December 18, 2007

Theives Steal Holy Leg

The police of the Chittur district of Andhra Pradesh are hunting for two men who attacked a holy man, cut off his right leg and then made off with it.

80-year-old holy man, Yanadi Kondaiah, claims to have healing powers in the leg, but right now is in a Tirupati City Government hospital trying to recover from his ordeal. The locals in the area believe that the Yanadi could heal any of their spiritual or physical problems with just a touch of his leg.

According to reports – Initially, Kondaiah and his wife earned their daily bread as labourers but some time ago Kondaiah went to Himalayas – he claimed to have got some magical powers in his right leg on his return. The localites also started believing in Mr Kondaiah's future predictions.

A few days ago, the self-proclaimed 'Godman' - who lives in Yagamareddy Kandriga in Ramachandrapuram mandal, 45 kilometres from Tirupati, was approached by two strangers who came to seek his advice over a medical problem. They told him that they had returned to thank him for the help he had rendered to them.

"As the old man had the weakness of drinking, he accepted their invitation to have drinks with them," said Venkatadhiri, a villager, who knew Kondaiah. "They took him to a deserted spot in the outskirts of the village.” And further added that, "After the old man had passed out under the influence of liquor, they cut off his right leg from the knee."

Police reports describe the amputation as something carried out in a very "brutal manner" and that they are still looking for the blessed leg and the men who so cruelly made off with it. It also mentions that the assailants used a sharp hunting knife, and left the old man alone, bleeding to death. The locals found him unconscious and alerted the police, who rushed him to a hospital in Tirupati.

On regaining consciousness, Mr Kondaiah claimed to have no idea as to why he was made a target in such a manner and also did not understand the motive of the miscreants in taking away his leg. Though, the police say that the reason for the attack could be Mr Kondaiah’s leg which he claims to have been bestowed by magical powers.

November 25, 2007

In Laws' hands

ALUR (ANDHRA PRADESH): Pain, agony and distress – these words sound heavy even for a mature person – but for 13-year-old Janaki amma – it was a nighmare. Not able to withstand the torture by her 45-year-old husband anymore, she drank kerosene one night, in a bid to commit suicide. After her recovery, she refused to stay with her husband any longer and left the house. It's been six months now, and Janaki is doing a bridge course for enrolling into Class VI in a government school next year.

The journey from the house of her 45-year-old husband, who used to force her to work in the cotton fields and also beat her up every night, to the residential camp in Alur run by a NGO where she is studying in Class VII now, was not easy for the 16-year-old Revati of Bandeliki Chealra village. Married to a husband, who already had two wives, this minor was tortured by her in-laws too, until one day she gathered courage to file a complaint against them in the police station, and refused to go back. Now, all she dreams about is her first day in court as a practising lawyer.

"I want to study law to help lakhs of hapless girls like me," says Revati. If the story of these child-wives of various villages in Ranga Reddy district is anything to go by, more and more minor girls married off by their parents against their will have been courageously walking out their marital homes, choosing to study instead, with the dream for a better future ahead.

"After working for 15 hours in the cotton and chilli fields, I had work at my in-law's house and then got beaten up by my drunkard-husband at night. Life was hell for me," recalls Janaki, who wants to be a nurse. Even as child-marriages are rampant, of late, the trend to walk out of the marriage is also being seen in various villages of the district. There are over two dozen such young girls who have walked out of marriages.

A recent survey conducted across all 17 blocks of the district by M V Foundation, a NGO working to curb child labour in the state, stated that eight out of 10 girls here are married off before they attain the age of 18. The study also reveals that 36% of women, who were married off early but are now single, are below 25 years.

"This is a positive trend, with these girls willing to study to make a future of their own. Despite getting no co-operation from their parents, these girls prefer to walk out of a bad marriage," said Md Rahim, co-ordinator of M V Foundation.

November 5, 2007

Bollywood Love Affair

If you thought Bollywood was only about Shilpa Shetty in the UK then you’ve got it wrong. Long before Shilpa Shetty the small town of Southampton (UK) was bedazzled by all things Bollywood. With Europeans having acquired a seemingly insatiable appetite for Indian culture in all its forms be it art culture or the films, it seems that it cannot get enough of the vibrant colours, passion, glamour and energy of India. One would think it would be our very own Indian Janta spreading the spice and flavors, but surprisingly that is not the case. Mr Afghan (no names and I Kinda like the sound of Mr Afghan) Afghan has a different story to tell.

5 years ago, Mr Afghan came to the UK, leaving behind him memories of a war torn country. Not the one to give up, He has been having a 5 year long love affair with Bollywood. Today, he boasts of the best collection of Bollywood films and music in Southampton.” His quaint little shop is a definitive anthology of all Bollywood music right from the evergreen classics to the current foot tapping fusion and you might just find locals dancing along with Shah Rukh Khan or Aishwarya Rai doing their Bollywood routine!

The local Indians and all Bollywood lovers alike swear by Mr Afghan’s collection and come from all across Southampton to get their dose of Bollywood Films and music! –As they say Cinema has no language…and no barriers. It merely blurs the shadow lines that separate countries through the arts of expression be it music or films.

So, if you are ever in this part of the world make sure (take me along!) you visit Mr Afghan because his love for Bollywood and the music in its own special way will make you feel at home far-away from home.

October 22, 2007

24 hours in Venice

Paris may be the city of love but for a quick romantic fix nothing beats the passion of Venice.

Morning: A sunrise trip to St Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco). Avoid the dive-bombing pigeons and throngs of snap-happy tourists as you soak up the serene atmosphere in one of Europe's most popular squares. The earlier you do it, the quieter it is. Alternatively, enjoy an early-morning breakfast at the vibrant food markets, found just off the famous Rialto Bridge. The local traders turn the mundane process of grocery shopping into a dramatic performance. Arrive by 8am if you want to see the Pescheria (fish market) and Erberia (vegetable market) in full flow. Grab some succulent fresh fruit and find a quiet corner on the Grand Canal to feed grapes to each other.

Midday: Even if a trip down the aisle is a bit premature for you, a visit to the Madonna dell'Orto (waterbus 41, 51 and 52) is guaranteed to impress and seduce in equal measure. Local experts explain that this church offers one of the finest examples of gothic architecture in the whole of Italy. The church also has its own artist in residence—renowned renaissance painter Tintoretto has his tomb here alongside a truly stunning collection of fine historical art.

Afternoon: The Palazzo Grassi is a stunning white-marble palace on the Grand Canal, which houses a fine-art collection and is always worth a visit. But if art is not your thing, then get out of the hustle and bustle and take a waterbus trip to The Venetian Lagoon—a heart-shaped body of water between the Adriatic sea and the Italian mainland that plays host to a multitude of small islands. Enjoy a hand-in-hand stroll along the long beach at the Venice Lido and stop off for coffee at one of the many beachside cafés and bars to soak up the chilled atmosphere.

Evening: It's more expensive to take a gondola ride at night, but it's the best way to see the city. Ditch the Cornetto and go for champagne, and to really blow the budget get your gondolier to sing you a song. The Tronchetto and the Doge's Palace are two favoured haunts to hitch a ride from. But if gondolier rides are too touristy for you, head to Bacaro Jazz to drink, eat and dance the night away to an endless soundtrack of beautiful music . This place is a real haunt for night owls where the kitchen doesn't close until 3am—a great spot for a late-night snack. And if you want to have the gondola ride and also some average amount then it is advised to catch one near the Rialto bridge and share it five others.

STAY: If you want to stay inside Venice to enjoy it better - it would cost you some mullahs. It is suggested that you take a hotel in Mestre which is 15 minutes bus ride to the Venice island... Getting aroundVenice is ideal for the pedestrian but when water gets in the way, it's time to hop aboard one of several options.

WATER BUS: Known as vaporetto these are the cheapest way to get around on the water. The No 1 line is very popular with visitors as it travels a scenic 4km stretch of the Grand Canal. WATER TAXI: If you need to get somewhere that isn't covered by a waterbus route then hiring a water taxi will be the best way to arrive in style. But they are very expensive, so see if anyone else is going your way and split the cost.


1. St Marks Square

2. Railto Bridge

3. Madonna dell'Orto

4.Campo Santa Margherita

5. Palazzo Grassi

6. The Tornchetto

7. Doge's Palace

8. Bacaro Jazz

September 27, 2007

My film - Sky Sports News

This film is about Sky SPorts News - special project team, made by me during Chevening scholarship at London in 2007

September 21, 2007

English is Phunny language

There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple... English muffins were not invented in England nor French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies, while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat.

We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square, and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig. And there is no explanation as to why there is a 'P' in pneumonia when it has to be silent and 'L' in walk when its not spelt.

During my three months stint in UK - traveling to different places and visiting as well as working with Sky News in London and BBC in Bristol (for work experience under Chevening scholarship) - one particular phrase from not one but all the journalists I came across caught me unaware. The way they greet. The moment I walked into the Sky Sports news office in London - Simon Carpenter - the producer of the special projects -asked - 'Are you alright?' - For a moment he made me think if something had happened to me ...Was I sick? Was I looking pale – Was I Ok?. I said 'OK'......but the whole day – that particular phrase was playing around in my mind. To add to my self pity - whosoever met me on that particular or the weeks that followed - 'Are you alright?' was the way everyone greeted me.

When things settled down and I shifted to BBC in Bristol - Jemma Cooper and others to follow - had a new way of greeting me – “Are you ok?” Nothing wrong in the greeting as it was so friendly - but technically and grammatically speaking - such statements seem to be dipped and darkened in the ink pot of negativity...

But when I actually sat down to write this post It struck me that - the English language actually funny. As why is it that writers write, but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce, and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So, one moose should have been 2 meese? Is cheese the plural of choose? If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? When a house burns up, it burns down. You fill in a form by filling it out, and an alarm clock goes off by going on. When the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

And why, when I wind up my watch, I start it, but when I wind up this essay, I end it? Why? Answers Anyone?

September 17, 2007

I'm Brown, not Black

Who in this unruly world has not heard of 'Mandrake the magician'…? Well I have been an all time fan of this comic magician and his friend Prince Lothar - the strong man. I do not remember when….. but many years back, when I used to subscribe to the Indrajal comics at my Kolkata house - I had come across an edition of the comic in which Lothar ( who is a heavily built man) was bullied by some white men on him being black - and he had reacted saying - 'I am not black -I am brown'. Lothar was always left wondering as to why people called him black when he was actually brown skinned.

Who would have thought a day would come when I would be my turn to say “I am brown not black”. It took me several hours and lots of debate with myself to make up my mind whether to pen down this incident or not. I was fighting between being embarrassed and the fear of looking like a fool. Eventually- the journalistic instinct prevailed and here I am penning this piece for my blog.

Working in BBC at Bristol was an exciting experience but the time after work hours was always dim and low. For a person who doesn’t smoke and is a teetotaler - going around the city was the only option which is sometimes not enough to kill the loneliness. When the weekend arrived - my adrenaline accelerated - it was time to hop onto a bus to London - spend time with friends and above all kill the loneliness.

The National Express Bus to London from the Bristol bus station was at 8 pm so I called for a taxi at the Hotel Ibis; where I was putting up. The driver of the taxi was a black man; his license told me that his name was Samuel. It took me a few minutes to reach the bus station and Samuel politely asked me to pay 6 pounds. On searching I found only 5 pounds and 25 cents and I was in no mood to break my 20 pound notes. Samuel must have realized it and asked me to give him whatever change I had - but I insisted on paying him the exact amount so as to not have him incur any loss. He took me by surprise saying.....'com on brother - we are black people in the land of whites, we have to be united. These people call us black. You are black and I am black, we are be-rathers (read brothers) - I have to help you.”

I saw myself in the taxi mirror and thought I am not black I am fact I am brown. How the hell did the cabbie call me black - I am an Indian - an Asian and not BLACK. I told him - "I am brown", and walked off into the bus station with a huff…left wondering why he called me black when my colour was brown. I could immediately relate my self to what Lothar (of mandrake comic) would have felt in this very situation…

Mistress of Spices

Sixty years of Independence, exchange of ideas and trade but seems like food is probably the greatest of all India’s influences over Europe; be it Belgium, France or the U.K.. Interestingly, an observation during my 2 month stint here is that most of the restaurants I visited for my love of Indian food are run by either Bangladeshis or Pakistanis trying to make a quick buck with Europe’s love for Indian Food.

From day one since we, a group of ten journalists arrived in the U.K. for the Chevening scholarship - made it a point to keep a tab on nearby Indian restaurants. Staying in an apartment at Baker Street in London - I managed to find ‘Bombay Masala’. Being away from India a need for a conversation with someone ‘apna’ was due… But to my surprise on approaching the waiter I was politely told of him being a Bangladesh. I was faced with a similar reaction at Brussels - at ‘Maharani’ - the Bangladeshi owner enlightened me that the Hindi name had been kept precisely to woo customers.

Well After 2 such ironies my search for Indian restaurants wherever I went across UK doubled…. During my placement with BBC in Bristol – I found the Indian Tarka just across the Hotel Ibis where I was put up and surprise! Surprise this time it was the Pakistanis who owned the do rather than the usual Bangladeshis.

You can set your hands on every indian dish right from Masala Dosas, Rotis, chicken tikka masala to Aloo Gobi in these restaurants and as per a report, 80% of the Indian restaurants in the U.K. are run and managed by either Pakistanis or Bangladeshis. Well, this shows the importance of apna desi khanna in the angrez land and be sure I am proud of it.

September 5, 2007

Bumper to Bumper

Bumper to bumper traffic, hoards of people walking, long queues of people trying to get into buses – a typical Indian Traffic Jam… Well for once it was not India but London – one of the world’s best capitals, which saw this sorry scene. Employees of the famous London Underground went on a 72 hour strike causing the cancellation of most Tube services - literarily paralyzing the entire transport system. The Public Transport came to the rescue, but with 2 million Londoners swarming the streets it was a nightmare.

It usually takes me about 3/4th of an hour to travel from Baker Street to Osterley with 2 Tube changes. But today, a day when I had to reach the Sky Sports News Office by 8 in the morning for a special project saw me stranded at the station with no trains to take. Believe it or not but it took me over 2 hours to reach Osterley.

There was complete disarray, seeing Crowded Buses and long Queues for cabs with trying to get just that one step closer to wherever they were headed.I was informed that this was the most extensive strike ever since June 30, 2004, when metro train drivers walked off their jobs and had shut down the entire railway. The Tube Union wants a guarantee that members won't lose jobs and pensions following Metronet's financial collapse in July.

Once onboard a bus, I overheard a couple of Indians chitchatting about London being worse than Mumbai. Yes Mumbai faces the same chaos day in and day out but, what needs to be acknowledged about London is that in there is organized chaos - despite the strike, people at the Underground were well prepared to give commuters details about alternative routes and transport measures. It was Tim (a metro staff) - if I remember correctly who informed me about the Piccadilly Line being shut and the only way I could reach office was to take bus number 27 from Baker street to Hammersmith and the H91 bus to the Sky office.

The strike is on till have to face the brunt for a of couple days more... But the worst is yet to come as I just heard that the strikes goes into phase II from the 20 of Sept. Well Thank god for me as I will be in Bristol from the 10 of Sept and would be back to London only by the 28th to take off for my Europe trip.

I am definitely feeling better after scribbling down all this as I try not to think of how many hours its going to take me to get back home. Nonetheless Hope things look up this time or as always there’s No respite!

Strange World Laws

Did you know it's illegal in France to name a pig Napoleon? Or that in Ohio you're not allowed to get a fish drunk?

Alex Wade celebrates the spirit of the silly season with a list of the world's most ridiculous laws. and i thought a place for them on my blog would be worth a read. So here goes...

25. It is illegal for a cab in the City of London to carry rabid dogs or corpses.

24. It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament.

23. It is an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing the British monarch upside down.

22. In France, it is forbidden to call a pig Napoleon.

21. Under the UK's Tax Avoidance Schemes Regulations 2006, it is illegal not to tell the taxman anything you don't want him to know, though you don't have to tell him anything you don't mind him knowing.

20. In Alabama, it is illegal for a driver to be blindfolded while driving a vehicle.

19. In Ohio, it is against state law to get a fish drunk.

18. Royal Navy ships that enter the Port of London must provide a barrel of rum to the Constable of the Tower of London.

17. In the UK, a pregnant woman can legally relieve herself anywhere she wants – even, if she so requests, in a policeman's helmet.

16. In Lancashire, no person is permitted after being asked to stop by a constable on the seashore to incite a dog to bark.

15. In Miami, Florida, it is illegal to skateboard in a police station.

14. In Indonesia, the penalty for masturbation is decapitation.

13. In England, all men over the age of 14 must carry out two hours of longbow practice a day.

12. In London, Freemen are allowed to take a flock of sheep across London Bridge without being charged a toll; they are also allowed to drive geese down Cheapside.

11. In San Salvador, drunk drivers can be punished by death before a firing squad.

10. In the UK, a man who feels compelled to urinate in public can do so only if he aims for his rear wheel and keeps his right hand on his vehicle.

9. In Florida, unmarried women who parachute on Sundays can be jailed.

8. In Kentucky, it is illegal to carry a concealed weapon more than six-feet long.

7. In Chester, Welshmen are banned from entering the city before sunrise and from staying after sunset.

6. In the city of York, it is legal to murder a Scotsman within the ancient city walls, but only if he is carrying a bow and arrow.

5. In Boulder, Colorado, it is illegal to kill a bird within the city limits and also to "own" a pet – the town's citizens, legally speaking, are merely "pet minders".

4. In Vermont, women must obtain written permission from their husbands to wear false teeth.
3. In London, it is illegal to flag down a taxi if you have the plague.

2. In Bahrain, a male doctor may legally examine a woman's genitals but is forbidden from looking directly at them during the examination; he may only see their reflection in a mirror.

1. The head of any dead whale found on the British coast is legally the property of the King; the tail, on the other hand, belongs to the Queen - in case she needs the bones for her corset.

September 3, 2007

Brussels and Back

27th August – A Bank Holiday in the U.K. – Almost everyone had planned to go on a holiday and last minute plans saw me walking out of the Brussels railway station. Brussels for those who aren’t aware is the Capital of Belgium. It took me a 2 and a half highly boring journey by the Euro rail from London's Waterloo to Brussels’s Midi station. Tintin comics and the famous statue of Mannekin Piss is what comes to mind when one talks about Brussels. The Mannekin piss is a small fountain sculpture depicting a little boy peeing. – Do not ask me why it became so famous.

There is nothing great or overwhelming about Brussels despite it’s much talked about heritage architect. But, interestingly what catches one eye are the comic strips painted across the city walls of the main street which is now the capital of the European commission. From the Belgian ReporterTintin to Captain Haddock and Professor Calculus to many more unknown characters are flashed on the huge walls of the city welcoming tourists.

The Comic Strips play an important role in the cultural history of this city and simultaneously Brussels as a city plays a relevant part in many of these strip cartoons. I was told by the information centre that based on an idea of Michel Van Roye Alderman; responsible for public areas and the environment of the City of Brussels in 1991, the 'strip cartoon’ route was devised by the Belgian Strip Cartoon Centre and the ‘Art Mural’ Association which is responsible for producing and positioning frescoes based on an original drawing by the authors.

There are currently 24 frescoes around the region, as well as a number of statues relating to the world of the strip cartoon. If we add to this the museums, birthplaces of the leading authors and places that have inspired settings, I had the most fascinating walk through the city in quest of ‘bubble’ emotions.

If you are a die hard fan of Tintin then the comic strip museum is worth a visit - which I eventually missed as the museum is closed for the public on Monday. However to my good fortune, the gate keeper was kind enough to let me in and have a quick glance and I took the opportunity to capture some moments of this famous comic within my camera.

Oh and I did not miss the opportunity of getting myself photographed infront of the Mannekin piss. So Alls wells that ends well! Quite a trip it was to the fantasy world and back!

August 21, 2007

Wonderland and more!

Pinch me… will u, for I was in the midst of a place where all literate people across the world, dream to be. THE OXFORD UNIVERSITY… Spellbound and Awestruck I was…by not only its beauty, but also due to the fact that I was finally there. Pawan and Neha were in the same mode – while they told me some of the interesting facts.

Speaking about facts; it was right here in Oxfordshire that the Adventures of Alice in Wonderland originated. The journey began one afternoon in July 1862 at Folly Bridge, Oxford, one of the most famous alumni of Christ Church college – the mathematician Charles Dodgson, known to most people as Lewis Carroll, took a girl called Alice Liddell and her two sisters (daughters of the then Dean) on a rowing picnic, up the River Thames to the village of Godtsow.
During that journey, he told them the tale of a girl called Alice who goes looking for an adventure. 10 year-old Alice, loved the story so much so, that she him to write it down. This resulted in the epic tales of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland; first published in 1865 under the pen name Lewis Carroll and have gone on to be a favourite with generations throughout the globe.

Coming back to reality, Christ Church is the largest of the Oxford University colleges. Its grandeur owes much to the pride of one man, its founder, Cardinal Thomas Woolsey. Christ Church College boasts of a cathedral inside – a unique thing. The architecture is remarkable…People from all over the world come to see the essence of this much talked about institution, but one wonders what captures the interest of the teenagers and younger children in the college premises. In ‘Harry Potter’ lies the answer. Wondering what Harry Potter has to do with Oxford…? Well… While watching Harry Potter movies, ever been awestruck with the Hogwart’s dining room which roomed more than a hundred students, staff and of course not to forget the Ghosts… of legends, while Prof Dumbledor gave most of his speeches. Well Oxford it was… where its been shot.

That’s not all – Oxford University comprises of 39 colleges in all and every college has its own USP – Right from top politicians to businessmen all have had their roots here. Oxford boasts of having taught Bill Clinton, Oscar Wilde (Magdalen College), Albert Eiensten (Christ Church College) and the list goes on including over 14 former Prime Ministers of UK. Our very own Indira Gandhi studied here at the Somerville College.

The Turf Tavern age old Pub– is a must see, It is located down a narrow winding alley between Holywell Street and New College Lane, close to the old city wall, which can still be seen here where the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Bill Clinton and the now Crown Prince of Japan have spent leisure time.Just behind the pub – is the house of Edmund Halley – a geometry professor who spotted the Halley’s Comet.

Phew! After a 3 hour literate tour – it was time for some punting - the best thing to do in Oxford apart from spending time at the university. A 20 pound boat ride was in order - A 30 minute guided tour with some complimentary Pepsi or some English wine for the more intoxicatingly inclined on board was the best way to end this trip.

August 7, 2007

Kosminsky's Human Touch

'I enjoy making mischief' - Peter Kosminsky personified; 51 and a veteran documentary film maker with two Hollywood movies and an umpteen number of controversial dramas to his name.

If I have to quote The Guardian – ‘Every time you see the name Peter Kosminsky attached to a TV billing, you know that you're going to see the best thing on that month, or even year. This is the man who made Warriors; the unforgettable Bosnian peacekeepers drama, and 2002's vilification of New Labour, The Project. But, what stands out is The Government Inspector (Channel 4) which surpassed even the weighty expectations on the Kosminsky brand. This television drama hit all the right buttons - action, comedy, pathos, satire - as well as shedding loads of righteous political anger.’

We saw The Government Inspector written and directed by Peter Kosminsky a week back at a screening in the Media School of the University and this week we were face to face with the man himself. The Government Inspector is the story of the events which led to the suicide of UN weapon’s inspector Dr David Kelly in July 2003. Dr. Kelly was publicly named as the source for a BBC report and that the dossier into Iraqi weapons had been "sexed-up" and was thrown into the public spotlight which led him to commit suicide after which the Hutton Inquiry was set up to investigate the whole matter.

What inspired Kosminsky to script and make such a controversial film? His father, he answered. David Kelly reminded him of his father who died few weeks after Peter was offered to make the film - July 23, 2003- the day of his parent's 50th wedding anniversary. Now, almost four years later, He can't be sure whether his decision to accept was influenced by memories of his dead father or by something totally different. 'It seems likely that it was. In purely practical terms,' he adds.

Peter Kosminsky patiently answered all the queries we volleyed to him. He gave us a detailed account on how his research team worked for over a year which finally led him to a close scrutiny of the Hutton Report, in his own hours in the gallery during the inquiry and the 120 interviews he conducted with the players in that tragic story. 'I had to read around 10,000 pages of the public inquiry’, he told us. Some of the people he spoke to had only bit- parts whereas others had starring roles. From Iraq to Russia all have had their anonymity protected by one filmmaker with a track record for making controversial dramas based on real events.

The movie left a lot of questions in our minds. Kosminsky was prompt in responding to one such question- Was David Kelly carrying a bundle of guilt? He might have in some way realised that he might be a part of people who made way for the Iraq invasion by continuously believing that the weapon of mass destruction was there somewhere in Saddam's country.
Kosminsky, himself is still hunting for some unsolved questions after 2 years of making the documentary - Questions which only Dr David Kelly could have answered. What did David Kelly do during the two hours after his arrival in London and before his appearance at the Ministry of Defence? The film maker knows he probably will never be able to solve the mystery.

Another revelation Kosminsky makes, probably for the first time, is regarding the BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan, over the much controversial doggy dossier due to which Kelly had reportedly committed suicide – 'During my research on Gilligan's style of work – I came across a work where Gilligan specifically mentions the word 'sexed-up', which he used for the government dossier. This indicates that probably it was not David Kelly but Gilligan's word which was attributed to Dr Kelly in the report.' As there was no other back up support – Kosminsky did not use this finding in the movie. Making the film was not easy task, recalls the director. Kosminsky didn't assume the government would cooperate, but neither had he expected it to stop him speaking to any army personnel, bar him from all military bases and even prevent him from filming at museums. What, he wonders, could it be so afraid of?

Before bidding us goodbye, Kosminsky recalled a meeting he had had with BBC editors after the screening of Warriors, a film on conflict. It was a procedural session called Programme Review; always held after an important or controversial broadcast. Kosminsky was struck by the attitude of Mark Damazer; then head of BBC News and now controller of Radio 4. Damazer couldn't understand why one single drama had had a far greater public impact than years of straight reporting of the Bosnian conflict.

"My comment was that they are not mutually exclusive,” says Kosminsky. "The drama would not exist without the reporting because a lot of the reporting was our source material. But people need both. They need the immediate, dispassionate report but they also need the dramatist's take. They need the human story." It's tempting to say that what they really need is the truth, but as historians, journalists and dramatists know only too well, that quality is slippery indeed. Only by doubting do we come at it - and it was Cicero, by the way, who said that.

July 31, 2007

Kya 'Bath' hai!

Friends, Romans and My Countrymen! Lend me your eyes… for this time I am going to take you around one of England's most beautiful places. A testimony proclaiming the grand lifestlye of a roman heritage. It was in 2002 when I was in London when a friend recommended visiting a city called Bath renowned for its beauty. But, my tight schedule did not permit me a visit to the city; dipped and brightened in the essence of Roman architecture.

But as Lady Luck would have it Five years later, Bath was on my agenda for July the 28th. - If there ever be an award instated called the “Drop-Dead Beautiful Town Award”, the English town of Bath in perpetuity would surely win hands down. Bath has it all - a gorgeous location, the best Georgian architecture in the whole of England, the beautiful River Avon and Pulteney Weir, a glorious Abbey with stunning Gothic architecture and centuries-old Roman heritage. It reeks of Jane Austen’s style of gentility indeed; the legendary English author lived in the city, which now boasts of a museum in her honour which is stunningly photogenic. Put simply, Bath is a must-visit for any tourist in England.

The most popular attraction of the city is the Romans Bath Museum which still stands in great glory and delves deep into the history of the hot springs. You can wander and explore far below the street level through the elaborate spa built nearly 2,000 years ago. The Great Bath is a large, green, scummy rectangular pool surrounded by the Roman paving. Imagine… I was wandering on the same pavement that the Romans must have walked on some centuries ago…There remains today, even some of the original Roman lead plumbing.

Artifacts displayed folded strips of lead with curses written out by irked Romans who tossed them into the spring to ask Goddess Minerva for some cosmic payback against their enemies. I was intrigued by the Roman central heating system for the hot rooms. Much of Bath's look dates to a housing boom in the 1700s as the wealthy escaped dreary London to take the waters, socialize and enjoy their wealth. I remember reading somewhere that Bath was founded in 1AD by the Romans who chose to settle beside the only hot springs in the country. Hence the name. No first-time visit to Bath would be complete without a visit to the Roman Bath Museum and the Pump House. If you're really brave, you can "take the waters" at the Pump Room - as the Romans and genteel Englishmen did over a millennium-and-a-half later - for their allegedly therapeutic qualities. Be warned, however, "the waters" taste bloody horrible and you might just end up running to a nearby pub soon after.

By 400 AD and the end of the Roman influence in England, Bath had been abandoned. It remained a relative ghost town for hundreds of years until its rejuvenation began with the wool trade in the 15th Century and by the 18th Century; Bath was at the height of fashion. Architects queued up to design and build the many fine Georgian buildings that survive today. After London itself, Bath became the ultimate society address.

Which is where Jane Austen comes in! Interest in the premier English high society satirist has never been higher since Hollywood re-discovered the period costume drama. If you're in Bath and you have a penchant for all things Austen, check out ‘The Jane Austen Centre’. This is a newly installed permanent exhibition, which tells the story of Austen's experiences in Bath and the effect that living in the city had on her writing.

Other must-sees include Bath Abbey and Royal Crescent. The Abbey stands grandly alongside the Roman Baths Museum. A Roman statue stands over the Abbey, which was built in 1499 by Bishop Oliver King. The Royal Crescent reminds you of all those picture postcards you find in every brochure that touches upon Bath. The Royal Crescent is a shining example of the balanced, elegant Georgian architecture. Built in the warm, creamy limestone of the region, the semicircular structure is essentially a big condo. John Wood the Younger built it from 1767-1774 to house the rich, famous and distinguished people of his day. Nearly 250 years later, it's still prime real estate. But even the middle class can gain entrance today. There's a luxury hotel, The Royal Crescent Hotel and Bath House Spa, and (for those with a less stratospheric budget) a museum at one end of the crescent.

Being a small city, Bath is a wonderfully compact place and most of its attractions are within walking distance of each other. With an interesting selection of museums, galleries, musical events, restaurants and gracious parks, visitors to Bath can choose from all the very best of past and present.

'Et tu Brute?' Do not miss it!

For those looking for some Tourist Info on Bath, England

July 24, 2007


Our childhood dreams are mere pictures of what we want to capture in front of our eyes…. Well I’ve had my chance… I have always been intrigued by the Stonehenge in England. In the last six years I have visited the UK a couple of times but could never make it to the Stonehenge. This time around I made it. 22nd July 2007 and I was standing right in front of them - during my stay at Bournemouth I managed to plan a visit to the place. Hired a taxi and zoomed towards it.
The intensity and curiosity to see Stonehenge was growing with the acceleration of the car moving towards my dream place. I have always wondered about the mystery and strangeness surrounding Stonehenge. What is it? Why was it built? Why is so famous? Does it really matter so much? What was it that made it what it is?

After driving for miles through the rolling hills and planes of the English countryside the sight of this unusual structure makes people gasp. It’s some sort of looming being that seems to revel in its own importance and is aware that people can feel its power too… It taunts us with its mystery. For over 5000 years it has stood silent vigil over the earth. It has been excavated, x-rayed, measured, and surveyed, its age and construction has been thoroughly researched, yet its purpose remains one great mystery to the world.

We had to pay £4 .70 for a concession ticket - and we spent around 2 hours going around the structure with a free audio tour. - Constructed four millennia ago, Stonehenge is amongst one of the world's greatest historic monuments; a creation that still provokes awe and wonder. It is angled on the equinoxes and the solstices in such a way that the sun rising over the horizon appears to be perfectly placed between the gaps in the megaliths. This is undoubtedly not an accident, and probably has contributed to the stories of its mysterious origins.

This monument evoked a certain level of frustration in me as It was totally out of context and I really didn’t seem to understand the relevance and the audio tour only gives references about the stones and does not spell out or solve the mysterious existence of the Stonehenge. The surviving pillar of the great trilithon weighs nearly forty tons and stands twenty-two feet tall. It originally had a twin, while a third stone bridged their summits to make an arch. Nothing so tall or complex had been built in northern Europe ever before. It is a technological marvel which is over four thousand years old, but even if that is comprehended, it still leaves the question as to why was it built.

37 frames captured in my digital camera - as the site was great amidst a huge plane which ran for miles with an artistic hue of blue and white brushed across the horizon. My childhood dream came true and on my way back I gathered that it was a construction of a great temple of the sun on a bare green hillside. Almost certainly, Stonehenge is that; a sun temple and a monument of a religion that failed, nevertheless a stunning and wondrous achievement.

P.S. For those who want to visit this world heritage site - Stonehenge is situated around 90 miles west from Central London and is well within a comfortable day trip, either by an organized tour or by independent means. The nearest town with good public transport and facilities is Salisbury, a medieval cathedral city that I already wrote about and is worth a visit in its own right. About 24 miles north of Stonehenge is Avebury, another World Heritage Site with even larger stone rings to Stonehenge and unlike Stonehenge with free access to the stones themselves.

Weekend & Beyond

This weekend has been one trip to the yesteryears and back… and has been quite a memorable weekend at that. Have walked down corridors lined up with looming pillars, have come face to face with life before and after; all echoing voices, emotions and hopes of the times bygone. The inspiration behind my joining my friends for this trip to Salisbury about 30 miles from Bournemouth and 90 miles south west of London was famous Salibury Cathedral.

Long before you even enter Salisbury, the spire of the Salisbury Cathedral looms into view just as John Constable painted it. The 404-foot pinnacle of the early English and Gothic cathedral is the tallest in England. The extra 6500 tons of tower and spire have caused the support columns in the church to visibly buckle under the weight. Salisbury, or New Sarum, lies on the banks of the River Avon, is best known for its proximity to Stonehenge and for its glorious cathedral.

Salisbury Cathedral is generally considered to be England's finest medieval cathedral, and is unusual because it was all built at the same time with none of the subsequent additions of most other cathedrals. This gives it a very pleasing unity of appearance. Construction commenced in 1220, with most of the work complete by 1258. The building of the cathedral also marked the founding of the 'modern' town of Salisbury; prior to that time most people lived a couple of miles north at Old Sarum, a settlement dating back to Iron Age times. Nowadays there is little remaining at Old Sarum, but some of the stone has been taken to Salisbury and used for building the walls of the Cathedral Close. Filled with Tudor inns and tearooms, it's known to readers of Thomas Hardy as Melchester and to fans of Anthony Trollope as Barchester.

Our group toured the cathedral, noticing the floor stones which are witness to the numerous people who lie buried within the cathedral. A sign of the heart wrenching stories unheard and untold that haunt the place. While in the cathedral, I saw a crypt with what looked like potholes by the sides that went beyond the hole. I overheard a guide that the crypt was a sign of hope and healing for the physically disabled who could slip their arms into the crypt and get as close as possible to the saint who is said to have magical powers. Some of the crypts had graffiti which interestingly is a major attraction at the cathedral.

At the charter house, we saw the very historic Magna Carta. Just to enlighten you souls about the famous Magna Carta. Magna Carta is Latin for "The Great Charter"; the famous agreement made between King John and his barons at Runneymede in 1215 and is very significant for the foundation for the U.S. constitution. It is beautifully written in Latin on vellum (animal skin) and contains some 3,500 words, many of which have been abbreviated. It is believed that there have originally been many copies of the Magna Carta of which only 4 have been preserved and the best is on display at the Chapter House, which, according to the docent we had the privilege to lay our eyes on. Amazingly even after nearly 800 years the writing was as crisp as if it was just yesterday that it was fleshed out. The docent believes that it was the iron used in the ink. Time waits for no man or woman in this matter signified magnificently by the oldest working clock of all Europe built in 1386 which still ticks away at the cathedral.

Volunteer guides give free tours regularly every day. Entrance to the cathedral is free and the cathedral is open daily, but there are some interruptions during formal services every Sunday. A lovely glass-roofed restaurant offering a view up to the cathedral spire, and the inevitable gift shop are also onsite. Some parts of the cathedral complex do have admission charges – for example, if you wish to climb the 332 steps up to the base of spire.

One can spend many hours in the Cathedral and the surrounding grounds and not exhaust all it has to offer. It truly is a very enchanting and memorable place to visit as for us standing under the shade of the glorious cathedral building for once time stood at a stand still bringing the past and present together.

July 18, 2007

Flashback Detour

Let’s take a detour today and go 10 steps back to where this whole thing started. It all started in 2000 when i was a print journalist. The Chevening scholarship (for young broadcast journalists sponsored by British Council ) was always on my mind but my office could not afford to grant a leave for more than 10 days and this scholarship sadly required 90 days. Seven years later lady luck smiled on me and July 6, 2007 - I was aboard an Emirates flight on my way to London to attend the course.

Heathrow airport was not new to me as I have been here on a couple of occasions but this time as a student I could feel chills run down my spine. Anyways, the fresh and cold air did me good and drained away all the tension that I had knotted during the flight from Hyderabad. Excess baggage made me shell out 11k and I had no time to argue for i would have missed my flight and to add to my misery a severe bout of acidity only worsened the situation. A 2 Hour halt at the Dubai airport came as a relief and things finally hit normalcy.

I stayed with a very close friend in Harrow in London for the night and the very next day took the National Express to Bournemouth University with Neha as the other four other girls had taken an earlier bus from London Central.

This year 10 broadcast journalists were selected for the Chevening Scholarship course - Afreen Kidwai (Anchor/ correspondent- Times Now), Chayan Kundu (Principal Correspondent - Zee News Kolkata ), Deepa Chaturvedi ( Senior Producer - Times Now), Deborshi Chaki ( Principal Correspondent - CNN IBN , Assam), Pawan Bali (Special Correspondent - CNN IBN Jammu), Maha Siddiqui )Anchor/Correspondent- Doordarshan), Neha Bhatnagar (anchor/correspondent - Aaj Tak), Jajati Karan (Special Correspondent - CNN IBN, Orissa), Veera Raghav (Bureau Chief- CNN IBN Chennai) and myself (Star News – Hyderabad).

Sharan Lewis - who manages administration and finance at the Media School in Bournemouth University was waiting for us at the bus stop and escorted us to the house. The girls were already settled in their accommodation. I was the first guy to arrive so had the privilege to select the bigger room out of the five in the House no. 29 which was just opposite to the girls house. It was only after 11 pm - Veera popularly known as Vicky arrived and for the first time we both had a conversation which lasted 20 minutes in spite of us having met earlier on 3 occasions briefly in India.

David Bradshaw; the project director of the Media School escorted by Sandy and Ed of the Media School took us on a tour of the Bournemouth city the next day and we followed it up with an English lunch which was changed to suit our Indian palate. A walk around the beautiful beach changed our concept of Bournemouth being a sleepy town.

The sad part of it all was that three guys who were supposed to fly from Kolkata were stranded as their Air India flight was cancelled and it took them over 2 days to reach Bournemouth. However, Veera Raghav’s cooking style eventually followed by Jajatis' made me breathe a sigh a relief as all my worries about missing home cooked food took a back seat.

That brings me to the 9th of July - The first day of the course which began at 9.30 am. Gail Foley - a former BBC journalist and the course instructor took off from where David Bradshaw left off and initiated us into the course with some interesting classes on media. The course seems to be really interesting as it is packed with loads of activities and Gail is really an interesting and articulate person who knows her stuff pretty well. Despite of me having a huge amount of experience - learning is a process and surprisingly I can pack in more knowledge and experience after this whole trip concludes, Be rest assured!

July 17, 2007

Be on TV - BBC

4 long years of TV journalism and I have enjoyed every bit of reporting being right in the midst of action, Exploring the role of a TV presenter never took my slightest fancy,but as they say there’s always a first time for everything and our visit to the BBC Public Space in Birmingham triggered that fancy in me. Well, there isn’t any rocket science to it. I just had to stand near the dummy studio and click some buttons and everything was set to roll. The tele prompt started rolling and so did the camera and Lo! I was reading the News - a report for Midlands Today with the BBC studio as the backdrop - a dream come true.

It’s not only presenting news but there’s the weather forecast and much, much more. No one could stop themselves from trying their hand at “Be on TV” even Neha, Afreen or Maha Siddque - all known news presenters in India, but poor Chayan - just stood like a mute as Jajati Karan didn't give him a chance to read the news and only when he read "Goodbye" did he realize that the script for the news was over.

And yes! Please do not forget to see me anchoring. - Go to BBC Birmingham's Public Space - Be on TV where you’ll be asked to enter a code. My code is 071619946. Once you enter the code just hit PLAY and I’ll be on your screens. (and mind you this is available for only 7 days from now).

Andrea handles the Public Space at BBC. She took us around the public space and told us that BBC Birmingham's Public Space in The Mailbox has already attracted thousands of visitors since it opened its doors in June 2003. The BBC office at Birmingham makes way for people to explore more and more of BBC Birmingham. For e.g.; with the aid of special touch screens you can take interactive tours around the radio drama and TV studios. The space has a Café, BBC shop and hosts a variety of events. A special viewing glass allows you to look into the BBC WM and Asian Network studios and also gives you a chance to watch your favourite presenters on air.

It took us over 4 hours to reach the BBC office – Though we were tired from all the traveling the visit was worth all of it. Gail Foley was there to escort us and we met Mr Jas; a Sardarji who is one of the production heads, born and brought up in the UK.Mr Jas showed us around and gave us a detailed explanation, satisfying our queries we were volleying on him as if we would start our own channel after returning to India. Even though BBC had such a smooth way of functioning - we TV journalists from India felt it was really difficult to handle TV news in India with the umpteen number of "BREAKING NEWS" cropping up.

Our enthusiasm to click photographs in the BBC studio made us look like school going kids who had suddenly come across some kind of fantasy world. It was Adrian once again, who took us to Birmingham in a mini bus. The only thing he always complained about was our sense of punctuality which we never seemed to maintain. It would take us some time to keep up with the pace and time out here. We desperately wanted to visit Oxford on our way back but time constraints didn’t allow us the opportunity.

Deepa - a senior Producer from Times Now was back with us after a brief illness which didn’t allow her to make out station trips but her resolution for losing weight isn’t seem to working as the temptation to grab junk food is hitting her hard. Maha Siddiqui had a great time exchanging intellectual thoughts with Adrian on our way back - a strong believer in Islam and Allah - the most merciful and the most kind, peace and blessing be upon beloved Prophet- was dressed in western attire and looked damn cool. Neha with her backpack looks like a cute school girl and so did Veer Raghav - a bigger version of Neha. Pawan, Afreen, Jajati relaxed listening to their ipods while Neha, Deepa, Veera and I did some grocery shopping at Asda. It was quite a cool day. More yet to come so stay tuned! Oh! there goes the presenter in me :-)

July 14, 2007

Bournemouth - Day 5

Traveling half the world across, 9.30 pm sunsets, flat mates from all over India, alien food and getting into learning mode, sure has taken a toll on me. After 4 days of this unusual routine we get our first day off. Thank God for that! Relaxation and Sleep the agenda! What pleasure it is to sleep and know that you don’t have anything else to do.

10 am and still sleeping only to be jostled awake by Deb, singing a Hindi patriotic song. Realizing it wasn’t 15th of August as yet; an investigation was in order since we were right in the middle of English Land. Anyways, the inspiration behind the song was unsurprisingly a young white female right in the middle of our bathroom. Before your mind takes off let me tell you she was just one of the cleaning ladies. I don’t blame Deb for reacting in the way he did – to quote him - 'Pehli baar dekha hun kissi angrez ko bathroom saaf karte hue aur woh bhi Indian logon ka, maaza aa gaya.”

A white female in House no. 29 raised many an eyebrow and who would want to miss such an opportunity? For eg, Jags; our so called Sarpanch used all his talent to woo her by posing personal questions eventually to find out that she was a Columbian and lived with her brother in Bournemouth. Deb wasn’t far behind and turned out to quite a strong competitor. He jumped off his bed as soon as he heard Columbia and shouted "Shakiraaaaaaaaa!" and went on to tell the white lady how popular shakira is in India – The invasion of Deb irritated Jags who tried his best to off track the slim and trim Deb. Seeing the guys and their wooing antics - a senior cleaning lady interrupted and politely sent the Columbian on her way and took up the reins of cleaning our house. Disappointed but not outdone - Deb and Jags volleyed questions for her to tackle - Where can we club, pub and some bars which we could visit despite the fact that none of these guys booze.

Our main chef tam brahm- Veer was busy in his drinks and the newspaper collecting details about how to drive to Southampton as most of the Chevening scholars had to go for a shoot which we couldn’t manage to do on Wednesday. One of our female journalist friends Deepa was down with cold but seemed to have got back in shape, Neha has caught a cold and Deb too has been feeling down and has decided to skip dinner. Today at the boy’s house, cabbage potato curry, chapattis and curd rice was on the menu.

Well, Most of today went in shopping and hopping. A dull day apart from the funny incident that took place with the cleaning lady in the morning. Hope the next few days we have a gala time. Until next time then!

July 13, 2007

Bournemouth - Day 4

As promised here I am with another eventful day to talk about! Today, we took an hour's bus ride (driven by Adrin our camera instructor) for a special outstation shoot to Southampton - 37 miles from Bournemouth - UK 's busiest and most successful ports. Southampton is a natural deep-water harbour and its unique double tide allows unrestricted access for the world's largest vessel with facilities to handle virtually any type of cargo, making it the most preferred port for a wide range of customers and traders.
Our first stop was ' Unity 101 Community radio station '; a local, independent and voluntary organization which broadcasts Asian and ethnic community music and cultures to over 50,000 listeners. Ram Kalyan a.k.a. "Kelly" is the Station Manager of Unity 101 Community radio and the station reflects the needs and interests of local communities and aims to bring knowledge and understanding so listeners can participate more fully in a cohesive society. At the radio station Neha Bhatnagar and Deborshi Chaki turned into radio jockeys and gave us a glimpse of their completely new avatars. Being On Air for 10 minutes, they fell in love with the mouth piece and couldn't get enough of talking about apna Bollywood - the topic they were given by the show producer and anchor Srirupa Mukherjee. We had to literarily pull them out of the studio. Community radio is really an interesting medium which can make it big in India if implemented properly as Unity 101 does in the UK.

Our next stop was ' Oxford Street's Poppadom Express ' ; a famous restaurant where curry lovers across Hampshire enjoy a feast of spicy delights. This modern eatery is one of three branches across the south that offers tasty and unusual variations of authentic Indian dishes. As soon as you enter the Poppadom Express you are greeted by a cozy bar which tempts you with some appetizing pre-dinner drinks or you could simply put your feet up (not literally or the Brits would throw a fit) and relax after a satisfying meal. The dining area is spacious and inviting, and the staff is friendly and helpful.

After a few days of food cooked by us the Express turned out to be a blessing in disguise and in no time all of us were drooling to get a taste of the delicious, mouth watering Indian food. But, even before we could think of laying our hands on the food, Gail Foley; our course director had a long list of instructions about how to shoot a story in the restaurant. Being a kind soul, she understood our temptation for Indian food and let us explore. Well, let me begin! The best way to start your Popaddam journey is with a glass of house white wine, which costs £3.60 for a large glass, or a pint of lager for about £2.50 along with some fresh, crunchy poppadoms served with dips and sauces like mango chutney and chopped onions. But most of us except 'tam bram' Veer Raghav; (who tried hard to keep away) weren't interested in having a drink.

OK! so to start off we ventured at the starters section - an array of about 12 dishes to choose from, offering everything from mince samosas to onion bhajis. Diners can also opt for tandoori broccoli cauliflower - florets of the vegetables flavoured with garlic, yoghurt, black pepper and cardamom - or Jhinga Til Tinka, which includes sesame seed coated king prawns dipped in ginger, garlic and a lime and chilli marinade.

To move on, the main course offered traditional dishes such as Vindaloo, madras and korma meals, but the more adventurous can dabble in Venison Rogan Josh or chicken stuffed with olives and pimento. The Paneer Lababdar comes highly recommended, cooked in a rich, smooth gravy and is definitely worth a taste.For vegetarians, a delicious delight is Paneer Masala, a mixture of exotic paneer cooked in smooth, rich flavoured gravy. A suitable accompaniment is Tarka Daal, lentils cooked with garlic and garnished with a whole red chilli. Its soft texture and mild flavour complement other more spicy main dishes. To polish off this finger licking meal we opted for vegetarian pulao instead of the plain basmati rice which was tempered with cumin, fried onions and fresh coriander garnish.
Delicious! An afternoon nap would have taken us to heaven! But were denied.
Now that I have tickled your taste buds with quite a detailed description, it's time to get back to what we were actually there for. The shoot! Neha and I wanted to shoot a story - basically a profile of an Indian cook from Lucknow who has been working in UK for the last 6 years and has stayed away from his family. But to our chargin the chef sounded so bored about the whole idea that we decided to drop the story. Gail came to our rescue with an idea about doing a story on the florists right on the street occupied by restaurant. The lady looking after the shop was kind enough to talk to us about herself and gave us time to do the story. The story was colourful and deserved to be shot at length with a lot of other elements. So with a promise to be back on Saturday we left the lady to tend to her flowers.
On our way back we grabbed some really interesting Indian food like Chapattis. Tonight it would be chapattis with Alloo Gobi and the chef for the night at House no. 29 is Jajati Karan. Veer Raghav cooked some rice for himself and me as eventually we were South Indians and had to have our dose of Rice and how can Yogurt be far behind, waiting patiently for us in the fridge. Well quite a mouthwatering trip it was. It's time again for me to push off. That's it for now.

Bournemouth - Day 3

After several days of the sun being a spoilsport the town of Bournemouth finally showed signs of a sunny day pulling people out of their houses. An alien land; for me it was just another new day and the first thing that's on my mind is to rush to the single bathroom in the 5-bedded-house at the Bournemouth University campus. Any delay would see me waiting until the others could clear the bathroom eventually pushing my schedule on the back foot not only for the media class but also, brace yourselves, for washing dishes - a nightmare which is coming true for me now, simply owing to the fact that I am no cook. – Alas! I cannot escape the anger of Veer Raghav (a colleague from CNN IBN- Chennai) - our main chef since he doesn't like an untidy kitchen and inviting his ire means missing home cooked food - which I have started missing like anything.

To take off for a bit and acquaint you about where I am, I put up at the student village, house no. 29; a mere stone's throw away from the Bournemouth Media School with five colleagues - Veer Raghav whom I introduced to you earlier, Jajati Karan (Special Correspondent; CNN IBN - Orissa), Deborshi Chaki (Principal Correspondent; CNN IBNGuwahati) and Chayan Kundu (Special correspondent; Zee News - Kolkata.)

Getting back to where I left off, I rushed to the classroom, dressed in jeans, a cream t-shirt and a blazer, thinking that I was late for the day, but to my relief I saw my colleagues sitting on the second floor verandah - as the room was still locked. Being VERY much aware of my friends being capable of goof ups - I walked into the room to find our course director waiting for us. Jajati had mistaken the closed room as being locked.

Day 3 was for camera work and today all of us (5 boys and 5 girls) - were escorted to the city centre park for a new lesson – "How to shoot vox pops?" A lesson of the basics but when we handled the camera ourselves – My first resolution was to ever never shout at my cameraman back home. It is damn complicated to set the lights right with the aperture and the frame when the sun is hell bent on playing a game of hide and seek.

My project partner Neha Bhatnagar; an anchor in Aaj Tak and Headlines Today and a well known face in India is the youngest scholar in the course and would be turning 26 this September. I have a soft corner for her for reasons unknown and she never hesitates to ask questions however silly they may be. She makes me realize how important it is to come forward and clear your issues when in doubt.

Neha and I sat near the Bournemouth Eye; a huge air balloon, with Neha fiddling with the camera to get the adjustments right. She went all out and approached people and convinced them to talk to us for our brief project - on camera work. After and effortful hour we complete our project and Neha, as usual enthusiastically used the remaining time to familiarize herself with the camera by shooting a few more sequences. When we got back to where the others had been waiting, I learnt my first lesson - Brits hate running late. So be punctual! Nevertheless, Gail Foley- our course leader took the three of us back to the university in her convertible - this drive gave a lovely feeling which inspired me to take out my cell phone and click a few shots while on the move. Gail looked cool while Maha and Neha posed for some snaps for me.

Once back at the media school – the 'vox pop's shoots were reviewed. Andrew - the camera instructor- liked the various shoots to a certain extent and appreciated us for showing improvement.
We had to let go of a screening session as we were getting late for the day.

Jajati rushed to the room as it was his turn to cook and Pawan bali (CNN IBN Jammu) was kind enough to offer me hot tea. Pawan is kind of person one would like to spend time with and never be bored. An intelligent woman with a lot of affection and emotions bundled up but at the same time a strong configuration of humanity- in simple terms she knows her character as a human being.
Veer Raghav walked into the girl's room which falls just opposite our house and started humming some lovely Hindi songs making us feel that we are back home in India. To save the day Pawan was quick enough to put on some music on her laptop as Veer Raghav - a Tam Braham - as we call him was getting out sorts sipping at his peg of whiskey.

It has been a long Wednesday and I have to hit the bed as tomorrow sure is going to be another long one. But it promises to be an interesting one as we will be moving to Southampton for a visit to a radio station and shoot a story at a local restaurant as part of our programme. Well I have promises to keep before I sleep so see you tomorrow!