Power punch
Ashima Sehajpal

Difference number one — wrestling is a glamourous sport in the West. Here, it is still restricted to rural areas; doesn’t find enough followers among the youth. Number two — the popular names end at the Great Khali and Olympic medal winner Sushil Kumar in India while abroad, the list is endless. Third is about infrastructure and fourth about coaches, fifth, sixth…the reality check of Indian wrestling scenario vis-à-vis that in the West is bound to be hard-hitting when the true account is given by stalwarts of sport.

At Gulzar Wrestling Akhara in Zirakpur, TNA wrestling stars Kurt Angle, Mick Foley and Jay Lethal talked everything on the sport. On the invite of ESPN Star Sports, they were here on a hunt for an Indian wrestler. Besides the topic of relevance — wrestling in India — they talked about what anybody should when they are in India – our cuisine, Bollywood, fashion, spirituality and much more.

Flattering welcome

Kurt Angle least anticipated the kind of welcome he received in India. “I was expecting a quiet entry at the Mumbai airport, but surprisingly fans surrounded us. Till the next one hour I was only signing autographs.” And it got better and better with a warm welcome at the hotel as well. “This is the 76th country I have travelled till date and the hospitality we enjoyed here can’t be described in words.” About wrestling (you got to believe when it comes from an Olympic gold medallist) he says that the scene in India has improved. “The rest will fall in place when the sport is introduced at the school level, when youth interested in it will not have to shift base to towns that have ‘akharas’ and coaches.”

Kurt is looking for fitness, technique and as he says, ‘a look’ in the contender. “By looks I don’t mean he has to be handsome, but he should stand out in the crowd. He should look like a wrestler.” The example of Khali followed. In between came a confession that was flattering. “I don’t experiment with my diet. I take boiled healthy food but here I couldn’t afford to miss Tandoori chicken. It’s spicy and tempting enough to force me into changing my diet chart.”

Besides the wrestling ring, Kurt will also be seen in Hollywood flicks – ‘Warrior, River of Darkness, Dead of Night and Beyond the Math’. So will he be seen in a negative role that’s usually been the case, “The image of a wrestler has evolved over the years. They are no more accepted by people only in a villain’s role. For youngsters, they are the heroes.” An Olympic gold medallist surely is!

Deeply moved

On his way from the Mumbai airport to the hotel, what Mick Foley saw made him instantly decide what he is going to do after retirement. “It was extremely disturbing to see kids begging on the roadside. They looked starved and had no clothes on them. Once I am back home, I will make sure I do something for them,” says Mick, who has spent 25 years of his life inside the ring, wrestling and beating many a strong man. Mick’s knowledge about India isn’t limited to the obvious – Bollywood — he knows India as the future economic power, a country that’s crazy about cricket, but a one that’s trying to cope with economic disparity. “It’s time people start taking interest in other games as well, if they want to bag more Olympic medals.”

Just like in films, drama can’t be avoided inside the ring and Mick is for it. “The basic purpose of wrestling is to entertain people, even if that requires a little drama.” In the very next point he makes, he clarifies that fights are not fake, “In my entire career, I have suffered 60 injuries, Kurt has had a lot of fractures and even Jay, who’s a fresher has had his share of broken bones.” The biggest change he has witnessed in all the years is that nowadays wrestlers enter the sport with their real name, instead of a dramatic false name. “It’s because they are confident of themselves. They want fans to connect to their real personality.”

Positive note

Being a wrestler is not just about winning matches, it’s about maintaining fitness levels, gaining popularity…“It’s much more. And the most difficult part is sacrificing. A wrestler should learn how to stay away from his family as quickly as possible. At times, due to the busy schedule, I don’t get to meet my family for a very long time,” says Jay Lethal. And the last time he met his family was six months back. Coming to wrestling in India, he feels visits of International wrestlers will help the cause in India. “It will inspire youngsters and their parents to take interest in the game. Success can be infectious.” He is positive as far as the future of wrestling in India is concerned. “Wrestling should no more be considered the game of rural India, especially when it has brought an Olympic medal.”

When his best friend is an Indian, he is bound to know a lot about Bollywood. He’s a Shah Rukh Khan and Sanjay Dutt fan. “My favourite movie is Kal Ho Na Ho.” And there are many on the list!

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I was expecting a quiet entry at the Mumbai airport, but surprisingly fans surrounded us. Till the next one hour I was only signing autographs. — Kurt Angle

In my entire career, I have suffered 60 injuries, Kurt has had a lot of fractures and even Jay, who’s a fresher, has had his share of broken bones — Mick Foley

Wrestling should no more be considered the game of rural India, especially when it has brought an Olympic medal — Jay Lethal

Big applause 
Amitabh Bachchan calls Udaan a breath of fresh air

Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan has heaped praise on debutant director and his son Abhishek’s schoolmate Vikramaditya Motwane’s new film Udaan.

“Vikramaditya Motwane, a schoolmate of Abhishek has directed this film. His only prior credential has been that he was an assistant to Sanjay Leela Bhansali. A young man, who had come some years ago to me with a marvellous script, has directed this venture of his with the maturity that one does not expect to see from one on his debut venture,”

Amitabh wrote on his blog bigb.bigadda.com. “In all the noise and thunder of the popular cinema now prevalent, this film comes as a fresh breeze of air. Its simplicity is brimming over with the intensity of its content,” he added. Amitabh also revealed that veteran actress Shabana Azmi had asked him to watch the movie. “The film had received encouraging critical reviews and personal recommendations from the likes of Shabana Azmi and many others. And I have to say that, even though generally a suggested film carries praise even before one has seen it, and that such praise does make one apprehensive and pre-programmed to like the product, I found that the film deserved the accolades it was getting,” he wrote. “Bringing an audience into the framework of the story is not an easy task. I thought it was extremely brave of the director to be able to achieve that. Apart from the novelty of the presentation of the film, the matter that stands out is the performances from each and every artist,” he added. — IANS

Guest appearance

Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan showed up for the I Hate Luv Storys (IHLS) celebration bash, but people close to Karan Johar suggest that too much should be read into this so-called new friendship.

“Aamir invited Karan to his Peepli Live music release. Karan invited him back for his IHLS party. That’s it. To conclude that they are working together in a film is not just pointless, it’s also unnecessary,” said the source.

If Aamir walked in sans his wife Kiran for the party, the film’s director Punit Malhotra and his leading man Imran Khan were also seen solo at event but hardly looking lost. “We had a mad evening. It was super-entertaining. I got everyone drunk,” said Punit the day after the party. According to him, Imran’s girlfriend Avantika was traveling. Everyone from Sammir Dattani to Karan Johar was hung-over the next morning, Punit made sure of that. He personally went around chasing the guests and dowing shots down their throats.

Sonam Kapoor, the leading lady of I Hate Luv Storys, was supposed to fly down to Mumbai for the celebration party on Saturday. But she did not eventually show up because of the tight schedule in Edinburgh for Mausam. Says a source close to the actress: “Too much of the Mausam schedule had already been disturbed because Sonam had to take a break to return to Mumbai to promote IHLS. There was no way she could return for even a day.” — IANS 

Friendly gesture
Rahat Fateh Ali Khan thanks India for promoting talent from Pakistan 

Pakistani singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, who is one of the judges of the music-based reality show Chotte Ustaad 2, says he is thankful to India for providing a platform to young singers from his country, which hasn’t been able to promote budding talent.“The situation in Pakistan is not good...the country is facing problem of terrorism and so we cannot provide a platform to budding talent here. We are thankful to India and the makers of this show (Chotte Ustad 2) for roping in children from Pakistan,” Khan said in an interview. “Once the situation normalises in Pakistan, we will surely create a platform there for the young talented singers. And we would try to bring in Indian talent,” he said.

Chhote Ustaad 2 will feature 10 children from India and 10 from Pakistan. Each Pakistani child will be paired with an Indian child, and the 10 pairs will compete with each other for the title.Khan, who has chartbusters like Mann Ki Lagan (Paap), Jiya Dhadak Dhadak (Kalyug), Teri Ore (Singh is Kinng) and Ajj Din Chadheya (Love Aaj Kal) to his credit, said films and cricket were the two mediums to bring India and Pakistan together.

“Both countries share common passion — love for films and cricket. Through this we all must surely try to bring the neighbours together. I have always tried to advocate peace on both sides of the border through my singing and will continue to do so,” the singer said. On Chhote Ustaad 2, Khan, who is the nephew of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, said, “I liked the concept of the show. It encourages brotherhood between India and Pakistan. It is a very good step and hence I wanted to support it.” — IANS

Cultural couture

The very first Couture Week in the capital was opened today by designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee who presented a collection inspired by the “essence of India”. Bollywood actresses Rani Mukherjee and Vidya Balan, who have time and again dressed in Sabyasachi’s creations, were present in the audience to cheer on the designer. “Sabyasachi is the only designer I stalk,” said Vidya, who was clad in a red sari by the designer, while Rani went for a western look in a black jumpsuit.

The collection named Aparajito, was unveiled in a grand show which began with the singing of the national anthem.“Tradition cannot be beaten, Indian textiles cannot be beaten, simplicity and humbleness cannot be beaten. These are the strengths of the collection, that is why it is called Aparajito,” the designer said. “80 per cent of the fabric was Khadi. The whole collection had a museum like quality, vintage and nostalgic. There was Block printing from Rajasthan, Kalamkari from Andhra Pradesh, Khadi from Murshidabad,” said Sabyasachi. Scenes from films like 1947 Earth played in the background as the models walked down the ramp. “There was a montage of different clips to create a mood for the show, upbeat and nostalgic, romantic with a certain amount of decadence. The collection comprised of 40 womenswear and 16 menswear mostly in earthy tones of muted greens, browns. — PTI

Something spooky

Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe is all set to play a spooky role in the big screen adaptation of Susan Hill’s scary novel The Woman In Black. The 20-year-old actor is currently lining up work after finishing filming on the wizard movies this summer. Radcliffe has already signed up for a remake of All Quiet on the Western Front and a Broadway production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

The Woman In Black has been running as a West End play since the late 1980s. The supernatural thriller was previously adapted into a TV movie in 1989 starring Adrian Rawlins, who plays Radcliffe’s onscreen father in the Harry Potter films.. James Watkins will direct the new movie, with a script by Kick-Ass screenwriter Jane Goldman. — PTI

Gritty thought

Hollywood star Ashton Kutcher wants to work on a “gritty” western movie, but doesn’t think it will happen as few people enjoy the genre any more. The 32-year-old actor wants to work on a cowboy-themed movie, but admits that the chances are slim, Contactmusic reported.

“I really want to do a western at some point that’s like a real super gritty, gritty western. But I don’t know if I’ll get to do that because people don’t really go to westerns anymore. But at some point, I’d love to,” said Kutcher. The hunk also admits his Killers co-star Katherine Heigl is determined to do a good job when working, but still remains a “great person”. “Katherine’s the kind of person who considers running to be a stunt, but at the same time what it is that she brings is so valuable, and she’s actually a really great person on top of it,” said the actor. — PTI 

High on horror

For the first time in his 15-year-old career, Bobby Deol, the romantic- action hero, has attempted to do a supernatural thriller - a not-so-popular genre with his latest Help. But the actor is taking his chances, saying there is “no guarantee what will work and what won’t”. “It’s not only horror films that didn’t work this year. There are many others that didn’t either. There is no guarantee what will work and what won’t,” said Bobby.

“Every Friday when your film is about to release, you are scared, you don’t want to be around because you don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said.

Bobby’s ghost film is titled Help and it has been directed by debutant Rajeev Viran who narrates the story of a malevolent spirit that refuses to leave the human world. While the actor will be seen as a successful horror film director in the movie, Mugdha Godse will feature as his wife.

The film is slated to hit the screens on August 13.

This year saw a number of horror films hitting the big screen like Click, starring Shreyas Talpade and Sneha Ullal; Ram Gopal Varma’s Phoonk 2; Aditya Narayan-starrer Shaapit; Purab Kohli and Arjan Bajwa’s Hide & Seek; and Rokkk that had Udita Goswami and Tanushree Dutta.

In real life, Bobby doesn’t believe in evil spirits. “As an adult I don’t believe in spirits and ghosts, but as a child such stories used to interest me and even scare me sometimes,” said the 43-year-old. “When I was a little kid, my cousin used to tell me ghost stories. Even when my maids used to talk about such stuff, I used to get interested and would force them to make me a part of their conversation. Sometimes though they scared me.”Usually seen in romantic and action movies, Bobby agreed to do Help because he felt it was time to experiment with a different genre. “When I heard the subject, it sounded interesting; so I decided to give it a shot. End of the day, as an actor you want to experience different things. I have done this for the first time; now let’s see how it fares,” he said.

So wasn’t he skeptical about working with an actress who is relatively new in the industry? “No, not at all. I’m not one of those people. In fact, most of my films are with heroines who are relatively new in the industry. What is important is that the person suits the character and Mugdha was perfect for this role,” he informed. Horror is not the only thing on Bobby’s plate at the moment. He is working on two more films - Yamla Pagla Deewana and Thank You. While Yamla Pagla Deewana will see him reuniting on screen with his father and elder brother, in Thank You he will be seen with Sonam Kapoor and Akshay Kumar. — IANS

Sneak peak
INIFD’s Designer Medley 2010 brings out the elements of painting, dance and other art forms in beautiful dresses created by final-year students

Madhubani paintings, Delftware pottery from Holland, beaded work from African Maasai tribe, searing volcanoes and celestial light come together in Designer Medley-2010, prepared painstakingly by budding artistes of International Institute of Fashion Design (INIFD).

The students who researched exhaustively on their themes, prepared dresses as well as accessories and walked the ramp in their stunning creations before top models don them for INIFD annual passing out fashion show.

“This show is an annual feature that gives our students hands-on experience to get ready for the glamorous as well as challenging world of fashion,” says Ritu Kochhar, corporate director, INIFD.

Seven themes, each unique in its own, INIFD Designer Medley brings out the best that students have to offer.

Collection Glittery Soiree reverberates eternal romance with a vast array of saris, lehangas and gowns in natural fabric like georgettes, crepes and tissues with sequins, thread work and intricate zari work. Blue Muse from Delftware pottery brings out fine artwork in short dresses, gowns and kaftans. Lava Cascades finds its greys, browns and burning orange from seething volcanoes to create dresses with strong silhouettes created by bending, folding, twisting and manipulating georgettes, crepes and satins.

Madhubani inspires Ornate Offerings with ‘ardhnarishwar’, trees and lotus motifs finding their way in vibrant reds, greens, blues and yellows on delicate dresses, kaftans and saris. One can see beautiful Odissi mudras on khadi silk, creating magic with pin tucks, shell tucks and ribbon work. Even more beautiful was the presentation as young students walked the ramp with different mudras painted on their dresses. Maasai tribe’s beadwork from Africa on raw and handloom silk created a magical aura in formal dresses. Very bright and accessorised with tribal look, Afro Euphony collection is rich in colour. Celestial spirit finds expression in I Glow, in which soft drapings in silk, satin, lycra and net give a classy, contemporary look.

Very proud of students’ work, Kochhar says, “The collection brings out the creativity of students. This amazing collection — hardwork of some 60 students guided by able faculty — is sure to leave anyone spellbound.” Indeed the dresses and choreography done by faculty guides Anity Singh and Sheetal Verma are amazing. Interested buyers can place orders with the students at the INIFD campus after their Annual Passing Out show.

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With a smile
Cotton Council International announced the second edition of its pan-India

t-shirt design competition — Teezing

Perhaps, that’s what’s commendable of the corporates and all the commercial activity associated with it — a charity angle tangent to some social events.

Cotton Council International announced the second edition of its pan-India t-shirt design competition - Teezing. Herein fits the altruist angle; Cotton Council had Smile Foundation as charity partner for the event in Chandigarh.

“Although the competition is a pan-India level, but in association with Smile foundation it’s being organised in five more cities - Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Pune and Ahmedabad,” Anindita Majumdar, corporate communications officer, Smile, gives the details. The competition gives a chance to the young and the old alike to showcase their creativity and sketching skills. She adds, “The competition’s open to kids from all age groups but over here we have 75 kids from our foundation in the age group of seven to 15.” The best deigns will be retailed by Flying Machine, a ready-to-wear brand.

Meanwhile, the set of 12 sketch pens, drawing sheets, scales and paraphernalia has all opened. Not everyone’s stuck to the theme My Cotton World though; one’s busy colouring Mickey Mouse, other a hut, yet another’s drawing a hut against the backdrop of hills. While one more from among the crowd sticks to sketching river, flowers, butterflies, but written somewhere up in the clouds in between is cotton; perhaps drawing a parallel between nature and the fabric. In between Aman, a participant, stuck to the theme, with a huge print declaring, ‘If you want to go on, please wear cotton.’

Yet another had cotton written in big bold alphabets and is weaving a design around it. The competition’s based on the premise — how cotton touches every aspect of our lives.

The final eight compete at the national level. “All these kids are from our mission education programme and from here on the final selected eight will be participating in the nationals,” informs Anindita.

Thrown in between the competition were even cash and consolation prizes. “I’ll be judging these kids on the basis of how much they’ve stuck to the theme, My Cotton World, and of course how good their design will look on the t-shirt,” says April Sher Bhaika, freelance stylist, the jury for the event.

All this while the creative colourful work is still in progress. The teezing round with fun and fashionable cotton has just begun! — Manpriya Khurana

Diesel dazzler

Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt. Ltd announced the launch of the Corolla Altis Diesel in India. The latest offering from TKM has been developed keeping in mind the distinctive requirements of the Indian customer with the basic concept of ‘optimum balance of performance and economy’. India is the first Asian country to get the BSIV Corolla Altis Diesel.

The Corolla Altis is available with a newly developed 1.4L in-line 4-cylinder D-4D Common Rail Diesel Engine that generates a peak power of 88.4 PS and a peak torque of 205 Nm. Toyota’s D-4D technology also used in the Innova, Fortuner, Prado and Land Cruiser 200 has earned a reputation the world-over for its high quality, durability and reliability.

The D-4D engine in the Corolla Altis is complemented by a 6-Speed Manual Transmission a ‘first-in-segment’ offering to provide flat torque that would mean lesser gear shifting, leading to better fuel efficiency. The car has registered a best-in-class mileage of 21.43 km/l as certified by a test agency.

The Corolla Altis Diesel gets a differentiating sporty mesh grille, better aerodynamic characteristics, and the lowest NVH and best ground clearance in its segment. The car is available in seven colours Silver Mica Metallic, Champagne Mica Metallic, Dark Red Mica Metallic, White Pearl Mica, Light Blue Mica Metallic, Super White and Black Mica.

The Corolla Altis Diesel comes in three manual transmission grades D-4D J, D-4D G and D-4D GL with competitive price tags between Rs.10,95,000 lakhs and Rs.13,75,000 lakhs, ex-showroom .

Speaking at the launch, Nakagawa (MD, TKM) said, “The Corolla DNA that has been handed down for 40 years is now in its 10th Generation with over 35 million happy customers worldwide. The car made its debut in India in 2003, and now has more than 60,000 satisfied owners in the country. As part of our long-term commitment to bring the best of Toyota’s technology to India, we are very proud to introduce the Corolla Altis Diesel. The Corolla Altis Diesel has Toyota’s proven D-4D technology, and I am happy to say will have the best fuel efficiency in its segment. “

Sandeep Singh (Deputy Managing Director-Marketing, TKM) said, “Apart from the spacious interiors and luxury features of the Corolla Altis, the diesel variant has the best fuel efficiency, lowest NVH and the best ground clearance in its segment. Our target customers are individuals who are business professionals, in the 35 to 45 age group looking for a perfect balance of performance and economy. The launch of the Corolla Altis Diesel has enhanced Toyota’s line-up in India, and we are looking at consolidating our leadership position in the C-segment with a sales target of 10,500 units for the Corolla Altis in 2010.” — TNS

Combo delight

If you think you have enough options to dig in and satisfy the big Punjabi appetite, think again. When talking food, we would always have room for more and so Zaika Rest-O-Bar launched their special lunch combo menu. Designed to bring the best dishes at minimal pricing, the combos are for people on the move.

“The aim is to serve different flavours without any hassles of overpriced portions that go waste in the end. The quantity of the portions is divided suitably and has the elements of all the cuisines available at the restaurant,” says chef Brajesh Chandra Ghansiyal.

There are around 15 food combos to choose from, with an option of adding a drink to the menu. The chef special combinations include Kundan Kalian, an Awadhi mutton korma with roomali roti, salad and curd; Delhi Ki Galian Se with dal makhani, butter naan, vegetables and salad. “The menu targets the local corporate clients who want something fast but don’t want to spend as much as on a buffet or a full course meal,” adds Brajesh. — TNS

Kiss of nature
Lotus Herbals introduces Floralglam

Time to go green with your lipsticks! Lotus Herbals has introduced FLORALGLAM, a new range of moisturizing lip colours. Lotus Herbals FLORALGLAM lip colour is enriched with Comfrey extracts Nigra and Ovata seeds and is natural, safe and free of animal products.

Part of the Cosmetics Ecologique make up range, FLORALGLAM lip colour gives an instant dose of moisture and adds glamour to your lips. This lipstick’s innovative packaging makes it a must have in every woman’s purse. Priced at Rs.295/-, it is available in 10 exciting shades comprising of pinks, brown, orange, copper, mauve and nude and is available at select premium beauty and department stores across the country. — TNS

That feeling inside

Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty," said Mother Teresa. Despite modern means of communication and transportation reducing distances, loneliness is increasing like never before. We do a quick check of the causes and possible solutions, if any.

"Breaking down of the joint family system, increasing obsession with mobile phones and laptops, employment taking kids to far away places and decreasing patience levels - are all responsible for rising levels of loneliness," says Sulekha Misra, a lecturer in biology. "Even the kids today are lonely because parents, who are busy climbing career ladders, have no time for them," she adds.

Parminderjit Kaur from Ambala also blames the lifestyle changes for increasing loneliness levels. "The present social system is no doubt driving us towards loneliness," she avers. "Gone are the days when people would sit together for hours chatting, laughing, sharing memories and doing nothing (as we would say it nowadays). Now when we think of chatting we think of sitting in front of our computers and typing endlessly! Its increasing preference to be in the virtual world where one can fix things according to convenience, which leads us to a life of seclusion," she points out.

"Isn't it strange that despite technological advancements that allow us to connect easily, one feels lonelier than ever before?" questions Harleen Kaur Chadha, a student from the city. "Internet has changed the way people communicate. Social networking sites like Facebook undermine social skills and the ability to read body language," she adds. "They have also sounded the death knell of face-to-face communication. And trust me no amount of friends on social networking sites can replace one real friend who can hold your hand when you need," she avers.

Arpan, a student of UIET, PU, blames cut-throat competition, an unending rat race for materialistic gains and societal pressure for pushing many into the world of isolation. "Increasing number of depression cases, number of suicides and ever-increasing graph of heart-related diseases are testimony to the rising loneliness in out modern society," she says.

However, there are others who feel otherwise. "I think changing societal structures have made our life interesting," says Opinder Kaur, a homemaker. "Modern world has brought the world to our feet and it's up to us to make it lively or lonely," she stresses.

Agrees Himanshy Jindal, an engineering student from Panchkula. "Changing societal structure is not leading to loneliness, in fact, it is paving the way for more opportunities of socialisation," she avers. "New technology helps one remain in contact with families and friends. The changing societal structure has provided so much that no one has time to be lonely," she justifies. With mobile devices, one can contact anyone, anytime," she adds.

We take the expert's view. "Man's race to be perfectionist, successful and rich has made him highly individualistic as well as materialistic by nature," says Suchet Kumar, a sociology lecturer from the city. He quotes Emile Durkheim's (a French sociologist) famous treatise 'Divison of Labour in Society (1893)' in which he predicted that increasing organic solidarity in our societies contributes to alienation and isolation in our lives.

"Today the primary relations based on face-to-face interaction and feelings of affection have been replaced by secondary relations that are based on one’s individual gains," he avers. "Staring from tuitions in school times to highly competitive college life to the even more ruthless work environment leave little time and energy for socialisation," says Kumar. "And whatever time is left today, we spend it in the virtual world," he adds. "This has led to increasing isolation, but the solutions are simple. Strike a balance between work and home. Spend time with people away from the virtual world as well," he says.

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Sibling solutions
Concentrate more on the positive things that can be done to help children get along

Ending conflict between siblings should not be the primary focus of parents - they should concentrate more on all the positive things that can be done to help children get along, says an American expert. Writing for a special section of Child Development Perspectives, Laurie Kramer, a University of Illinois professor of applied family studies, says: "Even if you're successful at reducing conflict and antagonism, research suggests that you'll probably be left with little positive interaction between siblings. Do you really want your kids to head for their rooms and spend time mainly on their own interests and with their own friends?" She urges parents to think about the relationship they want their kids to have with each other - now and as adults - and to be intentional in helping them create that positive, supportive bond.

"Most parents would like for their kids to be able to talk with each other, have fun together, and be a source of support for each other during stressful times in their lives," she says. Kramer knows siblings can learn the skills that enable them to be more supportive brothers and sisters because her own research has demonstrated it. She is the creator of the U of I's extremely successful More Fun with Sisters and Brothers program.

Here are some ways parents can support these positive changes in their own families: Help your children learn to see things from their sibling's perspective and to respect other people's points of view.

Teach them to identify and manage their emotions and behaviours when they're in challenging and frustrating situations. Teach your kids not to assume the worst about their sibling's or anyone else's intentions.

Show them that conflict is a problem that can be solved and teach them how to do it. Try to meet each child's unique needs without showing favoritism. Teach them to use their unique knowledge of each other to strengthen their bond rather than taking advantage of each other's weaknesses.

Promote play, conversation, mutual interests, and fun.

Praise your kids when they help, support, and cooperate with each other. Kramer encourages parents to examine the goals they have for their children's current and eventual relationship, and then to take actions that will help their kids achieve those goals.

"If you love the idea of your kids just having fun together, schedule more family activities and help to make that happen. If you do have big problems with fighting among your kids, help them learn and practice strategies for solving problems and managing conflicts," she says.

"Problems have solutions, and there's a logical process that you go through to achieve consensus. Make sure both siblings understand what the fight is about, have them practice telling their own viewpoint and taking the other person's perspective, then help them to brainstorm ways of solving the problem that have a win-win solution. If the solution doesn't work, you try again," she adds. — ANI

Loneliness PANGs
Costly bargain

In today's competitive world, loneliness is a reality more than ever before. Most parents struggle hard to meet targets at work as well as at the home. The trend is also of a single child household. Often, the child has just the maid and the idiot box as mates. The joint family has become a fragmented 'nuclear' reality in our disjointed world. No giggling children, no comforting elders and no aunts and uncles' shoulders to cry upon!

Now, Facebook and Orkut have become the extended family, with an increased dependency on friends for decision-making. On the flip side, life in a joint family may not be that easy as well. Generation gap, disagreement on values, rebellion against authority etc are some of the issues that drive people away from this concept. Yet, the emotional stability that one gets from a comforting touch, understanding glance and sound values is what helps people sail peacefully through life. Modern day nuclear families, in their quest for solitude, get lonelier in the bargain. What an expensive exchange it has been!

Swati Rai, Patiala

Less communication

The informal community life and vibrancy of the joint family are fast disappearing in today's world. Nuclear family is becoming the norm. People rarely meet for enjoying the pleasures of togetherness. In families too, each member prefers to pass time in his or her own way. In this present world of Internet and cellphones, families rarely sit together to have lunch or dinner. Thus, the reduced interaction and communication has caused loneliness, which in turn causes depression. Man by nature is a social creature but the changed social and personal circumstances-compulsions and stresses of profession and high expectations leave little scope to mix up with others without purpose. This selfish life-style is the bane of modern-day developments.

Lajpat Rai Garg, Panchkula

Elders suffer

In today's materialistic world, it is not easy to cope with pressures. There is a big generation gap, which has led to disintegration of families. This in turn has resulted in loneliness graph rising, especially in the case of elders. The younger generation is caught in the world of TV serials, mobiles and Internet, and can hardly find time for the elders. This loneliness is the major reason behind the prevalence of depression in elders.

SK Khosla, Chandigarh.

Renee Writes
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Get the attitude right

I am 26 and recently started doing my pilot training. I have studied for an MBA course after finishing my graduation. I feel my destiny lies in being a pilot. My problem is my lack of confidence in myself. I feel shy and tongue tied in company. Also, I feel my knowledge of English is not very good so I hesitate to open my mouth most of the time. Can you suggest me some way to overcome my shyness and learn to interact with the outer world at a better level. I feel that my nature is not allowing me to shine in any direction. Life seems dull and meaningless. Please advise.

Manpreet Kalra, Chandigarh

Confidence is once again an attitude. You have to just start looking at yourself in a more positive fashion. How can you not love yourself enough? Remember, you are the most important person in your own life and if you cannot give yourself this feeling then who can? Try to focus on all your positive qualities and talents and give them a boost. A good self-image is very important and this depends totally on how you perceive yourself. As far as hesitating over English that is just a minor hurdle. It wouldn't take much to overcome that. Join an English-speaking course there are many available or you can even buy some books for self-study. Go out with confidence and you will begin to feel more positive. Do not allow minor negative thoughts to stand in your way. You must have a focus and go for it, the dullness will lift on its own and a new direction will bring in a new meaning also.

Heal with it

I am an 18-year-old girl and study in Chandigarh in a hostel. I seem to have had an emotional problem all my life. My parents separated ever since I was born. I have been living with my mother who is working. She is very fond of me but since my father comes to visit me, I am also fond of him. All these years my father gave me a very strange picture of my mother's character. I have recently discovered that she is definitely not the strange woman my father made me believe. I love my mother very much but I am totally confused. I thought I loved her despite her faults though, I definitely felt antagonist towards her. I cannot decide how to deal with this new set of feelings. Please help me.

Rubina Mehta, Chandigarh

I do empathise with your pain and the conflict that is going on within you. I don't think any child deserves to be deprived of a normal childhood with both parents in sync with each other and the kids. But then life has its own way and we have just got to learn to deal with it to the best of our ability. I'm sure your mother is a wonderful woman who has brought you up and not said any negative things about your father to you. Do try and forget the mean things said about her and you can always make up with her with more love and respect. You need to build up the courage within yourself to be strong and handle the situation. Firstly you need to give yourself love and understanding just repeat to yourself that you are ready to heal. Forgive both your parents for having hurt you even if it was unintentional. Once you love yourself enough, the healing will happen naturally. Visualise the love coming into your life and the resentment and negativity will go, may God listen to all your prayers and be with you.

Knot a problem

I am 21-year-old girl studying in a co-education college. I am doing a degree in engineering. We are a family of three sisters and two brothers. I am the youngest of my sisters and the other two are working. My problem is that I have fallen in love with a boy who is also studying in my college but is much senior to me. We have been seeing each other for two years and want to get married. But since my sisters are still not married my family feels it would not be correct for me to marry before either of them. I do not seem to see the sense in it. Also, my boyfriend's family is pressurising him for marriage as he has an old grandfather who wants to enjoy the grandson’s wedding. What must I do? I am disturbed. I do want to come to a decision, please help me.

Rati Malhotra, Ambala

In our culture, I can understand how your parents feel about your decision to get married but you can easily bring them around. Ask your boyfriend’s family to approach them with the problem at hand and I'm sure the situation will get solved pretty much on its own. If you are convinced that he is the right guy for you, I think you can work towards making things happen your way. Do not feel disturbed, concentrate on your studies and do well. If you have made up your mind to marry this man, it will happen. Yes, it would be nice if your boyfriend could have waited for marriage but in the given circumstance, carry on.

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