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The Last Mughals in Unseen Colour

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Period paintings tell author William Dalrymple that even in what history considers its gloomiest years, the Mughal court was rich in colour

In 1670, Delhi was the centre of the richest, most powerful empire of the world, which made Ming’s China look impoverished. There was extraordinary colour in the Mughal court in what history considers the” dark” 100 years leading up to 1857. “Riches that were produced in this country, sophistication that will never be rivalled,” author-historian William Dalrymple said at Panjab University during his Urmi Kessar memorial lecture on ‘Princes and Painters in Late Mughal Delhi, 1707-1857’. “People call Donald Trump a real-estate Mughal, but even he doesn’t have the taste.”

Photo By: Sumit Kumar

 

Dalrymple referred to the Mughal artistic culture in the 18th and 19th centuries and highlighted the interwoven nature of Mughal, European and regional patronage to Delhi’s court artists such as Nidha Mal, Chitraman, Ghulam Ali Khan, Ghulam Murtaza Khan, and Mazhar Ali Khan.

He referred to the contributions of William Fraser, Scottish officer who married an Indian woman from Hansi in Haryana, and he referred to the portraits of soldiers, villagers, dancing women, holy men, Indian nobles, and British ‘nabobs’. The 150 years leading to the mutiny were a transitional period that altered Indian culture, politics and art, and ushered artistic innovation and experimentation.

Photo By: Sumit Kumar

 

Aurangzeb had never banned painting but also never patronised it. After him, Bhadur Shah-I and Farukh Siyar didn’t take much interest in it either, triggering the flight of culture and arts to Rajasthan. It was not until Mohammad Shah Rangeela that Delhi regained its status as the centre of arts. He brought folk music to the Mughal court and liked to dress up as woman.

Portraits show a naked emperor moving undetected through Jauhari Bazar in intricate body paint and celebrating Hindu festivals in court, scenes that Dalrymple says would have made Aurangzeb turn in his grave. It was like the return of culture to London with Charles the Second after 40 years of no art, stage, colour, or festivities.

Photo By: Sumit Kumar

 

History shows Delhi on the verge of collapse at this time but pictures tell a different tale. Paintings reveal Rangeela’s fondness for women, flowers, and sport (elephant fights). A time of good food and great paintings. Unfortunately, it coincided with the time of a savage invader called Nadir Shah.

When historians discuss the legacy of British colonialism in India, they usually mention democracy, the rule of law, railways, tea and cricket. Yet the idea of the joint-stock company is arguably one of Britain’s most important exports to India. The East India Company remains history’s most terrifying warning about the potential for the abuse of corporate power.

Photo By: Sumit Kumar

 

“There are more Mughal artefacts stacked in this private house in the Welsh countryside than are on display at even the National Museum in Delhi. The treasure includes a painting that shows the time in August 1765 when the young, blind Mughal emperor, Shah Alam, exiled from Delhi and defeated by East India Company, was forced to dismiss his own revenue officials in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, and replace them with a set of English traders appointed by Robert Clive–the new governor of Bengal,” Dalrymple said.

In another painting, Sir Thomas Roe, the ambassador sent by James-I to the Mughal court in 1614, is shown appearing before emperor Jahangir, who had inherited from his father, Akbar, lands stretching through most of India, all of what is now Pakistan and Bangladesh, and most of Afghanistan. He ruled over five times the population commanded by the Ottomans – roughly 10 crore people. His capitals were the megacities of their day.

Photo By: Sumit Kumar

 

From 1803 to 1830, Brits mixed with local artists, commissioned stuff. Then came Charles Metcalfe, who was smug and never seen in Indian clothes. The British and Indian cultures parted ways in the 1830s. The Last Mughal Emperor controls only the Red Fort but is a great patron of arts.

Need for Traffic Volunteers

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Let's resolve to not only follow traffic rules diligently but also become proactive traffic volunteers who don't shy away from helping where possible

Who am I? I am a responsible and public spirited Indian citizen, and I am concerned about the lack of road sense among most of us and the resultant chaotic conditions. That the traffic police force in the entire Chandigarh and Tricity has proved woefully inadequate in reining in the habitual and determined violators, is not lost on us. So, can we as citizens do something about it, with some help from the authorities? Of course, we can, provided we shed our inhibitions and hesitancy and resolve this New Year that we will contribute our bit.

Photo By: Raman Bhardwaj

So far I have been making my little contribution in instilling road sense among road users wherever convenient, and possible, as a self motivated traffic volunteer. My efforts have remained confined to ensuring that motorists stop at traffic lights and behind the zebra crossing when I am walking to and from some place, making people realise that it is in their own interests to park their vehicles properly in designated slots like in market places, requesting people to go back when they are trying to take a short cut by moving against the flow of traffic and stepping down to help liquidate small traffic jams.

But with traffic on Tricity roads increasing massively, leading to frequent, almost daily traffic snarls, and the limited traffic police force being overstretched, there is an urgent need for evolving an offbeat ‘traffic volunteers program’ which unleashes the power of scores, if not hundreds of traffic volunteers on the Tricity roads. These volunteers can go about doing their job while on the move without upsetting their daily schedules and also utilise their free time to do some traffic management near or around their own homes.

During my interactions on the issue with friends and others from time to time I have felt good to know that many people were disturbed over general lack of traffic sense and discipline and would love to contribute their bit without making a fuss over the issue, and without adversely affecting their daily work schedules. They may not want to get bogged down in an official system, so to say, but selflessly go about their work as per their own calling, for their own satisfaction at having done some constructive work for the overall good of society.

While one acknowledges that the Chandigarh Traffic Police Wing must be having many traffic marshals and volunteers working with it, and they must be doing good work, but most often one sees them on some official occasions like observance of traffic week etc. The need is for scores of ‘trained and self motivated volunteers’ with some kind of official recognition and authority to be unleashed on the roads, constantly keeping a watchful eye on the moving traffic, and intervening, wherever possible, with the authority of the state and seeking quick assistance from dedicated backup teams of traffic police personnel.

Such a volunteer force can be raised by a concerted effort through social media with the backing of the state with a name like ‘Volunteers in Action (VIA)’ or so. Only volunteers with a deep commitment to the cause and ready to work hands on selflessly are shortlisted, trained, given an official sanction like an ID card and a prominent arm band and then their force unleashed on the roads. This would be volunteerism in the true sense of the word.

The Volunteers can help in checking:

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  • Overspeeding/ rash driving, including roadways drivers.
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  • Helmetless driving, unnecessary honking, polluting vehicles, wrong specification number plates, horns, noise levels like in modified Bullet motorcycles, etc.
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  • Jumping red light.
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  • Driving within city limits on high beam / with unauthorised lighting.
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  • Wrong use of dedicated cycle lane / wrong-side driving.
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  • Using mobile while driving.
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  • Wrong parking, etc.
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They can also educate:

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  • People on lane driving, profusely using indicator lights, and keeping essential accessories like side view mirrors, lights etc in proper working condition.
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  • Talk about road sense to auto rickshaw drivers, rickshaw pullers, rehriwalas, cyclists and pedestrians, especially swerving of vehicles, stopping / parking at traffic stress points, wrong entry / wrong side driving, use of zebra crossing, how to walk near roundabouts, etc.
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Alternative is Key

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Debit your stress over no cash in hand by opting for easy and alternate ways of making financial transactions

Not too long ago, the queues around banks and ATMs in the tricity were daunting, to say the least. These are definitely new times for majority of Indians who are in the habit of transacting with cash only. And while the resilience and patience of law-abiding citizens was put to the test, it required some out of the box thinking on their part as well. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reiterated in his statements since the demonetisation move that Indians need to embrace the digital cashless world and “digitisation of economic activities is here to stay”.

While thankfully there was no panic situation in Chandigarh and its suburbs, it’s time all of us opted for (and learnt) alternative ways to make financial transactions. The team at Life in Chandigarh has compiled a list of ways you can make your payments and purchases without having cash in hand (but in the bank, of course).

Photo By: Life in Chandigarh

Write a cheque, please

This is one of the easiest ways to make a payment. While one is used to cutting a cheque for large amount of payments, that mindset needs to change. Given that it is the safest way to make a payment to someone, it’s surprising that most of us are shy to use it. It not only makes sure the money goes into the person’s account, it also helps you keep check of payments.

Photo By: Life in Chandigarh

Online Banking

For those who have shied away from using the Internet to transact online, they need to gear up now. The excuse that “I am not Internet-savvy” just doesn’t work anymore. Just like most of us have embraced new technology on our phones, it’s time we did the same for banking online.

For starters, you will have to register for the service at your bank branch. All private and public banks are happy to facilitate the same given the thrust on cashless society by the government. After you register for net banking option, you will be given a starter kit with a customer ID and password. It is imperative that you change the password from time to time and make sure you bank online from a secure server and computer free from malware. Get youngsters at home or people who have online banking experience to help you through initially.

Once you are familiar with net banking, you can do a multitude of things – view your account balances, pay bills, open fixed deposits, recurring deposits et al. You can also make a funds transfer to your friends.

Photo By: Life in Chandigarh

Mobile as a wallet

Within the first 24 hours of the announcement of demonetisation, the wallet loads of Snapdeal-owned mobile transactions platform Freecharge grew 12 times and has been increasing by the same average since then. Some of the major m-wallet players are Airtel Money, mRupee, Vodafone m-Pesa, Oxigen Wallet, Paytm, Mobikwik and Idea Money. These wallets actually play the part of a physical wallet. You can not only make bill payments but much more. They are easy to download and are accessible on App stores and many Apps come in regional languages as well. All you need is a basic smartphone and internet connection.

Photo By: Life in Chandigarh

Swipe and be wise

A recent report stated that there were around 75 crore debit and credit cards in the country (Source: RBI) and almost 72 crore of these are debit cards. With an increasing number of stores and vendors now keeping Point of Sale (PoS) machine, it’s time to pull out your debit/credit card from the cupboard and use them card diligently. Never share your pin numbers and passwords with anyone.

Single Platform

Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is a system that powers multiple bank accounts (of participating banks), several banking services features like fund transfer (P2P), and merchant payments in a single mobile application. UPI was launched by National Payments Corporation of India with Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) vision of migrating towards a ‘less-cash’ and more digital society. UPI has built on the Immediate Payment Service (IMPS) platform. It can be used for immediate money transfer through mobile device round the clock 24x and 365 days. Single mobile application is used for accessing different bank accounts. Other features include bill sharing with friends, merchant payment with single application or in-App payments, utility bill payments, over the counter payments and more.

One can download the UPI application from the App Store/Banks website and create profile by entering details like name, virtual id (payment address), password etc. (with inputs from IANS and online banking portals).

Fresh Flavours in City Menus

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The change of season has brought with it refreshing menu changes across restaurants in the city

The nip in the air is hard to miss and with the dipping mercury signalling a change in season, restaurants around town have taken cue to rework their menus. But more than just a toss-up of season specific dishes, the new menus have been well thought out keeping in mind the palate of diners in the city.

Photo By: Life in Chandigarh

 

Multiple Spread at Baluchi:  It’s one of our favourite restaurants in the city when it comes to Indian cuisine. Moving away from the predictable Mughlai and north Indian (predominantly Punjabi) fare, Baluchi housed in The Lalit Chandigarh offers a good mix of popular dishes culled from across the country. The new menu, curated by their team of chefs, is indeed plump and it traverses through south Indian, Bengali, coastal and Awadhi fare. The jeera ananas aab is a drink that’s super refreshing and the cumin flavour stays with you for long, in a good way. Given how the weather is changing, the malabari shorba made from cocount milk is warm and filling. There’s a robust range of starters like mutton galauti (expect melt in the mouth flavours), tandoori tusli masala artichoke, malai broccoli and the likes. The main course is equally appetising – the chicken stew with appam is a perfect way to enjoy a new flavour. Dal Baluchi retains its smokiness the Vendaka masala pachadi is worth a try, though the Patrani macchi needed a bit more time in the steamer for our liking. The perfect accompaniment to the menu is the selection of breads from their signature naanery. We are big fans of the gilaafi naan and the paan kulfi. A meal for two will cost Rs 2,000.

Photo By: Life in Chandigarh

 

Midnight Meals at JW Marriott: There’s been a spurt in the number of eateries offering midnight food deliveries. But when you are out with friends and family on a weekend and looking to grab a bite in the middle of night, the options for a safe and hygienic place are almost zilch. Looking to fill the gap, Cafe@JW housed in JW Marriott Chandigarh has rolled out a special midnight menu. A look at the cutely styled carts in the dining area with hot tawas, stacks of eggs, pots bubbling with chai and you realise the focus is on familiar and comfort food. On offer are popular combinations like bread-omelette, keema-pav, Maggi noodles, curd and paranthas and more. Streetside favourites made by gourmet chefs in nice ambience are the USPs here and pocket-friendly prices. A meal for two will cost Rs 1,200.

Photo By: Life in Chandigarh

 

Popular favourites at Taj Chandigarh: Maintaining a balance between local palate and the preferences of outstation guests including international travellers can be tricky. It’s here that the new menu at Cafe 17 housed in Taj Chandigarh scores well. There’s everything from Amritsari chole kulche and puri, poha and paranthas, dosas and idlis to waffles and pancakes, Danish pastries, French rolls et al. The soup and salad section has been revamped totally. We like the use of ingredients like quinoa, asparagus and cherry tomatoes in the sandwiches. Since it’s an all-day diner, there are new additions to the main course meals like Sufiana paneer tikka, Charmula chicken brochettes, Andhra tawa fish and loaded nachos. A meal for two will cost Rs 2,000.

Is Extravagance Out?

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Aggarwal Sabha's appeal to its community in the city to hold budget weddings is indeed appreciable. But will simple and low-key weddings trend in the future?

It seems to have got the Aggarwal community thinking. Just a few days ago the executive committee of the Aggarwal Sabha in Chandigarh unanimously passed a resolution that the members of the Aggarwal community should spend less on marriages. Weddings should be inexpensive and less ostentatious affairs, appealed the Sabha. A suggestion has also been made by the committee that marriage functions should be held during the day time to avoid extra expenses. While the Sabha denies that demonetisation has had a role to play in their recent announcement, it is a much appreciated move. 


Photo By: Raman Bhardwaj

Speaking about the appeal to its community, Sunil Gupta, general secretary, Aggarwal Sabha, Chandigarh said, “Marriage functions should be simple. We suggest that even guests and relatives should not be given anything in form of ‘shagun’. In the meeting of office bearers of our executive, a decision has also been taken that Aggarwal families should hold simple ‘Rasam Pagri’ functions.” The Akhil Bhartiya Agrawal Sammelan, a national body, had also issued similar directives which the Chandigarh unit has taken forward.    

According to rough estimates, Indian families (middle class to upper middle class) spend anywhere between Rs 20 lakhs to Rs 6 crores for weddings and associated functions. Recently, social media was abuzz with news over preparations for Union minister Nitin Gadkari’s daughter’s wedding. Reports suggested over 10,000 guests, most of them VVIPs, were flown to Nagpur in 50 charter flights. Terming the wedding as extravagant, the Congress party had questioned the extravagance in times of demonetisation and also sought bank details be made public. Also this month, former minister G Janardhana Reddy recreated the Vijayanagara empire at Bangalore Palace for his daughter’s wedding which was spread over five days and saw expenses over Rs 500 crore. 

“People have started using weddings as occasions to flaunt wealth and status,” feels Neha Aggarwal, a city-based entrepreneur. Married to a doctor, Neha’s own wedding was spread over three days but her parents made sure the guest list didn’t run into thousands. “Times are changing and so are communities. Increasingly, we are becoming conscious of how we spend and are making wise decisions with our money,” said the mother of two who hails the Sabha’s appeal to tone down marriages.


Photo By: Raman Bhardwaj

Equally appreciative of the move is Sunil Aggarwal, owner of Patyala – Royal couture, a popular designer clothing store in Sector 22, Chandigarh. “What most people forget is that the wedding is just for one day. Just like everyone forgets the previous day’s news, it’s the same for weddings. I feel the directive is a good move and personally, I feel there should be no wastage in weddings,” said Aggarwal. 

It is a widely known fact that in olden times, the community elders would maintain an account of money spent on a boy’s education and bringing up (a bahi khata of sorts) that was presented to the girl’s side with the aim of being reimbursed. 

Reflecting on the Aggarwal Sabha’s appeal, Dr M S Malik, president of the Jat Mahasabha in Chandigarh said, “It is a good move but we have been saying the same for a long time as well. It is not a result of demonetisation. All communities in general should avoid spending such large sums on weddings. Where is the need to show off?” 

Some years ago, the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) had also tried to discipline the community by issuing an advisory against serving of non-vegetarian food and alcohol at Sikh weddings. The DSGMC had also issued an order asking Sikhs in Delhi to keep their weddings simple instead of hosting elaborate functions. While the move met with mixed reactions, big fat Punjabi weddings didn’t show signs of toning down. It is hoped that the Aggarwal Sabha’s appeal doesn’t go in vain. It would be nice to see simple wedding affairs where the bride and groom mingle among a close set of guests who are treated to limited albeit delicious menu. Can we expect ‘simple and nice’, ‘low-key but fun’ headlines to trend when it comes to weddings in 2017? We sincerely hope to.   

Tunes From Dunes

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Mame Khan keeps the legacy of Mangniyar folk music alive

"After more than 5,000 concerts at nearly 3,000 venues in more than 50 countries, the times I performed with my father, Rana Khan, remain closest to my heart"…..Mame Khan, Sufi singer

From sand dunes to international fame. Sufi singer Mame Khan, who performed on the opening night of Royal Rajasthan Festival at Elante’s café courtyard, remembers the day that turned his life.
 


Photo By: Sumit Kumar

“A scout heard me singing in the wedding choir of musician-actor Ila Arun’s daughter and recommended me to Shankar-ji (singer and music director Shankar Mahadevan), and my Bollywood career stated off with the song ‘Baaware’ from the movie ‘Luck by Chance’,” he says. “Call it luck, but it was the result of my ‘riyaaz’ (years of music practice).”

The man who gave his voice to more than 500 songs, including film numbers for ‘No One Killed Jessica’ and ‘Mirzya’, and darling-of-the-masses ‘Chaudhary’ in Coke Studio Season 2 on MTV, belongs to a family of master singers from Rajasthan that preserves a unique tradition. He doesn’t remember the age at which he first sang but he has been travelling and performing in since 12.

“My first performance,” he says, “was before the-then prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi.” After more than 5,000 concerts at nearly 3,000 venues in more than 50 countries (across Europe, North America, the Gulf, and Africa) the times he performed with his father, Rana Khan, remain his most cherished. “It was a dream came true to share the stage with him and travel together.”

Rana Khan taught him the nuances of Mangniyar folk music, including ‘Jangra’. Mame Khan carries forward the family legacy of leading a simple life, singing at festivals and for the ‘jajmaan’ (patrons) at weddings and childbirth.

He has emerged as one of the country’s most admired Sufi singers, for his range of traditional, folk, and devotional songs. In 15 years, his family revived the once dying art of Indian Sufi singing, and Mame Khan has set his heart on taking it to new heights.
 


Photo By: Sumit Kumar

Mame Khan, who blends Sufi and traditional Rajasthani music, regaled the audience with ‘Mast Qalandar’, ‘Chhap Tilak’, ‘Jugni’, ‘Baaware’, and, of course, ‘Chaudhary’ on the opening night of Royal Rajasthan Festival.

“We need stronger cultural ties to build a stronger India,” UT administrator VP Singh Badnore observed at the inauguration. If it needs a brand ambassador, there’s Mame Khan.

The Mangniyars
The Mangniyar are Muslim classical folk musicians in Sindh (Pakistan) and the bordering Thar desert of Rajasthan’s Barmer and Jaisalmer districts. Wealthy landlords and aristocrats have patronised them for generations. The Mangniyar consider themselves descendants of the Rajputs, whose songs are passed on from generation to generation as oral history of the desert. They sing about Alexander, local maharajas, and past battles in the region.

Never Give Up

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In times of endless worries and stress, Maj DP Singh's story of grit and determination is something we all can learn from

The doctors had given up on him. But he came back from the dead. A Kargil war veteran, Major DP Singh (retd) has made sure every second of his new life is well-lived with not a moment to waste. “Maybe God did not want me to come to him so soon and there was much more written in my destiny,” remarked the 42-year-old as he readied to share details about his latest endeavour in Chandigarh recently.

 


Photo By: Life in Chandigarh

 

The Blade Runner

India’s first amputee distance runner or blade runner as he is more popularly referred to, Singh has participated in 18 marathons since he first started running in 2009 with a prosthetic leg. It wasn’t easy. There were times when he would bleed profusely but that didn’t deter his spirit. His running got better when he got his first artificial blades in 2011 courtesy the Indian Army’s Artificial Limb Centre. “My mantra has been ‘never quit’. It is what first drove me to run despite all odds, and even today, I motivate other people, including those with disabilities to have a never-give-up attitude,” says Singh, who ran in the Delhi Half Marathon 2016. 
Despite the fact that he cannot hear properly and has as many as 50 bomb shrapnels embedded in his body – he calls it a gift from the enemy – Singh is upbeat about life. His aim is motivate others in all spheres of life

New initiative in city
“If a physically disabled person can be socially responsible, then why not others?” questions Singh who announced the event – Swachh Ability Run 2016. Held on November 27, the run was open to amateur and professional runners. Organised as part of a seven-city event, there were two runs – 3 km and 10 km. “The main aim is to promote cleanliness and to show people that keeping a city clean is a joint effort,” informed Singh. “But whatever run you chose to be a part of, you have to finish it. Don’t leave it halfway. You should be concerned about completing the target with sheer resolution,” was the blade runner’s advice.

 


Photo By: Life in Chandigarh

 

One for all
To motivate fellow amputees and to steer a community of disabled people like himself, Singh formed a group in 2011 called ‘The Challenging Ones’. “We have a large number of members and we also participate collectively in marathons,” says Singh who also gives lessons in blade running.

Did you know?
German sportswear brand Adidas has a unique footwear initiative called ‘Odds’, which is a pair of shoes for the same foot — catering to the needs of the para-athletes. Incidentally, the ad campaign for the shoe in India is spearheaded by Major D P Singh while veteran actor Kabir Bedi has lent his voice for the same. The ad film captures Singh’s life, his passion for running and becoming the first Indian to run a marathon with an artificial limb. Singh believes that losing a part of the body does not lead to disability. Losing the will to fight out odds does. “Celebrate the odds and be the winner. If you wish to give up anything, give up giving up. That’s the message I wish to give everyone. And that’s the reason I run every day.”

Chandigarh Beopar Mandal on eBay

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Chandigarh's Beopar Mandal goes online via eBay

Facing one onslaught after the other—first from online shopping giants such as Amazon and Snapdeal, and a cash crunch following demonetisation—the traders of the city decided to swim with the tide instead of against it.

 


Photo By: TS Bedi

 

They decided to bite the bullet by joining hands with one of the online shopping portals that not so long ago they considered their avowed adversaries. They have signed a partnership deal with worldwide shopping giant eBay, under which a dedicated page has been created on the eBay site ebay.in for the Chandigarh Beopar Mandal (CBM) to give their business exposure to eBay’s 164 million buyers worldwide.

Announcing the partnership, CBM president Anil Vohra, its chairman Chiranjiv Singh, and eBay’s director retail exports Navin Mistry said some 30,000 traders from Chandigarh stand to benefit. “We were in talks with eBay for 7-to-8 months and finally we got the best deal,” they revealed. While eBay’s Mistry refused to divulge details of the deal, Vohra did say that the commission eBay would charge them would be less than their normal cut. Vohra and Chiranjiv said: “Exchange will be much more convenient because the sellers are local.” Mistry said: “We will equip the sellers with the skill-sets for online business.

The Lunch Box Woes

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As children raise their noses to anything green and parents walk the tight rope between healthy and junk food, we address the never-ending dilemma – what to pack in the daily tiffin?

So, your child brought back the lunch box as it is. The, “very healthy” sabzi–stuffed sandwich, a healthy fusion according to you, did little to excite your child’s palate. The saga of the tiffin is not new. This dilemma becomes a parent’s (mothers in most cases) constant companion the moment one’s child starts going to school.

 


Photo By: Life in Chandigarh

 

You can toss up some healthy yet tasty treats – think aloo patties, vegetable paranthas, cucumber sandwiches and the likes but barring a few days (perhaps the day there’s a sports class in school when the tiffin is gobbled up), the lunch box returns empty. The children constantly rue that their tiffin is the most unexciting and all because of you. They will want stir-fry noodles, cheese-filled sandwiches and pizzas, plump burgers and creamy pastas and you will turn up your nose to all of this.

What do children have to say?
We dropped in at Chitkara International School in Sector 25, Chandigarh during the school’s tiffin time. It was an assortment of dishes that we saw. When asked about their likes and dislikes for their daily lunch box, Jaskaran Singh, a student of class five said: “I don’t like eating gobhi and baingan in my tiffin.” And while that’s easy to relate to – who would like a soggy sabzi like baingan for tiffin time in school – he says he makes sure he finishes everything in his tiffin even if his mother packs in the dreaded ‘karele ki sabzi’. We think the hunger pangs have a role to play here. Elsewhere in the school, Kavya, a student of nursery shares, “I like paneer and bhindi and nothing else,” she says with a twinkle in her eyes. Disha Sharma, another student of class five admits that while she loves rajma-chawal and rues why she can’t get it every day, there are things which she just doesn’t like at all. “I detest shimla mirch but I have agreed to eat it if my mom gives packs more of aloo and less of the green vegetable,” says Disha.

It could be any school, any class, any day. Sabzi-roti combo meals are frowned upon; stuffed paranthas are “okay” once in a while and so are rice-based meals. But it would be “awesome” to get pizzas and burgers every day, say the kids.

Parents’ take
With kids only wanting junk food and mothers in no mood to surrender, the tiffin war continues in every household every morning. The parantha stuffed with gobhi, suggested by mummy, might win once in a while but on other days, as most mothers point out, the demand from children is for yummier, cheesier and saucier meals (read pizza and pasta). A mother’s culinary skills are put to test if she wants to take the middle route, i.e. a blend of healthy and junk food. Seema Gupta, a resident of Sector 38 B and parent to a girl studying in LKG, who likes to see pasta and Maggi in her tiffin every day, has found a way to deal with this problem. “I alternate between giving her mixed vegetable parantha and pao bhaji so that she gets the required nutrition,” admits Gupta.

A cross section of parents that Life in Chandigarh spoke to told us that schools can help in a big way. “In my daughter’s school, they have a meal plan for the kids. It makes it very easy for me because it’s less confusing and, gives us a chance to do variations. For the paneer day, it can be shahi paneer one day and paneer parantha the next week,” said Karuna Sharma, a mother of two daughters whose elder daughter studies in Carmel Convent School, Sector 9.

 


Photo By: Life in Chandigarh

 

School’s can take charge
According to Jagjit Kaur Sekhon, Principal, Ajit Karam Singh International Public School (AKSIPS), Sector 41 said, “We have a menu for every day of the week for the pre-primary classes. For other classes, we keep sending circulars home; teachers take a round to see what the kids are eating, and if the child is not bringing healthy food, we send a note to the parents regarding that.” 

An advisory on tiffin contents is something that children can learn to adjust to and schools should encourage sticking to pre-set balanced meal plan. As Neha Aggarwal, a resident of Sector 16 and mother to an eight-year-old boy points out, “Planning for the tiffin is a constant struggle. My son is forever complaining that his classmates get chips, burgers almost every day and he wants to do the same. If schools make rules that disallow junk every day, it will be easier for parents too.”

Incidentally, earlier this year, the Chandigarh Administration had issued an advisory to various private and government schools of Chandigarh for complete ban on the sale of junk food in school canteens. According to the advisory, no such food item should be sold in the school canteens which contain high fat, sugar and salt.

 


Photo By: Life in Chandigarh
 

 

Nutrition mantra
So the war between nutrition and taste is always on admits Rakhee Vaswani, celebrity chef and culinary expert, who was in Chandigarh to conduct a workshop to help mothers with healthier tiffin options. A mother herself, she feels that one has to move away from the monotony and start experimenting. “Change is the constant factor. You have to keep changing, you have to keep upgrading,” she said adding, “Children should not be forced as they then become rebellious. If you want to incorporate an ingredient in his diet, you should use a different approach. Inculcating healthy eating habits at an early age is important.” And in her view, the child should not be kept away from what he fancies eating. “If your child likes fancy food, give him fancy food. Everything that you cook at home can be healthy, only if you prepare it in a healthy manner and if you use healthy ingredients. So a little bit of cheating is allowed. So you can prepare different meals, even Thai and Continental at home which automatically become healthy because you are using fresh ingredients,” said Vaswani.

Chef Richa Johri from Whistling Duck, Sector 26, supports the idea of a cheat day when it comes to making children eat healthy. “Children go by looks and taste is all that matters. Wrapping it in a foil or a good packing makes it even more attractive,” advises the chef. She further dishes out tricks: “Use recipes where they can’t make out the components. Any dish that looks wonderful and has an amazing texture works well for kids. For example, one can make a pizza with roti and tomato gravy at home. The only difference is, it’s cooked in an oven instead of the traditional tawa,” says Johri adding curry noodles and glass noodles salad work well too.

Against All Odds

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These brave hearts have not let disability come in the way of their dreams

The only disability in life is a bad attitude – a quote by Scott Hamilton puts across the guiding message that physical or mental disabilities can pose no hurdles where passion, commitment, hard work and zeal are the strengths employed to excel in life and achieve the envisaged goals.

 


Photo By: Life in Chandigarh

 

Even as the country as a whole, including state and central government establishments, schools, colleges celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3 as a compulsory ritual, there are other brave hearts, who utilize this day to accomplish their chartered mission, by putting in their best.

“Hope keeps you moving and it’s good to motivate and inspire others,” says Aditya Mehta, a tricenarian, who lost his leg in an accident, a decade ago, chose to fight it out through sheer grit and dogged determination.

An intrepid Mehta became the first accomplished Indian paracyclist to bag two silver medals at the para-Asian Cycling Championships held in 2013. And then there was no looking back for him.

 


Photo By: Life in Chandigarh

 

Panchkula-based Tejaswini Sharma is another such inspiration, who has made a mark in the realm of singing. With IQ level 25, Tejaswini is stilldependent on her parents but holds to her credit the prestigious President Award for a string of her scintillating performances, the Indira Gandhi Award, a certificate and diploma awarded to her by Pracheen Kala Kendra, Chandigarh, besides numerous awards and accolades in her kitty. Her mother, Harsh Sharma says, “She was not able to speak till the age of seven. She cannot write, count or even speak a word, but she is blessed with an amazing voice and we believe singing is God’s gift to her.” Surprisingly, the girl who cannot speak, can recite more than 1000 bhajans and songs in more than five different languages. She can easily sing for hours at a stretch. What’s more, Tejaswini has been a part in several musical shows on television and has successfully qualified to the top levels.

 


Photo By: Life in Chandigarh

 

Veer Singh Sandhu, wheelchair cricket team captain from Chandigarh is also among those whose determination and perseverance has outgrown his physical disabilities. Singh says, “I have been passionate about sports since the beginning. I never let my disability come in the way of fulfilling my cherished dreams. After introducing wheelchair cricket to Chandigarh I was confident and I knew we had the ability to move mountains if we have the zeal to achieve our goals in life.”

The Mohali Paraplegic Rehabilitation Centre (PRC), Mohali, Punjab is one place that works for the rehabilitation of soldiers and make them self-reliant. PRC caters to 100 per cent disabled soldiers (paraplegic and tetraplegic) hailing from northern, central and eastern regions of the country. PRC works for the empowerment of the inmates and gives them vocational training in different courses to make them self-supporting citizens and regain their lost pride. Wheelchair basketball is one of the major practices of PRC which helps the soldiers to enjoy the time and also to stay fit.