Objects take on a special meaning when they are part of the family folklore and some proud owners of such treasures share their sentiments with Parbina Rashid

It may not be in the league of Durian or any imported breed of furniture, but one look at this huge chest and you are hooked, lined and sinker. Majestically set in a corner, this heavily built mahogany coloured chest smells of the past and as you hear the owner talking about her prized possession that takes her down to three generations, you just begin to understand the meaning of the expression, ‘neighbour’s envy, owner’s pride’.

The envy part comes from the fact that since collecting antiques has become a fad now and one would give one’s eye-tooth to acquire one ‘made in Zirakpur antique gramophones’ or a oxidised antique look-like hookahs from Chandni Chowk in Delhi, here is a few lucky ones, who owns a few quite a few items which are not just genuinely antique and can relate to the history of each piece. Yes, we are talking about family heirlooms.

Treasure chest

Renee Singh’s recliner
Renee Singh’s recliner and Paramjeet Tewari with her great mother’s chest (below) Photos: Parvesh Chauhan and Pradeep Tewari

Paramjeet Tewari with her great mother’s chest

The first item catches the eye as you enter Paramjit Tewari’s drawing room, is the chest we talked about. It dominates the room with an aura, which makes you give up all your inhabitations and request your host at least one peep. The graceful host opens it up for you bits by bits, and you get to see the chor box, which used to be the safe in the earlier days, the cosmetic chamber. The original lining is still intact and smell that emits is ethereal.

“The chest belonged to my grandmother, who got it as her dowry container as early as in 1932,” says Paramjit, a pofessor in Zoology at Panjab University. It was later handed it down to her mother and now to her. “Even as a child I was fascinated by it and every time my grandmother used to open it, I would just run to have a look inside,” she recalls.

So inheriting this piece of furniture was great, but did bring her fair share of inconvenience. “Every time I changed my quarter in the campus, I had to break open entrance door to get it inside. But all said and once it sits in my drawing room with all that grace, it makes every bit of the pain worthwhile,” she says. So though her chest had got some varnishing done from time to time, the brass hinges and even the huge lock remains the same.

Shanghai keepsakes

Another proud owner of a similar chest is Billa Brar, the owner of ‘Little Kangaroos’, a play school on the Kishanganj road. The only difference here is it was imported from Shanghai where Billa’s grandparents had stayed a major part of their lives. “The chest came to us in the 30s and fascination it held for me when I was a little girl is still intact. The smell of the past is just overwhelming,” she tells us. It decorates her drawing room now. But the most cherished family heirloom for her is the 1 kg big milk jar, which her grandfather used throughout his life.

“This was another import from Shanghai and since at that time, there was no jar for measuring liquid in our area, it was a great source of pride and joy for the family,” says the lady.

Lahore legacy

For Renee Singh, her farmhouse in Ambala is choc-a-bloc with family heirlooms but her grandfather’s foldable recliner is what catches her fancy. “It came from Lahore where my grandfather used to hold his office before the Partition. Even now when I sit down and relax I feel the magic of the bygone era,” says Renee. Well, that’s one thing. Another item, which Renee holds dear, is her great-great grandmother’s brocade dupatta that she converted into a shirt for one of her modelling assignments way back in the Eighties embroidery was done in zari made of pure gold which looks still fresh as ever,” says Renee. And age? “About 200 years,” comes the answer.

Lucky Renee and the others, to be able to be part of a different era, a different century! But then with luck also comes responsibility—the responsibility to carry forward the family tradition.

Corporate culture

Now that the city has its share of corporates and many more are likely to descend upon what was once a sleepy little town, it is time indeed to talk of corporate culture. Of course, some months ago the city corporate folks were pained to see their picturisation in the film, Corporate. That was not the way they were. What then is corporate culture? Organization culture is like pornography; it is hard to define, but you know it when you see it. This is what Ellen Wallach says and there are other opinions. Some enthusiastic folks see roots of this culture in the wisdom of none other than the Chinese philosopher dating back to 479 to 551 BC. Yes, the very same Confucius who had said: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”

American chopsuey

Appropriating the Chinese savant for a culture that is all-American in its sense and sensibility may not be all that amiss. For Hindi-Chini bhaichara may have been short lived but Amriki-Chini dosti has longer innings. Now detouring a bit from the theme, I recall an interesting anecdote. Hindi short story writer Kamla Dutt was visiting the city way back in the Eighties and fondly went to meet the renowned poet of the city, Kumar Vikal. Based in Boston, she urged Vikal to visit the U.S. for that she added was a country for people like him. The Maoist-Marxist poet was most offended but do the lady honour he merely said: “Amrika jaane ki to lagbhag koi ichha nahin, ho saka to China jaana chahoonga.” The joke would no be lost on many because it belongs to a time that is forgotten history. Now cultures are deliciously in fusion like the American chopsuey smiling with the sunny side of the fried egg up.

Filmi funda

No more detouring and one should be back making a point and by corporate culture one is not talking about the culture within but what the corporates are doing to promote culture without by way of sponsoring the performing arts and other activities. Well, the corporates have been sponsoring some good music and theatre and some bad too but we will come to that later. It is another matter that the audience is invariably the same. Airtel, on the other hand, has decided that filmi funda is the best. After a special show of Krrish, they held a special show of remade Don. Both were held at the Fun Republic after 10 pm and so media persons who get free only late enjoyed these movies. The film tickets were accompanied by aerated drinks and popcorn coupons. Now that they are on this filmi trip, next time it would be a better idea to give chocolate caramel popcorns for that would be more American and more with-it.

Educating Chitkara

Now being with-it can sometimes boomerang as it did with Chitkara holding shows of the Mumbai-based comedies, the last being a show of The Perfect Wedding that had a tele-star cast. Being wary of such dramas, one just went there thinking that one might as well watch what the elite of the city is watching. It was a painful, ribald and vulgar play that would have put Danda Kondke of the double entendre fame to shame. Now it wouldn’t do to educate Chitkara, the premier educational corporate of the region, but one cannot but say that go for better stuff. There is far better stuff available in this region and that could be promoted. Chitkara on the other hand seems to have made amends by being co-sponsors to Neelam Mansingh’s adaptation of Girish Karnad’s play Naga Mandala. Keep it up!— Nirupama Dutt

Of spaces within 
Gayatri Rajwade

There is an underlying lyricism to it all. A dramatic narrative distinguished by a zesty nip in the air, the winding narrow cobbled pathway that leads to the small amphitheatre, to the plaintive sound of the flute and the discordant clash of a thali.

It is here that Naga-Mandala comes alive contrasting fervently with its surrounding space. And it is here, as in all of Neelam Man Singh Chowdhary’s plays that the space ‘speaks’. As the play unfurls, the ‘grandeur’ cannot be missed. The uneven walls and seats, the fresh whiff of leaves closing in for the night, the drop of the dew as it gently touches the hair all make you, the viewer, feel bewitched. Written originally in Kannada by Girish Karnad, this passionate tale of duality—literal and metaphysical—directed by Neelam Man Singh Chowdhry touches the imagination, sparking a wildfire of ‘what could be,’ within.

And surrounding the narrative itself is this lovely setting, a stony lushness, which obliges itself to a tale fierce, ardent and gripping.

Herein lays another tale. “I remember my guruji Karanthji (the late B V Karnath) telling me that work must get associated with space. When I came to Punjab in 1984, I fell in love with the Rock Garden and started doing my plays here,” explains Neelam.

Of course it is not easy, a veritable mela because everything from the lights to the sets to the props to the space needs to be planned. “Not just this, there is a constant steam of people wanting to know if there is a shooting happening here,” smiles Neelam, but to her it is worth the effort.

“When you are a local to the area you must explore the spaces around you,” she insists. And she really does follow her own counsel.

The stage hewn out of rock, with the musicians perched to one side and the narrative unfolding in the middle is sprinkled with props.

Muted lengths of woven, patch-work fabric hang in the backdrop while the set comes alive in a riot of colours with beautifully crafted trunks (set designer and Neelam’s son Kabir’s creations), lovely pieces of cloth, a gaily done up interior of a home and even a spryly created dog out of pieces of cloth.

The gay vibrancy provides the perfect foil for a dark tale that unfolds. Magical, mysterious, stirring and rousing—as the ‘husband’ swells, rises and falls in a tub metamorphosing into the passionate ‘Naga’, the imagery does not conform to the form of a physical creature but in the startling realisation of an image in a mirror that the audience gets to know of, only through the dialogues. As the narrative sweeps along, the Naga, is the form of a long yielding length of fabric acts as passion and realisation between the protagonists layering this tale with textual and philosophical nuances that mesmerise.

The play, media sponsored by The Tribune, is being staged at the Rock Garden, Phase I, Nek Chand Amphitheatre 7:00 pm till November 1. 

When the city sleeps…
Gayatri Rajwade

When the world sleeps this artist awakens searching for images in the blackness of the night. In a country where the ‘Electricity Fairy’ (read electricity) is as rare as it is precious, Yann Toma gives stimulating life to images he seeks and creates.

This may sound surrealistic but that is precisely what Toma’s images are. In a series of photographs shot all over India and all in the deepness of the night when just a few stragglers are awake, French photographer, artist, explorer, clicks pictures gilded by the light of torch-lights against backdrops vibrant and stark which speak eloquently of the electric energy that emanates from each person. This energy highlighted by his own splurge of intense creativity is what makes his photographs and his ongoing exhibition aptly titled ‘Good Vibrations’ at the Alliance Française de Chandigarh so appealing.

These are striking works of art displaying the innate vitality hidden in each object, animate and inanimate, which comes alive more forcefully shot in the dead of the night as they are. And that is precisely why the first photograph of the ‘Electricity Fairy’ is so effervescent.

In a country where electricity is still scarce, this alluring figure of a woman in a black sari, shot against illuminated buildings springs radiance, manifested by washes of light creating an aura around her.

What is interesting is that Yann Toma is the President of a fictitious company, Quest Lumiere, where recuperating archival elements of an old electricity company in the early 1990s, he appropriated a symbolic network, a factory infrastructure which he made his research territory and even the subject of his activity.

Even in India he explores the force of electricity within and without and particularly charming are the two photographs of the kathakali dancer whose form shot against stark black pulsate with the divine energy of dance, making the images seem ethereal.

In fact it is the scrawls and wavy lines of light that give shape and character to the images. Apart from the glow in the swishes and squiggles of light there is also the play of light and shade which is fascinating.

Olive green trees tinged by light, cobbled-stone pathways peeking through shadows where a cow sits still, inky-blue skies here dark, there lit-up are incidental yet integral to the profound image each image has on the viewer. One cannot help but notice this constant interplay between each aspect of the image, as if engaging in a dialogue but not taking away from the central theme.

While in one image doodles of light enhance the text on billboards, in others skeletal figures dominate, etched in light. One particular image that stands out is of five men haloed by sparkles of electric light, fringed by a transformer in the backdrop, the bright and yellow light dazzling the frame.

In another a waterway of ‘fiery’ seems to emerge from a man playing the drum in a discreet, hidden space, while people around watch from the shadows. Similarly, a beautifully captured picture of men evoking spirits stands out for the eerie haze of a third present in the frame—hand on the board, the rest of him not really there and finally one of green fields starkly lit at night, palm fronds tinged scarlet and the road in-between glowing vermillion red is striking for its composition.

Do take a peek at Yann Toma’s digital art at the Alliance Francaise de Chandigarh, Sector 36 from 9 am to 7 pm till October 30. 

Transparent Art
Lovkesh Kumar

“We are in this profession to save our family tradition, and we decide to continue with our mission till the day we live,” says Bharat Kumar from Delhi, who is here to give finishing touches to the cut glass project at Dhakoli, Zirakpur.

The entire work is based on imagination of the artist. The work is being executed phase wise, first of all a chemical-based coating is inlaid on the wall. Once it get dry, the picture of the God, which is made on the plain glass filled with fabric colours, pasted from the inner side to the wall so that the beauty of the picture can not be destroyed.

Then scenery in combination to the God’s picture is then drawn on the walls.

The glass used for beautification and shine is chemically coated on one side with the layer of silver filled with different colours with the helps of machines. They are engraved with different designs, paintings and figures.

Bharat Kumar visits Zirakpur to covers the entire section of the Mandir with the small cut glass embroider with art and picture.

Nature plays an important role in his art. “One can’t complete the picture of a god without nature,” he says. The walls are inlaid with tiny mirrors, which are the best specimen of the glass mosaic decoration of the artist. A large no of the God’s pictures have also been exhibited on the sidewalls.

One can see the huge portraits of the Lord Shiva, Ardh Narieshwar and other God’s decorated in cut glass. The walls, ceilings and pillars are covered with such works. The mirror work reflects minute detailing, paintings in colored glass depict stories from Hindu scriptures.

Talking about the future of the cut-glass work, Mukesh says the demand is now not like before. Its only places like Haridwar and Rishikesh where one gets to see such works, he adds.

The size of the paintings depend on the demand of the buyer and of course on the budget available. A standard size painting comes for about Rs 5000. 

A thorny affair
Rajiv Bhatia

FLOWERY DATE: Gurdeep Singh has green fingers for sure. — Photos by Parvesh Chauhan

Gurdeep Singh has green fingers for sure

Collecting rare plants is more than a hobby. It’s a passion. Nothing else can explain the presence of so many exotic plants imported from across the seas in the Sector 29 house of Gurdeep Singh. Meet this nature lover, whose religion is collecting, nurturing and doting a variety of plants. Gurdeep, who comes from a humble farmer family, is in love with plants right from his childhood.

He nurtures with great care his treasure trove of rare varieties of cactus and other flower plants. These plants from various places in the world need the right atmospheric conditions to grow. So it is not an easy job to nurture those rare varieties like euphorbia gottlebei, euphorbia bupleurifocia, milli hys, adenium hys, lungia mama, uncarina decaryi seedpod, astrophytum ornatum, zumno calsium, corypantha eliphantidens, pachipodium sondrosi, haworthias and others that add grace to his home garden.

His odyssey of plant-collection, which began with flower plants, began in the eighties has now turned into an obsession of collecting rare cactus plants.

Today he has a collection of 250 plants or so of various types in his garden. But going commercial is not his intension. “I do not want to do business,” says Gurdeep. Though nurturing small plants, according to him, is a costly affair.

He sows seeds in a small area and arranges sand from Chamkaur Sahib and Naraingarh. He also gets seeds from Bhimtal as well as from Thailand.

Gurdeep adds: “I shower lot of care and affection. I look after them like my own children.” He has not participated in any competition as yet. He says, “I grow them out of love, not for showing off.”

His source of inspiration is none other than Dr M.S. Randhawa (the first Chief Commissioner of Chandigarh). “I got into this hobby when I was living with them with my parents near Kharar. I was fascinated by the flowers that grew in his garden. Seeing his love and dedication, I too embarked on a similar venture—starting my own small garden!”

Mongolian maza
Gayatri Rajwade

Also watch out for all the cricketing excitement at Café 17 which will show all the matches on their large screen along with cuisines from the continents / countries participating in the tournament.

Cafe 17, The Taj, a Mongolian foodie invasion and left people wanting more
SIZZLE & SPLUTTER: Cafe 17, The Taj, a Mongolian foodie invasion and left people wanting more: — Photos by Vinay Malik

Cafe 17, The Taj, a Mongolian foodie invasion and left people wanting more

As the sizzle and sputter of the grill comes alive, the piquant sauces hop into the air wafting down to where you sit enticing your taste-buds and curling under your tongue. This is the Mongolian Barbeque at Café 17, Taj Chandigarh where in the age-old tradition of savouring food, you can linger over delightful morsels of food being cooked on a slow fire, retaining the pink of the salmon, the creamy-white of the succulent lobster, the verdant green of the Pak-choy or the spry red and shiny yellow of the bell-peppers.

A cuisine ‘inspired’ by meats, garlic, onion and butter amongst other things Asian (read Asian mutton, beef, gazelle and even camel and horse!) finds a more palatable ‘avatar’ here in the form of healthy stir-fry and yes plenty of sea-food giving seas and oceans that flaming Mongolian twist!

With soft music floating through the air, the sound of water tumbling down the wall and sheer gossamer fabric ‘lining’ the starry skies, the patio outside the Café comes alive with baskets of vegetables, beady-eyed crustaceans, chicken and fish steaks and even baby octopus.

And that is the joy of this meal. From octopus to smoked salmon, lobsters, tiger prawns, fresh water shrimps to red snapper steak, squids, cuttle-fish to dices and slices of sole-fish to even the ubiquitous lamb and chicken in steak, sausage and slice form all there for the asking. What is more, vegetarians need not despair.

From silky smooth tofu to cottage-cheese, bell-peppers, spring onions, zucchini, Bombay onions, broccoli, pak-choy, red and green cabbage to twirls of black fungus there is a wide variety to select.

Once you choose your meats and vegetables, take it across to the chef and combine it with the choicest sauces or marinades to be grilled on the spot.

And yes, the sauces—black bean, chilli oyster, chilli butter, tangy mustard, white garlic (a mix of garlic and butter) to golden garlic—to name just a few will take to an ‘all foodie-high’!

Executive Chef A. N. Mishra calls it the enviable ‘low-cal’ food, “stir-fried and tossed on the grill along with steamed vegetables or a potato preparation to go with the steaks and steamed rice or noodles to go the Mongolian sauces, you get food freshly prepared in front of with lots of helpful hints if you are not to sure of what to mix,” he smiles.

While the alfresco dining experience at the live barbeque will be Rs 600 per head, it can also be combined with the ongoing buffet laid out inside for Rs 900 per head, all for all you can eat, of course!

Finally is there a catch? Yes there is—the barbeque will be available only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, so take a quick detour before you hit the nightspots on weekends and dig in! 

Akangsha dons role of Meerra

Akangsha Rawat
Akangsha Rawat

With small screen offering great opportunities to actors and many are seen making a name for themselves. Akangsha Rawat is one of them. Akangsha with her cute smile and girl next-door looks is a woman of substance. She is all set to play the character of Meerra in Sahara One Television’s new show Solhah Singaar, which premieres on October 30 at 8.30 pm, Monday to Friday.

The character played by her is bubbly, charming and blunt... and yet so adorable. She is happiness and loyalty. She is virtue.... and she is pride. She lives in her own world, a world, which she thinks to be picture perfect.... a bed of roses. She is Meerra, the epitome of progressive woman in the serial Solah Singaar produced by Jai Mehta Productions and directed by Pawan Kumar who has previously directed shows like Sindoor...Tere Naam Ka, Ek Ladki Anjani Si and Piya Ka Ghar.

Akangsha Rawat takes on questions about her role in the show.

So Akangsha, how did you bag the lead role of Meerra?

I am really fortunate to be associated with Sahara One Television who saw the fire in me the novel opportunities to play the role of Meerra, a carefree teenager who thinks the world to be picture. The apple of everyone’s eye in the Bhardwaj family. My joy knew no bounds when I managed to bag a great role.

What is the serial about?

It is the story of a young charming happy-go-lucky girl Meerra and her family based in holy city of Benares. The show traces Meera’s life that is set in Benares, a city steeped in time, memory, devotion, knowledge and experience far beyond imagination.

How has the experience with co-stars and the crew been?

Overall a memorable one. Working with eminent actors Sudha Chandran, Mrinal Kulkarni and Anuj Saxena has been great. The cast and crew have been helpful throughout and working with them has been a learning experience. The production house is very professional and every encounter has brought in different realisations that will probably be useful for all future assignments.

Overall, I can say that Solah Singaar is one of a kind that is giving me, as also the audience, to show something new. — DP

Shooting in the wild
Vishal Gulati

Syed Fayaz
Syed Fayaz

Don’t buy wildlife trophies, products and apparels made of animal skins,” says wildlife filmmaker Syed Fayaz, who was in the city recently. “Despite stringent laws, poaching continues to flourish throughout the world, especially in Asian countries. A large number of species like the turtle, jungle cat, sambar, Indian monitor lizard, hog deer, barking deer, hare, wild boar and the red jungle fowl are hunted for culinary delicacies and some endangered species like the otter and the tiger are killed for pelts,” says the filmmaker, whose award-winning documentary, “A Brush with Death”, is about poaching of the mongoose for making drawing and paint brushes.

The documentary showcases how tribes are involved in hunting the mongoose for its flesh and hair. For 1 kg hair, nearly 25 mongooses are killed. “Documentaries are an effective medium to sensitise the common men about the importance of wildlife,” he believes.

His another investigative documentary is on threats to the otter.

“…And Then There Were None”, the 15-minute documentary on the rampant poaching of the otter, shot in Jammu and Kashmir, reveals the shocking illegal fur trade of the animal. These playful animals are being killed for their highly-prized pelts, which are smuggled out of India to make fur coats and trimmings. The wildlife trade worth billions of dollars is second only to narcotics and has threatened many species with extinction.

“What has always shocked me is that we all tend to focus on big animals and ignore the rest, as if small animals don’t matter. Every animal and insect has its role to play. If we lose one of any species there is definitely going to be an after-effect.

The trade of butterflies is flourishing these days and India is emerging as a major centre. Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia are emerging as major hubs for butterfly trade, where these tiny creatures are used for decorating paintings.

There has been a sharp rise in the poaching incidents in recent years in India. If they keep on vanishing with such speed, the days are not far when we will see them only in zoological parks,” appeals the conservationist.

Attacking teachers is no answer

Teachers have traditionally been called gurus and they have been worshipped no less than Gods in our culture. For an auspicious start it was a must to take the blessings of the teacher or guru. Time may have changed many things but success cannot be achieved without a good teacher.

Organizing rallies against teachers is a trend that needs to be discouraged, as it is becoming a tool of showing disrespect for them. Parents being the first teachers of a child need to instill in them respect for their teachers. It is a matter of great regret that students are going to the extent of manhandling their teachers and even beating one to death.

The cultural richness, which showed in the teacher being revered for his ability to guide the student on the path of righteousness, seems to have withered away with such gruesome incidents taking place. Solutions can always be worked out in case of any impasse and the situation can always be resolved amicably and that too without use of any violence. We must look at the reasons to weed out the anomalies in our education system that leave teachers at the receiving end. — Navneet Kaur Hundal

Time for the Pumpkin

We recently cleaned and decorated our homes for Divali and Eid, so why miss the opportunity to celebrate Halloween, celebrate the spooky holiday, replete with the delights derived from dressing up in scary or bizarre costumes. This is the night when all the ghosts and witches come out in their party best to scare the hell out of you!

Without chalking out the origin of Halloween, it is a wild fun holiday. Remember, ghosts and ghouls know no rules. So do some experimenting with your interiors. Seek new ideas for creative landscaping. Keep the spooks gay with lighting up your exteriors innovatively.

Halloween is unimaginable without the pumpkins and anything in bright yellows or oranges. Bring out the spiders, ghosts and witches, as well as jack-o-lanterns, which you can make yourself by taking a fresh pumpkin. Now slice open around the top to scoop out the flesh and then carve a spooky toothy scary face on one side of the pumpkin. Drill two holes to hang the jack-o-lantern. Put a candle inside the pumpkin and replace the sliced out top.

Put the larger pumpkins on the floor along the driveways, in the corners of your verandha, on a console or even in your lawn amongst the flowerbeds. Hang smaller ones from the tree branches or cluster them together on coffee table. You would have used ‘garbarhas’ during Diwali, try jack-o-lanterns for a pleasant change on Halloween.

A splendid idea for novel jack-o-lanterns involves using a hardshell gourd instead of a pumpkin. These gourds dry to a woody consistency, and can be re-used as outdoor Halloween decorations year in and year out. Kids can even use these when going around the neighbourhood asking for ‘Trick-o-Treat’, when your neighbours give small token gifts and sweets to them in return.

Let the Edwardian Butler wait upon your guests, and shriek the witch on broom away to the skies. If Gothic dressing is too black and vampires for gory for you, then opt for the clowns to entertain, though a magician for the night would be too perfect. How about a dry straw stuffed scarecrow in gladrags around your entrance with a black cat and a frog wizard around his feet. Would you consider a Lacy Pirate or a Bohemian girl instead to welcome your guests?

Halloween entertaining seems to be filled with a special joy. It is suddenly appealing to turn on the oven and bake something warm and toasty to share with friends and loved ones. Table settings, centerpieces, and decorations can be put together with colorful pumpkins, bright potted mums, stalks of wheat, and almost anything from the fresh produce.

Bright orange flowers in a black basket truly demonstrate Halloween spirit. Pumpkins harvested from the garden to stand side by side with chrysanthemum flowers look bewitching, to tempt images of witches, ghosts and other macabre elements.

Display mini-pumpkin arrangement on a small table or shelf, or make several for your friends as return gifts. Place wheat stalks over the dry leaf clusters in your hand. Cut extra length off the bottom of the wheat stems and tie them off with orange ribbons. Any kind of platter can be used as a centerpiece base.

Place a large pumpkin surrounded by mini-pumpkins and apples on a base of preserved autumn leaves. Plain ivory plates set on fall floral placemats with sage green napkins are perfect for a Halloween feast. A green tablecloth and yellow napkins offer contrast for the red and orange leaves in another centerpiece.

So, are you ready to put your fangs with an owl on your shoulder to ‘Trick-o-Treat’? If the answer is still in the negative, then think again. Don’t we do the same during Lohri night?

Courtesy: A.P. Singh, Besten & Co. 

Kidman gets family support

Nicole Kidman
Nicole Kidman

While singer Keith Urban had wife Nicole Kidman “at his side” as he checked into a rehabilitation treatment centre, the Oscar winning actress’ family is standing by her in her time of need. The country star, who married Kidman, 39, in June, has suffered a relapse in his battle with booze. And according to The Mirror, the Moulin Rouge star is getting the much required strength from her dear old dad, who co-incidentally also happens to be a top psychologist. Sources say that Nicole has been having long-distant chats with Dr Anthony Kidman ever since her husband Keith Urban checked into a Nashville rehab centre on Friday.

Demi in love again

While he’s still to be rewarded for his grueling daily workout to get into good physical shape by his fans, actor Ashton Kutcher admits his newly toned physique has gone down well with his wife Demi Moore, insisting she just can’t keep her hands off him now. Kutcher, who celebrated his first wedding anniversary with Moore on 26 Sept (06), followed a tough exercise regime to get in shape for his role in his latest movie The Guardian. And the 28-year-old is happy with the results, as he insists it has made Moore, 43, fall for him all over again. “The new look’s gone down very well with my wife. She’s pretty much fallen for me all over again,” Contactmusic quoted him, as saying. “I worked very hard with a trainer to get into good physical shape because I didn’t want to represent these coast guards without emulating them physically - and their physical condition is second to none. They are so fit and muscular that I had to get to that point,” he added.

Beckhams for a cause

David Beckham
David Beckham

Former England captain David Beckham and his wife Victoria have reportedly shelled out $ 7,200 to buy a special bed for a six-year-old girl with a rare medical condition, so that she can sleep at night. Alice, the girl, suffers from microcephaly, which means that she still has the mind of a baby. Her mother, Joanne Lee, wanted to buy the expensive bed for her, but was unable to raise the funds. In a last ditch attempt to secure the cash, she wrote to the former Spice Girl’s mother, Jackie, and the Beckhams immediately agreed to spend for the bed. “I decided to write to Jackie on the off-chance, but I didn’t think I would ever hear anything back,” Contactmusic quoted her as saying. “Then I got a call and a voice said, ‘This is Victoria Beckham’s mum.’ I just couldn’t believe it. I was jumping around. It has given me new respect for the Beckhams,” she added.

Wedding bell for Kate Moss

It seems Kate Moss and Pete Doherty are not just going to culminate their much hyped on/off affair into marriage, but they are also determined to host it at the same venue where Sir Paul McCartney wed his first wife Linda. The couple have reportedly decided to exchange nuptial vows at the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll wedding venue - Marylebone Register Office in London famous for its rich musical history. The old Marylebone town hall, now officially called Westminster Register Office, has in the past been a witness to many famous couples’ nuptials, including Macca, who married Linda there in 1969, and Oasis singer Liam Gallagher who wedded Patsy Kensit there in 1997.

“Kate and Pete have decided where they will get married and they are close to finalising when.

What the cards say today...

ARIES: For future plans it could be time to think the unthinkable. You suddenly have the power and the desire to make dreams come true. Tread carefully in romantic affairs for someone close to you is particularly sensitive. Turn your attention to exercise and diet. Lucky colour: Lotus pink. TIP OF THE WEEK: Don’t enter into a conflict in a mater that doesn’t concern or affect you.
LIBRA: You display of strength and courage in the face of trouble and come through crisis successfully. An Aquarius person has a positive influence in your love life. A trip overseas can be planned. Niggling doubts in your mind can be removed and minor ailments can be healed with yoga and meditation. Lucky colour: Electric blue. TIP OF THE WEEK: Think positive and be optimistic. 
TAURUS: Agreements, contracts, and joining your efforts with others will work out very much to your advantage now. A trip is on the cards. Duties and obligations seem burdensome or at least emotionally restricting to you, and you may feel self-pity. Meditation for higher level of consciousness. Lucky colour: Royal blue. TIP OF THE WEEK: Unfinished business will unleash new problems. 
SCORPIO: Your card ‘Nine of Swords’ shows overall a prosperous week. You will be especially attracted to things of beauty and may have a yen to travel distant places. You could be revisiting a previous relationship and enjoying the connection. In love? Make the first move on Monday. Lucky colour: White. TIP OF THE WEEK: Don’t give up your rights or freedom without considering a second chance. 
GEMINI: Multifarious activity can be tiring and depleting so try to focus on priorities. In fact, your troubles could eventually prove to be a blessing in disguise. Express special feelings towards your beloved or spouse on Monday. Be tactful or find a project that catches everyone’s enthusiasm. Sun shines through as you see a clear bright future. Lucky colour: Green.  TIP OF THE WEEK: Adapting to new technology will be important to keep pace with the changing times. 
SAGITTARIUS: Financial gains seem likely, but you need to be extra careful before entering into any new partnerships. Family affairs run smoothly. Women must guard against wrong driving. Health wise you are full of beans. Children will bring happiness on Wednesday. Lucky colour: Saffron. TIP OF THE WEEK: You are on the right track don’t allow others to interfere your way. 
CANCER: The difficulties that arise now, offer you the best opportunities to grow wiser. You are able to distinguish between reality and illusion. Wednesday is a good day for making a budget. A gentle and friendly approach can resolve an old conflict. Be in touch with your sense of humour, laughter’s and ability to celebrate. Lucky colour: Pink. TIP OF THE WEEK : Leave the past in the past.
CAPRICORN: Venus, the planet of love teams up with Moon. You walk down memory lane with an old friend at reunion. You may feel a bit lost, but if you take the time to look around, you’ll notice that there are signs everywhere. Handwritten notes and phone calls are lucky on Thursday. Focus on present and not try to resent changes. Meditation takes you to higher levels of consciousness. Lucky colour: Pink. TIP OF THE WEEK: Focus new light on your emotional and spiritual place. 
LEO: The ‘Princes of Wands’ spins gracious influence in your personal relationship. You are relaxed at work and content at home. Look for a fresh way of doing your routine job. Things are beginning to look up. Be realistic and practical about your approach to financial matters. In a relationship you need to express yourself more openly. Lucky colour: Yellow. TIP OF THE WEEK: Don’t antagonise anyone. 
AQUARIUS: Hard work produces desired results. Stay on the path. New relationship are loving steady and deep. Peace and compromise after crossing swords with a loved one are on the cards. Financially you may expect a windfall on Tuesday. Visitors and news can be expected on Wednesday. Domestic liabilities could add fuel to fire. Lucky colour: Pink. TIP OF THE WEEK: Boost your confidence with positive thinking. 
VIRGO: You draw the ‘Wheel of Fortune”. Good times are just around the corner. Loved ones gather to celebrate the event. You are thinking seriously about important relationship during this period. You are blessed with spiritual insight and clarity of vision. Lucky colour: Silver grey. TIP OF THE WEEK: Don’t reveal your plans to anyone as people may try to beat you to your targets. 
PISCES: You can expect promotion or extra perks this week. A Sagittarius person gives you good counsel. Don’t make promises you cannot keep. Love and laughter will cheer you up on Wednesday. Music, arts or meditation takes you deeper within. Appreciation and respect for others begets your love and support in turn. Lucky colour: Silver grey. TIP OF THE WEEK: Learn to cope with success.


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