Monday, November 28, 2011

A nutty thanksgiving

My favourite place to visit in Singapore is the Long Bar at the Raffles; it’s a remarkable experience to sip on the famed Singapore Sling, munch on peanuts and gleefully toss the shells on the floor. Not quite proper behaviour in upmarket establishments but this is a time-honoured tradition at the gorgeous colonial-style hotel.

This is the time of the year that Bangalore goes nuts too. Literally so, with mounds of the brown pods piling up for a few days. This is the season of the annual Kadalekai parashe – the groundnut or peanut fair.

The fair is centred around the Bull Temple in Basavanagudi. Legend has it that the statue was built in homage to a bull that used to rampage through these areas when they were farmlands. When the bull defied all attempts to stop it, the farmers resorted to prayers. They promised to offer the first groundnut harvest to the bull each year if it would leave the crop unharmed. The bull acquiesced and the tradition continues with the mammoth stone bull being bedecked with a garland of groundnuts after the harvest.

Another version says that the bull turned into stone when an angry farmer flung his club at it. It kept growing in size even as the penitent farmers built a temple to enshrine it. The people prayed to Lord Shiva who stopped its growth by piercing a trident through its head.

Bull Temple
Whichever version suits your fancy, the tradition of local thanksgiving continues with grateful farmers from far and beyond making a special trip to the Dodda Basava (big bull) temple with their crop during the Kartika masa (in November – December).

The accompanying fair becomes a playground for parents and kids alike. Suffused with a carnival spirit, kids have plenty of games to play and adults browse through several stalls to purchase knick-knacks.

The Bull temple and adjacent well-maintained park has been a favourite picnic spot through the years at other times of the year as well. An adventure sequence in a Kannada film in which I acted as a kid was shot here. Armed with badminton racquets, a group of kids thrashed villains and freed our kidnapped friend. Hurray! Another bit of personal nostalgic trivia hinges around the fact that my mother visited the fair on the evening before I was born. Perhaps that explains why I am so fond of peanuts.

Kadalekai Parashe
Along with the games and shopping, it’s a treat to eat a variety of peanuts – plain, salted, boiled, roasted not just from different parts of Karnataka but also from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

Over the years, the fair has been growing in scale and there are vendors of chaat and dosas; yet it’s a festival that takes this growing urban sprawl to its rural roots. The kadalekai parashe is a quaint custom relived complete with the old system of measuring the quantity by the cylindrical ‘paav’ and ‘litre’ instead of grams and kilos.

By Sandhya Mendonca (Sandhya Mendonca writes a weekly column for the Herald Goa)

Read the story on Goa Herald on the link below:

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Southern Storm

‘Kolaveri Di’ by Dhanush is a viral hit
Wondering what people have been posting as their status updates? They are saying “Why this kolaveri di?”

This is the song that has got India rocking in a tizzy and is making not only Tamil Nadu but the world trip on it, thanks to the YouTube clip. 

Sung by Dhanush, son-in-law of superstar Rajnikanth, the music is composed by newcomer Anirudh Ravichandar from the upcoming Tamil movie ‘3’ directed by Dhanush’s wife Aishwarya. It stars Dhanush and Shruti Hassan. 
Dhanush recording 'Kolaveri di'
“The soup song”, as the singer calls it, was a spontaneous burst of funny lyrics. Anirudh had composed the tune which Dhanush picked up in the recording studio and simply started singing what came to his head. 

The result is a happy song set and catchy lyrics in Tam-English; the team had so much fun with it that they recorded it straight away and uploaded the video on YouTube. Within a few days, it has become the new addictive taste and there are different versions coming up each day as a tribute to it including a Carnatic version where the whacky lyrics are sung in perfect tempo to a raga. 

‘Why this kolaveri di?’ can be loosely translated as, ‘why are you killing me, woman?’ This is one song that isn’t killing softly; it has grossed one million hits and more on its YouTube page, a record for any Indian song and especially the Tamil music industry. Tamil songs have ruled the roost in the South with both soulful and peppy original compositions; Ilayaraja and AR Rehman are of course legends in their own time with international repute. 
The team behind 'Kolaveri di'
Kolaveri’s composer Anirudh Ravichandar is 21. This Chennai lad is one of the youngest music directors to enter the film Industry. ‘3’ is his debut and a brilliant kick-start to his career. 

What are you doing still reading this? Go catch the song on YouTube. 

Lyrics of Kalaveri Di:

Hello Boys.. I am Singing Song…Soup Song.. Flop Song..

Why This Kolaveri Kolaveri Kolaveri Di? Why This Kolaveri Kolaveri Kolaveri Di? Why This Kolaveri Kolaveri Kolaveri Dee? Why This Kolaveri? Di..

Distance’la Moon’nu Moon’nu Moon’nu Color’ru White’tu White’tu Background Night’tu Nigth’tu Night’tu Color’ru Black’ku

Why This Kolaveri Kolaveri Kolaveri Dee? Why This Kolaveri Kolaveri Kolaveri Di?

White’tu Skin’nu Girl’lu Girl’lu Girl’lu Heart’tu Black’ku Eyes’su Eyes’su Meet’tu Meet’tu My Future Dark’ku..

Why This Kolaveri Kolaveri Kolaveri Di? Why This Kolaveri Kolaveri Kolaveri Di?

Mama, Notes Eduthuko..Apdiye Kaila Snacks Eduthuko..Papapa Papapapa Papapa Pa Pa..Šeriya Vaasi..Šuper Mama Ready.. Ready 1 2 3 4..What A Change Over Mama Agaim Mama.. Nøw Tune Change’ju..

Kaila Glass’su.. Only Ènglish’sa..Hand’la Glass’su Glass’la Šcøtch’chu Èyes’su Full’la Tear’ru Èmpty Life’fu, Girl Cøme’mu Life’fu Reverse’su Gear’ru Løve’vu Løve’vu Oh My Løve’vu Yøu Šhøw Tø Me Pøw’vu Cøw’vu Cøw’vu Køzhi Cøw’vu I Want Yøu Here Nøw’vu Gød I am Dying Nøw Šhe Is Happy Høw’vu? This Šøng’gu Pass Tø Bøys’su We Døn’t Have Chøice’su

Why This Kølaveri Kølaveri Kølaveri Di Why This Kølaveri Kølaveri Kølaveri Di Why This Kølaveri Kølaveri Kølaveri Dee Why This Kølaveri Kølaveri Kølaveri Di

Fløp Šøng..

- Aditya Mendonca/Raintree Media Features/
Read the story in the Goa Herald on link below 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Reaching for the skies

Sublime Galleria, a sky gallery designed to ‘inspire awe’ is the versatile Uzma Irfan’s latest offering to art lovers in Bangalore.

On a late winter afternoon, the narrow bridge connecting the towers of UB City cuts a striking picture. Newly converted to host the Sublime Galleria, the breathtaking location is the latest art space in Bangalore. Its founder, Uzma Irfan, hopes to make it a platform for young, upcoming artists.
It is light and airy with generous sunlight streaming through the glass windows, the unframed art work suspended along its length. Outside, the muted hustle and bustle of city life flows on. As dusk nears, the LED lights, that cast no shadow on the artwork, come on. 

“UB City has been a destination for art lovers for many years now, with dedicated events such as Art Bengaluru, which has helped put the city on the global art scene. Hence, this was a natural choice to introduce India’s first ‘Sky Galleria’, overlooking the spectacular panorama of the Garden City. It aims to be a refreshing concept, providing visitors with a unique experience of being suspended in mid-air while browsing through Fine Art,” says Irfan, who is also the Executive Director of Corporate Communications for the Prestige Group. 
Her previous associations with art have included organising the Art Bengaluru festival. She has also handled solo art shows and aspired to do something more to promote the artists and keep them motivated. Her father, Irfan Razack, Chairman and Managing Director of Prestige Group, suggested a gallery would be just the thing. 

She says, “Sublime Galleria was created with a vision to support young and upcoming artists and I believe that this has been achieved to a large extent over the last year. The new-look Sublime will cater to a wider selection of artists with their artworks being on display around the year.” 
Irfan hopes that the Galleria will evolve into a space where artists and art lovers can gather to discuss art or to muse or to simply seek inspiration. 

Right now, the Galleria has on board eighteen artists and photographers on a contract for three months. During this time, they will be mentored to help bring out their best. 

It is an eclectic collection that greets you at the gallery, ranging over diverse art media. Farah Ahmed’s ‘Negative Aesthetics’ was a happy accident on Photoshop. Srividya GS’s choice is watercolours while Amina Shazi finds her expression in digital art. Photographer Ashish Parmar captures a pair of ants in the Chorla Ghats in ‘Macro Love’ and Manoj Masand works his magic with ‘Seed Chemistry’ and ‘Rhythmic Texture’. Another artist, Pragya Jain describes her work, “The core of my art is energy. Each of my works contains a colour story, and the story at all times is a cheerful one.” 
Uzma Irfan
Experimental and individualistic, every artist stands out and holds his own at the gallery. As Irfan rightly says, “At the Sublime Galleria, the artist is the hero.” 

Anuradha Prasad/ Raintree Media Features/ 
Read the story in Goa Herald on link below:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A musical conclave: India Music Week

Over 40 Indian and European artists are ‘celebrating the spirit of pure music’ across three cities.
As an exciting festive winter chill blows across the country, India Music Week (IMW) has set the ball rolling for a brilliant season of live music. 

Featuring over 40 acts, the line-up combines a mix of some of the biggest names in the Indian indie scene and an eclectic collection of European jazz/electronica artists. 

In addition to the performances, the festival’s inaugural edition features a two-day music conference at Delhi’s Eros Hotel. 
The Raghu Dixit Project, Soulmate, Thermal And A Quarter, Motherjane, Ska Vengers, Menwhopause, KK and Parikrama are among the Indian artists, while French Reunion Island chanteuse Stephanie Thazar, German electronica trio Jahcoozi, Norwegian electro-soul producer Mathias Stubø, German swing band BuJazzO and Norwegian eclectic pop duo Mari & Stein make up the European leg of the event. 

The festival also features some interesting Indian-tinged electronica from acts like Sattyananda Electro-Classical, Hamza & Lateef, Hari & Sukhmani, Shantam as well as some of Indian electronica’s most famous beat junkies like Teddy Boy Kill, Ma Faiza, Arjun Vagale & Ashvin (Jalebee Cartel) and B.L.O.T. 
Amit Saigal
As Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi rock to some amazing tunes, we bring you an exclusive interview with Amit Saigal of Rock Street Journal [RSJ], the owner and promoter of IMW:

Q. How does it feel organizing such an amazing festival across the country?
It is exciting! And at the same time, it is quite a task in terms of managing the logistics of several gigs happening simultaneously across Delhi , Mumbai and Bangalore each day between the 16 and 20 of November. But right now, there is this great anticipatory buzz!

My first gig was on November16 with Jaff Lang & Bobby Singh and Soulmate playing at Lodi in Delhi. 

Q. Three cities – Bangalore, Mumbai & Delhi – amazing venues and amazing artists. What goes into the R&D of getting the right bands on your gig list?
I have personally curated this festival with the best artists that I thought should be on it! So I actually think they are all fantastic in their respective styles and genres.. Jeff Lang for sure...he is amazing. Mimetic, Raghu Dixit, Soulmate, Stephanie Thazar...actually, why am I even trying to pick bands...!

Q. Being the pioneers of creating and pushing Independent rock music in India, how does it feel now in 2011 at RSJ?
Things are coming of age in India. The scene is maturing, and many credible, interesting artists are emerging. The time is just right for a project like India Music Week to present this melting pot of diverse independent artists in one mega festival

Q. This year's line-up has a wide range of genres. Can we have your take?
I personally listen to and like many different styles of music, and I think that is what is also happening in the scene in India as well.

For a detailed schedule with dates, venue details and acts, go to India Music Week’s Facebook page or log onto

-Aditya Mendonca/ Raintree Media Features / 

Read the story published in the Goa Herald on link below:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A sensory journey

With the first thrill of winter’s chill gently upon us, there’s a tangible buzz of Christmas cheer already.

A fun activity that has caught the fancy of most top hotels is the mixing of the Christmas cakes and puddings. I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the ITC Windsor as, donning caps, aprons and gloves (looking like Masterchef aspirants), we poured mountains of sultanas, walnuts and other assorted dry fruits and casks of liquor on to tables with generous chunks of butter.

I felt a tad guilty for not going to the ITC Gardenia’s cake mix and auction but one can’t be whizzing around to all the parties in town. Writing and editing is hard work, though it might not appear so!

Not wanting to play favourites between the two hotels, I decided to take my custom to the Gardenia’s spa. Six hours later, I came out feeling a new woman and two young men said to me that I must visit spas more often. Was I damned with faint praise or did the marvelous Mia and her assistants work a miracle? Read on.

Mia Munshi, the Spa Manager, is from Singapore and has worked extensively with global luxury resorts and hotels. She gave up a high profile career in advertising, when on a holiday in India she came across aromatherapy. “I found my calling,” she told me and went on to explain how she learnt all about picking jasmine buds to extract the right scent and the healing power of massage. She lectures in spa academies and is on TV and radio sharing her experience, techniques and demonstration.

The spa Ayurveda room
The expertise and attunement to the senses of touch and smell is what made my session at Kaya Kalp one of the best in my life. Like with all guests, Mia consulted me for my preferences. Then she guided me to treatments and the products that would suit my skin before leaving me in the safe hands of her staff who were trained at the spa academy in Agra.

My mind boggled at the choice of traditional Indian and international therapies, and I finally opted for a pomegranate body scrub – made all the more exotic with the rich red fruit picked from Himachal Pradesh.

The ITC Gardenia caters to high-end business travellers and offers 30 different treatments and therapies. One of the highest selling treatments is a half hour tension reliever massage that concentrates on the back, neck and shoulders, excellent for a pre or post business meeting. I wanted more, and asked for a ninety minute de-stressing aromatherapy massage and a combination skin facial using products from the luxury brand Pevonia.

Kaya Kalp
I was assured that the products were botanical extracts that do not contain perfume or artificial ingredients. The finale was a pedicure that was a complete sensory delight pedicure, again with products and nail polishes free of harmful ingredients. As if the going so far was not great already, my chair had a built-in massager to boot.

The name Kaya Kalp is coined from the Sanskrit words kaya which means ‘the physical self, body or skin’, and kalp which means ‘to rejuvenate, invent or change’. The aim is to give ‘rejuvenation of mind, body and soul’.

If you want a similar spa journey of relaxation and rejuvenation, you could check into the ITC Gardenia. One of the finest ‘green’ hotels in the world, its vertical gardens and naturally cooled spaces make it a remarkable experience in responsible luxury.

By Sandhya Mendonca (Sandhya Mendonca writes a weekly column for the Herald Goa)

Read the story on the Goa Herald on the link below:

Celebrating Indi music

The Bacardi NH7 Weekender, that celebrates the best bands from India, looks set to become India's premier music festival.

Pune’s pleasant weather and happy people once again play host to the Bacardi NH7 Weekender’s Happiest Music Festival in its second year; its organiser, OML has joined hands with UTV Interactive this year. The festival packs a whole lot of tunes into a three-day blast, promising to keep folks moving to the rhythm of music.

An impressive number of bands will take to the stage this year; over 60 bands will keep the music alive. Spread across multiple stages - the Bacardi Black Rock Arena, the Dewarists Stage and the Eristoff Wolves Den - the festival features performances by artists from India and around the world, from underground artists that usually feature on your playlist to award-winning artists you have been waiting to see on Indian soil.

 Jalebee Cartel’s Ash Roy says, “I am really looking forward to playing there. I am going to enjoy the whole experience as an artist as well as an audience because there are so many other brilliant artists performing.”

Dualist Inquiry a.k.a Sahej Bakshi is equally thrilled about the range of artists that are part of the festival. He says, “This is one of the most exciting events on my calendar this year. The awesome lineup caters to every kind of music lover and provides a platform for Indian artists to play alongside their international counterparts.”

It is not all about the music. In between acts you can mosey around and maybe even get a tattoo or body art at a tattoo convention that is taking place on the sidelines.

Ask him how happy is the happiest festival and Vishal Dadlani from Pentagram says, “NH7 is one of the happiest festivals I have ever been too. It is not just a PR spin. There is real love and joy in the air. The fact that it is in its second year, means that they got it right. Hopefully, it will grow even more, from here. OML is doing a killer job, their hearts are in the right place!”

Randolph Correia of Shaa’ir + Func concurs and promises that “if last year was super, this year will be supersonic.”

For more details, tickets and line-up, visit

By Aditya Mendonca / Raintree Media Features/ 

Read the story on the Goa Herald on the link below:

Friday, November 18, 2011

Eternal spring in Goa

Bangalore-based artist Shan Re debuts in Goa with her latest collection in aid of Tara Trust, this Saturday.

In a colourful mélange celebrating the different hues of life, Shan Re will unveil her most recent collection, ‘The Eternal Spring’ in a 200-year-old colonial structure whose name translates as ‘rainbow’ in Portuguese, in aid of Tara Trust, an NGO which works for underprivileged women and children (, this Saturday.

The Bangalore-based artist could not have chosen a better location or a better collection or a better cause to espouse for her Goan debut.

The splendid Arco Iris boutique homestay
The elegantly restored Arco Iris boutique homestay which is built on a sprawling 1.5 acre property in Curtorim in South Goa and ensconced in lush greenery overlooking a beautiful lake, will be the setting for the blissful burst of colours of Re’s ‘The Eternal Spring’. For Re, this series inspired by nature and spirituality is a metaphor for preservation of inner peace in a time of chaos and conflict.

Re is known for her soulful exploration of a variety of subjects and genres from abstract expressionism and minimalism to figuration and geometric abstraction. Her works don the private collections of His Highness Srikantadatta Wodeyar, filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola and actress Jackie Collins, to name a few, and she has held exhibitions in India and abroad.

A painting by Shan Re from the Eternal Spring collection
The artist whose work is ‘guided purely by flashes of intuition’, talks about her debut show in Goa:

Q. How did the idea for a charity show come about?

Over the years, I’ve participated in several charity art shows. Since art is often associated with the privileged few, it would be great if the resources of the artist, art collectors and art lovers could be channelled to contribute to the underprivileged in our society.

Q. Why did you choose Tara Trust?

I heard from my friends in Goa about the good work that Tara Trust has been doing in support of women and children. They are a non profit organisation with a mission to educate and empower the underprivileged. Since this is a cause that is close to my heart I decided to contribute in my own small way as an artist.

Shan Re
Q. Have you done similar charity shows before?

Yes, I’ve participated in art shows in support of HCG Foundation, Christel House, Concern India and Mallige Foundation, and I would always be interested in being involved in a charity art show.

Q. Any particular reason for choosing the 'Eternal Spring' for this particular show?

The venue for the show is Arco Iris, a heritage bungalow set in a beautiful landscape so this series would fit in well with the ambience. Secondly, ‘The Eternal Spring’ is a series that exudes positive energy and is rendered in vibrant colours and this seemed apt for a charity show in Goa. This is my most recent collection. It has been my endeavour to portray a kind of eternal beauty and to capture tranquillity, silence and light in a simple yet powerful poem that invokes the glory of nature.

A painting by Shan Re from the Eternal Spring collection
Q. Is this your first exhibition in Goa?

Yes, this is my first show in Goa and I’m looking forward to the experience.

Q. How was the response to your last show, the retrospective 'The Unfolding of the Self' in Bangalore? Do you plan to hold the show anywhere else in the near future?

The show was very successful. It was well received by critics, art lovers and buyers. I consider this show an important milestone in my career. I’m hoping to take this show to Delhi in the near future.

The exhibition will be on till December 3. For details, contact: Bennita +919604964482 / 

By Remuna Rai/Raintree Media Features/

Read the story on the Goa Herald on the link below:

Good will hunting

Touted by SAP Labs as the fastest product to be developed and released in India (it took all of 90 days!), the online portal,, went live on 19 October in India and was launched in Madrid on 10 November. ‘ChariTra’ is abbreviated from ‘charity transformation’ and also means ‘character’. VR Ferose, Managing Director, SAP Labs India, says it was created with the intent ‘to convert needs to action and to build a bridge between systems of giving’.

Ferose goes back to a year ago when they were brainstorming about how to provide computer education to 100,000 children, free of cost and in a sustainable way, and how this became possible when they matched the excess to the needs. 

SAP Labs India Managing Director VR Ferose
They did what they do best – used the technology they have for a good cause. And what’s more, they now have 1.7 lakh customers with assets, and this customer base covers a wide spectrum of businesses from airlines to pharmaceuticals. Ferose points out that with Corporate Social Responsibility becoming a legal necessity, the website would be an ideal environment for connecting business networks.

A core team of 12 were brought together, headed by Ganapathy Subramanian, Vice President of Design & New Applications, to get the project off the ground. Subramanian explains how they used ‘design thinking’ and took inputs from volunteers at every stage to make the website more user friendly. The website is supported by SAP HANA, a high speed analytical application.

As a volunteer you can register on the website and based on your skills, time and interests, make a commitment to the social causes being promoted by non-profit organisations. You can also network with like-minded volunteers.

ChariTra, the online portal
When a non-profit organisation creates a cause it is moderated and published on the website within 24 hours. Currently, they have an unofficial tie-up with Bangalore Care to moderate activities being posted. Financial transactions on the website are a big no-no.

Subramanian recalls the speedy response that they received when a visually challenged girl required a laptop for a banking exam. She got one within two days of the cause being posted on ChariTra. The website also served as the default platform for the ‘Joy of Giving’ week when it registered a high volunteer activity as well as the ‘Month of Service’ at SAP, part of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility.

The online portal continues to evolve as new features are being added to make it more accessible and user friendly. They plan to customise recommendations based on each user’s profile and to stay connected through social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

The website has 6000 users at present and 4000 promises have been met; the company’s intent to run the world in a better way is gathering momentum with ChariTra. And what does ChariTra bring back to the company? “The biggest value we get is good will,” says Ferose.

By Anuradha Prasad/ Raintree Media Features/

Read the story on the Goa Herald on the link below:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Framing the tree of life

A documentary on eminent artist SG Vasudev is a celebration of light and colour and explores the personal life of the artist and his artistic development. 

On a perfect Bangalore day crisp with the winter sun and in the company of intelligent people, the National Gallery of Modern Art was the perfect venue to watch a film on one of my favourite artists and local heroes, SG Vasudev, especially as he was instrumental in setting up the gallery.

‘The Open Frame’ is a simple and warm film; it tells the story of a boy from Mysore who journeys to Madras (Chennai) and grows to become one of the founders of the famous Cholamandal art village.

The early stirrings of his talent, sketches hidden from his farmer father and housewife mother, the encouragement from a discerning art lover are traced through black and white stills. Young Vasu meets KCS Panicker, the doyen of the Madras School of Arts, wins a national scholarship and his art blooms, nurtured in the fertile environment of fellow artists, writers and musicians. Love flowers too, when he meets a young Parsi artist, Arnawaz.

SG Vasudev
The narrative gently blends the story of the young couple setting up home in the Cholamandal commune, the birth of their son and tragically, Arnawaz succumbing to cancer. Vasu moved to Bangalore but goes back to paint at times in Cholamandal. The Arnawaz Vasudev Charities Trust keeps her memory alive by encouraging young artists.

New beginnings bring new inspirations, new love in the form of journalist Ammu Joseph and the new homes that the couple have built; Vasu’s quiet and simple expression of love for both his wives is heartwarming.

Enlivening the narrative with his piquant humour, writer Girish Karnad ribs, “All men seek the qualities of their mothers in the women they marry, apparently, and I feel it’s been the case with Vasu as I find the same strong independent and forthright qualities in both Arnawaz and Ammu.”

Copper relief of Tree of Life by SG Vasudev
Compatriots from Chennai and Bangalore add nuances and depth to Vasu’s character, fleshing out the persona of the artist who draws his inspiration from literature and music. At times, conversations bring in sepia tones of nostalgia but the powerful vitality of his art pre-dominates. As he paints, carefully structuring layers of colour, strains of his favourite Indian classical music flow around the studio.

Dr. Lata Mani, who has handled the research and interviews, captures an easy flow of speech. The cinematography is by Navroze Contractor with original music by Prasanna. Chetan Shah, the director, is another old friend of Vasu from Chennai and says he has deliberately refrained from dealing with Vasu’s artistic oeuvre; the hour-long documentary is a companion piece to the art shows.

The film starts with Vasudev contemplating a blank canvas and the narrative weaves in and out as the canvas progresses and ends with him finishing a painting. The film segues to the processing of his famed copper reliefs and tapestries as he collaborates with master craftsmen. Working on one such piece in his farm, Vasu mulls over the trajectory of his life – of a farmer’s son coming back to the land. Characterised by such uncomplicated and honest statements, ‘The Open Frame’ is a simple story, told simply.

By Sandhya Mendonca (Sandhya Mendonca writes a weekly column for the Herald Goa)

Read the column on the Goa Herald on the link below: 


Friday, November 11, 2011

Colour me orange!

Quite literally a house of treasures and quirky to boot, The Orange Bicycle woos the imaginative and the free-spirited.

Frangipani decked tresses, curious coquettish eyes, and orange cycles wheeling their way across - that is what stops you in your tracks as you pass by what would otherwise be an ordinary house in Indiranagar, a neighbourhood in Bangalore.

Stepping out of the bright glare of the afternoon into the cool store, you feel like Alice, transported to a whole new utterly, deliciously crazy realm, the beautifully crafted wonderland that The Orange Bicycle is. And for a moment you are that girl again, sunburnt cheeks with windblown hair careening wildly on an orange bicycle down a road flanked by golden fields, carefree and unrestrained.

The Orange Bicycle
It is a mixed bag of merchandise that has you squealing with delight as you dash from the über-cool bags and clutches to the coasters and mugs, and then again to the jewellery and paintings, and oh, the dresses and the wraps! Elvis Presley, Audrey Hepburn, Amitabh Bachchan and even a Mughal emperor or two peer out at you from cushion covers and bags. You can even take home a miniature bicycle.

Clutches at The Orange Bicycle
The store, which completes one year in November, was started by four women with an eye for the unusual. Gunjan Khaitan Shahbadi, one of the partners comes with a background in Marketing Communications. She talks about how they started out, by word of mouth. A few feelers were sent out to friends from NID and NIFT and before long, they had 70 suppliers!

The Orange Bicycle
 For a brand to make the cut and be sold at The Orange Bicycle, it has got to be quirky, unique, with a story behind it. There are clothes by Prink Tonic and Vani, jewellery by Sanchali and Sylver String, home décor by Kaji, Vineeta Nair and Soul Kitchen, accessories by Anek Designs, and furnishings by CCube, Raj Boori and Nir Home Studio. These are just a few of the 90 suppliers who are adding their colour and story to the store.

So why The Orange Bicycle? Shahbadi says, “We wanted a colour in our name that would signify our core competency. Orange fit the bill. It is fresh, tangy and young. And as for bicycle, we wanted to tell women to come and take a ride with us and discover happiness.”

The Orange Bicycle
Shahbadi adds, “The store is for a person with an aesthetic appeal; someone who wants to look different, make a style statement, loves experimenting with colours, and likes to try out new things.”

The store’s growing fan base have a lot to look forward to as the year draws to a close – more swoon-worthy merchandise that may include products under The Orange Bicycle label, and a new display to keep the orange-ness alive and to keep the wheels turning.

By Anuradha Prasad/ Raintree Media Features/

Read the story on the Goa Herald on the link below:

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

A journey in space

What happens when art meets technology and wants to make a nomadic home in a city choking for space? The answer is as simple as Jaaga, which in Kannada, means ‘space’.

Back in 2009, a structure draped in tarpaulin popped up almost overnight on Rhenius Street. Its neighbours driven by curiosity took a few tentative steps towards it. Two years later, the nomadic Jaaga has found a new home on KH Road and has grown into something more than just a passing curiosity, into a living work of art and innovation.

Jaaga’s co-founders and directors, Archana Prasad with a background in Fine Arts, and Freeman Murray, an angel investor and technologist, sought to create a space to engage the community in innovative efforts revolving around art, technology and social activism. ‘Jaaga’, a Kannada word, translates to ‘space’.

It is no ordinary space. Jaaga is designed ‘to engage and exist without weighing heavily on the earth’s limited natural resources’. It is like a DIY kit which can be assembled in less than a day and dismantled as easily. Pallet rack shelving, paper honeycomb walls, plywood flooring, tarpaulin, and recycled and reusable material are the core materials that make up this modular structure. A green wall and a sculpture greet you at first glance.

On what she expects out of Jaaga, Prasad says, “I am really interested to learn how a prototype like Jaaga, when made and used, will challenge the artists-designers working in it, the neighbourhood it is located in, and eventually challenge the notion that permanence is desirable.”

Murray says, “My trajectory is clearly pointing towards finding that environment in which we can be optimally productive and happy at the lowest cost. I believe it will involve pallet racks, the internet, yoga and local organic leafy green salads.”

Prasad and Murray are backed by their team, Naresh Narasimhan, the Chairperson, Sean Blagsvedt, Advisor and Kiran DSilva, Facilities Manager, and a host of volunteers, collaborators and visiting artists.

Since its inception, true to form, Jaaga has played host to numerous innovative, community-based projects and exhibitions by artists. The Neighbourhood Diaries sought to capture the history of Bangalore neighbourhoods and started with Whitefield. Prasad collaborated with Krupa Rajangam of Savthu on this project. Urban Bengaluru was a photography exhibition while Jaaga Sound & Lights was a lighting and sound installation by German sound and theater artist, Tobias Rosenberger.

Jaaga Media Centre seeks to promote digital media and Jaaga also opens its doors to media students interested in interning with experts and invites expert collaborators and fellows.

Jaaga's green wall
Some recurring events include Poetry Across Borders, Pecha Kucha (Japanese for ‘chit chat’), Media Mayhem and Hackathon. Conceived in Japan, Pecha Kucha nights are for architects. It is a presentation of 20 slides for 20 seconds each and Jaaga has partenered with Venkataramanan Associates to bring the Pecha Kucha nights. Poetry Across Borders are poetry readings, where poetry circles from Bangalore, Melbourne and Berlin come together through a live exchange.

You can also look in on organic markets, the Second to None flea market (the next one is said to be scheduled for Nov 12), and browse through the neat Jaaga Stuff. Jaaga today is registered as a Public Charitable Trust.

French artist and Expert Fellow at Jaaga, Clemence Barret blogs, “In spite of its heterogeneous components, Jaaga has a uniqueness due to its personality: non-judgmental, it is in search for an alter-modernity; happy and warm, it is longing for re-inventing a creative, common world made by local as well as global exchanges.”

By Anuradha Prasad/ Raintree Media/

Read the story on the Goa Herald on the link below:


Saturday, November 05, 2011

The painter of lotuses

"I have lived much of my life as a recluse, shunning the glitter associated with the art world. I have made every conscious attempt to avoid getting labeled as an artist. 

I prefer the anonymity of my doodles and my silent pursuit of colour and forms. Naming them or intellectualising the process of these simple acts would certainly be an act of lying to myself," Milind Nayak.

One day, while visiting friends in good old Malleswaram, one of the pockets of old Bangalore, my late husband Allen scooped up a bowl of water cresses from their garden. We went on to a tiny house with a garden in Koramangala that was Milind Nayak’s studio for sometime.

Milind Nayak
We found that Milind had painstakingly dug out a pond and was busy filling in water. The pond became the new home for the watercress and they proliferated along with the lotuses that joined them. The rest of the garden bloomed too, and was for all of us a creative retreat, where we sipped jasmine tea and inhaled the heady smells of paints wafting from the open doors of the studio, sometimes talking, sometimes just sitting in quiet solitude.

Milind says he had always dreamt was of having a garden with lotuses from when he was a child. Growing up in Udupi, he was smitten by the sight of lush paddy fields in which lotus flowers bloomed. He studied the pond with great intent whenever he had free time.

Painting by Milind Nayak
The childhood fascination continued to enthrall him. As the plant in his pond started blooming, he discovered many facts about the life of a lotus plant. He photographed it extensively and has now completed over 20 paintings that are being shown for the next three weeks at the Gallerie D’Arts here before hopefully winging their way across other cities.

The exhibition titled ‘Lotus Pond’ comes after a three-year hiatus during which Milind has battled a fractured leg and amputated toe along with melancholy.

Painting by Milind Nayak
It was art that has brought cheer to his life again; though he harrumphs, “Well, what else could I do but paint when I was stuck in front of the easel, unable to move?”

Over the years, Milind has evolved a technique of using digital art and photographs in his creative process. He begins by sketching, photoshops the sketches and places them alongside his formidable collection of photographs he takes of places and nature that inspire him. It’s only then that he begins to paint.

Painting by Milind Nayak
The finished paintings have no semblance of the photographs or the digital outputs; he says though that they are important in helping them make the paintings 'tighter and more structured'.

The new collection is of oil paintings; four years ago, he had painted the same theme in pastels and the whole collection was bought by a collector, who requested him not to use the theme for three years. Now here they are and priced modestly between Rs.50,000 and Rs.2,50,000, look set to be gobbled up quickly.

"I am not out to make a fast buck. My paintings are ways of expressing myself," he tells me when I quiz him about the cost.

Milind, whose oeuvre includes abstracts, makes no bones about wanting to paint beautiful things, "Landscapes are a neglected medium today and critics especially look down upon good looking paintings. I’m in search of beauty…a tree is so beautiful, I try to explore its facets."
By Sandhya Mendonca (Sandhya Mendonca writes a weekly column for the Herald Goa)

Read the story on the Goa Herald on the link below:

A Slice of Old Bangalore

Take a step back in time at Basava Ambara to rediscover the spirit of good old Bangalore amidst lush greenery, while browsing through handcrafted merchandise or relishing a bowl of fig salad, at an unhurried pace

It is a mad, mad city out there, in a hurry to get everywhere. Lost in transit are the days when Bangalore was all about being laidback and taking in life at a leisurely pace under leafy trees and jacarandas. And it is this missing piece that Basava Ambara brings back.

Located in one of Bangalore’s oldest neighbourhoods, Basavanagudi (which lent its name to RK Narayan’s ‘Malgudi Days’), Basava Ambara is housed in the outhouse of the Mahadevan’s 19th century heritage home.

Time stops for you as you stroll down the walkway engulfed by greenery, courtesy the garden store, ‘Hybiscus’, run by Anita Shah who travels across the world to bring together the very best garden products from hammocks and planters to the ceramic that is imported from Vietnam.

The path leads to Basava Ambara, set up in 2009 by Jaya Mani who has been a part of the art scene for 30 years with an interest in crafts and textiles. Back in 1984, Mani opened Gallery Dravidam in Delhi to promote south Indian artists. She moved base to Bangalore in 1997 and Dravidam promoted contemporary artists with a grounding in traditional arts. She hosts an art show in Delhi annually.

The first Ambara store took root in Indiranagar eleven years ago and later moved to Ulsoor, where it continues to draw a loyal clientele. Mani wanted to promote arts, crafts and weaving traditions through Ambara. The second store is larger and the product range includes furniture and children’s clothing.

You cannot ask for a better setting to browse through the handpicked selection of sarees, dupattas and stoles that have been sourced from over 40 suppliers but are not mass produced. Unhampered by the unsolicited attention of the staff, one can linger over the textiles, stopping to admire the paintings and art work by artists like Suresh Muthukulam, Ramesh Gorjala and JMS Mani, and battle (or not) a desire to splurge on the gorgeous jewellery, handcrafted leather bags, and the newest addition to the collection, laquerware lamps with silk shades.

It is a tantalising spread with brands like Rehwa, Terra, Bailou and Reeth Mumbai showcasing their exclusive merchandise. This November, shoppers can look forward to an exhibit and sale by Arnav known for its fabulous antique jewellery or an exhibition of traditional sarees by the Delhi-based Utsav.

The outdoor space, another rarity in Bangalore, is put to good use. Basava Ambara has hosted book readings like Shilo Shiv Suleman’s ‘Pampasutra’ and Pepita Seth’s ‘Heaven on Earth’, and looks forward to bringing in dance, music and theatre performances.

Once your shopping bag is full, you can retreat to the al fresco restaurant, ‘The Rogue Elephant’, run by Sheila Appa and Anand Chettur. Their Continental menu boasts of comfort food like Moroccan stew, classic Kolkata-style katti rolls and roast chicken. Wrap up the meal with a yummy banana walnut cake. Or quench your thirst with a glass of freshly-squeezed nimbu paani. Tucking into freshly cooked food, with Appa making the desserts herself, you feel right at home.

As Sushma Desai, a fashion designer, says, echoing Basava Ambara’s many clients, “A store in an old house is a brilliant idea. The old world charm is all encompassing. It makes you want to stay forever.” At Basava Ambara, ambience is everything.

By Anuradha Prasad/ Raintree Media Features/

Read the story on the Goa Herald on the link below:

Friday, November 04, 2011

For the love of chai

Tucked away in the midst of loud buildings, unobtrusive yet inescapable, is Chaipatty Teafe. Contemporary, familiar and comfortable, it is a home away from home

The night is young and the air is abuzz with chatter and laughter as those in the know gather at the cozy Chaipatty Teafe on 100ft Road, Indiranagar. Curled up on diwans, mats and muddas, with Coke Studio Pakistan playing in the background, folks tuck into Maggi and omelettes, sipping on piping hot chai.

With the city seeing a spurt of coffee chains in the past few years, Chaipatty Teafe comes as a whiff of fresh, tea-flavoured air that is catching on in the city. The 10-month old teafe is multiplying almost at the speed of bunnies. With two established outlets, a third one coming up on Varthur Road and two more in the pipeline, Chirag Yadav, the brain behind Chaipatty Teafe, is on a roll. He plans to cross borders by franchising outlets across India, with an eye on also setting shop in Australia, Dubai, UK and US.

A self-proclaimed jack-of-all-trades and master of a lot more, Yadav says, “Thanks to my Army officer dad and my multi-faceted lifestyle, I have always been fascinated with various creative interests. I have been an art curator, a writer, a poet, a blogger, a cook, a lawn tennis player (played against Somdev Burman in school), an ambidextrous table-tennis and badminton player, and a chess player too. I have an engineering degree in Electronics and Communication, and a diploma in Embedded Systems. I have also been dancing the salsa for seven years now. I like challenging myself and am inspired by people like Richard Branson and Steve Jobs. I like perfection and have an insatiable thirst for achieving success. For now I am intent on getting Chaipatty to the top and making it a favourite brand for Bangaloreans, similar to Koshy’s and Airlines Hotel.”

Yadav was not impressed with the route most cafes, meant to be hangouts, were going. He says, “I was bored of what coffee chains were offering and what people were making of them, so I started Chaipatty. It is a teafe (tea-cafe) and not a cafe. We have focussed on making it a homely and approachable place that appeals to you with its simplicity whether in design, service or offerings. People call it a home away from home. It is like sitting in your backyard and enjoying home-made snacks and drinks.”

The teafe’s name, Chaipatty was coined over an Old Monk session at home and while it started off as an activity centre, it took the shape of a tea-cafe as soon as they zeroed in on the location. “The name was reminiscent of a ‘chowpatty’ known for its approachability as a hangout and of course affordability, and Chaipatty being what we wanted to be known for - a tea cafe,” says Yadav.

Unlike the fancy menus in most cafes, Chaipatty plates out dishes that can be whipped up quickly and effortlessly like pastas, omelettes and Maggi noodles. You have the choice of kullad chai and cutting chai, and you can opt for masala. Yadav says, “We do keep experimenting and adding new things every two-three months but still the whole idea is to be a healthy and hygienic cross between a college canteen and roadside tea-stall.”

The décor of the teafe, with its rustic setting and catchy wall art, has folks raving. A teafe fan captures the mood, “Chaipatty is like my bedroom with an open window to hear the traffic buzz by and have the luxury of simple yet finger-licking good food.”

By Anuradha Prasad/ Raintree Media Features/

Read the story on the Goa Herald on the link below:

A high five from Innovate Publishers

If you needed to meet the most brilliant minds in Bengaluru, well, you had to be at the Innovate Bengaluru Festival on 11/4/19, at WeWor...