Thursday, December 29, 2011


Natesan Park, Chinmaya Nagar, Chennai

Well, all of you must be aware of the protests that are happening around the world – all against corruption. The movements are generally termed “Occupy” movements beginning with Occupy Wall Street. I also need to mention here that they have all been a roaring success with the changing levels of energy on the advent of the Aquarian Age aka Golden Age.

My sister Lakshmi and I did our bit for the movement that I would like to call “Occupy” Natesan Park. This is a park that is right across my parents’ home in Chinmaya Nagar.

During my recent visit to Chennai, I got in touch with my friend Jayashree after 15-16 years and could not wait to go meet her at Adyar. Transport in Chennai is terribly expensive, auto-rickshaws fleecing customers. Since I had a long way to travel from Chinmaya Nagar to Adyar, I arranged for a metered cab from Friends Cabs.

My friend Jayashree and me
The taxi service is quite friendly going by their name. I got a call from the cab driver and went out to find a Tavera waiting for me. I told the guy that I was just one person travelling and how come they had sent me such a big vehicle. He told me that he had been in the vicinity and that’s why had been sent but the charges were the same.

He asked me whether I wanted AC and when I said, “No”, he switched the meter on to Rs. 120. I asked him if that was the minimum rate and he said, “Yes”. Not having been to Chennai in the past 9 months, I thought that must be it and did not say anything further. When I got off at Adyar, the meter showed Rs. 234. I paid the cash and insisted on a bill (I usually don’t bother) and the driver gave it to me very reluctantly (or so it seemed to me then).

In the evening, I booked another cab for my return and by now knowing what was required, I told Friends Cabs that I needed a non-AC cab for one person. A cabbie promptly got an Indica for my return journey.

He switched on the meter and it showed Rs. 100. I was surprised and asked him about the rate. He told me that that was the rate for a single person travelling non-AC. I told him about my morning ride and he said that that was probably because a Tavera was a big cab. I could not relate to the logic as it was only me travelling and I had not asked for a big cab. As the driver had no answer, I called the cab service.

No one was interested in listening to me. I called six times and they kept transferring me to the Complaints Department with no on answering my call. On my sixth call, I insisted on explaining my problem and one lady (Viji was her name, she said) said that maybe I could pay Rs. 20 less on my return journey. I felt that it was not fair as the meter keeps registering a different rate when it starts at Rs. 120. I had probably paid Rs. 50 more than what should have been charged me. When I told her that, she told me to talk to Complaints. I stopped her from transferring me and said, “No one is picking there. Get them to call me. I have called you 6 times from my Mumbai cell number. This is not fair to me at all. If I don’t get a call within half-an-hour when I get off, I will pay Rs. 50 less to this cabbie.” She told me that she will get Complaints to call me and disconnected.

The Indica driver had a lot of advice to give me. He even told me to call the earlier cab driver. I was clear that I had hired a cab from Friends Cabs and not picked one off the road. I was only going to talk to the company.

I am sure you guessed right that no one bothered to call me. I picked Lakshmi from her office on my way home and we got off at the Chinmaya Nagar Market. The meter showed Rs. 250 and true to my word, I paid the cabbie Rs. 200 and got off. He was so angry and he started shouting. I told him that I was ready to sign on the copy of the bill and say that I had paid Rs. 50 less in protest. I thought that was very fair and will make sure that he will not land in trouble. There was no way that I was going to part with Rs. 50. I refused to be cheated. Lakshmi was in full support.

We left and went into a restaurant to have a snack. That’s when the calls started coming - from Friends Cabs and from the Indica driver. Each of them must have called me half-a-dozen times. While the interruptions were irritating, a morbid side of me was enjoying them. When I had called, no one had bothered, but when I refused to pay up, they were calling me again and again. They even advised me to go to their head office at Mohappair which would have probably cost me another Rs. 250.

To continue with my story, Lakshmi and I went around the market purchasing a number of things and went down Natesan Nagar 3rd Main Road to reach our parents’ house. Lo and behold! The cabbie of the Indica was standing right in the middle of the street awaiting us. He walked along harassing us, shouting, threatening and cajoling us in turn to pay up the money. He insisted that he would be in trouble when we repeatedly told him that I didn’t mind signing on the bill mentioning the amount paid, but he was adamant. I told him that we could go to the police and he immediately started moving fast towards the police station outside Natesan Park.

The police station outside the park where we sought help

Lakshmi and I were a bit worried as our parents are quite old and stay by themselves directly across the Park. We did not want the cabbie to find the house to have him harassing them. We walked with him to the police station and waited patiently while he complained to the three Police Inspectors standing outside, obviously preparing to leave as they were not wearing their uniforms. Once he was done, I spoke my side. I explained how I was from outside Chennai and what had happened since the minute I had got into the Tavera in the afternoon.

I also mentioned that I had no intention of paying up the Rs. 50 and I did not want to be cheated. The policemen agreed with me completely and tried to persuade the cabbie to agree. But he went on arguing. I said that I was keen to meet the police mainly to ensure that my parents were not harassed after I left town after a couple of days. The policemen said, “Not to worry Ma’m, we are right here. No one will dare harass your parents. It is our job to protect them.” I felt quite relieved and happy and my faith was restored in the police force. God bless them!

The cabbie called up his office yet again and the police officer spoke to them and told them to get off the case and said that it was only fair that I refused to pay up the extra cash that I had been cheated out off earlier. Not having a choice, the cabbie left to do his work. The sad thing was that he probably missed another fare that could have earned him some more money. But then, that’s the mentality of most of the people driving transport around Chennai - very short-term thinking.

Lakshmi and I left for home after thanking the policemen and felt very satisfied with our mission – OCCUPY NATESAN PARK.

Picture Courtesy: Lakshmi Ranganathan (those of Natesan Park). Thank you Lak! For the pictures and your support in the Occupy venture :D

Saturday, December 17, 2011


A light romance that was fun from the way go with excellent casting

Cast: Ranveer Singh, Anushka Sharma, Dippanita Sharma, Parineeti Chopra, Aditi Sharma
Director: Maneesh Sharma

It’s been over a week since the film’s release. We had been wondering whether to watch it or not. Last night, Venkat and I decided to go to the film at Cinemax Sion.

THE STORY: Ricky Bahl (Ranveer Singh) goes under various aliases. He has only one purpose – to con young women into parting with their cash. He does not cheat them into physical relationships or any such thing. Ricky studies his targets thoroughly before jumping into the fray. He flatters them and manages to loot them. As Sunny, he becomes Dimple’s (Parineeti Chopra) boyfriend, impresses her parents and loots 20 lakh. He sells a fake MF Hussain painting to Raina’s (Dipannita Sharma) company for a crore and twenty lakh. But what he had not foreseen was Raina’s aggressive nature. She sets out to get in touch with the other women he has cheated and sets up a plan. That’s when the young widow Saira (Aditi Sharma) joins the group. She had been cheated of 10 lakh rupees by Iqbal, another alias of Ricky. Raina, Dimple and Saira get together and hire Ishika Desai (Anushka Sharma) to con Ricky Bahl ala Not-a-Penny-More-Not-a-Penny-Less-style. Watch the film to see how far they succeed.

MY PERCEPTION: The film ran for approximately two hours and was well scripted, directed and edited. The only fault I could find there was the songs that keep cropping up mid-way. But I suppose one has to learn to live with them in Bollywood.

Dipannita Sharma has come a very long way since December 16. She has quite a chunky role in this film and she has performed quite well. With her height, I would presume that Dipannita must be a model. But she has terrible dress sense. The first few scenes were good. Later, at Goa, she was dressed horribly in every single scene.

Aditi Sharma as Saira was excellent. She probably will never make a heroine, but she looked very cute and acted very well.

Of these three women, the first prize goes to Parineeti Chopra as Dimple Chaddha. She was just too good as an irritating Punjabi, rich, spoilt brat. She acted extremely well and her dialogue delivery was just perfect.

Anushka Sharma looked gorgeous and acted very well too. Her on-screen chemistry with Ranveer Singh was superb. Her eyes are too expressive and her dressing sense gets better and better. Keep up the great work, Anushka!

Ranveer Singh was very good in his first film, Band Baaja Baaraat. In this, he is even more polished. He has walked through his role casually and done a fabulous job. Kudos!

I congratulate Yash Raj Films for bringing forth yet another light romance with excellent casting that I thoroughly enjoyed!

VERDICT: You should watch it if you are a fan of Ranveer Singh or Anushka Sharma and especially if you are fond of romances. A light movie!

RATING: *** Smart

* Silly
** Shaky
*** Smart
**** Snazzy
***** Super

Tuesday, December 6, 2011



Cast: Vidya Balan, Naseeruddin Shah, Emraan Hashmi, Tusshar Kapoor
Director: Milan Luthria

The film was released on December 2, 2011 (Silk Smitha’s birthday, I believe) while a lot of hype surrounding it has been doing the rounds since the last few weeks. A number of TV channels were interviewing Vidya Balan about the success of the film before we finally – Venkat, Vinitha and I – got around to seeing the film on Monday night. I, for one, was floored.

THE STORY: The story revolves around the real life story of Silk Smitha, a South Indian actor who used to do sexy item numbers and play the vamp in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada films. But of course, as the makers of the film claim, it could be the story of just any item girl. I don’t have an argument to offer.

The film is set in Tamil Nadu where Reshma (Vidya Balan) lives in a village. She has always believed there is more excitement beyond the borders of the village. No amount of discouragement from her mother changes the girl’s mind. The teenager runs away from home to go live in Chennai. She undergoes a lot of difficulty, many times going without food, to go around studios looking for acting parts to play. Reshma is discovered quite by chance when she does a dance in a flick when the original dancer does not arrive on time. She goes to the theatre to find that the scene has been cut as Director Abraham (Emraan Hashmi) has removed it out of the film, as he believes it’s too dirty to be a part of his movie. Reshma is extremely disappointed. But her fortunes change when the movie does not run. The producer adds her dance sequence back into the film and re-releases it to full houses. He gives Reshma the screen name of Silk and there is no looking back. Watch the film to see how the Sexy Silk rules the screen over the next few years and wears her sexuality proudly. The film also goes on to show her downfall as younger stars begin to appear on the scene.

MY PERCEPTION: The film belongs to Vidya Balan, Vidya Balan, Vidya Balan. She was simply amazing as she played Sexy Silk just perfectly. I remember seeing a number of Tamil films starring Silk Smitha during my college days and later. I had liked the actress as she is one of the few who could also act while performing sexy item numbers. She used to wear her sexuality like a second skin and it sat quite well on her. Vidya Balan has captured that on screen just perfectly. Need I say more?

I have to mention here that Vidya was perfectly made up and looked absolutely beautiful. I thought she always did, only many-a-time, her make-up used to be terrible and most of the time, her clothes. Everything was just perfect in this film.

All the other actors – Naseeruddin Shah, Emraan Hashmi and the rest – well, they all complimented the heroine.

I wonder whether Tusshar Kapoor was in the film just because he is Ekta Kapoor’s brother? The film could have done as well without him.

The film sequences of the 1980s have been captured perfectly and Vidya adds life to each and every one of them. KUDOS! Looking forward to a lot more, Vidya Balan!

VERDICT: A must see, even if you are not a Vidya Balan fan. I am sure you will turn into one after watching this one.

RATING: ****Snazzy

* Silly
** Shaky
*** Smart
**** Snazzy
***** Super

Saturday, December 3, 2011


The Sanctorum

December 1, 2011 saw the inauguration of the TTD (Tirumalai Tirupati Devasthanam) Temple at Sion West. A murthi of Sri Balaji has been erected in the ground floor of a building directly behind Vittal Mandir that is on the Sion-Panvel Highway. The murthi has been brought all the way from Tirupati and has been created exactly like the moolavar (main idol) at Tirupati Mandir.

Venkat had read the news in the papers that TTD was opening a branch near Sion Circle on December 1. He went looking for the office yesterday and discovered this temple.

The crowd entering the temple immediately after aarti
I was absolutely thrilled when Venkat came home yesterday to tell me that TTD has established a temple of Sri Balaji at Sion.

Garudan directly opposite The Lord
Today, both of us went there for Sri Balaji’s Darshan. I am so happy that the Lord has come down to live in our area and will be accessible so easily.

Another view from outside
They have an office where one can book e-Dharshan to visit the original Venkateswara at Tirupati. Booking needs to be done from 3 to 6 days in advance, depending on the crowd at that point in time.

Lord Venkateswara & Padmavathi Thayar at my nephew's wedding
I don’t know when I am going to get a chance to go to Tirupati. In the meanwhile, this temple is absolutely gorgeous and thankfully the temple will not be too crowded and I can visit as often as I please.

A picture of Lord Balaji at Vasanth Bhavan, a restaurant at Chennai
While they told me that I could not take pictures, I had already clicked a few. Thank you, Lord Venkateswara, for those clicks.

Temple Timings:

Aarti – 6 am to 6.15 am (curtain closed)
Darshan – 6.15 am to 11.30 am
(The temple remains closed from 11.30 am to 4 pm)
Darshan – 4 pm to 6 pm
Aarti & Prasad – 6 pm to 6.30 pm (curtain closed)
Darshan – 6.30 pm to 9 pm

The Address:

TTD Information Centre,
E-Seva and Prayer Hall,
No. 67, Jayant House,
Behind Vittal Mandir,
Near Sion Circle,
Sion (West),
Mumbai – 400022
Phone no.: 022-24011144

Timings for Booking Darshan at Tirupati

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Flower Therapy
Maintaining good health, I feel, is more important than curing bad health. I am sure most of you who are reading this article will agree with me. 

Popping pills is a pet peeve with me. There are ‘n’ number of tablets that could be bought off the shelf. It never seems to matter that some of these medicines have been banned in countries other than the third world.

Have a headache, swallow Saridon, Crocin, Anacin, Nice or anything else that you could lay your hands on. Having a headache generally means that your body is trying to tell you that something is wrong with it. 90% of the time, a headache means that you are dehydrated. Keep drinking water and you will find that the headache disappears almost immediately. Drinking Coconut Water works like magic. Headache also happens because of indigestion. Suppressing it with a pill is not the cure. I am sure you are able to understand that. STOP and THINK before taking a tablet.

Have a cold, pop Action 500 or something similar. I did that a couple of decades ago. Had just one Action 500 and had a nose bleed. The tablet lives up to its name. It probably performs 500 actions within our body and not all of them positive. My doctor fired me for swallowing such a strong pill for just a cold. Nowadays, I drink glasses of warm/hot water with a few drops of lemon juice and my cold disappears within 24 hours – the simplest way to treat the body without harmful side effects.

Allopathy is the most accepted form of treatment today in the world. But is it the best?

Allopathy offers the fastest cure for any disease. It is good for that reason. A course of medicines can last for a couple of weeks or may be a few months. What we need to understand is that medicines with heavy chemical content (Allopathy medicines are high in chemicals) should not be taken for a prolonged period. They will definitely have harmful side effects.
Doctors generally specialize in certain fields. The diabetic specialist does not understand the heart and both of them don’t know anything about your bones. Okay, maybe ‘anything’ is going overboard. But they definitely don’t know the total effect of their treatment for a particular disease on the rest of their patient’s body.
Continuously medicating a diabetic patient with medicines such as Insulin weakens the Pericardium. You might know that this is the wall that protects the heart. When the Pericardium weakens, a diabetic patient automatically becomes prone to heart attacks. Listen to my voice of experience. This is the problem my mother faces today.
Because she had a heart attack ten years ago, my mother was advised to take Ecosprin, once every day. Ecosprin thins the blood and this ensures that the blood flows freely and makes sure that another heart attack does not occur. Almost a year ago, 9 years after she had been on Ecosprin, her doctor felt that she needed a stronger dose and suggested Ecosprin Gold. She has been on that since 11 months. This probably led to her second massive heart attack about 20 days ago. I cannot vouch for this, but all the specialists at Vijaya Hospital, Chennai – there was a cardiac surgeon, a vascular surgeon, a psychiatrist, a diabetic specialist and a couple of others – felt that Ecosprin Gold was the culprit. This is the reason why I mentioned at the beginning that a course of medicine should not be given for a prolonged period.

Well, I am no doctor and this probably means that I don’t know anything about medicine. But I do know my body. And that’s what everyone needs to do.

The body has an in-built IMMUNE SYSTEM. We need to keep that alive. We need to have balanced meals, exercise regularly, drink water and take proper rest.

When we overload the system with pills, we keep interfering with the immune system. The White Blood Corpuscles (WBCs) play a very important role in holding up our Immune System. They form the front-line defense system. When a virus gets into our body – cold, stomach upset, fever, cough, headache and more – the white corpuscles put up a strong fight and most of these problems get set right by themselves. Feed in medicines, the pills push the WBCs out of their way and do the work themselves.

For example, when artificial insulin is injected into the body of a diabetic, the Pancreas are forced to take a back seat and over a period of time, they almost die due to idleness. Does this help in the long run? You need to THINK.

Okay, the doctors give you medicines - say when you have a body ache, the doctor advises you to take a Brufen. The next time you feel an ache – maybe after a long walk that you have taken after a couple of months – you immediately pop a Brufen. Do you really consider the side-effects? In this case, one can’t even blame the doctor. When your feet begin to ache suddenly, it mostly means that you have suddenly put on weight. Or they ache because they have not been exercised over a long period. Is Brufen the solution to this problem? THINK!

When someone has periods, she may have abdominal cramps. One pill might just cure it in a jiffy. But what else does this pill do to your uterus? THINK!

It’s very important that the Excretory System functions perfectly for the Immune System to do its work.

Constipation is a common problem at least 90% of the world seems to be facing. Popping a pill for this every day of your life IS NOT a solution. Lemon and warm water first thing in the morning; OR a teaspoon of Methi will clear up your intestines in a jiffy.
Body Odour occurs a lot of the time because the intestines are not cleaned up and also because the body is not sweating enough. Please realize that ‘sweating’ is also part of the Excretory System. The sweat throws away toxins that are not required by the body. Block this with body spray, etc. and watch the bad health implode. Shocking? But that is the truth. When you watch the Desi Boyz on advertisements going around cool after using body sprays, you think ‘WOW’ and ape them. Believe me, it is NOT AT ALL Wow. You block all your pores with chemicals – they smell great, alright – and you stop your skin from breathing. Do this day after day and what do you think happens to all the toxins that the body intended to shed through your sweat? THINK!

God has created our body perfectly, with a classic Immune System that takes care of it. We need to be aware of it and be careful before spoiling it. WATER is a very important ingredient to balance one’s IMMUNE SYSTEM. I know at least five people that I can remember offhand who refuse to drink more than half a litre water every day. One hates the taste of water, two of them are bored of the effort and the rest of them believe that drinking water gives them a bloated look. Incredible! Can we stop breathing? Or let me put it like this – what will happen to us when we stop breathing? We just die. It is the same with drinking water. Not doing it is killing our body over a period of time.

HEALTH once lost can be recovered, with very great difficulty. Please STOP, THINK and PROCEED before you fool around with your body.

There are number of alternate therapies such as Ayurveda, Siddha Vaidya, Homeopathy, Flower Therapy, Naturopathy and more. Opting for one of these for prolonged treatments will go a long way in maintaining good health.

Then there is Yoga and Meditation. You can’t beat that!

Friday, November 11, 2011


Artist Rupa 'Bawari' lighting the lamp at the inauguration
Artistic Expressions by Amit Makwana was inaugurated at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (Prince of Wales Museum) at 5.30pm on November 9, 2011. For those interested the exhibition will be open from 10 am to 7 pm at the venue until November 13, 2011.

At the entrance
I reached early to take pictures without the crowd. I reached there at about 3.40 pm to be welcomed by the artist, Amit Makwana and his wife, Kruti. They were very happy with the response that they had got at the exhibition at Jaipur and were quite confident that it will be as good here in Mumbai. I wish them all the very best!

The hall where the exhibition is being held
The hall at the museum was huge and the poems and digital art by Amit Makwana along with the paintings by Anuradha Thakur and Shefali Chauhan were displayed all over and made for a beautiful ambience.

Artist Rupa, her husband, Artist Amit Makwana & his wife
The Chief Guest, artist Rupa 'Bawari' arrived at the venue at 5.30 pm along with her diamond merchant husband. Click on the artist's name to go to her website and know more about her.

Celebrate Life Forever - art by Anuradha Thakur, Poem by Amit Makwana
I spent a while longer at the exhibition as my friend Nilima Kadam arrived there to catch the show. Click here to read her blog on the same. My daughter Vinitha also landed up there to check out the poems and artwork and enjoyed the show.

Love-The Art of Living - Digital Drawing by Amit Makwana, Painting by Shefali Chauhan
Snacks and cold drinks were served to all the guests. The event had been organised by Nandita Choudhury of Media Pulse Public Relation.

Artist Amit Makwana & wife Kruti, his inspiration. The digital art behind is 'I Wish You a Happy Birthday,  My Love'

Newspaper Coverage of Jaipur Exhibition

These are some of the paintings that were on display. All are by artist Anuradha Thakur. I simply loved them.
Painting by Anuradha Thakur

One more artwork by Anuradha Thakur

Also by Anuradha Thakur

Click here to read my interview with Artist Amit Makwana. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


The Reception

Washrooms and Beyond is a one-year-old lifestyle magazine that celebrated its first birthday at JW Marriott on November 4, 2011. It was a gala event with 10 people from the washroom industry receiving awards for the innovative strategies that they have adopted in the construction of washrooms under different categories. The evening also saw the release of the 1st Anniversary Issue of ‘Washrooms And Beyond’ and the launch of their spanking new website

Grand Sangam Ballroom where the function was on

I received an invite for the event from Nandita Choudhury of Media Pulse Public Relation to cover it in my blog FLAMING SUN, and here is the story…

We arrived at JW Marriott at 7.30 pm on the dot only to find that very few people had reached at that point. The event was delayed by 2 hours due to Mumbai traffic or so they all claimed. I think, by now, most of us are prepared for the traffic and ensure that we leave well in advance to reach any place at the given time. International Designer Rock Galpin and a few other foreign guests had arrived well in time.

Ms. Sheital Shetty, Publisher & Editor of Washrooms And Beyond
Prominent names like Jimmy Mistry, the Chairman and Managing Director of Della Tecnica, R K Somany, Chairman and MD of HSIL, Dr. Prem Jain, the founder of Spectral Services Consultants Private Limited and international designer Rock Galpin amongst many others were present at the function.

Mr. Anurag Yadav, Consulting Editor, on the large screen at the venue
The event started at 9.30 pm with a speech by Ms. Sheital Shetty, Publisher & Editor of Washrooms And Beyond. Mr. Anurag Yadav, the Consulting Editor for the magazine, continued from where she left off and spoke about the journey of their magazine from its inception in June 2010. The Quarterly magazine’s anniversary issue looks stylish and is a classy repertoire of information about stylish washrooms and fittings from around the world including lifestyle brands such as Grohe, Ideo Bain, Mastella Design, Dornbracht, Nagina Waters Luxury Bath Collection and Hindware.

International Designer Rock Galpin at the podium
Rock Galpin is a London-based designer who has created the ultimate washroom of the future called Bathroom Interior 2020. He has showcased his futuristic design at KBB London 2011. The man himself was present at WB Honours 2011. The trophy that was given away to the ten best awardees has been designed by Rock Galpin.

Mr. P C Jain receiving the award
There were short video clippings of every washroom that was awarded and why. It was quite interesting and I found the ones on The Oberoi Gurgaon (for ideal glass usage) and Devi Garh Udaipur (Restoration of washroom in Heritage buildings) pretty amazing.

The Anniversary Issue being launched
Below is the list of categories and the names of winners:

1. Innovation in Public Convention – Eram Scientific Solutions Pvt. Ltd., Trivandrum, Mr. Vinod MS – Executive Director

2. Special Contribution to Plumbing Design and Development - Spectral Services Consultants Private Limited – Founder Dr. P. C Jain

3. Efficient Bathrooms at Building Complexes – Hirandani Group, Mumbai, Mr. Cyrus K Pithawalla – Director Engineering Department

4. Ideal Glass and Accessory Usage in Washrooms – The Oberoi, Gurgaon. Ms Suchitra Gambhir, Executive House Keeper, Mumbai received the honours on behalf of The Oberoi, Gurgaon

5. Developing Model Public Washrooms with State Government – Hythro Engineers Pvt. Ltd., Mr. Jinesh Shah, Vice President, International Sales of Prime Time International Services Pvt. Ltd received the honours on behalf of Hythro Engineers.

6. Intelligent Washrooms Design at Airports – Delhi International Airport (P) Limited, Mr. Jitendra Jain, CFO – Corporate Finance from the GMR GROUP received the honours on behalf of Delhi International Airport (P) Ltd.

7. Best Washroom Restoration in Heritage Buildings – Devi Garh Palace, Udaipur, Ms. Poonam Sethi from The Hotel Firm received the honours on behalf of Devi Garh Palace.

8. Green Washrooms – The Orchid – Mumbai, Mr. Pradipta Biswas, General Manager

9. Unique Interior Design in Hotel Washrooms – (Sponsored by Donbracht India Pvt Ltd) – ITC Gardenia, Bengaluru, Neelam Kaul, Front Office Manager

10. Technology Driven Washrooms – (Sponsored by Grohe India Pvt. Ltd.) – The Oberoi, Mumbai, Ms. Suchitra Gambhir, Executive House Keeper

The winners of WB HONOURS 2011
All in all, it was an interesting evening and brought about a lot of knowledge about the washroom industry. While cocktails and starters were served throughout the evening, the function ended with a yummy buffet dinner.

I wish Ms. Sheital Shetty and Mr. Anurag Yadav the very best in all their future endeavours and I am sure WASHROOMS AND BEYOND will go a long way in bringing information to all those who are keen to have gorgeous restrooms at their homes, offices, hotels and anywhere else.

I also wish that people who take such interest in washrooms will also look into the subject of public conveniences, an area that needs tremendous improvement in a country like India.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


1. Poem by Amit Makwana; 2. Digital Art by the same artist; 3. Painting by Anuradha Thakur; 4. One by Shefali Chauhan

I went to meet Amit Makwana at his office at Borivli to talk about his upcoming art exhibition at Prince of Wales Museum.

Makwana writes poetry and gives life to them by creating Digital Art as another form of expression of the same words. Born and brought up in Mumbai City, the artist is an interior designer by profession. With his digital arts potential I wonder whether he went to graphic design college.

Makwana used to be pretty good academically and hence, despite being good at art and winning drawing and colouring contests at school, he opted to study Digital Electronics.

After working with HCL for a while, Makwana presently works with his brother builder Dharmendra Makwana in their family business. He did a number of projects along with his father and brother and learned designing on field.

Now, Makwana is an established Interior Designer who works with NGOs, designs logos, brands and more. His company is Makwana Designs and he has branched off into Ripples of Art, which is an expression of both his poetry and art.

While Amit has been writing even during his school days, he has been doing it on a regular basis since five years.

So what does he write about? Anything that touches his heart! He writes about his Mom, Dad, his babies, Woman, Romance, Sensuality and more. What interests the artist most are The Tri-colour and when a woman becomes a mother.

Amit writes poems voraciously. Sometimes on a daily basis and at times it takes a whole month before he writes anything. He writes with pen on paper, directly on to his computer and many times on his mobile too. Once he gets the words right, the artist sets out to create Digital Drawings out of them. He creates them on AutoCad, then transfers them to Corel Draw and finally creates a Jpeg image.

The ideas burst forth suddenly. Amit feels very restless and moved and over a period of time he has come to realize that it is his creativity waiting to burst forth. Nowadays, whenever the feeling arises, he immediately puts pen to paper or fingers to his keyboard and sets out to create his poems.

He has a tale to tell for every poem that he has created. One of them was when he got engaged to Kruti, his wife. The poem and art work are both titled ‘I Wish You A Happy Birthday, My Life’. This work had gone on display at the art exhibition the artist had held at Jaipur in November 2010. The audience had been highly appreciative and had been very keen to meet Kruti Makwana after seeing this work.

There is more! Amit’s younger daughter Yashvi (now 2 years old) had been admitted to ICU when she was barely a month old. The doctors had given up on the baby as her breath had stopped for almost a minute. That’s when Amit came up with the poem ‘I Love You So Much My Baby’ and subsequently a drawing to match. The baby survived, of course! Amit’s elder child is Palaksi who is 6-years-old.

Then there is the one on the SUCCESS LADY. I liked this one the best. The title is ‘She Is Waiting For Me’. Amit believes that Success is awaiting him and he need not go rushing around looking for it. He believes that life is a flow and need not be struggled with. A wonderful concept, indeed!

I feel that Amit should give a short write-up of what went before he wrote a poem. This would definitely make them more interesting to the public.

Not that the artist is very keen on pushing his works. He has published three books of his. Book 1 has only his poems. Book 2 contains both his poems and digital drawings. Book 3 has his poems, digital drawings and the paintings that have been done by other artists on reading Amit’s poems. All books have been printed and published by Amit Makwana. He has not sold any of his books or his other works. Amit gives away his books to people who show interest in them. He is holding exhibitions to show his works to the public. As of now, he has no plans of selling his works, unless he finds someone who is passionate to own them.

Amit says that the people who visited his exhibition spent at least a couple of hours reading his poems and comparing them against his drawings. Amit has taken a step further and has commissioned two artists to express their views of his ‘words’ through their painting. The concept appears unique and Amit is keen to take on artists who he feels will bring life to his ‘words’ by being able to understand them from the depths of their hearts.

The artists who have painted Amit’s poems are Anuradha Thakur from Ahmedabad and Shefali Chauhan from Baroda. Amit got introduced to both through the internet.

You can connect with Amit Makwana on his email:

In case you want to set up a meeting with the artist, you may contact Nandita Choudhury on 9869571695 / 022-26848022

Catch Amit Makwana’s art exhibition:

Artistic Expressions by Amit Makwana 
Date: November 9 to 13, 2011 
Timings: 10 am to 7 pm
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya,
(formerly Prince of Wales Museum),
159 / 61, M.G. Road, Fort,
Mumbai - 400023

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Film Review: 7AAM ARIVU

You can't miss this one as Surya has done a brilliant act. But the violence literally blows one's mind

Cast: Surya, Shruti Haasan, Johnny Tri Nguyen
Director: Murugadoss

I am a great fan of Surya and I was quite fascinated when I watched the promos of this film on TV. Venkat was also keen on watching the film. All this, despite the niggling feeling of doubt as I had not liked Ghajini at all considering the violence that was prevalent in Murugadoss’s earlier work. And so, Venkat and I went for the show last Friday night at Cinemax Sion.

THE STORY: The film begins 1600 years ago and is about Bodhi Dharman (Surya), a Prince of the Pallava Dynasty ruling from Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu. Bodhi Dharman is well-trained in Kalari payatu, herbal medicine and mesmerism. He decides go to China to spread his knowledge. It takes him three years to reach a small Chinese village. The people there are aware of a terrible problem that is to come. On seeing Bodhi Dharman, they decide that he is the perpetrator of the trouble. He goes to live a solitary life in a cave when he realizes that he is unwelcome. But soon, disease strikes the village and they get a cure only with Bodhi Dharman’s help. Later, when enemies attack, the village is once again saved by Bodhi Dharman’s valour. Soon, the people persuade Bodhi Dharman to train them in martial arts and herbal medicine at The Shaolin Temple there. They call him Damo and believe that he is their God and savior. That does not stop them from poisoning Bodhi Dharman as they are keen that his body should be buried in their soil to ensure their welfare. He consumes the poison despite knowing the truth and falls in with the locals’ wishes.

Cut to the present, Dong Lee (Johnny Tri Nguyen) is the best student of The Shaolin Temple. Only he is Evil incarnate. The Chinese decide to send him to India to start a Bio-war, instigating a viral disease. They hope to rule over India as they have the cure taught them by Damo.

Subha (Shruti Haasan) is a student of bio-technology research and she is doing a research on human DNA. During her research, she finds out that Arvind (Surya) is a direct descendent of Bodhi Dharman and his DNA matches 80 plus percent with his ancestor. She hopes to treat him in such a way that he becomes 100% compatible with his ancestor.

Will she get permission from the government to go ahead with her tests? Will Arvind agree to be her guinea pig? How can Dong Lee be stopped from being successful at the bio-war set off by the Chinese against India? Watch the film to find the answers to these questions.

MY PERCEPTION: The story was simply amazing, especially considering that Bodhi Dharman really existed in yonder days. Of course, there is a bit of back and forth about his being a Pallava Prince or otherwise.

Surya was just fantastic as Bodhi Dharman. He looked too handsome and with no dialogues to utter, he spoke just perfectly through his expressions. His eyes said them all, in fact. The fight sequences, the suffering villagers, his travel to China in yonder times, etc. etc. etc. were just brilliant. I just loved the first 45 minutes of the movie.

While the story was amazing, it was scripted very badly. The music and songs were wonderful, but distract the viewer from the film. Whenever the film seems to take off, the hero breaks into song and dance with the heroine. Why?????????? Despite all that, the songs and their picturisation were excellent. The male voice – Kartik, I think – was superb.

Every situation was authentic and well-researched. But sadly, the negativity came across as a slap to the face. Johnny Tri Nguyen made a good villain, but somehow I felt the film was more focused on him rather than on Surya playing Arvind.

Shruti had been simply terrible in Luck. While her acting skills have improved in this film, her Tamil diction was horrible. To believe that she is Kamal Haasan’s daughter! I know it’s not fair to compare. But come on, I am not comparing her acting skills to her father’s. For a girl who has spent at least half her life in Chennai and probably with her Tam-Bram parent, Shruti speaks Tamil horribly. Or is it a kind of ‘style’ to pronounce the words so badly? Believe you me, Shruti Haasan, it does not sit well at all. What worked for Shruti were her looks and her figure. She looks beautiful and has a terrific dress sense.

The film ran for 2 hours and 40 minutes and had some terrible fight sequences. I suppose I should have expected them considering Murugadoss’s record. But it still hit me hard.

The first 45 minutes were simply amazing and gave me a lot of hope. The film is negative till the end and turns positive just 2 minutes before the screen went off. One would think that with so much build up towards the whole thing, the director would have given a little more time to show the positive changes wrought about by the DNA changes in Arvind. Nope! No such hope in this movie.

The worst thing that hit me was Arvind’s preaching on TV at the end. Thank God, it was short even if it was rather painful. Who wants to be preached? The film should talk for itself. Preaching used to happen in the songs in Sivaji / MGR days. Today, we look forward to more subtle expressions.

With this kind of story idea, the film could have been way better than it was. The star rating that I am giving belongs exclusively to Surya and his work.

VERDICT: You have to see it to watch Surya as Bodhi Dharman if nothing else.

RATING: **** Snazzy (for Surya)
Otherwise ** Shaky

* Silly
** Shaky
*** Smart
**** Snazzy
***** Super

Monday, October 31, 2011

Film Review: RA-ONE

I think it's high time that SRK accepts his age and tries to create special roles to suit him - something in the lines of Chak De. This film is all hype and no show

Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Arjun Rampal, Dalip Tahil, Shahana Goswami, Armaan Verma
Director: Anubhav Sinha

I had a very bad feeling about this one from Red Chillies Entertainment as the films produced by SRK’s company have only one thing going – SRK starring in them. And most of the time, even that does not help. Anyway, I went to see it because my daughter and husband were keen to go. And that's how we caught the 10.30 pm show on Diwali.

THE STORY: Shekhar Subramaniam (Shah Rukh Khan) works for a video gaming company called Barron Industries run by Dalip Tahil. Jenny (Shahana Goswami) is a co-worker and so is Jackie Chan (Tom Wu). Shekhar is a South Indian (Tamil) who is married to Sonia (Kareena Kapoor) and their son is preteen Prateek (Armaan Verma).

Prateek is a typical school kid who is impressed by mighty villains. He quite dislikes his father’s nerdy nature and tries to be ‘cool’ most of the time. When the boss demands that a new video game be created, Shekhar goes on to create a game that has a dominant villain – Ra-One – who is undefeatable. This is done at his son’s suggestion and soon Prateek is enamoured by both the game and his father’s skills.

Unfortunately, Ra-One has the power to re-invent himself and is keen to get out of the game and kill Lucifier – the nickname that Prateek uses to play the game. He does just that and soon Shekhar is killed.

Not knowing the actual situation, Sonia decides to move to India to their family home along with Prateek.

Watch the film to see what happens when Ra-One decides to follow Lucifer (Prateek) to India and kill him.

MY PERCEPTION: On the positive side, the animation was just fantastic. That’s about it.

SRK comes up with different hair-styles – each one of them sucks. His make-up and act as a Tamilian was simply horrible. I felt it more so because I am myself a Tamilian. His hair-style was stupid, his accent was dumb and whatever.

SRK as G-One was better. He did well. But the sad part was there was too much masala, making the whole presentation a mix-up of cuisines ending up in a mess, if you know what I mean.

Kareena Kapoor was good and the song Chammak Challo was very good. Armaan Verma did well in his role as Prateek.

Arjun Rampal was good as the villain although his part was minuscule. He looked hot with his head shaved off. Considering that he does not have a great range to his expressions, the role fitted him perfectly with one vengeful expression throughout the shot.

I can relate to a film that begins at A and ends with Zee with a lot of incidents thrown in between. This one started at A and took off in many different directions before falling plop on its face at Zee.

I don’t have a clue about making films, but my hand itched to take over at so many points where I would have handled the sequences way differently than they actually were.

The 3-D was pretty non-existent. In fact, a couple of days before Diwali, I had read somewhere that the 3-D effort was not taking off. Hence, I wanted to watch a 2-D version. But there were none available at Cinemax Sion. Maybe nowhere!

If I wore the glasses, I could see 2 images in most of the scenes. If I took them off, I saw 4 images. A quaint experience, indeed! But at what cost!

Rajnikant popping into the film for a 1-minute sequence as Chitti was nothing short of ridiculous. It just had nothing to do with the film. And the superhero looked quite ill. Why the director or producer never noticed that one, amazes me.

You cannot quite call it a kids’ film with the kind of dance sequences, fight sequences and dialogues on ‘condom’. It was not entertaining enough for adults. And after all this, Shah Rukh Khan plans to impress the world population. That’s some gall!

VERDICT: Yet another waste of money for me, folks! This time, I don’t even have the excuse that it was worth it for SRK’s sake.

RATING: ** Shaky

* Silly
** Shaky
*** Smart
**** Snazzy
***** Super

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I have been hearing Bhagavan speaking from within me as my ANTARYAAMIN (Inner Voice) and guiding me in many different ways from January, 2003.

I have spoken about this to my family and many of my friends. Now, I have decided to put some of this learning into my blog.


Sundari: Will there be desires once we move into 5-Dimension Earth?

Bhagavan: Most definitely yes. You must understand that ‘Desire’ is the very basis for creation and consequently growth. If there is no desire, you will tend to stagnate and that is not acceptable to the soul or God, however you choose to call it.

Sundari: Then how come we feel so mixed up and sad with so many ‘wants’ unfulfilled?

Bhagavan: Let’s not get ‘Desire’ and ‘Want’ mixed up. ‘Wanting’ is a state of ‘Lack’. I hope we are clear about that. When you ‘want’ something, it means that you don’t have it.

The Universe is ABUNDANCE!

When you believe that deep within you that something is NOT THERE and seek it in terms of ‘wanting’ it, you never get it. Do you understand that? You are asking for something that you are convinced from deep within that is just not there. That is the state of ‘want’ and this soon leads you to desperation. The more desperately you ‘want’ something, the further it moves away from you. You must understand that the conviction deep within you is that what you are ‘wanting’ is just not available.

Whereas ‘Desire’ is to wish for something that you know is very much there for you, brought to you from the Universe that is ABUNDANCE itself. There is no question of whether you will get it or not. The thought is born within you that you wish for something or wish to be something and ‘lo and behold’, there it is. There is no choice but for you to receive this. Desires are meant to be fulfilled. And this is the life you will find on 5-Dimension Earth.

Sundari: But how do we change from the state of ‘Want’ to ‘Desire’?

Bhagavan: This is quite effortless and will become automatic when you ascend and become a Mukta. You will realize from within your whole BEing that the Universe is ABUNDANCE itself and there is no ‘want’. Once, your BEing is clear about this, you will grow away from the state of ‘Wanting’. Then, whenever a ‘Desire’ is born from within, you will realize that it is the most natural feeling and you will also understand that the whole of the Universe has been waiting only for that moment, to make you realize your dream. That is all!

Sundari: Thank you so much Bhagavan! :D

So, if you have a prayer, a wish, a desire, go ahead and seek it from the Universe (ABUNDANCE).

Uttering this shloka will help after making your wish clear to the Divine:


How many times? As many as you wish to!

Should it be in the morning or evening? Whenever, even bedtime! I am most at peace praying while sitting on my bed late in the night. No visitors, no phone calls, etc. to interrupt me.

Should I have had a bath? Should it be before I have had my breakfast or lunch or…? Does not matter. There is not a time or a place when/where the Divine is not there with you.

Another tip that I learnt from my Antaryaamin:

Uttering shlokas is great, but most of the time, we don’t understand what we are saying in these prayers that are usually in Sanskrit. While the Divine understands all languages! Speak to your God as you would to your friend, father, mother, brother, sister or whatever. That works for the best! God is my BEST FRIEND!

Click here to read an old blog of mine on How to Pray! To know more about 2012 & 5-D Earth, check out Steve Beckow's Golden Age of Gaia

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Film Review: BODYGUARD

Pack up your logical mind and leave it behind before going to the film

Cast: Salman Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Raj Babbar, Sharat Saxena, Hazel Keech
Director: Siddique

I like watching Salman Khan flicks. I was keen to see this one but none of my family or friends was interested in watching this one. That’s when I decided to go on my own.

THE STORY: Sartaj Rana (Raj Babbar) is a wealthy man with a lot of enemies. His bodyguard, Balwant Singh, is killed while protecting Sartaj Rana. Rana manages to save his pregnant wife who gives birth to Lovely Singh (Salman Khan). Lovely grows up to become a bodyguard too and is extremely loyal to Rana. Rana employs him as bodyguard for his daughter Divya (Kareena Kapoor). Divya falls in love with him while he reveres her. Along with her friend Maya (Hazel Keech), Divya plays a prank on Lovely. She calls him from an unregistered number and with a false name Chaya, she insists that she is in love with him. Lovely Singh falls in love with the voice on the phone. Watch the film to see what happens when Divya comes to realize that Lovely is too loyal to Rana and will never agree to wed his daughter.

MY PERCEPTION: Pack up your logical mind and leave it behind before going to the film. Lovely Singh falling in love with a caller on the phone; Divya accepting that she cannot marry her bodyguard and sending her friend Maya to rescue him from her father’s henchman; Maya deciding out of the blue that she is in love with Lovely; the two of them getting married with Lovely believing Maya to be Chaya; Maya writing down Divya’s love story and her own deception in a diary and leaving it for her 8-year-old son to read – no logic, no sense. I was so reminded of an old Tamil saying that my grandmother used to utter – kadhaikku kannunda, kadhunda? Does a story have eyes or ears? That just applies to this one – no rhyme or reason. And this film has been made in Malayalam, then Tamil (Vijay-Asin starrer by the same name) and now in Hindi – Siddique has a lot of guts, what else!

Salman Khan was in his element with his six-pack abs, fight-sequences and song-dance sequences.

Kareena Kapoor looked beautiful – I mean really beautiful for a change. She has also done well in her role as Divya, what was possible to do that is.

The songs were good, nothing great.

The best part was that the film was just 2 hours long. Thank God for small mercies!

VERDICT: If you are a Salman Khan fan, then you will see it like I just did. Nothing else to it!

RATING: ** Shaky

* Silly
** Shaky
*** Smart
**** Snazzy
***** Super

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Film Review: MANKATHA (மங்காத்தா)

If you like senseless fighting, looting and murdering, then this one is for you

Cast: Ajith, Arjun, Trisha, Vaibhav Reddy, Premji Amaren, Mahat Raghavendra, Ashwin Kakumanu, Lakshmi Rai, Andrea Jeremiah, Anjali
Writer / Director: Venkat Prabhu  

My husband Venkat and I had been trying to see this film three weeks since its release and finally managed to catch it last Saturday at Arora Theatre at King’s Circle. Both of us are fond of Ajith and were keen not to miss this one especially as it’s been a while since Ajith has been seen on screen while this also happens to be his 50th film.

THE STORY: Vinayak Mahadevan (Ajith) is a police officer based in Mumbai. Sanjana (Trisha) is his girlfriend who hopes to marry the forty-year-old soon. The suspended Vinayak just wants to have a good time and leads a happy bachelor’s life while Sanjana does her best to change him. He drinks, smokes and sleeps around and is not the most straightforward of policemen. Sanjana happens to be the daughter of Arumuga Chettiyar (Jayaprakash) who actually runs a gambling den in an old movie theatre that he owns. USD 100 million is to come to India for betting in IPL cricket matches. That’s equal to 500 crore rupees. Arumuga Chettiar (AC) is keen that the money passes through his den. AC’s protégé Suman (Vaibhav Reddy) is keen to steal the money. He gets his friends - police officer Ganesh (Ashwin Kaumanu), bar owner Mahat (Mahat Raghavendra) and IIT gold medalist Prem (Premji Amaran), to help him do this. Vinayak gets to know about the theft and jumps into the fray as the fifth share. In the meanwhile, Prithvi (Arjun) is an ACP who is determined to wipe out illegal betting and has been successful in bringing a number of crooks to book. He gets wind of the USD in AC’s den and is keen to capture the same. Watch the film to see whether the thieves get away with the money or whether it is ACP Prithvi who triumphs.

MY PERCEPTION: The film is absolutely violent from beginning till the end. It kind of makes one wonder whether human lives have the least value in the world. That does not leave one with a good feeling at all! We sat through fight sequence after fight sequence, fisticuffs, gun-shots, blood and gore.

I blindly went to see the film for Ajith and so did Venkat. Yeah, the actor has delivered and how! He has done the part of a debauched police officer just perfectly. Salt and pepper hair, bags under his eyes, a slight paunch and a sneering smile – Ajith in a very different role wonderfully delivered. And this is the only plus point in the film.

Yeah, the many actors such as Jayaprakash, Vaibhav Reddy, Ashwin Kaumanu and Mahat Raghavendra do have chunky roles and they have performed alright. Premji Amaren was exceptionally good.
Trisha has a small part and has done it well while Arjun has a minuscule role that does not really test his acting skills.

Most films I find begin with negativity but go on to become positive with good triumphing over evil, etc. Not so this one. I found the plot quite senseless and seeped in negativity.

What’s extremely misleading about Tamil channels on TV is that they praise all films to the skies and no one comes forward to point out any flaw. Ditto goes to the web. So one can never get the right idea of how a film will be before going to see it.

VERDICT: If you like senseless fighting, looting and murdering, then this one is for you.

RATING: ** Shaky

* Silly
** Shaky
*** Smart
**** Snazzy
***** Super