When Drums Welcomed Ganesha

Photo Courtesy: puneganeshfestival.com
Photo Courtesy: puneganeshfestival.com

Pune, the cultural hub of Maharashtra, welcomed Lord Ganesha in the city with great joy and pomp. The rhythmic sound of dhols and tashas during procession made the atmosphere divine. These instruments are a form of offering service to the lord by devotees and a means of sharing their delight both on the onset and closure of the festival.

Earlier, a dhol was a means to gather people for makingpublic announcements. Today, Dhol Tasha symbolise the cultural heritage of Pune. The sound of dhols enthrals the public.

There are many dhol tasha pathaks in Pune who, every year, put up a grand show for not only Punekars, but for tourists who come to witness this grand festival.Every year they experiment with different music and formats. Various competitions are also organised between different dhol pathaks.

The president of Shivdigvijay pathak, Narendra Suryavanshi said, “Our dhols will tune to a special taal called Mrutrunjay Taal, exhibiting a Sanskrit poem on Sambhaji Raje. The Hind Dhwaj flag demonstrates the exclusiveness of our pathak, which will be enthroned on Rajgad fort, post which we will be play our tunes.”

Satyajit Shinde, co-ordinator of Naad Bramha pathak, said, “We have introduced many Hindi tunes like Dhinka chika, Dabang songs etc.to entertain the public”.

Shivmudra, an experienced pathak, are using historical tunes this year. Shiv Stuti, a tunenarrating the Shivaji Maharaj era, will be played. Due to their historic show, they have received invites from popular and historicGanpatimandals like Kesariwada Ganpati, Tambadi Jogeshwari Ganpati, Zilbya Maruti Ganpati and Vishram Bagh wada Ganpati.

An interesting trend this year has been the increase in the number of women participants in dhol pathaks. KanchanKedar said, “It is great fun to play dhol for Ganpati bappa”.

Thus, the Punekar’s can witness a rhythmic dhol tasha music with a touch of both soulfulkirtans and Bollywood numbers.

A vegan’s experience of transcendence: Sukanta

 

food foof

 

A cup of tea, rather a bowl of Rabri with the royals?… You are at the right place. Sukanta restaurant, which lies at the heart of the Deccan Gymkhana, a 11 km ride from Senapati Bapat Road, shall definitely fit your bill. Literally!

The wall murals and ambience gives you the feeling of being in little Rajasthan and so does the food. Priced at Rs. 260, the thali served is a fusion of Gujarati and Rajasthani cuisine. It comprises of a variety of dishes that stand out for their authenticity and thus, joy to the typical vegetarian.

The thali also comprises of the Jawari rotla and the chawali usal that stand tall for their simplicity among the luxurious Malpoha and Rabri. I was left with a confused heart for I could find no beginning or end to the meal.

The bold spices in the Paneer Lavabdar with soft and juicy paneer made the dish a signature for the restaurant. The Dahi papdi chaat made me gorge into the streets of Maharashtra in the pleasantly lit, air-conditioned ambience of the restaurant.

Dices of Sangham Dhokla generously sprinkled with perfectly roasted mustard and shredded coconut was a treat to the eyes and my taste buds. The raising agents in the Dhokla had been  blended with the dough to get the right crumble when bit into.

I felt like I was opening a gift when I dipped into the Rabri bowl. My first spoon of Rabri was a memory that shall remain untouched. Meadow fresh cow’s milk cooled along with saffron and crystal sugar and voila! My eyes widened when I found chocolate chips buoying on the glamorous mixture.

As I noshed down my first bowl of surprise, the rabri man waited for me to slide it down my tummy. My bowl was brimming like my face again and this time, I gourmandized the chocolate rabri.

Steaming Khichdi with a dollop of ghee was served while I gorged on the rest.

In spite of a few constraints like parking area and proximity to the location, dining in there was a delightful experience, especially when you are away from home.

Mumbai’s pride Marine drive completes a century.

 

Talk about sea breeze and some more freedom, the only thing that comes to the mind of a Mumbaikar will be ‘Marine Drive’. Some of us might have seen this structure in movies. The iconic landmark completed a century on Friday. Also known as the ‘Queen’s necklace’ because it looks like one when it gets lit up at night, this place is Mumbai’s pride. As the iconic curve completes 100 years, it is the celebration of a memory that Marine Drive has given to every person who visits this beautiful place.

A day at Marine Drive would be something like this. The morning starts with people who go for morning walks and yoga. In the afternoon, college kids bunk their lectures and make the promenade their ‘adda’. The evenings are for too-much-in-love couples, who sit by and watch the sunset together. It also serves as a livelihood for hawkers who sell tea and chanas. Monsoon is the best time for strolls as the water from the sea makes big splashes. At night, it sparkles like a queen’s necklace, shining bright like a diamond in Mumbai’s armour.

To mark this memorable occasion, the Marine Drive Residents Association (MDRA) succeeded in getting the General Post Office to come out with a postcard which was released at an event on Friday evening. A stone post near Chowpatty announces Marine Drive’s birthday with the simple inscription: “Kennedy Sea-Face commenced 18th December, 1915. Completed 1920”. Marine Drive has recently been nominated for a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its stunning structures from the 19th and the 20th Century art deco style buildings.

Many big industrial tycoons and celebrities were seen walking along Marine Drive before they acquired their status and shifted to swanky cars. The legend Amitabh Bachchan, who hoped to make it big in Bollywood, settled for spending a night on the Marine Drive wall in his struggling days. The Marine Drive has witnessed heart breaks too; the stunning actress Suraiya reportedly threw a ring presented to her by Dev Anand into the Sea from the Marine Drive after their real life love-saga ended decades ago. Vinod Kambli loves to share his memory of the Marine Drive as he talks about how he used to hit sixes straight into the Arabia Sea while batting at Hindu Gymkhana. A braveheart, police constable Tukaram Ombale helped nab alive a Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab, even as other bloodthirsty terrorists created mayhem at the other end, the Hotel Trident Oberoi. The Marine Drive has seen it all.

Marine Drive stands firm in all its glory, telling stories from the past and linking them to the future. You cannot just visit this place once, because it keeps calling you back to make yet another memory and cherish yet another moment.

Sources : Business Standard image source

The iconic structure, Marine Drive at Mumbai
The iconic structure, Marine Drive at Mumbai

Kejriwal touches new levels of Twitter war

CBI raids on the Delhi Chief Minister’s office linked to his principal secretary, Rajendra Kumar has led to an ugly political low. The raids on Tuesday have further worsened government-opposition ties especially at a delicate turn where the GST Bill negotiations are still on the loop. The events took a nasty turn when the blame game began and Kejriwal took PM Narendra Modi in the coil and called him a “coward” and “psychopath” in one of his twitter remarks.

BJP officials have strongly denied the whole event to be a political vendetta. Kejriwal stepped up his attack when he targeted Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, accussing him of ‘unholy’ involvement in the Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA) which Jaitley once headed.

The climate warmed up through social media when Kejriwal wrote a series of tweets on Wednesday morning.

All guns came blazing in when Kejriwal branded PM Modi of using probe agency CBI to “intimidate” him and his government. In a heated political scenario, the counterpart BJP accused Kejriwal of suffering from “Modi-Phobia” and plain hypocrisy.

“When Modi couldn’t handle me politically, he resorts to his cowardice,” tweeted Kejriwal. Arun Jaitley in a tweet remarks his comments to be “rubbish.” After all the political hullabaloo, the CBI registered a corruption case against principal secretary Kumar. The CBI charged him under allegations of misusing his official position in 2007-2014 to favour a corporate named Endeavour Systems. Also, the CBI has found foreign currency worth Rs. 3 lakh and hard cash worth Rs. 2.4 lakh at Kumar’s residence. The international company Endeavour Systems website entails various projects for Delhi government.

Image Sources: The Economic Times
Image Sources: The Economic Times

In the political battle, AAP leader Kejriwal was reminded of his party’s resolution that ironically, no government permission should be required to raid an officers house if guilty of corruption. Bureaucrat Rajesh Kumar was accused under a 2007 complaint. CBI official Devpreet Singh defers from the allegation of searching Kejriwal’s office and said that the party workers carry a different version of the story.

The developments indicate that the CBI may seek custodial interrogation of the prime accused IAS official Kumar as he is “not co-operating.” The case has been booked under Indian Penal Code Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and Section 13(2) (criminal misconduct) along with 13(1)(d) (abuse of official postion). CBI suspects that between 2007 to 2014 Kumar and Endeavour Systems have bagged contracts worth Rs. 9.5 crore. Moreover, the CBI team found 14 bottles of hard liquor- two bottles of Blue Label, three bottles of Black Label, five bottles of Chivas Regal, two bottles of Teacher’s and one bottle each of Glenfiddich and Black Dog. The CBI says that under the Delhi Excise Act, anyone cannot store liquor above 9 liters and what was recovered from Kumar’s house was not under permissible limits. Another 10.5 lakh were recovered from GK Nanda, who was co-accused with Kumar. The CBI also questioned R S Kaushik, Managing Director of Intelligent Communication Systems India Ltd on Wednesday. The political tug of war is becoming intricate with the hanging GST Bill in the house where both the ruling chair and the Opposition cannot see eye-to-eye.

 

Sources: The Indian ExpressThe Economic TimesFirst Post

Remembering ‘The Master’ of C minor

It was an unusually frosty Thursday sundown at the striking quarters of Theater an der Wien in Vienna when the hall saw eruptions of chords reverberate its walls, the icy winds drifting to the key of his symphony. It might have been tagged ‘inferior’ and ‘dragging’ over 200 years ago. But today, Ludwig Van Beethoven’s three moments of absolute passion in the fifth symphony still never fail to ignite the listener’s battle against the doomed fate. To what would be his 245th birthday, we look at the life of ‘The Master’ who broke the rationality of classical music into a genre of infinite promises.

Born in Bonn, one of Germany’s oldest cities, to a family of musicians, Beethoven’s father observed in him, a talent for the piano. As a young boy, he would enjoy indulging in the guilty pleasures of scratching his own notes, leaving behind the original score. Wanting his son to follow the prodigious paths of Mozart, Johann Van Beethoven pulled his ten year old out of school in the hopes of turning his talent into riches. Though that never happened, he ventured into music at the age of 12, working with notable German composer Christian Neefe as an organist. He then moved to Vienna in his early twenties, at which point of time, he chose to study the intricacies and performance of the art over delving into composition. It was later in the early 1800s when he became regarded prominent in the generation of Vienna’s young composers. Since then there was no looking back for the maestro. Nothing could stop him. Not even his deplorable loss of hearing.

Remembering Beethoven on his 245th birthday
Remembering Beethoven on his 245th birthday

“I would have ended my life – it was only my art that held me back. Ah, it seemed to me impossible to leave the world until I had brought forth all that I felt was within me,” he wrote in the Heiligenstadt Testament, a letter to his brothers. Around 1796, Beethoven began to lose his hearing due to a severe condition of Tinnitus that caused a “ringing” that deterred him from listening to music. Conversation books that saw his friends commenting and discussing on his music is how Beethoven battled deafness at the peak of his career.

Going on to successfully produce 9 symphonies, 5 piano concertos, 1 violin concerto, 32 piano sonatas, 16 string quartets and an opera, he gave up performing for the public in the last fifteen years of his life. Despite this, he never stopped writing music. With the most admired of his works coming from his last few years, his symphonies were treasured. He unraveled the genus of classical music which till date can never be forgotten.

Sources : The Wall Street Journal , The Telegraph

Federal Reserve Rate Hike: End of the zero-rate era

In its first rate hike since 2006, the Fed raised interest rates by 25 bps, ending the zero-rate era. Federal Reserve Chair, Janet Yellen’s move will be a major test for emerging markets. This hike was a widely anticipated move by the economies worldwide.

The Fed said that the hike in rates was due to “the economic outlook, and recognizing the time it takes for policy actions to affect future economic outcomes.”

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s move will be a major test for emerging markets. Image Source: Reuters
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s move will be a major test for emerging markets.
Image Source: Forbes

FOMC in its statement also spoke on how the committee expects that economic conditions will evolve in a manner that will warrant only gradual increases in the federal funds rate. They also mentioned the actual path of the federal funds rate will depend on the economic outlook.

The rate hike draws to a close an unprecedented period of record-low rates which were part of controversial and extraordinary policies designed by the Federal Reserve to stimulate the economy in U.S. crisis since the Great Depression. FOMC had lowered its benchmark rate to near zero in 2008 (December) after the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings and ten months before unemployment hit the country by reaching a peak of 10 per cent.

Despite concerns that the rate hike will bring in turmoil along with it, there are investors who are confident that this move shall be a moment of relief for emerging markets that have been seeing the rough road due to low commodity prices, rising debt, and slowing economies.

Carl Riccadonna, Chief US Economist for Bloomberg Intelligence said that countries with low inflation who are large exporters to the US will prove to be winners post this move. According to calculations by the Congressional Budget Office and Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, US government could pay more in interest over next 10 years if rates escalate.Companies with dollar-denominated bonds could go under pressure due to thetightening of Fed’s monetary policy which could strengthen the U.S. dollar further.

What happens in India?

Between May-August 2013, the rupee lost more than a quarter of its value, as bond and equity markets tanked.This week, it crossed 67 rupees to the dollar. Analysts expect the RBI to intervene to prop up the rupee. This is also likely to put pressure on the current account deficit. Meanwhile, strengthening of dollar could be a boon for India’s exports which fell for the ninth consecutive month in August.

Though the rupee was jumpy at 66.50 (intra-day), worries over the FOMC rate hike were brushed aside by the commodity markets when Sensex rose for the fourth straight session by gaining over 309 points, ending at a two-week high. NSE Nifty also reclaimed its 7,800 mark.

After the US interest rate hike, Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian said, “I think we are relatively well cushioned. Volatility in Indian markets should be quite minimal.”

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan and other policy-makers have been touting India as being more insulated to Fed-related volatility than other emerging markets due to its better economic fundamentals.Analysts say, India’s seven per cent growth rate may seem modest, but it’s enough to attract the interest of global investors.

Sources: First PostForbesThe HinduLiveMintMint

 

A Year Later: The Peshawar Attack

Marking the first anniversary of the Peshawar attack Pakistani youths hold candles in front of the banner showing pictures of students who lost their lives last year
Marking the first anniversary of the Peshawar attack Pakistani youths hold candles in front of the banner showing pictures of students who lost their lives

Image Source: TOI

It only takes a crash from the nearby building work to send the teenage survivors of one of Pakistan’s worst ever terrorist attacks diving for cover. Such was the impact of the deadly attack. A nightmare unfolded on this day, last year when nearly 150 people, 122 of them children, were mercilessly massacred in one of the most horrific terror attacks in Pakistan. Termed to be a “Black Day”, the terrorist attack on the Army Public School is considered to be the worst attack in the country’s history.

A special ceremony will be taking place today, to mark the first anniversary of the brutal attack. Strict security measures were taken in Peshawar as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Army Chief General Raheel Sharif and opposition leader, Imran Khan will attend a special ceremony at the Army Public School. Relatives holding pictures of their loved ones killed in a Taliban assault paraded in the city amidst tight security. Rallies and demonstrations were held in other parts of the country to pay tribute to the victims.

A year after the attack, voices rise in solidarity around the world. With the slogan #NeverForget, many are observing the anniversary of the attack in cities around the world, including London, Toronto and Washington DC. In Pakistan, cities including Peshawar, Lahore, Karachi, and Islamabad will memorialize this day.

Many say that Pakistan itself has changed after the attack. All schools build walls rapidly as an extra defence. Eight death-row prisoners were executed on Tuesday in Pakistan – a day before the anniversary of the massacre. Pakistan has always failed to curb domestic terrorism but most observers credit the attacks as having spurred the country into tackling domestic terrorism like never before. According to statistics of the police department in Peshawar, terrorist incidents have come down by 56 percent due to the actions launched after the APS attack. There has been a 52 percent improvement in the overall law and order situation. The military claims that more than 3400 terrorists have been killed since the launch of Operation Zarb-e-Azb in June 2014.

Anniversaries are sad occasions, they tend to increase the severity of a memory of loss and may even cause emotional breakdown. Even after a year, the deadly terror attack is still afresh in the memories of people who lost their dear ones, a memory that will stay with them forever.

Source: Times Of India