Sunday, June 10, 2012

What’s the good word?

DHNS – Aakanksha Devi

Language matters

From “shall I compare thee to a summer’s day” to “aal izz well”, conversational language has indeed come a long way!

No matter what the language, people seem to be more influenced by the film and television culture than they are by literature. This may primarily be due to the fact that around 20 years ago, the television wasn’t as common as it is now. Books and stories were - up until the early 90s - the main source of entertainment for the youth, who now continue to carry the torch of the book culture while the new generation has grown up on television.

The television series ‘F.R.I.E.N.D.S.’, which caught the attention of almost all the youngsters at the time, was a huge factor in introducing the city to colloquial ‘lingo’. Words and phrases such as ‘like’, ‘whatever’ and ‘Oh my God’ were popularised by the six characters from the sitcom and from then on, it seems to have stuck on as part of trendy talk.  Moreover, people, especially teenagers, began to emulate the lifestyle of these fictitious characters.

So in doing the things they saw on television, they inevitably began to also relate to the characters. Thereby conversations were not only dominated by discussing programmes but also discussed in the tone and language they were now accustomed to.

Meghna D, a scientist who is a voracious reader says that the reduction in the number of people reading has caused this change. “It’s not really that people are more influenced by film or tv but at a basic level it’s that they don’t know any better.

Literature has taken a back seat. So if you were to speak like Dickens or Chaucer, chances are that only one other person is a group of 10 has understood what you’re talking about,” she says.

So in imitating dialogues, we seem to be losing track of the traditional form of the English language, which according to some youngsters may not be a bad thing.

Vedika R
“In Shakespeare’s time they spoketh formally. Then when the British were here it was Queen’s English. Now it’s tv lingo, the popular culture of our time. It’s quite regressive of people to look down on the new sort of language,” says Vedika R, a student of communication and media.

In addition to just moving away from the book culture, Sahana Das, Head of Communication Studies, Mount Carmel College believes the internet that has had a massive impact on the way youngsters behave and speak.

“I wouldn’t say that it is only television and film that is causing kids or all of us really, to speak differently. I think with the advent of internet, people are exposed to various cultures, languages and media that they pick up from their. And it is not only the language but behaviour too…which is not really a bad thing,” she comments. 

Arjun Varma
Another possible cause for increased colloquialism may well be that film and television characters have mass appeal when compared to the more intangible book characters. Arjun Varma, an independent film maker and script writer says that because there is so little time on hand these days, people take the short cut to literature by watching movies.

“Harry Potter is the best example. Everyone knows about it but has everyone read it? Of course not! I certainly haven’t but I know the dialogues and spells like I know the alphabet,” he chuckles. He also believes that literature characters are looked at as more aspirational.

“People like to be ‘Romeo and Juliet’ but essentially they are ‘Homer and Marge’! So they begin to talk like the characters that are far more true to life…especially like dysfunctional Homer Simpson.” Sahana too feels that language in film and television is more accurate in reflecting the society at the time.

“It’s that film and tv have always mirrored the language of the people while written was considered more intellectual…like the Victorian time. Now however, the lines are blurring and the gap between written and spoken language is fast reducing,” she sums up.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Don’t spin the music, there’s ban-galore

Bangalore, June 4 2012, DHNS: Aakanksha Devi

Lost charm

For longer than we’d like to admit, Bangalore has become a deadpan City. From bustling with life until the wee hours of the morning to being forced to close down by 11 at night, the City has indeed undergone a huge transformation.

And the restriction on dancing and grooving to music on a lively Saturday night, is now but a distant memory for most Bangaloreans. Seemingly the worst hit by the situation however, are the music spinning, energy infusing disc jockeys (DJs).

Despite being a City truly appreciative of music, dance and general partying, the fact that DJs have to stop playing music by 11 pm, has disheartened many of the City’s DJs.

Abdul, a popular international DJ who calls Bangalore his home, says that the City has lost its charm. “It’s sad to have to play catchy music when people can’t even sway their hips to a song. Playing in this City used to be a pleasure. And we DJs used to feed off the crowd’s emotions and play what seemed appreciated. Now we’re pretty much shooting arrows in the dark hoping we hit the right note.”

Although there is more to a DJ than just playing music for everyone to dance to, the common perception is just that. While most people wouldn’t think of a DJ when it came to playing instrumental or slow music, they’d certainly look to one to pump up the volume and infuse energy in party-goers. One such dance and music lover is Aditi Singh who likes to go to quieter places ever since the dancing ban was implemented.

“It’s frustrating to just sit at a table when a Michael Jackson song is playing. For me, it’s pretty impossible. Of course, it isn’t DJs’ fault because it’s a government rule but I find it quite pointless to have a DJ playing energetic music when all we can do is try hard to talk over the sound. It’s a little bit like Robbie Williams singing ‘I don’t wanna rock DJ. But you’re keeping me up all night’,” expresses Aditi.

Therefore, the role of a DJ in our City seems all but defunct when it comes to dancing. As Abdul expresses though, it is now up to the sound mixers to change their style and incorporate music that people will enjoy but not necessary feel is a dance remix.

“I’ve started playing mellow mixes and it’s catching on pretty well. But the younger DJs aren’t really trained so they’re unaware of such nuances. They tend to play only numbers they like or can play well. Those DJs will be forced to shut shop or quickly change their game plan,” he suggests.

Others however feel it is fine for DJs to continue playing peppy music because even if they can’t dance, at least the mood is happy and vibrant. And while the point of a party may be to dance, it isn’t the only way to have fun. Media professional Kirthana Karumbaiah is of the opinion that DJs should continue to do what they do with the hope of bringing back the Bangalore of before.

“I think it’s very important that DJs keep spinning because it isn’t only about being a disco city. It’s about having a good time. Indeed they need to play suitable music for the atmosphere but they seem to have adapted well to that.”

Thus, while some citizens are happy to have the DJ blaring dance music, others think that the profession of music mixing in Bangalore, at least temporarily is pointless. Summing up the mixed feeling of most party goers, Siddanth Sharma, a ‘new’ Bangalorean, says, “I think we’re somewhat forcefully listening to DJs. After all there’s no need to really remix Pitbull or David Guetta!

They’re fast paced to begin with! So I’d just play a an MP3 CD. Honestly, the problem I feel is that we’re hanging on to DJs because we’re unable to let go of the past of Bangalore being a party place.” 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Annoying film critiques.

For a long while I've seen my Mum, who reads the paper cover to cover, completely ignore film reviews. And rightly so. There were no reviews at all. They were plot summaries and spoilers. There wasn't any information about the direction, acting or anything about the making of the film. It was down right useless. More of a "if you don't want to watch the film or haven't the time to then read this".

Slowly and thankfully, that changed. But now it seems that, in most papers, the bigger the star in the film, the better the review. Films that are arty and don't star Shahrukh Khan get a star and a half. While the waste of money, nonsense with the King Khan gets a whopping ***** and a MUST WATCH.

Being a film maker - a very little one at that - I still find it extremely painful to read these reviews. I completely understand that there are good films and there are bad films. But the job of the critique is hardly to tell me whether I should or shouldn't watch the film. He can indeed help in my decision by giving an unbiased opinion. Saying DON'T WATCH THIS FILM, only makes me want to watch it more. And cross my fingers that I like it as well!

Recently, I read a review of Dark Shadows. It starred my all time favourite Johnny Depp AND was directed by my other favourite Tim Burton and it was their best, but I enjoyed it. Yet the review had Johnny Depp as a very unrealistic vampire. A "heavily powdered man with deathly dark circles and a bad manicure" to be precise! What? So you've seen a real vampire or are you so influenced by the Cullen Clan that you think that's what all vampires should look like? Diamondesque and red eyed? Jokers! It's a different interpretation for crying out loud! A more "vampirey" one at that!

Anyway, I am not here to defend my man Depp...that's another post altogether! So moving Yes the film critic of before needs very quickly to return. Adding to my woes of awful film critics, with the advent of the internet...everyone is a critic. I mean...some one can absolutely hate this blog yet my ever loving sister and my mother, will continually read it and make opinions without voicing their bad reviews. But when it comes to film and's an absolute war out there. Youtube is a highly entertaining source of amusement. But sometimes it gets on my nerves. People who absolutely despise a certain actor/actress should really stay away from watching the concerned trailer or film clip. It seems logical no? Why would you 'torture' yourself only so you can anger a fan? Do you really have nothing else to do? Surely there's a crossword left on Earth you've not completed! 

But the consolation there is that it's free speech and we all have a right to opinions. Just don't force it down my throat. Just lay down the facts...I'll make my own conclusion. I have a mind of my own thank you very much.

Monday, May 14, 2012

A simple yet powerful narrative

Apr 24, 2012 : Film Screening

Almost documentary in its nature, ‘Elephant Boy’ is a wonderful black and white adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Toomai of the Elephants’.

It was recently screened at the National Gallery of Modern Art in collaboration with the International Music and Arts Society.

The screening also included an informative and in-depth introduction to Sabu Dastagir, the lead actor in the film. The film was directed by Robert J Flaherty and Zoltan Korda and shot in the private forests of the erstwhile Mysore Maharaja.

Brilliant in its narration and cinematography, this 1937 film has a simple yet powerful narrative, that tells the tale of Toomai and his dreams of becoming a hunter like his father and forefathers. A dream that will come true when ‘he sees elephants dance’.

On watching a film that is over 80-years-old, young film-maker and audience member Kiran Ayathan says it was interesting but marginally annoying. “Although I liked the story for its simplicity, I found the British characters highly condescending which ruined the experience for me,” she says.

Although it’s centred around Toomai, played by then 13-year-old Sabu, the film gives a clear insight into the lives of Indian villagers, hunters and of course the British officials.

The village ‘sahib’, Petersen, played by Walter Hudd, starts to hire mahouts, including Toomai’s father, for the annual round up of elephants. On hearing that, Toomai has no one to care for him, Petersen’s heart melts and he allows the boy to tag along.

One night, Toomai’s father spots a tiger lurking about camp and immediately wakes up Petersen. The two go out into the dark to kill the animal. Unfortunately, Toomai’s father is killed in the fight.

The over-the-top cruel Rham Lal is then brought on to look after Kala Nag. Distraught at the death of her mahout and angered by the way she is now treated, Kala Nag lashes out, injuring Rham Lal.

Rham Lal is then paid off by Petersen to keep quiet or else leave the safe boundaries of the camp. Just before the elephant search is called off, Toomai notices Kala Nag sneak into the forest. He follows the beast and is led deep into the jungles, where from atop Kala Nag, sees a herd of pachyderms stomping their feet as if dancing.

On returning to camp, Toomai tells his tale of the elephants dance. Almost patronisingly Petersen says he can now become a hunter. The film closes with Toomai being taken under the able wing of Machua Appa, sahib’s right-hand man, so his lifelong dream can finally come true.

Kripa, who came to watch the film hoping it would be like ‘Jungle Book’, says she was a bit taken aback by the real and authentic visuals. “Sabu is such a natural.

The whole film was very realistic. It was jarring at times but very intriguing,” she says.

This is what dreams are made of...

Aakanksha Devi, Apr 24, 2012 :


Breaking away from the traditional expectation of being doctors, lawyers, engineers or even businessmen, several youngsters are taking the road less travelled in terms of their career.

Alternate careers like acting, film-making, music and even the risky scuba diving are becoming the norm with the youth of today. Despite being educated in the usual fields of arts, sciences or commerce, these youngsters choose to pursue their passion and convert their dream careers into real ones.

Rohin Unvalla
Rohin Unvalla, a BCom graduate from the City, gleefully broke away from the business sector to take up a course in scuba diving. “I just love the water. Swimming and diving make me happy.

Business wasn’t something I disliked but it was far down on my list of hobbies. In fact before this, I was a professional dance instructor,” he says.

Now almost three years later, Rohin works with the coast guard in the Andamans and is a familiar face on the rescue squads on the Indian coastline. “It’s just something I had to do for myself. It gives me a feeling of unbelievable elation,” says the diver.

Mario Jerome
But perhaps it isn’t only passion that fuels these career changes. With an MSc in Bioscience from Leeds University, Mario Jerome realised he wasn’t getting optimum wages.
“I wasn’t very happy with the remuneration and more importantly the type of work. So I started to spend more time on working with a production house which was more fulfilling,” he says. He now heads the business and planning department of a Bangalore-based production house and sometimes, gives creative inputs too.

“I am a people’s person and this job is perfect for me. I speak with people and also learn the tricks of the trade when it comes to film-making. I miss the sciences sometimes but this suits my personality and my balance book better,” he says.

Sudhanva Atri
Parents too seem to have eased up on their children. Hardly a few years ago, parents lived their failed dreams through their offspring, giving the youngsters little, if any, freedom at all in choosing their careers. Manorama Ramesh says that initially, only she wholeheartedly supported her son Sudhanva’s desire to become a photographer, but her husband soon came around.

“I have nothing but pride and respect for my son. It’s important that he does what he wants. As parents, we gave our opinions but we never forced them on our children,” says the proud mother.

Sudhanva believes that doing what he truly loved gave him more inspiration to excel than doing something that he just happened to be good at. “There’s nothing like being so close to nature and capturing moments that I’ll never see again. It’s like living a dream...actually I am living my dream,” he chuckles.

Akhil Iyer
Akhil Iyer is another youngster who gave up being a brilliant computer engineer to pursue his childhood dream of being an actor and model. “I aced my exams but being on stage gives me another high altogether,” he confesses.

When asked if he found it hard at times, he quickly pips in that it was difficult almost all the time. “It’s a constant uphill climb. I don’t know when I’ll get a script or a shoot. Most times I don’t even know what I’m endorsing until I’m at the shoot.

But I wouldn’t trade anything for the satisfaction of knowing that I did what I truly wanted to do,” he says.

So it seems that no matter how hard or unstable the career path may be, this generation has set sight on slightly different horizons. And there’s surely no stopping them from turning their dreams into reality.

Summer food at its best

April 21, 2012, DHNS:

Aside from just a plain, boring salad, I want to give guests the option of a lighter but filling main course this summer,” says Jaydeep Patil, senior kitchen executive at Le Jardin, The Oberoi. And in the blistering summer, this extensive seasonal menu is indeed a refreshing change. With appetisers, soups, entrées and desserts that serve as a great respite from the heat, the range of dishes has something for even those with specific culinary requirements.

Chef Patil says that rather than continually reinventing the same old dishes, he wanted to experiment with different techniques and garnishes to prepare the food. The inspiration to evolve the existing menu came from the seemingly obvious reason of using fresh, seasonal products. “I wanted to use fruits, vegetables and produce that are current and seasonal so that the food complemented the weather because the weather really determines what we eat and enjoy at various times of the year,” he notes.

Using exotic berries and fruits like raspberries, avocado and melon, the appetisers are a great way to start the meal. The choice includes a fabulous beetroot carpaccio with chevre, orange and berries. For those who are less adventurous, the chef also has proscuitto wrapped tenderloin that is lightly grilled and goes beautifully before either the cold gazpacho soup or the seafood and fennel broth. “I’ve tried to incorporate people’s favourites like prawn and tenderloin but treated them differently. Most of the meat on the menu is grilled or smoked and has a fruity flavour as opposed to the heavy, butter-based, rich texture of most winter dishes,” he adds.

In his introduction to the main course, Chef Patil emphasises that the seasoning of the meats is mostly made up of tangy lemon sauces with sides that are cooling and rejuvenating like celery, grapes and olives. And avoiding heavier meats like pork and lamb, the main course offers dishes like tuna with broccoli, rucola and California grapes and the great favourite and highly appetising roast chicken in herb sauce.

“I’ve retained traditional dishes like crepes and ravioli but with herbs and relishes like capers and sage that really add flavour to the dish making it subtly tasty and not overpowering or pungent,” he says.

The desserts make for a fine culinary experience. One can choose from either an unusual yet delightful pavé of Belgian chocolate and passion fruit or the very cooling and energising raspberry and chili sorbet.

From appetisers to desserts, Chef Jaydeep’s summer treats truly do leave you comfortably full while also helping you cope with the rising mercury levels.

Food-lovers can enjoy this summer menu till April 30.

Packed with a universal truth

April 21, 2012, DHNS:

A tale of displacement, adventure, conflict, disappointment yet hope. That was the essence of the play ‘Boy With a Suitcase”, by ‘Do I Know You?’, a collaborative theatre partnership between Ranga Shankara and Schnawwl-National Theatre, Germany.

The play opens with a fusion song in Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Spanish, German and Russian, immediately signifying the global reach of the story to follow. Shrunga B V from Bangalore, plays 12-year-old Naz, upon whom adventure and unwanted circumstances are dumped. He is forced to leave his home and parents due to conflict, in search of a land that is ‘heaven on Earth and milk and honey’.

In this case, the destination was the aspirational London, where his sister lives. Naz, having being brought up on stories of Sindbad dutifully told by his mother, takes on the misfortune like his sailor hero would — as an adventure.  Director Andrea Gronemeyer from the Schnawwl-National Theatre says the aim was to show that Naz could be from a particular country, but his problems, are universal. “It’s more than just a story. It is reality. Children and adults alike can relate to the characters despite the difference in German and Indian culture.”

About the experience and response from the Indian audience, Andrea says that because of the better grasp of the English language, it is far more fun and fulfilling to perform in India. “The people here get the nuances and understand the illusions. Hearing them sigh and laugh at the exact moments we’d imagined only means that we’ve reached our goal of sensitising people with art.”

Although the play focuses on Naz, it is in fact a flashback that is being narrated by an older Naz, who has clearly escaped his earlier misfortunes. This older version, performed brilliantly by David Benito Garcia, holds the story together, shuttling the audience beautifully from past to present.

Another significant character is the vibrant Krezia, played by Lea Whitcher, another young refugee who befriends Naz on his ‘voyages’. The support caste included M D Pallavi, Nikolai Jegorow in varying roles as well as Coordt Linke and Konarak Reddy, who also provided live background music.

Fourteen-year-old Sakshi Sinha spoke for her brother, Sourav as well when she said that she was moved by the show. “It made me think of what I would do if I left home. I guess the point is that eventually no matter what your background, people all over the world struggle.” 

Be it border control guards or hungry wolves, Krizia and ‘Sindbad’ (as Naz introduces himself to the girl) overcome several hurdles, as they run towards the elusive land where troubles cease to be. And in an end that is hopeful but realistic, Naz does get to his sister, but finds the promised land “no different from home and is hell on Earth.”

Artistic Director, Arundhati Nag, says that the collaboration was a great step forward for theatre. “To see three years of hard work culminate in this magial show is very inspiring. The artistes are from six countries with only two whose prime language is English, which shows it’s not a mix but a true blend.”

Fresh take on humour

April 17 2012, Aakanksha Devi
Brilliant Act

Failure versus success. Studies versus sports. Big brother versus little one. And an audience, at the Chowdiah Memorial Hall, left rolling with laughter!

Such was the effect of the play ‘Big B’, co-directed and co-authored by Sayeed Alam and Niti Sayeed.

Brought to the City by the Bangalore Royals Round Table for the cause of ‘Freedom through Education’, this ‘IND-lish’ rendition of Munshi Premchand’s 1934 short story, Bade Bhai Saheb, ‘Big B’, took the audience back to the era of the ‘Raj’ to a hostel room of brothers Srikant and Samrat Prasad Pande. In line with the cause, the play tells tales of Srikant, played by Sayeed Alam, and Samrat, played by Ram Naresh, at school, satirically critiquing the education system.

Opposites in nature and aptitude, the brothers are constantly, though unwittingly, at loggerheads. The typical father figure to the intelligent Samrat but with no credibility, Srikant is an epitome of failure. Despite remaining in the ninth standard for five years, he dutifully admonishes his younger brother using broken English to literally translate his precious Hindi.

And while suffering seems to be Samrat’s birthright, he still looks up and even looks out for his brother by warning him from going out on dark evenings saying it was too ‘nighty’! Unwilling, however, to accept that he isn’t the ideal mentor, Srikant continues to give Samrat unsolicited advice causing the younger lad’s ‘head to eat circles!’ Or for current times, when Hindi is not frowned upon, “uska sar chakkar kha raha tha!”

This performance by Delhi’s Pierrot’s Troupe, used flashbacks by introducing a third character — a 90-year-old version of Samrat, played by Ekant Kaul. Sayeed says that the play has been done so many times, a fresh take was needed. “The charm of theatre is that it takes one back to the age of the characters. And the challenge is in performing something that is true to an era we haven’t seen.”

While the audience was in splits throughout, it was interesting to see that people empathised with the characters. Nikhil Y, who studied in boarding school, said that times indeed remained unchanged. “Some seniors were terrible at studies yet they insisted we study hard. This was lovely. It showcased the sheer genius of both Premchandji and the theatre company.”

By retaining the original period of the 1930s, the play interweaved past with present, celebrating greats like Gandhiji while ‘making jokes fly’ (mazak udana!) about Ashish Nehra.

Sayeed appreciatively said, “Performing in Bangalore is always spectacular. It’s so encouraging when people actually pay to watch shows.” The audience was also forthcoming in their praise. Theatreperson Arushi said that she was apprehensive of a ‘Hinglish’ play but found the show fabulous. “The performers were brilliant and the humour so excellent; it’s a refreshing change from the usual crappy comedy.”

Her husband Amitabh was also greatly impressed by the show. “It was nice, clean, simply and funny,” he says between laughs as he recalled dialogues.

A splendid show of culture

May 2, 2012, DHNS:

MVJ College of Engineering organised its much awaited inter-collegiate cultural
competition recently.

Aptly named Swayam – which means self, the fest followed the theme of
‘Incredible India’.

The event not only brought together students from different colleges from all over the State but also gave them an opportunity to showcase their talent in over 20 competitions that took place over the two days.

The students battled it out in various events including debate, music, dance and artistic and sporting events and it wasn’t only for the trophy or the cash prize

It was in essence for the pride of their alma mater!

 In keeping with the theme, the light music event, brought out the enviable cultural diversity of India as the contestants melodiously serenaded the audience and judges.

And the judges must surely have had a hard time deciding on the winner
but eventually, St John’s Medical College team was declared the winners.

One of the highlights of the fest, the ‘Battle of Bands’, saw ‘Band Hungry’ from SVIT walk away with the top prize.

But that hardly took away the talent or the brilliant performances by other bands. On a very different note, the debate battle drew a huge crowd as people poured in to hear the discussion — and a rather fierce one at that — about whether or not privatisation will lead to less corruption in India.

Though Nithin Yashes from SJMC was announced the winner, the arguments
of the other participants would certainly have given most politicians a good
run for their money.

Adding to the football frenzy in the City, MVJCE also came up with a novel game of football on water.

And after a whole lot of slipping, sliding, splashing and gliding, this unusual event saw a team from MVJCE, led by Vijay, emerge as the winners.

Meanwhile, in a far more graceful event, the dance troupe Pralaya from
BNMIT, made sure their routine was that much more refined as they claimed top spot in the Indian Dance Competition.

All through the two-day fest, the atmosphere was simply electrifying.

The auditoriums as well as the outdoor stages had audiences braving the sun and the occasional rain, to cheer on their college mates while the competitors took the stage, striving for perfection amidst worthy opponents.

There was not a hint of negative emotion in the entire place showing the true spirit and passion of a competition.

All one could hear was the ringing of college names and cheers for the performers.
It was commendable that even those who had lost still walked away with their heads held high.

The respect they gave to each other shone through the competitive spirit making it impressively noteworthy.

Swayam 2012 came to an end with a delightful performance by eminent singers of the Kannada film Industry.

Shamitha Malnad, Deepak Dodderi and Santosh Venky had the crowd on their feet, dancing and tapping to the popular Kolaveri Di and Chamak Challo — a fitting conclusion to the glorious fest.

What’s their age again?

May 4, 2012, DHNS: MATURE KIDS

With technology moving at a phenomenal speed, there is a new ‘toy’ out almost every other day to amuse oneself with.

This, though, seems to have brought about a huge change in children and teenagers of the modern day.

When previously, a 12-year-old could be seen playing merrily in a park, climbing trees, the modern day child is too busy playing games on a recently upgraded iPad.

And with content of all sorts freely available to these adolescents, it is hardly surprising that they appear far more precocious than ever before. Some parents are even happy to leave children to their gadgets and gizmos just to have them out of the way.

Siddarth J, father of a seven-year-old boy, says that if his son didn’t have the iPad to distract him, he would be uncontrollable. “When the family goes for an outing, the only way to keep my boy from creating havoc is by giving him the ‘pad’. He’s so engrossed in it that there’s thankfully no time for mischief,” he says.

Others, however, are appalled at the way teenagers find it essential to have the latest phones and gadgets as if they are a symbol of their status. So much so that if they don’t have anything flashy like an iPad or a smartphone to flaunt, they are ostracised.

Sapana Appaiah, a part-time wedding planner and full-time mother, says that she has to make a conscious effort to keep her children away from this new craze of technology.

“My daughter is one of the few kids in her school who doesn’t have a phone. If I were to give her one, she’d become obsessed like the others her age and soon become detached from reality. Eighty per cent of the children are out of control. I’d rather she had a few down-to-earth friends than several ‘wannabe’ types,” she says.

She does, however, mention that technology within limitations would possibly make youngsters more aware. “But it’ll have to be strictly controlled which I think it’s already too late for,” she adds.

But the issue goes deeper than just technology. According to child psychologist Sanjana Mudappa, this alarming change in children is also the result of almost blase parenting. “Parents think that giving in to their children’s whims makes them cool.

And the kids think by mimicking adults, they become adults,” she says. Under the wrong assumption that drinking, smoking and partying makes them adult-like, children do as they see their parents and older relatives do. That, according to Sanjana, is very harmful in shaping the personality of these children.

And in addition to being irrational and incorrect, it gives these youngsters a false sense of identity. “Teenagers and even younger children have grown up quicker than is necessary or even healthy. They have no sense of who they really are,” she says.

Reflecting a similar belief, Ivy D’Souza, a teacher at a well-known ICSE school in Malleswaram, says children are more and more confused these days due to the fact that with technology, they are living in an almost virtual world.

“These kids are losing about ten crucial years of their lives. It’s an unreal jump in mentality from 12 to 20. And unfortunately, I don’t see that changing for a long while — it may just get worse,” she laments.

The evolution of role models

May 14, 2012, DHNS:

About 30 years ago, people wanted to be great, respectable figures of society. They wanted to be a prime minister. In the 90s that changed a little bit. Shah Rukh Khan, Sachin Tendulkar, the Backstreet Boys and even the Spice Girls became role models. It had indeed strayed from the normal and achievable path but not completely unattainable.
unrealistic Children's role models have changed over the years.After all, if the little Daniel Radcliffe could become the world-famous Harry Potter, what stopped others from having the same fate!

But as times have changed and children aren’t as innocent as they used to be, their role models too have changed. They have become more fantastic and for practical purposes, impossible.

Siblings Varuni and Vikram Rao are exactly those sort of adolescents. While Varuni, 13, wants to be a ‘good’ Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean, her younger brother, Vikram was a bit more focused on saving the world. He said he wanted to be the Iron Man. “I really want to have my own lab with robots and have a suit with which I can save the universe and do anything,” he says.

The advent of the internet too has contributed towards making those between the age of five and late teens, undoubtedly more aware and exposed. However, the quality of information and content they are exposed to leaves much to be desired.  Sonali Nikhil, mother of 4-year-old Ishaan, says that although she’s very particular about what her son is watching, most mums leave their kids to their own antics with the TV remote. “Kids are exposed to sometimes inappropriate things causing their imagination to run wild. There’s just no stopping a child’s mind. And though it is innocent and harmless while they’re young, wanting to be unreal and outlandish adults like Jack Sparrow isn’t very good for the child in the long run. A rum-drinking, thieving and flirty pirate is hardly the best role model, no matter how charming the character is,” comments Sonali.

Vitradika Rajan, a counsellor, says that if the desire to be something outrageous is outgrown then it isn’t harmful. “What is worrying however, is that youngsters are lured by quick money and fame. They’re taken in by this celebrity status which leads them to believe that even the impossible is possible.”

She also suggested that because of technology, people have become more lazy and the idea of becoming famous by actually working is alien to the new generation. “For teenagers, being in the limelight no matter what, is more appealing than being a doctor saving lives,” she laments.

The reason children earlier wanted to be teachers, doctors, nurses and pilots was because they came across these people face to face. This made the source of inspiration for the children’s future more tangible and realistic.

Mediaperson Kiran A is also of the opinion that superheroes and film characters have become so convincing that kids are bound to find the characters more appealing than their paediatrician or teacher! “Kids are living in a make-believe world for longer periods than before. It’s like a virtual reality with all these video games. So in a way, they’re not actually more exposed but are exposed to different things. Unfortunately and very misleadingly, makes them believe that this fantasy world and lifestyle does exist,” she points out.

Two sides of the same coin

May 5, 2012, DHNS:


In a transition similar yet not as sinister as Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, several professionals in the City are making time to pursue their interests and hobbies that are as conceivably far from their careers as possible.

One such person is Dr Bryan Nobbay, a well-known dermatologist who has chosen to follow his passion for theatre.

He was recently seen in ‘When Did You Last See Your Trousers?’ among several other plays over the years. 

“One needs a break from work. Life isn’t about working like a donkey. I love being in plays and meeting like-minded people.

It’s a beautiful distraction because work and play are like yin and yang! It’s all about balance,” he says.

What’s more interesting is that rather than taking the focus away from their
careers, pursuing hobbies in fact rejuvenates them. R Dev, a businessman from Monday to Friday, and a veteran wildlife photographer during the weekends, says that it helps break the monotony and “pumps” him up for the coming week.

“I’m far more passionate about photography than business. So giving up my hobby is absolutely out of the question. Photography gives me a greater sense of satisfaction than when I make a profit in the market,” he exclaims.

And it isn’t only the older generation that is finding time for hobbies. Robin D’Souza, a software engineer, spends most of his evenings and weekends dancing.
 “Dancing is my life and my passion. Work is just a part of life for me,” he says.
Not only does Robin participate in competitions but he is also an instructor for several dance forms with the dance troupe Tarantismo. “After all if we only worked in firms and businesses, arts and culture would completely die out,” says the dancer.

Some people also seem so passionate about their hobby, that they pay more attention to it.

Twenty five-year-old Sonal Bhuwalka, of the steel company Bhuwalka Pipes, says she’s so focussed on ‘creative packaging’ that work has taken a backseat.

“I always liked to accessorise things. So now, I design gift boxes and decorate things like trays and ring boxes for weddings. It makes me happy and doing what I love is eventually, most important,” she says.

That attitude seems to be fast spreading. Chandni Jain, who deals with real estate, has found that baking is taking over as a priority.

“Making desserts distracts me from work. It’s a fantastic way for me to unwind,” she says. She experiments with different recipes and makes a minimum of two desserts a day for her neighbours and friends. “Recently though, I’ve started baking for parties.

I haven’t started charging for them though. Why monetise a passion?” asks Chandni.
To retain the enjoyment factor, it is perhaps beneficial to separate work from play.

“Initially I only did photography when I was younger, but unfortunately it didn’t pay my bills! Besides, I enjoyed it less and felt guilty when I got paid for the prints,” reveals Dev. So profession to pay bills and passion to fuel the soul… it’s the balance of life!

Monday, February 13, 2012

BLR – COORG – BLR. All in a day's work.

I love holidaying. It’s probably an inherited gene from my Mum who eternally has wanderlust. This leads us to pick up on any opportunity to HOLIDAY. Which is why, you’ll understand the reason I planned a 1 day trip with my friends to Coorg – The Scotland of South India. A.K.A. the massive coffee land with delicious pork curry.

A colleague of mine was to be married in Coorg on the 28th of January. And after months of detailed and focussed planning, it was agreed that we’d drive down the 300 odd kilometres to get there. A lovely lad even booked us beautiful rooms in a hilltop bed-and-breakfast. Needless to say, like all plans, this one too got canned. From 6 wanderers we were reduced to 3 enthusiastic girls.

So off we went at 10am hoping to get to our destination by two. Oh and yes, we now had an extra seat. The third musketeer was a no show! But it worked out well for my rather large picnic basket. It now blissfully sat within easy of my eternally food finding hands., waiting to get away from the city. And from a swanky car driven by an equally swanky boy, we found ourselves at the Mysore Road Bus Station. Ah well at least it was an air-conditioned bus!

It’s hard really to say the journey was splendid. It wasn’t. But it wasn’t horrific either. We had a couple of stops for food and other necessities (yes, apparently drinking Coconut water on the highway and halting to pick up random non-ticketed people has become a necessity) and eventually made our winding way to Mercara – Coorg at 4pm.

My travel mate and I know had this daunting task ahead of us. 1. Find a vehicle to get to the “home stay”. 2. Find “home stay” 3. Find a way to speak in the local people in order to a. Find a vehicle to get to the “home stay” and b. Find “home stay”. And now that it is clear that we have no idea what to do and how to do, let us go about figuring out this task!

After much persuasion using some semblance of sign language and frantic waving of arms, we got into an auto rickshaw and pretty decent one at that. So off we went in the general direction of “Balakrishna Niwas” – the afore mentioned ‘homestay’. Thanks to my memory (It’s as good as that of a half dead goldfish) I managed to direct my travelmate and the auto driver up the completely wrong hill. Luckily, the gentleman we ran into gave us accurate directions to the place with of course, a brief history lesson on how he knows Mr. Babu Sommaiah. They were class mates you see!

On reaching hill number 2, we realised that we had a mountain to climb. No seriously. The vehicle couldn’t climb the gradient and as I realised later, neither could my co-traveller! But somehow (she clawed and crawled up) got up the hill and to the quaint Balakrishna Niwas.

It was truly a lovely sight. The place even had its own personal hill. Yea that’s right! Some more climbing!

We were given an attic room with glass windows instead of walls. With the sun setting over the horizon, the view was perfect. It was absolutely worth the trek up to get to watch the golden and orange hues lazily withdraw into darkness across coffee plantations. And some tea with piping hot pakoras made it that much better.

True to its website ‘Balakrishna Niwas’ was indeed the “perfect setting to rest your body and still the mind”. We walked up the hill and spent the rest of the even gazing at the undulating hills and fields as they faded into oblivion until the moon came out. As gorgeous as the place seemed in daylight, it was perhaps more so at night. For the first time in many months I actually saw shooting stars. Ah...absolute bliss.

The night was made even better by the spectacular dinner! Although it did come onto the table only at 10 at night! Since we were two young, innocent, famished, tired (and lazy) girls, we decided against wandering into town for dinner. So we took up the owner Mr.Babu on his offer to have tradition Coorgi food. And my my...what a treat it was. The chef and staff we all from Orissa which was lovely as my co-traveller was from there too. So after a brief exchange of “oh you’re from there” and “ooh I’ve been there too”, we got on with the fabulous dinner of Pandi curry (pork curry), chicken masala, akki roti (rice roti), sautéed potatoes, ladies finger, rice, dal, and pumpkin curry. Mmmm perfect!

We went for a stroll around the plantation and then made our weary way back to beds. And you can’t stay awake even if you tried. What with the trek up, the meal and the serene surroundings. Nature will herself sing you a lullaby. And then gently wake you up too!

We woke up to the dazzling sun streaming in from the glass panel and that is when I realised that this was really a relaxation haven. The hospitable staff lived up to their expectations and gave us a spectacular breakfast of idilis, sambar, aloo parathas and fresh juice. It really was unfortunate that we had to leave immediately after the wedding. I was just about getting used to the pampering!

The wedding was a lovely event and it goes without saying that it was great fun. What more can one expect when there’s free flowing alcohol, unlimited supplies of good food and great company! And of course, a newly married happy couple!

We just managed to get away from the wedding in time to pack, change and rush to the bus station to catch out bus home. It had hardly been 24 hours since we even got there and we were ready to get back home. But as they say, girls will be girls. So we found exactly 7 minutes to do some shopping before we got on the bus back to Bangalore.

Despite the hectic nature of the trip and the long detours that our bus took, one things was certain...COORG...we’ll be back!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Nepal – The Ultimate Adrenalin Rush

If you enjoy the thrill of jumping off a mountain bridge into a gorge, or like the adrenalin rush of floating (hardly!) down the mighty Himalayan rivers or perhaps even fancy a shot at climbing Mount Everest then Nepal is THE place to go.

Flying into the country itself is a bit of an adventure, as the towering snow-clad mountains provide the perfect obstacle course for the pilots. If your heart is still intact on landing then perhaps you are fit enough to carry on with you holiday!

Kathmandu is a delightful city with the perfect blend of old and modern. You really can fit in somewhere. But for those with an eye for adventure and excitement head straight to Thamel.

The heart of adventure and the life of the city, Thamel has the ability to convert a fraidy cat into a brave, daring eagle!

The atmosphere there will make you want to climb mountains and walk with the Yeti. The streets are filled with tourists and locals bustling about either shopping for antiques, pirated DVDs or investing in mountaineering gear. But most will just be soaking in the vibrancy in the air. And don’t panic if you suddenly find yourself singing out loud or skipping along the street. Just follow the music and let it lead the way. Most likely it will take you straight to the Rum Doodle Bar and Restaurant.

Aside from bumping into people who have possibly just climbed Mount Everest, the food and music at this place is outstanding. You’ll find autographed footprints (yes, of that mysterious Yeti, of course!) all over the walls with success message from mountaineers, following the tradition that began with the autograph of Sir Edmund Hilary himself. You can join the ranks with your own ‘Veni, Vidi, Vici’ message too.

When or rather if you manage to get out of Rum Doodle, you may want to dive into the tourist offices to finalise your other adventure trips, primarily because you do need permission to go both rafting and trekking. If you’re going trekking (congratulations on being so fit), it is advisable that you go about the whole exercise officially because there are taxes and fees to be paid for climbing. Yes, you do the hard work and pay for it!

Besides obviously mountaineering, most people make a bee-line to Nepal for white water rafting, and make no mistake, it is absolutely worth the courage and partial insanity to navigate rivers like the Kali Gandaki, the Karnali or the Bhote Kosi - all of which are further up in the mountains. In addition to the sheer thrill of riding the rapids and rough white waters, the scenery is so breath-taking, you really must try to keep your eyes open despite the looming rapids. If you are daring enough, you could also go kayaking down these rivers and hope that you navigate correctly to rejoin your party for lunch!

While you are on a rafting trip, you could also throw in some canyoning. If you like to climb, walk, swim, jump and rappel, then you are sure to enjoy this. It involves rappelling down deep gorges, sliding down water falls when there is no other path and swimming across rivers while following the path the canyon has set. It’s best you use waterproof bags for cameras and other electronics because when there is no rock or sand beaches, the only way to go forward is to swim.

In and around Pokhara, a lovely lake town just a 20-minute flight from Kathmandu, you’ll find several mountain biking tracks as well as hiking paths. Pokhara is also the starting point for most mountain climbers. It is also close to Sarangkot, another mountain village which over looks the Himalays and has Pokhara for its front yard. The walk up to Sarangkot to see the sunrise is tiring yet highly fulfilling when you see the vista. Also, once you’re up there, you might as well put those adventure boots back on and treat yourself to some paragliding so you can have a birds eye view of the Annapurna Mountain Range and the glistening Phewa Lake.

Now if you have really toughened up and gathered your beastly courage and are raring to go on, I strongly recommend you make your way to Bhote Kosi. Located on the Kathmandu-Lhasa highway, this area is the ultimate paradise for thrill seekers. It’s got the white water river for possibly the best rafting experience as well as a host of other extreme sports. The exact place you want to head to is The Last Resort. No really it is, because beyond it lies the mighty China!

Only a three hour drive away from the capital city, The Last Resort is a dream come true for the venturesome. They offer a variety of extreme, adventure sports including, bungee jumping, Canyon Swing, Canyoning and high ropes.

It is located on an exotic mountain ridge, with the Bhote Kosi River beneath and can only be reached by crossing a simple suspension bridge at a height of 160m. Remember this bridge though, because this is the one you’ll soon be diving off when you go bungee jumping.

Considered to be one of the most spectacular jumps globally, due to its location and free fall, the bungee jump gives you the ultimate adrenalin rush. But if you don’t think you can stomach the thought of plummeting towards a gorging river, - head first at that - then maybe you could opt for the canyon swing where in you are harnessed around the waist and jump feet first off the bridge and then are swung 240meters between the canyons. Of course, both the bungee and the swing have their thrill but swing is in all likelihood the lesser evil. And if you hesitated at the top then don’t pretend you made a lovely swallow dive because you have been captured on camera! You’ll even get a tee-shirt that says you bravely took the plunge along with the DVD of the graceful (or not) jump.

No need to sign up for climbing because you automatically, get your share of climbing. To make your way back to the resort you have to trudge up the mountain face and skip over little rivulets which in itself is a baby adventure! Be sure to get gather you wits about you, along with your breath and senses and focus after the jumps before you begin you ascent. If you fail to do so you might end up in the river without a harness or raft!

I recommend staying over at the resort in one of their luxurious safari tents and perhaps wind down with a drink in their dip pool while enjoying the live music in the background.

After all of this, if you still have some nerve and courage left over then sit back and enjoy a mountain flight which takes you within touching distance of the Himalayan range (don’t expect to be hugging Mount Everest though). After all, you deserve some glory after your adventure trip. At least you can tell the world you went all the way up to the peak of the highest mountain in the world – in an airplane!