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Free Copy For Visa Applicants. Not For Sale.

Volume 2 | Issue 3 | June-August 2019 TM

Unusual Places for an Unique Experience in the United States Best Wine Regions to Explore Across the World Simple Tips to Ease Your Visa Application Experience

Relive the Game of Thrones


CEO Message

ENHANCE YOUR TRAVEL EXPERIENCE Dear customer, Welcome to VFS Global COMPASSTM, a complimentary magazine exclusively for VFS Global’s application centre customers. Foreign travel is on the rise like never before, with the UN World Tourism Organisation estimating that a whopping 1.4 billion people travel abroad annually and recording a growth of 6 per cent in international arrivals in 2018.

Zubin Karkaria CEO, VFS Global Group

I’m delighted to share with you that VFS Global has just processed its 200 millionth application – a milestone which reflects the trust and credibility we have built with governments and applicants across the world. In line with our steadfast commitment to service quality we were recently honoured with the prestigious Dubai Quality Global Award and became the only multinational company in the United Arab Emirates to receive a 5-star rating in the Emirates Business Rating Scheme. In this edition of COMPASSTM, our cover story will be of great interest to fans of the epic Game of Thrones series, who can relive the show by visiting the breath-taking locations in Northern Ireland where much of this popular series was shot. Read also about Slovakia, an emerging destination gaining popularity globally. In an interview, His Excellency Mr. Ivan Lančarič, the Ambassador of the Slovak Republic to India, shares some very interesting information about this European destination. You would also be interested in reading about the wide array of innovative VFS Global services designed to set you off to a comfortable start in your travel experience. From visa application at your doorstep to luxurious Premium Lounges to the convenience of walking-in to a centre without an appointment – these services have transformed the traditional visa application process for applicants. I hope you find this issue interesting and wish you an excellent travel experience – wherever you may be headed!

VFS Global has just processed its 200 millionth application Old Town Hall, Bratislava

June-Aug 2019 / 1

Volume 2 | Issue 3 | June-August 2019

Contents Pg 28

Pg 24

Pg 06

Pg 18

Guide to Visa Application

06 Five simple visa tips for a great start to your globetrotting 08 Mistakes to avoid in your visa application 10 Easy doorstep service for your visa application 12 Get answers to most of your visa processing-related queries with chatbot ViVA 16 Learn about the eVOA service introduced for Thailand

People & Places

28 His Excellency Mr. Ivan Lančarič, the Ambassador of the Slovak Republic to India, offers tips for travellers planning to visit Slovakia 48

Vidya Sagar Devabhaktuni, Founder and President of Indian NGO SKG Sangha speaks about the transformative power of biogas projects in rural India

Spotlight 18 The Northern Ireland you’ve GoT to see Your Game of Thrones guide for the picturesque spots in Northern Ireland

Leisure 22 Bollywood travel Check where your favourite stars are travelling this summer

Outdoor 24

Off-the-beaten USA Head to these unusual places for an unforgettable experience in the United States

Pg 40

Pg 22 Pg 47 Pg 32

Hotspot 30

Scintillating Slovakia This quaint and picturesque country offers several options to the traveller in you

Adventure 32

High on wine Travel through the vineyards of the world and experience the unexpected


34 L  et’s go to the Oscars These Oscar Winners are bound to steal your heart away


About VFS Global

36 72 hours in Nice Explore and soak in the spirit of Nice in style

46 Learn about technology-driven public services delivered by VFS Global for citizens


48 School-to-School Initiative with Goonj

40 London’s historic places Visit the iconic historic sites in London and make merry


52 VFS Global Network 54 Network of VFS Global Visa Application Centres in India

44 Best events across the world to make you plan ahead

June-Aug 2019 / 3

Volume 2 | Issue 3 | June-Aug 2019 TM

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CIN No U22229DL2006PTC152087 Compass magazine is printed and published by Prakash Johari on behalf of VFS Global and published at Maxposure Media Group (India) Pvt. Ltd. (MMGIPL), #TheAddress, Plot No. 62, Okhla Phase III, New Delhi-110020, India. Compass is published bi-monthly. All rights reserved. The writing, artwork and/or photography contained herein may not be used or reproduced without the express written permission of MMGIPL. MMGIPL does not assume responsibility for loss or damage of unsolicited products, manuscripts, photographs, artwork, transparencies or other materials. The views expressed in the magazine are not necessarily those of the publisher or VFS Global. All efforts have been made while compiling the content of this magazine, but we assume no responsibility for the effects arising there from. For inquiries | MMGIPL Tel: +91.11.43011111, www. TM


guide to visa application


5 simple visa tips for a

start to your globetrotting #BeatThePeak and ease your visa application experience


asking on the beach or trekking in the mountains? Whatever is in store for you this summer, visa application is a key aspect of any foreign vacation. An early start to this process could alleviate some

For example, UK Visas and Immigration aims to make a decision on your Priority Visa application within five working days from when you submit your biometric information.

of the anxiety sometimes associated with the application process.

Check the turnaround times for processing

Follow these tips to enhance your visa application experience and make it more convenient and hassle-free.

Each country has a different timeline for its visa processing, and these timelines are clearly mentioned on the countryspecific websites (accessed via www., providing you with the information required to apply for your visa well in advance. Be aware that during peak season visa processing can take longer than anticipated.

Be the early bird When planning your travels, always book flights and hotels in advance. Do the same for visas. Most countries accept visa applications up to 90 days before your date of travel. So don’t wait until the last minute.

For a stress-free experience, you can opt for the Assured Courier service to cover any loss or damage and receive guaranteed reimbursement* if your application is lost or damaged while in transit. This service is available at select Visa Application Centres.

Stay updated about visa status If you need your visa in a hurry, you can opt for Priority Visa Service (available for select countries) for your visit, work or study application depending on the Mission/Embassy. This will put your application at the front of the queue at every stage of the decision-making process in an Embassy.

Once your application is submitted, you can track its progress through VFS Global’s online tracking service. The status will be updated as and when your passport is ready for collection/delivery. Be aware that VFS Global cannot track your application during the assessment process within an Embassy or Consulate.

Appointments Some countries require applicants to schedule an appointment with the Visa Application Centre to submit an application. Once scheduled, we highly recommend being at the centre 15 minutes prior to the appointed time to avoid missing your slot.

DISCLAIMER *Some of the above mentioned services may not be offered in some countries, or for specific missions/embassies/consulates. To check if any of the above services are available in your country, or if they are offered for a specific embassy/consulate, or to book any of the above value-added services, visit the country-specific website via *Availing any of the above mentioned optional value-added services does not affect the processing time or decision of your visa. These remain the sole prerogative of the Embassy/Mission/Consulate. The services are charged in addition to the visa application fee.

Making a list, checking it twice A checklist of the documentation required for visa applications for each country served by VFS Global is available on our website. Be sure to carry all the requisite documentation to submit along with the duly filled application form. Check your passport’s validity. Many countries require a valid passport six months beyond your return date.

UK visa applicants can also opt for the new Check and Verify service. With this service, you can run your documentation past trained VFS Global professionals for independent authentication and have the verification report sent directly to UKVI. This service helps you get a higher degree of assurance about the documents/ information submitted while giving greater confidence to UKVI about the genuineness of the document. If you are facing issues with your visa application process, we are happy to help. Please drop us an email at and we will assist at the earliest.

If you need to travel urgently, or have missed your pre-booked appointment, or simply cannot book an appointment at your preferred date and time, Prime Time Appointment service allows you to book an appointment outside the normal working hours. Many Visa Application Centres have extended operating hours during peak season to allow you to visit before work and after work. Once at the Visa Application Centre, the exclusive opening hours allow you to beat the queues and process your visa application with ease. Please check with the Visa Application Centre if this service is suitable for your visa application.

*Locations where the Visa At Your Doorstep service is offered may vary, depending on the city or country where the service is offered. Please check with the VFS Global representative in your city or country for details.

June-Aug 2019 / 7

guide to visa application

5 mistakes to


in your visa application


s countless travellers make foreign travel plans this holiday season, numerous globetrotters lose that chance over a rejected visa, often due to mistakes in the visa application. With over 17 years of domain expertise in the visa space, VFS Global has witnessed numerous easily avoidable mistakes made by visa applicants. Given below are five of

the most common ones that you should be aware of so that you don’t miss out on visiting your preferred destination.

Match information in the form with official documents When filling in a visa application form, it is imperative that applicants include all the information requested, in the indicated format, as per their travel documentation. Incorrect details on the visa application form – such as the name or passport number or date of birth not appearing as it is in the passport, are common errors. While this might seem obvious, most people tend to write information that is inconsistent with their official documents or identity proof. If the individual has the first name and last name written in the reverse order in the official documents, writing it in any other way will lead to your visa getting issued with incorrect details.

Check the country-specific checklist A checklist acts as an effective tool when putting together a fool-proof application. One of the most common mistakes that applicants make is not referring to the checklist, or referring to a standardised checklist for visa applications, thus missing out on attaching essential documents during submission. It is important to remember that different countries have different documentation requirements. A destination-specific, customised list is readily available on the VFS Global information pages, enlisting all the documents required for a visa application to that particular country. Even a single missing document could render the application incomplete. Therefore, cross-check information that should be submitted with the country-specific checklist before applying for the visa.

Get your bank statements attested Select countries require applicants to submit their bank statements, duly attested. While it is common to submit bank statements, and most travellers are aware of this step, not having these bank statements attested is a common error. It is imperative to submit the attested bank statements to reflect your financial bandwidth for the travel, as well as your credit hygiene.

Cutting it too close to the date of travel Every country has a different turnaround time for processing a visa application, which in turn varies depending on the peak travel seasons. Often, travellers leave their visa applications to the last minute, leaving themselves very little time to meticulously follow the checklist and ensure every requirement is met. Most countries accept applications up to 90 days prior to the date of travel and applying for a visa well in advance allows enough time to deal with any unforeseen delays.

Ensure accurate sponsor details The sponsor details, where required, help officials understand the applicant’s support system in the country of travel, making these details crucial to the visa decision. Therefore, it is imperative to ensure we fill in the correct details in the sponsor section of the Visa Application Form and submit relevant sponsorship documents as per the requirements of the country of travel.

While these may seem like simple oversights, they can cost a traveller his/her visa. It is best to provide each and every piece of detail, as requested in the required formats with the proper documentation, to ensure a smooth and hassle-free visa application process. What is most imperative though is to start the visa application process well before the intended date of travel, to allow enough time for the visa process.

June-Aug 2019 / 9

guide to visa application


Application IS!


A step-by-step guide to the convenient option in visa application – the Visa At Your Doorstep Service

n today’s fast-paced world, where almost everything you seek is at your convenience and comfort, why should applying for a visa be any different? The need to receive services ‘at your doorstep’, irrespective of location or time, as a solution is now more keenly felt than ever.

Consider this - if you have an upcoming trip overseas, be it for business, leisure, education or any other reason, there are several mandatory requirements you need

to effectively meet even before your trip starts, like booking your flight tickets, deciding on which hotel to stay at as part of your itinerary, to name a few. The visit to the Visa Application Centre is also part of this process to submit the required documents sought by the country you wish to travel to, an integral part of the pre-travel checklist. Irrespective of whether you plan to travel on your own or as part of a bigger group, what if you have the option to avail all these

services at a location of your preference –like in the comfort of your home, office or any other location? VFS Global has the perfect solution for visa applicants looking for greater flexibility in visa application, with the innovative and pioneering doorstep visa service*. As the name suggests, this optional service is the ‘home delivery’ equivalent of visa services, ensuring the visa processing requirements are met in a highly secure environment. A

popular premium service, it meets the needs of a select set of travellers who would prefer personalised services at a location of their choice. The service also offers effective processing of group applications within reasonable time limits.

High Net-Worth Individuals (HNIs), government delegations, MICE groups and even large groups of families or friends who plan to travel together. With flexible pricing, depending on the group size, this service can in fact be more economical.

Once an applicant opts for this service, a professionally trained VFS Global staff member will visit your home or office, and securely enroll biometrics as part of the application submission process.

The revolutionary doorstep visa service** is of immense benefit to those who reside in cities away from the existing centres and spend time travelling to the nearest centre, which may be away from their base location.

The doorstep visa service is availed by companies with a large number of staff members who travel extensively, businessmen, film crews, student groups,

3 simple steps...


Call or Email us on the dedicated Visa At Your Doorstep helpline*. Provide your preferred date, time & location.

So, why worry about your next trip when you can get your visa processed, at your doorstep!

2 3 VFS Global’s team of experts will travel to the agreed location and collect the visa application and supporting documents.

Once a decision has been made by the Embassy or Consulate, the passport will be couriered back to the provided address.

How to avail Visa At Your Doorstep services • The customer submits the request for this service either online (by visiting the country specific website via www. OR by contacting the helpline number • Once the payment of the fee for the service is completed online, the customer will receive the update containing the confirmed appointment details • VFS Global staff will travel to the location specified by the customer at the appointed time, to accept the visa application and enrol the biometrics • Applicant is informed of the outcome via SMS and email once the decision has been made by the concerned Embassy or Consulate. • The applicant’s passport is securely couriered to the address provided at the time of submission. To book an appointment: (India) Call: +91 22 6786 6028 Email: (UAE) Call: +971 0420 55761 Email:

What folks said about Visa At Your Doorstep “Our entire team was looked after so well. Thank you.” Mohanlal, Film actor “I am a television personality and my work schedule tends to be quite busy. The Visa At Your Doorstep service was a great help in applying for my visa, as I was able to do so from a location of my choice in true comfort. The staff offered personalised service by assisting me with the entire process and were very efficient. It was a pleasant start to my travel!” Dhivya Dharshini, Television actress

Key benefits of Visa At Your Doorstep: • Visa services delivered to applicant’s home, office or location of choice • Personalised assistance for individuals or groups • Application and document checks • SMS & Email notifications • Safe courier-return of passport *Please note that this service is for application submissions only. Visa applications will continue to be evaluated and judged by the concerned diplomatic mission. **Available in select cities and only for certain Missions. Please visit for more

• Dedicated helpline number & email ID available for appointment bookings and assistance

details on the service and to schedule the appointment.

June-Aug 2019 / 11

guide to visa application

Say hello to the

Artificial intelligence assistant - ViVA

An online interaction with artificial intelligence-powered chatbot ViVA can get you answers to most of your visa processing related queries, seven days a week and 24 hours a day!


ollowing the success of the ViVA chatbot launched for Australia visa applicants in India, VFS Global brings its custom-created artificial intelligence assistant now to Bahrain. Since March 2019, ViVA provides 24/7 digital assistance for queries related to the Italy visa application process to applicants in Bahrain.

Connect with ViVA for: • • • •

Assistance after operational hours/ On weekends Appointment scheduling Fees and payment procedures Queries related to supporting

• •

documents and form filling Application status tracking and updates Providing service feedback

Besides being available for applicants at any time of the day or night, ViVA has multi-lingual capabilities and can converse with applicants in Arabic and English. Furthermore, applicants can benefit from voice enabled interactions instead of written chats. ViVA also registers customer feedback helping VFS Global to analyse the output and enhance the quality of the services further. Within the first two months, ViVA has already registered over 850 interactions with Italy visa applicants from Bahrain. ViVA can handle 10,000 enquiries per second for 24x7, or 864 million in a day, thus significantly reducing the turnaround time for applicant queries. Creating a real-time conversational experience for the end-user, ViVA has an accuracy rate of 88.90%.

guide to visa application

Experience the ultimate in

Convenience & personalisation

VFS Global’s Privilege Program provides applicants in the UAE and India with tailor-made packages to make the visa application process easier than ever before


hen planning a journey abroad, the multiple steps involved in making it a reality can be time-consuming, often leaving us with a sense of anxiety. Therefore, understanding the diverse requirements of travellers is a priority and the VFS Global Privilege Program* is designed to alleviate members from the shackles of worry when it comes to applying for a visa, and to assist them with pre-travel arrangements so that they put in minimal effort! Crafted to delight visa applicants in India and the UAE with a host of meaningful benefits and privileges, the VFS Global Privilege Program simplifies the overall visa application and travel experience.

Membership Programs in India: • • • • •

Gold Privilege Membership Silver Privilege Membership Gold Family Privilege Membership Student Privilege Membership Senior Citizens Privilege Membership

Membership Programs in the UAE: • Platinum Privilege Membership • Gold Privilege Membership • Silver Privilege Membership The membership programs fit the unique requirements of varied groups, while ensuring that convenience, personalisation and exclusivity are maintained as top priorities at all times.

Assistance is Just a Call Away In both India and the UAE, members have access to ‘Always On’ services, which are available for use any number of times during the entire period of the membership validity. A dedicated global Privilege Helpdesk number gives members information on the range of membership services available to them. Furthermore, members can request for guidance on documentation and visa-related queries, receive assistance with booking an appointment or receive help with any travelrelated queries they may have.

Sit Back and Relax During Your Visa Application When at the Visa Application Centre, members receive personalised attention

VFS Global Privilege Program is most popular among frequent flyers such as:

customer speak

Corporate Executives Families travelling together University students who travel during midterm breaks

I am so glad I opted for this program! The Relationship Managers were really very helpful. Rajesh, Silver Privilege Member

Sitting in the comfort of the luxurious lounge was great. The helpful staff assisted us with the entire procedure and we didn’t have to worry about a thing! Simran Silver Privilege Member

The VFS Global Privilege Program truly streamlines the submission processes, making it much smoother. This is an excellent service! Dinesh Krishnaswamy Gold Family Privilege Member

in the comfort of VFS Global’s world-class Premium Lounges from dedicated Relationship Managers, who personally assist them with the entire application process. Every aspect of the submission process from document checking and sorting to biometric enrolment (if required) is speedily managed by the experts, to ensure an enhanced customer experience.

One-Stop-Shop for Pre-Travel Requirements A host of other useful services such as Insurance, Forex cards, SIM cards and travel concierge services, among others, are available for added convenience to members. VFS Global has partnered with a range of organisations to offer members value deals from leading service providers. Additionally, complimentary services ranging from courier services, photocopying and printing to SMS status alerts, are offered to take care of a member’s every travel-related need all under one roof.

Doorstep Visa Services for Platinum & Gold Members in the UAE

This service is great! I came here with my two kids and we were very well taken care of. I would definitely recommend the Privilege Program to my friends and family! Benazir Nazar Gold Family Privilege Member

To enroll and for detailed information on the programs and applicability to your region, please visit You can also call 1800 266 9720 (India) / +971 4 205 5908 (UAE), or email us at or visit your trusted Travel Agent for more details.

Under the Platinum tier, members in the UAE can opt to submit their applications in the ultra-luxurious Platinum Lounge in Dubai or at a location of their own choice anywhere in the UAE. Gold members in the UAE also have the exclusive benefit of opting for VFS Global’s doorstep visa services. As the global citizen of today continues to gravitate towards quicker and simpler service options, VFS Global’s multidimensional approach to travel-care and travel facilitation caters to this evolutionary change. The VFS Global Privilege Program** envelopes the diverse needs of every kind of traveller to deliver greater peace of mind to its members before they set off on their journey.

*VFS Global Privilege Program services are currently available only in select countries and for select missions. ** Membership tiers and benefits vary as per the region.

June-Aug 2019 / 15

guide to visa application


eVisa on Arrival

It doesn’t get simpler than this – Get your Thailand eVisa on Arrival even before you travel to Thailand. Service brought to you by Immigration Bureau of Thailand and VFS Global Benefits of eVisa On Arrival • Pre-approved eVisa on Arrival between 24 hours & 72 hours after applying • Dedicated Immigration counters for faster clearance • Online submission of documents such as flight tickets and accommodation details • Simple online eVisa application process to be completed from the comfort of your home/office • Online payment for eVisa On Arrival fee

No More

Travel before 31 October 2019 and don’t pay visa fee

Get your Thailand eVisa on Arrival even before you travel to Thailand

Apply in 3 simple steps...

1 2 3

• Uncertainty of being granted Visa On Arrival • Waiting in long queues for Immigration clearance on arrival • Documentation such as flight tickets and accommodation details to be carried and verified at Immigration on arrival • Filing complicated visa application paper forms after a long flight • Thai Baht required on arrival to pay visa fee

Travelling to Thailand at short notice? Use Express eVisa On Arrival For your urgent or unplanned travel, apply for our Express Service and get your eVisa on Arrival within 24 hours. Get FREE access to the First and Business Class lanes for an even faster Immigration clearance*





What customers say Efficient, fast, and very prompt and courteous service.

Fill a simple online visa application form, upload documents & pay online

Get the eVisa On Arrival approval by email between 24-72 hours

Customer Excellent staff, immigration done very fast.

73 visits – first time took eVOA, in and out in 30 seconds. I think best experience ever I had out of all the countries I have visited.


Very fast and easy to use.

Great service! What usually takes over an hour was all done in 5 minutes. Customer delight. Keep it up.

Vijay S

Roshan S


Disclaimer: Terms and conditions apply. Service available at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Don Mueang International Airport, Phuket International Airport, Chiang Mai International Airport. *Service available only on arrival at Suvarnabhumi Airport.


The Northern Ireland you have

GoT to see!


Ardent followers of Game of Thrones would love to visit these Northern Ireland locations where most of the epic series was shot

eel-life winter has come and gone, but

Castle Ward

if you were an ardent follower of Game

Let’s begin with where it all started. Since the 16th century, the Ward family has called Castle Ward their home. But in the Seven Kingdoms, this sprawling property has another name – Winterfell, the ancestral home of House Stark. Here, you can practice archery in the same spot as Jon Snow, model some authentic Westeros attire and feast on a lavish medieval banquet inspired by the show.

of Thrones, the image of the Seven Kingdoms is bound to stay with you forever. Let’s face it, there are many things that make Westeros the perfect destination to add to your list. Visit Northern Ireland, home to the Seven Kingdoms, where the lush Riverlands lie side-by-side with the Iron Islands, the Dothraki Sea and Winterfell are neighbours and you never know when you might come face-to-face with

Travel a bit further to The Cuan

a direwolf.

Guesthouse and marvel at the Game of

Thrones-inspired door, depicting scenes from the sixth season of the series. These intricate masterpieces dot the landscape of Northern Ireland and were carved out of the wood of the 200-year-old beech trees at the Dark Hedges.

Tollymore Forest Park Step in to the woods and walk the paths of the White Walkers tread, through magnificent red woods and centuries-old stone structures. Known as the Haunted Forest in Westeros, this expanse of wild woodland is where we first came face-to-

Visiting Northern Ireland? Use these services to enhance your United Kingdom visa application experience Premium Lounge Enjoy end-to-end personalised service with a quicker submission process, all in a plush ambience. Available in Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune and New Delhi. Walk - in without an appointment Submit your application without booking an appointment at the visa application centre. Digital Assist Avail professional guidance while filling out your visa application form. Group Appointment Booking Travelling in a group? Arrange for everyone to submit their applications at the same visa application centre at a particular time and day.

years old. Walk this legendary road and transport yourself to the Seven Kingdoms. At the very end of the Dark Hedges lies Gracehill House – call in for dinner and a drink, and see another of the Game of Thrones doors, commemorating Bran’s transformation into the Three-Eyed Raven.

Road through the Dark Hedges tree tunnel

face with the cold-blooded creatures. It’s also where the Starks encountered their new-born direwolves for the first time. Seek out treasures on your own in the mossy glow of these ancient trees – but be on the lookout for any blue eyes watching you from the gloom.

Shillanavogy Valley Beneath Slemish Mountain, where St. Patrick once served as a shepherd, lies the Shillanavogy Valley. But this peaceful land is home to some rowdier residents in Essos – in the show, this is the setting for the

Dothraki Sea. Khal Drogo rode across this land towards Vaes Dothrak with his new bride, Daenerys Targaryen, and her wicked brother Viserys.

The Dark Hedges Can you imagine anything more terrifying than fleeing from the Lannisters? But that’s just what Arya Stark did, as she escaped down the Kingsroad alongside the Night’s Watch. The Dark Hedges provides a superb backdrop for Arya’s flight – the beech trees, with their twisting trunks and rustling canopy far above, are over 200

Inch Abbey Inch Abbey has quite a history – not only is it a beautiful Cistercian Abbey founded in 1180, but it’s also where the War of the Five Kings began. The houses of the North took up the cry of “the King in the North!”, after learning of Ned Stark’s death, spurring his son Robb on to war. On a clear day, while you sit beside the gushing River Quoile, you can see Downpatrick Cathedral, where St Patrick is said to be buried. Quintin Bay In the shadow of Castle Stokeworth, Jaime Lannister and Bronn of the Blackwater hatched a plot to retrieve Princess Myrcella from Dorne. Quintin Bay provides the backdrop for this dramatic June-Aug 2019 / 19


Inch Abbey

scene – take a stroll along the immaculate sands below Quintin Castle, which has overlooked this pretty bay since 1184. 

The Toome Canal The shores of Lough Neagh and Toome Canal are a beautiful mix of woodland, bogs and fascinating wildlife. This is where Tyrion Lannister was kidnapped by Jorah Mormont and taken prisoner in Season Five. The Toome Canal, representing the Old Valyrian Canal on the show, is also where the two were attacked by the Stone Men.

Antrim plateau Dramatic. It’s the only word that can truly captures the Antrim plateau – with windswept plains and basalt outcrops creating a spiny ridge against the sky, it’s no wonder this location was chosen to represent the Neck. This craggy landscape is the site of one of the most intense scenes in the show, where Sansa Stark learns from Littlefinger that she is betrothed to the terrible Ramsay Bolton.

Glens of Antrim Over millions of years, the Glens of Antrim took shape when Ice Age glaciers carved the landscape into a series of valleys and hills, creating a rich land that is now dotted with pretty villages and

areas of incredible natural beauty. The hidden village of Galboly, near Glenariff, a valley of tumbling waterfalls and twinkling forest canopies, is the filming location for Runestone in Game of Thrones®. This is where Lord Yohn Royce takes Robyn Arryn, the Lord of the Eyrie, in order to raise him as his ward and where Sansa Stark and Littlefinger watch his attempts at duelling.

The Cushendun Caves The Cushendun Caves are over 400 million years old. Found along the Antrim coastline, near the cosy village of Cushendun, they look out at the stony beach and the turbulent sea. In Westeros, these caves are the site of a dark crime. This is where Melisandre summons her shadowy demon beneath Renly’s Camp, in order to murder Stannis’ brother in the name of the Lord of Light.

Murlough Bay Watch out – Murlough Bay is home to slavers! This stunning stretch of shoreline along Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coastal Route is where Tyrion Lannister and Jorah Mormont ran afoul of slavers on their way to Meereen. It offers wonderful views of Rathlin Island, and on a clear day, you could even spot the Scottish Islands, which lie across the North Channel. Take in the

breathtaking vista at the Fair Head crag where you can gaze out over the stormy North Sea and look back across miles of verdant green countryside. You might recognise this place as the Dragonstone Cliffs where Jon Snow has an intriguing encounter with Daenerys and her dragon. Set sail across the seas, and prepare to come in contact with some of the most fearsome people in Westeros. Ballintoy Harbour, a picturesque port nearby the village of Ballintoy, is also known as Pyke – the home of the infamous Ironborn. This is where Theon Greyjoy arrives in the capital of Lordsport after his many years away as Ned Stark’s vassal. Nearby, Ballintoy Beach is where Euron Greyjoy is drowned to become the king of the Iron Islands.

Portstewart Strand Two miles of golden sands and gentle lapping waves – that’s Portstewart Strand. It was here among the huge sand dunes and clumps of grass, that Jaime and Bronn found themselves captured by Dornish soldiers on the coast of Sunspear, and where Ellaria and the Sand Snakes conspired to start a war with the Lannisters.

Downhill Beach Downhill Beach is a stretch of spotless white sands, overlooked by Mussenden

Temple, a replica of the Temple of Vesta in Rome. Here, tourists and locals alike converge to watch surfers take on the waves. But this immaculate beach has a darker side – this is where Stannis Baratheon rejects the seven old gods of Westeros. He is proclaimed as the champion of the Lord of Light by Melisandre and enters Dragonstone into the War of the Five Kings.

Keep your eyes open – dragons abound in Binevenagh! This mountain is where Daenerys and her dragon Drogon find refuge in the Dothraki Grasslands after they flee the fighting pits of Meereen. The mountain itself marks the very edge of the Antrim plateau, looking out over County Armagh and County Londonderry. Walk the trail, and take in unparalleled panoramic views that stretch for miles – on clear days, you can even make out the west coast of Scotland in the distance.

Pollnagollum Cave Through the tangled woods and behind

Portstewart Mussenden Temple Fullerton Arms The Dark Hedges Shillanovogy Road Map not to scale. For representation only.


Ballintoy Murlough Bay Bracehill House Mary McBride’s Cushenden Caves

Dunluce Castle

Ballygally Castle Hotel Belfast The Cuan

Inch Abbey

Northern Ireland game of THRONES

Castle Ward

Collymore Forest Park

Filming Locations

a gushing waterfall, Pollnagollum Cave in County Fermanagh is part of the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark. Traverse through the Belmore Forest trail, and visit the cave where the Brotherhood Without Banners shelter from the invading Lannister

forces. Arya, Gendry and Hot Pie are captured by the rag-tag group as they try to reach Riverrun, and in the darkness of this cave, Sandor Clegane faces his trial-bycombat against the fearless and immortal Beric Dondarrion.


A refined entrepreneur To this young entrepreneur, real estate is not just a business. It’s a way of ushering in a better tomorrow for others. The dynamic leader of the SS Group, Ashok Singh Jaunapuria, says that providing people with an improved quality of life and living standards has always excited him. “Our aim is to understand people’s dreams and realise them,” says the go-getter, adding, “be it recession, demonetisation or GST, people are always looking for a home, especially those who don’t own one.”

Ashok Singh Jaunapuria, Managing Director & CEO, SS Group

The Managing Director and CEO of the SS Group, under the guidance of his father, has not only taken his company to greater heights, but has successfully established the group as one of the most trusted names in the real estate sector. Concentrating on specific localities of the NCR has emerged as one of his key business strategies. Talking about how he has managed to steer the SS Group far ahead of its competitors, he says,

“We have our outmost focus on a single area, ie, Gurugram and Dwarka Expressway. We understand the needs of the customers from this area, be it in the residential sector or in the commercial sector. Concentrating on a specific area has also made us a preferred developer even by customers who are from outside the region, and have chosen us to develop their projects here because of the good word-of-mouth reputation we have earned over the years.” Outlining his plans for the future, Jaunapuria says: “While our focus will still be developing projects in and around Gurugram and Dwarka Expressway, we also intend to collaborate with globally reputed developers on multiple projects, depending on feasibility. We also have many group housing, township (SS City) and row housing projects in progress along with retail and office projects in sector 33, 49, 83, 84, 85, 86 and 90.” June-Aug 2019 / 21


Saif Ali Khan, Taimur & Kareena Kapoor Khan holidaying in Cape Town, South Africa

Summer Getaways, a la

Bollywood Style

Take cues for your summer break from some of the favoured destinations of Bollywood stars

Sonam Kapoor in London

With the frenzy around the ICC Cricket World Cup, London will be the most popular spot this summer.

New York New York is another shopping paradise for the glam-brigade of Bollywood. But Ranbir Kapoor, Kangana Ranaut, Siddharth Malhotra and many others also travel there to experience the buzz of the city. Surely with the many things to do, it is an ideal holiday option.

*All photos have been taken from the official Instagram handles of the mentioned celebrities

Words: Aarti Kapur Singh


ow often do we find ourselves in front of a map, confused about where do we want to go next? Celebrities are no different. While they might be living out of a suitcase when working, some also get excited thinking about their next vacation. In case you are in a dilemma over where to spend the summer of 2019, you may want to take cues from some of the favoured destinations of

the oppressive heat to those that love the pristine white snow. The Nawab of Bollywood, Saif Ali Khan and his begum Kareena Kapoor Khan have made no secret that Gstaad is their favourite holiday spot. The two make a pilgrimage here every year, with or without family and friends. Planning a summer holiday in Switzerland may just make you bump into them, you never know!

Bollywood stars.

London Switzerland From Yash Chopra to Shah Rukh Khan, from Anil Kapoor to Madhuri Dixit Nene, Switzerland has always been the playground of the who’s who of Bollywood. It provides respite from

London tops the list of everyone who likes to spend their hard-earned moolah for shopping. Karan Johar, Shah Rukh Khan, Sonam Kapoor, and many others regularly make the bee-line for some time of semi-anonymity in Hyde Park as well.

Siddharth Malhotra & Alia Bhatt with a friend in New York

Taapsee Pannu in Spain

made the glam vacation spot popular all over again. So much so that a very famous Bollywood girl gang is planning a getaway there. And another Bollywood macho hottie is also scheduled to be shooting his next film there. But that is not the only reason why you could feature South Africa in your list of possible summer vacation destinations. The biggest reason will be its reputation of being an awesome place for a family holiday that offers something for everyone!

Ajay Devgn in the Maldives Malaika Arora in the Maldives

Spain Speaking of European escapades, ever since the band of boys in Zindagi Milegi Na Dobara discovered the seduction of this glorious country, intrepid travellers like Taapsee Pannu, Neha Dhupia and Prabhas have succumbed to the charms of Spain. Apparently, Katrina Kaif is working out finer details of an expensive family holiday here. Well that is just one more reason to choose Spain as a summer getaway.

The Maldives Beaches are the best summer vacation spots. After Ajay Devgn spent an extensive holiday, replete with surf, sun and sand at Soneva Kiri, the island destination is buzzing as one of the most popular holiday spots for 2019. Apparently Malaika Arora also set the waves on fire recently. With or without her beau, a certain burly Kapoor? We are not saying!

South Africa Recent pictures of Saif & Kareena and their little prince Taimur living it up in Cape Town


Portland, Oregon

While a holiday in the USA may be becoming the norm, head to these unusual places for an unforgettable experience

Off the


Path in the USA Words: Michael Haggiag

go shopping. Washington Park is one of the most famous attractions here. Covering more than 410 acres of land, the park houses a zoo, Japanese Gardens and an arboretum. There are picnic areas, playgrounds, tennis courts and large spaces of green land to explore too. If you’re travelling with kids, a must-visit is the Children’s Museum - there is a garage to play in, a grocery store and bistro where you can plan the entire meal yourself.

adventurists, come here to hike, ski and climb. If you’re more into history, the Natural History Museum is the place to be. An architectural jewel, it houses more than 1.5 million specimens and objects. Loveland Living Planet Aquarium is another attraction not to be missed. Featuring five unique ecosystems from South America to the Antarctic, the aquarium is home to more than 4,000 animals from penguins to sloths, sharks to leopards, otters to porcupines and more.

Salt Lake City, Utah

Memphis, Tennessee

A picturesque city bordered by the waters of the Great Salt Lake and the snowy peaks of the Wasatch Range, Salt Lake City rose to fame in 2002 when it hosted the Winter Olympics. A perfect destination for

Famous particularly for being the town of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis Presley, Memphis can be of great interest to music lovers. Presley’s Graceland mansion is the most popular attraction here, but other

The historic Beale Street in Memphis


rom coastlines to big cities to natural parks, the United States of America is one of the most diverse nations a traveller can head to. Whether you’re seeking a new culinary adventure, thriving art scenes, historic architecture or sandy beaches, there is no dearth of choices here. Every summer, tourists flock to the country’s well-known destinations. However, the good thing is that USA is full of underrated spots with plenty of local charm, eclectic eateries, picturesque beaches and hiking trails abound.

Portland, Oregon The city of Portland is the largest in the state of Oregon. Known world over for its craft beers, hipster cafes, bridges and cycling lanes, it also has a thriving music and theatre scenes and a great place to

hotspot Surfing in San Diego, California

landmarks such as the Blues Hall of Fame, the Rock’n’Roll Soul Museum, and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, can also be explored. You can’t leave Memphis without visiting the Beale Street, a place where the blues was born. Many famous American musicians, like B.B. King, Alberta Hunter and Isaac Haye, too started from this place. During daylight, stores and restaurants attract people with music memorabilia and savoury barbecue, while at night, numerous live music clubs open their doors to music fans of all types.

San Diego, California Located on the West Coast of the USA, San Diego is a city with universal appeal. Visit the harbour where the longest-serving

Quick Tips The US spans six time zones; make sure you know which time zone your destination is in for your flights and airport transfers. Make sure you have health and travel insurance before your visit – US healthcare costs are some of the highest in the world.

aircraft carrier in the world – USS Midway – is permanently moored. Commissioned in 1945, the USS Midway served in the Vietnam War and Operation Desert Storm, before becoming the largest museum dedicated to aircraft carriers and naval

aviation anywhere. Surf culture is woven into San Diego’s identity and the county’s 70 miles of open ocean coastline has numerous surf spots like La Jolla and Point Loma, Pacific Beach and Mission Beach.

Jackson, Mississippi Known as “The City With a Soul”, Jackson is Mississippi’s capital and largest city. Noted for its magnificent architecture, the Capitol building and the home of Medgar Evers, a slain civil rights worker, the city is also home to numerous museums and outdoor attractions. The Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center were created to celebrate and shed light on the experience of being African-American in the deep south.

people & places

In recent years, Slovakia has emerged as an attractive tourist destination. Notwithstanding its small size, the country located in central Europe is replete with abundant bounties of nature. The nation boasts of scenic mountains, national parks, natural caves, rivers and much more, making the country a favourite for those fond of nature. The country also has a rich heritage with its historical and archaeological sites. His Excellency Mr. Ivan Lančarič, the Ambassador of the Slovak Republic to India, speaks about the tourism potential of his country and offer many tips for travellers planning to visit Slovakia.



WITH NATURE’S BOUNTIES Tell us a little bit about what tourists can explore in Slovakia. When you compare Slovakia to India, we are really small because the size of our country is just about 50,000 sq km. But even though we are relatively small, you can find almost everything in Slovakia: about 120 medieval castles, almost 4,200 churches and cathedrals, nine national parks, more than 7,000 natural caves, 1,600 mineral and thermal springs, 40 spas and aquaparks, more than 50 ski

resorts with hundreds of cable cars, almost 150 wineries. We can boast of a total of 30 records in the UNESCO list of world heritage. Not to mention about dozens of festivals, cultural events, galleries, museums and nightlife of course. You can find everything in Slovakia, maybe except the sea.

Has tourism been on the rise in Slovakia? In recent years, the Slovak Republic has

become even more popular as a tourist destination. For example, in 2017 about 2.2 million foreign visitors came to Slovakia. This number is surely even higher, but statistics only include travellers staying in Slovakia at least for one night. If you take into consideration that the total number of Slovak citizens is only about 5.5 million, you will find our tourism sector remarkable. Tourism in Slovakia generates revenues of roughly 5 billion € every year, which represents 5.2% of our total GDP.

Our visa issuing process has to follow the Schengen Visa Code so we can say it is the same as in any other EU country What facets of tourism in your country do you think will appeal to Indians? I believe that all of the above-mentioned. We understand that travel preferences are very individual. Someone might like mountains and nature, others might like history and culture, someone might prefer to enjoy nightlife... But as I explained, Slovakia really has something for everyone´s taste. Especially if you want to escape from the Indian summer heat and humidity or polluted air in winter, Slovak touristic resorts may offer you pleasant climate and fresh air during the whole year.

How important is India as a market for tourism in your country? Currently how many Indians are visiting Slovakia per year and for what purposes? What are the unique tourist destinations in Slovakia you would like to recommend? To be honest, it is really difficult to recommend only a few, but I will suggest some tips to address everyone. For those who prefer nature, mountains and adventures, I would recommend our pride: High Tatra mountains, Slovak Paradise National Park as well as our famous Demänovská Ice Cave and Ochtinská Aragonite Cave that are listed in UNESCO. For those who want to see the history of medieval castles, there are Bojnice Castle, Red Rock Castle, Bratislava Castle, Spiš Castle, Orava Castle and many others. All of them are fully renovated and wonderful. Those who would like to get to know Slovak culture and traditions should visit our open air museums of traditional villages like Pribylina or Bardejov and of course they should not miss our traditional folk festival Východná every July.

Last year we recorded more than 11,000 Indians that visited our country and stayed there more than one night. In this regard, I would like to highlight that Indian tourists on average stayed on our territory more days than other tourists. But still, there is a huge potential and we believe that we will attract even more Indian visitors in the future.

What are the new initiatives to attract Indian tourists? Just recently we doubled visa capacity at the Embassy and launched the cooperation with VFS Global in three cities - Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, which adds to tripling the visa capacity as compared to 2018. Latest initiative was an event presenting Slovakia as a tourist destination organised by the Slovak Embassy on March 6. It was a very successful event and we are planning to organise more of them in the future, maybe even in collaboration with some agencies or organisations.

Please tell us about the Slovak visa process for Indians. How easier is it to get Slovak visa? Our visa issuing process has to strictly follow the Schengen Visa Code so we can say it is the same as in any other EU country. But at this point, I would like to recommend to any applicant: please, read the visa application instructions carefully and make sure everything in your application is correct and complete. Correct and complete application submitted in advance of the planned travel is likely to get easy and fast approval. Majority of Indian Schengen Visa applications in 2018 were business trips and average visa processing time was four calendar days.

Last year we recorded more than 11,000 Indians that visited our country and stayed there more than one night. I would like to highlight that Indian tourists on average stayed on our territory more days than other tourists

How is air-connectivity between the two countries? There is a very convenient flight connection via Dubai to Bratislava, and also direct flights to Vienna airport which is just a half hour drive from our capital Bratislava. And from Bratislava, it takes only 2-3 hours of car ride to get to most of the abovementioned beautiful sites, mountains and attractions.

How long have you been in India? What do you enjoy the most about it? Together with my wife, we had arrived in June 2018 and since then we are trying to enjoy a variety of regional and traditional Indian cuisines. June-Aug 2019 / 29



Slovakia This quaint and picturesque country offers several options to the traveller in you! Words: Jullian Huge


ocated at the crossroads of civilisation, Slovakia is a country steeped in antiquity. It is scenic and picturesque and attracts tourists all over the year.

old Mozart had performed at a concert on Ventúrska Street while Franz Liszt enthralled the audiences at the university Library. For a connoisseur of music, Bratislava is a wonderful place!

Where Nature Embraces History The city centre of Bratislava houses the Grassalkovich Palace, the residence of the Slovak President and the Bratislava Castle. The Gothic Church, St. Martin’s is a must visit as well. The only preserved gate of the city fortification system, Michael’s Gate provides an enchanting view of the castle and Old Town. You can find a bronze figure of a man peeking out of a manhole nearby. This statue famously called the ‘Rubberneck Cumil’ is the most photographed statue in the city. Since Bratislava lies at the banks of the Danube river apart from the Moltava, a cruise on the former is highly recommended. Since the river connects Vienna and Budapest, it is possible to traverse these cities as well. It is a city that celebrates art and culture as well. The Reduta Building houses the Slovak Philharmonic and if one gets a chance it is surely worth a visit. While walking through the city, memorial plaques inform us about the musical journey of the city. A six-year-

An important medieval town in northeastern Slovakia, Bardejov is an archetypal example of medieval architecture in Central Europe. The city and its former Town Hall house an exposition of the Šariš Museum (Šarišské Múzeum) called “Bardejov – the Free Royal Town”. The Roman Catholic Basilica of St. Egidius is located at its northern section. The Franciscan Monastery with the Church stands out for its unique architecture. Eastern Slovakia is exceptionally beautiful and gifted with a number of natural sights. The Spis Castle is a visual delight. It is a quintessential example of a historical sight with rare natural beauty. Located above the town of Spisske Pohradie and the village of Zehra, it is a perfect destination for hikers and provides perfect views of the surrounding hills and valleys that decorate the landscape. The UNESCO Protected Spisska Kapitula is in close vicinity of the Spis Castle. Another place of exceptional natural beauty is the National Park in Tatra where dramatic views can capture your

Bratislava Castle

Slovakia as a preferred destination: Ideal for Premium business and leisure travellers Heart of Central Europe Tranquil and Peaceful country Full of Natural Beauty Historical Sites in plenty Ideal for adventurers Safety is guaranteed Perfect amalgamation of art and culture For information on Slovakia visa application, visit

imagination. It is also home to some of the most endemic natural species in the world, including the Tatra Chamois.

Home of the Foodie

Old Town Hall, Bratislava

Food is an integral part of the Slovakian way of life. The lunch is the main meal of the day and the dennĂŠ menu (Daily Menu) here consists of hot soup and the main meal. The traditional rich sauerkraut soup with pork and sausage is very unique. The cuisine here is a hearty amalgamation of Hungarian, Austrian, German and Slovak cultures. The Slovak Pub in Bratislava is an intriguing place to visit and its old fashioned atmosphere and homemade fare attract the visitor. The unique Observation

Tower houses a celebrated restaurant and bar and is a landmark of Bratislava. While in the towns of Slovakia, you can try the local black currant and honey wines apart from the local coke Kofola, which is a nonalcoholic herbal fizzy drink meant to quench your thirst. The Tatra Tea, a concoction of everything ranging from tea to herbal liquor is also an attractive option. Similarly, the potato gnocchi dumplings with sheep cheese and bacon are a Slovakian specialty. Finally, you can savour the Bratislava rolls that include traditional pastries with poppy seeds and walnuts when you find the time. Slovakia is a city that is a perfect place to engage in revelry. June-Aug 2019 / 31


High on



Old world or new, there is something heady and enduring about some of the world’s wine regions Words: Anita Rao Kashi

ine, at once, evokes multiple images and


notions. Pale golden whites and deep rich

One of the oldest wine-producing countries in the world, France has several wine regions and appellations that have GI tags such as Champagne. Of these, Bordeaux and Burgundy are the most beautiful. Both are known for their reds and the whole area is a blanket of vineyards with the air thick with the smell of grapes and wines. Visit places such as Cote D’Or area in Burgundy or visit little charming villages such as St Emilion near Bordeaux.

reds flash through the mind along with

pictures of rolling vineyards. It is associated with aspiration and sophistication. But in recent years, wine has undergone a lot of transformation. It has lost much of its snob value and acquired a fun element as newer regions have emerged and the taste palate has expanded and diversified. While old world favourites still rule the roost, new-age wines from younger regions are storming the wine scene. Here’s a list of world’s regions, a mix of old and new, that


are worth visiting for both the wines and

Neighbours Italy and France have always been rivals where wine production is

the scenery.

concerned, with a wine a tradition going back centuries in both countries. But Italy has something more going for it – the spectacular scenery of Tuscany area, which is also one of the most prominent wineproducing regions. Rolling countryside and vineyards stretching to the horizon are interspersed with stunning architecture and charming villages and towns. Some of the wines to try here include Montepulciano.

Georgia Talk about European wine and Georgia hardly comes to mind! And therein lies the charm of Georgian wine. Considered to be among the oldest wine-producing

Vineyards of Mendoza Argentina

Wine Tasting in Gibbston Valley, New Zealand

countries in Europe, Georgia has flown under the radar. But in an age when wine connoisseurs are looking for variety, the country’s wine scores high. Especially eye-catching is the Kakheti area in Georgia, which is considered to be the birthplace of wine. Georgian wine is also unique because the grapes, along with skin, stalk, and pips are fermented in huge clay pots that are buried underground for almost an entire year. The result is a wine that is exquisite on the palate and refreshingly heady.

Argentina Highly regarded among the new world wines, Argentinean wine is the toast of wine connoisseurs the world over. It is mostly known for its Malbec wines, which are popping up on tables across the world. Of all the wine regions, Mendoza is most famous since its high altitude and perfect weather for grapes has resulted in over 1,000 wineries making it their home. Vineyards climbing up and down the hillsides make for a spectacular sight.

New Zealand Australia

Vineyard in Tuscany, Italy

Among the new age wines, Australian wines hold their own and the country is the fifth largest wine exporter in the world. While almost all states have regions producing wines, it is the southern part that is more popular and produces some of the best varieties owing to a climate suited for wine production. Among them, Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley in Victoria, Barossa in South Australia and Hunter Valley in New South Wales are some really well-known wine regions carpeted with vineyards and filled with wineries. These are home to brands like Penfolds, Jacob’s Creek, Chandon etc.

Lesser known but gaining a foothold across the world’s tables is New Zealand wine. Though both islands have wine regions, Central Otago area in South Island is eye-catching and has a GI of its own. Spanning gentle valleys and hill slopes, aided by beautiful lakes and rivers that run through the region, the vineyards are spectacular and produce some of the best New Zealand pinot noirs. What makes the area endearing is that it is filled with small growers producing some of the most beautiful wines. Some wineries worth a visit include Mt Difficulty, Misha’s Vineyard, Scott Base, Wooing Tree and Aurum. June-Aug 2019 / 33


Oscars Let’s go to the

Watch these Oscar Awards Winners that are bound to steal your heart away! Words: Vinod Advani

Green Book No one in their wildest dreams would have predicted this film to win the Oscar for Best Picture! It’s a simple story based on an actual guidebook called the Negro Motorist Green Book, originally compiled in the 1950s to help black Americans travelling in the South USA to check into the only hotels, motels and restaurants that would allow them in as customers. Tony (Viggo Mortensen) is a white driver hired by Don Shirley to drive him to five-star hotels and millionaire’s residences in the deep South. Don Sirley may be black but he is after all the country’s pre-eminent pianist and much sought after by wealthy people to regale them. This road movie set in 1962, exposes people’s racism and double standards, but on the journey, both Tony and Don learn to let go of their own deep-rooted prejudices and finally become friends. Mahershala Ali won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his nuanced performance.

Roma This is reputed director Alfonso Cuaron’s tribute to the Mexico City he grew up in the 1970s, a historically tumultuous time. Meet a middle-class family and their maid Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio, never acted before) who facing pregnancy is abandoned by her lover. Coincidentally, her employer Sofia is also abandoned by her husband who leaves home to find a new life. How the two women come together as friends is at the heart of this gorgeously told story, interwoven with the idea that ultimately, women have only themselves to rely on. This declaration of feminine empowerment is delicately nuanced and every frame portrays emotions, enhanced by delightful cinematic details that require close attention. Roma is in black and white which actually enhances the narrative and fills the mind with all colours. The Oscar for Best Director went to Cuaron.

Bohemian Rhapsody Even if you barely listened to Queen. Even if you did not worship Freddie Mercury. This hugely watchable biopic of one of the world’s top vocalists, whose tormented soul wrote some of the most classic rock songs ever, is riveting. For millions of Freddie fans, the film tells his story with insightfulness (not blind adoration), deliberate direction (not haphazard) and dedicated research, exposing not just the high points but also the lows. How Farrokh Bulsara, a Parsi boy born in Tanzania, who studied briefly in Lonavala, Mumbai, joined his parents in London where they had migrated, met Brian May and Roger Taylor in a club and became the band’s lead singer. They christened the band to ‘Queen’ and quickly became kings of rock and pop. Yes, he sadly contracted the HIV Virus and died of AIDS but not before giving the world songs like We Will Rock You, Another One Bites The Dust, Radio Gaga, and the unique Bohemian Rhapsody. Rami Malek garnered a well-deserved Oscar for Best Actor for his role as the legendary Freddie Mercury.

Spider Man: Into the Spider Verse This is an animated film that is complicated to comprehend if you are not familiar with previous Spider-Man films of the last 20 years. In this film, a super collider built by the Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) kills the original Spider-Man. The city of New York is plunged into mourning. Now it’s time to meet a teenager called Miles, rather precocious and adventurous who gets bitten by a mysterious spider in the subway systems tunnels. Lo and behold, he develops SpiderMan-esque powers that first frighten him but then he gets used to them. Soon, he finds that he is not the only one with superhuman powers. He in fact is led into a universe where all kinds of people possess SpiderMan skills and prowess! Won Best Animated Film Oscar.

A Star is Born If you were visiting planet Mars, here’s a reminder to catch up on one of the most famous love stories ever. This 2018 film is the fourth retelling (previously in 1937, 1954, 1976 with Barbara Streisand) of the story of a star who discovers raw talent, falls in love and watches his lover eclipse his own fame. Before you yawn, a line of recommendation. Bradley Cooper’s (who stars as famous rock singer Jackson) sensitive direction imbues every moment of his intimate interactions with Lady Gaga (talented but undiscovered songstress Ally) with so much love and sensitivity that you are right there with them. You know it’s all going to end in a tragedy and yet feel compelled to watch the sparks and luminosity of them both. And hey, who knew Lady Gaga could act! The songs she has composed and sung are superb adding to the all-pervasive charm of its 134 minutes. Lady Gaga’s composition Shallow won the Best Original Song Oscar. June-Aug 2019 / 35


Nice 72 hours in

The capital of the French Riviera is the country’s hot spot of fun, buzz and the art of enjoying life Words: Vinod Advani


prawled across the Cote d’Azur (Azure Coast), the endless blue ocean dances with seduction. It lures visitors and locals alike to sun tan on the Promenade des Anglais (English Promenade) beach in the mid-day sun. Europeans whizz past on fashionably wide streets, headed to Monte Carlo on the right or Cannes on the left. Kodachrome images flash through in postcard Nice. To the front lies the vast turquoise-coloured sea, while the mountains form a giant amphitheatre a few kilometres away. The verdant terrain in between enfolds charming villas, holiday apartments, and a plethora of hotels.    Facing south, sheltered from the cold North Wind by the mountains behind it, Nice is blessed with a salubrious climate all year round. In August, almost all of France is on the move. I don’t know where the residents of Nice have gone, but the Italians seem to have taken over the town; in fact, the entire Cote d’Azur. Wherever you go, you see cars from Rome, Milano, Torino and Florence; whichever restaurant you visit, you hear the sound of Italian sing-song. 

An evening in Nice

Victory! Historically, too, there has been a long relationship between this part of France and Italy. A quick throwback will help you understand why Nice is so different from any other city in France. Originally known as Nikaia, or ‘victory’ in Greek, Nice was an independent state in the Middle Ages. By the 12th century BC, it discovered, thanks to expanding trade through Provencal and Italian ports, the joys of prosperity and, because of its economic standing, was soon sucked into the Genoese sphere of influence. In 1860, the French Republic was awarded Nice as a mark of gratitude for having sided with Sardinia against Austria. Nice, no longer Italian, had finally become French. Its new status began luring Europe’s aristocracy and intellectuals in the late 19th century. Berlioz, the famous composer, wrote “Corsaire”, among other pieces, in Nice. Writer Prospero Merimee initially came here to recover from a lung ailment; but stayed on to enjoy the city’s invigorating climate. Guy de Maupassant, true to character, enjoyed visits to Nice while

unkindly referring to it as “the flower-filled cemetery of the European aristocrats”.

Promenade Des Anglais Alexander Dumas, author of The Three Musketeers, wrote in 1841: “There are two Nices. The Italian Nice on the hills, full of buildings with carved and painted facades. The English Nice with whitewashed houses, where windows and doors are left wide open, people sport parasols and say ‘yes’.” It was an English minister who was responsible for developing the long marshy strip along the shoreline into a real footpath and, in 1854, giving it the name it still bears – Promenade des Anglais. The mansions and hotels on this thoroughfare that links the two sections of Nice preserve their olde worlde elegance. As in the 19th century, so too in the 21st - the whole world turns up on this celebrated promenade, including ramblers, joggers, walkers, artists, singers, skaters, as well as …pickpockets! Take care of your wallet and personal belongings.

Charming narrow lanes and streets of Old Town are dotted with cathedrals, churches, small castles and palaces, displaying their Baroque heritage

The seven kilometre-long marina stretches from the airport at one end of the city, to the castle headland in the east. The beach is covered with sun worshippers roasting to golden perfection, only rousing themselves for a dip in the cool sea or a snack. Some of these are private beaches leased out by deluxe hotels on the other side of the road. The most famous hotel here, of course, is Hotel Negresco, declared a French landmark. It has played host to the crème

Clock Tower in Old Town, Nice

de la crème of society ever since it first opened in 1912. Queen Elizabeth, Winston Churchill, Arthur Rubinstein, Charlie Chaplin and Maria Callas were just a few of the hotel’s more prominent guests. On my previous visits to Nice, I have stayed at least three nights in this legendary hotel. Your football-sized suite helps understand why modern day royalty still flock here.

Old Town Known as Nice Vieux, Nice’s Old Town has been thriving since the early 1700s. Charming and narrow lanes and streets are dotted with cathedrals, churches, small castles and palaces, displaying their Baroque heritage. Old Nice is also home to so many museums and art galleries that you will be spoilt for choice. The Place du Palais de Justice is a practical starting point. The central plaza here is home to the awesome Bell Tower and the Palais de Justice with its gorgeous neo-classical façade. Walk straight from here to the Saint Rita Church and turn left. Fenocchio is the most famous Ice Cream shop (94 different flavours!) in all of the Riviera. Grab a decadent gelato and then walk for a minute till you arrive at Musee du Palais Lascaris, a Baroque Palace with elaborate interiors, gold tapestries, pink stairwells and painted ceilings. This 1,700 architectural marvel is a must visit ! If you choose to walk right from the Palais du Justice, within a minute, you will arrive at the bustling, buzzing, market place called Cours Saleya.

Cours Saleya In the Cours Saleya flower market, bustling shops, restaurants and outdoor cafes form the focal point of Nice’s animated public life. The flowers and plants that transform the market into a immensely perfumed garden constitute a major source of income with exports going out to many places in Europe. In the Salaya courtyard, an antique fair, full of all sorts of intriguing objects, is held every Monday. Hungry? Head for a stall called Chez Theresa, which has stood here since the 1920s. Buy a plate of Socca (a Nice speciality), a flatbread made out of chickpeas, like a hummus stuffed paratha. A meal by itself, its great value for money. June-Aug 2019 / 37




Tourte de Blettes is a vegetable-based dessert made of Swiss chard, a highly nutritious cousin of spinach and kale. Despite a misleading name, the plant’s origins are very much Mediterranean. It also comes in a salty version. Pan Bagnat means ‘bathed bread’, because of the liberal olive oil dousing essential to preparation. Think of it as the Mediterranean style of sandwich, with the filling of Salad Nicoise, without Mayonaise. Yes, think of hard-boiled eggs, sliced tomatoes, olives, garlic (which is sometimes rubbed directly onto the bread) tuna and/or anchovies.

Nicoise Salad

Palace Lascaria        Nec Me Fulgura. Not even lightning strikes me. This is the proud motto in the vault of the entrance hall of the Palace Lascaria. Built in 1648 by the 55th Grand Master of the Order of Malta, the palace remained in the possession of the Lascaris family until the French Revolution. Sold in 1802, it then belonged to several different owners, eventually being divided up into individual apartments whose inconsiderate occupants inflicted considerable damage. Realising the value of the palace, the City of Nice purchased it in 1942, declared it a historical monument and spent six years restoring it to its former glory. Inside, behold ceilings painted with frescoes illustrating scenes from Greek mythology. Among the beautiful objets d’art that enrich this small museum are fine 17th Century Flemish tapestries. 

Sunshine more than 300 days a year, the seductively shifting shimmering sea, the imposing mountain peaks in a postcard landscape, warm friendly locals, the party scene at night, and international festivals and sporting events all year round, give the city its eternal buzz. I have many memories of precious moments of Nice. So will you.

between the different sections. The reception desk is manned by bright and cheerful staff. Inside, we discover the works of neo-realists, of pop artists Arman, Cesor, Niki de Saint-Phalle, Christo and Andy Warhol, to name a few, and American abstractionists Berra, Dolla, Cane et al.

Local Street Food The Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art It’s a must-see not just for art aficionados, but also amateurs. The architecture of the building is unusual, with four square towers, rooftop terraces and glass passageways

is essentially a flat open faced tart topped with caramelised onions, anchovies and olives. It’s like a pizza, without tomato/ cheese, with a salty sweet combination. Socca, the most iconic dish, is a griddled chickpeas and olive oil pancake, which should be eaten when its emerges out of the wood fired oven, all golden and crispy. Traditionally ‘peasant’ food served up to the tobacco factory workers, dockers and fishermen as part of their ‘merenda’ or afternoon snack.

The Niçois are immensely proud of their local dishes and (like everywhere in France) have a deep appreciation for good food. Available at all street vendors and markets are the tantalising tastes of some must-try street-food delicacies: Pissaladière

Zone Pietons For me, the most delightful aspect of Nice are its zone pietons – vast areas of the city reserved exclusively for pedestrians. During the day, they throng with shoppers eager to pick up stuff from chic boutiques. (You will be delighted to know that the shops are open till 8 pm.  Best of all, pret-aporter is at half the price of Paris). At night, they take on a theatrical, almost magical atmosphere. As early diners take their places at outdoor restaurants and cafes, they are treated to a visual feast put out by groups of out-of-work artistes. Buskers serenade you on guitars, mime artists offer wicked impersonations, break-dancers show off their skills with breathtaking dexterity, and if you hang around long enough, you just might get to see an entire play enacted. Nothing comes free, of course, but nobody minds the 10 Euro tip for entertainment that goes on till the wee hours of the morning.

For information on France visa application, visit


A date with

history in


The UK’s monarchy and historical importance fascinates and beckons travellers the world over. Here’s a look at the must-see historic attractions in London Words: Vinod Advani

You can view it in the Tower of London, which stands beside the Thames with 900 years of history as a Royal Palace, fortress, prison, and place of execution. For over 600 years, Kings and Queens of England have stored crowns and robes at the Tower of London. Since the 1600s, the coronation regalia itself, commonly known as the ‘Crown Jewels’ have been protected at the tower. An estimated 30 million people have seen them here, making them the most visited objects in Britain. Interestingly they are not just for show, but are actually used. At the annual Parliament’s State opening, the Queen wears the Imperial State Crown! St Edward’s Crown is the most important crown, which is made of solid gold and is only used at the time of the actual crowning. In 1911 (from the medieval crown originally thought to date back to the 11th-century saint-king Edward the Confessor), the solid gold was melted down and set with semi precious stones. It was first used for the coronation of George V.

Tower Bridge in London

We had delicious and reasonably priced Fish and Chips at the New Armouries Café (housed in an important surviving example of military architecture in the country), while visiting the Tower of London. Dishes range from the traditional English, such as Apple Pie and Trifle, to modern European specialities, such as Rigatoni with Mushrooms, Bacon and Spinach. Freshly made salads, sandwiches, soups and hot meals on offer.

Tower of London The Koh-i-Noor diamond is said to have obtained its name in 1738 in the aftermath of the Battle of Karnal in which Nadir Shah of Persia defeated Mohammed Shah, the Mogul ruler of India. Nadir Shah suggested that he and the vanquished ruler exchange turbans as a sign of goodwill, knowing from a member of the Mogul’s harem that he

kept a diamond of legendary size in the folds of his headgear. When Nadir Shah later unravelled the turban, the stone fell onto his hands causing him to exclaim ‘Koh-INoor’ meaning ‘mountain of light’. Passing from one ruler to another by conquest and misadventure, the stone was finally presented to Queen Victoria following the annexation of the Punjab in 1849.

VISIT TIMINGS: 1 March - 31 October: Tuesday - Saturday 09:00-18:00 (last admission 17:00) Sunday; Monday 10:00-18:00 (last admission 17:00) 1 November - 28 February: Tuesday Saturday 09:00-17:00 (last admission 16:00) Sunday & Monday 10:00-17:00 (last admission 16:00)

Buckingham Palace Fancy having tea with the Queen? Everyone dreams of the impossible. But what you can see is to see the New Guard exchange duty with the Old Guard in the famous Changing the Guard ceremony outside the Palace. Also known as Guard

Changing the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace

Mounting, the daily ritual takes place outside the palace from 10.45am and lasts around 45 minutes, with the actual handover taking place at 11am. The Buckingham Palace Old Guard forms up in the palace’s forecourt from 10.30am and is joined by the St James’s Palace Old Guard at around 10.45am. The New Guard then arrives from Wellington Barracks and takes over the responsibilities of the Old Guard in a formal ceremony accompanied by music. The guard that looks after Buckingham Palace is called The Queen’s Guard and is made up of soldiers on active duty from the Household Division’s Foot Guards. The guards are dressed in traditional red tunics and bearskin hats. The ceremony is free to watch. There is no ceremony on days when large events are held in the city centre. Make sure to check the ceremony schedule on the Household Division’s website before your visit. Visit the official London residence of the Queen, as Buckingham Palace opens its doors to the public every summer. Every year, Buckingham Palace’s summer opening features special exhibitions. The year 2019 marks 200 years since Queen Victoria’s birth so a special exhibition will tell the story of how the young queen

transformed Buckingham Palace from a private house into a working royal residence. It is also the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death so another special exhibition in the palace will bring together more than 200 of the Renaissance master’s greatest drawings in the Royal Collection, forming the largest exhibition of Leonardo’s work in over 65 years. Explore the lavishly furnished State Rooms of one of the world’s few remaining working royal palaces, and look out for some of the Royal Collection’s greatest treasures on display.

The guard that looks after Buckingham Palace is called The Queen’s Guard and is made up of soldiers on active duty from the Household Division’s Foot Guards

VISIT TIMINGS: 21 July – 31 August 2018: Open daily, admission 9:30am – 5:15pm, closing time 7pm 1 September – 30 September 2018: Open daily, admission 9:30 – 15:15, closing time 6 ​ pm FEES : The State Rooms, Buckingham Palace: Adults: £24.00 Royal Day Out (The State Rooms, Buckingham Palace, The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace and the Royal Mews) Adults: £42.30 Children (under 17): £23.30, Children (under 5): Free entry

gardens, Hampton Court has been home to some of England’s greatest Kings and Queens, and the scene of many of the most significant events and dramas in Royal history. Experience the public dramas and private lives of Henry VIII, his wives and children in the world of the Tudor court. The fee includes the following free activities: Costumed guides who give tours of the state apartments, with insights into the daily lives of monarchs and their courtiers. Entrance to the Magic Garden, which your kids will just love. Come face-to-face with mysterious mythical beasts, storm the battlements, besiege the towers and explore the secret grotto in this magical children’s playground. The Magic Garden at Hampton Court provides a new and

Hampton Court Palace Set in 60 acres of beautiful riverside

June-Aug 2019 / 41

indulge unique way for your family to explore the palace’s past. Enter the world-famous MAZE, the UK’s oldest surviving hedge maze. Commissioned around 1700 by William III, it covers a third of an acre and is known for confusing and intriguing visitors with its many twists, turns and dead ends. On an average, it takes 20 minutes to reach the centre. Stroll through the Royal Courts, the Chapel Royal, the King’s Apartments or William III’s Private Study.  Learn about the etiquette and customs of Tudor nobels and Georgian courtiers from knowledgeable guides dressed in period costume. Enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of Henry VIII’s truly cavernous kitchen with its roaring log fire and boiling cauldrons.  And marvel at the exquisite art and architecture from beautifully furnished State Apartments, through important paintings from the Royal collection of HM Queen Elizabeth II in the Renaissance Gallery, to the ‘modern’ Baroque façade designed by Sir Christopher Wren in the 1690s. VISIT TIMINGS: Summer (29 March - 03 November) Monday-Sunday: 10:00-18:00, Last

Kensington Palace and Queen Victoria monument

admission: 17:00 Last admission to Magic Garden and Maze: 17:15 Winter (04 November - 27 March) Monday-Sunday: 10:00-16:30, Last admission: 15:30, Last entry to Maze: 15:45 FEES: Adult: £21.30,  Child: £10.70

Kensington Palace If like me, you are still entranced by the late, lamented Diana, Princess of Wales, you must visit The Kensington Palace. Catherine Walker created the signature look of the late Princess of Wales, and for the next 16 years, she was to design stunning outfits for one of the world’s most photographed women.  The display entitled Diana, Princess of Wales: Designs and Dresses by Catherine Walker offers an opportunity to see behind the scenes of a couturier’s workshop with drawings and outfits, many on-show for the first time. You can also visit the Kings State Apartments: The rooms are opulent, but sparsely furnished. Used only for audiences and meetings, so there was no need for lots of furniture, as the courtiers could not sit in the presence of royalty. But there are so many works of art and sculptures to be admired, like

the terracotta busts of George II and his wife Queen Caroline, made by Michael Rysbrack in 1738 and 1739. The fireplace in the Presence Chamber is surrounded by limewood carvings including cherubs. In the Privy Chamber you can gaze at the magnificent ceiling, as well as the intricate tapestries. You can also view the distinctively Georgian age-influenced Cupola Room. Finally, the climax is the Kings Drawing Room, with its invaluable painting of Venus and Cupid by 16th Century Italian maestro painter Giorgio Vasari.  VISIT TIMINGS: April to October: 10.00 – 18.00 every day. November to March: 10.00 – 16.00 open every day. FEES: Adult (18-64) £17.50, Child (5-15)  £8.70 IMPORTANT INFO: Except for Buckingham Palace, all other palaces offer free entry and you can buy The London Pass as well. Get your passes for various UK attractions, Oyster cards, Brit Rail passes, and a range of other products at the Britain Travel Shop, before departure. Call +91 22 6718 9673 (India), +971 561719434 (UAE) | Email: shopmanager@


Event planner


Venice Biennale May 11- November 24, Italy The 58th Exhibition is curated by Ralph Rugoff and will include artworks that reflect upon different existential aspects, key traditions, institutions and relationships of the “post-war order”.

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Singapore Food Festival June/July, Singapore The month-long extravaganza will see connoisseurs of food heading to Singapore to try its local food while trying out international cuisines as varied as Japanese, French, and Indian. This festival showcases the multicultural heritage of Singapore.

Check out what’s on around the world in the months of June, July and August

Cricket World Cup May 30-June 14, England and Wales The Cricket World will see the participation of leading cricket playing nations where India, England and Australia start off as favourites. The matches will see thrilling encounters between the bat and ball and is likely to keep cricket lovers occupied much of the time.

Fete de la Musique June 21, Paris, France A not so ordinary music festival, live bands, singers, amateur musicians, drummers, Djs, etc take over the city’s streets, expressing themselves through music and inviting the crowd to enjoy themselves.



Canadian Grand Prix July 7-9, Montreal, Canada An event for racing enthusiasts, it doubles up as an opportunity for all to explore Quebec and enjoy the Grand Prix and cheer for your favourites from the crowd.

Obon Festival August 13-15, Japan It is a festival that celebrates familial bonds as Chochin (paper) lanterns are hung to guide the spirits and Obon dances (bon odori) are performed. Families have reunions and visit the graves of their relatives and make food offerings at altars and temples.


Mostly Mozart Festival July 17-August 10 , New York, USA The Lincoln Centre hosts a supremely engaging performance that sees unforgettable performances by the summer orchestra as Mozart comes alive. Several masterpieces of the legend keep the audiences entertained throughout the festival.



Cat Convention June 29-30, Los Angeles, USA It is the largest convention that sees cat owners, vendors from cat-centric merchandise and of course cats come together for a major adoption drive.


Jerash Festival of Culture and Arts

July 19-August 3, Jerash, Jordan Featuring poetry, theatre, literature, and the arts, the festival on the Roman ruins of Jerash, this festival brings together the cultural face of Jordan to the forefront.


Khareef Festival July 15-August 31, Salalah, Oman This annual celebration of the Khareef season in the Dhofar region of Oman is much sought after and liked by locals and tourists alike. This festival sees a fervent celebration of nature and culture together. June-Aug 2019 / 45

about vfs global

VFS Global’s Citizen Facilitation Centre in Imphal, Manipur

Serving Citizens


with tech-enabled services

How government-to-citizen services are integrating technology for a more consistent service


he current highly customer-centric digital era has driven governments across the globe to become more dependent on the use of technological and innovative solutions to better serve their citizens.

This includes ongoing large-scale state government projects in key locations in India such as Delhi and Pune, alongside other regions in the world, such as the Middle East, Africa and Europe.

There are already several case studies of highly citizen-centric government services around the world, and India, the second most populous country in world, is no different in this case.

Leveraging on a domain expertise of over 17 years in managing applications and providing public-facing services around the world, VFS Global offers a host of citizen services by partnering with local governments, enabling them to integrate technology into their citizen services to offer better service quality, increased data security and improved turnaround time for a more consistent service.

Citizens can avail a host of services such as streamlined, single-window processing of birth and death certificates, drivers’ licences, and marriage certificates to name a few. VFS Global has also effectively rolled out ‘doorstep’ delivery of these services at select locations, providing the ultimate in convenience for the applicant.

Citizen Facilitation Centre Launched For Residents Of Manipur, India VFS Global’s Identity & Citizen Services (ICS) vertical has launched a Citizen Facilitation Centre (CFC) in Imphal, Manipur. The centre in this North-Eastern

About the Citizen Facilitation Centre, Imphal, Manipur, India • In partnership with the Department of Municipal Administration, Housing & Urban Development - MAHUD, Government of Manipur • More than 50 services to be offered to citizens through a single centre • Greater reach in delivery of citizen services in a professional manner    • Offers easy access to key information

state of India offers approximately 10 civic services, as well as a host of sub-services, all under a single roof, thereby ensuring time and cost savings for the applicant. While the first centre has been rolled out in the city of Imphal in Manipur, a second centre is slated to open as part of the second phase of this project. The centre has commenced the delivery of services for three major areas - E-district services related to the revenue department and employment exchange; Transport services; and visa services through a drop-box application services for Estonia, Thailand, Italy and Vietnam. Additionally, the CFC will also provide citizen support services such as information dissemination, online PAN card and passport support, assisted form filling, etc to offer an enhanced experience.


VFS Global recognised for

& business excellence

By achieving this EBRS rating, VFS Global has become the first and only multinational company to attain EBRS rating in the ‘Service Sector’ in the United Arab Emirates. EBRS and DQGA awards are based on the principles of global excellence models. His Highness Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum bestowed the DQGA award in Service Sector on Zubin Karkaria, Chief Executive Officer, VFS Global Group, at the awards ceremony. Her Excellency Ohood Bint Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness and Wellbeing and the Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office of UAE, also awarded VFS Global for achieving the 5-star EBRS Rating.

This dual recognition is a testament to our commitment to deliver seamless, secure and innovative customercentric services His Highness Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the Dubai International Marine Club, bestowed the DQGA Award to Zubin Karkaria, CEO, VFS Global Group, (right) and Vinay Malhotra, Regional Group COO – Middle East, South Asia & China, VFS Global (left)

VFS Global wins the prestigious Dubai Quality Global Award and becomes the only multinational company in the UAE to achieve a 5-star rating in the Emirates Business Rating Scheme in the Service Sector


eld under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the 25th Annual Business Excellence Awards were hosted by Dubai’s Department of Economic Development on 02 April 2019. At this event, VFS Global received two prestigious awards Dubai Quality Global Award (DQGA) and a 5-star rating in the Emirates Business Rating Scheme (EBRS).

Zubin Karkaria, CEO of VFS Global Group, said, “I am deeply humbled and honoured to receive these two very prestigious awards on behalf of VFS Global from His Highness Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Her Excellency Ohood Bint Khalfan Al Roumi. At VFS Global, we are focused on continuously raising the bars of customer experience and overall business excellence. This dual recognition is a testament to our commitment to deliver seamless, secure and innovative customer-centric services, and to our general commitment to business excellence.”

June-Aug 2019 / 47

about vfs global

Energy A clean

transformation in rural India

Tell us a little about the biogas plant in Kolar, Karnataka, that has been operationalised in partnership with VFS Global. Biogas plant is an anaerobic digester that produces biogas (combination of methane and carbon-dioxide) by fermenting organic matter with the help of the natural bacteria. As part of the Kolar biogas project, a biogas plant is installed in each household in Kolar – this is a fixed dome model biogas plant that produce biogas through animal dung, which is available with the household. The generated biogas is burnt in a biogas burner that replaces a traditional wood fuel cook stove. Using this burner also removes indoor air pollution and creates a clean cooking environment.

With global focus on reliable and long-lasting renewable energy solutions, environmental NGO SKG Sangha has been making great strides in bringing low-carbon clean energy to villages across India. Vidya Sagar Devabhaktuni, Founder and President of SKG Sangha, a partner of Swiss NGO myclimate, speaks to CompassTM about the transformative power of biogas projects in rural India, highlighting VFS Global’s contribution to them

The spent slurry from the plant is useful in speeding up the fermentation process of other organic waste matter and be used in agricultural lands, increasing the soil fertility and replacing part of chemical fertilisers used for soil nutrition. Overall, the biogas plant becomes sustainable as the animals (dairy and agricultural beasts) are also part of the rural settlement system.

What impact has this plant made to the community around it? Has it changed the community’s dependence on LPG? Each biogas plant replaces LPG and kerosene and saves about seven tons of CO2-equivalent of Green House Gases (GHGs) per year, and also saves some 4.5

A biogas plant being constructed

tons of fuel wood and 85 kg of chemical fertiliser per year. It also saves about 20 acres of forest in its lifetime thus helping the entire ecosystem. The manure does not emit GHGs as it is treated in an anaerobic digester and also avoids proliferation of mosquitoes. The sustainable benefits to the households using it are multifold: • Efficient cooking stoves fired with clean biogas fuel reduces indoor air pollution and respiratory problems currently caused by smoke from inefficient cook stoves burning fuel wood. • The installation of a biogas unit will reduce the consumption of fuel wood and therefore reduce the pressure on scarce forest resources, increasing bio-diversity. • Women and children can use time otherwise required for collecting fuel wood, setting a fire and getting it

Stoves fired with clean biogas fuel reduces indoor air pollution and respiratory problems currently caused by smoke from inefficient cook stoves burning fuel wood

• • •

going, for education and generating income. Cleaning of the kitchen and pots is easier as biogas is a clean fuel and does not emit the levels of soot and other particulate matter produced by burning fuel wood. The slurry produced from the biogas units is a valuable organic fertiliser that can be applied directly to the fields or composted with other

organic material to improve crop yields and reduce the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Saves foreign currency as the alternative fuels, like kerosene and LPG, and chemical fertilisers are imported. Creates rural employment during setup and maintenance. Reduces green house gas emissions and prevents global warming. Cost savings for households in the form of reduced fire wood, kerosene, LPG, chemical fertilisers and pesticides purchases.

How many villages/families have been impacted – what are the cost savings for each family and each village? About 8,000 rural families are covered under this project. If we take five persons per family, we can say around 40,000 June-Aug 2019 / 49

about vfs global people are benefited. The savings from not purchasing chemical fertiliser, kerosene, fuel wood and LPG amounts to about `2,500 per year. Direct savings by the project unit will be `25,000 in the project life time of 10 years. Each unit costs about `7,000 to the beneficiary and the remaining cost of `23,000 is borne through the proceeds of CER sales. Apart from this, the project is spending about `7,000 for 10 years’ maintenance and this amount is also covered through emission offset revenues.

What kind of reactions/interest has this project generated from stakeholders / observers / other town / cities in India? The villages using this model now have a sustainable cooking energy at no cost, and are seeing the improved sanitation. People in the neighbouring non-project villages and areas are also asking for biogas plants. Because of the avoidance of indoor air

pollution, the health of women and children has improved.

How can such projects remain sustainable, and lead to self sufficiency within a community (without external funding)? It is highly difficult to implement the project without financial help from an outside source

Green GAmes in russia

Green Games In March 2019, VFS Global organised the ‘CSR Green Games - Apples for a battery’ activity across 35 cities in Russia, Belarus, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Cyprus and Romania. The drive resulted in proper disposal of 2,400 kg of batteries, which translates to reduced contamination in 48,000 square metres of land and 960,000 litres of water. All those who brought used batteries to the collection points were presented with a green apple as recognition of environmental awareness.

as the unit installation and maintenance costs are beyond the reach of the villagers. It would take about 15 years to get back the investment. Either government assistance or higher than the market CER price are the other alternatives for the project implementation. Here we have to consider the cumulative positive effects of biogas units on climate change.


School to School initiative VFS Global ran a week-long collection drive of educational supplies in their offices across seven major cities in India. The initiative was to aid the ‘School to School’ drive by Goonj, a non-governmental organisation that uses underutilised and excess urban household material as a tool for rural development across 23 states in India. More than 2,500 school supplies for underprivileged children were collected by VFS Global teams in India.

June-Aug 2019 / 51



June-Aug 2019 / 53

About vfs global

Network of VFS Global VISA Application Centres in India Ahmedabad Address: Ground and 1st floor Emerald House, Near Parimal Garden Cross Road, Off C G Road, Ahmedabad – 380006 Missions served: Austria, Italy, The Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Greece, Estonia, Malta, Sweden, Luxembourg, Latvia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Norway, France, Belgium, Slovenia, Portugal and UK / Ireland Address: Ground Floor, Shri Ambika MillsGujarat Chamber Building Ashram Road, Ahmedabad - 380009 Missions served: UAE, South Africa, US, Malaysia, Australia, Turkey, Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, Lebanon and Georgia Address: Unit No.1 & 2, 1st floor Bhikubhai Chambers, Nr. Kochrab Ashram, Ashram Rd, Ellisbridge, Ahmedabad-380006

Address: Brigade Irv, Unit No 108, 1st Floor, Nallurhalli, Whitefield, Bengaluru, Karnataka - 560066 Missions served: UK, Austria, France, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Hungary, Latvia and Sweden

Chandigarh Address: Elante Offices, Entry from Gate No. 3 ,C-313-315, 2nd Floor, Plot no. 178- 178A, Industrial & Business Park, Phase - I, Chandigarh (UT) 160002 Missions served: Canada Address: Ground Floor, SCO - 62 - 63, Sector -8 C, Madhya Marg, Chandigarh, 160008 Missions served: UK Address: Elante Offices, Entry from Gate No. 3, Unit no. B 208- 209, 2nd Floor, Office Block B, Plot no. 178- 178A, Industrial & Business Park, Phase - I, Chandigarh 160002

Missions served: Canada

Bengaluru Address: Global Tech Park, No 11 1st Floor O’ Shaughnessy Road, Langford Town, Bengaluru - 560025 Missions served: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Finland, Germany, Slovakia, Georgia, Hungary, Italy, Laos, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, The Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Latvia, UK, Ireland, MEA, Australia, UAE, Turkey, Lebanon, Ukraine and Thailand Address: Manipal Center South Block, 2nd floor Unit S207 47 Dickenson Road, Bangaluru-560042 Missions served: Greece Address: Unit number 305, 2nd Floor, Level 3, Prestige Atrium, No. 1, Central Street, Bangalore - 560001 Missions served: Japan, Malaysia, South Africa, Vietnam, Dominican Republic and USA Address: Sobha Pearl, 8th Floor, Commissariat Road, Ashok Nagar, Sivanchetti Gardens, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560025 Missions served: Canada

Missions served: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Cyprus, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Estonia, Portugal, Czech Republic, Switzerland, USA, Japan, Latvia, MEA, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey & Vietnam

Chennai Address: Fagun Towers, 2nd and 3rd floor, No 74, Ethiraj Salai, Egmore, Chennai - 600 008

Missions served: Japan, Turkey and Dominican Republic Address: Fagun Mansion, 5th Floor, Ethiraj Salai, Egmore, Chennai – 600 008 Missions served: Canada

Goa Address: Gera Imperium 1, Office No 301, 3rd Floor, Patto Plaza, Panjim Goa - 403001 Missions served: Belgium, Cyprus, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece, France, Hungary, Austria, Latvia, Luxembourg, MEA, Denmark, Estonia, Czech Republic, South Africa, Turkey, Japan, Slovenia, Thailand, Vietnam, Lebanon and UK TEL

Gurugram Address: ILD Trade Center, Unit no 419-420,4th Floor, ILD Tower, Sec-47, Sohna Road, Gurugram -122001 Missions served: Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Hungary, Cyprus, Belgium Japan, Luxembourg, Italy, Malta, Latvia, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam, UK and South Africa

Hyderabad Address: 1-8-384 / 385, Gowra Grand, Sardar Patel Road, Begumpet, Hyderabad - 500016 Missions served: USA

Missions served: France, Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Czech Republic, Greece, Slovenia, Cyprus, Switzerland, Russia, Austria, Laos, Latvia, Luxembourg, Lebanon, Sweden, Finland, Portugal, Malta, Estonia, Croatia, Italy Germany, Hungary, Belgium, Georgia, Canada, Australia, Thailand, Vietnam, MEA, UAE, Ireland and UK

Address: 3rd floor, Zonah Cresent, Road No.12, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad - 500034

Address: Old No.2, New No.3, Sadasivam Street, Gopalapuram, Chennai - 600086

Missions served: Australia

Missions served: Malaysia Address: Good Shepherd, No. 82, Kodambakkam High Road, Nungambakkam, Chennai - 600 034 Missions served: USA Address: ISPAHANI Centre, No 123, 124, Nungambakkam High Road, 1st Floor, Thousand Lights, Chennai - 600 034

Missions served: Canada Address: 206, 2nd Floor, Ashoka Capitol, Banjara Hills Road No: 2, Hyderabad - 500034

Address: 8-2-700, 3rd Floor, Srida Anushka Pride, Road No. 12, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad 500 034 Missions served: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Finland, Greece, Germany, Malta, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Latvia, Norway, Sweden, Slovenia, Switzerland, Ireland and UK Address: Ground Floor, Srida Anushka Pride, Road No 12, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad - 500 034

Missions served: UAE, Thailand, Malaysia, MEA, Japan, Turkey, Croatia, Cyprus and Vietnam

Jaipur Address: Mangalam Ambition Tower, Subhash Marg (Malan Ka Chauraha), C Scheme, Jaipur-302001 Missions served: Germany, Italy, Austria, Latvia, Malta, Georgia, Estonia, Czech Republic, France, Luxembourg, Denmark, Hungary, Cyprus, Turkey, Thailand, South Africa, Japan, Vietnam and UK

Jalandhar Address: Aman Plaza, 3rd Floor, 310, Lajpat Nagar, Mahavir Marg, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Chowk, Jalandhar - 144001 Missions served: Australia, Austria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxemburg, Latvia, Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland, Turkey, Thailand, Japan, Vietnam and USA Address: Canada Visa Application Centre, Aman Plaza, 1st Floor, 310 Lajpat Nagar, Mahavir Marg, Nakodar Chowk Opposite to Lovely Autos, Jalandhar - 144001 Missions served: Canada Address: Midas Corporate Tower, Lower Ground Floor, Plot No, 37, G. T. Road, Jalandhar - 144001 Missions served: UK & Ireland

Kochi Address: S & T Arcade, Kurisupally Road, Ravipuram, Cochin-682015 Missions served: Australia, Thailand, Turkey, Japan, UAE, MEA, UK, Cyprus and Ireland

Vietnam, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovenia, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Australia, UK, Ireland, Malaysia, South Africa, UAE, MEA, South Korea, Turkey, Japan, Georgia and Thailand Address: Rene Tower, 4th Floor, Plot No. AA-I, 1842, Rajdanga Main Road, Kasba, Kolkata 700107 Missions served: Canada Address: Jasmine Tower, 1st Floor, 31 Shakespeare Sarani, Kolkata - 700017 Missions served: USA Address: BIPI Building Omega, Ground Floor Bengal Intelligent Park, Block-EP & GP, Sector-5, Bidhan Nagar, Kolkata 700091 Missions served: China

Lucknow (User Pay)

Address: 7th Floor, Prakash deep Building, Tolstoy Marg, New Delhi

Missions served: UK (This service is currently available on the third Tuesday of every month

Address: No 33, 1st Floor, East Coast Road, Elaipillaichavady, (Opposite to Rajiv Gandhi Govt Hospital), Puducherrry - 605 005

Mumbai Address: Ground Floor, 3rd Floor and 5th Floor Trade Centre, Bandra-Kurla Complex, Bandra (East), Mumbai - 400051 Missions served: UK/Ireland, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Sweden, Croatia, Estonia, Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg, France, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Australia, MEA Attestation & Slovakia Address: Urmi Axis Building, 4th Floor, Behind Famous Studio, Opp. E Moses Road, Mahalaxmi (West), Mumbai - 400011 Missions served: Canada

Missions served: US, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Malta, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Latvia, Vietnam, Swiss

Address: Parinee Crescenzo, 101, 1st Floor, A Wing, G Block, Bandrakurla Complex Bandra East, Mumbai 400051 Missions served: USA

Missions served: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Laos, Luxembourg, Latvia, Lebanon,

Missions served: Austria, Netherland, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Georgia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Laos, Luxembourg, Lebanon, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, China, UAE, Latvia, Russia, Slovakia, South Korea, Ministry of External Affairs (India), Japan, South Africa, UK, Canada, Australia, Ukraine, Turkey, Vietnam and USA

Missions served: Thailand

Address: 8th Floor, Mafatlal Centre, Nariman Point, Mumbai - 400021 Missions served: China


New Delhi Address: Shivaji Stadium Metro Station, Baba Kharak Singh Marg, Connaught Place, New Delhi - 110001

Address: Golden Tulip, Lucknow, 6, Station Road, Lucknow – 226001

Address: 1st Floor, Coastal Chambers, MG Road, Ravipuram, Kochi - 682015

Address: Rene Tower, 5th floor, Plot No. AA-I, 1842, Rajdanga Main Road, Kasba, Kolkata - 700107

Finland, Germany, South Africa, Malaysia OSC, Latvia, Turkey, UAE, Georgia, Thailand, Ukraine, Lebanon, Laos, Greece, Nigeria, Italy, Russia, DVPC, Vietnam & Italy


Missions served: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Luxembourg, Latvia, Switzerland, Turkey, Japan, Georgia & Malta

Pune Address: 4th Floor, E Core/F Core, Marvel edge, Viman Nagar, Pune- 411014 Missions served: Austria, Cyprus, Greece, Luxembourg, Latvia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Belgium, Hungary, Portugal, Italy, Malta, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Japan, Australia, Canada, US, South Africa, Malaysia, Turkey, Thailand, UK/ Ireland, the UAE, Vietnam, Lebanon and Georgia Address: Office 401 Lalwani icon Sakorenagar Pune - 411014 Missions served: Canada


Address: Urmi Axis Building, First Floor, Second Floor, 3rd Floor and 4th Floor, Behind Famous Studio, Opp. E Moses Road, Mahalaxmi (West), Mumbai - 400 011

Address: VFS Global Services Pvt. Ltd , First Floor - Asiatic Business Centre, T c 2/2408-3, Attipra Village, Kazhakuttam, Trivandrum, Kerela - 695583

Missions served: Japan, Australia, UK, Ireland, Dominican Republic, Switzerland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Malta, Slovenia, Portugal,

Missions served: UAE, Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, Estonia, Hungary, Denmark, Vietnam, Czech Republic, Turkey, MEA, UK, Latvia, Malta, Cyprus, Belgium and Japan

June-Aug 2019 / 55

Answers: Red bucket missing, Only two wooden logs in the center, No saw in the hands of first worker, Face of the worker on the right is different, The painter is wearing a cap, The worker at the back has no straps attached to his pants.

Find 6 Differences sudoku

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VFS Global COMPASS (India Edition) June - August 2019  

Complimentary VFS Global Visa Application Centre magazine at centres across India

VFS Global COMPASS (India Edition) June - August 2019  

Complimentary VFS Global Visa Application Centre magazine at centres across India