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Sufi Nights at Whistling Duck

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Singer Suneet Rawat will play at Whistling Duck every Friday this month

Come Fridays and Whistling Duck (WD) will host singer Suneet Rawat all through the month of March. He plays unplugged and acoustic Sufi songs. Rawat who is known to engage with the crowds already has a fan following going. If you are looking for a soulful weekend, drop by at WD which is also dishing out some special promotions including a kitty discount of 20 percent. Sounds delicious.

 

What: Sufi nights with Suneet Rawat

Where: Whistling Duck, SCO 10, back lane, Sector 26, Chandigarh

When: Every Friday in March

Time: 9 pm onwards

Meet Chandigarhs Mayor

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She speaks her mind, believes in prompt action and won’t shy away from getting tough where it matters. We caught up with Chandigarh’s mayor Asha Kumari Jaswal in her first free-wheeling interview.

It is early morning as we arrive at the residence of Chandigarh’s newest mayor in Sector 21. The Jaswal household is already in action and as Asha Kumari Jaswal lets us know early into our conversation, she’s always been an early riser and likes to get things done on time. “I don’t even like taking naps during the day,” quips the 62-year-old.

 

Photo By: Life in Chandigarh
A lawyer by profession, Jaswal is the city’s 21st mayor and a BJP Councillor. She won from Ward 17 (Sectors 18, 19, 21) in the recently held Chandigarh Municipal Corporation (MC) elections. Not a newbie to either politics or social service, Jaswal has been associated with Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) for nearly three decades and is an important member of its Mahila Morcha wing.

 

Photo By: Life in Chandigarh
Family and background

Jaswal hails from village Thural in Palampur district in Himachal Pradesh and shifted to Chandigarh in 1966. “My father worked in the Survey of India and was keen on a permanent posting. He chose Dehradun and sent me to study in Chandigarh as my brothers were also here,” reminisces Jaswal. She enrolled in the Government Girls Model Senior Secondary School in Sector 8 in Class IX. She completed her MA in Political Science from Panjab University and it was after her marriage into a family of advocates that Jaswal showed a keenness to study law. “From the dining table to even when we travelled in the car, everyone in the family would be talking law and discussing cases. I felt left out and asked my father in law about studying law and he encouraged me wholeheartedly,” says Jaswal. Her husband, Gurdial Singh Jaswal, supported her decision as did her sister-in-law. She credits the latter for all her support till date. “My son was in Class 2 and my daughter was barely a year-and-a-half old when I decided to study law. The support I got at home was a big help,” admits the mayor. Incidentally, her family – son Berjeshwar, daughter-in-law Shaveta and daughter Aanchal Thakur – has had a strong role to play in her career, social service endeavours and run-up to becoming mayor. “My parents, brothers and even my extended family are in Chandigarh and we have always been there for each other,” says Jaswal, who is grandmother to Nynishia and Mivaan.

Early career

“My father-in-law founded the All India Rajput Students’ Aid Society in Chandigarh and later ran the Maharana Pratap hostel there. I was closely associated with its functioning since 1993 and my social endeavours started from there. I was always eager to offer help where I could,” says Jaswal. The family’s association with the Rashritya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and local BJP party leaders were the ideal training grounds for a young Asha Kumari. “I remember doing home visits when required with the party leaders. I enjoyed being a ground worker and was inspired by the likes of Pushpa Goyal, Kamla Tandon, Shanta Hit Abhilashi, all of whom were associated with the BJP,” admits Jaswal.

Not many would be aware that in 1996 when the city got its first mayor in BJP’s Kamla Sharma, Jaswal’s name also did the rounds. “Someone joked in the office the other day that I was 20 years late in sitting in the mayor’s chair,” quips Jaswal as she adds, “My son was at a crucial point in his academics then and I wanted to be there for him.”

Plans for the city

As area councillor, Jaswal admits she likes to make surprise checks. “Now instead of just my ward, I have to concentrate on the entire city,” she lets us know. And given her penchant for getting into action without wasting time, she’s started a ward watch backwards. “I have started from Sector 26 as larger problems exist in colonies and the villages. I am meeting the sanitary health inspectors as well as officials from public health department as cleanliness is my first priority,” says Jaswal. Eager to set up as many Sehaj Safai Kendra (SSK) as possible, the mayor admits she won’t shy away from issuing out challans to deal with the problem. “I believe that if you involve the public and include them in your endeavours and even if it means imposing taxes, it can be done,” Jaswal points out. She strongly believes in public participation and has been requesting Resident Welfare Associations to work in collaboration with the MC to handle waste, including horticulture waste. “We are short of garbage collection vehicles and will look to upgrade soon,” she informs.

‘Waste no time’

Approachable and affable in nature, Jaswal has been requesting people keen to host her for social events to keep the line-up for Sunday. “The one-year term for a mayor finishes in no time and I want to be able to do as much as I can for the welfare of the public. I have already got down to meeting officials and addressing key issues like garbage, parking et al,” says the mayor.

 

Photo By: Life in Chandigarh
On reservation for women

“I don’t think reservation is needed these days for women. There are so many examples around us that show that women have achieved success even when there was no reservation,” says Jaswal. She remembers the time when a senior party leader quizzed her whether they would be able to fill up names for seven wards reserved for women in MC and Jaswal said, “I told him we could fill all 26. I think women aren’t apprehensive anymore to show their mettle.”

The mayor off duty

When she’s not working as Councillor or helping in mediation as a lawyer – she counsels people, be it couples on verge of divorce or embroiled in family litigation, Jaswal admits she loves to travel. “As a family we have been on many road trips to different parts of the country. Though we went to Thailand recently, I love going to Rajasthan,” admits the mayor. She jokes how her bags would be packed on a Thursday evening when the courts would be readying for a break. “We didn’t want to waste any time and post work on Friday we would be off,” Jaswal smiles to say.

Mayor ko gussa kyun aata hai?

Ask what irks her the most and Jaswal doesn’t take a minute to answer, “I hate it when people lie. I am very quick to own up to a mistake but I find people say something and do the opposite. I make sure I catch the person and let him or her know what I feel,” says the mayor, who is known to speak her mind.

‘I am fearless’ 

Growing up in the hills admits the mayor made her quite fearless. “You must have heard about ghost stories in the hills but trust me I am yet to come across any. I would make long journeys alone and it made me fearless. Even today, I don’t shy away from doing what I feel is right. If you are positive and do good, you have nothing to fear,” she sums up.

Banking on the Future

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An increasing number of career conscious women are freezing their eggs for boosting chances of pregnancy later in life, say IVF experts Dr Nandita Palshetkar and Dr Hrishikesh Pai

They are one of the leading IVF experts in the country. Hailing from Mumbai, Dr Nandita Palshetkar and Dr Hrishikesh Pai were in Chandigarh recently to mark the seventh anniversary of the Fortis Bloom IVF centre which they spearhead. Dr. Palshetkar is credited with the first laser hatched twins in India and has gained recognition as ‘an affordable infertility specialist’. Her contemporary, Dr Pai, has over two decades of experience in the field of IVF and has served as former President, Indian Society of Assisted Reproduction.

As part of the anniversary celebrations, a unique fashion show was held in the presence of the two doctors where parents who have undergone treatment took to the ramp along with their little ones.

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Photo By: Life in Chandigarh

The two experts spoke to Life in Chandigarh about their work and the new techniques being used in the field. Both are enthusiastic about the latest technology being used for egg-freezing, emphasising the freedom it gives to women nowadays, who prefer concentrating on their career first.

Quoting Diana Hayden, Indian actor and model, who was once their patient, Dr Palshetkar said, “When she was 34, she went in for the technology to freeze her eggs. She got married at the age of 42. We used the same frozen eggs eight years later, and she delivered her baby Arya.”

Further explaining the process and the new technology of vitrification, she said, “With vitrification, we can freeze eggs, sperms and embryos. They remain in suspended animation but remain alive. Later we take them out and use in the development of the baby by putting it back in the uterus.” With changes in the technologies since this technique first started, the success rate has increased. “Earlier, the success rate was less than 10 percent. Today, after 38 years, the success rate is 15 percent,” she adds.

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Photo By: Life in Chandigarh

Dr Palshetkar is of the view that the IVF technique is very well accepted in the country and informs that now men are also coming forward for treatment. “Twenty two years ago when I started, only women used to come. Today, couples come for consulting. Almost 50 percent of infertility is owing to the male factor. That is the change, but people are now accepting it,” she says.

Dr Pai suggests that whatever the status of one’s marriage, they should get their fertility status assessed and preserved. “So, a woman who is 40 years and more has a pregnancy rate of 10 percent while a woman less than 37 years has that of 40 to 50 percent. That’s why one must have a child before the age of 35 -37. And if you don’t want to have a child for whatever reason, then you should preserve your fertility,” explains Dr Pai.

In their centres all over India, where they run over 2,000 cycles, with a 30 percent live birth success rate, they have 300 to 400 child births in a year, with at least one child being born every day. Dr Pai feels it is his obligation to give back to the country, which has given him everything.

CATS in Pink

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CAN & WILL in association with their adventure arm CATS is celebrating their 27th blood donation camp with a Pink Panther theme

Can & Will in association with their adventure arm CATS is celebrating their 27th blood donation camp. With International Women's Day close enough, the chosen theme celebrates the strength, beauty, intelligence and shrewdness of felines, who will go to any limits to solve every problem in life as a ‘Pink Panther’. “Gifts for donors include personal safety device, a coffee mug and a raffle box which includes chance to win holidays, Zumba classes, organic food range and skincare products and financial advisory session,” informs organiser Supreet Dhiman. Donating blood would not cost you anything and it does not really hurt anymore than a standard blood test would, however, a little of your time and effort would help save precious lives.

Keeping in line with the underlying theme of celebrating, empowering and making women aware of their rights and safety, Punjab Taekwondo Association would be holding a session of self-defence demo-training at Fortis IPD at 11am. With additional moves for women, the session is for both men and women.

The details of the event are:

WHEN: March 3 (Friday)

WHERE: Fortis Blood Bank, Mohali

TIME: 9am to 4pm

DRESS CODE: Pink

Youthful Hues

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Dev Samaj College for Women's annual fest 'The Imprint 2k17' packed in a whole lot of fun

The grounds of Dev Samaj College for Women in Sector 45, Chandigarh were beautifully decked up in the colours of spring to celebrate the college fest 'The Imprint 2k17' that rolled out on Wednesday morning.

Photo By: Life in Chandigarh

Photo By: Life in Chandigarh

Photo By: Life in Chandigarh

Photo By: Life in Chandigarh

As many as 16 colleges from the tricity participated in the fest that saw a line-up of events ranging from RJ Hunt, debate, extempore, power point presentation, rangoli to photography and slogan writing. The college principal, Pankaja Vashist, welcomed everyone and encouraged the students to give it their best.

Photo By: Life in Chandigarh

While RJ Manav from 94.3 My FM raised the entertainment quotient through his witty exchanges as he judged the RJ Hunt, the melodies of Punjab resonated in the songs of Ekam, Amrinder Amry, Saggu and Preet Judge.
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One for all

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This new store in Sector 7 will delight not just kids but their parents too

The exams are over and soon a new school session will be upon us. To make it easier for parents to shop for new uniforms and also offer stationery and other needs in one place, Fancy Uniforms has opened up shop in Sector 7.

The store, which happens to be the authorised reseller for prominent international brands, has also introduced special discounts for children from economically weaker sections, besides also introducing learning kits to the underprivileged girls under a special project, ‘Beti ko Kamyab Banao’.

Speaking about the concept, Raghav Garg of Fancy Uniforms informed that the store is unique because it stocks uniforms of all major schools in the vicinity. “We also offer toys for children in different age groups and will soon be introducing learning kits which are otherwise not available in city.”

The store is authorised resellers for complete range of Disney, Wildcraft, American Tourister (Kids) and Genius, to list a few. “We have a complete range of uniforms for kids and accessories as well. We offer school uniforms for St Johns’ High School, Sacred Heart, Carmel Convent, St Kabir, and KB DAV School, to name a few,” said Garg.

As part of its special initiative to encourage underprivileged children, the store is offering them 25 percent off on uniforms. Also with special focus on the girl child, the store has decided to provide learning kits for girl students in batches. As of now, 10 girl students have been shortlisted for the same. These learning kits are internationally recognised and help in learning with a fun element. “We will be providing these kits free of cost to girls from underprivileged families and are tying up with schools to provide us the list of such children so that they can be taken up in a phased manner,” said Garg.

Another unique concept introduced by the store is the play zone inside the store where kids can be kept occupied while their parents shop for them. “We will shortly be introducing a complete range of products and accessories for newborns,” said Garg. A special 10 percent inaugural discount is also on offer for all customers visiting the store.

Sparkle and Shine

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Arvind Singhal, COO, Bluestone.com talks of the reason for the rising trend of online jewellery shopping and why chandelier earrings won't go out of fashion anytime soon

The launch couldn’t have been more aptly timed. The wedding season was in full flow and for most of us that meant a reason to go shopping and be a little indulgent.

Recently Bluestone.com, one of the country’s leading online jewellery brands came to Chandigarh to showcase exclusive designs culled from five limited edition collections launched as part of their Design Week 2016 initiative.

Just like a fashion week that’s showcased on the ramp, Bluestone curated an online showcase of precious jewellery that can be viewed in the comfort of your home or office and at prices points that don’t take your breath away, as that should really be left to the jewellery designs.

Photo By: Sumit Kumar

Chandigarh as an emerging market

Post demonetisation, online shopping, that too for certified precious jewellery seems like a boon. The city has been receptive to the concept and the figures speak for themselves. “Chandigarh has emerged as a very strong market for online shopping. In fact, with the onset of the wedding season we have seen a phenomenal rise. In the months of October and November last year, we had as many as one lakh visits to our website,” said a visibly pleased Arvind Singhal, COO, Bluestone.com.

In Chandigarh for the very first time, Singhal, who has previously steered TaxiforSure as CEO and worked with leading companies like McDonald’s and Reliance Communications, is well aware of the potential Chandigarh and Punjab offer in the space of online shopping. “People are well aware of the global trends and appreciate the latest styles. They are fashion conscious and like to buy well designed jewellery. In our experience, the customer age group shopping for jewellery online is between the ages 28 to 35 years,” informed Singhal.

While he admits online jewellery industry is in a nascent stage, the growth has been on the upswing and that too in a short period of time. “Overall, the Indian precious jewellery online market is worth Rs 400 to 500 crores. The traditional set-up of precious jewellery selling is far bigger but things are fast changing. At Bluestone, we have seen 100 percent growth and we are just five years old,” informed Singhal.

Photo By: Sumit Kumar

Why online is better

Traditionally, precious jewellery buying means a visit to the local jeweller or a family jeweller with no less than an entourage (your mother or mother in law in most cases) to accompany you. Then comes the experience – the embarrassment of defining a budget, the salesperson getting restless when you turn up your nose to the seventh ‘tray’ of designs he has put forth you and the uncertainty of the final price. Even when you finally decide on a product, say a pair of earrings, customisation is frowned upon and the price is explained to you on a flimsy chit of paper.

“There’s not much transparency in the sale and for many customers the pricing structure seems gibberish,” says Singhal. It’s these points that the team at Bluestone kept in mind when they launched the online precious jewellery portal. “While online shopping for imitation and semi-precious jewellery has been there, precious jewellery is picking up only now,” adds Singhal.

The advantages are many – shopping in the comfort of home or office, certified purchase, transparency in pricing (making charges to cost of gold, diamonds and gemstones are clearly marked), customisation is an option and one can ask for a home visit to try out the jewellery before you purchase it. “Also there is no pressure to buy the jewellery should you not like anything that you have asked to be brought home. The ease of shopping is maintained all through,” points out Singhal.

Photo By: Sumit Kumar

Jewellery Trends

The first edition of the Bluestone Design Week comprised of five collections including those featuring colourful gemstones. “Gone are the days when women invest only in heavy jewellery. The modern bride has shifted to minimalistic designs and lightweight jewellery that doubles up for various occasions. Chandelier earrings and cocktail rings are still very popular. There’s a growing popularity of white gold and rose gold as well,” informs Singhal.

Another arresting collection, which was part of the showcase, is the Florentine collection. It comprises of marquise-cut tourmalines in myriad hues set in floral clusters. “Tall earrings are another global trend,” adds Singhal who is looking to roll out more such showcases in the city in the coming months.

Sari Splendour

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'Nari in a Sari' is back with its second edition and exhibition by Rehwa

For women, the sari evokes different feelings. It could be nostalgia, a fond memory, feeling confident, beautiful et al. To make sure the sari is not reserved for special occasions only, Chandigarh-based entrepreneur Seema Sharma started a unique initiative last year called ‘Nari in a Sari’. The idea, as Sharma puts it, is to encourage sari wearing among all age groups of women. She organised a fashion show last year and is now ready to roll out the second edition.

This year’s edition that will be held on March 3 (at Kingdom of Beer, Microbrewery and Wine Cafe, SCO 28, Madhya Marg, Sector 26, Chandigarh) looks to celebrate the silent achievers, women who diligently support their families while taking a backseat themselves and their personal ambitions. “It is to celebrate and honour the everyday diva, who embraces tradition in the midst of modernity with ease. It also aims to promote the sari in association with Rehwa,” informs Sharma.

The 2017 edition of the fashion show will also exhibit different weaves and ways to drape a sari. Coinciding with the fashion show will be a two-day exhibition of saris, starting March 4, by Rehwa Society that works with rural women and has been instrumental in reviving Maheshwari weaves.

The venue for the exhibition is Ronnie Grey store, SCO 26, Inner Market, Sector 8, Chandigarh.

Leading the Way

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One of the city's leading professionals-turned-entrepreneur couple, Raman and Anju Aggarwal take us through their new workspace and mantra for success

If there ever was a manual on how to do business in the IT industry in Chandigarh, the credits would go to Raman Aggarwal and his wife Anju. And if there was to be a book chronicling the success stories of professionals-turned-entrepreneurs, this couple would fit right in. Wait, there’s more. If there was a looking back series on Chandigarh, especially focussing on its work life three decades ago, then such an article would be incomplete without quotes by the Aggarwals.

Photo By: Vikram Joy

While Raman, a chartered accountant, has more than two decades of experience in accountancy, tax, corporate law, international taxation, and business management services, Anju is an architect who specialises in corporate architecture and has many projects in the city to her credit.

Today, the two spearhead Aeren IT Solutions Private Ltd, a company that has leading international names like Google, Yahoo, Hult Business School as its client. Apart from software development, the company offers KPO (knowledge process outsourcing) services specialising in legal services, accounting and other high-end processes.

Incidentally, Raman Aggarwal who is a super-specialist of sorts in setting up IT operations, was instrumental in setting up Quark Software in Mohali in 1998. “When I look back to the early 1980s when Anju and I came to pursue higher education in Chandigarh, it seems so much has changed. Back then, this city hardly offered any work opportunities as it does now,” reminisces Aggarwal as we meet him in his swanky new office in IT Park.

The credit for the artsy interiors, the vibrant green environs and the cool vibe of the place goes to Anju, an alumna of Chandigarh College of Architecture, who has been instrumental in giving corporate interiors an offbeat look. “While I do homes and private spaces, over the years, corporate interiors have come to be my specialisation,” says Anju who has also worked on cricketer Yuvraj Singh’s home.

Complementing each other in the work space, the couple tells us that the journey this far hasn’t been easy. “We had to carve out our own niche. Also we realised each other’s strengths and worked accordingly. The hard work followed and that paid off in the long run,” says Raman who spent a great deal marketing Chandigarh as an IT hub to companies overseas. Spreading wings, he also acquired a US-based IT company in 2005.

“The mantra to success is simple. Learning never ends and one must put it all the hard work and do it with sincerity,” feels Raman as Anju adds, “It’s good to take on challenges and despite setbacks, it is important to keep at it. Being an architect, my focus has been to think out of the box using easily available and affordable materials.”

Having worked on umpteen projects, the two share their latest endeavour called myconsumerforum.com. “It’s a one of its kind online consumer dispute resolution and redressal platform that provides total integrated dispute resolution solutions right from follow up with merchant, to complaint to police/regulatory agencies, to complaint to consumer court as a ‘one stop shop’ to assist Indian consumers to get their disputes resolved,” informs Raman. The solutions are offered free and the aim, as Raman adds, is to guide consumers who get intimidated by the various legalities.

The Beauty Brigade

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Bir Kaur Dhillon, Director of Mrs India Beauty Queen pageant introduces the winners in Chandigarh

The poolside at Hotel Taj Chandigarh on Tuesday afternoon was overtaken by the shutterbugs as a bevy of beauty pageant winners preened and posed for them. Leading the way was former beauty queen Bir Kaur Dhillon (winner of Mrs India Globe 2013) who is currently the director of Mrs India Beauty Queen (MIBQ) pageant. 


rnPhoto By: Vikram Joy

Dhillon, who is based in Vancouver, Canada, also steers the Mr India Manhunt International contest (formerly led by Maureen Wadia) and was in Chandigarh to introduce the winners for 2016 and their future plans. 

“Ludhiana’s Aditi Swaraj Sharma is the winner of the Mrs India Globe 2016 title. Subsequent to her winning the title, Aditi went on to represent India at the Mrs Globe 2016 finals held in China last year,” informed Dhillon.

Mrs India Globe 2016 saw Shalini Sood of the US being crowned first runner-up. “She was also crowned Mrs India United Nations International 2016 and will be going to Jamaica in May this year for the international competition,” informed Dhillon. 


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Delhi’s Sushma Bharti is the second runner-up at the MIBQ 2017 pageant while Hyderabad-based Abhimanika Yadav clinched the third place and would be going for the finals of Mrs Asia Pacific Universe later this year.

“I have always felt that such competitions aren’t just about winning. It helps give a platform to the talented and being married shouldn’t be a road block. In fact, we have always got an overwhelming response for the Mrs India auditions,” said Dhillon.

The winners who were present for the event admit that more than the exposure it’s the grooming, training and overall experience that they are looking for. “For me it was a chance to pursue modelling in India and also explore my roots,” said Shalini Sood, the pageant’s international contestant from US.


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Chandigarh’s Gurmehar Grewal who has won the Mr India Manhunt International 2016 admits to harbouring dreams in modelling while first runner-up Eklavya Sood from Solan in Himachal Pradesh is looking at a career in Bollywood. Also present was Sunny Mehrotra from Lucknow who has won the title of Mr India Men Universe 2017 and will be representing India later this year at the world finals to be held in the Dominican Republic. Madhav Sharma from Hoshiarpur will be representing India at the Men of the World 2017 pageant to be held at Philippines. 

“We will be conducting auditions in north India for this year’s edition of MIBQ and Mr India Manhunt soon,” said Dhillon. For more information, log on to www.mrsindia.in and www.mrindiamanhuntinternational.com