Instant Indian — a review

Instant Indian — a review

Publication date: October 2nd, 2018 Genres: Recipes, Cookbooks, Cooking
Rating: 5 stars
Discover favorite foods from all over India with the first regional Indian cookbook authorized by Instant Pot!
Rinku Bhattacharya — cookbook author and founder of Spice Chronicles — has put together a collection of 100 authentic recipes that showcase the diversity and range of the foods of India, where every state and region boasts its own unique dishes. Whether you crave takeout favorites or want to be introduced to lesser-known specialties, this cookbook brings the best of India to your table in an instant!
The Instant Pot ® lends itself perfectly to Indian recipes, making flavorful, nutritious Indian fare (like simmering-all-day dals, legumes and all manner of curries) in minutes instead of hours. Instant Indian features numerous vegetarian and vegan options , and nearly all recipes are gluten-free.
With step-by-step instructions and color photos throughout, Instant Indian makes Indian cooking easy and fool-proof using all the functions of this popular appliance. Amazon US / Amazon UK REVIEW
Just like with my previous review of Bhattacharya’s books, when I was offered a chance to review this cookbook, I jumped on it. Of course…I didn’t look very closely and realized after it arrived that I had signed up to review a book that was strictly recipes for an appliance I didn’t have. *gasp* I made plans to borrow one from a coworker, but as luck would have it a store nearby was going out of business. So when they dropped all their stock to 50-80% off, I hightailed it over and snagged one of my own at about 1/3 the price (it’s an off-brand, but I’m not complaining…I needed a rice cooker anyway). So while I was admiring my shiny new toy, I handed the cookbook to my 9 year old and told her to pick something she wanted to try. About an hour later, she brought the book back open to a page and said, “This one.” I was shocked, honestly. It looked like a green, soupy mess that she normally wouldn’t touch with a hazmat suit on, but looking over the ingredients, I realized it was perfect.
I live in a rural, small town and finding the right ingredients can sometimes be a pain. However everything on the list was something I could easily find in the local store. She chose Saag Murgh (p. 174)…otherwise known as “Mom’s Chicken Curry with Seasonal Greens.” It does ask for boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I knew I should snagged some from Costco), for which I subbed boneless, skinless chicken breast because I absolutely HATE deboning chicken. I also realized (because I left my list at home) that I forgot the lime juice and didn’t get cilantro. I subbed lemon juice for the lime juice and just eliminated the cilantro. Also, because my kids complain about the spice-heat levels of food, I decided to sub paprika for cayenne.
Despite all these changes, it was still delicious and both munchkins approved and ate a full bowl. My house STILL smells like this (rather delicious stew, not soup)…and I’m not complaining. It is strongly reminiscent of Moroccan Harira in flavor profile. The cinnamon adds a sweetness while the sauteed cumin seeds balance it with an almost smoky hint (that might be because there was an emergency of the 4 year old variety while I was sauteeing and they got a little dark…but I’m going with intentional). All-in-all, this book will be added to the popular rotation for when we want something new. I’ve already bookmarked a couple other recipes to try.
As for the book itself, I can’t really complain about anything. Short stories about the development of each recipe are at the top, followed by the usual servings/prep and cook times. Added to that is dietary notes, denoting whether a recipe is gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, etc. I’d say a good chunk of the recipes are GF. The instructions are simple and easy to follow. Bhattacharya includes notes about how she goes about doing things (like using a food processor to mince leafy greens) and most recipes contain 3-5 steps total. Something I do miss is that not every recipe has a picture, but the images that are included are well-placed and make everything look delicious. The first chapter has some geographical background on cuisine and spice guide, while the second chapter lets you get truly adventurous with recipes for staples like your own yogurt, evaporated milk, spice mixes, and naan.
If you have one of these contraptions that everybody is ga-ga over, but are wondering how to incorporate a more interesting meal plan into actually using it, I definitely recommend Instant Indian by Rinku Bhattacharya. The cover isn’t lying when it says “Classic foods from every region of India made easy.” I think my total prep time was 20 minutes, and that’s because I hand-grated my ginger and realized about half-way through that my grater needs to have the blades bent back a bit. Click the link above to grab your copy today.
About Rinku Bhattacharya
Rinku Bhattacharya (spicechronicles.com) was born in India, and now lives in a house with a vibrant backyard in Hudson Valley, New York with her husband, an avid gardener, and their two children. Rinku’s simple, sustainable approach to Indian cooking is showcased on her blog, Spice Chronicles, and in her Journal News column “Spices and Seasons.” Rinku has been teaching recreational cooking classes for the past nine years, and works extensively with local area farmer’s markets on seasonal demonstrations and discussions. Rinku is also the author of The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles (Hippocrene Books, 2012), winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2013 for Best Indian Cuisine. She writes for the Poughkeepsie Journal, the Journal News, and several online sites, and is a frequent guest on CT Style TV.

Read More…

India doubles import quota for pulse imports- minister By Reuters

India doubles import quota for pulse imports- minister NEW DELHI, June 11 (Reuters) – India has decided to double the import quota for pigeon peas and sell some stocks on to the market to bolster the supply and prevent any shortages of the lentil, a staple in Indian cuisine, the food minister said on Tuesday.
The import quota will rise to 400,000 tonnes and the government will sell up to 200,000 tonnes of the lentils into the local market, Ram Vilas Paswan said via Twitter.
The government will also import 175,000 tonnes of pigeon peas from Mozambique, Paswan said.
India doubles import quota for pulse imports- minister

Read More…

18 Muslim-Friendly Eateries In Bali For Your Next Food Adventure (By Popular Areas)

18 Muslim-Friendly Eateries In Bali For Your Next Food Adventure (By Popular Areas)
Iyesha on June 11, 2019 Save Tweet
Bali has been a popular destination for travellers all around the world, and with its amazing number of sceneries and activities, we totally understand why 😊 Between beautiful Balinese beach resorts, water activities, hiking through lush green scenery, and enjoying the local culture, there’s is more than plenty to do at this wonderful destination for families, friends, solo travellers and honeymooners!
Credit: Giphy
And not to forget, Bali also offers some of the best culinary experience ranging from dining like a local in traditional cafes (or warungs ), chic boutique cafes, and beautiful luxurious restaurants 😍 There’s plenty to savour and enjoy in this foodie-worthy destination!
We’ve compiled 18 eateries across 7 top areas in Bali for your next Balinese food adventure!
1. Batik Bali
Credit: @batik_restaurant_bar on Instagram
Located right at Seminyak’s famous Eat Street is the beautiful Batik Bali. Although the restaurant is named after the Indonesian material craftmanship, Batik , the place is anything but old and traditional. Instead, feast your eyes on one of the most stunning interior designs in town with white decor, high ceilings, tiled walls, and a touch of green 😍
And not to forget their delicious cuisine from various parts of Southeast Asia such as Indonesia (of course!), Vietnam, and Thailand!
Credit: @batik_restaurant_bar on Instagram
Address: Jalan Kayu Aya, Seminyak, Kerobokan Kelod, Kec. Kuta Utara, Bali, 80361, Indonesia Opening hours: 11am – 12am daily Contact: +62 361 735171
2. Queen’s Tandoor
Credit: @queenstandoor on Instagram
Just because you’re in Bali doesn’t mean you’re limited to Indonesian food. Queen’s Tandoor in Seminyak offers some of the most authentic and tastiest Indian cuisines in town. Rich spicy curries with meat or fish, delicious dhals , and fragrant saffron rice? Count us in! Or if you’re craving for a lighter meal instead, try their fluffy naans , chapatis or chicken tandoori instead. There’s plenty of options available 😊 Their food is prepared by skilled chefs from India, so you can rest assured that your meal will be a fantastic one!
#HHWT tip: Try the chicken handi , it’s one of their top sellers consisting of chicken curry cooked in a clay pot and served with naan bread.
Credit: @queenstandoor on Instagram
Address: Jl. Raya Seminyak No.1/73, Seminyak, Kuta, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia 11.30pm daily Contact: +62 361 732770
3. Nasi Pedas Ibu Andika
Credit: @stephaniejaya on Instagram
Indulge in authentic Javanese food and Nasi Pedas Ibu Andika, which literally translates to Mrs Andika’s Spicy Rice, so you can be sure the food is tongue-kicking spicy 🌶 The sambal at this warung is not only known for its spiciness, but also for its mixture with local herbs, giving it a unique yet delightful taste for spice lovers.
For those who are not keen on spicy food, don’t worry, you can always request for the sambal to be served separately, or totally forego it… if you really must.
Another fantastic thing about the waring is that it’s open 24 hours! So, if you have midnight hunger pangs or your flight lands in Bali in the middle of the night and you’re starving – Nasi Pedas Ibu Andika is the place to be 😎
Credit: @ajikomangayutrisna on Instagram
Food status: Halal meat available Address: Jalan Patih Jelantik Ruko No.9, Legian, Kuta, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80232, Indonesia Opening hours: 24 hours
4. Cafe De Dapoer at The Rhadana Kuta Bali Hotel
Credit: @themuslimahtraveller on Instagram
Nestled in the quaint green courtyard of The Rhadana Kuta Bali Hotel is this hidden halal gem, Cafe De Dapoer. This serene restaurant served authentic and delicious Javanese cuisine and even has beautiful wooden Javanese-inspired decor to get you in the Bali mood 😍 Savour local dishes such as Udang Bakar Sambal Matah or Sop Buntut Si Mpok .
The restaurant is also open 24 hours a day so you know where to go if you need a tasty refuel during the odd hours while you’re in Bali 😉
Credit: @familjenyrvader on Instagram
Food status: Halal certified, prayer rooms available at the hotel Address: Jl. Raya Kuta No.88R, Kuta, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia Opening hours: 6am – 10am, 11am – 11pm daily Contact: +62 361 755264
5. Warung Makan Nikmat Halal
Credit: @rui3310 on Instagram
Operated by a local Balinese family, Warung Nikmat serves home-cooked Javanese food 😋 You’ll find tons of locals enjoying their meals there too, and that’s when you know the food is as good as it gets. All you have to do is point to the dish you want, and the friendly ladies behind the counter will serve you right away! Enjoy some of the best local dishes such as perkedel , beef rendang , and ayam penyet 😍
#HHWT tip: Try and get there early since most of the dishes tend to sell out by 2pm!
Credit: @tole_meong19 on Instagram
Address: Jl. Bakung Sari, Gg. Biduri No.6A, Badung, Kuta, Bali 80361, Indonesia Opening hours: 8am – 9pm daily Contact: +62 361 764678
6. Ayam Bakar Wong Solo
Credit: @sydzrayusoff on Instagram
If you’re a fan of grilled chicken then you must drop by Ayam Bakar Wong Solo. The eatery is a popular food chain across Indonesia and even has a large following from travellers overseas.
It’s signature offerings are platters known as paket , that serve different types of chicken (grilled or fried), sambal , side meat of gourami, duck or catfish, tofu, tempeh , sliced cucumber, seared eggplant, and white rice – that’s a really filling meal right there! If that’s not enough for you, they also serve plenty of other local dishes such as nasi goreng , gado gado and mie goreng 😊
Credit: @firman_rahul_khan on Instagram
Address: Jalan Raya Kuta No.87, Kuta, Kota Denpasar, Bali 80361, Indonesia Opening hours: 9am – 11pm daily Contact: +62 361 763487
7. Bale Udang Mang Engking
Credit: @baleudang on Instagram
A serene, spacious eatery surrounded by bamboo interiors and plenty of greenery – and there’s two of them! One in Kuta and one in Ubud 😊 Families and friends will enjoy sitting in one of their ‘floating’ traditional bamboo pavilion huts (known as bale, hence the name) surrounded by a large serene koi and tilapia fish pond.
Enjoy a Sundanese seafood style menu while taking in the stunning scenery. Feast on scrumptious Sundanese delights such as shrimp, beef, and duck. Udang means prawn in Indonesian, and with a name like Udang Bale Mang Engking, you know you have to try the prawn dishes such as grilled, steamed, stewed, and crispy deep fried!
#HHWT tip: The Kuta branch also has a playground for kids to enjoy the outdoors too!
Credit: @baleudang on Instagram
Food status: Halal meat available, prayer facilities available Address: Jl. Nakula, Jl. Sunset Road No.88, Pemecutan Klod, Kec. Denpasar Bar., Kota Denpasar, Bali 80119, Indonesia Opening hours: 11am – 11pm daily Contact: +62 815-2904-0654

Read More…

London Supper Club Experience – Makan Malaysia

London Supper Club Experience – Makan Malaysia 10, 2019
Malaysia is one of those countries that I came very close to visiting but never quite made it to. My brother studied in Malaysia for several years, but me, being a broke graduate back then, never got around to planning a trip to visit him (a decision I regret profoundly).
I have also never tried Malaysian cuisine before. Although a number of restaurants have sprung up in London recently that specialise in Malaysian cuisine, I am yet to explore them. Much like the country, the cuisine remains relatively unknown to me.
Which is why, when an opportunity presented itself to review a Malaysian Supper Club (via Love Pop Ups London ), I immediately grabbed it with both hands! The supper club is called Makan Malaysia (Makan means “to eat”) and is jointly run by Su and Kat, who are childhood friends with a shared passion for food and cooking.
Originally from Malaysia, both have made the UK their home and share their culinary expertise by organising intimate supper clubs, pop-up dinners, online shops and catering for themed weddings and events.
Kat is still in a full time job and their aim is to retire completely from their day jobs by the end of the year and turn Makan Malaysia into a full time commitment. They work very well together, each tapping into their strengths. Su, who naturally comes across as a people person, handles all the marketing and sourcing of ingredients. Kat, reportedly the shy one, project manages the kitchen with her super organisation skills.
The ingredients are feverishly sourced by Su from local Malaysian and Indian stores in Reading, who also supply to local Asian restaurants and takeaways. Most of the time, the food is cooked in Su’s certified home kitchen and brought to different venues for final touches. They have had events all across London, in Reading and Henley-on-Thames; the one we attended in Battersea was their sixth supper club.
The location for this most recent supper club was London Cooking Project , a unique venue in Battersea (a short bus ride from Clapham Junction Station). During the day, this light-filled space functions as a community kitchen for the locals and underprivileged who come here for a hot meal. But during the weekends, its vast, open-plan kitchen and dining space offers young and upcoming chefs and cooks a platform to showcase their food in the form of supper clubs and other related events. Not only do they provide the venue but support the events by supplying their own kitchen porters to help clean and wash the dishes. The only issue I found with the venue was the acoustics, which were not conducive for intimate conversations amidst a large gathering, something that is needed in a supper club scenario.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by Su, whose infectious and enthusiastic smile immediately put us at ease, dispelling any anxiety of dining with complete strangers.
Over mouthfuls of Rainbow Crackers (made of tapioca and fried in oil, served with a Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce), we got to know our neighbours a little bit, most of whom were very well-travelled and have been to Malaysia before so are aware of what authentic Malaysian food really tastes like. I was becoming increasingly aware this was going to be a tough crowd to impress and looked forward to hearing their opinions about the food. Su and Kat definitely had their work cut out.
Conversations about food and travel deepened over the first course of moreish and spicy Sambal Samosas , crispy Sesame Tofu Pops and silky Money Bag Dumplings (made of rice flour), the latter of which were engorged with a delicious, earthy vegetable filling.
I liked my starter of Hainanese Roast Chicken on a Bed of Beansprouts . It came served with Ginger Garlic Sauce, Sambal, Sweet Soy Sauce . The chicken was succulent to taste but I thought it was a bit heavy on the dark soy sauce. The tangy, chilli sambal definitely lifted the dish by adding a bit of zing to it.
Next up was the Assam Boi, which is something I haven’t had before. It was dried sour plums and acted as a palette cleanser before the main course. It reminded me of a sour sweet I had back home in India as a child. I wasn’t mad keen on it, but it was good to try something I have never tried before.
The course I was most looking forward to was the Main Course: Nasi Biru (blue rice) Beef Rendang (dry coconut curry) Acar Timun Nenas (pickled cucumber and pineapple) Telur Masin (salted duck egg) Coconut Flaked Seaweed Sambal Beans
It was a kaleidoscope of exciting flavours and interesting textures on a plate. The signature blue rice (the distinctive colour coming from steaming it with natural butterfly pea flower, lemon grass and pandan leaf) had a very subtle earthy and lemony flavour to it. It worked well with the salty eggs and spicy sambal seaweed. The beef was rich and chock full of meatiness.
The strong finish came from a trio of desserts that included: Kuih Lapis (steamed layer cake infused with rose water) Pandan Infused Sponge Pulut Tekan (sweet, sticky rice infused with butterfly pea flowers)
By the end of those courses, the wine had well and truly flown into my system so I will be honest here and say I don’t remember the exact taste of it all. But I remember having a distinct fondness for the Pandan Infused Sponge and the steamed layer cakes which were deliciously gelatinous, chewy and playfully colourful to look at.
The success of a supper club not only depends on the quality of food but how it makes you feel at the end of it. Kat and Su put their heart and soul into it and managed to create a jolly and buzzy atmosphere where everyone got cozy with their neighbours and by the end of it all were smiling and laughing. It felt like one big dinner party of friends with delicious food and flowing wine.
Overall, the food was delightfully regional and very well-received. My discerning, well-traveled neighbours thought the food could have been spicier but I was happy with the medium level heat. The menu had global inflections of Indian and other Asian cuisines that naturally resonated with me and left me feeling inspired to explore more of this eclectic cuisine.
If you want to find out where Makan Malaysia are holding their next Supper Club, please check their website www.makanmalaysia.co.uk or follow them on Instagram @makanmalaysiauk
Disclaimer: I was invited to review the supper club and our tickets were complimentary via Love Pop Ups London but all opinions and photos are mine.

Read More…

‘I am the most beautiful democratic relationship’: Ravinder Singh’s new novel celebrates friendship

Print
“What! You told her you are a prince?” Manpreet’s voice was incredulous.
He had arrived in the hotel about fifteen minutes back. Earlier, on Yaar Anmulle, Ravin had sent detailed directions for getting to the hotel from the airport, including instructions on how to buy the three-day public transport pass. He knew Harprit and Manpreet would connect to the airport WiFi as soon as they landed. However, Manpreet had a different plan. What? Read endless messages just to reach the hotel? Chuck it, he had thought to himself at the exit of the airport and screamed, “Taxi!”
Thirty minutes later, rolling his luggage behind him, he had entered their hotel room. Ravin and Amardeep had jumped up in order to greet him. The hugs were tight, the pats on the back were loud and the spirits were high. Manpreet’s arrival had brought in a new wave to the bonhomie Amardeep and Ravin had been sharing for the past fifteen hours.
That was when the landline phone in their room had rung.
Ravin had taken the call. On the other side of the call, there was someone from the hotel staff. She had a request to make: Could they please not be so loud? The guests in the room next to theirs had complained.
Ravin had immediately begged her pardon and promised to oblige.
The three had agreed to tone it down, but that didn’t mean the celebrations needed to stop. Manpreet had pulled out the last available pint of beer from the mini-fridge for himself and joined his friends who were already holding their respective bottles. They had raised a toast, cheered and made themselves comfortable on the bed and couch next to it. Someone had mentioned to check on Harprit’s whereabouts. However, at the same time, somebody else had pointed out that they had run out of beer. All thoughts related to Harprit were unanimously dismissed in favour of making a call to room service.
Right after the call, Ravin had mentioned the trick Amardeep had played on him.
“Not a prince. The prince. The crown prince,” Amardeep clarified with immense pride and took a giant gulp of beer.
“And she believed you?” Manpreet was incredulous.
“His turban and beard made her believe him. She thought he was from an Indian royal family,” Ravin said.
“Lucky you. Had this been another place, she might have thought you were a Talibani or from ISIS,” Manpreet said ruefully. He had had such experiences in the US.
“After what he did to me, I wish she had thought of him as one of them only,” Ravin complained.
Manpreet chuckled and looked towards Amardeep to throw some light on what Ravin meant.
“Well, a prince is meant to travel with his servant,” Amardeep said.
“Oh! What! Hahaha!” Manpreet burst out into guffaws, and encouraged by it, Amardeep joined in. As Ravin watched the two having a good time at his expense, his brows furrowed.
“Wait! Didn’t she ask you about why you were roaming the streets without a cavalcade?” Manpreet asked after he’d finally stopped laughing.
“I was lucky. She didn’t,” he answered, amazed at himself at how easily the woman had believed him.
“And what would you have said if she had asked you that?” Ravin asked, curious.
“Hmm…let me think.” Amardeep closed his eyes for a moment and then opened them. “That I am a minimalist prince!” “Bravo!” Manpreet clapped and then said, “A minimalist pedestrian prince along with his servant. You two make a good story.”
“And I might have to write one to settle scores,” Ravin said, giving Amardeep an annoyed look.
“Talking of writing stories,” Manpreet added, changing the course of the discussion, “Ravin, please could you turn off the author in you while giving instructions on how to reach from point A to B?”
Amardeep chuckled.
“What do you mean? It didn’t help you?” Ravin asked, surprised.
“I didn”t even read those chapters you had sent,” Manpreet said, throwing his hands up in the air.
“Chapters!” Amardeep repeated that word, laughing out loud.
“Shut up!” Ravin shouted at Amardeep first and then turned to Manpreet.
“How did you get here then?”
“I took a taxi.”
Just then, there was a knock on the door. Amardeep got out of the bed to answer it.
“Are Raam j !” came a loud voice.
The last one in the gang had arrived. Once again, the Punjabis went berserk with their ritual of loud greetings.
(I’ve observed so many friends. But then, when it comes to Punjabi friends, you see, this breed of human civilisation doesn’t know how to contain the joy. They have to release it as soon as possible, as loudly as possible. It’s as if it is their moral obligation to let the world around them know that they are happy. They can’t be privately happy. It has to be announced in the public domain.)
As they were still cheering and whooping, the landline phone in their room rang. The noise suddenly died down. Ravin stretched his arm and pressed the speaker button. It was the lady at the reception, and in her beautiful voice, she proceeded to utter some not-so- beautiful words.
“Sorry sir, but I am going to ask you again to do something you don’t like to do, only this time you will have to do it.”
“WHICH IS?” Harprit shouted.
“Please don”t be loud.”
“Oh sorry!” he apologised and then lowered his voice and repeated his words, “Which is?”
The others in the room laughed at that. Amardeep explained, “Dude, she is referring to us being loud in the room.”
“Oh!” Harprit exclaimed, embarrassed.
“Thank god!” said the receptionist.
“We promise to keep it down, ma’am,” Ravin said in a voice that was assuring enough for the lady.
“I hope you mean it this time,” she said before hanging up.
There were two rooms booked in Ravin’s name. Each had a king-size bed in it. However, no one bothered to open the second room as it wasn’t needed till night fell. They wanted to spend as much time with each other as they could. After all, it had been many years since the four of them had hung out together under one roof.
By four in the afternoon, the boys realised that they were starving. The weather was pleasant and they decided against ordering room service, choosing instead to step out of the hotel.
They looked up the nearby restaurants on Google Maps. The hotel being centrally located, they were close to a lot of highly rated eateries.
Harprit and Amardeep wanted to eat something European, try the local cuisine. However, for the sake of friendship, they found themselves heading towards an Indian restaurant. Manpreet had literally begged for it.
“Bhai, chhe dino se pasta, pizza aur croissant kha kha ke tatti band ho gai hai. Kuch desi khilwa do, please (Brothers, six days of eating pizza, pasta and croissants has led to constipation. Let’s eat Indian, please)!” Manpreet said, describing the food he had eaten in Spain.
“Thanks for the warning, MP,” Ravin said drily.
Excerpted with permission from The Belated Bachelor Party , Ravinder Singh, HarperCollins India. Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here . We welcome your comments at .

Read More…

Kids make murukku and learn about Indian culture, Arts

This week, children aged five to 12 will get the chance to flip their own prata and make their own murukku as part of the Indian Heritage Centre’s (IHC) “Little Indian Chefs!” Heritage Hunt.
Held tomorrow and on Saturday as part of the National Heritage Board’s Children’s Season, the fourth edition of the IHC’s annual Heritage Hunt will take young ones on a learning journey around the Little India precinct to learn about Indian cuisine and meet foodstall owners, including vegetable sellers and sweets chefs.
Ms Siti Asmah, 30, manager of education and outreach at the IHC, says: “This year, we have decided to partner Little India’s foodstall owners so that participants can try their hand at making Indian dishes and snacks, an opportunity they are unlikely to get in their classrooms.”
BOOK IT /”LITTLE INDIAN CHEFS!” – HERITAGE HUNT @ IHC WHERE: Indian Heritage Centre, 5 Campbell Lane
WHEN: Tomorrow and Saturday, various sessions from 10am to 1pm
ADMISSION: Free
INFO: ihcprogrammes.peatix.com
The participants will also get to snack on traditional Indian treats such as laddoo, a sweet made of flour, and learn about different types of vegetables used in Indian cooking.
Several stall owners will also pitch in to share their knowledge about the origins of the food they sell and the significance of the snacks and dishes in Indian culture.
“We have always partnered the shop owners of Little India for the IHC’s Heritage Hunts because they are regular and enthusiastic programme partners, and they serve as authentic learning resources for our children’s programmes,” adds Ms Siti.
The 11/2-hour session will be conducted by students from ITE College West, who will serve as station masters and facilitators.
The students will also inform participants about the importance of various foods in Indian culture and their symbolic meanings, such as how the banana leaf represents prosperity and fertility.
Ms Siti says: “We hope participants will learn more about and experience Indian heritage and culture in a fun and engaging manner.”

Read More…

Azerbaijan’s Economics of Tourism

Azerbaijan’s Economics of Tourism By June 10, 2019
By Dr. Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan
Azerbaijan has become an ideal tourist destination due to the its increasingly growing influence in the global tourism market. It has become darling of the East and confront zone for the West. It is full of natural surprises and super lands. It is full of beauties and best hospitalities. It is indeed a wonder land where secretes of nature converges with diversity of multiculturalism. It situated at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, bordered by the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains, it was an important thoroughfare on the Silk Road, the ancient web of trade routes linking East and West.
Development of tourism sector is indeed a giant step towards diversity of economy and channels of production in the world and especially in Azerbaijan where sustainable development of the non-oil sector, in particular the tourism sector, is crucial at a time when it is impossible to fully rely on oil and gas industry. Azerbaijan ranked 25 out of 190 economies in the World Bank’s annual ease of doing business ratings, jumping from 57 in 2017.
Despite its rapid socio-economic development and massive industrialization, Azerbaijan has also protected, preserved and played an instrumental role in conserving Islamic culture, national ethnic heritage and local architecture. It is a “Cradle of Civilization”. It is home of “Gülüstan Monument”, “Noah’s Mausoleum” and of “Momine Khatun Mausoleum” in Nakhchivan. Azerbaijan the “Land of Fire and Pomegranates” has become a special tourist destination where visitors appreciate unique urban developments, a synergy of western and eastern architecture, natural beauty and outstanding hospitality offered in Azerbaijan’s oldest cities, spiced up by carpet museums and unforgettable tasting of Kurdamir’s locally made wine and the creamy goat cheese of Jalilabad. Indeed, Azerbaijan has many beautiful mountainous landscapes of the Caucasus having impressive cultural heritage sites, and unique Islamic Cultural sites are the highlight on every major city and district of Azerbaijan.
The writings of Sabir in Baku and of Jalil Mammadguluzadeh in Nakhchivan, embody the very essence of highly acclaimed patriotic movements and hardships of the Azerbaijani People, describe the country’s historic landmarks as well as its remarkable multiculturalism tradition that goes back many centuries.
In the modern world and global economic system, tourism is one of the most dynamically developing and profitable sectors of the economy for each country. According to The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) latest report travel & tourism sector has generated 319 million jobs, 10.4 % GDP globally during the last months. It experienced 3.9 % growth as compared to global economy 3.2 in the same period. In the globalizing world tourism is a lucrative part of the economy. It makes a great contribution to the budget of most countries.
Turkey, Spain, Malta, Iceland, Dubai and other countries are the success stories in the field of tourism. Tourism now has global importance; it regulates social economic relations, creates reciprocal ties between countries nations, and expands business. At the end of the last century, over 450bn dollars in revenue were obtained from tourism globally, and average annual growth was over 4.3 per cent. Estimates suggest that by 2020 tourism will reach its peak of development and the number of tourists will exceed 1.5bn that year.
Azerbaijan is among the fastest-growing destinations for tourists. The country enjoys a great potential for the development of tourism. Nature, climate, historical monuments, cuisine, rich culture of the people and other factors are the core strength for the development of many associated areas of tourism. There are wide opportunities for Azerbaijan to be recognized as a tourist destination in the world.
Most recently, Azerbaijan’s new tourism brand has won six nominations at the Transform Awards Middle East and North Africa event, which is organized annually by Transform, famous global magazine for rebranding and brand development.
According to Azerbaijan State Tourism Agency (2019), the country’s new brand “Take another look”, which was prepared by the well-known company Landor, won in the “Best use of copy style or tone of voice”, “Best place or nation brand”, “Best visual identity from the travel, leisure and tourism sector” nominations and received a bronze award for the “Best use of a visual property”. Furthermore, Azerbaijan’s new tourism brand was also awarded “Highly commended” status in the “Best implementation of a brand development project” nomination.
Azerbaijan is a country in the South Caucasus and in the world where ancient temples stand side by side with buildings designed by the best modern architects. The image of the capital, Baku, is a bizarre and at the same time harmonious combination of antiquity and innovation. READ PTDC motels staff to receive training
Azerbaijan today is known and recognized at the world level as a new attractive tourist destination on the Eurasian continent. Foreign guests speak highly about its qualitative infrastructure, unique architecture, balanced development in all sectors, ancient history and the rich centuries old diversified and dynamic culture, as well as the stability and security of a comfortable stay in Azerbaijan.
Undoubtedly, President Ilham Aliyev has played a central role in the development of tourism sector of Azerbaijan which has been further revolutionized through the implementation of various policies/programs and meaningful and interactive strategies for the comprehensive development of the country due to which tourism has become one of the most attractive sectors of national economy for inflows of foreign direct investments (FDIs).
During 2018, Azerbaijan took part in international tourism exhibition, World Travel Market in the exhibition center ‘Excel London.’ Within the exhibition, the Azerbaijan Tourism Bureau held a presentation of the new tourism branding of the country the “Take Another Look” marketing campaign.
It was a well-organized effort in the field of international marketing to offer as well as attract more and more minds and souls to visit Azerbaijan, the “ultimate beauty on earth”. One of the main goals of participation in this prestigious exhibition is to submit as many tourist offers to international markets as possible, to become a world-famous destination brand, and to introduce the unique material and spiritual heritage of the country to the global community.
Azerbaijan is now implementing a number of important measures to accelerate the development of tourism in the country, tourism being one of the main areas of the non-oil sector of the economy. Tourism is recognized as a sphere of economic activity that serves the interests of the citizens, also being a great source of income. The Azerbaijan tourism sector is becoming one of the main factors creating additional jobs, accelerating the development of road and hotel construction, stimulating the production of all types of vehicles, and contributing to the preservation of folk crafts and national culture. In short, it acts as a catalyst for socio-economic development.
The recent construction of many hotels and road-transport infrastructure meeting modern requirements, in various regions of the country, has increased interest in the regions of Azerbaijan among both foreign and local tourists. In the regard, on the decision of President Ilham Aliyev during 2018, the State Agency for Tourism was established. Tourism in Azerbaijan has been identified as a priority direction for the development of the economy, announced as an “industry of national importance.”
Moreover, Azerbaijan’s ‘Strategic Roadmap for the Development of a Specialized Tourism Industry” approved by President Ilham Aliyev in 2016 outlines the goals and objectives for ensuring the effective operation of the Azerbaijani tourism industry, which should “contribute to the formation of state and population incomes.” It is expected that over the next 10 years, the industry would make up to 10 percent of the country’s GDP. Moreover, laws “On the attraction of foreign investments into the country” and “On the repatriation of funds”, the state programme for socio-economic development and other important state documents help in the development of tourism. They have made it possible to attract foreign investors and businessmen into the local market.
Azerbaijan enjoys natural and mysterious abundance. Every nook, every region and the splendidly rich flora and fauna intrigue all who pass through. The most famous illustrious and courageous travelers compared it to the world’s most beautiful and picturesque sites. The French writer and traveler Alexandre Dumas, French archaeologist Jacques de Morgan, the Russian traveller Ilya Berezin and others commended the nature and people of Azerbaijan in their works.
Azerbaijan’s touristic potential is indeed, incomparable: from the Caspian Sea shoreline to the hiking and ski trails in the Caucasus Mountains, the fascinating East-meets-West vibe, the richly textured gastronomical scene, and its quickly expanding contemporary arts reputation. Azerbaijan is an internationally competitive, premier four-season tourism destination where travelers have access to extraordinary experiences. Its fascinating beauty inspires the world to explore it. It has all the natural and geographic potential of a tourist destination. The shores of the Caspian, the Mugan, Karabakh, the Mil plains, the mountains, forests, rivers, springs, lakes, summer recreation areas, and historical monuments are headline tourist attractions. Azerbaijan enjoys nine of the world’s 11 climate zones, adding to the range of destinations on offer. As entrepreneurship grows stronger, the opportunities for the development of tourism centres grow. READ PTDC to set up new Tourists Information Centers at various airports
Azerbaijan’s tourism sector strategy emphasizes event tourism, such as hosting business conferences and international sporting events. The expansion of airline destination offerings and simplified visa procedures has also opened Azerbaijan to ordinary tourists from the Middle East. Azerbaijan Airlines, or “AZAL,” (passenger) and Silk Way Airlines (cargo) began direct flights to New York in 2014. The U.S.-Azerbaijan Open Skies Agreement concluded in April 2016 has led to a further increase in commercial flights between the two countries. AZAL and Silk Way have purchased significant numbers of U.S. made aircraft over the past few years and continue to expand and modernize their fleets.
In order to attract more tourists to Azerbaijan, the government simplified its visa regime, creating ASAN (“Easy”) Visa System to process electronic visas within three days of application for citizens of eligible countries. Additionally, in June 2016, single-entry tourist and transit visa fees were reduced to $20 from $50. In February 2017, a presidential decree to create fast track routes, including adding ASAN payment and visa terminals, for entry to Azerbaijan at border checkpoints from the bordering countries Georgia, Iran, Russia, and Turkey. Other reforms included establishing a Tourism Council chaired by the Minister of Culture and Tourism, opening 15 regional offices of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and appointing tourism agents in 10 countries. In 2018, an independent State Tourism Agency was spun off the Ministry of Culture.
As with other sectors, the hospitality industry in Azerbaijan is dominated by a small number of large holding groups. Several well-known western chains operate in Baku, focusing on affluent tourists, business travelers, and large-scale conferences and sporting events. The Central Bank of Azerbaijan estimates that 33.5 percent of all tourist services provided in the country were for business travelers. By contrast, the market for mid-range, two and three star hotels, boutique and bed and breakfast style accommodations, hostels, and entertainment centers are being further developed.
Azerbaijan has focused on event tourism to develop the industry since 2012. It hosted the “Eurovision Song Contest” and “FIFA’s U-17 Women’s World Cup” in 2012. It hosted the first-ever “European Games” in 2016. Moreover, Baku hosted the first of five “Formula One Grand Prix” events at the Baku City Circuit in 2016. Its capital, Baku hosted the “Islamic Solidarity Games” in May 2017. Most recently, 5th World Intercultural Dialogue Form has hosted in Baku 2019. It has made tremendous investments to build a new “Olympic stadium” and adjacent housing complex for international athletes. Azerbaijan is well-positioned to host large-scale international sporting events and has put forth candidacies to host future “Summer Olympics games”, as well as to host “World Expo 2025”.
The Republic of Azerbaijan is a miraculous country where splendid nature intermingles with centuries old rich civilization and traditions. Azerbaijan is a fairyland where fairies live in the hearts of tourists as well as locals. It is a beautiful country which has numerous places to explore. It has fascinating place to visit where common people are ever ready to hospitalize you. It is centre of humanity and birth place of ethnic diversity and pioneer of multiculturalism in the world.
Azerbaijan has great potential for the development of the tourism industry with such fascinating sights as ancient cities, palaces, fortresses, mausoleums, and mosques. Azerbaijan has always been famous for its sources of eternal fire the “atashgehs”. There is a place called Yanardag (blazing mountain) in Absheron and thermal springs in some parts of Nakhichievan, Kelbejar, Masali, Lenkoran, and Babadag provinces.
In Surakhani, there is a site of eternal flame. From ancient times, fire worshippers from remote places, and even Indian priests, came to Absheron in search of fire, and found it here. They built large temples here in Surakhani and in Ateshgah. There are more than 6 thousand historical architectural monuments on the territory of Azerbaijan. The natural climatic conditions of Azerbaijan are also unique. It has 9 climate zones exist out of the 11 in the world.
Baku and the Absheron peninsula; Nakhchivan, Guba-Khachmaz, Sheki-Zagatala, and Lankaran-Astara regions; and the historical areas of Shirvan and Ganjabasar are the most attractive for travelers in Azerbaijan. The lovely nature of these places, numerous ancient ruins, wonderful ethnographic variety and the astonishing skills of local craftsmen will leave an unforgettable impression of Azerbaijan upon its guests.
It is land of fire which full of useful energy, color, excitement, comfort and inspirations. It has rich nature, friendly climate, diversified culture, dynamic people, spicy foods and above all humanistic spirits to welcome all people irrespective of origin, race, color, caste, faith, religion or ideology. It is blessed with elements that will create good memories for tourists: rich history, ethnic and religious diversity, interesting cities to explore, delicious food and above all safety in the country. READ New National Tourism Policy in pipeline: MD PTDC
Azerbaijan is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, plus a number of other important places that have been considered for inclusion in the World Heritage Sites list. Right in the center of Baku is Icheri-Sheher, the walled city that once housed the entire population of Baku. The other site is Gobustan, home to hundreds of thousands of petroglyphs depicting ancient life. Go beyond the obvious with trips to Sheki, Khinalug, Ateshgah, or to the many fortresses and temples that were staples of life in the region for centuries. Azerbaijan’s rich history can be explored at the many historical destinations across the country. Sheki and Shamakhi were capitals of empires that existed centuries ago, and their former imperial glory lives on in the historical sites and their surroundings.
Azerbaijan is the cultural capital of the region which has culture of Khinalug and the excellent craftsmanship of Sheki. UNESCO has recognized copper making in Lahic, silk scarves, carpet weaving, mugham and tar as Intangible Cultural Heritage.
From the shores of the Caspian Sea to the heights of the Caucasus Mountains, Azerbaijan offers a variety of natural destinations. Summer is a great time to relax by the beach, with a variety of seashore resorts on the Caspian Sea, while winter is the perfect season for a stay at a ski resort in the mountains. There are also national parks that are great for hikes and even longer trips, while picnicking has long been a treasured tradition.
According to its official figures, as many as 848,400 tourists and stateless persons from 170 countries visited Azerbaijan in January-April 2019, which is 0.1 percent more compared to the same period in 2018, according to the State Border Service of Azerbaijan. Russia accounts for 27.3 percent of the foreigners who arrived in Azerbaijan during the reporting period, while Georgia accounts for 26.8 percent, Turkey 11.1 percent, Iran 8 percent, the UAE 3.8 percent, Ukraine and India 1.8 percent each, Pakistan 1.4 percent, Iraq 1.3 percent, citizens of other countries 16.6 percent, and stateless persons 0.1 percent. Men accounted for 69.5 percent of the visitors, while 30.5 percent were women. Compared to January-April 2018, the number of Egyptian citizens visiting the country increased by 2.2 times, Saudi Arabians 1.9 times, Indians and Turkmens 1.8 times, Chinese 1.6 times, Japanese 37, 1 percent, Canadians 31.8 percent, Pakistanis 28.8 percent, Georgians 22.6 percent, Polish 20.8 percent and South Koreans 20.5 percent.
Meanwhile, the number of tourists from the EU countries increased by 7 percent in the first four months of 2019 and reached 34,200 people, and of those from the Gulf countries decreased by 27.5 percent to 142,900 people. Azerbaijan, the popular destination for many tourists, attracts millions of visitors every year. The beautiful nature of Azerbaijan, hospitality of its people, the country’s capital with its super modern and ancient buildings draws the attention of all tourists visiting this South Caucasian country.
Azerbaijan and Pakistan are going to open charter flights. The number of Pakistani tourists visiting Azerbaijan is growing. Thus, in 2018 more than 41,000 tourists from Pakistan visited Azerbaijan and it is expected that their number will increase in 2019 as well.
The promotion of tourism potential of Azerbaijan, simplification of visa regime for Pakistani citizens and the launch of the ASAN Visa system increased the number of Pakistani tourists visiting Azerbaijan. The work on the establishment of direct flights between the two countries is currently underway. After its completion, it is expected that the number of tourists will grow significantly. As many as 17,558 Pakistani tourists came in Azerbaijan in 2017, 3,998 in 2016, 2193 in 2015, and 1,817 tourists in 2014. The number of Pakistani tourists visiting Azerbaijan has increased by more than eight times over the past two years which is indeed a great achievement on part of Ali Alizada, Ambassador of Azerbaijan in Islamabad who has been working tirelessly to achieve the dreams of “direct connectivity” between the two countries. He is also working very hard to convince Pakistani businessmen and investors to make investments in Azerbaijan where already 300 companies and entrepreneurs from Pakistan are working.

Read More…

Vegas part- 2

By Vivek Tewari Vegas part- 2
This is part 2 of my previous blog on the same place. You can read that by clicking here : Sin City and More
This is how it looks with those neon signs and a happening night life. Other than gambling, Vegas is famous for alcoholic beverages. Yes- beer, whiskey, rum, gin are easily available at shops. It is comparatively cheaper than other places and you will see people walking down the street with a mug of foaming beer in their hands. Vegas is also a smoker’s haven. All the casinos and hotels are open to smoke, so you can smoke while you play. People buy a glass of beer take one ash tray and sits on the slot machine smoking and drinking and loosing and winning money. A cigarette pack will cost you around $5 from a shop and a beer in casino is around $5 a glass inside a casino. Girls! Girls! Girls! Another attraction of Vegas. You will find a number of skimpily dressed girls on the strip. You eyes will pop out when you see the beautiful, sexy blond getting out of a top of – the- line limousine, accompanied by a fat ugly bald but extremely rich man like she is coming to any typical award winning ceremony. It’s not unusual to see girls sipping beer and kissing old men who are playing cards on the table like any Hollywood movie. Although PROSTITUION is illegal in Vegas, under Clark County regulations, and if you are caught you will definitely be behind bars, there is no dearth of girls ready for some fun. Girls advertise through newspapers and Handouts, which are found everywhere. Also, you will find many male or female Mexican/Indian standing in a line on the strip distributing small cards of girls available for prostitution, but my suggestion is not to take these handouts seriously- just throw them in a garbage bag as they are all illegal. Don’t get shocked if you see a truck on the strip with a huge advertisement of “HOT BABES- call on toll free number”, you will see it everywhere. Again just click a photograph for fun and move on.
In some parts of the counties of Nevada, prostitution is legal, with girls being advertised as a menu… where you can pick and choose one of your liking. Vegas is full of Adult stores where you would find a wide variety of things for adult pleasure – from DVD s to costumes. Some of these things are so ridiculous that you will be laughing just looking at them, specially the costumes. There are a few Nude dance bars where you can go and see topless girls. Other then this, there are many high profile topless shows in the casinos and hotels which are really expensive but classy. If you want to go in any of these shows check out the adult entertainment guide which is available on the strip.
Food
Food is not a top priority in this City of Sin. However, one has to eat sometimes. Of course like everywhere else you have a wide variety of selection from sushi, pizza, burgers, Chinese or Indian food. As I am a hardcore Desi food fan I found out one of the best Indian restaurant called TAMBA Lounge. They have very good buffet and you will see photographs of lots of celebrity including GUGGI (laughter champion) in Vegas. The best part about Tamba lounge is it’s the only Indian restaurant on the strip The other Indian restaurants are off strip like Indian Oven, Origin India, India Palace, Himalya cuisine. If you want to try out a Chinese buffet, there is one right next to the Tamba Lounge.
Other attractions
While you are in Vegas, don’t miss the chance to go to the Grand Canyon at Arizona. There are hundreds of tour operators who would provide you with a helicopter ride to Grand Canyon. The tour package includes picking you up from the hotel, taking you to the chopper, flying through the Grand Canyon and dropping you back at the hotel. They have different plans and with a price structure. If you are interested in just looking at the Canyon from air, that would be cheaper but it’s more expensive if you want to land and spend some time there . Most of the packages are with meal and takes around 3 hours 30 minutes from pick up to drop off and approximate charges starting from 250 USD per person depending on the kind of tour you want to take. The Grand Canyon tour is mesmerizing and once in a life time experience. In my opinion it’s a MUST SEE.
Quickie
The Price on this visit to Vegas would vary according to your plans. There are many packages that you can choose depending on your requirement and preferences. A 2 night trip (a regular hotel room and flight from LA) would costs $250-$300 per person. There are a number of buses too from LA if you have the time and the inclination to travel 8 hours to save the time. The cost for this bus trip would be approximately $50 If you have the time and the funds, I would advise you to book everything separately(lodging, travelling and the trip to the Grand Canyon) This would give you a lot of flexibility but not much savings.
Most of the people in Vegas are tourists and are very helpful. On my trip I lost my cell phone. I called the number, a couple picked up the phone and agreed to wait for me to come pick up the phone from where they had found it.
Most of the hotels have a kitchenette, and if you are in a group or with family you will save money if you do your own cooking.
If you are travelling with family and aren’t a gambler, wanting some touring and fun, 2 days is good enough for Vegas (including one day for the Grand Canyon) If you are out with friends, wanting to check out everything, plan for around 5 days.
Everyone is on a vacation there and people will not bother you generally, unless you do something to illicit a response.
Be ready for crude offensive comment or compliment from bar tenders. They say it lightly to make people laugh and that’s their idea of having fun, so laugh or smile don’t react aggressively to it. They don’t mean any harm.
Notes
Ones you reach McCarran airport remember you are in Vegas and just fly, do whatever you always wanted to do, have as much fun as you can, forget everything, don’t sleep, go out, eat less drink more, breathe less smoke more, do whatever is Forbidden at least once in a life time, there is nothing called SIN in this SIN CITY
Coming Up next: San Diego, California Vegas part- 2 10th, 2019 by Vivek Tewari Share on

Read More…

NHPC celebrates World Environment Day

NHPC celebrated World Environment Day across all its locations in the country on June 5. A plantation programme was organised at its corporate office wherein its CMD Balraj Joshi, director (Projects) Ratish Kumar, director (Personnel) NK Jain and director (Finance) MK Mittal planted saplings. Various activities such as cleanliness drives and painting competitions were also organised to mark the occasion.
SCOPE holds 45th AGM of governing council
The 45th AGM of the governing council of SCOPE (the apex body of PSEs) was held at SCOPE Convention Centre in New Delhi recently. It was attended by Rakesh Kumar, chairman, SCOPE and CMD, NLC India Ltd, Kishor Rungta, vice-chairman, SCOPE & CMD, FACT, and Dr UD Choubey, director general, SCOPE. A large number of representatives, including CMDs from public sector enterprises (PSEs), were present on the occasion.
HUDCO conducts workshop on curbing air pollution Dr M Ravi Kanth, CMD, HUDCO, inaugurated a workshop on “Clearing the Air – Combating Air Pollution in Indian Cities” on June 4. It was organised by HUDCO’s HSMI to observe the World Environment Day. He stressed the need to work for sustainable urban development to improve the air quality. He reiterated the Prime Minister’s call to move towards zero defect and zero effect – zero defect in production and zero effect on the environment.
42 Rayat Bahra students bring laurels in PTU exams As many as 42 students of Rayat Group of Institutions, Railmajra, Ropar campus, have brought laurels to the Group by their outstanding performance in IKGPTU exams held in November 2018. Dr Suresh Seth, campus director, said 42 students of various streams viz pharmacy, engineering, management and commerce achieved academic excellence. He congratulated the students and their parents on their achievement and wished them good luck for future.
Plantation drive marks World Environment Day at CVPPPL
On the occasion of World Environment Day, Chenab Valley Power Projects Pvt. Ltd. (CVPPPL) organised various events on June 5 and 6 at its corporate office in Jammu on the theme “Beat Air Pollution”. The programme started with plantation of medicinal plant saplings by Navin Kumar Choudhary, chairman, CVPPPL, and MS Babu, managing director, CVPPPL. Medicinal plants were distributed to the employees and their uses were also explained.
Jammu Tourism organiseszero-pollution event
Jammu Tourism organised a zero-pollution event at Mansar, near Jammu, on June 5 to mark World Environment Day. It was based on the theme of zero pollution emission and emphasis on minimum carbon footprints. In order to encourage environment- friendly practices, the participants were ferried from Jammu in electric buses hired from JKSRTC. A walk was also organised on the occasion.
Cervical cancer preventable, says Dr Swarupa Mitra
Cervical or cervix cancer can be prevented through HPV vaccine, said Dr Swarupa Mitra, senior consultant and chief of Gynaecological Oncology, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre (RGCIRC), New Delhi, at a conclave organised in Yamunanagar by the Indian Medical Association, Jagadhri, recently. Dr Mitra said vaccination can be given to young girls from 9-26 years of age which gives protection from cancer.
Capitol Hospital, Jalandhar, celebrates 5th anniversary
Capitol Hospital, Jalandhar, has completed five years of its establishment and to commemorate this event, a grand function was held by the management and staff of the hospital on May 25. The event was attended by over 1,000 guests, including doctors and eminent personalities from all walks of life. Rana Gurjit Singh, MLA, Arpit Shukla, ADGP, Punjab, were among those present. A cultural programme was also organised.
Vodafone Idea consolidates network integration in Punjab
Vodafone Idea has announced the successful consolidation of its radio network integration in Punjab. Punjab was one of the strongest markets for both Vodafone and Idea and post the network integration, the capacity has increased by 34% QoQ, leading to improved net promoter score and higher download speeds in Punjab.
Fresh meat brand ZappFresh launches operations in tricity
India’s first fully-integrated fresh meat brand, ZappFresh, has launched its operations in the tricity. With this launch, ZappFresh now has a direct footprint in eight cities across India which includes Delhi, Gurugram, Noida, Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula. Founded in 2015, ZappFresh has transformed the meat buying experience of consumers through its farm-to-fork model.
Small enterprises need to invest in tech, says Intel
As part of its commitment to empower individuals and businesses with the power of technology, Intel recently held its business solutions showcase event in Chandigarh. Aimed at highlighting the power of PC technologies and how they can enable small and medium businesses (SMBs) to be more productive, efficient and secure, the company showcased 15 business solutions for SMBs across diverse verticals.
Chandigarh’s first food flea market opens at Elante Mall
Chandigarh’s first food flea market was inaugurated at Elante Mall recently. ‘Bazaar’ is the first concept to have six award-winning restaurants under one roof offering world on a plate with multiple cuisines for all generations. From Indian to Chinese to Japanese, you name it and you get it.
American Express scheme to earn 10X reward points
American Express India has introduced 10X with Amex promotion for card members, enabling them to earn up to 10X membership reward points while shopping or dining at DLF City Centre in Chandigarh. The offer is on till July 26 and is also applicable on supplementary cards. On a cumulative spend of Rs 20,000 or more during the offer period, American Express card members stand a chance to win an Audi A3.
WK Life’s exclusive store inaugurated in Mohali
WK Life, a renowned lifestyle & electronic gadgets brand, has launched their first store of Punjab at Mohali. The store is well equipped with uniquely designed lifestyle electronic gadgets and accessories, catering to the youngsters of Punjab.
Morris Garages Motor India expands branch network
British carmaker MG (Morris Garages) Motor India has inaugurated its showrooms in Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Karnal, ahead of the launch of Hector later this month. With a network of 120 centres at present, the carmaker aims to further expand it to 250 centres across the country by September this year.
SBI staff plant saplings on World Environment Day
State Bank of India celebrated World Environment Day at its Local Head Office, Chandigarh, on June 4. Rajeev Arora, general manager, Network-IV along with Binod Kumar Mishra, general Manager, Network-II, SBI, Chandigarh Circle, administered pledge to all staff members for the conservation of environment. Saplings were also planted on the occasion.
Mahindra Group’s initiative for saving environment
On World Environment Day, the Mahindra Group reinforced its long-term commitment towards the environment with the announcement of its ‘citizens’ movement’ initiative — #CelebrateDifferently. Part of the larger theme of #RiseAgainstClimateChange, Mahindra’s new initiative aims to motivate citizens to plant a tree to celebrate the joyous milestones in their lives.
RK Chhibber takes over as interim chairman of J&K Bank
Rajesh Kumar Chhibber has taken over as interim chairman and managing director of J&K Bank. He joined the bank as a probationary officer in 1982 and has held various assignments from managing business operations at branch, zonal offices and at corporate level. His areas of expertise include credit, finance, IT, corporate & retail banking, risk management, trade finance, foreign exchange, business continuity planning, HR, banc assurance. Prior to this, he as executive president and worked as chief compliance officer of the bank.

Read More…

European Culture: Neruda Award & Culture in Crispiano (Satis Shroff)

European Culture: Culture, Wine & Olives in Crispiano (Satis Shroff)
COME with me to Crispiano, a lovely town with fragrances and flowers from the vineyards and olive trees in the Masseria, where the sun smiles all day. I never met such amiable people as the people in Crispiano and Taranto. Dolche vita and amore mio, Crispiano.
It lies in the region Ampulia in the province of Taranto in the Southern Italian Zone, and has a population of 13,809 . The people are called Crispianesi and the saint of the town is: Madonna della Neve.
The flight from Zürich to Brindisi was pleasant, even though the jet was full. I had a window seat on the left side of the Finnish jet and the personnel spoke German with a distinctly Swiss accent. It was fascinating to see Lake Constance (Bodensee) and the Swiss lakes reveal themselves only to be hidden by clouds, akin to those I’d often seen on Tibetan thankas.
Clouds of all shapes and sizes marked the journey and suddenly you noticed, as we left Venice behind, we were flying over the Adriatic Sea. The islands strewn along the Adriatic coast looked lovely. The endless blue of the sea, and beyond, towards the east lay the Dalmatian Alps and to the south Albania, Greece and Crete in the Mediterranean Sea.
Flying over Lake Zurich, past the Canton Schwyz and Klöntaler lake over the Glaner Alps. To the east the Albula Alps and Engadin, overflying St. Moritz and the bernine mountains to the east and Oberhalbstein to the west.
Crossing Bellinzona and over Lake Como and the town of Chiasso on our way to Italy. We left Lake Maggiore, with its lakeside towns Ascona and Locarno, behind. It was fascinating to note that the jet took course over the Adriatic Sea, where you could see myriads of islets. The water was glistening like diamonds caused by the reflection of light on the blue water surface. An amazing natural phenomenon as the jet descended on its way to the airport of Brindisi on the east coast of the Italian boot, behind Sicily.
* * *
Here I am on my way to Crispiano to attend the Neruda Awards 2017. How did it happen? I was happily writing articles and when I didn’t have much time I’d write poems or prose poems. I’ve been writing for internet websites since decades. Some websites exist still and some like the American Chronicle and gather.com have been sold and gone commercial. However, Blogspot.com and WordPress.com are still marching on and now you have Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, Boloji.com and a host of others. My experience is not to put all your eggs in one basket so that if one goes defunct, the others are still there.
One day an Irish poetess, Amy Barry, chatted on FB and she introduced me to Maria Miraglia from the Neruda Associazione Lit Club and soon I asked to be the Director for Germany of the Writers International Foundation under the leadership of Preeth nambiar, based in South India. Two German newspapers Freiburg’s Badische Zeitung and Kirchzarten’s Dreisamtäler picked up the story and I was interviewed by Anja Bochtel and Christine van Herk regarding the nomination for the Pablo Neruda Award 2017.
German reporters are very critical and sceptical about prizes for literature other countries and Ms. Bochtel asked particularly about the standard of the poems in the internet. Sometimes, I do admit the standard of the poems aren’t up to the mark because some poets don’t bother to double-check their poems and are poorly edited at times. At other times, there are painstakingly edited and re-edited verses which are a delight to read. Didn’t someone say journalism was literature in a big hurry? Hope this doesn’t hold for poetry in general.
I appreciate the work that is involved in organising such a big poetry and cultural festival in Crispiano this year, and in Taranto last year. This time there are five international poets and poetesses and the others protagonist, as they are called in Italian, are from Italy itself. Behind the scenes there are a lot of translations being done, which is a great contribution to world literature. The world literature has gone digital and it’s time that internet writers are taken seriously. Whether you publish on Amazon, neobooks.com , Lulu.com , Kindle or any standard publisher, the books are now offered online as cheaper e-books or standard paperbacks. Not only the internet publishers do it but also the traditional publishers to reach more people. Much like Neruda Lit Club, Pentasi B based in Manila and others like Roula Pollard and Dimitris Krakaitios based in Larissa (Greece), there are a good many websites that have been contributing towards the dissemination, popularity and popularity of literature around the world.
* * *
Here was I, originally a Nepalese, resident in the Schwarzwald town of Freiburg, on my way to Italy at the invitation of the Assoziazione Pablo Neruda in Crispiano to be presented the Neruda Award 2017. What an honour and delight after all those years of teaching Creative Writing at the University of Freiburg (ZfS) and poetry at the University of Education as well as the Volkshochschule in Freiburg and Dreisam Valley (Kirchzarten) and other workshops on Creative Writing for International Writers in Zähringen.
It’s really amazing how it really began. At school in the foothills of the Himalayas, I’d had English language and literature taught by the Christian Brothers of Ireland. It was a boarding school and was like a fortress, a state within a state, with the principal as the chief. The Brothers never told us which part of Ireland they were from though they’d make jokes about the Protestants and say: ‘What are they protesting about anyway.’ The Brothers knew everything about us school-kids but never talked about themselves. You couldn’t be warm with them and they wanted to keep it that way. In the days of the East India Company it was master-and-servants and in the school it was masters-and-charges, who paid for their schooling. No protests were tolerated and the school-kids had to stand like soldiers during the early morning inspection in impeccable school uniforms a hand stretched out with a clean, ironed handkerchief. If someone didn’t come up to the standards set the Irish principle could say to him in a gruffy, whiskey-driven voice and beef-red face: ‘Come to the office!’ That meant benders: whacks on his bottom with a leather strap. If you went out of bounds for even a second you were obliged to get benders. I had my share of it.
All the books we used came from England, even the science books. In the lower classes we did adventure stories like Robinson Crusoe and Moby Dick, King Solomon’s Mines and the Lake District poets.
At home my Mom used to recite and read from the Ramayana and Bhagavad Gita and in school we did ‘Tess’ by Thomas Hardy and ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ by Charles Dickens, Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth,’ ‘Julius Caesar’ and ‘As you like it’ and lots of poems by British and a few American authors.
The Christian Brothers expected us to recite poems, which was actually a good thing. I loved reading and reciting and doing questions from the context, writing essays, précis and analysis of stories. The final years at school went fast and suddenly there I was with a certificate from the University of Cambridge (and an Indian equivalent) in the hand and no more sitting on the hard old bench, do-da-do-da-day.
After school I went to Kathmandu for my further studies. I’d applied to the Amrit Science College in Thamel, and one fine day I received a positive reply letter from the principal of the college, a certain Mr. Joshi, with a PhD in Physics. We had to do a subject called ‘Panchayat’ which was mostly about the glorification of the Nepalese Royal family and how the Panchayat system from the Vedic times suited Nepal in every way, because Nepal was made up mostly of villages. It was a system about the five elders of each village in Nepal and the national religion was Hinduism, with the King and Queen holding the executive, legislative and judiciary powers.
At my second school St. Joseph’s, North Point, I met Prince Dhirendra Shah and he was in my batch. I and my friend Tek were doing our Bachelors in Zoology, Botany and Geology and Prince Dhirendra his BA in Geography at the Tri Chandra College.
Later, I went to Germany for higher studies and Prince Dhirendra moved to the Britain. His elder brother Birendra Shah became the King of Nepal after the demise of his father King Mahendra. King Birendra had a tough time with the Congress at the beginning of his reign and later the Maoists began overrunning the police and government check-posts. The movement started in western Nepal, later moving to central and eastern Nepal. Demonstrations and strikes were staged in all parts of the Nepalese Kingdom.
After I’d done my Bachelors I worked in a so-called English Medium School. In the prospectus they mentioned a lake but it was jsut a greenish, dirty pond with algae. The two headmasters were out to make money and I pitied the students. Some of them were Gurkha children and their fathers were doing service as soldiers and guarding the Sultan’s palace in Brunei, Malaysia fighting against the communists in the jungles of Kalimantan and in North Borneo. But the kids made the best out of the situation.
One day a dear friend’s father advised me to go over to The Rising Nepal’s editorial department. I went and was met by a guy named Josse who also had a public school background. He asked me which school I’d attended. The language was English and not the lingua franca of Nepal, which is Nepali.
He said he’d gone to St. Augustine in K’pong. Then he stared me in the eyes for a few seconds. I didn’t blink because this was a game I’d played often with my neighbour’s lovely daughter. We’d just play this staring game. And I’d always win. She’d either lower her eyes or blink. I remember a similar situation in Doris Lessing’s ‘The Second Hut’ in which a Major Carruthers hires an Afrikander named Van Herdeen. Did the editor look at the width of my eyes, the shape of my skull and how my legs were apart? How I stood there, a young guy fresh from college and stared at him in his eyes. He must have thought: this bloke’s okay, good character, good public-school-product, a gentleman.
‘Okay, you can start tomorrow,’ he said.
So I started working with the Rising Nepal, writing the second editorial and letters to the editor when there weren’t any, correcting articles written and submitted by Nepalese and foreign residents of Catmandu Valley.
Josse had said: ‘You’ll reach more readers that your school class.’
He was right.
I started writing a regular science spot column every Thursday and one day a Mr. Pandey from the External Service of Radio Nepal came to the office and said:
‘I read your ‘Bustle of Basantapur’ article and really enjoyed it. Would you like to write commentaries for Radio Nepal?’
I felt delighted. I thought for a second about the development issues but you really didn’t have much choice but to give the Royal Palace’s views in the editorials. Can I make it different with culture, perhaps?
So I started writing commentaries on Nepal’s development and culture which were read by Gauri KC in the evening programme.
You can imagine my surprise when I met Gauri KC, Shyam KC and other journalists at the Graf Zeppelin Hotel in Stuttgart. They’d accompanied King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya on a state visit to Germany. I’d received an invitation for the official reception at La Redoute in Bonn and also in Stuttgart. Frau Margot Busak was so kind to drive with me in her black Mercedes car. She died shortly thereafter.
In Freiburg I started learning at the Goethe Institute and reading Medicine. It was at the university that I attended Prof. Bruce Dobler’s Creative Writing semester. We did poems and Bruce was the one who got me interested in poems. At school poems were the works of exalted literary personalities, almost gods. Nobody taught us to write poems. We were obliged to learn English poems by heart. That was all to literature. No Irish Brother was interested in Creative Writing. It didn’t exist in their minds. We did write a good many letters, essays and précis though. There was a prize for performance in science but none for literature. It heartens me to note that in the German Gymnasiums the school-kids learn Creative Writing and prizes are given not only for science but also for music and literature.
Creative Writing has come to the Continent from the USA. British universities have also introduced Creative Writing in their syllabus. In Germany you can do Kreatives Schreiben in a few universities in Hildesheim and Saxony. The Frankfurter and Leipziger Book Fairs attract thousands of authors, readers and publishers from all over the world.
* * *
Since the sea is a bit far away from Crispiano its inhabitants cannot gather the frutti de mare, they have made use of the fruits of labour of the earth. The people of Crispiano grow wheat, grapes, vegetables, olives and make bread, wine and paste with their hands as ‘chiangaredd’ or ‘frucidd.’ The vegetables and fresh seasonal fruits are brought to the Italian table. There are many kinds of bread to be found in the Italian table. Bread could also replaced by legumes like peas and beans, which developed into excellent food in various dishes such as ‘ncapriata’ together with other vegetables boiled and sautéed with stir-fried onions.
On festive occasions the dishes are richer as ‘tien,’ meat and potatoes and, of course, ‘fecha scchet.’ This involves baking figs in the oven, additionally with toasted almonds and laurel. A typical speciality from Crispiano is the liver called ‘gnummredde,’ which is made from the entrails of lamb such as liver, heart and lungs, wrapped in a net and tied with guts, strewn with salt.
It reminded me of the time I was invited by a family Moosmann in the Black Forest to a Schweineschlacht. Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s ‘Slaughterhouse-Five is another matter with an eloquent anti-war message. In this case also, nothing was thrown away and big boxes of spices were used to make the meat tasty. The smell of clover, cardamom, paprika and salt emanated from the schlachthaus (butchery) to our nostrils. Even the blood was cooked with bacon to make Blutwurst. The person who kills the animal is called the ‘Schlächter’ and the butcher has a Meisterbrief and many years of training in his trade and an examination behind him.
‘The Agrigentiner (farmers) eat as though they would die the next day, and they build as they would live forever’ said Empedokles.
But when it comes to the fancies of our palate, we must leave it to Hippocrates, who said: ‘The tongue tastes the food, as though it were music.’
No question is more popular than that of Marco Polo (1254-1324): did the Venetian bring the noodles from China to Italy or was it the other way round?
The spices come from the countries of the four currents of Paradise: the Nile, Ganges, Euphrates and Tigris. Legends tell us the bird phoenix burns in a cinnamon (zimt)-nest, and one promises oneself that the balsam-spices have life-extending qualities.
‘I think, one finds in people who’re born near good wine are much happier,’ said Leonardo da Vinci.
This is the impression I had of Saverio, Ariel, Egidio and Adriano. All jolly men in the middle of their lives, which they lives with gusto.
It was no other than Nietzsche (Ecce Homo) who said: ‘The best cuisine belongs to Piemont. I’d say the Italian cuisine in Crispiano and Taranto was second to none.
This was a place where they love music, food and wine. The olive is reaped later in Autumn but you could, nevertheless, eat olives and tartufi (truffles) served with tasty risotto rice and delicate sea-food. You felt like a god, waking up in the beautiful ambient of Villa Marina in Crispiano, a short drive away from the town. You could bathe in the history of lovely Crispiano and the harbour town of Taranto, as told by my dear friends Maria and Saverio.
Maria is a cosmopolitan poetess based in Crispiano. You notice immediately that she loves meeting people from other cultural backgrounds. She told me she’d been to India last year and her question was: where is the spiritual India of yore? In Europe you always hear about India as the Lands of Spirituality with its gurus, pundits, sadhus and rishis. People in the streets of India tended to be business minded. She’d visited Jaipur and Delhi and knows a well-known poet from India.
I told her living in a subcontinent with such a big population isn’t easy. I was thinking about a book review I’d written about ‘The White Tiger,’a book about modern India. The German poet Günter Grass also wrote his subjective views about Calcutta.
Maria’s literary works have been translated into: Spanish, Turkish, Macedonian, Albanian and Azerbaijan languages. In the forward to her anthology of poems ‘Dancing Winds’ Yawchien Fang, a Taiwanese academic poet and writer, describes her book as a ‘modern classic with a magnificent poetry collection by one of the finest poets of contemporary literature.’ Further, he writes: ‘In many poems we can read the poet’s heart that wishes for a world united in love.’
Saverio Sinapoli grew up in Taranto, a town with big mansions and two bridges and a seaside restaurant with a magnificent backdrop of the Adriatic Sea. The sun was going down under the horizon of the golden sea and the Gulf of Taranto when we went for dinner and a promenade. Further southwards below Italy’s boot lay the Ionian Sea.
* * *
Journey Back: Ah, the sun is going down with a scarlet glow along the horizon, with greyish-blue clouds which look like the brush strokes of Monet and Cezanne on the heavenly canvas. The sun is setting behind the blue mountains as we reach Wettingen at a steady speed. The sun is becoming fainter and fainter and the scarlet hue has disappeared, now becoming yellowish with more bluish-grey clouds appearing and covering the sky above the horizon. Lights have started appearing in the townships that fleet by. One of the many long tunnels appears and suddenly there’s more light outside. Blue mountains appear in the horizon as we head for Basle Brugg.
My thoughts go to the burly Egidio Ippolito, the mayor of Crispiano, a gentleman with a positive Mediterranean approach to life. He’s interested in making Cispiano a great place to live in, and his deep interest in culture, not only of his Heimat but also cultures beyond the Mediterranean. I never met a more positive, cosmopolitan and sympathetic mayor in my life. He not only manages the administration of the town but indulges successfully in creative design. He invited us to try out his fantasy costume in the town council of Crispano.
Before going to Italy I sent a request per e-mail to the mayor of Freiburg for a small symbolic gesture for his Italian counterpart (I had an exchange of the emblems of Freiburg and Crispiano in mind) but didn’t receive a reply. So I rang up his ‘Vorzimmer Dame’ and she congratulated me on the Neruda Award but said: ‘Wir machen so was nicht.’ That was it. My heart sank to my feet. I had a strange feeling because this so-called Green City professes to be world open (even the Dalai Lama was greeted and feted by Freiburg City) but it did have its limits. So I went to town and bought souvenirs on my own. Andere Länder, andere Sitten. We, Germans, are know as stiff people. In comparison to my hometown Freiburg im Breisgau, the town of Crispiano and its mayor were magnanimous towards the poets who were invited and treated as special guests of the Neruda Award 2017.
Grazie Egidio Ippolito. Grazie Crispiano

Read More…