It is not just jewellery and clothes for the up-to-the-minute woman. She is now buying art.
Nirupama Dutt peeps into the collections of some women in the city for whom art works wonders

Harmeet Kaur with her red pottery from Cambridge and the recently acquired replica of Rodin’s The Thinker.
ART-SHART: Harmeet Kaur with her red pottery from Cambridge and the recently acquired replica of Rodin’s The Thinker. — Photos by Manoj Mahajan

One just cannot do without women if one is an artist. The gallery owners are women, most art critics are women and even the collectors are women.” This is what Manjit Bawa said in reply to a naughty quip in days when he was hale and hearty (he has been invalid the past year following a heart stroke) and playing great stakes on the art scene with more than one pretty woman in tow.

For heart’s sake

What he said was true and as far as individual art collections go, women today outscore men. Even in this city of ours it is not just gold diamonds and silks that women with taste and the money to go with it collect. In fact the up-to-the-minute woman is collecting real art. Mind you, this is not being done as investment but for the love of it.

Meet Harmeet Kaur, who over the past two decades has been collecting art and art memorabilia from shows in the city as well as outside, and now her home in Sector 8 is a haven of some fine conversation pieces scattered from the living room to the lobby; from the bedroom to the study. “My husband Sarabjit and I bought our first painting from a show by a Bengali painter held in the Panjab University Museum. It was a Kolkata tearoom scene and since he had studied in St. Xavier’s there, he was very nostalgic about it and agreed to shell out a couple of thousands.”

Rodin replica

Seema Bhalla with daughter Nandini, doggy Walnut and works of art
QUITE A COLLECTION: Seema Bhalla with daughter Nandini, doggy Walnut and works of art

For over a decade Harmeet (Hermie to friends) bravely fought cancer and coming out after a near brush with death last year, she made a trip to her favourite London town and now she is back with a limited edition, scale reduced, reproduction of Rodin’s famous Le Penseur (The Thinker), which is the pinnacle of the French sculptor’s art.

“Rodin’s show was on at Royal Academy and the monumental scale of real sculpture is amazing. The beautiful bronze replica proved to be irresistible and the lady in charge wondered how it would be sent but her boss came and solved the problems and helped us in parcelling it here. We were told that only two pieces had come and one had already gone,” she recounts.

Art kept adding cheer in her days battling with dreaded disease and she recalls buying local painter S.Raj Kumar’s work, The Aquarium, at a very reasonable price in the mid-Nineties and which she later swapped with a friend for Raj’s Dream of a Balloon Seller, which now occupies a pride of place in her living room.

Fine collection

One of the finest art collections in town is, of course, with theatre diva Neelam Mansingh Chowdhury adorning her beautiful home in Sector 4. Neelam started collecting young and the first work she recalls buying from Roshan Alkazi’s Black Partridge Gallery in the vicinity of the old building of the Cottage Industry Emporium on Janpath way back in 1974.

“I was at the NSD and an exhibition by artists from Baroda was put up at Roshan’s gallery and I bought one drawing for a big sum of Rs 100. It was a lot of money then and the drawing was by Archana Shastri.” Neelam was aware of art having done her masters in art history and subsequently she was gifted a lot of art by many painters. “I am lucky to have been given the drawings of Ebrahim Alkazi and Nasreen Mohammadi. An American buyer wanted to buy Nasreen’s works for a fortune but I would never part with these gifts.

While in Bharat Bhavan at Bhopal Neelam bought a painting of her favourite painter, J. Swaminathan. “Since he knew me, I was given a big discount and my most recent buy has been a work of city-bred Diwan Manna.

Prized possessions

Arty Seema Bhalla, who has recently taken over as secretary of Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi, has a keen eye for art and her home encases many prized possessions. She says: “ I would not boast of being a collector but I have gathered art that is very dear to me. I never go by the name but if a particular piece catches my eye and I can afford it then I buy it happily.”

She recalls that in Chandigarh in 1985, some sculptures were displayed in a cloth shop in Sector 17. “I bought one for Rs 350 for my husband was in a government job and there was not too much of money to spend on art. And you know that sculpture is by Jai Zharotia.”

Among her other prized possessions is are paintings by Roopchand, Narendra Pal and home grown Madan Lal. “Madan is one of the finest painters and the time to buy him is now for soon his works will be out of reach of modest collectors,” she says.

Gorgeously yours

After withstanding the test of time and feminism, traditionally-modern festival of Karva Chauth is attaining the proportions of a glamorous event even among the maidens in Chandigarh, says
Saurabh Malik

She is all set to pray for him religiously, and gorgeously. Though city-based ramp model Minaz is yet to lay her starry eyes on the shining knight of her twinkling dreams, the heavenly maiden is already savouring the idea of observing a fast for him on Karva Chauth after paying obeisance to a beauty salon. After all, she — like so many others of her age — needs a reason to celebrate an occasion called life, elegantly and gracefully.

Right fellows! Just because of this reason, the element of exquisiteness and splendor is fast finding its way into the traditionally-modern festival that has withstood the test of time, and feminism. So many gentlemen may have actually lost their weight in the still-referred-to man’s world with each passing year, yet the occasion is fast attaining the proportions of a fashion amidst so many youngsters.

Well, you can safely attribute the trend to so many sobbing operas on the television. For, you always find actors with impressive bindis on their foreheads trying to fit into the character of ideal partners in these serials.

In any case, Minaz and so many other youngsters like her plan to utilize some of their precious off-the-ramp time in getting patterns traced with henna on the canvas of their dainty hands in a parlor to shine in the spotlight. For, it’s a big occasion for any girl and marriage has got nothing to do with it.

Just in case you do not know it, even the henna is getting more artistic and stylish. Instead of just chuckling flowers and maharajas, you now have Arabian designs. Fine, but if you are finding it hard to digest the idea of decking up before fasting for someone you still have to place on the pedestal, ask the younglings. They will tell you all about the sacrifice in style. “I plan to forgo all the thoughts of munching my favourite bargain burger till moon rise just for the guy I am yet to finalize after dressing up for the occasion,” says Sapna Sharma, a first year Humanities student.

She has already thought of a guise to set the day ablaze. Rather, Sapna has pushed last year’s mauve salwar-kameez with rich zari work on the borders into the trash can of memory and is gearing up to pick up stuff that is not just glittery, but also dyed in the hues of affection.

“If all goes well, I will wear a flamboyant, chic, elegant and haute sari on Karva Chauth, the one embellished with a spray of Swarovski crystals,” she says. “The twinkling crystals will beam as the moon smiles back at me on the big night”.

To go along with the stuff, she is picking up something more daring like a backless choli, though her friend Natasha is going in for a spaghetti top. “The top blends the mod with the traditional to give you that ‘derring-do look’,” she asserts. For them, the gift and chunk jewellery shops across the city have stocked stuff that goes along with the mood. Instead of just customary bangles in myriad hues, you have the ones in gold and silver plated metal.

Flashing a broad smile, she says: “Bangles with nice little `ghungroos’ are also in rage. The ones with nice little bridges made out of beads swinging between the first and the last bangle are the latest scream. You will have to pull out something like Rs 350 for the dazzling stuff. But it is worth it”. 

Midas touch
Anandita Gupta

For all those who’ve been dismissing fashion as mere fluff, whimsy indulgence, here’s some news. Fashion, having descended from the haute ramps of cutting edge designers, has slowly crept into our daily lives.

And since fashion has sprung into our daily moods and celebrations; it assumes special significance during our festivals. Especially for the romance of an occasion like Karva Chauth, which involves a married woman’s dressing up in all her bridal finery, the fashion wand works fast and furious, to energetically transform every woman-next door into a Cinderella!

So all you city women out there forget fasting with dizzy heads and a desperate glimpse of the elusive moon, this Karva Chauth. Rather, jump into the Karva bandwagon in style. We splash some style tips for Karva dressing.

Long flowing, flamboyant skirts in Indian silks, brocades and georgettes would look great if paired with embellished camisoles in rich, banjara hues.

These skirts in rich fabrics can also be teamed with silk scarves and georgette kurtis, embellished with ethnic embroidery. You can get these custom made from your designer or even ask your boutique tailor to russle up something like this from any of your daaj-wari, chunky brocade or Kangivaram sarees.

Team up Karva opulence with doses of bohemia romance. Wear sheer kurtis in textured velvet, sequined lace, or appliquéd satin with fitted trousers and flowing chiffon draperies.

Ask your designer to use some offbeat embellishments on your karva dress. Shells, beads, metallic studs, coins, sequins, crystals, beads and feathers can also be affixed to your chiffon and georgette printed sarees to make them jazzy for the day. You can also take some gold woven zari borders and make interesting blouses and cholis with them, to wear with your designer sarees.

When everything would be experimental, why go for traditional colours? Play with dull gold, copper, ice-cold-silver, saffron, plum wine, military green and vivacious turquoise.

Think colourful pebbles slithering down a velvety smooth slope, splashing happy colours all around. Gleaming silver, sparkling gold, oceanic blue, emerald green and fiery red bangles gracefully sliding down your ice-rink smooth wrists serve the same purpose. And besides splashing colour to your personality, they bring out the sensual enchantress in every woman! So, pick the pair you fancy and let it swirl and swish sensually on that silken smooth arm of yours!

While the traditional glass and acrylic bangles are fast getting more ornate, the indo-western ones are a delicious blend of the folk and funky. Chips in Inderjeet Singh of Bittu Bangle and art jewellery, Sector 22, Chandigarh, “Kundan bangles are back with a bang. Most women are going for the richly embellished and gem encrusted [kundan acrylic] bangles. Beads and sippi-work on both metal and glass bangles are very hot too.”

Beauty Studio by Vidya Tikari
Shimmer & shine all the way

The time is right to doll up in dazzling attire and let the happiness of the wedding and the festive season light up your face. Wait no more as with a dash of shimmer with a matching iridescent liner, or a pumped-up rouge colour matching lipstick you are ready to play your part of a gracious guest or host. To catch up with all the party invites if you are wondering whether there are products that can double up or maybe triple-up as makeup, here is the to-do list.  

Use Iridescent power 

Iridescent Powder can make you glow like a 1000-watt bulb. The trick is the quantity and the applicator used. For those lucky ones with clear skin, iridescent powder can simply be brushed on the skin, without foundation, with a big face brush. A light application is all that is needed.  

For an uneven skin, use powder only down the centre i.e. forehead, eye, chin and under the eyes. With a little dusting, the face will glow. Avoid using it on oily face, instead, use it as an eye shadow on the lids.  

For a clean day look, use the powder as eyeliner. First apply Vaseline, then, with a flat, thin angular brush, apply the iridescent powder in a thin line above the lash line for luminescent eye effect and to make the eyes look much wider.  

For a frosted look, dab the Iridescent Powder straight onto matt lipstick. The best Iridescent Powder I would recommend is the Silver Mask by MAC.

Lipstick pencil

Pupa has come out with a rich maroon frosted colour, which is perfect for functions and festivals. Use the liner side of the pencil to line the lips as well as to line the eyes for a strong coloured effect. After lining the eyes smudge with either cotton bud or fingers. Pencil lipsticks are great for a quick touchup when you don’t have time. You could also use this same side as an eye shadow colour all over the lids. This colour goes very well with all pink, plum, maroon or silver and gold outfits. 


A kohl pencil can be most readily used in the eyes for defined look. The Lancome black kohl pencil is perfect for a typical Indian look required for the marriage season. It should be applied on the inner rim of the bottom and top eyelid. After applying the first layer, we reapply after 20 minutes to give a dramatic effect. 

To get a smouldering look for the eyes, use the kohl pencil as an eye shadow putting it directly on the top lid with a smudging brush, cotton bud or fingers. Keep the outer corners darker for an elongating effect and the same can be repeated on the bottom eyelids.


Gloss can make any face sexier and softer. A clear liquid gloss by Revlon or L’Oreal would be the best option and can be used on top of any lipstick colour for high shine. Mix it into lipstick and apply it on the lips. Gloss can be applied on the eyelids for a sophisticated look. Shimmer on the lips and bright and glittery eyes is perfect for bridal evenings.

Sreedhara Bhasin

Poet rocker Patti Smith once wrote – “I was dreaming in my dreaming, of an aspect bright and fair … I awakened to the cry that the people have the power, to redeem the work of fools, upon the meek the graces shower, it’s decreed - the people rule.”

I see terrific examples of Ganashakti on Chandigarh roads. One of the busy divided roads has been getting repaved. When the work started, one side that was being worked was cordoned off and traffic was diverted with utmost rigour. After a few days, I noticed that some smart alecks were turning into the wrong (incoming) side of the road and driving on. I even saw a policeman chastise an older gentleman duly over the matter. Then, more people began to follow the ‘smart’ ones. Now, a divided road, with one side closed, became a both way road. For the longest time, I avoided turning into the incoming lane and drive on like many others, and took the longer detour, till one day, I simply broke down and followed in a true herd mentality, all the others that were simply turning in.

If that was not bad enough, soon there were vehicles behind me that were overtaking me and forming two lines on one side of the divided road, meant now for both ways traffic and leaving no space for that to happen, howsoever. Seeing the emerging trend, I guess the policing ebbed away, for people had assumed power and changed the mechanics of traffic regulation!

Once while returning from the US, the flight had many Indians who seemed very eager to get off the plane. They also had a terrific amount of hand luggage. When the plane landed and was still taxing on the runway, some of them stood up and started opening the overhead bins to collect their belongings. The stewardess, who was still strapped in, began pleading, then cajoling and even screaming hysterically. Yet, with every minute, more and more people stood up to join the others and when the plane came to a full stop, we could definitely discern that people have once again assumed power!

Now, the other side of the road is being repaved. No signs were posted this time. The people by default figured out how the traffic would be re-routed. After all, it is a city of the people and by the people. Don’t we see enough people creating new art forms when it comes to standing in queues, getting into crowded elevators, buying movie tickets or maybe, popcorn at the theatres? Now that Diwali is coming – we will see the true power of the people in vehicular movement, shopping bids, restaurant seating, mithai selection and fireworks display. How much closer can you get to direct democracy?

Cross-border cuisine
Parbina Rashid

Photo by Parvesh Chauhan
Photo by Parvesh Chauhan

The explanation of the cook gets lost in the din as we media persons rush to the scene where tempting dishes with exotic names like Baruchi Dal, Yakhani Gosht and Khatte Pyaazwala Murg are laid down to savour. After all, with the cricket match just around the corner and so many Indo-Pak friendship programmes going on in the region, it won’t harm in acquainting ourselves with the culinary delights from across the border!

The dishes are being cooked by Chef Bharatendu Sharma, who was trained in Lahore and hence cent-per-cent authentic, we are assured by ‘Manor-26’ Director Manish Bajaj. The venue of course is the Manor and occasion is announcing of the Pakistani Food Festival, which starts from today and goes on till November 3, coinciding with the Champions Trophy.

So as we dig into Barauchi Dal, Peshwari Channa and Khatta Pyaazwala Murg with Lal Mirch Ka Parantha, Sharma explains to us, “except for Safforn, all ingredients are from here.” No wonder the food taste almost Punjabi. “Yes, their cooking style is almost similar to ours,” Sharma assures us just when we begin to think if something is wrong with our taste buds.

So if you happen to be a food connoisseur and enjoy savouring different varieties here is the complete list—Lahori Tali Machchali and Ghanauri Jhinga, Multani Paneer, Rawalpindi wale Aloo Badami, Sindhi Mutton Seekh, Seekh Peshwaawari, Islamabadi Kesar ka Murg Tikka and Gilaafi Seekh to start with. For the main course take your pick from Multani Magaz Masala, Tar Korma, Yakhani Gosht, Masaalewali Chaamp, Tawa Ke Chaamp aur Kaleji, Attariwala Butter Chicken, Hara Choliya te Paneer, Kofta Aloo Bukhaara, Lagan ka Saag, you name it they have it.

All the cricket actions will not be just at the stadium. Get ready to get caught in the fever at the Cricket Fever Bar, which has come up with interesting concoctions like The Wall of India, a combination of five spirits with lime, sugar and orange juice. There is also Multan ka Sultan, another whiskey based drink with lime, sugar and blue caracco. We are not qualified to comment on the quality of the drinks which are to dominate during the cricket season but names are innovative and interesting —Sachin’s Straight Drive, Bhajji’s Off Spin, Murli’s Doosra, Irfan’s Inswing, Mcgrath’s killer Ball and Boom Boom Afridi.

Does it also signify that Manish is expecting the cricket teams at his restaurant? “No comment” replies Manish, wearing all the dignity of an owner.

Well we let it pass. With food as yammi on the table, who bothers about visiting crickets? One can always go to the field for that kind of action. Howzzat?

For the perfect Mrs India

Maureen WadiaIt was a family affair of a different kind as hordes of beautiful women from the city putting their best foot forward at the selection rounds for Bombay Dyeing Gladrags Mrs India contest 2007, held at Hotel Mountview on Saturday. Cheered on by their families the contestants were under the watchful eyes of President Gladrags Beauty pageant, Ms Maureen Wadia. In her words it is a “contest for celebrating the married Indian women who their families are proud of.”

The contest has been won by model Aditi Govitrikar, Jasmine Dsouza, Tania Soni, Naina Dhaliwal, Shilpa Reddy, and Shilpa A Singh. This year’s winner will represent the country at the Mrs Globe International pageant at Las Vegas.

Making their claim at the title were city women and ladies from all over the country from cities like Chenai, Ahmedabad, Allahabad, vying to participate in the prestigious final contest. The auditions will also be held soon at Bangalore and Mumbai. The selected beauties will represent their state at the all India finals of Mrs India contest to be held in Mumbai in early December, 2006. Wishing the best for our city women lets keep our fingers crossed!

Grandma's glitter

For so many present perfect city residents, it's back to the past. No wonder, they are pulling out grandmother's jewellery from the recycle bins of their memories, and the bank lockers, for adorning themselves during the Karva Chauth and other festivals. Just for them, a designer from Shimla has set up an exhibition of Victorian jewellery at Aroma Hotel in Sector 22.

The two-day exhibition by Seema Puri is scheduled to continue till Sunday. Taking you around, Puri says: "The designs in jewellery have witnessed a glittering change over the past few years. Right, from heavy and chunky to intrinsic and lightweight! But now thing are about to take a full circle. For, more than a few residents are these days going in for antique jewellery in traditional hues, but modern styles".

She adds: "No wonder, grandma's old jewellery, discarded for being out of vogue and heavy, is finding its way in the closets again from the lockers".

Her collection of antique had-crafted, Victorian jewellery is intricately designed and has floral and geometrical shapes. Studded with American diamonds, kundan with polki, pearls, rubies, garnets, topaz, sapphires and other semi precious stones, the ornaments are simply dazzling.

"The ethnic Victorian hand-made jewellery, embellished with stones in myriad hues, especially designed to give it a contemporary look, is fast pushing other ornaments out of the vanity boxes", she says. "For, these ornaments are for just everyone - right from all those pretty damsels studying the book of style in colleges to young business executives working in multinational organisations".

Puri believes that the antique jewellery collection embellished with charm is the expression of elegance in itself. "That why the jewellery, designed with the help of semi-precious stones, glass and even American diamonds, is exported to countries across the seas," says Puri. India shining, indeed!

— Saurabh Malik 

Vision of Le Corbusier

To celebrate the master architect-planner’s birth anniversary on October 6, the First Friday Forum organised a special programme of an audio-visual presentation on Le Corbusier: 20th Century’s Renaissance Man by Dr SS Bhatti, former Principal, Chandigarh College of Architecture. The event was sponsored by Havell’s India Ltd. at their head office in Sector-26.

Dr Bhatti traced the development of “the man, who gave us Chandigarh, we all fondly call the City Beautiful, to become the greatest architect of the 20th Century. Le Corbusier, the adopted name of Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris, meaning ‘the crow’, created from the self-taught Swiss-born French Architect a perfect alter- ego. Jeanneret used the pseudonym Le Corbusier as if he were referring to a third person. This curious advantage he exploited to the hilt and succeeded in marketing his own masterly merchandise of modern urbanism, including his magnum opus: CHANDIGARH.

Driven by his own credo that “architecture, planning, sculpture, painting… are different expressions of the same sensibility, Dr Bhatti, asserted that Le Corbusier towered high above his peers. Three of modern architecture’s most hallowed shrines: Secretariat, Assembly, and High Court, created by Le Corbusier, are in Chandigarh. As a painter he was as great as Pablo Picasso, and as a sculptor equaled the stature of Henri Moore, Dr Bhatti said. His complete works published in 30 volumes are a treasure trove of inspiration for comprehensive creativity for all genres of professionals. To remember Le Corbusier is to live creatively in the thick of socially - beneficent action of far-reaching consequence, concluded Dr Bhatti. — TNS

Not so rocking

Tanuja Chandra, the director of Mahima Chaudhary starrer ‘Film Star’ is back with Sushmita Sen and Shiney Ahuja starrer ‘Zindagi Rocks’. Tanuja this time fails to deliver. The main attraction of this film Sushmita Sen is just average in her rock star role. ‘Zindagi Rocks’ is unable to hold the audience with its weak plot. Shiney Ahuja shows his versatility. Anu Malik’s music is quite different this time. Mudassar Aziz has penned good lyrics. ‘Zindagi Rocks’ which opened on Friday at Fun Republic comes from the banner of B.A.G. films.

Comedy of errors

Mera Dil Leke Dekho made under the banner of Shotgun Movies also opened on Friday at Fun Republic, Manimajra. Jackie Shroff, Koel Purie, debutant Pooja Mishra, Puneet Tejwani, Karran Kapoor and Archana Puran Singh perform well in this comic caper. Directed by debutant Rohit Kaushik, this one is undoubtedly a good ‘comedy of errors’ which can be best enjoyed at multiplexes.

Musical Mannat

B.A.G. films presents Mannat in Punjabi is inspired from a real incident. It is about love, passion, hatred, betrayal and romance. The flow of the story is good and interesting. The music is a winner. As for the actors Kulraj Randhawa looks good while Jimmy Shergill is does okay. Manav Vij, Kanwaljeet Singh, Deep Dhillon, Rammit Walia do well in supporting the lead stars.

— D.P.

Health tip of the day

People with long supple neck should strengthen the neck muscles, as they are more prone to develop pain in the neck than individuals with short stocky neck because of the greater leverage and demand placed on the muscles. 

— Dr Ravinder Chadha

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