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Live Earth Concert In Mumbai Cancelled

1 Dec

MUMBAI : Live Earth India, a massive concert promoting environmental awareness has been cancelled due to the wave of terror attacks in Mumbai.

Celebrities from around the globe such as Pink Floyd legend Roger Waters, rockers Bon Jovi, Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am and Indian rapper Hard Kaur were scheduled to perform on December 7 at a Mumbai stadium.

Bollywood stars, including actors Amitabh Bachchan, his son Abhishek Bachchan and daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai, Hrithik Roshan and Preity Zinta were also due to perform.

A joint statement released by the organisers which includes former US vice-president Al Gore, said that everyone involved with the concert was “stunned and saddened by the tragic events” in which gunmen attacked two luxury hotels and several major sites, with at least 195 dead and scores injured in the siege.

“Together, we will continue to work for solutions to the climate crisis for the good of the people of India and around the world,” the organisers said.

“But for now, our thoughts and our prayers are with the victims of this terrible attack, with the bereaved, with the people of Mumbai and with everyone across India.”

Last year’s Live Earth concerts were a musical extravaganza, with seven concerts spanning four continents, featuring 150 acts performing over a 24-hour period.

Live Earth India’ proceeds would have been channeled to charities in the country.

– CNA/jk

Channel News Asia

Weekend Watch: Brazilian FI 'Live' On Sunday Morning

30 Oct

THE Brazilian Grand Prix F1 race in Sao Paulo will be aired “live” over RTM1 early Sunday morning at 12.30am.

New this weekend is a Japanese serial entitled Hana Kim (8TV, Sunday, 3pm).

The drama is based on the popular manga of the same name by Nakajo Hisaya.

It revolves around Ashiya Mizuki, a Japanese girl in the United States. One day, she watches young athlete Sano Izumi on television compete in the high jump.

She begins to idolise him, and decides to move to Japan to attend the same school. However, Izumi goes to an all-boys school, so Mizuki disguises herself as a boy.
The series stars Horikita Maki, Oguri Shun, Ikuta Toma, Konno Mahiru and Kamikawa Takaya.

For a little music, catch Eksklusif… Siti Nurhaliza Bersama Peminat (RTM2, tomorrow, 11pm).

In this two-hour presentation, Datuk Siti Nurhaliza will sing such hits as Ku Mahu, Kau Ku Sayang, Wanita, Penawar Rindu, Bukan Cinta Biasa and Biarlah Rahsia, as well as more traditional numbers.

Learn about the making of comedy adventure Tropic Thunder, (8TV, tomorrow, 10.30am), teen musical film High School Musical 3: Senior Year (8TV, Sunday, 10.30am) and local film Budak Kelantan (ntv7, Sunday, 1.30pm) this weekend.

Tropic Thunder, starring Robert Downey Jr, Jack Black and Ben Stiller, is about the cast in a big-budget war movie finding themselves in the middle of the jungle where the enemy shoots real bullets.

High School Musical 3: Senior Year stars Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Tisdale.

Budak Kelantan, starring Danny X-Factor, revolves around two youths who are influenced differently by city life.

TOMORROW

Midnight Movie (RTM1, 11.30pm) – Chances Are
A man dies in an accident but gets a second chance at life when he’s reborn. Starring Cybill Shepherd, Robert Downey Jr and Mary Stuart Masterson.

Bollygood On 2 (RTM2, 12.30pm) – Abhiman
A pop singer finally settles down and decides to record a duet with his wife, only to regret it when she becomes more popular. Starring Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bhaduri, G. Asrani, Bindu and Durga Khote.

Saturday Nite Special On 2 (RTM2, 9pm) – Alien Resurrection
After killing herself to prevent the government from taking a monster alien to Earth, Ellen Ripley awakens 200 years later to find she has been cloned…

Starring Sigourney Weaver, Winona Ryder and Ron Perlman.

Panggung Sabtu (TV3, 2pm) – Yun Hota Toh Kya Hota
Four strangers board a flight to the United States which makes a stop in Boston.

Here passengers board the plane – people who will decide whether they are to live or die. Starring Konkona Sen Sharma, Irfan Khan, Ayesha Takia and Jimmy Shergil.

Hong Movie Saturday (ntv7, Midnight) – Magic Touch
A con artist in “fortune-telling” one day coincidentally manages to predict what is to come. This time, he decides to put it to good use. This top-rated comedy stars Michael Hui, Leon Lai and Ricky Hui.

Chinese Movie (8TV, 8.30pm) – If You Care
Interior designer Chun-fai’s goal is to earn as much money as he can.

But he turns from a selfish person into one who is caring after a car crash.

Starring Eason Chan, Candy Lo, Gillian Chung and Eric Kot.

SUNDAY

Spice Of India (RTM2, 12.30pm) – Naan Avan Illai
Annamalai ends up in jail for cheating several women by marrying them and then making off with their money.

However, the daughter of the judge who is presiding over his case is attracted to him.

This is a remake of K. Balachander’s classic film of the same title.

Starring Sneha, Malavika, Namitha, Jyothirmayi and Keerthi Chawla.

Golden Premier (RTM2, 10pm) – Big Shot’s Funeral
Director Don Tyler is getting sicker by the day while on location in Beijing, so his assistant hires a down-and-out cameraman, YoYo, to take the reins.

YoYo is determined to make an unforgettable movie.

Starring Donald Sutherland, You Ge and Rosamund Kwan.

TV3 Cinema (TV3, 12.30am) – Rocky
An amateur boxer from Philadelphia’s tough neighbourhood gets a shot at the heavyweight championship title.

Starring Slyvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young and Carl Weathers.

Sinema (TV9, 10pm) – Cantiknya Audra Laili
Audra falls in love with Awang Lekir. Unfortunately, her family decides to marry her off to Tengku Syed Osman, a man who has disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

Starring Imuda, Aida Aris and Azean Irdawaty.

New Straits Times

UPA Against Anti-Terror Laws

14 Oct

UPA against anti-terror laws
 

New Delhi, Oct 13: The Congress-led UPA government on Monday turned down demands of tough anti-terror laws being raised by the BJP.  Union home minister Shiraj Patil, who has been facing flak from the opposition and UPA allies alike for his handling of terrorist incidents in the country, made it clear that the Centre was not bringing out a new law to counter terrorism.

Talking to reporters after the National Integration Council (NIC) meeting, Patil said that the Centre was open to suggestions and was working towards amending the existing laws to give them more teeth to tackle the rising incidents of terrorist violence in the country.  Patil, however, stressed that the laws to deal with terrrorism should not be “draconian”.

The meeting witnessed a sharp criticism of the UPA government by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP chief ministers for its handling of terrorism. In his opening remarks at the National Integration Council meeting, the home minister made a veiled attack on saffron outfits like the Bajrang Dal and VHP saying that “decisive forces and agencies and parochialism have surfaced at many places causing damage to the properties and lives of the innocent citizens.

Such tendencies and persons promoting them should be controlled and punished severely, if they do not change their attitude through persuasion and dialogue.”  However, when asked about the Centre’s decision to ban Bajrang Dal, Patil said that the government will look into it and then take a decision. Patil, meanwhile, evaded questions on imposition of President’s rule in Orissa.

Christians want Bill

New Delhi, Oct. 13: Anguished over attacks on their community in Orissa and Karnataka, Christians leaders on Monday called upon Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and members of the National Integration Council (NIC) to curb incidents of violence and pressed for a Communal Violence Bill. In a joint statement to the NIC, Christian community leaders said a Communal Violence Bill should be enacted.  They claimed that the step should have been taken by the government long ago.  

Yeddy proposes community cops
 

Bengaluru, Oct. 13: Chief Minister, B.S. Yeddyurappa on Monday proposed to appoint honorary police officers selected from among local community to maintain communal harmony in the state besides announcing the setting up of a state level security commission.  He also announced that committees would be constituted at district and taluk level to promote national integration and communal harmony.

Mr Yeddyurappa also suggested to the Union government that it should be more pro-active towards extending assistance to all state governments to tackle terrorist threats especially those funded by external forces.  He demanded that the Union government should substantially increase the financial assistance to the states for modernisation of state police in order to reinforce their anti-terrorist capabilities.

Mr Yeddyurappa described terrorism as social cancer which he said was spreading like posion across the globe and which became doubly lethal as it was mixed with religion. According to him the Union home ministry should maintain a ‘cordial’ relationship with all the states based on equality and functionality, instead of treating them as subordinate offices meant for receiving letters and instructions from the government at the Centre.

The Chief Minister asserted that Christians, Hindus and Muslims have coexisted peacefully in the state, as a result of which, the month of Ramzan and Dasara were celebrated harmoniously.

Centre’s call, say parties
 

New Delhi, Oct. 13: The National Integration Council meet threw the ball in the Centre’s court on the issue of banning Bajrang Dal.  Orissa Chief Minister and BJD leader Naveen Patnaik, whose state is witnessing a spate of communal violence by alleged members of the extremist Hindu outfit, said that it is upto the Centre to ban the Saffron outfit.

“It is for the Centre to decide (if it wanted to ban Bajrang Dal,” Mr Patnaik said. Though UPA parties have voiced their support to the government if it banned Bajrang Dal, leaders from major political parties like the BJP, CPM, Congress and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha evaded a direct reply to questions from reporters on the issue. Union home minister Shivraj Patil said that the government will look into (the demands) it and “see what action can be taken”.

BJP leader Sushma Swaraj refused to make any comment when asked about the Bajrang Dal ban issue.
CPM’s Sitaram Yechury parried the question expressing his unhappiness on terrorism being excluded from the NIC agenda.In a non-commital reply to the ban call, Mr Yechury said, “It is very important (to discuss) what has to be done (with Bajrang Dal).” In turn, he said that it was important for the National Integration Council to discuss terrorism.

Maharashtra tops riots chart
 

New Delhi, Oct. 13: India has registered 6,464 incidents of communal violence since 2000 to September this year with Maharashtra topping the states with maximum number of such cases.  The country witnessed 6,464 incidents, including 693 this year. While 2,393 people were killed, about 21,077 people were injured in these violent incidents, a statement circulated at the National Integration Council (NIC) meeting on Monday said.

Maharashtra has witnessed 1,046 incidents of communal violence in which 151 people have been killed and 4,037 injured.  However, casualty wise, Gujarat remains on the top of the list as 1,092 people, including 977 alone in 2002, lost their lives and 4,021 were injured due to riot clashes. Orissa, where attacks against Christians are continuing, has witnessed 309 such cases, including 158 incidents this year. Around 63 people have been killed, including 41 this year till September, it said.

Uttar Pradesh occupies the second slot with respect to the number of incidents. As many as 942 incidents have occurred in the state during this period in which 339 people were killed and 3,081 were injured.  Kerala has come across 159 such incidents which claimed 31 lives and injured 388 people.  Six states – Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland — did not witness a single incident of communal violence in this period.
 

AP government under attack
 

Hyderabad, Oct. 13: Expressing serious concern over the communal violence in Adilabad district, particularly in Bhainsa town, TDP and Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) on Monday criticised the Andhra Pradesh government for “failure” of law and order in the state.  “The intelligence machinery has totally failed in assessing the situation following the incidents in Bhainsa last Friday. This has aggravated the situation,” TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu said.

The former chief minister visited the violence-hit Bhainsa on Monday and consoled the families of the deceased.  He appealed to the people to observe restraint and not let tensions flare up.  Stating that violence in Adilabad worsened on account of failure of intelligence machinery, Naidu said, “it has exposed the total inefficiency of the state government.”

The PRP chief Chiranjeevi also expressed shock over the Adilabad incident, where six members of a family were burnt alive on Sunday at Watoli village, 13 km from the communal violence-hit Bhainsa town. “This is unfortunate, particularly the burning of six persons in Watoli village. Had the intelligence machinery functioned effectively, such ghastly incidents could have been averted,” Chiranjeevi said speaking to reporters in Vizianagaram, where his party is currently organising a road show. Chiranjeevi’s brother-in-law Allu Aravind visited Watoli village to console the victims’ families.

 

Naidu demands judicial probe into Watoli violence
 

Hyderabad, Oct. 13: Telugu Desam Party (TDP) president N. Chandrababu Naidu has demanded that a judicial inquiry with a sitting judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court should be ordered into the communal violence in Adilabad district.  Naidu, who visited Watoli village on Monday to console the family of the deceased, said the Central Bureau of Investigation probe ordered by the state government was only to cover up its “failure” in maintaining law and order.

He alleged that police were hiding facts related to the incidents in Bhainsa and Watoli in the last four days.  The TDP supremo also demanded that the government pay an ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh each to the kin of those killed in the violence. Naidu handed over Rs 50,000 to the bereaved families on behalf of Telugu Desam Party .  He said the government should supply ration free of cost to the families till curfew was lifted in Bhainsa town.  Naidu inspected the spots where the violence broke out on Dasara day and the house in which six persons were burnt alive in the wee hours of Sunday.  He spoke to the local people and the victims and enquired about the incidents.

Cong-DMK alliance on
 

Chennai, Oct. 13: The Congress has said its alliance with the DMK in Tamil Nadu was “going strong” and it would continue for the next year’s Lok Sabha elections.  “As for as the alliance (with DMK) is considered, it is existing and going strong. Anymore additions or deletions (of other parties) would be decided at the time of elections,” AICC observer for the state K. B. Krishnamurthy told reporters here on Sunday.  On party-related initiatives, he said the focus was to strengthen its base in Tamil Nadu. Various organisations of the party would be used to create awareness about the achievements of the UPA government among the people.

The Indo-US nuclear deal, the Right to Information Act and the National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme among others would be highlighted among the voters, he said. Office-bearers for the various wings of the party in the state would also be appointed soon, he said. Meanwhile, TN Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi on Monday refuted charges of AIADMK leader Jayalalithaa over release of 1,405 prisoners by his government to observe the birth centenary of DMK founder late C. N. Annadurai and said even her government had released over 500 prisoners in the past.  

Bachchan stable, still in hospital
 

Mumbai, Oct. 13: Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan, who is undergoing treatment at the Lilavati hospital after he complained of severe abdominal pain, is in a stable condition and recuperating, hospital sources said on Monday. Doctors at the hospital in suburban Bandra, where the actor is admitted, said the abdominal pain which Bachchan was suffering from, has been relieved due to the medicines he has been taking over the past two days.

He is responding to the medication being administered and is likely to be discharged in the next two to three days, they said. Doctors had said on Sunday that the results of the medical tests conducted on the actor had not revealed any abnormalities after he underwent a blood investigation and CT scan of the abdomen on Saturday.  Bachchan was admitted to hospital on his birthday on October 11 after he complained of severe abdominal pain and hospital sources had said the actor was suffering from suspected bowel dysfunction. Family members and close friends visited the actor in the hospital on Monday.

A CT scan was performed on Bachchan on Sunday and the report of the test is positive, hospital sources said. There is no cause for any concern, they said. However, the megastar still remains on Ryles Tube on which he was put for suspected bowel dysfunction, the sources said.

‘Pay issue to be solved soon’
 

New Delhi, Oct. 13: A ministerial committee, set up to look into the armed forces’ grievance about pay “anomalies”, is likely to sort out the matter soon.  External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, who heads the three-member committee, on Monday said he had discussed the matter with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Defence Minister A. K. Antony.

“Shortly, I am going to discuss with the finance minister (P. Chidambaram),” he told reporters here when asked about the issue.  Without giving details of his discussions with the Prime Minister, Mukherjee merely said “I do hope we will be able to sort out the issue shortly.

The committee, which also includes Antony and Chidambaram, was set up by the Prime Minister on September 25 in the wake of deep resentment in the armed forces, who complained that there were “anomalies” in the 6th Pay Commission recommendations and that it had lowered the status of their officers.  After the government notification was issued on August 29, the issues of “anomalies” in the pay for officers was first raised by Air chief Fali Homi Major in his letter in his capacity as acting Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC).

Chiefs of Navy and Army too have been voicing their resentment.  Antony has strongly favoured resolution of core issues raised by the three services chiefs in their representation to the government. He wrote to Chidambaram, raising issues of disparities”, including the ones relating to Personnel Below Officer Rank (PBORs).

Rain brings hope of monsoon in TN
 

Chennai, Oct. 13: The hopes of the northeast monsoon setting in over Tamil Nadu have brightened with heavy rains lashing several parts of the state over the last two days.  Weather officials on Monday said a trough of low pressure in south Tamil Nadu coast under the influence of the retreating southwest monsoon had brought heavy rain to the state.

The low pressure, which was still in the area, indicates a favourable trend for setting in of the northeast monsoon, they said.  Under its influence, Maniyatchi in Tuticorin district and Arupukottai in Virudhunagar district recorded heavy rainfall of 9 cm and 7 cm respectively in the last 24 hours, ending 8.30 am on Monday, meteorological department officials said.  Normally, the northeast monsoon sets in over Tamil Nadu during the middle of October. 

Meanwhile, normal life in the city was hit this morning following heavy rains. The weather also dampened the spirits of Diwali shoppers. People had a tough time wading through water logged streets, especially in Thiyagarayar Nagar, a major shopping hub in the city. Several low lying areas, especially in north Chennai were under knee-deep water. The met department has forecast heavy rain during the next 48 hours.  

Prince sad as Sonu dies
 
Chandigarh, Oct. 13: Seven-year-old Prince in Haryana’s Kurukshetra was saddened that Sonu, who had a similar ordeal in a borewell, was not as fortunate as himself to come out alive and bring cheers to an anxious nation. “Bahut dukh ho raha hai (I am feeling very sad),” Prince, a class I student at a school in Shahbad town, told over phone from his home at Haldaheri village in Kurukshetra.  Sonu’s body was taken out of a borewell on Monday in Agra’s Lehrakapura village after four days of efforts to rescue him went futile.  In July 2006, the entire nation prayed and watched Prince being rescued from a borewell in Kurukshetra district. Prince was rescued 48 hours after his fall into a 60-feet deep borewell.  

India takes world science to the moon
 

Bengaluru, Oct. 13: The US may have tormented India with technology sanctions, including on Isro, for over 30 years, but then there is something unique about India – it has the ability to turn even tormentors into friends. That’s exactly what has happened with the Chandrayaan-1 mission. When the spacecraft embarks on its journey to the moon later this month, it will carry in its belly two instruments from the US, which has for long denied India launch vehicle technology.

India will also carry three instruments from the European Space Agency (ESA) and one from Bulgaria – free of cost at a time when putting every kilogram of material into space costs thousands of dollars. The only thing Isro has asked for in return: the data from these instruments should be available to Indian scientists. That’s why Isro calls them “Opportunity Payloads”.

That makes great sense, because even in selecting which foreign instruments would go on board Chandrayaan-1, Isro ensured that all of them would complement Indian instruments and thereby help make its mission more robust, and an example of excellent international collaboration in lunar exploration.

The Chandrayaan-1 Imaging X-ray Spectrometer (CIXS) is an ESA payload that was jointly developed by the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, UK, and Isro Satellite Centre (ISAC), Bengaluru. It will map the moon to see how elements such as magnesium, aluminium, silicon, iron and titanium are distributed over its surface.

The ESA had first flown the instrument on board its own Smart-1 spacecraft to the moon. However, that instrument did not function at all because it suffered severe radiation and thermal damage on way to the moon. This time, Isro joined hands with the ESA to better design and calibrate the instrument.

“The same experiment did not work when it was sent on Smart-1. We got involved in the design and calibration of the instrument. We also redid its thermal design and strengthened it”, explains Dr. Sreekumar, Isro’s chief scientist.

Another ESA instrument – called the Sub kiloelectronvolt Atom Reflecting Analyser (SARA) – was designed jointly by the Swedish Institute of Space Physics and the Space Physics Laboratory of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram. SARA will study the surface composition of the moon, the way in which the moon’s surface reacts with solar wind, the way in which materials on the surface of the moon change and the magnetic anamolies associated with the surface.

The Smart Near-Infrared Spectrometer (SIR-2), the third ESA instrument – built by the Max Planck Institute of Germany – will scout the lunar surface for mineral resources, help understand the surface features as well as the way the different layers of the moon’s crust lie over one another.

Bulgaria’s Radiation Dose Monitor (RADOM) will study what kind and intensity of radiation hits the moon and its nearby environment. This will prove useful for future missions as Isro and other space agencies plan unamanned and manned landing missions.

America’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) will also assess lunar mineral resources at high resolution to help plan targeted future missions.

Made by the Brown University and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California, the M3 will also help understand the moon’s early geological evolution.

The other US instrument – the Mini Synthetic Aperture Radar (MiniSAR) – was made by the John Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory and the US Naval Air Warfare Centre. Its task is to detect the presence of water ice in the permanently shadowed regions of the lunar poles – deep craters and valleys where sunlight does not reach.

Dr. Sreekumar explains, “When Chandrayaan-1 finishes pushes our knowledge about the moon to the next frontier by doing high-resolution, broadband coverage of its whole surface, we can begin to address questions about its origin and evolution. Resource mapping will tell us where on the moon we ought to go next and what we ought to do there”.

“It all boils down to this: 30-40 years from now, a small group of Indians will be on the moon. At that stage, what knowledge base do we sit on?”

Mayawati bans Sonia rally
 

Rae Bareli, Oct.13: Stepping up confrontation with Sonia Gandhi, the Mayawati government on Monday decided to clamp prohibitory orders in Rae Bareli in an apparent bid to prevent the Congress president from addressing a rally in her Lok Sabha constituency tomorrow.  The move by the district administration in the Gandhi-Mayawati battle for the political turf of Uttar Pradesh came hours after the Allahabad High Court virtually stayed the state government’s decision cancelling the land allotment for a railway project in Gandhi’s Lok Sabha constituency here.  Gandhi would however proceed to Lalganj and inspect the Lifeline express train, he said.  “We have decided to impose prohibitory order under Section 144 Cr.PC on Tuesday,” the district magistrate Santosh Srivastav said.

Get passport in three days
 

New Delhi, Oct. 13: Applying for and getting passports will be as easy as 1-2-3 with the government on Monday awarding a Rs 1,000-crore e-project to TCS for issuing the travel document to citizens in just three days.  Passports applied for under the ‘tatkal’ (instant) scheme would be delivered in just one day.
This is Tata Consultancy Services’ second largest e-governance deal with the government which aims to nearly quadruple the number of passport counters to 1,250 from the current 345 and bring the entire process of issuing the travel document online.

The online passport delivery service project, awarded by the ministry of external affairs, will cut down the process of issuing a new passport once police verification is completed.  “After implementation of the project, which will be managed end-to-end by TCS, the ministry expects that the process of issuing a new passport will be completed in three working days while passports issued under the tatkal scheme will be despatched on the same day subject to address and police verification of applicants,” TCS CEO and managing director, Mr S. Ramadorai, said.

TCS will open 77 new passport seva kendras across the country by January 2010 which will be fully computerised. The communication between police and passport office too would be done online and a secure network is being created.  Bangalore and Chandigarh would be the first to get the new kendras by June 2009 on a pilot basis. “The project, based on a public-private partnership model, aims to provide passport-related services to the citizens in a speedy, convenient and transparent manner.

“The sovereign function of granting and issuing passport remains with the MEA and TCS will be our technology and operations partner in this project,” the foreign secretary, Mr Shiv Shankar Menon, said. Apart from strengthening TCS’s government vertical deals in number and size, the deal has come at a time when the IT sector is facing the heat over the global financial crisis in the US, which accounts for about 60-70 per cent of IT firm’s revenues.

TCS had earlier bagged the MCA-21 programme of the ministry of corporate affairs for online company registrations.

Pilgrims flock to ‘sati’ site
 

Raipur, Oct. 13: Dozens of people here offered prayers on Monday, at the site where a woman committed sati by jumping on to her husband’s funeral pyre, despite a police restriction on the worship of the woman.
On Saturday, Lalmati Verma, 71, jumped onto her husband’s funeral pyre after all the villagers had left the site in Chechar village, about 125 km from here.

As the news of her having committed sati spread, people carrying coconut, sweets and incense sticks began flocking to the site. Additional police personnel have been deployed in the village, which has a population of about 1,000, to impose a ban on the worship. “Police have banned the worship of the woman as we see it as an act of glorification of the banned Hindu custom,” Mr Amit Kumar, Raipur district superintendent of police, said.

“It’s hard to stop the people from worshipping the woman, especially when a sati temple is already existing close to the site. The temple is dedicated to a woman of the same village who committed sati nearly four decades ago,” a police official said on condition of anonymity. Lalmati had come for the funeral of her husband Shivnandan Verma, 80, dressed in a bridal sari. Before committing suicide, she made a couple of rounds of the pyre holding a coconut and a copy of the Ramayana. Police came to know about the incident late on Saturday night. A first information report (FIR) was lodged on Sunday after a local police team visited the sati site and interrogated dozens of villagers.

Resource use high in India
 

New Delhi, Oct 13: India’s consumption of natural resources is now almost double of what the country’s land, air and water can provide, an overshoot equivalent to what has led to the current global economic meltdown, says a report released here on Monday. Prepared by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the California-based Global Footprint Network (GFN), the report says: “With a per person footprint of 0.75 global hectares and per person biocapacity of 0.4 global hectares, India is running an ecological deficit of approximately 100 per cent”.

Ecological footprint, global hectare and biocapacity are among measures developed by the GFN to calculate the difference between what the natural resources of a country can provide and what is being consumed. “The ecological footprint measures human demand on the biosphere in terms of the land and sea area required to provide the resources we use and to absorb the waste we generate,” says the report.
While India’s ecological footprint is now behind only that of the US and China, the country’s per capita footprint is low.

The 0.75 global hectares per person is far lower than the global average of 2.2, which puts India 125th among 152 countries. “India represents approximately six percent of the world’s ecological footprint, four percent of the world’s biocapacity and 17 percent of the world’s population,” the report says.
 

Schizophrenia has gene links
 
Sydney, Oct 13: Scientists at the Schizophrenia Research Foundation in Chennai and Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research have found significant evidence that links the chromosome 1 region with schizophrenia among a group of people in Tamil Nadu. The study is based on long collaboration between Bryan Mowry, Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research executive director, and Rangaswamy Thara, director of the Schizophrenia Research Foundation. Over the years, both these groups have been recruiting and analysing schizophrenia samples from genetically similar Indian castes. Mowry said the significance of the findings reflected the unique features of this particular Indian popu

Deccan Chronicle

Bollywood Legend Amitabh Bachchan Hospitalised

11 Oct

MUMBAI: Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan, who turned 66 on Saturday, was taken to hospital after reportedly suffering abdominal pain, an AFP photographer at the scene said.

The actor, who has superstar status in India, was seen leaving his home in the northern Mumbai suburb of Juhu with his actor son, Abhishek, and daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai, in an ambulance.

Bachchan, wearing a brown-coloured woollen cap and blue ensemble, was spotted lying down inside the vehicle before being supported by Abhishek and another man as he walked into the Nanavati Hospital, the photographer said.

The ambulance arrived just before 1:00 pm (0530 GMT), he added.

The Times Now television channel said Bachchan had complained of stomach pain since Friday evening. The cause was not immediately known.

Bachchan underwent bowel surgery and was in hospital for nearly three weeks in November 2005. One of those weeks was spent in intensive care.

With a career spanning four decades in India’s movie industry, doctors warned Bachchan to slow down when he returned to work.

He also suffered a severe stomach injury in 1982 while shooting his film, “Coolie”.

Bachchan was last seen in his first English-language movie, “The Last Lear”.

– AFP/so

Channel News Asia

Kisah Filem Aishwarya Dan Abhishek

21 Sep

PEMBUAT filem, Rajiv Menon baru-baru ini mengumumkan rancangannya untuk membuat filem yang diterbitkan pada tahun 1973, Abhimaan yang akan dibintangi pasangan Aishwarya Rai dan Abhishek Bachchan. Namun, khabar angin mengatakan projek tersebut tidak berjaya. Penerbit asal filem ini, Pawan Kumar dikatakan tidak bersedia memberikan hak cipta filem tersebut.

Filem asal ini dibintangi Amitabh Bachchan dan Jaya Bachchan. Kumar yang kini sedang sibuk dengan projek lain, setahun yang lalu pernah mendekati pasangan suami isteri Bachchan (Abhishek and Aishwarya) untuk peranan utama dalam filemnya, namun tidak mendapat maklum balas daripada mereka.

Kumar yakin tema Abhimaan masih relevan hingga sekarang iaitu mengisahkan pasangan suami isteri bekerja di bidang yang sama dan isteri lebih sukses daripada suaminya. Senario tahun 1973 itu telah mendapat sedikit penambahan konteks masa kini. Kumar tidak mungkin mendekati Ash dan Abhi untuk peranan utama di filem itu.

Jadi, jika segala sesuatu berjalan sesuai dengan rancangan, Ash dan Abhi akan tetap menjadi watak utama penerbitan semula filem Abhimaan tetapi dengan produser dan sutradara yang lain.

Utusan Malaysia

Celebrate Mooncake Festival With Stars

11 Sep

Yoon will be among the 8TV hosts who will be performing at the 8TV Chinese Carnival 2008 Mini Concert, airing live on 8TV tomorrow at 5pm.
Yoon will be among the 8TV hosts who will be performing at the 8TV Chinese Carnival 2008 Mini Concert, airing live on 8TV tomorrow at 5pm.

THE 8TV Chinese Carnival 2008 Mini Concert will be aired live from Berjaya Times Square Boulevard, Kuala Lumpur, tomorrow at 5pm. Join your favourite Chinese celebrities and 8TV hosts in the hour-long concert as they celebrate the Mooncake Festival.

Among them are John, Henley, Danny Wan, Orange, Wu Jia Hui, Jet Yi, popular 8TV hosts Gary Yap (8 E-News), Natalie (8 E-News & Go Travel), Ping Ping & Jeffrey (8 Style), Dylan (Double, Triple or Nothing), Rickman, MeiSim, Ken, Orange (Go-Go-Go!), Yoon & Phirence (Ho Chak!) and Desmond (Unveil The Truth). Madonna Hard Candy TV Special (8TV, tomorrow, 10.30am) will feature snippets of interviews with and video clips of the popular diva. Sports fans can catch the delayed telecast of the Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix race over RTM2 on Sunday at 12.30am. A new programme on parenting – Headstart – debuts tomorrow over ntv7 at 2pm. Those who didn’t have the chance to watch Ramadan special cookshow The 30-Minute Chef and also Hell’s Kitchen Served Raw can watch the programmes over ntv7 on Sunday at 4.30pm and 10.45pm respectively. Local teen movie Kami, will hit the cinemas nationwide on the first day of Hari Raya. Catch The Making of … Kami on Sunday over ntv7 (1.35pm) for a look behind-the-scenes. Full of retro songs by some of the nation’s talented indie bands, the film features Syarul Ezany and Liyana Jasmay as the main cast.

TOMORROW

Bollygood Time On 2 (RTM2, 12.30pm) – Speed

Sanjay, an undercover MI5 agent, receives a CD which contains the recording of his kidnapped wife, Urmila, and is asked to follow instructions to ensure his wife’s safety. He realises that he is being used as a weapon to assassinate the Prime Minister of India who is visiting London. Starring Zayed Khan, Urmila Matondkar and Aashish Chaudhary.

Saturday Nite Special (RTM2, 9pm) – Die Hard 2

In their bid to rescue a drug lord, a team of terrorists have seized control of an airport. They have jammed all electrical equipment even the runway lights. The only one who can solve this is in the airport. John McClane, has to act fast as the planes are running low on fuel. Starring Bruce Willis, Bonnie Bedelia and William Atherton.

Panggung Sabtu (TV3, 2pm) – Eklavaya

For nine generations, Eklavaya’s family has protected Devigarh, a centuries-old citadel in Rajasthan. But there’s unrest as peasants are coming under attack because of the king’s brother. Starring Amitabh Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan, Sanjay Dutt and Jackie Shroff.

TV3 Cinema (TV3, 12.30am) – The Rocketeer

Young pilot Cliff Secord stumbles on a top secret rocket-pack and with the help of his mechanic and mentor, Peevee, he attempts to save his girlfriend and stop the Nazis as The Rocketeer. Straight from the pages of a pulp comic, this film recreates Hollywood in the 1930s, complete with gangsters, Nazi spies at the height of the Age of Aviation. Starring Bill Campbell, Jennifer Connelly, Alan Arkin, Timothy Dalton and Paul Sorvino.

Hong Movie Saturday (ntv7, 11.50pm) – Sad Movie

Ha-Seok has been unemployed for three years and his girlfriend wants to break off with him. To win her back, Ha-Seok sets up a “separation agency”. Can he save his own relationship by advising other people on how to prevent break-ups? Starring Tae Hyun Cha and Woo Sung Jung.

Chinese Movie (8TV, 8.30pm) – The Lion Roars

The story, set in the Sung Dynasty, is about Liu, a skilled, strong-willed woman and her chance encounter with Chen, a smart and handsome poet. Liu and Chen fall in love but they encounter many obstacles. Starring Cecilia Cheung and Louis Koo.

SUNDAY

Sunday Day Time Special (RTM2, 3pm) – Baltic Storm

A journalist with a leading German television magazine in Berlin is trying to get a scoop on a military black market arms deal. Starring Greta Scacchi, Jurgen Prochnow and Donald Sutherland.

New Straits Times

Blogbusters

10 Aug

Blogbusters
 

Who says Bollywood stars are an insulated lot? Not their fans at least. Ever since the baap of all actors, Amitabh Bachchan publicly announced that he has started blogging on Bigb.bigadda.com, his blog is inundated with messages from thousands of fans. Bloggers have found the perfect medium to bridge the gap and stay tuned into updates on their favourite icons’ lives. Fans believe this is an intimate form of communication, almost like an entry into the star’s inner world.

No wonder star blogs have become hopelessly addictive. Be it aamirkhan.com or mynameiskaran.com (Karan Johar) or duskadum.blogpsot.com (Salman Khan), or rgvvarma.spaces.live.com (Ram, Gopal Varma)῅Bollywood personalities are hooked to this medium as they find it a personal canvas to vent their emotions and express opinions. Amitabh Bachchan, who is currently on his Unforgettable tour in the US, has been blogging at all odd hours every single day. Sometimes his entries are short and crisp and he’s instantly apologetic about lack of time. There are other days where he finds it hard to conceal his elation at the response to the tour. His childlike glee is evident in an excerpt from his blog:

Day 95

LOS ANGELES!! LOS ANGELES!! LOS OF ANGELES!!

What an audience! What a show! What response! Simply incredible!

It has been the best ever for me. And all the credit goes to the utterly fantastic fans and audience at the LA Sports Arena, that packed the venue right up to the rafters and just egged and shouted and screamed us into a performance that all of us will remember for a lifetime.

I popped every antibiotic available, every energiser around, prayed as hard as I could and gave it all I had. I don’t know how it all happened, but it happened. I stand up in salutation to the people at the venue, to the people of Los Angeles, to all the fans and well-wishers. You did it! And I humbly bow down to you with the deepest respect and love. Thank you!!

We need your prayers and wishes,

Amitabh Bachchan

Actress Koel Purie believes that the film fraternity has always set trends. “Since blogging has become such a huge trend, why should the industry be left behind? If Mr Amitabh Bachchan sounds articulate, it is because that’s the way he speaks. If Salman sounds blunt it’s because he speaks from the heart. I’m not surprised that blogs have become popular because it is a direct interaction between the star and his fans. I have a professional blog called onthecouchwithkoel and the feedback has been heartening so far.”

The web page of director Karan Johar’s blog offer a visual treat for fans who get to see Hrithik and AB in conversation, Jaya and AB sharing an intimate moment, SRK and his daughter Suhana in a tight clinch. Here’s an excerpt:

Reel Reminiscing

Wednesday, July 30, 2008 12:47:04 PM

The other day at home sifting through piles of memories, I came across some pictures that instantly transported me to a time in my life that meant so many things to me, and the people surrounding me. The making of my second film, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham was a larger than life experience. The scale and opulence of the film has been talked about for years, but in truth, the film had a cast that we may never see together on screen again. The characters had lives that were unabashed and indulgent, and my actors played that with confidence. Most importantly, it was the film of mine that my father loved the most.

Bollywood super brat Salman Khan seems to have a one-point agenda. His blog has largely been used to clear conceptions about himself. And going by the controversies the star seems to be involved in, it is a full-time job.

While enough has been written and televised about the famous feud between Sallu and SRK on Katrina Kaif’s birthday bash at Olive in Mumbai, our stud of a star wanted to have the last word. And what better way to express his anger than the blog. Here’s a recent update:

Day 37 – 10 Ka Dum

Friday, July 25, 2008

For the next few days you will hear and read a lot of shit about me, a lot of it. Keep on reading it῅but don’t react to it. I don’t. Like sometimes when you are travelling in a fast car and you find a dog chasing your car῅barking away. You don’t stop the car and start reacting to the dog῅u don’t῅there’s no point. I don’t wish to react. I don’t have the time for it. Besides, I don’t understand the language of dogs, except for my two – Myson and Myjaan.

Unfortunately, in our industry the developing trend is not to celebrate others’ success῅ every time another person is successful there will be someone trying to pull him down. You don’t increase your own efforts to become successful but try to always decrease someone else’s success῅ that’s the mantra of the industry.

I chose to remain silent. I do not have the time to spend reacting. But even silence speaks. Silence makes more noise than thunder. ῅Bandar sher ko chidhata hai῅. Sirf aawaaz kar sakta hai… Kabhi sher ko maar sakta hai? He can’t do anything. But when the lion roars, a whole pack of monkeys fall from trees!

So keep on reading῅read all the negatives῅read till they get tired of writing. Everyone goes through this῅but not for long. I say just look good, feel good and do good, that’s it. I love you all.

But film critic Deepa Gahlot, who has been at the receiving end of filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma’s ire, feels that this trend is short-lived. “It will fizzle out soon as none of these personalities have that kind of time. An Amitabh Bachchan takes time out of his daily schedule to blog. However it’s more of an one-sided affair. For instance, Ramu accused me of peddling scripts to filmmakers and when I sent him a rejoinder denying it, he didn’t carry my reply. If you want clarification, ask me questions through a public forum and I’m willing to reply. But it doesn’t happen that way,” she says.

Ram Gopal Varma claims that he is not net-savvy but believes that blogging is the medium of the future. “This is the perfect way for celebrities to represent facts correctly. I believe that anyone who is interested in personal and first-hand information gets it straight from the horse’s mouth,” he says. Here’s an excerpt from the director’s blog:

Ram Gopal Varma

Reactions to reactions:

Instead of reviewing reviews of Contract I decided to do that on my series of reactions henceforth. If the idea is to react to the reactions of various people on my thoughts and works, then why should I give special attention to the Khalids and the Deepas of the world? I find more juicier, bitchier and insightful comments coming from others. Come on guys. Let’s have fun!

But what about the allegation that stars use blogs to hit out at critics? “At the end of the day, a blog reflects the actor’s personality. Something in my blog that some perceive as rude could appear funny to others. It is a matter of perspective. At any rate I’m not as articulate as Mr Bachchan and what I express are my random thoughts,” he says.

Actor Akshay Kumar is all set to start his blog but has admitted in a televised interview that he will not use the medium to take pot-shots at his colleagues.

However there are some actors like a Shah Rukh Khan who simply do not have the time or inclination to blog, and others like actor Arjun Rampal have started getting interested in the medium. Says Arjun, “I think it’s cool and a great way to stay in touch with fans. I haven’t read any of the blogs but I’m sure they are fun. I personally haven’t looked at blogging yet but who knows I might do so sometime soon.”

While all star blogs are accessible, one has to create a special user name and password in order to gain entry to Aamir Khan’s blog. This is a new development. Wonder why Khan feels the need to make his netizens compulsorily create an ID. Perhaps the info on his blog is exclusive and the finicky Khan wants to ensure that only die-hard fans log onto his blog. Will the rest of the Bollywood fraternity follow this trend? Let’s wait and watch.

Rocky relationships run deep
 
By Dr Sharda Batra

My niece Jea has had a constant feature in her life – her trials and conflicts with a classmate she just cannot get rid of or wish away. Her friend/enemy has continued to bully, tease and torment her since kindergarten. Jea has tried reasoning, arguing, ignoring and complaining about her. Nothing seems to work.

Naina, an attractive married woman and mother of two, was intensely attached to her broad-shouldered dad and instinctively searched for him in any man she related to, including the one she married. On going through some therapy sessions including one of past life catharsis, Naina broke down while recounting an incident from her childhood.

Apparently, her father had left her mother for another woman who already had a daughter. One day, her father invited her for a nature camp. Naina, who was all of nine years, was delirious with joy at sharing a good time with the man she loved so dearly. However, when she reached there she found that her father was accompanied by his new family and probably had invited her to introduce her to them. Naina said she would never forget how she sat alone under the stars and wept as if her heart would break. Her father was not really interested in her for her own sake, the purpose of this outing was a practical one and not motivated by sheer love. Naina felt terribly let down. The hurt and expectation of the same flavour of love from her man continued to mar her relationships.

Most times we are related to or associated with people who bruise us not just physically, but also our fragile sense of who we are, our social images and professional standings. Generally, such people are very close to us, like a parent or lover is. At times it could be a colleague, a market competitor or even a house-help. This someone knows how to feather touch your feelings till your emotions overwhelm and carry you away in their powerful and blind current. Reason and logic fail, perceptions turn wonky, and the overruling emotion is of being rejected, humiliated, pushed or manipulated, depending on the person and situation.

The threads of such a relationship form a web and you find yourself inextricably trapped in the net. And if one actively gets out of the relationship, one finds that though the name and form of the next contender changes, the web and its pulls and restrictions remain the same. The prison remains the same, only the prisonkeeper changes.

Why is it that human lives and relationships follow some archetypal themes? Why does loving someone often hurt? Why do we suffer most at the hands of those we trust the most? What are the impulses which attract us to some people and is there a technique to detach from painful patterns?

Each of us has an awareness or consciousness, which has many layers. The most superficial layer is of thoughts and perceptions. Deeper are symbols, dreams and memories. Deepest is raw energy and a connection to all beings and every event.

Life is eternal and we get attracted to the same person, group of people again and again, driven by invisible forces and intangible threads of energy created by past actions, forgotten words and ignored thoughts. Some karmic debt of give and take and the law of this karmic exchange make sure that we encounter the same person. The material universe is governed by some laws – the law of gravity, the law of magnetism, etc. The law of cause and effect is one such infallible law. Every cause has an equal and opposite effect, says Newton and the sage nods wisely in assent. Past Life Regression has revealed instances where a man cheats on his wife causing her immense anguish. The triangle is replicated in another lifetime and the wife and the other woman swap roles with the other woman now playing the wronged spouse. Or a violent husband and his wife may exchange actions. However, all karmic replays are not so simple and the guru or the best friend may be born as an only child to a couple and by his untimely demise hasten the evolution of their spirit.

As you sow so you shall reap with intention being the most important factor in judgement.

It is startling (to say the least) when one realises that one has been in the same drama with probably the same person for lifetimes. The purpose of this drama and replay is to rise above it, through it. For accounts to be squared, one or both/all the parties involved have to transcend the conflict by allowing the pain to deepen their understanding of the universality of human nature.

For any of us caught in an unhappy karmic exchange the steps to follow would be:

1. Remind yourself that you yourself have attracted this person/situation in your life by some causes and energies that you have created.

2. That what you intensely love or grossly abhor, in other words whatever disturbs you in the other, is a projection of attributes deep in that part of your consciousness that is universal. All that I detest is something I am capable of. I need to accept this.

3. Train your mind and body to retain their equanimity at every stressful juncture. So conquer your inner nature and do not lose your cool. Neither does it help to clam up and withdraw.

4. Acceptance plays a key role. Accept that if you are unique so is the other person, and give him the space to express his uniqueness.

5. A deep compassion and unconditional love flows which either heals the relationship or carries you to another frequency where you now attract someone of that frequency.

If you introspect, allow yourself to undergo a cathartic flushing, there is always something which has to emerge from the deep recesses of your consciousness to be manifested in daily life.

An increasing awareness of who you are, your shadow areas and also the strengths, are thrown into visibility by the friction of this interaction. A seasoning of the personality and ripening of the soul is catalysed by this ceaseless interaction and energy (karmic) exchange over lifetimes.When you view a relationship from this perspective and take responsibility for your change, slowly there is realisation which clarifies and consoles. More than a squaring of karmic accounts, is the fact that the ferment of the emotional exchange in a relationship adds maturity to the soul and brings a realisation of its true identity.

Gradually, it dawns that the other is another aspect of you and that all relationships have a purpose – to guide you to your self.

Each one is here on his own trip and yet we are together in the journey – to aid, to teach and train and enlighten ourselves through the other. Like Gibran said – “Be like the pillars of a temple. Let there be spaces in your togetherness.”

The writer is a psycho-spiritual counsellor, alternate therapist, medical specialist and pathologist

God inspired me to move on
 
By Ritu Kumar

I see God in the rising sun, in the raindrops slapping on the ground, in the snow settling on the mountains, and in my inner self. I have always believed that it has to be more than just science to make these things happen. Although this understanding might surpass us, as we are human beings who are limited and bound to material bodies, there’s someone watching all of us for sure. He is someone who is more than just a creator of this universe.

Looking back to where I started my journey of spirituality, my memories take me back to the time when I was 26. I started working from Serampore, a city in the Hooghly district in West Bengal. That was the place where I learned printing. The city is very close to my heart. My first sari was printed in the same place when I was 26. After 10 to 15 years, around the time when my block prints became a rage among designers and many industrialists, people started stealing and duplicating my designs.

I acknowledged that the mills in Varanasi and Surat were not only copying my designs, but also started selling them and were making big moolah. I felt dejected. It was a very low phase of my life as my exclusive designs were everywhere in the market, without my name. I decided to enter the combat zone and take these mill owners to court. The journey was so arduous that I sometimes feel that God cradled me in his own hands at that point of time. From there, a fight began and I won the first copyright case in the country.

Since I was given the copyright for my prints, we started raiding many industries and factories, which were stealing my designs. One day, in Serampore, a premise was raided. I was taken aback to see how the designs which were carved out of my soul and heart, were conveniently being copied and sold out like trash. We successfully shut the place down, but the grief clung to my heart.

On my way back, when I crossed the Ganges, I decided to stop by Belur Math, the city that was founded by Swami Vivekananda. It was there that I realised it wasn’t the end. Sitting there, on the banks of the holy river Ganges, God gave me the inspiration to move on. That event signalled that I was ready to move on with my life. While it didn’t mean the end of my grief, that evening on the banks of Ganges brought me a peace I hadn’t experienced before. It felt as if God whispered into my ears that I’m not alone, and there’s a long way to go before I give up. That knowledge was no small thing. Up until then I’d experienced a roller-coaster of emotions, many of which centered on rage and fear. My process of healing began from that very moment.

As told to Shruti Badyal

Democracy needs a certain context
 

I love democracy, I love freedom. But to transform a country which has lived for 2,000 years in slavery is not possible through democratic means; it will take 2,000 years or even more. The mind of India has become accustomed to slavery, and when you give freedom suddenly to slaves they go berserk. It is like suddenly throwing open the doors of a prison and releasing all the prisoners, making them free.

l Democracy needs a certain context which is missing in India

We have more problems than we had before. We have not been able to solve a single problem; we have created thousands of other problems.

The slavery has gone into the very blood and bones, into the very marrow of the nation. To uproot it, something surgical is needed. Just telling people to be free is not enough. And how can the surgery be done if democratic means are adopted? Because “democratic means” simply means just telling people to be more understanding, to be more democratic, to be more independent. But that is not going to help. It is like telling an ill person to be healthy.

l A surgery is needed

Something drastic is needed, something radical is needed, not only medical treatment but something surgical. That is possible only if for 15 years at least the country lives under a benevolent dictatorship. Then compulsory birth control can be imposed on the people. Otherwise their freedom to reproduce is going to create so many problems that no government can ever solve them. By the time you solve a few problems, thousands more people will have arrived with all their problems.

l Poor people cannot be democratic

And when there is so much poverty, so much starvation, talking about democracy is all nonsense. It is like playing a beautiful song on the flute before a hungry man. The song is beautiful but to play the song before a hungry person is absurd, it is ridiculous.

The so-called Indian democracy helps only to increase its problems, to increase violence, because when people are hungry they become violent. These communal riots and all the rape, murder, arson, these show that the animal is surfacing.

l Democracy is borrowed from the west

This democracy helps only the politicians. It is better to drop this empty word “democracy”; it is just a beautiful word borrowed from others. In fact, all the great Indian leaders were educated in England. They saw democracy working beautifully there. They came back to India; they had seen democracy functioning perfectly well. It can function in England, but where is the context here? India should think first about its own tradition, history, past, and in that context we should create a government.

Courtesy Osho International Foundation/www.osho.com

Ash is everything I could ask for
 

When I am asked how does it feel to be married, I have to think hard because not much has changed really. I am living with my best friend, who is a great companion and she has made life easy for me. Ash is all proper, and correct, while I can be clumsy and a bit all over the place. As it is I don’t think it’s easy to live with men, and Ash has fit in perfectly with my life. Everyday is a learning and growing experience, and when you are with someone like her, there is bound to be a lot of exchange of experiences, stories which keep every day interesting and challenging. Sometimes I do have to try and match up to her, you can’t always let the wife have the upper hand, can you!

Marriage has been a slow, natural and gradual progression for us – first we were friends and then we started getting to know each other and became close to each other. But I won’t say we are still in our honeymooning period, because I have been constantly working through the last year and so has she. So whenever she’s away shooting, I try and be with her and vice versa. Every married couple would try and do that, to try and snatch a few more quality moments with their partners. There’s nothing wrong with that.

It’s not like Ash stops me from hanging out with my friends. But having said that, once you get married and have someone to go back home too, it’s natural that your priorities change. But I haven’t deserted any of my friends as it’s claimed, neither are we staying aloof from the industry. It’s not like we have become an island in ourselves or something. This whole thing about us laughing at Priyanka and Harman on stage is a ridiculous allegation – that would be very ill mannered, and neither of us is brought up that way.

We understand there’s always going to be speculation about us as a couple because of who we are. And I wouldn’t be foolish to say that our relationship is just like any other ‘normal’ couple. Firstly, I don’t understand what normal is. And secondly, given the external factors that constantly play a hand, it affects the scenario. Ash was hoping things would cool down for us in this regard after we got married, but I always knew it was just the beginning.

Now we are getting used to hearing stories of our fights, public showdowns… which are so untrue. If I have to pick a fight with Ash, I won’t choose a hotel lobby to do so. Give us that much credit at least. Of course, we have our differences and we argue and discuss things, but we also have a rule that we sort out the issues before going to bed rather than letting them fester while sleeping over it.

Ash is everything and more than what I could have asked for. Does she cook for me? No, she doesn’t have the time. But does she look after me; give me a sense of perspective on things? Yes.

Is my marriage affecting our work? How can it? It’s not like we are constantly glued to each other and only working with each other. There is no brand Bachchan as it’s made out to be. There is nothing one is trying to prove to any one. Not when we are making an appearance, not in the shows we are doing at the world tour, nor in the statements we make. Life’s just bliss right now, and nothing can change that.

Family Fission Goes ‘Critical’
 
By Ranjan Kamath

On August 15, India enters what in the 21st century is deemed ‘middle age’; a time when we consider our achievements and contemplate the legacy we confer on our children – India’s next generation.

Our Prime Minister will pride our imminent membership of the nuclear club, from the ramparts of the Red Fort but what will not find mention is the Indian nuclear family ‘going critical’.

My parents and other children of independence selflessly provided us ‘nuclear’ security built with the brick and mortar of tradition and values.

Meanwhile our children, for whom we create this future energy, deplete emotionally while we revel in the empowerment of having achieved critical mass with our knowledge economy.

The price paid for this bacchanalia of empowerment, is the ‘nuclear fission’ of the family; cocking a snook at the continuity of tradition and undermining familial security sans social safeguards.

Under imminent threat is the atom of the nuclear family – the child.

Our constitutional fathers cannot be faulted for not anticipating this sorry status; else they would have guaranteed children fundamental rights to both parents at all times.

In 1990 with India signing the internationally legally binding UN Convention on the Rights of the Child http://www.unicef.org/crc/ India committed itself to ensuring children’s rights and accountability before the international community.

With divorce becoming the rule, rather than exception, children are subjected to parental abuse in custodial battles. They are reduced to disputed ‘property’ rather than ‘hearts and minds’.

For five years I was a father to two sons, before being plunged into the insanity of a custody battle. Instantly, black coats oversaw my mutation from loving father to social psychopath. Blind Justice sanctified my ‘guilt’, generously affording me time to establish my innocence.

My ensuing campaign was not for child custody – never having lost the hearts and minds of my children but for the restoration of my children’s rights to a father, fighting for the right to fulfil my parental duties and responsibilities.

I was advised to “move on, get married and sire more children”by well-wishers who considered mine a losing battle. Feminists and social workers scoffed at my determination, legally secure in the “infallibility of the woman”.

A female officer of justice, admonished me for “going against Dharma” by seeking access to my children, till I reminded her we were in the precincts of law῅ not Dharma!

Five years later, when my sons opted to “stay with Papa”, the State Womens’ Commission ineffectually attempted to ‘lynch’ me with justice. As a man and father, I had ‘violated’ the rights of a woman by depriving a mother of her children.

While the judicial system yawns awake from its anachronistic slumber the processes of justice remain punitive for children, with custodial matters taking years to resolve. Men are legally emasculated by the urban woman who abuses the protection granted by the justice system -to her rural counterpart -to wreak vengeance on husband and father.

Skilful lawyers scavenge on the remnants of a nuclear family in its death throes, earning handsomely from warring couples who could have invested instead in their child’s education. Feminists and social workers reduce all men to village drunks and brutish wife-beaters to justify their raison d’etre ignoring the social dichotomy of rural and urban India. Ofcourse, the rights of the ‘vulnerable’ child are being ‘protected’ too, by denying it a father!

In my encounter with child rights’ organisations, I was comforted with the information that abuse in the eyes of the law, includes child labour, physical and sexual violence, not mental and certainly not parental abuse!

If we continue to ‘split our atoms’, we will nurture a dysfunctional generation of youth with explosive potential beyond our social control.

So, let not fathers and mothers seek votes of confidence to safeguard our atomic interests; if we cannot prevent fission between parents, let us prevent fall-out by evolving parenting protocols to insulate our atoms, so that India can envision an energy rich nuclear future.

You can mail your responses to ranjan.kamath@ gmail.com

Women men won’t commit to
 

“I am always attracted to the men that have commitment issues,” said a recently dumped friend, valiantly trying to figure out what went wrong. “I think I’m just attracted to the type of man who isn’t into a relationship. I get too emotionally attached but all they’re really after is a quick shag and then they want to move on to their next conquest.”

But I wasn’t so sure. The last three men she’d dated had all started out desperately wanting to shack up with her in connubial bliss. (After all, she is 6-foot with a hot Pilates bod and a tomboy streak that sends any man’s pheromones spinning in a tizzy.) Yet after dating them for around three to four months, everything suddenly goes pear-shaped. All three have whipped out the age-old antiquated axiom: “I’m just not ready for a relationship.”

While she’s currently sitting at zero-for-three and mightily confused, it could be easy to conclude a pertinent message that has emerged: It’s not them, it’s her. Coming on too strong, perhaps? Too emotionally needy?

When I suggested to this little fact to her, she wasn’t buying it.

“Maybe it’s because subconsciously I don’t want to commit,” she retorted. “I’m repeatedly asked out by the Mr Nice but I’m just not interested. He doesn’t give me that excitement I crave either.”

There are many women around the world that are complaining of the same conundrum: They simply can’t snag a boyfriend (let alone a husband) or even a relationship that lasts more than the four-month mark. So what is it about these women that makes an eligible man run a mile?

In trying to come up with a shortlist of things of things women shouldn’t do to get a man to commit, I decided to consult a bunch of folks to determine where the women are going wrong.

Women who are too needy. When women try desperately to get their man to commit, she tends to turn (in his eyes) into a bonafide bunny-boiling psychopath who is trying to cramp his style and close him in. A continuous stream of phone calls, barrage of text messages, invitations, outings with her folks (and temper tantrums if he wants to see his mates), is enough to make him all but run away to the desert to remain celibate for all eternity.

The writer is an author, columnist & dating expert

(You can mail your responses to asksambrett@gmail.com)

Music tunes in to video games
 

Jayprakash Mehta always had a passion for classic rock. He was the guitarist of his college band, and now after 20 years, he is passing on his passion to his children, but in a playful manner. “Thanks to video games,” says Jayprakash. “I always wanted my children to feel the music, the way I do. Thanks to Rock Band, today both me and my children share a common interest in music,” adds Jayprakash. Recently, video games have proved to be the trusted missionaries of music, and in a way are promoting music of the bygone era, immortalising legendary names among the younger generation. After the Internet, musicians today are looking up to video games to reach out to their fans, and this venture has been mutually beneficial for both the musicians as well as the video game manufacturers.

Testimony to the popularity of the games are international acts like Jimi Hendrix, Aerosmith, Metallica, Guns ‘n’ Roses to name a few. In the coming years, Harmonix’s Rock Band-II game will feature Guns ‘n’ Roses’ Shackler’s Revenge from their most anticipated album Chinese Democracy along with tracks by AC/DC and Rush. Another game manufacturer Activision, recently released a version of Guitar Hero dedicated to Aerosmith, and another version based on metal gods Metallica is due by next year. There are bands like Motley Crew and Rush which are re-mastering their hits after making endorsement deals with various video game manufacturing companies.

So, are video game manufacturers looking at music as the new tool to promote games or is it the other way round? Says Chirag Srikant, a game developer from Jump Games, “Though music is a very important part of video games, I don’t think games can do without it. Endorsing musicians for background scores in video games is a unique business model. Games like Rock Band and Guitar Heroes have only a few characters and levels in them, so they are banking on music to help them do good business.” However, the popularity of music in video games has also given way to a new genre of music called “video game music”. Today the web has a number of artistes who are termed as video game musicians, and the list seems to be incorporating new names on everyday basis (Mark Griskey, Inon Zur to name a few).

Though this “newly-found-friendship” between music promoters and video game manufacturers are creating waves in the international market, it is yet to catch up in India. “The Indian market for games is picking up. However, a majority of Indians still take gaming casually, a change in this attitude can help India experience a boom in gaming, and this can eventually help the musicians in the long run,” says Jessy Rapczak, a US-based game developer, who is currently setting up his business in India.

So, with a recent boom in animation (both in Bollywood and ad films), are Indian musicians ready to follow this international trend and promote their music through video games? “I don’t have a problem, as long as the games maintain an international standard. If given a choice, I will go for a game that will have a global appeal both in terms of the quality of animation and subject,” says Ehsaan Noorani from the composer duo Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. Game developers too are echoing the same notes. Gautam, a mobile game developer for Jump Games says, “It is true that Indian animation has undergone acute changes in the recent past, but we are lagging behind when it comes to meeting international standards. The first priority should be to develop games that have an international appeal, only then we can focus on promoting Indian musicians on the global forum.”

However, there is hardly any doubt that Indian gamers are awaiting this welcome change, and so are the musicians. So, which genre of music will dominate the Indian “gamosphere”? What will be the response of the record labels, as such a joint venture will demand an amicable relationship between record labels and game manufacturing companies? Will this “progressive alliance” be profitable to our musicians, and how will it contribute towards revamping today’s ailing music industry? To this Ehsaan says, “I donthink record labels will have any problems with this venture. In fact, I think they will be more than happy to welcome game manufacturers and promote their games.”

Stressing on the fact that “India is the only country in the globe where record labels retain the intellectual copyrights of a musician”, Ehsaan sees this venture more profitable for record labels than musicians. He adds, “As the copyrights are with the record labels, musicians are bound to follow labels’ decisions. But yes, in terms of royalty, the musicians might get something more than what they usually get.”

So, if you are a die-hard gamer, and have a need for speed for pentatonic guitar arpeggios, this “progressive alliance” between the musicians and video games is sure to sweep you off your feet.

A guide to what’s new in the audio, video world
 
By Naresh Sadhwani and Deepak Jhangiani

Consumer Buying Habits

An international study by A.C. Nielsen has found that worldwide customers prefer to scan the web for their specific requirements of consumer electronic items and a good 80 per cent buy from a store whose website they visited first. So don’t be surprised if the Indian retailer also wakes up to this fact and spruces up his website almost as lavishly as he does his retail outlet.

Technology

eReading is a fast growing market, whereby a single eBook reader can now replace a library of books. Till now the screen size was a limiting factor leading to eye strain. Sometime back we spoke about the future of e-books and how they would soon come in foldable models. Now using a polymer (instead of the conventional silicon) technology Polymer Vision (a spin-off of Philips) is promoting a Readius with a foldable display. And with its mammoth memory you can now carry a whole library virtually in your pocket. Many other conveniences accrue: like comfortable reading while in motion/reading books at the airport, train station, park, anywhere without carrying the load of book/s. Even better is the fact that the battery carries a large charge which can last up to a week. Paperless offices now transform into paperless reading.

Readius΅.

The full display measures 127 mm; it displays 16 shades of grey and has 4 GB of on-board memory for all your e-books. The folded unit is 56mm x 100mm x 21mm. It has about a ten-day battery life and has USB, GPRS/EDGE and DVB-H connectivity to download data wirelessly. Already in the trial mode, the device is expected to hit the stands soon and will change reading habits forever.

TV Picture Quality

The march of technology goes on unabated. The latest fad in the market is the ‘telescopic Pixels’ an organic LED which is slimmer than the conventional LCD with far superior picture and sound quality. The technology works on the principle of several tiny mirrors which help to spread the light and thus increase the brightness and enhance the overall picture clarity.

Readers are invited to email their queries/suggestions/comments to sadhwanis@vsnl.com

Indian-Born Confused American
 

What will it be? The Orange and Green? The Star Spangled Banner and Pledge of Allegiance? Having spent a significant amount of time in both the United States and India, having loved and hated aspects of both, we’ve been trying to decide where to raise our child.

After much brain-racking and discussion, there are some very significant differences that we’ve uncovered in terms of the value systems of India and the US. We find ourselves perched somewhere in between, see-sawing from side to side depending on the issue at stake.

In the US, it’s very clear that the individual comes first. Children are reared to look after themselves and their own interests, sometimes to the absurdly extreme point of not sharing their toys with others for fear they may catch some infectious germs. That is great, because as parents, we know our child will protect himself and won’t suffer great hurt. As a continuation of this self-protection, there is a focus on civic responsibility and caring for one’s infrastructure.

Littering is a no-no, taxes a must, and looking after the environment you live in is paramount. But in exchange for the sparkling cleanliness and ease, there’s a lack of humanity and warmth. Since we’re looking at extremes, we can say that in India, on the other hand, it is common practice that the individual be subordinated to the common good. Family is important and parents are always right. A child’s individual needs can be dismissed with the snap of a finger and a wave of the hand. And it doesn’t end even if you move out of home. Parents, in-laws, and a battalion of aunties, uncles, and self-dubbed “well-wishers” are only too ready to guide your every move. Here in India, there’s no civic responsibility, no care for the surrounding environment. But although we often do things to make others happy, we are blessed with the love and concern (and two cents!) of any number of people, starting from the milkman, who has been around since the day we were born.

Finally, we decided not to choose. Why deprive our child of either when we’ve been lucky enough to have the best of both? Schooling, friends, lifestyle, everything can be transnational. In today’s age, he can study the same syllabus whether he’s in Timbuktu, China, or Antarctica. In order to achieve this, we’re making a conscious effort to live in both countries. So even though his accent might be a little confused, we’re hoping he ends up appreciating the best and understanding the worst of both India and the United States and everywhere in between.

Designer’s studio
 

The moment I’m asked about my favourite photo-shoot, images of my latest collection flash across my mind. Infused with energy and vigour, this collection is one that makes me feel proud of having created it.

And its shoot was very exciting.

I remember being keyed up about the shoot since I was going to meet Indrani Dasgupta for the first time after her wedding. And as expected, the glow on her face was mesmerising. Stylist Ashima Kapoor made her look even more stunning with natural and light makeup.

We planned to do the shoot in my garden and I think that is the main reason why we all were relaxed and things went on pretty smoothly. It was one of those times when things naturally fall into place, just the way you like them to be. Even the weather was wonderful, breezy and cool – perfect for an outdoor shoot. I remember noticing a certain feminine aura about Indrani. The preparation and the shoot happened in a lovely flow, it felt as if even the weather was complementing the garments.

‘Now, I’m an actor and singer too’
 

New age filmmaker Farhan Akhtar, who has directed films like Dil Chahta Hai, Lakshya and Don, has now taken to acting, much on the lines of Raj Kapoor, Guru Dutt and Aamir Khan – who’ve been extremely successful as both, actors and directors. Farhan reprises the role of a rock star in his very first film, Rock On, which will release this month end.

“I would like to believe it’s my burning passion for acting that led me to act in Rock On! The film’s music is also of the genre that’s closest to me in terms of personal preference – rock. The character was exciting and it was challenging to sing the songs. The time also felt right and it was the next step in realising my creative goals. I am a writer, producer and director – now actor and singer too,” says Farhan.

What was it like to produce a film starring himself?

“The director, Abhishek Kapoor, was very sure he wanted his lead actor to sing the songs. But when I heard the script, regardless of whether I were to act in it eventually depending on how well I sang, I wanted to be a part of it and be associated with it in some way. It was special so I decided to produce it. This script took me back to the Dil Chahta Hai space emotionally, which was a wonderful zone to be in after eight years. It also released the little pent-up musician in me!” says Farhan who plays the guitar with some degree of professionalism.

Farhan is also playing the lead part in The Fakir of Venice directed by Anand Surapur and his sister Zoya’s Luck By Chance. The Fakir of Venice was started before Rock On began. The makers of that film have a certain release strategy in mind; it’s bent more towards the international audience. I play the central character and Annu Kapoor plays the fakir. It’s a black comedy based on a true-life story – how scams, shams and lies are a part of our life. Luck By Chance does not have the conventional format of a hero – it’s an ensemble cast comprising Konkona Sen Sharma, Rishi Kapoor me and some other characters which are integral to the movement of the story,” explains Farhan.

Given he’s doing full-fledged acting parts in these films, did he ever want to be an actor in the first place? “The biggest memory of my growing up years was the hero – the amazing man who could do anything and I was so influenced by films that this was the logical thing to do. But my ideas changed as I grew older and I decided to create films, rather than just be a part of someone else’s film. In fact I have watched actors like Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan and Hrithik Roshan at close quarters when I directed them in my films and we discussed scenes and how they would approach them, albeit in their own different ways. It was very educative. All that information comes to good use as an actor today. I now sub-consciously plot my points according to my scenes,”says Farhan.

Is he confident enough to direct himself? “I don’t know if I can direct myself. It’s difficult for me to focus on just one thing. I need an associate/partner who can look into other aspects when I am acting, but I haven’t found that kind of creative link up yet. Direction takes too much and I haven’t reached the stage where I am so comfortable as an actor to know how to approach my role with ease and direct also. I’m still searching,” says the father of two.

How do his daughters react to him – as a director or an actor? “Shakya is eight years old and she pretty much knows what I do. Akira is only 17 months old but she has taken to the music of Rock On like Shakya had to DCH’s music. I take them along to my sets so that they know what daddy does and understand why he stays away for long spells of time. Akira gets spooked when she sees my promos on television and sees me sitting in the same room!” says the the director-turned actor, smiling. So, what’s easier – directing or acting? “What’s easy is subjective. I feel anything you enjoy doing is easy. Both jobs are very demanding, but direction takes a lot more and is more difficult,” says Farhan who after working with his father Javed Akhtar in Lakshya, is now collaborating with his mother, Honey Irani on a script called Beauty Parlour.

And it’s back to calling the shots come November, for his next directorial venture, Voice from the Sky.

Harman mum about rumours on his split
 
Film news

When the rumours of Priyanka-Harman split broke out, Harman was in Rajasthan shooting for Victory with some of the Aussie cricketers who he’s been good friends with. When his relationship drama was played out in the papers, there was a sympathy wave coming his away and the cricketers were insistent on taking him out on a boy’s night out to cheer him up.

Co-star Amrita Rao apparently went a step further almost offering him condolences over the split. According to a unit hand she had even written him a card saying something to the effect that it wasn’t the end of the world and he would bounce back and should keep his chin up.

Initially, since all of them were being so sweet to him, Harman didn’t want to burst their bubble and played along hoping they would realise that no such thing had happened.

But then when things didn’t stop, he was going red-faced trying to explain that things weren’t as reported in the press and he wasn’t heart-broken at all. Imagine the embarrassment his co-stars suffered. But they do deserve credit for actually making Harman admit that he is seeing Priyanka, something the media hasn’t been able to do.

Vidya takes her designer to task

Vidya Balan’s woes continue with the recent flak she received for her awful dress sense in Kismat Konnection. Probably that’s why she was seen taking her new designer to task on the sets of her next film produced by Vishal Bharadwaj.ῠ The hapless designer who had reached the sets with a bagful of clothes for Vidya to choose from was shocked to see her not liking any of the outfits specially made for her.

Designers mumble, ‘somebody please tell Vidya, given her limitations with the western attire there is only so much a designer could do’. But Vidya was smarting under negative feedback she had just received for her latest film and like they say hell hath no fury like a woman criticised. Vidya’s tirade against the designer and her refusal to shoot in outfits given to her, held up the shoot and the director himself had to come to her van and cajole her to relent. She did, but only when she was allowed to use her own outfit that was quickly organised to avoid any further delay.

Does life imitate art or vice versa?
 
By Vikram Bhatt

August 3 was friendship day and co-incidentally my classmates and I happened to arrange an evening together after about 13 years on that same day. It was a nice coming together and then as the evening wore on I wondered that if I put this in a film that school friends met after years on friendship day, the critics would say how very corny and I would never hear the last of it. and yet it was true and it happened.

Later as I drove home I wondered if life imitated art or did art imitate life? This has been an age-old discussion and one that has many consequences.

Last week after the Ahemdabad blasts a journalist from a magazine called me and asked me if I felt some blasts were inspired from the recently released film Contract. I begged ignorance and said that I had not seen Contract and don’t have a clue about the sequence in question. Though I had this to say to the journalist, considering that Contract released only a week before the blasts, it would be really scary to know that a terrorist outfit could plan, fund and execute a bombing in less than a week. Then this would be a really unsafe place to live in and yet I know that this cannot be true. So itjust a mere co-incidence that the film and the blasts all came together, or will we never know the truth?

I had a sequence in my film Ghulam where Aamir Khan runs towards an oncoming train and the sequence we called Dus Dus ki Daud. Later people told me that the youth were indulging in this kind of activity on the tracks after the film, but when I spoke to my writer he said he got the idea from youth that was already indulging in this kind of activity. So once again, does life imitate art or does art imitate life?

There are two things that I really muse about in this realm and the first one is that why is that if life imitates, it only imitates the wrong doings of the protagonists and not the right doings? They say that people start smoking and drinking after their on-screen idols do the same but why don’t they respect elders like the heroes and come first in class in all the subjects and fight for the innocent and the down trodden and save the girl from hooligans? So can we say that cinema only inspires the bad and not the good? Is that not really convenient? Blame it on the movies boys, a good whipping horse what?

And then my other point is, cinema is only about a hundred years old and there is nothing in the world that did not happen before the coming of the movies. There was betrayal, deceit, addictions, rapes, dacoits, intense sexuality, wars, politics, incest – just about everything and so how is life imitating cinema?

Anyone who claims to be original is lying. There are ideas that inspire ideas for sure but nothing inspires our imaginations like life does.

Cinema is a medium that freezes the events of life for everyone to see and keeps them ingrained in celluloid for generations. We cannot be blamed for inspiring the wrong doings, for immortalising them, we stand guilty.

The stuff of legends
 

There have been many biographies of Sir Richard Burton, the renowned and enigmatic Victorian explorer, ethnologist, archaeologist, author, translator, and one of the greatest linguists of his era. Curiously, however, there have been no major novels based on Burton’s extraordinary life. Iliya Troyanov, in a remarkable German novel Der Weltensammler, has corrected this omission. The English translation of his work, The Collector of Worlds, has created a sensual adventure, and an exploration of Burton’s behaviour.

Burton was a brilliantly charismatic scholar and adventurer. Even from an early age he set out to learn all he could about swords and guns. Duelling, riding, smoking, gambling and experiments with various forms of debauchery propelled him through a precocious adolescence, at the end of which, despite an obsession with the acquisition of languages, especially Arabic, he was sent down from Trinity College, Oxford.

But the loss of one opportunity signalled the beginning of another and he joined the British East India Company in 1842, aged 21, as an ensign – the lowest rank of commissioned infantry officer. India held the immediate appeal of having many languages. Burton soon mastered Persian, Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi, Marathi, and over the next seven years greedily took in all he could find: delving into tantric Brahmin rituals; converting to Sikhism and then Islam; enjoying Eastern erotica; keeping native mistresses; and writing.

Once he began, he kept on writing for the rest of his life. He even gave in to the first stirrings of a lifelong love of disguise, learning the secrets of those with whom he mingled. Burton’s controversial army career (he served under General Charles Napier) ended dramatically because a report he had written on the boy brothels of Karachi came to the attention of Napier’s successor and was considered disgraceful because it was so accurate as to suggest participation on the part of the reporter.

Burton’s departure from the army threatened to destroy him, but he went on to further adventures around the world. He famously entered Mecca in disguise (1853), was wounded in Somaliland, sought the source of the Nile on two separate eventful journeys (1855 and 1857-58) and in 1860 crossed America to visit the Mormons in Salt Lake City.

Immediately after his marriage to the staunchly Catholic Isabel Arundell he embarked on a turbulent diplomatic career, being posted to Fernando Po (1861), then to Santos in 1865 and Damascus (1869). He was sent to Trieste in 1872, where he remained until his death 12 years later. Isabel then burned many of his documents and manuscripts, perpetrating one of the greatest literary crimes of the century.

Troyanov’s sympathetic novel is the product of immense research and understanding. We are led into the author’s imagined history of actual events as seen first through the eyes of Burton’s Indian servant, who introduced him to the languages and mysteries of the East; then from the viewpoint of the Ottoman governor of Hijaz, who conducts an enquiry with the men who accompanied the disguised Burton on his journey to Mecca; and finally we have the account of Sidi Muburak, the former African slave, who led Burton and his companion John Hanning Speke on their ill-fated journey to find the source of the Nile in 1857.

Iliya Troyanov himself is a collector of worlds. He was born in Bulgaria, fled to West Germany with his family to escape persecution, and grew up speaking German before emigrating to Kenya where he learned English.

He is the author of Mumbai to Mecca, an account of his own pilgrimage to Mecca, and in The Collector of Worlds, he has painstakingly followed the outline of Burton’s cryptic career, but unashamedly elaborated on the many frustrating gaps. It is a fascinating revelation, and speaks as much of Troyanov’s personal approach to Burton’s mystery as to any real solution.

In doing so it invites us to share Burton’s passion both for geographical discovery and for the unknowable and the unthinkable.

One of the great values of this absorbing novel is that we are allowed to discover for ourselves the passionate curiosity that shaped Burton’s entire life, where he used language and religion as his passports to a hitherto forbidden world, and where his zeal for adventure knew no bounds.

Troyanov’s scholarship has given us a new understanding of Burton’s world. It is an intensely passionate journey, and a wonderful piece of storytelling.

End of imagination?
 
By Sunil K. Poolani

While growing up reading good literature, it was not books that really fascinated us, but literary journals in which not just stories, poems and essays by the cr
me-de-la-cr
me of the writing world appeared, but those publications also carried analyses of and interviews with great writers, and reviews of their books. Armed with those journals, we debated and literally fought for hours, days, weeks and months together about the contents.

In those pre-liberalisation days, we could not afford the price of those journals (between Rs 2 and Rs 15), and at least 10 poor souls used to savour one single copy; by the time that copy did that tortuous round, it resembled an opponent in a Schwarzenegger movie.

Then, unlike today, many large-selling publications from the stable of big media organisations devoted a fair amount of space for good writing. In English, there were the venerated Illustrated Weekly and the Bombay magazine; both closed shop long time back, thank you. But it is heartening to know that some regional languages still follow that tradition – like Mathrubhumi in Malayalam and Desh in Bengali.

Also, there were these brilliant ‘little’ magazines that originated, since centuries, in far-flung areas like Santiniketan and Karimnagar, espousing issues as diverse as Rabindra Sangeet and Naxalism. They had the lives of fireflies but they burnt bright when they were alive, and every death encouraged another firefly to take shape and shine.

In English, apart from the government-sponsored daft efforts, there were, in the last two decades, some great journals that made a deep dent in literary minds. Civil Lines was one. Founded by the indomitable Ravi Dayal, Civil Lines swiftly became the abode of quintessential new Indian writing. Later, it was edited by the talented duo, Mukul Kesavan and Kai Friese. Nonetheless, like its brethren across the spectrum, it too died an immature death, but not before leaving an indelible mark – challenging the till-then norms by refusing to publish to a set schedule.

There were also similar literary endeavours (some still do exist, just in case) like Chandrabhaga, Biblio, Kavya Bharati, International Gallerie and Yatra. All these followed the model of their international ‘Bible’: the esteemed Granta, the UK-based journal which continues to whet many a connoisseur’s taste for new and good writing across the globe.

Today, literary magazine is a diminishing trade and a difficult passion to indulge in; no serious publisher in the world would risk burning her/his fingers in it today. In the last four years, the third issue of my ambitious ‘quarterly’ journal, Urban Voice, just came out. I, nevertheless, would like to bring it out periodically.

So that is why I watch with rapt admiration when I come across two amazing ventures, Atlas and Little Magazine. The former is brought out by the talented poet and prose writer Sudeep Sen and the latter by a dynamic duo, Antara Dev Sen and Pratik Kanjilal.

Little Magazine has, so far, stood the test of time, and has carved a niche of its own – offering, issue after issue, some of the best original writings in English and translations from even remote Indian tongues. Atlas is just two issues old, and Sen was explaining to me the vicissitudes of all kinds while producing a volume of this oeuvre. “It’s a tough game, unless you have loads of money.”

Hope these last vestiges of intellectual sanity live on in an arid land of crass commercialisation.

Tailpiece

C.P. Scott, the founder editor of The Manchester Guardian, once said, “News is sacred, opinion is free.” If our newspapers hardly believe in reporting news and resort to concocted opinions, a new breed of Indian novels is today banking on contemporary issues and polity for cheap, titillating fictionalisation. What next? I will leave it to you.

The writer is the publisher and managing editor, Frog Books, an imprint of Leadstart Publishing Pvt Ltd, Mumbai. Write to him at poolani@gmail.com

‘I value the words used in a book’
 

I am an avid reader. I cannot be away from books at all. Almost three books are always with me at a time. Presently, I’m reading Barack Obama’s autobiography and I found it amazing. For me, language matters the most. Being a daughter of an author, I have always been associated with books since my childhood. I value the words used in a book the most.

I like reading poetry and non-fiction. Fiction and bestsellers are least fascinating to me. Though selecting a favourite author is a bit difficult as there are too many I like, Amitav Ghosh, Kiran Nagarkar and Salman Rushdie top my list of favourites. I like the style and depth in their writing.

One book that I have read numerous times is Sare Sukhan Hamare, the collected works of Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz. I read this book again and again, and every time I discover a new meaning from Faiz’s beautifully composed verses. I like this book because I have heard Faiz recite many of his poems many times. Moreover, at different stages in my life, every poem comes out with completely different meanings.

Another book that has been truly fascinating is Two Alone, Two Together: Letters Between Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru 1940-1964. It presents the rich inheritance of the Gandhi family. It has all the lessons that Indira Gandhi learnt from her father and later Nehruji learnt from his daughter. It is a beautiful presentation of a father-daughter bonding with a perfect combination of legacy.

Shakespeare’s stratford
 
By Christine Pemberton

Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare, is one of those places that you feel you already know well, even if you are visiting the pretty English town for the first time. It must be all those years of studying Shakespeare at school, that somehow makes everything seem so familiar.

There are streets lined with pretty black and white gabled Elizabethan houses, of which five have special historic significance, since they all relate to Shakespeare’s life.

Visit Hall’s Croft, which used to be the home of Shakespeare’s daughter, Susannah; Nash’s House, and New Place, where Shakespeare died.

Just a short drive out of the town are Mary Arden’s House, the family home of Shakespeare’s mother, and the iconic Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. This much photographed beautiful thatched cottage in Shottery village was the home of Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway, before her marriage. We visited Anne Hathaway’s cottage early on a sunny, summer morning, the first people there, just beating a bus load of camera-happy Japanese by a whisker. We wandered through the panelled rooms, stooping to enter the low-beamed doors, and then visited the beautiful gardens. Amongst all the flowers, there is a pretty little arbour with a rustic bench, and you can sit there, press a discreet button, and listen to a private recital of some of the best known Shakespearean sonnets. A real treat.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust manages these five houses, and easiest and most economical way to visit these historic properties is to buy a combined ticket, allowing you to visit them all. If you only have the time or inclination to visit one of these homes, then make it Anne Hathaway’s cottage.

Back in town, take a short stroll along the banks of the river, past the barges and the over-fed ducks, which brings you to the pretty and equally much-photographed Holy Trinity Parish Church. It is here that William Shakespeare was baptised, served as a lay rector of the church, and was buried in the church in 1616.

Although the historical sites are a must, for me the real heart of Stratford is the unpretentious Royal Shakespeare Theatre on the banks of the River Avon. We pre-booked our tickets for Julius Caesar on the Internet, as well as the absolutely fascinating and not-to-be missed backstage tour. We did the tour in the afternoon, and so saw the props and the scenery for the play that we would see later that same night.

They show you everything that is involved backstage, from the sound system, the sets, to the dressing rooms, and the racks of costumes, wigs, boots and costume jewellery. You get see how the props are laid out at the side of the stage, all labelled and meticulously organised – the scroll for this character in this scene, and the sword for that character. Then, much to the childrens’ delight, we went on stage, and saw the set for the opening scene and looked out at the empty auditorium. It really gives you a great feeling of how a theatre works, and that evening when we watched the play, there was an added element of awareness and understanding.

The rhythm of Stratford revolves around the theatre. Restaurants serve early dinners for theatre-goers, all timed to the second, so that you can eat and be in your seat for curtain-up. Pre-order a glass of wine for the interval, and wander out onto the wide terrace on the river bank. Boats drift past in the wonderful light of an English summer’s evening, the ducks are so lazy they can hardly bother to eat the bread people toss to them, and with a little bit of imagination, the scene would hardly have changed since Shakespeare’s time.

The next morning, we wandered round the town centre, pottering around the shops, and then strolled down to the river, fed the ubiquitous ducks, and watched the lock gates open to let barges sail through.

But wait. What was that sound? Tinkly sounding bells. The rhythmic stamping of feet. Clapping. To my great delight, and much to the mystification of the Indian contingent in my family, there was a display of Morris dancing taking place. Morris dancing really is the English at their most eccentric best (I am English, so am perfectly entitled to say this!). Men and women, wearing extravagant clothing, with layers of bells round their ankles and sporting some of the fanciest head-gear you will ever see, dancing around in a circle: a bearded man with his face blackened, and wearing a hat decorated lavishly with flowers – it doesn’t get more eccentric than that.

Watching this display of English mid-summer revelry, I couldn’t but wonder if the great man himself hadn’t watched the same traditional dances, on this very spot by the river, some 400 years ago.

Getting there

By Air: The airport operates flights daily from over 60 national and international destinations. Alternatives include Heathrow Airport, East Midlands Airport and Coventry Airport. The Birmingham International Airport is located a mere 20 miles from Stratford-upon-Avon. Multiple shuttle, coach, and limousine services offer transportation to your final destination.

By Road: To get to Stratford-upon-Avon from London, take the M40 motorway and get off at Junction 15. Distance 102 miles (164 km), journey time approximately 2 hours.

By Train: Stratford-upon-Avon train station is located around half a mile west of the town centre. The town is easily accessible by foot from the station. There are regular services to Birmingham Snow Hill station (around an hour), Warwick (around 30 minutes) and London Marylebone (around two and a half hours).

Tourist information: Stratford-on-Avon District Council

Elizabeth House, Church Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, CV37 6HX

Email: info@stratford-dc.gov.uk Tel: 01789 267575 Fax: 01789 260 007

Accommodation

Stratford has four star hotels in Stratford Upon Avon which will suit most hi-end travellers seeking accommodation in Stratford Upon Avon.

Grab the free stuff
 

Whether it is New York’s Staten Island Ferry or London’s National Gallery, free activities are a welcome bonus for travellers of all ages and incomes. Travel website Travelandleisure.com has come up with a list of the world’s best free stuff for travellers.

n Free sightseeing: Get the inside track on a city from someone who knows it best, a local. These volunteers want to show off their town, and won’t demand a tip. Greeters can be scheduled via e-mail or telephone and should be arranged several weeks to a month ahead.

n Free bicycles: Zip around town on two wheels. In Copenhagen, Zurich, Bern, and Helsinki, you can borrow a bicycle from stands stationed around the city. Each program requires a nominal deposit which is returned after your ride when you lock the bike up. Many cities, including Paris, Vienna, Rome, and Lyon, offer free bikes for the first half hour (after that you’ll have to fork over some cash).

n Free podcasts: Download podcasts to your MP3 player and get a step-by-step narration of some of the world’s hottest spots. In Europe, Rick Steves will guide you through the Louvre, Versailles, the Coliseum, the Sistine Chapel, the Uffizi Gallery, and other sites. Zevisit has free downloadable audio guides to scores of European cities. Author Peter Caine has a free podcast based on his book, Walking the Da Vinci Code in Paris.

n Free public transport: In Europe, 27 InterCity Hotels throughout Germany and one in Vienna offer free local public transportation to guests while visitors to New York can’t beat the spectacular view of the skyline during the 25-minute ride on the Staten Island Ferry.

n Free Accommodation: A hotel can be the most expensive part of a vacation so try living in someone else’s home while they live in yours. List your house or apartment on a vacation-exchange site like Only in America. To go global, the International Home Exchange Network features listings all over the world.

n Free Skiing: Try the Utah package where an early morning flight to Salt Lake City provides a boarding pass on which you can ski all day at Deer Valley Resort, Park City Mountain Resort, and The Canyons Resort. In Colorado, several resorts offer some type of free-skiing program to reward volunteer work and Quebec give a one day pass to anyone who dresses like Santa on Santa Claus Day.

n Free Sports events: Each year, dozens of Olympic teams train at the Utah Olympic Park, while at Lake Placid, New York, you can watch Olympic and professional figure skaters and hockey teams training for free.

n Free Museums and Zoos: Some of the world’s top museums don’t charge a cent. The national museums and galleries in England, Scotland, and Wales are free and you can’t miss the National Gallery, the British Museum, the Tate Modern and the Victoria and Albert. In Washington DC, admission to all 19 Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo is free.

n Free Concerts: Top-notch music from world-class performers can be a pricey affair but in rare spots around the globe. In South Africa, the precursor to the annual Cape Town Jazz Festival is the free concert on Greenmarket Square, which kicks off the main festival. At Antibes, France, take in the finale free concert at the celebrated Jazz a Juan International Annual Jazz Festival.

n Free Movies: In Paris every summer, the ultramodern Parc de la Villette outside the city draws movie lovers with its giant outdoor screen and free Open Air Cinema festival. In Baltimore, The American Visionary Art Museum sponsors Flicks on the Hill, an outdoor film series featuring free outdoor movies while Pismo Beach, California presents cinema under the stars every other Wednesday.

Fundamentals
 
By Senjam Raj Sekhar

Karnataka Quiz Association (KQA) celebrated its silver jubilee with style. ASKQANCE 2008, the 25th anniversary quiz festival held in the last week of June featured nine quizzes held over two days. The quizzes included subject specific quizzes like entertainment, sports, science etc and also quizzes for school and college going quizzers. The Open Quiz was a national affair with five out of the eight places taken by non-Bangalore teams. The quiz was eventually won by We Are Like This Wonly (Movin Miranda, Anustup Datta, Ochintya Sharma and Thejaswi Udupa).

This week we excerpt some questions from the informal sports and science quiz.

Write with your suggestions, questions (with answers) to D4/11 (GF), Exclusive Floors, DLF Phase-V, Gurgaon 122 002 or email senjam@gmail.com

Askqance 2008

1. Connect: Vienna, Catalan, Sicilian, Dutch, Indian, Scotch, Manhattan, Berlin, Belgrade, Leningrad, Dragon, Hedgehog and Stonewall?

2. The Arabian Oryx (Oryx leucoryx), became extinct in the wild in 1972 from the Arabian Peninsula. It was reintroduced in 1982 in Oman but poaching has had negative effects. Further populations have been reintroduced in Qatar, Bahrain, Israel and Saudi Arabia, with a total population in the wild of about 886 in 2003. About 600 more are in captivity. In modern sport how has the Oryx been reintroduced to the public?

3. In June 2002 about 50,000 fans gathered in front of the historic Kwanghwamoon gate to greet a motorcade carrying him. He reportedly walked away from that episode richer by some $1 million and an honorary citizenship to boot. Today he towers above the street on successive adverts outside the Hotel Moskva, and is seen popping up on posters all over town in Moscow, usually promoting Samsung. Name this “cheerleader-in-chief”.

4. It is derived from the 17th century French word meaning “to arrange” or “bring about”, and in modern usage, its verb form stands for deception, trickery, or subterfuge. In sports parlance it is used to indicate a bridge hand that is void of trumps. It is also a speed limiting device, with its widespread usage in the past few years being a consequence of Ayrton Senna’s tragic end. Identify the term.

5. In the 2nd Test of the Ashes series at Lord’s in 1934, Australian wickets fell in a heap. Hedley Verity took 7 for 61 and 8 for 43. This led to a major change in the commentators’ box in the next test at Old Trafford. What was the change?

6. George Lohmann (born June 2, 1865 in London, died December 1, 1901 in Worcester, Western Cape, South Africa) created a record that lasted for 61 years, from 1895-96 to 1956. Which record and who broke it?

7. It is the name of an alternative rock multi-platinum selling band from Jacksonville, Florida. The World Health Organisation issues a vaccination certificate with the same name. The rules of engagement issued to UK troops serving in Northern Ireland are also called thus. In sports it is used as a part of a language-neutral system designed by a Britisher Ken Aston, and found its first use on 31 May 1970.

8. The place of his birth was an important garrison town for the East India Company forces. Located on the Grand Trunk Road, it is now a well connected industrial center. His dad represented United Provinces in Ranji Trophy. He played most of his cricket in a town about 55 miles east-southeast of London, famous as a pilgrimage destination for Christians. Last year he was one of the recipients of the Sitara-e-Imtiaz. And he allegedly is the only man to have witnessed both Brian Lara’s innings of 501 not out vs Durham and Hanif Mohammed’s 499 in Karachi.

9. Connect (1) an Arthur Miller’s play about the Salem witch trials written in the early 1950s during the time of McCarthyism, when the government blacklisted accused communists, and (2) a number of different techniques for making steel alloy by slowly heating and cooling pure iron and carbon (typically in the form of charcoal) to a South Yorkshire building designed in 1971 by Tanya Moiseiwitsch that has a 980 seat auditorium.

10. “Camels ordinarily sit down carefully. Perhaps their joints creak. Possibly early oiling might prevent premature hardening.” What is this?.

11. This science was so dominated in Britain in the 19th century by Edward Tylor, that it was known as “Mr Tylor’s science”. It has 4 sub-fields – Biological, Socio-cultural, Linguistic and Archaeology. What is it called?

12. Scientist and Pulitzer Prize winning author Jared Diamond calls it the biggest mistake in history. In his book Guns, Germs and Steel, he argues that along with this practice came “the gross social and sexual inequality, the disease and despotism that curse our existence”. What practice is it?

13. The first appearance of this popular probability puzzle was in a Martin Gardner column and was called The Three Prisoner Problem. It is now named after the producer of the TV show that used it. Marilyn vos Savant analysed it in Parade magazine. Her answer was roundly criticised by thousands, with Math Professors writing in to say they had a good laugh at her ignorance. However, recent simulations show her analysis to be mostly right. What is the name of this puzzle that has caused embarrassment to many professional mathematicians?.

14. The west coast of India was not in line of sight of the epicenter of the 2004 Sumatra earthquake. Yet waves of up to 1m struck parts of the west coast. What one word physical phenomena made this happen?

ANSWERS

Askqance 2008

1. Opening defences/gambits in chess 2. Orry the Oryx was the mascot of the 2006 Doha Asian Games 3. Guus Hiddink, current coach of the Russian national football team 4. Chicane, from the French chicanerie meaning “trickery” 5. Till then, there was no scorer in the commentary box; this match started the practice 6. Best bowling figures in a Test innings. Lohmann took 9-28 which was overtaken by Jim Laker’s 10-53 7. Yellow Cards 8. Bob Woolmer 9. The Crucible. It is the venue for the annual World Professional Snooker Championships 10. Mnemonic for geological eras/periods. Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian etc 11. Anthropology 12. Agriculture 13. Monty Hall Problem 14. Refraction. In air, difference in refractive index causes light to bend. In the oceans, the differences in depth of water plays the same part, with waves travelling much faster in deep ocean and slower in shallow water.

 

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