Home Blog Page 80

Art on Your Scarf


Gahna Gupta's hand-painted collection of scarves makes a case for wearable art

At a time when markets are flooded with branded stores, high-street labels and ‘designer wear’, a young artist is making a case for handmade, pure and original art that’s also wearable. Meet Gahna Gupta, a Zirakpur-based artist who hand-paints scarves and textile.

An alumnus of National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Delhi, Gupta has specialised in textile design and also worked with Anthropologie, the American clothing retailer. Even when she worked in Delhi (before shifting back to Chandigarh) Gupta would take out time to paint. “I was drawn to textile and even brought home an ‘adda’ to stretch my fabric on and paint,” informs Gupta who also makes hand knotted jewellery.

Photo By: Vikram Joy

Using freestyle strokes and fabric colours, the artist treated the textile as canvas and went with the flow. What emerged were abstract designs to more put-together floral artworks. Soon Gupta found her rhythm and hand painted over 100 pieces that were finished off with tassels and embellishments like pom-poms. She also christened her label ‘Coloring’. “Credit goes to my mother, Meera Gupta, a designer herself who helped me with the finished product,” says Gahna as we meet her at her studio in Zirakpur.

Gahna is now ready with her new collection that would be showcased at La Feria, a two-day lifestyle exhibition that rolls out at Leisure Valley on March 4. We were lucky to get ourselves a preview. When someone says scarves, you picture a not-too-long length of fabric, usually in silk or cotton that’s printed or in a solid colour. In Gahna’s collection the scarf is actually fairly long and can also double up as a dupatta. We liked the use of fine cotton, some even textured, and the use of different printed cotton as borders and trimmings. The artwork is definitely the highlight and wrapped around your neck will make for a conversation starter!

Photo By: Vikram Joy

Interestingly, all the scarves come with a lining. “That is intentional as I don’t want the underside to look unfinished and not match up,” informs the artist who feels art should not be confined to conventional spaces. Keeping with the handmade theme, the scarves come sweetly packed in a handmade cotton bag and a hand-written note by the artist. 

As far as colours go, expect bolder hues like black and red to pastels like lime yellow and pale mint. While the scarves are priced between Rs 1,800 to Rs 3,500, the artist is also pairing them with long kurtas that would also be available at the exhibition. “I am now working on more intricate designs on textiles that can be framed as well,” signs off Gupta.

If you liked reading about Gahna, you can check out her page: www.facebook.com/coloringbygahnagupta

Theres a Book Fair in Town


The fair is on in Sector 34 and offers a variety of genres to choose from.

With a book in your hand, you can never be alone. And if you are looking for some new reads, check out this ongoing book fair in the city. On till March 5, ‘The Book Fair 2017’ has been organised by Morvinandan Events with the objective to inculcate reading habits among the youth.

What’s on offer: The fair brings a wide variety of books in different genres such as fiction, non-fiction, novels, kids literature, love stories, GK, IQ related books et al. Besides English, Hindi and Punjabi, books in some of the other regional languages are also available. Ahmadiya Muslim Community is showcasing Urdu books and Yagoda Satsang books are based on spirituality. Noted publishers and authors have also put up their stalls at the fair. There are 85 stalls with prominent publishers like Grolier, National Book Trust, Blue Rose, Rajkamal Parkashan and Made Easy participating in the fair. Prices are pocket-friendly and make sure you take the kids along.

Venue: Exhibition Ground, Sector 34, Chandigarh

Time: 11 am till 8 pm; on till March 5

Entry: Free


Do We Belong Here?


Families of Indian students and professionals in the US admit to living in constant state of fear and anxiety

In a shocking incident, an Indian engineer working in the city of Kansas (State of Missouri, US) was killed by an American navy veteran in what appears to be an incident of hate crime on Friday. The 32-year-old victim – Srinivas Kuchibhotla – was working at GPS-maker Garmin headquarters in Olathe.

Kuchibhotla was at a bar with his colleague Alok Madasani (injured but now stable) when the unfortunate incident took place. The 51-year-old shooter – Adam W Purinton – a US Navy veteran reportedly shouted “get out of my country” and “terrorist” to the Indians before opening fire. According to news reports, Purinton thought the victims were from the Middle East. He reportedly provoked them into an argument asking about their presence and work in his country, and how they are better than him. Thinking he was out of ammunition, 24-year-old American Ian Grillot, who was also present at the time of shooting, tried to confront the shooter but was fired at. He survived the attack and was quoted in The Washington Post as saying, “I was just doing what anyone should have done for another human being. It’s not about where he was from or his ethnicity. We’re all humans. I just felt I did what was naturally right to do.”

Photo By: Facebook

While the authorities are yet to give out details about the incident and haven’t called it a hate crime, the Indian community both in the US and back home is in shock. An estimated 300,000 Indians are working in the United States on H-1B high-skilled worker visas. And most of them are employed in the business outsourcing and software industries.

The climate of hostility worries families back home in India. “We always make sure to speak to our son once in the day on Skype. He is based in Boston. But such news is worrying as it makes us question what is their fault? Why are innocents targeted and whether it would be a good idea to ask them to come home?” questions Col (retd) Randeep Singh, a resident of Phase 9 in Mohali.

It’s a question that surfaced in Sunayana Dumala’s address to the media today. The wife of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, she has questioned the increasing bias minorities face in the US. “Do we belong here?” said a visibly distraught Dumala who wants to know what the US government will do to stop hate crimes against minorities.

“My daughter is an alumnus of London School of Economics. She is currently working in Bengaluru. Even though she wanted to be overseas for her professional career, as parents we were very concerned and called her back. It is not easy for families to cope with the stress and anxiety in such hostile times,” says Nupur Sharma, a Chandigarh-based homemaker who admits to spending many sleepless night worried for her daughter’s safety.

Since Donald Trump’s election as the US president in November, many people have expressed conce that hate crimes have risen as a result of Trump administration’s controversial ideas against immigrants. “This is not normal. We must declare our entire country a hate-free zone and fight to protect it as such. During this moment of tragedy, I stand with Indian-Americans, Muslim-Americans, and all groups impacted by the dangerous rhetoric coming out of the Trump administration,” said Pramila Jayapal, a Congresswoman and first Indian-American woman ever elected to the US House of Representatives.

Back to the Farm


Small but thriving, the city's organic famers' market offers naturally grown, pesticide-free produce for all with music and fun on the side

We all want to eat vegetables and fruits in their purest forms with no harmful use of chemicals. But growing your own produce isn’t easy as it calls for planning, space and above all time and resources. But here’s good news in the city.

Photo By: Sumit Kumar

The Farmers’ Market

As many as 12 farmers come together every Saturday (12pm to 4 pm) near the Sukhna Lake (Kartar Aasra road) in Chandigarh to sell their naturally grown, pesticide-free produce. The market offers a variety of produce by various farmers like green leafy vegetables, pulses, jaggery, honey, rice, flour, spices, ginger, garlic, ‘muraba’, ‘achaar’ and more.

The initiative that started about a year and a half ago, known as the Chandigarh Holistic Agriculture Initiative or CHAI, has farmers coming from Kurukshetra, Nabha, Fatehgarh Sahib, Kishengarh, Ropar, etc. After having faced its share of ups and downs, it now has dedicated consumers who don’t miss the weekly date. Originally started in NITTTR last year, the market was asked to shift base from one venue to another. After shifting from CCET, the Forest Department gave them a new location. And given the green surroundings it is the perfect setting.

Photo By: Sumit Kumar

Seema Jolly, one of the farmers and also one of the founding members of the initiative, calls it an exclusive organic platform. “A need was felt when it came to marketing the organic goods. This is one platform where farmers and consumers come together,” says Jolly.

It’s a place which sees similar faces every week, where everyone knows everyone, has seen a good response and has grown through word of mouth. And it’s much more that just buying or selling vegetables. “With some music, food and stuff for kids to do, we want to grow this into a holistic community” adds Jolly.

Photo By: Sumit Kumar

What’s on offer?

Like many other farmers busy selling their produce, we caught up with Gurmel Singh, a farmer from Nabha. His products include jaggery, shakkar, pinni, saag and ghee. Singh who has been associated with this market ever since it started, says, “I feel there’s a gap between the producers and the consumers which needs to be sorted.”

We spotted another couple selling paneer, breads and veggies. Rohit Kumar from Ambala, who worked for his foundry business all his life, decided to turn organic 12 years ago when he found out about people adulterating milk. “So the basic purpose was to provide good quality pure milk to people,” says this graduate from PEC, Chandigarh. “More than a profession, it’s a passion for me now,” says Kumar, who started coming to the Saturday market in May last year and has loved the response.

Photo By: Sumit Kumar

The market offers juices, a counter with stir-fried vegetables and yet another one for pizza. With kids learning how to make bird feeders from biodegradable wastes, live music being played, and food available in every form, it truly turns out to be one complete venue.

The market also offers vegetables, honey, pulses, strawberries, all coming directly from different farms. Produced in natural environments, and with the efforts that have gone in to nurture them, these cost slightly more than the regular products that are available elsewhere in the city.

Photo By: Sumit Kumar

The organic market is where it is because of the people involved and their undying efforts. The market, not having received enough help from the administration, stands on its feet by the farmers funding it themselves and sees itself growing in the future with the involvement of more farmers. The market along with offering fresh, organic and natural food products, brings you closer to nature and become a part of the community which not only eats but thinks organic.

A Word of Advice from UGC Chairman


UGC chairman Prof Ved Prakash wants teachers to be more sensitive to the special needs of less privileged students from backward and remote areas

University Grants Commission (UGC) chairman Professor Ved Prakash appears to be a man in a hurry. He has a vision, and a special corner in his heart for lesser privileged students from backward and remote areas of the country.

Photo By: Sumit Kumar

He wants all institutions and agencies dealing with higher education to put their heads together and exploit the renewed focus on digitalisation in the country to the fullest and generate quality content to rapidly increase the penetration of higher education. He also wants reorientation in the thought process of teachers so that they become more sensitive to the special needs of underprivileged students from backward and remote areas.

In an impassioned address to a gathering of vice-chancellors, directors of Educational Multimedia Research Centres (EMRCs), teachers and students at the National Institute of Technical Teachers Training and Research (NITTTR) in Chandigarh, Prof Ved Prakash, shared some of these thoughts with them. Life in Chandigarh presents a few:

Few good institutions

The UGC chairman says that though the country has one of the largest networks of higher education institutions in the world with 844 degree-awarding institutions and 40,000 degree colleges, there were very few which could compete with the best in the world. The Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education though has risen to 24%, it was still low with only 33.3 million of the 119 million eligible students in the age group 18-23 years in the country enrolled in higher education. “It’s nowhere near the 77%B in Scandinavia and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.”

‘Go digital’

Prof Ved Prakash felt while emphasising the need to reach out with higher education to a much larger student community felt that it could be achieved by generating quality digital content and exploiting the renewed thrust on digitalisation in the country under the present Prime Minister. He wants higher education disseminated in the backward and far-flung areas with the help of ICT tools at an affordable price. “We are losing valuable time and I urge Educational Multimedia Research Centres (EMRCs) to expedite the generation of quality digital content so that we demonstrate the will to fulfil the social and economic aspirations of a much greater number of students.”

Photo By: Sumit Kumar

Needs of lesser privileged

Dwelling on the special needs of lesser privileged students from the far-flung and backward regions of the country, who sometimes find themselves at sea in a highly urbanised environment, he asked: “Do we see most teachers showing greater compassion and sensitivity towards students who do not have much exposure to an urbanised atmosphere, or do they consider such students good for nothing and leave no opportunity to ridicule them?” He called for a change in the mindset of teachers on this count.

‘Spend with care’

“I know that institutions of higher learning are short of funds, and they will always be. The central and state governments have to show the will to put higher education on top of their agenda to help ease the situation. While the central government has to some extent shown the seriousness and commitment to do so, the state governments are sadly found to be still lacking in displaying this commitment,” Professor Ved Prakash added.

The UGC Chairman felt that “the institutions of higher learning need to be more responsible in the way they plan their expenditure and generate more resources for themselves by expediting efforts at quality research and linking it to the industry”.

Case for shorter courses

“We can also consider reducing the duration of our courses like the United Kingdom has done with its engineering courses, reducing the period to three years. This will also make courses more affordable to students,” he added.

About Professor Ved Prakash

Professor Ved Prakash has held eminent positions in a number of premier national and international organisations dealing with education in general and higher education in particular. Prior to assuming charge as Chairman, University Grants Commission (UGC), he served as Vice-Chairman, UGC; Vice-Chancellor, National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA), New Delhi; and Secretary, UGC. He also served as Adviser (Education), Planning Commission, Government of India; besides as Professor and Head, Department of Educational Measurement and Evaluation, National Council of Educational Research and Training, New Delhi. He also worked as a Consultant for the World Bank.

Don’t Miss the Jaspal Bhatti Humour Festival


The Department of Cultural Affairs, Chandigarh Administration is organizing the ‘Jaspal Bhatti Humor Festival 2017’ from March 3 to 5 with the likes of Ranan Ranbir, Ssumeir Pasricha and Sunil Grover performing.

The city that well-known actor and humourist Jaspal Bhatti loved is set to celebrate his vision and legacy. The Department of Cultural Affairs, Chandigarh Administration would be presenting the ‘Jaspal Bhatti Humor Festival 2017’ from March 3 to 5. Incidentally, March 3 is the birth anniversary of the late satirist.

Photo By: Life in Chandigarh
Speaking about the forthcoming show, Jitender Yadav, Director, Department of Cultural Affairs and Savita Bhatti informed that this year’s edition would showcase Punjabi comedy on the first day, English comedy acts on day two and the following day dedicated to Hindi comedy. Each day a special film would be featured on Jaspal Bhatti made by Mad Arts Film School.

DAY ONE: The first day of Punjabi comedy would feature Punjabi superstar Rana Ranbir, Ssumier Pasricha (of Pummy Aunty fame) Gunjan Utreja, Deepak Raja, Shugli Fugli (earlier known as Santa Banta) and Satti Sembi.

DAY TWO: The English comedy evening would have Joe Bath as the host with popular comedians Amit Tandon, Atul Khatri and Jeeveshu Ahluwalia performing.

DAY THREE: The final day would have Arvinder Singh Bhatti as the anchor with acts by Sunil Grover (of Guthi and Dr Mashoor Gulati fame), Sunil Pal and Savita Bhatti. The finale will also see the cast of Jaspal Bhatti’s iconic ‘Flop Show’ come together on stage to commemorate 25 years of its stupendous run.

Venue: Tagore Theatre, Chandigarh

Time: 6.30 pm to 9 pm

Entry: Free

Raise a Toast


With fresh brews, new flavours and fun ambience, the popularity of microbreweries in on the rise in the Tricity

When it comes to merriment and partying, most occasions are incomplete without a round or two of cocktails or mocktails. It is worth mentioning here that beer is one of the extensively consumed alcoholic beverages across the globe and Tricity has seen a huge transition in the beer industry in the last five years. The craft beer culture has grown steadily and is booming progressively.

Some years ago there were just two microbreweries — Hops & Grains and Ooze-The Brauhaus, in Panchkula but today there are more than six of them including outlets in Chandigarh and Mohali such as The Brew Estate, The BrewMaster, Malt & Co et al. This clearly denotes that the sector is booming and moving away from the usual bottled lagers.

Photo By: Vikram Joy

That’s something Deb Dip Chatterjee, General Manager, Hops & Grains (Panchkula) and The Great Bear (Chandigarh) agrees with. “I believe craft beers have gained popularity as they are prepared with passion, interest and excitement. Personal attention is required for small-batch production to produce brews that are flavourful and distinct. I believe this is one of the reasons that the industry has grown multi-fold in the last five years’ span. We have entered into our seventh year of brewing and we have literally seen the industry growing by the day. With people becoming more health conscious, they are gradually switching to craft beer and prefer it over the bottled beers.”

Toeing the same line Sandeep Kondal, General Manager Ooze-The Brauhaus in Panchkula, says, “Ooze is the first microbrewery based on German technology and as people here are well travelled they understand the variation in beers. Most of them are aware of the health benefits of craft beer.”

Photo By: Vikram Joy

The popularity is on the rise. Ask Gaganpreet Singh, a regular visitor at The Brew Estate and he admits, “I was introduced to craft beer by one of my friends and I never felt like having bottled beer after that. A fresh brew is not only flavoursome but healthy as well.”

While explaining the different beer flavours, Chatterjee says, “Taste and flavours are the biggest USP of microbreweries. You can attempt and introduce numerous flavours of beers at a microbrewery. Currently we are serving Wheat, Dunkel Dark and Redberry (special seasonal beer) at Hops & Grains and Wheat, Bock, Peach (special seasonal beer) and Paan (special seasonal beer) at The Great Bear outlet.”

Photo By: Vikram Joy

Rachna Goyal, a HR professional admits that apart from the innovative flavours, craft beer is low in calories, which adds to its appeal. “We love hanging out with our friends at microbreweries and the best part of having a craft beer is that it isn’t fattening. The paan flavoured beer that they are serving these days at The Great Beer is indeed a great quencher,” says Goyal.

When it comes to serving authentic Pale Ale, Kondal adds, “We are serving Hefeweizen (Wheat Beer), Pilsner (Czech Lager), Trappist (A rare Belgian Ale) and we recently launched IPA (India Pale Ale) which is a popular beer globally and contributes 60 per cent to the consumption of IPA worldwide.”

5 Style Essentials for Men


From palazzo pants to embroidery and even some bling, here are style essentials for men this season

The start of the year is a good time to both look back as well as ahead. For a good part of last year, one saw men (designers and brands included) truly experiment, not just with colours but with styling and silhouettes as well. While comfort remains key, there is newness now in men’s fashion that had been missing for some seasons. In the words of ace designer Rohit Bal, who showcased at the Van Heusen & GQ Fashion Nights, “The looks are experimental with a strong sense of adventure.” The event also saw leading designers like Rajesh Pratap Singh, Shantanu-Nikhil and Kunal Rawal, among others, showcase menswear collections, keeping a new season in mind.

When it comes to men’s fashion, designer Sahil Aneja, who was also part of the Fashion Nights showcase, says, “My collection draws inspiration from the modern man who has evolved out of his comfort zone into the fusion-led and dynamic international fashion world. The collection looked to break traditional typologies and personas.” Aneja’s colour palette brought in colours like bottle green, grey, deep wine and dark blue.

Also emphasising on a deep and dark colour palette was designer Rajesh Pratap Singh. His collection brought in mix of wool and silk, wool-cotton and wool-linen blends in fabrics. If you are still to put together your look for the coming months, here are five essentials you can’t afford to miss.

Palazzo Pants

Who said palazzos were only for the ladies? Having said that, palazzo pants aren’t for everyone and it’s a look that requires you to be confident and nonchalant. One has seen an increasing number of designers flare up pants this season, keeping comfort in mind. More like lounge pants, these can also be teamed with an open bandhgala for a fusion look. Actor Aditya Roy Kapur (in photo) dressed in a Rajesh Pratap Singh ensemble carries off the look well. We love the fun vibe.

Embroidery and Bling

Again mainstays of women’s fashion like embroidery and bling has crept into men’s fashion. But we like how the men are giving it their own interpretation. Instead of going all with embroidery, think less is more. And that holds true for the wedding achkan and sherwani. An embroidered jacket with tone-on-tone embroidery looks chic when paired with plain trousers and not too many accessories. If all-over embroidery is not your thing, you can choose to highlight a kurta jacket or Nehru collar. Don’t go too colourful with the design is what designer’s recommend. Also since bling is in, opt for sequinned shoes in silver or black or even a glittery steel or black (not loud colours) shirt worn under a formal coat.

Suit Up

Given that the shaadi season is in full flow, it is imperative that men invest in a sharp suit. We suggest you leave the tuxedo for the groom and close family members only. While there is a lot of mix and match in fabrics when it comes to suiting material, one look that is trending is that of same pattern for coat and trousers. Think plaid with plaid and check with check. Just don’t go for an overwhelming pattern and make sure the suit fits you well – not too tight. Pictured here is actor Kunal Kapoor in a well-fitted double-breasted suit. Make sure you tuck in pocket square that pairs well with the suit.

Relaxed Silhouettes

Actor Shahid Kapoor has launched his range of clothing, Skulpt, that focuses on athleisure, a new term in fashion that stands for comfortable yet fashionable garments for exercise and lounging. Comfort is definitely an important part of men’s fashion now and keeping that in mind we see an increasing use of relaxed silhouettes. Farhan Akhtar spells out the trend, pictured here in slouchy pants, worn with an asymmetrical kurta with a cowl neck. We like how designs mostly associated with womenswear are now appearing in men’s clothing in a smart way.

Ethnic Chic

See how dishy Ranbir Kapoor looks in this Kunal Rawal design. A short kurta and Nehru jacket teams up very well with straight-fit pants. The fit is most important and it’s best not to get too adventurous with colours. Pair neutral tones together.

One of a Kind Phulkari


Chandigarh-based artist Madan Lal wins National Academy Award in the 58th National Exhibition of Art for his work titled 'Urban Phulkari'

Sitting in his studio in Sector 48, Chandigarh, surrounded by his canvases, an array of paints and brushes in all sizes, shapes and the winter sun filtering in through the windows, Madan Lal is a photographer’s delight. The well-known artist from the city, who is presently working as an Assistant Director, Design Textile Handicrafts and Textiles, Punjab Government in Chandigarh, has good news to share. And given his reserved nature, the artist hands us a letter to read for ourselves.

Photo By:Vikram Joy

The official letter tells us that Madan Lal’s artwork titled ‘Urban Phulkari’ has been selected for the National Academy Award in the 58th National Exhibition of Art. The exhibition will be inaugurated on February 24, 2017, at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Bengaluru. The award ceremony will be held on the same evening in Bengaluru as well. For the unaware, the National Academy Award carries a cash prize of Rs one lakh along with a copper plaque and certificate.

Photo By:Vikram Joy

While he has received numerous national and international accolades in the past including one received last year from the Prafulla Dahanukar Art Foundation, the National Academy Award is indeed special to Madan Lal. It recognises his ongoing series on the urban landscape, the changing times and how people, animals, birds have adapted to their new surroundings. “It’s a series that I have been working on for a while,” informs Lal whose previous assignment was with the Northern India Institute of Fashion Technology (NIIFT), Mohali as Assistant Professor. 

Having lived in Chandigarh for over two decades now – he is also an alumnus of Government College of Art, Chandigarh – the city’s urban life has been a recurring theme in Madan Lal’s paintings. In ‘Urban Phulkari’, his award-winning work, the artist presents traditional Phulkari in an urban set-up. “In this series, I wanted to look at the past and present using Phulkari as a motif that stands for tradition,” explains the artist. 

Photo By:Vikram Joy

Just like the vibrant colours one would see in an embroidered Phulkari baagh, Lal’s work is vibrant and intricate. If the Phulkari of the past brought women of the house together to stitch a tale of their times, Lal’s ‘Urban Phulkari’ shows the claustrophobic concrete jungle, the chaotic mess of technology that has invaded our lives. The loud chatter and noise is well depicted in the work so are the everyday rituals of life in a modern setting. Animals and birds (especially the parrot) always find place in Lal’s work. “We live in fast changing times. Everything around is undergoing change and it affects not just our lives but animals and birds too,” says Lal who hopes to exhibit his series in the city soon. 

Wizards of Oz


Australian 'word nerd' David Astle with countrymate and writer Judith Rossell, on a visit to the city, give us a peek into their creative minds

It's a first time visit for both. And what better way to know a city than through interactions with its younger residents. Australian authors David Astle and Judith Rossell have been interacting with students across schools in Chandigarh as part of Australian government’s school outreach programme in India. Prior to Chandigarh, they were in Delhi to participate in the Bookaroo Children’s Literature Festival.

“I am just a year younger to Chandigarh. I was born in 1961,” Astle is quick to let us know. No, he really doesn’t look that old.

Photo By: Vikram Joy

Interestingly, his first introduction to Punjab came many years ago when he read Salman Rushdie’s ‘Midnight’s Children’. As for Rossell, who is on her first ever trip to India, the sights, sounds and smells might be unfamiliar but she admits they are exciting, to say the least. We met up with the two taking a break post a hectic workshop schedule at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Chandigarh.

What’s a word nerd? It’s not often you meet someone who is better known (and handsomely paid, we are told) as a “full-time word nerd”. “I love playing with words, twisting them up to make new words. I have always been fascinated with word play even before I could read sentences. It’s a disease, I tell you,” quipped Astle as he introduced himself. His name might be unfamiliar to most of us here but back home in Australia, Astle is a professional crossword maker for newspapers like The Age and Sydney Morning Herald. He’s also a famous Wordplay columnist and has authored a number of crossword and puzzle books for children. “I like breaking down words, finding words within words, double meaning words…I love the duplicitous nature of words,” said Astle who conducted word play workshops with children in the city. “I am fascinated with Hindi as well,” said Astle who has in a short span of time has learnt many words in Hindi. “I encourage children to use language as a toy and to have fun with it. I encourage lateral thinking and love to teach children the art of word play,” explained Astle as he went on to share an example. “For instance why is a cow called a ‘gai’ when it is actually a girl and the milk is so cool that it is called ‘dhoodh’ as in dude,” chuckled Astle who admits he’s going to have fun with Hindi a lot more when he gets home.

Before that he would be visiting Chennai for school workshops and will also be a part of the Kahaani Festival in Jaipur.

Photo By: Vikram Joy

Just as there are voracious readers, there are prolific writers. Judith Rossell qualifies for both. An Australian illustrator and writer, Judith Rossell has authored children’s books for nearly two decades. “It started with my love for drawing and it naturally progressed to writing books for children,” said Rossell who has illustrated more than 80 books. Though her titles are not yet published in India, they are widely available and read in UK and USA. Some have also been translated into nearly 20 languages. We were curious to know whether India or an Indian character has featured in any of her works. “Not until now,” replied Rossell as she went on to add, “My latest book is part of a series and is set in Victorian England. The central character is Stella Montgomery who lives with her three dreadful aunts. The plot packs in adventure, mystery, magic…it would be interesting to send Stella to India of the 1880s but that would mean a lot of research on my part,” said the writer.

Rossell also mentioned how writing for children is a very popular genre for writers in Australia. “I was at a huge publishers’ meet recently and was told that children’s books form the major chunk of book business in Australia,” informed Rossell. Unlike in India where reading storybooks and non-curriculum literature among children is reportedly on the decline, Rossell is happy to state that it quite the opposite in her country. “Parents also read to their children a lot. I grew up reading a lot of Enid Blyton books as my mother is English,” said Rossell who loves to draw. As part of her visit to schools in India, she has planned drawing workshops for students. “It’s interesting to interact with them,” summed up Rossell who will head to Mumbai next.