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  • 10/28/17--05:21: Clouds adorn this hamlet
  • I have a fascination for mountains. I find it extremely hard to resist the call of mountains. So, when a friend suggested we visit Meghma, a sleepy village in Darjeeling district, I just packed my bags and landed in Darjeeling.

    It was October and the nip in the air was unmistakable. Early next morning, we began our journey towards Meghma, located along the popular trekking destination of Sandakphu. We hired a vehicle up to Maneybhanjan, which is the starting point for trekkers to Sandakphu in the Singalila range. The place was teeming with trekkers, and it was exciting to watch their enthusiasm to undertake the arduous trek.

    Though Meghma is only 12 km away from Maneybhanjan, not all vehicles are sturdy enough to make the journey. Result: we had to give up our comfortable vehicle for a tougher Land Rover. The ride up to Meghma was not bumpy. The view was simply out of the world.

    The approach

    And the fact that the town lies on the border of India and Nepal added to the allure of the place. Along the way, we stopped at various points to admire the views. Driving past a small hillock, the road descended to a valley. "Meghma," announced our driver. But, all that we could see was a misty veil of clouds. No wonder the place is called Meghma, the 'mother of clouds', we thought. As we approached the village, we could see a cluster of houses, huts and a red monastery. The place looked like a picture postcard. Clean, pollution-free, and above all, surrounded by snow-capped mountains. At 2,900 m above sea level, Meghma is mainly inhabited by friendly and ever-smiling Nepalis.

    Our first visit in Meghma was to the restaurant in the centre of the hamlet. Sipping on piping-hot tea, we interacted with a few trekkers who were enjoying a hot lunch of curry and rice. They were surprised to learn that our visit to Meghma was just to enjoy the beauty of the place, and not as a transit point to any other trekking destination.

    We proceeded towards our cottage in Meghma, a basic wood-finished hut. The place was cosy and anything but ordinary. Overwhelmed by our experiences, we decided to spend the rest of the day at the cottage. Evening being cold, we ended up sitting inside the kitchen, warming ourselves near the earthen oven, listening to stories about the place related by the friendly owner of the cottage.

    In a place like this, every other person you meet becomes a friend. Very soon, a few villagers walked in for a cup of tea and we were all exchanging stories till late evening. They told us how agriculture was their main source of income, and how they were experts at making cheese and butter, too. We didn't remember how many cups of tea and how many bowls of scrambled eggs we downed.

    Early next morning, all that we did was to have a cup of tea and toast, and watch the majestic mountains around. It was fascinating to see white stone-markers all around the place reading either Bharat or Nepal. Going around the tiny place, we also came across several men in uniforms who were manning the India-Nepal border. Eager to talk, they made it known to us that we were welcome at the place. They shared their stories and pictures of their families. Allowed to go home only twice a year, they told us they missed their families but took pride in their work. Two of them were even kind enough to accompany us to Tonglu, a hamlet just a two-km walk away.

    Imagine the view

    Along the walk, with the sun playing peekaboo with the clouds, we spotted several shepherds with their flock, and yaks lazing around. We walked in silence, enjoying the view of the snow-capped mountains around. One of the border security guards accompanying us pointed at the Kanchenjunga mountain standing as the tallest among the snow peaks.

    Back at Meghma, it was another evening of peace at the cottage over endless cups of tea, aloobhajjis and bowls of hot noodles. The very thought of leaving Meghma the next afternoon sunk us into depression, but we cheered ourselves up thinking of our visit to the monastery the next morning. The monastery, known as Hoshel Dechenling Gompa, built in the early 1950s by one Pasang Tamang, belongs to the Nyingmapa sect of Buddhism, we were told. Housing 108 Buddhist idols, this monastery is a must-visit owing to the beauty of its idols and its quiet ambience.

    It was time for us to leave, but we had loads of interesting memories of the place that would keep us company in the days to come.
    Getting there


    By air Nearest airport is Bagdogra, 85 km from Darjeeling.

    By rail Nearest railheads are at New Jalpaiguri, 85 km away, and Siliguri, 75 km away from Darjeeling.

    By road There are several direct buses from New Jalpaiguri and Siliguri to Maneybhanjan, from where vehicles can be hired.

    Carry

    Warm clothes & a comfortable pair of shoes. A raincoat is a must.

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  • 10/28/17--05:30: Yours reluctantly
  • Her editor, Daniel Halpern, really wanted her to write one, but knew she would never agree to it. So he urged her to write a nonfiction book about her creative process — a collection of essays, perhaps, or a compilation of emails she'd written to him.

    Reluctantly, she agreed. They made a pact requiring Tan to send him a minimum of 15 pages a week. The accelerated pace unlocked something, and soon, she was sending journal entries, deeply personal reflections on her traumatic childhood and harrowing family history, and candid passages about her creative struggles and self-doubt.

    "I wrote this in a fugue state, not realising what I was writing," Tan, 65, said. "It wasn't until I was done that I became a little distressed and thought, 'wait a minute, this is going to be published'?"

    Tan realised she'd unintentionally written a memoir.

    The resulting book, Where the Past Begins, isn't a conventional narrative autobiography. The disjointed chapters feel fragmentary and experimental, more like a collage or a scrapbook than a standard chronological excavation of the past.

    Tan tossed in entries from her journals — she labels shorter ones 'quirks' and longer ones 'interludes' — where she muses on nature, fate, ageing and mortality. There's an excerpt from a ponderous essay she wrote when she was 14, and a drawing of a cat she sketched at age 12. She exhumes two fictional outtakes from discarded novels, including one about a linguistics scholar that she wrote more than 20 years ago.

    Tan, who has published seven novels, also reflects on her writing life, and describes how she cried the day her debut novel, The Joy Luck Club, was published — not out of happiness, but out of dread and fear of criticism.

    Most books come into being through a mysterious alchemy between writer and editor, but Halpern, a published poet and the publisher at Ecco, has helped to shape the careers of novelists like Joyce Carol Oates, Richard Ford, Robert Stone, T C Boyle and Jorie Graham. But he's never been so visible in one of his writers' books.

    In Tan's memoir, Halpern becomes a central, recurring character. She dedicates "our book" to him. His notes appear as interjections in the introduction. Later in the book, a chapter titled Letters to the Editor consists of dozens of email exchanges between the two. He sends her a poem he wrote. She tells him about attending a screening of a Woody Allen movie. In most of their exchanges, Halpern plays the role of muse and cheerleader as Tan oscillates between earnest reflection on her work and crushing self-doubt. "I keep asking myself how the hell I wrote such a long and bloated book," she writes about her last novel in one message to him.

    In another, after seeking Halpern's opinion on a scene, she writes: "Never mind. I deleted it. It was bad."

    Halpern and Tan have a warm, teasing relationship, which is on display in their email messages and even more evident in person. They got together two months ago in Manhattan, where Tan and her husband of 43 years, Louis DeMattei, a retired tax attorney, have a loft in Soho. Over a bottle of wine at a restaurant on Park Avenue South, they discussed how the memoir came together.

    They disagreed about whether the original book was supposed to be a book of essays or a collection of their emails to one another, but they concurred on other points.

    "You never asked for a memoir," Tan said.

    "I knew you would never do it," Halpern replied. "If you had thought that it was going to be a memoir, you never would have written it."

    "The test is going to be the book," he later continued. "Do you think that you will ultimately regret writing this book?"

    "You know, it's not regret," Tan said. "My reluctance is always casting something out there that will be in the public and will be subject to public interpretation. I want nothing of that. It's like taking the mask off, taking your clothes off, and having people say, 'Oh my God. It's non-fiction,' and people can make fun of the way you think or say, 'Oh that was trivial'."

    In a way, it's surprising that it took Tan this long to write about herself. Her fiction, which often features Chinese mothers and daughters, is full of family lore and semi-autobiographical material. Her 1989 debut novel, The Joy Luck Club, which has sold nearly six million copies in the United States, is an intergenerational epic about Chinese mothers and daughters. Her second novel, The Kitchen God's Wife, features a Chinese-American girl in California who learns about dark secrets from her mother's past, and is modelled partly on her own family.

    There's no shortage of dramatic material from Tan's past, and she could have easily mined her childhood to write a traditional account of her life. Born in California in 1952 to Chinese immigrants, she grew up in fear of her volatile mother. Tan's late mother, Daisy, was depressed and unstable, and repeatedly threatened suicide. She once tried to throw herself out of the car when the family was driving on the highway. When Tan was 16, her mother brandished a meat cleaver and threatened to kill her.

    When she was 14, Tan's family was struck by a double tragedy: her older brother Peter developed a brain tumour and died at age 16. Then her father, an electrical engineer and Baptist minister, was diagnosed with a brain tumour, and died not long after Peter. Her mother believed the family was cursed.

    Tan also catalogues some of the trials and misfortunes she's faced as an adult: her feeling of "relief and sadness" when she had a miscarriage at 28, and her struggle with chronic Lyme disease, which she contracted in 1999. The disease spread to her brain, causing seizures that sparked bizarre but benign hallucinations, like a Renoir painting or a spinning odometer. When she started taking medication to control the seizures, it made her giddy, and she worried it would make her write maudlin fiction. (The side effects eventually abated).

    Now that the book is published, Tan is feeling apprehensive. She worries about family members who might think she's sullied her grandmother's memory, and is terrified of the critical response. She's accustomed to having her fiction critiqued, but this feels much scarier, and more personal. "There's so much in there that's raw," she said.

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    To stick or twist? The fear of relegation from the Premier League -- and the risk of losing the income that comes with top-flight status -- pushes many club owners towards the classic gambler's dilemma.

    Leicester City's Thai owners decided last week that time was up for Craig Shakespeare and pulled the trigger and on Monday Everton said goodbye to Ronald Koeman.

    Crystal Palace, bottom of the table, fired Dutch manager Frank De Boer after just five games in charge of the London club.

    West Ham United boss Slaven Bilic remains in his position but faces speculation over his future on a daily basis and with Stoke City in 17th place, Mark Hughes will be expecting rumours of his job status to heat up. But does a change of leadership during a season really increase the likelihood of a turnaround in fortunes for a club?

    The evidence is mixed but suggests that while a short-term boost can often occur with change, clubs tend to benefit from managerial stability.

    A detailed study of the football industry by Nottingham University Business School in 2009 concluded: "Some form of 'shock effect' appears to influence the short-term performance of the organisation yet the efficacy of a dismissal strategy for short-term recovery remains poor".

    In other words - a club can get a 'bounce' from a new face at the top but stability tends to bring better results in the longer term. But longer term appears not to feature high on the list of priorities for clubs worried about the potential impact of relegation and the trend in England is towards the kind of high turnover that was once more typical of Italian and Spanish football.

    Last season Palace replaced Alan Pardew with Sam Allardyce and the experienced manager pulled the team away from the relegation zone and ensured survival. Likewise Swansea City replaced American Bob Bradley with Paul Clement and they also retained top-flight status.

    Hull City fired Mike Phelan and brought in Portuguese boss Marco Silva but despite some improved results they ended up going down. Most controversially of all, in February, Leicester City sacked Claudio Ranieri, the Italian who had guided them to their shock title win the previous season.

    The decision was slammed by many pundits as the ultimate lack of loyalty, patience and decency but his replacement, assistant Shakespeare, took them from the drop zone to a final position of 12th in the league.

    Loyalty was shown by Sunderland, who stuck with David Moyes in contrast to previous seasons when changes of management had brought late revivals -- but the Black Cats went down.

    Middlesbrough stuck with Spaniard Aitor Karanka until March and ended up being relegated with his replacement Steve Agnew not providing the necessary "bounce". That boost that a new manager can bring is often put down to a fresh, optimistic message bringing new enthusiasm from players and a different pair of eyes spotting potential that might have been over-looked.

    But the flip-side is that the new manager has to work with a squad he hasn't assembled, wasn't designed for his tactics and which hasn't gone through the pre-season regime that many managers believe is essential for creating the foundation for success.

    Another key aspect that the men in charge at West Ham will be considering is -- can we really bring in someone better? One pundit joked that Koeman's support from Everton fans had been boosted by a media report linking the club with their former manager David Moyes.

    No doubt Bilic would benefit from any suggestion that former West Ham boss Allardyce, unpopular with the club's fans, might return to that club. And while fans dream of a high-profile, out of work manager like Carlo Ancelotti taking over their club, the reality is there are few top quality coaches who are without a club.

    One idea floated last season by former Manchester United captain Gary Neville is to outlaw the sacking of managers during the season, forcing clubs to stand by their decision. After all, in any other business the idea of sacking a senior manager just weeks after giving them millions to invest, would be viewed as madness.

    But football's fear of relegation, combined with the impatience of the modern fans, can drive otherwise intelligent and strategic financiers to the kind of impulsive decisions they would never countenance in their "normal" business.


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  • 10/28/17--07:05: Limping to the finish
  • For a noncontact sport, tennis has long had a high attrition rate. The grind of the international travel and the extended rallies often adds up to trouble.

    But there has never been a season quite like this in modern men's tennis: one where so many leading players have failed to reach the finish line.

    "To me, it doesn't set off a red light; it sets off a yellow light," said Paul Annacone, a former pro who later coached Pete Sampras, Tim Henman and Roger Federer. "Let's see if it continues. I think it's been one of those years, but if it goes into 2018, then I would start to go, 'What is happening? What are we doing? Is it the physicality? The heaviness of the balls? The length of the season?' "

    For now, no major course corrections are in the offing, but there is no doubt that it is not a good look when so much star power is missing from the year's final Masters 1000 event, the Paris Masters, which is set to begin Monday and is supposed to be a mandatory tournament for the men's elite.

    "It's definitely disconcerting; you can't be Pollyanna about it," said Justin Gimelstob, an analyst and member of the ATP Tour's board of directors.

    Seven members of the Top 20 have already ended their seasons, including the three men who loomed largest in 2016: Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka. None of the three has played an official match since Wimbledon.

    Djokovic, who had played in 51 straight Grand Slam tournaments and won 12, has not competed since retiring in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon in early July with chronic elbow pain down, 7-6 (2), 2-0, to Tomas Berdych.

    Berdych was experiencing back pain of his own in that match and made it to October 19 before calling it a season. Nick Kyrgios, never the most durable of young tennis stars, issued a season-ending statement on Twitter later the same day, citing the recurrence of a hip injury.

    "Unless I want this to escalate to an injury that requires surgery, I need to listen to my body and my team," he wrote.

    The inactive list goes on, including Kei Nishikori of Japan, who is out with a right wrist injury, and Milos Raonic, last year's Wimbledon finalist, who ended his injury-filled season this month after retiring in the second round of Tokyo with a calf problem. Raonic's latest misfortune came after making it clear he favoured systemic change, pointing out that none of last year's final Top 5 played in this year's US Open.

    "Maybe it's a testament to some kind of reform being needed for the sake of players' careers, and being able to provide a certain calibre of tennis for spectators," Raonic said in Tokyo. "Give the players that really stand out mandatory events, give them a chance to play everything within a seven-month period so they can really focus on themselves health-wise, but also on improving, because you need that time. We're the only sport, outside of golf maybe, that plays as spread out as we do without any time for rest."

    The counterpoint to this of course is that the same small group — Federer, Rafael Nadal, Djokovic and to a lesser degree Murray and Wawrinka — managed to endure and rule men's tennis for nearly a decade, dominating not only at the Grand Slam tournaments but at the Masters 1000 level. Two of them — Nadal, 31, and Federer, 36 — are back on top this year after ending their own seasons early in 2016, giving everybody else ideas.

    "What these players have been able to do, the consistency and success they've enjoyed at the biggest events on tour over such a sustained period, has been unprecedented," Chris Kermode, executive chairman and president of the ATP , said in an email. "At some point that takes a toll on the body, especially given the physicality of men's professional tennis, and that is evident today."

    It is not just great players in their 30s who are suffering, however. Nishikori is 27, Raonic is 26, Kyrgios is 22.

    "Injury trends and player playing patterns need to be assessed across multiple years," Kermode said. "Our data shows that the number of registered injuries across the whole player group has been reasonably flat in the last three years."

    But the trend has been disquietingly upward among the tour elite. The question is whether the Federer-Nadal template will work for their once and probably future rivals. Djokovic and Wawrinka already have announced their plans to play an exhibition in Abu Dhabi in late December as part of their preparation for the Australian Open in 2018, the year's first Grand Slam tournament.

    Murray, who has had recurring hip problems, has resumed practicing.

    "I think there is a correlation between players seeing what Roger and Rafa did and then coming back and having two dominant years," Gimelstob said. "It's a copycat business, all of it, whether it's basketball, analytics or moneyball in baseball. People see others having success, and they imitate it. I think the trend factor is real here."

    But if the trend for superstar injuries continues in 2018, substantive change, such as revamping the ranking system or reducing playing obligations, will be hard to resist. The ATP already has made concessions to human frailty: slightly shortening the season, reducing finals of Masters 1000 events to best-of-three sets; adding byes in ATP 250 events and granting exemptions from some mandatory playing requirements for veterans who have hit certain benchmarks, including 600 career tour matches.

    The tour has nearly doubled the number of physiotherapists it employs since 2013 and continues to offer an injury prevention screening programme to players. But there may be new demands on top players with the success of last month's new Laver Cup, a team event set to take place over three days every September in non-Olympic years, and with the continued interest in reviving the World Team Cup.

    "I love the saying, you can only put 10 pounds of stuff in a 10-pound bag," said Craig Boynton, coach of the Americans Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson. "What will happen if these events are successful is that they will be put in players' schedules and other things will be knocked out."

    Players, eager to maximise their shining moments in a Darwinian sport, have not always been the best judges of their own limits, however. For now, the yellow light is definitely flashing.

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  • 10/28/17--07:11: Innocents may pay the price
  • The Olympics continue to spin on a wobbly axis, trapped in a vortex of corruption and doping.

    Who should be held responsible for Russia's systematic doping, which operated furtively at the 2014 Winter Games in the Black Sea resort of Sochi and was exposed by the same man who masterminded its shadowy effectiveness?

    Should Russia's Olympic committee be made to pay by a forced absence from the 2018 Winter Games in February in South Korea? Should all Russian athletes be barred from competing there? Some of them? How does one decide?

    And how much blame should the International Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency share? Both have been widely criticised for not spending the necessary effort or money over the years to seriously address the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

    Such inadequacy has brought a corrosive truth: Suspicion of great achievement in Olympic sports is rampant. And the innocent find it almost impossible to prove their innocence.

    These are the sobering questions facing figure skating. With its alluring mix of athleticism and artistry, it is the centerpiece of the Winter Games. But as the sport's Olympic build-up began this weekend on the Grand Prix circuit at Moscow, anticipation was tempered by uncertainty.

    "Olympics without a Russian team would look like a meal without salt and pepper," Alexei Mishin, a Russian coach who has produced three gold medals in men's skating, said this week at the Rostelecom Cup.

    He's right. Russia has the depth to sweep all three medals in women's skating at the 2018 Games. It would also be a favourite in the team skating competition. And Soviet and Russian pairs have won a gold medal at every Olympics but one since 1964.

    But the International Olympic Committee has not yet decided what, if any, punishment should be meted out to Russia for its state-sponsored use of banned substances, which involved as many as 1,000 athletes. Anti-doping agencies from numerous countries, including the United States, have censured the Olympic committee for what they view as a refusal to hold Russia accountable.

    "The IOC has just continued to kick the can down the street, I think, with the hope that it just all goes away," Travis Tygart, chief executive of the US Anti-Doping Agency, said in a telephone interview.

    Denis Oswald, an IOC delegate from Switzerland who is examining the breadth of Russian doping, recently told The Associated Press that he was being prudent, not indifferent. "You can't just say they were in Sochi and they are Russian and they probably were doped," Oswald told the AP.

    Several dozen anti-doping agencies have called on the IOC to bar Russia's Olympic committee from the 2018 Games. They jointly proposed that Russian athletes who could show they have passed rigorous drug testing would be allowed to compete as independent, or neutral, athletes.

    Grigory Rodchenkov, Russia's doping mastermind turned whistleblower, agreed with the anti-doping experts in an article he wrote recently for The New York Times. He also said Russian athletes should be sequestered in South Korea and subjected to stringent testing during the games.

    "Let's also be clear that doped athletes in Russia are, in many ways, victims, too," Rodchenkov wrote. "In the Russian system, they do not have much choice but to cheat, even if some did so enthusiastically."

    In January, Samuel Auxier, president of US Figure Skating, called for Russia to be barred entirely from the 2018 Games. That seems unlikely, given that some Russian athletes were allowed to compete at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The subject is complicated, and the petition for exclusion is not unanimous.



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  • 10/28/17--07:14: Give youth the chance
  • When Netherlands, one of the heavyweight nations in world football renowned for their flair and style, failed to qualify for the Euro 2016, it was considered a rude shock. With world-class talents like Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder, Robin van Persie, Dirk Kuyt, Nigel de Jong and Daley Blind in their ranks, many were left dazed at such a catastrophic occurrence.

    But worse happened for the Oranje earlier this month when they failed to secure their tickets for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The same set of exceptional players failed to deliver as Holland missed out on a second major event. Although they were pitted in a strong group comprising 1998 World Cup winners France and dangerous Sweden — only the top two teams made the automatic cut — it's a still a massive underachievement for a team that was just one win away from being crowned world champions in 2010 and claimed third place in 2014.

    The massive nosedive in their performance has left many fans and pundits scratching their heads. Johan Neeskens, one of the finest players from the country that gave the world Johan Cruyff and Total Football, tried decoding the stunning fall. In Bengaluru as part of the Holland Meets Bangalore event organised at the Jude Felix Academy as a CSR-Sports initiative, the 66-year-old, who played along with Cruyff during the Netherlands' golden period when they mesmerised the world with their eye-catching football, blamed the latest downfall on ageing players' waning mojo.

    "It's normal what's happening with world football nowadays. You participate with some really good players like (Robin) van Persie, (Dirk) Kuyt, (Wesley) Sneijder. They all played at a very high level. You could play together for eight years with these players and they did very well. They entered the final in the South Africa World Cup and did well in Brazil too. But then these players are going to get older and you have to renew them, get in more younger players," said Neeskens, still rail thin and showing glimpses of his skill when he dribbled along with young kids.

    "Of course they (youngsters) are good players but they don't have the quality for an international, strong tournament. We have a very good under-17 side and the under-19 guys are also doing well. But they still don't have the quality to play in the first team and at the highest level. But that can happen also to countries like Spain, France or Germany. Germany are the world champions and have been doing good for the last eight years but before that, they too weren't doing great. This is going to happen to a lot of countries and we are facing that now. But we have to keep working hard with the youth and give them the time to become good players," added Neeskens, who in 2004 was picked as one among the Greatest Living Footballers at the FIFA Awards ceremony. The list was selected by none other than Pele — the greatest.

    Neeskens, who tailed Cruyff to Ajax Amsterdam (1970-74) and Barcelona (1974-79), was instrumental in the rise of the two clubs and Holland. A hard-tackling midfielder who never ran out of gas, Neeskens would pressure the opponents into surrendering the ball. He was blessed with a good vision and was brilliant in set-pieces as well. A major factor in Neeskens attaining such heights was his grooming at Ajax. He lamented young talents leaving Ajax for money at the cost of education.

    "The problem is while we have good players they don't stay long with clubs in Holland. The big clubs like Chelsea, Arsenal or clubs in Spain or Italy take them away when they are 15 or 16 years old. That's not good for Dutch football. But that's also something we have to face and deal with. When I was young, I would prefer to play in the first team of Ajax and play every week instead of spending time on the sidelines at clubs elsewhere.

    "For example, take Davy Klaassen. He was one of the better players in Ajax, played every game every week. He then goes to Everton — not the best team in England — but he's not playing, sitting in the stands. He doesn't play in the first team. When you are a young player, you need to be playing a lot of games. By sitting in the stands, you don't improve one bit.

    "It's better to stay a couple of more years with a club where you are getting chances. You gain experience and mature better. Then maybe you can move to a different club in another country. This problem is because of the managers and player agents. Klaassen is playing in Everton second team and they don't have the same quality as Ajax first team. I would recommend players and their agents to be a little more patient. If you are 25 or 26, you still can play eight years in a foreign country. At 25, you are more experienced, more matured and have a better chance of playing more games."

    Neeskens lamented the obscene amount of money that is splurged on players these days, saying it is ruining football as a whole. The money factor also has pegged back Dutch football, he felt, as the country's clubs can't compete with their rivals in the continent anymore.

    "We can't pay the players the amount of money some clubs in Germany, Italy, France, Spain and England are paying. We have to use players from the academy and if they are good, then the big clubs will come and poach them by giving their fathers a job over there. The fathers then go with the boy to England or Spain. A player in Holland cannot get a big salary. My ideology would be, don't look for the money but game-time. That's what I suggest to youth players in Holland. But we cannot compete with clubs in other parts of Europe who pay so much money for the players. Big players also don't come to Ajax because there's not much money. We cannot compete with the best clubs in Europe anymore, it's impossible."When Netherlands, one of the heavyweight nations in world football renowned for their flair and style, failed to qualify for the Euro 2016, it was considered a rude shock. With world-class talents like Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder, Robin van Persie, Dirk Kuyt, Nigel de Jong and Daley Blind in their ranks, many were left dazed at such a catastrophic occurrence.

    But worse happened for the Oranje earlier this month when they failed to secure their tickets for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The same set of exceptional players failed to deliver as Holland missed out on a second major event. Although they were pitted in a strong group comprising 1998 World Cup winners France and dangerous Sweden — only the top two teams made the automatic cut — it's a still a massive underachievement for a team that was just one win away from being crowned world champions in 2010 and claimed third place in 2014.

    The massive nosedive in their performance has left many fans and pundits scratching their heads. Johan Neeskens, one of the finest players from the country that gave the world Johan Cruyff and Total Football, tried decoding the stunning fall. In Bengaluru as part of the Holland Meets Bangalore event organised at the Jude Felix Academy as a CSR-Sports initiative, the 66-year-old, who played along with Cruyff during the Netherlands' golden period when they mesmerised the world with their eye-catching football, blamed the latest downfall on ageing players' waning mojo.

    "It's normal what's happening with world football nowadays. You participate with some really good players like (Robin) van Persie, (Dirk) Kuyt, (Wesley) Sneijder. They all played at a very high level. You could play together for eight years with these players and they did very well. They entered the final in the South Africa World Cup and did well in Brazil too. But then these players are going to get older and you have to renew them, get in more younger players," said Neeskens, still rail thin and showing glimpses of his skill when he dribbled along with young kids.

    "Of course they (youngsters) are good players but they don't have the quality for an international, strong tournament. We have a very good under-17 side and the under-19 guys are also doing well. But they still don't have the quality to play in the first team and at the highest level. But that can happen also to countries like Spain, France or Germany. Germany are the world champions and have been doing good for the last eight years but before that, they too weren't doing great. This is going to happen to a lot of countries and we are facing that now. But we have to keep working hard with the youth and give them the time to become good players," added Neeskens, who in 2004 was picked as one among the Greatest Living Footballers at the FIFA Awards ceremony. The list was selected by none other than Pele — the greatest.

    Neeskens, who tailed Cruyff to Ajax Amsterdam (1970-74) and Barcelona (1974-79), was instrumental in the rise of the two clubs and Holland. A hard-tackling midfielder who never ran out of gas, Neeskens would pressure the opponents into surrendering the ball. He was blessed with a good vision and was brilliant in set-pieces as well. A major factor in Neeskens attaining such heights was his grooming at Ajax. He lamented young talents leaving Ajax for money at the cost of education.

    "The problem is while we have good players they don't stay long with clubs in Holland. The big clubs like Chelsea, Arsenal or clubs in Spain or Italy take them away when they are 15 or 16 years old. That's not good for Dutch football. But that's also something we have to face and deal with. When I was young, I would prefer to play in the first team of Ajax and play every week instead of spending time on the sidelines at clubs elsewhere.

    "For example, take Davy Klaassen. He was one of the better players in Ajax, played every game every week. He then goes to Everton — not the best team in England — but he's not playing, sitting in the stands. He doesn't play in the first team. When you are a young player, you need to be playing a lot of games. By sitting in the stands, you don't improve one bit.

    "It's better to stay a couple of more years with a club where you are getting chances. You gain experience and mature better. Then maybe you can move to a different club in another country. This problem is because of the managers and player agents. Klaassen is playing in Everton second team and they don't have the same quality as Ajax first team. I would recommend players and their agents to be a little more patient. If you are 25 or 26, you still can play eight years in a foreign country. At 25, you are more experienced, more matured and have a better chance of playing more games."

    Neeskens lamented the obscene amount of money that is splurged on players these days, saying it is ruining football as a whole. The money factor also has pegged back Dutch football, he felt, as the country's clubs can't compete with their rivals in the continent anymore.

    "We can't pay the players the amount of money some clubs in Germany, Italy, France, Spain and England are paying. We have to use players from the academy and if they are good, then the big clubs will come and poach them by giving their fathers a job over there. The fathers then go with the boy to England or Spain. A player in Holland cannot get a big salary. My ideology would be, don't look for the money but game-time. That's what I suggest to youth players in Holland. But we cannot compete with clubs in other parts of Europe who pay so much money for the players. Big players also don't come to Ajax because there's not much money. We cannot compete with the best clubs in Europe anymore, it's impossible."

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  • 10/29/17--02:08: One for the road
  • The spotlight was firmly trained on women at a panel discussion in the Bangalore Literature Festival 17 on Sunday afternoon which spoke about women travelling alone and what this entails. The panel comprised of Sri Lankan humourist Chhimi Tenduf-La, German poet and rapper Jessy James LaFleur, editor Meenal Baghel and author Pilar Maria Guerrieri.

    Draped in a bright orange sari, Jessy stole the show with her humorous anecdotes and witty observations about how India is perceived across the globe. The spoken word artiste talked about her mothers first reaction when she announced her decision to study in India, specifically Coimbatore. "My mother told me Please dont get raped. I went Wow, is that what you have to say to me? But I understand. What we read in newspapers about India is really bad even though the situation in the West is not particularly safe for women either," said Jessy.

    She went on to add, "I come from Germany and a high percentage of women there are subject to sexual assault. But India has been portrayed in a very bad light by the media. I personally have felt very safe walking on the roads in Coimbatore. Men have been pleasant while women have come forward to take selfies with me."

    Meenal addressed the problem with the mindsets of the women nowadays and opined that there was a prevalent sense of victimhood engrained in females that needed to change. She added that the crimes being committed against women should not stop them from stepping out, rather they should make an effort to engage more. She also added that parents should trust their daughters to find their own path.

    Jessy agreed strongly with this and recounted a personal experience of how her parents didnt talk to her for ten years because of her decision to move out. When she finally asked her mother about the reason behind this, her mother said that they didnt think she could do it. The audience were all ears as she went on to talk about how this thinking needs to be changed.

    Pilar Maria Guerrieri, author of Maps of Delhi, recounted her personal experience of moving to India seven years ago to learn about the culture and way of life. After the initial struggles to convince her parents, Pilar wrote to an Indian architect, requesting him to take her under his wing as she didnt know anyone here. There was no looking back after that.

    One thing all ladies agreed upon were the benefits of travelling alone. Pilar talked about how travelling solo lets one move away from their comfort zone while Meenal said that it was an opportunity to make new friends and allow things to happen to you. Jessy highlighted the need to usher in a change and implored the male community to step forward and speak up if they saw a woman being harassed.

    Next was a poetry reading by Jessy after which the audience was given a chance to ask questions or share their observations. From talking about the need for a cultural revolution to talking about the dos and donts of travel writing, the audience interaction was just as engrossing as the main event.


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  • 10/29/17--02:14: Discovering his heritage
  • His name is Niles Hollowell Dhar but music lovers know him as KSHMR. The Indian-American DJ, record producer and musician is from Berkeley, California. Earlier this year, he launched his own label Dharma Worldwide and hes been travelling the world for concerts.

    He was in the city recently as part of his India tour and won hearts of his fans.

    He talks to Anila Kurian about what its like being an international DJ and how he draws inspiration from India.

    Did you have a good time performing in Bengaluru?

    Yes, the energy and enthusiasm of the crowd was great. I had a few of my family members attend the concert, especially my cousin who had to return to boarding school right after that. Im glad he got to come along for the show.

    What do you like most about India?

    Im very happy to be here. To be in India is like homecoming to me. Whenever I came here as a kid, I would just spend time with my family. My world was very small. But now when I come here, I have millions of friends with arms wide open. These are people I have connected to through my music. I discovered myself with my own heritage. It has given me a great sense of meaning in my life.

    How much of Indian influence did you have growing up?

    I just knew about Bollywood movies that came on television which my dad used to watch on Sundays. There was an interesting duality in my family as my mother is a Christian. She would go to church on Sunday mornings and my dad would be in bed watching Bollywood films. So as a kid, I found sitting at home more interesting! And I just visited India during vacations.

    Was it difficult being an Indian-American?

    To be honest, I didnt take much interest in my Indian heritage because I just wanted to fit in. So it wasnt until I grew older that I started to appreciate what made me unique and gave more thought to that in forming my identity.

    You worked with Sonu Nigam recently. Tell us about that experience.Sonu is a kind soul. My grandfather is a huge fan of his, so I took him to meet Sonu. I couldnt believe how much of an interest Sonu took in my grandfather. He cared about his stories and wanted to hear them all. My grandfather was flattered and since then, Sonu has been enquiring about his well-being and health. He is very open-minded in the studio and it was a pleasure working with him.

    Any advice to aspiring DJs?

    You should not focus on DJing but focus on producing. If youre only DJing, you are playing somebody elses music and that can only get you so far. You want to be playing your own music. Your hard work is your voice as a DJ.

    Youre doing great work and many are appreciating your work. Do you ever feel like you might lose that spark?

    I lose my spark all the time but then I get it back. Then I lose it again and so on. That is a part of being a creative person.

    If you had the power to abolish a musical genre, which one would it be?

    It is music from the 90s - I couldnt do with it then and I dont want to hear it now.


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    Kalki Koechlin says there are women who face sexual abuse in the film industry but people often turn a blind eye to them as they are not famous or successful.

    Recently, Hollywood witnessed the Harvey Weinstein scandal which has put the spotlight on sexual abuse in the entertainment industry.

    "I dont think we provide an environment to our women to speak up about sexual abuse," Kalki said.

    "We only listen to people once they are successful or famous. There are a lot of women who are at the struggling stages of their career who talk about these things but no one will listen to their story."

    The actor says people are interested in listening to someone only when they become famous.

    The 33-year-old actor, however, says instead of harping on an incident that happened in Los Angeles, one should take responsibility for what is happening in the country.

    "We are harping on the Harvey Weinstein issue which happened in LA while we have our own issues - the incidents at High Spirits in Pune, or the TVF incident (its CEO Arunabh Kumar was accused of molesting a woman)."

    "You hear about these things for half a day and then it is gone. We need to take responsibility for our own stories. I feel its about time we start listening to them."

    Recently actor Irrfan Khan said things are not that different in Bollywood as he was asked to compromise for work during his initial days.

    While Kalki says no one will "dare" to do that with her, she is glad Irrfan spoke about the issue.

    "I dont think anyone will dare to try and do anything with me. But there is mental coercion, texts messages at 2 am, that kind of things happen sometimes."

    "I am glad that Irrfan talked about it because this happens to men as well. It is a power game. Those in power taking advantage of those less in power. It happens in the other industries too and not just Bollywood," she adds.

    The actor will be next seen in Ribbon which also stars Sumeet Vyas. The film, directed by Rakhee Sandilya, is scheduled to release on
    November 3.


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    Raised in New Zealand for most part of her life, Latha Hegde never really set out to be an actor.

    Armed with post-graduate degrees in management and marketing, Latha always saw for herself an academically-driven future till her participation in a beauty pageant, during her college days. This put her on the course to a career in film industry. Latha, who is set for the release of her Sandalwood debut Athiratha, speaks to Nina C George about her entry in films.

    Tell us about your transition from being a management student to an actor.
    I was always academically-inclined. But things changed when my friend and I decided to participate in a beauty pageant in New Zealand. We didnt win but my pictures caught the attention of filmmakers in India. I wasnt keen at first but my parents encouraged me to give films a shot. I made my debut in Telugu and worked in a Tamil film before entering the Kannada film industry.

    What made you accept Athiratha?

    Athiratha is directed by Mahesh Babu who also happens to be one of my favourite directors. I watched one of his earlier films called Arasu and was impressed with it. So when I got a call from him, I knew that it was no ordinary film and that my character would definitely be a strong one.

    Whats your role in the film?

    I play an NRI journalist. I was able to deliver exactly what the director expected of me. My character required me to have a quirky attitude and speak not-so-perfect Kannada along with the characteristics of someone who has been raised abroad. I had it all.

    On working with Chetan…

    Chetan is my favourite co-star. We shared the same wavelength on a host of issues. He too plays a journalist. He would not only help me with my scenes but also give me an insight into the political and social culture of India.

    Any lessons learnt after joining the Kannada crew?

    The people here are helpful and very encouraging. I have learnt to be more patient after working here.

    Your Tamil debut project is with Suhasini Mani Ratnam. Tell us about it.

    The project has Suhasini, Radhika Sharath Kumar, Kushboo and Urvashi. I play Suhasinis daughter in the film. She is a wonderful person. She and I bonded very well. Since I was new to the industry, she made sure that I didnt feel out
    of place.


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  • 10/29/17--02:24: Party has begun!
  • Think Halloween and masks, elaborate costumes and loads of candy are what comes first to ones mind. With just a day away from Halloween, the expatriates in the city are ready with their costumes and set to celebrate.

    For Adam Walker from New York, who works as a product manager with a startup, the day is all about sporting interesting costumes and partying.

    Adam hosted a Halloween party with partner Aysha Sanam and the duo were dressed as the economist Adam Smith and his
    book The Wealth of Nations.

    "As a little American boy, the holiday has always been a very important day for me. Wearing a costume, collecting candies from every house and carving out Jack-o-lanterns are some memories connected to the day," he says.

    "While the festivities have transformed from gobbling sweets to partying with friends, the crux of the holiday stays the same -- having fun!" he says.

    Halloween is an excuse to just spend some time away from mundane life and be ones craziest self. Being elaborate with costumes can be a lot of fun and Brent Mayhew from Gatwick, UK, who works as a wealth manager with an MNC, remembers creating different looks for every Halloween. "Its a fancy dress event. There are a lot of restaurants which have special offers and events on that day and people stock up sweets. I remember playing a lot of pranks as a child on the day," he says.Brents daughter Brianne and wife Catherine took part in the Halloween Parade.

    Catherine, who is from Philippines, says that the day is also about remembering the dead and having fun activities at the graveyard.

    "Back home, we would visit the graveyards, prepare food like rice noodles and adobo and offer it to the people who passed on. We also make homemade sweets like kakanin," she recollects.

    This year she will be dressed as The White Ghost and her daughter will be dressed as The Victorian Maid.

    "Its a nice day to dress up. I remember wearing interesting costumes as a teenager," she says.

    The holiday precedes the All Saints Day (on November 1), which is observed in Philippines and Ema Trinidad, an entrepreneur, points out that it is a reunion for the family.

    "Everyone comes home for this. The graveyards are cleaned for the rituals. Its a fun event and its a time to pay tribute to departed loved ones. The celebrations even includes karaoke and singing," she says.

    In Bengaluru, Halloween for her is about meeting friends and having fun.

    "My costume this year is The Evil Queen. I organised a Halloween Parade on Sunday which had competitions and Trick or Treat," she adds.

    Jesh Wilson, who works with a strategy consultancy firm and hails from Singapore, says, "Its all about sporting a costume and being silly with people you like spending time with. I love any excuse to have a party and Halloween is a perfect one. This year, I am dressed as a Japanese school girl," he says. Ask about food and Jesh says that anything prepared with pumpkin like Pumpkin soup or Pumpkin pie and candy form a big part of the celebrations.

    "Food is not the focus of this holiday though. Its about fun and friends, after all!" he adds.


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    At a time when most of the Bollywood stars are making a switch to television with reality shows, Tabu says if she ever turns to the small screen she would like to start her journey with a travel show.

    This year, TV has seen the return of superstar Shah Rukh Khan with his new show TED Talks and Akshay Kumar with comedy show The Great Indian Laughter Challenge as a super judge. Salman Khan is also back as the host for Bigg Boss.

    Besides this, Farah Khan has her own show Lip Sing Battle while Sonakshi Sinha is judging a devotional music show Om Shanti Om.

    Tabu says, "As far as TV shows are concerned, I would love to do a travel show. It interests me and takes me out of this crazy world. I wanted to be an air hostess because I wanted to see the world."

    "Now I want to do a travel show as I would love to travel. I have not been to South America, Australia, East Africa and many other places."

    The actor, who is fresh out of the success of her latest film Golmaal Again, says in the past she has been offered few reality shows but nothing excited her.

    "There have been talks, people have tried to convince me to be in this space but I did not find it that interesting enough. But I would love to judge a reality show."

    "I think it would be a nice relief for me, to judge. I like to wear good clothes and enjoy people performing in front of me and be in the directors shoes almost, as I am not performing. I love to watch people dance, it is the most fantastic skill and art form that anybody can have."


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  • 10/29/17--02:28: Breaking the mould
  • It was only after her marriage that Srigowri Rajesh took to the arts in a full-fledged manner.

    "Though I was interested in arts and crafts since childhood and used to create stuff with paper, there was not much exposure and opportunity in the small town I grew up in. After shifting to Bengaluru, I have had more avenues to explore and exhibit my interest," she says.

    Apart from being a mural artist, Srigowri has dabbled in all many forms of art and craft like decoupage, paper crafting, mixed media, miniature creation and more. "I love making things with clay. Apart from jewellery, I have made miniatures of a South Indian food platter, fruits, trees and more. Combined with the decoupaged boxes and bottles, this has transformed my entire house into a gallery of sorts," she says with a laugh and adds, "Sometimes I feel that having an interest in so many things is a disadvantage. If I had concentrated on just one thing, I would have become an expert by now. But I enjoy exploring and learning new things."

    Traditional designs are her forte and her choice, a love that grew because of her background as a mural artist. Interestingly, the inspiration for these traditional motifs comes from new-generation platforms like Pinterest which Srigowri swears by.

    Her family has been very supportive of her ventures. "My husband never says no to any art supplies or materials I want to buy; in fact, he will go and buy it himself. My children have been seeing me do all this from the day they were born so they also dont disturb me when I am immersed in this pastime."

    Srigowri feels that her interest in the arts is a genetic one, one that has trickled down over the different generations in her family. "My mother used to do excellent hand embroidery. She learnt everything on her own and this was around 40 years ago. Her grandfather used to draw free hand pencil sketches. So I guess this runs in the family," she says.

    And Srigowri is doing a good job of taking it forward. She was one among the five art experts selected from Bengaluru in a competition conducted by Fevicryl a few months back.

    Challenges remain, of course. "It is not a very cost-effective hobby, even if I try to supplement it with the workshops. People try to get the cost reduced as a personal favour. Apart from this, there are no artistic challenges since I love what I am doing," she details.

    Her future plans include exploring all kinds of art forms ("I like to try my hand at whatever new trend the artistic community comes up with") and setting up a website which will document her initial steps into the industry.


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  • 10/29/17--02:30: Change in travel plans
  • If you are one of those who check in your laptop at the airport, its time to reconsider it. Including a laptop in your check-in luggage might just not be possible in future.

    With the international aviation agencies already considering banning of Personal Electronic Device (PED) from check-in luggage, looks like India too is all set to follow suit. As of now, power banks, mobile chargers and e-cigarettes have already seen their way out of the check-in luggage items.

    Amidst the talks, the proposal is already seeing a mixed reaction from youngsters in the city. Ganesh Anantha Subbaraya, owner of an event management company, Idea Design Production, says, "I totally agree with authorities planning to ban PED like laptop, chargers, etc from check-in luggage. With incidences of electronic devices exploding or catching fire on board often, this move will help in safe travelling. We, as travellers will feel much safe."

    He adds, "This apart, you need not worry about your gadgets getting lost or damaged. I had recently travelled to Indonesia for an event. One of my check-in luggages had my laptop and trophies and it was marked fragile. However, I received the trophies in a damaged state. There was no one I could possibly say anything to. Since we are allowed to carry seven kilos in hand baggage, why not carry our laptops with us? I guess, its better to be safe than sorry."

    Talking in favour of the proposed plan, Neha Bhandari, a professional says, "The aviation authorities will come up with a plan like this only for the betterment of its passengers. Most people tend to put their laptops in the check-in baggage, so they dont have the burden of carrying it around. But, one also needs to understand that at the end of the day, it is about how safe is ones flight."

    While the safety of passengers on board is always the priority, she points out that it is equally important for travellers to be responsible for their own belongings rather than blaming someone else for it.

    However, Uttam Raju, an MBA student has this to say, "I would consider it a better option to allow laptops in the check-in luggage as it is more convenient. Most people travel from city to city for a day or two and they tend to carry just a small bag. In such a situation, putting ones laptop with the check-in luggage makes the journey hassle-free."

    "Having said that, safety comes first. Keeping this in mind, one should not be allowed to check in electronic items."


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  • 10/29/17--02:34: 'I instantly felt at home'
  • When one walks up to Naphaphak Prompaksa, a young wide-eyed expatriate from Isan, Thailand, its her bright and wide smile that catches ones attention first. Known fondly as Chef Tam, she has been happily working with Rim Naam, The Oberoi, in the city for the last few years, and proudly calls Bengaluru her second home.

    Her first stint with India was a chefs job with the Royal Thai Consulate-General in Mumbai, from 2005 till 2012. From there she moved to Qatar, Doha and later Maldives, before she moved to Bengaluru. Having a deep passion for cooking, Naphaphak was really happy to present her countrys flavours to the world. "I wanted to be an ambassador for Thai cuisine and I am trying that in my own humble way," she says.

    Since India wasnt an unfamiliar territory to her, she was really excited to come and explore Bengaluru. "During my stay in Mumbai, I heard that Bengaluru was a fantastic place. Compared to the other places Ive worked in, the weather is one of the biggest strong points of the place. Also, everyone feels safe and comfortable here," she says.

    The quality of life was another advantage to the place. "Though Mumbai has its own charm, the cleaner air here was a blessing. The air and noise pollution level in Mumbai can be quite tiresome at times," she adds.

    Its not only these things that Naphaphak likes about Bengaluru. "There are so many similarities in the culture. Be it respecting elders, greeting people with warmth or the sense of hospitality that can be seen, we share a lot of things. I instantly felt at home," she says.

    A pleasant workplace ambience and the warm conversations with people only adds to the appeal of the place. "People treat each other with respect. I spend most of my time at the hotel and my team has always made me feel at comfortable here,"
    she says.

    The young chef loves answering questions of curious people with whom she interacts.

    "Most people want to know which province I am from and as they conversation progresses, they share their own experiences with Thai food or the place. This has led to many endearing cultural exchanges," she says with a smile.

    Naphaphak believes that moving to Bengaluru was a good decision for career and personal growth.

    Being a Buddhist by nature, she loves the fact that there is a strong sense of spirituality here. "There is a balance of traditions and modernity here. I love visiting the temples here," she says.

    Her passion for cooking came because of her strong love for her mothers cooking.

    "There is no one in the world who can cook like her and I wanted to prepare and serve food exactly like she does, with a lot of love and flavour, for people across the world," she says.

    Having been in India for a while, she has explored a lot of Indian cuisine. "I have had a lot of Indian dishes like biryani, tikka, kebab, pulav, naan and masala dosa and I love them. Both our cuisines use a lot of spices but the treatment is different," she says.

    Naphaphak hasnt explored a lot of places but has visited Mysuru and Nandi Hills and hopes to explore more of the state as time passes. She also loves exploring culinary places and shopping.

    "I love visiting cafes and restaurants like Hae Kum Gang and Oko. To shop, I visit 1 MG mall while on my off day, I usually head to a spa on Brigade Road," she says.

    She appreciates the warmth and the love that people from everywhere who have settled in the city have extended to her.

    "Ever since I started living here, I have felt very confident about myself as a person and as a professional. The city is my comfort zone. I would love to stay on for as long as I can," she says.


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  • 10/29/17--03:24: The bold and the beautiful
  • The latest line from the brand explores drapes like never before. The collection is conceived keeping in mind the aspirations and requirements of the young generation. Shammy Choraria, the owner, explains, "In each of my creations, I have kept in mind the need for flexibility, fabrics, design integration, price range and style innovations."

    Shammy draws inspiration from freshwater streams that take on an all new avatar after the monsoons.

    "Drapes are proving as an integral part of our design sensibilities. We have included them in most of our collections. We believe that they add a certain kind of drama and give a free flowing and natural feel to a garment," she adds.

    "We are inspired by anything and everything around us. From the obscure squirrel sprinting across the pathway to the after monsoon flora and fauna, we have incorporated it all in our ensembles," Shammy adds.

    There are a variety of different prints and colours explored in the latest collection.

    "We have a lot of vibrant hues in shades of plum, crimson red, wine and elephant grey, along with digitally-enhanced floral prints which are interspersed with geometric patterns."

    The brand has bridal lehengas, anarkali gowns, Kanjeevaram silk saris, lounge wear and Western evening gowns which have explored the drape technique.

    "We have been experimenting with innovative drapes for saris and lehengas, apart from the evening gowns," she says.

    The line and the brand focusses on the fashion requirements of youngsters who want to have their own individual style without falling into the trap of ever-changing fads.

    "Fashion for women is a constant journey. Its a journey of reinventing oneself while retaining ones essential individual characteristics. Fashion is something which is visible yet should be understated. It should have the feel and pulse of todays youth with inspiration drawn from our rich heritage, incorporated lavishly," says Shammy.


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  • 10/29/17--03:28: A box full of memories
  • This photo was taken in 1976 at the residence of former President V V Giri near the Ashoka Pillar in Jayanagar.

    I was the pursuing my PhD in Economics at the Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), Bangalore which had just moved its campus from Carlton House in Palace road to its permanent campus in Nagarbhavi.

    From my high school days, I had this hobby of writing to VIPs and asking them for their autographed photos. I have in my prized collection autographed photos of President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, US Senators Edward Kennedy and Robert Kennedy.

    So when I heard that Mr Giri had settled down in Bangalore after demitting office as fourth President of India (1969 to 1974), I wrote to him seeking an appointment. I received a prompt response and an appointment was fixed.

    On the day, I hired a taxi and travelled from my PG accommodation in King Street, Richmond Town to Mr Giris residence. There were police sentries at his residence and after I showed them the appointment letter, I was received by Mr Giris personal secretary who ushered me into his office where he was waiting for me.

    After pleasantries, we sat down and exchanged views on a number of topics such as poverty, unemployment, etc.

    Mr Giri was a down-to-earth person and extremely friendly and made me feel at home. I enquired as to why he decided to take up residence in Bangalore. I recall that he mentioned that one of his children was settled here apart from other plus points of the city. After our conversation was over, I posed for a photo with Mr Giri who also signed an autographed photo of his for me. On his desk, I noted a box full of his photos to be given to admirers and visitors. Mr Giri, however, later shifted residence to Chennai due to health reasons since he found Bangalores weather unsuitable. But we kept in touch through letters until his death on June 24, 1980. He wrote to me on issues concerning development and socio-economic challenges facing the country.


    (The author can be contacted at ninankn@hotmail.com)


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  • 10/29/17--03:34: The world of puppets
  • A puppet theatre by Rangaputhali Puppeteers will be held on the occasion of Karnataka Rajyotsava on November 1, 6 pm at Courtyard, Phoenix MarketCity.

    Puppet theatre is one of the most popular forms of folk theatre in the state. The origin of the puppet is traced to the coastal tract of Karnataka, and even now, a number of puppets are placed in the temple car and in the age-old Bhutashanada Bandi which are drawn in procession on festive occasions.

    The puppet is called Sutrada Bombe and Gombeyata and bears literary references from early times.


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  • 10/29/17--03:38: The bards are back!
  • The HandleBards are back and now its four ladies on bicycles bringing William Shakespeares As You Like It.

    The HandleBards are the worlds first cycling theatre company.

    Since 2013, their two troupes (one all-male, the other all-female) have pedalled over 6,000 miles across the UK to perform their unique brand of "charmingly chaotic, environmentally sustainable, bicycle-powered Shakespeare".

    This year The HandleBards Ladies bring the same raucous, madcap, rambunctious frolic, as did the lads earlier. As You Like It is described as a pastoral comedy.

    The HandleBards pride themselves on just how accessible theyre able to make Shakespeare and his plays.

    They will perform on November 3 and 4, 8 pm and on November 5 at 3 and 6.30 pm. The venue is Jagriti theatre.

    The duration is 120 minutes. The cast has Eleanor Dillon, Jessica Hern, Charlotte Driessler and Lucy Green.

    The crew has Alberta Jones (designer), Guy Hughes (musical composer), Nel Crouch (director), Paul Moss (tour manager) and Tom Dixon (producer).

    Ticket price is Rs 500. Entry is for eight years and above.


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  • 10/29/17--03:48: Revisiting a legend
  • A pleasant Sunday afternoon is usually best spent lazing around at home but hordes of Bengalureans decided to battle the heat and traffic to attend the second day of Bangalore Literature Festival 17. The literary event, held at The Lalit Ashok Bangalore, saw a confluence of literary celebs, established writers, reading enthusiasts and regular families looking to spend their weekend in a meaningful way.

    One of the sessions that garnered much interest was a panel discussion on the life and works of A K Ramanujan, poet, scholar, philologist, folklorist, translator and playwright. Titled The World of A K Ramanujan, the discussion saw the presence of Girish Karnad and Guillermo Rodriguez and Chandan Gowda.

    Guillermo Rodriguez talked about his decision to do a PhD on Ramanujans poetry and his fascination with the poets works and the multiple layers of his literary artefacts. He talked about how poetry and Ramanujan became a window to the Indian society for him and opened up the world of Indian culture to him.

    The Spaniard detailed the effort he put into his dissertation, which involved tracking and chasing down almost every person who was associated with or had spoken to Ramanujan. Incidentally, Guillermo is the first researcher to have accessed Ramanujans unpublished materials, including letters, diary entries and drafts of poems, essays and lectures, at The University of Chicago.

    Talking about the reason behind a large portion of Ramanujans works not being published, Guillermo explained, "He was very demanding of himself. There was a lot of self-censorship that happened in his writing which is why many of his works were not brought out. After his death, his ex-wife donated all the written material to The University of Chicago and that enabled me and others like me to access all this."

    Guillermo also praised Ramanujan for his contribution in bringing Dravidian studies on the global academic map and even the pop culture.

    Girish Karnad, despite keeping in poor health, was an active participant throughout the discussion and talked about his own perception of the poet. He praised Ramanujans astute observational skills and hailed him as the first person who drew attention to the stories told by the women in the kitchen and his ability to apply that elsewhere. He also drew attention to an interesting phenomenon of characters and places getting names and identity when they came into the public sphere, and not when they were being recounted in stories by old women.

    "Ramanujan was able to apply what he saw in a Kannada kitchen to Tamil poetry and illuminate a whole range of studies," said Girish. The session also saw readings of some of the selected works of the poet.


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