The practical gift list
This Valentine’s Day balalnce your head with your heart and gift your loved one something that can be put to use. Here’s a quick check on some of them
Jigyasa Kapoor Chimra

Thinkstockphoto/ Getty images

Monday is arguably the most unromantic day of the week. But as cupid would have it, he decided to play a spoilsport this Valentine and made it fall on an 'industry day' (read Monday). Well, sulking wouldn't change the day, so make hay while the sun shines and gift your loved ones a day in advance. Though there is no dearth of gifts available in the market, we offer some 'practical' gift ideas.

Sp(a) ctacular

Who doesn't like to relax (especially the working couples)? So, spend Valentine's Day together at a spa.

Take your pick

Melody, manager from Seven Seas Spa in Sector 8, tips.

n The offers: Seven Seas Signature spa treatment. This spa includes a 90-minute body massage, body wrap, body scrub, steam and rose petal or any other kind of bath depending on your choice. Cost: Rs 3,000 plus tax.

n Traditional Ayurveda massage. A 75 minute full body massage with a herbal oil this spa also includes the traditional cascade of lukewarm oil on the forehead. Cost: Rs 2,300.

Beauty 'n' the gift

Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. So, gift your girl a day at the beauty parlour (make it a day in advance).

Dr Poonam, manager, Tress Lounge in Sector 8, tips - "Every walk-in customer will be given a free skin counselling on the Valentine's Day.

The offer: A head-to-toe service, especially for the Valentine. It includes waxing, hair-cut, threading, bleach/cleansing.

Cost: Rs 999.

The offer: Waxing, hair spa, threading, hair-cut, manicure and pedicure.

Cost: Rs 1,999.

What not to gift

Valentine's Day is a day for thoughtful and sweet gifts. They don't have to be expensive, but they do have to send the right message. Here are some of the worst gifts to give and receive.

To him

Stuffed Animals: Most guys don't appreciate stuffed animals, no matter how cute and cuddly. They would much rather cuddle with you.

Flowers: While women love to receive flowers, this is not a good gift for a guy...unless, of course, he's a botanist!

Scented candles: Again, scented candles is a good gift for a girl. Not so much for a guy, no matter how in touch with his feminine side he is.

Gag gifts: Getting him padded underwear because you always make fun of his cute, but flat, behind. Getting him "refreshing head wipes" because he's bald. Yes, these do exist and no, they wouldn't make good gifts for V-Day or any one day, for that matter!

Grooming Tools: An expensive shaver may be ok...if he's been needing/wanting one. But no matter how hairy your man may be, getting him a personal electric back shaver or nose hair clipper is unacceptable as a V-Day gift.

Cheap liquor: He can buy himself cheap liquor. If you really want to please him, get an expensive bottle of his favorite liquor instead.

Matching PJs: No matter how much we like the idea of it, men just don't like to coordinate their outfits with us...even for bed!

Self-help books: Something entitled, "Real Men Don't Lay on the Couch All Day" (a real book!) is not the right gift...ever.

And the number 1 worst gift for her and him is...NOTHING.

Everyone deserves someone who appreciates them enough to make an effort - even a simple card can mean the world to your significant other.

To her

Card: Way too impersonal. This just shows that your man didn't put much thought into looking for a gift.

Cash: Even worse than a gift card! Couples should never give each other cash - come on!

A scale, vacuum cleaner, anything practical. Yes, you may need these items but V-Day isn't the time for practical gifts.

Fake flowers: Yes, flowers are super expensive on Valentine's Day. We get that. But, we'd rather get no flowers than fake flowers.

Clothing: (especially when it's the wrong size)

A man buying clothing for a woman is a bad idea 99% of the time. If it's too small, then we think we're fat. If it's too big, then we think you think we're fat. And if it's ugly, well, we don't want to wear it.

Sugar-free or reduced-calorie candy: Nothing says "I'd love you more if you weighed less" quite like an artificially sweetened treat.

Facebook gift: Cute on random days during the year, but a virtual gift for V-day? No thank you!

Gym membership: Even if we've been saying that we need to join a gym finally, this is not an acceptable gift. What are you trying to say, anyway? Nothing good can come out of this. — Agencies

The special something

Wear your heart on your sleeve this Valentine's Day and make an effort to woo your beloved with a self-styled gift.

Special scrapbook: If you are the kinds who have held on to first movie ticket together, the first card, the first picture; buy a folder, arrange them neatly, put your recent picture together on the title page and draw a red heart around it. Spend the day reminiscing over the moments together!

Melody magic: Get a CD, spend a night downloading your partner's favourite music, burn it on a CD, label it well, and each time s/he plays, you are there in her/his thoughts.

Personalised confetti: Decorate your home with confetti with a sweet message written on each of the petal. Take coloured paper, cut into triangles/rounds/ ovals, write a letter/word on each, paste or sew on a ribbon. Put it on the wall or a window.

Cutesy collage: Put all your favourite pictures together; glue them on an unusual shaped red chart paper. Cover it with cellophane sheet and you are sorted!

Bake a cake, make a mocktail, or try creating a candle. Help is just a click away, what's the Internet for? Just make that effort to make your present special.

The divine lives in Birju Maharaj
Nonika Singh

Not for nothing is Kathak doyen Pandit Birju Maharaj, Padma Vibushan, called a living legend. So if on stage "divine intervention" transforms him into a dancer par excellence whose mere flicker of eye has audiences going into raptures, off stage too the dancer holds his listeners' attention. In the city to receive the Koser Award, be it his poetic thoughts or his beautiful 'tihaais' , there is little that isn't awe-inspiring. The anecdotes that his fulfilling journey is brimming with are equally engaging. Down the memory lane, he shares how he grew up on real-life fables, like his grandfather receiving the gift of an elephant by a nawab. He regales us with stories of Bollywood beauty Madhuri Dixit's earnestness when he trained her for Devdas. Cinema and classical dance, he has no issues with, provided it is done tastefully. He reminds, "Heroines like Vaijantimala and Padmini, all were good dancers."

His decision to dance was expectedly a forgone conclusion. Kathak that runs in seven generations of his family came to him naturally. On taking it beyond the known frontiers, he says, " Since I was influenced by three people my uncles Shambu and Lachhu Maharaj and my father Achchan Maharaj, I was able to imbibe the best." Disciples who expect him to train them in a jiffy amuse him . With him dance has been a life long 'tapasya' that has now become an organic process. So he manages to even depict inanimate objects like a piece of iron, a newspaper and nebulous concepts like editing in his dance choreographies.

Did he create dance dramas for there are few takers for pure dance? He smiles, " Those who go to night clubs… why would they care for my dance?" But his admirers have only been growing ."Audience appreciation," he feels "is crucial." Each time their unadulterated praise comes his way, he simply places it at the altar of his ancestors to whom he owes it all. Nature is his other inspiration. "The beauty of Kathak," he exclaims "is that it is inspired from real life ." He feels that its not just artists who dance: the whole universe is dancing. "Laya itself is God. We are mere recipients catching the waves." Only blessed like him possess the ability to not only make a divine connect but also make their viewers experience it.

What’s your pick-up line?
Manpriya Khurana

Ever since someone discovered pick-up lines, the debate hasn't died. The good, the bad, the funny or the flat…do they ever work? More than the art of conversation, it's the art of opening a conversation where the trick lies. For the starters, a pick-up line is like an ice-breaker, said with the aim of engaging a stranger in a pleasant conversation or with an underlying motive of securing a date, a company for the evening, a one-night stand!

Strict no-no

Illustrations: Sandeep Joshi

If only they told us, what makes a pick up line corny or cheesy? Anything suggestive, over the top, supercilious or meant to be used in a flowery language doesn't work. Yet another pointer - if possible, don't drag moon, stars, sun, galaxy and other heavenly bodies. Opines Kanika Garg, mass communication student, Chitkara institute, "Anything that is clichéd or superficial just doesn't work. When a guy walks up to you faking - hi baby…what's up? It's just not done." Here are other examples.

n Baby you must be a broom because you swept me off my feet. (Are you telling her that she's a broom? Urrggg…she might as well just turn back and say, you are a mop because you look so faded and washed out!
n How does it feel to be the most beautiful girl in the room? (Anybody can sieve out the sincerity from the superficiality. She could jolly well turn back and question - how does it feel to be the only guy in the room, to be trying too hard???)
n Pinch me. (Why?) You're so fine, I must be dreaming!
n I'm not drunk; I'm just intoxicated by you. (Let's be honest…only a Gerard Butler or a George Clooney can pull it off, otherwise it's a put off.)
n Do you have a map? Because I keep getting lost in your eyes.
n For every single decent one-liner, there are hundred tacky ones. For instance, "Hey good looking, what's cooking?"
n I'd walk a million miles to see one of your smiles.
n You must be from Tennessee! Because you are the only TEN I see! (We bet she'd quip…Are you a taxi? Because you are the tackiest I see)
n Your eyes are blue, like the ocean. And baby, I'm lost at sea. (There's nothing wrong per se with this pick up line…just that it sounds so like some loser saying it!)
n Would you touch me so that I can tell my friends I've been touched by an angel!

The classic movie picks

n "We live in a cynical world. A cynical world. And we work in a business of tough competitors. I love you. You…complete me."

— Tom Cruise to Renee Zellweger in Jerry Maguire.

n "I know what I want because I have it in my hands right now. You."

— Gerard Butler to Hillary Swank in PS I love You.

n "Wanna play a game? You can be Little Red Riding Hood and I'll be the Big Bad Wolf."

— Taylor Lautner to Kristen Stewart in Twilight.

(When someone like Taylor Lautner is making a statement, it doesn't really matter whether he's whispering the price of vegetables in your ears or asking you out?)

n "Your husband told me you were the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen, but he didn't say anything about the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen." — George Clooney to Catherine Zeta-Jones in Intolerable Cruelty.

n See, I've got this little problem. I've got a stalker…I need a cover. I need for you to pretend we're having a scintillating conversation, and you are wildly entertained." — Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz in Vanilla Sky.

Try these

A still from the movie PS I love you
A still from the movie PS I love you

At your own risk…May be they'll work. Maybe. May be they won't. Like we said, at your own risk. All the best! Laughs Namrata Sahiwal, engineering student, Landran, "What a guy says doesn't matter as much as how he says it. You give the same pick up line to Tom Cruise and it would work." Does he need pick up lines, in the first place?

n See my friend over there? He/she wants to know if you think I'm cute?

(So lifted from 'FRIENDS'…there's no way she's killing you over it? Rest, nothing much is at stake.)

n You're someone I could really blog about… (If it works, she'll take your blog address, if nothing else, at least it sets her thinking, you can write, are intelligent and tech savvy)

n Wow! (yeah, you read it right, just say wow…simplicity works!)

n Hello, I'm doing a survey of what youngsters think are the cheesiest pick-up lines. So, do you pick 'do you come here often?', 'What's your sign?'…you got the point.

n Do you like pick-up lines? I mean is there ever even a need to use one? (She may or may not like it…chances are that a conversation will ensue.)

How about French, Italian or even Sanskrit?

n Ahan tvan preenyami. Kim tvama udvhasi?

Language: Sanskrit

What he really means: I love you. Will you marry me?

n Bonjour, I'; M. Right de m. Quelqu'un a dit que vous me recherchiez

Language: French

What he really means: Hi, I'm Mr Right. Someone said you were looking for me.

n Che bel vestito andrebbe molto bene sui pavimento della mia camera da letto

Language: Italian

What he really means: That's a nice dress. It would look great on my bedroom floor

n Ar det varmt har eller ar det bara du?

Language: Swedish

What he really means: Is it hot in here or is it just you?

Matka chowk
Sreedhara Bhasin

There is something very comforting about the smell of freshly baked bread. The wafting aroma of rising dough and butter can pretty much cure blues, effects of bad weather as well as failing grades. As graduate students, we spent a lot of wee hours in the bakeries and cafes, red-eyed from cramming, exhausted from the crushing pressure, bolstering our fighting sprits with steaming cups of coffee and velvety croissants.

We didn't have the cafes in India then. Now, we are turning out to be a hotbed of brand name cafes. Coffee is a new brand now and has unleashed a new world of enterprise, social networking and cross-currents of youth forums.

I have always been an ardent fan of the Tata Group, their astounding vision and the vigour with which they go and conquer the retail world. The news that Starbucks is now joining hands with them in opening cafes, which will use indigenous coffee grown in the Indian plantations owned by Tata Coffees is a brilliant start to a long race that is here to stay.

Coffee shops are the most happening things in every city now. Chandigarh has it share of growing numbers and each is usually crammed with young folks, laughter and bright lights. Somehow, the coffee shops are not just about drinking coffee. You go there to hang out with friends, you go there when you have had your heart broken, you go there to devise elaborate plans to draw attention of a certain someone who has been ignoring you as well as to discuss complex socio-economic paradigms for a possible Ph.D thesis.

Chandigarh coffee shops are a testimony to the vibrant youth force that is taking over the city. They are bold and daring and know their minds as well as the buttons on their cell phones. The groups huddled over the coffee cup in the Café Coffee Day are the young Indians who are world-class consumers and the multinationals are taking note.

The first time I saw the Café Coffee Day in Dharampur (across Giani da dhaba), I wondered about a coffee shop perched on a slope overlooking garbage and filthy pigs. It didn't appeal to me as a place for downing a good cup of coffee. But then, its not just about drinking coffee anymore, it's about the new attitude that has seized India. The mantra calls for enjoying life and spending money.

We have embraced coffee and opened doors to new enterprises. The coffee shops are packed with youth, confident of every choice they make in life. They jostle in crowded spaces, go the extra length for that fraction of a percentage of CAT grade and live lives mostly full of dreams, desires and ambitions fuelled by a melting world. They are in an enviable juncture.

Who knew coffee could do so much?

Exhibition with a difference

The Phantom by Daphy Brar
The Phantom by Daphy Brar

A merry setting, a bistro bubbling with life and some 10 bright frames dotted the walls. A first-of-its-kind, this is a painting exhibition put up by city artist Daphy Brar at Bistro Flamme Bois-7.

An initiative by Karan Deep Singh Suri, proprietor, Bistro Flamme Bois, it aims to sensitise people, "I wanted to keep the interiors of the bistro dynamic. What's better than having works of the city artistes on display?" says Karan.

"It's kind of difficult to get audiences to the galleries. By being in a bistro that problem is sorted out," adds Daphy.

These frames, some watercolour and others acrylic on canvas, chart the life of Daphy and her sister Bonnie who stand as metaphors for the modern woman. Women in her work are traditional and sensual at the same time. Phirangi Pani has two women sitting under the tree with wings. "A woman can achieve whatever she wants to is what I want to convey with this one," say Daphy.

Amidst Jugnus has a woman with fireflies all around her. It probably conveys how just like love, jugnus are hard to spot now.

A scene of garden, another of laundry, siblings together and a forest scene, each of the painting has been picked up from his personal life. "Writers write about their experiences, I paint," says Daphy, assistant professor in Department of Fashion Technology, Panjab University.

Inheriting creativity from her mother, Daphy favourite are the flowers. "They are beautiful, smell sweet and are an expression of joy for me," says the painter who can happily pick up the brush anywhere, anytime.

Opens on Sunday, on for about a month.

Small wonder
Jigyasa Kapoor Chimra

Madhav Banati
Madhav Banati

Madhav Banati is just ten-years-old, but our city boy has already bagged an International Children's film. Hey Bhagwan, directed by Mohan Azad, the film is about four kids in which Janu (played by Madhav) is the central character.

A two hour movie, the film would be featured Internationally.

Student of Ryan International, Madhav loves acting and says, "I have participated in various dance competitions in the city but had never acted. This film gave me the opportunity to act and I did it with great enthusiasm."

On how did he bag the role his mother Anju says, "Auditions were held across India but Madhav was chosen in auditions at Mohali."

With a penchant for acting Anju says, "Madhav has no formal training in acting but he has a formal training in dance. And has performed at various city events."

Ask the mother would she be interested if Bollywood offers come Madhav's way and she says, "If he bags good roles then why not."

Design on Benaras!

Photos: Pradeep Tewari

The old bazaars, the ghats, the sarees, the lassiwaala, the paanwala, the narrow lanes…there are several things peculiar to Benaras. The fact that it's one of the oldest cities in the world only adds to the joys of capturing. Students of Chandigarh College of Architecture came back with a million memories, countless pictures. Benaras: Journey through the Ghats, depicts the various moods of Benaras,

"The students have a subject architectural photography in which they are supposed to capture monuments of old architecture and new architecture. This time, we took them to Benaras, one of the oldest cities in the world," shares Bheem Malhotra, faculty.

He adds, "Last year, they went to Patiala, they've been to Paragpur, so this year Benaras was a unanimous choice. To click the various moods of the city, students would even get up at four in the morning."

There are the scenic ghats, the culture and the buildings. Shares Purnesh Dev Nikhanj, final-year student, "We saw only modern buildings in Benaras. It was such a good learning experience to see and click the city. The exhibition is an attempt by us to depict the culture and heritage of the place through architectural photography." One of the student shares, "Some of the lanes in Benaras are so narrow, that if an animal comes from the other side, you have to get into the houses, to let it cross." — TNS

On till February 18 at Chandigarh College of Architecture

The magic of 47 artists
Ashima Sehajpal

There's just one expression of anger — on the face that's painted by Harsh Vardhan Sharma. No other expression could have reflected the true emotions that people in Kashmir go through daily. "Life is not easy for people who live in Kashmir. On canvas, I wanted to mirror how people of Kashmir feel about not living a normal life," says Harsh Vardhan, an artist whose works are on display as a part of 'Untitled', a group exhibition of paintings, photographs, printmaking and sculptures at the Galleries of Punjab Arts Council, Rose Garden.

Face is also the subject of Anand Shinde, whose trademark works on Maharashtrian people are also on display. In bright colours, the paintings aim at a positive impact on art lovers. Instead our city's very own Mahesh Prajapati has used pastel colours. He has drawn inspiration from the coins of the Harappa Civilisation and has thus titled his work, Golden Time. His other work is in black and white and is based on time zone. "I have tried to depict the paradox between the personal and professional life of a soldier," says Mahesh.

Ram Pratap Verma's semi-figurative work explains the title, Kab Kyun Kaise. "The moral of the work is that we as a society never give a second to people who fail the test of life. Pramod Arya's work on nature reflects its beauty with the use of bright colours. "I have tried to capture various moods of nature by using different colours." The contrast, although unintentionally, is set by the photographs clicked by JP Singh. He has captured the urban architecture of Sector 22.

Viney Wadhera's work is similar to a story-telling session. Hallucination, the title of his first painting, is a satire on the pandits of Haridwar. The highlight of the work is a gold chain with a pendent of Om, which the pandit is wearing. He is shown blowing bubbles, indicating how pandits in the name of god are befooling people. In his other work, he has painted a self-portrait with his brother. The colour scheme is orange, suggestive of the good times he has spent with his brother.

On till February 19

Dogs, the show-stealers

Different breeds of dogs wagging their tails and obeying their masters order was the scene at the Leisure Valley, Sector 10 where Chandigarh Kennel Club has organised 50th all breed championship dog show.

Participating breeds

"The major participating breeds are Labrador, Shihtzu, Siberian husky and Rottweiler. Though there is an age limit of dogs to participate, the dogs will be performing various tasks at the show," says H.S Aulakh, secretary of the kennel club. The entry to the show is not only open to tricity residents but also has dog participants from Agra, Gwalior and Bangalore.

Audience response

"Dog shows are an amazing platform to showcase the ability of the dog," says Kunal Sharma, a participant.

Enthusiastic about the show Rita Kalia, a housewife says, "The city offers a variety of exhibitions and trade fairs. Amidst this a dog show is a welcome change. But for others, watching the dogs perform the tricks was the reason of the visit. "I have come all the way from Mohali just to watch these amazing dogs perform. Moreover, I never miss a dog show," says Sheena Khullar, a student.

Dog care

"People keep dogs in their homes, but they don't know how to take care. The most important thing every dog owner must remember is to make sure they eat healthy. Apart from the diet, hygiene is important. Last, make sure to visit a vet every month," says Aulakh. — Deepali Sagar

The expensive V-Day gifts
Deepali Sagar

Everyone is busy preparing his or her wish list for this year's Valentine's Day. And if you think that lovers still want flowers, teddy bears and chocolates, you are mistaken. Now, the list includes latest gadgets, flashy cars, designer accessories or maybe a foreign trip!

Says Puneet Sinha, a project engineer; "My girlfriend has given me some sleepless nights with her demands. She wants an apple I-phone this Valentine, a drive uphill and candlelight dinner."

Adds Sikha Jain, a banker, "My husband is crazy about designer watches. I am going to gift him a Rolex watch, which has cost me a fortune."

Nowadays, even love comes at a price! "I have recently got married. My wife wants to celebrate our first Valentine (as a couple) in Mauritius," says Karan Bhardwaj, manager in an MNC. And if you think that expensive Valentine is only for the earning category, think again. Says Aniket Basra, MBA student, "My girlfriend has asked for a Da Milano bag that she has been eyeing for a couple of months."

However, for a few, Valentine isn't only about gifts. It is all about celebrating the feeling of being in love. "I am going to spend the entire day with my boyfriend. We have plans for a movie and a cozy dinner. We will share the expenses," says Avantika Singh, a BPO employee.

Falling in love is definitely getting expensive these days!

Art for the nails
Jasmine Singh

Blame it on insufficient time, this is the best way to slip out of anything you haven't been able to do so far. Not anymore for Tress Lounge, Chandigarh organised nail art workshop with experts from Kiana Nail Academy, Delhi. They will provide handy and fashionable ways to decorate your nails without having to spend much time in the salon.

Kiana Nail Academy powered by Sunil Bajaj and headed by Pooja Garg, an expert on nail throw in latest trends for nail art. Munish Bajaj, executive director, Tress Lounge shares that nail art is growing as part of fashion industry in a big way. “In fact, it is no longer a cumbersome process. Youngsters, working women just about everyone can flaunt beautiful decorated nails," he says.

Tip ‘n’ toes

n Bridal nail art is a trendy way of decorating nails with swaroski crystals. Embellishing nails with jewellery like gold, silver and zirconium is also a new trend. This costs Rs 5,000-20,000.

n Women in the age group of 30-40, go for radiant colours. A mix of 2-7 colours can be put on one nail.

n Water designing, which is made by a mix and match of colours as per a particular dress is also in.

n Working women can go for nail extensions in subtle colours.

Do’s and dont's

n A nail art needs to be refilled in 15 days span.
n If your nails are embellished take care as you wash clothes and utensils.
n Open the car door carefully. Avoid picking coins.
n Apply cuticle oil daily for healthy and nourished hair.
n If you want the polish to last long than put little vinegar on your nails before nail polish.
n Mix white iodine and castor oil in equal amounts and massage cuticles with this. It makes cuticles smooth.
n If you want to dry your polish faster dip your fingers in cold water.
n The quick and inexpensive way to fix your dry, brittle nails is to apply petroleum jelly. Treating your nails and cuticles with petroleum jelly makes a lot of difference. Carry a small tube of petroleum jelly with you for more convenience

Catch me if you can

Aptly titled 'Treasure Hunt', 92.7 BIG FM's Valentine's Day property offers listeners romantic, exotic yet cost effective options to make the most of the day. BIG FM is celebrating this Valentine's Day with the young ones of the city. The RJs have planned a Treasure Hunt for the youth of the city. There is a Treasure Hunt, for which couples are registering themselves through SMS. On Valentine's Day, BIG FM will hide the girls (Treasure) at a secret place in the city, and their partners have to find them with the help of some clues given on-air. One who'll find it first would be City's BIG Valentine, which would be announced in the Valentine's Day Party in the night with all the Big FM Jocks. All the participants would be given free couple passes to have a fun time in Valentines Day Party with the Big FM Jock Sophie, Anubhav, Pankaj and Anjali, wherein the winners would be felicitated.

The activity on Valentine's Day: Girls (treasure) are hidden at a place. The boys would start hunting for their love from Big FM Office. They'll be given clues On-Air which would be a kind of riddle; they have to decode it to reach to their next location to collect a small token. Likewise, there will be 6-8 Clues for various locations. The one who'll reach the final location, find his love and give all the tokens first would be the winner and shall get lots of prizes. At every location there will be a jock to connect it to On-Air. Adds Sukhdeep Sohal, cluster head, BIG FM, "BIG FM is delighted to provide this platform for youngsters of the city. We have always tried to touch the lives of our listeners through various initiatives. The Valentine's Day is another initiative designed around our tagline 'Suno Sunao Life Banao'." — TNS

Classical touch
SD Sharma

Nirali Kartik
Nirali Kartik

Although I am inclined towards pure classical music, I also like other genres. The text of some songs like Munni Badnam Huyi may not be to my liking, but the swaras and melody is, of course, there. I too have done playback for many award-winning documentaries and short films, but classical music remains my first love," says Mumbai-based vocalist Nirali Kartik, in the city on the invitation of Kathak guru Shobha Koser for a performance at Pracheen Kala Kendra.

Nirali, from the Mewati Gharana, eulogises her guru Vikas Parikh and param guru Pandit Jasraj as the guiding light in her life. Nirali has mastered various genres of music, especially bhajans, kirtans, ghazals and Haveli Sangeet to perfection. "My husband Kartik Shaw, a composer in Bollywood, is now my mentor and inspiration."

On the Gharana tradition, Nirali opines "Any school of music imparts a distinct discipline to your gayaki style. But nowadays artistes imbibe the best from different gharanas."

‘I live beyond boundaries’
Deepali Sagar

Madan Gopal
Madan Gopal

I have no formal training in music, so I consider myself quite ignorant in this field," says Madan Gopal Singh, a renowned Sufi singer. "The music I know is what I have heard, internalised and thought on," he adds. Madan Gopal Singh is in the city for a performance organised by SPIC-MACAY at the Punjab Engineering College auditorium, Sector 12.

Culture of connectivity

Madan Gopal Singh feels that the exchange in the field of music is occurring since the time of Nalanda and Taxila universities. "We are born into a culture of connectivity. From the very beginning, people are coming from outside and influencing our culture. Moreover, I consider myself a person without boundaries," he says. However, he opines that music does not have a monolithic definition. "I am not a singer of sufi verses. I have a problem with religion that claim that they are better than others. I am interested in songs, which can take me into the domain of 'darshan' even for a split of second," he says.

Being an atheist

Even though Madan Gopal Singh is known as a sufi singer, he still claims to be an atheist. "Atheist can be very spiritual. Rather than religion, it's all about connectivity. More than being a religious person, I am interested in building a bridge with musicians of various castes and religions as they inspire you to sing." Then to which, category does he belong? To this he says, "I don't know who am I. It is like peeling an onion. All you are left is with the skin. Moreover, I love the freedom of being able to go wherever I want without thinking of my religious contour."

Indian music today

"Filmi music sounds the same today. Human voices have become more like a sound effect. Even though we have advanced technology around us, still we don't know how to use it optimally. There is hardly anything to pick and choose among the latest music," he says.

Destination momo

Momos. A fast food already, it has become a hit with the people. We get for you five best places to have them.

Ria Fast Food, Sector 44 D

Veg momo@ Rs.20

Non Veg momo@ Rs.30

The momos here are worth the price. They are a decent deal if one does not want to explore too far outside the sector. We give it: 3/5

King Chinese bowl, Sector 15

Veg momo@ Rs. 40

Non veg momo@ Rs. 50

(Served with clear soup)

Not bad at all. The chicken keema inside the momos reminded me of cocktail sausages from Kolkata. Vegetarian momo was yummy. Ajinomoto certainly helps a lot to add to the taste.

We give it: 3.5/5

Snacks Bar, Sector 8 B

Veg momo@ Rs.20

Non veg momo@ Rs. 40

The momos here tasted pretty Indian. It is best suited for the tongues that enjoy conventional tastes. Nothing Tibetan about it. By the way this place also serves Pudina chutney with their momos.

We give it: 3/5

Jagat's momo—Sector 22 D

Veg momo@ Rs.20

Non veg momo@ Rs. 30

A humble bicycle and two brothers from Nepal; provided more than what we expected. Their momos were nice and had a homely touch.

We give it: 2.5/5 — Esha Sahor Lepcha

Tarot TALK
P Khurrana

ARIES: Ace of Pentacles reveals the seed of prosperity and material gain perhaps as yet unseen. Tuesday is a good day to clinch deals related to real estate. You may be at the threshold of a new relationship, and may see this as a long-term prospect. So take it easy and present your best. Tip of the week: New offers must be put on hold as their outcome is uncertain. Lucky colour: Silver Grey

TAURUS: You make an impact and shine like The Star. There is a strong prospect that Friday will blossom into an extraordinary evening. You will bask in the love and affection of your beloved and your health will be perfect. Tip: Consolidate your gains instead of throwing security to the winds. Lucky colour: Red

GEMINI: Ace of Swords pulls you in opposite direction when making a decision. The week is perfect for an outing or a picnic. You would like to contact your old friend or someone close to your heart and may spend some time together. You may also want to make a short pleasure trip to somewhere. Tip: Minor official pin pricks are better ignored. Lucky colour: Ebony

CANCER: The Princes of Cups infuses you a youthful disposition. You may look for emotional support from your spouse, friends and family. The day is good to discuss intense issues concerning your life with those who are close to you. Tip: Be positive; you can make things happen out of the most unlikely circumstances. Lucky colour: Yellow

LEO: You draw Four of Swords. Multitasking will be the feature of the day. You will mix business with pleasure besides spending quality time with your family. You will try to improve the relationship with you heart today. Everyone, including your parents will appreciate your efforts. Tip: Spending quiet time alone will help you relax. Lucky colour: Ebony

VIRGO: Your card The Hierophant takes you through variety of experiences. You are likely to spend lavishly on luxuries. Relationship with parents will improve. Businessmen will sign new contracts and agreements. Tip: Look at the overall cost of things and try to balance your budget. Lucky colour: Brown

LIBRA: The Empress takes you towards the fast and protective lane. Professional rapport with your superiors as well as your subordinates will be very smooth. Money matters may weigh heavily on your mind. You may pick up an argument over budget with your spouse. Tip: You will not get away with wrongful doings, so don't even try. Lucky colour: Peach.

SCORPIO: Nine Cups full of light lotus blossoms. There may be a lot of things on your agenda on Tuesday. You need for love, companionship, friendship and sharing will be very strong now and you will feel like enjoying the beautiful side of life. Tip: Don't make impulsive decisions in personal relationship. Lucky colour: Pink

SAGITTARIUS: Tremendous energy you draw from The Hermit. You will be flooded with others where your skills can be utilized to the optimism. Advance preparation would save you from mental stress. An Arian will be moody but supportive. Tip: There are times in a relationship when it is wiser to be silent. Lucky colour: Golden yellow.

CAPRICORN: The Card The Moon brings a quickening, many changes and insights. Serious planning with respect to your finances may be necessary. Do not spend on things that you do not need. Children will do remarkably well in sports and studies. Tip: Spend time meeting experienced people. Lucky colour:
Sky Blue

AQUARIUS: The Temperance inspires you to climb new heights. Your love will be your priority, and you will pamper your sweetheart to the hilt. Check your e-mails and reply the queries on time. A good news on the cards. Tip: Don't waste an opportunity by not exploiting a contact even if it is from your past. Lucky colour: White.

PISCES: The Knight of Discs supports you through a busy and turning week with healing and earthy energy. You will have the tenacity to bring in a new and successful business strategy. Remember; appearances are deceptive; so do not misjudge a person who gives you a lucrative business offer. Tip: Take time before reacting. Lucky colour: Bottle Green.

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