December 17, 2009

"India has a role to play as a strong US ally"

United States believes India has a role to play as a strong U.S. ally and partner across a range of global challenges, from economic dislocation to energy security, climate change, the spread of deadly weapons and terrorism. The blocks on the road of the civilian nuclear deal between states and India is also nearing to clearance.
In an exclusive interview Hyderabad – Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake said the both countries feel that they have a significant opportunity now to take the strategic partnership to the next level. Blake said the US and India are working very closely, especially after the 26/11, in confronting the common enemy.
On nuclear deal, Blake said that both countries are making good progress though still certain things are to be done. Some negotiations are going on and things are moving in right direction.
On why US is insisting on third party mediation on Kashmir issue, Blake categorically denied it and added that the matter has to be bilaterally solved between the two countries.
Interestingly, United States does not want India to involve in security issues of Afghanistan as it may lead to complications in the South Asian region. However, the civilian help extended by India is well appreciated by the states. Blake who is in-charge of South and Central Asian Affairs in the State Department maintained that 1.2 billion dollar assitance from India in civilian sector in Afghanistan is appreciated as India is working closely in Afghanistan’s development.
To a question on US softening its stand on Taliban, he said in his judgment many Taliban fighters were opportunistic and not fighting out of any conviction. They are fighting because Taliban are paying them better remuneration than they could get from agriculture or other occupations. Therefore, if the livelihood opportunities with higher returns could be developed, they would give up fighting.
"The threat to American troops and the Indian contractors and workers in Afghanistan is coming from Tahreek-e-Taliban, Pakistan (TTP) that is based in Swat, South Waziristan and Queta. Pakistan has to make concerted efforts to tackle this danger", he said.The US is helping Pakistan, the same way it is doing with Afghanistan, in improving the security situation, educational and health facilities and build up economic opportunities so as to lure away people from falling into the hands of militants. For this reason, it is giving that country a heavy annual dose of $1.5 billion in civil aid, he explained.
Blake was in Hyderabad over the weekend. He had arrived in the city via Chennai after a visit to Sri Lanka. A senior career diplomat, he has served in India and Sri Lanka before being appointed as Assistant Secretary of State.

October 16, 2009


The mothers of Haryana have a simple message for men who call on their daughters: “No toilet, no bride.”

The slogan - often lengthened in Hindi to “If you don't have a proper lavatory in your house, don't even think about marrying my daughter” - has been plastered across villages in the region as part of a drive to boost the number of pukka facilities. In a country where more households have TV sets than lavatories, it is one of the most successful efforts to combat the chronic shortage of proper plumbing.

In India it is estimated that more than 660 million people still defaecate in the open - a big cause of a host of diseases, from diarrhoea to polio. It is women, activists say, who suffer the most. “Women who must go outside have to do so before sunrise or after nightfall so they can't be seen,” said Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of Sulabh, which has built toilets for ten million Indians, and the recipient of this year's Stockholm Water Prize for developing ecofriendly and cheap lavatories to help to improve public health.

Suresh Devi, 52, a resident of Shahar Malpur village near Panipat, about 100 km from New Delhi, had been forced to defecate in the open till not so long ago, as there was no toilet in her home. But when her daughter got married, she made sure the bride had a toilet in her new home.

"My in-laws did not have a toilet at home and nor did my parents. Everybody at home used to go to the fields for defecation. We never had a toilet at home until the village panchayat (council) got one made last year.

"When I got my youngest daughter Sonia married off I made sure that there was a toilet in the household. After all one has to look after hygiene," Suresh, a member of a family that is below the poverty line, said.

"Our daughter will be married only to a family that has a toilet at home. This slogan dramatically decreased the percentage of people holding out against the construction of new toilets," chuckled 70-year-old Satwant Kaur of Khanpur Koliyan, a village in the neighbouring Kurukshetra district, about 150 km from the national capital.

It has been nearly four years since the Haryana government embarked on a campaign to create awareness about sanitation among the masses through radio jingles, television advertisements, posters and banners.

Walls in many villages have been painted with slogans in Hindi reading - "Na byahun beti us ghar mein jismein na ho shauchalaya (Won't get my daughter married into a household which does not have a toilet)."

Women's rights activists call the program a revolution as it spreads across India's vast and largely impoverished rural areas.

Meanwhile, bachelor guys are having a tough time here.

"I will have to work hard to afford a toilet. We won't get any bride if we don't have one now," said Rajesh Singh, 24, who is hoping to marry soon. Neem tree branches hung in the doorway of his parents' home, a sign of pride for a family with sons. "I won't be offended when the woman I like asks for a toilet."

September 5, 2009

Emotional fans of YSR giving up lives

ATTACHMENT AND emotions towards politicians are common in the country like India. But giving up life for their beloved leader is something unprecedented. But South India is known for it. Earlier it was MG Ramchandran, the chief minister of Tamil Nadu – popularly known as MGR and now Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Y S Rajasekhar Reddy also called YSR broke all the records.

In an exceptional show of love for any politician in the history on India – at least 141 people have (including suicides) because they were unable to bear the trauma of the loss of their leader and Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Dr Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy. While on December 27, 1987 – 30 people committed suicide and lakhs tonsured their heads across Tamil Nadu following the demise of MGR

Similarly, many people tried to self immolate and commit suicide when AIADMK leader Jayalalitha was arrested and also during the arrest of DMK supreme M Karunanidhi such reports came to fore.

But the aftermath of YSR’s death is something unheard of in any part of the world.
One hundred and fifteen people died of cardiac failure and another 26 committed suicide after the chief minister died in a tragic helicopter crash deep in the Nallamala jungle.

While 42 people died on the first day (Thursday) soon after news of YSR’s death reached them, the toll went up to 141 on Friday as many could not bear the shock of their leader’s demise. All TV news channels beamed live the funeral procession and last rites, throwing people into a state of what psychologists described as "mass hysteria".

Psychiatrists explain the unprecedented number of deaths to the slow build-up of mental trauma and suppression of emotions over a period of 24 to 48 hours. The news of YSR’s helicopter disappearing was flashed on Wednesday afternoon and this caused mental agony and tension to his admirers. This state continued for a full day, heightening the trauma.

"People are attracted to leaders not only by their policies and programmes, but also by their personalities, the way they speak, dress and talk to them. This gradually creates a sort of hero worship and, when something tragic happens, they cannot bear the loss. This leads to mass hysteria," said renowned psychiatrist Dr Ella Rao. Se said there would have been mass violence had the news broken suddenly. "Now people are killing themselves.

In case the news of death emerged the same day, people would have resorted to violence, killing others. They would have made someone their target of attack and would have taken to the streets."

Despite appeals to the people by chief minister K. Rosaiah and YSR’s son, Kadapa MP Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, to not resort to suicide, the death roll kept increasing on Friday.

Twenty-three people died due to shock in Warangal district, while in East Godavari 14 people succumbed to shock and two committed suicide. Six people died in Krishna and three in Adilabad. In Narsapuram in West Godavari district, an MRPS activist climbed up a cell tower and threatened to end his life if Mr Jagan Mohan Reddy was not made chief minister.

The toll, district-wise, is Nalgonda 11, Medak 11, Mahbubnagar six, Karimnagar eight, West Godavari three, Prakasam six, Nellore and Chittoor seven each, Visakhapatnam five, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam five each, Hyderabad three and Nizamabad seven.

In Kadapa, a head constable died of a heart attack after watching the funeral procession on TV. The constable was a fan of Rajasekhar Reddy. He had been upset for the last two days

August 1, 2009

Once More Removed

Grit, determination and sheer focus helped 26-year-old Shundell Prasad to trace her family tree back to the 1800s. The process took her a tedious three years.
New York-based Indo-Guyanese film maker, Shundell Prasad, was at her final year in New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts when she decided to make a film on something she was always curious about— her identity.
She traveled three continents in search of her roots. “It is a great feeling to know about one’s roots,” she revealed.
Her journey to trace her roots in now in the form of a documentary film – Once more removed- a journey back to India.
When asked why she wanted to find her roots – prompt came the reply from her – “I started researching this film while I was still in university, simply because I wanted to know why I looked Indian, but did not have any connections or ties with India.
"I am a descendent of the people who were transported from India 150 years ago to inhabit what was then known as British Guyana, as indentured servants for the British Empire," she said.
Prasad's journey in the film begins from Queens, NY and then to the sweltering sugar cane fields of Guyana.
"I have managed to exhume my forefather's 19th Century ship records from the massive vaults of Guyana's record room. These records were a huge discovery, as they became my navigational map back to India."
She further says: "My expedition into mapping the pattern of migration backwards to India's remote villages is very exciting. Based on the information extracted from the ship records, we pursue India's northeastern belt. We travel to the two main areas in India that were part of Indian Sepoy Mutiny of 1857: Bihar and East Uttar Pradesh."
"In Bihar, I found my roots in Muzaffarpur. In Uttar Pradesh, I found relatives of my father in Azamgarh. It is here, in India, that I am graciously welcomed back to my ancestral homeland. It is stranger than fiction to come face to face with my relatives who live in dire poverty. It is here that I realize the spirit and dignity of these people," said Prasad.
Prasad was six when her parents immigrated from Guyana to the US, making her a second-generation Guyanese. However, given that her forefathers were migrant settlers in Guyana from India, makes Prasad an Indo- Guyanese. “Knowing I was a Guyanese of Indian origin created a lot of conflict about my identity,” says Prasad. “ I was also fascinated about India and where I came from in India.” She adds that neither her parents nor her grandparents had the answers to the questions she posed about her true identity.
"It was stranger than fiction to come face to face with my relatives who live in dire poverty. It was here that I realised how removed I had become", she says. The documentary has a 90-minute product for the world to see

June 22, 2009

Dad - I Miss you

SUNDAY was Father’s Day and for the first time in my life I missed my father. I never knew how much important he was to me. What all I could achieve in my life was due to him. He never questioned he never asked he just showed path. My dad I miss you.
Two months have passed
I’ll never forget the day
Someone rang to tell me
That you’d gone away

The hurt is the same
Like an open wound
There are days
I don’t utter a sound

Some days the pain is stronger
It makes me sick and weak
I can’t stand this much longer
I just sit here and weep

I’ve shut my private door
And let no one in
Locking myself in a box
They try, but I won’t give in

You were like a rock
Strong, faithful and true
What worth has my life
Now I don’t have you

I always loved you
My dad, my star
Now my pain is
To worship you from afar

I love you now
As I did back then
I just hope... one day
I will see you again

I am so proud of you
Brave and strong to the end
Now when asked “how are you?”
There is no need to pretend

We all love and miss you so much, sleep well
and take care of all who went before you

Forever in my heart x

June 9, 2009


ON WHAT’S going down under - INDIANS are divided in Australia on the issue and particularly on the word ‘RACISM’. Students are labeling it as racist attacks. Students want to label it as racism and so do the media but those permanent residents and citizens categorically deny it.
I was in Melbourne for around two weeks covering the story of attacks on Indian students in Australia. Baring couple of incidents – I would definitely raise my voice that it is not racism but a deliberate attempt to scare the Indian students. Who are those involved in the attack? That’s a question – police and even the Ozzie government has to answer to pacify the issue.

Here I am reproducing a story, which I penned for a local newspaper in India last week:

GURLEEN GULATI was flying high when she was selected for a master’s course in Swinburne University in Melbourne eight months back. She had plans to bring her younger brother to Australia for further education. But now everything has changed. “I will never allow my brother to come here, this place is no safer for Indian students a,” she stressed.
Over seven students all from India were attacked in Melbourne in last 10 days. And attacks are still on. Racism is the tag word being used while the Australian government refuses it stating that Indians are soft target.
There are 90,000 Indians studying in Australia. Education of foreign students has become big business in Australia, generating 15.5 billion Australian dollars (US$12.54 billion) in 2008. And Indians now make up 25% of students, up from just fewer than 10% in 1997. The tertiary-education sector is now the nation's third-largest export earner behind coal and iron ore. In Victoria state, education is the biggest export earner. The number of Indian students has doubled in the past three years, with two-thirds studying at private colleges.
Gautam Gupta, spokesman for the Federation of Indian Students of Australia said that violence against the foreign students has been escalating over the past four years. In Victoria state, police said 1,447 people of Indian origin were victims of crimes such as robberies and assaults in the year ending June 30, 2008, an increase from 1,082 in the previous year.
Now Indian students studying in Melbourne and Sydney are getting phone calls from families concerned for their safety in the wake of recent attacks against Indian student. “ I do not want to stay here. I came here last September and now I want to go back,” Anil Kumar, a student from Hyderabad informed. He said attacks on Indians are widespread and they are fearful to travel, especially at night.
Meanwhile, a sense of uneasiness is gripping Indian community, with suggestions and rumours flowing thick and fast. In absence of any common platform to share information or to give suggestions, SMS service has emerged as a major source of communication among Indian community in Victoria.
A SMS which was making round on the night of rally asked Indians to join the protest. “Guys show ur support and come to Fed Sqr, there’s been one more attack on an Indian student in Hoppers Crossing today and there this evening they entered in Gurudwara n beat one lady and her husband. Our 3 guys have been arrested, but the offenders are still free. It is time to raise our voice, plz forward this to all.” Another, which started circulating early Tuesday morning, asked Indians to sit in one carriage. “To travel safely all Indians are to travel in the first compartment known as Desi Dabba of the train. That way we can be in numbers and help each other at any time day or night. Plus introduce yourself to other Indians that travel with you everyday at same time and going to same place, Plz forward to all Indian community.”
It is difficult to ascertain source of these SMSes, and thus the validity of the claims they make. However, such messages are adding fuel to already panicked Indian population. In India, Australia is being labeled a racist nation in media reports, a claim made a number of times in recent years around Asia. "There is a definite risk that this violence will affect the flow of students," said Andrew Smith, national executive officer of the Australian Council for Private Education and Training, which represents private vocational colleges. He added that "the majority of students have a safe and enjoyable time" while studying in Australia and those one in five students seek to settle here after graduation. Still, he said, the reports of the attacks hurt the nation's reputation. Now not only the students’ community but also those who have got permanent residents are also worried. Srilakshmi is married to Chandrasekhar in Melbourne is also worried. “When I came here two years back things were normal but now suddenly these attacks have created an atmosphere of fear,” she said. Australia Government has asserted that hate crimes would be considered offensive and a task force would look into the cases of attacks on Indian students.

March 1, 2009

Girl in Oscar film turned prostitute

A FRIEND of mine from UK called up the day after Slumdog Millionaire won 8 Oscars. He wanted to know whether the children living in Asia’s largest slums – Dharavi in Mumbai, would have a better future, now that the film has exposed the pathetic living conditions of the slum. Would the Oscars to the movie showing these children provoke some thoughts in the minds of the government to take some measures to better the things for the slum children? I simply said ‘NO’.
And the next moment I was on phone assigning a story to our news desk in Kolkata to track the whereabouts of a girl in a red light area who rose to limelight after a documentary – “Born in Brothels” got accolades from across the world and also an Oscar in 2005.
“Is she enjoying a new life? Did Oscars change her fate? Is she happy?” Cascades of such thoughts were wrestling in my head. But an hour later I was told that the story was lined up as they had tracked the girl in Asia’s largest red light area, Sonagachi.

Puja is her name and she is 18. She was one of the nine children who were part of the Oscar-winning documentary Born Into Brothels, directed by Ms Zana Briski. The film won 20 international awards. How is Puja? Has the Oscar recognition changed her life at all?
The story is disheartening to say the least. Fate hasn't spared Puja. She has slipped into the same formidable pit. She got sucked into the sex trade just a year after her brush with the Oscars. She was barely in her teens. 'It seems like a fairy tale now. I still see it in my dreams. I get goose bumps when I remember the heart-stopping moment when the award was announced,” she told my correspondent at her house in Kolkata.
"All of us kept screaming with joy. Zana aunty made sure we too went along to collect the statuette. My head was swimming, there were so many eyes on us, the deafening applause, so many cameras flashing...' Puja said.
While the children were in Los Angeles, Ms Briski and others tried their best to help them lead new lives. Puja was in High School then. The children took part in the documentary got an offer to stay back in the US and study. Some did. But Puja backed out.
'Aunty (Zana) gave a lot of money by cheque to my mother and asked her to release me, but she was unwilling. I am a girl and the only child; my mother wouldn't let go. Call it family pressure if you will. It's quite simple, really,' Puja said with a dismissive shrug followed by a short helpless laugh.
'So, you see me here.'
Dressed in jeans and a trendy shirt, Puja could pass for any other college student, until the whiff of smoke and alcohol in her breath hits you.
She is adamant about staying in the sex-trade.
'At this age, I have a flat, a laptop, costly phones and plenty of money. What do I lack?' she asked.
'Zana aunty and I are in touch by e-mail. She was upset that I, too, had joined the trade like my mother, something she wanted to save me from.
'But this trade has really paid off for me.'
A sign of her 'prosperity' - she has rented rooms in Prem Kamal, one of the most expensive Sonagachhi buildings. Mother Rakhi lives in the opposite building.
Puja pays for her living expenses. Her mother says she wanted a 'normal' life for Preeti. She still has a fading photo of Preeti with the Oscar statuette stuck on the wall.
'That is all I have left of her...' she said looking at it, as tears welled in her eyes.

Born into Brothels, by Ross Kauffman and Zana Briski, is the winner of the 77th annual Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. A tribute to the resiliency of childhood and the restorative power of art, Born into Brothels is a portrait of several unforgettable children who live in the red light district of Calcutta, where their mothers work as prostitutes. Zana Briski, a New York-based photographer, gives each of the children a camera and teaches them to look at the world with new eyes.

February 27, 2009


The above photographs were clicked at Gir Lions Sanctuary.

February 19, 2009


READ somewhere that Greece saw its last lion shortly after the birth of Christ. Most of the countries in the world have no presence of lions. Apart from Africa the only place where Asiatic lions, a regal subspecies, can be spotted is in the Gir forest in Gujarat (India).

IT was not planned nor was it there on the itinerary of my visit to Gujarat last week. It just happened. My passion to witness the Asiatic lions made me maneuver my work time and sneak into the Sasan Gir Forest Reserve – the only place, outside Africa, where lions can be still seen in full flesh and ferocity. It was created in 1913 and accorded the sanctuary status in 1965.

Before taking the 8-hour-long drive to Gir – I was told that it was not easy to actually witness the royal animal due to the fact that they are in small number spread over a large area; a 300 of them spread over 1000 sq kms area.

As you stroll into their natural habitat, it takes no time at all to realize why lions have come to stand for royalty and greatness. A tiger will slink through the forest unseen, but a lion stands its ground, curious and unafraid—lionhearted.

It takes hours and sometimes days around the dry forest and bumpy roads to track lions. I was lucky as it took me only 2 hours to see two big Asiatic lions walking majestically on the muddy track leaving behind pugmarks denoting that they control the expanse.

One of the forest guards told me that the lions were least bothered about the presence of humans near them. They just live royally unmindful of whoever is in the vicinity. The lion trackers follow these epic animals wielding a wooden stick in their hands – their job is to ensure that they are physically fine.

It was a breathtaking moment when I finally got close to a pride of Asiatic lions. Fear didn't grip me even for a moment when the big cat straddled gracefully; just a couple of feet away from me. A thrilling moment, indeed!

I chided myself for not being equipped with a professional camera to capture that never to be relived moment of my life. I managed to click few photos with a small digital camera and was happy with one particular frame when the Asiatic lion was crossing the road.

I have got to thank my friend – Kalpak Kekre – channel head of TV9 Gujarat, for facilitating such a fulfilling experience. He took off time to accompany me to Gir. Kalpak informed me that the Gir lions would most likely have disappeared by now, were it not for the Nawab of Junagadh. At the turn of the 20th century the Nawab saved the lions by declaring that any one wanted to hunt the lion in Gir required the royal license. It was not an entirely selfless effort. In order for him to continue to kill a few lions for sport, he needed to save many. Thanks to his 'license raj' there are about 300 lions still alive today in and around the Gir Forest, treating the eyes of many a curious eye.

February 2, 2009

White Blanket Over London

LONDON, 2007. I stayed at Bakers Street for sometime couple of years back. I heard ample of time about the bad weather in this part of the world. True! Come summer and it was raining.
I wondered does it ever snow in the capital of Britain. I was told most of Londoners have had never seen snow on the London streets since long, long and long time indeed. And if I had the fascination for snow then London was not the place to be. But I stayed. Completed my work. And left with a bit of disappointment of seeing all weathers except the white coloured flakes on the streets and on the rooftops and on the trees. And now when I am not there “SNOW” is smiling …...ooops it’s laughing all over the place. Londoners are witnessing heaviest snowfall in 20 years, which they never ever dreamt off. Tubes are jammed, buses are not plying and my friends called me to inform they are not going to office and having all the fun in this WHTE WEATHER. HO! SNOW you cheated me. I am missing you.

Falling Snow
See the pretty snowflakes Falling from the sky,
On the wall and housetops soft and thick they lie. On the window ledges,
On the branches bare,
Now how fast they gather, Filling all the air. Look into the garden,
Where the grass was green;
Covered by the snowflakes, Not a blade is seen.
Now the bare black bushes, All look soft and white,
Every twig is laden - What a pretty sight!

January 30, 2009

QUITE yet fascinating FLORENCE

I WAS standing on Ponte Vecchio bridge in Florence (Italy). And doing what – singing a song in Chhattisgarhi dialect. It was a dream that I had last night.Vague! Absurd! Why did I see such a dream – I spoke to myself.
Later I realized an old friend of mine from my hometown - Raipur (Chhattisgarh) called me up the other day to inquire about visiting Florence. He wanted to record some visuals in Florence for his new Chhattisgarhi music album.
I spent quite a few days in Florence in October 2007. I wrote a lot about Florence and more I write more inquisitive I become.
There is poem by William Wordsworth which reminds of Florence:Earth has not anything to show more fair:

Dull would he be of soul who could pass byA sight so touching in its majesty:This City now doth, like a garment wearThe beauty of the morning; silent, bare,Ships, towers, domes, theaters, and temples lieOpen unto the fields, and to the sky;All bright and glittering in the smokeless air।Never did sun more beautifully steepIn his first splendor valley, rock, or hill;Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!The river glideth at his own sweet will।Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;And all that mighty heart is lying still!

I am not writing much on visiting Florence but would love to upload some photos I clicked while walking through the streets of this city, which is not as exciting as Rome or Venice but this capital of Tuscany region has something to offer to those travelers who love the essence of old cities। And mind you the maestro – Leonardo Di Vinci spent lot of time here and eventually went on to paint his all time masterpieces MONA LISA।Micheal Angelo’s David is also in Florence.

January 28, 2009

Swami Ramdev Baba : SIZE ZERO

GETTING UP at 4 am on a chilly day has never been my cup of tea. But instructions from my top boss to go and meet India's one of the top celebrity Yoga gurus and interview him for our group of channels – made me break my tradition of not waking up before the sunrise.

BABA RAMDEV - clad from head to foot in orange robes, his early morning television show pulls in 20 million viewers in India alone, and there are the usual video and summer camp spin-offs, as well as the more unusual ones, like yoga cruises.
He is in Hyderabad for a week-long session. And on Wednesday morning (January 28, 2009) - I made my way to his camp and waited for him to conclude his 3-hour session.
The moment he got down from the podium – I posed my first question – "Bollywood and Size Zero – what is your take on it,"- Unusual question at a very unusual time – but this gentleman is known to speak on any issue under the sun.
"Size zero is not healthy," pop came the response from the Swamiji. Giving up food to attain a sexy figure is not advisable, he said and added that such figure could be accomplished through yoga. There are various methods in yoga by which one can get the much-publicized 'SIZE ZERO', Baba Ramdev said. Pranayam, Kapal bhati, lom vilom can help one achieve the desired figure, the yoga guru specified.
Swamiji is also known to have many friends in Bollywood. His favourites are Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini and Akshay Kumar to name some. He revealed these names with his convention élan and also added that they all are his yoga lovers.
Baba Ramdev also spoke on politicians and their fitness and cricketers…THAT I will mention in another write up. Right now I want to keep this piece on SIZE ZERO only.
SO babes – if you want to try attaining size zero please do heed to BABA's advice….YOGA ....with loads of meditation and a glass full of LAUKI (bottle gourd ) juice every morning.
# Size zero, commonly used to refer to people with very low body mass index, refers to a clothing size in U.S. brands.
#A woman with waist size 23 inches, hip size 32 inches and bust around 31 inches would qualify to be called size zero.
#Crash diets to achieve size zero can have repercussions on your health -- from heart attacks to renal failures.
#Uruguay model Luisel Ramos sparked off the debate on size zero. Soon after stepping down from the ramp after a fashion show in 2006, she was found dead following a heart attack. International fashion shows then stayed away from models with BMIs less than 18, an unhealthy number as per the guidelines of World Health Organisation.
#In India, though a number of models fit into the slender category, many have been successful without having to be reed thin. Sisters Tapur and Tupur, modelturned- actors Koena Mitra and Katrina Kaif fit the bill.

January 24, 2009

The Thrill Ride

If the thrill of riding in a metal cabin with no doors, no seat belts and no airbags on treacherous Indian roads doesn't scare you, then the auto-wallah's driving skills definitely will! Riding an auto rickshaw is a bit like riding a roller coaster except you stay firmly on the ground with no definite track

Last afternoon I took an auto rickshaw to office. It was completely a new experience for me as I don’t remember when the last time I had the experience to board an auto rickshaw.

I still remember my niece once described auto rickshaw as a notorious metal shell, on 3 wheels much like a scooter with three wheels with a motor that sounds like a western lawn mower! - The Auto Rickshaw.

Even though auto rickshaws are said have a top-speed of around 50 km/h (about 31 mph), it definitely doesn't seem like it and I doubt it's true especially when you’re zipping past cars and bikes at much higher speeds leaving them in a cloud of smoke. You can sometimes feel the G-forces pulling you as the auto-wallah makes a tight turn. They're driven the way you would a bumper car at a carnival.They zig-zag and weave through traffic unafraid of bigger vehicles or pedestrians and are notorious for playing chicken by driving on the wrong side of the road with oncoming traffic. And just when you think it couldn't get any worse, if the gap between two cars or buses in front of you is seemingly impossible to fit into...think again! The auto wallah will surprise you by daringly maneuvering their rickshaw into the tightest imaginable spaces in traffic. So much so that you can literally touch the vehicle beside you by sticking out a finger!For people in Hyderabad and other cities of India, these monsters on the road are more like anybody's daily affair. People from abroad see them as a cute, loving vehicle on the road. Foreigners don't forget to take a ride on them while visiting the rustic side of this country.

Anyways, after 30 minutes of scary ride I managed to reach destination in one piece. Don’t know when I would dare to board the auto for another thrill ride of my life…….