JK Rowling’s Beedle the Bard sold for Rs 3.15 crore

One of the seven copies of the book, written by JK Rowling for the most prominent people responsible for bringing Harry Potter in this world, was sold for £368,750 ($467,000, 439,700 euros, Rs 3.15 crore).

This copy of ‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard was bought by an unnamed telephone bidder at the auction house Sotheby’s in London on Tuesday. It was gifted to her publisher, Barry Cunningham, who had published her first book- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Cunningham decided to sell it off with Rowling’s blessings, almost 20 years after the first Harry Potter book that was published. Mr Cunningham, a publishing house owner currently, said he would be sad to part with the edition, but he hoped to use the gift to benefit his children as well as Rowling’s charity Lumos.

It was sold along with the envelope in which the copy was enfolded.Mr. Cunningham’s copy had a cover made with brown Moroccan leather with silver stones in all the corners and also a silver mounted skull in between.

It had a note written by Rowling saying “To Barry, the man who thought an overlong novel about a boy wizard in glasses might just sell … THANK YOU.”

In the last movie of the Harry Potter series, this book was left by Dumbledore for Hermione to help them defeat “You-Know-Who”.

SOURCES: The Guardian, The Telegraph

Image Source: ENews

‘Growing Pains’ actor Alan Thicke passes away

Alan Thicke, a Canadian actor and beloved TV dad on sitcom ‘Growing Pains’ and off-screen father of R&B singer Robin Thicke breathed his last on December 13. He was 69. His death was confirmed by his singer cum actress ex-wife, Gloria Loring through a statement on Facebook.

According to Reuters, he was said to have suffered a cardiac arrest. Robin Thicke, his Grammy-nominated singer son told The LA Times that his father was playing hockey with his 19-year old son, Carter Thicke when he had an attack.  He was rushed to the Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, California where he breathed his last. “I saw him a few days ago and told him how much I loved and respected him,” Thicke told the newspaper, adding that his father was an inspiration for his own musical career.

Born in Ontario, Canada in 1947, Thicke began his career with Canadian theatre and television before venturing into Hollywood. He hosted several talk-shows and penned songs during the course of his career. He went on to host the Very Merry Christmas Parade in The Walt Disney World and popular American late-night-talk-show, ‘Thicke of the Night’ before bagging the iconic role of Jason Seaver, a psychiatric father on the popular sitcom, Growing Pains. His other works included Alpha dog, How I Met Your Mother, Fuller House etc.

He received his first Emmy nomination for The Barry Manilow Special in 1977. He is survived by his wife Tanya and sons carter, Robin and Brennan.

SOURCE:  CNN

Image Source: ETOnline

Priyanka Chopra elevated to Global UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador

At UNICEF’s 70th Anniversary event at the United Nations headquarters, Priyanka Chopra was appointed as the newest global Goodwill Ambassador.

UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said, “Priyanka Chopra is already a champion for India’s children and as a UNICEF global Goodwill Ambassador, she will be a force for children and adolescents everywhere.”

Announcing the appointment was footballer David Beckham and actress Millie Bobby Brown who welcomed Priyanka on stage at the star-studded event commemorating UNICEF’s seventy years as a child agency.

Priyanka’s involvement with UNICEF goes a decade back when she first became associated with the organization and visited many centers and villages across India. Due to her efforts in promoting child rights, she was appointed in 2010 as the National Ambassador for UNICEF.

Priyanka broke the news on her social media Twitter and Instagram. She has joined the likes of other global goodwill ambassadors such as David Beckham, Jackie Chan, Ishmael Beah and Orlando Bloom to promote UNICEF’s latest initiative #foreverychild.

The celebration, led by next generation of celebrities was a demonstration of the effect of UNICEF’s work done over a period of seven decades to protect rights of all the vulnerable children of the world.

Speaking on stage about her new role as a global ambassador Priyanka said, “Let’s choose humanity, let’s choose to act now, let’s choose to fight now and let’s choose to ensure a better world for our children, their children and the generations to come.”

SOURCES : ET , Huffington Post

Image Source : Twitter

Apache High Street: Sports and Food

Being a sports enthusiast with a large amount of interest in derby matches in the Premier League, Apache High Street was the obvious choice to watch the first Manchester Derby of the year, thanks to its immense popularity by sports enthusiasts in Pune. The projector screen in Apache is said to be the biggest for an in house display of sports and this combined with its food delights was enough for us to make our way to Apache High Street in the evening. Right from the parking to the entrance, the restaurant-cum- pub is evidently well planned as the space is utilised properly and is split into a car and bike parking as well as a direct entrance to the restaurant from the lower lobby. The loud mostly European music greets you as you step into the outside seating and once registered at the booking deck, you are immediately seated. The place was relatively crowded by the time we reached owing to the match that was about to begin in 30 minutes. As the inner restaurant was full, we seated ourselves in the outer seating, which was beautifully arranged using basic simple white and black coloured tables and chairs. In order to provide a better ambience, they had placed candle lights as well. After going through the menu, we ordered for a BIRA beer and a starter called Chicken Cheese Teriyaki. Our order arrived in approximately 10 minutes, which was quite impressive and the garnishing was wonderful to look at. As the recipe used in the starter was a continental twist to the original, the taste was a mix of both European as well as an Indian continental which was a treat to the tongue. Following this, we went to the main course and ordered Thai Red Curry with rice and a Pasta Arabiata, both prepared exclusively with an in-house recipe. Though the order took over 30 minutes to arrive, the quality of the food was sufficient enough to let us forget it. The Thai dish was on point and tasted exquisite with small chicken pieces laced with the red sauce. The extra sauce made it spicy and gave what I thought was an Indian touch. The Pasta, however, was not the best I’ve had. It seemed under-cooked and was relatively not warm enough to be fresh. On asked, the waiter however told that it was freshly cooked. Except for this minor setback, Apache High Street was the perfect place for sports enthusiasts like myself to relax on an evening and enjoy a football match in a very well put ambience with great continental food.

Rating: 3.5/5

Agent of the Absurd- Edward Albee, breathes his last

American Theatre lost it’s boldest icon, Edward Albee on September 16, 2016 at the age of 88 following a short illness. Jacob Holder, his longtime personal assistant confirmed the news of his peaceful demise at his Long Island home in Montauk, New York.

In a note,which presumably was written a few years in anticipation of the nearing death before undergoing an extensive surgery, Albee said, “To all of you who have made my being alive so wonderful, so exciting and so full, my thanks and all my love.” It was released by Holder along with the statement that confirmed his death.

Famed for his scabrously caustic yet piercingly funny dramas, he explored themes of escapism, self-delusion, death, uncertainty and complexities of intimate relationships and the desperation to break-free from the facade of modern life, through theatre. A Pulitzer prize winning playwright, he has authored more than 25 plays including, The Zoo Story (1958), The Sandbox (1959) and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1962) , which was later adapted into a critically acclaimed film.

Albee’s five decades of illustrious career, introduced the world to the taste of raw, uncompromising and sometimes even brazen honesty portrayed in the space of theatre. His first play in 1958, The Zoo Story is an example of his razor-sharp wit which jolted the audience out of the slumber of hypocrisy and civil pretence, exposing the realities of an urban American– the social disparity, alienation and dehumanization amid a commercial world.

It was followed by the phenomenal success of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? , which concretized his position as one of America’s greatest playwrights and he began to be compared with theatre stalwarts like Arthus Miller, August Wilson and Tennessee Williams. A portraiture of a volatile marriage of middle-aged couple , it painted the intricacies that lie beyond the fabric of the institution of marriage, in an urban landscape. Later in 1966 it was adapted into a black-comedy film, directed by Mike Nicholas and starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, which eventually was nominated for Academy Awards,with Taylor winning the best actress award. Virginia Woolf  won Albee much acclaim, which included a Tony in 1963 for best play. It was even nominated for Pulitzer Prize that year,however, the board eventually rejected it. But, his Pulitzer journey was yet to begin.

Throughout his tumultuous commercial career, Albee garnered critical appreciation and three Pulitzer Prizes for best drama. A Delicate Balance (1967)  was the one to begin with, which later went out to be adapted into a film starring Paul Scofield and Katharine Hepburn. The second Pulitzer came in 1975 for Seascape and it was followed by Three Tall Women(1994), which won him the third Pulitzer. Later in 2005 he was honoured with the special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement.

He was “the American agent of the Absurd,  our homegrown equivalent of (Samuel) Beckett.” as Mel Gussow, New York times critic would remember him. With an intense, unpolished honesty his plays plundered his past, to produce works that were often autobiographical in nature.

In his 2007 letter to the audience, Me, Myself and I, Edward confessed his quandary with the idea of untangling his plays to the people who asked ‘what it was about’. His plays according to him, in addition to being complex, were mostly ‘opaque’, which allowed a window of interpretation to the audience.

Albee through his work, taught the world to see, beyond their baggages. His mantra to understand not just his plays, but theatre in general was, “Pretend you’re at the first play you’ve ever seen…Have that experience — and I think ‘what the play is about’ will reveal itself quite readily”.

What is killing people in India?

Apart from the preventable diseases that you might want your kids to get vaccinated against, here is alist of five deadly, if not fatal (all the time) diseases that are eating the society up. And what’s worse, you won’t even know that they are feeding on you, since today.

1. Heart disease and stroke: As ubiquitous as it may sound, it actually is the cause of 31 per cent deaths globally every year. Heart disease clubbed with stroke (referred to as cardiovascular diseases) claims one in every four lives in India. Premature heart attacks happen due to less physical exercise, changing diets, obesity, and usage of tobacco products. According to a report by the World Health Organisation, 80 per cent of these cardiovascular diseases can be prevented by controlling risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, weight and high blood sugar (diabetes).

2. Respiratory Diseases: Approximately 8 per cent deaths are caused in India due to respiratory diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, pulmonary hypertension, intestinal lung diseases, and occupational lung diseases. This is caused by smoking tobacco, air pollution, dust, and occupational chemicals. These block the air passages and cause shortness of breath, and if not treated; a prolonged exposure to these irritants can lead to fatal illness. Lung diseases are not reversible with lung transplantation being the only option, but are avoidable by minimising exposure to smoke, dust and chemicals.

3. Cancer: 7,36,000 people have lost their life to cancer only in the year 2016, and this figure surfaces when only a meagre 12.5 per cent people get diagnosed and choosing to get treated. More people are dying of cancer in India as compared to the previous years. While breast cancer takes a major toll on women across the nation, lung cancer kills most men across the globe. Lung cancer is the eighth deadliest cancer. The treatment of cancer is exorbitantly high and cannot be afforded by 60 per cent of the patients. Also, as per statistics, one third of cancer deaths are due to the five behavioural and dietary risks that are common to all lifestyle-related diseases: overweight, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, alcohol use.

4. Perinatal Conditions: More babies die in the womb, at birth or in the first week of life in India than anywhere else in the world. Prematurity and low birth-weight, neonatal infections such as septicaemia, birth asphyxia and birth trauma are the leading causes of perinatal deaths, defined as deaths between 22 completed weeks (154 days) of gestation and seven days after birth, kill 27.7 per 1,000 live births in India compared to the world’s average of 19.2 deaths per 1,000 live births. Monitoring the mother and child’s nutrition and health through all the stages of pregnancy and ensuring the baby is delivered by trained health-workers at a clinic or hospital can help manage complications and bring down perinatal deaths substantially.

5. Type 2 diabetes: Lifestyle choices like lack of exercise, unhealthy meal planning and obesity cause insulin resistance in the body that leads to Type 2 diabetes. The body produces enough insulin to transport the glucose to the cells but unfortunately, the body resists that insulin. This leads to haggardness and fatigue among other symptoms.

The magical world of Roald Dahl

Looking back at my childhood days, I realize what an important role British novelist Roald Dahl played in it. He transformed, what would have otherwise been a mundane existence, into something magical. As the world celebrates the late author’s 100th birth anniversary, let us reflect upon Dahl, the raconteur and man.

Born in 1916 to Norwegian parents in Llandaff, Cardiff, Wales, Dahl was raised by a single mother since age three, following his father’s untimely death. This was only weeks after Dahl’s then seven-year-old sister Astri had died due to a burst appendix. Having witnessed death at such close proximity, that too at a tender age, Dahl’s literature frequently features children who are orphaned, lonely or troubled.

After a successful stint with the Royal Air Force during World War II, Dahl returned to a full-time career in writing, churning out children’s short stories, novellas, poems, and even adult literature.

Like many writers, much of Dahl’s literature draws on real life experience. As his granddaughter Sophie recalls in a tribute to her grandfather in The Guardian, Dahl grew up at a time when chocolate was hard to come by. Instead, as a boy, he saw around him shops filled with hard-boiled sweets, gobstoppers, lemon sherbets, bootlaces and candy. These “scrumdiddlyumptious” treats are almost an inseparable part of Dahl’s children’s tales. Further, Dahl’s unpleasant experience at Repton School, Derbyshire (which he attended from 1929) find place in stories like Matilda (1988), featuring cruel administrators like Ms. Trunchbull. The draconian principal of Matilda’s eponymous heroine’s school, Ms. Trunchbull has almost become synonymous with cruelty.

Dahl was not just any wordsmith; he was an inventor – a magician who could whip up words that bordered on alliteration, portmanteaus, anagrams, onomatopoeia, and other literary devices. On his centennial birth anniversary, the Oxford University Press has compiled a book of words invented by Dahl. Dr. Susan Rennie, professor, University of Glasgow, has curated a glossary of Dahl’s words, called The Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary. Dahl’s words transcended the boundaries of language, which probably explains the writer’s enormous appeal to children and adults alike. Words like “bundongle” (something that only contains air), or “fizzwiggler” (a cruel, loathsome person) are highly evocative, and often serve to describe people, their situations and surroundings far better than the words they are derived from. Needless to say, these words also add to the dark humour, which Dahl was known for.

Despite the diverse nature of his stories and characters, nearly all of Dahl’s literary figures are bound by a common trait: being courageous, and creatively so, in the face of adversity. Be it James Henry Trotter from James and the Giant Peach (1961) or Sophie from The BFG (1982)or even Danny, the eponymous hero of Danny, the Champion of the World (1975), all these characters show remarkable courage through hardship, and emerge victorious in the end. Dahl’s ability to celebrate, and never underplay the human condition, won him love and appreciation the world over. Dahl always sided with children, who were oppressed by villainous adults. But these tales, which are peppered with the adversities that Dahl himself faced during his lifetime, are never told without a generous dose of satire.

The raconteur also wrote volumes of limericks and nonsense rhymes. Many of these compilations, like Revolting Rhymes (1982), feature a bond between animals and children. Dahl was a great lover of nature, and as recalled by his granddaughter Sophie, he spent several hours pottering about his garden.

While Dahl is best remembered for his children’s stories, he also wrote many a compelling read for adults. Some of his noted adult works include the collections Kiss Kiss (1960) and Switch Bitch (1974), and the novel My Uncle Oswald (1979).

Many of Dahl’s tales have also been adapted for the screen, the most recent one being Steven Spielberg’s 2016 film The BFG.

 Among the many honours that Dahl received during his lifetime are the 1983 World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, and the British Book Awards’ Children’s Author of the Year in 1990. In 2002, the Oval Basin plaza, a modern landmark in Cardiff Bay, was renamed “Roald Dahl Plass”. “Plass” means “place” or “square” in Norwegian, and is a reference to the writer’s roots. This year, the writer’s birthplace Llandaff, will be celebrating his centennial year, through a series of events titled Roald Dahl 100.

 For more on the writer’s life, watch a 1990’s interview with Roald Dahl.