Friday, March 31, 2006

National Consultation On Environment, Human Rights & Law

NATIONAL CONSULTATION ON Environment Humanrights and Law
April 28-30, 2006
Mumbai

Dear All,
Greetings from India Centre for Human Rights and Law (ICHRL). We are a human rights organization in Mumbai, part of the national network; Human Rights Law Netork (HRLN). We are glad to inform you that we are organizing a NATIONAL CONSULTATION ON ENVIRONMENT, HUMANRIGHTS AND LAW during April 28-30, 2006 at Mumbai for activists and lawyers across the country.

In the present scenario of mounting pressures on our finite environmental resources from multiple fronts such as global climatic changes, population explosion, industrialization and urbanization, it is imperative to strengthen our rules and regulations further to conserve and safeguard the environmental resources inorder to ensure the invaluable ecosystem services that foster the very existence of life on this planet. Unfortunately, in the current Indian environmental scenario is very grim as the unsustainable resource utilization and development activities are being pushed forward flouting the existing laws and regulations. The situation is further worsened by the fact that these very rules and regulations themselves are being targeted for systematic dilutions especially during the recent years fuelled by globalization and market forces.

In this context, we felt that it is critical to examine how far the ongoing 'reforms' in the environmental laws and regulations currently under way in India would affect the people and environment. An objective discussion amongst people involved in the various aspects of environmental conservation and protection of human rights to cull out practical impediments to protect environment through existing system including the legal framework and come out with plausible strategies, solutions and alternatives to overcome these. With this in mind, as an initial step, Environmental Justice Initiative of Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) is organizing a three-day national consultation on environment and law on 28th to 30th of April 2006 at Mumbai with the following primary objectives;

1.Facilitating a productive discussion and experience sharing among Activists, lawyers and other concerned citizens on the issues concerning environment, human rights and law in India
2.To identify problem areas and lacunae in the legal system and formulate strategies to manage these short comings
3.Evaluate the existing and emerging laws and regulations in the light of past experience
4.Foster a national network of environmentally conscious people concerned against destructive development.

You may checkout the draft programme schedule here http://www.geocities.com/envirorights/NCEL/NCEL_PS.htm

Interested participants may please respond to eji[at]ichrl.org in the following format before 10th April 2006

With warm regards
Dr PR Arun, Senior Officer (Environmental Rights),
India Centre for Human Rights and Law, Mumbai. 400 009



NATIONAL CONSULTATION ON Environment Humanrights and Law
April 28-30, 2006
Mumbai

APPLICATION FORM (Participant)
1. Name of the Applicant:
2. Educational Qualification :
3. Designation :
4. Organization & Address :
5. Address for Communication :
6. e-mail
7. Telephone:
8. Why are you interested to attend this consultation?

Monday, March 27, 2006

A Bizarre Makrand...

Whew...its been an interesting two hours! Sitting under tree-shaded granite seating at Prithvis. Its a delight listening to Makrand Deshpande talk about theatre, Bollywood, art films and life in general.

Makrand could be defined as a multi-task expert, besides his association with theatre as a playwright, director and actor, he is equally well known and well-loved for his role in films like Swades, Lal Salam, Satya, Makdee, Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro, etc. and his frequent appearances on the small screen.

For the past two days I have been persuading an interview with him. Today I was on the verge of giving up, and my frustrations led me to giving him a bad name on my blog. Until of course my mobile rang at 2 pm. We were all set to meet up by 3in the afternoon. Prior commitments, later made me shift our meeting to 3:30 which I did keep up to.

A very casual, serene, laid back Makrand sat there with his trademark unkept curly hair. He is known for his (half colored, half grayed) bushy locks, falling messily over his thin V-shaped face, already covered with a heavy moustache. Makrand was busy talking to his assistant and other theatre friends. Our table was filled with cigarette packets, mouth fresheners and empty tea cups. He immediatelyinvited me over. Upon seating I was asked if I would like a drink (soft of course) to which I gently refused. This was my second interview and I was uptight but Makrand unlike other Bollywood personalities came forth as a simple, unaffected, down to earth person.

I removed my brand new voice recorder, started explaining a little about blog life and the ball kept rolling from there....



Read Saakshi O. Juneja's Entire Interview with Makarand Deshpande

Workers Be Damned - The Akbarallys story

It's appalling to see the treatment bestowed upon employees of big establishments here in Mumbai. Imagine you are on your way to work one morning; just to find out that your sole means of 'bread and butter' is snatched away from you...forever.... Extinct overnight!!

No intimation given, no prior warning....NO JOB anymore...What a shock!

This is the story that Akbarallys-Santacruz (Mumbai), has to tell. On Friday the 10th of February, the store all of a sudden decided to fasten its doors to the world.

For over a month, 40-permanent workers have been squatting outside the estranged shop. Unable to get over the untimely death of their second home; where they have spent over 30 years of their lives. Struggling day in and day out, to obtain some kind of justice.

Read the Entire Article by Saakshi O. Juneja

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Film Clubs in Mumbai

Miracles Film Club
Frequency : Occassional Weekdays at 6pm
Fee : Rs 2200 / year
Screenings at :
Ketnav Preview Theatre, 17 Union Park, Near Pali Hill Hotel, Khar (W)
And
NFDC, basement of Nehru Planetarium,Worli
Contact :
Pramod Prabhulkar
98200 88367
Miraclesfilm-club[at]rediffmail[dot]com

Cosmos Film Screenings
Frequency : One Film on Alternate Saturdays at 4pm
Fee : None
Screenings at :
Comet Media Foundation, 1st Floor, Topiwala Muncipal School, Topiwala Lane, Lamington Road (near Grant road Station)
Contact :
Indraneil Chakravarty
2382 1893

The India Film Club
Frequency : One film every Monday at 8pm except dry days :)
Fee : None
Screenings at :
The Ghetto, Breach Candy Road, Mahalaxmi
Contact :
Indiafilmclub[at]yahoo[dot]co[dot]in

Mocha Film Club
Frequency : 4-5 short films on 1st Sunday of every month at 11:30am
Fee : Rs 100 cover charge at every event (includes a mocha shake)
Screenings at :
Bandra Mocha, Hill Road, Opp American Express Bakery
Contact :
CyrusDastur@rediffmail.com
2643 3098

Bimal Roy Memorial Film Club
Frequency : 2 films a month on weekends at 4:30pm
Fee : ???
Screenings at :
National College & Russian Cultural Centre
Contact :
2640 3041 (between 10am & 1pm)

Vikalp Screenings
Frequency : 1 or 2 films, 2nd Wednesday every month at 6:30pm
Fee : None but open to contributions
Screenings at :
Bhupen Gupta Bhawan, 85 Sayani Road, Prabhadevi
Contact :
Vikalpmumscreenings[at]yahoogroups[dot]com

Prabhat Chitra Mandal
Frequency : 2-3 Indian & Foreign Art Films a month
Fee : Rs.450 Annual
Screenings at :
YB Chavan Auditorium, Nariman Point
Contact :
2413 1918

Cine Society
Frequency : 1 English & 1 Indian Regional Language Film Every month - only classics
Fee : Rs.350 Annual
Screenings at :
NCPA, Nariman Point
Contact :
2382 4228

Mithibai Film Club
Frequency : 4 - 6 Films a month over 2 days
Fee : ?
Screenings at :
Mithibai College, Vile Parle (W)
Contact :
2818 4354 / 55

If you have info about any other film clubs in Bombay, please click on Comments & leave the info there. Thank you

Flamingoes at Sewri

The sun had just risen and land breeze had given way to a soft cool sea breeze and in this virgin sunlight was great beauty amongst great harshness. Rusting fishing boats, factories and an oil refinery was a backdrop for a gift of nature - a light pink blanket of flamingos. A more skilled photographer would have typified this image better but alas my amateurish skills can bring you only this.
View Akshay's Photo Blog

Also check Amit Kulkarni's Photo Blog on the Flamingoes.

And if those beautiful descriptions have got you charged up to visit yourself, check out
Directions to Sewri-Mumbai's Flamingo Bay

Ash Birder Also says
The most important thing to remember is the tide timing. Flamingoes will be seen 2-3 hours before/ after high tide. Check this link for tide timings before you plan a trip.
http://www.mobilegeographics.com:81/locations/658.html

Friday, March 24, 2006

Shadow City - A Photo Feature on Dharavi

Akshay has written a beautiful, sensitive article with illustrative photos taken in the area of Dharavi.

He has put a lot of effort inot the entire process & it shows.

Shadow City - A Look at Dharavi

Ramshackle corrugated tin, plywood, plastic, pukkah bricks, sheets of asbestos, sweat, toil, people and garbage make Dharavi, just like piles of earth, sand, clay and other materials make ant hills. Dharavi and many other slums like it are nothing but human ant colonies built by legions of our urban poor. They are places which are at the same time sombre, moving, joyful and interesting.

Push and pull factors bring people from our villages here everyday in search for something better. They settle here right under our apathetic eyes. But under the squalor is great spirit and ingenuity. I went looking for this spirit in this place most people refer to as 'Asia's largest slum' but I would prefer to call it the 'Heart of Mumbai'.

View the Entire article

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Crossword Hutch Book Award 2005

The Crossword Book Award was instituted in 1998 to identify & encourage Indian writers in English. In its first year, there was just one award for "English Fiction by an author of Indian Origin". It was won by I Allan Sealy for "The Everest Hotel"

Since last year, Hutch became a co-sponsor & this year 4 prizes were announced.
1. Popular choice - English Non Fiction (Hutch users to SMS votes)
2. English Fiction
3. English Non-Fiction
4. Indian Language Fiction Translation (into English)

The last 3 were each judged by a panel of 3 authors whose books weren't in the long list. The long lists were really long & the judges had a lot of reading to do.
Check out the long lists for English Fiction, Indian Language Fiction Translation, and a new category, English Non-Fiction which was exceptionally long with 59 books.

To be eligible the book had to be published between 1 sep 2004 & 31 Aug 2005.

The books were then narrowed to a shortlist :
English Fiction :
The Tiger Claw by Shauna Singh Baldwin
Tokyo Cancelled by Rana Dasgupta
Surface by Siddharth Deb
The Radiance of Ashes by Cyrus Mistry
Magic Seeds by V S Naipaul
Shalimar the Clown by Salman Rushdie.

The Award was won by Shalimar the Clown by Salman Rushdie. Since he couldn't make it to the function, Mr Sriram called him on his cell in Italy and he thanked the crowd over the phone. It was an interesting experience. Rehaan Engineer then did an absolutely brilliant reading from a chapter of the book.

Indian Language Fiction Translation :
A Dying Banyan by Manzoor Ahtesham (translator Kuldip Singh)
Sangati by Bama (translator Lakshmi Holmstrom)
After Kurukshetra by Mahasweta Devi (translator Anjum Katyal)
The Unspoken Curse by V K Madhavan Kutty (translator Prema Jaya Kumar)
The Survivors by Gurudial Singh (translator Rana Nayar)
The Heart Has Its Reasons by Krishna Sobti (translator Reema Anand and Meenakshi Swami).

The award was won by The Heart Has Its Reasons and it was a pleasure to hear from Krishna Sobti herself on the book. She did make a point that most Indian Regional Language writers write brilliant stories but they do not have enough readership. Translation seems to be in order but a lot of the flavor does get missed out. Kitu Gidwani read out a passage from this book.

English Non-Fiction :
One Hundred Years, One Hunderd Voices' by Meena Menon and Neera Adarkar
Pundits from Pakistan: On Tour with India 2003-04 by Rahul Bhattacharya
Finding Forgotton Cities: How the Indus Civilisation was Discovered by Nayanjot Lahiri
Maximum City by Suketu Mehta
Didi: My Mother's Voice by Ira Pande
Chasing the Monk's Shadow: A journey in the footsteps of Xuanzang by Mishi Saran.

While Rahul Bhattacharya won the Popular choice for Pundits from Pakistan he attributed it to his friends who must have been busy sedning sms as long as the contest was open and thanked them for it. The jury awarded Maximum City by Suketu Mehta the top honors and Anahita Oberoi did a reading from this book.

Gossip Factor:
Held at the wonderful environs of the Discovery of India building at the Nehru Centre.
Chips, Veg rolls, cold drinks & coffee/tea were being served.
All the nominated authors of the non-fiction category were present. Other authors included Rana Dasgupta, Cyrus Mistry, Prema Jaya Kumar, Krishna Sobti & Reema Anand.
All the nominees received a certificate and a commemmorative award.
Winners received an award, cheque for 3 lakhs (to be spilt equally among translators or co-authors) and a citation.
All the nominated books were placed on sale at the location.
Book signings were close to impossible because of the media cameras around.
Seema Sehgal sang beautifully incorporating some profound poetry in her renditions.
Anahita Oberoi's blouse had a non existent back. It was held together by a slim thread.
Dandeep Das Deputy MD of Hutch said some beautiful words. I can't call it a speech because it was so touching, heartfelt & natural. It was a one sided conversation with the audience where he took us through how, which books influenced him at each stage of his life and in what way. They were books most in the audience had read and could identify with. Beautiful rendition.
There were 3 women in self colored crepe sarees who kept flitting around preceding and following every person who was called on stage up & down the stairs. It was very distracting and unnecessary. As someone remarked, this was not a "Miss India competition" The one area they could have helped out in, they ignored - lending a helping hand to the authors who found the steps difficult to navigate.
Crossword distributed a compilation of excerpts from all the shortlisted books. a wonderful collector's item, amazing business strategy (after reading excerpts, I'm already planning to buy a couple of the books) and a great memento of the event.

Had the most boorish woman in the world seated in front of me. She could not keep her trap shut for more than a minute. She was constantly cribbing about non issues. She rested her feet on the seat in front of her which fortunately was empty or kept them up on her own. Before the program started, she yelled at her poor husband who was seated 4 seats away about how he never takes things down and his memory is so bad and he should write things down like she had told him a million times before. Since there were 4 people between the 2, she was speaking loud enough for min 5 rows on all sides to hear her tirade. Was sorely tempted to whack her on the head. She spoilt the entire experience for all around her. If you come for a book award, of course there is going to be some book reading involved. If you don't have basic decency and courtesy maybe you should stay at home is what I wanted to tell her but followed Gandhi's principles of ahimsa & non violence so kept it to myself. :)

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Cuppa Cafe

Cuppa Cafe
Crystal Plaza
New Link Road
Opp Fame Adlabs
Bombay 400 058
Free Delivery 2674 2371 / 72

Read the Review here

Anurag Kashyap's workshop & "GULAL"

Late Saturday evening, saw an event listing on Ryze

Satya, Shool , Nayak, Yuva.... and Black Friday
You have loved the movies, Now meet the man...
BAISCOPE ENTERTAINMENT
presents
a workshop * by writer - director ANURAG KASHYAP
on
Sunday, March 19, 2006, at 3pm
at 5th floor, Fun Republic, Andheri (W)
Entry fee: Rs 100/- per person (for non members)
Rs 20/- per person (for members)

Well, because of problems with the Censor board & then the Supreme court, I haven't had the chance to watch Black Friday, but I do own a copy of its audio casette, since music was done by "Indian Ocean" another favorite of mine. But, I digress.

As I was saying before, I am a huge fan of Anurag Kashyap's acting. Yes, he acts in theatre. Mainly with Makarand Deshpande's troupe "Ankh"

With the cast of Sir Sir Sarla III
So although I had never heard about BAIScope before, my interest was piqued and off I trooped to Fun Republic on Sunday evening.

After a harrowing expedition all over the complex, up & down escalators, elevators and stairs, gathering more lost souls along the way, we all finally found our way to the special screening theatre on the 7th floor with a rear gate entry.

The session started a little late, but most didnt mind since the setting was informal & kinda cosy. The special screening theatre has its own mini concession stand which will serve you at your seat inside, once you place an order. The theatre seats about 100 or so, I think.

baiscope then proceded to introduce themselves as an NGO for the film fraternity. Their initial endeavour is to provide a platform for interaction and information for budding actors, directors, script writers, anyone who is trying to get a foot in the door in films and media. the core group consists of some energetic young members from every range in the media spectrum. From CNBC to ad agencies and onwards. This was their first public event, so maybe I will have more info on them in future.

Anurag was then given centre stage. He introduced himself saying that he had made 2.8 films. "Paanch" which was scuttled by the Censors. "Black Friday" which was halted by the Supreme Court and "Gulal" which is currently under production.

He started out by showing us the raw version of "Gulal" his new film. I have never watched a Raw Version before and it gave me huge appreciation of the reason that there are seperate Oscars for Sound editing, Film editing & Sound Mixing.
In a raw version the colors are bad, the sound track goes all over the place. When characters talk loudly or shout, it results in screeching effects and so on.

Inspite of all this, the story line was interesting and quite gripping as it progressed. Having learnt from previous experience, he has now set his film in the future. With the breakdown of the government & democracy, the maharaja's in Rajasthan are trying to wrest control back to form the princely state of Rajputana. The movie is a simple love story set against this backdrop.

We just watched a section of the film, but it was enough to whet our appetites for its release. There is some brilliant music with excellent lyrics including some incredible poetry woven into the story line.

The floor was now open to questions which flew thick, fast & furiously. What emerged was that the man himself was a sensitive soul with strong views and the courage & conviction in his beliefs which helped keep him going through all adversities. Some of the most interesting things he said over the evening were :
"The struggle is not to make it to a producer or to find a star or to tell a story, the struggle is in your head."
"You have to be willing to risk everything"
"Only when you have lost everything, then can something good come out"
"MF Hussain can express his art anyway he likes because he uses his time, his supplies, his creativity, his money. A director is responsible to the people who lend him the money to make his film and he needs to keep their sensibilities and viewpoints in mind too"

One of the few interesting individuals I have had the pleasure of interacting with recently. He clearly knows what he wants & is not afraid to do what is necessary to get there. I do hope that "Gulal" is released properly in India so that the country gets a chance to see what a great Director he is and listen to the wonderful stories that he has to tell.

Now, I've to go find me a copy of "Black Friday" or maybe attend an International Film Festival where it is being screened.

Support for Anurag on the blogosphere:
http://easyreview.blogspot.com/2005/10/black-friday-haunting.html
http://crossstyx.blogspot.com/2005/06/black-friday-director-anurag-kashyap.html
http://middlestage.blogspot.com/2005/04/waiting-for-black-friday.html

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Opening of Fluid Spice

Attended the opening of Fluid Spice.
2nd Floor
Mohid Heights
Next to Andheri RTO
Opp Mandke Hospital
Lokhandwala Complex Road
Andheri (W)

It was combined with some kind of party for Sony's Friday night BIG 4 line up. I think they r Kandly Floss, Fear Factor & something else. Waiters were all wearing Fear Factor T-shirts & the entire Sony set of actors were there. Including the cast of Jassi & meri life hain The cast of CID looked as sullen and expressionless as they do in their promos that I've seen on AXN. Don't know how they actually "act" but guessing, its fairly similar. Gimme CSI anyday regular, Miami or New York. Even the History Channel has a good line up of detection based real cases which are excellent. I'm an NYPD blue, Special Victims Unit fan, so its better I don't watch the watered down hindi versions.

Gossip quotient : well I couldn't recognise too many of the actors or actresses (from anything other than the attitude they give off to lesser mortals.) except Archana Puran Singh & Parmeeth Sethi and Apoorva Agnihotri & Shilpa Saklani (the previous jodi was a favourite on "Nach Baliye" Jassi was there and spent the night dancing with Nandu. Has she broken up with that Band of Boys guy ?

The most spicy bit of speculation came from......
Jassi (Mona whatever) was standing hardly 15 metres from the entry door (the inital room with the bar is a long corridor with the bar running down its length. The disc & DJ area is a larger room that comnnects to the bar) Armaan Sir entered with wife (who has finally got rid of those armpit-to-fingertips red bangles she used to wear earlier, which looked obnoxious with most western outfits that she prefers) and there was a huge, really huge, hi hello commotion for them when they entered. Jassi who was backing the door, did not even bother to turn around. Although most people in the little group she was talking to started frantically waving their hi's & signalling them to come over to be mwah mwahed. She walked away for a bit. Then once the inital commotion was over she came back gave a perfunctory hug to armaan for the ever waiting cameras , snubbed the wife & walked off.

Inferences:

  • Either Jassi is threatened by Armaan. Larger fan base/better acting/successful marriage/better looking/better career.... (fill in your own reason here, I'm sure u read enough gossip columns)
  • Theres something brewing between the 2 & they don't want it known in public.
  • The 2 are mortal enemies in the fight for eyeballs.

Food was good. Good variety of snacks for non vegetarians. I think there were only 2 varieties of veg stuff. Open bar as mandatory. (Someone told me at a recent VH1 party, they had to pay for drinks) Good open, well lit layout for dinner in an adjoining room. Reasonably tasty food. Although the tiramisu was more like one from a punjabi kitchen than an Italian one.

Can't comment on pricing. But guess Fluid Spice will do quite well. Given its proximity to the Balaji, SAB & other TV Factories and tons of bored actors/actresses looking for a place to unwind after work. PArty went on till the wee hours inspite of a friendly visit from the neighbourhood mamus at midnight.





Friday, March 17, 2006

Britannia & Co, Bombay - Berry Pulao and Good Parsi Food

"Mildew-covered strange old buildings", are the words that come to mind each time I'm in Ballard Estate. The reason for today's visit - food, more specifically a type of food , even more specifically a restaurant and to be honest one particular dish - Berry Pulao . What am I talking about you say ? - good ole' Britannia of course. At the corner of this hugely commanding wonder of oxidation, the War Memorial and opposite New Customs House, where "new" is a tag the building has long grown out of is "Britannia & Co - ." A restaurant whose philosophy is "There is no love greater than the love of eating," puts everything into perspective for me, another self affirming moment in my short life.

Even though you count the Parsi joints in Bombay[well in India] on your fingers, Edward VIII, Ideal Corner, Jimmy Boy, Paradise, Piccolo just to name a few, but out of all these places Britannia & Co is pretty special. I'm not taking about their fabulous Dhansak which I would count as the best dhansak I've ever eaten after Dorabjee's Poona of course - it's their Berry Pulao. A dish that makes them unique. As BusyBee famously said, "If it's Berry Pulao, it must be Britannia."

Britannia and Company Restaurant,
Wakefield House,
11 Sprott Road,
16, Ballar Estate (Pier);
(91-22) 22615264.
Open for lunch, snacks and drinks
Monday through Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., but lunch only 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.
Closed Sunday.
No reservations or credit cards.

Read the Entire Photoblog here

A Birding trip to Dandeli

Ritesh rcently went on an unscheduled, unplanned birding trip to Dandeli. This is a write-up of his travel, the birds he saw and some AMAZING pictures.

You can take the trip too. Read Ritesh's write-up for helpful hints & details

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Zoom Holi Party

Got an Invitation from Zoom to party with Abhishek. Wonder which Abhisehk they were talking about since the Bacchan dude had mentioned to papers earlier in the week that he would not be in Mumbai during Holi.

Anyway, we decided to go. Since a party was any day better than me putting fight to make puranpolis, gujiyas & puri's at home.

We quickly took out our clothes kept aside earlier in the year especially to be rendered useless on "Holi"

Entry to "Sun n Sand" was a bit chaotic. The invite had asked everyone to "Come at 10 and wear your Whitest Whites" Most people only took the second half seriously. While others wore the whites that no Tide or Ariel or Surf could get up to advertised whiteness.

There were lots of tubs of colored powder around and fortunately they were of the natural variety. There was a central area where water was being sprayed, kinda like a rain dance.

Lots of TV stars around, no film stars at all unless you could count Rahul Roy who walked in around 3OClock with Paromita Katkar....

Of course a lot of stars were unrecognisable in wet clothes {grin} and colours all over them. The Zoom site has photos up if you are interested. Just realised the geeky kid with glasses was actually Amit Sana.

Pooja Bedi was on the dance floor non stop in a clingy sari & virtually non existent blouse. Guess Zoom had given her a decent deal to be wet and wild from start to finish.

There was Thandai (not laced with Bhang) and an open bar for those who needed bolstering of spirits. A chaat counter which was serving vodka gol guppas, and whisky infused bhel & other such intoxicating sounding items. Decent kebabs & salads and tawa stuff. The main course wasnt too great but the desserts were great. Guess will have to go back to Sun n Sand to eat at their regular restaurants.

Couple of firang models were hired to ensure that people (read Men) stayed at the watery end of the floor. Who were then seen pichkaring thandai into open mouths.

Decent time. No worries of untoward behaviour. Came home took a bath. colors came off in 2 scrubs. Then had the most dreamless sleep ever. Wonder if I'll be able to get any work done tomorrow either.

Read the Official Version

Recipes for Holi Specialities

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Baadshah, Mumbai

Baadshah
Opposite Crawford Market
LT Marg
2342 1943, 2344 9316, 2342 5950

Read the Review here

Prince of Wales Museum, Bombay

Prince of Wales Museum, Bombay
OR
If u prefer.....

Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai
abbreviated as CSMVS
2284 4519

Located at the Kala Ghoda stretch, its one of the easiest landmarks to locate in Bombay.

Open from 10:15 am to 6pm daily, except Monday.
Entry Rs.10 for Indians, Rs.450/- for foreign nationals (which includes an audio tour in English, French, Japanese & one more language, I think its German) If Indian's want to use the audio tour, it will cost them Rs.150/- more. Camera permits are Rs.30/- (you can't use a flash within the premises) and video camera permit is Rs.200/-
Entry for school going students is free on Tuesdays. Bags can't be taken inside, but can be left at the cloakroom just inside the main gate.

Mumbai's major museum was built to commemorate King George V's first visit to India in 1905 (when he was still Prince of Wales) though it did not open until 1923.

Designed by George Wittett in grand Indo Saracenic style, it is set in an ornamental garden and boasts a galleried central hall topped by a huge dome, said to have been inspired by the Golgumbaz in Bijapur, Karnataka.

Suprisingly, it has been counted among 20 best museums in the world. It houses miniature paintings from the 16th to 18th centuries. The remains of the Harappan civilisation and Mohenjodaro are also exhibited here. 30,000 ancient artifacts including Chinese Jade Pieces are housed here.

The lush beautiful grounds were closed to public during the 1993 Bombay Bomb Blasts. Unfortunately, nobody remembered to re-open them after that original decree which is a shame especially since there are some beautiful chinese pieces placed around the garden which cannot be viewed since they are now cordoned off. Even the stately statue of the Prince of Wales has to be content with displaying his back to the public.

We weren't very excited by the museum. The Salar Jung museum in Hyderabad is a 100 times more interesting. They have started trying to improve the settings and display cases, but they have a very long way to go. The value of the collection cannot be estimated, so priceless is it. But its display leaves a lot desired. For eg in the Ratan Tata memorial room. There are some large paintings by unknown artists which occupy pride of place, while some smaller sized Constables have been lumped together with other unknowns and barely merit a glance by most.

The Chinese collection is sizeable and the only redeeming feature of the museum. We were unlucky on our trip since the European Painting section was under renovation. But we got lucky that a special exhibition "The Dream of an Inhabitant of Mogul" was on. This is a special exhibition produced by the Cultural Section of the Embassy of France in India. More on this, in my next post.

We who are normally slow browsers, were able to cover the entire museum in 2 hours, this was while taking pictures through a slow process. So you won't really need to keep a day aside for the museum. You can just make it a part of your Kala Ghoda-museum-India Gate itinerary for a day.

The Dream of an Inhabitant of Mogul @ Prince of Wales Museum

A special exhibition produced by the Cultural Section of the Embassy of France in India. Hosted at CSMVS, (Prince of Wales Museum) Mumbai in Collaboration with Alliance Francaise de Bombay.

From 7th March 2006 to 2nd April 2006

This exhibiton is organised around the collection of miniature paintings by Imam Baksh Lahori, illustrating the Fables of Jean de la Fontaine (Property of the musee Jean de la Fontaine, Chateau-Thierry, France.)

The fables of Jean de la Fontaine, first published in 1668 are probably among the most famous works in French Literature. They are still studied today in the schools of France. The sources of the fables are numerous, the Greek Aesop, the Latin Phedre, the Italian Fabulists, as well as the Panchatantra & the Tutinama have inspired Jean de la Fontaine. But the beauty of his poetry has remained unequalled since.

The exhibition is a visual treat, resplendent and glorious, dating back to the times of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

The stories have been translated into English & Hindi at the exhibition. If you would like to read each of the stories, this exhibition will take around an hour to peruse. It would be an hour, very well spent indeed.

Entry to the exhibition is included in the CSMVS museum entry

Jehangir Art Gallery

Jehangir Art Gallery
Kala Ghoda
2204 8212

The city's principal exhibition space for Art, hosts interesting shows by Indian artists. There are normally 4 exhibitions on at a time on the ground floor, one at the Terrace Art Gallery and one at Gallery Chemauld at any given time.

The artists are normally at hand during these exhibitions and the pieces are often available for sale.

Its open from 11am to 7pm daily. Entry is free.

There are no permanent exhibits and the quality of the work totally depends on your luck.

There's a pleasant cafe situated at the gallery called Samovar which is closed on Sundays.

Samovar

Samovar
Jehangir Art Gallery
Kala Ghoda
2284 8000, 2204 7276

Read The Review Here

Monday, March 13, 2006

Holi - Its significance + how to make your own Natural Colours

I have received this beautiful piece of information from NIC. Please read, implement and educate your relatives, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Thanks.

Nature Information Centre
Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivali (East),
Mumbai:400066.
Phone: 3097 2620
E – MAIL: nicsgnpDELETETHIS@vsnl.net

HOLI – 15th March, 2006
Holi is the festival of Spring, the festival of romance, the festival of the triumph of good over evil, a festival of colors and festival of fun and pranks. The festival is celebrated on the full-moon day of Phalguna, though it stretched up to a week in Northern India and six-day long in Manipur. As the tradition goes all the people gather around on a day before the Holi as we know it, it is the evening of bonfires. People light up bonfires of dead leaves, twigs and sticks and people dance and sing around it to welcome the Spring and commemorate the saving of Prahlad and burning of his wicked aunt Holika. People take embers from this holy fire to rekindle their own domestic fires.

Biological Significance
It is interesting to note that the festival of Holi is significant for our lives and body in many other ways than providing joy and fun. We also need to thank our forefathers who started the trend of celebrating Holi at such a scientifically accurate time and also for incorporating so much fun in the festival.

As Holi comes at a time of the year when people have a tendency to feel sleepy and lazy, it is natural for the body to experiences some tardiness due to the change from the cold to the heat in the atmosphere. To counteract this tardiness of the body, people sing loudly or even speak loudly. Their movements are brisk and their music is loud. All of this helps to rejuvenate the system of the human body.

Besides, the colours when sprayed on the body have a great impact on it. Biologists believe the liquid dye or Abeer penetrates the body and enters into the pores. It has the effect of strengthening the ions in the body and adds health and beauty to it.

There is yet another scientific reason for celebrating the Holi, this however pertains to the tradition of Holika Dahan. The mutation period of winter and spring, induces the growth of bacteria in the atmosphere as well as in the body. When Holika is burnt, temperature rises to about 63oC. Following the tradition when people perform Parikrima (circumambulation or going around) around the fire, the heat from the fire kills the bacteria in the body thus, cleansing it.

The way Holi is celebrated in south, the festival also promotes good health. For, the day after the burning of Holika people put ash
(Vibhuti) on their forehead and they would mix Chandan (sandalpaste) with the young leaves and flowers of the Mango tree and consume it to promote good health.

Traditionally, only natural colors prepared from flowers and herbal products were used but today, artificial colors have taken over. Now people often use colored foams and balloons filled with chemical-based colored water.

Plants which can be used for preparation of natural colours.

Colours: Plants and their parts

Red, Pink :
Rajgira (inflorescence); Beet (root); red amaranth, teak, henna (leaves); Tomato, Kokum, Strawberry, Cherry (fruits), shoe flower, Palash, Erythrena, Silk cotton
(flowers)

Yellow:
Turmeric (roots); Marigold, Yellow Champa, Gulbakshi/4'oclock plant
(Flowers)

Green:
Spinach, Neem, Turmeric, Marigold, Mint (leaves)

Blue
Barleria/ Koranti, Gokrna

Saffron
Prajkta/Bela (stalk of the flower); Bixa/Aneto (seeds)

White
Gokerna, Gulbakshi, Shoe flower (flowers)

Method :
1. Clean all the fruit/flowers/roots/leaves then chop them and grind them into the mixer.
2. Put adequate water into the mixture and strain it through strainer. Your coloured water is ready!
3. Grind remaining part into the mixer again, and then add some ubtan. This colour you can use to apply on skin instead of chemical colours.

All these colours are neutral and do not cause any ill effects on human body.

Chemical colours and their bad effects -

Colour: Chemical/ Chemicals : Bad effects on the body

Black
Lead oxide
Damages kidney/excretory system, Adversely affect on physical and mental growth of a child, numbness.

Green
Copper sulphate
Eye allergy, swelling, temporary blindness.

Silver
Aluminum bromide
Causes Cancer

Blue
Copper
Skin diseases, ill effects on eyes, respiratory system, liver and nervous system.

Red
Mercury sulphate
Highly poisonous, dangerous, causes skin cancer, ill effects on liver, kidney and nervous system.

Violet
Jention violet
Skin diseases and allergy. Highly dangerous in concentrated form. May cause temporary blindness.

Pink
Asbestos, Siliqua
It has chemical that causes cancer, may cause respiratory disorders such as Asthma, Tuberculosis.

Gulal
Iron, Chromium, Cadmium.
Fever, Asthma, Pneumonia. Skin may become sensitive towards sunlight.

Petals, Toil and Business on Dadar's Phulgalli

In this congregated mass of humanity there is colour so vibrant and aromas so powerful that it would match that of any perfumery in the world. Eyes drown in the colour and your nose in the fragrance of a million flowers all stacked in baskets in multitude. A kaleidoscope for your senses. Dadar's Phulgalli (flower-lane) takes your traditional Bombay smells of sweat, toil, paint, iron and turns them into the smell of marigolds. Wipe your brow and you find petals in addition to sweat.

Bombay's entire economy is pinned around one ability- the ability to move its mammoth population from their suburban homes to their work places in the city. This is down to Bombay's local train system which, with a miraculous efficiency, it is believed that it carries 6.1 million people a day. Where millions pass, commerce generally follows. I would describe it as a mobile mall. Each station has its bazaar and each bazaar its speciality.

View the Entire Article with Brilliant Pictures

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Heritage Bus Rides

The MTDC (Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation) runs 2 heritage bus rides each on Saturday & Sunday at 7PM & 8:15PM.

They advertise it as "Sit on an open-roofed double decker bus & enjoy South Mumbai's Heritage District"

The Upper deck costs 90/- per person & the lower costs 40/- per person.

Realistically what can you expect ?
Currently on a power saving trip, most of the monuments are no longer lit up at night, thus defying the very purpose of this ride.
Catch the bus at India Gate, go past The Taj, Elphinstone College, David Sasson Library, Watson Hotel, Oval Maidan, down to Nariman Point, then up Marine Drive, turn in at Churchgate, take a detour to VT, cruise past the Horniman Circle & the Asiatic & you are back to where you started in an hour (traffic permitting)

Its a good ride to quickly see all the major monuments of South Mumbai. Don't expect to be able to take pictures, because the bus only halts at Red Lights & in traffic jams. Don't go expecting to get a quick dose of history from your guide to enthuse you into more heritage. The guide has some decent material but the apathy shows through quite clearly in the toneless voice.

Do go, if u have come to Bombay on a short trip & have a few hours free in the evening & want a quick trip around. If you prefer to learn about the buildings attend one of the many heritage walks referred to on other parts of this blog of mine.

You can buy tickets any time during the day at the MTDC booth at the Gateway. Go early because seat numbers are marked on the ticket.

A small tip : The best seats are towards the left half of the bus and mid way through, not up front. You get unrestricted views from these. On the top deck of course.

For details 2202 6713

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Bade Miya, Mumbai

Bade Miya
Tulloch Road
Apollo Bunder
Behind Taj Mahal Hotel
Mumbai 400 039
2284 8038, 2285 1649

Read my Review here

Taj Mahal Palace & Tower

Taj Mahal Hotel
Apollo Bunder
Colaba

The majestic Taj Mahal Hotel overlooks Apollo Bunder and has great views of the gateway from its top floor Apollo Bar. This Mumbai institution was built in 1903 by JN Tata, one of the city's great Parsi benefactors, supposedly after he was refused entry to Watson's hotel - a European hotel - on account of being 'a native'.

For a great view of Mumbai, go up to the Sea Lounge and ask for a table by the window.

Its also worth seeing the grand central stairway in the Hotel's Old Wing.

There was a rumour that the designer of the building committed suicide when he saw the finished building had been constructed back-to-front. But that's all it is - A Rumour.

Do note that the Taj Mahal Hotel is a five star hotel & hence the rates would be on the higher side.

The Taj has a number of Restaurants & Bars on the premises
Shamiana : 24-hour coffee shop.
Sea Lounge : Meeting place in Bombay for tea and light meals.
Harbour Bar : Bombay's oldest bar.
Apollo Bar: The rooftop bar.
Lounge Bar: For the finest selection of wines.
Zodiac Grill : Continental gourmet dining. Also serves Power Breakfast. One of the most expensive restaurants in the city. dinner for two can come upto Rs.8000/-
Golden Dragon : Authentic Sichuan cuisine.
Tanjore: Indian cuisine with classical dance performances in the evening.
1900s : Bombay's newest night club.

For More info
Taj Mahal Palace & Tower : The Official Site

Mumbai Food: The Punjabi Connection

No city in India can represent an approximate microcosm of India as well as Mumbai can. The city's cosmopolitan essence blurs regionalism across class.

It is a melting pot of India, the best of North and South. Even though some political parties play on the regional insecurities of some of its residents, most residents defy it. An obvious side effect of this diversity is the city's food. The khaana-peena [food & drink] habits change from neighbourhood to neighbourhood. This is a quality of Mumbai I specially cherish and I can assure you so does my palate.

This week I am going to explore the Punjabi cuisine in the city-rich, ghee filled, heart felt, delicious food. An open celebration of all things loud, homely and tasty. Regional identities are proudly protected by most Indians but for some reason I do not seem to fall in this category. Even though I am supposedly Punjabi by nature I do not speak my mother tongue and for that matter neither do my parents. Whenever I mention the fact that I do not speak my 'mother tongue' to others I am met with oohs and aahs as if it is a cardinal sin. Possibly the only thing that connects me to my diluted regional identity is its food. There are a number of restaurants which serve Punjabi food in this city but two of my favourites are the ones that serve simple home style food- the famous Guru Kripa in Sion and the Crystal Restaurant on Marine Drive.

Read recommedations & view Photoblog here

Gateway of India

Gateway of India
Apollo Bunder
Colaba

Ironic that the first visual that comes to mind when one says "Bombay" is the "Gateway of India", since it was built to commemorate the visit of King George V & Queen Mary in 1911.

A little known fact is that the Monarch walked through a plaster of paris replica. The Authentic Gateway was ready in 1924. At 26 metres high, this yellow basalt stone archway is the first landmark that a visitor sees when arriving by ship. This crypto-Moresque archway has welcomed numerous viceroys, governors and top civil servants as they disembarked by launch from their P & 0 steamers. But it was redundant just 24 years later when the last British Regiment ceremoniously departed India through its archway.

This archway was designed by George Wittet (who later designed the Prince of Wales Museum) in the Muslim styles of 16th century Gujarat.

Today there is a green park opposite the Gateway which boasts an equestrian statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji. Also a statue of Swami Vivekananda has been installed to the right.

Behind the Park is the magnificient "Taj Mahal Palace & Tower"

Boats from here depart for Elephanta Island, mainland village of Mandwa, Alibagh & a few other places. The Heritage Bus Ride also departs from here at 7pm & 8:15pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

You can only circambulate the monument. Actual entry is not permitted.

Entry to the monument and the park with Shivaji's statue are free. Parking is charged at the normal BMC rates at South Bombay. Parking is right at the monument.

Friday, March 10, 2006

I love Juhu

Sonya's blog on Juhu has this beautiful article on what all can be done in Juhuu. Its a brillieant peice & a shortened version was published in Timeout Mumbai on January 14th 2006.

Read the entire article which covers
The mini Gandhi ashram, the temples, the tanks, the Bollywood homes, Chandan Cinema, Juhu Beach, The ISKCON Temple Complex, The Centre for Arts and Crafts, Bharat Scouts and Guides Grounds, Prithvi Café, Mahesh Lunch Home & The Original Naturals Ice Cream Outlet.

A must read article this !

Thursday, March 09, 2006

A Bombay Breakfast - Epitome of the City

Akshay Writes :

Everybody knows that an English Breakfast is fried bacon, sausages, mushroom, eggs and tomatoes; a Continental Breakfast is bread rolls or croissants and butter and perhaps jam, with coffee or tea or hot chocolate; but the question I ask today is what is a Bombay Breakfast ?

Here is my look into what fuels millions in this city?

A Bombay Breakfast epitomizes the city in every way- it is fast to cook, diverse, mobile, well packaged, high on carbs and low on greens.

If you have grown up in Bombay you would have noticed a particular piece of food is a perennial part of your diet - bread. Not the sliced 'modern bread' you pick up from the nearest pan-wallah shop. It is " Pav", this 'bread roll' of sorts is delivered straight to your home bakery fresh by the friendly neighbourhood pav-wallah. The pav-wallah is just one of many visitors an average Bombay household gets - all those friendly faces that keep you busy answering your doorbell through the day - the dudhwala (milkman), the paperwalla (newspaper boy), the bhajiwalli (vegetable grocer), the machiwali (fisherwoman) and the string of cats that follow her, the istriwalli/dhobhi (the fellow who washes your clothes or irons them or does both), the jamadar (garbage-collector), the watchman (security at the main gates), the maali (gardener - not in all cases), the bai (maidservant).. I would have continued but the list is endless.

Read recommendations & view Photoblog here for descriptions on Breakfasting in Bombay
1. Naashta No.1 - the wada-pav
2. Chamosa at Lower Parel
3. The Marathi Option - Prakash - Shakahari Uphaar Kendriya
4. Vinay Health Home
5. The Persian Connection
6. Going Down South - Udipi

Read the entire article here

Arvind Joshi, director, actor, producer - discusses the perils of theatre auditoriums in a city like Mumbai.

This article is from the latest issue of Seagull


'The theatre's full, the boxes glitter,
The stalls are seething, the pit roars,
The gallery claps and stamps, a-twitter;
The curtain rustles as it soars .'
- Alexander Pushkin

Arvind Joshi, director, actor, producer - discusses the perils of theatre auditoriums in a city like Mumbai.

The most important thing about a performing place for an artist is its compactness; and the ability to reach-out across the foot-lights to the audience. In this regard, Tejpal and Prithvi are the best. In Tejpal, for instance, the actor establishes a rapport with the audience in the first five minutes. This means, the audience is with the play right from the outset, and the actor does not have to make an extra effort. This helps the performance and the play.

Whereas with Bhaidas or Birla Matushri, this reaching-out to the audience becomes a difficult task, since these are huge, noisy auditoriums. Here - it is extremely strenuous to establish a harmony with the audience. Then there is the almost-impossible-to-perform Birla Matushri Sabagrah. It is perhaps more suited for conferences and lectures by star speakers. As a theatre auditorium, it is a failure, since it is not possible for the last rows to see the stage. Forget the expressions and nuances of the actors, since sometimes the main action is blocked due to pillars on the sides. Which is why, I'm very fond of Tejpal, or an auditorium like Prithvi. Because even whilst you're on stage, you're at the same time one among the audience, since the demarcations, the boundaries do not exist.

Another venue, I'm fond of is, Jai Hind. But this is largely due to my familiarity to the space, since INT and my brother; Pravin Joshi performed most of its plays at Jai Hind. I also enjoyed performing at the Bhulabhai auditorium with its jutting balcony. It required a special technique from the actor on stage to communicate to the audience who was seated in this balcony. This requires a subtle change in the performance. The actor has to look-upwards, or at least provide the illusion of doing so. Or else the audience in the balcony would leave left-out. Most of our actors ignore this and perform only for the front-row.

The point is, in Mumbai, very few auditoriums are constructed for the purpose of theatre. It seems, only Bhulabhai, Tejpal, Prithvi, NCPA have been constructed for theatre performance. The rest of the auditoriums lack intimacy. It's also very curious that during the construction of these auditoriums, the architects never consult theatre people. And so, the end-result is a building with good architecture, along with technical competency and good acoustics. However, the most vital requirement of theatre is neglected.

This does not entail great amounts of money or extra efforts. For example, the Bal Gandharava theatre in Pune is almost perfectly constructed. Even the Sahitya Sangh theatre (although not functional, today) is a good theatre. In fact I would rate it better than Shivaji Mandir.

The old Opera House was a brilliant theatre. It has witnessed all sorts of performances from operas to plays. It had a balcony with boxes - but the curvature of the balcony was well-appropriated by placing four seats in every curvature. This meant that the spectator in the box was also very close to the stage.

Another good old theatre was Daulat Talkies, which was located in the red-light area. This area was called 'pill-house' a corruption of the term 'play-house'. Around fifty years ago, there were innumerable theatre like Daulat Talkies, these were, Roshan Talkies, Alfred Talkies, Moti, Royal and so on, which used to stage Gujarati, Parsi or Urdu plays. There used to be long tin boards in front of the rows in the pit class. And so, the audience in this class would stamp their feet on this board, and create a din. This was their way of demanding an encore, or a once-more or applause.

Bangwadi was another fine theatre. It possessed all kinds of facilities, which included dwellings for actors, musicians and crew. There was also a company kitchen. Everyone was paid monthly wages; and the group was very much like a repertory company.

In those days, the stage was very sturdy. So much so, I've seen plays which have had an elephant on stage. Prithviraj Chauhan would ride (not canter) on a horse from wing to another. Further, there were trap-doors on the floor of the stage, this device was used to good effect. In one play, which I've witnessed, Prithviraj's eyes are being put-out by Mohamed Ghauri. Prithivraj is on the floor, and is trying to aim an arrow at Ghauri who is perched at a height on top of the castle-wall. On cue, Prithviraj takes aim and the arrow hits Ghauri, who falls-off the high wall . directly into a trap-door, and vanishes by sliding inside the stage. This extremely dangerous manoeuvre used to be executed not once - but four-to-five times due to a hysterical public demanding 'encores'. And so, the same scene would be repeated with clinical precision. In today's times, we do not possess the workmen or skill to produce such a scene. Our version of the above scene would end with a black-out the moment Ghauri is hurt.

Even with lights, we have to make compromises. Most auditoriums provide six to seven lights at the most. Overseas, the scenario is vastly different. Theatres there are equipped with 600 lights - at least. This means every square inch of the stage can be lit. This guarantees a better visibility - and a better 'feel' of the play. Moreover, in Mumbai, with our shift-system, and constant setting-up and dismantling of the set, we are not in a position to set-up too many lights. After all, how many lights can one set-up in an hour!

As a rule, the management are insensitive to the needs of the performer. These are usually tiny things - but they matter. For instance, the mirror at Bhaidas is distorted, and so, instead of a reflection, the artist ends-up seeing unusual shapes and contours. Then there are no bulbs around the mirror. Now, how can an artist apply make-up in tube-light? How does one get the exact texture and correct hue in tube-light? Further, even when the auditorium is air-conditioned, there is no air-conditioning in the green-room. This is insensitivity, nothing else. After all, the green-room is the most crucial place for a performer. The performer prepares for his role in this space. He concentrates, gets into character, goes-over the details, etc. In Tejpal, for instance, after repeated insisting, the management has installed a window air-conditioner in the green room.

In fact, once when I asked Pravin Joshi, as to what we would do when we are no longer actors or directors? He replied that with our knowledge of the theatres, we would easily get a job as booking clerk. After all, who can out-match our knowledge about the seats in an auditorium.

Another crucial thing which is not thought over is a small quick-change dressing room. This is for the rapid-fire exit and entries. This particularly true for women-artists, some of whom have to make the 100-metre dash from the stage to the green-room, change their costume, and appear on stage - unruffled, and totally composed. Why, there have been occasions when I've changed my costume on stage in a black-out or whilst the curtain is down .. But it is very risky. Of late, theatre groups construct a tiny, make-shift cubicle of canvas in the back-stage area for these quick-changes.

The point is, our auditoriums are built without the consultation of theatre people. Consider: the ambience and atmosphere of a theatre. The moment, one enters a theatre one should feel that one has entered the arena of entertainment. In Mumbai, no one pays attention to this. Consider Bhaidas, they have a huge foyer. And so much can be done in this space with a bit of attention and care. A few lights, photographs of plays and a few words about the actors who have made their reputations; all this would create a great atmosphere.

The old Bangwadi had a great atmosphere. To start with there was the labyrinth of lanes leading up to the auditorium. The soft sounds of music, of laughter. Then there were theatre-books for sale. All this made the experience of seeing a play truly wonderful. On my part, I've been speaking to the Bhaidas management to do something similar. After all, they have ample space.

The good news is, they are planning a Gujarati Cultural Centre - once they procure some FSI. They have already begun consulting theatre people. There is a plan for a library of scripts of performed plays, a video-centre with recording of plays for non-commercial reasons. Pictures and notes about sets and costumes. Interviews with theatre personalities can be recorded on video. There can be clippings of a director in a rehearsal which will help us comprehend his methodology. Even the traditional art forms can be preserved. For instance, at the moment only four groups are performing Bhavai, now before this form dies, we should do something about it.

Sometimes I wonder if our priorities are all mixed-up. We spend so much money and energy on constructing new temples, but we do not do a thing about institutions which matter like schools, hospitals, theatres .

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Open Couple - Reviewed

The invitation to view "The Open Couple" was quite tantalising being a Dario Fo play and all.

It read
"A Comedy about a couple where the husband wants an "open relationship" wherein he is free to see other women and claims to accept the fact, if his wife also does the same. However it slowly becomes clear that the arrangement works only from the husbands point of view as long as he has other relationships but when his wife does likewise he breaks down and wants to go back to the conventional couple situation"

Having Recently watched Unprecedented Distasters like "Plane Crazy Bout Love", we had sworn off the Comedy genre in India. We have even walked out of a couple of
"comedies" earlier because they were so pitifully presented. Either their timing was off completely or it was just a disaster on stage.

Hence we have been sticking to serious theatre for the last few years by recognised groups. Since we live close to Prithvi, it has been quite easy.

But "Open Couple" restored our faith in Comedy in Indian Theatre. We did enjoy the show.

The play evolves through flashbacks & at points the 2 lead characters converse directly at the audience. (Not interactive, but directed towards the audience)

Nazneen Madan had some Lengthy Dialogues. At times they were completely effortless, although she did struggle at times to make them sound natural. Jagdish had limited
dialogues, but his facial expressions were always bang on. Too often actors do not react to what is going on, around them on stage. His appearance from the bathroom wrapped in a multicolored towel & his wife's shower cap on his head & hair dryer in hand in a bid to commit suicide had the entire audience in splits.

I wouldn't say it was an excellent production, but it was a very good try & much, much, much better than a lot of trash coming out in the name of "Comedy."

Why do corporates give those trashy wannabe's sponsorship while avoiding Quality Theatre? {Will rant on this later. Its another pet peeve of mine.}

To sum up I think a quote from the "Hero" Jagdish is appropriate "It is actually the magic by the writers Dario Fo & Franca Rame who are amazxing with their language and flow of script.....We have had amazing response each time we have performed and standing there on stage I have learnt to filter the sounds from the audience where the loudest laughter comes from women ! :) This was also the observation of all groups who have performed worldwide over these last 25 years ....amazing na ?"

Delhi Darbar, Mumbai

Delhi Darbar
Holland House
Shaheed Bhagath Singh Marg
Near Regal Cinema
Colaba
Mumbai 400 039
Tel : 2202 5656, 2202 0235, 2284 8231

Read the Review

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Resident Doctors on Strike in Mumbai

The last few days the papers have been carrying all kinds of reports on the resident doctors in Mumbai who are on strike. Very few newspapers are on the side of these doctors. Most of them have criticised the doctors harshly.

Lets just look at a few points objectively.

As far as I know, Resident doctors are students who have cleared their MBBS exams and are preparing for their MD exams. In some cases you have students who have given their MD exams & are waiting for results.

Education & Pay :
Doctors are educated citizens in a civil society. They get a salary of Rs.8000/- per month.
Lift men in hospitals on goverment pay scales earn approximately 10,000/- per month. Call centre representatives earn an average of 15,000/- per month and in most cases they aren't even graduates. From the time of independence, the government has hiked its own pay umpteen number of times. That of resident doctors has only been hiked thrice in almost 60 years.
Do you think 8000/- per month is a reasonable salary to expect for someone who is well above average intelligence & has put in all the hard work to become a doctor ?
Most resident doctors in government hospitals are there on merit & because of a vocation & not because of donations. If they had become doctors through the donation route they would be serving their residency in fancier hospitals with better working conditions.
Until now their annual fees were 18,000/- per annum. They have recently been increased to 50,000/- per annum. Annual income 96000/- per annum. Resident doctors don't even fit into the lowest tax bracket. Which means they aren't even earning minimum wages.
Recommendation : Pay needs to be made commensurate with their education & the amount of work that they put in.


Read the Rest of My Article on My Other Blog

Friday, March 03, 2006

Prithvi Cafe, Mumbai

Prithvi Cafe
Prithvi Theatre
Janki Kutir
Juhu Road
Mumbai
2617 4118, 2614 9546

Read the Review Here.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Street harrassment Blog-a-thon

Blank Noise Project is organising a Blog-a-thon 2006 on March 7th the issue of street harrassment

for those interested the following is the link and announcement

http://blanknoiseproject.blogspot.com/
Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Blank Noise Presents....


Blog-a-thon 2006



Marking our one year foray into the blog world, we’ve decided to host a Blog-a-thon on the issue of street harassment. No, you don’t have to run anywhere (thankfully) to participate, you’ve just got to get to your computer this TUESDAY (7th MARCH) and post your thoughts on street harassment/ eve teasing on your blog. You can write about anything related to the topic: testimonies, opinions on harassment, comments about the Blank Noise project, would all be great. It doesn't matter where you're from, where you live, or whether you're a man or a woman - we'd love to have you on board. If you’d like to participate, send an email to blurtblanknoise[AT]gmail.com before the coming Monday (6th March). We’ll add your name and blogsite to the ‘running’ list of participants on the Blank Noise blogsite so that everyone can see what everyone else is writing about the topic. Also, just to get the maximum number of people 'out' for this event - we'd request that you put up a posting on your blog prior to Monday to encourage other people to participate, and to let them know to check your blog on Monday. So join one, join all!

Blog-o-thon List of Participants:
Amit Ken
Ammani
Amodini
Anna
Annie
Atanu
Aurina
Black Ink
Black Mongoose
Boheme Belle
Boo
Buttercup Tea
Charukesi
Chinmayee
The Compulsive Confessor
Deepali
DesiPundit
Dina Mehta
The East Street
Etcetera
Gaurav Sabnis
Guptavati
Hathirpithi
IdeaSmith
India Uncut
Jasmeen
Jasmine
Kaleidoglide
Kalesh Kumar
Kim
Komal Mehta
Laks
M.
Mangs
Mathy Kandasamy
Megha Krishnan
Namit
Neha
Payal Dhar
Premalatha
Queer
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