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talk Volume 1 | Issue 34 | April 4, 2013 | Rs 10

magazine

the intelligent bangalorean’s must-read weekly

AYYOTOONS Sanjay Dutt and the clamour for pardon 5 JOURNALISM CK Meena on why Justice Katju is wrong 6 SUMMER CAMPS A selection for your kids 16

WHY ARE OUR PUBLIC

LIBRARIES DYING? Poor maintenance, purchase rackets and skewed policies leave Bangalore's public library system in a shambles. And the BBMP is pocketing a good portion of the Rs 60 crore library cess it collects from citizens every year, reports MARGOT COHEN 10-15

PLUS A list of Bangalore’s best institutional libraries where you can spend an enriching summer


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Savie Karnel’s story on adopted stray dogs made me cry happy tears Read Savie Karnel's story on people who adopted stray dogs that were wounded or disabled (Stray, disabled and loved, Issue 33). I’m crying, but with happy tears.

indicate their breed. If the purpose is to indicate that they were rescued from the road, and were strays earlier, it is fine. They are pets and should be called Indian dogs. Vinay Narayanaswamy Vijayanagar

Lisa Kocsis Kumar via Facebook Kind hearts I really liked Talk’s story on disabled stray dogs. I felt sad to read their stories, but was also glad there are kindhearted people out there to love these abandoned dogs.

Thank God for happy endings I was touched by your story on adopted stray dogs. They have had such sad stories, but it feels good to know they got happy endings, thank God! All in all, a great read. Mari Quimbo Lalana via Facebook

Refreshing read Rochelle Lucas Read the latest issue of via Facebook Talk magazine. I have to say I like this mag! A very refreshing read, and going Why ‘stray’? by the stories I read, Good work on the dog credible too. Keep up the adoptions story. But I wonder why you have used good work. the word ‘stray’ in your Ayesha Khanum headline? I hope the word via Facebook ‘stray’ was not used to

team talk EDITORIAL

EXECUTIVE TEAM

SR Ramakrishna Editor Sridhar K Chari Consulting Editor Prashanth GN Senior Editor Sajai Jose Chief Copy Editor Savie Karnel Principal Correspondent Basu Megalkeri Principal Correspondent Prachi Sibal Senior Features Writer Sandra Fernandes and Maria Laveena Reporters and Copy Editors Anand Kumar K Chief of Design Shridhar G Kulkarni Graphic Designer Ramesh Hunsur Senior Photographer Vivek Arun Graphics Artist

Sumith Kombra Founder, CEO and Publisher Abhay Sebastian Asst Manager - Sales Mithun Sudhakar Asst Manager - Sales Kishore Kumar N Head - Circulation Vinayadathan KV Area Manager - Trade Yadhu Kalyani Sr Executive Corporate Sales Lokesh KN Sr Executive Subscriptions Prabhavathi Executive Circulation Sowmya Kombra Asst Process Manager

Printed and published by Sumith Kombra on behalf of Shakthi Media Ventures India Pvt Ltd FF70, Gold Towers, Residency Road, Bangalore -560025 and printed at Lavanya Mudranalaya, Chamarajpet, Bangalore-560018. Editor: SR Ramakrishna. Editorial Office: FF70, Gold Towers, Residency Road, Bangalore 560025 Email: info@talkmag.in Phone: 08040926658. © All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without permission is prohibited.

women, girls and even babies who can Rapists merit severe punishment barely walk are raped. Severe punishment Read your story on rape victim Bhanwari needs to be meted out to these rapists. Devi (The fiery one, Issue 32) and was shocked by what she has had to go through. Radhika Suvarna My heart goes out to this brave lady, who is by email still waiting for justice, 20 years later. Every single day, newspaper reports reveal that Write to letters@talkmag.in

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COVER: The State Central Library in Cubbon Park Pic: Ramesh Hunsur


first person

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editor talk

FRAMED? Naveen Soorinje says he was booked because his report showed the Mangalore police in a bad light

Life among the thieves Imprisoned on charges of abetting a goon trial, Naveen won the friendship of other inmates. Talk brings you, attack on a homestay in Mangalore, in his own words, an account of his life in jail: reporter Naveen Soorinje spent four months in prison with burglars and Barrack A for Muslims, gangsters. Released on bail this week after Barrack B for Hindus was sent to Barrack No 1 in the A a victim testified to his innocence, he Idivision. I had no separate cell, and shared the dormitory-like barbrings back from behind bars astonishing rack with many others. The stories of honesty and camaraderie Dakshina Kannada district central

SAVIE KARNEL savie.karnel@talkmag,in

aveen Soorinje, the TV reporter jailed on charges of abetting an attack on a homestay at Mangalore, is out on bail. The court granted him bail on March 23 after a victim testified that he had actually helped thwart the attackers and protect the boys and girls hanging out at the home stay. Thanks to his four-month stint in jail, Naveen (29) has returned with new experiences. After spending time with men serving gangsters like Dawood Ibrahim and Ravi Pujari, he feels he is a better-informed journalist. By organising a hunger strike for better food and drafting applications for jail inmates seeking early

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The jail staff and inmates were good to me. The staff woke us up at 6 am. A cop could come to each inmate and hit the floor with a lathi to wake him up. He would then take a count to check if anyone had died overnight. While he woke up everyone in my barrack, he would let me sleep on. He wouldn’t wake up the gangsters either. He would tiptoe into their barrack. Those involved in comjail is divided into two divisions: A munal riots enjoy special priviand B. The B side houses Hindu leges. The jailer ensures the door communal elements, including does not creak and disturb their those involved in the home stay sleep. Even among jail inmates, attacks. They also house Hindu underworld gangsters owing alle- rioters enjoy a special status. The Hindus respect their rioters and giance to don Ravi Pujari. The A division, where I was the Muslims theirs. They feel they have done somesent, is divided into thing for the cause five barracks. It Communal of their religions. mostly houses fights in jail Whenever commuMuslims. The first nal fights break out barrack had are resolved in jail, underworld thieves, burglars, by the dons dons bring about dacoits and rapists. peace. Rasheed The second had wife beaters and murderers, and Malabari controls the Muslims, men who couldn’t afford lawyers. and Ganesh Shetty of Dawood’s The third housed Naxals and petty gang pacifies the Hindus. The jail inmates have their criminals. The fourth housed underworld don Rasheed Malabari own rules. Whenever a rapist and his accomplice Yusuf, among comes in, they give him a thrashothers. The fifth had men who ing and force him to clean toilets worked for don Dawood Ibrahim. every day. A wife-beater or wifekiller gets the job of cooking, sweeping and mopping. Inmates Rioters are guaranteed a don’t lie about their crimes in jail. good night’s sleep I was respected in jail, and treated They openly admit what they did well. People there believe journal- among themselves, and are casual ists are educated and influential. about it. They may lie in court and

In school and college, my generation spent a lot of time at Bangalore's public libraries. Summers meant cricket and time at the libraries. As a schoolboy, I frequented the City Central Libraries in Jayanagar and Basavanagudi. I loved not just the magazines and the Hardy Boys adventures but also books about the Emergency, many of which read like thrillers. Things have changed since. Middle-class children attend summer camps, or play games on their mobiles and tablets. Margot Cohen, who researched our cover story over several weeks, found other reasons for our libraries losing their appeal. The BBMP, a fountainhead of corruption, collects a library cess from citizens but does not hand it over to the libraries department. Our story gains perspective from her familiarity with New York, which has infused new life into its libraries. In a Bangalore intent on monetising every inch of real estate, libraries and concert halls look like a waste of space, but they are invaluable to the city's intellectual and artistic life. Our story also suggests ways in which our libraries can draw more visitors. For the benefit of booklovers looking forward to an enriching summer, we also list little-known institutional libraries open to the public. We have three journalism-related stories this week. Novelist, columnist and journalism educator CK Meena responds sharply to Justice Markandey Katju's suggestion that certification be made mandatory for journalists. Savie Karnel brings you an account of what reporter Naveen Soorinje experienced in jail. And we have Basu Megalkeri reporting on film star Ramya going to the police with a frivolous complaint against a photojournalist. For 26 weeks, we have carried Sensei Avinash Subramanyam's wisdom in our budo column. So what's a typical day like in his life? That's among the treats awaiting you in this edition. SR Ramakrishna ram@talkmag.in


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to the police, but they never lie to fellow are the ones who actually tried to steal the gold.” They couldn’t help the wrongly prisoners. accused, but they became friends. Many innocent people are also lodged Booze-happy friends who in jail. Some months ago, the police had get nabbed for burglary Sometimes wrongfully accused people sent out a press note claiming they had meet the real offenders. There was an arrested a chain snatcher. It carried a mug attempted burglary in Belthangady, where shot of the offender. The police said his a gang tried to steal gold ornaments from a technique was to stand in dark corners on temple safe. A group of burglars observed lonely streets. The moment a woman that the temple was about to be repaired. passed by, he allegedly snatched her chain Four of them joined the contractor as and ran away. The police had booked him masons and studied the movement of its for scores of cases at different places. staff and the location of the safe. One night, they broke into the temple. To their The shocking truth about the bad luck, the door came unhinged and ‘lurking chain-snatcher’ crashed, making a loud noise. As the neigh- I met him in jail. He is physically chalbours rushed out, the burglars fled. The vil- lenged. He doesn’t have a leg. How could lagers gave chase and informed the police. he ever snatch a chain and run away? Many The burglars went over a hill and hid there. times, we journalists simply publish what is Four others were drinking on the hill- said in a press note. We do not cross check. top, and didn’t bother to ask the burglars We carry the picture given to us, and do why they were running. The villagers came not care to find out the story behind the up and caught the drinkers. When the picture. police arrived, their sniffer dogs also Many who have committed crimes stopped near the innocent group. One of such as theft, for which the maximum jail the four had been accused in a theft case term is two years, have been languishing earlier. The police assumed there for three to four years. this group had tried to burThe reason is simply that Our hunger gle the temple, and arrested there aren’t enough escorts them. to take them to court. The strike to get The original burglars police arrest them, but do better food went on to steal rubber sap not spare personnel to take worked from an estate. When a them for trial. I wrote applipolice constable tried to cations for many and asked catch them, they beat him up badly. the jail superintendent to appoint escorts Because of this, the police looked for them for them. He would heed my request. relentlessly and nabbed them. The two Breakfast was served from 7 am to 8 groups met in jail. During one of their am. We usually got idli. One inmate would chats, the drinking group told its story. On go and get idlis for everyone in the barrack. hearing it, the real burglars said, “Oh! We Lunch was served from 10 am to 11.30 am

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The Mangalore homestay attack

A ‘MORAL’ ASSAULT One of the victims of the attack on Morning Mist homestay in Mangalore

On July 28 last year, members of the Hindu Jagarana Vedike attacked Morning Mist, a homestay in Mangalore. Some college students were celebrating a birthday there. The assailants barged in and beat them up. They even stripped a boy and a girl and locked them up in a room to make it look like they were 'immoral.' Naveen Soorinje, a reporter with the Kannada TV channel Kasturi News 24, reported the attack live. Within minutes of the video footage going on air, the incident caught national attention. Shocked citizens throughout the country demanded action against the assailants. The police booked those responsible for the attack, but also hauled in Naveen as one of them. Naveen finally got bail on March 23 after one of the victims told the court he was not part of the group that attacked them.

and dinner from 3.30 pm to 5 pm. It was always plain rice and sambar, without any side dish. I cannot live without fish, so a friend would fetch fish for me every day from outside. The rice was of low quality. People living there for years look famished. I rallied everyone together to go on a hunger strike. We demanded that a magistrate visit us to hear our pleas, but senior policemen came instead. I asked the jail they had another motive too. They wantsuperintendent to give us details of the ed their Hindu counterparts in the other kitchen tenders. After that, the quality of division to hear them. food improved. I have returned to work at Kasturi TV. My editor has been supportive. Even when I was in jail for four months, my employers A farewell party, and return credited my salary regularly. I learnt a lot to work at the TV channel and gained insights into what happens When the inmates learnt I was going out within the prison walls. But four months on bail, they sought permission from the jail authorities to organise a farewell. The was too long. Just two months might have Muslim inmates garlanded me and shout- been enough! I plan to write a book on my experiences in jail. ed slogans. They did it affectionately, but


fun lines

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media matters

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COURTESY: SUNDAY MID-DAY

Journalists are not the problem Justice Katju wants journalists to have ‘formal qualifications’ to prevent erosion of standards. But the Press Council chief may be barking up the wrong tree

more copies, very time I step into an grabs more eyeundergrad classroom to balls. Editorial speak about journalism, I and Advertising make sure I have a fresh used to be like a supply of clippings that couple unable to would shock or amuse my teenaged get a divorce and listeners. Our English-language remaining forevnewspapers keep me well-stocked er legally separatwith hilarious headlines, clumsy sen- Markandey Katju tences, and slipshod, biased or insen- ed. Now, Advertising is the abusive sitive reporting. But I don’t think this husband bullying the wife into stayis what former Supreme Court justice ing in the marriage. And berating her Markandey Katju has been complain- for her faded looks, even as he pimps ing about. Has he actually examined for her. You think anyone’s interested the major dailies over the years and, in your wares? I’ll teach you how to be distressed by increasing instances of sexy, I’ll show you what the market bad journalistic practice, come to the wants. Mr Katju is well aware that stanconclusion that lack of “training” is the source of the decay? Or is he dards hit a new low with the notorimerely extending a purely logical ous practice of “paid news”. Maybe he argument: if you insist on degrees is not familiar with the equally unethand licenses to practise all other pro- ical practice of PR companies sugfessions, why make an exception for gesting story ideas about their clients, journalism? The latter, I would think. who then give ads to the papers that write about their prodMr Katju ucts. One such company states that “high Journalists are recently sent out emails standards” can be under pressure about its client which maintained only by sold costumes online for those with “formal to cover what role play in the bedqualifications.” I gets ads room: nurse, airline wonder if he has stewardess, schoolgirl, considered the part played by not only “untrained” jour- Playboy bunny, and so on. The press nalists but also media organisations release even provided a tagline that in lowering the standards of Indian could be used as a headline: “Bring journalism. It’s all very well to laugh the sizzle back in the sack.” TV channel reporters, with or at the gaffes that journalists make, but the changing priorities of media without media degrees and diplomas, barons are no laughing matter. The often announce rumours as facts in trivial and the unusual have gained their race to make “breaking news.” the most prominence on news pages Their employers, instead of pulling and TV screens. Journalists, whether them up, encourage such unprofes“trained” or not, are instructed to sional behaviour because “You heard cover what brings in more ads, sells it here first” scores over “We got it

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CK Meena Author and senior journalist who helped set up the Asian College of Journalism

right, but last.” Does Mr Katju think that qualifications and licenses would make a difference to this state of affairs? On the face of it, a mandatory journalism degree sounds like a good proposition. But no J-School can change the direction that Indian journalism seems determined to take. They can only serve the industry only by providing what it demands. Not too long ago, the industry demanded trainees who knew the principles of good journalism. Looking back on my experience in helping set up the Asian College of Journalism in Bangalore, I realise that our heyday was in the mid-late 1990s. We focussed on hands-on training, and we turned out skilled professionals for the newspaper industry. Although we gave our students a diploma at the end of the course, we made it clear that the certificate was just a piece of paper, and that what was of real value was what the course imparted. We were proved right when editors beat a path to our door and vied to employ our best students. My own qualification was a university degree, in keeping with what Mr Katju recommends: a government-certified course. But this may not be such a good idea if it doesn’t keep in touch with ground realities and its teachers have never worked in the media. I can safely say that I learnt most of what I know, not in class but on the job. I had mentors who taught me the crucial fundamentals: do your legwork, turn out a watertight story with absolutely no holes in it, speak to every source possible, do your background research, accept no bribes or favours.

Where are the mentors in today’s media organisations? They are too overworked to spare time to teach newcomers the ropes, and hence the genuine need for training. Taking journalism as an option at the degree level is just the starter; the main course should be an intensive stint in a J-School where the teachers are, or were, practising journalists. The course will not train students in what Mr Katju calls “areas of super-specialisations”, but will give them a taste of the areas they can specialise in after they’ve gained expertise in the basics. Skill alone does not suffice; trainees should be exposed to as wide a range of subjects and issues as possible. Existing J-Schools are mainly meant for English-language media, and there should be many more that serve media in other languages. I remember an ACJ colleague bravely declaring that he would train our students to be “commandos” infiltrating newspapers and changing their practices for the better. Instead, several of them quit the news business, saying, “We’ll get back to journalism when journalism changes for the better.” They were disillusioned by the industry’s crassly commercial bent, and found that their work environment undermined their training and the “high standards” we expected of them. The roles they had prepared for—watchdogs of society, champions of the voiceless—were being devalued. Training alone cannot create high standards of journalism, but sound training does have its benefits in organisations that maintain high standards of journalism.


political diary

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Prof BK Chandrashekhar

Oxford-returned MLA for Basavangudi? VOTE THIRSTY A tanker sponsored by S Raghu, CV Raman Nagar MLA, who claims the water is not sourced from BWSSB

Water for votes Violating the election code of conduct, Bangalore's politicians are wooing citizens in dry neighbourhoods by sending out tankers

welve MLAs in Bangalore have hit upon a novel plan to please their voters this hot summer: supplying free water in tankers.

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KJ George of Sarvajnanagar was among the first to put into practice the idea of using the tankers for personal publicity. Huge lorries visited slums and even more affluent neighbourhoods with his picture and his party's election symbol pasted prominently on them. Earlier this month, when a

child was run over by one such tanker in Govindarajapura, he told protesting citizens the vehicle was his, and pacified them.

George, a Malayali active in Karnataka politics since the days of S Bangarappa (chief minister from 1990 to '92), is among Bangalore's richest MLAs, and represents the Congress. Once the election code of conduct came into force, he couldn't continue having his picture on the tankers. He is now sending along his men with the tankers so that voters know who to thank. Talk found out MLAs were actually filling up their tankers at the BWSSB and then sending them as if it was an act of kindness on their part. In effect, they were using water from a government-run organisation to advance their personal popularity. Needless to say, this is unethical. S Raghu, MLA from CV Raman Nagar, and Satish Reddy, who represents Bommanahalli, were

also using this method to garner critical voter support. When Talk asked Raghu, he insisted that he was spending his own money and buying water from private suppliers. Meanwhile, BWSSB has stopped filling up lorries sent by MLAs, a source told Talk. Over half of Bangalore is reeling under water shortage, and the BWSSB, unable to meet the demands of our growing city, has set aside Rs 100 crore to dig borewells. Private suppliers have a field day, selling water at high prices (Rs 750 a tanker), when even a threebedroom house with a BWSSB connection does not spend more than Rs 300 for a whole month's tap supply. What is worrying our MLAs is not the plight of the city but their own future, which will be decided by citizens who go out and vote on May 5.

BASU MEGALKERI

Who’s your next mayor?

Shanthakumari

It’s going to be a woman, as laid down under the reservation rules. Four women are in the fray, but the fight is actually between Deputy Chief Minister R Ashok and Somanna, a BJP heavyweight now at a loose end. A consistent winner at the hustings, Somanna came into the BJP when BS Yeddyurappa was at the helm of affairs. He has hopped parties merrily over the years: he was HD Deve Gowda’s trusted man in the JD(S) for some years, and then shifted his loyalties to the Congress. Yeddyurappa roped him into the BJP because, party

insiders say, he is a fellow-Lingayat. Somanna is batting for Shanthakumari, and promising the BJP he won’t defect to the KJP if she gets the post. Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar recommended her name, but Ashok and Ananthkumar are working against her. The mayor holds the key, in a sense, to the lush pickings at the BBMP. An upset Somanna is threatening to quit the party. With Yeddyurappa out of the BJP, and rivals out to destroy him, Somanna is feeling more orphaned than ever before.

Prof BK Chandrashekhar, who served as education minister in SM Krishna's cabinet, is keen on contesting the elections this time from Jayanagar or Basavangudi. An Oxford-educated law professor who has taught at several institutions including the IIM, Chandrashekhar was nominated MLC and then made minister. He has never fought an election, but buoyed by the pro-Congress mood in Bangalore, has decided to try his luck this time. Insiders say a candidate needs between Rs 2 crore and Rs 5 crore to fight an election. Chandrashekhar, not being a professional politician, does not have that kind of money. A Congress source said wealthy party colleague LR Shivarame Gowda was offering to help Chandrashekhar. Shivarame Gowda is trying to get a Congress ticket for his son Chetan Gowda. If Chandrashekhar and his friend G Parameshwar, who heads the Congress in Karnataka, manage to get Chetan on the list, Shivarame Gowda has reportedly agreed to bankroll the good professor's campaign. Chetan wants to contest from Padmanabhanagar. Their plans may be scuttled by K Chandrashekhar, former mayor, who is keen on contesting from Basavangudi, Suresh from Jayanagar and Gurappa Naidu, who is eyeing the Padmanabhanagar seat. The professor was offended when Talk asked him if what his colleagues were saying was true. “I’m surprised you’re even asking me such a question. There’s no chance of any such arrangement,” he said.

Kheny and his dummy party Readers of the Kannada newspaper Vijaya Vani were surprised to see a full-page ad for Karnataka Makkala Paksha, headed by expressway builder and moneybag Ashok Kheny. Talk tried over two days to get in touch with him and his party, but no one answered our calls or responded to our Ashok Kheny emails. That confirms what everyone is saying: Kheny just wants a token presence in politics. That way, he can say, "Sorry, we have our own party to worry about," and shoo away politicians who approach him for election funds.


around town

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Hit the gym, not the photographer Actress Ramya's police complaint against a photojournalist shows how airheads in the movie industry can't tell journalism from PR BASU MEGALKERI basavaraju@talkmag.in

ovie star Ramya has slapped a police case against a photojournalist because—would you believe it?—the picture didn't turn out flattering enough. Here is what happened. Ramya (31), star of big hits like Abhi, Amruthadhaare, Arasu, Mussange Mathu, and Sanju Weds Geetha, was shooting for Neer Dose, in which she reportedly plays a bar dancer. Racy make-up and dress were called for. And, dare we say it, she does look a bit plump.

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Film-makers and actors love publicity, so ever so often, they invite the media to take pictures during their shoots. They love it when the newspapers print their pictures with some harmless information alongside. The moment the journalists say something that doesn’t sound like good public relations, they fly into a rage. Freelance photographer KN Nagesh Kumar took a few pictures and uploaded them on his website. Then someone tweeted a link to the pictures. It shows Ramya seated at a table, eating, with a bit of décolletage. Ramya apparently didn't like what she saw. Fair enough. But it is not a journalist’s job to make his subject look “as good as possible” His job is to shoot reality.

BLOATED EGO Ramya on the sets of Neer Dose, captured by KN Nagesh Kumar

Apparently, Ramya was also enraged by some reactions to the tweet. In any case, she has filed a police complaint at Ashok Nagar police station, complaining that the act “outraged the modesty of a woman.” Ramya is well-connected, and is now a Youth Congress leader, so she promptly called top politicians, bureaucrats and police officers. On Thursday, many newspapers reproduced the photograph. It would have never seen the light of day but for Ramya’s police complaint. Much online excitement dies a quick death.

Was the picture “vulgar?” Judge for yourself. It is printed above. Journalists have a difficult enough job as it is, and could do without being persecuted by the well-heeled and the well-connected, who suddenly decide they don't look good enough in a photograph. Hey, hit the gym, not the photographer. Or to change the metaphor, the oldest rule in the book is—never shoot the messenger. As a wag quipped, if outraging the modesty of Ramya is the issue, it is the filmmakers who will have to go to jail once Neer Dose is released!


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echwalk

This one's worth Keeping People are taking note of Google's Keep Sri Shivamurthy Murugharajendra Swamiji

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oogle has just introduced ….well, a notepad. Bit of a let down after a wearable computer, you say. But from the buzz that’s doing the rounds, Google Keep is worth a look.

Head of Murugharajendra Bruhan Math, Chitradurga

The New York Times’ tech columnist David Pogue took a fairly detailed look, and concludes that “Keep shines new light on the general concept of the synchronized thought-capturing app — a powerful, useful, lifeenhancing concept indeed. If you have a smartphone, you should add “Start using Keep or one of its rivals” to your to-do list.” One of those many rivals is the popular Evernote, which Keep imitates. Evernote is available on just about every platform. Keep is on Android. It is free, and you use it to make notes, and it can

synchronise across devices so what you jotted down or recorded shows up on all of them. It can be very useful. As Pogue says, “Life is full of facts, thoughts and images we’d like to remember. Someone’s phone number. A movie or book someone’s recommending. Things to do. Brainstorms. Where you parked. Family birthdays, driving directions to the doctor, frequentflier numbers. You always have a computer with you (your phone); why isn’t it the logical place to store these brain bursts?

Especially if it’s incredibly easy and fast to do.”

The government has been giving tax payers' money to Hindu maths. Yeddyurappa gave your maths Rs 2 crore. Do you think this is right? It is the government's prerogative. Some maths have been selflessly doing the work that the government ought to be doing. So there is nothing wrong. The funds are not used for politics but for people's welfare. We can carry on without government funds, too.

And it is easy. Does speech and pictures too. Evernote though, has more features. Pogue has a warning though. Google has killed off some of its stuff before. Users of Google Reader, that friendly RSS feed reader, are still fuming that Google is going to shut it down in July. And it has also killed off notepad apps before. What is to say the same thing won’t happen to Keep?

Olympus up close and afar

HTC Butterfly — HD glory

Olympus has launched a 16 megapixel camera with a CMOS sensor and a staggering 24 X optical zoom. It also claims the ability to shoot close up, getting as close as 40 cm to the subject. While the Advanced iAuto mode is useful for night shots, its TruePic V chip allows for "highspeed sequential shooting and high-speed 240fps (frames per second) movies." Apparently, you can play them back in slow motion on a big TV. The

The much touted HTC One smartphone may be delayed, but the company is also working on a new, secondgeneration Butterfly, tech2.com has reported. The Butterfly is known for full HD display, and is credited with leading the 1080p display trend on phones when launched in Japan. The existing Butterfly costs a steep Rs 46,000.

aperture range is 3.0-6 .9 with ISO up to 3200. It has a 3-inch LCD screen and full HD (1080p) video recording. The Rechargeable Li-ion battery is good for upto 270 shots. It costs Rs 14,990.

'Politicians spell doom for religious institutions'

After receiving government grants, some maths have expressed support for corrupt politicians. Doesn't this make the money look like a bribe? I cannot say the funds are bribes. When Yeddyurappa lost chief ministership, I wrote a letter praising him for his courage and his developmental work. It was not a letter of support. How can you let politicians turn maths and religious institutions into vote banks? It is wrong. It spells doom for maths and pontiffs. We must keep away from corrupt politicians, and not give in to them. There is a false notion that people vote for leaders endorsed by swamijis. Not true. People are educated and well informed. And, yes, we should not let politicians use us for their selfish motives. These days it is difficult to differentiate between the corrupt and the honest. If you feel people heed my words, I will certainly tell them to vote only for the honest.

BASU MEGAKERI

Indi-Gmail on phone Google's Gmail will now support six languages on feature phone browsers: Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu. While this is already available on PCs, enabling feature phone Indian language functionality is a smart move. For many Indian language users, the upgrade to smartphones might still take a while.

Xolo B700 smartphone XOLO has launched its XOLO B700 smartphone in India. This dual-GSM SIM phone runs Android Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) with 512MB of RAM. The company claims 23 hours of talk time (380 hours

of standby) on 2G and 20 hours of talk time (363 hours standby) on 3G. It has a 4.3inch IPS display with a resolution of 960 x 540 pixels, all powered by a 1GHz dual-core processor. It costs Rs 8,999.

SRIDHAR K CHARI Send feedback to sridhar.chari@talkmag.in

The Murugharajendra Bruhan Math in Chitradurga has been an influential Lingayat religious institution since 1703. For three centuries, it has promoted not only religious studies but also secular education. Sri Shivamurthy Murugharajendra Swamiji has thrown open the math's doors to people of all communities; he has not allowed ridicule from his counterparts to stop him from modernising its outlook.

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Questions

Reactions, statements, accusations, complaints, or just straight talk—this is where you get them all

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public libraries

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RAMESH HUNSUR

THE ROT BENEATH The entire card catalogue for the Cubbon Park library was destroyed in the course of a costly renovation project, but officials waited for five years before they started a digital cataogue

Shelved hopes The BBMP has collected about Rs 120 crore in library cess since 2005, but failed to hand it over to the libraries department. And that's just one of many problems leaving book lovers deprived

MARGOT COHEN undreds of library science experts from India and abroad descended on Dharwad recently to discuss ‘Next Generation Libraries: New Insights and Universal Access to Knowledge.’ The conference celebrated libraries on their way to digitised glory, and discussed ways to broaden community outreach. Shortly before the conference, 430 km away, a humble reader entered the Cubbon Park library just after 6 pm. Traces of beauty could be seen: a white moulded wreath hung below the splendid arched ceiling. Yet the main reading room and its shelves were plunged in dim light. Four of the seven large overhead lamps were not working. Climbing the stairs to the mezzanine stacks, and squinting into the gloom, the reader had to summon the library assistant to switch on a few extra lights. The fluorescent flickers startled the visitors

H

below. The real problems began when the reader requested the library assistant to check for several titles by renowned authors in Karnataka. First, she had to drag him out of the hallway, where he was chatting with the security guard. (His boss, the librarian, had gone home for the day.) Once back at the computer, the assistant haltingly typed the names of authors and titles. First, Dots and Lines, an English translation of Kannada short stories by Jayant Kaikini. Second, Gulabi Talkies and Other Stories, by Vaidehi. Third, A Girl and A River, a novel by Usha KR. The three books were published between 2006 and 2008. All three requests drew a blank. The reader asked the assistant if it might be possible to find the books on the shelves, even if they weren’t listed on the computer. (She had heard that only a fraction of the library’s collection of 4.7 lakh books was included in the digital catalogue, so far.) The question baffled him. She repeated it several times, and gave up. Then he led her to a dusty back room, where shab-

by bound volumes were flipped on their sides like beached whales. By the light of a cellphone, he explained that these are “old books,” shifted to make way for “new books.” But he added that many of the latest titles are still locked away, inaccessible to readers. The discouraging scene at Cubbon Park—site of the state’s premier reference library—is just one sign of the deep troubles plaguing Bangalore’s network of 120 public libraries. “It’s really tragic to see the decline in the public library system,” said MV Rajeev Gowda, chairperson for the Centre for Public Policy at Indian Institute of Management. Gowda holds fond memories of teenage escapes to a library near Kanteerva Stadium, stocked with the latest adventures of the Hardy Boys. Critics say vested interests in the local publishing industry and the bureaucracy have sacrificed the greater interests of the reading public. “A lot of money is wasted on useless books, and public libraries become the dumping ground,” observed Akshara KV, an author and publisher based in Heggodu, Shimoga district. Akshara’s publishing house focuses on literature and theatre, and is inspired by the vision of his father KV Subbanna, widely acclaimed for his work in theatre and theatre education. These days, many citizens view the library as a worn-out institution. Once a


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prime source of entertainment, books have bowed before a succession of challengers: first VHS tapes, then DVDs and video games and now the Internet. What remains is a constituency devoted to free newspapers and magazines, and a core of students and aspiring civil servants who study for exams. In Bangalore, nostalgia for once-favoured middle-class hang-outs like the British Library and Eloor Lending Library has given way to a rather costly Flipkart habit, or reliance on second-hand bookstores such as Blossom. It is easy to conclude that the decline is inevitable. But the flourishing library networks in New York, London, and elsewhere around the globe indicate that libraries can remain an integral part of public life in the 21st century, as natural a destination as a park, a playground or a grocery store. Meanwhile, high-flying companies like Infosys and Yahoo choose to spend money on sophisticated libraries open only to their staff. So Talk decided to take a look at the specific obstacles to modernising Bangalore’s library system. There was an element of absurdity in this quest. Consider, for example, that the current minister in charge is a 7th standard pass whose portfolio strangely combines libraries with the likes of animal husbandry and lotteries.

CATALOGUE DISASTER Consider, too, that the entire card catalogue for the Cubbon Park library was destroyed in the course of a costly renovation project. Unruffled by this collateral damage, officials waited more than five years before they started compiling a com-

Your Libraries Minister Revunaik Belamagi

* *

7th standard pass Also in charge of animal husbandry and lotteries

to be BJP's * Tipped candidate from Gulbarga

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NO KIDDING The ‘children’s section’ of the Central Library on Double Road is practically a dump for furniture and old newspapers

puterised list of books. Meanwhile, ants and rodents still cavort in the building’s foundation. Experts in Dharwad and Bangalore point to a lack of leadership and vision in the bureaucracy, a skewed process of book selection, too many apathetic librarians, and a dearth of civil society advocates for transforming libraries into a vital and relevant community resource. “Public libraries do not have a particular direction to grow or brand themselves,” observed HS Siddamallaiah, principal of library and information science at Nimhans. New directions could emerge with the results of a survey soon to be conducted by a team connected to the National Mission on Libraries, an initiative of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. “The government has realised that the public library system badly needs a facelift,” said ARD Prasad, an NML member and associate professor at the Documentation Research and Training Centre. Still, Bangalore baulks. “Political strength is not sufficient. The library is the last priority in our system,” explained KG Venkatesha, a former director of the Department of Public Libraries.

TUG OF WAR What, if any, are the prospects for change? Part of the answer could lie in the outcome of a dramatic, behind-the-scenes struggle between the Department of Public Libraries and the BBMP over the fate of the library cess. According to the Karnataka Public Libraries Act of 1965, the BBMP and other local bodies are tasked with collect-

ing a six per cent cess on property tax that provided by Satish Kumar Hosamani, must be handed over to improve libraries. deputy director of the City Central Library, In the 60s, the Act was considered a model central zone, the budget for Bangalore’s for other states, drafted by none other than 120 libraries (divided into five zones) dropped to Rs 14.14 crore in 2012-13, the path-breaking SR Ranganathan. But the BBMP and local bodies are sit- down from Rs 26 crores in 2010-11. ting on an estimated Rs 120 crore in arrears Meanwhile, the annual cess collected is accumulated between 2005 and 2012, estimated to exceed Rs 60 crore. Asked what they would do with the according to documents obtained by Talk. The money chase has involved several extra money, the state’s top librarians mostly sound like real recent meetings estate agents. All of between Revunaik Flourishing library emphasise a conBelamagi, Minister for networks elsewhere them struction boom of new Libraries, and Suresh around the globe libraries in various Kumar, Minister for Urban Development, indicate that libraries wards of the city. Their motto: Don’t rent, build. who has jurisdiction can remain an is the over the BBMP. integral part of public “Infrastructure most important. Due to “A cess is for a parlife in the 21st rain, some of the old ticular purpose and it is buildings have colto be used for that purcentury lapsed,” said Hosamani, pose. There is no way it should be used for some other purpose,” tipped to be next in line for the coveted job said Bharat Lal Meena, Principal Secretary of director. Due to his relative youth (now in the Urban Development Department, in age 43), and the permanent nature of the an interview with Talk. “The BBMP cannot job, this Bidar native could be running the say it is their money. They are custodians city’s library system for the next 16 years. Technical training is also considered a of that money. If they have spent the priority. “If we introduce computerisation, money, they have to make good on it.” According to Ramachandra Gowda, that needs skilled staff,” said the current the BBMP’s Chief Accounts Officer, the director, MM Badni. reluctance in handing over the library cess is linked to the BBMP’s “financial crisis” IN SEARCH OF TRANSPARENCY and delays in collecting property tax. In Such responses don’t satisfy everyone, mid-March, the BBMP finally handed over though. “It is not only a question of a bit of the overdue library cess, but no money,” insisted BD Kumbar, Chairman of more than Rs 5 crore, according to a top the deparment of library and information official. science at Karnatak University in Dharwad. Year by year, the shortfall appears “People who are working in the sysmore pronounced. According to figures tem, their mentality must change. They


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Ultimately, though, a library must be must understand how to attract the user, and how to help him access the informa- judged by the content of its shelves. And as tion. If the government recruits some elsewhere in the city, this content is dictatintelligent, motivated minds, certainly ed by a 22-member committee, appointed they will be capable of improving the sys- by the state government, which selects books on an annual basis. According to a tem,” he told Talk. At present, the best graduates of the 2005 government order, 80 per cent of state’s library science departments tend to books purchased must be published in avoid the public library system, instead Kannada. The remaining 20 per cent may opting for corporate libraries or a college be in English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, or perch. Tales of corruption abound, includ- other languages. (In Vijayanagar, the ing fraudulent receipts for book binding, English books are mostly hidden behind undelivered library furniture, and fat pay- anonymous blue canvas covers, with no offs for staff transfers. Meanwhile, a raft of titles or authors on their spines.) In addicorrespondence courses and new library tion, the local librarian has a discretionary training centres are churning out many fund—five per cent of the total budget—to recruits whose competence is question- choose books requested by local readers or able. “The new generation is overqualified deemed otherwise beneficial. Clearly, the selection process is breedbut doesn’t have any skills relevant for the profession,” noted P Jayarajan, a board ing some unhappiness in the ranks. “I don’t member of the Raja Rammohun Roy understand what criteria they are using to select the books,” complained Venkatesh, a Library Foundation. A whiff of secrecy surrounds the sys- Mandya native who is nearing retirement tem. Even without a single extra rupee age. “Those people should not impose on from the cess, it wouldn’t take much for us!” If it were up to him, Venkatesh would the department to provide a full list of city spend more money on books related to art, libraries on a website, including addresses photography, medicine and engineering. and phone numbers and opening hours. Instead of a mere five per cent, he would But even such basic information is elusive. be happier with allocating 40 to 50 per cent of the book-purchasing One day, for example, a resident of The jury is out on the budget. a serious Bannerghatta Road, wisdom of the 80 per pointIt ofis contention. Aradhana Janga, woncent Kannada rule Throughout the sysdered where the neartem, no less than 60 est public library might be. In May 2012, she filed an RTI, per cent of the total library budget is spent requesting the addresses and membership on acquiring new books, along with newspapers and magazines. And the process is rules for the city’s public libraries. Janga was puzzled by the reply. The subject to heavy lobbying on the part of department had sent her query to district publishers and authors (See box) The jury is out on the wisdom of the libraries as far flung as Mysore and Raichur. And she never got an answer on 80 per cent Kannada rule. According to which library was located nearest to her Chiranjiv Singh, the erudite former ambashome. “Just having a million books hidden sador to Unesco, it is a “good measure by away in some building does not constitute the government,” primarily aimed at supa library,” fumed Janga, Executive Director porting Kannada writers and publishers of Imagine Bangalore, a local trust. “The who might otherwise find it difficult to government has to proactively get the citi- secure a healthy readership. Yet the changing demographics of zens to come and use it.” Bangalore compel others to suggest greater flexibility. If only 30 to 40 per cent of resiTHE BETTER LIBRARIES dents currently have the ability to read There are some scattered attempts to draw in people from the neighbourhood. In Kannada, the remainder will require books Vijayanagar, for example, the library offers in other languages. Former director an auditorium that can be rented out for a Venkatesha suggested that the rule might variety of purposes, including book be amended especially for Bangalore, launches by publishers. Concerts, plays, allowing 50 per cent of books slated for the and school functions also take place there. city’s public libraries to be published in lan“It encourages people to become familiar guages other than Kannada. One mathematics teacher residing in with the library,” says the chief librarian Venkatesh. An attractive garden lies out Shanti Nagar, who hails from Kolkata, groaned when asked about the nearest front. The staff also appears to include some public library. “I have already finished motivated individuals. Pankaja S, who most of the English books there, so there’s obtained a diploma from Women’s no point in going back,” she said. “My stuPolytechnic in Bangalore, says she was dents, who are mostly Kannadigas, also drawn to the profession because she can want more books in English.” Since English books tend to be more “meet many people, at all levels, from children to the elderly. I have the opportunity expensive than Kannada books, their lack of availability in local libraries also places to talk to them.”

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‘Why should only the government run public libraries?’

Asks Nitin Pai, director of Takshashila Institution, a Bangalore-based think tank Do you see any way to increase public advocacy for libraries so that they become more functional centres of knowledge and information? This is going to be hard in a city where basic infrastructure—roads, water and electricity—is itself an afterthought. Most middle class people send kids to private schools, which are self-contained and strongly focused towards examinations. So reading outside the syllabus is limited. Some businesses like JustBooks and Flipkart etc cater to the few who want to buy and read books. E-books and piracy also lower the incentive for libraries. I think more than public advocacy, good libraries might best be achieved through an elite enterprise. Bangalore has quite a number of people who have become successful in the knowledge industries, and recognise the importance of libraries. If they can be encouraged to endow and support public libraries (run by public trusts and charitable societies) we might be able to have a decent system of public libraries. Are there any particular changes that you would like to see in the Bangalore library system? What library system are we talking about? We've seen a decline in the public library system consistent with the decline in public systems in general. One very important feature public libraries must have is access to digital libraries: a whole lot of journals, scholarly and educational content is in digital form and priced in a

way only libraries can afford. Many colleges and universities do not subscribe to these because they are way too examination-oriented. So it's vital that public libraries connect our citizens to the global body of knowledge. Without it, we are really kupa mandukas (frogs in the well)...and we are not even aware of it. According to a Karnataka government order, 80 per cent of books purchased for the library system are to be written in Kannada. The remaining 20 per cent is allotted for books in English, Hindi, and other languages. What do you think of this policy? We must respect the decisions of democratically elected governments. I personally think such a hard rule is myopic, narrow-minded and hurts the interests of the Kannadigas who are locked out from the global stream of knowledge. But only the government has the legitimacy and prerogative to decide how it wishes to spend public funds. The question is: why should we believe only the government can set up and run public libraries? Bangalore has a culture of private philanthropy, both historical and recent. Private citizens can endow and support public libraries and fill it with the kind of books they like. Let the government do what it thinks best. Let civil society do what it thinks best. I do not think civil society should limit its advocacy to how government should run the library system beyond a point.


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Director of Takshashila Institution, a poor students at a disadvantage. Of course, plenty of English books are Bangalore-based think tank (see Q&A). available through subscription-based “However, they are not substitutes for publibraries, a magnet for the middle and lic libraries. A library is not merely a place upper classes. JustBooks has 31 branches in to borrow books—it’s also a place to disBangalore, with an additional seven small- cover books, spend time in an environment er outlets in apartment blocks. EasyLib, an conducive to reading, and build social netonline service, also appeals to English read- works around common interests.” In New York, for example, libraries ers. Just Books, with a paid membership of have played a critical role in offering roughly 40,000, finds its best market English language classes for immigrants, among young couples with small children, assisting job-hunters with computer according to its marketing team. Next access, and fostering reading skills among down the list are senior citizens, and final- young people. Thanks to such communityly, the “serious professionals” who prefer oriented services, the city’s 206 public non-fiction works such as history, travel, library branches have experienced a 40 per and management tomes. There are also cent surge in the number of people attendtakers for literature: it was easy to find the ing the different programmes, and a 59 per three books by Jayant Kaikani, Vaidehi and cent increase in circulation of borrowed books over the past decade, according to a Usha KR on the Just Books website. At EasyLib, founder Vani Mahesh sur- January 2013 report by the Center for an prisingly found that her most active con- Urban Future. Most important, the library has stituency is the 12 to 18-year-olds, who quickly recommend their favourites to tapped into a reservoir of public support through the friends online. Women Internet—the very who work as homemak‘This has to be tied to agent that some preers are also very solid a civic ideal of a dicted would lead to customers, with a reading list that far outstrips shared intellectual life’ its demise. When New York City politicians the usual romance novels. Techies, on the other hand, tend to threatened to cut 37 million dollars from drop reading for pleasure when office branch budgets, the library hired a comedy schedules become too frenetic, Mahesh group to put together a fundraising video built around a spoof of the movie said. “JustBooks and the older neighbour- Ghostbusters. The video went viral on hood ‘circulating libraries’ perform a very YouTube and prompted a letter-writing valuable function,” observed Nitin Pai, campaign that convinced the politicians to

How Suman F became Suma Smart criminals are allegedly colluding with procurement officials and siphoning off funds from Bangalore's public libraries

SCAMMED Puttaswamy with his award-winning book Cinemayana

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PARKING LOTS Books dumped in the corridors of the Central Library at RPC Layout, Vijaynagar

shelve most of the cuts. To be sure, Bangalore presents a different set of challenges. But it is not so farfetched to imagine a series of low-cost Kannada lessons at the library, a series of activities for children and teenagers to spur reading during the long summer holiday, or a campaign to instal computers for jobseekers. (No Facebook-trolling allowed!) A lot can be accomplished with Rs 120 crore of public money, but there’s no reason that private-sector philanthropists can’t pitch in, too. After all, Harvard University library is not the only institution that could benefit from some of that IT wealth.

raud in book purchase is rampant. One instance came to the notice of the Cubbon Park police in October, 2012, implicating a publisher who turned out to be an impersonator. The Besagarahalli Ramanna Foundation, named after a wellknown short story writer, published an anthology called Kaadugini (Wild Parrot) last year. Someone unrelated to the foundation sold copies of the book to the state library, and collected the money. The original foundation had sold 300 copies to the state libraries department, and was waiting for more orders. When it did not hear from the district libraries, it asked the City Central Library (North division), located in Malleswaram, about the delay. MM Ravi, secretary of the foundation, was shocked by the reply he received. The library officials said they had already bought 100 additional copies of the book. The foundation had not given the book's distribution rights to any-

“This has to be tied to a civic ideal of a shared intellectual life,” suggested Lawrence Liang, co-founder of the Alternative Law Forum. To revive the libraries, it may also be a good time to re-examine policies for acquiring books. The conference in Dharwad made it clear that the system must be recalibrated to serve the users. India’s historic library movement also stressed the potential for libraries to open a window for the disadvantaged. To borrow one phrase from the global library movement: “The library has but one criterion for admission: curiosity.”

one. The foundation then applied for details under the Right to Information Act in December. The frauds had used a letterhead with the name of Hasuru Prakashana, while the name of the original publisher is Hasiru Prakashana. Suma Krishnappa had signed as the publisher, while the name of the original publisher is Suman Krishnappa. The chief librarian and deputy director (procurement) had signed the bill, stating the books had been received in good condition. The department cleared the first bill on July 30, 2011. The same day the department received the copies as well. The orders were placed and received at lightning speed. Not just Kaadugini, but 100 copies of K Puttaswamy's national award-winning book Cinemayana were also bought on the same day. The library paid Rs 20,000 and Rs 35,600 for copies of the two books. Based on the same fake documents, the library has also bought

100 copies each of two other books, and paid Rs 3,200 and Rs 6,900. "I wonder how they got so many copies printed and managed to sell them too. We want this to be investigated," Ravi told Talk. The Cubbon Park police have sought more information from the libraries department. "We will take action against the frauds, and the library officials who helped them," Inspector Badrinath told Talk. Insiders say such cases are common, and very few get reported to the police. The public libraries department purchases books from publishers and writers every year. The selections are made by a committee comprising senior writers, publishers and academy representatives. A writer or a publisher can sell 800 copies of a title to the state libraries department, and more to the many public libraries in the districts, taluks and panchayats.

BASU MEGALKERI


reader spaces

talk|4 apr 2013|talkmag.in

14

RAMESH HUNSUR

Explore, discover Here are six Bangalore libraries that are open to the public and could do with more visitors

United Theological College Library

TREASURE TROVE (Top) The United Theological College library houses 90,000 books, with a focus on religion

Largely unknown to the general public, the UTC library ranks as one of the city’s great unexplored resources. Spread over 43,000 square feet, it offers a quiet, airy space to contemplate ideas from the world’s major religions, including Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism and Islam. UTC’s collection of 90,000 volumes also extends beyond theology. Those interested in sociology, psychology, law, and women’s studies might be surprised at what they find in the open stacks. Feminist theology takes a bow with books by Mary Daly and other controversial authors. German readers will find a collection of books donated by the Max Mueller Bhavan. The shelves also yield volumes published in Hebrew, Greek and various Indian languages. UTC continues to solicit book donations from retired academics and other sources, although the college has rejected some tomes that did not fit with the rest of the collection. Acquisitions exceed 1,000 new books each year. Current policy discourages lending, due to past losses. “If I’ve known you for ten or 15 years, then borrowing is OK,” said librarian Tabitha Shamsundar. This is primarily a reference library, with photocopying facilities and computer terminals available. One notable fact: the library offers steep discounts on membership for senior citizens, mindful of their limited budgets. Address: 63 Miller’s Road, Benson Town Phone: 42662662 Website: www.utcbangalore.org Hours: Monday to Friday, 9 am to 1 pm, and 2 pm to 5 pm. Saturday 9 am to noon. Closed Sunday.

Rules: Photo ID required, along with a recommendation letter from an employer, religious leader, or some other reliable person. Regular members pay Rs 100 to use the library per week, and Rs 2,000 per year. Senior citizens pay Rs 200 for the entire year.

The Mythic Society Library

copying facilities are available. The challenge—they use naphthalene library often organizes seminars and balls and sprays to keep pests away. lectures. Address: Bull Temple Road Phone: 26613149 Address: 14/1, Nrupathunga Road Hours: 9 am to 12 pm and 4 pm to 6.30 Phone: 22114272 or 22215034 pm. Closed Monday Web: www.mythicsociety.org Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 10 am to Rules: Pay Rs 260 for annual member5:15 pm; Sunday: 10 am to 4 pm. ship Closed Monday. Rules: Bring photo ID. Gandhi Bhavan Public Library

Sri Ramakrishna Mutt Library

Spacious, calm and mercifully bereft of chattering students, the historic Mythic Society library offers a trove of materials related to archaeology, architecture, history and philosophy. While open to the general public, it tends to attract just about 15 visitors a day—mainly historians or other researchers. Yet there is sufficient space for 50 readers. The library is well-lit and the staff responds promptly to queries. Founded in 1909, the library has embraced technology to optimise its collection, which includes works in Kannada, English and Sanskrit. The digitisation process is nearly complete. This is a critical task, given the fragile nature of the books and documents on hand, including 2,500 government documents, gazettes and epigraphs. TN Srinivasan, the librarian in charge, said that the facility will soon install computers that readers may access individually. This is solely a reference library, with no lending allowed. But photo-

Located within the serene and beautiful campus of the Shri Ramakrishna Mutt in Basavanagudi, the Ramakrishna library can accommodate about 30 readers. Sadly, it is not well-lit, and has no computer terminals or photocopying facilities. Built in the early 1900s, the facility is divided in two sections; the books and the CDs/cassette section. Readers may choose among 12,000 books, including those related to philosophy, religion, and personality development. Some volumes date back to the 1800s. Books are available in English, Hindi and Sanskrit. Members may borrow books for 15 days and cassettes and CDs for a week. One of the biggest problems facing the library is that books go missing. “Since students are allowed to borrow they often tend to misplace the books,” said Satish, the librarian. Maintaining the collection is also a

Bound volumes of Harijan are propped up on tables here, but there appears to be few takers for Gandhi’s path-breaking journal. Instead, most readers plunge into the latest newspapers and magazines on offer, including 29 dailies. For those who are interested in the great man’s legacy, however, there is a collection of 5,000 books on Gandhi, ranging from his autobiography and biographies to collections of news reports and speeches outlining his ideals. Most of the books are in English, but there are also 24 volumes of Gandhi’s writings in Kannada. Biographies of other prominent national leaders are also included in the 11,000-strong collection. The library normally draws about 50 visitors daily, including researchers and students. Materials are solely for reference. Address: Kumara Park East, near


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Phone: 66145136 or 66145145 Web: www.azimpremjiuniversity.edu.in Hours: Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 10 pm, Saturday 8:30 am to 6 pm. Closed Sunday Rules: Membership requirements to be outlined shortly. For now, just show photo ID and sign in. No fee.

Shivananda Circle. Phone: 22281414, Web: gandhibhavanbangalore.blogspot.com Hours: 10:30 am to 5:30 pm Rules: No ID required; free and open to the public

Azim Premji University Library This newborn university is aiming to build a truly modern library, focused on core collections in education and social development. With access to 6,000 online journals, and six databases including JSTOR and Questia, the Premji team has gotten off to a solid start. Luckily, the general public is allowed to make use of this new resource, although rules on membership have yet to be announced. “Fundamentally, this is a university library. But since the mission is social change, we are more than happy to let people use the library for reference and research,” said Reshmi Mitra, head of the Knowledge Resource Center at the Azim Premji Foundation. Teachers, NGO activists, housewives, techies and other readers are welcome. The atmosphere is refreshing. Smiling, alert librarians are on hand to answer questions and facilitate computer searches. One corner has blue cushioned chairs and a couch for readers who grow

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weary of working at tables. A “book of the week” gets prominent display. The open stacks contain some 25,000 books and 40 print journals. Lately the offerings were enriched with more books on film, literature and semiotics, thanks to a collection acquired from the Centre for the Study of Culture and Society. Meanwhile, the Premji team is scouting for donations. “We would be very interested in any collection, including children’s books, multi-lingual books, and audiovisual materials,” added Mitra. Some of this material may be routed to the foundation’s network of rural libraries, if it is deemed more useful there. Address: PES Institute of Technology Campus, Electronics City, Hosur Road

quiet haven for adult readers who are interested in history, literature, philosophy and cultural studies. According to YM Balakrishna, the 85year-old secretary, the library enjoys strong support from 6,000 patrons and lifetime members, who often suggest titles for acquisition. Borrowed books require a Rs 500 deposit. The large reading room has 200 magazines and periodicals. A separate hall, named after its founder BP Wadia, Indian Institute of World Culture This library has a special fondness for chil- hosts regular lectures and performances. dren. Parents and their little bookworms will find a collection of 20,000 books in the Address: No 6, BP Wadia Road, Opposite children’s section. Art classes, bhajan Krishna Rao Park, Basvanagudi, Bangalore instruction and other summer activities Phone: 26678581 are on offer. But the IIWC also serves as a Web: www.iiwcindia.org Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 8:30 am. to 7:30 pm. Children’s section closes from noon to 4 pm. Closed Monday. Rules: Bring Photo ID. Free access to read books and magazines in the library. Ignore the 50 rupees admission fee posted on the board downstairs—that’s just for members. To borrow books, sign up as an “ordinary member” for Rs 300 per year or a lifetime membership of Rs 2,000. Bring two passport photos and proof of address. BY SANDRA FERNANDES, MARGOT COHEN, BASU MEGALKERI AND MARIA LAVEENA


vacation special

talk|4 apr 2013|talkmag.in

Knotted affair

Fun with robots

Macrame is the art of knotting that dates back to the 13th century. If your child is interested in weaving or knitting, this is an option. This basic workshop lasts for six sessions of one hour each at the end of which the child should be able to make cell phone pouches, bags, shoes, wall hangings and the likes. Classes are either conducted throughout the week or on weekends. Materials will be provided.

Art and craft

At the Robo Summer Camp, kids will be taught to make their own robots. D Dwaraka Sarathi, Director of RoboMaster, says that there is increased interest in robotics. The workshop is conducted in two batches that span one week and two weeks respectively. Materials provided.

For art and craft activities like warli painting, madhubani painting for kids, paper mosaic painting, 3D greetings, coffee painting, glass painting, origami and more. Also games like kabbadi, kho kho and others. Age group: 3 to 12 years April 8 to 26, Rs 3,000 and Rs 3,200, at Little Millenium, Brookes Haven Layout, Near HM World City, JP Nagar. For more details call 9620021800

Age group: 6 to 18 years April 1 onwards, Rs 3,500, at Indiranagar and Brigade Road. For more details call 7676077477 or log on to www.robomaster.co.in.

Music

Age group: 12 years and above April first week onwards, Rs 1,500, at Jayanagar. For more details, email: milkywoodstork_52@yahoo.co.in or call 9845144482

Pick your

summer camp

Making movies At workshops conducted by the Institute of Experiential Learning (IEL), you can learn to make your own jingle for a brand. Students will learn to use software, compose music, write lyrics and make a jingle. Similarly, a workshop called Sound Tripping allows the students to capture random sounds of the city, compile and edit it using the software, and create a track. Also

offered are workshops on film making, photo journalism, writing and publishing. Age group: 10 to 17 years April 1 onwards, Ad Jingle workshop and Sound Tripping workshop Rs 2,100, at Institute of Experiential Learning, Infantry Road. For more details log on to www.inexel.org/cevents.shtml or call 9164643633

Dance

Learn contemporary dance forms like hiphop, salsa, rock and pop, mambo jambo and more. At the end of this 15-day camp you will be performing in front of a live audience.

For nature walks and trails, jungle safari, bird watching, and 'wildlife games' and more. So if your child likes to learn in the lap of nature, this is the place to be. Each camp spans over six days. Age group: 8 - 17 years

April 4 onwards, Rs 1,950 plus Rs 250 for registration, at Swingers Dance Studio and Dance Company, Indiranagar. For more details call 9900027050

April 14 to May 14, locations include Mudhumalai, Kodaikanal, Wayanad and Parambikulam, Rs 9,950 and Rs 12,950. For more details email camp@frolicboonies.com or call 9900087611.

At this two month long camp you can learn instruments like piano, guitar, bass, drums or even take vocal classes. Age group: 11 to 14 years April 9 to June 7, Rs 10,000 for a 10 week performance based course, at Nathaniel School of Music, 5th main Road, Opp. Kairali Niketan School, Indiranagar. For more details call 9986477804 / 98454 65411.

It’s vacation time and if you have little ones at home, thoughts are sure to turn to summer camps and classes. At their best, many of these can provide valuable learning experiences. Sandra M Fernandes picks out a few—some of them unusual—that look promising

Nature camp

Age group: Open to all

17

Fun and magic

Enter the world of Harry Potter or your favourite cartoon characters like Dora. Learn some magic tricks or just explore. Organised by ileap.

Photography Capture those special moments around you as you learn the basics of photography like composition, light, perspective, self expression and the art of

storytelling. You can bring along your own camera for the workshop, though it is not compulsory. Age group: 7 to 12 years

April 15 to 20, Rs 2,700, at The Green Pocket, Rustum Bagh Road, off Old Airport Road. For more details log on to www.clubhatch.com

Age group: 3 to 12 years April 8 to May 10, Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000, at Indiranagar and Jayanagar. For details call 9945804444 or 25200400

Music with nature

Get away from the city, and take guitar lessons. G- Sharp is a summer- special musical camp organised by Guitarstreet.com that will take you to places like Chikmagalur, Coorg, Sakaleshpur, Kabini and Wayanad every weekend, for six weeks. A new location every weekend. Guitarist Amit Das will be the tutor.

Terracotta time

Children as well as adults can be a part of this pottery workshop, conducted by government artisans. At this week long workshop, learn to make pots, pen stands, animals shaped wall hangings and more, using terracotta clay.

Age group: 12 years and above

Age group: 12 years and above

April 5 onwards, Rs 6,999 upwards. For more details log on to www.guitarstreet.in/tours or call 9980698008.

April 3 onwards, Rs 1,200, at Malleswaram, 17th Cross. For more details call 9845632850

Baking for beginners

If they can 'cook', they can bake. This workshop, by Caroline Martis Radhakrishnan, will teach kids to bake cakes, brownies and cookies, besides bread sticks and pizza mousse, and also walk away with free gifts like spatulas and pans. Age group: 6 years and above April 2 to 4, Rs 2,000, at Frazer Town. For more details mail rk.carol@gmail.com

Little chefs

Children love messing around with what they see as cooking, and at the 'Making of Master Chefs' workshop, they will get the chance to actually make dishes like choco-broco pizza, cupcake floats, and strawberry paratha-pops, all from scratch. Age group: 7 to 12 years April 8 to 19, Rs 4,900 (including expenses for ingredients), at Terrazzo Restaurant, 100 Feet Road, HAL 2nd Stage, Opposite Axis Bank. For more details call 9008980077

Sports

Hone your skills in sports like football and cricket. Age group: 5 to 18 years April 6 to 26, Rs 4,450, at SPT Sports, Kodathi, Near Wipro Head Office. For more details call 9886512567 or log on to www.sptindia.com


vacation special

talk|4 apr 2013|talkmag.in

Knotted affair

Fun with robots

Macrame is the art of knotting that dates back to the 13th century. If your child is interested in weaving or knitting, this is an option. This basic workshop lasts for six sessions of one hour each at the end of which the child should be able to make cell phone pouches, bags, shoes, wall hangings and the likes. Classes are either conducted throughout the week or on weekends. Materials will be provided.

Art and craft

At the Robo Summer Camp, kids will be taught to make their own robots. D Dwaraka Sarathi, Director of RoboMaster, says that there is increased interest in robotics. The workshop is conducted in two batches that span one week and two weeks respectively. Materials provided.

For art and craft activities like warli painting, madhubani painting for kids, paper mosaic painting, 3D greetings, coffee painting, glass painting, origami and more. Also games like kabbadi, kho kho and others. Age group: 3 to 12 years April 8 to 26, Rs 3,000 and Rs 3,200, at Little Millenium, Brookes Haven Layout, Near HM World City, JP Nagar. For more details call 9620021800

Age group: 6 to 18 years April 1 onwards, Rs 3,500, at Indiranagar and Brigade Road. For more details call 7676077477 or log on to www.robomaster.co.in.

Music

Age group: 12 years and above April first week onwards, Rs 1,500, at Jayanagar. For more details, email: milkywoodstork_52@yahoo.co.in or call 9845144482

Pick your

summer camp

Making movies At workshops conducted by the Institute of Experiential Learning (IEL), you can learn to make your own jingle for a brand. Students will learn to use software, compose music, write lyrics and make a jingle. Similarly, a workshop called Sound Tripping allows the students to capture random sounds of the city, compile and edit it using the software, and create a track. Also

offered are workshops on film making, photo journalism, writing and publishing. Age group: 10 to 17 years April 1 onwards, Ad Jingle workshop and Sound Tripping workshop Rs 2,100, at Institute of Experiential Learning, Infantry Road. For more details log on to www.inexel.org/cevents.shtml or call 9164643633

Dance

Learn contemporary dance forms like hiphop, salsa, rock and pop, mambo jambo and more. At the end of this 15-day camp you will be performing in front of a live audience.

For nature walks and trails, jungle safari, bird watching, and 'wildlife games' and more. So if your child likes to learn in the lap of nature, this is the place to be. Each camp spans over six days. Age group: 8 - 17 years

April 4 onwards, Rs 1,950 plus Rs 250 for registration, at Swingers Dance Studio and Dance Company, Indiranagar. For more details call 9900027050

April 14 to May 14, locations include Mudhumalai, Kodaikanal, Wayanad and Parambikulam, Rs 9,950 and Rs 12,950. For more details email camp@frolicboonies.com or call 9900087611.

At this two month long camp you can learn instruments like piano, guitar, bass, drums or even take vocal classes. Age group: 11 to 14 years April 9 to June 7, Rs 10,000 for a 10 week performance based course, at Nathaniel School of Music, 5th main Road, Opp. Kairali Niketan School, Indiranagar. For more details call 9986477804 / 98454 65411.

It’s vacation time and if you have little ones at home, thoughts are sure to turn to summer camps and classes. At their best, many of these can provide valuable learning experiences. Sandra M Fernandes picks out a few—some of them unusual—that look promising

Nature camp

Age group: Open to all

17

Fun and magic

Enter the world of Harry Potter or your favourite cartoon characters like Dora. Learn some magic tricks or just explore. Organised by ileap.

Photography Capture those special moments around you as you learn the basics of photography like composition, light, perspective, self expression and the art of

storytelling. You can bring along your own camera for the workshop, though it is not compulsory. Age group: 7 to 12 years

April 15 to 20, Rs 2,700, at The Green Pocket, Rustum Bagh Road, off Old Airport Road. For more details log on to www.clubhatch.com

Age group: 3 to 12 years April 8 to May 10, Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000, at Indiranagar and Jayanagar. For details call 9945804444 or 25200400

Music with nature

Get away from the city, and take guitar lessons. G- Sharp is a summer- special musical camp organised by Guitarstreet.com that will take you to places like Chikmagalur, Coorg, Sakaleshpur, Kabini and Wayanad every weekend, for six weeks. A new location every weekend. Guitarist Amit Das will be the tutor.

Terracotta time

Children as well as adults can be a part of this pottery workshop, conducted by government artisans. At this week long workshop, learn to make pots, pen stands, animals shaped wall hangings and more, using terracotta clay.

Age group: 12 years and above

Age group: 12 years and above

April 5 onwards, Rs 6,999 upwards. For more details log on to www.guitarstreet.in/tours or call 9980698008.

April 3 onwards, Rs 1,200, at Malleswaram, 17th Cross. For more details call 9845632850

Baking for beginners

If they can 'cook', they can bake. This workshop, by Caroline Martis Radhakrishnan, will teach kids to bake cakes, brownies and cookies, besides bread sticks and pizza mousse, and also walk away with free gifts like spatulas and pans. Age group: 6 years and above April 2 to 4, Rs 2,000, at Frazer Town. For more details mail rk.carol@gmail.com

Little chefs

Children love messing around with what they see as cooking, and at the 'Making of Master Chefs' workshop, they will get the chance to actually make dishes like choco-broco pizza, cupcake floats, and strawberry paratha-pops, all from scratch. Age group: 7 to 12 years April 8 to 19, Rs 4,900 (including expenses for ingredients), at Terrazzo Restaurant, 100 Feet Road, HAL 2nd Stage, Opposite Axis Bank. For more details call 9008980077

Sports

Hone your skills in sports like football and cricket. Age group: 5 to 18 years April 6 to 26, Rs 4,450, at SPT Sports, Kodathi, Near Wipro Head Office. For more details call 9886512567 or log on to www.sptindia.com


back stage

talk|4 apr 2013|talkmag.in

18

The big theatre love-fest LEKHA NAIDU & ASHIQA SALVAN

True to its name in scale and purpose, The Great Galata made for a memorable World Theatre Day

PRACHI SIBAL prachi.sibal@talkmag.in

hat happens when you put 70 odd theatre artistes in a single enclosure? Certainly something like a ‘galata;’ the rest one can never be sure. In its second edition, The Great Galata did it again, marking World Theatre Day with a bang. As much as the actual plays on stage, the venue itself added to the feel of the event. The entrance to Ranga Shankara resembled a local fair, which with the excited greetings and animated conversations, was a spectacle by itself. The basics of the performance remained the same as last year—nine playwrights, nine directors and 36 actors performing nine short plays in three languages, English, Hindi and Kannada. Conceptualised by Nimi Ravindran and Shiva Pathak, the theme for this year’s Galata was the ‘mind vs body divide.’ The brief read thus: ‘The eternal battle between Mind and Body, the consequences of their interchange, and the big question—which is closer to the idea of ‘love’ and to the ‘beloved’?’ Participants were given 24 hours to come up with scripts, after which the participants gathered at the venue for a pick of lots that decided who directed what. Each of the directors was then allotted four actors in a similar fashion, keeping in mind language concerns.

W

PLAY GROUND (Top) Rehearsals in full swing at Ranga Shankara. (Below) The 2012 curtain call featuring the 70-plus cast.

Of the nine groups that per- an extension of the scenes we witformed, four had rehearsed in the nessed during the rehearsals. The theatre itself, while the rest were audience, itself consisting mostly of allotted spaces in RV Dental College, those from the theatre circuit, was a walking distance from the venue. sandwiched between Galata artistes When we visited during rehearsals, who had occupied the first and last we found mingling with the who’s few rows of the theatre, and who who of Bangalore theatre such well- hardly let an opportunity for a reparknown names as The Company tee pass. Host Vivek Madan’s introducTheatre’s Atul Kumar, Delhi-based director/ playwright Neel Chaudhuri, tion, liberally garnished with inside jokes as it was, Chennai-based turned out to be a Rajiv Krishnan and It left us with ‘performance’ on its German director own, bringing in as Sophia Stef. images of a The groups, strong and closely many laughs as any of the plays. The though working in knit community only quiet moments isolation, were no were when Madan more than a shout away each other, which only added to read out the year’s World Theatre Day the camaraderie. They would take a message by Nobel-winning Italian break from their day-long rehearsals playwright Dario Fo. One play after another, each to meet during breaks for food, tea and some banter. It was a coming spanning 10 minutes on average, was together of the city’s theatre crowd in brought on stage seamlessly, thanks a way that is hard to see all year to some effective coordination by the round; which, of course, was the idea. backstage team. Most of the plays Galata, with all nine perfor- were comedies, even the ones with mances stringed into a single show serious themes had their lighter for the viewing pleasure of a 250- moments. The interpretation of the theme strong audience, seemed almost like

was starkly different in each play, from Poile Sengupta’s Idea, which showed a rat turn into a cat and then a dog and so on, to the more literal mind-and-body interpretations like Surendranath’s God and Death and Sandeep Shikhar’s Aavaran. Ashwini Kumar Chakre’s Hindi play Rocky Ka Insaf was impressive, effectively utilising the 10 minutes given to it to present a sharp satire that took on politics, the workings of municipal authorities, the police and more. Ram Ganesh Kamatham’s English play Famous Last Words also had subtle elements of satire that targeted the media, especially in relation to the contentious issue of capital punishment. Only, the group that came on stage next had to deal with a splattering of crushed watermelons made to stand in for human heads. Nisha Susan’s English play The Martian Sends Postcards Home was easily the one that clicked the most with the crowd, leaving them howling with laughter throughout. Jimmy Xavier as the nostalgic Manipuri, Vinod Ravindran as the alien who landed in a darshini and Ranji David as the enormous-bellied darshini owner are characters one will not forget any time soon. The music of the play did its bit in enabling smooth transitions. Equally effective were the props — round, white cushions stood for freshly made idlis. A show on this scale, especially when it’s designed to involve the whole theatre fraternity, would hardly be complete without audience engagement; and engage they did. The Great Galata did everything that one would expect from ‘a celebration of theatre,’ and then some. It left us with images, both on and off-stage, of a strong and closely-knit theatre community, and by the time the three hour show reached its all cast/crew curtain call of nearly 70 people, it had left us awed and full of warmth.


food path

talk|4 apr 2013|talkmag.in

EASTER on a plate Kourambiethes (Greek Easter Cookies)

There's more to these traditional Greek shortbread pastry cookies made for Easter than the unusual shape—sample one to find out.

Whether or not you observed Lent, or fasted for the prescribed 40-day period, it's time to take it easy and indulge yourself a bit. Celebrate Easter with these recipes, both traditional, and exotic, compiled by Sandra M Fernandes

Ingredients: 30 gms almonds, 125 gms unsalted, softened butter, 120 gms icing sugar, 1 egg yolk, 1 tbsp brandy, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 180 gms cake flour, 10 gms baking powder, icing sugar for dusting Method: Heat oven to 180°C. Blanch the almonds in hot water for 10 minutes and remove skin. Spread almonds on a baking sheet. Bake, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until lightly toasted. Remove from oven; cool, then chop coarsely. Beat butter in large bowl with electric mixer on medium to high speed until very light and fluffy. Add half of the icing sugar and continue beating for another three minutes. Add the egg yolk, brandy and vanilla and beat until smooth. Mix in the almonds, flour and baking powder until mixed well. (If dough is too loose to handle, add additional flour till a soft texture is formed.) Shape a tablespoon full of dough between palms into a crescentlike shape. Bake on ungreased baking sheets for about 15 minutes until set and very pale golden in colour. Remove cookies and place on a cooling rack. Dust the cookies while still hot, with the remaining icing sugar. Repeat twice. Store in airtight containers.

19

Lamb Pan Rolls

Ingredients: 2 cups flour, 3 eggs beaten, 1 cup milk, 2 tbsp melted butter, a pinch of salt For the mince: 500 gms mince, 1 onion chopped finely, 1 tsp chopped garlic, 1 tsp chopped ginger, 2 medium-sized potatoes peeled and cut into 2cm cubes, salt to taste, 2 tsps chili powder, 1 tsp all-spice powder, 1 tsp cumin powder, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1 egg lightly beaten, oil for deep frying, 1 cup dry bread crumbs Method: On low heat, cook the mince along with the chopped onion, garlic, ginger, potatoes, chili powder, garam masala/ all spice powder, cumin powder, coriander powder and salt with half cup of water till the potatoes are soft and the mince is cooked. Cool and keep aside. Mix the flour, the three eggs, milk, butter and salt with a little water to make a thick batter. Make thin pancakes/ crepes on a flat pan cooking them on one side only. Place each pancake/ crepe on a plate; add a tablespoon of mince mix on one end and roll them up, tucking in the sides as you would a spring roll. Follow the same procedure till all the mince and pancakes/ crepes are exhausted. Heat oil in a pan. Dip each pan roll in beaten egg then roll in breadcrumbs. Shallow fry until golden and drain on a kitchen towel.

Carrot Cake

and the caster sugar, adding one egg at a time. Mix together the carrots, Ingredients: 180 gms butter, 240 gms raisins, walnut, flour, cinnamon powder caster sugar, 7 eggs, 300 gms grated and the baking powder. After all the carrots, 100 gms raisins, 75 gms eggs have been added to the butter walnuts, 230 gms flour, 10 gms baking mixture, add the dry ingredients and powder, 10 gms cinnamon powder lightly fold it in. Line a six-inch cake tin For the Icing: 200 gms cream cheese, with butter paper, pour the cake batter into it and bake at 177°C till a cake 200 gms mascarpone, 75 ml orange skewer inserted in the centre comes juice, 75 gms icing sugar out clean. Let the cake rest and then Method: Beat the cream cheese, icing slice into 4 layers. Layer with the cream sugar and the orange juice till light and cheese frosting and finish the cake fluffy, fold in the mascarpone and beat with the remaining frosting. Serve lightly. Keep it aside.Beat the butter chilled.

Simnel Cake

sugar and ground almonds in a bowl. Add beaten egg and mix to Size: One 6" diameter cake mould a fairly soft consistency. Add the almond essence and knead for For the batter: 2 cups butter, 2 one minute until the paste is cups brown sugar, 3 eggs, 1.5 cups flour, 2 tsps baking powder, smooth and pliable. ½ cup raisins, ½ cup sultanas, ½ For cake: Pre-heat the oven to cup almonds chopped, 1 lemon 175° C and line half of a 6" zest, ½ tsp salt, 1-2 tsps apricot diameter cake ring. Beat soft jam, 2 tsps mixed spice powder butter, sugar and lemon zest For almond paste: 2 cups caster together until pale and fluffy. sugar, 2 cups almond grounded, Gradually beat in the eggs in 2 eggs slightly beaten, ½ tsp three additions until well almond essence incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl after each addition of Method for almond paste: Put

eggs. Add in the spice mixture, raisins, sultanas and chopped almonds and then sift in the flour and salt. Put half the mixture into a greased and lined cake tin. Smooth the top and cover it with almond paste. Add the rest of the cake mixture and smooth the top. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes or test by inserting a skewer in the middle—if it comes out clean, it is ready. Once baked, remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Brush the top of the cooled cake with the apricot jam. Divide the remainder of the almond paste in half; roll out one half to a circle to cover the top of the cake, and form 13 small balls with the other half. Place the circle of paste on the jam glaze and set the balls round the edge. Use a blowtorch to brulee the center of the almond paste until it is brown in colour. Recipes by chefs Girish Nayak and Varun Pereira of Olive Beach


talk|4 apr 2013|talkmag.in

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Rewind The week that was  Taiwan quake: A strong earthquake killed one person and injured 19 in Taiwan as violent shock waves damaged buildings and triggered a blaze.

A course in digital music

 Ryder attacked: Troubled New Zealand cricketer Jesse Ryder was in an induced coma with a fractured skull after being severely beaten as he left a bar in the South Island city of Christchurch.  Maoist deaths: A gun battle between two groups of Maoist rebels in Jharkhand’s Chatra district claimed the lives of 15 rebels.  Referendum call: Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa has called for a referendum among Sri Lankan Tamils on the formation of a separate Tamil land within Sri Lanka.  Kurien trouble: In a setback for Rajya Sabha deputy chairman P J Kurien, a court in Kerala ordered issue of notice to him on a criminal revision petition filed by the Suriyanelli rape victim.  Rape case: The Datia district police in Madhya Pradesh have filed a chargesheet against six persons in the Swiss woman gang-rape case, before a special court.  Nuke plant: The controversial Kudankulam Unit I of the atomic power reactor in Tamil Nadu will become operational by next month, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said.  Sacked: In twin blows to Karnataka excise minister MP Renukacharya, after his expulsion from the BJP, chief minister Jagadish Shettar sacked him from the Cabinet for his frequent outbursts against state leaders.  Sparrow survey: Bangalore has the least number of spots for sparrow sightings, according to a survey by the Bombay Natural History Society. (BNHS).

Recording studio The Music Mint is holding a four-weekend, eightsession course in digital music production. The course benefits musicians, music lovers keen on understanding music creation, and those considering a career in

sound engineering. It covers all key areas related to digital music production: how to record, mix and master music, how to set up and use a digital audio workstation, the basics of music programming and equipment options for a home studio. The course will be conducted by Gokul Abhishek, sound engineer at The Music Mint whose work is heard on many Bangalore FM stations, and in films and albums across India and abroad. An electronics engineer from National Institute of Engineering, Mysore, he later studied sound engineering at SAE,

Chennai. The Music Mint was designed by John Lawson, former chief engineer of MGM Studios (Hollywood), it has recorded some of India's finest musicians. The studio uses world class gear including Pro Tools recording software running on Mac Pro, Reason music software, Yamaha O1V mixer and Korg N5 keyboard. The course will be held at The Music Mint, Jayanagar 4th T Block from March 30 to April 21. The course fee is Rs 20,000. To register: Call Gokul 98452 33170 or email gokul.abhishek@gmail.com

A floating buffet In the world of gastronomy, this one was a literal ‘high.’ Created by French artists Becquemin and Sagot, the much-hyped Floating Buffet at the Bonjour India (Festival of France) turned out to be pretty much what was promised. The idea was to create an artistic dinner spread that traces the relationship between the human body and food. In practice, this translated to packets of bite-sized vegetarian and non-vegetarian fare tied to helium balloons to create the floating effect. Each packet had a surprise dish in it: these took the form of bacon wrapped in the form of a sushi, small chicken-filled fried patties (which resembled a samosa), chocolate balls and so on. Once you separated the packets, the balloons, now

released from weight, rise to touch the ceiling. Amidst this, the balloons that still had the food packet attached to them kept bouncing, giving an impression of a choreographed dance. Overall, we found it a novel experience that went beyond a publicity stunt, and actually managed to present a creative mix of art and gourmet French food.

The Little Prince: a contest To celebrate the 70th anniversary of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s beloved story, The Little Prince, publishers Houghton Mifflin Harcourt are organising a contest inspired by the book. To take part in the contest, you need to submit stories inspired by some of the best-known quotes from the book. The winner will receive a US $50 (approximately Rs

2500) gift card to their favorite book retailer, and all three finalists will receive the new 70th anniversary editions of The Little Prince, which includes a book and a CD of the unabridged audiobook (read by actor Viggo Mortensen) . To view the quotes and for rules and regulations, log on to hmhbooks.com/ thelittleprince

A talk on Bangladesh Journalist and author Salil Tripathi will deliver a talk on the ongoing unrest in Bangladesh over war crimes in 1971. In the talk titled ‘Bangladesh : The Quest for Justice,’ Tripathi will examine the historical and political factors that have contributed to the present turmoil. The talk will be held at Bangalore International Centre at 6 pm on April 3. At: BIC, TERI Complex, 4th Main, 2nd Cross, Domlur II Stage Tel: 25359680


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21

Forward

Ode to a teacher A lesson in workplace sexual harassment This poem is a parting gift from Vandana Rao, BA student at NMKRV First Grade College for Women who graduates this year, to her teacher Mala Sridhara, Professor of Psychology. Me To You I tell you, you who teach me, That today, if I have seen that my books can breathe, If I do not pass my days in prison, if I am free, If, at what is unjust, I can bare my teeth, You are the reason. I know what it means to be loved while I learn And what it is to learn while I love And to know that when, sometimes, I might refuse to learn, You would not refuse to love. And to excuse failings in it that you might see, For nothing I write can fully express The immenseness of what you mean to me. And I tell you, That if I have had the courage to write this, You are the reason.

Condom contest

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is offering anyone who can come up with a viable proposal for the next-generation condom a Rs 50 lakh-plus initial funding, which could go up to Rs 5 crore. According to the Foundation, men tend to avoid using condoms because it decreases pleasure, while female condoms, apart from having the same drawback, require proper insertion training and are substantially more expensive than their male counterparts. They think that a next-generation condom that manages to solve these problems can significantly impact global health and population levels. They have stated that ideas that may prove too expensive for widespread use in the developing world or those that don’t do the job of preventing pregnancy or disease transmission will be dismissed right away. The contest is part of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Grand Challenges Explorations”, which funds programmes geared toward improving the lot of the world’s poorest citizens. You can submit your idea for a next-generation condom at GrandChallenges.org.

This comedy skit from MadTV, an American comedy show based on material from the iconic Mad Magazine, gives a sharp lesson in sexual harassment awareness in a humorous manner. Avalable on YouTube, it depicts a group of employees receiving a lesson on the subject. One of them claims that he doesn’t understand the concept of sexual harassment, articulating several commonplace ideas used to justify or diminish the seriousness of sexual harassment in the workplace. These include notions about women not knowing “how to take a

compliment” and “flying off the handle”. He also suggests that men are simply trying to “boost women’s spirits” through compliments or that sometimes men “accidentally” touch women inappropriately. The

The week ahead

workshop facilitator, increasingly frustrated, highlights the ways in which sexual harassment, though sometimes difficult to articulate through words (and, by extension, rules and policies), can come into sharper focus when experienced firsthand. Apart from clarifying what sexual harassment entails, the clip could serve as a useful launching pad for a discussion of what sexual harassment feels like (and why workplaces need to have policies against it). To view the video, search for ‘Mad TV — Sexual Harassment Lessons’ on YouTube.com

A film critic’s tryst with acting Regular Talk contributor and well-known film scholar and critic MK Raghavendra recently decided to take the risk and act in a movie himself. Titled Junction, the one minute, forty secondshort is directed by Alan Aranha, and edited by the director and Raghavendra's son Bharat Mirle. The film was declared the National Winner of a competition by Film Festival Flix in the US and also won the second

prize at the PEC Film Festival in Chandigarh. It was also part of the official selection for the 2013

Berlin International Directors Lounge. The film can be viewed on YouTube.

Calling child authors What’s life insurance got to do with literature? Whatever it is, Max Life Insurance has announced a competition for young authors titled ‘igenius Young Authors’ Hunt’. Your child can submit his or her essays and stories through the contest website and get a chance to win exciting gifts and scholarships. Selected entries will also be published in an anthology by Rupa Publications India. The expert jury that will judge the entries

consists of such well-known story writing and particiauthors as Ruskin Bond and pants can write their own stories. The topics for the Chetan Bhagat. essays are listed on the The contest is open for website for the junior and children in two age senior categories. Registracategories: Juniors (8-12 tions will be open till April years) and Seniors (12-15 years) and will have a three- 20, and submissions (essay & short story) will be open round evaluation process. There is no specific topic till April 30. The organisers are offering 1000 early bird for prizes (a Ruskin Bond book autographed by him). For more information and to register, log on to www.igenius.org.

 BRICS bank: The BRICS group of countries, including India, which recently agreed to create a bank to fund development efforts, is expected to negotiate further to reach a consensus on the bank’s formal shape.  Net attack: Cyprus is heading towards severe financial crisis as the chief executive of the Bank of Cyprus, the island’s biggest lender, has been sacked by the central bank governor as part of an international bailout deal.  No hotline: A "bazooka" cyber attack described as the most powerful ever seen, is expected to keep traffic slow on the Internet, and raise concerns about data security.  Modi invite: Gujarat CM Narendra Modi is expected to get a boost after a US Congressional delegation met and invited him to US. The US had earlier denied Modi a visa for his alleged role in the 2002 Gujarat riots.  NCTC green flag: With the UPA government conceding to the demands of nonCongress chief ministers, the proposed National Counter Terrorism Centre is expected to become a reality by midApril.  Mulayam strategy: Following Mulayam Singh’s recent tirade against the Congress, speculation is rife that his party might withdraw outside support to the UPA government.  Forging ties: The suspension of six DMDK MLAs from the assembly could bring political rivals DMK and the DMDK closer.  Kejriwal fast: AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal’s indefinite fast against “inflated” power bills entered the fifth day today, even as the party said that his health “deteriorated”.  Borewell fines: If you fail to register your borewells, you may have to cough up a fine of Rs 2,000 and even be jailed for up to three months, according to the BWSSB.


concert notes

talk|4 apr 2013|talkmag.in

Agra-Atrauli meets Holi This Hindustani concert by Aditi Upadhya was the right match for the season’s colours

SUMATHI MURTHY diti Upadhya, wellknown Bangalorean vocalist, sang Holi-related compositions at a special concert last week. An exponent of the Agra-Atrauli gharana, she carries forward its traditions, shaped in recent years by masters such as Dinkar Kaikini, KG Ginde and SCR Bhat. Groomed by all three, Aditi recreated aural pictures of rural, 17th century north India, all the while expressing emotions relevant to contemporary times. Aditi began with Gagan Vihang, a raga created by the late Pandit Dinkar Kaikini. Her timbre holds the power to touch listeners, and the landing on the shuddha madhyam (the fourth) evoked the warmth of a winter embrace. Aditi took the audience through various moods of pining through her extraordinary bol banav (singing approximating conversation). The vilambit (slow-tempo) composition Dekhatha mukha chandra chakor

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showed the many shades of pining. It was a mix of ragas Bihag and Mand and created many shifting pictures of love. She then moved from autumn to spring, presenting compositions in raga Basant. Usually, Basant can be a restless raga, evoking the burst of spring. With Aditi, it was coy and peaceful.The 120-minute concert was filled with minute details of the traditional AgraAtrauli style. Every single phrase made a creative statement. She then sang thumris on Holi composed by Shobha Gurtu and Murad Ali. These described the colour and the frolic of the festival. Whether it was the classical khayal or the ‘semi-classical’ thumri, Aditi’s voice evoked histories and live feelings. Her disciples supported her with able vocal accompaniment. Ashwin Walawalkar on harmonium was a treat. The concert was organised by Vesoma Fitness Centre at Malleswaram on March 23

When nature bursts forth

Spring SAVIE KARNEL savie.karnel@talkmag.in

e know spring has arrived in the country when it’s Holi. Trees in Bangalore are laden with flowers and Cubbon Park is a photographer’s dream. Spring festivals are celebrated throughout the world around this time. In fact, Easter too comes from a spring fes- W tival of the pre-Christian era. The term spring has been around for a very long time. In Old English, spring was written springan, which later became spring. It was only used to mean ‘bursting forth’ or ‘leap.’ It went on to be used to denote a place where water comes out of the ground, which was called a ‘water spring.’ Spring was also used to describe anything The Talk that rises or column on advances. For

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instance, “The sun springs in the morning.” It was in the late 14th century that spring started being used to denote the season after winter. Soon after winter, plants grow quickly. Suddenly young leaves burst out of dry stems. In no time, you see flowers covering your surroundings. It seems like nature is coming awake from its slumber with gusto, eager to don a new look. It was this change in nature that made people call the season springing time, spring of the leaf, or spring of the year. Gradually, they began to call the season just spring. Before spring became popular as a season, the term used instead was lencten, lengten or lenten. It came from the Germanic term langiton, meaning long. Perhaps this was used because the days are longer at this time of the year. After winter, the sun’s path is higher and daylight lasts longer. After the term spring took over, lenten survived as the Christian term for the six weeks preceding Easter. These weeks, observed with fasting and prayer, continue to be called Lenten or Lent. In mid-15th century, clocks and watches with springs became popular.

K E Y

O R D S

word origins

They used a metallic coil with elastic properties; when stretched and released, they returned to shape. Because it leapt back, this object too came to be called a spring. In the 1660s, similar devices were used in carriages and coaches, which also came to be called springs. Now, we call any metallic coil that retains its original shape a spring. We see them being used in ball point pens with press-buttons, chairs, doors, and even spring mattresses. The original meaning of jumping or bursting out is still in use. The verb form continues to be used commonly in modern English. We say, “He sprang from his chair,” or “BPOs have been springing up in Bangalore.” Spring is also used to mean ‘announce suddenly.’ For instance, “He sprang his resignation on Monday morning.” This meaning came into use in the late 19th century. In the 1900s, spring was also used to mean release from prison. Around the same time, the term also gained a slang meaning, ‘to pay.’ You could say, “He offered to spring for dinner.” What all these different usages of spring have in common is the same phenomenon—of something bursting forth or jumping out.

RAINBOW RIOT In most parts of India, the arrival of spring is marked by Holi, the festival of colours


L I S T I NGS

talk|4 apr 2013|talkmag.in

easter special

performance  Groovy night: Watch the world’s number one DJ, Tiesto perform live in the city. Tiesto has retained his place as the top DJ for three consecutive years now according to DJ Magazine. His music spans genres like house, trance, progressive trance, progressive house and more. He has won several awards and his album, Elements of Life was nominated for the Grammy Awards in 2008. Apart from being in the top three DJs in the world , Tiesto is also known for his philanthropic activities. Tickets are priced at Rs 2,500 onwards. Bhartiya City, Thanisandra Main Road, March 30, Gates open at 6 pm 49378000

Malleswaram, March 31 42521000

 Traditional lunch: Feel Easter is incomplete without a touch of tradition? Head to Rim Naam where you can enjoy dishes like roast turkey with giblet gravy and honey glazed ham with grain mustard. Rim Naam, The Oberoi, MG Road, March 31 25585858

 Easter brunch: Head out with your family on Easter Sunday for a brunch consisting of duck roast, pork chops, grilled tuna, pizzas, pastas, tarts and veg grills. You can also try out the Easter eggs in cheesecake and mousse flavours. Under The Mango Tree, # 3, Laurel Lane ,Richmond Town, March 31 9686601021  Time to celebrate: Here's another reason to celebrate. Head out to Toscano and try out their salads and live stations, unlimited main course, sangria, beer and mocktails. Priced at Rs 1,495 for adults and Rs 795 for kids. Toscano, 2nd Floor, Forum Value Mall, Whitefield, March

music

31 25930224  Love for traditions: This Easter enjoy the traditional Malayali dishes like Kerala duck roast with kallu appam and nadan tharavu roast and more. The Grill and Curry Bowl, 1 MG Mall, Trinity Circle, March 31 9743488881  Food for thought: This weekend celebrate Easter with your family and friends as you try out a special menu laid out for you. Choose from their seafood buffet, brunch buffet, pastries, cookies and Easter eggs. Priced at Rs 1,750 plus tax. 24/7, The Lalit Ashok, KumaraKrupa Road, Sheshadripuram, March 31 30527777

 Treat yourself: Easter goodies like chocolate, marzipan, Easter eggs and traditional hot cross buns make for good gifts this year. Priced at Rs 60 onwards buy these for your loved ones and say Happy Easter. Available at all French Loaf outlets  Feast like a king:

 Pop at its best: This weekend enjoy some power pop music from Blek, a three member band from Mumbai. Watch Rishi Bradoo on guitar and vocals, Jared Juan Creado

on bass and vocals and Varoon Aiyer on drums. CounterCulture, 2D2 , 4th cross, Dyavasandra Industrial Area ,Whitefield, March 29, 8.30 pm 41400793  Musical magic: As they promise, enjoy some feel good rock this weekend by Solder. Watch Siddarth Abraham, Sylvester Pradeep, Akhilesh Kumar, Joel Rozario and Samson Philip perform some rocking and original tunes. Bak Bak Bar, # 1, Kira Layout, Kormangala, March 29, 8.30 pm

9243777970

 Do Deewane: Treat yourself to some soulful music by Bhupinder Singh and Mitali Singh this weekend as they perform live. Watch them as they

This Easter, kids will be spoilt for choice as there will be dishes from a special buffet that has candy floss, hot dogs, popcorns, burgers, smileys, pasta, muffins, doughnuts and more. In addition to this they can enjoy some games and have fun with a caricaturist. Feast, Sheraton Hotel, 26/1 Dr Rajkumar Road,

 Go nuts over gourmet: This Easter season try out dishes like prawn gyoza, corn and bell pepper bao, BBQ pork bao, basa, pepper dim sums, chicken satay, prok spare ribs, beef teriyaki skewers and more. likethatonly, #14/31AHagadur Road, Behind Forum Value Mall, Whitefield, March 31, 12 pm 65475610  Yummylicious food: Choose from dishes like beef skewers, garlic prawns, fricasse of chicken, roast lamb, tenderloin, chicken sausage and chicken breast, topped with a fried egg and more. Tangerine, Sizzlers and More, 52, 100 Feet Road, Near the Sony Centre intersection, Koramangala, March 30 and 31 41152679

retail therapy

Dario Boente perform some of their all time hits. Chowdaiah Memorial Hall, 16th Cross, Malleshwaram, March 30, 7 pm 23445810

 Rocking weekend: Love rock music? Then lend your ears to our very own Galeej Gurus. Their music is on the lines of Indie, Alternative, Funk and Blues-Rock. The band has opened for artistes like Mr BIG, Deep Purple and Korn. ITC Windsor, #25, Windsor Square, Golf Course Road, March 30, 8. 45 pm 22264941

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 Nirvana at its best: Witness the magic as Krishna Beura performs live. Krishna has performed across cities and has lent his voice for movies like Chak De India, Musafir, Raaz 2 and more. Tickets are priced at Rs 499 and Rs 999. Phoenix Market City, Mahadevpura, Whitefild Road, Whitefild, March 30, 6.30 pm  Jazz up your weekend: All the way from New York, performing this week is Dario Boente and his band. Dario is a New York based pianist and has performed worldwide. Watch three time Grammy Winner Antonio Sanchez on drums, Ronny Jordan on guitars, Miguel Zenon on saxophone, Gregoire Maret on harmonica and Jorge Pardo on flute. bFlat , 100 Feet Road, Above ING Bank, HAL 2nd Stage, Indiranagar, March 30 , 8.30 pm 41739250

 Dazzle like a diva: Inspired by the sun, the Surya collection signifies hope, happiness, novelty and optimism. Choose from pendants, earrings and rings. The collection is priced at Rs 38,000 onwards. Available at www.caratlane.com

footwear? Look no further as Vans introduces its latest collection. The collection is comfortable and is available in colours like black, orange, charcoal and light blue. Available at Vans store, Forum Mall, Kormangala and Phoenix Market City, Whitefield

 Get set for a battle: If you like your watch more aggressive and masculine, then Fossil brings to you their latest collection, Mega Chief. The watches are available in different designs and different coloured dials. Prices start at Rs 11,495. Available at Lifestyle, Shoppers Stop, Helios, Ethos, Just in Vogue and other outlets

 Sport the bold: This summer season add a dash of colour to your wardrobe as you shop from the latest collection from Allen Solly. Choose from colours like yellow, minty green, brave blue and maverick red. Available at all Allen Solly outlets

 Happy feet: Looking for comfortable yet stylish


L I S T I NGS

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restaurant week S Aravind  The Improv: The unique play does not have a script. Instead the script is provided by the audience on the spot to the actors who are on the stage. You will witness funny situations, random moments, emotional moments and some real life like moments. Opus, 4, 1st Main, Chakravarthy Layout Palace Cross Road, Sankey Road ,Palace Orchards, March 29 9844030198  Seussification of A Midsummer Night`s Dream: The play is about two narrators who are caught in a love story and to get out of the situation they wander into the forest full of beasts and fairies. The play has Arun Nair, Akanchha Karki, Akshay Datta, Aditya Iyengar, Aaron Punnen, Lester D Couto, Chetan Arvind Rao, Sonam Powar, Karthik Somasundaram and others.

Techpark, Marathahalli

Jagriti theatre , Varthur Road, Ramagondanahalli, Whitefield, March 29 to 31, 8 pm 41248298  Mari Kadu: The play is an adaption of Shakespeare's Macbeth. The story has been adapted into a Kannada folk tale keeping in mind the modern day situation. The play highlights deceit, treason, murder, and power hungry people. It is directed by Surendranath. Ranga Shankara, #36/2, 8th Cross, 2nd Phase, J P Nagar, April 2 to 4, 7.30 pm 26592777  Tickle your funny bone: Witness the madness this weekend at WTF, the standup comedy performance. The evening will see standup comedians like S Aravind, Naveen Richard, Rajiv and Ashwin Rao. Alliance Francaise de Bangalore, # 16 G M T Road, Vasanthnagar, March 31, 7.30 pm 41231340

30412940

 Foodie’s DelightFood lovers in the city are in for a treat as the Restaurant Week kicks off from April 1. This event is being held in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore simultaneously. This week-long food festival will showcase culinary skills of chefs from various hotels and restaurants in the city. Customers will have a wide selection of cuisines to choose from at a reasonable price of Rs 750 exclusive of taxes for a three course menu. Indian to Mediterranean, Chinese to Italian, you name it and it will be up for tasting.

Reservations for the same can be made on www.restaurantweekindia.com. Following restaurants are participating in this: Azure, Vivanta by Taj Yeshwantpur, Tumkur Road 66900111 Baluchi, The Lalit Ashok Bangalore, Seshadripuram 30412940 Benjarong, 1/3, Ulsoor Road, Near Manipal Centre 32217201 Blue Ginger, The Taj West End Hotel, Race Course Road 66605660 Blue Terrain, Novotel Bengaluru

Cafe Noir, UB City, Vittal Mallya Road 40982050 Caperberry, 48, Groud Floor, The Estate, 121, Dickenson Road 25594567 Dakshin, ITC Windsor, Golf Course Road 22269898 Dum Pukht, ITC Windsor, Golf Course Road 22269898 Ente Keralam, Ulsoor Road 32421002 Graze, Vivanta by Taj, M.G. Road 30412940 likethatonly, Plot No. 14/31A, Hadagur Road, Whitefield 65475610 Masala Klub, The Taj West End Hotel, Race Course Road 66605660 Mezzaluna, Mövenpick Hotel & Spa Bangalore, New BEL Road 43001000 Olive Beach, Ashok Nagar , Wood Street 41128400 Shiro, U.B. City, Vittal Mallya Road 41738862 Teppan, Sivanchetti Gardens, Ulsoor Road 32569029 The Pink Poppadom, Ista Hotel, Ulsoor 3041940 Trader Vic's, Phoenix Market City Mall, Whitefield 7259021113 April 1 to 10

To get your event listed, write to us at listings@talkmag.in

film Himmatwala

 Himmatwala Hindi A remake of the 1983 blockbuster by the same name, Himmatwala is the story of Dharam Murti, who is the head master in Shaktinagar. He lives with his wife Savitri and two children. Dharam witnesses Sher Singh murder someone after which he goes and lodges a complaint in the police station. Sher Singh is put behind bars but uses his power and ends his stint in the jail shortly. A few days later Dharam is found in a compromising position with the new school teacher. He then leaves

town and his wife has to bear the consequences. Directed by Sajid Khan, it has Ajay Devgn, Tammanna Bhatia and Paresh Rawal in the lead role. Fun Cinemas, Cunningham Road- 10 am, 12.50 pm, 3.10, 6.40, 9.25, 10 Cinepolis, Bannerghatta Road- 10 am, 10.55, 12.10 pm, 1, 3.05, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10 Rex Theatre- 10 am, 2.40 pm, 7.20, 10 Abhinay Theatre, Gandhinagar10.30 am, 1.30 pm, 4.30, 7.30 Everest Theatre, Frazer Town- 11.30 am, 2.30 pm, 6.30, 9.30 Vision cinemas- 10 am, 1 pm, 4, 7,

9.45 Eshawari Cinemas, Banashankari- 11.15 am, 2.30 pm, 6.15, 9.15 Rockline Cinemas, Jalahalli Cross- 11.30 am, 1.30 pm, 6.45, 9.30 Innovative Multiplex- 10.45 am, 1.45 pm, 4.30, 7.15, 10 Gopalan Grand Mall, Old Madras Road- 10.15 am, 1 pm, 4, 4.45, 6.45, 9.45 Gopalan Cinemas, Bannerghatta Road- 10 am, 12 pm, 3.30, 5.05, 7.15, 10 Gopalan Cinemas, Mysore Road10.15 am, 1 pm, 4, 7, 9.45 Gopalan Mall, Sirsi Circle10 am, 1 pm, 4, 7, 9.45 INOX, JP Nagar- 10 am, 10.40 , 3.20, 4.10, 5.40, 6.15, 8.35, 9.10 INOX,

Garuda Mall, Magrath Road- 10 am, 11, 2, 3.10, 4, 5, 6.10, 8, 8.30, 9.10 INOX, Swagath Garuda Mall, Jayanagar- 10 am, 1.25 pm, 3.25, 4.20, 6.20, 9.15 INOX, Mantri Mall, Malleswaram- 10 am, 3.25 pm, 6.20, 8.20, 9.15 Fame Shankarnag, MG Road12.55 pm, 3.55, 9.10 Fame Lido, off MG Road- 10 am, 10.45, 12.55 pm, 3.50, 6.55, 8, 9.10 Fame Forum Value Mall, Whitefield- 10 am, 10.45, 1.45, 2.50, 3.20, 4.45, 5.40, 6.15, 7.45, 8.30, 9.15  GI Joe Retaliation English

The movie is about GI Joes who are framed as traitors by Zartan, who is still impersonating the President of the United States. After these allegations, the Cobra Commander has all the world leaders under his control. Outnumbered, the GI Joes form a plan with the original GI Joe General Joseph Colton to overthrow the Cobra Commander and his allies, Zartan, Storm Shadow and Firefly. Directed by Jon M Chu, it has Channing Tatum, Dwayne Johnson, Ray Park, Bruce Willis, DJ Cotrona, Lee Byung-hun and Jonathan Pryce in the lead. 2D- Fun Cinemas, Cunningham Road- 10 am 3D- Fun Cinemas, Cunningham Road- 11.15 am, 1.50 pm, 4.25, 7, 9.35 Cinepolis, Bannerghatta Road- 10 am, 11.10, 1.20, 1.55, 3.30, 5.40, 7.50, 9.20, 10 Rex Theatre12.40 pm, 5.20 Urvashi Theatre- 11 am, 3 pm, 6.15, 9.45, Mukunda Theatre- 11 am, 3.40 pm, 8.30 Lakshmi Theatre- 10 am, 1 pm, 5, 7.45 Rockline Cinemas, Jalahalli Cross2.15, 4.15, 8.45 CineMAX, Total Mall, Outer Ring Road- 10.30 am, 12.45 pm, 3, 5.15, 6.30, 7.30, 9, 9.45 CineMAX, Central Mall, Bellandur- 10.30 am, 12.45 pm, 3, 5.15, 7.30, 9, 9.45

Manasa Digital,- 11 am, 1.30 pm, 4.15, 7 Innovative Multiplex- 11 am, 3.45 pm, 9.45 Gopalan Grand Mall, Old Madras Road- 10 am, 2.30 pm, 7.45, 10 Gopalan Cinemas, Bannerghatta Road- 10 am, 12.45 pm, 2.45, 7.55, 10 Gopalan Cinemas, Mysore Road- 10 am, 5.15 pm, 10 Gopalan Mall, Sirsi Circle- 12.45 pm, 5.15 , 10 INOX, JP Nagar10.20 am, 12.35 pm, 2.50, 7.35, 9.50 INOX, Garuda Mall, Magrath Road10.30 am, 12.35 pm, 3, 5.15, 7.30, 9.45 INOX, Swagath Garuda Mall10.05 am, 2.45 pm, 7.30, 9.45 INOX, Mantri Mall, Malleswaram10.30 am, 12.45 pm, 3, 5.15, 7.30, 9.45 Fame Shankarnag, MG Road- 10.40 am, 6.55 pm Fame Lido, Off MG Road- 10 am, 12.10 pm, 2.25, 4.40, 5.50, 9.55 Fame Forum Value Mall, Whitefield10.30 am, 12.45 pm, 3, 5.15, 7.30, 9.45  Veera Kannada This action drama stars Malashri, Komal Kumar, Ashish Vidyarthi, Rahul Dev and Mukul Dev. The film

is directed by Ayyappa P Sharma and the music has been composed by Hamsalekha. Kapali- 10.30 am, 1.30 pm, 4.30, 7.30, Veeresh- 10.30 am, 1.30 pm, 4.30, 7.30, Navarang- 10.30 am, 1.30 pm, 4.30, 7.30g, Nalanda, 10.30 am, 1.30 pm, 4.30, 7.30 Rockline Cinemas, Jalahalli Cross- 10.45 am, 4.20 pm Gopalan Cinemas, Mysore Road- 12.15 pm, 5.15 Gopalan Grand Mall, Old Madras Road- 1 pm Sri Krishna Theatre11.30 am, 2.30 pm, 6.15, 9.30

Veera


OOKtalk

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Authorspeak

The myth (re)makers This week, we talk to two authors—Amish Tripathi and Bangalore’s own Samhita Arni— best-known for their fictional interpretations of mythological themes and characters

‘Man turning into God isn’t new’ sound like history. What is the basis of your research? There are two ways of approaching this. One is the approach of the historian. For example, there is the story of emperor Ashok, where there is evidence to back it up. The second approach is the philosophical approach, where the What is easier, being an investment banker myth itself is not treated as or a writer? Both are difficult, but when I was a banker I such. I usually use the first in my used to be aggressive and would often lose approach my temper. After I started writing, I’ve research. become a much better person. I feel happy Is it only Hindu now. mythology that interests you? Did you have a plan B in case your writing The reason I write career didn’t take off? I had not resigned from my job when I had about Hindu mytholwritten my first two books. So, if I hadn’t done ogy is that I know it a lot better. I grew up well in writing, I would’ve still had my job. with it. But I have read the Quran and the Bible. If any In your trilogy, you portray Shiva as a man story ideas strike me, I will whom legend turned into a God; didn’t you write about them. fear a backlash from Hindutva groups? Not at all, because I am not writing anything new. This myth of man turning into God has Amish was in the city recently been in India for long. Man turning into God for the launch of his new book, is not new. People should be happy because The Oath of the Vayuputras I’m writing about our mythology.

‘Myths are eternal’

You were rejected by many publishers. What kept you motivated throughout that phase? I was obviously very depressed and felt dejected. More than 20 publishers rejected me; I stopped keeping a count of them. I had decided if no one is backing me, I will back myself. My father always told me to do what you believe in and not care about the results.

You rationalise mythology and make it

SANDRA M FERNANDES

In the news

Odd title of the year

RIP Chinua Achebe

Quirky literary award The Diagram Prize has a simple agenda—to reward the year’s oddest book title. And this year, the prize has gone to Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop, a supernaturally tinged barnyard manual by Reginald Bakeley. Subtitled “and other practical advice in our campaign against the fairy kingdom,” its Massachusetts-based publisher Conari Press describes it as the “the essential primer for banishing the dark fairy creatures that are lurking in the dark corners and crevices of your life.” Other finalists included How Tea Cosies Changed the World, Was Hitler Ill? and God’s Doodle: The Life and Times of the Penis.

Perhaps the most-influential voice in the history of African literature, Chinua Achebe died after a short illness. A scholar, poet, and social critic, 82year-old Achebe is best known for bringing the trials and tribulations of Nigeria to the world’s consciousness for the last half century. His first novel, the groundbreaking Things Fall Apart is the most-widely read book in African literature and has sold more than 8 million copies worldwide. In the words of former South African President Nelson Mandela, Achebe “brought Africa to the rest of the world.”

Given the the sheer number of such titles being released, what do you think draws people to mythology-based fiction? I think it’s because myths are eternal; they address issues that somehow—no matter how much things change— are relevant to every society. And they are constantly retold, in a way that reflects the society of the reteller’s time. This has happened in the past—that’s why there are countless versions of the Ramayana. I see my own work as a continuation of this tradition. What inspired your interpretation of a section of the Ramayana? The fact that the Ramayana is still so much part of conversation in India today—it is so much a part of the way we talk and think. It’s still referred to in politics, in court judgments, in advertisements and television shows. What are the challenges of writing a feminist take on an epic? How do you deal with the patriarchal values that are inherent to them? Are the epics inherently patriarchal? I’m not sure. I think they present societies that are

patriarchal—but figures like Kunthi, Draupadi and Gandhari are forceful in their own right. Although their lives are constrained, they’re strong characters. Some of the oral traditions subvert the patriarchal bias in the Ramayana and criticise itthrough singing in Sita’s voice, or singing about the hardships she faces. As for a feminist take, I think the greatest challenge is to break away from the mainstream, populist take on these epics. What boundaries do you set, particularly plot-related ones, when retelling epics that have cultural and religious sentiment attached to them? I didn’t want to hurt or cross the line in this book. I’ve asked questions, but haven’t answered them myself directly. Instead, I’ve tried to provoke the reader into answering them. For some, though, even asking questions is problematic. Samhita Arni is the author of the acclaimed Mahabharata— A Child’s View, Sita’s Ramayana and the recently released The Missing Queen

PRACHI SIBAL


memoir

Student kills principal Everyone is shocked when the soft-spoken William commits a murder on the campus, but the gruesome incident has an unlikely story behind it ife at Government Law College was boring. There were few students my age: the college was full of people working in government offices and pursuing their studies before office hours. Classes began at 7 am and ended at 10.30 am. Students used to skip classes, or run to work as soon as the classes were done. Even the professors appeared indifferent, with some showing more interest in deciding a place for their evening drink than in their teaching. I started frequenting the courts, located close to

VIVEK ARUN

L

crime folio

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Fabled ranconteur and Bangalore’s top-notch criminal lawyer brings you moving, sensational and bizarre stories from 40 years of his practice

CH HANUMANTHARAYA

our college. There I came across stopped by a commotion. A boy curious murder cases. I found the holding an iron rod came running civil cases materialistic: they from Government Arts and Science revolved around property and pos- College. Hundreds of students were session. On the other hand, the chasing him. They were screaming criminal cases were rich in human he was a murderer, and that he had killed the principal. emotions. I recognised him as a fellow The courtrooms became my activist who had been real classrooms. I didn’t with me during a camwant to miss the arguChased by paign against the ments of senior lawyers the students, imposition of Hindi like Devadas and A on Kannada schools. Shamanna. he locked His name was One day, after colhimself in a William. lege, when I was walkgarage In a bid to ing towards Central escape, William College to meet the well-known writer P Lankesh—who entered an NCC shed nearby, pulled down the shutters and locked himtaught English there—I was self in. When the students


memoir tried to break open the shutters, the police intervened. William opened the shutters and came out after the police promised to protect him. As he stood remorseless, the police hand-cuffed him. When students advanced to attack him, the police warned them: “Don’t try to settle personal scores using this pretext. William has surrendered to us after committing the crime. The court will decide on his punishment, not you.” During the anti-Hindi agitation, William had accompanied me in laying siege to Kapali cinema. When we were pelting stones at the hall, a police inspector had warned me, “You have stones in your hands, but remember we have bullets.” I had retorted, “Our hearts are stronger than your bullets.” On hearing this, William had embraced me with admiration. Sometimes I used to tease William for what I then saw as his mildness. “When a village boy like me is so courageous, why are you so scared?” I used to taunt him. My first thought that day was: How could a timid boy like William commit murder? I met one of his close friends. I took him to India Coffee House on MG Road, and asked him what exactly had happened.

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me how William fared in the practical He narrated a shocking story. William had hit the principal with an examination, and hinting we should give iron rod, and killed him in front of the stu- him more marks.” Even William’s classmates used to dents during class hours. The name of the principal was tease him. Whenever they saw the princiMunigaviappa. Dark-skinned, he had pal, they would tell William, “See, here white patches of leucoderma. The mix of comes your daddy.” At times, William dark and white patches on his face and shot back, “Yes, he is my daddy. So what?” One day, the students challenged huge body gave him a grotesque look. Munigaviappa had an affair with William to say ‘Hello, daddy’ to Munigaviappa to prove William’s mother he was really his son. Ritamma, a poor widow. ‘The rogue fleeced William took up the chalShe lived in Parvathipura lenge. in VV Puram, and penury my mother,’ a When the principal had made her depend on drunk William arrived, as curious stuMunigaviappa. told his friend dents stood watching in Munigaviappa had the corridor, William admitted William to the college where he was the principal, and approached Munigaviappa and said, “Hello, daddy.” William was doing the BSc course. Caught unawares, Munigaviappa The extra-martial affair became known in the college. While cringed. He muttered, “Foolish fellow,” Munigaviappa wanted to conceal this, his and rushed to his chamber to wipe his colleagues taunted him, and spread stories brow. The students laughed. The insult was unbearable for about him. However, they couldn’t do much as Munigaviappa was a strong William. Some friends consoled him and took him out for a drink. As he sat drankadministrator. Once, Munigaviappa heard a lecturer ing, Munigaviappa’s words, ‘Foolish fellow,’ saying, “Despite his dirty history, the prin- rang repeatedly in his head. An aging Munigaviappa had lost cipal projects himself as though he is a principled Lal Bahadur Shastri. He asks interest in Ritamma. He had stopped

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sending money to her. Ritamma had to pester him for the monthly instalment. Sometimes, this would lead to quarrels between them. Once, when William was at home, Ritamma had shouted at Munigaviappa: “People are disgusted even to look at your face. But I slept with you for ten years. You have taught me a lesson for that.” That was the end. Munigaviappa was not seen in Ritamma’s house again. When William was taking a practical exam, a lecturer told him, “I think the principal is angry with you. He asked me to be strict in marking you.” William was livid. After he finished the exam, he went out for a drink with a friend. He broke down as he spoke about the injustice. “The rogue fleeced my mother, and now he is out to finish me,” he screamed. The next morning William murdered Munigaviappa. Lawyer A Shamanna argued for William. The court sentenced William to life imprisonment. I followed this case closely. William appealed against the judgment and his jail term was reduced to six years. (Translated by BV Shivashankar)


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A day in the life of a Sensei RAMESH HUNSUR

Seemingly worthless things teach us refinement of the soul riday 11 pm: I reach home hungry after a day of work and hard partying. No food at home. Saturday 12 am: Shower. I realise I haven’t cleaned the dog poo on the terrace for two days. I am really tired but I feel bad for them. I go upstairs, telling myself I love them. Clean. 1 am: I realise the dogs haven’t had their biscuits. I walk three floors down and up. Then I remember they have no water to drink. Shall I give them tap water? Would I do that if they were my children? Up and down three floors again. 1.30 am: I sort out clothes for Saturday’s training. No tracks. I put clothes in the washing machine. Watch TV. Dry clothes. 2.00 am: Doze. Sleep fretfully. 3.00 am: Get up because dogs are barking on the terrace and disturbing the neighbours. Hush them. Scold them. Then feel sorry—how can you scold someone you love? 3.30 am: Starving. Open fridge. Find frozen rice, rasam, curd. Mix them all with chutney powder and— wow!—it tastes like something from the Taj. 4 am: Go to sleep. Wake up because dog in the room is hungry and complaining. I feed her biscuits. Maybe she has acidity. I give her milk. 6 am: Alarm rings. Poor sleep, so head is buzzing. Sometimes the buzz goes away with some milk or eggs. I wash utensils. Dogs have peed, so clean. Put out garbage. 8.00 am: At the dojo (training place) where I teach. Three hours of rigorous training. I strive to perform irrespective of my condition. The first hour my head spins and am nauseous. As I sweat and burn out, I feel normal. Sometimes I have a catch or spasm that along with my injuries—knee, heel, ankle—escalates during the day. 11.30 am: Head to brunch with some students. Sometimes I make special omelettes for all. 9.00 pm: Clean up house, shower, feed dogs, watch TV, fretful sleep… Weekdays: Work 12.30-8 pm. Three hours of driving to the company where I teach. Rigorous sessions. No lunch since I can’t train on a full stomach. Unbearable heat.

F

SENSEI AVINASH “The ‘less’ I am, the more I can give, and the greater are my abilities”

And what it all means… Cleaning poo: To conquer our natural revulsion to an undesired object is spiritual and helps understand life’s meaning. Make the negativities of life—hunger, sleeplessness, cleaning poo—positive. Make discomfort your comfort and in time the distinction between comfort and discomfort becomes meaningless. I shower three to four times a day because hygiene is important. I extend this hygiene to my surroundings. I clean the house, carry trash bags, clean the food fallen on the restaurant table. Hygiene is about health and caring for the self. All through my cleaning, I use my movements to train. When I kneel and bend, I practise movements and principles taught by my Sensei. Scrubbing, washing and rinsing can be budo movements. Hunger: Eat to live, not live to eat. People are dependent on food as a source of happiness. My Sensei told me, “To be invincible you need to overcome the need for food.” I relish cold food from the fridge—rice, rasam, masala dosa, pasta and noodles left over from three days and mixed together. Isn’t taste dependent on your hunger? Don’t we see the homeless picking up food from garbage and enjoying it?

Eating should be a matter of hunger-availability-satiation, nothing more. I can eat idli-curd three times a day every day for six months happily. When I fasted for 48 days, for the first 20, I drank only water, for the next 28, I had nothing but tea twice a day. With this I was able to run 18 km a day. I did become half my size and weight but nothing perturbed me. Of course I did this for my own training. My Sensei had told me, “Till you understand near-death, you won’t realise chi.” Sleep: We usually spend a fourth of life sleeping. Only when we become one with the energy of the universe can we do without sleep. We can do more for the world then. I have consciously tried to conquer the desire to sleep and have lived with minimal sleep for the last 37 years. Every night I sleep well for about two hours. I sleep for two to three minutes during the day. I can’t sleep at night because I think, “Who will protect my people, my dogs?” I sleep best during the afternoon with everyone around me, chatting, when I feel I am not needed. I might be completely exhausted, but if I feel the water-bowl for the strays around my house is empty, I get up and do my duty. Sometimes when they gulp down the food or water I

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realise how hungry or thirsty they must have been. Once, at 3 am, during lashing rains, I realised my dogs were on the open terrace. I was in deep sleep and pain that night and just couldn’t get up. For a minute I thought, “I’m in great pain. They’re dogs, they’ll manage.” But how could I just lie there if I considered them my children? I hobbled upstairs and put them inside. Increasingly, I realise the importance of putting thought into immediate action. When I see a hungry stray while driving, I stop and feed the him. I realise the futility of “feeling bad.” Only act, don’t react. The best practice in budo is testing yourself in real time and real situations. I now realise the true meaning of my 40 years of training. I gained over the years muscle power (now lost!), mind power, inner awareness. But now I don’t use any of these. I have begun to understand their true purpose in life—refinement of the soul. A day in my life is filled with seemingly worthless things. A day constitutes nothing more than what is the day’s need. Not my need but of those around me. Each day is different but in the difference is sameness. It is the understanding that my needs are the least important in my life. But the “less” I am, the more I can give, and the greater are my abilities. (Transcribed by Radhika P)


T I M E P A SS

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T I M E P A SS 1st Cross

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Talk’s weekly crossword for Bangaloreans who know their way about town death in broad daylight in this area (11) 18 Students of PESIT and IISC did well at this robotics competition in Bombay (16) 19 Kannada film which is based on the life of Veerappan (8)

DOWN 1 Citizens and companies participated in this global environment friendly initiative last weekend (5,4) 3 Venue of The Indie March Fest (14) 4 The elephants for the Mysore Dussehra were trained at this camp (6)

Last week’s solution Across: 1 Chowdiah, 4 Srinivas, 7 R Ashoka, 8 Jacket, 10 Omkar, 11 Shankar, 12 Nandini, 15 Apartment, 16 Domlur Hutting, 17 Vivekananda.

ACROSS 2 Google's executive chairman who was in the city recently (4,7) 5 The Karnataka HC has asked the KSHIP to save as many ____ as possible while widening highways (5) 7 City hospital in the news when a teenager died of anaesthesia over-

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8 10 12 16 17

dose during a routine surgery (7) Theatre on Brigade Road (3) You will find the Bangalore Golf Club on this road (6) Restaurant famous for it's kababs and khulchas on Lavelle Road (8) Rice noodle delicacy of Karnataka (4,5) A jeweller was recently hacked to

Down: 2 Disaster, 3 Vishwanath, 5 Victoria, 6 Yamaha, 9 Apollo, 11 Shiva Kumar, 12 New York, 13 BMTC, 14 Peon.

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College in Indiranagar (4,4) Recently appointed state BJP President (7,5) 11 Area home to the City Central Library (9) 13 Former President of India who spoke at the decennial celebrations of NMKRV College of Women (5,5) 14 Nearly ___ lakh names were recently deleted from the city's voter list (8) 15 A security guard was run over by a truck at this junction in Whitefield (7)

Prof Good Sense  My husband and I were classmates before we got married, and we have a sixyear-old son. My marriage has become dull in the recent past. Though there is no real problem, I feel there’s something missing. I have found myself thinking about a friend of my husband’s who has shown a lot of interest in me. I feel low and lost. Please help. Gurushree, Mysore You are certainly lost. Take stock of yourself and look beyond the immediate. If you find your husband emotionally adequate, why are you tip-toeing outside the confines of a good marriage? If you expect love sparks to fly every minute, realise that that marriage is no welding machine. Continuous marital bliss is an illusion. It's up to you both to reinvent and create special moments and memories. Prof M Sreedhara Murthy teaches psychology at NMKRV First Grade College. He is also a well-known photographer. Mail queries to prof@talkmag.in


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Faltu fad #6: The vampire facial Some people will go to any extent to get themselves featured on this page. Take Kim Kardashian, for instance, best known for her… unusual surname? (We’re guessing). The New York socialite recently tried something called the ‘vampire facial’ which apparently is all the rage among celebs (aren’t vampires, like, sooo last year?). The procedure goes something like this (be warned: it’s painful): A doctor draws three vials of your blood, which is then spun in a centrifuge for 20 minutes. They then numb your face with

The CIA’s Operation Acoustic Kitty drinking former PM Morarji Desai would have come up with). But the real surprise is, you guessed it, the bill: it costs more than Rs 1 lakh (we told you it was painful). So, let’s get this straight: first, some guy in a white smock painfully takes out your blood. He then (even more painfully) injects your own blood back in to you, leaving you looking like a domestic violence victim, at least for the first two weeks. And at the end of it all, you have to pay him a tiny fortune for your troubles. As rackets go, this one’s pure genius.

anaesthetic cream and inject you with it. That, dear friends, is supposed to revitalise your skin, arrest ageing, etc etc. (Sounds suspiciously like something our own pee-

The American predicament Swiss investor Dr Marc Faber aka Dr Doom, who publishes the newsletter Gloom Boom & Doom Report, has a unique take on how to revive the sluggish US economy: “The federal government is sending each of us a $600 rebate. If we spend that money at Walmart, the money goes to China. If we spend it on gasoline it goes to the Arabs. If we buy a computer, it will go to India. If we purchase

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fruits and vegetables it will go to Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala. If we purchase a good car, it will go to Germany and Japan. If we purchase useless crap, it will go to Taiwan. In short, none of it will help the American economy. The only way to keep that money here at home is to spend it on guns, prostitutes and beer, since these are the only products still produced in the US. I’ve been doing my bit!”

It’s confirmed: reality is weirder than science fiction. It was recently revealed that the US’ Central Intelligence Agency, during the Cold War, actually came up with a plan to implant cats with listening devices to turn them into living surveillance machines. Veterinary surgeons implanted tiny mics into the ear canals of cats, fixed small radio transmitters at the base of their skulls, and thin wire antennas into their long fur under the top-secret project dubbed ‘Operation Acoustic Kitty’ (no kidding). The idea was to train the cats

to hang around important foreign officials so they could eavesdrop on private conversations. Apparently, no one told the whizzes at the CIA that cats are not dogs; that is, they are far from trainable, so the project was abandoned. A heavily redacted CIA memo from the time puts it thus: “Our final examination of trained cats…convinced us that the program would not lend itself... to our highly specialized needs.” Duh. And they still get away with calling themselves an ‘intelligence’ agency.

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