SOCIETY

On a spicy wicket
Indiaís star cricketers, in addition to earning a fortune from the game and brand endorsements, are making a foray into restaurant business to cash in on the growing trend among urbanites to eat out, reports P. S. Shiva
C
ricket being the perennial garam masala of the nation, Indiaís leading players seem to be taking to the culinary business as they try to tickle the taste buds of their innumerable fans to fatten their purses.

ĎSex work is a profession like any other
Nalini Jameela tells Smriti Kak Ramachandran that sheís not ashamed to say it aloud
D
raped in a cotton saree, a solemn countenance and looking every inch an Indian matriarch, Nalini Jameela does not match the description of a typical sex worker. No garish clothes, no loud make-up and certainly no teasing body language.

A sacrifice to remember
K.S. Bains on Gurdwara Sis Ganj, which has been raised in memory of Guru Teg Bahadur. This is the fifth of the nine-part series on important Sikh shrines in Delhi
G
urdwara Sis Ganj is among the more important Sikh shrines. It encompasses the area where the ninth Guru, Guru Teg Bahadur, was martyred on November 11, 1675. There are two important points regarding his martyrdom.

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On a spicy wicket

Indiaís star cricketers, in addition to earning a fortune from the game and brand endorsements, are making a foray into restaurant business to cash in on the growing trend among urbanites to eat out, reports P. S. Shiva

Kaptainís Retreat: Kapil Devís super shot at the eatery business
Kaptainís Retreat: Kapil Devís super shot at the eatery business ó Photo by Vinay Malik

Cricket being the perennial garam masala of the nation, Indiaís leading players seem to be taking to the culinary business as they try to tickle the taste buds of their innumerable fans to fatten their purses. From Sachin Tendulkar to former skipper Sourav Ganguly, the number of cricketers who have launched eateries seems to be multiplying.

The credit, however, should go to Kapil Dev, Indiaís only World Cup winning captain, for having showed the way by starting a full-fledged hotel.

Soon after Indiaís historic triumph at Lords 23 years ago, the legendary all-rounder opened Kapil Hotel in Chandigarh. The compact 12-room (plus a suite) hotel was refurbished and adorned with Kapilís memorabilia last year. The restaurant is called Kaptainís Retreat now.

"In fact, in India, nobody is really into preserving sporting history. Thatís sad`85 This venture, though personal, is a small attempt to keep something for posterity.`85 Kuch to log ek jagah dekh sakte hain`85" he says. The bat with which he scored that memorable 175 against Zimbabwe in that World Cup as well as the flannels he put on in his last Test appearance in Hamilton now have the pride of place in the hotel.

Last year saw two new entrants in the eatery business: Zaheer Khan and the swashbuckling opener Virender Sehwag. While the Najafgarh man opened his signature vegetarian eating joint Sehwag Favourites in Delhiís Fun Republic Cineplex, Zaheer launched his multi-cuisine restaurant and lounge ZKís in Pune.

Zaheer is frank in admitting that the series of injuries that he has suffered in recent years prompted him to try his hand at restaurant business.

"A pace bowler is susceptible to injuries and his career, very often, does not extend beyond 35. There has to be something to fall back on after a cricketing career and, for me, food seemed the obvious choice since it is something I am interested in," says the pace bowler, now in his 20s.

The 8,000-sq feet restaurant has been set up by pumping in an estimated Rs 3.5 crore and provides Indian, western and oriental cuisine, as also a selection of fusion food.

Zaheer feels the rigorous travel schedule of an international cricketer enables him to pick up good first-hand knowledge of the cuisine served across the globe.

Echoes Jayendra Kulkarni, the General Manager (Sales and Marketing) of Tendulkarís swanky restaurant at Colaba in Mumbai that was opened in November, 2002.

"Cricketers like Tendulkar have the experience of savouring the dishes all over the world. Naturally, they have an idea of food served internationally. And as for Tendulkar, I can say that he is a keen and adventurous foodie. He believes that he can reach out to his fans more easily by catering to their gastronomic tastes," Kulkarni says.

In contrast to the highly priced swanky restaurants of Tendulkar and Ganguly, Sehwagís eatery is more affordable for the common man, with the most expensive item on the menu ó Multan Ke Sultan Ki Tigdi ó costing Rs 309 (in remembrance of the 309 struck by the dashing opener at Multan).

As the name of the dish suggests, the aim is to fully exploit the brand image of the star. This is true not only at Sehwag Favourites but each of the other restaurants as well. The eateries have cricket and the achievements of the player as the theme. For instance, two other dishes at Sehwag Favourites are christened Unbeaten Century Partnership and Half Century Partnership.

Similarly, several of the dishes in Tendulkarís eatery have been marked Sachinís Favourite, with the management claiming that authentic recipes prepared by the master blasterís family members, especially his mother (who is said to be the main creative force behind the popular Fried Bombay Duck) form an important part of the menu.

At Souravís eatery, which covers 12,000 ft spread across four floors, the coffee shop has been named One Day, while the continental and Chinese unit is called Over Boundary. The dining hall serving Indian and Mughlai dishes is Maharaj (Gangulyís nickname), while the lounge on the top floor goes by the appellation Prince of Cal (the name Ganguly is affectionately referred to as).

The restaurants also house cricketing memorabilia of the stars. Souravís joint proudly displays various prizes, including the Natwest Cup won by the former Indian skipper, while Tendulkarís showcases the coveted Player of the Tournament trophy won by the Mumbaikar in the 2003 World Cup among a plethora of awards and other collections.

Tendulkarís eatery goes a step further. It has a separate souvenir shop that sells merchandise ranging from colourful T-shirts, baseball caps, mugs, autograph books to china plates and crystal glasses.

The relentless promotions and good packaging of the respective brands have already made the eateries success stories.

Sanjay Das, the brand partner of Souravís restaurant, says on an average day the restaurant located on the upmarket Park Street at the heart of Kolkata sees a footfall of 250.

"We want it to run just like any other hotel. But yes, whether we want it or not, it has become a tourist attraction of sorts for people visiting Kolkata."

Kulkarni concurs. "We get cricket fans and Sachinís admirers from as far as London. The youngsters who love the cricketer so much are also there."

In fact, as an additional attraction for the tiny ones, Tendulkar has a kidsí room well furnished with gizmos like minis slides, mini cars and cartoons. ó TWF

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ĎSex work is a profession like any other

Nalini Jameela tells Smriti Kak Ramachandran that sheís not ashamed to say it aloud

Nalini Jameela
Nalini Jameela

Draped in a cotton saree, a solemn countenance and looking every inch an Indian matriarch, Nalini Jameela does not match the description of a typical sex worker. No garish clothes, no loud make-up and certainly no teasing body language.

Having made news with her candid confessions in the well-acclaimed book Oru Lygika-thozhilaliyude Atmakadha (autobiography of a sex worker), the otherwise soft spoken Jameela, who is also the co-ordinator of the Kerala Sex Workersí Forum, insists on being known as a sex worker.

Aiming to change the perceptions about sex workers and sex itself, Nalini, who is well past 50, wants the government and civil society to accept commercial sex as a profession.

Unperturbed by the consequences of giving out every little detail about her life, which to many remains immoral, Nalini went on to declare that she has had sex with 1,000 men and has no regrets. And this was not out of defiance, she says, it was an assertion that sex work is work.

Having been married thrice, she claims she turned to the worldís oldest trade to live and fend for her two daughters.

But in a society where sex is a three-letter expletive, it didnít help Nalini to come out in the open. "There has been severe criticism, but I am undeterred. I am not just a sex worker, but an activist, fighting for the rights of other sex workers," she says.

It was the lives that sex workers lead that promoted her to grab the pen. "I just wanted everyone to know the kind of life a sex worker leads. They face trauma because of the stigma that is attached to them. I have first hand knowledge of what a sex worker goes through and what she wants. I am not ashamed to say aloud that I am a sex worker," is her candid admission.

And once the book hit the stands, there were bouquets and brickbats in equal measure. While some chose to applaud her courage, others accused her of glorifying an immoral trade.

"There were many people who publicly stood by me, while some criticised me," she says. "My own elder daughter was embarrassed. While the younger one and her husband are supportive, the older one chooses to stay away."

Nalini, who made history with the first book, also has to her credit two documentaries. "To make these documentaries, one of which is on the life of sex workers, I went to Thailand to train in film-making. And, my book sold 10,000 copies in two months, the highest ever for a Malayalam book, I am also an AIDS educator," she says all this without the slightest hint of pride.

While the book gets translated into more than eight languages, Nalini wants to start a new organisation for sex workers. "I want to begin in South India, there are people from outside who are coming and forming organisations without having any first-hand knowledge of the trade and the people involved in it," Nalini says, referring to her future plans.

Actively involved in advocating the rights of sex workers, Nalini wants the government to not only give the sex workers their due but also wants them to acknowledge the role they are playing in curbing AIDS and trafficking in women.

"I chose the profession as I had little choice. A widow with two daughters, I had to do something," she says. "We sell sex, we do not rob people, we provide service to society. We earn a living, then why should we be denied workers status," she questions. Seeking workers status for her community, Nalini is angry about the amendments that have been made to the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act (ITPA). "We want the government to include sex as work in the national labour schedule. We want them to change the amendments that they have proposed in the ITPA because these will undo all the good work done by sex workers to curb the spread of AIDS," she says.

Part of the National Network of Sex Workers (NNSW), Nalini blames the government for threatening their livelihood. "Proposed amendments to the ITPA, like the clause 5 `A9, which calls for punishing clients should not be allowed. If you punish the client, who will come to sex workers. And if they do get a client, they cannot force them to use a condom, because then they will have little choice."

While she maintains that sex work is a profession like any other, Nalini wants the government to focus on trafficking of women, which is rampant. "The government needs to tackle trafficking, instead of clamping down on us and frustrating our efforts to protect and save people from HIV. The government is making the ITPA more stringent, because it is being done in the US and we are just following them," she points out, reminding society that sex workers are entitled to their place under the sun too.

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A sacrifice to remember

K.S. Bains on Gurdwara Sis Ganj, which has been raised in memory of Guru Teg Bahadur. This is the fifth of the nine-part series on important Sikh shrines in Delhi

Gurdwara Sis Ganj
Gurdwara Sis Ganj

Bhai Mati Das Chowk
Bhai Mati Das Chowk

Gurdwara Sis Ganj is among the more important Sikh shrines. It encompasses the area where the ninth Guru, Guru Teg Bahadur, was martyred on November 11, 1675.

There are two important points regarding his martyrdom. It is probably the only example in the world where the leader of one religion laid down his life for the protection of people of another religion. The martyrdom also marks the turning point in the history of India. It fully and finally set the Sikhs against the Mughal rulers.

To fully understand the importance of this gurdwara, it is necessary to go into the circumstances which led to the martyrdom. Aurangzeb, the great grandson of the great liberal Akbar, ascended the throne as a champion of Sunni orthodoxy. After becoming emperor, he not only ordered that no new temple should be built but also demolished many. A decade into his long rule, he thought of converting all Hindus in Kashmir to Islam.

Sher Afghan Khan, Mughal governor in Kashmir, set out to carry the emperorís task with a vengeance. Brahmins started fleeing the state and it is said that Lord Shiva appeared in the dream of one of the Pandits and asked them to go to Guru Teg Bahadur.

Kirpa Ram, leader of the Kashmiris, proceeded to Anandpur Sahib with nearly 500 Brahmins and requested Guru Teg Bahadur to save their dharm. Guru heard them with patience and assured them that nobody went empty-handed from the sharan of Guru Nanak. The Guru went into deep thought.

On being asked by his son Guru Gobind Singh the reason for his sadness, he related the plight of the Pandits and remarked that this would require the sacrifice of a religious person. On hearing this, the child Guru remarked, "Who could be better than you (Guru Teg Bahadur)." The Guru was happy to hear the courageous words of his son. He advised the Pandits to go to Aurangzeb and tell him that the Pandits would be happy to get converted if he could convert Guru Teg Bahadur to Islam.

The Pandits presented their petition to Zalim Khan, Governor of Lahore, for passing it on to the Emperor. Aurangzeb reached Delhi around the middle of 1665 and asked the Governor of Sirhind that Guru Teg Bahadur be brought to Agra. Here the historians differ. Some hold that the Guru went on his own to the Mughal emperor, while others think that he was brought by the Governorís men to Agra.

The Guru was accompanied by Bhai Mati Das, Dayal Das, Sati Das and Guruditta. From Agra, the Guru and his men were brought to Delhi. For a short period, the Guru was kept under house arrest and later he was shifted to Kotwali. Since the emperor was hopeful of persuading the Guru to embrace Islam, instructions were given that he be treated with respect and courtesy.

Aurangzeb offered the Guru many allurements but the Guru calmly replied that he had no desire for any reward. Aurangzeb gave him another choice and asked him to show some miracle. The Guru again replied that miracles were against the will of God, but said that Aurangzeb would see a miracle if he (the Guru) was executed.

Thereafter, the Guru was put behind bars and the emperor ordered the execution of Bhai Mati Das. Bhai Mati Das was chained to two pillars and was cut into two. At this spot, in front of Gurdwara Sis Ganj, there is now a fountain. Bhai Dayal and others accompanying the Guru were also cruelly executed here. This spot has now been named as Bhai Mati Das Chowk.

Aurangzeb fixed November 11, 1675, as the day for either the Guru to show him a miracle or be prepared to be beheaded.

The guru took his last bath from the nearby well and sat at the marked place.

Large crowds had gathered outside the Kotwali. The Guru sat under a banyan tree. He wrote something on a piece of paper, tied it to a string and put it around his neck. He announced that his miracle would be known from the piece of paper after he was beheaded. The executioner, Jalaluddin Sanan, drew his sword and with one sweep cut the Guruís head. It is said that Jalaluddin later disclosed that he felt no resistance when the sword went through the neck. On the piece of paper was written, "Sis diya per sar na diya" (I sacrificed my head but not honour). The spot where he was executed is where Gurdwara Sis Ganj stands today.

For nearly 100 years, the spot where the Guru was beheaded was lost and a mosque was built there. After Sardar Baghel Singh occupied Delhi, he entered an agreement with Emperor Shah Alam II which allowed him him to construct seven historic gurdwaras. Bagel Singh then started searching for the place where Guru Teg Bahadur was executed. He met many residents and ultimately came across a Mashkan, (wife of the Mashki) who had sprinkled water around the spot. She pointed to the mosque and the tree under which the Guru was martyred. Bhagel Singh began work to demolish the mosque but there was resistance from the local residents. The matter was reported to the emperor. He ruled in favour of the mosque being demolished and gurdwara being built there.

Soon after Baghel Singh left Delhi, the gurdwara was demolished and a mosque was again built at the spot.

Later, in 1861, at the request of Raja Sarup Singh of Jind, the British allowed the mosque to be demolished and the gurdwara to be raised again.

This move was challenged in the Calcutta High Court, which issued a decree for the construction of the mosque there. Raja Randhir Singh, successor of Sarup Singh, did not allow the matter to rest there. He took the case to the Privy Council and pursued it with great vigour. The council ruled in favour of the Sikhs. The gurdwara in its present shape came up in 1930.

Behind the gurdwara was the kotwali where the Guru was kept behind bars. The area where the Guru was kept imprisoned and the actual police station building was handed over to the Gurdwara Management Committee by the government.

The gurdwara is situated on the Chandni Chowk road. The footpath area in front of the gurdwara has a verandah with marble pillars. The grudwara is a two-storeyed building in red sandstone and beige Dholpur stone. At the base, the gurdwara is surrounded by a marble parikarma. There are protruding balconies with delicate jali work in stone. There are two chajjas on the two floors. The main entrance is two-storeyed high. The main dome of the gurdwara rests on a raised octagonal structure. There are four smaller domes around the main dome. There is another set of four domes, on octagonal structures, at the four corners of the gurdwara building. The curvature of these domes is different from that of the main dome.

In the kotwali area that has been added to the gurdwara is the Bhai Mati Das Bhavan. This has a beautiful fa`E7ade with a lot of carving work in beige stone. This bhavan has underground parking, langar and the museum of Bhai Mati Das, Bhai Sati Das, Bhai Dayal.

Recently, a lift has been installed on the right side of the gurdwara. The structure, in black glass and plain pink plaster, doesnít go well architecturally with the rest of the gurdwara building.

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