Five-star staircase to the Everest
Mukesh Khosla
Sixty years after Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and a New Zealand beekeeper, Edmund Hillary scaled the Everest over 3,500 persons have stood on top while 235 have died trying to conquer the peak which at 8,850 metres (29,035 feet) is the highest in the world.

Return of the jhumkas
The droopers have invaded the jewellery boxes of celebrities as well as the girl-next-door. Ear-splendor, which defined fashion during the 1970s and 1980s, is once again catching the fantasy of women and is taking endemic proportions
Surekha Kadapa-Bose
They say fashion trends always complete a 360ş cycle and come back to haunt Gen Next. And that is the reason why grandmas sarees, dupattas, jewellery should never be discarded. The latest to complete this circle of trends and has taken an endemic proportion is jhumkas.

PACESETTER Mahendra Chauhan 
A designer to be watched
Product designer Mahendra Chauhan, recipient of international awards for cutting-edge watch designs, is driven by passion, curiosity and sensitivity and believes in pushing the limits of learning
Vibha Sharma
Historically, watches have always been time-telling devices. But people like Mahendra Chauhan try to reincarnate the same watches every year to adapt to upcoming trends and evolving lifestyles. He is the proud designer of Titan Skeletal Edge which won the Red Dot Award for 2013 in the “Best Product Design of the Year - Watches and Jewellery” category. The award-winning watch is supposed to be the slimmest watch in the universe: clean, contrasting lines and a minimalist vibe. 

Bling it on


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Five-star staircase to the Everest
The lofty Everest, which tantalised mountaineers for centuries, has now become part of a package. For a price, tour operators will ease your way to the top of the world
Mukesh Khosla

Sherpas can be hired to carry the heavy equipment required for climbing
Sherpas can be hired to carry the heavy equipment required for climbing

Sixty years after Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and a New Zealand beekeeper, Edmund Hillary scaled the Everest over 3,500 persons have stood on top while 235 have died trying to conquer the peak which at 8,850 metres (29,035 feet) is the highest in the world.

What is that lures people to the Everest? Two-time Everster Santosh Yadav says by the way of explanation “The Himalayas have something in them which tugs at people’s heart — the peace, the sense of divinity, the majestic beauty — make these mountains the most enchanting experience for any human being.”

Beauty and grandeur

More than 100,000 trekkers visit the Himalayas every year though only a few succeed in climbing the Everest. From the tourism point of view, the results have been spectacular. The standards of living of the locals have improved greatly even as an increasing number of enthusiasts from all over the world clamour to reach the highest peak.

But the increasing tourist inflow has changed the nature of the flora and fauna more in six decades than it did in thousands of years. The problem has assumed such proportions that it has become a major worry for environmentalists. Today, Mount Everest has become a battle ground between conversationalists and commercial interests.

Sincere mountaineers, who spend years preparing to climb the lofty peak, are aghast that the Everest has now become a part of a tour package. For a price ranging between $65,000 and $100,000 (Rs 35.75 lakh and Rs 55 lakh), tour operators will actually lay out a ‘highway to the Everest’ and then, proceed to haul the ‘climber’ over to the world’s highest peak.

Mountain coolies

The tour operators have made the Everest their business ever since they assessed a demand from enthusiasts, who wanted to get to the top. Now, on a given day there are any number of people climbing the mountain paths aided by these tour operators. Coolies not just carry their backpacks and other equipment but these ‘mountaineers’ are rumoured to be put in palanquins and carried on their shoulders over hazardous passes. “In many ways it is party time for people who are brought up by tour operators,” says an exasperated mountaineer.

Such has been the rush that last year 234 people stood atop the Everest in (believe it or not) just one day! On May 10, no fewer than 38 ‘mountaineers’ queued up to stand atop the Everest. Most of them get themselves photographed on their ‘historic’ triumph.

The ‘dummy’ route

Many tourists are flown halfway to the Everest. There are two airstrips — the Syngboche Airport in Namche Bazar village which is at 3,780 metres (around 12,400 feet) and the other at Lukla town. Namche Bazar has many hotels to make the climbers’ stay comfortable. The best among these is Hotel Everest View in the Sagarmatha National Park. It is the highest located hotel in the world and commands spectacular views of Mt Everest.

All tour operators use the South Col route to the Everest, not the tough West Ridge side. So easy has it become now to reach the summit from the South Col side that mountaineers, the real ones, have named it the “Yak Track.”

Tour companies will ease your climb to the Everest from the time you land in Kathmandu. Luxury tents are provided for the trek, food is of top quality and if any climber has any dietary preferences even those are taken care of.

The tour operator also provides radio communications, oxygen, medical supplies, sherpas, porters, camp staff and guides. All administration fees, including climbing permit, are taken care of and the cost also includes a one night’s lodging in Kathmandu after ‘conquering’ the Everest and any other incidental charges.

Himalayan toll tax

This tax is for shortcuts to the Everest. These shortcuts are used by sherpas and locals who erect bridges across difficult passes like the Khumbu Ice Fall. Those who want to cross the treacherous fall using this bridge have to pay a fee for using the facility.

According to a mountaineer, a decade ago, no more than a single expedition was allowed up to the summit in one day. Now there are about 20 expeditions or more at any given day from the South Col during the peak season.

The road to the Base Camp is not full of thorns either. At 12,000 ft, in the Namche Bazaar area, apart from the airstrip and the comfortable hotels, there are numerous snack stalls doing roaring business.

Gone are the days of exotic wilderness. Today, Everest is a far cry from the time when Tenzing and Hillary conquered it. Sir Edmund once said, “In the two months that I spent up in the mountains, I cannot remember seeing a single person apart from my companion. Everest is a marvellous experience — dozens of untouched peaks all around waiting to be reached, scores of glaciers to explore. It is the sheer sense of isolation and remoteness.”

Sadly, today the Everest is a crowded highway — a proof that the rich can buy anything for a bagful of dollars!

 

Mountaineering institutes

Two of the best schools imparting training are the Atal Behari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports (ABVIMAS) in Manali and the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering in Uttarkashi.

Atal Behari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports, Manali : One of the most popular courses at the ABVIMAS is the 26-day basic mountaineering course (BMC). It includes rock climbing, knot practice, rappelling and jumaring (use of metallic device to climb a rope) and use of ice axe. Students also learn river crossing, rope climbing, cramponing (stainless steel shoe strap-ons to walk on ice) and glacier walking. The basic mountaineering course which is held every month between May and October costs RS 11,700 and includes board, lodging, food, equipment and camping.

Nehru Institute of Mountaineering in Uttarkashi: The Nehru Institute of Mountaineering in Uttarkashi in Uttrakhand offers courses in mountaineering and has residential facilities. Perched on a hill across the east bank of River Bhagirathi, the institute offers the basic course for 26 days which includes extensive rock climbing training and map reading. Trainees spend around 20 days in the mountains where they are trained in the basic techniques of snow craft and ice craft at high altitudes. On completion of training, they are taken up to altitudes ranging between 12,000 and 15,000 feet for acclamatisation. The fee is RS 5,000 which includes food, accommodation, equipment, transportation, medicines and other training expenses.

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Return of the jhumkas
The droopers have invaded the jewellery boxes of celebrities as well as the girl-next-door. Ear-splendor, which defined fashion during the 1970s and 1980s, is once again catching the fantasy of women and is taking endemic proportions
Surekha Kadapa-Bose


Peacock splash 
Designer Anindita from Utsavfashion.com has used meenakari in royal blue white to enhance the white stones studded in the peacock motif. Young girls would love to wear for a special occasion. price RS 3,600

They say fashion trends always complete a 360ş cycle and come back to haunt Gen Next. And that is the reason why grandmas sarees, dupattas, jewellery should never be discarded. The latest to complete this circle of trends and has taken an endemic proportion is jhumkas.

Ear-splendor, once restricted to the four southern states of India, especially during the late 1970s and 1980s, has suddenly caught pan-India attention. From models, celebrities, politicians, sportspersons, professionals, housewives, maidservants, and just about any and every Indian woman irrespective of the region they belong to, are donning jhumkas.

And according to wallet sizes, jhumkas are found in all price ranges. Right from Rs 5 to several lakhs, we find earrings being sold from footpath vendors to jewellery shops to high-profile jewellery designer boutiques. The material used ranges from terracotta, white metal, aluminium foils, silver, gold embedded with glass beads, pearls, crystals, semi and precious gems, kundan, diamonds and whatever else one can think of to enhance the beauty of these earrings.

The popularity of these can be gauged from the fact that these have invaded the jewellery boxes of our filmstars. So now you won’t see only Rekha, Hema Malini, Vidya Balan in a Kanjeevaram sari, mogra flowers and, of course, the jhumkas but you will also find Rani Mukerji, Preity Zinta, Sonam Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor and others also in the South Indian jewellery piece whenever they don the traditional attire.

The beauty of jhumkas hasn’t escaped the interest of our creative team, especially the Hindi film lyricists. Every generation from the 1950 to 2010: from Shailendra’s “Mila hai kisi ka jhumka” (1960) to latest Anvita Dutt Gupta’s “Oh! Radha tera jhumka” (2012) have extolled the beauty of this dangler earrings which has a top to clip on the ear and a semi-circular jhumar hanging off a small chain from the top.

When you think of jhumkas, the popular songs that come to the mind are — Sadhana in her Lambani attire singing “Jhumka gira re Bareli ke bazaar mein” from the film Mera Saaya or Amitabh Bachchan serenading Jaya Bahaduri with “Tera jhumka re aye hai” in the film Abhimaan.

“When we display jhumkas to our customers from in our shop, they always ask for jhumkas to be made the way actor Vidya Balan or Rekha wore either in a particular film or an event,” says Delhi-based jewellery designer Mira Gulati of the Mirari group.

In one of her interviews, Vidya Balan, a South Indian settled in Mumbai and now married to a Punjabi, had said, “I never leave a chance of buying a pair of jhumkas. From the most expensive to the ones I bought on Mumbai local trains for Rs 5, I have all of them. At times, when I lay out my entire collection of jhumkas, I feel a complete woman!”

Of course, we can’t attribute the universal interest in jhumkas only to the popular South Indian filmstars. The fact is that jewellery designers have now realised the beauty of this piece and have started innovating in it keeping the basic design intact.

Joining the bandwagon of designers of this piece are even fashion designers like Manish Arora, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, besides others. Sabyasachi’s jhumkas are very heavy and large — more than 80 gms of gold plus pearls and gems stones. Actor Anushka Sharma and, of course, his muse Vidya Balan are always seen in this. Manish has teamed up with Amrapali and designs in gold-plated silver jewellery.

According to designer Chetna Nanda of Chitih Sparkling Gems, “Typical South Indian jhumkas were very heavy and required a kana (thin gold chain from behind the clamp of the jhumka to be clipped on the hair to take away the weight from the ear). These had a lot of metal. This made the jhumka very heavy and painful. But we have redesigned this item now.”

Using gemstones and pearls don’t make jhumkas as heavy as the traditional ones. The lightweight jhumkas made in casual substance like wood, terracotta, white metal and others has made it possible for collegians to wear these on casual attire like jeans and T-shirts also. Tribal jewellery makers have also joined in.

Designer Anindita (www.utsavfashion.com) sums it up, “Jhumkas are a beautiful blend of the traditional and the trendy. These can be adorned with salwar kameez, saris, shararas, kurtis etc... These present an image of ethnicity with modern sensibilities.”

Gift a jewel

This Vaihi jhumka is made in 18ct gold. Rows of baguettes round brilliant cuts and the marquee in the centre combine together to make it a very sassy piece. The gross weight is 35gm. Gift it to your girlfriend or wife on her birthday or anniversary and watch for rapt attention.



Price: Rs 2,60,000 

Diamond delight

These jhumkas by Diagold are made in 18ct gold. These are accentuated by studded round diamonds with the baguette bracket and round diamond motif in the centre suspending the jhumka. The gross weight is 40gm. These are definitely for a very special occasion.



                                                                        Price: Rs 2,00,000 





Festival special

Made in 92.5 silver used as base metal covered with 22 ct gold plate, this jhumki from Anantam looks great for a special occasion. The semi-precious green jade, as a central stone, gives one a festive look. Embellished pearls, which are knotted together in gold-plated silver wire, this could be easily mistaken for a gold piece, except for the weight and cost.

Price: Rs 10,500



Tropical exuberance

With their vibrant colors, this oversized pair of rhodium-plated Tangara pierced earrings is ideal for summer. Each one features a large, triangular clear crystal with details in Swarovski's exclusive Pointiage® technique and metallic epoxy.

                                                                  Price: Rs 22,500




Majestic appeal

Inspired by the Mughal rulers, this ruby seed pearl jhumka takes flight to create an utterly contemporary execution of that design intensive era. A unique and royal piece, it is the height of luxury for any modern bride. The beauty of this piece is enhanced by the majestic peacocks finely crafted using old cut diamonds in a setting that simulates the traditional kundan style.

Price: RS 16,31,000



Tribal trance

Simple and typical tribal motif. These flower-shaped jhumkas in silver from Amarpali will look good both on western as well as Indian attire.


                                                                                Price: Rs 3,400



Contemporary classic

These jhumkas by Ghanasingh are a contemporary adaptation. Crafted in 18K yellow gold with a white rhodium finish, these feature delicate black enamel around pave set round brilliant cut diamonds. The beauty is further enhanced with South Sea pearls and diamond baguettes set in prong and channel styles.

Price on request



A touch of tradition

The manga malai, literally a piece of mangoes, is uniquely South Indian and its antiquity can be traced to the Chola period. The jhumka is a modern take on the traditional manga malai, giving it a unique touch with modern techniques while keeping the feel and the look of traditional jhumkas. Cabochon Burmese rubies, Cabochon emeralds, old cut and brilliant cut diamonds have been used in an open back modern setting instead of foil backs to reflect the modernity in design.

                                                                      Price: Rs 7,30,000



Decorative danglers

Sterling silver-plated with gold in their tribal collection, Amrapali has small white beads dangling from the jhumka, which is topped by a red decorative glass. Why a tribal? Even an urban lass would look great.


Price: Rs 5,500



Heritage revisited

The glass on kundan on top, the red Jaipuri chatai enamel in the middle and traditional flora Nakashi patterns in the outer ring complete this regal and beautifully layered pair of earrings from Tanishq Glam Gold collection.



                                                                           Price on request



Designer blend

In this pair of earrings from Tanishq, a lone tourmaline is encased by a floral border of blue and green enamel. The blue, red and green enamel add a riot of colours, which displays an intoxicating blend of new and old designs.


Price on request



Exquisite workmanship

The beauty of these ethnic earrings lies in them being hand-crafted and traditional. Nothing befits Indian ceremonies more than the auspicious colours of red and gold. These jhumkas exude a ceremonial air, studded with large spinels, which look like scattered pomegranate seeds. Reflecting exquisite workmanship in gold and delicate filigree work, the earrings are sprinkled with clusters of ruby and emerald beads in tiers, edged with shimmering gold beads.

Price: Rs 80,000

Zircon magic




This gold-plated sterling silver with cluster of cubic zircons at the top makes it to special occasion or festivals. Benaazir Mukherjee of moodswings.in had designed these in just 25 gm which makes it easy to wear.



Price: Rs 8,800



Carnelian catch




These lightweight jhumkas look good on special as well as casual occasions. The gold-plated sterling silver jhumkas by Benaazir Mukherjee of moodswings.in has carnelian stones and pearls adding a touch of beauty to the wearer.




Price: Rs 7,500


Pearl finish

This handmade piece in 92.5 pure silver with pretty white small pearls dangling from the jhumka looks absolutely pretty and delicate. Use of pure south Asian pearls add a dainty touch to these earrings by Anantam.


Price: Rs 5,000

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PACESETTER Mahendra Chauhan 
A designer to be watched
Product designer Mahendra Chauhan, recipient of international awards for cutting-edge watch designs, is driven by passion, curiosity and sensitivity and believes in pushing the limits of learning
Vibha Sharma 

Historically, watches have always been time-telling devices. But people like Mahendra Chauhan try to reincarnate the same watches every year to adapt to upcoming trends and evolving lifestyles. He is the proud designer of Titan Skeletal Edge which won the Red Dot Award for 2013 in the “Best Product Design of the Year - Watches and Jewellery” category. The award-winning watch is supposed to be the slimmest watch in the universe: clean, contrasting lines and a minimalist vibe. 

Born and brought up in Bhilai, Chhattisgarh, Mahendra always had a creative inclination which motivated him to take up architecture. He completed Masters in Product Design from NID, Ahmedabad which enhanced his design thinking from a macro to micro level. There he went on to win a “Rado Design Excellence” award. It had the theme of “Time and Creativity.” Since then, he has felt intrigued by time-telling devices.

He worked with GE Plastics and TI cycles before joining Titan Industries and as he progressed, he took forth his learning at each level to evolve his design thinking. He has been contributing to Titan for the last seven years and leading the Titan Design team handling brands/sub-brands namely Raga, HTSE, Nebula, Orion, Edge and the core brand Titan itself. Titan gave him the opportunity where he could use his creative designs while applying the understanding of the intricacies of watch mechanisms. He says, “When it comes to designing watches, the thought process should be in microns as compared to architecture where it was in metres. This level of detailing requires micro design thinking to execute into reality.”

Mahendra feels the experience of being engaged in this capacity is very gratifying more so “when people use watches designed by me and appreciate them.”

Red Dot is a prestigious International Award organised in Germany’s Design Zentrum Nordrhein Wesfalen, since 1955. It is a quality seal and is regarded as an Oscar among the design community. Around 4,662 products, put forth by 1865 manufacturers, were evaluated by the eminent jury panel. Skeletal Edge is the next level of Edge Series launched by Titan. The first Edge watch, launched in 2002, had the slimmest 1.1 mm watch movement. Since then, Edge has seen many avatars. But the current Skeletal Edge is a big leap forward as it is targeted for youth, with minimalistic yet stylish form. The watch has a contemporary see-through skeletal design which complements the minimalistic dial. It is sculpted in Titanium, with a sapphire glass crested top, a transparent back cover and a slim 1.1 mm mechanism all contained within a thickness of 4mm. Mahendra Chauhan is not the one to rest on his laurels yet. “After putting Titan on the world map, I look forward to designing many more interesting products. I have recently designed Ducati collection. It is a collection of four watches which embodies emotions attached with iconic Ducati brand.” He wants to create many more iconic products which challenge him to reach newer heights. Besides, he wants to travel extensively to gain more experience from many international cultures and to embed those as an inspiration for his designs. 

For people who nurture an inner drive to make a difference in any field, he offers his wisdom in a nutshell — Design begins with sensitivity, curiosity and passion. To excel in any field one needs to be passionate about it, sensitive to the end users and curious about the new things.

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Bling it on

TAKE A BOW AT THIS!

If you are fond of the good things of life like a vacation in an expensive resort, so is your dog! Or at least that’s what a luxury consumer website www.VeryFirstTo.com would have us believe. Dog owners wanting to give their pampered pooch a treat are being offered the chance to send them on a luxury break to the exclusive Paw Seasons Hotel in Bristol, England. The fortnight of fun includes a pickup by a limousine, a bespoke doghouse suite, a personal chef, a personal butler, beach and countryside walks, surfing lessons, spa and grooming, a luxury wardrobe including a Louis Vuitton collar and a Bottega Veneta leash. Believe it or not, there are also special counselling and Reiki sessions for stressed out mutts.

Price: RS 44.40 lakh per dog ($74,000)

UNCORKING FOR DUMMIES

Those who relish wine have experienced that agonising moment when the cork just doesn’t yank out or breaks in a way that half of it stuck inside the bottle. Now you can say goodbye to this nightmare scenario as two global leaders Amorim, the maker of cork stoppers, in collaboration with Owens-Illinois Glass Company the manufacturer of glass wine bottles, have launched the Helix cork and bottle that are designed in a way that the cork can be removed with a simple twist of the wrist. The grooved agglomerated cork stopper which fits into a specially-cast bottle with a matching thread in its neck provides the benefits of the traditional wine cork without the hassles of uncorking the bubbly with a set of tools. price: Sold only with the wine bottle

DOING A MAXI ON A MINI

Whether it is couture or accessories, Roberto Cavalli's star shines the brightest. He's the man with the golden touch. Proof of that was at hand recently at the Life Ball in Vienna which is one of the biggest charities in the world for HIV and AIDS patients. An interesting part of the charity every year the management of the iconic British car Mini invites a leading designer to do up the car in his or her style. This year Cavalli was hand-picked for the honour. Sticking to the gold theme he embellished it with colours that change from black to brown depending on the angle of the sun. Needless to say it fetched the highest price ever at the auction.

Auction Price: Rs 1.067 crore ($194,000)

BLING AROUND THE RING

There are some things in life that are designed to dazzle. And the latest Bulgari Mini Cocktail Ring collection is one of them. Resembling colourful cupcakes, this set of three elegant rings come in different varieties of stones from creole-cut turquoise and mother-of-pearl to crubellites and amethysts encircled with pave diamonds. The cocktail collection is a stunning summer accessory that can be worn elegantly in the evening. You just need to decide which of the three you want. Or better still, take home all the three!

Price: Rs 4.275 lakh per ring ($7,125)

THIS PORSCHE IS FOR FIVE-YEAR-OLDS

Though the iconic Porsche is a dream car for people between the ages of 18 and 80, this version will appeal only to those between five and eight. The Porsche Go Kart can light up any kid’s life. Despite having no engine and running on foot pedal-power, it is the star of any playground. It has a tubular steel frame, inflatable tyres, a sport seat, composite rims and a rear braking system. For pro-style driving it comes fitted with a handbrake to the driver’s right. At roughly five feet in length the orange-black go-kart weighs 25 kilos and can support potential Formula-1 champions up to 50 kilos in weight.

Price: Rs 54,000 ($900)

THIN IS IN

Digital companies no longer compete about who’s producing the most value-for-money notebooks but who is making the slimmest of them all. Razer, the American computer peripherals manufacturer has come out with the world's thinnest gaming Ultrabook. The new Razer Blade is 13.6 inches wide, 9.3 inches deep and just 0.66 inches high. The screen is supported by the 2GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M graphics card. The under two-kilo Ultrabook may be small enough to be slipped under a shirt, but when it comes to playing online games it sure packs a punch!

Price: Rs 1.08 lakh ($1,800)

NOSING AHEAD

Be the life of a party with Nuance Eau de Parfum. It may not be the world’s most expensive fragrance but it certainly has the classiest appeal. The exquisite perfume from Giorgio Armani is a part of the Prive Les Editions Couture series. The perfume was reportedly inspired by the fashion collection of the current season, encased in a bottle designed with an organza print especially designed by Armani’s Milan workshop. Strikingly dyed in a lacquered green tone, the bottle is stylishly topped by a stopper that looks like a pebble, in different shades of turquoise, anthracite and onyx black. But hurry. It is in a limited edition of just 1,000 pieces

Price: Rs 46,800 ($780)


GAMES SUPERCARS PLAY

If someone tried to sell you a video game for over a crore of rupees you'd probably tell that person to get his mind examined. Leading British video games developer Codemasters is doing just that! Its Grid 2: Mono Edition is a highly-anticipated video racing game that comes with a PlayStation 3 and (hold your breath) a real BAC Mono Supercar along with a complete race wear for the driver. For the uninitiated the BAC is a single-seater lightweight, ultra high performance road legal car which has been designed using the latest racing technology and is vying for top billing in the world of motor racing. Little wonder than that the Grid 2 has earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the "Most Expensive Video Game Commercially Available".

Price: Rs 1.045 crore ($190,000)

SMALLEST NANO IN THE WORLD

It’s a Nano. And it is not a car. The Nano-Falcon is the world’s smallest remote-controlled helicopter toy. But despite its miniature size, it is no slouch when it comes to performance. The chopper made by Japanese toy manufacturer CCP is just 2.5 inches long and weighs 11 gm. The infrared controller which takes four AA alkaline batteries makes it airborne for around five minutes. It has a height range of around 16 feet, which may be a good thing. If it goes any higher you may lose sight of it because of its puny size.

Price: Rs 3,000 ($50)

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