award would have been accused of racism. What is outrageous is for the black press and media to jump on the bandwagon; when it comes to talking about white people they can be as racist as they want, and this has turned into reverse racism. White people should be valued for their cultural contributions; of course there is space for white culture in a multicultural award.” TV diva Meera Syal added: “there are so few ethnic awards around that in spite of the controversy it’s important to see the EMMAs continue. He has my full support in moving it forward.” The EMMA Awards continue with plans to organise a New York Ceremony for September 2005 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel for future TV broadcast, and Syed is in discussions with Geneva-based WorldTV. The EMMAs are going to do brilliantly in New York; I am always banging on about how much more advanced the desi diaspora is there. After an initial set of meetings in September which were organised by the US Embassy in London, New York will become the global centre stage for the EMMAs with the UN – who, through Koﬁ Annan and Nelson Mandela, have acknowledged EMMA’s contributions to society – as the backdrop. Syed says, “people may know me well but ‘EMMA’ only celebrates one’s character and not one’s race, creed or colour from a truly ‘multicultural’ perspective; hence our winners reﬂect an urban cosmopolitan/metropolitan cultural fusion.”
There is a myriad of grassroots and guerrilla tactics being discussed at present. Do you remember back in the ,80s when tens of thousands of college students shut down their Barclays bank accounts in protest against apartheid? Well, far be it from me to advocate anything quite so revolutionary, but for Britain at large, the day a bank can break a contract because at some level it resists the idea that a white person can be fully integrated and celebrated in a truly multicultural society is the day we, the thinking public who have poured £8.1 billion into their coffers, should begin to question whether we want to be associated with racist corporations. David Beckham has done well by the ethnic community; Gurinder Chadha’s landmark ﬁlm Bend It Like Beckham put him on the cultural map. He said recently that a day didn’t go by when he wasn’t reminded of the ﬁlm or told to bend it. He was given the award last year thanks to his stand in Macedonia when racist fans were taunting his fellow team players with racist slogans. He stood up for them and said that he found it offensive and unacceptable. The EMMAs support role models and that was inspirational behaviour from someone who is usually portrayed as being self-involved and pleasureseeking. The word from his PR team at present is that he doesn’t want to get involved in a race row. Well, it’s a bit late for that love. Bend It and the EMMAs are the only things that I can recall that have given Beckham any credibility, beyond which PA he is sleeping with, the size of his diamond earrings or his kid’s Wendy house. Step up to the plate, David. Veteran journalist Jon Snow summed it up when I spoke to him recently. It was two minutes to six and he was on a massive deadline but he still took the time out to say categorically: “of course EMMA is important, just look at the people who have been honoured. It’s a wonderful show and a loss to the fabric of London’s multicultural society.”
NEWSWEEK’S FAREED ZAKARIA TO LAUNCH WEEKLY SHOW FOR PUBLIC TELEVISION. PRODUCED BY AZIMUTH MEDIA IN ASSOCIATION WITH OREGON PUBLIC BROADCASTING, FOREIGN EXCHANGE WITH FAREED ZAKARIA by Charu Suri PREMIERES APRIL 2005. Described by Esquire magazine as “the most inﬂuential foreign policy adviser of his generation,” Fareed Zakaria is about to challenge a new breed of American audience. “Since 9/11, Americans have become far more interested in foreign affairs than in decades past,” he asserts. Using his experience as Newsweek International Editor and columnist, Zakaria will ask questions that focus on the real global perspective in Foreign Exchange, a new TV show that will debut this month. “We’ll ﬁnd out what the world is doing and thinking,” says Zakaria, “Why they love and hate us, and how we can understand and navigate a globe that often seems to be spinning in six different directions all at once.” We caught up with him in New York. Journalists are more inﬂuential than ever, and your crossing-over from print to TV is demonstrative of this amplifying effect. Who controls the fourth estate? “No one. It’s a mistake to think of the media as a single entity. It’s a vast, diverse industry and it does have a bias – towards proﬁt. So it does things that sell. That doesn’t always make for good journalism.” You could be a superstar academic, but seem to have journalism in your blood. When did you consciously decide to bring geopolitics to the masses? “I found myself more energized by writing for a broad audience. Academia has its virtues but it is a small group of people talking amongst themselves - sometimes endlessly. I enjoyed talking to the much broader universe of smart people who are interested in the world but would not
style themselves as intellectuals or academics. And that’s when one is using the power of journalism. There has to be a public function to journalism. We should give the public what it wants to know but also what it needs to know. That’s what makes a democracy work - an educated citizenry.” In your new PBS program, Foreign Exchange, you’ve planned an interesting mix of analysis from known pundits and on-the-ground reportage through your network. How are you pulling it off in practice? “The basic idea is to bring the world to Americans, so we will have almost no Americans. We’ll discuss democracy in the Arab world but, for a change, with Arabs. We’ll discuss immigration with Latin Americans. We’ll discuss outsourcing with Indians.” Who do you think, in the ﬁelds of the arts, business, science and politics are leading members of the global Indian diaspora, what we call Bollystan? “There are so many now. But I think the most signiﬁcant recent shift has been that Indians have reached the top even in highly traditional professions like ﬁnance and consulting: the leading examples are Vikram Pundit, Victor Menezes, Rajat Gupta, Arshad Zakaria (my brother), all of who were at one point in the last ﬁve years running vast multi-billion dollar business in the world of Wall Street.” What are the values you brought with you from India? What are the values you respect in the US? You’ve been touted as the ﬁrst possible Muslim Foreign Secretary in the US, mnaybe even the ﬁrst non-white US President. What are your political aspirations? “I don’t have any. I’m happy doing what I’m
ag_Fareed Zakaria doing now. As for values, I think they are mostly universal values - hard work, persistence, courage, honesty, fair play. I’m sure I fall short every now and then but those are my goals.” What do you carry with you when you travel? “I carry sound-reducing earphones, which are a life saver to anyone who travels a lot. Plus books, lots of books.” What are you listening to on your i-Pod? “A strange mix: books, poetry, opera, jazz, reggae, and old Bollywood songs that I grew up with.” What is your favourite food? “All food. But probably French, Italian, and Indian are my favourites.” What inspires you? “The example of so many people out there working in poor countries to improve conditions in those societies. In an age of false celebrities, they are true heroes.” Who is your favourite author? “I can’t say I have a single one. Alexis de Tocqueville, the French observer of the United States is probably right up there.”
The International Herald Tribune has opened a new Asia bureau in Hong Kong, refreshing
news to an industry in which news budgets are being cut in favour of ﬂuff. David Lague, former managing editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review, and The Guardian’s Amelia Gentleman cite this as just the beginning of newspapers’ Asia expansion. The growing Asian market economy has no doubt prompted the move, keeping the International Herald Tribune well-placed as we watch with fascination the Ascent of Asia. With correspondents in Delhi, Bangkok, Beijing and Mumbai, the IHT has put itself on the map, as a news leader in the turf war currently underway in Asia for a bigger piece of a rapidly growing market. The IHT boasts more daily circulation in the region than any other international newspaper and a 20% increase in senior business readership on the latest Asian Business Readership Survey. In a year that marks their 25th year of operation in Asia, they intend to respond to this reader demand by investing in their local coverage and opening new print sites.
If you could be anyone who would you be? “Probably myself. I’d like parts of other peoples’ lives but I wouldn’t want to give up parts of my own, like my family.” What of Naipaul’s assertion that multiculturalism is a racket? To what extent is cultural chauvinism a good thing? “I’m not sure what Naipaul was referring to: the multiculturalism-grievance industry which is a racket, or to multiculturalism itself. I don’t like chauvinism or even cultural coherence. I ﬁnd it boring and dull, and when it isn’t that, it verges on arrogance and racism. No, I like the mongrelisation of cultures, the mixture, the great noisy melange of peoples from everywhere. That’s what produces ferment, progress, and that’s what makes life exciting.” What couldn’t you live without? “My kids.”
Those of us who view the Internet as the most effective and easily available means of doing
nothing whilst making it seem legitimate may become unsettled by ﬂavourpill.net. The weekly online magazine is artfully designed to re-awaken its 25- to 34-year-old demographic to the idea that doing things has become ‘doable’. It is an unsung oracle of all things hip and interesting in the ﬁve cultural capitals – New York, London, San Francisco, L.A. and Chicago Offering insight into a diverse list of cultural activities, Flavourpill provides clear and refreshingly down-to-earth reviews of all things interesting, be it a six-week pole-dancing course in Islington, or a more subdued Play Without Words in L.A. The magazine offers up a choice platter for the connoisseur of the cultural zeitgeist, and the postmodern palate is left most satisﬁed. If you have a sweet tooth for the arts then Flavourpill will go down easy.
Loved up in
Five years ago, Kevin Roberts, CEO of awardwinning advertising agency Saatchi and Saatchi, set out to answer the question that had dogged him for years: what makes some brands inspirational, while others are just… there? Roberts came up with Lovemarks: brands that we embrace wholeheartedly, emotionally, and feel that we can never replace. For some it could be the Nike trainers they religiously buy every time a new style emerges; for others it’s the HP Sauce they slather over their Saturday morning fryup. Whatever the brand, Roberts conﬁrms, it’s purely an emotional thing: “Lovemarks reach your heart as well as your mind, creating an intimate, emotional connection that you just can’t live without.” With our hearts sometimes winning out over our minds, consumer loyalty is winning out over expensive and sometimes downright unintelligible ad campaigns. As Roberts points out, respect is a key factor for most of us when it comes to choosing our favourite brands. When a brand gains our respect, it begins to build an emotional dependence, thereby guaranteeing lifelong loyalty from consumers. Could this be the reason behind brands such as Adidas and Puma enjoying massive proﬁt increases since re-releasing socalled ‘old school’ designs? Many young consumers spend thousands of , pounds on 80s-style sportswear because they are making
WHY SOME BRANDS CAN COMMAND LOYALTY BEYOND REASON by CHARISSE KENION
emotional connections with the past, instead of wearing technically perfect but bland massproduced items.
Nominate your Lovemark at www.lovemarks.com
What makes a Lovemark? According to Roberts, the key ingredient is mystery: as with all great relationships, once you know everything, there’s not much else to discover. Mystery keeps us guessing and always wanting more. The second ingredient is sensuality. When selecting one brand over another, all ﬁve senses come into play. So even if something is ‘newer’, ‘better’ or even ‘cheaper’, we will base our decision on which one appeals directly to our senses. Finally, what really keeps us choosing Prada over Gucci is intimacy. For a brand to become a Lovemark it needs to cater to consumers’ individual aspirations and desires. While nonbelievers may question the theory that love should have anything to do with choosing a pair of shoes and should be reserved for our fellow human beings, one thing’s for sure: brands may come and go, but Lovemarks are for keeps.
AND THE PROSCENIUM This April sees the culmination of a sevenyear labour of love for renegade marketeerturned-theatre producer, Michael E Ward, when his musical adaptation of MM Kaye’s bestselling novel of Raj-era romance and imperial politics, The Far Pavilions, premieres in the West End. Palash Davé meets a thoughtful cultural entrepreneur.
Cast members Gayatri Iyer and Hadley Fraser
Sophiya Haque, one of the stars of The Far Pavilions in her dressing room at London’s Shaftesbury Theatre.
ag_The Far Pavilions On a midweek March afternoon I’m greeted by Michael Ward at the stage door of London’s Shaftesbury Theatre, on the border of Bloomsbury and Covent Garden. No cigar-toting impresario, this genteel and softspoken Scot escorts me through the stage wings, past a bier where a papier-mâché
corpse lies ready for immolation. “That’s how you’d have ended up,” quips Ward who, when I ﬁrst met him, had taken one look at my bearded and be-locked mug, and invited me to audition for the part of the exquisitely villainous Rana of Bhitor. (I was beaten to it by Kulvinder Goodness Gracious Ghir.)
“...I’m guided up to the dress circle, past a white-shifted Sophiya Haque (the ﬁlm-actress, dancer and MTV anchor playing the scheming Rana’s courtesan-turned-queen) who is also engrossed in Fraser’s performance. There is, in the air, the traditional intoxication of a musical-theatre piece in rehearsal a week before previews...” 88
ag_The Far Pavilions Led through the auditorium to the gods, I’m captivated by the sound of a forceful and freshfaced tenor, face down centre-stage, in front of a gilded palanquin on this spare, elegant set, rehearsing with the newly-installed orchestra. Hadley Fraser had raised eyebrows as Marius, romantic hero of the West End’s most critically respected musical, Les Miserables. He turned down subsequent lead roles from impresario Cameron Mackintosh and held out for the musical-theatre performer’s ultimate prize - a major new character to create. He’s found a particularly distinctive one in Ashton PelhamMartyn, the culturally-hybrid protagonist of The Far Pavilions who’s orphaned in infancy and brought up as ‘Ashok’ by his Hindu ayah and his Muslim protector. He is later incompletely reprogrammed back in the mother country as a British ofﬁcer, and returns to India where he ﬁnds his childhood playmate has blossomed into a beautiful political pawn of a princess.
Children. Kaye’s work was the most popular of these, with 15 million books sold worldwide, and an arch HBO TV adaptation (aired in Britain by the ﬂedgling Channel 4) starring Omar Sharif, John Gielgud and (to Kaye’s consternation) a blacked-up Amy Irving. But it was also the least critically respected,
I’m guided up to the dress circle, past a white-shifted Sophiya Haque (the ﬁlm-actress, dancer and MTV anchor playing the scheming Rana’s courtesan-turned-queen) who is also engrossed in Fraser’s performance. There is, in the air, the traditional intoxication of a musical-theatre piece in rehearsal a week before previews, and a month before premiere. Turning back to Ward, I see a dream-weaver’s twinkle in his eye. MM Kaye’s epic novel of love, loyalty, intrigue and adventure (your mother almost certainly possesses a copy) emerged at the beginning of the Raj cultural wave of the late ’70s to mid-’80s, which gave us The Jewel in the Crown (Granada’s iconic TV adaptation of the Raj Quartet novels written by Kaye’s literary agent, Paul Scott), the David Lean ﬁlm of A Passage to India, Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi, and Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s
Hadley Fraser, one of the stars of The Far Pavilions
inviting more comparisons with Gone With The Wind than with Kaye’s beloved Kipling. Her astute Guardian obituarist called Pavilions “a work of folk art from a vanished culture, permeated with loss. It is a magniﬁcent hybrid
ag_The Far Pavilions “And because places like Kandahar, Peshawar and Kabul were in the news, I was inspired both by a contemporary resonance and by the roots to this story. I remembered the editor of the Washington Post, when the novel came out, saying that it gave him an insight into the complexity and the troubles of that region the North-West frontier of the Indian part of the British Empire.
Gayatri Iyer, starring in The Far Pavilions
- the history is Raj patrician, the melodrama Bollywood, the detail Anglo-Indian.” And yet the novel, written between 1962 and 1977, was no mere exotic-Orientalist confection. It was rooted in a distinctive historiography of Empire, and came on the heels of Kaye’s 1957 novel, The Shadow of the Moon, which had been informed by her close reading of Indian Mutiny trial transcripts fortuitously discovered in a friend’s outhouse. Indeed, Michael Ward was gripped by the fact that this was an intensely-researched piece of work, and intrigued to discover that the love story had been superimposed over historical events - most notably those that took place between the Sepoy Uprisings of 1857-58 and the second Afghan War, which began in 1879.
“I was intrigued by the fact that the novel is set at the beginning of the end of the Raj. I thought Molly Kaye set it there on purpose to show how the cracks in the Empire began, and where it was to lead, with divorce in 1947. The folly of empire struck a chord… and another contemporary story in the news made me think of this project more deeply - the accusation that the intelligence reports on which the British government based its decision to invade Iraq were sexed up. Because in this story the hero, Ashton PelhamMartyn, falls foul of the brass hats… because he says there is no reason to believe that the Russians would ever invade India through the Afghan passes. In this case the intelligence ofﬁcer comes back, and his intelligence is not sexy enough for the authorities to achieve their aims, so they remove him, send him off to Rajasthan, and go in boldly and blindly to achieve pre-set objectives. And I think it’s a job of artists to show that can happen, did happen and happens now. “I don’t think any contemporary artists who are working on this - like the director, Gale Edwards, or the set designer, Lez Brotherston, or indeed the writer Stephen Clark - none of us are driven, our passions are not ignited, by the mere fact of romance or exoticism. That has to be there if one is presenting a production in a commercial theatre, a piece of mainstream entertainment. But also we’re driven by the depth of the back-story.”
ag_The Far Pavilions Indeed Gale Edwards (in the Trevor Nunn mould, a respected theatre director who’s turned hand and brain to quality popular musicals - most recently, a politicised Jesus Christ Superstar and Whistle Down the Wind in the West End) mounted a production last year, in her native Australia, of Eureka, an account of a colonial uprising that was to preﬁgure that country’s movement toward nationhood. Beyond Kaye’s own implicit critique of empire, both Ward and Gale bring to this adaptation their own historical and politicalallegorical ﬂavourings. “The politics of the Great Game back then seem to be the same as the politics of the Great Game right now,” argues Ward. “Then it was the competition with Russia and other emerging empires for dominance in world trade. And it seems to me that the beneﬁt of ‘enforcing democracy’ in the Middle East is to create markets for the American economic machine. They need more markets to sell their goods, and more markets that respond culturally to the superpower. I don’t see a lot of difference between the dynamics of what was happening then politically - which was driven by economic desire, and fuelled by paranoia - and paranoia being used now as a means to achieve an economic end.” The show’s foregrounding of contemporary political resonances and historical context was enhanced by some of its departures from the novel (approved by MM Kaye, who in her nineties gave Ward the stage rights, and was consulted on the adaptation). Ward and writer Stephen Clark “created a character in this show called Captain Harkness, who says much more than any of the characters in the novel. We go a lot further which I think we have to do in theatre - to create a character that held fundamentalist beliefs. He is a Christian in the time of Empire who is in a position of power. And he believes that the best way to use that power is to convert everyone to his culture…. And we did that because we feel that that sort of fundamentalism is also reﬂected today. At the beginning of the Raj in 1857, what for 250 years had been a trading relationship with India
suddenly became more ideological, more dogmatic. And the divisions between the Christian West and the Hindu and Muslim East were pointed up socially, and led to a breakdown in what was - for the most part - a functioning trading entity. The dogma is what brings it all down.” Ward’s own early business career is suggestive of his overwhelming interest in promoting cultural open-mindedness over chauvinist dogma. As a young postgraduate in International Marketing in 1984, he won the Lord Mayor’s scholarship for a paper on trade with the Iran, ripe with its status as an international pariah. “Based on the sort of marketing intelligence that I was trained to gather, I thought there was a way for a British company to trade with Iran in spite of circumstances, so I wrote my thesis on that. The panel of twelve didn’t expect me to actually go. I went, and proved my thesis by selling half a million pounds’ worth of goods in two weeks.” Ultimately Ward tired of “business for business’ sake,” and a chance meeting with the composer of the show, Philip Henderson, led him to decide “that I would take a leap into business for art’s sake. That would mean the commercial theatre.” Last summer, Ward presented a seminar at the UBS Bank’s Geneva-based cultural think-tank, on ‘The Resurgence of India in Western Media’. It was “an analysis of what’s going on and why. It covered ﬁlms like Bend it Like Beckham, but also went back to ﬁlms like Gandhi,” chronicling the move from “British ﬁlm-makers making ﬁlms in India to Indian ﬁlmmakers, now, making ﬁlms about being Asian and British in Britain. I think every twentyﬁve years another generation’s going to discover something interesting about India or South Asia to write about, or create drama about.” “What I think we might be a part of, in The Far Pavilions, is the emergence of British South Asian supporters of arts - businesspeople from a wide spectrum of backgrounds, who both identify with the theme of double identity, and also wish to play a part in mainstream British cultural life.
ag_The Far Pavilions Ward has, indeed, a birthright to British-Asian status. Like Molly Kaye, Ward was born in India (on a tea plantation in Assam), and wrenched back to Britain aged nine for an urban education, in his case by Benedictine monks on the shores of Loch Ness. Just as Molly and her sister Betty (they spoke Hindi before they learned English) were unaware of not being fully Indian (“I never thought for a moment,” she wrote, “that I was not one of them, I was merely a member of a different caste in a land full of castes,”) so Ward declared - when told, aged nine, that his beloved ayah from Shilong would not be allowed to go to Scotland with him - that he didn’t want the British passport his parents had, with some difﬁculty, procured. When John Whitney (then a member of Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s company, and now of Ward’s) advised newcomers Ward and Henderson to apply their artistic skills to a “really big commercial idea,” Ward’s wife Elaine promptly plucked The Far Pavilions from her bookshelf.
They have facilitated three quarters of the [£4 million] ﬁnance of this production, and I think that’s unique. To put on theatre you have to be absolutely passionate about it, and I found that these groups and individuals, a couple of whom [property developer Reita Gadkari and Zuma’s restaurateur Arjun Waney] are our co-producers, shared that passion. It’s a group that I have enormous personal afﬁnity with, because I feel like a British Asian. It’s not surprising for me to ﬁnd allies in these communities. But it is the ﬁrst time that all of us are bringing to fruition a mainstream project, aimed at the general British public.”
“When I started to read it,” Ward recalls, “I got very very excited. From the ﬁrst sentence: ‘Ashton Hilary Akbar Pelham-Martyn was born in a camp near the crest of a pass in the Himalayas.’ That hooked me, because I was born within sight of the Himalayas, and I felt like an Ashton Hilary Akbar Pelham-Martyn. We wrote off speculatively to MM Kaye’s publishers, not knowing whether she was alive and kicking and willing to part with the rights. And back came an invitation about three weeks later to meet her. It was the ultimate coldcall.” Molly Kaye died in January 2004. She and Ward had become such fast friends in her last six years that her family nominated him to write her obituary in the Independent. At the musical’s April premiere, the best seat in the house will be roped off for a special guest. “I don’t mind telling you,” Kaye had said shortly before the end, “that if I should fall off my worldly twig before the curtain is up, I shall make an awful nuisance of myself in the next life unless I am allowed back to see it run!
Black on Brown
FARAH DAMJI TAKES ANOTHER LOOK AT DENNIS MORRIS’ IMPORTANT WORK IN SOUTHALL, A HOME FROM HOME
, , Dennis Morris’ pictures of Southall captured a moment in the late 70s and early 80s when having coloured people on ﬁlm was not hip, trendy nor politically correct. His documentation of life in Southall amongst the Sikh community in his trademark style of honest reportage makes for the only body of work which documents that time and place in Britain’s social history. It was around the time of ‘bussing’, when local councils were illegally ferrying Asian kids to schools far from home in order to keep the numbers of white and ‘other’ kids equal
and controlled and within their acceptable quotas. This was devastating to the community as a lot of young children were forced onto the streets and to travel for lengthy periods during the day. “It was a fascinating experience at the time, it was a project, I couldn’t envisage what the outcome would be as there was no outlet, at that time. The Arts Council became involved but what I found was not politically correct.” The Southall project started as an idea in Morris’ mind when he was passing through on
the way home from somewhere, but it was two years before he started going there regularly to sit in the cafes and the pubs and become part of the local scenery. This noninvasive way of blending in made Southall’s residents interested in what he was doing, and so they began to approach him. He still gets feedback from the exhibition, which was in 2000. A set of prints was acquired for the Gunnesbury Park Museum with a grant from the Lottery Heritage Fund for their South Asian Archive Project. People started to get in touch with Morris and tell him that they knew people in the photographs; the old
man was someone’s father, and the bride had been someone else’s sister. In a way the exhibition brought the experiences of the ﬁrst generation home to the second- and third-generation Sikhs living in Southall. They had all heard the stories of the sweatshops, living in one crowded room, and the experiences their parents had had as new immigrants but somehow, when they were able to actually see the pictures, it all came to life and was made real. He worked with a Leica 35mm, a professional’s camera but without the Fleet Street snapper’s proﬁle of an Olympus or a
IN A WAY THE THE EXPERIENCES GENERATION HOME THIRD- GENERATION
Hasselblad. This too increased his approachability and the friendly factor; soon people started to ask him to take their photograph and Southall, a Home from Home started to take shape. He could doorstep them on their doorsteps. Morris was born in the West Indies and came to the UK with his mother. He grew up in Hackney and joined the St Mark’s Choir, as a boy. One of the patrons of the church was a Mr Patterson,
a local camera dealer, who ran a photography club for the boys. Morris describes watching one of the older boys developing a print in the dark room: “for me it was magic. I knew from that moment on I wanted to become a photographer.” He has always been interested in reportage photography, in the style of Magnum, and he cites inspiration from great masters such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and Richard Avedon. His instant, accessible style soon became popular and allowed Dennis
EXHIBITION BROUGHT OF THE FIRST TO THE SECOND- AND LIVING IN SOUTHALL
to get close to and capture many of the cultural icons of the age, including Bob Marley and Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols. His book, This Happy Breed, was published in 2001; it captures life in Britain undergoing signiﬁcant social change. The title is taken from a Noel Coward play about post-WW2 life, when Britain’s class system was being eroded and the lower classes had access to a lifestyle normally reserved for the middle class and the upper class. Pictures of Brighton, Dalston and the East End capture
an essential English quirkiness. This is a theme Morris used earlier in the Southall pictures; a young Sikh boy is dressed in a frilly dress shirt and a traditional pointed turban – he was the visual and cultural point where East meets West on Southall High Street. “That is my favourite picture from the series,” he says. “I still have it hanging up in my home.” Dennis Morris has just returned after spending some time with the Aborigines in their own environment, and is in discussions
BRITAIN’S CLASS SYSTEM WAS BEING ERODED AND THE LOWER CLASSES HAVE ACCESS TO A LIFESTYLE NORMALLY RESERVED FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS AND THE UPPER CLASS
about mounting an exhibition of that body of work with a major gallery in London. “I have travelled and lived all over,” he asserts. “In the US they might work together but you rarely see a mixed couple on the street. The US is far more racially divided. We have become more tolerant over the years and begun to understand each others’ cultures. Compared to Australia this country is much better to immigrants and other societies.” There are parallels in West Indian society and in Asian society, in terms of political under-representation, the fusion of cultures and the way music has crossed over: “Asian kids are really into reggae and rap and vice versa; black kids love the bhangra movement and have sampled it within their own music.” Where does he see West Indian kids heading now? Is there a need for specially segregated
schools, to cite Trevor Phillips’ recent suggestions? “Trevor Phillips creates a bigger problem by this idea. The real problem is that the new generation of black kids are not being kept under control by their parents,” and he has experience on that front, with his oldest hitting twenty and his youngest just ten. “There has been a breakdown of discipline within the home; lots of West Indian kids are not being brought up with strict West Indian traditions, and it’s what’s being lost that is creating this problem in the schools.” Dennis Morris lives in the heart of London, in Marylebone. When asked if he feels British, which is becoming the question du jour, he states triumphantly and deﬁnitively: “I feel Dennis!” “I would like to photograph myself. I haven’t yet seen a picture that captures me. Photographers get intimidated because of who I am. I’d like to photograph Kevin Spacey too, in a reportage way that captures the other side.” Dennis Morris’ photographs have always been about capturing this “other side”, and as such have lead him to become a leading proponent of the historical documentation of important sections of Britain’s social history. “I see being a photographer as being a historian,” he says. “All my pictures are my favourites; I can remember every single moment of every single frame.”
Plant Culture KONNIE HUQ LAUNCHED PLANT CULTURES, a new online exhibition which outlines and illustrates Britainâ€™s age-old romance with all things South Asian, for Kew Gardens. This is seen as an important exhibition to extend the knowledge of the everyday use of plants from the subcontinent in our lives.Tea, sugar, indigo, curry powder, henna, and many more plants from South Asia: in learning more about them we open up the gateways to a fascinating myriad of stories and legends, as well as learning about some of their medicinal uses. THE POOR MANâ€™S CONDIMENT Peppercorn rent is derived from the high price of pepper during the Middle Ages in Europe, where it was accepted instead of cash. Pepper comes from Kerala and Malabar and has many uses in ayurvedic medicine, for diabetes, piles, anaemia and digestion. PAISLEY PATTERN The shape of the mango inspired the paisley pattern. It came to Britain via the East India Company, when the shape was seen in Kashmiri shawls. It became popular after the introduction of the Jaquard loom which enabled the mass production of fabric. The mango is the national fruit of India and is often used to make chutney which accompanies curry. Fossil records found in India, Myanmar and Bangladesh date back 25 - 30 million years. HIGH PRICE SPICE Cardamom is the third most expensive spice after saffron and vanilla.
POPPY FIELDS The Opium Poppy is used for a range of medicine, drugs such as codeine and morphine, and for illegal drugs such as heroin. The seeds are eaten in baked goods such as poppy-seed bread.
A CUPPA CHAI Tea is considered the most important nonalcoholic beverage in the world. Over three million tonnes are grown each year. No-one knows the exact origins of tea or whether it was originally a cultivated or a wild plant. Camellia Sinensis var Assamica is native to Assam, Sri Lanka, Laos, Cambodia and southern China.
BLUE REVOLUTION Workers on Indigo plantations played a key role in the battle against Britain for Independence. Gandhi led the battle for their rights. Indigo was once used to colour denim jeans but has largely been replaced by synthetic colouring.
CAN YOU STAND THE HEAT? Chilli peppers are measured in Scoville Heat Units, named after Wilbur Scoville who invented a test to measure how hot chillies could be. On his scale a sweet pepper scores 0, a jalapeno pepper around 3 000 and a Mexican habanero a tongue-scorching 500 000. Chilli peppers come from the same family as the tomato and potato. The Latin name capsicum comes from a Greekbased derivative of kapto meaning â€˜to biteâ€™. Capsicum contains compounds used in Western medicine in preparations to treat coughs, muscle pains, joint pains, as well as cosmetics.
OUTSIDE AND IN OUTDOOR FURNITURE HAS COME A LONG WAY FROM GENERIC TEAK AND UBIQUITOUS DECKING. LAURA WEIR BASKS IN SOME OF SPRING 05’s HOTTEST OUTDOOR DESIGN HIGHLIGHTS.
Colourful ceramics are cool this season and Italian designers Missoni, famous for their knitted multicolour fashion, have launched this beautiful tea set. The Margarita cup available at Harrods and Selfridges.
Lighting sets the right mood inside and out: the sexy Swan Neck Light adds some cost effective chic. £15, available from www.baileyshome andgarden.com
This lovenet chair by exterior/interior is designed by Ross Lovegrove. Ideal for the garden, it is made from stainless steel and polyethylene webbing to ensure that it is a hardwearing chair that will last you longer than one season. With its built-in table it makes relaxing that little bit easier.
Recently showcased at the New Designers 04 exhibition, new talent Susan Bradley and her innovative outdoor wallpaper merges the interior and exterior. Adding pretty decorative touches to an outdoor space, her range is available in a variety of colours and materials. Call 07905 484542 or see www.susanbradley.co.uk.
Grasses go wild with a selection of black grasses from the Chelsea Gardener. For a wide range of plants and equipment visit their store on Sidney Street in the heart of Old Chelsea or call on: 020 7352 5656 www.chelseagardener.co.uk
It’s all about the right tools, gardening. From their sleek ultra-modern range to the more traditional, choose from Spear and Jackson’s. There’s something for everyone, from the green-ﬁngered to the ham-ﬁsted. www.spear-and-jackson.com
In case you don’t get enough April showers, create your own; perfect for a poolside party or a refreshing spray on a warm summers day, this accessory will add the ﬁnishing touch to your summer garden. Indah outdoor shower Habitat, £250
Contemporary design company Exterior-Interior bring cutting-edge design to the garden. This drinks cooler / light box is guaranteed to chill out and light up all your al fresco lawn parties this summer. £851.88 www.exterior-interior.com call 0870 99 11 88 5.
with Charisse Kenion
My ‘date’ for this evening is Ammo Talwar: recently acknowledged by Her Majesty as being one of the top movers and shakers within the music industry and currently enjoying huge success with the exhibition From Soho Road to the Punjab. We expected wonderful things from Blue Mango, especially as certain staff members took it upon themselves to tell us just how wonderful the restaurant was and then proceeded to insult just about every other restaurant in Birmingham. After listening for nearly half an hour our mains ﬁnally arrived. The starter was a platter consisting of tandoori chicken, paneer and kebabs but was disappointingly dry and was a little on the heavy side. Ammo wasn’t too impressed when he had to go for prawns instead of the lobster he’d ordered, and didn’t seem to enjoy the meal, describing it as “too greasy”. For those who don’t know much about Mr Talwar yet, they soon will. As director of Punch, an arts organisation, Ammo is currently touring an exhibition of photography taken by Boy Chana. It’s also taking on different formats: “We will also be producing a 45 minute docu-drama on the unsung heroes of bhangra.” From Soho Road to the Punjab is full of weird and wonderful images that are bound to make some people laugh and some a little sad. And sad was how we were feeling as we set aside the remains of our meals. Not normally one to waste his food, most of Ammo’s was still sitting in its bowl. “It’s too heavy, and everything seems to taste the same.” Indeed it did seem as though the chef had added the same secret ingredient to each course, as the scallops tasted the same as the monkﬁsh curry, which tasted the same as the prawns. Fortunately the creamy kulﬁ we ordered made the best of a bad situation. Perhaps in future eager staff should let the food speak for itself.
Blue Mango, 5 Regency Wharf, Broad Street, Birmingham. Tel: 0121 633 4422
Itihaas On entering Itihaas, you could be forgiven for thinking you were dining with royalty. Itihaas reeks of subtle glamour: from the waiting staff to the coat racks, everything is beautifully discreet. And the same could be said of my dinner guest. Although I expected a little ‘artistic drama’, Adil Ray was just as entertaining as the sumptuous food. Taking out a few precious hours before rushing off to do his regular slot on BBC Asian Network radio, Adil (or should we call him Nick? More later…) said that he was conﬁdent that Desi DNA, the TV show he presents, would be taken up for a third series, but hoped that it would get an earlier time slot to reach more viewers. After discussing our various food no-no’s I entrusted the selection to Adil. We ordered some huge king prawns and minced lamb for starters. The prawns were a little bland, but the lamb more than made up for our disappointment. While we waited for our mains, Adil gave me a potted family history and told me about some (slightly) crazy fans. “One very young girl wrote to me asking if I could ‘wait’ for her.” The same teenager went on to spend a small fortune on gifts that she would hand deliver to the studio. Spooky? “We just make sure that anything like that is recorded in some way, just in case.” One thing Adil might not want recorded is his pre-Asian Network DJ name. After scoring one of his ﬁrst big breaks in radio, Adil was asked if he’d mind using a name that had a ‘wider appeal’. When he obliged, his radio bosses promptly came up with the name ‘Nick’. Hmm - catchy. Anyway, back to stufﬁng our faces. (Note to chef: quality is more important than quantity, but when the food tastes this good...) The vegetable dumplings proved very popular and just had to be followed by a dessert of warm carrot cake and almond ice cream. Gorgeous - and the food wasn’t too bad either.
Itihaas, 18 Fleet Street, Birmingham. Tel: 0121 212 3383
La Porte des Indes
Indian Cuisine with a difference
32 Bryanston St, London W1 Tel: 020 7224 0055 Tube: Marble Arch www.laportedesindes.com
Being Indian: Inside the Real India
and success. He sets out to ﬁnd where India’s strengths lie, to replace the self-image that Indians seek to project and what foreigners see. Unfortunately, he sees Indians as peculiarly prone to materialism rather than austerity, and to power rather than otherworldliness. He maintains that they love to oppress the weak and such oppressions have societal sanctions. He doesn’t regard Indians as being non-violent but as having a fear of violence, saying that through and through they are opportunists. He blames India’s lack of idealism for the present state of Indian politics. “An absence of idealism and the rank display of opportunism that very quickly became the hallmark of Indian politics were not accidental,” he writes. According to him, Gandhi’s belief that the means are important, rather than the end, “quite spectacularly failed to attract followers as the concept was alien to Indian tradition.” Much is made of Krishna’s apparent lack of moral scruples during the battle of Kurukshetra, for instance when he tells Arjun to kill the unarmed Karna, and Bhime to break the rules to kill Duryodhana.
THE TRUTH ABOUT WHY THE 21ST CENTURY WILL BE INDIAN Should you be proud of Being Indian? Of course, any Indian would say. But would you feel proud of yourself if you were told that being Indian meant being unscrupulous and materialistic, enjoying a rank display of opportunism? Pavan Varma believes India must build on its own “foundational strengths” and “tap the real strength and genius of the Indian People.” It’s especially important to do so now, when there is so much competition and India wants to pursue economics
What he doesn’t say is that it was the Bhagavad Gita, and the Krishna-Arjuna exchange, which inspired Gandhi’s morality. Gandhi once described the Gita as “not only my Bible or Koran... it is more than that, it is my mother.” Varma’s book makes for curious reading. But does it make the Indian in you feel good? It depends. Depends on whether you believe ends justify the means, depends on whether you accept hypocrisy as a way of life. For Varma’s evaluation of the forces that fuel India’s launch into the new century makes it clear that there is a lot that is unscrupulous and hypocritical in the Indian’s way of life. But that is exactly what has served him well.
Being Indian: Inside the Real India by Pavan K.Varma Published by William Heinemann £18
Husband of a Fanatic by Amitava Kumar
pleased. “The groom is from Hindustan. And he has accepted Islam,” she proudly told her friends and neighbours in Karachi. The experience scarred Kumar. He could have dismissed the whole thing as a meaningless ritual aimed at placating her wife’s family. But he kept it a secret from his family. However, he didn’t mind writing an essay making a moral case for a ﬂuid understanding of religious identity for an Indian news magazine. He just couldn’t work up the courage to tell his parents about the conversion. All he did was inform his mother about the essay. She was hurt to learn about his conversion. She wondered, when Mona was not asked by his Hindu parents to convert, why wasn’t he given the same freedom? She wrote in a letter, “don’t glorify your marriage as between a Hindu and a Muslim. It’s between a Muslim and Muslim.” Kumar does glorify his marriage. He says, “I felt good about myself for marrying ‘the enemy’. The thought gave me a small thrill. I was suddenly awash in altruism; its tepid tide cleansed me of a narrow, binding form of self-love.” A few pages later though, he attempts to rationalise his conversion as “the exploration of doubt or what I would call the beneﬁts of half-faith.”
While India and Pakistan ﬁght it out in the battleﬁeld of Kargil, an Indian Hindu man marries a Pakistani Muslim woman in America. A sweet love story, perhaps, but not unusual. Many a Hindu has married a Muslim. However, for Amitava Kumar, author of Husband of a Fanatic, the marriage didn’t sit so well on his conscience. After all, for a self-proclaimed secularist, a civil marriage would have sufﬁced in North America. He need not have gone though a Muslim ceremony. It involved his converting to Islam and assuming a Muslim name. Of course, his wife’s grandmother is
The book is full of case studies but it doesn’t give the complete, true picture. The India Kumar explores is extreme, riddled with hate, intolerance, petriﬁed Muslims and provincial Hindus reeking of bigotry. It is not ‘secular’ India; it is a caricature. In the book he picks his way through lives destroyed by hatred, and manages to alleviate his own and his reader’s gloom by drawing attention to the fanatics’ mordant eccentricities. He tries hard for balance. Packed with people’s experiences from NY to Gujarat to Bihar, it fails to tell us what the real reason might be for all this soul searching.
Husband of a Fanatic, by Amitava Kumar Published by New Press £16
Multicultural Politics by Tariq Modood
The idea for the book started in 1992 and 15 publishers rejected it before Minnesota bought it in the US and the Edinburgh University Press bought the rights in Britain. Incitement to racial hatred is a crime but there needs to be some reform and thought given to the idea of incitement to a group of people because of what society perceives them to be. I know I am stepping on very thin civil liberties ice here, but if this constant erosion and persecution of a group of people within our society is allowed to continue, can I ask what we might have learned from Bosnia, Iraq and Hitler? Nothing, it appears.
TARIQ MODOOD’S BOOK MULTICULTURAL POLITICS, RACISM, ETHNICITY AND MUSLIMS IN BRITAIN COULDN’T HAVE COME AT A BETTER TIME. WITH ISLAM’S STATUS CONFIRMED AS THE WORLD’S BOGEYMAN RELIGION, HE INFUSES SOME SENSE INTO THE ANTIISLAMIC CAMPAIGN OF RHETORIC WE SEE ALL AROUND US EVERYWHERE. Anti-Muslim sentiments have even entered the political fray (where they have always been, admittedly, but kept under covers) in the highest chambers of government, with the misguided Hazel Blears’ recent statements. The party line in the US behind the white picket fences of Islamophobia is even more terrifying: Rev Franklin Graham, son of George W Bush’s close conﬁdante and advisor Billy Graham, has stated: “Islam is a very evil and wicked religion.” Sounds like Salman Rushdie could have written that himself.
Modood argues that it’s not as simple as black and white anymore; cultural and secular racism come into play, particularly with large numbers of Muslims forming a new middle class and entering into higher education. There are plural divisions actively at force within society and, against a background of using liberalism and secularism to disguise racism, singular monastic viewpoints have increasingly been challenged. Race is a key question when considering what it means to be British today, and so too is religion. The younger generation of British Muslims claim their religious identity ﬁrst and foremost. They do not feel particularly British, and Islam gives them something and nurtures them in a way that British society has apparently failed to do. Put on the jackboots of democracy, read this brilliantly written, fact-ﬁlled and hard-hitting insight into the state of our religious and democratic affairs and kick the race and religion bigots in the head.
Multicultural Politics by Tariq Modood Edinburgh University Press £17
MISTAKEN IDENTITY OR SIKHS IN THE CITY
“You saw the original version of Mistaken Identity in London at the Nehru Centre on 7th February - but you wouldn’t believe the amount of dissent and controversy from the ﬁrst generation of American Sikhs on the East Coast at a sneak preview. They hollered, “this is the most anti-Sikh ﬁlm we have ever seen ... showing our daughters marrying
IT’S A WHOLE DIFFERENT STORY TRYING TO SHOW ASIANS LIVING OVERSEAS IN POSTITIVE LIGHT white Americans!” I told them, “after living in America for over one hundred years, these scenes show assimilation ...second and third generation children of Sikh parents are crying out to be
Americans.” I had to make two or three edits (at my own expense) taking out the wedding scenes completely ... and the Sikh women’s liberation story ... and edit out another scene where a Sikh businessman remarked, “You are showing us as a tribal race.” I had to remove him from 25 places in the ﬁlm, and return his donation of $25 000. Many commented that they did not like the tying turban in the African style, the British style, demanding that they be taken out of the ﬁlm. Others tried to get an injunction on ‘no cut hair Sikhs’, or the ‘Americanised’ Sikhs. I told them: “go ﬂy a kite.” It’s a whole different story trying to show Asians living overseas in a positive light, resulting in sleepless nights, and no promised cheques arriving...” Vinanti Sarkar, ﬁlm maker, New York, March 2005
Ashley Walters, aka Asher D of So Solid Crew, has more than 21 seconds or even ﬁve minutes of fame in his ﬁrst 90-minute feature ﬁlm. Set on a
BULLET BOY EXISTS IN A VOLATILE WORLD WHERE FRIENDSHIPS AND LOYALTY ARE TESTED TO THE LIMIT. Hackney housing estate, Bullet Boy is the story of a young offender determined to go straight; yet like so many, he heads straight for trouble. A ﬁght
with a rude-boy gang with whom he has a history causes Ricky (played by Asher D) to fall back into his old ways. Ricky is idolised by his younger brother Curtis; will the twelve-year-old be smart enough to steer clear of the path that wronged his older brother? Bullet Boy exists in a volatile world where friendships and loyalty are tested to the limit. The ﬁlm, shot over a critical three day period, follows the brothers on an emotional journey exploring the devastating effects of UK gun crime, and the brutalities of fate and consequence. Bullet Boy, Released 8th April
ANDREW AND JEREMY GET MARRIED
Andrew was a gay-bashing South London bus driver with heroin dealing convictions. Jeremy was a public schoolboy, the son of an army
IT IS THE FIRST DOCUMENTARY ABOUT HOMOSEXUAL MARRAIGE EVER TO RECEIVE THEATRICAL RELEASE major, intellectual and posh. They are both gay and met in the notorious gay bar The Bromptons Club, Earls Court. Their subsequent
love and marriage is the subject of Dan Boyd’s feature-length documentary out at the end of this month. The ﬁlm, which has been shown at the Toronto Film Festival and received a standing ovation, explores wedding nerves, true love and gay marriage. It is the ﬁrst documentary about homosexual marriage ever to receive theatrical release. A simple, heartwarming tale.
Andrew and Jeremy Get Married, Released 29th April
CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA
Screened at last year’s Raindance Film Festival, Chicken Tikka Masala has won critical acclaim. Produced by 18-year-old Roopesh Parekh, Masala is the ﬁrst feature ﬁlm ever to be ﬁlmed and produced in Preston.
CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA IS THE STORY OF ARRANGED MARRAIGES AND INTERRACIAL RELATIONSHIPS Starring Chris Bisson of East is East, Sally Bankes of Coronation Street and Saeed Jaffrey of My Beautiful Laundrette, Chicken Tikka Masala is the story of arranged marriage and interracial relationships. Jimi Chopra (played by Bisson) is soon to be married to a respectable Gujarati girl, the only daughter of an old family friend of the Chopras. However, there is an underlying secret, including the paternity of an eight-year-old called Hannah and the truth about Jimi’s real true love, Jack. Can there ever be happiness in the Chopra household again?
Chicken Tikka Masala Released 22nd April
Dance Akademi SARAH BASSEY LEAPS INTO THE FAST-MOVING WORLD OF INDIAN DANCE IN BRITAIN AND FINDS THAT IT’S CATCHING A WHOLE NEW LOOK AND AUDIENCE…
ag_Dance Akademi Like Jeyasingh, Keith Khan has won critical acclaim and awards for his performances and choreography. Critics can’t stop raving about his work. Jann Parry of the Observer says Khan has attracted attention ever since he toured as a youngster with Peter Brook’s epic production of The Mahabharata. “I saw him in it at Glasgow’s Tramway Theatre and have followed with fascination his development into an exceptional performer and choreographer with his own company,” she writes. Khan invokes such conﬁdence in the arts circle that Brian McMaster of Edinburgh Playhouse took a risk in programming his latest production Ma for a UK debut in a 3,000-seat hall. It paid off: both nights were full, thus conﬁrming Khan’s reputation. McMaster sees Ma as coming out of the New Britain, a combination of inﬂuences from East and West, classic and contemporary, which appeals to varied audiences. Khan feels the same. Though the sounds in Ma seem essentially Eastern, the score is by an Italian composer, Riccardo Nova. He makes use of Suﬁ singing, a cello, Indian percussive drums and syllabic chanting. Khan reveals, “to bring together a company of such diverse cultures, experiences and voices is a blessing for me and to the work. It is a reﬂection of what I am today, which is to be in a state of confusion: where boundaries are broken, languages of origin are left behind, and instead, individual experiences are pushed forward to create new boundaries and a singular emerging language that becomes universal to us all.” In January this year, Khan won the prestigious South Bank Show award. It was a salute to Indian performers from the British art scene. Khan, though happy to collect the award, used the platform to vent his disappointment at late recognition. But better late than never, and more and more Indian dancers are hot in his dancing footsteps. Mira Kaushik, director of Akademi, the oldest Indian dance school in Britain, has witnessed the winds of change. “Unlike in the US, where most performers are ﬁrst- generation professionals who import stuff from India, here they are third- or fourthgeneration and have created their own style.” Dance has changed alongside British society. South Asian dance has always been performed in Asian community surroundings, as the agenda of the community is to be close to their culture and preserve their identity. Many South Indian parents send their children to learn classical dance to keep them informed and interested in Indian culture and tradition. When they start going to university, they usually give up dancing. But, of late, growing numbers of the younger generation are taking up Indian classical dance as a full-
ag_Dance Akademi time profession. They are also rewriting the traditional styles and formats. In London, students also get a chance to interact with the best of Indian masters, from Birju Maharaj to Kumidini Lakhia. The Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in West Kensington also plays an important role in bringing masters and students closer. “This doesn’t happen so easily in India,” points out Kaushik. She adds, “no other city in world has creativity the way London has in terms of Indian dance. With the emergence of Jeyasingh and Khan, leaders who have created these bridges, more venues are open to Indian dancers.” Where Khan and Jeyasingh are winning critical praise, Akademi is taking Indian classical dance to doorsteps and into drawing rooms for debate, through the coverage of its extravaganzas like Escapade, which transformed the placid exterior of the South Bank Centre, celebrating South Asian dance in a storm of colour and motion. Akademi productions create a unique opportunity for experimentation and collaboration between UK-based contemporary artists and South Asian dancers, thus stretching the boundaries of artistic expression. But all this could not have been possible without government support, explains Kaushik. Kadam is another lively and successful dance development agency based in Bedford, and is funded by Bedfordshire County Council, Bedford Borough Council and Arts Council England East, with the aim of introducing South Asian dance into schools and in the community. While Akademi has become the ﬁrst ever South Asian act invited to re-open London’s prestigious Royal Festival Hall after refurbishment, Angika Dance Company’s Bhakti received a splendid review in Ballet Magazine which reads, “it is up there with the hippest contemporary choreography.” Indian dance in Britain is skipping its way to success. It is also pushing the boundaries with the massive popularity of Bollywood dancing. Bollywood dance schools are mushrooming everywhere, catering to the needs of parents who want their kids to win Boogie Woogie competitions. Watch out Madhuri Dixit: a young British Asian dance graduate could soon shimmy her way to Bollywood and dance you off your post as the leading lady of jatkas and matkas.
the meantime, I treated my face to a home tryout with several of their new products. Attractively packaged – in a sufﬁciently manly but not overbearing way – they were introduced into my morning and evening rituals about two weeks ago. As with all products of this type, how they make you feel is every bit as important as how they make you look, and on both counts I’d have to say that Elemis delivered the goods.
Skintelligence By Simon Brookes
If, in the next few weeks, you see a man striding about the streets of West London with an unfeasibly radiant complexion, that’ll be me, basking in the glow of Elemis’ new Time For Men range of grooming products. As a man who already spends more time shopping and more time in the bathroom than his wife, it didn’t take any persuasion for me to add seven new products to my already extensive repertoire of accoutrements de toilette (in my case, the term metrosexual is probably too butch). Already known for their prestigious women’s range, Elemis have spent two years researching and developing a range of products that they refer to collectively as Skin Intelligence for Men. According to their studies, the average man spends 3.1 hours a week grooming himself; more time, unbelievably, than the average woman’s 2.5 hours (and that’s not just in my house). 72% of men surveyed said they’d love to have a facial. I’ve already put my name down for the full Elemis Skin IQ treatment at their spa in Mayfair, but in
Following Elemis’ three-phase grooming programme of Cleanse, Shave and Protect, I ﬁrst primed and polished (one never just washes) my face with Deep Cleanse Facial Wash, with a pleasantly invigorating scent of Oak Bark, Spearmint and Peppermint. This was the least subtle of the range’s fragrances, but one can hardly be subtly invigorated. Then, with my skin squeaky clean, I prepared my face for shaving, with the choice of three preparations: Smooth Result Shave Oil, Ice-Cool Foaming Shave Gel or Skin Soothe Shave Gel. All three had pleasingly poetic combinations of ingredients such as meadowsweet, sweet almond, hazelnut, Chinese date, English oak and witch hazel. I’m not normally a wet-shave man, but these, combined with the balm of Post Shave Recovery Mask, left me feeling soothed rather than skinned.
Add to that the protecting and healing SOS Survival Cream which, I’m not ashamed to say, has become a constant companion in my man bag, and you’ve got a range that’s deﬁnitely going to become a regular feature on my bathroom shelf. As Elemis’ Noella Gabriel says: “men’s skin has a different structure to women’s, and if that’s the case it’s only right we have our own selection of feelgood face formulations.
COCOA THERAPY Renowned for its legendary addictive qualities, chocolate is now being used in many new beauty ranges. At the forefront is Origins’ Cocoa Therapy collection. The range uses every part of the cocoa plant and features everything from chocolate bars that promise a peaceful night’s sleep to the gorgeous Body Bufﬁng Scrub. Combined with walnut shells and apricot seeds this is pure indulgence without the calories, or the guilt. Origins, Tel. 0800 731 4039.
CHOCOLATE BODY WASH Ever dreamed of bathing in chocolate milkshake? The ultimate food fantasy can be yours with Philip B’s new Chocolate Milk Body Wash. A soothing blend of cocoa butter, oat protein and aloe, this richly scented liquid works well as a wash and even better when added to a steaming hot bath. Just remember it’s for external use only! Chocolate Milk Body Wash by Philip B at Space NK.
XXX LIP GLOSS Perfect for those with serious chocoholic tendencies, Urban Decay’s Slick Pot Gloss in Cocoa is great for weaning yourself off those Godiva trufﬂes. Apply this tasty gloss generously to lips and the sweet smell of chocolate will never be too far away - and just close enough to keep you from overindulging! XXX Slick Pot Gloss in Cocoa, £10.50, by Urban Decay.
ag_Health When you’re looking for something that delivers results but are too scared or too young to go under the knife, a Peter Thomas Roth facial might be the answer. Known for his clinical approach to skin, rather than just pampering, smelly stuff, Roth’s facials are not for those wanting to relax after a hard day’s work. Therapists ask a series of questions and then ‘diagnose’ the appropriate treatment for your skin type. The Herbal enzyme peel comes in three different versions: chamomile for sensitive types, peppermint for normal and thyme and sage for problem skin. This is a super- deep-cleansing facial and although completely chemical-free can still cause some irritation. The following day there was a slight progressive peeling, but after a few more days my skin looked and felt clearer and smoother than before. One for those who want serious results.
Herbal enzyme peel, £75 for 90 mins. SPA.NK, 127-131 Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill, London. Tel: 020 7727 8002.
A RECENT STUDY SHOWS HOW WORK CAN MAKE YOU ILL In a recently published paper Prof Kamaldeep Bhui, from Barts and Queen Mary’s School, presented disturbing evidence that racial discrimination at work has a notable impact on mental health. Racist insults and unfair treatment at work can leave ethnic minority groups twice to three times as likely to develop mental illness as their White British colleagues. Common mental health disorders are thought to account for a third of lost days from work due to ill health, with the annual cost of common mental disorders in the UK estimated to exceed £6 billion. Racial discrimination that leads to common mental health disorders can undermine occupational functioning and the economy as a whole. Using information from over 2 000 people who were in paid employment, the authors found a higher rate of perceived racial discrimination in ﬁve ethnic minority groups than in a white reference group. Black Caribbean groups reported the most job denial and unfair treatment at work, with unfair treatment carrying the greatest risk of developing common mental disorder - almost three times likelier than White British groups. Bangladeshi, Indian and Irish groups were also three times as likely to suffer from common mental disorder as a result of insults at work, with Pakistanis reporting the highest levels of insults. Over a quarter of the Black Caribbean group reported unfair treatment at work, compared to just 1.5 per cent of the White British group. And nearly a third of the Black Caribbean group reported job denial, compared to just 3.2 per cent of the White British group. Overall, speciﬁc experiences of racist insults and unfair treatment at work across all ethnic groups was associated with a twofold increase in the risk of mental health disorder.
The ‘Ethnic minority psychiatric illness rates in the community’ study, or EMPIRIC, was commissioned by the Department of Health.
From Soho Road to the Punjab Goes National AMMO TALWAR, PRODUCER OF THIS LANDMARK EXHIBITION, WRITES ABOUT THE HISTORY AND IMPORTANCE OF BHANGRA MUSIC ON THE BRITASIAN SCENE.
From Soho Road to the Punjab charts the rise and valued contribution of Bhangra music and culture in the West Midlands and beyond. For the ﬁrst time ever an exhibition exposes its cultural relevance to today’s society and maps out the unsung heroes. This exhibition has been compiled by Punch and Gurshan Chana. Born in Uganda, a three-month-old Gursharan Chana came to Handsworth in 1972. After a brief stopover at a resettlement camp near Leamington Spa, it was in Lozells, Birmingham, that ‘Boy Chana’ found his home. Soho Road was the centre of family life for many, and it was in this thriving and diverse community that his family was made welcome. Gursharan began to document the cultural and social changes happening around him through his own photography and writing. At this time he became associated with the rise of Bhangra music as he documented for the ﬁrst time the stories and personalities behind the new sound. His Boy Chana byline appeared ﬁrst with Multi Mag in 1987, and then at Eastern Eye the following year. Handsworth was almost unique in Birmingham in the 1970s; it
still had plenty of semi-skilled work to offer to those who wanted it (at least if you wanted to work hard). Handsworth - part of Staffordshire until 1911 - was an unremarkable village until 1764 when Matthew Boulton - an associate of James Watt - set up the Soho Manufactory on the Heath. Boulton was an entrepreneur, and something of an intellectual inventor. Coins, plated metal and steam engines were soon making their way from Soho to customers across the globe. In its day the Soho Manufactory was the biggest in the world, and it was a holistic enterprise, not unlike the Cadbury’s Bournbrook project over a hundred years later. Businessmen crossed Europe to see it. The site was landscaped and accommodation was built to house factory workers. In 1851, there were over six thousand people living in the ﬂedgling township and by 1911 there were nearly seventy thousand. The fortunes of the business declined, however, leaving only Boulton’s home on Soho Avenue and a variety of metal-pressing business and foundries as its legacy. European refugees and young men and women from the Caribbean Islands arrived during the Second World War, assembling armaments and munitions. They found the grand houses near the Soho Road empty; many of Birmingham’s rich and prosperous had ﬂed the city fearing bombing. With Irish and other working-class white communities already well represented, Handsworth and Lozells were vibrant with forthright, hardy and hard-working communities by the time new migrants came in the 1960s. Boy Chana was one of these - predominantly Sikh and already removed from their homeland, they carried its music in their hearts and heads. Steadily the landscape began to change; community centres, temples and late night music, dance and drinking venues appeared. Punjabi folk celebration and dance gave rise to Bhangra centres around harvest festival celebrations in April. The term Bhangra embraces a series of these folk dances including Jhumar, Luddi, Julli, Daankara, Dhamal, Saami, Kikli, and Gatka. It became natural to Punjabis that after a day sweating in the foundry a man should pass the evening singing and playing well-remembered songs by Surinder Kaur, Gurdass Mann or Kuldip Manak. Balbir and Dalbir Singh’s Bhujangy were seen as innovators, recording since 1967, and are today the longest running Bhangra act. Anari Sangeet’s seminal Mere Lus Lus was considered
risqué at the time, but its traditional handling gave it wide appeal. With tapes available in the high street, Bhangra now found its place in the home; many interviewed for this exhibition recall Dad’s Bhangra tapes next to Mum’s Hindi songs in the living room. With an audience receptive to such innovation, Bhujangy and Saathies began to further explore the use of Western instruments, principally guitars, in their music. The genuine fusion of Bhangra with rock came from local band DCS; the ﬁrst tape Boy Chana owned was Teri Shaun by DCS. Outside of Birmingham, maverick
ag_From Soho Road to the Punjab
London producer Deepak Khazanchi successfully mixed Western drums and synthesizers with traditional Punjabi instruments. Another successful performer drawn to the area was Malkit Singh. Born in India, the “Golden Voice of the Punjab” became a worldwide star after his ﬁrst, Punjabirecorded, album. Malkit and his band decided to move to the UK to further their careers, and signed to Oriental Star. In the late 1990s, Safri Boyz, Apna Sangeet and other Bhangra mainstays made determined efforts to ﬁnd lasting success outside the Asian music scene. Many felt it was only a matter of time; and when it came the breakthrough was from Handsworth - Apache Indian. His music and image had the freshness, style and cross-cultural appeal to open up the mainstream UK charts to Asian artists for the ﬁrst time. British Bhangra was by this time inﬂuencing Punjabi communities across the world, particularly in Canada and the USA. Simultaneously a new generation of US musicians were seeking to draw from sources beyond funk and R&B. Beats and rhythms sampled from Eastern musical traditions sounded new, and the driving dance drums of Bhangra were an inspired choice. A unique and pioneering facet of the Bhangra scene was the Daytimer. Analogous to live events in Northern Soul or Chicago House, Daytimers were the response by Asian youth whose music was ignored by both the UK ‘mainstream’ and the ‘underground’. These events brought young Asians and others together from across the country, and
created lucrative opportunities for DJs, bands and organisers. One of the key links in the chain was the local college, which regional promoters relied on both to distribute information and to sell tickets. Daytimers came with their own difﬁculties; young people were apt to miss school and college to attend. Temples and community leaders would frequently put pressure upon live acts to stay away and some elders even visited clubs, along with Council ofﬁcials, to help the youth prioritise their education. This backlash reached its peak in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Daytimers began to gradually die out and were replaced by nighttime events as attendees got older and expectations changed. The future may lie with successful leftﬁeld Asian super-club collectives like Birmingham-based Shaanti. These are the young Asian men and women who studied away from home and have now returned as cultural animateurs. Whilst away, they have immersed themselves in other styles and traditions of progressive Asian music as well as the contemporary inﬂuences of hip-hop and R’n’B. They have a more holistic approach to cultureclash, to technology and to the playful use of the media, wherein lies the key which may open the next door for Bhangra. The Exhibition tours nationally during the summer season at venues and melas. More information on tour details: www.punch-records.co.uk.
NEWS AND VIEWS ON THE MUSIC SCENE by DJ Pathaan
Philtre Essential Asian R‘n’B VARIOUS ARTISTS Outcaste Records
The past two years have seen Asianinﬂuenced R‘n’B grow from the underground club scene to a charttopping sensation. Now Outcaste Records prepare to truly cross this exciting new genre into the mainstream, with the release of Essential Asian R&B, a showcase of the best in young, urban Asian music. Fresh from the success of their series of Essential Asian Flavas compilations, Outcaste have created an album that showcases the scene’s up-and- coming tracks, alongside smash hits such as 2Play feat. Raghev’s So Confused and Jay Sean’s Stolen. Jay Sean has already had crossover success with his debut album and contributes the previously unreleased I’m Ready to the compilation. Fellow chart-stompers and hot production double-act The Pirates call on the vocal talents of Shola Ama to provide an answer to Mario Winans’ top selling single with the smash You Should Really Know. Further support is provided by Rishi Rich, who takes time off from producing artists including Craig David and Britney Spears to enlist the help of fellow scene stalwart Juggy D on Hum Tum. Meanwhile Bobby and Nihal favourites Rouge bring Don’t Be Shy to the mix, the track that has been on heavy rotation on the pair’s Radio 1 show for the past year. The whole brings together a selection of hits, remixes and exclusives to provide an insight into the burgeoning Asian urban scene.
NITIN SAWHNEY V2 Records
Since the release of his last studio album, 2003’s Human, Sawhney has consolidated his position as Britain’s most versatile musician with an impressive array of projects. Philtre is Sawhney’s seventh studio album in 11 years. Inspired by elements of all his recent projects, in particular his return to DJing, Sawhney collated ideas for the album over several months last year and by the time he locked himself away to record, found the music ﬂowed more easily than ever. The result is an astonishing collection of songs that take the listener on a journey through global club culture, Indian classical music, Bengali folk, traditional ﬂamenco, blues, old soul and R&B. On Philtre, drum‘n’bass beats rub shoulders with sitars, and ﬂutes ﬂoat over classical piano. Hip-hop, scratching, trip-hop, castanets and ﬂamenco guitars sit alongside hypnotic strings and funky bass lines. For vocals, Sawhney has sourced his strongest lineup to date, with Philadelphia-based Vikter Duplaix, Bollywood soundtrack star Reena Bhardwaj, Spanish collective Ojos de Brujo, Ninja Tune’s Fink and human beatbox Jason Singh joining regular collaborators Tina Grace, Jayanta Bose, Taio and the soulful Sharon Duncan, as well as the striking new discovery Jacob Golden. Even Sawhney’s mum makes an appearance on Rag Doll. Perhaps the biggest step on for Sawhney is in terms of beats. On Philtre, as on his previous albums, the songs have an intimate, emotional feel, but this time they are driven by infectious grooves, capturing the relentless energy of a dance ﬂoor. In keeping with the music, lyrically, the album is largely upbeat and optimistic.
Tank ASIAN DUB FOUNDATION EMI
Asian Dub Foundation comes back with a Tank full of social consciousness and spineshaking tunes. The different members of the group had been busy lately, working on such various projects as a reinterpretation of the Battle of Algiers ﬁlm score and an opera on Libya’s controversial icon Gadafﬁ with London’s National Opera. Far from drying up their sources of inspiration, the band created the 11-track studio album Tank. This album succeeds in ﬁnding a balance between all of the band’s inﬂuences: from classic jungle rhythms to guitar-driven melodies, from infectious bass to twisted oriental samples and energetic ragga ﬂows, the 11 tracks display an impressively cohesive sonic structure. Flyover, the powerful ﬁrst single, marks the continuing collaboration with On-U Sounds artist Ghetto Priest, chanting ragga ﬂows over a twostep beat that is already set to be a club anthem. Other standout tracks include the electronic bursts of Power Lines (featuring Mad Mike from Underground Resistance fame), the melodic horns of Hope and of course the title track, Tank, sampling actual tank drums for a concentrate of pure energy. Asian Dub Foundation still know how to make you dance and think, proving once again that you can party for your right to ﬁght for worldwide awareness.
Buddha Bar VII VARIOUS ARTISTS George V/Wagram
Whether the Buddha Bar series tickles your appetite for electronic world music or not, hundreds of thousands of people love it. Now the next installment is about to drop, Number VII; and there’s still no sign of it losing its quality fan base. This new edition may or may not be seen as a step in the right direction, depending on where your head’s at, but nevertheless is musically intriguing with DJs Ravin and David Visan compiling it together. It would have been fascinating to have been a ﬂy on the wall when the track listing was being discussed, as both DJs have used their knowledge and experience to create a musical sonic journey ranging from out-and-out chill-out to danceﬂoor beats and most genres in between, with all the tracks having a ‘world-inﬂuenced’ strand passing through them. In short, on listening to this double mix CD it would be fair to say another edition has joined the outstanding series, and the experiment of getting both residents to compile it may have paid off. But what were they thinking when they came up with the names Sarod and Sarangi for each CD?
The Rough Guide of Music to Central Asia VARIOUS ARTISTS World Music
Central Asia is a place of fantasy and imagination, from the spectacular remains of the Silk Road civilisations, to the cities of Samarkand and Bukhara, to the romance of camel trains. Musically the area is fantastically rich, despite being little known. This album ranges gloriously from Tajik rap to the Kazakhstan National Ensemble of the Presidential Orchestra, from taxi-driver favourites to the masterful instrumentals on the long-necked lutes that deﬁne the music of the region. The Rough Guide to the Music of Central Asia includes popular singers who have appeared in the West as well as a few hidden treasures. Central Asian music is fantastically diverse and this album ranges across pop, folk and traditional styles. The Rough Guide to the Music of Central Asia features such distinctive regional artists as Ari Babakhanov & Ensemble, Farzin, Edil Husainov, Kambarkan Folk Ensemble, Ayjemal Ilyasova,Yagmyr Nurgeldyev and Abdorahman Nurak.
ag_Q&A Swami Chats To Pathaan About His Hopes, Inspirations and Goals What was your big break? My big break came around 1993, producing and writing Apache Indian’s ﬁrst album No Reservations. It was a great time to experiment with our musical culture and people just loved it. We signed a record deal with Island Records, a publishing deal with Sony Music, got nominations for the Mercury Music Prize, Ivor Novellos, Brit Awards and suddenly we were in the deep end and it was like, wow, this is crazy shit!
What inspires you nowadays? Artists who live the reality that actually relates to the music they make inspire me. There is so music nowadays that is media-and PR-driven, that it don’t take a genius to spot something a bit fake. Also positive, forward-thinking people who want to make a difference in the long term and not just for a short-term quick ﬁnancial gain.
What has been the most fun moment of your working/musical career so far? The most fun moment would have to be playing at Glastonbury. I have never seen so many people gettin’ down to such diverse music in all my life! DJing is great fun, but Swami are looking forward to playing there this year as a totally live act.
Where do you see your music ﬁtting into the current scene? Swami is a combination of grunge, hip hop and bhangra, so there is something deﬁnitely a bit different from the existing scene. But we do ﬁt in with the progressive, thinking crowd who want to experience something new, real, energetic and, edgy whether they are into Linkin Park, Nas or Malkit Singh. What are you currently working on? I am working on some new tracks and mixes for the Swami album to be released on Sony BMG in India in the summer. Our sound has evolved out of the club and into a more raw, live band sound, which requires a lot of work in the studio to get just right.
Who are your gurus musically and spiritually? My musical gurus range from Jimi Hendrix, Ravi Shankar, Bob Marley to Kurt Cobain… Spiritually, I read a lot of speeches made by Gandhi, works by Kahlil Gibran and even spiritual guidance by Deepak Chopra.
What drives you musically? I am driven by the desire to express my identity as a third-generation British Asian. My life is different from the previous generation and I want my combined cultural experiences to come through in the music I make.
Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years time?
What are your areas of concern as a British Asian in the UK today? Our self-imposed restrictions on expressing ourselves openly. There seem to be a lot of British Asians living in their parents’ pockets, I’m afraid. We should be focused on the depth of our own individual real lives and needs and not try to pretend we have a parallel existence with ghetto life in the USA just for credibility. What would be your advice for young musicians trying to make it? Be who you are in your music, ’cos it will be short-lived if you don’t. Make music with passion and not just for money.
We are establishing Swami as a long-term act, because we truly believe in the honesty of the message we convey. I think there will be a lot of potential for hybrid British Asian artists internationally, and I look forward to spending more time in India, Japan and the USA. Who are your favourite Eastern and Western musicians? Eastern musicians: Rakesh Chaurasia, Laxmikant Pyarelal, Brij Bushran Kabra. Western musicians: Jimi Hendrix, Jay Z, Kraftwerk, System of a Down, Roger Troutman, Aphex Twin. Most intimate secret (that he’ll share)! I don’t know if I should tell you this, but I watch Desperate Housewives…
ag_Festivals THE WHITNEY REVELS HAS BECOME ONE OF THE MUST-HAVE INVITATIONS OF THE SUMMER SOCIAL SEASON. With savvy medianauts such as The Economist’s Vijay Vaitheeswaran, mixer of deadly South American cocktails, and Rowan Pelling, who has managed to make sex sexy to the unsexy British, as houseguests, how could it fail to be anything but a blast? Maybe Francis Wheen wasn’t too pleased to ﬁnd himself unceremoniously evicted from his lodgings at Whitney Court, some three miles outside of Hay, where the Hay-on-Wye Festival takes place this year from May 27th - June 5th. Whitney Court dons its party frock and becomes the venue for the house party and culture binge on the fringe of the Hay-on-Wye Festival, with all sorts of comings and goings during Palash Davé’s ten-day binge of culture-hungry friends, colleagues and hangers-on. Its performers have included Hari Kunzru and Gillian ‘Scully’ Anderson on decks, plus Murray Lachlan Young on the mic, with his bespoke Hay Festival version of Simply Everybody’s Taking Cocaine. Regular guests include Hugh FearnleyWhittingstall, Rose Gray, Christopher Hitchens, Margaret Attwood, Nick Broomﬁeld, Chang-Rae Lee and Sabrina Guinness. From his ex-school mates at Eton (he can’t help it, he was too young to know better) to venture capitalists, Ameet Mehta and Rana Sarkar and
a host of leggy and scantily-clad blondes who scamper along the corridors, the Whitney Revels has become one of the must-have invitations of the summer social season. Whilst Orange, The Guardian and Channel 4 all have Cannes-inspired mega-parties, everyone rushes to Whitney Court for the unending afterparty. HarperCollins, Rupert Murdoch’s publishing powerhouse, rented a minibus to ferry guests from its posh dinner to Whitney last year. Every festival needs a fringe and while the Whitney Revels doesn’t quite ﬁt that bill just yet, it’s deﬁnitely the smarter set’s salon, with its impromptu parties, dinners and talks – by invitation only, of course. Another Generation will be hosting a Hay-makingly provocative multi-coloured salon there on the evening of 3rd June, so be there or be square.
The Whitney Revels
Go West, young man, and discover the Marianne Faithful and Michael Palin are just two of the stellar cast at this year’s Salisbury Festival. For 17 days and nights, this eclectic festival which has been established for over 30 years promises to captivate the city of Salisbury again. With over 100 performances by artists from India, Australia, USA, Ghana, Tibet, Turkey and Estonia to name a selection, the festival’s long term theme is ‘Resonate’. This is the ﬁrst of four festivals under newly appointed director Joe Metcalf Shore. Two of India’s most celebrated artists, Vikram Seth and sarod player Amjad Ali Khan, discuss the art of communication through music and words. For your visual delight watch The Legend of the White Snake performed by the Beijing National Opera. The Festival kicks off on May 27th in the beautiful setting of Salisbury’s Cathedral Close with a free event of music and dance, including performances by the Tibetan Monks of the Tashi Lhunpo and stirring drumming from the Ghanaian Band Kakasitsi. There will also be an open-air screening of Ron Frickes’ brilliant ﬁlm Baraka, his journey across six continents. A new addition to the festival this year is the rich programme of ﬁlm and the visual arts, from Al Pacino’s Merchant of Venice to the Korean art-house ﬁlm Spring Summer Fall Winter and Spring.
Eastern arts at the Salisbury Festival Highlights Festival Sand Mandala - Free
Thursday 26th May - Tuesday 31st May 9.30 am – 5.30 pm daily Cathedral Chapter House The monks of the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery will be creating a sand Mandala, a painting created with millions of grains of coloured sand placed over a period of days or weeks. When it’s ﬁnished, it is swept up and taken to the river where it is poured away to represent the impermanence of all things, and to carry its healing energies throughout the world. This will happen on the morning of Wednesday 1st June.
Weds 1st June, 8pm Salisbury City Hall Mercan Dede has made quite a name for himself after his success at Rhythm Sticks Festival last year. Dede is now the leading ﬁgure in contemporary Suﬁ-inspired electronic music. Dede is joined by a contemporary whirling dervish Susheela Raman, with her gorgeous sensual voice and band.
The Genie of the Samarkand
Saturday 28th May 12pm – 2.30pm Playhouse Studio An evil Genie is taking over the sands and only Omar Khyyam and Mullah Nasrudin can stand in her way. A riveting tale bringing together the fabulous characters of Islamic literature and magic. For more information please see www.salisburyfestival.co.uk.
& ﬁnally ... by Farah Damji Assistant Police Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur was appointed the head of the South Asian Crime Unit in February 2004. According to Ghaffur, if left unchecked the problem of crime in the South Asian community “will result in a network of ghettoes… breeding grounds for yet further increases in organised crime.” Figures show a 300% increase in the number of murders involving South Asians in the last ten years and a 41% increase in drug crimes in the last ﬁve. Almost 20% of kidnappings in London last year involved South Asians. Stops under the anti-terror legislation meant that the number of searches carried out on South Asians rose 1450%. Well over 90% of these lead to no further action. In fact, if you are South Asian the chances of your being stopped and searched under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 are two-anda-half times more likely than if you are white. A British Pakistani man had his home raided in December 2004, was forced to lie prostrate, beaten up by the police and asked “where is your God now?” The summer of 2001 saw the North of England seized by rioting amongst disaffected young British Asians. Traditional Asian values were seen to be falling apart, with elders and leaders not doing enough to curb the violence and disaffection brewing within the young in their communities.The second and third generation of British Asians were not prepared to be told that they “did not belong here.” Post
September 11th, “being Asian” was put on the map again. Asian anger at home and Islamic terrorism abroad created a sense of panic and paranoia nationally. Whilst the idea of this Asian Unit is commendable, the Met have once again failed to seize the opportunity for transparency and democracy. I would have hoped that they would want to change the stereotypical views of the day, and try to work from within the community. Sadly the focus is on the leading red hot issues of the day: immigration and asylum. According to D.S. Lawrence Gibbons of the National Crime Squad, Asian gangs are obtaining British passports and using them to assist potential illegal immigrants in entering the UK. The motivation for the South Asian Unit appears to be to target South Asians as perpetrators of crime and disorder, not to protect what is becoming one of the most vulnerable communities in the UK today. Particular South Asian groups are four times more likely to be victims of racist attacks than Whites. Who’s doing something about that then? The unit cost £5 million to set up, and whilst we applaud Assistant Commissioner Ghaffur’s constant efforts to try to impose fair policing practice, this move has to be seen for what it really is; its cynical aim being the punitive policing of certain ethnic groups. Apartheid South Africa, anyone? 1950s US Deep South? This certainly isn’t a good time to be South Asian and living in London. Until the next time I feel like a rant…
Another Generation Magazine - Issue 9