Balancing Act

The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act comes as a breath of fresh air in this choking scenario of the Indian marriage that demands too much from the woman, says Anandita Gupta

Scene1: Standing tall in the plush lobby of a Chandigarh hotel she works in, chief HR manager Sunanda Buddhiraja is heard chiding a junior executive over poor attendance. A thorough professional with round- the-clock working weeks, Sunanda seems like a perfect picture of the new-age woman at work —confident, assertive and self-assured.

Scene 2: An extremely tired Sunanda walks in into her flat and begins all the domestic chores—picking up her husband’s wet towels off the bed, cooking, doing last night’s dishes. The maid’s on leave and her hubby dear won’t move a finger. However, he doesn’t forget a daily duty that he does religiously—to abuse her. Not physically, mind you, but ‘just emotionally’ as Sunanda likes to put it. “My family does get ignored due to my hectic work schedule and so Rajiv abuses and shouts at me in frustration,” Sunanda, the passive sufferer justifies.

Welcome to the world where everything black is bleached to seem pure white. If you believe that women have moved on from being just domestic divas and are ensconced in the bosom of freedom and respect, think again. For they are still expected to fulfill the age-old expectations and traditional demands. And despite juggling these multiple roles, they are humiliated, abused, assaulted.

If not for dowry, then for the pay package. If not for pay package, then for domestic expectations. And if not for all this, then just for committing the crime of being vivacious and successful. No wonder, The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act comes as a breath of fresh air in this choking scenario, say the city youngsters.

Muse Shamil Bhoil and Rinky Arora, fashion design students, “Most girls living in cities may not be physically getting abused, but are abused emotionally. Like many girls are forced to marry against will. Then, there are husbands who indulge in name calling and insulting their wives. This law is a wonderful as it deals with all these aspects.”

However, some are totally dissatisfied with the act. INIFDians Radhika, Rajat Arora and Akshay Arora feel that the fine amount is too less. “Imprisonment and due payment of Rs.20,000- is not sufficient, anyone who commits such crime can get bailed off easily. Amount should be raised to a minimum of Rs 2 lakh and bailing should be sealed.”

Chips in Chandigarh-based student Ashish Kumar, “Implementation of such acts is generally a delayed process. However, one good thing about the Act is that it covers under its gambit a variety of presently relevant situations like verbal abuse, emotional harassment, forced porn viewing, forced resignation from job and abuse by not just the husband, but live-in partner as well.”

Essentially, the Act recognises the fact that harassment can take a variety of forms. It is not just physical violence but any unwanted conduct which has the purpose of violating the other person’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading or offensive environment for him. Now, what is needed is this awareness in women themselves, to drive away the pale ochre dust of injustice that has smudged many a glorious marvel—called woman!

Her money is Her’s

Women now have the right to spend their own money their own way and husbands are legally bound to accept this fact, says Saurabh Malik

She shares her emotions, but not her money with him. Neerja Sharma’s cash-rich husband Raman Sharma knows almost everything about her but for her finance. The little entrepreneur, running her own boutique from a house in Sector 35, does not believe in the holy wedlock of bank accounts.

Good reason

The couple, though very much in love has often fought over the issue. “I just cannot understand. It’s my money and I can use it the way I want to. Why should he or anyone object to it?” she questions. “I just don’t like it. All this has forced me to keep my income and expenditure a secret.”

Though the situation has so far not reached the ‘breaking point’ in their economically rocking and shaking relationship, advocates, cops and even marriage counsellors across Chandigarh believe cases of such economic abuse, and subsequent pecuniary betrayal, are on a rise in the city.

And the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 — in force from Thursday — though accompanied by problems, will bring some respite to the victims. At least, it will discourage economic unfaithfulness as husbands and the partners stopping women from working or spending their money have been brought under the legal preview.

Rising disputes

“Over the past five years or so, the cases of matrimonial dispute have gone up in Chandigarh by 15 to 20 per cent. And in a substantial number of these cases, money is the core issue,” says Deputy Superintendent of Chandigarh Police P.K. Dhawan.

In charge of the Crime against Women Cell of the Chandigarh Police, Dhawan asserts: So far the police have been booking the accused for subjecting a married women to cruelty under Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code in all such cases, but now the cops can simultaneously proceed in the matter under the provisions of the new Act also as it is more specific.”

Warning shots

All this makes Punjab and Haryana High Court Advocate Anil Pal Singh Shergill warn the husbands and even male live-in partners to watch their act. “You can now be proceeded against for physical, verbal, emotional and even economic violence. Not allowing a wife or a partner to work, or spend her salary the way she wants to, is also an offence under the Act,” says Shergill.

Though ‘happy’ for the victims of domestic violence, Harleen Sekhon — running her own finishing school in Sector 8 under the banner of Grace Finishing Classes — has some reservations about the implementation of the Act.

“It can spoil relationships,” she asserts. “So far the women have been ignoring minor irritants or tactfully handling the situation to gently coax their husbands into allowing them to work. But the protection provided under the Act can actually embolden women and encourage them to initiate proceedings against their partners on frivolous grounds.”

Sounds logical, indeed! Let’s hope the cops also use their discretion and do not go about registering cases alleging economic infidelity without verifying the allegations!

His lucky number is 13

Jagmeet Bal, the whiz kid of Punjabi music video world, is a man of many talents, says Parbina Rashid

As you watch Bali Brahmbhatt crooning undying love on behalf of some young man running after a mirage, sitting right next to its creator Jagmeet Bal, it is difficult to ascertain what is Jagmeet’s strongest point – his technical know-how, his romantic streak or his sense of humour.

We had heard about him. After all he is our local lad who made it big in the Punjabi music scene. No, not as one of many fusion singers this fertile land has produced but as a music video director par excellence (watch any music video by singers like Pammi Bai, Sardool Sikander, Bali Brahmbhatt, Hans Raj Hans etc and Jagmeet’s name is bound to pop up in the credit line).

But when we finally meet him, who is holidaying in city after a hectic shoot with Mika, he tells us why in Punjab produces so many singers. “Almost every second person here has a surname Singh. So ‘singing’ is ingrained in their minds from the very first day of their lives.” Well said!

Once the ice is broken, we delve into the life of our guy’s life and what do we get to know? A solid connection! “After passing out from the Government College of Art, I worked for The Tribune for a little while, doing illustrations” and as a feeling of camaraderie takes over, we, with double enthusiasm, delve into his life.

“My aim, right from the beginning, was to ‘go Mumbai’ (a refreshing change from the usual ‘Go Canada’ chant). I did not know what would I do there, but when I landed up there with the little money I had collected from my art, I was lucky enough to get a job with Zee TV as an assistant director.

The career graph rose from there. In one year he became the director and produced much acclaimed serials like Kya Scene Hai, Meri Marzi, Positive Health Show, Dak Ghar, Filmi Batein and Excuse Me Please among others. His next assignment took him to Zee Alpha Punjabi for which he did shows like Meriya Gallan, Mere Geet, Sa Re Ga Ma and Screen Test.

A restless Sagittarius who swears by no 13 (his lucky number), Jagmeet soon left everything to start his production house ‘Zero Mind Films’. Before you raise your eyebrows, let us clear it for you. “The name is not negative. For ‘Zero Mind’ here signifies a neutral stage which is an essential preamble for a creative stage,” says Jagmeet.

Well, point taken. But what is he doing to bring changes to relieve the already saturated Punjabi music industry?

“I introduced the traditional concept in music videos when the scene was dominated by vulgarity, which was an instant hit. Now that too has come to become repetitive, my emphasis is on using new technologies for special effects,” says Jagmeet explaining the things he had done in his recent videos but as we find it difficult to comprehend we gently steer him to our next question. What is his dream project? “A film, A Hindi film for intelligent children.” As we draw a blank again, he explains, “A few films have been made for children, but those are too kiddish. Today’s kids are smart, smarter than their parents. I want to make a film which is up to their intelligent level.” Amen

Dream fire
Gayatri Rajwade

Photo: Pradeep TewariWhat makes an actor? Think fire! No, not a bonfire, but that flaming will in the belly to make dreams come true. And young aspiring actor Pooja Tandon has been determined to blaze with her pretty sea-green eyes, ever since she was a little girl. Pooja calls it ‘being adamant’ and today her unwavering resolve is about to bear fruit.

Yes it helps that her father is a well-known figure in the film industry (writer, director and actor, Vijay Tandon is also a National Award Winner for the Best Punjabi Film, Kachehri in 1994) but really how far can that go if you emote like driftwood?

But not only is Pooja pretty, she can act. A fact endorsed by none other than star-maker Kishore Namit Kapoor, who has nurtured the likes of Hritik Roshan and who called her the ‘complete package’ after her four-month training stint his training academy in Mumbai.

And it is passion for the craft that lures Pooja. “Yes fame and glamour is an exciting part of the being an actor but I find great satisfaction in acting. I know that there is nothing I could do that would be better than this,” she smiles.

The offers were streaming in for a while now and she even did a couple of Punjabi music videos while at home in Chandigarh but really it was the ‘Big Bug’ that struck and to make it in Bollywood one needs to be ready. “My father told me that unless you are not trained there is no point in venturing into films. He wanted to be confident enough to say yes she can do it and that is why I enrolled into a training academy,” she explains.

Kapoor’s academy is considered by many to be one of the best in Mumbai and so it was in June this year, during her summer vacations (she is in her final year at MCM DAV, Sector 36) that Pooja packed her bags to learn the finer nuances of acting.

Dialogue delivery, diction, action, body language, concentration, memory games, dance, grooming sessions, she went through the works. Every minute gesture was taken into account, every expression was registered — weeping without the mandatory glycerine, laughing without a joke, fighting with no one in particular—everything was polished and it shows. “I feel more confident today because the course made us generate everything from within. We would get an outline but even the situation would have to be created by us so that we got connected to the character we had to enact,” explains Pooja.

The end result, in a class of 45, Pooja topped! So what is different about her, we ask? “Everything” she laughs. “I emulate no one.” But that does not mean inspiration is lacking and that comes in the form of Urmila Matondkar and Karishma Kapoor. “I love them for being so natural and so convincing. You can relate to them,” she says.

And what they do best, she is sure she can do better! “I don’t mind dancing around trees. That is actually a really fun way to start,” she laughs. For this youngster who also counts chocolates, halwa, sizzling brownies and mom’s biryani as other fun elements in her life, life is about to take a big turn.

She is off to Mumbai at the end of the month to get her portfolio clicked by ace lensman Rakesh Shreshtha and yes the offers are coming in—plenty for television and some for films. No word yet on that till everything is finalised but we know one thing for sure: in the words of Pooja’s proud elder sister Ekta, “She will rock”! 


Private banks in Chandigarh are offering interests on talent by holding drawing and Rangoli contests, along with exhibitions, says Saurabh Malik

Private banks and financial institutions across the city are paying more than just interest on the deposited amounts. They are, in fact, taking keen interest in withdrawing the best out of the residents in terms of talent for safekeeping it in the lockers of memories.

And it’s not just works of art that they are exhibiting in the bank premises for painting their image of people-friendly institutions. The banks are also organising drawing and painting contests for the little ones every now and then.

If you are having any doubts, just hop into your car and visit YES Bank in Sector 9. Continuing with the Divali celebrations, the new-age private sector bank is organising a gala Rangoli festival. The three-day fest, which started on Thursday, will continue till Saturday.

The best thing about the fair is that it’s absolutely eco-friendly. For, the younglings are allowed to use only natural dyes and colours for tracing the patterns of talent in the banks branch.

And for adding colour to the festivities, YES bankers will not be clad in their formal best in immaculate dresses with matching neckties on the last day of the contest. They will be nicely and properly decked up in their traditional outfits.

The best of the best will be chosen from among the contestants by a panel of respectable community leaders. The panel has been constituted especially for encouraging and maintaining transparency, along with trust, in the entire competition.

The contests are being held in bank’s 24 branches for propagating the concept of ‘responsible banking’ in India because the institution believes in integrating social responsibility and sustainability in its business focus, at least this is what the staff says.

The bank officials also claim this is not the first time they are doing something for the community. The bank has already received the ‘Environment Leadership Award’ for improving the environment and the quality of life of Asians.

So folks, what are you waiting for, rush to the bank if you are a client, and give your little ones a chance to display his flair before the floodlights, now!

Autumn winter range arrives

Cantabil launches new range for winters for men with its range of shirts, suits, blazers, jackets, sweat shirts and trousers. Shirts in yoke styles, placket variations, and pocket and flap styles. The range uses fabric from Montey Mill, Italy for the formal range. The range also offers, cotton, nylon, polyester, suede, corduroy, denim and artificial leather jackets. Sports wear range uses knit material with closest color combination.

Nakshatra cookers from Prestige

TTK Prestige, India’s largest kitchen appliance brand has launched the ‘Nakshatra’ range of Inner Lid Pressure Handi’s. With this, Prestige marks its foray into the inner-lid category of pressure cookers, while still maintaining its leadership position in the outer-lid segment. The Nakshatra range is designed to compliment today’s modern kitchens while offering high safety levels. The Nakshatra collection is available in a range of vibrant colours and finishes – polished aluminum, color - coated in flame red, steal blue and royal black and fully hard-anodized. They are priced between Rs 840 and Rs 1650.

KFC Bucket Mein Cricket

Nidhi Gupta and Atul Nigam, the winners of KFC’s Bucket Mein Cricket promotion from Chandigarh, were given unique opportunity to meet the West Indies cricketers over lunch at KFC. The delighted winners were flown into Mumbai by KFC and spent an exciting couple of hours, chatting with their heroes and enjoying KFC’s finger licking fare. An additional 10 lucky winners will receive bats personally autographed by the entire West Indies squad.

Kashmiri saffron for fairness

CavinKare, the FMCG major has come up with the new improved ‘Fairever’ fairness cream in small sachet pack. Fairever fairness cream now comes in an attractive international packaging in 9gm shapely sachet priced at Rs 5 available across north India. Enriched with pure extracts of natural ingredients such as sunscreens and pure milk, it contains the world-renowned and Kashmiri saffron as key ingredient, which works within to reduce melanin contents in the skin and deliver a natural and glowing fairness.

Haier’s Mega Consumer offer

Haier’s highly popular Haier Lucky, Luckier, Luckiest mega consumer offer is back again this festive season. This remarkable offer from Haier gives customers a chance to win attractive gifts like AVEO cars, LCD televisions, fully-automatic washing machines, mini bar refrigerators, grill-microwave ovens and DVD players on every purchase of a Haier product. This unique promotion entails assured gifts on every purchase and will be on from September 20 to October 31 this year.

Bike your way with Suzuki

Suzuki Motorcycle India Pvt. Ltd., has unveiled a series of attractive consumer promotion offers to mark the onset of the festive season. It’s recently launched 125 cc value-packed motorcycles- Zeus and Heat come with various attractive schemes throughout the country like exchange offer on any old two-wheeler, free registration, free insurance and full fuel tank petrol free till Divali. Instant pick-up, smoother performance and superb fuel-efficiency mark stylish Zeus and Heat. Equipped with 5-gears, an all-aluminum engine powered with state-of-the art XTP technology and best-in-class mileage figures in actual Indian traffic conditions.

7 UP lemon

7 UP has launched a new lemon flavoured drink that strengthens its innovation leadership position. Check out the all-new 7UP ‘Lemon Bite’ – a limited edition variant that promises to give to its consumers, what they have been really looking for! Priced at Rs 9 for a 300 ml and Rs 20 for 600 ml, the new variant will be present at select outlets across the country.

Perfect slim phone

My 400X, a mobile phone launched by Sagem Communication, Pratham telecom, is a perfect mix of technology and design. Extra-Slim and light, it is the ideal companion of people fond of leisure and simplicity. SAGEM my 400X: ergonomic and comprehensive. Slim (14mm thickness), light (85gr) and compact, my400X offers ease of use thanks to its large keypad and features like GPRS, blue tooth, CSTN screen, 3.2 mb memory and dimensions that fit perfectly in the hands at Rs 5, 299 only.

Tata Indicom surges ahead

Tata Teleservices Ltd., India’s fastest growing telecom service provider crosses 5-lakh-customer mark in a short span of 1 year 9 months, of its operations in Punjab. With a significant month on month incremental share of 17 per cent and an overall market share of 8 per cent in Punjab, Tata Indicom has emerged as one of the most preferred telecom operators in the circle. Tata Teleservices Ltd. has garnered immense trust in its products and services and popularity for the brand Tata Indicom among the customers, which has resulted in this landmark achievement in such a short span of time.

New cleaner

Cavin Kare, Indian FMCG player, is all set to enter the competitive homecare hygiene segment with the launch of Tex, a superior quality toilet cleaner that is convenient to use at a price that is very affordable. Through its R and D efforts over the past 2 years, CavinKare has come up with TEX- a branded, good quality toilet cleaner, available at Rs10 for a bottle of 100 ml and in Rs 38 introductory price for a bottle of 500 ml. It does not have irritation, burning etc which are typically associated with acid and bleaching powder is now available in sachets at Rs 2.

Food of love
Gayatri Rajwade

Have you ever got a hug from a chocolate?

No, this is not a quirky story from ‘Ripley’s Believe it or Not’. Just follow our advice, take a piece, pop it into the mouth and let it melt on the tongue, slowly and gently, into gooey splendour and ah nothing, absolutely nothing can be this satisfying! (Okay maybe a hug from John Abraham would come close!)

And, think exotic for chocolates this season. No plain bars and slabs to munch into, instead how about a splash of champagne as you bite into one?

While mithais go into passé mode, silver prices bounce around wildly and gold remains in the realm of most people’s imagination, chocolates are the perfect gifts for any occasion for one simple reason, can you resist having just one?

Nikhil Mittal, alias Nik Baker, in Sector 9 has also started with a whole range of delicious chocolates to kill those of us on a calorie count! So what does he have for the city to savour? Belgian and Belgian chocolates alone! “We get large 5 kilo slabs which are broken up and melted and then tempered. Made form pure cocoa butter, we work on the chocolate with a palette knife on marble bringing the temperatures to 34 degrees Celsius and then temper it till the temperature goes down.”

The end result, liqueur—rum, cognac, champagne, tiramisu—caramel, almond, butterscotch all find their way into his Belgian wonder.

Made fresh everyday, there is also a sugar-free variety to boot comprising of lemon filling, almond crunches and cashew bites. Ranging between Rs 700 to Rs 1,500 a kilo, you can pick up these tasty bits for as little as Rs 150 too.

For Ashi who runs her own outfit ‘The Bakehouse’ in Mohali and the Browser Bookstore Café in Sector 8, ‘Coffee Needs Company’ it is peanuts that do the trick. “I tried rum and raisin too but god knows where the rum went,” she laughs. Modesty will not do the trick because this spirited lady has many flavours up her sleeve right from mint to marshmallows, caramel, toffee and even jujubes, which wind up in her chocolates. At Rs 350 to 500 a kilo, these are high on taste and low on sweet. So what does Ashi like about chocolates? “The flavour, the colour and the way it melts, it looks so beautiful,” she smiles.

For youngster-on-the-block Priyanka Jain of ‘Design Weavers’ in Sector 8, weaving dreams out of chocolates comes easy. Hand-made, home-made, they have all the goodness of cream and sugar and are moulded with butter, coconut, peanuts choco-gems and even strawberry and orange flavours.

And this young lady and her two friends who work hard at these little bites do not rest easy on just the ingredients, casting them in funky shapes like shells, fishes and even teddy bears (a huge favourite with little children) they are out to charm taste-buds.

Evocations to the Chocolate

If you’ve got melted chocolate all over your hands, you’re eating it too slowly

  • Chocolate covered raisins, cherries, orange slices & strawberries all count as fruit, so eat as many as you want

  • Diet tip: Eat a chocolate bar before each meal. It’ll take the edge off your appetite and you’ll eat less

  • A nice box of chocolates can provide your total daily intake of calories in one place. Isn’t that handy?

  • If calories are an issue, store your chocolate on top of the fridge. Calories are afraid of heights and they will jump out of the chocolate to protect themselves.

  • Money talks. Chocolate sings.

  • Chocolate has many preservatives. Preservatives make you look younger.

Art of Living
Harbinder Singh

No, I will not tell you to go through the deliverance of the immaculate white dressed Mr Ravi Shankar. Neither will I advise you to follow those holy scripts. There is another but easy method — an art of living in which one does not have to spare out time and can do it while doing one’s daily chores in comparatively lesser time. It is basically an art that helps you to live than exist, the real art of living.

The art covers the things that we can do in our routine life and see the changes it brings along in our personality. To say, if one stops for a while to close down the water wastefully gushing out of the faucet or switch off the unnecessarily running fan that one catch a sight of or cares to pick up a brick lying in the middle of a busy road which may cause an accident, one experiences a nice feeling of doing something really good. This feeling makes a person feel good about himself and in turn soothes his mind. These acts may sound trivial but can have a greater impact on society.

Observing cleanliness is a major branch of the art of living that I am talking about. Stop littering, instead make use of the bins to dispose off the waste. One must own the responsibility to dispose off the refuse properly and keep the surroundings clean. Make use of a waste paper basket for the paper waste instead of consigning it to the same bin that contains the other trash. Use separate bins for the refuse that can be recycled like polythene bags. If possible, say ‘No’ to poly-bags and use the environment-friendly paper bags as its alternative.

Obeying traffic rules is another major branch of this art. One should not jump the traffic lights showing red signal and sincerely follow the other traffic rules. Doing this not only improves the traffic movement but also helps in dropping the accident rate and along with reduces the mental stress caused when caught by the traffic cops. Vehicles, especially the two-wheelers, should be parked in an organised manner so as not to become a source of trouble for others. If done, the vehicle-owners will not have to bother about the problems of un-parking their vehicle. Moreover, it will give a nice look to the parking lots. ‘No Parking’ board should not be denied of the attention it cries for.

Third, act as human. Wait for your turn in a queue rather than jumping it and earning everybody’s ire. Young should vacate the seat for the standing senior citizens while travelling in bus or train. Try to make the maximum use of the golden words — Sorry and Thank You. Believe in an respect humanity. Lend your helping hand to the needy. Donating blood instils in you the feeling for mankind. Therefore, everyone fit for donating blood must do it.

Next comes the precious water and electricity. Save them by minimising their use. Ensure that you close the tap properly after use. Tap those needlessly running faucets that you witness. Switch off the electrical appliances running purposelessly, especially the fans and tube lights. To learn more about saving water and electricity, pay more attention to the advertisements regularly released by the Conservator of Energy and Water Resources in the print as well as electronic media.

Learning this art of living is very simple. Start at your home. See to it that you don’t let anything go waste and the refuse goes to the right place. Soon it will become your habit and from then on you will not let it happen anywhere in front of your eyes. There are innumerable such things which if done gives peace to one’s mind. The learning and performing this art of living not only refrains you from letting things go waste or help you to save the precious resources but also guides you to live life in a better way. In turn, it helps you to become a better citizen.

If each of us resolve to learn and bring into use this art of living I am sure the day will not be far when we, the civilians, would really feel proud of our country just like the Americans or the Europeans or the Japanese are. Are you ready to master this art of living?

Bargain delight

In Chandigarh , you can actually savour hot scrumptious foodstuff at a good joint without burning holes in your pockets, says Saurabh Malik

Inexpensive and scrumptious “bargain” foodstuff is offering good deal to the residents like never before. Easy on the pocket, and digestion, it’s tickling their taste buds, delicately. And its not just pizzas for as less as Rs 45 that the food lovers are going in for! They are also ordering sizzling burgers and noodles without burning holes in their porous pockets.

You may find it hard to digest the economic reality just in case you haven’t pushed your way through the impressive glass doors of so many fast food joints and restaurants across the city in the recent past. But the fact is that you can take delight in the bargain foodstuff without haggling or worrying too much about the price. Indeed, you can have your heart’s fill without paying more than Rs 25.

Well folks, if you haven’t tasted the low-cost stuff “oh-so-hot” these days, just reach your nearest arcade, now. The whiff is unmistakable. As you cross the joints offering a heady combination of chicken, mayonnaise and so many other ingredients all stuffed in a bun, the taste of fresh sliced onions and tomatoes lures you indoors. The tang mingles with a hint of white and black pepper to give all-in-one flavour.

Or else, crunchy chana patty, flavoured with unique spices, topped with salad and sauce leaves you craving for more without wiping beads of perspiration from your forehead, worrying about the price you will have to pay for the delight.

Right folks; forget all about counting those loathsome calories. Just gratify your taste buds with an abundance of economical noodles or even kathi rolls and other goodies at discounted prices. The choice is yours, entirely

You see, until a few years ago, residents unwilling to dish out more for less had few options as the restaurants across the city were not offering a rich variety at reasonable rates. Undoubtedly you could pick up vegetable or non-vegetable patties or even samosas, but hardly anything else. For, even a platter full of French fries at a good joint was not reasonably priced.

But now the dishes are more and merrier at economical rates. Pick up the bill of fare and you will find stuff like “happy price menu” offering goodies like pizza puff. Rather, if you are going to Mc Donald’s, remember to go in for foodstuff costing not more than Rs 20.

At Nirula’s, you can ask for “Batata burger” or even “Subz burger”. The stuff is good and costing much less than Rs 25, inclusive of taxes. At Yo! China , order chowmein in a box, again at discounted rates! It is worth tasting.

You will get chunky crispy from outside, tender inside, chicken flavoured with special sauce for approximately Rs 25 if you go in for “chicken crunch” at KFC. Chana crunch snacker is also costing the same.

At Hot Millions, the ambience and the setting are fit for a perfect snack. Vegetarian “Bargain burger” is costing just around Rs 20, and its non-veg’ counterpart is costing nearly Rs 10 more. Sounds yummy, indeed!


Gang Gai, Pad Thai, Nam Budoo Song Kreung, Grajiab Tod, Fug Tong Gang Bhad, Tom Yum Goong- only a few years ago, these names of Thai dishes sounded like double Dutch, no, double Thai to me! Allow me to confess here….they still do! Somehow, they bring to my mind an annoying temple gong gone awry.

Thai cuisine has caught on in India like wild fire and if you have sampled some authentic Thai, you will unanimously agree on the  “wild fire” bit! I suspect the Thai community doesn’t use teaspoons or tablespoons for adding chillies. They go by the handfull! Apart from truckloads of chillies, Thai food is flavoured with lemon juice, fish sauce, ginger, kafir lime and peanuts. Chicken, fish, shrimps, tofu, sprouts, greens, noodles and rice go into making delectable dishes but when it comes to eating creepy-crawlies, I’m afraid I draw the line! The Thai will deep fry silk-worms, grass-hoppers, water-bugs, any bugs and munch on them with the delight of a child, eating potato chips! I bring you Pad Thai (rice noodles), a timeless classic, to be served with Gang Gai (no no, nothing to do with mobster-gangs or the mafia…it’s a basil flavoured red chicken curry!)

Pad Thai

Juice of ½ a lemon

1 egg

4 tsp fish sauce

5 pods garlic, minced

1 tsp dry red chilli, ground

2-3 tbsp vegetable oil

1 large onion, minced

2 tbsp sugar

2-3 tbsp tamarind pulp

150 gms Thai rice noodles

200 gms prawns, peeled and de-veined

½ cup tofu, chopped

¾ cup spring onion greens

1 cup bean sprouts

4 tbsp cashew or peanuts


Soak the noodles in lukewarm water for 15 minutes. Heat a wok or a kadhai and fry the cashewnuts, using some of the oil. Remove on to a plate. Using the rest of the oil, stir fry the onions, garlic and spring onion greens, adding tofu a few minutes later. Make room for the egg by pushing the noodles aside. Crack the egg onto the wok and scramble till cooked. Now toss in the prawns, stirring till they turn pink. For a vegetarian version, substitute prawns with mushroom or broccoli. Drain noodles (they should be quite pliable by now) and add to the wok, folding lightly. Add tamarind, sugar, fish sauce and chillies. Add bean sprouts and check seasoning.

Transfer onto a plate and sprinkle over the lemon juice and cashews.

Gang Gai

10-15 basil leaves

2 tbsp fish sauce

300 gm aubergines

2 ½ red curry paste

1 cup coconut milk

250 gm boneless chicken


If you were to have this dish in Thailand, you will notice that the chicken will be chopped into small pieces, with bone. Though cumbersome to eat, this results in a more flavourful curry. Heat up a heavy pot and pour half the coconut milk and all the curry paste into it. Stir constantly to break up the lumps. When some red oil bubbles to the top, add the chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces.

When the chicken turns white, add the chopped aubergine, stirring constantly. Add the remaining coconut milk, 3 cups of water and salt and allow it to simmer slowly till the chicken and the aubergine are tender. Adjust seasoning and stir in the basil leaves before serving.

New singer on the block

It takes talent to spot talent, recognise it for its worth and to nurture it to a form that it can express itself in all its glory before the world. The magician of music with a Midas touch has now done it again. Jawahar Wattal, the man who has a record of producing not only quality music but also one Star after another now weaves his magic once again. After creating stars like Daler Mehandi, Shweta Shetty, Shubha Mudgal, Hans Raj Hans, Bhupi Chawla and giving his fans 72 music albums including 19 multi-platinum albums, he weaves his magic wand once again and this time the result is a fresh sound of hot new singer, Arjun.

Arjun, whose real name is Pankaj Nagpal, though not born into a musical family, has a gifted with voice and extra-ordinary musical talent. He was initiated in the world of sur and taal at the age of 5 when his training began under the watchful eyes of his elder sister who had been initiated into classical gayaki at a young age herself. A long music journey followed, during which Arjun was trained in Western Classical singing at the Delhi School of Music, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi under Sylivia Smyth, a noted opera singer from USA during 1993-94.

Arjun also has the distinction of winning the award for the Best Vocalist in Western Solo category for 3 years in a row for his college at the Various Delhi University Inter-College competitions during 1993-96. His talent was here spotted by the Yuv Vani station of All India Radio, the only relevant medium of entertainment on radio at that time when FM radio in India was unheard of. This saw him performing on the radio regularly during 1994-97 and being nominated the ‘Artist of the Week’ repeatedly during these years with a special 25-minute program dedicated to his performance. This was followed by other things like hosting talk shows and current affairs programs on Yuv Vani including the famous show ‘In The Groove’ besides performances for Doordarshan Prime Time. Arjun has lent his voice to numberous jingles and audio for Corporates like LG, Spice Telecom, Nokia, Mak Lubricants, Kiwi etc to name a few.

Arjun is not only a good singer but is a complete Musician himself having penned down over a 100 songs and composed as many himself. He plays the Guitar and Keyboard. After years of hard work and regular riyaaz later, Jawahar Wattal, who found in him a perfect vehicle for his music, discovered Arjun.

Arjun has now produced his private album titled Rang Dey with Jawahar Wattal as the composer and music director. The Album is melody based and has a flavour of various forms and music from ballads to sufi music to contemporary pop and bhangra music albeit in a new avtaar and sound. The songs are different and original unlike the remix culture of today and have soulful melodies with catchy grooves and lyrics penned by names like Shyam Banerjee, Vikki Nagar and Rahul Seth that touch the heart. They have experimented with new sounds and have tried to blend the lounge music of today with a classical touch. The music video for — D.P.

Surinder Khan mesmerises audience with soulful Ghazals

It was an evening of musical delight for those who visited Craft Mela at Circus Ground, Sector 17, last week. They had the opportunity to listen some of the most popular and soulful ghazals of maestro Ghulam Ali from a person who has been hailed as Junior Ghulam Ali. City boy Surinder Khan created the magic by rendering ghazals like Chupke-chupke raat din and hungama hai kyon barpa and showed complete mastery over the intimate surs for which Ghulam Ali is known.

He started the proceedings with yet another masterpiece of Ghulam Ali Chamakte chaand ko toota hua tara bana dala. After that he rendered number of Ghulam Ali ghazals matching the mastery of the original singer. On the demand of listeners he presented Hum tere shahar me aaye hain musafir ki tarah and Hungama hai kyon barpa thodi si jo pi li ha. He sang two extra stanzas of Chupke Chupke raat din aansoo bahana yaad hai also.

Apart from that he also presented some most popular Punjabi ghazals sung by Ghulam Ali like Chambe diye band kaliye and Har roz da ladna changa nahin, Kade pyar di gal vi karya kar.

Surinder Khan proved his verstality as a singer by singing a gazal sung by Jagjit Singh also. His ghazal Hosh Valon ko khabar kya bekhudi kya cheez hai got him standing ovation from the audience.

On repeated demands of listeners he sang popular song Tu mane ya na mane dildaara asaan te tainu rabb manya originally sung by Wadali brothers.

He was accompanied by All India Radio and Doordarshan fame Ranbir Vicky on Tabla and Sandeep on Guitar.

Film & Fashion
Cruise back in demand

It seems Hollywood hunk Tom Cruise never had it better, for even after being dumped by Paramount pictures this summer, the actor is not short of work.

According to Variety magazine, the actor is considering doing two Hollywood blockbusters as well as a smaller art house flick.

Tom has been offered indie political drama ‘Lion For Lambs’ about US soldiers in Afghanistan. He’s up for the part of a politician, with Meryl Streep set to play a journalist, reports the Sun.

Tom is also mulling over ‘The Ha-Ha’, a drama about a mute Gulf war veteran who must look after a nine-year-old when the mother disappears.

Finally he may also star in Spike Lee’s new film ‘Selling Time’ as a man who sells parts of his life for a chance to change the worst day of his life.

‘Sir Paul is no wife beater’

Singer Rod Stewart has leaped to Sir Paul McCartney’s defence, saying that he cannot accept that the former Beatle could ever physically abuse his wife.

The ‘Maggie May’ singer says that McCartney should fight allegations made by his estranged wife Heather Mills in their divorce battle.

Stewart feels that McCartney now has no choice other than defending his reputation, because the matter has gone public with the leak of his divorce papers.

“I think he should fight her I think his name has been slurred, Contactmusic quoted him as saying.

“I’m sure that he is not a wife-beater,” he said.

Impulsive shopping? No way!

While she may need retail therapy to chin up at times, Victoria Beckham has quashed rumours that she by any means is an impulsive buyer who spends recklessly on shopping sprees.

“Despite what people may think, I don’t just walk into a shop and say: ‘I want that one in every colour!’” The Mirror quoted her, saying in her new style bible, That Extra Half An Inch.

The former Spice Girl insists she never indulges into buying something that catches her fancy at the first glance, especially if it’s an expensive item.

“When I see something I like - especially if it is expensive - I ask the shop to put it on hold while I go away and think about it. You’d be surprised how often the desire fades when you leave the shop. If you make the effort to go back, you know you really wanted it,” she added.

Meanwhile, the fashion queen, who is a style icon with both celebrities and young women, has insisted that she has extremely modest tastes when she’s away from the limelight.

Wedding extravaganza

While most brides-to-be run from pillar to post looking for that perfect wedding gown, Hollywood beauties Katie Holmes and Elizabeth Hurley have no dearth of top designers willing to make their special dress. While the former has zeroed in on 5 dresses for the ceremony, Hurley it seems will settle for nothing less than 13.

Hurley is set to outdo Katie when it comes to the number of wedding ensembles she is preparing to wear.

She has whittled down her choice to 13, likely to include Versace and Valentino, because she doesn’t want to offend any of her designer pals, and is expected to make a succession of wardrobe changes during her nuptials in both Gloucestershire and India.

The 41-year-old actress, who has a five-year-old son by former flame Steve Bing, is planning lavish celebrations for her marriage to Indian businessman Arun Nayer.

Katie, who gave birth to her daughter Suri six months ago, is back on svelte form in time for her upcoming nuptials, which her spokesperson confirmed would take place on November 18 in Italy.

Holmes has reportedly hired top designer Giorgio Armani to come up with something “sheer and floaty” for the ceremony.

Tara ready for motherhood

American actress Tara Reid is reportedly planning to swap her partying lifestyle with motherhood, for she recently revealed that turning 30 has awakened her maternal instincts.

The American Pie actress - who will celebrate her 31st birthday next month, said that although she dreaded her twenties coming to an end, she is now surprisingly looking forward to her thirties.

She further said that being 30 has made her desperately want to start a family.

“I thought it’d be scary, but it really doesn’t feel any different. I think about kids a lot more. I really want kids,” the Sun quoted her, as saying.

Meanwhile, Nearly two years after a wardrobe malfunction earned her the nickname ‘Franken-nipple,’ Tara Reid discussed the pain and agony of her plastic surgery nightmare. — ANI

Health tip of the day

Awkward Posture used for a long time at office or school places stress around the neck. Avoid bending over the table or working on the computer for longer periods of time.

— Dr. Ravinder Chadha

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