Move over Medical Tourism, #BegTourismIndia is the next wave !

A couple of days ago, news of a Russian tourist found begging outside the famous South Indian shrine of Kancheepuram went viral.

The backpacker from Russia, Evangelin apparently arrived in India recently. On September 24 he travelled from Chennai to Kancheepuram. After visiting a few temples in the town, he went to an ATM kiosk but was unable to draw money as his debit card’s PIN had got locked. After he was unable to withdraw money from the ATM, he got desperate. On seeing some beggars sitting outside the Sri Kumarakottam Temple, he joined them and started seeking alms using his cap.

Videos and pictures of Evangelin ‘begging’ went viral and media and digirati went wild over the story. The local police in Kanchipuram stepped in, and after verifying his documents, offered him some money to enable him to go to the Russian consulate in Chennai for assistance. This saga also prompted Indian External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj to tweet

The story does not end here. This week, the Russian tourist was seen begging in the busy T Nagar area in Chennai since Saturday. He was reportedly charging excited Diwali shoppers Rupees 100 (about $2) for selfies with him. Evangelin reportedly told the media that he had tasted ‘good money’ through begging and could use this to finance his travels in India.

TheHinduTourist
image: The Hindu

 

Russian consulate in Chennai had earlier reported that Evangelin had not contacted them and that they will assist him in when he contacts them. The Mambalam police in Chennai detained him after he continued begging in the city.  On being questioned, he told the police that he sought alms as per Lord Shiva’s wish and was quoted saying “I am a devotee of the Lord Shiva. I wish to travel across the country.”

Officials seem to be helplessly watching this saga unfold. The police was quoted saying “He holds valid travel documents and visa papers, and cannot be deported immediately.”

Indian entrepreneurs are exploring a variety of tourist ventures including Medical Tourism. The Evangelin saga  has interesting implications for #BegTourismIndia :

  • Enterprising startups may spring up offering #BegTourismIndia for backpackers
  • Tech savvy tourist-beggars may take to social media by creating facebook and whatsup group, sharing tips on begging, and about tourist hotspots
  • Some may offer Caucasian backpakers ‘coaching classes’ in the subtle art of begging at temple steps
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Grand, Green Diwali around the world this year !

Diwali or Deepavali is the Hindu festival of lights celebrated every year in autumn in the northern hemisphere. It is an official holiday in Fiji, Guyana, India, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and recently Sindh Province in Pakistan.

In the years past, American President Obama made a point of wishing Indians and the Indian-American community for Diwali (link). Last year, ‘candidate’ Donald Trump’s Daughter, Ivanka celebrated Diwali at a Hindu Temple (link). The Trump administration looks set for ‘grand’ Diwali celebrations (link).

TrumpDiwaliHindu
Image from The Hindu

 

The grand Indian festival of Diwali is traditionally associated with noise and din of firecrackers, sometimes in excesses.  As we approach Diwali this year – scheduled to fall on Thursday, October 19 – there is a lot of hype over ‘Green Diwali’

The Rangoli of Lights.jpg
Image: Wikipedia

The Indian Supreme Court set the ball rolling by banning fireworks in Delhi ahead of the festival this year. “Let’s try at least one Diwali without firecrackers,” said one judge as the court announced the order Monday. According to BBC

“The court said it wanted to test if banning fireworks would make a difference to Delhi’s air quality, ranked among the worst in the world. The ban on the sale and distribution of firecrackers will last until 1 November. Diwali falls on 18 October.”

Even school students are jumping onto ‘Green Diwali:’ The students of Sant Isher Singh Public School on Monday took out a rally. Principal Inderjeet Kaur Sandhu flagged the rally which commenced from the premises of the school. (TOI).

Supreme court’s directive is not without controversy as a Voice of America article describes

The order has raised a firestorm in the city of about 18 million as it gears up for Diwali on October 19. Complaining that the order strikes at the heart of a quintessential Hindu tradition, critics compared it to banning Christmas trees on Christmas. Jubilant supporters pointed out that the top priority is the health of citizens in a city where the air turns toxic at this time of the year because of slower winds and colder temperatures that trap more pollution.

 


Check out GaramChai.com ‘s feature on  Diwali in North American and around the globe.

 

Samundar by Babbu Maan has generated over 1.7 million views on Youtube!

Babbu Maan’s new music video on Youtube that has generated over 1.7 million views! 

Link to Babbu Maan’s new music video on Youtube that has generated over 1.7 million views!

“Music has a distinct place in my life. In this world of music, ghazals are something that touches my soul the most. The verses and subtle nuances open floodgates to the deepest emotions in me. There is nothing more beautiful than a ghazal composition” says the leading light of the Punjabi & Indian Music Fraternity, Babbu Maan who will mesmerize the audience with his silken voice in his forth coming light ghazal “Samundar ” to be released under the prestigious banner of Swag music.

“Samundar” seeks to transport listeners as it works its way to ecstatic peaks with driving rhythms, concise refrains and the spiraling improvisations at which Babbu Maan is unsurpassed. His voice has a raw, impassioned tone and an acrobatic agility. Whether he repeats a refrain with ever-increasing intensity, streaking through elaborate zigzagging lines, letting loose a percussive fusillade or sustaining a climactic note, he has made “Samundar” that united virtuosity and fervor.

Babbu Maan says “The song is a blend of melody, romance & depth. The music of the song assails your senses, calming the mind in one magnificent sweep of transcendental sound. Looking forward to the response from the audiences”

Babbu Maan is one of those singers & composers who require little analysis. Every aspect of his oeuvre has already been examined and written about. This quest for elegance in sound and avoiding excess in every aspect has also prompted this master musician to introduce new genres and songs to the audience. Driven compulsively to discover new sounds and meanings, he seems invincible. Babbu Maan competes only with himself, constantly resetting the rules of his own game.

Name of the song- Samundar; Released under the banner of Swag music; Music, Lyrics, Composition, Singer- Babbu Maan; Produced by- Munish Sharma; Video Director- Sukh Sanghera.

Sunny Leone’s commercials : Condoms and Ghee !

Canadian-born Indian-American actress and model, Sunny Leone who is currently active in Indian film industry is also making waves in the Indian Advertising industry.

Sunny Leone has worked hard to shed her image of a “former pornstar” but that reputation seems to be following her around. The “Navratri Themed” Condom Ad featuring Ms Leone faces opposition In Gujarat, Goa and elsewhere.

Now, there is news that Sunny Leone is planning to shoot a commercial for a much more uncontroversial product: Fresh Desi Ghee!

Sunny_Leone_GheeAdvert

“It is neither the gym nor the latest diet programmes, it is ghee that has helped me maintain my physique” quipped Sunny Leone.

In order to promote Dholpur Fresh’s desi ghee, Balaji Creators has roped in Sunny Leone in their latest commercial.  Commenting on the campaign strategy , Puneet Sharma of Balaji Creators says

“Featuring Sunny Leone for the ad has been great since she is the face & inspiration to many Indian women and epitomizes hard work and perseverance – an apt quotient for the product. This is the first time we are working with Sunny Leone, infact this also the first time that she is promoting a food brand. The back drop of the ad is very different from other ghee ads. We aim to transport the audience to a different era which epitomizes quality & originality which Balaji Creators stands for”

 


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It’s so hot in India, you could fry an egg on the sidewalk!

So hot that you could fry an egg on a sidewalk

We have all probably heard the saying “It’s so hot you could fry an egg on the sidewalk!” Turns out you could do just that if you happen to be in Titlagarh, Odihsa in India  where tempratures have touched a scorching 45.5 degree Celsius, second only to 45.7.

 

The video has been retweeted over 500 times with many expressing disbelief.

Q&A from Library of Congress:

Is it possible to fry an egg on the sidewalk if it’s hot enough?

Answer:  Yes, theoretically. But it doesn’t actually get hot enough.  “This question comes from the saying “It’s so hot you could fry an egg on the sidewalk!” How many kids, hearing it, actually try? Most likely they end up with a mess resembling scrambled eggs more than one sunny-side up. So what’s the problem?”

Summer camps for kids in India: Keeping young minds engaged

Kids around the world eagerly look forward to Summer Vacations. However, after a few weeks of fun-and-frolic, the dog days of summer begin to feel like they are stretching on. Parents look for avenues to keep their kids engaged and learning, giving rise to the cottage industry of Summer Camps.

The Oxford Dictionary defines a Summer Camp as “a camp providing recreational and athletic facilities for children during the summer vacation period.”

Summer Camps in Urban India

Summer camps in Bangalore and other cities in urban India have taken off in a big way. Little Vijay, our 7-year-old, finished his ‘final exams’ at a School in Bangalore by mid-March and my wife and I were wondering how to keep him busy and engaged during April and May.

Suja, my wife saw banners advertising a creative summer camp at Rangabharana Kala Kendra, an art and cultural center in Sanjay Nagar neighborhood, about a kilometer from where we live. She called up the folks at Rangabharana and inquired about the month-long program that would include arts and crafts including “Acting, Art, Dance, Film, Music, Performing Arts, handicrafts, paper craft etc.” The fee for the program at Rupees 3,500 sounded reasonable and our expectations of the program were tempered, and we didn’t expect much other than keeping our frisky youngster busy and engaged.

Summer Camp at Rangabharana Kalakendra 2017

After his exam, we went on a weeklong trip to visit my in-laws in Delhi and by the end of March, Vijay was ready for his first Indian-summer-camp experience.  He agreed to attend the summer camp with a bit of trepidation since none of his friends from school or neighborhood would be there.

After Day-1 at the camp when Vijay came back excited to tell us about the events of the day, Suja and I  realized sending him to Rangabharana was a wise move. As the month wore on, he continued to share his creative activities, crafts with a twinkle in his eye.

Kids performing in Cultural function at on the last day of “Summer Camp”

A few Arts and Crafts made by Vijay during the month

Rangabharana Art

Rangabharana Kalakendra is situated at Sanjay Nagar, Bangalore. Classes in dance are provided by this institute. The minimum age to get admission to Rangabharana Kalakendra is 5. One of the most prominent facilities available at this institute is the availability of individual classes.

Address: CA-5, 1st Main Road, 3rd Cross, KEB Layout, R.M.V. Extension 2nd Stage Bangalore

Indian Dance workshop in Grinnell College, IA

Summer Dance Intensive 2017

Hold the dates June 28-July 3
Workshop Teachers include Leela Samson, Madhavi Mudgal, and Rama Vaidyanathan.

VENUE: Grinnell College, IA http://www.grinnell.edu/

DATES – June 29 (9 am start)
June 30
July 1
July 2
July 3 (3 pm finish)
Please plan on attending full workshop

DANCE INTENSIVE: Dakshina will host a residential dance intensive between June 28–July 3rd at the scenic Grinnell College campus in Iowa. The classes will be led by legendary dancers Leela Samson, Madhavi Mudgal, and Rama Vaidyanathan. The intensive is recommended for advanced dancers who can work in a fast pace. The dancers will learn yoga, Bharata Natyam, Odissi (technique and dances), and choreography. After learning the solo dances, the participants will work with the guest teachers on adapting a solo item into a group format.

Students will perform the group choreography on the last evening of the intensive. Students will learn 2 dances depending on how quickly and how well they master each dance. The teachers will only proceed to the next dance after the dancers master the first dance. Students will learn a solo version and a group version of each dance.

Evenings will be set aside for practice, discussions, film viewings on dance. If you are working on your own choreography, the evening times will be perfect to receive one-on-one guidance.

***Workshop will only take place if we have 10 participants by the May 20th deadline.***

More details at  dakshina.org

FEES
Fees include housing, meals, and tuition for the workshop. We are doing this workshop at cost, and would gratefully accept any donations over the workshop fees listed below to help continue making these educational and professional opportunities possible. ***Workshop will only take place if we have 10 participants by the May 20th deadline. If Dakshina cancels the workshops, the fees will be refunded. Please email info@dakshina.org with any questions.***

Fees  $1075 if paid before May 20 ( $1175 if paid between May 20th to June 5th, $1275 after June 5th)


LEELA SAMSON
LeelaSamsonWideSmallLeela Samson is an alumnus of Kalakshetra. Her seemingly understated delineation conceals a powerful and inspired inner source, which gradually unfolds before the viewer. She is a virtuoso performer and a sensitive interpreter of the nuances of Bharatanatyam. Two significant documentary films have been made on Leela Samson – ‘Sanchari’ by Arun Khopkar and ‘The Flowering Tree’ by Ein Lall. Leela is the recipient of the Sanskriti Award in 1982, the Padmashri Award in 1990, the Nritya Choodamani Award in 1997 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2000. She served as Director of the Kalakshetra Foundation from 2005 to 2012. Spanda, a group that presents works conceived and choreographed by Leela Samson, attempts to explore bharata natyam. Launched in September 1995, Spanda now has an evolving repertoire. Spanda is ‘a vibration’ or pulse and is symbolic of the enduring and perpetual energy that is the life force of the universe. It acknowledges prithvi – the earth, as the central source of energy in the universe, as the nabha, the womb is the energy centre of the human body.

MADHAVI MUDGAL
madhavi-sepia350WidthContributing to the evolution of classical Odissi dance with her artistic vision and talent, Madhavi Mudgal is a renowned dancer, choreographer, and teacher. She has become India’s premier Odissi exponent, garnering awards and acclaim for sustaining the art form’s authenticity while pushing it beyond traditional constraints. Born into a family deeply involved in propagating the classical arts, she was immersed in music and dance from a very young age. She trained in Bharata Natyam and Kathak under great gurus and later turned to Odissi which she adopted as her preferred medium. She has trained under Guru Hare Krishna Bahera and Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra. Through teaching, performing and conducting workshops, Madhavi has been actively involved in propagating the art of Odissi in New Delhi and other parts of India as well as the world. She received the Sanskriti Award, the President of India’s award, the Padmashri, and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for her contribution to the world of Indian Dance. A frequent guest artist with Dakshina, Ms Mudgal is a nurturing teacher who pushes and refines the performance quality of dancers. She is known for her group choreography and will be teaching some rare North Indian abhinaya dances.

RAMA VAIDYANATHAN
RamaSmallRama Vaidyanathan is a leading exponent of Bharatanatyam, a popular classical dance form of India. She is undoubtedly one of the most sought after artistes of her generation having carved a name for herself in the Bharatanatyam World. She has trained intensively under the legendary dancer Yamini Krishnamurthy and the renowned Guru Saroja Vaidyanathan. Everyone who has seen Rama perform is struck by her unique thought process and fresh approach to dance. While deeply routed in tradition She has evolved her own individual style without forsaking the core principles of Bharata Natyam. She brings to her dance a rare sense of devotion and dedication, which leaves the audience with a sense of spiritual fulfillment. She has received the Kalaimamani, Nadanamamani, Natya Bhairavi, and Bharatha Rathna award among many others. A good friend and frequent teacher at Dakshina’s workshops, Mrs. Vaidyanathan will be leading classes in technique and group choreography along with teaching her signature Bharata Natyam dances.