The diamond girl
Scent of money
Frail and ailing, 96-year-old Isha Basant Joshi, India’s first woman IAS officer, had been condemned to live near a cowshed in the servant quarters of her own palatial mansion in Lucknow. Following reports in the media, she was shifted inside. Shahira Naim reports.
can surely play tricks. In a lonely back room of the fortress-like
snow-white mansion on Kabir Marg, lies 96-year-old Isha Basant Joshi,
the first woman Indian Administrative Service officer and the first
Indian to be admitted to the then bastion of the British, the exclusive
La Martinere Girls High School. Due to media reports about her neglect,
the owner of the house recently shifted her to a side room from the
servant quarters where she had lived previously, not far from the cows.
The patriarch of the family, Deep Narain Jaiswal, who now owns the house
and claims to be the rakhi bhai of the erstwhile owner, professes
to take good "care" of her.
He flatly denies access to her because "she is unconscious" and the doctor attending from the Vivekananda Poly Clinic attending to her has prohibited visitors on medical grounds. He refuses to divulge the doctor’s name. Even access to her nurse and ayah is denied. Locating the house is not difficult. The corner PCO provides accurate directions to the house where Joshi lives. Entry is refused by uniformed security guards on the grounds that "relatives" have prohibited the old lady from meeting anyone. Questions regarding these "relatives" meet with a hushed silence. Finally, after much persuasion, they contact someone in the house and a young teenaged girl emerges. She informs you that 'aunty' cannot remember anything so there’s no point in meeting her. Refusing permission to click a photograph, she points out that the doctor has not allowed flashlights as it disturbs her. When we promise not to use a flash and ensure that Joshi would not get disturbed, she changes track and admits that recent media reports have embarrassed the family. "Ask me what you want to know about her as we are the only family she has. We take good care of her and now the media is making up these stories". She informs that "aunty" had married but had no children. Her husband also died much before the family got to know her. She has some living relatives in the USA and the UK who send her money once in a while.
She admitted that Joshi was living in the outhouse as her room was under renovation. After media reports, she wasmoved into the main house. She did not know where the Rs. 12,500 monthly pension went.
She tells you that 'aunty' has written many books and agrees to search for them. Just then, the owner rushes out and angrily wonders why the old lady who is "very sick and unconscious" cannot be left alone. He says Joshi has sold all her books but the girl re-appears, book in hand, and gets a glare from the old man who turns out be her grandfather, Deep Narain Jaiswal, who had bought the house from Joshi in 1980.
The Writers workshop Green bird Publication which the young girl brings is a slim volume of short stories titled The Jewel in the Case which appeared in 1999. She has written two more books of poems Sanctuary which appeared in 1987 and a 1994 publication called Spindrift. Jaiswal maintains that he did not know Joshi till he bought the mansion from her. "At that time she had asked me if I would allow her to live in the house as she was very attached to it. Obviously, I could not refuse. At this point the grand daughter chips in, "Aunty even tied rakhi to my grandfather till last year". She is ordered to keep quiet. Jaiswal says: "Now that she is so sick how can I allow anyone to meet her without her permission?" He admits that earlier the media had sneaked in posing as doctors.
The "medical advice" of the doctor, as we later discover, is to be taken with a pinch of salt. Dr Abhijit Sen, the only doctor the Vivekanand Poly Clinic authorities are aware of having seen Joshi, has not met her since the second week of August this year. He has been called by the family exactly thrice in the last two years.
After checking the hospital records, the Secretary of the Ramkrishan Mission, that runs the hospital, Swami Muktinathanand discloses that Joshi had been briefly admitted to the intensive care unit of the hospital twice. She was first brought on December 28, 2002 and in March 2003. The hospital had arranged for a nurse who was being paid by her. Sen speaks of an "emotional bond" as both were alumni of the prestigious La Martinere College. He admits examining her last in August, 2004. Elaborating on her medical condition as being similar to any 96-year-old person, he says that she suffers from senile dementia, fluctuating BP, low haemoglobin and is very frail. Since she was first admitted to the hospital in the end of 2002, Sen has visited her exactly thrice on the request of the family. "It was never an SOS, as it was never an emergency, I went when I had the time. But Joshi made these visits memorable," says Sen as he recalls her as a dignified old woman and adds, "What set her apart is her warmth, artistic nature and the way she fussed over every visitor".
The IAS fraternity is apparently ruffled by the media reports. Sources inform that the Chief Secretary has asked for information about the case.
The diamond girl
Smitha Sarah Fenn has won an international award for designing a diamond choker. Arup Chanda reports
She looks like the girl-next-door with a smile straight out of a toothpaste advertisement but she designs jewellery for the rich and famous. For 23-year-old Smitha Sarah Fenn, it has been a long journey from Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu to Venice in Italy to collect an international award for designing diamond jewellery.
Her creation, the 342-gram choker-necklace of several 5-cent baguettes (rectangular diamonds) has been named as The Great Journey by the Chennai-based Prince Jewellery where she works as a designer.
Not only elegant but it is also a piece that showcases her creativity. Seen on the slender neck of Aishwarya Rai, this choker can be had for a whopping price of Rs. 1.7 million. "The experience in Venice was thrilling. There were 39 jewellers from all over the world who were honoured. While most of them were middle aged and experienced, the three of us from India were pretty young," she says with a smile.
"I felt blessed to be among so many creative persons. I might have won an award but my main aim is to continue my good work and concentrate on innovative designs," she adds. Talking enthusiastically about her design, she explains: ‘’Little diamond pieces, amounting to 61.55 carats in all, are set in many fine bars of 18k white gold, all of which are held by links. The conception of the necklace took about five days and its fabrication took one and a half months." She is grateful to Prince Jewellery, her employers, which did the fabrication being and gave her "the big break in life".
‘Diamonds: Nature’s Miracle’ was a unique international design competition initiated earlier this year by the Diamond Trading Company (DTC). Applicants to the contest were asked to create a collection that reflected the intrinsic values of natural diamonds, taking inspiration from and dramatising the fact that diamonds are a miracle of nature. One among the three chosen as the winning entries from India, Smitha’s design had competed with stunning jewellery pieces from international diamond houses like Bulgari, Tiffany and Co., Van Cleef and Arpels. Smitha chose a theme from nature and called it "Imprinted by Mother Nature". "The diamond is formed by an erratic process subjected to high pressure and temperature. There are sudden bursts of activities followed by quiet phases," Smitha says eloquently.
Smitha grew up in Coimbatore, where her father is the vice-principal of a college. She graduated from Stella Maris College, Chennai. Inspired by the beautiful jewellery that Ravi Varma adorned women in his paintings with, she decided to pursue a course in jewellery design at the Jewellery Design and Technology Institute, Noida.
Talking about Smitha, the director Prince Jewellery, Princeson Jose, himself a designer, says: "Right from the start Smita had that fire within her, a passion for creativeness, to go all the way out to create works of beauty."
Flooded with job offers from not only leading jewellery designing houses in India but also abroad, Smitha is too shy to discuss her plans and ambitions and laughs them off. "I believe in commitment and would like to continue here because it is they who gave me the break and I still have a long way to go," she says.
Shobhaa De can never be out of the limelight for long. Even when the spotlight is not on her she is either writing a new script or novel or carving out a new avatar for herself. In Power Trip, SaharaOne’s newly launched corporate talk show, she grills corporate honchos and chats with them about their likes, dislikes and secrets of success.
Not only has De finished a new novel, Spouse, she is also scripting a serial for teens. She confesses to being nervous and having sleepless nights on account of her new role because it is the first time she will face the camera as an anchor.
She found the concept of inviting people who have made a difference to the average Indian to talk about their process very interesting. The show will go beyond the balance sheet and unravel the person behind these winners. Yash Birla, Adi Godrej and Deepak Parekh will appear on the show initially.
Shobhaa has a certain comfort level with these corporate czars already so that will help her get the best out of them. She feels these guys hold more glamour than movie stars and the section of viewers that is not into Bollywood finds it interesting to get a glimpse of the way these businessmen have, despite trying circumstances, made it big.
A Kenyan housewife took up running and won the Nairobi Marathon because she could not afford the school fees of her children. She became the latest star of the international athletics scene after she won the Nairobi Marathon. Chimokil Chilapong, 27, beat professionals to win in 2 hours, 39 minutes and 9 seconds, outpacing Joyce Chepchumba, winner of the London Marathon in 1997 and 1999, and grabbing the attention of international coaches. She won 7,000 Sterling Pounds in prize money: enough to educate her four children and buy more livestock for the family's small farm in West Pokot, where most people live on less than one pounds sterling a day.
After Chilapong's mother died 10 years ago, she dropped out of school and got married straight away: the only option usually available for poor teenage girls in rural Kenya. She began training last year after a neighbour told her that she could earn some money by taking part in races.
Chilapong began to run through the steep hills around West Pokot in the early morning while her husband, Benjamin, prepared breakfast and looked after their four children, aged between two and nine. Will Lorot, a local athletics coach, spotted her talent and encouraged her to enter the Nairobi Marathon after she came seventh in a national race organised by Tegla Loroupe, another West Pokot athlete who has twice won the New York Marathon.
Chilapong's 30-year-old husband had to sell one of his four sheep and one of his eight chickens to pay for her to travel to Nairobi to take part in the race which took place in the city centre on 24 October. As a reward, she has promised to give him the prize money and will let him "decide what to do for the family especially the education of our children." The couple say they will send their older sons to boarding school to get the best education and to give Chilapong a chance to focus on her burgeoning career.
The sportswear company Fila immediately offered her a $6,000 sponsorship deal, and later doubled the amount when it became clear she was in demand from several rival companies. It has also promised her appearance fees for the first time she runs in a European race.
Chilapong's win has delighted Kenyans, who see her as the perfect embodiment of a good wife: one who committed herself to her family, but also had the talent and ability to earn money when her children needed it. Her region, West Pokot, has become notorious for ethnic violence among herdsmen, and local leaders hope that her example will encourage local youth to spend their energy running instead of fighting.
Lorot, a former army officer who had set up an athletics club to encourage young men in the region to run instead of fighting tribal battles, said: "Chilapong's success at the Nairobi race has opened a new chapter for us, and we will soon be going places. She is a great inspiration to other runners at our camp." Since her win, neighbours and relatives have descended on the Chilapong homestead, made up of two grass thatched huts and fields of potato tubers, to eat roast mutton and generally join in the celebrations.
Kenya's altitude and climate make it the perfect training ground for athletes, and international sporting bodies such as the International Olympic Committee have set up centres in the country's highlands. Many Kenyans see sport as a way to escape poverty, an ambition encouraged by the fact that Kenya produces 80 per cent of all marathon winners. — The Independent
Scent of money
Chanel No. 5 has definitely brought fragrance into Nicole Kidman's life as far as her finances are concerned. According to The Herald Sun, Nicole was paid 5 million dollars for a two-minute Chanel No. 5 perfume advertisement that was shot over four days. The overall ad expenses amounted to 60 million dollars and features Kidman wearing diamonds worth 41 million dollars.
It is based on her performance in the Baz Luhrmann-directed film Moulin Rouge. Kidman is seen running from screaming fans and photographers into a taxi, where she finds a young writer, played by Love Actually actor Rodrigo Santoro in the back seat. They embrace on the roof of his apartment where the enormous double "C" of the Chanel logo lights up.
But she decides not to quit her glamorous life, and the man is left with the memory, according to the commercial, of "her kiss, her smile, her perfume". — ANI