Shazia baaji an icon
Flairs, frills and festivity
Pammy’s beauty tips
Id-ul-Fitr is just round the corner and Fridays see a festive Ramzan bazaar around the mosque in Chandigarh’s Sector 20, reports Nirupama Dutt
In the flat blocks and squares of Chandigarh’s buildings, the Jama Masjid of Sector 20 stands a class apart with the dome, minarets and arches of Islamic architecture standing proud with just a touch of the modern. And every Jumma (Friday), the area around the mosque wears the look of festivity as devotees come to for the weekly namaz. And these days as the month of Ramzan preceding Id-ul-Fitr is in progress, the festive air is greater. In fact it is a happy mood of festivity in the city is multicultural and celebrations and shopping of Diwali and Id are going on side by side. The Taj took the lead by organising the first Iftar party and others are following as the fasts of Ramzan continue with as people wait for the new moon to come so that one can break into feasting with abandon.
Imam Ajmal Khan of the Jama Masjid here says: “Ramzan is the only month in the Muslim calendar which is specially mentioned in the Holy Koran. It is during this month that devout Muslims fast and pray, for a month to Allah so that their trespasses be forgiven.” It is Roza or fast time during Ramzan from dawn to dusk and from sunrise to sunset. The devout do not eat or drink anything during this time. At the crack of dawn it is time for ‘sehari’ and evenings it is time for ‘Iftar.’
Chandigarh has a Muslim population of over a lakh and the main concentration is in Sectors 26, 45 and Manimajra town but there are families scattered all over the city. Arif Mohammad, a tailor in Manimajra, says: “The Jumma Bazaar at the Masjid offers all the ‘sehri’ and ‘iftar’ treats which I bring for the family. Other days I say my namaz in the Masjid at Manimajra but of Fridays I always go to Sector 20.” Construction of the Sector 20 mosque, which is one of the high spots of the city’s architecture, started in 1967 and was completed in 1973. The Muslim population of the city has gradually grown with artisans and entrepreneurs moving from Uttar Pradesh to settle here.
And now to the delicacies of the Jumma Bazaar: There are phenian available aplenty along with rusks and big loafs of bread for ‘Sehri’ time and dates, apples and bananas for
Iftar in the evenings. Besides, vendors are selling holy literature, posters, paper flowers, cloth and costume jewellery. Colourful prayer caps and mats are selling by the heap. It is shopping time for the big day of ‘Meethi Id’ after the new moon appears when people dress up in new clothes, hug one another, exchange good wishes and enjoy bowls of Sheerkurma (sweetened milk and vermicelli garnished with nuts). So let’s meet again when it is time to say “Id Mubarak”!
It is time to spread patterns of colour on the floor, says
When the festivity is on, can creativity remain far behind? Be it gift wrapping or home decoration, it takes more than a little extra touch to give that extra zing to the occasion. And when it comes to Diwali decorations, all roads lead to the rangoli.
Rangoli, derived from the word “rangavali” has different avtars in different region. Its “rangoli” in the North, “kolam” in the South and “alpana” in the East. But the essence remains the same throughout, except for the medium that is used to create those colourful motifs and patterns on the floor.
Neeru Ohri of Sector-42 is busy giving the finishing touches to her 5 feet X 5 feet big rangoli in her drawing room. But unlike the traditional colours she has opted for oil paint. “After so much of hard work, I want to my rangoli to stay for a while,” she says.
“While in rangoli we use dry colours, gulal or fresh flowers, for alpana, rice flour and ground pulses are used,” says Viren Tanwar, city based artist.
Kolam in the South is done with rice flower, which is first made into a paste and then bordered red earth called “geru”. To add colour a liberal amount of “haldi” and “kumkum” are also used.
“But this particular type is only for festive occasions. We also have this tradition of making kolam everyday for the “puja ghar”. For this we use rice powder on a wet ground,” says Radha Balakrishnan, a Panchkula based on artist.
For Radha, the tradition of making rangolis or alpanas or kolams provides an outlet for women to explore their creative selves. “From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, from Bengal to Gujarat we have this tradition of making rangolis. It imparts a very special feeling to the occasion,” she says.
Alpana, rangoli or kolam, they mostly come in geometric pattern with simple lines. South has this tradition of making kolams with dotted lines. The technic is simple - take a piece of cloth or cotton and fill in colours in the pattern you have created.
In the North, while rangoli takes a floral pattern, in the South it mostly comes with eight corners, depicting the eight dishas (direction).
Any particular pattern for this festive season? “It will depend on my mood,” says Radha. But she will definitely put one or two diyas in her rangoli to denote the festival of lights.
So, get down on your knees and let your creative juices flow and create that spectacular rangoli for this Diwali.
Here are a few tips
Stick to the geometrical or simple floral pattern, keeping full control over the lines.
Chris Hale and Miranda Stone create music that transcends all barriers, reports Gayatri Rajwade
Musicians in tow! Papaya in hand (to combat the Indian stomach bug!), donning an exquisite kalamkari sari and an inky blue khadi kurta (blending in!) Hindi spoken with the fluency of masters (surprise!) the two can pass off for free-spirited birds of paradise!
For musicians Chris Hale and Miranda Stone, India is homecoming; Chris having spent the better part of his life here (his Hindi, untouched by an accent) and for Miranda the attraction beginning way before she met Chris. “I began wearing saris much before I came here,” she says.
In the city for a performance of Yeshu Bhakti music-bhajans in Hindi revering Christ-the two eclectic musicians bring together their sheer love of poetry and compositions. “It is not about the self here. It is about supporting and backing the passion of the partner and coming together for the sake of being together,” explains Miranda. While Chris plays the sitar and sings, Miranda accompanies him on the guitar. The two met at a music festival in 2002 in New York and after a whirlwind courtship of being ‘just friends’ the two married in Varanasi in February 2004, in a fairy tale wedding complete with pheras and mehndi and the red bridal sari! “Our marriage is such a strong picture of our relationship with God,” says Miranda who believes she has found her soul-mate. Ditto for Chris, who quietly cuts the ubiquitous papaya sprinkling lemon for Miranda to dig into all the while insisting she is the interesting one of the two!
Born in New York, Chris lived in Nepal from the age of one where his parents practiced medicine. Moving on to the Woodstock School in Moussourie till Class XII, Chris took to learning the Sitar, the turning point being hearing Pandit Ravi Shankar at the Doon School. Currently a student of Partho Chatterjee, (a foremost disciple of Nikhil Banerjee), Chris has been playing for all these years since the bug first bit him-no surprise that the influence came from his mother, a concert pianist herself!
Although he plays for a band in America-Aradhna-his performances with his wife are something that binds them in a whorl of melody.
Having lived her life in Canada, Miranda grew up working on 26 acres of land and fields as her father, a horticulturalist, had a rose nursery. “Art, music, painting, fabric art—right from spinning to weaving to dyeing—I grew up at home with a huge rich culture of artistic heritage.” She herself started learning the piano at the age of five when at the age of 16 she saw some boys playing the guitar at school.
“I thought wow! This is an instrument that you can transport with you.” She took to the guitar like fish to water. “You have to choose a spiritual persuasion from the heart and that makes all the difference,” believes Miranda. Going through Art College in Toronto after her schooling, she applied the “adrenaline and passion” of the guitar and her poetry in to song making her a “folk singer in wolf’s clothing” with a tremendous fan following for her genre of music.
Their days are filled with love, haze and music. “I do my special thing which is learning the tabla, Chris does his, playing the guitar and we do riyaaz many mornings. We both focus on what we are doing. It is a beautiful way of learning music together,” she smiles. Learning Hindi (learning to say “meetha” not “meeta”!), shopping for sarees at the Rehri Market in Sector 19, the adoration comes across with a warm glow-love and music that transcends all barriers.
Shazia baaji an icon
Aruti Nayar traces the journey of Shazia Ilmi from a middle class Muslim home to the electronic media
For Shazia Ilmi, Senior Anchor, Star TV, Chandigarh was a pleasant surprise, coming as she was after almost a decade. As she puts it, “The city compares favourably with any metro, it is amazing.”
In the city for the programme Match ke mujrim, for Star, which had to be hurriedly refocused because there were no mujrims! The audience was the students on the PU campus at Gandhi Bhavan, who went berserk after the cricket team’s win as Shazia talked to them after the match. “Each of them wanted the name of their department mentioned. Syed Kirmani and Bishan Singh Bedi who were on the live show could barely get a word in, says she.
Thirty-three-year-old Shazia has very good memories of the city because for this student of St. Bede’s, the city was a frequent stopover during the journey to the college in Shimla after the vacations. Shazia’s journey from a girl from a conservative Muslim family of Kanpur to a profession in the electronic media with a high visibility quotient was not easy. She had to persist and doggedly keep doing what she wanted to because no woman in her entire clan had ever worked. In fact, her mother still wears a burqa.
It was her father, the founder-editor of the oldest and largest-selling Urdu daily from Kanpur, Siyasat Jadid, who was her role model and Shazia always wanted to be a journalist. After schooling from St. Mary’s in Kanpur and Nainital and college from St. Bede’s, Shimla, it was mass communication from Jamia Millia Islamia and finally a diploma in broadcast journalism from University of Wales, Cardiff.
The youngest in a family of four brothers and two sisters, she was expected to marry comfortably and settle down or at best (since she was academically bright) become an IAS officer. But as she puts it, “When you have so many problems with the system, how can you become a part of it? Freedom is not economic alone, it is the freedom to make a choice and do what you want to from your heart.”
Five years hence Shazia sees herself in politics. Covering politics was very stimulating for her, especially elections in Bihar and Maharashtra. She travelled through the length and breadth of the states to get the views of people especially at the grassroots for the programme Maratha Express. She is also into programming, writing and production.
Shazia does not believe that “it is not a natural progression for an idealist to become a cynic. In fact, you can retain your idealism.” And she did not view marriage as a passport to a better life and even to happiness.
Icons who she looks up to, Kalpana Chawla and Kiran Bedi because, “They won respect for being action-oriented and decisive.”
Shazia is upbeat about the changes being wrought by the electronic media, it is changing the way the young are looking at themselves. The resonance of this changed perception echoes even in the bylanes of Chamnganj, Kanpur, when Rabia, who has never stepped out, tells her “Shazia baaji, please find out about Frankfinn, I want to become an airhostess,” At least, girls are thinking and dreaming.
In Kanpur Shazia baaji is an icon. Married to investment banker Sajid Mallik, half-Gujarati Muslim and half-Tamil Iyer, Shazia is emotionally dependent upon her extremely supportive husband. Shazia is not overtly religious but is into spirituality and meditation, still seeking answers. How does she distress, “I do not distress. Stress suits me fine and brings out the best in me.”
Flairs, frills and festivity
As the chilly breeze beckons you this Diwali, get into flairs that feel so good. Forget ghagras and lehengas. The soaring style this season is long skirts, says Anandita Gupta
Going happy with flairs is the fresh zing in the city’s fashion circuit. And why not, when the city divas are going downright skirty this Diwali. As they wrap their Diwali gifts, more and more pretty women walking down the Chandigarh streets are wrapping themselves in a riot of multi-hued skirts. Vivacious and vibrant, the tantalizing flares of these skirts are sure to keep suitors on their toes. Let’s deskirt the issue.
Women with beautiful bodies no longer believe in bare minimum minis. For, the hottest trend this season is sizzling skirts with a sassy makeover.” The best thing about long skirts is their supergirlie appeal. I generally team them with a cashmere sweater and a scarf for a dressy look. Chirps Kudrat Aggarwal, a resident of Panchkula. “Oh, I simply can’t resist the traditional ones, sporting ghungroos, mirrors, embroidery and sequins,” adds her cute lil sis Karishma.
Then there’s this Chandigarh based Sanawarian Tisha, back home on a Diwali vacation, who smiles, “What fascinates me the most about long flairy skirts is their versatility. If I want a feminine look, I can pair them with a fitted top. My very thin friends, on the contrary, can add volume to their lean bodies by going in for a very frilly skirts.
And mind you, it’s not just these girlie gals who are dabbling in these delightful skirts. The tomboys are all for them too! Among them is the aspiring designer Shubhra who says, “For that rugged, yet stylistic look, I love to team a long skirt with my boots.”
Chirps Nidhi Bajaj, a Fashion Designer running her own boutique, “If you’d ask me what young girls are going in for this Diwali, it’s these long skirts with lots of flairs. The add ons could be Kohl-rimmed eyes, minimal mascara, lots of colourful bangles and payals.” And what are the hues in which these skirts are selling?
“Bright colours to turn the mood sprightly, informs Nidhi, adding, “While most of my clients want the brightest of colours like hot pink, red, golden and turquoise for their festival skirts, some are also going in for the off-beat shades like Beige and Tan Brown. The fabrics are also in line with the festive spirit-Cotton silk, Georgettes and Brocades.” And when fabrics are so rich, can exquisite work be far behind?
Smiles Sakshi, an upcoming designer from Mohali, “Skirts nowadays are becoming very royal and rich, with embellishments like metal beads, sequins, swarovskys and Sitaras on them!” The belt area having maximum work and the flairs sporting minimal work is the rage these days.” muses Nidhi.
Pammy’s beauty tips
In today’s aware world, we are very conscious about what we consume . We run miles away from pesticide grown food and try to go organic. But ever stopped to think what chemicals are you putting on to your skin? A latest survey suggests that an average woman applies no less than 200 chemicals on her body everyday, many of which are absorbed into the blood stream as skin is an absorbent organ. I’d like to clarify here that how fast the skin is affected depends on the type of skin, leaving sensitive skins more vulnerable.
The beauty companies world over try to buy you with all the fake promises of luminous satin skin because we all aspire to the natural wholesome perfection. Beauty companies now have woken up to the fact that in an aware world where people are feeding themselves with organic food, they are not going to risk their skin with chemicals. The consumption of natural skin care products is on the rise. The products are designed to help skin to become strong and healthy and not to change the structure and consistency. However, when you assault the body with a lot of unfamiliar chemicals that it’s not evolved to deal with , this activates the body’s defenses. If the skins immunity is being toyed around with too many unfamiliar chemicals, it may ultimately turn out to age more quickly then if you weren’t using any anti ageing cream
So what is organic skin care? Any product that has been made by produce which has not been subjected to chemicals based pesticides and fertilisers. In the West, still there has been no law or rules set up to label the product as organic or from plough to pot. According to Organic Trade Association (OTA) the products must contain over 95% organic produce to win the label of organic integrity. The use of organic essential oils is on the rise in the west in a big way. Realistically in today’s world-market where you have to abide by so many rules and regulations it is next to impossible to produce a 100% organic skin care range. For longer shelf life and stability, a small percentage of preservative is required. Many big skin care companies now opt for ‘nature generated anti-fungal preservatives. Even though enough care is taken to make the product, bacteria and mould carried in the air and on contact with the product can ruin it.
Most leading skin care companies are using genetically engineered ingredients and bio- engineering techniques in the skin care ranges. The ingredients which have been mostly engineered are soya and maze derivatives, used very widely by the cosmetic industries. In other cases such as manufacture of hyaluronic acid, the ‘engineering ‘involves using a bacteria whose DNA has been ‘tweaked ‘ actually to create molecules. The bacteria is then de-activated- and the resulting ingredient put into skin cream. In fact, genetic engineering might prove very useful to mankind if the companies are scrupulous and don’t rush the products to the shelves without gathering much evidence.
So next time you are picking up a jar of hope from your selection of cocktail of creams, look for highly effective nature based cosmetics.. Simply making one change in your beauty philosophy can lead to increased soil fertility, diverse habitats for wildlife, reduced water pollution and minimum use of finite resources.