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CHENNAI’S LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE

September ’10

Volume 2 | Issue 5

Madras has an element of magic about it -

Tishani Doshi

Queen bee and money comb

Women & Money Diamond Rush

Creations & Connotations

The anti fairness creams movement A tale on

Live in relationships


Volume 2 | Issue 5 | September ‘10

LENIN PAUL FOUNDER

VIJETHA RANGABASHYAM EDITOR IN CHIEF

KARTHIK.R CREATIVE AND DESIGN HEAD

NANDITA THOMAS MARKETING HEAD

LEKHAMITHRA SHANMUGAM MANAGER - SALES

JERALD W. ADMIN

ASHOK RAJ C.U, LOKESH MOORTHY PHOTOGRAPHY

NIHARIKA M, RIHAN NAJIB, MEDHA RAO, NIKHIL MOTURI, LAJJU NANWANI, TIRUPURA SUNDARI ANUPAMA GOPAL, RENIE RAVIN, SHRINIVASS SUBRAMANIUM COLUMNISTS

SRIKALS GRAPHICS PVT LIMITED, CHENNAI PHONE: 044 2225 3092-94 PRINTING

EMAIL: marketing@thetaximag.com URL: www.thetaximag.com PHONE: 044 4308 4448 FOR ADVERTISING

IRON QUILL PUBLISHING SERVICES PRODUCTION 2 TAXI September 2010


Letter Editor-in-Chief’s

It is hard to sit through a TV Channel without being bombarded by a windfall of advertisements who are persistently trying to influence the people to think that success stems from the colour of one’s skin. The fundamental argument is basically that although one might have the competence to achieve something, he or she needs that magical something or “X” factor, which helps them realize their dreams. The gullible audience, not knowing the implications of the product, both physically and emotionally, conform to this and fall prey to this treacherous marketing gimmick. These fairness creams have no shame in presenting the enormous successes of some executives, some anchors, and some students. Now, as you wait for the dirty little secret behind all the flawed success to unleash itself, the triumphant girl or even worse, a celebrity puts her hand out, in which is cradled a tube of the fairness cream. And then follows the “scientifically” proven gibberish - this cream lightens your skin tone, making you fairer and consequently more good looking and hence, more successful. These ads make it seem like social acceptance is impossible without being fair. We live in an era of consumerism where minds and emotions are constantly being played with, in the pretext of wanting to be someone better. While we should all speak for development, anything remotely racist should unflinchingly be banned and our article, Creations and Connotations is a head start towards the anti fairness creams movement. Speaking of August, it has been a great month, with weeklong celebrations of the heritage of this beautiful city, which was once called Madras. Food festivals, heritage walks, documentary films and other events that centered around rejoicing Madras, definitely left us all nostalgic! I hope you enjoy this yet another special issue, which bears in it, a gamut of articles that would undoubtedly make a fantastic read for each and every one of you. See you next month!

Vijetha Rangabashyam Editor in Chief

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR CAN BE SENT TO vijetha@thetaximag.com THE BEST FEEDBACK/OPINION WILL BE FEATURED IN OUR FORTHCOMING ISSUE. September 2010 TAXI 3


08

12

16

44


Contents One on One with Tishani Doshi

8

Something Censured, Something Grey

16

Shine on you Crazy Diamond

22

The Movie Magic

26

Lighting Young Minds

30

Creations and Connotations

34

Stilleto Money

36

Vijay Shanthi’s The Art

38

JUNK IN THE TRUNK Gadgets this season

48

Soul Tarot

52

COVER: Photography: Sunder Ramu Hair & Make-up: Samantha, Page 3 Model: Gabriela Bertante Stylist: Vira Shah Assistant Stylist: Sruthi Kannath Model courtesy: Toabh Models

September 2010 TAXI 7


‘In the realm of art, everything has the potential to be noble’ Her parents’ chaotic love story is the crux of Tishani Doshi’s debut novel ‘The Pleasure Seekers’, which is already a critical success in several parts of the world and the book has also lauded praises from stalwarts like Salman Rushdie and Roddy Doyle. She speaks to NIHARIKA M about her journey as a poet, author, dancer and as someone who seeks for transformation through any form of art.

it, which seems to have be en t ou ab gic ma of nt me ele an s ha s Madra overlooked in the context of Indian English literature

8 TAXI September 2010


NIHARIKA M: You have found your passion in multiple arts. The expression in each is obviously quite diverse, but how differently do you approach each of these? TISHANI DOSHI: I think the approach in general is the same – I try to be as open as possible, curious, serious, but not without a sense of humour, I hope. NM: There is a lot of writing from the Diaspora that deals with identity, confusion, displacement and sometimes dwells pessimistically on a sense of loss. How have you perceived your experiences? TD: Loss is something we all deal with, isn’t it? No matter how far we travel or how rooted to our homes we are, loss is inevitable. Loss of the homeland though, is something that can represent a deep kind of yearning, as strong as you feel for a loved one, or perhaps even stronger. Read Pablo Neruda’s Memoirs, written in exile from Chile, and it’s a very different kind of loss than say, the immigrant experience of loss – which is borne out of choice, and usually for economic reasons. I personally don’t feel that I fit the Diasporic mould as I’ve lived in Madras all my life, barring a few years abroad, but those years were very important because they brought to fore all my fears, forced me to reassess myself in the larger context of the world, and most importantly, allowed me to look back towards my beginnings in a very different way. Of course, now that I’ve made the return journey, the displacement still remains, which goes to prove that the territory of loss is not just about geography. NM: You have travelled extensively. They say lived experience serves a better base/inspiration to writing than other writing. Do you agree? Has that helped you achieve your own personal creative space? TD: I think you can have “lived experience” without having to move out from your home. Certainly, the broader canvas of the world implies that you may have a broader variety of stories to tell. But ultimately we’re writing about universals like love, death, loneliness, family, ambition, revenge etc. And the details might change from place to place, but the core remains the same. I travel not for reasons of inspiration or experience, but because I have a restless nature, and when I’m in a place for too long I feel a sense of stagnation creeping in. The tricky thing is knowing when to move and when to keep still. NM: Objective distance is quite significant to the writing process. Was it difficult to achieve that in The Pleasure Seekers? TD: Not really. I took my time with The Pleasure Seekers, and so, I felt quite removed from it by the time I reached the end. I think with fiction, once you create the characters, and the narrative starts to unfold, you’re moving steadily away from any semblance of reality. I find that kind of distance harder with poetry, because the triggers for poetry are so immediate. Usually, my immediate response to something is always in the form of September 2010 TAXI 9


a poem, and of course, poems need to sit and breathe as much as prose. NM: Going by the genre you have mostly dealt with in your stories and poems, it seems like writing for you is catharsis. TD: Catharsis sounds as if it’s some psychiatric device to get over traumas. I don’t see it that way at all. I write because it’s my way of responding to the world, it’s how I react to violence, beauty, brutality, love and terror. I write about the things which interest me, which I care about, whether they are positive or negative, and I write

is inherently wrong – you’re basically then wading into the area of sermonizing and propaganda. I do believe that if you feel strongly about certain issues, they will inevitably find some expression in your work. At the end of the day, you have to write about things that are important to you, and if I feel it’s important that I write a poem about a herd of buffaloes, I should write about it, rather than a poem on climate change, just because it seems nobler. In the realm of art, everything has the potential to be noble.

But I’ve also been very happy as a festival groupie, going to see my favourite writers speak, being introduced to a new writer, or meeting book-loving friends. It’s a win-win as far as I’m concerned. NM: Indian cities like Delhi and Bombay gain prominence over Chennai in terms of exposure. But you have made Chennai your haven; Why? TD: It’s no rocket science. I was born in Madras and have lived here most of my life so it has a very strong place in my imagination. Also, I really do believe that Madras has an element of magic about it, which seems to have been overlooked in the context of Indian English literature. NM: How has urban India, according to you, construed the “West”?

are important ey th ut b , e iv ct je b Awards are su a wider audience because they can give a bo ok ldn’t have had than it otherwise wou with the hope of transforming those things. Transformation is ultimately what I’m looking for in any kind of art form, music, dance, painting or films. When I engage with any kind of art form I’m hoping to be provoked into laughter, thought, emotion, and I’d hope to do the same with my own work. NM: Art is a great medium for social message. Would you exploit that? Or, do you believe in Art for art’s sake? TD: I think approaching art with the idea that it could be a great medium for a social message 10 TAXI September 2010

NM: How do you see the concept of Literary Festivals? What is their place in the literary world? TD: I’m a fan of festivals in general. I like the idea of festive gatherings of human beings interacting in real time away from the virtual world. Literary festivals are set up to promote books and to provide platforms for authors and audience to interact. As a writer, I’ve enjoyed going to festivals to take a break from work, to meet other people, and of course, as a way to see a new part of the world.

TD: That’s a rather large question, which I’m not quite sure how to answer. URBAN INDIA is scary enough, but THE WEST? How to tackle those two huge entities? I’d rather not. NM: Are awards important for a writer? But aren’t awards subjective? TD: Of course awards are subjective, but they are important because they can give a book a wider audience than it otherwise wouldn’t have had. People are always going to have divided opinions about what’s good and what’s not, which is why I think more attention should be paid to the shortlist of a prize, rather than the winner. Having said that though, a prize is just one way of congratulating an author on a piece of work, and I think, given how uncertain a business writing is, most writers would rather say yes, than no to a prize.


Gabriela Bertante

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Accessories: Amethyst

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Habitat: Bandra, Mumbai My Assets: Faith in god, determination and courage My brands: Abercrombie, Mango, Armani, Dior, Zara; the list is endless. I basically like what looks good on me Magazines I like to read: Anything that talks about fashion! My laptop: Automatically opens on facebook, orkut, yahoo and megajogos My drink: Watermelon juice

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Belt: FashionFolks

Photographers and shoots: I’ve enjoyed every shoot I’ve done in India. I’ve worked with a few amazing photographers like Farrokh Chothia, Atul Kasbekar, Saurabh Dua, Haider khan, Sunder Ramu and Parag Savla A positive thing about the media: You’re always well informed A negative thing about the media: Speaks beyond what is truth The Chennai experience: Chennai is special to me, as it was the first place I worked in when I landed in India. The city is remarkable! September 2010 TAXI 15


Something

censured , something

grey by Rihan Najib

I

cannot tell you their names, nor give you an accurate description of what they do. Or how their apartment looks like,or the way their footwear crowds the doorway, the photographs mounted on the wall, the smells and stains and sundry evidences of a life being lived. She bustled about in the kitchen; there were sounds of drawers being pulled open, a spoon scraping against the saucepan, glasses tinkling against each other as she got them down from the cutlery shelf. He looked at the rug on the floor intently, greying slightly around the temples, palpably annoyed by my presence, yet somehow rendered pensive by the purpose of my visit. And I, an insistent stranger, sat before him, waiting to hear intimate details of their life together. The couple in question has been living together for seven years without the legal bind of matrimony. They have suspicious neighbours, are forced to endure hassles caused by an assortment of legalities, and what he described as the most vexing of allhaving to explain themselves and their cohabitation. She came into the room with a tray of savouries and lemonade, wearing a knowing smile. I returned her smile nervously, unsure of what to ask. Was I going to treat their life as a manifestation of an issue now under seething crossfire? Would it be political if I condoned their cohabitation? Primitive if I condemned it? Once a rare phenomenon, live-

16 TAXI September 2010

in relationships have now become the norm in most cosmopolitan areas, the statistics of live-in couples on the exponential rise. If you google ‘live-in relationships’, you will be inundated with a plethora of articles on the subject in a matter of seconds, most of which debate the viability of such a relationship and its consequences. Others take a stand, decrying the relatively new social establishment of cohabitation without marriage as fundamentally subversive, a fall-out of our continuing obsession with aping the degenerate West. Some benignly outline its better features, and a few blogs vehemently support the cause of live-in relationships, furnishing their diatribes against marriage with their personal experiences. Each piece had a crystallised conviction, the morals firmly in place, and the argument cogently made. I ended up being persuaded in both ways. Since the written word has the unfortunate destiny of reflecting the author’s temperament, this article remains patently irresolute till the end. I cleared my throat and began my questions, feeling rather foolish for the most part. Their story was similar to many other live-in relationships I read about online. They met during their post graduation studies at a prestigious institute, fell in love, graduated, moved apart, decided that the distance didn’t work for them, and moved in together. Today they live in a cosy little apartment near the Besant nagar beach,


Photography - Lokesh Moorthy

Models: Ashwin Kakumanu Srividya Srikumar Wardrobe: ESPRIT September 2010 TAXI 17


often take long walks on the seashore, and have no qualms about the life they have chosen for themselves. At one point, prompted by my inexperience with matters of such delicacy and irrepressible curiosity, I asked them, “but why couldn’t you have married?” Much to my relief, she broke into indulgent laughter and turned to look at her partner of seven years, her chin resting on her palm, asking him mischievously, “Yes, darling, why couldn’t we have married?” He looked at us with a half smile and replied, pausing liberally every now and then, “There were fissures in our relationship that might not have been able to bear the finality of something like marriage. We needed our own reasons for being together, and marriage has never been one of them. I have been crucified for a supposed lack of commitment, and this woman has been often called a fool for living so long without a ring on that finger. But you see, if we could

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live without excersing ownership over the other through a marriage license, and if we could live as happily as any other married couple, that was enough for me. It still is.” I asked her if what he said was true for her as well, and she replied light heartedly, “Oh no. He hails from a very noisy family that eats meat. Where I come from, eating animals is inconcievable and noise is obliterated whenever and however possible. Can you imagine how our wedding would be like? Disastrous!” They confided in having to face many constraints on account of their unmarried status, but never have they been significant enough to coerce them into marital life. “If anything, these little bureacratic tricks to get us to marry only succeeds in swinging us to the other end of the spectrum. I mean, if you arent allowed to live the

one life you’re allotted with the one you love in the manner you choose, then there’s something very grey about living, isnt there?”, she asked. I looked at my toes, thinking how that argument always won me over. The couple I interviewed had no children. They had walls dotted with photographs and souvenirs. The sheer curtains billowed in the breeze, revealing a steadily darkening evening. As they saw me off, they teasingly asked me if I’ll ever have a live in relationship, just to see if they’re a bad example everyone scrambled to emulate. When I said no, he smiled and said, “Well, remember to add that in your piece.” And so I have, not really understanding why my answer was in the negative, nor having enough conviction to subscribe to living-in. But from what I could make out from their

relationship and contrary to the claims of non-commitment that many anti-cohabitation articles made, there was never a lack of commitment on either side in the decision to live-in. Perhaps it took more commitment to live-in than to marry. But as I wrote this article, I realized that there is something very tender that is being lost in the discourse of justifying livein relationships. There is that fragment of emotion caught in the barbs of logic, struggling to defend itself. As Margaret Mead writes, “having someone wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night is a very old human need.” In the end, maybe that’s all there is and that’s all we have- a choice to decide how we express that need. Without it, life as we lived it would be something censured, something grey.

Photography - Lokesh Moorthy September 2010 TAXI 19


Drape the

‘Thaamra’ way A typical office going, middle aged, Chennai bred woman – she wears that quotidian chiffon sari with a nicely tailored blouse to go with it. The sheer elegance that the sari adds to her persona is inexplicable, but Asha Cherian, the proud owner of ‘Thaamra Boutique’ has undoubtedly gone a long way in understanding the fashion needs of this woman, which is deeply rooted within her ethnic and cultural milieu. The boutique, which showcases an array of ethnic Indian wear, was launched this August by Dr Grace George of Alpha Group of Institutions and Susan Mathew, IAS. “I’ve always loved shopping and to open an ethnic wear boutique has always been on my mind”, says Asha. “Beyond a certain age, women want to just experiment with ethnic wear and hence the demand for saris are so high”, she adds. What does Thaamra have to offer that the other boutiques don’t? Saris from a conglomeration of regions, particularly from North India. “I personally did all the shopping and every sari I picked out was exquisite in terms of its fabric and design”, says Asha. The customers have an assortment of saris to choose from like the usual Matka Cottons, Tasar silks, Bengal Handlooms, Crepe silks and more. However, the fast selling ones are the Georgette silks with antique weaving and zari, Organzas with Madhubani prints and Kalamkari work on Mangalgiri saris. “These pieces are not easily available in the city”, she says proudly.

Photography - Ashok Raj C.U

Apart from a plethora of saris, the boutique also has lovely semistitched kurtis and salwar sets. Poorvi Doshi has also showcased her collection from Lakme India Fashion Week. So what is next in the pipeline for Asha with regard to Thaamra? “I want to soon start a tailoring unit. I’m going to include some jewellery, footwear and accessories as such, so that my customers have a holistic shopping experience”, she says.

6, Rutland Gate – 4th Street, Nungambakkam, Chennai - 600006 20 TAXI September 2010


Shine on you crazy

DIAMOND! by Medha Rao

I never worry about diets. The only carrots that

interest me are the number of carats in a diamond. - Mae West

I

t seems as if humankind has always attempted to define and illustrate the beauty of a natural diamond in so many words. Attempts have been noble, if not entirely successful. Because the truth is, one can never hope to truly capture all the lustre of a diamond in just a few sentences. Movies have been made, novels have been written and songs have been shared, and even in these instances, justice cannot be done. If numbers are anything to go by, India is the world’s largest 22 TAXI September 2010

diamond cutting and polishing centre in the world with 11 out of 12 diamonds sold in the global market being processed in the country. According to a report by Chaim Even-Zohar, 2009 was probably the best year in a decade for India’s diamond industry. “As clichéd as it sounds, diamonds are truly a girl’s best friend, they bring to fore a sort of excitement that a consumer probably never knew existed,” smiles Ashok Manohar, store manager of a nationwide chain of jewellery stores.

THE GLITTER OF GOLD Apart from using it extensively for purposes of adornment, traditional Indian culture has always looked at jewellery as an investment – a safe financial backup. Jewellery, and more specifically gold, has always been looked upon as an equivalent to liquid cash; being highly liquid and portable as an asset, gold has been long considered as a good hedge against inflation. As Biswajit Oza, a commodities trade expert says, “According to the


World Gold Council, investing in gold is considered to be safer than traditional investments since gold is the commodity where the price is determined by various factors apart from its demand and supply.” He talks about the stability of gold as an asset and opines, “Inflation will have no impact on the price of gold, other factors remaining the same thereby lending support to your wealth. In fact, in times of inflation, more money tends to move to gold, thereby driving up its price.” His views are supported by statistics which clearly show that when it comes to being in a gold rush, Indians are way ahead of anyone else! India is the largest

consumer of gold jewellery in the world, accounting for about 20 per cent of global gold consumption. On a comparative basis, the value of diamonds as an investment option is pale. Experts observe that diamonds are used mainly in fashion jewellery, for gifting purposes and to reward our loved ones as diamonds have a special excitement in them. The value and appeal of a diamond lies more in its charm than in its ability to be a safety net. “There is a charm that surrounds diamonds. Decades of innovative marketing have been successful and consumers have it cemented in their minds that a diamond

symbolises love, romance, eternity, divinity and mysticism among other things!” says Sneha S, a jewellery designer who specialises in crafting contemporary diamond jewellery. The sparkle of a diamond is something that cannot be resisted by many. “Diamonds are coveted pieces of possession and have a certain aspirational quality about them since they are perceived as being rare and exquisite. They are considered to be the privilege of a few unlike gold,” says Chandrika Rao, who believes that diamonds are unmatched by any other precious gem and are a better buy than plain gold jewellery.

Jewellery: Sitaram Jewels

INVEST OR INDULGE? Although traditionally jewellery has been looked upon an asset for investment which can be liquidated during a time of need, it is imperative to seek the relevance of this practice today. Is jewellery still bought keeping in mind that it is a solid and almost risk-proof investment? Would you ever melt a piece of antique jewellery that has been passed on from one generation to another in return for cash? Or is its role limited to being an ornament – something that looks

and feels good? “Consumers today look at buying jewellery mostly for pleasure purposes. At least in most urban cities, it’s extremely rare to find someone walking into a store and trading jewellery for cash, that’s a thing of the yesteryears” says Ashok. Echoing his thoughts is soon-to-be married Sulekha Sridhar who says, “I’d rather have a few pieces of jewellery that I will wear and use regularly than be gifted gold bars or coins that will have to stowed away in a bank locker. In case of investment options, as

consumers we have been spoilt for choice by the varied options available. I’m content with some diamonds for the sake of diamonds and nothing more,” she chuckles. Going by this shift in trend, it seems that jewellery has gone back to being what it was meant to be when it originated – a form of adornment, a symbol of wealth and power. And diamonds, to say the least, fulfill these expectations! As Shirley Bassey famously crooned, diamonds are forever, sparkling round my little finger. September 2010 TAXI 23


Jewellery: Sitaram Jewels

All diamonds are rare and no two diamonds are alike. A diamond’s quality and rarity is determined by its unique combination of characteristics of Colour, Cut, Clarity and Carat Weight. The International Diamond Grading System, used around the world, is based on the Four Cs. CARAT: Diamonds are weighed in metric carats. Two carats weight about the same as a small paper clip. A carat is divided into 100 “points”, so a diamond of 50 points weighs 0.50 carats. CLARITY: Nearly all diamonds contain unique clarity characteristics. Flawless diamonds are exceptional and costly. Most inclusions are invisible unless magnified. COLOUR: Col or less diamonds are extremely uncommon. Most diamonds have a slight yellow or brown tint. Letters are used to represent colours, beginning with D (colourless) and ending at Z (light yellow or brown). “Fancy coloured diamonds” come in every colour imaginable, are also very unusual and have their own colour grading system. CUT: While diamonds come in different shapes, such as round, pear or marquise, the term “cut” refers to proportion. The well-cut, balanced diamond has unbridled brilliance, sparkle and fire. Get an independent diamond grading report. A diamond grading report tells you the exact gemological quality of your diamond. Is it a natural diamond? Is it a synthetic diamond? Has it been treated and how? What are its quality ratings according to the Four Cs? Source: Gemological Institute of America

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Movie The

Magic

by Nikhil Moturi

A

s I walked into The Spring hotel to indulge in “The Movies”, their theme restaurant, I thought to myself - here’s another themed restaurant, which will serve badly garnished food and dishes named after movie stars. In the next one hour, I realized how wrong I was. My order began with Chicken Schnitzel, a very popular German dish whose origin can be traced back to Austria. The chicken is fried, coated with breadcrumbs and is usually served with French Fries or Mashed Potatoes. When the Chicken Schnitzel came in, I was delighted to see the meat lean and tender, the breadcrumbs neatly fried without huge lumps clinging to it and coated mildly with salt and pepper, lending the dish an exquisite taste. Second on the menu was the pairing of squid and scallops. When I saw the dish land on my table, my night of surprises just grew. The squid was pan fried, served without any accompaniments and lightly sprayed with hints of pepper, salt and perhaps lime. I was engulfed by the lightness of the dish. This was the first restaurant in Chennai which did not serve leathery textured squid, as opposed to other restaurants. I checked with the chef, and he mentioned that the key to making good squid is not in the sauces or serving them as deep fried calamari; it is in the time taken to cook it at the right temperature which makes it an autograph dish. Moving on to scallops, one of the best scallop dishes I have tasted is the Scallop Scampi, an Italian dish loaded with butter and heavy cream, a pinch of garlic nourished

26 TAXI September 2010


with pasta and toppings of your choice. The Chinese-American cuisine came up with a scallop dish laden with mayonnaise and walnuts and aptly named it Heavenly Scallops. The scallops I had at Movies were pan fried and coated similar to the squid. It was simple and elegant and not laden with our Indian masala or rich creams. For the grand finale, I had lamb shanks placed in front of me, which turned out to be one of the best lamb dishes I have had so far. The dish was paired with boiled vegetables and mashed potatoes.

Photography - Ashok Raj C.U

All in all, here is what I noticed with the food at The Movies Manuel, the General Manager of the hotel, who doubles as a chef, and whose culinary tales span a few continents, has spent the time in creating and training his people to understand the nuances of food. The restaurant enjoys the patronage of a few expats who prefer the straightforwardness of the food offered. It just shows that European food is not bland and dry as we tend to portray it, it is just another cuisine which prefers to retain its primary flavors without complications. Humble pie is what I should have had for dessert, but their Tiramisu won out in the end. To end the night, I had to stop eating and walk away from this restaurant, bearing in mind just one thought - never have any pre-conceived notions.

September 2010 TAXI 27


A

Q

F K

T D Lighting

Young Minds S C by Lajju Nanwani

W

hat makes a nation? It’s people. And what makes a man? His work. What makes his work? Education. With interesting approaches to education, and a passion for improvement, here are some of the NGOS’s that are improving the lives of India’s core- its children. At the root of every success story lies an education of any form. NGOs of various kinds are fighting this battle of educating the underprivileged and other children across the country who do not have access to it. Poongkothai Chandrahasan and Taruna Shah, are the founders of one such NGO - Asthtva. Chandrahasan’s career started in

30 TAXI September 2010

documentary filmmaking, where she made international documentaries on child labour. She then started to work with several NGOs, which led to the creation of Asthtva.

M L

Every single paisa goes to the children, as Poongkothai believes in making everything accountable. Asthtva believes in ‘facilitating’ education and not just paying for the tangible necessities of school going children. They aim at using a holistic approach, and cater to every single need of a child during their learning process. Asthtva is funded by likeminded individuals who have the willingness to sponsor these children. They have a facebook page setup for such donations, and have raised a considerable amount since 2008, when they first founded Asthtva.

Another NGO that takes a different approach to combat literacy is Smile Foundation. This NGO gained popularity after an Academy Award winning documentary Smile Pinki. Smile Foundation has always believed in being ‘proactively’ involved in educating and empowering the underprivileged of our country. Formed in the year 2002 by a group of young corporate professionals with a philanthropic bent of mind, Smile Foundation finds innovative solutions to social issues in alignment with the business needs of companies. They also collaborate with individuals with the same wave length across the globe.

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Y

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U

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A

They have several programmes for healthcare improvement, women empowerment, civic driven change and social entrepreneurship. They have also started AFC (Action for Children), which involves privileged citizens, civil society groups and various institutions including corporates in the development process. The programme is being implemented in three developing economies of the world namely Brazil, South Africa and India.

X

B

Tarang is a Mumbai based NGO, which was formed with an objective to educate each and every child on this planet. They are planning to take different projects in and around Mumbai to start with. They are working on projects like impacting results in night school, sponsoring children studies who cannot afford to go to school, inspiring children to attend school, providing them with different facilities that would aid them in completing their academic studies and make them self reliant.

Tarang’s vision is to empower and make people realize their self worth. Their teaching faculty, a dedicated lot, makes a meaningful difference in every child’s life and its curriculum helps connect education to livelihood. Through education, Tarang provides care, support and independence and inculcates a sense of purpose. Unlike many other NGOs, Tarang is an education enabler. With strong values of integrity and commitment, Tarang brings joy to everyone’s life.

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Tarang is committed to a prosperous India and they claim that it can be accomplished when each and every child in India is educated.

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FRIGHTENING FACTS

N

Less than half of India’s children between the age 6 and 14 go to school

A little over one-third of all children who enroll in grade one reach grade eight

At least 35 million children aged betwen 6 and 14 do not attend school.

53% of girls in the age group of 5 and 9 are illiterate

More than 50 per cent of girls fail to enroll in school; those that do are likely to drop out by the age of 12

50% of Indian children aged between 6 and 18 do not go to school

H

Source: 7th All India Education Survey, 2002

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&

Creations What I could very easily do on this one is start a verbal diarrhoea, an exercised rant and paint a disturbing picture about fairness creams, their multiple impacts, physically, morally and ideologically. In an age of consumerism, it is perhaps wrong to think like this. To what sensibilities will it appeal to? Here are a few minds thinking about the intangible implications of promoting outdated and racist beliefs that are a core part of mainstream media. It angers me but I have now gathered the strong weapon of detachment. To see everything from the third person’s perspective gives me both 34 TAXI September 2010

Connotations

clarity and the power to speak without subjectivity. What really makes this creation tick? Thanks to some of the most creative minds in the country, beauty/ fairness creams, have ceased to be mere consumer products. They symbolise success, hope, transformation and in essence a one way ticket to rise from failure. In fact, they also encompass every aspect of India; a brilliant marketing strategy, I must admit. A girl from the urban who seeks to become a star, one from rural who is rejected in an alliance and the metrosexual man who believes that he needs to be fair in order to

by Niharika M

get the desired attention. Which other product has really captured the mind set of all these, without gender and region biases? It breaks most stereotypes of barriers existing between the rural and urban showing a common need. Now, most ad film makers will add to this diplomatically and rather truthfully say that they are only representing what is already in existence and perhaps even bridging gaps by demonstrating a common thread! What concerns me more is not the result of these (which are quite fruitless anyway) but why people resort to them in the first place, apart from being conned by ads.


Fairness has always been an epitomic beauty standard which is why phrases such as- Dark is beautiful have been coined as a counter. White skin means power, a hold and a certain superiority that you can flaunt. This we have seen in the imperial histories of our own and other contexts as well. As much as we may detest it and try to subvert, it is reality and one that persists. Therefore, when you delve into the collective psyche, and combine both, what you have is a united population hungry not for the fairness cream per say but a promise that will change the dark truths of their life- almost like revenge And it is this reality that translates into the media- exploitation without doubt. It exploits vulnerability, reiterating tainted beliefs and in a way also toying with the

thought process, deteriorating the possibility of a subversive process. Does this make the media our modern colonial masters?! I would refrain from going that far, but I wonder if intangible violence is any different. Social education is obviously a standard that the media needs to aspire to. When a girl child is born, the first matter of discussion is her complexion. In a relationship, if the girl is darker than the boy, then he holds the supreme position of a real man who saw beyond her looks. The connotations of the colours- white and black are stark contrasts and stand as metaphors in various contexts. There is something almost unnerving about darkness. Even though I have promised detachment, I can’t help but think how a slight tan is enough to get my relatives to click

their tongue. Time and again, my mother tells me about her anxious nights hoping for a fair child. It is not that the she would love her child any less, but she was trying to protect her from social bias and make life less complicated. It is almost always the gaze that determines your beauty. It is always the other, who decides for you. After all, whom do we want to look beautiful for? Is beauty personal or social or perhaps cultural? The day we stand in front of a mirror and answer these questions, we will probably find a starting point that could be, at the least possible level, an attempt. P.S- As for the tanning creams and the entire hullabaloo around it, what can I say? The other side of the grass is always green. September 2010 TAXI 35


Stilleto

MONEY by Vijetha Rangabashyam

I

was visiting a friend and I was amused at what seemed like a mild squabble that she and her mother had over breakfast. “They at last found a suitor for Niranjana”, her mother said. “Don’t start amma!”, my friend cried. “Wait!”, her mother interrupted. “She refused to meet the boy anyway”, she admitted rather reluctantly. Though our curiosity was mounting as to why Niranjana declined the “suitor”, my friend and I weren’t really surprised. “Apparently the boy earns a few bucks lesser than her”, she continued. My friend wearing a “fair enough” look on her face, said, “I’d do the same. There’s nothing wrong in expecting the guy to earn a bit more! Living comfortably is not a luxury anymore, it is a necessity”, she burbled strongly. Placating herself from a spurt of anger that gently tickled her face, her mother walked out of the room. Just like my friend here, today, women by and large are scourged by a warped sense of feminism that has been journeying along with great financial independence. It’s

36 TAXI September 2010

heavily ironic yet there is no refuting that Indian women have been pushing their limits that incarcerate them, to achieve this financial independence. The soul act of working and earning money, which they can claim as their own, is altering the power equation in the society as a whole. There may be no angry, bell-bottom-wearing women torching their lingerie, however, we do have a silent rebellion unfurling. The power that has gotten off the port through the sea called money; money made by women, money banked by women and money spent by women. Niranjana graduated from one of India’s finest B Schools. She is now an I-banker who earns a seven figure salary. She zips through the roads in her Skoda and orders sushi for lunch. The red in her Jimmychoo and the Dior engraved on the convex of her sunglasses scream a minimum of thirty thousand rupees. So, it got me thinking – what does money mean to Niranjana or the thousand something women who may even make a figure lesser than her? What


is the value for a “female” rupee? How and on what is she prone to spend it on? Does she want to buy personal care products? Or does she want to indulge in The Body Shop products too? Do we have a Body Shop generation in the offing? And how does it make a difference to the opulent brands in the market? There was a generation that received “convent” education and went to some of the finest women’s colleges to pursue their degrees, which was soon followed by years of homemaking and quiescence as an aftermath of them being married. The scenario has wildly changed with women wanting to make something of their education. And the grounds are strong to believe that this development will prolong with aspects such as quality education, a pool of job prospects, the birth of innovative industries and of course the sheer increase of their willingness to not just work but perform. Reports reveal that working women aren’t just big spenders but big savers too. An interesting study reveals that increasingly, home loan and educational loan EMIs taken by working women are on the rise. Aside spending on clothes, accessories, leisure and entertainment they invest heavily on properties, gold and diamond. There is also a fundamental difference in attitude and behavioral patterns between the working and nonworking women. Working women are the planners, the decision makers

and the risk takers. Holidaying is not restricted to visiting relatives anymore for these women. They like to unwind at exotic travel destinations and pamper themselves with cocktails and spa treatments. They are twice as likely to be health conscious than the homemakers. Pilates, power yoga, omega 6 and negative calories. You get the idea. And what effect do these women have on luxury retail brands? Start painting the picture and you’ll soon find a gamut of women who have the income and the mindset to lead an extravagant life. They will be the apple of the eye for several luxury brands and create a sizeable market for the same. The comportment of this market would be vastly different from the pea sized group of women who also have the means to spend on these high end brands. In its place, this emergent generation of women will consistently yet judicially spend on luxury brands. They will carry Burberry bags, marinate in Chanel perfumes, shine on Lancôme cosmetics, slip into Versace gowns and trot around in Louis Vuitton shoes. The superwoman power can be best captured in the developed economies like the U.S. The Newsweek recently established a report stating that in 35% of the two-income households in the US, wives make more than their husbands. As with Indian women, it might take more than a few decades to get there, but the good news is, the foundation has already been laid.

September 2010 TAXI 37


Vijay Shanthi’s

by Tirupura Sundari Rightly named as - ‘The Art’, the project derives its theme from the cubist paintings of the legendary Pablo Picasso. It is a high-end super luxury lifestyle apartment complex promoted by Vijay Shanthi Builders-an eminent name in the construction frontier. Situated on Kothari Road, Nungambakkam, ‘The Art’ has been constructed by Mumbai-based architects, BNK Associates. THE APPEALING APARTMENT BLOCKS In cubist works, objects are broken up, analyzed, and re-assembled in an abstract form—instead of depicting objects from one viewpoint, the artist depicts the subject from a multitude of viewpoints to represent the subject in a greater context. The apartment complex has 21- four bedroom villa apartments in three blocks, each with silt plus seven floors provided with three- 15 passenger lifts per block( one per apartment unit) apart from which a separate service lift and service staircase is provided for each apartment. Exterior wall will be done with 2 Coats of external emulsion paint and texture paint. A grand artistic staircase acts as a sculptural element enhancing the charisma of the apartment block elevation. A common lobby is provided at each floor level. Provisions for the parking of six cars are provided for each apartment block. For safety and securitybiometric security systems are used in the apartment complex. Security room is provided at the entrance; Access card system is followed and video phones are connected to the security cabins. 38 TAXI September 2010


THE LAVISH LIVING UNITS AND THE IMPECCABLE INTERIORS In cubism often the surfaces intersect at seemingly random angles, removing a coherent sense of depth. The background and object planes interpenetrate

one another to create the shallow ambiguous space, which is one of cubism’s distinct characteristics, which is well incorporated in the spatial planning of the ground floor with recreational spaces rooting out from each other in random angles. Whereas the

apartment units have a grand yet streamlined planning, bearing comfortable living in mind. The focal point of the apartment becomes the glass courtyard emphasized by a statue, visible from the entrance foyer which has a dry garden. The marble floor

Photography - Ashok Raj C.U September 2010 TAXI 39


of the foyer in every flat will be engraved with a peacock, studded with precious stones which render a unique sophisticated look. The living areas branch out on either side of the entrance foyer, with the master bedroom, kitchen, family room/dinning , utility ,and a bedroom on one side and the formal living, pooja room and remaining bedrooms on the other side . With ample number of sit outs and decks, the design establishes a connection between the interior and the exterior. The modular kitchens assemble and the bathroom fitting are provided

elegant atmosphere for living. And the distinctive concept and design strategy used in the planning and detailing of this complex proves that an imaginative approach can make all the difference to an apartment complex.

40 TAXI September 2010

by the builder. Interior walls will be finished with POP and 2 coats of Luster paint. The fittings, fixtures, electrical switches and tiles are of high quality and all the flats will have 3 phase connection with independent meters with 100% power back up including for A/c. Adequate electrical points, television/television points and internet connections will be provided in all rooms. COMMON AMENITIES The pathways and walkways connecting each apartment block and other open areas are

to be aesthetically landscaped. The common amenities include swimming pool, a gymnasium, yoga /aerobics room, massage room, steam room, sauna room, billiard room, playing cards room /bar, mini theater, lounge / Party hall, and dance floor in the basement and a swimming pool, gazebo, golf putting on the Ground floor. RO treatment plant and a water softening plant are also installed. The apartment complex is unique, opulent and has a distinct theme and style which as a whole encompasses a sleek, sophisticated,


Pilates

Power up with

INITIATION TO PILATES MAT REPERTOIRE Now that you know what Pilates is and the benefits you can derive its time you started your foray into this fabulous exercise form. Like with all exercises, you begin with a warm up and progress to the main exercises in the Mat format. It is important that you set your body up for Pilates practice by doing the following: QQ Engage the Core – pull your navel into your spine and engage the deep abdominal muscles (Transverse abdominals)

by Anupama Gopal

Fitness Trainer, Consultant and Presenter Reebok, AFAA, PIA Master Trainer Pilates Institute of America Consultant, Prime Fit

What this means is – you have to drive your body through your mind. The repetitions are not many, since quality of movement takes precedence over quantity. Let us review some exercises for the warm up. The purpose of the warm up is to reinforce and practice all of the Pilates principles while aligning your body to the correct posture.

1. ALTERNATING LEG RAISES

Lie with your back on the mat, knees bent and feet on the floor. Inhale and prepare. As you exhale engage the core and float your right leg up, knee over your hip. Inhale and stay. Exhale, float your left leg up, alongside your right leg. Inhale and stay. Exhale, lower your right leg to start position. Inhale and stay. Exhale, float your left leg to start position. Repeat 3 times.

QQ Breathe into chest space, by distending your rib cage sideways QQ Lengthen through your spine QQ Have your pulled down

shoulders

It is important that you maintain this throughout the session. With certain positions or movements, these guidelines tend to get compromised, therefore it is important that you regain proper form before you progress. The underlying principles Pilates practice are QQ v

42 TAXI September 2010

of

2. HIP ROLLS Lie with your back on the mat, knees bent and feet on the floor. Inhale to prepare. As you exhale, start from your low back, and peel your spine off the mat one vertebrae at a time, until only your shoulder blade upwards rests on the mat. Inhale stay. Exhale, lower one vertebrae at a time, until you come back to start position. Repeat 3 times. This exercise teaches you spinal articulation.


3. ELEVATION AND DEPRESSION OF SCAPULA (SHOULDER BLADES) Lie with your back on the mat, knees bent and feet on the floor, arms resting on the mat. Inhale and float your shoulders to your ears. Exhale, pull shoulders away from your ears. Repeat 3 times.

4. CAT STRETCH Kneel on all fours with hands beneath your shoulders, and knees beneath your hips. Engage your core and lengthen your spine. Inhale and prepare. Exhale, flex your spine, creating a C curve. Imagine you are bringing your head into your pelvis. Inhale, lengthen your spine to start position. Repeat 5 times.

The initial weeks of Pilates practice could be challenging in more than one way. But if you stay committed and persevere, you will soon begin to enjoy this exercise form and start experiencing the benefits.

September 2010 TAXI 43

Photography - Ashok Raj C.U

The entire warm up sequence, places a different challenge on the Core strength. It also creates different movements on the spine, which helps to improve spinal health. Therefore it is imperative to constantly stay aware of the Core connection and focus on muscle engagement when it is lost.


OVS in Chennai Anjani Kasliwal, Director, Brandhouse Oviesse Ltd, proudly launched Italian ‘fast fashion’ brand ‘OVS Industry’ at Express Avenue Mall this month. The grandeur of the launch spoke of the brand’s magnificence in the international front. It’s entry into the Indian market marks a major milestone in the Indian fashion retail industry, especially in the ‘fast fashion’ scenario.

Poetic Art Vinnyasa Premier Art Gallery witnessed the inauguration of an art exhibition, Transitory Imagery, Ephemeral Spirit by Sanjay Kumar. Art connoisseurs of Chennai were wafted by the beauty of the paintings along with some wine and cheese. The exhibition was hosted by Media Mix.

44 TAXI September 2010


Happening Hairdos Le Royal Meridien Chennai had invited special guests for cocktails & brunch event to display Le Mirage hair and fashion tips by Italian hair stylist Tommaso & hair colorist Mindy Kim of Cotril professionals. The team along with designer Satkrit Krishna also presented an interactive session on hair styling and fashion. This events was organised by Media Mix.

Embracing Aisha Aisha collection was launched by Chennai Diamonds at the premiere of the movie ‘Aisha’ in PVR Cinemas. Models ramped to showcase the collection to the audience who were present at the occasion. The models sported exquisite pieces of diamond jewellery, which ranged from bangles to décor watches. Followed by a stunning jewellery ramp show, the audience moved on to watch the premiere of the movie Aisha.

September 2010 TAXI 45


Mark your dates Wine and Dine

Theater, Art and Shopping PRESENT IN THE PAST, FORUM ART GALLERY, UP TO SEPTEMBER 15 Forum Art Gallery in association with Taj Mount Road presents Present in the Past, the coming together of art, music and humor, all three genres that take the cue from one another to enhance and celebrate how the city of the past and present impacts on the art forms, each with its unique dialogue and inference. FASHION YATRA, TAJ COROMANDEL, 21 SEPTEMBER

LOVE ON THE BRINK, SRI MUTHA VENKATASUBHA RAO CONCERT HALL, SEPTEMBER 24 & 25 A wickedly satirical and brilliantly comic story about three people who meet unexpectedly one dark night at the edge of the sea front. Love on the Brink is directed by Lillete Dubey.

Music and Dance DISNEY’S BEAUTY & THE BEAST MUSICAL, GOVERNMENT MUSEUM, SEPTEMBER 3

Fashion Yatra, a massive lifestyle retail exhibition is coming to Chennai on the 21st September 2010 at Hotel Taj Coromandel from 11am to 8pm. In its 5th year, Fashion Yatra has now become a tradition .The categories on display are broadly categorised into the best of Fashion, Accessories, Jewelry and Home.

To a weekend of drama, pumpkins, fairy godmothers, a beast, soulful music, a glass shoe and above all, magic! For the first time ever, two musicals back to back over one weekend. Nicholas Productions’ presents a fairytale weekend with Disney’s Beauty & the Beast.

SUNDAY BRUNCH, CHOLA SHERATON, SEPTEMBER 5

30 DAYS IN SEPTEMBER, SRI MUTHA VENKATASUBHA RAO CONCERT HALL, SEPTEMBER 24 &25

Shanghai Club offers Sunday brunch, a multi-cuisine buffet including 8 non vegetarian dishes, 7 vegetarian dishes, dim sums, domestic beer, wine, fresh juice, live counter pasta, salads, ten varieties of cakes and desserts.

A tale of the breaking of barriers between a stricken daughter and a silently suffering mother and one that impressively addresses the issue of child sex abuse. Produced by Mahesh Dattani and directed by Lillete Dubey.

A unique musical evening with classical vocalist Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty and playback singers Javed Ali, Mahalakshmi Iyer and Shruti Jauhari.

TRATTORIA LUNCH BUFFET, ITALIA, UP TO SEPTEMBER 3 Enjoy the Trattoria lunch spread, which is inclusive of salads, soups, desserts and main courses.

RAAG ROOP AUR RANG, MUSIC ACADEMY, SEPTEMBER 3

TOP 10 CUISINES, RADISSON GRT HOTEL, UP TO SEPTEMBER 23 Garden Cafe offers the most exquisite delicacies - The Top 10, tastiest cuisines in the world for a lunch buffet, featuring cuisines from France, Mexico, Italy, Greece, Thailand, Spain, China, Japan, Middle East, and India. Corrigendum: The photograph of Chennai Central used in the article “From filter to instant” in our August issue was sourced from Wikipedia

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SPEAKER LAPDESK N700 | LOGITECH

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With the Speaker Lapdesk N700, Logitech tries to fix two major woes of a laptop user, the first being “it gets too hot!” and the second being “the speakers are lousy!”. Laptop cooling pads have always been the traditional solution to the heating problem, but the addition of speakers to the cooling pad is a refreshing thought. With no software to install, the Lapdesk is easy to use – just plug it into a USB port and you’re good to go. A built-in fan quietly does its job of keeping both your lap and laptop cool. The speakers feature 2 inch drivers and sound remarkably good, albeit a bit tinny at higher volumes. Priced at Rs.5000 (approx).

VX2739WM MONITOR | VIEWSONIC Just when you thought 24 inches were good enough. Touted as the world’s first 27” 1ms monitor, the ViewSonic VX2739WM is a super-affordable LCD aimed at gamers who need to see their opponents getting blown up into 1,920 x 1,080 tiny little bits. Although the 1ms response time may be more of a gimmick than an actual improvement, the image quality is top-notch with good detail and accurate colours. It has plenty of connectivity options including 4 USB ports, HDMI, dual-link DVI with HDCP support and D-sub. You’ll also find a pair of speakers, but they’re better off never used. Priced at Rs.25,000 (approx.).

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PORTEGE R700 | TOSHIBA Netbooks are for wussies. If you’re on the lookout for a thin, light laptop that can still churn out decent performance, this matte black 1.3 Kg baby from the Toshiba Portege series should be at the top of your list. This magnesium encased laptop feels solid, and Toshiba says that it has a Honeycomb Rib structure to prevent shock damage. The 13.3” backlit display is nice and bright with a resolution of 1,366x768 pixels. Unlike most laptops where the screen can be used as a shaving mirror, this screen thankfully doesn’t reflect as much. Packed to the brim, the R700 has an integrated DVD drive, up to 8 Gigs of DDR3 SDRAM and a power packed processor. You can choose from the Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 versions depending on your processing needs. Priced from Rs.65,000 – 75,000.

DROID X | MOTOROLA This is the Droid you’ve been looking for. The Motorola Droid X may not be from the same assembly line as R2-D2 or C-3PO, but it sure does them justice. Oozing testosterone, this monster of a smart phone features a 1Ghz processor, 4.3” touch screen, 24GB storage, 8-megapixel camera, 720p HD video, HDMI out, three microphones for noise cancellation, wireless N, 3G hotspot powers and a light saber. Ok, maybe not the light saber. As you’d expect, the phone’s functions and apps run on Android 2.1. The large screen makes it a joy to read web pages, and the battery life is reported to be 8 hours. This may not be the iPhone killer, but it’s a must try for those of you who haven’t jumped onto the fruity bandwagon as yet. Price: TBA

EPRINT | HP How many times have you found yourself at a client’s office needing to print out something? Even if you’re hooked up to the network, you’ll still need to install the printer drivers. Well, that’s soon going to be a thing of the past with HP adding the new ePrint feature on its entire range of printers, except for a few budget models. The concept is simple – every printer has a unique email address. Send an email from any internet enabled device with your documents or pictures and the printer takes care of the rest. No drivers required, since all that nasty business is taken care of on the HP web services cloud. To keep out spam, the printers can be configured to accept requests from a restricted set of email addresses – the last thing you want to see on print is all those Viagra prescriptions.

September 2010 TAXI 49


Movies ORPHAN Evil comes in different shapes and sizes, sometimes bottled up in an apparently perfect human being. The word orphan is usually associated with a caring and lonely child whose parents left or died, looking to be adopted by a couple with enough love to share. But the nature of men goes much deeper under the skin, where dark secrets sometimes await the right time to come forward. “Orphan” is not scary, but shockingly unnerving, playing with your emotions while putting you in a distrustful position that defies your creative sense of self-preservation. “Orphan” deals with inner struggles and the power of trust that exists inside a family, taking turns between good and evil, innocence and fear. Isabelle Fuhrman is a great young actress who gives weight to a disturbed character that will drive you nuts and make you wonder whether you’re making the right choices of friends based on appearance and good behavior.

CATS AND DOGS The scenario is as follows: cats and dogs are waging a high-tech covert espionage war against each other for the dubious distinction of being human beings’ favourite pet. The crux of the plot revolves around the attempts of the cats, lead by the heinous Mr Tinkles, to scupper scientist Jeff Goldblum’s endeavours to find a cure for allergic reactions to dogs. If he succeeds, then the dogs will only consolidate their position as - certainly as far as the filmmakers are concerned - the pet of choice for the discerning human being. The message of ‘Cats and Dogs’ is a very simple one: dogs are great, and cats are evil. This in itself is questionable, but the biggest disappointment stems from the feeling that a glorious opportunity has been criminally wasted. Kids might like it, although that’s by no means a certainty, but adults will probably find it difficult to warm to. Let’s just hope the brothers Coen know something we don’t.

DINNER FOR SHMUCKS Even though the new comedy “Dinner for Schmucks” is based on a positively rude French farce, director Jay Roach plays this American remake pretty safe. In fact, the tone never quite seems right—and this movie never quite finds its footing before it’s supposed to go off the rails. The setup is mean-spirited for sure, with corporate climber Paul Rudd inviting a clueless Steve Carell to a ‘dinner for idiots,’ where all the smarmy rich people laugh at unsuspecting weirdos just for fun. But just as soon as all of its characters are introduced, the movie saddles some great comic talent in a lame sitcom plot with a feel-good lesson that’s about as obvious as it is inappropriate. Despite bad material and an awkwardly muted tone, Carell and Zach Galifianakis manage to squeeze out some pretty funny performances, so all is not lost. It’s just too bad that this American version is so toothless and cloying.

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Books THE REHEARSAL – ELEANOR CATTON Eleanor Catton’s debut, The Rehearsal, is a pulsating novel that plays with the readers’ mind, both in terms of content and form. Through entwined, nonlinear narratives, it tells the story of a high school sex scandal and the first year students at a local drama institute who appropriate the tale for their year-end production. By connecting these two storylines, Catton has infused reality and fiction together magnificently. Catton focuses on the tricky age group - girls in their teens, lurching their way to womanhood. Gradually they are introduced to a world where one’s own self often feels like a stranger; thus, they try on different skins, learning to live with confidence.

Courtesy: Full Circle at Chamiers

At the novel’s capricious pinnacle - a music recital, Catton projects her fundamental theory like a fishing rod tied to a heavy rock: “It’s in her best interests to slip up now, while she’s still safe in the Green Room” So speaks the ascetic saxophone teacher who throughout the novel provokes her students with stabbing questions, trapping them with the music of jazz, the ideal soundtrack for this novel of evolving adolescence. Intrepid and verdant, The Rehearsal proves a most beguiling read.

Music Albums

IRON MAIDEN - THE FINAL FRONTIER

In The Final Frontier, the band has shamelessly stuck to their newer style. They have retained their heavy metal sound, but their musical approach has undergone grand changes since the return of Dickinson and Smith. For those who dislike these changes, this is not an album for you. The album introduction, “Satellite 15,” was very interesting and new to the Maiden collection. Having that alongside “El Dorado” was poor arrangement; two big-rock endings together is usually a bad idea. Some songs are somewhat forgettable, but there are a few excellent tunes such as, “Coming Home,” “Isle of Avalon,” “The Talisman,” and “When the Wind Blows”. But there is not a single song in this album that can live up to Iron Maiden masterpieces. M.I.A. - /\/\ /\ Y /\ It’s hard to tell whether /\/\/\Y/\ is half-assed or half-baked. There are certainly a number of good ideas in the mix here, but the execution is lacking. Tracks like “Story to Be Told”, “Lovealot”, and “Teqkilla” come across like mildly promising demos ready to be edited into sleeker, stronger compositions. Most of the songs are built out of digital clangs and electronic noise and this cacophony doesn’t signify much of anything, aside from perhaps a desire to seem confrontational and daring. It’s almost like she’s shrinking from her chance to engage with a mainstream audience, and refusing to live up to her potential as a pop artist. One hopes that /\/\/\Y/\ is just a detour, something she had to get out of her system before getting back on track.

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Soul Tarot Srini Aries, March 21– April 20

Libra, September 23 – October 23

Your perception and insight will be keen

For a free-floating air sign, rules can be a

and you will get straight to the heart of any

downer, but this is a month when they

situation. But do not let your zealousness for

will have to be followed and authority has

the truth will alienate your social circle. Tread

to be respected. You will benefit from this

gently and softly says, the Queen of Swords.

restriction in times to come says, the Emperor.

Taurus, April 21 – May 21

Scorpio, October 24 – November 22

You may be feeling as though your heart is

What is it that you are refusing to see and

being put through a thresher. Admittedly,

why? You know what an ostrich with its head

these are cloudy times, but the ensuing rain

in the sand has to lose, so get up and get going.

and thunder will bring clarity of vision and

Communicate, clear up misconceptions and

thought and make way for the rainbow, so

misunderstandings and start living says, the

cheer up says, the Three of Swords.

Two of Swords.

Gemini, May 22 – June 21 You have pipped everyone to the post and

Sagittarius, November December 21

23

you will be rightfully bursting with joy.

If you are too caught up in the humdrum of

Revel in the glory that is a hard win by your

daily living then this is the time to just put

dedication. However, don’t rest on your

everything aside and chill out. Delve into

laurels; make plans for the future too says, the

your subconscious and follow your dreams

Six of Wands.

but don’t let your feet float over your head says the Knight of Cups.

Cancer, June 22 – July 22 So many choices and how will you decide

Capricorn, January 20

December

22

on the most suitable one? Do not act in haste

A time when your personal brand of power

and repent in leisure. Let your actions be

is at its peak, so use this energy to bring all

grounded in reality and be true to yourself

your fond wishes to fruition be it personal

says, the Seven of Cups.

or professional. Your confidence levels will be high and the world will be your oyster says, the Magician.

Leo, July 23 – August 23

Aquarius, January 21 – February 18

Open your heart to the worldly pleasures

Stand up tall for your beliefs and quell

around you and see them through the

your fears. All obstacles will dwindle in the

guileless eyes of a child. The past is history,

face of your resolve. Victory will be yours

the future a mystery, and all you have is

eventually, so let your inner courage take

the present, which is a gift, so enjoy it to the

precedence and ignore the naysayers says,

fullest extent says, the Six of Cups.

the Seven of Wands.

Virgo, August 24 – September 22

Pisces, February 19 – March 20

You will need to buckle down and accept

Feel the fear and do it anyway. What are

responsibility. Teamwork and loyalty to your

you waiting for? Throw caution to the

cause will provide the desired results. Leave

winds and follow your dreams if you have

nothing to chance, keep your vision high,

to. Just make sure that the beliefs you are

and success will be yours says, the Knight of

standing up are worthwhile says, the Seven

Pentacles.

of Wands.

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