Worked up on Holi!
Corporate giants are adding colours of delight to the lives of employees by organising vibrant bashes across the city 
Saurabh Malik

WHAT was until a few years back a day of painting the town red with pals on motorbikes is now fast becoming another occasion to organise a corporate bash. Taking the lead are multinational corporate houses and some of the private educational institutes located in and around the city.

Go there and you find beaming-with-pride corporate honchos out of their immaculate blue and grey suits and neckties. Clad in cleanly filthy dresses, they liberally splash happiness on their “colleagues” (read subordinates).

Excitement rains. As the disc jockey mixes some cool “rang barse” tracks to set the pace for afternoon celebrations, the superiors in charge of the affair coax you to join them on the dance floor. Your refusal is turned down. Even without your consent, you are pushed on to the floor.

Well, water containers are not just for filling up the balloons. You can mix water with your drink before mingling with your colleagues, instead of friends, just like Holi colours.

“For once, the chain of command does not matter,” says Dheeraj Sharma, a regular corporate bash reveler. “On any other day you may hesitate in shaking hands with your bosses after pushing open the door to their out of bound offices. But, Holi gives you the opportunity of reddening their visage by rubbing them the wrong side”.

Still, not all like it. But, then they have very little say in the matter! True, the attendance is not exactly compulsory, but who can annoy the bosses, especially when increments are just round the corner.

“I hate attending one of those Holi bashes,” says Sangeeta, a young executive with a corporate house. “In any case, festivals are meant to be enjoyed with friends and family. Certainly not with coworkers and partners! But, I can’t help it. Everyone goes, and I just cannot take the risk of being the odd worker out”. Another information technology professional Deepak cannot help but agree. “Just because the boss has not friends or even cordial neighbours to go out and play Holi with, he takes the colour away from our celebrations. This is just not fair!”

Both Sangeeta and Deepak do not wish to make their last names public for the fear of being “targeted”. But let’s see how the corporate chiefs explain the trend that’s fast gaining the colour of popularity.

“The intention is to go beyond the office relation of boss and subordinate; and to build up better understanding based on mutual trust and accessibility,” says Pradeep Sharma, working as a top boss with an information technology company. “And what can be a better and informal occasion than Holi”. Colourful, indeed!

Colour of problems
Pammy Kaul

With colour all around today, it’s going to be difficult to stay away from it. However, don’t throw away all cautions to the wind while playing Holi. The trick is to take a few precautions.

So before you let your hair down, you should know the harmful effects of the chemicals present in synthetic colours. Organs that get affected by such chemicals are eyes, liver, kidneys, respiratory system, and irritation of the mucous membrane of the mouth and nose and even a renal failure. Exposure to chemicals like mica, acid, alkalis, pieces of glass, induce abrasions and impair vision.

For troubled tresses

  •  Cover your hair with a scarf or cap. Use gel or a leave-in conditioner. Coconut oil can also be used to protect the scalp.
  •  If you have streaked or coloured hair, particularly blonde and copper, you must protect your hair as green and pink colours stick to the hair and cannot be removed easily.
  •  Make sure you don’t scratch your scalp. This will make openings for the colour to enter into your skin. Use a mild shampoo, run your head under tepid water.

Save thy skin

  •  Take off the colour immediately as silica dries fast and chaps the skin causing burning, reddening, dryness, severe itching, rashes or angry breakouts. Use warm water and glycerine-based soap. Moisturise.
  • Steaming and gentle exfoliating are also good. A mix of sea-salt, glycerine, few drops of tee-tree oil or a clay pack could do wonders.
  •  Wear clothes that cover your body. Apply cold cream or waterproof sunscreen, coconut oil or paraffin oil. Protect your nails with nail paint. Rub vaseline and lemon juice for the whitening your nails.

So play to your heart’s content, but play it safe!

(The writer is a UK-based beauty therapist)

To new beginnings!
Come, soak in some true Easter spirit
Parbina Rashid

IT’S not Easter yet but we get to bite into a chocolate Easter egg. Even eat a piece of Simnel cake. Courtesy city bakers, who are busy baking Easter-special goodies. So, is Easter too going the Christmas way, motivating our bakers to whip up newer stuff? Well, to quote a few friends from the Christian community, it’s not an occasion, which they would like to see get commercialised. But hey, in a city known for its NRI population and globetrotters, one can’t totally remain unfazed by what is happening around the world. So lets join the world in Easter celebrations!

Goodies galore

Says Nikhil Mittal of Nik Bakers, ”Orders are already pouring in for Easter eggs and cakes, and cookies with Easter bunnies. A major chunk of the orders come from non-Christians. City people do know about the significance of Easter.”

So if terms like Simnel cake with a Marzipan egg baffle you, then all you need to do is make a visit to one of these eateries. At Nik’s, an order for Simnel cake comes for Rs 300 for half kg. This rich fruity cake comes with one sugary egg on top. According to Nik, the egg on top stands for the commandments of Jesus. As for the Easter eggs, take your pick from three varieties — in dark chocolate, white chocolate and milk flavoured shells. Priced at Rs 120 each, they have interesting fillings of gems and chocolate chips and a colourful outer coat to match the joyous mood.

At Monica’s, a small corner is being dedicated to Easter. Decorated with shells, these mini shelves are laden with delightful sugary eggs that come with candy and gems fillings (Rs 45 to Rs 70 a piece), silver wrapped Easter bunnies (Rs 45 each) and hot-cross buns (Rs 40 each).

Empire Store, one of the pioneers to have introduced Easter delights in the city, keeps up with its tradition this year too. Here the Easter eggs come with a filling of plum cakes with almonds icing. The pieces are priced between Rs 40 and Rs 60.

The story

As for the significance of Easter goes, it is a story we have heard over and over again, but it never loses its sheen, especially when we hear it from Charles Samuel, principal of Mount Carmel School and a member of Church of God-47. “This is the day Jesus kept his promise to his disciples and on the third day of his crucification, came back to life.”

Well, but where do Easter eggs and bunnies fit into? “It’s a tradition derived from the Roman culture. They were the firsts to be converted into Christianity, and along with them came a few traditions, which most of the time have no relevance except for the fact that they have been there always,” says Charles. However, according to belief, Easter egg is part of the celebrations as it symbolises fertility, or rather a new beginning.

Churches of Chandigarh are celebrating the occasion as per tradition — vigil mass on Saturday night, followed by morning mass and at some places, wrapped up with a community feast. But all churches of Chandigarh will unite on March 29 for a musical concert at St Stephen’s auditorium to raise money for the Bible Society of India. And, all are invited.

And so, do as Father P. Sahayaraj of Nabha Sahib Parish asks you to — “Celebrate the victory of life over death. For, Easter is a celebration of mankind.”


EGG hunt is a game during which decorated eggs are hidden for children to find. Eggs are placed with varying degree of concealment. Once the kids have found all the goodies, sit down for coffee over the eggs, cake and hot cross buns! Protect your work area with newspaper. Mix 1 teaspoon of vinegar and 20 drops of food colour (use more to intensify color) in 1 cup hot water, deep enough to submerge an egg completely. To create different tints, vary dipping times: Submerge eggs for less than 5 minutes for light colors, and 10 minutes or more for deeper shades. Or take coloured foil and crepe paper and simply wrap hardboiled eggs! Vegetarians, log on to and paint an egg using the mouse.

Designs on you
All shopping in the city seems to be going to  the designer dens. And rightly so. For, what is fashion if it stays on the catwalk?
Anandita Gupta

SO, who are you wearing this season?” The query (accompanied by a raised brow) came hitting at supersonic speed the second I entered this friend’s wedding. Here, I’d been expecting this Stu-C gang’s reunion to be chock-full of fond reminisces, inane jokes and toasting the good times together. And there I was, being asked about my designer label of all things! But then, this happened two years back, and of course, in Delhi. Today, when I see the same query being tossed around feverishly at social dos in town, fast replacing those social niceties/greetings (how’s life going/ how have you been?), I handle it well (experience is the best teacher, you see). For, with the likes of Ritu Kumar, Satya Paul, Rohit Bal and Sobha De having set shop in town, our city’s indeed woken up to it’s own fashion high street.

No wonder, our glitterati is busy scanning the length n’ breadth and the heights n’ depths of what the army of designers is throwing up in town. And of course, we’ve got our ladies, hopelessly falling in love with labels.

We take you around into the world of these fashionistas — Women, who are breathing, eating and walking bottom lines, tossing around geometric patterns (that could make mathematicians nervous!), talking about colour palettes ad nauseum (until Viren Talwar yawns n’ falls asleep). And looking ravishing in exorbitant outfits (Never mind the husbands’ nightmares!).

The all-encompassing shopping plazas may get footfalls in plenty but come a family wedding and they would scream designers. No wonder, as we enter Ritu Kumar’s-9 we are enamoured by scientist Sati Sahota and her aunt Parveen Mahal picking up an onion pink brocade ararkali (Rs 27,000). City-based NRIs, who’ve flown over from UK, to shop here for a wedding.

“Indian fashion’s going places and being from Chandigarh, I love to splurge here, ever since my fav designer Ritu Kumar’s set shop in town. Every year, I pick up my eveningwear from the store. And believe me, my English friends can’t have enough of them,” beams Sahota. “Ritu’s rich, regal fabrics leave me feeling sinfully luxurious. Since the store came up in town, I’ve been picking all my formal suits from here,” chirps Parveen Mahal, while slipping into Rs 25,000 mauve churipants, with silver aari work. Aver homemakers Shalu Swami and Richi Kaura-Rajiv Vihar, “Designer-wear’s exclusive, stylistic, and makes for a great wardrobe collection. We visit the store every month to grab gorgeous picks for our socialising sprees.”

Chips in Neelam Sodhi, running Gallerie 54-Kansal, “I simply love Rohit Bal’s creations. Bal’s couture is understated, elegant and comes with an excellent finish.” No wonder, the lady’s all set to splurge on Rohit Bal’s latest collection at Samsaara-17, in mud browns. Adds homemaker Jugnu Gill, “I love Satya saris for their off beat patterns and visit Taj often to splurge on them.”

Chips in 48-year-old Meera Singh, who initiated the Samsaara kitty-coffee two years back, “When you vouch for designer-wear you know it will show. Every hi-end designer has a distinct style, which is quite recognisable when you walk into a party. So women don’t mind paying the money. Though Samsaara has many designers, Tarun Tehlani, Deepika Gehani, Shantanu n’ Nikhil and Rohit Bal remain hot.”

Avers author-turned-designer Shobha De, “Chandigarh’s responded very well to my cocktail saris and the market’s growing. Instead of feeling enamoured by higher pricing of designer stuff, women here just don’t seem to have enough of it!” Agrees Azalia Liberty Singh, “De’s cocktail sari is the answer to my little black dress. My mom and me just love them for their versatility and appeal.” No wonder the duo shells somewhere around Rs 7,000- 28,000 to grab a piece.

Reasons fashionista Preeti Walia of Mohali, “Designers explore the whole gamut of texture, shaping and sizing to craft the most i-want-i-need-pieces. So, I make it a point to get my stuff tailormade from Sonia Ahuja-8, who knows my style and gives me excellent cuts and fit.”

Nothing less than a designer label flaunts their fashion dose in good measure!

Inner engineering 
Saurabh Malik

YOU have engineered a winning “nine-to-nine” career for yourself in the hectic corporate world. Now, it’s time for you to establish “meaningful and fulfilling relationships at work, home, and in the community” through “inner engineering”.

Now, don’t look so perplexed. Your reaction is in complete disparity with the intention behind the “inner engineering” programme. It’s been designed to help you strike a “healthy balance between the challenges of a hectic career; strive for high performance; and the longing for inner peace”. Just in case you are still finding it all too confusing, ask Isha Foundation members. Acclaimed for “transforming lives worldwide” through the programme, they tell you all about the course that is based on synthesis of holistic sciences.

“Inner engineering program is a live process aimed at assembling a rare opportunity for self-discovery with a view to institute health and vitality, besides enhancing mental calm and clarity,” says Sabreen Madan of the foundation. “It instills a deep sense of joy within you; in the process helping you lead a stress-free life with enhanced productivity at workplace”. 

It’s been designed by Isha Foundation initiator Sadhguru and facilitates you in the realisation of your full potential through interactive discussions, meditation and a balanced set of simple, yet powerful practices. “You can get yourself enrolled for the seven-day programme in Chandigarh from March 26 to April 1 at Don Bosco Church, Navjeevan Centre-24,” says Sabreen.

The Isha Foundation does not promote any particular ideology or race and simply transmits the inner science of universal appeal. The foundation has over 150 centres in India, the United States and other parts of the world. 

Power puff girls
Breathe easy in puff sleeves & balloon skirts
Anandita Gupta

Those body-clinging halters make you mutter the choicest abuses under your breath (why on earth weren’t you born size 0?). Trying on a pencil skirt makes your eyes (and bulges!) pop out. And slipping into those slinky, sexy dresses seems quite impossible. Well, this has been almost every city-gal’s fashion woes. For, those teeny-weeny, corset-hugging numbers may look gorgeous on the city shelves, but that’s it. For, a majority of us women hardly have the hourglass figures to flaunt them. So what do we do – sweat on the treadmill 24X7 to look like a leggy, reed-thin supermodel? Nah, thanks to our innovative battery of fashion designers, it’s bye-bye to the bulges. Volume fad has hit the city big time and is here to stay. So forget all about ‘flesh-scooping-out’ of your attire and have fun with these absolutely feisty, fluffy fashion-picks:

Flaunt it or leave it, but you just can’t ignore it. Volume silhouettes are storming the fashion stores around town. Ten West has cutesy frocks and short, ruffled tops with puffed sleeves (Rs 355-1,200) besides tunics and super-short shrugs (Rs 395-700) with ribbon drawstrings on puffed-up sleeves. Also available here are the fluffy, yet figure-flattering bubble tops (Rs 495-900). Billowy at the bottom and ballooned at the top (with their puff sleeves), these lycra tops in bright hues are ideal for the ‘baby-doll’ look!

Waga-10 is also a treasure-trove of all things voluminous. There are interesting tops (think slinky stripes on satin!), frilled shrugs and tunics (with polkas, lil’ dots and geometrical motifs), all having very puffed and fluffed up balloon sleeves. For formal occasions, there are these one-piece balloon dresses in animal prints (Rs 1,499). But the hottest grab here remains their balloon skirts (Rs 800-1,000) in shades like beige, white, army green, coffee and mouse brown!

Check out Polka, Shelly-8 and Micky Chhabra-10 for balloon tops and skirts in flowing fluttering georgettes and chiffons to the slinky satins, viscose and lycra, besides crisp cottons. Looking for designer labels? Check out Samsaara for Deepika Gehani’s wispy chiffon dresses with puffed sleeves. A lush garden of florals, paisleys and animal prints in acid colours, these numbers (around Rs 8,000) look very English with their puffed, elasticised sleeves! Rohit Bal’s georgette tops and tunics (Rs 10,000 onwards) also flaunt these sleeves.

Ready for motherhood

Oscar-winner Charlize Theron may soon be following Angelina Jolie, Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Lopez into motherhood. The Monster star recently revealed that she is ready to start a family with her leading man Stuart Townsend.

Theron in an interview said she had been playing around with the idea of having a baby for a few years, and that she’s finally ready to take on the responsibility of a child.

“I’ve been thinking about becoming a mom for a couple of years now. My biological clock is ticking, but it hasn’t gone off yet,” she said. “I couldn’t hope for my career to be going any better, and I have found the great love of my life in my relationship, so I think we’re ready to start having kids running around the house,” she said. — ANI

Telly Tales
Life goes on...
OSO maybe a thing of the past, but it has given our soaps ample food for thought!
Anandita Gupta

You simply adore that bindi-wearing, sari-clad telly bahu, who comes to your living room every evening. Her trials and tribulations get you tensed, her mushy dooh-daas melt your heart (sort of) and her tears evoke anger towards her oppressors. Yes, you’ve had your evening tea, biscuits and daily dose of gupshup with her for 205 episodes now and are still asking for ‘more’… More? Did we mean that ‘more’? Not actually, but it’s the directors and producers of these telly soaps, who vehemently believe so. No wonder, they want to breathe their last sigh, shooting for the soap (think Kyunkii… Kumkum…Kahani… Saat Phere!) they started their careers with.

After all, isn’t it so simple to churn, say a 200 more episodes of a soap that’s already riding on the high wave of TRPs, has a basic storyline (though it hardly remains that after crossing the 50th episode) and a target audience, than thinking of a new storyline, new actors and new concept? And so, while the soap factory goes out to churn endless episodes, the fizz keeps disappearing and there comes a point where one needs to think out-of-the-box. Oops, don’t get us wrong here, for ‘thinking’ here is also directed towards lengthening the same soap. For, all that requires is injecting a lil’ freshness in the same soapy world. And well, that brings us to the latest mantra our dear serial-killers (oops makers!) are falling in love with — Mission Reincarnation.

Yup, OSO may be age-old now, but our telly gurus are busy churning its adaptations. Take Zee’s Dulhan…for example. The famous pair of a suave Sagar and his illiterate wife Vidya just popped up, thanks to the efforts of Sagar’s devil-in-a-sister’s-flesh Sindhoora. And here they are, almost just a week later, in a brand new avtar. Divyanka (Vidya) now plays Divya—a 20 something belle, born and brought up abroad. And Sharad (Sagar) plays the character of a young guide—Amar—in Benaras. Both these characters are totally in contrast to their earlier selves. While Sagar was earlier playing a foreign-educated, suave businessman, he’s now a semi-literate guide, also a bramhachari. Sharad’s character is loosely inspired from Aamir Khan’s character in Raja Hindustani. He’s very popular amongst kids and women and is a complete charmer, despite having studied only till Class VIII.

Divyanka, who till now was seen in sindhoor, bindis and saris, has been reborn as a Gen Y babe, born and brought up in London. She’s a girl who’s lived her life in the lap of luxury and has always got what she has wanted. She’s a confident girl who loves to dress up and look good. She is a very sweet, innocent girl who doesn’t like any form of cruelty.

Avers Pearl Shahi, Creative Head, Dulhan, “Despite enjoying highest TRPs, we didn’t want to drag the same story too much. So we’ve added curiosity and interest by reincarnating our lovable characters in totally different avatars. But ultimately, they transform into their earlier-life selves.” And seems like the formula’s worked. For the serial is still enjoying highest TRPs.

What’s more, television’s popular jodi, Sumeet and Kumkum of Kumkum will soon be killed by Pulkit (Mukul Dev’s character) in order to accommodate Juhi’s demand for a break. Reportedly, the major reason for Juhi’s absence from the show is that she was disappointed playing a character older than her age. Hence, a reincarnation track is being worked out which will allow the actress to play a character her age. Well friends, it’s not just us but the actors too, who’re tired playing the same role for ages!

Choices galore
His appearance in Black & White wasn’t surely the blink-and-you-miss variety 
Parbina Rashid

TELEVISION is beckoning him like never before. But Vikrant Chaturvedi wants to pause and think — which way to go — TV, stage or 70 MM screen? “No, I am not going to take too long, lest all of them slip away,” he laughs. “But yes, I am at the crossroads right now,” says a happy Vikrant over the phone. Happy, because his recent release Black & White got him flooded with calls from producers, directors and well wishers.

“My friends and family are calling from all over the country to congratulate me for the part I played in Black & White (the CBI officer). This is the power of a Subhash Ghai film. You get noticed,” he says.

Well, so does a big banner play the lead factor in the accepting a film offer? “It definitely does. Like now people are calling me to say that they have watched me in Black & White. Had it been a small banner film, I would have been making the calls now, asking them to go and watch me,” he laughs. However, Vikrant does not apply the same logic while accepting a serial. “In films, it’s not the duration of the role which matters but the relevance of it. But for serials, the length counts. One has to make an appearance every day.”

But all said and done, it is theatre that makes him what he is today. A familiar face to the crowd of Chandigarh for his five roles he essayed in Lillette Dubey’s Sammy, staged during the Western Command function at Chandimandir recently, Vikrant is an established actor in the Mumbai circuit, having played in productions like Alyque Padamsee’s Begam Sumroo, Macbeth and Rahul Da Cunha’s Class of ‘84.

“I do not want to come to the point where I have to choose between theatre and films,” says Vikrant. He has just signed an Indo-American production, which is not titled yet. “The shooting for this will start in April and I am excited to do a cross-over film,” says the actor for whom variety is the spice of life. “I’ve acted in Shyam Bengal’s arty film Bose-the Forgotten Hero, Ghai’s commercial production and now a cross-over film, all in Hinglish,” says excited Vikrant. As for TV goes, his first commercial break came when he was offered a role in Akbar the Great, which was followed by Aurat, Vishnu Puran and Thief of Baghdad.

Any regrets about giving up a job in the UPSC allied services to follow his childhood fantasy? “Well, right now my problem is to get enough work to sustain myself. But had I become an IAS, I would have to keep dancing to the tune of politicians all my life. Not my cup of tea actually.” Now, how many actors are lucky to have such a choice?

Little Interview
Cheering up dada-dadi, mummy-papa and bachas are Mauli Dave & Sharad Kelkar. Anandita Gupta chats up telly’s newest anchors
Romantic &  empathetic

He may not be our conventionally tall, dark and handsome Mills and Boon hero, but nonetheless, he’s a ladies man. Strikingly handsome in his own unique way, this Maharashtrian is as romantic in real life as in his serial Saat Phere. Playing dusky Saloni’s doting hubby Nahar, MBA-turned-model-turned-actor Sharad Kelkar has added yet another feather in his multi-plumed cap. Having anchored Zee Dubai’s Antakshri last year, this Grasim finalist (2002) is now anchoring Zee’s Rock N’ Roll. We chat him up on the experience:

Do you feel you possess the qualities of a good anchor?

I believe anchoring is more challenging than acting. Besides being spontaneous, one has to be on his toes, flaunting 100% energy level throughout the show. And yes, in a performance judging show, it’s very important to emphathise with the participants. I’m sure I’ve got all this.

How close are you to Saat Phere’s Nahar in real life?

(Laughs) I’m a staunch family man like Nahar. And well, I’m totally nuts about my wife Kirti in real life as well!

What kind of a bond do you two share?

I feel Kirti is a much better actress than me. She’s been my guru as far as learning acting and improving voice modulation is concerned. In fact, I’m from MP and wasn’t very fluent with English, but my wife helped me a lot in grooming myself.

Your journey from M.P. to amchi Mumbai.

It’s been an enjoyable roller coaster. After completing my graduation, I began teaching physical education. Once, while visiting friends in Mumbai, I took up some modelling assignment as a hobby and to make good bucks, and then decided to take modelling seriously. Thereafter, I became one of the top 10 finalists in Grasim Mr India 2002. Commercials, soaps and anchoring followed. 

All About Fizz...

If you are a taker for our telly’s song and dance talent hunts, you know her well. Probably, you sang with her, clapped for her, voted for her, and even shed a few tears when this affable and charming lass got voted out of Sa Re Ga…Charming, confident and extremely talented, 19-year-old Mauli Dave from US made even the judges name her India’s Shakira. Spreading her effervescent fizz in Zee’s Rock N’ Roll, we cue her on the show and more:

We’ve learnt you are an all-rounder?

Yup, I’m the archetypal jack of all trades. Other than being a straight ‘A’ student, I’m also a graphic designer, painter, tabla player, dancer and singer all rolled into one. And hey, I love to make portraits and dance. I was also crowned Miss Teen India Texas in 2007.

Are you trained in any dance?

I have Diploma in Kuchhipudi, the dance form I mastered at the age of 12. Dancing is my passion, but of course, singing is closer to my heart.

How was it getting eliminated from Sa Re Ga…?

Ever since I sung the song Mayya Mayya from Guru, I received overwhelming accolades from all my gurus and people via text messages. So yes, I was very disillusioned initially. But then, I decided to move on. I’m now very happy, doing Rock N’ Roll and am also releasing my own album.

How has been your little experience with the glamour industry?

I’m a very simple person at heart and glamour does intrigue me at times. But this family dance show I’m anchoring is 100% fun and masti unlimited!

City children say bye-bye to teddybears & cuddly dolls, hello to virtual toys
Games Kids Play
Anandita Gupta

The last time I visited my best friend’s daughter’s room, there was something missing. After wondering for hours why wasn’t it looking like a kid’s room, I realised that despite the paraphernalia of all things fancy (read painted theme-walls, funky floor cushions, Ludo bed sheet and animal-print curtains), the ‘feel’ of it was missing. There wasn’t a single pile of time-honoured storybooks, no classic fairytales, and well, no toys – furry fluffy teddies we couldn’t sleep without, cuddly dolls we’d whisper our girly secrets to, brain-racking puzzles, scrabble, monopoly, battery-operated airplanes and toy cars we’d drive around in the house…And of course, no playing around in the neighbourhood.

As I later learnt from my friend, her 8-year-old didn’t need such ‘outdated’ stuff. For, she was already venturing into sophisticated online neighborhoods and virtual communities. Though there are surely no toxins or lead-based paints in the virtual-toy world, is my friend’s daughter (and the other kids in that age-group) actually doing themselves any good by bidding bye-bye to the real world-toys? We find out:

Says health and fitness expert Rangoli Sodhi, “I still remember how excited we used to be about playing outdoors every evening post homework. But most kids now are aversive to the idea. They like to spend all the time with their PCs. With these virtual toys and gaming sites becoming fashionable, they sit and stare at the screen for 4-6 hours in a row. No wonder, we are facing the ever-expanding child obesity problem.”

But what was the exercise involved in dolls, soft toys and say toy cars? “Dolls and teddies didn’t involve any movement, agreed. But they were an excellent vent for kids’ emotions. Games like ghar-ghar, kitchen-kitchen and Gudiya ki shaadi involved creative interaction with other kids. Driving around in toy cars and riding toy cycles involved movement of at least some of the body parts. Besides being excellent exercises, they helped in developing the child’s gross motor skills. But these virtual games are very mechanical,” chips in Rangoli’s sister Sanjoli Pandey, who has a 7-year-old daughter Adaa.

Reasons practising psycologist Rajshree Sarda, “Children have some latent negative energies in them. If exposed to the Internet and harsh realities of the world through the virtual medium at the young age, these could be aroused. Though virtual toys are not a very negative concept, they could lead to your child spending more time on the PC, and consequently Internet, which is dangerous.” Laments language instructor Anjali Chauhan, “My son’s in Class VII and he doesn’t even know how to climb a wall. Kids nowadays are hardly interested in the simple, physical games we used to play. And the sad part is that most parents feel happy seeing their child glued to the PC. They’re always presuming that their child’s reading or surfing for some info. But they really can’t be sure that he’s not getting lured by those dangerous sites. Moreover, these virtual toys are eroding team spirit among children and making them selfish loners.”

Cautions Simmi Waraich, consulting Psychiatrist with Fortis, “As it is, our lives are getting quite isolated. Joint families are disintegrating into nuclear families and both parents being working, lesser time is being spent with the kids. Consequently, kids are being lured by the virtual toy sites, which are a whole, exciting world in themselves. Like there’s this site called, where a kid can buy t-shirts, pets or igloos for his/her virtual penguin. Though it’s quite a safe site, the only thing is that a child shouldn’t get addicted to it. Also, it’s important that the child should play on only the safe toy sites, that don’t lure him/her into chatting online and disclosing any personal information. So the parents should monitor the kids playing on these sites.

First Day First Show
Headspinner all the way!
Race watchable
Rajiv Kaplish

LET’S say it upfront. Allah duhai hai should be our and not Saif and Bipasha’s chorus. Can we belt out anything else in the middle of an audio-visual assault of men-in-white variety (directors Abbas-Mastan)?

There are as many twists and turns in the story of Race as are contradictions in the persona of the filmmakers. They ‘believe’ in simplicity (“We wear white clothes because we like to be simple,” the duo told an interviewer on the eve of the film’s release!), but have churned out a product that has all the trappings of luxury. Designer houses, flashy cars, snazzy outfits — you name it, they have it.

By restricting their vocabulary to three words — glamour, glitz and gorgeous — the helmsmen think they can trick us into going gaga over their assembly of double-crossers.

The premise — sibling rivalry of racer Ranbir (Saif Ali Khan) and his stepbrother Rajiv (Akshaye Khanna) has assumed diabolic proportions. While outwardly professing undying love for each other, they are in reality plotting against each other. Overpowered by a sense of greed and betrayal, each of them is taking the other for a sucker. All for grabbing insurance moolah running into millions of dollars.

Aiding and abetting them in their designs are glam dolls Sonia (Bipasha Basu) and Sophia (Katrina Kaif) who have secret plans of their own. On the trail of all of them are crime buster Robert D’Costa (Anil Kapoor) and his assistant Mini (Sameera Reddy).

Cars are blown up at regular intervals, scantily-clad sirens serenade on beaches, contract killers are hired, people fall off skyscrapers and stables turn into rendezvous for steamy affairs. All in exotic South Africa. After all, how can a race for mega bucks be held at desi locales?

Even though the plot has holes as big as those in fishing net and can make your head spin, an attack of vertigo is thwarted by the refreshing antics of Akshaye Khanna and Anil Kapoor. While glum-faced Saif carries a perpetual sulk (was he not paid the final installment of his fee?) and does not allow his smile to reach his eyes, lovable rogue Akshaye enlivens the proceedings with his one-liners. Buffoon Anil seems to have come for the shooting straight after attending a camp organised by dieticians of a hospital and keeps munching on oranges, bananas, strawberries and other fruits in the midst of investigations. Though after his tour de force performance in Black and White, his role in Race does not improve his image, yet it manages to break the tension in the thriller.

Bipasha Basu and Katrina Kaif are busy competing for the title of Miss Long Legs. So, besides adding a dash of glamour, they hardly do anything to thrill the audience. Sameera Reddy, the understudy of Anil Kapoor, plays the zombie that she is supposed to be. Johnny Lever and comedian Gurpreet Ghuggi are pathetic in their miniscule roles. At least, three songs are melodious and may become huge hits. Watch it in Holi spirit, if for nothing else!

Showing at: Fun Republic, Batra, KC (Pkl) 

Rocking  among boulders
Yana Banerjee-Bey

THE end of winter and the short Indian spring is the best time for rock climbing. The daytime temperature outdoors is pleasant; it’s not too cold or windy, and you can enjoy climbing with the sun on your back as you swarm up an easy rock face or muster strength and technique to surmount a difficult one. In the middle of a day of rock climbing, you can take a break and unpack your lunch. After picnicking on a boulder, you can rest a while and even snooze on a mat before resuming climbing. Or, the latter half of the day can be given over to rappelling (lowering yourself down a rock face quickly via a rope) which is less strenuous and more fun for beginners and the less accomplished climbers.

Most people get introduced to rock climbing either by enrolling for a course organised by an adventure club or through friends who are already skilled climbers. The mountaineering institutes in Manali, Uttar Kashi and Darjeeling also teach rock climbing.

You need no special gear: They will provide all the hardware (metal equipment that is used to provide safety while climbing), harnesses and ropes. You should wear stretch track pants that allow you to bend, crouch and stretch freely. It is not a good idea to wear shorts as a beginner because you can scrape your knees against the rock. Your T-shirt can be short-sleeved though a long-sleeved one will protect your elbows. However, elbows don’t get scraped as much as knees! But covering your arms will save them from sunburn.

Sun protection through clothes, creams, hats and dark glasses is vital. However, don’t be rigid about this. As a beginner, you might find the going easier when you are learning technique on a rock face if you take off your sunhat and dark glasses. If this is so, take them off by all means .

Also take off chains, watches, bangles and rings. Apart from interfering in your climbing, jewellery can cause injury if a fall occurs. Falls in rock climbing, when you are learning, are not that frequent. The big falls will occur at a later stage, if and when you decide to take up the sport in a big way and become an accomplished rock climber. This is because you will learn on easy rock faces (called nursery rocks) on which there are plenty of large, easy-to-grip protrusions or depressions (called holds) and where neither the height nor the gradient is intimidating. Good rock climbers fall more often because they pit themselves against climbs where the degree of difficulty is just beyond their ability. It is only when you do this that you upgrade your ability. In the process, falls will and do occur. In both rock climbing and sport climbing, which I discussed earlier ( /2007/20071027/ttlife.htm), if you are not falling frequently then your strength and technique are not increasing because you are not pushing the frontier of your endurance.

Unlike sport climbing, rock climbing can be a dangerous sport if you (and this means each member of the group) are not constantly on guard regarding safety aspects. Extreme rock climbing is a highly dangerous activity and only the best rock climbers do it – free climbing smooth, vertical or overhanging, rock faces solo. Since rock climbing became a popular sport in the early 20th century in Britain, many of the world’s best climbers have fallen to their deaths while free climbing solo.

Of all the popular adventure sports, rock climbing is the one that requires the most dedication and perseverance. This sport has to be painstakingly achieved and, when it does visit you, it is subtle and fleeting. You must develop a passion for rock climbing over time otherwise its unique element – the pitting of oneself against oneself, with all one’s strengths and weaknesses, physical as well as mental – will remain obscure to you. But, once you taste it, you will be hooked for life.

(This column appears fortnightly)

Health Tip

Correct Sitting Posture has become an integral part of healthy living. Correct posture helps place minimum stress on body when the spine position is ‘S’ shaped. However, sedentary lifestyle, sitting in front of the computers for around 8-10 hours in office, watching television and operating remote control gadgets are all leading to incorrect posture. When sitting incorrectly, the spine adopts a forward “C” shape. Wrong posture can lead to health problems like impaired breathing, musculo-skeletal pain, and fatigue.


Goals for correcting postural problems include restoring range of motion, increasing flexibility and strengthening weak muscles. The correct posture while sitting is when the chair seat height allows a person to place feet on the floor with knees and hips bent at 90 degrees. The chair’s back should support the lower back and come at the lower border of scapula. While using a computer keyboard, the forearms should at 90 degrees. — Dr Ravinder Chadha

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