Keep yourself busy this week, with a book launch, theatre performance and a poetry session by Prakriti Foundation
What do a one-man play about Karl Marx, a childrena��s book about the environment and a poetry session by a Scottish poet have in common? Absolutely nothing. Unless you count the fact that theya��re happening in the city in quick succession, all organised by The Prakriti Foundation. Starting with a session on Scottish poet Billy Letforda��s poetry on May 26, the foundation will go on to host environmentalist-turned-author and playwright Dr Vithal Rajan – launching his book, Jungu: The Baiga Princess on May 28 and staging his play, Marx in Madras the next day.
That Letford, one of Scotlanda��s young talents, has come this far is thanks to the Commonwealth Poets United programme. Every year, the programme chooses one poet each from six countriesa��Canada, India, Jamaica, New Zealand, Nigeria and South Africaa��to visit Scotland and vice versa, in order to establish relationships between artistes and communities. Their pick for India was Tamil author-poet Rajathi Salma, who tells us, a�?He (Letford) will be reading poems from his collection, Bevel.a�?
Trees or tribals?
While adults keep grappling with that chicken-and-egg conundrum, Rajan is setting out to teach the little ones the importance of both. About his new book, the author says, a�?The Baigas are a tribe in Madhya Pradesh, where I grew up. They are ancient people, with so much knowledge of the ways of the world a��I wanted to show that to the kids.a�? The book, published by Zubaan Books, is about a city boy who encounters the Baigas when he goes to visit his forest-ranger uncle.
Communing with Marx
So, the man whose theories gave birth to two of the worlda��s biggest a�?ismsa��a��communism and socialism a��is in heaven and he now wants to visit earth. He wants to go to Soho, London, but a bureaucratic mistake lands him in Soho, New York. That was historian Howard Zinna��s original version. Rajana��s adaptation had him ending up in Hyderabad first. a�?Since Ia��m coming to Chennai now, I just tweaked the name a bit,a�? he says, laughing. a�?I wanted to show that his (Marxa��s) ideas are still relevant,a�? adds Rajan.
Leford will read his poetry on May 26, at 6 pm at Amdavadi, while Marx in Madras will be staged at the same venue on May 29 at 6 pm. Rajana��s book, Jungu, The Baiga Princess will be launched on May 28 at Chamiers Cafe, at 6 pm.
Guitarstreet.in, the countrya��s first musical instruments webstore springs up in Bangalore
A COMBINATION of engineering, marketing and supply chain prompted Utkarsh Apoorva, Madhu GS and Saket Jalan to create Guitarstreet.in, Indiaa��s first online music equipment store. Hardly a few months old, the website seems to have tugged at the right strings and recently sold its 100th guitar. Apoorva says, a�?a�?Guitar-street aims to fill a gap. Two days after it went live, we got our first customer who was willing to pay into our personal accounts as we hadna��t set up an official gateway yet! That showed us that Guitarstreet had potential.a��a��
Being a specialist store means the depth and range of products available tend to be more in sync with demand than horizontal stores. a�?Additionally, the sales team of Guitarstreet comprises of professional musicians who can personally guide the customer to maximise value,a��a�� he explains.
Standing tall at over 60,000 Facebook a�?likesa��, Guitarsteet has now started to sell Indian classical instruments, too. Currently, the webstore offers acoustic, semi-acoustic and electric instruments across top brands like Yamaha, Granada, Walden and affordable ones like Sonido and Ashton. They also have a smaller selection of harmonicas, violins and accordions. Guitarstreet also delivers to Chennai, New Delhi, Hyderabad and Kolkatta.
Rs. 500 upwards for accessories and Rs. 3,000 upwards for instruments. They deliver to Chennai. Details: guitarstreet.in
With top stand-up artistes joining up for Laugh OK Please this Saturday, youa��d better plan your day at the Velachery mall
WITH its penchant for rib-tickling comedy, Evama��s contribution to the stand-up scene in the city remains by far the most significant. They are taking it up a notch with comedians from all over the country this time. a�?a�?Laugh OK Please aims to not just create a platform featuring the best in India, but also one that many budding comics can look to for inspiration,a�? says producer,A� Bhargav Ramakrishnan. The show will feature Gurgaona��s Jeeveshu Ahlu-walia, Mumbaia��s Aditi Mittal and Sorabh Pant, Coimbatorea��s Naveen Richards, and the citya��s Karthik Kumar and Aravind S.
Calling himself the a�?Salman Khan of the fat worlda�?, Gurgaona��s Jeeveshu Ahluwalia isna��t afraid to make fun of his own weight, to begin with. The open mic sessions that started off as a hobby, saw him giving up his cushy job to tell jokes at pubs. Ahluwalia describes his material as anecdotal, and draws instances from daily life to make truthful and unintentionally hilarious observations. So whoa��s a major comic influence? a�?a�?My mother. Her humour is the darkest Ia��ve ever heard,a��a�� he enthuses.
Karthik Kumar, whose act promises to bring a local flavour to the show, remains incredibly optimistic about the growth of the format in Chennai. He brought the comedy ensemble Stand Up Tamasha to the citya��s popular spots and feels ita��s time to move away from the usual. a�?Ia��m best known for my work in comedy films and plays, but the sketch format is done to death. Open mics are the future.a�? Of course, the elections will figure in his material.
A former comedy writer for the Great Indian Comedy Show, Mumbai-based comic Sorabh Panta��s self-depreciating, observational humour doesna��t disappoint. Insp-ired at 12 by a local stand-up act by comedian Johnny Lev-er, Pant felt his life was decided then. His mi-gration to the world of Indian stand-up also taught him about boundaries as a performer. a�?After I happened to pick on an audience member in jest at Kochi, I faced major backlash, but staying persistent in the game helps,a�? he shares. Confessing hea��s scared to make jokes about his wife, Pant plans to mostly bank on a�?North meets Southa�� gags.
Laugh OK Please will be performed this Saturday at Phoenix Market City, Velachery from 7.30 pm onwards. Tickets are priced between Rs. 300 and Rs. A�600 and can be purchased at www.bookmyshow.com
1. On the change in government?
Kumar: Modi supporters might have pushed the button so hard that BJP got two votes per person.
2. Modi as PM?
Pant: He might just elect himself to all the posts in the cabinet.
3. Congressa�� failure?
Pant: Rahul Gandhi should be adopted by the royal family. Therea��s nothing else hea��s qualified to do.
4. Aam Aadmi Party in the next 5 years?
Pant: Auditing for the Swiss Bank.
Ahluwalia: Actually sitting on some seats.
5. Everyone has a Kindle, bookstores are shutting down. Whata��s the future for books?
Kumar: Twitter will be the new a�?literaturea��. Nobody will read anything thata��s over 140 characters.
6.On Sunny Leone in the Tamil film industry?
Ahluwalia: She has an enviable body of work, truly.
Kumar: Shea��d have to compete with heros who have bigger breasts than her.
Top jewellery designers tell you what you need to know about the handlet trend, from sourcing to wearing
hen Sarah Jessica Parker walked the red carpet at the New York City Ballet Gala last year, many eyebrows shot up over one piece of jewellerya��what looked like a bracelet that didna��t quite make it all the way to Parkera��s wrist. Today, the very same band is fast becoming a global trend. Call it what you willa��handlet, palmlet, palm cuff or palm braceleta��ita��s got the support of designers everywhere: from Dana Lorenz and Ana Khouri in the west to Manish Arora and Bansri Mehta in the country.
a�?Not everyone I know likes it. But Ia��d say the palm cuff is for a very fashion forward person, who is spunky and very out there,a�? says Mumbai-based Mehta who recently designed a series for her line, Bansri, one of which was picked up by actress Jacqueline Fernandez for her next film. a�?Though it may be a little inconvenient to wear, it is a statement piece and will be perfect for an after hour event,a�? she adds.
Designer Nitya Arora, of Valliyan in Mumbai, is not a big fan of handletsa��she prefers the more comfortable haathphool. But that doesna��t mean shea��s letting the trend pass her by. a�?Ia��m designing a line that includes a lot of geometric patterns, some whimsical pieces and some animal motifs. Ia��m especially fond of an art-deco piece that features a big gold rama��s head,a�? she says, adding that celebs like Sonam Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra can carry them off best.
There are plenty of options out therea��from Aroraa��s colourful handlets with fruit danglers to Mehtaa��s slender ones with Swarovski crystals. a�?Cuffs are very person-centric. A bold, fashion savvy person can carry off a chunky piece, while someone who loves elegance should try the slender ones,a�? says Mehta, who loves the serpent palm cuff from her collection because it is a�?vamp, vixen and diva all rolled into onea�?.
Fit is also key, adds Arora. a�?They shouldna��t be too tight or too loose. You dona��t want them flying off mid-gesture,a�? she laughs. And just because you have something on your palm, dona��t let it stop you from adding on more accessories. a�?You can wear rings and bracelets with them. I love teaming midi rings with my cuffs,a�? concludes Mehta.
Customised Krav Maga modules to help corporates face road rage and sexual harassment
Developed for the Israeli army, the martial art form of Krav Maga has been gaining popularity in the city for a few years. But now, one of its exponents is taking it in a new directiona��by making it work as a tool to battle things we face in day to day life, like sexual harassment or even road rage. a�?After conducting awareness workshops in some corporates last year, we recently launched 20-hour modules that cover road rage, fitness at work, and for women, how to deal with sexual harassment,a�? says S Sreeram, a Krav Maga expert with 10 years experience and the owner of Krav Maga Tamil Nadu, an outfit started in 2009 which has five centres in the city now.
For women, the focus is on staying strong in panic-inducing situations, using objects they have access toa��from pens to bagsa��to protect themselves and learning techniques to fight back. a�?Currently we are working with companies like Cognizent, Bank of America, HP, Standard Chartered and TCS,a�? says Sreeram, who also trains the state police commandos.
For men, the classes are tailor-made to give them controla��mostly over their emotions. a�?Violence is not always the answer. As part
of the road rage module, we teach people to handle situations with the four Dsa��delay, diffuse, divert and deny. Only if this doesna��t help do we encourage them to use force,a�? he says.
These courses are also available at their various centres. Rs.A�4,000 for a 20-hour module. Details: 9340006600/kravmagatamilnadu.com
No diets and no strain. And yet Jaya Mahesh promises a fitness makeover in 15 days
Flying in the face of experts who have long held that spot reduction (or working specific muscles to lose weight strategically) is a myth, is a petite 45-year-old from Coimbatore. Jaya Mahesh is a self-taught body sculpting therapist who has been helping women keep off the weight, lose inches and even address issues like back pain and blood pressure. a�?She puts you through a series of stretches and muscle manipulation that gives you incredible results,a�? says Anur-adha Giri, a member of Sivaji Ganesana��s family who lost 20.5 inches after attending Mahesha��s first workshop in Chennai in January. The fitness guru explains further. a�?Twenty years of research, talking to experts, attending a variety of classes and making myself a guinea pig has helped me create a form of stretch therapy that gives you almost instant results. What worked on me is what I teach people,a�? says Mahesh, who has been conducting these classes for the last 18 years. Now with Giria��s help, she plans to hold workshops in the city once everyA�three months.
Fat to fit
It didna��t take much to steer Mahesh on to her career patha��just a really hard pregnancy at the age ofA� 25. a�?A complicated nine months saw my weight balloon from 58 kgs to 118 kgs,a�? says the mother of one. a�?I was so obese that I couldna��t walk 10 steps without gasping.a�? And for the former Mrs Coimbatore, this was not acceptable. a�?I went to a fitness instructor who showed me stretches to get me moving,a�? she explains.
As her body started responding, Mahesh decided she wanted to learn more. So she began talking to doctors, researching muscle manipulation and creating routines. a�?Everywhere I travelled I did coursesa��like face sculpting in Toronto (helps tone facial muscles to get a younger look) and stretch exercises in Lakshwadeep,a�? she says. a�?One of the courses taught me that many of your fitness problems are due to your mental state. So, in my classes, I do counselling, too.a�?
Today, Mahesh talks with all her students about concern areas and customises her classes. a�?Did you know that feeling unloved can give you back problems? In my classes, I follow a three-pronged approacha��counselling, a sensible diet (no crash diets, though) and muscle manipulation,a�? she says, adding that some of her students have lost a whopping 31 inches in 15 days. One of her students, Jaya Rajasekar, a housewife from Coimbatore, vouches for the results. a�?A fall in my 20s had damaged my knees. I couldna��t bend them or walk much. When treatments failed, I turned to Jaya. By the end of her class, I could sit on the ground,a�? she says.
Rs. 10,000 for the next 15-day workshop in July. Details: 9840083382
The spot for mana��s best friend has been usurped: by the smart phone. Though it cana��t give us woofs and licks, it does give us the next best thing: apps to keep us engaged, entertained and in check. And today, with most of us on a self-improvement drive, the handheldsa��with apps to tackle most of our vicesa��are turning out to be a godsend. We take a look at some of the most popular ones:
When it comes to kicking that butt, therea��s plenty of choice out therea��from nicotine patches to e-cigarettes. But we like the Quit It and Kwit apps. Quit It (free for iOS) keeps you updated on how much money youa��re saving (by not buying packs), how much tar youa��re not consuming and how your health is on the up-swing again. Kwit (freeA�for iOS and Android), on the other hand, has gamified the process. With levels and ranks (60 achievements to unlock in all), it prods you to become the a�?Ultimate Kwittera��. Both apps also give you medals and help you share your stats on social media for those extra a�?likesa��. Details: apple.com/itunes
Keep it clean
If your home doesna��t look any better than the local junkyard, then you need to download this app pronto. Unf*ck Your Habitat (`120) calls itself a�?terrifying motivation for lazy people with messy homesa�?. With challenges and customisable features, this expletive-laden app makes sure you get your chores done with reminders and some tough love. Available for iOS and Android. Details: apple.com/itunes, play.google.com
This one doesna��t have any snappy names to sell itself, but A-CHESS (short for Addiction-Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System) is being touted as a great way to stay sober. The app, developed by the University of Wisconsin, sounds an alert if you come near places you used to frequent that sell/serve alcohol. If you feel tempted to take a swig, it has a panic button that alerts peers on a pre-programmed list. The app also has features to track your progress, give links to online support sites and send reminders to encourage you to stay on track. Details: play.google.com
Boo to boredom
Keep the a�?devila�� at bay by giving your idle mind something to doa��like learning a new language. Voted Applea��s a�?2013 App of the Yeara��, Duolingo can help you become a linguistic expert (think Spanish, French, German, etc). And since they have gamified the processa��complete with points, leaderboards, and video game a�?livesa�?a��the app will teach you a new skill and keep you entertained at one go. Free for iOS and Android. Details: apple.com/itunes, play.google.com
Making manicures last
Therea��s not much you can do to stop a nervous nail biter. Wea��ve tried everything from nail stains to turpentine! Stop Nail Biting, an iOS app (Rs. 364) comes with a hypnosis recording, which promises to help you kick the habit in your sleep. The audio track supposedly relieves stress, one of the key inducers. The app also has a photo diary, where you can upload photos of your progress for added incentive. Details: apple.com/itunes
Seesawing is fun only when youa��re at the park. In life, stay focussed on your weight with these nifty apps. Nexercise (free for iOS and Android) makes working out fun by gamifying it. You can log in your programme, share with friends and compete. Then therea��s Noom Weight (free for iOS and Android), which helps you keep track of your daily calorie intake, maintain exercise logs and share lifestyle strategies with friends. Details: apple.com/itunes, play.google.com
We do encourage you to wake up and smell the coffee, but too much of your favourite beverage can also keep you up, whether you want to or not. Up Coffee (free for iOS) helps you keep a check on your caffeine intake through the day (we are talking about those espressos, energy drinks and chocolate). It will tell you when youa��re wired, how long it will take you to fall asleep, and how your body reacts to caffeine (through data-based reports). And as you keep entering your logs, it will also reveal changes in your bedtime habits. Details: apple.com/itunes
Does the word spendthrift strike too close to home? Well, this finance managing app allows you to track, budget and manage your money. Once you open an account on Mint (free for iOS), just add your bank, credit, loan and retirement accounts and it will categorise all your transactionsa��showing you where youa��re overspending with handy charts. Once youa��ve set your goals for saving, it will help out with tips, advice, reminders and encouragement. Details: apple.com/itunes
Say goodbye to sleep-ins and grouchy mornings with Sleep Cycle. The app is many things rolled into one. It tracks sleep pattern and quality (determines which days you sleep best), has a heart rate monitor that measures your Resting Heart Rate (RHR), and also has an alarm that wakes you up when you are sleeping the lightest (so you wake up refreshed). With detailed statistics and sleep graphs for every night, the app has 15 different alarm melodies. At `60 for iOS 5 or later. Details: apple.com/itunes
Herea��s a crime we are all guilty of: slacking when it comes to brushing our teeth. Brush DJ encourages you to brush for an effective length of time by playing two minutes of music. You can also set reminders to brush twice a day, use mouthwash or schedule a visit to the dentist. And if you are someone who forgets to replace your toothbrush, it gives you a reminder every three months. Free for Android and iOS. Details: apple.com/itunes, play.google.com
Located on Rajarathinam street, Green Tamarind that launched last October, joins the list of vegetarian restaurants like Bombay Halwa House and Tandoori Tadka in Kilpauk. But owner Jai G Punjabi is confident that his venture, offering Mumbai-inspired chaats, North Indian and Indian Chinese offerings, will stand out. a�?Green stands for vegetarian and tamarind is an important ingredient in Mumbai chaats,a�? Punjabi explains.
Look out for
Chef Anand of Cornucopia fame heads Green Tamarind, and on his Qwik Bytes menu we find vada pav, dahi sev batata puri and dahi paapdi chaat. Their poori bhaji and channa bhatura are major attractions, we hear. Starters include the vegetable seekh, hariyali paneer tikka, mustard potatoes, makai mattar aloo seekh, green peas and potatoes blended with Indian spice and herbs, among others. For mains, they have everything from paneer tikka masala to malai kofta, and kadai vegetables and aloo mattar. But therea��s more. The Indian Chinese offeringsA� include a stir-fried mushroom with pepper and chilly that packs a punch, while their Beijing manchurian and Thai green curry play with your taste buds. a�?We have traces of a Singapore-Malaysian influence in our food. In fact we started out with Italian and Mexican food, but that falls under a higher price range so we decided on Chinese,a�? Punjabi says. The restaurant is attracting the Gujaratis, Marwaris and Sindhis in the area, wea��re told.
Their dahi paapdi chaat arrives with thick curd. a�?We generally use hung curd. It is a Mumbai thing,a�? Punjabi smiles. Meanwhile, the cream of sweet corn soup arrives with bits of chilli and lemongrass and we like their burnt garlic rice, served with pepper, cilantro and mushroom sauce. Wash these down with their fresh juices or lemon and mint iced tea. For dessert therea��s the light and fluffy tres leches a�� an eggless vanilla sponge cake soaked in three kinds of milk, topped with cream and fresh fruits.
Meal for two between Rs. 700 and Rs. 750. Details: 8056129222
The next time you book a show at Luxe, be sure to arrive early for a pit stop at 18 Below
Wedged between screens five and six, you almost dona��t notice the little cafe tucked away behind the ice cream counter a�� if youa��re running back to your movie that is. But arrive early and therea��s no way you can miss the tables with towering menus standing atop them. 18 Below is almost like a fancy attic (the wall even slopes on one side), with a foosball table, two XBox consoles and a pretty table chandelier in a corner. The menu lists 11 flavours (available as a regular or large scoop) with a variety of mix ins to choose from. And if you are not in the mood to create, choose from their set creations.
As much as we wanted to try them all, we decided on a gianduja milkshake, a scoop of stracciatella, and yoghurt with raspberry sauce and blueberry jam. Sadly, the M&Ms and chocolate waffle cones were not available on our visit, so we settled for crumble on our scoop and the regular waffle instead. While the first two could best be described as understated, the last was our favourite, with the berries as a teaser, followed by the mildly tart yoghurt. We ordered a scoop of vanilla and were met with more subtlety a�� no complaints, just that my palate was craving something more pronounced. To my luck, the pistachio (with copious pieces of the nut buried within) was up to the task. Priced from Rs. 80 for a scoop. Details: 42244224
For some more unusual scoops, try Pabraia��s Fresh & Naturelle. The Kolkata-chain, that has branches in Thiruvanmiyur, Besant Nagar and Ashok Nagar, has introduced flavours like paan and mascarpone cheese with candied fruits (featured on the right), in addition to existing options like wasabi, lemongrass and bubblegum. Therea��s a seasonal special too a�� the Alphonso mango. From Rs. 39 a scoop. Details: 24571749
While most hotels arestarting their mangofestivals next month,A�a few offerings for those who cana��t wait
? Buzz at The Gateway Hotel is going all out with everything from aam ka panna to mango mushroom curry and mango misu. For something heady they offer cocktails like aamaruda, featuring mango vodka, mango juice and guava juice. Mains feature BBQ chicken with mango salsa and mamdikai pappu (toor dal cooked with raw mango), while for dessert therea��s the likes of caramelised raw mango-centred white chocolate mousse with mango chutney. For dinner, starting today, till June 8. Priced from Rs. 350 plus tax onwards. Details: 66802500
? At ITC Grand Chola, chef Nikhil Merchant at Madras Pavilion is creating one mango special for the buffet every day, till May 31. Keri murgh tikka, mango meen moilee, mango and coriander crumble and mango phirnee are some of the dishes that the guests have enjoyed so far. Buffet from Rs. 1,600 plus tax onwards. Details: 22200000
?A� For some pure vegetarian mango fun, try Khandani Rajdhania��s a�?Aamlicious Thalia��. Featuring mango jalebis, mango panna, raw mango and onion bhajia, aam ki lunjee, mango pulao and more, it is priced at Rs. 450. Available till June 15. Details: 28464422
? Seasonal Tastes at The Westin also features mango through the season. They offer grilled basa with mango salsa, mango and Irish cream truffle and more, on the buffet at Rs. 1,200 plus tax. Details: 22553366