Changing designs at the workplace
It is customary to visualise an office coming in rows of cubicles, desks, grey shades and strict formal tones that evoke a sombre ambience. Bright colours and unconventional design features are almost non-existent in such a space, the design focusing purely on creating a space that is stiff, under the mistaken approach that productivity is highest when the ambience is most formal.
Yet, a look at the emerging, new office spaces shatters this myth, the designs and interiors reflecting anything but a stiff puritanical approach. Not only colours prevail conspicuously, the manner of design as well as the theme opted are far from conventional, offering spaces that are cheerful, energetic and uncommon.
Says Architect Gunjan Das of NG Associates, “The design approach to office spaces has witnessed a sea change with many offices choosing an informal ambience where the accent is on greenery and cheer, with plenty of natural light and ventilation that affords a spill of the outdoors into the interiors.”
Gunjan’s office reflects plenty of these, the spaces within opened up to have a visual connect with the outdoors while abundant greenery prevails in every section of the interiors, infusing a strong presence of the outdoors.
A stunning 20-ft. wall mural depicting the lush green tropical forest greets the visitor in the lobby courtyard, setting the tone for the rest of the interiors. While there is no dearth of natural light and ventilation, bright colours are prominent in their presence, exuding a warm homely aura that is a far cry from a stiff grey office decor.
The materials used too are totally natural and sustainable, keeping the environment sensitivities firmly in place. Recycled teak serves as the wood floor in the twin cabins while raw cement and brick floors cover the common and outdoor spaces. “We chose plantation rubber wood for cabinets and cement finish for walls to exclude the need for painting”, says Gunjan, stressing on the environment quotient.
Architect Anshul Chodha of Sanctuary Architects brings forth similar design sensitivities into the ambience of his office. Built on the terrace of an existing structure and surrounded by a large canopy of Gulmohar and coconut trees, the office building comes with a double height studio incorporating a mezzanine floor. The presence of a double height ceiling enables the existing trees to become part of the interiors, spilling inside to totally transform the character of the office space.
A multi-functional open-to-sky linear courtyard that serves as the meeting area as well as doubles up as a luncheon room, compounds this feeling of being outdoors while working in the office. “The evenings find this space once again populated, not to work but to unwind and indulge in informal discussions that prove many a time to be officially very productive”, says Chodha, commenting on the design.
As unconventional as the interior design elements, the structure too is equally different from a regular office space, the walls being exposed to permit experience of the materials in their raw form.
The construction is light weight, easy to dismantle, with Aerocon panels bolted into the metal framed structure. The first layer of the roof is formed by the Aerocon blocks where they form an arch with no intermediate structural supports, while knotted pine, sheet metal, and grey cement floors complement the white work surfaces in this unconventional design approach.
Free flowing space
It is not merely architects’ offices that are designed unconventionally. The Un-Office, designed by Praxis Inc. for a software company, reflects similar unconventional approach and design inclinations. The 4m high, 3000 sq. ft office is conceptualised as a free flowing interactive space sans the ubiquitous cubicles and cabins. Even the three individual cabins that have been incorporated feature moveable partitions so as to be slid aside when not in use, revealing an open expanse of interactive space in the entire office.
Designed to be totally collaborative with a strong accent on evoking the warmth of a home, the informal ambience brings in a twin living room concept that overlooks a space that is fashioned as a bar. “The idea was to provoke free thinking and exchange of ideas in an informal workspace”, says Architect Gopa Menon of Praxis Inc.
Handmade painted mosaic tiles segment the twin ‘living areas’ while a green wall, doubling up as an oxygen replenishing unit with the plant varieties of areca palm, money plant and mother-in-law’s tongue, serves as a demarcating element from the open work spaces. The three cubicles which are the lone private work and discussion centres, along with their moveable shutters, also fit in a closed phone booth to facilitate undisturbed interaction when required.
The office space is further lent an industrial feel by leaving the utilities exposed, where the white painted ducts and other utilities, besides reflecting light in the interiors, serve as a unique design element. The gain in volume achieved by leaving the utilities exposed, further add to the large expanse and open, collaborative design intent of the office space.
A meaty stuffing
Every now and then, I find myself standing in front of a small market in south Delhi, waiting, along with hordes of others, for my turn to get near a mound of samosas. So popular are these samosas that they sell out before you can say chutney.
Every time I bite into the hot and crispy casing of the popular Indian roadside dish, I marvel at the journey it undertook to reach our hearts in India.
Samosas, as food historians have told us, came from central Asia, though the stuffing there was usually one of meat. The name changed a bit by the time it reached India, as did the filling. Though in many parts of the country, keema-filled samosas are a real delicacy, in most places the filling consists of potatoes, or sometimes cauliflower florets.
I have friends who sneer when I say that the samosa — as Indian as, say, queue jumping — actually originated from Uzbekistan. Now I have found the way to make them eat crow — with the help of a book recently gifted to me
If you love your street food, and enjoy historical anecdotes, The World’s Best Street Food — Where to Find It & How To Make It is for you. It lists street food from across the world — such as walky-talky (South Africa), kushari (Egypt), hot dog (U.S.) otak-otak (Indonesia) and bhelpuri (India) — and gives you a bit of history about the origin of the dish, along with recipes, of course. Here’s what it says about the samosa, or samsa.
“The samsa (sometime somsa) originated in the ancient city states of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva, located in modern day Uzbekistan. It was a popular street snack among merchants and Silk Road travellers, who stocked up on the meat pie before a long journey. Abul-Fadl Bayhaqi (995-1077 AD), a Persian historian, mentioned the samsa in his Tarikh-e Mas’oudi (Masoudian history). Samsas eventually made their way to… India, where it evolved into the samosa.”
The book carries the recipe for China’s tea eggs, a dish that I hope to rustle up one day. For this, hard boil six eggs. Cool, and then tap on the shell, cracking it without peeling it. Place the eggs in a pot. Cover with 2 teabags or 2tbsps loose black tea, 1/4th cup dark soy sauce, 1-2 whole star anise and enough water to cover the eggs fully. Boil and then simmer in the uncovered pot for 90 minutes, adding water as needed.
“Your resulting tea eggs, when peeled, should have a nice marbled look with egg whites being tan with darker streaks of brown. The yolk should be dark yellow, with a greenish/ gray tinge,” it says.
The book makes you travel countries and continents, and tells you about the difficult times that led to the creation of certain dishes. Take bunny chow, a dish of curry stuffed in a hollowed out loaf of bread that originated in Durban. It points out that in the Apartheid era, immigrant Indian plantation workers in Durban were banned from entering eateries. This prompted them in the late 1940s to create bunny chow so that they could carry their meals into the fields with them.
“The labourers ate the loaf, starting from the top or the side to the mushy, spicy centre. It needed no plates, no cutlery. The loaf was the ideal takeaway,” historian Dilip Menon says.
How did it get the name? “It is believed that the name originated from the city’s banyan trees, under which the vendors used to sit and sell the portable bread-loaf curries in the shade,” says the book.
I like the story of Uganda’s rolex, too. It’s an egg-chapati roll, quite like the ones we get in India. The word rolex, the book says, comes from rolled eggs and the dish originated in the eastern city of Jinja, where a sizeable Indian community lived.
The next time I eat a roll, I shall raise a burpy toast to history.
Q&A on fitness
There is no correlation between weight-training and stunting. If weight-training were to cause it, then children carrying their school bags should have been impacted because of this! Growth is dependent on growth hormones and the parents’ genes (the blueprint, in a sense). Expect girls to reach maximum height by 16-17 years and boys by 19-20 years. An optimal amount of weight-training and other exercise, in fact, assists children to grow to their optimal height. Remember, weight-training is different from weight-lifting. The former is a method of using resistance to improve muscular strength, used by athletes. So body-weight exercises (such as a pushup or pullup) would qualify. Weight-lifting is about using load and is performed by sportspeople. You can start a child on weight-training at about 10 or 11 years and increase the duration gradually after 15 years. Usually, any child who plays some form of organised sport will be exposed to weight-training.
Can I gain muscle by doing only pushups?
A pushup is an optimal exercise for only upper-body development, for muscles around the chest, the deltoid (around the shoulder), pectorals major (chest), triceps (back-arm muscles). But it can’t be the only exercise performed. Everyone must also develop the core and lower-body strength, and these cannot be achieved through only the pushup.
Time for funny women
When you walk out after a comedy show, you tends to rave about the comic and his/her punchlines but also experience positive feelings. That’s good news for the popular female stand-up comic Aditi Mittal. She points out stand-up comics are passionate just for that one moment which creates a feel good emotion among the audience. She calls her show Global Village Idiot an opportunity to examine her roots. “One of the things we as a country are grappling with, is finding our place and our self-esteem and see where we stand in the world if we win. When you look deep into yourself, you end up finding a lot of universal things that make you realise that the more personal the stories, the more universal are what we have got out of it.”
Loads of possibilities
Aditi, who left her corporate job in New York and moved to India is amazed at the transformation in the stand-up comedy scene in her journey of seven years; it is a proof of the changing India with loads of possibilities. “Aaj kal kya kya chance mil rahe hain; mera bhi dimaag phat raha hai. The way stand-up comedy is today is a mere reflection of the transformation the country is undergoing. In such a dynamic India and world, where do I stand; how much respect do I give myself on the global scale….I have just tried to explore all those questions.”
Now is the best time to hear women tell their stories. “We have heard men narrating a lot of stories, which is why we accept the diversity of their stories. But when it comes to women telling stories, I think, to a large extent, we still try to sanitise, make it pretty and try to make it consumable so that we are not looked at disapprovingly,” she points out.
Adti remembers her debut on stage. “My jokes were on the point that when there is a fat guy, everyone says, ‘He is a teddy bear’ or that he has a heart of gold. But there are no such euphemisms for fat girls; there is no female comparison for a healthy girl. I went on stage for a bit more than two minutes, the longest two minutes of my life,” she recalls and adds, “I wanted more of whatever I got in these two-and-half minutes.” Now her shows are packed with her trademark acerbic comedy and parodies of people she’s met along the way.
She likes the uncertainty that goes with her line of work. “The struggle is always on and my favourite thing about the job is that there is no guarantee. It literally depends on that moment and those people. It is that one shared moment which brings everybody together; once it is gone it is gone. Not too many people will get to experience the same thing again. What I enjoy about stand-up is that it is very transient.”
She believes with her Netflix special Things They Woudn’t Let Me Say she hit the jackpot in life. “I get to do what I love doing and do it on a consistent basis. People often say they need to find themselves. I feel blessed that I am on the journey that everybody says they want to be on.”
The ubiquitous flavour of Udupi
Tea, the brew of change
Beautiful paraphernalia, a bouquet of flavours and exotic origins: tea is the kind of gift that can be tailor-made to demonstrate how well you understand your family, friends or colleagues. This is probably why it is fast becoming a popular gift. It doesn’t hurt that this beverage also traditionally denotes wellness and prosperity.
Ask diamond merchant-turned-tea sommelier, Jiten Sheth. He has friends and customers drop by often, and it’s not to “buy diamonds”. “Almost every call begins with a ‘Can I come by for a cup of tea?’” he laughs. Sheth’s love for tea over the years and his keenness to know more about various blends and techniques earned him a reputation among friends and clients (he himself prepares tea for his guests). So he took it upon himself to gift little tea hampers to those who loved sharing a cup of tea with him. “That was very satisfying,” he says, adding, “It felt like I was gifting them wellness; that’s a gift that can be cherished and shared for a long time.”
6 brilliant ways to reuse your expired make-up
Mascara generally expires in three to six months but trashing it is a big NO. You can use its spoolie to tame your unruly brows or fuzzy flyaways. And in case, you notice a grey hair popping out, your expired mascara is there for your rescue.
In fact, you can make your own DIY lip scrub using it. Just put some drops of natural oil on your mascara wand and gently scrub your lips with it. The result? Get ready to say hello to smooth, supple lips!
2. Eye Shadow
It’s wise to replace your eye shadow with new ones after a year. Wondering what to do with the old one? Mix its pigments with a clear nail polish, and flaunt your new customised nail paint.
3. Skin Toner
Most of the skin toners have high amounts of alcohol and once expired can be used to clean glass, mirror, and even your mobile screen.
4. Lip Balm
5. Face Oils
Face oils are expensive and if yours has just surpassed its shelf life. Fret not! Mix it with some sugar, and ta-da! Get ready to exfoliate your body with this homemade scrub.
Your favourite lippie can turn into a cool tinted lip balm. Start with heating your expired lipstick so that you can kill all the bacteria. Mix it with Vaseline or any petroleum jelly, and voila! Your make up kit is all set to welcome a new member!
Holika Dahan 2018 vidhi and timings
Holi is one of the most popular festivals of Hindu religion, and is celebrated with great gusto across the country. Also known as festival of colours, the occasion marks a two-day celebration. The first day is known as Holika Dahan or Choti Holi, and the next day is known with different names in different parts of the country, including Rangwali Holi, Dhuleti, Dhulandi or Dhulivandan. As per the Hindu lunar calendar, the festival is celebrated every year on the full moon day (purnima) in the month of Falgun. Here are the dates of the festival, auspicious timings to offer prayers and the rituals of Holika Dahan.This year, Holika Dahan is on March 1, and the auspicious timings for offering prayers are from 17:40 to 19:30. As the name suggest, people light bonfires on the occasion of Holika Dahan. The place where the bonfire is set is washed with cow dung and Ganga jal (holy water).
Apart from celebrating the onset of spring and winter harvest, the festival also revels the victory of good over evil. There are several mythological stories associated with the festival. One of them is about Lord Krishna and his follower Prahlad who was the son of demon king Hiranyakashyap. Hiranyakashyap was blessed with super powers and was against his son being an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna. Despite several attempts to punish him and turn him against Lord Krishna, Prahlad continued to be his follower and his faith for the Lord could not be shaken.
Finally, Hiranyakashyap asked his sister, Holika, to sit on a pyre with Prahlad. She had a magical cloak that protected her from fire. As they both sat on fire, the robe worn by Holika flew from her and encased Prahlad. In turn, Holika ended up burning herself to death, and Prahlad escaped unhurt. Therefore, people burn Holika (the bonfire) on this occasion to symbolise the end of all evil forces around us.In many regions of the country, people worship Radha-Krishna on the first day of Holi. It is believed Lord Krishna smeared colour on Radha’s face and they later became a couple. Since that time, this playful colouring of Radha’s face started the tradition of Holi, and celebration of their divine love.
The preparations for the puja start with gathering woods, twigs, dried leaves, cow dung and making a bonfire. This is followed by making the effigies of Holika and Prahlad that are placed on the bonfire. A wooden pole is erected is the centre and is also decorated with stars, moons, swords, garlands and other toys made out of cow dung. Every region has its own set of traditions for conducting the puja and in many states, freshly harvested crops including wheat and gram are also included in the puja.
The puja thali is accompanied with a small pot of water, and devotees sit with them facing either north or east direction. Next, people take rounds of the pyre (three, five or seven) while tying raw yarn around it. This is accompanied with chanting of mantras and offering prayers. Next, people offer items like incense sticks, flowers, roli, raw cotton thread, turmeric pieces, unbroken lentil of moong, batasha, gulal powder, coconut etc to the holika and pour the water from the pot in front of it.Finally, the holika is burnt, and people hug each other and seek blessings of Lord Vishnu. The new crops are roasted in the holy fire and served as the prasad. The next day, the ash from the bonfire is collected and smeared on the body. This ash is considered pious and it is believed that it purifies one soul.
Made for India
Anantham’s traditional jewellery, says its founder-designer Praveena Tipirneni, is often so authentic that clients ask her if they are antique pieces.
“They are all new. I work closely with good karigars (artisans) to ensure that some of those traditional pieces, which are now lost, can be recreated,” says the jewellery designer who recently exhibited her work at Raintree.
Hyderabad-based Praveena retains this aesthetic because of her love for South Indian, traditional jewellery from coin malas to guttapusalu (a pearl-based jewellery piece) and she specialises in customized wedding jewellery.
“Whatever said and done, culturally we Indians love our festivities, especially our weddings. When girls get married, it is traditional attire that comes into the fore. It is what I believe in. Having said that, our attitudes, our clothing and our jewellery have evolved. So we offer traditional jewellery with a modern twist, in line with what modern brides like to wear.”
If she is designing a waist ornament, for instance, she might retain the concept while giving it a lighter, more gem-studded appearance.
“Traditional jewellery pieces such as the bottu mala (a mangalsutra chain) are timeless treasures. And I specialise in wedding trousseau because they are keepsakes, there is so much sentimental, emotional and intrinsic value attached to them,” explains Praveena, a certified diamond assorter, who meet her clients by appointment at her retail space in Hyderabad to customise jewellery
“It has been 14 years since I started Anantham after working with my dad who is an industrialist. Even before that, people used to come to me to help them pick out jewellery. Then one day, I thought I should give this skill more importance, so I did a gemmology course. And then I started exhibiting my work in shows.”
She sold 50 pieces, meeting her target in her first exhibition, selling another 100 in her second.
“I now design 80 per cent of my jewellery, working with karigars who specialise in different varieties. I also keep some fashion jewellery and some typically Jaipur-style pieces,” she explains.
“In the beginning, I used to strive to make every piece look different. Then I realised that different doesn’t spell ‘best’.”
That’s when, she says, she understood that retaining the traditional aspects (in different versions) works very well. She adds that she also loves the chunky, big pieces that most Indian brides like to wear.
“People used to wear smaller pieces earlier. Now I see that people like heavier pieces and they dress up for weddings. That’s the kind of customer base I like, where I get to make something big. And somehow, these are the kinds of clients who are attracted to me.”
Most of her clients, she explains, are almost automatically convinced of her taste.“Over the years, I have learnt to understand what people want and I’d rather give them what they like.”
Among her list of clients is Baahubali star Anushka Shetty, who wore Praveena’s creations for the second film’s premiere. “Anushka loves South Indian jewellery, she has bought a lot of traditional pieces. She is understated and classy and she looks good in whatever she wears.”
Get fit with Hrithik Roshan
In a fitness space that is increasingly defined by how much you can push yourself (ultramarathons, trans-continent cycling challenges, and cityscape parkour), it’s a relief that HRX is for everybody. Beginners can understand body basics with it, and it can be scaled for intermediate and advanced-level practitioners. For a workout ‘owned’ by Hrithik Roshan and designed by him and his personal trainer, Mustafa Ahmed, this comes as a surprise. You’d expect it to be about body building, and in a sense it is, but not in a muscle-bulging way.
“HRX is a strength-based training module, where we work on specific muscle groups in each class, using weights and animal-flow movements to build functional fitness,” says Anupam Popli, the master trainer in Cult Fit Centre, Gurugram, that has HRX classes. He says this will have a good carry-over in life: this means you can move more efficiently in daily life (without groaning each time you reach to lift out something heavy at the top of your cupboard).
Catering to a spectrum
It makes business sense, of course, to cater to the whole spectrum (it was formulated in January 2017), with an emphasis on beginners, because India is still at the nascent stage of fitness growth, and with our soaring obesity levels, most people still join a gym to lose weight. At the Cult Fit Centre, in Gurugram, where I take an HRX class, of the 15-odd people who had turned up, almost all the eight women wanted to lose weight.
It also helps to have clothes and shoes tied in with it, and that’s what Roshan and his business parter, Afsar Zaidi, Co-Founder of HRX and Managing Director of Exceed Entertainment, have done.
Cult Fit is a machine-less gym, with just racks of weights at one end (dumb-bells, barbells, kettlebells, medicine balls). Not having been in a gym for some years, I am a newbie, but it starts off as Popli promises — with two trainers and beginners being put into one line.
The circuit, focussing on the back and quads the day I took the class, with 3 sets of 3 or 4 exercises each, consists of a mix of load-bearing drills, animal-flow movements and body-weight exercises. The whole class (excluding warm-up and cool-down) is 25-30 minutes. “We work with a component called zero momentum repetition (ZMR), where we slow the movement down, increasing the time under tension,” says Popli. The first 2 to 4 reps are performed very slowly, engaging the muscle for a long duration. The next 10-12 reps are done the regular way. “This builds body awareness for someone who is new to working out. Beginners start with low weights and gradually progress.”
Trainers spend 3 weeks studying the science behind the workout, performing mock drills and taking the test. There are four levels of training: 0-3, and they are either athletes or already have some form of certifica-
tion before they qualify for HRX.
At Chennai’s Safe Food fest, sustainable living takes centrestage
Things to keep in mind while choosing perfumes
Picking perfumes can be hard. Be specific beforehand to save time while choosing fragrance notes, say experts. First of all, have an idea of what you are going to buy before you get into the store. If you don’t know anything about fragrances, you will be amazed to learn that there are literally hundreds of fragrances in our stores.
2. To evaluate any fragrance, you must first smell it on a smelling strip, like it, then apply it on your skin to see how it evolves over time. As you spray the fragrance on a smelling strip, the first whiff of the fragrance is called the top note. This will last for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the fragrance design.
3. Immediately after you will be introduced to the core of the fragrance called the heart. This will last from 10 to 45 minutes. This is much more in line with how the fragrance will continue to smell like. Then you have the dry down, which is called the base note. This is the lingering essence of the fragrance. If you like the fragrance transition on your skin, that would be the ideal perfume selection for you.
4. When selecting a fragrance, ensure that after you have sampled three to four fragrances, you ask for coffee beans. This helps you neutralise your sense of smell and you can continue to smell more fragrances.
Bringing a smile through a haircut
That day also changed the life of G Charan Kumar, a Visakhapatnam based hairdresser, lovingly known as Charan Anna by many kids in the city. “I visited this school for the visually challenged children and came across this little boy Hari Krishna with a bleeding ear. The wound had occurred when he was given a haircut. I was deeply moved by the sight and told the boy I would return to give him a haircut,” he says. A few days later, Charan was invited by the school to give a haircut to the children. The unbridled joy in the faces of the kids after the haircut left a lasting impact on him. Thus began his journey to offer a unique service of giving haircuts free of cost to orphan children in the city.
Unique fashion show
Charan now is gearing up to host a unique fashion show with the orphan and differently-abled children of Icha Foundation, Prajwal Vani, Netra Vidyalaya and Papa Home at VUDA Children’s Arena on February 20. Around 60 children will be given a complete makeover by Charan, his team and make-up artist Samaira Wallani from Mumbai. “This is a dream come true for me and a culmination of five months of hardwork!” says Charan.
Today, Charan dedicates one day of the week (Tuesdays) to visit orphanages, schools and homes for destitute and differently-abled children to give them a makeover and change the way the world sees them. A school drop-out at the age of seven due to family circumstances, Charan used to work at his uncle’s salon in the initial years. Later, he worked at various salons, did a professional course in Hyderabad and set up his own hair studio in the city. But it was the visit to the visually challenged school that changed the way he perceived the beauty industry. Over the years, Charan founded a group called New Trendz, named after his salon, with a team of 15 hairdressers from other salons in the city who give a free makeover to these special children in the city. His group has even spread to Hyderabad and Mumbai where similar initiatives are being carried out by hairdresser teams.
Come Tuesday and the kids eagerly wait for their Charan Anna. “This is a happiness that money cannot buy!” says Charan. He and his team have given hundreds of haircuts to children, once completing 150 haircuts in four hours at a school for the visually challenged, an experience that Charan says wouldn’t have been possible without the “fantastic” teamwork. From fun spikes, short-crops to layered bouncy cuts, they give a complete makeover to the children and also explain to them about personal hygiene. “I have seen even a severely disabled child respond joyfully with her eyes and touch after a haircut. We make videos capturing such priceless moments and upload them in social media for the public to see and be more sensitive towards these kids,” he says.
I didn’t think I would ever fall in love again. I know that everyone says that after a heartbreak, but the difference is that I’m not heartbroken. I’m not cynical, or pessimistic, or sad. I’m just someone who once felt something bigger than anything else I’d ever felt and when I lost it, I honestly believed I would never have that again. But… I was 22 then and life is long. And I’m feeling things right now that I haven’t in a long, long time.
RULES BY THE AUTHOR
1. Write about the past, lead up to the present.
2. Continue and finish in the present.
3. End with a twist in the last paragraph!
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2. Each author has provided some rules. If your story does not abide by the rules, it shall be considered disqualified.
3. DO NOT tamper the Author passage. Entries with ‘split’ passage or with any kind of change in the passage will be disqualified.
4. Stick to a minimum of 1500 words and a maximum of 3000 words.
5. The story must be written in English. Be careful with your editing, grammar and punctuation. Though we are primarily looking for good storytellers, language skill will strengthen your case in case of a tie.
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