With the crime graph swinging upward, the city affluents are opting for hi-tech security gizmos, says Angad B. Sodhi

You have had a tough day at work, and as you are driving home, your thoughts go towards a warm cozy place, soft inviting lighting and some nice music streaming in….fantasy? Not really. Even if you live alone and are far away from your home, you can still make it happen before you get there. Actually, in a number of homes, and we are not talking about just the metros here, this happens regularly.

You get into your car, pick up your mobile phone and dial a few codes that connect you to a server somewhere inside your house. You can turn on the air conditioning, pull down the blinds and curtains, switch on your favourite music and even adjust the lighting to the level that you desire.

When you get there, a warm, inviting home awaits you. As you sit on the couch with your feet up and enjoying a nice drink, you thank God for his bounty, and the technology that makes you look forward to coming home.

Feel-safe factor

The city has slowly started to be infiltrated by gizmos the size of hand-held videogames, which can do all this and more. Known simply as a ‘touch panel’, this hand-held device can be programmed to carry out various functions around the house.

“The touch panel can be programmed to control the electrical appliances on the premises and can even be used as a computer to surf the Net or can substitute for your iPod,” says Saarthak Gupta, marketing head of Delhi-based MRS Corporation, a pioneer in this field.

A lot of people may dismiss this gadget as merely a frivolous toy for the über-rich, but it is mainly catching on in the city for its practicality. The system also has an excellent in-built security system.

The security function definitely improves its appeal. With the population of the city growing at the rate that it is and the mass migration of labour and job seekers to the city, crime figures are on the rise.

Need of the hour

More and more residents feel the need for security systems in their homes, though no one wants to be identified as having had one installed, for obvious reasons. And it is not just people from the posh northern sectors of Chandigarh who are installing hi-tech gadgets to secure their sprawling homes, but also those from Panchkula and Mohali. Everyone opts to go in for gizmos that suit his need, and more importantly his pockets.

“Anyone who can afford a security system is installing one. The level and type of system a household installs depends on their budget and need, but everyone from residents of a 10 canal house to a 10 marla property are getting some sort of system,” says B. S. Dhiman of Steadfast Security Systems in Chandigarh.

This trend had emerged around the turn of the century and is now rising rapidly. There are already a couple of thousand households in the city that have security systems installed and, according to Dhiman, this number is rising by about 30 to 40 per cent every year. 

Technology vs Rottweiller

So how does this gadget work? “The gadget is a little controlling device from which all your security equipment can be operated,” says Saarthak. “If you are out of town you can still switch the lights in your house on and off from time to time so that it gives the appearance that you are at home.” For reasons such as this, the system is very popular amongst NRI’s and people who work away from home. But the most impressive feature of this system is that if someone breaks into your premises, your house will immediately give you a call on your mobile phone and will start streaming you live video footage from the part of the house where the intruders have entered. Along with this the house also makes a call to the local emergency and police services so that the perpetrator can be caught red handed.

The Touch Panel and security system can set you back anywhere between Rs 30,000 to a few crores, depending on the area being covered and the number of functions being programmed onto the panel. Impressive as the system may sound, there are always people who remain sceptical when it comes to technology. “Why should one rely on something that might get hacked or may not work because of a power failure, when the best security system in the world is a loyal dog,” says a resident of Mohali who has spent a whopping Rs 3 lakh on his trusty Rottweiller.

Sceptics aside, the city may not be ready to replace their trusty servants with a remote control just yet.

The entertainment and other soft features on the remote appeal to the younger segment, security to the older one, but the cost of this system inhibits many.

However, the profile of the city is changing as more and more two-income professionals make it their home. They are young and techno savvy. They have the inclination, need and the means to get the automatic home of their dreams.

Saurabh Malik

Connected to technology, mobile companies are ringing in revolution in phone enhancements. It may send ‘surprise’ bells ringing if you are out of the technology’s coverage area, but the companies have actually come up with products that enable you to transfer your thoughts right from paper to mobile phones without even using wires. And you thought having a set with camera and a speakerphone was enough!

Fellows, right from digital pens to wireless keyboards, up-to-the-minute know-how is actually calling upon you. Just in case you haven’t heard the voice of technology booming from your mobile’s speakerphone, drive down to Nokia concept store inaugurated in Sector 17 recently. Taking you around the store having aisles lined with temptation, Nokia India ’s Director (Sales) Sunil Dutt says you can actually dial up convenience with the help of wireless keyboards. Connected to the phones through Bluetooth, these keyboards enable you to browse the Internet and send e-mails or short messages to all your associates and pals without pressing and repressing the mobile keys for locating the right alphabets.

“Until a few years ago, even cameras and music systems on the mobile phones were ‘long distance’ dreams,” he asserts. “But now you have much more — right from car kits complete with battery chargers to digital pens that transfers the written word from the paper to phone.”

Holding your attention, and a product having the grace of a necklace, Dutt says: “It’s a medallion that helps you store images. You can actually wear it like a medal, along with your attitude, around your neck.” True reward, indeed!

Smiling, he says: The idea behind opening the concept showroom is to give the residents first hand experience of the services and applications, including mobile enhancements. They can now come to the music or business lounges in the showroom and listen to the techno-buzz.

As he moves on, you realise there is much more than you have seen even in Bollywood flicks. Dazzling under the synthetic daylights are music stands. Connect it with your phone and listen to that hit number you downloaded in your mobile handset.

And then you have a phone image viewer and a printer. Just sit back and enjoy all the photos you have taken on that unplanned excursion. Or else, take out a print and store it in the album. Now, that’s what is called the latest in handset gear.

An MBA from the University Business School, Dutt says Nokia has been striving hard to make the phones all the more secure. He adds that the company will now consider the feasibility of coming up with mobiles having ‘pin codes’ that cannot be cracked by unauthorised users, rendering the sets useless for them.

Elaborating, he adds: “The phones can have pin codes like the ATM centres that will enable only the authorised persons to use the product.” 

In her clutches

As far as bridal accessories go, 2007 spells clutch bags for the bride as a must and perhaps this is symbolic of the new-age girl getting her man well in her clutches. Designers are having a ball designing these bags in exciting colours and patterns so that they attract notice.

Bags for the coming spring have plenty of interesting accessories, for example, pockets, tassels, dangling charms, leather appliqué, free form logo attachments, key rings, and metal ornament as buckles. 

Then there are neat finishing touches in the form of gold and steel tone studs, crystal beads and leather rouleau bows.

Zen Ami, a designer from Pakistan, makes easy-to-hold rectangles for clutching but the embellishments and textures make them out of the ordinary.

Watch this dream in silver and black that has an undulated surface and long and slim metal embellishments make it an asset for partying.

‘Don’t be a square’, say another couple of bags with squares in black and white decorating one and starry metallic ones highlighting the black of the other one.

Chandani’s bag has a fairytale look for it is all silvery tinsel and shaped like half a sun with the rays cut out.

The only difference is that the golden hue of the sun has turned silvery and green crystals decorate the bag like a necklace of emeralds. Its two little handles add to the charm and it is an ideal accessory for a black party dress.

Ritika Bhasin’s clutch bags have the typical look of the old Indian batua that was so lovingly worked has the grannies and kept in the trousseau trunk.

She takes silk in the auspicious colours of green, red and turmeric yellows and decorates them with silma, sitara and teeny-weeny ghungroos.

Oh! for such a beauty. In another rectangular bag with its textured velvet surface of black and silver she puts bold clusters of crystals encased in silver frames.

These beautiful bags will be on display at Bridal Asia, Ashoka Hotel, New Delhi, from January 13 to 15. — TNS

Get branded
Smriti Sharma

Photo by Pradeep TewariThere are quite a few things that can be associated with the winter chill. One is to have those ‘high on calorie’ deep-fried pakoras on a cold winter evening in the company of friends or may be a quick winter nap in the sun on a lazy afternoon and if you fall in ‘staying at home n’ doing things is not-my-type’ category then you might as well go out and make the most out of the great winter bargains.

Yes folks, we are referring to the sales that you wait year long for that perfect ‘pink pullover’ or a ‘long leather coat’.

But the hottest bargain of the season is going on at the Hotel Taj in Sector 17. A visit to the place and one knows it is not an ordinary one with ensembles from brands like FCUK, Armani, Von Dutch, D&G, Versace, Dior and Bebe. ‘Brands for Less’, a known name in Delhi, has for the first brought the collection to the city. The sale that has ‘A to z’ dressing elements, including accessories like belts, caps and even lingerie from Victoria Secret, Express and D&G etc, is basically to evaluate the market in terms of potential buyers that the city has, explains Jerry, from Brands for Less in Delhi.

Owing to the excess production in the designer houses, these brands find their way to the Indian markets resulting in people buying the branded clothes for peanuts. One can have a Versace or an Armani jacket for as less as Rs 1,500 where as the same would cost him any where between Rs 10,000 or more.

Summing up about the city, Jerry believes that though the city has a price conscious market but then there is a section of society, which is not bothered by the price tags.

Well folks, the designer stuff is up for grabs only till Sunday. Are you ready to be branded?

Telly identity

Ajai Sinha
Ajai Sinha

Ajai Sinha who has shows such as Hasratein, Dollar Bahu, Justajoo, Samay, Gudgudee, Astitiva-Ek Prem Kahani and a feature film Stop to his credit is a big name to reckon with small screen. He is a director with a midas touch who has not only stuck to him formula to realistic storytelling but also emerged to be highly acclaimed. His latest soap Ghar Ek Sapna to be aired on Sahara One Television, produced by Sangeeta Sinha of Ananda Film and Telecommunications boasts of a spectacular star cast including actors like Shammi, Alok Nath, Harsh Chhaya, Himani Shivpuri and other popular stars such as Vineet Kumar, Darshan Dove, Barkha Madan, Kavita Kaushik and debutant Sayantani Ghosh.

While Astitiva was a super hit. Ghar Ek Sapna will surpass the popularity of Astitva. In the present scenario, the viewers tune into dailies regularly specially if they have liked them.

Ajai Sinha is known as a small screen always cut out for majority viewers that not only provides solid storyline but also guarantees good serials in the progress. He is a household name known mainly for his popular serials both entertaining fit for creating healthy taste in television.

“Realistic story-telling in soap something which I consider very important to express one’s ideals and reflect a reality we live with. It is never a medium of entertainment only. It has other roles to play”. Serials I have made so far show that I am more unconcerned with social issues. Sensitive soaps can pretty well show how things are and what they should be. Here lies the responsibility of a director who should be alert and known to remind the viewers what they should know. I think, small screen’s primary job is not only to entertain but also to educate, said Ajai Sinha who has already won the critics award for his path-breaking soaps.

Many small screen directors have taken a beating in the face of loud melodies dramas. But Ajai Sinha is trying to bring in something new and refreshing to the small screen viewers. Ghar Ek Sapna is a show with powerful story and unpredictable trusts twists”, elaborates Ajai Sinha. — D.P.

Tuning-In with Hardeep S. Chandpuri

While I was working with a major market radio station in Australia, one thing that used to baffle me was, as to how did radio stations divide their days and devise their rate cards. After spending some time with the station manager and the all-elusive marketing head, everything seemed to fit into place.

Radio stations divide their rate cards into dayparts. And the exact divisions vary from station to station and most importantly, from market to market. Internationally, a typical daypart division goes something like this: A.M. Drivetime between 6 to 10 am, Midday between 10 to 3 pm, P.M. Drivetime between 3 to 7 pm, Evening between 7 pm to midnight. Late night would be from midnight to 6 am and weekend would be, all day Saturday and Sunday.

In North America, some stations designate these periods by letter, with A indicating the dayparts with the least listeners and AAA or AAAA being the periods with the most listeners. The dayparts with the largest number of listeners are the most expensive to buy.

On majority of stations, A.M. drive time has the most listeners, with the P.M. drive time coming a close second. The price for advertising is often the same for both drivetimes because there are a shade less listeners during the P.M. drivetime, but one important thing is that the evening people are usually in more of a buying mood, than those rushing to work in the morning. Typically, Midday, has the third largest number of listeners, evening the next and late night has only a few, but fanatically loyal, hangers-on. Weekend listening varies a great deal depending on format and local listening habits. And in the US, rock stations are often strong on weekends. While almost all stations over there have larger audiences during drivetimes, this is especially true of news/talk stations, which often overwhelmingly dominate the airwaves.

On the other hand, stations that play the similar kind of music, have a different listening pattern. I mean closer home, stations that all sound alike will have huge division in their listenership. Who wants to listen to three stations that mostly play the same latest Bollywood hits?

Keeping the listeners hooked up to your station or just letting them go, is in the hands of the people running the show. In India, private radio is relatively a newer phenomenon, but the programming heads and the content specialists have to really put their act together and make a station that sounds good forever. Remember, it is relatively easy to set-up a radio station but, to run it consistently, it takes more than a couple of brains.

Deworming your pets
Dr Jaspreet Singh

No matter how clean you keep your puppy he will be at risk of worm infestations. Your pet can pick up the infection by eating infected soil, licking contaminated fur or paws, or by drinking contaminated water. Puppies and kittens are the most prone to worm infection. Because worms live in the small intestine, they steal the nutrients from the food your pet eats and that can lead to malnutrition and intestinal problems. As the larvae move through your pet’s body, young animals may develop serious respiratory problems such as pneumonia.

Worm infections are zoonotic diseases, meaning that they are animal diseases that can be transmitted to humans. While direct contact with infected dogs increases a person’s risk for worm infection, most infections come from accidentally eating the worm larvae or from larvae that enter through the skin. For example, children are at risk for infection if they play in areas that may contain infected feces, and they pick up the larvae on their hands.

Left untreated, worms can cause serious health problems when the larvae enter organs and other tissues, resulting in lung, brain, or liver damage. If the worm larva enters the eyes, permanent, partial blindness can result.

Healthy pets may not show outward signs of a worm infection. However, if you notice a change in your pet’s appetite or coat, diarrhoea, or excessive coughing, see your veterinarian. In most cases, a simple test can detect the presence of worm eggs or adults and, if present, your veterinarian will recommend a de-worming program. A good way to prevent worm infections is by using dewormers available from your veterinarian.

Prompt treatment of internal parasites lessens your pet’s discomfort, decreases the chances of intestinal damage, and decreases the chance that your pet will infect humans or other animals. You can help prevent the spread of infection by always cleaning up your pet’s droppings immediately.

Champagne and Roti

Richard Gere and Anoushka Shankar
Richard Gere and Anoushka Shankar

Actor Richard Gere was so famous for having two different women with him every time he dined at the original Nirvana restaurant during his bachelor days, that the owners of the new Nirvana 54 have named their most hidden and romantic table after him. Shamsher Wadud, the owner of the restaurant, recalls that Gere would show up with two women at Central Park South located restaurant and spend the evening having a ‘romantic time’. Wadud also remembers one particular week where the Pretty Woman star ended up visiting the eatery five times, each time coming with a different woman. He also revealed that Gere would dig into Indian food, and drink only champagne. As for settling the bill, well it was all cash and no card, Wadud recalled. Sporty Housewife

Newly-engaged Desperate Housewife Eva Longoria is all set to get sporty this year. Not only will she wed basketball star Tony Parker, but she’ll also model fashion house Bebe’s new sportswear line. Bebe Stores, Inc. has tapped the sexy actress to be the face of its Bebe Sport active apparel brand, reports Contactmusic. Longoria will feature in both print and TV ads as part of a major marketing campaign, according to magazine Life & Style. Meanwhile, Mischa Barton, who has been the face of the company’s bebe contemporary brand since early 2006, will continue her role as spokeswoman through spring 2007.

Work towards happiness

I am all of 26 years old and I never seem to feel really happy ever. I have heard of all the clich`E9d statements like "life is an attitude" etc. but it does not seem to be making much sense to me. I have always had everything, a good education, a wonderful family and great friends. Even my job is very good and well paying according to my friends. Somehow nothing seems exciting in my life as all is just drudgery. I feel completely bored and dissatisfied and wonder what I should be doing next. I know I sound like a real bore but that’s exactly the way I seem to feel about myself. Can you suggest me some way to make my life much better and exciting?

Renu Kalra, Chandigarh

Your only problem is that you have always had it all on a platter. You have not really had the need to work for anything. But then this too is an illusion as it is not only the material things that give us a meaning to our lives. Having it all on a physical plane is not really the only way. What you seem to be seeking is a meaning for your existence on this planet, until you have not found real focus and happiness will always seen to elude you. Find a reason to live for, a cause that could give you a certain level of fulfillment. After all life is not only about eating, having a good time holidaying, partying and being with friends. There is more to life than meets the eye. See how you can contribute to society in a meaningful fashion. Find your niche true happiness is not far behind.

I am a 45-year-old woman and my hobby is making cash during my vacations. My friends seem to think I am completely obsessed with making money but I feel that nothing seems to work without this one and only essential thing in life. I grew up in a financially restricted environment where as children every penny was counted and money was given too much importance. What began as a part time activity thing for me, that is, teaching yoga in the vacations seems to have developed into a full time business. I first enjoyed the small money I made. But I must confess now that I take 3-4 classes day. I am addicted to the cash flow. My husband and kids hate this but I love the freedom it has given me. Am I wrong in feeling this way?

Reema Kapoor, Patiala

Money sure is an essential thing in life but definitely not to a point where, it turns into an obsession. Yes it does give us a certain kind of level of freedom, that is financial freedom but the real sense of freedom has to be felt within you. If you are just indulging yourself in your hobby during vacations it is perfectly alright, I would say even if you are doing it as a business it is fine as long as you are not ignoring the other aspects of your life. There are many ways of directing your time in such a way that your family is not ignored and you are also happy and fulfilled in what you are doing. There’s a beautiful book titled "Do what you have the money will follow" so it is actually about making yourself happy. Prioritise your activities. Make time for your family and friends and then indulge your self in your hobby. The cash will follow anyway.

My girlfriend of 4 years is suddenly threatening to leave and I am completely shattered. Her family is moving to the U.S. so I have to come to a decision to either marry her or simply to let her go . I do not seem to be able to make up my mind either ways. I come from an orthodox Brahmin family and she is a Christian by birth. I have been delaying my marriage plans as I know that it will create a huge situation in our family. I but had always thought that somehow things would sort themselves out on their own but that does not seem likely now. I hate taking decisions in my life now I feel I am being pushed into a corner. I have always felt God takes the right decision and we only act upon those but somehow I am confused now. Can you please help me.

Rohit Sharma, Mohali.

Pull yourself together and just grow up. There is no excuse for weakness in life. Decisions have to be taken and only you can take the right decision for yourself. Remember life is about making responsible choices. You have to learn to take responsibility. Your girlfriend is absolutely right in thinking that she needs to move on. After all she has to make her life work. She cannot keep waiting for you to decide either this way or that. You must come to a decision and tell your family in a correct manner confusion gets us nowhere clarity is the answer to all questions. God only helps those who help themselves. There is just no running away from reality. Learn to face your life. Draw courage from within. Pray to god to give you the strength and clarity to take the right decision. Life will surely pick up for you the day you take charge of it.

Health tip of the day

Fitness means Speed, Stamina, Suppleness and Strength. In order to become totally fit one must combine Yoga exercises with aerobic activity and strength training. — Dr Ravinder Chadha

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