Lifestyle en Sat Mar 06 10:53:51 IST 2021 pandemic-allowed-us-to-reflect-review-and-reimagine-noted-jazz-musicians-balani-brothers <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Christina Dayal always wanted to play the saxophone. Growing up in Delhi, the 22-year-old was exposed to all genres of music by her father—from Bollywood songs to ghazals. She loved singing in her school choir group. Later, with her best friend Jason she went on to form a jazz and blues band in college.</p> <p>Dayal commands a powerful presence in her four-member band called 'All Jazzed Up' for her New Orleans-style vocals. Even so, she couldn't muster the courage to pick up the saxophone. It was only when she completed her studies at the Global Music Institute (GMI) last year that she felt she knew how music really works and found the confidence to teach herself to play the sax. "I entered GMI as a vocalist and came out as a complete musician. Earlier, I could not bring myself to play the instrument because I hardly saw women pick it up. But when lockdown happened last year, I decided to just go with it and play the instrument. Now, it is a fixture in our band. And the audience absolutely loves the sax, even if you play little of it," says Dayal who has sung and played the sax in a number of live gigs in Delhi ever since the lockdown was lifted. "Studying under the amazing faculty of GMI like Tarun Balani, Ujwal Nagar, and others have really helped me evolve as a musician," she adds.</p> <p>It has been 10 years since the Balani brothers, Aditya and Tarun, set up the GMI to introduce a more progressive idiom of teaching contemporary music, to resemble the training they received in their alma mater, the Berklee College of Music in Boston. The brothers have been praised for injecting freshness and verve into India's jazz scene and they continue to do so by roping in some of the best teaching staff at GMI which is now located in a pristine campus at Greater Noida. Aditya Balani talks to THE WEEK about how GMI has grown and the transformation wrought by the pandemic.</p> <p><b>The playing field for students interested to study contemporary music is rather small and limited in India. How do you seek to fill this gap? How do you want to stand out?</b></p> <p>The playing field is smaller when compared to other streams, but is growing steadily. As more career opportunities are evolving in the performing arts and entertainment industry, the field is getting more structured and gaining the attention of aspiring young professionals. One of the major changes we have seen in the last few years is that many students are eager to start their professional music education right after completing high school to get a head start. Earlier, it would be usually after finishing another academic college degree.</p> <p>We constantly strive to bridge the professional world and the academic learning environment with seminars and workshops by visiting artists and professionals for students to gain insight into the workings of the industry. We also bring in internships with studios, media/production houses and performance opportunities at various cultural centers and venues for students to gain real world experience and build their professional portfolio.</p> <p>We have also recently introduced the GMI Tribe, a global community of performing artists, industry professionals, music producers/composers, professional educators, advisors and mentors. The aim is to transcend cultural and geographical barriers by giving aspiring musicians and producers career development opportunities access to an even wider pool of international mentors.</p> <p>In terms of standing out, we let the strength of our programmes and the professional work of alumni speak for itself and focus on building a stronger community of artists and musicians.</p> <p>Our programmes are designed keeping the contemporary musician and modern music producer/composer in mind. We have kept certain international markers but have also curated courses with reference to the Indian context, especially courses like Hindustani music, and our professional development stream within our diploma programmes. We do have international partnerships for certain programmes where the curriculum is modeled along with another institution. For example GMI-Berklee track which allows transfer credits for select courses to Berklee College of Music in Boston, utilises a large portion of the core music courses taught at Berklee.</p> <p><b>Can you tell us more about the teaching faculty at GMI and how different are their tutoring approaches?</b></p> <p>Our faculty consists of musicians, performers, educators, composers, producers and business professionals from India and around the world. We look for very specific skills in our faculty and follow a stringent selection process to curate faculty for each term. We believe that all the individual approaches and backgrounds provide varied perspectives to the students and benefit their world view. It also unboxes their creativity as they learn that there isn’t one singular, standard approach when it comes to music.</p> <p><b>What are some of the interesting takeaways for GMI after 2020? Has your location in Greater Noida ever been an impediment in attracting more students or organising/participating in events and recitals?</b></p> <p>We have always wanted to create a focused and holistic learning environment for our students. Our Greater Noida campus is strategically placed at a comfortable distance from the city, allowing us to build a creative space for our community while being closely connected to all the performance spaces in the region. We also have a hostel facility that allows students and faculty to be completely immersed in music 24/7 and take a breather from the hustle and bustle of the city. The priority for us has always been to engage with students in a creative way, and to encourage their artistry. We have designed and developed our facilities keeping that in mind.</p> <p>The pandemic gave us the opportunity to take a pause as well as allowed us to reflect, review, and reimagine the way we would have liked to move forward so as to ensure we were able to create offerings for our community, upholding the standards that GMI has always stood for. We wanted to make sure that whatever we do next is value driven and also helps our community engage and connect, which has always been the essence of GMI. Our programme format adapted to the times. Thus, while the October 2020 term was fully online, our current term is operational in a blended format with a mix of in-person classes on the campus while others continue to be online. Later in 2020, we introduced the GMI Tribe, giving aspiring musicians and producers access to some exceptional talent from around the world.</p> <p>Now that the pandemic is a bit more manageable we are very glad to have opened the campus for our students, while maintaining all the essential health and safety guidelines of course. Unfortunately, due to the restrictions on travel, our international faculty are still in their respective countries so they continue to teach online. Thus, we have managed to uphold the quality of education that we pride ourselves with.</p> <p>While the pandemic has made us value human engagement a lot more, it has also given an opportunity to explore alternative models of learning. Going forward, we see the two formats continue to blend and co-exist, thereby providing only enhanced value to the community. Of course, the transition phase is always challenging, but it is allowing us all to stretch our ideas and open up to more broader visions and perspectives.</p> Tue Apr 06 22:36:48 IST 2021 dynamite-disco-club-wants-to-usher-in-a-dance-revolution-again <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Back in the 1970s, disco music had become so popular that a DJ in Chicago blew up records of the same in a football stadium, backed by mad chanting of &quot;disco sucks&quot;. The event in 1979 was also recorded in a book titled 'Disco Demolition: The Night Disco Died'. In the history of modern club music, this &quot;death of disco&quot; moment also heralded the birth of house, a groovier version built on electronica, drum machine and synths, a departure from plain live singing and dancing.</p> <p>But Stalvart John knows that the two are always ribbing each other. The 31-year-old DJ and producer could not let go of the original dance music genre in a new collective he started in 2017 to get people to rediscover a time when 'Saturday Night Fever' was serious business. &quot;Everything started from disco. I always loved dancing. From my college days in Cochin, clubbing was all about dancing. With Dynamite Disco Club, I want people to really let their hair down,&quot; says John who, with DDC, has started an event series on disco and house music, culminating in over 25 gatherings in quaint night dives across Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Kochi, and Chennai, including five since January this year after lockdown-induced hiatus in 2020. DDC follows hot on the heels of similar concept dance party collectives like BLOT! and Wild City's 'Disco and Daiquiris' and 'Grime Riot Disco', both of which have folded, although the famed Mumbai-based Bhavishyavani Future Soundz collective which threw their first party in 1999, is still going strong.</p> <p>&quot;Dynamite Disco Club is a universe of disco and house music that takes a closer look at the roots of soul, funk, disco and house, while also touching the basics of Chicago house, Detroit funk and Philly soul scene. It wants to get into the A to Z of disco and house music culture like music, fashion, merchandising, events and media,&quot; says John who found his home in electronic music as a podcaster and online radio show host about a decade back in Cochin when he discovered artists like Fatboy Slim, Prodigy, and Robert Miles. But he moved out of his hometown in 2015. &quot;No one would book me outside the state. There was no clubbing culture in Cochin. And Kerala had imposed a strict alcohol policy in 2014,&quot; says John who started a monthly radio show in 2017 at India’s first electronic music community radio called 'Dynamite Disco Club'. Soon he launched his own 'Dynamite Disco Club' nights which are held regularly in major Indian cities.</p> <p>Taking inspiration from the bold, agitational design aesthetic of communist propaganda posters of yore alongside vintage Japanese matchbox labels, John likes to design his own party posters. &quot;Disco and house is all about equality. It is about being young and free. It is about freedom. It is a happy-making music. My dance events are not the rave parties projected in movies and media,&quot; says John who has also taken to educating and mentoring musicians keen on soul, funk, disco and house. &quot;Two students of mine performed at the just concluded Magnetic Fields Nomad in Ranthambore. With my teaching and events, I want to usher in a disco revolution again,&quot; says John.&nbsp;</p> Fri Mar 26 09:28:47 IST 2021 the-fine-art-of-tasting-honey <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>In the middle of a cellar with giant steel tanks filled with fermenting liquid, sits a large table with an assortment of grappa glasses, cheeseboards and crackers. But a group of eager, young visitors at the Moonshine Meadery in Pirangut, near Pune city, can't stop staring at dappled watercolour palettes aligning the table. The palettes are filled with raw honey which would later be fermented to make meads—that ancient drink predating wine or whiskey. While the purpose of this visit on a sultry March afternoon is to taste the many meads made by Moonshine, it is the honey tasting session which lingers long after patrons have left the factory-laboratory with their stash of bottled meads.</p> <p>In the West, there are honey sommeliers, who learn the tough science of tasting honey just like wines. According a report in <i>Popular Science</i>, a honey connoisseur colour guide is often used to measure the lightness or darkness of amber in the liquid gold, usually in millimeters. Water white is 8mm, extra light amber 50mm, and dark amber 140mm, according to a chart created by the founder of the American Honey Tasting Society, which has also devised an aroma and tasting wheel with notes like woody, vegetal and animal.</p> <p>Devashish Sutavani, who calls himself a "mead druid" at Moonshine is taking guests on a similar journey to understand the "mouthfeel" of six varietals of raw honey sitting pretty on the colour palettes. "Use your fingers to really feel the textures," instructs Sutavani, as guests jostle around for sanitizers and washbasins. 'Multifloral' is slightly more acidic and sour than commercial honey, explains our honey taster. Orange Blossom is a single-varietal, derived from honeybees that feed on the nectar of one type of flower. It is citrusy like marmalade on toast. Sidr honey is from the lote tree which only flowers for 20 days in a year; it is intense and exquisite like butterscotch and vanilla. Rosewood honey from sheesham tree is fragrant; ajwain is fatty and oily in a good way, and the showstopper mustard is like crystalized ghee but doesn't even taste like the plant. As part of a tasting trail in Nashik, organised by Delhi-based <i>Indulge India</i>, the wine enthusiasts are used to swirling their glass and spitting their drink. But this tasting is different. Licking their fingers and glowing in an amber haze, the visitors ask if they can buy the filtered raw honey from the meadery. To their dismay, the limited batch honey jars had flown off the shelves.</p> <p>"We always knew we would be doing something specially with honey," says Rohan Rehani, co-founder of Moonshine Meadery, which has been selling the world's oldest alcoholic beverage, made with fermented honey and water, since 2017. Many reports say they are Asia's first meadery.</p> <p>The founders left their lucrative jobs in MNCs to start afresh in the alcohol industry. It took Rehani two years to convince the excise department in his state to consider mead as a whole new category of alcoholic beverage with its own license. With this first-mover advantage, Moonshine Meadery has grown in size and scale over the years—from 100 to 1,000 cases, a proper sales team, the watchman's cabin converted into a full-blown lab, producing 20,000 litres of mead at a time. All the action in "bee craft" segment makes his eyes glaze with excitement. "We are buying honey from beekeepers now. We have access to about 170 beehives, 150 of which are in Rajasthan. But we also want to get into the reverse supply chain. We will soon start talking to the government for something called pollination on wheels where we take beehives and go from one area to another for pollination," Rehani reveals his plans for the future, which also includes harvesting and sourcing honey on their own without middlemen. A "non-carbonated" honey, derived from tribal communities in Palghar, is in the offing, apart from insistent efforts to procure the sweet nectar from the intrepid honey-hunters of Mudumalai forests in the Nilgiris.</p> <p>"As we all know the oft-quoted line, if bees die out, humanity will perish in four years," Rehani reminds a rapt audience rediscovering the joy of taste raw honey.</p> Wed Mar 10 17:22:40 IST 2021 this-dog-chef-rustles-up-cakes-waffles-canines <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Home-style food for pet dogs is not quite encouraged. Ishmeet Chandok, as India's first "dog chef" wants to change that misconception.</p> <p>Ishmeet is the founder of Harley's Corner, named after his adopted Indie dog Harley and his love for the motorcycle brand, Harley Davidson. Harley was part of a litter of 6 pups at a construction site and the friendliest of the lot.</p> <p>When Ishmeet brought Harley home, he noticed no matter how much kibble or dog food he had in his bowl, Harley would always be eyeing the food his pet parent was eating and would look always forward to a bite.</p> <p>That’s when the founder started researching about food which are safe for dogs and the ingredients that should go in to give them the right nutrients. Today, Ishmeet can whip up a five-course meal for canines promising to tickle their taste buds and is also ensure safety using human grade food.</p> <p>And recipe is ever produced or released unless it has Harley’s approval with a lick of his tongue and a wag of his tail.</p> <p>As a certified canine nutritionist and founder of India’s first ready-to-eat wet dog food brand, Ishmeet wants to tell all pet parents that dogs that grow up eating home style food, actually live longer than the ones on commercial kibble diet.</p> <p>The company is the first in India to launch food for canines which is salt and sugar free and made completely with human-grade food. The brand has both subscription meals for dogs based on their age and weight as well as treats such as lamb, chicken munchies and rawhide besides ice cream made of fresh fruits like apple and carrot for the warmer months and a wide range of cakes from paneer, liver, bacon, mutton, beef, among others for festive occasions with family.</p> <p>With people planning&nbsp; long drives, brunches in the backyard and picnics, Ishmeet Chandiok is planning to launch waffles and&nbsp; donuts. Also seeing how families are now trying to keep their kids entertained and spend more time at home with cooking and storytelling sessions and how many have actually adopted dogs during the pandemic, Harley’s Corner is looking to launch the first DIY Doggy Cake Kit. It will consist of a proprietary dry cake mix which is salt and sugar free. There will come in two pouches; one of chicken icing and another of liver spread which can be made following instruction videos on Instagram.</p> <p>The brand also designs meals that are gluten free, low fat, fish-based and hypo allergenic, apart from activated charcoal treats which help with hair fall.</p> Wed Mar 03 15:43:49 IST 2021 25-Splendid-Spiritual-Books-from-Pranay--Fingerprint! <a href="!.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Mystic author Pranay and Fingerprint! Publishing brings you two splendid, stunning book series on spirituality. These comprise 25 titles.</p> <p>The first series of 5 books, titled ‘Spirituality for Leadership &amp; Success’ is already in the market. The series is available in major bookstores, and online globally. The books are already creating ripples because of their innovative and brilliantly insightful approach to Indian spirituality.&nbsp;</p> <p>The second series of 20 books, titled ‘Greatest Spiritual Wisdom for Tough Times’, is forthcoming. The books in both series are must-read spiritual guides.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>The Genesis of the Series</b></p> <p>Speaking to The Week, the author Pranay Gupta said: “It all started with a discussion that I had with my brilliant literary agent, Anuj Bahri at Red Ink Literary Agency. We realised there’s a huge gap when it comes to presenting the greatest spiritual teachings of all faiths in a condensed format, with fresh insights for contemporary circumstances. We decided to do these series in a way that distils the finest teachings of ancient mystic paths, in manner that is far more relevant for today’s times! When our wonderful publishers at Fingerprint – Shikha Sabharwal and Gaurav Sabharwal – came on board to publish these, we were delighted, as we realised that their vision matched and in fact enhanced our own. Our aim is to do pathbreaking and maverick mind-body-spirit titles that shed fresh light on timeless topics”.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>The First Series: 5 Books</b></p> <p>The first series (‘Spirituality for Leadership &amp; Success’) comprises 5 key topics: HINDUISM, the BHAGAVAD GITA, BUDDHA, VEDANTA, and SWAMI VIVEKANANDA. The emphasis is upon the greatest leadership and success lessons from these 5 key angles of Indian mysticism. The lessons are truly universal in scope.</p> <p>Within these books, the greatest spiritual secrets for higher achievement, fulfilment, and happiness have been gleaned and presented along with brand new, deep insights by the author. The whole idea is to present the very best learnings from Indian spirituality in a way that has relevance for people everywhere: especially those who are seeking to excel and succeed to another level.&nbsp;</p> <p>Complete mind-body-soul wisdom is the essence of these books, with special emphasis on what it takes to find spiritually-established success, leadership excellence, creative value-creation, peace of mind, and overall brilliance in all our pursuits. The books take a broad spectrum view and are especially relevant in today’s age of massive change and disruption.</p> <p>The depthful lessons in the books will hold leaders and potential leaders in good stead, helping them succeed further. The books are for both advanced levels as well as for those readers who are looking for simple, direct learnings from spirituality. Unnecessary jargon has been avoided within the books: the language has been kept simple, intuitive and perceptive.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>The Second Series: 20 Books</b></p> <p>Titled ‘Greatest Spiritual Wisdom for Tough Times’, this series of 20 books is based on both Indian and world spirituality.&nbsp;</p> <p>The core idea of the series is this: to guide us towards living fearlessly and successfully. Especially in today’s world that is beset by crisis situations, challenges and tough circumstances!</p> <p>To help people transcend all difficulties through the power of spiritual values and mystic wisdom, is the aim of this innovative set.&nbsp;</p> <p>The first two books in this series are ‘Vedas &amp; Upanishads’ and ‘Krishna’.</p> <p>The series is unprecedented in publishing, as it collates the most broad range of topics, spiritual paths and mystics in a singular set.&nbsp;</p> <p>Topics include Vedic knowledge &amp; Hindu mysticism, Tantra, Buddhism, Guru Nanak &amp; Sikhism, Jainism and several world religions. Also included in the series are various mystics both ancient and modern: Krishna, Kabir, Adi Shankaracharya, the Bauls, J Krishnamurti, Ramana Maharishi, Neem Karoli Baba, Rabindranath Tagore, the Rishis, and others. There are learnings from great scriptures and sacred texts such as the Mahabharat &amp; Bhagavad Gita, the Vedas &amp; Upanishads, the Zend Avesta, the Bible, the Dhammapada, and so on.</p> <p>World wisdom is included: from Toltec, Taoism, Zen, Tibetan Tantra, Rumi, Socrates, Jesus of Nazareth, the ancient alchemists, Kabbalah, and so on.&nbsp; This assimilation makes&nbsp; the set stunningly original!</p> <p>The emphasis is on the core mystic essence and secrets that can help us live more purposefully and dynamically, instead of on the outer or more superficial aspects of religion. The essence is to help us live with greater inner courage and wisdom during today’s tough times, and unlock our greatest potential even amidst challenges.&nbsp;</p> <p>The lessons and spiritual principles within these books are meant to catalyse dynamic living in every way: at work and for professional accomplishment, for spiritual realization / self-knowledge / cosmic realization, for personal happiness and inter-personal relationships, etc.</p> <p>The goal that the series has for its readers worldwide is simple: to help them move towards greater bliss and ultimate peaceful fulfilment.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Quality</b></p> <p>Particular care has been taken to present aesthetically pleasing books, with very high production values. Producing top quality books - rich in content and meeting best global benchmarks in look and feel - is the credo at Fingerprint! As far as Pranay’s series go, the effort has been to do full justice quality-wise, to these wonderfully original versions of mankind’s spiritual inheritance over thousands of years.&nbsp;</p> <p>Both series are quite simply splendid and great buys, whether for personal reading or as gifts. The books have been reasonably priced also.</p>!.html!.html Sat Feb 27 16:21:29 IST 2021 the-connaught-serves-up-bold-new-hotel-design-flooring <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>We don't usually consider business hotels as heritage properties. But The Connaught in the heart of Lutyens' Delhi is different.</p> <p>Strategically located in one of the most expensive commercial hubs in the world, more endearingly known as CP, the hotel is nestled in the closest proximity to the capital's historical landmarks like India Gate, Rashtrapati Bhavan and Jantar Mantar. This fact alone lends The Connaught—a 104-room, four star property—the aura of an edifice primed to be considered modern heritage. But its recent new incarnation also makes it a chic interpreter of legacy, especially in the way the redesigned hotel has elevated its charm with a winning floor plan.</p> <p>After a gap of eight years, The Connaught hotel in Delhi welcomed back patrons this year following extensive renovations undertaken since 2018. Indian Hotel Company Limited, the Tata company that runs the Taj group of hotels, acquired The Connaught in 2018 for a 33 year lease and gave it a complete makeover to start life afresh in 2021, heralding a new chapter in design and architecture for Taj Hotels as well. For what strikes the eye in the refurbished property which marries contemporary luxuriance with CP's art deco aesthetics, is the sumptuous spread of floor tiles undulating in ocean green and blue. Christian Lundwall from Sweden's Studio kin was commissioned as the principal designer of the The Connaught's bold, new face.</p> <p>The studio is known for its minimal, modern approach to hotel designing across Europe and those ethos have been infused in The Connaught's interiors which Lundwall regards as a boutique urban sanctuary which is at once charming, eclectic, quaint and intriguing. &quot;Generally we feel that the flooring is an often overlooked design element that offers unique possibilities to influence the way a space feels and is perceived. It is after all one of the few surfaces that you have to interact with virtually all the time,&quot; says Lundwall over email to The Week. &quot;We brought this thought into The Connaught, New Delhi. The Bikaneri inspired tiles and flooring create a suave ambience for the entire hotel,&quot; says Lundwall whose play of warm colours with strong vivid patterns are unusual to hospitality interiors.</p> <p>The result is an eclectic scenery with sudden, dramatic pops of colour like an orange couch in the lobby or a vintage yellow sofa in a standard room. Large windows overlook an abandoned hockey stadium next to a chequered wall with mon cheri-like profile faces staring back in retro eyelashes, often lending the space a Hockney-esque feel. But no matter where you are at The Connaught, the floor hangs around like a transfixing painting, an enchanting spell. &quot;The floor serves as the backdrop. It is one of the main design elements and makes the space feel dynamic and colourful even though both walls and ceilings are predominantly white,&quot; says Lundwall on making the floor speak the language of the wall.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon Feb 22 11:54:56 IST 2021 we-have-now-become-completely-vegetarian-property <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>As things gradually get back to normalcy, reports and surveys predict that wellness is going to be the topmost priority for most travellers in the year 2021 with wellness staycations, immunity boosting retreats, socially distanced wellness trips and complete health and wellbeing on offer.</p> <p>As wellness tourism takes centre-stage, and the focus on nutrition and rejuvenation assumes importance now more than ever, Nikhil Kapur, Cofounder and director of Atmantan Wellness Centre in Mulshi (near Mumbai) speaks to THE WEEK about his own experiences during the lockdown, plans to come bring in newer offerings at the resort and what the current year looks like for Atmantan.</p> <p><b>Excerpts:</b></p> <p><b>On the challenges posed by the lockdown</b></p> <p>It was an extremely challenging period because we were shut for nearly five months. We did not have any stranded guests at the property as we started getting cancellations right from January of 2020. It was in the last week of February when a large group of women from Qatar who were to come down to the property cancelled the trip, that the shock was felt. Most foreign guests who were with us, left by the second week of March.</p> <p>During the lockdown, we tried to work on three key things during that period. One was to make sure that the team is engaged with and are made to appreciate the challenging situation we were in at the time so that they understand what the guests go through. We did not want to let go of the team and hence had to keep them engaged at all times even when there were no guests staying at the time.</p> <p>This is because we have a very skilled and passionate team at the resort and hence, many of them lived at Atmantan itself during the period of the lockdown. We engaged with our top 50 clients during the lockdown in the form of focused group discussions because we wanted to understand what was happening in terms of customer psyche. This was something that was absolutely unprecedented and we made a project wherein we got in touch with those who typically spend a month or more with us each year. Each member of the guest relations team was in touch with the client about the goings-on in the hospitality industry.</p> <p><b>On gradual opening up</b></p> <p>We opened up with limited inventory and a short team. We house one hundred and fifty people at the property itself. So, this includes the general manager, senior managers, therapists, guest relations executives, because Atmantan has now developed into a safety bubble as for us we get long-stay guests. Our team is highly sensitised to how and why of precautions such as making it mandatory for each guest to undergo an RT-PCR test before entering the property within 48 hours before arrival. We do it ourselves as a part of the package in which we organise home visits from our side. We also have UV machines, automatic temperature sensors, those put up at the property are discouraged from venturing out unless it is a medical emergency so the risk of infections at Atmantan has always been minimal. Also, the pool sessions including the aqua exercises were closed and the group sizes for the other activities are small.</p> <p><b>On Post-covid changes</b></p> <p>We have now become a completely vegetarian property. Earlier we did serve a non-vegetarian fare, essentially chicken and fish but we will no longer do so. It will be a fine-dining veg cuisine only from hereon. The response to this has been fabulous so far and we've just hired a chef who specialises in raw veg cuisine.</p> <p><b>On vegetarian food being better for health</b></p> <p>We felt that we had to relook at how we were living our lives and that vegetarian food is better for one's healing, for detox and it adds a lot more. We only do limited animal protein such as egg and chicken broth but only if it is accompanied by a doctor's prescription for people with certain conditions, such as auto-immune disorders for example.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>On moving from non-vegetarianism to vegetarianism at the resort</b></p> <p>Whatever we are interacting with there is a certain energy transfer. Somewhere our beliefs say that if you're killing something and consuming it the energy which is getting transferred is not a good one. That is why we say that let's go with vegetarian cuisine. When you're going for a holiday to a destination where you actually want to improve your health, I do not think one craves for non-vegetarian fare. When one is coming to a wellness centre, one needs to be open to making healthy decisions, for instance, we do not even serve alcohol. At Atmantan, we want people to pick up healthy habits.</p> <p><b>New verticals in 2021</b></p> <p>We are now aiming to reach people in various formats apart from that of the wellness centre. Our e-commerce platform through which we will sell nutritional and herbal supplements is the next addition to the family. This is based on the expert advice by doctors and scientists based out of Kerala.</p> Tue Feb 02 16:37:40 IST 2021 we-are-often-pressured-start-new-year-some-perfect-way <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The most of last year, well, all of 2020 for some, was tiring and awful. Glad as we are to welcome a new year, at least the beginning of 2021 looks a bit grim. and seems like it will be so for a few more months till we get to a sense of normalcy. We speak to optimism doctor (really!) Dr Deepika Chopra, who holds a doctorate in clinical health psychology to tell us how we can be more positive in 2021. Here is what Chopra, who is based in California had to say.</p> <p><b>2020 was particularly hard for everyone. What are the first few things you would say, one can do to begin the new year on a positive note?&nbsp;</b></p> <p>I think we are often so pressured to start the new year in some perfect, balanced, overly productive, positive way. And the truth is most people do not carry through on resolutions they make because they are either too lofty, out of reach or a source of pressure and often shame. I often like to start the new year off more so reflecting on the past year and all that I have overcome, the big stuff and the little stuff, reminding myself and my clients that we have overcome all 365 days of the past year, the good ones, neutral ones and the oh so hard ones. So, I guess I’d say, focus on your strengths, resiliency and self-gratitude.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Social media constantly has us feeling that we have to have perfect thoughts, perfect feelings, positive outlook towards life, perfect beauty etc. How to stay positive in the face of all this?&nbsp;</b></p> <p>Perfection is not real, it is a misguided perception and is well… a trap. And as an Optimism Doctor, I know it sounds strange to hear me say this but, positivity has become so intertwined with the misguided perception of perfection that it becomes toxic. Somewhere along the line, we started pressuring ourselves and others to be “positive” all the time… besides being humanely impossible it is also a notion that can be entirely detrimental. Humans are made to experience the full range of emotions and it is damaging to have our authentic feelings suppressed, especially because emotions such as anger, shame, anxiety, sadness are part of all of our daily lives.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Negative headlines-- more so in the past year has dampened our spirits-- how do we avoid getting sucked into a rabbit hole of negativity?&nbsp;</b></p> <p>I don’t believe in “turning off the news” or “ignorance is bliss”. I believe that knowledge is power and knowing what is happening can lead to one person having a solution and so on. However, I believe in boundaries… being mindful about how and when you consume your news and spend your valuable energy. If you know that you can sleep if you’ve watched the news, then setting a boundary of not consuming media or upsetting headlines a couple of hours before bedtime is key… or, if you feel overwhelmed by the number of articles you are exposed to throughout the day, then setting boundaries to limit yourself to only reading two a day or whatever the number that feels good for you.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p><b style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">You say, your process is not about positive manifestation-- eg. put your heart into it and it will happen-- please elaborate.</b><br> </p> <p>It’s not that my process or practice is not about positive manifestation, it is, it’s just that I very strongly remind people that it takes hard work, real mindset shift, lifestyle changes and mental fitness to make whatever it is you want to happen. I think it can be dangerous to promote that if you just want something it will magically appear in your lap, It can be dangerous because it can leave people feeling a sense of failure when it doesn’t happen and worse, they may start to think that something horrible that had nothing to do with them, they single-handedly caused a death in a family, a fatal diagnosis etc. For me, it is of course important to know what you want, but it is more important to examine what you are truly expecting to happen. The expectation holds more potency than the want.&nbsp;</p> <p><b style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Please define ‘being optimistic’.&nbsp;</b><br> </p> <p>I think the word “optimism” can often be misunderstood. People generally amount optimism to positivity, it’s much more complex than that. Optimism is about resiliency, curiosity and hope. It is not about disregarding the truth and being devoid of reality. True optimism is someone very aware of the setbacks, roadblocks and less than ideal situations … the caveat is that they see these setbacks as temporary and something that they have the power to overcome, even if they don’t know exactly how or when. An optimist is someone who recognises and validates their negative feelings but at the very same time can hold hope for something better.&nbsp;</p> <p><b style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Reality check— what is your take on self-help books-- are they worth it?&nbsp;</b><br> </p> <p>Well, it depends on which ones! There are some very valuable books out there! I always ask my podcast guests on my show ‘Looking up With Deepika Chopra’ if there has been a book that has changed the way they live their life. And it’s always fascinating to me to gather the titles! I generally don’t tend to gravitate to the ones that start with “21 days to…” it is a myth that it takes 21 days to form a new habit or even break a bad one down. The real number is actually on average in the 60s.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Jan 30 16:49:30 IST 2021 kumaresh-r-the-man-who-wants-to-make-learning-of-indian-violin-joyous-and-easy <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Kumaresh R. of the noted violinist duo Ganesh-Kumaresh, cannot help but mention the "dhanur veena" found in the ancient temples of south India. At the eighth century Chola temple, Thirumukkudal, near Mysore, there is a sculpture of a woman playing the violin sitting in a posture which Indian violinists have adopted for years. "This instrument very closely resembles the modern violin. People do not know that the Indian violin precedes the western one," says Kumaresh, also known as the 'fiddling monk' in Carnatic music circles.</p> <p>"Even the word 'classical' in Indian classical music is a western nomenclature we copied. More than classical, our music is grammatical, a lot more deeper than period or era music. It is very relevant even today; it is very present," says Kumaresh, who feels the "guru-shishya parampara" also needs to adapt to the changing times. To that end, Kumaresh launched a digital learning platform for Indian violin. The portal was inaugurated by tabla virtuoso Ustad Zakir Hussain on YouTube Premier, and is touted to be first of its kind digital learning experience of the violin in India.</p> <p>"Lockdown, for me, personally, was a boon because I could play music for myself. I thought why not create a platform where anyone can learn the most defined musical system there is," says Kumaresh, who has been conducting online lessons on playing the Indian violin for more than 15 years now. Skype and Zoom, says Kumaresh, are limiting the number of people who can participate. "E-learning is like an international music academy. Anyone can start learning how to tune the violin, how to hold the bow, the grip, the posture, the position of all the 12 notes. They can pause the video in the middle, learn more about the challenges of learning the violin and how to overcome them. It can be very joyous and easy," says Kumaresh who wants to demystify the learning of traditional Indian violin by taking his e-course to music departments in schools. They are designed for beginners, intermediaries and advanced learners.</p> <p>Kumaresh, a recipient of the Sangeet Natak Academy award, has traced a musical career spanning 48 years to change the way the world looks at the Indian violin by refining teaching methods and repertoire for his many students around the world. A child prodigy, he played his first concert when he was just five years old and completed his 100th stage performance even before he was 10.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Jan 14 20:34:32 IST 2021 cyanotype-easiest-way-to-document-nature-in-its-natural-form <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Dr Gunjan Shrivastava is a professional artist, educator, art critic and co-founder of You Lead India Foundation based in Mumbai. She loves to play around with new media and uses Cyanotype, a mid-nineteenth century printing process to capture the beauty of nature in its natural form.</p> <p>In an exclusive interview with THE WEEK, she speaks about her myriad passions and her obsession with decay and death.</p> <p>Excerpts:</p> <p><b>Tell us about your recent solo show at Jahangir Art Gallery. How did you depict the five elements of nature?</b></p> <p>My collection ‘Adviata’ accentuates the philosophy of oneness of an individual soul, God and the universe. The inspiration behind this collection is the five elements of nature, these elements that constitute the universe; Prithvi (Earth), Jal (Water), Agni (Fire), Vaayu (Air) and Akasha (Space).</p> <p>The use of abstraction is consistent with the philosophy of Advaita where the elements do not associate with form but instead depict as mediums. The aim was to use fluidity of interpretation that is associated with abstract paintings. The purpose was to let each viewer interpret how the element as mediums, dictates one’s experience in the universe.</p> <p><b>What does art mean to you?</b></p> <p>Art is my energy, my fuel. Art is my medium of expression to my personal journey on this planet as it plays as a connection between me and the world around me. My relationship with art is bilateral, there are a series of questions and answers that emerge in the process of art making. Repetition, stillness, and rhythm are essential elements in my work; they help me to create a moment of silence within me, helping me to connect with myself.</p> <p><b>You use Cyanotype for portraying issues of the environment. What are the advantages of Cyanotypes?</b></p> <p>I use camera-less photography which is a mid-nineteenth century printing process to capture dried and worn-out leaves in their distinctive essence. It is a meditative moment, making use of fragments, light, shadows and process. The chemistry used in the process has an unpredictable behaviour posing science as an inherently experiential art making. Using the sun as the source of energy, which magically translates the subject into something ethereal, I enjoy both the process and its outcome. Behind the visual excitement I feel when I see the striking blue colour and the relationships of the organic shapes it captures, there are multiple steps needing technicality.</p> <p>Though after many years of exploring this technique I believe that cyanotype is the easiest way to document nature in its natural form.</p> <p><b>What are some of the new trends in textile designing?</b></p> <p>The latest trend of raw weaves, earthy hues and natural textures organic and environment-friendly materials addresses the growing awareness of sustainable alternatives. The industry is becoming mindful of the production of textiles and clothing and how this process does not have to pollute the environment. The latest trend in textiles is arguably timeless, resurfacing the use of raw silks, cotton linens, and heavy weaves in tones such as taupes, creams, browns and greys.</p> <p><b>Natural decay is a dominant theme in your work. Why are you so fascinated with decay and death?</b></p> <p>Through my works, I hope to share something thoughtful and intriguing with viewers, and to arouse their curiosity. Knowing and feeling are not separate, and the whole of the environment can be used as a pedagogic instrument. My engagement with issues relating to sustainability drives me to explore cyanotypes documenting decaying leaves in their natural form while attempting to restore the belief in redemptive restoration and emboldening better environmental practice to reclaim what is degraded, damaged and destroyed.</p> <p><b>Which is your favourite medium?</b></p> <p>Experimentation is a major part of my work and I enjoy working intuitively, giving myself the freedom to change my subjects and my mediums from time to time. Like all trained artists, I started with traditional methods and mediums of painting but years later I found the pleasure in conceptualising new stories through my cyanotype processes and various other mixed media techniques. My mediums do not go by the books or any set rules, I like to play around and investigate new media according to my requirements.</p> <p><b>COVID-19 has transformed the art scene in India. Has the pandemic opened new avenues for artists in India?</b></p> <p>This pandemic has definitely seen a change in artistic trends and perhaps changed the landscape of the industry forever. While many large events have been cancelled or postponed, some have moved to virtual. The new trend or rather the shift toward online exhibition is going to stay. Major museums had already started featuring their collection online but now even local galleries are moving towards more viewer friendly virtual experience. Though, the world will surface back to on-site exhibits but still this pandemic has taught us a new way of looking at art especially benefitting for artists who found it a challenge to find space or means to exhibit in galleries.</p> Wed Dec 30 15:51:19 IST 2020 india-first-bottled-mulled-wine-touch-of-traditional-flavour <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>It is believed that mulled wine became a festive fixture because of Sweden. Although it was invented by the Greek father of medicine Hippocrates as a health tonic and subsequently became a Roman tradition to help stay warm in the bitter cold months, the popularity of wine mixed with herbs, fruits, spices and honey dwindled in 17th century Europe. Except in Sweden.</p> <p>The Nordic country retained a variation of it called the 'Glogg'. In the late 19th century, the Swedes shipped bottles of glogg with images of Santa across Europe and since then it's hard to dissociate Christmas with mulled wine.&nbsp;</p> <p>But store-bought mulled wine with flavours ranging from fiery jalapeno to semi-sweet apple pie? To many, it may seem like scrimping on a homely tradition, disrespecting a glorious ritual celebrated in books and films, like cheating. In Dickens'&nbsp;<i>Christmas Carol</i>&nbsp;Scrooge assures Bob Cratchit thus "...we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop!" a kind&nbsp;of mulled wine made in Victorian England with port, red wine, lemons, Seville oranges, sugar and spices.</p> <p>Bloggers and food reviewers this time of the year rapturously educate the world on how to blend&nbsp;this perfect Xmas punch----not too sweet or bitter, or god forbid, how not to obliterate the alcohol.&nbsp;</p> <p>But now there is an option for lazy drinkers, raging workaholics or just curious, gamely consumers.&nbsp; Next week one of&nbsp;India’s leading wine-makers, Grover Zampa Vineyards, will launch&nbsp;One Tree Hill Mulled Wine Kadha in several metros. They are calling it India's first-ever bottled mulled wine. It takes inspiration from&nbsp;traditional Indian Kadha recipes. So,&nbsp;the wine is infused with spices like black peppers, cinnamon, cloves, ginger,&nbsp;<i>tulsi</i>, cardamom, and lemon topped with star anise, parsley, fennel, cumin seeds, orange peel, and kapok buds. "A warm concoction of spices and wine,&nbsp;mulled wine&nbsp;is the ideal&nbsp;Christmas&nbsp;companion and is sold in quantities during the season in European markets. Hence this wine is not restricted as a make-at-home drink. Bottled mulled wines of various brands are available in Europe as well," says&nbsp;Sumit Jaiswal, AVP, Marketing and Exim at Grover Zampa Vineyards, on the feasibility of selling packaged mulled wine in India.</p> <p>&nbsp;"The One Tree Hill Mulled wine has a perfect balance of herbs and spices also called traditional Indian spices with its true aromas. It’s a premium bottled mulled wine and like all Grover Zampa wines, we are sure that it will appeal to the palates of consumers," adds Jaiswal.&nbsp;</p> <p>Priced at Rs650 a bottle, Grover's Mulled Wine Kadha will hit the shelves in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Delhi, Goa, Haryana and West Bengal this month. Be it hot toddy, mulled wine or Kadha, the health benefits of the spices used in them have been all too well reinforced in a pandemic year which has trained us to glug copious amounts of Kadha, and the winemaker has inevitably tapped into this trend.</p> <p>"There's a necessity to make wine-drinking easier in India and this mulled wine seems to do just that. The price and packaging seem lucrative and coming from the house of Grover Zampa is surely of bankable quality," says Gagan Sharma, a Delhi-based sommelier.&nbsp;</p> <p>Ankush Singh, a 32-year-old pharma professional based in Gurugram, is not too convinced. "I don't think I will buy it. It is a vanity product for one time of the year. I'd rather make my own stuff."&nbsp;</p> Sat Dec 19 14:33:48 IST 2020 moments-in-motion-a-unique-exhibition-on-motion-pictures-and-vehicles-in-motion <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Dilip Kumar raced his tonga with a bus, a seminal ‘Man vs Machine’ moment, in 1957's Naya Daur, while Fearless Nadia movie posters always had a steam engine in the background. And who can forget the many unforgettable film scenes featuring cars, either in the thrill of the chase, or anchoring the charismatic romantic credentials of the hero?</p> <p>Motion pictures and vehicles in motion have been in a romantic liaison ever since their advent. Now, an exhibition in the national capital region lets you relive those golden moments from the silver screen through a collection of film posters, lobby cards and memorabilia.</p> <p>‘Moments in Motion’ is India’s first exhibition of its kind, where original Indian movie posters and lobby cards featuring modes of transport that were part of the storyline of a movie and important enough to have found a place in their advertising. The exhibition at the Heritage Transport Museum, an hour’s drive away from Delhi in Gurgaon, runs till end of January and features more than 60 posters and over 100 lobby cards — the oldest is ‘Hunterwali ki Beti (1943)’ while the youngest is 1982’s ‘Chalti ka Naam Zindagi.’</p> <p>There’s a reason why. “All the posters we have on display are painted posters only, drawn by hand by poster artists and then printed. Post-1982, digitalisation started coming in and the art of drawing posters by hand started going down. You don’t find it anymore,” explains Tarun Thakral, founder of the Museum. “We are paying a tribute to the art also, and a tribute to the creativity of those poster artists, a lot of whom lost their jobs (when digitisation came in),” he adds.</p> <p>Thakral came up with the theme after realising that visitors to his one lakh sq feet museum found the famous car from the nineties hit ‘Dil To Pagal Hai’, one of the permanent exhibits there, “fascinating.” He quips, “Bollywood is something that connects with every Indian visitor.”</p> <p>With the museum’s seventh anniversary coming up and faced with a financial loss after the museum had to be shut down for five months due to the lockdown, Thakral decided on one stone to kill two birds — a Bollywood themed special exhibition to celebrate the anniversary, as well as bring the crowds back.</p> <p>Luckily, the logistics were already sorted out. “I had this huge collection of Bollywood memorabilia pertaining to transport, collected over a period of time,” Thakral points out.</p> <p>The exhibition is equally a celebration of cinema and its association with modes of transport (there’s even a poster with a goat cart from an old film on display!), as well as poster art. “Over the years, its aesthetics, importance and the meaning it transmits has gone through several transitions,” says a note from the Museum, “These cultural artefacts allow us to trace the history of popular art, political and cultural norms, and our ineffable relationship with the theatre of dreams.”</p> <p>Though the exhibition closes in end-January, it may not be the last of it. Enquiries are pouring in, right from the National Rail Museum to even the London Transport Museum. “These posters hark back to the masses and tastes of a particular period. How the artists changed, how movies evolved…,” explains Thakral. “And of course, Bollywood is big everywhere!”</p> Fri Dec 11 11:30:48 IST 2020 how-lipsa-hembram-is-modernizing-santali-sarees <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A few years ago, when fashion designer Lipsa Hembram heard her mother complain about the short length and coarseness of traditional Santali sarees, the idea of Galang Gabaan was born.</p> <p>It was in 2014 that Hembram started her label for contemporizing Santali sarees, after she returned from Hyderabad where she earned her degree at NIFT. Galang Gabaan in Santal could be translated as 'creating something with utmost care and devotion'.</p> <p>Just before the label was about to be launched, Hembram eschewed conventional models for promotional images on social media and got her mother and aunt to flaunt the chequered drapes in red and white. Today, the six-year-old label, based in Bhubaneswar, retails modern Santal sarees in cotton, linen and silk to patrons across the country.</p> <p>In her latest project, Hembram has mounted a sumptuous installation of the traditional Santali costume at the 18th-century, Victorian-style Belgadia Palace in Mayurbhanj . The garment exhibit is part of a campaign called 'The Karkhana Chronicles', undertaken by three erstwhile royal families to engage with the history of textiles and karigari in their respective regions, namely Jaisalmer, Gwalior and Mayurbhanj. The exhibits, created in the last two months by local artists and craftspeople, are showcased at the historic properties of the royal families and will be open for three months for public viewing from 27 November.</p> <p>In a tastefully done backdrop of 150-year-old brass pots, or 'pitol ghagara' which were used in a Santal household to fetch water from ponds and wells, Hembram has a tall, upright mannequin wear the original phuta jhala or saree along with a kacha, a variation of a dhoti drape. The saree is again re-purposed into a long flowing cape in new linen and ghicha silk with cotton. "This is to show how a yardage of fabric can be converted into dhoti, saree and a cape at the same time. Sustainability is not just about recycling or up-cycling. It is also to show the quiet evolution of the Santal saree whose essence has remained the same even though the yarn has changed," says Hembram who sourced the original phutu jhala from her native place in Rairangpur in Mayurbhanj district. Sans blouse, indicative of the choice Adivasi women make in the way they adorn their sarees, the installation is strikingly bedecked with ancient Dokra neckpieces.</p> <p>The last time Hembram sartorially dissected her Santali heritage was at the Lakme Fashion Week in 2017 when she remodeled her traditional saree into a skirt and top. But she now likes to play around with the yarn and design and let the saree be. Flowers, houses, birds, animals and leaves frolic in smooth and soft linen monochromes. Prices range anywhere from Rs 6,000 to 10,000.</p> <p>Hembram's Instagram page is also flecked with odds and ends of Santal heritage and personal history like wood carvings done by her maternal grandfather on panelled doors or her ancestral home in Dandbose, the birthplace of Raghunath Murmu, the inventor of the Ol-chiki script which is the official Santali writing system. Who knows these alphabets might also feature in her beguiling sarees soon.&nbsp;</p> Fri Nov 27 17:52:09 IST 2020 sania-mirza-writes-emotional-ode-to-all-mothers <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Tennis player Sania Mirza has written a moving “ode to all mothers&quot; and shared the post on Instagram along with beautiful pictures on Wednesday.&nbsp;She said that she was inspired by the journey of tennis player Serena Williams.</p> <p>Sania said that her pregnancy has changed her as a human being. “…pregnancy is something that I had experienced for the first time in my life. I thought about it and I think we all have a certain picture about it but once you experience it you really understand what it means. It absolutely changes you as a human being,” she wrote.</p> <p>Sania dedicated the note to all the mothers 'who have dared to dream': She wrote: &quot;I want to dedicate my words to all the wonderful and strong mothers who have dared to dream and each day have strived to maintain a balance between motherhood and their professions. To a world that stereotypes women as homemakers it often comes as a surprise if one succeeds in fulfilling her dreams and career with sheer grit and determination.&quot;</p> <p>In her note, Sania said she was not sure if she would ever get back to playing tennis. “Having put-on around 23kgs during my pregnancy, I wasn't sure if I was ever going to get back to being fit and playing tennis again. However, I lost around 26 kilos with a lot of workout regimes and very strict diets and came back to tennis because that's what I know, love and do. Finally, when I won at Hobart after coming back it was pretty amazing,” she wrote.</p> <p>She added: “&nbsp;Serena's efforts to be a perfectionist on the court and off it as well, motivate us all. She has taught the world that you can have it all if you work hard and don't give up on your dreams!”</p> <p><i>&nbsp;</i></p> Wed Nov 25 17:17:32 IST 2020 gin-and-tonic-in-the-cloud <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>In a reusable burlap &quot;potli&quot;, there are seven samples of Indian gin. The pint-sized bottles with the transparent spirit—as part of a gin tasting kit from the Institute of Wine and Beverage Studies—-are labelled as A,B,C,D, E and F. The seventh one, though, is a Joker with no letter.</p> <p>Each of the 82 attendees on the zoom call are first instructed to smell and sip the Joker from their tasting kit. The organisers lead the guests in decoding the character of this nameless gin: no juniper which is a signature botanical; it can be spun into a dry martini or an old Tom Collins; a sugar sweetened, cold compounded gin which is of an inferior quality, artificially essenced with a neutral spirit and made without distillation. It is important to be disappointed with the joker in order to appreciate the finer variants waiting to be sampled. And to get a sense of the commendable journey homegrown gins have traversed in recent years. The cold compounded gin is later revealed to be the fuddy-duddy Blue Moon, still wrapped in a comfortable blanket of nostalgia.</p> <p>But that is set to become once in a Blue Moon, with an exciting array of new Indian gins ushering in a revolution. The virtual tasting event, titled The Great Indian Gin Trail, by IWBS, on November 18, was a neat affair with patrons from Delhi joining in with their kits filled with samples of craft gins, a bunch of Indian junipers sourced from famed spice market Khari Baoli, bottles of premium tonic water from Sepoy and Co.,and plenty of zing. &quot;Basically, the point was to have an evolved conversation around the great variety of gins that are now available in India—over 10 local gins and the fact that their quality is at par with international gins,&quot; says Gagan Sharma, educator at IWBS and one of the tasting guides at The Great Indian Gin Trail.</p> <p>Meant to be an &quot;academic exercise&quot; with observations to be written down on a scaled sheet, the online tasting event unspooled a spice box that is the ongoing Indian gin efflorescence. From Greater Than to the artisanal Terai to Stranger &amp; Sons (now available in Delhi) to small batch Pumori, Hapusa Himalayan Dry Gin and Samsara, the homegrown brands are part of a constellation of craft gins coming out of India in recent years by young, under-30 entrepreneurs. They were all part of the tasting kit and acquired varied levels of intensity when taken neat or splashed with tonic. Aromatic, herbaceous, vigorous, earthy or wholesome, the hosts of the evening Gagan Sharma and Magandeep Singh, led the audience through a dazzling range of expressions with botanical infusions from tulsi, fennel, coriander, gondhoraj lebu, raw mango to cardamom and clementines.</p> <p>The tastings and reveals were followed by brief introductions by the makers of the respective gins, their distinctive characters and how they are to be appreciated—what is a sipping gin, how to have it by the glass, the youngest entrant in the Delhi market being Stranger &amp; Sons, Goa's enduring prominence as the capital of craft gins and how Delhi is an expensive, complicated market for small-batch alcohol producers. A tasting event from the comfort of our homes is just the tonic one needs.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> Thu Nov 19 20:18:04 IST 2020 radha-and-krishna-at-dags-online-viewing-room <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>On a Reddit thread for the 1915 painting 'Radha and Krishna' by M.V. Dhurandhar, a user comments,&quot;Petty awesome but... Why do Radha and Krishna look European?? Like Greeks or something.&quot;</p> <p>To which another user remarks, &quot;Maybe the colonists had an influence? The room looks Greek as well, or at least inspired by the Greeks.&quot;</p> <p>The oil-on-canvas in the Western academic style of painting where Radha looks at the viewer with a garland in her hand with Krishna seated behind her with a flute is now on view at DAG's online sale and exhibition called 'The World Will Go On'. Here 88 lots and 127 works of fine art have been virtually mounted as part of the exhibition 'The World Will Go On'. It features rare paintings from the 19th century onwards when European and Indian art met to create a hybrid vocabulary.</p> <p>The virtual preview started on 25 October through a seamlessly accessible online viewing room on the gallery website. The works are also on display at the DAG at The Claridges till November 12, 2020. The 'World Will Go On' celebrates India’s visual language of pre-modern and modern art. Leading the sale will be two series on the Ramayana—the first, a set of accomplished prints by the artist Chittaprosad, and the other a complete set of water-colour paintings by Laxman Pai.</p> <p>'Radha and Krishna' uses the naturalistic portrayal of &quot;bhava&quot; or emotion and achieved academically precise delineation by Dhurandhar who was known to use photographs as reference. Born in Kolhapur and trained at the JJ School of Art in Mumbai, Dhurandhar was also an accomplished postcard artist and created illustrations in oil, watercolour and pencil in his time that ranged from bazaar prints and ethnographic postcards to books and cartoons for magazines and posters. He was inspired by Raja Ravi Varma.</p> <p>Rather apolitical, Dhurandhar was more attracted to the female form and exquisitely captured their varying moods and gestures. He was awarded a British Government Award in 1892 for a painting titled 'Women At Work'.</p> <p>Radha, in the 1915 painting, has a faraway look on her face, while Krishna's eyes are on her. A peacock in the foreground also stares at Radha. Both Radha and Krishna are much admired subjects in Indian art for centuries; here they have a more modern, realistic appearance.</p> <p>This painting is expected to fetch the highest price in the exhibition which also has works featuring modernists like S.H. Raza, M.F. Husain, Krishen Khanna, Jehangir Sabavala, K.G. Subramanyan, P.T. Reddy, Natvar Bhavsar, G.R. Santosh, Biren De, Sohan Qadri, and a host of others.</p> Tue Nov 10 11:58:04 IST 2020 the-skipping-sikh-this-74-yr-old-british-sikh-makes-fitness-his-life-mission <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>When he was in his 60s, Rajinder Singh—now more popular as Skipping Sikh—could pull off 5,000 jumps in a day with his rope. Now the septuagenarian Sikh from Harlington in west London can clock two hundred jumps in a minute. On October 23, Amritsar-born Rajinder Singh will turn 74. "I will go to the gurdwara first, then go do a skipping challenge with Khalsa primary school kids and teachers in Slough. Later, (I will) take some cake and food to the homeless shelters," says Singh over email, two days before he celebrates his birthday in a year which has turned out to be quite special for the senior Skipping Sikh.</p> <p>On October 10, Rajinder Singh Harzall was featured in the Queen's Birthday Honours List of 2020 that felicitates recipients for their "outstanding contribution to British society". This list has 1,495 honours and 13 per cent of the awardees are from BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) communities. Harzall received an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for his services to health and fitness in a pandemic. In the early months of the UK lockdown, Harzall started posting videos of himself skipping to inspire the elderly to stay fit. In the process, he also raised over £12,000 for the NHS.</p> <p>Harzall has been skipping since he was six years old. His father, Makhan Singh, was in the British Indian Army as a Naik (corporal) and served in the second World War. Harzall was born at Devi Das Pura in Amritsar in the year India got its Independence. "My father would always tell me how skipping was something he enjoyed. It was a way for him to keep busy and stay out of negative thoughts," says Harzall who imbibed his father's fitness streak. He hopes to run a marathon like British Sikh centenarian Fauja Singh who, in 2011, became perhaps the oldest person to have run a marathon.</p> <p>"I have always been into sports. I have never gone to a gym. I made my own fitness plans and skipping has always been part of my life. I have run marathons and most charity events which involve some exercise," says Harzall who moved to England from Punjab in the 1970s. Harzall, a former Heathrow Airport driver, received a letter of appreciation from UK PM Boris Johnson in June this year. He was inspired to take up the skipping challenge from the 100-year-old army veteran Tom Moore, who raised more than 100 million pounds for the NHS. Moore walked 100 laps of his garden in April with the help of a walking frame in the lead up to his 100th birthday in April. The World War II veteran became a national hero and received a knighthood in July.</p> <p>"I would like to do more workshops in schools and community centres and encourage everyone regardless of age that you can keep fit and active. Age in nothing but a number," says Harzall on how he hopes to use his MBE to further promote fitness. "I have lived through other pandemics and to be honest, I always think the best way to tackle anxiety is to pray and be positive. Why worry when we are not in control?"</p> Thu Oct 22 21:04:49 IST 2020 a-case-for-churros-con-choco-with-coffee-for-breakfast <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Machan, Delhi's vintage 24x7 jungle-themed restaurant and cafe at the Taj Mahal Hotel, reopened this month after its third ever renovation since it began life in 1978. The year-long extensive renovations have discarded the easy, uncomplicated giveaways of protruding tusks and antlers with images of hunting scenes and leopards. The restaurant is more elegantly and subtly forest-wild. In the dense leafage of the wallpapers, the tiger is always watching even though the patrons may not spot it. Old favourites like Chicken Montecarlo and Bull’s Eye seamlessly coexist with new entries in the menu like Ocean Turns Purple and Lamb Agnolotti. But if there's one crackling idea which comes out a winner, it's the old and new duet played at the end of the meal: Machan's classic Kona Coffee with the delicately crunchy Churros, a breakfast favourite in Spain.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"The concept we were exploring began by looking at the world's best breakfast dishes which we could include in the new menu," says sous chef Siddhartha Saharoy at the hotel. "South Indian breakfast, including idli and filter coffee, is appreciated around the world. We wanted to recreate similarly resonant global breakfast staples. And Churros with coffee is a great idea and relatively under-explored in India," says Saharoy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This ancient fried dough pastry has sketchy origins, with China, Spain and Portugal as equal claimants. One theory attributes the invention to Spanish shepherds."High up in the mountains freshly baked goods were not available. So the shepherds came up with a cylindrical daily staple, which could easily be fried in a pan over an open fire. They named the fritter after Navajo-Churro sheep, as the horns of these sheep look similar to the fried pastry," writes Ira de Reuver in Roads and Kingdoms. But they were most definitely introduced in South America during the Spanish Inquisition in the 16th century. It was around this time that the Spaniards returned to Europe with cacao which they began to sweeten with sugarcane. The tradition of dipping churros in chocolate still hasn't been tampered with.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The tubular fritters speckled with cinnamon sugar is a popular walk-around snack around the world. There are multiple Churros-only outlets in Indian metros today, including The Bombay Churros and Chocolateria San Churro in Delhi. For the breakfast lovers divided between camps of sweet and savoury, one may wonder why eating fried white flour soaked in sugar first thing in the morning is a great energy booster. "Don't forget we also love our jalebis for breakfast. In fact, I feel we may have copied some version of churros to make jalebis," jokes Saharoy, who stands by the classic combination of Churros served alongside caramel and chocolate sauce, undercut with a pot of black coffee. But dishing out golden brown <i>churros con chocois</i> not exactly a cakewalk, using just flour, water and sugar in the mix. Cooked right it is warm, soft and crunchy dusted with snowy flecks of sugar. Here, Saharoy shares the recipe of the cylindrical sweet as it is prepared in Machan.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Churros hazelnut, chocolate and caramel</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>1. Eggs golden yolked</p> <p>2. Butter</p> <p>3. Maida</p> <p>4. Sunflower oil</p> <p>5. Mawana breakfast sugar</p> <p>6. Cinnamon powder</p> <p>7. Fresh cream</p> <p>8. Dark chocolate (Callebaut)</p> <p>9. Chocolate filling caramel (Callebaut)</p> <p>10. Chocolate filling hazelnut paste (Callebaut)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Method</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For the coating, whisk together sugar and cinnamon in a shallow dish and set it aside. Add water, butter, sugar and salt to a large saucepan, bring to a boil over a medium-high heat. Add flour, reduce heat to a medium-low and cook and stir continuously with a rubber spatula until the mixture comes together and is smooth. Add egg to the flour mixture, then blend immediately with an electric pedal and add eggs one by one for a smoother mixture. Transfer to a piping bag and carefully pipe the mixture into the preheated oil. After its fried, transfer to paper towels to dry and soak extra oil. Later, coat with cinnamon sugar mixture kept aside. Serve hot with chocolate sauce and coffee.&nbsp;</p> Sat Oct 17 22:40:17 IST 2020 opinion-does-detachment-mean-having-no-ambition-breaking-the-myth <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p><i>“Just as an aimless task is futile so also is a task with which we get totally attached to.”<br> </i></p> <p>Let’s understand the importance of detachment and how it can help us become more aware and productive in our area of work.<br> </p> <p>Detachment to a task doesn’t take you away from focusing on it, rather it helps you function more effectively. Never take detachment as having no ambition. Our intentions give rise to desires and desires in turn produce ambition. Thus, intentions are the essence of any outcome in our life and they manifest results influencing our action.</p> <p>Detachment is essential to empower our intentions. In order to create a meaningful outcome, we need to be free of all emotions. For example, a sense of fear or pleasure deludes us to either live in the past or imagine about the future outcome. In the outcome, we lose on the present moment thereby impacting the main task on hand.</p> <p>Both these emotions of fear and pleasure while performing a task take us behind the real moment, as it exaggerates our thought on them and grabs our attention on magnifying them. Once the attention is gone to that thought of fear or pleasure it’s then like catching up with a moment that has already passed, but what is demanded of us is a constant race to keep pace with the present reality.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Synchronizing our thoughts to present actions can materialize through detachment of the outcome, failing which, we are left with semi-finished work or half-hearted attempts; it happens because our attention was not in the present moment, it got left behind and stuck in a thought, which is either of past or future, but not relevant to that very moment. The outcome of this would be an ordinary result through our efforts.</p> <p>Hence, we are never a hundred per cent with our task in hand. In order to use our full concentration in the task and to work with our inner spontaneity, we need to be completely in sync with time and be in the present moment. This process where our actions are completely in harmony with the present moment creates a flow which makes the task effortless and error-free. This seamless state of flow can only be achieved by remaining detached to unnecessary thoughts or emotions.&nbsp;</p> <p>Our inner spontaneity can blossom only when we are free from all the attachments pertaining to the outcome of the task in hand. Attachment to the outcome produces thoughts which break our concentration to stay in the present moment, and as long as attachment persists, it becomes impossible to ignite our spontaneity. That is the reason practice of detachment becomes all the more important.<br> </p> <p>How to practice detachment? We need two attributes to be completely detached from the outcome of our task in hand: Enhancing our concentration with a complete focus on the task and a calm mind with no distracting thoughts.</p> <p>When these twin attributes, which result in detachment are achieved, these become a natural invitation for our spontaneity to take charge of the task.<br> </p> <p>We can increase our concentration and an ability to stay focused to the task with the help of activities like meditation, playing any sport which enhances our concentration, or by getting involved into any activity we are passionate about, that can help us get completely engrossed in the task by the sheer love for it. Such activities include reading, writing, music and art. These activities require a high level of focus and our passion makes it easier to practice concentration through them. Our second attribute—a calm and composed mind—can naturally be achieved, when we give our mind an object of engagement to focus on a task. Consciously giving our mind an object of engagement to focus keeps it busy; disturbing thoughts come only when we lack concentration and focus on the task.<br> </p> <p>Detachment puts us in a position where we are one with our task with complete focus on it. The end result is perfection, which leads to accomplishing our ambition or task by perfecting our actions. Let’s not take the word ‘detachment’ by its literal lexicon meaning. From a spiritual context, the word has the potential to bring some magical results in our life.<br> </p> <p><b><i>Kartikeya Vajpai is an MBA and a practising lawyer in the Supreme Court of India. He runs a YouTube Channel by the name ‘Your thoughts and You by Kartikeya Vajpai’ Where he shares ideas and thoughts on spirituality and positive thinking based on his upcoming book; a fiction book where he will use his experiences and exposure of spiritual practices; transcendental meditation, Buddhist Mahamudra meditation, Advaita Vedanta and Kriya Yoga to touch some deep questions on life pertaining to career, happiness, and purpose of life.</i></b></p> Sun Sep 27 16:38:43 IST 2020 cheez-badi-hai-mask <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>When wearing a mask is inevitable, all we can do is make the most of it. And that’s exactly what many among us have been doing in our different ways. For political activists, masks come in handy as they go about discharging their day-to-day responsibilities, viz., roughing up citizens who dare to ‘like’ a social media post which they themselves don’t like.&nbsp; In the bad old days, they had to disguise themselves by wrapping their faces in turbans before getting into the act. Masks are such a labour saving device!&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Now, a Shashi Tharoor may describe a mask as a sartorial accoutrement to impede the ingress of viral organisms, and preserve a salubrious state of being. But you and I will say, tsk – a mask is a mask is a mask.&nbsp; But we are wrong, and Mr. Tharoor is right. If there’s a new normal, masks are its status symbol. The old ways of flaunting your wealth and place in society don’t work anymore. There’s no point dunking yourself in J’adore or Paco Rabanne if there’s nobody around within sniffing distance of those expensive odours. Also, what’s the use of getting yourself a Lamborghini if it’s going to sit under your stilt parking all day long?&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Enter, the high fashion mask—the kind that you can depend upon in these Covid times to trigger thy neighbour’s envy. Major cosmetic manufacturers are graduating from mascara to masks and, as we speak, are coming out with their winter collection. Louis Vuitton has introduced an haute couture range of photochromatic face shields, designed to get everyone’s attention and make them go ‘oooh’. The only thing is that the oohing and aahing comes at a price. The price tag on these products is such that I am calculating whether the friends I will win and the influence I can wield with those exotic face covers are worth the money.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Let’s say then that you settle for a plain cotton mask that is just a grade above the good old gamcha. It may look like a piece of cloth, but to the advertising eye, this could be a platform for strategic product promotion. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a mask is worth a thousand slogans.&nbsp; Imagine seeing ‘Amul Doodh Peeta Hai India’ straddling the mouth of a toddler. Or better still, it could be the way for Chanel to promote lipstick that doesn’t leave a tell-tale trail. You can’t get more strategic positioning! The CSR wing of a leading IT company in India has already come out with masks featuring Warli Art—it does a lot for your face value.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Bollywood is of course one of the mass consumers of masks, for our stars need to be different people at different times. There is one mask that actors and actresses wear when the klieg lights come on, another when they are being interviewed by a fawning media and yet another when they go off on those deep inner journeys to find ecstasy or escape. As we now know, the practice is rampant—hero and heroin (oops, heroine) and the producer to boot. Tollywood and Kollywood, I am sure, are going to find material here for a story. And before long, Kerala will continue its long tradition of mixing social commentary with comedy and come up with a rib-tickling satire titled ‘The Three Masketeers’!&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For a country used to cover-ups, everyone should have taken to masks without a second thought. Yet there are still people who choose not to wear them or wear it half-mast below the chin. Such disregard for public safety and the rules of the game demands a stern reprimand best expressed in vintage Bambaiya– ‘ Yeh kya ho raha hai - mask hai ya maskari?’</p> Sat Sep 26 23:12:06 IST 2020