Appetite for art
Eating joints in the city have become the latest forum to promote art. Ashima Sehajpal finds out

At Sundaram it’s art from down South 

Art is meant to soothe the senses. Senses are common to all human beings, so is visual art. Even if one isn't a connoisseur and fails to understand the artist's thought process, visual art is definitely meant for the masses.Mural work at the ITC by Krishen Khanna, and our very own Satwant Singh's work in hotel Sunbeam and Chop Sticks are on the same lines. "Art is for the public and to please the eye. Food and paintings, the two forms of art, are appreciated better when juxtaposed," says Satwant Singh. 

Therefore, he painted underwater fish, dragons, rocks and boulders, palm and cherry trees on the ceiling and walls of Chop Sticks. "This was to assure that people enjoy the food along with the ambience."

And it's a similar scene at various restaurants in the city; art and food are presented together to 'soothe the senses.' At Sundaram's, 26, colour is added to the otherwise pastel interiors through mural work. The paintings have a South Indian touch. Says Shankran Sundaram, owner of the joint, says, "This has been consciously done to reflect the culture of the South." He adds that being from Chennai it was natural for him to introduce an element of art in his restaurant. "Chennai is popular for Tanjore art. Also all temples in South India have an element of art in various forms. I wanted to mirror the connection of art with food."

Says Anil Grover from Rock n Rio, "Food is for the body and art is for the soul." The painting of a guitarist here is in tandem with the interiors. It speaks about the character of the place where rock bands perform. Another artwork here is the copy of Le Corbusier's painting. "Food and paintings are connected as both serve the purpose of engaging people. Both have a visual appeal. People will prefer a dish that's well garnished to the one that is not," says Anil.

Artwork has found a place not just on the walls of eating joints, but on the menus as well. Manor-26 has a print of the original, description of the artist and other artworks alongside the menu. And the logic behind it? "Fine dining experience and indulgence in art are both associated with luxury. People who can afford to eat out on a regular basis, we suppose, can also buy art. This information is provided by our menus," says Munish Bajaj, the owner.

Prints of the originals on the menu are also a part of British colonial theme of the restaurant. Besides, it's also an engaging activity. Adds Munish, "We have observed that our guests read the information given on paintings with much interest."

At Sundaram's too mural is utilised well, "Youngsters pose in front of the paintings and get their pictures clicked," quips Sundaram.

For quite some time now, Government College of Arts students have been contributing to Hotel Mountview and Lakeview. Says AK Malhotra, general manager, Mountview, "Dining out is a wholesome experience. Ambience and décor of a place counts as much as the preparation."

Stone sculptures crafted by students are showcased in the coffee shop and lobby of Mountview. Artist Namita Kohli, who has painted mural titles Tantra and Triangle at the Lakeview, feels that food has become the medium to promote art. There is of course a correlation between the two. "Food and art change with demographics and are an extension of the lifestyle of people. In spite of stark differences between art and food of two places, the basic remains the same: to please people," she says. And like we said…to soothe the senses!

Wings clipped
Desiltation of Sukhna Lake is destroying the habitat of many bird species. There is a need to calibrate the process and retain some marshy areas
 Vikram Jit Singh

Most householders recognise the Red-wattled lapwings (teteeri) as ceaseless callers. But at the regulator end of Sukhna Lake, they are silent milling around the vestiges of a large pond, like half-clad slum children watching a demolition drive. Bird songs have been replaced by Punjabi hip-hop music blaring from tractor trolleys ferrying excavated silt. Uprooted grass and reeds lie scattered like tombstones on this graveyard of biodiversity!

While morning walkers over the years fretted over the siltation eating into Sukhna's vitals, a diverse habitat of weeds, reeds and secluded ponds has come up on the fertile soil at the regulator end. Apart from some rare sightings like the Common merganser, the tall reeds sprang a surprise in 2009 with the sighting of the Bristled grassbird, a species listed worldwide as 'vulnerable' by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Numerous snake species, terrapins, blazing-red dragonflies, grassland birds and Sambhars crashing through reeds marked the regulator end marshes as a very accessible biodiversity hotspot. Resident bird species also nested successfully here.

But now, all of Chandigarh seems to have ganged up to evict birds; and replace marshes with lifeless sheets of water that serve as eye-candy for strollers. UT Administration's senior wildlife officials claim they are "improving the bird habitat by desiltating and deepening the water".

Finance Secretary Sanjay Kumar is forceful, "Let us not forget that the marshes were never a part of Sukhna's plan. The desiltation will continue. As far as welfare of birds is concerned, I discussed the matter at length with the Chief Wildlife Warden, who said that the birds would shift to the rowing canal and the forests behind. We have kept the interests of birds in mind while planning desiltation.''

India's leading authorities on wetlands have a different take though. Says Dr Asad Rahmani, director of the Bombay Natural History Society, "Migratory waterfowl prefer shallow wetlands, where vegetation is in abundance. It is a fallacy that migratory ducks and geese feed on fish. The bulk of waterfowl prefer aquatic vegetation. Deep water is not preferred by many migratory waterfowl except for diving ducks. Migratory waterfowl are found in the greatest numbers at those wetlands that start to get shallower and shallower and eventually dry up in February-March. Monsoons fill up the 'jheels' for next winter's migration.''

No greater evidence of Dr Rahmani's words can be found than the bird mosaic currently on display in the main body of Sukhna (flanking the regulator end), which has dried up badly. Hordes of Grey herons, Painted storks and Openbill storks are trawling the shallow muddy waters that are rich in food. Five migratory duck species - Ruddy shelduck, Garganey, Pintail, Shovellor and Eurasian wigeons - are lingering on merrily in the mounting heat. Wader birds are in abundance in shallow Sukhna.

KS Gopi Sundar is the research associate for the International Crane Foundation. Sundar often visits the regulator end. "While lakes do need desiltation, it must be done keeping in mind diversity of habitat. Unfortunately in India, wetlands are considered as `wastelands'. The stereotype of wetlands is a deep lake with ducks sitting on it…to hell with small grassbirds and other diverse life forms. Desiltation must not be carried out in one go but in phases, so that water-retention capacity is maintained during monsoons,'' 
cautions Sundar.

Ornithologist and author, Lt Gen (retd) Baljit Singh, has in the past advised the UT Administration on environment issues. The experience left him disillusioned. ``How can bureaucrats realise that birds prefer shallow water wetlands where the weeds provide seeds, the reeds cover, and food in the form of molluscs etc. Desiltation should have been done in a calibrated manner with some marshy areas retained,'' he says.

Photographer Sanjay Kaushal's path-breaking exhibition on migratory birds at the regulator end was inuagurated by then UT Administrator Lt Gen (retd) JFR Jacob in March 2002. ``The ambience of birds at the regulator end has been completely destroyed. This was one hotspot accessible to naturalists and interested children. Can you imagine seeing hundreds of Greylag geese just yards away from the Sukhna walkway? The rowing canal is very much disturbed and the arid forests behind cannot substitute marshes and tall grasses,'' says Kaushal.

Only time will tell whether wild birds and animals frequent Sukhna again with the same diversity. Wildlife lovers fervently pray that they have to eat their words and the UT Finance Secretary is proved right! 

Romance in a Metro

Salman Khan Bollywood star Salman Khan has been shooting for a romantic honeymoon song for his new movie Dabanng with debutante Sonakshi Sinha and for a change it is the Dubai Metro which is providing the backdrop.

"We are not going around trees any more, now we are doing it around trains," Salman said.

"I play a corrupt cop from a small village in Bihar and Dubai was a perfect location, because it's a perfect blend of East and West," he said.

Produced by his brothers, Sohail and Arbaaz Khan, Dabanng will release during Eid and will be the launch pad for Sonakshi, daughter of actor-politician Shatrughan Sinha, in the film industry.

"We are very comfortable here and the crime rate is zero. Even the Emiratis speak our language, they understand Hindi and speak English. It feels like an exotic foreign country, but you are not travelling eight hours or feeling handicapped," Salman added.

"Earlier, we used to go to Switzerland, but it has started getting difficult. Some unit had a problem and we realised it was not worth it. We were supposed to do a song in Switzerland, but now we have changed the location to Mumbai," Salman said. —PTI

The signing amount

Onir When Onir signed Anurag Basu for just Rs 500He is one of the most prominent names in the current crop of 'newage' directors in Bollywood with films like Gangster and Metro to his name but Anurag Basu took only Rs 500 to turn actor for friend Onir's upcoming film I Am. Instead of calling the shots, the Kites director is braving the camera perhaps for the first time.

The movie, with its four stories that deal with social issues like child abuse, homosexuality and Maoist crisis, also stars director Anurag Kashyap and Nandita Das in pivotal roles. The four stories include I Am Omar, I Am Abhimanyu, I Am Megha and I Am Afia. "Anurag Basu and I were together on the Filmfare jury. As we were waiting, he suddenly comes and says, 'give me 500 bucks I need to pay for my coffee, I forgot my wallet'. I looked at him and he looked like one of the character I was desperately looking for. I said, 'Look, consider this money your signing amount, you better do my film'," Onir.

Basu was initially apprehensive but had to give in at the insistence of Onir, who was adamant to cast him as a Bengali doctor in I Am Afia. "He was a little apprehensive and had to figure out his timing and all but he was happy to help me. I am lucky to have such friends. They paid their own airfare to come and shoot for my film," Onir said. Similarly, while searching for a character for I Am Abhimanyu segment, Onir got a helping hand from Dev D director Anurag Kashyap.

"Anurag (Kashyap) was really touched that I was making a film on child 
sexual abuse since he has gone through something similar in his childhood. He told me, 'Onir if you need any help I am there'. When he came to know that I was finding it difficult to get an actor for one of the roles he came forward," said Onir. — PTI 

Top of the pyramid

Shah Rukh Khan starrer 'My Name Is Khan' seems to have touched a chord with the Egyptian cine lovers, who continue to throng theatres even two months after its release.The film, which talks about the 'Islamophobia' that gripped the US after 9/11, made a record one million Egyptian pounds in the first four weeks of its release.The Karan Johar directed film, which was distributed in Egypt by United Motion Pictures, has become a hit among public as well as critics.The distribution head Antoine Zind says it has been decades since he took the risk with showing an Indian movie in Egyptian theatres but My Name Is Khan has changed his perception about Indian cinema.Famous analyst Muhammad al-Kurdusi is one of the strongest supporters of the movie.

"This is no ordinary movie. This movie reflects what we, as Muslims, learnt in primary school. The hero is no ordinary hero. He is more like a new prophet of his time but are we true Muslims to believe in him?," al-Kurdusi said.

The Indians have done Muslims in general a huge favour, according to media pundit Khalid Muntassir."If we had placed thousand sheiks in the thousand largest squares in the world and aided them with microphones, they wouldn't have rectified the image of Islam and ridded it from the false accusations Osama Bin Laden stuck to it like this one Indian movie My Name is Khan has," Muntassir wrote.The next film to be screened in Egypt is Kabir Khan's New York' starring Bollywood heartthrob John Abraham and Katrina Kaif.Incidentally, New York also talks about how the 9/11 incident changed the lives of Muslims living in the US. — PTI

Thank You so much!

Anees Bazmee Anees Bazmee is currently busy with his upcoming project Thank You starring Sonam Kapoor and Akshay Kumar, but the writer-director has not given up on his dream of directing the sequel to his blockbuster 2008 Singh Is Kinng. "Would I love to direct the sequel? Oh, of course yes. After all these were the characters thought by me and I am very attached to them. There could be so many ways to take these characters forward," said Anees for whom Singh Is Kinng stays on to be one of his three biggest blockbusters after Welcome and No Entry. Both producer Vipul Shah and actor Akshay were enthusiastic about bringing back Happy Singh (central character in the movie) but Bazmee is not sure that he will get the chance to make the sequel.

However, as things stand today, Singh Is Kinng is pretty much in no man's land. Vipul is busy completing another Akshay starrer Action Replayy and is also getting ready for his next film which is currently under pre-production. Akshay too has started work with Anees on Thank You in Canada. On the other hand Bazmee is now busy for next one and a half years at the least with the shooting of Thank You and Salman Khan starrer Ready happening in parallel. "I really have no idea about that," replied Anees when asked if had any clue around where exactly did Singh Is Kinng - 2 stand.Bazmee also says that no one has approached him to yet to direct the sequel. However, in his heart he is sure that he just needs an indication and he would be all game to begin work on the film.

"If Vipulji really wishes so and approaches me to direct Singh Is Kinng - 2, I will certainly do. But as of now, I don't have any clue whatsoever. We have met on and off and there has been Hi-Hello between us. But no, we haven't discussed the film. Also, I am busy with completion of No Problem and beginning of Thank You and Ready," said Bazmee. Since Bazmee has his bag full currently, what if Shah goes ahead and either directs the film himself or rope in some other director? Won't it be a setback for him since it is basically his own baby that would be handed over to someone else? "You can be attached to a film but not to this extent that you can't see someone else taking care of it. I won't feel bad if he or someone else directs the film. It’s okay, one moves on," he said. — PTI 

Split ends

Hollywood couple Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel have nipped the rumours of a split in the bud by putting on a very public display of love.

The couple stepped out in the Tribeca district of New York hand in hand, ending much speculation that their relationship had come to an end.

The 28-year-old actor and her pop-star boyfriend dresses casually for the stroll.

The couple appeared happy and content with each other as they took a walk in the Big Apple, before spending time playing basketball together at the Chelsea Piers.

Last month it was reported that the couple had split, with Timberlake's ex-girlfriend Cameron Diaz cited as the reason for the end of their relationship.

The Sexy Back hitmaker is currently working with Diaz, 36, on a new feature film entitled Bad Teacher.

It had been reported that Biel was unhappy with the on-screen chemistry of Timberlake and Diaz, who had dated for four years. — PTI

In Depp trouble

Johnny Depp Johnny Depp turned saviour for British singer Stephen Jones, who was accosted for cash by a man as they left a recording studio in Los Angeles.The Alice In Wonderland actor stepped forward when the thief demanded money from Jones threatening him with a broken bottle."It was an extremely scary moment. This guy looked off his head. Johnny looked him straight in the eyes and told him to back off," a friend of Jones said.

The Pirates of the Caribbean star is a big music buff and had just recorded a guitar solo for a new track by Jones's band Babybird.When Depp intervened, the star-struck man backed down, saying he would not rob the actor."He looked at Johnny and said, 'I ain't stealing from Captain Jack' and put the bottle down. Johnny gave him a few bucks and told him to straighten up his life," the friend said. — PTI

Sex and sensibility

Hollywood actor Amanda Seyfried says she used to think sex was "dirty and disgusting" and was scared of it."We have to be open-minded. I'm not saying Americans are narrow-minded. I've lived in New York and Los Angeles - but where I grew up in Allentown, Pennsylvania, there was a small town mindset that made me feel that sex was wrong," she said.

"When my sister lost her virginity, I thought that was dirty and disgusting, and I was scared of sex. I remember I had a fight with my friend when I touched a boy for the first time and I didn't tell her. She got mad with me, not because I didn't tell her, but because I'd done it in the first place."

Amanda, who is currently dating British actor Dominic Cooper, admits moving away from her home town meant her views on sex changed.

"Intimacy is a wonderful thing. It's frustrating that growing up I thought I was wrong. It isn't. Exploring your sexuality is important when you're growing up," she added. — IANS

Simply Subodh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi is organising a lecture and a slide show by renowned artist Subodh Gupta at Auditorium of Govt. Museum and Art Gallery-10.Subodh is best known for incorporating everyday objects that are ubiquitous throughout India, such as steel tiffin boxes used by millions to carry their lunch as well as thali pans, bicycles, and milk pails. From such ordinary items the artist produces sculptures that reflect on the economic transformation of his homeland and they are related to Gupta's own life and memories. 

In Gupta's words, "All these things were part of the way I grew up. They are used in the rituals and ceremonies that were part of my childhood. Indians either remember them from their youth, or they want to remember them." And: "I am the idol thief. I steal from the drama of Hindu life. And from the kitchen - these pots, they are like stolen gods, smuggled out of the country. Hindu kitchens are as important as prayer rooms".

Gupta's artworks that are readable globally. The Guardian called him the Damien Hirst of Delhi (2007). He succeeds in finding an art language that references India and at the same time can be appreciated for their looks and aesthetics in the whole world; as Gupta says: "Art language is the same all over the world. Which allows me to be anywhere."

One of his recent major works, consisting of Indian cooking utensils, is Line of Control (2008), a colossal mushroom cloud constructed entirely of pots and pans. The work was shown in the Tate Triennial at Tate Britain in 2009.

Painting is also an important part of Gupta's art practice. His series Still Steal Steel consists of photorealistic paintings of kitchen utensils falling and moving in space. In his early paintings, Gupta used another element of every day life, cow dung. The idea that cow dung is inherently clean is ingrained in rural India. There, it is a purifying element, both ritual and symbolic. In his video Pure, Gupta takes the 'detergent' concept literally and has filmed himself taking a shower, to free himself of the thick layer of dung that covers his body. An earlier series of paintings is Saat Samunder Paar.

Baggages, migration and the "return home" have been enduring concerns of Gupta. It is a theme that crystallised in works such as Across the Seven Seas (2006) where he uses baggage trolleys of modern airports to allude to the grim historical reality of migration from India, especially his home state of Bihar.

On May 5 at 5.30 pm

School of thought
Tribune News Service

Students of Dikshant Public School-Panchkula had an opportunity to interact with Rajkumar Gupta, the eminent filmmaker of Aamir fame.Loved by audience and critics alike for his first movie Aamir, Rajkumar has created a niche for himself in the tinsel town. He is in the city for the shooting of his upcoming film, No One Killed Jessica, starring Rani Mukherjee and Vidya Balan.

Interacting with the children, he taught them a few things about filmmaking and scriptwriting. Answering a question asked by students about when did he realise that he wanted to be a filmmaker, he answered, "You must work hard and be focused on whatever you are doing, and then decide later depending on what you are good at." On this occasion Gupta said, "It was a terrific moment for me to be in a school like Dikshant. It was a nostalgic moment for me as my own memories from school time got refreshed in my mind. It was wonderful talking to the kids, they are proactive and their intelligence is far ahead than the kids of our time."

Cultural bonding

Suchitra Mitra The Chandigarh Sangeet Natak Akademi (CSNA) has added another feather to its cap by launching an inter-state cultural exchange programme from this year.

Chairman of the Akademi Kamal Tewari said artistes from the city have won national recognition in various spheres.

The new initiative will provide an opportunity to artistes to showcase their talent in front of a wider audience.

In the first programme, CSNA in collaboration with the Directorate of Language and Culture, Himachal Pradesh, will hold a three-day classical music and dance festival from May 4 onwards at the Gaiety Theatre, Shimla.

 Three prominent artistes from the city will participate in the festival.

An exponent of Agra Gharana, classical vocalist Pandit Yashpal, former head of the department of music, Panjab University, will perform on May 4; Bharatnatyam dancer Suchitra Mitra on May 5 and Harvinder Sharma will give a sitar recital on the concluding day.

The Directorate of Language and Culture, Himachal Pradesh, will send artistes to Chandigarh in the near future. — S D Sharma

Spade work
Show stopper

The garden designing has seen a revolution. Many a feature have been suggested and applied to give a new face to the gardens. But some of the old features still hold. You may find it primitive but I still find a 'feature' in a pergola. It still steals the show in the garden.

Pergolas are there in the gardens since ages. These were there in the English gardens and also were an essential feature in the Mughal gardens. Pergolas are made at the entry point to a house or a garden and are used to support vines. It is the gateway to a garden. At a time when the vines come into flowering, the pergolas become excellent features. Extended pergolas make small tunnels. In the large gardens these are used to cover pathways. On such structures, various vines are trained to make the path beautiful and shady.

The pergola is a steel structure that is erected about eight feet high. It is so as to allow a good clearance after a vine hangs down from it. But once, I made two six and a half feet high pergolas at the entrance to the herbal garden at the residence of the then Vice-President of India, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, who himself is over six feet high. When asked why, I explained as the herbs have been revered since ages and are held in high esteem, the one entering the herbal garden should bow his or her head in reverence! Two medicinal vines, Giloye and Anantmool, were trained on these pergolas. While constructing a pergola, the steel structure should be firmly secured in the ground on both sides, at least two and a half feet below for a good footing as the pergola is to support not only its own weight but that of the vine too. It is better to grout the structure with cement concrete underground.

Another feature that is bound to attract attention of the visitors to your house could be the steps or 'cat paws' in the lawn. These are kept in a way that they lead to one or the other feature in the garden. These are made from concrete and different kind of shapes like round, square or amoeba like shapes are created to make them attractive. Adding red colour to the cement to make the steps red make a very good contrast in the lawn. These steps should be kept shifting in the lawn lest these should 'pale' the grass under them when kept at the same place for long.

Myth of the week
A pinch of salt 

The lemon plant when shows the signs of 'weakness' or flower and fruit drop, should be added with common salt near the roots by digging holes.

Nothing could be more damaging for lemon or for any such plant that is given such a treatment. The common salt is very injurious to plants, especially to the citrus species plants that are very sensitive to salt concentration in soil. With high level of salts in the soil, there could be reverse flow of nutrients from plant cells to soil causing instant death of the plant. 

Berry special!
The popularity of a Blackberry phone is growing rapidly. How can Bollywood lag behind?
Jasmine Singh

Perhaps the only thing that can give competition to the growing population of India is the equally growing brands of mobile phones. We are just waiting for the day when everybody back home will be putting together there own personal models of cell phones! Every other day, a mobile company brings about a change in the colour (a shade lighter than red, a grade higher than violet), add some extra features (which only they know how to use), rope in a sultry looking ‘model’ to pose with a model! However, amidst this growing world of mobile phones, one brand is enjoying a cult following. Owe it to the utility or call it herd mentality, most celebrities are either moving or have already moved to Blackberry phones. Some like it for the easy web browsing while some because they have seen other actors sending and receiving messages through its bluetooth technology. Reasons vary, but the brand does have a cult following in Bollywood. We find out.

Koena MitraKoena Mitra

I switched to one some days ago. Accessing e-mails, Twitter and Gmail account has become extremely easy.

 I am a loyalist with mobile phones; if I see anything interesting while browsing I pick it up on an impulse.

Sudanshu PandeySudanshu Pandey

My wife was pestering me to switch over to Blackberry Bold, which I did off late. Trust me, it has made communication pretty easy - you can chat with your friends, log on to Facebook etc. The phone gives me an access to 10 e-mail accounts. I remember, the first phone that I bought 13 years back, Nokia or Samsung, was with a green screen and black digits, and I had to pull out an antenna for signal. Technology has grown at an amazing speed. I am also surprised by the growing fan-following of Blackberry. 

Arya BabbarArya Babbar

I can’t think about my life without a mobile phone. Even if I am marooned on an island, it’s the only thing I would want to be carrying. Mobile phone is like a virtual pet to me.

 I can forget my keys, wallet but I can never my iphone or communicator. Indeed, mobile phones have brought the world to our fingertips. It lets me stay connected with my friends 24x7.

Vindu Dara Singh

I am a total mobile freak. I got my first mobile when we had to pay

Rs 36 for incoming and outgoing calls. Then came models that kept getting better with each year or rather every month. Today, I carry a Blackberry Storm, a power-packed device.

 It lets me stay connected, no matter which part of the world I am in.

Aman Dhaliwal

I am in the habit of changing my mobile phone after every two months, but ever since I have moved to Blackberry I have been absolutely hooked. It is the best power-packed mobile I have ever come across. Everyday I discover a new feature, like it has a corporate access data, which allows me to see attachments pretty much easily.

On the look out

 JantaKhoj InfoServices Pvt. Ltd. launches first search portal ‘’. The interactive and user friendly website, powered by a vast database covering more than three hundred million Indians, will provide online and offline services to both individuals and businesses in India in the field of people search and background verifications.The beta version of the website which goes online today will provide contact details, relatives and neighbours listings, and will also facilitate informed decision making for its consumers by offering comprehensive background checks.

According to Tarun Bangari, Founder & CEO, JantaKhoj, “ combines the best of online and offline approaches to cover these areas which have traditionally been either under-served or have been available only to the large companies. We have a vision to democratize the background verification process and bring it within easy reach of every individual and to promote greater transparency in society by enabling deeper insights into the background of various individuals.”

As per Ajit Gupta, the serial entrepreneur from Silicon Valley, Founder & Chairman, JantaKhoj, “The sheer size of Indian population combined with the difficulty in accessing and searching the public records for reference and background information, means that a big opportunity exists in the sphere of people search and background verification checks. JantaKhoj aims to be a pioneer in this industry and has set up the technology platform which will scale in future to include other public and web-based sources including social media.”

The premium services for individual customers cover background verification of matrimonial candidates, domestic help, drivers and tenants. The services allow the customer to select different applicable checks (address, criminal, education, work experience, driving license, reference) as required.

JantaKhoj also offers employee background verification services to businesses. These too can be customized based on the requirements of a company. The firm has AAyuja, Aryaka, ByteRidge, EduMetry, Evolv, InvestmentYogi and PocketMoneyJobs as some of it’s business customers. — TNS

Bits about BYTES
Pictures that become pixels
Roopinder Singh

Karam Sodhi examines the frame of his picture through the viewfinder of a Mamiya medium format camera.
Karam Sodhi examines the frame of his picture through the viewfinder of a Mamiya medium format camera. Photo: Avi Sodhi

 It was a Mamiya medium format camera that triggered this article. The occasion was the 90th birthday celebration of Mahijit Singh Sodhi, one of the grand old men of Chandigarh.

His grandson, Karam, was making a valiant attempt to photograph the extended family of, well, around 90 people together and his tool of choice was this medium format camera that uses a film which I started my photography with - the 120-film that was used in the Agfa Click III cameras and the Yashika and Roliflex twin-lens reflex cameras, common in photo studios in the 1960s and 1970s.

Now, there were digital cameras galore at the wine and cheese evening. You could say that everyone had one, from the Nikon and Cannon digital SLRs to the ubiquitous cameras in phones, and as drinks circulated and the roasts were savoured, many flashes punctuated the darkening sky. A number of pictures were snapped, as often happens when people meet after a long time.

Why was the seemingly antediluvian film camera doing amidst all these snazzy digital ones? Well, it still holds true that practically nothing in the digital world can match the tonal range and even resolution of a film. A medium format film image can record an equivalent of approximately 50 megapixels. The 120-film dates back to 1902 and a century later, the best digital camera was made by a filmmaker, Fuji, and the FinePix S602Z Pro had a resolution of 6.0 mp. Top cameras have managed to double the resolution now.

The convenience of reducing light to binary digits, the bits (Binary digIT, i.e., 0 and 1) and bytes (8-bit bundles) that dominate the digital world is, however, undeniable. We can do so much more with pictures than we could do using the traditional chemical 

Often comparisons in digital cameras have been reduced to the megapixel game, but this is not an accurate measure.

Megapixel (one million pixels) is a term used for the number of pixels in an image. It is also used to express the number of image sensor elements of digital cameras or the number of elements of digital displays. A pixel is generally defined as the smallest single component of a digital image. Instead of a film, digital cameras use photosensitive electronic image sensors. They can either be charge-coupled device (CCD) or complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS). These sensors have a large number of single sensor elements, often called pixels.

A colour film normally has three layers of emulsion and each layer is basically the same as in black and white film, but sensitive only to one-third of the spectrum (reds, greens or blues). Similarly, each pixel in the sensor will record only one channel (red, or green, or blue) of the final colour image.

When comparing cameras, one must look at the size of the sensor, and bigger is better in this instance. Just as the 120-film is three times size of a 35mm, the size of the CCD in compact cameras is much smaller than that in digital SLRs, which have only recently been able to give a “full frame” 35mm CCD.

The size of the CCD determines the size of the individual elements in it and the bigger the sensors, more the information they can store.

Most phones now have fairly acceptable pixels in their camera, yet the sale of compact digital cameras is booming. This is interesting, since most of the people who buy these cameras would have camera-equipped cell phones. This brings us to the fact that sensors are but one aspect of the camera.

The most important thing in a camera is arguably its lens. Normally made of glass, it can have one or many elements. SLR cameras have mounts on which a photographer can mount different lenses, depending on the situation and the effect that is desired.

Compact cameras, however, have only one kind of lens fitted to them. Most of them have a zoom feature, which allows you to change the frame of your picture without moving back and forth. Thus, you can go nearer the object or go wider to include more of the background without moving.

The range and optical quality of the lens plays a major role in the way the image is formed, and that’s the reason people pay thousands of rupees, even lakhs, for a high quality lens. My photo lab person says that most of the images that he processes daily come from digital cameras, not from films.

The wide-scale adoption of the digital medium means that storage of pictures has also moved from shoeboxes to computers and hard drives. Since, unlike film, digital pictures do not cost money to take, just to print, people tend to take more, and thus have many more to store, process and catalogue.

What use is a picture unless you can find it when you want to? On a computer, it can become difficult unless you have some sort of picture processing software. After long use, my favourite is Picasa, a software application for organising and editing digital photos.

The word Picasa is a blend of the name of famous Spanish painter, Pablo Picasso, the phrase ‘mi casa’ for “my house” and “pic” for pictures. It was created by Idealab, but Google bought it in 2004 and has since offered it as a free download. I have been using it since the beginning, and thousands of my digital pictures are catalogued via Picasa. The retouching and other functions are basic, though effective. The recently introduced face-recognition programme is fun, although sometimes intrusive.

Since on my phone I can store pictures of the callers, I have used the recognised and tagged faces from various pictures and exported them to the phone. Seeing a smiling face when you receive a call definitely puts you in a good mood to talk! Other photo organisers include Adobe’s Elements, Apple’s iPhoto, Novell’s F-spot, PicaJet and DigiKam. And you may want to try out these too.

When we take a picture, one of the primary reasons is that we want to share the moment with others. The people who took pictures at the party also shared them with others. How? Well, that’s what we will look at the next time!

(This column will appear fortnightly)

Sun struck

Hands-free communication is essential while on the move whether it is from a hotel, airport, or car. i.Tech, the leading innovative wireless mobile solutions provider, headquartered in Hong Kong, has announced the launch of its new range of revolutionary Bluetooth products and devices for the Indian markets. The company has introduced 15 Bluetooth devices for the Indian market with the entry price point of Rs1,149 –6,499. The range of products includes the new age Bluetooth devices-Solar Voice 908, Solar Charger 906, Clip D-Radio.  Ingram Micro is the national distributor of the products in India. The products are designed for use in a variety of environments, the solar –powered Bluetooth headset lets its users go green while maintaining their productivity and listening to their favorite tunes.

According to Rajat Bal, general manager EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), “Deploying innovative design, cutting-edge technological know-how and superior manufacturing capabilities, i.Tech combines form and performance to create compelling products that offer powerful functionality yet are easy to use, easy on the eye and easy on the pocket. The Indian market provides us a lot of opportunities keeping in mind the number of mobile users in the country.”

i.Tech Dynamic Ltd. specialises in the design, marketing and sales of mobile telecommunications accessories. Since its inception in 2002, the company has established a reputation for developing products with sleek designs and enhanced value. Dedicated to innovation, and supported with advanced manufacturing and research facilities, i.Tech delivers wireless accessories for telecommunication as well as electronic products that have made the company a market leader in the Asia-Pacific region. — TNS

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