From a Japanese tea ceremony to a foraging exercise, nine experiences you must sign up for on your next weekend trip
PERFECT for a short getaway or a life altering move, the seemingly sleepy coastal town is known for its eclectic experiences like Frenchman Sat Yaajia��s tree climbing classes, Romain Timmera��s circus workshops and British musician Krishna Mckenziea��s samba rice farming sessions, to name a few. While retreats promoting sustainable living and self awareness are conducted all year round, here is our latest list of offbeat things to try at the charming French Quarter.
Text: Catherine Gilon
1. Discover your a�?horsea��nality
Evergreen Horses in Auroville is the first natural horsemanship school in India. Hailing from Italy, Matthia Pontoni, instructor, explains their work, a�?Natural Horsemanship is not just about riding horses, it offers guidelines on how to live onea��s life by exploring the values of a�?love, language and leadershipa��.a�? Their activities range from simple guided rides to the more complex skills of ground training, freestyle riding and working with horses in a more laid-back atmosphere. For beginners, they have started the concept of a�?study groupsa�?. These are usually a two-day immersion to the Parelli program (based on the famous Californian horsemana��s concepts), can be organised in conjunction to participantsa�� availability and usually have four to six students. Basics of horse behaviour and psychology will be covered along with a hands-on session to understand where the journey of building communication with your horse starts. Details: email@example.com
2. Tea for thought
How about a cup of tea for some self-awareness? a�?The Japanese tea ceremony is an art. It is one of the secret elements of longevity for Japanese people,a�? reveals Jyoti Naoki Eri originally from Kyoto , the founder-director of One Asia Project. As a part of the project, he invites artists and musicians from across Asia to collaborate and co-create with local artists. He also regularly conducts the Japanese tea ceremony (called Cha-Dao or the way of tea) which is seen as a form of spiritual practice in Japan. a�?These ceremonies also contribute self-awareness along with Zen cosmology and it is proven that the profound way of making and appreciating the finest bowl of tea is a lesson in the way of living,a�? he says. Sign up for his introductory session of 45-60 minutes, for a group of two to six. Details: firstname.lastname@example.org or SMS 9489887192 for registration.
3. Turn chocolate connoisseur
Did you know that flavour notes in dark chocolate exceed those in red wine? Stock up on interesting trivia and dive into the intricate world of chocolate-making at the gourmet chocolate tasting events organised by Jane Mason of Mason&Co. You will be equipped with a flavour wheel and tasting sheet, and Mason, originally from Australia, says, a�?We taste not only our own brand but also chocolates from some of our favourite chocolatiers around the world. We learn what inspires the maker and what makes their chocolate unique.a�? Adding that chocolate pairs very well with whisky, coffee, tea, cheese and more, she says the idea of such events is to learn about artisan produce and how pairing food can enhance flavours.a�?You will find new things that you might like to eat!a�? insists Mason, with a smile. Prices begin from around Rs.800 for a chocolate tasting in Auroville. Those interested in a private event or to register for their next tasting (in November or December), drop an email. Details: email@example.com
4. Learn an exotic dance
Gone are the days of Salsa and Tango. Join the exotic oriental dance initiation workshop at Sita Cultural Centre with international dancer Ottilie, originally from France. Learn the basics of traditional belly dance or something more complex. For a two-hour session, Rs.500 (kids); and for a three-hour session, Rs.800 (adults). Dates and classes will be finalised based on student enquiries. Details: 09944016128
How about a Brazilian martial art that combines dance, acrobatics and music. Sometimes even referred as a game, the Capoeira classes (regular) held on Wednesdays and Fridays (7 pm) at La Casita have a following. They also have a�?pay per classa�� options for those interested. Rs.1,200 per
month. Details: 07639405194
5. Listen to your soul
For eight years, Vera Lipen, hailing from Russia, has been conducting open programmes and workshops with the Russian singing bells in Auroville. She now conducts weekly workshops called a�?Tuning to Harmony – Healing Soundsa�� which involve up to two hours of meditation in sync with the deep resonating tone of a Peace Bell (82 kg specially tuned plate bell). a�?Listeners are first invited on a personal journey with the long resonating and soothing sounds, while the second part of the workshop is an exploration of a collective harmony. Each participant gets to play the bell, and all are invited to create spontaneous music together,a�? she says. The workshops are held on the first and the third Monday of the month (subject to change), at 5pm. Rs.500. Details: firstname.lastname@example.org
While the Peace Bell is hosted by Pavilion of Tibetan culture and the access to it is free of charge, the meditation with the Peace Bell can be arranged for visitors on request
by the Pavilion of Tibetan Culture. Details: 0413 2622401
6. Get paper smart
Have you marvelled at Aurovillea��s eco-friendly paper craft? Check out the introductory workshops conducted by local artisans at Wellpaper which will give you three to four hours hands-on experience in weaving containers using rolled newspapers, paper-coiling, papier-mache and accessory-making techniques. Wellpaper provides all the materials and tools. The a�?drop in workshopsa�� are regularly conducted on Saturdays.Wellpaper also organises workshops on request for a minimum of five participants. Details: 0413 2622219; email@example.com
7. Connect with the Supermind
Ashesh Joshi originally from Ahmedabad, an inmate of Sri Aurobindo Ashram (Pondicherry) for 20 years, joined Auroville in 2007 where he gives regular classes and workshops introducing the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo to outsiders. This November, he will conduct a workshop on the Supermind that will focus on concepts like truth-consciousness, triple status of the supermind, living in the divine and so on. Those interested, can sign up for the free workshop that will be held on November 3, 9 am to 12 pm. At Savitiri Bhavan, Auroville. Details: integralyoga-auroville.com
8. Walk with purpose
For somethingunique that asllo teaches you life skills, sign up for a weed walk. Nina Sengupta who has just launched a book on edible weeds (Edible Weeds and Naturally Growing Plants in Aurovillea��A Colouring Book Series) proposes to hold 30-minute walks in the third week of December that will be a follow-up activity to her book. Participants will explore the countryside and find at least 15-20 edible weeds discussed in the book. The book can be bought at the Vistora��s Centre in Auroville or online at auroville.com. Details: firstname.lastname@example.org
There are umpteen ways to discover the history and charm of Pondicherry but the best option is to walk it. The INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage) team has painstakingly restored several heritage buildings across the city, including the port (now Le CafA�) and Subbiah Memorial. They conduct guided heritage walks in the French and Tamil quarters. Details: A�0413 A�2339497
The Blue Yonder, the travel company, offers themed walks such as a�?Tamil Heritage & Market Visita��, a�?French Quarter & Ashram Walka��, a�?Auroville Impressionsa��, a�?Bio-region Visita��, and a�?Farms & Forestsa�� starting from Rs.1,250 per person for a two-hour session. Details: 0413 4502218
9. Build with earth and bamboo
The Earth & Bamboo workshop conducted by in-house resource people at the Auroville Earth Institute is intended as an experience workshop in earth construction with both traditional and modern earth techniques. Participants will learn the basic principles of soil identification and how it can be used for earthen construction. The participants will also learn the basics of working with bamboo, from harvesting and treating it to working with it using traditional and modern techniques. They will be split into groups to build structures, which are intended for real use. Be aware that this highly interactive workshop requires active participation. At Auroville Earth Institute & Auroville Bamboo Centre, from November 16 to 20. Fee: Rs.15,000 per person (includes accommodation on room sharing basis, five lunches and dinner, transportation within Auroville, materials and taxes). Registration will be closed once the limited capacity of 80 participants is filled.
Make time for some retail therapy
If in Pondicherry, Upasanaa��s upcycled fashion wear is a must-buy. Leftover fabrics are creatively used to make a�?Art-to-weara�� dresses that are unique. The line communicates sensitivity towards consciousness, responsible fashion and design. Rest assured, you will have a piece thata��s one of a kind! Details: upasana.in
Organic artisanal coffee
Located in Auroville Main Road, Marc’s Cafe, Roast & Taste, started by Marc Tormo hailing from Spain, is a unique concept cafe, where the coffees are roasted in front of you while you enjoy a cup of the same. Each coffee has been selected from source, certified by international agencies and roasted in small batches in the artisanal manner. You can taste seven types of coffees, including the Espresso blend called Kaveri, (sells at Rs.1440/ kg), limited editions like Julien Peak (sells at Rs.1440 / kg) or Balmaadi (Rs.1700/kg) and the legendary Malabar Monsooned coffees (Rs.1600/kg). All Marc’s coffees as well as organic raw cacao beans are available at www.auroville.com. Details: email@example.com
Music that heals
Svaram, the musical instruments and research centre headed byAurelio, originally from Austria in Auroville, boasts of 25 years of experimentation with the vibrational touch and metaphysics of sound. Not only is the centre famous for their sound healing sessions, but their ingenious instruments are popular with tourists all over the world. If you are an educator or sound healer, you will find these prototypes of musical instruments (such as chimes, sound stones, mallet instruments) fascinating. Details: Svaram.org
From practising at Nehru Stadium every morning to competing in World Cups, fencer Bhavani Devi has come a long way
In a nation obsessed with cricket, one should not be surprised if the word a�?fencinga�� is mistaken as something to do with a garden. But that does not stop young Bhavani Devi from frequenting the Nehru Stadium (through the Tamil Nadu Fencing Association) to perfect her skills at wielding a foil. Seen as an elitist sport in most of Europe, fencing is slowly making its way into Indian schools. a�?In 2004, my school, Muruga Dhanushkodi, introduced fencing, squash, gymnastics, boxing and swimming. I chose fencing and my first coach was Vishwanathan. The senior players at Nehru Stadium also helped me pick up the basics,a�? Bhavani says, raising our hopes that schools will play a major role in spreading awareness about the Olympic sport.
The Tiruvottiyur-based 22-year-old, who brought home bronze from the Asian Under-23 Championship this year, says she used practise before school in the morning. And thanks to the recent support she has received from the chief minister, Devi now has the opportunity to travel places. After taking part in the Venezuela World Cup last week, she is now participating in the French World Cup and is thankful of the support from her parents. a�?Without them, I would have quit. A sport like fencing is very expensive a�� from basic equipment to travelling. To achieve an Olympic medal, we need to train abroad and my parents give me maximum support,a�? says the youngster who looks forward to claim a seat in next yeara��s Rio Olympics.
Young surfers have taken their passion for the sport beyond the board
FROM just treating it as a recreational sport, Chennai is fast turning into a surfing hotspot. Murthy Megavan, surfer for nine years and founder of Covelong Point surf school concedes, a�?For the Mahabalipuram Classic 2011, there were eight people from Chennai who participated. The last competition in Chennai, Covelong Point Classic Surf Contest & Music Festival, saw nearly 55 participants from our city!a�? Arun Vasu, CMD of TT Logistics, and the co-founder of Septembera��s Covelong Point Festival, on similar lines, says, a�?The last three years, the city has really caught up with surfing. It is not just a hobby anymore.a�? While one surfing enthusiast combined his science knowledge with his passion to start an ocean literacy programme, another is busy designing customised board bags. Wea��ve rounded up some names you ought to know.
Siddharth C | 23 His Campus Kovalam has 1000 plus students
Studying about aquatic life got Siddharth C interested in the sea. The 23-year-old
M Sc Zoology graduate caught his first wave and the adrenaline rush in 2012 at Bay of Life (surf school in ECR) and though his parents worried about a�?how salt and the sun were darkeninga�? his skin, he combined his love for the waves and Zoology and started Campus Kovalam. Part of Bay of Life, his brainchild conducts ocean literacy programmes for children and teaches them about the ecosystem (geology and topography) of Kovalam. With over 1,000 students, he says, a�?Understanding the phenomenons occurring in the ocean can help swimmers and surfers act according to the tides.a�? Siddharth teaches surfing at the school and doubles as a lifeguard (certified from the Wilderness Responder course, Ranikhet) during the weekends.
Manikandan D | 25 His centre, Ocean Delight, conducts lessons for fishermena��s kids and beach cleaning initiatives too
Surfing for fun, fisherman-turned-surfer Manikandan D, recently opened his own surfing school, Ocean Delight, at Kovalam. Initially a state volleyball player, he gave up the sport due to lack of finances to support his training. Manikandan, popularly known as Appu, has been catching the swell for the last nine years. His school offers free surf lessons to about 20 children, including girls, from the fishing community. a�?The sport does not see many women surfers. I wish to change that,a�? 25-year-old Appu says. He also kick started the Beach Ocean Life – Keep our Beach Clean initiative a�� and every weekend, these children double as volunteers to rid the place of plastic and other litter, and in turn get about `150 each. The money for this comes from Appua��s earnings and also from his German friend, Michael Becker, a piano engineera��who visited India and appreciated his efforts.
Dharani Selvakumar | 23 Students include actors Arya, Bharath and Jiiva
In the 2012 Summer Swell Challenge, Dharani Selvakumar (23), made it to the semi-finals. He bagged first place in the national category at Covelong Point Classic Surf Contest & Music Festival this time. Hailing from the fishing community, it was an important win, and Selvakumar says, a�?After a computer science engineering degree, when I decided to get into full time surfing, my father was reluctant. Today, I am a surf instructor (with a stable income) and my parents are okay with it.a�? Coaching many young aspirants at Covelong Point Social Surf School, Selvakumar is also a celebrity coach with actors Arya, Bharath and Jiiva learning from him. a�?I still remember how Bharat, who did not know swimming, was initially afraid. But later he managed to catch his wave,a�? says Selvakumar.
Suhasini Damian | 24 Her Esendi customises board bags and swimwear
Suhasini Damian enrolled at the Kallialay Surf School in Pondicherry, three and half years ago, and shea��s yet to discover a sport that she can love more. Conceding that ita��s not easy for a woman to pursue the sport in our country, she adds, a�?I always get dirty comments and guys whistling at me when I walk to the beach wearing my rash vest and shorts. I have had nine-year-old kids throw small stones at me from the pier while surfing. Until today it hasna��t changed.a�? Undeterred, she does hope, with the growing surf scene in the country, that people will learn to change their attitude towards young women surfers and swimmers. At 24, she has already placed first at the Summer Swell Challenge in Pondicherry and at the Covelong Point Festival, shea��s come first in the national category over the last two years. She has also successfully set up Esendi, the beachwear and surf accessories business, with her friend (Dasha Yateseko) in Auroville. Esendi includes customised swimwear, beachbags, beach wraps and customised boardbags and more.
Want to travel but dona��t know where to start? These experts chart trips ranging from hilly treks to trails of historical places
Moving on from mundane sightseeing trips, new age travellers are looking for immersive experiences that involve learning, experiences and adventure. Interestingly, a crop of travel experts are tailor-making these engaging itineraries for them. a�?People want to become entrepreneurs and travel is an industry that is booming,a�? says Santhosh Kumar, 40, the founder of Bengaluru-based travel venture Get Off Ur Ass, about this bunch who are facilitating quirky plans like sailing experiences and history trails. Read on:
Text: Mayuri J Ravi
Chinna Reddy | 29, Royal Madras Yacht Club
Having grown up learning to swim, sail and surf with the Sea Cadet Corps in Visakhapatnam, Chinna Reddya��s tryst with the sea began when he was around eight years old. In 2011, he moved to Chennai as a coach at the Royal Madras Yacht Club and apart from being an instructor, Reddy conducts two-day sailing tours to Pulicat on weekends. a�?People are taught how to sail and understand weather conditions. We also go for a trek and bird watching,a�? says Reddy. He plans to conduct a four-day sailing tour to Rameswaram in December, the longest conducted by the RMYC till date. Details: facebook.com/Royal-Madras-Yacht-Club-100798713299100
Dona��t leave without: watch & sunglassesA�City escape: sunken ship near Chennai port
Kalaiyarasan, 21, TourBee
When Kalaiyarasan and his friend Dineshkumar set out to visit the historical places in the Tamil novel Ponniyin Selvan, they realised that others might be interested in it too. Thus TourBee was born this April. Their two-day trip will cover 11 places, from Veeranam Lake to Buddha Vihar in Nagapattinam and their first Ponniyin Selvan trail will take place on November 14-15. a�?We take care of travel and accommodation, but not food,a�? he says. Post this, he plans to organise another trip based on the historic novel Sivagamiyin Sabatham (about a Pallava king) a�� a tour to Mahabalipuram. This computer science graduate also plans to launch a mobile app in January and promises to explore possibilities with other interesting novels too. Details: facebook.com/TourBee-599935453442211/info
Rahul Kumar started the Chennai Weekend Extroverts in August 2014 to find like-minded individuals who love travel and adventure. a�?The places that we visit depends on where the majority of us want to go. We have a group on WhatsApp, where everyone suggests ideas,a�? he says, adding, a�?We generally conduct one or two-day trips.a�? So far, they have been on photography walks, surfing events with the recent one being Covelong Surf Festival, bike trips to Pondicherry, Nagalapuram, Tada and Pulicat Lake. a�?It is free to be part of the group, but if wea��re going to paid events, the individuals joining us have to contribute,a�? says Kumar, who hopes to conduct trips for rafting and rappelling, and plans to expand by having small groups in various other cities. Details: facebook.com/Chennai-Weekend-Adventure-689649321123380
Dona��t leave without: Mobile with offline mapsA�City escape: Shollingnallur beach
Sujai Karthik, 29,
WoodsandTrails & ViajnDia
Sujai Karthik, who started WoodsandTrails in Bengaluru, expanded operations to Tamil Nadu earlier this year. WoodsandTrails is all about exploring and tailor-makes trips for locals who would like to trek and camp. But the 29-year-old BTech graduate has something that also caters to the expats in the city. a�?I wanted to promote the culture and heritage of India. WoodsandTrails did not fit in with that concept and thata��s when ViajnDia was created,a�? he says. The itineraries are created based on the budget and the experience the customers wish to have. From Kanchipuram to Pondicherry and Thanjavur to Thiruvananthapuram, ViajnDia offers several destinations. a�?My next goal is to target school children to teach them camping and surviving skills,a�? Karthik shares his plan for the future.
Dona��t leave without: power bankA�City escape: Otiyambakkam quarry
Vishal Kothari | 27, Fernweh
The word Fernweh, which means wanderlust in German, sums up what travel is to Vishal Kothari and his team. His eight-member team includes his sister, sister-in-law and wife. Apart from personal holidays, they also conduct corporate trips. Each member of his team has travelled extensively, and that makes it easier for them to plan. a�?Since we are a small team we make sure we manage only three packages per month,a�? Kothari insists. Though there are offers from Kochi and Bengaluru to open franchises, Kothari is not ready yet. He does inform us that by February they will launch an online reservation system. Details: 42042425
Dona��t leave without: Swiss knifeA�City escape: a resort along the ECR
What James Hadley Chase and ambitious boys have in common, and other smart obervations.
By Krishna Shastri Devulapalli
“My a�?piecea�� was a James Hadley Chase-ian romp involving hoods and a foiled kidnapping. By me. In Kakinada.”
THEREa��S this school friend whom I can never think about without sighing and saying to myself a�?What a life he could have had!a�� But Ia��m getting ahead of myself.
Leta��s go back to the a��80s. A time when the faulty vaastu of Saturna��s house in my jatakam found me in a school designed for maths- and science-loving perverts. Much as the school would have liked to eliminate it altogether, and bung in an extra class of Double Advanced Extreme Mathematics on Steroids in its place, thanks to government policy, we had to study English.
Our English teacher was a Mrs Sarvamangalam, and it was Day One of school. a�?Children,a�� she said, in itself a stretch, considering the facial hair of the students, and that included some of the girls. a�?Your essay topic today is What I did in My Summer Holidays.a��
We were in Class 11. This was an insult.
A couple of days later, it was time for the essays to be read out. I braced myself; in an attempt to impress everyone in my new school, I had pulled out all the stops. My a�?piecea�� was a James Hadley Chase-ian romp involving pinstripe-suited hoods, slick police cars with sirens and a kidnapping foiled in the nick of time. By me. In Kakinada.
Mrs Sarvamangalam read out my essay. I didna��t get the standing ovation Ia��d become accustomed to in my old school. I realised Tam-Brahms didna��t stand and ovate except under extreme duress or something involving Krishnamachari Srikkanth. I got a murmur and a couple of laughs.
Then Mrs Sarvamangalam read out Ram Krishnagopala��s essay. Ram came from a family of engineers. He was the reason such a school had been built. He topped maths and science without trying. His essay involved his tremendous summer fling on the beaches of Miami with a mysterious beauty permanently clad in a red bikini. There were bouncing bosoms, male hardnesses, moans and a couple of climaxes. Then the final reveal, something even Chase would have thought twice about before attempting.
The mysterious beauty was none other than Mrs Sarvamangalam.
Needless to say, Ram got a standing ovation and an immediate suspension. But all I felt was searing jealousy. That should have been me.
After school, we lost touch. I thought about Ram quite often. Where was he? What was he doing? Then, just like that, I bumped into him one day.
He was the CEO of a software company, lived in a penthouse apartment, and owned a BMW. His cook had the same car as me. Ram played golf and ran the half-marathon. He had two kids in the US. His wife ran an NGO and, every other year, they holidayed in Tuscany.
Meanwhile, I had been a writer of greeting cards, police sketch artist, freelance soft porn magazine illustrator, screen printer of visiting cards, ghost copywriter of brochures for a massage parlour, art director in an ad agency called Kunjumona��s Kommunications, illustrator of the childrena��s books My Favourite Vegetables and My Favourite Fruit, non-bestselling novelist and unread columnist.
What a terrible waste. Talk of one wrong move changing your entire life. If only Ram hadna��t apologised to Mrs Sarvamangalam the next week at the assembly, if only his dad hadna��t been a trustee on the school board, all this could have been his.
Krishna Shastri Devulapallia��s new book How To Be A Literary Sensation: A Quick Guide to Exploiting Friends, Family & Facebook for Financial Gain will be out next month.
All season, Phoenix MarketCityA�Restaurant chain Punjab Grill launches in Phoenix MarketCity this weekend. Known for its Punjabi food with an international twist, the menu includes dishes like tandoori guchchi and tawa asparagus. Rs.195 onwards. Details: 9962683666
Dine fineA�All season, Online
This festive season, upgrade your
dinnerware to the new porcelain range from Azure. The tea sets, snack sets and single pieces (cups, teapots, etc) come with intricate designs, and a 22-karat gold rim. Rs.850 onwards. Details: firstname.lastname@example.org
Prakash in the houseA�Sunday, Forum Vijaya Mall
This Sunday, visit Forum Vijaya Mall for reasons other than shopping. At the atrium, catch the live performance of Mumbai-based singer Vijaya Prakash. The playback singer will perform Tamil, Telugu and Hindi hits like Hosanna and Kadhal Anukkal, among others, in an hour and a half-long concert. Details: 49049000
Weekend at The Park
October 30 and November 1 , The Leather Bar
Get ready for some laughter therapy, some wild partying and a Bleeding Heart martini this weekend. Stand-up comedians, Bengaluru-based Naveen Richard and Mumbai-based Hijas Moosa, are in town today. And tomorrow, let your hair down and sway to the grooves of New Delhi-based DJ Ash Roy and Chennai-based DJ Pooja B at The Leather Bara��s Red Bull Night Out. Rs.500 for Comedy blues. Rs.1,000 for Red Bull Night Out. Details: 42676000
The Tribal Hearts Foundation is organising a day-long fundraiser, where you will have access to fancy pouches, bracelets and block-printed cotton fabrics made by women of the Narikuravar community. When youa��re done shopping, learn to make headbands at their crafts station. Rs.350 onwards. Details: 9953761515
With the citya��s crop of creative millennials living by words like a�?glocala�� and a�?experimentala��, we look at a few who are constantly trying to update themselves and their skill sets.
By Surya Praphulla Kumar
Juggling several projects at a time, these performing artistes are building on their passion by adding new skills and experiences to their arsenal. From dancers trying direction to actors doing stand-up and cinema, experimentation is their new code. a�?Rather than the previous generationa��who didna��t have the luxury of treating the arts as a profession, but rather as a hobbya��youngsters today are willing to take a chance with their lives,a�? says Karthik Kumar, who founded the theatre group Evam 12 years ago. He adds that societal acceptance makes it easier to turn it into a full-time profession. a�?When my generation came into the arts, we came from other spheres of life. Now, with people getting into it as young as 17, it will give them better grounding and will keep my generation on our toes,a�? he says. We talk to 12 who are pushing the envelope.
Singer. Composer. Producer Maria Roe Vincent | 26
I am a singer, composer, writer, producer, director, marketing person and publicity agent. Thata��s a lot of work,a�? laughs Maria Roe Vincent, quickly adding that she wouldna��t have it any other way. The graduate of Bostona��s Berklee College of Music was working as a vocal faculty at KM College, when AR Rahman spotted her and asked her to sing in Kadal. With her work in composer Anirudh Ravichandera��s latest, Naanum Rowdy Thaan, bringing in accolades, shea��s says shea��s concentrating on original content, too. a�?Last year, I released a single, Neethan Yen Dream Girl, and now Ia��m working on my second, which will be an EDM-based number,a�? says Vincent, who is also quite active with El Fe, the acapella group and choir she started. a�?We just released a video of 2014a��s Tamil hits and it got over 4,000 hits in less than a week,a�? she smiles, adding that shea��s working on a Rajnikanth medley now and is planning a national tour. With Beyonce as her role model and becoming the a�?Queen Beea�? her goal, Vincent is juggling her vocal arrangement work (changing music for a specific vocal or instrument combination) with lessons in sound design and EDM. a�?I want to experiment with my sounds and in a couple of years, I will compose for movies,a�? she concludes.
Now and then:Earlier, a career in music followed traditional routes. Now people are moving away from playback singing and trying to make it big in alternative mediums, like YouTube
Standup comic. Actor.Scriptwriter Rajiv Rajaram | 30
Multipotentialite. Thata��s a word Rajiv Rajaram believes best describes him. His calling card fits a lot: former ad and radio man, actor, scriptwriter, director, comedian and now creative director of the comedy group, Put Chutney. At 30, hea��s checked off everything on his a�?firsta�? bucket list. a�?Ia��ve always gone with the flow. I took up writing like I took up football. When no one volunteered to be a goalkeeper, I did. When I realised there werena��t many writers in the city, I picked up the pen,a�? shares the boy from Madurai, whose scripts for Chairpersons and Karpooram won at the Short & Sweet festivals in 2012 and 2014. Having an opinion on everything made comedy a natural fit, he laughs. Today, his comic sketches with Enna Da Rascalas and Put Chutneya��the latest being How to Eat on a Banana Leaf and the just-released Lifecycle of a Software Engineera��are going viral. But Rajaram is clear: life isna��t just about making money. After all, following his passion got him the chance to write scripts for Aha Kalyanam and Munne Moone Vaarthey. a�?Now I am working on adapting my script for Typists with Destiny into a full length play or a film,a�? he concludes.
“I took up writing like I tookA�up football. When no one volunteered for goalkeeper, I did. When I realised there werena��t many writers in the city, I picked up the pen”
Now and then:With the Short and Sweet Festival coming to town, things have changed. But we still make plays by watching other plays. Only an emphasis on education can change that
Director. Actor. Stunt man Krishnakumar Balasubramanian | 28
Krishnakumar Balasubramanian is clear: hea��d rather waste time doing something he likes than focus on something he doesna��t. a�?Ia��d gone to the US to pursue a double major in exercise science and media and communication, when I realised all I wanted to do was be on stage.a�? So he came back and joined The Little Theatre, whose work hea��d been following as a research assistant. In a couple of years, hea��d bagged the role of the dame in his first Christmas pantomime, Pirates of the Curried Beans, attended a five-month residency in South Korea (a�?it was by Assidej, an umbrella organisation for youth theatre, and I was the only Indiana�?), and even spent nine months in Australia doing a stunt course and martial arts so he could bring more physicality into his plays. He states that a�?if youa��ve seen a great fight sequence on screen, wea��ll do it better on stagea�?. Most recently, the artistic director of the theatre company took his play, The R.E.D. Bean Can, to Iran, to perform at the 22nd International Festival for Children and Youth. a�?This has opened up a lot of opportunities. Other fests are calling us and we are looking to return, for the Hajj Festival, in Tehran, next year,a�? says Balasubramanian, who also runs Kickass Entretainment, which creates plays for adults. Currently working on his next panto, The Prince of Persia, he will be premiering Giggles, a horror comedy, at the Short & Sweet Festival in Delhi (today), and plans to travel extensively a�?for inspirationa�?
Now and then: More youngsters are getting into theatre. Though people say that with quantity comes a lack of quality, I feel when so many do it out of passion, there will arise a need for training and quality
Director. Actor. Nethead
Mathivanan Rajendran | 30
When you see Mathivanan Rajendran on stage, with his fluid face and deep baritone, ita��s hard to believe he has degrees in automobile and industrial engineering idling in a file somewhere. But the theatre bug has bitten him harda��ever since he picked up the best actor award for a school production, The Cock, The Croc and the Candlestick. a�?When I started Stray Factory in 2010, people were talking about supporting theatre, but still doing it as a hobby,a�? says Rajendran, who believes the way forward is through diversifying. Just back from the Contemporary Arts Week in Delhi, where his play Osama, Cinema and a Whole Lot of Black Money performed to full houses, he shares, a�?The future is digital and virtual reality will be big. I want to be the first to create content for that.a�? The director-actor, who is very active on his YouTube channel, is also launching two web series in the next couple of months, which will culminate in an online festival. But this is not to say theatre will take a back seat. a�?I am drawn by physicality and Ia��m looking at doing contemporary physical theatre that is glocal in nature,a�? says Rajendran, adding that he is also open to cinema. With two movies, Andhra Mess and Sawaari, awaiting release and a third with director Guhan Senniappan (a�?I play a bad guya�?) in production, he states that he is also planning to go to the US next year, to look for acting jobs in theatre and films.
Now and then: Those who are watching theatre, and working in it, have changed. Now, with people cutting across boundaries, we are going beyond mainstream plays and trying offbeat, too
Director. Dancer. Singer Amrita Fredrick | 27
Les MisA�rables is a daunting subject for a directorial debut. But that didna��t stop Amrita Fredrick, who announced the launch of her theatre group, Kuku Company, last year with a production of the play. And it won her a standing ovation. a�?Ia��m a singer and dancer who slipped into musical theatre while in college,a�? she begins, adding, a�?I started my company because I believe there is so much talent here but not enough theatre.a�? Just back from Keralaa��s Soorya Festival, where she was part of Theatre Nishaa��s play, Oedipus, the 27-year-old is currently auditioning for her second production (refusing to divulge anything more than a�?ita��s a contemporary musicala�?). a�?I took an 18-month break between productions so that I could work with other people and hone my craft,a�? Fredrick says. The psychology graduate, who laughingly admits to using a�?psych toolsa�� in her direction, shares that she pays a lot of attention to designing her showsa��in fact, she did the costumes for her play, too. a�?I pick a word or a mood and link everything to it, creating an atmosphere for the audience,a�? she says. With a passion for physical theatrea��a�?a current favourite is the West End production of The Curious Case of the Dog in the Nighttimea�?a�� Fredrick wants to follow in US-based theatre director Ann Bogarta��s steps and grow in the industry.
“I started the Kuku Company because I believe there is so much talent here but not enough theatre”
Now and then: Schools now have theatre programmes, where they bring in professionals to train the students. This helps the arts reach a new audience
Movie star. Dancer. Model Pooja Devariya | 24
She is always animateda��leaping across the theatre stage, nailing punch lines or shooting a fashion flashback video of actresses. Pooja Devariyaa��who we recently saw in the play Osama, Cinema and a Whole Lot of Back Moneya��is now ready to take over the big screen, sharing frames with Vijay Sethupathi in Kutrame Dhandanai, a film by M Manikandan (director of Kaaka Muttai). a�?Ia��ve always wanted to do theatre and cinema. It just so happened that theatre came first,a�? says the 24-year-old, who is currently living in Mumbai, doing ads and awaiting the release of six of her Tamil films. But it hasna��t been an easy journey. a�?Ia��ve been trying to bag a role for six years. Directors said I had potential, but never cast me. I was depressed, before I literally woke up one day and told myself a�?Mumbai intimidates me so Ia��m going to face that fear and move therea��. Ita��s ironic that since I moved here, Ia��ve bagged so many films in the South,a�? she smiles, adding that shea��s considering shifting back. With Bollywood and cross-over films on her agenda next, Devariya says she keeps herself motivated by attending workshopsa��like an intensive one she did last year in South Korea, which resulted in 22 performances of the play Beyond Binarya��and by going where her heart takes her. a�?I dona��t have any role models, but I take inspiration from everything I see.a�?
Now and then:The plays I watched as a child were English ones, where Indians played a John or an Elizabeth. Today there is a lot more original, indigenous work being explored
A slender boy wielding a big druma��you may almost discount Vishwa Bharath, but thata��s only until he starts playing. The percussionist behind such works like Stray Factorya��s I am Cine-Maa and actress SS Kalairania��s Song of Lowino, he wants to do his bit to popularise the folk arts. a�?I studied silambam at school, before getting interested in drums and folk instruments like the thappu and thavil,a�? says Bharath, who has also mastered folk dance forms like thappatta, oyilattam and kavadi under the tutelage of city-based dance teacher, Nellai Manikandan. His mastery got him noticed by the Creative Group Noni, a theatre group from South Korea, when they came down in 2011 to perform Kkok-Du. And he made sure his association continueda��heading to Korea last year, in a collaboration with Inko, for a residency that had him touring with the show Beyond Binary, playing the urumi. a�?I want to collaborate with more artistes and spread our folk music,a�? says the 24-year old, whoa��s now preparing for an Australian tour. A student of the Government Music College in Adyar, he also teaches in his free timea��training students at several schools and city colleges like Womens Christian College and Ethiraj. a�?Next, I want to go back to Korea and learn their singing, storytelling, folk dance and percussion. Finding more contemporary expressions will help get our folk traditions a bigger audience,a�? he states.
NOW AND THEN:Ironically, folk has become a a�?newa�� thing now. Everything is going in reverse. People are updating themselves by learning our traditional folk dances and instruments
Theatre groups in India are still amateur, believes Meera Sitaraman. a�?We havena��t reached the level of specialisation the West has. So no one can just be an actor and survive. Everyone has to have something by the side, a second skilla��like an actor-director or actor-stage manager,a�? she says, adding that she did her first lighting workshop when Prakriti Foundation brought down British lighting designer Dee Ashworth in 2012. a�?The one-week workshop taught me the basicsa��about boards and rigs, how you put up lights and mix colours,a�? she states, recalling how Theatre Nishaa��s Balakrishnan asked her to light a play just a week after. a�?I lit The Secret Love Life of Ophelia, and I must say it went off well,a�? she laughs. Today, she is perfecting another craft, script writing, with Writera��s Bloca��an 18-month playwriting programme by the British Council, Mumbaia��s Rage Productions, and Londona��s Royal Court Theatre. a�?I was one of a handful chosen. My script and I have made it through the first two levels. If I make it through the final leg, Ia��ll stage my play at Prithvi Theatre next April,a�? says Sitaraman, who won best script two years in a row at the Short and Sweet Festival (2012-13). Plans are already in place to learn more in lighting, especially digital, and to explore traditional forms of theatre like Pandavani. a�?I want to write and direct plays that will incorporate these forms and not just do English proscenium theatre,a�? she adds.
“Theatre is still amateur in India. So no one can just be an actor and survivea��everyone has to have a second skill”
Now and then: My family wasna��t too keen about my career choice, but now they get excited. Sometimes. Also, unlike a decade ago, we have more opportunities to learn new things now
Dushyant Gunasekaran has a few revolutionary ideas. Like theatre doesna��t need talent. a�?It is based on commitment and attitude. And the more you give of that, the more the stage gives back,a�? he says. He also believes we are all born dramatistsa��that if you find your voice and pursue it with discipline, you are a good actor. This philosophy guides Crea Shakthi, the theatre group he started with six like-minded individuals in 2012. a�?I realised there was no singular approach to building a community for youngsters in the craft. And they were becoming dispassionate because their stories werena��t being heard. So we came up with a self-sustaining plan to do just that and now we are a theatre institution,a�? he says. They teach in over 30 schoolsa��including in Kochi and Bengalurua��and help produce plays in over a dozen colleges. They also make customised theatrical plans for different audiences. Though Gunasekaran admits they often face criticism, he turns a deaf ear. a�?We dona��t want to be the Reliance of the theatre world. We are everywhere not out of greed, but out of need.a�? Joining The Madras Players last month, as its youngest committee member, he has a play with them in November and plans to venture into talent management next. a�?Wea��ve created an identity and an institution. Next we will turn it into an industry,a�? he says, adding that theya��ve just launched a performance space, Crea Studio, in Gopalapuram and plan to get into music, too, a�?to see if we can help bands reach new audiences.a�?
Now and then: Earlier, theatre was a closely-guarded space that not everyone could enter. Now people are open to all optionsa��from watching students perform to catching a play in a classroom or a theatre
Actor. Surfer. Marketing Director Karuna Amarnath | 30
By day she is the marketing director of one of the citya��s five-star hotels. Any free time is devoted to her passionsa��theatre, surfing, sailing and travelling. a�?Theatre is a space where I unwind. I plan my life around it and then manage my job accordingly,a�? smiles Karuna Amarnath. Coming from a family of theatre enthusiasts (who put up annual plays at the Maharashtra mandal), stage fright was never in her DNA. Right out of college she joined Evam, a�?as their first employeea�? and did several plays, before joining theatre group Perch in 2008. And now everyone in the city knows her by the name of her character in the eponymous play, Miss Meena. a�?I was not the first choice, (actress) Aparna Gopinath was. But when she couldna��t do it, I got in through a cast vote,a�? she admits, explaining that it was a struggle to a�?finda�? her character at such a young age. Though Miss Meena got her several calls for movie roles, she turned them all down. a�?I cana��t give up theatre any time soon. It allows you so much independence, and it has also made me more trusting and open to experiences,a�? says Amarnath, who is going with her play, How to Skin a Giraffe, to the National School of Drama Festival. Besides workshoppinga��string puppetry from the French group String Theatre, commedia della��arte from Mumbai-based Yuki Elias and kalari from artiste Prabhath Bhaskaran in Pondicherrya��she wants to a�?co-create thingsa�? and shares a�?I am interested in movement, using a non-verbal medium, but not as contemporary dance.a�?
NOW AND THEN:A�A�People are more exposed to new plays, so things are bound to improve. But we still cana��t sustain theatre because we dona��t have a support systema��like good spaces to perform at
If she could, shea��d clone herself. For Vandana Srinivasan wants to do a�?tonnes of thingsa�?. a�?I want to work with Amit Trivedi and AR Rahman, I want to travel, and even study Sufi singing,a�? rattles off the playback singer, who is currently juggling concert tours, a song with composer D Imman and collaborations with foreign artistes. The psychology and economics graduate, who started studying music at the age of four, says 2011 was her career-maker. a�?I met Shankar Tucker, the American composer, online and we collaborated on Thuli Thuliyaal. This gave me an online presence and I started doing YouTube videos,a�? says Srinivasan, whoa��s just wrapped up a project with a new artiste in Italy. Then 2012 gave her a once-in-a-lifetime opportunitya��to perform a�?Carnatic, Hindustani and filmi musica�? with her band Stacatto at the London Olympics. The same year got her her first song, with GV Prakash in Thaandavam. With a few Bollywood auditions (still under wraps) in her kitty, Srinivasan is concentrating on a new album (a�?Indian lounge musica�?) and strengthening her entrepreneurial venture, Vandanam. a�?Upcoming artistes can work on projects with us, which will then become a part of their portfolio. This helps them showcase their work,a�? she signs off.
NOW AND THEN:The industry is more open to people, especially newcomers, from outside their circle. My only grouse: with technology, I miss the old magic of everyone recording together
Poet. Actor. DancerA�Shakthi Ramani | 24
Shea��s young, shea��s talented and shea��s obsessed with acting. a�?Ia��ve wanted to act since I was eight, but I didna��t have the courage until I was in college,a�? says Shakthi Ramani, who won two best actress awards while in college and then joined Theatre Nisha in 2011. Today, she is known by theatre enthusiasts for her role as Mata Hari. While she has pitched in with lighting and costumes, Ramani says she is taking her time adding new skill sets. a�?Ia��m doing a one year movement training course at Attakkalari, learning bharatnatyam, ballet, kalari, contemporary and more. Ia��ll soon start folk dances, too, like devarattam and kudiyattom. I want to take my learning back and do plays with ita��bring movement back to theatre,a�? she says. Another aspect she wants to explore is her poetry. a�?Ia��ve been writing for four years and Ia��m still finding my voice. But in a couple of years, I will convert them into plays,a�? she says. Constantly workshopping to keep herself on her toesa��like the recent ones with Heisnam Tomba, the founder-director of Kalakshetra Manipur, who works with physicality and voice, and with Finnish movement artiste, Anna Olkinuoraa��shea��s also drawn up several bucket lists. a�?One includes fine-tuning my adaptation of my mothera��s (writer Andal Priyadarshini) short story, Vaanavil Vaazhkai, and playing the leada��of a woman who does nude modelling to send her daughters to school,a�? she says. Next up, ita��s a trip to the UK to study movement at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.
NOW AND THEN:Theatre has become more accepted as a professiona��as a space where you can earn money. But ita��s also become a little corporatised. That said, the scope for having different expressions is always good
This season, play up your puja space with porcelain Ganesha diyas, silver vessels, a marble figurine of Goddess Durga and more
With Diwali just over a week away, ita��s all about rituals, lights and decorations. Give your puja room a dash of drama with Frazer and Hawsa�� Sherawali Maa figurine or a touch of sparkle with the exquisite puja thali from Episode. From porcelain and marble idols to fragrances and bells, here is our pick of puja essentials.
Text: Mayuri J Ravi
Take a stand
Amrapali has introduced a new range of silver diya stands. Featuring Om and Lakshmi, there is also a Carnelian-studded version. Our pick is this handcrafted silver Ganesha diya stand, embellished with multi-coloured stones. RsA�12,000. Details: tribebyamrapali.com
While it is an ideal gift for the season, these laser-cut diyas from Gifted will also make a great centre piece for your festive kolam. Or you could group them together at the entrance of your home this Diwali. The lamps, with metal T-light holders, come in bright colours like yellows, oranges and pinks. RsA�300. Available at their store in Mylapore. Details: 42106559
Handcrafted in pure Makrana marble, Frazer and Hawsa�� Sherawali Maa figurine is embellished with sterling silver jewellerya��with 24 karat gold accents and crystals. Part of its Shakti collection, the idol gets a burst of colour with a red sari that is also crafted out of marble. The collection includes a Goddess Durga and plaques of Goddess Shakti. RsA�7,65,000. Available at Estaa, Kwality House, Mumbai. Details: 022 23824429
Lladroa��s latest offering is the Ganesha diya, which promises to add a touch of special to the festivities. Hand-crafted in white porcelain, and hand painted to a glossy finish by Lladroa��s master artisans in Valencia (Spain), this is an elegant addition to your puja room. RsA�14,000. Available at the store in Bergamo Mall. Details: 43219440
Once a prized merchandise on the Silk Route, frankincense is thankfully easier to source these days. Drop by Good Earth to pick up their Frankincense Ancient Incense set, which contains an antique brass Dewa Dunna fumer, frankincense resin, charcoal pellets, matchbox and a paraffin wax candle. Perfect to set the mood. RsA�3,200. Details: 43087878
You can never go wrong with sterling silver. This kalash, from city-based Vummidi Silverware, has engravings of Goddess Lakshmi and can be used to store the coconut, mango leaves and holy water for the puja. RsA�5,000 approximately. Available at the store in Anna Nagar. Details: 42888600
Circle of light
Made of sterling silver, this Shree Yantra puja thali set from Episode is inspired by the yantras (or mandalas)a��the spiritual symbol that represents the universe. It comes with a diya, an incense stick holder and a bell. Available at the store in Ispahani Centre. Details: 42113305
Ring it in
Taamaa, the Delhi-based lifestyle brand known for its eclectic range of polished metal products, presents their puja collection, Ambuj. Inspired by the curves of the lotus, it comprises puja thalis, ghee pots and charnamrit bowls. We like the minimalist bell made of high gloss
copper and nickel. RsA�590.
Designers who fashion gilets from Kanjeevaram and bags from cork, to a blogger who has turned her love for garments into a business plan for pop-ups a�� Chennai latest stars A�
From working with the underprivileged and creating eco-friendly designs, to encouraging artisans from acrossA�the country, Chennaia��s new fashion people believe in savvy marketing and attention to detail. Lata Madhu of Collage, who has hosted many of the countrya��s leading names at her multi-designer boutique, admits that some ofthe new designers in the city a�?are really good and experiment with everything, a bit like a kaleidoscope.a�? They are all tech-smart, she agrees, and they place importance on the a�?wow-factora�� with projects. a�?That said, even if you are quirky, you must consistently bring out something original every season. You cannot be a one-time wonder,a�? she cautions. Herea��s what the designers have to say:
Text: Shibi Kumaramangalam
Saloni Shah, 24
Fashion and personal stylist, Saloni Shah, a graduate of the LaSalle College of Arts (Singapore), has turned her passion for retail therapy into a profession. a�?As a stylist, my job is to shop and I get paid to be a shopping machine, so whata��s not to love?a�? she asks. Currently working as an image consultant at the family-owned Revive Wellness Lounge and Qualia Spa, she puts her experience at the multi-designer address, Evoluzione, and online shopping platform, C-Bazaar, to good use. a�?More than the modelling I did when in school, I loved the shoots and what goes on behind the scenesa��the conceptualisation, sourcing of garments and styling,a�? she says. She believes it is important to be fit, healthy and work towards your ideal image. Shaha��s business plan is to offer styling services to clients to complement what is offered at the fitness lounge, with packages like a�?The Ultimate Closet Makeovera�� and a�?Shop Till You Dropa��. a�?People have this misconception that you have to be a celebrity to work with a personal stylist. Thata��s not true. A personal stylist can come to your rescue by keeping you in the loop with the latest trends, designers, stores and bargains,a�? she sums up.
Aarti Deepak Vencatachellum, 29
I was always a sucker for labels and wanted my own name in this industry,a�? explains the founder-designer behind Chennai fashion label ADV (her initials), known for floor-length gowns and elaborate anarkalis. Vencatachellum graduated with a mastera��s degree in fashion design from the Istituto Marangoni in Milan (2011), after which she worked as the head merchandiser for the textile chain, Pothys. On what inspired her to pursue this line, the designer says, a�?I love the way fabric moves, stretches and works around the body. It gives me the challenge of making a perfectly fitting garment for each of my clients.a�? Vencatachellum, who loves working with everything from silk and lycra to leather and crochet, shares that her label caters to women of all ages. Meanwhile, ADV is set to debut on high fashion e-store, Perniaa��s Pop Up Shopa��one of the few city-based labels to make the cut. With casual, work and wedding essentials to red carpet gowns, the brand has every woman covered. a�?My forte is haute couture. I recently started menswear, as many of my brides wanted solutions for their grooms.a�? She also spends a few hours a week teaching at INIFD (Inter National Institute of Fashion Design). Details: 9962062098
Shivani Patel, 23, &A�Keshsa Vasant, 24
The young team behind the eco-friendly handbags at Chennai-based Arture believe in sustainable fashion. a�?Arture stands for a�?Arta�� and a�?Naturea��,a�? explains the branda��s co-founder, Shivani Patel. a�?We strongly believe that fashion should not come at the price of a life.a�? The NIFT Chennai graduate and her partner Keshsa Vasant sought crowd-funding to help kick-start their au naturale brand that has wallets and bags fashioned from cork material. a�?We are a completely cruelty-free, vegan and eco-friendly brand,a�? says Keshsa, a marketing graduate from the University of Denver, adding, a�?We feel there are other alternatives to leather, and cork is one of them.a�? The Chennai-born ladies are aware that sustainable fashion is the way forward. Keshsa handles the marketing of this start-up, having previously worked at ad agency RK Swamy BBDO, while Shivani is the designer. a�?When we first explain to someone that we work with cork, we see an expression of confusion on their facesa��theya��re obviously imagining wine stoppers, which is what most of us associate cork with. They expect something hard and brittle. But then when we pull out a wallet, they go a�?woaha��!a�? Fortunately, the mahogany and wine red sling bags, wallets and iPad sleeves do not bear the faintest resemblance to a bottle stopper. The duo spend their spare time researching new eco-friendly materials and reusable resources. a�?In the next five years we want to break the mindset that only leather is premium,a�? says Kesha. Arture products are available online and soon in select boutiques. A�Details: arture.in
Ekta Nahar 24 , Sandeep Ravi 25A�
A NIFT Chennai alumnus, Sandeep Ravi has worked in the visual merchandising department of Tommy Hilfiger, but monotony got the best of him. He finally decided to make his own design ideas a reality and in 2012, launched Studio 9696, along with two classmates, one of them being Kavitha Kothari (far left). The third partner was recently replaced by Ekta Nahar, a junior at NIFT. The fashion studio does styling for brands and individuals (Kamal Haasan and Taapsee Pannu), and also has a line of womena��s wear, with a following for bridal couture, denim sari blouses and evening gowns. They have worked on costumes for two movies, Yash Raj productiona��s Aaha Kalyanam (2014), and James Vasanthana��s Vaanavil Vaazhkai (2015). Besides movie stars, they are popular with A�television celebrities. To the many young fashion entrepreneurs out there, Ravi says, a�?Start out slow, with low investments. When you gain some experience, put in more money.a�? Details: 8939020391
Pritha Kishor, 29
The creative force behind design label Asat, Pritha Kishora��s love for colour is evident when you step into her Nungambakkam studio. a�?From white to teal, to peach to bright red, I dona��t really have a favourite colour. It depends on what mood Ia��m in,a�? she laughs. Introducing her bespoke label, she explains that Asat, in Urdu, can be roughly translated to a�?an object that is powerfula�?. Kishor shares that since its inception in 2011, their creations have been about the clienta��s nature and whimsy. There are sleeveless, buttoned-down jackets and gilets made from Kanjeevaram and other unusual fabrics. The NIFT alumnus identifies artisans from across the country. The label has also garnered a following for its unique prints featured in menswear and childrena��s clothes (geometric motifs, fish, rabbits and even the four-leaf clover). There are shirts for men in every shade of blue you can imagine. Her printed silk dhoti pants and kaftan tops bring attention to the luxurious fabrics used for womena��s wear. a�?We work with flowy, treated fabrics such as soft silk, organza and georgette. Our garments transcend time and trend,a�? concludes the designer. Details: facebook.com/asatdesignstudio/info
Vishwa Dave, 30
Vishwa Davea��s recent pop-up event at The Collective, The Embellvish Festive Trunk Show, was a huge success, with Chennaites scooping up the capes on sale. The fashion blogger and entrepreneur brought down creations of Hyderabad-based Jayanti Reddy, Mumbaia��s Babita Malkani and others to town, and ensured that it was affordable fashion (the collection started at `4,000). a�?To make aspirational fashion (found online and on magazines) accessible to peoplea�? is a skill, she agrees. Having done brand styling for Phoenix MarketCitya��s Spring Summer 2015 and Autumn Winter 2015 promos for the mall, Dave is also busy with a styling project for an Indian footwear company. Details are under wraps for now. Not focusing on personal styling projects any more, the 30-year-old economics graduate, who was always inclined towards fashion and retail, says that she is going to be busy with her brand projects. But given the success of her pop-up store, you may expect a few more in the city soon. A�Details: 9884716685
Harsha Vardhini, 24
Co-founder of the design label Pahar, Harsha Vardhini says that at the ripe young age of 24, she is now an accomplished multi-tasker. a�?I work in all aspects of the businessa��from designing to PRa��so I have learnt to think from diverse perspectives. Ita��s been a fantastic learning experience.a�? Vardhini launched Pahar with her cousin Parkavi Ramaswamy in Chennai, last December. a�?Pahar is not just a fashion label,a�? says the London College of Fashion graduate. a�?Our clothes are designed with the intention of showcasing the opulent heritage fabrics of our country to a versatile global audience.a�? Having interned with Ralph Lauren and Juicy Couture in college, and then worked with the Shilpi team in the city, the designer brings a strong foundation in traditional fabrics and artisanal crafts to her label. a�?Essentially, we do modern Indo-western clothes with chic silhouettes and rich Indian textiles. There is an emphasis on the quality of our handcrafted silks and cottons, and on the workmanship of fine craftsmen.a�? A self-professed peoplea��s person, she confesses that her greatest influence in life comes from the various people she meets. a�?I learn through people, conversations, actions, et al, and this influences my design.a�? We adore Pahara��s new hand-painted maxi dresses, brocade jumpsuits and Grecian-inspired evening gowns in silk. Details: ewalifestyle.com
As non-mainstream games like futsal and spikeball pick up steam in the city, we talk to the players who are going places
BACK in 2007, when Ultimate Frisbee hit Chennaia��s shores, it was the refreshing change that youngsters in the city were looking for. Soon, paintball followed and since then, this city has absorbed many more non-mainstream sports and games, Spikeball being the newest. a�?Our first tournament took place in August and the next one will take place in December,a�? assures Vishnu Sharma, 25, who introduced the game earlier this year. With city-based paintball team, Paint Mechanix, representing India at the World Paintball Championship in Langkawi, we take a look at the citya��s best teams in sports like futsal, lazer tag and more.
Text: Ryan Peppin
ULTIMATE FRISBEE airborne
Ultimate Frisbee is not new to the city. Among the four big tournaments conducted in India (Bengaluru, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Mumbai), the Chennai Heat is the only one on a beach. And among the approximately nine teams that compete from Chennai, Airborne, a club that was started in 2009, has several youngsters coming together for the game. a�?We have 20 active members and always go as two teams with a mix of three women and four men in each,a�? says Karthik Viswanathan, captain and a star player. a�?Therea��s an upcoming tournament in Surat in December that will introduce a category exclusively for women,a�? he adds, admitting that an increasing number of players from Ulloor Kuppam (slum) have switched from cricket to Ultimate Frisbee and love the recognition this game offers them. These winners of the Chennai Heat for the past three consecutive years, are also hoping to extend that streak to the Ahmedabad tournament that they have won for the past two years.
LAZER TAG neon syndicate
Within seven months of launching the lazer tag arena, G Sector in Nungambakkam, owner Girish Subash kept up his promise of organising a tournament to spread awareness about lazer tag. Several enthusiasts got together and formed around 20 teams who faced each other in the smokey, neon room that now hosts nearly 400 players a week. The best shots from these teams banded together to form Neon Syndicate, which is now the official team of G Sector and is competing against teams from arenas around the world at an ongoing organisersa�� meet in Dubai. a�?Girish is working towards forming a lazer tag federation. Post that, we will be inviting teams from different cities to participate in tournaments here,a�? says Abishek Rengasamy, the captain of Neon Syndicate who is a garments businessman by profession. And with youngsters between 15 and 25 refusing to put their blasters down on weekends, wea��re quite confident this is just the boost the game needs. Sadly, wea��ll have to wait till January 2016 for the federation to materialise.
Abishek Rengasamy, 26, heads the young team of five that represents the G Sector arena in Nungambakkam
SPIKEBALL spike busters
Essentially a beach game, this modified version of volleyball has been around for years but reached our shores only earlier this year. In a matter of months, 25 teams of two each participated in a tournament this August, and since then, the community has been growing. a�?It actually started in the Ultimate Frisbee circle, so most of us play both,a�? says Harsha Vardhan, whose team was the runner up. a�?It has spread to Bengaluru too now and we are conducting a tournament in December that will see teams from both cities participate,a�? he adds. Though the Spikeball sets cost Rs 4,500 and have to be imported, enthusiasts are pooling in money to buy them and promote the sport, wea��re told. a�?It is also spreading among the college crowd now and we plan to introduce it in schools next year,a�? says Vardhan, who is positive that this will become the next big sport to hit Chennaia��s beaches.
The citya��s first Spikeball tournament this August saw 25 teams participating, and Harsha Vardhan, 23, and his teammate look forward to the next in December
FUTSAL | tamil nadu titans
Governed by the Futsal Association of India, this modified version of football is much quicker than the original and with fewer players as well. Chennai has three Futsal arenas including one with a turf called Tiki Taka. a�?The game takes a bit of getting used to for regular football players,a�? says Haroon Sherif, the captain of the Tamil Nadu and Indian futsal teams. His Tamil Nadu Titans placed third at the countrya��s first national tournament that took place in Pune recently, while the India team also placed third at the Asia Cup that took place in Malaysia. a�?We are also looking at coming up with something like the ISL,a�? says Sherif, who runs a logistics company and is pursuing a degree through correspondence.
Four years old in Chennai, Futsala��s Tamil Nadu and India teams are both headed by Haroon Sherif, 19, whose team placed third at the Asia Cup in Malaysia