C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


City girl clears HCS exam

Chandigarh, January 3
City girl Amrita Singh, has cleared the HCS examination and has been selected to the executive branch. Daughter of Capt Virender Singh Siwach (retd), a banker, Amrita, 24, had appeared for the examination last year. She has been called in by the Haryana Government on January 5 where the Chief Minister will personally hand over the appointment letters to the successful candidates.

The result of the examination was declared yesterday and Amrita is among the 14 candidates who cleared the examination and were selected in the executive branch.

Talking to The Tribune, she said she had modelled herself on her mother, Pushpa Singh. She had cleared her class XI from Government Model School, Sector 18. Before that she had studied in Sacred Heart School, Dharmasala.

She did her History honours from GCG, Sector 11. Amrita was a gold medallist in History honours. The HCS examination was cleared in her first attempt. Amrita says she will appear for the All India Civil Services exam next year.

A beaming Amrita, who has studied hard for the examination, said she was elated at her success and also gave credit to a maternal uncle of hers and his wife, Mrs Shakuntala. — TNS


Celebrations mark annual day
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 3
Melodious voices filled the air as students of Sector 37 Bal Niketan Senior Model School presented songs during a cultural programme held to celebrate the annual day. A prize distribution function was also held.

As students enacted skits and danced to the thumping beats of rhythmic music, the crowd stood up to applaud. The programme started with Saraswati Vandana.

Soon after, tiny tots of kindergarten, dressed up as vegetables and fruits, walked up and down the stage. The item was followed by an English song, Harayanvi and country dance, along with Western dance, besides Dandiya and fox-wedding.

Vande Matram and alphabetical rhymes by the little ones kept everyone glued to their seats. Bhangra, gypsy dance, Manipuri dance and qawwali were also appreciated.

Addressing the gathering, the Principal read out the annual report. The Regional Director of the Central Board of Secondary Education, Mr P I Sabu, was the chief guest. 


NSS volunteers organise rallies
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 3
A rally was organised by NSS volunteers of Government Model Senior Secondary School at Karsan in Ram Darbar. The objective was to create awareness about the “highly communicable disease”. Another rally was organised in Kajheri village by NSS unit of Sector 42 Government College for Girls. As many as 125 volunteers participated in the rally organised with help of the health department.

According to a press note, the rally at Karsan was flagged off by Youth Officer with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports Madhu Bala. Addressing a gathering, she said polio had been eradicated in 208 countries and an overwhelming number of countries had achieved “polio free” status, but India lagged behind and was reporting polio cases every year despite nation-wide campaign. Principal D.P. Singh and Programme Officer Nachhattar Singh were also present on the occasion.


Company director surrenders in court
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 3
Another director of Online Job.com(P)Limited Jaspal Singh Sohi today surrendered before a local court today. The police had booked three directors of the company in an alleged fraud of Rs 12.53 crore, affecting around 7,500 investors. Sohi is a resident of Dhuri, Punjab.

Jasdeep Singh Bains, also a director in the company, was arrested on October 29 by the crime branch of the police. The police has procured arrest warrants against the third director, Amandeep Singh Bains.

The police had started investigation into a complaint lodged by the Reserve Bank of India in December 2002, accusing five multi-level marketing companies of violating the Prize, Chit and Money Circulation Banning Act.

Meanwhile, the local police arrested Abrar Khan, a resident of Mani Majra, and claimed to have recovered two country-made pistols and four live cartridges from his possession here yesterday. He has been booked under Sections 25, 54 and 59 of the IPC.


Film Review
Bipasha minus seductive sting in ‘‘Ishq Hai Tumse’’
Rama Sharma

Watch the hot hot Dino Morea -Bipasha Basu pair running out of steam in ‘‘Ishq Hai Tumse’’. The chemistry is simply missing with Bipasha minus her seductive stings of ‘‘Jism’’ and ‘‘Raaz’’. And Dino, cast in a sacrificial lamb mould, is unpalatable.

The hero ( Arjun) falls in love with a Muslim girl, Khushboo ( Bipasha) who turns out to be a daughter of his father’s best friend, a Lucknow Nawab, Usman. But he is a dutiful son and puts their friendship on a higher pedestal than his love.

The pair is further immobilised by the puny script which either has some marriage sequences or hospital scenes. So when some wedding isn’t happening certain characters keep on falling seriously ill, inducing unreal twists

Beyond this, there is no touching scene or high point in the flick, punctuated by average music. Bollywood can really oblige us if it stops churning out movies at such a fast pace. Slow and steady can win the quality race.


Coffee culture takes city by storm

SORRY gin drinkers and connoisseurs of tea. But it is good old coffee that is in vogue. From corporates to the stiff upper lip bureaucracy; and, from young dating couples to families, the city suddenly finds itself swept off by the coffee culture.

The swanky and up market coffee lounges (calling them coffee shops would be not be so LS) are attracting the young and not-so-young of the city by the droves. Gone are the days of the Indian Coffee House and coffee shops of other hotels, which suited the pallets of the residents more for the eats than the coffee. What is in are these coffee lounges, which offer a wide range of coffee flavours, along with a heady mix of music and mouth -watering munches.

Cappuccino, coffee latte’, mocha coffee, Cafe Frappe’, Coffee on the rocks, and coffee flavours of Arabian, Ethiopian, Cuban or Tropical variety, the fruity flavoured coffee, or the sugar free variety for the calorie conscious — you name it and the coffee lounges — Café Coffee Day, Barista, or Mr Beans are ready to tickle your taste buds. Each of these outlets offer over 30 flavours of coffee, (besides various permutations and combinations of flavours) — both hot and cold varieties included. And seeing the craze for coffee, these outlets are update their menus at regular intervals by introducing new flavours. While Mr Beans is ready to introduce nine new flavours (six in hot coffee and three in cold coffee), Café Coffee Day has introduced four new coffees.

But what really is driving the city residents to these lounges? Says Gunjan UV, Area Manager of Café Coffee Day, “The city is attaining a more cosmopolitan culture with the coming up of several MNC’s. The executives employed by these companies are widely travelled, who have in turn brought in the coffee culture. Other than this, the fact that the younger generation is willing to experiment with different flavours has also added to the popularity of coffee lounges.” The growing pocket money and the hefty pay packages of the youngsters have also attributed to their popularity. Mr Dinesh Vohra, who is currently preparing for his UPSC examination, and is a daily visitor to Café Coffee Day, says that visiting the lounge is a perfect relaxation for him.

The three lounges claim that they are frequented by over 100 customers each day,with a large number of daily visitors, speaks volumes of their popularity. Many a business meetings are held here, with as much élan as a couple would date in these lounges. With the afternoon time being more popular with the younger crowd, 8pm to 11 pm time frame is generally considered as family time for visiting these outlets. Says Mr S.K. Sachdeva, outlet Manager, Mr Beans, “ The global Chandigarhian has also turned into a connoisseur of coffee. He knows the difference between Caramel mocha and the regular mocha coffee. So, special care is to be taken and each coffee is separately brewed for the customer.” Similarly, Café Coffee Day claims that the coffee beans are home grown- in their own plantations. Other than the wide variety of coffee, the USP of these outlets is the informal yet up market ambience. The swanky interiors with the leather couches and informal sitting arrangement, latest music blaring from the state- of- the- art music system, which makes it a perfect place to sit and relax while you either leaf through a society or news magazine. If it is the fruity flavoured- zero tobacco sheesha (Arabian word for hookah) is attracting customers to Mr Beans, Barista has placed guitars, Word Scrabble and chess for the use of its customers. TNS


An actor ready to outshine himself

An interaction with Pankaj Kapoor leaves you enriched at many levels. The actor exudes maturity in abundance, talks of trails as stepstones to success and takes pride having rejected many roles to honour his commitment to good cinema.

After 22 years of meaningful performances, including the one that fetched him the Jury Award for his portrayal in “Ek Doctor Ki Maut”, Pankaj is ready to outshine himself, this time through his performance as an underworld don in Vishal Bhardwaj’s “Mian Maqbool”, also starring Irfan Khan and Tabu. The foreign media has gone to the extent of comparing him with the legendary Marlon Brando in “The Godfather”. Interestingly, however, comparisons fail to amuse the quintessential actor, who terms them “pitiable”.

In Chandigarh today, along with wife Supriya Pathak, Pankaj talked to The Tribune about his struggle for meaty roles, his classic performances in films like ‘Main Zinda Hoon’ and his dejection over the wave that has swept originality off the shores of Hindi cinema. “It’s sad that a country of 100 crore cannot produce a single genuine film reflecting concerns of a culture or its people. Producers are busy replicating Hollywood themes. We have saturated the indigenous industry with imported ideas. This saturation is pushing people into drawing comparisons that are unfair on fine actors. If we keep imitating the West, we will never see the sunrise,” said Pankaj, who has paid the price of hoping for sunrise.

“I have had spells of dissatisfaction, but I am happy that I chose all my roles. “Mian Maqbool” is a strong film inspired by Shakespeare’s Macbeth. I worked with Gulzar in “Panchparmeshwar”, a serial based on Munshi Premchand’s story. I am working on Premchand’s “Godaan” with Gulzar. I also plan to make a film which reflects my culture in the right perspective,” said the actor who was drawn towards art cinema in this very search for the right perspective.

Once a part of parallel cinema, Pankaj does not mind admitting, “We made the art cinema so boring and serious that the common man could no longer relate to it. So it was outrightly rejected. The trend these days is reassuring. We have fresh ideas flowing in and we have Indian films making a mark in the western markets. With films like Lagaan, novelty has again acquired the centrestage. In the given scenario, people with a heart for originality stand a good chance.”

A vibrant Supriya Pathak nods in firm acceptance of the statement, recalling the kind of meaty roles that used to be offered by filmmakers of the past. From ‘Bazaar’ and ‘Kalyug’ on the big screen to the famous comedy serial “Khichdi” on the small screen, Supriya feels that good roles are a pleasure to enact, irrespective of the medium. Attributing her maturity to her better half, she says, “Being with Pankaj was, in itself, a learning experience. I never went to acting institutions in my life. In fact, I am a bharatnatyam graduate from Nalanda University and I always wanted to pursue dance. It was perforce that I entered films. Gradually life taught me more than any acting academy could ever have.” TNS


SMS, e-mail, cards — impersonal greetings are in
Monica Sharma

Happy New Year — to whomsoever it may concern. If you think people cannot be indifferent while sending New Year wishes, you are mistaken. Messages flashed on cellphones is a testimony to this, along with many unsigned and unaddressed cards received by a large number of residents from relatives and friends.

According to an estimate, about 50 lakh SMS messages were flashed this New Year. The rush, executives working with cellphone companies assert, was unprecedented in 2004.

They add that senders included young couples, professionals, public relation organisations and Armymen. They assert that messages in a large number of cases were sent in groups. In other words, the messages were not personalised.

“The senders simply keyed in a casual message or a couplet before going into the phone book and sending it to all their near and dear ones, besides business and professional associates,” an executive confirmed.

Another added that in some cases the senders did not even take the pain of keying in the message. “They simply edited the message before forwarding it to people with names mentioned in the phone book”.

Reacting sharply, Sector 22 resident Mohan Singh asserted, “You will find it hard to believe, but I actually received three forwarded messages with names of original senders mentioned. Apparently, my friends did not even care to read the messages before conveying them to me”.

His wife Manjit Kaur added, “Cards were also impersonal”. Giving details, she asserted, “I was always in favour of receiving and sending cards. Even when everyone was sending electronic cards, I made it a point to post greeting cards to my two sons settled in America”.

The reason, she said, was not hard to see. “Letters and cards are concrete and also personal. You can experience the warmth of relationship. You can feel them in your hands. They can also be preserved for as long as one wishes. But electronic cards are perishable. They are deleted soon after the occasion is over. Same is the case with SMS messages”.

She added, “This year, the cards we received were a big disappointment. Some of them had names of the senders printed. Others had simply scrawled their names without even addressing the card to the receiver. Almost all cards had typed names. In other words, there was nothing personal about them”.

Explaining the trend, socio-psychologist Radha Mishra says, “Nowadays, people neither have the inclination or the time to send cards after jotting full details. Otherwise also, electronic cards and messages are cheaper. But in the process the age-old tradition is suffering”. OC


Greetings from White House

The card received by Mr Kewal Dhillon from the White House
The card received by Mr Kewal Dhillon from the White House.

A meeting with US President George Bush a few years ago produced a pleasant surprise for Mr Kewal Dhillon, Vice-President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee and a noted industrialist, when he received new year greetings from the White House today.

Though Mr Dhillon was out of town when the card arrived, he was thrilled to hear about it on the telephone from his son, Kanwar. He is perhaps the only one in the city to have received a card bearing the signatures of the US First Couple.

Kanwar said his father had met George Bush in 1998 at Hawaii, where he had received a business award from him. He also had dinner on the occasion with former US President, George H.W. Bush and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Mr Dhillon is also the trade representative of the US state of Utah in India. Utah was the first American state to set up a trade office in India in 1999 for promoting bilateral trade between the two countries.

The card, made of cream coloured handpaper depicts a watercolour by Barbara Ernst Prey. Below the seal of the US President is a proverbial saying, “You have granted me life and loving kindness; And your care has preserved my spirit,” followed by seasons’ greetings and the facsimile signatures of George and Laura Bush. TNS


It’s my life
Dedication key to success

Life bereft of hard work and dedication is colourless and monotonous. I believe hard work never goes waste even if one does not achieve the desired goal. Each experience, good or bad, teaches us something and best lessons of life are learnt from failures. So I always strive to work hard and with complete dedication.

After finishing my schooling, I ventured into the world of design by joining a two-year course in graphic designing at NIFD, Haus Khas, New Delhi. A sponsorship by the Ministry of Textiles for a special education programme at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology), New York, opened the doors of the glamorous world of fashion before me. Fired by the ambition to pick up more from the fashion capital of the world, I got enrolled for a two-year degree course in apparel designing at the FIT. After graduating in May 2002 I got a chance to do my internship with a British designer, Mary Clayden, in California. This was followed by another stint as a technical designer with New Port News in New York. Nowadays there is no dearth of designers in our country. But originality is hard to find as there is a lack of dedication. As a designer I want to utilise the Indian sensitivity to colours and the Western sense of style to create vibrant clothes for the younger age group. With ‘Rubiayat’ I plan to present a fusion of Indo-western designs with an original streak.

As told to Geetu Vaid

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