TRAPPED in the trade
In some villages of the Bedia, Nat and Kanjar communities in Rajasthan, there are no women under 25 years. Here families force their girls into prostitution in cities like Delhi and Mumbai. Usha Rai visits these areas and recounts the plight of the girls who have to fend for their families while the men idle away the hours
hatouli, Bansi Paharpur, Khakranagla and Ludhawai villages, barely 20 to 30 km from the famous Bharatpur bird sanctuary of Rajasthan, are like umpteen other villages of India steeped in poverty and desperately trying to modernise. In the midst of ramshackle houses and narrow gullies with overflowing gutters, a couple of garish double storey buildings stand out like pimples on a scarred and pitted face.

Mekong magnificent obsession
John Keay recreates the tribulations and tragedy in French exploration of the Mekong river, reports Lieut-Gen Baljit Singh
n the last thirty years, four writers of travel and exploration have endeared a vast cross - section of readers the world over. Eric Newby’s narratives of routine encounters laced with subtle humour in A Short Walk in the Hindu-Kush won him a huge readership. Next on the scene came Bruce Chatwin whose first book In Patagonia was undoubtedly the work of a born, gifted writer. A pity that death snatched him young; a year before he was even fifty. All his three books won recognition: In Patagonia, a prestigious first book award, the next became a Hollywood film and the third was short-listed for the Booker!

The Khon Falls on the Mekong, the largest in the world, and tigers in the foreground. Nobility and the public watching a boat race in the Thai countryside
The Khon Falls on the Mekong, the largest in the world, and tigers in the foreground.
Nobility and the public watching a boat race in the Thai countryside.

Ozone hole may heal 
Scientists claim that the ozone layer hole seems to have stopped widening and it may recover fully in 60 years
r David Hofman and Dr. Susan Solomon, two of the scientists who helped alert the world to the existence of a hole in the ozone layer have said that they were hopeful that the ozone layer was recovering. "I’m very optimistic that we will have a normal ozone layer sometime, not in my lifetime, but perhaps in yours," BBC quoted Dr David Hofman, who works for the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as saying.

Rich haul of 7th century coins
he Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has confirmed that the 3,000 coins found in a field in Mathura district were indeed of antique value. The ASI chief here, Dayalan, said this was the biggest such find in the Agra circle and that the coins found in two copper vessels were of different periods between the 7th and 10th centuries.

Where freedom held fort
Himmat Singh Gill
teeped deeply within the 180 feet wide and 20 feet deep moat that girdles the Kot-Bagh Nizam or the Ahmednagar Fort of the Nizam Shahi dynasty (1490-1600 AD) lies a slice of resurgent India’s silent struggle for Independence.
The yard between the two barracks at the Ahmednagar Fort where Nehru and other freedom fighters did yoga and played badminton. — Photo by the writer
The yard between the two barracks at the Ahmednagar Fort where Nehru and other freedom fighters did yoga and played badminton

Picking up the pieces
Yu Zhixiao Zhang Haibo
orkers are clearing and sorting out pieces of the two well known but damaged Bamiyan Buddha statues in central Afghanistan, which might be rebuilt by the end of 2009. At the site in Bamiyan province, Afghan workers with yellow safety helmets are collecting pieces of the two statues with shovels and handcarts.

Lion of Punjab wows London 
Mike Lockey
new play, charting the life and times of Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780-1839), has recently been performed in London. The Lion of Punjab tells the incredible story of a man who became the ruler of Punjab at the early age of 10, on the death of his father, and who then went on to rule for 35 years.

Forty years of Robert Redford
In the last four decades, he has come a long way from just being a good-looking blonde. An Oscar-winning director, his commitment to parallel cinema is impressive, writes Ervell E. Menezes
obert Redford has always been one of my favourites over the years, not only because of his protean acting skills and his even more impressive show as a director but because of his commitment to parallel cinema through his Sundance Institute. He has the courage to break away from the Hollywood pattern which today seems to be scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Robert Redford and Mia Farrow in The Great Gatsby. Robert Shaw, Robert Redford and Paul Newman in The Sting
Robert Redford and Mia Farrow in The Great Gatsby. Robert Shaw, Robert Redford and Paul Newman in The Sting

Hrishida: Life at its gentlest
Saibal Chatterjee
hen a titan bows out of the scene forever, obit writers tend to quickly allude to the end of an era. With the death of Hrishikesh Mukherjee, however, it is not merely an era on which the curtains have dropped. A whole sensibility, an entire way of making films, has lost its greatest votary.

Hrishikesh Mukherjee made movies without selling his soul
Hrishikesh Mukherjee made movies without selling his soul

‘My Don is very different’ 
Subhash K. Jha
arhan Akhtar’s remake of the 1970s Amitabh Bachchan hit Don is 60 per cent complete and is likely to get a Divali release. "We are looking at a Divali release. The film is almost complete," Farhan said. "I’m not stressed. But it is a very hectic round-the-clock schedule. We are working like crazy," said Farhan, sounding far less relaxed than he usually does. He’s been shooting vigorously in Malaysia.



TELEVISIONMagic of make-up
by Ivninderpal Singh

Food Talk: Jigar ka tukra
by Pushpesh Pant

by Pushpa Girimaji

HOLLYWOOD HUES: Slapstick comes unstuck
by Ervell E. Menezes

by David Bird

ULTA PULTA: Milking faith
by Jaspal Bhatti


OFf the shelf
The last Emperor
V. N. Datta
Bahadur Shah Zafar and the War of 1857 in Delhi
S. Mahdi Husain.
Aakar Books, Delhi.
Pages. IXIX + 451. Rs 800.

He always strikes the write note
As Khushwant Singh turns 92, the ‘Punjab Rattan’ continues to work at the pace he always has. Humra Quraishi talks to the man who has written with malice about one and all, and even been unsparing about himself.

The voice of a woman
Harbir K Singh
I Have Seen That Face Before
Shomshuklla. Rupa.
Pages 63. Rs 296.

Gunning for growth
Prakarsh Singh
Propelling India from Socialist Stagnation to Global Power (Vol. I Growth Process and Vol. II Policy Reforms).
Arvind Virmani. Academic Foundation. Pages 372 and 436.
Rs 795 and Rs 895, respectively.

Old tales retold
Kanchan Mehta
The Rupa Book of Favourite Fairy Tales
Ed. Ruskin Bond. Rupa.
Pages 174. Rs 150.

Journeys in verse
Last Bus to Vasco Poems from Goa
by Brian Mendonca
Published by Brian Mendonca
Pages 68. Rs 150.

Creative tones
Surinder Singh Tej
Nadi Nu Vehna Paya
by Amarjit Ghumman
Lokgeet Parkashan, Chandigarh
Pages 96. Rs 120.

Back of the book
Decentring Empire Britain, India and the Transcolonial World
Ed. by Durba Ghosh & Dane Kennedy
Orient Longman.
Pages 406. Rs 745.