High five
The spurt in the number of five star hotels opening up in the region speaks volumes about the growing tastes and sensibilities of people, but do they match up to their counterparts in other metros? We find out…
Jasmine Singh

The lobby area of JW Marriott
The lobby area of JW Marriott

Coming from George Bernard Shaw, you can at least give it a thought. The Irish playwright had a good thing to say about hotels – ‘the great advantage of a hotel is that it is a refuge from home life’. Exactly, he has driven the point home!

What is the whole point of dressing up and going to a hotel, say a five-star, when you end up eating dal makhani and mixed vegetable? Without talking about personal choices, we go back to George Bernard Shaw’s point - a refuge! And if you are looking at refuge, it better be classy, chic and tasteful. Look around, Chandigarh sure offers a refuge in the form of five-star properties, but the question that arises is whether they offer the best refuge! Or to make it simpler…are the five-star hotels in the city a match to the ones in other metros?


When Taj Chandigarh opened, people couldn’t believe that the so-called mini metro was all geared up for a five star experience. Sandeep Makroo, head of sales and marketing, credits Taj for setting the standard for that experience. “Taj actually upgraded the attitude of people in Chandigarh for a five-star hotel experience and we have been market leaders in the city since 2005.” Chandigarh is an affluent city and the people who travel abroad are also no less, so it is natural to draw comparisons between the five-star hotels in other metros and even countries! “Chandigarh crowd is all-geared for a five-star experience and there is place as well as scope for more five-star hotels in the tricity,” he adds.

Chandigarh has emerged as a commercial hub; fancy, classy eating joints; hotels and restaurants are now an integral part of the city. So, when JW Marriott opened its services in Chandigarh’s Sector-35, people were relieved that they wouldn’t have to take their guests all the way to Delhi or opt for limited options. Sunny Ghaiee, JW Marriott, director of sales and marketing, has a neutral take on the take. “With limited space in the city, hotel groups are either buying or have bought land to set up new hotels in its industrial area. The hotel industry, which came here earlier, saw a lot of potential in and around the city. There is no denying the fact that more players coming into the market will help distinguish the boys from the men. Competition helps improve the game and pushes one to innovate, so that one is always on top,” he says.

The difference
The lush green lawn of Hotel Mountview
The lush green lawn of Hotel Mountview 

If you have travelled enough and been to five star hotels for parties, meals or just for a cup of coffee, you know it’s different from the rest given its rich look, ambience and a sophisticated feel. Do five star hotels in Chandigarh ooze with same richness? Monica from Monica’s Pudding and Pies often visits five stars when she is out with her family. “There is a kind of feel which is attached to a five star hotel, which somehow is missing with the ones in the city,” shares Monica, who attended the opening special guests’ party for soon-to-be-opened The Lalit. “They served amazing food and I am sure people would love to eat here if it is going to be this good.”

Aarti Sehgal, a fashion designer and a full time mother to two kids, has travelled well to spot the difference. She is candid about it. “A five star hotel in any country would have a theme; they cater to kids or the business class, making your stay memorable one. Here, in the city it is more like structures built up,” says the lady who feels it is the class, the feel that is amiss here. “As we pay for a five star experience they are very particular about nothing going wrong and immediately offering a remedy in return if it does, which is not seen here.”

Now & then

With slight things here and there that might be amiss, five star hotels are particular about their standards across the country. In Chandigarh, for instance, they also try and do their bit of establishing and maintaining their clientele. Adds Sunny Ghaiee, “Chandigarh has always demanded something unique, it is one of those gateway cities where demand for luxury products is appreciated and gets absorbed easily. Thus, JW Marriott, Chandigarh, addresses the accomplished travellers of this city’. The hotel offers unique dining options and luxurious amenities, so it is the most preferred and favoured luxury destination for our guests as well as leisure travellers.”

In terms of clientele, it constantly focuses on evolving its marketing strategies to offer each distinct brand different programmes and strategies for a better appeal. For example, Marriott has recently launched a programme called “Experiences by Marriott” offering different packages for business clients, families, couples and kids. Ditto for Hotel Mountview, Sector-10, which also keeps something new to fulfill the five star standards? AK Malhotra, general manager, Tourism, pulls out details about the oldest five star in the city. “It is an oldest star category hotel earlier managed by the Oberoi group, so the clean and green setting in which it is structured is unparalleled.” With a good number of foreigners making a stop-over at Mountview to enjoy their services, AK Malhotra likes to keep up with the standards. “We keep upgrading ourselves in terms of food, services and ambience.”

Something amiss?

Gagandeep Singh, general manager, Park Plaza, is confident and positive about the hospitality industry here. “The difference can be because of its location. For instance, the room sizes might not be the same given the space and also the local staff is not that polished like the one in metros.” 

Haute wheels
Tanya Malhotra

Kunal Madaan

Driving into the wilderness with soothing music around is a divine feeling! Similarly, for city youngsters, cruising on the 'geri route' with blaring music and screeching sound (which makes a few pretty heads turn) is what makes one feel like a Rockstar. So what's the connecting thread in these two situations-of course, the car!

Spending more on modifications than the cost of the car itself is the hot trend. If you are fanatic about car modifications, here are a few things to kill for!

Deck it up

"Interior modifications starting from seat upholstery and covers, steering wheel covers, mats, head rest monitors, LCDs, security systems, to little things which matters like perfumes, wax, polishes, car shampoo; these are the must buy for your car, " says Kunal Madaan, owner of Auto Care Centre, Sector-28, Chandigarh. "Youngsters pour in from Tricity as well as the adjoining states like Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Punjab for car modification," he adds.

Music mania

Music helps you de-stressing and pumps you up! Uninterrupted and clear music is what one looks for while driving. "For the best sound, you can start with a 5.1 surround sound system, woofers, system amplifier and twitter along with digital signal processor(DSP) by companies like Pioneer, Blaupunkt Sony and JBL," says Kunal.

Eye candy

You must have noticed the day running round light of the BMWs, Mercedes or many SUVs or the extremely bright

headlights pooled with underbody neon lights, led lamps and xenon HID system? "I love these headlights, I just stop anywhere I see those cars with crazy music and dazzling headlights," says Prabhsimran Kaur, student, DAV College-10.

Intense affair

If that wasn't enough, the passionate car lovers also go for the extreme modification with carbon fiber tape and graphics, sun roof, performance ports, alloy wheel covers and much more. If you are into racing, then remember, a racing car is incomplete without a power exhaust, turbo inter cooler system and air filters.

Muscle power

Further, who can resist the charm of a monster car? "Rather than spending lakhs on a new car, which everybody does, I bought an old Contessa for Rs 40,000. Clearly, it was a mess! I spent close to Rs 2 lakh to modify it. Me and my friends worked hard, got it dented and painted, added alloys, stereo system, headlights and graphics. It was magical!" Says Sahil Kanwar, student, Panjab University.

True love

So why people go to such lengths to get their car all perked up? Let us find out. "I love music and I love my car. It reflects my personality. Cruising on 'geri route' is my routine. And yes, certainly, girls love it too!" says Manmeet Singh, an ardent music enthusiast.

New in town

Light, sound and actions have caught up with the city, what's new in the car world? Well, we have kept the best for the last. Interestingly, the latest GPS system introduced by Sky Tracker is a wonderful device with the perspective of instructing and providing safety. Now, you can drift away, go off road and conveniently find your way back.

Together we can
Caravan of Love and Peace brings forth the sentiment often expresses by common people across both the sides of the border but lost in political din

Proud moment: SP Singh and Indubala Singh and with the trophy >>

A new dawn of love, friendship and peace is what documentary Caravan of Love and Peace heralds. A joint venture by Indubala Singh and SP Singh, this forty minutes documentary focuses on Preetnagar, near Amritsar, once the cultural hub of northern India. Saanjh Peace Festival held here brings artistes not only from our country but also from across the border.

Wagah Border ironically in this film is not the line separating the two countries that were one before partition, but a point of meeting for the like minded who take pride in our joint cultural heritage and want to celebrate and take that ahead.

This documentary features activists, artistes and common people from both sides of the border with one sentiment, ‘we are one’. It has the candle light vigil that happens on the intervening midnight of August 14 and 15 at Wagah. Initiated by Kuldip Nayar with some 10-12 people, this is a movement today. Kuldip Nayar, mentions in the documentary, “It’s only people who can bring the positive change.”

Indubala Singh, an English teacher who has close to ten documentaries under her belt, just like her husband lived the partition through the stories from parents and grandparents. “Thankfully, our elders did not sow the seeds of hatred,” says Indu. “It was a disaster but where have the wars ever led,” she questions.

Neelam Man Singh, theatre activist, shares her take when she crossed Wagah, “It was not an ordinary walk, it was like a comet that flashed through my eyes, times of our forefathers and more.”

Aitzaz Ahsan, lawyer, from Pakistan says emphatically, ‘We are not going to fight,” his wife Bushra, a female activist adds, “We should have not only trade but also have education and cultural exchange.”

Many faces, same voice, it’s the elderly Muslim from Gujarat who takes the sentiment to crescendo with Hum Laye Hain Kashti Toofan Se Nikalke. The man breaks down, so have the audience on each of the screenings. “He is the hero of my film,” insists Indu while holding the trophy for the Best Documentary Film in International segment given by International Short Film Festival held in Aligarh Muslin University.

On she is with her next film addressing youth, “All my films are targeted at youth, they are the hope,” she says, as her husband, SP Singh, retired IAS officer and artiste nods, all support for her!

[email protected] 

Fab fabrics

City women love shopping and clothes top their priority list. Or, so it seems after a visit to the exhibition, Fab of India at Kisan Bhawan-35. "We received a tremendous response during our last exhibition, but couldn't extend it as the venue was booked. So, we are here again, with a lot more artisans and a fresh collection," says Rajesh, a craftsman and president Bunkar Avom Dastkar Vikas Samiti, Jaipur, which has organised the exhibition.

Stitched suits starts from Rs 600, kurtis Rs 200, casual and semi formal, men's cotton kurtas that start from a range of Rs 500 have a good variety to choose from. To welcome the summer, there are pretty dresses too.— TNS

Mix & match

Akash Dugar

Some like to go in for formals, others for casuals but all feel a certain ‘oomph’ when there is a compliment thrown in. Some do not want to take risks and stick to brands but there are the adventurous ones who would like to try out different ‘looks’. A student of knitwear design at Sportking Institute, Akash Dugar is one for experimentation.

Your sense of style?

Classy accessories and coordinating them with apparel .  

The latest addition to your treasure of clothing or accessories…

A sleeveless summer jacket in royal blue colour.

Brand crazy or street pick-up?

A mix and match would do.

Who would be your style icon?

Remo D’Souza any day!

Who do you think is the worst-dressed celebrity?

Chunky Pandey for sure!

Which look would your prefer – sporty, chic or glamorous?

Sporty all the way!

One fashion trend that goes beyond your comprehension…

Bling and shiny clothes do not gel well with me.

Given a choice which designer would you like to be dressed by?

Akki Narula is a sure bet.

What gives you a high on the confidence level?

When my clothes look good on me especially the shirt, I feel I am ready to take on ‘what ever’!

(As told to Poonam Bindra) 

star track
Gifting ideas from B-town 

Bollywood celebrities are more than happy to shower gifts on their co-stars, directors and crew members. Here is what they have been giving away lately

The gadget girl

Technology updates:Kareena Kapoor Khan

Kareena Kapoor Khan: She endorses a laptop brand. As a result, she gets many pieces which she gives away to her friends and family members or staff. She also likes gifting iPads and iPhones to her staff members, especially her hairdresser Pompy who recently received such a gift from her.

Large-hearted: Salman Khan 

Token of appreciation

Salman Khan: Kareena Kapoor Khan did not take money from him for Fevicol Se, so he gifted her a BMW. He also gifted Riteish Deshmukh and Genelia D'souza, a vacation as he could not attend their wedding. He has even gifted Raj Babber, a Mercedes for Bodyguard. He was rude to Ranbir, so he gifted him a Rolex watch. On the show Dus Ka Dum, he gave him a painting of his legendary grandfather Raj Kapoor.


With love: Katrina Kaif 

Spreading the festive cheer

Katrina Kaif: During the shoot of Mere Brother Ki Dulhan, Katrina gave gifts to 150 staff and crew members right from the light men to the senior staff. Her personal staff members got perfumes and the crew members got gift vouchers or cash bonuses. This was during Diwali, where she just met everyone and gave away gifts. How sweet!

kind note: Shah Rukh Khan 

Something for everyone

Shah Rukh Khan: He gifted Farah Khan, a Mercedes after the success of Main Hoon Na. Recently, he gifted Chennai Express director Rohit Shetty, a super bike worth over Rs 15 lakhs. He has been giving away high-end gifts including cars, bikes, or gizmos as tokens of gratitude to Priyanka Chopra, Sanjay Dutt, Arjun Rampal for their work. Very magnanimous, indeed.


On a bike ride

John Abraham: He is very generous with his staff members and gives them gifts from time-to-time. He recently gifted Sanjay Gupta, a fancy Yamaha bike for the success of Shootout at Wadala.

Drew Barrymore likes to role play

Actress Drew Barrymore and her husband Will Kopelman reportedly like to role play, with her dressing up as a chambermaid. The couple will often have date nights at various hotels in LA where they pretend to be strangers, who meet at the bar, reported a publication.

"They'll get a sitter for their daughter, Olive, and take turns arranging a monthly overnight stay. They'll meet at the bar and pretend to be business travellers. Once Drew dressed up as a chambermaid and Will was a hotel guest," a source said.

Barrymore has previously spoken about her and Kopelman's night outs without their daughter, saying it is important for their relationship that they have time alone.

"You just have to do it, you just have to squeeze in the occasional date night. For our last date night, he took me downtown for ramen noodles. Of course, I woke up so swollen the next day, from all of the salt, that I looked like a puffer fish but it was worth it," she had said. — PTI

Best left alone

	Three's a crowd: Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone.
Three's a crowd: Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone.

They broke-up but they insist on being close friends and they did not allow their personal affair to come in between their work commitments. Yes, you got it right; we are taking about Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone. Despite their break-up, Ranbir and Deepika worked together for Ayan Mukherjee's Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. The duo was supposed to travel to London to promote their movie but at the last minute, Deepika cancelled her trip and rumour has it that this is because of Katrina Kaif. It was heard that the dusky beauty was to promote YJHD in London with her co-star Ranbir Kapoor but when she came to know that Katrina Kaif, Ranbir's ladylove, is in London, she cancelled her trip to avoid a face-off.

But another source informs that Katrina is not the only reason for her not promoting the movie. She needs to complete the shooting of Rohit Shetty's Chennai Express, starring Shahrukh Khan, which is slated for Eid release. Deepika's Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani will release on 31 May

In pursuit of happiness

Quality time: Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart
Quality time: Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart

Twilight star couple, Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, are reportedly planning a vacation in Cannes. The actors have booked a 5,000 pounds a-night suite at the Hotel Du Cap but once they are done there, they will be off on a camping tour of the local vineyards, reported a publication online.

"Robert is going to be in Cannes on promotional duties and is taking Kristen along. They have their eye on doing a tour of the local museums, like the Picasso one in Antibes, and Renoir's house," a source said. "But they are also going to go down to Provence and visit the vineyards there. You can camp in the grounds of these massive chateaus and they have decided that they need some 'normal living'," it added. — PTI

Million dollar home

Net worth: Reese Witherspoon

Actress Reese Witherspoon has purchased a third home in the Brentwood Circle area of Los Angeles for USD 3 million. The blonde beauty has now spent USD 11 million on properties on the same stretch of road after splashing out on the ranch-style home, according to publication online. The listing agent described her new home as a "warm and inviting enchanted cottage." Witherspoon bought her first property in the area in 2003 while still married to Ryan Phillippe and picked up a second home in the neighbourhood in 2009, following their divorce in 2007. The 37-year-old, who has a 13-year-old daughter Ava and nine-year-old son Deacon with her ex-husband, as well as an eight-month-old son Tennessee with Jim Toth, recently slashed the price of her luxurious house in Ojai, California. She dropped the asking price for the seven-acre ranch for the second time to USD 7.25 million after originally putting it at USD 10 million. — PTI

Anushka's best kept style secrets

Comfort zone: Anushka Sharma

Anushka Sharma is 24. She is a star and has a great body that can carry off almost any garment. She is thin yet shapely. She works out regularly so she is fit, strong, and toned. She talks about her take on style and fashion.

Shoe fetish

I love shoes. I buy them from everywhere! My mother knows the exact count and yells at me because some of them are untouched and have got fungus! In my new house, I have a walk-in closet so everything is arranged properly and is in good condition. I am not into designer clothes as such.

I feel like a princess or a lucky girl to be going to promos everyday because I get an expensive designer outfit and then I return it after wearing it.

Style statement

I am not a fashion diva but I am stylish. I wear clothes for comfort. I know my body type very well so I know what suits me and what does not. I like white, grey, navy blue, and beige colours. I wear a lot of high-street brands. For example, I have a sheer shirt from Vero Moda, which I wear a few times a week. I am a casual dresser and I like feeling free in my clothes. I buy clothes from the men's section, which I wear at home, especially when it is too hot.

Shopping spree

I love buying perfumes. My favourites are Narciso Rodriguez For Her and Chance by Chanel. I like shopping from flea markets and little quirky stores in London. I put different things together to create a look. I love it when they recognise me and give me discounts! I cannot spend too much money on clothes and accessories because of my middle-class mentality.

chatter box
The epitome of creativity

Designer touch: Ejiaz Khan

Like Bollywood actors, television actors also have a penchant for style and they love keeping abreast with the latest fashion trends. Recently, Eijaaz Khan was seen flaunting his creative side during the promo shoot of Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa that is soon to be aired on Colors. As soon as Eijaz heard the concept of the promo, the stylish actor chose to design his look for the same.

He then discussed the ideas with the designer who was impressed with his inputs and more than happy to incorporate them in is look. While the colour of his outfit was blue, which was similar to all the other contestants, you could see the distinct difference in Eijaaz's outfit with his personal touch as he flaunted an interesting combination of harem-like pants with a fashionable waistcoat that was teamed with a flowing cape.

The shades of sea blue-green and tattoos on his muscles made Eijaaz's brawny physique and macho looks stand out in the most contemporary way. Let's see what the viewers have to say about Eijaz Khan's new look?

In pursuit of romance
Shakti Arora
Shakti Arora

Shakti Arora, who gained much popularity for his work in Pavitra Rishta, is on cloud nine as he has found the love of his life in Neha Saxena. He talks about it to the Life+Style.

When and how did you meet Neha?

I met Neha during the show, Tere Liye, where we were paired opposite each other. Back then, we were just friends and people felt that we had a good chemistry.

Who proposed first?

Though we realised that we are very fond of each other, it took us a while to admit to our feelings. We have been friends for over two years and its been over six months that we have been dating each other.

What do you like the most about her?

I like her honesty and caring nature. Also, she is a very good cook besides being a wonderful person.

When are you planning to get married?

We have not planned anything yet. Hopefully, we will tie a knot in a year or so.

What's next for you on the career front?

Right now Pavitra Rishta is all that is on my mind. It takes up all my time.

Seeking critical acclaim

All smiles: Annie Gill

You have already seen Annie Gill in Zor ka Jhatka and Friendship Baazi. However, the show that has really been a turning point in her career has been her current show, Anamika that is telecast on Sony TV.

The pretty actor shares, "This show has surely brought about a great change in my life. It has helped me to improve as an actor and has given me a lot of creative satisfaction. Anamika has made me very feminine and considering that the viewers have really appreciated my performance, brings a smile to my face."

When asked about the reason for supernatural-based shows being on the rise, Annie replies, "This is because there is a growing audience for shows like these. Indian television is experimenting. If the execution is good and the audience can connect to the show." On her belief in ghosts and chudails, the actor says, "I believe in a divine and universal power. If there is good, there must be evil too."critical acclaim

Signed and sealed

thumbs up: Shrishty Rode 

With a new star cast and storyline, Punar Vivah 2 will be telecast form May 20 onwards. While Karan V Grover has been signed as the male lead, the female lead is yet to be finalised. However, Shrishty Rode, who rose to fame with Zee TV's Chhoti Bahu, has been signed for a parallel role in the show. She was earlier seen in the show, Yeh Ishq Haaye that was telecast on Star One.

Role play

New avatar: Maninee De Mishra

Maninee De Mishra, who was earlier seen in Savitri, will now be seen in a romantic comedy that will be telecast on Colors. Buzz is that Gaurav Gera will also be part of this show, which will have two male and two female actors in the lead roles. Meanwhile, Maninee says that she was keeping away from TV for a while because she did not get good roles.

On a filmy note

Sharad Kelkar, who shot to fame with the show, Kuchh Toh Log Kahenge, essayed the role of a villain in Vikram Bhatt's 1920: Evil Returns. Now, the actor has signed an important role in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's upcoming film, Ram Leela, where he will play an elder brother to Deepika Padukone.

Astro turf
P Khurrana

ARIES: Your skills will be noticed by those who matter. Networking will help you to build contacts that will assist you further in your career plans. Spend time on fitness routines. Tarot message: Don't give up your freedom without considering. Lucky colour: Saffron Lucky number: 36

TAURUS: Don't waste your time getting into arguments with colleagues or loved ones. Pay attention to your health. Listen to your wisdom and be prudent about your plans for the future lest others block you. Tarot message: Think positive and be optimistic. Lucky colour: Forest green Lucky number: 28

GEMINI: You may be in an irritable frame of mind so don't make impulsive decisions. Differences could lead to tense moments and you have to be careful about losing your friend. Tarot message: Handle others carefully don't antagonise anyone. Lucky colour: Brown Lucky number: 48

CANCER: Travel plans could run into some delays. There could be favourable news regarding a family member. Avoid the earth sign Virgo who could be cold and objective. Tarot message: Don't think about the past. Lucky colour: Yellow Lucky number: 45

LEO: You may have opportunities to make an impression on your seniors or business associates. You start taking decisions, which you have been putting off for a while. Tarot message: Adapting to new technology will be important to keep pace with the changing times. Lucky colour: White Lucky number: 29

VIRGO: You may start a long-term venture that actualises your potential and brings you fame. There is no substitute for hard work; so do not shirk responsibility. Tarot message: Unfinished business will unleash new problems. Lucky colour: Navy BlueLucky number: 32

LIBRA: Allow your heart to lead the way in a personal relationship. Disruption in a business venture is temporary. You will be prepared for important meetings and presentations. Tarot message: Don't enter into a conflict that doesn't concern or affect you. Lucky colour: Maroon Lucky number: 47

SCORPIO: You are generous and giving in personal relationships and command respect from family and friends. Try to avoid social interaction for the day, if only to let things resolve themselves. Tarot message: Play your cards close to your chest. Lucky colour: Peach Lucky number: 31

SAGITTARIUS: Finances brighten considerably. Aim for the proper method of organising things. There is love and romance in a personal relationship. A journey is on the cards. Tarot message: Delays are the only obstacle in your way to success. Lucky colour: Ebony Lucky number: 53

CAPRICORN: Look for a close friend or family member to clarify long-term solutions. Check letters and emails. The big ideas you have been setting out for are beginning to take shape. Tarot message: Do what is right and watch your best interests. Lucky colour: Aqua blue Lucky number: 41

AQUARIUS: A romance that you thought had headed arrives your way on its own terms. Your boss is as stubborn as you are, so have a flexible attitude. Keep up with an exercise routine. Tarot message: Learn to rely on your intellectual abilities. Lucky colour: Pista Greens Lucky number: 26

PISCES: It's a good time to build up positive patterns that foster growth. A classic afternoon get-together between you and an old flame could be the antidote to your recent bout with boredom. Tarot message: You need to learn how to cope up with success. Lucky colour: Cream Lucky number: 65

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