Spreading the word
Granta's best young British authors Taiye Selasi and Xialou Lou talk how personal experiences shape ones writing sensibilities
Ashima Batish

Six months of dealing with the writer's block and a heartbreak made a lot of difference to the completion of her book. Not that the storyline was changed. Even the last line of the book, Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi, remained what she thought of even before she started writing it, but it ended on a different note.

With more hope and optimism. Taiye believes that personal experiences seep into the story, at times unconsciously.

Of the two, if you ask her, writer's block or heartbreak, which one she fears more, she ticks the former. "Feeling scared of not being able to write again, or being left with no story ideas or phrases to write is an understatement. It's a terror." What pulled her back to her keyboard or the keyboard to her was the love once existed between them. "I missed writing terribly. I longed to interact with my six characters in the book and hear their conversation." She and Xiaolu Guo talk about their books and experiences of life at British Council in Chandigarh on Wednesday.

While her Ghana Must Go is already a bestseller, she is in the process of writing her second novel. Making it to the Granta magazine's list of Best Young British Novelists has changed life a bit for her. It means meeting more people, giving more interviews. "In between everything, what I regret is when people seek my opinion on a lot of political and social issues. Authors enjoy (or regret) a very complicated social status. They are neither sociologists nor historians." It is the characters of the book, developing whom she spent two years of her life that she loves to talk about.

But then, she doesn't mind giving her opinion on certain things, like the deluge of authors in India and worldwide, which becomes all the more significant as she is doing a TV show featuring the young authors of Italy. "Readers will ultimately pick what is worth a read. As for authors, it's fine to have as many around, it at least promises variety."

On a bitter sweet note

There are authors who would give up anything (!) to be in the list of Granta magazine's Best of Young British Novelists. But then there is Xiaolu Guo, a British Chinese novelist, who doesn't spare much thought about it. In fact, she readily drops the introductory part of her being young, "I am forty and that's old enough. And being old has its own advantages, you stop expecting a lot of from yourself."

A film-maker and author of books like A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, 20 Fragments of Ravenous Youth…Xiaolu's early works mirrored her bitter experiences in China and the difficult situations she faced in life. "How couldn't it? My father was imprisoned in China for switching his profession. I had a terrible childhood." But with time, her work, she says has become more research based, rather than the story of her life. In all her works though, she has been critical of communism in China. "Like the case with India. The GDP is high but there is extreme poverty in some areas.

Writing to her is a form of meditation, where you have to snap ties with the outside world. "You have to be far removed from the world, both mentally and physically. You lose life, and in my case, I have already lost a lot of it." Her bitterness towards life stems from her experiences, and more than often becomes evident even during a casual conversation.


They belled the CAT
They cut down on their social life to study, learnt from their mistakes and now have emerged victorious. With a score of 99 percentile and above, these students tell us how

A winner never stops trying, said Tom Landry, the famous footballer and one of the most innovative coaches, football has ever seen. To try is the trick, if one goes by the successful candidates who have cleared the CAT. The CAT is the key to the best B- schools, including much sought after IIMs, and here is Chandigarh's best sharing their secret...

Learning from mistakes

Gagandeep Singh Pannu learnt from his mistakes to reach 99.97 percentile. Blessed with a strong mathematical brain, Gagandeep worked on English by devoting daily an hour-and-half reading newspapers and magazines. "I want to pursue MBA in finance so I read The Economist and The Wall Street Journal." Apart from that there was nothing much. Regular tests helped this guy know his weak points, who travelled and spent time with friends to relax. "Accuracy and time management work well in cracking CAT."

Consistency pays

Surbhi Gupta got 99.7 percentile in her third attempt. It was two to three hours of daily work plus weekends closed in her room studying. "I had to focus on quantitative, I knew and worked on that," says Surbhi, who believes consistency is the key. As she was preparing for the exam along with her job, Surbhi had to cut down her social life, though she took trips back home to refresh or a game of table tennis to focus better. "You can't study at the last hour and clear CAT, it has to be a continuous process," says this girl.

Smart work

Priyank Sood, who got 99.94, focused on getting the concepts clear. This final year PEC student stresses on how to optimise ones performance. "Knowing is one thing and how to perform well in exam is another. Regular mock tests at Bull's Eye helped me in that," says Priyank, who gives credit to his parents' unflinching support. As there is no syllabus for CAT, Priyank asks CAT aspirants to work on concepts. Sleep worked as the best antidote to stress for Priyank.

Never give up

Abhey Kapoor gave six to seven hours a day for two months to score a 99.57 percentile. Hardwork and perseverance are the keys to success, according to Abhey. "It's important to work hard and revise. Regular tests at Career Launchers helped me keep on track," says Abhey who already has calls from two IIMs. "Keep improving, just don't give up," says this boy who turns to music to unwind.

Work hard

Ambica Jain, masters in entrepreneurship from Panjab University, is elated at the call from IIM Shillong and keeping her fingers crossed for more! She has given months of study time, cutting on to her socialising and routine life and studying for about six to eight hours a day. "Commitment, determination and hard work are must to clear the CAT," says Ambica, who focused on her studies. "My parents and brother have been super supportive. They gave me complete privacy to study and motivated me," says Ambica, who spent time with her pet Pheo to unwind and there was walk and talk with her mum to relax by the end of the day. "It's very important to keep your cool at the exam. Pressure starts building up if one is not able to answer two or three questions at a row; and under pressure one can't give one's best even with questions that one knows well," Ambica shares her tip. "Take a break when you reach a saturation point but before losing out too much time, start again!"

Starting early is the key that Vikas Sawant, business head, Career Launchers, advises. "Since it is a computer-based exam, mock tests help score better," says Vikas. Hirdesh Madan, co-founder of Bull's Eye, who has been in this business for last 16 years, advises---keep focused. "With competition so tough, one cannot afford to fritter away one's energy. A lot of hard work coupled with single mindedness towards the goal sails one through," he says from his experience!


A slice from life
Shekhar Suman’s debut directorial venture Heartless aims at creating anaesthesia awareness. He talks more about it…
Ashima Batish

It could have been a run-of-the-mill film equipped with stunts, which puts the very human hero in the superhero bracket. It could have been a film about a good guy falling in love with a good girl, till a bad man spoils it all.

It could just have been a film with a storyline that's light on the grey cells, but Shekhar Suman, to relaunch his son in Bollywood, picked a script with a 'soul' or at least so he believes. The film titled Heartless is also his debut directorial venture, with an emotional chord connecting the project to his painful past. "It's a romantic thriller with a medical backdrop. The protagonist (Adhyayan Suman) suffers from a heart disease, which took my son Aayush away from me."

Coming from a family of doctors, Shekhar always had the blueprint of the film in his mind, but the research work, which largely focuses on creating anaesthesia awareness, took some time. "After being administered anaesthesia, the patient's body might go numb but in the semi-conscious state he can still hear doctors around or in some cases might even experience some pain, about which he can't inform the doctors," Shekhar talks about the subject of the film. He feels that Hindi cinema might be dominated by films minus any social message, but for him that is a very important aspect of film-making. "It's for this reason that a film like Taare Zameen Par and 3 idiots stay with people forever."

As for his son, Adyayan, the film will be a comeback post the sabbatical of two years. Shekhar calls it a much introspected move on behalf of his son, "Taking a break and figuring out the cinema he wants to do is a part of his evolution as an actor."Adhyayan was just 19 when he made his debut in the industry and considering that he has age on his side, a break hasn't cost him a lot. Adds Shekhar, "He wants to be an actor and not a star. He could have carried on regular boy-meet-girl-and-fell-in-love films but that's not his ambition."

Happy to have donned the role of the director, Shekhar hopes he has done justice to the sensitive storyline. He also wishes Hindi Cinema welcomes more such off-beat films, which are socially relevant and at the same time commercially viable. "We don't have film-makers now who consider film making an art. Rather the ones we have understand the pulse of audience and offer them what they want to see. It's our responsibility to expose them to cinema with a difference." If Heartless fits into that genre, only time will tell.


Brighter view
Amarjot Kaur

"There are two major reasons why someone would possibly want to go shopping for jewellery-one is to ornament themselves for aesthetic purposes and the other is for investment," says Vikram Raizada, executive director and CEO retail, Tara Jewels Ltd, as he announces the launch of the company's store at Bella Vista, Panchkula.

As he talks about the existing and changing trends in jewellery, he weaves it around the interests of the company, about the quality of which he speaks very fondly. "We are currently operating 40 company managed showrooms in 32 cities. We are delighted to bring the Tara Jewellers experience to the city because it is a very important market for us. Tara's entry into new markets is an effort to continue the shift from the unorganised market towards the organised sector."

He adds, "Tara Jewels Ltd with 17 years of experience in the international retail, features affordable luxury collections which are certified quality diamonds by international third party gem labs and BIS hallmarked gold. Also, the showroom also offers free gold purity testing and golden return monthly saving schemes." Meanwhile, while talking about the trends in jewellery, Vikram shares that the customers are opting for multi-purpose jewellery, even when it comes to wedding jewellery so that they can wear it over and over again. "Also, globalisation has propelled the modern Indian woman to experiment. So, they are embracing new cuts when it comes to diamond jewellery and are also opting for yellow gold," says he.

As a special inaugural offer, Tara Jewels is making charges as low as Rs 199 on gold Jewellery and is offering up to 20 per cent off on diamonds and design work.


Wall of fame

Browse wall: Customers have the opportunity to brush with the collections and pieces that are showcased on this wall with the pieces displayed vertically for the best browsing experience.

Education wall: A wall dedicated to helping customers understand the diamonds. Various technical aspects such as the 4 Cs, diamond quality ratings etc. are explained to help make a more informed purchase.

Open workshop: It enables customers to see the 'behind the scenes' of the craftsmanship and also watch any changes or repairs in utmost transparency.

Collections wall: An extensive wall where different category of jewellery i.e. neckpiece, earring etc are grouped together to form a set for customers to have a better styling option.

Consultation tables: The consultation tables offer customers the chance to sit and have in-depth discussion on their purchase options and get detailed information about the pieces from the trained staff.

Brush it aside

It's time to do away with sponge, brushes and fingers and apply air brush technique for make-up Any make-up is as good as the skills of the artist and the techniques of application. Air brush make-up is the latest to catch the attention of those in the industry and the ones in need of it. Who wouldn't want to do away with the sponges, brushes, fingers and the like?

"Air brush make-up is a technique where make-up is sprayed onto the skin using an airbrush instead of being applied with tools," shares artist Hema, technical trainer, Make Up Studio, in Chandigarh for a workshop at Indola Tressed up Academy and Salon. She adds, "The popularity of this technique stems from the fact that traditional make-up reveals itself if a lady wearing the same comes on HD television. Whereas a lady who uses airbrush technique to wear make-up is able to conceal the same on HD cameras."

This method was first used in 1959 on actors in the movie Ben Hur and has since grown in popularity in the entertainment, beauty and glamour business.

Before the application happens, there are a couple of things that need to be put in place. "All you need is a compressor, air gun and liquid foundation." She adds, "It is also hygienic in a way because you don't touch your skin. It is extremely good for people with allergies. Since nothing touches their skin save for liquid foundation."

A couple of practice sessions are worth the results. A natural looking you that need not worry about the high definition cameras that size you up in pixels!

— Manpriya Singh

Party all night

The night scene of Chandigarh is about to be electrified by a bar and night club unlike anything the city has ever seen before. Hippodrome at Park Plaza-17 with a tagline that reads 'Night comes to life', is the perfect place for quick pre-plated lunch options, the lounge feel in the evening which transforms into night club during weekends.

Also, being a part of a prestigious property the security of women is given utmost importance at all times.

The music at Hippodrome is a major draw. The menu will feature bar snacks and finger food prepared in a way that guests will come to enjoy appetizers and a cocktail before venturing for dinner and dessert. — TNS

Master Chef
An attractive combo
Manju Dewan

Combinations in food give variety for taste. Here we have used a fruit and a vegetable to make a colourful snack, which is quick to make and attractive to serve.

Mushroom with anar


8 pieces mushroom

1 cup pomegranate seeds

½ tsp garlic paste

1 onion (chopped)

½ tsp ginger paste

½ tsp green chilli paste

1 tsp vinegar


Salt to taste

Black pepper powder


  • Cut the stalks of the mushroom and scoop out a little portion from the mushrooms. Chop the stalks and scooped out portion and keep aside. Marinate the mushrooms with salt and black pepper powder.
  • Heat oil in a pan and sauté the mushrooms.
  • In a bowl, mix pomegranate seeds, chopped mushrooms, onions, garlic paste, ginger paste, green chilli paste, vinegar and salt. Keep aside for 10 minutes.
  • Fill the mixture in mushrooms. Bake the mushrooms in pre-heated oven for 5-10 minutes.
  • Serve hot

(Dewan is a Ludhiana-based culinary expert)

— As told to Poonam Bindra

Preeti frank about it!

In an industry filled with lies and hypocrisy when it comes to talking about relationships, Abhay Deol and his girlfriend Preeti Desai stand apart as a grand exception. The two have never been shy about their relationship. Preeti now will be making her Bollywood debut with Abhay Deol in One by Two. She talks about their relationship, the film and more.

First meeting

When we first met each other, we were just trying to figure each other out. It was this phase where every girl tries to know more about the other person and at such times no one knows how far a relationship will go. But then we were seen together and speculations of us dating came out even before we had actually started dating in reality. Then slowly, as we started liking each other, we thought it would be wise to come out in the open.

Still learning

Honestly speaking, Abhay is more open about our relationship than I am. I feel uncomfortable discussing about it because I am still learning bit by bit.

Marriage plans

I am not ready to get married. I will get married only when I want to settle down and have kids. Marriage for me is a full time job. Right now, I have so much to do. Moreover, Abhay and I are very happy being together the way we are and I don't think I need the approval or stamp of marriage for it.

Good and bad things

Good thing about him is that he is very caring and the bad thing is his habit of leaving his socks on the floor.

Character call

My character is called Samara Patel who is a professional dancer. She is ambitious and passionate and will give her 100 per cent to make her dreams successful. Samara is someone who started dancing right from the age of four and I had to look convincing in that role.

Guest appearance

Actress Juhi Chawla, who will be next seen in Gulaab Gang, has teamed up with singer Gurdas Maan for his upcoming Punjabi film Mummy Ji. Juhi, who will be in a guest role, is currently shooting for the film in Punjab.

However, this isn't the first time the two will be seen together. Gurdas Mann and Juhi Chawla shared screen space in the 2004 blockbuster film Des Hoyaa Pardes, an emotional film illustrating the tragedies faced by the people of Punjab in the 1980s.

Kajal’s Swiss fan

Singham and Spacial Chhabbis actress Kajal Aggarwal has just received a mail from a fan in Switzerland named Vino. She is touched by the gesture. She said, "When I opened the letter I was overwhelmed by Vino's way of expressing his affection towards me.

When fans go out of their way to express their love for you it feels incredible for any artist. A positive feedback like this from your fan definitely boosts your morale and makes you want to work even harder to continue pleasing them."


A role with a difference

Loving success: Divyanka Tripathi Divyanka Tripathi is happy about her show Ye Hai Mohobattein doing so well. The fast paced show by Ekta Kapoor has been warmly received. Divyanka talks about being a director's actress and how she got the show.

How is your equation with producer Ekta Kapoor?

I didn't know her before but I was waiting for a good project to come my way. I would say Ye Hai Mohobattein was God's call. I am lucky to get a show with Ekta Kapoor. And even if I waited for two years, it was worth it.

Loving success: Divyanka Tripathi

What do you think of your co-star Karan Patel?

He is a talented actor. He comes really well-prepared for his shoots. He slips into the character very easily, which makes me also feel confident about my part.

Are you a director's actress?

Yes I am. It depends a lot on what makers of the show want from me. I am happy that I have got amazing character.

The story of Custody has been changed quite a bit for the show. Are you fine with the changes?

Changes are important as we cater to an audience. And if people don't like the show we make then what is the point of making it. We have to ensure that the story is engaging.

What is your motto in life?

I believe in doing good work and not expecting results. I simply carry on.

When Sharad met Mr. Bachchan!

Sharad Kelkar, who was seen as Deepika Padukone's brother, Kanjibhai in Ramleela met Amitabh Bachchan on Saturday on the sets of Bhootnath, where Bachchan instantly recognised him, as they had worked together on TV commercials earlier. Also, Sharad was in KBC for a celebrity episode. He praised Sharad's performance in Ram Leela and said that he had seen the film for over three times. Both, Amitabh and Sharad chatted for over half an hour. "It was wonderful striking a conversation with Mr Bachchan. He is an institution in himself and that he acknowledged my performance in the film has encouraged me to a great extent," Sharad says.

Back with a bang

Shabbir Ahluwalia, who turned a producer with Savitri, will soon make a comeback on TV as an actor. He is in talks with Bhairavi Raichura and Nandita Mehra's for their next big show slated for Star Plus. It is apparently based on the hit American show, Missing. Shabbir is touted to play a cop in the show.

Teaming up: Sriti Jha Changing tracks

Sriti Jha, aka Ganga of Balika Vadhu, who quit the show a while ago, is in talks with Ekta Kapoor for her new TV show. Sriti left Balika Vadhu as her track wasn't getting enough prominence and she wanted to play the lead. Buzz is that Ekta's new show will replace her other hit show Pavitra Rishta.

Teaming up: Sriti Jha

New year, new season

DID Little Masters will soon be back on TV with a brand new season 3. The auditions for the same have started in multiple cities around the country. The dance competition has participants in the age limit of four and 13 years.

Retired hurt

Raqesh Vashisth and Ridhi Dogra will soon quit Nach Baliye. Raqesh had a knee injury last week when he was rehearsing and in the next episode, Ridhi will perform without him. After Kanica Maheshwari and her husband, they will be the second couple to leave due to an injury.

In his comfort zone

Karan Tacker has been taking it easy after his show Ek Hazaaron Mein Meri Behna Hai ended. He says that he isn't in a hurry to sign any new show but is waiting for something exciting and challenging. Though he has been linked to most of his co-stars, Karan claims to be happily single.

Quality over quantity

Priyal Gor is excited about her new role in Life OK's show Ek Boond Ishq, but clarifies that it's a cameo. She is in no hurry to sign a show and is having fun doing interesting but smaller parts in shows, like she did in MTV Webbed.

No kidding!

A group students participated in the National Taekowon-Do Championship in Bangalore. Vansha Kanojia, a student of Vivek High School, bagged the gold medal in individual sparring in female below 9 years, veteran colour belt section.

Kalki clears the air

If rumours are anything to go by then Huma Qureshi's closeness to Anurag Kashyap was the reason for the director's break up with Kalki Koechlin.

However, Kalki Koechlin vehemently denied the rumours and tweeted: "Jesus Christ can we please leave Huma alone?! My problems with Anurag have nothing to do with her!"

The couple is currently taking time apart from their two-and-a-half-year marriage.

The last resort

Ekta Kapoor's Milan Talkies to be directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia may finally go to Ayushmann Khurrana after Varun Dhawan was the last actor to walk out of it. Khurrana is in talks with the production house.

Golden girl

Priyanka Chopra was the only Indian celebrity to be present at the Golden Globes award ceremony 2014 in Los Angeles. She wore a Bibhu Mohapatra gown. Nominee Sandra Bullock wore a lovely gown by Prabal Gurung.

Big deal

Akshay Kumar-starrer It's Entertainment, which stars Tamannah Bhatia as the female lead, has been sold to PEN for a record deal of Rs 100 crore. The film will release in August and also stars Sonu Sood and Mithun Chakraborty.

So much in love

Huma Qureshi denies having any role to play in the separation of Anurag Kashyap and Kalki Koechlin but at a recent screening the two were inseparable and behaving like college sweethearts.

Food & fitness

Kareena Kapoor Khan is a total foodie. She believes in being healthy and fit instead of skinny. She does Pilates which keeps her in shape, flexible and energetic. She does not want to get skinny for any role now.

Takes and retakes

Farhan Akhtar and Vidya Balan did 21 retakes for a particular emotional scene in Shaadi Ke Side Effects because they burst out laughing in between, so the shot was canned after 21 retakes.

P Khurrana

ARIES: Being able to tie up all loose ends would be your priority today. Work would take up quite a bit of your time and attention but once you've dealt with it, things would ease out. Tarot message: Do not transact in uncertain matters. Lucky colour: Forest green Lucky number: 44

TAURUS: There could be a meaningful internal change in you. It would be beneficial and the results would be far-reaching. Start by mending strained relationships with family members.Tarot message: You gain by being practical; don't be emotional. Lucky colour: Saffron Lucky number: 35

GEMINI: Now would be the time to make some changes in your daily life. Don't let the drudgery of routine decrease your efficiency. As far as money is concerned, ensure that you spend wisely. Tarot message: Emphasise on spiritual needs. Lucky colour: Orange. Lucky number: 28

CANCER: The day may be more challenging than usual. As a result, you would have to exercise all your intuitiveness and be as realistic as possible. At work, efficient and organized work would bring good results. Tarot message: Be calm and dont react. Lucky colour: Cream. Lucky number: 32

LEO: Expressing what you feel is important and that is exactly what you would be doing today. Showing your love, support and friendship would be your key behavior. Tarot message: Don't waste an opportunity by not exploiting a contact. Lucky colour: Sea green Lucky number: 49

VIRGO: Concentrate on your core beliefs, values and morals. Relaxing and spending time with friends and family today would keep your physical and mental health in great shape. Tarot message: Consolidate your gains and be cautious. Lucky colour: White Lucky number: 26

LIBRA: Businessmen would be able to rely on influential friends for the same. Similarly, if there are people who owe you money, meet them now and ask for it. Health needs attention. Tarot message: Ability to state the truth is your strong point. Lucky colour: Rainbow pastels Lucky number: 62

SCORPIO: Decision making should be quicker. Believe in yourself and use both your head and heart when dealing with various issues. Your partner and you would be willing to adjust, co-operate with love, joy and contentment. Tarot message: Avoid frictions with business partners. Lucky colour: Brown Lucky number: 57

SAGITTARIUS: For health reasons, it is important that you don't worry about minor things excessively. Those of you planning to invest in speculative ventures may face some hurdles. Tarot message: Your own aims, ideas, opinion matter a lot. Lucky colour: Grey Lucky number: 38

CAPRICORN: Finances and health would not be a major concern, but this would be a good time to get routine tests done. Relationships, marriage and friendships would be the highlight of the day. Tarot message: Act righteously and do your duties on time. Lucky colour: Ebony Lucky number: 41

AQUARIUS: This would be a day for love and romance and singles may form special and lasting relationships. In relationships, you may think a lot and communicate less. Tarot message: Your determination to succeed will pay dividends. Lucky colour: Pale yellow Lucky number: 52

PISCES: With the presence of Mercury in your sign, you would be able to handle any disappointment that comes your way either at work or in personal relationships. Tarot message: Use your instincts to get into the top circle of power. Lucky colour: Lotus pink. Lucky number: 63

Madan Gupta Spatu

If your birthday is January 16...

The sum of 2014 that is 7 coincides with your date which ensures a trouble free time to come. You would enter into a very social and positive phase. There would be ample opportunities to meet friends and have a positive period with spouse or partner. Travel will also take place during this time; there could be opportunities of celebration in the family. Interesting months for love and romance could be March, May, mid June to mid July, October, mid November to early December 2014.Chances of disputes are foreseen. Dissatisfied employees should look at VRS offers .You may have a good cash flow. Good health and energy is ensured before end of January. You would have good physical and mental health. Professional travel for new opportunities could be in the offing. Apply for plots.

Positive colours: White, sky blue, cream, yellow

Select days: Monday & Sunday

Favourable numbers: 2, 7

Gems recommended: Pearl, rose quartz, diamond

Charity on birthday: Donate religious or text books, stationery to the needy.

You share your birthday with Kabir Bedi (January 16, 1946, Punjab), a Bollywood actor who worked in Hollywood and became a star in Europe. He starred in The Bold And The Beautiful. Kabir will shine again in 2015 as per stars but domestic bliss will elude him.

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | E-mail |