Froyos, parfaits, gelatos... the urban fitness-conscious are looking up to these new low-calorie dessert alternatives for some guilt-free sweet indulgence
A summer beyond ice creams
How many times have you heard the saying “We are what we eat”? In the past three decades, hundreds of studies have confirmed a link between certain foods and our emotions.

A sophisticated coffee table can be a standout piece of furniture in the drawing room and make a statement on its own
The table story
First and foremost, a coffee table is not necessarily a table where you sip a steaming cup of hot beverage. Of course, you can do that but a coffee table can also be used as a tea table, a cocktail table, or even to support a decorative, especially those glossy books that have been named after the coffee table.

Ashvin Kumar on the set of a film Kashmir in his frame
Standing on a platform in Juan Les Pins at the Cannes Film Festival in 2002, Ashvin Kumar dreamt of making a film himself. Five months later, the movie, Road to Ladakh was ready for screening. Written and directed by Ashvin Kumar, the 55-minute movie starred the then relatively little-known Irrfan Khan.

Capturing conflict: Ashvin Kumar on the set of a film



Froyos, parfaits, gelatos... the urban fitness-conscious are looking up to these new low-calorie dessert alternatives for some guilt-free sweet indulgence
A summer beyond ice creams
Avinash Julka

How many times have you heard the saying “We are what we eat”? In the past three decades, hundreds of studies have confirmed a link between certain foods and our emotions.

Now there is good news for ice-cream addicts. According to a study conducted by neuroscientists at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, a cup full of ice cream lights up the same pleasure areas in the brain as does winning a lottery or listening to one’s favourite music.

But what about the calories? In this fitness-driven age, eating a scoop of ice cream regularly can mean the difference between fit and fat. Ice creams are semi-frozen blend of sugar, milk solids and vegetable fat that contain a high amount of fat.

Lip-smacking substitutes

If you have a sweet tooth, then those banana split sundaes and hazelnut scoops are going to be your undoing. Unless, of course you choose ice cream substitutes that are equally delicious.

An increasing number of urban Indians are developing adventurous tongues and are trying innovative alternatives to ice creams. Apart from the taste and presentation, these are a healthier option.

Whether it is frozen yogurts or smoothies, gelatos or parfaits or even popsicles or sorbets, these alternatives are sometimes so similar to ice creams that it is hard to tell the difference.

Take for example a healthy option like frozen yogurts, their tangy-sweet taste, intensity of flavours and yummy toppings are as addictive as any premium ice cream and usually cost between Rs 60 and Rs 150 a cup.

Robust demand

According to an Assocham report, the annual consumption in India still stands at a nascent 0.3 kg per capita as compared to 17.8 kg in France. But the demand for frozen yogurts will be seeing a robust growth of 70 to 80 per cent each year over the next three years. A number of health and fitness conscious people are making a switch from ice creams to frozen yogurts.

The same goes for gelatos, the Italian version of an ice cream. It was popularised in the early 20th century in the small town of Varese in Italy. It offers a delicious alternative to ice creams and has been seeing a spike in popularity in big cities in India where it has a presence because of its delectable taste and a lower fat content (around 5 to 6 per cent) as compared to ice cream (around 10 per cent).

There are nearly a dozen players in the market and round 100 stores retailing gelatos. Though the annual sales of around Rs 50 crore is just a fraction of the total annual ice cream market turnover of around Rs 2,000 crore, gelatos have created a niche market for itself with a potential of growing at an estimated 15 per cent a year.

Range of flavours

Gelato offers a range of flavours like Swiss chocolate hazelnut, butterscotch, Brazilian coffee, wild berries and cheesecake and fruit toppings of your liking. The prices range from around Rs 275 to around Rs 500 for a half kg tub.

But yogurts and gelatos are not the end of the frozen desserts’ story. Smoothies, too, are gaining in popularity. The thick and smooth drink comprising fresh fruit, pureed with yogurt or milk is a big hit among the young crowd.

It is not uncommon to find freshly made smoothies in most western style restaurants priced between Rs 90 and Rs 250. Seeing the niche market developing vigorously, companies like France-based Monin Gourmet Syrups and US-based Smoothie Factory are all set to open shop in India with pre-mixed fruit-based smoothies.

Luxury health drink

The smoothie market is estimated to be just around Rs 110 crore, however, it is not expected to grow at a breakneck speed because of its somewhat restrictive availability. But, as a niche luxury health drink, it is catching on in popularity. An idea of its demand can be gauged from the fact that in 2008 the market totalled a little over three million litres as compared to 4.4 million litres of smoothies in 2013.

However, the demand is likely to pick up even as popular joints like Starbucks, Cafe Coffee Day, Barista Lavazza and many others are offering a range of choices. Their menus comprise energisers like chocolate smoothie, orange mango smoothie, strawberry smoothie and kiwi smoothie even as the drink positions itself as an alternative to the all-pervasive ice cream in these upmarket cafes.

Other ice cream alternatives like frozen desserts and custards, parfaits and sorbets, green tea and coffee ice creams, too, are available as niche drinks and desserts in most metros though they have not got a mass appeal as they do not have any organised delivery and distribution systems nor do they have any dedicated outlets.

However, with the entry of global players like Haagen Dazs, Baskin Robbins, Swensen’s, Cream & Fudge Factory, Gelatos and the home grown Gianis and Nirulas, the demand for frozen dessert and fruit-based drinks is picking up quick and fast. And it won’t be long before these, too, join the growing popularity of smoothies and frozen yogurts and some day even rival the appeal of ice creams and our very own kulfis and baraf ke gole (Indian popsicles).

What ice cream was that?

Apart from the usual vanilla, chocolate, mango and fruity flavours, some unusual ice creams available around the globe are:

Halva ice cream: Popular in Israel and Gulf countries, the halva ice cream is made from thick cream, milk, semolina (sooji), seseme seeds, honey, pistachios and vanilla flavour all blended and frozen.

Garlic ice cream: Though eaten in many parts of the world, the most popular variety is sold in Gilroy, a town in California. It comprises cream-thickened milk to which are added sugar, egg yolks and garlic.

Fried eggplant ice cream: Popular in Japan, the Fried Eggplant (Baingan) Ice Cream is a novelty which is a great tourist attraction. It is a frozen blend of eggplants, milk, cream, egg yolks and honey and sugar.

Chicken wing ice cream: Another delicacy from Japan, the chicken wing ice cream may not look appetising to some but in the Japanese city of Nagoya it is a delicacy and is available abundantly.

Bacon ice cream: Popular in the West, it combines meat and ice cream. America fast food chain Burger King offers a vanilla fudge caramel sundae peppered with crumbled bacon.

Spinach ice cream: It may sound yucky, but the spinach ice cream is relished in many countries. It consists of spinach and bananas boiled in milk, cream, sugar and frozen.

Jalapeno & chillies ice cream: Thought to have originated in Mexico, the jalapeno ice cream is made from red hot tobasco sauce boiled with milk, cream, orange zest, chillies and sugar and frozen.

Viagra ice cream: Created by London-based company Icecreamist, the green and white viagra ice cream claims to have many potent libido-boosting ingredients like  gingko biloba, arginine and guarana. 



A sophisticated coffee table can be a standout piece of furniture in the drawing room and make a statement on its own
The table story
Nutan Sehgal

First and foremost, a coffee table is not necessarily a table where you sip a steaming cup of hot beverage. Of course, you can do that but a coffee table can also be used as a tea table, a cocktail table, or even to support a decorative, especially those glossy books that have been named after the coffee table.

Most modern houses usually have a coffee table which is not just an ornamental piece of furniture but is also functional, sturdy and durable. It can be elaborately carved or have a simple, understated styling. So it is important to consider the style of the room before buying a table. When buying a coffee table, take care that it blends seamlessly with the other furniture and furnishings.

Coffee tables can be unique in designs. Their shapes and contours can range from the stunning to the artistic and from one-of-a-kind piece to the bizarre. A sophisticated coffee table, decorated with books and artefacts, can be a standout piece of furniture in the drawing room and make a style statement on its own.

Contemporary and traditional

It does not require an interior designer to tell you that an ultra-chic coffee table would suit a contemporary home and a classic wooden or a marble-top one would best compliment a traditional home. The market is full of a variety of coffee tables. All one has to do is to spend some time shopping around, and one is sure to find a great piece that complements the home style.

Traditionally coffee tables were made of wood or glass with a wooden or a heavy metal frame. But these days, these can be made from any material that is used for making other furniture. However, there is nothing quite as versatile as a glass top coffee table. That’s because glass offers an additional elegance and perfection. These beauties go with any decor and highlight any room.

Classy glass tops

A word of caution as far as glass tables are concerned. Unless these are made of thick glass, these can be delicate and fragile. However, tables made of toughened glass supported by a metallic frame can spell class. Besides creating a feeling of enhanced space, glass tops, when matched with elegant furniture, add a serious style point to the décor and beauty of a room.

However, the classic coffee table is still made from wood or its many variants like teak, oak, mahogany, walnut, eucalyptus, elm and a number of other varieties.

Interestingly, the shape, size and design of the coffee table can differ from room to room. The drawing room would require a delicate coffee table, which is decorated with books and arty objects and complements the sofa or other seating arrangement it is paired with.

A family living room would need a sturdier coffee table that can withstand rough handling. It could also have storage space like drawers to put knick knacks like spoons, knives and forks. etc.

Shapes and designs

The shape of the table can vary from design to design. Apart from the 18-inch tall rectangle, square and circular shapes, coffee tables these days come in an array of contours like oval, oblong, spiral, circular, hexagonal, pentagonal, trapezoid, octagon, elliptical and tables with special pie-crust detailing.

A number of modern designers are stretching the limits of their creativity and shaping coffee tables into over-the-top forms. It is not uncommon to see tables shaped like giant guitars or iPhones, or even like a Rubik’s Cube or a chess board. A new trend is to have a live aquarium under a glass top coffee table.

The most popular contemporary coffee tables feature clean lines and minimalist design. The traditional ones are usually made from hardwood like teak or mahogany and have ornate details and could be elaborately carved with a high gloss finish.

However, while choosing a right coffee table for your drawing or living room, you would have to keep in mind the style of the room. For it to be a statement piece, it would have to blend with the furniture and décor of the room. 


This coffee table is gorgeous and makes an amazing conversation piece at any party. The base of the Driftwood Coffee Table by Uttermost Company is crafted from natural unfinished teak which supports a round clear glass top. It is a great centrepiece, which will suit a modern home.

price: Rs 81,675


Designed by Delhi-based designers Gautam Dhawan, this amazing Fly Farm coffee table is made of copper processed over a period of time to egress the rusted look. The three butterflies perched on the table are made by laser cutting in stainless steel, which gives the table a 3-D effect.

price: Rs 3 lakh onwards


This inlay French-styled coffee table by Chizzle has been intricately carved. It has a walnut veneer and is made of the most exquisite Burma Teak. The coffee table with cabriole legs is a standout piece and brings a certain character to the room. It fits well in any traditional setup.

price: Rs 82,000


This table is a part of the Charcoal Pret Furniture Project by Delhi-based Idus Design Studio. Other tables in the series come in different sizes and shapes ranging from rectangular, square, spiral, circular and elliptical. Whatever the shape, each table has a distinctive style and stands apart.

price: Rs 50,000 onwards


With its fresh interpretation of the classic pie-crust detailing, the stunning Dior coffee table can work with a number of different styles. The scalloped edges, its understated traditional lines and its versatile brown-to-black finish add a touch of sophistication to any room in the house.

price: Rs 60,500


This stunning solid wood, live edge Brasilia coffee table, made with a single slab of reclaimed mango wood and veneered base, is crafted by highly skilled woodworkers in Brazil, who use wood salvaged from fallen trees. The coffee table by Rotsen Furniture has a veneered base.

price: Rs 2.31 lakh


This amazing coffee table from Delhi-based Exhibit D is made of the finest Burma teak and seasoned over a period of time to achieve this marvelous look. The accentuated legs are made of stainless steel polished to high glass-like finish accentuating the beauty of the table.

price: Rs 1.5 lakh onwards


Made of natural vine stuck together with a special adhesive, this special block coffee table is available at the World Bazaar on the Delhi-Gurgaon road. This all-natural table would add a touch of green and make a wonderful addition as a centerpiece of a living room.

price: Rs 35,000


This coffee table, comprising small wooden circles, has been made by celebrated German designer Michael Arras. It is a contemporary assemblage of shapes in high-grade birch plywood. Each segment is connected to the others with strong joints making it a solid whole.

price: Rs 16,500


Sip a steaming cup of coffee while playing a game of chess on this hexagonal games-cum-coffee table by Butler Furniture. The reversible game board plays chess on one side while the other side is laminated green felt for playing cards. It has three drawers with brass knobs.

price: Rs 61,600


The Bouquet coffee table by renowned Philippines designer Kenneth Cobonpue is an elegant piece of art with floral pattern that will create an illusion of an uneven surface when seen from afar. Its top is made of fibre glass-reinforced polymer and it has a stainless steel base.

price: Rs 68,475



Kashmir in his frame
Ashvin Kumar’s quest for issue-based films has earned him an Oscar nomination and two back-to-back National Awards
Sonali Seth

Standing on a platform in Juan Les Pins at the Cannes Film Festival in 2002, Ashvin Kumar dreamt of making a film himself. Five months later, the movie, Road to Ladakh was ready for screening. Written and directed by Ashvin Kumar, the 55-minute movie starred the then relatively little-known Irrfan Khan. The film was a whacky rites-of-passage encounter between a dysfunctional, coke-snorting fashion model and an ultra-focused, strong silent stranger thrown together by chance into the magnificent wilderness of Ladakh. The following year, in 2004, Ashvin again demonstrated his capabilities as a filmmaker and struck gold. His short film Little Terrorist was nominated for the Oscars in the Short Film Category. The film revolved around a 12-year-old Pakistani boy Jamal who mistakenly crosses over into India. While Indian soldiers scan the village for the Pakistani ‘terrorist’, Jamal finds an unusual ally in a villager who shelters him despite his deep prejudice against Pakistanis.

Though the film missed out on the 2005 Oscar night, Ashvin Kumar the postgraduate from the London Film School was firmly established as one of India’s emerging short filmmakers.

He won the National Award last year for his documentary Inshallah, Football. This year, he repeated the feat to become the first Indian to win a back-to-back National Award for Inshallah, Kashmir: Living Terror.

What next? “This time I’ll do a feature film on Kashmir,” says Ashvin, adding, “The Valley cries out for many more films, plays, books and articles to portray the past two traumatic decades of conflict and its effect on ordinary citizens.” The National Award for Inshallah, Kashmir came as a surprise since the film is critical of the Indian authorities’ role. He is glad the two National Awards have recognised the intention behind the films — a sign that things can and will change for the better. Both films are set against the war-torn backdrop of Kashmir. “Basically we are proceeding towards the same goal to find a peaceful resolution to the Kashmir issue,” he says. “The inherent need to speak about it resulted in this film.” But do short films reach the right audience? No, says Ashvin. Despite the fact that the government has institutions like the National Film Development Corporation (NDFC), the Films Division and Doordarshan, seldom does meaningful Indian cinema get the kind of promotion it deserves. “There is no reason why a public service broadcaster like Doordarshan should purchase satellite rights for mainstream Bollywood films and let National Award winning films languish. Unless you are part of the Rs 100-crore club, you are not recognised.

“Films on the diversity of Indian culture and civilisation are ignored. Over 20,000 people have signed a petition to the government, of which 60 are award-winning film makers from across the country, to take our craft and contribution seriously to help us do our work.” He is determined to pursue his cinematic journey. “ For me, the future lies in films with powerful subjects and strong messages. I know that there is an audience for my films. Just look at the number of hits Inshallah, Kashmir received on YouTube. Reason to do more such films.”



Bling it on


The Lego experience is coming to all major consoles and handhelds. Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment is introducing the video game Lego Marvel Superheroes which will soon be available for the Xbox-360, PlayStation-3, Wii U, 3DS and PlayStation Vita. Players will get the chance to play LEGO versions of more than 100 characters from across the Marvel universe. These include Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, Spider-Man, Wolverine and other heroes out to save Earth from such threats as the Loki, Galactus and Devourer of the Worlds.

price: To be announced


Most pet dogs are getting a life, thanks to global brands indulging them with top-of-the-line pet haute couture, pet perfumes, pet chairs, silver bowls and perambulators. Now Ralph Lauren has come out with a line of new pet accessories collection for 2013 intended for all those who want to treat their doggies in style. The collection includes Dog Polo Shirts, Cashmere Dog Turtlenecks, Sporty Puffer Vests and more. Fashion for your furry fiend? Why not? If you are fond of the good things of life like designer clothes and classy accessories so is your dog. Go ahead, give your pooch a life.

price: Ranging between Rs 1,650 and Rs 6,325 (Between $30 and $115)


When he died in 1977, Elvis Presley’s fans had grown to around 30 million. Today they are thrice the size. Even as time passes, the legend of Elvis is growing by leaps and bounds and each year sees collectibles being launched paying tribute to the King. The latest is Italian luxury writing instrument brand Montegrappa’s Elvis Presley Fountain Pen series. There are four different models, each one symbolising one career stage in a carefully chosen colour. If you are a fan of Elvis, flaunt this limited edition pens as a tribute to one of music’s greatest icons.

price: From Rs 1,57,300 to Rs 2,14,200 (From $2,860 to $3,900)


Most shoes are made for walking but these are made for music! They may look like a sophisticated set of ladies stilettos but do not be fooled. The Gimme Tunes are a pair of speakers that will appeal to fashionistas with a sense of humour. Available in a range of colours, including red, pink and black, the speakers are powered by a USB computer connector whose other end is attached to the source of music. The speakers bring a quirky twist to music and can be a conversation piece at any party. So next time you think of stilettos, don’t think women, think music.

price: Rs 2,200 ($40)


After a long and tiring day in office don’t you wish to go back to a heated home in winters or a chilled home in summers? If only wishes were horses. They may not be horses, but this wish is a magic thermostat. The Nest Learning Thermostat is programmed to learn from your habits regarding the kind of heating or cooling you like through a series of sensors, algorithms and cloud computing. It automatically adjusts the temperature up or down according to your taste when you give it a command from your smart phone from your office or any other destination. The smart little gadget is the latest in luxury living and not just saves power but looks great on the wall.

price: Rs 13,000 (£155)


It's futuristic, it's ultra-stylish and it's luxurious. The MWE Emperor 200 Computer Workstation looks something straight out of a science-fiction movie. It comes with a futuristic aerodynamic chair, a scorpio- inspired tail, touch-screen monitors, an air-conditioning system, therapeutic lighting, and electric-powered leather seat. Hand built to your requirements, Emperor 200 is the ultimate computer workstation with a breathtaking appeal which is bold and unique.

price: Rs 24.20 lakh ($44,000)


It was a book that shattered all stereotypes and became one of the greatest works of modern American literature. Now the film version of The Great Gatsby, to be released late in May, is set to redefine cinema. And the world’s premiere jeweller Tiffany and Co. is ready with its Great Gatsby collection by giving its New York flagship store a 1920s makeover—the era during which the book is set. Tiffany’s window showcases are covered with grand crystal pillars, glass bubbles and sparkly jewels, all part of the elaborate grandeur featured in the movie. So what’s the connection between the jeweller and Great Gatsby? The author F. Scott Fitzgerald was a Tiffany admirer and in most of his party scenes in the book, and now in the movie, ladies wore jewels by Tiffany.

price: Upon request


You are not likely to need any champagne to lift your spirits. The Nr.8 Champagne Cooler by Dutch design house Van Perckens will give you a high with its looks and will knock you out with its price tag. Believe it or not, it is crafted from seven kilogrammes of 20 carat gold and is expertly detailed. It comes packaged in a high-gloss wooden case, enhanced with gilded details. The sliding drawer holds the Van Perckens champagne goblets and a pair of signature black gloves. Truly an object of desire which most of us can just dream of.

price: Rs 3.90 crore ($7,25,000)


It’s as tough as nails. The Panasonic Toughpad FZ G-1 which runs on Windows 8 has a lot going for it in terms of performance, speed and looks but its unique selling point is its toughness. Not every tablet can take the bumps, knocks, drops and spills that come with extensive use. That’s where this rugged tablet triumphs. Engineered to not only withstand the hard knocks, the FZ-G1 is built to operate in every environment — from intense heat and sunlight to pouring rain and freezing temperatures. In fact, the hardy tablet can withstand any eventuality and is completely shockproof. Of course, the only shock you’ll get is from its price tag.

price in india: Rs1,75,000


Most people are likely to break into song and dance when they see this collection. The three timepieces by the Swiss maker of prestige watches, Vacheron Constantin are a tribute to the 300th anniversary of École Française de Danse, a leading ballet dance school in France. The three unique timepieces depict three key moments in the life of a ballerina — learning, practice, and performance. They combine the art of ballet, the art of enamelling and the art of watchmaking, thus making them more a work of art than a device to tell the time.

price: Rs 55 lakh for each watch ($100,000)