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CHENNAI’S FIRST FASHION & LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE

APRIL 2010 VOL 6 ISSUE 9

Rs 40

www.ritzchennai.com

Gambler

at Heart

DIRECTOR SELVARAGAVAN

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FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK Editor & Publisher Aruna R Krishnan Editorial Consultant InkWell Publishing Contributing Writers GM Mala, Karuna Amarnath, Niren Saldanha, Mandodari, Sanjeev Nichani, Sowmiya Ashok Swetha P Venkataramani, and Vijay Saravanan Design Brandmuni Consulting Marketing Manager Praveen Kumar 9841973090 Features Photographer Arul Raj Event Photographer Johan Sathyadas Cover and Personality Photography Sunder Photography Location GRT Radisson “Yesterday I dared to struggle. Today I dare to win.” The second edition of the RITZ Diva Awards is back as the RITZ Chennai Icon Awards 2010. The ceremony itself has an expanded scope this year, with men, women and brands in the fray for the awards. At RITZ, we are all visibly excited. Although there has been some back-breaking work for all of us in the office to ensure the event is an even bigger success than last year, even as I write this editorial, I am glad the magazine has taken the initiative to honour achievers in the city. For, isn’t warm, all-around recognition just the right reward for consistent hard work and success? So, as we gear up to celebrate accomplishment and success with much revelry, watch out for the next issue of RITZ as we train the spotlights on our city’s beloved success stories—young individuals and brands who have made us proud to call ourselves Chennaiites. As for this issue, you can be sure of a wholesome, engrossing read as always. Don’t miss our in-depth cover feature with maverick director Selvaraghavan!

Cheers, Aruna R Krishnan

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PRO Nikil Editor’s Photograph Sunder Photography All Correspondence should be addressed to: The Editor, RITZ, 7th floor, Sigma Wing, Raheja Towers, 177 Annasalai, Chennai—600002. Contact No. : +91-44-42113871 / 2 Email : ritzmag@rediffmail.com or email@ritzchennai.com Owned, Edited and Published by Aruna R Krishnan from 7th floor, Sigma Wing, Raheja Towers, 177, Annasalai, Chennai—600002


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08 Bouquets & Brickbats What do you think about RITZ? 10 BUZZIN’ The city’s abuzz with activities this month! 16 UBER Live it up with these hot buys

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20 Haute Stuff Colour your home in orange, throw in some jute and more! 30 Rewind A new section awaits…

INSIDE

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INSIDE INSIDE INSIDE

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34 Personality Director Selvaraghavan in a frank and honest chat 40 Viva La Femme! Kiran Rao makes women proud… 42 In Passing Actor Vinay Pathak’s love for theatre remains intact 44 Conversations at Radisson Educationist, dancer, singer, theatre actor… Madhuvanthi Arun dons several hats! 46 Take Off Laos and Bundelkhand unravelled 54 At Home What are the Koreans in the city up to? 56 Tech Tonic Soundbars, youtube videos and hot games 58 Stagecraft A low-down on what you can do with your kids this summer 60 Indulge Holiday flicks, world movies, new releases and a house to-let!

40 RITZ assumes no responsibility for the veracity and authenticity of the advertisements published herein. Readers are requested to make appropriate enquiries before incurring any expenses or acting on medical recommendations or otherwise in relation to any advertisement or article published herein. Also views in articles published herein are those of the respective authors only. RITZ does not necessarily subscribe to these views. Edited and Published by Aruna R Krishnan from 7th floor, Sigma Wing, Raheja Towers, 177 Annasalai, Chennai - 600 002.

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64 Maincourse Italian specialties, sizzlers or brunch by the sea—take your pick 70 Snapped! Yes, we saw them around town


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BOUQUETS && BRICKBATS BRICKBATS BOUQUETS

More bouquets than brickbats, things seem to be going well for us at RITZ!

Avid Reader: Linda Davidson I am an avid reader of RITZ and I am very impressed with the new look of the magazine. The colorful pictures and the immense content make the magazine stand out. The car and restaurant reviews are my favourite sections. I wish you and your team all success.

Theatre Lover: Amit I have been subscribing to RITZ and got to see a copy recently. I must say, the magazine looks very good and has a lot of interesting sections, especially the column on theatre, which is a very nice initiative.

Of Few Words: Nirmala Ramalingam The articles are very well formatted, the pictures are extremely good, and the entire magazine is well designed.

Not So Filmi: Sudhir Kanna I am amazed by the growth of RITZ in such a short time span. The printing quality is very good and all the articles are extremely interesting. I found the Tech Tonic section very interesting. But, it will be nice if you can avoid featuring film personalities on the cover all the time.

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BUZZIN

Art / Photography

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Ayya Art Galleries will be exhibiting artist Ramesh Gorjala’s paintings from April 7 to April 22.

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A graduate of the Government College of Fine Arts, Chennai, R Magesh will present his work in a variety of mediums as well as a few installations from April 10–30 at Ashvita Art Gallery. His works are extremely contemporary and express the sentiments of today’s young generation of artists.

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From April 1–10, Vinnyasa Premier Art Gallery will present an exhibition of paintings titled Ganesha by Ritu Gupta, and from April 14–30, an All-India Artist Show is scheduled.

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Apparao Galleries will be showcasing Rehwa, a designer collection by Mira Sagar from April 6–9, and photographic/human and animal sculptures by George K from April 10– May 8.

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Head to DakshinaChitra Art Gallery from April 3–12 to check out C Karmuhilan’s art exhibition. A computer science graduate, Karmuhilan is currently working at Keane India Pvt Ltd as a software engineer.

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that offers an opportunity to own a piece of art that is functional and can be used as an everyday object. The exhibition is on view until April 24, Monday to Saturday, 10.30am to 6.30pm. Participating artists and their works are Asma Menon (mirror in wood), Biswajit Balasubramanian (ceramic mugs and wine rack holders in metal), Benitha Perciyal (lampshade in shell and acrylic), Cynthia Prabhakar (bowl in wood), Dimpy Menon (bookends in bronze), Geetha MS (trays in copper and silver-plated copper), Hemalatha S (bowls and jewellery in copper and silver-plated copper), AV Ilango (bowls in granite), Jacob Jebaraj (keychain holder in plaster of paris), Lakshmi Srinath (table in wood and canvas), Laxman Aelay (lampshade in yarn), Narayanan V (mirror in wood), Ravindran V (mirror in wood), Saravanan S (trays and jewellery in anodised copper and enamel), Suresh Kumar P (centre table in metal and glass), Shailesh Bo (candlestand, keychain holder and photo frame in papier mache), Shalini Biswajit (towel stand and trays in stainless steel), and Thejo Menon (tablemats with coasters, laminated).

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Amethyst presents an exhibition of clothes by Avadh And You from April 6–12.

Forum Art Gallery presents Functional Art, a unique exhibition

Head to the InKo Centre on Friday, April 23 for M, directed by Lee Myung-Se (2007) at 7pm. Midway through M, the novelist Min-woo types a repeated phrase on his computer. Min-woo suffers from frequent nightmares and hallucinations. This inexplicable condition affects both his personal and professional life. Soon, he cannot differentiate reality from fantasy and he often feels that he is being chased. His own paranoia leads him to a cafe in a dark, unassuming alley and there he encounters a charming young woman named Mimi. Min-woo wonders how he and Mimi are connected and he begins to trace long-forgotten memories of his first love.

OFFERS

Music/ Film

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Fitness One has introduced easy monthly installments on annual packages at all its PINK centres. Enroll with a down payment of Rs 6,999, after which you pay Rs 2,500 per month. PINK centres are at Valsaravakkam, Anna Nagar, Thiruvanmayur, Besant Nagar and Nungambakkam. Further details on 1800 425 8000. The Nungambakkam will organises boot

camps for women from April 10 to May 31. Boot camp workouts are a great way to burn plenty of calories and work your whole body in a short span of time. The camps will take place in various sessions between 10am and 3pm, the duration of each session being 40–60 minutes on alternative days, three days a week. Priced at Rs 2,000 for 12 sessions, college students can avail special discounts.

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Prana, the Thai concept spa at Asiana Hotel offers East West Blend, a 90-minute treatment valued at Rs 3,500 plus taxes, now only at Rs 2,500 (plus tax). The main ingredients are rice, which gently exfoliates the skin, promoting blood circulation to achieve a natural glow and honey, known to be associated with longevity and preserving youthfulness since ancient times. The offer is valid until April 30.

DO-IT-YOURSELF

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IIT Madras will be organising a workshop—Imaging Cinema: Emerging Trends in Filmmaking, from May 6–10 at their premises. The workshop aims to explore recent trends in filmmaking and will cater to the growing needs of independent media producers, as well as those generally interested in cinema. The last date to send in applications is April 5. An IIT Madras certificate of participation will be given to all candidates. Sessions will be conducted by experts in direction, cinematography and editing from India and Canada. The fee, excluding accommodation, is Rs 5,000 for professionals, Rs 3,500 for students (with a bonafide certificate and ID from college), and USD 200 for NRIs and foreign nationals. For further details log onto www.imagingcinema.com.

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DakshinaChitra will conduct a workshop for adults on Kalamkari on April 3 and 4 for which the entry fee is Rs 800. On April 9, 10 and 11, a workshop on Thanka Painting will be conducted, priced at Rs 2,000. APRIL 2010 | WWW.RITZCHENNAI.COM


BUZZIN

VenueS Ayya Art Gallaries

Forum Art Gallery

Ashvita Fine Art

Amethyst

33, Woods Road Contact: 42158062

11, 2nd Street, Dr Radha Krishnan Salai Mylapore Contact: 28476063 / 42109990 / 9841962481

Vinnyasa Premier Art Gallery 21/11, CIT Colony, 1st Main Road, Mylapore Contact: 32533655

Apparao Galleries

7, Wallace Gardenss, 3rd Street, Nungambakkam Contact: 28332226

DakshinaChitra

East Coast Road, Muttukadu, Contact: 27472603 / 27472783

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57, 5th Street Padmanabha Nagar, Adyar Contact: 42115596

14/30, Padmavathi Road Jeypore Colony, Gopalapuram Contact: 28353581

The InKo Centre,

Nungambakkam Contact: 28333627

Hippocampus Children’s Experience Centre

4, Old No 7, 12th Street, Nandanam, Contact: 42067159

Asiana

51,6th Main Road, Raja Annamalaipuram Contact: 24361224

1/238, Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR), Semmencherry Contact: 67411000

Pink

Taj Mount Road

37/1, College Road, Nungambakkam, Contact: 28250860 / 61

Vanilla Children Place

Ispahani Centre, Nungambakkam Contact: 42104104

Evoluzione

30, Khader Nawaz Khan Road,

2, Club House Road, Thousand Lights Contact: 66313131

Taj Connemera Binny Road, Contact: 66000000

Fisherman’s Cove

Covelong Beach, Kanchipuram District Contact: 67413333

Offers @ Hotels

The Songkran Thai New Year celebration at Silk, Asiana’s Thai specialty restaurant, on April 13 has authentic Thai specialties selected and prepared by Thai Head Chef Orasa. Enjoy the spread by the poolside with live stations and the traditional Songkran water ceremony. The dinner buffet starts from 7pm and is priced at Rs 899 nett per person.

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Hipasia at Taj Connemara marks its fifth year with an all-new menu of Thai, Malay, Japanese and Vietnamese delicacies beginning April 8. At Distil, which also turns five, there will be a weekend-long celebration from April 8-11.

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At Taj Mount Road, the lounge bar Blend has DJ Nidya from Indonesia (April 17) and DJ Sidd Rao from Chennai (April 20) playing. Kefi, the Mediterranean restaurant offers a Turkish Food Festival from April 9–18, with an a la carte menu featuring Turkish delicacies. Clubhouse has an Easter brunch on April 4.

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Taj Fisherman’s Cove’s signature restaurant Bay View serves up Barbeque By The Beach. Enjoy smoky treats with the sand under your feet, and the sea beside you. Priced at Rs 1,850 plus tax per person every Friday evening from 7.30pm to 11pm.

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ery Saturday, you can dive into a three-course chef’s special menu filled exclusively with shellfish treats, accompanied by unlimited beer and invigorating music from 9.30pm–11pm.

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e Champagne Sunday Brunch (12.30pm-3.30 pm) is priced at Rs 1,099 plus tax per person, and still bubbles over with good cheer, beers and mojitos at Seagull.

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e Zesty Tiffin Streets of India is on every Saturday for dinner at just Rs 850 plus taxes per person.

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BUZZIN

Shopping

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The philosophy of simplicity combined with effortless beauty is what Titan Obaku stands for. In a unique venture, Titan has collaborated with Danish designers to launch this beautiful collection. Obaku takes its name from a branch of Zen philosophy in Japan which believes in natural simplicity—in both thought and act.. The idea that there should be a sense of calm and balance in the items we use to adorn ourselves is what gave birth to the Obaku collection, which has inherited the best of both cultures from the East and the West, and has blended the minimalism and simplicity found in both. The collection comprises a palette of soft and soothing colours, with an uncluttered look. Priced between Rs 3,500 and Rs 7,000, it is available in 21 different styles for men and women. Available at World of Titan showrooms, select leading multi-brand outlets and departmental stores across the top eight cities in India.

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Samsung launches the ‘MystEco’ series in the Indian market. The new, stylish, feature-rich series is available in 15.6”, 18.5”, 20” and 21.5” screen sizes and offers consumers complete display solutions for their entertainment and business needs. The salient feature of the new MystEco Series TFT monitors is its power saving capabilities. The MystEco provides consumers the option of power saving with the help of one hot key through which the power consumption can be set at 100, 75 and 50 percent .The MystEco series uses least power in standby mode (0.3W) and comes with a stylish, high glossy cabinet, slim neck and an elegant design with rear wave pattern. Some of the superior performance features that make the viewing experience truly delightful include a dynamic contrast ratio of 70000:1, lateral plug-in and a 16:9 wide format panel that is ideal for multimedia content. Priced from Rs 6,350 to Rs 11,000.

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This spring season, get colourful and feel fresh and rejuvenated with the launch of Rare Prints, the SpringSummer ’10 Collection by Ray Ban. The eclectic collection features Flowers, Subway, Stripes and Ray Ban Mania and reflect one’s persona accordingly—flashy, youthful, flippant and stylish. The Subway Collection uses a New York Subway map on the frame of the Wayfarer, an urban tinge to your stylish look. The Stripes on the legendary Clubmaster are a tribute to pop art that emerged in 1950s, a perfect blend of Lichtenstein meets Nagel and could be referred to as a Warhol-inspired collection. In the Ray Ban Mania series, the Ray Ban logo has been used playfully on the Wayfarer and Clubmaster.

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Florsheim introduces its new Bologna Imperial Collection, which are chic, low maintenance and the perfect blend of style and comfort. The footwear encompasses Bologna construction, an Italian specialty where the row of stitching goes through the inside of the shoe to the outsole. The durable rugged rubber sole contributes reliable footing on a variety of surface and the heavily-cushioned sock gives additional comfort. Available in Tan and Black, and presented in slip-on and lace-up options, priced at Rs 5,495. Available at the Florsheim boutiques at Spencer Plaza, Chennai Citi Centre and Ispahani Centre, as well as all leading retail chains—Metro, Mochi, Regal Shoes, Inc 5, Lifestyle, Studio M, Kobbler, Citywalk and other select outlets across the country.

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Evoluzione presents Threads Of Freedom by Rahul Mishra. The unique Khadi collection is down-to-earth, yet fashionably modern, based on ancient crafts and yet for the woman of today. With geometric stripes and checks, classic muted colours like black, ivory, grey and indigo, using sheer fabrics with a natural look and feel, and drapes and wraps using origami techniques, the handspun organic khadi has been revolutionised. Double Ikat handwoven fabrics from Orissa have also been used in this collection. The vibrancy of colours and prints, teamed with the texturing of threads on the fabrics and an impeccable finish, have led to rustic yet contemporary garments.

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ADVERTORIAL

On Turning Chennai Diamonds celebrates its second anniversary with an exclusive exhibition/sale. Mandodari gives you the low-down…

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oing through a remarkable natural voyage, every diamond has an interesting story to tell, making this ancient element the world’s most desired jewel too. At Chennai Diamonds, Chennai’s exclusive diamond showroom, the beauty of the diamond is used beautifully in every item of jewellery to add charm and grace to any occasion. The range consists of fresh designs of necklace sets, earrings, chains, bracelets, pendants, rings, bangles, anklets, watches, belts, and a whole lot more, all of which are up-to-date with the latest jewellery trends nationwide! Specialising in made-to-order jewellery, this store with comfortable yet plush interiors is best known for their exquisite bridal collection because they take great care to customise jewellery and accessories for the bride-to-be, ensuring what they design/make matches her

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special trousseau or wedding outfit. Chennai Diamonds not only has their own breathtaking collection, but also sets trends by developing labels that boast of their own brand identity and signature style. Besides stunning designs in contemporary Indian and traditional jewellery ranging from diamond-studded rings, bangles, necklaces, pendants and pendant-sets of very fine quality and hand-picked Belgium diamonds, the store also stocks exclusive designer jewellery from Italy, Thailand and a few other countries too… little wonder then that Chennai Diamonds has caught the fancy of the city’s elegant jewellery connoisseurs. Chennai Diamonds prides itself in its legacy, with the Board of Directors— Manmohan, Rajendra Kumar and Omprakash—putting in a lot of effort to ensure customer satisfaction and to

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provide only the best to their customers. So, to add to your comfort, the store offers a 100 percent buy-back guarantee on their products. Now, shopping just became effortless as well because the store, which is located on the busy Cathedral Road, has ample parking space to ensure nothing comes in the way of your shopping experience. Chennai Diamonds’ ‘next best thing’ is the store’s Destination Diamond Jewellery, another component of the fashion industry, which will deliver fresh, enticing products, and a super-addictive in-store experience. The best part? To commemorate their 2nd Anniversary, Chennai Diamonds will organise an exhibition/sale from April 13–18 at their store, where all their best diamond jewellery will be exhibited. Do you need a better reason to shop for the most precious rock in the world?


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UBER

Braided Beauties Calonge, the last word in hand-braided leather accessories in Chennai, presents its new collection for the season. In vibrant colours in different materials, these soft bags by the luxury lifestyle brand are bound to have you looking like a million bucks. They effortlessly counter-point the magic of hand-crafted design against the mass market monotony found everywhere else. Price: Ranges from Rs 6,000 and goes upto Rs 10,800 for the collection Shop at: Calonge, Ispahani Centre, Numgambakkam High Road Contact: 28332999, info@calonge.in

Who’s ‘Watching’? Helvetica presents a whole new range of watches this season. For starters there’s the Tag Heuer Mobile / Meridiist, the black steel titanium carbide-coated version in a 316 steel case with handbrushed and polished finishing. With 60.5 carats of sapphire crystal glass on dual display screens, high quality rubber, leather and alligator back plates, worldwide GSM network compatible for best performance, bluetooth, headsets, car kits and data–exchange profiles, imaging 2 megapixels high, quality camera sensor and end–user memory (2GB). Rolex Date-Just II is another offering. With steel and 18k white gold bezel this watch has a self-winding mechanism and comes in five different dials. Breguet presents the Classique chronograph in 18 carat pink gold. This has a hand–wound movement with a seconds sub dial and 30 minute totalised tachymeter scale. Ulysse Nardin’s Lady Diver comes with an 18 carat rose gold case, 40mm set with 0.77ct, white mother of pearl dial, water resistant upto 100 meters, sapphire crystals, a rubber strap, rose gold deployment buckle, 42hour power reserve and Slef winding movement. Dior Crystal is a 50m water resistant piece in stainless steel, blue sapphire crystal, and shaded blue mother-of-pearl dial set with 38 diamonds. Price: Ranges from Rs 2,90,000 to Rs 20,40,000. Shop At: Helvetica: F-49, Spencer Plaza, Phase II, Anna Salai Contact: 28490015 / 42140825

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UBER

Southern Sparkle Bringing the grandeur and opulence of a bygone era to contemporary times is Jaipur Gems, with its new range that offers South Indian-inspired gold jewellery. The collection displays pieces that are traditional, classic and truly opulent. From simple trinkets to heavy bridal jewellery, every ornament is made with superb skill and attention, setting each piece apart and making it a treasured heirloom to be owned, gifted and inherited.

Price: On request Shop At: 50, Cathedral Road Contact: 28117145 / 28110104

Simply Divine! As part of the Lladro Spirit of India collection, the Shiva Nataraja piece is a limited edition design with just 3000 units available. Sculpted by Joan Coderch, and measuring 47x44cm, the piece depicts Shiva in his avatar as Nataraja. With blue skin, mudras in the hands and body, the leopard loin cloth, a head ornament and jewellery, this piece comes in unique porcelain, as opposed to the usual brass or copper. You can also check out exquisite figurines of other gods from the Hindu pantheon at the store. Price: Rs 3,21,000 Shop At: The Lladro Boutique, 270 / 2, TTK Road, Alwarpet Contact: 43129443

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HAUTE STUFF

COLOUR ME

This stunning handpainted canvas of Rudolph the ‘red-nosed’ reindeer can flank your kid’s study table or room!

Cheerful, young, sunny, vibrant, bold, sometimes earthy but always beautiful! Here’s celebrating orange, the colour of the month... Swetha PVenkataramani picks up some hot accessories and gives you a couple of ideas for your home in this zesty colour! These glasses with perky orange flowers will add more cheer to your breakfast juice!

Price: Luxury Bath Towel, Rs 349; Hand Towel, Rs 79

Price: Rs 79 per glass

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From: Westside, Ampa Skywalk Mall, Nelson Manickam Road

T BESYS BU RIT

From: Westside, Spencer’s Plaza, Binny Road

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Make bath time more fun with this bright orange towel set with a dash of turquoise on the edges to add the breezy touch.

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For Your OJ

From: Vanilla Creations, Ispahani Centre, Nungambakkam High Road

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Towel Tale

Price: Rs 650 Photos: Loga rk

ORANGE!

Reindeers Rule!

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Remember This Memos will begin to look more cheerful with this orange tiger. Remind your little ones of their project and homework deadline with the clip ons. Price: Rs 179 From: Vanilla Creations, Ispahani Centre, Nungambakkam High Road

Orange Desert Here’s a zany bath collection named Free Desert. Sure looks like the blazing desert sun against white sands. Price: Soap Dish, Rs175; Tooth Brush Holder, Rs 197; Tumbler, Rs 195; Soap Dispenser, Rs 275; Toilet Brush Holder, Rs 395 From: Home Centre by Lifestyle, TTK Road

Rusty ‘n’ Cushy

Damask Dreams

A little like gold, a little like rust but this definitely orange silk cushion adds a regal touch.

Window dressing just turned orange with this orange silk curtain with orange and pink damask prints. Price: Rs 2,000 per metre

Price: Rs 700

Yes… keep clean the orange way with these funky pop open bins!

From: Atmosphere, Khader Nawaz Khan Road

Price: Big Bin, Rs 1,295; Small Bin, Rs 845

From: Atmosphere, Khader Nawaz Khan Road

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Keep Clean

From: Home Centre by Lifestyle, TTK Road


HAUTE STUFF

Paper Pot As orange as orange gets with this papier-mâché flower pot with circular clasps to hold flowers together. Price: Rs 1,400 From: Chamiers, Chamiers Road

‘Rug’ged Orange

Jewel Tone

Polka Orange

Whether it is the beach, board room or by the bay window, this durable orange synthetic and acrylic rug will add a dash of zest to life.

Junk or real, go on and keep your jewellery intact with these orange silk layered boxes.

Polka dots get an orange makeover with this cotton and lurex appliqué floor pillow!

Price: Large raw silk box, Rs 950; Small brocade box, Rs 180

Price: Rs 2,200

Price: Varies according to the requested size

From: Peek-A-Boo Patterns, Kasturi Rangan Road

From: Peek-A-Boo Patterns, Kasturi Rangan Road

From: Chamiers, Charmiers Road

Crowning Glory These sequin and stone studded throw pillows are for the blue-blooded divas of this city!

Pet Friendly Here’s one for pet friendly homes – a cheery orange dog dish that cats can use too!

Price: Orange Crown, Rs 1,275, Orange Sequined, Rs 975 From: Muslin, KB Dasan Road

Upholstery Unlimited Dress up your furniture with these earthy orange fabrics Price: Orange Blended Floral Fabric, Rs 775 per metre; Orange Stripe Fabric, Rs 775 From: Muslin, KB Dasan Road

Price: Rs 2,180 From: FCML Home, Radha Krishnan Salai

Orange Tick-Tock

Fuzzy Glow

Looking at the time, never looked as bright as this. We love the funny bunny and the crow in the dial too.

Try this tea-light holder with a wooden base for the fuzzy, romantic orange glow

Price: Rs 4,400

Price: Rs 150

From: FCML Home, Radha Krishnan Salai

From: Hermit Crab, Second Main Road, Karpagam Garden

The Orange Wall Stop looking at the earthen pot! It is actually the textured orange wall paper that makes everything else pop out! Price: Timbre Orange Wallpaper, Rs 205 per square feet From: Artisan Wallcoverings, Jeypore Colony, Padmavathy Road

Before Sunset These sunset orange scented candles can infuse your home with light and zesty life Price: Thick Candle, Rs 90, Lotus Floating Candle, Rs 85 From: Hermit Crab, Second Main Road, Karpagam Garden

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HAUTE STUFF

Tantalised!

GM Mala goes shopping at Chennai’s newest indo-western boutique, which offers luxury casuals and understated occasion wear

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provide Chennaiites maara literally IEOW V TH N E with something translates into R HE M OF T different from the ‘unfading’ or tried and tested indo‘eternal’. And the namesake western boutiques. Soorya in Chennai, aims to house Krishna says, “Amaara houses a unique collection of indogarments that are contemporary, western garments that will translate effortlessly from season to season, and ready-to-wear fashion statements. We’ve focused on a fusion of traditional and can be passed on eventually. RITZ

The first thing that strikes you as you walk into this store is the pleasant décor that enhances your shopping experience. This 1500 sq feet space is done up in shades of purple and white, and the floral patterns on the wallpapered bits add to the ‘feminine’ touch. The store specialises in luxury casuals and understated occasion wear, with an array of contemporary tunics (which double up as kurtas), salwar sets, skirts, blouses, lehangas and more. The colour palette is inspired by nature and very vibrant: fuschia, turquoise blue, pristine white, black, olive, peach, orange… there is an element of freshness and zing to the shades you see on display. Run by Soorya and Vijayalakshmi Krishna, who also run the sari boutique Aavaranaa, this new store attempts to

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Rating: 3.5/5 Hot: Each of these garments is personally designed by the owner-designer duo, and are then handcrafted. Each piece is one-ofits-kind and can be designed to suit your size requirements. In that regard, it is value for money. Not: Since the designs are all hand-created and exclusive, they veer towards being pricey, and not what you can buy on an offhand basis. Instead, they are occasionspecific.

western designing and hope to make Amaara a landmark in the indo–western wear fashion segment in Chennai.” And, indeed one just didn’t know where to start looking! We spotted fine detailing on each of the pieces with pin-tucks, pleats and cutwork used liberally on the

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tunics and skirts. The Indian wear section had more broacades, kalamkari, hand-painted dupattas, embroidery and sequin work. Long flowy dupattas, fabrics mixed and matched innovatively, colourful yokes on kurtas and superb cuts are just some of the signature statements of Amaara’s collection. Traditional fabrics like Kanchivarams, tussars and georgettes blend with more contemporary fabrics like net. Designer Vijayalakshmi Krishna tells us, “Amaara has a lot to offer in terms of design and fabric. For starters, we’ve focused on tussars and georgettes and have showcased the vibrance of indowestern styling. As summer is on its way, we’ve used a lot of bright colours and floral prints, some small and intricate, others bold and vibrant. The effect is tantalising! I’m sure the younger generation will love these creations.” Tantalising yes, but with many similar stores in the city, it will take some amount of innovation from Amaara’s stable to ensure they keep their customers coming back for more!

Amaara is at No 14/27, CV Raman Road, Alwarpet. Contact: 45000020


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HAUTE STUFF

Brush It On

Wearing makeup isn’t about caking your face with layers of unnatural colours! Make the experience light as air with the new Airbrush Makeup technique… good thing is that the basic kit comes along with the foundation and colours, a spray gun or compressor, airbrush wand or pen and a hose that connects the wand to the compressor. The machine itself is battery-operated so it is rather safe and handy to carry around. Now, that’s a hint for you travelling kinds! Thodi Si Toh Lift Karade!

TAKE OFF TIPS Even airbrush makeup, which looks ohso-natural, needs to be followed up with a rigourous removal session. Use an oilbased cleanser or moisturiser, though even baby or coconut oil will work wonders. Follow this up with a face wash that is suitable to your skin type.

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The neutrals and colours used as foundation in the airbrush are of two kinds—silicone-based and water-based. It is suggested that silicone-based makeup is more effective and long lasting. “It can stay on for up to 24 hours,” declares Kiran Bhutani, owner of Evolve Salon and Spa, one of the few salons in the city to master using an airbrush to apply make-up. The

Until you get a hang of it, however, trust a professional to do your makeup using the airbrush. And for the cool quotient involved, the dent in your piggy bank isn’t too unmanageable.While bridal makeup will cost you around Rs 10,000, a simple evening look is priced at around Rs 2,500 at most parlours in the city. RIT

More than the ‘haute’ value attached to it, using an airbrush to put on make-up is known S to be a smudge-proof, waterproof technique. Apparently, it was first invented for underwater shoots, though a few argue that it was used way back in the 1930s to spray paint the faces of extras for the movie Ben Hur. History apart, in the present day, it is undisputedly the best thing yet in the makeup industry.

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Psst. Now here’s a secret: most celebrities on the red carpet, including Megan Fox, JLo Aishwarya Rai and Priyanka Chopra

Airbrush makeup also makes face contouring simpler. You don’t have to endlessly puff on different shades of foundation to get yourself aquiline R jaw bones. Just one whisk of the spray gun following the bone structure and voila, T LIGH T you have an instant facelift! O P RI

Base This

use airbrush makeup to flaunt their flawless skin in front of the flashbulbs. Reason-enough to try your hand at it? ITZ

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et’s face it. You can’t really live without makeup, especially if you are the kind who likes to be the social butterfly after the sun goes down. But, ever so often, the grease paint on your face lets you down at the most crucial times, thanks to the icky weather we Chennaiites have to deal with. It’s no surprise then that within hours of evenly pasting the foundation, your skin begins to look like a jig-saw puzzle that was badly put together! Running to the restrooms to check your face or worrying about makeup wearing off or smudging all over you is one thing, but finding a solution to the problem is another. So, how about we show you a way to enter the world of smoky eyes and rosy red lips with the wave of the beautician’s new magic wand—the use of an airbrush, a make-up technique that will ensure you looking like a million dollars, even if you’ve been through a tornado!

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Science shows that duskier skin tones such as Indian are more prone to pigmentation and dark circles or undereye darkness. But, with the use of the airbrush, you can effortlessly cover dark circles and other blemishes for evenly toned skin in a jiffy! Isn’t this a great way to camouflage acne and pimple marks and get rid of that cake-y concealer?

The best part? It is exceptionally fine and light on the skin, hence almost invisible, except for the colours added on in the form of blush, eye shadow or tinting. So go on, flaunt your skin without looking like you’re preparing for war! —Swetha P Venkataramani


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HAUTE STUFF

Jazzy Jute

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Jute in your home looks elegant and subtle, no matter what shade of it you pick! What’s more, you’ll be doing your bit for the environment as well. GM Mala tells you how to make the best use of it…

t’s back to the basics! Yes, natural has been ‘in’ for the longest time and whether it is cosmetics or clothes, lifestyles or holidays, everyone is doing it the ‘ecofriendly’ way! And, when it comes to home needs, jute has overtaken cotton in the race to be the most-popular material used in interior decoration. Not only ‘coz it is eco, but also, it’s the earthy colour we’re all looking to incorporate in our homes! Versatile Veer It makes most sense to use simple fabrics that can breathe all year round because we live in muggy ol’ Madras. Besides just giving your interiors an earthy touch, jute is hassle-free, low-maintenance and pocket-friendly, and works wonders in our kind of weather. So throw in a few brightly-embellished cushions across a subtle, single-coloured sofa. Or place a lightly-dyed jute wall panel between your living and dining areas. Get creative, and remember the versatility of the fabric that you’re dealing with!

‘Rug’ it While we go all gaga over this new genius, we must know that the use of jute in India dates back to more than 400 years ago, traditionally grown around the Ganges Delta. Back then, it used to be spun by traditional artisans into ropes,

twines, mats, sacks and the like. Yet, when your grandmother asked you to buy a ‘pai’, you scoffed at her. Now, she’s the one having the last laugh because the jute ones are not just trendy to use on the floor, but also as table mats! And, this is the best way to add the jute element in your home, especially if you’re on a budget. Opt for a slightly large patterned one so you can make it the centrepiece of your living room. Besides looking natural and refined, you can get them in several types like handwoven, knotted or flat.

Belts, Wallets, Kurta, Lamp: Madras Terrace House Bags: Dora Bag mall

Hot Idea: An ideal way to do up your

house is to intersperse different kinds of jutes with one another – the soft, the coarse, the plain and the printed—so that it is eclectic enough without seeming too disparate.

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HAUTE STUFF

Note: You can get a good quality handcrafted one for as little as Rs 1,000, and if they’re machine made, they’re even cheaper! Buy them in smaller avatars as bathroom and kitchen mats, or even a bedside rug. Upholster and bolster! Not just the walls, you want your sofa upholstery to be tasteful and elegant as well. What better fabric than the soft hues of tossa jute? It is a practical and pocket-friendly way to make your sofa look like a million bucks—so much so that you’ll just want to sink into it! As for cushions and bolsters, these are best used embellished, painted and embroidered.You can copy out a pattern and give your local tailor some jute fabric to work around – it’s as simple as that. Plenty of beads and baubles add colour to these little accessories, without making your room seem OTT. Tip: It is a good idea to stick to single colours, as too many patterns on upholstery can clash with the other

Knickknacks, anyone?

Jute can be of two types—white jute and tossa jute. Tossa jute is golden and silkier than white jute. In fact, it is known as the ‘golden fibre’, thanks to the lustrous appearance of its threads and can range in colour from dark to reddish.

Besides the larger pieces of furniture that demand your attention, jute can also be incorporated into little figurines to deck up your centre table, baskets that you use to store newspapers and mags, table runners that help keep your fruits and veggies fresh, coasters, wall hangings… the list is endless!

elements of the room. With dining chairs however, you can consider upholstering the seats and seat backs with brighter cloth, if offset with the monotones of wood. Curtains and Blinds Keep the germs out with jute blinds and curtains—seriously! It resists insects and micro-organisms better than most fabrics, making it the ideal material to use on door and window areas. The idea here is to match the fabric used with the rest of the décor, so it blends in. If you’re using blinds, neutral colours like brown, beige and white work best.

The upside It’s completely bio-degradable, something which few other fabrics can boast of! In this day and age when environmental attention is the need of the hour, one simply can’t go wrong with this pure, yet stylish fabric. So if you have little kids, old folks or people with allergies and low immunity, jute is the perfect accessory to your home. Keep it away from excessive moisture and you’ll find it has long-lasting qualities… years and years and years… thanks to its high tensile strength. And the best part? It’s a cooling fabric, thanks to its resistance to heat!

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ADVERTORIAL

For Every Occasion do all of it, right here at Rehana! Rehana doesn’t just stick to one fabric in each garment, mixing and matching for an eclectic, yet conventional look. For instance, a chiffon kameez would come with a velvet yoke, netted sleeves and a satin churidhar, all put together beautifully. We saw a lot of crystal-work and dull stone work on quite a few sari and blouse sets, which looked stunning and elegant. Besides the fabrics, Rehana also has a wide selection of semi-stitched materials, which can be stylised based on your preferences. The best part about shopping at this store is that your outfits are not just unique to you, but also turn out looking quite dressy. So, even if you pick up something in simple cotton, you’ll probably end up with a beautiful top with brocade or zari work on it! What’s made them popular is their dupattas, which are one-of-a-kind. We saw a really chic one, which had more than six different varieties of fabric put together to form the perfect foil to even a simple salwar-kameez set! Now that’s what we call ‘designer’ wear.

Rehana promises to turn even regular cotton bits into dressy, embellished designer wear at her eponymous store

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ooking for bridal or occasionspecific outfits with a difference? Rehana, the brainchild of designer Rehana Basheer, offers a gamut of options at her spacious and wellstocked boutique in Chetpet. Veering away from the usual Kanchivarams and Banarasi silks, this store has a wide range of fabrics including pashmina, khadi,

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tussar and Assam silks. Of course, there are also reams of the popular ghadwal and kalamkari material. Stacked side by side are the more flowy crepes, georgettes and chiffons. And, because of this huge in-house collection, the store doesn’t accept material from outside. So, whether it is shopping for fabrics or stitching a custom-made outfit, you can

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While pastels are a hot favourite (we spotted loads of white, light pink and sky blue to go with the summer), vibrant colours and shimmer seem to be the order of the day at Rehana, with sequined embellishments, elaborate threadwork, gold and silver brocade work and whatnot adding to the appeal of every garment, perking it up that much more for any special occasion. The great part? The prices aren’t OTT! You can get your own designer garment for as little as Rs 1,500. However, the heavy-duty bridal saris, lehengas and wedding trousseau cost up to Rs 25,000 depending on the workmanship and the kind of fabrics you choose. —GM Mala

Rehana is at 1, Mc Nichols Road, 2nd Lane, Chetpet Contact: 42849772


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REWIND

Angloscapes

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ince the Europeans couldn’t bring their wives and families on ships, they either married or lived with Indian women for companionship; and the children, who were a mixed race, were christened ‘Eurasians’. But, it wasn’t until the British East India Company’s rule in the 18th and 19th Century that they were called ‘AngloIndians’. It was fairly common for the British officers and soldiers to marry Indian women since there was a lack of British women at that time. “They were completely taken in by the beauty of the Indian women—the complexion, features, etc—which were all so distinct,” believes Harry MacLure, publisher and editor of Anglos In The Wind, a magazine that helps Anglo-Indians stay connected. However, the community was excluded from the British legal system and found itself without a caste or status. Several letters and petitions were written by various people and social groups, including the East India Committee (formed by prominent Eurasians) to improve the condition of the ‘Indo-

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Britons’. And, it was the first noble pioneer in the Eurasian cause, John William Ricketts’ visit to England that changed it all. In April, 1834, the government of India was forced to include Anglo-Indians in government jobs and soon enough, many of them were given key posts and specifically recruited into the Customs and Excise, Post and Telegraphs, Forestry and teaching departments. But, the community’s biggest contribution to date is the Railways, which many Anglo-Indians claim were ‘made by them’. The women weren’t far behind as they made for most of the nurses, hostesses (in hotels and airways), stenographers, receptionists and teachers in the country. “Ours was the only community that allowed women to wear Western clothes, so all the jobs were taken up by them,” explains Harry. The community flourished between the 20s and 40s, but as the British women started arriving in the mid-19th Century (mostly family members of the soldiers and officers), intermarriage became uncommon and the Anglo-Indians were left to fend for themselves. That was

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While we scamper towards a ‘global’ outlook, leaving the ‘life that was’ behind, it’s only fair to pause for a moment and look back every once in a while… at footprints that aren’t merely impressions on the beach sand. And, that’s what we aim to do with this section. So whether it’s people, cars, buildings or even just signposts, we’ll dive into history to share a story that has been spiced with tidbits from the present. What better way to kick-start this section than tracing the AngloIndians back to the days of the Europeans… a 500-year-old community that has come a long way since India’s independence? One of the most popular Anglo-Indians in the city, Harry MacLure leads the way… when the community began to dwindle in numbers. There was also a mass exodus of sorts just before independence because many Anglo-Indians felt that they would be oppressed after the British

Know These Names? Here are some of the most commonlyknown people, who are also AngloIndians… Play On With music in their blood, musicians Cliff Richard, Engelbert Humperdinck and Tony Brent had great success in their respective careers. Write Right Communication was another plus with Anglo-Indians and that catapulted the careers of Ruskin Bond and Rudyard Kipling. Happy Feet While dancing was still about running around trees, it took a certain Helen Richardson to give it a whole new meaning. This Bollywood sizzler (known as Helen) took the film industry by storm with her groovy moves. In The Wild Hunter and naturalist Jim Corbett spent most of his years in India carving a niche for himself in the wild.


REWIND Different Stroke

had legal documents to prove it, they could become a citizen of the country. So, India was robbed of many of its Anglo-Indians,” he adds. What remains is a guesstimate of 25-28,000 people in Chennai, apart from the other cities.

Though they were influenced quite a lot by the British, members of the Anglo-Indian community have carved a niche for themselves over the years in the country Food: While the cuisine remains Western, there is a lot of Indian-ness, thanks to generous use of our typical masalas. “If Europeans ate our Beef Stew, they would find it pungent. The Vindaloo is a typical Portuguese dish, but they might not be able to recognise it if they ate what we make,” smiles Harry. As for delicacies, Coconut Rice, Meatball Curry and Deviled (red hot and spicy) Chutney is what you’d be served. Music and Dance: Eight of ten people jiving on the dance floor are sure to be Anglo-Indians because they just have a knack for it! Whether it is music or dance, the community has made a mark for itself in both these fields. English: English being their mother tongue, the Anglo-Indians have a great track record for establishing schools (142 of them in Tamil Nadu itself!) that are much-sought-after by people of all communities. Nostalgia: Keeps them going! “If you meet any of the older generation Anglo-Indians abroad, the first thing they talk to you about is their days in India—whether it is their schooling or life in the railway towns, they have very fond memories of the place. Most of them want to come back and live in the country, though they are too old to travel,” smiles Harry.

left the country. “Since they had jobs with the British government, the Indians were quite hostile to them and this drove them to identify more with the British way of life. They worked with and married the British and even had British names so I guess they felt closer to their culture,” Harry tells us. Besides this, the ousting of the British rule meant that a lot of reservations, quotas and jobs that were reserved for this community had been snatched away and many of them had no

means to make ends meet. “During the British rule, even an uneducated AngloIndian got a job in some government set-up or the other. But, once they left, there was a lot of competition from all other communities and the ones who had to leave their jobs really suffered,” he grimaces. “The worst period was between 1960 and 1980 because the United Kingdom announced that if any Anglo-Indian could trace their lineage back to England and

However, the economics have started to look up as many youngsters are in highly-paid jobs and are doing well for themselves. “Most people think that Anglo-Indians are poor, but that’s not true any more,” he says. But, their numbers in the city/country, however, aren’t on the rise. “They are migrating abroad for jobs, and looks like there will be fewer and fewer of us left in this city/ country,” he says. So, does that mean the community is dying? Harry pauses for a moment and says, “Many people say we can survive, but I have my doubts. We’re getting integrated into other local communities/cultures and since AngloIndians are stateless people, chances are the children will feel more part of the other culture than ours. It might take 40 years or so, but I feel we may not have many Anglo-Indians left in Chennai or India soon.” And, flourished they did. —KARUNA AMARNATH

VIEWPOINT What are Anglo-Indians best known for? And, are they a dying race?We ask some of the city’s faces… Andrea Jacob, Dancer

Craig Gallyot, Stand-up comedian

Jeffrey Vardon,Choreographer

An Anglo-Indian child dances before it walks… we’re best known for our dancing! If it’s a party, wedding or any celebration, jiving is a tradition, so if you can’t, it’s a shame! As far as the community dying out is concerned, I guess it’s true because a lot of people prefer to live abroad (in Australia, Canada, UK and now the middle East) because they connect more to that culture. So yes, there are lesser and lesser AngloIndians in the country these days.

Anglo-Indians, in my understanding, are the vision of living life large. We’ve mixed so much over the years, that we now know how to be the life of the party with any culture. And that’s because, chances are, it’s a part of our culture as well. So, we’re not a dying race after all.

Just because the Anglo-Indians are migrating, it does not mean they are a dying race! To answer the first question, I think we are best known for our communication skills, and by that I do not mean just speaking English. Our diction, vocabulary, etc is very good and that’s why you see many AngloIndian teachers, receptionists, air-hostesses, etc. I must add that I am very proud to be part of this community!

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REWIND

Boiler-maker Joe Nicholas (right) with senior Loco-shed staff, Guntakal, 1940s

Ivan Lambourne and his sister Dolly posing with their pet, Conoor, 1945

Meet and share the lives of some of the AngloIndians, who lived in the ‘Madras’ Presidency

Anglo-Indian family posing on their verandah, Lillooah, 1940s

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Lt. Col. Adolphous Quental, during WWII


REWIND

The young Godfreys, shot in a studio, Guntakal, 1950

Dennis Whitworth in his living room, Lillooah, Railway Quarters, 1950s

The Saints - a popular band, 1970sl

Sybil Whitworth posing before her dressing table, Lillooah, 1950s

Farewell to Noel & Hazel Godfrey, Railway Institute, Guntakal, 1967

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PERSONALITY

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PERSONALITY

Gambler at Heart Director Selvaraghavan has managed to create a ‘brand’ for himself, thanks to the edgy, out-of-the-ordinary films he’s made in the past couple of years. In this frank and honest chat, he talks about the Aayirathil Oruvan experience, his relationships – found and lost, and what to expect from the Brand Selvaraghavan stable

Mixed Reactions: Aayirathil Oruvan “As a filmmaker, I have always received mixed reactions for my work. But, I decided quite a long time ago that there was no point in playing safe. I am a gambler at heart and this was my big one! But then again, in this industry, so many movies come and go… how many generate the level of discussion that this film has? At times like this, it feels good to be bold. Instead of making the same kind of formulaic films, I wanted to break away and do something radically different. At the end of the day, I have done it. I have made the movie. And it has made back all the money that was invested. It was a commercial success. And anyway, no movie has universal acclaim; it’s impossible to satisfy everybody or keep everybody happy. Our goal was to break the ‘only for

mindless entertainment’, spoon-feeding aspect of the Tamil industry and actually come up with a movie that made you think. Movies have to be watched with intelligence and treated with as much respect as any other art form. Many people have told me that it was only when they saw the movie for the second time that they understood it. This is only because they come in expecting to be spoon-fed entertainment. Only when they go back with an open mind to see the movie do they understand what’s happening and are able to appreciate it. On the lighter side, I think that because so many people ended up seeing the movie twice, we may have actually netted twice the box office collections (laughs)!” Great Gamble: Working with firsttimers over established actors “I knew from the very beginning itself that this wasn’t a movie that would be

completed in three months or so; it was going to take a lot more time than that. And, it was after I got all the technical people together for the pre-production of the film that we realised what an uphill task we were facing. I realised right away that this film was going to take at least a year. As it happened, it took far longer, but I knew even then that I needed my actors to be flexible. They needed to be able to put in the time and the effort it would take to pull off such a mammoth task.” Uphill Task: Staying Motivated “I have always had great respect for and trust in the people who are the end consumers of the movies we make— the audience. After all, I am one too. I get to see the film in its complete form only days before its final release. And till then, even I’m nervous and hope it turns out okay! But I have a responsibility to

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PERSONALITY We managed to pull it off. Maybe it was only because of the example I set, because I was there, every step of the way. Also it isn’t every movie that you get such an opportunity to push the limits of what you’re capable.” Two For Joy: Aayirathil Oruvan, a sequel? “Of course! I always knew that there was going to be a sequel. In fact, the first scene I wrote for the movie was the climax and the rest of the story was developed from there. This is also the reason there is such strong character building in the movie. I want people to remember these characters and be able to relate to them by the time the next movie comes out. That is the real challenge. I hope to start work on it by January next year. I would like to start sooner, but I have all these previous commitments that I need to meet first. Also, I really need to take a break for a while and recharge.” Photos: Sunder Photography; Location: GRT Radisson

Radical and Unconventional: Selvaraghavan “As a matter of fact, I think that my earlier movies are far more conventional than I would have like them to be. You have no idea how much it hurts as a creative person to make yet another clichéd movie with a rehashed concept. But I had to go slow in the beginning. I’m not very rich, you see (smiles). I’m from an upper middle class family and couldn’t afford to indulge my fancies. I had to get somebody else to provide the financial backing I needed. the larger audience. And it was this that gave me the strength to work harder. In fact, the period from 40-50 days before to the release was the most hectic. We were so busy that we hardly got to sleep. As for me personally, I was commuting between Chennai and Mumbai almost every single day. I would have to come to Chennai every day to see the rushes and immediately go back to Bombay for the mixing. The only sleep I could manage were a few snatched hours on the flight.

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As for the team, by the time 60 percent of the movie had been done, almost everybody had given up. Everybody was exhausted and just too tired of the demanding schedule, shooting in front of blue screens, the cruel weather conditions... I think I must have driven them nuts. And the pressure on us was immense… financial and otherwise. But it was very clear to me. We’ve jumped into the water, now it’s time to either sink or swim.

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In this industry, very few have had the courage to break away from stereotypes. But, I decided from the very beginning that I would rather quit than do the same thing that everybody else is doing. I couldn’t bring myself to sell my soul just for the sake of being able to ride around in a new Audi or to become a name to be reckoned with. I wanted success on my own terms. I decided that is time to ‘either fly or die’… as the saying goes. But it is in the nature of things that people like pinch hitters, and not masters of technique, who attempt to


PERSONALITY play the perfect shot. At the end of the day, I make sure my producers always get back the money they’ve invested. It’s incredibly difficult to raise the kind of money needed to make a movie and I respect that. I have to protect their interests. That’s why AO has even those few commercial or masala elements in the first half. They are concessions to the ‘mob’ mentality, because at the end of the day, people still expect those two songs, the item number, a comedy track, etc. When this movie goes to Cannes, I am planning to take out at least an hour’s worth and will be able to see the movie as per my original vision for it… the director’s cut (laughs)!” Middle Class: Growing Up Years “I grew up under very tough conditions. Till I was five years old, we were literally struggling for food. Then things slowly started changing for the better. I have always wanted to be in this industry, but people at home opposed it. That’s when I decided to leave home and make it on my own luck. From then till I finished my first movie at about 22, it was an uphill struggle. This is why I am so passionate about cinema… it has made me who I am; without cinema I am nothing. Over the last 2-3 years, things have been very tough for me on the personal front as well. Only my work in films has kept me going. Because when I sit down to write or when I am at a shoot, nothing else exists but the story I’m trying to tell.” Sheer Accident: Film No 1 “My first film was by sheer accident. By the time I came on board, twenty percent of it had already been shot. There was no money; it was being shot on a shoestring budget. We couldn’t afford even a crane or a trolley. So we had to shoot the entire film with only static camera positions. Only a crazy guy would have taken up such a project and that was where I came in. I was desperate for an opportunity… any opportunity; I was only 21 at that time.”

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PERSONALITY Lucky Charm: Brother Dhanush “We have known each other for 27 years and share an incredibly strong bond. It is only natural that we enjoy a very comfortable working relationship. Even so, the first movie was by necessity as he had been cast before I was involved in the project. And for my next film, he was a natural choice. Then we split ways for a while to explore other opportunities independently. But once again, when I wrote Pudupettai, I knew Dhanush would be perfect for that role and I needed an actor who was willing to experiment. Most mainstream actors won’t consider playing such a negative role. I think in the end, it comes down to the trust we have in each other.”

and celebrate a job well done, without everybody passing judgment on me! It is the nature of this industry that you don’t get much time to unwind… it’s been five years since my last vacation. Why then should I not have a little time and space to myself?” So Much To Do: Upcoming Projects “It’s going to be a packed year for me. As of now, I have been signed on for three movies. There is Sindubad, the Vikram movie, which will be my first with him. He really understands what we are doing and we have a fabulous working

I think the tables have been turned now. Nowadays it is the men, not the women, who have to campaign for equal rights! What people don’t understand is that men have hearts too! In fact, I think I may never marry again!” Gossip Galore: Relationship with Actress Andrea “I believe everybody deserves a personal life, which is off limits to the public. I am no saint. Don’t I deserve to be in a relationship? To go on a date with someone? To go out to dinner with a girl? I deserve to relax a little as well,

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Apart from that, I highly respect Steven Spielberg… one of the most versatile directors I’ve seen. He is a man of constant surprises; you never know what he’s going to hit you with next! And Francis Ford Coppola: his films are so brilliant that they make you want to give up filmmaking out of sheer depression because you wonder if your movies will ever be anywhere as good. And I’ve also been inspired by movies like Apocalypse Now—what a performance by Marlon Brando—and JFK, a masterly blend of the documentary style and classic cinema. I grew up looking at these icons and they have always inspired me.

A Great Deal of Controversy: Separation and Divorce from Actress Sonia Agarwal “What hurts me the most is that people, and society as a whole, automatically take only one side. A marriage is, at the end of the day, a very personal thing between two people and a thousand things can happen which may sour a relationship. It is impossible for both sides to be at fault. Who knows what happens within the four walls? But, society will automatically pick on the man. I have been widely portrayed as a womaniser. Granted, women are highly respected in this country, but men don’t have to automatically become the scapegoat in every such instance.

We could relate so well to the absolutely fresh content and he is one of the first people, who managed to successfully make movies which are both commercial and critical super hits.

Nowadays, I’m astounded by the standards of Chinese films. In some respects they’re almost better than mainstream Hollywood movies!” Believe In Yourself: Advice to Aspiring Filmmakers “Remember that in this business, an opportunity almost never comes to you on a platter. At the most, you will get a faint whiff in the air. So, jump up and grab the chance with both hands.

relationship. Maybe it is because he has also struggled to make it in this industry? Also, there is an upcoming movie with UTV, which will be my first foray into Hindi cinema. I have always really enjoyed the city of Mumbai, and if this movie works, who knows, I may even be tempted to shift base there!” Egging Me On: Inspiring Film People “I honestly believe that if Mani Ratnam didn’t exist, we would’ve lost about 500600 directors, who have been inspired by him and his work! He had the courage to take on the conventions and shatter them.

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In my first film, almost everything was against me. Nobody believed in me, I had to fight incredible odds to make it. Especially when you are new, and want to do something unconventional, even if it’s just the way you want to frame a particular shot, it’s very difficult to get people to agree with you. I remember that once I had to fight almost the entire unit to get them to take a shot the way I wanted it. But it is very important that you believe in yourself. Be true to yourself and your vision at all times and you will succeed.”

—Vijay Saravanan


PERSONALITY

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Viva La Femme

A Path-Breaker The first thing that strikes you about entrepreneur Kiran Rao is her ‘no nonsense’ attitude, followed by her quiet yet commanding demeanour and of course the effervescent energy she brings to any space. So, it doesn’t come as a surprise that she singlehandedly converted a dilapidated, 100-year-old mansion into one of Chennai’s most hip hangouts for youngsters and glitterati alike. Suddenly, ‘let’s meet for coffee’ wasn’t a cheapie offer, and thanks to Amethyst and its sister concern Chamiers, the caffeine lovers’ experience will never be the same again. Yet, in all that entire entrepreneurial frenzy is a doting mother, a caring daughter and more. It is women like Kiran Rao that make us proud, that make us say, Viva la femme! In a quick-fire Q&A with this dynamic personality 1. What makes you proud to be a woman? I raise a toast to all women everywhere because every one of us is an expert multitasker, juggling different responsibilities with ease.

to multitasking, leave it to the experts I say!

2. All women, even when working elsewhere, are automatically expected to also be responsible for the household. What are your thoughts on that? I think it is quite a natural thing for us women to become the homemakers. We are conditioned into this role even while growing. And of course, when it comes

3. Amethyst is such a sanctuary from the fast-paced urban life. How did you conceive of it? I have always felt very strongly about how much of a hurry this city seems to be in to deny its heritage. Why this obsession with Singapore? In isolating yourself into these soulless glass towers that grow taller every year? Why this obsession

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with tearing down and destruction? What do you do with all the rubble? Isn’t it more creative and challenging to adapt and create instead? I think we should instead focus more on creating spaces which have good energy and good vibes... human spaces, for us to live and work in. 4. You seem to have such a strong perspective on architecture. Are you an architect by training?


Viva La Femme (Laughs) No, I’m an anthropologist and a historian by training. I think what inspired me most to create Amethyst was the challenge. I had a vision for the place and relished the challenge involved in realising it. 5. What do you think about women being entrepreneurs? Hmmm… the thing that constantly surprises me is that many people seem to consider it to be so unusual for a woman to be an entrepreneur. Why be so surprised? I think it is as natural for women to be become entrepreneurs as it is for men. 6. Any word of advice to aspiring women entrepreneurs? Follow your instincts, put you best foot forward and don’t bother about the fact that you’re a woman. 7. Any interesting anecdotes as an entrepreneur? I remember how once Amethyst was done, so many people came up to me and said that they wished they hadn’t been so hasty in destroying their old homes. Because of their lack of vision or imagination, they had been so quick to tear down and destroy when they could have adapted and renovated while preserving the beauty and charm of the original. 8. Do you have an eye on some old bungalow that’s about to become the next ‘amethyst’? There’s nothing on the cards yet, but I’m looking forward to the next challenge! 9. Your passion besides work is… Gardening! 10. You’re a mother now. How has the birth of your son changed things for you? Oh! My entire focus has changed since the arrival of my newborn son. My whole life has been transformed! —VIJAY SARAVANAN

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IN PASSING

Caught In The Act!

ActorVinay Pathak talks to Karuna Amarnath about his plays, films and his recent visit to Chennai in this zippy Q&A

Have you been to Chennai before?

The play was designed so that we could all work together and that helped. When you have a group of friends who like to hangout, it becomes all-the-more exciting to be on stage together. Each of us have our own distinct personalities, characters and inputs, whether it’s Ranvir (Shorey) or Konkana (Sen Sharma) or any of the other actors, and that’s what enriched the play and added that element of excitement for me.

I’ve usually come to the city to shoot ads, to get on stage or when I’m on my way to Pondy! So yeah, it’s usually been on work…

Now that we’ve done a couple of shows, this play is a good meeting point for us because otherwise we are busy doing our own things.

And, what’s your take on the city?

How did Vinay Pathak become an actor?

You’ve just performed two shows of the play Blue Mug in the city. What was the experience like? We had a wonderful time here, plus we had full houses on both nights. Everyone who watched the play appreciated it and so did the media so it was all good! I’ve always maintained that Chennai has an evolved theatre audience (smiles).

It’s very chilled-out and the people are very nice! I like the laid-back attitude unlike in Bombay (Mumbai), where everything seems to be running past you! Though it’s one of the metros, it has its own distinct character like say a Calcutta (Kolkata) does. The theatre groups here are quite alive and kicking and they are doing some very fascinating and exciting work. What has the Blue Mug experience been like for you? Blue Mug has been the most gratifying and satisfying experience for me. I can’t say I had any specific input because the play was written by all of us and we’re playing ourselves. But, just improvising and evolving the production with each of the actors was wonderful; we were there for each other, to guide, help, suggest and give another picture/perspective…

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Well, I was studying to be a business major, actually! I gave that up and studied drama for four years and did community theatre for three years abroad. Then I moved to India to pursue theatre further. Theatre is my first love and that’s what’s led to films, television and ads, so I hold theatre responsible for that (laughs)—in a good way! You acted in quite a few films after you came back, but it wasn’t until Khosla Ka Ghosla and then Bheja Fry, which also won you the Filmfare Best Comedian Award, that you got recognised as a film actor. But, do you feel that your role in both these films has typecast you? What happened with Bheja Fry is a good thing. You see, an actor is always looking

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for something to make the audience recognise him and to be acknowledged by other people in the industry. A good role gives the actor more chances and opportunities on a wider platform.Yes, it comes with its packages like being typecaste and other things, but I don’t see that as a casualty or a drawback… I just have to work around it. You say theatre is your first love. So, is that more exciting than films? I feel both play and films have been most enriching. I’ve always been a theatre person and love interacting with a live audience, so when I got into films, it was a completely different experience. I realised that it’s not just a different talent that’s required to be an actor onscreen, but sometimes it can also be a bigger challenge. In theatre you have rehearsals, you get time to think about your character and improvise it till you get a hang of it. But, with film, it’s either now or never. You just get that one shot and the rest is left to the editing desk! If you had to choose your best filming experience, which one would that be? I’ve always managed to do different kinds of films, experimenting with characters, roles, etc. But, I feel Bheja Fry and Dasvidaniya, though very different, have been two of my best. Bheja Fry because of the character I played and the fact that it changed my acting career and Das… because I also produced it. It was a completely different experience and


IN PASSING I learnt a lot about the challenges of being a producer. You’ve only done two plays since you came back to India. Why is that? I am very keen and selective about the kind of plays I do. I am not saying I am averse to doing popular scripts or dislike theatre being used as a platform to make money. But for me, it’s about

learning something new each time I am on stage, on exploring aspects of myself that I wouldn’t have otherwise and such things, so the objectives don’t really coincide. Your favourite please…

plays

for

us

The first play that turned my life upside down was Peter Shaffer’s Equus, a very dark and twisted play. I watched the professional production of the play abroad and that’s what made me change my major actually! I invited all the insecurities I could into my life, I quit chasing after a ‘successful career’ (or so I thought!), I took up theatre… so, this play really touched me very deeply and evoked the so-called avante grande in me (smiles). The other one is Shakespeare’s Tempest, which was my first Shakespearean play on stage. Of course, C for Clown and Blue Mug have also been very fruitful. With Blue Mug touring extensively, which films do we see you in next? There are many films that are slated to be released, thanks to the recession issues that delayed things last year. I have about 6-7 of them waiting in line and I hope they will be released (laughs) after all. What to do? Pichle saal ka maal pehle bechna hai na? (They have to first sell last year’s work no?) Pappu Can’t Dance Sala, SRK, Lucky Ram and Lakshman Rekha are in the pipeline…

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CONVERSATIONS AT RADISSON

At The Helm Educationist, theatre actor, singer, dancer... Madhuvanthi Arun dons many hats with élan! Chatting with Karuna Amarnath she talks about her latest venture, personal life and more sips her cup of tea at Radisson’s Hotel’s lobby, “I also prefer open discussions on things, and like to sort anything out, face-to-face.”

S

he’s got an enviable lineage: daughter of Y Gee Mahendra, noted Tamil cinema and theatre personality, and the granddaughter of distinguished educationist Dr Mrs YG Parthasarathy and late YG Parthasarathy. But, that’s not what defines this dynamic lady. Madhuvanthi Arun has always felt the need to be the master of her time, at the helm of a group. It doesn’t surprise you because she describes herself as dominant, strong-opinioned, outspoken and extremely forthright. “I’ve never imagined myself working for/under someone. I get very excited about responsibilities and give my best only when I’m in-charge,” she smiles, as she

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And, that’s what led her to launch Calibre Educational Foundation, which she co-founded with her husband, Arun (filmmaker and grandson of late actor Gemini Ganesan), in 2006. “We realised there is a lack of schools in the city that give children a ‘global’ perspective on things. We wanted to start something that was not just proactive, but would also help evolve the child’s life skills and overall personality at affordable costs. So, we launched Mrs YGP School,” she tells us. But, there was another special reason to start this institution. “I wanted to give my grandmother (Mrs YG Parthasarathy, who started the nationally-recognised Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan group of schools) a gift for all the years of work she’s put into the educational system. She was one of the pioneers in breaking away from the Convent system. She is very proud of me for being a path-breaker in my own right,” beams Madhuvanthi. So, at Mrs YGP School, there are no classrooms, notebooks, textbooks or stress! The school uses interactive computer technology (ICT), like those seen on IIT and IIM campuses, and labs to teach the children their syllabus (CBSE), emphasising on activity-based learning. While coaxing the parents into seeing the benefits of this system of education took nearly six months to a year, the strength has grown from 200 to 750 children in no time. “We are looking to tie-up with

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some schools in the UK so that we can share curriculum and eventually conduct exams, which will be internationallyrecognised. Also, we want to explore the option of having exchange programmes for children at the primary level, so that they get familiar with the cultural similarities and differences at a young age,” she shares. In addition to these facilities, the school also provides a smart touch-screen board in order to facilitate reinforcement of all the learning that happens in the various learning stations, in a creative and interesting manner. Getting admissions into a school of this calibre can be an uphill task, right? She dismisses my question immediately, “I find it silly to make things difficult. We have an open system, where anyone can walk in and seek admission. It’s all of three steps: Get the prospectus, have an interaction with the principal and me and pay up!” A job like this one can be a handful, but that doesn’t stop Madhuvanthi from pursuing her hobbies—dance, drama and music. Besides being a cultural consultant at Bharat Kalachar and rendering light music performances of old filmi numbers (up to the 80s) every now and then, she has studied Bharatanatyam under the tutelage of Padma Bhushan Dr Padma Subramanyam and choreographs dance performances, scripted by her husband, under the banner Natyam Trust. “Our performances can be best described as thematic presentations, which always carry a message and have an impact on the audiences,” she tells us. A lover of


CONVERSATIONS AT RADISSON Take That Most Enjoyable Moments: To see the joy on the children’s faces at school! Also, when I finish a dance performance and get a ‘sabash’ from my guru. Pressures: I wouldn’t say I am pressurised to excel, but I do have a huge responsibility. But, with responsibility comes a lot of dignity and poise, and I’ve learnt to deal with everything in a nice, jolly way! Being from a ‘known’ family has actually helped me stay level-headed. Future Plans: We want to expand the school up to the 8th Standard, as well as start a university, which will offer alternative streams of education. Artistic Journey: It is inter-twined with education and some day I would like to blend music, dance, yoga and education into a fruitful learning device.

the performing arts, Madhuvanthi also acts in plays along with her father, Y Gee Mahendra, “The arts are very important. I hope to soon be able to effectively amalgamate the arts with education.” In this entire flurry, how does she manage to balance work and life? We wonder in amazement… She’s quick to reply. “I draw inspiration from my grandmother. At 84, she’s up at 7am, goes through a whole day at work, then goes out to watch some live performance in the evening, and sleeps only at midnight. At 32, I have no excuses!” she laughs, adding, “I don’t have a set routine, but there are some important aspects that make up my day: workout, go to school, either watch a dance or music performance, or go out to a social-do. Our lives have been filled with art, dance and culture, and we’ve always done things together, so finding ‘family time’ hasn’t been a problem at all. Besides this, I also manage to spend quality time with my son; we take off on long drives, with no particular agenda… It’s not that difficult. If you organise your work and time effectively, you’ll be able to do a lot more than you can imagine!” Location Courtesy

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TAKE OFF

Vientiane

Charming Backwaters:

Meditative Buddhas, the peaceful Mekong River and the healthy sunshine. Prepare to be charmed‌

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he term backpacking is synonymous with low-cost independent gallivanting. It is differentiated from other forms of tourism by the preference for dirt-cheap youth hostels, the use of public transport, a genuine interest in meeting the locals (read: sarcastically) and most importantly, the use of a backpack. During my initiation into the backpacking world, I learned some valuable lessons that ended any romantic notions I may have had. For example, the look backpackers sport is no conscious effort on their part to look scruffy. It is naturally acquired after several days and weeks of not bathing, not having clean clothes and living in a deliberate state of poverty. I also learned that more than half the backpacker population of the world rely on one little blue book called the Lonely Planet. So where you are headed everyone else is headed! I had combined an intercontinental migration with a four week stint in Vietnam and Laos, thus, I had several kilos on my back

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with a serious consequence of turning hunchback. When I checked in at the airport to fly to Vientiane surely I had baggage of the excess variety. Vientiane (literally the City of Sandalwood) is the capital city of Laos and is nestled in the Mekong Valley. It is situated on a bend of the Mekong River, the most famous river of South-East Asia, and forms the border withThailand at this point. I was glad to have a few quiet days to myself after three spectacular weeks in Vietnam that included a rendezvous with a certain drunken tribal chief, who insisted we share his putrid corn wine. My original plan was to spend more than a week in Laos, but the horror of running

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out of money had caught up with me. I had to cut back to two nights in this diminutive capital city. Packed with sites to see, this delightful city is lined with old French mansions, bougainvillea-blooming streets and steaming noodle stalls. The travellers’ enclave is located around Nam Phou, the Mekong riverside and Setthariat and Samsenthai streets. After the initial hiccups over finding my friend, the two of us settled into some rickety chairs to enjoy a South-Indian dosa. It is remarkable how Indians can be counted on to set up shop in the remotest of places. It had been months since I had seen anything vaguely Indian and here


TAKE OFF was my comfort food staring at me in the face. In the event you get bored of all the noodle-soups, check out this MalaysianIndian restaurant on the riverside! We then spent the rest of the night wandering along the river banks, dodging the tuktuks (rickshaws), drooling over the seafood and gatecrashing a wedding reception. Undeniably the best way to start your morning is to indulge in a scrumptious breakfast at the Scandinavian Bakery. This airy little place on Phangkam Road is a short walk from Vientiane’s tourist suburb. The combination of the outdoor patio and a two-storied indoor eating area has a laidback look that will keep you idle for hours. You can pick the bread of your choice to make a sandwich (USD 1.50) or try some of the enticing pastries, cakes and desserts. Make sure

you give yourself plenty of time as once you are lured in by the fabulous aroma of freshly baked loaves, there is no going back. With our bellies full, we walked down Setthariat road to Wat Si Saket a Buddhist monastery. Built in 1818, this particular Wat is rumoured to be the oldest temple still standing in Vientiane. Lao temples boast two distinct styles of architecture, one being the Lao style and the other the Siamese style. Wat Si Saket is built in the Siamese style with an adjoining spacious terrace and an ornate five-layered roof. When the armies of Siam ransacked Vientiane in the 19th century, this Wat was spared due to its style. The biggest attraction is that it features a cloister wall with more than 2000 ceramic and silver Buddha images. Check out the intricate paintings that adorn the walls of the main

shrine! Our delightful morning ended with a not-so-delightful encounter with a few flirtatious monks. Momentarily confused if all my knowledge about saffron-clothed men was accurate, I quizzed one of them about his behaviour. He simply asked me to come back that evening to ‘hang out’! More bizarre encounters followed as we hailed a tuk-tuk for the 25 kilometres to Xieng Khuan, popularly known as Buddha Park. Meaning ‘spirit city’ this sculpture park is located southeast from Vientiane. It contains over 200 statues from Buddhist and Hindu tradition and numerous weirdly designed sculptures. An enormous 40m long reclining Buddha is the most prominent attraction. Towards one side of the park stands a sculpture that resembles a giant pumpkin that is divided into three levels

from the French. At the top of the road that runs right past the Patuxai is Lao’s national symbol, That Luang. Unfortunately, this prominent site was closed when we visited, but nevertheless, we were dazzled by the stupa’s tapering golden spires. A fantastic way to relax after stomping all over Vientiane’s streets is to pop into one of several massage houses. We chose an off-beat location at the forested temple of Wat Sok Pa Luang. The herbal saunas and the massage tables are housed in a large tree-house styled quarters and offer an ethereal experience. You can go back into the sauna as many times as you wish for a mere 10,000 kip. While you wait for the relaxing massage (priced at 30,000 kip/hour) you can help yourself to copious amounts of herbal tea or enjoy a bowl of freshly cut fruits. I found the

masseurs very friendly and competent, but beware that this particular style of massage is more invasive than others.

Getting There: Direct flights connect Kolkata to Vientiane. Air Asia connects Vientiane to major hubs such as KL and Singapore. Overland routes connect from Thailand and Vietnam. Must Do: Pose with the reclining Buddha. Enjoy a Beer Lao at sunset. Best Time to Travel: Cooler months of November to April. Must Haves: A colourful Lao PDR Visa.

representing hell, earth and heaven. Hike to the top for a suitable vantage point to view the entire park! A little drink kiosk keeps you hydrated while you wander around. In the centre of Vientiane stands the Patuxai, a monument shaped like a gateway and dedicated to those who fought for the struggle for independence

The best companion you can have while watching the sunset is Lao’s national beverage, Beer Lao. Hailed as Asia’s best local beer, the brand’s logo adorns everything from street signs to t-shirts, and is known to convert even beer haters. Have a taste while winding down from a day of sightseeing! My last night in this peaceful city, I indulged in some lip smacking rice-based goodness, while I sampled some of Vientiane’s fine cuisine. After an exhausting-but-fulfilling day, I had been won over by the simple charms of this evolving backwater. Au Revoir Vientiane! —Sowmiya Ashok

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TAKE OFF

RURAL FANTASY:

BUNDELKHAND If you’ve felt the throbbing pulse of India’s teeming towns and cities and are looking to venture further in search of what’s beyond, then a visit to Bundelkhand— India’s heart, will reveal another side to a fascinating and vibrant country. Snippets from Niren Saldanha’s travelogue…

View across of Orchha Palace from Ram Raja temple

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way from the bustle and the push that has come to shove is another India that lingers—a ‘middle India’ that lives on in its villages at a pace that has changed very little through time. It may lack the colours of a Rajasthan and the vivacity of a Punjab or even the natural flourish of a Kerala and yet it is truly the heart of the land—a land that has remained, uncompromised by change all around. Yet, here in this touristic wilderness there is a diverse enough array of destinations to captivate any sort of traveller, including some of the best wildlife parks in the country and monuments of every description—temples, forts and palaces—most of which have been strangely abandoned and neglected through time. First among these are the temples at Khajuraho and their bizarre imagery, some truly erotic. Like with many others, it was the reputation of these temple monuments that drew me here (and a wedding I was to attend in nearby Rewa). The intrigue about these temples and

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their evocative sculptures is paramount to Khajuraho’s status as the primary destination for tourists visiting the region. But there are other sites that are just as haunting I found; Orchha too has an enchanting story and an assortment of curious monuments—an imposing fortpalace in ruins, a grand Lakshmi temple and some very picturesque river-side chhatris (tombs). Getting to this ‘middle India’ though is an adventure even before you arrive. Not as well connected as other popular destinations, it takes a little courage and lots of planning to arrive at some of the more interior locations. To and fro is not direct and access by flight is restricted to only the larger cities in the region; even trains go only so far. It remains even now however an offbeat destination for tourists with a longer travel plan—visit here if you have truly fallen in love with the country and its people, and it helps if your pace is easy and you are unhurried, like the people here. Not surprisingly, it has taken an inspirational promotional initiative by the tourism department of Madhya

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Pradesh (MPTDC) with its own original ‘Hindustan ka Dil Dekho’ catch phrase just to point out the region on a travellers’ map; it sells you no lies with its catchy folk tune and a video which comes from the heart itself. Travel here is rarely an exercise in solitude. You will struggle to find space between mouthfuls (of conversation mostly)—tourists will always be a point of remark here, so best come prepared. Communication is essential even if it is tiresome at times; everyone here wants to get to know you. Asking for information such as directions to the post office or bus stand may trigger lengthy debates not always with regard to your query. Intentions are usually good though, and most are happy to oblige, so if you are willing to patiently explain yourself and filter out unsolicited information (some of which may come in handy somewhere), then you should get around alright. Jhansi and Gwalior I found my way in through Jhansi, which is the nearest major rail-head and situated just where the states of UP and MP meet


TAKE OFF in a jig-saw like over-lock. If you prefer (and have the time) you can stop first at Gwalior and visit its extraordinary hilltop fortress, easily the most breathtaking of its kind. Both the Chaturbhuj (a Vishnu) temple and the Teli-ka-Mandir inside the fort date back to the 9th Century though the fort itself is believed to be at least a hundred years older. Gwalior is only a hundred kilometers north of Jhansi, so if you can conjure up a vehicle of your own (or one with a driver) and are happy to cover distance then visit Chanderi via Shivpuri on the way to Jhansi. You will pass through the thickly forested Madhav National Park on this route—the whole region that surrounds Chanderi was historically lush with forest cover (legend even has it that it took the early mughal emperor, Babur, six months just to locate the fort here). The forests have thinned since and the fort (a largely Muslim construction), which looks down upon the modern town, is exposed and unimpressive, although there is a rather unique gateway—the ‘Katti-Ghatti’— that comes in from the hill side. The Chanderi of today has a newer reputation however for its fine handspun and handwoven saris with traditional folk motifs and delicate pastel colours—though this craft too is thinning steadily. Go visit a weaver’s household, they are genuinely welcoming and warm here. Jhansi too, like most other cities here, has a fort of its own, this one being famous as the stronghold of Rani Lakshmi Bai during the revolt of 1857. There is little else of interest here however and I made my way on to Orchha immediately, which is less than an hour away and definitely worth a visit. Orchha The enormous Orchha fort (strange when you learn that Orchha means ‘hidden’) caught me unawares as I got off the bus. A daunting structure behind a massive battlement wall, it was built by a Bundela chief, Rudra Pratap Singh, in the early 16th Century. A myth traces the Bundela dynasty back further to an 11th Century Rajput prince, who offered to sacrifice himself for the mountain goddess Vrindavasini. She interceded and

Getting There: By Air—both Khajuraho as well as Gwalior have airports with daily flights in from Delhi. You can get from Chennai to Jhansi by train as well: the daily trains Grand Trunk Exp (2615) and the Tamil Nadu Exp (2621) stop at Jhansi (about 24 hours) as well as Gwalior (26 hrs), though the Chennai Rajhdhani (2433) to Nizamuddin is a shorter journey. But check the schedule as it runs only two days a week. Any number of tourist vehicles (share tempos even) will take you from Jhansi to Orchha in about an hour and let you off amidst some imposing architecture. Jhansi to Khajuraho is about 175 kms/5hrs by road (buses are plentiful but best to book in advance). Khajuraho to Panna National Park—45 kms/1 ½ hrs by road. Travel Time: You will need a wider berth with regard to travel time—coming here on a tight schedule can be tricky. It is better if you can be flexible with your itinerary. Note: Expenditure on food and stay in this part of the world should not seriously dent your wallet so don’t sweat in this regard. Ram Raja temple Orchha

named him ‘Bundela’ (meaning: the one who offered his blood). Within the fort are many independent structures that were constructed at various times by different rulers that occupied the fort. The Raj Mandir and the Jahangir Mahal are the best preserved among some more ruinous ones for Orchha was abandoned as the capital for Tehri (now Tikamgarh), 40km to the

south, in 1783. Orchha was at its most magnificent during the tenure of Bir Singh Deo who ruled here from 16051627 as an ally to the Mughal Emperor Jahangir for whom the Jahangir Mahal was built. Spend some time by the Betwa River, which flows alongside the fort complex and provides for a grand riverside view of the palace’s fluted domes across from the spires of the Ram Raja temple that opposes it. Many other temple structures skirt the river leading upstream to a set of almost identical ‘chhatris’ (cenotaphs) that flank the riverbank. A family of pilgrims who had come to bathe while I was soaking in the view were an easy target for a troupe of monkeys that quickly rifled through their belongings and took off with whatever caught their fancy. Yes, you are best advised to keep your belongings with you at all times. Orchha survives today more as a temple town living off the trickle of tourists that make it here and the batches of pilgrims who visit often enough. Interestingly though, some of the more enterprising locals have spruced up their homes (some have painted theirs in very bright colours even) and opened them up to tourists at no great cost. Simple, clean, mud plastered homes with a little central courtyard (bathrooms are usually separate), they offer low-roofed rooms with a bed and home cooked meals. It is all very unpretentious and homely— evidence of a new kind of tourist, who is keen to experience more than just the sights; the freshly cooked dal-rotisabzi does nicely for food. In fact, homestays of this nature are mushrooming all across the coutry and are a great way to get a feel of the local way of life. On the other hand, a wing of the Jahangir Palace houses a now very spiffy MPTDC hotel called the Sheesh Mahal with all the grandness of a palace locale and a view to match. For those with a shorter itinerary or itchy feet, I recommend making the short trip back to Jhansi before nightfall in time to hit the road en route to Khajuraho, which was my next stop. It is overnight by road and might just be a little bumpy, so you’ve done well if you’ve decided

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TAKE OFF

Cenotaph/Chhatris on the banks of the Betwa river

to fly in via Agra from Delhi or directly from Chennai on the daily flight (check timings with Indian Airlines) and work your way backwards to Gwalior/Jhansi. Khajuraho As the major draw in the neighborhood, Khajuraho gets its share of visitors of every description; quite like the Taj, I felt. Honeymooners and young couples dot the landscape even as more modest families tend to stay away. It’s a pity though, since the temples’ sculptural beauty offsets any notoriety they are credited with. There are 24 of them in all today (out of a total of 85 that were built by the Chandela Rajputs in a single creative span between 950 and 1100 CE), and they’ve been set in a landscaped park almost as if transported here from another location. I felt a little robbed of that experience of chancing upon them shrouded by the jungle as Capt TS Burt (the British officer who discovered them) would have in 1838. But then, he wouldn’t have had the ‘sound and light’ experience that we do now courtesy the Archaeological Survey of India. The landscaped gardens complete with rose beds and neatly lined and pruned

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approaching dusk in the sanctuary

Ashoka trees (perhaps evidence of the ASI’s colonial heritage) are a put off initially until you get close enough to the temples themselves to marvel at the detail and exquisiteness of the carvings. The sound and light show after dark is entertaining if not informative, had me turning positively square at times to catch the magical dancing lights and the ‘ambush-sound’ presentation by Amitabh Bachhan. Perhaps they survive today only because

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of the jungle that camouflaged them for almost 300 years, but whatever act of providence preserved the temples of Khajuraho must follow the act of their creation. Erotica aside, there’s plenty else to confound you: legend tells (as will the sound and light show) that the Moon God was enraptured by the sight of a ravishing young maiden Hemavati bathing in a river and upon indulging in a passionate affair with her promised her a son who would build a temple as tribute to their divine love. And so the


TAKE OFF birth of the Chandela dynasty and its cultural influence here—the temples were built under their patronage—a legacy of incredible sculptural detail. They are described now in two groups: a western group of temples that is largely Hindu in detail, and an eastern one that is of possible Jain inspiration though their collective impact is what is truly heady. The sheer size of the Lakshmana and the Kandariya Mahadev overwhelmed me— with multiple spires building up to their colossal sikharas in the centre. They are also the best preserved and most famous of the temples (both in the western group). You will feel tempted to stay on in Khajuraho for more than just a day, if only to soak in the sights, but if you can time your visit to coincide with the annual week long festival of dance in March, you will witness some of India’s finest exponents of classical dance perform open-air with the floodlit temples as

of folk ballads unique to the region that chronicle the deeds of popular contemporary heroes. If you are travelling through here during the monsoons, you may chance upon a performance by a bardic community known as ‘alhets’ whose ballads or ‘raso’ are an oral tradition which may be recited in any of the many local dialects (Bundeli, Bagheli, Awadi, Bhojpuri, etc) to the accompaniment of some rare folk percussion instruments like the timaki, jhinka, and manjira. The most popular among these is the ‘Parmal raso’, which is credited to a poet Jagnayak from the court of the of the 12th Century Chandela Raja ‘Parmal’—not surprising that it is largely a narrative of this king’s bravery and tales of his exploits. This same Jagnayak (Jagnik) is also believed to have composed the ‘Alha Khand’, a series of verses that describe the many fabled efforts (some 52 in all) of two war heroes ‘Alha’ and ‘Udal’ who interestingly

Panna National Park and Tiger Reserve I was less adrenalised by then however, and decided against making this last leg, finishing my tour with a visit to the nearby Panna National Park and Tiger Reserve whose two recent tiger imports are part of a relocation exercise aimed at filling a void left by poachers. You can hire a Gypsy (the Maruti Suzuki variety) at the park entrance at Madla village and don’t be shy to bargain or name your price, as I found it to be all very flexible (helps if you are a group however). Don’t be disappointed if you can’t spot the big cats here though, there’s enough other wildlife to keep you thrilled: nilgai and sambhar especially thrive here, and there is a wonderful diversity of birds and reptiles. I was amazed to watch as a painted stork proceeded to battle with and then devour a large snake not far from where we (our group on safari) entered. Like a dance, the drama played

woman selling colours in the Ram temple square

Sambhar crossing path

backdrop.There are any number of guesthouses and cafes whose menu cards read in many languages and cuisines. In fact, unlike most temple towns in India, I was surprised to find some non-vegetarian food in some restaurants. Get on a cycle (there’s lots of them for hire) and bike around the countryside a bit, or take a stroll before sunset, it’s an extremely tranquil and pleasant setting. Something to look out for is a tradition

fought in the service of this brave king Parmal. For the indefatigable traveler, there is a further fortress worth the distance at Kalinjar (130kms I was told) that predates even the Chandelas, although they too did govern from here initially. It is a terrific specimen of the early Rajput hill-fortress and is where the Pashtun conqueror Sher Shah Suri later met his end.

itself out and we watched as it reached its remarkable end, symbolic perhaps that my journey had come full circle. And so, it was on to Rewa for me from here and a wedding in true Rajput style to cap off my adventures in the Bundelkhand. ‘Hindustan Ka Dil Dekho’ they say— and you must—but come with time on your hands and truly journey through this heartland, it’s a most heart warming experience.

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AT HOME

S(e)oul Searching Koreans make up the largest expat community in Chennai, thanks to major industries being set up in the state. But, how have they managed to make Chennai their home? GM Mala asks around…

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hey aren’t an unfamiliar sight these days! Whether it’s shopping at the supermarket, haggling with the vegetable vendor or sipping coffee at one of the many outdoor cafés in the city, Koreans probably constitute one of the largest expat segments in Chennai. And, it all started when the Hyundai factory made inroads into the city more than a decade ago. Since then, several Korean companies have set up shop here, and are bringing in employees from their country, making Chennai a top destination for this Oriental race. But, how do they fit (if at all!) into our social milieu? What are their first impressions of India? Sang Min Park, who works in a Korean automobile company here says, “When I first came to India I was horrified at the bad roads, the unruly traffic and the fact that stray dogs and cows wandered the roads. I wondered where I’d landed myself and

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wanted to go running back. Gradually I got used to it, and so did my family.” His wife Su Jung was amused as well, but didn’t shy away from taking note of the nicer aspects, “We realised there were a lot of good things about this country. For instance, you have access to elite things like golf, getting domestic help and eating at star hotels, even if you don’t earn a fortune. Such a thing would be unheard of in Korea, where only the very, very rich have access to them. Even good standalone restaurants are expensive, and the average Korean can afford only a small, low-budget eatout.” Golf seems to be a favourite activity with the Koreans here. Most of the women usually head out to play at around 11am after packing their children off to school and settling the household chores. “Most of us don’t play tournaments; just for enjoyment,” giggles Su Jung. The men, on the other hand, play on weekends and they take their tournaments very seriously!

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It’s the economics of this place that’s most attractive to most. For example, Ji Won, a homemaker, has been living in Chennai for three years now and loves the fact that she doesn’t have to go to work because her husband’s salary is enough to keep the house going… and more! “I take care of the house in a laidback way, and spend my free time shopping! My other Korean friends and I love Anokhi for its ‘Indian shirts’, which we team with trousers or jeans, jewellery, knickknacks like napkin holders and other stuff for the house. We also love the Rajasthani quilts here.” And, if you thought language would be an issue, you’d be surprised to know it’s not! Ji Won tells me that she’s able to communicate with the domestic help, the vegetable seller and even the auto drivers in a smattering of broken phrases and sign language—and gets her money’s worth as well. “Most of us do appoint English tutors though, for our children as well as ourselves. It feels nice to be able to speak an international language like


AT HOME KOREAN CONNECT We can’t compare the culture or environs, but we can try to match up to some things… Eat Outs In Seoul 530, TTK Road, Alwarpet, 24353377 Kyumbokong 10/134, Chamiers Road, Nandanam, 42113346 Favourite Shopping Haunt Chamiers 85/47, Chamiers Road, RA Puram, 24311495 Fashion Folks 19, Karpagam Garden, Besant Avenue Road, Adyar, 24469786 Lifestyle Chennai Citi Centre, 10 & 11, Dr RK Salai, 28477788 Thumbs Up: Big apartments in Chennai, as opposed to the bonsai spaces they live in back home. Boohoo: The climate, beggary and homelessness, and people being unpunctual!

English, if only a smattering,” she smiles. So, while the older folk are busy working, shopping and playing golf, we wonder what it’s like for the youngsters. A fat pay cheque may not be the best incentive sometimes, no? Hyun Seok, one of the few Korean bachelors who work here, tells us that he loves trying out different restaurants with his friends and colleagues. “Besides the Korean restaurants here, I like the buffet at Sheraton Park Hotel & Towers. You get a good deal on it with the membership card!” he exclaims. They also love the Italian food at Little Italy and the Spaghetti at Cream Centre. But the universal favourite dish among all the Koreans I asked, turned out to be Butter Naan and Tandoori Chicken! It’s what they apparently miss most while going off on their annual vacations back home. Mini Young, who completed her graduate studies in the US a year ago and joined her parents who work here, loves Bollywood movies “for the songs and colourful costumes,” she laughs.

Chennai is quite cosmopolitan in its options for education and that’s why it’s not a problem for the children either. While an internationally-approved syllabus is most-preferred and they usually end up studying at the American International School, Vaels Billabong or Sishya, they are also scattered in the multiple other schools in the city. And thanks to Hyundai, there is a welfare centre on Chamiers Road for the Korean families, with a swimming pool, Taekwondo classes, Korean DVDs, books and more, to help them keep in touch with their roots. Ji Won says, “We also love taking the kids to Ideal Beach Resort—it’s one of the few resorts in town that allows non-residents to use their pool! Another great place for little kids is Fun City at Citi Centre.” “We visit Korea once a year, but don’t really feel homesick,” says Mini. “After all, there’s so much to see and do here— and so much activity constantly!”

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TECH TONIC

DECK IT UP! The new rage in home-theatre sound systems is the Soundbar. Initially brought into the spotlight by Philips, the soundbar is ideal for those who don’t want cumbersome wiring in their homes, instead choosing completely flexible out-of-the-box solutions. Sanjeev Nichani picks up a few goodies… Philips SoundBar

Samsung HTWS1R

The top-of-the-line SoundBar from Philips features integrated Blu-ray playback with HD output as well as up-scaling of regular DVD’s to 1080i. Audio formats supported range right from the very basic Dolby Digital right up to the audiophile grade DTS HD. The Blu-ray player also supports discs encoded in most popular formats such as DivX and WMV. As is now standard, MP3 playback is also supported as are several image formats such as JPG and HD JPG as well. Since this is the flagship SoundBar in India, the system also features 7.1 channel surround as opposed to the 5.1 channel provided by the other SoundBars. Since this system is small, Bass reproduction is ensured by including a subwoofer in the package. All this retails for Rs 79,990.

Samsung’s foray into the single speaker home theatre system is not much of an integrated home theatre but a rather basic system for the first time entrants into the home theatre market. Priced at just Rs 24,900, Samsung incorporates a 2.1 channel home theatre along with a wireless subwoofer that features Dolby Digital as well as DTS processing. However, it does not have a DVD player; but for people looking for a hassle free and relatively economical setup, it’s just about perfect. The subwoofer can be hidden away in the corner of the living room without being intrusive and since it is wireless, you won’t have wires running all over the place anyway.

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Tank Wars This is a pretty old game, but has been an online favourite for many communities since it was launched. Death matches are still played online and considering this game was released in 2003, it definitely speaks volumes about game play. You start off by finding yourself a tank with the limited means you have, take to the streets and start picking off targets. Every target you kill gives you either health or money, which can be exchanged for weapon and tank upgrades. As you move up levels, its not just brute force, but strategy that will enable you to achieve higher skill points. Sounds are incredible in the game and graphics are reasonably good as well. One small precursor to this game is that you would have to install the shockwave plug-in for it to work. Available online at www.shockwave.com.

TIME HOGS

Here are two interesting games that you can check out online. Don’t blame Sanjeev Nichani if you get addicted! Apple iPad After much ado, the iPad has finally been released to the public in two variants— one only with Wi-Fi and the other with 3G connectivity options as well. Over internet forums, there has been a lot of disappointment expressed over the route Apple has taken to launch the iPad with most feeling that it is only a larger version of the iPhone. Most features tend to remain common between the iPhone and the iPad but with Apple’s famous software updates, one never knows what is possible. Prices start at $449 for the 16GB Wi-Fi enabled one and go all the way up to $829 for the 64GB 3G enabled one.

Batman: The Rooftop Capers Developed by DC comics, this game is a must-play for all Batman fans and features the Caped Crusader jumping across rooftops taking on Kanjar Ro and his villainous henchmen. As you proceed from stage to stage, the game gets tougher and bad guys multiply like rabbits! Controls are pretty simple and game play is smooth but one does tend to get a little confused about the attack keys. This game along with a whole bunch of new Batman games was developed in time to coincide with the release of the new animated Batman series called Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and the games include a little back story into the life of Batman and his villains so that one understands the animated series better. All the Batman games are available for free online play on www.kidswb.com/games.


TECH TONIC

VIDEO GAGA

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Church weddings don’t have to be solemn and serious. At least that’s what Jill and Kevin planned when they decided to tie the knot. This wedding intro is so endearing, you want yours to be as much fun! PS: Check out the spoof of this video – JK Divorce Entrance Dance… it’s hilarious!

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FOUR MORE The Sneezing Baby Panda

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If you thought animals don’t sneeze, here’s to prove you otherwise!

THREE CHEERS Michael Jackson Dance Tribute (Stockholm)

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FIVE STAR JK Wedding Entrance Dance

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Every minute, two hours worth of videos are uploaded on youtube.com and that’s what makes it the most popular website of all time. Mandodari shares five of her favourites with you!

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TWO FOR JOY Sound Of Music – Central Station Antwerp (Belgium) Close on the heels of the Michael Jackson tribute video is this amazing work of choreography, right smack in the middle of a busy railway station! Set to the famous Sound of Music number, Do Re Me, this performance makes you want to get up and become one of the hundreds of dancers. A must-watch visual spectacle!

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AND THE WINNER IS… Susan Boyle – Britain’s Got Talent 2009 Episode 1 – Saturday 11th April Who says you need to be pretty and size zero to stun the world? Even the smug judge of Britain’s Got Talent, Simon Cowell, had to zip up and listen in amazement as the stocky, 48-year-old Scott, Susan Boyle, belted out I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables. The crowd that booed and mocked her was moved to tears… a standing ovation followed. And with 39,008,055 views and counting, this video makes it to my list for Susan’s powerful voice that won the hearts of millions!

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We’ve searched his name relentlessly on the web; we’ve believed anything that’s been said about him, we’ve waited like hawks to get the latest scoop of dirt on the man. But, when Michael Jackson passed away in June last year, all was forgotten. Numerous concerts and remembrances to this King of Pop, tributes galore. The one that stands out in my memory is the video shot in Stockholm. You have to see it to believe that even MJ must have smiled that day…

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If you have a youtube video that you’d like to share, mail it to us at ritzmag@gmail.com and tell us why you’d recommend it. What’s more, we’ll publish it in the next issue!

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STAGECRAFT

No Kiddin’

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ver the last few years, theatre in Chennai has undergone a revival of sorts, with a resurgence of interest in this oldest device for storytelling, communication and entertainment. Many youngsters are also willing to try out this performance medium, with quite a few young theatre groups springing up in recent times. This trend has resulted in a much greater awareness of theatre as a tool to achieve various ends. For example take theatre based training, workshops that aim to not only teach you how to act, but also how to become better at communication and even claim to better your personality. Many experts believe that theatre based games and exercises are potentially the best way to stimulate creative thinking and right brain development in very young children. In fact, in 2006, a study was commissioned by the Government

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of South Australia to study the impact of live theatre on school students. Julie Orchard, one of the key people involved in the study says, “Children learnt to think critically about what they saw and articulate their ideas and feelings. Children as young as 10 were using words like ‘curious’, ‘inquisitive’ and ‘amused’ to describe their theatre experience.” Ms Orchard also reports that improved social skills were an added benefit, “Students felt confident to reproduce art themselves, particularly by re-enacting performances in groups to their classmates.” A strong advocate of this method closer home is Shakila Arun, founder of Applause Theatric Activities. “Very young children from about two-and-a-half years old to about 8 years old go through a major phase of mental growth” she says, adding “At this stage, they need to have

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From being a stage for the ‘mature and experienced’, theatre in the city has turned into the latest fascination for adults and children alike. Vijay Saravanan traces how theatre has become a tool for not just performance, but also learning amongst children today

unstructured learning opportunities through role play, games, etc. This is when the right brain or creative faculties of a child are honed and a child requires ‘soul nourishment’, as I like to call it.” Krishna Kumar, of Masquerade Theatre group agrees, saying “Given the current scenario, most young children lack suitable playmates or a comfortable space where they can engage in just playing. Because for very young kids most of their development and learning comes from the games they play. From just that point of view, I think theatre workshops offer fantastic opportunities for young kids to mingle together and play with other children, while also engaging their minds creatively.” Shakila elaborates, saying, “It is true that not only theatre, but any creative pursuit, like music or art is likely to benefit children. But theatre combines the best


STAGECRAFT SAMPLE THIS These are some of the workshops and productions that are happening this summer for kids 1. Applause is conducting theatre workshops for kids this summer. Contact them on 9940071467 for more info. 2. Landing stage is conducting workshops for children in the age group 13–21 starting May 3. Visit their website www.landingstage. in for more info. 3. Masquerade Youth Theatre (MYT) is conducting a workshop 12-19 year olds from May 3 to 21. Call them on 9884029865 for more details. 4.\ Evam entertainment is conducting workshops for children of age groups 6-9 years and 10-14 years from 21st April to 2nd May. Call 99404438669 or mail teamevam@gmail.com for more info. 5. Vanilla’s Go Around The World Camp is their new passport to fun and learning! This summer, your children can travel around the world, through stories, art and craft activities, music, dance and even cooking! Children will learn interesting facts about different countries, continents, the geographical map, flags and symbols, traditional dance and music forms, food and serving styles, people and culture. They will also learn to make Kenyan face masks, Australian dot art, cook Italian pasta, stir-Australian chocolate soda, dance the Brazilian samba, Indian Bolly pop and tip-toe the Italian ballet! Batch 1 (Kenya and Brazil) will be held from April 12 to April 23, Batch 2 (Australia and Egypt) will be held from April 26 to May 7, while Batch 3 (Italy and India) will be held from May 9–May 21). The age group is 3–8 years, and the camp will be held from 10am to 12noon everyday, priced at Rs 3,000 (inclusive of all materials and break-time snacks). A special sibling offer is priced at Rs 5,600, to be made at Vanilla’s store at Ispahani Centre, Nungambakkam. 6. The fourth edition of the Camp Yakaboo summer workshops from Hippocampus is all set to woo children this holiday season. Details are available on www.blog.hippocampus.in. All workshops are from Monday to Friday, 10am to 12.30pm.

of all worlds, as what is theatre but life on stage?” Indeed, all are agreed on the fact that the resource person plays a key role. As Krishna Kumar says, “It’s very important that they are intelligent and sensitive to the needs of such young minds.” Aruna Ganesh Ram, who runs Landing Stage, a theatre group exclusively for children, speaks from personal experience when she says, “If you enter a workshop with a specific plan in mind, you can be sure that it could well go out of the window because each day, I see a different kind of energy with the children. They are bubbling with energy, which if channelised appropriately, can yield tremendous results.” So it would seem that theatre is the next winning formula for kids to learn by doing, by playing not just games and pranks, but also playing various characters in all the productions and workshops that have been lined up for them this summer. These links are a good starting point for people interested in knowing more, including parents and teachers of very young kids: http://www.dramaed.net/whydramagames.htm http://www.decs.sa.gov.au/mediacentre/files/links/link_66801.pdf

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INDULGE

The To-Let House By Daisy Hasan

Rating: 3/5 Verdict: It might take you a while to get into the thick of the action, but give yourself that time and you’ll like this read. The To-Let House isn’t such a let down after all. Z RIT

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it or don’t trust Indian authors to come up with anything better than a sob story about their college or work life. The cover isn’t quite appealing and can make you believe that this is going to be one ‘rough’ ride. Don’t let that bother you, but know that this isn’t a ‘skim through the pages’ or ‘read for pastime’ kind of read. RITZ

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Publisher: Tara Books

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At first, you might not want to even pick up the book. Not because you’ve read bad reviews about

Price: Rs 275

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The story revolves around the life of Di, Clemmie, Kulay and Addy, all of whom are in search of their own identity, masked by the region’s suffering. How their inner and outer worlds mirror each other and how they manage to realise the truths of their own existence forms the crux of this novel.

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Growing up or living in the north east of India can’t be a happy thing. At least that’s what comes through in what we see in the media and other reports. So, going with the expected, debutant author Daisy Hasan lets us into the life of people living in these strained parts of the world through her novel, The To-Let House, set in Shillong—one of India’s most-troubled regions. Launched at the Jaipur Literary Festival early this year, this book which was ‘long-listed’ for the 2008 Man Asian Literary Prize takes you on an emotional rollercoaster ride, leaving you wondering if things can ever be as confused, complicated and out of control as it seems in the story that unfolds.

and agitated side of Shillong, there is an effervescent one— filled with curiosity, innocence and positivity.

Why, even the first couple of chapters can unsettle you, with bits and pieces of information and poetic license thrown in for good measure. But, if you manage to go through that without putting the book away, you’ll see that besides the overly-dark

The To-Let House would seem a little more familiar and comfortable for someone who has lived or even spent a little time in Shillong. But, for anyone who has just about heard of the place, there might be a whole lot of explaining required. And, maybe that’s what this book is meant to do; you go back and do your research on Shillong! While the introduction to the place and its people is spot on (I say this after doing my own research!), nothing that is said here is out-of-the-ordinary, as the book chronicles what you might anyway imagine it to be. I would have liked to read about a few of those things that make this place special… things that aren’t so terrible after all! Having said that, the characters have an amazing emotional quality that drives the story through. Also, in many parts you’ll get a sense of ‘first hand’ information/emotion… a personal touch that makes you think about the life and the world that is Shillong.

—Karuna Amarnath

Here’s a list of Tara Books’ five hot sellers that you should look out for!

TWO MUCH Elephants Never Forget by Anushka Ravishankar A baby elephant is lost and alone in the forest, when a herd of buffaloes comes along and takes him into their fold... so what is he now – an elephant or a buffalo?

FIVE UP The Night life of Trees by Durga Bai, Bhajju Shyam & Ram Singh Urveti This exquisite hand-bound and screen-printed book has paintings by three of the finest artists of the Gond tribal art tradition. The Gonds, traditionally forest dwellers, believe that trees are hard at work during the day providing shelter and nourishment to all beings. Only at night can they finally rest, and reveal their true spirits. These luminous spirits are captured in The Night Life of Trees, a fascinating and haunting foray into the Gond imagination.

Inspired by a true story, this is a joyous tale in verse, which touches lightly on the themes of loss, adoption and integration with Christiane Pieper’s graphic woodcut-style illustrations.

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NUMERO UNO Do! by Ramesh Hengadi, Rasika Hengadi, Shantaram Dhadpe and Kusum Dhadpe, with Gita Wolf This book introduces children to basic verbs, aided by the elegantly minimalist pictograms of Warli art. Do! is a series of brilliantly drawn pictograms, which illustrate the verb and tell a story

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FOUR FOR JOY London Jungle Book by Bhajju Shyam Bhajju Shyam, of the Gond tribe of central India, disarmingly spins the west’s anthropological gaze back on itself in this stunning illustrated travelogue. Bhajju records his observations of London with radical innocence, great sophistication, and a lot of artistic license—he transforms the city’s streets, pubs and monuments into strange and unimagined bestiaries.

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AT NUMBER THREE SSSS: Snake Art & Allegory by Gita Wolf Standing in for our deepest fantasies and fears, the snake is as much a creature of our minds, as it is of the forest and fields. Combining art and legend, this stunning hand-printed book invokes the beauty and terror of Indian snake lore—from the enigmatic snake goddess Manasa, to Buddha’s sheltering snake.

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INDULGE

Hot Off The Shelves! These tracks are selling like hot cakes at a music store near you. GM Mala takes a look…

Crazy Heart: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Various Artistes This limited edition deluxe edition of the Crazy Heart Original Motion Picture soundtrack has a whopping 23 numbers, including the originals that Colin Farell and Jeff Bridges performed. Other performers include Buck Owens, Louvin Brothers, George Jones, Lucinda Williams and Ryan Bingham. A must buy in our opinion…

American VI: Ain’t No Grave Johnny Cash This is the sixth and final installment of singer Johnny Cash’s much-touted American Recordings album series. Each song is beautiful and sometimes spiritual, with several messages within it, some almost seeming like a personal rendition of the singer’s life. Songs like Redemption Day, For The Good Times, Cool Water and Aloha Oe are inspiring and apt for lovers of Cash’s other work. Time to go back in time.

Valleys Of Neptune Jimi Hendrix This new album features twelve unreleased studio recordings by Jimi Hendrix, all of which have been unheard…until now! Exciting arrangements of some of his signature songs like Red House and Stone Free are accompanied with interpretations of Bleeding Heart (Elmore James) and Sunshine Of Your Love (Cream). More power to you Jimi!

Love Never Dies Andrew Lloyd Webber If you’ve loved his award-winning versions of Phantom of the Opera, Evita and Cats, Webber’s latest will enchant as well. A follow up to the Phantom… Love Never Dies is the story of the phantom who has moved from the Paris Opera House to Coney Island, across the Atlantic, to haunt people there. The music is simply exquisite and haunting, and takes the story of the acclaimed musical forward. Get caught in this ‘web’ of love!

Alice In Wonderland Danny Elfman Walt Disney Pictures’ latest, Alice In Wonderland, now has its original soundtrack out on stands, created by Academy and Grammy nominated great, Danny Elfman. Just like the film itself, the score is magical and keeps in the theme of the classic tale. Alice’s theme song and all the other tracks add an element of fantasy to the score, so much so, that you can actually visualise the crazy goings-on down the rabbit hole! Transport yourself to Alice’s world…

On My iPod

Mandodari shuffles through fashion choreographer/ activist Sunil Menon’s iPod and picks his favourites…

Currently Playing On Loop: Color me Free by Joss Stone, Unexpected by Angie Stone and of course, the beautiful Alicia Keys—Elements of Freedom. My Fave Genres: I’d say Soul and R&B. Artistes I Would Recommend You Listen To: Women R&B/Soul singers! If I have to pick my hot favourites in no particular order, they’d be: veterans Chaka Khan, Anita Baker, Mary J Blige and Jennifer Holiday. The newer ones include Ledisi, Fantasia, Jennifer Hudson… Albums To Look Out For: Stronger with Each Tear by Mary J Blige. Also check out Sade and Toni Braxton! Fave Local Crooner: Sunitha Sarathy... She has a ‘soul’ful voice, which is very reminiscent of my fave R&B divas!

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In The Summertime… …we suggest you spend some time indoors with flicks that celebrate holidays! GM Mala gives you some options Summer Holiday (1963)

The Sisterhood Of The Travelling Pants (2005) Director: Ken Kwapis Actors: Amber Tamblyn, Alexis Bledel, America Ferrera, Blake Lively

Director: Peter Yates Actors: Cliff Richard, Lauri Peters This vintage musical is about four young bus mechanics who take a double-decker bus and venture out on a road trip in Europe. On the way, they meet three attractive girls and one stowaway American boy. A lot of fun and frolic ensues, especially when they discover that the American boy is actually a famous female singer who’s run away from home! Great music including the hits Bachelor Boy and Put On Your Dancing Shoes.

Director: Reema Kagti Actors: Boman Irani, Shabana Azmi, Ameesha Patel, Kay Kay Menon, Raima Sen, Abhay Deol This movie deals with six honeymooning couples, and what exactly happens when they come together on a tour with a company called—you guessed it—Honeymoon Travels Private Limited. There is a middle-aged couple, a traditional Bengali couple, two couples where both men are closet homosexuals (!), one person who runs away with her true love while on honeymoon, and get this – two superheroes! The movie is fun and the adventures on the tour bus are detailed well.

Honeymoon Travels Private Limited (2007)

After the super success of the teenage series by Anne Brashares (of the same name), this movie comes as a breath of fresh air to satiated movie watchers. Four best friends have spent all their summers together, until they are teenagers. However, they keep in touch with one another through a magical pair of jeans, which fits all of them despite the size difference! The experience is one of coming-of-age as well.

Director: Chris Columbus Actors: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern Now we know this isn’t about summer vacation, but we couldn’t ignore the most popular Hollywood film about holidays! Home Alone is about Kevin McAllister, an eight-year-old boy who’s left behind at home by mistake while his family leaves to celebrate Christmas in Paris! He copes with cooking, housekeeping and even burglars trying to break in. Although there are several sequels, there has been nothing quite like the original.

Home Alone (1990)

Goa (2010)

Director: Venkat Prabhu Actors: Jai, Sneha, Vaibhav Reddy, Premji Amaran, Aravind Akash The recently released Goa is about a group of friends who visit Goa to enjoy their vacation. However, things are not as simple as they seem, and there are a lot of unexpected adventures and misadventures to deal with. Labelled a ‘thriller’ by its makers, it also has the right amount of comedy, drama and action.

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INDULGE

What’s the point of reviewing movies that might have already left the screens, we wondered. And that’s how we came about giving you our opinion on some of the world movies doing the rounds… they won’t go out of fashion and will always be great conversation starters! Vijay Saravanan picks two flicks in no particular genre, order or language, and tells you what he thinks about them…

Ying Xiong (Hero) Cast: Jet Li, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Maggie Cheung, Ziyi Zhang Director: Yimou Zhang Language: Mandarin Year of Release: 2002 This modern take on the classic wuxia sub-genre of movie-making is a lavish spectacle with extremely wellchoreographed action sequences galore. When a movie is promoted with the tagline ‘presented by Quentin Tarantino’, you definitely expect all this and more! And to a certain extent, it does not disappoint. The story, which is a retelling of the legendary Jing Ke folktale, revolves around the protagonist, the eponymous hero, and his exploits in ridding the Chinese Kingdom of the greatest threats to its existence. The cinematography is exquisite, especially in the different flashbacks of the nameless hero. The visuals are extremely vivid and captivating, and the action sequences, impressive. The only aspect that you feel is lacking is the absence of a truly compelling and original storyline. Granted, it is a retelling of an ancient folktale. And such tales, by their very nature, are the stuff that clichés are made of. But couldn’t the film makers, knowing this, have tried just a wee bit to add their own unique touches to the story, you wonder… Verdict: Ideal for anyone who’s into martial arts or action. Rating: WOW: The fantastic and well-choreographed action sequences. EWW: The far too simplistic and clichéd storyline. Also, some people might find this movie to be overtly jingoistic.

Persepolis Cast: Chiara Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve, Danielle Darrieux Directors: Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Paronnaud Language: French Year of Release: 2007 This remarkable animated movie is based on the autobiographical graphic novel of the same name by Marjane Satrapi, the co-director. It chronicles the life of young Marjane’s early days in the religiously intolerant atmosphere of Iran after the Muslim uprising against the US-backed Shah of Iran, and follows her as a teenager in the incredibly-liberal atmosphere of Vienna. Right from her beliefs as a child that she is a budding Prophetess who can talk to God, scoring Iron maiden tapes from black marketers as a youngster, experiencing culture shock at the extremely liberal ways in Vienna as a teenager, we are taken through the veritable smorgasbord of experiences that was life for Marjane Satrapi. This is one of those few movies that, while being extremely entertaining, also have a huge potential to educate us and open our minds to what life must be like in a country like Iran. While being predominantly upbeat, it is also brutally honest at times. In fact, some of the content of the movie has been deemed so controversial that the Iranian government has formally registered protest in quite a few forums. This Oscar nominee is definitely a must-watch for all those of you who appreciate good cinema. Verdict: A true story, honestly told. A classic recipe for good cinema that does not disappoint! Rating: WOW: The entire visual design of the movie, which so brilliantly manages to bring to the screen the evocative imagery of the original graphic novel without losing any of the impact in the process. EWW: The only complaint is that the starkness, though it is by design, may make the film a little bleak for some.

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A Sizzle

That Fizzled

The very mention of the word Kobe gets your mind wandering and thinking of the most succulent and flavourful meat from the land of the rising sun.That was enough for us to head to the latest entrant into the rapidly expanding Chennai food scene, Kobe Sizzlers on Khader Nawaz Khan Road...

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ucked away in a row of houses off Chennai’s own high street, our first impression of Kobe was of a functional restaurant with simple interiors and some interesting art on the wall. We did not waste any time in ordering our starters and beverages, and opted for an iced-tea to kick things off. The tea was way too sweet and had to be sent back twice before we threw the towel in and settled on a safer option—a fresh lime soda (still no signs of high

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sugar prices!) and a bottled Orangina. The tomato soup with noodles had generous croutons, but we could not shake off the feeling that watered down, sweetened tomato ketchup was a key ingredient in the soup! Our two starters, a chicken hot dog and the chilli cheese did not sizzle either; the hot dog was average and came with some run-ofthe-mill Cole slaw, but was saved by some excellent fries (if you are a fan of thick, soggy fries you are in for a treat). Thank god for the kasundi mustard on

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the table, the hot dog went in. The chilli cheese toast that did grace our table, turned out to be an imposter. It was pure white sauce with a hint of cheese on top of some ‘modern’ bread. All in all, a forgettable beginning to our meal. Our enthusiasm a wee bit dampened, it was time to plunge into what Kobe is famous for— their sizzlers. We ordered the Steak Satellite, Chicken Satellite, Hokkaido Chicken and the Veg Steak with pepper sauce for the lone herbivore amongst us. The sizzlers arrived, well sizzling and the first thing that struck was the very generous portions. All of the sizzlers had copious quantities of vegetables, sauces and the yummy fries we had described earlier. The satellites were topped with a generous dollop of


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cream and a slice of cheese. The steak was cooked well and the meat was soft, tender, and went well with the mild sauce. The Chicken Satellite was with a similar sauce, the meat nicely done. The Hokkaido Chicken was the pick of the lot with a nice oriental sauce over the generous helping of chicken and veggies. The Veg steak was a small cutlet over a huge mound of rice and some limpid pepper sauce, which elicited a fair bit of grumbling from our vegetarian. Overall, the main courses were a lot better than the starters, though they did not get our taste buds craving for more! There is always sufficient space for a sweet ending. We settled on the ubiquitous Caramel custard and the recommended Sizzling Brownie. The caramel custard looked good and was floating in copious quantities of sauce. True to its appearance, it tasted good.

The sizzling brownie on the other hand, was quite a disappointment with a grainy tasteless sauce sizzling around an average brownie. The service at the restaurant, though quick, was not helpful. There were a few instances when we could not get the recommendations we wanted, the staff seemed pretty clueless and inexperienced. One the whole, we do wish that they will give a lot more attention to the food and hope that our experience was a result of birth pangs of a newly opened restaurant. We hope that the next time we are there, they would have gotten their act together, and live up to the famous Kobe name that they carry. Kobe is at No. 10, Khader Nawaz Khan Road, Nungambakkam. Phone: 2833 2711/2

—Gorge(ous) Connoisseurs

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Summer Coolers Make yourself one of these ‘chill-out’ mocktails to douse out the summer heat! Chef Hushmoin Patell of The Raintree Hotel has been in the hospitality industry for over eight years. Armed with a degree in hotel management from the Welcomgroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration, Manipal, he started his career with The Park, Chennai as a Kitchen Management Trainee in May 2002, later taking over as the Kitchen Executive at The Park Chennai. After a short stint in Mumbai, Chef returned to Chennai to take care of the operations at The Raintree.

Calypso Glass: Highball Ingredients Pineapple juice, 11/2-ounces Raspberry juice, 1 ounce Orange juice, ½ ounce Lemon juice, 2 tsp Method •Shake all the ingredients together with ice and strain to a highball glass. •Top it up with soda. •Perch the slices of fruit on the rim of the glass. •Garnish with a slice each of lemon and orange.

PEPPER MINT TONIC Glass: Collins Ingredients Lemon juice, ¾ ounce Peppermint syrup, 1 ounce Tonic water, to top up Lemon peel, one spiral Method •Mix lemon juice and syrup together in a Collins glass. •Top up with tonic water and ice. •Garnish with a lemon peel spiral over the edge of the glass.

PEACH TREE Glass: Rock glass Ingredients Peach nectar, 31/2 ounces Orange juice, 2 ounce Lemon juice, a dash Orange, 1 slice Peach, 1 wedge Mint, a few leaves Method •Shake the ingredients together with ice in the shaker and strain to a rock glass. •Add the mint to the glass. •Garnish with a slice of orange and a wedge of peach.

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LUMBER JACK Glass: Punch glass Ingredients Orange, 1, sliced Apples, 2, cut into matchsticks Banana, 1, peeled and sliced Orange juice, 200 ml Apple juice, 200 ml Banana juice, 7 ounce Lemonade, 500 ml Non-alcoholic grenadine, 30 ml Method •Cut a slice of orange into four pieces and put them to a punch bowl with the remaining fruit juices. •Cover and refrigerate for one hour. •Take out, add lemonade and serve chilled.


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CHILL PILL

Forget about those extra calories for a while and beat the heat at these hot 5 ice cream joints in town. And hey, we even have recommendations to make things easier!

Choco-Dip at Milky Way If Chennai knows what ‘Italian softie’ means, it is thanks to Milky Way. This forerunner made magic by not only serving you ice creams of your choice, but also dipping it in hot, delicious chocolate! And, that’s why the original Choco-Dip makes it to our list of hot 5! Creamy vanilla ice-cream lovingly dipped into warm, luscious molten chocolate, and voila! A fabulous Vanilla Softie hugged by a crunchy chocolate outer layer. This humble cone never falls short of our expectations! PS: Ask for a waffle cone while you’re at it.

Banana Kulfi at Freez Zone Chances are you might have been blinded by the flashy ‘Freez Zone’ signboard and missed the ‘Kulfi Corner’ vinyl just next to it! Walk into Freez Zone not just for the usual ice cream cones and cups, but an amazing selection of kulfis as well. Made of real fruit, the Banana Kulfi is our pick; mashed into the mixture, it’ll keep you guessing about whether you’re eating a kulfi or just good old banana! Mothers: It is a great alternative for fussy kids, who refuse to eat their regular dose of fruit unless disguised as a fun ice-cream on a wooden stick!

Ferrero Rocher at Emilio’s Even if you taste your way through the regular range of gelatos (including melon!), you’re sure to pick the Ferrero Rocher at Emilo’s, which makes the much-loved chocolate even tastier (if that’s possible!). This low on fat, vegetarian Italian ice-cream will leave you clamoring for more with the rich brown ice-cream dotted with real chocolate. We suggest you top it with some white chocolate sauce and almonds. Watch your toppings being mixed into the ice-cream on a slab kept at minus 18 degrees Celsius. Yes, on the new cold stone that is now available only at Emilio’s!

Coconut sorbet at Movenpick Here’s an alcoholic something that even a teetotaler cannot resist! The ageless Baileys creamy liqueur, a combination of rich Irish whiskey and cream, just got richer courtesy Fresco recreating the magic of Baileys on ice. This gelato minimises the strength of the liqueur and makes it low calorie without losing the timeless flavour. A smart alternative for grown up kids with fussy parents, eh?

Baileys at Fresco

After the ice creams and gelatos come the sorbets. Especially if you live in the Southern part of India, this sorbet will introduce you to a familiar flavour in the most delightful way! The coconut-flavoured sorbet at Movenpick melts in your mouth, transporting you to either the green coastlines of Kerala or Goa, some exotic Caribbean island or homemade cooking! We love how real the coconut sorbet at Movenpick tastes.

—Swetha P Venkataramani

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Photos: Loga rk

Oh-so-Stuffed!

Binge on Seagull’s Brunch for the ambience around the restaurant, long drive down the East Coast Road and the salad spread...

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there’s a big main course lineup awaiting requested by everyone at the table! you! Seagull also has a different menu in The main course has a regular mix of the ‘show kitchen’, and this time it was Indian (recipes from the north and delicacies from the good ol’ tandoor. We south) and Continental fare on offer with tried the veg and chicken seekh kebab, dishes like roasted vegetable cannelloni which was fresh, soft and delicious when grattinee, white pumpkin more paired with the mint chutney. As kozhambu, pork bean and potato for live stations, there was a Z pie and seafood chilli black RIT Manchurian counter, which bean being the hot picks. we gave a miss (after being G There’s also the customary N I O bored of the Manchurians ON G ER pappad, more molaga, in regular Chinese fare), OFF thayir vada and pickles on a cheela and chutney offer, which can be teamed counter, a chef making fresh with thayir saadam to end mini frankies and the allthe meal like pure-bred southtime-favourite ‘make your own Indians. pasta’ section. Note: Ensure you stand and watch the chef make the pasta else Of course, you can’t stuff yourself he’ll put topping you didn’t ask for or too much because your eyes are set on worse, a combination of various toppings the 24 different kinds of desserts on display! Six chocolate counters, eight continental dishes, four Indian desserts, Overall Experience: 3.5/5 fresh fruits and ice-cream—the dessert Ambience: Crowded, especially over the display comes in a close second to the weekend. The restaurant isn’t big enough to salad bar for its exhaustive assemble, but handle so many people and an exhaustive unfortunately, doesn’t match up in taste menu at the same time. or variety. Service: So-so, primarily because they are RITZ

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f you want to experience the special brunch at Seagull, it’s imperative you book in advance because this small restaurant is literally bursting at its seams on a Sunday. We had to wait for about fifteen minutes for a table so without wasting much time, we ordered a Mojito and then champagne, which was complimentary with the meal. A couple of side-eats later, our appetites were racing and luckily, a table got free just in time. The good thing about Seagull’s Sunday Brunch is that it is exhaustive, with nearly half the restaurant filled with food stations. So we started off at the salad bar, which by far is one of the largest in the city, with about eight veg and non-veg salads on offer. Hawaiian seafood salad, Moroccan spiced pork sausage salad, five spiced tenderloin carpaccio in mustard cream and onions, mushroom pesto mayonnaise, German potato salad, baby corn and cherry tomato anti pasti… along with a whole host of dips, dressings and salsas, this salad bar was absolutely mouth-watering. Take it from someone who runs a mile from anything too green or ‘healthy’— this is definitely the highlight of the Brunch! There are two soups of the day and a whole host of breads to choose from, but don’t OD on them because

so busy. Make sure you call out for your complimentary beverage refills and for any made-to-order dishes; else you might miss out on it! Pricing: Rs 1,100 (plus taxes)

Seagull is at Taj Fisherman’s Cove, Covelong Beach, Kanchipuram District, East Coast Road. For reservations, call 67413333

—Karuna Amarnath


MAINCOURSE

Italy Ahoy! The Park’s award-winning Italia comes to the city and that’s what we’re going to give you a sneak peek into this time around. Karuna Amarnath reports...

Rating: 3.5/5 Ambience: Designed by some of the best in the industry including Rajesh Pratap Singh, this restaurant in black, red and silver is quite chic and contemporary. But, we’re not sure how anyone will be able to go through a meal in the glasscovered, open-to-the-sun sit-out area that and has ‘uber posh’ chairs designed by Philippe Starck of France that look most uncomfortable!

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almonds, Sicilian caponata and chicken and olive salad. Paired with the popular Aussie shiraz, Jacob’s Creek, we couldn’t have asked for a better start to our meal.

Service: Friendly but looked a tad confused. It’s only time before they pick up steam!

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f Pod meant nothing more than what you’d find inside shelled peas, don’t be flustered! Not many of us knew about this hotel, nor were we very excited to go back after it launched last year. Firstly, because it exuded an ‘I’m too cool for you’ aura, which didn’t go down too well with our laid-back Chennai populace. Secondly, the ‘gourmet’ concept meant that you had to sell your kidneys before you could afford to dine at their restaurant. And, let’s not even go to the portions that could very well have been wearing Harry Potter’s invisible coat! So, when The Park Pod launched last month, many loyalists went (albeit hesitantly!) to check out Italia, the hotel’s most-popular Italian specialty restaurant. Now, anyone who has dined at 601 at The Park will know that the hotel is bestknown for their Italian cuisine, and to say that the food disappointed would be a lie! Familiar faces like the PRO Sarah Stephanos-Basu and Executive Chef Rajesh Radhakrishnan helped ease us into our meal, which started with antipasti— crostini topped with roasted peppers and

Italia has separate menus for lunch and dinner giving you lighter options like paninis, antipasti and bar snacks for your day meal and heavier dishes like pastas and cannellonis to end the night. While we flipped through the menu and sipped on our delicious zuppe (cannelloni bean and porcini mushroom soup), we were told that the pizza ovens were on their way from Italy, so it’ll be available on the menu by the end of this month! Next up was a portion of bow tie pasta with zucchini and spinach polpette, as well as a roll of mouth-watering delizia of san Daniele ham topped with emmenthal and parmesan cheese; for a cheese addict, this was akin to hitting a home run. For main course we had a portion of Chilean sea bass (topped on roasted potatoes with fragrant lime and garnished with single estate extra virgin olive oil), crumb-fried chops (with haricot beans salad and sun-dried tomato pesto) and a portion of gnocchi romana (with emmenthal, smoked scamorza and mixed mushroom ragu)… yummy!

Overall Experience: Priced lesser than The Park’s 601, the dining experience at Italia is surely value for money. Pricing: An a la carte meal for two would cost around Rs 750 (excluding wine). Prices for cocktails vary depending on your taste.

Just enough space for dessert, we ordered a small portion of organic vanilla panna cotta, which came with pomegranate sauce, some chocolate and grand marnier pot, warm chocolate cake with vanilla bean gelato and some mango and campari sorbet. While the sorbet didn’t really compliment the rest of our desserts, we recommend you try the warm chocolate cake with vanilla bean gelato! Oozing fudge-y chocolate from the inside, this cake and ice-cream combo really does melt in your mouth. The chocolate and grand marnier pot on the other hand, is for anyone (if there is such a person!) who wants an instant calorie boost! With a whole new team and delicious food in tow, The Park’s new hotel is sure to see many more walk-ins, though it might take them some time to wipe off the ‘only for elite’ tag!

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SNAPPED!

For A Cause WHAT: The screening of two internationally acclaimed films by Rajesh S Jala WHEN: March 24 WHERE: Hotel Savera, Dr RK Salai, Mylapore Billroth Hospitals and Dr V Jeganathan Foundation held a screening of two internationally acclaimed films—Floating Lamp Of The Shadow Valley and Children Of The Pyre by Rajesh S Jala. This was followed by the presentation of a cheque to the international NGO, PLAN, for their project on child rehabilitation. The outreach programme was organised by Canswer, a cancer awareness campaign by Dr V Jeganathan Foundation.

Play On WHAT: A concert with the famed Prinses Ensemble from The Netherlands WHEN: March 13 WHERE: The Ballroom, Taj Coromandel The Netherlands Business Support Office—Chennai along with Taj Coromandel hosted a special evening of music with the Prinses Ensemble, featuring Nora Fischer (vocals), Andrea Vasi (piano), Bas Treub (violin) and Rianne Jongsma (flute).

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SNAPPED!

Shaking A Leg WHAT: The inauguration of the IBO Dance Studio WHEN: March 22 WHERE: Kakani Towers, Khader Nawaz Khan Road, Nungambakkam at 10.00am. The IBO Dance Studio was launched in the presence of celebrity guest Padmashree Kamal Hasan, who lit the lamp. Guests of Honour included actors Suriya, Prabhudeva, Radhika, Illeana, Jayam Ravi and many other celebrities from the Tamil film fraternity.

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SNAPPED!

Turning One WHAT: The first anniversary of On The Rocks WHEN: March 12 WHERE: Sheraton Park Hotel & Towers On The Rocks, the signature grills restaurant at Sheraton Park Hotel & Towers rang in its first anniversary with a luncheon with creative celebrity chef Danny Russo, for a select few media invitees.

Sari Soiree WHAT: The launch of the book Indian Saris: Traditions-Perspectives-Design WHEN: March 26 WHERE: Landmark, Citi Centre, RK Salai, Mylapore Wisdom Tree—New Delhi, National Institute of Design—Ahmedabad and Landmark released the book Indian Saris: Traditions-Perspectives-Design by Vijai Singh Katiyar, accomplished designer and a senior faculty member at the NID. Theatre personality and writer Gowri Ramnarayan released the book in the presence of Anita Ratnam, danseuse and cultural activist. The book lends a new dimension to the way the traditional Indian sari is looked at, and upholds it as an epitome of holistic design with a unique creative expression. In the backdrop of Indian social-cultural and economic ethos, the book unfolds the mesmerising woven yards of the sari, the quintessential garment that has adorned the Indian woman since time immemorial. The author is also founder of the International Center for Indian Crafts at NID.

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SNAPPED!

More Launches WHAT: The inauguration of Studio Fabric WHEN: March 20 WHERE: H-18/3, Tiger Varadacharry Road, Kalakshethra Colony, Besant Nagar Studio Fabric was launched last month, with a select gathering in attendance. The inauguration was attended by actor Vikram.

Art Attack WHAT: A preview of Tranquility – an exhibition of paintings WHEN: March 19 WHERE: Brew, Taj Mount Road Sanjay Sood, General Manager Taj Mount Road, and Palaniappan Ramanathan of The Faraway Tree Gallery held a preview of Tranquility - an exhibition of paintings. Artists at the live camp included Akkitham Narayanan, Gurdeep Singh, Kriti Chandak, Akmal Hussain, John Tun Sein, Nirmala Biluka, Babu Eshwar Prasad, Laxman Aelay, Premalatha Seshadri, Bibekananda Santra and Keiko Mima. A part of sale proceeds went to the Mahesh Memorial Trust for pediatric cancer.

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SNAPPED!

Hair Care WHAT: The launch of the Studio Profile Academy in collaboration with Schwarzkopf Professional WHEN: March 17 WHERE: Studio Profile, Adyar The Studio Profile Academy was inaugurated by Najeeb Ur Rehman, National Head, Schwarzkopf Professional. Mita Banker and Jennifer of Studio Profile co-hosted the elegant wine and cheese evening.

ADVERTORIAL

Of Many Firsts J ennifer Buhr, Le Royal Meridien’s new General Manager, who was born in Kuwait as the 1st European twin, has been educated and raised in India and Pakistan. She started her hotel career in 1972 at ITT Sheraton’s Regional Sales Office in Frankfurt. She went on to work in several organisations across the world including Munich, Germany, Abu Dhabi, UAE and Sofia, Bulgaria. Jennifer became the first woman general manager to run a hotel in Gaborone, Botswana in 1991, and followed it up with an assignment in Edinburgh, Scotland. She went on to become the first woman to operate a 5-star hotel in Lisbon, Portugal, and then opened the first 5 star resort in Gambia, West Africa. Not resting on her laurels, Jennifer also worked at the renowned

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Sheraton Dreamland in Dreamland Cairo. Ask her about the key events that have impacted her career, and she surprises you by saying, “My marriage, the birth of my son, my first appointment as General Manger, and travelling to a myriad of destinations across the world.” While Jennifer is testimony to the saying ‘hard work pays’, her work philosophy is defined by the quotes of two great achievers: “We are what we repeatedly do: excellence then is not an art but a habit,” by Aristotle, and, “Our doubts are traitors and make we lose the good we often might win by fearing to attempt,” by William Shakespeare. More power to you Jennifer, and here’s wishing you all the very best!

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Meet Jennifer Buhr, the lady who is all set at the helm of Le Royal Meridien in the city...


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