Lone ranger
Pradeep Bhagat, the new principal of the Chandigarh College of Architecture, is a die-hard green warrior 
Neha Walia

We are forced to take a stand now, think beyond borders, doing instead of talking. When the issue is global warming, the most that we have done is talk about it wherever we can — living rooms, coffee shops, college debates and Parliament. Since now even environment minister Jairam Ramesh has also announced that India would consider voluntarily reducing its carbon intensity by 20 to 25 per cent on purely domestic basis, understanding the need of the hour, here’s an inspiration closer home.

Pradeep Bhagat, the principal of the Chandigarh College of Architecture, may not have brought a revolution but at least made a difference with a simple gesture — by riding a bicycle. “And, not for a day or a week or a month, but since 1994, whether to office or to the lake or some other place, the only thing that carried me was my cycle. Sometimes, I used to board a CTU bus to come down to my office and then walk back home,” he says. A sportsperson and into gymnastics, keeping fit was never a problem but then cycling also became a way of showing concern towards his mission against pollution.

Now, the fact that this 51-year-old environmentalist by choice doesn’t mind coming from his Sector 18 residence may be surprising for us but its healthy ritual for both, him and the poor environment. “No where in the country, apart from Chandigarh, would we find such good network of routes for cycling. I am surprised why people don’t encourage this mode of transportation,” he says. Because they have their big cars to show, we make a guess. “True, I realised that long back when I used to be stared at by others on road, like I was somebody from another planet. But I turned a blind eye, for me they were the funny ones,” he shares. One of the instances was with his own daughter, “She used to learn tennis and one day I got there on my bicycle and she conveniently ignored me. Later, she asked me to not come on bicycle, since it was weird for her in front of her friends,” he says. Well, criticism and inspiration both come from home, isn’t it?

And, in his mission, his passion and a Firefox, his fourth cycle, were equal partners. “During the first 8-10 years of my cycling, I formed a cycling club with a group of students and we used to go for expeditions,” says Pradeep. But his real motivation came from the two years spent in Germany. “I went to do a course in Architectural lighting design and was amazed by the German’s craze for cycling. The motorists respect them and it’s their favourite mode of conveyance.”

The architectural light expert says the green City Beautiful is a growing hub of light pollution, yet another environmental hazard. “We have issues like glare and waste of energy due to improper and unplanned lighting around the city. We need to reduce lighting load and a planned system,” he says. Though we are not exactly where Paris stands (even the sky is not visible due to light pollution there), he gives example of Sector 17, city roundabouts and Lake Island, which are the most effected areas. “Green or red lights are harmful for the flora and fauna, but every city round about has it. They may be good for architectural feature but a lot of energy goes waste. He has been studying the architectural light design of city and also conducted workshop at the Light Fair in New York this year. “We need dual system of lighting to over come the waste, polluted areas needs more lighting than less polluted ones. Even CFLs are not the solution, but more use of metal halides, incandescent lights and subtle expertise in this area would be helpful.” And, save atleast 80 percent of the energy being consumed now. Well, Jairam Ramesh will like this one.

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  Social saga
Bubbu Tir brings out her collection of socio-political essays

Ik Baat Main Paavan is the latest collection of socio political essays by Bubbu Tir that was released by finance minister, Punjab, Manpreet Singh Badal. “My first book was Surmayi Shaam, a collection of poems,” shares the author. Ik Baat Main Paavan is a collection of 150 essays that Bubbu wrote for Jagvani.

“My book addresses topics that usually don’t come up in drawing room chats. Issues like anti-establishment, anti-corruption, female infanticide are the ones that need most attention but not just in our living rooms,” she says.

“My writing has a touch of my father Gurnaam Singh Tir who was called Chacha Chandigariya. He would think intellectually and was a very gentle speaker. He spoke the language of a common man. I imbibed that subconsciously and that reflects in my writing. So my stories that I would refer to as ‘fictionalised facts’ are told very sensitively yet have a certain boldness in them,” she says.

Finance minister Manpreet S Badal lauded Bubbu for she is taking the legacy of her father, who was himself a bold writer ahead.

Manish Tiwari, MP, Ludhiana who was the guest of honour at the event appreciated that Bubbu writes in Punjabi. It’s the way to preserve the culture, he said.

— Mona

Song of wisdom
S.D. Sharma

Normally on the very thought of sufi conjures up imagines of some saint reveling in the glory of his preceptor with a beatific vision and transcending the unity conscious (tauheed), but it gets negated when you meet a modern beautiful lady like Devika unless you interact to realise that she too is a sufi, dil se.

Flourishing with Sufiana musical strains of her latest album Saari Raat, the soulful singer finds utter solace and tranquility delving into the spiritual culture and literature.

Born and raised in Delhi, Devika honed her talent by listening to melodious classical compositions of her aunt Pal Kaur and participated in functions at Modern School in Delhi. After doing a master degree in computer science and mathematics from Washington DC, she rose to the post of a director in Yahoo Internet Services. Her passion for classical music revolted following a visit by family friend Ustad Ali Amjad Khan and his memorable concert at San Francisco. She fell under the tutelage of Ustad Sukhawat Ali and mastered the finer nuances of the musical art. Her maiden album Kehnde ne Naina made waves, especially the title song, which was included in the great Sufi music treatise “Teri Deevani” featuring all-time great singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Her tracks Ek tera pyar and Dil embellished the Punjabi Rapper Bohemia’s album Da Rap Star.

Her Saari Raat is a bright culmination of cross continent collaboration with soulful lyrics replete with sufiana wisdom, soothing music by Shahi Hasan of Pakistan and technical virtuosity of recoding of the USA. The regional release ceremony of the album, produced by Sa Re Ga Ma and Faith Records, was performed at Hotel Piccadily-22 where Devika interacted with mediapersons. 

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PAA (T Series): When Ilaiyaraaja gives background music for a Hindi film, expectations are bound to be sky high. His earlier offerings like Sadma, Cheeni Kum, Appu Raja may not have been the biggest of hits but as far as music was considered, it was pure class.

This time too has come up with tracks which are handled with extreme sensitivity. Ilaiyaraaja's methodical approach to arranging, recording technique, and his drawing of ideas from a diversity of musical styles are clearly visible. These songs are not composed with box office in mind but the music aficionados.

The high stage is set with the very first offering itself. Mudhi mudhi iteefaq se has Shilpa Rao on a melodious journey. Things get even better with a similar Udhi udhi ittefaq se by the same singer. The same theme is also played out in Gali mudhi ittefaq se by Shaan.

He makes Sunidhi Chauhan shed her usual style to come up with a gentle and soothing Hichki hichki.

K. Bavatharini, Shravan and chorus bring childhood style of singing alive in Gum sum gumm. Quite similar is Halke se bole.

But the piece de resistance is Amitabh Bachchan's Mere Paa. It is quite difficult for a 60-plus to sing like a six-year-old but he has done that. The album ends with the Paa theme, which has been remixed by Vickky Goswami.

Lack of interest

DIL LUTTEYA (Times Music): Punjabi albums by new singers are a dime a dozen. But when the debut is by Daljit Hans, who has been disciple of Padmashree Hans Raj Hans for over 10 years, one has to sit back and take notice.

He does have a powerful voice. Unfortunately, the debutant has not come up with any song, which can be called outstanding. He mixes the traditional Punjabi folk with rock flavour, but the end result is not something which stands out. Nor does he choose top grade lyrics as his guru always does.

Perhaps he should have left the job of composing music to someone else, but he has done it himself. The compositions are not bad but they are not exceptional either.

There is so much cutthroat competition in the field of Punjabi singing today that one has to be several notches above the others to survive. Daljit has had good grounding, under the tutelage of Ustad Hans Raj Hans, Ustad Salamat Ali Khan and Ustand Shafqat Ali Khan. One hopes that he puts it to good use and learns with experience. – ASC

Kangana's Pratigya

Bollywood is no bed of roses, especially for Kangana Ranaut, a small town girl walking the tight rope of showbiz, balancing controversies, heartbreaks and a fledgling career in films.

The 22-year-old-actor says it has not been an easy ride but insists that she has learnt her lessons.

And to share those lessons, Kangana has decided to support a new show Pratigya to be aired on Star Plus from December 7 which details the life of a small town girl grappling with situations of eve teasing and disrespect but coming out as a reformer in the end.

"In metros, girls are independent, conscious and aware. But in the interiors of our country where education is not given importance, they continue to be oppressed. But it is important for every woman to acknowledge what she wants from herself rather than going for what people expect from her," Kangana said.

"I have faced a lot of eve teasing myself. I remember I could not step out my home after 6 pm in fear of getting hounded by hooligans. But now I think we should stand up to such situations and fight back," she added.

The actor, who reportedly had an affair with actor Aditya Pancholi, and complained of being physically abused by him, says she has had her share of 'tortures' but has come out as a winner.

"Nobody was my support. You have to support yourself and I think that is the beauty of being a woman. You can handle anything and be ten times better than men," she said.— PTI 

Honour bound

Legendary playback singer Lata Mangeshkar was conferred with the Officer de la Légion d'Honneur (Officer of the Legion of honour) medal, the highest French decoration, at a glittering function recently. The medal, created by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, is awarded for exemplary service in military or civilian life. The award can be conferred on a French national or a foreigner for outstanding contributions in their field of work.Mangeshkar was conferred with the award for her incredible contribution to Indian music.— ANI

Ma belle
Ballerina Ellen Davis and belly dancer Sajeeva Hurtado use dance for self-transformation
Neha Walia

The thing about meditation, finding inner peace, falling in love with oneself etc etc is that the idea is as abstract as the application. Call it therapeutic, spiritual awakening or plain exercise to keep healthy, introduction to your own self seems like the most difficult job in the world for those who aren't familiar with the art. So, here are two facilitators, if that's a more appropriate term to use, who came to the city to teach an entertaining way of self-transformation. That, and everything along like self-love, bridging the gap within and learning two completely different dance forms, belly dancing and ballet, but with the same motive.

Healing touch

A doctor who dances like an Egyptian and heals like the Chinese. Sajeeva Hurtado, the two-time world belly dancing champion, will teach the city an altogether different aspect of belly dancing. "Belly dancing is all about connecting with yourself, the joy of dancing and not the technique,' she says. The Columbian dancer who fell for dancing when she was five and has been performing and teaching belly dancing for ten years now, believes in movement therapy, "Dance is an excellent way to help one experience and express their emotions. The process of movement therapy is often helpful in resolving inner conflicts. Belly dance offers us much more than fun, physical exercise and fantasy," she clears on that.

Mixing the traditional style with other forms like Belly tango and flamingo, she is a healer too with her expertise in dance therapies. "I work with Chinese therapies of five elements of nature. I create dance for every organ of the body and motion of melodies. In belly dancing, arms are like roots of hearts and that's what you need." She has previously taken workshops at Osho Ashram in Pune and discovered the concept in Indian context. "Dance has a root in India. Indians, unlike Europeans dance from heart and not mind," says the dancer who will take workshops in Delhi, Bhopal and then will head to Europe. "And I lost 20 kgs through belly dancing." Sensual, mystical and healthy, who cares about having two left feet?

Pointe work

Ellen Davis has a completely different target group but the objective resonates with that of Sajeeva. A ballet dancer for past 50 years, associated with Stuttgart Ballet Company and a student at the School of American Ballet, New York, is here to teach students of Pause, an after-school learning space for children in Manimajra.

Her experience as a ballet teacher for past 31 years, she enjoys her calling, "Dance is like a prayer, a vehicle to facilitate awareness in the deepest possible way," she says. For her, dance is a way of balancing inner and outer self and attaining harmony of mind, body and spirit. And, the aspiration towards perfection doesn't come with the right technique but self-belief. "There is a dancer in everyone. The most rewarding experiences come to me not by teaching the talented but the ones who thought they were uncoordinated,” she says.

Her first experience in India was 12 years back, when she visited Aurobindo ashram in, Puducherry. Teaching the kids pre-ballet or creative movements, she has a yogic approach to her dance. "It's not traditional asanas or ballet postures. Ballet is competition or fear motivated but here, the it's loving and accepting," she says. And, here's another catch, weight loss. "Enthusiasm is important, self acceptance follows and then the baggage drops once you know who you are. Don't call it weight loss," Ellen emphasises.

[email protected]


FACT FILE: Sajeeva will conduct five-day workshop in belly dancing and Columbian salsa at Ozone fitness n spa-9 from December 7-11 and Varun dance studio-6, panchkula from December 12-16 December. Ellen davis will conduct 15-day workshop at Pause, Manimajra starting mid-December.

Smile & make-up
Ashima Sehajpal

Fact I: There are no registered female make-up artistes in Bollywood. Men rule the industry.

Fact II: Actors around the world demand for make-up that gives them an Indian look.

Fact III: It's tougher for make-up artistes to make actors look bad on screen than good.

Myths done away to be replaced with realities, some pleasing, some otherwise by Yasmin Rodgers, a make-up artiste based in Mumbai, who was on a personal visit to the city on Friday.

Her in-depth knowledge of the glamour industry is the result of Indian and international experience she has gained over 15 years. "Still I need to constantly update myself on what is happening in the field as trends are ever evolving," says she before spelling the recent trend, "Indian bolder and browner look is in. Make-up artistes abroad are rather learning how to put kohl and bridal bindi."

The Indian look, as she says, got popular first when Madonna applied henna on her hands for her album but it gained momentum after Slumdog Millionaire. Though the movie wasn't from the Bollywood counter, still she credits the huge fan following of the Indian film industry for the Indian looks to become a rage. "Indian make-up was despised for it's loud and bling elements. Also, a bit of India is being shown in almost every foreign film," something that was recently noticed in 2012. Even Julia Robert's Eat Pray Love has an elaborate Indian wedding scene. Yasmin too is rendering Indian look to two Russian men in an upcoming Russian film. Besides this, what kept her busy of late was Bollywood flick Shrafat Gayi Tel Lene starring Zayed Khan and Ranvijay Singh besides a few American and Brazilian films.

Though expert at doing Indian make-up, she didn't get to do many projects in Bollywood since the rule there is, only men make-up artistes are allowed on the sets, "It was appalling when I first got to know that women make-up artistes have their entry banned on the sets. We are asked to do make-up either in the vanity vans or studios." The reason for this absurd rule, she is still also not aware of.

And, her art is not limited to make stars only. There is more to the make-up, "Drawing bruises, putting blood on actors to make the scene look real. If in a fight scene, the actor does not have enough bruises, wounds and grease on his body, how would it look like real?" Another challenge is to make actors look older than their actual age, which is what she did to Neha Dhupia for Bollywood Hero, a crossover film. "A few years back, the job for an make-up artiste was to make the actor look good on screen. Now, it is to give the actor look a realistic look, which is tougher." Tough indeed!

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