A topnotch site

Month: August, 2012


Get ready to salivate extensively for the next five minutes with these mind-numbing and mouth-watering Kashmiri dishes…

Being a Kashmiri pandit myself, there are a lot of myths and misunderstandings (that is, leaving aside the different pronunciations that people across the world come up with) regarding the food that is associated with Kashmiri cuisine and hence came up with this week’s blog idea to introduce some of the most famous and mouth-watering dishes from Kashmir to one and all. Kashmiri food is known to be very rich in spices and is a favourite among those who love spicy food. Some of the below mentioned dishes are a few of tourists’ as well as my favourites as well! These dishes are more popular or associated with the Kashmiri pandit cuisine, rather than with the Kashmiri Muslims.
As a matter of fact, most of the following dishes are always made in Kashmiri marriages or special occasions like Kashur birthdays (i.e. Kashmiri birthdays: Yes, Kashmiris have their own Kashmiri calendar according to which a person’s birthday falls on a particular date and that is taken and celebrated to be his/her birthday. The interesting point here is that earlier till 20-30 odd years back, some of the Kashmiris didn’t even know their real birth dates because their Kashmiri birth dates used to fall on different dates each year!),and occasions like ashthami etc. Here a few of the famous Kashmiri dishes that are a must have on your food menu, if anyone ever plans a trip to the place:

  • Rogan Josh: Rogan joshis undoubtedly

    rogan josh

    the most famous and loved dish ever from
    the Kashmiri cuisine, by both the Kashmiris
    as well as the non-Kashmiris who have tasted the dish. Rogan josh is nothing but lamb cooked in hot, spicy red gravy. But beware! It is bound to be very spicy and is known to be a heavenly delight for spicy non-vegetarian lovers!

  • Yakhni: Yakhniis what

    lamb yakhni

    we call lamb cooked in curd based gravy. It’s not spicy but is
    definitely a must have
    dish for those who visit Kashmir or want to experience Kashmiri food cuisine as this dish is an integral part of the food culture in Kashmir.

    Matschgand- minced meatballs

  • Matschgand:  Matschgand are hand-made minced meatballs, which is later cooked in spicy red gravy, which will seduce your taste buds into having more and more of them and you won’t be even guilty of developing a bad stomachache because of over-eating this spicy dish.

    meatballs in yogurt gravy

  • Goshtaba: A delicacy – mutton minced with various Kashmiri spices, shaped into balls and
    cooked in a very flavourful yogurt gravy- a creamy sauce.

    modur pulao

  • Modur Pulao: Modur’ means sweet.
    Modur pulao is nothing but sweet
    pulao which is rice prepared with
    cinnamon, a little saffron, milk, ghee,
    sugar, cashew nuts, almonds, green
    cardamom and cloves to name a few.
    Sweet Pulao is said to be usually served as a dessert but there is no such tradition in most of the Kashmiri families that I have seen around me, including my own. Definitely not one of my favourites.

    lyodur chaman

  • Lyodur Tschaman:
    Lyodur means yellow (turmeric) and tschaman  means cottage cheese or simply paneer. This dish is simply Cottage Cheese cooked in creamy turmeric based gravy. It is a top favourite amongst vegetarian Kashmiris and is very often cooked on a day to day basis.

    dum aloo

  • Dum Oluv or aloo:
    Everyone is familiar with this dish and might have tasted it as well. Dum oluv or aloo is a dish of whole potatoes cooked in spicy red gravy which if cooked properly in the typical Kashmiri way, can bring various flavours to your mouth and tears of sheer pleasure in your eyes.
  • Muj Gaad:

    muj-gaad (radish and fish)

    ‘Muj gaad’ is one among the most favorite dishes of Kashmiri pandits. This dish basically comprises of fish which is deep fried first and then added to red spicy gravy along with radish and is then topped with grinded ajwain in the end. It is a dish to kill and die for!


  • Nadir-Waangan:This dish comprises of lotus stems with brinjal and can be cooked in two different ways- one is cooked in red spicy gravy and the other with a yogurt base curry/gravy.
  • Nadir-haak/Gogji/Monji:This is a dish favourite among the locals wherein lotus stems are cooked with spinach/saag or radish which somehow turns out to be finger-licking  good.


  • Haak-monji: This is the most commonly
    made dish you will find in any Kashmiri
    household. This dish consists of spinach/saag
    along with radish (preferably) and is made
    almost every other day in any Kashmiri household. It is very good for eyes and even though it looks a little bland, but it actually is unbelievably tasty.

    gogji razma

  • Raazma-Gogji:This dish is primarily a raazma (kidney beans) dish but along with turnip pieces in it. The turnip gives a different Kashmiri twist to the dish altogether, which makes it different than the way raazma is usually made.

    chok wangun

  • Chouck Waangan: Chouck waangan means sour brinjals. It is a dish in which brinjals are cut length-wise, fried and then mixed with tamarind water and other spices. It is an extremely chapatti dish which is bound to let out a ‘click’ sound from your mouth.

And of course, the most famous of all, the Kashmiri tea, also known as ‘kehwa’ (originally pronounced as ‘keh-wa’, not ‘ka-wa’) is a must try drink for all. It is a type of tea which is boiled and cardamom, almonds and sugar are added to it. It is said to have medicinal properties as well. ‘Kehwa’ is also given to people suffering with a cold or sore throat as it relieves the pain and irritability of the ailment.


Over 20 varieties of Kehwa
are prepared in different
households. Some people
also put milk in kehwa (half
milk + half kehwa). This
chai is also known as
Mughal Chai” by some
Kashmiri Pandits from the
smaller villages of Kashmir.

I have grown up eating all these fabulous, mouthwatering, and spicy and chapatti dishes and hands down, Kashmiri cuisine continues to be my personal favourite ever tasted.

–Sakshi Raina



80-90% of today’s youth wants to major in Bachelor of Management Studies (BMS) or Bachelor of Mass Media (BMM)

Few weeks before the HSC results, my brother, Varshit Nandu, freaked out. He was not sure whether he would clear his boards or not. This was so obvious because he did not put in many efforts for this examination. Observing his actions daily, everyone in the family freaked out too. Few weeks later, the most awaited day arrived. It was the result day. Everybody in the house was anxious. My brother checked his result on internet and he just couldn’t stop smiling. He scored 83%. It was unexpected. I almost checked his result thrice to confirm the name that was printed on the result was Mr. Varshit Nandu or not. Yes, he had passed with flying colours.

Now it was the time for us to visit different colleges and collect admission forms for the Degree College. My brother wanted to major in Bachelor of Management Studies (BMS).  For two consecutive days, my brother and I visited different colleges to collect the admission forms. While we were waiting in the queue, I asked few random boys and girls  regarding their percentage and what major are they going to pursue. From the answers that I received, I observed that 80-90% of the boys and girls  wanted to major in Bachelor of Management Studies (BMS) or Bachelor of Mass Media (BMM) and not get into a science stream including the ones who scored 90% and above.

I asked one of them the reason behind them for selecting  Bachelor of Management Studies (BMS) or Bachelor in Mass Media (BMM). One of the boy replied, “I want to pursue BMS. I want to earn fast money and you know what – all hot girls are in BMS . Why should I waste my young hood?” One of his friends, told him to shut up and not share his thought regarding hot girls so openly. I was surprised to know how today’s youth thinks and on what basis do they select a major.

In addition, another boy said, “I secured 54% and I want to pursue BMM.” In return, I said, “Do you think you will be able to secure a seat in this college?” He replied, “Hell Yeah! I will get into college because I have applied only in top 3 colleges of South Mumbai. Even if I don’t get on merit basis, I will make my father pay donation for one of these 3 colleges but one thing is for sure that I’m going to pursue BMM only. If my parents disagree, I will quit my studies.” A minute later, his cell phone rang. He received a call from his mother.  He said, “Mom, I have applied for BMM only. I am not applying for any science and commerce courses. I don’t care what you want me to do.” He hanged the call.  This was the second shock of the day for me. He didn’t respect his mother who was concerned for his future.

Soon we collected the admission form, filled in the details, submitted the form and left to visit other colleges. Some colleges had the facility of online forms. Filling the forms online and submitting them online saved a lot of time of us and it saved the usage of paper too. After visiting South Mumbai colleges, we returned home.

The next day, we visited the colleges located in Suburbs. I asked the same question (mentioned above) to the boys and girls out there. One of the girl replied, “Who wants study for 10 years in this age. Medicine, Engineering and all other science courses are too long. By the time, I earn a Master’s degree, I will turn old. What about my life? I shall not waste it. Therefore, I decided to major in these non-aided courses. I have filled forms for both BMS and BMM. I’m sure I will get into one of these streams.” I smiled at her and she left.

After observing the above pattern, I come to the conclusion that today’s youth are more interested in short courses (2-3 years courses) than longer courses (Medicine, Law, Engineering and so on). Everyone you see these days, talks about this un-aided courses and how it will  help them to make fast money. Gone are the days, when one would struggle so hard to achieve what they wanted. Today’s generation wants more fun and less work.

Ms. Aarti Nandu, a psychologist said, “Today’s youth wants to make fast money and live their lives lavishly. Every day, several young boys and girls visit my office and  I understand why they say ‘It is generation gap.’ It is not their fault only. When a person has both money and power, it drives them crazy. Usually, the boys and girls who visit my office belong from a well to do family and they are the ones who are spoiled (brats).” In addition, she said, “The middle class family thinks of making more and more money. Their children work hard and get into science streams so that they can earn a huge amount whereas the rich brats only want to enjoy their life. It is sad to know that the future of our country lies in the hands of such youths.”

Ruchi Nandu- TYBMM

Mumbai celebrates Navroz

The Agyaris and Atash Behram temples in the city buzzed with activity on the eve of Navroz or Parsi New Year, on Saturday, as hundreds of men, women and children belonging to the Parsi Community queued up to worship the holy fire. With two-thirds of India’s Parsi population living in Mumbai, the celebrations in the city were quite palpable.

The week before the Navroz is marked by a period called Mukhthad and Gatha.  The Mukhthad is a period of mourning for the community as it cherishes the memories of both joy and pain that the previous year bestowed upon it, while readying itself for a new year that would mark a new beginning.

“It is believed that during Mukhthad, our ancestors and those loved ones who have passed over to the other side, come back on earth to feast with us. We believe that it is they who grant us this New Year”, says Tushna Mistry, a final year student of Sophia College. During this period the fire temples are cleaned and decorated by those who maintain the premises.  Devotees throng the Agyaris to pay their respects to the departed. “I lost my aunt this year. So we went to Banajee  Atash Behram at Churney Road to pay her our respects. Usually, one leaves a silver vase with fresh flowers on the many marble top tables that the temples provide. One may also leave food and fruits for the souls. It signifies that we invite them to the feast”, adds Tushna.

The Mukhthad is followed by Gatha in which one does not cut nails or hair. This period is considered sacred and no part of the body no matter however miniscule must be shed. The day before the New Year is called ‘Pateti’. Pateti ends the period of mourning and the Parsis wish each other ‘Pateti Mubarakh,’ praying for good luck and a beautiful year ahead. The next day is what every Parsi awaits excitedly. It is a day of celebrating togetherness.

“Our Navroz begins at six in the morning unlike the midnight hour of December 31st that you guys celebrate every year’, says a smiling Mrs Anahita Mistry, a home maker. “We take a head bath early in the morning. Little children are bathed in milk and rose petals. New clothes are worn especially the Sadra and the Kasti. Sadra is a thin vest like silk shirt that is worn inside. Kasti is the holy thread that men wear. Much like the ones that Brahmins in the Hindu community don. The women in the house decorate the doors with garlands of flowers and glass beads called the ‘Toran’,” she adds.

The members of the Parsi community then visit the Agyaris and pay their respects to the fire. “Our God is the Fire. We call our God ‘Ahura Mazda’. Just like the Muslims, we do not have a picture of our God. But we worship our Prophet Zarathrushtra. On occasions such as these, the Agyaris are lit with lamps and decorated with flowers. You will not find a single artificial decorative in the entire temple”, says Mr. Kirsy Mistra, a resident of Mumbai.

The celebration immediately begins after the prayers. Members of families gather and have ‘Jashan’. “We Parsis love food. It is mainly the coming together of families and having toothsome delicacies that holds real significance on the New Year. Our breakfast consists of Rava or Sev cooked with sugar. The lunch is called Dhansak  in which we have Mutton Biryani, Mutton and chicken Dal and Kebabs”, says Pakshad Mistry, a school student.  “There are Parsi-Gujarati plays called Nataks that take place on New Year. Mostly belonging to the comedy genre, it is fun to watch them too”, he adds.

The Parsis are an adorable bunch of people. To celebrate the New Year with them teaches one a lot about their culture and traditions.

– Neelkamal Mishra

TYBMM Journalism

Sophia College for Women

Prithvi Theatre: Mumbai’s friendliest corner

You haven’t had your complete ‘Mumbai experience’ if you haven’t visited Prithvi Theatre. Located in the suburb of Juhu, Prithvi Theatre is probably Mumbai’s friendliest corner.

The theatre is a small one, with a limited capacity. It’s probably this, that makes the theatre so special. Because of the limitation of space, the audiences feel a part of every performance that takes place at Prithvi. ‘This works both in favor of the audience and the performers,’ says Lalit Sathe, the manager of Prithvi Theatre. ‘The performers don’t need to stress their voices. The audiences are right there! Even the light and sound technicians have it easy. They have spacious, well equipped rooms that overlook the entire stage so that they can carry on with their work without goofing up. And for the audiences, from any corner of the theatre, irrespective of which seat they are sitting on, they can see the performers’ expressions and their body language very well.’

The Prithvi Stage

Also for the actors who put up a show, the Prithvi stage is a sacred one. It is a stage where the best of the theatre world have performed. These include Naseeruddin Shah, Benjamin Gilani, Om Puri, Alyque Padamsee, Satyadev Dubey, Rajit Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Anupam Kher and Makrand Deshpande among many others. ‘Prithvi spoils you rotten! Putting up a show here is just another experience. Prithvi is like a family. The technicians, the café walas, the management, the co-stars and theatre; all are like this little happy family. It is an awesome platform for any actor to work there,’ Deeksha Sonalkar, a theatre actor, said to me over chai at Prithvi.

‘We respect the arts here. It’s not about the money. The rent we charge is way lesser than many other theatres do. Also, our ticket rates are extremely reasonable. In fact, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays our ticket rates are just 125 rupees. And mind you, we have some of our best shows on these days. The rates aren’t really high for the rest of the week as well. We usually don’t cross 300 rupees,’ says Lalit.

Apart from theatre, Prithvi provides a platform to promote cinema, poetry, music and literature. Prithvi is partners with Alliance Francaise, Caferati, Thespo, PEN, Vikalp, Chai & Why and Mehfil. These partners conduct workshops, put up shows, hold science discussions, book and poetry readings, screen movies and conduct an open-mic at Prithvi among many other activities.

Paperback@Prithvi is Prithvi’s book shop. The speciality of this book shop is that they have a collection of rare books at extremely cheap prices. The book shop apart from novels has an excellent collection of coffee table books on photography, interiors, fashion, food and travel. The book shop allows people to pick a book and sit reading it right inside that little, cozy shop.

Prithvi by the night

The café is probably the prettiest part of Prithvi. An open air café that is surrounded by beautiful trees and decorated aesthetically with soft lights, Prithvi Café serves the best chai in the whole world! Go there and try it if you don’t trust me. Prithvi Café’s specialties also include Suleimani chai (black tea flavored with mint leaves and a wedge of lemon), iced tea, Irish coffee and the chutney cheese sandwich. Mornings and afternoons at the café are the best time to sit with a good book and glass of iced tea. In the evenings however, the café is crowded with people who come to the theatre to watch a play.

The best way to spend an afternoon at Prithvi

Evenings at the café are also times when someone at one of the tables pulls out a guitar and starts playing it for the rest of the café. An old friend of the café, who is known as Guruji fondly, sits under one of the trees and plays his flute on some days. There is nothing more beautiful that sipping on chai and listening to Guruji play his flute on these evenings.

The entire Prithvi space; be it the café, the theatre, the book shop or Prithvi House (opposite the theatre) is a space where you can just make yourself comfortable. The Prithvi Space doesn’t have a gate. It is open for one and all. Everyone is welcomed, valued and loved equally here.

If you’re alone here, the cats will entertain you. The café area has a couple of cats running around the place at all times. These cats instantly become friends with you if you are ready to share your food with them.

Guruji making magic with his flute

Prithvi’s open air cafe

Making friends is not difficult at Prithvi. The best time to make friends in during the summers. The café tables have Ludo and Snakes n Ladders’ boards painted on them. This is the time of the year when absolute strangers sit together to play a game of Ludo. Trust me; I am saying this out of experience, playing Ludo at Prithvi is an addiction. Every day, the same faces turn up to bond over a game of Ludo, and become best of friends by the end of summer.

Prithvi Theatre was founded by Shashi Kapoor and Jennifer Kendal in 1978. It was founded at a time when theatre in Bombay was dominated by English Theatre in South Mumbai and Marathi Theatre in Dadar. Prithvi gave Hindi theatre a platform in the suburbs of Mumbai at extremely affordable rates. Though founded by Shashi Kapoor and Jennifer Kendal, their daughter Sanjna Kapoor made Prithvi what it is today. She, with time, became the face of the theatre. Her extremely friendly smile and approachable nature helped spread warmth in the space.

Now, even though the management of the theatre has shifted from Sanjna to her brother Kunal Kapoor, the space continues to have the same kind of warmth. With the change in management, Prithvi has in fact, become friendlier to senior citizens and handicaps. The theatre now reserves special seats for them so that they can enjoy their play comfortably.

Prithvi is always bustling with energy and activity. It is a space that leaves its charm on you. It is a space that loves you back.


Picture courtesy:×454.jpg&w=681&h=454&ei=fuE9UPHSGM6uiQeV24HgAw&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=422&vpy=179&dur=2443&hovh=183&hovw=275&tx=175&ty=66&sig=108580751904410423133&page=1&tbnh=111&tbnw=151&start=0&ndsp=22&ved=1t:429,r:2,s:0,i:106,r:0,s:142,i:199,r:4,s:50,i:272


-Shruti Shenoy

Mumbai Street Food

When Mumbaikars talk about fast food they mean pav bhaji and bhel puri, not rolls and burgers. It is the best part of Mumbai. The city has a tremendous appetite for snacks, and street vendors know how to cater to this hunger. The best place to try the city’s age old fast food is Khau Galli. a small lane off Zaveri Bazaar packed with interesting food stalls. In the menu of street food, vada pav, bhelpuri, pav bhaji and pani puri are the favourites of mumbaikars.

I’ll start  with vada pav . This was actually served as a teatime snack. Interestingly the dish has transformed into an iconic street food item. It is actually the bread bun stuffed with a nice fat oily batata wada. The batata wada is sprinkled with garlic –chilli powder and additional green and tamarind chutni is also offered along with it. Not all vada pav joints are good, but a few of them like Anand Vada Pav, M M Mithaiwala, are famous. The cutting chai is a great accompaniment to the vada pav and is  available at almost every small eatery or joint. The marine drive is famous for its bhelpuri. As one bites into the crisp papdi, there’s a burst of flavours like sweet, sour, tangy and hot! Some bhelpuri sellers even come and sell it inside the buildings on marine drive. It’s simply lovely to eat it with hands and making them messy. Whether it’s monsoon on any other season mumbaikars don’t care. They just have to dig into their bhelpuri once a week. The dish cost just Rs 15. Pav bhaji is Mumbai’s own invention and an absolute rage. The dish is basically made on a griddle in front of us and one of the best pav bhaji i had was at juhu chowpatty beach. It was lip smacking. Coming to panipuri, there are thousands and thousands of panipuri stalls across the city. So the mumbaikars are always assured of fulfilling their chat cravings.


In Mumbai, the city of high spirits and dreams, eating out sometimes becomes more of a necessity than choice. This cosmopolitan city has plenty to offer to localities and travellers. It has amazing Chinese, Punjabi, Guajarati and Italian food joints. The starters at china garden, kemps corner are crisp and lovely. The Punjabi food at Crystal a marine drive, joint is amazing and affordable. It is a very a student friendly joint. Even after having a platter of Nan, paneer bhurji, ma ki dal, jeera rice and fruit cream, one will come out paying less than two hundred bucks.

The upbeat theme and wall pictures at Cafe  Mondegar, Colaba  contribute to the fun filled atmosphere. I went there with a friend last week.  While he enjoyed his Heineken beer, I enjoyed a fabulous fried egg. Taj Trattoria, has the most amazing cheesy pastas and Italian expresso.  Cafe basilico at Colaba, another Italian restaurant has amazing breads and dips. After staying in Mumbai for two years I can definitely say that Mumbai has something to offer to every food lover.

Reputation more important than Lives?


I have always thought of an individual’s life to be of greater importance than reputation. But is that everyone else’s thinking as well?

In the year 2002, a friend of mine, was coming back home from a funeral when a car rammed into her car. The impact of the accident was so great that her cousin brother was thrown out from the back window onto the road and died on the spot, while the four other family members were critically injured. The mother of the boy died eventually of a heart attack, after learning about the death of her son. The man responsible for the accident did not want this issue to come into light and offered her father Rs. 25 Lakh to keep his mouth shut and close the case. The devastated man replied, “I will take the money on one condition, bring back my nephew and sister-in-law.” He decided to fight for justice, but unfortunately all the evidence had been wiped away. Medical reports went missing, reports against the accused disappeared. Since there was no evidence and many others chose to remain tight lipped about it. The case is still in court with no outcome, yet! Justice Delayed! Reason? The man was the grandson of a famous politician and he had to keep up with the reputation that his family had. He couldn’t be called a culprit. Hence all the evidences against him were taken care of.

The girl’s father was not someone who did not know how to go about it, how to get justice. He had done it before. He was a lawyer. He fought for other people and still he could not get justice for himself, for his family members who lost their lives due to a rich-reckless driver, who had power to back him.

This is just one incident, that I am aware of, there may be so many others happening every now and then. Incidents where lives are not given importance and weighed with money. It is like putting a person’s life on the same platter as business. Souls sold for money. With incidents like these coming up, it makes me wonder whether I have thought of it in a reasonable way. In India, many families kill a girl child, because she is a girl. The family’s reputation is considered to fall down for this reason, hence the murder. Young boys are killed. Why? Because he fell in love and chose not to marry a girl of his family’s choice. This may tarnish the reputation of the family. A valid question that people should ask is, ‘Is Reputation of that great importance and so essential in a person’s life or for a family that an individual’s life is of no importance at all?’

Alice Peter,

TYBMM Journalism,

Sophia College for Women, Mumbai

photo courtesy:,r:3,s:0,i:79&tx=109&ty=33

Beauty and the Dream – On Chandigarh and Mumbai

Chandigarh – The City Beautiful

Mumbai – The City of Dreams

I grew up a confused mix breed, with little to no understanding of my roots. It stemmed from my being told that I was born in Chandigarh and raised in Mumbai. The latter city had welcomed me, a month old infant, a few weeks after the 1993 riots left a riotous tatter in its wake.

Mumbai built itself in larger strides and I grew with it, taking smaller ones of my own. But Chandigarh remained unchanged. Its tranquil stagnancy was a refreshing change from Mumbai’s relentless dynamism. My academic life rumbled on in inertial drudgery in the thriving metropolis, while my family life was relegated to the occasional snatches of rest in an idyllic Union Territory.

To term it as a cultural shock would be too extreme. But when I did alternate between two very different worlds (in every sense), I could not help but feel simultaneous attachment and detachment from my surroundings. India’s first pre-planned city (most independence) is a far cry from Mumbai’s hectic bustle. It is an antithetical concept, a slow-motion button to my city’s perennial fast forward. The filth and squalor of Maximum City’s slums is an unimaginable visual in my hometown.

Despite being a thumbnail to Mumbai’s arm, Chandigarh has vast stretches of lush green playgrounds and the patch of fresh flowers lining the rows of most bungalows in the neighbourhood. Mercifully, it does not yet reek of impending urbanisation. A friend did say that there were plans being drawn up for a Chandigarh metro system, though why a city with an area of 114 square kilometre (I am almost certain that it is much less than that) would need one baffles me.

More so, because I cannot imagine it. Changes in an unchanging city. It is unheard of, in my books. Unseen too. It may not comprise of a complex network of transport stringing the city together. It may still be relying on man power (I refer to the delightful cycle rickshaw rides, even if it draws the ire of a human rights official). But I do enjoy comparing Mumbai’s narrowed, broken roads with Chandigarh’s broad, concrete motorways. There are smaller pathways which stem away from the main road, meant for two wheelers and cycle rickshaws. I believe that they have been there since architect Le Corbusier first conceived of it in his plan. It is a blessing in disguise. Chandigarh drivers are not known to be particularly restrained in expressing their right of way.

You could get all the information you want from the Wikipedia page on the city. All the encyclopaedic information on rare migratory birds from Siberia and Japan passing through Chandigarh may not inspire much enthusiasm, except among the most nature enthusiasts. Nor would details of its vegetation or official language for the average tourist who sees Chandigarh as a connecting point to the hill stations of Himachal Pradesh.

The city may not have much to offer in terms of a pulsating nightlife, its somnolence in keeping with the adage that says, “Chandigarh is the city of the tired, fired and the retired”. I am surprised that a walk along the rippling expanse of the Sukhna Lake does not find much favour among the tourists. They prefer to paddle about in Swan boats, without half the grace of the avian species that glide past them. Or take pictures of the setting sun as it descends into their palm.

The Rock Garden is a tourist favourite, though I wonder how many stay for the cultural events on the venue. I remember watching the enactment of a Punjabi fable called the ‘Naag Mandal’, which remains the most memorable experience I have had with my family at the place.  The Nik Baker’s in the Sector-35 market and Oscar’s Hollywood Diner in Sector-10 remain my favourite haunts.  There are eating joints and some of the most stylish boutiques at every corner. The sartorial sense of Chandigarh (and this I admit with grudging acknowledgement ) is incredibly tasteful. They know their Patiala salwars from their chudidaars, as yet uncorrupted by the harem pants trend that has gripped the city.

Always, and I cannot say this enough; always try to wrangle your way into a Sikh wedding. Every marriage palace is booked for the season for there is no dearth of celebrations in Chandigarh. Or a considerable festive Punjab exodus that converges in the city.

There is a lot to soak up in this Union Territory. The ambience, the culture, the dialect. I would be a kill-joy if I gave away all of the fun of roaming the city. It is a joy that you must discover for yourself. If you are not a person of leisure, you could still stay for two days.  Go forth. If you are lucky, you will find me scouting for road-side trinkets in Sector-17.


The Road Not Taken.

Kherwadi is one of the many areas in Bandra east where women can be found limiting themselves to doing domestic chores. They sweep houses, run family kirana stores, cook food and look after their kids while male counterparts are the bread-winners.

Amidst this setup lies Kherwadi Social Welfare Association where women can be found to outnumber men and are more proactive participants of the lot. And so was the case in the session highlighting entrepreneurship benefits.

Participants in the session

Driven by the initiative to become young entrepreneurs, women assembled at Balwadi in Kherwadi Social Welfare Association to become independent and not limit themselves only to households. Some were housewives, others students, but all driven by one motive-to become successful. And I Create India mentored them.

This is where it all begins.

I Create India is a not for profit, non-governmental organisation determined to develop entrepreneurship endeavours at grassroots level by holding seminars on entrepreneurial programmes for underprivileged population.

“Unemployment is one of the root causes of poverty in India. With this initiative we want to create employers not employees who are underpaid or disguisedly unemployed.” said Mr. B.R. Venkatesh, director of I Create India.

This interactive session on entrepreneurship was meant for young minds to think and make use of myriad opportunities that come their way.  And chocolates played a major role in make the audience. Every response deserved a Dairymilk. Thus, began the interaction.

Mr. Venkatesh began with emphasising the importance of an idea in any business venture. “It is necessary for every entrepreneur to think of an idea one wants to execute.” he said. And then followed the chain of homework, opportunity, planning and execution to make a business venture successful, which can be well abbreviated to I HOPE. Yes, many of the young minds present there hope to start a venture of their own.

While many took down copious notes, others listened to him intently as not all of them had completed their schooling. Yet they were all determined to cut through the rampant economic inequality existing in our society.

Jyoti interacting with Mr. Venkatesh

Jyoti Purshottam was one of the active participants in the programme who had dropped out of school after passing tenth standard. “I am doing a vocational training course in tailoring and want to start a venture of my own. I want people to know my boutique and earn well to support my family.” she said.

She wasn’t the only one. Rajkumari, who never got to study beyond seventh standard, was very keen to start her own beauty parlour and support her ill mother.

Many of the participants have now enrolled for the five-day entrepreneurial programme which begins September 10 and will give all an insight into entrepreneurship and its benefits. Participants will also chalk out their project proposals and present it in public.

“We have previously received an overwhelming response. Many participants have now begun their own start-ups and earn a decent sum of money. More than what their recruiters would have paid them” says ma’am Tejasvini Venkatesh.

Interestingly, on the last day of this workshop is when I Create India’s relationship with its proactive participants begins, when the organisation aims to help active participants to initiate their venture. Support extended is in all spheres.

And previous success stories still keep their spirit alive, afresh, anew. For a better tomorrow of the grassroots.

-Niharika Pandit

TYBMM Journalism

Development with Dignity

Is development sustainable? Or does it lead to increased economic, social and political disparity? Niharika Pandit questions the idea of Development.

In August 2010, Vedanta Aluminia was denied permission to set up a $1.7-billion plan to mine bauxite in the Niyamgiri Hills of Orissa. Reasons were several.

Tribes from Kalahandi opposing Vedanta Aluminium project in front of Orissa Assembly.

Niyamgiri Hills in Kalahandi district of Orissa are inhabited by Dongoria, Jharnia and Kutia tribes who participated in a public hearing on April 9, 2012 and opposed the mining of bauxite from their sacred hill. A report in April 12 issue of Tehelka highlighted “Tribals said that they have a birthright on the Hills and they won’t allow mining to their sacred mountain whatever the repercussion may be.”

And soon enough, Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh turned down Vedanta’s proposal under non-compliance with Forest Right’s Act. He further denied being moved by the sentiments of the locals and that the decision was utterly based on facts.

Protest against Vedanta

In the month of June, several newsletters were issued by Vedanta for local residents about its policies for redevelopment of the local zones where their mining plant would be established. Despite Vedanta’s numerous efforts, some of them boasting about its plans of expansion in field of education, health and other perks to local residents, people did not fall prey to it. Their constant refusal and not succumbing to the aggressive advertising campaign of Vedanta in month of April wasn’t the reason but a major contribution to the denial of permission. The government had turned down their proposal as this development wasn’t sustainable; it also violated Environmental Protection Act.

One may now very validly ask a question, ‘If a certain area is mineral-rich, is it not meant to be extracted?’ Fair enough. A mineral-rich area, often classified as the Special Economic Zone (SEZs) is meant to be extracted as long as the displaced from that land are given adequate rehabilitation. Not on paper, in real.

Setting up plants, mining ores in remote villages fills up the conglomerates’ coffers and renders the poor, poorest. The ever-widening vacuum of disparity once again becomes visibly important when the locals’ land is taken away in lieu of small money with no other land rehabilitation measures.

Poor become poorer as they now have no land, no deposits, and no job security. Even the health and educational prospects claimed by the company get buried deep under tender notices and signed deals. Even worse if the family’s head count is appalling or the earning member, an alcoholic.

This does not imply that development should be curbed; development is primal to a country’s economy. But so are its people. So is the disparity of wealth and impoverished citizens. Poverty, unemployment, hunger, over population still remain to be major concerns for the country. More grave in nature, requiring immediate action.

Now consider another case unlike Vedanta. In May 2012, JSW Steel completed paperwork with the West Bengal government for land transfer. This steel plant in Salboni, West Bengal has not only bought land from locals but also given them jobs and shareholding in the company, minimising disparity and amplifying security for every family. So, even if the family is left with no money, they have shareholding and an earning member has a job which will suffice the family.

Thus, Development is indeed important but so are people who belong to the country. Who choose their representatives with the belief that one day, disparity will be dissolved. Stifled voices of displaced farmers will be heard. And their children will not die of malnourishment.  But development should not be at the cost of others. It must be a fair play providing benefits, justice and equity to all. Development must be sustainable in nature involving participation from the grassroots level.

Recently, Mani Shankar Iyyar, a parliamentarian in a panel discussion very rightly articulated “Development is important so is justice and inequality. But development with dignity is the solution to all problems.”

Photo courtesy:



Mujhko Pehchan Lo Main Huin King of Bollywood

By Niyati Agrawal

A young boy, who came to Mumbai from Delhi in search of his girlfriend stood at Marine Drive and said “One day I will rule this city.”

This boy like any other had a dream of becoming a famous actor one day. He started his acting career by playing a member of vanarsena in a Ramleela staged in Delhi. He then joined Theatre Action Group in Delhi under Barry John. After a lot of struggle, missing out on roles to other members of the theatre group, playing supporting roles, death of his parents and a stint on Television with serials like Circus and Fauji, a Bollywood superstar arrived.

He made his grand entrance singing “Koi na koi chahiye pyaar karne wala” on a motorbike. Little did he know then that “koi na koinahiHar Koipyaar karega uss se. After the audience went “Deewana” over him, he became “Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman” and even impressed “Maya Memsaab.”

He then appeared on screen as a negative character; something very uncommon for an actor who wanted to make it big. The “Baazigar” had created a “Darr” amongst audience. Ironically the psychotic lover loaded with blood and murders to his credit was loved by the audience. He even received Filmfare nomination Best Actor for Baazigar and Best Actor in Negative Role for Darr in the same year. These two movies also gave him his first patent dialogues: “I love you kkkkKiran “ and “Kuch jeetne ke liye kuch haarna padta hai aur haar kar jeetne waale ko Baazigar kehta hai.

After the Ajay Sharma and Rahul Mehra had walked off from the theatres, he came back as leather jacket wearing – mandolin holding – singing in mustard fields: Raj Malhotra; who still hasn’t walked out off the theatres and continues to entertain audience at Maratha Mandir even after 17 years earning the title of longest running movie ever in history. “Dilwaale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge” he’d claimed in the movie and surely he did. With this movie he established himself as a romantic hero.

His on- screen romance did not end there. He acted as “Naam toh suna hoga” – Rahul, the Pardes – guitar playing Arjun, ever joyful “1, 2, 3 eeeee” – Aman and very smart Rehaan Khan. All of this earned him the title of King of Romance. He was as Aditya Chopra puts it, “every girl’s fantasy lover, every sister’s brother and every mother’s son.”

Unho ne humeKabhi Khushi Kabhi Gumdiya, jeena muskurana seekhaya kyunki kya pataKal Ho Na Ho”, aur ek baar jite hain, ek baar marte hain, shaadi bhi ek baar hoti hai, aur pyar….ek hi baar hota hai bhi bataya.

2006 he told the world ki “11 mulko ki police mera intezaar kar rahi hai”. He was back as the actor in a negative role with the remake of Amitabh Bachchan movie Don. I say actor in a negative role and not villain because bina hero ke villain kaha hota hai? Aur jab yeh movie mein hote hai toh koi aur hero kya karega?

The audience accepted him again with a negative role. He was then praised as a strict mentor and coach with the “Saatar Minute” speech of “Chak De! India.”

His kingdom was not restricted by Bollywood territory. He is a full – fledged entertainer; be it award functions or as a host or even owning an IPL cricket team.

You can be afraid of him as Baazigar or love him for being Raj. You can enjoy his performances or thrash him for owning a team which was an underachiever until recently. You can call him names, narcissistic, bisexual or adore him for being the family man that he is. You can look up to him for his personality or be critical about his acting skills. You cannot ignore him.

The prophecy a young Delhi boy made decades ago on Marine Drive came true.

The young boy (as you might have already guessed) was then known by a few people as Shah Rukh and now by the world as THE Shah Rukh Khan or King Khan.

Haters say what you want but I will remain Shah Rukh Khan’s fan though and through.