My Car, My Home
Crammed with professional equipment and personal belongings — their cars are demi-homes for these proud owners

The car has become a secular sanctuary for the individual, his shrine to the self, his mobile Walden Pond, wrote Edward McDonagh. So true!

Car today has become more than just a commuting mode and is an inseparable part of one, just like another home. We caught up some city folks to peek into their relationship with their coach.

Much in love with her first car is Dr Sadbhavna Pandit, head of the department, Paediatrics, GMSH-16. "I have been driving this one for the past 10 years and it has never given me any trouble," she says keeping her fingers crossed. This doc loves to keep her car prim and proper, with regular service and maintenance checks. "Though the drive from home to hospital is barely 10 minutes, yet, those very 10 minutes could be crucial for a patience," says the doctor with concern, who stocks her car with wipes, torch and all the stuff that one could need in emergency.

"My car has become an essential part of me," says Dr Vikas Singla, director, JP Hospital, Zirakpur. "I spend much of my day in the car," smiles Singla who has to juggle between different concerns that his family has. "I can live out of the car for quite a few days, for I have all the important office documents, my favourite music from college days and most important stuff, including my son Rihan's pram that's parked in the car 24 x 7," says Singla who drives a Skoda Laura.

"Though I keep my car dirty but that doesn't mean I love it any less," says Ravinder Singh, project lead from Infosys. This black Santro has all - from chewing gum, water, cans of cola, a change of clothes, sports cap to shoes. The Indian flag finds the proud place on the dashboard of this loaded car. In fact, this 'techi' has spent many a nights in the car. "Last January, we went all the way to Kasauli only not to find a hotel room. So, we three friends decided not to venture out in the biting cold, spread out the seats and chatted till the wee hours," chuckles Ravinder.

For Sukhbir Bhandel, a teacher in Guru Nanak Public School-37, her car is her lifeline. "I cannot imagine my life without an automobile, how else will I go to work, ferry my kids from one class to another or do in emergency," she questions. Her latest car is even more special as it's a gift by hubby. "Though it's my kids who have more control over the car than I, as I almost always go out with them, still I feel as comfy as home on the wheels," she says.

For Brigadier (Retd) Jiti Phoolka, president, Vintage and Classic Car Club, Chandigarh, cars indeed have become an extension of self. "Not only are they a mode of transport, but, also, part and parcel of life," says Phoolka who has five 'gals' (that's how he refers to his cars. Out of these old and new cars that this family of three shares, it's the 1932 Ford Tourer that's the darling of the lot. "This one was originally imported by the Nawab of Bareilly, changed two hands before became our prized possession. This is the only two-seater car in canary yellow and azure blue that makes heads turns once on road. Keeping this old beauty alive and kicking is in itself a charm," he says. And that's why this one gets special maintenance as well. Whenever the owner is driving it, it carries his briefcase with electronic diary, wallet and some envelops along with water. "Cars are not only a part of one's life but also dreams especially for men," he signs off.

Crying F-OWL
Owls are used ruthlessly in black magic and tantric rites to ward off evil spirits
Vikram Jit Singh

Pharmaceutical manufacturer Jagdeep Singh Grewal was a reputed marksman of yore. Many a partridge, wild boar and deer fell to his gun in the company of former Punjab chief secretary Jai Singh Gill. A contemporary conservationist, Grewal now contents himself by counting finches and flycatchers. Playing at the Shiwalik golf course, Chandimandir, Grewal once fearlessly caught a huge Indian rock python by its tail and rehabilitated the creature into the forests from where it had strayed. However, a feathered ball of white-grey feathers had Grewal stumped.

It was a spotted owlet chick that had fallen from its nest in a tree hollow at the 12th hole of the Chandigarh Golf Club. Burra Sahebs and caddies gave the owlet a wide berth, even as the cute creature blinked with both eyes at ogling onlookers, much like an aspiring flirt! It had been labelled a ``bad omen''.

On ground, the owlet's survival was next to nil given the abundance of predators like dogs, cats, jackals and hawks. I picked up the owlet. Grewal hollered from a distance, ``Let the owlet be. It will survive on its own. The mother owlet will feed it.'' I got a brave caddie, Ashish, to climb the tree and place the owlet in a hollow. Within minutes, the chick had dropped back to ground. A shikra hawk lurking nearby made away with the chick in a flash of swooping feathers. Agonised shrieks of the mother owlet tore through the golf club's soul.

Punjab deputy chief wildlife warden Gurmit Singh ascribes the owl's demonisation in popular culture to its habit to call at night. ``Wailing dogs and cats at night are considered bad omens. Owls are used ruthlessly in black magic and tantric rites to ward off evil spirits,'' says Singh.

The owlet is fortunately not a bird classified as 'endangered' by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Its abundance through a swathe of South-east Asia guarantees a familiar presence in Chandigarh. It's nightime call, chirrur-chirrur-chirrur, sends tremors through those prone to superstition. Far from summoning the demons of darkness to torment humans, the owlet's call may just be a love song, a fight for territory or the sighting of pesky rats that the owlet relishes.

In the timeless descriptions of India's legendary birdman, Salim Ali, ``Pairs spend daytime in some hollow in an ancient tree or sitting huddled on a secluded branch. They fly out fussily when suspicious of being observed, and bob and stare at the intruder from a distance in a clownish fashion.'' Both male and female share domestic duties. A female owlet will indulge in ``pseudocopulation'' when besieged by multiple suitors. Leaves males gratified though blissfully ignorant of their incompetence!

That evening, after the tragic encounter with the owlet chick, we relaxed at the golf club bar and watched the T20 cricket final. I bucked the trend and laid a bet of Rs 500 with Ram Naresh Gupta, a retired Punjab IAS officer and former General-Manager of the Tribune Trust. Against all odds, I backed the underdogs, England, against the rampaging Aussies. I duly won a crisp note. I believe the owlet chick had brought me fortune. Uncannily, ever since that day, a pair of Spotted owlets regularly calls outside my home at 11.30 pm sharp from their refuge in a gloriously budding mango tree.

Face(book)ing a situation
Roopinder Singh

Facebook was banned in Pakistan recently. Now the government has restored the service. Who won, actually, nobody.

The social networking site had come under fire for a competition featuring caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. Now, in Islam, no pictorial representation of Prophet Mohammad is allowed and such an act is considered blasphemous. No one has any doubt that the Facebook page was a blatant provocation, intended to cause controversy. The page showed caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad and other religions figures, including those from Hinduism and Christian.

The sensitivity of Islam to illustrations depicting Prophet Muhammad is well-known, more so since the publication of 12 editorial cartoons by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in 2005, which resulted in a violent and furious reaction.

Facebook's tardy reaction to the concerns expressed by Pakistani authorities is inexplicable, since Pakistan alone has 20 million Internet users, a sizable number. It is not as if Facebook has never removed pages that offend; it does do so from time to time, more so in response to requests by sovereign nations.

To cite just one recent well-documented incident, in December 2009, Facebook shut down a fan page for Massimo Tartaglia, the man who hit Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi with a statuette of the Milan cathedral. In the less than 48 hours before it was closed won, the page had almost one lakh users.

Initially, Facebook reportedly responded to Pakistani concerns by saying that the page did not violate its policies, even though they state that "obscene content and the triggering of hate material toward any group, individual, or religion will be banned and removed".

Dialogue and engagement are always the best ways to get over a situation of conflict. Pakistan has a vibrant Internet community, and this is the time for it to show to the world that it has the intellectual and communicative skills to taken on the challenges posed by the brief ban on Facebook. Too often we condemn others and withdraw into our shells rather than explain our point of view to them.

Banning a website to block a page is often a case of over-reaction, whether it is by the Pakistani authorities who reacted recently, or the Indian attempt to ban 18 blogs that posted extremist views, after the July 11, 2006 Mumbai bomb blasts. The collateral damage, in the form of blocking legitimate activity over the Internet, is simply too great. During the Kargil conflict in 1999, India had banned the site of the Pakistani newspaper, Dawn, and action that I then criticised as a knee-jerk reaction. What is the point of blocking something that remains accessible even after it is banned?

While I criticise banning websites, I am also critical of the fact that freedom of speech is often taken to mean that anything goes. This is not so. The cyber world is an extension of the real world, it is another dimension of our normal social interaction, and as such the normal rules of conduct evolved for the civilised world do apply to it.

Thus the site that posts offensive material is, to my mind, should face the consequences of its actions. Facebook should have faced some kind of sanction for posting something that is deeply offensive to millions of people.

Many of the Internet companies were started by geeks at a very young age. The world does not conform to their idealist and somewhat restricted view. The success and tremendous growth of these companies brings makes them a great force with incredible power to change and indeed sometimes redefine social borders in the world. Along with this comes responsibility and the need for caution. is the leading Website in the world with 540 million unique users, according to Google, its rival. Facebook, reached 35.2 per cent of the total Internet population, and racked up 570 billion page views. Google's new DoubleClick Ad Planner 1000 list places, at number two, with 490 million unique visitors.

This is the time for Facebook to grow up. It is already under a fair deal of pressure regarding its privacy policy. People speak of Facebooking rather than e-mailing. The post their status, pictures, favourites, in fact major slices of their whole life, on Facebook. They are thus entitled to know that their privacy is in safe hands, and that the website they are entrusting so much to is a responsible one.When we ask someone to be responsible, we also tell them to have a sense of right and wrong, and to set some boundaries. That's what grown up behaviour is. Google is only six years old in the conventional sense, but in Internet years, that's a long, long time.

A message to Mark Elliot Zuckerberg, the 26-year-old founder of Facebook-Grow up. Your baby has grown. Please give it the wherewithal to negotiate the world it is growing up in it. A message for governments that ban Facebook and other social networking sites-don't shoot the messenger, social networks reflect society, and if you have conflicts, engage those you are in conflict with, banning them just doesn't work.

Upwardly mobile
3G mobile phones have generated curiosity, expectations and controversy!
Jasmine Singh

The telecom sector in India is somewhat similar to the Hindi film industry-its share of goof ups, rumours, alliance and break ups. More than this, the controversy angle - in the telecom industry, addition of a new feature most often gives rise to a controversy, which is parallel to a new or unknown character artist or an actor making news every second day.

Well, this time it is the 3G waves, which is the talk of the town.

The biggest government auction is supposed to change the lives of millions of people with mobile phones. The third generation mobile services will be launched by September this year allowing data downloads at extremely high speed and enabling users to watch movies, news, cricket and music videos on their mobile phones. This is like moving around with a laptop in your hands. Is this any good? Or, the only sector to reap dividends would be the government sector? We take a quick look at what the mobile users have to say.

"The 3G is bound to bring a revolution in the mobile market offering services that we could only think of. Video calling or video sharing will now be possible because of 3G," says Sachin Khurana, an avid blogger. "Talking about heavy downloads, 3G will provide all the answers." Any hitch? He smiles, "The controversy surrounding the auction. Apart from this there would be no problem with this technology. Some countries have already moved to the 4G talking phone technology."

High speed Internet on mobile phones, hi-end applications, the prospects are exciting. However, for people like Amandeep Sodhi, a web developer from Mohali, 3G is no big deal. "In fact, it is coming too late. We already have a reasonable broadband service available. Why would somebody want to pay more for what are already getting at much cheaper rates, somewhere around Rs 300-400 for a month." Adds Amandeep, "I use a photon on my laptop, a gadget everybody carries and is comfortable working on. I don't see what good a mobile phone is when compared to a laptop or a notebook. Personally, I am not comfortable writing e-mails on my phone. Also, I am not ready to shell out extra for money for the 3G hullabaloo."

Prospects of the new technology are alluring, and with the growing market of mobile phones it is touted to take the country by storm. The younger generation, exploring the possibilities of life, is gung-ho about it. "I can download music videos, share heavy music files with my friends," puts in Suza, a freelancer music mixer. "It is early to predict the value added services (VAT) for the same, but with so many telecom companies ready to roll out this service, the charges for the new technology would be reasonable too. Lastly, 3G is something optional, you can get it if you want or stay without it."

After 184 rounds of bidding across 22 circles in India, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance Communications, Aircel, Tata Teleservices, Idea Cellular are among the seven telecom operators that have emerged victorious in the battle. Now, it's time to wait and watch as to how the technology will revolutionise the life of addicted mobile users!

Decked in style

The hottest new thing in the Indian mobile market, the "ALCATEL- ICE3" with yet another recognition - the prestigious CMAI National Telecom Award 2010 for 'Innovative designing' .

Pegged as the world's smallest netbook-alike, the ALCATEL-CE3 added yet another feather in its cap when CMAI awarded the new phone the National Telecom Award for 'Excellence in Innovative mobile handset designing' at a function held in New Delhi . Adorned with the international standard design quality from the TCT Mobile International Ltd, the new ALCATEL-ICE3 has received exceptionally rave reviews from techno-reviewers, and within the first couple of months of its launch in India has become a sensation in the Indian mobile market With its stylised cubical clamshell handset design, and priced at Rs 6,600 only, it is real value for money.

On receiving the award from Honorable Union Minister for Communications and IT, Thiru A Raja, country manager, ALCATEL Mobiles Praveen Valecha said, "We had set ourselves the target of taking the Indian mobile market with storm with our stylish designer phone packed with Social Networking features and full QWERTY keypad with innovative Design at a affordable price, this award soon after our launch has given us a major boost of confidence that we are heading in the right direction. Here we should give a special mention for our Design and Product team for their excellent contribution"

According to MS Malik, director of ICE Mobile Network Systems, "ALCATEL is known the world over for its international design quality. The handset has become a fashion accessory as well as a trendy gizmo for the youngsters. Now we are taking the handset to other parts of our country, with more reinforced confidence of its success." —TNS

Help at hand

Most phishing attacks depend on an original deception. If you detect that you are at the wrong URL, or that something is a miss on a page, the chase is up. You've escaped the attackers. In fact, the time that wary people are most wary is exactly when they first navigate to a site.

What we don't expect is that a page we've been looking at will change behind our backs, when we aren't looking. That'll catch us by surprise.

HANS - Anti-Hacking Anticipation Society brings to you another mode of rescue from a hacker.

How the attack works

n A user navigates to your normal looking site.

n You detect when the page has lost its focus and hasn't been interacted with for a while.

n Replace the favicon with the Gmail favicon, the title with "Gmail: Email from Google", and the page with a Gmail login look-a-like. This can all be done with just a little bit of Javascript that takes place instantly.

n As the user scans their many open tabs, the favicon and title act as a strong visual cue-memory is malleable and moldable and the user will most likely simply think they left a Gmail tab open. When they click back to the fake Gmail tab, they'll see the standard Gmail login page, assume they've been logged out, and provide their credentials to log in. The attack preys on the perceived immutability of tabs.

n After the user has entered their login information and you've sent it back to your server, you redirect them to Gmail. Because they were never logged out in the first place, it will appear as if the login was successful.

You can make this attack even more effective by changing the copy: Instead of having just a login screen, you can mention that the session has timed out and the user needs to re-authenticate. This happens often on bank websites, which makes them even more susceptible to this kind of attack.

The fix

This kind of attack once again shows how important our work is on the firefox account manager to keep our users safe. User names and passwords are not a secure method of doing authentication; it's time for the browser to take a more active role in being your smart user agent; one that knows who you are and keeps your identity, information, and credentials safe.

For the people

If you face any such situation where you have been logged out all of a sudden, may it be bank websites telling you that your session has expired or whatever, just choose to enter the website address in the address bar of your browser rather than going by the screen that is displayed in front of you. It may make you waste a few minutes of yours, but its more feasible than losing your everything maybe.

Courtesy: HANS team

Blind spot
To keep the heat out, choose from the latest chiks

It must have a taken years for those who love to do homes to get over the bad memories of the rugged, boring, terrible blue cane chiks. The only solution to keep rooms cool in summers, the blue chiks were not experimented upon for several years. The result being, when upholstery and soft furnishings underwent many changes as per the décor, the blue chiks at the maximum were replaced by yet again boring Venetian blinds. “Use of these blinds was possible only in offices. Also known as vertical blinds, they render a very formal look to the working place. When it comes to home décor, washroom windows is where they can be used,” says Esha Gupta, a city based interior decorator. The history of Venetian blinds goes back to 1960’s. They were invented in Kansas City, Missouri and the gradual changes were introduced in terms of slats made from wood, steel, or other hard material.

Chiks caught interest of interior decorators much later because curtains always were the priority. “Only when chiks became handy and easier to deal with that they were used for home décor,” says Sukhmani Bhore of Finishing Touch, an interior décor firm. It was now when the Roman blinds were put into use. They were suitable for houses. Known as horizontal blinds as usually they are folded upwards, the blinds are very different from the Venetian blinds. She adds, “The add to the décor of the house if made from sheer fabrics like organza, raw silk and tissue. Also a lot of printed fabrics and embroidered chiks have entered the market.”

Besides a few samples, chiks in the market are generally custom-made. Thus available are chiks with leather piping and laces in different designs. Esha warns against the use of blinds without taking into consideration the basic décor of the house. “It shouldn’t look out of place. A chik should gel with the colour of walls, furniture, whether its ethnic or straight line and even colour of its soft furnishing.”

Though curtains are still preferred to chiks, people can use it as an element of style. “Horizontal chiks doesn’t necessarily fall in the straight line. Frilly look of chiks is in these days and add grace to the decor,” says Santokh Singh Arora of Unique decorators. While we wait for some more innovations, what makes us happy is the blue plastic covered chiks are finally out of sight and out of mind.

— Ashima Sehajpal

Playing it right

To invoke history or traditions in theatrical art is one thing but to create awareness and love for contemporary theatre by involving the audience in appreciation of the performing art, is entirely different. But something different is what’s on the agenda of Adakar Manch, Mohali. A slice of the concept was eloquently perceptible during their five-day theatre fest titled Adakarian-2010, organised in association with Punjab Arts Council at the Randhawa auditorium.

Audience turned in large number displaying their admiration through humble donations for the promotion of the art and the artists. The theatre buffs thronged the venue to relish socially relevant plays written and directed by playwright thespian Dr Sahib Singh. One of the plays, Sooraj di koi pith nahin hundi, was a very bold take on the unethical immigration by all those falling for alluring lust for the glamour and power of money in the west. The play depicted the brain drain process with total conviction.

Crossing all social compulsions and dodging the immigration authorities, the protagonist Satta ventures to marry his niece on record with an understanding to get a divorce after she settles in Canada. The couple has to face many funny dramatic as well as serious situations while questioned by police and relatives there, till they finally decide to live as husband and wife.

Earlier, the burning issue of prevailing polluted education system was in focus in the staging of play, Vidya Vichari. Based on the concept by DS Saroya, Director, NZCC that education can make us the masters of our destiny by being a powerful instrument for social reconstruction, playwright Dr Sahib Singh sculpted the drama to put the message across commendably. The play juxtaposes the rampant mass copying in examinations with the connivance of institutions and individuals. While the festival was dedicated to cherish memories of theatre artists Gary Bhinder and Pushkar Singh, the Adakar Manch felicitated Amritsar based actor Mandeep Kaur and veteran artist Baljit Bala during the concluding ceremony.

Way to go

It’s a request. Not to take out private vehicles on the World Environment Day. And for the inspiration, they couldn’t get more action oriented. How about cycling all the way to Delhi to set an example? A cycle rally, organised by the FyvElementz, supported by Environmental Society, Nischay, Sankalp and the eco club of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Collegiate Public School took off on Monday from Sukhna Lake for Delhi.

However, the number of societies and bodies partnering outnumbered the number of participants. Shares Mrigya Samyal, one of the participating body, FyvElementz, “It was a little discouraging at first, because we tried telling as many people we could and reaching out to them with our message, but eventually only four people turned up for the rally. But whatever, we never really let anything dampen our spirit, nor did we let our discouragement affect our actions.” Meanwhile, the rallyists must have made it to Karnal by now. Way to go!


The Panchkula Ladies Club dedicated a day to grand old ladies by organising a ramp walk. The event held at Pallavi-16, had 40 members of the club walking the ramp in two categories. First, the young mothers and second were the grand mothers. The theme-based event had all of them flaunting the style and diva in them, draped in saris.

“It was a part of our monthly event list. The first category was a competition, but grandmoms did catwalk for enjoyment. After all they too need to look glamorous,” said Sharda Kathpalia, president of the Panchkula Ladies Club.

And on the account of camaraderie, each member was supposed to walk. “We had put a fine of Rs 100 on those who refused to participate. So every body put their best foot forward and was at her stylish best,” says Sharda. The participating members came from Pinjore, Dhakoli, Zirakpur apart from Panchkula. — TNS

Spade work
Spot the spots
Satish Narula

Dealing with plants is like dealing with any other life. The pets in the house, however, express in one way or the other by stopping to eat, looking nervous, lazy behaviour or certain secretions from different body orifices. But how do the plants express their ailments? They cannot move or speak. But believe me, they do express their grievances. You need an eye to see. They talk to you and the only thing is you need to understand their language. They are also like pets. 

It is a must for a gardener to understand the ailments. The plants are affected by insect, pests and diseases. Normally, the ailment is noticed when enough damage has been done. Noticing at that time does not help in that case. Observe following symptoms when you move about in your garden. You may notice the eaten leaves or upward or downward ‘cupping’ of foliage. There could also be leaf spots or rusting, cottony growth on leaves and twigs, drying or dying of leaves. All this is due to one or the other pest. You must have read about the severe infestation of sacred Ber tree at Golden Temple in Amritsar being severely infested and drying due to Lac insect. It is being cured by my colleagues from PAU. Like any other pet, you have to be very quick in deciding and controlling the cause or there is irreparable damage. It is more pronounced in case of indoor plants as even a single leaf lost becomes an eye-sore. The cupping of the leaves is due to the presence of sucking type of insects on the plant. The eaten leaves are the handiwork of various larvae which can, however, be eliminated physically if the plant is within reach. 

Case Study: See the accompanying picture. The lower part of the plant has lost skin, the bark all around the stem. The bark is also black and peeled. There is presence of soft tissue too. A close examination of the stem shows symptoms of white ant attack. The rotting is due to water stagnation. This is a clear case of multiple damage caused by insects, fungi and starvation of roots. Those who are botany students must know that the conduction channels carrying food to roots (after photosynthesis) for their nourishment have died and thus the roots are starved. The roots are also chocked due to stagnation of water. The plant ultimately dies.

Myth of the week
Bugging fact

The mango mealy bug cannot fly and crawl up and down the trees. This is the time when it crawls down the tree. This statement is partially right as the females do not have wings whereas the males that are smaller in size do have them. This is the time when it flies from female to female for copulation and the ones that you see crawling down the tree is the gravid female. It will go down the soil, six inches deep and lay eggs that will hatch in winter. The female dies after laying cluster of eggs.

Getting cheeky!

Actor Mandira Bedi may not be a fan of plastic surgery but given a chance she would love to flaunt cheeks like yesteryear's Hollywood diva Sophia Loren. The TV anchor and cricket commentator, however, is not averse to getting Botox."I would love to have Sophia Loren's cheeks! The day I'm ready for it I'll head straight to my skin specialist and ask her to give me similar cheeks using Botox," Mandira said.

The 32-year-old actor, who was last seen in the Bollywood dud Meerabai Not out, believes that today it is easy to look good without undergoing the painful procedure of plastic surgery."I have nothing against Bollywood actors who go under the knife just to look beautiful but personally I would prefer going for something that's a lot less painful and non- surgical," said Mandira.

"It's amazing to see the kind of things the industry comes up with to make a person look good!" Mandira, who is a self-confessed fitness freak, said that she didn't really understand all the brouhaha surrounding size zero."I think people look unhealthy when they are size zero. I don't believe in starving but instead in eating right," said the actor, who was in the Capital to launch Juvederm's Voluma.

Asked who her fitness icon in Bollywood was, her reply was quick. "Bipasha! She was chubby when she first entered the industry but she looks so toned and fit now. No other actor in Bollywood can beat her at being a fitness icon," Mandira said.

Mandira who started her career as the docile Shanti in the tele-serial 'Shanti,' has been courting controversy ever since she stepped into the glam world, first with her noodle-strap blouses, then on charges of showing disrespect to the Indian flag by wearing it close to her feet.Although the actor doesn't have any Bollywood projects in the pipeline, she said her work as a sports commentator was keeping her "up and busy." — PTI

Neat memory

Hollywood star Michael Douglas has revealed he has one lasting memory of sharing a New York apartment with the Taxi actor Danny De Vito as the neatest man he has ever met.The two stars were roommates at the beginning of their careers in the late 1960s and Douglas still has fond memories of his friend's organisational skills.

"I had met Danny in summer theatre... and we were roommates together in New York. He was neat! That's not very good for his image! But he was neat and he was in love with (wife-to-be) Rhea (Perlman), so actually he was a great roommate because I didn't see him a whole lot because he was with Rhea all the time! And he was so neat," said Douglas. — IANS

A prince and a king

Prince Harry has beaten Twilight heartthrob Robert Pattinson to be crowned King of Cool. GQ magazine took 37-and-a-half to be the cut-off age in considering the coolest men.It took into account an 'enviable sense of savoir faire, a talent for transforming the mundane into the extraordinary, or just a really edgy haircut'.

According to GQ, Harry, 25, who is described as 'soldier, ambassador, polo player, playboy', turned his image around after a few youthful gaffes with his stint in Afghanistan.Top ten 'coolest' men: 1. Prince Harry 2. Robert Pattinson 3. Reggie Love (Aide to US President Barack Obama) 4. Dizzee Rascal 5. Jason Schwartzman (actor) 6. Usain Bolt 7. Ryan McGinley (photographer) 8. Dustin Lance Black (screenwriter) 9. Matt Helders (Arctic Monkeys drummer) 10. Wells Tower (author) — ANI

Novel act

It's difficult to adapt books into movies, says actor R. Madhavan, who is still basking in the success of "3 Idiots" based on Chetan Bhagat's book "Five Point Someone". "A director can get an idea from a novel, but making a film from a book is difficult. Writing the screenplay is a challenge. In '3 Idiots', we had to change a whole lot of things," said the actor while promoting long-time friend N. Sampat Kumar's book "Love on Velocity Express".

Madhavan said he had spent several nights on Mumbai's Juhu beach with Sampat Kumar discussing philosophy while he was struggling to get a hold in the film industry. The 40-year-old actor, who played a college boy to the hilt in "3 Idiots", continued showering praise on director Rajkumar Hirani for having deftly adapted the written word onto the big screen.

"Rajkumar Hirani did a wonderful job as a narrator and director. He consulted everyone and did what he thought best for the movie. If an actor is asked to make a wish list, the desire to make movies with Hirani should top the list. He is such a meticulous director and his movies are so refreshing."

Clad in a black T-shirt and blue denims, Madhavan said he was loving the popularity he enjoys both in the south and the north. "I love the idea of being identified as Maddy Paaji after the success of 'Three Idiots' and 'Teen Patti'. In south I am referred to as 'Maddy Thambi'," he said.

The Tamil heartthrob, who was born in Jamshedpur in Jharkhand, said he would "head to Monte Carlo next month to shoot for his forthcoming Tamil movie". "I am working with Kamal Haasan and Trisha for my next Tamil production. We have not yet decided on a name for the movie," he said.

In Bollywood, the actor said he had just completed work on "Tanu Weds Manu", a romantic comedy directed by Anand Rai. "I have not been home for the last 48 days and in the past 24 hours, I have changed six flights. I am desperate to go home," the actor said.

Though he had come for a book launch, Madhavan candidly said he was "not much into books". "In school they made me read so much that I don't read story books any more. I gather my information from audiovisual means," he said. The actor said he would stick to acting for the time being but added that he was "capable of directing or producing" as well. — IANS

On the record

Lara Dutta
Lara Dutta

Her husky voice is well recognised by her fans and Bollywood beauty Lara Dutta is now launching her own voice blog.

The actor who is already active on the micro blogging website Twitter and is also a columnist for a newspaper, will record her thoughts for all her fans to listen.

"Hey! I just started Voice Blogging. Catch you all there," Lara wrote on her Twitter page.

The actor who is set to co-host this year's International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards in Colombo, is following in the footsteps of megastar Amitabh Bachchan who too has a voice blog of his own.

The former Miss Universe will be hosting the Bollywood extravaganza alongside good friend Riteish Deshmukh who starred with her in Do Knot Disturb and Housefull.

Completing the funny trio will be Boman Irani, who along with Deshmukh had hosted last year's event held in Macau. — PTI

Ritchie-ing out

Hollywood funnyman Chris Rock has revealed he wants to star in one of British director Guy Ritchie's movies after missing out on a role in Revolver.

The US comedian admits he was supposed to appear in Ritchie's Revolver but lost out at the last minute to singer Andre 3000.

"I'm a fan of Guy Ritchie. I was supposed to be in Revolver and then I saw one day that it was Andre 3000. I had the meeting. Maybe I was too expensive. Maybe I'll be in his next one," he said. — IANS

A Date to remember

Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson

Hollywood veteran Jack Nicholson has proved he's still a ladies' man by asking pop star Jessica Simpson out on a date.

"The Departed" star has been linked to a number of actors and models over the years, including Lara Flynn Boyle, Anjelica Huston and Michelle Phillips, and has fathered six children with different women. The 73-year-old has reportedly invited 29-year-old singer Simpson to join him for an evening together.

"I have no idea how Jack got my number as we've never met. He asked if I wanted to go to his Beverly Hills house for dinner," said Simpson, who declined the offer. — IANS

Ironing out things

Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson hates doing household chores and has hinted that her actor husband Ryan Reynolds does her ironing.The 25-year-old actor, who has been married to the 'X Men' star for almost two years now, admitted that she stays away from doing work around the house and hinted that she even leaves some domestic tasks to her spouse.

"I wouldn't say that cleaning is something I like to do, or ironing. I can't remember the last time I ironed, actually. Does anybody actually iron any more? Men iron more than women these days," said Johansson.Even though she hates cleaning, the 'Vicky Christina Barcelona' star loves nothing more than creating new culinary treats."I love to cook and bake, I love to be domestic in that way because you know what goes into the food you eat. I like cooking alone - I find it very therapeutic. I put on some music, maybe have a glass of wine and make something like a turkey Bolognese or a nice frittata," said Johansson. — PTI

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